Friday, July 27, 2007

American Dream deferred

Post Script: At the beginning- weird right? After writing all my thoughts I realized that there is a lot to sort through. I am warning that the following is a messy brain spill: Beware!

I have been thinking a lot recently about the notion of the American Dream. These thoughts permeate my mind on and off but I have felt them more prevalently since having Annikah. There is something about having a baby that makes me feel I am supposed to have arrived "there." My dilemma: I am really not sure where "there" is or if it is a locale I want to be at?

Visual imagery of the white picket fence, the fulfilled wife and hard working husband, the 2.5 kids, and the golden retriever flood my mind although I know this is no longer the reality in America (or anywhere) and maybe it never was. In our capitalism and consumerism we have been marketed into believing we need certain things to be happy; to reach the elusive dream. Maybe it is nostalgic but I feel like the American Dream used to be about working hard, earning an honest living, and seeking happiness. Now it seems like happiness comes with a big price tag and part of paying that price is losing your own ability to be content and joyful with your life; just as it is and as it unfolds. There is a marked difference between being happy and being joyful. You can chose joy in the midst of anything God has for you but happiness seems dependant on one's circumstances. I struggle with even feeling joy when minor things annoy me let alone major trials. I know that joy is what I desire, I will not settle for fleeting happiness.

Of course, historically I must state the obvious that this American Dream was not equally available to everyone despite what many history textbooks would have us believe. At this point I feel it necessary to mention that I love this country and I know that I am blessed to be a woman born here but I do not think discussing and admitting the sins of our collective past makes me a bad American. To the contrary I think only through the process of difficult national self reflection will we ever come to resolutions and solutions that embrace our stated identity.

At the conference I attended last weekend one of the speakers said "the American Dream is not God's dream for your life" and I resonated with this notion. I have been feeling this way a lot recently. Not that I am ungrateful for what I have or that I am ignorant of the amazing opportunities and open doors that I encountered in my life simply because I was a white woman born in America to parents that loved me and provided for my needs and many of my wants. But I do distinguish and am more sensitive to the excess this country is preaching as necessity. I realize the hypocrisy of my even noting this while typing on my laptop in my own condo (making me among the wealthiest 1 percent of the world's population). I have the luxury of even pondering these questions while many women across the world are struggling just to live through today and keep their children physically safe. I just feel that God has been teaching me that my self worth is not based on what I have or even what I have achieved but rather who I am. I want to consciously reject some of the consumerism that has been packaged and sold to us as the American Dream. I want to be able to make choices in the freedom of knowing who I really am; my identity being rooted in my Savior. I want to do so without making judgements on others who pursue different paths. I am on no high horse or soap box here by any means as I fall into desiring things that are not needs far too often. "Fall into" lets me off the hook too easily: I chose to pursue the here and now, not the eternal things I have faith are better. God's word clearly speaks to me on my desires to chase after earthly things and reminds me of where my true treasure is,

"Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be." Matt 6:19-21. I think I will forever fight the materialism I know in my heart to be meaningless. Part of this struggle for me is the entitlement I know I have bought into. It seems much of of my frustration in life boils down to the fact that I feel entitled. I feel entitled to not have to wait in a long line at the post office, I feel entitled to not ever have my things stolen or broken, I feel entitled to have a healthy baby, a house, a car as long as I "work" for it and am a "good" person. The problem here is my outlook; that I work hard at whatever I do and therefore "deserve" things. This easily creates "me" and "them" as I look at other's circumstances and choices and I can easily look at myself as better than others. This is another dark side of the American Dream that I have too often embraced and it also robs me of the ability to receive the blessings (both large and small) in my life with open hands.

Another part of the American Dream is this notion that we can create for ourselves a "safe" place. This safety we seek is illusive. It cannot be guaranteed in our flawed, fallen world. We know this to be true every time we flip on the news of pick up a paper: children's innocence taken, families destroyed, senseless acts of violence. So many that I become apathetic to hearing about the pain. To believe we can even "be safe" is an illusion. I do not want to live a safe life, as the American Dream defines safety. I want to embrace the challenges God presents me with. Of course, I do not search for danger (and those who know me know that I will not even go running or walk at night alone). It is not about seeking out danger but rather about the choice to not avoid risk that has a purpose. I have been thinking about this as we move closer to leaving for Africa. I believe that God has something for us there. And although some days I worry; especially about Annikah, I have faith that the safest place for our family is where God has called us. It does not guarantee physical safety but rather the peace that God promises to those that risk for Him.

