Thursday, April 30, 2009


Day 120.

We had Bible Study this morning, and after I picked Dylan up from her class, one of her teachers took me aside to tell me Dylan has been extra quiet the past few sessions. She just wanted me to know, and was wondering if anything was going on that might have made her act differently. I have to admit, I was quick to get defensive. My momma bear instincts came out and I started to worry about her. She's just standing by herself a lot - what does that mean? Why IS she doing that? She's never shy with why other kids?

I am grateful for open conversation with my children.

I knew I needed to talk to Dylan about her being so quiet in Bible Study, but I didn't want to make her more apprehensive to participate by drawing attention to it. So, I tiptoed into the subject over the lunch hour. We talked casually about why she might be acting that way - did she like Bible Study (yes, she said she did). "I'm just really shy," she told me. And this was what I suspected. Afterall, she's pretty shy in other situations like that - around peers without me around. And so it was good to talk through. She eventually told me, "Sometimes I'm not shy, but right now I just want to be." I'm not sure what that means, or really why the shyness is happening to begin with. But, I am glad we can talk so openly about these things. It hit me - I hope to have many more of these kind of conversations with her throughout the coming years. Her letting me in to why she isn't thriving in a certain situation. I just hope she continues to see me as a safe place for her feelings.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

What am I waiting for?

Day 119.

I know I've mentioned's hard for me to live in the present. I'm a person who looks forward to things, who longs for vacations, who anticipates a glass of wine, who gets a thrill from a date night yet to come. I'm a planner. I often look forward to events with my children and enjoy the "looking forward to" more than I enjoy the event itself. Wow - now that I realize that, that's totally sad.

But, now that I realize that, I can start to chip away and do something about it. And the phrase that kept coming to me today is the title of this day's post. Really - what exactly am I waiting FOR? Is life just about those perfectly planned "high" moments where you are visiting family in Colorado, at an expensive Children's Museum, or on a needed date night? Well, life is about these moments - they are fun. But it's not all their is. My days and hours and minutes consist much more of mundane ordinary stuff. And why can't I enjoy that part too? What am I waiting for?

I am grateful to enjoy the mundane.

I love my children endlessly. But today, I found myself waiting for them to go to bed. It wasn't a bad day, and they weren't driving me any more nuts than usual. So, why was I so excited for them to go to bed? It really hit me hard that them going to bed was the part of my day I was most looking forward to. Why? I CHOOSE to stay home and be a mom. I love it and know it's the best job in the entire world. I despair every time I think of them going to kindergarten (even preschool) and losing them away from home. So, why am I thinking this way? I know we all have days...but I didn't even think this WAS one of "those days."

It's Wednesday - and Jason's long day - with grad school taking him away from home from 7am-10pm. So, I think it's about being needed from sun up to sun down with no break. Yes, I did have about 45 minutes this afternoon during quiet time (which I used to nap myself). But, I just looked so much forward to having two hours of Hilary time tonight - where no one - not even Jason - could affect my plans. I could watch what I wanted on tv - or not even have it on at all. I could sit on the computer for two hours, and not feel guilty. And sometimes, I guess, you just need to be selfish.

So, I'm trying. Trying to remember that this is IT. These are the only precious days I have with my wonderful, amazing, charming children. And to not sit around waiting for the best yet to come. It's HERE. NOW.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Free play!

Day 118.

I am grateful for my kids to play freely in their own house.

We had a nice playdate at our house with friends this morning. And I usually am cringing, waiting, and fearing that my neighbors will call and tell us we are being too loud. We don't have the best track record with them, and well, kids will be kids.

Today, I knew the neighbors were gone. Ahhh...I could relax. I wasn't constantly thinking with every jump, gallop or spontaneous dance move - that they would call. It was so freeing.

And so we played "Run the Bases!" and jumped around and had a mini dance party.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Chicago Public Library

Day 117.

Props to the library-inventors. In 1833, the first tax-supported library in the country opened at Peterborough, N.H. And the rest is literally, history.

I am grateful for libraries.

Each time I go (and we go often - often enough to get a million books rotating through our house, but not often enough to avoid late fines most of the time), I experience something new. I find a new section of books that I didn't know were classified together. I find a new children's author that I hadn't yet been exposed to. I find another librarian that is sadly not interested in people, or...more specifically...children.

I always walk home from the library feeling good about my country, my city, and the world. I feel grateful for the free entertainment that comes from library. Ok, so the library storytime isn't fantastic, but heck, it's free. And they really are TRYING. So, I leave with a heap of damaged books, full of germs from others' houses (is it normal that I think about how many germs must be on library books when they are sitting amongst my sheets?), and am happy. Because that was an outing I just did sans car, sans cash, and sans meltdown.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sharing Time

Day 116.

