Thursday, January 31, 2008

citrus overload

Anni has been up to more than beating up her friends lately. Her newest passion is Clementine’s and in case you ever wondered just how many of the small orange pieces of heaven one toddler can eat the record for Annikah is 6 in one day so far. I was not sure if I should be concerned about her consuming mass quantities of the little suckers (I mean it is healthy right? She could be downing chicken Mcnuggets by the 20 pack so I should count my blessings I reasoned). I even looked up side effects on the internet secretly hoping some official medical site would say "excessive citrus consumption by toddlers can cause them to kick everyone's butt." No such luck. In fact, the only thing I really found was that in pregnant women the jury is still out on whether it can cause allergies in the fetus and since Anni is not "with child" I figure we are a'ight. I digress, but she does LOVE the little things and beside the rather neon poop around here they seem to be causing no harm.
I made a little video montage in honor of Anni's new obsession. I hope you enjoy it and have a Clementine today and think of Anni.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

pinching, squeezing, and a few reflections for me

this describes Anni's main gigs recently.

She has taken to pinching and squeezing and generally messing up any kids who dare come near her. It is not the simple " hey, this is mine" shove or pinch but like she is declaring full out war, like she found nukes or something hidden in their snack trap. I would expect this action if the other kid had whipped out some sort of weapon but usually they just want to push the car she is in or share the ball. I joke but really it has been tough for me.
Like I am "that mom" who does not discipline her kid and just allows her to go around pummeling poor unsuspecting bambinos. Every time Anni does it I give her a warning and then a timeout (which she hates) but then after saying sorry she jumps right back again and does it five seconds later. Very demoralizing. My initial thought was to run from any place that she may exhibit this behavior in an immature (on my part) avoidance. You know, the awesome logic that if I ignore it it will go away (which I know may be true of small toddler woes but I have also seen the 8th grade result of parents ignoring every negative behavior). I have this skill for somehow making everything about me. Like Anni's behavior is A. my fault and B. my complete responsibility and C. the sum of who I am as a person.
I have reflected over the past few days about why I am "so patient" with other people's children, even dealing with 8th graders who punched me and called me so many names I had to google the crazy ones. Somehow I always saw the good kid in there and realized it was not about me when they lashed out. Why is it so easy for me to take Anni's behavior so personally? Of course the obvious answer is "it is different when it is your own child" but it is deeper than that. I think part of it is that somehow with my 9month pregnant belly I had distorted hopes that my child who lead a charmed life, that she would avoid the common pitfalls of toddler-dom (and beyond). This was never discussed or verbalized but it was somehow in the depths of my psyche as my attitudes of late illustrate. It is a pride thing for me. I am embarrassed of her behavior because it reflects on me. This is my delusion as I need to be concerned for her development into a girl and woman who cares more about what God thinks of her character than about what others think, more concerned about doing what is right when "non one" is watching then when everyone is.
I also am learning just how patient God has been with me, repeating the same sins time and time again and even justifying it as I go. How amazing His mercy is and how undeserving I am of His grace. That is helping me internalize the kind of love I need to foster for Annikah and others in my life. The kind that says "I love you enough to follow through" and "my love for you is not based on your behavior this moment" and "despite what anyone thinks......."

So back to the squeezing and pushing incident..I realized running and ducking was not the answer. I went back to Tot Lot and was scared she would do it again and was I right. It was like she b-lined straight for the little girl with the beloved and coveted after plastic car and shoved her out of the way and then squeezed her face for good measure. The poor victim never saw it coming and sobbed! After apologizing and a time out for Miss WW3 I followed the advice of an awesome Mama friend of mine and said "Anni, if you do that one more time we are leaving!" followed by "do you understand?" to which she responded with her head nod yes. Not 3 minutes later BAM, pushes a girl on the slide and pulls her hair and then, oh yes squeezes her face. So now I had to follow through with my threat (even though this was my only chance to get out and be with other parents for the day). We left and Anni cried most of the walk home.
Yesterday and today she was much better as I babysat both days and she was sharing and "helping" me with the babies (she calls them babies even though they are only a few months younger but hey, take seniority where you can get it I guess).
I think part of it has to do with my reflection, decision to have a new attitude, and God's answer to prayer. Not that she will not behave this way again but I feel more equipped to cope and lead and love. Because I know my Father is leading and healing me and helping me love.
Hopefully, things will continue to improve around her or you may see a posting for her on Ebay (ok, it is a joke, lighten up :).

