Monday, March 31, 2008

My kind of town....Chicago is Anni's kind of town

Today I was driving with Anni to the Target in Evanston to pick up a pair of pants for Africa in Jason's size (they did not have the right size at the Peterson store) and as I was driving I was narrating everything like I usually do to keep Anni amused and me sane. I so aptly described that we were "leaving Chicago and crossing into Evanston" when from the backseat a near perfect "Chicago" was uttered. I was amazed!! She kept repeating it all night at our prompting and because of the huge reaction she got. See for yourself.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

our little monkey jumping on the bed

Anni loves the song and book Five Little Monkeys right now and unlike her friend Elliot is not interested in the bumping the head part. Rather she digs the jumping on the bed and mimicking the doctor shaking her finger "no more." She gets very intense about it and yells "no" at you if you do not share her enthusiasm about reading the epic story.
We awoke to Anni (apparently feeling a bit better about her teeth drama) this AM and jumping in her crib. It is refreshing for tired parents to drag themselves up to find such joy abounding a few doors down the hallway.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

pump up the jam

Ok, that references a song that was cool in junior high but we did pump it up today (and get our bootays on the dance floor) at fab friends' the Aneeds and Jerozals joint birthday bash. This locale was completely brilliant for the kiddos. It is basically a place where they have giant rooms full of huge inflatable bouncy slides, mats, giant things to ram your head into, and things you run and jump around on- who wouldn't love that? The adults had a little too much fun as well. Despite Annikah's serious tragedy about her molars coming in she had a great time (although spurts of drama queen moments). Right before we left she was accidentally bumped and fell flat on her face. Result: nasty bleeding fat lip. After calming her down she repeatedly wanted to "jump, jump" again. Kuddos to the parents for throwing a fabulous and fun b-day bash for all involved. Below is a video montage of the party (notice my fall from glory).

said fat lip

Thursday, March 27, 2008

who says she doesn't look like me.....

I constantly hear that either Annikah looks like her Papa or that she is a mix of the two of us but I would like to submit the following photographic evidence that she does in fact resemble me sometimes :) Oh, the drama & tragedy of it all.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

comparison & guilt

In my estimation these are the two deadly sins that women and specifically as mothers we allow to invade and steal joy from our lives. Reflecting on what thoughts invade my mind and what cogitation I then invite in I came to this conclusion: guilt & comparison are the sources of much mental pain for me and I am done with it.

I am realizing I am not the only one who struggles with this. In talking with a friend a new mom friend of mine I heard in her voice the struggle of comparing herself to other Moms already. Especially in the vulnerable place of new motherhood comparison seems almost unavoidable. It is tough because many times it is useful to ask other Moms "what do you do when...?" or "how do you handle ...?" But the struggle for me is not taking the advice or comments to berate myself, my struggles, or my choices. The difficulty then lies in choosing to not compare in ways that lead to jealousy, self pity, or even a fix of "well, at least I am doing better than ..."

Comparison starts early in life but accelerated for me after having Annikah. It began with weight gain during pregnancy, birth stories, and continued to how old was your daughter when she crawled, walked, (fill in the developmental milestone). It occurs when I see a woman who looks fabulous and wears a size 2 after having 4 kids, talking with a mom who can work full time and still seems to give their family everything, seeing a mom who stays at home and plays creative games with the kids while listening to Bach everyday and still cooks a 3 course meal and cleans the house. Some days I cannot even manage to clean up after the path of destruction Anni leaves in her wake forget cooking or cleaning! Comparison if allowed to invade=death of gratitude and joy. I do not think I am the only one who suffers from comparison. A mom friend of mine said to me the other day "you always have your s*%# together! I wish I could do that." I was shocked for two reasons 1. I rarely feel like I do have my s*%# together and 2. I always feel like other women do. I began thinking Hmm, we all suffer from this.

