30 June 2008

Lunch at the Taste

I work only blocks from the Taste of Chicago. Usually we make it an annual event and go for lunch ... once. Crowds are bearable, so the risk of getting skimmed with a BBQ turkey leg isn't as great. But you do have to keep your eyes open so you don't get sniped by a stroller. Which is weird, because I can just picture H & C complaining the minute we got there. I guess it just depends on the child though and don't think this would be their thing. Anyhow, what is fun, is all the restaurants have "taste" portions. I had roasted corn, gazpacho, steak taco, bao and a rainbow cone. Minus one person, here's the group I spend over eight hours a day with -- Tim, Moira, Kari and me -- on our way back to the office.

29 June 2008

Back in Wisconsin

It was another fun weekend in Wisconsin. Storm, Brian and I drove up to retrieve H & C. But while were were there, my mom, H, C and I also got to visit Irma and her gorgeous new baby. Yes, he's looking at me like I'm nuts (below), but that's because I had to wake him up in order to get my baby time in. Seriously, he's so sweet.

While we were there, Brian golfed the 7th Annual Player Invitational. It's an event started in memory of Jeff Schwebel, and benefits the One Step at a Time Camp which is a camp for children with cancer. H, C and I met up with him later in the evening. It's always a really nice time, where we get to see friends and celebrate friends while benefiting a great cause. Each year one of the campers speaks, and it's always so inspirational.













The last stop was Racine for Pam's graduation party at Uncorkt. But before the party, we went to North Beach. Brian swam in the frigid waters (in a wet suit), while H & C ate coconut paletas, played in the sand and the playground. We had ourselves two sticky and sandy boys, but it was so much fun. The party was a blast too. What a fun weekend.

27 June 2008

Last Night Alone

It's the last night without the dudes. And we miss them, but this has really been a much needed break. The feeling is completely mutual. Brian could barely get H to say hi on the telephone tonight -- he was on his way out the door for a Friday night Fish Fry, so really, who can blame him? I didn't even get a hi, and C wouldn't get on the line. But tomorrow we get them back. And I'm excited. I'm ready to big them a big smooshy hug.

In the meantime, we'll savor the moment. Tonight, we dined al fresco at dinner, and even stopped for ice cream (coconut brownie fudge for me). We waked the dog, and drank (continue to drink) some wine. Brian's getting sick of me taking self-portrait photos and probably wishes I'd stop blogging now. So, it's time for me to go!

26 June 2008

Spending Time with #3

Poor Storm. He's definitely the bottom of the totem pole around here. But not today. Since the kids are on vacation, we can focus our attention on him. He really is a rock star. Granted, he can't balance objects on his head, but he is a Good Canine Citzen after all. So, we loaded him in the car, and took him to the dog park ... for the first time ever. Ever! How awful is that? He is such a happy guy right now. Yes, he looks like a mean pit bull (mix) in the photograph below, but actually, it is a big, happy smile on his face. He had so much fun.

Dating

Brian and I got to go on a date last night! We went to Maya del Sol, a restaurant we've been meaning to try for a while. We even had one, no I mean two, drinks! It was really good. We had the nachos (recommended from a friend and really yummy), cerviche trio, steak tacos and tres leches cake. When we got home, we took Storm for a nice walk. Together. And then, we woke up and went running 3+ miles. Together. This is kind of fun.


25 June 2008

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder ....

Our adorable kids have left us for a few days. Which makes them even more adorable than they usually are. I know, nice... But I think the feeling was completely mutual. It's been several -- like over seven but who's counting -- months since we've been separated like this for a few days. Nina and Papa came down to get them, and H & C couldn't wait. What was even more exciting, was that Nina and Papa had a surprise for them. Papa came with so he could take them to Wisconsin on the Amtrak train. I guess H nearly had a heart attack, and C was completely confused when they were dropped off at Union Station. I'm just so excited for them to be able to hang out in PJs if they want, and run around the yard with no place they have to be. Their summer program is the best, but I definitely feel a little bad that everything is so planned for them ... always. So this is a great break for them. And for us.

22 June 2008

Flowers from Moss

Aren't these amazing? They are from Moss Modern Flowers in Forest Park. We got them for an event we had in our house, and I love them. The boys cannot keep their hands off!

Big Foot

Brian completed his first ever triathlon today - Big Foot in Lake Geneva! He participated in the sprint distance (75K Swim - 23K Bike - 5K Run) and from the looks of it, came in 31st place out of 240 (there was also Olympic distance - 1.5K Swim - 40K Bike - 10K Run - which our friend Chris did), and 5th in his age group and finished 1:14:25. He's been working hard, and that's pretty awesome!

(Update: results changed overnight. Brian officially is 4th in his age group, and 29th overall)

(Update 2: results changed again. Brian is 3rd in age group and 24th overall -- if this had been correct initially, he would have gotten to stand on the podium and everything!)

20 June 2008

Flight of the Robin

The most recent update is that my baby robin has flown the coop.

