Friday, July 31, 2009

Day 211.

Thursday, July 30, 2009.

Jason has been home all week, and it finally feels like summer (maybe this has a part to do with my inner peace?). He is done with summer school, and although he still is taking grad school classes through mid-August, it feels like we are together for awhile. Enjoying family, enjoying Chicago, and enjoying the benefits of him being a teacher.

I am grateful for the summer.

This week the weather has finally felt like summer too, as there have actually been a few sunny days in the high 70s, early 80s. I'm sure glad we didn't buy a pool pass this year, what a waste of money that would have been.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 210.

I feel like I've been given a huge dose of grace. I don't know where it came from, but I am filled with patience and love in a way that gives me peace. I can't describe it any better than that.

I am grateful for inner peace.

Something about this feeling I've been having is making me less selfish. I've always thought my selfishness was something that held me back from walking in Jesus' footsetps. For whatever reason (see, I'm baffled why this is happening and how it is happening) I am seeing that selfishness lose a little of its stronghold. I am trying to be a better friend to those I'm close with and strangers alike, a better partner to my incredible husband, and a better mother to my two wonderful miracles I have the privilege and blessing to call my children.

I'll let you know if I realize where this all is coming from...other than the Holy Spirit, which is the obvious part.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day 209.

I am grateful for high expectations.

My friend Mary has often given me the best compliment ever...EVER: "You're such a great mom." And she means it genuinely, so I really take it to heart. We met her and her son at a great fountain to splash around today for a few hours, and we talked about my blog, gratitude in general, and how my life is better because of this blog.

I also noticed something else about our time together. Because of this compliment she has given me, I sometimes get this feeling when I'm with her that I have something to live up to. That sounds negative, and this feeling isn't negative whatsoever. It's actually quite inspiring. I find myself wanting to be the epitome of a "great mom." Is that such a bad thing really? I guess it could be if I was trying too hard or feeling unrealistic expectations (I didn't say "perfect mom."). But for me, it is a good challenge. To react to situations with my children in creative and positive ways, to listen to them, to really HEAR them. To treat them like people, yet give them important boundaries.

Thanks, Mary, for helping me realize I can be a great fact you have seen it in me. So, at times when I choose the wrong discipline strategy, or regret the words as they roll of my tongue, it's OK.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day 208.

Flashback to 2004. Sit down in Hilary's Honda Civic and you might have a plastic bottle here or there around your ankles, maybe an old church bulletin and a few gum wrappers. It wasn't immaculate, but it wasn't chaos either. Just comfortably lived in...afterall, I was a commuter.

Fast forward to today. Sit down in Hilary's Buick Rendezvous and you better have worn your old dirty sneakers. Who knows what your feet are crunching and squishing on today. There might not be any plastic bottles any longer (no, just five stainless steel BPA free ones yet to be washed). But, there is so much more.

Remember my trip to Colorado...say...two months ago? I still hadn't cleaned out my car from that trip. (Here's where I stare at the floor and don't see any of your shameful eye rolls) It's true - but I just never could bring myself to do it. And so it got worse, and worse, and worse, until today.

I am grateful to have cleaned out my car.

Seriously, I was losing things in there to the point of no return. When I took everything out of there in various sorted bags and brought it into our condo building lobby, I was mortified - how did it even all fit inside my car?!?! I found some 5-lb. weights I didn't even know I owned. Nothing too gross actually, considering we'd been on a 17 hour trip with various snacks in the car.

Now, it's waiting to get vaccummed...
Honey? Are you out there? Promise...I'll be grateful for you tomorrow...

Day 207.

Sunday, July 26, 2009.

I caught Dylan's cold today. Woke up feeling icky and it progressed throughout the day. Colds suck. You're not sick enough to stay home and lay in bed. But you ARE sick enough to feel like crap and have to act normal while you go about your day. No good.

I am grateful for empathy.

One good thing to come of it though...when I get sick, especially FROM my kids, I am able to empathize with them a little more. Realizing what they were battling helps me understand the whining, the tiredness, and the overall clingyness a little better. Afterall, right now I just want to whine, sleep in my bed and hug my mom.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Day 206.

