Thursday, May 31, 2007

the dead bird omen

OK, so you ever have one of those not terrible enough to warrant any real sympathy or melt downs but just enough to be yucky, just want it to be over, bad days. Bad like you cannot wait to go to sleep so that it is over cuz you are afraid some weird black cloud is following you and pretty soon something really tragic will happen.
I had that day today. Now my HUGE caveat here is that no one was hurt or even emotionally scarred from today and I really have no cause for complaint as God is good to me. Really good!

But I feel as a write and purge my outlook will improve. I just need to cast out my bad vibes into cyberspace and hope good ones will replace them.
First thing this morning as Anni and I geared up for our morning jog we headed out our front door only to find a dead bird. No apparent "cause of death." He looked fine except for the one teeny tiny fact that he was in fact dead and laying right in the middle of our front walk way.
I should have known then.....
Halfway thru our run Anni started to freak out and cry. Now we were half way thru so I was in fact at the furthest point from our house that we go with nothing to calm her except my boobs which were at this point sweaty and not making an appearance on the lakefront (I have gotten rather caviler about going out of the house without Anni's bag-o-gear and all I take running with us is my phone and my keys). I turned us around and we headed home but her protests continued. I guess I should not be to surprised as she seems to be having a visit from the evil teething fairy again this week and has pretty much hated life. We got home and Anni took a nap. After she awoke we waited for the contractor from the building next door (during this long renovation they damaged our brand new windows and we have been trying to get them to fix them for months). He said he would be there at 9:30am. guy...10:00am.... no guy......10:30am... no guy. Finally, at 10:55 he called and said he could not make it and we were off to run errands.
I buckled Anni in and opened the garage door to a huge couch blocking our door so pulling out was not possible. When I got out in an attempt to move it I realized that someone was sleeping on the couch! He was nice and helped me move it out of the way and Anni just couldn't resist crying because I left her for 30 seconds. We were off. Our second stop (after getting a baby pool- yeah,anyone with bambinos in the neighborhood read COME OVER and PLAY here!) brought us to Jiffy Lube to have the air conditioning in my Blazer recharged (the ride back from Lake Geneva was not much fun with no air so I talked Jason into letting me get it fixed asap). After waiting 45 minutes in the Jiffy Lube and exhausting everything that Anni could play with, chew on, and throw on the floor in my purse the Jiffy Lube guy said there was some hole in our line and he could not fix it but would be happy to still charge me 30 bucks to let me know this. As I walked in to pay this fee I felt something really warm on my shirt and shorts. Yep, you guessed it Annikah peed thru her diaper all over herself & me. When we finally got home and changed I made her lunch. As I was putting the food back in the fridge I dropped the cup of peaches all over my leg, pants, floor, and refrigerator. More fun for me.
Anni still hating life (or at least playing on the floor) was not having any of it. I decided to take her to the park and swing until her afternoon nap. I hoisted her on my back and we got to the park opened the big black gate just in time for it to start raining. I thought we may get a few swings in but is started to pour on us. I proceeded to run home with Anni in the backpack. We then headed off to run one more errand. I needed to go to a craft store to get a few things for a project I am leading for my Mom's Group. Of course it was still pouring but I thought if I do not go today I have to go Saturday and I hate running errands on the weekend when everyone else is doing them. Bad call. The drive usually takes us about 20 minutes. About 45 minutes in and almost there I turned back. Anni was screaming in the back seat and I was out of Cheerios. The traffic was at a stand still. I just could not deal so we came back home. As we pulled back into our alley I saw that yet again I could not pull into my garage as a purple van was parked right in front. As Anni screamed in her seat I desperately searched around in the pouring rain for the violator of the unwritten parking rule. (if you park your car in an alley for loading, etc you must be "findable" especially if you are blocking someones garage). I found the culprit and we were finally home accomplishing nothing. ARGH. So you see nothing was terribly bad by itself but strung together in succession it was just annoying.
So all this say that I should have taken the dead bird as an omen. Here's to tomorrow: a new day.
post script...
Also, I got a call from my mom and she was experiencing a similar upsetting day with highlights including a neighbor stabbing her in the back and then chasing her crazy dog who was swimming after a duck in the lake (a kind stranger actually let her use his boat and they had to put a fishing net over the dog to rescue her). My sister also had a friend write some hurtful things sort of aimed at her in the school newspaper today. Katy, girl just look at it this way - you are DONE with high school stuff! Yeah!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Memorial Day weekend