But, it's stuck in the back yard. It could only make it to the picnic table for awhile. I guess that area must feel like home since last week's adventure. When Brian left, it was sitting on the fence, exhausted after ramming it's body several times into the side while trying to reach the top. But it's made it, and the mama keeps checking to make sure it's well.

Thank goodness I'm at work, because I wouldn't have been able to pry myself away from the back yard today.

A New Morning

This morning when I let Storm out, one of our birds was standing on the edge of the nest fluffing and fluffing it's wings, and it even looked to be contemplating flight. And when Mama came to feed it, it was almost the same size and even had it's own little orange belly. I know, I sound like a crazy bird stalker. Come on -- it's not like I'm looking to spot the first ever Black-breasted Puffleg in Illinois or anything. But, Mother Nature sure is amazing.

(Yes, that's the baby that is pictured).

19 June 2008

Birds

Here's our little nest. Do you see their heads sticking out? Happily, the three remaining birds are doing well -- four days after the catastrophe that shook us all (me more than others). Even the one that hopped all the way to the sandbox has stayed put. I guess it's just bird instinct -- stay where you are or plunge to the ground 15 feet below. Smart birds. But today I saw them teetering on the edge of safety -- they have gotten really big, and I believe it's only a matter of days before they leave us for the great big world beyond.

Welcome Max!

My friends Irma and Greg had a baby boy on Friday, June 13th. I just got my first glimpse at the little guy. Can you stand it? Oooo, I can't wait to meet him! (Sorry Irma, hope you don't mind he's being posted, but I couldn't resist.)

18 June 2008

My First Chaperone Experience

Today I got to chaperone. I thought it would be great to do while 1) the kids still beg to have me around and 2) both would be on the field trip which will really never happen again. But C is still sick (much better than yesterday), so Brian and he stayed home while H and I went by ourselves -- along with 36 other children and 7 additional adults -- to Blackberry Farms. It was a perfect day filled with a train ride and merry-go-round. And what really made it for me, was when H and I were sitting on the big yellow bus, he looked over and said "I'm so excited you are here. I love you Mom."


17 June 2008

Sick

Got the call from school ... look who's sick. It's just not fair, especially in summer.

15 June 2008

Happy Father's Day 2008

It's the end of the day, and I'm just now able to say Happy Father's Day! We finally got a photo of my boys together after dinner tonight.

And of course, without this guy, I wouldn't be around to enjoy the other stuff.

Father's Day Weekend

The weekend was spent doing a lot ... but only getting a little done. Does that make sense? It was fun. Friday evening we walked to Trattoria 225. On the way back, the boys found a Monster Magnet poster at a thrift store which both wanted. Thankfully the store was closed. Next we watched trains (notice C and his left-overs which he wouldn't let anyone carry again), and then the ice cream truck came.











video

The next morning was a perfect early summer day. Boys played on the porch, we went to the Farmer's Market, and later C came grocery shopping with me while Brian and H worked in the yard. That afternoon Ray, who Brian knows through work, drove in from Ohio.

In evening we went to our friend Eric's birthday party where the kids jumped for 5 hours straight in one of those inflatable jumping things. Smart! Kept the kids busy and they were exhausted coming home.

Brian and Ray wanted to go mountain biking, but it has rained so much that everything is closed. So they were going to go along the lake. But again, there was a terrible storm first thing this morning. So I made whole wheat buttermilk pancakes with strawberry butter and mojito fruit salad for breakfast. When it cleared, we took Ray for a tour of our town via bike. It was fun -- and the boys and I got to tag along on their ride.

When we came home, Brian tried to fix a gutter from the storm, and totally knocked down a nest with 4 baby birds in it. So I freaked out, and Ray got to witness the excitement of our lives while Brian fixed the gutter and moved the birds. One jumped around for about 30 feet and ended up in our sand box. It's back in the nest, but I hope it doesn't jump out. It looks like most of will make it, though one didn't look so good -- it was a really high fall. Fortunately, the mama bird has come back once already to feed them. Riveting, right?

(Update on the birds: It seems the weak one died. It's nest-mates tossed it from the nest (I saw them nudging it out. The strong one has not tried to jump out yet, which is obviously a good thing. Saw the mama bird return again to feed the last three.)

13 June 2008

Just a Little Update

Not much new is going on in our world, but I wanted to give a little update on the boys. H & C are having a great time in summer camp, and even got to go on their first school bus trip ever to the Brookfield Zoo this week. Today Nina is staying with them, so they were excited about that. They both like eating Popsicles on the porch at night, running, trains, catching bugs and tackling the dog.

H
is really into The Weather Channel -- he requests it over Cartoon Network and loves to give us updates on the weather conditions all over the nation. Particularly the horrible flooding and tornadoes (twisters, he calls them). He also likes watching the Plant Earth DVD Series, and is into making drawings that have poison water, hot lava and fires. I think this is a phase, but I've pointed out that I prefer happier drawings. Boys... He wants to be a freight train driver when he grows up.

