Monday, May 19, 2014

chicago & the cubs.

We wrote a bucket list upon moving to Michigan, and downtown Chicago was on it. Our time here is ticking away, and we knew Chris's dissertation was about to heat up, so in March we took the plunge and headed to the "big city". We went during Grandma's spring break, and she joined us. It turned out to be the best decision ever, because taking three very small children to one very large city when you are not city people requires a one-on-one ratio. And we like hanging out with Grandma whenever we get the chance.

We headed to Chicago and visited great-grandma, Baga. We stayed at a hotel and swam the night away. The next morning we hopped on a train to downtown.

Our main objective was Shedd Aquarium. We enjoyed the endless fish, whales, giant crabs, turtles, and sharks. We didn't enjoy the insane amount of people. Quinn is obsessed with labeling things "baby", "mommy", and "daddy" (small, medium, and large) so she kept squealing "dada wish!" "bebe wish!". It was outrageously adorable. Carly still talks about the huge spider crab. John, the social kid, mostly tried to join total stranger's families. At one point a family was sitting all together and he went over and put his hand on the dad's shoulder and took a seat. I dare say the high point for the kids was when Grandma bought them over-priced souvenirs. Carly got a blue baby seal, Quinn a pink sparkly sea turtle (naturally) we named Tutu, and after looking extensively at all the stuffed animals, John settled on . . . a pair of binoculars. And you want to know just how brilliant my firstborn is? We were thinking up a name for her new seal. "How about Cecelia?" she suggested. I was kind of surprised. "Um, sure, that is a fancy name for a fancy seal." "No," she said. "Its Cecelia like "Ce-SEAL-ia." That, my friends, is one clever 4-year-old. 

After the aquarium we walked up Lake Michigan to Millennium Park. John and Quinn completely zonked as we walked through the city. John missed the Bean all together the first day, but when he saw it the next morning he declared "Space!" He's pretty spot on with that description; it could easily be from outer space. That evening while everyone else went to bed, Chris and I went out on the town, wandering for hours doing nothing in particular but enjoying each other and the sights.

We aren't exactly city slickers. I'm sure we looked like quite the production to the city-dwellers surrounding us, but while we had so much fun, by the trip's end I was longing for openness and quiet. Kudos to people who love cities. I'll remain a not-so-frequent visitor.

[We found the lions! I have always wanted to see them in real life.]

While we visited Baga during our March trip, Chris's mom got an email from his uncle (who lives and works in Chicago) saying he bought Cubs tickets at an auction. As a Sox fan, he'd never step foot in Wrigley, so he offered us the tickets. We had been in discussions of our own to go to Wrigley before we moved, but there was only one weekend that would work: Easter weekend. Not to mention how expensive tickets are for games at Wrigley. So we decided to forget it. It just so happened that the tickets Chris's uncle were offering were for the day before Easter. It was fate. We couldn't say no.

This time it was a 24 hour run to the "big city". Chris parents were wonderful and offered to watch the twins at Baga's house, and we took our big girl to experience Wrigley Field and daddy's beloved Chicago Cubs.

As it turns out, we need to take the girl to Vegas, because she is pretty lucky. She got a batting practice baseball thrown to her. Then, while she and I were walking the halls to ward off restlessness, an official looking woman stopped us and chatted with us, then gave Carly an official commemorative ball. It is Wrigley Field's 100th anniversary, and the ball was printed with the 100th anniversary logo and the day's game information. She said, "Mr Ricketts hands out only 10 balls each game." Not too shabby. She also enjoyed an over-priced hotdog in true ballpark fashion, got a teddy she appropriately named "Baseball", and cheered the Cubs to three home runs and a victory (possibly the luckiest part of all).

Chris's cousin, Cody, took the fourth ticket and met us at the game (despite being a Sox fan herself). It was fun to hang out with her. Unfortunately, a 4-year-old at a long (cold) baseball game has mixed results, and Carly's attention was somewhat limited. But I'd say all-in-all we had a great day at Wrigley Field.

So we made it to downtown and the aquarium and we made it to Wrigley. It was nice to squeeze in some fun with daddy, since our summer looks rather void of daddy fun. Chicago really is a beautiful place and I'm glad we got to enjoy the big city.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

just some things.

[55 degrees outside so we decide to get ice cream in sandals. #desperate]

I don't blog the way I once did. There are all sorts of reasons for this. Like how at the end of the day I have an hour of cleaning to do, and then I want to collapse and watch tv. Or fold an hour of laundry. Like how I've recently decided to read for enjoyment again, and I have read two books in the last few weeks. This isn't a lot for you hardcore readers, but it has been nice for me. The real answer, however, is I tried to watch season 3 of Scandal illegally on my computer and instead our computer has been taken over by all sorts of awful pop-ups and advertisements. Just opening the dang thing is near unbearable. You wouldn't believe how many windows I had to close just to be with you here tonight. You're welcome.

But life is chugging along. Despite the calendar claiming it is May, the weather remains too cold. Well, in March I would have been cheering 50 degrees. Not so much in May. We do get some warmth here and there, though the wind remains rather cold. Yay for Michigan, where warm days are chilly.

We have been having some adventures and have celebrated some occasions, but here I'll talk about all the other stuff. Because one day the little things will be the big things (or so I'm told).

[no bike for John, my finest French braiding ever, classy Wednesday, twin story time]

Quinn is obsessed with her butt. And while her little bum in quite cute, the "butt" in question is actually her bike. She just can't quite pronounce it right, and I kind of hope she never does. She can't pedal, but she likes to wear her helmet and just sit on it. Every once in a while Carly or I will take her for a ride, but she really just likes to sit. It is the best. John, poor child, does not have a "butt" of his own, since he doesn't have a big brother to pass one down to him, but Carly is good about sharing hers. The duo will just sit on the butts, looking at each other happily and thinking they are pretty dang cool.

