Category Archives: Family

Fall in New England

We had a wonderful weekend with my dad and stepmom in town. They actually arrived Friday morning and left early today, so they got a full three days with the kiddos (and me, I guess, but mostly the kids… you know how it goes). Thankfully, neither of my kids has yet developed much by way of stranger anxiety. They sometimes get a little clingy if they’re feeling overwhelmed, but they were more than happy to play with their thoroughly adoring grandparents.

Sunday had to be the highlight of the weekend. After Meet the Press (my dad does not miss Meet the Press), we took the kids out for lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant.  I swear, that has to be their favorite cuisine.  They can’t get enough of refried beans and Mexican rice. And I’ve never seen Daniel put away so much food.  He ate a few chips while we waited, then almost an entire cheese-and-onion enchilada and at least half of the pile of black beans and rice.  And even though he looked like he was in a bit of a food coma, he still demolished the scoop of ice cream that comes with the kids’ meals.  Rebecca did about the same damage on her soft taco plate.  It was madness.

After lunch, we hopped in the car and drove out to Shelburne Farm, where M’s company was hosting their annual apple-picking outing.  Hooray for fall in New England!  It was one of those “attraction” farms with the pony ride and moon bounce and all of that.  Most of it, the kids were too young for.  But it will be fun to go back again later.  And, as it turns out, it was not just the kids’ first time apple picking.  It was also the first for my dad and stepmom!  It was a perfect, crisp, sunny Fall day.  We got our two bags of apples, and I’ll make plenty of yummy things with them.  But mostly it was just nice to be out there with the bright colors and fresh air and hot apple cider.

Sad again, of course, when the grandparents had to say goodbye at bedtime last night.  Hard to leave when you only see them a few times a year.  Yet again, the move to Chicago is pulling me… not that I’m going to even consider putting my house on the market right now.  But still, the dream remains.

Anyways, some favorite pictures from our weekend adventures:



Filed under Family, Toddlers


So, my real-life buddy Nancy over at the Zimmer Zoo tagged me twice recently!  Better get cracking…

Meme #1

Rules: Answer each question with one-word answers, then pass along to seven others whose blog you love.

1. Where is your cell phone? Purse
2. Where is your significant other? Work
3. Your hair color? Blonde
4. Your mother? Illinois
5. Your father? Washington
6. Your favorite thing? Food!
7. Your dream last night? Odd
8. Your dream/goal? Home
9. The room you’re in? Den
10. Your hobby? Quilting
11. Your fear? Accident
12. Where do you want to be in six years? Chicago
13. Where were you last night? Couch
14. What you’re not? Apolitical
15. One of your wish list items? Kitchen
16. Where you grew up? Illinois
17. The last thing you did? Naptime
18. What are you wearing? Sparkles
19. Your TV? Off
20. Your pet? Schnauzer
21. Your computer? iMac
22. Your mood? Neutral
23. Missing someone? Mom
24. Your car? Van
25. Something you’re not wearing? Socks
26. Favorite store? Williams-Sonoma
27. Your summer? Short!
28. Love someone? Absolutely
29. Your favorite color? Blue
30. When is the last time you laughed? Morning
31. Last time you cried? Weeks

And, well… I love all of you.  So please consider yourself tagged.

Meme #2: Playing Tag with Memory Loss

The instructions are these:

* Go to your Sixth Picture Folder then pick your Sixth Picture.

* Pray that you remember the details.

* Tag 5 others.

Alright, well… I use iPhoto, which organizes all of my photos into “Events.”  So I’m going to go with the sixth “Event” instead of folder.  I’m sure you all won’t mind.  Luckily, it’s not a bad picture!

This is me and my younger brother, May 2003.  I went out west to see him graduate from college (University of Colorado-Boulder).  Despite it being May, it was awful out.  Freezing rain and snow for the outdoor graduation.  Oh well…

Man.  He looks so much younger, as do I.  (I’m not even going to get into how much thinner I look.)  We didn’t get along for many years, but he really grew up in the last several years, and is now Mr. Professional and doing great (and married and all of that).  And me, well… I’ve had a few things cause me to age a year or two since then. 🙂

I’m tagging people I know (or at least have met) in real life for this one:


What a Card

Mommy, Esq.


Mostly Madeline


Filed under Blogging, Family, Reminiscing, Your turn!