I am grateful I did the right thing.

Thanks to my parents, who raised me with a good ethical head on my shoulders. Sometimes I want to forget I have ethics, and just do the most convenient thing for me. But then I think, "What would Clark do?"

This is in no way supposed to demean or undermine the popular phrase, "What would Jesus Do?" In fact, I am a fan of thinking that as well, and probably in a way they go hand in hand (not to idolize my dad, just saying Jesus would probably choose the ethical way as well, don't ya think?). But I think about my dad all because of a certain summer in high school when my best friend and I had our own lawn mowing "business" for a summer. It was such an easy job - and we made quite a lot of money doing it, while working only one-two days per week. It was sweet. But, I'll always remember that come March of the next year, my dad reminded me I had to claim those cash earnings on my tax return. WHAT?!?! I ended up forking over about $350 of my own money that month, and money I had already banked as MINE. It was a good lesson, and one I'll always remember. Do the right thing, no matter if no one will find out or not. I wasn't going to get audited, so what? It was still the right thing to do.

So, fast forward to today. I bought a doll for my daughter at my favorite boutique toy store here in the neighborhood. I love this toy store, and pretty much every toy we purchase comes from there. I am a loyal shopper.

The doll retailed for $34.99 and he charged me $15.99 for it (he typed in the wrong SKU number and it rang up as a doll's dress instead). I noticed the error as we were sitting outside the store having lunch in the courtyard. And I'll admit my humanness, I didn't want to tell them. I wanted to throw away the receipt and walk home and forget the error. On one hand I figured, it was their fault, so my luck, huh? But, as I said, I love this store. So why should I cheat them out of $20 that is theirs? It just wasn't fair, and it just wasn't ethical to not do the right thing.

So, I marched my kids and my enormous stroller back into the store and showed him the receipt. Without a word (seeming almost annoyed at ME) he took the receipt and went to the counter to check it out. Then, I heard him rudely call across the store, "Mam, $20.95."

I walked over to the counter, sure I would hear a "thank you so much for your honesty." or "My error, I'm sorry about that." or SOMETHING. But no, I gave him my credit card in silence and walked out. That was it.

I left the store feeling so sour. I wished with all my might I hadn't gone back in there to tell the truth. He didn't deserve my $20.95. And I was now pretty sure they didn't deserve my business at all.

I came home and immediately wrote the manager and owner letters telling them about my exchange. I just needed to tell someone, and I figured they should know that they had possibly just lost a loyal customer. And now, I do feel better. So, why am I grateful for doing the right thing?

Well, because even after that, I still know it was the right thing to do. Because Clark would have done it. And he probably wouldn't have even wanted them to thank him. You don't do the right thing to get credit, you just do it.

Day 205.

Friday, July 24, 2009.

Ok, we're back from camping.

It was so fun. Really, it was. I take back my comments about the all-inclusive. Of course, that would be fun to too, don't get me wrong. But, there are definitely merits to camping!

I am grateful for camping.

Here are the reasons I am grateful:
- The kids were in heaven. They loved being outdoors for 24 hours, sleeping in a cozy tent with their parents and spending all day today at the beach.
- The sleep WAS terrible, but I survived. And we only stayed one night - so I'm going to bed at 8pm tonight to recover.
- The company was amazing. It was eight families, including us, and it was a blast. We all potluck-styled the dinner and had quite the spread.
- The weather was wonderful. It did ended up raining (sprinkling) during dinner for about 20 minutes. But it was light and never soaked anything. It got it out of its system, and it was over. That was all the bad weather for the whole time. Today at the beach was partly sunny and beautiful.
- The campgrounds were amazing - we are so going back to these. It only was 45 minutes from our door in Hyde Park to the campsite in the Dunes. Not bad at all. There were modern restrooms, a playground a stone's throw from our campsite, and several hiking trails surrounding the that led straight to the beach.
- It brings us closer as a family. We have to do everything together when we live in a 8x8 tent.

I completely recommend it.

Day 204.

Thursday, July 23, 2009.

