Saturday, February 28, 2009


Day 59.

Today I spent the day with members of my sunday school class as we delved deeper into the idea of spiritual formation and becoming disciples of Jesus. It was a fruitful time of worship, reflection, discussion and prayer. All this talk on spiritual formation makes me think specifically about how our children are formed, and in relation, how I was formed as a child.

I am grateful to my parents who taught me what it means to live life as a Christian, not just call yourself a Christian.

Their modeling is what I hope to bring to my own family now. I wonder how much of my upbringing - relating specifically to spirituality and moral guidance - was intentional, and how much was natural - coming from a much higher place of influence. I am always blown away by this deep responsibility I have of raising my children, and want to strike the right balance of forming and letting them be formed.

I hope I am living a life following Jesus that is evident enough to my children (and others) that it becomes an automatic witness. While, at the same time, showing them that intentional spiritual practice is life-giving and transformative.

Above all, showing unconditional love, and recognizing the love of Christ is at this foundation.
Here is a passage from our day:

Ephesians 3:14-19
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Friday, February 27, 2009


Day 58.

I am grateful for field trips.

Today was a dreary, rainy/snowy, wintery day. It was in the 20's and I am just done with that weather. I wanted to be on a beach, but second to that, was the mall. We weren't planning on going to the mall today, and I can't honestly remember the last time I was in a mall...oh, I'm lied - it was when we took the kids to sit on Santa's lap (and the elves publicly scolded me for taking my own photos when there were signs posted). Regardless, the kids love a good carousel ride. The kids needed a good romp in the mall playground. And I needed some time away from my house where I didn't feel chores calling my name.

So, we headed down to Orland Square, got the kids hair cut, did the carousel, had lunch, and played at the playground. Topped off by a little window shopping (promise, not one dime spent), it was a wonderful day!

I am such an attentive mother when I don't have distractions - mainly my own home and all there is to be done there. Or, other times, my distractions are my wonderful friends, who I love talking to, but usually my doing so makes me a not-so-mindful mother. The phone, the computer (hello - did anyone notice I blog daily?!). Let's not think of any more.

But on field trips, I'm all theirs. My attention, my listening ears, my focus.

And then, I see gratitude as a frame of mind, not just a token moment of the day.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Wash, dry, fold, put away, repeat.

Day 57.

I had laundry to do today. Really, what day do I not have laundry to do? If I follow the flylady's lead, then I put in a load every morning after I empty my dishwasher... I got the dishes part down, but laundry is my ever-present nemesis. It piles up on bedroom floors, goes washed and not folded for days, and then folded, but not put away for another few.

When we remodeled our kitchen, we got a stackable washer and dryer. I really love these machines. I adore them, as much as is possible with something that does a job you hate. When I bought them there was a honeymoon period, and I genuinely looked forward to the high-tech chore of doing laundry. That was two weeks, tops.

Today, as I'm folding yet another load (in order for it to sit in a basket), Noah wanted to help. Dylan has helped fold wash clothes/napkins every once in awhile and it has actually worked out quite nicely. But, clothes are another story, and today, his "help" was throwing the clothes high in the air to land all over the family room floor. Even so,

I am grateful for clean laundry.

As I write this, I think of my lack of gratefulness for my high-efficiency washers. When I lived in Costa Rica for three months, on Study Service Term with Goshen College, I lived with a host family and would help with the laundry. They had a very low-tech (I think it was crank?) washing machine, and still did many items on a washboard. Everything was hung to dry. I could count the hours saved by my high-efficiency washer/dryer, but instead I usually loathe the task of laundry. Today, I am grateful.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fine, Fine, we're fine.

Day 56.

Noah is fine (I assume). He's acting normal and he has a red bruisey mark on his head, but doesn't seem to be acting in any way that would alert even me, the head worrier of momville.

I didn't post about this, but Noah's lead levels (through the finger prick test) were really really elevated on Friday at his 2-year old checkup. In the very scary range - 29 - of whatever measurement they use. So I had to take him back in for a blood-draw lead test. Poor guy - he got two vaccines that morning, a lead finger prick test, and then that afternoon a blood test! He was so mad.

