Monday, March 31, 2008

Tim puts the "sweat" in kids' birthday parties

Even the cats are worn out. It was a FULL weekend, brimming with quality family time plus a date night. We kicked it off by making a rare Saturday morning family trip to the bagel store for breakfast. I'm not usually a participant on these Saturday excursions - that's typically my coveted Mommy Time. But since we were all headed to Kylie's second birthday party at Kangazoom, we made an exception. The bagel store wasn't up to their usual standards, but that was quickly overshadowed by our energetic visit to the Zoom. Kylie is our cutie-pie neighbor and just a touch older than Danny. Everyone is crazy about her (and her parents), so the neighborhood was out in full force to celebrate with her - okay, and take advantage of a free visit to Kangazoom. I don't know who had more fun, but Danny and Tim parked themselves in the big basketball house for the entire hour. Tim has finally found somewhere he can dunk! When it was time to go eat cake, Tim was only able to coax Danny out by allowing him to keep his ball - which he proceeded to hold onto for the remainder of the party. For her part, Clare bounded through the obstacle course at least a dozen times, and she and I got in plenty of mother-daughter giant slides. It was a quiet ride home.

Saturday night Tim and I had the pleasure of a dinner party to attend. One of his coworkers is married to a CIA-graduate (that would be Culinary Institute, not the other CIA). I don't know enough superlatives to give justice to this meal, so suffice it to say we ate well. Beyond the amazing food and wine, it was just cool to actually eat with the chef and inundate him with questions about the process. He only does this as a hobby now, and yet is passionate about it, so it was easy to see that he enjoyed the inquiries. To top it off, he's a North Side Irish (Chicago) guy. The other Home Depot people in attendance were a lot of fun, so it was a lovely, adult evening.

The action continued Sunday, with Sunday School for Clare in the morning (and dress-up for Danny) and another birthday party in the afternoon. It was yet another two-year-old, this time Lulu, sister to Clare's future husband Max (or so Clare and Max claim - and yet that's Brady with Clare on the bars...). The party was at the Little Gym, leading to more physical activity. Tim didn't work up quite the same sweat this time, though.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Their eyes have it

I really like a song by Keane called "Your Eyes Open." It's a bit ironic, since I seem to go through life so quickly at times that my eyes might as well be shut. Fortunately, my kids continue to keep their big green ones wide open. Two times in the past week Danny has pointed out some of the truly beautiful spring blossoms that have popped up along the Silver Comet Trail - sights I had completely missed until he mentioned them. These moments have also led me to recognize how far his conversational skills have come in the past few weeks. "Look at the flowers, Mommy!" "Oh, you're right, Danny, I like those." "Me, too!" I credit big sister Clare with much of that dialog development. He cracked the two of us up yesterday when he heard us talking and said, "What are you talking about?" As if it was any of his business.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Who needs Pebble Beach when you have Target?

It's interesting how one trip to Target can give you a fairly accurate snapshot of your children's personalities. Today being Friday, Clare didn't have school and we were free as birds. After a leisurely morning around the house and with a somewhat lengthy list in hand, we headed to our favorite store. The trip started out fairly tame, with Danny in the cart munching on goldfish and Clare sipping her vanilla milk from Starbucks. I had managed to persuade her away from hot cocoa, because she always spills, and I have yet to find a way to remove chocolate stains (and yes, I have tried OxyClean). She was wearing a brand-new sundress from Uncle Dan and Aunt Judy, and her passion for clothes fortunately outweighed her desire for hot cocoa. Snacks in hand, we sallied forth through the dollar spot, clothes, etc. It was while I was picking up dish soap that Danny grabbed the toilet brush, and within seconds was swinging it like a golf club. He persisted in doing this throughout the rest of the store, with a "Watch, Mommy!" lobbed at me every other second. Thanks to my trusty camera phone, I captured it on film. Plenty of fellow shoppers got quite a kick out of him. I can now picture two-year-old Tiger Woods on the green, too, because I must say Danny has a pretty good swing!

