So Much

5:59 AM

It's been a month since my last post. I find myself getting aggravated at myself because every day so many things happen, and I think, oh yes, this would be great to blog about - it's such a fun part of our lives! Or just a normal part of our lives. Or a frustrating part of our lives. Or even stuff that I'm not yet ready to blog about because I'm not sure how to even write about it.  I just think it so often and then find that the time I set aside to write it up disappears. 

You know the saying, "Life is what happens while you're busy doing other things." Well,
I'm trying to focus entirely on life, rather than keeping busy with "other things." And occasionally, unfortunately, blogging is another thing. So I'm happy to catch up at all, particularly with this random smattering of photos that could all have their own blog post and hopefully, many will.

But for now, there's just so much. And only so much time. 
So here is a little bit of our much for you to share with me.

For starters, yes, my son August has begun taking cello lessons! It's been a long time coming for this persistent lad. He chose the cello as his instrument around age 4 and never wavered. For various reasons, we held off finding a cello instructor until we moved here. 

God has been so good to us, bringing us Joseph, who was recommended by a friend. He's a young, extremely EXTREMELY talented musician who not only gives August cello lessons, but also piano lessons for Brooklyn! He is amazing. And he comes to my house! And he's ridiculously reasonably priced. And he's a fellow Christ-follower! So many "Ands" but all just above and beyond my expectations, that I have to keep adding. 

Suffice it to say, August is moving along at what appears to be a remarkably fast pace. Jo said he doesn't like to give expectations or "norms" but he chuckled and said August was..."very smart." August is in love with the cello, and I am not a little jealous that he's learning an instrument I myself have always wanted to play. 

Another cool thing about his and Brooklyn's playing is that Jo is teaching them to play together. Which means Brooklyn accompanies August. It's wonderful to hear them working together, challenging each other...I have videos of them playing that I'll post later. They are both making great progress!

Our every day frequently includes spontaneous creativity by some or all of the kids. 
Dorien has begun to demonstrate his pretty incredible imagination, particularly when it comes to making pictures with our wooden letter pieces (they came with our Handwriting Without Tears program). 

This little man was made by August who has always been creative...when we set Creativity as a family value, our kids took it seriously. They are gifted.

This was Dorien's "Duck Man".

We have neighbors with whom we have a standing Sunday play-date from 1:30 to 3:30 and we alternate houses each week. This family has three kids (ages 9, 6, 4) and for the most part, they get along really well. Or, I should say, like kids. Brooklyn and Keira lounged in the park on a particularly lovely Sunday afternoon.

I was finally able to get my crew to do some antique/flea market shopping several weekends ago. Turns out, there is a wealth of stuff out there, much of which I would love to snatch up if it weren't priced pretty "out there." At this one place, we paused to tie a shoe or something and Brooklyn just happened to glance up into a glass case and saw some jewelry for sale which was made and designed by Richard Bitterman, the former owner of our HOUSE! It was bizarre! Not just the jewelry....but bumping into his work so randomly. 

After wearing the family out on my prowl for the perfect vintage thingamabob (I really did have a list of items I was looking for), we treated the kids to delicious treats at Lickety Split.

Meanwhile, Wilder and  I do laundry (a lot of laundry) in our basement where he hangs out in a laundry bucket. Occasionally, we refer to the bucket as his Happy Bucket, when he is content to gnaw on a toy while sitting there. Most recently, he ends up tipping over which does not make him Happy. 

As you can see behind Wilder, our basement was a holding place for the gazillion boxes used for our move. We've sold a bunch on Craigslist, but even with what remained, I got fed up with the chaos and organized it all into a tidy pile of nested boxes. Sigh. 

About a month ago, our little man Dorien learned how to ride his bike without training wheels! Big moment! A few moments later, he crashed and somehow incurred a green stick fracture in his ulna.  He has been wearing a cast ever since. He gets it off in about 2 weeks. He's handled it like a champ, with only the occasional complaining when he has itches that he can't access. Poor kid. 

Dorien sits by Wilder at the table, and Wilder thinks its great fun to manipulate D's face. D, sweetie that he is, seldom stops him. 

As you might imagine, there are oodles of meals being cooked, and plenty of baby wrangling while that's happening.  (How about that fabulous mustard yellow range, huh?? It's a legitimate vintage Roper stove and it works perfectly, even the bottom left spot which is the "intelligent zone". I had to have a neighbor educate me on this particular feature: there is a pop-up button which apparently registers the temperature of a pot sitting on it and is able to adjust the fire level to maintain a certain temperature, as indicated by a knob, of whatever is resting on it. It's supposedly handy for making candy.) 

Anyway, we spend a lot of time in our kitchen. It's not a glamorous space, or even a space that makes me happy aesthetically, but it will once some key changes are made. It does make me happy because in some strange way, it's cozy.  I'm lucky to have a husband who enjoys multi-tasking with a baby. 

