Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - sharing??????

or is it just a figment of the camera's imagination?

Dear Twenty-Year Old Self:

Dear 20-year-old Tiffany...
Hello young lady.  You have a lot of learning to do.  But in the meantime here are some things that might make the trip through these roads a little easier.

First of all, don't worry so much about whether you're going to get married young or not.  You will get married young to a wonderful man, but the thing is that you will have many friends that will get married much much later, and it will never seem as though they are too old to be "tying the knot."  Getting married out of college or not at all should be the least of your concerns.  And besides, that's a lame thing to worry about when you're so young.
Secondly, you've just started dating this guy that totally cracks you up.  I know you're totally obsessed with him right now, but there will be times when he might drive you crazy, or your feelings for him might drive you crazy.  Take a step back and be nice to him.  He will always be good to you, so always be good to him.
Thirdly, ask for help.  There is no reason to be the martyr and no one ever remembers your martyrdom nearly as well as you do.  Therefore, it is pretty much worthless.  It is ridiculous for you to do it all by yourself when you are surrounded by people that want to help you.
Fourthly, those friends you have right now that "adults" keep saying you will lose touch with?  They're wrong.  The friends you have now are going to be great friends for a long long time, so don't stress about the changes that are ahead.  Things like distance, volunteer service, marriage, and children are not going to change how cool you all are and how you fit into each other's lives perfectly everytime you are together.
Fifthly, you don't have to move somewhere drop-dead exciting right out of college in order to really live.  You don't need a big city to make your life shine.  You are perfectly capable of making the place you move to - no matter how ordinary - shine on its own.
Also, success comes in many different forms.  Recognize those forms and don't get sucked into the art world's, and society's, definitions of success.
And lastly - be open to ideas, people, places.  You are never too good for anything or anyone.  Open up your life to new things because those things are what will make your life beautiful.
Appreciate your family and friends.  Life is too short to put things off.  Lives will be cut short and people will leave.  Love them with everything you've got in the meantime.

And p.s. you will have an awesome family.

Sincerely, your 30-year-old self.

**Explanation:  I heard a report on NPR last night about a woman blogger named Cassie Boorn who has asked other bloggers in their 30s and 40s to write letters to their 20-year-old selves.  She has collected so many letters and uses them as valuable advice for herself as a 22-year-old single mother.  Read more about the report here and I invite my fellow bloggers to write a letter to their younger selves.  It is fun. :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday

To my sweet baby boys:

10 Things I Want You to Know About Your 30-years-old Mother
  1. I think friendship is important and I try my best to demonstrate to others how much their friendship means to me.  I'm not sure if I'm always successful, or are sometimes too subtle.  I hope that you someday find intense value in being a good friend to others.
  2. I dream of what you will someday be/do/love.
  3. I am crazy about your father.  And not just a little bit....a whole lot.
  4. You each have a certain cry that kills me.  Everytime I hear it, it takes every ounce of strength I can muster up not to just give in to you.
  5. I have dreams of my own that have absolutely nothing to do with you, except that I hope you can share in my joy when they come into fruition.
  6. I love my job, even when I say I don't like it and have a really bad day....I even love it then.
  7. Sometimes I wonder if other mothers could possibly love their children as much as I love you, and why more people don't talk about how overwhelming and consuming it can be.
  8. I hate doing things outside of my comfort zone, but once I do I realize that they aren't nearly as bad as I thought they were.
  9. My favorite color is green.
  10. When I put you to bed I always play my Pandora "Hymns" station.  It seems completely out of character for me, but something about singing along to the hymns of my childhood while putting you to sleep totally makes me happy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Movie Monday: A little movie medley

Other possible titles for this little gem....
I've Got Better Things to do with 5 Minutes of My Life
Liam's Love Affair with Food
I Swear I Dress My Children (When we leave the house)
Cubbie Bear in the Making
Future Tee Ball Grand Slammer
My Kid Figured Out My IPod Before I Did
the list goes on and on.....enjoy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

화이팅 (a.k.a. "fighting!")

This morning we are rooting for the South Korean team at the World Cup. Miles even got his World Cup 2010 jersey in time for the big game.  Even though the score as I write this is 2:1 in favor of Uruguay, we are really hoping for a big win!  Go South Korea!  Or as they say in S. Korea..... "fighting!"

