Friday, July 31, 2009

We're Home!

We're home. All five of us. I have piles of dirty camp laundry and one very over-tired (yet still ridiculously excited about how much fun she had) camper. But we're all here, happily back home.

Tomorrow birthday preparations start for a certain almost nine-year-old but, in the meantime, a quick respite. Whew!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Last Phase

This entire pregnancy has seemed like it's happening to someone else, in a way. I mean, not physically, of course. I am getting bigger and I can feel my new daughter kicking and squirming, but other than the physical realities that point to the idea that I'm pregnant, it's taken me awhile to wrap my brain around the notion that at the end of this pregnancy there will be a real, live, outside the womb baby. And it's that concept that has felt unreal and unbelievable.

But now I can tell I am getting close to the end. This pregnancy which, in its own weird way, has felt like it was happening to someone else, is feeling more real. I am starting to not only look forward to having my pre-pregnancy body back (or, realistically, some semblance thereof) but I am starting to get excited about the idea of a sweet newborn baby to hug, nurse and kiss.

I will be meeting my newest daughter in about four to six weeks (though, officially, next Thursday marks my thirty-seventh week of pregnancy, full term by most accounts) and while there is still much, much to do, the reality of little baby Caroline's arrival is growing more and more real and, dare I admit, exciting?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Quick Escape

After Joe and I dropped Madeleine off at camp, we treated ourselves to two nights at the Northernaire in Three Lakes, Wisconsin.

Joe had two words in mind when he found out we were headed to northern Wisconsin: supper club. How can I explain the concept of a supper club to those from out of state? Wikipedia does an average job, but still, there are aspects lacking on the Wiki page. And Joe, growing up in northern Wisconsin, is much more adept than I at spotting a real, live Wisconsin supper club. So Sunday night we found a place up in Eagle River that identified itself as a supper club and we both had decent steaks (quintessential supper club fair) and Joe had a whiskey old fashioned and, luckily, the supper club was well situated with a dining room full of windows overlooking one of the area's many lakes.

Monday we explored Three Lakes and Eagle River a bit more on foot but by noon we were out in a 14-foot Mirro Craft with a 25-horsepower outboard motor (in other words a small fishing boat w/one of those motors you steer with your hand, not a steering wheel) exploring the twenty-eight lake chain. We did not make it to all twenty-eight lakes. In fact, I think we only made it to seven or eight of the lakes, but we had such a fun afternoon. Straight away we ran into some loons floating around one of the lakes and they seemed completely unphased by our arrival, no matter how close we got.

Of course we cruised on over to the lake where Madeleine's camp is located and tried to spy on our little girl but, while we saw campers, we didn't see our camper but, still, I was able to snap some shots of the camp from the lake view.

At some point we stopped to eat our sandwiches in one of the lesser-traveled channels though, to be honest, most of the lakes were pretty empty in general.

Later that evening we sampled another supper club, though this one was far and away more the sort of thing I always envision when I hear the term supper club. Maybe that's because, in my mind, I'm still stuck on the idea that supper club=1985, so I'm always a tad disappointed to see the modernization of an old-fashioned supper club. This second supper club was, in all respects, still serving its clientele of the eighties and Joe and I were able to satisfy our supper club craving for the next two, three years (or more!). After that we saw Public Enemies (not very good, but fun since it was filmed in Wisconsin) and then back to our hotel to fall asleep to the sounds of loons out on the lake.

A very peaceful and much needed escape!


Joe and I dropped Madeleine off at camp on Sunday afternoon. Leaving church late Sunday morning we were a jovial threesome (Hank and Elisabeth departed with Grandfather after the conclusion of the service) but by the time we arrived at Madeleine's camp the camper had grown a bit more quiet. She was happy to see her friends. She was excited to spread out her sleeping bag on her bed in her dormitory-style room. And she looked relieved when she met her college-aged, friendly counselor for the week. Yet, still, it was obvious she was a bit apprehensive.

Still, though, the time came for Joe and me to leave. Madeleine gave us two rushed hugs, assuring us that she was going to be fine until pick-up time on Friday. Right now I'm sure she's having a wonderful time swimming, canoeing, hiking and all the rest of it. It's me who is going to have trouble waiting until Friday to see her again and hear how things went.

UPDATE: A letter arrived today from Madeleine. She wrote, "Camp is fun. I love (underlined twice) my counselor." The rest was about strange food that she couldn't identify, but the letter was upbeat and it was clear she's having a fun time. Whew!

