Monday, May 31, 2010
It was not easy, but we made it special. Before we left for Illinois over a month ago, we bought three greeting cards at the store and received a free mini photo scrapbook that came with stickers and labels. Since Tif likes to scrapbook we thought she might enjoy it.
Instead, Tif suggested I do the scrapbook with KC. I didn't think she'd be able to manage it. However, Tif showed her how to use the double sided tape and she was raring to go.
First, we laid out all the extra photos Tif had ordered the past three years and wasn't able to use. KC looked through them and chose the 12 she wanted in her book. Then she went through them again, changed her mind and replaced them.
KC used the double stick tape to attach the photos to the colored pages and added her stickers where she wanted them. I sat beside her to keep them in order.
I'm glad she'll have this wonderfully done photo scrapbook to remind her of this time together. It will be the first scrapbook she did by herself!
Our son-in-law grilled some terrific Memorial Day burgers and then we went out for our last evening walk.
When we returned to the house we took a photo of KC next to our newly planted weeping cherry tree. We're looking forward to seeing how much the tree will have grown when we are back in Illinois again.
I spoke to my mother in Hawaii today. She says my brother came over and cleaned our rooms upstairs... even the bathrooms. I have a feeling she may have hinted to him that it would be nice to have our bedrooms dusted. Poor guy! But... gosh... that's so sweet. He'll be picking us up at the Honolulu International Airport tomorrow night.
Leaving is utterly painful. The thought of not holding my dear ones for perhaps another year is agonizing. However, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone in Hawaii also. I'm torn in two. Then again, I spoke to Jon in New Mexico today when he called to wish us a safe journey.
Actually... I'm torn in three.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
I was telling them how three year old KC was still in training and that she is very good about remembering that she isn't allowed on the cloth sofas or on the area rug in the kitchen. I said, "I asked her if she would like to sit on my lap for a story and she reminded me herself that she couldn't sit on the cloth covered sofa."
Suddenly KC piped up, "I can only sit on the black (leather) sofa in the family room."
That startled me. I thought she was playing with her scooter but she'd been listening to everything we were saying. Then she got her little balls and started kicking them around saying she was playing soccer.
Somebody asked me if KC had a favorite person that she always liked to spend time with. I laughed and told them, "Absolutely! It's Grandpa!" (Art has always been the one who put KC first before everything else. He's always ready to play, read, sing, laugh with her. He is never too busy for her. This is one of the things I love best about him. He was that way with our children as well. I'm more the disciplinarian which is why I was the one who did the toilet training with her.)
Tif seconded what I said, "It's been that way from the time she was a baby. Grandpa was the one who could always calm her. He's always been her favorite."
After dinner this evening Tif and Art said we should all go for a walk since the temperatures had really cooled down considerably from the morning and I needed to get some exercise.
As we were getting ready to leave, KC took my hand and said, "Grandma and me will go for a walk now. I will ride my tricycle and Grandma will walk. OK?"
Tif and I got our shoes and helped KC with hers. Then as we were about to leave, KC stopped Tif and said, "Mommy, only Grandma and I are going. OK?"
Tif and I were absolutely flabbergasted! She really meant it. We had previously always taken these evening walks as a group. This was the first time she'd ever made this sort of request. I kept expecting her to change her mind, but...no. She got on her bike and talked almost nonstop as she rode around the village while I walked.
When we got back, she proclaimed to her father, "I helped Grandma get exercise."
After KC went to bed, we all talked about her strange behavior. "Mom," Tif said, "She heard you telling the neighbors that Dad was her favorite. I'm pretty sure she thought you might be feeling sad."
She's only three years old. It seems only a short time ago that she could barely talk.
I'm really quite proud of her.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
Bill invited us for lunch and a walk around the lake that cradles Northwestern University. You can see the Chicago skyline in the background.
It was interesting to see what looked like swifts making their homes along a university building.
The day could not have been more perfect. The skies were as blue as Hawaii's skies and the lake breezes were every bit if not more refreshing than our trade winds. Maybe it was more special because we don't have these perfect days all that often in Chicago.
Bill found the spot where we used to take the kids for fireworks every 4th of July. Was that really 20 years ago? No... couldn't be.
Robin is now a lawyer and joined us for lunch at the Olympic Family restaurant. At one point, a woman sitting at the next table smiled at us and said, "It's a perfect day, isn't it?"