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Monday, June 21, 2010

my dad.

(this post is a day late due to some internet issues we had last just pretend it is still Sunday) :)

The top thirteen things I love about my dad.
  1. He would never yell at me (except for that one time we were playing Rook and I was his partner - but that doesn't count).
  2. He always took a moment to tell me how proud he was of me.
  3. He loves my children and is a super grandpa.
  4. He used to take us kids rollerskating on Sundays afternoons - and he was a REALLY good rollerskater.
  5. He is good at everything he does.
  6. He gives really good advice - but usually not unsolicited advice...which is a good thing. :)
  7. He has always worked VERY hard and has still always found time for us kids.
  8. He and my mom taught us that life is more about experiences than things.
  9. He let us watch forbidden cartoons when mom was gone (although I think it was just because he didn't know any better - and we didn't correct him.)
  10. He isn't afraid to try new things or move to new countries. 
  11. He and my mom always encouraged us to try new things...even if said things cost them money.
  12. One time, he asked my mom to take photographs of all of his outfits that matched so he could just look at the pictures to figure out what to wear in the morning.  That still makes me smile.
  13. He demonstrated for me the type of man I wanted to marry, the type of father I wanted for my kids, and the type of marriage I wanted for myself. 
 Thank you dad for being a fantastic father.
i love you.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Saturday morning that is chalking up to be...

Why?  Here's the agenda for today....
First up....biking downtown to the farmer's market
Next you ask?....breakfast with a dear friend at a funky little place.
After that?.....biking uphill home (okay not-as-awesome, but good exercise so I don't have to run later....which IS awesome.)
What about later?....out to the farm for a photoshoot with the boys
And for dinner you ask? guarantees, but there is talk of a night out with friends.
And if that doesn't happen?....snuggling on the couch with my husband and watching bad movies from Redbox

Things not mentioned that are sure to happen throughout.....
  • a nap
  • flowerbox planning
  • possible photo editing
  • Steamboat festival in downtown P-town
  • Vacation planning
See?  I told you it would be awesome.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

All alone in a crowded room...

I know I'm not alone.  I have two little children - one babbling, and the other one "talking" to remind me of that constantly.  And my job is easy.  Assignment: be a stay-at-home mom for one summer.
Here is what I always thought...  I always assumed I'd stay home with my children.  I pictured mornings at the park and zoo and afternoons of long drawn-out naps while I worked on jewelry or photography.  I pictured myself in....oh, let's say a cute little summer dress with my hair pulled back in a perfect ponytail of silky blonde highlights.  I thought there would be morning runs, showers everyday, and of course long drawn-out breakfasts with endless cups of coffee.  I thought there would be art projects and easy exploration.  Maybe I even thought I would get some of the summer projects I've been adding to an endless list done.  Maybe a part of me even thought it would be easy.  I thought there would be lunches out with frends and healthy, delicious lunches in.  I thought discipline would be easy.  I thought going to the pool sounded like fun.  I've always considered myself an idealistic realist.  Does that even make sense?
Do you know what I had for lunch yesterday?  Canned spaghettios and green beans.  I barely even remembered to heat it up in the microwave.  I eat standing up, which I know isn't how it should be done.  My oldest barely knows what to do with a marker - and as an art teacher there is a large deal of guilt there.  My hair hangs limp from a frazzled and half-out rubber band I found off the floor.  The thought of running errands with both boys leaves a lump in my throats - and not in a good way.  Today we were at Target and Miles told me that he had to go to the restroom.  My first thought actually was "can't you just go in your diaper?" (Right before I came to my senses and actually took him to the restroom.)
I've hesitated to write exactly what I've been feeling because I know it will change - I know it will get easier and better very very soon.  I don't ever want someone to remind me of feeling this way when I decide I want to have more children.  I don't ever want to regret this raw emotion, or feel any guilt attached to it.  But I do want to be honest.  Women never talk about this.  We all want to appear as though we have it all together.  Who can hold it together the longest and with the most grace?  I'm here to tell you that I'm really bad at it....right now.  All of the discipline strategies that I had up my sleeve when there was just one have disappeared.  I keep forgetting to talk things out with both of them.  I find myself trying to nurse Liam and check my email at the same time.  At what point multi-tasking more harmful than helpful? 
I am SO lucky to have the summer with my boys.  I know that I really am only on borrowed time. So here is today's prayer...that I learn to embrace this moment.  I pray that I can take a step back.  I pray that I can find a schedule that will work for us.  I pray for patience and I pray for appreciation.
And just for the heck of it.....I pray that someone will come and spring clean the rest of my house so I don't have to.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - We love the movie Cars THAT much.