Anni the paradox

So this morning I put Annikah in her high chair and decided not to make her wear a bib as recently bibs are akin to savage beatings. She puts up her hands as if to say "get that thing away from me you evildoer" and always adds a scream or grunt for added emphasis. If I am actually successful at getting the bib on she then yanks on it until A. it comes off or B. her neck gets red from the pulling. I have been trying to navigate this toddler world by choosing my battles. So if she wants to dirty her PJ's who I am to stop her? We will just change her cloths for the day when she is done manhandling her pancakes and eggs.

So there I am cutting up her pancake and I turn around to present it to the queen and what do I see? She has actually moved her highchair by kicking her feet against the counter and reached over to grab......... a BIB that she is proceeding to put around her neck backwards. That is my child, "you will not dictate what I need, I shall make my own decisions."

Friday, January 25, 2008

the ear infection fairy

Poor Anni has yet another ear infection. We knew she was getting one in Florida and it was confirmed when I took her to the doctor yesterday. I felt so bad for her when the doctor said she could not believe that Anni flew and slept ok the night before with such a bad infection. She also said if we were not moving to Africa that she would need surgery to put in ear tubes. Despite being visited by the ear infection fairy Anni has been a trooper. Here is her last night laughing it off with some high chair antics.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Florida Festivities

We are back safe (although not happy as it is frigid here-blick) from Florida. It was a short but awesome get away. Jason, Annikah, and I crashed in on my parent's hotel and they were so generous to treat us to some meals and allow us to generally be parasites off of their vacation :)

Here are some of the highlights of our trip:

*Grandma spoiling Anni with some cute clothes and this ridiculous hat and glasses that she loves and of course plenty of Disney gear so she can start her obsession with the mouse empire.
*Warm weather, warm, weather, and oh yeah warm weather!! We enjoyed the heated baby pool and lots of time outside.
*Anni's first trip to the Magic Kingdom. We thought she may be too young to really have fun but we were wrong! She loved the rides and the craziness of kids running everywhere. We were surprised that she was not even afraid of complete darkness or loud noises on some rides. She especially loved Dumbo, the cars, and the Country Bears Jamboree (of course she danced her way through the songs). She was so cute as she would see the ride as we were waiting in line and she would repeat the sign for "please" until we made it to the front of the line.

*Grandma actually enjoyed "Small World" despite the annoying song because Anni's mouth was wide open in awe of all the dancing, singing "babies" as she called them.
*Jason and I got to run through the park after my mom took Anni home for a nap. We had an amusing game of "spot the kool-aid drinkers" as we called it. The object of the game was to find kids or adults dressed in crazy full Disney gear. The scariest ones being the little girls with fake princess hair (a little too JonBenet for me).
Of course we hit our favorite rides, the Haunted House and Pirates (where I HAD to take a picture of the hairy leg as I have every time I have been to Disney World).
We also got to hit Downtown Disney one night after she was sleep as Grandma and Grandpa babysat. Thanks so much!!

We got to visit with John (my Godfather) and Jerry and Bill (My grandmother's sister and husband) and at dinner Anni could not handle sitting at the table and much preferred dancing to the live entertainment. Everyone seated around her clapped and laughed as she worked it out. She even got applause and a special necklace from the singer. We should hire her out!
*Anni was absolutely fabulous on the planes both ways (I know we were shocked too)! She insisted on carrying her lunch bag through the airport and killed time by licking the windows while we filled out the paperwork because South West lost our car seat.
I am very grateful we were able to enjoy a few days escaping the Chicago tundra. It was energizing and fabulous!
Here is a video of some of Anni's favorite Florida adventures.....