C
is really into the Cartoon Network, and is often heard saying "Me hate ..." to H's TV selection. He slipped in the pool last week and still has a big ole' lump on his head. No fear, I just got off the phone with the doctor's office, and he should be fine. C also had further speech evaluation yesterday, so we'll see how that goes. Of course, it was right during nap time, so he kept saying "Me hate this place." At least they could tell he can put 4-word sentences together. Yes, hate is his new word -- one we're trying to rid it from his vocabulary. He likes finding pine cones and picking flowers for me. C wants to be a freight train driver (like his brother), a police man or a fireman when he grows up.

11 June 2008

Wisconsin Part 2

Our Wisconsin weekend was actually a bit of an extended vacation weekend. We stayed through Tuesday night, and had a great time. Brian and I had a "date" and I tagged along with him on a meeting he had an one of the creative agencies he uses. It was awesome to see and meet everyone, plus, we ended with a trip to Kopps -- one of my weaknesses. I mean, I really have no restraint there. None.


But anyhow, the kids had a blast and I've had to listen to them tell me all morning how much they miss Wisconsin and Nina & Papa. Here are some of the fun things they did with them...

fireworks and train watching














The train never came, but I made a clover crown. And C found treasures ... train spikes. We left those in Wisconsin.

And where was Brian during clover crowns and train spotting? Cloud 9. He participated in his first (and probably not last) track day ... and absolutely had a blast.

09 June 2008

Raining in Wisconsin

We came up to Wisconsin to go to the Superbike motorcycle races at Road America. Brian was so excited to take H & C ... but it rained. And rained and rained and rained. There are so many flooded areas, it's insane. But we still had a great time.

H & C spent the night at Christie & Tim's, so Brian and I had an evening to ourselves. We went for dinner at Zin with Andrew and Shelly, then down the street to a pub for drinks and darts. The area is known for antiques and historical site, and plays up on the early American theme. This bar was not an exception -- it kind of makes you feel like an Amish drinker. But we had a great time.


The next day Papa took the kids to go "fishing" in their newly formed pond. The pond is almost gone right now, but the whole scene was too cute.













And of course, what would be a more perfect break in the day, but cookie baking with Nina? C was a big helper. Here they are making sugar cookies.

06 June 2008

Friday Photo

While I'm not overly creeped out by spiders, it seems some people are. Therefore, despite the fact that some members of my family may never visit my blog again because of the photo I'm posting, I feel the need to update it.

It's been a good week after all. I'll just cross my fingers and hope that our extremely cute kids and exciting life will be enough to lure my family back for future visits.

05 June 2008

Spiders Outside My House

I keep telling myself that spiders are our friends. But look what I found on my newly planted planters on our porch!

Yes, those are hundreds of baby spiders. H and I are almost done reading Charlotte's Web, so it was cool to show him. But now I've got to go -- time to go spray these things off with a hose before they find a crack in my house to crawl through.

03 June 2008

Helping C With Words

I've written about C's speech delay before. He's doing so much better every day, but he's behind. Thankfully, he's animated and can usually get his point across in some form or another so he really has no idea he's got any sort of limitation. He goes next week for evaluation (again) and I'm sure will be sent to speech therapy (again). Sometimes, this delay works in his favor, however. Today a little girl at school who completely adores him said "Hi C" and C's response was "No, hate you." I gave C the lecture on how you never say hate, what a strong word it is, and how nice this girl is to him so he never should have said something like that to her. This little girl just looked at me and said "That's OK. I know he really has a tough time with words right now." So again he got away with being a total stinker.

Anyhow, H has taken it upon himself to help C talk. He's written out a list of words, and goes over them with C. C is very excited to learn from his brother. Too bad H isn't specially trained as a speech therapist -- it may not backfire like it did with the professionals. Tonight, C came running down the stairs happily showing off one of H's stuffed animals. H followed saying "C is doing great with the words. He really did good with 'no,' ... but it was easy because he knew that already that. And he can say 'go,' but he can't say 'bingo.'" Then he looked a C and said in a really nurturing voice "and when you learn more words, I'll give you some more of my toys that I don't like anymore."

01 June 2008

Busy Weekend ... Finale

The end of our busy weekend is here, and I'm sad to have to say goodbye to it. Today started out by me talking to my host-sister from Germany (the daughter of the family I lived with) on the phone. We haven't talked for a long time, and it was so great. Here we are with my host-father -- in 1987.
Next was a fun little festival near our house. You know, the good kind, with simple games for the kids and 10 cent tickets.










Then it was time for our friend El's surprise 40th birthday party. I guess this means we've known each other about 15 years. It's hard to believe. Melissa made the food, which was amazing. Have you ever had a fried pickle? Me neither, but it was delicious. Anyhow, happy birthday El!

Kiddieland

Twice a year, we go to Kiddieland for a school fundraiser. It is such a blast from the past, and something we all really look forward to. True, H & C haven't been to Six Flags or Disney World yet so they have bigger and better things to look forward to, but there are some definite perks here. You only need a few hours. Lines are not long (typically -- yesterday was crowded, but the worst was still only 30 minutes). Except for bumper cars which C can't go on yet, every ride is the perfect size for H & C -- it's made for H & C sized people. And there is a train. Actually two. We rode the steam engine twice and the diesel once. And I don't think you can say that about the others. It was a great day.