Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Making Friends

One of the difficult things about moving to a new city or state or region is making friends. It's part of what I call, creating a life in my new surroundings. I've had to do this many times in my adult life (never as a kid since we lived in the same house all of my life, which I like!) Creating-a-life is easiest when there is something built-in, like college or grad school. It was even easy in Chicago when there was a whole "class" of 15 of us transplants who were recruited to work for the ad agency and move to Chicago. Since we were all new to town, we all hung out and socialized together...at first as a group of 15 and soon we broke off into our own little mini-groups (I just went to a wedding in Austin for a member of my mini-group.) Experiencing difficulties together (like moving to the big city of Chicago and knowing nobody) often builds bonds between people.

But, we don't have anything like that here. in Smalltown Midwest. I'm not in school with a bunch of class mates who are all trying to graduate on time (or just merely passing a tough class). I'm not a part of transplants at my job, most are from the area or at least the state and all know other people. So, that leaves neighbors and parents of our kids' friends.

This weekend was a windfall on the creating-a-life front.

On Friday night, the Rose's, neighbors of ours, invited us over for dinner. We had them over a month ago for dessert and games and they reciprocated with dinner. It was fun. Mrs. Rose made a delicious spinach casserole that I'll be making soon and our boys and their boys had fun playing together.

Last night, we had friends from R's hockey team over. The H's have one boy who is R's age. M and I really like Mr and Mrs H a lot. Their family own three local grocery stores and Mr. H is the wine and produce buyer. We had a lovely time sitting out on the deck while the boys ran and played in the back yard -- just the kind of scene that I imagined when we bought the house. I marinated and M grilled some steak, chicken, and asparagas. It was all good, but the chicken was amazing. I don't know if it was the tasten chipolte marinade or the great grilling, but it was like butter -- smooth and delicious.

When Mr H called to see what to bring, I quickly said a bottle of wine. I'm no fool, he's a wine buyer for goodness sakes! He brought the tastiest 1997 Sirah from Australia (sorry AJ!). It was YUMMY! He also brought a free sample given to him that is the biggest seller in Sam's Wine Warehouse in Chicago. From the looks of M's and Mr H's faces, I could tell that it wasn't so great, so I didn't partake -- I didn't want to ruin the delicious taste of the Sirah. We also opened a third bottle and finished it off. Now, Mrs H only had one glass of wine because she was the designated driver in their family. So the three of us had three bottles! I was feeling juusssttt fiinnee by the time the night was over :>

It was a nice ending to a great three day weekend and a great jump on creating-a-life.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Mom and Dad on thier visit. What a good looking couple! Posted by Hello
R learning to play chess on Gramma Smith's deck. He had so much fun learning from Gramma that we're hunting down the chess board that we have in boxes somewhere around here. Posted by Hello
T shows off his new haircut and new stuffed animal, "Grinnie". Posted by Hello
T before his recent hair cut, with a bouquet of "beautiful flowers for mommie." Posted by Hello

Birds of A Feather

There are lots of cool birds in this state. We have one little bird feeder outside our window and it's amazing the different kinds of birds that we've hosted for a bite to eat. R is really into the birds and wants to know what each one is. I am definitely not a midwestern bird expert, so I bought a book (okay, I bought two books, but who's counting.) The book that we like the most is sorted by colors, so if the bird is mostly grey, you look in the grey section of the book. Pretty cool.

There are some birds that are here all year round and some that only stop by on their migratory path. Next year, I'm going to write the date by the bird in the book so that we'll know when to expect them the next year.

One of the most amazing birds for a California girl to see is the cardinal -- boy are they red! We have a cardinal couple who must live in the woods behind our house. They are both pretty, but the male is absolutely brilliant! He was especially striking against the white snow in the winter. What made me think of writing about birds is this crazy male cardinal. Since it's spring, he's feeling especially territorial (I guess) because he keeps "fighting" the "other male cardinal" he sees in the window. Dope! He keeps raming himself into our windows! He's been doing this for about a month now. He'll even go to different windows and do the same thing....thunk....thunk....thunk....thunk. Eventually he stops for awhile. It's funny...and sad!

Besides this crazy cardinal, here are the other birds that we've seen:
Baltimore Oriole
Yellow FInches
Chicadees (a couple of different kinds)
Robin redbreast
Blue Jay
Lots of different kinds of sparrows
Plus more that I can't think of right now.

