Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Izzy is in the house!

We are smitten.

I had no idea I could watch a dog chew a bone for so long and be completely entertained.

izzy dark edit

joey and izzy-edit

Christmas 2009

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is watching my kids give the gifts that they have chosen to one another. Usually, this happens early on the 24th because they just can't wait until Christmas Eve! This year, Joey and Sammy picked out the same gift for each other (on different days).

kids christmas

A little Christmas morning frustration....I snapped about 30 pictures at church and sadly, this is the best of the bunch!

kids church

lily and daddy
lilys kitties
lily tree

Friday, December 18, 2009

Joey's 2009 in pictures


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sam's year...

sam collage

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday Sam!

Do you remember what it felt like to get THE present you dreamed of for more than 4 months?

This may help you remember...

Happy Birthday Sam! We love you!

Friday, December 11, 2009


Seriously? How can we not be excited about having this little face join our family?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Lily's Year in Review!

12 months.

12 months of talking, walking, running, laughing, playing, sunning, kissing, hugging, loving...

lilys year

Friday, December 4, 2009

We've decided to adopt again!

We are so excited! We have decided to adopt another little girl.

She is 4 weeks old.

She is perfectly healthy!

She is blondish (right now) even though her dad has jet black curly hair.

This will be a domestic adoption, we don't have to travel far.

And here she is!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Family game night is every night

Game night is now EVERY night in our home. We have become obsessed with this game:

If you're looking for a great family game, this is it.

My 6 year old loves it.

My 9 year old loves it.

My mother loves it.

I love it.

We can't get enough.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Countdown to Christmas

The other day, I was talking to Sam about Christmas. We had a real heart-to-heart about giving, receiving, being kind and spreading Christmas spirit. After our talk, he looked up at me with his big, blue innocent eyes and said "Wow, and I thought Christmas was all about presents."

While I know that Sam is 6 (a somewhat greedy age) and always good for a laugh, it bothered me that he seemed to have no idea about the true meaning of Christmas. I decided it was time for a Christmas intervention.

As a child, I always had an advent calendar to count down the days until Christmas. That tradition has been passed on to my children by my mother, who gives them an advent calendar each year at Thanksgiving.

This year, in addition to the advent calendar, my kids will be counting down to Christmas with a "giving tree."

On the tree are 24 paper bags filled with pieces of paper that describe small ways my boys can take part in the spirit of the season by giving or sharing with others. I tried to make this fun while also focusing on doing for others.

Today, the boys opened bag #1 and were given gratitude journals. On each day of advent (and hopefully thereafter), they will jot down 3 - 5 things each day that they are thankful for. I was surprised when they ran to write in their journals immediately after getting them! Filling in the journal is their "ticket" to take a bag off of the tree.

Each day's "task" is simple, but meaningful. For example, on Day 2 each boy gets a candy cane and one for each of them to share with a friend at school.

Later this month, they will have a chance to order a "cup of joe" for a soldier overseas, make a bird feeder, send a surprise gift to a far-off relative, make a thank you card for the crossing guard, take cookies to the fire station, etc.

There are only 1 or 2 bags that have a little piece of Christmas candy inside--mostly because I was running out of ideas! I really hope my boys enjoy preparing for Christmas as much as I enjoyed preparing for Advent!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Like many moms, I often plan family outings that I think we will all enjoy and that will also add to my childrens' "memory box" of childhood. I always start our family adventure with picture perfect mental snapshots of how these outings will go. My expectations can often cause disappointment later. Fortunately, I'm able to move beyond the disappointment by replacing those snapshots with the "home movies" of how life really unfolds on a family outing--tantrums, bloopers and all.

So yesterday we set out on one of our family outings. Having spent Thanksgiving with my parents at their cottage in northern Wisconsin, we decided to stop to cut down a Christmas tree on the way back to Chicago.

It was cold. It was wet. It was muddy. The kids were tired...dead tired, and yet I insisted and persisted. It could still be a picture perfect day.

The good thing is, there were LOTS of trees to pick from. The bad thing is there were LOTS of trees to pick from.

We couldn't drive our car to the trees because we don't have 4 wheel drive, so we huffed to the furthest corner of the mud pit farm to find our special tree.

When you're at a Christmas tree farm, it's hard to have perspective. It's really hard to tell how big your tree (and your space at home) is! We ended up with a big tree...a really BIG big, it's going to need a serious shearing just to fit through our door!

Of course, we had to haul our tree all the way back to our car through the mud we had already slid through. My muscles still ache from carrying the tree "just 100 more yards." (I kept telling the kids it was "just 100 more yards" to keep them moving forward.)