We spent Memorial Day weekend up at my parent's lake house in Lake Geneva.
Highlights included:
*Jason and I actually going to see our first movie at a real theater together since Annikah was born- Pirates 3. (of course, the theater was so hot (like sauna hot) but we insisted on staying and seeing the movie (how often do we get a free babysitter- thanks Katy and Mom), the decision to stay was highly regretted by Jason about 2 hours into the movie with sweat pouring down his face but never fear- I spoke with the manager and nicely stated it was hotter than Hades in there and she gave us 8 free movie passes: score!)
*Anni enjoying her first watermelon- she loved it and made quite a mess of herself
*We cruised around in the golf cart (another Anni favorite) and got to ride Grandpa's new boat (Anni is still undecided about this experience since it required putting a very uncomfortable life jacket on and having wind whip her in the face)
*Annikah getting to swim in her baby pool while making the dog jealous (she also tried to lick the dog several times...things that make you go hmmm?)
*Celebrating my sister Katy's high school graduation (she still has a few days but we are pretty sure she will make it :) I cannot believe my baby sister is going to college! Yeah Katy!
Hope you all had a great weekend as well!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

city grime and all things sublime

Yesterday Annikah arrived home after being out in the city virtually all day covered in grit and grime. The kind that you can feel in your teeth, your hair, like you have been "lightly dusted" with DIRT (due mostly to the crazy wind yesterday combined with lots of city nastiness).
We were out enjoying the wonderfully hot day with our good friends Beck (hot Mama, fabulous fashionista, friend & sista, and designer of baby couture extraordinaire) and Aislin (her adorable daughter that is a few months older than Anni). We met at a park in the morning and then decided to have lunch and hang out. Beck also had to show me one of her awesome city finds: threadless. As a plug it is a way swanky T-shirt place that is mostly on-line (although they did mention to us that they are opening a store soon). Artists submit designs and then people vote on what designs they want printed on T-shirts. I got my two favorites: yeah for cute T-shirts!

After lunch at her place we put the babies down for naps which did not work out quite as planned. Anni went down after much talking in the pack and play in Ais's room. Then Ais needed to go down and Anni was not up yet so we (being the stealthy Mamas we are) decided to try to get Anni in her pack and play moved successfully without waking her up while simultaneously keeping Ais from crying (as she was overtired) until we could put her down to sleep. I'm telling you if finding Osama is anywhere remotely as difficult I now understand why we cannot get the dude. It was really comical to watch. We were so close to announcing V-Day! I almost had the pack and play out of the room, only about an inch left (with some minor scrapes to the door- sorry Beck!) when Anni sprang awake and started crying. She joined Ais and they wept together mocking our silly plans to actually sit and talk without chasing babies.

After admitting defeat we packed up and took the girls out on the town. We explored various stores in Lincoln Square and walked to get some cool caffeine refreshment. As we were walking and chatting (in between overtired Ais crying and us giving the babies peace offerings of cheerios and sippy cups). Another random thought, since Anni has recently started really loving to feed herself when she is fussy for no apparent reason (her car seat protests or the usual "it's 4 pm and I am just plain irritable") I now can usually go with the safe standby: a cheerio. She loves picking them up and it buys me a few minutes. This of course will not always work and I am sure is creating bad habits but let's face it: Survival is key! What will I do when her problems cannot be cured by Cheerios? Too much to think about, let's move on.