But, the good news is that they finally just called me today and he's fine on the lead front too. His level was less than 5. It was a lab error, which I guess is pretty common. But how annoying to have to wait five days to find out for sure!

I am grateful for my healthy little boy.

Thank you God for walking me through this worrisome time and not letting me freak out like I usually do. I felt like you were holding my hand the whole way. It's nice to feel these little workings of the Spirit.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Day 55.

Noah fell on his head tonight, out of his crib (the rail was down). He told me..."I trying to jump out..."

I am grateful for my babies.

When you see him hit the floor head first, and then snap his neck backwards in process of his body flinging towards the ground, you get a major dose of perspective. And then you hug your little babies a little tighter, go back for one more kiss, and even give into an extraneous bedtime request.

Monday, February 23, 2009

I mean it!

Day 54.

I was just putting Noah and Dylan to bed and I was getting really frustrated. I wanted them in bed, lights out, closed door by 7:00. They were both exhausted and I was exhausted. But everything always takes longer when you're in a hurry, and annoyed.

Dylan and Noah were rolling around the bed instead of getting settled to get their jammies on. I convinced Dylan to cooperate, but Noah started jumping on the bed. I asked him once very firmly to stop - it was time to calm down for bed. And 10 seconds later he did it again. So, I raised my voice and said very sternly: "Noah, I mean it. No jumping." I was mad.

Dylan looked at me like, "whoa, she means business." But Noah? He cracked a smile and said in a whiney little voice: "I mean it! I mean it!"

I am grateful to be able to laugh at myself.

First Dylan laughed, then Noah laughed and said, "That funny mommy! I mean it!"
I tried to quickly think of something really sad to keep me from laughing. No luck. I couldn't help it and started giggling. We all ended up cuddling and giggling, and they both relaxed into my lap for stories.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Play is fun again

Day 53.

I don't know if it was my admitting my lack of enjoyment in pretend play or divine help that allowed me to revel in play the last few days. I have been able to sit and enjoy playtime to a level that has not happened for a long long time. I can play ponies with Dylan and actually have fun an not think of the five things I should be doing instead.

I think part of it might have a little to do with feeling like Dylan is getting so old lately, and kind of mourning the thought of her starting school. It's not happening tomorrow, but I'm just realizing that I'll see that day as a goodbye on many levels. So, I've been not taking little moments for granted these days. Trying to plan less, go less places, and just play together.

I am grateful for patience.

I'm sure tomorrow it won't be the same, so I won't increase my expectations. But instead, I'll be grateful and happy and enjoy every moment that Dylan and Noah and I have together. And hope this patience-kick lasts a little while longer...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Poetry Reading

Day 52.

Tonight for bedtime stories, Noah chose a poetry book. This book is one that my aunt Jeanie gave us and it is fabulous - it is totally perfect for young children, has many famous authors as the poets, and the illustrations are beyond charming.

I let them pick out a few poems each to read, and then for the finale, I chose one that I know they love and assumed they forgot about (we haven't read it in at least a month, probably more). It was Rickety Train Ride by Tony Mitton. I started reading and Dylan interrupted..."No no no Mommy! I want to read it!"

I am grateful for poetry.

She started over and recited the whole thing from memory. I was blown away. Children connect with poetry in a really amazing way, and it really made me want to read them more of it, and try to memorize some on my own so I can recite them throughout the day. So fun.

Rickety Train Ride by Tony Mitton

I'm taking the train to Ricketywick.
Clickety clickety clack.
I'm sat in my seat.
With a sandwich to eat.
As I travel the trickety track.

It's an ever so rickety trickety train,
And I honestly thickety think.
That before it arrives
At the end of the line
It will tip up my drippety drink.


Day 51.