So my mental snapshot of cutting down a beautiful Christmas tree and lightly pulling it through the crunchy snow will be replaced by a more realistic memory of dragging an oversized, exceedingly heavy tree through lots and lots of mud. But we laughed...a lot. And at the end of our mud-filled journey, we were welcomed into this little log cabin filled with candy canes, hot cocoa and treats for the kids.

I'd say that's one for the memory box.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

lily in red

I don't know if Thankful Thursday is a widespread blogger trend, but I've noticed the entries on several of the adoption blogs I follow.

I don't typically do Thankful Thursday posts, but today seemed like a really good day to put my gratitude "on paper." Lily's speech has been slow to develop, but I am so thankful that she is finally able to express what she feels in her heart--whether it's good or bad.

Lately, she showers me (and Daddy too) with "I wuv yous" throughout the day. She is still missing several sounds, so these endearing thoughts of hers are cute as can be! Recently, she added "Mommy, I wuv you so muttts," or "I wuv bof of us" (I love Mommy and Daddy) to her repetoire. When she has to do something she doesn't want to do (go to bed, take a nap, go to the potty) she will say "but I yike my Daddy/Mommy" (whoever is NOT taking her to bed/nap/potty).

It is easy to take something such as speech and language for granted and I am grateful today that Lily can finally express herself!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

She's An American Girl

Lily with backpack-edit

It's too expensive.

It's too crowded.

It's too hot--way too hot.

I'm sure there are more "toos" to add to that list, but at the end of the day, the American Girl Store makes many little girls happy. Really, REALLY happy. And who would YOU rather serve as a role model for your daughter--plucky Kit Kittredge who helped her family survive the Great Depression, or Barbie? I guess it depends upon your priorities. Personally, I prefer Kit, or Maya or Samantha.

Lily and I visited the American Girl Store together on Saturday for the first time. We tagged along with Lily's cousins Jenna and Kara as they were going to choose the dolls they would receive for Christmas.

jenna and doll-edit

I had hope that by tagging along with her older cousins, that Lily would take a bit more interest in her own doll. We received a Bitty Baby/American Girl doll from relatives shortly after we submitted our paperwork to adopt from China. We know now that at the time we received the doll, Lily wasn't even born!

In the car on the way home, Lily said "I had fun mama!" It warmed my heart--our first real mother/daughter outing. "What did you like the best," I asked.

"The macaroni and cheese!" she answered excitedly.

Well, maybe she's still a bit too young to appreciate this kind of mother daughter outing! I'm sure she would have prefered the park!

American Girl mosaic

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

As Time Goes By.

lily speed sign

I received a surprise phone call from Costa Rica this evening. Surprise because it's been 19 years (almost to the day) since I returned from 3 years there as a Peace Corps volunteer.

Seriously? 19 years? Time has just got to slow down!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Fall Fun

family leaves
Is there a better way to spend a warm, fall day than playing in the sun and the leaves with your family?

The giggles and laughter filled us all with happiness. Sam, who has been having trouble sleeping, said he would remember this at bedtime to chase away his bad dreams.

sam and dad in leaves

It makes me realize that my kids (and most kids) love the little things in life!

lily in leaves

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy Halloween!

My three little trick-or-treaters...

Lily as a kitty cat.

Sammy as a cardinal.

Joey as a vampire. Twenty seconds after putting on his makeup, he wiped it on the back of his hand and smeared it all over his face!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My City My Chicago New York?

Central Park pond and buildings

I took this photo while on a 7 a.m. walk through Central Park--one of my favorite green spaces in the world.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What will Sam say next?

I can never be quite sure what this little guy is going to come up with! Today, he asked me to read him the story of Snow White. As we all know, in the story, the queen turns herself into an old "hag" to fool Snow white into eating a poisoned apple. Of course, Sam asked what a hag is and I told him: "a hag is an old, ugly woman."

Fast forward several hours to the family outing to Target. As we were checking out, Sam quitely pulled me aside and asked, "so Mom, is she a hag?" pointing toward the cashier.

Words failed me as I shuffled him out of line--the cashier looked EXACTLY like the hag illustration in the disney book we were reading!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Kid Quotes

I picked up Sam from school today and he had a little pout on his face.

"Sam," I asked, "did you have a good day at school?"

"No," he answered sadly, "I didn't get to show my diarrhea to my class and to my teacher."

"May I see your diarrhea?" I ask (taking a bit of a risk, but figuring there has GOT to be a logical explanation for this.)

"Sure," he says, brightening up a bit while proceeding to pull out a calendar book Rob had given him that morning.

"Sam? Tomorrow, try asking your teacher if you can show your DIARY to the class."