Today at church we started a Practicing Faith series, and the first topic was testimony. In the sermon, Pastor Todd talked about how sometimes as individuals we think our own testimony isn't good enough, mountain-top enough, or worthy to share. It got me thinking about my own "testimony" - I don't really think of it like that usually. When I think of that word I think of some major evangelical preacher giving altar-calls and wanting to "hear your testimony!" (close your eyes and picture a booming evangelical preacher-man voice, and then questionable people speaking in tongues or something) But see, my testimony doesn't include a major conversion experience, extreme mountain-top highs and deep valley lows. It could even be described as boring. For me, my testimony is a spiritual journey.

I am grateful for my testimony.

My testimony involves being faithful, trying to live a good Christian life, to be a good sister, daughter, wife, mother, and friend. It involves sinning, repenting, and praying. My testimony involves my church, my community, and my family. It involves doubts - sometimes major, but it also involves hope, the Holy Spirit, and God never giving up on me.

And that, is good enough.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Freedom Sleep

Day 115.

The kids are waking up a lot lately. A LOT. Maybe it's the bad dreams at night (Dylan). Maybe it's the covers coming off and inability to put them back on themselves (Noah). Maybe it's just a phase. Gosh, I hope it's just a phase. But, I am literally up three, four, five, maybe even six times a night - someone calling out for "Mommy!" and me going in there, putting covers back on, reassuring, giving kisses. It's a precious, wonderful thing to do for your children...but really...when you're tired, as you are if you do this every single night...well then it's not so precious. It's just annoying and tiring and when they wake up ready-to-go at 6am...well you just can't be happy to see them.

I am grateful for my "night off."

Once a week, Saturday night, I get to have the night off. Jason wakes up with the kids, reassures them, and gets them back to sleep. And even more importantly, he gets up with them at 6am, while I sleep in (to 7:30am - remember when sleeping in was 9-10am?). It is the night/morning I look forward to all week. I plan for it, long for it, and literally bathe myself in this night when it comes. Every minute is luxury.

Thank you baby, for letting me have this one night off. I know it's not fun (BELIEVE ME, I know it's not fun). But I need it more than anything else to recharge my maternal batteries. It reminds me that someday, I will sleep through the night and BEG my children to wake up and go to school. But for now, it's one night of freedom.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Hot day in April

Day 114.

I am grateful for sweat.

We went to the Morton Arboretum today - it was Arbor Day and so it was free to all! WOW - these economic times (shoot - I was trying to stay away from those three words in this blog...) really bring people out of the woodwork for anything that is free. My goodness.

I should have learned my lesson on Wednesday when I took the kids to the Museum of Science and Industry for Earth day - also a free day. That was so crowded it was ridiculous - and not even worth me mentioning more details. Today, it was incredibly crowded, as in I waited in a line of cars for 25 minutes to get INTO the parking lots. But, once you are "in" - you have the wide open spaces of the Arboretum to explore. We spent the first hour in The Children's Garden (which was the most packed area), but then we went out into the grassy loveliness and lounged under huge sprawling pines and weeping willows, enjoying the incredibly hot weather.

And we sweat. Ahhhh...summer (Yes, I know it isn't summer, but it felt like it).

At one point, Dylan stuck her head under a water pump. She really is a warm-blooded kid. It was FINALLY 80 degrees and we were wearing SHORTS! And what did Dylan minute after we got out of the car:
Dylan: I'm hot.
Me: Yeah, it's like summer, isn't it great?
Dylan: I don't like summer.
Seriously, Dylan - it was 35 degrees two days ago. Are you really complaining right now?

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Day 113.

I watched my friends' daughter today for six hours, so her mom could go to work (her regular nanny needed the day off). Dylan and Noah were ecstatic about Lena...thrilled beyond belief about her existence and how cute she was. And they were sooo, sooo good with her.

I am grateful for watching my kids be kind to other kids.

I go back and forth about wanting another baby. I really do think there is one more family member yet to make his/her some point. But, sometimes I wonder if our family should be complete.

But then I have this wonderful day with three incredible children, playing with them, taking them to the park, eating lunch with them - and it's just so joy-filled. We had a wonderful time with little Lena - and she is an incredible little girl.

Lena has a special place in my heart - she was my first "Bradley baby." I teach Bradley childbirth classes, and her parents were the first couple I ever taught classes to - two years ago! So, she'll be two this coming September - and I was even there for her birth, as her parents' doula. It still is one of the most incredible days of my life!