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

no apologies for shameless joy

We are in Florida and it is grand and warm and wonderful. Here is a sight that was extremely joy inducing today as I had forgotten what my piggies looked like after being trapped inside socks and boots for months. Ah, the simple things make me so sun and warmth and spending time as a family. I am getting my vitamin K fix!!
We went to the Magic kingdom yesterday and Anni had a blast (Jason and I stayed later and explored while Rock Star Award recipient Grandma took Anni home for a nap after her big day). We spent this morning at the pool.
More on our other adventures is too nice to sit in here and type :)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I remember now

So upon a nights sleep and some reflection I remember all of the sweet and adorable Anni-isms. It also helps that she is being more of herself today (although I guess yesterday was "herself" as well and that is part of this journey of being her Mama, of loving her no matter what just like I want to be loved, I am sure she will do more in the future than slap her friends to make me want to scream or probably more often cry). She sat this morning on my lap and we watched tons of her little videos on this blog. It was not really planned but after I showed her her latest she kept signing "more." In some cosmic way it was like God knew I needed to watch them so He prompted her to say "hey lady, see how darn cute I am?", to be reminded of the blessing and honor it is to take part in parenting her. I love when I get something I already know but need to be reminded of.

Here is her being her cute self at the Tot Spot this morning.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

waving the white flag

Today is no fun and I want to give up. I am having a day where I cannot remember one cute, endearing, or adorable thing Annikah does. I cannot remember these things because my mind is clouded by the rude, irritating, and nasty things she has done today. I am trying really hard to be patient and kind to her despite this behavior. I am holding on, desperately asking God to help me not respond in anger. I IM'ed Jason and he reminded me that she probably does not feel well, or is teething, or whatever but I really do not care. I just want her to act like my Anni and stop this craziness. It has really made me sad more than anything. I babysat Jonah today and she was just plain mean to him, snatching any toy he wanted to play with and yelling if he tried to come near her. She was not just fussy but angry. She had three time outs before 10 am (usually she never even gets three a day). I feel defeated, like I do not know what to do, like it is my fault she is behaving this way, like if I was a good parent she would respond to my correction. I realize this journey is part of parenting and days like this come but I find myself staring at the clock wishing it would tick faster so I can have some refuge from this. I know my sweet Anni is in there but she is doing a pretty good job of hiding right now. At least the tyrannical dictator is in her room taking a nap (or at least she is quiet) for a short while. I need this moment (exhale). I also need a strong sedative, or at least a bubble bath but we shall hold on and hope she awakes with a new attitude.

from her own mouth

I was looking for Annikah's swim suit since we are leaving for Florida on Saturday and discovered these items which Anni decided she wanted to sport all morning.

At least she admits it.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Which one is not like the others?

Anni arranged the baby dolls at the museum like this and then proceeded to sit and read to them while other poor kids wondered around baby doll-less. It was too cute!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Anni officially joins the ranks of female

Not to stereotype (as I am usually the first to jump on anyone who makes potentially offensive to women comments especially if those remarks are made by men) but my Anni is officially a girly girl. She has this ridiculous pair of leopard print shoes (purchased by my mom who is the queen of buying all things ludicrous but adorable, not at all needed but desired). Well, Annikah recently discovered that she owns these crazy shoes while I was organizing (ok, well by organizing I guess I mean shuffling around and moving things in her overflowing box o' crap I keep on her dresser, but organizing makes me feel better so let's just go with that) and has since been obsessed with wearing them. They do not really "go" with anything but she cares not and has been setting new toddler trends (I swear some paparazzi followed us from the Dollar Store today to catch her in them). The girl wants to wear them and will go retrieve them if you bring her other much more practical shoes. Said practical shoes might as well be granny white sneakers as Anni now will have nothing but her leopard print (trimmed in pink) Mary Jane's and I say "welcome to ranks of girly-dom sweet Anni Joy."

chillin' with Grandma Rho

Jason's Mom came out this week to visit and spend time with Annikah. Usually Anni is a little cautious with both of our Moms (I know so weird as they both spoil and love her) but this week it was not so, she even preferred Grandma Rho to me!

