Category Archives: family

Before 9:00 a.m.

A couple of weeks ago, I started writing this blog post and didn’t finish it. My mornings aren’t usually this busy! Today was a typical morning for me; I got up after I had hit the snooze button a couple of times, drove Lily to orchestra, walked Emmy to school and drove myself to work. I even managed to put roast beef in the crock pot for dinner! But every once in while, things get crazy around here….

This morning (October 28), I couldn’t sleep. I rolled out of my warm bed into the cold bedroom at 5:45 to have a cup of coffee with Ed before he left for work. I usually don’t even hear him leave, even though my alarm is set for six. But I was anxious this morning because our furnace had quit on us the night before. Fortunately, it was a good time for the furnace to break. The low temperature was only on the 50s, so the house stayed fairly warm, dropping down to 64 degrees. Not so bad; could be worse!

At 7:00, I went to wake up Lily. Her room was still pitch black and I hated to do it, but I had to drive her over to the middle school for orchestra in 45 minutes. After I made sure Lily was up, I hopped in the shower so I could actually have dry hair before we got in the car.

What happened next was a whirlwind of accomplishment…not my usual thing in the morning. I dropped off Lily at orchestra and when I got home I called our furnace company to come fix the heat. It’s Pumpkin Patch day at the girls’ school, and both Lily and Emmy decorated pumpkins. I loaded both pumpkins into our little red wagon, and Emmy and I walked to school with them bumping behind us. It was rainy, so Emmy made sure the plastic garbage bag I placed over the painted pumpkins stayed in place.

With both girls where they needed to be, I lowered the third row of seats in my van so I had more room. I carried an old stereo system and two antiquated printers up from the basement and loaded them into the back of the van. I had had carpool duty the night before, or I would have put them in the car sooner! It’s the last Wednesday until Spring when I could drop off electronics for recycling at the Village Public Works building, and I was determined to make it there!

After sweating in my raincoat just a bit, I finally departed for work. Everything else that day went smoothly. My electronic were recycled, the technician ordered parts to fix our furnace, and each daughter received a participation ribbon for their pumpkins.

Phew! Are your mornings usually hectic? Or do you follow a smooth routine? I’m glad that every morning is not like that morning was!

Wishing you a Good Morning and a strong, hot cup of coffee.



Family Field Trip to Springfield, IL: Part One

Wecome to Springfield

For Columbus Day weekend, Ed and I decided to take a little trip for our anniversary. We thought it would be fun to take a trip to Springfield to see the Lincoln sites, even though Emmy protested because she “doesn’t like to learn things on vacation.”

Even though the girls had a three day weekend off from school, they didn’t have an early dismissal. So of course we had a little delay getting out of town due to the infamous Chicago rush hour traffic. When we were finally south of Joliet, we started looking for a place to eat. You know my Ed; he likes to eat at local places. So when we saw a sign for the Whistle Stop Cafe, we had to try it. I thought it sounded interesting because it has the same name as the cafe in one of my favorite books, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Even though I didn’t see fried green tomatoes on the menu, it was a charming small town cafe!

Downtown Springfield

We arrived at our hotel in Springfield late that night, and went promptly to bed so that we would be able to explore the capital the next day. It was pretty quiet the next morning when we arrived, and we discovered that street parking is free on the weekends! I had brought along blank pieces of paper and pencils for the girls to do rubbings of the medallions that are all over the downtown area. They are on plaques¬† called “Looking for Lincoln,” and Lily and Emmy had fun finding new plaques all day.

Looking for Lincoln
I have wanted to visit the “new” Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum ever since it opened. I read an article about it in the paper and it sounded like a great place to visit. Well, it turns out the museum is already ten years old! There are some amazing exhibits, and the museum was great for kids and adults. While Emmy did get bored while Ed and I were reading some of the exhibit signs, she really enjoyed the movies. (Don’t miss the movies! The special effects are very cool!) I loved how the exhibits were divided into two parts; the left side of the museum was Lincoln’s early life and his time in Springfield; the right side was Lincoln’s years in the White House.

Lincoln Museum

We spent about 3 hours in the museum and felt like that was plenty of time to see most of the exhibits. Then it was time for lunch (I had a horseshoe) and a visit to Lincoln’s Springfield home. The National Park Service has taken over Lincoln’s old neighborhood, and we needed to stop by the Visitor’s Center first to get our tickets to tour the house. The tickets are free, and they assign you a time and a tour guide.

Lincoln's House
Lincoln's desk
Our last stop for the day was Lincoln’s tomb. We made it just in time; the inside of the tomb closes at 5:00 p.m.

Rubbing Lincoln's nose for good luck.
Rubbing Lincoln’s nose for good luck.

The next day, it was off to Lincoln’s New Salem. Part Two tomorrow!


Solo Road Trip: Part Three

When I was growing up, we always celebrated Thanksgiving with my Dad’s family. Now that my cousins and I are older, we’ve taken over hosting Thanksgiving, but with a twist. It’s been hard to get everyone together on Thanksgiving itself, so we have a “Pre-Thanksgiving” celebration. This year my cousin and her husband graciously hosted our family in Midland, Michigan, this past October.

