Sunday, May 31, 2009

Commune anyone?

Day 151.

In many other cultures it's normal to have many parts of an extended family under one roof. It is expected that grandparents, and others will live with you. Why don't we have that as a part of our culture? I want that. Seriously.

I am grateful to spend time with family.

I hate that my sister and her family live so far away. I know that they love it here for many reasons, and goodness knows I love it here too when I visit! I would LOVE to live here in fact...if the rest of our life and extended family didn't live in the midwest. It just doesn't make sense for us to move away from all that. But geesh, I see up close and personal how amazing it is to live near (or with!) family.

Our kids get along so well together. They have the time of their lives playing together. Dylan and Anya are so cute telling each other how much they love each other all the time and giving each other hugs spontaneously throughout the day. At one point Steve, Lara and I were all sitting on the deck with books and the four kids were in the sandbox (a pretty small sandbox!) together playing and getting along swell.

I say we bring back communal living.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Sleep habits

Day 150.

Sleep. What is it about being a parent of young children that makes your life revolve around sleep? Too little sleep. Sleep habits. Nursing to sleep. Sleep training. Naptime difficulties. Naptime success. Not enough sleep!

I am grateful for sleep.

There is nothing more satisfying than a good night's sleep or a good nap when you're exhausted. Noah had a rough night sleeping last night, which subsequently meant I had a very rough night sleeping. And, I was up with both kids before 6:00 which was not a good start. So, when we got back home from a city park/downtown Fort Collins excursion in the sun, nothing seemed better than an afternoon nap.

It was just the ticket to get Dylan to sleep too - it wasn't easy, but we eventually both drifted off.
Restored. At least for the rest of this day.

Friday, May 29, 2009


Day 149.

We went to an awesome park today that I remembered loving from last year when we visited in a semi-warm season. It had a splash pad there too which was surprisingly on! And it turned out to be a hot day in Colorado. We were NOT prepared to splash - we did not have swimming suits, swim diapers, towels, changes of clothes, or more sunscreen. So, we decided to have Lara run home and get the necessities and come back.

The only issue - I had to stay there and watch four kids at once at a huge park with tons of people there. Kind of scary.

I am grateful to not lose either of my children or my niece or nephew.

Nothing bad at all happened today while Lara was gone. No one got hurt, lost or even cried. But I admit it was stressful watching four kids. Remember how I keep talking about how I want four kids....hmmmm.... I kept finding myself counting, 1,2,3,4. 1,2,3,4.

Some days isn't that what you just have to boil it down to? Ok, so-and-so threw a tantrum, I lost my cool and yelled in front of a crowd of people, someone had an accident when they couldn't get to the potty on time. Some days - looking at the whole picture - you get overwhelmed at the frustrations. But at least you didn't lose anyone. No one got hurt. And somewhere in there, you even managed to have a little fun.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

One more mommy, please?

Day 148.

My sister and I were making dinner tonight for longtime friends of ours from Champaign who happened to be in Colorado for a wedding this weekend - same weekend as I came to town! So, we had a reunion of times! While making this delicious dinner, Noah was having a rough time and really just wanted me to hold him and not let me cook.

So, we pulled up a chair to the island in their kitchen and let him stand there while I cut up fruit for the fruit salad. He couldn't just stand there and WATCH me cut up this delicious bowl of yumminess. He wanted to partake...NOW.

I am grateful for giving in.

I am usually a "Wait until snacks before dinner" kind of mom. I just hate it when anyone in my family (including my husband) ruins the dinner (I just spent an hour making) with a snack. For Jason, he's usually eating something like chips and baba ganoush, salami, or something else equally full of protein (and therefore proportionally diminishing his appetite). For Noah, today it was fruit. Blueberries, grapes, cherries.

Ok, really - am I banning my 2-year old son from fruit before dinner? So, I want him to sit and eat a dinner with everyone else and have a balanced meal. But seriously - what is so wrong about an appetizer of fruit?

Absolutely nothing, and I'm glad that came clear to me as I started to scold, "Only one more blueberry!"

I even listened to a whole adult audio book!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Day 147.