Friday, February 21, 2009

Having a 3, almost 4 year old is really helping me think about my own feelings. Dylan, at this age, is really working through her own emotions. She feels very angry sometimes, and is figuring out the appropriate way to express that anger. It's a very fascinating (sometimes worrisome) thing to watch your own child learn to express their strong feelings. Most often lately, it's a guttural yell or cry or something that comes from her mouth. It's so surprising, and often embarrassing if we are in public. I had been saying, "You can be angry, but you can't yell like that."

But then my Bible Study was studying "praying our anger" yesterday (with Psalm 137), and it was so helpful to me to remember that anger is an OK thing to express. Of course it's OK to express it, I know that, and I express it most every day. Just this morning I shattered the lid to my biggest and most-used saucepan and skillet. It was also doubling as my crockpot lid, cause I broke that one already too. I was so so angry. I yelled, I cried out, and I stewed around the kitchen in anger.

I am grateful for feelings.

I saw my feelings in a new light and this helped me understand Dylan's emotional expressions. Why is it OK to express my own anger and not let Dylan cry out? She's not hitting anyone, she's not hurting anyone, she's just deeply feeling her anger and frustration. So, I'm going to try to not be a stifler of emotions. And I'm really going to try to not worry so much what others think of me when I'm in public and she gets angry. No, it's not OK to yell AT me in anger (anywhere), but it is OK to cry out/grunt/get frustrated. There is a difference. Yes, we can talk through our emotions and that is wonderful and all. But, sometimes, talking is not enough...for Dylan or for me.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

No Imagination

Day 50.

I talked to my mom on the phone today and asked her a question that's been on my mind a lot. How much did she play with me when I was little - and did she ever feel like it wasn't enough? I don't know what answer I was looking for - maybe partly I wanted to hear that she didn't play with me much, and I obviously am no worse for wear.

I just don't ever feel like I play with my kids enough. There is so much to do, to clean, to cook, to work on. Mix in fun outings, enjoyable classes for the kids, and obligatory errands and I just don't find much left! So when Dylan comes to me for the fifth time that hour and asks, "Mommy, will you play with me?" I feel horrendous guilt. So, today

I am grateful for my children being very self-directed.

It's not that I don't want to play with them. I LOVE being with my kids. I would do countless art projects with them, read them unlimited books, or do puzzle after puzzle for hours. But it's the pretend play that makes me crazy. I want to be good at it, I really really do. And I feel like I'm a creative person in general. But when I play Book Party, or Pony Treasure Hunt, or Mommy and Dear (yes, that is the favorite that I've mentioned several times), I just lose all my imagination - or was it ever there to begin with? And on top of that, I sit there and think of all the other things I should be doing instead of THAT. Isn't that horrible? I really do want to enjoy it - but I just don't. I enjoy hearing Dylan's stories, watching her act them out, and would gladly be the audience to this play at any moment. But when I have to be the leader (which is always what happens when we pretend play), I shut down.

So, today when I had a lot of work to do to prepare to teach my new class tonight, they were wonderful. I did get a few "Mommy play with me!" voices ringing through the house, but for the most part, we did it, and I didn't feel too guilty.

My mom did tell me that she felt the same guilt - like it was never enough - and that was comforting. But she also said I didn't pretend play much (HELLO! - maybe that's why I'm not good at it 25 years later!!) - I did more activity-based play. I read books, built with blocks, did art projects, did puzzles, etc. Wow, all the things I still love to do! Well at least that makes sense.

Any ideas for how to stimulate my imagination so I can become a better pretend player?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

This is why you have more kids...

Day 49.

I got to talk on the phone with my sister today, and we haven't had that kind of chat in a few days. You know, one where there is not anything too important to share, but we have plenty to say nonetheless. I love these conversations with her. Although she's 1000 miles away by car, she's only 10 numbers away by phone.

I am grateful for my sister.