Also, I just figured out how to ad the blog address of a blog that I LOVE to read. "The Big Yellow House" on the right side of my blog. Check her out, she's a great writer and very entertaining.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Visit with The Folks

I know, I know. I haven't blogged in FOREVER! But, a lot has happened. Namely, my folks came to town for a nice long visit. We had a lot of fun :> I'll give you some of the highlights now while the boys are taking a bath:
  • Got to show off our new house and yard, which both mom and dad really liked.
  • T had lots of fun coloring with Grammie each morning while R went to school.
  • Went on a road trip to Holland, MI to see the windmills and tulips.
  • Saw a local minor league baseball game and sat in the "expensive" box seats with a waitress and everything -- the seats were onlyl six bucks! Gotta love small towns.
  • Went to the local airplane museum and sat in "every cock pit that was there" according to R. Mom and Dad got a kick at how much the boys know about planes and how M teaches them more and more all the time.
  • Went to a card making workshop with Mom and had some good mother-daughter creative time.
  • Went on a road trip to M's folks house for a really nice visit -- fishing, sand castle building, hammock sitting, board game (Pegs and Jokers) playing, boating, and general laughing, gabbing, and having a good time.
  • Almost 40 games of Pegs and Jokers with me and M against Mom and Dad -- after crushing them one of the nine nights of playing (they blame it on the wine and distraction of doing laundry at the same time) we ended up almost even, but M and I were ahead by two games when they left for the airport. What fun! We were addicted. The *minute* the kids were in bed, we were dealing the cards :>
  • Grammy improvised songs about each of T's stuffed animals, which had him in stiches for twenty minutes.
  • Planting more window boxes with my mom (I have five now and three planters full of flowers -- I think I'm done now!)
  • Just being together as a family.

All in all, it was a really great visit. Too bad I miss them already...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Mother's Day

I had a really nice Mother's Day. It was different than any recent Mother's Day because I wasn't playing ping pong in the MDPPT. I sure missed being with the Burns family! I wasn't sure that I'd enjoy myself because I was a little sad about not being in California. But, I had a really good time.

We headed off to Chicago Grandma's house to spend it with the Smith family. We celebrated on Saturday by going to the zoo and my favorite tapas restaurant. We had taken M's mom there for her big birthday a few years ago and she really liked it, so I thought it would be fun to treat her as part of her present.

It was fun to be with "the uncles" too. R and T always have fun with the uncles! So, Grandma Chicago had three of her four boys there, plus two grand kids. I think that she really enjoyed the day as much as I did.

On Sunday, the uncles and M made a DELICIOUS brunch. They had an egg bake, sausage, baked apple pancake, bagel and lox, and fresh fruit. Yummers! I had three helpings of the the baked apple pancake that Uncle Dan made :>

I got amazing gifts too -- much more than I expected and much more that I should have gotten (but I'm not complaining!). R had told me the day before that he and T had gotten me a ticket to "someplace really cool that I'd love." The "ticket" is a gift certificate for 4 hours at a day spa here in town - manicure, pedicure, facial, and massage. Yahoo! Count me in!

M gave me the sweetest card that made me cry (as usual!) and gave me a ring that made me cry too. He knows the story of how my dad gave my mom an aquamarine ring (her birthstone) when she was 16...and my mom gave me that same ring when I turned 16. Only eight months later I lost the ring at the beach. I thought that I was doing the right thing by taking it off and putting it in my shoe before I went in the water. But 5 hours later when I went to leave the beach, I casually shook the sand out of my shoe and put the shoe on. I had forgotten that the ring was in there!! I went back later, but never found it. As you probably guessed, M gave me a beautiful aquamarine ring. I just love it. It's not the same one that dad gave mom and mom gave me, but it sure is special and reminds me of that ring and my parents' love. M is one special man :>

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Catching Up with the Boys and Patch

It’s been over a week. I only have a minute to blog, so here is the executive summary of the past week:
- Planted the pansies on Saturday – and promptly brought them in the house on Sunday night because of the state-wide freeze warning.

- R is getting in his 6-year old molar…I didn’t know there were 6-year old molars!

- Overheard from R while he was playing playdough with T, “It’s a beautiful sunny day here in playdough land.” (It was raining outside – I like his imagination, or was it wishful thinking?

- Mackinaw is in heat. She’s only 6 months old! She’s wearing a denim doggie diaper around the house.

- Overheard from T the other day, “R stop being so mean to me. That’s not fair. Patch doesn’t like it when you’re mean to me.” (Patch is T’s beloved stuffed puppy, who has gotten quite involved in T’s life lately. Read on for more about Patch,)

- T said to me the other day,
T:“Mom, Patch says that I need to eat more plums.”
I replied, “well, honey, you’ve had two plums with your lunch. That’s enough for today.”
T: “But mom, Patch says I NEED more!”
Me: “Patch isn’t the boss, honey. You’ve had enough plums for one lunch.”
T: sigh, “Mom, Patch IS the boss of my work.”
Me: “I didn’t know you work.”
T: “That’s because you’re not the boss of my work, Patch is.”