it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…


this a fairly good description of mom and dad’s experience when travelling down to chicago to see pearl jam.  please. chicago itself did not disappoint.  not even with 90+ degree weather and 100% humidity, would  that ruin the fun.  but the concert on the other hand. it  felt like mom and dad were in their own musical themed “hunger games” competition.


the day started off fairly normal, colin and i hardly batted an eye when they left.  cousins lauren and caroline were around to play with.  see ya! first stop once they arrived was to pick up tickets. a window at wrigley field will call for each letter of the alphabet.  only 1 window for the letter “M”.  see here’s where a great story comes in. mom begged (only half joking) for dad to take her name when they got married.  for 2 very good reasons: 1, that who on EARTH can pronounce “michalski”??? (for the record its “mi-hall-ski”. ugh. mom sighs in defeat every time the grocery clerk annihilates it at the store each week), and 2, victoria is much better; less people are named with a “V” and it’s way less irritating being asked why you have two first names than suffering through mispronunciations.

but i digress. as they approached the line, seeing there was not a division into “Ma – Me” and “Mo – Mu” (or something of the sort)  mom started sweating. they ended up getting stuck in the LONGEST of all lines to get tickets.  see?! too many people with the last name “M”.  which validates any and all arguments mom had with dad regarding changing last names.

finally tickets in hand, they head to eat lunch.  mom and dad wax nostalgic about life before kids, before getting married. almost, it seems, before LIFE really got started… how appropriate should they then see this.


the#22. the bus dad would take to and from work at his first apartment here. it’s not really that special, they come every 10 minutes. but they took it as a sign. let ’em have it.

back to the digs to cool off and get ready for the concert (thanks leeann and pete!)  no thanks to the audi a4 ding dong lady that parked right in front of their driveway gate so mom and dad could not pull in.  a $150 ticket and a mad and confused woman later, the driveway was free!

all along this time mom and dad knew what they were in for.  what comes with hot humid weather? storms. they hoped that it would roll through mid day and be free and clear by 7:30. oh no… that storm needed an entrance. but this was a momentous concert. the only one in the states in 3 years and then who knows when again?  reason enough for the white sox and brewers fan to succomb to the cubs mecca.  admittedly. its the most beautiful sporting location… and face it mom and dad don’t like baseball that much.


so they went. walked onto the field to get their seats, knowing the worst could happen. something seemed amiss when the band emerged over an hour late.  at almost 8:40.  the entrance by eddie was lackluster and the crowd seemed to know something was up.  6 very mellow songs in, he finally speaks…. they need to take a short break. bad storms a-brewin’.  “do you trust me? (that we’ll return?)” he asked. several times.


(eddie asking ‘do you trust me?’)

they had to abandon our seats.  it rained. it stopped. it rained again. they were stuck in the pits of despair known as the concession area. it was hot.  and they were there with 10,000 other people.


mom had enough and they sat out in the stands while the last of the rain came.  much better.


this was the scene waiting to be finally let back to our seats.

pearl jam did return.  THREE LONG HOURS LATER. at (gasp!) midnight. what did they do all that time? we may never know.


an unforgettable concert.  good thing pearl jam never disappoints.

mom and dad are too old for this.  two a.m. came and it was done.  the best and and the worst show.  but that’s wrigley for you, right?


(2:10 am can you see it on the clock?)

the next morning dad continued his recovery from the night before in front of the tv. mom wanted coffee. or rather she wanted an excuse to walk.  to feel like she still belonged to this city.  she found a starbucks about a 10 minute walk away. perfect.



she wandered her way back home, not down bustling southport, but just one street off.


it seems like  a world away.  quiet.  walking down lakewood it looked the same as the others she’s lived on. .



this is the best part about the city.  minus the skyline.  chicago has the best skyline…



(pretty nice view.  this is mimi’s “backyard”, and mom got to witness a huge lightning storm roll in one night)

friday the 13th. mom knew when she made the plane reservation that it could be a good or a bad day to fly.  leading up to our trip, she would have told you it wasn’t looking too good. she’s not at all superstitious. but, 2 days before we left, she didn’t know what to make of the situation when driving home from picking us up from school as dad (who she was following) mouthed to her “transmission!!!”.

looking back it was a good sign. then we woke up the day of the trip and mom commented, “did i wake up in florida??” it was HOT, rainy and muggy.  it was 5:30 in the morning.  in california. it’s not supposed to rain until november. not a bad sign, but another sign that the day  and this trip had plans of its own.