Friday, July 24, 2009


A busy next few days loom. Lots of preparations to make as different factions of our family move in different directions for various chunks of time. But, for today, I contemplate pharmacy runs for last minute odds and ends and a sleepover Madeleine has planned tonight with B_____. Today errands and laundry, tomorrow packing and, if there is time, maybe a trip down to Milwaukee's lakefront for the air and water show.

Joe misses out on all of this. Taking a few days off of work means lots of busy days prior. I don't expect to see much, if any, of him in the next few days. I can't decide if it's better to be cooped up in an office for sixteen hours or to be here with three kids doing laundry and running errands. Some days the office wins out, but on busy days like these have been for Joe I feel blessed to be sitting in my living room near an open window with actual real, fresh air filling my lungs and know that no matter what's on my plate today in just a few short days I will escape it all and be somewhere where no laundry or errands await (or kids either, for that matter!).

Thursday, July 23, 2009


When we woke yesterday the kids and I were greeted with a soft drizzle. Not enough to give any relief to parched grass and plants, but enough to cancel Madeleine's tennis lesson and prevent us from going to the pool. We decided to hit the zoo. (Please, please don't judge Hank by his ridiculous taste in eyewear).

Despite my irrational fear of the birds flying free in the aviary, the kids' interest was piqued by the temporary "Wings from Down Under" exhibit that friends recently described where parakeets, cockatiels and various other birds fly free and interact with visitors. I quickly gave my stick of birdseed away to the kids and was happily ignored for the whole of the time with the birds. The kids, however, quickly got over any trepidation they might have had and were delighted with the birds landing all over them.

I have to say, I think this is the best special exhibit I've seen at our zoo, and I would encourage all Milwaukee area folks to get down there to see it before it leaves.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Leave Me Alone!

I've gotten into the habit over the summer of waking up either just before the kids or just as they're waking up. My kids are 8, 6 and 3 (and, since it's relevant to this post, close to being 9, 7 and 4) so I don't think it's too much to ask for them to leave me alone for thirty minutes while I drink my coffee and check my email, check bloglines and surf some news sites, etc.

Apparently, though, some mornings it seems it is too much to ask.

What are you doing, Mom? What's that say, Mom? Can I go on your computer? Mom, I spilled my juice! Mom, what's the weather supposed to be like today? Mom, Mom, MOM!!!!

Don't they realize by now how much calmer and relaxed their mother is when they just leave me alone for that thirty minutes or do they honestly enjoy being parented all day by a cranky mother?

Monday, July 20, 2009


No one in my immediate family loves zucchini, including me. I mean, it's OK, but it's not something I crave in the summer, even when it's fresh. Still, though, we always somehow end up with some fresh zucchini multiple times a summer and I refuse to waste a perfectly good, healthy vegetable, so we eat what we're given and, despite the fact that it's not my favorite, I always appreciate the gift of fresh garden produce.

Last night I prepared it a new way and, I have to say, I've never liked it so well. I sautéed two zucchini in a bit of olive oil with some kosher salt until it was cooked through but still firm. I then threw it into a bowl and tossed with with some freshly ground pepper, freshly squeezed lemon juice (about half a lemon) and some diced scallions. It was quite good and even the kids ate their required portions with minimal fuss.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Church Behavior

Madeleine took it upon herself on the drive to church this morning to verbally instruct Elisabeth how to properly follow along during the service.

OK, Elisabeth, Madeleine began, when everyone stands up, you're going to stand too, OK?

OK, Madeleine, Elisabeth agreed.

And when we pray we bow our heads and fold our hands like this, OK?

OK, said the eager pupil, dutifully folding her hands.

And when Pastor starts his sermon, you daydream like this, Madeleine said as she placed a thoughtful expression on her face and gazed off into the distance.

Hmmm. I think we'll be placing Madeleine on a temporary tutoring suspension.

Friday, July 17, 2009

CBO Report

Long term federal budget outlook: unsustainable.

Hey, I have an idea-- let's create a massive new spending and entitlement program!

I pray sanity will prevail and this awful legislation-- if pushed through at all-- will at least be properly vetted and not jammed through before the August recess. Ugh, ugh, UGH.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Brewer Game

Joe and I like to try and get to Miller Park for a Brewer game at least a few times every season, and now that the kids are older they like to go too. For Father's Day we bought Joe tickets for a Friday night game and we all had a great time tailgating and watching the game from the nosebleed seats along the right field side.

This past Sunday our church hosted its annual Brewer outing, an event we had never attended before for various reasons. I am perfectly happy to watch a Brewer game from the nosebleed seats, but a member of our church works within the Brewer organization and the seats he reserved for us were MUCH more fun than the nosebleed seats. We were literally within shouting distance of Corey Hart and every time a ball was hit towards right field you could see it coming right at you. Here was our view.