 [Classy Quinn and Free-spirited Carly: their outfits speak a thousand words.]

We've pretty much been ailing for a month and a half. After Carly's cray cray rash, we got a call saying she also had a UTI, which explained a lot. She went on amoxicillin. A week later she woke up with red bumps all over her legs and arms. We were terrified she had bugbeds. Luckily, the following day Quinn had a doctor's appointment, so I stuck Carly's limbs in front of his face to get a two-for-one and, alas, it was the tell-tale sign of being allergic amoxicillin. Cheers for no bedbugs. Now the magnificent trio has reverted back to deep coughs snotty noses. C'est la vie.

Chris's semester ended and he completed 4 successful years teaching undergraduate classes at State. The dissertation is heating up, however, and we are slowly getting used to less and less (and less) of daddy being around. Chris struggles with not being around; he's a good daddy. Days are long, and will only get longer, but we try to keep our eyes on the prize. 

For some insane reason I thought t-ball would be a good idea right about now. We've only had a few practices, but I've already decided to only show up if my sanity will be intact. It is so cute to see such tiny people out there "playing" baseball. Yesterday Carly spent quite a bit of time twirling. But she sure can knock that ball hard off the tee. And she has the most perfect stance. Her daddy has taught her well.

[shagging balls with daddy while big sis takes a swing.]

We cut out naps last month, and as crazy as it sounds, my life is entirely more enjoyable. I was spending forever every day trying to get them to nap. They finally would too late, then they wouldn't go to bed until 9 or 10 at night. And Chris had to rock John to sleep every night. It was getting crazy. I didn't want to stop, mostly for Carly's sake. I knew she cherished our one-on-one time, and that is still something we haven't found a way to replace. But I went through with it anyway. I love that we can now have lazy mornings instead of rushing out the door so we can be back for naps. We hang out in the morning, get out in late morning/early afternoon. And bedtime (typically) is nice and early. Granted, this only works because they wake up at about 8 every morning. They inherited their mother's appreciation for sleep.

[cutting naptime has led to Q zonking out in some delightful ways.]

Quinn and John are quite the little duo. It is weird to me when they act like twins. I think of them so much as two different kids, because of their highly contrasting personalities, that when they do something twin-esque I think, weird, they are twins. They have been teaming up to cause chaos more, playing more, fighting more. They are sweet though. Quinn likes to make sure John is ok. If I'm doing something for her she'll ask, "John Boy?" They are funny. They were evaluated twice for speech therapy. They are more than 50% delayed in speech, but they actually tested quite a bit ahead in motor abilities and cognitive comprehension. They know what's going on, and they'll do what you tell them to, they just don't talk. They ended up not qualifying for the program because of that. It is good, but it would be nice to be able to communicate with them better. The contrast between them and Carly at this age is staggering. But every kid is different, and they have made a lot of progress even since they were evaluated. Between noises and a few word combinations, I usually can figure out what they want.

[I take 3 times as many pictures of Q than her siblings because her cuteness to psychotic ratio is the most favorable.]

Carly Carly. The girl is crazy. She is currently experiencing a bout of 16-year-old attitude. "You never want to help me!" "You always say I can't do things!" Wait, what? What year is it? But she's as good as they come. Still just loving school. We've decided to put her in Kindergarten. I just can't imagine holding her back one second longer, let alone a whole year. She'll thrive. And she'll be young, and we'll work with it. But she is so ready.

She has been really in to "projects" lately. We got a package in a big white box and she immediately claimed it as a canvas. She was drawing away on it, then it was bedtime. Chris and I looked at it after she had gone to sleep, and I really admired it. It was a monster: eyes, big square teeth, pointy little legs, squiggles all over his body. Carly had never branched out in her drawing like that, and I was impressed. The next morning I held it up and said, "I just love your little monster! I think he is so awesome!" She looked highly confused. She took it, flipped it upside down and said, "But mom, its not a monster, its an ice palace." The little legs were actually the flags, the teeth were windows, eyes were doors, and the squiggles were sparkling ice. Of course. I laughed all day about that one. She didn't quite think outside her normal box, but she sure can draw an ice palace.

[left: monster. right: ice palace.]

As for me, I keep thinking I'll give up sugar, but then I remember my job is hard and sugar tastes good. So I've been trying to cut back. I instituted "tasty Tuesday" and "sweet Saturday" to try to limit my dessert consumption to twice a week. We've seen mixed results. I'm an advocate of all things in moderation and not cutting anything all the way out of my diet (except gluten, for obvious reasons), but the sugar was getting a bit out of control. I'd get the shakes after putting the kids down, my very own version of Pavlov's dogs. We eat pretty healthy otherwise, so here's to trying a little harder to do a little better (except on Tuesday and Saturday).

I've also started the great purge. I basically don't want to take any of our belongings to Pullman. If we could afford it, I'd leave it all and start fresh. We've been living the poor student high life and have very little of actual value (other than our children, of course; and our tv). So I'm Goodwilling and throwing away and selling here and there. It is early, but I have three kids to keep alive and 4 years of life to clean out, so I figure if I start early I'll only be a little insane come crunch time. I had a house in Pullman that was MY house. I was painting it and decorating it in my head and imagining my kids coming home from school and hanging their backpacks on the cute hooks I was going to hang by the door. Someone bought it. Not us, someone else. Apparently it wasn't my house at all, but that doesn't mean I can't egg it when we do go to Pullman to house hunt.

[one morning began with three crazy kitties in my bed.]

There you go.
We're crazy and life is good.