7: the coolest number

February 29th, 2008 § 2

To my not-so-little-anymore munchkin,

Two-ish weeks ago you turned 7, and I didn’t want to let that pass without a little fanfare. Actually, there was much fanfare, probably too much, as the celebration was stretched out across a few weeks to include all of the little and not so little treats you got from us and others. Somehow this year violated our “less is more” commitment, but it was nice to give you a little “more is more” — and fortunately you seem to have come down from it all with some rationality and humility intact.

For at least the last 4-5 of your 7 years, we have asked that your birthday partygoers bring donations to the animal shelter in lieu of presents. We chose the animal shelter because of your early and deep connection to animals, because your dearest love Maxwell came from said shelter, and because it seemed like a charitable cause that you could connect with and understand. We chose to begin this tradition both to combat the tremendous influx of “stuff” that enters our house during these winter gifting months, and to serve as an example of our family’s desire both to live more simply and to give to others. I have always wondered how long we would be able to maintain this tradition, whether the trips to visit the shelter and bring our goodies would sustain your support, or whether there would come a time where your exposure to other parties with tables full of giftage would make you think about, or feel badly about, what you are missing out on. These last few years, the peer pressure of “having” seems to have really intensified for you (one of the bigger downsides about the elitism in private education?), and I really didn’t know whether you’d still buy into this tradition. And yet it is now you, not us, who drives this wonderful tradition. You have shared with me your excitement about collecting for the animals, and brought it up long before I even dared to ask. You told me how glad you were that you did this, and even shared your own awareness that you had too much “stuff” and didn’t want to get anything from your friends. I can’t tell you how much I admire the spirit of giving that you have embraced as a young child. You also allowed me to feel that we could spare to do a little “more” for you from us this year, and to enjoy giving to someone who was genuinely appreciative.

Daddy and I have both noticed some real maturing in you that has accompanied this path to “7”. The toolset that we have worked so hard to give you seems to be getting some real, independent use. You will always probably experience much of life more deeply than most, taking in what is going on around you more acutely, but you have come such a long way in making that sensitivity work for you. You blow me away with the ways you think about things at such a young age (and I’m not just talking about your ruminations about whether PetSmart really was intended to mean “Pets Mart” or “Pet Smart”), and I hope that you will continue to be able to use your gifts to make such amazing sense of this world. It surely needs it.

You seem to be setting your own limits but taking risks so much more willingly these days. Last week at the waterpark, I found myself remembering the first rather torturous experience in a similar venue, having to hold your hand and “nudge” (translation: drag) you to even set a foot in the shallow waters (this after several years of swimming lessons that we had eventually put on hold because of the toll it took on us all). And this round, you were bounding all over the place, swimming underwater, and hurling yourself down water slides on your own volition. I hope that you know that I have no burning desire for you to be a master swimmer or to specifically master water slides, but I just ached for you when it seemed for so many years that we had to back off of almost every potentially joyful experience because of fear and anxiety (or because of our exhaustion in helping you to overcome said fear and anxiety). Daddy and I just about couldn’t contain ourselves at seeing your immense pride in your own bravery, and watching you experience something as a result which brought you joy.

Things have been on an upswing for you in other areas too. I swear, there is a part of me that thinks that the last crazy tooth that hung on for nearly a year was like an albatross around your neck that, when finally released (translation: forcefully extracted by Mommy), allowed your entire being to relax a little. It has really felt like letting that go allowed you to regain some of your own sense of control, and has resulted in a much happier little girl. The fights, the fits, the fears, the overall sass… they’re not gone, but they seem to have settled into a much more manageable level for us all. You are sharing with us much more willingly, you are willingly giving and receiving kindness and love (even the occasional voluntary hug or snuggle!), you’re not a ticking time-bomb when I pick you up from school, and you are even beginning to respond to requests to pick up your tornadic messes without us feeling that we might be battered as a result… 🙂

I know that a part of this transition has been our willingness to take a step back, to recognize that every minute of your life no longer belongs solely to us as your parents, and to give you some of the space and privacy that you are beginning to need. The ironic lesson that this has allowed you to open up and be willing to share more with us is not lost on me, and I’m hoping that I can continue to remember that into your teenage years.

In the meanwhile, I will wax nostalgic about the 7 years that have passed so unbelievably quickly, and look optimistically forward to the years I have yet to spend with you. Happy Belated Birthday!

Love, Mommy

Ballet, an iPhone pic slideshow…

February 29th, 2008 § 0

My Trip, by Alli B

February 27th, 2008 § 0

Todays Date 2/26/o8 febarary.


Last week I whent to this fun water park! And there was a green water
slide and a yello water slide and a blue water slide and a red water
slide. And I tride theme all! There was only one I did not like. The
red one. At first I was like ohno I am never trying that itey bitey
slide. But then my mom sed that it would give me more time if I did
try it. So I did.

Chapter two. So then after that I did the slides
over and over agen. My faverite slides where green and yello. The
green one was very vary long and also on the yello and the green slide
when you finealy come down from the slide you go splash! Rite in the


Chapter three. When it was time to go back and change it was
pritty close to diner. And we whent to diner. And we came home ordeerd
breckfast and whent to bed.