Guilt sometimes follows comparison. Case in point, I am talking to another woman about how they handle discipline issues. After telling me how their toddler responds to choices, time outs, fill in the blank type of model discipline I feel terrible that I sometimes lose my temper, I feel like giving up, and ultimately feel like a failure. The trouble with this comparing is that there is no end, there is always someone skinner, better at their job, richer, more frugal, better at disciplining their kids, more patient, etc. The lie of it all is that said Mama may be (and is) an amazing mother but she still struggles in areas. It is easy to see only the outside of people, the pretty package we all wrap ourselves up in sometimes when the reality is that we are all fallen, sinful humans. Realizing this and acknowledging it makes us beautiful and real. It is too easy to see in others the perfect marriage, completely wonderful family, beautiful-well-behaved-every-second-of-the-day children, dream job, killer body, on and on. There is someone out there that is achieving their goals, acquiring wealth, prestige, and favor while having an amazing family. They are leaders, trendsetters, and their accomplishments are noticed and appreciated and they never falter. Their life is just perfect. That is all a lie.

The trouble is if any of these perfect people were walking around life would be pretty boring, predictable, definitely no fodder for blogging, and we would have no opportunity to embrace our own and each other's brokenness and grow in character. I know in my head that I do not truly believe any one's life is perfect but when I unfairly compare I am living like I do. Our faults are what make us human. I have often said if I did not have my gloriously big bootay I would never hit the gym. In fact, if I was naturally skinny I would make eating junk food while sitting on my butt into a full time sport. The result would be an unhealthy but skinny me. My desire to lose weight when I was heavier led to a true love in my life now, running and working out and that led to a healthier me and the ability to help younger girls dealing with body image issues. A flaw I would never have signed up for has made my life better. It also makes my life richer to be loved as a flawed person and love flawed people. Jason's love for me means more because I know he has seen ugliness from me, not just the perfect wedding photo freeze frame (that was gone before the wedding photo proofs were in).
All guilt is of course not negative, some guilt leads to conviction, confession, and change. For that guilt I am grateful (when I actually listen). I am not speaking of that kind of guilt but the kind that is based in feeling defeated, not good enough, the kind of guilt that takes away your agency to be in your life at every moment.

I can spend too much time feeling guilty because some days I would rather be working in a classroom and be challenged by teaching, guilt because there are times when Anni watches 3 Elmo's World episodes in a row because I am emotionally checked out and not feeling creative, guilt that I did not love breastfeeding, guilt that I know I should be reading instead of watching Oprah, guilt that I took out my crappy day on Jason, guilt that I am not doing more to save the environment, help my community, serve others, etc. I know other women feel this guilt as well. Some friends that work feel guilty because they have to drop off their child at daycare and cannot be there for every new first. No matter who you are of what your current situation is I am sure there is some guilt that invades that is not productive.
As I have reflected on the impact and power I have given these emotions I realize that the enemy has used them in my life to steal joy, create divisiveness, and not allow me to be grateful in each moment. I now know that there is no place for them in my life. The sin of thinking, dwelling on, even giving one moment to these thoughts is that they rob me of being grateful for everything in my life just as it is. There may be a million women I can compare myself to and a zillion things I can feel guilty about doing or not doing but there is no one who is me or YOU! Freedom from these sins can allow me to live in the moment.

a couple verses spoke to me on this in my life.....
2 Corinthians 3:17: "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
Another version of this passage is from The Message: "And when God is personally present, a living Spirit, that old, constricting legislation is recognized as obsolete. We're free of it! All of us! Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him. "

In Galatians 5, Paul addresses not allowing ourselves to be burdened and living a life of freedom in Jesus. Again the Message, "1 Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.22-23But what happens when we live God's way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.
23-24Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
25-26Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original. "

I just love that version, each one of us is an original!! Amen to that!

So I am taking a pledge here and now and any other women out there who would like to join me in my quest for freedom from comparison & guilt please do:

I will not compare myself with others for the sake of feeling better about myself, berating myself, or defining myself. I will instead search inside me and turn to God and His Word for reflection & definition. I will not feel guilty for not hand making from recyclable materials all my greeting cards (or any other task), nor will I feel guilty (or better than anyone else) for doing just that. I will not hate on others or be hated on. I will not feel guilty for not being a magazine cutout, perfect, airbrushed women. I will not buy into the lie that if I had more, were thinner, more patient, read more books, baked home made bread everyday for my family, were smarter, etc. I would be happier. I will not feel guilty about my shortcomings as a wife or mother because I know God can work through them. I will allow the Holy Spirit in and tune out the voices that make me feel less than a daughter of the King.
All I am called to do is be me, be the woman, daughter, friend, wife, and mother I am and I am gonna get on that.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter festivities

