Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Open Letter To Those In Charge Of The CPS Strike

nothing to do nothing to do bored bored bored.

Dear Rahm Emanual and CPS Teachers,

First I want to begin by letting you know I deeply respect both parties involved.  I also want you to know that I do agree that some parts of the contracts are flawed and should be hammered out.  I also have been enjoying this random extra time with my baby.  So far on this mini vacation we have completely remodelled, wallpapered and painted her room, signed her up and went to her first hip hop dance class, and today I even had a helper with sweeping and mopping my floors (which she LOVED to be a part of.)

 However, I feel I must tell you that this strike is complete and total horse shit and it is time for her to go back to school. 

Now before anybody gets all up in arms about this let me explain a little deeper why I feel this way.  When Rhiannon was in kindergarten I had a few issues with the school she was enrolled in, (with the school just generally sucking.)  Although I knew it wasn't that big of a deal at the time, I also knew that in the very near future I would have to either deal with their ignorance or move on to bigger and better places.  I chose the latter.  As with most parents, every decision I make is made to be in Rhiannon’s best interest.  I knew that I would not send her to the schools I was in nor did any of the other schools around that area impress me at all. 

(True story:  While registering for my high school classes my guidance counselor took one look at my math scores and told me that "Math isn't that important in life anyway.  She then told me of this system that lets people like me take two semesters of Algebra 1/2 and two semesters of Business math in order to get all of my credits for graduation.  Talk about not slipping through the cracks, but being shoved out of the way.)   

However, while doing my research I found many schools in the Chicago region to be exceptional.  I wanted to go to school here myself anyway, so I packed my bags and came to what Rhiannon and I called the "city of dreams".

This move didn't come free.  I payed a steep price to give her the phenomenal education she has received as to date.  In order to move here I had to legally give up every single holiday and summer vacation to her dad.  From the time she was six years old I have never shared a Christmas, Christmas Eve, Thanksgiving, Easter or even Birthday with Rhiannon.  To put it a little more in perspective THIS is what Rhiannon looked like last time I had her for Christmas....

Yes, I know, Awwwww.  

And here's the thing, I don't mind giving up all these things if it means Rhiannon is getting a great education and an opportunity to be so much more then I could.  I want her to learn as much as possible and be able to do whatever her little heart desires!  So you see, having her only get to experience four days of 7th grade this year is making my sacrifices feel like they are all for not!  I 100% agree with Rahm when he says this strike was avoidable.  I understand that striking after school starts feels like you have more of an upper-hand in this situation but the reality of it is this.  400,000 kids are the ones who are suffering.  You knew that your contracts were coming to an end.  You should have been working on new ones all summer instead of waiting till now.

Like I said at the beginning, I respect all parties involved.  I appreciate all the men and women who are teaching my daughter and helping me mold her into the wonderful young lady she is becoming.  But god damn.  It is time for this strike to end and for these children to go back to school.  I can't speak for anyone else's kids but mine is starting to bounce off the walls with boredom.  


Everyone who lives in the Crystalstew household

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Baby's Got A Brand New Bed

Yesterday, shortly after I put Clara down for her nap, I heard her yelling to me in pure excitement to "Come Look Mama!!!  Come Look Mama!!"  When I saw what she was doing I laughed and asked her to do it again so I could document it for the Mister, whom as expected, had a mini heart attack.


She was so damn proud of herself until a few hours later when she tried it again and became really scared.  So Mama to the rescue!  (The mister wanted to get her a "bigger crib".)  While his beloved white sox were playing I got to work in converting the crib to a real big kid bed.  

My baby is getting to big way to fast! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Self pity.  Every single person experiences this.  I do as well.  I get wrapped up in feeling overwhelmed at being mother, wife, house cleaner, meal planner-shopper-cooker, "bus" driver, etc. etc. and I  then feel overwhelmed.  Like things are bad.  Then I am brought back down to earth at how ridiculously lucky I am.  For not having a want in this world.  For my Mister, who always puts up with my ridiculous ante's and is a solid rock each time I need him.  For my children, whom are both brilliant, beautiful and HEALTHY.

I read this in its entirety today and wept.  I can not imagine going through this.  My Aunt and Uncle lost their first born son to brain tumors when he was around this little girls age as well.  I was to young to really comprehend just how they felt while going through this.  My heart breaks for you, for this woman and for every other parent who has to deal with this horrible disease. 

I hope you take time to read this story and perhaps give to their little girls organization.

Today I am reminded of how beautiful life is.  I hope you all have such a wonderful day.  As for me, I am off to take my baby to swing.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


(This definition is for my beautiful, dear friend Julie Lyn, who informed me I was "Doing it wrong" when I sent her a picture of our "Campground".)

