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Friday, September 7, 2012

A Very Busy Summer (The Prolouge)

It has been a very busy, and very HOT summer.
Hard to find any extra time to keep up to date on the blog.
We have been camping, visiting Chicago, playing with the brothers and Papa (who has actually had some summer time off from work), swimming, touring sprinkler parks, eating ice cream, visiting the Northwoods, and playing outside whenever it's not too hot. No time for blog writing.

Elias is growing up so fast. His vocabulary is expanding every day. A month ago we started a list of words that he says in his own special ways and some of our favorite sentences:

marsh-ellows = marshmellows
oveeen= oven
mac chee chees = mac n cheese
billies = birdies
llellow = yellow (favorite color)
Amdeo = Amedeo
papa sickle= popsicles
gas stang stang = gas station as in "I am going to the gas stang stang with Papa and Amdeo."
levins= vitamins
be comes = will be coming as in "The Countess be comes here."
definitly=definitly as in "I definitly want ni-nis on the couch."
tay de plef de fef OR tay de plfef de lull (with tounge out at the end) = I have no idea what this means. They are E's special phrases. He will ask "Mama what do you say?" and I say, "What do I say?" and I usually get one of these phrases with a giggle.
That's one for the birdies = don't put the food that fell on the floor in my mouth. (He says this regardless of where we are when the food falls ... inside, outside, at the resturant).

By now he has self-corrected most of these words and pretty much speaks  in full sentences. He's not even two yet! Yes, he is a genius. ;)

And yes, I will get back to work on the blog! Look for upcoming posts about all the summer excitment that has been had!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Oh the many things a bathtub can do!

Lately motherhood seems to be an exercise in knowing when to conserve energy and when to expend it.  For example:
Late night party at the Palmer House... spend it!
Slam dunk contest in the living room...spend it!
How many parks can we visit in one day?...spend it!
It is SO early, E is rarin' to go and I haven't had a cup of coffee it!

Baths are great for saving energy! E loves to play in the water and all I have to do is supervise.
Muffin cup experiments are even better than baths! Witness the awesomeness that is art AND science in the bathtub:

E mixes colors, scoops, drips and dips for over thirty minutes! I can clean the bathroom. And since there is no running water involved, I can make a cup of coffee. I can eat breakfast (in the now clean bathroom). I can read an article in a magazine (also in the bathroom). Then, when experiments are concluded, a quick clean up down the drain and a seamless transition to bath time.

A LOVELY morning!
For those with toddlers, here are the supplies we used:
Muffin tin
Food coloring
Action figure (Cookie Monster and Big Bird often need baths)
Various spoons and cups
Medicine droppers
A few rocks and sticks to drop in the cups

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

I have so much housework to catch up on... The dishes are piled up, really, really high. The laundry too. The toys are strewn all over the house. There is marker to be washed off the floors and doors. I have to make dinner right now, during nap time, or we might have to eat out again and there is no money for that right now...mumble, grumble, mumble, grumble. What? Mother's Day?  Or do I mean What Mother's Day?

I haven't even thought about Mother's Day. David keeps telling me that he has all these plans and that he needs to snatch E away to execute them. I know it's coming. I just haven't really thought about it yet. I remember feeling very emotional about Mother's Day last year. I don't seem to feel that way this year. UNTIL... I opened the mailbox today (Friday, May 11): TWO envelopes with my name on them. I don't wait to open these kinds of things. I know I should, but I have no patience. I NEVER get mail that doesn't have a bill inside. Beautiful cards from the Aunt Julia and Grandma Lambert and Oma," thanking me for all I do" and reminding me that " I am a great woman".

So, NOW I am thinking about Mother's Day and how these women - the women who raised me and David - worked hard everyday to sustain our lives. They scrubbed floors and kissed ouchies and held screaming, independent, think I am bigger than the world, toddlers until they settled down. They cooked our dinners, even when they didn't want to cook. They played games with us and made us laugh and created memories for us to hold in our hearts. They did some things perfectly and some things differently and some things completely wrong. They worried about us and hoped for us and loved us.  Today they sent me words in recognition that I am doing the same. Likely, their mothers did this for them on Mother's Day.

It's a really very simple cycle - this thing called humanity. Seems so mundane, because for the most part it is. It's VERY NOT glamorous. It's exhausting. It's never-ending. It is wondrous: how we all got into this world, how we survived it being so small and then so curious - our mother's (and father's but that's for a different day) protection, sustenance, devotion, and love.

