31 October 2008


It was a great day (in the upper 60s, oh yeah) for trick-or-treating. I took the day off and spent some time at H's school, which made us both very happy. They had a costume parade around the school -- there were some really great ones. So fun. Next, The Frigs, Sass and the City and Dejan/El/Z came over. Goran/Heather/H stopped by as well, and three of the Elsmo Four joined us for dinner -- thank goodness ... they brought the chili. It was a great night, spent with great friends. H & C now have a grocery bag filled with candy -- we had a blast.


30 October 2008

H Sundaes for Dessert

Ice-Cream + Meringue Cookies = The H Sundae. He came up with the idea, so we named it after him. Tonight we added raspberries to the H Sundaes.

What a Crock

Aren't these fabulous? Brian's mom gave us these, and they are just another thing I love that we have around our house. We store winter gloves, hats and scarves in #8. H & C like sit on it (we are always telling them to stop) and pretend they on a toilet -- which even if I try my hardest, I honestly don't get at all. #5 is my personal favorite.

29 October 2008

Painted Pumpkins

H made this pumpkin at his after-school program. Can you tell what it is? I'll give you a hint. He wanted to use white paint, but they didn't have it so he used blue. Did you figure it out? It's a soccer ball! But you knew that, didn't you. I love it.

Savoring the Day

I tend to be a little high strung (those of you laughing and saying, "ha, a little" can stop now). Believe me, after 39 years, I know this about myself. It's something I try to keep in check every single day. Some days are better than others. But pretty much every day I feel sad that H & C are growing up so fast, and I can't be around more for them. Ironically, my worrying about this often gets in the way of actually enjoying the time I have with them. But not tonight. Tonight, I took my time making dinner. I played some music while we ate. I cleaned up while dancing around the kitchen. C asked me to marry him and I almost said yes ... until H reminded me that I already have a husband. We had fun. Look how lucky I am.

28 October 2008

Favorite Fall Tree

This is my favorite tree during the fall. It lives a couple blocks away from us, and seriously feels like sunshine when you walk under it.

Speaking of sunshine, H came home with a "Congratulations, You Have Reached the Stars" certificate for OUTSTANDING READING. He's the only one in his group who "graduated" from his reading class. He's super proud. Rightfully so. He's worked very hard, and we are so proud of him too.

27 October 2008

Grand Table

Continuing on the theme from last week, let's talk about the most talked about piece in our house. Our dining room table. Seriously, there is rarely anyone who comes over who does not mention how much they love it. Brian's parents had the table in their house, and gave it to us when we were living in our first loft together 15 years ago. It's traveled to every place we've ever lived in. Let's just put it this way, we won't live anywhere this table won't fit. We painted it black, but over the years it's rubbed away and now has a fantastic finish. It can fit 10 people around it for meals and other celebrations. The best part of this table is that Brian's dad made it. Can you believe it? He made it out of doors, and it is amazing. The boys have built train tracks under and through the table. We've made forts. C likes to hide under it, especially when he's getting into trouble. And Brian just looked at me the other day and said "You know what? I did exactly the same thing when I was a kid."

26 October 2008


Gutting the pumpkins ...

Busy at work ...
C & H sketched, I carved ...
The final product ...

Weekend with The Gufs

Our friends are in a band called The Gufs. Brian used to be in The Gufs. If it weren't for this band, we would have never met, actually. Saturday was their 20th Reunion show at Turner Hall Ballroom in Milwaukee. It was an early show, so we brought the boys with. Brian was already up on Saturday, so the boys and I took the el to the Amtrak, and the Amtrak up to Wisconsin. It's the way to go. We stayed at the Intercontinental, which was only a few blocks away from the venue and got to walk around the neighborhood a little before going to the show. I think H & C were pretty impressed by Dad, and they had a great time with their cousins who also came. Brian had an absolute blast. We watched from an empty balcony overlooking 600-700 people who came for the show. We did have to leave a little early -- C fell asleep in some giant bean bags (yes, at a concert -- talk about a rock star), and H ran around until I asked if he was ready to go then crashed at the hotel. It was a great night.

24 October 2008

Artwork by the Boys

Organic Shape/Secondary Color Painting by H

Fuzzy Critter by C

23 October 2008

About Me ... The Other Side

Since we talked about my Dad's side of the family (minus the Polish and English bits I know nothing about -- I hear that tends to happen when you are a little Italian), it's only fair we touch upon my Mom's.

My Oma (Grandmother) and Opa (Grandfather) immigrated from Germany. Supposedly, my Oma was brought over as a marriage prospect. It didn't work out, but she and my Opa remained friends with the man and the wife he ultimately chose. Oma and Opa became U.S. citizens, and Opa worked for the U.S. government in the military -- stationed in Germany. So my mom, her twin sister and brother grew up oversees on American Army bases, but very close by their relatives in southern Deutschland. (Stark family, please correct me if I'm wrong on this stuff).

I don't own any family heirlooms from the German side yet, but I do own these beer mugs. When my Mom, sister and I visited my Mom's relatives five years ago, we stopped by her cousin's brewery and hotel (founded in 1783) in Memmelsdorf -- Brauerei Höhn, and they gave us these (we also got a tour of the brewery). Mind you, I'm not a big beer lover, but I swear, this is the best you will ever have. So next time you are in the area, look them up.

