Monday, March 23, 2009

More Pics of Girls' Weekend...

On the 8th day, God created ....

girls' weekends. I'm sure of it.

I just returned from a great example of what girls need to rest and rejuvenate. My husband arranged for me to spend some time in Milwaukee with some girls I used to work with when we lived there. It has been almost nine years since I moved away, but I wasn't worried. With this group, we have an uncanny ability to pick up right where we left off. I consider it an indication of true friendship. Well, that ... and the fact that they relish a good fish fry and cocktail as much as I do. It is Wisconsin after all.

It was a wonderful 48 hours ... packed with fish fry at Trocadero, a relaxing stroll around Cedarburg (one of my favorite little towns on the north shore), an open house at Cedar Creek Winery, shopping at Bayshore mall, and fantastic food all along the way. Not to mention cosmopolitans and pomegranate martinis....

Did I mention the hotel room? Adjoining rooms with FOUR full sized -sleep number beds. With no husbands, no kids, and no pets taking up space or covers. Wowee! That ALONE would have been nirvana for this mama. But it got better! Add in a pool, hot-tub, and a fridge stocked full of wine, crackers, CHEESE (you just knew that was coming didn't you?) and uninterrupted girl talk. Ahhhhh.... heaven.

We topped it off with brunch at Lake Park Bistro. Despite living in that area for eight years, it was my first time there. After eating all weekend, I wasn't sure I would fully appreciate the food or experience so I suggested we skip it. The girls wouldn't hear of it. I'm so glad they insisted. The bistro overlooks Lake Michigan and that body of water on a sunny day still takes my breath away. The cuisine is French, the waitstaff is wonderful, and the flavors are divine. So are the mimosas. If you're ever in town ... I highly recommend it.

It was hard to leave. Really hard. Milwaukee is a great place to live. Even greater place to visit. So much to see and do ... especially without the kids. But I missed the kids ... and the great guy who sent me to see my friends. And stayed home with all four. On our anniversary. So, after flipping a coin, I came home.

The good news? I didn't get to see it all. And since it only takes 3 hours and 45 minutes to get there from here (if you don't stop and Chicago traffic is light), I'll probably get to go back again.

Monte, thank you. Love you. Lori, Amy, Ann, and Cathy - thank you. Love you too. Let's not make it so long until next time.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Happy 8th Birthday Emma!

When Emma gets off the bus after school today, she will be 8 years old. Or, as she told me last night, halfway to sweet sixteen. Gulp.

There are definitive signs she is growing up. Today, I told her I would bring her a special birthday lunch .. and not subject her to the "ultimate pizza snack" offered via the school cafetorium. She's apparently outgrown Happy Meals ... opting for a ham and cheese from Subway. For dinner? Vegetable lo mein please. I'm just glad she hasn't discovered sushi.

She chose to host a sleepover for four of her friends instead of pushing tokens into obnoxious video games at a pizza toting restaurant with a large mouse on it. She's "so over" Chuck E Cheese.

We also did the gift shopping a little differently this year. She made a list of items she wanted for her birthday - along with how much they cost. Then we talked about the birthday budget. Given that budget, it was her responsibility to come up with what she wanted and could afford. It completely did away with the whining, gave her complete control over what gift she chose, and made her appear very grown up, especially when she asked if she could use the money to attend some art classes. Uhh...sure. But don't you want to go buy candy?

All this growing up is a little hard to take. That's why I was soooo glad when the sleepover girls selected BOLT as the movie to see at the theatre. There's just something special about a bunch of giggling girls and an animated movie that makes things slow down just a bit. Even if it only lasts 90 minutes.

Happy Birthday Emma. No rush to 9 right?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!!!

Other than turning another year older, yesterday was a pretty great day. I woke up and made a conscious decision NOT to focus on inching closer to the big 4-0. Instead, I remembered something a former patient once told me about how he celebrated every birthday - up into the 80's (he never did tell me how old he actually was). His advice? "Every year on your birthday, TAKE STOCK. Think GENERALLY about all the things you've accomplished in your lifetime ... then think SPECIFICALLY about the things you've done just in the past 365 days."

So, I took stock. When I actually took the time to think about the new experiences, great friends, and new baby that have come into my life this year, I was so humbled and grateful God blessed me with these past 12 months.

I got to see four of the cutest little kiddos on my caseload. I listened as my kindergarten boy read me five books all by himself. I ran five miles on the treadmill (a new personal best). I relished in my homemade cards from my kids (and one from Claire's BFF as well). I started on a list of songs I want on my new Ipod shuffle. And ... I started on my application to volunteer for Operation Smile. It's been something I have ALWAYS wanted to do. It was so inspiring to look through the stories and list of countries - knowing that someday, I could actually DO THIS. I've got some work to do to be a certified volunteer. But... I've taken the first step. Stay tuned.
Thank you to all of you who have called, emailed, or sent cards. It's nice to be remembered. I'm blessed to have you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How Cool Is Covington???

I love my kids' elementary school. Seriously. Love it.

It currently has 734 enrolled children ages 5th grade down to kindergarten. That's roughly equivalent to half of my hometown. It was very daunting when we first moved here.

It doesn't feel quite that large anymore. Because of reasons like this.

Yesterday, I was in the office writing ANOTHER check for lunch money. I get to do that every time a brightly colored, typewritten piece of paper labelled "cafetorium" shows up in either backpack.

The art teacher (who is SUPER) recognized me and mentioned she was surprised Emma was only signed up for one "enrichment" class. Enrichment classes are fantastic short-courses in just about everything the kids have the option of attending after school. Everything from fun foods to fly fishing to foreign language to bunco. No kidding.

I told her Emma simply couldn't narrow it down to below six (which would have cost about $200.00) so I had simply chosen ONE for her. But how nice of her to notice.

She volunteered that only one other second grader was signed up for "Italian Street Painting." Ironically, that little person is a good friend of Emma's. Wouldn't it be cool if they did it together? Indeed.

I mentioned it to Emma. She's all signed up. And elated. About learning how to "paint Italian street murals." Per the syllabus.

I think I just shelled out $10.00 for Emma and her friend to sidewalk chalk while being supervised by the art teacher.

The things we do for love. And super-cool elementary schools. And art teachers who remember both you AND your kid.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cooper's New Trick

Our littlest guy is now eating puffs! Not only that, but he's feeding himself! Not always accurately (see above photo where the puff is on the sleeve) but .... he's doing it.

I'm not sure how I feel about this latest development. Of course, it's a GREAT distraction that will allow him to separate from mommy for longer periods (I envision myself doing dishes or going to the Y in the future) but it does mean he's growing up. Quickly. Even more quickly because I'm busy with the other three and can't just sit and hold him all day. Absorbing and archiving every milestone. I wish I could.

Today, I'm just snapping pictures and handing out puffs. The laundry, dishes, and dog grooming appointment be damned. I can't miss this.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

My Own Cat in the Hat ...

Grayson's Kindergarten class celebrated Dr. Seuss' birthday this week. He actually asked me to put this picture on the blog - note the "cat-like" pose. =)

I thought maybe this would entice him to read Hop on Pop to me at bedtime. No dice.

It did, however, lead to a great discussion with Emma on pen names. I revealed to her my own secret wish to write under the pen name Lucy Brewer. Don't ask me why - I was all of about ten when I came up with it. She found that fascinating so now she's coming up with one of her own ... and putting quite a bit of thought behind it. So much so, that we are still narrowing it down. I'll have to let you know.