Happy Easter! We went out to the burbs to visit my family. On Saturday we drove out to Windsor Park Manor and visited my grandparents. My grandfather is home from the hospital and recovering well, he can walk a little and has a wheelchair to help him get around but he looks & feels so much better. They had a great experience there (nice people and yummy food) and are looking forward to moving in soon. While there we had an Easter egg hunt for Annikah and also stopped in to see Jason's grandparents who also live there. After lunch and a nap we took Anni swimming at my mom's gym and she was in heaven splashing around (great idea Mom!). Anni loved Easter, at least she loved repeatedly hiding the eggs all weekend, searching for them and then chucking them into the basket (there were many causalities), getting fun presents, and getting dressed up (such a girly-girl). On Sunday we attended church at Holy Cross and had a fabulous lunch after. Despite Jason's crazy work schedule (he was working until 3am almost every night) we had a great time with family.

Friday, March 21, 2008

said by my husband last night 10:32 pm

While installing new software on a new laptop we recently got for Africa and lifting the beloved computer to his nose to sniff the fan's exhaust,
"Mmmmm, the smell of new computer hardware."
Yes, that is my nerdy but adorable hubby.


After my pants being wet from the calf down and dragging Anni through snow for music class this morning I must just say....really? still? Please spring get here!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Anni made a new friend & Mama hangs with a dear one

Today Annikah and I drove out to the burbs to visit my friend Jess (roommate in college at the infamous 54 E John street apartment) and new brand new adorable baby Fred (her hubby Stan that we also know from college Habitat for Humanity was at work ). We finally met the Worst baby and he is so sweet, so new, and so tiny. He has the new baby smell, exploding farts, those crazy reflex moves, and funny facial expressions that make you smile. I got to hold him while he slept for an hour and almost dropped him as he pulled a failing "i want to bungee jump" move. I am a bit out of practice with newborns but I can sling a mean yogurt drink and convince any toddler around to put their jacket on :) Jess did not beat me up or kick me out for my transgression but I attribute it to lack of sleep and needing another adult to hang with :)

We got to chat it up about birth, breastfeeding, naps, stretch marks, lack of sleep, sex after baby (yikes!), friends, family, and mostly what is so wonderful and what is so hard about having a baby, and how crazy in love with them you are.
Even though we were visiting all day the time flew and it was a blessing to see Jess and the awesome Mama she is!
It was such a great day but the drive home took over 2 1/2 hours. As a result any warm fuzzies I had going after holding a sweet newborn (while not having to take care of him over night) were ruined by road rage, nonstop traffic, followed by the check engine and low fuel lights coming on. Annikah was so sweet and helped make a traffic nightmare as best as possible by being absolutely charming. We were in the car from about 4pm until after 6:30pm without stopping once. She ate the only food I had with me (sliced turkey and veggie puffs) and we sang and tried to make the best of it until we arrived home sweet home. Congrats again Jess & Stan!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

the artist

Annikah is quite the little artist. I recently began collecting random art supplies; construction paper scraps, loose markers, feathers, paints, glue, beads, stamps, stickers, fake flowers, etc......mostly stuff from my classroom boxes. Everyday she asks for the box on the bookshelf marked Annikah's Art Box. Her techniques have impressed me with back and forth to dotting she is changing it up. She has made some fun creations lately and I thought I would share a few of them. My little artist is quite creative (and messy!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


I posted yesterday about race, gender, history, and the current run for office. It was a train of thought I had (although very incomplete and scattered) in thinking about the primary race in the Democratic party. More than the race for office I was thinking about America and the journey we have been on and are on, the legacy of both the horrors and victories of the past. This morning I was at the gym when Obama began his speech on race (in response to the recent concern about his pastor in Chicago) on CNN so I put my earphones in and tuned in. I almost stepped off the elliptical and cheered and was saying "Amen!" while listening to his much more eloquent description of our current situation and the difficult choices that lie ahead for us a country regardless of who is elected. Now that Annikah is slumbering in her crib I listened to the speech in its entirety. His story is valuable to the dialogue about race in our country today and his candor and ability to express such polarizing issues with grace and dignity is amazing to me. Even if you disagree with his politics we cannot ignore the issues he raises and if we chose to we turn our backs on America and what it can be. Take the time to listen or read his words. This dialogue is so vital to all of us as we, in his words "continue to perfect our Union."

