Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Honoring Our Firefighters on 9/11

Yesterday, on September 11, I talked to the kids about real life superheros. Police officers, our American soldiers and firefighters.

So we whipped up a batch of Ghirardelli brownies and walked over to the fire station.

When the door opened, Charlie invited himself right on in, loudly (and passionately, as Charlie does everything) explaining that we made the fire fighters cookies. Then, after I gently reminded him by whispering in his ear what we practiced on the walk to the station, he said, "Thank you for being our heros!"

The kids all got to sit in the firetruck and watched an ambulance pull into the garage.  The firefighters couldn't have been more kind, inviting or gracious; we thanked them genuinely for their service. And they invited the kids back anytime, saying that they missed their families while they were at work.
John laughed right after this picture was taken.

Madeline was shy but so excited!!!

Autumn Apple Picking!

We officially kicked off Autumn by apple picking with the Browns at Apple Holler in Sturdevant, WI, the midpoint between Whitefish Bay and Wilmette where they live. I love apple picking. Nine years ago, we even took our bridal party apple picking and gave orchard apples to our 150 guests as wedding favors. I think the only thing I love more than apple picking is watching my three children apple picking. Bliss.

The day was exquisite -- chilly enough to wear sweaters but still warm enough on your skin that we came home with gently sunburned noses. We arrived before the crowds and had run of the place for awhile. We took a hayride through an "enchanted forest," filled our bags with tiny but crisp Gala apples, ate a hearty brunch, petted the goats and set the kids loose in the giant playground area. John was so exhausted he fell asleep five seconds into the ride back home.

The kids all adore each other, and it's such a treat to spend a day with the Browns! We are so blessed to have such wonderful, fun, supportive friends.
Fueling up with apple cider donuts!
Erin is due in three weeks! She looks beautiful!
Asleep before we were back on the highway....

A Wonderful Summer Gone By....

Catching fish (and frogs!) with daddy
We've been having so much fun all summer long with with our Wednesday adventures, July birthdays, and Thursday Jazz in the Parks that I've barely sat at the computer all summer. And truthfully, life has gotten a lot busier since John got up on two feet. With September underway, here are a few other highlights since early June:
  • We took an awesome Stay-cation! Since we still have so much to explore right here where we live, we thought, Why leave? We tried out new restaurants, visited museums, threw a party with the neighbors (sausages and croquet. Awesome), laid a flagstone path from our gate to the front door, and Rob and I went on several dates!
  • A Fourth of July Parade and fireworks! The Whitefish Bay parade marched about 200 feet from our front door. It was a thousand degrees but the candy (Madeline) and the firetrucks (Charlie) won them over. The night before, we watched the City of Milwaukee's spectacular hour-long firework display from the lovely air conditioning in my dad and Ning's high rise apartment. Then Madeline and Charlie had their first ever sleep over. They were so exhausted, they didn't even have the energy to giggle and get into lots of trouble.
  • Swim Lessons: Every Saturday morning, Rob, Madeline and Charlie rode their bikes to the high school's indoor pool for swim lessons. Madeline can actually jump off the diving board and swim to the side of the pool! Rob went in with Charlie for his class while he practiced jumping in, blowing bubbles and dunking his head.
  • Ice Cream Social. Pleasantville confirmed
    Whitefish Bay had an ice cream social! The whole town came out for a sundae in the park across the street for our cute little library. The municpial band played while hundreds of kids ran wild and played in the fountains. I'm pretty sure we've gone back in time; the Cleavers probably live down the street. If a cheerful milkman knocks on the door tomorrow, I won't be surprised.... 
  • Every other Friday all summer long, the preschool Charlie attends hosted a playdate; it's been a wonderful way to help him prepare and for us to meet new fun people.  
  • Playing in fountains! Ice cream to follow
    We've taken breaks from the heat by getting drenched at the fountains at Bayshore Mall, right by our house.
  • Rob got out fly fishing several times this summer. He took the kids a couple of times too and they even accidentally caught frogs on the line!
  • Seeing Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum (my favorite!) at Summerfest with my dad and Ning was amazing!
  • The Olympics! They were fabulous! One of my favorite moments of the whole summer was watching the women's soccer semifinals with Madeline while the boys napped. She couldn't believe Alex Morgan made the winning goal with her head!
  • Codie, my friend from Nashville, was visiting Milwaukee while her husband had meetings at Miller Field. Madeline and I ended up getting to watch a game from the owners box with them!
  • The kids and I visited Rob's office at the FABCO dealership and went out for a special lunch-with-daddy. 
The library is only three blocks away. A rainy day favorite.

