Saturday, January 31, 2009

"Stop, Kiss and Listen"

Day 31.

I picked up the latest Woman's Day mag at my in-laws house this morning. I was just in the mood for some light reading - some new crock-pot recipes, perhaps. Or maybe a Valentine's craft to do with the kids? What I ended up reading was an article about a preschooler who developed a very rare form of cancer and died within the year.

Now is when I remind you that I am a chronic worrier. And in ranking my worries - worries about my children are on the very top rung. I often run over in my head all the various diseases and scenarios that could come out of a common cold, stomachache, or the like. I know ... it's a problem.

So, when I see an article like this - I usually shut the magazine and try not to think about what I know I just saw. I usually just can't handle stories like that.

But today, I read on. Something in me MADE me read on. And while it was exactly the same type of article as I have read before, I didn't have the same response. I read, I thought, and I didn't dwell. I had empathy for the family, but I didn't automatically assume it would happen to me.

Instead, I was able to do what the title of the article said: "Stop, Kiss and Listen" to my children all day long. I hugged them a little tighter. I kissed them a few (hundred) times more. I played fisher price people with them a little longer. And I even enjoyed it.

I am grateful for this reminder that life is short.

Not because it made me think it will happen to me. But because it made me realize how every single moment is precious with my children. Not because they could get cancer tomorrow (and of course, they could), but because their lives are not in my hands. Their lives are in God's hands, and ultimately they do not belong to me. So, for whatever time God gives them on this earth, I want to cherish it.

True Friends

Day 30.

Friday, January 30, 2009.

Today I went with a dear friend, Jeni, to Ikea. It was chaotic at times, funny at times, but overall really enjoyable. We did leave with a sense of: let's not do this again with 4 kids...for a long time. I hate shopping. But, I think it helped us spend less money. :)

I am grateful for friends that I can be myself with.

Jeni and I both have similar parenting outlooks (don't ask me to define what that is...), so it's nice to be in a place like Ikea (for 4 hours, nonetheless!) with her. We had many of almost-meltdown moments, but somehow with the extra company, we made it through with almost no one crying. Actually, I can't really think of a time when anyone cry? Maybe I'm blocking it from my memory, or maybe it really didn't happen!

The more I talk to friends and relatives in far off locations who DON'T have this support system, the more I realize how awesome it is to have friends, who are moms, who are on the same page as me most of the time (at least about parenting...:)). Of course, we don't agree about everything, but how refreshing when you can bring your parenting mishaps, successes, and frights to the table, and you never worry about someone thinking negatively of you. You just know they've all been there, or will be there. And if not, they know you are doing your best, and whatever that is ... is fine.

I love you - you know who you are.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

How I got run over

Day 29.

We were on our way home from the Ogden Dunes, Indiana where our weekly playgroup was held today. The exit of the dunes is a stoplight - I needed to turn right. The light was red, and I noticed a "No Turn on Red" sign - obviously there because of the railroad tracks that also accompanied the intersection. I was running late (I had bradley to teach tonight), and I knew it could be a LONG time before the light turned. So, I waited a bit, wiped Dylan's nose in a crazy mom turn around move (good thing my neck is almost back to normal), scoped the surrounding area for police cars, and decided to just turn. There were no trains or even cars in sight.

As I was turning, I saw the police car, sitting in the gas station across the street - how the *#&$*@#! did I miss that? I turn, and I see a police man bolt out of the gas station and jump in his car, lights on, getting closer. SHOOT me.

Me: Oh my gosh. Shoot! I cannot believe this! He's pulling me over.
Dylan: Who's pulling you over?
Me: The police officer. He's pulling me over.
Dylan: Why is he pulling you over?
Me: Because I turned right on red and I shouldn't have. I broke the rules, and I shouldn't have done that.

Police man at my window. I give him my license and registration and he goes back to his car. Grueling wait ensues. He comes back.

Policeman: Yeah, do you have the registration for YOUR car?
Me: What? Oh crap - this is for my husband's car!! Oh my gosh, we must have swapped them on accident.

Somehow, still:

I am grateful I just got a written warning.

As we were pulling away (quite nervously - how is it that somehow after you get pulled over you suddenly feel like you are back in driver's ed and you don't know how to drive without swerving?), Dylan asked me - "Mommy why did the policeman run you over?"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Puppetry

Day 28.

