Handy is not my middle name


I have bigger aspirations for things than what my actual talents can provide. But that didn’t stop me – and Dev – from tackling a build-your-own-shelves project.

The first part was fairly easy. Buy the stuff. Sand the boards. Put the brackets together. Prime and spray paint them. Stain the boards. (Stinky!)


Then came the task of getting the shelves onto the wall.

My level confounds me. It has some laser thingy on it that seems fairly useless. But other people looked at me funny when I talked about this. So I’m thinking it must be me.

With the kid’s assistance, I managed to draw some straight lines. But what you don’t see pictured here (thankfully) was the painstaking, anxiety-causing process of getting the brackets into the wall. After I got over the melodrama I had to laugh. Of the six brackets, only the last two made it in without incident.

I broke one of my husband’s drill bits. Yes, I did.

And I stripped a couple of screws.

But, dang it, those shelves were up in time for Christmas (ahem, a bit late on my post, I know). The bottom-right bracket went in crooked, but we’re pretending it’s fine. If you ignore it, it might go away, right?


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More potatoes and a candle

Since my last potato post, we went on a vacation. But I’ll go against my instincts of posting in chronological order and share today’s meal first. Because it was super easy to make and super delicious.

Red potatoes + sweet potatoes = potato goat cheese gratin. The original recipe called for squash, but my two guys aren’t keen on that particular vegetable. So I improvised. I used a big 13 x 9 dish and we hardly had any leftovers. So a good choice, I’d say! I paired it with grilled chicken and fruit. And followed it with the chocolate goodness below Start scrollin’!

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I love mousse. Lots.

This one’s made with tofu. My only beef (food pun) is that it turned out crumbly. That may be operator/chef error. But the taste was delectably awesome. And with his birthday just a couple of days away, Dev decided to make this his first birthday treat by plopping in a Lego candle.

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Arachnid in the tree


Want some Halloween Spirit?

My son has it. LOTS of it!

We started decorating before October 1 and we’ve continued to come up with new stuff since then. The latest was a brilliant idea from, ahem, me. Handmade giant spider? Of course he was all over that one! He even got creative and made his spider into a black widow. And instead of attaching her scary spider self to the front window, as originally planned, he and Dad hoisted her up into the tree to dangle menacingly at passersby.

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It’s ArtPrize time again!

We’ve made it a point to spend as much time downtown during the event each year as we can manage. And since our commute home after school takes us through downtown, we decided to stop by on Wednesday, opening day.

I love being able to visit during the week when the crowds are much more manageable.

We started at The B.O.B., which was right outside of our parking garage. There always interesting things to be seen there. Although sometimes it depends on your definition of interesting.

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The GRAM is always a cinch to get into on weeknights. No line. Zip! We were in. It’s always one of the better venues. I saw a couple of things I really loved in there.

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This is my favorite so far, I think.

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We stopped for a quick break at his new favorite spot downtown, Sweet Yo’s. As you can see, he was pretty happy.


Then we visited the riverfront installations before heading back to the car. It was a short trip, but we’ll be back. Next stop, Site:Lab and UICA!

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Season’s greetings

So how was your holiday?

It went by fast. Again. It seems to surprise me every year that with all of the preparations that go into it, the event is over in must minutes. When you have an 8-year-old, that is! He got himself out of bed at 5:13 a.m. The gifts were all opened before 6:00. (With more that came along with Grandma and Grandpa later that morning.) Of course if you factor in all of the playing he did with the gifts – and all of the eating of food – the day does indeed last the allotted time.

The day ended with another gift, though. Dev came down with the stomach flu and was up most of the night. Poor kiddo.

But I think he’d still say it was a very good day.


Homemade gift-ness

This took place a couple of weeks ago, but we’re going to be moving on to the edible version today. Hopefully!

I used Pinterest to put together a craft board for Devin to look through and choose. These salt dough ornaments looked like they might be fun. And they were!

The dough required kneading, which Devin had never done before. But he was totally into it. I’ve always loved that part of baking bread. It’s rather peaceful to manipulate the dough. He might have approached it from a less-peaceful angle, but he got the same satisfaction out of it, I believe.

