Friday, August 31, 2007

All in a Day's Work

Last night, I had my hair cut and highlighted. Even when I was fresh out of college, just making ends meet on my starting salary with an $800-a-month rent in downtown Chicago, I have always done this one special thing for myself. I look forward to pampering myself, and for only $90, I leave the salon feeling like a million bucks.

Only last night, the first words out of my stylist's mouth were, "So you're not working anymore?" followed by a series of other harmless, but irritating comments about the 1950's. I guess I've been preparing myself for this for awhile. I smiled at him and responded pleasantly, while quietly thinking, "Hey bud, if you think I'm not working, I'd love for you to give this a try." And oh, by the way, more female doctors, lawyers and professionals are choosing to stay home now than in the last decade. It's a generational thing.

I'm transitioning into a brand new chapter of my life...wonderful and fulfilling, but a transition, no less. I've traded in my tweed skirts, suits and three-inch heels for clothes that can I run through the washing machine several times a week (yesterday, my first wardrobe change was before 10am), and I've exchanged my button down tops for shirts I can yank up when Madeline's hungry. I'm growing my Peoria network (i.e. making new friends) to include women who are home during the day, using tactics that make me feel like I'm dating again. My new salary is watching Madeline's personality unfold and feeling my husband's deep gratitude. My annual review will be looking back when Madeline turns one and appreciating every minute. My raises and promotions will come from within.

So admittedly, part of this transition for me involves taking pride and feeling confident in Rob and my decision, even if it's a choice that not everyone makes. It means not being sensitive to silly comments from well-meaning people (we'll give them the benefit of the doubt) who have never been faced with the same decision. And it definitely means respecting each of the choices we make for our families -- be that to work inside or outside our homes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Breast Cancer 3-Day

Last weekend, dear friends of mine, Johanna and Molly, walked 60 miles in the Breast Cancer 3-Day, which benefits Susan G. Komen by funding breast cancer research and community outreach. They walked for my mom. I am so blessed to have such amazing women in my life.

Here is what Jo said in an email when they were all done:
The 3-Day was AMAZING. You absolutely have to do it. All of your sister’s should; you should do it together. Molly and I met these sisters who were walking together for their mom. Everyone there was amazing. I could go on for hours about it. It was so inspirational. It was very emotional, too. But so awesome. The stories of the courage, and the fighters, and the mourners. It. Was. Amazing! I don’t want to tell you too much, because you almost just have to see for yourself. But it was so fun. It was also very hot, and very hard. But we had trained well, and we walked every single stinking mile!! The closing ceremonies were incredible. Erica and her mom came and when I saw them I went crazy. The combination of little sleep, my emotions on overdrive, and the adrenalin through my body made that surprise so great. It was a lifetime experience.

Every walker signed a "remembrance" tent for those who have passed away to breast cancer. Molly and Jo wrote my mom's name.

Thank you, Molly and Jo...for remembering and for being such terrific friends.

You Want Me To Put That Where?

Madeline is sitting up by herself! She's been working at it for the last few weeks. And she's also rolling over! Watching her squirm and build momentum until that pivotal moment when her little legs and body finally hurtle over is like watching a fish flop around on my grandpa's dock. The best part is that she completely surprises herself every time she succeeds and lands on her tummy.

She woke up this morning with a cold. If anyone else made the same dry cough, I would think they were probably faking -- it's so little and delicate. The poor thing has snot that drips and puddles above her top lip until I grab the nearest thing to stop it from sliding into her mouth. Sorry - I know that was gross. Okay, and let's talk about checking for fevers, which thankfully, she does not have. The truest way to take a baby's temperature is rectally. It was initially horrifying, but now we just get it done and Madeline keeps playing with her stuffed turtle or her toes totally unaware of what is happening to her. All I can say is "Sorry, Madeline. The doctor said I had to."

We are fortunate to live only five minutes from Caterpillar's headquarters, where Rob works. He comes home for lunch with his girls almost every day! It is so special for me to see how much he loves Madeline. He's an amazing dad!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Ellie and Madeline: Friends Forever

My good friend, Buffy, and her adorable little one, Ellie, spent Friday morning at our house, which was so fun! Buffy showed up with Starbucks right before the girls each went down for their morning nap, so we got to have some uninterrupted "grown up" time. The girls are only 11 weeks apart in age -- it's amazing to see how much they change and grow in that tiny span of time. Then on Sunday, we had a great time catching up with our friends from Evanston, Katie and Steve -- they stopped through Peoria heading north from St. Louis.

