29 August 2013

9th Birthday Celebration


Chocolate chip pancakes followed by a popsicle for breakfast. Hibachi for lunch -- complete with the "Happy Birthday Song" and drum celebration in the restaurant. One last hurrah at the JCC pool before it closes for the season. Lobster dinner. Vanilla cake with salted caramel frosting. He took forever blowing out his candles -- making a wish for all nine candles on the cake. It was a pretty amazing day.

Happy 9th Birthday C!


Happy 9th birthday C! Can you even believe my baby is 9 years old? Not me! I seriously could not be any prouder of him. He's hard working, friendly, clever, an incredible athlete and really, really funny. I'm just so lucky to be his mama.

C ' S   F A V O R I T E S  A T  9  Y E A R S  O L D :
Color // "Gold, but my second favorite color is pink. Then purple."
Food // "Shellfish. All."
Drink // "Coke."
Toy // "That is a hard one. I will think about it, so go on to the next one."
TV show // "Not Power Rangers."
Subject in school // "PE and Math."
Animal // "You know, Mom, you know.... A big fat pig."
Sport // "Mom, seriously? You know! (Note from Mom, it’s soccer.)"
Place to be // "With a pig."
Day of the week // "Wednesday."

If he could visit anywhere in the world, it would be California. And when he grows up, he would like to be a professional soccer player.

Happy birthday C! I hope all of your dreams come true.

(Here's what he said when he was 87 and 6)

28 August 2013

Early Present


C's been asking for a skateboard for awhile now. H got to pick one out on his 7th birthday (which honestly doesn't get used that much...), and with C's 9th birthday tomorrow, we figured it was time. Brian and he had a little date yesterday and went to the store, where he got to pick out his brand new board and watch it be put together. He's so proud of it. He keeps saying he can't believe he got to pick out such a big present. He especially loves the wheels, and tells me he thinks it's more of a cruiser instead of a trick skateboard. That's fine with me!

27 August 2013



Our local pool closed on Sunday, which is not great timing considering the temperature has been near 100 for the past two days. We've been hiding out in our basement to avoid melting. Today we ventured out to the JCC water park to go swimming. We spent a lot of time there last summer, but believe it or not, it was our first time this year! For some reason the kids were always too nervous to take the swim test they require to go into the deep end. But during the spring, with the goal of preparing for the swim test, they took swim lessons. They both decided to take the test today, and passed no problem. They had such great time finally using the whole pool! Too bad we only have a few days to use it.

25 August 2013

Weekend Visitors


It's been one and half years since our weekend guests last visited us. We knew we'd be in for an extremely fun weekend with Jennifer & Samir. They are just such a blast to be around. Their kids are H & C's age -- in fact, J and H first met in 1st grade when they were in the same class. I can't say they necessarily hit it off right away. Over the next couple years until we moved however, the boys ended up playing soccer and baseball together. Jennifer and I had the same train commuting schedule. We carpooled to baseball. And our families started spending a lot of time together. You should see these boys now. We barely saw them! They spent the weekend swimming, running around with walkie talkies, making movies -- I don't think either of them wanted to leave each other. So much fun. P.S. bottom photo taken by A late at night. Can you tell?

First Games for C


C started soccer practice this week, and already this weekend his team had two games to play for a Mega Day. It's more of a play day rather than a tournament, but was a great way to start the season and C had a really good time. He plays U9 this year, which means an extra player on the field as well as a goalie. I think it's going to be a great year.

The Pool


We've spent the last three days at the pool. It closes today (!) which kind of stinks since it's supposed to be really warm this week. The pool has a snack bar, which I refuse to let the kids frequent. Once in awhile they would bring their own quarters for some Laffy Taffy, but that was about it. On Friday when we were there, they announced that the snack bar would be closing for the season, and that for the next 30 minutes, everything was 25 cents. I gave the boys a dollar and told them to go crazy -- they scored two Choco Tacos, one Snickers bar and one Peanut M&Ms. Pretty awesome. We sure have had a blast at the pool this summer.

22 August 2013

Italian Visit


This morning, Brian, the boys and I caught the train and met my sister and her family, and my Mom & Dad in Chicago. The reason for the trip south? Some of our relatives from Italy were in town for a visit. How cool is that? Most people don't believe me at all when I say I'm part Italian. I guess the German side tends to shine through. But it's true! My great-grandfather came over from northern Italy, so at this point, the relations are quite removed. But I still send annual holiday cards to them, and we still keep in touch a bit, which I think is awesome. It's been nearly 30 years since my parents took my sister and I on our very first European adventure and we stopped by to visit them. My parents have been back, as has my sister and Tim. Carlo (in the light blue oxford) and his fiance Elise (you can probably pick her out -- she is absolutely adorable) were in Chicago for a few days after spending some time in Canada. Carlo's dad Cesare (white shirt) and three of his friends are about to embark on a three-week journey along Route 66, and just arrived to the city yesterday afternoon. So they had one overlapping day. It was just so great to see them. Two of Cesare's friends joined us too (in the blue shirt with red, and the red shirt). Such fun.

Good story -- as we were walking in the rain to the restaurant, we happened to go right by my old workplace. I looked up, and there was the president of the company and two of my co-workers! I ran over and completely freaked them out, I think! We only had a few seconds to catch up -- they going bowling and were waiting for a cab, and I left my family stranded across the street. But how funny is that? I've been gone for two and a half years, but it was like I never left. Crazy.