Tif and family are at a work related picnic someplace in Michigan. It's a three hour drive to get there and another three to come home. We were kindly invited but I have to tell you that we're glad we spent the day with Bill and Robin instead.
Friday, May 28, 2010
We had a lovely day with KC and her parents today shopping and enjoying familiar places.
Tif says she explained to three year old, KC that we would be returning to Hawaii soon to be with her great grandmother. KC responded that she would miss us, but "Aachan (her pet name for my mother) must be sad because grandpa and grandma are here with me."
This evening we met dear friends at Gio Ristorante in Evanston. We literally closed the place, being pretty much the last customers to leave. It was painful to think it would probably be another year before we see them again.
Art had the sampler plate which had Italian sausage, lamb chops and skate wing. It was the first time we'd tasted skate wing. It wasn't very exotic... sort of a flat breaded fishy sort of dish. However, Art says he really enjoyed his meal.
My dish was Cappesante All Arancia Con Pignole (Sea Scallops, Cherry Tomatoes, Oyster Mushrooms, Asparagus, pine Nuts, Orange Sauce) and it was fabulous! I enjoyed every bite. The tiramisu dessert was light and lovely.
The best thing of all was being together with friends we've known for over two decades and catching up on all our happenings. They've said that they may come to visit us in Hawaii. Wouldn't that be something? We've got our guestroom ready, that's for sure!
Poopie on the car UPDATE: NO poop for two days since we put up the CD disk on the tree. (Keeping fingers crossed) And... no, I'm afraid there's no other place Tif can park her car. We have a fire hydrant on our front yard.
Poopie in the potty UPDATE: Sigh... We had those two good ones but can't seem to get that third one. She is beginning to tell us she needs to go to the potty though and is in big girl pants all the time. Very few accidents.
Time Crunch: I've been missing visiting you all and seeing what you're up to. Art says I need to get to bed earlier. The time on my computer is wrong, by the way. I'm usually posting close to midnight and beyond each night. Sigh. I can barely get my posts in but I do like to keep it up because I so enjoy going back to see what we did when we're back in Hawaii and I'm missing everyone.
Still... I miss you all, too. I'll catch up when we return to Hawaii. I promise.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
There was no poop on the car this morning so MAYBE the computer data disks worked. Maybe.
We miss Ikea. I see lots of Ikea stuff posted on Craig's List in Hawaii as though it was really expensive and desirable. Actually, it's desirable but to be honest... cheap. I mean affordable. Gosh! I love that store!
KC loves the shopping carts and the Swedish meatballs which we didn't have on this trip. Tif was looking for a pendant lamp. I ended up buying a 59 cents giant reusable bag just because it was 59 cents.
We then drove a short distance to Woodfield Mall. At one time... a long, long time ago, I do believe it was one of the largest indoor malls in the country.
Tif treated us to lunch at the Rainforest Cafe just because we thought KC might enjoy the Disneyland Adventureland atmosphere. Unfortunately, it took them forever to bring the food and by that time, KC was tired and needing her nap.
The food was OK but a little on the high side. Tif says we're paying for the ambiance. I have to admit the clam chowder was pretty good though.
We did a little shopping at Woodfield but I just couldn't find that particular not so dressy, comfortable, not too revealing, washable dress I was looking for. I also couldn't find shorts that fit, didn't fall off my waist and looked good. Why do they keep designing shorts and capris that fall off your hip? There are some of us who prefer pants to sit near the natural waist. OK... That's a rant for another post!
We had dinner with friends who prepared two delicious soups (Spicy Mexican with avocados and meatballs and a corn-shrimp chowder) with a salad. Delicious! We brought a Portillo's chocolate cake that is really pretty darn wonderful!
KC especially enjoyed playing with her friend, Isabelle and parents, Uncle Jiro and Auntie Ida. Jiro is from Canada and Ida is from Albania. I love having friends from different countries. It adds even more richness to our lives.
Toilet Training Update: Ummmm... There was that little accident at Ikea, but it wasn't bad because that allowed Tif to reinforce the fact that KC needed to be more careful. She did great the rest of the day!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
We met Daisy and Alan when our sons were in kindergarten together. The boys and their group of friends maintained their friendships till they graduated from high school.
