Monday, January 25, 2010

To Marin: Some things I'd like you to know

There a few things every girl should know;
Here are a few to keep in mind as you grow...

- Have a firm handshake. Wimpy handshakes are not feminine.
- Send thank you notes.
- Bring a hostess gift.
- Barbie is a slut.
- Don't forget birthdays.
- Never settle for anyone less wonderful than Daddy.
-Always, always say please and thank you. Even when you are running late.
- It's okay to fall in love in high school, but be prepared for heartbreak.
- Talk to adults- even when you are not one.
- Make friends with the girl who is eating alone.
- Don't pull Uncle Jake's finger- no matter how funny he promises you it will be.
- You are beautiful. Even if you have to wear braces and inherit Mommy's crazy hair, I have looked inside your soul, and you are perfect just the way you are.
- You are never too old to need your Mommy.
- Laugh a lot.
- In moderation, it's okay to treat yourself to something special.
- Call your grandparents.
- Have your own money and manage it wisely.
- Hug generously.
- Wear nice socks and your wedding ring to the gynecologist; it makes you feel less icky.
- There is no substitute for a girlfriend you can always count on. Make sure you are there for her, too.
- Be brave.
- Be passionate about what you believe in.
- Don't order a salad on a date if you really want the filet.
- Be equal parts proud and humble.
- Give back.
- Pretty underwear is worth it.
- You won't ever know it all. Not even when you are Mommy's age.
- Remember that everyone came from somewhere different, but you are all equal in God's eyes.
- Calories don't count if you eat off a fancy plate.
- Every morning is a chance to start over.
-Trust your instincts.
- Pay attention in math class.
- If you don't think they are just friends; chances are, you're right.
- Spend some time being quiet every day.
- Always do your best, even if that means it isn't perfect.
- The nursing home isn't as scary as it seems.
- If you aren't in love, he isn't worth it.
- If he's had too much to drink, he probably doesn't mean it.
- Keep your purse closed and close to your body.
- Smile
- Share
- Throw tea parties.
- Play in the mud.
- You can never, ever have too many pairs of shoes.

Friday, January 22, 2010

When Mom's Away...

Ms. Kathy has been sick, leaving our two-working-parent household high and dry. I stayed home with Marin Tuesday and Wednesday, but had to be at a conference yesterday and today that I could not miss. Without a second thought, Jason stayed home with Marin yesterday, and totally rescheduled his day today. And Marin gets to go to work with Daddy on the train this afternoon! Gotta love the 21st century man. Power to the momma!

Stay at home parents will agree, it isn't easy. Especially when there is an ice storm and you're trapped inside all day. I know that while Tuesday (the day when I work from home) is by far my favorite day of the week because I am able to be with Marin all day, it undoubtedly requires the most multitasking. Even considering that Wednesday might bring a meeting during a teleconference while answering emails and acquiring voicemails. But moms everywhere do it every day. I am no saint. And actually, I only have one child. A relative cake walk.

But back to my story. As I said, yesterday Jason was home with Marin. I left our house at 6:20am and arrived home at 7:30pm. And when I walked in the door last night, I was certain we'd been robbed. Except that Norah and Jason and Marin (asleep in Daddy's arms) were on the couch watching the History Channel, so my fears of finding them tied up in the closet while the thieves played tea party, quickly faded. Every single toy that Marin owns was on the floor, completely dissembled, in every single room. Two computers were out and running, Marin's not quite finished dinner was still on the table, along with her dirty bib; her high chair and the table were filthy. Tons of dishes were in the sink. Jason's lunch was on the counter. The peanut butter was out and open; the lid was across the room. When I went upstairs I saw that we had apparently run out of wipes, because the box was empty, and instead of replacing them, the small stash we keep in the diaper bag was out. The bed was unmade, the curtains were still drawn. Then I asked Jason if he had gotten the mail to which he shortly replied, "No! I had Marin!" That answered my question about whether or not the recycling bins had been brought in off the curb, or if he had time to go out and get more formula.

