Thursday, December 31, 2009

At Year's End

Last year at this time, I was sitting by my fireplace cuddling with my five-day old baby boy. As I write this, that same baby toddles around my kitchen, clapping and laughing and getting into everything he possibly can.

This was a fast and busy but happy year for the Giles family.

Going into 2010, my only hope is to keep moving the direction of better -- better person, better wife, better mother, better sister, better daughter, better friend, better writer, better knitter, better baker -- you get the idea.

Onward and upward.

Happy New Year friends. I hope that 2010 is all that you want it to be.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

His First Birthday

We feted little Colin today on the occasion of his first birthday. He is still recovering from pneumonia so he wasn't exactly the exuberant baby boy that he usually is. But we celebrated any way.

He wore his adorable new t-shirt and played with his birthday balloons.

Grandma and Aunt Bethany whipped up a delicious birthday dinner -- complete with a snowflake spice cake for our winter baby.

He even reluctantly wore a party hat.

And played with his new music box.

But he still has pneumonia. So he mostly wanted to cuddle and be held.

Looking forward to a healthier second birthday for our baby.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Guess What Colin got for Christmas?

We are hoping that we have seen the worst of it and that he will be on the mend shortly.
Tomorrow is his first birthday after all.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Can bird seed make this day better?

We had big plans for today.

After rising bright and early (about 6ish), we planned to eat breakfast (Ellie and Brendan are eating waffles AND a bowl of cereal AND fruit smoothies for breakfast these days). I hoped to grab a quick shower (HAH!). And then we were going to get dressed (Ellie in a special Christmas outfit for her performance at school).

By 7:35 or so, we needed to be in the car to drop Ellie off at school by 7:50. Then we were going to quickly spin by the post office to mail our holiday cards. Then back to Ellie's school to watch her Christmas concert from 8:15 until 8:45. Back in the car to head over the Nature Museum where Brendan was supposed to take a class about birds starting at 9:30 a.m.. If we had a few extra minutes, we might even swing by the Green City Market to pick up some fresh produce for our holiday celebration on Saturday.

All that before 11:00 a.m.

Things were moving along smoothly until . . . let's see . . . we had breakfast. And then everything went off the rails. As the clock ticked down to departure time, Brendan informed me that he had packed EVERY SINGLE PAIR OF SHOES he owns in his backpack for an imaginary trip to Dallas. The backpack was of course no where to be found.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

We eventually located the backpack and a suitable pair of shoes. As we peeled out of the garage, I thought I heard a funny sound (although it was hard to tell over Brendan's crying about the fact that I had unpacked his trip bag). And again, that funny sound.

I pulled over and discovered a big, fat flat tire.

So back into the garage. Out of the car. Into the kitchen. Cue the crying due to the fact that the Christmas Concert began in less than a half an hour.

This sad story turns out okay in the end. My heroic brother delivered Ellie to school just a few minutes after the concert got going. After nearly two hours on the phone, my tire got changed. The baby eventually napped.

Brendan did miss his bird class at the Nature Museum. But we made this simple pine cone bird feeder instead. Not a bad substitute, right?

Off to bed now. Kind of a long day around here.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

First Christmas

Is it your first Christmas too? Yippee! I am so excited.
This is going to be so great!

(Colin and his seven month-old cousin Saoirse getting ready for the big day)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Back on the Bark

Last year at this time, I was waiting (not so patiently) for Colin to make his debut. And I was also making obscene amounts of peppermint bark to pass the time.

After making about twenty or so batches, I feel that I can confidently say that I know peppermint bark.

I understand the subtleties that separate a great batch from a total mess. I know that one has to be mindful of thickness, temperature, and that oh-so-potent peppermint extract.

So I am at it again this year (just the peppermint bark, not the birthing).

We've only made three batches so far. But we have big plans. This stuff is good.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Have you donated diapers yet?

I don't mean to be pushy . . . but I was wondering if you've had a chance to pick up a package of diapers to donate to a family that needs them this holiday season?

In this tough economy, many families are struggling to buy basics like diapers. Have a look at this Chicago Tribune story about the increased need at food and diaper banks (but grab a tissue or two first).

Community and social service agencies in many Chicago neighborhoods are holding diaper drives during the holidays. Next time you are stocking up on diapers for your own little ones, I encourage you to put an extra package in your cart.

If you are looking for information on where you can donate diapers, have a look here or here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Man About Town

I know I look handsome. Just look at my sweater.

Whoa. I got it. I got it. I'm fine.

Back on the go.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Wee Windy City (and me) on ChicagoNow Radio Tomorrow

This Saturday morning, I am going to be one of the featured bloggers on ChicagoNow Radio on WGN from 9:00 until 9:30 a.m. So exciting!

I am going to be chatting about how to do the holidays in Chicago -- family style. Listen in for my suggestions on the very best kid-friendly events and activities that you won't want to miss this holiday season.

You remember that your kids are going to be out of school for two whole weeks, right? You are going to need to fill up your calendar with fun things to do. I'll also be talking about great free activities for the whole family with fellow blogger Carrie Kirby (aka Frugalista).

On Saturday morning, you can listen to the show live here. If you have any questions about things to do with kiddies in the city, you can tweet them to @ChicagoNow ahead of time and I will do my best to answer them on air. Of course, if you want to call in to the show on Saturday, that works too. The number is 312-591-7200.

Tune in Saturday morning to hear more!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

December issue of Chicago Parent

The December issue of Chicago Parent is out this week. I wrote three stories in this issue (and had a lot of fun doing it).

First, I have a few ideas for alternative snacks for Santa and his reindeer. It doesn't have to be all about cookies and carrots, you know.

I also have a piece about meaningful and inexpensive sibling gift exchange ideas. Rather than head out to the dollar store to pick up trinkets for your kids to exchange, have a look at these ideas that focus more in sentiment than money spent.

And then on to one of my favorite topics -- cooking together as a family. Families who want to learn how to cook together have lots of good options right here in Chicago.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Let There Be Light

I wrote the cover story for the December issue of Mindful Metropolis. It's called Let There Be Light: Ideas for family winter solstice celebrations.

You probably don't celebrate the winter solstice. But you really should.

This overlooked day (December 21st this year in case you are wondering) is an opportunity to celebrate the many wonderful aspects of the holiday season without all of the commercial distractions.

If you are looking for ideas on how to plan your family's first ever winter solstice celebration, have a look at my article.