This wasn't necessarily a cheap place but Tif found a coupon for us. Daisy is from Venezuela and used to come to my class once a year to teach my children about the country of her birth. She is also a Spanish teacher for several schools. I used to thank her with a calamari salad from the Symphony's Restaurant in Evanston every time she gave her lesson to my class. It really was the BEST calamari salad I've ever had.
It is still the best calamari salad anywhere! No kidding! Every morsel has a fabulous kick to it. I really love the capers in it.
After lunch, we walked down Central Street past Tag's Bakery. I remembered how my student's parents often bought their children's birthday treats there. One of the treats they often liked to bring was a huge smiley face cookie. It's about $1.25 a cookie. I usually didn't eat it and brought it home for Tif and Jon. Well... maybe I used to eat the treats some of the time because I'd gained over 15 pounds when I retired.
Tif especially LOVED it so I just had to stop by and pick up ONE cookie for her.
I don't think the taste was all that great. It's just a happy cookie. Tif disagrees.
We returned home to another chore to attend to before we leave for Hawaii next Tuesday.
The branches of the ash tree we planted a few years ago when it was a twig had grown quickly and were draping over the car in the driveway. Birds found it a great toilet and found Tif's car a great target! Therefore we decided to cut the branch they were roosting on yesterday.
When we got up this morning, we found the birds just hopped to another branch and let loose with even more vigor. KC should learn something from them.
Rather than cutting ALL the branches off one side of the tree we decided to try the ol' hanging CD trick.
Tif refused to allow me to climb the tree. I don't know why she doesn't trust me. She wouldn't even let Art try.
She climbed up the tree like a pro and attached the CD to a branch. I have a feeling it may not work though. I don't know if the Illinois birds are as smart and stubborn as the bulbuls in Hawaii but after a while I think they realize that the CD's don't present that much of a threat.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Finally, we dropped off Tif and KC at home because it was KC's nap time and went to Ruby Tuesdays to meet Peggy (Musings of Meggie) and Jim for lunch. Peggy was up north to see her Chicago oncologist to monitor her leukemia.
They both looked as gorgeous as ever! Peggy has had some challenges to her health these past several years and it just does my heart good to see how she remains upbeat and determined through each crisis. Her family comes first, but she never fails to make all her friends feel like they're first also.
We talked of our early times together in the "village" where we all lived in a close knit community, our children growing up together. We even toilet trained our children together in our backyards.
And now Peggy is keeping a loving watch over her ailing mother while battling her own health problems. Her husband has not changed in his unfailing devotion these past decades. He always looks at Peg as though they are still teenagers in the first flush of puppy love. It made both Art and me smile to see that their love had only strengthened throughout their ordeals.
Peggy and Jim brought some precious gifts for me to celebrate my 60th birthday (for last year) and a present for KC as well. KC almost loved the wrapping as much as she did the book. Between Art and me, we've read the book to her a half dozen times already.
As we were chopping down more branches from a tree that birds were using for a toilet over Tif's car this afternoon, quite a few neighbors came to chat, and a teacher friend visited with flower cookies for KC and real flowers for me.
There were enough fragrant flowers for two vases and they really cheer up the house. You know what? Friends are like flowers, each beautiful and special in their own way, cheering up our lives and filling it with color, love and beauty.
Today was truly filled with a bouquet of beautiful and special friends!
Monday, May 24, 2010
Tif takes KC into Chicago to get a little culture once a week for a couple of hours. There were about 20 children (I think. Maybe it was 10 but just seemed like 20) between the ages of 20 months to what looked like maybe 4 years old.
Sensei (teacher) Naomi began the class singing songs together to teach some Japanese vocabulary, shapes, colors, weather, body parts, etc.
There was a Japanese version of Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes. KC was a little ahead of her mommy.
After the music session, children attached colored birds to matching color words. I learned something new here, too. I didn't know daidai was the word for orange. My mother always said, "orenji" (sort of Japanese version of orange).
Here, children helped to drop red or white colored balls into the correct baskets. I think it reinforces cleaning-up skills for one thing. It was also to teach sorting, more or less and counting. After all the balls were rounded up, Sensei Naomi had the children count in Japanese to 10 with her to see which basket had more balls.
Another game involved the children picking up colored plastic bottles and sorting them into the correct colored containers.
