Monday, December 15, 2008

Ho Ho Ho

We had a special visitor to our house last Thursday! SANTA CAME! We had our annual Xmas block party bash with Santa's visit being the highlight. All the kids (13 of them) had time to sit on Santa's lap and rattle off requests for Xmas presents. Just so there was no errors, Jet and Charlie supplied Santa with lists ... with pictures! As you can see ... they were leaving no margin for error. Somehow, I bet Santa will come through. Friday was a little rough for all of us. We were up past bedtimes and that led to early bedtimes on Friday ... especially for Charlie and I since we had Tae Kwon Do belt testing on Saturday.

Yes, Charlie moved up a belt level to Orange and I am no longer a rookie as I moved to a Yellow belt. Charlie ofcourse woo'd the crowd as he performed his moves. He ended up with quite a cheering squad applauding his form, kicks and board break. He upstaged us all.

I did receive an award patch for best form .... having to perform a 20 step stance of low blocks and punches as part of the requirements. I also had to do one step sparring (low, mid, high blocks), 4 kick series and break a 1/2" board with a single punch. Watch out Chris, I have some power in my moves now! It's a great workout. I never leave Master Jeon's without a major sweat and it's so much fun. It's a great builder of core and beats being a treadmill rat.

We are in the crazy last week before the Holidays ... staring down parties, school events, birthdays and outside activities. I'll be ready for some nog and rest on Christmas day.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Yesterday Charlie, Jet and myself were driving to Tae Kwon Do. It was dark, sleeting and really slick. I was waiting to cross an intersection and madly flashing my lights at a car that hadn't turn their lights on yet. Well the idiot ignored me.

Me: (irritated and loudly) Turn on your lights you idiot.

Jet: Mom, which car doesn't have it's lights on?

Charlie, in reply to Jet: The Idiots car.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Break From The Rush!

The holiday rush is on: parties, events, birthdays and getting ready for Christmas. We've already had some nice snowfall which add to the Holiday mood. We took a break from cards and cookie baking to enjoy the snowfall by hitting a local sledding hill. It was a balmy 15 degrees but funny thing is when you are outfitted correctly ... It feels as comfortable as when it's 80 degrees. Chicago planners have designated green space called "forest preserves" around the area (much like Central Park in NY). We are lucky to have several preserves within 5 miles of our house including this sledding hill. Jet LOVED sledding the hill, including several races against his dad.
Charlie, on the other hand, took one trip down and decided that his time was better spent at the top of the hill. When I coaxed him to join me on a sled, he went down the hill with his hands over his eyes and face buried against my coat. The only other time that I was able to get him back on the sled was to ride down the hill to our van. After about 10 rides down, Jet was tuckered out. On our way home, Charlie said next time Jet and I could go sledding and he would stay home. Charlie said he's go to the beach and play in the sand to which Jet remarked that's when he'd stay home and Charlie and I could go. Jet doesn't care for sand. They're not making it easy to decide vacation destination spots are they!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Things Change, Things Stay The Same!

Per my last blog, this is the fourth year that we have gotten a nice snow in the first two weeks of December. Here's proof! A lot changes and a lot stays the same. I think we have gotten our $$'s worth out of the blue winter coat! 2005



Monday, December 1, 2008

It's a winter wonderland!

We are going on our fourth winter in Chicagoland. Every year that we've lived here, the first snow has come in the first two weeks of December. It's the moist heavy stuff ... good for shoveling, snowball fights and snowman building. Now mind you, two days ago, Saturday, it was a balmy 47 degrees and every neighbor was out in vests or sweaters putting up holiday lights. We are all grateful for that respite ... sure beats hanging lights in 30 degree weather and snow.

Jet and I got busy clearing the driveway with shovels while Charlie was at preschool today. Our snowblower made a trip to the hardware store for repairs. FYI - gas is only good for 30-45 days ... always always empty the tank at the end of the season (Unfortunately, the lawnmower will probably be making the same trip in the spring). Anyways, I promised the boys a sled ride after Charlie gets home.

We hope everyone reading this blog had a great thanksgiving. We sure did! Uncle Dave, Aunt Gina and cousins Drew and Anna made the trek from Omaha to join us for the holiday. It was a great visit. The neighbors were well aware that the Nebraska relatives were here when LITTLE RED (a Nebraska Husker Mascot) made his appearance on our front porch for the weekend. Little to describe his size is not quite accurate as you can see, He's at least 10' tall with a goofy smile on his face. And in case the neighbors didn't get enough of Little Red during the day, he lights up at night for all to see.