The Barbarian Way by Erwin R. McManus speaks to this issue in a powerful way and I reread this passage as these thoughts were rolling around my head:

"The civilised build shelters and invite God to stay with them;barbarians move with God where ever he chooses to go. The civilized religious person has a routine; the barbarian disciple has a mission. The civilized believer knows the letter of the law; the barbarian believer knows the spirit of the law. The religiously civilized love tradition; the barbarian spirit loves challenges. The civilised are satisfied with ritual; barbarians live and thrive in the mystical. For the civilised disciple, religion provides stability and certainty; for the barbarian, a life in God is one of risk and mystery. And maybe even a little insanity. There's no way to escape that barbarians can appear out of their minds. No reasonable person would ever fully follow God everywhere He calls. God is simply unreasonable. No matter how you spin the story the Bible is filled with tribes of irrational people....Anyone who ever ever risks listening to God and following his voice knows that everyone who is deaf to His voice, your actions will seem as if you've gone crazy. They are not insane, but they are crazy. One day they just got up and took the barbarian way out of civilization."
This passage really spoke to me about the messiness of life and how most of my attempts to "clean it up" leave me feeling frustrated and exasperated. There is; of course, nothing wrong with having nice things or wanting to protect your family. Instead for me, the sin lies in investing too much into these things, in believing I can achieve them on my own apart from God. Many pieces of the American Dream are for me but I want to consciously reject those parts that keep me from living in the true freedom I know is available to me. For now we are not seeking the 1.5 extra kids or the golden retriever either. :)

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Anni the technophile

Annikah is her father's daughter. After a suggestion from a Mama friend I discovered a website that Annikah enjoyed. Enjoyed might be an understatement as she panted like a dog (see video)and cried when I took her away from it prematurely. She does not quite get the "touch any key" and instead opts for the more fun and rowdy "bang the keyboard" but as I always say do something 100% or do not do it at all! I had to take her away from the game when I had flashes of an addicted, anti-social video gamer girl. OK, I may over react a little, a little Elmo peek a boo never hurt anyone right? I showed Jason her new amusing diversion when he got home from worked and he beamed with pride at his little technophile.

an excuse? I do not need one

I tried to think of an excuse to post this picture but I am out of creative ideas and thus will post it shamelessly to say CONGRATS to my one of my best friends' Jill- she just finished Grad school and rocked it! This was taken at her (as always) fab bash to celebrate her launching into the world of over qualified, beautiful, strong, and jobless (as of right now, although she will no doubt not be for long) women! I say: Jill you are awesome!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

something to which I took offense to but may be true

Preface: Annikah was pretty fussy yesterday afternoon for no apparent reason. Jason was putting her to bed which includes reading her various books. Jason selected "Five Little Monkeys" (a fine literary choice) and got into the story by creating voices while reading. When he got to the line "Mama called the doctor and the doctor said, No more monkeys jumping on the bed" he said the "No more!" part with such gusto that little, delicate, emotional Anni thought he was saying no to her and looked up at me with her big watery eyes, started to pout the lip out and sob. Jason's response: "Oh no, she is like you." At first I took offense to this but then realized that I do indeed cry at anything: good movie, moving Oprah, heck even a great hallmark commercial. Poor emotional little girl, I wonder where she gets it from?

