Friday, February 29, 2008

Wicked Fun!

Last night we went out to see Wicked. It was actually my birthday present from Anni (through Jason). It took so long for us to go because we got a great half price deal. It was a stress free and wonderful night as Michelle babysat for Anni for free so I could also go downtown early to work at the Chicago History Museum. It was a huge blessing to know Annikah was in great hands and getting to hang out with her friend Gilly. After the meeting at the museum I swung by and picked up Jason and we only had about 20 minutes to grab a sandwich and get to the theater before curtain. We made it to the show just in time to find our seats and glance through the Playbill.
I had heard so much about Wicked from others as it has been in Chicago for a while but here are some of my thoughts. I really liked the set, very cool and almost more The Wiz like than what I expected. I also liked the creative back story to one of the best loved stories of all time although some of it felt a bit forced (like the lion and tin man connection, plus if she loves animals so much what about poor Toto?). I thought many of the themes woven through the show were very interesting and apropos of issues we face today. The obvious theme of judging people based on differences whether perceived or real was a great commentary on fear and control in society. The Wizard also said that the best way to unite a people is to "give them a common enemy" which has been so tragically true throughout history. I really did like the music although there were only a few songs I consider to be sing along-able (when I take long road trips I usually break out soundtracks and sing at the top of my tone deaf lungs, favorites include: RENT, Jesus Christ Superstar, Ragtime, and Les Mis). My last observation is the same as almost every time I see live theater and that is that it blows my mind that the actors and actresses can perform up to that level everyday. They have really amazing the talent and although they often do not get the attention of the "movie stars" to me they are the real artists that bring scripts to life. Hats off to them! As an added bonus I thought about the awesome lessons in hard work, confidence, humility, creativity, and team work I learned in my former life of acting. I had great memories flood my mind of when I played the Wicked Witch of the West in junior high in a park district production of the Wizard Of Oz. I always knew she was really the good guy just a bit misunderstood :) It was just the night out with my hubby I needed.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

folks, we have poop!

Once you have a child your ability to interact in appropriate ways drastically goes down hill. For example, before the process of giving birth I would have found it in generally poor taste to discuss hemorrhoids on a coffee date or perineal tears over a glass of wine and bread at dinner. But once you go through this whole crazy ordeal these topics are busted wide open and sharing what some deem to be gross and icky stories is actually quite fun. Comparing war stories of birth and now discussing the digestive health of my toddler seems fair convo at almost any time (I know I need help or maybe just a night out!). I have actually had to catch myself in an over share and quickly think of something else to discuss with my single friends or friends without kiddos (sorry guys!).
In this vein of my inappropriate over shares I thought I should post that Miss Annikah Joy (much to her horror 13 years from now at my sharing her business) pooped in the potty 3 times!!! Yeah! We have not been really trying to potty train but I did get her a potty around Christmas because she showed some of the signs I read about toilet training readiness and she seemed pretty interested after watching her friend Zella use the potty. At first she sort of thought it was a reclining chair that she should haul around the house and sit in to play blocks or read a book (hey, papa thinks it is a great reading seat). After checking out a potty video from the library (as an aside I noted to J while we were watching a cartoon panda bear sing about pooping & peeing in the potty and being sure to wipe that my life as a cool person is indeed over if I ever was cool :) she showed more interest and I found her putting her beloved baby on the potty a couple times. Well, last week I saw her making THE FACE, you know the one that says I am pushing out something nasty and she pointed to her diaper and I asked "Anni do you need Mama to change you?" She replied yes but upon removal of her diaper there was notta so I suggested the potty and she was very happy to sit on it. A few minutes later we had poop!!! Now you would think the girl recited the Gettysburg Address by memory the way I was jumping around and excited. She got a sticker and an M&M and was very proud of herself. She enjoyed the flushing part the most. I did not post about this as I was afraid it was a fluke but since then we have had 2 more poops in the potty. The M&M's are flowing and Mama is proud. I realize it may still take a while to potty train her but it is cool to see the big girl Annikah changing. I know this process will be long and may be difficult from may discussions with other exhausted Mama's. It is already annoying for me when she tells me she wants to sit on the potty she wants all her clothes off (except her shirt) and half the time does nothing but still wants the M&M (sneaky girl after my own heart). That is the inappropriate news around here, just thought I'd share!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