Today we leave for an overnight camping adventure at Indiana Dunes! I'm excited, and only a little anxious. The anxiety only comes from one thing - dreading the horrible night of sleep I will be getting.

I am grateful for the air mattress.

That is the only thing that will make tonight even possible. I know, I know, some of you are shaking your head at me out there. I don't care - honestly, I'd rather be going to an all-inclusive. But, this is gonna be fun, right?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 203.

Someday, 25 years from now, my daughter will call me on the phone and ask, "Did you ever bribe us when we were little? I just bribed my child and I feel really bad about it. Tell me it's OK."

At least I hope she does, so everything will come full circle.

I am grateful for motherly advice.

Dylan is having an incredibly rough time separating from me these days. I can't really be in the next room without her wandering in to make sure I am still there, or wanting to be closer. This morning, on a whim, I told her that if she was brave today at gymnastics (which she always's just the separation...) then we could pick up an outfit for her doll to wear (sidenote: this is actually much needed since the poor doll is naked 24/7). She was thrilled with that idea and told me how brave she was going to be..."Not even one tear!" she said.

So, while we drove the 35 minutes to gymnastics, I sat in the driver's seat and felt remorseful about my bribery. I don't like to bribe my children. I want them to feel intrinsically motivated and to not do something because they're going to get a lollipop or something. But, I was really frustrated here. And I know from experience, when nothing else worked with potty training and I KNEW she was ready, I potty-trained her in two days flat with one M&M per potty success. So, I'm not completely against it when the shoe fits and we have to change gears in how things are working.

I called my mom and she told me a story or two of bribery in my own childhood. That was incredibly helpful as it made me feel like my children weren't going to turn sour with these random acts of bribery. And furthermore, she reminded me how it's not so hard to believe that rewards-based discipline works - after all, aren't we as adults motivated by what we might get out of situation or what the "reward" might be? It shouldn't be the only form of discipline or encouragement OF COURSE, but bribing once in a while isn't so bad.

Now that I think about it, can we just not call it bribery? I'm going with rewards-based discipline from now on, and I feel so much better about it. :)

Thanks, mom, for listening to me and reassuring me. Thanks for your accessibility. What would I have done this morning if you hadn't answered your phone both times I called for desperate parenting help?!

Sadly, the story does not end well. The crying was worse than ever. She was glued to my leg and hysterically screaming that she didn't want me to go. And when I reminded her of the bribe...she yelled back through tears, "I don't want any doll clothes! I want you!" Followed quickly by, "I'll get them tomorrow!" doesn't work like that my dear.

So, I guess we try again next week.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 202.

What a nice day we had with our friends in the Ogden Dunes today.

I am grateful for a perfect beach day.

It was 80 degrees and sunny with a few clouds for relief. It was the kind of summer weather Chicago has been missing this year. We enjoyed the beautiful dune grasses and were pretty secluded there on the stretch of beach we plopped down on. The kids were in heaven, playing in the water (Dylan) and sand (Noah). I had packed a lunch, so whenever someone got hungry, they'd run over for a handful of watermelon or half a sandwich. It was a calm, easy, and fun day. We were there for three hours before we knew it, and no one was really ready to leave.

Thanks Christy, Caroline and Case!

Day 201.

Monday, July 20, 2009.

I have now had my new stroller for a few weeks now, and I love it.

I am grateful for my Baby Jogger City Classic.

I feel kind of lame being grateful for something so materialistic. But, this stroller is my favorite - of all six strollers I've owned in the past four years. Yes, six. I never found the perfect combo for all situations. But, since I use this one for only around the neighborhood walking (so I never have to lift it into the car - it's freaking heavy), it is perfect. I do a LOT of neighborhood walking, and I walk upwards of 2-4 miles sometimes, so I have to have a good stroller. It fits through doors, has enough storage, has amazing handling, great individual sun shades and is easy as pie to push. I love love love it, and so do the kids. Finally.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Day 200.

I finally faced my container garden today, and realized in full the harsh reality that is my failure as a gardener. Almost complete failure. The only thing that is still alive is the herbs, the tomato plant (barely - I think it has some sort of disease) and the snap peas (again, barely - most have shriveled leaves for half of the plant - does that mean it's still alive??). Sigggghhhhh.

