30 December 2010

Year in Review


I'm signing off for the new year. Getting ready to soak in some family time. Once again, another year has gone by in the blink of an eye. I know I'm an old dog learning new tricks, but I really do think I'm getting better at some things, and will continue working on them in the new year. I need to remind myself to be patient, not to worry so much, take a little time out for myself, relish the little things, take better care of myself again and just live life to it's fullest. Who knows -- maybe I'll even make a Life List. Anyone else ever dream of holding a monkey? Maybe it's just me....

Anyhow, despite my foot surgery, a knee replacement for Brian's mom and medical issues with my mom (even Storm has surgery this year -- we're all falling apart), overall, we've been very fortunate again this year. 2011 is going to be a year of change for us, and I'm really excited. Back in October, Brian accepted a Creative Director position in Milwaukee. He's there during the week and home on weekends. It's ok and we are getting by, but we will all be happy to be back together as a family again. We'll be listing our house in the new year, and after 18 years of being in Chicago (23 for Brian), we are going to be making our way north again. (Never in a million years thought we'd be saying that, but it's a good thing). It will be busy around here, for sure. But we have a lot to look forward to, and lots to be thankful for. We are surrounded by loving, supportive friends and family. And when it comes down to it, really, what more do you need? Here's some highlights of our past year.

- Taking the boys skiing a couple times
- Long walks home with C
- Visits from family
- H turned 8 (and had a very medieval birthday party)
- Even though it was very hectic, H's t-ball season was pretty fun -- and he had a blast
- C graduated from Montessori school
- The boys spoiled me on Mother's Day (Brian was out of town)
- H&C went to Florida for a week with my parents and visited Disney
- I completed a couple triathlons again (Brian finished his first half Ironman)
- We enjoyed several awesome dinners with friends (just wait for next year -- we've got a biggie planned!!)
- We spent a week in upper Wisconsin with my parents, sister and her family
- C started Kindergarten, and H 3rd Grade
- C turned 6 (and turned our backyard into a dog pound)
- We went camping with friends
- Brian, H, C and I went to visit my host-family in Germany and spent a couple days in Copenhagen

Not too shabby, if you ask me. So, here's to the best year ever in 2011!

28 December 2010

The Great Gingerbread Demolition


Early this evening, my cousin Justin, Amy and their girls stopped by. They had spent a night in Chicago, and were heading back to Amy's parents in Wisconsin where they are staying while visiting from Tampa, Florida. We don't get to see them often. In fact, I think it's been a year since we last saw Amy and the girls. Way too long. We ordered Thai food and caught up while the kids played. Afterward, we figured it was a great night for the gingerbread house demolition. The kids had a blast and even got to use a hammer. Fun times. Thanks for the visit TAAJ!

27 December 2010

More Scenes from Christmas


Waking up to a wintery wonderland on Chrismas morning || Reindeer Food to help them find their way (oatmeal & gold glitter) || Tee's famous poppyseed cake || Our tree -- I'm always sad to see it go

26 December 2010




Christmas Feast

Last year for Christmas, the Elsmo's came over for dinner. We had such a great time (at least what we remembered -- we had the brilliant idea of doing wine pairings with the different courses), and couldn't wait to spend the holidays with them again this year. We take turns making the courses. There are little lulls between them, which is honestly, part of the fun. There's just something about prolonging this dinner that I love.
The first course was Mel's Savory Pancakes (you want to click this link). The kids had a mini stack of strawberry & whipped cream pancakes.

Next, I made a creamy polenta with three cheeses and shiitake mushrooms.

Then I made salmon smash.

Melissa then made an Indian inspired braised lamb shank. She served it with homemade naan, saag, dahl, and raita. A. maz. ing.

As a finale, I had made zuccotta (a homemade sponge cake filled with whipped cream, raspberries, toasted hazelnuts and toffee). It was probably the prettiest dessert I've ever made, and pretty insane -- even if I did forget to top it with the vanilla bean cream anglaise. No one seemed to complain.


Let me put it this way though -- nothing we ate was bad. We all agreed, however, that the lamb was our favorite dish (surprise, surprise -- Melissa is truly an amazing chef). I had split all the portions in half, but I wish I would have been better at portion control and cut them down even more. We were all so crazy full. Still, it was very worth it. Thanks Elsmo's, for spending the holidays with our little family, and for such a great evening.

