Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Day 273.

I haven't really given a preschool update in awhile (okay, maybe a week? But for me, it feels like years since we started!) so I think it's time for one.

I am grateful that Dylan loves preschool.

She really does. It's not an obsessive talking about it all the time kind of love, but a really genuine, happy kind of love. She will casually ask me if today is preschool, and be mildly disappointed if it's not. For me, it's the perfect kind of love in this situation - the kind where she's thrilled enough to look forward to going, but not too thrilled where she's still really excited to see us and come home at the end of the three hours. It just makes it easy, and for that reason alone, I love it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Day 272.

Having one boy and one girl is great for many reasons, except for the fact that they can't share clothes...well beyond onesies and baby sleepers and possibly pajamas - IF I can convince Dylan that she doesn't need pink. So, clothes are expensive. I do appreciate stores like Once Upon a Child, or Good Cents, the best resale shop I've seen - in Geneva. But, even better...

I am grateful for hand-me-downs.

My dear friend Megan is done having kids, and with her two youngest being girls, her boy clothes have no function after her currently 4-year-old is done with them. I know other people have the luxury of many different sources of hand-me-downs. But me, I've never been the recipient for some reason...until now. And now, Noah scores big time - all thanks to these dear friends - who also truly believe in the power of passing good things on to those you love!

Today I got two big bags full of clothes for Noah, and I am brimming with excitement. Something about going through TWO BIG BAGS of clothes - even when they are little boy clothes - that is just so Christmas morning. I love it! Thanks Megan, I am happy to pay it forward when Noah grows out of these!'re next.

Day 271.

Monday, September 28, 2009.

I hate flying. I've officially confirmed that. You might remember that my last trip to Colorado was by car. And now I think I'll be doing that route more often. I recently read some article about fears/worrying and it talked about overcoming fear of flying with these various audio programs. I thought at the time, "wow, I'm glad I don't have THAT fear at least." Now, I might re-evaluate that thought, but what really stuck with me from those few sentences about fear of flying is that one should repeat in our heads..."Turbulence is not a safety issue, but a service issue."

I am grateful to have landed safely this evening.

I bought the whole service issue thing while we were in the air. Granted, I was still scared stiff by the plane flopping around in the sky thousands of feat up in the air. But, I kept myself relatively calm.

Then came the landing. There was wind in Chicago and as the plan descended, it could not stay level. We would drop suddenly (what I imagine is several hundred feet) and then start swaying. Side to side to side we would lean one way almost 45 degrees, and then back the other way. I think it was a negative that I was sitting above the wing and was watching it sway as we got closer and closer and closer to my beloved city below. I was all but sure we were crashing into a Cicero Ave. stripmall.

Obviously, we made it - we landed, and everyone aboard clapped. Thunderous applause. Now THAT doesn't happen on every flight.

Day 270.

Sunday, September 27, 2009.

Today I got to make some food for my sister and her family to enjoy later when they don't have any help. I put three pans of lasagna and three containers of chili in the freezer, and tomorrow I plan to make two pans of enchiladas for the freezer, put some pork in the crockpot and stuff some zucchini for their dinner tomorrow night after I'm gone.

I am grateful to be helpful.

I do love to cook, and so I admit, it was fun to make all these dishes in someone else's kitchen while no children interrupted me to need snacks, drinks, playmates, or help with potty breaks. But most importantly, it felt really good to do something I knew would be useful for my sister's family after I was gone. I liked the idea of her dreading dinner and knowing she could just go to their freezer and pull out something to easily bake. It's so easy to be helpful when you are "single!"

Day 269.

Saturday, September 26, 2009.

Here I am in Colorado. There are many things to be grateful as I enjoy holding my new niece for the first time, play with my other niece and nephew more than I usually get to, and try to help out my sis. Today though, I'll focus on something I got to do this morning that hasn't happened for a long, long time.

I am grateful for a night alone in a bed with no responsibilities and no one to wake me up.

I love sharing my bed at home with Jason. It's been over six years since I've slept alone. And I'd rather not on a regular basis. But I admit, a double bed to myself last night felt pretty dreamy. And more importantly, no one, repeat NO CHILDREN were there to wake me up. I didn't wonder repeatedly throughout the night: Who will wake up first? Will I have to get out of bed soon? I just enjoyed the sleep. Notice the sun begin to stream in through the window, and roll over and go back to sleep. Divine.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 268.

