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.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Halloween in a Galaxy Far, Far Away

Once Danny set the Star Wars tone for Halloween this year, with Clare quickly (if surprisingly) hopping on board, Tim and I knew it had to be a full-family affair. Primarily inspired by the opportunity to dress Laura as Yoda. Unfortunately, she didn't last much past the family photo, but the rest of us had a lovely time trick-or-treating with the Francos while Donna and Larry manned the house. It was picture-perfect Halloween weather, with sunny skies and pleasant temps that weren't too much for, say, a furry Chewbacca costume...

Here's sweet, sad Yoda who just wants to be able to move independently:

Princess Leia and Hermione:

Princess Leia and Chewy:

The whole gang (Gabrielle was Jessie, from Toy Story) on a candy break before heading up the big hill. Note that Danny has lost the mask by this point, after multiple incidents involving his impaired vision:

We're so happy that our Halloween tradition with the Francos is now three years strong. Next year it's their turn for costumes.