I was exhausted today. I haven't figured out if it was the muscle relaxer from last night (cause I felt this way yesterday too after taking it the night before), or if it's my stupid thyroid again. I had been feeling pretty great for two weeks - but these last two days have been hard.

Dylan has a cold - not a bad one - just one where she yells at me five-thousand times a day - "Blow my nose!!" And every single one of those five-thousand times, I make her say it again in a "different voice..."

This afternoon, I was desperate for a project. I couldn't do pretend-play much longer without insanity settling in. So, I got out the white paper bags, the Cray-pas and we made puppets! Then, we put on a Puppet Show for the first time. I don't know why I hadn't done this before with them, but Dylan thought it was hilarious. Actually, I do know why I haven't done this before - they GOT it, but it was hard for them to actually do it (i.e. keep their heads down while hands up, come up with a story, interact with other puppets, etc.). Dylan just came out from the stage and talked her puppet in front of her face like a mask. Noah's puppet just kept falling off his little arm. But, it was still fun. And Dylan's puppet - of course her name was...Allison.

I am grateful for puppet shows.

I made it through the long afternoon and evening.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Swoosh

I am grateful that Noah seems to have his father's athletic abilities.

video

Monday, January 26, 2009

Script for a Muscle Relaxer

Day 26.

My neck is still excruciating. I haven't been sleeping because of it, and decided this morning I had to do something else besides soybeans and microwaved rice packs...get me some drugs.

So, I found an Immediate Care facility in the west loop that had a free parking lot (key for me in this cold with two little ones). And I was pretty impressed with this place. All except for the fact that they obviously hated children. The weird thing is, I'm sure they treat kids there. But, when I walked in, the lady at the front desk looked at D&N and then stared at me coldly saying, "You have someone here to watch them, right?" Uhhhhhhhh.......no. "The rooms are kind of small," she continued. Seriously? Is that your reasoning here?? - because watch me entertain two small children in a 2x4 train car for 18 hours - you don't know what small is sista.

The look of death obviously worked, because nothing else was said about it. That is, until the nurse called me back.

Nurse: Rhodes!
Me: We're coming... (as I scoop up the coats, winter accessories, cheerios, water cups, magna-doodles, etc.)
Nurse (upon seeing "the children"): Oh...they are coming back with you?
Me: Well I don't have much choice do I? What do you want me to do with them?
Nurse: Well, I'll have to check if this is OK.
Me: Seriously? Because the front desk said it was fine (small embellishment) and really - WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THEM? I'm their mother - we don't have a babysitter.
Nurse (exasperated): Well, Ok...

I am grateful for a kid-friendly doc.

The actual doctor was wonderful. He looked at Dylan's homemade workbook, picked up their sippy cups, deciphered what Noah was saying: all good things in my mommy book. I apologized a few times for their craziness during the examination (afterall, I was now HYPERsensitive), and he was like, "Don't worry about it. I had a few of these some time ago..." So nice, and what I needed to hear. I just added my own internal interpretation of what he said: Lady, you're doing great - don't sweat it. They are angelic, adorable children and of course I don't mind that they are dropping rice cake crumbs all over my floor.

Thanks, Doc. And for the record, the rooms were at least 8x10.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A sacred hour to myself

Day 25.

Dylan has officially given up her nap. I knew this day would come and I thought I would be more distraught. It's really proven to be a blessing in disguise, because the past 4-6 months of napping for her has been very sporadic, unpredictable and just plain annoying. One day she would go down easily and takes a 3+ hour nap, the next she wouldn't allow herself to settle down and fall asleep at all. She resisted quiet time - just coming out of their room, and I eventually gave in.

But see, this helped no one. She didn't get sleep, and I didn't get the hour of PEACE I so desperately need each afternoon to recharge and remember why I love staying home full time. Something had to change.

Finally, this January, she gave it up for good, rarely taking that coveted 3 hour nap that used to come on a semi-regular basis. And just last week I found the key: quiet time in MY room, not in her room with Noah. See, if she wasn't taking a nap, she was talking to Noah, and thus HE was not taking a nap. Not good. So there she went, into my room, with a pile of books 2 feet high, a magna-doodle and her coveted camera (thanks Auntie Susie). She agreed to stay in there for an hour, and it worked! So, that's now our routine (only three days old), and I'm LOVING that I have an hour to myself again. That hour I become even more grateful.