I have spent the day packing for Colorado and packing my kids for Grandma's house (they'll spend part of the weekend there while Jason works on Monday). I'm off to Colorado in 30 minutes, because I get to go meet Nora, my 2-week-old niece!!! I can barely stand the excitement.

I am grateful for this special trip.

I feel so lucky to be able to make this trip out there by myself to help Lara and Steve out for a few days. I'm so excited to see my niece(s!) and nephew. I'm so excited to talk to my sister, who is also going through a lot of transitions as her daughter, who is Dylan's age, is also starting preschool. I feel very blessed. Thanks, Jason, for being a willing dad, ready to dive in and take the kids for a few days never once made me feel guilty for leaving, and I appreciate that so much. Thanks to Grandma Karen, who will be helping with the childcare while I am away. You are helping make this important visit possible!

I'm sure I'll share a picture or two soon...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Day 267.

I'm grateful for a simple day.

A simple morning. A wonderfully simple playdate. A simple lunch. A simple afternoon of coloring with Dylan and phone calls to insurance companies. A simple violin class. A simple dinner. And a not so simple Bradley class...just couldn't get in my groove. But if that was the only part that wasn't divinely simple...I'm doing OK.

Note: Notice, I didn't say easy. Or relaxed. It was a busy day where I felt like I had things to do almost constantly. BUT, it was still simple somehow. I have a feeling it had to do with my attitude (see yesterday's post). The dust has settled a bit.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Day 266.

Ballet. Ballet. Ballet.

We quit ballet today. I guess I have what I wished for...I wanted something to simplify. But I didn't want to sacrifice anything for her sake. But, she made the decision herself, and I have to say I'm relieved. It feels so much better, and so right.

I am grateful to simplify.

We went to ballet this afternoon and it was the second week - and so moms don't get to watch anymore. We have to stay outside. Well, with the preschool separation (and she just did have preschool this morning - only day 2 of no crying without mom), she just couldn't take another 45 minutes of her day without me. I guess I'm flattered. Part of me wonders if it's unhealthy...and then I remember she's four. She doesn't have to be OK with it, and frankly, if she's not, then why am I pushing it? She's already doing three mornings a week of separation. If she doesn't want to do more, well, then that's just fine with me.

Today was the last day you could drop out and get your money back for the semester. I'm happily taking that option. And just so I have this in there - I didn't back down easy (even though I was happy when she made the decision in the end). I tried to go up to the studio with her...take her right to the door. I tried many tricks that usually work. And in the end, she just didn't want to do it. The class is 15 kids, and her ballet class last year was 6-7. The classroom is totally new. The class is longer. It's just not the consistency that I thought it would be. I thought - well, she has new preschool, new violin...THIS will at least be consistent. Negative. This was the easiest to go. She never talked about it at home and never got excited when I told her it was time for ballet. Yes, she loves to dance, but she loves a lot of things. She draws for 2 hours a day sometimes, but that doesn't mean she HAS to be in art class.

Before we left the ballet studio, we were talking to the registrar and telling her that we would be dropping out. Dylan, my shy girl with strangers, looked right up at the registrar and said confidently, "I'm going home to play my violin now."

Day 265.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009.

I am again feeling busy and overwhelmed and emotional. Seriously, I'm sorry readers, but this whole transition to school (and violin and ballet) and just structured-ness in general is really hard for me. It's hitting me like a ton of bricks. So for today,

I am grateful I have two wonderful children, who make me want to be the best mom I can, and who make me want to give them the world.

You both are amazing gifts from God and I'm so grateful that I even have these strong feelings, because it means I'm speechless with the privilege and responsibility that it is to be your mother. This is hard, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Day 264.

Monday, September 21, 2009.

Today was day 2 of preschool with no mama.

I am grateful Dylan (and I) didn't cry.

After the tears on Friday, I was really hoping for a smoother day. We got it, and I am entirely emotionally wiped out from this whole transitional time period. When will this pit in my stomach end?

