Thursday, January 24, 2013

Face Painting

I'm really not one of those "cool moms" who is always doing nifty, creative things with my kids.  Really.  But once in while I knock it out of the park.

Our parish has a street festival every summer around our patronal feast day (Our Lady of Mt. Carmel).  We usually go two of three nights, at least.  You know, we have to eat our weight in Zeppoles in order to "support the parish".  We buy a few treats and, otherwise, if the kids want to buy stuff they have to use their own money.  They generally blow $6-8 between them on those little "party snappers" that make a loud cracking noise when you throw them in the street.

This year they saw the face-painting booth and really wanted painted faces.  This was about 8:30 at night on our way home and when I saw that the going rate for simple little designs was $5 a pop I promised that I would paint their faces the next day at home and they could have them painted all afternoon AND at the festival.

So I pulled out my makeup stash (including lots of samples--I don't typically wear bright blue on my face!) and went to town.

Journey to the Midwest, Ch. 1

I am a little embarrassed to post these pictures for three reasons;  
1.  This all happened about eight months ago.
2.  The pictures are mostly from my phone and, therefore, poor quality.
3.  We spent four really, really wonderful days in Wisconsin on this trip relaxing at Eric's dad's lakeside house, getting to know some family we hardly ever see, and attending a fun family wedding.  But I don't have a single picture to prove it.

But I'll give you what I got.

An important task before we could leave on this trip was Releasing the Butterflies.  Our friend Robyn gave Margaret this great little kit for growing and hatching butterflies from the pupae stage on up.  We wanted to wait and get our little butterfly babies once the weather was nice rather than hatching them only to then watch them die in our house. With the arrival of consistent 60+-degree days in May, Margaret was excited to hatch some Painted Ladies.

She was definitely a bit sad to let them go free just before our trip but she bravely brought out her little net and opened it up.

  One sailed off right away.

But the others took a little more coaxing before they were ready to explore the wide world.

C'mon, little guys . . . what are you waiting for ?

That taken care of we hit the road early (early!) the next morning and drove 13-hours to Chicago.  Thirteen hours of driving when a 20-minute (minimum) stop is required every two hours makes for a pretty long day.  But at the other end we were all happy to meet up with our good friend, Brett who had only just finished his last day of his first year at the University of Chicago Law School.  Brett generously hosted us for two nights and showed us the sights around campus.  Here he is, no doubt, expounding on some complicated legal theory for the benefit of his godson.

Since the University of Chicago is in Hyde Park, home of the Obama Family, we hoped to take a swing by their place.  But we were thwarted.

After Chicago we headed to Sturgeon Bay, went to a wedding, let other grown-ups entertain our children and lay around the house reading for a few days before hitting the road again.  We drove back south along Lake Michigan and around the other side to Western Michigan.  Eric had a five-day conference in Grand Rapids and Brett's parents had generously (very generously!) offered to host the kids and me for the duration.

The kids still talk all the time about what a great time they had at the Swearingens.  And, really, it was like kid paradise.  Plenty of old toys and books around--Margaret discovered a love for Legos during our stay.  A huge yard with some woods.  There were, I think, daily tractor rides.

One day we headed into scenic St. Joseph which is a cute town on the shore of Lake Michigan.  The town was dotted with pirate statues and a pirate ship play structure.  The kids pretty much never wanted to leave.

We never go on carousels because they aren't all that wheelchair friendly and we assumed Joseph would have a dull time of it.  But a carousel was on the agenda that day.  Gregory stayed more or less happily on "land" while I helped a nervous Margaret choose a horse.

William, very unsure about the whole thing opted for the relative security of a bench.

And Joseph had a blast holding the reins of his "sea serpent".  Shows how much we know about what our kids think is fun.

Gregory and William couldn't get enough of the intricate model train set.

And afterwards we hiked up the side of a cliff.  I thought I would die.  But I apparently had enough energy left to snap a picture of the lake.

One night there were roasted hot dogs and s'mores.

And this swing alone might have been enough to make the trip for these two.  Margaret was trying to pull of a snuggly pose.  Gregory was afraid she was trying to take him out of his beloved swing.

And while the kids were enjoying five days of Kid Camp and Eric was having a great time at his conference, what did I do?  Well, I'll tell you what I didn't do:  cooking, cleaning, dishes, or laundry.  I played with Legos, read a biography of Clarence Thomas that Brett had so thoughtfully left behind, and enjoyed hearing myself say, "Why don't you go run around in the yard for awhile?"

Sunday, January 20, 2013

William Re-Cap

And just a quick rundown of some favorite William pictures from the past half-year.  William remains our intense child.  Very, very intense.  This one is a full-time job.  Fortunately, he tempers it with a beautiful desire to be good and do right.  It's difficult, sometimes, to be patient with him but our patience is generally rewarded.  Eric and I tend to "trade-off" and when I am at the end of my rope you can usually find Daddy and Willy doing something like this:
(in their pajamas still--six months later and William still likes to start his morning with a story and Busy Town is still a popular choice)

Cooling off on a hot summer day.

More cuteness with the umbrella.

And Busy Town at the end of the day.

William has yet to outgrow his love for creative ensembles.

I can't actually remember if he loved or hated being up in this tree.

The curls!  Love them.

Gregory Re-Cap

Really, I promise.  This year, I will be better at blogging.  There is no excuse.  I love to write here, and all the people I'm especially posting for love to read here.  And I love having a digital scrapbook of our family.  

But, about that digital scrapbook . . . I just wanted to throw up a few of my favorite Gregory shots from the last six months.  He turned two last Sunday and I can't believe it.  He is such a sweet little guy.  Still not talking and boy can William get him mad.  But, overall, we all love him to pieces.  

Gregory is what we call our "OCD child."  Which isn't all that funny, I guess, since OCD is a real mental illness which I sincerely hope my son won't suffer from.  But he does like things just so and that can be hard in a full house.  He went through quite a phase last summer of assuming this position at the water dispenser until I'd poured out a sip of water for him (he can reach it himself now!  sniff!).

Then he'd toddle with his cup down the hallway, masterfully navigating that annoying lip between the rooms.

Then he'd sit carefully down in the middle of the floor and drink his water.  And then repeat the process all over again.  And again.  And again.  Maybe I'm glad he's tall enough to reach the water dispenser himself.   (Hansi, if you're reading, we nipped that W-sitting in the bud--don't worry!)

Is there anything cuter than a baby with an umbrella?

Taking in the carousel at one of our summer stops.

This is Gregory.  Unless William's got what he wants, he's all smiles.  And quite a ham.

Checking to be sure the deck railing is up to code.

Where is Gregory?  And why is he so quiet?  Unbeknownst to me, William had opened my hot-pink nail polish and painted his own toenails while, ahem, taking care of some other business in the bathroom.  He then wandered off to naptime, leaving the open nail polish on the bathroom floor.  Gregory emptied it all over his legs, the floor, the tub.  Really, everywhere.  And it was my favorite color.

Killing me with cuteness.  I came back to our van during a road trip pit stop to see Gregory just, you know, all casual, checking out the semis barreling down I-90.  Eric had taken a whole slew of these.  He'd look first one way, then the other.  Uncross his legs and recross them the other way.  He still does this sometimes.

One of our most fun days all summer and I'll post more fully about it in a bit.

Sweet little guy.  Here's hoping the twos aren't so terrible!