Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas 2011 Recap

Another Christmas has come and now gone, and it was another marvelous holiday. The slideshow below includes Christmas Eve, the big day itself, and then our trip to CA. What a spectacular time we all had!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Last-Minute Snippets

With Christmas vacation in full gear, we're cramming in all the holiday traditions and activities that we can. Including the above visit to Santa, which was very last-minute. Once again, I didn't plan on visiting the big guy, and once again Danny asked when we'd be going. Fortunately, we timed the line right again (5 minutes before the jolly elf went on a one-hour break, no less) - and even managed to get Laura to sit on his lap! Sure, they all look like they're posing for a mug shot, but you can't have everything.

Leading up to vacation we had Clare's lovely composition on the season:

Danny's charming performance at the CKS Christmas mass, which the Kindergarten/Pre-1st classes lead:

And even some neighborhood caroling, which sounds like will become an annual event:

Still to come are the Lights of Life, 'Rudolph' at the Center for Puppetry Arts, dinner and a sleepover with the Francos, and then Christmas Eve and Christmas! And then California! Maybe I should get a jump start on that long winter's nap. Or at least hope that Laura does.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

In Her Christmas Bonnet

This is a girl who was born to wear hats. She's all decked out, ready for our outing to see The Sound of Music on stage this afternoon!

Monday, December 12, 2011

That's Comforting

Three kids, and each had/s a different way to comfort themselves.

Clare went with her index finger, a derivation of what Tim used to do:

Danny opted for his thumb, as did his mommy before him:

While Laura chooses the entire forearm. This really makes me laugh, but my mom says she used to do the same thing. It strikes me as more dramatic, which is so far in keeping with Laura's personality. At least, as a baby - Danny's not exactly deficient in the drama department.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Our Best Tree Yet

We picked a beauty this year. With our soaring ceilings, I'm always in favor of taller trees, and Tim usually scales us back to something he thinks we might actually be able to hoist ourselves. This year we managed to satisfy both criteria (all courtesy of The Home Depot, of course).

While there are plenty of milestones throughout the year that highlight the passage of time, there is something poignant about putting up our tree every year that really makes me reflect on how swiftly the years fly. It just doesn't seem that long ago that I was an eight-year-old eagerly pointing out my favorite ornaments and savoring the delights of our tree-trimming buffet. Both Clare and Danny really pulled their weight this year as far as decorating went, although Danny did take several moments to pause and read the ND board book we recently rediscovered on Laura's bookshelf. (To say he is obsessed is a big understatement.)

As far as our feast this year went, we added something that I suspect will be requested again next year: chocolate fondue for dessert. De-lish! Afterwards, Clare once again played Christmas carols for us on the piano, and then we all sat and admired our work.

Laura was fairly intrigued by the tree, which was completed after she went to bed. The next day she put her newly improved crawling skills to use by grabbing an ornament and then making a break for it across the room. She's such a cute little bandit that I really didn't do much about it. Third child!

The kids are naturally looking forward to seeing a mound of presents under the tree, but for now I am enjoying its tall splendor and the fabulous aroma, which is my favorite smell in the world. Worth every single pine needle.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Danny the Groom

It would seem that Danny's "big personality" (that phrase showed up again on Danny's latest progress report) may lead him down a theatrical path. Last week he was chosen to be the groom (a.k.a. U) in the annual, Kindergarten-wide Q & U Wedding. When I first mentioned this to him, he burst into tears, fearful that this would mean he had to kiss. Horrors! But he quickly adjusted his attitude and assumed the role with pride. And this was before he knew there would be cake!

Parents were not invited to attend the affair, but the school has a terrific photographer, so I have poached the photos from her. This really looks like such a cute event, complete with Fr. Frank presiding and a reception that included dancing "The Twist" and "YMCA." It just doesn't get much more fun than Kindergarten, does it?

I do hope that this is my last stint as mother of the groom for several years, however.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving in D.C.

I confess I was dreading this trip. Not the destination, mind you, but the traveling. We had decided it would be most economical to drive, despite the 10-hour (11? 9?) duration. The kids spend so much in the car as it is, I really figured it would be torturous. But, it was going to be a means to an end.

Fortunately, the drive itself was downright pleasant. Sure, the kids would cop to some boredom and restlessness, but overall I think our travel days went far more smoothly than I dared to dream. I attribute a big part of this to the fact that the five of us don't really get much quality time together, so the sheer pleasure of each other's company kept things bearable. (So did the abundance of electronics, of course.)

I will say that, in retrospect, Clare and Danny are still a bit too young to fully appreciate the wonders of D.C. While I couldn't wait to get to the Mall to view the memorials and explore museums, I think they were most happy when we wandered down the block from Karen and Brian's place to enjoy playgrounds and cafes. And that's fine, too. We had glorious weather that made all of it (plus a Thanksgiving morning run with Terri and Mike!) possible.

