Thursday, May 29, 2008

can't get enough?

Just in case you cannot get enough of Anni and her adorable cousins Mark posted some super cute pictures and videos on his blog. We are in Iowa now and Anni is so excited to spend some quality time with her boys.

Annikah works out...part 2

Annikah is very into working out with Mama these days. She '>still loves her some Billy Blanks and has recently kicked her work out up a notch by using tension bands. Just a warning if you mess with Annikah....she is on her way to being one ripped girlie. Anni dabbles in Pilate's although her core strength is a bit lacking she enjoys laying down and waving her arms.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

cousins reunion in Nashville

We are back from Tennessee and I am exhausted. We had a great time but as soon as we arrived in Chicago it hit us how much we have to do in the next 3 weeks before we bust outta here! Anni stayed behind with my parents and her fav Auntie Katy (rock star awards for all) so we could spend more time catching up with everyone and less time chasing after her and working around nap schedules. I know she had a great time without us but I was so happy to see her beaming little face scream "mama!" when I picked her up on Monday night.

We were in Nashville for a cousin's reunion (Jason's maternal side) and it was awesome to see everyone since we skipped out on the last one (we had a good excuse as we were in Italy). We hitched a ride with Jason's cousins that live in the burbs (thanks!!) since our poor Blazer is not doing so hot. The reunion was a perfect timed reminder of the blessings of family we have in our lives. The weather was even hot and wonderful. Here is the weekend in a few pictures.....

Chai tea Popsicle at Fido's

The Lauer team...we smoked 'em at wiffle ball
The victorious "others" team (yes, named after Lost)

Nashville had a deli named after Jason & a reserved parking spot just for me :)

getting lost with 4 minivans full of people can be amusing...

lots of enjoying the weather & swimming & games & eating & laughing

Thursday, May 22, 2008

mama & Anni ride

Could we PLEASE get some more above 60 days so my daughter and I can enjoy outdoor activities such as.....

precious pics

I had to post these pictures Michelle took on Mother's day when we got the RPM crew together. The attempted group shot pictures just make me smile. Really, any photograph where two or more children are still &/or actually looking in the general direction of the photographer can be seen as a modern miracle. While we were not so lucky as to get a "perfect shot" I sense in time I will look even more fondly on these pics and remember the squiggly toddler years with a warmness and longing. For now I have joy in looking at them & sharing them.
the 3 little girlies loved the bath!

they do not quite get the "everybody say cheese" concept

yeah, still wiggling

final attempt......


A few funnies that made me giggle.
First, these signs out in the burbs. So, what exactly are the rules for bikes? I'm confused.

Second, this morning I was at the gym and there was a guy on the elliptical in front of me that was grooving and shakin' what his Mama gave him. He was not getting much of a work out in as his need for dancing clearly took over but those of us behind him were more than grateful for his moves. He made my workout go by so quickly and I was actually crying at one point because I was laughing so hard. He was listening to his headphones while busting a move, he even added in sounds at one point, it was brilliant. I had my cell phone with me and knew this treasured experienced must be shared with the world (unfortunately the video is only a few seconds long and of poor quality but I still had to post it in the hopes of sharing his mad elliptical dancing skills and inspiring others to really enjoy your work out).

Tuesday, May 20, 2008


Laughter is a blessing. This was evident to me this week as Jason and I were attending pre-field education training. Jason and I; like many couples, have weird little odd things that probably only the two of us find hilarious. If I explain why they are funny they cease to be so but to us they always seem to make us crack up and can produce a smile even in the midst of tension. During one of the presentations at the conference I whispered one of these phrases to Jason. His facial expression made me burst into laughter and water squirted out of my nose. Of course, in the tradition of being me this was entirely inappropriate behavior for the given situation of listening to a serious lecture presentation (perhaps this is why I always had such a soft spot in my heart for the smart Alic kids in my classes- I am the worst of them all!). As I thought about why I cannot "control" myself by biting my lip I realized I do not want this behavior under raps. Laughter is healing, it opens my soul up to comfort, warmth, and love. My conclusion is not original at all as scripture teaches "A cheerful heart is good medicine" Proverbs 17:22.
To truly appreciate the richness of the laughter I share with Jason or anyone I love is not in need of strict jurisdiction or limits. Because of the challenges, vulnerability, and growth I have experienced in my life with Jason the laughter we share; even if ill timed and immature, is deep and beneficial to my soul.
"Mirth is God's medicine. Everybody ought to bathe in it." ~Henry Ward Beecher

