Archive for the ‘it’s the little things in life’ Tag
It’s the little things in life. I say this quite often and think it much, much more. During a staff meeting (Oops!) I decided to dedicate more time on this little blog of mind making mention of the little things in my life that remind me how simple & precious life is. So this is the first official post in my It’s the Little Things series, and I cannot think of a better post to begin with.
I spent last night on a date with my boo, Max, after giving his parents (my dear friends, Michelle & Bayard) a date night of their own. After our usual evening of playing soccer around the building, eating dinner with Mickey’s Clubhouse on, and taking a bath (him, not me), Max’s adorableness decided to shine just around bedtime as he prevented me from covering his diapered-self with his pjs. Instead of indulging into his bedroom routine of reading books, Max decided to play peek-a-boo/ hide-and-go-seek as he ‘hid’ behind his clothes in the closet. I can still hear his little chuckle. After ten minutes of that game, Max and I found ourselves laying on the floor of his bedroom laughing. I ♥ Him So Much!
His parents came home shortly after and we all hung out for a little bit before I left this family spend the rest of their evening together. I said my goodbyes to my friends and Max, who choose to capture my heart even more by planting a goodbye right on my lips. (His dad was so proud.)
Thanks Max, and M & B too, for inspiring me to write my first It’s the Little Things post. I’m sure you (all) will be the inspiration behind many more special moments in my life. XOXO
“Oh, and when you figure out, Love is all that matters after all. It sure makes everything else, seem so small.”
Carrie Underwood sang these words (to me) and captured my attention today as I rode the bus this morning on my way to our new work office (finally) in downtown Chicago. I thought of Max. I missed Max. But I am so glad that his parents are back in town now because we both missed them soooooo much!!
Actually that’s a perfect segue into what I want to say first. Max’s parents, my dear friends, Michelle & Bayard, truly deserve an A*MAY*ZING. Max is the well-mannered, kind-hearted, adventure-seeking, lovable little boy because of his parents have done such a remarkable job of raising him. I’ve told them both this and will continue to do so, and my hope is that they really do believe me. I feel blessed to have all three of them in my life and so grateful that Michelle & Bayard trusted me enough to look after Max this weekend. They are most certainly family to me, now more than ever. Seriously, Michelle & Bayard, and little Max too, thank you for welcoming me into your family! Love you all!
Now, let me officially declare my love for little Max. While this weekend was a rarity for the Single Girl in the City (aka Yours Truly), I worry that words will not accurately express how special this weekend was for me. So please be aware that as I type this post, I have a huge smile on my face and a heart filled with gratitude for this experience.
Yesterday, on my final morning with Max, I called my mom and the first words out of my mouth were, “Okay, so you may very well get those grandchildren you’ve always hoped for.” While all my friends (especially those with kids) joke that this was ‘the best form of birth control’, I must admit that it’s only temporary as I realize that I’m just not ready…yet. For now I truly believe that my place is to continue my volunteer work and be in my friends’ kids lives. Who the heck knows what my future holds, but for the first time in my life I really do believe that (my own) children could be a part of it.
This weekend with Max really was incredible, filled with smiles, laughs, hugs & kisses, and lots of running around. I loved every moment of it! This was certainly one of those precious times in life when one finds himself/herself perfectly content with where he/she is. I felt like I was where I needed to be and, honestly, where I wanted to be too. While we had our share of fun these last few days, my favorite moments with Max were when he let out that cry every morning that translated into “Kristen, I’m awake. Come get me. It’s time to play (and eat) again!” And play we most certainly did. With the help of Max’s other girlfriends- Sadie, Stef, Dina, and Lonni- we found ourselves playing A LOT this weekend.
We kept things simple on Friday, staying in other than a quick trip over to see Dina at the MAW staff for some ball playing. Now staying in with Max means that we played a lot of soccer, ventured around many condo floors, watched many episodes of Mickey’s Clubhouse, and ate (literally) tons of food. Now if that’s not the perfect Friday date, then I don’t know what is?
