Monday, March 29, 2010

Bistro Birthday

It occurs to me that a casual observer may have gotten the idea, from my post about her birthday and gifts, that Clare is a bit of a tomboy. Playmobil and LEGOs aren't exactly the essential tools of a girly girl. And yet Clare really, truly is. Or, maybe not. Maybe she's just really well-rounded?

Anyway, this year, Clare elected to celebrate her birthday by choosing two friends to join her for lunch at the American Girl Bistro & Boutique (also known as the U.S. Mint). We were fortunate to have Donna in town to join us, so we were a merry group of five. We arrived with plenty of time to browse the boutique before our lunch reservation, during which time Clare consistently bee-lined for books on display. As Donna so affectionately remarked, "She really is a little nerd!" We mean that in the nicest way possible, of course.

Just as we were all starting to get really hungry, it was time for the three-course feast to begin. Clare, Jillian and Elise each brought an American Girl doll, each of which were given their own chair at the table. The dolls also were given miniature chocolate chip muffins, which they kindly shared with their caretakers. Donna and I had such a blast just watching the girls giggle, observe their surroundings gleefully, and eat with gusto. Jillian, as a friend from CKS, and Elise, a friend from Clare's preschool days, did not know each other, so Clare did a great job of introducing them and making sure to always stay in the middle so that no one felt left out. Donna and I were very proud of our little diplomat.

The meal concluded with the signature American Girl birthday cake and serenade. Darling - and tasty, too! We opted for a bit more browsing after we ate, especially since Clare had that gift card burning a hole in her pocket. (She spent this card - courtesy of Uncle Brian and Aunt Karen, or Dr. Seymour to all of us now! - on clothing for her Felicity doll, so she's not totally immune to the allure of toys!)

From there, for the piece de resistance, we headed upstairs to the mall's gorgeous carousel. Not a bad way to end a birthday outing!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Happy Birthday, Uncle Brian!

In light of the fact that the birthday present is still a work in progress, please accept our humble offering of the song stylings of Danny Seymour. Let's just say the song version was all Danny's idea, and a bit of a surprise to the camera woman. (Apologies for the sideways view. Not sure what happened there, as I held the camera upright.)


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Lucky Number Seven

Another March 25 has come and (almost) gone by, and suddenly Tim and I are the parents of a seven-year-old. And what a seven-year-old she is!

I am happy to report that Clare had a delightful day. Lucky for her, her birthday fell in the midst of ITBS week (Iowa Test of Basic Skills). Yes, standardized tests. No, I am not being sarcastic - she was thrilled. Yesterday morning she told me, "Even though I can't wait for my birthday, I don't want to wish today away because it's a test day." So, yeah. The tests took place in the morning, so later in the day Danny and I brought a birthday treat to her classroom: ice cream sandwiches. This was timed for right before P.E., which was a brilliant tactical move on her teacher's part. (Her teacher who is currently two days past her due date with her first baby.) I loved watching Clare's radiant face as her class sang to her the "cha cha cha" version of the birthday song (insert "cha cha cha" after each phrase of the song). She really is one happy kid, and I couldn't be more thankful.

The family birthday festivities took place this evening, once Tim got home. We had a peaceful, low-key afternoon leading up to his arrival, which was the right environment for me to attempt the Felicity cake. I nearly fell out of my chair when she told me what she wanted on her cake, and I wouldn't claim to love my results, but she very sincerely told me she thought it was beautiful, so I guess that's all that counts!

Before we consumed the cake, after Clare and Danny enjoyed some of Publix's finest frozen cheese pizza (she chose it over delivery pizza, I swear), it was the much-anticipated time for presents. I made a rookie mistake of revealing one of her presents' contents to Danny earlier in the day, which he promptly revealed 90% of (a Playmobil veterinarian set - he told her it was Playmobil), so I guess I learned my lesson there. Anyway, Danny was about to explode with excitement as she opened her gifts, and the minute she opened that one he essentially elevated off the floor and shouted, "Cla-yer, do you want to play Playmobil with me?" It was a resounding yes, with the quick act of opening her last gift. Which happened to be a LEGO set from Tim and me. At which point Danny nearly swooned, he was so happy for her, for him, for the possibilities of what they could play.

It was a very tearful parting for Danny when it was time for bed, but my sweet, gracious Clare was quick to assure him that they could play tomorrow, and all weekend. Clare, who was disappointed to go to bed herself and end her birthday, but ever the steady big sister and wonderful role model. I often find myself dwelling on what she has left to learn, to achieve, to improve upon, but today I am filled with pride, satisfaction, and gratitude.