I've been avoiding my whole back porch like the plague, for the very reason that I don't want to accept the waste of money and time that was my container garden. Oh yeah, and my porch looked like crap with all the dead plants, mostly empty pots, water-filled window boxes and tree remnants on the ground that hadn't been swept up in at least a month. It was sad, sad, sad. And buggy - really buggy.

So, today I decided I was going to give that porch a new makeover. It was going to become an extra room in our house, one we could enjoy and play in. I longed for it to be a special space. So, I did some deep sweeping (and then swept my new downstairs neighbors' porch cause I pushed so much stuff down there I felt bad), wiped down the patio furniture, threw out the window box contents, tossed the contents of pots with dead seedlings, packed up the empty pots, and put out a fresh, colorful tablecloth on the table for an extra homey feeling. It's so cute! And clean. And liveable.

I am once again grateful for my porch.

Even though I wasted $300 on my useless vegetable container garden.

I'm going to try and stop myself from thinking of all the other ways I could have spent $300.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Day 199.

I had some tough discipline moments today. Stupid things that ended in me freaking out, raising my voice at Dylan for basically no reason. They all involved her doing something, me asking her not to, her doing it again, and me flipping out that she deliberately disobeyed me. Ugghhh, I just kept getting more and more frustrated each time it happened. And it was always about the dumbest things.

For example, we had just finished playing at the park, her hands are filthy and she starts putting her fingers in her mouth and sucking on her finger (while I'm buckling her into her carseat). I was like, "Eww, Dylan don't do that - your fingers are dirty!" And I go to get into my seat in the car. She announces with an "oh-no" sort of tone - "I'm doing it again!" - like she couldn't help it or something. I repeat, annoyed, "Dylan, I just told you not to do that, your fingers are filthy! Why would you do that when I just..." And she cuts me off saying, "Oh no - I just did it again!" I freaked out...completely blowing the situation out of proportion. But, it was the last straw for me, after several of these episodes had already happened. Her doing stuff I just told her not to, and on purpose.

I was so ashamed of the way I talked to her, almost immediately, and so I apologized for yelling, but I was still so disturbed by the purposeful disobedience. On the other hand, she's not a dog, I'm not trying to get her just to OBEY ME and that's her only role. For some reason she needed to put her hands in her mouth. It wasn't that harmful, was it? And so my reaction was completely ridiculous.

I've replayed this particular scenario in my head several times today.

I am grateful for reflection.

In hindsight, I think this would have gone a lot better if I would have done this:
Dylan puts fingers in mouth. I don't tell her "Don't do that." Instead I say, "Oh my, your fingers must be very dirty from all that playing - let's get you a wipe. Do you want to wipe them or should I?" We wipe them, she can put them in her mouth and it's over.

Why do I feel the need to issue so many negative mandates lately? Is it some sort of power trip? Don't put your kleenex on the floor. Don't pick your nose. Don't knock over that tower. Don't, don't, don't!!!

No one wants to be told NO all the time, and that includes children. It's just not fair to them, and in my opinion gives them too many boundaries and not enough creativity. Phrasing is so key in parenting. So, I'm going to try and turn it into - Which trash would you like to put your kleenex in? Do you need a tissue? Dylan is still working on that tower, should we build you one to knock down? Do. Do. Do. Give them freedom to make their own choices, and you empower them.

I'm going to try to get off my inadvertent power trip and try to transfer some back over to my well-deserving children.

Day 198.

Friday, July 17, 2009.

We celebrated one of our little playgroup friend's fourth birthday this evening, and have another one of the friend's birthday parties tomorrow afternoon. It's a weekend of birthday fun!

I am grateful for kid's birthdays.

There is something magical and special and overall very exciting about birthday parties...especially for the ages 3-6. They understand that it's all about them, and are able to get excited, anticipate it and enjoy it so much more than year 1 or 2. It was no disappointment tonight with Phoebe. Happy fourth birthday to all our playgroup friends!!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 197.

