Saturday, December 31, 2022

a look back on 2022

Top Row (left to right): Welcoming Kiwi and Blueberry to our house; a Mommy and Mae trip for Colleen's bridal shower; finishing our upstairs bathroom renovation; and Colleen and Bobby's wedding

Middle Row: Lots of successful sewing projects this year including a swim suit; Colin's first baseball game; Mae's first day of First Grade; and our 10th anniversary trip to the Dominican Republic

Bottom Row: Mae's first ride on a roller coaster; and the beginning of Colin's obsession with Kings Island; a fun Halloween with my little witch and black cat; and our first time cutting our own Christmas tree!

We finished out the year with a trip to visit Dan’s family. Our flight on the 27th was delayed several hours, but both kids were such troopers! It helped that Colin was SO excited for his first ride on an airplane! He has been poring over the Richard Scarry “Busy, Busy Airport” book he got for Christmas, so he knew what to expect. He stayed seated and kept his belt buckles the whole time because the book said to! He spent the flight looking out the window at the city lights, reading books, and occasionally laying down and resting his head on my leg. We finally arrived around 10pm. GranE, Batman, and Colleen met us just outside security, which was very fun.
The next day, we exchanged presents. Mae had fun building her new Lego recycling truck and pet playground. Colin really liked his new trucks and the Yardzee set we got Batman (especially being dumped out of the bucket with the dice.)
Both kids had fun playing with their new fort kit! Mae even disappeared into the fort with her kindle for an hour while Colin was napping in the afternoon.
In the evening we went to Colleen and Bobby’s new house for a happy hour. I love their big kitchen and cozy basement! (Mae, Colin, and Batman liked the big TV in the basement.) Afterwards we went out for sushi and drinks with Colleen, Bobby, Tim, and David.
Of course we visited the playground. Mae had fun climbing to the top of the spiderweb, and Colin had fun snuggling on the swing with GranE.
On Friday, GranE and Batman took us to the zoo. The monkeys and big cats were pretty active, which was fun.
The rest of our time was filled with elaborate “set ups” arranged by Mae, Colin, and GranE. They delivered mail from their post office, served everyone treats from their ice cream truck, and treated all our ailments at their hospital. Nurse Colin was very attentive to everyone.
We had a fun visit and are ready to ring in 2023!

Friday, December 30, 2022

a cold christmas

We were back home on the 23rd, but it was too cold to even go outside! We stayed in our jammies all day, cozied up in front of our fireplace. The kids wanted to play in the snow, but I knew they wouldn't last long in -7F so instead we brought a couple bins of snow inside. Mae diligently painted hers. Colin ate his.
We planned to go to back to the museum with Anna and Grant on Christmas Eve. We’d been the week before to see the train display but didn’t have time to visit the children’s play area. The museum was closed for weather so we decided to go to the conservatory instead. The train display was SO cool, and it was refreshing to be surrounded by warm, tropical plants on such a cold day! I really loved the miniatures of city landmarks made from natural materials.
Christmas Eve we baked a carrot cake (new tradition request from Mae), went to church, picked up Chinese takeout, set out cookies for Santa, watched "Christmas Eve on Sesame Street," and read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" before bed. Then I fell asleep watching "White Christmas" on the couch with Dan.
After a busy Christmas Eve, we slept in on Christmas morning and didn't open presents until Mae woke up around 8:15. We set up our tree in the playroom this year for the first time.
Colin loved opening presents and sobbed when he was done. He didn't have any specific Christmas gift requests, but was very excited about his little Brio trucks. When he was playing kinetic sand later, he said, "I hafta get my trucks! Make a flat road!"
Mae was excited to get two Lego sets she asked Santa for. I told her she had to wait until after breakfast to start on them (for my own sanity), so she snuggled up and read her new Catstronauts books while our breakfast casserole cooked.
She spent all day Christmas and the 26th building her Lego horse trailer set, and was so proud when it was finished! It's very interactive, and she's had fun playing with the little people and horses.
It finally warmed up enough to go outside for a few minutes. On Christmas we sledded on the driveway, and on the 26th we delivered our Christmas cards to neighbors and to the blue mailbox at the end of the street. Colin had fun being towed around the block on the sled. Stay warm!

Monday, December 26, 2022

christmastime is here

Merry Christmas!
We spent a few days before Christmas at Mom and Dad’s house. The extra fun part was that Christopher and Emily just moved into their new house, right across the street! Play dates will be even easier now! (My favorite part is the 200 gallon fish tank.) I think Mom and Dad need to build a tunnel (or at least add a new front walkway to protect their grass!)
We crammed a lot of fun activities into our visit. I love seeing the Christmas lights at the art museum. Colin seems to be a big fan of the music from The Nutcracker; We’ve seen a few light displays set to the music and he always says, “This my favorite song!”
Of course we went to the symphony’s Christmas show. It's my favorite Christmas tradition! Will joined us for the first time this year, too. I really enjoyed listening to the violinist, Dan's favorite was the Cyr wheel performer, and Mae loved the dancing rag dolls and bears. We always take our picture in front of the big Christmas tree, although there's enough of us attending now that we pretty much block the whole tree!
Thursday we took a train to the North Pole to visit Santa. Colin was wide-eyed at the beginning but settled in and started to enjoy all the animatronic displays along the way. Mae remembered that she got candy on the ride last year, so that’s all she talked about. All the kids were excited to visit Santa! (A Christmas miracle: they all looked at the camera... and weren't screaming!)
I was a little bummed that the Christmas party with my friends was canceled due to weather. Fortunately, I bumped into Laura and family after coming back from the North Pole! (Also fortunately, we decided to drive back home early to avoid traveling in the storm and sub-zero temps, which was DEFINITELY the right choice!)
More pictures from our Christmas at home coming soon!

Monday, December 19, 2022

flower girl

I know I already wrote about Colleen's wedding, but I really wanted to share a few of the professional photos and a bit about Mae's flower girl dress! Here's a few of my favorite pics from the photographer. Everyone looks so nice all dressed up, and I just love the colorful wildflowers bouquets so much!
My boys look so handsome escorting GranE down the aisle. I was disappointed that I forgot to take a photo of them in their matching ties (from ElenaAndChris on Etsy), so I was really happy to see that the photographer got one!
Now on to the flower girl dress. The pattern is the Caroline Party Dress (my 5th time using this pattern! (See versions 1, 2, 3, and 4.) I made a size 4T in width and a 5T in length, and I modified the bodice to eliminate the cap sleeves. Even thought I've sewn this pattern several times, it took me a while to source all my supplies and to psych myself up to begin this project. I wanted it to look great for Colleen's wedding! Fortunately, I gave myself plenty of time and had it finished well before the wedding, so it wasn't high pressure!
The dress fabric is a matte polyester satin in a color called Rose Water from JoAnn. The bodice and skirt lining is a cotton voile which I thought would feel comfier against the skin than the poly dress fabric. The star of the dress is the embroidered 3D flower mesh, which I bought from lacefabricArt on Etsy. I cut the mesh overlay as one piece so it woudln't have side seams. I removed the flowers and beads near the gathered waistband and the seam allowances at the center back. I hand-gathered the satin skirt and overlay together and pressed the gathers before attaching to the bodice to try to get them as even as possible. I left the mesh hem raw and used a horeshair braid (not actually horsehair) in the hem of the satin for a little more body. After hemming the satin, I wished I'd left it a little longer, so I hemmed the skirt lining longer than the satin to give a little more length to the dress under the mesh.
Mae looked so sweet in the dress, and she was so excited to wear it! I even made her a little matching dress for her American girl doll. I thought about making a little hair piece with some of the leftover flowers from the skirt, but the flower crown was so much cuter!!
I'm so happy for Colleen and Bobby and so glad we got to be a part of their special day!