In the spirit of laughter I found this quote by a true genius of wisdom.....
Dad always thought laughter was the best medicine, which I guess is why several of us died of tuberculosis. ~Jack Handey, "Deep Thoughts"

Saturday, May 17, 2008

bizarre, funky, and weird

So I had one of those weird-bizarre-not-bad-but-just-funky days. Here is a sampling of the craziness.....

*awoke too early and could not go back to sleep with thoughts swirling in my brain about how much we have to do in the next month

*spent most of the morning cleaning and de-cluttering so we could show our place today only to open the fridge 3 SEPARATE TIMES and spill stuff all over the just cleaned floor

*tried to go running this AM and took Anni so Jason could try to clean and pack. Before we even made it 2 miles Anni decides it is time for a pit stop and makes this quite clear by the never ending barrage of screams for the "park." I gave into her requests and while at the park I was chasing Anni around from swing to slide as usual when a man started barking, seemingly just for fun (another family witnessed this and we discussed that his barking was rather real sounding). There were also two women pushing a shopping cart through the sand on the beach near the park. Strange stuff. So I end up running about 4 miles with a 20 minute break in between (not so helpful when training for a half marathon)

*2 different people came to see our place and while Jason was showing the first woman around Annikah decided she would throw the tantrum of all tantrums, I mean this one rivals the kids on Supernanny. I actually had to grab the car keys and run out of the house before her head started spinning around (of course forgetting my cell phone). I decided to drop off the recycling and return a museum pass to the library and Anni screamed for about 15 minutes after we left the house and then suddenly stopped when the wonderful angel of a woman at the library offered her a sticker.

*Because of not having my cell phone I was not sure we should return to the condo yet so Anni and I ventured to my favorite place to kill time and waste money: Target! We did need some TP, soap, and eggs so it was worthwhile. While in line the cashier shut down our line and asked us to move to another line where that cashier then proceeded to shut down and asked us to move again. While waiting Annikah found a baby hat that someone had left behind and wanted to wear it. I thought "fine, no big deal, you can play with it for a few minutes but I ain't buying it" but my usual "distract with something shiny or yummy and steal method" did not work and Anni lost her mind yet again. Argh! (read here many stares from strangers and looks that say "just buy the kid the hat lady!"). Unloading from the car and coming in I; for no apparent reason, dropped one out of the 5 target bags in my hands and you guessed it: the one that held the eggs. Only one broke though: score!

*Annikah's diaper leaked through her pants 3 times resulting in many ensemble changes and one couch mishap.

*after lunch we went out for a walk and randomly happened on the Waldorf School's May Fest where we listened to some fabulous music. At first Anni was very apprehensive but soon got into it and after 20 minutes we had to force her off the stage as she was dancing with the 3rd grade class strings, she did not like leaving and made sure we (and everyone watching) were aware of her feelings about the issue

*We returned home to find shattered glass everywhere in our room and for a moment thought someone had broken in but upon investigation found that a neighbor above us had dropped a brick through our window box propelling micro slivers of glass everywhere (covering our bed, the floor, clothes, stationary, my jewelry, etc). After finding the culprits (they were putting n their air conditioner window unit and dropped a brick out their window) and cleaning it up (read here fingers covered in ban aids) Jason "fixed it" with some plastic and duct tape.

*Because of the 3 hours cleaning and dealing with window we missed the kid's art gallery at church (boo hoo!) but the high point was catching up with the Anstees at our park and then deciding to have an impromptu to dinner at our place that ended with 3 cute girls in the bath tub.
I guess I cannot pinpoint it but today was just bizarre. Bizarre is "markedly unusual in appearance, style, or general character and often involving incongruous or unexpected elements; outrageously or whimsically strange; odd" That about sums it up.
.....Ok, so it is now raining and we shall see how good Jason's bootleg fix-it job went.

cousins day!!