Highlights of Anni's time with Grandma were: showing off her mad dancing skills at her music class, playing a game Anni & Grandma invented where you pretend to sleep on the couch and then laugh (yeah, folks that is the whole game but Anni wanted to do it 20 times a day and Grandma acquiesced: bless her),
sitting in a big girl chair in Grandma's "office" coloring, stealing Grandma's breakfast every morning even after chowing down on her ample pancakes or eggs,
reading books with Grandma and her friend Gilly, and singing special songs that only Grandma knows. I think her favorite activity was the hobby horse game (see video) and after a while Anni would even get very particular pointing to the knee she wanted to "ride". To Anni it never got old but poor Grandma Rho is probably icing her knee as I type. She even made us all dinner one night; we love it when Grandma Rho visits! Anni (and us) already miss you!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

a hectic morning

Since Miss Annikah has dropped her morning nap and now protests even a "rest period" in her crib I have taken to showering and getting dressed tres rapido. Well, this has a cost. I just realized that my underwear (as you may know I cannot bring myself to even spell the other "p" word for undies that some use) was on inside out for like 6 hours. Yeah, we walked to the park district, played in the Tot Spot, walked home, my brother swung by, we had lunch and started making dinner and now at 1:15 I just took enough time to actually notice my undies were inside out the whole darn time. I do not know if I can even blame that one on motherhood but I will try.

Monday, January 7, 2008

60 degrees in January!!

What else is there to do with a 60 degree day in January but get out of the house and go to the zoo with friends? It is warm: Hallelujah! I needed this, a day to get out and enjoy some fresh air that does not make your boogers freeze (even if the melted snow is making the ground a muddy mess). We met some friends from 13 M&M's Mom's group at Lincoln Park Zoo. The kids enjoyed the animals especially the primate house and stealing snacks from one another. Annikah was enthralled with "big girl" Isabel and wanted to hold hands and walk with her everywhere. So sweet! It was a fabulous morning.

something to think about......hard

I recently read an article by a former peace corp volunteer that reminded me of the difficulties Jason and I will walk into in Africa (if you have a chance read it!). I, of course have realized this before but visiting Tanzania is completely different that living and working there. It is easy to be here in the States and tell people the simple, watered down version of our ministry plans and vision. A common response is "oh, that is great!" sometimes even said like we are so awesome and somehow brave to be going to such a place. I do not think we are at all. We are following what God has called us to do and some days I wish things were simpler, like packing up and moving, like saying goodbye to family and friends (even if just for a time), and leaving a life that is pretty great here in Chicago.

I also wish there were easier solutions to cycles of poverty and crime, epidemics such as lack of access to education and disease, the issue sustainable farming and globalization....and the list goes on and overwhelms me. If you listen to candidates on either side right now sometimes it seems like there are easy solutions and that they have the key but the reality is that these problems are complex, the causation and effects are difficult to battle. Teaching on the South side I learned this lesson with haste. I naively thought my first year would be similar to Dangerous Minds; that I would walk my white butt in there, and with some caring and high expectations, begin to relate and help heal the pain my students were in. Was I ever misguided. What I began to grasp is that the more you get involved with other's lives; the more you are vulnerable the more you sense your own pain, brokenness and your own need for healing. I also realized that the problems others face are not easily understood or solved; especially by an outsider, even one with the best of intentions. It is true that kids (or anyone) do not care how much you know unless they know how much you care. Living life with, being real, and giving of myself was, with time, the only thing that produced any fruit. My prayer is that God would enable us to be students of the culture in Africa and learn before we seek to change, question ourselves before we ask of others, and above all love without expecting anything in return. This is the stuff of really living life.

my sister kicks!