we landed just nearly missing a thunderstorm in chicago.  darn thought dad… he’s a fan. well, he’s a fan when he’s inside. with power. and air conditioning. and if the satellite tv feed hasn’t gone out. mom is too. so she and dad were *excited* when another storm rolled through on our way home from the airport. colin and i loved seeing the lightning FLASH! then waiting….. BOOM.  fun.  well, for most of us. asking colin if he’d like to take a trip on the highway for the rest of our trip and he got very nervous… thunder storms aren’t waiting for us to take a drive to make an appearance, tickle. (oh, did i mention that’s my new nickname for colin? just go with it…)

to add to our weird day mimi gets a call from her agent (real estate, sadly not hollywood).  a couple was just going in for their SECOND viewing  of her house TODAY and (gasp) she may be getting an offer tonight.  PEOPLE. this is serious stuff.  and by the time everyone went to bed that night, mimi’s house was officially “IN ESCROW”.  like i said. this was all planned out.  what a way to start our trip.

the first weekend in we got to make a trip to see mom’s college friends, and there was a pool, lots of girls (future wives, yes?) and lots of fun.

this sadly is missing little will, i didn’t want to forget him!  so with all these girls at least there were 4 of us boys… it couldn’t have been more fun that day!!

the annual trip to mimi’s big huge park was next on our list.  sadly we had to go there at 8am. it was already 85. it was almost 95 when we left just after 9am.  yes mom pays attention to this stuff. the bright side?  we were the only ones dumb enough there!

i really didn’t care where we went, as long as it had swings. you see robert (my new friend at school) taught me at to pump my legs (you say mom and dad have been telling me that for months now? huh??) and now i can’t get enough.  if i could sign up for a sport “swinging” , i’d be there. if they have trampolining in the olympic, they should have swinging. really.

colin came home to a 103 degree fever. but really you’d never know it from how much fun he was having at the park.  mom is thankful for doctors that are willing to call 2000 miles away for a prescription to fill. phew.

then the annual train ride, this just to deerfield and a park and some lunch.  colin and i sure love them, but they could maybe invest in some noise reduction equipment….that would be great.

we came home and pulled out the slip and slide…

it lasted only these 2 slides. there really is something to the saying “the don’t make things they way they used to…”

two train rides in two days? yes please.  “take me to  chicago union station” colin and i said.

*mom sniffle* this is literally colin’s first view of the skyline of chicago. really people, other than new york, no city can match chicago’s skyline.  it just feels like home to see it.

and aside from the cute faces, this was dad’s view every day at work. he used to work just 2 blocks away.

our quest, like always: do anything but walk in this city.  and we did. we took the water taxi out to navy pier, lunched at harry “ho0-ley COW” caray’s with aunt leeann!.  so much to do there, but all i wanted to do was ride the bus to the EL and ride the loop.  done.  back on the train home and we were satisfied.

then it was off to nana and papa’s house to see them and cousins in wisconsin!!

this is our annual cousins picture… it’s the best.

we went over to cousins for dinner.  people this is what people live in the midwest for.  yards. and dogs go great in yards. we love ginger.

yay for smores!!!

did you know that jelly belly has a factory in kenosha, wi?  well, we went there, and toured the place. don’t you think mom didn’t ponder jumping off the tram and snatching a box 😉

l and c.  the tallest 10 and 8 year old cousins you’ll ever meet 😉

back to mimi’s and some nostalgic picture taking… this is our beloved pappap’s wagon. he built with his two hands. it won’t make the pilgrimage to CA, but that is ok.  mom and aunt sarah had many a memorable ride down our backyard hill.  rides that mom would never let me do, not in a million years… at least she survived!

then the prize colin and i had been waiting for.  the infamous “blue comet” train that has sat on the mantle. colin and i got to help mom pack them up in boxes.  they WILL make the trip out to CA. hooray!

but first we get to play a little…

another successful trip!!!

happy halloween!

happy halloween!  like most years, our halloween festivities lasted through a few parties, at school an at home.  this year was significant for colin and i, in that we were borderline obsessive compulsive about spiders and ghosts, goblins and skeletons… and monsters that growl in our bushes.

so it began with the annual parade at school.  although colin wasn’t that into it, i had a ball:

yes i am dash.  cause i run fast.

each of our classrooms made banners which was fun, with a play on words with our names. my classroom is the “happy hummingbirds”

and colins’ is the “busy bees”…

go back up an re-read that a little faster… mom was the only one who saw that at first 😉

colin could not take his eyes off his otter pop for any picture… (and frankly, aren’t they called “icee’s”??? i digress…)

then it came to halloween day.  the annual trip to our great friend d’s house.  man, our growling monster in the bushes at our house had nothing on them 🙂  here’s a shot of our friends before we headed out! really… how do you expect 10+ 4 year olds to stand any better?!