Change of plans

My mom hasn’t seen the kids since our big trip to Chicago in late July. The bummer about living 1,000 miles away from my family, and the fact that my mom tends to have a very busy social calendar, is that time just seems to fly by and the next thing you know, she hasn’t seen them in nearly three months.  It’s sad, because I want my kids to know their grandparents.  But between my mom and stepdad always having a million things going on, my dad always traveling for work, and M’s parents down in Florida who basically look after M’s grandmother, who is not really up for traveling… my kids just don’t see their grandparents very often.  Maybe someday that will be resolved somewhat and there will be more free time for traveling or we’ll live near at least one set of them.  But for now, it’s a bummer.

So, my mom has been trying her damndest to squeeze in a trip to Boston.  She had an event she was organizing that was in Georgia a couple of weekends ago, and at the end of this month, they’re going to India for three weeks (with friends who were born there – how cool will that be?!).  And then it will be Thanksgiving, and we’ll be there for Christmas.  So early-October seemed the way to go.  Her flight landed in Boston at 10:30 this morning.

Except, sadly, she was not on it.  She had a lingering sore throat for the last week or two, which decided to morph into a hideous cold/flu/virus yesterday that was so bad this morning she couldn’t get out of bed.  My stepdad called to tell me at about 7:30am, she couldn’t even get on the phone.  She called me an hour later, sounding like death, but desperately wanting to apologize.  I felt bad, she felt bad.  But alas, nothing to be done when you’re completely knocked on your ass.

So, no mom visit this weekend. 😦  No organizational projects, no playing with the playhouse she got for the kids. I have no idea if she’s going to be able to try and reschedule for another time this month, or if October will turn into November and then December, and I’ll just see her then.  Regardless of whether there are any complicated aspects to our relationship, she’s my mom.  I miss her, and I’m really sad my kids don’t know her.  Hopefully we’ll work something out before Christmas, but I won’t go holding my breath.


Filed under Family

I just don’t want it that badly

Oy, what an afternoon.

So, obviously the kiddos had a birthday recently.  My mom wanted to get them a good present, and decided on this outdoor playhouse.  Looks like fun, durable, good for a number of years.  Great gift.

Except, she lives 1,000 miles away from us.  So, she figured she’d order it online and have it shipped.

Except, shipping was anywhere from $80 to $150.  So, she figured she’d buy it from Sears and have me pick it up at the store.

Except, they were all out of stock because it’s the end of the season.  So, she finally found it at a Toys R Us in Manchester, New Hampshire.  About 45 minutes from my house.  I said I could drive up there this afternoon post-nap, so she called the store and had them set one aside.  Of course, it’s not like they could have sent it to a store closer to me, and of course they wouldn’t let her pay over the phone.  So, off I go, 45 minutes with the kids in the car to buy the present my mom wants to get them.  Fine.

Except, maybe two exits onto the highway and traffic is all but stopped.  At 3:45 in the afternoon, nowhere near the city.  And Rebecca is hungry/thirsty but refusing her sippy cup of milk.  And Daniel is throwing crackers on the floor.  So they’re both screaming.  I’m regretting the trip already, and I’ve only been on the road 15 minutes. I’m considering just turning around and calling my mom and telling her to think of some other gift.  But I call M, who checks the traffic report, and it looks like it should clear up.  Fine, whatever, I’m already on the road.  After an hour, we finally make it to the Toys R Us in New Hampshire.

Except, the woman at the service desk keeps calling the guy to check the customer hold room, and he’s not picking up the intercom.  And they can’t for the life of them figure out how to spell or say my last name.  Fine, whatever.  25 minutes later (oh, and the kids are no longer in their carseats, but now in the stroller… not a whole lot happier), he finally wheels out this enormous box and I pay for it, and he helps me out to the car.

Except, as we walk up to my van, we both know it.  The box just isn’t going to fit.  Even with the seats down, even if I didn’t have the kids with me (it was tempting to just leave them there and come back later), it was too big.  He asks me if I have a truck (um, no), or if I want him to try to strap it to the top of the car (um, I’m 40 miles from home, I’m not driving back on local roads at 25 miles per hour).  I thank him for his effort, but apologize and say I have to walk back into the store and return it, less than five minutes after I bought it.  It was all I could do not to burst into tears.  The kids beat me to it.

Everyone back in the car, time to go home.  I called my mom to let her know what happened, and she started talking about my uncle’s truck and waiting until it comes back in stock at Christmas time.  I’m not sure why she’s so attached to this play house, but frankly, I could give a shit.  If it shows up on my doorstep, great.  We’ll love it.  But there’s no way in hell I’m crossing state lines for it again.

