Thursday, January 31, 2008


Today is Sam's birthday. He is at such an eager age. He loves to help me with every task - cleaning, cooking. He likes to just be with me. When he wakes up in the morning, he comes padding into the office and climbs onto my lap with an, "I love you, mommy". He likes to play near me, even if I'm not playing with him. I hear him "pshew-ing" his 'guys' as I nurse Mary to sleep. If I'm in the bath with Mary, 9 times out of 10 he will climb in with us. He likes to snuggle right up to me when I read to him at bedtime. He adores his older brother and is incredibly gentle with his baby sister. He's really into drawing lately, and today drew a perfect heart on shrinky dink paper for me. Even with everything going on right now (Mary's heart, my health, Scott's job, his dad dying), these days with Sam (and of course, Charlie and Mary, too) are the happiest of my life.

Scott and I started a birthday tradition many years ago. It stemmed from the fact that our birthdays are only 10 days apart, and we used to go out to eat a lot. Back then, if asked where I wanted to go out for dinner, I would always choose Maggiano's. So, we started this thing where we each had to choose a restaurant to go to for the other person's birthday, but it had to be a place that person hadn't yet gone. It also helped if it was sort of a sacrificial choice - i.e. I would choose a seafood restaurant for Scott, even though I. hate. seafood. Or Scott would take me into Chicago even though he hates driving down there (and one time a valet took his car for a joyride!). The birthday person has to drive in the car with his or her eyes closed. It really is a lot of fun, even when they are flops. We've gone to some really spectacular places as well. We started doing this for Charlie the year he turned 6, and went ahead and surprised Sam this year. Even though our kids are pretty good/adventurous eaters, we've tried to choose places that are more of an experience rather than superb food. Sam was prett happy when we showed up for this tonight -
Technically, Sam has already been to Lucky Strike, but that was in Denver, almost 2 years ago. Despite the blizzard - tonight was a lot of fun.

Oh, Sam, so sweet. My middle child. I hope you are more normal than I. So far, so good. I love you, Bones.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

soup du jour

Tonight I hosted a soup exchange with 6 women. We each brought 6 6-cup containers of our best homemade potage to share with one another. If I had my act together, I would have taken a photo of each bowl when we were sampling (alas, I had a snuggly baby in my arms the whole night!). We also enjoyed homemade bread, delicious salad, and wine, plenty of wine. It really was a very nice evening. And filling. I can't wait to pull some yummy soup out of the freezer on my next too-overwhelming-to-cook day.

There was corn chowder, tomato dill, kielbasa bean, pumpkin mushroom curry, chicken tortilla, African peanut, and old fashioned chicken noodle. Thanks, ladies.

"Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don't catch steak hanging around when you're poor and sick, do you?" Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Away - School

Here is Charlie on his way to The Greenhouse. This is a one day a week program for homeschoolers focusing on History/Literature, Art, Science, and Performing Arts based on the Classical Education model. Truly, we are what I consider "relaxed, eclectic homeschoolers", but The Greenhouse gives us a nice outline from which to work. Aside from the amazing teachers and curricula, Charlie and I both appreciate the social aspect. It is nice for him to have a safe opportunity to develop relationships with adults and children independently of his parents. Charlie really loves The Greenhouse, and we are so blessed to be a part of such a stellar organization. I can't say enough good things about it, or my son.

Monday, January 21, 2008

3 Ring Circus

Charlie with the wizard sticks-

Every challenge (flipping the sticks while tapping his head or while hopping on one foot) I threw at him, he accomplished.

And here is Sam swinging the poi.

Noe gets in on the action.

Sam took the top photograph and Charlie took the bottom two. They are both such cool kids. Mary has no idea what amazing feats await her.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

All Better

I cut Sam's hair. As much as he liked his handiwork, I wanted to clean it up a bit. We had Scott's dad's funeral today. Thank goodness for the distraction that is children.

Bonus picture - complete with tights...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

He Strikes Again

Today Sam asked if he could have a beard and mustache for his birthday. I said sure (his birthday is 3 weeks away), and figured he would forget about his request by that time. As usual, he took matters into his own hands...
He's cute, but I prefer him clean shaven.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Excuse Me

These are some burp clothes I made last night for Mary. I hope she likes them - I know the shoulders of all my shirts will appreciate them.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Guess What's Different About Me

That's what Sam asked me earlier today. The entire conversation went like this...

Sam (whining off stage)

Me (quietly, because I'm nursing the baby): Sam, what's wrong?

Sam (enters room): I have gum in my hair, it's going to hurt.

Me: How did you get gum in your hair?

Sam: Charlie threw it at me.

Me: Go get Charlie.

Sam (quickly): Actually he didn't. I had it in my hand and went like this. (Sam takes his hand from his mouth and swoops it over his head).

Me (trying to suppress a laugh): Okay. Grandma will be here in a few minutes. Just wait, and she will help you get it out.

Sam leaves the room.

A few minutes later he comes back in with a little smile on his face.

