Monday, May 31, 2010

Ben and Max's Hideouts

Last week Ben disappeared for an hour or so and came out to tell us he made a hideout in his closet. He made a little desk/writing area, displayed his favorite books, and has a sitting area. I love watching our kids become autonomous and independent thinkers. Ben helped Max create a fort in his closet too. Max is happiest when everyone is involved in a project together and there is sibling peace and harmony.

First Weekend at Chautauqua 2010

We went to Chautauqua for the first time this season with the kids. It was fun showing them what we had done to the cottage over the winter. Ben was visually impressed by all the improvements. Max thought it looked nice but was bummed out that the Indian Giver and Pink Geranium were not open. Maura didn't remember anything from last year so she walked in and said, "This is my new house?! Where is my room?!"
Maura loved the creek and it is going to be a challenge keeping her from running off with the boys this summer. She is two but thinks she is at least five. In most ways this summer is going to be much easier than the past few since Maura is older. However, keeping Maura contained with me will be tough.
There were a few kids there this weekend which was great for the boys. Once the season starts it will be nice getting into our groove there. Maura was pretty high maintenance this weekend and it didn't help that she started with another cough so she wasn't sleeping so well. The boys were mostly happy but our family as a whole is much more even when our routine is consistent. We are in transition right now with ending school and starting summer. So I have to remind myself that it will take a few weeks for everyone to get emotionally calibrated to summer.

MerryGoRound at the park.

First frog caught this season.

Food Blogs

Some of my favorite blogs are food and health blogs. One of my favorite parts of these blogs are the pictures. I think if I made sure the food I ate at each meal looked appealing enough to take a picture of it, it would be easy to eat healthfully most of the time.

Coffee and oatmeal (with walnuts and maple syrup)

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Frogmore Stew Two

This is the piece Amy made for our kitchen at Chautauqua. She made "Frogmore Stew" a few years ago and I loved it but a friend of hers bought it before I had a chance. I told her we wanted to commision her to make one for the cottage which she did last year. We painted the wall in the kitchen blue to accent the picture. I LOVE IT! It is another way our cottage finally feels like ours.

Watercolor Society Art Show

Kate, Amy, and I went to the St. Louis Watercolor Society Art Show a couple of weeks ago at Creative Art Gallery ( South STL. Amy had her piece "Lady in Waiting" in the show. A collector bought it! She was very excited to have someone she doesn't know admire and buy her work, very exciting! Margie and Dave also bought one of her pieces which Amy was having framed by the art studio. She spent some time picking out just the right frame for that and for another piece she is entering into another show in Chesterfield next month. That one is a watercolor of a zebra- it is beautiful. It is fun having an "artist" in the family.

"Lady in Waiting"

There were a lot of great pieces in the show. My favorites were ones done on massa paper. Amy has made notecards using this process. I think she uses water colors in spray bottles and sprays the colors onto the massa paper.
Here is one by another artist from the show. I told Kate I wanted to take the pictures and she told me to do it and not ask for permission- I love that woman!

Here is another piece I loved.

After the show we went to Cafe Stellina ( for lunch. This was a recommendation of Pauls. It is a very cute resteraunt- great atmosphere, great food. I had a fabulous mediterranian veggie sandwhich with a brocolli salad, yum! I love these "art" days with Amy and Kate.

Iced Latte

A Starbucks Iced Latte makes my morning a little bit brighter :)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


We have the best dog in the world. We got her from the St. Charles Humane Society when she was three months old. She was the only black dog in the litter. She got to be our baby until we started having babies which was a year later. And she has been nothing but a loving sweetheart as she makes her way further down the foodchain. She willingly accepts her place and only gets pushy when it is thunderstorming or we are packing to go to Chautauqua. During those times she quickly sneaks into the car and refuses to get out unless we are getting out to go inside too. On the thunderstorm days the carpool kids know to expect her in the car. One day a few weeks ago Charlie was still home so she didn't sneak in the car with us. The first thing Nick said was "It is storming, where is Molly?". We've noticed over the past few weeks that she is transitioning from middle age dog to older dog. Her bladder has always been incredible. She would wait until 10-11 in the morning to go out to the bathroom especially if it was raining. Lately she has been waking us up at 3-4am to be let out. But other than that she is her sweet, loving girl, happy to be outside with the family and enjoying a warm breeze and the sun on her back.

