Sunday, February 28, 2010

a princess & one in training

Any reader of this blog knows our Miss Anni's love (OK, obsession) with all things princess. Much to her delight Bibi Rhoda has this outfit which sorta resembles an ice skating ensemble except that no one skated in it and she cannot remember it's origins. No matter to Anni it is fabulous and she put on a recital with at least 12 different "princess performers" all introduced by yours truly and all played by Miss A. She would run around the corner and whisper the name to me (some of her favs included Princess Tata, Princess Talifa, Princess Kukia- where does she get this stuff?) and then after my announcement she would perform a number while we finished dinner. She would also always declare "this is my end" meaning whatever dramatic pose she stopped in was her big finish and therefore she was ready for her applause. She cracks me up.

Here is Anni ready for her applause

& looks like she is already trying to get lil' Evy into all things princess. I came into the living room after folding and putting away some laundry the other day to find this......(Hmmmm, I wonder who did it?)

Evy complete with tiara, wand, and Anni's baby sidekick.

Her face sorts says "save me from my sister" no?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

lil' girl Evy

I love this sweet little girl.
and she is changing everyday.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cham-bana

After playing house in Evanston a few weeks back we headed to Champaign-Urbana for the weekend. Am I the only one who thinks visiting your college Alma mater makes you feel old? Like I just do not get the "i'm not gonna wear a coat in 12 degree weather cuz it cramps my style," or the bipolar nature of college girl's wardrobes ie. wear PJ's to class and hootchie Mama club gear at night. Oh Vey! I guess I am old. But a lot of Champaign-Urbana (Cham-bana as we like to affectionately refer to it as) has changed. Way nicer stuff in campus town and swanky new apartments which I must say I think is just wrong. You are supposed to live in rat holes during your college days...no? That is part of the ambiance. I digress.... We went to see my sister Katy perform for the Illinettes during a Bball game. I would have great pictures with my new camera if the security had not taken it away. I guess they afraid of my wicked awesome picture taking ability would compete with ESPN :) Argh! But she was great and it was fun to see her apartment and go out for some frozen yogurt with her and her boyfriend on Friday night. We took Evy with us to the crazy loud bball game (which I never would have done with Anni) and she slept most of time in my sling amidst blaring loud music and cheering. Half way through she woke up and I took her out of her little pouch. A shocked college student sitting next to me who had been obviously enjoying some pregame beverages yelled "Whoa! Dude! There is a baby in there!" Yep! Evy went to her first Illini game and cheered them on to a victory!
what Evy did most of the game
Ben & J
ILL-INI!
Annikah stayed with Bibi during the weekend making us feel like we had tons of freedom (amazing how when we just had Anni we felt like life was so hard but now when we only have Evy it feels so E-A-S-Y!). Anni was more than happy to stay home and get spoiled by Bibi who took her to see Disney on Ice (they had great seats and some fun experiences-read my mom's blog and see pics here).
We invited ourselves to stay with our dear friends the Suttons who live in Urbana and were sort of our adopted family during college. They are seriously amazing people that have 3 grown boys now. We used to go on hiking trips with them as leaders of the youth group at our old hippie church; New Cov. They were granola way before it was cool to be granola and they are able to pull it off in a completely non arrogant and humble way which is inspiring. They are kind, compassionate, honest, giving, generous, genuine, and most of all Jesus lovin' fallen but found people living out their beliefs. I aspire to have the kind of family they are. Awesome. We had great conversations and caught up a bit with some friends from our church and got to see everyone at the service on Sunday too. We also hosted a tea time and shared more about our lives and work in Africa.
some friends from New Cov...we miss you all so much!
The last must on our trip was a college roomie reunion of the girls I used to live with at 54 E John Street. It was a hole of a place that was dirt cheap and where 5 girls shared one bathroom with no blood shed (a feat that requires some sort of medal). We laughed about many college memories like the sweltering heat in the summer, the pot-smoking neighbors who lived downstairs and once had an entire band set up in our staircase, my roomie sleep walking in her bra and eating cheese from the fridge, and the infamous one eyed squirrel who used to break in and chill on our couch (once while doing Tae-bo he assaulted me and I still may need counseling to recover). Ah, college memories.... the girls of 54 E John....with Jess & Jamie even photo shopped in (courtesy of Lizzie)

We met (minus Jess & Jamie who who dearly missed) at Annalea's house (which is beautifully decorated) and caught up as the kids frolicked and played until it was time to head to MY FAVORITE Mexican restaurant; Dos Reales. Now, I LOVE Mexican food and since I was celebrating my non-pregnant and therefore no-puking self I could not leave C-U without a trip to Dos (it would be a sin really). We had a blast stuffing ourselves and talking about how much has changed and how much remains from our crazy college days.