It's not that I am ungrateful. As much as I loath disorder, it was just a momentary mess. Marin was happy as a clam and all snug as a bug in her jammies, cuddled up in her Daddy's arms. And the two of them clearly had a great time. It just goes to show- when Mom's away, don't expect Dad to multitask.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Eleven Months Old!

Well, as everyone warned, I blinked, and here we are closing in on a year. It feels totally ridiculous that eleven months have passed since the single greatest days in our lives, but that is what the calendar tells me.

I had the great pleasure of watching Marin play the other day, and I realized that she is really no longer a baby. She is a little girl. A toddler. Preposterous! Marin is a flurry of constant activity. Here is a sampling of what she's been up to this month:

* She is walking very well. Lately, she has begun running. Baby running- Not like a full blown sprint, but she's definitely harder to catch. She loves to move constantly. She walks all over gathering little things she can grab along the way- (a doll, spoons from her cabinet, a bottle brush)- and smiles brightly, babbling in her own language- stopping only to wave hi or goodbye to someone entering or leaving the room.

* Marin LOVES to climb. Especially the stairs, and not just in our house. She climbs stairs anywhere she can find them. I follow behind her and let her explore. It is like an adventure for her- "What is going to be at the top of these stairs?" Sometimes when she gets near the top she goes more quickly, like she is excited to find some secret waiting for her at the top. Often she looks over her shoulder at me standing behind her, and smiles as if to say, "Look at me, mommy- way up here!" When she does that my heart skips a beat, because she treats each stair like it is its own floor. She stands up straight right on the edge of the stair, sending me lurching forward to make sure she doesn't fall backwards, tumbling down the stairs. Recently, I found her standing on top of a stack of books at my parents house, reaching for her doll. Oh my- her adventurous little spirit is sure to keep us up at night for years to come. :)

* Marin is strong. We joke that she has abs of steel. She gets up from the ground to walk from any position and does so with little effort. She also carries things around the house that are as big as her head. The other day I found her carrying her economy size formula jug over to her dollies. They must have been hungry too. ;)
* She is such a little cuddle bug. She loves to snuggle up in our laps, and she loves to give hugs and kisses. It is the absolute BEST feeling ever. Marin also loves to give Norah hugs and likes to pat her belly- which really ends up being more like a beating for poor Norah, who takes it all like a champ.
* Marin is babbling a lot and making an attempt at a few words. When I come in a room she often yells, "I ma!!" Which is her way of saying, "Hi Mom!" This month she also added, "whoa" and "wa-wa" (water) to her vocabulary. Still, despite her new additions, she mostly just babbles in her own little language, while we pretend that it makes perfect sense. And "da-da" is still a clear winner in her language race. "A- da-daaaaa!!!!" Is her favorite saying ever. Gee, I wonder who her favorite is? ;)

* She is pointing everywhere. When we put a new light fixture up in her room, she pointed at it for days and we would say, "Yes, light. Pretty light." One time Jason's dad was holding Marin when he asked her, "Where's Norah?" And we were all shocked when she turned around and pointed at Norah. The sudden realization that she actually knows what we are saying is amazing.

* Much to my great delight, I think Marin might have inherited my anal streak. She is actually pretty tidy. I don't expect this to stick, and it is sporadic, but often times when Marin picks up a new toy, instead of dumping the old one on the floor, she puts it in the place of the new toy. Example: She was caring around a red block the other day, and she saw a paper in my grandma's purse that she wanted. So she picked up the paper, and put the red block in her purse. Hysterical. She does this in her room, too. She has little bins of toys, and if she sees a toy in a bin she wants, before she picks it up, she puts the one in her hand in the bin instead of on the floor. If only this were intentional. :)
* Marin is continuing to test the limits (often times on purpose it seems) and we are having tell her "no" more and more. She looks like the cat that swallowed the canary many times, as she walks up the stereo with at great big smile on her face, only to look back at you as if to say, "Look at me. I know this isn't allowed."

* Jake and Katy taught Marin to give high fives. It's her newest trick, and Uncle Jake's proudest moment with Marin to date.

