Thursday, April 18, 2013

A little bit of Nashville in Rosemary Beach

In early March, almost exactly a year to the day that our plane left Nashville for Milwaukee, I had a wonderful reunion with six of my Southern girlfriends -- we all met up in Rosemary Beach, FL for three nights of total relaxation. The weather was too chilly to swim at the beach, but we did walk in the sand and collect shells, hang out in the hot tub, eat at wonderful restaurants, shop and stay up way too late catching up. We also may have had a two-martini lunch. One of the highlights was when several of us debuted our super tacky gag swim suit cover ups (they came from a company named Beach Bodies. Doesn't that say it all?).

I'm so grateful for the deep friendships I made during my time in Nashville and am thrilled that we continue to make each other a priority. I'm also extremely lucky to have a wonderful husband who sends me off for a little rest and relaxation!
The back side of these were a little racy. We died laughing.

The Tooth Fairy Exchange

Over the last several months, Madeline's friends and classmates have been losing their teeth, and Madeline was determined to loose one of hers too. In fact, her friend, Elizabeth, lost one of her two front teeth during the pivotal candle-blowing moment at Madeline's birthday party! And at a recent dental appointment (poor Mads fell hard into a coffee table and scaped up her gums. Ouch!), she was told that it wouldn't be too long before hers start to get wiggly. Her excitement was seriously mounting. She couldn't wait.

So last month, Madeline got straight to work after school making a fake tooth to put under her pillow; she and a couple of girlfriends cooked up the idea. She cut a piece of brown crayon to size and painstakingly painted it white. She was distressed when it wasn't dry in time to put under her pillow at bedtime. I suggested she use a white crayon, and she went into hyper-drive with preparations while I put the boys to bed. She wrapped it up in tape, wrote the Tooth Fairy a note (I loved listening to her sound out the words to herself), and carefully placed it in position.
Madeline writes to the Tooth Fairy. I mean "toth fare." So cute.
I, uh...I mean the Tooth Fairy....wanted to acknowledge her effort and enthusiasm, without starting a nightly tradition; who knows what kind of stuff would start appearing under her pillow without warning. I snuck into her room while she slept and made the exchange Mission-Impossible style.
The Tooth Fairy's reply to the fake tooth attempt...
Well, fast forward a couple of weeks and that little ol' tooth popped out one night after we put her to bed! The permanent tooth is already sprouting right up. Madeline wrote another note, only this time, she asked the Tooth Fairy to please let her keep her tooth (and would she mind throwing in a quarter)! It was a happy ending.

It reads: Dear Tooth Fairy, I want to keep my tooth. I want a quarter. Love you, Madeline.

Sledding with Gramps: A Geneva Weekend

During a four day break from school last month, we visited with Rob's family in Geneva, IL. Within 30 minutes of pulling into their driveway, we were all bundled up and back out the door with Tom, also know as Grandpa around here. Friday is his day off from Sunshine Lighting, the business he and Sandie own, and he planned such a fun afternoon for the kids and me!

We drove a few minutes to the park where he used to take Rob and Nicki sledding when they were kids! It was so fun zipping down the hill on their childhood toboggan; Madeline, Charlie and even John were totally fearless! Mimi found the only mogul and flew over it at least 20 times.

The rest of the weekend was wonderful. We celebrated Madeline and Charlie's February and March birthdays with cake and presents! Charlie has barely gotten off his two wheel bike since (well, expect for a little trip to the Emergency Room), and Madeline is signed up for tennis lessons this summer with her new Serena Williams racquet.

Rob and I also went out for a really fun dinner with our dear friends, the Martens and Pattersons! And on my drive back to Milwaukee, the kids and I spent the afternoon visiting with Buffy and her darling kids in Rockford!

We fit a lot in four days!

Pile Up!
Buffy and I have been friends for almost two decades!

Introducing Evelyn Mae Jackson!

Evelyn Mae Jackson is finally here! We are overjoyed for the proud parents, my sister, Mollie, and brother-in-law, Kenny! Evelyn was born Sunday night, April 14th at 10pm; she was 6 lbs 9 oz and 19 inches long. She is so beautiful. Just breathtaking. And she's thriving -- she had already gained an ounce over her birth weight at her first check up. Mollie and Kenny are absolute naturals, like they've been handling a newborn on no sleep for ages rather than just three days.

Andrea hopped on the first plane to Denver the second we learned Mollie was in labor; between her and Kenny, we have felt so connected to Evelyn, like we're right there with her. We've seen heart-melting videos of Mollie and Kenny comforting her little cries and of sweet little Evelyn sucking her thumb! She came pretty close to being an Annabel; it was so exciting as we all waited to find out what her beautiful name would be. Evelyn, because it's lovely, just like her. And Mae, to honor our mom, Bonnie May.

We're absolutely in love! Rob and I are an aunt and uncle for the first time. And Madeline, Charlie and John have their very first cousin! "What's a cousin?," asks Charlie time and time again. John wants to "see the baby." And Madeline has about a million questions.