All I can say is that we are thankful that Nebraska won the game and nobody knifed Little Red to deflate him, put him in a compromising position (known to happen to the Xmas deer in our hood), or dressed him in drag. All was well when he went home on Saturday.
Here's a few things that we are thankful for and reflected on this Thanksgiving:
1. Aunt Penny's cancer is in remission! A big hip hip hooray!
2. Grandpa's 3 broken ribs and punctured lung are mending. He seems back to his old self.
3. Our friends - the Murphy's - in India are safe and sound. We are ready to have them back stateside.
4. Aunt Dodie is on the mend for a few surgeries.
There's more but it's all Gravy (sorry the turkey day pun) after the list above.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Da Bears Live v. HD Widescreen!

We took Jet to his first NFL Football game today. It's the coldest day so far this year and even though we didn't see any flurries, there was the smell of the white stuff in the air.
Mind you, we are coming off of a long (and emotional - see later in this blog) week that was filled with two birthday parties, one Saturday dinner - boys included, a wine tasting fundraiser that I organized for Gift of Adoption, in addition to our regular mayhem. We are wiped and thanks to this #$@%$* time change, we haven't slept past 6 am compliments of Charlie (curse you Ben Franklin)! So what the heck ... why not drag our raggedy bodies to a game with a 5 year old that's swinging from Jeckyll to Hyde about every 30 seconds. Soldier Field isn't that far from our house - about a 20 minute drive. Jet was in awe of the tailgaters ... of which we were not participating ... we were actually looking for sources of caffine and edibles. We went right from the parking lot to the stadium. So after about 1 1/2 hours of waiting for anything to start on the field, the game was finally underway. Funny thing about being only 48" tall ... you can't see squat when fans are standing in front of you. The game becomes very boring, very quickly and all sorts of whining and interesting chair sitting positions ensue. So the game started at noon and about .... oh 12:30 ... we were heading to our car thanking god that we didn't bring Charlie. Had he tagged along, we would have made it, with any luck, to the National Anthem. So we decided that the best viewing place to see a Bears game for the next few years may be in the comfort of our own family room, with a big bowl of popcorn, toys for the boys and all the heat that a home can provide.

Now as per the emotion of our week, we are sending out prayers and get well wishes to our sister in law Penny, who was diagnosed this week with Leukemia and to my father who took a nasty tumble that included 3 broken ribs. You are in our thoughts and prayers. Please let us know if we can help in anyway. We love you both dearly!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Falling Back with a Halloween Hangover

Tonight we wind our clocks back here in Chicago which means for those of us with early risers .... we'll now be getting up at 5:30am vs. 6:30am ... Curse you Ben Franklin! We definitely could use the extra hour of sleep with all the Halloween festivities now complete.

Festivities that encompasses a whole week. We started off on Sunday with a trip to the pumpkin farm to get our pumpkins to carve. OK, the old pumpkin farms have evolved. They now include pony rides, tractors, petting zoo, corn mazes, 4 bouncy Jumpers and a huge bouncy slide. Really, pumpkins are now just an afterthought when visiting one of these farms. We spent the first hour doing all the activities but looking for a pumpkin. Had Chris and I known that we had the search for the perfect pumpkin in our near future ... we would have sped up the activities with the bouncer. Jet must have looked at every pumpkin in the place. We decided that Jet's second career could be evaluating pumpkins for the IL State fair next fall. It wouldn't have been so painful if the cold north wind hadn't been blowing at about 40 miles and hour. But alas, one pumpkin was picked and we were finally able to leave.
On Wednesday, Charlie's school had it's fall concert. There were pumpkin songs, fall songs and the finale .. Harvest Moon ... shouted at full volume by 4& 5 year olds. HMMMM ... not
a rendition to savor! The good news is that the concert was followed with treats, snacks and a small party. On Thursday we worked on our pumpkins. Jet and Charlie hammered colored spikes to make designs on theirs (think Lite Brite Pumpkins). I spent the afternoon carving out a pirate skull and bones into mine. It turned out really cool and I'd love to show you a picture but the rabid squirrels in our neighborhood got to it last night after the trick or treaters left. Guess they wanted a party of their own.