Beck and I discussed how surprising it can be to see people's reactions to babies and mothers. I shared that I was shocked the first time I rode the El with Annikah at who was helpful and nice and who was nasty to us. Now, Anni was not crying at all simply babbling and being her cute self.
As an aside, not that if she was crying I could really control it (unless of course it was Cheerios fixable). It really gets to me when people stare down parents who have a crying baby, like they are pinching the baby and WANT the baby to cry, cut them some slack (unless of course they are at the movies then proceed to boo and throw popcorn at them)!
Of course, I did have my mounds of baby gear with me (stroller, diaper bag, purse, etc) which even annoys me so point taken. But we were riding in the middle of the day not at rush hour so no crowding issue. A woman about 50 years old gave us the death stare as we boarded and then proceeded to be annoyed and make sure I sensed her annoyance the whole ride by breathing and huffing out loud when Anni was babbling. I felt like saying "Hey lady, if you want a quiet ride the El is not for you, at least no drunk dude is puking on you (a story for another time) get over it." Two young people (maybe high school age guy and a girl) behind us were playing with Anni and blowing raspberries back at her. It was endearing that these two "kids" in their puffy coats and blinged out apparel were actually babbling with Anni. Anni so enjoyed it that when they ignored her to go back to their previous conversation she started grunting and insisting they pay attention to her again.
Beck brought up the difference between downtown and the neighborhoods in the city. That downtown people just blow doze past you and get in the way when you are trying to push the stroller. But in the neighborhoods people can be really nice and open doors, help you up/down stairs, etc. Memo to self: avoid downtown with stroller!

Our discussion got me thinking about other experiences we have had in the city that stood out....
Since Anni's new habit of waking earlier (around 6am) we have a lot more time to pass before her first nap in the morning so I have been taking her jogging with me everyday. She enjoys the jogging stroller and even laughs when it hits bumps (so precious). The other morning we were running along and saw two women on the sidewalk in front of us. They were clearly wearing their PJ's (I mean 2 pieces matching print and house shoes so not assumptions here). As we approached I could see they were have a heated discussion about (I am assuming some not so wonderful man) as they were cursing up and down. As soon as we got within a few feet they stopped me and bent down to talk in high pitched voices to Anni. She reciprocated by staring and then kicking her legs to which they said "what a cute baby" to which I of course responded "thank you." Babies really soften people (if only for a moment). As they continued on we heard "Yeah girl, that *^#@*!! (use your imagination here)

Another afternoon we were walking home from the produce market in our neighborhood when a sweet older woman (who looked like she was straight out of Fiddler on the Roof, head scarf and all) held out her hand in front of the stroller (picture "Stop in the name of love" here). She bent down and began squeezing Anni's cheeks and saying (I am sure sweet things) in another language to her. She smiled at me and then went about her walk.

Since Anni's recent obsession with swinging we have been taking lots of walks to the park. Last night after we picked Jason up at the train station the 3 of us went to the park 2 blocks from our house. We met twins girls that were about 8 years old. They loved Annikah and began to entertain her and push her on the swing so we struck up a conversation with their Aunt that accompanied them. She has a daughter who is in Africa (Kenya) right now but they actually lives in New York and are just here visiting. We chatted, asked questions, and compared the two cities. I love listening to people's stories, how they exist and what brought them to now. All the while we talked to the background noise of Annikah laughing at the girls running around and smiling at her. As we walked home we were grateful for this shared space. If we had our own yard with no park nearby we would not have the opportunity to share communal space and connect, in small but meaningful ways, to others.

So, all this to say I was thinking last night that if we did not jog in the morning, explore the city with friends, play at neighborhood parks, walk to run errands instead of driving we would miss vibrant, alive and altogether sublime pieces of our city.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Anni's 1st pool party!

Annikah was invited to a pool party today at her friend Francie's house. Since Francie is way cool and super advanced (she is already crawling) we jumped at the chance. After peeing on Mama Anni had a blast in the pool with her buddies (the RPM babies) and the Mamas had a great time chatting while eating our potluck picnic- really does it get better than that? She likes to splash a lot- see video! What a fabulous day of summer!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

that is why I love bureaucracy.

Today Anni and I walked to the post office as we often do and waited in line to mail a package. Of course the line was extremely slow moving for no apparent reason. Annikah proceeded to pass the time by standing on the counter and eating packing slips until it was finally our turn. I had to document the complete "backwards" operation they have going on there. Notice that not only are the signs literally backwards but one of them is a Christmas ad. The woman in the photo was quite nice and remarked that Anni was indeed a cutie so trip redeemed. I love bureaucracy.