Despite the Brewers pathetic play on Sunday, the game was still a lot of fun to watch and cheer. Hank loved following all the high school boys around.

And after the game the kids got to run the bases again, as they are able to do following most (all?) Sunday afternoon games.

Hank after rounding third base.

You can kind of see Madeleine's head poking up here (she's wearing a pink hat).

And Elisabeth running home while grudgingly holding Daddy's hand.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Doctor's Park

Out of all the Lake Michigan beaches I've visited (well, on the Wisconsin side, anyway) I think Doctor's Park in Fox Point is my favorite. It's only minutes north of the city, but it feels so unaffected and pristine once you made the hike down to the beach from the parking lot above. And on a day like yesterday, with a soft breeze coming in off the lake and good friends to chat and play with, it was the perfect spot to spend an afternoon.

Here is Elisabeth digging in the sand with a friend.

Madeleine with two of the three girls she'll be attending camp with in just a few weeks. The third girl came down to play later too, but I forgot to snap a picture--rats!

Hank had a ball on the-- what are they?--piers? breaker walls? The mass of kids enjoyed seeing how nimbly they could jump from one rock to the next and, of course, loved jumping in the water.

And as an added bonus for the first time ever I made the trip both down AND up without pushing a child in a stroller or carrying a child! I know it was only a temporary reprieve but, still, I appreciated the break.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Independence Day 2009

OK, so we celebrated Independence Day what, two weeks ago? Yes, I'm just getting around to posting pictures now. I'm going to blame my tardiness on the fact that we've been (or at least felt) unusually busy.

We started out the day as we usually do with the kids and me sleeping while Joe ran up to reserve a good spot for the parade and, as usual, he scored a great spot which was easily able to accommodate family and friends. Prior to leaving for the 11:30 a.m. parade, some of the neighborhood kids occupied themselves by decorating their bikes and riding up and down the sidewalk yelling (which, actually, aside from the American flags, isn't a whole lot different than what they do every other day).

After the parade family (Dad and Diana with Cloence and Blake joining us later) and friends headed back to our house for a cold salad and sandwich spread that included this seriously fantastic pasta salad that I copied from the Pioneer Woman. Try it. It's just fantastic.

Another shot of the food, this time trying to get a side view of my pregnant belly. Before you say, "Oh wow, you look so small!" let me just forewarn you that that comment grates on my nerves like no other. Yes, I'm tall. Yes, I carry my babies up and down more than out. For what it's worth, my belly is measuring larger than the weeks I am pregnant. Bottom line is, I may not look as big as you thought you did at this point (caveat: if you carried multiples, you win), but I can't breathe, walk or go more than sixty minutes without going to the bathroom so, trust you me, I am plenty big for this stage of pregnancy (33 weeks).

After we ate we sat outside chatting for hours while the kids played happily and quietly for just as long (a 4th of July miracle!) until about 7 p.m. when we headed to a local park to watch the fireworks. Dad had brought up sparklers for the kids so they entertained themselves with those for awhile as we waited until 9:30 for the show to start.

We finally got home from the fireworks around 10:45 p.m. Even Madeleine, who never admits fatigue, confessed that she was pretty tired so all three kids went right to bed, as did all two remaining adults and all felt satisfied at the end of the day that it had been another great Independence Day.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Question: What is fun about fun size candy bars?

Answer: Nothing. Absolutely nothing, especially when you're craving a serious sugar fix.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Book Recommendations

I'm doing some belated birthday shopping on Amazon, thanks to generous birthday gifts from Bob and Alex. In addition to some non-book items I'm interested in, I also confess I do love to have a pile of brand spanking new books waiting to be read that no one else has thumbed through, creased or otherwise left their mark (yes, yes, I know I have issues, but I figure if inhaling the smell of a brand new book is quirky, then I'll embrace the weirdness).

So, recommend away. What should I order? Some are some recent good reads? Or a favorite book that everyone should read?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Birthday Parties

Today a neighbor friend celebrated his third birthday. Instead of a full-blown bash with party favors, presents and organized games, kids of all ages congregated in the birthday honoree's backyard to sing to the birthday boy, watch him blow out his candles and, amongst themselves, organized a few impromptu games of Duck, Duck Goose and a few other games I wasn't familiar with. The kids happily ate their cake and drank their juice while the grown-ups chased newly toddling toddlers and chatted. Start to finish the party lasted about an hour. And you know what? No one missed the party favors. The mother was happy to have only a few homemade cards to deal with instead of piles of toys that would be forgotten tomorrow. Every child there was happy and smiling and had a fantastic time.

It's nice to be reminded sometimes of how nice and enjoyable simple can be.