Sunday, July 22, 2007

random sights, occurrences, & bizarre thoughts while running 12 miles along the lakefront

So, when you run 12 miles in the middle of the day with no IPOD you have a lot of time to think and observe. Here goes....
thought...mile 3.5 ...I love running, I am pretty fit to be running and training for the marathon and it is so fun to see the city. In fact, I am one pretty cool chick!
sight......complete toilet seat with the lid open sitting on Sheridan Road (no, I did not look inside!)
occurrence....mile 5...little brother and sister fighting run across my path and I almost make Asics tread marks on their foreheads
sight...mile 7...older man and woman walking along carrying jars of live goldfish (have no idea??)
thought....why is it that most of the people you see drinking Gatorade are doing nothing to warrant needing said sports drink (like, say, sitting on the grass eating a big fat burger..hard work I know)
occurrence....mile 7.5...almost get hit by bootleg ice cream VAN with silver rims (yes, folks that is right a pimped out ice cream man)
thought.....between mile 8-12..if you have chubby thighs like me you need to bring your Body Glide ( I, like an idiot forgot mine and now have chaffed and bloody thighs :)
sight....everyone in Chicago is out along the lakefront
Occurrence.....finally I found a drinking fountain (the one before this one was busted) and a very attractive young MAN in a 2 piece swim suit let me cut in front- he has a better bikini body than I will ever have and was quite nice but I must say it took me by surprise!
thought......mile 11.....I HATE running, a man must have thought up this sport, why am I doing this? You know what would be more fun...hmmm? I know being run over by a Mack truck! Could I just take CTA the last mile home? OK, I guess I will suck it up, I got myself into this and maybe God will have mercy on me and at least tighten up my jiggly bootay.
mile 12....AH, I did it, I am a cool & sporty chick!*

*This ridiculous sense of self confidence can be attributed to the "runner's high" one gets upon finishing a long run.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

swimming & shopping with Grandma

We went to the burbs today to visit Grandma Ronnie. She finagled free passes for the Lifetime Fitness center by their house so we took advantage of the beautiful indoor/outdoor pool. I still love the free pools in Chicago as they have a whole lot of character but this facility was fabulous. Anni loved everything about the pool (splashing fountains, deep end with Mama, "beach" shallow end, and most of all hanging out with Mama and Grandma Ronnie). She did pee on Grandma but it was nothing personal. As you can see she got her fitness on with the weights and had fun splashing in the fountains. After the pool we went shopping at Target and got some great deals on marked down summer clothes. Swimming and shopping...what else could a girl need. Thanks Grandma for a fun time!

my daughter is done nursing and other signs she is going off to college shortly

Anni is officially done with the boob. It all started a few weeks back when she dropped nursing in the afternoon. She just was too busy and seemed annoyed when I offered. She then gradually started nursing less and less at the times she would nurse. She still always wanted to nurse first thing in the morning (which was fine with me because my boob is always ready to go as opposed to preparing a bottle in my groggy state). But then this week she decide "nope, I am just done" and refused to nurse at all. She did it in a polite way, I should say, as she did not fuss or push me away (perhaps she was afraid of hurting my delicate psyche :). She just had no interest. At first I was worried and a little sad as it is one more illustration that she is getting to be so old (along with her recent forays into the world or art, story time, swimming, eating everything herself, and crawling)! I talked with other Moms and read up online and it may be that my milk supply decreased when she dropped a few sessions or that my recent training schedule has decreased my supply as well. Bottom line: Annikah is moving on and I am OK with that. She did get so many health benefits (not to mention cost benefits-formula is expensive and as you know we are cheap) by nursing almost 11 months. I am glad we stuck it out through the initial first few weeks of difficulties and that we had that special time together. But after a few days of getting used to it I am fine, even gleeful that I can now sport a regular bra, not have to always be on the look out for appropriate places to whip it out in public, yes, that is right I have my boobs back! I may even need to celebrate by getting a new bra. Plus, the girls could use one as nourishing Anni has left my boobs a mere shadow of their former, happy, and perky selves. Here is to accepting my baby getting to be such a big girl.