Having her in my life in the capacity that I do, makes me realize she is the greatest gift my parents ever gave me. Our (attempt at) daily talks make me so grateful for our childhood together, and now our adult years together, going through this mothering thing together. It's an incredible thing to raise your children parallel to your own sister raising hers. You get to talk about how you were both brought up, and weigh in on what we should do the same/different. It's fun times, and don't worry, mom and dad - usually we're trying to figure out how we can be like you. :)

Thank you, Lara, for the person that you are. The mother that you are. The incredible friend you are to me. I am extremely blessed and thank God for our past, our present, and our future together, raising our children as best we can.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Butterfly in the breeze

Day 48.

We have officially started a project on butterflies in our house. Dylan did a pre-draw today and we checked out about 12 books on butterflies at the library last week (during failed storytime). Today we made a web of what we know about butterflies, and wrote down some questions we wanted to get answered. Then we headed to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum for some good butterfly fun.

I am grateful for butterflies.

What a wonderful, amazing site to walk into the Butterfly Haven to 1200 butterflies (more than 75 species) in a 2700 square-foot greenhouse. INCREDIBLE. It stopped us all in our tracks. We just walked in the door and stood there, watching as butterflies flew all around us!

Butterflies are fabulous, delicate insects. I learned so much from Roberto, the butterfly expert there in the haven. i.e. Butterflies eat an all liquid diet, slurping liquid through their straw-like mouth (now don't you feel enlightened?) We brought our list of questions and asked him all we wanted to know. It was great - he was like a walking encyclopedia on butterflies! Dylan loved asking him questions and Noah even got into it after awhile - although he would try to ask questions we had already asked. :) Thanks, Roberto.

One butterfly even landed on Noah's shoulder! But, Noah freaked slightly (probably cause I freaked a bit - in a good way) and Dylan didn't get to see it. I didn't get the camera in time... Here are Noah and Dylan making observations.

And here is the fun butterfly bench we got to sit on before we left the museum...

Monday, February 16, 2009


Day 47.

This morning Jason and I did a few errands in the suburbs, so we left the kids with Jason's mom for a couple of hours. It was a nice little outing for just the two of us, even if we didn't really accomplish much - striking out on most of our attempts.

When we were leaving, I called the kids to come say goodbye to us. It was hard to tear them away from their play time with grandma, but eventually I heard Noah come running from the other room. I was crouching down, and so he ran to me with arms wide open and a big smile. He wrapped his little arms as far as he could around me and said, "Good bye mommy!"

I am grateful for little voices.

I know I hear them talk all day long, and I often get annoyed with the incessant questions, comments and diversions they provide...all day long. But when a little sentence out of a just-two-year old little boy is uttered sweetly in my ear, it is simply divine. I want to savor that voice, that sentence, that exact moment and how those words made me feel...forever.

I imagine that I'll always remember that voice, that his little voice at two will be ringing in my ears in ten years, in twenty, maybe even forty. But then I realize that I don't even remember Dylan's voice at two! She talks so grown-up now...and for that little voice of hers, I mourn. For that reason, I'll listen a little closer, savor their words a little longer, and try, REALLY try - to not get annoyed tomorrow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Body love

Day 46.

I have had a mediocre day of health and energy. A rough start this morning, and although I am exhausted right now and ready for bed (anticipating a short post), I did feel good for most of the afternoon.

And while I know I struggle with my own health issues, and that makes it harder to take care of my children, harder to be a nice person, and just harder in general - life is good. And for that,

I am grateful for my body, and the amazing things it does for me.

We only get one body in our lifetime, and it's pretty incredible the things we do to destroy it ourselves. So, thank you body, for holding up for me so far. For letting me stuff the occasional movie theater butter popcorn or red dye #40 in you - and not shutting down - for this I am grateful.

I guess this where the whole "my body is a temple" does make a lot of sense on many different levels. Today, I thank God for fearfully and wonderfully making our bodies.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Take Notice

Day 45.

This morning I took Noah to the grocery store with me after his Lil' Kickers soccer class. It was so rare to go with just him and not have two bodies to entertain while simultaneously trying to conquer my shopping list. I was reminded of the simplicity of life with one child.

