Thursday, July 30, 2015

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Love Letter, Month 66

Dear Kate,

You are 66 months old today.
This has been the Month of Festivals it seems.  Although the weather has been decidedly un-summerlike, we have still managed to squeeze in what Chicago does best: Neighborhood Street Festivals. First up was a festival right in our neighborhood: Midsommarfest.

Next up was the Chinatown Dragon Boat Festival:
You were very happy when Ms. Vicky joined us for lunch and a taxi boat ride.
Although not technically in Chicago, the Strawberry Festival was a hit, especially when you learned how to use two sticks and some string to make large bubbles:

The big holiday this month was Fourth of July which, as luck would have it, was hot enough to spend at the beach.

Although you were pretty tired, you managed about 45 minutes of fireworks before asking to go home to bed.
As previously mentioned, this month has been topsy-turvy weatherwise so we've had both beach days

and rainy, cold, movie days. The newest Disney movie, Inside Out, was a big hit with you and Lucy.
There was a point though, towards the climax of the film, when you leaned over and whispered, "I have tears in my eyes Mama."  We had a nice talk afterwards about different emotions and what they mean, how they are expressed, etc. And most importantly, how we need all of them, even the yucky ones like fear and anger and sadness, in order to be human.

This month introduced you to some new experiences like tennis,

running your own business in the form of a lemonade stand,

petting an iguana and then having it climb atop your head,

learning hand-clapping games with your sister,
and having your first taste of sweet potato leaves and stems (a Chinese staple and gift from Ms. Lucy a few doors down, who grows many rows of them in her yard). You loved them and ate three plates full, in part I think because you sat on her front steps and helped her peel the stems one evening.

Although not a new thing, strawberry picking with Ms. Julie was a highlight of last week
and a visit from Nana in June was eagerly anticipated and enjoyed.
We had a few playdates with some of your oldest friends. First up was Ben who you were delighted to see after such a long absence. After hopping on the train and water taxi, we had some lunch and shopping in Chinatown much to everyone's delight.

More recently, we headed to a local splashpad to play with Lucy D. and Talia.

And now for the Kateisms of the month:

I was opening the window so Bella could jump up and watch her version of TV; the birds and squirrels outside.
You: Why does Bella get to watch TV and we don't?
Me: Because Bella doesn't yell at me when I close her window.
You: She meows at you.
Me: Yes, but it's not as annoying.
You: Wow, that hurts.

You: I need Boo (one of your stuffed dogs) on my bed.
Me: Why?
You: He takes all of my worries at night. Then he puts them in jars.
Me: That's a great thing for Boo to do. 
You: Yes, and then I label them.
That's my girl. I love nothing more than organization!

You: My eyes hurt. 
Me: Do you have sand in them? 
You: Yes, and the only way to get sand out of your eyes is to pour clean, clear water into them.
Thank you, Dr. Kate, for that detailed lesson in ophthalmology.

You have been noticing that there are no short-haired Princesses in the stores or movies or books. Even American Girl doesn't offer any hair shorter than a long bob and the hairstylists there (yes, that is a thing and yes, I did ask) won't cut a pixie cut on any of their dolls (Really American Girl?? For as much money as you are asking for what is basically a plastic doll with fake hair, you could at least allow the child who owns said doll to choose the hairstyle of her choice). Since you have a pixie haircut (and absolutely abhor the idea of Rapunzel-length tresses) you are quite put-out with this reality.

You: If no one invents a short-hair princess then I'm going to. And I'll give it to all the girls with long hair.
Me: Why?
You: So they can see that short-haired princesses are okay.
I love that you have such a strong sense of self and are not swayed to follow the pack of long-haired friends (and sister, who is trying very hard to grow her hair overnight!) just to fit in.

You: The Pippi Longstocking we saw at the pancake breakfast wasn't the REAL Pippi.
Me: What makes you say that? (Hoping to avoid a tearful realization from your sister who totally believed that she saw the real Pippi.)
You: The big giveaway was she didn't have freckles.

Pippi wasn't the only one you were doubting...