But I'm getting off track. Today, after church, on our way home...both kids zonked.

I am grateful that Dylan took a nap.

As wonderful as quiet time has become, sleeping is always better.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Healing soybeans.

Day 24.

I'm grateful for a bag of Edamame.

I woke up at about 4am this morning not able to turn my neck. Excruciating pain radiating down the whole left side, and just totally incapacitating. Also very strange. Even through three advil around the clock, it's been a pretty painful day. I'm icing (with frozen Edamame), heating, rubbing joint-ritis...what more can I do. My children were kind to me and understood that I couldn't play as rough today. Hopefully I'll be back to normal tomorrow.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Interesting Name-Association

Day 23.

After a long day of Museum-going, quiet-time-attempting, and lots of neediness, I was ready for a break when Jason came home early. He had a different idea and wanted to take a nap. At first, I was not pleased - seriously - I just spent the whole day with them and you come home and get to take a nap? It didn't seem fair. But then I realized how selfish I was being. And how much he deserved a nap after a long week.

I am grateful for Noah and Joseph McVicker.

They are the inventors of Play-doh (1956 by Rainbow Crafts). When I wanted to check out, have a glass of wine and make dinner, ALONE, I was able to get out our tub of fun and have Noah and Dylan go at it - while I still enjoyed the glass of wine and made dinner. And I even got to halfway check out. Thanks Noah (and Joseph)!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Thursday time with God

Day 22.

What a wonderful group of moms I get to meet with every other Thursday morning. I joined a mom's Bible study here in hyde park and it has been so wonderful meeting these other women of faith.

I am grateful for the women in my Bible study.

While we meet and are studying the Psalms, Dylan and Noah have their own classes too. Noah's in the nursery with the under 2 crowd, and Dylan goes to the over 2 class which has two fabulous teachers leading them in a Bible-centered play and learn time. It's wonderful - like Sunday school on Thursday! Dylan always comes away from this time happy and refreshed. And so do I! What an amazing group of women these are...inspiring and uplifting.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

exploring art

Day 21.

Wow, three weeks that I've kept this going, yay! I was skeptical myself that I'd be able to keep it going, and here we are. So far it hasn't been that hard coming up with something every day, so that's a good sign.

I took Dylan to "art school" this morning - I pushed the double stroller through the snowy sidewalks - that was freaking hard. Dylan wanted to go by herself today - she didn't want me to stay in the class. That's the nice thing about this class - parents are totally welcome for the whole thing (it's ages 2-5), but if you want to leave, they are great with that too! It's a small class of only 5 kids including Dylan, so I know the teacher gives her lots of attention (especially since every other parent/nanny stays). She did great and came home with two books she made all about textures. She called one "textureville" and was talking about it and trying to read it to Noah for the next hour that we were at home. It was hilarious. She kept saying to him, "Don't you want to read about textureville? It's TEXTUREVILLE! You might like it!" OVER and OVER and OVER again. I was cracking up. He just kept saying, "I playing ball, Dyl-win. I playing ball, Dyl-win." It was so cute.

But back to art school...

I am grateful for the time I got with just Noah today.

What a joy it was to spend an hour and a half with ONLY Noah at the Hyde Park Art Center: walking around galleries, examining and naming the art, sitting at Cafe Istria drinking green tea (me, not him) and having graham crackers (him, not me), and going to the Art Reference library to look at books. I found a really cool book of Children's book covers from 1890-1960. So neat, especially for a graphic designer.

We had such a great time together! We spent about 15 minutes of the time throwing this portable brush I had in my bag across the floor and watching it loudly bounce across the cement. Then we would race to see who could get to it first. The games an almost-2 year old makes up - they can be fun!

It was lovely to be somewhere with him that we could explore and let HIM take the lead on this - since so often it's Dylan setting the agenda as the older child when we're somewhere all together. And it was important to be away from home so I didn't take the time with only one kid to "get stuff done" instead of just enjoying my wonderful, energetic boy. I look forward to many more wednesday mornings exploring together.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Peace, Hope, Obama

Day 20.