Maura's Preschool Program

Charlie's caption "Hmmm, what cookie should I pick after the show, chocolate, iced, sprinkles?!"
Maura had her end of the year preschool program today. The two year olds didn't come out at the beginning which was good because there were many, many songs. They brought them out about half way through. I got to hear in completion all the songs she has been singing for the past two months. It was particularly nice hearing there are more words to "Going to the zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow, zoo tomorrow". Maura will sing that one over and over and over. She loved being up on stage and singing her heart out. She and Audrey stood next to one another holding hands through most of the performance. She is going to be missing school in a matter of days! I'm praying they let her do Playschool at Chautuaqua even though she is only 2. If they don't she will surely find a way to crash playschool on a daily basis. She was already doing that last summer. Every day at snack time we found our way down there and she helped herself to a chair ready for her snack and popsicle.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pneumonia Again!

This winter Maura kept getting pneumonia. So we ended up taking her to a pediatric pulminologist who said he thought she probably had asthma induced pneumonia. He put her on singulair and Qvar. Since then she had not gotten pneumonia until yesterday. Friday afternoon she started getting sick and by the middle of the night on Friday I had a feeling it was bad enough to possibly be pneumonia. I took her into the Dr. Dr. McKinney was not there so we saw Dr. Pulito. She said Maura has croup but didn't hear pneumonia in her chest but to be safe wanted her to get a chest xray. We are very familiar with the drill but she was so tired from sleeping so little the night before I wasn't sure how she was going to roll with it. She did great and the xray showed pneumonia. So she is on a steroid for the croup and an antibiotic for the pneumonia. I am so frustrated that she got it again. I'll need to make an appointment with the pulminologist to try to figure this out. The timing was crummy too because our Bookclub overnight had been scheduled for months. Charlie was planning on taking the boys camping with the Sadlos and Ryans while my mom watched Maura. Charlie was cool about canceling their camping trip so he could be home with Maura. I think he was pretty bummed about missing it because it was a chance to catch up with John and John. Hopefully a sailing thing can be put in place sometime soon.

Bookclub Overnight

Last night we had our overnight bookclub at Chautuaqua. Lots of wine, good food, great conversations and belly aching laughing. Our bookclub is more about talking and drinking wine than reading the book but over the years we have read some really great books too. We have been together for over ten years. We are all pretty different from one another but our core beliefs and values are all very similar- liberal and socially minded. That is probably why we've stayed together for so many years.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Maura's Boots

Maura loves her boots. She puts them on and she is empowered. If her boots are on and the camera is out she starts posing for pictures.

Kindergarten Jackson Pollock

For the Cbay auction Mrs. Cooney had the Kindergartener's make a "Jackson Pollock" piece. We bid and were outbid. Mrs. Cooney offered to have the Kindergarteners make additional pieces for all those who bid. So we bought one which will go in Max's room. He is very proud of it and has decided just where it should go- where he can see if from laying in his bed.

Max's Kindergarten Graduation

This morning started out rough. Max climbed into our bed a little before six. He was all smiles and giggles at first. But then reality started to sink in and he was realizing this was the end of his Kindergarten year. He LOVES school, he LOVES Mrs. Drabelle, and he HATES change particularly when emotions are involved. It was time to put on dress clothes for the performance and he lost it. I seriously didn't know if he was going to be ready by the time carpool showed up. After trying all sorts of reasoning and negotiations and threats I finally just said, "Max are you sad that this is your last day of Kindergarten?" The tears really started coming and he said "Mom, I don't want to go to 1st grade, I want to stay in Kindergarten forever". After a long hug and me promising to bring comfy clothes for him to change into after the performance he agreed and got dressed.
The performance was so cute- lots of songs and all the kids did a great job with their lines. We had punch and cookies afterward and then went bowling afterward. On the way home from bowling Max said "Mom, I'm sorry about this morning". He has a sensitive heart. I love that boy.