Ah... the joy of swinging

Annikah LOVES swinging! The first few times I put her in the swing she would wave her arms and scream in terror. Luckily, her attitude has now completely changed. As soon as we turn into the park and the swings are in view she waves her arms and starts to grunt with glee until she gets to swing. Ah, happy warm summer days of swinging.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

To Blake or Jordin: that is the question....

So, for all those American Idol fans out there it is down to Blake & Jordin. My poor gal Melinda got booted last week and now the vital and monumental question remains: Will it be Blake or Jordin? Not; of course, that it really matters who wins because my boy Chris Daughtry has already sold more albums than Taylor Hicks (last years winner for those living under a rock). Also, as an aside not that any of this is really significant at all when there are much more pressing concerns in the world but you have to admit it is a nice distraction. I added the picture Jason took while in India of the Indian Idol billboard, apparently it is big everywhere.

In my "expert" opinion this is how I see it: Jordin has more vocal ability and she is only 17 so you have to give it up for the girl!!! But Blake has more musical ability, he could be an Indy-Euro-pop star right now and I could also see him producing music. So, who should win? I need your help! For anyone who does not watch I picked me two favorite performances from each contestant so you can inform your vote.
The finale is coming up and right now both are "just alright for me dawg." I am wavering in my opinion of who should take it all!

So, my plea to you: post a comment and tell me your opinion: Who should get my vote? Go ahead fight for your fav. I reserve the right to actually make up my own mind as well but just thought I would put it out there... what to you think, dawg?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

The return of Jason and other saturday happenings

J is back- yeah for us! He called the house bright and early at 6:15am saying he was outside the front door. It is great to have him back although he is pretty tired as he has know been up for about 40 hours (except the short snooze he took this morning when I took Anni out for a walk). He came bearing gifts (as any self respecting husband and father would who missed Mother's Day would do). He got Annikah an adorable mini-sized sari and carved little elephant. He brought me a really beautiful top and a fabulous wool scarf. Jason is so thoughtful when it comes to gifts. Annikah looks so adorable in her sari and how many almost 9month olds actually have an authentic sari from India!

We all headed off to Charlotte's 1st birthday party, it was an Luau theme (as you can see from the pic) and we want to congratulate Charlotte on devouring her cupcake: Well done Girl! We then took a quick dip in the Welles Park pool and are now at home enjoying the weather: off to walk down by the lakefront before Anni's bedtime (I am pretty sure Jason will follow not too far behind her). Happy Saturday!

gals night out

My last night sans J-dawg was fabulous. I spent it out with my girlfriends. We went to an actual restaurant, I wore actual lipstick AND earrings, and we chatted and laughed about our lives as Mamas. What a great way to celebrate!

Friday, May 18, 2007

teething biscuits are to babies as bones are to dogs

Now, to be clear I am not comparing my child to a dog but rather the purpose of the teething biscuit to a bone. To mildly amuse, sooth sore gums, and keep one occupied. The "biscuit" is pretty disgusting after being gnawed on for a few minutes and is a slippery little thing especially difficult for little fingers to grab which can result in some serious drama. See video documentation.

reflections on my brief stint as a single mom

In my almost 2 weeks without Jason I have discovered more than just that I LOVE sleeping in the whole bed with all the pillows!! Here is a brief list...