* She is still sleeping well and eating well. She boycotted vegetables for a few weeks, but luckily zucchini won her over and she is back on the veggie bandwagon. Marin has begun eating pretty much anything that we eat. When Jason made chili, the other day, I gladly let her have some of the kidney beans- one of her favorites. After I gave her about 15 of them, and her cheeks were beat red, and she had drank a ton of water, Jason told met that they weren't kidney beans, that he had used chili hot beans instead. This is how we discovered that Marin likes spicy food.

* Marin continues to love going to Ms. Kathy's and playing with her friends at daycare. She is really quite independent. These days she goes right into daycare to start playing, without even looking back at boring mommy.

We are looking forward to her first birthday next month, and are excited to celebrate the best year of our lives, with our family and friends. Every second with Marin is truly a treat!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

House Hunters: Geneva

Every time we looked at houses, both Jason and I said we felt like we were on an episode of HGTV's House Hunters. Here is my interpretation of what it would have sounded like if we were:

[Suzanne Whang voice over]

"Jason & Johanna have loved living in the Lincoln Square neighborhood in the city of Chicago. But the birth of their daughter, Marin, has made them think it may be time for a move.

They're looking in the suburb of Geneva, known for its charming downtown shops, picturesque brick streets, and excellent restaurants. And, Geneva is Johanna's hometown. It's about 30 miles west of the city, but since the Metra train stops right downtown, it won't change their commute too drastically."

[Cut to Johanna & Jason]

" We love the proximity to shops and restaurants at our current place and we love that we have tons of closet space. But we'd like to have a yard for our daughter and our dog and we'd like a little more room to spread out. We also want to stay close to downtown and the train."

Suzanne Whang: "Jason and Johanna have listed the help of real estate agent Michelle to help them find something downtown in Geneva's Historic District. Having just had a contract fall through, they are ready to take a look again and hope they can find something they like as well."

[Cut to Michelle]

"Downtown Geneva is very quaint. The town's historic preservation committee keeps a good handle on any improvements made to the homes to be sure that they are true to the home's original character."

[Suzanne Whang voice over]

Today Michelle takes Johanna and Jason to see a 3 bedroom, 3 bath home right downtown.

[Johanna & Jason outside the home]

"This is cute. It needs new siding, but it is a great location, and it looks like it is in pretty good shape."

Michelle: "Yes, it is a very solid home. And there is a lot of work, but it is all cosmetic. The homeowners have updated the electrical, the piping and the furnace. And, it has a new roof. Let's go inside."

Johanna & Jason: "Oh yeah. Great character. But yes, oh my. It needs A LOT of updating. We'd have to put in a new kitchen & refinish all of the floors- this carpeting NEEDS to go. But we could do it. We love the space in here. We love the layout. We love the windows on either side of the fireplace and we could build built ins there. The fireplace is great, and I can really see us sitting out here on this front porch. The built in in the dining room is gorgeous. There are a lot of original details in this home that reflect the reasons why we love older homes. We could make the basement into a playroom. Let's look upstairs."


Johanna & Jason: "Good room sizes. Small closets though. Do you think our furniture would fit? We could add an addition on the back here to have a master bedroom suite. That would be really nice."

Love the clawfoot tub in the bathroom upstairs though. That is a gorgeous original detail."

Michelle: "Well, what did you think?"

Johanna & Jason: "We like it a lot. It needs a lot of work, but we could do it in phases and make it our own. It is in a great location."

Michelle: "Okay, well I know you wanted to look at a few more, but we'll keep this one on our list."

Johanna & Jason: "Definitely!"

[Suzanne Whang voice over]

Next, Michelle takes Johanna & Jason to see a newer home. With 4 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths, it's bigger than the first one and needs less updating, but it is further from downtown.

Johanna & Jason: "I like the brick. I'd paint the shutters and scale back the landscaping, but that is easy enough."

Michelle: "Let's take a look!"

Johanna & Jason: "Okay, yeah. Needs a few updates on the floors, but nothing dire. Oh wow! GREAT kitchen. Viking range. Amazing double Subzero fridge. Wow. That's really great.

What is that smell?"

Michelle: "The homeowners grow all of their own herbs and spices. They have made a lot of environmental considerations with the home, as well. That is also why they just spent $40,000.00 putting in the cork floors upstairs."