Trip accomplished! We made it to Fort Collins, Colorado at 8:30pm. After 1,137 miles of driving, we pulled into their driveway and my body was aching! The kids were not crying, not whining, and only slightly annoyingly asking "Are we in Colorado yet?"

They had been asking that for two days. Yes, even after 10 minutes in the car - and still in downtown Chicago.

I am grateful for proving myself right.

I have felt really calm about this trip all along. I knew there were two options in visiting my sister and her family: 1. to drive (flying with three kids I now have to pay for tickets for is...expensive) OR 2. to not go. #2 was not an option.

So, I geared up, planned incessantly, made many lists, and packed little lunch bags number 1-16 with little treats/toys in them and they got to pay me a trip "ticket" every hour to receive a bag. They loved that - and it avoided several meltdowns for Noah - when he was just about to lose it wanting to get out of his carseat, we would time travel a bit and "An hour is up! Pay me your ticket!" Saved again.

I'm not going to think about the trip home. THAT seems like a daunting, tiring, never-ending task. I guess I used up all my energy and positivity on the trip here. Hopefully the next six days of fun will refuel my road trip tolerance. Until then...I'm going to pretend I'm not going home.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thanks, Ronald!

Day 146.

Road trip!!

We made it our first leg, to Ames, IA, with only two stops - one for an impromptu potty break. And the other was our planned lunch at the McDonalds in Rock Falls, IL - planned in advance because of the PlayPlace there. Yippee! The food was revolting. I'll leave it at that. But, it was pouring rain! And so I couldn't have them run around outdoors to let off some steam as I thought might be an option. So,

I am grateful for the McDonald's PlayPlace.

What a savior! We scarfed down the grease and then they ran like mad all over this plastic structure, complete with a slide, areas to jump around, and lots of climbing up and through tunnels. It was perfect. We were back in the car in under an hour and they didn't even complain.

Day One, CHECK!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Trip Eve

Day 145.

We spent an awesome day together as a family of four. I know it's not a huge deal to be away from your husband for nine days, or for him to be away from his wife and kids for that long. But for us, when we've never done it that long - I think five is the max so far since marriage! - it seems long. And so an extra nice day together was just the goodbye we needed.

I am grateful for this family of four.

I will miss you Jason. For the next nine days I'll be on a fun adventure for sure. I'll be watching the cousins interact, catching up with my sister, enjoying the Colorado weather, and will be essentially on "vacation." But damn, I'll miss you.

And so will your kids. They need you so badly in their life as a constant, and they usually have that. When that is disrupted by random trips across the country, well, they are going to be in need of some good daddy time come June 4th. Nevermind that Dylan didn't want to hear your voice tonight reading "Today I Will Fly" - you know she adores you more than any other. She is your little girl and always will be. And Noah, he will surely miss your target pitches as I attempt to play baseball with him in your absence.

It was a fun day, and there will be more very soon, but for the next nine days, Skype will have to suffice.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Growing up

Day 144.

Why can I never find a time to cry a really good cry when I'm in the comfort of my own home, by myself in my room or at least with my husband or another close family member or friend?

No, I usually have the ugly cry going in the most embarrassing situations. Still,

I am grateful for a good cry.

Crying makes you realize how human you are, and makes you feel striped down to your bare bones, revealed before the world (especially when you do it in front of the world). And now that I'm getting older, I'm realizing it's OK to cry in public. So, people know I'm human now. Whoopee.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Green thumb?

Day 143.

I am grateful for a beautiful porch, and a sunny day to enjoy it on.

Do you see my fishing line/nail trellis for my sugar snap peas (far side of porch, on right)? And the ugly hanging thing on left is my topsy-turvy tomato planter (thank you As Seen On TV store!). Basil, red leaf lettuce, thumbelina carrots, and violetas in pots on table.

Window boxes with marigolds, pansies, red torpedo onions, scallions, lemon verbena, strawberries and radishes.

Another shot of the window boxes.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Big Box Fun

Day 142.

Did a lot of trip preparation today. Buying last minute necessities at Target, getting Noah's haircut, finally constructing a trellis for my sugar snap peas that are growing like mad! (yippee!!)