Well FINALLY the big day arrived ... Halloween! It was an action packed day. We started off with morning with Jet's kindergarten party. This was the one event I volunteered for in Jet's classroom. We did a craft ... QTip skeletons, read books and sang songs. The big finish was the treat ... ice cream, topped with crushed oreo's and a gummy worm. This was welcomed since the only snacks allowed on regular kindergarten days are water, fruit, veggies or cheese. Charlie had his preschool party that afternoon. We caught the parade outside the school at the end of the day. Charlie went to the party as Superman ... but that was not his only superhero costume for the day. Halloween was picture perfect from a weather standpoint ... miraculous from a Chicago standpoint. It was a balmy 70 degrees so there were no coats covering costumes this year. It brought out the kids and adults in droves. Trick or treating started at 3:30 and ended around 7 pm for the kids ... the parents gathered in driveways after the little ones were tucked in for a few treats of our own ... a glass of wine and a few cigars were lit along with the outdoor fire pits. Jet went as Racer X from Speed Racer ... don't ask me how far I had to go to get the costume of Speed Racer's brother! Charlie changed his ensemble to "The Dark Knight". We hit a few blocks in the neighborhood trick or treating then the boys agreed that on this nice day they had enough candy and time would be better spent riding up and down the sidewalks on razors and bikes. Funny that at this young age they already realize that ol man winter is right around the corner and outdoor activities will not be an option soon. Charlie actually just thought it would be cool to have his cape blowing behind him on the razor.
So this morning, at 6:30am, Charlie was up still sugar buzzing from the night before. We decided that an hour at Tae Kwon Do may burn off some of the energy. It helped but really zapped me of mine ... yes I have joined the ranks of Tae Kwon Do white belts and haven't been able to walk up stairs since. I'm feeling muscles that I've never felt before. It's fun and my new goal is black belt by age 50 ... stay tuned.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

HIYAAA ... Congrats to Jet!

Congrats Jettie for achieving a new belt in Tae Kwon Do: High Red Belt. Jet is now into the deputy belts which are the higher level belts. Jet will now test on a different level in a different location under really tough scrutiny.
Jet has passed through 8 belt levels (colors) in two Tae Kwon Do schools (both Korean established). This is quite an accomplishment for a 5 1/2 year old and we are so proud. Jet was also awarded the Tiger patch (only two were awarded last evening) for hardest work. Grandmaster Jeon has been a wonderful instructor and Jet has really upped his game since joining his school. It is much tougher than our previous school. As you can see from the picture below, there were a lot of students with a lot of different belt levels that were tested. Let's just say it translated into a really late evening ... especially since Jet was the highest belt tested in this session thus the last man up. If he looks wiped in these pictures, that's because he is ... it was an hour past his bedtime when he was tested and also after day that included school, a birthday party and this testing.

The smartest move for the night was probably by mom & dad who were wise enough to hire a sitter for Charlie. Charlie did not receive his third stripe (he has two) so did not get tested for the next belt level. Our Charlie doesn't seem to mind too much. He just happy to run, kick and punch when he's at class. He'll be in the thick of testing in 6 weeks. He loves the sport too.

We'll finish the blog with one final picture of Jet right after he broke his board. He had to get two feet off the ground, kick back and bust the board from behind. Did I say he was 5 1/2!!!!! Can you tell we are so proud!!!!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fall Festivals & Fun

Fall is definitely here. Chicago temps are hanging around the low 60's this weekend and we are going into peak color. In Chicago, a new season is another reason for fall festivals, garage sales, block parties and picnics ... we've done all of those in the last three weeks.

Last night we had our Chili Fest Block Party. Everyone prepared and presented their best pot of chili and we got to taste each other's concoctions. The kids had a blast just being able to ride their bikes, Razors and trikes freely in the street (without a spanking or lesson ensuing). We adults dragged out our lawn chairs and formed a pow-wow circle in the middle of the street. We are always amazed that their is no serious injuries with 26 kids (mostly boys) riding bikes/razors like crazed maniacs up and down the block, daredevil tree climbers going up 20ft plus, and play to the "death" tag games. We tried to calm the kids after dark with a movie in a neighbors garage ... unfortunately it was the "not appropriate for under 13 - Austin Powers". When a few parents remarked - As Austin Powers is picking up Elizabeth Hurley - that this might not be suitable for 4 & 5 year olds ... the neighbor slapped in the even more inappropriate - "Meet the Parents". It didn't matter. By the time the second movie started the kids were on to more outdoor activities. As dusk fell, one of our village squad cars showed up with lights flashing making it's way around our block barrier towards our Pow-wow circle. He showed up to hand out stickers to the kids and let them sit in the squad car. I looked over at a neighbor and said - "why did I feel the immediate need to toss my beer when he was pulling up?" Ofcourse by this time our men folk had a few beers in them and commenced upon telling their insightful tales of times where they were riding in squad cars. Like the one time a neighbor greased up pigs and let them loose on a nightclub dance floor in Iowa City. It was a fun prank until he had to ride in the back of the squad car after the pigs had been gathered up there. Anyways, our night ended with a citizen's arrest of our local police officer - god bless him - he had a front headlight out. Classic. The boys thought it was fun getting stickers and sitting in the police car. We only hope that they weren't listening too closely to the tales of the "squad car".