Joel & Silas come to town

Today Annikah's cousins Joel & Silas came to visit (along with their fabulous Mama Jorie). It was a last minute "play date" mostly initiated by Joel, who upon seeing Annikah's Weeble Castle on this blog insisted that "Mama, we need to go to "cago" (Chicago in Joel speak) to play with weeble castle." I applaud Joel for his brilliant idea! It was great to see Jorie and catch up (in between chasing kids, making lunches, and cleaning up after them) and as always Joel and Silas were bundles of energy and as sweet as can be. Anni is so lucky to have such fun older cousins. We decided to check out story time at Loyola Park. By the time we got there Jorie and I were covered in sweat as it was so humid but we enjoyed the break of sitting on the blanket with the kids. The story time was really cute with costumes and actors to tell the stories. Annikah mostly enjoyed watching the other kids and the snacks (she is sooo like me). The video illustrates her love of story time with her cousins. On the way back Silas and Anni were so cute flirting back and forth and they also held hands (really, does it get cuter than that?).
After lunch we of course had to take Joel and Silas to the beach. Anni showed of her love of the water and even did the splits to show off (see photo). I think cleaning up after the beach took more time than actually being at the beach but it was worth it. The Weeble play date was a success with weebles everywhere as Jorie brought their famed Weeble Treehouse (see video of the hard core Weeble Par-tay).
As Jorie was packing up to leave my RPM group was arriving and Anni managed to squeeze in a nap. We hung out with her RPM buddies (minus Francie- we miss you and yo' Mama). Jason walked in the door soon after everyone left and just as Anni finished dinner. I finished my night by running 4.5 miles in the pouring rain with the dedicated and fabulous Beck. Sitting and writing (ok, typing) tonight is the first chance to catch my breath today but it was a fun, busy, and blessed day spent with dear friends and family. Lucky us!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

FINALLY! She crawls...sort of..

Annikah has finally started crawling. She used to just roll and the scout on her butt to get at certain toys but that was pretty slow and she realized it was much easier to fuss until Mama or Papa got her said desired item. No more! She started bear crawling and now gets pretty much where ever she wants to go. I first discovered this by putting my glass of water down after our morning run yesterday out of her reach while she played. I was stretching and then looked over and she had crawled to the water and proceeded to dump the full glass all over herself and the carpet. Today she is getting quicker and even followed me into the hall. I am very impressed with her new skill! I am sure i will soon learn the downside to my mobile baby (as I have been warned by many friends a redecorating of sorts must occur) I am enjoying her being excited that she can do it! Here is a sampling of her mad new skill.

Monday, July 16, 2007

who knew Annikah could draw?

It never occurred to me to give Anni crayons and paper (mostly because she has an affinity for eating paper) but yesterday at Chili's Jason suggested we let her try to "color." He explained that in his book A New Father's Guide it said that babies can try to color this early. I was very impressed with his knowledge and decided we should see what she did with the crayons. After one attempt to eat it she did indeed make marks on the little menu. Of course, we looked at each other proudly as if she had just been awarded a scholarship for her brilliance. Today I gave her some of those big crayons made for little kids to hold (I used them when I taught preschool) and viola!! I think her first masterpiece is abstract with an attention to detail and brilliant use of color (her technique involved holding the crayon and banging it to make little dots and lines). She seems very pleased with her creation and her Mama was also so proud.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Anni parties it up in the hood

After church and a mid day trip to the beach we headed over to Clark Street in Roger's Park (our beloved and sometimes bedraggled neighborhood). There was a street festival going on that was packed with Mexican food, live music, and families! We joined the fun while walking through. Annikah enjoys these loud festivities I think because she has so many other little kids to stare at and communicate with. It almost seems as if you were really quiet you could hear the babies talking while being pushed in their strollers past one another saying "What is up girl?" "Can you believe they strap us these things and have the nerve to NOT buy us ice cream?" "I know, it is rough, see you around."
We also ran into our great friends from South Africa; Tim and Chloe. They were working a booth for their church plant that grew out of their home. It is called Fusion and they have amazing stories of community and faith. It was great to catch up with them even if for just a minute.
I included a few photos of our escapades around town mostly because the one of me and Anni cracks me up- that is what I get when I ask Jason to take a cute picture of Anni and me. We both look irritated but I promise you we were having fun. Here is a video that shows us grooving and Annikah getting a bit cultured by listening to the live music. Yeah for gorgeous weather and neighborhood festivals!