Jorie, Mark, and Annikah's cousins Joel and Silas came out from Iowa on Friday and we spent the whole day having fun together. Jason was able to join us since Thursday was his last day of work (so we can really start packing and preparing to leave)! Jorie is here for a Premier Designs convention but they made a long weekend of it to spend some time with us and we were more than thrilled to have them! After a bit of traffic we hit the Kohl's Children's Museum and then after lunch on Joel's suggestion we walked down to the beach and the park to enjoy the beautiful weather. After feeding the kiddos we ordered deep dish pizza (they have that in Africa right?sigh :), gave the kids a bath, and just hung out. I took short video clips all day so Annikah can watch her cousins when we are so far away and remember what a blessing they are to us. Warning: this video is definitely lengthy and for the under 3 set but there are some too cute cuddly cousin moments.

At the end of the night Jorie commented that it was a "perfect Chicago day -traffic, pizza, & the beach." I agree but it was all made fabulous by sharing it with them.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

a poem in honor of the park

We love to hang at the park
but we can't go when it's dark

cuz then we couldn't see
when we swing on the "weeee"

Whoah! It is super breezy
when we swing sooo high
but we don't get queasy
cuz we are just too fly!

A poem by Mama inspired by Jonah & Annikah

too many antiques makes Mama crazy!!

Annikah & I drove our to the burbs Tuesday to help my Grandparents move into Windsor. With Anni, my sister Katy, brother Rob, and Mom we had a team assembled and ready to complete operation unpack and assemble. Yeah that they are finally here close by so my mom can better care for them and they can see us all more.
After the day I was exhausted. It is quite a challenge to keep a toddler busy and happy in a small space with boxes and breakable antiques everywhere while still trying to be somewhat helpful in unpacking and setting up their new place. Anni was great though and even took a nap in a closet for 2 hours so I could help unpack. Annikah was more than happy to play with Auntie Katy and steal ice cream from Grandma prompting Great Grandpa to comment "all that kid ever does is eat!" My response "better than break your stuff!" Welcome home Great Grandma & Grandpa!!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Annikah's time in Iowa

While we were on our vacation Anni was hanging with Grandma Rho, Grandpa Jim, Uncle Justin, Auntie Jorie, Uncle Mark, and her cousins Joel and Silas. Grandma Rho and Jorie took the kids to get their pictures taken together for a Mother's Day surprise- so sweet! Anni was only away for one week but in that time she learned at least 5-10 new words. She has added to her vocabulary "Iowa, Silas (Sy Sy), Joel, Ring Rosie (as in Ring Around the Rosie), house, star, and some others I have forgotten. A few days ago Jason asked her "Annikah, where do you live?" and we were expecting her favorite answer "Chicago!" but she smiled and replied "Iowa (pronounced Eye-wa)." What a little comedian! Today she saw the following pictures of her cousins and Grandma on the fridge and sat down next to them and said "Sy Sy, Ohhhhhh" (in a pathetic longing type of way). Just wanted you all to know you are appreciated and missed!

Grandma Rho & Annikah
The cousins A few video snippets from Grandma Rho of Anni's time in Iowa...... (I would want to stay in Iowa too if I got popsicles as big as my head :)

I love the baby jumping in this one...

Anni misses Sy Sy

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mama Day!

Today was my first Mother's Day celebrated with both Anni and Jason (last year he was in India) and although the weather was miserable it was a great day. After Jason let me sleep in until 8am we headed to church where every woman received a honorary rose. After again braving the monsoon we arrived home and Jason, with Anni's help, made me a fabulous lunch. This meant so much to me as I know it is definitely out of his comfort zone to cook but he looked up a recipe on the Internet, went to Devon market to get all the necessary ingredients, and prepared goat cheese crostinis for me. They were yummy and we had some extra that we shared with neighbors who agreed on the merits of Jason's budding culinary skills. Annikah made me an adorable card and with prompting said "mama day" to me throughout the day. We ended to evening with friends from our neighborhood celebrating. The party even got so crazy that various little girls got completely naked and took a group bath (all participants were under 2). Happy Mother's Day to all the Mama's out there. I hope you day is filled with the blessings and peace of knowing that giving of ourselves for our family makes God smile. Plus, I hope you get some big hugs on "mama day."

