Thursday, May 27, 2010

Wordless Wednesday on Thursday...

...because I took the pictures and forgot yesterday was Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The summer I fell in love with Peoria - Take Two

photo taken by one of my students - J. Karcher

Most of my friends know about the summer two years ago that I titled "The Summer I Fell in Love With Peoria."  I had spent the previous summer in San Francisco at school, and knew that the next summer I would have a little boy to raise, so I decided to make the most of it.  It all started because I was teaching at the end of the school year and a group of students were really slamming P-town and how lame it was.  Then it dawned on me.....I CHOOSE to live here.  Sure, 7.5 years ago my husband drug me here in a tearful car ride from Ohio after our return from our honeymoon, but since then he hasn't been able to get me to leave.  I love my friends here - I love his friends here.  I love having his family close by, and I love my job.  It was time for me to fall in love with the city I lived in. 
photo taken by m. warren

The summer started out great - I had a whole list of things to do and a highlighted calendar of activities.  It turns out that Peoria is a fabulous city for art, food, wine, and music lovers - and I'm guilty of loving all four.  I hit up legendary restaurants that I had always just talked about going to.  I drug my friends to vineyard concerts, and Dustin and I even went to the Monday night 50 cent movie in the park.  I didn't even puncture the surface of my list though - because I made a big decision about halfway through the summer.  I decided to open a business.  I won't go into the details of the business - that's for another post on another day.  What I will tell you is that it consumed my life and left me with a bitter taste about the area I live in. 
photo taken by t. abreu

So a year after the business has closed, and with new intentions, I plan to fall in love with Peoria all over again.  This time I'm going to see it through to the end.  This time I'm going to blog about my adventures.  And this time I'm going to drag my children, husband, and friends along for the ride.  So if you are reading this, and living in the area, and call youself my friend, consider yourself invited to the second official SIFILWP tour.  Trust me, it's going to be the ride of a lifetime. :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The terrific twos.

Yesterday Miles turned the big "2"..... and for some reason it totally caught me off guard.  Sure, I knew it was his birthday, but I forgot that it meant I would move up the ranks to being a mother of a two year old. 

What it means to be a mom of a two year old boy.....
  • If you're going out for a "night out" you have to wait until the last minute to put on your favorite crisp white shirt.
  • You learn how to get every stain in the book out of little miniature t-shirts.
  • When walking through stores you will have to make an entire loop just to avoid walking past the toy cars and trucks.
  • Everytime you see a riding lawn mower you will HAVE to sit on it.
  • You must lock the door when you go to the restroom.
  • You must remind guests to lock the door when using above mentioned restroom.
  • When showering, you must either lock the bathroom door, or be prepared for the blast of cold air that will come through when the shower curtain gets jerked open unexpectedly.
  • You learn to read faces.
  • You have cat-like reflexes.
  • You do things you never imagined yourself doing. (i.e. cheering someone on to go "potty", singing and clapping really loudly to avoid an unscheduled nap, and wiping someone else's nose with your own bare fingers.)
  • You get excited about really weird stuff.
  • You really hesitate before putting something on the floor, or anywhere within reaching distance of a miniature person.
  • You can function on little sleep.
  • You will do anything to preserve that 1.5-2.5 hours of naptime, including shooting dirty looks through your window to your neighbor who likes to weed-wack his lawn in the dead heat of 1:30ish - every other day.
  • You learn that you actually like spaghettios.
  • You actually forget that you've been sitting on a gift certificate for a free pedicure for nearly 6 months, when two years ago you would have used it the day after you receive it.
  • You buy every truck and car book you can find from Scholastic, and then complain about having so many books about cars and trucks.
  • You daydream about what your little guy is doing at home without you.
  • You stop washing your hair regularly because there are more interesting and pressing things to do after 8 pm than spending 5 minutes washing your hair.
  • You go to the zoo.
  • You see a potential babysitter in every well behave teenage girl that enters your classroom.
  • You spend a lot of time gluing toys back together, sewing animals back together, or taping books back together.
  • You know A LOT of children's songs and start to remember all of the ones you forgot as a child.
  • You pretty much forget what your life was like before you had to do and know all of these things.

Now on to the good stuff.....

Liam:  "Oh my goodness brother, I'm so excited you're two!"

    Monday, May 24, 2010

    Movie Monday: 2 is better than 1

    Saturday, May 22, 2010

    The five month milestone....