We had a garage sale on Friday and we really cleaned out our closets. No more pants that feel like they are cutting me in half. I sold 3 garbage sacks of clothes from my closet alone ... everything a buck. I'm always amazed at the crappy soiled clothes that sell and the Ralph Lauren/Tommy Hilfinger stuff that I'm left donating. Weird. Why am I giving so many clothes away. It's been a year of upsizing! I keep asking myself how did this happen????? Then I look over at Jet's full collection of Batman Lego McDonald Characters ... Thank god they ran out of those men and that promo's over. I don't care if I ever see another Nugget/Apple Dipper Happy Meal combo again. Ofcourse as the boys were racking up the batman toys ... I was racking up the cheeseburger hips. It's depressing as I'm logging up 8 -10 miles on the treadmill a week and gaining weight. My new fall goal is lose 10 by Xmas. It was also to grow my hair longer but that was cut short - sorry for the pun - on Saturday. I was not made to have hair past the neck.

We hope this finds all well and maybe encourages a few of you to come up for fall color.


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Maybe A White Lie Is Ok For Those Under Age 8

Alright, all the parents who read this blog know that there are questions coming or that have come that caught us off guard and haunt us to this day. Jet threw me a curve ball this weekend. We were at his soccer game. The wife of his soccer coach - who is pregnant - was at the game in a hip maternity shirt - it hit above the belly button (might as well painted a bullseye around her belly button) ... and she still looked fit & cute ... even bulging out 12+ inches.

So Jet takes one look and says:

"Mom, her tummy is really big"

I reply, "Yes Jet, she has a baby in her tummy. That's where babies grow."

Ok now I'm expecting a whole 'nother discussion about my tummy, Korea and adoption. But in typical Jet fashion ... another curve ball.

"Mom, look at the coach on the other team. His tummy is big but not as big as hers"

To which I reply, "You are right. He's a boy so there is no baby in that tummy". OK in my mind I wanted to reply, "That tummy is big alright Jet ... but it is big due to another thing that starts with a "B" like baby ... it's called "beer" ... and lots of it."

So our conversation pretty much ends up there until today ... we are driving home from a "Happy Meal Run" ... hey it's Batman Lego week at McDonalds ... the drive through lines have been hell all week ... we only need Robin and the Joker to complete our set. Jet looking out the window says to me:
"Mom, does that woman have a baby in her tummy too?"

I look in the rearview mirror.
I see a 65+ year old woman walking ... who ... by god ... looks darn good for her age.

So I say:
"You know what Jet, not all women with big tummy's have babies in them. It's hard to tell so NEVER NEVER EVER ask somebody (man or woman) if they have a baby in their tummy."

Alright ... here's the plan for the future ... lock the doors .... NEVER NEVER EVER let Jet see me in undergarments or less. The conversation I hope to be avoiding is "No Jet, mommy has no baby in her tummy. Mommy has a big tummy because she was trying to finish off your collection of McDonald Happy Meal Batman toys. Curse you Penguin!"

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's Official ... I'm a soccer mom.

Yeesh. When I worked and when I was single, I always wondered about the soccer mom. Why was their vote so important? What made them come to the polls in droves. Well now I know. Soccer moms are the most desperate mom/female type you will ever know. The mom that has little to no ADULT contact for 10 hours per day. The mom who's best friends become "Tom & Jerry", "Bob the Builder" or on a rogue moment "The heroes of the justice league". Do these women vote ... hell yes ... in their Sunday best ... it's a big day out. It's something more important to rally for .... beyond the dysfunctional soccer coach, the latest PTO midriff ban, the partially unwiped bum or the next famous Oprah author. It keeps it interesting for 6 months.

Well I have officially joined the soccer mom ranks. Jet and Charlie joined teams and are in their second week of playing ... OK - kind of - since this weekend was cancelled due to rain. Today was picture day. A feat with in itself. The soccer league had 100+ kids streaming through the high school per hour (4 hours straight) for team and individual shots. It was quite remarkable how they kept it organized & running. Chicago Government could take lessons from this group. Charlie was first up. "Mom, you are going to stay next to me" Charlie said in an anxious, clearly overwhelmed voice. "I'll try" I replied. His team (5 of the 7 showed) was called up for pictures. We come up to the first "yellow tape" ... yes yellow tape you see on a crime scene. "CAUTION CRIME" written over and over again. The rather "manly" looking lady said, "kid's only ... parents in the bleachers waiting". OK, Charlie is not grooving on this. So like a bank robber would say "Lady, I've got a loaded gun and I'm not afraid to use it" ... I say, "Lady, I've got a 4 year old on the verge of a meltdown ... if he goes beyond the yellow tape without me ... you will see a hurricane that will put Ike to shame. So step aside, let me through or be prepared to deal with a storm unlike has never been unleashed in this event before." Quippp ... the yellow tape is pulled back and I am allowed to proceed with the team. "wow" I think ... note to self ... save this card for waiting lines in the emergency room, doctor's office or boys room at the Wiggles concert. Well our pics are taken. It's official. I truly am a soccer mom!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Labor(less) Day