Johanna & Jason: "Yeah, it smells like a vegetable garden in here!

Nice sunroom in the back, but it doesn't look like a permanent addition to the house. It looks a little like it was just tacked on. It doesn't look very solid.

This bonus room above the garage is nice, but this spiral staircase, although cool, doesn't really seem practical, and the room is a little isolated otherwise. I don't even know how we would get furniture up here."

Michelle: "Let's look upstairs. I'll show you those cork floors."

Johanna & Jason: "Great space up here. Very spacious hallway area. I'm not sure I like the way that the cork floors look, but I like that it is eco friendly.

Nice bedroom sizes. Good closet space. The bathrooms need to be updated though. The master bedroom is a great size. Johanna really likes the whirlpool tub. She uses ours in our condo all the time. This is a great space."

Michelle: "Okay, well, what did you think about this one?"

Johanna & Jason: "It had a lot of good space. A lot of storage. Nice bonus room, although the stairs to get there aren't good for the baby if we were to use that room as a playroom. It is big though. There would be a lot of space to spread out.

It is farther from downtown. We wouldn't be able to walk to the train, really. And, it doesn't have that old character that we like. And, it still needs some updating.

It is a good price though for as big as it is. We'll think about it."

[Suzanne Whang voice over]

Today Michelle is showing Johanna and Jason a 4 bedroom, 1 1/2 bathroom home back downtown in the historic district. It also needs to be updated, and although its further from the train than the first home, they'd still be able to walk.

Johanna & Jason: "This is nice. Nice big yard. Our dog would love that. It looks like the garage is nice and big."

Michelle: "Yes, that is a 4 car garage, actually."

Johanna & Jason: "Oh! Room for a boat." :)

Michelle: "Let me show you around inside the home."

Johanna & Jason: "Nice slate floor in the entry. Great staircase with a window. Nice entrance. Is this the living room over here?"

Michelle: "Yes, in to your left."

Johanna & Jason: "Oh okay. No fireplace. We really like a fireplace, so that is a bummer."

Michelle: "You could always add one."

Johanna & Jason: "Yes, that is true. It seems like the layout here is a little strange. The kitchen is back here? Yes, okay... it needs to be totally redone too. And this basement is so small I don't even think I can fit down the stairs."

Michelle: "I think you guys are going to really love the upstairs. Let's head up."

Johanna & Jason: "Oh yes. Wow. This is a huge upstairs for the age of the home. The rooms are really nice sizes and the closets are decent as well. This bathroom is a little strange though. Is there a shower anywhere?"

Michelle: "There is a shower downstairs in the back of the house. It is small though."

Johanna & Jason: "Okay, yeah, the bathrooms are in very strange spots here."

Michelle: "Well, what do you think overall?"

Johanna & Jason: "Well, it has a great backyard, and a great garage. Jason could have a workshop out there. The bedrooms and the upstairs are big, and the front entryway is nice. But I don't like that there isn't a fireplace and the layout is strange. And, it needs a lot of work. But it is downtown, which we like."

[Suzanne Whang voice over]

Johanna and Jason have looked at three homes in historic Geneva.

The first is right downtown by the shops and the restaurants and also near the train. It has a lot of the charm that Johanna & Jason were looking for, but it needs a lot of updating.

Johanna & Jason: We love the location of the first house. And it had a lot of great character. But it needs a lot of updating and would be a huge project. It had great potential, and the best bones of any of the homes. It is nice that it has air conditioning and a new roof and the updated electrical is a bonus. We could do some of those updates right away, but we would have to wait and do a lot of them down the road, as well. We love the fireplace and the potential playroom space for Marin. But it would be a lot of work."

[Suzanne Whang]

The next house is the largest house. It has a spacious layout and would have plenty of room for storage. But, it still needs to be updated, and it's the farthest from downtown.

Johanna & Jason: "We liked the Ashbury house because it had a lot of space and storage. And it had a great master bedroom and a fabulous kitchen! But it still needed some updating and wasn't right downtown."

[Suzanne Whang]

The last home was back downtown but it needed more work and was still a little farther from the train that Johanna and Jason take to work each day. Plus, it had a strange layout. But it had a large garage for a workshop for Jason and a nice big yard.