But, back to the gratitude, she didn't cry, and neither did I. Noah and I had a wonderful time at the library together, just the two of us, and she seemed really fine when we picked her up. We got there a few minutes early and her class was outside on the playground. I have to admit, I was happy to spy a bit, and as I walked past, I saw how she was by herself and singing to herself. Happy, yes, but interacting socially? No. I know that's OK, and I'm not trying to wish something else for her. As long as she's happy, who cares what she's doing in how I'm wanting to look at it. But then there's the irrational worrywart in me that makes me think, "do the other kids not like her?" "Is she fun to be around" "Is she too shy in peer situations?" etc. etc. etc.

Sigh. This parenting stuff is hard.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Day 263.

This past year, our church has been going through some difficult discernment and so the past few months have felt much like an aftermath of a terrible tragedy. Today it felt like we had a fresh start, with a congregational meeting where we affirmed several new church leaders, and a fabulous sermon where our lead pastor encouraged us to see our struggle as...get this...a positive thing.

He left us with an incredible question to ponder. What if...

"What if we're exactly where we are supposed to be?"

I am grateful for God working in our lives.

Isn't that an amazing and important way to look at tough times, both on widespread and more personal levels? What if this hasn't been a totally negative thing we've been going through, but instead an incredible opportunity for spiritual growth, drawing us closer to God, and drawing us closer together?

What a beautiful opportunity to open ourselves more fully to God's will.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day 262.

We took the bus downtown this morning to see The Selfish Giant at the Harold Washington Library. Wow, it was good.

I am grateful for The Chicago Children's Theatre.

We went to a production of "If All the World Was Paper" earlier this year (I think - or was it last summer?) that the Chicago Children's Theatre put on and it was phenomenal. This also did not disappoint. The whole thing was sung by an older gentleman trading off between the guitar and the ukelele. He sang and told the story while the other guy on stage did all (repeat ALL) of the acting/puppeteering/stage setting. It was so cool. The Selfish giant is based on a story by Oscar Wilde.

The story is described on The Children's Theatre's website as:
"Original puppets and music tell the story of a grumpy old giant who forbids the children in his village from playing in his beautiful garden. After the children are locked out, the trees and flowers refuse to grow and the garden plunges into an eternal winter. Then one morning, the children sneak back into the garden, bringing with them the joyous rebirth of spring."

Our kids had a blast (although I'm skeptical how much was actually understood listening to the whole story in song), and Jason and I were thoroughly entertained. I hope to attend many more productions by this innovative company while my kids are still little. What a great opportunity we have living in Chicago.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Day 261.

First of many "back to school" pics to come. Growing up, my family always took a first day of school picture in front of the front door as we were leaving for school. I always knew that was something I wanted to do for my own kids. It's so fun to look back at those and see how much you grow from year to year.

I am grateful to have survived this "first week."

From preschool starting (2.5 hours today...all by herself...and we both cried), to violin starting, to ballet starting back up again, we've been busy. I've felt in over my head many times. A few times I've thought, WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING to myself as I headed out to yet another activity. But, it's all good stuff. And we still have more than half of each day at home, playing and enjoying each other's company. It just means that we can't gallivant around as much as we used to - heading out for day long trips to random museums, spontaneously heading to the park for hours on end. That might be over, and more planning might replace it. Lucky for us, planning is my middle I think we'll be OK.

Day 260.

Thursday, September 17, 2009.

I love having a shared backyard in this city condo. It makes the lack of private backyard a little more tolerable. I'd much rather have a lush, large yard where I could grow veggies (in the sun) and a deck to grill out and eat on. My kids love to run, and open private space would be so incredible. But I don't have that.

I am grateful for my backyard.

We spent some time in the backyard this morning, and it was really fun! The special thing about city backyards is that we live within steps of so many other people. There is always a lot going on in our alley, in the condos around us, and today was no exception. Our next door neighbors (not in our building) were out, and they have a five year old son. Drew and his mom were on the porch and because we were out, he came over and played on our swingset for awhile. Fun to be able to have spontaneous 20-minute playdates. That probably wouldn't happen if we were playing in a private enclosed backyard of our own. Let's enjoy the city for a while longer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Day 259.

Day one of real preschool. Well, Ok, it was only an hour long (and real real preschool is 3 hours long). But, she did it mostly by herself. I stayed in the hall, and she had been saying for the last week she couldn't WAIT until she went by herself and I wasn't in there. I was thrilled with this new change of attitude, but admittedly skeptical that it would all pan out so easily.

