Monday, January 31, 2011

Drove to the City Twice Today

This morning, I had a photo shoot at the restaurant at a hotel near Michigan Ave. downtown, taking food pictures, some action shots of the chef cooking and overall restaurant pics. Photographing food and adults is a much different experience than when I'm with my usual subjects (babies, toddlers, kids, families, etc.), though food photography is not as easy as it looks.

I dropped my kids off at a friend's house, drove down to the city, spent an hour and a half at the shoot, drove back and picked the kids off, dropped Eli and his friend off at preschool, and came home for Charlie's nap.

Two hours later, I woke Charlie up, raced to get Eli and his friend from preschool, dropped the friend off at her house (her mom was watching two other kids that day, so this saved her from loading them into the car), then headed to Costco with my boys to stock up on gas and food before the gigantic Midwestern storm about to descend on Chicago tomorrow afternoon.

Miraculously, Costco wasn't a zoo. But it was still exhausting pushing both kids and all of our heavy items in the cart around the store at 4 p.m. when they were tired from the day and I was lacking patience with their whining, pushing, fighting, etc. while sitting next to each other in the front of the cart. I felt very grateful though when the person who checked me out said the store had been totally packed earlier in the day, and they were expecting it to get busy again in the evening as everyone loaded up on food before the storm arrives.

We picked Ben up from the train on the way home, unloaded all of our stuff from Costco into the house, put it all away, and then I raced out the door to drive back to the city for a class I'm taking on Monday nights. It's three hours long, but usually stretches to 10:30 p.m., so it's a long night.

After class, I walked outside to my car and faced a mini snowstorm with gusts of wind that made it really hard to see on my drive home. I drove 15 mph the entire way, slipping and sliding on the snowy, unplowed roads. I was grateful it was late at night since there were hardly any other cars on the road (but no snow plows out yet, either).

What worried me most was going through intersections--I was driving slowly, but there was no telling if the other cars were allowing enough time to stop. By the time I got within a few miles of our house, visibility was extremely limited and I could barely see parked cars on the side of the road. It was really foggy and snow was swirling all around at a rapid pace. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when I finally pulled into the garage.

This storm is predicted to impact 100 million people by the time it's over because it will spread across such a huge area. Here's what the forecasters are saying... (it's all really dramatic of course)

"Chicago, for one, could see 50 mph wind gusts and wind chills a few digits below zero by Tuesday night. City officials urged residents to stock up on food and medicine in advance of the storm, which could also cause flooding from 25-foot waves on Lake Michigan."

"The weather service issued a blizzard watch for Tuesday and Wednesday for southern Wisconsin, northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. Snow drifts of 5 feet to 10 feet were possible and winds could reach up to 60 mph in open areas and near Lake Michigan."

"Colossal, destructive storm ahead" and "This storm could be one of the top 10 biggest snowstorms ever in the city" and "Folks should batten down the hatches and hold on."

Here's to holding on! I'd love to photograph those huge waves at the lake at some point, but I'm not sure we'll be able to get our car out of the garage if we really get that much snow. It's going to be an interesting rest of the week.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Charlie's Fire Station Birthday Party

In case you're wondering, yes - I did wash Charlie's "2" shirt so he could wear it again on Saturday :) We had Charlie's party at the fire station, which is great because it's free and so fun for toddlers. Charlie LOVES fire trucks and was so excited to see them up close.
 The birthday party was basically a tour of the station, so the firemen showed us all kinds of neat things - here the kids got to see the parts of the fireman uniform when they go out on a call. The ambulance did have to go out on a call, but luckily the fire trucks were there the whole time for the party.
The kids got to try on the uniform - 
And they got to ring the bell -  
 And of course climb up into the driver's seat of the fire truck - 
Fireman Eli:
Fireman Charlie -  
Happy birthday boy!
 This fireman, I think his name was Steve, showed us all kinds of things on the different trucks.  
Charlie was his usual wiggly self and didn't always stay with the group for the tour... my dad was good about wrangling him in.
The kids loved pumpking the water from this can - 
Tired boy...
Gavyn showed up in the cutest dalmation costume, so cute for the fire station! 
After the tour, we sang to Charlie and had cupcakes.
I ordered these cute cupcake wrappers and fireman hats/dogs toppers from Meri Meri online. I made a yummy chocolate cupcake recipe from Martha Stewart. I love Martha recipes and I love homemade cupcakes. Delish. (I made this vanilla buttercream frosting for the top)
This was so do-able - we kept it short and sweet (though the tour took a full hour!!) and kept the party at the station, rather than going back to our place afterward.
The group of kids - kind of a funny mix since most aren't Charlie's exact age, but they're all kids who are nice to Charlie in the church nursery or other places (he seems to hit it off more with girls than boys, probably because they don't fight over the same toys). I always stress about who to invite, but in the end, I decided six families was plenty.
Back at home, we had lunch with my family and opened a few presents - 
My parents gave Charlie this darling car transporter toy (by Melissa & Doug). Both he and Eli love playing with it.
I have a hard time taking down our holiday cards. Maybe I'll break down and put them away this weekend :) I guess it is a month after Christmas after all. We love looking at all of the fun pictures, especially of those friends or family who live far away that we don't see very often.
My parents and Gram went in on a scooter with us for cute Charlie. He is always stealing Eli's scooter when we're at playgroup, so he was VERY excited to have his own. Green is his favorite color. Today we were at the church gym for playgroup and Charlie was so cute, scootering around super fast. He looks so tiny on there but he's really good at riding it around.
Here is a picture of our family room after Ben put the treadmill together. The box and stuffing from it made everything a huge mess. Ben and the kids built a fort with that box while I was gone for a few hours running errands, but I knew we had to get rid of the box after that day because we could barely move around the room. 
I'm determined to put stuff up on the walls now. It's been way too long and I keep putting it off!! The bookcase near the sliding glass window is down in our basement storage area, holding the toys that are out of rotation (they used to be piled on the floor in one of the storage rooms). 

Hooray for a way to exercise in the winter. I's so nice to have the option to walk or jog inside at home if there isn't time to go to the gym, though this mainly was for Ben--It's crazy expensive at the downtown Chicago Loop gyms, so this works better for him.