then it was off… like off to the races, for me that is anyway.  dad had to literally hold me back  to stay with the group.  the idea of screaming “trick or treat!” getting tons of candy, and running like crazy with friends, was the best.

so here’s the thing with colin. he is one smart cookie. this boy loves his sweets.  none of us have any idea where he gets it from… *cough* *mom*… so at some point we realized he was taking a while “up front” with the candy.  upon further investigation, we realized that he and the others would say their trick or treats, get a piece and as the others moved on… well. he’d stand there. starting to look all sweet until the mom/dad would say “would you like another piece?” and that little stinker would say “YES!” and that sweet face of his would get another. mom swore he took home twice the loot as i did…

“i got a spider!!”  you should have seen him when he thought he lost it….. the world almost ended. literally.

all in all it was a GREAT night and holiday.  mom and dad had so much fun, watching us have SO much fun.

family trip. part 2

after the best time at nana and papa’s house, we headed down to illinois and the land of mimi.  and trains. and chicago. it has to be said at this point, we started driving deliberately over train tracks in hopes of getting stopped… and nothing.  not 1 time in over 2 weeks did we see a train. geez….

the first night mom and dad got a much appreciated night in the city… as it was their 9 year wedding anniversary after all… colin and i figured, why not?

we got to visit some good friends and meet some new ones too!  one of mom’s dear friends had her baby girl and i got to meet her… and hold her. 3 times. i kissed her head. played with her toes. i think i’m in love 🙂

i don’t want anyone to think that mom and dad didn’t plan on coming home at this time of year for anything other than to see family  and friends. it doesn’t hurt that dad’s favorite all time band in the history of the world (just ask him how many shows he’s seen..) was playing. gosh darn it, wouldn’t you know, it was nearby too!  well, they might as well get tickets and go now, right?? for both night’s of shows too… right?

mimi didn’t mind…. and neither did colin and i : )

we took our annual train ride to a nearby town for bookstore browsing, park playing and some nibbles. it was great.

we went to the local forest preserve to feed fish and be silly

and we even squeezed in a trip to the museum of science and industry. cause they have trains here too, you know.

here we are taking a walk one afternoon with “the wagon”. this has seen many trips just like this over the  years.  mommy and aunt sarah used to ride this over and over as kids.

here we are helping mimi make pancake mix

stopping for a hug with mimi while making cinnamon rolls.

we were sad to leave mimi, nana, papa and cousins, but can’t wait to go back. next time mom and dad won’t tell me until the night before we leave ; )

family trip, part 1

forgive me, as this post has been a month in the making….after (literally) 90 days of asking “is it time to go on the airplane?” mom and dad finally announced it was time… the annual trip to see nana, papa, cousins, and mimi.

colin and i had a great time on the plane, and as we arrived in milwaukee, got numerous compliments as to our behavior… did they think “oh no, 2 boys under five full of piss and vinegar, i hope i don’t sit next to them…” when they saw us coming?  either way, mom and dad chalked it up the the “midwestern niceness” they’ve slowly come to miss.

nana and papa had it all when we got there. really all they needed was a yard and we would have been fine. but all of dad’s childhood toys? sure that was just icing on the cake.  we started the trip off right, with cousins and aunts and uncles headed to the milwaukee public museum.

did you know they had a butterfly exhibit?  well they may not anymore after colin left, as he found much joy in searching the poor things out, smacking the underside of the leaves where they sat and then screaming in delight as they flew away.

did you also know they have the largest amount of dioramas?  yeah, now you do.

we had a great time there with cousins and i even i got quite excited to have mom take my pictures near random things.

next off was the milwaukee zoo!  butterfly exhibit, take two: colin did much better….thankfully.

more trainrides of course as well, thankfully cousins obliged and rode with us!!

we can’t leave with out a tractor ride! in fact one night papa took me out and i helped him cut the whole back yard, and even helped bag the grass too! boy i bet he wishes i lived closer. even colin had to get in on the action.

one day, nana and papa brought out bubbles….

it was a hit.

i’m pretty sure colin was trying to blanket the whole yard with bubbles.

no trip to nana’s and papa’s would be complete without a visit to the local train crossing. i think this one, by a local park will be a must visit every time.  sadly, we stayed for almost 2 hours without a single passing.  thankfully we still had fun while we waited.