    I realize that most new parents don't really see 5 months as a "milestone".  Usually you get baby photos taken around 3 months or 6 months.  You don't often hear about people celebrating the 5 months milestone.  I celebrate it.  I may not throw a big party or send out 5-month-old announcements, but I celebrate it to myself.  I've been waiting patiently for Liam to get to this age, while trying my best to soak up the time I had with him previous to it.  I'm not sure why this is such a milestone to me, except that it is the first opportunity I get to compare my boys.  I know that it isn't always healthy to compare your children, but I mean more in a physical sense.....maybe I even mean that I'm comparing my experiences with them.  This is the first picture we saw of Miles.  We were blessed to receive many pictures of him pre-5 months after we brought him home, but this is the photo is the first time I laid eyes on him.  I had to take one of Liam to compare.
    There's really no comparison when you think about it.  These two boys couldn't be more different - in looks and personality.  The amazing thing to me - the thing that leaves me completely in awe - is how each of them can fit into our family so perfectly.  Each is an intrinsic part of us.  And I can't help but dream that for the rest of their lives they will fit perfectly together, and perfectly with us.

    On a side note...I really wish I had access to the little red throne for Liam's 5 month picture. :)

    Thursday, May 20, 2010

    What was lost has been found...

    Anyone who knows Miles well knows who "monkey" is.  The two have been inseparable ever since we brought Miles home over a year ago.Three days ago we lost monkey.  We thought he was gone for good.  We looked high and low for him.  We even called Target and had them post our number with a description of monkey in case he was turned in.  We were getting desperate.  Then, nearly 12 hours later Ele, our nanny, simply asked Miles where monkey was.  Miles walked right to his riding car, lifted the seat, and pulled out his dear friend.  Apparently we just didn't ask the right questions before.  I know this seems like it isn't a big deal, and the truth of the matter is that Miles really didn't seem to mind that he was gone that much. Sure, he spent a lot of time "looking" for him with us, but it may have just been a stalling tactic for bedtime. What I realized is that monkey might mean more to me.
    I realized this about the time I hung up with the clerk at Target and thought that monkey was gone forever.  I had to compose myself because the thought of it just made me so sad.  Monkey was given to us by my brother Isaac when we got our referral for Miles.  Monkey was in the care package that we sent to him before we ever met him.  Monkey was with him in his home in Korea, and it was the only toy that followed him all of the way home to us.  Monkey has been through a lot - including a new nose, new stuffing, and even a brief bath in the toilet.  But monkey is our one tangible connection to Miles' foster home.  I imagine his foster mother presenting it to him for the first time.  I imagine the two of them playing with it together.  I remember watching him chew on the nose on our car ride to the hotel after a tearful goodbye.  And I remember him crawling around our house with monkey's nose clenched between his teeth the first weeks he was home.  I know monkey is just a "thing", but to me - to our family - he is so much more.

    Wednesday, May 19, 2010

    Monday, May 17, 2010

    Movie Monday: Long lost footage.

    I was looking at the movies on the camera today when I found a recording that I never actually had seen before. Apparently Dustin recorded a little bit of Miles and Liam in the morning after I had gone to work. I thought it was pretty cute, and also a little revealing.

    What I learned from this movie.....
    1. Dustin left Liam unattended on the diaper table. I'll let it go though because it is from many weeks ago before he could actually roll over. I mean, it's okay if I do it, but.....well, you know what I'm saying.
    2. Miles needs to learn the actual NAMES of animals and not just the sound they make.
    3. My boys are pretty darn charming (okay, I already knew that)
    4. Nothing productive happens after I leave in the morning.

    Saturday, May 15, 2010


    Dear Miles,
    Today I talked to you on the phone, and your first word was "Oh?" (which is your word for "hello" when you're playing with my phone).  And then you proceeded to say "Bike" because you were outside with Grandpa playing with a tricycle.  I know this doesn't seem like much, but it is the first time you've ever talked on the phone rather than listening blankly and trying frantically to push the buttons.  I just wanted to let you know that it made my day, and that as much as I want you to start talking more to us, I also want you to stop growing up so fast.  If you could manage that I'd really appreciate it.  Thanks, Your mom  xoxox

    Sunday, May 9, 2010

    foster mom.

    Today I've been thinking a lot about Miles' foster mother.  I hope that she knows we are thinking of her today on Mother's Day and we are so thankful for her.  Thank you for loving Miles Mrs. Y.  I'm sure he misses you and we hope that he can see you again.

     Happy Mother's Day!

    my mom.

    For mothers day I thought I would write about the first mother I ever own mom.  In fact, I feel like I am always the one doing the talking of my siblings as my brothers are generally men of few words.  I thought I'd start out my post by pasting in things that they wrote about our mother.

