Friday, July 29, 2011

Wet and Wild

Another week of heat...this one just has come with a nightly bout of thunderstorms with oodles of rain leading to an even steamier next day! We continue to spend Patrick's days off of work up at Aunt Agnes' lake house as a way to survive this summer heat and develop a comfort level with Mother Nature for the girls. Well, girl....Mari is still very hands much so that she has been moved to over come her separation anxiety issues [which is a HUGE accomplishment] in order to stay home...or with a friend....with Auntie Peggy....well I'm beginning to think just about anyone who would save her from the 'wilderness'!!!!!!!!!!! Now she has 'dealt with it' a couple of times so the plan is not a complete failure. I'm just trying to bring myself to realize that my Grand Canyon dream vacation might have to wait until we can afford the hotels in the area!  BFF/Cousin Deirdre is just fine with Mari's nature aversion because it means she gets to take Mari's spot in the car!

After another night of heavy rain and thunderstorms, these two found an interesting little spot in Mother Nature. What are they looking at??

Rain water run-off!!

Practicing her creek crossing skills (-;  The lure of the water was, of course, too strong to resist and I did have a set of muddy shoes and play clothes to wash!

I must admit I was a tiny bit tempted to join in the leaf races and pebble tossing that seems to go hand in hand with rushing water....but I really, really hate walking in wet, squishy shoes. While I ran the load of wet muddy cloths in the machine the girls bathed.... THE LAKE!!! The funny thing about being 'regulars' up at the lake is that none of the grown-ups mind if you use their boat as a diving board. This is a good thing for a family who has no boat!

Boy, I've really been trying to get her to stop holding that nose.....

Wondering what caused her to make this face?

Yep, at least one of my girls is fine when Mother Nature gets up close and personal!

She tried catching these tiny toads that hop around the woods up here but those buggers have proven to be SPEEDY. BFF/Cousin Deirdre is a nature lover as well so they spend hours tromping through the underbrush in search of adventure. So far they've watched two fawns frolic in a glade and found and old abandoned house over grown with vines....besides the toads ...and mosquitoes!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lake Livin'

Never been one of those families who "did the lake" every weekend. Patrick was raised in the cool,wet bogs of Kerry and I was a Southside Chicago pavement pounder and we both came from huge families with no financial flexibility!

Fast forward to 2011 and the summer from Hades...literally it has been as hot as ...well you get the idea, right? This week was particularly extreme. We started the week with a trip into the city to meet up with some friends at a Guatemalan restaurant.  

I got the camera out in anticipation of getting pictures of the event but then the conversation took off and the heat crept up and up...

Notice how shiny Julia and little miss D's faces are in this picture? The little window unit over the doorway just could not keep up with the 100+ degree heat!!!

Didn't stop little miss D from teaching Mari how to download "mad chickens" AKA Angry Birds onto my phone though!!

By Tuesday we were so ready to flee the heat! All summer we have been taking Patrick's days off as a chance to head up to Aunt Agnes' lake house in Wisconsin. While it was every bit as hot in the Lake Geneva area where the 'cottage' is located there was....


BFF/Cousin Deirdre was with us, of course! But this week Auntie Peggy and Alyssa decided to join us "at the lake house". Funny thing about traveling with Auntie Peggy...she's a born nurse...I mean she had the nurse's gene from birth and there's a funny thing that happens with nurses....they have this kind of OCD like thing with cleaning!!

She just could NOT help herself !?!? Even Mother Nature has 'issues' she feels the need to correct....

Everything in its place and it seems, in Auntie Peggy's opinion, that aquatic vegetation does not belong in "the swimming hole"! Now looks can be deceiving. She felt the need to clean up these plants not out of a lack of sensibility to the balance of nature but out of a gardener's sense of clearing the the driveway of grass clippings...gathering the pulled weeds...

cleaning up after the water weed wacker thing!!!!! The things a city girl never knew about lake how the lake has to be mowed regularly!?!?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Surviving the Sizzle!

I should not be sitting here typing this at this moment in time.

We were scheduled to be on the train heading into Chicago right now.

There will be no water taxi ride for us today.

We will not walk the streets of Chinatown taking in the sights, smells, and most importantly the tastes at their annual street fair.

Today is one of those days when Mom plays the difficult role of spoil sport.