What did I notice? I noticed the noticing. All the people taking a moment to smile, to say a kind word, to take a deep breath and enjoy my little boy. They all wanted to catch whatever he "had." He was infectious.

I am grateful for noticing.

Only a little more than a week beyond my post office debacle and I am able to see how much more I encounter kindness than malice. My aunt Jeanie always tells me when she's with us - how much Noah gets noticed. How much people smile at him. How he brightens strangers' days just being who he is. In my mommy mode, I don't pay attention.

Comparatively, my post office incident, is a blip in a good life of good people. Good people noticing us, and us now noticing them.

Friday, February 13, 2009


Day 44.

We went downtown this morning to Preschool Storytime at Harold Washington Library. We took the 55 bus, transferred to the red line train and made it there in just under an hour. It was an adventure and the kids would have been happy not to even go to the library - they love riding public transportation.

So, once we got there (with no stroller I might add), we went to the Children's Program room inside the Thomas Hughes Children's Library. I was excited - I mean, it had to be good, right? Afterall, it's the huge, beautiful, main branch of the library in the city.

Wrong. I expected so much more. The librarian was enthusiastic, but acted like she was on stage, not talking to a bunch of 2-5 year olds. She couldn't sing, she chose books that were way too old (and uninteresting) for them to follow along, and she acted like she didn't really like kids all that much. Hmmm...why are you a children's librarian? Besides making me want to study library science, this experience taught me something else.

I am grateful to be able to roll with the punches.

Storytime was the reason we took this hour-long trip downtown. It was supposed to be great. But not only did I not find enjoyment, neither did my kids. Dylan was mildly listening, but more excited about getting a drink of water and picking off a hangnail. Noah stayed still for about 4 minutes before he couldn't help but run back and forth from one side of the room to the other. Too structured. And again, too uninteresting.

So, we bailed. We stayed for twenty minutes and I could tell this was not working. So, instead of pushing through and staying for what we came for - we made our own fun. We left storytime and went to find more interesting books to read. We browsed the aisles, looked for our favorite authors, and decided it was time to study butterflies. So then we found the non-fiction section on butterflies and filled our bag with butterfly books so we could read and observe at home.

It turned out to be a wonderful morning, topped off by some pad thai and panang curry at My Thai before heading home. Sometimes, I can get so stressed trying to make things perfect or enjoyable for my kids. But by letting go, and letting my children take the lead, we had way more fun.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Noah Quinn Rhodes • 1:53am, Feb 12, 2007

Day 43.

Dear Noah,

Today you turned two. On one hand, it's obvious. You seem like a two-year-old in many ways - your speech, your love of independence, your running away from me at any moment in public. But in most ways, to me - your forever-adoring-you mother - you are still my baby.

I still remember every minute of your birth day two years ago. That day was one of great joy, great sadness, and great confusion. We all made it through that day because God gave us the strength. Sending you into surgery the day after your birth was the hardest thing I have ever done as a parent. My love for you that day was infinite, just as it is today, two years later.

Two years ago I had no idea what the future held for you. And in all reality, I still don't. All I can do is trust God to stay close to you in this precious life. And hope you learn to know Him personally, so you can find the same comfort that your dad and I did in those early hours of your life on earth.

You are loved little man more than you will ever realize. You have a supportive crowd of people that all rejoice when they see your smiling healthy face, catch your full-body run, or hear your infectious giggle. You will never need to be lonely.

Noah, I can't wait for every day spent with you. Thank you for forgiving me, for loving me, for letting my not-so-perfect parenting slide. Thank you for your perfect little utterances "I love you sky and back mommy. Heaven and back." The feeling is mutual.

When I think back to two years ago today, most of all - I am grateful.

Love, Mommy

I am grateful for my miracle boy, Noah Quinn.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Day 42.