"But what we know -- what we have seen -- is that America can change. That is the true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope -- the audacity to hope -- for what we can and must achieve tomorrow." -Obama

Monday, March 17, 2008

some historical sappiness

-“One is astonished at the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over. We must not remember that Daniel Webster got drunk but only remember that he was a splendid constitutional lawyer. We must forget that George Washington owned slaves…. and simply remember the things we regard as creditable and inspiring. The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect men and noble nations, but it does not tell the truth.” -W.E.B Du Bois

"Without struggle, there is no progress." Fredrick Douglass

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
~Abraham Lincoln

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will."- Fredrick Douglass

"No people come into possession of a culture without having paid a heavy price for it."-James Baldwin

Regardless of your politics or who you plan to vote for I think there is reason to pause and take in the historical moment our country is having.
A woman and a black American are running for the office of the presidency. I realize this is not breaking news to anyone who has been watching the primary race but a few weeks back I was sitting watching the debates and they had a split screen of Obama and Clinton and I just had a moment. It was a moment of appreciation and awe that we have come a long way.
I, of course, acknowledge the incredible struggle and on-going battle in this country for sinful man truly accept all as equal. It will never be perfected here on earth but we as an imperfect and diverse nation have been stretched and has grown.
I love history. Not just because it is interesting. Not just because it is provocative. Not simply because I see it as vital to learn about but because it makes us who we are as a people, for good and bad. The scars and triumphs of our history shape who we are today whether we acknowledge it or not.
Until 1865 slavery was not only legal but defended with money and blood. Owning another human being was "justified", even with the Bible (which in my understanding teaches that every man, woman, and child is made in the image of God). While only about 10% of Southerners actually owned slaves just prior to the Civil War whites throughout this country directly benefited and allowed slavery to not only continue but to flourish. Northerners and Southerners alike benefited and largely remained silent on the human rights violation of the worst kind.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing"- Edmund Burke
At slavery's beginnings in the U.S. much of the writing discussed slavery as a "necessary evil," that every great society needed cheap labor to become what it was and for America enslaving blacks was the ticket to "greatness." What is more disturbing is that between the 1700's (or as early as 1619 when the first recorded slave was brought to the U.S.) and the mid 1800's something changed drastically. Some in our society started seeing slavery not merely as a necessary but evil institution but a "positive good." This racist ideology began to defend slavery itself as an institution. John C. Calhoun is credited with verbalizing this shift as early as 1837 "To maintain the existing relations between the two races, inhabiting that section of the Union, is indispensable to the peace and happiness of both. It cannot be subverted without drenching the country or the other of the races. . . . But let me not be understood as admitting, even by implication, that the existing relations between the two races in the slave holding States is an evil:—far otherwise; I hold it to be a good, as it has thus far proved itself to be to both, and will continue to prove so if not disturbed by the fell spirit of abolition. I appeal to facts. Never before has the black race of Central Africa, from the dawn of history to the present day, attained a condition so civilized and so improved, not only physically, but morally and intellectually." He went on to say that he takes the moral "high ground" in his argument that Southern slave holding is necessary for the growth of the black race. It is easy to dismiss this today as racist and ignorant but I cannot easily label this as the past and move on. How many times in my own life do I begin to justify something I know to be wrong or at least not the best? We, as a nation bought into the racist rhetoric and even placed all people in a racial hierarchy used by immigration officials throughout the early 20th century.
During a bloody Civil War (that was NOT solely fought for or against slavery) roughly 180,000 African American soldiers fought and by the end of the conflict these men made up 10 percent of the Union army. Looking at the way they were treated illustrates the United States ambiguity and lack of commitment to the rights of African Americans, even when they were willing to fight for not only their freedom by the preservation of the Union that even denied them person hood. After the war the 13th & 14th & 15th Amendments did guarantee that slavery would be abolished, that black men would have citizenship in this country, and that no one would be denied the right to vote on the basis of of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. Immediately after Civil War there was huge strides made in equal treatment. African Americans, who only years earlier had no rights were elected to the House and Senate (1870 Hiram Revels and others) but soon fear and terror rose and reared it's ugly and vicious head while many sat idly by and allowed rights to be taken away and power denied. It was not as simple to turn back over 200 years of oppression as our nation was so entrenched in inequality. At every turn we as a nation denied rights in de jure and de facto segregation. Indeed, up until the Civil Rights Movement America remained inherently unequal. Some would still argue; with just cause, that even today there are separate realities for minorities in this country.