Happy birthday, Clare Bear!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grandpa - and TR - Go to Preschool

For those of us who know and love Larry, we are not the least surprised that he took the occasion of visiting Danny's class and made it into a "TR" (Teddy Roosevelt) moment. He asked me last week if he could bring a TR show-and-tell, to which I dubiously answered yes. I mean, what on earth was he going to do that would not fly directly over three- and four-year-olds' heads? It turns out (as usual, he would argue) that I didn't give him enough credit.

After enjoying the opening ceremonies of a typical day in the Dolphins class, it was time for show-and-tell, and Mrs. Manley suggested that Larry go first. So he grabbed his enticing bag of goodies and proceeded to tell the kiddos about how the teddy bear got its name. He had an excellent visual aid that was so soft and cuddly and has now been named Fuzzy Batman Bear (the class has Danny and Wyatt to thank for that).

From there Grandpa read an age-appropriate story about courage, starring a young Theodore Roosevelt suffering from bad dreams. It was very cute, and Danny was beaming with pride (when he wasn't nestled squarely on Larry's lap).

Poor Tim has a lot to live up to on Friday...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Danny, Star of the Week

This week in the Dolphins class, Danny is the Star of the Week. Exciting! As part of this special honor, he was asked to make a poster highlighting his favorite things, his family, etc. He took this project very seriously. If you compare with his All About Danny poster from last year, you'll see that he hasn't so much changed in his interests but has rather expanded them.

This morning kicked off Danny's special week. I spent the first hour of the Dolphins' day in class with them, so I got to see him tell his friends all about his poster. They were treated to both a jousting demonstration as well as a preview of his soccer prowess. It was quite a sight to see his enthusiasm, which I was relieved to see him muster considering my presence. What is it about having their parent(s) in the classroom that makes kids behave so out-of-character?

As if the poster wasn't enough, we also decided to mark the occasion with star-shaped cookies (and yes, those are star-shaped sprinkles on them). I later learned that today is a classmate's birthday, which meant cupcakes, so the sweet treat was a little anticlimactic, but at least we enjoyed making them together.

The remainder of this stellar week will include a guest visit from Grandpa on Wednesday and a reading of Danny's favorite book by Daddy on Friday. Is it any wonder Danny bounded out of bed, ready to head to school at 6:30 this morning?

P.S. Not wanting to be left out of something that in any way, shape or form involves homework, Clare took advantage of some extra poster board and started making a poster about cats. It's extremely thorough, with lots of facts, and will probably be a work in progress forever. She's a cute little nerd.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I realize that, generally speaking, this blog is somewhat self-serving. I like to argue that it's a great way for the grandparents to keep up with our daily doings, and to chronicle the random moments that might otherwise get lost in the shuffle. But this post is 100% self-serving, and I do. Not. Care.

On our final training run together last week, Allyson recalled a conversation we had more than a year ago, wherein I told her that I wasn't sure I saw myself as a runner. As of today, I think I have finally convinced myself otherwise. I am officially a half-marathoner, and it feels awesome.

It's hard not to make this next part sound like an acceptance speech at the Oscars, but I have discovered that while running is an individual sport, completing something like a half-marathon takes a lot of support and encouragement. Allyson was a tremendous source of motivation, both as an experienced racer but also as a great training partner. Tim's patience and support for my weekly long runs, not to mention never batting an eye when I bought yet another pair of running shoes, would have been impossible to do without. Bill P.'s infectious enthusiasm bolstered me, and the list goes on!

I will most definitely run a half again (and probably won't blog about it, so don't worry). Until then, I'm off for a much-needed, and, if I do say so myself, well-deserved pedicure. WOO HOO!

What's Missing?

Yup, the other tooth. My cute, gummy girl!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Top O' the Mornin' To You!

When your mornings start as early as ours do, you don't get top-notch photos...and occasionally a surly face (Danny). But it's annual blog tradition -and in general we have chipper leprechauns around here. Fr. Frank announced to the CKS kids that he would award a prize to the student who concocted the craziest, most green outfit. I doubt Clare will win, but she definitely gave it an A-effort!

