Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blizzard this, buddy!

There's a poster in the Buffalo airport with a picture of a sailboat in front of a stunning sunset, with "Blizzard this, buddy" printed below. This perfectly describes the first 24 hours we've had on our visit so far. For someone who likes just about everything about Atlanta except the summer heat, it's been ideal. The kids have thrived on it, too, running around the backyard not 15 minutes after we arrived (Danny with golf clubs in hand, of course). In the picture above, they're standing near the Niagara River (the one which flows to the Falls), having just finished a picnic on the nearby grass. Below, Clare took a moment to call Daddy.

Danny, meanwhile, played soccer. Given that we had an active morning of swimming at the Park Club, his energy level was amazing. Though, he did get a bit chilly and sought warmth on Grandma's lap while Clare swam until the bitter end.

I must also take a moment to give credit where credit is due. Buffalo, in general, is reknowned more for such gastronomical delights as the chicken wing and roast beef on kimmelweck, and not so much for nutrition-laden items. Larry, my wonderful father-in-law, is a product of this environment (I know, I know, you had salad for lunch today!). However, last night Larry coaxed Danny into eating not just one, but multiple peas! For those of you who know Danny, you recognize that this is pretty much the first (naturally) green item to cross the boy's lips. Props, Grandpa!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

For the annals of the ridiculous

Much to Tim's chagrin, the kids and I hosted a celebration of Quincy's and Duncan's birthdays today. Duncan is a July birthday, and Quincy is August, and both turn one this year, so we decided to combine the two. We invited our good friends the Pryors over, primarily because Olivia is an animal fanatic and a big fan of our cats, so we knew she'd be an enthusiastic attendee. Of course, the main reason we wanted to honor their birthdays was so we'd have a reason to make a cake, which is how we got Tim to sanction the event.

As you can see, Quincy enjoyed the decorations.

Which is a good thing, since he later had to endure a lot of this.

The kids celebrated with a pizza lunch prior to the cake.

Duncan made only the briefest of appearances, and this was long before our guests arrived.

Quincy, on the other hand, kept coming back for more, which is why he's been dubbed "more than a bit slow" (or "retarded," as my sister put it, and she hasn't even met him). But, he's perfect for our kids!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

'Look at me'

The other day, while I was trying (in vain) to get dressed in some privacy, Danny came barrelling into my room and smeared some of my clear chapstick on his face. He prompty turned to me and said, "Look at me, Mommy!" There was nothing to see - at least nothing except his eager, charming face. I've started to wonder if this blogging thing is making my camera a too-constant companion. Every move my kids make doesn't necessarily require documentation, and might not even warrant my attention. I'm fairly certain that my camera is not the culprit for what I have diagnosed as "look at me" syndrome - a common affliction (experience? you be the judge) for most children, particularly those with siblings. But I also don't want the only times I do take a moment to look at them to be behind the lens of my camera. At two, I suppose it's not overly reasonable for me to expect Danny to make the distinction between a worthwhile and not-so-worthwhile "look at me" plea. He's just making his way in the world as an increasingly independent individual. But he also imitates Clare, making her way in what is a more competitive environment than it used to be ("cute and funny baby brother" fatigue definitely set in with her in the final days of our California vacation). Which is what prompts me to consider these requests in a slighter brighter light. I don't want either of my kids to assume that their role is the center of my - or any - universe, which is why I don't drop everything and wax poetic each time they ask for my attention. Yet I can't help but wonder if I really am seeing them when I look...

Girls and their cats

We've had quite a few cats in the Morlan household since I was born, but one of my most beloved was a tough old cat named Tux. Although he had long hair and was more of a charcoal gray than black, he is somewhat similar to Quincy, so I thought I'd post a picture of the two of us. I think I was about ten in this picture.

And here's a picture from today, just a few hours after Clare was joyfully reunited with Quincy. As many people have pointed out, you would really never know that Clare and I are related, would you?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Zoo life

Growing up in the San Diego area, I would hear and read the advertisements for the "world-famous" San Diego Zoo. When I moved away and would tell people that I was from San Diego, they would almost inevitably mention the zoo, so I realized that those ads weren't just a bunch of hot air - it really does seem to be world-famous. That said, I hardly ever go. I think I took Clare when she was not quite two, and that was the last time I had been, until yesterday.

