Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Just in case you were wondering it is 15 degrees BELOW zero right now. That is just the air temp. The windchill is something like 40 below. I do prefer the cold but this is ridiculous.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Artistic Genius

Liam sat down for a painting session the other night. It went from an adorable joyous experience to a messy meltdown, but it was priceless and fun to watch. Here are some pics....

'Cause you Gotta Have Friends!

Earlier this month I had one of my much treasured get-togethers with my best girl friends from college. As we do at least once a year, we gathered for a weekend of laughing until our sides hurt, talking until our voices were gone and enjoying bottles of wine and great dinners. These girls weekends feed my soul and I am so blessed to have these ladies in my life. From college days to boyfriends, husbands, careers, babies, illness, travel, moving and everything in-between we have been there for each other - going on 15 years now. And none of us see that changing. Thanks, ladies! And thanks to all the husbands and boyfriends for taking over kid-duty and dog-duty so we can fly around and visit. Much love! Though we were two gals short this year due to one being pregnant and living in Europe and some important commitments, we had a blast and had some great speaker-phone calls with both of them! :)

One of the mighty has fallen

One of the wonderful things that we loved about our home when we bought it was the gorgeous, majestic and very tall Elm in the front of the house. The branches hung over the roof, the light was beautifully dappled, and there was something so storybook about the branches blowing in the breeze just outside of the organza curtained windows of Kate's cozy bedroom. We loved that tree! Sadly, the tree got Dutch Elm disease and was "marked for death" by the Parks & Rec team here - sporting a red spray-painted ring for about a year. It took that long for the Parks team to get to it with all the Dutch Elm that has spread through the city. As the months wore on, Nick and I got over the disappointment of losing a great tree and grew more concerned with safety as the tree grew more and more brittle, with leaves completely shedding in the summer and small branches falling down. We really worried about it crashing into our roof during a bad storm. Well, the tree finally came down! It was sad to see it go - but the kids were absolutely fascinated by the process. They sat in the front window for hours watching the crew work. And I must say that it was pretty interesting to watch! Here are some pics of the kids watching the whole process. Bye bye Elm! We sure will miss you this summer!

Monday, January 28, 2008


Kate has had some funny comments lately. Here are two examples:

Yesterday was a “Kate Challenge” day. In other words, she was out of sorts. Liam has been doing a lot of fun, adorable, and commendable things as of late – from saying new words to knowing the alphabet, pointing out letters, and telling us their sounds. Every time he does something new we cheer and applaud appropriately, but I think that Kate has been getting QUITE jealous and has been acting a little upset and out of sorts, despite the fact that we make sure to give her equal applause for her great deeds. I realized that perhaps she needed a little one-on-one time, so Nick decided to keep an eye on Liam so Kate and I could hang out. I suggested to Kate, “Why don’t you and I go downstairs and play some board games? Daddy will stay up here with Liam!”

Kate responded with extreme enthusiasm in a loud whisper “Mommy! That is a GREAT idea! That way, Liam will never respect us!” I looked at her quizzically, thinking I knew what she meant to say but asked anyway, “Respect us? Liam will never respect us? What do you mean?” Kate answered, very knowingly, and this is verbatim, “Mom, it is just another way of saying that he will never guess what we are up to downstairs!” I said “Ooohhhh! You mean he will never SUSPECT us!” She put on a semi-sheepish smile and totally played it off, one hand on her hip, the other waving in the air “Yes! Suspect! Of course!” Too funny.

Tonight we decided to head out of the house as a family. It was actually warm here today! In the 40s! Positively balmy. When Nick got home from work we took the kids out to dinner. It was a nice night out and the kiddos behaved beautifully and I did not have to cook! Yay! As we left the restaurant and were strolling outside, I commented that it was a lovely night. It really was! There was a cool breeze, but it felt terrific and fresh and clean after being frozen in the house for days. Kate was blinking and ducking her head away from the breeze and REALLY being very overdramatic. I commented on it and she said something about the wind. I told her I LOVED the breeze! She said very calmly “Well I don’t! It is blowing in my face!” I said “Oh, the breeze is wonderful, Kate! It feels so fresh and clean! Fresh air and wind is part of nature! I love nature! Nature is good for everyone!” Kate very frankly informed us that “Well, it’s NOT good for meeeeee.” What?! We need to get this girl out more. The housebound frozen-ness has made her forget that she used to tantrum when it was time to come inside!

Please God let it warm up soon! No luck…it is going to drop back below zero this week. Sigh.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

How do you spell "Freezing"?


