Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Toddler in Red

I was delighted to discover this dress in a bin of hand-me-downs. Clare wore it for her 18-month portrait (something I only did with my firstborn). It's a fun way to compare her at that age to Laura - she had much more hair, and quite a bit of personality herself!

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Buffalo Summer Shuffle 2012

It seems as though we just packed our bags, but we are already home from another marvelous, memorable trip to Buffalo. As usual, it was jam-packed with adventures and time well spent with Grandma and Grandpa and the other Buffalonians we've grown to love.

In no particular order, this year's highlights include:

Danny embracing the diving board at Park Club almost as enthusiastically as Clare:

Tea time for Grandma, Clare and me:

Early morning runs with Laura around Delaware Park or along the Niagara River:

Outings to the Renaissance Festival (pictured below) and Black Creek Village for Clare, Danny, Grandma and Grandpa:

Walks around the neighborhood, spearheaded by Miss Independent:

A day at Bay Beach, Ontario with the Ward Family as gracious hosts:

Dinner at Park Club:

Multiple rides on Crazy Mouse at Fantasy Island while Grandma and Grandpa kept Laura:

The list really could go on and on - and all of this was in between playing with Tim and Karen's old toys, and reading their old books, and walking to Spot Coffee for breakfast, and playing in the sandbox, and the Wilson family picnic... Thank heavens there's always next year!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Tiny Tyrant

She's very commanding. And demanding. Charming, too, when she chooses. At 18 months, Laura is most definitely "a character," as Donna has dubbed her, and a force to be reckoned with.

This has made for an interesting summer tour. We are thoroughly enjoying ourselves, but there are times when a) I would love a bit more freedom; b) grandparents would love a bit more (any, really) cuddling; and c) Danny would love fewer bites.

Instead, we all clamor to amuse her, cajole her, placate her. I really do have limits, and I swear she doesn't get away with everything, but there are lots of days when Laura's whims rule the roost.

Can you blame us?

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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hey There, Sports Fans

We are speedily cruising through another marvelous vacation in Buffalo. Our activities could fill plenty of posts, but I wanted to quickly make note of one theme that dominated our earliest days here: sports.

Knowing that Clare is an avid swimmer these days, Larry asked around at the Park Club and secured permission for her to practice with their swim team. He wasn't sure if this would appeal or not, but once I heard about it I would have bet a large sum that she'd say yes. Which she did, and then proceeded to ask about and discuss the opportunity frequently. She has now attended twice, and will hopefully go once or twice more, depending on our otherwise active schedule.

Meanwhile, Danny has been living the sports enthusiast's dream, alongside his Grandpa. First, he went to an open practice for the Sabres' prospective players. Then he attended the Triple A All-Star baseball game. Then he got to attend a Sabres scrimmage (and was given a sweatshirt that I'm certain will be worn out before its outgrown). I fear we're not doing much to discourage his hockey interest, but he sure is happy!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Stars & Stripes & Family Forever

Another wonderful whirlwind of a Fourth of July in Topeka! We had such a grand time, as always (in between monitoring Laura's fist fights...and I wish I was kidding). Kids and food ruled the occasion, which is just as it should be, right?

Collectively, we did a lousy job of group shots, so my photos really don't paint the picture of the 11 kids and their interactions. There was a lot of swimming:

Video games and LEGOs and probably some sports talk between Danny and Paxton, who became fast buddies:

The Collins Park parade, which was very warm but still delivered plenty of charm and, perhaps more importantly, candy:

And lots and lots and lots of fireworks, courtesy of John Needham and Andy and Angelyn's neighborhood (which may never be the same again, although we do plan to return next year):

Above all, we had precious time with Grandma Eddie and Grandpa Bob. On our last evening, Laura redeemed herself as she enjoyed her dinner while serenading Grandma Eddie with "We Will Rock You":

I think what is most remarkable about these visits is how we always pick up as though it has been much less than a year since we last reunited. Until we meet again...

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Summer Romance of Sorts

This weekend, Danny and I had our planned, and much-needed, date together. We went to the Tellus Museum by his request, and explored the whole thing at his pace and whim. Not to mention the delightful car ride to the museum, where he had both of my ears and I found that I could actually hear everything he said (he's taken to speaking very quietly of late, particularly when he is expressing any emotion other than happiness). He frequently and spontaneously told me he loves me, and in general we had a grand time.

That said, he asked me several times if Clare would be home when we returned. When I mentioned this to Tim, he commented that Clare also seemed a bit aimless during Danny's absence. We find this is often true. Clare in particular has a developing social life that frequently takes her away from the house, but when she's home and Danny's not, we can tell she misses him. And there is no doubt that he misses her - he's distraught when she is home but chooses to spend some alone time in her room.

This summer has shaped up to be much less painful than I anticipated, and I credit their willingness to play together for much of that. There are crazy games, vague games ("Be Whoever You Want" comes to mind), and downright baffling games, but they work for the two of them (seen above as cave people). I treasure this, because I know there will come a time when preteen Clare will have no interest in that younger brother, at least not in playing silly games with him. Sure, the LEGO and Playmobil pieces strewn about get under my skin, and every day is not utopian, but for right now it's pretty great.