KC absolutely loves her teacher. She insisted on taking a photo of her sensei first before allowing me to take a photo of the three of them.
Toilet training update: Oh my goodness! Another poop! KC pooped in her little singing potty seat after asking me to take a tiny nap next to her to give her a little privacy. We looked into the potty and discussed the quantity (no kidding), the effort, the beauty of the accomplishment and the bounty she would be receiving for her great job (3 jelly bellies, a slice of li hing moi (Chinese spiced) mango, big sticker, me reading her a book, playing a game with her, the moon, the stars.... Sheesh!) She also commented that it was gigi. I told her that she certainly wouldn't want such a gigi, bad smelling thing to be on her okole (Hawaiian for derriere) and should make sure it goes into the potty all the time. After that, she's told us when she needs to go.
That's what I call relief!
Sunday, May 23, 2010
KC was having such a fantastic time with everyone at her house. She figured they were all there to play with her. We were also having one of her favorite dishes, PIZZA!
After dinner was done, KC came scurrying through saying, "I have to go potty."
A few minutes later she came down with Tif jumping up and down ecstatically squealing, "I poopied! I poopied! I poopied, Grandma!" All the neighbors clapped enthusiastically for her and she pretty much got a standing ovation! Then she was hopping all over the place, pleased as punch at her momentous accomplishment. Never was going to the bathroom and doing #2 (for the first time) a reason for such unrestrained joy.
I imagine many years from now, KC will not appreciate everybody remembering this evening for her pooping, but for us.... Yae!!!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I thought the Lost finale was going to be on Tuesday but we learned when we returned from New Mexico that it would be this Sunday! TOMORROW! Thank goodness we don't have anything scheduled on Sunday evening because we'll be planted in front of the TV waiting to see all the questions answered.
I'm still a teeny bit miffed that pretty much all the minorities were killed off, etc. one way or the other. I guess I just felt so sad that Jin and Sun had to die. Most people know I don't like sad endings and it's not looking very upbeat so far with only the one episode to go.
I was wondering who would end up with Kate. I guess it won't be Jack since he's now the island protector. And what's with that series of numbers? And if everybody dies on the island, what happens to the sideways stories? And why did Hurley help Desmond? Why would Jacob stay with the woman who was supposed to have killed his real mother? Is it really about Good and Evil or Good and Misunderstood?
For those who didn't get sucked into the series or left when it got so convoluted I know this makes no sense. Heck! It doesn't make sense to me, too. I suppose we first got interested in the series because it's filmed in Hawaii and we recognize so many of the places. Our neighbor even works (worked) on the set but he couldn't reveal anything. It was fun to see his Lost t-shirts hanging out on the clothes line.
I'm glad to see that another series will be filmed in Hawaii. An updated Hawaii 5-0! We used to laugh to see Jack Lord always driving around on the show in a suit. Puhlease... Nobody wears a suit in Hawaii unless they're in a wedding party or at a funeral.
I won't get sucked into watching this series. Unless my neighbor gets a job with them, too.
Friday, May 21, 2010
We actually got a bit of a late start, meaning more like 9:30 by the time we got ourselves out the door this morning, and headed up north to Wisconsin. Our favorite outlet mall, Pleasant Prairie Outlet is in Kenosha.
At first we thought there was going to be a downpour, but it was just heavy fog.
I was hoping to get some new knit blouses (more like t-shirts but not quite) and Tif had a bunch of things to look for. We did indeed find a lot of fabulous bargains at Eddie Bauer and Corning. I just can't resist kitchenware even though mom does most of the cooking now. What can I say? I'm a sucker for Pyrex.
And... wonder of wonders, even Art found two shirts and a pair of shorts for a great price.
KC got new "big girl underwear" and showed us what a "big girl" she was by using the potty at the mall. It was the BIGGEST family size bathroom I'd ever seen at a mall and KC used it like a pro.
Toilet training took a bit of a step backward while we were in New Mexico but we're getting ourselves on track again. KC was in pull-ups during the trip and she knew full well that it was just a disguise for a diaper.
Tomorrow, we'll be hosting a pizza party at Tif and Ed's place for our neighbors. I do believe they'll be rather surprised at just how different the house looks with Tif and Ed's modern furnishing as compared to the more ummm... traditional? eclectic? house sale bought type stuff that we had. (Tif says it was more colonial-antique.)