I'll fly out to Denver in May -- I can hardly wait to hold Evelyn, smell her, change her, give her bottles and watch her grow during our lifetime. Congratulations, Mollie and Kenny!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Counting Change

I recently sat on the stairs, just out of sight, listening to the cutest thing. The kids had all brought their piggy banks down to the basement with Rob, after wildy running around the house collecting pennies here and quarters there. Madeline ran out to the driveway for a dime she saw earlier in the day.

At last, they dumped all the coins on the floor. Rob patiently taught them the value of each coin. They practiced addition and subtraction, and sorted change into piles. John happily moved the coins from container to container. 

On Rob's last business trip to Peoria, he took all the change to our home bank, which counts it for free. He came home with $110 and change -- the kids were so excited! We brainstormed the different types of fun family activities we could do together; the kids choose to save the money for adventures like horseback riding when we're on vacation this August in a rented cabin on a lake! 

Seersucker Heaven

Not long ago, my friend, Lucy, invited me to go to the Florence Eiseman warehouse sale with her in downtown Milwaukee. Before we moved to Whitefish Bay, I'd never heard of Florence Eiseman, but now I'd recognize her signature children's clothes anywhere! Seersucker, seersucker, seersucker. And if that's not preppy enough, throw in some embroidered tennis racquets and cherry appliqu├ęs. They sell through Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, which explains why I wasn't familiar with the line, since it isn't carried at Target. Baby Gap is pretty fancy to me.

I love this story. Florence learned how to sew clothes for her two sons out of her house right up the street from where we live. When she needed to supplement her family's income, her husband brought a few of her things to Marshall Fields, which were immediately snapped up, and her business was born in the 1950's. Now, twice a year, her company opens their warehouse doors, selling things at dramatically reduced prices (though still a bit of a splurge!) for two days.

When Lucy, our boys and I arrived, the line of moms and strollers was already almost out the door to catch the elevator up to the third floor. We ended up running into half the mothers in Madeline and Charlie's school classes. I took home a darling seersucker piece for each child -- a sundress for Madeline, and embroidered shorts for each of the boys. If they'd had something in my size, I would have bought it in two seconds. Afterwards, we met up with another girlfriend and had lunch at the fabulous Cafe Benelux. What a fun day!

The line formed early....
Charlie and George are great buddies!

Lucy and I have a playgroup together every Wednesday.

Barbie in Paris! Madeline Turns Six.....

The excitement mounted for weeks as we prepared for Madeline's 6th birthday party. "Can we talk about my birthday," she would ask almost every morning over breakfast. She immediately fell in love with a Barbie in Paris theme, and had so many creative ideas, all of which I tried to incorporate into her big day! She's a little party planner.
On the day of the party, Madeline and I wore matching white dresses that we shopped for together. She invited several of her best friends, as well as all the darling little girls in her class. We kicked everything off with a brief French lesson -- picture 12 kindergarten girls reciting "ooh la la," "manifique"(magnificent), "bisou" (kiss), and "je t'aime" (I love you), to name a few.
Every girl should be able to say jewels en francais!
Then everyone took turns having mani/pedis with Ning and my friend, Nikki, whose daughters were both at the party. While the girls waited for their turn to have their nails done, they made necklaces and decorated their very own pair of pink flip flops with flowers and jewels, which they got to take home with their favors.
Then I explained that Barbie always attends fashion shows when she goes to Paris, so each little girl walked the catwalk (a roll of pink wrapping paper on the floor) to find their seat in the dining room; I couldn't believe how Madeline sashayed her way down like Naomi Campbell -- she was fabulous! Taylor Swift, Madeline's favorite musician, was the runway music.
Walking the Parisian runway
We ate chocolate eclairs, croissants, yogurt parfaits and every pink sweet I could find -- marshmallows, cupcakes, cookies galore. The coup d'etat was the Barbie cake that Ning had made for the big party -- it blew the little girls away! Her skirt was made of strawberry cake, covered in pink glittering icing; the coordinating cupcakes had chocolate embellishments designed to look like the Eiffel Tower and letters spelling "Mimi."
Madeline's Barbie cake, ala Ning
Rob, my dad and Charlie stepped out during the party to do boy things, at Madeline's request! Rob and Charlie went bowling and had a date at a local coffee shop. Baby John slept the whole entire party.  
On March 19, Madeline's real birthday, we did all her favorite things, including a fun family dinner at Panera (soup in a bowl; she can't believe something that cool exists!) and of course, eating birthday cake! Rob gave her a bouquet of flowers, which he has done every year since her first birthday! We opened presents afterwards -- she was so excited about her barbie dolls, barbie books, Barbie Mermaid movie (you get the picture)... But the thing she was most excited about was her brand new backpack!
Panera. Life's joys are simple when you're six.

Each year gets sweeter and sweeter. Happy birthday to my sweet six year old, Miss Madeline May! She's a little spitfire -- full of life, silliness, creativity and compassion; kind to her brothers and friends, and an absolute joy to be around. I thank God every night before I sleep that I have the privilege of raising her. We love you, Mimi!

Flip flops and a sparkly bracelet!
Madeline & I built the Eiffel Tower and painted it pink