winter wonder

So it has snowed yet again. If anyone out there is like me you may be desperately trying to make it through the rest of the winter setting your psyche on survival mode. Symptoms of winter blahs: forgetting what your toes look like, wondering if it will ever be hot enough to be outside, to sweat, or swim, your pasty self glows from afar, and generally hating on bundling up like you are ice fishing to even run an errand 2 blocks away. This past weekend it was actually very sunny although still pretty cold. We took a family walk and I appreciated the winter beauty.
Too often I focus on the dirty, black, muck of winter that I see everywhere but after a walk down the pier in Roger's Park I appreciated winter, even if for only a moment.

There were individual plates of thick, glistening ice that resembled sheets of glass arising out of the frozen water. The motion after the freezing had created beauty.

The individual pieces would not have been beautiful if they were not joined with the others in a display that really amazed me. Maybe I am feeling a little philosophical but it reminded me of the beauty of my own brokenness. Together every piece of me God is forming into His plan for my life that is in constant motion. It was awe inspiring and even Anni stared at the ice for a long time. It was a wonderful winter walk as a family.

Anni loves music class

I forgot I took this video of Anni at her music class a few weeks ago and it makes me smile. She loves the teacher Miss April and her buddies but most of all she loves shakin' her groove thing.

Monday, February 25, 2008

mindless but funny

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Ah....the Mama life

I love this picture. This is a Mommy girlfriend of mine (that shall remain nameless) this morning. She did not realize that in a rush she put 2 different shoes on and left the house. It makes me smile as life really is just that crazy some days. No judgment from me as I have had my days. I am impressed with myself when I shower and dress in actual clothes (note: PJ's do not count).

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Happy Birthday to Papa!

Today is Jason's birthday. Anni helped me decorate this cake for him (and by help I mean she smeared frosting all over the counter and her self and dumped spinkles everywhere). She loved "helping" and of course the best part singing to him and eating it! Happy b-day Papa!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Anni works it out!

The winter weather has robbed Anni and I of our morning runs together and so I have taken to doing Tae Bo a few mornings a week at home. Usually Anni just walks around playing and generally destroying the living room while I get in my 30 minutes but lately she has been very interested in Billy and his sweat inducing moves. She started by mimicking him and now she actually brings me the DVD and says "please" (maybe she sees I have put on a few during the winter and is kindly reminding me "hey, Mama let's work it out"). Annikah has gotten into Billy Blanks cardio Bootcamp and has the moves down better than I did the first time I tried it. Of course I made a video montage to prove it...... Here is to working it out & shaking what yo' Mama gave you!

*my personal faves are Anni saying "go, go" after Billy says it & watch her when he says shoudlers..

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Grandma Glam

Grandma Rhoda sent Anni this faux fur cute outfit that matches the shoes that Grandma Ronnie got for her. What a stylin' chica!! Thanks to her Grandmas'!

random dream #789

I had the best of intentions last night as I set my alarm for 5:30am to get up and go to a spinning class I have been taking at the gym but alas when that annoying buzzer went off I was in the middle of blissful sleep and some random dreams. Here is one of them I remember.
I was giving Annikah a bath early in the morning when in walks my mom with Milton Berle. I was rather shocked as Anni was in the buff and I was only wearing a towel (plus how the heck did my mom run into Milton Berle?). She said she saw into him at the library and invited him over for coffee since she knew we had a coffee maker. He then replied "Oh, no thanks I laid off that stuff years ago." Then after this bizarre occurrence I blogged about it and all my faithful readers thought it was so cool he stopped by since he has been dead since 2002. That was it. Ok, back to your regularly scheduled day.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

