Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer Fun and Fright

Yesterday, while out buying necessities to prepare our family to depart on a week's vacation to the beach, I made what will perhaps be the BEST purchase of the summer.

Folks, I introduce you to the Tie-Knot Battle Pump by Kaos.

This little beauty is what I dreamt of as a child: it allows you to quickly fill your water balloon and tie it off with ease so you can wage war on your sister in a more timely and efficient manner.  Can I get an AMEN from those of you who spend more energy tying those silly balloons than launching them?!

Swanny Jr. is going to demonstrate the genius of this little device for you:


A water balloon battle ensued complete with a handshake and taking 10 paces from each other before the chaos reigned.

Peanut noted that we need to take the Tie-Knot with us to the 4th of July party where there is always an EPIC water balloon fight.  Swanny Jr. said we need to take it on vacation.  Grammy (my mom, visiting until tomorrow) said she'd take it every where with her!

Luckily we managed to squeeze in the water balloon fun before weather took a turn for the worse last night.  I was at Yoga, the kids at home with Grammy preparing to come to the YMCA to swim when the first batch of storms hit our area.

The kids and mom never did make it to the Y--our sweet children preferring instead to stay home and comfort our fearful doggies.  I returned to this:

This is the view as you look north down our road this morning.  Pretty scary.  Three of the large beautiful trees that adorn our street were ravaged by the storms last night and large portions of them came down in the road.  Luckily, no houses seem to have been damaged and the power stayed on. We were so fortunate that power stayed on and that we had no water in the basement.  I'm hearing stories about that from so many today.  I hope you all weathered the storm safely.

Since the storms seem to have cleared, you'll find us here at My Life With Dogs filling and tossing our water balloons again!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Celebrating the Solstice

It always seems as though summer is well underway by the time the actual first day of summer rolls around on the calendar.  After the particularly brutal winter that we survived, the warm weather and sunshine have been welcomed with open arms.

Way back on a snowy and cold day in February, Swanny and I, along with 4 other couples bid on an auction item at a fundraiser for our local YMCA.  What we won was the Summer Solstice Dinner party: an evening promising drinks, dining, friendship, and celebration of the change of season to summer.  I remarked with my friends that I was looking forward to enjoying a meal outside where there wasn't two feet of snow and a -20 degree windchill.

Well my friends, the day of our dinner arrived this past weekend.  A few of the girls decided the occasion warranted a trip to buy new dresses.  We may have been distracted by the hats...

We found suitable frocks for our dinner party and celebrated with some wine at Montage...

and whiskey at Perry Oakes Brewery.

On Saturday we fancied ourselves up and, despite a little bit of rain at the beginning of the dinner hour, we gathered with our friends in the gazebo and enjoyed wonderful craft beers, champagne, appetizers and laughs.

Each dish seemed more delicious and enjoyable than the one I tasted before.

We dined inside due to the rain, but the backyard, which was beautifully adorned with lights and lanterns, was our setting for dessert.

I made a concerted effort to leave my mobile device in my purse so that I could be fully present in the festivities, which also means I don't have lots of pictures of each course or of my friends all prettied up, but trust me--it was a beautiful evening.  The food was AMAZING, the company a treasure, and our hostess the best.

Swanny managed to capture a picture of his dinner before he devoured it.  

Missing from this pic are the potatoes that I swear I would have brought home in my purse if I could!

Our hostess, Mrs. P, was helped by a handful of her wonderful friends who appeared to have as much fun prepping and serving the meal as we had enjoying it.

I should probably tell everyone we had a terrible time and that the food was mediocre so we don't have competition when we bid on this auction item next time!!  Who am I kidding, I can't lie.  It was a night of memories and worth every penny donated to our YMCA.  Maybe we should celebrate every seasonal transition like this!!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

So I took three years off from blogging...but I'm coming back.

Wow.  It's really been three years.

Who knows if anyone will still check back into this blog since it's been on hiatus for so long, but as we say at church, we are a resurrection people, eh?

March 2011 was the last update around here and much has happened since then.

I could try to detail everything that has happened around here from starting school (Swanny Jr.) to graduating (ME!!), to joining swim team (Peanut), t-ball and softball teams, to visiting family in Idaho and Texas, to seeing chapters in careers close and new ones begin (Swanny)...but I think a photo recap is probably best.

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See you again soon!

Monday, March 14, 2011


A beautiful curio cabinet stands in my dining room. When the cabinet belonged to Swanny's Grandmother, it contained assorted pieces of Swedish crystal. It now contains various remembrances from our wedding day: crystal glasses, our guest book, the cake serving set and a shadow box with the sugar flowers from our cake framing one of the invitations for the wedding.