Croquet and racquetball tourneys all summer!
Food coloring in the baths. Anything to make cleaning fun!
Potato sack races down the hallway...
The stroller is our car. We walked everywhere this summer.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Charlie's First Day of Preschool!

He was so excited!! Can you tell?
This morning was Charlie's first day of three-year-old preschool! Or maybe I should say it was Spiderman's first day since he was wearing his Spidey costume (with built in muscles), Spidey Big Boy underwear and his brand new Spiderman backpack. He was ready.

And he loved it. I mean he actually used those words! To ease the kids into their first preschool experience, a parent attended for an abbreviated morning and Charlie wanted his daddy to come with him! So Rob sat in circle time, clapping his hands and singing songs with all the other three-year-olds and their moms. He said that Charlie had a blast and even remembered his "please" and "thank yous." Charlie just couldn't believe there was a firetruck, an ambulance and a police car to play with -- "I'm serious, Mom" he told me later over lunch. John and I surprised him by attending the last few minutes of class. I got to see him give one of his teachers a huge hug goodbye when it was time to go.

We started the day with a Charlie's-Going-To-School party -- we thought donuts and hot cocoa would blow his mind, so we were a bit surprised when he choose Greek yogurt and granola at Starbucks, declining his all time favorite drink. But we stuffed a donut in him later after we dropped Madeline off at school and had some time before his day began.

He already can't wait until Thursday to go by himself. How did my little boy get so big? I felt pride with a touch of heartache as I watched him walk all the way down the street with Rob on his way to school. He'll only be gone for two hours twice a week. And I'm not ready to share him a second more... 
Walking to school with Rob!

He was so careful to throw his snack plate away
Donuts for the big boy!
First day of preschool!!!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Treasure Maps with Grammy

Rob happened to have a business trip at the same time Tom was on his annual fishing trip, so we were lucky enough to have Sandie come up and stay with us for a couple of days!

She is so creative and has so much fun with the kids -- it's no wonder they adore her. While they were sleeping, she drew both Madeline and Charlie a treasure map of our first floor. Imagine how excited they were when it led them to a stash of licorice! They still draw maps now too!
Found it!!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Very Special Visits!!

This summer, we had special visits from both my sisters and their husbands -- it's ridiculous how much fun we all have together.

Mollie and Kenny came to Milwaukee in late June -- we loved having fun dinners downtown with my dad and Ning, showing them around our little village, going to the beach and staying up way too late laughing. Rob and Kenny went on a brewery tour, especially fun since Kenny works for Oskar Blues Brewery in Boulder, CO. The kids climbed all over Kenny like he was specifically put on Earth for their personal entertainment.

Then mid August, Andi and Kyle came to visit and we had that much fun all over again! We took a pedicab from my dad and Ning's apartment downtown to a wonderful french restaurant, La Coquette, in Milwaukee's historic 3th ward. Then Andi, Kyle, Rob and I went to Irish Fest at the festival grounds where Summerfest takes place. When it was time for them to leave, Madeline wouldn't let them go; I had to gently pry her skinny little arms loose.

Having Mollie, Kenny, Andi and Kyle travel so far to visit was an absolute, hand-down high point of our summer!

Pedicab to dinner!
The kids adore their aunt and uncles!
John has learned to ham it up for the camera
At my dad and Ning's apartment overlooking Lake Michigan