We finally arrived back home, more than two hours after we left.  The kids had been strapped into either their carseat or their stroller the whole time.  I think they were just relieved to climb around the kitchen while I got them some dinner.

Thanks, mom, but maybe next time just get them a DVD or something.


Filed under Birthdays, Family, Not good times, Toddlers

They’re definitely his kids

Sometimes it takes outside eyes to notice things about your kids.  When you’re so close all the time, it can be hard to see the proverbial forest for the trees.  That, and I think I just don’t see them the way other people do.  I can’t, I’m their mother.

Prime example, the way every single person who sees Daniel says “wow, he looks exactly like M!”  And while exactly may be an exaggeration DSC_0813(Daniel has my nose, while Rebecca has M’s), it must be a fairly strong resemblance since almost everyone says the same thing.  Me?  I don’t see it.  Like, at all.  Well, OK, once I saw a picture of M as a toddler, and then I definitely saw the resemblance.  But the M that I know now?  Nope.  He just looks like M to me.  And Daniel just looks like Daniel.

With Rebecca in the looks department, there’s less consensus.  M says she looks a little like me, my mom thinks she looks like M’s sister.  And I think she’s just funny as hell, and her eye and hair color change depending on the day’s light.

Last night, though, I was talking to a friend of ours on the phone and describing Rebecca’s current mobility status.  She loves to walk while holding on to both of your hands.  If you take one of your hands away (wrench it out of her fingers), she’s perfectly capable of walking and holding onto only one of your hands, but she hates it.  DSC_0205She would much, much rather have both.  I don’t think she wants to walk until she’s totally comfortable with the idea, and she was the same way with crawling.  She took her sweet time mastering each little component, and though everyone was certain she was mere moments away from crawling, she worked on it for a solid six weeks before finally doing it on her own.

My friend just laughed.  “Oh my god,” she said, “she’s just like her dad!”  And it’s so true.  M fears change.  Change involves newness and risk.  What if it’s worse than what I already have or already know how to do?  Better to stick with the devil you know.  It took him over a year to buy a new car, several years to change jobs, and we won’t even talk about how long it took him to get around to proposing to yours truly.

So, M, there you go.  No more joking about the milkman.  They’re definitely yours.


Filed under Child Development, Family, My beloved, Toddlers

Trip Recap, Part 4 – The Family Reunion

I swear, this is the last trip recap you’ll hear!  I know, it’s fascinating…. but I wanted to record it for posterity before I completely forget and there’s a million other things to write about.

Anyways, the final weekend of the big trip to the Midwest involved a two-hour drive to sorta-Central Illinois for my dad’s family reunion.  It has happened every year for the last 30+ years, and it only gets bigger.  This year, for instance, there were four kids under 18 months, and that doesn’t even count my new niece, who was not in attendance.  And two of my cousins are pregnant, so there’s a few more for next year.  I believe my cousin Jenny’s five-month-old daughter was the one who put it over the edge, so that generation (my kids’) now outnumbers my own in our family.

The kids did great on the drive. We left at afternoon nap time, and they slept pretty much the entire drive. Yay!  Got there and it was people galore, jumping in the pool, little kids running everywhere, firing up the big grill for dinner. The bugs at night were awful, but because the baby monitor didn’t reach far enough to go hang out with everyone else, M and I were totally lame and went to bed super early.  My aunts and uncles were apparently looking for more wine by 11:30pm…

Daniel (far left) chats it up with three of his 2nd cousins (including the only other set of twins in the family).

Daniel (far left) chats it up with three of his 2nd cousins (including the only other set of twins in the family, who are almost exactly two years older than mine).

Rebecca is just glad Daddy has joined us.

Rebecca is just glad Daddy has joined us. It was a long 10 days away from him.

Saturday morning of reunion weekend is all about games, especially for the kids.  I remember growing up playing Bozo buckets and all variety of things.  This year, the “theme” of the reunion was baseball, and each family group (i.e. my dad and his siblings) was supposed to come up with a game.  They often involve throwing things at someone, or general mess and/or embarrassment.  Good times!  The rest of the day is pretty much a blur of chlorine, cheap beer, Red Vines vs. Twizzlers, and just hanging out with cousins.  The nighttime entertainment is the “Talent(less) Show,” which is mostly a chance for the little kids to get up and do somersaults and sing songs, and for the adults to cheer wildly.  It was after D&R’s bedtime… maybe next year.