This is summer's last song ... the last three day weekend that includes warm weather. We really took advantage too ...
no schedule,
no agenda,
no rush,
no multi-tasking (well almost).

OK ... most of you who know that Chris and I are true urbanites ... hate to get the hands dirty, camping means a mattress on the floor of the kids' room, a great weekend is in the city on Michigan ave. Well Jet is our anomaly. He loves everything outdoors ... camping (real tents, real sleeping bags), hiking, exploring and FISHING.

I know, I mean where does the innate desire to fish come from??? Well it must come from somewhere because he's been twice and asks every week when he can go fishing again. Fortunately for us, Chicago Parks do offer some fishing opportunities and these opportunities landed us at a lake on Sunday. OK, maybe not a lake by Minnesota standards ... more like a glorified pond ... ok maybe just a pond, but it was exactly what the boys had in mind. We rented Kiddie fishing poles, bought 36 crawlers and were waived the Il fishing license since the fishermen were under age 7.

Jet is a natural with the rod and reel. He cast to mid-lake every single time. The woman with 5 poles, a pack of Salems and a cell phone wedged into her ear saw Jet cast and asked him to do hers! Charlie ... well our Charlie was not so much of a natural. Oh he found the lake ... yes feet first in ... not once but twice. His idea of fun was not sitting, waiting and catching a fish ... but throwing rocks, mulch, twigs and grass into the lake. "Charlie don't do that you are scaring the fish away" "Ok mom" ... two seconds later "SPLASH" ... it was either the pole, a rock or Charlie. Good news, depth was only six inches by the shore.

So to cap off a perfect morning (minus Charlie falling in), we headed to the Chicken Basket - off of Route 66. It must have been there since the route was thriving. Chris was thrilled to see a resteraunt that had a honey bottle on the table to go with the homemade biscuits (yum yum). It was homey. The fried chicken was not the "southern' variety. It was fried chicken that I grew up on ... you know ... the shake and bake variety. I enjoyed it but Chris was a bit disappointed, first in the chicken and second that the gravy was "brown" not southern style gravy. Oh well, you can't win them all! A good weekend all the way around.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Jet's First Day of Kindegarden!

Well, it's official ... our taxpayer dollars are finally working for us! Jet started Kindegarden on Tuesday. His teacher is Mrs. B (short for Mrs. Battaglia). She's like the rock star of our neighborhood. Shes been teaching the kindegarden class for 25 years at Spring Avenue (Jet's school). It's all good things that we hear about her and the kids think she's the best. Jet thinks she's funnier than heck. He's come home with a Mrs. B antidote every day and asked if he could stay in kindegarden until he was age 10 ... uhhhhh no on that one.

(Jet is to the right of the teacher in the first row)

It's a 2 block walk to school. Everyday, when we hear kids on scooters, mom's with their cup of joe walking by, we join them for our morning social minute. Our elementary school was ranked #1 in Cook County (all Chicago)two years ago so Jet's in a great spot.

Meanwhile .... Back at the Batcave ... Robin is holding his own against the forces of evil! I'm a little sad to say that Robin has a gleam in his eye when he realizes that all the Superhero stuff is entirely at his disposal while Batman is at Kindegarden. GO ROBIN!!!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Driving Home the Point ... Literally

Have you ever been so mad and frustrated with your kids that you do something that in hindsight may have been a little over the top! If there is a club for this, I just became an honorary member. Here's how it started out.

I was outside with Charlie and Jet when I was sucked across the street by our neighbor (Farmer Tom ... another blog story). Jet ran into his best bud, Audrey and begged if she could come over and play. I told Jet that she could come over for 15 minutes if it was ok with Audreys Mom, Suzy. And away they went to ask Suzy. Well Farmer Tom coaxed Charlie and I into his backyard to cut off a squash from one of his vines (like I said ... a whole 'nother blog). Not to far into this, another "across the street" neighbor informed me that Jet and Audrey just crossed the street by themselves and went into our house.


