Monday, March 18, 2013

Our Little Firefighter Turns Four!

We kicked off Charlie's birthday week at Caterpillar's Mining headquarters for a special day with Papa and Ning! He got to drive a simulated mining truck at the interactive mining museum, pick out his lunch in the Cat cafeteria and eat his pizza in the beautiful Founder's Room, a special conference room for important visitors, which included Charlie that day (John kept pointing at the white-haired men in the oil portraits and saying, "Papa!"). Then he blew out candles on his birthday cake and opened presents. We rounded out the visit with a shopping spree in the Cat Store and got to visit Papa and Ning's offices!

Wednesday was Charlie's real birthday. We ordered Macaroni and Cheese pizza -- his two first loves! -- and opened his cards and family gifts after dinner.
Birthday waffles!
Showing his favorite page to his class
On Thursday, Charlie was Special Person at school, and I was lucky enough to go with him as parent volunteer! The day before, he and I baked three dozen egg-less cupcakes to accommodate an allergy in the classroom; the result was a huge flop, but at least we had fun eating the batter! So on our way to school, we picked up doughnut holes at Dunkin Donuts. Charlie filled his Special Person box with his favorite things from home -- his new Caterpillar videos and a few of his new birthday presents from the night before, including a Spiderman action figure. He had the teachers laughing as he described his toys with the incredible enthusiasm that Charlie is known for!

And finally, Saturday arrived -- his firefighter birthday party! His friends Thomas, George, Richard, Conrad and Gavin met at the Northshore Fire station #4 for a station tour. Afterwards all the little boys and their families came back to our house for miniature pizzas (just the right size for a group of four-year-olds), and homemade firetruck birthday cake with Oreo wheels, licorice hoses and red chewy headlights and sirens.

I can hardly believe my sweet, affectionate, imaginative, generous and hilarious little boy has been in our lives for four years already. Or that he has big feet, a mouthful of teeth and thinks toots are funny. I still remember how he was born fist-first, like Superman, and now he loves to play Superheros as many hours as there are in a day. My little boy left for preschool today dressed head to toe in his firefighter gear; he sings Zippidy-doo-da to himself while he colors in his underwear. He's brimming with life and personality; not a day goes by when he doesn't make me belly laugh.

We love you, Charlie!
His family birthday party cake
Blowing out candles at his birthday party!
Climbing on firetruck at Station #4
Every kid sprayed a hose from a small pump
The interactive Mining museum
Driving a simulated mining truck.
Baking cupcakes for his class.
Macaroni 'n Cheese Pizza? Charlie's nirvana!
The special person gets to be the wizard!
Charlie taps each child's foot; then it's time to play!

He came into the world Superman-style!

Friday, March 8, 2013

In Charlie's Words.....

This is what Charlie told his teachers about Rob as they prepared for "Knight's Night," a special evening with the fathers at his preschool:

I call him Daddy. He is tall, and he has brown hair. I don't know how old he is, but he's pretty old. Right now Daddy is driving to my home. He doesn't have work today. Sometimes he goes to Caterpillar, and sometimes he goes to our house. When he makes phone calls, then we can't go in his office and stomp and do anything like that. Daddy likes to eat meat, and chicken, and chicken on the bone, and he likes to drink soda, I guess, and root "beard." I don't like root "beard." Every time daddy lets me feel his scratchy face. There is one show he doesn't like -- Barney. I used to like Barney, but he doesn't have hair and he's too purple for me! I like to play around with Daddy. He always does funny stuff with me -- like throw me up in the air and give me a piggy back ride, and a horse ride, and he tickles me too. I love Daddy because he does fun stuff with me!

What more is there to say?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tea at the Drake!

It was such a lovely day for a baby shower to celebrate my sister, Miss Mollie, who is due with sweet Annabel Mae in late April! Her guests joined us for tea at the Drake in the famous Palm Court to nibble on scones, sweets and finger sandwiches, and sip on tea (and champagne) and listen to live harp music.

Ning, Madeline and I caught the 8am train from Milwaukee to Chicago; a porter was waiting when we arrived and zipped us through Union Station straight to our cab. Fabulous! Kenny's family came up from Peoria, and we were so happy that Rob's mom and sister could join us for the day too. Ning took Madeline for a special outing to the American Girl Doll store while we worked on shower preparations. She was so excited about her new set of pajamas that she asked if she could wear them to the shower. She may be the only guest who's ever attended high tea in her pjs, but she looked adorable!

After the shower, Madeline took the train to Geneva with Sandie and Aunt Nicki for her first every solo slumber party! I stayed in Chicago with Mollie and Andi and had a Sisters Weekend at the Drake -- we walked up and down Michigan, shopped, ate, and laughed until we had tears streaming down our cheeks! The next morning, Sandie, Tom and Nicki returned Madeline to Milwaukee and I took the train back home from Chicago.

Thank you to my dad and Nancy who hosted such an amazing weekend, treating every one of us in so many ways, and to the Vlachs for making Madeline feel so special!
Andi made the cupcakes from scratch.
Guests took egg-shaped soaps home as a favor.
Ready to catch the early train!
Union Station!

Madeline and McKenna in their new outfits
Sandie and Nicki looked beautiful!
Jumping on the bed with Aunt Mollie and Aunt Andi!

Prepping for the big day. Room service rocks.

Mollie looks adorable pregs!
Hello Baby Annabel. We know you're in there!
Primping with Aunt Mollie.
Mimi was so proud to give Mols the gift she chose for Annabel.
Mollie and Kenny's mom, Annette.
We traveled in style, thanks to Ning!
Ning and Annette
Sipping tea like such a lady