Swanny Jr. felt it would be an appropriate place to keep one of his most prized possessions too.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Humbled and finally thawed out

Yesterday I participated in my 3rd Polar Plunge, to benefit Special Olympics Illinois.

What started 3 years ago as a daring venture with co-workers to raise a little money for a good cause has, for me, turned into much more. As a parent of a Special Olympian said to me yesterday, what we do gives voice to what those who don't have a strong voice of their own know about the importance of Special Olympics. I'm thrilled to be able to do such a thing, despite the insanity it takes to submerge myself in an ice covered lake.

The weather was the best we've had in my 3-year tenure. Sunny and not much wind.

The water was cold as ever. Despite near 40 degree weather there was LOTS of ice on the lake.

This year, I raised more money than I have before: over $4,000.

While this earned me the Silver Plunger award for the second highest individual total at our plunge site, it is to the donors, the hard fundraising work of my team and the movement of Special Olympics that the glory goes.

To say that being a part of a group that has raised over $100,000 in the past 3 years for Special Olympics is humbling would be an understatement. I just read online that the plunges this year have raised over $500,000 for the Illinois athletes. I can't think of a more deserving cause or group who needs the awareness and money that these events generate.

The mission of Special Olympics is stated as this: "Through the power of sport, Special Olympics strives to create a better world by fostering the acceptance and inclusion of all people." I've said it before, I don't think a value can be placed upon the experiences and lessons Special Olympics offers to the children and families with whom I work.

Eight of my students medaled at a Special Olympics swim meet the day before we plunged.

I saw a picture of one who medaled whom I have known since she was 3 years old. I was as proud of her as I can only imagine her parents were. A year ago, she couldn't swim and was afraid to let go of the wall of a pool. Now, she has advanced to the state games. I think of who this little girl was at the age of 3, and who she is now...I'm so proud of her.

Thank you again to everyone who donated to the Polar Plunge. Your money is going out into our communities to support the amazing and life changing work of the Special Olympics movment.

Friday, February 25, 2011

February is a long month

A good friend and I have said for a while now that even though February has the fewest amount of days, it seems like the longest month of the year. It typically includes what seems like a million hours of paperwork and meetings at work, the Super Bowl, the annual meeting at our church, as well as few "holidays" and birthdays. This year, February has been busy and stressful...

Still feeling euphoric over the Packers' Super Bowl win, love was abound at our house for Valentine's Day. Peanut and Swanny had their second annual date at the Daddy-Daughter dance at the YMCA.

This year, instead of just having a cookie and then wanting to leave, Peanut decided to dance. Apparently, she got most of her groove on dancing with friends, but managed to squeeze a few steps in with her dad.

With help from the neighbors, the kids also baked us this lovely Valentine's treat.

Swanny and I enjoyed dinner and a show in Chicago for Valentine's Day.
(By the way, it was AWESOME--I've only now stopped singing the songs all day long in my head!)

This past Saturday we enjoyed visiting with my cousin and her family visiting from out east. We took the opportunity to celebrate a Fairy's 3rd Birthday.

No Fairy party is complete without Pirates though.

That day though, Peanut started feeling unwell near dinner time, which I attributed to too much cake and partying. By 11 pm, the cake and punch were all over her bed. Thus started a 2 1/2 day saga of poor Peanut taking in some water or other fluids, then bringing them back up. She never ran much of a temp, but couldn't keep anything down at all. A phone call to the pediatrician Monday morning yielded typical advice on dealing with a virus (hydrate, hydrate, hydrate, medicine for fever--except she couldn't keep the medicine down). By 9 pm on Monday, the poor kid had puked about 6 or 8 times (water, Sprite, juice, Pedialyte--all of it came back up) and I was really worried about how dehydrated she was. Swanny arrived home and we took her straight to the emergency room.

That's my poor Peanut with her I.V. providing her fluids and anti-nausea medicine. She took 2 full bags of fluid and I spoon fed her a Pedialyte popsicle. The doc then told us she was confirmed to have Influenza type A and B. He then noted he had never seen anyone with both types of flu. Way to go Peanut, anything worth doing has got to be done right, huh?
She was luckily able to come home (there had been talk of admitting her to the hospital) with a prescription for Tamiflu and anti-nausea meds. The doc ordered her home from school for the duration of this week.
All in all it was a pretty scary event. It's awful to see your little ones sick and such a powerless feeling you have when there's nothing you can do to help. While I was sad to see her so sick with flu, I was still grateful it was nothing more serious.
Happy to report she is back to herself again--eating meals (no vomiting since Monday!), playing, and of course fighting with her brother.

So, the long month of February is now drawing to a close. Looking forward to March (and Spring Break), I say here's to good health and a less busy schedule. Oh yeah, and a quick jump in a lake!