Today is supposed to be 100 degrees!!!! At 10 AM we are already marching steadily towards the 90 degree mark so I believe the meteorologist.

Instead, today we will be watching the USA play Japan for the Women's Soccer World Cup....and may even try a repeat of yesterday's cooling off measures??

Might have another noodle fight with your cousin?

Might goggle up and go for full pool immersion?

Might just float happily on a bed of foam?

Or not? We'll just have to play it by 'air'.......conditioning!?!?!

Friday, July 15, 2011

On cousins and chefs and...comas!!

Been a crazy kind of week around here. Power outage, work, heat, cheer camp, pool parties, city today I decided we needed a nice quiet afternoon here at home. I called it "getting back to normal". BIG MISTAKE because a 'normal' Friday around her routinely includes a certain 3rd daughter's arrival for her weekend visitation. I caved........

It is really easy to 'cave' when it comes to having BFF/Cousin Deirdre over at our house. Besides her whip smart wise cracks, Deirdre and Julia dive into imaginative play from the minute her bag is dropped in the vestibule meaning little to no 'work' for me!! One less voice whining "Moooooooom" a hundred times a day (-;

One of their on-going games is their 'Paris Plan'. These two characters have created a very elaborate story of how they are going to live together in an apartment in Paris where Deirdre plans to study art and theater while Julia studies to be a chef when they are "grown up". Often very messy craft projects are involved...because a budding artist needs a stocked studio with in progress projects!?!?! Today it was the chef's turn. I was thinking they would be excited to work with the first vegetable we harvested from our own garden this week...

...that would be a big NOT!!

Again I caved. The two girls were given carte blanche [because I've been informed that I need to learn French so I can come visit them!!] in my kitchen to create a "kid friendly" dessert. So here are the two new sweet treats!!

by Deirdre Norton

1 1/2 scoops of Nutella
5 Hershey Drop Candies
3 scoops of chocolate chips
4 crushed Oreos
2 cups of Hershey Syrup

Strawberry spray frosting to garnish [or now quoting the chef, "Any flavor frosting the kid likes that the Mom has on her baking shelf!]

The chef also provided the following warning at the bottom of her recipe page......"BEWARE, BEWARE, AT RISK OF SUGAR RUSH...or sugar koma(sic)! Deirdre Norton is NOT RESPONSIBLE for high sugar rush!!!!


by Julia Mahoney
(copied as written!)

5 spoon full's of peanut butter
A cuple hand full's of chocolate and butter scotch chipps
9 big squirts of honey
Mash it up and stir it up!

The chef's notes were..."Warnings!!! For people with diabties, clostrol problems, and sweet tooth it can give coma, discomfort, uncantolable eating, tummy ackes, and throuing up."

Really? Who would possibly get a 'tummy acke' or 'throu up' after eating such magnificent desserts?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


hours of living in Little House on the Prairie!!! Took the local power company FIFTY TWO hours to figure out how flip the right switch....seriously....we had no downed power lines from fallen flooded power vaults. Sigh....they claim it was a necessary move to prevent the "grid from crashing"...wouldn't mind sacrificing for the good of society EXCEPT the school building across the street HAD POWER even though they are CLOSED for summer vacation!?!?!?!?

With nothing much else to do we decided to breakdown two sets of bunkbeds, moved one set to the garage to be taken at a later date up to Aunt Agnes' lake house, moved the second set from Mari's bedroom into Julia's [because it was newer and had a trundle + bunkbed = 3 beds], went and picked up a queen set for Mari's room [thanks to cousin Alyssa who 'handed it down'] and set it up....all in 90+ degrees with no power. The sweat flowed...everyone was miserable...but we worked as a well oiled machine...and two little girls were distracted by the prospect of 'new' beds so the lack of power turned into just another family story about the day Mom and Dad had puddles of sweat in their glasses (-; Despite showers all around for hot sweaty bodies and a brief rain sprinkle which brought in cooler weather there was precious little sleep last night due to the block of generators roaring in backyards...which led to an irony...tonight we have LIGHTS....turned off by 9 PM because everyone was crashed into bed sleeping in the humidity free, air conditioned, climate controlled mid-century modern home!!! Pioneer women rock, I kneel in awe at their fortitude, I am profoundly blessed to have been born in the USA in the 20th century!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Now it is a 'derecho'!?!?!?