I am grateful for help at SuperTarget.

Once again, the help of my Great Aunt Jeanie was totally priceless. She has a way of entertaining children in the most odd places, and making something that is totally annoying as a That trip to ST would have been absolute torture by myself. As soon as we hit the party favor aisle, it was all over. The wouldn't stay strapped into the cart and so they were down with the merchandise, pawing everything like kittens. I was losing my mind, so Jeanie just said, "Go - do your shopping...we'll find you." And so I did. I got another cart and went through the store, only to come back after awhile and find the exact same place, only one aisle over to Crayola-world! I couldn't believe she had been keeping them entertained/CONTAINED for that whole time! I did a few more swipes throughout the store, all the while letting the three of them look, observe, talk, laugh, dance, and enjoy the store like I never have the patience for.

Fun at SuperTarget in my eyes is me giving you snacks in the cart and covering you in merchandise so you can't move. I just have a one track mind of getting the shopping done as soon as I can and not taking time for conversation or play.

Jeanie should hire herself out to go on errands with people and entertain their children. That way, you still get to be with your kids, but not deal with them pulling things off shelves, trying on all the necklaces on the rack, or dancing in the aisles while everyone stares and laughs/scowls.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Abort Spin Cycle!

Day 141.

I hate wasting money on things that should just work. We paid $650 dollars yesterday for my car to be maintenanced, and today Jason's car gets the rear window smashed in at school. Thank you State Farm Insurance for the $0 deductible. Also,

I am grateful my washing machine still works.

Last week I confused the bag of recycling with the bag of dirty kitchen towels and ended up putting a soy sauce bottle in the washer. It's a really nice front-loading LG jumbo washing machine - and as the door locked and the bottle clanked around in there, spewing chards of glass in all directions inside, I was sure I just made a $1000 mistake. So far, it's doing a fine job of cleaning clothes, one week later. No one in the family has yet to be cut by glass as they are putting on their underwear. That's a good thing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Up at the butt-crack

Day 140.

I'm tired. Up way too late last night and up way too early this morning.
But, as much as I don't think of myself as a morning person, I do love mornings and the anticipation they hold.

I am grateful for a day to look forward to.

We have a full day of meeting someone at the park, meeting grandma Karen for lunch, and then driving home to go to playgroup - outside cause it's supposed to be 80! What a fun, sunny day to anticipate. Now I just wish I was drinking caffeine...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hello? Anyone? Are you there?

Day 139.

Something about getting onto your computer, ready to write your blog, and seeing that someone has left a comment. How fun!

I am grateful for posted comments.

Okay, I know, it takes time to comment. You don't always have something to say. You didn't like my post. You don't know how to type. The excuses for not commenting are endless. But just so you readers know, I love it when you do! It is fun to see who's reading, and when I go a week with only one comment (and it's my MOM - who has to be a reader :)), I wonder, is anyone out there?

Monday, May 18, 2009

these shoes were made for walking

Day 138.

These shoes were made for walking, that's what I'm gonna do. And one of these days these shoes are gonna walk all over you. Ok, so they're asics walking shoes. I got them a few years ago in an attempt to enjoy walking more/be more comfortable while doing it. I would love to be a runner, but can't seem to get out and run as much as I would like (and to be honest don't enjoy it all that much when I do it), so I try to walk a lot. We walk to the park, we walk to the library, we walk to the store, we walk to ballet. Usually not all in one day - but today we did! Yes, I'm tired. And my feet?

I am grateful for blisters.

So the shoes suck after a day full of walking. My left shin hurt through most of it, and now I have mild blisters over the bottom of my feet. Hmmmm. Maybe it's time for some new comfortable athletic shoes.

But, blisters at least are telling me that I got out there today. The weather was perfectly in the low 60's, and I was determined to take advantage of my urban setting. It really does bother me when I drive places in the neighborhood. Like I should be ashamed when someone steps out of my car when I only live 7 blocks away. Maybe I should be ashamed! Not when it's 10 degrees outside, maybe, but 60? No excuse.