Black men, who have been the target of brutal violence and hatred in our history had the right to vote before any woman.
It blows my mind that less than 100 years ago women could still not vote. Not only did their voice not matter in issues of national politics but many still thought of women as incapable of even possessing the ability to reason and thus have the right to vote.
"Men are taught to apologize for their weaknesses, women for their strengths." ~Lois Wyse

"Feminism is the radical notion that women are people." ~Cheris Kramarae and Paula Treichler

Women fighting for what most of us take for granted today in our basic right to participate in the politics that dictate our lives was not an easy battle. Like many struggles for power it was not merely about getting a law passed but changing the pervasive thinking of the time. Sexist ideology had been passed on from generation to generation and for many the role of women in society was clear,"Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear children"-Martin Luther. Many opponents of the suffrage movement even claimed they were defending the delicate woman from bearing the burden of politics that she could not possible understand nor participate in without the aid of men. Antisuffragists associated suffrage with promiscuity, divorce, and the neglect and mistreatment of children. Not surprising, fear was the primary motivator yet again for denying equality to all. Many supporters of women's rights were "radical" at the time and much of the late 19th century their requests and petitions fell on deaf ears. They were extremists in that their requests were based on the notion that women had "natural rights" arguing that women had the same rights as men-including first and foremost the right to vote. In 1892, Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote of woman as "the arbiter of her own destiny...if we are to consider her as a citizen, as a member of a great nation, she must have the same rights as all other members." Alice Paul and other women who were convicted in their fight for equality were even jailed and then subsequently went on hunger strikes in prison for protesting the war and the inequality of women. The suffrage movement did not gain widespread appeal in part because it was labeled and seen as radical. This changed gradually as in 1893 there were only 13,000 members of the National American Woman Suffrage Association and by 1917 their membership had grown to over 2 million. In part because of well known and admired women such as Jane Addams joining the cause. The right to vote came slowly but began in 1910 with Washington became the first state to extend suffrage to women. Illinois :) actually became the first state east of the Mississippi to embrace a woman's right to vote and many more follwed. Finally, the 19th Amendment in 1920 (ratified) was the culmination of decades of struggle for women to obtain basic political and social rights. As in any struggle change was slow over time and still remnants of the sexism of the past are with us. The right to vote did not at all guarantee women equality in America. The Civil Rights Movement and the Women's Lib movement were needed to redefine equality and still much remains undone. Equal pay has been the law since 1963 but even more than 50 years later, women are still paid less than men—even when we have similar education, skills and experience. In 2005, women were paid 77 cents for every dollar men received. Similarly troubling to me as I raise a daughter is the sexism in society, the way women are portrayed and objectified, and more disturbing our acceptance of this portrayal.

The sins of the past are a part of our collective psyche as a people and make us who and what we are today.
This evil became part of our historical fabric, it seeps into everything we were (and are) as a nation. This evil, like all evil, changed what was acceptable and violated the very core of our humanity as a people. I, too, must look inside myself and find what ownership I have in the racism and inequality that exists today. Such deep and widespread sin cannot leave even subsequent generations untarnished by it's pervasive reach. Many people; both black and white, men and women did speak up on their convictions and for their bravery I am grateful. Our triumphs are just as amazing and worthy of pause as our failings. I am proud to be an American woman. I am grateful I can write this and openly voice my opinions without fear of retribution. I know for certain many inequalities still exist but as a people we have come a long way in the fight to make America truthful in it's claims to be a nation under God with liberty and justice for all.

Senator Clinton and Senator Obama must be put through the necessary tests of holding the highest office in this country and be deemed worthy of that office not based solely on their gender or race but I am proud to be an American in a country that can allow the political process to be open to everyone that is an American. As a nation we have a long way to go in seeking justice and liberty for all. The forum is open to those who chose to participate in the discussion about how we as Americans do just that.