Well, we had another weather incident. This time the 80 mph winds were caused not by a 'microburst' but by a 'derecho' I really care the technical difference when the net result is the same!?!? Net result....17 hours without power so far and it has been warm and humid as heck....wouldn't you know that the Mahoney luck(less) in wishing for summer would come to pass with such a vengeance!

The generator is running smoothly during the day but for fear of it running dry ...or exploding ...I must now go out and turn it off and grope my way to the basement where it is almost cool enough for me to hope to sleep. Did I ever mention how in awe I am of my ancestors tenacity??? I cannot even fathom my gr-grandmothers in their long skirts and petticoats on a hot, humid Chicago July day as they cooked over flames.

To spare my nerves the girls have been packed off to Auntie Peggy's where power resumed after a 'brief' 8 hour outage....I just couldn't take one more request for me to use a powerless appliance to ease their hunger pains and sweaty brows since the whole concept of what electricity actually powers in our daily lives has been clouded by their pampered lifestyle to date. Must admit it was fun watching Patrick trying to microwave a mug of tea this'd think of all of us he'd be the most nonplussed about being electricity deprived. Thank God for laptops with decent battery life (-;

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Plus of Minus!

There was another major celebration in our house this week besides the 4th of July. It involves vision...a rather important sense in our family!

You may remember from past posts that Patrick has worn corrective lens since...well FOREVER! He is basically blind past his fingertips without his glasses. Thus he is very attentive to the care and keeping of his glasses especially after an extreme incident in his childhood when one pair went missing!

I, on the other hand, had beyond perfect vision until Mother Nature decided to celebrate my 45th birthday with the gift of presbyopia....the fancy medical terminology for loss of elasticity of the lens...another fancy way to say since your arms can't grow longer to help bring writing into focus you need to invest in reading glasses!! I fall into the buy them in bulk from Sam's Club and keep them everywhere category.

Mari failed her 3 year old pre-school Vision/Hearing screening conducted at the school....but we all somehow convinced ourselves that it was due to her recent arrival and language acquisition level that had interfered with her ability to correctly identify which way the E was pointing. We were wrong! She had superior language skills by 4 year old pre-school and still couldn't answer which way the E was pointing!!! Felt like a complete slacker when we picked up her first pair of glasses and she looked up at the TV screen in the mini-van on the car ride home and said "Wow that picture looks so good now!" She has never been enamored with the fact that she must be seen by her peers in glasses and literally puts them on in homeroom and takes them off as the final bell rings. She has had one pair break and has lost several cases but managed not to ever lose a pair....yet.

So this is where the reader may surmise I now introduce Julia in her new pair of glasses???

That would be a big NO! The optometrist says if he had many patients with as good a vision as Julia has he would be broke.

Maybe it is Alyssa who now wears glasses? No, she has worn them for years and comfortably alternates between frames and contacts. Auntie Peggy used to be as bad as Patrick but she was one of the RK in back in the day when they still did it with scalpels and not lasers!!! Was absolutely the most impressive, life altering thing when she had it done. The very day she had the first eye done, as I drove her home, she turned to look at our local grocery store as we passed and gasped at her new found ability to SEE the advertising signs hanging in the windows!

Gratuitous shot of fireworks now inserted to mark the big announcement!!!

As promised, we let Mari get contacts!!!! For several years she has been campaigning HARD to be allowed to ditch the frames...for purely VAIN reasoning. I decided she needed to be mature enough to handle the care and keeping of contacts herself and set 8th grade as the spot on the calendar when we would allow her to switch over. With a date now on the calendar from the orthodontist for the removal of her braces and the contacts she is now heading into a new school year with renewed confidence. 

I'm beginning to see the confidence in her body language...can't you??  Who would have guessed that there would be such a 'plus' when you subtract a pair of glasses and a mouthful of metal?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday to us....

Busy, busy, busy week culminating in two straight nights of celebrating!! Warm summer weather finally arrived in time for us to get outdoors to celebrate a good ole 4th of July....on the 3rd AND 4th!!! As a matter of fact I should be preparing for tonight's picnic and firework party but just thought I'd give a shout out to say Happy 4th of July to all our friends and family!!