Thursday, July 16, 2009.

We had new downstairs neighbors move in today. Ahhh...sweet relief.

I am grateful for my new neighbors.

Granted, I have only met them once, but that was enough. They are a cut above the last crew, and that's mainly because they are nice. So nice. They have an adorable 16-month old son and they have a little dog. I just think they'll be a little more used to noise. Hallelujah. The only problem is, now that I know how LOUD we are, I'm all paranoid that we're bothering them...since they're nice and all. I can't win.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 196.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009.

Dylan loves gymnastics. She surprises me every week at how good she is at them! I am definitely NOT a gymnastics person, so I guess seeing my own flesh and blood thrive in that setting frankly floors me.

Noah is hilarious at gymnastics. This is how Noah does gymnastics: Find a ball as fast as you can. Take the ball on the trampoline, throw ball off the trampoline, go fetch ball, and repeat. Take the ball to the obstacle course, throw and kick ball around next to the obstacle course, doing not one part of the obstacle course. Make mommy sit down on a chair and watch you throw/kick the ball and fetch it ("You sit right here. No play with me mommy. Watch me do this.") Repeat ball obsession with other various gymnastics equipment.

Why am I paying for gymnastics when he's playing soccer for the whole class?

Today he got obsessed with frisbees halfway through the class. He was doing all the same throwing games - just with the frisbee instead. Shortly after he picked up his frisbee and threw it (straight up into the air so I had to duck), I tried to show him how to "really" throw it.

Me: Noah, see, this is how you throw it.
Noah: No mommy. My way JUST FINE.

I am grateful for confident children.

Sometimes confident children turn into bossy children. But, for today, his confidence taught me a lesson. Why do you have to throw the frisbee the "right" way? What's wrong with throwing it into the air and having it come spinning down, flipping all over the floor - isn't that fun? Of course it is (unless you actually get hurt I guess), so Noah, it IS just fine.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 195.

I am grateful for a slow day.

I used to want the days to move quickly. I had babies...maybe that's it. I don't know - I just LONGED for the moment that Jason walked through the door. And don't get me wrong, I love that moment still - I'd always rather it be us as a family than me going it alone. But. it's different now. The kids and I have really good days. And often, I find myself wishing the day would last longer, rather than wishing it would pass quickly just to get by.

Part of it is that the kids are playing really great together. I can actually get enough done during a day at home to seem really like an accomplishment, even while paying attention and playing with them is interspersed. I feel OK about saying, "No, I can't play with you right now, I'm making salsa," when I've played with them several times already throughout the day.

I think the biggest thing that happens when the day moves slow and we don't have a lot going on, is I notice my kids more. I revel in them more. I see the moment as important, and I don't let time just pass by for the sake of passing.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 194.

Lakeshore Learning Store, I profess my love to you. You are fun, colorful, and full of things both the kids and I think we need. Props to you and your selection of amazing, fun, children's merchandise. You make me want to be an elementary school teacher - just to have all the cool stuff.

I am grateful for friendly salespeople.

My children love Lakeshore almost more than I do, and they were giddy with excitement from the moment we stepped through the door. They were not to be tamed. Throwing balls down the aisles, running in and out of aisles, picking up things off of shelves and almost yelling "Can we get this?" 5-billion times. I couldn't help but look the other way and think..."Who's kids are these? Why would any sane mother let them act this way in the store?"

My mom and I were able to reign them in occasionally and still get our shopping done - and thankfully there was no other shoppers there when we arrived. But the real thanks goes out to the two nice ladies working in the store who never gave me a icy glare or wished we would leave - at least not outwardly. They only looked upon us all as if WE were the reason they worked there, and made several nice comments about the kids. I have to admit, I don't know if I'd be so kind if it was my store.

Thanks Lakeshore checkout ladies. Your patience did not go unnoticed.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Day 193.

We were gone from church last Sunday, and after being gone even just one week, I'm always so happy to be sitting in my congregation, worshiping with my church family.

I am grateful for church family.

I belong in this church. I walk in to the sanctuary, breathe in and relax. I let all of my troubles and worries and frustrations from the week fall away, and it's just me, there to meet God with my fellow brothers and sisters. It is family.