I grab Charlie and across the street I go. Jet and Audrey are hiding in the house (do they think I might be mad!!!). When I asked them if they crossed the street, Jet replied, "yes, but I looked both ways" which translates into ... "yes I looked both ways when I was about 1/2 way across" (I've seen this too many times).


"why" says Jet.

"Don't ask just do as I say" I reply.

Charlie, Jet and Audrey all sit on the front step.

I have an orange in my hand.
"Do you guys see this orange?"

"Yes!" All three reply.

"Well I want you to watch this". I proceed to place the orange underneath my right van rear tire, start the van and throw it into reverse. I roll down my window ....
"Is it mashed?"
"yes" all three chime in.
"Well guess what ... I didn't even feel the orange when I ran over it. This orange could be what would happen to you if a van or car runs over you!"

I turn off the van and jump out. "OK, all three of you ... up against the van". They all three line up.
"Jet, can you see in the window?" "no"
"Audrey, can you see in the window?" "no"
"Charlie, can you see in the window?" "no"
"well guess what ... if you can't see the driver then they can't see you. Understand?"

Jet replies, "yes mom ... ummm ... now can you run over an apple" just as I look over and see Charlie scrapping the orange off the cement and putting it into his mouth, .... "MMMMM" charlie says (he hasn't had oranges in 6 months due to his excema skin).


Not only has the point been totally lost on this group .... now I'm sure the whole block thinks I'm a stark raving lunatic who entertains her children by driving over produce in her driveway.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I like your thinkin'!

Charlie woke up today as a total crabcake. Jet finally said to me,

"Mom, Charlie woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I have a plan"

Mom: "Really, I'd like to hear it"

Jet: "If anybody wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, we send them to Grandma's"

Mom: "Jet, I like your thinking but REALITY CHECK ... grandma is over 400 miles away"

Jet: "We could put Charlie on a plane"

Charlie (very alarmed): "Are you coming with me?"

Picture of Jet and Grandma masterminding their "wrong side of the bed" plot last thanksgiving!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Dog Days!

Wow, and sorry, it's been a month since the last post. And July was suppose to be our down month. From our last post, we were in Omaha for a family reunion, Pretzel making camp, Art Camp, private swim lessons, Charlie's therapy, family in from Dallas and Camp Pride - Korea Culture camp. I'm not even sure where to begin!

I wish I had a few pictures to share from our Omaha trip. but alas, it was a case of trying to manage the trip vs. trying to record the trip. We were celebrating Mom & Dad's 50Th wedding anniversary (but not really celebrating ... via Mom's instructions). It was the first time in at least 20 years that we were all together in one spot ... yes ... all 7 kids + 7 spouses and the entire grand kid crew totalling 15 ... so all told, 31 one of us including Mom & Dad. Just to make it a bit more complicated ... we decided to throw a "Bartholet" Family reunion on Sunday so throw Dad's 4 brothers and sisters plus their kids, and grand kids into the mix ... well it's a party and as we proved ... enough to fill a pool with 5 lifeguards on staff. Anne captured really good shots of the event so I hope to have more to share. And thanks to my sister in law Gina, we had a professional photographer get a few family shots of the entire crew ... the original 31!

Last weekend, Eugene, Dodie and Rachel (Chris's brother and family) came to visit us for a long weekend. It was a weekend of shopping, eating and catching up. The boys loved it. Any excuse to camp out in one room ... translating into late nights and really early mornings. Fortunately we wised up by night #2 and Charlie was regaled to our bedroom closed for his camp out.
It was great to see them and we hope to get more visitors from Texas.

Last week Jet, Charlie and I attended Camp Pride (Korea Culture Camp). It was at a Korean Presbyterian Church about 20 minutes away. I must say, it blew away all my expectations going into the week and will be a highlight for upcoming summers. All three of us made great friends. Charlie was in the pre-K class and Jet in the Kindergarten class. Me ... well I was a lunchroom lady. Hey! Don't snicker ... this is a cushy job in Camp Pride kingdom. Our job ... setting up the tables, cutting fruit and serving the lemonade. It beats kitchen duty hands down (no offense kitchen crew). I had time to cruise the camp, shop the market, knit and
tune in my new i-phone! Not bad heh! The boys on the other hand were kept busy for the 6 hours that they were there ... the entire week. Tae kwon do, Korean language, art, games, music ... they were action packed days.

The week ended with a program put on by the campers. Yes ... in typical Korean adoptee program fashion ... it lasted about an hour(s) longer than it should have in a hot hot gymnasium! But it's a small price to pay for the highlights of our week: Korean lunches all week long ... topped off by a really great lunch prepared by the Korean ladies of the church, the best Korean market I've ever seen (vintage stuff), great friends (who we'll see every year), head - shoulders - knees & toes sung in Korean by the PreK and K class and cool Korean art projects.