Thanks Ele for hours and hours of endless television entertainment and DVD box reading. :)

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Top Ten

The Top Ten Things That Make My Heart Ache from so much Happiness....
  1. The smell of Miles' hair - like coconuts and sweat.
  2. Liam's smile.
  3. Miles giggling and then falling into my arms.
  4. Watching Dustin pull into the driveway on his bicycle after work.
  5. Chocolate chip cookies - my mom's recipe.
  6. Jumping in mud puddles with Miles.
  7. Liam smacking his lips after each bite of pears.
  8. The sound of silence.
  9. Packages that arrive at my doorstep.
  10. This picture (which gives the phrase "double fisting" a whole new meaning)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

"She's a Brick - House....she's mighty mighty...."

In college I lived in a house the was nicknamed "Brickhouse" because, well, it was a brick house.  (Our liberal-arts education obviously enforced some real creative thought.)  In that house I lived with four other women.  We have been known as "Brickhouse" ever since.
Today I just got back from an extended weekend getaway with my college girlfriends.  Every year we have religiously taken a trip together in the summer.  Because of the direction our lives have taken, it has been a long time since we have taken a longer trip to somewhere with warm beaches that is a little bit closer to the equator. Instead, we've spent the last few summers in the midwest looking for beaches where we can get them.  
We had a great time sitting around in the sun giggling about the old days, analyzing our present day, and dreaming about future days.  Not only do I feel relaxed (there was even one day we managed to sleep in until 10:30....10:30 (that's like noon in my world.)), but I also have a killer tan and a new appreciation for my stay-at-home-over-the-summer status. 

Why do I love my girlfriends so much?  First, they make me laugh.  I don't care what the conversation is about....we're almost always laughing - or at least I am.  Second of all, we each have our quirky rolls.  No matter how much we grow up we each have our niche, and I love that about us.  And lastly, they're my girls.  We've laughed together (of course), but we've also lost together, and cried together.  We lived together in the same house when 9-11 happened.  They were there when I started dating my husband, and stood up for me when I married him.  They are made up of mothers, teachers, artists, professionals, gardeners, and killer shoppers. 
Sure, things are different.  Instead of oiling up with SPF 4, we are wearing 30.  Instead of dreading getting our i.d.'s checked, we cheer when someone asks (which seems to happen less and less these days).  When we watch movies half of us are knitting while the other half of us are comparing wrinkles and sunspots.  Instead of our teeny bikinis and short shorts, we arrive at the pool in big sunglasses, sunhats, and more forgiving swimsuits. 
What hasn't changed?  The laughter and the trust.  The stories we have to bring up everytime we're together.  My inevitable stomach-ache and tears from laughing too hard.  The shoulders to lean on, and the hugs to share.
I love my Brickhouse girls.  They complete me. :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

I don't even really know what to caption this with...maybe that someday Liam is going to be REALLY mad that  he ended up with MIles' underwear on his head. :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

To train or not to train....that is the question.

