Tuesday, June 30, 2009

"Em" is for Mischief

Around here, we affectionately refer to Emily as "Em" or "Emmy". I'm starting to think that Miss Mischief might be a more appropriate nickname. Of course you probably are thinking, "Well duh, she's two! Its supposed to be terrible". But its not terrible, not really. Nora was terrible. At the age of two, Nora would throw tantrums that belonged in the Guinness Book of World Records. She would vomit and break furniture and kick me because I turned the Teletubbies off. It is a miracle that she is not an only child. Emily is totally chill in comparison.

Emily's tantrums, if you even want to call them that, are pretty lame. Yes she'll yell, sometimes even kick, and throw herself dramatically to the floor. Then I say something like, "Does Emmy need a hug?" and its over. She clings to me, sucks her thumb, problem forgotten. Its not Emily's tantrums that have made her an interesting two-year old. Its the silly, mischievous, and naughty things she does, and the obvious delight she takes in getting caught.

Case in point. In the last forty-eight hours, Emily has done all of the following: danced on the kitchen table, taken a scoop and used it to empty the dog's water bowl onto the floor, tried on all of Nora's clean clothes located her bottom dresser drawers, emptied all of the bath toys into the tub and sat amongst them while trying to turn the water on, smeared pizza on top of her head, turned the X-Box on and off while I was looking so I would turn red and yell, and stripped naked and boogied in front of the box fan. My reaction to all of these events is pretty predictable. "Emmmiiiilllleeeee what are you doing??? NO! NO! Honey, no!!!" Her response is always the same. Her eyes sparkle, like she has never been more alive than at that moment, and then she grins. A big, cheesy, you-know-what eating grin. Oh boy! Mom caught me again! Awesome. Oooohhh, and she's so mad! That's even better.

Making me crazy, albeit amused, seems to be the driving force in her life. Good God, what am I going to do when this girl is thirteen?

Sunday, June 28, 2009


This weekend has been unusual, since I've been without my kids for the most-part. I am more than willing to admit its been nice to sing off-key in the van and drink my coffee uninterrupted. On Friday, I actually went out to dinner with my husband. Its been awhile since we've been able to talk for more than 30 seconds without getting interrupted, and it was just lovely. Its nice to remember that I married him because I enjoy his wit, and there are other things in the world for us to discuss besides Emily's latest tooth. We even went for a twilight walk around the lagoon, the first place on campus that Ryan ever took me. We walked, holding hands, and watched the college-aged couples feed the geese. They were promptly chased, dare I say attacked, by the birds when the bread ran out. We laughed; the girls used it as an excuse to be nudge a little closer to their dates in order to be "saved". Young love is sweet.

I spent yesterday at an art fair in Evanston looking for inspiration as I toy with the idea of becoming a jewelry artist. I find it ironic that my favorite pieces were not jewelry, but fabulous oil paintings inspired by the likes of Monet and Turner. I can honestly say the only other place where I've seen such skilled brushwork is the Art Institute of Chicago. I'm saving my pennies to purchase an original, prices starting at $650, a steal in my opinion. Did I mention this guy lives less than a mile from me?***

Its also ironic that the "inspiring" part of the day happened after the two hour drive back to DeKalb. I burned up every last ounce of energy on my trip, and was too tired to put Nora to bed. We opted instead to watch a thunderstorm roll in. We have a great little stoop that leads up to the front door, and the roof overhangs it enough to provide protection from the rain. We watched as the sky grew dark, and counted the "fire-fighter flies" until the rain started. The storm did come, although it wasn't as threatening as predicted. Indeed, it was odd to watch as the whole world took on an orange hue. There was lightening and thunder, but very little rain. The top of the sky was orange, the bottom was gray, and the two halves were linked by a giant rainbow. We sat out there together, as quiet as this family can be, until the sunset.