The kids rock their White Sox outfits.  (Notice the completed quilts they're sitting on?!)

The kids rock their White Sox outfits. (Notice the completed quilts they're sitting on?!)

because really, how often do you get to throw stuff at your father-in-law's head?

The games: because really, how often do you get to throw stuff at your father-in-law's head?

There are enough people in the family that we've developed an elaborate numbering system so you know how everyone is related. Then we printed them on shirts, just for kicks.  Daniel is 5.1.1 (first child of the first child of the 5th child).

There are enough people in the family that we've developed an elaborate numbering system so you know how everyone is related. Then we printed them on shirts, just for kicks. Daniel is 5.1.1 (first child of the first child of the 5th child).

Rebecca likes her snacks spicy.

Rebecca likes her snacks spicy.

They both liked getting in and out of the pool.

They both liked getting in and out of the pool.

Sunday started with a threat of rain, but nothing could put a damper on the day: it was Daniel & Rebecca’s first birthday!  And so many family members to celebrate with. We got a cake to share with everyone, and made a big old mess before it was time to pack the car and head back to my dad’s house before going to the airport and finally going home after our long trip.  Sadly, our flight was delayed by about an hour, and we didn’t get all the way home until nearly midnight.  But with only minor exceptions, both kids proved stellar travelers, and I count the whole shebang as a big success.

Birthday breakfast, outside but covered in case of rain.

Birthday breakfast, outside but covered in case of rain.

Daddy and his birthday babies!

Daddy and his birthday babies!

Not real sure about this wrapping paper thing...

Not real sure about this wrapping paper thing...

Aww yeah, the messy cake picture.  Rebecca went to town and rubbed it in her hair.  Daniel was surprisingly more cautious.

Aww yeah, the messy cake picture. Rebecca went to town and rubbed it in her hair. Daniel was surprisingly more cautious.


Filed under Birthdays, Family, Infants, Travel

Trip Recap, Part 3 – back to Grandpa’s house

See the first parts of the story here and here.

The first week of the trip under our belts, we were back at my dad’s house for a few days.  We pretty much crammed in visitors at every opportunity.  I have a lot of family and old friends in the area, and I thought a 12-day trip would make it easy to see them all at a leisurely pace, but not so much.

Wednesday was something of a recovery day, so we didn’t do too much.  We hit the grocery store so I could cook my parents dinner for once, and my dad and stepmom got a kick out of having the kids in the carts.  We made use of the ol’ swim diapers and took a dip in the pool in the afternoon (I wouldn’t want one in my own yard, but it sure was nice to have access to my dad’s!), and then got dressed and went to visit the optometrist.  No, not to get the kids’ eyes checked.  The optometrist around the corner from my dad’s house is a delightful woman who is a friend of the family, as well as a mentor to my stepsister, who is now halfway through optometry school.  Anyways, we had to go say hi.  And then, well, the ice cream shop was right there across the street… ah, why not!

Daniel rocks Grandpa's sunglasses. Bet the prescription felt weird to him...

Daniel rocks Grandpa's sunglasses. Bet the prescription felt weird to him...

Rebecca takes her ice cream very seriously.

Rebecca takes her ice cream very seriously.

Daniel is excited for the next bite!

Daniel is excited for the next bite!

Thursday was go-go-go, see as many people as possible.  We took our early-morning walk to the park and met up with my aunt and cousin (no extra people showed up this time).  After the morning nap, we drove with Gramps to the golf club to meet my stepmom for lunch.  And when we got home, my very good friend from college came over with her 3-year-old son and we all played in the pool.  My kids had a really short afternoon nap, so when the crabbies took over at about 4pm, I set out on a nice long walk – where I ran into another family friend!  Everyone wanted to lay eyes on the kiddos.

Rebecca found a shovel at the park.

Rebecca found a shovel at the park.

Rebecca thinks my stepmom is super funny at our fancy lunch.

Rebecca thinks my stepmom is super funny at our fancy lunch.

Daniel and his big three-year-old buddy.

Daniel and his big three-year-old buddy.

Friday was a great day: M arrived!  Hooray!  We missed him so much, and he was terribly lonely without the kids (and me, I suppose, but mostly the kids!).  His flight came in Friday morning, and we immediately packed everything back into the car, because it was time for one last adventure: the family reunion!

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Filed under Family, Infants, Travel