Friday, September 27, 2013

Our Magical Ten Year Anniversary

Rob and I had the most romantic ten year anniversary at the end of September! Our dear friends, Lucy and George, sent us to their magical hideout in the woods on Washington Island, a short ferry ride north of Door County. Their charming place sits on Lake Michigan's rocky shore and peeks out from the pine trees -- the scenery was breathtaking. I couldn't stop inhaling that incredible evergreen scent that brings me right back to the Minnesota North Woods.

The greatest gift was the quiet. Just lovely, beautiful, rare, peaceful silence. We read for hours by the fire, slept in past 6am, visited the island coffee shop and talked to locals, flew a kite, searched for fossils, rocked in the hammock and explored every corner of the island,  including Schoolhouse Beach, which is one of the only smooth limestone beaches in the world. It was such a wonderful time to reflect on the past ten years and all our blessings. We laughed a whole lot. I love my guy.

I gave Rob a themed gift, "Ten things I want to do with you in the next ten (times ten) years." Each item had a coordinating gift. The list went:
  1. Fly fish (an Orvis book on family fly fishing)
  2. Fly a kite (a kite, which we promptly launched on the beach!)
  3. Ride in a hot air balloon (lanterns that we'll release with the kids this summer)
  4. Eat dinner at Roseangelis (where Rob took me in Chicago's Lincoln Park the night he proposed) (spaghetti sauce)
  5. Take our children to an Illini football game (an Illini Tervis)
  6. Visit New Orleans and San Francisco (a creole cookbook)
  7. Be healthy. Run ten 10k's. Live well and long (a Jawbone bracelet)
  8. Do the Fox Trot at our children's weddings (a framed newlywed picture of our first dance)
  9. Host a Vlach Tie party for a special occasion (a Brooks Brother's tuxedo bow tie)
  10. Travel to Paris avec nos enfants (French CDs)
And Rob gave me a dazzling diamond solitaire necklace, which I haven't taken off once since he put it on me. It represents so much more than I can put into words.

Sandie was such a rock star to watch the kids while we were gone....they had a blast! Before we left, we had a family anniversary party! The kids decorated a cake (wow, did they ever!), we read them our vows (they were bored to tears) and listened to Ella Fitzgerald's "Our Love is Here to Stay" during dinner.

Ten years sure did fly by! Chicago, Peoria, Nashville, Milwaukee. Madeline, Charlie and John. And we're still going strong!!!

John helped make the party cake!
We read our vows to the kids! (They were bored to tears)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Stuff They Say!

Living with these three kids at ages 6, 4 and 2 is hilarious every single day. Here are a few of the funny things they've been saying lately:
  • Madeline and I were getting ready for bed, saying our prayers and quietly talking about our day. She kind of poked at my bottom and said earnestly, "Mommy, I wish my bum was big and soft like yours."
  • Charlie yelled as loudly as he could out the car window to his buddy, who was running on the nearby sidewalk, "Thomas, you want a graham crapper?"
  • John kept asking me to "open his popsicle" as he dragged a bag of frozen halibut around the house that he had pulled out of the freezer.
  • The kids went to vacation bible school this summer. It still cracks me up listening to Charlie sing a rendition of his favorite song with his four-year-old pronunciations: "You must yuve. Da Yord. Our God..." (You must love, the Lord, our God....)
  • John kept saying something repeatedly to Rob and me. We couldn't figure out what it was (and never did). He simply kept saying, "#ucker," and looking at us expectantly, waiting for some coarse of action we didn't understand. We were speechless.
  • During our garage sale, entrepreneurial Madeline made a sign that said, "Free book marks. 25 cents." (Actually, the 2 was backwards and "cents" was "sens," but you get the idea).
  • Charlie came upstairs from the playroom wearing his ninja costume. He had tied an oatmeal container around his waist -- one end of a wooden spoon was in the container and the other end was in his mouth -- and he asked for yarn to use as "jailers." Come to find out he was scuba diving with a tank and a mouthpiece, and he needed to handcuff a bad guy. Obviously.
  • We had a family day at the Brewers game. John pointed out "dog poo-poo" (a reality in our front yard with Maple) as we walked through the grass near the parking lot at Miller Park. Of course, it was actually a bratwurst left over from a tailgate, but Madeline and Charlie thought it was the funniest thing that has ever happened in the history of the world.
  • Madeline filled the palm of her hand with black pepper, then asked me (very seriously) if she could sniff it up her nose. Ummm.....
  • John kept asking where his hoo-hoo was. It took me hours to figure out that he was looking for the hula-hoop that Sandie gave each of the kids.
  • Charlie was in the sandbox playing dump trucks with John. He excitedly told me, "I'm the big dumper and John's the little dumper." If only he knew....
  • I started a tv show for the kids. John ran out of the room to round up Madeline and Charlie, yelling, "It's gonna start, cuties!"(Or cooties, as he pronounced it).
  • As we were ready to walk out of the house to go somewhere and I was doing a last minute diaper-change on John, he gazed up at me and said, "Your hair looks cute." 
  • Charlie thinks it's hilarious to fart under the covers when I'm reading him a story -- a good old fashioned dutch oven. It smells like something died. How did this happen? How? How??
  • John's new thing is that he says, "Oh Deard!" when he's frustrated. It's obviously a combination of words he's heard...

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Another School Year Begins!

We're off to the races! Our days are non stop with both Madeline and Charlie at Richards Elementary -- three round trips to the school every day! Each morning, while the big kids are in school, John and I have a little one-on-one time to read, play blocks and be silly.

Just like last year, Papa and Ning brought doughnuts (and Rob hung back from the office) to celebrate the first day back to school. We had a parade, falling in line with the rest of town as everyone pushed their strollers, greeted the crossing guards after a long summer, and made their way to their respective lines in front of the school.

Madeline's in first grade and has the fabulous Mrs. Yeager. On the first day of school, she and I wore matching outfits. She's reading, bringing home math homework three times a week, and actually making presentations to her class using the Smartboard -- it's called Popcorn and Publishing, and each child picks their favorite original essay out of their composition book. She asked me to pack her hot soup in a Barbie thermos for her lunches, which I do every morning, and she's planning a Doughnut Club during recess with her little girlfriends. We're in the habit of sitting at the kitchen table when we get home from school (I pop a fizzy water for her, which makes her feel so grown up!), and she works on her homework while I start dinner. At night when I put her to bed, she'll open up about her day and chatter excitedly about what she's learning. She absolutely loves school.

Charlie's in junior kindergarten, or K4 as they call it here. He has Mrs. Kubicki and a fun-loving teacher's aid, Mrs. O'Neill. Charlie adjusted beautifully to the big elementary school -- a big change from the darling two-days-a-week church preschool he attended last year. I think he adjusted better than I did. All the rules and structure just seem over-the-top for a group of four year olds, but after the third week, it was smooth sailing. On the last day of his first week, the exiting 5th graders created a bridge with their arms for the incoming junior kindergarteners to walk under; the principal came out to officially welcome the new class. I drop Charlie off at 8:05, like Madeline (though I usually arrive early so I can watch him play on the playground), and pick him back up at 10:40am. Every single morning, without fail, we waits patiently in line to give his teacher a high five and then sprints, arms outstretched with a HUGE grin, to me where I pick him up and give him a bear hug. I love hearing about his day while we eat lunch together at the kitchen table. He and I have special time while John naps, and then we pick up Madeline at 3:05pm.

Charlie's bridge ceremony
When the kids got home from their first day of school, we celebrated with one of their favorite special treats...dangling doughnuts!
John says, "Wait for me!"