an unexpected but important trip

Last week after talking to mom on the phone and hearing the anxiety and worry in her voice about the situation with my grandpa I knew I had to be there. I packed up and Anni and I took the train down to St. Louis. It has been really hard on my mom since my grandpa fell and broke his back in December. She is an only child and caring for them and making all tough decisions by herself is taking a toll on her. My grandpa decided to have a risky surgery because he is in so much pain and the doctors told him it would only get worse and possible paralyze him. I cannot say I blame him, I would choose a shot at a better life over the rest of my life filled with pain even if it carried a heavy risk.
After a late night decision and some quick packing Anni and I were off. After a surprisingly painless 5 hour train ride there (Anni played with a little girl named Valerie for about 3 hours)

my mom picked us up and we headed to my grandparent's house. We spent time together and prayed for my grandpa as he had a tough road ahead even if the surgery went well (which we were worried about as he is 86 and has had a really hard time since this injury). The next morning my mom got up early and took my grandpa in for a ton of tests and Anni, my Grandma, and I stayed behind. Annikah was a great distraction for us and spent quality time on Great Grandma's lap reading books. It was a bit exhausting for me trying to entertain a toddler with only a few toys and in a house where pretty much everything is breakable(she did enjoy the oversized wooden clogs though).

Later that day we headed to the hospital to visit Grandpa before his surgery the next morning and Anni managed to steal some of Grandpa's cherry pie.

The next day was Grandpa's surgery and we went to the hospital and waited (I was armed with enough snacks to feed a small village in Africa and as many toys, books, etc as would fit in a backpack). Hospital waiting rooms are such strange places. Everyone is waiting but it is the sort of waiting that is uncomfortable, desperate even. You try to make small talk, watch the blurry TV in the corner, thumb through a two month old magazine while still knowing that you are waiting for that phone to ring, that doctor to appear and change the course of not just your day and life but your dear one's life. Having Anni there was both difficult (keeping her entertained-my mom and an etch-a-sketch, the elevator and the fountain the lobby helped!)
and renewing (there is something hopeful about an energy filled toddler who can't be contained). We waited and waited and finally a doctor came in and asked for the Kunneman family to "step outside." Now I am sure this is customary and maybe it is my fault for watching too many ER episodes but we all felt incredibly nervous as we helped Grandma who was visibly shaken into the hallway. The doctor had great news! He said a bunch of medical stuff about the actual surgery that did not even register to us as all we heard was that he did better than expected and that he was a "tough old bird." That is my Grandpa!! We thanked God right there in the hallway and Anni lifted her hands in the air for a big AMEN! My mom then took Annikah home so Anni could take a real nap and I could pack as we were heading out on the train at around 3:30pm as the Amtrak tickets were sold out for Friday. My grandma stayed at the hospital awaiting my grandpa's groggy wake-up.

The train ride home was long, I think mostly because it had been a mentally and emotionally exhausting few days. Annikah was great, no crying, meltdowns, or tantrums but no sleep either. She loved the train and was far too interested in everything and everyone (especially a good looking guy heading to Chicago to visit his girlfriend for Valentine's Day- this did not deter Anni from flirting). I even brought her PJ's in hopes of tricking her into sleeping but she was having none of it and stayed up until 10pm that night. When we pulled into the Chicago station and packed up many passengers around us even applauded for Anni saying she was "delightful" and such a "great baby"; of course I agree!
My grandpa is still recovering and will be for a time but from speaking with him and my mom he does have a new sense of hope that he will get better. He is having some worrisome hallucinations but was able to walk around a bit (pretty good for an 86 year old who just had 8 vertebrate fused) and will hopefully be transferred to a rehabilitation facility tomorrow. Thanks again to everyone who was so understanding and gracious about me cancelling everything last minute and to all those who prayed; God hears us and He is good!!

