Friday, September 26, 2008

Birthday Lunch

Jane turns 2 today! To celebrate, we went for pizza with grandparents, great grand-parents and "the cousins." This is a video of Jane holding her beloved new baby, "Lucie." Thank you, Mom and Dad - that doll was the perfect gift!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Go Team Go...

"Momma, why don't you know any cheerleads?" Isabelle asks, accusingly. Well...Mommy didn't make cheerleader because she was too serious and ridiculously uncoordinated. In fact, Mommy entered high school denying the fact she ever tried out, becoming more cynical as high school progressed preferring to wear black and listen to the Smiths. But Mommy's just delighted to revisit all of that now - in fact, let's do cheerleads all morning!

Of course, I did not answer my sweet Isabelle like that. To the contrary, I spent this and several other mornings pulling cheers out of my Georgetown, Texas, memory. It's not like it's that taxing - to play "cheerlead" - the weather's beautiful and my girls are precious - it's actually pretty fun. My friend, Beth, gets to play "starwars" all morning. I think that would be tough. It's just another one of those parenting situations, like pacifiers, birthday parties, and preschool that I have to ask myself: Is this about them or me. Do I cringe because of my own pride and insecurity or because I'm genuinely concerned for their little souls? Am I pushing this to help them become independent people or to make me look like a good mom?

So, we're going to keep cheerleading over here at the Maddex home; pompoms, megaphones and all. I'm not saying I don't tense a bit when Isabelle says she wants to be a cheerleader when she grows up (I keep picturing the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders with their makeup and midriffs), but have put it into perspective. I mean, she used to say she wanted to be a motorcycle driver! Therefore, beautiful Mom, Bethany, Molly, Beth (and all other former cheerleaders), this picture's for you.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

"Back Home"

I love Chicago. I loved it from the first time I heard my uncle talk about it - an arrogant professor from the university of Chicago - he made us deep dish "Chicago style" pizza and talked about taking taxis. I didn't even really like the pizza -it was "too much", I thought, but loved that there was a "Chicago style." Next to my Texas upbringing it seemed so...urban. The first time I saw it - age 17 - visiting Wheaton college sans parents...I remember taking the metra train into Northwestern station from the suburbs...I was completely smitten. A Wheaton friend recently reminded me of our freshman year - where we were picked up by undercover cops on our way to a Ukranian restaurant. Apparently we were "between two projects." I really didn't know what that meant, or care - it just seemed exciting - and a better story than who got "wasted" at a bonfire in my hometown.

Today - a million years later - I took my daughters and niece to meet a college friend. We took the Metra "into the city." I felt determined to be unaffected by my move to the suburbs (or worse, Indiana)- I mean, we lived in Chicago for a long time - in Roger's Park, Humboldt Park, Lincoln Park, the Gold Coast - we paid our "urban dues," right?

At first it was wonderful. It was as though everyone in a 50 mile radius was out to celebrate the clear blue sky on this last day of summer. And the museum was great - the girls loved each exhibit more than the last - from sponge paint to a three story ropes course - Isabelle especially, was exhilerated.

And then we were hungry and tired and our feet hurt and I realized I had become a suburban/small town mom. I worried about germs on the train and needed to get home and check on my chili in the croc pot. So on the train ride home I felt sort of disappointed in myself. When had I gotten so soft? But then I opened the door to my cozy little home - a wave of cumin and chile powder wafted towards my nose. "Back home!" yelled my two year old enthusiastically and we all four knew how glad that we were.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Family Night

So we had planned to have "the cousins" over for MOVIE night, tonight - I mean Parent Trap (the original) was on pay preview - and the girls and I got icecream and miniature M&Ms in preparation. Ofcourse, I'd never actually received confirmation from the cousins - just assumed their availabitity - forgetting their scheduled trip early the next morning. My sister in-law broke it to me gently -"I think I'm going to keep the kids here tonight so they're rested for the drive - will Isabelle be too disappointed?" "No, not at all," I lied. Just that morning Isabelle suggested we set various stuffed animals and baby dolls around the table so that we could at least, "pretend" we had a big family. I thought another comment like that might dampen my festive "family night" mood.

As I prepared myself to share the news with Isabelle, I decided to cushion the blow. "But," I said bluffing like a Vegas pro, "Daddy and I have planned an adventure!" It was Friday night and we needed some break in the routine - I mean, we are all four here ALL of the time...

So I went to Bobby's office (in the the basement) and frantically shared the new plan. "Take us on a family adventure," I pleaded/demanded. Long pause. "What exactly do you have in mind?" he questioned (married to me long enough to know to just ask out right).