Instead of drying them in the oven, we left them on the counter for about a week to dry. Now we’ve added ribbons and packaged them up for his teachers and some of our neighbors. And Grandma, of course, is getting plenty of his homemade creations. Including these awesome paper stars he brought home from school this week. (I love school and all the fabulous craft projects they do. Since I’m slightly lacking in that area!)













Adventures in the city

The kiddo had Friday off from school so I got the bright idea to take a trip to Chicago. We signed up for a membership to the Field Museum when we visited in April and I thought it would be a good time to check out the whale exhibit. (Which was indeed very cool.) So here’s our 24-hour recap.

We headed over on Friday morning and spent four hours pounding the marble in the museum before checking in at the hotel and heading out for dinner at Goose Island Brewery, via the subway, which elicited a lot of smiles. I had some tasty hummus, but he pronounced his mac ‘n cheese less than special. Then we visited a bookstore to pick up something for the night’s story time and had a relaxing evening in the very comfy bed, with five fluffy pillows each, at the JW Marriott.

Saturday morning we got up early. So early that I advised him that bath time would be better at that point since the restaurants wouldn’t be open for breakfast yet. (As you can see by the pic below, the bath tub was REALLY deep.) The concierge pointed us to Wildberry, which turned out to be my kind of place. Pancakes, crepes and french toast galore. Dev ordered the oreo s’more pancakes and then complained that there was too much chocolate and claimed that all of a sudden he didn’t like marshmallow fluff. Harrumph. Breakfast is my favorite meal out and I don’t see how he can be such a breakfast scrooge. I wolfed down my wildberry french toast and helped him out with his a bit. Because that’s what moms are for.

Then we headed across the street to Millennium Park. It was a perfect morning. The sun was beautiful and the fall leaves are still on many of the trees right now. Dev wanted to visit Cloud Gate since he doesn’t really  member the couple of other times he’s been to see it. And what 7-year-old can resist hamming it up in front of a gigantic bean-shaped mirror? Afterward we hopped on the el for another requested “train ride.” We had no destination. We just headed to Belmont on the brown line and then crossed over and took the red line back downtown. He refused to sit and was happy as a clam standing and holding the bar and adjusting his balance as needed.

Our plan was to stop at the Lego store next, but we got to the mall early so we walked over to the river. The bridge was going up for boat traffic. I had to laugh since I lived in the city for five years and never saw the bridge go up. That took a good 10 to 15 minutes of observation and then we returned to the mall to discover that the Lego store was gone. Gone! My phone informed me that, luckily, it hadn’t moved very far. Just down the street. So we walked back to the hotel (with lots of grumbling from the kiddo) to check out, then took a cab to the mall (to avoid further grumbling).

After that it was a carriage ride and a trip to the Hershey’s store. Their sundaes, by the way, pale in comparison to Ghirardelli’s, but he was heavily swayed by branding and the big G lost out due to obscurity in the childhood lexicon. He’s agreed, however, to visit the competition next time because he was underwhelmed by his ice cream concoction. (Once again, I ended up finishing it.)

So there you have our Chicago adventure. We went back to the hotel and grabbed our luggage and car, then headed out of town to Grandma’s house for the night. Now we’re back home and relaxing before another week of work and school.

He loves Sue

Check-in treats

Let’s do this in order, shall we?

I have some lovely Halloween pics of our own little Harry Potter, but we went to the Meijer Gardens the day before and I just can’t bring myself to post out of order. I’m crazy like that.

We’d gotten free passes months ago and they were about to expire. Sunday turned out to be a lovely day to explore everything, including ginormous pumpkins and bear sculptures. We had ourselves a dandy time.

We took on the maze again…and won!

This weekend was a wonderful demonstration of why I love fall. It’s my absolute favorite season. The sun was shining, the temps were nice and the sky was blue, blue, blue.

Although we were fresh off of a high-energy birthday party, Dev and I spontaneously decided to head to the pumpkin patch. We came across Schwallier’s when he was two or three and it’s been my favorite ever since. (Although they’re starting to charge for more of the activities now. Two dollars to climb on hay bales? Sheesh!)