Monday, February 18, 2008


Last week I learned something about compassion from my daughter. I was driving to Costco; the home of buying everything in bulk even that which you will never use. There is this really long light the way I go that takes you like three changes (green, yellow, red, repeat) to get through. Usually at this point in the car ride I am promising all sorts of magical things like free samples of food to Anni who is protesting being strapped into her seat of torture in the backseat. But not this day, there was actual relative peace in the car as we approached the long light. There we sat, me distracted with the to-do list I had to accomplish and Anni happily dancing along to her CD and munching on goldfish crackers waiting for the light to change yet again. A woman with a small frame bundled up in a man's oversized coat walked along the middle of the road with a sign of cardboard that read "homeless & hungry." a familar site in Chicago and across the country. She carried a cup for collecting change and after checking my back seat for a box of granola bars I keep for just such requests I rolled down my window and asked her if she wanted some food. She quickly sped towards my outstretched hand and thanked me saying "bless you" and I rolled up my window with no more thought. I did not pray for her or think about how difficult her situation must be, I simply gave something and figured I did what I should have done. After I rolled up the window I turned to see Anni staring inquisitively at the woman who was now running toward the side of the road as the light was changing again. I told Annikah that she did not have a nice place to live like us and she was hungry and cold so Mama gave her some food to eat. She seemed very interested in my explanation of the woman's situation and even repeated "cold". I always talk to Anni about everything we see, I think it is because, well, I like to talk and regardless of whether she wants to hear it or even understands I babble on and on at her during our day giving her my take on what happens all around us. Today she understood more than I what I had explained.
We moved up about 3 cars and were still waiting to turn left and the woman came back down the middle of the road again. As she approached our car she smiled and waved at me and then Annikah started frantically banging her goldfish snack trap against the window. I turned and she grunted at me and banged again as if she wanted me to roll down the window for her. It took me a minute to even register that she had heard me and she wanted to share her crackers with the woman. Maybe she was just mimicking me but I felt as if her little chubby face read that she was truly concerned that someone was hungry and cold and she wanted to help. I gleaned something about compassion from Annikah. I gave something that frankly I did not need or want almost out of a sense of duty or social responsibility. Anni saw a person and really looked at her and responded by wanting to give something that she wanted, that in fact she treasures (goldfish and the toddler have a special relationship). She did not care how she became homeless (or whether she even was). She responded in a pure way, a way unblemished by living life, unhardened to human struggle and I cried. I loved her even more in that moment and it reminds me that I am raising a special little girl.

back in Chicago

We are back after a crazy long week and weekend. I decided late Monday night to travel down by train to St. Louis to be with my mom, Grandma, and Grandpa as he had back surgery. Thanks to all who prayed! He did well, the doctor said he is " a tough old bird." More details about our trip later but for now I had to post a picture of the creative things you do to entertain a toddler in the waiting room of a hospital- Anni loved "the crazy blow up hand"! After getting back late on Amtrack Thursday night we left Friday morning for our church retreat. It was a great time of hanging out with friends and listening to God and although I would never call driving 4 hours in the snow with a toddler a "retreat" we are so glad we went. It was even more fun as many families came and the kids running everywhere was jubilant chaos (as seen below). Annikah adored the older girls in elementary school and walked hand in hand with them everywhere. I also really had a great time of prayer with some of my girlfriends and with Jason. More later.......Anni is up.

Monday, February 11, 2008


I had a great time helping with a baby shower this weekend for Laura (More pics of the day on Laura's blog). It was a blessing to spend some time showering Laura with girl time, prayers, and gifts for the arrival of baby boy McGowan. Annikah spent the morning at the children's museum with Jason and just came by at the end of the shower to celebrate with us. Laura captured Anni throwing her hands up to say "Amen!" I love it.

Friday, February 8, 2008

eating out 101

We just got back from a fantastic eating out experience. You may ask why this event is blog worthy? Well, as anyone with toddlers knows all to well eating out with your little one in tow can either go smoothly or be akin to getting repeatedly kicked in the head. We have had both experiences but tonight she was awesome! Better than awesome. Charming and sweet and funny even (after our meal she even went over to another table and asked them "please" for some of their nachos not that I blame her -they looked good). We discussed why she was so great and besides the obvious reason of our amazing parenting skills :) we narrowed it down to a few reasons we will record for future reference 1. Timing is everything- we went right around her normal dinner time and did not give her snacks before so she was good and hungry and 2. we went somewhere where she was not the only kid and was noisy and 3. we ordered things that she loves is a little video of her enjoying dinner out.