We went to library storytime today and it was all about the inauguration. What does that mean in toddler context? We read books about peace and hope, and one specifically about Obama. The librarian talked about him becoming our president, and it just felt really exciting.

I am grateful to be explaining democracy to my children.

It was just really fun to be talking about Obama all day to them. We watched part of the inauguration at the library (with a 15" rabbit-ears TV nonetheless), and it just felt electric, even in the children's department. I guess it is Hyde Park afterall, and that was Obama's hometown library.

I wish everyone a peaceful, hopeful day.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Paintbrush poised

Day 19.

Today was a nice day at home - Jason had the day off for MLK's bday, so we just hung out, got several things done around the house and played together. The day went way too fast.

This evening I was trying to get some mail sorting done, and so I needed a project for the kids (Jason was grading papers for school).

I am grateful for our art easel.

This easel is from when I was a child - my sister, Lara, and I would play school endlessly with this thing. It's a chalkboard easel on both sides. I have so many fond memories of our "school" sessions, that it's a real trip every time I take it out for my own kids to play with.

I keep it by the kitchen for these precise times - I set them up with paints, paintbrushes, big sheets of paper clipped to each side, and they went at their masterpieces! It's so fun to watch what they create. Paint is an amazing medium for kids, and I am especially eager to see what Noah does each time. He used to just make a stroke here and there. But today he filled up much more of the page, and even came around to Dylan's side to help her - and WOW - she let him!

Thanks easel for the memories, and we're making even more!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hilary has left the building

Day 18.

After being at home since Wednesday morning cooped up inside because of cold, snow, and lack of energy to go out in either,

I am grateful to have left the house today.

Sometimes gratitude is in things you normally do all of the time and don't think twice about - but when you take a break from them and then come back, you enjoy them so much more.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

30 Day Shred

Day 17.

One thing I've really wished I could do more in my life as a mom is exercise. For me, that is the hardest thing to accomplish with young children in the house. I've tried time after time to do a yoga video, tae bo, even a mommy and me fitness DVD - with no luck. They always let me get in about 20 minutes. Even with me trying to get them to do it with me, giving them a fun couch of toys to play with, setting them up with an art project...nothing works when I want to work out.

I am grateful I got to work out today!

Stephanie (from my favorite crockpot website crockpot365.blogspot.com) posted about a new DVD she was doing to get a jump start on her new year's resolution of exercise. I'm not huge into new years resolutions, or fast exercise results. I'm more an "exercise is a lifelong committment" type of gal. But, three things sold me on this video (since i hate the title and marketing of this video). One, the workouts (they give you three levels all in one DVD to work up to) are only 20 minutes. With warm-up and cool-down I was done in about 25. Two, it got about 513 5-star reviews on Amazon. Very impressive. And three, it was only $8.49 (with free shipping w/ Amazon Prime).

Score! I completed the workout with Dylan nipping at my toes at about 22 minutes duration. Perfect timing. I plan to do this as daily as I can. Keep me honest!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Haven't felt better in days...

Day 16.

My mom came to visit today from Champaign. How wonderful to have Grandma Cindy here - Dylan was attached at the hip - literally. Grandma couldn't even go to the bathroom without a little 3 year old joining her.

And me,

I am grateful for my awesome nap this afternoon.

You know the kind of sleep where you almost feel drunk, you're all tingly and deeply entrenched in your covers and you just feel like you belong there. I was having some really weird dreams throughout, but I easily went back to sleep when I kept waking up. It was bliss.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Only Moments

Day 15.

Today was a hard day for me. To be honest, I wasn't that grateful. I just kept counting the hours until Jason came home. You see, Wednesdays are really long days now that he is back in grad school - he leaves at 7:30am and gets home at 10pm. So then, Thursdays where we don't go anywhere (again) and I am home with no adult interaction all day (again) are really hard. And long.

I was in a bad mood for much of the day, didn't feel all that great and was exhausted. I didn't feel like playing "Stuffed animals go to the mall and ride the carousel" or "Tic tac toe with dollhouse people and cardboard bricks." I didn't want to play Winnie the Pooh Crazy Eights for the fifth time.