We visited Schwallier’s with Kevin and Chloe last year. (And Scott, who turned us down this year in favor of a plumbing project. Crazy man!) Between the five of us, we managed to get lost in the corn maze and stumble back out the entrance instead of the exit we were aiming for. So when Devin finished petting bunnies and goats and asked if we could do it again this year, I hesitated slightly. Then I threw down the $10 and we went for it.

And this year we triumphed! Without the help of the 3D glasses, mind you. You were supposed to peer through them at the map and find your way. I’m the impatient sort, though. We stood gawking at that thing for a while and I just said, “Never mind that map. Let’s just walk!” (I was also so impatient that I talked the kid into skipping the “clues” that were scattered around and meant to be fun for people his age. I’m such a mean mom.)

But we did it! And it was fun. So much fun that I decided to give the cow train a shot too, even though I’d initially told him he’d have to ride alone. I got a ticket for myself and we both settled into our “cows” and off we went on a bumpy, speedy ride.

Afterward came the apples, donuts and cider, of course. Although we managed to leave without pumpkins.

See what I mean about fall? How can you not love it?

Seven years

This photograph makes me smile and also makes me pine for Devin’s younger days. It seemed like a great way to start out this post.

I know myself well enough to realize that with tomorrow’s busyness, I’m not likely to find the time to put this together. So I’m going to celebrate Devin Day one day early.

Seven years ago, on Oct. 19, Devin flew into Detroit on a Northwest Airlines plane. It was one of those moments you don’t ever think is going to happen. We waited six months from the completion of our forms to the day he arrived. And although that seemed like forever, most international adoption takes a lot longer. We were so lucky that things went so smoothly and so quickly. Except for the part where the passengers disembark from the plane and go through customs. That part took A VERY LONG TIME.

Every time the frosted-glass doors would open, the three waiting families and their entourages would stand on our tiptoes and search for babies, but instead it was always the other passengers streaming out. And we’d sigh collectively and go back to nervously biting our fingernails. (OK. It was me doing the nail biting. I’m not sure what everyone else was doing because I was totally focused on the doors.)

When A VERY LONG TIME finally came to an end, the whole mob rushed forward and I couldn’t see the babies at all. So I was confusedly walking in the wrong direction and Scott had to steer me over to where Gail was holding Devin. And there he was. So tiny and adorable.

I love remembering that day. Even the part where I put his diaper on backward.

And I love when we came home and set him down on the floor and he took off at an army crawl at an amazingly fast pace. It was kind of an indicator of what to expect. When walking commenced, it was basically a few steps and then he was running. Always moving. Always on his way somewhere. Always curious and going after what he wants.

I also love that we have this day every year. We celebrate his birthday, but we also get an extra day where we celebrate our family’s seven years of togetherness.

They lie!

In endless magazine articles and books, I’ve read that if you get your child involved in choosing and preparing the food, they’ll eat it.

They obviously haven’t met Devin.

Devin was home again on Monday with strep throat. (I say again because he’s managed to catch it twice in two weeks. Quite the talent!) We had planned the weekend before to make banana bread, but never gotten around to it. So I whipped up a batch before the bananas went bad.

A couple of days later, when he was feeling better and could eat more than applesauce and saltines, Scott encouraged him to try a piece. A piece of the banana bread that he (the littler he of the two) had asked me to make. The bread he’d wanted to help me with. The bread he’d asked me to add chocolate chips to. He took a bite and said, “It’s all right. Can I have a piece of candy?”

Oh, for the love!

I’ve somehow raised a kid who would prefer to have something from a package than something homemade. I’m not quite sure how that happened. Although my cooking prowess has diminished over the past couple of months, I was doing plenty of it when he was little. He even baked with me several times. He’s also made his own salad creations that he’s been so proud of. Filled with spinach, strawberries, feta cheese and pine nuts. But then he sits at the table and chooses everything but the salad to eat. How does that work?

He may be cute, but he’s not chock full of vitamins and wholesome ingredients!