Danny's been asking to go to the zoo for weeks now, and it's one of the best places to go with kids of varying ages. Katy and Nicki love the zoo, and Clare likes to do anything with them, so Sara and I packed up the kids (somewhat bleary eyed, after a raucous but fun dinner and slumber party the night before) and headed out. It was a warm day, but bearable, and I think we all enjoyed ourselves.

Here's a picture of Clare pretending to be a monkey in a tree:

And here's Danny fully enjoying his first churro (a cinnamon and sugar-coated "delicacy" found at all local amusement parks, and fairly addictive):

Because I'm a total softie, I let the kids each get a souvenir, which naturally turned out to be stuffed animals. Clare chose a white Siberian tiger, which she named Anastasia. Danny chose a regular tiger, which he named Tiger Woods. Some things never change.

We also hit the beach again on Monday with Sara and the girls, so here are a few pictures from that fun outing:

The zoo, the beach...what more do these lucky kids need? SLEEP.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Circle of friends

When I was in second grade, I switched schools to attend the local Catholic school (St. Mary's Escondido). Within that first week I found what would become my best friend for life: Jennifer Costa (now Lyons). That's her, looking proper in her cardigan with her cute braids, and that's me behind her, no doubt acting obnoxious and looking somewhat disheveled. This was a pattern that would continue for far too many years. Not only was Jennifer in my class, but it turned out that she lived in my neighborhood, too. Jennifer was an only child, and since Sara was almost seven years older than me, I spent several years almost as an only child, too. We were inseparable. We spent each birthday with each other, instead of having parties; we wrote and acted out plays (much to our later motification); we set up elaborate games of house among the giant boulders of her yard; and we were simultaneously obsessed with Anne of Green Gables.

Even though I went away to college and never moved back, we've always been on the same page of life. We married within nine months of each other, and now we're experiencing motherhood together: our first children, both daughters, were born a mere seven months apart, which happens to be how far apart Jen and I are in age. As Anne would say, we're kindred spirits.

Today was one of a growing line of playdates between our kids. It's so fun to see this next generation grow in friendship. (The picture above has Colleen (4) on the left and Kelsey (almost 6) on the right.) The toys may be different (although with the return of Cabbage Patch Kids and Strawberry Shortcake, not that dissimilar), but the spirit is the same. As Jennifer told Kelsey the other day, she has a friend for life in Clare. That's one of the coolest things about girlfriends.

Here's one last memory lane photo, from high school graduation. It reminds me how loyal and sweet Jennifer always has been, and still is!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Life is indeed a beach

Sand and surf have been the predominant theme of our time in San Diego so far. We have now been to the beach twice, which is about twice as much as we usually go when we're here, and we already have plans to return on Monday. As the kids get older, it gets easier to take them to the beach, so I have been increasingly willing to do so. We were also incited to go to meet up with two high school friends (sorry, Jen and Jill, but the picture of the three of us didn't make the cut) and their kids on one day, and then this morning we went with my sister and her girls on a breakfast picnic to see the tide pools in La Jolla.

As you can see, Danny got along quite well with the sand. What I find somewhat funny is that he'll wake up in the morning and say, "I want to go to the ocean!" and then won't step foot into it, but instead runs the other way anytime it comes near.

Clare, on the other hand, was intrepid (well, for her), and spent time dancing in the surf, building sand castles with new friends she made at the beach, and climbing all over the cove with her cousins and friends in search of hermit crabs.

It's an inside joke between Tim's mom and I that Clare is so fond of seaweed, because Tim used to detest it and would run away from it as a child. Needless to say, he probably wouldn't have been as interested in this huge ring of seaweed that Clare and her friends were thrilled to find.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Snapshot of vacation life

One thing that I realize time and time again is that I never appreciate my kids as much as I do after I see them through the eyes of people who aren't around them that often. Of course everyone thinks their children are special (or demonic, depending on the day), but all too often I take them for granted. So even if I know to take it with a grain of salt, it's kind of nice to have their great-grandparents and great-aunt, etc. singing their praises. And now that I'm surrounded by extra sets of hands to keep an eye on them, I'm trying to sit back and enjoy their quirks and qualities.

We've been in California for about 24 hours now, and the kids have already been up to photo-worthy activities. (Okay, maybe I've deemed them photo-worthy because I know their dad is going to need updates early and often.) The photo of Danny below is certainly nothing new, but consistency is nice, and plus he has such a cute smile and shirt (which he was none too happy about wearing until enough people complimented him on it).