So, I am thankful for a family that it was well worth driving so far to see. I am thankful for my kids with whom it was not a chore to drive 20+ hours in five days. And I am thankful for my country, because while it certainly struggles to agree on how best to function, it is still the greatest place in the world to live.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Making Waves & Scoring Goals

It's been a busy season of sporting activity around here. Buoyed by her enthusiasm for the summer swim team experience, Clare opted to drop Irish dancing in favor of year-round swimming - and she continues to love it. We found a program that practices at Georgia Tech, i.e. the very pools in which the 1996 Olympic swimming and diving competitions occurred. So cool. She regularly swims 2-3 times a week, usually with Abby and sometimes Ava. This past weekend she had a swim meet, the Turkey Trot. She didn't walk away with any ribbons, but had a blast and is more than ready to return to the pool!

Meanwhile, Danny played another season of soccer - and it was his best, by far. No longer among the youngest players on the field, he seemed to start putting it all together, scoring goals, defending and passing. More importantly, his interest and energy lasted throughout the entire season. He has decided he wants to try football next fall (flag, fortunately), but this coming spring he'll take to the soccer fields again. Gooooooal!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

All About Danny: Kindergarten Edition

The tradition continues. This year, some of Danny's answers have evolved, and some haven't (see his PreK edition, his three-year-old poster, and his first-ever All About Me poster as a two-year-old). Take a look:

Favorite animal: horse

Favorite color: blue and green

Favorite food: lamb (as in rack of lamb, a.k.a. 'lamb on a stick' - and boy, does he love this food)

Favorite place: California (and specifically, with the cousins)

My favorite thing to do is: Legos

When I grow up, I want to be: a football player (Mama would really prefer to let her baby grow up to a cowboy, but I think we have time for him to change his mind again.)

If I had one wish, I would wish for: a horse (He recently informed me that he would be asking Santa for a horse, and I quickly informed him that Santa knows we do not need a horse. Danny's having a rough time in this department, as we have also informed him that Santa will not be allowed to bring him a Wii. The other day, Danny asked if he'd be allowed to ask for a Wii for Christmas when he dies and goes to heaven. Ouch.)

Location:Highland Preserve Dr,Mableton,United States

Friday, November 11, 2011


The weather is cooler around here, such that when Laura and I went for a walk this morning, her fleece footy pajamas and a hat seemed the best attire. This darling hat is one of the few pieces from Clare's wardrobe that have survived to this date. It was put to the test in a Chicago winter but still looks almost new.

Since we also had music class today, I actually got Laura dressed. This is a rare occurrence, particularly on cold days, because a) I'm lazy, and b) what's cozier than jammies?? So, I opted for this precious purple ensemble, which happens to be one of Laura's best colors. It also happens to be one of my favorite outfits from Clare's babyhood, but alas I couldn't find any photos of her wearing it. (The invention of the iPhone means Laura is bucking the tradition of the third child getting short shrift on the photography front.) Interestingly, Clare wore it when she was six and seven months old, whereas it fits ten-month-old Laura perfectly. Despite being the biggest at birth, Laura is definitely the smallest of the three so far. Except for her eyes!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mountain Escape

After a half-hearted attempt two years ago, this past year at the CKS auction we got serious and made a successful bid on a weekend in the mountains. We dragged the Francos into this experience with us, and we're so glad that we did (and pretty sure they agree)!

We had been warned by the home's gracious owners that the dirt road leading up to the house is best traversed by a vehicle with four-wheel drive. Well, none of us had that, so we put our Odysseys to the test. The Francos made it up fine. The Seymours got stuck, twice. In the end, though, with a little nudge by Luis and I, the Vanimal made it to the top. From here we thought we were home free, only to discover that the housekeeper had left the alarm on, when we had been told by the hostess it would not be on and thus had not been given a code. It seemed like forever, but probably only took about 30 minutes until we eventually made contact with the owners and got the alarm shut off for good. Now we were home free!

The house was truly spectacular, high atop a mountain with glorious views (including the above photo) and lots of privacy. It had plenty of space for all of us, and an A-frame layout with a loft that reminded me of the cabin we used to rent in the mountains when I was a kid (except this was about four times bigger). Glorious.

Bolstered by the light of a new day, we even ventured back down the mountain for an outing. (We did decide to all pile into one of the vans, thinking it would be best to have a car at the top just in case.) Tim did some quick research and found a kid-friendly one-mile trail for us to explore, with a lake-side playground across the street and then a waterfront restaurant for lunch just down the road. Perfection all around, especially since Laura was so agreeable in the hiking backpack.

After a successful run back up the dirt road, we settled in for the rest of the afternoon and night, which culminated in a long-anticipated Euchre match between the four adults. The kids spent a lot of time inventing various games with glow sticks, drawing pictures and making books, some video games and a couple of movies - and above all, staying out of our hair! As we exclaimed many times, we were a very compatible match of families for a weekend excursion and hope to make it a repeat event.