Monday, June 28, 2010

One Full Year of Blogging!

Exactly one year ago today I began this blog, with few expectations. I wanted a way to remember my life as a new mom, and I thought a blog would be a good way to keep me accountable. (I kept losing actual paper journals, and I figured that you can't lose the internet! I also wanted a way to share photos and updates with my family. Exactly one year and 204 entries later, I figure I haven’t done too badly. My subject matter might always be enthralling, because I write about things like what my cats are doing, what vegetables my son flung at my head, and what I made for dinner, but I definitely have a record of my life.

I don’t know if my writing has improved at all as a result of writing for an audience, but I'm pretty sure it hasn't gotten any worse. I’m just proud of myself for actually sticking to it. Some months I wrote more than others, but I managed to write a few times a week for a whole year. I feel that blogging has been a good outlet for me—a way to express myself and tell my story, my way.

Goals for my second year of blogging:

1. Organization. I like when I read other blogs and there are topics that go by the day. I’ve always done Wordless Wednesdays, but I think I can take this further. For example, I might write a book review every Tuesday, and share a recipe each Monday. Any ideas? Share them with me in the comments section.

2. Food. Speaking of recipes, I’d love to get more of mine up to share. I really do love to cook, and documenting some of my favorite recipes might help me to remember them. It also forces me to measure, at least somewhat.

3. Teaching. I’d like to share a little more of what I do at work with my students. Perhaps I can share some teaching tips and lessons.

4. More videos of Nick. When I look back at the blog entries I did in the past, some of my favorite ones are when I included short video clips. My favorite is the one where Nick was scooting backwards on his butt. I want to make sure I post more of those videos to track his development.

5. Guest posts. I’ll have to ask some of my family members and friends if they’ll do a guest post for me, just to highlight different points of view. Anyone want to volunteer?

Thanks for reading! I've had a great year, and it's been so much fun sharing my life with you. Here's to another year of blogging.  : )

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Tokyo Bay and a Father's Day Gift

Last week we went to Tokyo Bay for a sushi lunch with Grandma Toni. All of us are fans of sushi, and this place was pretty decent. I loved the way it was decorated, and got to eat something called a Godzilla roll (Tempura shrimp w/crabmeat, cream cheese, avocado, cucumber, and sauce on top). Something about the sauce made this roll really good. While Kiku is still my favorite sushi place, I think I'd definitely visit Tokyo Bay again. Nick ate several pieces of sushi, and he loved their broccoli tempura. Maybe next year we can teach him to eat with chopsticks.

Greg brought along his Father's Day present from Nick (and me), a new digital camera. After the nightmare situation I had with the Nikon Coolpix S220 I had last year, we decided not to go with another Nikon. That camera is currently sitting in a drawer, unused. Hey, if you'd like to buy a camera, I have a nearly new one with a brand new lens from Nikon. Only problem is, it takes really crappy pictures.

I ended up buying Greg a red Sony Cyber-shot W330, with a Carl Zeiss lens. It has 14.1 mega pixels, and takes very decent pictures. He took all of the pictures here, except for the one of him, which I took. Below you can see him happily opening up the Hobby Lobby gift card his mom got him, along with some paintbrushes. My husband makes such interesting faces when he's having his picture taken.  :)

After lunch, we had to pick up some kitty food at the PetSmart. Our kitties eat specialty food for old, fat kitties who don't exercise much. The only time my cats run is when they see Nick coming!

I had forgotten how much Nicholas loves going to the pet store, and I think I will take him back soon, just to entertain him for a half hour or so. They had puppies up for adoption, and Nick was in heaven, running back and forth between the cages, shrieking with joy and petting their soft muzzles.

The birdies also piqued his interest, and he insisted on pointing at each individual bird, saying, "Birdie!," and "See?" I guess the motion of them all flying around in the cage was pretty cool. I've always liked birds, but I hesitate to get one since I think the poor thing would become neurotic with three cats stalking it day and night.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Schaumburg Farmers' Market and Lunch at Maggiano's with G.G.

On Friday, Nick and I took a little trip to visit my Grandma Dorothy, who Nick calls G.G. We wanted to go to the farmers' market in Schaumburg, and my grandmother brought her dog, Miss Lucy, who weighs only slightly more than a hamster. I think Nick was mildly jealous, because instead of everyone fussing over him, they were fussing over the adorable puppy. "Oh, she is so cute!" Nick was not used to being second fiddle. I somehow think that he won't adjust well when we eventually have a second child. He is always the center of attention.