she shoots ...she scores

After Annikah's music class today we went over to another park district for a tot basketball class or as Anni calls it "ba-ball." In case you ever wondered what toddlers do in a basketball class here it is: run from one end of the gym to the other (repeat), chase after basketballs, be hoisted up to the rim to shoot, and Anni's favorite: each get their own bag of goldfish crackers. Here is her lovin' ba-ball.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

it is all a matter of perspective

I am not usually the first to jump on the self help book bandwagon. I am rather cynical about "find yourself", "fix your marriage" or "help your kid" type promises on glossy covers of 15.95 hardbacks in pristine rows in Borders but after Anni revolt number 986 last week I was open to suggestion (or Zanax). Well, another Mommy friend suggested The Emotional Life of the Toddler by Alicia F. Lieberman. I checked at the library: all copies checked out. So my girlfriend loaned me her copy and I must say it has helped me know I am not crazy. The book (at least so far) does not aim to correct all behaviors but rather helps clueless and tired Mamas and Papas understand what is going on in their once sweet and now sometimes crazy little toddler's craniums.
In discussing this stage the author writes, "home observations of mothers and their toddlers show that mild to moderate conflicts take place once every three minutes, and major conflicts occur at the rate of three per hour, the younger the child the more frequent these disturbances." The author then goes on to say "as a result, mothers of toddlers often experience such tension and fatigue that one author was moved to describe them as "unacknowledged victims".
Now, I do not feel like a victim (ok, except on the days she is beating down every kid that comes within 10 feet of her) but it is reassuring to know that Annikah is learning so much and growing and these present conflicts are normal. I definitely do not have 3 major conflicts in an hour on most days so I guess I just needed to read it in print that toddlers can be disagreeable but that is important to their growth. I had to post about this as I hope it will also encourage some of my Mama friends out there that like me wonder what happened to their sweet, agreeable baby. The author also offers suggestions of how to best facilitate their need for a secure base and love and at the same time their struggle for independence. Lots of chances to please, assert herself, feel like I understand and hear even if her fear or protest is not logical, and many choices. I am learning a lot. We shall continue to navigate these rapids of toddlerdom.

here is my day so far

just got home from a huge victory, some yummy lunch, and a near catastrophic event.

This morning after the Zella's mom cancelled for babysitting (poor Zella has the flu :( I decided to take a shot in the dark and call same day for childcare at Bally's usually difficult to get. They actually had an opening from 10am-11am so I jumped on it. Usually what happens at Bally's is that Anni cries the moment she sees me even look at the door and most of time I can manage to only get in 20 minutes of cardio while the poor childcare workers hold her the entire time. I spend the whole time feeling guilty and pray that she will not be in counseling someday for abandonment issues while her Mama selfishly worked out. Today there was a different story!! I told Anni we were going to the gym and she could play while Mama worked out and
I was sure to stress coloring and the big girl slide as carrots in front of her if you will. When we got to Bally's I braced myself but she eagerly went right over to the slide and started playing. I told her I would be back and she gave me a hug and slobbery kiss, no tears, no meltdowns, notta. I stood there stunned, almost not knowing what to do (duh - GO workout!) so I left her and happily went about my sweating it up on the elliptical way. I even ran over after 10 minutes to check and she was actually running from the plastic house to the slide completely fine! MY CHILD! It was awesome. So when I picked her up I told her how proud I was and that I would treat us to a "special lunch." We headed over to Noodles, and co. because I had a free dish coupon and she scarfed her mac-n-cheese while flirting with the man mopping the floors (it is really adorable what a 17 month old can bring out of a "tough" looking man).