"American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it." -James Baldwin

Sunday, March 16, 2008

a rite of passage

I usually object to all things McDonald's (although recently we stopped there on a road trip b/c Anni was melting down and there were no other options and the Southwest salad is pretty good and even WW friendly). My one objection to this McDonald's is nasty rule is Shamrock shakes. I do not know what it is, perhaps the bright green color that is so unnatural but yummy or the illusive and scare availability until March but I always crave one right about now. I recommend the 1/2 chocolate and 1/2 shamrock personally while Jason prefers the full shamrock. Yesterday after dinner we stopped in for Anni's first shamrock shake. Jason ordered his and we asked for an extra small cup so we could share with Annikah. She had one taste and proceeded to suck so hard her cheeks were shaking. I thought her eyes might pop out of her head. Here is Anni & Jason sucking their way to shamrock bliss!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Anni gets cultured

My lack of posts this week has been due to many factors (babysitting every day except Thursday, working at the Chicago History Museum, and most of the all the flippin' warm weather that I insisted on being out in every moment we were not eating or sleeping- Jason actually laughed at me Friday I was skipping in glee down Sheridan on the way to the park while many a passersby laughed and Anni clapped me on (at least she already knows I am nuts!)
On Thursday my mom came out to save the day yet again and watched Annikah while I worked downtown. She came early so we could visit the Kohl's Museum (a Thursday tradition around here). We had a blast and although I forgot my camera there and did not realize its absence until we got all the way home another understanding (and probably equally frazzled) Mom turned it in prompting me to drive there and back twice in one day (so annoying but at least I could do the second trip sans Anni as Grandma watched her during her nap).
Jason is "on call" this weekend but we still wanted to get out as a family so since Wednesday I was searching for the Field Museum or Museum Science and Industry Museum pass at local library branches. These two passes are the much coveted after pass and since Chicago Public Schools spring break just started I knew they would be hard to find but I took this as a challenge! I called the two branches closest to out place about 15 times a day. The librarian at the Rogers Park branch would actually answer "no Roxanne, still not in sorry!" She was even rooting for me to actually get it as she said the average time those passes (along with the Aquarium) stay checked in is about 1 minute 30 seconds. After a dentist appointment on Friday I was heading home and figured I would try calling yet again and to my shock the Edgewater branch actually had the pass so I quickly yelled "I will be there in 30 seconds!" and slammed on my brakes and turned around as if I was in a action adventure film (ok, without the explosions, car wreaks, and tight clothes but humor me I am a stay at home Mama so this was a bit of excitement!) I parked at the one open meter and made a mad dash for the library and at last I had the pass in my hot little hands. I walked in and told Jason he must bow to me as I am the queen of all things free, he quickly acknowledged my status. We headed to MSI this morning and had a family day exploring (we even found free street parking). Anni's favorite parts were any room with robots or mirrors and the exhibit where she got to throw herself against these large punching bags. It was a bit of family time and culture for all of us.

Kohl's with Grandma "Just a little make-up. I make this look good!"

"Grandma, quit looking cute and drive this boat! Good thing I am wearing my life preserver :)"
" That will be $5.23 Grandma. Cash only please."
Taking after Grandpa Rohrback?
Museum Of Science & Industry
"Hey, lil' guy what is up? Your face is a little scary looking"
Mama & Annikah on a trolley car
Papa & Anni love the train story exhibit, she continually gasped as they went around (some of those may have been from Jason who was equally enthralled)
"Mmmm....I had eggs for breakfast!"
Making the boo boo face in the mirrors...who doesn't love the mirrors?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Welcome Home Mama!

I spent Friday through Sunday night at a women's retreat somewhere in Iowa (I really did not care where I just needed to get away and actually never knew where we were the whole weekend).

It was a few months back in part due to the winter blues but also greatly just feeling a heaviness and lack of joy that I talked seriously with Jason about needing to get away from everything even if just for a day or so and just be me, not wife, mother but just me. I had never been away from Annikah for more than a day in 18 months (plus 10 if you count pregnancy :). Jason saw that I needed it and we looked for an opportunity that was inexpensive and sounded fun. We also wanted Jason to be able to really know he could solely take care of Anni for more than a day and secretly I felt that many of our arguments and continuing discussions would cease if he really knew how much goes into caring for a toddler by yourself for hours a day.

