8 months

That’s how long it’s been since I’ve blogged on here. 8 freaking months. It’s been on my mind. What am I going to do with this place? Ditch it? Reclaim it? Reinvent it? There have been so many other priorities during this time, I just couldn’t even go there.

Today something happened. Actually two things.

The first was on the school drop-off trek. Oskar asked, “What ever happened to that book you were making about Abel and Oskar as babies?” Yah, that book. The first year blog book. Never mind that I’ve procrastinated that one to death. At least I have a complete account of their first year on the blog! The guilt hit me like a ton of bricks. I have virtually nothing on their 4th and 5th years. Turning five. Starting to read. The caterpillar obsession. Going down a water slide for the first time. Catching their first fish. Then the regret hit me like a second ton of bricks.

Because the universe is amazing, my second sign was a post from my friend Laura. I admire Laura for so many reasons, too many to list here. One of them is her commitment to her blog. She writes 5 days a week. I love how she keeps it simple, concise, a few (always gorgeous) photos, and totally real. But today she was questioning whether or not she should go on as a blogger. I gasped! How could she not go on?

How could I not go on?

So thanks, universe, for getting my ass in gear. For helping me recommit to this place. I want to do this for my boys, so they can have a little glimpse of their (our) lives through my eyes. I want to do this for myself, so I can have an outlet, along with lots of memories to come back to.

Oh, and that first time down the water slide? Well, thank god for the iphone.

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The Name Game – The Preschool Gender Edition

Names are keeping us really entertained these days. Every night at dinner, the boys tell us about their school day and all the friends they played with. Having the boys in separate classrooms, we really hear an earful about all the kids in their classes. After several weeks of making horribly wrong assumptions about the gender identities of these kids after hearing their names, we now ask if said child is a boy or girl before further discussion.

Either we are horribly behind the times, or parents these days are really pushing the boundaries. Maybe it’s a little bit of both, but here’s a little quiz to test where you fall on the spectrum.

1. Emmerson
2. Dylan
3. June
4. Zoe
5. Finley

I realize many of these are unisex, but I honestly can’t believe that we failed to correctly identify the gender of ANY of these kids, based on their names. Which in the grand scheme of things, maybe is a good thing!

So…how’d you do?

Answers: 1. Girl 2. Girl 3. Boy 4. Boy 5. Girl

Posted in Preschool, things they say | 2 Comments

Technicolor Trip

Have you ever had your senses jolted awake? Like you’d been living in some dulled out version of reality and then all of a sudden things come alive, colors and textures pop, the air is pungent and the cool breeze sends the hairs on your arms dancing?

That’s what happened to me on our recent trip to Chicago. It was like going from black and white (or rather the brown and yellow that dominates Austin right now) to technicolor. Driving to my parents house from the airport had me dizzy – the greens on the foliage and grass were so bright, textures so lush. You could even smell the green! It was such a sight for sore eyes and it set the tone for our trip – every day was so rich and vibrant and full of new and fun and life. It was exactly what we needed.

There was not one moment that outshone the other. Every day and activity was a highlight. Thinking back on everything we did, I am astounded. It never felt rushed or busy or exhausting, however. There was a good balance between time spent just the four of us, time spent with grandparents, time spent with best friends and even special anniversary time spent just with my husband of now seven years. So here’s the rundown:

  • Swam in neighbor’s and friends pools in the brisk 80 degree weather
  • Explored the sublime Chicago Botanic Garden’s with Dana and her sweet boys, Jake and Ben

  • Flew kites and romped around the tree houses in Barrington
  • Rode in a taxi on four separate occasions without car seats (taxi’s were the hit of the trip)
  • Spent a rare day with just my best friend, Brandy, hanging in the modern wing of the Art Institute and cocktails at the Trump Terrace (wowsa!)

