Tuesday, August 24, 2010

First Day of School Picture Gallery

So no shots of the pedicures...sorry. The night's sleep was less than optimal especially for Mari who would doze off and then wake up expecting it was morning and then come into our room to vent! She has been sooooooooooo looking forward to being back in school that the night just wasn't moving fast enough for her. I, on the other hand, was a WRECK from all the interruptions. I finally snapped at her and announced that the next time she woke up better be 7 AM because if it was any earlier she was being kept home from her first day for sleep deprivation!! A very good threat for someone who didn't want to miss the day for any reason!!

Julia is not usually keen to be headed back to school BUT the very positive experience in her new school last year coupled with the knowledge that she had gotten her choice of 4th grade teachers made her excited too!

Oh, and since she wore Elvis on the first day last year she figured he was responsible for her great year and therefore needed to be worn again!

Andrew....well not too excited....

but he went off without a fight. 

Now Alyssa is a tricky bit of photography! See there's this 'peer pressure' thing called .......

Alex which made her less than enthusiastic to pose for the 'traditional' 1st day of school pose....but she humored our favorite Auntie Peggy and did it anyhow!

Deirdre with the equally picture phobic Mairead!

And finally our Daniel...who's never one to stand still long enough for a picture!

Just had to show you the adorable little model in my Dia de los Muertos dress.......

Thanks for pictures Leah!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mother's Independence Day Preparations

The girls' summer vacation is rapidly coming to an end. As a matter of fact, tomorrow is their 1st day of school[aka Mother's Independence Day!!!]. We've been in the preparation mode for a couple of weeks now and with this afternoon's pedicures we mark the end of the  back to school phase. I'll try to get some decent pictures to post of this last Mother/Daughter summer outing but in the meantime I thought I'd give you a peek of our 'last' Friday Family Summer Dinner.

The harvest is picking up steam! We are all getting saturated with cucumbers...time to pawn them off on the neighbors!

I headed over to Auntie Peggy's a little earlier in the day to start the main course....

So??? We happen to LOVE corned beef!!!!! Besides, there were those mega-heads of cabbage to be eaten (:

Just to tweak us, Andrew set the table with his favorite CHRISTMAS cloth and dishes. Grandma was not up to the heat and humidity to make the drive up to Auntie Peggy's but everyone else manged to pull up a seat!

We had kind of expected it to be the type of night where the kids could run and race around outside, catch lightening bugs, and sing around the fire pit...but it decided to rain that evening ):

No worries!!! Auntie Peggy has a gas range so the S'mores dessert plan was not ruined by the rain!!!

I had found these HUGE marshmallows at the local grocery store. So huge that the little mouths really had to stretch to get around those S'mores!

But S'mores being S'mores meant that even the bigger mouths had 'issues' with the marshmallows!

And hands too!! 

Good things there were a lot of dishes that needed washing to get those gooey hands into warm sudsy water!

Now I don't mean to leave you with the impression that Family Dinner nights are over for good!! Just the Friday night version for the summer. Religious education classes are on Wednesdays this year...so Family Dinner Night will just move to Wednesdays....and include HOMEWORK not S'mores and lightening bugs!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer!

Been a very loooong week! The oppressive heat wave broke the same day that our 6 month old air conditioning condenser broke! At first I was considering the consequences of doing bodily harm to the HVAC guy when he announced that it was a "freaky leak in the aluminum coil NOT a leaking solder joint" and that Trane was sending a replacement coil....NEXT WEEK!!!!!!!!!! Now in retrospect I'm happy to have had these couple of cool nights with the screens in the windows. Usually "letting in fresh air" results in a wheezing Julia so we pretty much live in a tightly controlled HVAC home but even she was loving the 60 degree night breezes after so many weeks of unrelenting heat. I've forgotten the hypnotic hum of cicadas as you drift off to sleep...and wish I could forget the smells left each evening by the resident skunk population.