My friend Nicole told me that she and some other mama friends of mine were going to a scrap booking retreat in early March. My immediate outloud response was "I'd rather slit my wrists than scrapbook for an entire weekend." I realize that may sound harsh but seriously scrap booking? But after some convincing and the fact that the entire weekend was only 85 dollars and I would be able to join 3 other fabulous women on a road trip and weekend away I was convinced. So I attended a scrap booking retreat and did not bring one photo, one book, did no cutting, gluing, and never even used one of the many bizarre tools that to me often resembled instruments of torture. Nope, I sat and talked, read, snacked, wrote some presentation material, and a complied a PowerPoint for an upcoming seminar I am teaching. It was a relaxing and much needed time for me. I did not make or clean up one meal, change one diaper, clean anything (except myself:), or run any errands.

I went for a long run and a trail ride although my extremities were not appreciative of those activities. Mostly though I had time to think, reflect, and discuss with other women this stage of life. I am so thankful for friends, for laughing so hard you have to pee, for inappropriate but hilarious stories, for vulnerability, for honesty, for God's forgiveness, His healing in my life and the lives of others, His provision and gifts to me and my family, His wisdom in giving me Jason as a partner who is so amazingly perfect for me and helps me grow, and for my life and each moment.

After the 5 hour drive home we arrived back in Chicago and I felt refreshed and so excited to see my baby girl and Jason. I wanted to express to him how thankful I was for this chance to get away and of all he does for our family and I could not wait to squeeze my monkey girl! Of course, I also wanted to know all the details of his time alone with Annikah. I must admit a part of me wanted Anni to have at least one meltdown, one crisis, one blow-out so Jason could relate.
As soon as I hot the hallway of our condo I could hear Anni squealing in delight and saying "Mama." She looked so different from just 2 days ago and her little hug melted me. Jason told me in great detail everything he had done that weekend and then asked me to read a blog entry he had written while Anni napped Sunday reflecting on his time as Mr. Dad. After reading his words I placed my head in my hands and cried, it was what I needed. I was again so thankful to be understood in small ways, to feel appreciated for everything I do as a wife and mother especially when I feel like many days it is not enough. I know Jason loves and appreciates me but him taking care of Anni all weekend and then taking time to write his feelings out helped remind me that he is an awesome husband and father for which I am truly grateful. That was a perfect ending to a weekend where I really rediscovered that I am enough, God loves me the way I am and with all I bring to motherhood. He wants to teach me, sharpen me, use me, guide me, challenge me, humble me, hold me, but He loves me regardless of anything. While my above harsh statement about scrap booking for an entire weekend remains true I feel that this non scrap-booker received many gifts at the scrap booking retreat.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

18 Months looks good on Anni

    Annikah is now 18 months! We had to cancel her appointment for this week as she cannot have shots while still recovering from the nasty virus monster. I will update her stats as soon as we go next week. So, what has changed about Miss AJ in the past few months? Anni has many words (most of which only Jason and I can fully understand but words nonetheless). I actually listed them recently after hearing that at her 18 month appointment the doctor would ask how many words she says. I was impressed after Jason and I actually thought about all the words she says. Here is the list:

  • Yeah or Yep (which is adorable)
  • No (very popular in the toddler lingo)
  • Anni (Pronounced Ann Eee, see video)
  • Sit (as in sit here Mama, Anni likes always bossing us around)
  • Baby (she is still enamoured of her baby who now has been dropped in the mud more times than I can count- poor baby)
  • boob (I know, weird...she says it when we take a bath together or even go swimming, she sees a peak of cleavage and she is all over it making sure to loudly declare that she knows what those are)
  • Hi (she still loves to flirt with this crowd pleaser made irresistible by the added hand wave)
  • Bye Bye
  • Cat (she can't really say Meow but she points to Bonita a lot)
  • Car (favorite word to point out the window of our car)
  • More (more is heard a ton as Anni loves to eat)
  • Up (she thinks up means up, down, move, get me, etc)
  • Hat (pronounced "haaa" and she loves to sport one)
  • Target (yes, she still says this one every time we go which is about twice a week:)
  • Shoes (she learned this from an Elmo video and now loves to state the obvious whenever we put her shoes on..."shuuuues")
  • Mama (Finally I am no longer Ba!!)
  • Papa (her latest thing is saying "papa?" during the day when he is at work and then when I tell her he is at work and will be home later she wails)
  • Snow (definitely not recognizable to the outsider but she clearly points to the piles of black snow and ice and says "soooo")
  • Boo (as in peek-a)
  • Eye (as in I will poke you in the...)
  • Pooh (as in Winnie on her little toy car and book)
  • Ball (a classic and fav)
  • Hot (she thinks EVERYTHING is too hot - food, water, etc after Jason accidentally offered food that had not been tested and was a bit too hot, this pronunciation is similar to hat, "haaaa" but is distinguishable by context)
  • Cold (she thinks it is funny to ask for cold water to wash her hands)