First, can we just take a moment to acknowledge the choke-you-up moment that happens when your baby goes to school for the first time. This isn't sunday school. This is SCHOOL - preschool, yes, but real life school! Dylan, I can't believe you are old enough to do this (where did the last 4.5 years go?), while at the same time you are so old and so ready. You amaze me hourly with the maturity of your conversation, the brilliancy of your interpretations...of other people and the world around you. Every monday, wednesday and friday, for three hours, I will miss the bright light that you shine in Noah's and my life. Sometimes you drive us crazy, but mostly you just make our world a happier, funner, more interesting place. You are so full of pure life. Thankfully, you asked me tonight at the dinner table if I would go to college with you, so I guess you won't be leaving me too soon. :)

So, back to today, when we were heading into the preschool building. We hadn't really talked much about the separation yet, on purpose, and so I wasn't sure what we were in for. About 10 steps from the door, holding my hand she said: "I think I might be a little nervous." (Inside my head: Really? That's great, cause so am I, babe.) We talked about how I was nervous going to preschool by myself and how it ended up being so much fun and I got to do a lot of cool stuff and make some really great new friends. That seemed to suffice.

We did the washing hands and entering the classroom routine and I stayed for a few minutes, but apparently I was talking to the other parents too much? She promptly asked me to leave and "go in the hall" - as I had planned to do. So, I told the teachers Dylan's request and went out. I was planning to go to the preschool playground with Noah (right outside the building), but when I mentioned to Dylan that's where I'd be, she didn't like that idea. She said I had to PROMISE I would stay in the hallway. Small hint of panic in the tone of voice. Of course I promised.

About 5 minutes later she ran out of the room with a sandwich she had made for me in the play kitchen. I wanted to take it and eat it and tell her how good it was and ask for some more...afterall, that's how we do things at home, right? Well, the teacher was soon to follow, and I suggested that Dylan serve the sandwich to one of her friends in the class. I took a pretend bite, walked her back into the classroom and said a swift goodbye. I heard a small discussion going on about how the children need to stay in the classroom...afterall this is school (and afterall, please don't lose my child because she keeps running out after me!)

About 10 minutes later, Dylan appeared again. This time the teacher was with her, and Dylan was wearing a fur shawl around her neck. She was playing with it nervously, and Miss Laura said, "Dylan needed to say hi to her mommy." So, I held back the tears as my first born comically told me: "Mom, I'm done here."

Miss Laura was great and coaxed her back inside, keeping it light and playful with words of "Yeah, we're almost done" (yeah..only 40 minutes to go in the class...ALMOST done...) and "Mommy will wait right out there for us."

And she didn't come out again. No tears. No real meltdowns. But maybe that would be easier...seeing her emotions on her sleeve instead of wondering what she's thinking/worrying about/nervous about.

I am grateful for child-led problem solving.

We sat at dinner and she told me she didn't think she wanted to go back to preschool. We talked about why she was nervous, and I didn't get much out of her on that subject. But, she requested that we come up with a list of ways she could help herself not be so nervous (which I feel like means sad, scared, worried, timid, all of the above...) at school.

I got a pad of paper and a pencil and I wrote down every suggestion that she approved - whether it was mine, hers or even Noah's (although none of his got approved - they mostly revolved around playing with a soccer ball...).

She decided she should take this list with her to school, so she could remember what to do if she got nervous.

I have to document it here, because otherwise I might forget this special exercise forever.

If Dylan gets nervous at preschool she could...
- Jump up and look for a spot where kids aren't there so I can just play alone (hers)
- Bring a stuffed animal to go cuddle (mine)
- Pull the hair on my eyebrow for a little bit (hers - first she said "pull on my eyelashes" and I promptly reminded her that eyelashes will come out if you pull too hard...and maybe unnecessarily freaked her out about that...but geeesh, her beautiful long eyelashes!)
- Go find Calvin & Kyla to play with (combo of hers and mine...Calvin she knows already and Kyla is in violin with her as well as preschool so she's seen her a few more times than the other kids)
- Make friends with Myla, who's also shy (mine)
- Lay down on the rug and rest for a little bit (hers)
- Help someone that is crying & ask them "Do you want to play with me?" (joint effort)
- Practice hugging God (hers)

I'll just end this emotional post (cause yeah, I'm bawling about now...) by sharing that at bedtime, she wondered how she could hug God, and I suggested maybe she could wrap her arms around herself and God would feel it. She then got off of the bed and showed me how she would do it (making sure no one at school was looking, she said). She got down on her knees and lifted both hands up into the air and just beamed.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Day 258.