Now, I just have to get used to leaving 30 minutes early to go somewhere and build that into my planning.

light in the darkness

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Day 137.

I'm drained. I don't have the energy or desire to go into details. But, what I do have the energy to do is to explain just a bit why I'm still grateful.

I am grateful for the Spirit.

Some of my most significant times in church have been when I was moved to tears and could just feel the Holy Spirit permeating my whole being. When this happens, it usually isn't an easy feeling. I feel overwhelmed, with love, confession, forgiveness and hope - all at the same time.

One of those times happened yesterday at our church meeting. The air was literally thick with the Spirit. It was an incredibly hard gathering for me, and even much harder for others in the room. Yet, I still felt all of those aforementioned things. Love for my congregation and for God. A deep call to confession, on behalf of myself and the whole congregation. Forgiveness weaving throughout the room, touching us all. And hope - that we will make it through this - even in this brokenness. Through it all, God's will for our congregation will be our guide.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

So You Think You Can Dance

Day 136.

Yesterday I was nursing you to sleep. Pureed sweet potatoes were your favorite food and I couldn't wait until you started crawling. Really, it does seem like yesterday. Today, you had your first dance recital. Are you kidding me? I have a child who is old enough to be in a dance recital? When did that happen?

I am grateful for this reminder that life moves quickly.

Yesterday I was waiting for you to grow up, to be old enough to play by yourself, to be old enough to take to movies. Today, I'm just wishing I could rewind a bit, take in every moment again, and still be here in this moment, to be moved to tears by your very first ballet dance on stage. Dylan, you will always be my baby.

Friday, May 15, 2009

the Sitdown

Day 135.

We had takeout with my parents tonight - they are in town for Dylan's first ballet recital tomorrow morning. I was excited to try a new restaurant in our neighborhood, The Sitdown Cafe and Sushi Bar. It's a very strange combination of Italian food and sushi. Wouldn't think they could do both good, right? VERY WRONG.

So, our food was fantastic, and the service over the phone I received helping me decide which items were gluten/dairy free, was phenomenal - for hyde park it was unheard of!

And to my extreme surprise...

I am grateful for a restaurant in my neighborhood that has gluten-free options!

Yes, that deserves an exclamation point. And they even take food intolerances/allergies seriously! They printed me out a gluten-free menu and included it with our order - and get this - gluten free pizza, gluten free BRUSCHETTA, and gluten free sandwiches. WHOA. I'm in serious GF heaven. The only sad thing was that I didn't know any of this - so I ordered all sushi and then salivated over the rest of the menu. I guess I know where we're eating tomorrow night.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Back pain

Day 134.

I am grateful to have Jason home for a few days.

But not really for these reasons. Jason through his back out this past Sunday - and has been almost unable to walk the past few days - he's been off of work since Monday and has been doing nothing much besides going to the chiropractor, icing his back, doing minimal walking and laying flat on his back. He's in a lot of pain.

So, we've had daddy home this week a lot! And while I know he is super frustrated, in a lot of pain, and really ready to be back at work (and of course I only wish this would all go away because I hate to see him in pain), it's been kinda nice to have him lounging around the house. Ok, so I admit sometimes I've gotten annoyed that he's home and not able to do ANYTHING. And I admit that I've not been as much of a servant to him as I should be. I should have asked him more often if I could get him anything. I should have been getting his ice packs for him. And I should have way more sympathy.

So, honey, I'm grateful that your back is healing and you are starting to feel better. I always complain that you don't have enough sympathy for MY ailments, and now the tables are turned. It does feel good when your spouse takes care of you and goes out of their way to nurse you back to health, doesn't it? And I regret I haven't done enough of that. It's been really nice to have you around. I love you deeply and hate seeing you in so much pain.

So, what can I do to make you more comfortable? I really mean it.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Change in weather

Day 133.

Something about rain that makes you feel justified to stay inside and do housework. Makes your kids a little more likely to get along (or less likely some days I suppose). You aren't feeling the nagging pull to bask in the sunshine that keeps you from really focusing on more necessary duties indoors.