Meanwhile, Clare, faced with the lack of cousins for playmates, turned on her imagination and played dress-up in Grammy's closet, with all kinds of imaginary events surrounding each ensemble. She did pause long enough to serenade me on the garden bench.

And finally there was this morning at Sara's, Kate's and Nicki's house, where the kids turned on their inner artists. This started out as a blank board, and no one else wrote on it. Maybe we should change his name to Jackson Pollock.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Double Trouble (or, Twice as Nice?)

A quick post from Topeka, Kansas, where we've been celebrating a family reunion in honor of my paternal grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary. (Incredibly, my maternal grandparents are marking that same milestone this year!) Clare has found fashion kindred spirits, not to mention great playmates in the form of new and old. New is Regan, my dad's cousin's son's daughter (if anyone knows what that makes her, please email me), who evidently shops for her Fourth of July wear at Target just as we do.

We also have the classic combo of Clare and her cousin Nicki, who is just 16 months older than Clare and who is always a fun partner in crime. The kids are exhausted but having a blast, which is all that counts. And we adults have coffee and wine, so we're surviving, too!

Danny has found a new favorite past-time (in addition to golf, which he has played frequently thanks to the golf set Grammy procured at the local Walgreens). In the spirit of the Cowboy West here in Kansas, Danny is in love with my cousin's son's stick horses, and has run several miles' worth of laps around the house and yard. So, he's also taken some significant naps...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy birthday, America!

I dipped into the archives to post two of my all-time favorite pictures, which happen to coincide with July 4th. This was from two years ago, when we marched in the Plummers' neighborhood parade with them before dipping into the pool. Danny was only two months old (we like him so much better now), and Clare and her buddy Brady (also shown) were three and almost-three, respectively. Love the patriotism, don't you?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

History repeating?

First of all, it doesn't take the most keen among you to notice that I seem to be finding a lot of (sometimes feeble) excuses to blog lately. As I mentioned, I'm about to be on the road for a while, and though I imagine I'll post here and there, I am overall expecting a dry spell. So, I figure I'll feed my addiction while I can and hope that it tides me over.

Since either my kids are spoiled or I get cabin fever way too easily (or both of the above), we went to Kangazoom and out to lunch today. It was a good opportunity to get together with Max and his sister Lulu. I don't think Clare and Max had seen each other since school got out, so it was a joyful reunion - and we didn't see much of the two of them for the next 90 minutes. (Fine by me!) Meanwhile, Danny and Lulu bounced around, sometimes paying attention to each other, and sometimes in their own worlds, as two-year-olds are wont to do. It's interesting to note that Danny and Lulu are at almost the exact same age that Clare and Max were when they first met. Furthermore, Danny and Lulu will be starting preschool together this fall, in the same class. So I can't help but wonder if they'll be as enamored of each other (and perhaps betrothed) three years from now as are their older siblings? Heather, Max and Lulu's wonderful nanny, asked me this morning when it was that Clare and Max grew so fond of each other. I told her that it was more or less instantaneous - I don't remember a time when they weren't declaring their love for each other!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Not so doggish after all...

Most people who know me are aware that I'm a bit of a grinch when it comes to summer, and specifically heat. At least, those people who live near me in Atlanta. They didn't devote an entire AJC article last week to the nickname "Hotlanta" for nothing. And of course I have every dermatologist in the world, not to mention my parents, affirming my lack of desire to hang out in the sun. My friends, however, aren't quite in the same camp, which is probably a good thing as far as the socialization of my children goes. They actually welcome the summer solstice, as opposed to using it as a launching point for the countdown to autumn. Weirdos. Anyway, today was part of what is becoming a very long, summer camp-less week, so Amy lured me on an outside adventure to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. A lovely place anytime of year, but particularly appealing to children in the summer owing to the Sunflower Fountain in the Children's Garden. We had a fun, laid-back day exploring the various gardens, picnicking on the lawn, and playing on slides, tree-houses and eventually the fountain. It took Danny approximately 20 minutes before he decided to stick a toe in the watery mayhem, but he ultimately embraced it whole-heartedly - probably inspired by his water nymph of a sister. Between this field trip and what has become our daily visit to the pool, I will grudgingly admit that maybe summer isn't quite so atrocious after all. (Of course, I say this as I prepare to take off for two weeks in California...)