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

girls just wanna have fun

The annual girls’ trip to Chicago was a bit different this year, since we couldn’t find a weekend that worked for everyone; it was just Mom, Kelsey, and me! Mom and I drove up Saturday morning and met Kelsey at her apartment. I hadn’t seen this place yet, since she moved in during COVID and I missed last year’s girls’ weekend. The view is amazing! She’s way up in a high rise with a gorgeous view of Wrigley Field and Lake Michigan! The weather was frigid but beautifully clear for our weekend, so we could see for miles!
We shopped on Saturday, working our way from store to store until an early dinner at Grand Lux. (We got a table in the round room surrounded by all the Christmas lights!) We followed that with dessert at a cute little marshmallow cafe (yes, this is a thing that exists). We tried the s’mores, hot chocolate, and marshmallow turtles (the clear winner, in my opinion!)
Sunday we went to church and then back downtown for a visit to the Christkindlmarket. We ate pretzels and potato pancakes and each picked out a pretty glass ornament. Kelsey got a cute little “bean” with the Chicago skyline, and I got a pickle for Mae! She learned about the tradition of hiding the pickle on the Christmas tree in school last year and will be excited to have our own pickle this year.

Meanwhile back at home, Dan had a busy weekend with the kids. After school Friday, Mae had her first basketball practice followed by a movie night at a friend's house. Dan and Colin went out for dinner and gelato. Colin loved watching the toy train that drives around the burger restaurant!
Saturday, Dan took the kids to breakfast with Santa. Colin is a much bigger fan of Santa this year than last apparently!
I was a little disappointed to miss out on breakfast with Santa, but glad that Dan and the kids had fun things to do while I was away!

Friday, December 2, 2022

little full, lotta sap

For the last 10 years, Dan and I have driven over the river and through the woods and to the parking lot behind the strip club to pick out our Christmas tree. Last year, the prices went way up, so we decided to try a different place. We found a local tree farm that also sells pre-cut trees and drove there fully intending to grab a tree, put it on the car, and drive back home. Well, the precut trees were pretty limited and about twice as expensive as the cut-your-own trees, so we grabbed a saw and cut down a tree for the first time!
Mae and Colin had fun running around in the trees and helping drag ours back to the entrance. We got to watch as they put it on the tree shaker, drilled the hole, and tied it to the car. At checkout they gave us free popcorn and a cute handmade Christmas ornament! Excellent hospitality. On the way home, I asked Mae if she liked the new place or the old Christmas tree place better. She was quite unimpressed with the lack of candy canes at the tree farm. Next year I'll bring my own to keep everyone happy.
We got the tree the Saturday after Thanksgiving. GranE and Batman visited for the holiday. We spent Wednesday and Thursday cooking and eating and playing. Mae had a whole list of activities she wanted to do with them at the house including picnics and fort-building. Friday we went to the zoo and got to see the new baby hippo. So cute! We had a fun visit!

kings island, finally!

After many delays this year due to weather, illness, injury, work schedules, and weather, we finally made it to Kings Island in mid-October! We were especially determined to make it work since we had these matching "Cousin Crew" shirts made and wanted an excuse to for the kids to wear them! (Special thanks to my friend Stacey for making these on relatively short notice.) The bright color helped us keep track of the 5 kids running around... plus they matched the blue ice cream perfectly!
This year Mae rode her first real roller coaster, The Woodstock Express (formerly known as The Beastie.) Waiting in line, she was very excited. As soon as the ride started, she buried her head in Dan's shoulder yelling, "I hate this! I hate this!" But, at the end of the ride, she was all smiles and shouted, "I loved it!" She was even brave enough to ride a second time later in the day!
Colin loved everything he rode, especially the bumper cars ("crash!") and the little train ride. I did have to convince him that Boo Blasters was fun and not "too scary." He has NOT STOPPED TALKING about Kings Island since we left. Every time we are in the car he asks about going. Every time we pretend we are riding on a train or a plane or a boat or a horse we are "going to Kings Island." It clearly left an impression!
Everyone had lots of fun. We took turns splitting into different groups so everyone could ride what they wanted. We finally got to ride the new roller coaster, Orion. I bought an Orion shirt for Kevin almost 3 years ago, thinking we'd be able to ride the coaster shortly after it opened in 2020. Between COVID and other stuff getting in the way, this is the first visit we've had since then! Kevin saved the shirt and finally got to wear it for the first time!
Thanks for a fun trip, Mom and Dad! I'm glad we finally made it work!