I get a lot done when it rains, and I guess this is why. I can't go to the ____ (insert park, zoo, walk to the store, etc.) so might as well scrap all plans and stay home this morning. Then I end up feeling really motivated because I have this concentrated time I can do, do, do!

Nothing extraordinarily fantastic got accomplished today - in fact, I even managed to put a soy sauce glass bottle in the washing machine with my kitchen towels (some mix-up with a recycling bag and dirty towel bag looking the same) and proceeded to not be able to open the locked front loading washing machine until it was too late - and shards of glass were spewed throughout the washing machine AND all the towels. Cleaning that up was something I would have rather not added to my to-do list.

Even so,

I am grateful for rain.

The kids painted at their easel, they took a leisurely bath, we made milkshakes and I ate my lunch at 10:30am. A rainy day is perfect for accomplishing things and making up new rules.

A beautiful thing

Tuesday, May 12, 2009.

Day 132.

I am grateful for grace.

Every day I screw something up. Maybe something little like putting a clean dish in the dirty dishwasher. Or something big (which happened last night) like yelling at Dylan when I have to come back into her room in the middle of the night AGAIN and I make her cry - and then she tells me that all she wanted to say was "Goodnight mommy, I love you up to the sky and back, sweet dreams, don't let the bedbugs bite" (through tears). Uggghhhh. Talk about total yelling regret.

I know I'm human, and I make mistakes. Daily. One of my ongoing problems is selfishness. I just can't help but is this affecting ME right now (as in the lack of sleep i was getting when she kept calling me in there last night)? I start feeling sorry for myself, getting impatient, and not wanting to deal with annoyances of others (read: my children). But I am always amazed at how I am subtely (or not so subtely) reminded of my own sins and how they are hurting others. I am selfish, until I see the effect it has on others - and then I am stripped to nothing and I feel regret and frustration that I did something so hurtful.

I'm not sure why I can't realize the selfishness before it does damage. Why couldn't I have just listened to what Dylan wanted BEFORE I blew up at her? But, I am truly amazed at God's grace. I am able to say I'm sorry and truly feel forgived. And I'm able to make another mistake and another and another, and still keep on growing. I'll never be perfect, of course, but I can at least learn along this journey. Grace is a beautiful thing.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Don't just listen - LOOK!

Day 131.

I am the ultimate multi-tasker sometimes. I seriously can hear my children talking, wash the dishes, and come up with in my brain what we'll have for dinner later. Am I real productive at any of the three while doing this? The jury's out. But not according to my children.

They've caught onto me. And that was so evident today, several times, as Noah and Dylan (both seperately) persisted, "Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom!..." and wouldn't go on with their question or comment until I stopped what I was doing and looked at them. Not just listened with a "Yes Dylan? What do you want?" but really listened - with my eyes too.

I am grateful for kid-driven patience.

I have the time to stop my dish mid-wipe and look at my 2-year old's coloring page. I have the time to not fold that basket of clothes and instead play The Picnic Game with my 4-year old. I have the time to stop writing an email to a Bradley student to notice what a cool block tower my kids have made...together!

Sunday, May 10, 2009


Day 130.

This is an easy one. It's Mother's Day. And so obviously,

I am grateful for my mother (and grandmothers), and my kids, who have made me a mother.

It is the best job on this planet hands down, and I am infinitely blessed by having two amazing children. Thank you for keeping me humble.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A1 A2 A3

Day 129.

Our church held a 4-week short sunday school class last spring on time management, and I learned a powerful tool. It has to do with making lists, and specifically A, B, and C lists. A being things you need to do NOW/today. B being less priority but still important, and C being things that are bigger longer term projects...someday I need to do these. And further - inside each category, you number things - so A1 is something that is first today, A2 second today and so forth. That way when you have time to work on your list - you go right in order. It helps organize all your random thoughts that go around in your head...someday I should do this...tomorrow I should do this...this HAS to be done today.

I am grateful for lists.

I love making lists. I crave the feeling of crossing off something on my list and the accomplishment that is. I have even been known to write something down on a list that I've already done - just to cross it off. It's a simple organizational tool that really helps me cut down on mental clutter. And the ABC lists totally do that for me.