Tonight was group lesson and parent night at Suzuki. I'm so overwhelmed with relief after feeling totally skeptical yesterday - not skeptical about Suzuki, but wondering if Dylan could be a "good student." I feel so ashamed even saying that, because Dylan is so amazingly wonderful...and I hate feeling embarrassed over my children.

I am grateful for the "method."

Suzuki is not traditional music training. Suzuki looks at learning music as learning a mother tongue: as learning another whole language. It's through immersion, repetition, listening, modeling, affirmation (and so much more) that you truly wrap yourself fully in the musical training.

In the group class, the wonderful teacher emphasized that the children could do WHATEVER they were comfortable with. If that meant gripping your leg and sitting in your lap for the whole hour, then that's totally OK. What a relief! Dylan started out doing just that, and by the end, she was dancing with me and even cracking a smile.

In the parent class, more assurance that this was going to be just fine. The teacher emphasized what they expect from the child: only to be a child. That means whatever it means for each individual kid. No expectations are set for the children - which is amazing for that kind of disciplined method.

This is going to work so well with Dylan. She craves one on one time with me, and she's going to get lots of it through this training. The parent is the teacher's assistant. I am so excited to start this journey with Dylan, and to make this fun for her will be a really cool challenge that I'm completely ready to accept.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Day 257.

Dylan's first violin lesson. It started off well with her shy, but giggling. Interacting with the teacher, but looking often to me for reassurance.

Then the shyness disappeared and tiredness and laziness set in. Ugghhh.

I am grateful for biting my tongue.

She went through the motions of rest position, statue of liberty, foot positions, etc. But when the teacher started to adjust her chin to try to get her to put her jaw in the right place, she began the classic "Hilary eye roll." Really? I didn't know she had inherited that. C.R.A.P.

She would roll her eyes during the adjustment seemingly saying, "Geeesh, you are really annoying me right now. Seriously...stop...wouldya lady?"

I was mortified. She caught my eye and twice I tried to give her a look that said "Don't do that Dylan..." At one point I even mouthed "Stop rolling your eyes." But then she called out "Mommy, WHAT?" Ok, I'm shutting up.

So, I held my tongue and let the rest of the lesson proceed. The teacher tried to engage as much as possible, but she had her hands full. That being said, I have to say a little about where Dylan was coming from. You see, she really was exhausted. She had a long weekend full of sleeplessness with the camping trip. Giving up her nap, she now crashes daily around 5-6pm (the lesson was at 5:00). She's getting over a cold which makes her more cranky and tired. And on top of it all, she's seen me play violin. She wants to just PLAY. So, standing there and doing foot positions and naming parts of the violin was really frustrating for her (or so I'm presuming). At the end of the lesson she confided in me, "I just really want to pluck it!"

I think Dylan summed up her exhaustion well in the car on the ride home. She questioned, "Did you see that mommy how I almost fainted in there? I was that tired, I almost fainted!"

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 256.

Sunday, September 13, 2009.

I am grateful for my snuggly kids.

We just got back from the Lombard Mennonite Church Retreat at Camp Menno Haven. We had a blast, the weather was awesome, and the company was divine. So fun.

And we camped. I already wrote a post in late July about camping, and I did admit that I liked it and recommended it. But when it came down to it, I was dreading this weekend. I didn't want to camp - I wanted to sleep in a real bed. And so I panicked and called all the hotels in nearby Princeton to see if we could get a room. No dice.

So, we camped. And it was actually fun!! Jason, bless his heart, set up and took down the tent without my help. All I had to do was watch the kids, which was a pretty good trade off if you ask me. So, all I had to do was crawl in and sleep - on an air mattress that was kindly donated to me by the MacGregors - family friends at church. It was a single size, so I figured I'd be sleeping on it alone...right?

Wrong. By 3am, Noah was on there with me, and by 5am, so was Dylan. She was also INSIDE my sleeping bag. With. Me. Really?

My kids were so good though. Even though I was smashed like peanut butter on a sandwich between them, they went back to sleep without a fuss. They just snuggled up to my face, tickling me with their hair, and they closed their eyes.

I might not feel rested this morning, but I am happy.

Day 255.

Saturday, September 12, 2009.