Dylan was obsessed (and I say this in a completely positive form of the word) with Lena. She wanted to be near her at all times - helping her, hugging her, playing with her, talking to her, asking her, "Can you say Lena? Can you say Dylan?" It was very sweet. A couple of hugs got a little lingering, and Lena is definitely her own woman, so I had to remind Dylan to give Lena her space (funny that I had to remind Dylan - QUEEN of "give me some space" of this). But really, she was incredibly good with her. She even told me - "Momma, Lena is the first person that I've ever LOVED that isn't even in our family!"

I do wonder though, would she be equally as infatuated with a little brother? Not so sure...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I need you God...

Day 112.

I feel like a lot is going on right now in our lives. It just seems like my mind is juggling a lot of things. We are working through an intense process of church discernment (in church - I am in a leadership position right now - which is why it is particularly hard). Noah's health has been something to contemplate the past few weeks. We've decided to stay here for the next two years and not look for jobs - so I'm getting my brain settled on city life for two more years. There are ongoing extended family issues (who doesn't have those, right?). And today, especially, preschool is on the mind. I'm just feeling so frustrated with the upcoming cost of preschool. I LOVE K.A.M., but the cost is daunting to me, and the public school girl in me cannot help but want to support the Chicago Public Schools...but really send my kids to taking it another step!

So, I know life is relatively great. I have many many blessings and afterall, I'm grateful for so much goodness in my life. I see it all, with help from these daily entries. BUT, the past week or two, I'm still feeling heavy. Heavy with burden I guess, and that I cannot be grateful for.

I am grateful for prayer.

I have to admit I have had a sort of drought in my prayer life for quite awhile. I just couldn't feel as close to God as I desired during prayer. And so, it left me feeling more distant from God, and not feeling like I know him on a personal level.

Along with this heavy burden, has come a closeness in prayer that I have not experienced for some time. I have cried out to God more and more, and I have felt God's presence and comfort in a wonderful way.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

At ease

Day 111.

We had an important doctor's appointment for Noah today at Children's Memorial Hospital.* Without going into details, we got some good information about Noah's more long term prognosis. It was really helpful, and while the details weren't necessarily "comforting," having more knowledge about all we're dealing with WAS comforting. I'm just a person who needs to know as much as possible about what I'm going to experience in the future.

I am grateful for our urologist.

He is the perfect children's doctor. He's appropriate with both parents and kids. He tells you just the right amount of information at the right time - he doesn't overload you with stats and future possibilities before you need to hear them. He makes you feel comfortable, but not too comfortable. He gives us hope, but keeps us grounded in the realities. And most importantly, he's the BEST of the best at what he does, and I have literally trusted him with my son's life on several occasions.

*Noah was born with bladder exstrophy

Monday, April 20, 2009


Day 110.

Today during naptime, Dylan couldn't manage to stay in her room for quiet time. This is an ongoing dilemma in our house because I can't figure out how to "force" her to have quiet time, while keeping her quiet enough (i.e. no crazy meltdowns in defiance of quiet time) to not wake Noah up. I find something that works beautifully, and then it just doesn't anymore one day. So, I have to keep switching it up.

So, today I had them both in the same room, but Noah wasn't sleeping. I finally gave them both books, and gave up on sleeping...just hoped for some down time for mommy. So, I left their room and went into the family room to update some pictures on my other blog that I have neglected the past month.

10 minutes later, Dylan emerged, and Noah had apparently fallen asleep! Sweet success in regards to him, but now I had to figure out what I needed from her. I didn't get enough time to relax, I just didn't feel ready to deal with more constant demands. So, I had her play in the playroom by herself for awhile. That lasted about five minutes, before she emerged again, and wanted to sit with me on the couch while I updated my blogs. I let her, and the pestering began.

First, she tried to type with me. can imagine how that went. Then she started picking at my hands. Poking them, lightly pushing them - anything to disrupt my typing. After much discussion about her interrupting my work, I told her calmly, if you can let me finish what I'm doing, I'll let you play a computer game after I'm done. I guess it's bribery, but in a way it was a natural consequence too - she wanted to use the computer - that's why she was bothering me. So, I decided I'd let her have her time if she let me have mine. She was thrilled, but she couldn't let up on the pestering.

Not even one minute later she had done something deliberately annoying to mess up what I was working on, and I was about to lose it. I gave her "one more chance" to stop - before the computer game would not be an option. And you can probably guess that she did not stop.