-She and her 18 month old self are very into animal noises as seems to be all the rage in toddler circles. She likes to do her own versions and some of the non existent ones Mama made up to amuse herself ( Jason is very against this as he thinks she will be scarred once she reaches school age but I, on the other hand think that it is pretty fun to think about what sounds the animal would make if it was to "talk").
-Anni loves her friends and gets so excited when Jonah or Zella come over to play. Although she still occasionally beats up on them she mostly hugs and loves seeing them!

-She will do almost anything for a sticker and really loves praise. I got these free sheets of stickers from the doctors office (in a drug sample packet) and Annikah loves them. She will let me cut her nails without fussing or help Mama by picking up toys for a precious sticker. She is responding so much to praise and wants to please.

-She really is showing so much more understanding and connecting emotionally to things and people. For example, she cried when my mom left after being her buddy all day. She also sobbed uncontrollably after I read her a library book entitled 5 Little Ducks. I did not know this book would have this affect on her but there is one page where all the baby ducks go off and leave the mother and it shows a mother duck all alone and sad. Anni was so upset by it that even after I turned the page to reveal all the baby ducks came back she was too upset to even notice.

-She is doing much better with being left in childcare (at the gym or church) or with other people for short periods of time and usually hugs me goodbye (instead of vice gripping my leg and screaming which was her old standard).

- Annikah is really into looking at pictures: of herself, of her friends, of family, of Jason and I, of her cousins. Sh also gasps and smiles in excitement when she sees a picture of herself doing something fun (like on the Dumbo ride at Disney World).

-Our favorite new thing she does Jason aptly names the triple melt as it melts your heart. She comes over to you and first hugs you tight wrapping her little arms around your neck, followed by a kiss on the lips, and she finishes it off with waving and saying "hi." It is pretty darn adorable. She is a smart little sucker too because sometimes she will break the triple melt out after doing something "time out" worthy to see if she can sway us with her cuteness.

Overall, we think 18 months looks pretty good on Annikah.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

a new game

One of the best things about having a toddler is seeing the small wonders and gifts that surround us I had forgotten about. Annikah does not take for granted new things and can make a game of endless fun out of almost anything. No light up plastic toy has amused Anni as much as the games she invents on her own. Here is her latest game; closet required. These are the apparent "rules" of the game: Anni runs and hides inside a closet, I or Jason say "where is Anni?" and pretend to look everywhere in the room for her, and then out pops Anni only to quickly close the door again. She actually stays in there for a few minutes each time. It is dark in there but the thrill of being hunted for and then emerging to utter shock and surprise seems to be more than worth it.

Monday, March 3, 2008

the quarantine ends

We are finally feeling better. Annikah still has a slight temperature so we stayed home from Moms' group but I think we will head out this afternoon and see how Anni does. The hardest part about this past weekend was watching Anni be so sad and not understand why. You just feel helpless that you cannot "fix" it. It was a good reminder that although Jason and I are blessed to have the role of caring and providing for Anni God alone can heal her. Added to my parental guilt is that Anni's friend Gilly (Michelle's daughter) who generously offered to watch Anni Thursday got sick and even ended up in the ER because of a high fever. I feel so horrible that Anni got her sick too. Jason and I prayed for Anni's healing on Saturday and it was so sweet to watch her throw her hands up when we said Amen!! Thanks to everyone that called, emailed, or dropped off a get well treat. I have the best family & friends. We are on the mend and hope to be back in the action by tomorrow!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

this is what we are doing....

being sicky sickersons.

I have had a nasty cold for about a week and Anni finally got it along with some terrible viral thing. She was up almost every hour last night and burning up: poor baby!!
We took her to the doctor first thing this morning after a temp of 103 and she also has another ear infection as well!! So sad! For most of today we have been laying around snuggling and wiping snot. Hope this passes quickly so I can have my energetic happy girl back.