I'm potty training Miles.  I know he's young.  Trust me, I've heard every skeptical comment out there.  And in my is my reasoning.
  1. He knows what he's doing....the boy can pee on command - I'm not kidding.
  2. He doesn't mind going to the bathroom - in fact, he kind of likes it and I didn't want to lose that.
  3. He can't reason with me yet, which makes negotiations MUCH easier.
It actually wasn't my idea.  On Friday morning Dustin just brought it up on a whim after Miles went to the bathroom again just because he felt like it.  I've had a hand in training A LOT of children due to my former years as a glorified babysitter at the daycare (which is surprisingly coming in handy now that I am a mom).  I've helped to train kids who were nowhere NEAR where Miles is in this area so I knew he could do it if we could do it.  Dustin was all about it, so without a second thought I took off for a day at the spa (an old gift certificate I still hadn't used) and on my way bought Miles some super cool underwear with cars on it that I knew would sweeten the deal for him.  Here was our plan...
  1. Stay at home all weekend.
  2. No diapers, no matter what - except for naps and bedtime.
  3. Lots of celebrating and cheering.
  4. No rewards - our praise would be enough.
Here is what happened....
  1. By Saturday night we HAD to leave our house because we needed to start looking at cars to buy to replace our poor little smashed up tin can that is now residing permanently in the windy city.  Plus, in all honesty we were totally getting cabin fever (Dustin more than me considering I was gone most of Friday and Saturday morning.)  We then broke our rule again on Sunday morning to go to church, and have been breaking it every since.
  2. When we left the house we put on diapers - we're just not that brave - or stupid.
  3. We still cheered and celebrated A LOT.  Let's just say there were windmill high fives being handed out like candy....which brings me to number....
  4. By Friday night I was making a last-minute nighttime run to Walgreens for the BIG BAG of M&Ms - which worked like an ultimate incentive charm since our praise really ended up not being enough.  They worked so well that now I reward myself with one (or five) everytime I go to the restroom.....or outside....or walk around the kitchen.....or put the boys down for a nap....I've got a lot to be rewarded for. :)
Overall things are going really well - for Miles.  His mom is another story.  By Friday night I had two big regrets.  The thing about these regrets is that I felt there was no turning back once we got started.  We HAD to follow it through to fruition.  What were my two big regrets?
  1. That I was now a member of the "Do you have to go potty?!" club.  You know the club - the one where you have to ask your child every 10 minutes if they have to go "potty" because you don't want them to have an accident.
  2. My baby was in underwear.  He looks pretty cute in his cute little briefs, but the truth is that it just makes me so sad.  All day Friday I moped around because it felt as though my attempt to bring him one step closer to the independence of growing up was doing just that - bringing him one step closer to independence and growing up.  I still get mopey just thinking about it - almost the "What have I done!?" school of thought.  
So here is where I am now.  My cocky - "potty training is so easy" attitude is out the door.  I'm going to keep training, even though my summer would be easier without it, and he's actually very close.   However, I'm going to take it slowly.  Miles and I have nothing to prove, and I am in no hurry for him to grow up.   

Project: Fall in Love With Peoria - week 1

What did I do this week?  Besides change diapers and chase Miles around the dining room table ("our" new favorite game), I began my summer-long journey to fall in love with this town I call home.  I actually started this just on Saturday, because I spent the first week of my summer break trying to find a new car, talking to silly claims adjusters on the phone, and trying to figure out a schedule that won't drive me crazy.

So what did I do first?  I started out my summer as any self-respecting Peorian would - at the Burger Barge.  I've only ever been here once before, but I don't really think I truly appreciated it.  It is such a dive - but in a totally good way.  Being right on the river, and having sand under your feet, along with the Jimmy Buffet playing overhead I almost got the feeling I was actually on some tropical vacation (although I wouldn't go so far as to say a LUXURY tropical vacay).  I had a burger that actually had a fried egg on it and it was del-icious.  Below are some Burger Barge exclusive shots from our adventure.

The second thing we did was on Monday.  I drug Dustin and the boys out to the Rock Island Trail, which in my five years of living here have never been to.  We went on a bike ride with our new bike trailer.  The whole family loved it, minus Liam who wailed the whole time until he finally fell asleep from the utter exhaustion of crying.  I loved the trail and seriously recommend it to anyone.  I have a feeling we will definitely be back (but perhaps after a little trailer-riding training for Liam).
Action shot!  This doesn't quite capture the intensity of Liam's anguish. 

Right after the trail we headed over to Lou's Drive-In - a Peoria staple for dinner.  We got some awesome food and great root beer in mugs. :)  Miles even got this super cute little jr. root beer.  He didn't really like it, but I had to get a picture because he was so darn cute.

