Monday, September 29, 2008

I just hope PETA doesn't find out

Among the potty-training chaos and frustration, a lighter moment - which also happens to illustrate that Quincy is the most patient/stupidest cat on the planet.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The times they are a-changin'

This weekend I am not only housebound, but I am breaking my little boy's heart - and he, in turn, mine. Why? Because I'm potty training him.

As a second-time mom, I went into the process somewhat confident. I was prepared for accidents. I was prepared for obstinacy. I was prepared for a lack of interest. And I was truly, and uncharacteristically, prepared to be infinitely patient.

I was not, however, prepared for the extremely emotional response he would have to the experience. When I began first thing yesterday morning, I opted for the naked (from the waist down) approach. Upon seeing him, Clare laughed and asked why he didn't have any pants on. Once I explained what I was doing, she immediately said, "Well, he has to stay out of my room then!" Which is only humorous to me because she keeps her door closed at all times to prevent him (and the cats) from going in there in the first place. For his part, Danny seemed a tad confused, but I suppose it was also a novelty to go sans pants, so he carried on. As the day wore on, though, he grew increasingly uncomfortable and repeatedly asked to get dressed, or to put on pajamas. I think it really hit home for him when he woke up from his nap, and I removed his pull-up - without replacing it with anything. He asked me so very hopefully, "What am I going to wear today?" and was distressed when the answer was "Nothing."

We are now almost 48 hours into the ordeal, and while we have allowed him to wear underwear (we went through eight pairs today), he still cries big, sorrowful tears when I put him on the potty. When he needs to go, it's obvious, as he wanders around aimlessly, or pitifully asks to read stories on my lap, or just lays on the couch and attempts to get comfortable, usually with his face in his hands. My small consolation is that he clearly does know how to control his urge, at least until the breaking point! We knew it was bad when he begged me, at 5 p.m., to go to bed. Anything for the relief of the diaper.

While catching up on "Dancing with the Stars" on the DVR last night, Tim and I did glean an ounce of wisdom (and you people think it's just a mindless reality show). One of the "stars" remarked that when you put a person into an entirely new situation, that person just feels lost. I can tell that's exactly how Danny feels - and it makes us ache for him. However, as Tim and I have repeatedly told ourselves, this is not an optional life skill, and so we stay the course. He has at least progressed from saying, "Uh-oh - something's wrong!" when he notices he's peeing to saying (albeit too late), "Time to go potty." And so I prepare for day three, grasping at whatever straws I can find.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Those Wild Women of Walsh

The other day several of us received an email informing us that Walsh Hall, our dorm at Notre Dame, is about to turn 100. For the uninitiated, dorms assume an important identity at Notre Dame because there is no Greek life. Instead, you form a bond with your dorm, where you remain for four years, or as long as you choose to live on campus. While plenty of seniors tend to move off-campus, the majority elect to stay. Including most of the 12 of us (Mals, to this day it kills me that you weren't here for this photo):

The message about Walsh's impending birthday made the mistake of saying "any pictures relating to life in Walsh Hall are welcome," which naturally got the emails flying among us, recalling all the events that would probably not actually be welcome - but were really fun for us to remember. Like the illicit keg we got for the last week of classes:

It also just got me thinking about daily life in Walsh, and how much fun we had with random moments. We all played a LOT of cards, primarily euchre. One night Breen and Mallie chose to play "guess which card is on my forehead." No, seriously, they really are smart girls...

And the night Cat and I were killing time until United Limo came to drive us to the airport in Chicago (Cat, this is the single greatest shout-out I can possibly give you):

We four below were the residents of Room 329, which was happily the epicenter of the dorm social life for the 12 of us. We're all scattered all over the place these days and don't stay in touch with the frequency we would probably like - but I think we all have very fond memories. Cheers to all of you!

I had to add this picture of Clare and me visiting the steps of Walsh in August of 2004, when she was about 17 months old. Who knows, maybe she'll be the next generation of Wild Women...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A breath of fresh air

Many of you may be asking yourself why I have a lousy picture of a window to begin today's post. Hopefully you at least noticed that the window is open. This is a major victory for me, and represents all the unleashed glory of fresh air blowing through my house and life. It has been approximately a week now that the air conditioning has been turned off, and with that fresh air comes a new spring in my step. Everything is just so much more pleasant when the weather is nice, wouldn't you agree?