So, I sadly told her the prognosis, and the meltdown ensued. The one hour meltdown that ended up waking up her brother and producing a fountain of snot from her nostrils that even covered some of the streamers from her birthday party...making me take them down...more crying.

It was an incredible hour of patience.

I am grateful for keeping my cool and not yelling.

I am a firm believer of talking to your kids how you would like to be talked to. I totally think there are moments that yelling is not only justified, but NECESSARY (i.e. them running into the street, about to hit their sibling, turn on the stove, etc.). But, in daily life, I really do try to avoid it. So today, I did it. For one hour, I listened to her crying, tried to redirect, and told her how sorry I was that she didn't get to play a computer game. Afterall, I WAS sorry. I wanted her to listen and do the right thing. But it didn't happen, and I wasn't going to give in. I sent her to her room if the crying got too much for me to handle - not to banish her - but just to give her some space for her emotions so I wouldn't react negatively.

And we got through it. We made it to ballet on time, and she even danced (even though she informed me several times during the meltdown that she would NOT be dancing. At ALL.). Deep breaths.


Day 109.

Sunday, April 19, 2009.

This day (April 19) will always be an anniversary of sorts for me. It was the day I stopped eating gluten...13 years ago!* Is it weird that I remember this? On one hand, it's hard to believe it's been so long, but more realistically - I was 16 - before 16 do you really make many of your own food choices? You choose which donut you want at the donut shop (do miss that btw), you choose which piece of halloween candy you eat first...and if you are lucky enough to go out to eat, you get to choose your dish. But really, the majority of your life's food choices have been decided for you up to that point. So, for me, gluten-free has been my life in food.

This past November I added dairy-free and coffee/tea-free to my list of avoidances, and since then has been an interesting journey. I can't even tell you WHY I'm not eating dairy. I have a naturopath to thank for me trying it...and I have my own improvement of health to thank for it working...and me sticking to it. I have gone back several times. Little morsels of Frangomint milk chocolate at Christmas, a cup of slow-filtered coffee calling my name at Backstory Cafe. I am a dairy queen (no pun intended), and Brie, you are my most-missed ex.

But the truth is, I feel really pretty decent when I'm religiously off of gluten, dairy and caffeine (a diet coke here and there doesn't seem to hurt me). So, for that I am truly grateful.

I am grateful to be gluten-free, dairy-free and almost caffeine-free.

My apologies to anyone who ever hosts me in the future.

*I was diagnosed with celiac disease.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Dylan Simone Rhodes

Day 108.

Saturday, April 18, 2009.

Dear Dylan,

You turned four today. How did I let four years pass us by already? Dylan, you are deep brown eyes, blond ringlets, and the most charming smile I've ever seen. You are everything I dreamed I'd have in a daughter.

You amaze me and excite me with your constant banter, your endearing made-up songs (that you sing all day long when you think no one is listening), and your witty comments. You love to make other people laugh, and try to find opportunities to be silly or clever for an audience. You love to dance for people, sing for people, and sign "Our God is an Awesome God" for anyone you remember to show.

Your inquisitive nature gives me a run for my money, and when I don't know an answer to a question, I now often hear you say, "Mom, let's look it up online." I guess it's a product of growing up in this time, but it's just so matter-of-fact, as if the whole world can and will be figured out by the time you turn five.

Your love for your brother is evident in the small daily conversations you enter into with him. You are often quick to squeeze him, grunt at him, or forcefully defend your toys against him, but you are only four afterall. And the times of love, compassion, and sharing are so much greater. You made sure he got to open some of your gifts this year, and even wanted him to help blow out your candles. You always check to see if Noah will get one of whatever you are having...and if not, you want it to be "our secret" so he won't feel left out. He mimics everything you say and do, and you don't ever mind a bit. He is so lucky to have you as his big sister.

Imaginative play is something I will never even be half as good at as you are, Dylan. You have a creative mind that will get you far, and I know it's not always fun to play "people" with me, who only can really ever think of about two places for the characters to go - the park or school. :) You would play "book party," "sleepover/playover," "caroling" or "parade" for hours if you had another creative mind like you to keep you company for that long. Cause that's the other thing - you're not much of an independent player. You like to have grown-ups keeping you company, and your little brother who wants to desperately do everything you not cutting it yet.

Your favorite colors are pink, orange and yellow, and your vibrant personality matches those perfectly. You are shy around peers, but outgoing and fearless in the company of adults. When asked what your favorite food is, you tell me "bananas, quesadillas and sugar." I'm sorry I can't make the latter happen more often, but I promise you'll understand when you're a mom someday.

Thank you Dylan, for showing me how to love in a new way. For showing me how to be patient and kind even when I don't feel like it. For showing me that if you yell at your children, you CAN expect them to yell at you back. Afterall, "don't talk to mommy like that" is also "don't to me like that then either" in your eyes. And you're right. We all want to be respected and loved. And you have made it easy to do both. I know you are one of God's greatest gifts to me and your dad, and I am ever and forever grateful for you.

Love, Momma

I am grateful for you Dylan Simone Rhodes.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pearly whites

Day 107.

I remember loving trips to the dentist as a kid, and even wanted to grow up and be a dentist for awhile - maybe it was a short while, but I remember it vividly. So, last summer when Dylan went to the dentist for the first time, I was not surprised it went smoothly. I know a lot of kids struggle with dental visits, and I think Noah may be one of those kids later this year when I take him for the first time. But Dylan, I knew would take this in stride.

Our insurance changed since that last visit, and I've had a horrible time finding someone new who takes our insurance, getting a referral, and finding some place that isn't third-world-country-scary. Really, isn't this a modern big city that we live in? Why did I have to go to the suburbs to find a good children's dentist?! Thanks Delta Dental.

I am grateful for NO cavities!

As an adult, I dread going to the dentist (don't remember when I made the switch from my eager-beaver attitude as a kid). And the biggest part I dread...when they tell me how many cavities I have. See, I don't have very good teeth. And regardless of brushing/flossing patterns, I just seem to get cavities. So, now I experience that dread for my child as well. I hold my breath as they stick the mirror in her little mouth and look around...examine the x-rays..."Well the good news, mom, is no cavities!" And the bad news?! That was the only news I care about!

Really, there wasn't bad news. The bad news was that she couldn't see anything at all wrong with Dylan's teeth. Which is actually good news - except for Dylan's been complaining of some pain/weird feelings in her teeth/gums that makes her grind her teeth ("Grinding teeth again mom!!" - as she audibly grinds and makes my skin crawl). So, I guess it's good nothing is wrong - but anyone who's been told that everything is GREAT when they have symptoms of SOMETHING, knows that's not the most fulfilling diagnosis. I guess we'll just keep our new toothbrush handy so we can run and remedy the problem.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Outdoor Eating

Day 106.

It was the first of three (hopefully) beautiful days in a row, and I wanted to take advantage of that. We had Bible Study this morning from 10:15-11:45 and so we brought along a picnic lunch so we could hit the park afterward and sit amongst the grass to eat.

I am grateful for picnics.

It was officially the first outdoor picnic of the year. I am all about picnics. I love having food accessible in fun locations so we can interrupt fun to eat only as long as needed. I love the happiness that easily comes along with sitting in the grass on a crisp clean quilt and eating together. I love sitting in a circle with my kids - at their level, and enjoying the food even more than we would at our table at home. There is a peace, a calm, a life to picnics.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Day 105.

Noah has had a few rough days of stuttering. This all started a couple of weeks ago and started out pretty mild...a stuttered consonant here and there. But on Monday, it ramped up to a scary level - and he was stuttering with almost every sentence. I wasn't scared the past few weeks - just chalked it up to normal development at this age and his brain working faster than his mouth could. But once it got to every sentence...I became overwhelmed.

I am grateful for patience.

I am not a patient person. I do feel like I'm more patient with my children than with anyone else, but even so, I can lose it at any time. The past weeks, and especially days, have been a trial. What I have read on stuttering recommends to be extremely patient and wait for them to complete their word or thought. So, I've been trying really hard to do that.

What a blessing to NEED to be patient, for your child. I make my life so busy sometimes - everything I do is multi-tasked. So when I'm listening to my children talk, I'm also wiping down the counter, throwing in some laundry, looking at a recent bill. I admit I'm not always full present with them in that moment. But, when your child is struggling for 20 seconds with one word, you have to stop. You have to listen, and I mean REALLY listen. You look into their eyes, and you see their struggle, and you try to be encouraging.

I believe this time has been an incredible gift from God. The stuttering dramatically improved today, and for that I am grateful too. Hopefully it's not a sign of anything more than a developmental stage. But to have this gift of patience was also hope. It was hope for me to transform my impatient tendencies and enjoy and listen to my children in everything they do - even just daily conversation.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Can't wait to hit the sheets...

Day 104.

It's almost midnight. I just got home from a church meeting 40 minutes ago and was on an adrenaline rush from the discussions, so I couldn't go to sleep. I spent my last 40 minutes watching 18 Kids and Counting on TLC and vegging (haven't used that word in awhile).

I am grateful for a bed to sleep in.

Now, I'm going to go get in that bed and close my eyes and leave you with a boring post for a draining night.

Monday, April 13, 2009

It's all Relative

Day 103.

My aunt Jeanie came up for the day. My kids adore Aunt Jeanie for the same reasons that I did when I was little. And one of the biggest reason is her creative energy and abundant imagination. She never seems to tire of creative play, and she plays with Dylan in a way that is exhausting to me, but Dylan needs it.

From the moment she stepped in the door, they were acting out fairy tales together. Then made up "Mommy and Dear" segments where the dear (or dears, depending if Noah was into it each time) would get lost while the mommy was shopping. Not really sure what that says about my own chances of "losing" a kid in a store...Dylan was all too excited to play this out.

I am grateful for extended family.

People that know you for exactly who you are, and like you anyways. Love you anyways. Jeanie and I have a wonderful history, and now as an adult, it's amazing to relate to your own aunt in a totally different way.

I know as you grow up, growing apart from extended family is inevitable. You don't see your cousins as much as you do when you are little and your parents are getting you together all the time. You may see them once a year (or less if these cousins live halfway across the country!), so it's not easy to stay "friends."

But what I do know, is that we'll always be family. We have a history together, and no current friendship can quite match the depth of this. Plus, we are connected by blood, and having the same grandparents, for example, links you in intimate ways.

Here's to all my extended family - those I see a lot (thanks Jeanie for making the trip up!) and those I don't. I love you all for who you are...and treasure our history together.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Day 102.

He is Risen!
He is Risen, indeed!

Happy Easter everyone. Our day was fast and fun...brunch at church, a wonderful worship service, sunday school, a delicious elaborate meal at the in-laws, and an easter egg hunt in their backyard.

I am grateful for Easter.

It's hard to teach your young kids about the Easter story. Jesus dies on a cross (yikes!). The tomb is empty (really?!?!). He is risen from the dead (what does "risen" mean?).

Dylan was obsessed with the "Jesus Dies on the Cross" story in The Rhyme Bible for a couple of weeks (about a month ago). I appreciate that this story does actually show Jesus on the cross, with a small (tasteful) amount of blood I believe. That was helpful - to have a visual. All the Easter books I've looked at since reading that one - all just kind of glide over the crucifixion. They use pretty language and show a dark day with mean people or three crosses in the distance up on a hill in the background. It's very vague. (Except for the one book I saw when shopping at Yoder's department store with Emily last week - this Easter book for young children was complete with dialogue..."Kill him! Kill him! Kill Jesus!" Double yikes - I don't think I need to introduce the word "kill" into my preschooler's vocabulary just yet.)

So Easter is hard. It's hard to understand, even as adults...the resurrection is unfathomable.

But yet, isn't God's love for us also unfathomable? Isn't it beyond amazing how much we can screw up and disappoint ourselves, and how God still takes us back every time?

Unfortunately, because Easter is so hard to understand as a young child, the focus of Easter becomes easter eggs, the easter bunny, and....(drumroll please)...candy.

God help me - why do my kids love sugar so much? We're a pretty low-sugar household. We don't have cookies around. Never have candy around (minus valentine's day, halloween and yes...easter). What is it that just makes them go gaga for sugar?

It's quite frightening to see the transformation of quiet, calm and well-behaved children into crazy, manic and wild beasts running around the house...all brought to you by...sugar!

So, NO Dylan, you can't have a piece of carrot cake with icing when you've already had two cinnamon rolls, 10 jellybeans, a chocolate bunny and a cupcake in Sunday School. Yes, EVEN if it has carrots in it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


Day 101.

We are in the suburbs with the Rhodes family clan and it always amazes me how much I don't see my kids when their cousins are out here! Michaela, Eli and Caleb are fantastic playmates for Dylan and Noah and they will go off with them for hour on end and entertain them. It's a wonderful sight - both giving me a break - and thoroughly delighting my children.

Tonight after my kids were in bed, we got to play a family game, which is always a highlight for me...I love games. Group games. Board games. Card games. Any games. We played Things. If you don't know it, you have to play it - to me, it's the best family/group game out there right now.

I am grateful for games.

We always have so much fun playing this game, and we inevitably end up in hilarious fits of laughter. It's great to see how clever people are, and who tries to pretend they are someone else in what they write.

But the best part about games? Sitting around a table together and talking, interacting, and just enjoying each other's company. There is something about that activity that is special. Way better than watching TV or a movie together. You learn something about each other, and you interact in a way that stimulates your brain (more or less depending on the game at hand). Anyone up for Rook?

Friday, April 10, 2009

The 100th day of blogging

Day 100!!

Can you even freaking believe it?

We're 100 days into 2009 already...and I think the ridiculous thing that every grown person has said to me for the last 5 years..."Time flies! You'll blink and your kids will be grown up!" true.

I am grateful for 100 days of gratitude.

I am grateful to those of you who are reading this blog and for whatever reason, keep coming back. I started this for me, as a test to see if I could really focus on gratitude in my life this year, and not be complaining so much, wishing everything was different, or waiting for something good to happen. Now, after 100 days, I know this "project" is going beyond just me.

Good things are happening every day! Thanks be to God!

Aunt Hilary

Day 99.

Thursday, April 9, 2009.

My nephew Evan was born two years ago today. Happy Birthday Evan! With another niece or nephew on the way (yay for you having 3 kids, Lara!), and looking forward to seeing my other niece and nephews Michaela, Eli and Caleb this weekend, I'm just feeling grateful.

I am grateful to be an aunt.

What fun to have nieces and nephews! I think it would be even more fun if I didn't have my own kids to take care of when I was around my nieces and nephews. I know I was a better aunt to Michaela, Eli and Caleb before I had my own kids to worry about. But, I do my best with my own needy children tugging at my pants, and still love them like crazy.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Good friends

Day 98.

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

I am in Indiana with my best friend from college, Emily, and her two kiddos Olivia and Elyse (we met up at her parent's house in Middlebury). It's so fun reminiscing about old times, but didn't get much time for that until the kiddos were all FOUR in bed. It's amazing what 7 years can do to short years ago Em and I were living together...and living a totally different life. Now, we're essentially living very much the same life still...just hundreds of miles away from each other.

I am grateful for longtime friendships.

Most of my current, local friends I only met because of my kids. It was pregnancy, birth, or mommyhood that brought me to them. And God love you all - because you get me through life. But there is something different about friends with kids who you also knew PRE-kids. You have a different level of personal connection - like: you knew me before I listened to elmo songs in the car, wiped butts all day long, and woke up at 5:30. Remember when I used to be "cool?"

Ok, so maybe I wasn't ever cool. It doesn't really matter now. But, it does matter to have these deep connections with people - people that remember you devastated over not getting into the school musical. People that remember your onion dare. People that remember you as a marathon runner. People that remember you going to concerts. Heck...people that remember you listening to cool music.

I definitely don't wish I was back in college - I'm extremely graeful for my life and the journey I am on. But, I do miss those relationships...and I miss the Spontaneous College Hilary...which has somewhat morphed into the Responsible Mother Hilary (most of the time).

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

An Apple A Day

Day 97.

Dylan had her 4-year old check-up today. Wow. Four years old...well not officially until April 18th, but the pediatrician's office is relocating next week, so we got in early.

Our doctor is personable, great with kids, and a mom of two young children herself. Dylan loves her and this makes doctor visits SO much easier. (When she was turning two and we went in for her check-up, she told Dr. Glunz that she wanted her to come to her birthday party!)

I am grateful for a healthy daughter.

When you have one child with special medical needs, you are especially grateful for normal health. It just seems almost too easy. The smooth vision test, the deep breaths in and out, the thermometer under the tongue - when did she get old enough for that? It was butter.

Ok, part of the ease came with Jason having Noah at home with him - he's on Spring Break. But, I also just love four-year olds. At least with mine, you no longer need a huge bag of toys to entertain them during a wait. You don't even necessarily need snacks. All you need is a creative mind and an imaginative spirit, and you can recall or make up stories for hours - to their sheer delight.

Dylan is healthy...and in the 75th percentile for height! She's sure to be taller than all the boys in 5th grade...just like her ole' mom.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The most obvious gratitude

Day 96.

Dylan and Noah, you are growing up way too fast. I see this in your facial expressions. I hear this in your well-formed sentences and well-thought out questions. I smell this in your bad breath that doesn't always smell baby sweet anymore (although it's still your breath, so it's not really that bad to your mom). I touch this in your long legs and your big feet that no longer fit into the palm of my hand. I taste this when I smother you in kisses...and you don't always let me.

I am grateful for my children.

I am getting all emotional and nostalgic on myself lately. I've been reading some college friends' blog about adopting their son from Korea - they just returned home with him a few days ago. And I'm seeing the wonder and amazement of having a child in a new light...and seeing their wonderfully raw gratitude. It is contagious.

