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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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(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.

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

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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.

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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?

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(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.

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

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

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

party of four

mom and dad’s favorite show to watch in college was “party of 5”.  mom thought that name was the best. she secretly wants one more baby just so she can walk into a restaurant and say, “table please – party of 5”. but it’s ok!  cause when colin was born, she could at least call us “party of four” hence the blog title.  and because of our 4th member of the family turns FOUR, it’s reason to celebrate.

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(miracle of miracles! we are both smiling and making eye contact with the camera!)

mom found this crown for colin and he proceeded to decorate with peel and stick jewels. it took much persuasion from mom not to purchase ALL the pink and purple hearts/butterflies/bows peel and stick gems, from michaels. he wasn’t feeling the green and blues. she managed to convince him with red.

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commence the presents opening

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you know what he got? cars. cars, cars and more cars.

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then it was off to BIG AIR OC. i’m pretty sure i could caption this as colin saying “MA – RI – NA!” she was the one girl from colin’s class that was invited. we think he loves her 🙂 they play mary and joseph in school all the time.

IMG_7450-41jump!

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i’m ok!

IMG_7445-38emma, always fun, jumping and bouncing the kiddos while they lay there.

IMG_7461-48time to eat.

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i’m beaming, discussing the visit from the tooth fairy (post to follow)

IMG_7472-53cousin love. what you don’t see here is aunt sarah squeezing colin and owen together, otherwise they would have been on opposite sides of the room, saying “cheese”.

IMG_7473-54yum.

IMG_7479-59mom contends that colin’s favorite part of his birthday is not the presents, but the singing. the love and the celebration that surround him, fill him up and he takes it all in.  if it could be his birthday everyday just to be sung to, he’d take it.

i love my tickle (yes i still call him that….) with all my heart. teachers tell mom how i take such good care of him.  mom would like to believe that one day, if i were to write my story it would begin with, ” my life started the day my brother was born.” she can hope.

this is 6

img_6475-3-wi had the good fortune of my birthday falling on a saturday this year.  so all celebrations were wrapped up in one day.  great for me! mom went for something different and brought in a reptile man.  the kids were in awe. count on E to add to the drama.  it’s always good to have a girl around 😉

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i didn’t realize that i “had” to hold all the animals.  it took a few to calm my nerves.

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the snakes were a hit.

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colin was fearless.  i dunno, with those eyes and that tongue, yikes.

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i’m starting not to freak out inside my head so much now…

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colin is ready to take him home

img_6561-3-wsnakes, a few lizard and a bull frog that wouldn’t jump and then this…

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mom should have asked for this to stay back in its home

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and then E did this. seriously?? she is woman. hear her roar.

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a baby python snake. colin’s comment “ooooh! it’s so cute – ty!”

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A out did us all with snake and spider.

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say hello to our reptile guy. and say hello to his little friend.  there are no pictures of me with this.  i’m out the door.

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this was the best 6th birthday ever.

apples and pumpkins and old abandoned mine shafts… oh my!

wherever mom goes, she often looks for the “midwesterness” in places in hopes of feeling nostaglic.  aunt sarah must be the same way.  cause she led us to riley’s apple farm in yucaipa (pronounced “you-kai-pa”…no i am not making that name up, east coast family).  it felt like home, except with mountains.  colin and i thought she was just going to drive us straight into them. our conversation with her: “MOM! you are going to drive us straight into the mountain!! where are we going?!?”

a tractor ride? don’t mind if i do!

cheese!

we met up with aunt sarah and mimi and uncle alston and cousins just in time to help them fill their apple basket beyond capacity.

to say colin was obsessed with finding the tiniest of everything was an understatement.

photo op with mimi

then it was off to see the pumpkins.  and colin’s find for the world’s smallest (gourd?)

the views were worth the visit alone.

we were tucked into the mountainside with beautiful views all the way around. in the words of marty  the zebra (you know from madagascar, duh) “i could hang here!”

then it was onto cousin alston’s preferred spot. the abandoned mine shaft

we found this guy along the way. mimi called him “billy” and mom called him “totes mc goats”.  talk about a generation gap. he bounded over and we were all a little scared at first. then he just parked it, and never moved from his spot here…

we enjoyed petting his “goat -tee” a lot. he was the sweetest goat we ever met. emma would have brought him home if we could have found him a way out…

the mine!  ooh it was spooky.