Nice thing about our 'small' big town are the friendly neighbors! We choose not to pack in with the thousands of others in the local polo fields to watch the concert and fireworks every year in favor of a local business park with plenty of parking and no restrictions on food and toys you can have amongst your supplies. A very friendly neighbor joined our celebration this year.....

...a little 'friend' who found our 'big' girls to be far more fun and interesting than her family!

Especially when she discovered our little girls [that she called 'the big girls'] had a waaaay cool that flashed fire and popped loud when you throw it on the cement!

Meanwhile, our big girls sprayed themselves down and headed off to rollerblade through the fields of parking lots while waiting for dark to fall.

Auntie Peggy is already bummed at how much taller Mairead is than the rest of us...but add a couple more inches from rollerblades and she's really not happy!!

Did I mention that my creaky old cell phone went for a swim in the toilet earlier this week and that the blow dryer and rice tricks failed? Auntarie brought a book to read while waiting for dark and just as she thought she'd have to pack it in due to the dark, the big girls informed her that my new 'smartphone' had a 'flashlight' app...who knew?!?! I am scheduled to go back into the phone store this week to take lessons on how to use this Ferrari of a phone I now own...meanwhile my girls have already taken it around the track a couple of times while I'm still trying to figure out how to start the engine!!!!

As we watched Mother Nature's light show....

All the girls...including the newest little girl...settled in to snack and crack out the glow sticks and watch the spectacular display of fireworks while shouting out "Happy Birthday America!!"

As I head off to prepare for fireworks round two I thought I'd let you see a couple of shots I managed to catch as I practiced with my firework setting on the camera that I'm still student driving....

Don't blink!

Or you may miss this post that attempts to cram a bunch of the past week into this limited space!! Between Auntie Peggy and myself we have hundreds of pictures from this past week and I have had no time to edit or play with them in any manner....I also just grabbed a quick selection which may or may not include some of the 'best' shots taken this week. I apologize to Auntie Peggy in advance for just slamming some pictures up without first previewing and tweaking them!!

So here we go! Remember I left you in the last post at our family picnic...and I mentioned that my uncle had brought his family up from North Carolina to attend? Well it was also their summer vacation!?!? Being the 'make memories' kind of girls that we are, Peggy and I packed up my cousin, his wife, and their three children to see THE city!

Seeing as how it was a warm day during the midst of the annual Taste of Chicago festival, we headed to the train! Trying to find affordable parking downtown on a day as busy as this one would surely be was nigh on impossible!

Then we caught a water taxi to circle us around the Loop...
...with three little girls hanging on the front railing watching all the sights as we pointed out the many historic buildings and unique features seen along our route. They now know that the city of Chicago has more 'draw bridges' than any other American city and they witnessed several raising to let tall masted ships pass down the river.

First we took in the sights on Navy Pier!

We even popped for the group picture they take before you board the ginormous ferris wheel....

...where they got to see our beautiful city from the air!

They also road some of the other rides and we even splurged and did the fun house maze!

On our way out of Navy Pier we took in the Crystal Gardens....where someone played fast and loose with the rules regarding playing in the jumping fountains (-;

Train to a boat to a cab to a ferris wheel to our own two feet.... our journey next took us to Millennium Park where we....

...showed them the sculpture the artist calls Cloud Gate but us Chicagoan's just call The Bean [due to its amazing resemblance to a giant jelly bean!!!].

By this point we were ready for a cool down, so we took them down to the 'fountain' to splash in some cold water....

...which is not only allowed but ENCOURAGED by the city planners!!   

Now soaking wet and bone tired we caught cabs back to take the train home because the next day we had plans!!!....

...with a bigger group of the cousins to go to Brookfield Zoo!

It was such a warm day that most of the animals were found near their watering holes!

The kind of soooo very warm day that put cups of Dippin' Dots into the hands of everyone...even the Aunties who took in the sights from their electric carts!!

In an effort to cool off we also headed into the Living Seas exhibit where it turned out to be feeding time for the penguins..yeah! Except we were NOT the only ones with that plan but thanks to my making the big splurge on my camera purchase...

I could still see the show!!!!

As we were leaving the zoo for the day Julia just insisted I get one last picture....

...don't know why I thought it might have been one with all the cousins when this was a choice???!?!?!