I did score the coolest Nativity scene in the market. I've been on the prowl for a Korean nativity scene for 3 years. The woman running the market collects Korean antiques and has so many really cool items at really great prices. This nativity scene contains figures that were carved & painted directly after the Korean war by Korean civilians to raise money for the war orphans and to help the economy. The woman that runs the market put these figures into a nativity scene and painted the manager similar to a major landmark palace in Korea that we have visited. This was one of many really cool things that I picked up at this market: Jewelry, carved figures, antique needlepoint tea towels, mulberry paper, books, pencil cases, ect... . Watched out, I'm armed for Christmas!
On another note, after a year of driving 15 minutes to Master Kim's Tae Kwon Do studio, we've moved to a new studio run by Master Jeon and his family. If you think breaking up with your hairdresser is hard, try breaking up with your Tae Kwon Do Master. He took it well and understood that there was no way to juggle our fall schedule and the boys class schedule. Alas ... sorry to my friends that enjoyed seeing the good-looking Master Kims pics online (you know who you are!). We'll try to post some of our final farewell. We're going to visit him one last time to thank him and present him with a small token of our appreciation.
Well I'll try to be better in August. Sorry for the delay. Please stay tuned.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Summer Cliff Notes

There has been lots going on but just not a lot of time to put it into words. We have a busy busy summer. The boys are loving summer camp, Tae Kwon Do, swim lessons, pool time, visitors and summer festivals. Throw into the mix a few trips, birthday parties, weekend excursions, Charlie's therapy and exploring Chicago ... well it's a summer filled to the brim.
Backing up the boat, the week after our last blog "the block party" ... Jet and I took a weekend excursion to see friends. We spent a weekend with Tracy, Billy and KK (Jimmy & Tom were fishing .... meanwhile at home ... Chris was teaching Charlie how to retrieve beers from the beer fridge during the golf tourney). Since our visit was short ... flew in Saturday came home on Sunday ... we packed in Como Zoo, Korean meal, Splash park, pizza party and a park visit. It was great to see our old friends who were on a short visit stateside before returning to India. It was as if time stood still and our Bonnie/Clyde duo (aka KK and Jettie) who picked up without skipping a beat. As you can tell from the pictures a good time was had by all.

Upon our return, both boys picked afternoon swim lessons at our local high school. Charlie was in Stage One and Jet in Stage Three. Unfortunately ... neither advanced this year ... in fact it was in the second week of the two week session ... when Charlie was being carried around the pool by the high school crew that I was questioning our investment (time, money and sweat) in these lessons. Especially when Charlie is a fish at our other pool (see pic) ... pushing off the wall in the deep end, jumping in the pool, practicing his strokes ... so needless to say, it was irritating to sit in the humid 102 degree auditorium and watch Charlie flirt and play scared. SOOOO we are going for round two on the swim lesson front, both boys are getting private lessons at our pool.

On June 28th, the boys completed their Tae Kwon Do testing and accomplished another belt level. Charlie is now a yellow belt and Jet is a red belt (1/2 way to a Black Belt). After high red,

Jet will start working on his deputy red belts and the pace will slow down .... which at $100 a pop per test is ok by mom & dad. Even with our busy summer, we're still hitting class three times per week.

We had a busy July 4th weekend. It was Jet's Gotcha Day and we had Juli visiting from MSP and Mel (the boys cousins) up from Decatur, Il where she is doing and internship for Catepillar. We kept the pace going hitting the pool 3 days, Chucky Cheese, and July 4th. Jet loved his special day with special fireworks and his mom's homemade chocolate cake (dairy free so all can enjoy). Jet stayed up late and watched his first fireworks show and caught lots of fireflies which are out in full force this year. We are amazed that it's only Jet's 5th gotcha day but also amazed at how big he's gotten all of the sudden ... actually Charlie too. He's such a big boy and getting into big boy things: Superheroes, peer parties, bikes, competitive sports, ect .... . Makes us want to stop time.

One of the reasons I've been so slow to post is that I was in another 'assassin' knitting game making a summer tote. I was just finishing up the straps when I was killed. At least I got a really cool bag out of the deal.
Chris is busy in his new role. Since it's been officially announced, we can share that he is taking an equity position in the new company. It's really exciting and we're so proud of all his hard work. On a funny note, this blog caught the eye of the IT team prior to the official buy and announcement. Funny what comes up when googled. They were checking to make sure nothing was seeping out prior to the deal being announced. Ok ... so Chris tells me that the IT team told him that they read my blog ... my response ... Did they enjoy it. Chris "yes they said it was very good". "wow I thought ... a third party thinking my blog is great ... how cool is that". It took until after the boys were in bed and I had time to really ponder this that I realized .... "what are they going to say .... Chris your wife's blog sucks! Of course they are going to say that it's good. My bubble was burst. So big brother ... if you are out there reading this ... do you really like it?