As September approaches, I start getting really excited about fall, my favorite season of the year. There are so many things to love -- the changing leaves, that fall smell, wearing a sweater when the air gets cool, going apple picking, celebrating our wedding anniversary (four years next month!), going to Illini football games....and of course, Halloween! We are trying to figure out how to throw our annual costume party with a sleeping baby upstairs. Regardless, Miss Madeline will need a fabulous costume for trick-or-treating. So far, the front runner is a baby-sized monkey suit.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Forever Young

Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.
- Henry David Thoreau

Anyone who knew my mom knew her laugh -- it was the sound of a person who loves life. It filled a room; you knew she was coming before she was there. Once when I was in college, she watched me perform in Foellinger Auditorium -- even from the stage looking out in the darkness at hundreds of people, I knew exactly where she was sitting because something made her laugh. She used to tell me I should be on Saturday Night Live. Let's face one but your mom thinks you're that funny -- but the way she laughed so hard, you started to believe that maybe you actually were that funny. And it wasn't just her laugh. It was in the way she sang in her car with the windows down and the sunroof open to Bonnie Raitt or Alison Krauss or Madonna. In church too -- she belted high notes that were way out of her range, no matter how early it was in the morning. It was in her art - passionate, messy, abstract and beautiful, with paint running off the canvas. It was in the way she lived. Taking chances, and lots of them. She was elegant ("never pluck your eyebrows in front of Rob"), but she never shied away from a power tool. Most of all, my mom's legacy is in all the incredible memories I have of her raising us...her daughters, Mollie, Andrea and me.

Two years ago today, my mom passed away to breast cancer at 52 years old. She was the most courageous person I have ever known. She was also an amazing mother. As a new mother myself, I have an even greater appreciation for her. She loved the friends we brought home and always trusted us. She taught us to trust ourselves. She believed that we could do or be anything. She planned unbelievable birthday parties (imaginary fairy lands, obstacle courses through the mud, elaborate surprises). She always talked about having us paint the piano wild colors - I don't know why we never did. She could be tough, but then she would unexpectedly offer up a note ("Meg has a headache...") if I wasn't ready for a test. Before she knew she was sick, she told me, as a newlywed, that it was time to consult and trust my husband's advice above hers.

I wish so desperately that Madeline could know her. That was my prayer today. Because I know my mom already knows Madeline -- they were probably hanging out before Madeline made her grand entrance. Maybe Madeline will know my mom through through my sisters and me.

I'm going to try to be as great as my mom was. I'm going to help Madeline through her first painful crushes on boys. Maybe I'll learn to sew so I can make her the prom dress of her dreams, like my mom did for me. I'll plan fabulous birthday parties that would put Wolfgang Puck to shame. And we're definitely going to paint the piano.
My mom requested we play Rod Stewart's Forever Young at her funeral -- to make it a celebration of her life. Here are the words:

May the good lord be with you
Down every road you roam
And may sunshine and happiness
Surround you when you're far from home
And may you grow to be proud
Dignified and true
And do unto others
As you'd have done to you
Be courageous and be brave
And in my heart you'll always stay
Forever young, forever young

May good fortune be with you
May your guiding light be strong
Build a stairway to heaven
With a prince or a vagabond

And may you never love in vain
And in my heart you will remain
Forever young, forever young

And when you finally fly away
Ill be hoping that I served you well
For all the wisdom of a lifetime
No one can ever tell

But whatever road you choose
I'm right behind you, win or lose
Forever young, forever young

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Madeline's First Photoshoot

We took Madeline to Sears for her first professional photo shoot. The poor thing was hungry and overdue for a nap....but she still cheerfully let us put her in silly poses and flash bright lights in her eyes.

And speaking of bright lights, I think maybe I know what it feels like to be Paris Hilton, chased by the paparazzi. Well, not really at all...but I do have flashing at the edges of both eyes. I went to my doctor and found out I strained the layer of my eye behind the retina while pushing during labor. Wow. I knew pregnancy would be a lot of work, and breastfeeding's like a full time job, but I had no idea how the human body would be tested by childbirth! It should go away in three weeks, but until then, I keep whipping my head to the right or left because I think there's something there.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Madeline "Teradactyl" Vlach

Tuesday was Rob's 29th birthday! Sadly, the poor guy was sick as a dog, so we celebrated this morning instead. Our friends, Erica and Craig, visited from Chicago last weekend with their adorable dog, Guthry. It was a relaxed, quick stay -- we were so grateful they were able to make the trip down with their busy schedules.

Lately, it sounds like we're living with a Teradactyl! Madeline has discovered the sound of her own voice and she loves it! We love it too -- she makes me laugh so hard I get the hiccups (a Wiebmer trait for some unknown reason). We have also discovered that Madeline's fascination with toes doesn't stop with her own! (She goes straight for her mom's red pedicures!). I also couldn't resist posting this silly picture of her wrestling a Coors Light away from Kyle, Andi's boyfriend.