So, today when I was freaking out about all I felt like I had to do, and all that WOULDN'T get done, I sat down and made three lists. The A's I wanted to get done today. The B's tomorrow or this week. And the C's - well those will be there for awhile unchecked. But that's OK - because writing them down let's me take them out of the continuous dialogue inside my head - "Remember Hilary, this needs to be done still!!"

Nevermind I only got two things done on my A list - #1 and #9. Oops.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Couch time

Day 128.

Noah and Dylan both fell asleep on the way home from the mall this early afternoon. My Aunt Jeanie came up from Champaign for the day and we had a fun day together - that wore them out and they conked soon after we left. We came home and Noah woke up when the car stopped moving - so I had to bring him up with me (while Dylan slept downstairs in the car with Jeanie). I knew he was still tired, but awake enough to be mad about being put in his crib - I knew that wouldn't work. So, we laid on the couch together, cuddling, and he dozed on and off for about 45 minutes.

I am grateful for cuddling.

Did I already do this one? Gee, I need to have a list that I can consult because it's very likely I've said this before. But, if I don't remember it, hopefully no one else will. And really, if you're going to have a duplicate, an emphasis on cuddling is a good one.

I used to be a huge cuddler, but something about having two children who nursed a lot, slept in our bed a lot (butted up next to me nonetheless) kind of cuddled me out. At least when I sleep, I don't want bodies touching me anymore.

But, now that my kids are four and two, the cuddles aren't as frequent anymore. No one is nursing, no one needs to be held, or carried in a sling, or nuzzled to sleep. So, my body is finally my body. My sleep is mostly my sleep. And now, I crave a good cuddle with my babies, who are not really babies anymore.

When I'm not trying to sleep (which would have been nice today, but he was too squirmy for me, the lightest sleeper on earth) - cuddling is the best. I love their little sweaty bodies mushed up against mine, deep breathing, hair tickling my cheek, dead weight on my chest.

I mourn for the last day that happens. When will it be, and when it comes will I know it is the last time?

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Day 127.

We went to Washington Park today to enjoy the beautiful sunshine and gorgeous temperatures. Wow, it was a nice day. Noah ran around the tennis courts (he found a ball - jackpot!) throwing a tennis ball and retrieving it over and over again for himself. It was hilarious and so darn cute. His little cheeks were so flushed and his little butt in his little man jeans running across the court was about the cutest thing I've ever seen.

We met some friends there and had a nice lunch picnic under a shady tree. Ahhh, springtime. After lunch, the three older kids (including Dylan and Noah) hit the sand box, where they proceeded to play together for at least 30 minutes uninterrupted (until another little boy came over and started showering them with sand from above...). For 30 minutes Jill and I got to sit and chat: about life, about her new little girl only six weeks from the womb, and about parenting.

I am grateful for mom friends I can share parenting stories with.

I've been having some discipline/disrespect issues with Dylan for a little while now. I am really frustrated with where we are right now and ashamed at some of the whiny, disrespectful things coming out of my child's mouth. I know she's a great kid, and I know we'll get throw this rough patch, but really, it's upsetting. I overheard the kids on the porch with Jason the other night and got a really sour feeling - they sounded like such bratty kids. I was listening just as our neighbors around us with windows open were listening...and WOW. Whose kids are those?!

So, it's nice to have a friend who you can be honest with. Hear her stories, her frustrations, and her challenges. It's great to remind each other that it's probably a stage. That we can read up on our "How to Talk" materials, say less and provide natural consequences. I love that. You see, I love treating my children as real people, cause that's who they are. They don't like to be yelled at, just as I don't. They don't like to be talked down to. They don't like to hear "no." But they do need boundaries...and that is the balance. Provide boundaries but set them free to be their own person and become independent. And... no more whining.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm just not a good window shopper.

Day 126.

I am going on a road trip to Colorado with the kids in a couple of weeks - yes, did you hear that? I'm DRIVING to Colorado by myself with my two children. Am I crazy? Maybe. Are they going to give me my first gray hairs on this 15 hour drive? Quite possibly. Are they going to watch more DVDs than they ever have in their entire life on this trip? Most definitely.