Build A Bear

I took Maura to Build A Bear for the first time yesterday. She was so cute about the whole thing. We walked in and she slowly walked down the isle of bins with bears. When she came to the pink bear she picked it up and hugged it so tight. I think she was a little sad when the stuffing was put inside. She said she liked it little instead of bigger. But when we got home it was all love- she crawled into bed for her nap with "Rainbow" and then picked up her little pink bear and said, "Mommy, they match, like you and me". Little moments like that make being a mom the best thing in my life.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Camera

For this blog I bought a cheap, $25 digital camera so I could keep a camera in my purse that runs on batteries. Unfortunately, the camera took terrible pictures and the flash pretty much didn't work. So I found a camera on Craig's List for $45 and it works great. It is bigger than I'd like but I figure if I really use it all the time and feel commited to the blog I can sell this one on Craig's List and get a smaller one down the road.
Here's the first picture I took with it (much clearer than the other blog pics I've taken!)

Max: Block Building

Max has really gotten into building with blocks again since I brought them back upstairs. He has made some really creative designs. He is also very patient with Maura who seems more interested in knocking them down than building with them. When I started writing this Max and Ben started building again. He is currently making a Phoenix.

Ben: How to Train Your Dragon

Ben's latest reading obsession is is How to Train Your Dragon. He has been reading the series for about a month and is anxiously waiting for Book 7! He reads the books in about a day when he finally gets his hands on them.
I took the boys to see the movie and it was a great kid movie. I even got teary at the end which I told the boys is a sign of a good movie :)

Clean Cottage

My mom and I went to Chautauqua and cleaned all day on Saturday. The pollen was crazy! We ended up using the power washer which helped on the porch to get the bleach water rinsed and screens cleaned off. My mom cleaned the whole kitchen including cleaning every dish and wiping down the cabinets. We are now officially ready for summer to start! Next week we are having bookclub up there which will be great- lots of good food, wine, and laughing. I don't laugh harder with any other group of people than the bookclub girls.

Mom cleaning the kitchen.

New couch (forgot to take off the blanket), new ottoman, and new ceiling fan. It will feel like our cottage this year with our own furniture and paint.

I hung out with my parents when I dropped my mom off at home. They watch movies ALL of the time. Last night it was some old black and white movie "Blue Delilha". What they enjoy most is laughing at the acting and some of the lines in the movie. They have really reached a very content place in their lives. James and I are grown and out of the house, the both have stable jobs that they enjoy, and their house is paid off. It is so nice seeing them enjoy their lives this much without much stress.
After leaving their house I stopped by the DeVolls to visit with Aimee and see Baby John. He has gotten so big since seeing him at the hospital. Apparently he has been having respritory issues. They went to a specialist and found that he has some flap on his larynx that makes it sound like he can't catch his breath. He is suppose to grow out of it by age two. If he doesn't they will do surgery but that is pretty unlikely.
Maura is napping making a relatively quiet part of the day. The boys are playing Mastermind and Charlie is working on getting Kate's new laptop put together.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Fridays with Maura

Fridays are such a break from the rest of the week. I don't do visits on Friday and Maura is not at preschool in the morning. So it is the day of the week that we get our quality one on one time- all day. Today we ran errands and let me say there is nothing cuter than running errands in the rain with a two year old with a rainbow umbrella :) She could not be happier getting in and out of the car with that umbrella- the more errands the better. First was the dry cleaners, then the post office, Kohls, Bread Co (quick lunch of brocolli cheddar soup for her and mediterranian veggie sandwhich for me), and finally the Target run. She was happy the whole time and definitely ready for her nap when we got home. She is almost as good of a shopper as Max!

Meeting Murphy

We went to meet Murphy today. He is a white golden puppy and he is soooo cute! He is a breed with super white fur and is so sweet. But the boys were bummed because the trampoline was too wet to jump on it. We promised them we would go back over someday soon. Maura and I are over there to visit Audrey alot but the boys don't get a chance to be over there so much. Marla and Max have been talking about playdates for weeks so I'm glad we actually got over there. When they lived in our neighborhood we were over at their house all the time but not so much anymore.
After that visit we went to dinner at Duffys with my mom. Max did not like the pizza he ordered so he shared Ben and Maura's chicken. My mom loves being around the chaos of the kids. I think she'd take it over the chaos of Wash U anyday.
My mom and I are going to Chautauqua tomorrow to do our big Spring cleaning. Charlie went out today to put up a microwave shelf and to turn on the hot water. Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon we will be ready for the bookclub overnight next weekend! I am sooo looking forward to that!

Max convincing Mae Mae he needs another lipstick tatoo.

Outside at Duffys- soon to have a patio!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Furniture Shopping

Maura and I met Charlie for lunch and furniture shopping. (Side Note: for those who have known Charlie and I since we first started dating know that he went by Charlie in highschool when I met him. In college he decided to go by Chuck. I felt weird changing what I had always called him. He had no problem with me calling him Charlie. However, as we meet new groups of people it becomes confusing when he introduces himself as Chuck and I later call him Charlie. I try to call him Chuck in social situations but it is hard! Anyway, I tell people we have an open relationship and Chuck knows all about Charlie and is ok with it). We did find a table, bench, and chairs. Not my David Stine dream table but it will do. Considering all the playdough, marker stains, and spills it will endure it is probably best we don't get the dream table this year.
Maura had a complete meltdown when we dropped Charlie off at his car to head back to work. She screamed "don't leave, daddy" for five straight minutes and then cried the rest of the way home. I was exhausted and thought she was going to have to skip her nap because I had carpool pickup. My mom was off work and offered to hang out while I did carpool so Maura could sleep. I love that woman! She slept for 3+ hours so she definitely needed the rest.
Made delicious asparagus tonight. A little olive oil and smoked pepper for the Black Hills (thanks Peggy, that pepper is YUM). Trying to find my way back on track with my healthy eating/exercise routine. I did great for four weeks, then fell off the wagon for a week. Trying to regain the willpower!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day Cont...

Great day- took a walk with Maura and then we planted some tomato plants (thanks Amy for the smuggled tomato plants from Greece) and wildflowers. Then took Ben and Max to the Laumier Sculpture Park Art Fair. The crowd was huge and we ended up parking by Home Depot. Thankfully Tara and Ryan were there so the boys had no issues with the walk.
The weather was beautiful and the art was great. Met an artist, David Stine, who does woodworking in the Jersey County area and builds furniture. His land is right above Chautauqua off of Route T. He uses the trees that are dying and then plants more to sustain the forest. He then custom makes whatever you want. Thought this would be so amazing to have a table made for the cottage from trees off the bluff! Asked the cost- starts at about $4500! Dang! Don't think that will be happening but nice dream. His work is amazing and apparently appreciated in the New York area more so than the St. Louis area. If I had crazy amounts of money to spend on furniture this is where I would spend it.
Then went to my parents for dinner. My mom had all of her favorite food which included Michaels wings, Greek salad, ribs, guacomole- it was a feast, yum, needed a tums.
Kids are in bed and I'm just about ready to fall asleep myself. Here's hoping tomorrow morning isn't as early as this morning. Last week of visits and then I'll be able to wrap up the school year.

Could be our cottage table for roughly $5000- not in the budget this year. Check out his website- beautiful furniture!

Mother's Day

Since it is Mother's Day I decided to be self-indulgent and start this blog. I woke up early- actually I was woken up early by Maura calling for me. It was 4:45am but she wanted to watch a show. I had to go through the list of all the people in her class who were still sleeping. This seemed to do the trick. But just as I started to settle back to sleep Ben's alarm on his watch started going off. Then a few minutes after that Max came down and climbed in bed. So 4:45am was my destined time to wake up this morning. I got up, made some oatmeal and a cup of tea, grabbed my laptop and returned to bed. Using a laptop in bed feels decadent. Funny what feels decadent these days. A few minutes ago Charlie took the kids out to get my Mother's Day breakfast (a mocha and bagel are coming my way :) ) so the house is so quiet- birds are chirping outside, sun is out- it is a good day. Breakfast in bed is great but the result is three bouncing kids on the bed and crumbs everywhere. I will embrace the crumbs and enjoy these moments.

Balanced Chaos

I love reading other people's blogs. Mostly because it is an escape into other people's seemingly balanced lives. Balance is a constant goal because the chaos of being a mom of three challenges me everyday. By far being a mom has brought me more happiness than any other thing I've done in my life. But with that happiness also comes accepting that my desire for order, solitude, and quiet won't always be met.
Some of the blogs I find most intriguing are those by single women who get to truely focus on themselves. I know when the kids are grown and I have more time to myself I will miss the busyness of today. But for now when I do get those quiet moments I escape into other people's lives and imagine how I can bring balance to my life.