But, through all that negativity, I had a few moments of sheer gratefulness. Maybe it's my newfound search for gratitude, maybe it's God giving me a break. I think a little of both. But through Noah's extreme clinginess and need for mama today, what usually would be exhausting, felt really comforting. I was his comfort, and I took that role on with pride. I really held him today. I thought about how this wasn't forever - soon enough he would be 14 and not only will he not fit so compactly into my arms, but he probably won't want to cuddle anymore anyhow.

And Dylan, oh Dylan. She is so dramatic, and I was up for no drama today. But today, I would catch these glimpses of her where I would just see her entire self, for how beautiful, how cuddly, how special, how loving, how silly and how creative she really is. And I wanted to stop time and live right there in those moments with my two angels.
So for today,

I am grateful for being present with my children.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Snow Day!

Day 14.

Well, not really a snow day, but we did trudge through the snow to get to Dylan's first Discover Art class. She really wanted to go to school, so she chose "Art School" and we made that happen today. But really, the snow day meant that we canceled playgroup today and instead, all the moms emailed incessantly all day with ideas about projects to do with your kids to beat the indoor blues. And wow, were we all creative.

I am grateful for my creative playgroup moms.

Several of these wonderful women talked about food coloring the snow in some way: spray bottles, squirt bottles, etc. And there was wonderful talk about putting snow in the sink and letting them play. So, we went for it!

They took a little time to get into it, but eventually they loved playing in that frosty mess! And I was somehow able to let go and allow them to play freely and dump snow on the floor. When they got bored, we got out the spray bottles and I put water with a couple drops of food coloring in them. They couldn't work the spray bottles, so I poured the colored water into different bowls and got out chunky paintbrushes. Jackpot. They painted that snow for almost an hour! It was great fun, they didn't have to wear their mittens since they were holding paintbrushes, and it was just new and different! Thanks fabulous moms!

Now go do it yourself - so fun!
And if you want pictures - check out my other blog: ontherhodes.blogspot.com

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Just call me Laura Ingalls

Day 13.

Wow, it's getting really cold outside. Right now the weather channel online says it's 5 degrees, feels like -6 degrees. I believe it. Today we didn't have real plans except for I need a few groceries - minor things - mostly produce. So, trying to be a good local business supporter, I decided to walk the kids down to Open Produce, a pretty new, really cute and tiny (really tiny) produce store that also has some grocery items as well. It's only 1.5 blocks from our house, so it's very appealing for that reason alone.

I didn't realize it was THAT cold out. And the smart mom that I am didn't put mittens on her children. My reasoning - it's 1.5 blocks away. We'll walk there, warm up while getting groceries, walk back - it will take what - 15 minutes? A nice outing to get a little Vitamin D and exercise. And won't they have fun in the snow? Those were all the thoughts that were going through my head, and all the thoughts I later cursed.

Poking a fondue stick at my eyeballs would have been more fun than that outing. As soon as we walked out the front door, the madness started. I let them each pick out a color of reusable bag they wanted to bring to help carry the groceries home in. Dylan had dropped her purple one somewhere inside and was beside herself. I refused to go back in because I knew we'd never get back out. So, we trudged along, and she was already in tears. Turn the corner from our block (20 steps out the front door) and she slips on the ice. Sweet.

This walk to the market was the LONGEST walk I have taken in a long time. Oh wait - but the way back was so much worse. We got our groceries (after them whining from hunger, me giving them bananas, Dylan drops hers, etc.), got out the door, and that's when the real fun began. I have never been so desperate to see my front door. Dylan wouldn't walk. Noah wouldn't walk. They both started crying because they were so freaking cold. And I was carrying three bags of heavy groceries (they had a lot of stuff on sale). Who's genius idea was it to walk sans stroller?

As I dragged (literally, dragged) a hysterical Noah down the sidewalk, barely holding onto my groceries with my ice-cube fingers, I got drastic. I started imagining I was a pioneer and I was strolling across the prairie trying to get back to my log cabin. This is no joke - that's how pathetic I felt.

So for today,

I am grateful we made it home safely to the log cabin, and no one got hypothermia.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Name change

Day 12.

Jason was home sick today with a cold/cough combo. So, I convinced him to let me leave Noah with him to hang out while I took Dylan to ballet this afternoon. Usually I take both of them and Noah and I sit outside the class and wait. But if I go alone, then I can volunteer to do the door buzzer, from INSIDE the ballet studio, and then I get to watch the class! What fun! I love watching those little 3 and 4 year old bodies leap and spin and gallop around the room. So cute.