Chapter four. The next morning we ate the
orderd breckfast and then startid to pack. And then that same day we
whent to a frends house that was three owers away!

Chapter Five. That same day I slept in my noo sleeping bag! It was cold where
I had to sleep. But my sleeping bag was worm.

Chapter six. The day after that we whent back home. I was ixidid about seeing the cats
Maxwell Ziggy and Roo. And we where finealy back home. Max!!! I love
max. And the next day was school and docter amy. And I and I am so
glad to be back.

Writin by Allison

21st century girl

February 24th, 2008 § 0

Following Alli’s discovery of “a really cool band but they’re all REALLY OLD” (the Beatles), we dug out an LP to show Alli what a “record” was.

Another reminder of our generation gap occurred during a hotel stay this weekend, where Alli drug out the yellow pages and asked, “what in the world is this?”

We explained what a phone book was and were greeted by an eye roll.

“Can’t you just look numbers up on the INTERNET?” 

Praise be to Al Gore.

Guess what Andrew just won at a conference?

February 20th, 2008 § 2

Big hint:



And apparently also a pair of night vision goggles.

So now he can go out and hunt vegetables in the dark.

Happy Birthday

February 18th, 2008 § 0

In an insanely busy week, Alli managed to turn 7 without my having a chance to document the fanfare. Pics from her birthday party this weekend below with more to come later.

A new bunk bed, breakfast and dinner at favorite restaurants, sledding with Daddy, too many gifts from loved ones, waaay too many Hannah Montana gifts, a pottery party, 2 cakes, and an afternoon tea at American Girl… oh, my.

Happy Birthday, my beloved not-so-little-anymore munchkin. I love you more than words can say, although I’ll try to find some words for posterity in a bit.

P.S. How about a low-key, single, simple celebration next year? 🙂

School swimathon

February 9th, 2008 § 0


Proud to be an American?

February 6th, 2008 § 0

Instant message conversation with a co-worker today….. 

me me me: Vote?
Notme: No I want to but don’t know how
me me me: Are you registered?
Notme: I don’t think so
Notme: Can you do off the internet
me me me: Freak
me me me: No
Notme: That’s why people don’t vote
Notme: Not easy
Notme: Besides obama gonna win
me me me: It took me 10 minutes
me me me: Have you ever voted?
Notme: Nope
Notme: Where can I do it
Notme: Library?
me me me: You gots to be registered
Notme: I’m not so what can I do
Notme: Can I register for the main one?
me me me: And you have polling places near your house for your voting convenience
me me me: Yes you can register for general election
Notme: How
me me me: Dial. 1-800-RegisterMe
Notme: Until yesterday I didn’t know that today was super tues
Notme: U serious?
me me me: Yes
Notme: Its a govt setup
Notme: That don’t want more people to vote
me me me: They probably don’t do it during those horrible reality shows you watch
Notme: Why not. That’s what most people watch now
Notme: I watched paradise hotel 2
Notme: Yesterday
Notme: Actually I was also watching larry king live too and they didn’t have any commercials on how to vote
me me me: I’m gonna need to see your high school and college diplomas
Notme: Ha
Notme: I got some conterfeits

Puxatawney Phil, why all the hate?

February 5th, 2008 § 0



A day after dense fog in Chicago canceled hundreds of flights, forecasters said another winter storm would hit the area Tuesday night into Wednesday, bringing up to a foot more of snow.

The National Weather Service early Tuesday morning issued a winter storm warning, saying rain and sleet will eventually turn to snow that could fall heavily across northeast Illinois.

The predictions of 8 to 12 inches of snow said the heaviest amounts are expected in the western and northern suburbs and into Rockford.

“This is a very dynamic situation with snow fall amounts of 1 to 2 inches per hour possible,” the weather service warned.

Winds will also increase to 20 m.p.h to 30 mph., making blowing and drifting of snow is also likely. Some uncertainty remains regarding the timing of precipitation changing from a wintry mix to all snow, but when the changeover occurs the precipitation will remain all snow for the remainder of the storm, the weather service said.

The newest severe-weather warning comes a day after heavy, dense fog draped downtown buildings and caused extensive disruption at the area’s two biggest airports. Many travelers whose flights were canceled at Midway and O’Hare International Airports were scrambling to find replacement flights to escape the city before the next wave of bad weather moves in.


February 5th, 2008 § 0

So I voted this morning. Democratic ballot, I know — what a shocker… not.

Mom, do you ever just shake your head and wonder how I turned out this way? 🙂

Anyhoo, there was a long line for the electronic voting, and a chickenload (vegan translation: a LOT) of judges on the ballot, so I went paper. Little did I know I was signing up for the GIGANTO-ballot. I swear, there were two sheets of paper, two-sided, and they were like 5 times the size of my head! No more hanging chads, thanks to the freaky felt-pen “draw a line between two arrows” dealie (NOT a fan), but I now envision some sort of election injury scandal from folks who lost the wrangling battle trying to keep the poster-board ballot sheets tamed and inside of the unfolded suitcase polling booth. Just for jokes, I think, I was also offered a GIGANTO-sized “voter privacy” paper cover.

Like I needed one more poster-board to wrangle.

And like my GIGANTO votes couldn’t be seen from space.

Hey, do bigger votes get counted more?

Where am I?

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