    Isaac (21 years old):
    I have this vague memory of when mom would comfort me by wrapping me in a
    comforter and swinging me on the porch swing at night. (Probably when I
    was too old to be held) I also remember her playing "catch" (baseball)
    with me when no one else was around to play with. I love how she never
    missed a basketball or a baseball game (that I can remember).  I love that
    I can go to her about anything by starting "Promise me you wont get mad
    but..." and she doesnt get mad.  Im grateful that she has a sense of humor
    and that she has been able to support me through any situation.

    Specifically I remember how harsh I may have been to her as a high
    schooler and how I realize that she did not deserve that attitude.  She
    deserved all of the love that her youngest child could possibly give her
    and it took me a while to realize that.  She spent every second of the
    last 22 years showing compassion, kindness and love to me, and for that,
    she means more to me than I could ever explain.

    Collin (29 years old):
    Trying to come up with a special story about Mom sounds easy, in fact, I thought it could be done on a whim.  Unfortunately, for me this is not the case.  As I think about my childhood, all the general things about Mom come to mind.  She was always there for us.  Supported us in anything we wanted to try.  Both parents made the sacrifices they needed so we could take advantage of any opportunity that came our direction.  Obviously all these things are good and make Mom very special to me.  But the detailed memories are a bit harder.

    The first memories that come to mind are the embarrassing moments.  I can't count the times I heard her high pitched "WOO WOO WOO WOO!" as a boy when she caught me in my underwear just because she knew I was self conscious about the whole thing.  Or the number of teachers, coaches, and even a Dean who pulled me aside to tell me that they talked to my mother (not because they were disappointed in me, but because Mom was disappointed in them).  I could talk about the time Mom let out a belch on a small raft in the grand canyon with a couple of other families squeezed on there with us.  The belch wasn't as bad as her giggling that followed.  Sure, it was an accident, but why couldn't she pretend like nothing had happened like the rest of us?  All these moments were devastating at the time, and that might be why these memories come to mind first.  In hindsight they were pretty innocent, and certainly this does not explain what makes Mom really special.  For me, that story evolves as I remember the times I've seen her cry.

    Some of the largest steps I have taken in life, I remember looking over and seeing the tears in my Mothers eyes.  It not only reminds me of how big the leap was for me personally, but also how big it was for her.  My wedding comes to mind.  I remember looking down at Mom's teary eyes (tears of joy, I hope) as I was taking Becca's hand in marriage.  Years before that, as a freshmen eager to test the waters of being on my own, Mom and Dad at some point had to say goodbye.  Now over 10 yrs ago, much of the opening weekend at Hesston is hard to remember.  Saying goodbye to my parents and a teary eyed mother is crystal clear.  These memories, just to name a few, remind me of how tough it must be to be a parent.  It also tells me how much of her heart and soul she must have put into us and our futures.  For that, I am forever thankful.  Happy Mother's Day. (I know I said that they were men of few words, but it looks as though Collin's been saving them all up for this post. :))

    Aaron (32 years old)
    What sets mom apart for me was what she did for us as children.  I've never seen another mom that plays baseball out in the yard with her children or builds snowmen in the wintertime in the front yard when there are probably a million other things she could be doing.  That was my mom.  She did those things because she loved us and wanted to spend time with us.  She loved me even when I was hard to love.

    There you go Mom....I know it's hard to get my brothers to talk about their feelings sometimes, but that is my mothers day gift to you....a compilation of their feelings.  I know you're probably crying by now so I won't add much.  Last weekend you told me that I am a good mom.  I'm only as good of a mother as has been demonstrated for me.  Thank you for being our mom.

    Thursday, May 6, 2010

    My favorite part of today...

    Today was a crummy day.  I overslept, was frazzled all day, had horrible experiences with student laziness, and dreaded coming home to an evening of being a single parent while Dustin was teaching a night class.  I really didn't think anything could salvage today....but I was wrong.

    My favorite parts of today (which all happened after 4pm)

    * I got a call that a proof of my students' fine arts journal was ready for me to look at. (the thought of this not getting done in time was consuming me.)  And it looked Awe-some.
    * I ordered a pizza for dinner for Miles and I and then topped it off with ice cream.
    * The pictures below are from tonight when Miles couldn't decide whether he wanted to look at a "Runners World" magazine (his latest obsession), or watch the three lawn mowers that were all going at once across the street.  He realized he could do both. :)

    * Miles all of the sudden tried to say a bunch of new words tonight - for example, "soccer, helicopter, magazine, pizza, help, green" to name just a few.
    * We went on a walk to the park.  Watching Miles walk and run was so much fun.  I need to videotape him running because I LOVE the way he looks down at his feet when he's semi-running, semi-prancing.  It's like he thinks his shoes are magic.  It makes me giggle.
    * I got to read stories to BOTH of my boys at the same time.
    * Today I witnessed what I know as the first real interaction between my two boys in the bathtube.  Liam kept touching Miles' face and Miles kept laughing and looking at me after he would do it.  That does a mama's heart good.