I am grateful for the Hyde Park School of Dance.

Miss Allison is the teacher and Dylan absolutely adores her. For some time now she has been calling ALL dollhouse people, stuffed animals, pretend-play characters and anyone in her made up stories "Allison." I didn't make the correlation until recently that it was because of dear Miss Allison from the HPSD.

Today on the way home from class, she told me she wanted to go to ballet again today: three more times today! Then she told me, "Mom, I would rather me be Allison than Dylan."

"But Dylan is YOUR name," I said. "We chose it special for you. You are such a Dylan!"

"No! I want to be Allison," she barked back. "I'm changing my name to Allison."

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Safe Place

Day 11.

We were randomly watching Stand By Me the other night, and I was marveling how carefree and easy it was to live back in the day - even 30 years ago - kids tooled around their neighborhoods, towns, and beyond with so much more freedom. It made me aware of how gaurded our kids are now. In a world that is getting scarier, more dangerous, or maybe just us humans getting ever more anxious and worried (or is that just me?), I am grateful to have a place our whole family feels comfortable and safe. For me, this place is Lombard Mennonite Church.

I am grateful for our church.

I realized this when after the worship service this morning, I was able to just tell Dylan, not even 4 years old, "Go ahead and go down to singing." And she went! Happily, confidently by herself. I knew if she got lost that one of the other members of the congregation would help her find her way. We look out for each other there, and I love that. What a joy to worship God with people you feel at home with.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

That damn special treat

Day 10.

I screwed up today. And so,

I'm grateful when I see my parenting mistakes clearly and am able to learn from them.

There was a massive clearance sale at the city Once Upon a Child (franchise resale children's store) today. So even though we were in the middle of one of the snowiest days of the winter so far (and that's a bold statement given our December/January), I hit the road with Dylan in tow while Noah and Jason were at soccer. I figured it would be easy just bringing her along - shopping with only one kid? Piece of cake.

It was absolute chaos at the store. The already crowded, narrow aisles were jam-packed with momzillas scrounging for the best deals. It was a grab bag sale, so you could stuff as much as you could in these little pink bags for $10/bag. It ended up being a good deal - I saved $139.60 off of the already resale prices. Pretty awesome, huh? But really, people were ridiculous. At one point, someone told Dylan to move (and she was standing RIGHT next to me while I was browsing racks) so the lady could get in to see better. I was pissed, and no need to say that mama bear came out in full force. Seriously, it's clothes. Let's not loose our self-dignity over this, people. Don't push away a three year old from her mom to get your spot.

Anyhow, that's not at all the point of my post, except for that Dylan was really good through the whole thing. She was so cooperative, just stayed by me, helped me pick out her stuff, and except for the occasional whine for a really ugly shirt that I couldn't bear to put in my bag, she was a trooper. Let's get this straight - I was there for an hour and a half - so it was a long time to just stand there.

So, we were almost done and ready to check out when I told her, "You know what, Dylan, you've been so cooperative with this whole shopping thing, when we're done, let's go get a special treat." The magic two words, SPECIAL TREAT. It was like I told her she could eat jelly beans for breakfast for the rest of her life. She was pumped, but kept her excitement under control.

Until we went to go briefly look at the shoes, and the dolls where right next to the shoes. I got this "genius" idea to ask her if she would like to pick out a (used) doll as her special treat. She got very excited and chose a doll with rollerskates on it (the most scary looking one I might add). So, she put it on our pile and I found some really cool shoes for Noah. But then, things went haywire. She realized that choosing a doll would mean THAT was her special treat, and not a lollipop, or ice cream, or some other sweet food item. Now, I had NEVER said that she was getting a sweet food item, and I really am horrified that she thinks that "special treats" have to be food items - sugared ones at that. I mean, I use the words "special treat" for a lot of things - time with grandma, reading an extra book at bedtime, having a cookie, getting to go try out a soccer class, etc. So, there should not be a direct food correlation. But there is. I don't know how it happened, but to Dylan, special treat = sugary consumption.