We are late everywhere. At least that's what I always feel. I feel the rush. Why am I always in a hurry? I don't want my kids to feel an unnecessary need to rush. That is something I do not want to pass on. I'll hear Dylan say, "Oh no! We're going to be late! They are going to close!" (even for the grocery store or something equally unimportant), and I am ashamed. Instead of rushing, I need to just plan to leave 10 minutes before I really need to. Today,

I am grateful for leaving on time.

We aimed to leave for Camp Menno Haven at 11:00. We pulled out of our parking spot at 11:03. I think, pretty good. Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty good.

Day 254.

Friday, September 11, 2009.

September 11th. Yeah, you're right - this post is about 9/11. Choose to not read if you wish, but it is what it is.

I can remember exactly what I was doing the morning of September 11th, 2001. My college roommate Emily and I went on a run together on the prairie path in Goshen, IN. It was a beautiful sunny fall morning and we were trying to get on the right track with exercise our Senior year of college. It was fun. Low key. So normal.

And then I got to school and was checking my email and I had received an email from my host parents from my recent Study Service Term in Costa Rica. They were desperately asking if I was OK. Did you survive the attack? You see, they don't really get where Goshen, IN is...and how close it is to NYC.

I am grateful for tough memories.

One might think it would be nice to only have a capacity for happy memories. To forget all the bad stuff that happens to you, your family, or in the world. But that's not how it works, and so bad memories are intermingled with the good.

I can think off-hand of many bad memories: finding out I didn't get a promised choir award in high school, my grandfather's death, seeing my grandmother's mind taken completely by alzheimers, the scary hours after Noah's uncertain birth. These are really tough moments for me. Yet, there are really two ways I can look at them. As tragic and horrible, or as learning moments and opportunities for hope. I can't help but choose the later. These are defining moments in my life. Would I change them if I could? Of course I'd bring back my grandpa Joe for a few more years of interaction with that amazing man. Of course I'd rather have Noah live his life without the hardship of bladder exstrophy. But, am I still grateful? You betcha.

I'm grateful for caring enough about choir and music that the award meant something to me. I'm grateful I had a grandfather so incredible in the first place. I'm grateful that my grandmother was so clever and so funny, that her mind was a very sad thing to lose. I'm grateful that my little boy was born at all, and that we had the modern medicine at our disposal to keep him alive - I'm grateful that we had health insurance.

So tough memories such as 9/11 don't have to be all bad. They can inspire, give us hope, and help us to remember that life's not all peachy. And then the little good things are even better.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Day 253.

I am grateful for social hour.

Today was the first day we met some of the other parents at Dylan's preschool (dubbed K.A.M. Social Hour). How nice to be able to see some familiar faces from the neighborhood and think..."this is going to be OK!" Dylan and Noah had a blast...playing mainly on the indoor wooden play structure (complete with fun slide) and eating popsicles together - all the students got one - and they were kind enough to let Noah join in on the fun.

I can see that there might be a problem next week when Noah realizes for SURE that Dylan is going to preschool and he is not. Afterall, this was fun stuff today. Hmmm...more on that later, I'm sure.

Day 252.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009.

Dear Nora Anne,

This morning you became my third niece, and the littlest edition to the Breeze Troyer family. I am so happy and excited for your parents, because they have another little human being to love in their household. I'm happy for your older and sister and brother, because they have a wonderful new little sister to take care of, make fun of, boss around and play with (yes, I was the youngest). But if I'm permitted to be selfish for one little moment (because I know this day is not at all about me), I do have this:

I am grateful to be your aunt, baby Nora.

And this time around (unlike my other niece and nephew on the Breeze side), I am grateful to be an aunt without also having my own baby coming in a few months. I am grateful to be an aunt without having my own needy newborn to distract me. I get to just be your aunt and nothing else.

We will always have a special bond, sharing "Anne" together as our middle name. I am honored that your parents chose this for you.

In two weeks I get to come visit you and I can hardly stand the wait. I have butterflies thinking about seeing you for the first time. I picture what you will look like, feel like, sound like, and I am filled with joy.

You are a blessing in our family, and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life as your aunt!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Day 251.

I love going places. As I get older and now have kids, I do see the merit in spending time at home, but I have always loved being out. Out to dinner, out for a walk, out to shop, out to get ice cream. Out.