the chair did a very good job of keeping us out. colin found this part of the mine and was convinced ghost were haunting it… this is his “spooky” pose

this was the prettiest indian corn that mom ever saw.

and the flowers!  colin practically dove in and yanked out handfuls. luckily most survived.

a big thank you to aunt sarah for inviting us along, we had the best time ever!

signs

(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 all.their.kids. 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!!!

don’t grow up

[Via: Izismile]

why is this only funny to adults? really, as a child, i should really try to learn from this message.

oh dear.  mom was dreading this.  you’d think i was graduating with highest honors from purdue (yes, that’s how mom chooses to envision my future). this is just preschool.  but. BUT. in her defense, this has been my home since i was 13 weeks old. colin was 16 weeks.  babies.  this school, these teachers, have been our second home, our extended family.

 so this is it. graduation and the next day, our official last day at the goddard school.  colin’s coming with me, though i know he’d love to stay. but it will help me.  i like knowing my brother is around.  i will even go so far as willingly ask to visit the doctor if he’s going. well, it would get me out of school, but that is beside the point.  colin is my baby. i call him that everyday.  sure, i clobber him with plastic trains daily and push him off the couch. but certainly brothers do worse, right??? i digress…

graduation, mom says, serves only as yet another reason to make women cry in public.

 

this face! this tiny cap and gown!!! did you know that hat is called a mortar board?  fun fact: mom went through 4 years of college using purdue’s  daily planner called the “mortar board” and had no idea of this.

here’s my buddy d and i. we were literally some of the first kids that had gone through our school from babies through pre-k.

see? babies people.

look at all these wonderful kids.  i’ve made friends here that i hope i’ll always have…. always.

mimi, aunt sarah and cousins a and e came with, just to yell as loud as humanly possible when the called my name. i loved every minute of it.  fun fact #2: when aunt sarah graduated high school, pap pap offered mom (probably) hundreds of dollars to scream out to aunt sarah “NOW CAN I HAVE YOUR ROOOOOOM???” she didn’t. she still got her room though.  well, of course until aunt sarah would come home for break that is.

these were posted up around graduation. none of this was a surprise. does purdue have a driving school?

and here is comic relief colin with is best groucho marx eyebrow impression:

so the last day of school was upon us and mom was a mess.  here are some sentimental shots she took around school. mom and dad had to confront the fact that i am growing up and also that we’d be leaving people we truly care for. it was a lot to take in, for mom.  hey and to be fair, at one point she even made dad cry too.  ha!

(clearly mom couldn’t be trusted to take clear pictures through her tears)

(my old cubbie, mom was crying in colin’s room and forgot to take a picture of his)

we can’t wait to come back and visit, to show our teachers how much the love they gave us helped us to grow into the boys we are.  i think they should be proud.

easter

this year the easter holiday started out with a new trend. egg coloring.  dad was gung-ho on the 18 count costco brand, but mom reigned him in (who’s gonna EAT all those eggs???).  so we settled with a dozen.  mom and dad had a lot to remember, and we might of needed those 18 eggs with all the ones that cracked. good thing i’m 5 and hadn’t done this before… and colin? he just tried cracking the eggs (like dad does making pancakes),  realizing nothing came out.

and what does colin do?  he makes his wand into a gun… of course.

i am seriously into this.  mom is pleasantly surprised.

oohing and ahhing over color.

did i mention mimi is here?  she show us the ropes.

unlike myself, someone is still a huge ham for the camera…

the finished product!!

the next day is easter and the baskets are out!

and just like every holiday with gifts, we are perched at the top of the stairs, bribed into taking a picture.  it’s tradition.

we loved our baskets, especially the angry birds.  folks, we have them all now… they make angry bird gigggles when we squeeze ’em.  mom swears one of  the three giggles sounds like they are saying “happy new year!!!!”   it doesn’t make any sense.

then in the afternoon it was off to cousins, and easter egg hunting…

pause for some kisses…

happy easter!!!!!!!