Dinner at Dos!! Mexican food heaven!
Katie & Matt with Evy
Precious time with friends and family...another awesome weekend!

Happy Bday my love!

J turns 31 today.....I asked him if his bones were a creakin' this AM since he is such an old man :) But seriously I want to wish my amazing hubby a Happy, Happy Birthday on his siku ya kuzaliwa!! Thanks for being the best Papa I know, the most patient husband, the sexiest lover, a faithful leader, and the most fabulous friend and life partner a girl could have. Happy Bday J!!! I'll even take you out to eat some red meat tonight....that is how much this girl loves ya!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

mchanga gets a gifty

Weeks ago we went to Champaign-Urbana on one of our many nomadic wanderings (post to come soon) to visit our old hippie church and fabulous friends and to see my sister perform in a B-ball game at U of I. We also had a reunion with some of my fabulous college roomies. My amazing & crafty friend Annalea (who I have known since high school) made this beautiful little gift for Evy. It will soon hang on her and Anni's room in Africa. Adorable, right?

Monday, February 22, 2010

cousin reunion

We spent the weekend with J's cousins, just those that live in the Midwest. We wanted to have a reunion of sorts since we will miss the next big cousin reunion (as an aside J's family on both sides does these awesome family reunions and I love attending since my fam does not have these and each reunion has its own traditions).

Besides the family's obsession with Haiku's-
which may sound dorky
but is fun and addicting
just try it and see

It is a great way to make memories of the time together. We all rented a cabin at Grizzly Jack's which I still affectionately call "Bear moose goose goat bear butt lodge" from our last visit when Anni was a wee one. To save money & have more time together Jason arranged for us all to cram (and I mean swish, jam, pack in -one room slept 7 people our last night- the Dills took one for the team with 5 kids in their room-thanks!) into a cabin so we could all enjoy the water park and amusement park for 2 days. It was chlorine soaked way too loud and crazy family fabulousness and although there was little sleep with so many babies and kids (seriously surround sound crying at times) everyone had a great time. Anni LOVED chilling with her cousins and on the ride back from the water park one afternoon said "(sigh) I am really gonna miss these guys when I go back to Z" So sweet and (sigh) (tear) us too! We all shared meals, the girls talked pregnancy, babies, and motherhood, the boys played rock band until way too late, the girls also kicked the boy's collective butts in Family Feud, and we all just enjoyed being together for a couple days. Again, we are saving up these memories as we shall soon miss everyone dearly. here is our family time in pics....
all the 2nd cousins (Trevor, Jonathan, Silas, Claire, Anni, Evy, Joshua, & Joel)
celebrating Silas' 4th Bday!
yum...cake!
more cousin love
the big boys play rock band
Breakfast with Silas
my sweet girl
Mark reads the kiddos a bedtime story
givin' Claire some lovin'
cousins on the water slide
they loved holding hands
water park in the winter necessitates awesome clothes.....sun dress and snow boots!
chilling in the water
lil' swimsuit on Evy...cover-up on Mama to hide post partum bod...yikes!
Papa & Anni in the hot tub the drop ride was Anni's fav
Silas, Anni, & Joel ride the snake
Me & Evy hang out while the kids run from ride to ride

Sunday, February 21, 2010

rockstar

Because of our nomadic lifestyle at present we have been spending A LOT of time in the car and we jam out to kid music or praise music most of the time but every once in a while mama selects a song....I guess Anni liked this one:

We are now in Iowa and had a great time at a cousin reunion...more later.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

a dancer's debut

Monday was Annikah's last dance class at the park district and her teacher invited all the parents in for the last 10 minutes for an impromptu recital of sorts (really just showing us some of what they learned). The kids basically ran around the room jumping and twirling with various props to some silly songs. Bibi and I had hyped it up all week telling Anni we could not wait to see her perform and honestly I was so excited. This is one of those moments in the raising of a little girl that is just fabulous and I was SOOO the giddy "soccer mom" who came with 3 cameras in tow to capture every moment (2 of the batteries died). Bibi, Jason, and even Babu came to see her big debut as a dancer, well as an "official" dancer as she has been dancing since she could crawl. She could not help smiling but would quickly try to hide it and look away so not to give away how pleased she was that an entire entourage of adoring fans came to cheer her on. As she twirled and leaped I was just warm inside, me heart smiled as I watched my little girl who is getting bigger everyday dance her heart out. It was one of those Mama days I wish I could hit the pause button. I guess these pictures will have to do....

special "dancer hair"
the performer in action

mid leap
pretending to be an elephant in an animal number
a dramatic end
perfect dancer pose
with her proud Papa
and adoring Bibi
these feet were made for dancin'

Sunday, February 14, 2010

my funny Valentine

Lucky for Jason I am a cheap date on Valentine's Day. I actually loathe the commercialism that is Vday and have repeatedly told him if he ever spends money on flowers (that are marked up to double what they normally cost) just because it is Valentine's Day I would slap him silly. OK, no violence but seriously he knows better than to get me a bear wrapped in cellophane or a dozen overpriced roses just because it is Feb 14th. Instead, I stealthily drop hints that he should be in a year round habit of getting me thoughtful gifties :) So because there was no date in store for J and I we decided to make it a family date day. Anni was very excited about Valentine's day this year and after coloring all her cards was eager to give them out. She even woke up this AM and bounded into our room to announce she wanted to wear her red heart shirt because "it is Valentin's." So we had to celebrate with a family date. Our challenge find cheap or free things that are fun and when limited by freezing temps and yucky dirty snow we had a challenge. Never fear: the mall is here!! There are actually a ridiculous number of malls in the western burbs and they all seem to stay in business since consumerism is how we Americans like to amuse ourselves, especially in sub zero temps. We hit the mall and although we did not buy a thing we got in some exercise and Anni got to toss pennies into the fountain, play in the playplace and convince Bibi (who met us there later after a vet meeting) to buy her a butterfly shirt. The best part was chilling in Von Maur listening to the piano man and watching Anni's interpretive dance. It was us and like 5 people over 60 relaxing on the couches and watching the Anni show. Some other kids were even inspired and joined in! On our way home we stopped and Jason ran into to Home Depot to buy some seeds we want to take back to plant in Africa and while I nursed the baby in the car Anni and I sang. She is a funny kid. Like she cracks me up at least once every day. This was one exchange in the car:

Anni: "Evy, will you like princesses when you grow up?"
Evy remains silent :)
Me: I don't know, what do you think Anni?
Anni: "Hmmmm, Yep, she will but she will like football too. I like princesses and I like to shake my booty"

Anni strikes a pose!
We ended the day by stopping off for a shamrock shake and dollar sundae for our special date treat...Annikah loved tasting them.....A McD's with a play place did not hurt either!
Happy Valentine's Day!!

here is some of Anni's said booty shaking:

winter blahs & lots of ahhs in Chicago

We just returned to my parent's house after an eventful and jammed packed week in Chicago. I love the city. I love the noise, too many people crowded in small spaces, urban bustle, the food, public transit, our church, and most of all our fabulous friends.

An amazing dentist in the city donated dental check ups for our family. It was Anni's first trip to the dentist and even though we pumped it up to sound crazy fun and even offered a "reward" (OK bribe) for being a good girl she was terrified. It must be innate in everyone to fear the dentist. Dr. Sam Park was so great with her and even did an exam and x-rays on her baby "Blueberry" to show her no torture was involved in the dental experience. Once the technician promised a princess toothbrush and "princess teeth" if she allowed her to put polish on Anni was in and happily sat in the chair while watching a kid's movie flickering above her head. I was shocked she did so well. She even said "Mama, I wanna come back to the dentist tomorrow" on our way out. These place knows how to do it! All of us had great checkups (except that the dentist said I had some enamel damage from puking so much, not surprising but since it is not going to be an ongoing problem caps are not needed). Amazing blessing that we were able to go for free!
Another awesome blessing was a friend from our church in Chicago, who Anni LOVES volunteered to babysit both girls so we could have a date!! A real date with my love with no kiddies, no breastfeeding, no diapers! We had a great coupon for one of those Brazilian-eat-so-much-meat-you-might-explode places downtown. Jason was thrilled and even had to go to the restroom mid-meal to loosen his belt in order to properly pack more in: that is my hubby! Of course since I am not a fan I just got the salad bar which was equally exciting with portabella mushrooms, asparagus, and an array of fancy exotic cheeses: yummy! We were basking in the glory of all foods we cannot get in Africa and both stuffed ourselves silly.
The night was made perfect because we walked to the El in tons of snow. Even though I am not a fan of winter the big fluffy snowflakes were beautiful and covered the grime of the city in a blanket of white. Sorta redeeming. We could not resist acting like kids and throwing some snow on the way home and I remembered how important it is to just have fun and laugh with J. We arrived home full, wet, freezing, but so thankful to have had some time as a couple in our fav city.