However, Saturday was a completely different story as Max and I found ourselves venturing off to the suburbs to volunteer for Make-A-Wish with Dina and our new friend (another girlfriend of Max), Lonni. Yes, Max was the Make-A-Wish mascot and hands-down the best looking, most irresistible boy there!! Seriously, how adorable does he look in this tee-shirt?! And while he certainly did his fair share of running around, I have to say that Max behaved himself quite nicely. (Note: He is NOT drinking from that Coca Cola bottle in the photo. He was just playing with it.)
I have to take the time here to thank Dina & Lonni for playing with us on Saturday. Max was sooooo happy to flirt with 🙂 and I am so appreciative for their kindness in entertaining my little boo.
After a playdate on Saturday afternoon for Max with his girlfriend, Sadie, and my own lady date with Lonni and Dina, I headed back to prepare of our slumber party with Stef. Max was so happy to see his other girlfriend, Stef, and even welcomed her by showing off his Mickey Mouse balloon. When the exhausted little man went to bed, Stef and I continued our catch-up session with girl talk and a mini-Keeping Up with The Kardashians marathon(because we can).
Sunday finally came and we were ready to take Max out on a special date: To Shedd Aquarium. Stef & I were so excited to take him and enjoy quality time with our little boo in one of the best places in Chicago. Waiting in line outside worried me a bit but Max found it as a(nother) opportunity to play, forcing me to chase him around in circles. (He’s a man of routine.)
We finally made our way into the aquarium and Max began enjoyed all of the fishies and sea creatures. We roamed around exploring the different sections, finally making our way to the sea otters and dolphin areas. (Note: I could sit by that dolphin tank all day writing, and one day plan to. It’s so peaceful.)
Finally we found the penguins (!) and Max LOVED playing in the little play area- riding the slide and climbing through the tunnel. Although, he sadly wouldn’t humor me by wearing the penguin outfit. (Michelle, I tried just for you!) Upon making our way upstairs for the dolphin show, Max got to ride in an elevator (Note: He loves elevators!) with a penguin!
Max enjoyed the dolphin show- and climbing up and down the 2-3 stairs in the aisle- but he was definitely getting tired. Yep, Nap Time! Max passed out in the stroller as we trekked back home for a quiet evening in…before Dad got home! Max and I enjoyed our final date night (at least for now) by simultaneously watching Mickey Mouse (on my laptop) and The Oscars (TV). He loved clapping along with the audience (!), but was not as happy when his bedtime rolled around. Neither was I to lose my cuddle buddy; however, I got a surprise at 4 am when Max woke up. I know he just wanted to make the best of our remaining time together. Right, Max? I cuddled with my boo as he watched Mickey on my laptop and I did my best to stay awake. Fortunately, Bayard (Max’s dad) got home late that night and came to collect his little cub after hearing us around 6 am. (Thanks again, Bayard. I love your son tons but that extra sleep was certainly needed.)
Monday, Monday. I made the Best. Decision. Ever. to take the day off and spend it with Max. After having morning playdate with his dad, Max and I got ready to spend the day with our friend, Sadie. The Wonderful Sadie who gave me a few hours of freedom to get myself showered and out of the sweats and run a few errands. I missed Max but it was nice to remind myself of the actual Single Girl in Chicago lifestyle that I lead.
After his nap, Sadie & I gathered up our boyfriend to meet Stef for a trip to… The Disney Store!! We all had so much fun, but not as much as Max. He literally ran around for an hour grabbing every stuffed Disney characters and bouncing ball within his reach. He couldn’t have been any cuter, and truthfully, he was very well-behaved as a 1.5 year old could be in his version of a candy store.
Eventually we had to burst Max’s bubble and head back home to prepare for the return of his parents. I was so excited for this family’s reunion, as I know his parents missed him as much as he missed them. This is truly a beautiful family- inside & out- and I am honored to know them.
Between you and me, everything is different now: From the moment my alarm goes off in the morning to the second I finally fall asleep at night. Max changed me. He opened my eyes to a new life in this big, bustling, windy city. He’s calmed my world down; helped me focus more on the little things; and encouraged me to take more time for myself. He has also inspired me to Be the Best Version of Myself that I Can Be, so that if I do become a mother (one day far, far away) that I Will Be Ready. And until that fate, if it does happen, then I’ll play the roles that God’s granted upon me: Daughter, Sister, Relative, Friend, Volunteer, Leader, Max’s Girlfriend (lol), and Supporter to All of the Kids & Families I find myself working with.