Friday, May 9, 2008

my friday night

and I would not trade it for anything.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


This post is a shameless exercise in bragging on how adorable my daughter is: no apologies, sorry. How cute is a little girl in a sundress? She wants to wear this dress Grandma Rhoda made her everyday (it is not quite warm enough hence the pants under it). She has also discovered the little pockets are perfect for storing spare grapes (that is my girl-always prepared for extra snacking). We pass this house all the time on our morning runs and yesterday we had to go back to take some pictures with the amazing tulips.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

girl bonding

Annikah saw me touching up my toe nail polish today and she wanted in on the action. She even said "Anni's toes" and then "thank you" after I polsihed one of hers. Who am I to deprive the girl of some fabulous feet?

my fav 5

So I was thinking today about that commercial for a certain cell phone company where calls to your "favorite five" people are free, errrr something like that as I admit I really have no idea what the deal is as I rarely watch or pay attention to commercials.
But if I had to pick my fav five I think it would be easy: Jason, my mom, followed by my friend Beck or Laura but these days I would have to add a couple more.
Elmo and the park have now climbed to the top of my fav five friends I call everyday, at least 10 times a day, sometimes more. Now I realize this sounds ludicrous but to a toddler calling the park and Elmo seems completely reasonable and a necessary part of her day. Anni will take anything that resembles a phone (a remote, plastic phone, even a calculator) and pretend like she is talking on it (it is really rather amusing as she is clearly mimicking me). I think this is rather adorable but I made the mistake a few weeks back of asking her "who are you calling Anni?" She looked at me puzzled for a second and then promptly replied "the park, Elmo." Now occasionally she will say she is calling "papa" or yesterday "sysy (silas)" but I think that is just to humor me because seriously she only cares about keeping in touch with the park and Elmo, and apparently these cats have a lot to say! Now these little phone calls were cute for a while when only Anni and whatever electronic-looking object she used were involved but since Monday it has been that Mama must talk to the park and Elmo every time Anni does. This is what a typical convo sounds like:

"Anni, park, Elmo.........." Annikah mutters to herself while holding the object to her ear with her shoulder.

"Mama.....(I try to ignore her as she thrusts the phone towards me)....Mama (I suggest she tell the park about her day)......MAMA! (I give up and talk to Elmo and the park)"

"Hi, Elmo! Are you at the park? What are you doing? (dramatic pause in eager anticipation of his reply, Anni is listening intently) Wow, Elmo you are going on the slide. Ok, well thanks for talking to me. (pause) you want to tell Anni you love her. Ok I will. (to Annikah) Anni, Elmo loves you and he said he will see you later." Anni then usually gasps in excitement and laughs. Sometimes I get wild and crazy and talk to Elmo about the sunny day or ask the park about the swings but you get the idea.
If I try to sneak and make an actual call to a real person not covered in red fur with a prepubescent male voice she protests and wants me to promptly "call Elmo!". At least these calls do not eat up my minutes but I tell you I am tired of talking to Elmo, I actually spend part of my day thinking what should I ask Elmo next time......I am losing it (that is if I had any of "it" left.)

I even tried to pull one over on her by trying to call the park and Elmo and telling Anni they were not there, "they are not answering the phone Anni. Sorry. " She immediately called my bluff, turned around to dig in her stroller, and presented me with another toy phone and requested yet again "Mama......Elmo, park." At least she is persistent! Gotta run, I think I have a phone date with Grover in 5 minutes.....

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

hanging with Ais

Anni & I got to hang out with Aislin again today. Beck had an interview for PBS (Yeah Beck!!) for her painting group the Plein Air Painters so Aislin joined us for our adventures. We had an action packed day including some dancing, going to the park, tumbling class, lunch, some art projects, general chaos, an Elmo video, and a nap. Both girls actually asked me to take a nap by 12:45pm. What a day! Because Aislin (so I hear) is the most loyal video watcher of this blog I had to put this little montage of our day on just for her. Aislin is only a few months older than Anni but it is amazing how many words she knows and how she can even string together full sentences "want go to park" and my favorite "Rox, I farted." Thanks for the over share Ais you are welcome around here anytime.