Anni's first trip to the Shedd Aquarium

Jason, Anni, and I went to the Shedd today. We used the Great Kids Museum pass (which is very hard to get (like winning the lottery hard) and thanks to our rock star award recipient friend Nicole we monopolized it for 2 weeks instead of the customary one week.) You see I go to the library at least once a week to read books to Anni and to check on the various free passes they have and NEVER in 10 months have they had the aquarium pass, which only served to fuel my quest for the illusive pass. Last week on a morning run I stopped in and they had it, I almost peed in my pants (ok, maybe this proves I NEED to get out more) but still I was very excited so I checked it out. The bummer was last week was 4th of July and then our anniversary date so we never used it. I was determined not to let me found treasure go to waste so I asked my girlfriend Nicole (famed mother of Charlotte) to check it out seconds after I turned it in. A little shady you may say but, hey, I am shameless for free stuff! Plus, thank goodness we had the pass because the price is now apparently affected by oil prices or something (either that or they are making these fishies gold and bling "habitats") because the admission is ridiculous at 18 bucks for kids and like 20 for adults (and that does not include special exhibits)! Ok, my tirade is over but we were able to "steal" two kids behind us in line and let them in for free with our pass so we spread the free love (their mom was very appreciative since she already shelled out 15 bucks for parking)! Unless you enjoy waiting is a crazy long line I would also recommend against going on a Saturday but we were able to enjoy ourselves by chatting it up with everyone around us (we even met a couple with a son Anni's age and the mom was also training for a marathon). We also actually found a metered parking spot which made our day so all around it was a fun cheap day!
Annikah loved the fish, much more eventful than the zoo as she could see them moving and enjoyed kisses the glass and waving at the penguins (I had actual footage of this adorable exchange but being the electronic diva I am I erased it by accident!). The aquarium was so crowded but we were able to see almost everything and Annikah LOVED looking at the fish. She would point as they would swim by her and make her noise we know refer to as her "this or that" noise. She points as if she is saying "look at that!" She also really liked the tank of fish from Lake Tanganyika-see photo (she is all ready for Africa!). It was fun to be able to be tourists in our own city again and this time share something new with Annikah. I think one of my favorite things about being her mom is getting to be the first person to watch her explore and discover new things. She likes the world of fish.

Friday, July 13, 2007

worst mama ever!

Today it happened..... Annikah's first real injury (besides shots at the Dr's office and the trauma of being born- that was pretty bad for both of us). I gotta say at least she goes BIG! No little head bumps or face plants for my baby. No, she fell off the kitchen counter. The scene: she was happily sitting in her BUMBO seat on the counter (ok, I know, it clearly states on the box that you should never do this but almost every Mom I know has done it). I was getting lunch ready for both of us, the entire time never more than a foot away from her. She was amusing herself by grabbing and then dropping everything in her reach while I rushed around. I cut some grapes and filled her tray with finger foods. In one hand I grabbed her highchair tray and in the other I had my lunch as I walked past Anni to set everything down on the table. In that instant she lurched forward and turned in an attempt to grab the food and then it happened. She propelled her little self off the counter onto the floor. I saw it is slow motion out of the corner of my eye and at first thought she has launched yet another item onto the floor. When I realized it was Anni I still had both hands full. I dropped everything and ran but I missed her and she thudded on the floor. It was so sad. Her little face looked at me and her eyes swelled with tears as if to say "why, Mama, did you do this irresponsible thing? Why didn't you save me from myself? Isn't that your job?" I was heartbroken. She cried for just a minute once I held her and was back to chowing down her lunch a few minutes later but I was still shook up.

