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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Beach Babies

This photo seems like an echo of one from another year. I'm also sure I've used that title, too. But good times and great trips deserve repetition. 

We are at home in the sun and sand. We are renewed and restored with Vitamin D, card games, bike rides and lots and lots of water. Rinse and repeat.

Park the car and paddle off in a sea kayak. Toss any sort of schedule or extraneous clothing and we've got it made. We are in our element at the ocean. Or gulf. Or wherever you can find sand and warm sunshine. Although while we're dreaming of the perfect spots, I think I speak for the crowd when I say we're not as excited by English pebble beaches or Midwestern lakes.

The beach puts a little spring in our step. I always seem to get shots of the crew from behind. I think that's because I'm toting the bags and figuring out which flops were left seaside!  

While traipsing along the beach today, this little person and I were talking about how many times we'd visited this beautiful place and how many more times we'd be back. When I queried her on who knew where we'd all be in years to come (I was trying to lead her to thinking that surely God knew...) she looked sorry for my ignorance and said confidently that she'd be with me!  Bless her heart. I sure hope so, too.

 Happy days spent in the summertime sun. Together.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summer Lovin'

Baby Sister had this to say the other day about her new roommate:

"She is my first best friend. We never have to plan a playdate because she's always there."

I bet her sissie would say the same. And likely the guys would also echo those sentiments. Big Sister has been busy this week going to a sports camp in the mornings, which means Baby Sister is often trailing behind the boys looking for a buddy to play cars and trucks with her.

Big Brother is off to a sleepover summer camp for a week before long. We'll all feel his absence but I suspect no one more than his best friend and roommate. They are all so blessed to have each other.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sweets for a Sweet

We celebrated Baby Sister turning six (!) with a donut party last week. Hooray that summertime schedules allowed it to be on Friday morning. That might be my all-time favorite (and weekend preserving) party time.

Like our littlest girl, it was bright and festive. I raided my bunting, party and paper supplies to incorporate all sorts of colors and decor. Even the invites were bits of found paper and cute envelopes from my collection. Note the guests were to bring a dolly!  So sweet, this party.

When the girls arrived they put on personalized aprons. Little white aprons from the craft store doctored up with fabric ribbon tape and a tiny donut. I love a theme. I thought the aprons would just be a cute favor but they did double duty protecting pretty sundresses from our craft project.

We made these adorable fabric donuts and cinnamon buns. Each place was set with the needed supplies (socks, felt and paint) and we worked together (the Mister, the boys and I glueing as needed) to create play treats. 

While the faux sweets dried, the Mister and boys repurposed the door decor/pool float for a game downstairs.

Meanwhile, the dollies were having their own tiny donut party complete with mini bunting (thanks, Gaelle!), tiny donuts, little seats and petite balloons.

And of course, there was cake!  Baby Sister requested a donut cake there were actual donuts, too. You'll be glad to know that to offset all that sweet we also served a light breakfast. With protein.

I'm feeling so guilty now about all that sugar, but cannot resist this shot of the glassware. It was even prettier filled with milk. I sugared the rims of tiny dairy glasses and topped with -- you guessed it -- another donut!

Favor bags were donut erasers,

Notepads to play restaurant at home. And homemade hairband.

The little bags and name tags themselves added to the decor.

It was a lovely morning with our sweet girl and her adorable tiny friends. Happy birthday, Baby Sister!

PS: wasn't that long ago that there were a bunch of mermaids at our house! And months ago we had a great party for Big Sister (even if it involved a cast of licensed characters) that I don't think I ever told you about.  More soon! 


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Stanley's Back!

So much of this summer seems to be on a wonderful repeat. Summer is nostalgic anyway. There are things we do in summer that don't get their due during the school year.

We're way back in love with our LEGOs and building on our tummies, watching movies and a lot of CHiPs episodes, playing outside before and after breakfast, staying up late and sleeping in.

And watching hockey playoffs. We cheered the Blackhawks to their victory and that, too was very sweetly familiar. It doesn't seem like very long ago (and it wasn't) that we first danced to that Chelsea Dagger song. That I was nursing a baby and shushing cheers that might wake her or Big Sister.

It seemed like much longer, tho when I looked through that summer's scrapbook. I realized that the last time a Stanley Cup was in our home Baby Sister was about to turn one, we'd not yet been Londoners, we were pushing a double stroller and absolutely no one was nearing my height. No one requested crepes for breakfast then.

I love looking at that snap of our dining room in La Grange. I adored that house (still do) and even those curtains (they stayed behind). I also miss the drawers to our Marshall Field table that STILL haven't surfaced after this move.

We're so happy for the 'Hawks, happy to celebrate together, and hopeful no one needs a mixing bowl or springform pan in the days ahead!

And when not observing the Blackhawks, we're gleefully enjoying the many deer that are joining us for meals. I'm surely no wildlife photographer, but hope you'll see just how close this this guy was today. I went from spending money on black cabs to 40 pound bags of wildlife feed.


Monday, June 15, 2015

A Summer's Party

One of my favorite parts of this summer so far has been throwing a big party!  We welcomed summer and about 80 friends in our new home. And served up pitchers of Pimms.

The first weekend after Memorial Day proved to be perfect timing. Most families hadn't left for vacations and with school out, everyone was ready to celebrate. We invited grown ups only (kids another time) and our small people hunkered down for movie and hockey watching in our room. They got a few visits from mom friends and a few teachers, too.

We practice friendship by buckshot. So invitations went out to friends we've known since our earliest days and those we want to get to know better. Folks have been so good to cheer and assist with our renovation and move and we were thrilled for an excuse to open our home to say thanks.

We made great use of the house. Kegs on the sunporch, food and drinks in the pub, and milling around in the kitchen and breakfast room. And we even used the old school desk and Jack Daniels coolers left behind by our previous owners.

