Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bits and Pieces: October

October is always a busy month. Two birthdays, school events, our annual fall camping trip and of course, Halloween and associated events, take up most of our weekends. It is fun, though. I just wish this fall wasn't so wet and cold and gray.

Oh, and did someone say something about an upcoming election?

So let's see, what did we do. We celebrated Christopher's birthday with a spaghetti dinner and homemade chocolate and vanilla layer cake. Christopher likes spaghetti well enough, but I really made it to help marathoners Katie and Ben carbo-load for their big race the following Sunday. Christopher enjoyed his party, and got some nice gifts. He was especially excited about Rodimus Prime, a Transfomer he has coveted for months. (I have no idea who Rodimus Prime is, and I had to watch a YouTube video to figure out how to transform the dang thing. But he is happy. Special thanks to Meema Jo and Baba Ralph for that gift.)

We went to the Rainforest Cafe on his actual birthday. This was his choice. It was so expensive! We may not let him chose the "Jungle Cafe" next year.

The Marathon went well for Ben and my sister. He ran it under 3:40 (3:33 to be more precise), which was his goal. I was very proud of him. My sister Katie ran it even faster (3:30) and she qualified for Boston! I am already planning a long weekend to watch her run in 2020. My brother-in-law Andrew and I raced around on our bikes to see them at various mile markers. It was really fun, actually. For Andrew and me. I am not sure how much fun Ben and Katie were having.

The weekend after Christopher's birthday I got to escape for a few days. I went to my friend Chelsea's cabin near Ely with my college girls. We had a great time. Lots of delicious soup and salads courtesy of Chelsea, and, of course, many bottles of wine. I am so grateful I still have a relationship with these girls 20 years after we first met.

While I was gone, Ben took the kids to a school party and to have some pictures taken for an ECFE fundraiser. He also took them to a Minnesota United game. They lost. I think I had more fun, but Ben is such a good sport about my weekends away. I honestly wish he would do something similar, but he never does.

My birthday is in mid-October. It was another nice one. My SAHM friends treated me to a lovely party at my friend Peggy's house. This group always showers me with such nice gifts and this year was no different. Ben bought me a new sleeping bag that is much warmer than what I had. We also went out to eat, just the two of us, to a delicious Italian restaurant (Mucci's). My sister took me out to dinner as well, to a delicious Italian restaurant. (Red Rabbit).

It was the last birthday of my 30s. (!) It is hard to believe, especially since I remember so clearly how freaked out I was about turning 30. I am definitely not going to accomplish all of my 40 x 40 goals, but that's okay. I'll still try to do some of them this year, but I am not going to get too worked up about it. It was all for fun, right?

We took our annual fall camping trip with friends over MEA break. This year, the destination was Gooseberry Falls. It was very beautiful, but very cold. There was even snow. Luckily, my new sleeping bag lived up to my expectations.  The kids had mixed feelings about the trip this year. I think it was a little too cold for them. My friend and her family have a pop-up camper, and I am giving Ben the hard sell on getting a camper for us. I am getting tired of sleeping on the ground, despite the new bag.

Christopher: "Mommy, if I had millions and millions and millions of dollars I would buy you a camper and LOTS OF BEER." The kid has the key to my heart.

I have been busy with activities for the aforementioned dreaded election. So far I've made phone calls,  written letters, knocked on doors, and donated money. I may join a text bank this weekend. I don't know if any of it is making a difference, but I just needed to do SOMETHING. I have been feeling so helpless about everything. I barely slept after phone banking last night after hearing the latest poll numbers. EVERYONE PLEASE PLEASE VOTE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.


I have also been busy with my role as co-treasurer for the school PTO. We just completed our annual fundraiser, which was a huge success.

While I was phone banking last weekend, Ben took the kids trick or treating in Highland Village. Hermione and the dragon were into it, as they always are. We'll be trick or treating on Wednesday, doing our same routine as always: hit a few houses near us and then meet friends for the big Sargent Avenue block party, which really is something to see.

And then on to November. I always just picture November as being dark, but there is also lots of pie eating. I am looking forward to that.

School picture time! This is much better than described by Christopher, who re-enacted his picture-taking experience for me.

My second-grader. Still can't believe I have a second grader.

Birthday boy.

Christopher's homemade cake.

Waiting for Daddy (Uncle Ben) and Aunt Katie (Mommy) on Marathon day.

He spends a lot of time "styling" his hair after his showers, so he was thrilled when they did this for him at the hair salon.

Supplies for my girls' weekend.

Friends since 1999! (I've known Cindi since 5th grade)

A treat with my girl after her flu shot.

Snack time on the camping trip.
Clare and friends on Lake Superior.

Climbing at Gooseberry Falls. We had a scare when Clare almost fell off a high rock formation she was climbing. Thank God my friend Sarah was there to catch her. Clare was very scared, as were all the witnesses. Luckily, I did not see it happen.

Tuckered out on the ride home from camping.

Walking together at the school fun run.

Children's Museum on a day off of school

Glad Ben does this with them, because it is my least favorite holiday ritual.

Clare baked this cornbread all by herself. She plans to cook dinner next weekend!

Hermione Granger and a dragon. She has a wig, which was abandoned early on. We'll see if I can get a picture tomorrow night.

Thursday, October 4, 2018


Five. SOB. 

I wrote this when Clare turned five, too. Five feels like a milestone. It also feels like I blinked and woke up with a 5-year-old and a seven-year-old, and I don't know what I did for the past five years. Luckily, I have this blog to remind me that I did actually spend that time doing something.

So, this kid. Ben and I frequently ask ourselves just where he came from. He is the extrovert in a family of three introverts. If he thinks he can make someone laugh, he goes for it. He talks to everyone he sees: friends, neighbors, people with dogs, waitstaff, cashiers, baristas, you name it. He brought his yeti toy to an appointment this week with the express goal of "scaring" the doctor. (He then forgot to show it to the doctor because he was having too much fun trying to listen to his own heart with the doctor's stethoscope, which he was not shy about asking to use. He had never met this doctor before.)

He does still have shy moments, though. Especially if I am around. Or maybe only if I am around. He still wants to be with me most of the time, and still sometimes cries if I go somewhere without him.  He certainly knows how to turn on the crocodile tears and fully expects me to come running with a big hug. And I usually do.

We picked Clare up at school earlier this week, and the kindergartners from Christopher's class were going out to their buses. They all immediately started yelling to him and saying bye and seemed genuinely happy to see him. He has started telling me about a few friends both at school and on the bus, including a little girl named Josie. He thinks it's pretty great that this girl has the same name as his cousin. 

Speaking of his cousins, Josie is still his best friend. (And sometimes his worst enemy.) He adores playing with baby Otto, and seeing pictures of Marios on my phone. He misses Bambos and mentions him frequently. 

Clare and Christopher play very nicely together, although this week Clare is very jealous that Christopher is getting attention for his birthday. (It is one of those things I have no patience with her about. I need to remember that seven is still pretty little. She is entitled to behave like a seven-year-old once in awhile.)

Christopher played soccer this summer and fall, and enjoyed it. He tried hard and scored a few goals. I am glad he found something he likes. He is asking to try to gymnastics, and considering the fact that he literally climbs the walls in our house, it might be a good idea. We'll probably do some theater classes again next summer, too.

Some of Christopher's favorites at five: transformers, transformers, transformers. Playing board games, riding his bike, playing at the park. He likes swimming, but only if he can touch the bottom of the pool. Books, especially "Dragons Love Tacos" and "The Day the Crayons Quit." He lets Clare read to him, and they'll sit on the couch and go through 10 books in a row, or sometimes more. I love it. He loves the History Center and the library and the Children's Museum and cake pops from Starbucks. His favorite animals are buffalo and gorillas. He loves his aforementioned yeti, who he named Burrito. His current favorite TV show is Skylanders. His favorite movie is Captain Underpants. He still runs around the house with his fingers in his ears if something on TV scares him.

Dislikes: broccoli, and until a few days ago, wearing pants. (He would wear shorts.)

Potty humor has become a big problem. Christopher finds his bodily functions hilarious, and thinks everyone else should, too.

We saw his cardiologist this week, and I am happy to report that he is doing well and does not need to go back until he is nine. He still has a heart murmur, because instead of being completely smooth his aorta is jagged where it had to be repaired. However, as long as it continues to grow with him he should be fine. If not, then we might be looking at another procedure. But since that won't happen for awhile, I am choosing not to worry about it!

Last weekend he helped me make an apple crisp, and we had so much fun baking together. Even though I am sad he is growing up so fast, it is so fun to have this funny, happy, helpful kid to hang out with. 

Happy birthday to my best guy!