  • Rode the Metra on three occasions to and from the city (Abel could live on the Metra if we let him)
  • Leisure rode the Brown Line
  • Snuck into Cafe Brauer with the boys (where we were married) the day before our anniversary

  • Meandered through Lincoln Park and the brilliant and FREE Lincoln Park Zoo
  • Ate lunch at the Choo-Choo Dinner, a major hit where a little electric train delivers your food (and apparently has some of the best apple pie in the midwest)

  • Had a three generation mani-pedi party! (the boys each chose, appropriately enough, silver polish)
  • Toured the Long Grove Chocolate Factory and had an on-the-house shopping spree in the outlet (thanks to my mom’s boss, Mr. Mangel!)
  • Watched a magical rendition of Pinocchio by the Chicago Shakespeare Theater
  • Strolled along Navy Pier, mesmerized by magicians and jugglers, and tried cotton candy for the first time
  • Fearlessly went to the top of the Sears Tower (I refuse to call it by its new name) and out onto the plexiglass projecting skydeck

  • Survived the crowds at the Field Museum during a torrential late morning shower
  • Watched the air show with aunt Brandy and uncle E.D. and 2 million other people at North Avenue Beach

  • Swam in Lake Michigan
  • Explored every nook and cranny of Millennium Park, at which time Abel renamed the mirrored bean, “The Cashew”

  • Played family tennis in lee-lee and papa’s driveway

  • Romped around the Kohl’s Childrens Museum, where the boys delighted in painting their faces for the first time (best children’s museum EVER!)

  • Connected with nature, history and spectacularly odd animals at the River Trail Nature Center and The Grove in Glenview (both are FREE!)

  • Ate at our favorite Indian place (Hema’s) and drank Goose Island’s special Belgium Brew, aptly named Matilda (our dog!)
  • Cherished the time we spent with my parents, best friends and long-time family friends and neighbors
  • Ate deep dish pizza more times than I care to admit
  • Spent the day at Santa’s Village, where the boys rode their first roller coaster, and every other ride at least 20 times each (this was the cleanest, best-staffed amusement park for kids I have ever witnessed)

Ten days in Chicago, there it is. I am overwhelmed recounting everything we did (and I even left many things off!), but it was truly one of the best trips we have ever taken. It also gave me a renewed optimism on our families’ traveling future. Before the boys were born, I dreamed of the family trips we would take. Brazil and Argentina, eastern Europe, Turkey, China. All over the U.S.A. of course. The sky was the limit. Or course, infants and toddlers times two puts a quick cramp in your visions of traveling! But now the boys are the perfect age. At 4, they are little adventurers. They are game for anything and everything. They were equally at comfort in the city and the country. They rarely tired but slept like the dead in unfamiliar places. It was brilliant. And they LOVED being in their Lee-Lee and Papa Rick’s home, the home I grew up in. The time they got to spend with their grandparents, exploring their home turf, was irreplaceable.

We came back feeling rejuvenated, full of life and and so excited about traveling again. Thanks mom and dad for making our time with y’all so special. We will be back again soon!

Posted in grandparents, vacation | 2 Comments

S is for Scorching Summer Swimmers

It is literally an inferno here. Today was, I believe, the 74th consecutive day of triple digits. Sunday was 112. Today was 107. And there is no end in sight.

Thankfully, we were able to escape the heat for a good 10 days this month. Where did we go? The beautiful and mild Midwestern metropolis of Chicago! We had UNBELIEVABLE weather. Almost every day was no hotter than 80. There were nice breezes. Not a cloud in the sky.

It was heaven.

And the boys got to show off their newly acquired swimming skills. Because it has been so flipping hot here, we have literally been at the pool 3-4 times a week. It has been a matter of survival. Add to that once a week, 30 minutes a pop, swimming lessons with Mr. Gus. Honestly, if you would have told me my kids could be doing this at the beginning of the summer, I’d have busted my gut laughing. Both kids would barely let us wash their hair in the bathtub, let alone swim with their faces in the water. I thought we had a long haul in the learning to swim department, but man did they turn a fast corner! Only after 3 lessons, Abel was making huge strides. Oz wasn’t far behind. After the seventh lesson, something just clicked for both of them. And when it clicked, there was no stopping them! They gleefully packed their swimsuits and goggles hoping to show lee-lee and papa how they could swim like the big boys, and they did not disappoint. Witness our bonafide swimmers:

P.S. It was about 82 degrees this day and the boys were COLD. HA!

