Monday, June 30, 2008

Seeing is believing

Here she is, in all of her Catholic school uniform glory! Seeing her in the ensemble makes it that much more real to me that she's going to be in kindergarten. We spent a painful amount of money today to outfit Clare for her tenure at CKS, but she was at least excited about it. So much so that she almost cried when I told her she had to take the uniform off and not wear it until school starts. I wonder how long it'll take her to change that tune?

Thought I'd also post a cute picture of my guys from the weekend...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Man-to-man coverage

One of the best things about weekends is that I get to shift from zone defense to man-to-man coverage. This Saturday we took that to the extreme. Tim and Clare set off for White Water, a Six Flags water park. As I write this, they're still there, so I can only assume they're having a blast. If it's half as fun as Clare was anticipating, they should be good. This left me with the Danimal. After we went for a run and ran a few errands, I packed our lunch and we headed to the pool. Where we were completely alone for 90% of our time there. A good opportunity to take a picture of our neighborhood pool, I guess! Granted, the skies were a tad threatening earlier on, so I suppose that scared off some would-be swimmers. Unlike Clare, the social butterfly, Danny didn't mind in the least that we were alone, and we passed a very pleasant afternoon. It was also my chance to video Danny singing without Clare interrupting him, so here he is, singing his two favorite songs.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The face of a boy

No stories today, just a cute picture of Danny, who is clearly becoming a little boy and not so much a baby. Sigh.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Clare's dream

Today, several times, Clare referred to a dream she claims to have had last night. The child has an active imagination, and I have no doubt that she does, in fact, dream, but I'm skeptical about the veracity of this particular claim. You see, in this dream, Jasmine (of Disney princess fame) was her mommy. She used that word, too, not "mother." She was really excited about this. Right now Jasmine ranks very highly for Clare - she's planning to dress up as her for Halloween, and she's planning a Jasmine theme for her sixth birthday (approximately nine months away). Naturally, I was a bit taken aback by this dream and foolishly asked, "You like having me for a mom better, right?" To which she responded that she likes us both the same. Which I suppose is actually high praise - and probably trumps any comment Tim might make, he of the Jasmine-loving daddies - but it made me realize that I think we have started a downhill spiral away from Mommy Infallibility. Sorry, Danny, but those apron strings just got tighter.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Summer campers

The other day, Tim and I were remarking on Danny's speech of late. His sentences are getting lengthier, and he's initiating much more conversation, as opposed to repeating or responding to something someone else has said. A good example of this occurred this morning, when I got him up. Somehow, without my reminding him, he remembered that he was scheduled to go to summer camp today. "I don't want to go to summer camp," he said in a quiet, sweet voice. As we still had several hours before it was time to go, I just glossed over it and we read stories. The morning passed pleasantly, partially due to Clare's near-euphoria about going to summer camp (and NOT returning to swimming lessons), so when I bundled everyone in the car Danny was happy enough. Not so when we turned into school, however. He screamed at the top of his lungs, "I DON'T WANT TO GO TO SUMMER CAMP!" and I thought about how I think that's the longest sentence he's yet put together. Nevertheless, Danny is at summer camp. I wonder if he'll employ one of his favorite phrases when I pick him up: "you big meanie!"

Friday, June 20, 2008

This is what one wears to Walgreens, of course

All hail the return of the camera, and my fiftieth post. Unfortunately, I'm reporting from the sick bay, where I am the not-so-proud owner of a prescription for antibiotics for a very sore throat and a rather unpleasant eye issue. And the only reason I decided to muster up the energy to post today is because of this ensemble that Clare put together to head to the drugstore. Priceless. You may not be able to tell, but she has a red eye as well, which means we have a week of four-times-daily eye drops ahead of us. Awesome.

Monday, June 16, 2008

This one's for Clare

Children have to be among the most tolerable of egocentrics, although even that's only acceptable in small doses. And I have to say that I wouldn't really characterize Clare as having a big ego, or even self-centered (for a five-year-old, anyway). She does, however, enjoy hearing stories about herself "when she was little," like most kids do. Among her favorite stories are those about how much she used to enjoy playing with the clothes from her laundry basket. This picture I took of her was something that used to take place on a daily basis, and almost always featured her putting her pajama bottoms on her head like a hat. This fascination with clothes has stayed with her, too (you may recall that she spent her birthday money on a swimsuit). She has extracted a promise out of me, multiple times, that when she's a grown-up she can have my current wardrobe. Um, sure, honey. She loves to play dress-up in my clothes, in her princess dresses, and even in her own clothes when she's in her room during quiet time. So it's probably the ultimate cruelty that in a few short weeks she will embark on a long career of Catholic school uniforms. Hey, for now she's excited to go try them on!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A fit of nostalgia