When I woke up this morning, I wanted to be anywhere but in my own shoes (bare feet). I didn't want to bring raring-to-go-children into my bed at 5am. I didn't want to find breakfast for my son who wakes me up every morning with "Mommy, I hungeey!!" I didn't want to play "mommy and dear" with Dylan in the first ten minutes after getting out of bed. I didn't want to even "make" orange juice for anyone - that involved washing the pitcher and...effort. For some reason, I woke up resentful, and I felt like I a servant, not a member of the family.

I don't remember the moment I turned my focus from annoyance to blessings. Maybe it was coloring Valentine's cards together with the kids after breakfast (what is it about coloring that I find so soothing...). Maybe it was the anticipation of Jason being home five days in a row after today (thank you Lincoln's Birthday, teacher comp day and President's Day!). Maybe it was art school - I love that place. Maybe it was God's grace.

I am grateful for a day of balance, love and all-day gratitude.

I felt the balance today. The kids were happy and I was happy. We did art projects and I kept my house relatively clean. I did some laundry and I played some dollhouse. We had friends over and everyone played so nicely together. No real battles.
It was even raining, dreary and dark outside all day. But in our home, light was abundant.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

No Jacket Needed

Day 41.

What a day. The car read 63 degrees outside. I had completely forgotten what it was like to go to the park. And today, I got to remember.

I am grateful for this tease of spring.

I know it's not lasting. I know it will probably snow again by the weekend. But today I saw a beautiful, refreshing, amazing glimpse of spring. And when you have two stir-crazy kids and one sun-denied mom, a sunny park is just the prescription.

Here's a picture of Dylan and Noah running down the hill next to the playground. They did this multiple times until Noah fell down for the fifth time and decided he didn't like muddy grass on his hands. No, he's not that clumsy. They were going down holding hands - and Dylan just has a bigger stride, so she kept pulling him down on accident.

Then, after Jason got home, we went out to the Point (the Lake Michigan shore by our house - Promintory Point is the name of the park there). They were both so excited to "Sit and Watch the Lake!" Dylan did documentary-style photography the whole way there - taking pictures of everything from her own shoes to the sewer grates to "mommy's chiropracter!" to closeups of Jason's head (repeatedly). We plan to make a book entitled, My Walk to the Lake. Look for that bestseller at your local Borders this fall.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Taught myself a lesson.

Day 40.

As a parent, you often say things that are really dumb, come from nowhere and you wish you could take them back almost immediately. Luckily, there are refreshing breaks from this bumbling mess.

I am grateful for rare phrases of genius that come from my mouth!

Tonight Dylan fell off her chair at dinner, and it was a rough landing. She needed some mommy cuddles, and I could tell she was really holding back tears. I told her it was OK to cry, that sometimes it feels good to cry. I said it a couple of times, and so she let out a few whimpers, and then wanted to know: What happens when I cry?

Me: Tears roll down your cheeks.
Her: What else?
Me: Your eyes get squinty and you look sad.
Her: What else?
Me: You make crying noises?
Her: What else?
Me: I don't know...what do you think happens?
Her: You make more room for joy.
Me: You make more room for joy?
Her: Yeah, you make more room for joy in your body.

... pause ...

Me: Who told you that?
Her: You!

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Day 39.

We've been reading a lot of The Rhyme Bible. I think it's an awesome first bible for toddlers/preschoolers and the pictures are fun and not as cliche as some children's bibles (yes, still long-haired white Jesus, but it is better than most...).

I am grateful for The Rhyme Bible.

Dylan gets consumed with certain stories. It used to be "The Sick Girl" - about the girl who dies and Jesus touches her and raises her from the dead. Lately, Dylan's really interested in death in general. Not in a scared way, but just in a really fascinated way. So, now we've moved on to "The Day Jesus Died" which is the crucifixion story (obviously). She is so interested in the image of him on the cross. And lately, she asked me how he was so brave? It was a really good question, and helped me think about where Jesus got his strength, and where we get ours.

Today Dylan was playing in the playroom with the dollhouse by herself while Noah napped and I was writing some letters. She came over to tell me a little tidbit of the story she was acting out and at one point said (with eyes wide and total intensity), "I was SO brave! ... As brave as JESUS!!!"