*I am more capable than I thought of handling the day to day with Annikah, we even got into our own groove and rhythm.
*I love rocking her to sleep, since putting Anni to bed is usually Jason's gig I have enjoyed these quiet precious moments with her.
*Being sick makes you always want your Mommy (and lucky for me mine showed up with her superhero cape and whisked Anni away for a long lakefront nap so I could sleep)
*I can actually take out the trash myself (but do not think this will continue once Jason is back as king of the castle :)
*Not having to make dinner or get things done around the house gives me extra time to catch up with girlfriends, have lunch, go for walks, and even (gasp!) take a nap!
*Watching trash TV like Grey's is way more fun with a gal pal to discuss the finer points of fictitious and ridiculous people's lives.
*No one except Jason likes to hear a 20 minute oration about the incredibly adorable way Anni eats a cracker and impressive way she drinks from her sippy cup
*We have a fabulous and caring network of friends & family that checked in, called, sent cards, visited, had us over, and hung out with us. I recognize this as a true blessing- Thanks to all!
*I appreciate not only the huge contribution Jason makes to our family like being a financial provider, a protector, a confidant, a friend, a great listener, a fun Papa, etc but also the seemingly little things like opening and sorting all the mail (sorry about the huge pile in advance- I only do cute envelopes:)), taking care of our bills, and other things I often take for granted. As much as I sometimes complain I really do like our division of labor and the way "we work" together.
*I compromise a lot in my marriage (not about monumental things mind you but mostly about what to do, eat, watch, spend time and money on, etc). I am by no means complaining here (lest you hear the violin music in the background) because I have an amazing partner but rather just acknowledging that after 6 years or marriage the compromise feels so normal, so familiar, so natural, so who we are. This is what marriage is about and one reason I consider ours to be a good marriage but with time alone I realized that I do need time to be me, not to ask myself what should "we" do but rather what do I want to do to feed who I am. Sort of like the difference between self determination and true democracy, I prefer to shift between the two. Hey, maybe I should even write my own 14 Points (Woodrow Wilson would be so proud).
*That I like quiet more than I did a few years ago. I have always considered myself a screaming extrovert (the thought of being alone every night for even a week would have killed me 5 years ago) but these past two weeks I was happy to just be alone and even be quiet. After Annikah went to bed several nights I enjoyed being with me. I am hoping for more of this time because I know with quiet reflection God often speaks to encourage and challenge my heart. I read last night in Isiah 30
"In your quietness and confidence is your strength"
I am praying for more.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

always a teacher

This week I got 2 calls and one email from 3 of my former students. The first call came to my cell phone and when I answered I was in the middle of making Annikah dinner and rushing around. The voice said "Mrs. E?" which took me off guard. I answered "yes" and she asked if I remembered her. Once she told me her name was Monica I searched my brain and then I quickly pictured her. I was so excited to hear from her. She was now a senior in high school and got my number from a teacher at Canter (the middle school I taught at). I was so glad she called and we caught up about what was different in both of our lives. She said she called because as she is getting ready to graduate and thought about me and wanted to see what I was up to. She went on our first ever 8th grade Atlanta trip and we laughed about those memories. She seemed to be doing great and so mature. Of course I still hassled her about staying away from boys and getting all her work in (it is in my blood, poor Annikah).

The second call was from a male student named Shaun that was in my home room class (for non CPS types this is the group of kids you (for better or worse) you become like a family(a dysfunctional one usually) because you spend SO MUCH time together). He is a junior now at one of the best schools in the city and wanted to thank me for helping him push himself to get there. I asked him a ton of questions about his school and he said something that stuck out to me. He commented that he appreciated all the opportunities at his new school more than many of his peers because "I came from Canter." We both laughed about the many not so fabulous conditions at our old school (My personal favorite was the Cafe-gym-o-torium (the big beat up room that served as the lunch room, gym, and assembly area) complete with the mice nicknamed the "Temptations" that would slide across the floor at lunch, because of this many of my kids would eat lunch in my room everyday). After we hung up I thought about the profound lesson he has already learned that so many of us take for granted. Not everyone has the same opportunities to create success in their lives. And when you get that chance working your butt off can pay huge dividends. I never had to learn this at his age.