Johanna & Jason: "We like the blue house. It had a good upstairs, a good yard and a huge garage. But it didn't have a fireplace and the basement is essentially unusable. It was a good location, but still a little far from the train.

[Suzanne Whang]

SO... which one did they choose?............

Johanna & Jason: "We chose.......

The first house! In the end we just couldn't beat the location and we loved all of the features and the potential it had."

[Suzanne Whang]

It is now four months later, and Johanna and Jason have been hard at work.

Johanna & Jason: "Well, we did a lot of work. We ripped up all of the flooring, we totally gutted the kitchen, we replaced and added most of the lighting fixtures, and we moved a few walls. We still have a lot more work to do, a lot of decorating to do, and a lot of other projects planned for the future, including the addition of a master bedroom suite, but for now, we love our house and we know that we made the right choice. And we're never going to move again!" :)




Give a mom a make-over....

...when a woman with a cleaning cart crosses in front of her in the train station and says, "Excuse me, sir."

True story. Happened to me this morning.

Can't make that kind of humiliation up, nor would I wish it on any of you.

(And for the record- yes, I am sure she was talking to me. She looked right at me.) Awesome.

********** update: added later***************
My mom feels it is important that I mention that I was wearing what she calls the "man hat"- a very warm, very comfortable hat that, in her opinion, offers more protection from the elements than style. Still, even if the woman had called me "ugly sir" it wouldn't make me stop wearing that hat. It is so warm and I love it! I just got the hat for Christmas. Since I know you are curious, here is a picture of my dad and I in hats that my mom dislikes equally.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This one's for the girls!

I have to preface this post with the disclaimer that Jason is of course a wonderful father and darling husband. Just today, I heard that Colbie Caillat song, "Falling for you" while I was driving to work and I sang along at the top of my lungs because it makes me happy thinking back to exactly what it felt like when I met Jason for the first time ten years ago. And watching Jason with Marin is truly one of my very greatest joys in life. They have their own jokes and games that I just can't seem to duplicate. Theirs is a love affair in the purest of daddy/daughter forms.

That being said.... When I turned to page 500ish of "What to Expect the First Year" yesterday, and came home to discuss what I had read with Jason, as is often my pattern, I thought aloud.... "You know, you could read these books too." This is only one of multiple books that I have read or consulted, on top of everything I read when I was pregnant with Marin. Not to mention the fact that I had to turn my body over to carry her for 40 weeks and exclusively feeding her around the clock for seven months after that. Granted, I did all of that willingly. But shouldn't Jason have to worry maybe just once about what to do about discipline or sleep schedules or what to feed her next? I'll tell you why he doesn't. Because I read the books and the articles and then come home with a verbal book report. Man, he has quite the life.

So as I was lightheartedly relaying these points to him last night (and pointing out the fact that they make a "Daddy section" so he really only had to commit to a maybe 100 pages versus the thousands that I have read and deliberated over) he said to me, "I want you to find me one dad that reads those books."

And so I will. Yes ladies, I am asking you to turn your husbands in to me. I know they are out there. I know some of your husbands read those books, or at least chapters in those books. Hand 'em over. I'm going to (gently) rub my darling husbands face in it. :) Come on- Rob? Craig? I bet they read them. Better yet- has any ones husband even tossed and turned at night and when you asked them what was bothering them answered, "I just can't help but wonder if Junior is adjusting at daycare as he/she should" or whatever it might be; you fill in the blank.

Of course I realize there is the slight chance that Jason is right; that no dad has read those books. In that case, I am going to have to go home tonight with my tail pulled very tightly between my legs and offer to do the dishes for a week as penance for my pride.

Let the comments come in. Please.

Let's bring the daddy back! 2010 is the year of the dad! What should you feed her? Do what I did- look it up. Can't figure out how to manage five different tasks while standing on your head, AND clean up afterwards? Welcome to my world, dad. It's your year!

Monday, January 4, 2010

All I want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth!