I walk around after the service to many smiling faces, most who know something about me, and me something about them. We aren't the same age, from the same neighborhood, we might not have any hobbies in common. But, we are all there for the same reason. To breathe and be filled*. We are tied together in Christ, and so we are family.

*"Breathe and be filled" was the theme for the Mennonite Convention 2009 in Columbus, OH (held a week ago) and our church's theme today for worship was the same.

Day 192.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I had to stock up on some snacks for church and so I headed to Costco this morning. Sometimes things at these warehouse clubs cost more than the regular size, and offer no real value to buying in bulk. But other times I see something (like a 10 lb. bag of organic brown rice) and get all excited.

I am grateful for a good deal.

There is something (maybe in my Mennonite blood?) that gets giddy over a good deal. So, the store brand earth-friendly automatic detergent that was half price of Cascade, was exciting.

My problem is I find it hard to stop at just one deal or two. I want to find good deals on things I don't necessarily need (guess that's NOT the Mennonite blood...). So, it's a fine dance of buying things for the good deal and not buying good deals I don't really need. I'm still working on that one...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Day 191.

Yesterday I hit the Hyde Park farmers market, and was pleasantly surprised! I had heard it wasn't as good this year, but found a wonderful selection of produce and meats and baked items (which I steer very clear of). I found a great farm there that will let me get farm eggs (although not this week I guess - they didn't have them for some reason) and other free range meats. Yum! I packed my reusable bags full and went home giddy like a kid in a candy store.

I am grateful for farmers markets.

Summer is fresh local produce. Summer is fresh blueberries popped like jelly beans. Summer is trying chocolate cherry tomatoes (yum!). Farmer' markets are so joy-filled for me. It's something about connecting with the local farmers and supporting their trade and seeing all the healthy "grow foods" sitting there together just waiting to nourish my body. I get a weird kind of high from the farmers market.

So today, I'm still reveling in my purchases, getting ready to make a delicious garden salad with all the yummy veggies and a blueberry peach delight (some sort of fruit cobbler recipe from Simply in Season). Thanks farmers!

Day 190.

Thursday, July 9, 2009.

I am grateful for clean-up time.

I remember a time when I had to pull teeth to get Dylan to clean up. It just didn't happen without a game, a fight, a whine, or me giving up and doing it myself. At some unknown time, things changed, and now I realized it's not so hard anymore to get the playroom picked up. I suppose it's an age thing, cause Noah is in the middle of the "cleaning up means playing with toys as you find them" stage. But one mention of clean-up time and Dylan is at it, putting things mostly in the right places without a fight. I think she finally realizes cleaning up is part of playing. And that, is a huge relief. Check that one off the unwritten list of things you should teach your children before they go to college.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 189.

I am a perpetual late-returning library goer. It's almost like a disease; I can't figure out how to return books on time. Library videos are now banned from our household because they are $2.00/day late fee. A $37.00 fine one day, and that was the sad last day of checking out videos.

I am grateful to have no library fines.

I go back and forth being incensed with library fines and accepting them as part of my duty to my community...just helping out the system. Well, the last month I've had no fines, and I feel just fine about not helping out my community. Today was about the fourth trip to the library in a row with no fines! Maybe some don't see this as momentous, but for me, it is.

And my secret to keeping myself fine-free? Writing the due dates on my calendar. Most often the weeks just went by so fast, I didn't realize it had already been 3 weeks. So now, I can't forget if the date is in pen on my calendar. Success!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day 188.

Insurance is an amazing thing. It's an annoying thing a lot of the time, dealing with customer service, waiting on hold for too long, calling about claims that didn't go through, etc. The total time I've spent in the last two and a half years (mainly do to Noah's medical expenses) on the phone with insurance companies and medical billing offices is ridiculous. But my goodness, insurance is fantastic.

I am grateful for my HMO.