Sam: Guess what's different about me.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Year in Review

I read 57 books this year. Not bad. I read aloud 24 chapter books (to Charlie) and countless picture books (to Sam). Charlie loved, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Merlin's Mistake and Stowaway to the Mushroom Planet. Of course, Charlie can read his own books (and he does - he read approximately 20 short novels himself this year), but thanks to Jim Trelease, I realize that children are never too old to listen to their parents read to them, and actually greatly benefit from hearing the spoken word in story form. Some of Sam's favorites included, So Much, Yuck, A Love Story and Baby in a Basket, which is out of print - so if you ever see a copy of this book for less than $10, grab it for me please. If I had to choose one book to recommend it would have to be Night, by Elie Wiesel. When I finished this book, I put it down and had to spend some time seriously contemplating, and praying. I think every person should read this book, at least once. But for a memoir of a less overwhelming sort, try A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Dave Eggers is funny, and if you're like me, you'll appreciate the (tiny) reference to Chicago 'burbs.

And now, because I just want to try and remember the highlights, and am not in the mood for attempting witty:

January -
Daddy and Grandpa got their mojo (I am such a dork!) working with Buddy Guy.
Sam celebrated his birthday on the train with friends, and watching the Bears choke in the Superbowl on the actual day, with family. We should have written a letter to the McCaskey family, asking them for some tickets to make up for the fact that they made a 4 year old cry on his birthday! Fun times.

February -
I don't remember much about February, except, oh yeah, I ovulated, and got pregnant!

March -
INHOME Conference. Memphis. Told the boys about the baby in the Blues City Cafe. What did we do in Memphis, anyway? I really can't remember, its all part of that early pregnancy fog... Oh yes, now I remember. We went through the Pink Palace Museum and caught a great exhibition game with two major league teams. And Spike Lee was there, too!

April -
Easter Vigil at Rez - please come this year if you are in the area. I promise you won't be disappointed.
Charlie turned 8! Fishing party in the rain. Fun times. No really, that actually was fun.

May -
What happened in May? This recap is looking pretty sparse. I know I was a lot busier than these few lines let on. Well, March was the beginning of my part time job - attending doctors appointments. 6-8 a month. Fun times. Not really - actually they were mostly crying times. But well worth it :) And Charlie, Daddy and Grandpa took their annual fishing trip to Arkansas.

June -
Did we do anything in June? I mean, besides go to the pool ad nauseam?

July -
I got my insulin pump! Fun times. No, not really. We did eat at Praga (try their mushroom soup or crabcakes) to celebrate, though. Mama had the 50th anniversary LLL Conference. And we went to Wisconsin Dells. The boys had a great time. My little water babies. Not really babies anymore, I guess.

August -
Happy Birthday, dear Sco-ott. And me-ee. Last year for Scott in the 30's! Me, on the other hand, have lots of time left here...
Bristol Skin, erm, I mean, Renaissance Faire.
Camping at Sleeping Bear Dunes. In a tent. 7 months pregnant. I'm a trooper, if I do say so myself. However, I did not climb the dunes. Oh wait, I don't do that even when I'm not pregnant.

September -
Cooperstown, NY. The Baseball hall of Fame. Stopped and saw an Indians game on the way there. Drove home from NY in one day. My kids are troopers, too, apparently. Seriously, though. They are excellent drivers. And not in a Rain Man sort of way. I mean, the only complaining that happens on road trips is from me.

October -
In a holding pattern, waiting for Baby to come.
Apple Picking, with chickens! And strangely, no apples...
Some really wonderful friends had a Blessing Way for me. It did not involve a seance. Just delicious diabetic friendly food, relaxing massage and pedicures, thoughtful gifts, including 2 handmade, one -of-a-kind books for the baby-to-be, and amazing company. This year I didn't have to make a breakdancer (read: Disco Village Person) costume for Halloween. Just an easy exterminator's uniform. And Sam was a chicken (bought).

November -
Welcome to the family, Mary! Enjoy the ride...
This is also the month when our family was showered with incredible amounts of love, service and gifts from family and friends. The many prayers said for us really lifted us up during an extremely joyful, yet overwhelmingly anxious time.

December -
After 13 years of loyal service, Daddy was let go from the-company-which-shall-not-be-named. The Carolinas. To see Grandma and Grandpa Reczek. And Gabe. And The Brady's. Lot's of fun had by the boys, while Mary and I snuggled together at home. We stretched out a bit, too. Christmas was spent with mama's extended family at Grandma's house and we rang in the New Year quietly at home while watching Clash of the Titans.

Now. Picture the above, times 10, with a lot more noise, way more mess, some kids squabbling and/or laughing, much playtime-outside and in, some trips to the zoo and various museums, time spent at G and E, and The Greenhouse, and playdates with friends. Some knitting and some chess. A bunch of bruises, several bloody noses, and a trip to urgent care for a painfully infected finger with streaking up an arm. Days of basketball, baseball and soccer, with a bit of bowling, roller and ice skating thrown in for good measure. And sledding. Lots of sledding. Volunteering with LLL and P.A.D.S. Two more trips to Memphis (just the boys), I can't remember what month, although, I do know they were back to back weekend trips! Oh, yes, and a smidge of "academics". That about sums it up.

Here's to 2008!