18 August 2013

Beach Day


Brian and H had to leave the house at 6:00 am for the soccer game this morning. I got to sleep in a bit later, but still, we were all exhausted today. The weather, however, was perfect this weekend and there was no way we could stay inside. Brian came up with the idea of going to Harrington Beach State Park for the day. The water was a great temperature, the boys got to swim, and Storm even got in the water a bit. It turned out to be absolutely perfect.

The Underground


What an exciting weekend! Our house was invaded by Kindred -- our friend Melissa's underground dining experience. Melissa is a trained chef and food writer by profession. She hosts these dinner parties six times a month in her own house, and for awhile now, she and Brian have been been scheming on how it would be fun to make a guest appearance in our house. Two nights this weekend, Melissa created a 12-course dinner for a total of 16 lucky guests. It was so exciting to be part of. Penny came to help out -- and let me just say, while it's true we were very busy with the dinners, it was just so much fun getting to hang out all weekend with two of my favorite people. I can't imagine sharing our tiny kitchen space with any other people. The first night was a table full of guests Brian and I didn't even know. The second night, we knew half of the people present. I think it's fair to say, everyone who got to experience Kindred was absolutely blown away. I certainly know I was.

Tournament Season


H's soccer team played in their first tournament this weekend. He is having such a great time playing! He really looks forward to practice and games, is making a bunch of new friends, and is really shining on the field. It's pretty incredible. This weekend he played three games. I wasn't able to make all of them, but the one I did, he had some amazing passes and even scored a goal. It was super exciting. Overall, they ended up losing two and winning one. He got lots of play time in, and had a great time. It's going to be an interesting year -- he plays with three other players from last year and the rest are new. But already, he's developing some awesome chemistry on the field, and I think it is going to be really awesome.

14 August 2013

The Boys are Back in Town

We have them back! H & C arrive home after a 4-night vacation with my brave parents. Not just a vacation -- a road trip. They were in a new hotel every single night, and loved it. H got a new t-shirt, while C was particularly proud to show me the shampoo and lotion collection he acquired on the the trip. They went to Mackinac Island and stayed at the Grand Hotel. They dined on a fancy multi-course dinner, that included duck for C and short ribs for H. They went to Sault Ste. Marie on the Agawa Canyon train. They were full of stories and had such a great time. Brian and I are feeling very refreshed too. Thanks Nina & Papa! (iPhone photo courtesy of my Dad)

12 August 2013

Date Night


Have I mentioned that the boys are on vacation with my parents? I can't even remember. We've been too busy -- getting a ton of stuff done around the house, and things like that. They visited Mackinac Island and are now on their way to Canada to take a day trip on the Agawa Canyon Tour Train. Lucky ducks. I can't wait to hear all about it. In the meantime, Brian and I are taking advantage of some alone time before the school year chaos takes over again soon. Tonight we went to Wolf Peach for an amazing dinner. We had the Charcuterie Board, Pimientos de PadrĂ³n, Charred Octopus and Roasted Sweetbreads. Delicious.

11 August 2013

US Triathlon Nationals


Wow, what a day. It started with us leaving the house at 6:00 am so Brian could participate in a triathlon. This was not any triathlon. Nope, this was the USA Triathlon Nationals. I don't know exactly how registration worked, but somehow it was open for the sprint distance. Brian signed up months ago with grand plans of training and kicking some butt. Needless to say, his training has been close to zero, and this was the only race he's been in this year. He ran to the pool on Friday and swam a few laps. He did an open water swim yesterday along with some yard work. And that, was pretty much it. He wasn't going to do this race. People from all 50 states were represented. It was fast. It's the best of the best. The swim started at Discovery World, and was an in-water start, which he actually really liked. The ride went over the notoriously windy Hoan Bridge, then up Lake Drive. The run was up the lakefront. Brian did it -- but he said he'll never disrespect the sport by going in to something like this untrained again. Regardless, as most triathlons are, it was completely inspiring. To see these people travel from so far to have a chance of completing in the top was amazing. Watching the 15 and 16 year olds completely kill it was awesome (the top woman overall is a 16 year old girl, who came in just over an hour). But even better yet was the older people. Like the 89 year old male or 82 year old woman, who while they are the only ones in their categories, held their own. The 65-69 year old male category alone had 39 people. I think it's absolutely incredible. Yesterday was the Olympic Distance race. I can only imagine how awesome that event must have been too.

09 August 2013

Farewell Finn


Three days and two nights was still just not long enough. The boys are bummed their friend Finn had to leave today. They spent the morning sleeping in, eating Cookie Crisp and running around the yard. H had a guitar lesson, and after we picked him up, we went to Stefan's to pick out some new cleats, then had lunch at Benji's. As soon as we pulled back into the driveway, Leif showed up. Perfect timing, but again, not long enough. We all had such a great time with our house guest.

08 August 2013

Wisconsin State Fair


Our day today was spent at the Wisconsin State Fair. Oh boy, I sure do love me some state fair. First on the agenda -- after grabbing some cream puffs to go, of course -- was the pig races. C was in hog heaven. Pigs are one of his absolute favorite things, as you may know. After that, we hit the animal barns. My favorite. Sheep, pigs, cows, horses, chickens. My partners in crime were a bit tired of animal barns, so we headed off to grab some corn on the cob then go down the giant slide. A couple corn dogs and potato pancakes later, it was off to the chair lifts. We ended up at Spin City for some games and rides. Honestly, I don't usually hit this area -- I can't help it, but those rides make me a bit nervous. But the kids had a really great time. We couldn't leave before sampling some chocolate and strawberry milk (me), deep-fried Oreos (H & C) and dippin dots (Finn). What an awesome day.