***You can check out Gerard Erley's art at his website www.gerarderley.com The images online are somewhat different from what he had at the show; the works in Evanston were more ethereal in my opinion.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Good morning

Many spiritual traditions teach that morning is the most important part of the day, and that great effort should be expended in order to it set it right. The theory goes like this: a serene and peaceful morning results in a serene and peaceful day. Ok, I'm on board. Serenity now. The problem is, I have a hard time getting out of bed. Sure, I wish I could say I was one of those people that wakes up with the sun, bright eyed and ready to greet the day with enthusiasm, but I'm not. I really wish I could say I'm one of those yogis who sit in meditation as the world begins to wake, bringing a sense of peace not only to themselves but all those around them, but I'm not. Hell, I would gladly sacrifice the idea of a spiritual morning if I could end up with a Leave it to Beaver morning. Or any cheesy 1960's sitcom for that matter, just so long as I'm all made-up wearing an apron and perhaps even pearls, hair coiffed, the children washed and dressed, dad looking handsome in shirt and tie.

This is not the start of my day. Rather, it goes like this. At some point way to early for my liking, I become aware that Ryan is no longer lying next to me. I know my time under the covers will soon end, and I am not pleased. Sometime shortly thereafter, I hear the stomp stomp stomp, pardon me, cute pitter-patter, of feet above my head. The noise (regardless of it being an annoying stomp or heartwarming patter) is usually accompanied by shrieks, all out screams, and the thuds created as Emily throws her toys onto the floor. She has gotten a good 12 hours and is ready to go, isn't the rest of the house?

Eventually someone is brave enough to come and get me. Some mornings its Ryan, but sometimes he sends Nora into the dragon's lair. Suddenly there is a face 1/2 inch next to mine. "Mommy, Daddy says you need to get out of bed! Come on, the sun is up!" She may poke at me, but is learning that is not very wise. She leaves. I don't move. Someone comes back a few minutes later. "Mommy, Daddy said you have to get up now!! Mom!". I realize Ryan is probably leaving for work, and if I want to see him at all before noon, I have to get out of bed. I emerge with tousled hair, black make-up circles under my eyes, and mismatched pj's because God knows money is tight, why spend it on pj's that no one sees except for the kids?

Every morning I make it upstairs, and every morning Emily is the first to greet me. She smiles her big cheesy grin and says, "Hi! Hi! Hi!" while she waves. And of course I melt, because she doesn't speak much, but she speaks to me every morning. Aww kid, I love you so much. Warm fuzzy. Then, before the warm fuzzy has an opportunity to wear off, Ryan hands me a cup of coffee. Sometimes its a silent transaction, sometimes he will warn me its hot. But there is never an exchange of pleasantries, because Ryan is not an idiot. Momma needs that first cup of coffee.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Right here, Right now...

Its days like today that make me realize that I've never really ever felt like I fit in (no matter where I'm at or what I'm doing), yet deep down inside I honestly, probably, maybe, surely don't care. Case in point. Ryan asked me, "What did you do today?", and I'm happy to say I did not answer go to work, complain about the heat, shop at Target in the hopes of purchasing a piece of color-coordinated happiness, or any other thing a "normal" person might do on Wednesday afternoon. It was a do nothing kinda day, or if you prefer, the kids and I were unbusy. And I loved it.

The weatherman said it was going to be hot, so my mother-in-law invited us over for the day. We left pretty early since we didn't have anything else to do. I drove in my mom van down I-88 going about 88 mph singing Bon Jovi with the kids. I left my i-pod at home, so we also listened to some Phil Collins and George Michaels on B-95, and I wondered at one point if there had been a glitch in the Matrix. The musical selection of the afternoon indicated that I should have been in the back arguing with Renee while my mom chauffeured us in the Dodge Shadow. (Seriously, we even heard an ad for a New Kids on the Block concert!!! Is it 2009 or 1989??) But anyways, we made it to Chuck and Dianne's, and they treated us to an afternoon of air conditioning, fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, and old photo albums. The kids got to see what their dad was like as a kid, Dianne got to reminisce about having young kids, and I had the opportunity to just enjoy the moment. We went outside, despite the heat, to pick Mulberries from the big tree in the back next to the creek. They were almost black, and so saturated with sweet sugary juice they were falling from the tree. We ate them till our lips and finger-tips were purple and we couldn't reach them anymore. During dinner Emily passed out, her mouth hanging open slightly, and everyone had a good-spirited yet hearty laugh. This is why I had kids.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Me (the mom), a cup of coffee, and a blank screen

For all of you who said I should write a book about my children and their antics, here it is. Well, ok, its not a book, but close enough.

