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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

A Chandeleur Dinner in Nashville

I'm sharing a beloved crepe recipe and the Candlemas Day/Chandeleur tradition with our friends in Nashville. And remembering this post from a few years back and how special those days were. Bears repeating:

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2012

Our Lovely School. Lighting the Way.


If I told you how sweet our school is, your heart might burst.  I know mine nearly did this morning at Mass in the school's "hall" with 200 adorably uniformed little people singing with their lovely British accents, celebrating Candlemas.

One day I'll tell you all about school and how good they've been to us.  How it was love at first sight and sound for the Mister and me.  How staff and families have welcomed us so graciously.  I'll tell you how the school day begins when the Head Teacher comes to the courtyard to ring a giant bell.*

But today, for the first time we are celebrating Candlemas.  At school, at church, and with French friends over crepes tonight.  It is a charming, lively, and daily education living here. I'll have to be sure to remind the children about the traditions of Groundhog Day tonight. But for today, we're shining more light into the world and working to make others happy.  It is a tradition we'll carry on.

*I found a similar bell on Portobello Road. Someday, I am going to ask the Head Teacher to ring mine. Sort of like giving someone a flag flown over the US Capitol, only I'm going to keep it.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Dear Teachers. I'm sorry.


 

I’m so sorry. It is nearly 10:00 pm and the darlings you will attempt to instruct next week are still going full speed. 

They’re still at it not because I think it is a good idea exactly, but because I’m on vacation, too.  I’m in my new super comfy pajamas I opened Christmas morning. Well. The pajamas I actually opened the week before Christmas but only because by that point I’d become accustomed to opening and wrapping everything that arrived. I’m planning not to take them off until at least dinnertime tomorrow. How many Mondays EVER can you say that? 

I’m enjoying my jammies, homemade cinnamon buns (I apparently found them way more delicious than anyone else here - thank goodness the pajamas have a drawstring waistband) and a new magazine. Call me simple, but this is my idea of paradise. I have to tell you, that while I am very anti-gun and couldn’t grow a weed (hooray, cut flowers!), I am beyond tickled that Santa subscribed to “Garden and Gun” magazine for me. And not just so I can amuse my European houseguests. It is good. I am dog earring pages right and left and you can be sure that some of the recipes and book reviews will work their way to your mailbox in the new year. 

The only thing punctuating my jammie/bun/magazine reverie is the happy, giggly chatter of little girls who should have been asleep hours ago. I know that we’re all going to regret this something awful next week. In however many hours are 24 times seven in fact. I know. Their brothers, fresh off a few days of late night road trip/bowl game/hotel room service, have enough sense (or maybe have just given in to exhaustion and the delight of their own pillows and covers) to sleep through the neighboring sorority party. 

I have tried to break up the festivities. I really have. But I also know I’m more accomplice than sheriff. Ten days into our Christmas holiday and we’re right back to July. Getting anywhere before noon seems like a spectacular achievement. And today’s “getting somewhere” was to eat a yummy lunch out after spending an inordinate amount of time ogling American Girl Dolls. That part I won’t apologize for. The grandparents apparently conspired to all send cash this year and that burns holes in little pockets. Especially those which belong to girls who like pretty dolls. And history. And books. Okay. I confess that we didn’t buy a single book today. This is becoming a giant mea culpa! But one of the dolls got her ears pierced and I’ve pretty much told my girls that they’re as likely to get their own ears pierced as getting a tongue ring or tattoo on my watch. 

So the dollies are freshly pierced and outfitted, the girls are super-sugared and schedules and nutrition have fallen by the wayside. It is going to be tough, tough sledding for us all this time next Sunday night. I feel it in my bones. I know that the six year old who just bounded back out of bed to gleefully announce that she was the “last one awake” will surely be the first one in the school clinic next week suffering from a kazillion ailments that would be remedied by a good night (or two weeks worth) of sleep. 

But know that I’ve tucked her into the guest bed (after I cleared off leftover gift wrap and tape dispensers) and things are finally moving in the right direction. (About time. I still have much more magazine to conquer!) And I suspect you’ll agree with me on this point: I’m guilty of spoiling them this week but only because I know next week will bring spelling tests, school uniforms and the general busy-ness of the rest of their life back into our world. 

Maybe in part because this year I see that while small (and often still found on my hip!), a six year old isn’t really terribly little anymore. Sure, she’s my baby. They all are. But one day the Mister and I won’t stay up exceedingly late tucking surprises under the tree on Christmas Eve and someday (maybe way, way too soon) no one at our house will ask for new dollies. Soon there will be long days when the kids are with you that I can work off late night cinnamon buns and snacks and order will be restored into our collective worlds. But for now, I’m letting loose. I know we’ll all be sorry next week, but I think in a few years or so I’ll be glad.

Here’s hoping you’re enjoying the time off just as much as we are and readying yourself for the giant platter of cinnamon buns I’m bringing on January 4. My small way of saying thanks for understanding.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Bowled Over. With Kids

This morning found me doing a little networking at Pinewood Social. Do you know it? Nashville's hippest bowling alley, amazing restaurant, coffee bar (Crema!) and bar that readily serves up Pimm's cups. My kind of spot.


I'm not alone. The kids love Pinewood, too. One morning this summer I took 3/4 of them on a surprise bowling outing. It was a delight. The staff treated us with the same warm welcome they surely give uber important business types. Maybe even more so. They graciously offered up hot chocolate and ball ramps, which they might neglect to offer to grown ups.


I sort of hesitate to share this secret because I'm eager to take the kids back soon and often. But there ARE four lanes. Go when you get a chance. All hours. All ages (credit to the 9.30 club's "All Ages All the Time" policy).



As much as it is the season for us all to get back to work, I couldn't help missing my little people today as I sipped coffee and traded business cards. We're all so happy the LONG weekend is almost upon us.


These strikers absolutely bowl me over.  xo

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Back to Business

The pool towels are still getting lots of use these days, but so are backpacks and number 2 pencils. We've been back to school for about a week and settling back into routines. Alarm clocks, PE kits, uniforms, new shoes. Breakfast together instead of staggered pajama brunches. Baby Sister has reluctantly had to give up her show girl hours.

It hasn't been just sorting school supplies. So much has happened since we unpacked from the beach! Buddy went to camp, we drew lots of good ideas from our jar and we hosted houseguests galore.


Our favorite parts of summer were showing off Nashville to family and friends and being tourists in Music City.


To distract ourselves from missing our camper, we ventured a little out of town (just one "CHiPs" episode of a drive) to go blueberry picking.







We came home with such an abundance that Baby Sister had a blueberry stand!  I really should have done that canning.


But who could stand in the way of my tiniest entrepreneur?


Sunshine, blueberries, red wagons and boogie boards. I miss it all already!  Happy school days one and all. xo

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.

Buddies.

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! 

xo

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.


xo