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A task for a balmy day

Day 38.

This winter has been something. I do not remember people talking about the cold weather this much any other year of my adult life. It has been snowy, cold, windy and just plain awful for...well...all of December and January. It feels like we've faced ALL of winter already, and we're still forty-one days from the first day of spring. Arrrrgghh.

But today, we were able to take a deep breath and hang in there. It actually read 61 degrees on my car thermometer. Wow. And what is the number one thing a city mom with no parking space/garage wants to do when she has a day FINALLY above freezing?

I am grateful I got to clean out my pit of a car.

My car is like my second home. Only the much messier, disgusting, WT home I would never want to live in. It had gathered layers and layers of crap on the floor, on the seats, in the cup holders, and every other nook and cranny possible. It was downright embarrassing to have even my own husband ride with me. So, today I could stand outside and dig until I finally saw the glorious sight of car mats - flooded with cheerios and raisins - but car mats just the same. After a $2.95 trip to the gas station to vacuum out the snacks ($1.25 for the vacuum power, $1.70 for the Diet Coke I needed to get the job done)...I am oh so ready for guests.

Does anyone need a ride?

Friday, February 6, 2009


Day 37.

My husband is kindly waiting for me to blog so we can watch a movie. So, I'll make this short (after yesterday's entry, I am due for a day of brevity).

I went in for a CT scan this evening for my neck/thyroid issues. So, I was sitting in my hospital gown watching NBC Nightly News for awhile in three different waiting rooms (it's amazing how they herd you around like cattle in a hospital setting...), and it the newscast tonight was all about the depressing economy, the 600,000 more jobs lost in January, individual states' financial crises, etc. What a downer. But then I thought about our current financial situation, and how much stress I usually have over it - living in the city on one teacher's salary.

I am so grateful my husband has a stable job.

Really, what a blessing to know he will get a paycheck each month. Many people around the world (not just America) do not have that luxury. So, for that I am truly, truly grateful today.

I'm being beckoned to the movie...

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Forgive and Forget

I am furious. But a really sad form of furious. I just got into a verbal altercation at the post office with one of their employees. It was hurtful, stunning and stabbed me in my core more than anything that has happened to me in the recent past. And while I am in no way grateful for this experience, I am grateful for this ability to reflect, and...

I am grateful that God gives us the gift of forgiveness - for ourselves, and today - for others.

We went into the small branch post office in our neighborhood to mail two packages - one that I had ready to go and one I had to buy a padded envelope for and write the address on. We were the only ones in the post office. While I was addressing the one envelope, Dylan and Noah climbed up onto the bench behind me. There were some interesting pictures hanging there - just out of sitting reach - and they wanted to get a closer look. So, they got up on their knees and looked. I suddenly hear an abrupt: "Ehhhh! You cannot stand on there. You WILL fall." It was rude, but they listened, and I just decided to let it slide.

So, I turn around to go back to my addressing. I needed 20 seconds, max. I glance back and Noah is starting to stand - so I tell him "Noah, bum or knees, we can't stand on there." Post office woman: "Mam, they cannot stand on there! Mam! Mam!" (I'm talking to him at the same time - and he is listening - but it's hard with her yelling at me.) Another postal employee comes in the door and is watching what is happening. She heads toward the back as this continues. The first continues to yell as I take a moment to encourage him to sit (it took all of 7 seconds probably?) - and so I stop what I'm doing and say to her - "Look - I'm talking to him right now - can you give me a chance?"

The second employee - she now says to the first (very loudly, although not intended for me) - "Yeah, she's gonna let them do that and then fall and sue the post office."


So I say - "You know what - thanks, but I got it under control - and no, I won't be suing the post office."

So she says - again to the other employee - NOT to me: "I hate how these white people raise their kids...." and says a few other things which I'm probably grateful that I couldn't hear.

I'm stunned. And pissed. And hurt. Why is she bringing race into this? This woman wasn't even in the conversation to begin with and it had nothing to do with RACE!!