After the yummy food that was even more yummy as I did not have to A. cook it or B. clean up after Anni I decided since we were in Evanston I would run a few errands for a baby shower I am helping with this weekend. The only downside of this plan was that I had no stroller (which actually would have not been easy to navigate through the snow & ice filled sidewalks) or the more useful baby backpack. No need I thought, just a few stops and I can carry her. We hit Borders, Barnes and Nobles and then one other place when all of a sudden Anni looked at me and started saying "baby!" It was then that it hit me: Where was the baby? The so called "baby" is one of her most prized possessions given to her by Grandma Rhoda and to say she is attached to it is an understatement. She always knows baby's whereabouts, sleeps with her, "feeds" her and generally is seen carrying her everywhere these days. I panicked as I searched though my purse, our coats, no baby. CRAP! I knew what must be done but with minutes before my meter would run out I was a bit flustered. I ran back to each place we had been carrying my purse, bags, and my 26 pound little girl (who with full snow gear is more like 30 pounds) who was now repeating with more and more gusto "baby?" "baby!" "baby?" I suddenly had a flashback to losing my own security object, a small cat bean bag thing that had been through hell. The poor thing only had one eye left and most of the stuffing had long been gone and this cat had even been through surgery with me as a baby. She was well loved and I took "kitty" everywhere and once lost her in Kmart luckily to be found after some tears and serious searching. In the midst of my flashback I became determined to find Anni's baby and even prayed that God would help me find her. I was on such a mission that in between the first and second location I stepped into a huge puddle. Now this would have been no big deal if I had been wearing my crazy rain boots but I was still in workout gear and my shoes had mesh all over which is helpful to allow air in but also served to now completely soak my sock. But I pressed on towards the goal of reuniting Anni with her precious baby (and me with my sanity as what would I do if we lost it?). We entered the last stop Barnes and Noble. I searched around the help desk, and rode the escalator up and down (as we had 5 minutes earlier for "fun") and even asked the help desk, no doll. I was getting worried. As we were about to leave a man rushed in through the front doors and there in his hands was "BABY"!! He had just chased down another mom to see if it was her toddler's doll, what a nice man! Anni immediately screeched and hugged baby and thanks to this man’s extra effort a catastrophe was avoided.
All this to say it was actually a fabulous morning considering I even got back to my car after being the crazed, wet sock, toddler toting mama running through the streets of Evanston and even though my meter had been out I did not get a ticket. Thank you God for small answers to prayer.
Ok, that is my day so far and since Anni is now happily asleep with baby and my sock is still soaking I gotta run. Never a dull moment.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Vote, everyone is doing it!

Anni & I wanted to remind everyone (in case you were living in a cave somewhere and have somehow missed the political campaign mess) that today it is your chance to vote. Don't miss it or you forfeit your rights to complain and generally rip on the government :) and who wants to lose out there. Exercise your right and duty!!! VOTE, everyone is doing it!

Monday, February 4, 2008

Anni finally starts earning her keep...sort of

For 17 months Anni has been making messes, wreaking havoc, & in general creating chaos. She has recently started actually "helping" Mama clean up after her reigns of terror.

beating the winter blahs

I am trying to like the winter, I really am. Proof of my efforts include sledding today with my Mom's group and then after warming up and proceeding to destroy another Mom's living room in 10 minutes flat (gotta love 4 feisty toddlers running amok). As I type my jeans and undies are still wet & soggy so time to fly!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

our superbowl sunday

spicy hot wings at Buffalo Joe's......13.95 dollars
extra blue cheese dipping sauce.....55 cents
gas money to drive over to great friends the Anstee's house.......3 dollars
having your order taken by a girl wearing a gold grill in her mouth with "Latisha" written across it......priceless

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Mama gets an afternoon out & Papa and Anni frolic in the snow

Today I got an afternoon out with girlfriends sans bebe to see a silly chick flick (a much need respite) and Jason and Anni got to hang out. I was very impressed that when I returned he told me all about their snow adventures in the backyard. They built a snowman, went "sledding" (with Jason pulling Anni in our tiny backyard) , and Papa even taught her to eat snow (not my favorite new skill but at least they had some quality daddy daughter time).

*notice the plastic bags on Anni's shoes in lieu of boots as we gave back the ones we were borrowing , is there no end to our cheapness?