What to do when the camera is in the shop again? (Yes, I dropped it. Again.) Heaven forbid I take a hiatus from blogging! This seems like a good opportunity to post some of the older pictures I came across the other day while digging around for photos of Clare with Annie Bear. Above and below are two of our favorite pictures of her at approximately 17-18 months. In the one below, Clare is standing in the middle of the very cool Crown Fountain in Chicago's Millennium Park.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

A (long-winded) tale of two loveys

Annie Bear. The very name conjures plenty of memories for those of us who have known Clare all of her life. A pink "pancake" bear, Annie Bear was given to Clare when she was nine months old. She was the first item we first-time parents dared place in her crib, and the way Clare responded you would have thought we had given a drowning girl a life raft. The two were inseparable - so much that when I had the good fortune of coming across more of these bears in a nearby store, I bought three. We successfully rotated through Annie Bears I, II, III, and IV over the years, and Clare has never been the wiser. Nowadays Annie Bear stays in her room, but she is still the first thing Clare reaches for when it's bedtime. However, I am happy to report that in the face of a crisis (I forgot to pack AB for our most recent trip to Buffalo), Clare cried for ten seconds and then quickly decided that one of the many stuffed animals at Grandma's house would be an acceptable substitute. Yet another example of how grown up she is becoming.

It was on this trip to Buffalo that I believe Danny was incited to take a lovey while sleeping/hanging out in the crib. Clare and Danny shared a room for the first time on this visit, so he saw firsthand the process whereby Clare goes to bed and to sleep. Actually, I think it was really during their early morning chats, before anyone came to release them from bed, that Clare suggested Danny take an animal. He eagerly accepted, and from then on he asked for an animal for each nap and each bedtime. Interestingly, the animal rotated from a cheetah to a monkey, etc., so while he had embraced the concept, no particular creature had won his affection.

When we returned home, I remembered that we had a stuffed rocking horse that someone had given Danny when he was born. Danny is rather fond of horses, so this seemed like a sure bet. I gave it to him that first night back, and he liked it. But last week is apparently when he decided to commit. We made a trip to the aquarium, and I let the kids each pick out one small souvenir. I steered Danny toward some rubber whales, sharks, etc., because on a previous day's trip to the pool he had been quite smitten with another child's similar toys. Clare, meanwhile, opted for a stuffed baby beluga whale. You can probably guess what happened next: Danny, tired after an active afternoon, really wanted her whale. And Clare, sweet girl that she is, let him hold it the whole ride home. As soon as we got home she wanted it back, but she promptly moved into problem-solving mode. She remembered that we have a small stuffed whale, which she immediately located and handed over to Danny. It was the perfect solution.

So now, in yet another demonstration of the pronounced differences between our children, they each have a lovey. Clare's is a sweet, pink teddy bear. And Danny's is a killer whale.

Most. Patient. Cat. Ever. (a video)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Must be U.S. Open week

For those of you keeping score, Danny has now added tongue depressor and fly swatter to the list of items he has used as a golf club. While he was swinging the fly swatter at Target he was also certain that he saw Tiger Woods. Someone should give Danny one of those Rorschach ink blot tests.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

I know you've all been wondering...

Since so many of you have been clamoring for an update on the cats (she said oh so sarcastically), I thought I would oblige. Actually, I did get an email from my mom today, mildly concerned that she hadn't heard much about them recently. You can all rest assured that Quincy and Duncan are not only surviving but thriving. They have quickly established themselves on the intelligence scale, too. Quincy: not so bright, given that he unfailingly puts himself in potential harm's way vis a vis the kids. The picture of him with Clare is something that happens multiple times a day. Duncan, on the other hand, is smart enough to stay far, far away - until they've gone to bed. Furthermore, he knows how to win points with me and spends much of his day seeking my attention. Given that we would not have these felines unless I was the cat person that I am, I embrace almost all of these opportunities for affection. Neither cat has been smart enough to win over Tim, however. In fact, the other night Quincy noiselessly crept behind Tim, who then accidentally stepped on him and proceeded to flail his arms and run around saying, "I do not need this in my life!" Give him time.

To review, Quincy is the black tuxedo-clad cat and is named for one of the four Little Einsteins (Danny's favorite show, although it has lately been overshadowed by the Golf Channel). Duncan is the white cat with black spots, and he's named for a character in a terrific children's story called Duncan and Dolores.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

An artist's evolution

It's not unusual for Clare to pass the time with crayons in hand, or markers, or pencils, etc. She has a stash of art supplies in her room for quiet time (the most hallowed 90 minutes of the day), and we recently moved her easel from the playroom to her bedroom. In the past she has been a prolific artist, but not the most patient. Recently, however, I've noticed something: her pictures now consistently resemble something recognizable! Last week she drew a picture of the lake house for Jennifer - and it really looked like a house! Yesterday she assumed more of a fashion designer's role, sketching dresses, skirts and tops (see photo). I'm not claiming that she's a genius in the works, but as a parent it's one of those milestones that you tend to marvel at - sort of like her ability to swim unassisted. I'm just waiting for her to write her own stories (like her cousin Katy does so amazingly well). As you can see on Danny's birthday card, she has the skills to write the words and draw the pictures, so I imagine it's just a matter of time. You might think it's wishful thinking from a writing-inclined mother, but between Clare's love of books and incredible imagination I feel fairly certain about this one.