This post is dedicated to The Elfvin Family: Thank you, Max, Michelle & Bayard for this unbelievable experience and letting me be a part of your lives.
So…yeah…I’ve never really liked Christmas. I know, I know. I should expect a lump of coal in my stocking for admitting that, but it’s the truth. I’d try to explain myself, though figure it’s best not to out of fear that you’ll start calling me The Grinch. When this phenomenon began is a mystery to me. Maybe I need to be visited by my Ghosts of Christmas Pasts to uncover the defining moment that left me wishing that I could hibernate through December instead of having panic attacks in departments stores as *NSYNC and Britney Spears’ holiday tunes blasted over the fa-fa-la-la-las of frantic shoppers at Ross Park Mall.
But things are different this year. Noticeably different. Perhaps my heart grew this holiday season. Or maybe I overcame my allergy to green & red color patterns, allowing me to embrace this thing known as Christmas spirit. Whatever it is, I like it. Several times during these last few weeks I’ve found myself walking down the street smiling at holiday lights, tapping along to covers of Last Christmas and wishing kids a “Merry Christmas” after asking them what they asked Santa for. You know, that last part is the reason why I find myself jolly this year: The Kids. The real reason for celebrating Christmas. And the reason I’m writing tonight. This evening, I dedicated my time to a cup of tea and a pile of Dear Santa letters that I collected for Make-A-Wish as part of Macy’s Believe Campaign. I’ve been collecting these letters from the Macy’s near my office since early November and since then I’ve been looking forward to spending a night going through them. With my plane ride back to Pittsburgh on Wednesday morning and Christmas a few days away (Seriously?), I reasoned that tonight had to be the night to get my Dear Santa reading on. Unless I wanted to drag them back to Pittsburgh with me, tonight is the only night since I need to make sure these get to the North Pole in time.
So what are kids these days asking Santa for? A majority of the letters requested the typical gifts of dolls, clothes, puppies, video games- as well as the occasional winning lottery ticket. However, I found myself touched by several untraditional letters that asked for those items that money cannot buy:
“To be Happy.” “A Cure for Cancer.” “I wish you give me a Scholarship when I’m Going to College someday.” “What I want for Christmas is number 1) My Family to be Happy Healthy in their lives.” “Hope.” “I want to find friends.” “Please bring me a New Daddy.” “I want No more sick babies.” “My Family to be Drug-Free.” “I wish to have My Brother Back. He as killed in Iraq.” “I want World Peace and Great Health!” “Make My Children Happy.” “I want Kids who have Nothing to have Toys this year.” “Please bring my Boyfriend Back from Afghanistan and His Younger Brother too.” “No more Hatred among races…and Love Love Love.”
So many Dear Santa letters were about written about L.O.V.E.– including a few that requested specific boyfriend qualities:
“I would really like a nice boyfriend that actually likes me.”
“I want a really hot boyfriend with long hair.”
“I would love a good boyfriend.”
“I would really like a boyfriend someone sweet and hot.”
“I want my sister to find a rich, handsome, and successful husband.”
Several thoughts ran through my mind as I read these letters, which probably doesn’t surprise any of you who know that I tend to think a lot…maybe too much. The first is my wish that I could grant some, if not all, of these Dear Santa letters- especially the ones that selflessly asked to bring happiness into the lives of others. And secondly, I Wish I Could Believe Like A Child Again.
Believe in Santa. Believe in the Christmas Spirit. Believe that World Peace is Possible. Believe in Love as Optimistically as a Child.
Being surrounded by kids, I have to say that I am believing more than I have in a while, especially in the latter. As our childhood days sink further and further into our past memories, our definition of love loses the innocence and fantasy that we once only knew. But if we believe, really let ourselves believe, maybe we can find the love we once knew.
