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Friday, December 31, 2010

Classic 2010

This little benign video pretty much summerizes the past year for me.  Enjoying the sweet babyness of Charlotte, her smiles and coo's and sunny personality, and just trying to keep up with Sam as he gets more active and into things.  Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

And Yet

I have been berating myself the past few days.

For dropping the ball on some things, mainly gift related.
For putting too much on my plate.
Foregoing parenting for baking/shopping/errands/wrapping/cleaning/making lists of what to bring/etc.
For allowing myself to succumb to the stress I'm feeling, reacting with crabbiness and a lack of patience, especially to Sam.
Resenting Scott at times, because it doesn't seem fair that he just gets to "show up" to the holidays.  (And yet knowing he works hard all day, and that I don't want or expect him to take on buying and wrapping gifts for everyone.)  I'm irrational about it.
Not enjoying enough moments in the last month with my children, day to day.  I lost track today of how many times Sam asked me today to, "come play with me, Mom."  I told him I would, "in a second, Buddy.  I have to finish making the potatoes for tomorrow."  And then, "after I clean up."  And then I forgot.

And yet, and yet there have been great moments since the beginning of the month too.  A thoughtful Vesper's service at Moody on the 19th, focusing on our unfAithfulness towards God, our intense need for Him, our rejection of Him.  And yet, He came.

Moments spent in the city, eating yummy food, watching my children's faces light up, creating new memories and traditions all our own.

A two hour conversation by the fire one afternoon with Rebekah recently, in town for a few days.  A precious time that kickstarted my journey back towards a more grounded Christmas.

Anticipating the time spent with family tomorrow and Saturday, family that we don't get to see nearly often enough.  Pouring into those relationships and friendships and hoping it will be enough to tide us over until the next time.

Lighting the advent wreath at home each night at dinner, hearing Sam explain in his piping voice, with a little lisp, what each candle is for.

I need accountability.  Next fall, I am going to try and write out what our true priorities are from November-December, so they don't get buried in the onslaught of my thoughtlessly added "responsibilities" and urgency to have things just like they always were.  Things change.  Children come.  People change.  Needs change.  None of this is even ABOUT what we eat (it kills something inside me to admit that), what we give each other, how we decorate or how clean our house is.

God becoming man,
Infinity bound,
Humbling Himself,
for me.

I read something this week that stopped me in my tracks, it took me off the hamster wheel and forced me to take a deep breath and examine myself.  An email from a woman who recently lost her husband, now a single mother to two small boys, as she processed her upcoming first Christmas alone, without him.

"I hope in this season Christ is wooing you.  That you hear a soft, calming voice amidst the chaos.  That you are able to breathe in the life He offers, and let all of the other stuff fade into the background of the beautiful lights.  That you can believe God's plan is good....To me, that makes all the other stuff tolerable.  It allows me to truly have joy this Christmas, and to still feel the wonder of a child."

Kicking off Christmas-Our First Family Vacation

Last weekend the four of us spent the night at the fabulous Trump Hotel downtown Chicago.  A few months ago I was filled with the desire to carve out a little time for our immediate family to be alone, just us, and see alittle of the city at the same time.  The internet was helpful in finding a dirt cheap rate on one night, and we figured out ahead of time where we wanted to park, and eat (always of utmost importance to me).

Timing things around the kid's naps was tricky, but the memories and time away were so worth the effort it took to pack and get there.  We left our house in the late morning and stopped first at the Macy's (it physically hurts me to say the store's name, I am still bitter about the Marshall Field's sell out) on State to shop for an ornament to help represent 2010.  No luck, even after scouring seven floors.  We did get to visit the three story Christmas tree in the Walnut Room, where I reminisced about eating pancakes with my cousins year after year until we got too old to want to crawl out of bed at 5 am to be the first ones in line for breakfast on a cold Saturday morning.
 Next was lunch at Rick Bayless's Frontera Fresco, also on the Seventh Floor of Macy's.  We got there right before the lunch rush, and only had to wait in line 10 minutes.  You pay at the cash register and stand there with your tray, watching the line cooks prepare your food.  The prices are unbeatable, $7 for two pulled pork tacos with pickled onion, fresh house made cheese and avocado, $4 for chips and fresh guac, a whole line of freshly squeezed sparkling juices (raspberry prickly pear, mango lime) and a mind boggling $3.50 for a VAT sized bowl of tortilla soup, $2 extra for chicken in it.  My favorite thing however was the corn and chevre tamale.  So so good.  I think all four of us ate to the gut-busting level for $32.  Not bad for Frontera Grill food.
 After lunch it was nearing Charlotte's naptime, so we drove a few blocks north and checked into our hotel room.  I was stunned to see the size of our room, truly one of the biggest I've ever seen in the city.  It even had it's own kitchenette, complete with silverware, cups, fridge and dishwasher.  Over the top.

We called down to request a pack and play, and within 5 minutes there was a knock on the door.  The guy brought up a beautiful wooden crib, filled with a mini terry cloth bathrobe, mini slippers, rubber ducks and bath toys, baby toiletries AND a diaper genie.  Seriously.  This hotel is so kid friendly, I'd almost leave my children there.
Charlotte fed and rolled around in her crib for an hour while I played in the gorgeous bathroom.  Scott took Sam down to the 14th floor to explore the pool and the $15,000 Kohler Shower in the lockeroom.  Not even kidding, it had somewhere around 10 spigots, changing colored lights and music.  It kept Sam busy for 45 minutes, chasing balls around in there and playing with the bath products.  They came upstairs and he fell sound asleep for an hour.
  Dinner was next.  Call us crazy, but we brought the kids to Ovengrinder's, notorious for no reservations, multiple hour waits, zero room for strollers and cash only.  But the food!!  The food!  We went early, around 4:45, and had no wait.  Scott found street parking, Charlotte's car seat propped up in the booth and Sam was happy to cozy up next to me in the corner, playing with my phone.  He ate the black olives off the salad, that was it.  Charlotte ate everything.  I think she liked it, judging by her smile, don't you think?