Friday, June 6, 2008

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Actually, as of 7 a.m. it was already warm and humid, with the promise of a hot and muggy day ahead. But hey, the sky was pretty, so I thought it was a good opportunity to give those of you who've never been here a peek at our neighborhood. Our house is the closest in the foreground. We're at the base of a VERY steep hill.

Speaking of the neighborhood, here is the posse of gals who went out last weekend to dinner and to see "Sex and the City." We've lived here in Atlanta (and East Gate) for three years now, and over the last year we've finally immersed ourselves into the social elements of our environs. It's a terrific community full of young families such as ours, and just good people all around.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Lab rat

This morning I held Danny steady and sang “You Are My Sunshine” to him while the nurse drew three vials of blood. We’ve been doing this quarterly since he was four months old. He’s perfectly healthy, at least for now. But after being screened at birth for his risk factor for developing type I diabetes, Danny’s was found to be higher – he has a three percent chance of developing type 1 diabetes, compared to the .3 percent chance that the average baby has. As a result, we were asked to participate in the TEDDY Study (The Environmental Determinants of Diabetes in the Young). The study involves blood samples, charting of diet and illnesses, and monthly do-it-yourself stool samples, among other things. Clearly, this was not a particularly tempting enterprise, despite the $140 annual payment for completing the required visits. So why did I choose to subject him (and myself) to this? After a lot of consideration about my circumstances as a stay-at-home mom who has the time and the means to participate, I felt a moral obligation. With any luck, Danny won’t come close to diabetes. But perhaps his child will. And if we can do our part to prevent or cure this disease, which currently has neither, I like to think that he’ll grow up to be the kind of person who will be proud of his contribution. For now, he’s just happy with the ball he selected out of the treasure chest.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Livin' la vida lago

As a California almost-native (who's counting those first three years in Kansas, really?), I'm definitely an ocean girl. The magnitude of it, the crashing waves, and the salty air are a winning combination for me, no matter what the season. During my years in Chicago, Lake Michigan was a reasonable substitute, because it's so large it looks like an ocean. Of course, it was hardly ever warm enough to enjoy it...but I digress. When we moved to land-locked Atlanta three years ago, it seemed I was limited to chlorine-filled bodies of water. For the past three summers it was a perfectly acceptable way to beat the heat and, more importantly, keep the kids occupied. Swimming pools don't generally rank high on the scenic scale, though. So, while the South's acres and acres of trees and the lush blossoms of spring always take my breath away, I had yet to experience any aquatic aesthetics worth mentioning.

Fortunately Jennifer was around to open up new worlds to me. Jennifer is an Atlanta native and a veteran of the lake house lifestyle. She and her husband recently pulled the trigger on a house on Lake Martin, Alabama, and about one hour after closing on said place she extended an invitation for us to visit. Amy and I decided that, with husbands working long hours and the kids no longer in school, it would probably not be a bad way to pass a few days. Beyond that, I had few expectations. The prospect of four other kids and two other moms around was more than enough to motivate me to load up the car and hit the road for two hours. Both Clare and Danny were very excited by the concept of the "lake house," despite neither having a clue what it really meant. Well, now they're hooked - and so am I.

It helps that the as-yet-to-be-named house sits directly on the lake. There are panoramic views from almost every window. The giant screened-in porch that runs the length of the house is truly all-purpose, too, providing great play space and even better wine-sipping spots for after the kids have hit the sack. But it's the dock and lake that are the main attractions and which won us over completely. The dock is nestled on a quiet corner of a tree-lined cove, with just a couple of other houses barely visible. The water was so refreshing, without any salt in the eyes. And the lack of sand is a HUGE bonus. Minnows and other small fish were occasionally spotted, although with our rowdy bunch they didn't tend to linger (much to Olivia's nature-loving dismay). We dove, floated, cannonballed and swam away the morning and afternoon hours as though we were born to do it.

I was particularly excited by Clare's enthusiasm for the water, as she is by nature a cautious swimmer. By the end of our time there, though, she was jumping in (with a floaty), swimming with Brady back and forth underneath the dock, and taking long swimming adventures with me out into the cove. In fact, that's she and I, in the far distance, in that top picture. How far she has come from two years ago, when she wouldn't leave the steps of the pool! And how far we have come here in Atlanta, where my friends feel like family and the memories grow more meaningful every day.

Jennifer, when can we come back?