We squeezed in one last summer outing before school starts.....

Okay, so petting cats [Mari took these!] wasn't exactly the point of the outing....

Horses were!!!!

I soooo need a camera with a faster shutter and some practice with panning as I missed a BUNCH of shots of them heading in and out from the trail!!

I didn't ride this time because of my wrist so I strolled around and visited with the animals while they were out on the trail. Found this albino pony....

which just looked like he belonged in a fairy movie!
The back to school train is firmly on the track with new haircuts, supplies, and gym shoes. Julia's school has a 'tradition' of posting the class assignments on the doors to her school a couple of days before the start of school.

Here she is moving in to see the verdict....
Yeah, she got the teacher she was hoping for...but almost none of her new friends...boo hoo. Being my easy going child she was over the disappointment before she even made it to the car with a proclamation of "Well I guess I'm about to make more new friends!"

Mari has been in to set up her locker and have a 'walk through' of her SEVENTH GRADE schedule.....just where does the time go????? She's been dying to get back to school since the 4th of July and is finding these last couple of days to be an eternity.

My wrist continues to heal and strengthen. Been cleared to wear the brace 'part-time', meaning I need to have it on for strenuous activity but may have it off the rest of the time....guess it's all the OT I've been doing in the sewing room (:

Have done a bunch of Etsy orders and am off to the post office tomorrow with EIGHT completed dresses!!! Found a way of getting a bit more flexibility in size for my jumpers....

By having the shoulder straps  go through buttonholes on the back of the bodice and tie in a bow I get a cute look as well as a way to adjust fit!!!

The HVAC guy came this evening and installed the new coil.....off to bed to the hypnotic hum of a condenser fan....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Fungi, Family, and Far Fetched Comparisons

I'm still hooked on the whole Ancestry.com thing. Like a true addiction, my family has suggested they might need to stage an intervention to save me from the winding trails back into my past! Some have refrained because they do want to know the scoop on the ancestors but I think a few others might be convening planning meetings to organize the 'intervention' (:

I don't really have the words to describe how the tidbits I find send tingles of excitement throughout my whole being! Then there's the ironic finds.....

You may recall that I had started with my Dad's family first because we knew so much about my Mom's family already. WELL....let's just say the paper record trail isn't quite matching with the maternal story line!!! The story line [in the abridged version] is that her mother's family had come straight to Chicago from Ireland some time in the 1870's...this seems to be true as I've found lots of that family all over the Cook County records all the way back to 1887. According to the story line, her father's family had also come in the 1870's and they were all New Yorkers.....sort of only very partially true! Seems my grandfather, who supposedly opened the Chicago branch of the family after being sent here by the Navy to act as a stenographer at Great Lakes Naval Base during WWI, had not only been in the area for much longer than that but had been preceded here by several Aunts and Uncles who not only didn't come from NY [seems they arrived from Ireland in Rhode Island?!?!?] and more like the 1850's not 1870's] but who had gone out to the Butte, Montana copper mines and then returned as far as Chicago where I found an 1880 Federal Census record of their residence.

I know a lot of this from the documents found on Ancestry.com AND a pair of ancient, dusty photo albums my Mom had inherited from her Dad...that dashing gent in the above photograph!
In his beautiful calligraphic script there are descriptions. Not fleshy ones detailing genealogy as I would like but ones showing a young man on the MOVE!! He owned a motorcycle with a side car and back before highways were even a concept he documented trips from his CHICAGO base out to Butte, Montana in 1917....

were we meet  "a cousin in Butte" .....sigh....c'mon Grandpa couldn't you have given me the tiniest bit of a hint of how this cousin was related???? He has pictures in Denver, The Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, San Diego and lots more at the Wisconsin logging camp where I found him in the 1920 Federal Census.....but here he is in his Navy duds with his mother [my Great-grandmother!!!!] and brother in 1918 in their New York backyard?????

That's him on the left!