And it is so very rewarding: those people called our children.
A little note to E: I love you more than the number of times you make me read Good Night Moon, the Gorilla Book, and Mr. Ted combined. That's a super lot: like more than to the moon and around all the stars and back. I love you more than you love fans. Oh my beans that's a lot! That's really really a lot! I can't wait to celebrate Mother's Day with you and Papa. It's gonna be so fun and I am excited. But really I feel that way every night before I go to sleep, knowing that tomorrow I get to wake up next to you and hear whatever your first words of the day are. I love you Babe-O! Thanks for making being a Mom-O the best thing I have ever done (next to finding your Papa of course)!

Thanks Moms and Julia for helping me think about Mother's Day! Too late to send cards or presents that will arrive in time. But we do hope that this makes it to you and that you enjoy the day remembering all the times we shared together (big and small) that have made us who we are. And thank you for all the special love you share with the Babe-o!

Happy Mother's Day to you! We love you!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

TIME to Get Some Ni-Nis

On Thursday night,  E said " I love Ni-Nis." (Decoder: "I love nursing"). He said it, out of the blue, as we were walking in the door from a nightime walk.

On Friday afternoon, TIME magazine showed up in the mailbox just as E went down for a nap.

I am compelled to comment. Every feminist bone in my body (and that's all of them) is aching.

I am an "extreme breastfeeder." Although there is absolutely nothing extreme about it. It has been a gradual process of adapting to E's needs and my production issues for 20 months. We are "attachment parents." We don't have a guru named Dr. Sears. In fact, we don't have a guru period. We didn't even know about Dr. Sears, until we were trying to normalize the fact that we don't want to and it's just easier not to move E out of our bed. AND I STILL breastfeed.

I still breastfeed, not because it's some reality T.V.-like extreme challenge but because it's what E needs and wants. Not because he said, " I love Ni-Nis." Although, darn it, I deserve to hear "I love Ni-Nis" after all that I have been through. I am still feeding him and will feed him until he's ready to wean himself because:
1) at first it was about his nourishment, now it's more about his emotions (Hello, TIME Magazine? I know, this is just me, a lowly mom but emotions are important too. I know it's an ingrained cultural tendency to minimize the emotional life of our children, our women, and especially our men (shout out to Hottie, a.k.a. Diet Coke Papa) but COME ON! Just a little blurb on the emotional needs/lives of infants would round out your "extreme" story).
2) I trust that he'll know when he's ready to move on
3) I believe that my milk has nutritional value specific to Elias's needs
4) It's easy - when there is an ouchie or a fever or a bad dream or he's thirsty and I don't have a water cup with me - I've got the Ni-Nis.
5) Breastfeeding is a natural mammalian process. And these are MY mammary glands. I have carried them around my whole life and I'll use them to feed my kid. I'll do it in public and I'll do it in bed. I'll do it when he can speak in full sentences (which brag-brag he occasionally does at 20 months).
6) I do it because if he gets married and has children I want him to be the kind of husband that supports his wife in feeding their child if she chooses to, (because there is so much support needed) just like his Papa.

Do these decisions make me Mom enough? YES. I was Mom enough the very second that E was born, before I even knew that I needed to make these kinds of decisions.
Do these decisions make YOU Mom enough? What kind of question is that? What do my decisions have to do with your Mothering? Why do we have to compare our mothering choices? Why can't we just support each other in the world-wide effort of raising children? It is after all the most important responsibility on the planet. Hey TIME, why don't you ask that question on the next cover? And next time don't make breastfeeding look like some kind of perverted display! It's totally normal ALL OVER THE WORLD if not here!

Check this out:

In the meantime, E just walked in the door from time out with Papa. It's TIME to reunite. It's TIME to get some Ni-Nis.

"Want Ni-Nis." On a walk at the pond.


Monday, May 7, 2012

E Takes Down the Palmer House

Every year David's students present their research at a conference at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. Every year we get to spend one night in a SUPER expensive room, in an amazing, luxurious hotel for FREE. Over the course of the year there are a few opportunities similar to this one, but Palmer House is my favorite! It's historical and gorgeous, it's busy and relaxing all in one.

Usually the date sneaks up on us, because it is such a crazy hectic time of the year (the end of the semester before summer break). So there isn't a lot of anticipation and waiting for the night to come. It turns out like an awesome last minute surprise complete with a comfy down covered bed and a deep bathtub! This year our stay included an all out HOTEL PARTY, hosted and pretty much orchestrated by the BABE-O!

We arrived in Chicago around 10 o'clock on Wednesday night. This was our stealthy plan: do the drive during early bed time so that we can get some talk time on the drive down (one of our most favorite ways to spend time together), sneak him into the Palmer House and put him to sleep for a little extra quiet time before we rest.

Here's how it went down:  E did sleep for one hour of the ride. And then  he woke up just as we were entering downtown, in time to see the lights, cars, trains, buses, and bikes of "CAGO"! Then he proceeded to indulge in the amazing splendor of the "tea party" room. I have to say he was best dressed in his Cars jammies! Once we got to the room he tried all the phones (there were three), pretending to call Grandpa. He pressed all the buttons on the safe and ran the stroller from the bathroom to the bedroom to the sitting room...until 12:30am.