That's my report for this week.  I will be out of town this weekend, but hope to update my adventures of being wooed by P-town more when I get back.....
Next on the agenda - the Peoria Chiefs and salsa dancing lessons at the Contemporary Art Center.  Dustin's really excited about that one.  I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

6 months

Dear Liam,
Happy 6 month birthday.  These months have gone so quickly I just can't believe it.  Everyday you leave your mom and dad in such wonder.  I am in awe of the speed you are growing and the things you are doing every week.  You've only been here 6 months and I can't imagine our lives without you.  Do you know my favorite part about you?  It is definitely, without a doubt, your smile.  It warms my heart when I see it.  That smile is so unconditional, so loving, and so much fun.  It takes over your whole face, and then jumps across space to anyone who is in the wake of it.  It is infectious, giggle worthy, and completely unpredictable.  I hope to see it for the rest of my life.
So what other things have you been up to recently?  Perhaps the thing that has most surprised me - and the thing that no one else would think about would be how you no longer need me to put your pacifier in for you at night and during naps.  You have total control over that thing, which makes me very happy, but also makes me a little sad.  It is just another sign that you are growing up too quickly. 
You make your brother laugh all of the time - and it's not always because you're crying. :)  He also makes you laugh like crazy.  I just know that you are going to be great friends.  Three days ago you woke up with your first two teeth.  About a week ago you started trying out baby food and you have really gotten the hang of it.  You are sitting up on your own - which you much prefer for the ultimate playing angle.  I think you will be crawling soon too.  Already, if I leave the room for just a moment, I will find you in a completely different position/spot/angle than when I left.
Perhaps your biggest accomplishment has been that you have been sleeping through the night.  I think you'll enjoy the benefits of doing so, and I wish for you and long life of solid sleepy nights (I promise you that although this has selfish undertones, it is going to pay off in the end for you and me.)
Everyone says you look like your dad - even going so far as to call you "Little Dustin."  Luckily your dad is pretty darn handsome. 
You have a head full of invisible white hair that no one can see unless they are within inches of it.  You still have your "cough cry" as your Uncle Isaac calls it.  You are completely over cuddling, unless it fits into your schedule and you are totally tired.  You love stroller rides (by "love" I mean you sit quietly and soak everything in without making a peep).
Other things you love....
  • this little weird light-up sea horse that plays music when you're falling asleep.
  • you silky - I ordered a second one in case of emergency.
  • avocado and apples
  • rolling over
  • the walker
  • having a clean diaper
  • baths - you LOVE baths!
  • your little giraffe teether squeaker thingy
  • wearing no pants - you get that from your mom and older brother. :)
I am excited to see where the next six months lead us, although it is also bittersweet to see you grow up so quickly.
I love you forever,
your mom

Friday, June 4, 2010

Dos Big Ones (as in Two)

That's right...we were greeted yesterday morning with Liam's very first teeth - two at once!  I know they're hard to see, but trust me....they're there.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

overdue weekend post.

I've been meaning to write about our past weekend for days now, but I am trying to limit myself to one post a day and I've had other things I wanted to get out there - let's just say that I have a lot to say. :)

We had big plans Memorial Day weekend to wrap up Miles' birthday celebration with both sides of our families in different ways.  We started out the weekend by driving up to the suburbs to spend the night and go to the Brookfield zoo the next day with Dustin's family.  Our big plan was also go to this little hamburger grill close by that serves your food to you via toy train - can you just imagine how excited my little boy would get at this?  How could I resist?  We ran into a little problem - actually a big problem - when we were about 5 minutes from the hotel in rush hour traffic when we were hit by an SUV at an intersection.  I've never been in an accident before, and I would have to say that it was one of the most frightening moments of my life so far.  Luckily we were both going under 30 and the other driver just hit us on the front driver's side.  No one was hurt, but we think our poor little car is totalled and we all got to ride in an ambulance.  The one bright spot of the entire thing was when the EMT pulled Miles out of his carseat to put him in the ambulance.  Miles just sat there with a huge smile, clutching his toy fire engine and ambulance, and making siren noises for the entire trip to the hospital.  This is just one instance in my life when I felt as though God was watching over us.  If it would have been just one second later the driver would have hit Liam's door.  If she had been going just a tad faster it could have been worse.  I had just finished feeding Liam so my arm could have been caught between the seats.  I'm sure there are so many other "what ifs" that we aren't even thinking about.  I can deal with the inconvenience of having a rental car all of the way from up north, sleeping in my clothes Friday night because our car was in some tow-yard, changing plans for the weekend, not knowing the status of our car for an entire week, or any of the other costs we accrued because of this, because the most important things in that car were safe.  I'm also going to step on my soapbox for a second to lecture everyone on the importance of a REALLY GOOD carseat.  We had two great carseats and our boys didn't get a single bruise or bump.  (If only they made carseats for 30 year old women.)