The thing is, I didn't really know what I was hoping for. A walk down the street for Thai food? A stroll through a used book store? Maybe a trip to Giardelli's for hot cocoa. While viable options in the city (on the weekends, baby Isabelle would start asking for "crab rangoon,") none of these seemed right or even possible out here in NW Indiana.

So, after some internet research, we ended up at Innman's Fun and Party Center. Northwest Indiana at its finest! However, it turned out to be the perfect diversion. After getting through the initial crisis of not having socks (we didn't immediately realize that "fun" meant bowling) we bought new socks and picked out our bowling balls. There was a time I thought that Isabelle would never get over the excitement and stimulation of the city. Turns out that I was wrong - and needed look no further than the local bowling alley. She tied Bobby and badly beat Jane and I. We (and all the other patrons) laughed hard as Bobby slipped on the lane's wax and fell flat on his, "bobum.

On our way home, the girls sang songs together. "Mom," said Isabelle who only sings when she's peaceful, "Tell me another song to sing." "You are my sunshine?" I offered. "Mmm no...not one of those cutsie ones...oh! I know," and then she begins to sing, "The wheels on the bus..."

Within seconds, Isabelle is Joined by Bobby's deep, articulate voice and Janes's tiny one. I listen and feel full and content. My little family is so big, I think to myself; and for the first time, it feels complete.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Even to me, this feels like an obnoxious amount of writing about my girls - "they're cute, aren't they?" - I feel I'm begging with each post. While that may be the slightest bit true (first rule of therapy - know thyself and all) I really have another agenda in mind:
1) Document (for the sake of incomplete baby books) - I mean it's sad when you only have two children and they ask - "what did I do when i was a baby?" and you just look back at them sort of puzzled.

2) Update my parents. They live within an hour of their other grandbabies - I need to do something to level the playing field!

3) Avoid doing laundry. At present, my dryer is not working - and it's quite rainy. Hanging wet clothes all over my house seems like a nightmare. In fact - I have washed the same load 3 times as it keep cycling through stages of clean, musty and then moldy.

So - all of that to say...jane has some new words and phrases.

1. (I'm into lists today - I think it relieves the guilt caused by avoiding my "todo"). Anyway, her first new word is, "pothead" as in, I wear a pot on my head.

2. "Sure." This she picked up from her cousin, Mary. They both say it casually, as though they are fifteen and may have time for you if there's nothing better going on.

3. ""Super," as in I'm "super-cold," or "super hungry (hungee)"

4. "Privates," pronounced, "pie-vits" - as in "don't see mine," or "Happy Birthday to you, pievits." Hmmm.

5. This one, she says with her sister - they hold their hand next to their ear, imaginary phone style and pretend to call the "Tickle monster." "hello (hey-yo) tickle monsta?" Wherein the other sister attacks with tickles.

6. This last one is my favorite, "Nope, nope" as in, although I'm smiling, I absolutely refuse to do whatever it is you're asking of me (ie, come brush teeth, pick up toys, etc.) - and you can tell I'm serious, because I'm saying it twice.

Alright, Mom and Dad - this one was for you. Wouldn't want you to get the wrong idea and think Janie is all sugar and no spice!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Sunshine

My daughter Isabelle has had quite a summer. We moved within walking distance of her two favorite things: the Y swimming pool and her cousin Priscilla. Yet after Labor Day weekend, Isabelle has a new favorite: the lake. "I'll never swim at the Y again," she exclaimed, jumping off a big yellow raft into the deep, murky water. I don't know what it was exactly about the Wisconsin cabin - the woods, her cousins, the sand on the beach, the nonstop swimming, the bonfire - probably everything combined, but Isabelle was in her element. As we turned into the dirt driveway, surrounded by pine trees, Isabelle started bouncing in her seat. "I'm so excited" she squeaked. She was actually shaking with anticipation. "jane scared.." whispered my sweet little one, not quite getting the magic of a forest.

So often I am hard on Isabelle. She's really shy - to the point of being impolite - a trait that grates against my Texan hospitality. She's also incredibly intense: she has big, loud feelings (including a temper which sortof frightens my husband and i into submission), a healthy appetite, and tons of energy. As a toddler, I would worry about her hurting other kids - she was that strong. But as I saw her play at the lakehouse, totally invested in the moment, I was filled with awe.

As I child, I would have played with the other kids - pretending to enjoy the dirty lake water, the races "back home" and the impromptu soccer games. But the truth was, I'd much rather have been talking with the adults, showing off my social skills. During the weekend at the lake, I realized (again) just how special Isabelle is. I don't want her to be me (what a weird, overly verbal, physically awkward kid I was anyway). I hope I can encourage both of my daughters to embrace themselves - with the minds, bodies, strengths and weaknesses they've been given - learning to use their unique little selves as His instruments rather than the world's (or mine).