I called Jason at work for comfort and his first statement was "what if she has a brain bleed?" That really makes you feel better let me tell you. I then hit a full on panic and decided to call our pediatrician (who we are seeing tomorrow for an ear recheck). She said not to worry unless she was very tired or appeared not to be herself but she was fabulously cute and besides the bump on her head was her adorable self. The doctor also added "honey, don't worry it happens to everyone." Even if she was lying I appreciated the vote of confidence as I felt sure Jason was dialing DCFS from work and if I ever wanted to see Anni again we may have to go on the run. I still feel terrible but she recovered like a champ and seems to have completely forgotten and forgiven me for my gross inadequacies (it seems with me as a mother she may have to get used to this (the forgiving, hopefully not the plummeting from high surfaces). So, that is my story of being the worst Mom ever...letting my precious baby tumble 4 feet onto a hard kitchen that one!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Anni wobbles but she does fall down

Jason already got Annikah her birthday present. I know it is a little early but I guess we figured she has no clue when her birthday is anyway. After visiting Jorie and Mark and watching Anni memorized by Silas's "Weeble Treehouse" Jason was on a mission to get one or something similarly "weeble-licious". In typical JaRox fashion actually paying retail was out of the question and so began our search on-line for a cheap one. Jason bid on a few on Ebay and watched them religiously until the time ticked down (beware those last minute Ebay bidders, I hate those folks who bid at the last second when I have been biding and wanting the thing for a week. Ok, I know "that is how Ebay works" and if you are one of those people I apologize but still secretly judge you :)). Jason was so pumped when we won! We paid less that half retail for the super deluxe, obscenely large "Weebalot Castle." About 5 days later our big package arrived and we were definitely more excited than Annikah. Since most of Anni's toys are hand me downs (which is our favorite because they are free) we enjoyed picking something out for her. We finally put the needed batteries in yesterday and now she really loves the spinning dance floor for the Weebles. She dances along with them while launching them down the slide: fun times! She does love her Weeble castle I gotta say. Perhaps it is because she looks sort of like a Weeble (cute, bottom heavy, doesn't get around too well, except when she wobbles she sometimes falls down). This resemblance occurred to me today when we were outside in our front yard enjoying the warm weather. I will allow you to judge for yourself (the weeble is on the left in case you got confused).

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

a fussy baby & a "BM in the pool": the story of my day

Today Anni and I ventured out to run errands in the morning. You know dry cleaners, fill a prescription, mail some things, etc and it was so hot!!! I actually felt like I was melting but we had things to do so we suffered (ok, I am being melodramatic here). Anni was pretty fussy in the stroller but a few teddy grahams seemed to help her condition and we pressed on. Once we got home she hit full on meltdown. This is a term that before you have kids you have only a vague sense of its meaning. You know there must be general unhappiness and some crying but you really are clueless. Let me educate you: meltdowns for Anni involve general and unending tragedy in the form of crying no matter what she is presented with, making her dead monkey noises, and occasionally throwing stuff or pinching me. Lucky for me we had all of the above today. I tried to make her lunch to ease her pain but nothing helped. I think her ear is still bothering her (we have a recheck appointment on Friday). She was having none of her lunch so we hung out and I put her to bed early more to save my sanity.
After her all too short nap I decided I would load her up and take her swimming at the park district pool we have been to several times. I reasoned that the car ride hell she might have to experience would be forgiven once she saw the pool. So, we bravely took off and actually she was ok in the car as long as her music was playing turned up loudly with me singing along (she does not seem to care that I am tone deaf). I thought nothing of how incredibly dorky I looked until a couple of guys drove up in a pimped out car blaring "party like a rock star" and and laughed at me singing "Loves come a tumbling down" at the top of my lungs. We got there found a perfect parking spot right in front where Anni saw the pool and pointed and squirmed. Yeah we made it and this activity would keep her content until dinner time and Jason's arrival home! We made our way inside and I looked over the desk and through the window at the pool and it was completely vacant. A free pool in Chicago in 90 degree weather: something was terribly wrong. At least I had the sense to ask a park district employee before beginning the ordeal of changing her into her swim diaper and suit. I located a women in a bright yellow shirt with a walkie- talkie (the automatic symbol that you are in charge or at least know what is going on). She looked frazzled. I asked if I read the schedule correctly "this is family swim right?" She replied "it is supposed to be but someone took a B.M. in the pool." This immediately both disgusted me and made me laugh out loud. Although the women did not seem to find the situation as amusing. She explained that she called the engineer and was waiting for someone to clean it up and then reset the chemicals and all that could take 30 minutes to a hour. Annikah decided not to wait around. It wasn't a total loss of a trip. I did take Anni outside to the playground and let her swing (she may have been wondering why we drove 10 minutes to a swing set when we have one around the corner). Another bonus was watching kids go in the park district building and then running out yelling various amusing (to a 4th grader or me) things like "ewww, someone dumped in the pool." My day was not so bad at all. Jason is home now rocking the Tylenol filled Annikah to sleep and at least I did not have the job of telling scores of people looking to cool off in a refreshing free pool that there was indeed a B.M. in the pool.