It was SO FUN, especially for "Diet Coke Papa" who had to be in tip top condition for the poster session at 8:30am. Best part: we seemed to have lost all evidence of the late night ruckus. We took several pictures and videos of the party but somehow (in the middle of the night) they were mysteriously erased from the camera.(Hmm? We are still sleuthing out that one.)

Moving on - The night's sleep was horrible. I think we maybe got 8 hours between the two of us, while E got a total of maybe 7 hours (not enough)! But this was not about to prevent us from having a tea party in the tea party room! David went to the poster presentation and E and I had a pre-breakfast snack in the tea party room.

When David finished the presentation, he and E explored the Empire Room, where we had a private breakfast for three.

After a much needed nap we ventured out to the "Fishies House" (the Shedd Aquarium) by bus.

Yes, those that know me well, I said the Shedd Aquarium. This is the place where they keep fish and marine life behind glass - the place where Mama's worst fear in the entire universe originated. Turns out having a kid reduces fish behind glass anxiety. (Except when there are HUGE eels and shiny fish that approach out of nowhere. In these cases, you will find Mama with her back to a wall that does not contain fish or aquatic creatures of any sort).

Babe-O had a blast playing with the turtles, dressing up as a penguin, watching the belugas, and playing campsite (so did Mom-O and Papa)!

As usual, and awesome Palmer House experience and tons of fun with E!
Needless to say, fishie house anxiety is not genetic (Phew!). We will be going back!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Most of April

The taxes are submitted (kind of) and the tulips are already starting to fade and I haven't finished a post for the month. I have started several but something always comes up. So, I have decided to give you a "travel log" of some of the fun things we have done with all the time that has flown by.

On warm days we go to parks. "Awesome Parks" as E calls them. We go to A LOT of parks. I like to switch it up often,  but there are a few MOST Awesome Parks:

The most awesome awesome parks have hills for running down at top speed:

and "forests" for exploring rocks, sticks, and pinecones:

On rainy, cold, windy days we stay inside and experiment with colors (notice the left over red above his lip):

Some days we take a trip to KEVA, the indoor sports park, where E can dunk to his heart's delight:

or just drag the big parachute around:

We have also set out to re-try foods that have been put on the "yuk-o" list. The new favorite is cereal, but I'll let E tell you about it himself (with his mouth full)...

So there you have it, most of April, and plenty of E!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

March Madness

It is cooling off in Madison, but for the last few weeks it has been in the 80's...just in time for March Madness. This is one of our favorite times of the year, David's and mine that is! Not only do we get to watch tons of basketball and scream at the T.V. but we get to torture the big boys with constant basketball banter. Plus we now have Babe-o the Baskeball Allstar who is in training for the N.B.A. and loves to "DUNK," play "BALL," and watch "BALL" on T.V. We are in March Madness heaven!

Papa's assist

That was a Foul! Bad call ref!  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Inquiring minds want to know...

Be assured that the Lamberts are not starving, homeless or foreclosing, wearing clothes with holes in them (at least not with holes that you can see), or having frequent convos with the repo-man. In fact, even after Mama Kati's grumblings, we still get digital TV and Tivo so that Deo can watch all his shows, and Papa can watch Sportscenter to his heart's conent. (Okay, so after I grumbled I had to stop watching Housewives and Chopped so as not to be a hypocrite). We also still use expensive haircare and cleaning products and eat certain organic foods because I refuse to compromise on some things. So, all in all, we still look the same, and smell the same. We even have a fund for dollar Diet Cokes and coffee and a measly pile of money for monthly fun.

So what's different? We know exactly how much money we owe "The Man." We have started paying it back in large amounts, and we have a small savings account for emergencies! We have an idea of how to start to think about what we want our retirement plans to look like and what kinds of insurances we need for ourselves and our family. We have a budget for every month and we know where every penny goes for the first time in the history of our lives. This means we only spend a pre-determined amount of cash on things like groceries and when we run out we get creative (Slumgullion for dinner). And we do run out. And we do try to be creative. Some months we have "gazelle-like" financial focus (our first month) and some months (our second month) we're more like dodo-birds and fail miserably.

Right! So, duh! Maybe most of you do/have this already. More likely, most of you don't, cause there's a lot of credit cards out there people, not to mention student loan debt.  We didn't. We never did. And paying attention and cleaning up is hard!