You: That wasn't the real Santa that we saw was it? (referring to the time we went to see him, sit on his lap and ask for presents).
Me: Why don't you think so?
Fortunately, Lucy wasn't around for this line of questioning but we were interrupted by her coming in from her bath and we never got around to finishing the conversation. Boy-howdy, are you going to be upset when you learn that pretty much all of the things you believe in (Santa, the Easter Bunny, the Switch Witch and the Tooth Fairy) are all made up. What I hope is that you realize that they were all there to make your childhood magical and special, much like reading books of fiction (like Pippi Longstocking and later, the Harry Potter series) are there to take you to places you could never have imagined.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Lava--our newest song obsession

On the screen right before the new Disney film Inside Out, a Disney/Pixar short called Lava is shown. I saw an interview with the director who said he was inspired by  Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole's version of Somewhere over the Rainbow and had wanted to somehow make a film from that inspiration. And I have to say he did a nice job of it--the story is sweet and the song is quite catchy. Lava has been on rotation in our house for 2 weeks now and even Ms. Julie got in on the action and learned the chords on the ukulele.

She surprised the girls last week by singing and playing it for them, of which I got a short clip.
Lava! from Lisa on Vimeo.

This week she taught it to the girls. Kate didn't have nearly as much interest in learning it but Lucy, on the other hand, was focused and picked up the chords (and the words) pretty quickly.
Guitar lessons from Lisa on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Just for fun, we gave the girls our old pedometers to see how they would stack up against our steps taken. Let's just say, they won, hands down. My day ended with 13,110 steps , Len's with 11,800 steps. Now the bigger question: who do you think got more steps, Kate or Lucy?
I have to say I was completely surprised by the results. Kate had by far more steps than Lucy did. And neither of them had a nap or rest yesterday so you can't even factor in that downtime as the reason.

Speaking of yesterday, the weather has been downright chilly again. We are back in fleece jackets. This is the last week of tennis camp and I have been taking advantage of my kid-free hour by walking along the lakefront downtown--a completely different view of the city than my usual walk further north.

My walk started near NW Hospital with a view of the harbor.

North Ave. beach with a view of the Hancock, the Westin and the Drake Hotels.
Looking out towards the Harbor Lighthouse.

Navy Pier with the Ferris Wheel taking center stage.
Back at tennis camp, they were working on bouncing their ball down and catching it with their racket.

Next up was hitting the ball to the fence.

Julie came in the afternoon so I could get some work done around the house but I just could not get warm so I took a break and walked to Pho Lily for a big bowl of steaming hot pho soup.  I went face down into this. So so good.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Fourth

Summer decided to make a grand entrance for the Fourth of July here in Chicago (it has since retreated to wherever Chicago summer goes when it hovers in the low 60s in JULY!). We took advantage with a full day of OUTSIDENESS.

The beach was the site of our daytime activities. The lake temperature is still hovering around 62 but we all braved it this time around. My girls are definite water babies...it was the first thing they wanted to do when we got there.

I get a lot of comments about their swim caps. Honestly, it helps me find them in the water, especially when I'm by myself and/or there are a lot of swimmers. I just look for two pink flowery heads and I'm good.

Back on land, the serious work of sand reassignment begins.
Relocating wet sand from the shore is a top priority but requires teamwork.

Taking a break from all the togetherness of the morning, we all retire to separate areas of our little camp after lunch. I actually managed to read a few chapters of a non-child-rearing related book.

Back in the water.

Lucy, with next-to-no body fat, is first back to the hot sand to warm up.

We walked home in the late afternoon, got showered up and had some supper before we headed to Winnemac Park for local fireworks. We got there around 8:45 which is almost an hour past their summer bedtime. Both girls were looking a bit dazed at this point but insisted they wanted to see the fireworks.

We got a spot very close to one of the ball fields but what's nice is that fireworks are set off on 3-4 separate ball fields in the park making for a theatre-in-the-round experience.

Tired monkeys.

The fireworks were still going strong when the girls asked to leave for bed at 9:45. I think this may have been the first time in her life that Kate has voluntarily asked to go to bed when she wasn't sick.


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