we have matching chairs...yeah, we are "those people"

We have been wanting to get beach chairs since we got married and keep putting it off in favor of other purchases (not that they are super costly but more that we are super cheap). We finally found the best chairs complete with neck padding and the ability to wear it as a backpack keeping your hands free to carry other gear. We got them up in Lake Geneva over the 4th and my mom saw that they made a kid version and insisted that she wanted to get it for Anni. We were skeptical. After all, we reasoned; why does a baby need a beach chair? But folks I submit this photo as evidence that Annikah loves her beach chair. She sat in it for about 30 minutes before fussing to go in the water. Aren't we cute?

Sunday, July 8, 2007

24 hours without Anni Joy

I learned several things in the last 24 hours without my daughter. You see on July 7th it was our 6th year anniversary ( ok, before anyone comments on the lucky 7's things and the billion people that got hitched yesterday, let me just say that we thought it was a fab date way back when before "everyone was doing it") and my Mom and sister graciously offered to watch Annikah for us so we could have a night out. A night out was had! We drove back to Chicago to actually get dressed up, have dinner, see the Color Purple, and stay at a hotel downtown. It was the longest time I have been away from Annikah since her birth (well, technically since her conception but since all she was doing then was hanging out making me sick and fat that may not count). Jason & I had such a great time. I learned several things in the 24 hours without my baby girl:
*I miss her a ton even when I have only been away from her for 10 minutes
*It takes time to mentally get "away" as in I needed a few hours to actually start to enjoy being away from motherhood and feel free without feeling guilty
*It is important for me to be away from Anni so that she learns to trust others and so that I learn that she will be well cared for without me
*Jason and I are best friends and we are so compatible (from agreeing on the choice of food to what we see for ourselves in a few years)
*I have become an idiot that cannot pack for myself (I forgot my purse and other necessities, but I always seem to have Anni's sippy)
*I notice and talk to every parent I see with a baby (this is the same as with Annikah)
*I love being a tourist in my own city (we even attended part of a church service at 4th Presbyterian Church on Michigan Avenue- so beautiful!)
*Sleeping in is now officially a thing of the past (we were up at 7am despite staying up really late (wink, wink,nudge, nudge) but took the opportunity to sight see and walk along the lake
*It is fun to get dressed up once in a while and feel like a hot woman not just like someones Mama
*I love theater! It is so full of possibilities
*You have a lot less junk without a baby with you
*I LOVE Thai food (we ate at Vong's Thai kitchen & we highly recommend the shrimp panang curry-yummy!)
*Michigan Avenue & the lakefront is awesome and I just do not get how anyone could not love this city!
*When you do not have to work around eating and nap schedules you can be a lot more laid back
*I am grateful we have family that is loving and caring and willing to bless us by loving Anni is our absence
*I love Jason, not just as Anni's Papa but as my husband and marrying him 6 years ago was one of the best decisions in my life
Now that Anni is peacefully back at home sleeping in her crib (as I type) I am thankful for both my time with her and without her.