The email was from a girl named Shubira I had that is also a junior now. She wished me a Happy Mother's Day (so sweet). She also mentioned that she was looking at colleges! She immigrated to the U.S. from Africa a few years before I had her in my social studies class and she was the hardest working kid I ever had. She would always come in for extra help and was so respectful (in my experience common in non-American born kids:). Right before graduation that year the teachers on my team were shocked to learn that she was on the "non-walking" list (this is a list of kids that cannot walk in the ceremony because they have to take summer school). Usually, this list has no big shockers but for her to be on it we were dumbfounded as she was Ace-ing most of her classes. It turned out that her score on the reading section of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills was one percentage point too low. Well, obviously this is because English is her second language and with the poor funding for our school she was not given extra time or a translator as promised. All the teachers on my team wrote letters and called everyone and their mamas at the CPS board to plead for her. If anyone should get to graduate on time it should be Shubira! I could not bear the thought of the message sent when the hardest working kid in the 8th grade sits and watches the slackers who coasted by and barely fulfilled the low standards and pathetic excuses for requirements saunter across and get their diplomas. We fought hard and (as I tend to do) I got too involved even telling the board that unless she was allowed to walk I was not returning to teach next year. Eventually thru the efforts of all her teachers she was allowed to graduate on time. Jason and I attended her graduation party and her father, a pastor of a church, hugged me and thanked me for standing up for her. I remember thinking at the time that I was so undeserving of their appreciation and kindness but that it was worth more that my (very small) paycheck. Not to my surprise at all she is on the high honor roll and went on a trip with her honors club on an "Ivy league" tour of Boston. She said she was thinking about attending MIT, Harvard, or Boston College. I have no doubt that she will do it!

I realize it is easy to feel warm and fussy about these kids because their lives seem to be going well and they are realizing their dreams. My thoughts and prayers are with them as well as my other students whose dreaming was cut short by low expectations and a lack of opportunity.
I guess the end of the school year made them think of their teachers and the coming end of their high school experience.
In the busyness of my week I had not really reflected on the significance of these kids contacting me. Then this morning while talking a walk with Annikah I was narrating the various sites and sounds she was experiencing. I saw a school bus turn on Sheridan and began to tear up. I then realized that I was really touched that these young people took the time to reach out and catch up with me. Their hard work and dedication had taken them far. That they remembered the time we spent together everyday and that my small contribution to their lives was worthy of mention. Isn't this what we all hope for: that what we do every day matters. Part of my identity will always be a teacher whether or not I am in the classroom everyday or not.

In this spirit I would like to give a shout out to 2 of the teachers that inspired me: Mr. Reimer (who broke rules when they were not in his students best interest and who made history more than just some facts about dead white guys) and Mr. Kellner (who sacrificed so much time and energy for our speech team, I never appreciated that sacrifice until I became a teacher).
I want to also give a major standing ovation to all the teachers I know out there especially Zaneta and Akisha who are still holding it down at Canter.

Roger's Park Kids

Look at our big babies. They are the best of friends. Compare to earlier photo to see proof that we are in fact feeding them miracle grow!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Piano women!

Annikah and her friend Gilly at their jam session (piano courtesy of Angus).

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mother's Day

This is a touching Mom's day story that a friend passed on and I wanted to pass it along. It touched me!

meet me in St. Louis

We spent the weekend in St Louis (just outside actually in Collinsville) visiting Annikah's Great Grandpa & Grandma. It was a busy but fun weekend. We are pretty tired and I seemed to have some bug so I feel pretty yuck right now. I wanted to share a few things about the trip we wanted to remember:

*Annikah is the ONLY baby I know that can be in the car for 5 hours and NOT FALL ASLEEP ONCE!

*Singing "Ain't no Mountain High Enough" about 20 times on our girl rode trip

*Annikah's love affair with Auntie Katy- especially their dancin' together!
*Annikah's first time eating ice cream (brought by Great Grandma at the zoo)

*Trekking all the way thru the zoo (with the stroller and Great Grandma's walker in the heat) to see the baby elephant that was NOT out!

*Great Grandpa playing the harmonica for Anni- she could not take her eyes off him!
*Visiting Great Aunt Irene- she sang "Jesus Loves you" for Anni

*Annikah stalking their dog Bogie (animals everywhere BEWARE when she can walk)

*Great Grandpa and Great Grandma bickering and their hilarious quotes.. Highlights included Great Grandpa saying.."you get more with honey then whatever the hell....." and "that is what I get for marrying a Kraut-head"

*Getting our Four Fabulous Generations photo taken
It was a blessing to be able to spend Mother's Day with the women that mean the most to me in my life. Annikah is lucky to come from a family of strong women.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Annikah has friends

Anni has a dear friend named Charlotte. They go on walks by the lake, swing side by side, and hold hands while they stroll along. It is good to have friends....

single mom

So, I am on my own for 2 weeks as Jason left yesterday for India (for a work trip). I am excited for him as well as admittedly jealous as I have always wanted to see India. We miss him already and I can't help but thinking how much Annikah will change just in 2 weeks.