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Annual Neighborhood Block Party

A distinct feature about being a "Chicago-an" is that we treat our parties seriously. This includes tailgates, life milestones, charity events, and even room mother parties. So when we have a block party ... this isn't your normal, run of the mill neighborhood get-together. Our block party this last weekend included a jumpee, a balloon guy (aka juggler), a live band, a slip & slide, two grills serving brats and burgers, an outdoor movie for the kids, appetizers, sides, desserts and lots of beverages. Now throw in 3 downpours, thunder, lightening, a tornado watch and the party is really memorable. This is my all time favorite thing about Chicago ... our neighborhood. It looks like Mayberry and it's a fantastic place for kids to grow up. Our block could field it's own baseball team, we have that many kids, that young. We live in our front yards during the summer and we keep up with what's going on with each other's families, kids and pets.

The only thing missing from our evening was a wet t-shirt contest but after the first downpour ... that too happened (not such a good thing for those past our wet tshirt prime like me)!

It was hot, muggy, buggy and rainy but everyone had a great time. Gosh, our best trouper was our across-the-street neighbor Walter. He's 93 years old and lasted through 2 downpours and the Belmont.

Our niece Melanie made it in for the weekend. It was so nice to have her. I think she enjoyed her stay ... it certainly was entertaining. She's living 3 hours away this summer (internship for Caterpillar) so we hope to see more of her ... assuming that we didn't scare her off this last weekend.

Back to the party, we had lots of creative retreats ... front porches, umbrella's, garages ... yes that's our youngest set eating dinner next to our gas filled lawnmower ... and under tree's. We didn't say that we were the brightest lot huddling under trees with lightening but after viewing the horse race with a few beers ... we liked our odds!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Note to self ... shower and clean up before the next photo op.

We made the news this week with one of the adoption groups that we have become involved with - see the link. OMG! If this isn't motivation to diet then I don't know what is. The message however is fabulous and the boys - all three- look great. That's what happens when you schedule Pet Parade (see below), the chinese MD appt (which ran 2 hours late and we finally had to leave) and a photo op back 2 back. Well I guess it wasn't really back 2 back. If the Dr. Wu would have been on time, I would have looked marvelous - at least that's what I'm telling myself.,ws-webadopt-060308-s1.article

Monday, June 2, 2008

Look Ma! No Wheels ... training that is!

The big milestone this week was Jet riding his bike without his training wheels. It didn't take him long to get the hang of it. He's taken a few tumbles but goes at a pretty swift pace and can make corners. He did give a local Senior, out walking his Bischone, a near heart attack this morning as he came barreling toward him on the sidewalk screaming "Get out of the way! Get out of the way!" while at the same time doing non-stop ringing on his bike bell. I had to scream back for Jet to stop his bike and let the gentlemen and his dog pass - another near heart attack as I was using my top "mom" voice and it came from behind the poor old guy. I think this man will be taking a different path on his morning walk tomorrow. God bless him. Jet seems like such a big boy ... all done with preschool and on his way to kindergarten.
The other excitement for the week was the big local village Pet Parade. It's a parade that is in it's 62nd year in our village. Really anyone can walk in the parade ... pet or no pet. We saw alpacas, llamas, goldfish, every dog (and rescue group) known to man, guinea pigs, camels, and even a boa constrictor. You throw in a couple of local marching bands, a few bagpipe groups, clowns and some old tired looking floats and it's a parade. The highlight was the candy tossing to the kids ... let's face it ... with all that I mentioned above ... it's kind of a kiddie mardi gras. We got there early and set up camp on the sidewalk in the shade. It's a huge deal ... a little Mayberry-esk ... that's part of the charm. We ended up near the announcer's stand so it was like one rolling advertisement after another for local businesses. The cutest ad was the camel with two humps who carried the sign for the local chiropractor ... "don't let your back look like this ... come visit La Grange Chiropractors". That gives you a little taste for the parade.
Charlie's last day of school is this Thursday. I'm not letting the grass grow underneath his feet though. The boys start summer camp on Monday (3 mornings per week). Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you look at it) I spend spring break with the boys with nothing planned. That one week motivated me to plan an action filled summer. We should have lots of good stuff to report.