It is pretty darn chilly here! This morning I think it was -14 without windchill and -29 with the windchill. Nice. To be honest, once it goes below zero, cold is cold is cold. You go outside and the inside of your nose freezes instantly. It is a really dry cold, though, and that is not bad. The wet cold is the cold that seeps into your bones and is miserable. This kind of cold that we have basically allows you to barely utter an expletive before it is frozen out of your mouth and you tuck your head into your shoulders, hunch down, bury the hands and shuffle furiously (no running, please, unless you want to break your bum on some black ice!) to the next enclosed area - either car or building as those are your only two options when it is like this.

The kids are a little stir crazy. There is a ton of snow on the ground, but obviously they cannot play in it and that is a small form of torture in their eyes. But I would like them to keep their fingers, toes, and noses so I keep them indoors. They have found ways to occupy themselves. Kate is working on her reading a lot- of her own volition - so that is great. Although when we are in the car it proves to be a little frustrating to her. She has taken to trying to read signs as we are driving so we will be sitting at a stoplight and she will be sounding out a street sign "S, sssss, N, nuh nuh, E, eh , eh...." then the light turns green and I drive away to the wails of Kate: "Mooooommmmm!!!! I was not done reading that Siiiiigggnnnnnnnn!!!!!! Now I'l NEVER know what it said! NEVER!!!!!" - Oh the drama.

Liam has invented a new game to burn energy and keep him busy indoors. I have to video it and try to get it on here because it is hilarious. He has no clue that he has essentially adapted a form of keg racing for his own toddler enjoyment. Where he came up with this I will never know:

Liam has this great wooden truck that Nick got him on one of his trips to Poland. It is beautifully crafted and very durable. Liam will stand at one end of the hallway and place his sippy cup of milk in the truck bed. He bends in half, resting his hands on top of the truck and, in a jackknife position, races full speed to the end of the hallway pushing the truck with it's cargo of milk. When he reaches the end he very quickly grabs the cup of milk, stands up, throws his head all the way back and tips his cup right in the air and CHUGS that milk, complete with zealous gulping sounds. After a few dramatic pulls off the sippy and a giant exhale of breath ("Ahhhhhhh") he slams the cup back in the truck bed, resumes his position, and barrels back down the hallway to repeat his drinking ritual at the other end. He will do this about 10 times in a row. It seriously is like he is training for some college keg team!!!! And the fact that he has this adorable toddler belly only adds to the hilarity.

I love the kiddos! They continue to be so much darn fun! I may re-evaluate the fun factor after one more week of sub-zero temps, but I doubt it. As long as we have a supply of play-doh, board games, books, crayons and markers, and music for dance parties then I think we will be ok!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Proud proud proud

I am such a proud Mommy! Today, Kate READ!!!! I was beginning to wonder when this would start happening - she knows all her letters, all their sounds, and how to write all of them and identify them. She has been very into practicing writing so I figured the reading might come up soon, but I really wanted it to be at her instigation, not mine. Well, today she looked at my sweatshirt and asked me "Mommy, what does that say on your sweatshirt?" I asked her "what do you think it says?" and she looked at the first letter, "B" and yelled "BOSTON!!!!". Good guess, given my affinity for that town, but it was the wrong answer. I crouched down and held out the sweat shirt and said "why don't you try sounding out each letter and see if you can tell me what it says". She did just that! After sounding it out aloud, she proudly exclaimed "BUTLER!!!!!!!!!". I wish I could have captured that look on her face when she realized that she figured out what it said all on her own and was right! She was totally elated. I cheered her on like crazy and we high-fived all over the kitchen. Kate, jumping up and down, actually said "Let's read some MORE!!!!!!" Sweeter words were never spoken! :)

Not one to close a window of opportunity, I went upstairs and selected a book that we never read, but is relatively easy. I remember that my first book was a Dr. Seuess book, so I chose "Fox in Sox". I literally never read it to her because, honestly and maybe I am odd for this, I really don't care for Dr. Seuess books! Nevertheless, Kate climbed on my lap and proceeded to sound out and read 5 pages from "Fox in Sox". I had to explain to her the "kn" sound (Dr. Seuess books have all those silly made up words), but she did really well! She was so patient, did not get frustrated, and recognized the words on the later pages as ones from earlier pages, so did not have to sound them out as much. I noticed that she would try to guess the next word - for instance, one stanza is "fox in box" and she would say "Fox in (and then insert the word "a") box". It makes grammatical sense to her, which is great - but we worked on just reading the words and trusting the letters and not anticipating the next word too much because it could be a surprise! We called her Daddy at work and also Nia and Gramps in Florida and she read a page to each of them aloud, sounding out the words along the way. They cheered her on and it just made Kate beam.