What an incredible blessing a child is to a family. And I just got to read stories to my two little miracles, their warm growing bodies all snuggled up and entangled with mine. I have wanted my whole life to be a mother, and this is IT. It is amazing. It is wonderful. It is hard. But I am so grateful.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kids Praise

Day 95.

Today is Palm Sunday and the children in our church (newsflash: I have two of them old enough to do this now!) process up and down the aisles waving palm branches at the beginning of the service while we all sing a hymn. "Jesus is coming!" It's a cute way to have the kids involved in the service and they always get a kick out of it. I remember Dylan doing it last year and having to hold a bigger girl's hand so she could be guided. This year it was her turn to be the guide.

Dylan took Noah's hand and they never let go for a good four minutes, down the hall, into the sanctuary, and around the worship space 1.5 times while we all sang and they waved. Hands still holding.

It's hard not to get choked up when I see you two little beings who came out of my own body holding hands and walking together. Your perfect little faces walking down the aisle. Your perfect little arms waving the green stalks up and down (oops! don't hit that person on the aisle!). Your perfect little palms clasped together.

I am grateful for children in worship.

And of of course I'm focusing on the two little Rhodes in the bunch. But the others were just as exquisite. And having children as a part of worship is really important to my sense of belonging. I enjoyed having children around in worship even before I had kids. Not just for the funny one-liners during children's story, but for the sheer joy and energy they bring to everything they do. But now that I have my own children, the joy is multiplied for me. Today, to see Dylan doing the movements to You Are All We Have (our lenten theme song)...and reaching her arms up to the heavens...was perfect.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Break out the meds...

Day 94.

I've spent the last five days trying to pretend I'm not sick. Trying to fake it and act normal when I really feel like crap. I still am not myself, and have an annoying head cold that I can't beat. BUT, today I picked up some Tylenol Sinus at the store when we went to pick up supplies to dye easter eggs...which was super fun, btw. It's so fun to have two kids who are old enough to really enjoy (and be good at) activities like this. But back to the meds...

I am grateful for feeling a little bit better.

I was able to enjoy the easter egg dying. And, I realized that I've been feeling guilty about not playing with my kids enough all week. It's because I just haven't had any energy to be myself. So, today I really enjoyed our day together at home as a fam. We read lots of books, played together, drew together, and baked together. Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel even less pathetic.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Five, Twenty-five...who's countin'

Day 93.

Jason and I take turns a lot. We do many things as a family, but we also both need our alone time, especially when we're tired and cranky. So, when I came home today after a long day away from home (which started out VERY fun at the Planetarium and ended up very NOT fun with a failed trip to the dentist and impromptu library trip), I just wanted five minutes peace. Okay, so it's turning into more like 20 minutes peace as I blog here, but really...I need it.

I am grateful for five minutes peace.

There is a really cute children's book with this very title, and I wish I would have written it. It's amazing what five minutes (or 25 minutes) peace can do to your spirit, your energy level and your ability to handle children. Ahhhh...deep breath.

Thank you to my husband for taking turns with me when we both need a break. As I hear them both whining and complaining to you in the next room, I am grateful it is you and not me.
But don't worry, it will be my turn again...soon enough.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Burst of sadness

Day 92.

My sister left today. Boo.
I saw her some last week at my parent's house, and then she was up here for about 48 hours. But that was entirely too short.

When we dropped Lara, Anya and Evan off at the airport this afternoon, we drove away and Dylan said sadly, "I feel like I'm going to burst." I asked, "Why?" She replied, "Because they had to go home."

I am grateful to have family I adore.

We have to see them again soon - and so I'm planning my late May solo drive across country with both kids in tow. Really, would it be that bad? Right now, I'm thinking not! I just can't figure out how I'd get two sleeping kids into a hotel at night by myself...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Over with

Day 91.

Noah had some important doctor's appointments today and I took him into Children's Memorial early this morning while my sister watched Dylan. It was a stressful morning of lots of crying and looks of "Why are you letting them do this to me mommy!" He's at a terribly difficult age for this. He's old enough to know what's going on and voice his discomfort and dislike for what's happening. But, he's too old for plain old distraction ("hey kid, look at this Baby Einstein DVD") and too young to really reason with him and explain why we have to do this, thereby making it easier to bear.

I am grateful the procedures (for today) are over.

Every step we take with Noah's health, it feels like we're working with some sort of dry erase board timeline. Like, OK, we've checked this off, but who knows what we'll have to write in next, so keep your eraser and marker handy. Sometimes I hate that uncertainty of what is coming next. Other times, it's a blessing in disguise, and it's easier to just focus on now.