August 21st, 2017

The reason for my blogging break was our summer trip: We just spent 16 days in Israel, Paris, and Edinburgh. Our first week was in Israel, where we spent a good chunk of time just wandering around, exploring the streets of Tel Aviv, shopping and eating. (The girls visited their favorite restaurant, Da Da & Da, at least four times! And I think we had ice cream every day.) Here’s our first batch of pics…



Little break

August 5th, 2017

Like last summer, I’m taking a little blogging break. I’ll be back – hopefully with lots of good photos and stories – in a few weeks!


Zoe’s email pledge

August 3rd, 2017

Zoe’s always working on little projects on the computer, and I sometimes get emails from her where she gives me access to a Google doc or invites me to some event she’s hosting. She recently discovered a pledge page on the American Girl website, and the other day the note below popped up in my in box. Seeing her name in the from line always makes me smile, and the girl-power message behind this little project made me even happier.


“No one lives in it anymore”

August 1st, 2017

Speaking of my birthday, Avery came in after helping her dad in the front garden a few weeks ago and handed me a tiny shell. “I found this, and I wanted to give it you as an early birthday present,” she told me with a little smile. “No one lives in it anymore.”


Coffee (or hot chocolate), anyone?

July 30th, 2017

The day before my birthday, Q and I discovered this yummy little coffee shop with fun (and colorful!) drinks. They also have a great menu of non-caffeinated beverages (think Nutella hot chocolate) so we were eager to go back with the girls. Mission accomplished.


A word about Hamilton

July 28th, 2017

The girls were fans of the musical Hamilton before seeing it in the spring, but now they’re really big fans. It’s no exaggeration to say that the soundtrack is all they listen to (Q got so sick of it that we once issued a temporary ban in the house and car) and they now have most of the lyrics to the 46 songs memorized. We all quote the musical on a daily basis, we’re huge fans of a 285-page book on the show, and we reference Daveed and Lin (actors in the original cast) as if we know them.

I read somewhere that Hamilton is like Frozen for adults – and I certainly have been reminded of the Frozen days these past few months. But people’s love for the show (certainly mine and the girls’) goes way deeper than anything I’ve seen before. I don’t know if it’s the music, the lyrics, the charismatic stars, the unique way the show captures history, or a combination of it all – but the show has crawled into our hearts and minds and won’t let go.



“You just start chatting”

July 26th, 2017

As previously mentioned, the girls have been at plenty of new camps — where they knew no one — this summer. But making friends hasn’t been a problem, and one night Avery explained to me how she meets new people. “You say, ‘Hi, what’s your name? My name is Avery,'” she told me. “And then you play or you just start chatting.”


Back to zoo camp

July 24th, 2017

The girls’ summer itinerary has been a mix of new (math camp, sports camp, and coding camp) and old (Galileo and zoo camp). Last week was their return to the latter, and it seemed to be a good one; below you’ll see them “meeting” a spider tortoise (Avery) and Firestone, a rubber boa (Zoe).


Wisconsin landmark project

July 22nd, 2017

Inspired by the San Francisco and California landmark projects she did in third and fourth grades, Zoe decided to do something similar for Wisconsin. Shortly before our trip the two of us came up with a list of, and did some preliminary research on, 25 landmarks and points of historic interest in the state. When we got to Madison she then assigned Grandma, Grandma, Sandy, Avery and me several landmarks, and for each one we found a photo and compiled a bunch of facts.

The project was a fun way to expose the kids to a place they don’t know much about (and even my parents, lifelong Wisconsinites, learned some things). But I had to laugh: This was such a Zoe thing to do on vacation!


More from Madison

July 20th, 2017

When I told a friend about our Madison trip I commented that the girls’ week reminded me of one I would have as a kid. Without camp to go to, they did a lot of relaxing, hanging out and playing games. And our get-aways were fun and mellow, too, and included going downtown, to the Splash Pad (a tradition dating back to 2010), and out for ice cream and pie. Oh, and we even visited the National Mustard Museum!


On the farm!

July 18th, 2017

After coming to the the U.S. from Scotland, my great-great grandfather built a farm in Lodi, Wisconsin (located about 25 miles north of Madison) in 1856. My grandfather grew up there, as did my mom, and the farm is still in our family — but, amazingly, the girls had never been before last week!

My uncle hosted a family reunion during our visit, and I was so excited to show the girls the farm and introduce them to some aunts, uncles and cousins they had never before met. And watching them ride on tractors and run around the grass where my sister, cousins and I ran around as children was beyond special…


Hello, Madison!

July 17th, 2017

We spent all of last week in (mostly) sunny Madison. The girls spent tons of time with Grandma, Grandpa and Sandy (lots of photos coming), and of course we made our annual trek to the Memorial Union downtown. To me, nothing says summer like sitting near Lake Mendota!


Zoe saves the day

July 15th, 2017

On the last morning of school Zoe asked me, “Shouldn’t we get Mila a present?” Avery was going to her friend’s birthday party right after pick-up and I had forgotten to wrap one; I would have sent Avery off without a gift if Zoe hadn’t reminded me. A morning or two earlier, Zoe looked at the calendar on her tablet and announced, “Avery has a dentist appointment this afternoon.” (Me: “Uh, she does?”) And just last week, as we about to leave for an overnight in Sonoma, Zoe asked, “Did we pack Hippo and finger blanket?” (We hadn’t, and those are must-haves for each girl at bedtime.)

These are just a few examples of life with Zoe, who sometimes reminds me of a little adult. And while I want her to be a carefree kid, not a little Mommy, life is pretty busy and I’ll take any extra help I can get!


Turtle sitting

July 13th, 2017

As we’ve done in the past, we signed up to “turtle sit” Yertle, the second-grade pet, over the summer. We had him for one week, and the girls were particularly excited to walk him on our deck.


“I always think of what you said…”

July 11th, 2017

Each spring, during a prayer service that the first-graders lead for the school, the first-grade parents get to formally present a prayer book cover and say a few words to their kids. One of the things I told Avery during hers was that I hope she never loses her ability to appreciate, and find beauty, in the little things in life.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago, when we were at Great America. Avery found a leaf on the ground, as she does, and promptly put it in my purse to save. “I always think of what you said at tefilah when I do that,” she told me with a smile. I was touched that what I said obviously stuck with her, and I told her I couldn’t believe she remembered! “It was only a year ago, Mommy,” she responded with a little shake of her head.