4th of July

We have been away from home since the 4th of July. It has been a great few days.
The run down:
On the 4th we visited Jason's Aunt Ruth and Uncle John at their beautiful house in Elgin and got to help celebrate Jason's cousin Matt's 1 year old son Trevor's b-day. Anni and Trevor are second cousins (or something like that, I never quite understood those terms but they are the kids of 2 cousins so whatever). The picture above is of them floating in the pool together with Clara (Trevor's Mom) and Jason. It was awesome to catch up with his cousins (Matt and Sam and their respective lasses Clara and Christina). After spending the afternoon lounging and chatting it up (of course with some serious eating thrown in there) we headed up to my parent's lake house in Lake Geneva. We joined my parents, sister Katy, her boyfriend Jimmy, my brother Rob, his girlfriend Annie, and 2 loud but cute dogs. We had gorgeous-makes-you-want-to-sing- weather and enjoyed more eating intermixed with rides on the new boat, tubing (Anni sat that one out), swimming, riding the golf cart around (ones of Anni's favorites), and watching Anni splash around in her risque but patriotic string bikini (another Grandma purchase, along with the fake crocs). Annikah was very brave and even tolerated the life jacket swim suit (we scoured Walmart for) while floating off the boat with us. She also is really getting better about traveling which is a huge relief, she slept until about 6:30am every morning and would just sit up and wave and talk until we got out of bed to get her. She also slept freakishly long for naps ( a trend we are hoping will continue but that was probably due to the lake air and activity). She also enjoyed her first Popsicle. It was a love-hate relationship: see video. It was a wonderful chance to relax and appreciate all God has blessed us with. Thanks everyone who helped make our time special!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

100th post and 100th trip to the lake

This is my 100th post...I feel as though I should commemorate it somehow. I shall dance. Feel free to join me where you are cuz everyone loves a reason to do a little ditty. Seriously, who knew I had so much to say (ok, besides my poor husband). It has been awesome to write and reflect and share: Thanks for humoring me and reading.

It was a brilliantly beautiful cooler than usual weekend. We spent Saturday night with some great friends from our old stompin' ground Champaign-Urbana. Jason and Melanie are amazing people and although we do not get to see each other often we always manage to catch up, tell stories, and get in interesting political and religious discussions. On Saturday we also had Anni's 9 month check up (I know for all those keeping track she is actually 10 months but we had to reschedule her appointment 3 times). She has another ear infection, poor baby. It does not seem to phase her really but we hope she gets better soon. We also took her back to her favorite spot: the lake and again she insisted on going in, clothes and all. When we got home I scooped about a 1/2 cup of sand out of her diaper. Soon she will get to go in Lake Geneva when we visit my family on the 4th. The 4th is one of my favorite holidays (not really because of the historical part although we should really be celebrating the 2nd of July as that is the day the declaration was really signed or perhaps even more memorable events that occurred on the 4th itself like the Union victory after the siege of Vicksburg in 1863, I digress...). But mostly because it means eating tons of cook out food, seeing family and friends, and being outside in fabulously hot weather. As an added bonus it is our anniversary (6 years) this coming Saturday and we have a fun date planned!*

*You will have to come back to hear all (well, not all) just some of the juicy details.

a measurable goal

I am officially training to run the Chicago Marathon this year. I just concluded the 4th week of training and I now finally feel like I am really doing this! Crazy maybe, but I really feel that I need a measurable goal. Being a Mama is amazing and truly a blessing as I get to see Annikah grow and change and learn and discover everyday. For me; though, I have realized that I miss having a goal with a set timetable and a definable beginning and end. Now, we obviously have huge goals for raising Annikah but the measurable part is what I am craving. When I was a teacher there was always the end of the school year, when I was a ministry leader there was always the end of a big event but with Anni it seems like I cannot always see the results of my hard work. I know that the rewards are in her little being, that she is thriving and so much fun right now but for me I decided I need to push myself in a different way, to not lose who I am apart from Annikah's mother. I am following Hal Higdon's training program (I followed this religiously back in 2003 the first time I ran the marathon). This time I have to be a bit more laid back about following everything as motherhood demands. So, I am officially running the marathon again. I ran 9 miles this Saturday and although it was tough (the longest I have run since being pregnant) it felt so great! I ran along the lakefront path with the mile markers guiding my progress along with many other would-be marathoners. One step in front of the other is what it takes. Pushing myself physically really helps me connect to who I am. I still do not think of myself as a "runner." It may be hard for some to understand (like my hubby who only runs when chased :) but I am excited about my new goal. So, if you are not busy October 7th come out and cheer me on (if you have never been to the marathon I highly recommend it, it is inspiring and fun).
So, 26.2 here i come again! Every one of those miles is measurable and I will cross the finish line!