Taken from  Camp:  tents, cabins, etc, used as temporary lodgings by a group of travellers, holiday-makers, Scouts, etc.

That being said I must also say that I don't do tents. 

I don't do sleeping on the ground.  

I definitely don't do cohabitation with bugs. 

 Or bears.  

Or racoons.  

Or anything else that isn't human, dog or cat.  

Now don't get me wrong, I have done my fair share of camping in my life.  My folks used to take us to Lake Shelbyville every year where we did the whole cooking over a fire, sleeping in tents and swimming in a lake you can't see the bottom of.  (Another thing I don't do.)   

I vividly remember the last time I did go camping like that.  I believe I was 24.  My then very outdoorsy boyfriend suggested we go camping in Southern Illinois over Thanksgiving weekend.  We visited with my family beforehand and told them how we planned to go camping to see some waterfalls and such.  Every one of my family members told me that I wouldn't last and I would be back at my mom's house before the weekend was over.  I was very offended and defiantly told them they didn't know what they were talking about, I was tough enough and to shove it.

(Very important side-note:  I am the most stubborn bullheaded person you will ever meet.) 

So off we went on this camping trip.  I made it through the entire thing.  However it was so cold it never got above 20 degrees the entire trip.  It was so cold, in fact, the freaking waterfalls we went to see were FROZEN.  In the evening we made a fire, drank a bunch of whiskey, I made a stew with 1/4 cup of pepper.  I had on coats, hats mittens and blankets.  

Even after all that I still couldn't feel my feet.  

So we went to bed.  I was wearing three pairs of woollen socks, two flannel pants, a t-shirt, long sleeve shirt and a hoody all while wrapped up in one of those mummy sleeping bags that is supposed to keep the crazy people who like camping in the mountains in winter warm and had it completely zipped up.  Still I froze my ass off.  For two whole days.  But I did it.  (see side note.)

Luckily, the Mister agrees with me and my camping ideas.  So when we took our family camping this is how we approached it.  I must say it was quite lovely.



Baby Backpack!!!!

 And when we were done exploring the beautiful outdoors this is where we slept.....

 Our little cabin getaway in the woods!

The Mister even made me a fire........(sans bugs!)

 And every morning after we rolled out of bed we stumbled out to the deck overlooking the lake to bird watch and sip on our coffee.  That was made over a fire.  From the gas stove.

Most perfect camping trip.  


Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Wata Pak

I hope everyone enjoyed their long holiday weekend.  We are very excited to be starting school this morning!  In fact we are so excited we all were up before or right at 5 am!  I hope we can keep this momentum going through out the year!

Since our vacation extravaganza, Little Miss Clara has demanded to go to a "wata pak" every single day.  Since yesterday was the last day we could I looked for the most fun + closest one to us and had a swim day with the girls!

(This was taken at Mt. Olympus in the Wisconsin Dells.  We are waiting for a 9 ft wave to crash into us.  If you ever get a chance to go there please do not pass up on Poseidon’s rage.  It was AMAZING.)

"Now it's back to school, back to school, to prove to dad I'm not a fool, I got my lunch bag packed and my boots tied tight, sure hope I don't get in a fight......."

Happy first day of School to all you crazy kids out there!  

(Especially to my favorite 7th grader!)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Family Vacation

So an over worrier, a perpetual planner, a tween girl, a toddler in the midst of her terrible two's and a puppy went camping for a week in the backwoods of Wisconsin......

That's it, folks.  That's the entire joke.

But seriously, the Mister and I took our entire brood to a little place called La Valle Wisconsin last week to have our very first family vacation before Rhiannon starts 7th grade this year.  It was a smashing success, for the most part.  

This right here was my absolute favorite part of the week. 

I swear this porch was made just for me.  I actually made the Mister take this picture so he could recreate it for me someday.

The book I'm reading in that picture?  It is called The Dirty Life: A Memoir of Farming, Food and Love.  I finished it in 4 days.  I loved it and highly suggest you read it.  Yes it is about a couple who put their entire life savings, blood sweat and tears into starting their own "whole diet" farm.  But it is much much more then that.  It is also about her personal struggle with whole heartedly accepting her new life as a married woman.  

As someone who has always been a fiercely independent woman, this speaks to so many emotions I am having right now in accepting this strange new role as Wife I have taken recently. I have been secretly wondering if everyone had a feeling of losing a part of themselves after they wed and it was just something that wasn't talked about, or if I was just a horribly selfish person.  I am glad to learn at least one other woman felt the same way almost to a T.

I know this rain we are getting is probably ruining some of your Labor Day plans but I am loving the pitter patter on the windows mixed with my old scratchy records!  I hope you all are having a safe and happy weekend!