So, she freaked. New doll, no sugar. Sugary treat, no doll. She couldn't make up her mind and stood there and drove herself crazy trying to decide. She got all worked up, started freaking out and insisted she got BOTH a doll and other special treat. It delevoped into quite the angry scene. So, I calmly put the doll back, and we paid for our stuff and left. She was beside herself with rage, sadness, and just overall disbelief that she was now getting NO special treat. I'll spare you the details of our ear-piercing ride home. But, it was not pleasant.

Lesson learned is two-fold. First, why did I tell her about the special treat before we were done? I could have just done something special for her after we left. She was already being wonderful, so why did I feel like I had to add that little bit on? I guess it was because I was proud of her, and it wasn't a bribe, it was more of a "Wow, thank you Dylan, you've been so great this morning - I want to do something special for you." But by doing that, I ruined it! It was all my fault.

And second, why did I have to reward her at all? I believe in my kids acting properly and respectfully just because that's who they are, not because they are going to get something in return. So, there goes that.

Friday, January 9, 2009

cliche

Day 9.

It's friday, and I'm keepin' it simple.

I am grateful for fridays.

As much as I love love love staying home with my children, I also love love love when Jason is home too. After two full weeks together as a family, it was hard to get back into the swing of having him gone each day again. So, yay! It's friday and we have a nice relaxing weekend together as a fam.

Snow Much Fun

Day 8.
January 8, 2009

The one great thing about snow is sledding.

I am grateful for snow, but only because without it, there would be no sledding.

Today we (I) needed to get out of the house. I was sitting inside thinking about our lack of Vitamin D in the past month and made up my mind.

So, I bundled up both kids mid-morning: snow pants, puffy coats, hats, mittens, winter boots and all and we took the sled to the park! Yes, I pulled them in the sled down the sidewalk (or they walked when the neighbors did too good of job shoveling) the two blocks to Promintory Point and then I pulled them around the grassy open. We then headed over to the viaduct that runs under Lakeshore Drive - and we sledded down the hill that leads up to the drive. It was so fun. They had a blast riding down and I got a good workout helping them climb back up to the top and start all over again.

We rounded out or winter outdoor fun by hitting the playground and swinging in the snow, going down the slide into the snow and Dylan even did the ice-covered balance beam!

What fun!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Wednesday, Lazy Wednesday

Day 7.

We spent the day inside today. It was a glorious never leave the house and stay in your pajamas all day kind of day. I don't normally like those days, and am usually the first to sign up for some random outing or trip to Target just to get out. But today, I embraced our home. I embraced that during the intermittent snowfall all day, I didn't have to pull on boots, scrap a car window full of ice, or shovel myself out of city street parking. I watched the snow from inside, and it was beautiful.

I am grateful for lazy days at home.

Really, if you know me, it isn't something I thought I would be grateful for...ever. I can be a homebody, but a busy homebody. I don't like to just lay around much - but would rather get stuff accomplished, work on projects, and just have an agenda. But not today.

And the wildest thing about me being "lazy" today, is that my house looks better than it has in weeks! I built some cleaning into my laziness that didn't even feel like cleaning. Usually when I try to clean, my kids get the shaft, and I wind up doing next to nothing and still feeling guilty for ignoring them as much as I need to so I can get that "nothing" done. Not today.

I guess I'll be lazy more often.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Run Noah Run

Day 6.

Many days, parenting is about simple pleasures. The simple pleasure of watching your almost 2-year old pray for "mommy, daddy" with his eyes closed at the dinner table. The simple pleasure of both children eating the plate of food you lay before them at lunch. The simple pleasure of your 3-year old calling your placemat a "poster."

I am grateful for Noah's little run.

We have a long, long hallway that spans half of our condo. It is a child's dream for running, riding bikes, "skating" and many other activities that our downstairs neighbors hate. As I cringe for the sound of the phone ringing, ready to hear our grumpy Grinch downstairs cuss me out, I LOVE to see those little legs running down that hall. He has the cutest run I've ever seen, and I can't help but smile when I see it.

Monday, January 5, 2009

"I'm looking for my friends..."

Day 5.
January 5th, 2009

I am grateful for TV.

My children don't watch a lot of TV. Not because I'm stuck up, or think your children are tainted if they do, I just would rather them do a lot of other more imaginative things than sit on the couch. And I see the vegetative state they enter into when they do watch even two minutes of television. So, we stay away except for a token 30 minutes or one show/video per day.