Just like Fight Club, the first rule of volunteering at the children’s hospital is: You cannot talk about volunteering at the children’s hospital. I’ll do my best not to break the rule, but I’m going to bend it as much as I can.
After another blah day at work, I knew that kid therapy was exactly what I needed. In our pre-shift meeting, I waited anxiously to hear the name “Marcus” from the list of referrals. The patients’ names were called out one-by-one, some familiar and others not. But no “Marcus”. I started thinking of who I would visit, when I heard his name. Five minutes later I made my way to the 6th floor and immediately upon turning the corner near his room, I heard his cry of loneliness.
As a nurse rushed in, I asked, “Is that Marcus?”
“Yep, that’s him.”
“I’ll be right there to hold him.”
After washing my hands, I smiled at the sight of my little boy. “Do you remember me, Marcus? I spent Thanksgiving with you.” On Thanksgiving, I was introduced to my little boyfriend as he wailed…and thirty minutes later he fell asleep in my arms for a 3-hour nap. I fell in love that day. Since then I’ve been thinking about him. Missing him. Worrying about him. Has he been sleeping? Have his (young) parents been by to visit him? Does he miss me too?
Last week I allowed another volunteer to visit him, but tonight I knew that there was nowhere else I’d rather be than holding him. Minutes after rocking him in my arms, he was my little resting angel again. He was so much more alert tonight: looking around the room, watching me, and I swear he even gave a few smiles. As he laid there in my arms for 90 minutes, I dreaded leaving when 8:30 rolled around. I could have stayed there all night if permitted, and I think my little man would have wanted that. For a tiny little 5-week old, he has a strong grip on him. He held my hand so tightly, as though he didn’t want to let go and I didn’t want him to either.
Tonight served as another reminder that this line of work is my calling…and that it’s the little things in life that mean the most.
I wasn’t going to write about my volunteer experience last night, but finding myself with anxiety and exhaustion today I think it’s for the best. I began my Tuesday night with a visit with my Wish Kid, Liam, and his parents, as they’re back in the hospital for his second Stem Cell Transplant. After enjoying their company and Liam’s adorableness, I ran downstairs to change into my volunteer jacket for my shift. As I entered my first hospital room, I found myself missing Hazel & George even more. Actually, spending a week with them really helped me in my volunteer role as I’m more aware and comfortable around the Infant- 3 year old age group now.
I spent the majority of my shift with two infant girls, providing them with a little TLC before their bedtime. With my second patient, whose condition I will not disclose but can say that it’s caused her to lose her sight, I sat in the chair and rocked her to sleep as I found myself engaged in a great conversation with her nurse- again making me realize how passionate I am for this line of work.
When the nurse left to check on another patient, I found myself lost in a little daydream. Holding the little one, I imagined what it would be like to be holding my own child. My empathy for the parents who have children in the hospital sky-rocketed. After spending time with Rebecca and the kids last week, my perspective has grown as I realize exactly what it’s like to truly love another unconditionally. They gave me a gift that I’m going to give back to further my work with many kids & families for years to come, so thank you.
A few people near-and-dear to my heart have shared their concern for my constant travel and go-go-go lifestyle, that has really been the definition of this year. I’ve reassured them all that I’m fine and that things will slow down soon. Maybe. Don’t tell them, or do, but today I actually felt the repercussions of the go-go-go as the exhaustion set in as I began packing my suitcase for my trip to Columbus tomorrow night. But even with that momentary revelation, I know I won’t stop. Slow down, maybe, but I won’t stop. Because the truth is that the traveling to visit friends, the volunteering, and the little care packages are what I do to make me happy. Making others happy makes me happy and therefore, I won’t stop. I just can’t.