Clare, meanwhile, was on the hunt to spend the birthday money her great-grandparents had sent to her. She carefully perused the book, toy, and clothing aisles - two times each. She ultimately selected a bathing suit, and then opted to save the rest of her money for another time. May I remind you all that she is five. I don't know that I have ever, in my 33 years, been so practical!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The higher the hair...

...the closer to the early 90s! My neighbor friend recently proposed an amusing email idea between a few of us. She suggested that since we've only known each other for a couple of years, primarily post-children, it would be fun to share pictures of each other from "back in the day." I didn't have any of my baby pictures, but I quickly realized that high school dates to approximately 20 years ago (gaa!!!). Then there's Tim and I on college spring break in Jamaica - before we were dating, might I add. (Appleton rum, anyone?) And finally, of course, there's our wedding in Chicago, which will have been nine years ago on October 2. Since I went to the trouble to scan these for the email, they naturally migrated to the blog. Apologies to John K. for posting his picture without permission!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


I think we all get tired of older, more experienced parents warning us how quickly our children's lives will pass by - and yet, we've all likely said it ourselves to new parents. Probably because it's so damn true. Clare is upstairs reading her first chapter book with Tim for bedtime on this, her fifth birthday. FIVE! Every possible cliche is running through my head, the most prominent being "where did the time go?"

At least five times today Clare exclaimed, "I'm five now!" and she certainly acted like it, too. We kicked the day off by opening her much-anticipated presents. (After she fed Quincy and Duncan, that is. She remains a faithful caretaker.) Our sweet, nerdy little bookworm had asked for books, art supplies and clothes, and every request was fulfilled (and then some). She seems particularly intrigued by her dictionary, which speaks volumes about how her mind works.

Happy birthday, Clare Bear!

Monday, March 24, 2008

They only missed one

Looking out of my window, I just noticed a solitary egg that the 17 kids we had here yesterday missed. Out of more than 100 eggs, that's not bad! The sun warmed up just enough for our afternoon revelry, so the kids swarmed and 22 adults followed. Following the egg hunt (grab?), we brought out the bouncy house, which is always a big hit (thanks again, Schneiders!). Several kids opted to explore the woods/forest/jungle, with Clare the intrepid leader. It was a terrific afternoon, and something I hope becomes an annual tradition. Given the speed with which our East Gate community continues to multiply, I imagine we'll have even more kids participate next year!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter, round one

If Tim had his way, Easter would have dawned sloooowly, with everyone lounging in their respective beds and the sun making its way to a bright spot in the sky. That, sadly, did not happen. Instead, Clare bounded out of her room while it was still dark in search of her Easter basket, Danny hollered for release from his crib, and the cats ran around seeking someone to pause long enough to feed them. Ever the dutiful dad, Tim eschewed his weekend, Liz-given right to sleep in and got up with the rest of us to witness the joyous reclamation of Easter baskets. Well, truth be told, Danny was so overcome by the sight of Clare's basket that we had to get his for him. The point being that these were some excited kids.

After a delicious homemade breakfast of waffles, bacon, and strawberries, further excitement ensued when it was time to put on clothes for church. Clare has been talking about her dress for weeks, and the Easter bonnet I gave her yesterday nearly put her over the edge (long live Target's dollar spot!). Danny was quite pleased with himself as well and pointed out his shirt, "jeans" (khakis), and Crocs to the lovely couple sitting next to us in mass. To those with an ounce of fashion sense, no, I am not proud that my son wore bright red Crocs to church on Easter Sunday. However, a) it wasn't a battle I could have safely won, and b) I miscalculated my stash of hand-me-downs and didn't really have an alternative for him.

The kids are now resting in anticipation of the neighborhood egg hunt (and happy hour!) we're hosting here later today, so stay tuned.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Cinco de Clare

As Clare will remind us, she doesn't turn five until her REAL birthday on Tuesday, March 25. But since she didn't have school today we thought it was the perfect time to celebrate. In lieu of a party, she chose one friend to take to Sketchy's Art Pad, an art studio that caters to children. It does not really cater to toddlers, at least not unless you want to stay glued to their side, so Danny went to a babysitter - and I read my book, in between taking pictures of Artists Clare and Nya.