Sam threatening Snow White and two dwarves with Bakugan doom.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Mexican Day of the Dead

I LOVE the Mexican celebration of Day of the Dead (November 2nd). Many people think it's morbid and don't understand the calaveras (sugar skulls) used to represent the deceased. Actually, el Dia de los Muertos and the altars that commemorate loved ones who have passed away are a true celebration of peoples' lives.

Every year, I take the kids to see the Day of the Dead exhibit at the National Museum of Mexican Art in the Pilsen neighborhood in Chicago. We enjoy the colorful artwork and the altars and then we head on over to one of our favorite Mexican Restaurants--Nuevo Leon. But before we leave the museum, I always let the kids pick out a calavera. These colorful skulls are used to decorate the altars throughout the exhibit. (You can learn more about el Dia de los Muertos here.)

This year, I ordered a skull making kit to make our own sugar skulls at home. At first, I was a bit intimidated by the whole process, but I quickly learned how easy it is to make a sugar skull. In fact, I let each of the boys decorate a calavera as well and I was pleased with the results...

Joey's calavera:

Sammy's Calavera (at least I think that's a sugar skull under there!)

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My City My Chicago

Thillens field edited

As baseball season comes to a close and cold weather sets in, I am reminded of the BEST place in Chicago to play and watch Little League baseball...Thillens Field.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Happy Birthday Lily!

You are the apple of our eye(s)!

lily apple

Monday, October 5, 2009

My City My Chicago

View through the ceiling of one of the Burnham Pavillions at Millenium Park. Celebrating 100 years of the Burnham Plan...the plan that made the lakeshore accessible to all.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

You Make Me Happy

I went upstairs today to get Lily after her nap/quiet time. She greeted me with the heartiest "You make me happy!"

Just pick me up off the floor! Way too cute!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

My City My Chicago

Paul Konerko, 1st baseman...perhaps discussing college football with a Detroit Tiger?

We have a family secret...we are cursed. It seems as if the Chicago White Sox can not win a game if we are inside park boundaries. The curse has settled over us for about 5 years now.

Last night, we attended the Sox vs. Tigers game at the Cell. We had great seats. The weather was perfect. We knew going in to the game there were no playoff dreams. It didn't matter--it was a beautiful night for baseball.

In the 5th inning, the score was 5 to 0, Sox were up. Rob and I looked at each other and without exchanging ONE WORD we reminded each other that yes, this could be the night the curse finally ended. We knew that if we spoke the words out loud, we would jinx the lead.

Apparently, the curse doesn't care if we speak our thoughts or not. During the next 4 innings, the Sox managed to bungle their lead (that's an understatement) and eventually lost by an unbelievable 7 runs. (Final 12-5 Tigers)

It was embarassing. There were so many Detroit Tiger fans in the stands that it was hard to remember we were actually IN Chicago.

Sam cried as we left the Cell, realizing that in his 5 years, he's never actually seen the Sox win a game in the ball park.

In the car on the way home, we decided to take a break next year and stay away from the Sox park. However, both boys chuckled at the thought of attending a few Cubs games next year...will our curse follow us? ; )

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Pure Joy!

Ah the joy of being tossed in the air by a loved one!
Air toss

Sunday, September 20, 2009

My City My Chicago

The view from inside The Bean (Cloudgate) sculpture in Millenium Park

Inside the bean

Friday, September 18, 2009

Apparently, this was a wise purchase

Last night, we hung a world map in our boys' room. We had it up in a common area in the old house, but here, it seems to fit best in their room. Sammy walked into the room and immediately said, "Oh look, here's the Phillipines," and he correctly pointed to the Phillipines. I assumed it was something he learned in Kindergarten during these past few days because there are a few Filipino children in his class.

Then, he pointed to Brazil (again, correctly). This time, I figured he read the word.

Next, he pointed to Papua New Guinea. Not only did he pronounce it right, but he was spot on with his i.d. of this rather obscure, smallish country which shares half of the island of New Guinea with Indonesia. He even pointed to the right side of the island. I was pretty sure he didn't learn about Papua New Guinea in school, didn't think he could read the words with such proper pronounciation, so I started to wonder.

Next he pointed to the teeny, tiny African country of Djibouti. I doubt most people have even heard of this country, let alone be able to identify it on a map. I was certain this time that he wasn't reading the word, because Djibouti sounds like Ja-boo-ti and that is exactly how he pronounced it!

Sam continued to identify really obscure countries for a few minutes until finally, we asked, "Sam, how do you know about these countries?--" wondering if perhaps he has the best kindergarten teacher ever.

"Scientific Smart Globe," he replied....

Apparently this was a VERY good use of our money!

Monday, September 14, 2009

My City My Chicago

Crown Fountain face

Man face at the Crown Fountain--this one made my kids laugh out loud!

Friday, September 11, 2009


Thursday, September 10, 2009

My City My Chicago

my chicago 1 bean view