So, how does one proceed with beginning a blog anyways? Do I need an introduction to the topic at hand, or should I just get started assuming my audience already knows the key players? Since my readers will be limited to my mom, mother-in-law, and two best friends, I guess I can safely assume you all know that I'm Ivy, a slightly confused (yet paradoxically over educated) mother of two daughters that has a hang-up for coffee. I live in a small town on a small budget, but I have an overactive imagination to keep me amused in my down time. But enough about me...

The antics of my children. The reason why I don't necessarily sleep well at night, thus necessitating another cup of coffee. Yesterday was Emily's Second Birthday. Yesterday happened to be a Monday, so her birthday party was over, yet we wanted to do something special despite the unseasonable heat. Dad (Ryan), a bike enthusiast, opted for the family to go on the annual Custard Cruise, a three mile bike-trip for parents and tots. Riders start at the park, ride through the forest preserve to the Ollie's, pig-out on calorie and fat laden delicious custard packed into crisp waffle cones, and ride back. The plan was laid with the idea that Nora, who is now officially four 1/2, would ride her own bike and I would tow Emily in the carriage.

This plan did not suit Nora Grace. "I want to ride in the back with Emmy!" Ok, ok, its probably too hot for her to ride that far anyways. Never mind I haven't ridden my bike in a year, my leg muscles are about as firm as that custard I'm looking forward to devouring, and the carriage with two kids weighs about 70 pounds. Oh yeah, and we're gonna ride to the park, so its way longer than 3 miles. And its still 90 degrees. Great Idea! See the smiles on our faces! I even put on lipstick for the pics...

My pasty-white legs are wobbly by the time we get to the park. All these other fit, lean, and tan riders show up. Oh my god, I'm twelve years old and back in gym class. I can see it already, I'm gonna be waaaayy behind everyone else. I'm so gonna get picked last if we decide to play kickball after the ride. Six-thirty arrives and the ride begins, and as predicted I'm behind the pack two minutes into our trek. But, I made it. Actually, a mile and a half wasn't too bad, except for the fact I couldn't stand straight between my weak legs and sore butt. Totally worth the free Ollie's, and I got to finish Emily's portion. Excellent.

After the kids ran off most of their sugar, we headed back to the park. Emily and Nora love the slide park, so we decided to bear the heat and let them run around. We weren't there for five minutes when Ryan comes running over to Nora and I, cradling Emily like a baby. "Is Em ok?" I asked. No--she was dehydrated. She must not have been drinking the water from the squirt bottles. I just about panicked; I say "just about" because full-out panic mode doesn't help anyone. Inside: AAHHHHH!!!!!!! Outside: Get water in her! I poured water into her mouth, which seemed to stop the shaking pretty quick. We got her back into the carriage/tow-behind, and she had enough energy to scream and protest leaving the park unceremoniously. I peddled as quick as I could, which wasn't very quick at all, but we made it home.

I considered taking her to the hospital despite the fact she was smiling and in better spirits. I decided to wait a minute or two more before making any decisions, there would be a sign, I was sure, to tell me what to do. We put her to bed, and as always, she got back up. I went in there to lay her back down, yelling out (as I'm prone to do) when I realized she had taken off her diaper and she was buck naked. Oh Emily!! Can't you keep your diaper on for anything? I popped it back on and decided it was a onesie night, dehydration or no dehydration. As I got her dressed, Ryan stopped in the door and said, "Oh God! No wonder you were yelling like that". Huh? Its just her diaper...what the...

In my haste to check on her, I failed to notice she launched some bombs out of the diaper by the door. Apparently I had stepped in them, squishing them into poop pancakes. Well, that's a sign if I ever saw one. Kid is ok. Situation normal here....