So I say loudly (she had gone to the back in the meantime) - "What did you say, mam?"

She comes out - "I wasn't talkin to you."

Me: "Fine, but you were talking about me, so why don't you say it to my face" (yes, I'm in 7th grade).

Her: "Look - I'm 45 years old - I don't have to tell you anything."

Ok, now we have race AND age in the mix - lovely.

Me (with outward confidence): "You know, I'm just trying to do the best I can here. That's fine if you don't like it - but I'm proud of the way I parent."

And I heard nothing but ridicule and laughter.

So then I had to pay for my packages, try not to cry, yell, go crazy and walk out like nothing was wrong so my kids wouldn't ask me to explain what just happened - see, somehow they managed to miss the whole exchange. And so, I guess I'm grateful for that.

Post office lady #2 - I forgive you for hurting my feelings.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Searching for balance

Day 35.

Today was a good day. Nothing overwhelming fabulous happened. Nothing overwhelming tragic happened, but everything in between and everything manageable. Lately, I'm trying to find balance at home. Balance of enough housecleaning, enough playing with my kids, enough cooking, enough laundry, enough picking up all the crap that gets distributed throughout the house on an hourly basis. So, today was pretty balanced in all of those areas.

I am grateful for relative balance.

But even so, I am constantly questioning myself - feeling like I didn't give ENOUGH time to anything - especially the kids (even though I'm talking to them, playing with them, managing them ALL DAY LONG). I think I'm too much of a multi-tasker. I know I have to be with all that has to be accomplished, but still. This evening I noticed Dylan glancing back several times as she rode her push bike down the hall to see if I was still watching. I guess she is used to me saying, "Ok, I'll watch" and then trying to do fifteen other things WHILE I'm watching something she's doing. That's the kind of thing that makes me feel terrible. But I just have such a hard time just BEING and listening and watching and enjoying anything if I can possibly do two (or three) other things at once.

Any ideas on how I can better manage my time and tasks?
For now, I'm still grateful for the balance I did find today.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Day 34.

Background information: Dylan and Noah were trying to play together in the teepee in their room. Dylan shut both doors to the bedroom and Noah didn't like that, so he started crying and I had to go rescue him.

Noah: I don't want to play wif Dylan wight now.
Dylan: (Overly dramatic sad face)
Me (casually): Oh, it looks like Dylan is sad.
(Dylan goes over to the library and pouts in a chair.)
Noah: Cuddle you Dylan.

Noah crawls into Dylan's lap, and Dylan shyly smiles...I grab the camera while they cuddle.

I am grateful for this window of compassion in my children.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Family Babysitters

Day 33.

I had a doctor's appointment this morning with a new endocrinologist...trying to figure out if I have a thyroid disorder...or not. That's not the point of my post.

My mother-in-law, Karen, came over to watch the kids while I took the drive north to the Northwestern Medical Campus.

I am grateful to have family close enough to babysit for us.

Wow, what a blessing to have your mom-in-law come to your house and just do her thing with the kids for three and a half hours. I don't have to give instructions. Don't have to set out food to eat for lunch. Don't have to give emergency numbers.

And the kids have the time of their lives. I don't sit at the appointment worrying about if they are being attended to. They just are. And, they are being loved at the same time.

Thanks, Karen, for driving into the city.

One month down.

Day 32.

Sunday, February 1, 2009.

I made it through one month!

And for that,

I am grateful that I have had the opportunities to make this blog happen.

I am being very blessed by this blog. I have really felt the Spirit moving in my life more in the last 32 days than I have in a long time. Nothing dramatic, but just these subtle, wonderful reminders that I'm not alone.

One of my Bible Study friends just mentioned my blog on her blog, and I am so thankful, because it helped me to see my "experiment" here with this blog in a new light. As she noted, I have chosen the word GRATITUDE for my word of 2009. And in reality, it is becoming my word.

Thanks to my husband, who knows my blogging now takes priority first thing after the kids go to bed...then I'm yours...:)