She is at that stage where she is doing something new almost everyday. Today she "fed herself" little crackers. When I say fed herself I mean sucked on the wagon wheel cracker until it was the consistency of lumpy mashed potatoes and then smeared it all over herself and the counter but still it is an accomplishment! Up until now she has been perfectly happy to let Mama feed her everything. Even looking at me like "you done lost your mind woman" when I try to let her do it. She also drank from a sippy cup with a straw today. I realize none of these "firsts" are anything to stop the presses about but I somehow feel like they are noteworthy because she is growing so fast.

She will never again sit up for the first time or roll over and my memory of these events is even fading already. I suppose your kids always grow and change and while you retain special memories of their growth the exact moments of every first slip away. My little girl is growing and it is altogether fabulous and sort of sad.

After I put Anni to bed last night I pondered what it would be like to never have a Papa that came home. Not just to relieve me but to enrich Annikah's life and love her as only her father can. Not just to be Annikah's daddy but to be my best friend and husband. I felt extremely grateful that our family is together and that 2 weeks apart is really not a big deal at all. Actually, the last time he was gone in California Anni and I got into a fun groove just the two of us. We also are going to St. Louis this weekend to visit my Grandma and Grandpa which will no doubt be a huge blessing! Many of my awesome friends have already invited us out to lunch, over for dinner, or offered to take Anni for an hour sans bambino if I need it.
As it is almost Mother's Day (my first one "on the flip side")I want to wish all mothers out there a Happy Mother's Day! I hope you feel appreciated and grateful for all you have been blessed with! I know I do.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Lincoln Park Zoo

First trip to Lincoln Park zoo! Here are some pics of our first trip as a family to Lincoln Park zoo this Saturday- we met my parents and sister there. It was so cute to watch Annikah discover all the animals. She made the same "come hither" noise she makes to our cat to the animals especially the monkeys :) (it didn't work on them either). She was at the same time excited and horrified of the chimps. It was a great trip!

tiny tyrant

A tyrant is defined as "one who rules absolutely, or a sovereign rules who uses power oppressively or unjustly." I submit our experiences this morning as evidence that our dearest Annikah is in fact a tiny tyrant (of course we mean this in the most loving way possible).
5 am she first just talking and fussing. We hope and pray that she returns to blissful slumber so we can too.

5:10am.......we turn the monitor sound off so we can just see the dreaded red bars and still hope she will drift off. this point we have pretty much given up all hopes of falling back asleep ourselves as we can now hear her protesting from her room even though the monitor is off. We lie awake in our room discussing what we should do: Try to nurse her and put her back down? Bring her in bed with us and coax her to sleep? Realize our hopes and dreams of sleeping til 6:30am are shattered and get up and start the day? We are too tired and out of sorts to make this decision and lay there a while longer.

5:32am......Her protest has now turned to "You jerks better come get me! I know you are in there and I am up! How dare you ignore my cute self! COME GET ME NOW! (in the form of screams)" We acquiesce to her demands. Jason goes in and tries to rock her back to sleep which soon proves to be a feeble attempt. The entire time she is trying to sit up and play. Being the fabulous (and albeit guilt ridden for leaving us for the next 2 weeks for India) husband he decides to take her so I can stay in bed.

5:35am....... I finally succumb to the fact that sleep is over and hearing Anni and Jason play in the front room I decide to join them.