I’m just going to share this quote with you that I heard by Portia de Rossi today, in speaking about the impact that her wife, Ellen Degeneres, has had on her. I promise that I’ll be sharing this again, but for now I want to let her words leave a mark on your heart as they did on mine:
”I used to think that the way to be strong, was to be tough. I used to think that to be independent, was to not need anyone. But she’s taught me that the more vulnerable you and the softer you are, and the more you allow more people into your life and into your heart, the happier you are and the more valuable you are to other people.” ~Portia de Rossi
George and Hazel. Hazel and George. These are the two precious faces that I woke up to every morning last week, and these are the faces that I wished to be woken up my this morning- however, no such luck. I’m back in Chicago, waking up in my little 1-bedroom apartment, with thoughts of Hazel & George dancing through my head. I never thought I’d say this, but I just want to go back to Cincinnati. (Sorry Pittsburgh. At least it’s not Cleveland. See, I know where I come from- sorta.)
Before I express my unconditional love for these two darlings and their parents, I have to begin by declaring that, before last week, I really didn’t think I’d ever have kids of my own (nor adopt). For most of my life, I’ve never given marriage nor kids a second thought, even those I love love love kids and am relatively good with them. Okay, I’m pretty great with them. Anyways, for some reason, I just not thought that it was for me. There’s really no explanation why this thought first entered my mind nor why it’s remained there so long. But being bombarded by love and adorableness in the form of a 2-year old (Hazel) and an 8-month old (George), I, Kristen Medica, admit that I’m not sure if I can imagine not having kids now…one day. Yes, I said it and only time will tell (que sera, sera) but a text from my friend, Matt (MT), confirmed my notion again: It would be a shame if u never had kids. You will make an incredible mother. Mr. Thompson, I actually agree with you on this one. Again, que sera, sera, but after being with Hazel and George for a week I think it’s fair to say that I’ve had a change of heart. They’ve changed my heart.
When I first met Hazel 1 1/2 years ago, it was truly love at first sight. She was the first baby I’d really been around since my cousin, Ryan, about 11-12 years ago. So yes, I was a little out of my comfort zone. But looking at little Hazel and having her look at me with her big brown eyes, I knew I was in trouble. From that moment on, this little girl could do no wrong in my eyes. Her smile lit up more than the entire room. It lit up my entire heart.
(Hazel, our little photographer, took this picture of her baby brother.) And now there’s Georgie too. When I first met him last April he was only a few weeks old and in September he wasn’t too active yet. But now he’s crawling and his cuteness radiates through his irresistible smile. Watch out, future OU ladies! This boy will be a heartbreaker. He’s already captured my heart. George, you little cougar bait.
Enough of this, let’s get to the good parts. I had so much fun with these two and their mom, Rebecca, last week. After our Trick-o-Treat adventures, we settled into their traditional weekday schedule. Unfortunately the kids stayed at their sister’s during the work hours, only providing me with Hazel & George time for a little bit before they left in the morning and a couple of hours when they got back. It’s wasn’t enough! I found myself like a puppy waiting for my “owners” to come home and play with me. And play they most certainly did.
Every moment with Hazel and George, I found myself perfectly content and lost in the enjoyment of their company. There was nowhere else I wanted to be but there with them. How often do we find ourselves in moments like that? In our fast-paced world of endless possibilities we always think about what else we could be doing. We check our cell phones and Facebook just in case so we don’t miss anything. I do it too. But last week, when I was with these kids, I didn’t even know where my cell phone was. Nor did I careless who was ‘in a relationship’ with whom via
stalker net Facebook. Instead, I spent my evenings smiling and laughing as I took part in games of hide-and-go-seek; dinnertime picnics; finger painting; swim lessons; watching Elmo on ‘the little screen’ (my former computer); playing naptime-and-cockadoodledoodle (long story); and my favorite, cuddling on the couch watching Beaver Beaver (aka Leave it to Beaver).
As the week passed, day-by-day, I found myself getting upset about leaving. When Friday morning finally arrived, it was truly bittersweet. But the show must go on. Taking the day off from work left me with a full day of playtime with my BFF, Hazel. In our PJs, we drove Rebecca (mommy) to work and then took George to the sitter. We played games on the way back to Casa di Hazel before having a breakfast picnic with (another DVD watch party of ) Elmo. We got ourselves ready, with me mistakenly giving Hazel my camera (note her photo of me here), and we loaded ourselves – and my bags :(- into the car. With Hazel insisting on taking photos in the backseat, I programmed “Starbucks” into the GPS.