I'm not doing this for the fun of the trip. I'm doing it because I love my sister, miss her and her family and have to. I have to see's just not an option. Planes are pretty much out now that both my children need a ticket. So, road trip it is!

I will probably be posting more about this trip in the future, so look forward to me pulling the smallest bit of gratitude out of crappy long days on the road. But for now, it's much simpler. I'm just planning ahead. So....

I am grateful for online shopping.

Seriously, what did people do without this fantastic resource? Not only can I sit on my couch, glass of Pinot Grigio in hand, watching America's Next Top Model and be researching the safest car seat for Dylan to transition into...I can also buy it right then and there, and see the FedEx woman carry it up my stairs in a matter of 3 days (free shipping thank you

Online shopping is dangerous, let's just make sure we put that out there. It's entirely too easy to type in your credit card number (that you shamefully have memorized) and click "Order" and it's done! But, most often I'm pretty mindful of my budget. Planning for a trip, however, all bets are off. Suddenly I think I need every item ever made to make a mom's car trip easier...and I need it NOW. New carseat (mine couldn't POSSIBLY be safe enough on this trip - afterall she is .5 inches over the height requirement), new car seat trays for coloring on/playing on, a middle of the carseat organizer for their toys/books/crayons/etc. en route...the list goes on. Pretty soon...those plane tickets will seem like a budget buy themselves!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gratitude for Gratitude's Sake

Day 125.

I was going to post about something totally different - the zoo - which was amazing and fun and thanks Christy and fam for a fun time today - but I'll post about that on my other blog. But then as I was signing on to post, I saw this wonderful email sitting in my inbox, from a wonderful friend. And I was touched. It was an email of gratitude.

I am grateful for being someone's else's recognition of gratitude.

That sounds a little weird when I write it like that, but essentially, I couldn't believe that someone else was grateful for ME! I know I have friends and family that love me. And I am so thankful they do...because I know that support system is crucial to my life. But to really get a note from someone telling you that you are important to them, that something you did or said or just how you are is special - well that's really great.

It's funny, because it doesn't make me feel cocky or give myself a pat on the back and move on. You know what it does? It makes me grateful. Grateful for the friendship. Grateful for the opportunity to touch other people's lives. Grateful for gratitude itself, and the peace and grace it provides.

Catch the gratitude bug. It will multiply in your life hundreds of times over again.

Monday, May 4, 2009


Day 124.

We went to the park this morning. It felt good to get out, get some fresh air, and a little exercise. We walked to our favorite neighborhood spot, Bixler playlot. It was pretty empty this morning and we had the run of the place. We did see some friends of ours from Bible Study which was fun - so we got to run around with them for awhile.

I am grateful for the Chicago Park District.

For all my frustrations with Chicago government (which largely stem from the amount of ridiculous parking tickets I have received), I am overly pleased with the Chicago Park District. They do a lot of good things for us Chicagoans, and having fairly clean, well-kept parks is one of them. Yes, there are parks that get neglected more than others. Swings will stay broken all summer long. But, Bixler is well taken care of. It is a neighborhood hot spot, and a great meeting place for friends.

If you can't have your own backyard (private one at least), then at least we can have city parks. And it's better for me anyways to walk a mile to get there than it would be for me to just step out my back door.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


Day 123.

Ahhh the simple joy of getting your hands dirty. I never could quite understand that. I don't like getting my hands dirty - I like them clean and free of germs or dirty fingernails. And let's be honest - I consider myself a black thumb. I have had few houseplants in my life, and they have all eventually died under my watch. They aren't needy enough to keep me focused (like children), but they aren't self-sufficient enough to let me forget about them completely (like fake flowers).

So, for some reason since we decided not to renew our CSA membership this year with Angelic Organics (mostly due to us not knowing for sure if we'd be living here this summer/fall), I caught a gardening bug. I just kept thinking - I know I can do this - and make it fun, pretty, and yummy! My friends Jeni and Joe had a garden last year and I have to say, eating their yummy yellow cherry tomatoes picked from the yard...was temptation enough to get me to the garden center this year.