So he left Great Lakes and went to Wisconsin to live AFTER WWI ended!!! So much for the 'story'! There are pictures dated all through the 20's of "Ohio Trip" and "Washington DC Trip" and "Travels back East". Then he seems to 'settle down' and marry my Grandmother and snap pictures of his growing family including this one of my Mom.....

who was always deathly afraid of our birds when they would make the odd escape during my childhood?!?!? Maybe this canary left deep seated scars?

The photo albums really sparked some long lost memories in my Mom! Suddenly I heard about these cousins....

the GREAT grandchildren of one of those Uncles who supposedly lived in New York with all her other paternal relatives....except they lived in Chicago.....and according to the Federal Census records so had the Uncle, his son, grandson, AND Great grandsons!!!  Two of my Grandfather's Aunts had also settled here and while my Mom regaled me for the first time ever with tales of these different families she kept maintaining that they weren't her father's relatives....just family friends....even after I showed her the paper trail?!?!? 

Now this is the far fetched part of the post......

So the other day I find these mega-monster mushrooms growing in my neighbor's parkway.

There were more beginning to sprout as well. I happen to know that these mushrooms grow as a result of decomposing wood in the soil. Now I was here last summer when the big old maple up by their house finally died and was cut down. But my new neighbors just moved in this spring and they wouldn't have known about the maple tree! So as they look at these mushrooms growing 20 feet away they might very logically assume the parkway was the location of the old tree. Only someone with all the information would know that these mushrooms are sprouting from the extended root structure!

Did my Mom only ever hear about the big family tree in New York and not the roots that had made their way all the way out to Chicago and Butte? Was my Grandfather negligent in conveying the relationships to my Mother or was she so focused on the New York connection that she missed the 'mushrooms' that had sprouted from the Chicago branches? Not real confident that I'll ever have an answer but boy it makes the hunt interesting!!!

Time to add the caption updates that I got from my Mom so the next generation can understand the curious discrepancies that crop up in genealogy.....

Like why my Uncle and Grandfather were alone on this park bench in New York in 1937! I want them to know that it was just a "Boy's Trip" to the American Legion Convention in New York.......  nothing more.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pot Luck Saturday!

How easily I fall back into my bad habits! Silent all week and then try to cram everything into a single post...

As we gear up for the school year the discussion of which night would be 'family night' came up. Well just talking about it wasn't good enough for the kids so when this week's harvest looked like this....

We gathered at Auntie Peggy's for dinner and some good old fashion family time! We left the table setting to Andrew who saw nothing at all unusual about his table cloth selection......

And once the Scrabble board came out none of us noticed the table cloth anymore!!!! Especially Andrew and Auntie Peggy who were struggling with letter draws like this....

They ended up with the dreaded Q's as well (:

Speaking of back to school preparations....

It was eye exam time! Julia has fantastic correction free vision BUT this eye exam did reveal a potential explanation of why she is a less than enthusiastic reader. It's called exotropia....the opposite of crossed eyes...meaning she has to work her eye muscles extra hard to bring them into the reading position leading to fatigue!! We started 'eye push ups' to try and strengthen the muscles.

Mari has been in glasses since 4yo pre-school. I suspected that the recent spate of headaches might have meant the need for a new prescription...and boy did it!!! Her vision changed significantly....and not for the better. She went for a little bling it this year's choice of eye wear and even though she 'loves' these glasses she is so in the throws of teen insecurity and feels this shot of her makes her "look weird"...sigh. Wish I looked 'weird' like this .....

As if family night wasn't good enough, the cousins managed another 'get together' this week.

While Alyssa and Mari demonstrated what smooth and cautious drivers they were destined to be Andrew and Julia left us with deep concerns! Two good but veeerrryyy aggressive drivers in that pair!!!

Then the family were all gathered together once again this week....

and what has our rapt attention you may ask? We were watching presents being unwrapped!!

Happy 10th birthday cousin Daniel!!!!!!!!!