(Read Part One and Part Two)

Midland MI

After our breakfast and during our exploration of Midland, my aunt and I discovered the trail that led to my cousin’s house. It meandered along the river for part of the way, and even though it was overcast, it was a beautiful day. My aunt has always been a walker, but now that she’s 80 years old, she moves a bit slower than she used to. I kept her company and we chatted about books and teaching preschool, while Lily and Emmy went ahead with my dad. When Dad found out that we had about a mile to go, he thought it would be too far, but then he stumbled upon the cemetery that is right next to my cousin’s neighborhood. He and the girls rambled about quite happily, looking at the tombstones.

Fall trees

Towards the end of our walk, it started to sprinkle on us, so we were quite happy to reach our destination. While I started off with another cup of coffee, some time that afternoon my cousin’s husband put a Long Island iced tea in my hand! I wasn’t going to argue with him.

The house itself is beautiful. It’s a big house, with plenty of places to store things. In fact, the house may have too much storage space. My cousin, who is very organized, had bought the perfect paper plates for our Thanksgiving meal. She put them in a very safe place. So safe that she couldn’t find them! I helped her look for a little while, but the iced tea made me quite unambitious. She even sent her daughter’s boyfriend out to buy more plates, when voila! She remembered they were in a salad bowl on top of a dining room cabinet!

The day flew by. I visited with various aunts and uncles and cousins. Lily and Emmy were just beside themselves with joy when their second cousins arrived and the real fun (according to them) could begin. We ate a marvelous Thanksgiving dinner complete with turkey and cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. (We almost lost the pies, but I believe they were found in the master bedroom.) We sang, told stories, sat around the fire pit, and played cards.

One of my cousins, telling a family story
One of my cousins, telling a family story

The day had turned dark, and it had been raining on and off ever since we had arrived. When I told the girls it was time to go back the hotel, Emmy looked up at me, a bit worried. “Mommy, I don’t want to walk to the hotel in the dark,” she said, very seriously. I had already arranged for a ride back, and told her not to worry. I didn’t want to walk back to the hotel either!

Our trip to Midland was spontaneous…as spontaneous as I get these days. I had originally decided not to go, since Ed couldn’t go with us. While I wish that Ed had been there too, I was also glad that I had made the trip by myself, with Lily and Emmy. Seeing my family made the solo road trip worth every mile!

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Solo Road Trip: Part Two

I discovered the trick to getting Lily and Emmy to sleep in at a hotel. Usually the girls share a bed, and then they wake up early and start talking to each other. They want to go eat breakfast or are excited about swimming in pool, and there is just no sleeping in at a hotel. This time, however, Lily slept with me and Emmy had the bed to herself. While sleeping with a ten year old sqiurmy girl wasn’t so much fun for me, it did keep the girls from waking each other up the next morning! Since we had gotten to the hotel in Midland so late, I really wanted the girls to sleep in. And so we did!

The hotel didn’t have a complimentary breakfast, and my aunt and uncle found a place that made crepes for breakfast. Lily and I ordered Wilbur’s Special, which of course had ham in it. (Don’t you think it should’ve been a vegetarian crepe instead?) I also had the largest coffee they had, which came in a wonderfully large refillable mug!

Lily Midland

After breakfast, we took a walk around Midland. Not far from our hotel, there is the “Tridge,” a place where the river divides into two. The Tridge is a bridge with three sections, one going across each section of water.

bridge in MidlandIt was a beautiful Fall day, and we discovered the path that would take us to my cousin’s house. Our little downtown walk turned into a mile and a half walk, but no one minded. After all, there was more coffee at the end of the walk!

This isn’t quite all I had intended to write for Part Two; however, my computer is acting up and it’s late. Stay tuned for Part Three, coming your way tomorrow!




Celebrating firsts, whether I’m with her or not

I’ve been there for most of my first daughter’s firsts. First tooth, first steps, first day of preschool, first time riding a bike without training wheels.

First day of preschool
First day of preschool

I listened to her read her first book, Olivia’s Opposites, I held her hand when the dentist pulled out her first loose teeth (they wouldn’t come out on their own!), and I held her hand as we walked to her first day of Kindergarten.

First day of Kindergarten
First day of Kindergarten

However, there are some firsts that I missed. When Lily slept in a big girl bed for the first time, I was in the hospital after giving birth to Emmy. My parents had brought my old twin bed and set it up for Lily, so that Emmy would have a crib to sleep in when we came home from the hospital. Lily’s first sleepover was away from home. Oh, how I missed having her in her twin bed in the room next to mine! And there have been other firsts that I have missed because she was in school and I was at work; first visits to plays and museums that she has done without me.

As Lily grows older, there will be many more firsts for her that I will miss. It will be bittersweet for me; I was sad to miss her first night in a big girl bed, but was also happy that my parents had helped with that transition when I came home with a newborn. Some of her firsts make me nervous; such as the first time she crossed the street alone. She came home safe and sound after that first. Lily will not want me with her for some future firsts; she will definitely not want me there the first time she kisses a boy.

Safety patrol
First day as Safety Patrol

When Lily went to the Museum of Science and Industry without me, she came home and talked nonstop about her first visit. I know that I won’t always be there for the many “firsts” to come, but Lily knows that I’ll always be there to listen to all her “firsts.”

This week on the Spin Cycle, your writing prompt is Firsts. First day of school? First date? First driving lesson? First job? Write about a “First” in your life. Link it up here!

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