Okay, enough about that, because despite all of that we still had a fantastic weekend.  Saturday morning we enjoyed the zoo with the Fishers in celebration of Wyatt and Miles' birthdays.  After the zoo Wyatt was so nice to agree to go to the train restaurant we had planned on going to the night before.  We had so much fun there, and Miles of course loved the trains, while Liam of course loved all of the attention. 
Miles LOVED the bear exhibit - it was his favorite part.  It was my favorite part because it was air conditioned.
Liam on the Safari Tram - and very excited about it.  The Safari Tram did Not have air conditioning.

Saturday evening after dinner our family drove on to Ohio where we spent the rest of the weekend with my family.  We had a lot of fun and Miles got to open even more gifts.  He even got to play a little teeball with his new set my parents gave him.  He's been practicing up for the next time they see him.  He is getting really good at swinging the bat, and REALLY REALLY good at saying "Hey, batter batter batter batter..."
Miles with his new tee-ball toy.

On Monday we drove back to Central Illinois, which was easier said than done.  The only rental car that they had left for the weekend was a giant SUV, which is fine if you aren't used to driving a teeny tiny Prius and Accord.  That, in combination with still being a little shook-up from the accident made for a LONG drive home.  However, we arrived to find a very cool surprise from our buddy Cohen..... :)
Miles loves his little toy camera!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Miles' 2nd Year - it just keeps getting better. :)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A birthday letter.

Dear Miles - my newly turned two year old....
You've been two for week now.  I meant to write this to you on your birthday, and in a way I guess I did in  my mind.  I've been thinking of the things that make turning two so special - especially for you, my oldest boy.
Although I'm doubtful that you'll remember your second birthday, I know that I always will - especially since it stretched on for nearly an entire week!  Being two is a big deal - you're still cute enough to get away with things you shouldn't, but you've become so independent.
At two you are such a big boy.  You can eat with silverware and drink out of a regular cup.  You run, not walk, everywhere you go.  You love bathtime and your little brother makes you giggle.  Instead of just saying "no" and "yes", you always say "no no" and "yeah yeah" which really cracks me up. You love being outside more than any other place in the entire world, and the only movie you will actually semi-watch is "Cars" (which Miss Ele gave you for your birthday).  In fact, everytime we walk past the dvd player you ask for it even though I think you've only watched it twice.  That's another thing - you're incredibly observant.  We could be sitting in the middle of a construction site and you would hear an airplane or helicopter that was so far away we could barely see it in the sky.  You mimic everything you see adults do, and you are starting to say your colors.  I THINK - although I'm not sure - but I THINK that today when I asked you to point to the different colored trucks you got them all right, with one exception.  I'm still trying to decide if it was a fluke, or if you've got us all fooled.

Oh yeah, did I mention that you LOVE cars and trucks?  Every time there is an open car door you quickly sneak in (people are continuously commenting on how quick you are).  You can find the hazard lights immediately, much to the chagrin of the car owners and your parents who usually searching about five minutes searching for the button that we so seldom use. 

I should also mention that you are funny.  When you're on fire, no one can resist your humor.  You're charming, witty, and most of all, a trickster.  I love every bit of it.  You love lotions, and on Friday you insisted that I paint your toenails (if this is your 16-year-old self reading this, I want you to know that I am not sorry - how could I resist when you even said "please"?)
Here's to your next year....may it be filled with all your favorite things - macaroni and cheese, plastic water bottles, foot lotion, outdoor adventures, balls, and of course, cauuuugghhhrrs (a.k.a. cars).
I love you, I love you, I love you.
Your mom.