When I was maybe sevenish, I lost one of my front teeth on Christmas Eve. I had lost the other one a little while before, causing a gaping whole in the front of my mouth. Because of my newest prize for the tooth fairy, my Dad taught me the words to "All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth", and convinced me to sing it for my entire family at Christmas dinner. Ever the performer, I followed through- with hand motions, I might add. I am certain that someone got it on film; I am hopeful that the footage has been lost.

Marin didn't get teeth for Christmas this year, and is in fact still a walking toothless wonder, but she did get about everything else plus the kitchen sink! (Oh boy- I am SO my mom. That is something right out of her mouth- she loves that phrase!).

We had a wonderful 14 days together as a family. We were able to visit with our loved ones, catch up with many of our friends, some of whom we hadn't seen in years, and even enjoy some time just sitting on the floor playing dollies and tea party. The best!

Of course, we packed about as much action as is humanly possible into the holidays. My friend, Emilie, called us the "Energizer Patterson's" and true to the name, we kept a full schedule of celebration and cheer. Marin troded right along like a little champ and despite getting a little cold near the end, literally only cried twice.

Here is what Marin's first Christmas celebration schedule looked like:

December 13th: Home from the cruise. Immediately bought her first Christmas tree and decorated it.

December 14th & 15th: Back to daycare. Prepare for Christmas. Do laundry, order Christmas cards, unpack our house.
December 16th: Host my mom's birthday dinner at our house.

December 17th: Neighborhood Party

December 18th: Marin's Christmas Party at daycare. First time she sits on Santa's lap. Not so sure about Santa at first, but his bells are definitely interesting.

December 19th morning: Attend our neighbor's 2nd Birthday Brunch with Santa. This time, Marin is less scared of sitting on Santa's lap, but isn't exactly crazy about him either.

December 19th evening: Holiday party with my group of college friends. Marin had a playdate with her buddy Ryan who is two weeks younger than she. Insert "older woman" joke here. :)

December 20th: Christmas party at Craig, Erica and Kai's. We work out the dowry agreements for Kai and Marin's arranged marriage in 26 years. :)

December 20th evening: We make Marin's First Christmas ornament. As her parents, we agree- there has never been anything cuter.

December 21st & 22nd: Furiously shop for Christmas in a snow storm. Took a few hours out to meet my mom for lunch and sit in the snow.

December 22nd evening: Attend annual Conti/Patterson Christmas dinner at Molly & Brian's in the city. Per usual, Marin is spoiled by Auntie Molly and Uncle Bri, excepting this silly onesie. We tell Marin on the way home that the M's stand for Marin and that "Go Blue" means "eat your vegetables". :)

December 23rd: Attend Martin Christmas at my Uncle Reed and Aunt Jeanie's. Marin discovers her love of bows, wrapping paper and oh yeah, the present are pretty cool too, after she is done playing with boxes they came in.

December 23rd evening: Uncle Jake and Aunt Katy spend the night, upholding a sleep over tradition Jake and I have upheld for as long as we can remember. After a few glasses of wine, we con Jake and Katy into helping Santa wrap presents. Suckers.

December 24th: We leave first thing in the morning for Jason's parent's house. The whole gang is there, which is a rare treat! We meet our niece for the first time, who is just two weeks older than Marin, and enjoy the day watching the girls play together and cracking up at our 2 1/2 year old nephew play the guitar with pool sticks while he exclaims, "ROCKSTAR!!!" Marin is showered with gifts and falls asleep in Pappy's arms. After all the kids are in bed, we play Christmas trivia with fun prizes.

December 25th: Marin's First Christmas!!! We wake up at 5:45am to be on the road at 6:00am. Marin sleeps through the whole thing. Santa and Mrs. Claus wish for the same pleasure. When we arrive at my parents house, we are all thoroughly spoiled beyond what we deserve, although Marin is rightfully treated like a princess and gets every gift any girl could ever dream of, including a piano just her size and Bitty Baby! What's more, my dad finished my dollhouse from when I was a little girl, which entailed hand laying shingles and a trip to the single doll house store in three counties on the snowiest day of the year. He is making a stand, and Marin and I will get to play with it together for years to come, until the day she passes it on to her daughter.