Speaking of husbands, here he is! Cycling to work downtown and loving every minute of it! 
It's 12 miles to his office from our house, and a pretty good workout to and from work. 
It's handy he can get all that cycling in, because the two of us signed up to do the Chicago Triathlon on August 27th!!! Gotta get training! We signed up for the Olympic/International Distance, which will be the second one of that distance we've done. 

I managed to convince two of my neighbors to sign up also, and it's the first triathlon for each of them! I've been running/riding a few mornings a week with my friend Susan and this morning, (at 5:30am) all three of us met to run. It's amazing how the miles fly by when you're chatting with friends. And when your view as you run is Lake Michigan. I do love that.

Naps. Naps are always good. No matter where you need to snatch them.

I'm more puzzled by August's choice of nap spot. But he always has sort of slept in weird places (under entire piles of laundry, for example...).

Speaking of August, he found himself the napping spot of our cat, Aesop! 
Since moving here, Aesop has become an all inside, all the time, cat. Surprisingly, he seems to love it. He does like to watch the activity outside the windows, but he really hasn't attempted to escape, and he's become insanely affectionate. Down-right un-catlike. 

There have been hair cuts. I have become the official stylist of our family, which is hilarious.
But it's kind of fun. It's not too far a stretch from when I used to regularly groom Golden Retrievers for dog shows....right? 

Dorien seems pleased enough. Here is a kid who looks fabulous with a closely shorn head.

I even cut Brooklyn's hair! 

It's always a little scary, but I really have so much fun doing it, too. 
We keep getting shorter and shorter and it keeps looking so cute on her!

She's such a lovely young lady. 
Truly beautiful, inside and out. Can't say that enough.

So back on Earth Day, our Alderman's office hosted a neighborhood clean up, which we signed up for! Litter drives us crazy, so it was actually incredibly enjoyable to address the issue! 
We teamed up with some friends of ours, met new friends and spent a morning cleaning things up!

In Rogers Park, all the underpasses (or whatever they're called) are painted with murals.

We also bought some patio furniture on Craigslist, along with an iron daybed. So much stuff, in fact, that we had to rent a U-Haul to drive out to the suburbs to pick it all up! 
The kids, plus our neighbors, Hazel and Olive, thought the U-Haul was the best thing ever.

(It's funny to me that everyone here clearly distinguishes between City and Suburbs.  Ask someone what they did over the weekend and they'll say, Oh, we visited family in the suburbs...It's definitely a City/Suburb mentality.)

So I bought wicker pieces for our second floor screened-in porch, but the people were also getting rid of ALL their existing porch stuff, so they threw in 4 chairs, several candles, all the pillows, a side table and a rug. It wasn't necessarily something I would have purchased, but it serves a purpose, gives me some stuff to put on my enormous outdoor porch for the time being, some places for neighbors to come sit and chat, and for that, I'm extremely grateful.

Here is what I actually purchased - love seat, two chairs, a coffee table, ottoman and another side table.  I intend to get new pillows, but I love the wicker pieces. They make me feel like we're at our beach home in Captiva (not that we own a beach house, we just keep going back to the same one).

I had the black chairs already, but the little side table (plus candle) is new. I intend to get a big rug to cover the space and get rid of the wall to wall astro-turf which is beyond disgusting.
And I've strung some fairy lights up, making it pretty much the best room in our house on nice evenings.

Believe it or not, now that Brooklyn is 11, Kyle and I occasionally sneak out of the house (with Wilder) for a quick trip to the grocery store.  We leave one of our phones with her, and Kyle sends her pictures like these to mess with her. Then he's shocked when she immediately responds with her own pictures and emojis. Love that girl.

We're watching...

We have a friend named Linda who rents a parking space from us under our carport. She's occasionally comes over on Friday afternoons and hangs out. She used to be in beauty product sales and she has an amazing array of beauty tips/tricks/tools in her arsenal. She has most recently started doing her nails in this amazing swirly design which she offered to do on Brooklyn's nails. 

These were Linda's nails. Turns out, this is a VERY labor intensive process that took hours. It involved wrapping Brooklyn's fingers in tape, painting them with Latex, dripping fingernail polish into a bowl of water in ever expanding concentric circles, then drawing designs into it with a toothpick before carefully dipping your fingernail into it. Let's just say that it is way more intensive than anyone in this family will ever be attempting on our own. The results were impressive, and thanks to Linda's knowledge (and supply) of base and top coats, it lasted on B's hands for weeks...but man...I was worn out just watching.

August and I entertained ourselves by arranging Linda's many fingernail polishes in color patterns.

In other adventures, I went square dancing with some new girlfriends!!! 
A shockingly good time.

Here's a glimpse of what's been happening on the house renovation end. Or it might be more accurate to say continuum. This is one of the rooms in our third floor (formerly servants' quarters). There are three rooms and a full bathroom up here. What you see is the original floor planks that the house was built with. There are 16ft planks on that floor. It's unbelievable. The original wood was painted a light grey, and at some point covered with linoleum and then later carpeted over that. We have removed those layers and used Peel Away 1 to remove the remaining mastic stuck to the floors as well as the lead-based paint! We intend to smooth it out and paint the floors.

And brotherly love is always a good note to end on.

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