6:00am......We then decided that we should go for a walk so us parental units could enjoy some warm, flavored caffeine if we are going to make it thru the day. It is a sign that you are up and out too early if you wonder if Starbucks is even open- lucky for us they open at 6!
You know it is too early to be up when the only people you see are other bewildered parents, PJ's wearing bitter dog owners, and those still up and drunk from partying last night. We enjoyed our walk and hopefully she will take a wonderful long nap this morning.
Just last night we were having dinner with some fab friends and discussing that our daily life is pretty much determined by Annikah. She laughs in the face of plans and throws "to do lists" out with her uneaten bananas. But we would not trade our tiny tyrant for anything!
P.S. We did discover an actual tooth this morning which may explain her early rising! It is tiny and just a little razor sharp, for now subcutaneous, tiny tooth on the bottom.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

thoughts passed on....

Last night I attended a Calling All Moms event. This groups stated purpose is "to encourage and support women in the profession of motherhood." Cool chicks with me! The topic was conflict resolution and the speaker was Nancy Heche (Anne Heche's mother). I was expecting to learn from the speaker, spend time with other Moms, and enjoy an evening out.

I was touched more by a stranger who sat at my table.

When we (my gal pal Nicole and I) arrived (a few minutes late of course) most of the brightly decorated tables were packed out but there was one with only one woman sitting there. I asked if we could join her. Her name was Nancy and we introduced ourselves and began exchanging small talk.
The speaker discussed the various and inevitable conflicts we all face in our lives and had helpful ways to frame conversations, asking for what you need instead of assigning blame (something too easy for me). Good reminders. What impacted me was when she talked about owning your feelings, how no one can "make you mad" but that is your emotion (even though you may have just cause). Often our feelings are a result of many things in the past that have piled up not solely the current situation. She then gave each table an assignment to discuss conflicts in our lives right now and pick the one that was most representative of us. The discussion at our table turned to a common conflict many of us faced. Our husbands coming home from work late and/or not understanding how much we needed a break after a long day with the baby. We laughed at the commonalities of our experiences whether we worked outside the home during the day or stayed at home with our babies. It is significant how being a mother immediately links you to other Moms. The joys and vulnerabilities that come with this role open communication doors that would otherwise remain surface level.
After more discussion Nancy opened up that her conflict was with her 21 year old daughter. She shared much more about what was going on in her life.
Her 25 year marriage to her husband who pastored a church recently ended in divorce after she discovered he was having an affair. Her 23 year old son is being sent back to Iraq for a second tour of duty and her daughter is not dealing with the divorce well and wants to move out. I could sense and feel that she was experiencing loneliness. Suddenly Jason coming home late did not seem like a conflict at all. I am so grateful to have him as a partner, lover, best friend, and father to Anni. We of course will always have issues to deal with and work thru but I am committed to the process of being married. It really is a process that requires total commitment, sacrifice, and compromise.
At the conclusion of the evening as we were getting ready to leave this woman shared with us from her experience. She was very humble and not "preachy" at all but shared from her heart and out of her own personal story. She told the young mothers at our table that she learned too late that no one but your self can make you happy. "Your husband cannot, your kids cannot, and you cannot put that role on them." You have to chose time for yourself and ask other moms to listen when you need a girlfriend not expecting your husband to be everything to you. She also said to make sure we were not taking for granted that our relationship was healthy.
I thought it amazing that in the midst of her seemingly overwhelming hardships that she would share with us and have an outwardly focus. When I am upset it is so easy for me to turn inwards. Her willingness to share in the middle of her struggle reminded me of a sermon my pastor gave a few weeks back. He said that struggle and hardship is how God grows us up, how He molds us into the people He wants us to be. I am sure thru her ordeal she had and continues to have moments of pain, frustration, and anger but her openness to seeking healing is what impressed me. I admire her strength and courage.
As we were leaving I asked if I could pray for her because it really seemed that pat answers like "it will get better" and "there must be a reason for all of this" seemed so dis genuine. She touched me and I am thankful she relayed her message to me. I am reminded again that I can chose to be fully invested in my life right now as a Mom, a wife, a friend, a daughter, even as I am in rediscovering who I am.

The speaker concluded her talk by sharing that when all else fails in conflict we can chose to offer a blessing. She defined blessing as releasing God's power to change the character and destiny of the one being blessed. In the Greek bless means to ask God to interfere in our lives. As we choose to bless we also ask God to change us and I know I can use the interference.