P.S.S. Don’t worry, a full recap of our vacay with plenty o’ photos is coming your way soon.

Posted in abel, milestones, vacation, video | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Back to School

We’ve had our share of school drama and changes. Here’s a little timeline to put things in perspective:

2 – 3.3 years old: The Era of Stability. The boys were at a fantastic Montessori (5 days a week, 9-3), close to our house, on my way to work. We loved this place. Except when we moved and all of a sudden I had an hour-and-a-half commute on my days off. Time SO NOT well spent.

3.3 – 3.6 years old: The Era of Deceit. Switched the boys to a Montessori within walking distance of our new house (5 days a week, 8:30-noon). Walked them in the BOB almost every day, past goat pastures, even in the scorching 100 degree heat. Didn’t make up for the director of the school LYING to me and deliberately deceiving me over, of all things, pizza Wednesday (I laugh now). Also didn’t make up for the roller coaster ride of separating the boys into different classrooms, reuniting them after a month (because of “low enrollment”), and then two months later, wanting to separate them again.  Also didn’t make up for two of their teachers leaving in the 3 months we were there. See ya’…wouldn’t want to be ‘ya.

3.6 – 4.5 years old: The Era of Fun…and Exhausted Mom. Switched the boys to a 2-day a week, 9-1 bilingual arts and dance preschool. Can’t say enough great things about this place. It’s just like a big family speaking lots of Spanish and having lots of fun. The boys learned how to tap, tumble, do yoga and ballet. They brought home killer art projects every time. But going from every day Montessori to twice weekly preschool left me completely frazzled. When I wasn’t at my part-time job, I was taking care of the boys. Because I couldn’t get all my hours in the office, I’d work during their “nap time” and in the evenings. This past year there has been no time for me. And thank god for Jordan’s mom, Nancy, who watched the boys all day Monday so I could be in the office for a solid day. We couldn’t have made this work without her. On the plus side, I actually got two weekdays with the boys all to myself. We’ve really had a blast, especially this summer with LOTS of time at the pool, the beach, tennis lessons and play dates with friends.

Oz and best friend Matthew at the lake

So it is with so much excitement that the boys start orientation at their new Montessori school this Monday. It’s a very unique place – 16 acres of wooded land, with “rustic” classrooms interspersed around the campus. Each class has their own garden to cultivate. The kids take care of the donkey, the goat, chickens and bunnies. There are trails and mazes and even a grassy “hill” for the kids to climb and play on. They’ve modeled their outdoor curricula, if you can call it that, on Richard Louve’s “Last Child in the Woods.” I swooned a bit when I heard these words uttered from the director’s mouth! It’s all about giving the kids the freedom and space to be immersed in nature on their own terms – one of the reasons we moved out to the woods two years ago.

The boys will be in separate classes, which couldn’t be more timely. They are just ready for some space. Their classrooms are different but equally lovely. Their teachers made a fantastic impression on us all at the open house last Thursday. Oskar’s teacher is young and dynamic and full of energy and fun. Abel’s teacher is warm and engaging and has the most grounded temperament I’ve ever experienced. They couldn’t have picked better teachers for my kids different personalities. It was so nice to go to the school last week with the boys and let them explore the grounds, meet their teachers and check out their classrooms. We visited each class as a family, so the boys would know exactly where each other would be.

Abel working with Q-tips at the polishing station.

Monday and Tuesday are orientation days, where I’ll drop them off from 8:30 – 10:30 and they will be with 5 other new classmates. School officially starts on the 15th, but we’ll be in Chicago, so the boys won’t start until August 29. They’ll be there M-F from 8:30 – 2:30, giving me the perfect amount of time to go to work AND have a day or so to myself. I’m hoping this new school will usher in a new era, maybe one of balance, content, or dare I say bliss. Back to school…I say, “bring it!”

kings of the hill on the grassy mound

Posted in Preschool, twin relationship | Tagged , | 1 Comment