I do love taking my kids fun places - as I have mentioned before in this blog - I love to take them places so I get away from my own house where I feel compelled to "do stuff" instead of play with them. "Out," I'm free to play and be a better mom.

I am grateful for outing companions.

Outings are great, but companions (adult companions that is) make them even better. This morning Jeanie and I took the kids to the Champaign mall - for something to do. They rode the carousel (twice), played at the mall playground, went on the Kiddie Coaster (really just a little car you sit in and it rocks back and forth with a big screen displaying what a real roller coaster view is like), and then we ate lunch at a yummy new mexican place in town. Fun outing! Then, after Noah's nap, my mom and I took the kids to Curtis Orchard, where we played, bought apples, apple cider slushies, and apple cider donuts. Noah liked the slushy best. Dylan liked the sugared donut best. I liked the company best.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Day 250.

Ahhh, home. And not my home in Chicago, which I love, but Champaign.

I am grateful for Champaign.

Champaign will always be my hometown, no matter how long I live away from here. It is a wonderful town of a wonderful size and a wonderful couple named Cindy and Clark live there. (They are my parents for those who don't know me so well). We haven't been to their house in a few months I realized - which is ridiculous. We only live 2.5 hours away. Dylan has been begging to come down here for the last month. So, we finally did it. It was spontaneous (well, planned at the end of last week which is about as spontaneous as I get with trips), and that made it more fun. I realized it was the last time we could go down for awhile during the week without missing preschool. That's weird for me - to be tied to home because of my child's school?! Where has time gone? But that's not at all what my post is about. That can be later.

For today, I'm grateful for Champaign. For the way the drive down 57 morphs from being urban scenery to vaste farmland. For the Prairie Gardens billboards I can count on seeing if I exit University Ave. For the familiar streets that I imagine driving down in high school in my ford escort wagon. For the happy faces on my children as I pull into the driveway and they run to meet their grandparents. This is why I come home. It will always be home.

Day 249.

Sunday, September 6, 2009.

I am grateful for comfortable jeans.

What a lame thing to be grateful for today. But, I had on a pair of comfortable jeans today (yeah, I wore them to church), and it really made my day better. There were lots of other wonderful things about today - the worship service at church, talking with church friends, time at the Rhodes, dinner with family, etc. But I've used all those already. So, I went a little selfish today. But, if I'm comfortable, I'm probably nicer to people, smiling more, etc. So everyone wins.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Day 248.

Dylan got her new violin today. We had a condo yard sale in the backyard, and she went with Jason to pick it up/get sized by the rental company we are using. She came back holding her little case and I got all teary seeing her walk in like that.

I am grateful for little memories.

I don't know how far she'll go with violin. Maybe she'll only take one semester. Maybe she'll play until she's 15. Maybe she'll play her whole life and be a concert violinist. For today, it doesn't really matter, for this one little memory will be stuck in my head forever. She looked old. Really old. And in a good, confident, happy way. And so I will always remember my little 4.5 year old girl who grew up a little bit more when she got her first violin.

Day 247.

Friday, September 4, 2009.

I am a talker. Anyone who is willing to have a conversation with me, well, I take them up on it. So, my kids have grown up in a very verbal household. Afterall, they are who I see all day - so we talk. A lot.

All this talking leads to the discovery of new words, and hopefully a well-rounded vocabulary for them. I don't claim to have a very good vocabulary myself (always something my parents joked about with me), but I am at least above a four year old's capacity.

Lately, it's fun to watch as Dylan incorporates new words she just learned into her daily life. She really wants to use the new vocab, so she tests it out. In very cute ways.

I am grateful for new vocabulary.

Today was this one:

Dylan: "What does prefer mean?" (note - I didn't just use this word - it was obviously something she was saving up to ask)
Me: It means that you would choose one thing over the other, that you like one thing better than another. For example, if I prefer green beans to peas, I would rather eat green beans than peas.
Dylan (mind working, smiling a big grin): Do you prefer if I die?
Me: Dylan! Of course not. Uggh, don't even say that! I prefer that you live.
Dylan: Do you prefer if I swim far far away?
Me: No, I'd rather you stay here.
Dylan (still smiling): Do you prefer if I jump over a rock and get really hurt?
Me: No.

5 minutes pass with random chit-chat.

Dylan (very excited): Guess what? I prefer if I watch TV more.
Me: Yes, I bet you do.