I've always been pretty close to my grandmother, who is only 41 years older than me. People often assume she's my mother when we're out and about, and that Nick is her grandson. She is always proud to announce that Nick is her great-grandson. I always try to go up and visit her whenever I can, especially during vacations and summer.

The Schaumburg Farmers' Market was nice, medium-sized but with some pretty good vendors. It was smaller and not as complete as the Saturday markets in Lisle and Wheaton, but there were still quite a few local farmers and some great samples. The samples are always Nick's favorite part of  farmers' markets. I bagged a tart from the French nuns, some havarti and gout goada cheese from a gourmet cheese vendor, a nice bunch of green onions, and some fresh broccoli. Lucy (the puppy) got some doggie socialization time and about forty compliments. After the farmers' market, we went to drop the puppy off before going to lunch. She was ready for a nap, after playing with Nick to the point of exhaustion. Nick was still raring to go, though.

We went to Maggiano's for a nice Italian lunch. They told us that the servings were all half portions because it was lunchtime. We decided to order two dishes and split them so that we could try two things. We had meat lasagna and chicken spinach manicotti with alfredo sauce. I also ordered some asparagus with garlic so that we'd have a vegetable. The waitress warned me, "The baby might not like the asparagus, since it has a lot of garlic." I told her not to worry, because Nick eats nearly everything. He likes garlic, too.

The asparagus, in fact, was his favorite part of the dinner. He ate at least five or six spears of the stuff. Nick enjoys anything shaped like a french fry, and this includes green beans, string cheese, and asparagus. He kept waving the stalks around like little flags, but he ate a whole lot, garlic or no garlic. I love the picture above because of the way Nick is holding the asparagus in front of his face, showing me. "MMM," he kept announcing as he grabbed for another stalk and shoved it in his mouth.

The food was pretty good, and the atmosphere was nice. It was just noisy enough for Nick's chattering not to bother anyone. When they brought our food out, we were astounded. If these were half-size, lunch portions, what must the dinner portions look like? I ate less than half of the food and still felt very, very full. We weren't too full to try some tiramisu, though. Can you see it all around Nick's lips? I thought he might not like it, because tiramisu has a kind of coffee flavor, but Nick loved every bite. I asked the waitress to take our picture before we left.

We thought we'd go back to the house and let Nick take a nap, but he wasn't having any of it. He wanted to play, plain and simple. Most of all, he wanted to play with the puppy. "Puppy!," he'd announce as he pointed towards her. "Soft," he'd say as he stroked her fur. Nick wasn't always gentle, but the puppy was surprisingly tolerant and Nicholas wasn't quite as rough as he is with the cats.

Nick and Lucy are on the same scale, size wise. She comes up to about his waist if she jumps on him, and I think she likes his smaller size, because Lucy just can't leave him alone. When he walks with her, it's as if an adult were walking with a medium sized dog. Miss Lucy was extremely active all day, and she even walked down with us to the park, using her leash correctly. My grandma was very proud of her.

But Nick never did take a nap. That's something I'm going to have to work on-whenever I go somewhere, I can't get Nick to sleep at all. He was mad at me when we had to leave, too, because he wanted to stay with GG and the puppy. Poor guy was plumb tuckered out by the time we got back home. He slept nearly 13 hours last night, so at least he got caught up. We'll have to make a point to go and visit again before the summer is over.

Friday, June 25, 2010

More Birthday Traditions and an Ice Cream Mess

In my husband's family, it is customary to take the birthday girl or boy out to dinner to celebrate. Hey, if you're getting another year older, you might as well have a nice meal, a naughty dessert, and some company for commiseration. They also do this for mother's and father's day, and for any special event that seems important enough to warrant a meal. I actually really like this tradition, because it means we get to go out to eat a lot. I've even started spreading this tradition around by taking my family members out to dinner to celebrate their bithdays.

My mother-in-law took us out to celebrate my birthday, which was very nice of her. I chose Meson Sabika, which is my all time favorite restaurant. Check out this picture, though. The waitress took it, so I guess I can't blame it on my bad photography skills. Sarah and Nick look great, but the rest of us are making some very interesting facial expressions. I do not like the way I'm squinting in this picture, but it's the only one we have with all of us in it. I'm not sure what type of face Greg was making, or whether it was intentional or not. I suppose it must be hard to get five people all smiling nicely at the same time.

One of the reasons I love Meson Sabika so much is the beautiful building and grounds. Nick enjoys throwing mulch into the koi ponds and attempting to go swimming. I love the gorgeous flowers and the historic building. Nick attempted to drink the oddly green water from the pretty fountain. Greg attempted to block him from doing so. . . Ah, such is an evening out as parents.