25 December 2010

Christmas Morn'


Hope all of your wishes came true too!

A Wintery Christmas Eve


For the past several years, we've been spending Christmas Eve. with The Frigs. We've taken on their tradition of enjoying a huge feast of appetizers, and we absolutely love it. This year, Penny's parents drove up from Mississippi, and our neighbors down the street who are originally from France were there too. We had a great evening with wonderful friends, delicious food, and flowing wine. Snow had been falling, and when we finally left (the boys had been begging to go to bed...), the kids had a little snowball fight. It was a beautiful, perfect night. Thanks Frigs!

23 December 2010

Happy Holidays to You


Tomorrow will be a busy one, spent prepping and cooking. We are so excited for Christmas this year, and are looking forward to spending the holidays at home with some of our very great friends. Wishing you all a very safe and happy holiday season! (Photographs taken during an evening stroll around our neighborhood.)

22 December 2010

Business Cards

Last week, my boss met with some people from Lego regarding a project he's working on with them. The business card he was given was a little Lego minifigure, with the person's contact information on it. How fun! Typically, I take a person's business card, enter their contact information into my online contacts, and throw the card in my desk. I love it when companies have unique business cards, and I think these from Gitam BBDO Israel are super clever. (via Seesaw)

21 December 2010

Beautiful Winter

It snowed last night, so the ground is blanketed in white. I even learned how to use our snowblower today! I really don't mind the snow right now. It gets me in the Christmas spirit. Except that I can't wait for Brian to come home tomorrow so I know he's safe and sound. These amazing winter scenes are by Jo Bradford. (via Poppytalk).

20 December 2010

Cookies, Cookies, Cookies


Unlike last year -- when I made five different types of cookies -- I just don't have any interest in baking lately. Today was the boy's first day of winter break, and we are so, so lucky because Leanne is back for a few weeks! (!!!!!) We are all so excited. H even said it already felt like Christmas morning because she was coming. The first thing they did today is make these awesome cookies. They look delicious, don't they?

19 December 2010

A Very P Christmas


Today we ventured to McHenry, Illinois to get together with Brian's side of the family. Brian's dad was one of five brothers. One of those brothers had seven kids. The others all had two to three kids. You get the idea ... he has a big family. We used to see each other quite regularly. There were a lot of graduations and weddings for awhile. As we've gotten older, we still get together a couple times a year, but we just don't see each other as much. Today we got to see Grandma, Aunt Pam, Mackenzie and Ian, as well as some of the others. It was great to see them today to celebrate the holidays.

17 December 2010

2010 Holiday Concert with C

This afternoon, we went back to the kid's school. This time for the Kindergarten holiday program. C nearly had a melt-down this morning when he went to try on his 2-piece suit and it didn't fit. But he ended up settling for a suit jacket, tie and jeans. He looked pretty slick.

Unlike H who was walking around singing all week, C wouldn't tell us a thing about his concert. The kids started with Who Am I? by Barbara Andress. (Just so you  know, they are a teapot in the photograph above.)

Next they sang Hanukkah Time, and The Snow Man by Lillain Willse Brown.

C even was picked to play one of the instruments! He was selected to play the bells during Lunita, and couldn't have been prouder. He'd give a smirk every time he was done with his part. They ended with We Wish you a Happy Holiday. It was very, very cute.

16 December 2010

15 December 2010

Art by H: Snowflake


2010 Holiday Concert with H

This morning was the 2nd and 3rd grade holiday concert. I've always been blown away by these productions, and we enjoyed it just as much as we usually do. The second grade danced to the Carnival of the Animals by Camille Saint-Saens (they did Introduction and Royal March of the Lion, Aquarium and Fossils), and sang A Time for Love by Nancy Dervan.

The third grade started with the Knock Knock Joke Song by Jos Wuytack. (H even got to play an instrument - he was so excited).

Then they sang Sevivon, a Hanukkah Dance.

As a finale, both grades sang Walking in the Air by Howard Blake. (Here the actual performance on YouTube). Behind them were images of children with the snowman that the kids drew. They were beautiful.


Afterward, the third grades had a little party outside their classrooms. It was a great morning with my H, for sure.