 After dinner, originally we were going to walk over to Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park Zoo.  However, the 10 degree temps and tired kids led us to decide otherwise.  We drove by it, sighed at how cool it looked and pulled up in front of Fox and Obel where I ran in to buy cookies, chocolate Oberweis milk bottles and gummy bears for our movie.  Santa had delivered a wrapped copy of Toy Story 3 to our hotel room for Sam, it was all he wanted to do/see after he opened it.  "Sam, do you want to go swimming?"  "No, can I watch Toy Story 3?"  "Sam, let's go to the zoo and see the animals!"  "Can we go back to our sleepover room and watch Toy Story 3?"  Remind me next time to not let him open something until right before he can enjoy it.  Stupid.

We got back to the hotel around 6:30 pm, ready to get cozy, and found these trays of hand crafted treats for the kids.  Are you kidding me?  Is that Sam's name scripted in chocolate??  Who are these people?  It was the cutest thing ever, I think I took more pictures of these bedtime treats then I did of our family.  So impressive and fun.

Tub time next, and after putting Charlotte down in her crib, where she peered at us through the slats for 90 minutes, we all cuddled up into one of the queen sized, incredibly cozy, covered-in-inches-of-down beds, surrounded ourselves with gummy's and cookies, and watched the movie.  Looking around at my little family, at Sam's rosy hot cheeks and the look of utter contentment on Scott's face, I felt happier then I think I've ever felt, aside from my wedding day and the births of our two children.  Such joy, to have it be just us, something we've never experienced before.  Lights out at 9:15pm and all's well.

Until 1:15 am when I awoke with a start and couldn't for the life of me fall back asleep.  Why is that?  Is it because you're in an unfamiliar place?  My children were sound asleep, the bed was comfy, I had no good reason.  Oh well, I laid there until 6 am when I couldn't take it anymore and whispered to Scott that it was my turn to enjoy the $15,000 Kohler Shower.  

60 minutes of pure joy, I think that was the most pampered I've ever felt in my life.  Aloe face mask on in the steam room?  Check.  Wash it off in the shower?  Check.  Hang out in the sauna?  Check.  Lovely exfoliating body scrub in the shower?  Check.  Little wooden bowl of extravagant body butter to smear on last?  Check.  And it was all "free!"  Well, included in the cost of the room at least.  People, you need to go to this hotel, Orbitz, Priceline, however you do it, GO THERE.

Kids were up when I got back so we dressed and headed out to breakfast at our favorite spot again, Fox and Obel.  We always make a point to stroll by their famous meat section, one of the few places in town that the retail person can buy prime, dry aged beef.  The butcher had a sense of humor today, someone took the time to sculpt a pig's head out of their house made sausage.  Ha. ha.  French toast, caramel lattes, double baked almond croissants and whoops, my pants suddenly felt tight and it was only 8:45 a.m.

Sam and I headed out into the cold, quiet city that Saturday morning, looking for something to do while Charlotte took her morning nap in the room, Scott reading the Wall Street Journal beside her.  Not much is open before 9 am in the Loop on a Saturday.  Borders was open though, and after a six block freezing walk where my 36 lb. toddler made me carry him most of the way (helping to burn off a croissant, hopefully), we holed up on the 2nd floor in the Children's section, reading books, playing with toys, and chasing each other through the empty store.

We waved at the Channel 7 News anchormen and women on the way back, one of the cameramen turned around and pointed to the ground where Sam had lost his mitten.  Maybe that's why my poor kid was so cold.  Oh well, he survived.

We packed it up, said goodbye to all the doormen who called to us by name and begged Sam for high fives, chose an ugly, bright green glass ornament with Donald Trump's name all over it to remember the trip by and headed home.

I told Charlotte not to get used to the high life, but she didn't listen to me.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Tea Party

Another 5:45 am wake up call a few weeks ago.

 "Mom, I made you a tea party!"

I groggily head up to our third floor playroom and come across this spread.

"Sit down Mom, have some tea!"
Yawn.  I rub my eyes. "What kind should I have, Buddy?"

"Chocolate Mawrshmallow."

Chocolate marshmallow it is, Sam.

What can I say, he's a renaissance man.
Someday he'll be the complete package for a lucky lady.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

First Snow Day

We got our first official snowfall of the winter on Saturday, gorgeous fluffy white flakes that covered the trees and yard, much to our delight.

Sam could hardly get through his breakfast before wanting to don all the gear and roll in the snow like a puppy.  Charlotte, unfortunately, had to observe from the inside while I made carmelized nuts, rosemary parmesan crackers and salty sweet brownies for a great party that evening.

The peach fuzz of her hair was cracking me up, just floating there in the shadows.

"Hellllooo?  Helllooo?  Anyone remember me?"

"Rats.  Now what do I do?"

Today at Breakfast

Sam:  "I think I have a baby in my tummy."  He then proceeds to lift his shirt, peering down at his belly.
Me: "I don't think so buddy."
Sam: "Can boys have babies?"
Me: "Nope, only girls have babies."

Semi long pause.  The sound of pancakes being chewed.

Sam: "I want twenty-FIVE babies!"
Me: "Wait, you want to be a BROTHER to twenty-five babies or a DADDY to twenty-five babies?"
Sam: "Da big brodder."
Me: "Gee buddy, I don't know if we have room for twenty-five babies; where would they all sleep?"


Sam: "Well in da crib!"
Me: "Aw honey, we can't fit twenty five babies in Charlotte's crib!"

Another pause.

Sam: "We can stack them!"