Big Brother took these pix as we scurried around with last minute details. When I asked him where the pictures of the food platters were, he reminded me that those were still getting put out as the first guests arrived. Oh right. (Also, endless thanks to girlfriends who jumped right in on that account!) So imagine this set up plus cheese plates, some crab spread and little sannies.  The flowers were daisies, kale and lots of greens. Lemons floated in vases and were dotted around tables. Simple and summery.

The Mister and Biggest Brother strung white lights around the sunporch. We like the look so much we're keeping it.  The favor was a printed Pimms recipe and a lemon tied together. That was a happy turn of events as we kept making pitchers of that yummy drink which inspired lots requests for the recipe.

It was a great night and we're grateful to have new friends. It was a simple and easy gathering. What people want most is a chance to be together. I was so happy to hear that lots of couples made it into a long-awaited date night out and a few groups double and triple dated!  There were funny stories told and the house echoed with celebrating. 

Here's to a wonderful summer and a new tradition. Happy summer days and nights.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Deer Me!

Summer's in full swing here, friends. Pajama mornings, summer reading program, late night card games. The whole lot of it. Unfortunately, not much sun yet but there will be many lazy pool days, beach trips and warm sunshine ahead. Meanwhile, the gloom and chill (is not reminding us of British summers. It is NOT.) gives us an excuse to start our days even slower and really ease into the summer.

We need that because our bedtimes are later than ever. Mostly because our early and mid-evenings have been consumed by our new ritual of going on a Deer Safari. This is when we walk, bike or drive (windows down, speaking in hushed tones) very slowly through the neighborhood trying to spot deer.

We've seen the sweetest teeniest baby deer, a record of five in one night, and a deer basically jumping on hind legs to reach what must be delicious leaves. It is a hoot. I'm telling you, wherever we go, we settle in. I did not see Deer Safari in my future at any point when traipsing along Oxford Street.

Inspired by our high volume sightings last night, today found us buying deer feed and something called "attractant" to lure them into our own yard en masse. Ideally we can host a living room safari watching party. Or even better, enjoy a quiet dinner on the sunporch with fluffy-tailed friends nearby. You should hope so, too as we might be able to get some closeup snaps!

This might be the world's fuzziest long distance amateur shot taken from a moving vehicle -- but please zoom in on it. If you really squint at the tan tall thing in the middle of the frame, you just might make out a silly Nashville deer pretending to be a giraffe.

These are the days we'll remember. I love summer!

PS: Tonight's safari has been postponed as we'll be watching yet another Blackhawks game. Watch there be an entire herd in the backyard while we're glued to the tube. Either that our we'll wake up to the neighborhood's fattest squirrels sleeping it off in our yard.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Last Days of School

I came across these tiny saddles in the hallway last night and realized that was the last they'd be out for a while. Tuesday was Baby Sister's last day of Kindergarten. Much to the great envy of her siblings (especially those taking exams) summer has already begun for her! So we've traded those little shoes for bare piggies and flip flops.

It doesn't seem like that long ago that my heart broke (and my face melted behind movie star sunglasses) as I walked Biggest Brother to his first day of Kindergarten. Beginnings and ends are always moist around here. I cannot even write the teacher thank you notes yet because I end up crying. Tears of gratitude for their wonderful year, but also a pangs of knowing time is marching on. The smalls less so every moment.

There is much to be thankful for. I am hugely grateful that I get the chance to see every grade four times. Often in new and exciting places. And sometimes in the same place which is always great! Also, we're so very happy that they all have one more year in school together next year. We never imagined the four of them would be in the same school. Having the chance to do that for four straight years?! We're so blessed. They love being together.

How neat is it that when I open my picture library it shows me photos from a year ago? Truthfully, sometimes that makes me blue, too but this week it sweetly illustrates the passage of time. Baby Sister's teacher measured and weighed the students at the beginning and end of the year so we have proof that she grew 3 inches. The top photo is from the first days of the year. The bottom two from this week.

In keeping with our near inability to get a good group shot lately, it took more than a few attempts to get shots on the last day with everyone in uniforms. They tell a story. New backdrop with a new house. Baby Sister's first lost tooth and evidence of a fall off a sliding board/her first broken bone. (That last bit promises to make our first few weeks at the pool a challenge...! She has asked me a million ways and times how she can swim with a cast. Bless.)

I see other things, too. Big Brother getting glasses this year. Big Sister having gained a sense of confidence and joy from a super teacher and great friends. And Biggest Brother nearly as tall as I am. All of them way more interesting, worldly, smart and creative than I ever was at their ages. I would have loved to have been their friends. Hooray that they're my babies all.

Even tho compared to a British school year it seems negligently early to be trading backpacks for beach towels, we're ready. I love our summertimes. I love our tradition of drawing the days' activity from a jar. We all want to be good summer readers and keep learning. But we'll be extra happy to be doing that while barefoot and without belts. Or saddle oxfords.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

For This Child I Have Prayed

Our first baby girl made her First Holy Communion over the weekend. She is a real blessing. And a true dolly. I could stare at this picture for days. She was so proud of herself and joyful. We are, too. 

Her fan club was equally tickled and we were all a little taken aback to see her look so much more grown up.

There are lots of the every days and then there extraordinary ones like Sunday that seem to come and go so quickly. Really this whole school year has flown and now somehow we're just days away from the start of our summertime. 

Someday, I bet I'll look back at these pictures and think they look so little. But for the moment, I see whispers of their big selves in these images. Legs are getting longer, faces are thinning out. But I always see them snuggled up together.

I can imagine these pictures on display at graduations and weddings. I hope they'll always be nearby in the extraordinary and even ordinary days. Standing together and celebrating.

These are the days!  xo