My legs are not that short: there was TONS of snow!!
We spent tons of time with friends and many people had us over for meals which meant lots of driving in city traffic (I DO NOT miss that aspect of living in Chicago) but great times of catching up and for Anni making lots of friends. She is especially impressed with how many dress up clothes little girls here have.
Anni and Ais model their mermaid frocks. I think Anni had serious mermaid dress envy.
The girls and I even had time to take in a brilliant puppet theater performance at the Anstee's place. We also brought a meal to new second time parents and friends from college Sarah & Ryan: congrats!! They named their new little girl Annikah!!! Great name!!

On Thursday night I was honored to be able to share about our life and work in Africa with some women in the Northfield area. We were invited to share by a good friend from South Africa Chloe. We arrived early as they invited us over for dinner and as always it was memorable. Every time I think my life is hectic I just think of Tim & Chloe :) They are always operating at a high octane level and it is awesome to be with them amidst the craziness because it is always great chaos. We actually ended up having a Costco roasted chicken and guacamole for dinner because we will all too distracted to make the salad or find other food. We also got to catch up a bit amidst kids running in every direction and trying to set up for the guests. Our time with them is always too short. Chloe is stepping out in faith to start a new group called Jars of Oil (based on the passage in 2 Kings chapter 4 where a widow approaches the prophet Elisha. She tells him that her husband is dead and a creditor is threatening to take her two sons away
as slaves. Elisha asks her: “What can I do to help you? Tell me what do you have in your house? The passage ends in God providing more than enough for her to care for her sons in a miraculous way). The purpose of Jars of Oil is to help bring resources together to help organizations making a difference in Africa and to empower those on the ground there as well as mobilize people stateside to join in on the work. Very Cool!! Chloe has an amazing ability to speak the truth, even when the truth is in your face, in love. Each woman was encouraged to bring jewelry they no longer wear and $100 each to donate (and sell things in their home if they did not have the money) even without knowing that much about us: Amazing!! It was such an encouraging time for me to share about all the amazing stuff happening on our island and I hope to continue to see this group make a difference in Africa. I ended up getting home so late that night because in the chaos because I misplaced my cell (which I had set to vibrate and both Chloe and I did not know my number or J's number). Now, I would plead lack of sleep which although valid is a lie in this case because I am notoriously bad at remembering numbers. We had to unpack and repack only to discover that the phone was wedged in the couch. I guess you had to be there but I could not stop laughing at the scene...maybe that had to do with lack of sleep! Anywho, it was a great night and I was so blessed to be a part of this initiative.
On Friday we were treated to dinner (and full body check hugs that made one little girl cry a few times) by the Studee fam and their two boys (Joshua was the one involved in rambunctious hugging and acrobatics of all sorts).

Saturday was another adventure. J heard about a free movie for kids sponsored by my favorite alderman in our old hood Roger's Park and he and Anni headed out first thing Saturday morning. By the time they arrived this was the line! Down and around the entire block. Looks like we are not the only folks who like free family stuff.
J and Anni did eventually get in (they cut it off about 20 people behind them) and saw Kung Fu Panda while enjoying free popcorn. I guess Anni was not that impressed since there was an obvious absence of princesses and pink frilly dresses but Evy and I got a quiet morning at home.
I must end my ode to Chicago with one sure sign of nasty winter weather: the broken chair in parking spot. Like in many cities folks like to claim their spot after they spend the effort to shovel it out by placing chairs, coolers, ladders, basically just about any crap in the street to "reserve" spots. The funniest part is that people sometimes put stuff in a non shoveled spot. Now c'mon that is just taking it too far! Great week in Chicago.