Why do I need to be telling you this on our blog?
Well, it's a long story but I 'll try to be short about it. We have been working on our finances for two months now - building up said E.R. fund and peicing together what little scraps of baco-s we can to pay off a part of one of many credit cards. Did I say this is HARD! It's hard because we are spoiled. We have some money -we are not suffering or in need- we just make bad decisions with the money we do have. We like to spend money on things that help us get away from the stress of life (like little trips here or there, retail therapy at the outlet mall, mainly nice, somewhat expensive things we can't afford). Really when it comes down to it - we are selfish. There is no reason why we can't live and enjoy a more simple life so that we can be accountable for the debt we do have and hoepfully, in the future, do a better job sharing our wealth others who depend on us or those really in need. 

Cut to the gym. (We do spend a little cash to work out at the gym while E plays with friends). I am running on the treadmill and watching Public Television, a show on Greek tradgedy, something I know very little about. A portion of the show focuses on Socrates and his convictions: 
"Everyone should be responsible for their beliefs." My brain works in mysterious ways (and that need not be explained, now or EVER) but I get to thinking about how we are digging ourselves out of our secret debt in secret. We don't talk about it, we don't share our story with others - it's shameful. We feel shame. And maybe this shame is part of what drives us to retail therapy, it certainly kept us from taking a serious and total look at the problem in the first place. So really "So-Crates" who was a radical dude, according to Bill and Ted, is really to blame for this blog. I decided not to hide anymore, to be accountable, and to write it down, not just for you all but for us too - to say we did it, to check ourselves, to be true to our beliefs, to have a record of the fun and joy our amazing family has shared for free (or really, really cheap) while we lived this journey together. Once a month I'll write an entry specifically about our financial clean up project the rest of the time I'll share our stories and put up cute pics of E, like these:

Two... Surprise!

Sidenote: This really is all about Socrates and the INCREDIBLE, WONDERFUL, AMAZING BABE-O (who will steal the show EVERY SINGLE TIME). We aren't looking for sympathy, money or free stuff (well free stuff is always good and so is cake, we really like cake and cookies and veggie hot dogs with lots of ketchup).  BTW - what do you think Socrates kitchen looked like? Cause with all this thinking, writing, and Momma-ing my kitchen looks like crap, not to mention my laundry room.

Hey, seriously, what do you think Socrates kitchen looked like? Comment on it.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Turkey Time!

This is a great new way to procrastinate! And procrastinating is free! (for the moment it will probably cost me later).

This morning we are visiting the gym. E gets to play with his friends and David and I work out and catch up on work stuff. So here I am: in a quiet office and the last thing I want to do is work.
So I am doing all kinds of things to do everything but. During this process I realized that I have not shared any of the pictures of our Winter Break with the Turkeys! This must not be postponed! So here they are...

Meet Hans and Franz (and the free range Babe-O).
No Fear

Not even a little.

Even more interesting than Hanz and Franz is Henny Penny. I think the fascination is that she plays hard to get. See for yourself.

So there you have it - procrastination at it's finest.
 Have a free-range kind of weekend!

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Best Things in Life are Free (or really, really cheap).

It's nap time at our house. Nap time is free and one of the best parts of the day. E is usually exhausted from a busy morning of playing, exploring, and learning. He settles easily and peacefully down for a nap. Mama gets a quiet minute to do STUFF that proves difficult to do with E at my feet (like use the computer, make dinner, wash dishes, or catch up on work and reflect on the amazing-ness that is my life with David and our family).

This morning was especially exciting because it is in the high 40's and perfect for running around the front yard (and the neighbors' front yards). Today we made a bird feeder out of a Diet Coke bottle and hanger (minus the birdseed it was completely free). E got to help fill the feeder (and the ramp) with bird seed.

Then we hung it in the tree and proceeded to call the birds to eat: "Babies (this means birdies, of course) num, num, num." After, we stood out on the ramp and waited for the birds to come. E sang some songs and bounced up and down and watched garbage trucks drive by. No birds have shown up yet, but I am certain that by the end of the day there will be creatures of one sort or another eating all the goodies that E left behind.

Where are those Babies?

These are the things that I never have time to record. These are the moments of our lives that fill our hearts with happiness and nourish our souls. These are the things we wish we could share with our family and friends more often.

Over the last six months, David and I have set some goals for ourselves that we have been slowly but surely accomplishing. We both accomplished some of our long-term weight loss goals.  Recently, we have set out to make order of the chaos and destruction that is our financial situation. (There will be more detail on this to come). In the process of making changes to some of the bad habits that have become second nature in our lives, like not taking our finances seriously, there have been realizations, enlightenment, and a new way of living. For example, instead of $200 music class, E now goes to Toddler Art Time at the library, FREE. And you can't tell me this isn't the BEST piece of artwork you have ever seen!

Notice the precise application of glue stick.

This blog is a way to record our journey as we recover from our financial mistakes and carve out the life we want to have: a simple life, where the best things are free (or super, super cheap like our raw-some bird feeder).
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