Monday, May 5, 2008

lattes with the artists

Annikah and I are back to our routine today and took a break this morning to go check out Anni's first art display. I took the suggestion of a great friend to submit some of Anni's recent artistic expressions to a local kid's art gallery display at a local coffee shop called the The Grind. All three of the pieces I submitted for her were displayed on the wall in the cafe when we stopped in this morning (minus some buttons and gems that fell off in the mail :)). Anni recognized her pictures and I was a proud Mama who almost sat on top of a poor guy just trying to enjoy his coffee to get a shot of her with her art. Beck and Aislin met us there and we got to see Indi and Ais's awesome original works as well. Ais & Anni then enjoyed splitting a cupcake (most of which eventually ended up in the floor) while Beck and I enjoyed some iced lattes. After the art-licious time we headed to the park before the girls had a chance to tear apart the coffee shop. We enjoyed the beautiful weather with great friends.

*Anni is celebrating cinco de mayo by sporting the dress we got her in Cozumel!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

we're in review

So after getting home last night at around midnight I am exhausted. Starting at 9:30am yesterday we took a boat, taxi, train, plane, the "L", and then jumped in our car and drove 1/2 way to Cedar Rapids to pick up Annikah and then turned around and drove home (thanks to Jason's parents who met us half way or we would have had to drive the whole 4 hours- thanks!!). All that to say we are tired and a bit motion sick today but it was a great week.

The best part of the week was not having Annikah around so we could just sit and relax, talk, eat when we were hungry (or every minute like we tended to do, I think I shall avoid the scale for a few days), do crazy excursions that would be impossible with a toddler in tow, not have to turn in for the night at 7pm, and in general be sloths and spend time just doing what we wanted. The hardest part of the week was not having Annikah around as I really started to miss her desperately by around day 3. It did not help that there was some adorable kids on the cruise and I tried to steal them at times to get an Anni fix but nothing is as good as the real thing :) I was so excited to hug her and hold her chubby little hands last night and what a blessing to know she had such a great time (more pics on that later as I heard great stories of her bonding time with Grandma Rho & her cousins).

So much to tell from our week away but I decided to just give some highlights of our trip as seen by my feet :)

The plane ride to Florida was blissful. I forgot that when one takes a plane without a baby or toddler one can read, watch a DVD, chat with your seat mates and spouse at your leisure, and as an added bonus not get your complimentary diet coke spilled all over your lap. It was awesome!!

Many hours of our vacation were spent lounging poolside (or beach side as above in Mexico). We got a bit too much sun as evident by my red and peeling skin but I actually got to finish two books and rest. What a blessing!

As all who know me well know I LOVE to eat and a highlight for us this trip was the formal dining room every night. We had fun dressing up (it was a change to actually be able to shower, put on make-up , AND dry my hair in a row, a luxury I rarely enjoy at home with Anni). We had fun dressing up and stuffing ourselves silly with awesome cuisine and enjoying conversation with our table mates.

After a few days of heels (and hiking and bike riding) my poor feet had the blisters to prove it. No worries I was able to prop them up and relax.

A hammock on a beach in there anything better? ......Oh yeah...all you can eat fresh guacamole and habanero pepper sauce...... Ahhhhhhh.

We did do some physical activity in an attempt to balance our slothfulness. We hit the rock wall a few times, the gym on the ship, rented bikes and circled the entire island of Key West, killed our legs on the jump zone on the ship, went hiking, cave tubing and took a ride on zip lines high above the jungle in Belize.

I am so thankful we got the opportunity to take this vacation before the craziness of the move sets in. It was a welcome break from everything resembling reality. Now back to the dirty laundry and sweet little girl that await me.

We had a long wait in the airport as our flight was delayed so we made good use of our time putting this little video montage is a sampling of our week.