It still feels a tiny bit weird to know it's the same house we're in but that the spirit of the house has changed with the different furniture and artwork. And you know what? I like it!
AFTER THE FALL:
Denise and Gigi kindly asked about my fall. I wanted to reassure everybody that I'm doing much better today. (Could it be the excellent buys I got... and that fabulous new fucshia blouse Tif got me?) I'm being a bit more cautious about the stairs now. The brusing isn't too obvious since it's on my hand actually and mostly under my jaw. How the heck did that happen?
Anyway, I'd like to promise to be more careful but you know... I've learned that it's hard to do. You just never know when these things are going to happen. Sigh.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
This morning, I was going downstairs to the basement to look for window cleaner when my house slipper caught on the rug or something and I fell like a tree onto the concrete floor. It happened so fast I couldn't catch myself.
I remember feeling my cheekbone and something else in the head area hit the floor and then couldn't get up. I felt like my brain got shaken up in my head and I was afraid to move. I just lay there on my stomach on the cold floor hoping nothing was broken... again.
And then I started thinking. Why did this happen... again? I just broke my foot falling from the chair a few months ago. I fell in the parking lot of Sam's Club a couple of years ago. I fell like a tree then, too and had a big goose egg on my forehead. It was really embarrassing when they called an ambulance!
After a while, I tried to get up and my head swam. I was dizzy and had to stop to steady myself. Art found me a little later sitting on the couch and brought an ice pack for my face. I was worried a bit about head trauma but I didn't have any double vision or anything so I figured I was fine.
I usually don't bruise. However, several hours later, there was a spot on my jaw that was black and blue. My wrist was swollen and discolored. My whole body felt jarred but I was alright. I'll see what it's like tomorrow morning.
I've always heard that when you get to be a "certain" age falls are a major hazard. I never thought it would happen to me!
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
KC gave stickers and hugs to Uncle Jonny and Auntie Sarah before Auntie Sarah left for work. When we left, KC continued to wave and yell, "Goodbye, Uncle Jonny! See you later!" even when we could no longer see his solitary figure standing in front of his house.
What nearly made me lose what little composure I had was Tiffany hugging her brother goodbye and breaking into tears. I could swear I saw moisture in Jon's eyes as well. Tif drove talking to us with her throat choked with tears. It was so hard to leave. But the three of us were leaving together. I was imagining that it must have been even harder for Jon to suddenly be left all alone. I was glad that Mungo would be keeping him company.
This was such a precious time because Jon would be starting a new job next week and going to a conference this weekend. He and Sarah have a busy life. We were able to grab a few precious days and fill it with all the joyous memories that we are still savoring.
Here are photos Jon took last night when we went for our last evening walk near their home. I know KC will truly miss these walks with Mungo that ended at a children's park close to Jon and Sarah's home.
Jon says this is one of his favorite photos of me. I'm not smiling and don't look my best, but surely it's what I was feeling last night and right now.
The zoo keeper told us that the zebra foal had been born during the night. It was still getting acclimated to his new environment.
Jon, Sarah and Tif had made lunches for us to enjoy at the zoo.
After enjoying the zoo's animals and train ride, we went to the Gardens. There was a children's garden that had a giant pumpkin, bee, ants and spider.
Sarah took a photo of the four of us.
The arboretum had an Insect and Desert World.
We were impressed with the zoo and gardens!
We could smell roses everywhere.
They filled a large bird bath like stone container with black water and filled it with flowers. The effect was lovely.
The farm had a vineyard and animals. KC continued sleeping. She napped for a couple of hours while we were at the garden.
Of course.... we did need to see the Japanese Garden.
Seeing as we have just come from seeing the three major gardens in Japan, we could see that these gardens had a more southwestern flavor... maybe an Eastern southwestern flavor.
The Aquarium was nicer than we expected.
KC did not want to leave. She kept pointing out the different fishes in the huge aquarium tank.
After our fun day at the zoo, aquarium and garden we went to the University of New Mexico to see where Jon's classes were.
The campus also had a wonderful Southwestern feel.
Tiffany treated us all to dinner at Flying Star which is a well-known Albuquerque eatery.
It was truly a wonderful day, and we're sad about leaving to return to Chicago today. We're leaving out of the Albuquerque International Sunport... not the Airport, but the Sunport. They must not fly out at night.