After the creative session, we dined at Blue Moon Pizza, along with Tim and Danny. Clare summed it up best when she asked, "Does it get any better than this?"

Michelangelo in frosting I am not

But for those of you "clamoring" to see the Cinderella cake I created for Clare's fifth birthday, here you go. I don't imagine Martha Stewart Living will be banging down my door anytime soon. On the other hand, Clare did give me a sticker for my effort.

Stay tuned for Danny's second birthday, when I will attempt to recreate Rocket from the Little Einsteins.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Props to the little man

I've spent a lot of time on the scenic Silver Comet Trail over the last nine months or so, enabling me to get back into some sort of shape. Many times I walk with a friend or two, but almost all of the time the Danimal is my steady companion - and he's terrific! I can count on one hand the number of instances where he put up any kind of fuss while in the stroller. He has been a patient, content, and sweet accomplice to my fitness frenzy, so it seemed appropriate that I give him a quick shout-out. (Here's hoping I haven't just jinxed myself.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

GQ is calling

Danny took time out on the playground to strike a pose. His ever-present Crocs have now been joined by his green ball cap. He gets confused and is constantly asking me to "take it off" when he really means "put it on." Hey, nobody ever said male models are bright.

Due to an extended walk on the Silver Comet Trail, we didn't make it in time for the actual egg hunt, but a kind mom took pity on Danny and gave him a candy-filled egg. This was, I believe, Danny's first experience with jelly beans. Needless to say, he was a fan!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Paddy's Day!

The genealogy jury is still out as to whether or not I have any actual Irish heritage, but that's neither here nor there when it comes to St. Patrick's Day. Any holiday that promotes wearing green is a day made for me. All the better to have two children to fuel my emerald fire. I'm going to try to get a better picture of the two of them, but something is better than nothing!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Palm Sunday

As a kid, I remember dreading Holy Week, because it was full of solemn, guilt-ridden church services and absolutely no treats whatsoever. Which is probably as it should be, given that we're reflecting on Jesus' ultimate sacrifice. I figure Clare and Danny will eventually be exposed to the more subdued aspects of Holy Week, but at almost-5 and 22 months, now isn't quite the time. However, the opportunity to see a real, live donkey at church? Now that you can't possibly pass up. So this morning we packed up the troops and headed to church for the Palm Sunday procession before mass. The donkeys were indeed a hit, and yet they paled in comparison to the palms (or, alternately, "sticks" and "plums," according to Danny).

Danny also gave a completely new twist to the Palm Sunday procession by making pirate sounds while waving his palm. Fortunately, he was in the back of the line - and his application to Christ the King isn't due for a few more years.

We finished our Sunday morning with a family trip to the bagel store. Bon appetit!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

It's times like these...

...that make up for the rest! Danny the jock, ("I've got a football!") and Clare the bookworm. If only it were always this sweet.

Let the games begin

Enough already. As a wannabe-writer, not to mention email and internet addict, a blog is a no-brainer. Add to this the fact that we have zero family members living near us, and I could easily be accused of negligence for not starting this about five years ago. But hey, let's just embrace the fact that I'm showing up at the party at all.

I hesitate to kick off this blog by talking about pets, but by far the biggest news around our house these days is the arrival of Quincy (pictured with Clare) and Duncan. Our new feline friends joined our family on the occasion of Clare's fifth birthday. Quincy, named for one of the Little Einsteins (Danny's FAVORITE show), is the more social of the two, and patiently puts up with more abuse and love from Clare and Danny than I thought was possible from a cat. Duncan, named for the cat from the book Duncan and Dolores, is a bit more crafty when it comes to avoiding the attentions of the kids. He has at least emerged from permanent residence under the bed, and once the kids retire for the night he's quite friendly. Hmmm. All that remains is for the cats to figure out how to win over Tim. Pawing at our bedroom door at ungodly times is not doing the trick. But I think they're cute.