December 25th afternoon: Jake and Katy, my Uncle John and my Grandparents arrive for Christmas day dinner! We enjoy a delicious meal together and watch the snow fall, recounting all those who have shared our Christmas table.

December 26th: Christmas brunch at my parent's house. And, just when everyone has the post Christmas blues, my mom brings out the stockings! A Martin house favorite!

December 26th afternoon: Jason, Marin and I head to Jason's Aunt Jean and Uncle Don's house to visit with the Chilson family, in town from three different states. The kids all run around together and totally take over the house. And to think- next year there will be three more! (Gretchen and Bob are having twin boys in March and Mike and Elizabeth are expecting thier second in May!)

December 26th night: Pappy spends the night!

December 27th: Marin has back to back brunches- first with Daddy and Pappy, then with Mommy and her friends from high school- at the same restaurant! She eats pears prepared the same way at both meals. More ended up on the floor than in her stomach.

December 27th evening: Marin heads to Grandma and Grandpa's for a sleepover and Mommy and Daddy head to the city to celebrate Jon's birthday.

December 28th: Spend the morning in the city. Meet and have brunch with new baby Estella.

December 29th: Jason's cousin's Neal and Nicole come to visit. We have lunch and do a little window shopping in our neighborhood. Nicole brought Marin a handmade blanket that is so soft, I consider asking Marin if I can borrow it for the year- I mean night. Aunt Lindsay joins us for dinner out that evening and sleeps over that night. We have our first fire in our fireplace.

December 30th: Head to my parent's house for fondue and to watch the Illini vs. Northwestern game. The Illini win in overtime! Oskee-wow-wow!!

December 31st: First annual Christmas break luncheon with Grandma at the Herrington, a beautiful restaurant in town, on the river. We all dress up and Marin wears her shiny party shoes. For the record, she does not like beets. But she did love climbing the giant staircase in the lobby.

December 31st: New Year's Eve! Ross and Emilie come to visit! We have our own little count down with Marin at home, before piling her in her snow suit and heading to Craig and Erica's house. She and Kai spend their first New Year's Eve together, even though they are both asleep, under Erica's parent's care, and totally unaware of each other's presence. The adults head across the street to ring in 2010 with good friends old and new.

January 1st: New Year's day brunch with Ross and Emilie. Emilie and I enjoy a little hair of the dog. It's a new year- why not indulge before noon?!

January 2nd: Head to Jason's Aunt Vee and Uncle Bob's house to have Christmas with the Hinrich's family. Aunt Vee is literally waiting at the door with open arms for Marin when we arrive. Great Grandpa Hinrich's especially loves seeing Marin who he sweetly calls "my little girl; the prettiest girl in Chicago". We have a great lunch and enjoy spending the day together. Marin opens her first tea set, and even gets some money for her college fund. Marin officially has more money in the bank that her mommy does. Good for you, Marin.

January 3rd: Celebrate my Grandma and Grandpa Martin's 65th wedding anniversary! The entire Martin family attends church with my grandparents, at their request. We take up three pews, specially reserved for us. We celebrate their love, and all that it produced at my Uncle Reed and Aunt Jeanie's house afterwards. All five of their great grandchildren are there, running circles beneath their feet. And Amy and Ryan are making that six great grandchildren in 2010!

January 4th: Back to work, so I can relax. :)

I have to say, I am a little nostalgic about saying goodbye to 2009. I know it was a hard year for the country, but it was magical for our little family. Marin has absolutely made our lives worth living in a way I never imagined possible. She has made me view every day in a new way, and has made every minute a blessing. We also moved into our home this year. Where Marin will learn to run and ride a bike, and, against her father's wishes otherwise, might bring home a boy one day.

But I know that 2010 will be a good year too. Marin's little giggles will fill the rooms of our new house as we settle in and make it our home. We'll celebrate the milestone that is her First Birthday there next month. I'm sure we'll be busy in the coming year, too. But I extent my wow to this new year as I kept in 2009, to never ever be too busy to tell Marin every night how much I love her, how special she is, and to thank God for making us a family.

We are blessed. I wish the very same for you in 2010. May it be your best year yet