I guess she understands the usage.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 246.

I don't know how much I mention my Bradley teaching, but I teach natural childbirth classes every Thursday night. I took off the month of August and started back up teaching tonight. I just finished 30 minutes ago and I'm on a teaching high.

I am grateful for exceeded expectations.

I usually have pretty high expectations overall in my life. So routinely, I end up disappointed. So with my Bradley classes, I have expectations there too. I email and talk with future couples and never know what they'll be like in person until the first night. This series, I had low expectations. It's unnecessary to go into the details of why I thought this, but I just didn't get a good meshing vibe.

Yay, I was wrong! The first class went great and everyone really gelled well together. It was really fun. I just kept thinking, THIS is why I'm doing this. I felt passionate and even occasionally articulate (which I NEVER am in the first class...always a little too nervous to be well-spoken). It was a good night, and I'm grateful for that.

I am also grateful I kicked my butt into high gear all day and cleaned up a lot of spaces in the house that needed decluttering. And my kids played pretty nicely all day. I took breaks to play with them, take them outside, play games, read books, make meals, etc. and it was pretty seamless!! Love having a two and four-year old!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 245.

I have a really bad habit of half-listening to my children. See, they talk ALL. DAY. LONG. So, if I want to get anything done around here, say cooking dinner, dishes, laundry, Bradley prep...well I have to half-listen, cause most likely they are still talking to me. Asking me questions. Showing me tricks they can do. Wanting me to play with them. I don't feel so bad about it when I'm really doing something productive or important, but this habit which stemmed from necessity has taken over a bit. See, I could be reading someone's blog, catching up on email, or doing something equally as time-wasting. I don't HAVE to be doing it right then and there. And then my child tries to get my attention or tell me a story and I nod and half-listen. Then, I get caught because I am quizzed about the just-mentioned story. And I fail. Follow my regret for not paying attention and their frustration that I didn't hear them...again.

Ugghhh. It's really not something I'm proud of. And I want to change. We could all do a little more listening and a little less talking, don't you think? So today, I voiced this concern to Dylan, and I'm hoping by telling her, I will feel more motivation to change.

I am grateful for admitting fault to your children.

I told her I was sorry for not being a very good listener to her sometimes. And she said, "Why are you saying this to me?" She didn't understand where it was coming from out of the blue. So, I elaborated and she got it. I told her, "What you have to say is important to me, so I want to make sure I am paying attention. I'm going to try and do better." She said, "Thank you."

And that was pretty much it. It was such a grown-up conversation. And she totally held me accountable - not 10 minutes later when I was playing "ponies and people have a carnival" with both of them she looked at me with a knowing glance that said, "Haven't we talked about this already?" and said "Mom, you're not listening to me..." The funny thing was, NO, I wasn't listening to her. But it wasn't because I was selfishly diving into facebook. Her brother was talking too, so I could really only listen to one story line at a time.

I hope she cuts me a little slack. And I hope I can truly change.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 244.

Fall is definitely in the air. First day of school for Jason, so that means first day of stay-at-home mommy world again. I have to admit I've been in denial about this day for the last few weeks. It just seemed hard to believe it was coming...already. The summer has flown by with all the busy traveling that we've been immersed in. So, we missed daddy today. But, we had a really great morning meeting to attend to. We met with the director of Dylan's preschool and she and Noah got to play in her preschool room for 30 minutes. Priceless.

I am grateful for preschool excitement.

For a girl who "quit" preschool (according to her) about a month ago, she has certainly changed her tune. She cannot wait to start school. I'm not sure if it's just the severe mommy phase is over, or if it's that her dear friend Calvin is coming back to this class and will be with her, or what it is. But, she's excited and that's all I care about. She reminds Noah on a daily (or more) basis how he won't be going to school with her - and how it's REALLY fun there. Luckily, he doesn't seem to care. I was borderline scolding her for rubbing that in his face, but thanks to my sister, I realized she's totally doing that as a coping mechanism. Each time she tries to make him feel bad, she's really jut convincing herself that it will actually be great, so she doesn't have to be worried/scared/nervous.

I guess, in a way, I'm doing the same thing. I'm talking lots about preschool in a really positive light - to her and to others. And it IS great. But really, I think I'm so vocal because I'm in the process of convincing myself that I'm ready to let go of my firstborn and take her to school!