On days like this, you simply can't resist a trip to the playground. Yesterday after school we made a late-afternoon trip to nearby Thompson Park. Of course, despite all the fabulous play equipment, the major draw of this particular spot is a GIANT boulder. I can explain it best, at least to those in my family, by saying that it is most definitely not something Grandma Eddie would be at all comfortable with. (She'd have been even less comfortable with me standing there with a camera in front of my nose instead of providing a steady hand to block any forthcoming falls.) Nonetheless, the kids flock to it, and it really is the source of some very imaginative games. Of course, Danny decided it was an excellent place to practice his not-so-steady hopping skills, but miraculously he stayed unscathed. Must be the crocs.

Friday, September 19, 2008

What a deer

I tell you, it's like Wild Kingdom around here. Okay, maybe not, but this morning we had another deer sighting in our back woods. We've seen this before, and I imagine they're back there way more often than we realize. However, we catch them infrequently enough that it's always very exciting, especially to the kids. (Totally made up that last part: they like it, but I think I get the biggest kick out of it.) Danny and I saw these guys (gals? who knows) when we returned from dropping off Clare at our carpool's house. It's a beautiful, sunny morning with a hint of autumn in the air, so the deer were a nice touch.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

See more Lennon

I can't believe I'm pandering to blatant requests for shout-outs, but here I am. Allow me to introduce you all to J. Michael Lennon, an ND friend of mine but one of Tim's best friends from high school as well as college. Mike lives in Buffalo now with his wife Lisa (who did not request a shout-out but deserves one anyway) and their two daughters Mary Valerie and Briege. The Lennon Ladies provide excellent playmates whenever we visit Buffalo. Mike provides the, I guess he is a bit more deserving than I perhaps gave him credit for being. Then again, he did miss our wedding. I'm just saying. Ask Mike, and he'll tell you it was because he was stuck on a Navy cruise. Blah blah military duty.
Here are the Seymour and Lennon offspring, all together this past August:

And here's a picture of Tim with three-month-old Clare and Mike with seven-month-old Mary (note both first-time dads have a bit of a glazed-over look, don't they?):

Lennon, if this opens the floodgates to requests for blog-ops, you're in big trouble.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's all about me

At least, on my birthday it is! And today, for the .01% who didn't get an email from me, I want to direct you to my latest writing adventure: The Finicky Files on I'll be writing The Finicky Files bi-monthly, so stay tuned, and sign up on Mairecipes to get the latest update.

Other than that, it's been a quietly pleasant day. Danny did not get the memo about needing to be sweet when he first woke up this morning, but after we drove the kids to school and met Amy, Parker, and Jennifer for a walk, we picked up some donuts on our way to the car wash. Those donuts transformed him! (Clearly his mother's child.) So we whiled away over an hour while they scrubbed my car, including the carpets which now look brand-new. It must be a sign of age that something this mundane made me so truly happy, but so be it!

From there we drove the sparkling Odyssey to meet Allyson for a sushi lunch, and now it's a peaceful afternoon here at the Seymour house. This evening I get to enjoy margaritas and girlfriends, so my year is getting off to an excellent start!

Since I'm still waiting for Clare to create a birthday card for me, I don't have any birthday-related images. But I think this one from yesterday of Danny and Lulu grocery shopping is cute. They were having a ball!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

So long, summer

Tim got home from his ND/Chicago weekend just in time for the family to hit the pool one last time for the season (pool officially closes tomorrow). It's been a great summer for swimming, aided by the fact that Clare has grown leaps and bounds in her abilities and enthusiasm for being in the water. Here's a picture of the girl who began the summer refusing to put her face in the water during her swimming lessons:

And here she is getting ready to go under the water on her dolphin (a.k.a. Daddy):

Danny, meanwhile, remains cautious around the pool, but he's happy within his comfort zone. Today he absconded with a toy dolphin from the baby pool.

Despite being in a major mommy mode these days, he did make some time for Daddy love. We all had a good weekend with our respective activities, but it's nice to be all together again. Sundays are sublime.

Friday, September 12, 2008

While the cat's away...

So Tim is heading out of town today to go the ND-Michigan game. Which made me decide it was the perfect day for Danny to sport this particular t-shirt. Would I have purchased it had it not been on a clearance rack at Target? Well...probably. I mean, it does have a horse on it, which was the big draw for Danny. And it is in Home Depot-esque orange. What's not to love? Now, would Tim have purchased it? I think he's probably secure enough in his manhood that the answer would be a resounding "No!" Then again, he never goes to Target...

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Happy feet

I post these pictures as a shout-out to two people. My mom, who still laughs about how I used to come straight home from school and change from my uniform into my pajamas...

And Meaghan, whose mother purchased these Elmo slippers for Clare back when she was an 18-month-old running around saying, "cute shoes!"