As I mentioned before My lil sister performed in the Rose Bowl and even though the Illini stank it up I wanted to post a pic of her in action!! (She is in the back row middle Blondie) Check out that kick!

Friday, January 4, 2008

turtle touching

Last week we finally made our way to an aquarium on the southern coast of the island that is home to many turtles. We tried once before to search it out with little success. That was when we were new to living here and assumed that if it was an aquarium there must be signs. Well, there was one small sign but you could only find this place if A.) you were incredible lucky B.) a taxi drove you there or C.0 you speak enough Kiswahili to ask the locals in the village where to find it. Lucky for us we were able to ask and finally after 3 or 4 wrong turns found the small aquarium. We had promised Annikah that we would see turtles and we were going to deliver! The huge sea turtles lived in the natural lagoon where they are protected. The owners of the aquarium pay fishermen more then they would get at market to save the turtles and bring them here so they can make it to adulthood. They are huge!! They also have a snake, some land tortoises, and a big iguana. Annikah's favorite part was touching and "petting" (can you pet something with no fur?) the baby sea turtles which they let you pick up from a small tank. There was no railing over the massive lagoon and no place to wash your hands after, making the experience totally African but we loved it and of course I always come armed with the essential hand washing in a crunch items. Annikah was so exhausted from her turtle lovin' that she passed out and slept the entire way home despite the bumpy road. Another successful adventure enjoying the beauty of our new home.

Annikah remarked "mama, me like that little one"
"Papa pick up 'nother one"
one of the guides shows Anni the massive snake, thankfully that one stayed in the cage

Thursday, January 3, 2008

completely pointless but hilarious video

Annikah is STILL SLEEPING folks!! I have already worked out, showered and dressed. This is a first. Maybe she somehow knows it is freakin' freezing outside and she is smart enough to stay snuggled in her crib. I thought I would celebrate her snoozing by posting a video of some funny things she does in her waking hours.

Anni has what we like to call bizarro sound and the boo boo face. Both of these have evolved to be sources of great amusement for all of us.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I L L ....I N I

Despite all Anni's cheering the Illini sadly lost the Rose Bowl today. The upside is that my little sister was on national TV performing in the Rose Bowl parade and we watched the game with great friends at the Studee's place while scarfing yummy food. My parents and sister will give us all the details once they arrive home from California.
Jason goes back to work tomorrow after a long break. He was so sweet today as he told me he will miss being with his girls all day. Anni will also be heart broken as she is so attached to her papa right now. I will be sad as well as we had so much great family time over the last week not to mention my time to workout and relax a bit, I guess it is back to Mama not having a minute to do anything non interrupted :)
Here is a video of Anni and her new friends cheering for the Illini (at one point one of the little boys uses Anni's head for a drum). I am recording it for proof of her young prodigy in case one day she tries out for the drum line of the marching Illini!

exhausted from cheering.....

calling all crazies, morons, & adrenaline junkies

To mark the New Year we decided to do something that makes absolutely no sense and causes serious pain! We took the polar plunge into Lake Michigan. Frostbite anyone?

We joined a group that has jumped into the lake right near our house for the last 3 years, luckily for us today was the coldest of those times at 23 degrees. It was hilarious: everyone showed up in full snow gear and then they yelled out warnings "3 minutes" etc. and slowly we striped off layers until everyone is only wearing a swim suit and sometimes sandals. Then we all inched toward the lake (we had to step over about 10 feet of frozen water) and then there was a 10 second countdown and all of us jumped in together.
I knew it would be cold but what surprised us is that after the initial "oh my gosh, what did I just do?" you body actually gets really hot. The worst part is your feet, barefoot on snow after jumping into freezing water is miserable, thousand of tiny needles jabbing into your skin: yikes! I went in to about waist level and then dunked neck deep but Jason went all the way in and as a result his hair actually froze!

Do not worry we did not take Anni in, she happily watched us make idiots of ourselves from a warm blanket snug in her snowsuit surrounded by other kids whose parents were equally nuts.
We are starting to think she is the only sane one around here.

check out J's face!