I've been having some bad neck, shoulder and back pain, coupled with some brutal headaches. Without getting into unnecessary details, after ruling out the worst, I decided to try some physical therapy to see if I could bring myself some relief. I went today for the first time, and I was so pleased! Jose did a great job, and I feel really hopeful about the whole situation. He thinks a lot of it is from my poor posture, i.e. sitting on the couch with a laptop blogging every night...hmmm...who does that?

But, the fact is, I can go to this place for FREE. Essentially - I mean, we pay for our insurance, but I have no out of pocket expenses. And it gets me thinking about how great my insurance is, and looking back at our crazy expenses with Noah's birth, and how I never paid more than a couple of hundred dollars for it ALL - including the 160,000 dollars in expenses from his NICU stay and surgeries. YEAH.

How sad that there are so many people in our country who don't have the same peace of mind that I do regarding medical care. I know, no matter what happens to our family, health-wise, that we'll be taken care of. Thanks to Jason's work, we have an amazing healthcare plan that provides us with all we need in that arena. But, the reality is we aren't all so lucky/blessed. I just don't know what to think about the whole healthcare crisis...

Day 187.

Monday, July 6, 2009.

I have always loved movies. I love the whole experience of a movie - especially in theater. I love spending two hours immersed in another world, experiencing the lives of the characters and pushing myself to think outside of my circumstantial box. In theater, I love the popcorn (make that "loved" the popcorn, as I'm pretty certain I can't have it now that I'm dairy-free).

Once I met Jason, my movie-loving-boyfriend-turned-husband, the amount of movies I watched increased exponentially. Jason loves movies. Even more than love movies, he needs movies. He has a borderline-unhealthy obsession with his Netflix queue. He wants to watch movies just to be able to send them back.

Then comes a long a movie like we watched tonight, where we waited several weeks (a month maybe?) to watch it. It just never seemed like the right night. Tonight was the night, and we had no idea what we were missing when we put it off for so long.

I am grateful for The Lives of Others.

What a phenomenal movie. Not often do I think about a movie after it ends. I usually am able to step out of that world and go about my life pretty quickly, for better or worse. But sometimes a movie just HITS me. Hotel Rwanda, MILK, E.T. - just to name a few. The Lives of Others is (in my opinion) not as good as the just mentioned, but it is as thought-provoking. And for a directorial debut, it is fantastic.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Day 186.

Noah fell head/face first onto the cement off of a water feature this afternoon. It wasn't pretty, and Jason and I sat 2 feet from him watching the whole thing. You know that moment as a parent when you witness your child do something dangerous and everything seems to go in slow motion? Then, you later replay the event in your head a thousand times and wish you could push pause right before they get hurt.

But then there are the short moments after the fall (or however they got hurt) where you fear the worst and hope for the best. In my "worst-case-scenario world," I always assume it will be bad, then I'm pleasantly surprised when it's not. I grit my teeth and hug my boy, thinking I'll surely find a huge lump on his head that is gushing blood.

I am grateful for finding the best.

Just a bruise and a scrape this time. Lots of tears, but not much harm done. Deep breaths for both parents. Whenever I feel like my kids narrowly escape severe harm, I marvel at their luck and good karma, and thank their guardian angels. Kids' bodies are resilient and so are my emotions, as I watch them escape injury time and time again.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Day 185.

I am Mennonite and I think I'm patriotic. Because of my Mennonite faith, I am occasionally looked upon as unpatriotic. I guess I see why others would see my silence during The Pledge of Allegiance as unpatriotic. I choose not to say the pledge not because I don't appreciate all the benefits of living in the United States of America. And, of course, I mean no disrespect to the men and women serving our country in the armed forces. They are a part of my ongoing prayers. I just cannot get on board with violent means of solving conflict.

So, I can't say I have allegiance to my country. I have allegiance to God, the whole world created by God, and all of God's people.

Merriam-Webster defines patriotism as "love for or devotion to one's country." Love, not allegiance. So, I can be patriotic without allegiance. I don't think United States citizens are more blessed by God than anyone else. I like to think of more of a global that does not have exclusive borders.