I've added a picture of Danny and Lulu, which echoes last year. Except that last year's hug was a rare event, whereas this year those two are quite an item.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Clare M., Toothless Wonder

Of course it's always exciting when a kid loses a tooth, but for me the biggest bang for the buck comes from those two front teeth. Clare lost one of them yesterday, and the other one is pretty loose! So here is a Toothless Wonder picture. I'm really hoping she loses the other one soon, so that we get that big, gummy smile!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Happy Birthday to Tim!

While I know that the prospect of cake partially fueled their excitement, the kids were very enthusiastic about celebrating Daddy's birthday.

We celebrated as a family last night (we have a sitter coming tonight so that Mommy and Daddy get a date night). Prior to pizza and the movie, we presented Tim with his gifts. This year he was treated to hand-decorated wrapping paper by both kids. In fact, it was Danny's idea! He mostly used Batman stickers for his creation. Clare, on the other hand, went all out, decorating all four sides with sweet messages, pictures cut out from construction paper, and even lift-the-flap pictures. I figure this more than made up for the fact that I didn't wrap my present at all (how do you wrap a golf bag, anyway)?

For the movie, we elected to watch the original 'Star Wars.' Clare had requested this movie a while back, and I figured Tim would enjoy this more than any Disney creation. I think Danny might have enjoyed it the most, however! He watched very intently, and used his empty wrapping paper roll as a laser gun. Despite having two toy light sabers, he opted to use tinker toys instead; either way, he was definitely interested in the light saber scenes. Boys!

Toward the end of the movie, we needed a cake break. This year I went for a ninja theme while decorating it (it's probably hard to tell what's on the cake unless you know what you're looking for). Danny's handmade card for Daddy also featured a ninja, while Clare went with a St. Patrick's Day theme. Just right for the multi-faceted guy that he is, right?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Larry Would Be Appalled, Rex Would Be Proud

Their grandson demonstrated a genuine taste for sushi today at lunch. As you can see, I'm not just talking California rolls, either. He made Jennifer go back to the buffet for a second round. Best of all, he was perfectly content while the two of us talked our heads off. Domo arigato, Danimal!

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Sleepover

Ever since she got her sleeping bag for Christmas over a year ago, Clare has been eager to put it to use with a sleepover. I have admittedly dragged my feet over this. Bedtime is something we have down pat around here, and I enjoy my peaceful evenings.

However, Clare's sweet friend Elise was the perfect candidate for a sleepover that would remain relatively calm, so I gave in to the inevitable. Elise arrived around 4 p.m., and the girls immediately fled to Clare's room to play "school, with stuffed animals!" Because seven hours of school just isn't enough! Their squealing woke Danny up from his nap, and while at first he was content to chill in front of "Dinosaur Train," he soon wandered upstairs and became the skunk at the picnic (in the ever-eloquent words of my mother, who is also fond of saying that she has "dirt to scratch and eggs to lay" when she has a lot to do. You can take the girl out of Kansas, but you can't take Kansas out of the girl.)

This seemed the opportune moment to pull out my ace in the hole: three new packages of Silly Bandz, the latest craze that strikes most of we parents with the age-old lament of "Why didn't I think of this?" Happy to include Danny as they swapped, compared, and counted, a crisis was averted. Soon the pizza arrived and it was time to don jammies and pop in the movie. In a happy coincidence, Elise brought footy jammies, so all three looked adorable.

I had selected "The Sword in the Stone" from Netflix, knowing that it would appeal to Danny more than anyone, but also figuring that we needed to throw the kid a bone on this girl-dominated sleepover. Predictably, he was way more into it than the girls, who only kept one eye on it while they hopped around the couch. Eventually, they settled into writing books. Yes, I do believe these girls might be kindred spirits. It was a pretty funny scene, the girls hunched over their papers in concentration while Danny ran around the house, jousting on his stick horse with swords constructed from Tinker Toys stuffed down his back and in his hand. A happy chaos.

It was already clear that Clare was enjoying the evening, but when I acquiesced to her request to read her own book, as well as the book Elise brought, for bedtime (to themselves), she declared, "This is the best sleepover ever!" Ah, my dear girl. May it always be so easy.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

This One's For Grammy

(I had already planned this post, so don't go thinking that your nagging email got you anywhere, Mother!)

I believe it was when both kids were home for President's Day that they cooked up this particular project:

Clare's spin art set was put to good use for this one:

Not sure where Danny got the idea to create Humpty Dumpty, but I love the fact that his version is wielding a sword:

And finally, it appears that the Seymour's Art Museum has been the victim of a heist. Any information regarding the whereabouts of the missing piece is greatly appreciated: