Sunday, January 29, 2012

swedish for a day

The Brunk Children's Museum of Immigration might be the single worst name for a place trying to get kids to come in for a visit.  Please ignore the name and head to Andersonville.  Your kids just might love this place.

The name of the museum should actually be The Eloise and Harriet Otto Museum of All Our Dreams Coming True.

There is a small and very manageable area containing a wealth of things that my kids, and maybe yours, love to do.  It is set up as sort of a Swedish immigrant's journey to America.  You can play in the replica of a Swedish house and tend to the animals on the Stuga.  There is an assortment of chores that you will witness your children gleefully doing--hanging laundry, milking the cow, feeding the baby, shaking out the rugs.   You'll begin to wonder why it is that, at home, they cry and writhe on the floor every time you ask them to unload the silverware.

When you realize that there might be a better life for you in America, you can swing by the immigration officer, get your passport stamped and board the ship to the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave.

On the American side you can pick vegetables from the garden, catch some fish in the stream below a little bridge, and prepare a meal for your new family.

This is a great place for my girls because they love to pretend with old-timey things, they love to dress up, and apparently they would love to leave their homeland.

tickets, please!

setting out on a long voyage

provisions for the trip

working hard on the farm

of course, harriet managed to find some
swedish babies

picking some goodies from the garden

hosting her first meal in america

Monday, January 23, 2012


Last week Eloise started ballet but she actually talked about starting ballet every day for 3 weeks before her first class.  This kid was seriously excited.  This mom was seriously excited too.

Ballet I can handle.  Soccer, I was not so good with.  I danced ballet for 18 years at a studio similar to the one we found here in town.  The pink tights, the little leotards, the bobby pinned hair, the lingering moms, and the muffled classical music coming from different studios--I feel like I never left.

On her first day of class, Eloise could not contain her excitement.  She rushed home from school, got all suited up and gabbed and gabbed while I brushed her hair into an 'off their face' style.  She was telling me that she would practice really hard at ballet so that she could be in a Company and make some money that she could later use for veterinary school.

I know what you are thinking,  "Why can't this kid get serious about something and lay down some plans for her future?? "

Rest assured she managed to bring out her inner (outer?) 5 year old and had a delightful, fun filled time in her lesson.

Everyone seemed to be aware of the fact that Harriet would not be taking ballet class with Eloise.  Everyone except Harriet.  Ouch.  That was a painful realization.  Mostly for me, and the entire ballet studio and adjacent parking lot, as we had to listen to her scream, "Sissy!  Ballet!" for 20 minutes.

To make up for it we had a little Kitchen Ballet performance when we got home and everyone was permitted to attend.

ready to dance!
(harriet is looking at me and wondering why 
she isn't in the shot as well)

I die.

practicing plies in the kitchen 

harriet's ersatz ballet slippers and moves
 at the kitchen ballet

Monday, January 9, 2012

happy birthday, hattie!

Our little gal turned two last week and we threw her a teeny, tiny party with family and friends from the neighborhood--or as Harriet calls them 'my buddies'.

We made it through the holidays and about 3 days before Harriet's birthday I thought I'd better get some stuff together for a party.  I had no ideas and no plan-- not my usual situation.  I was talking on the phone with Mike and lamenting (screeching about) the fact that I had 'no theme!' and how was that possibly going to work.  He suggested that the theme be 'I'm a two year old and I'm having a birthday'.  He somehow worked his Jedi mind trick magic, I chilled out, and we had our happiest happy birthday party to date.

A few friends, a few kids, family, balloons, yummy soup, bread, cake, ice cream, and presents.  In retrospect, we could have just had an empty room with one balloon in it and Harriet would have been thrilled.

Next year's theme-- balloons.

tentatively checking out her new bike

hmmmmmm...not sure

just noticed the balloons

up, up, and away...

in my beautiful balloon

the morning after.
the balloons followed her all day.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

happy new year!

Did you miss me??

So sorry, Internet.  I know I have been neglecting you.  I have really missed blogging and I hope to get back into a regular routine of it.  This is my only resolution for the year--'don't be lazy, write a post'.

We made it through the holidays and had a grand time with both families, the Ottos and the DeBackers.  The girls made out like bandits and I got a new All-Clad pan (!!!) and some warm cozy boots among other things.  The only downside to the whole holiday season is that I lost my camera somewhere along the way.  If anyone finds a camera with images of my family on it please send it my way.  Better yet, send me a new camera and keep the one that you find.

Luckily I had downloaded (uploaded?) some photos before the camera went missing so I'll take you on a little photo journalistic trip down memory lane of some of the stuff we've been up to the last couple months.

went to a super cool superhero party

put up the tree

taught harriet about baby jesus.
she recognized the name right away as the one
mama yells while driving.

drank lots and lots of edzo's milkshakes

both of my children actually ate a dinner that I made for them.
both of them.  they ate it.  all.  
I need a minute.

harriet reluctantly had her last 
wiggleworms class.  

eloise joyfully had her 
lessons and carols show.

we traumatized another child with a visit to santa

visited the botanic garden and wonderland express

we taught harriet how to carry her baby 
'hands free' so she can multitask.

eloise made shirts for christmas 
for her cousins and sister

we taught harriet how to wash the dishes--
shirtless, and in a babushka.

this was going to be the christmas card photo that I never sent out.
so--merry christmas, y'all!
also, please don't ever give my children another stuffed animal.

us watching all four seasons of Breaking Bad and loving every minute of it.  
us working very hard to get our house ready to go on the market--
god help us.
us recovering from the holidays and accepting that winter is definitely
 here to stay.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Go Wildcats!

We are so fortunate to live so close to Northwestern University and all it has to offer.  Even though we are nowhere near having college age kids there is still plenty of family fun to be had on or around campus.

Northwestern has a beautiful campus right on the lakefront in north Evanston.  One of my favorite walks/bike rides is up to what Eloise and I call "the most beautiful spot in town".  From this point you can see the campus, the lake, gorgeous trees, grassy areas, and all the way down to the city skyline of Chicago.  Also there are hundreds of boulders bordering the lake that have layers and layers of graffiti on them.  There are love letters, spirit cheers, poems, secret messages, and family portraits.  Eloise loves to read all the rocks and of course climb out onto them while giving me a heart attack.

We headed up to Northwestern recently for a morning of fun.  We showed Mike and Harriet "the most beautiful spot in town" and then attended a Kids Fare concert at the Pick-Staiger Concert Hall.  These concerts are 1 hour long and geared towards young children.  Having said that, I actually learned quite a bit myself.  The very talented music students perform and talk about the instruments and do silly things and make it pretty entertaining for their young audience.  This month's show was all about percussion instruments.  After the show, all the kids are invited on stage for an instrument petting zoo of sorts.  Good times.  Loud times.    There are still 4 more concerts scheduled in the Kids Fare series so check them out if you are able.

After the concert we enjoyed an easy breezy lunch in Norris Hall which is right next door and then the girls rolled down a "ginormous" grassy hill.

I'm pretty sure Northwestern also has some sports or something...

out on the rocks

chi city in the background

on stage at kids fare

100 kids + percussion instruments = this picture

on campus getting ready to roll

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


We had another fun filled halloween this year.  Eloise decided we should all dress up as glee kids. (Mike and I bailed) She picked Rachel for herself and we thought it would be funny to make Harriet a Warbler.  I had so much fun putting the costumes together, it is one of my favorite things to do every year.  I don't even want to think of the days when they won't let me do it anymore.

Eloise's was very simple.  Most of her costume was made up of normal clothes we got thrifting or at Target.  We decided we definitely needed plain white knee socks so I purchased those as well.  Eloise was very sure that they needed to be plain and white and told me several hundred times.  We made a little 'Hello my Name is' sticker and wrote 'Rachel Berry' with her signature gold star.  Also added an 'I heart Finn' button to really seal her identity.  Eloise played the part of Rachel well and loved dressing up as her favorite glee kid.  It was her dream come true. She recently told us that she will only be going to a high school and a college that has a glee club so could we please check to see if ETHS and Northwestern has one.  We'll get right on that, Rachel.

Harriet's costume was so much fun.  I got a used boys navy blazer and used red bias tape to edge around it Warbler style.  She had grey pants and a white shirt and I found the tie at Nordstrom (it's perfect match of Warbler colors temporarily clouded my judgment allowing me to spend as much as I did on a tie for a toddler's costume).  I made her Warbler patch by scanning the back of the Warbler CD (a favorite in our house) and printing onto photo paper.  Harriet had no idea, of course, who she was supposed to be but we got her to wear her costume by telling her she could dress up 'like daddy'.  Thank goodness that did the trick because I was fully prepared to submit a photo of her costume laid out on the table with no person in it.

The girls had a blast hitting all the houses that halloween night.   I just trailed behind laughing and being totally entertained by my little gleeks.

rachel berry

little warbler

a quick performance before heading out

trick or treating

the aftermath

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

go muppet yourself

Need a holiday gift idea?  Why not Muppet someone you love?  Last Christmas the girls and I ordered a muppet version of Mike as a gift for him.  Although he was surprised and tickled and thought it was hilarious, Muppet Dada has been adopted, for the most part, by the girls.

The second we opened the box, almost 1 year old Harriet exclaimed, "Dada!".  She instantly recognized that muppet as Mike.  Not sure if that is a compliment to him or not, see the pictures and decide for yourself.  Both the girls play with the muppet but Harriet is especially fond of him.  She talks to him and pushes him around in her stroller, feeds him, and asks him to please, please buy her a pony one day.
Now that she's getting older she is much more possessive in general.  She had a little friend over to play the other day and as the friend went right to the muppet, Harriet ran up and grabbed him away shouting, "No!  My Dada!"

If you follow this link to the FAO Schwarz website you can choose body, eyes, nose, hair, clothes, and go ahead and muppet yourself or someone you love.  Have fun!

Here are a few shots of Muppet Dada throughout the year.  I like to imagine an 80s pop tune playing in the background as I scroll through, a la movie montage.

it was love at first sight on Christmas morning

taking a closer look

still pals months and months later

taking a break for a refreshing beverage

going for a stroll

never enough hugs

see any resemblance?  
besides the blue nose, of course.