I do love my country. I was born here, raised here, schooled here, fell in love here, and enjoy day after day of the freedoms this country allows. How can I not be grateful for and love the people in this country and the country itself? I love the soil that grows the vegetables I picked up at the farmer's market this week. I love the freedom of religion that allows me to choose a church that my family feels comfortable in, and that allows me to worship freely whenever and wherever. I love baseball games, hot dogs (guilty pleasure), and homemade pie (not apple though, actually).

But, this love doesn't have to be exclusive. Just because I love my country doesn't mean I think I'm better than any other child of God on this earth, just because I live here. Just because I love my country doesn't mean I think we have the right to defend it, no matter what.

I am grateful for Independence Day.

I am grateful for a day to remember the good things about this country, even when I don't agree with a lot of things happening in our government. USA, I am grateful for you, even as I struggle with what it means to be an Independence Day-celebrating Mennonite. God Bless the whole world.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 184.

My dear friend Megan wrote a post yesterday on her blog that meant a lot to me. It reminded me of the person I hope I become once I'm "out of the trenches." And honestly, I kind of hope I'm that type of person right now. Today, I had a chance to be that person in a small way at the grocery store, where I ventured alone this afternoon. Did you hear that - ALONE?! What heaven!

I am grateful for solitary grocery shopping.

It's hard to grocery shop with kids. One kid, two kids, or especially three kids (yes, Megan, you rock). My usual method is to have Noah in the front in the seat intended for children, then Dylan rides in the back, where I proceed to pile her high with groceries so that she can eventually no longer move any of her limbs. It's a good plan - until she wants to get out 7/8 of the way through the shopping. I usually bring a lot of snacks, water, and possibly even a small toy or two to keep throwing at them while I get down to business.

I'm not a fast shopper - I organize my list before I go, and still, I forget things down about every aisle. So, I return to aisle 2, maybe even 3 or 4 more times, frustrated by each repeat journey. But, eventually I get everything, and I check out, where I always pick the slowest line.

Today, I'm now convinced the WORST day to go grocery shopping in the entire calendar year, I was alone. So, even amidst the chaos that was the South Loop Jewel/Osco, it was somewhat divine. Winding around other carts, through aisles, and past strollers, I had to stop and remember that I was childless. And so I made sure to glance lovingly at each random mommy with screaming/crying child in tow. And realize someday, this will be the norm for me. For better or for worse.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Day 183.

Day 183.

Today I did a stupid thing. I got up, made some banana bread, unloaded the dishwasher, and we met some friends at the park. Just an ordinary day. Except for that I got a call from a dear friend at 12:30 wondering where we see, we were supposed to meet her for lunch at an amazing little spot, Southport 12:00. :( I didn't write it on my calendar, and therefore, I didn't go.

I am grateful for forgiveness.

I literally felt sick to my stomach when I got her voicemail at 1:30. You see, my phone was dead, so I didn't get the message until later...adding to my mortification. I never do stuff like this. I'm usually so organized with my schedule. But enough excuses, I did do it. And I feel terrible. But lucky for me, I have an amazing friend who made me feel like it wasn't a big deal, and who was more concerned than annoyed that we weren't there.

What I love about gratitude is that when you are grateful for other people's deeds, it inspires you to be a better person. So Sarah, thanks for showing me how to be a good friend. When I'm annoyed with someone's forgetfulness, hurtfulness or incompetence - forgive, forgive, forgive. Life's too short.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 182.

Today is simple. This morning Dylan and Noah started a gymnastics class at the Oak Lawn Park District Gymnastics Center. This place is amazing. And the classes were extremely well run.

I am grateful for gymnastics.

Noah's class was fun - I got to go with him and have some one-on-one time playing which was priceless, but honestly, he's such an independent little guy. He kept just running away from me, having a ball, and at one time he told me he didn't want me to play with him. And then he showed me a folding chair on the side and told me just to watch. OK then.

Dylan, oh Dylan, we may have found your niche. You were ecstatic about the whole thing, and you were really into it and doing quite good for your first class! Your absolute faves were "the balance beam and the bar" and you literally jumped in front of me after class yelling, "When can I come back?! I wanna come back! I love it! I love it! I love it! I wanna come back!!" How wonderful.