Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Matroyshka Dolls

The Matryoshka dolls have arrived . . . all the way from Vancouver.

Lidiya on the left and Polina on the right.

Lovingly handmade by Ella Pederson. Beautiful work by a talented artisan.

I am saving one for Ellie for Christmas and giving the other to the daughter of a cherished friend. So hard to choose . . .

I love the idea of a little girl having a special doll that was made for her. Something all her own.

Monday, September 24, 2007

A Love Letter to the Chicago Park District

As I sat in our Chicago Park District Moms, Pops, and Tots class today with Brendan on my lap, I thought to myself, "I totally take this for granted." Here I am, having the luxury of spending one-on-one time with little Brendan, in a child-friendly environment with lots of other lovely mom and tot duos. And it is all at basically no cost to me. I've never really thought about how lucky I am to be able to access purposeful, affordable programming for my children.

On the few days each year when registration comes around, my heart pounds as I compete with all of the other crazy Chicago moms who sit poised at their computers in an effort to snatch up the limited class space as soon as online registration opens. I am almost always successful in securing whatever program I want. I pay the paltry fee and barely give it another thought.

So here, a moment to say thank you for all that you have done for me, for almost nothing in exchange (maybe twenty or thirty dollars here and there). Thank you Chicago Park District for all of the low-cost, diverse programming you have provided for my children over the past three years. Sure, it hasn't all been great (i.e. Coach Nick and his almost comically disorganized and unenthusiastic approach to teaching three-year-olds how to play tee-ball). But most of it has been pretty decent. From summer camps, to tiny tot ballet, to mommy and me swimming.

And some of the programming has been fantastic . . . for me and the kids. We have made lots of friends through our Park District activities. On cold, winter days when it feels like you have been in your house playing with blocks for weeks on end, it feels like a real treat to head out to a Moms, Pops, and Tots class where your kid can play happily and you can chat with other moms who can't get their kids to nap either.

So the fall session gets going this week. A little Moms, Pops, and Tots and Tiny Tot Swimming for Brendan and some Pre-School Playtime for Ellie. Thank you for the good times.


An Appreciative Mom

Friday, September 21, 2007

Nikki in the Garden

We all loved our excursion to the Garfield Park Conservatory to see the Niki in the Garden exhibit.

Navigating through the conservatory (B was delighted to be free from his stroller and keeping up with big sister).

Brendan was totally enamoured with the Nana sculptures.

Playtime in the Children's Garden.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Our First Harvest

We have an apple tree in our new backyard. We love it . . . and we have no idea what to do with it. Currently, every squirrel and bird in Wicker Park is having breakfast, lunch, and dinner munching apples in our tree (at least twenty birds at all times). And the half-pecked, rotting apples fall to the ground at a rate of about thirty a day, only to then become totally ant-infested. This becomes quite a mess if not promptly tended to.

On Saturday, we had a "harvest." Well, as much of a harvest as we could manage with a ten foot ladder, two disinterested kids, and no proper apple picking apparatus. I have to look into getting some advice on proper backyard orcharding.

On to the upside of the apple tree. . . I made a delicious apple crisp for dessert on Sunday night from our apples. Pretty amazing to have "our apples." I am going to obtain a better picking tool so we can do some additional harvesting.

And the birds that the apple tree attracts to our yard are amazing. Ellie is out there with her Illinois Field Guide to Birds checking them out. Our favorite is our female downy woodpecker (see picture). Ellie is desperate for a Scarlet Tanager because it is red . . . her favorite color.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Loving Soccer

On the go.

Quite the gifted cheerleader.

Sigh. Am I ever going to be able to get out of my buggy and actually do something?

Friday, September 14, 2007

Busy Boys

Beautiful boys on a beautiful September morning.

Boys hard at work in the dirt.

Boys smooshing their entire faces into their
lunches and laughing uproariously.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Is It Time?

I awoke on Wednesday morning to Ellie standing next to my bed asking, "Is it finally time now?" "It's time," I said.

Brush teeth. Wash face. Put on brand new outfit. Sort of make the bed. Entirely too excited to eat a proper breakfast.

We hopped into the car and, because I wasn't quite sure how long the trip to school would take us, we arrived with ten minutes to spare.

Ten long minutes of waiting for the teachers to come out and retreive the students. "Is it time, Mama?" "Do you see any teachers, Mama?" "When will it be time?"

When a teacher did appear, Ellie jumped out of the car, took her hand, informed this woman that she had a new lunchbag, said quick goodbyes to Brendan and I, and she was off.

I waited to minute to watch her walk away towards the school and I started to cry because I was overwhelmed by love for the little person that she is. My big girl.

Monday, September 3, 2007

First Day of School

Wednesday is Ellie's first day of school ever. So exciting.

She is headed off to a Montessori preschool. Three full days a week (complete with lunch and short nap time). I know she will adore the whole experience. I am confident that she is prepared to make this transition. In fact, she declared that there is no need for me to drive her to school. She plans to take the school bus because that is how kids on television go to school.

I have spent lots of time thinking about how to give her her first back-to-school sendoff. What follows is a rough sketch of how I envision this going down . . .

We are going to get up nice and early so we aren't rushing. Instead of our usual lazy morning of pancakes and bacon followed by some playtime in our pjs, we are going to eat something expeditious (frozen waffles, blueberries and some oj?) and head upstairs in a timely fashion to put on our carefully chosen first day of school clothes. Once she is looking like the cutest little preschooler in the world, I plan to take an absurd amount of pictures to properly commemorate the moment.

Time to head out the door. Backpack? Check. New school shoes (complete with rhinestones and flower embroidery . . . Ellie's pick)? Check. Lunch bag filled with yummy lunch and a little note from Mom? Check. Little brother Brendan still in his pajamas because we haven't had time to get him dressed too? Check.

God willing, we will be in the car and buckled with ample time to make the fifteen minute drive in Chicago morning rush hour traffic so we won't be that family that is late on the first day of school.

A well-made plan. Update of actual course of events to follow.

Side note: I drew the above picture on my first day of kindergarten and it was chosen for the school calendar. A proud moment for a five year old. I was tickled to come upon it recently and concluded that my decision to keep every piece of artwork Ellie and Brendan have ever created is in fact a sensible thing to do.