To back up, I found some slippers for Clare today during my coveted, child-free trip to Target (we've been searching for acceptable slippers for her for a while now, and fortunately these passed muster). I gave them to her after school, and she wanted to put them on immediately. Which naturally meant that Danny wanted some slippers. With luck, I had come across the Elmo ones while going through Clare's outgrown items a while back. You'd be surprised at the amount of entertainment these two derived from this footwear for the next two hours. Let's just say that at one point, clothing was optional...which is about when Daddy surprised us by coming home early from work. Wonder if he'll do that again anytime soon?

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I have a distinct memory of standing in the kitchen of the house in which I grew up, listening to my parents respond to some "why do we have to do this" question of mine with their best "Fiddler on the Roof" imitation of "Tradition!" At the time I was less than amused. Then I went to Notre Dame, and my appreciation for tradition grew exponentially. Fast-forward to parenthood, and suddenly tradition is a crucial component to our family life. Events such as attending church, holidays, and even bedtime assume the more important aspects of ritual, while watching the Irish is (mostly) fun. (I say "mostly" because today's display had us saying "phew" more than anything else.)

Naturally our routine for watching Notre Dame games is a little different than it was during our college days. Looking at the student section of the stadium on TV always makes us yearn a bit for those times, but Clare and Danny bring a whole new element to the experience that is fun in its own way. For starters, Danny wears his game-day jersey, as he has done since he was a wee lad of five months (below).

At some point during the day we play the fight song multiple times, and much dancing/running/stomping ensues. We make sure we have taught the kids the appropriate mascot to follow the phrase, "Go Irish, beat --" and cackle when they either butcher the name or add things like "booty head" to said enemy's name. During the game itself, it sometimes gets tense, and Daddy in particular can get a bit grumpy, but this doesn't usually ruffle their feathers. This year I added what I think was a particularly nice touch, courtesy of Target's $ spot: pom-pons. Clare and Danny each had a set, and they loved them. The energy they expended waving and shaking them had to have burned hundreds of calories. It also proved a decent enough distraction that Tim and I could actually watch most of the plays.

When said game ends as it should, we play the fight song again. Then, we raise the ND flag for the season and give it a proper salute. Man, do the Seymours know how to have fun, or what?

By the way, note Danny's gold cape in the flag photo. Towards the end of the game he went and put it on, then came out of the playroom and proclaimed, "I am Sir Football!" The mind of a two-year-old is a beautiful thing, especially during football season.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Horse sense

Today was one of those spontaneously fun days that are the primary reason I like to keep my Fridays with Danny free. Upon receiving a phone call from Jennifer P., who needed to stay out of the house for the cleaners, we scratched our plans to grocery shop and instead went first to the playground and then moved on to the polo fields to visit the horses and eat a picnic. As we sat eating our lunch in the rickety, old, wooden grandstand overlooking the polo field, I couldn't help but appreciate the serenity. Danny, Zach and Olivia were so content, in a quiet yet cheerful way. There's something naturally soothing about the presence of horses. Danny's euphoria over horses also shows me that my cowboy roots from Kansas haven't been completely buried!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Sometimes I think history lessons are wasted on the young. It's only now that I'm starting to see the real influence past events have on the present and will potentially have on the future. And now that I'm older and presumably wiser, with less of the "I am the center of the universe" attitude (when will my children reach this state??), I see that times and events that had nothing to do with me still affect me. Take, for example, the year 1943. This is 34 years before I came along, but three major happenings took place this year that continue to profoundly shape who I am. And here in 2008 I am celebrating the 65th anniversary of those events.

I have already mentioned it previously, but feel it deserved its own post: both of my sets of grandparents celebrate their 65th wedding anniversaries this year. I love to use this tidbit to taunt Tim with the fact that I have really good genes, but all joking aside I think this is an amazing testament to the faith and morals I've been raised with. Today happens to be my own parents' 42nd anniversary, and my in-laws will celebrate 41 years in December. These relationships build my confidence about family life in a world that isn't always giving me the same message.

The above picture shows my paternal grandparents, Robert (Bob) and Edna (Eddie) Morlan. Eddie boarded a train in her home state of Kansas and rode it all the way out to Oakland, California to marry Bob, who was serving in the WWII-immersed Navy at the time.
Above, in between the grainy lines, are my maternal grandparents Roger and Geraldine Arensdorf. They also married in WWII-time conditions, with the two of them setting off for Naval officer training school at Notre Dame shortly after they were married. I might be the first Domer in the family, but Grandfather's experience on campus was the next best thing.
Last but not least, this year is also the 65th anniversary of my mother-in-law's, Donna Wilson Seymour's, birthday. I am very lucky to have such an inspiring and likable woman as my mother-in-law. Like I said, 1943 was a big year!