Just our luck, the Starbucks happened to be in a Target. If this Starbucks in a Target would have been in Athens…well, I think only one word would have explained it: PRICELESS. Note: If you haven’t fallen in love with Hazel yet, you are going to in a few seconds. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Let me backtrack a bit and say that earlier in the week, I happened to inform Hazel that Adriana was sad. In her 2-year old Why-stage, she appropriately asked, “Why?” I let her now that Pat’s mommy is sick, which led her to ask, “Is Pat sad too?” (Enter adorableness.) “How can I make them happy?” I love this little girl so much! All week she kept asking what she could do to make Adriana & Pat happy. First we painted and colored for them, but it was my brilliant idea in the Starbucks in Target where I decided to let Little Miss Happy-Maker pick out gifts to make Adriana and Pat happy.
With our Starbucks coffee and OJ in hand, we headed to the $1 bin where Hazel picked up colorful spoons and clips, asking me, “Will this make them happy?” after each. She then decided that gummy bears will definitely make them happy and clutched them proudly in her tiny hands. I informed her that Adriana loves Hello Kitty (like Hazel) and so we headed to find some HK-happiness. Our search eventually led us to the toy section where Hazel chose squishy balls- orange for Pat, pink for Adriana- and then allowed her to pick out cards for each of them- one with two cats on the front for Pat, a purple “this is such a pretty one” for Adriana. Again, I love this little lady. After paying for our happiness treats, we giggled our way to the car, past two men putting up Christmas decorations, and got back in the car. Unknowingly, I let Hazel use markers to colored Pat’s and Adriana’s cards on our way to the Children’s Museum.
After a little detour and a nap (for Hazel), we found our way to the museum. “Are you reeeaaddyy?”, I asked Hazel. “YES!”, she exclaimed. “Are you reeeaaddyy?”, she asked me. And away we went. We played for a few hours, took photos in the photo booth, and then grabbed lunch before heading to pick up Rebecca at work. Before leaving the museum, a woman came up and complimented me on Hazel’s proper behavior. In thanking her and pointing out that she was my friend’s daughter, I found myself with such pride- as though she was my daughter. I would be honored to have a daughter as precious as her. Her kindness is innate and truly a result of the love & care that her family shows her.
After picking up Rebecca and Georgie, we opted to spent the last few hours together at Graeter’s and then the pet store. Best idea ever. These precious moments made me realize just how special these children are and how blessed I am to have them in my life.
It was so difficult to say goodbye to them when the time came. Especially little Hazel. After spending the entire day with her, I didn’t want to leave her now. I wanted to go on Starbucks and Target runs with her all the time. I wanted to let her pick out happy gifts when all of my friends needed them. I wanted to sit with her in my lap every night and watch Beaver Beaver before bedtime. I wanted to be there to protect her from all the sadness and anger in the world, and to make sure she was always happy.
I just got off the phone with my brother and he asked me point-blank: “So (after last week) are you going to give your parents grandkids or not?” I think he was surprised by my “Yes” response, yet very relieved since he doesn’t plan on being the one in our family to do so. I think it’s fair to say that if that does happen and I become a mother one day, my parents, my brother, (my husband/boyfriend/whatever), and me will have to appropriately thank the entire Littleton Family: Nate, Rebecca, Hazel, and George. I love you all!
After telling my brother all about my week at Casa di Hazel & George, I found myself rambling as I tried to explain how it made me feel. While some words relayed my point, I again found it difficult to convey the impact that last week had on me. Do you ever feel that way? Like something is so special, so meaningful that you will truly be the only one who understands? Anyways, I did find a few words to express how I feel about little Miss Hazel and my brother was the lucky one who got to hear them:
“I just want her to be happy. Really happy. Always happy. Her life doesn’t have to be perfect, but I want her journey to be pain-free. I don’t want her to ever question where she belongs or if she’s loved. I don’t want her to deal with bitchy girls or have her heart broken. I want more for her than I want for myself. I want her to always be confident about who she is and go after everything that she wants.”
Song of the Moment: Never Grow Up by Taylor Swift