22 October 2008

Family Table

My great grandfather immigrated from Romans di Varmo, Italy (a small town near Udine) in the 1900s. His family were cabinet makers -- they are still in the wood-working business today, in the same small town in Italy. My parents visited them a couple years ago. We went as a family when I was in high school (23 years ago). It's so awesome to be able to experience where your family is from (my mom, sister and I went to Germany a few years back to visit her aunts, uncles and cousins too -- another great trip).

This is our kitchen table, where we eat almost every single meal at home. It was built by my great-great grandfather Angelo when he was living in Iowa. Apparently my great grandfather came over, then sponsored his parents. A feature we never use but is so innovative, is that it has built-in wings, and the table can double in size. Ironically, I think this table spent more time in family garages than in kitchens (hence the paint spills I love so much), but it's found a home with us.

21 October 2008

Learning Each Day

Today was a big day. Brian and I spent the morning at home to attend a series of parent-teacher conferences. First we went to visit H's reading teacher. He's doing excellent. So well, that he will be exited from the program next week. It's kind of bittersweet, because he loves meeting with her. But it's great that he's advanced as much as he has.

Next we were off to observe C in his classroom setting. It's always so funny. The parents sit on opposite sides of the classroom from each other, and are supposed to remain quiet while we simply watch what is going on. But in the meantime, the children are looking at you like you are an exhibit on display, and try to interact with you in subtle ways. (One little girl kept asking me to write her name on her work. Others just stand in front of you and stare for a little bit.) C was like Vanna White, and showed off every single thing he was doing to Brian and me. He got an excellent report. His language skills still slow him down a bit, but it's improved greatly. The majority of his work is focused around practical life, but he's expanding to different areas each day. After the observation, we took him out for a special treat. Our tradition after observation day for the past few years (since we started observing H -- gosh, that seems so long ago) has been to go to Nola's Cup for beignets, hot chocolate and café au laits.

Next we went right back to H's school for our meeting with his 1st grade teacher. I was really excited about this one, because ... well, it's all new to us too. And everything is going great. His teacher said he's imaginative and hard-working (two traits I think are extremely important to have). Yes, there are some areas he needs to work on, but for the most part, he's doing great and adjusting very well. We couldn't be prouder. Next week he has his first big project due. We have some other things going on this weekend, so had to get it done a little early. Here it is.

Dessert Tonight

Brian made homemade tapioca pudding for us tonight. And yes, I'm only posting this because if you ask me, nothing quite compares to a (hot) husband making dessert for his family.

20 October 2008

Fall Colors

Here's just some of the beautiful fall colors we enjoyed at the Morton Arboretum over the weekend.

19 October 2008

Frolicking in the Fall

We went to the Morton Arboretum with The Frigs to enjoy the fall colors and fresh air. It was a great day, that included a hike around Meadow Lake to see the Scarecrow Trail. It was truly spectacular, and just a beautiful day.

18 October 2008

Wurst Oktober

Our friends The Frigs suggested a German dinner in Lincoln Square tonight, so we met up at the Chicago Brauhaus.

We even fit in a little dancing. All I can say, is that C did not want to leave. It was a great night.

Friday Night Pizza & Movies

I recently read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle -- a book I found interesting and informative, but a little long, for me (probably because I hate gardening, but love food). Nonetheless, it was inspirational, and one of the best things I took from it was Barbara Kingsolver's idea of Friday Night Pizza Night. For me, it's great because it's one less thing I need to plan. Plus, I actually find it really relaxing (the bottle of wine we split while making it may help). You can find the half whole wheat flour, half white flour recipe I use here. As soon as we are done, we head upstairs for a kid's movie. This week was Alvin in the Chipmunks, which remains H & C's favorite movie of all time. What a great way to start our weekend.

17 October 2008

Bike Helmets

Look at this -- bike helmets by Yakkay. Protect your head, be a good role model for the kids AND look cute. Hooray!

Seen on Design Mom, photos from YAKKAY

16 October 2008

Look What I Did Today

Our Village Hall offers early voting, and I took advantage of that today. (I was multi-tasking during my lunch break and to get a little exercise, ran there, so don't mind this greasy photo of me.) Alas, my vote is in, and I couldn't be prouder.

Artwork by C

15 October 2008

My Guys ... Tonight

I'm definitely outnumbered (and have to clean the toilet rim a lot), but I don't care.

14 October 2008

Nature's Treasures

H & C love going on "adventure walks." A couple years ago my parents gave them this cool cigar box, and that is what we use for our treasure chest. A nest from Wisconsin, various feathers and a crab shell from Gibsons are just some of the items on display.

12 October 2008

Lions & Tigers & Bears ... and Buffalo & Giraffes too

We decided to spend this beautiful summer fall, day at the Brookfield Zoo (seriously, it was in the 80s). Some of the highlights were seeing the super cute baby giraffe who is only two months old, and touching the sting rays. We also took advantage of the great weather and walked around Indian Lake which is something we've just never taken the time to do even though it's only a 20 minute "hike." It was a great day.