I am just so proud of her and excited. I will admit it is largely because I ADORE reading and it was a big contributor to joy in my own childhood - and in my whole life. Books are so wonderful and I hope that Kate gets a fraction of contentment from reading that I get. Plus, let's face it - it is exciting to have her have another way to independently occupy her time! I cannot be the cruise director ALL the time! :)

I look forward to lots of time snuggled on the arm chair poring over letters. I am sure there will be bouts of frustration and testing of patience, but what a milestone for Kate to reach! Yay!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It's Chilly in Chatterville

To start with, it is FREEZING here. With the wind chill it is about MINUS 14 degrees tonight. It certainly has been colder here in MInnesota, but we have been spoiled lately with some pretty mild temps (aka 20s and 30s F) and so it just seems EXTRA cold now. One of the side effects of it being so cold is that we tend to stay in much more. Trying to venture out with the kiddos in this weather involves an insane amount of bundling, frozen car doors, and whining car batteries. So, if we don't HAVE to go out, we don't. I generally love staying home bundled and warm with the kids, coloring with them, playing play-doh, baking etc. It is usually pretty pleasant and snuggly and sweet. However, Kate has turned some sort of developmental corner that has made it a bit difficult to have a long, pleasant, housebound day with her.......she won't stop talking. She talks and talks and talks and talks. She contributes a running commentary on anything and everything. If I am making grilled cheese she will ask about every step I take and then interject with her own bits of information as well. It goes something like this:

"Mom? What are you doing? Are you making grilled cheese? Can you cut the crusts off? What kind of cheese is that? Do you know I also like string cheese? Is that wheat bread? I like wheat bread. Do you know that wheat bread is made with wheat? What is white bread made with? Do you know that Finnian at school likes pizza? Pizza is like grilled cheese except it has tomato sauce on it and it is not a sandwich, but it is cheese and bread just like grilled cheese. Do you remember the time I ordered grilled cheese at the Rainforest Cafe? I went to one in Texas, too, in San Antonio. I fed the ducks there, too. Do you know that baby ducks are called ducklings? Like in the book "Make Way for Ducklings". That is in Boston, that is where those ducks live. Hey didn't you get married in Boston? Do you know those ducks?"

I am not kidding you. This goes on all. day. long. It does not matter how many times we ask her or tell her to be quiet. She is un-silenceable right now. It is trying on our patience! :) It happens anywhere and everywhere. If I am on the phone she will interrupt me and I will hold up one finger to tell her to wait. Then a whole hand. Then give a glare and excuse myself and tell her to wait her turn. We have had the "do not interrupt, it is rude" talk a million times. To counter the rude interruption, she will use her version of polite which - as opposed to just not interrupting me - actually consists of her saying "excusememommy, exusememommy, excusememommy" over and over and over until she gets put in time out. It is just not sinking in. Tonight she did not get a story at bedtime and when she asked why I told her it was "because clearly her ears were broken today since she did not hear anything I said to her about not interrupting". She said "No my ears work for stories". Nice try! :)

I do love hearing the way her brain works and the funny things she has to say. For instance, Nick and I were working on reorganizing one of the rooms today and she came in and told us that "This room looks just brilliant!". I love that stuff. But if she would just take five minutes to stop talking now and then....... :)

You know, before I had kids if you asked me how much time I would need to recharge and relax and what that time would entail I would probably say at least a full day at the spa or even a getaway to the Caribbean. It is amazing how silly that all sounds now. Today, when I went to run an errand, I realized that all I really need to recharge from a persistent pre-schooler is a SOLO trip to Target, sans children. With a Starbucks in one hand and my iPod earphones on, I strolled alone and to my own soundtrack. Other mothers passed me with distraught children in shopping carts, the children's faces red and tears shed as they clearly protested to their mother....but their wails were silent to me and I just floated along with my Macchiatto and my music! :) Who knew that 45 minutes to by some organizational Rubbermaid storage tubs was just as good as a day at the spa? Well.....almost. I would still take those over Target in a heartbeat, let's be real. But I HAVE learned to find the joy in the truly simple could have been gas station coffee and "Muzac" and all would have been well. And coming home to kids who hug me as if I were gone a week makes it even better.

So, it is cold. My ears are getting talked right off my head by my chatty four-year-old. But I love it and if I need a break and cannot get away, I have a great coffee maker and that little iPod is good for anywhere! Toasty wishes to you all!