    *  A nice man at the park saw Miles' soccerball envy and came over with a ball for Miles to kick.  It was so nice.
    *  Miles loves airplanes and we saw at least five tonight.
    *  My fishpond looked really good.
    *  My house has been really quiet for at least 1.5 hours, which has lead to great productivity (until I decided to blog)
    * Miles and Liam made me laugh like 30 times tonight between the two of them.  I love having such silly boys.

    I feel fortunate that today was salvaged.  If I'm honest I would say that I still have a bitter taste in my mouth from my pre-4pm experiences.  I wish I did a better job at living by my own mantra that"Life is too short", but I'm too tired to be a bigger person for now.  Luckily my children can bring out the best in me on days like today.  And even more luckily I have the night to sleep it off.  Tomorrow's a new day, and I'm sure there will be even more favorite parts of that day. 
    But until then I will leave you with my favorite picture from today....the first of what could be many.....a shot of Miles admiring his own muscles in the mirror (he'd fit right in with the guys at the gym :) - oh dear.)

    Wednesday, May 5, 2010

    Tuesday, May 4, 2010

    my baby brother

    This weekend Liam and I made the trek to Harrisonburg, Virginia to celebrate Isaac graduating from college.  It was a great weekend filled with laughter and fun, but it was also a short weekend.
    Liam and me getting ready to board the plane.

    We left Friday night from Chicago.  Liam did a great job on the plane sleeping the entire way, much to the VERY apparent relief of the man who was forced to sit next to me.  My parents picked us up from Washington D.C. and we drove down to Harrisonburg where we arrived late at night.  The next day we went to visit my aunt and uncle who semi-recently moved into a house that was built in the early 1700s.  There was so much history in their home and the land surrounding it.  There we spent the day enjoying the warm weather, great food, and delicious drinks while we just sat around and talked about funny things, serious things, and great things. 
    My Uncle Delmar and Aunt Joan in Edinburg, VA

    The next day was Isaac's graduation.  Right after graduation we had to fly home to Illinois, even though I wanted to stay and hang out with my awesome family some more.  Again, Liam was awesome on the flight.  Even though he was awake for most of it, he had a mini-mob of adoring fans by the end of the flight.  He was flashing smiles left and right, and I think I even saw him give the flight attendant a wink at one point.

    But that's beside the point...
    That's right, my baby brother graduated from college....magna cum laude of course. :)

    Almost 22 years ago my "older" brothers (Collin is actually a year younger than me, but everyone thinks he is older) and I had our world rocked by the birth of our baby brother.  We actually thought he was going to be a girl - my saving grace in a house full of testosterone.  Sure, I was disappointed when my mom and dad called from the hospital with the news of a new baby boy, but what I got in return was so much cooler.  I didn't realize how great our family was going to become because of this one tiny little addition.

    For those of you that don't know, my brother is something pretty special, and it's not just because he rocked the bowl cut for most of his childhood.  Everywhere he goes people love him.  Everything he does he is great at.  And everyone he meets he is kind to.  (Well, as far as his adoring older sister knows.)  I think he is going to be great someday and I hope that he does something great with all of the strengths he has.  I hope he becomes everything he wants to be while being true to himself.  As for now, he leaves for New Zealand tomorrow where he will be spending his summer. (Major bummer, huh?)

    I hope he comes back with the answers he wants and the renewed energy he needs.  I hope he knows how much his big sister loves him and how much we're all cheering for him.  Someday I know he'll do something great in the field he wants.  In the meantime I don't care if he comes back and bags groceries with his degree, because I know, like everything else, he would be great at it.

    And with that I'm going to leave you with one final word of wisdom I gathered from this weekend.  If you ever don't want anyone to sit near you on a flight, take a baby with you.....unless absolutely every other seat on the plane is already taken, everyone will walk past your row thinking that there has got to be a better option than the lady traveling alone with a baby.

    Monday, May 3, 2010

    Movie Monday - Dance Machine

    Some things you'll see....
    Miles and his new love of jumping.
    Liam and his new love for his walker.
    Liam getting down to Black Eyed Peas with a little help from his mom. :)