But wow, when you need it, you need it.
And today was one of those days. Days like today is why television was invented.
I woke up with the worst headache of my life. Really, I thought my head was going to explode. And I couldn't open my eyes without wanting to stab at my skull. So, I laid on the couch for awhile, and they were troopers reading books, playing near me. But that didn't last forever. Once I had taken sufficient pain relievers and made it to the kitchen for some nourishment, i just needed 30 minutes of peace. Thank you Sid the Science Kid.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

773.667.5423

Day 4.
January 4th, 2009

Jason was in the mood for takeout, and since we haven't really eaten out this month (we've been doing lots of eating, just all IN with family) we decided to go for it. He sold me with: "we don't want make more dishes..." and somehow I bought that.

I am grateful Dylan and Noah enjoy the foods us adults eat.

They were totally 100% pumped to have Thai Snail (our local AMAZING Thai place around the corner from us) for dinner tonight.. The owner knows our kids by name - she (who the kids call "Mrs. Snail" - asks about them every time we come in, with or without them, knows Noah's birthday and overall just makes us feel like friendly city folk.

We love their Pad Thai with tofu and Panang Curry with chicken ("Don't forget the peanut sauce!" says Dylan) and they both eat more of this flavorful cuisine than my own home cooking. Go figure...

Once Upon a Time

Day 3.
Saturday, January 3rd 2009

Wow, airplanes are pretty easy with children when you bring along two grandparents and one great aunt to watch your kids. Then you get to read, your husband gets to watch $5.99 tv (I thought that was a little ridiculous, but he didn't ask me...) and Dylan gets to hear 1 hour and 45 minutes of Aunt Jeanie's famous stories.

I am grateful for Aunt Jeanie's imagination and her creative stories.

My aunt tells the best stories. I remember them fondly from my childhood and I now get to hear her pass them down to my children. I am so happy she remembers so much from her upbringing, and what she doesn't tell from direct experience, she makes up! Dylan will listen to her stories (and take part in the storytelling..."No, they are going to the library, not the restaurant!") for hours. On our New Years Colorado trip, her and Jeanie spent much time telling stories together. I think I have an imagination until I see how these two work together to make up the most elaborate and creative story lines.

She got stories and I got peace.

Zoo Lessons

Day 2.
Friday, January 2nd, 2009

We are still in Colorado and we went to the Denver Zoo tonight for Zoo lights with the family. It was really cool where you get to walk around the zoo at night and they have millions of christmas lights up all around, many of them animal-themed. We had a great time until it started to get late and both girls (my sister's daughter Anya is Dylan's age) started melting down (for different reasons, but still - it was time to go).

I was in the bathroom with Dylan and after she went potty, she washed her hands and needed to dry them. The line was out the door, and we just were trying to get out of there fast. So I grabbed her a paper towel and semi-pushed her out the door, as she saw the automatic air dryer and decided she had to use that instead. So, she lost it and started yelling/half-crying as I dragged her out of the bathroom. All the other moms shot me daggers and I realized, "Yes, I'm THAT mom."

We got outside and I was just so annoyed. Annoyed at her for making a huge deal out of drying your hands. But that's just it - why couldn't she have just dried her hands with the air dryer instead of the paper towel? Who am I to force her to choose the less green option? Would it really have ruined our zoo schedule to wait 8 more seconds?

I am grateful for being able to admit my mistakes in my parenting.

She still got her special snack (I was going to withhold it until I realized what a stupid, unrelated consequence that was). And I got a good dose of humility.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year 2009

Day 1.

I'm starting this new blog to count my blessings as a mom of two young children. I know that I have so much to be grateful for, to thank God for. And sometimes, amidst the craziness of life with two demanding and wonderful little people, I forget these simple things.

So, here I am starting a new year's resolution to be grateful for something every day, related to my mothering journey.

We're in Colorado visiting my sister's family for New Years. My whole family is here, and so today:

I am grateful for grandparents.

I tried to get Dylan down for a nap for about an hour with no luck. Jason tried, no luck. My mom volunteered to go lay with her, and I sighed deep with relief. And it worked. My mouth dropped open as she exited the room. And now I have time to do things like prepare for dinner (I'm making Arroz con pollo, black beans and homemade corn tortillas for the fam for dinner), start my new blog, and just relax. Ahhh, grandparents.