So, I checked out the book Bountiful Container from our library, and I have been reading and studying it like my gardening bible. We don't have a yard to plant, so containers on my back porch must be sufficient. With Dylan recovering from the stomach flu, and who knows who else in our family incubating the virus, we stayed home from church today. And so, I suddenly had a couple of hours this morning where I could go garden shopping! (plus, Jason owed me a few hours after his daylong cubs game extravaganza)

I've spent all day on this project - perusing the garden center and quizzing the experts. Choosing a good potting soil and finding the right containers. Installing window boxes on my deck railing and failing miserably as I stripped the head of the screw on the plant hanger I was trying to install (my first attempt at power drill usage). But, I did it! So, my hanging basket is sitting on the porch table instead of hanging. So, I haven't figured out my trellis of string for my peas yet. So, I think I planted most of my pots too shallow...too late.

I am grateful for gardening.

Seeing what I created (not the prettiest, but someday this summer, hopefully the yummiest!) was so rewarding. My kids could join in on the fun too. I am so excited about the possibilities of my first garden! NOW, I get it. Getting your hands the best.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

No, it's not the swine flu.

Day 122.

Dylan was awake all night long...needing me by her side - and eventually (which I knew was coming by her cries "My belly hurts!") she threw up at 5am. Literally 5 minutes after she FINALLY fell asleep and I went back to my own bed from sleeping there most of the night - she threw up - and that was the end of nighttime. The sheets off the bed, then Noah awake too...the three of us...up. So, not only did I stay up until midnight watching The Millionaire Matchmaker, get about 30 minutes of sleep before I spent the night awake in Dylan's room - I was now up at five o'clock.

Dylan only threw up once more, but the day was a "sick day." She spent most of the day on the couch, me lunging at her with a bowl each time she coughed. But, weirdly enough, it was a good day.

I am grateful for happiness.

This day could easily have been the day from hell. I could have caught onto the negative vibe of your child having the stomach flu and easily have lost it. Jason left at 10am for the Cubs game (and still isn't home) and so I was on my own. We were stuck inside on a beautiful sunny Chicago day when we were supposed to be at the Kite Festival. It could have easily been miserable. In fact, it should have been miserable.

But it wasn't. I'm pretty good in crisis situations. I'm calm, take things one step at a time, and am one trillion times more patient than in my normal daily life. We just got done reading The Survivor's Club with bookclub (which I admit I did not come close to finishing), and I just took the Survivor's Profile Test online earlier this week to see what kind of Survivor I am. And, I was a believer. I have so many times in my life when I doubt, when I worry, when I freak out. But when I am in a crisis situation (and yes, my kids having the stomach flu feels crisis to me sometimes), I believe. I trust in God, I trust in myself, and I trust that everything will work out. I really do take one step at a time, and that is the key. Unlike in my normal life as a constant planner, in these moments, I'm not trying to plan out our whole day and if she will be throwing up still at 3:00 or during the night or whatever. I'm just getting through the next minute.

And so, I was happy today. I enjoyed focusing all of my attention on my kids, without guilt of getting anything done or going anywhere else. I made up a bed for Dylan on the couch just like my mom used to do for me, and I loved that. I loved it then, and I loved doing it for Dylan now. (She loved it too, and spent most of the day there.)

I wasn't happy that she had the flu. Goodness knows your mind goes crazy with all the swine flu scares out there (thanks media for creating paranoia). But I was happy to be there for her, happy to take it minute by minute, and happy to have a chance to baby my four year old just a bit.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mirror, mirror

Day 121.

My passenger-side mirror on my car broke last week, and I've been driving without a mirror since then. It isn't safe, and I have put up with it for one too many drives. I had to get it fixed.

So, I called around to get some estimates on repairing it. Wow.

I am grateful for second opinions.

The dealership estimate was in the 250 dollar range. Finley Auto Glass - 64.00 including installation and tax. Doesn't take a mathematician to figure that's quite a big difference. It's nice to not be taken advantage of as a lady with a car. Make sure you shop around ladies!

I drove safely home from the 'burbs with a brand new shiny mirror.