Here's another classic facial expression from my sexy husband.  : )

This time at Meson Sabika, the waitress asked us if Nick would like his own bowl of ice cream, and we actually agreed. (!) He ate almost all of it himself, with a spoon.  We were very proud. Then, when most of the ice cream was melted. . . Well, see for yourself what he did. Don't worry, we forgave him, even though Greg did have to strip him down to his diaper, because he got ice cream on all of his clothes. His little tummy and legs were very, very sticky.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

All By Himself!

He can do it! My little boy is growing up. He climbed up the stairs, sat down on the slide, and went down by himself (after watching a little girl do it first). Nick loves to go to the park, and he even has a special name for it. He points when he sees a park and says, "Whee!" As in the noise he makes when he goes down the slide.

Here's a list of some other things Nick can now do by himself. He's learned all of this in the last two months. When I sat down to make this list, I was more than a little surprised.  I'm quite proud, as well, but I think I understand now why I've been a little tired lately after a day spent with Nicholas!

Nick's "All By Himself List." He can. . .

1. Climb onto the couch.
2. Climb out of the bathtub.
3. Eat with a spoon (depending on the food).
4. Get into his Cozy Coupe, shut the door, and honk the horn.
5. Ask me to read him a story. (He says it "Stoodee," or sometimes, "Pees Stoodee," and even once "Pees Uppees Stoodee," as in "Please, up, story")
6. Drink from a full sized cup with a straw. Even when it's a frappucino.
7. Take off his diaper. (When he's not wearing pants over the diaper.)
8. Turn on the tv manually by standing on his tiptoes. (And turn it off, and change the mode. And change the channel. And turn up the volume. And turn it on again.)
9. Pick strawberries and flowers.
10. Ride the seesaw, if it's a short see saw.
11. Get in and out of the pool.
12. Unzip my purse, grab the wallet, undo the snap, and empty everything onto the floor.
13. Remove the batteries from the tv remote.
14. Climb on the couch, grab the remote from the end table, remove the batteries, and throw them behind the couch.

That's my boy.  :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Pool, a Party, and a New Puppy (Part Two)

Okay, the party is next. I'm going to tell you about how my family celebrates birthdays, and I even looked up some information on birthday traditions. See, I'm a teacher, and I have an uncontrollable urge to research.

Anyway, Nick got to sit on the laps of both birthday girls during the whole candle/cake/singing thing. He's still trying to figure out the concept of blowing out the candles. Here, you can see Nick sitting with his Great-Grandma Dorothy, (GG) during the singing. I think he looks somewhat bewildered as to why the cake is on fire. I suppose many of our customs may seem weird to him. You know, it is kind of weird that we put lit candles on a cake. Happy Birthday GG!

I actually looked it up, because I was curious. It seems that the practice of putting candles on cakes comes from the Ancient Greeks, who used to bring cakes to the temple for the goddess of the moon. I guess they'd put the candles on so that the cake would glow, just as the moon does. Then, later, Germans put one candle on a cake in honor of the light of life. I do believe Nick was just wondering why nobody cared that the cake was on fire. He sure looks like he's trying to figure the whole thing out. Happy Birthday Auntie Mandy!

Above you can see Nick wondering why we set the cake on fire a second time. We do something strange during birthdays, on my mother's side of the family. When we sing the birthday song, we sing 3 verses of the song. We've done this as long as I can remember, and I never knew why. In fact, I can remember being surprised when I'd go to my friends' birthday parties and they'd only sing one verse. When new people come to birthday parties in my family, it always confuses them, because they think the song is over, and then we keep singing.

I had to research where the other verses came from, and I think I've figured it out. "May the Dear Lord Bless You," comes from a Catholic version of the Happy Birthday song, which makes sense since my family has Catholic roots. "May You Live A Hundred Years" is a translation from the Polish version of the song, "Sto Lat." That makes sense, too, since we come from Polish roots.

Now Nick, he doesn't care about any of this. At least not yet. But you know what he does care about?

Yup. Ice cream. He cares a whole lot about ice cream. Nick is doing much better with a spoon, too, although he makes quite a mess while eating it. Yes, that is a towel wrapped around his neck.

I suppose I'll have to show the puppy pictures tomorrow for Wordless Wednesday. My grandmother just bought this adorable puppy named Lucy, and she weighs only 2 pounds. She is a Yorkie, and the cutest doggie ever. When I saw her, I said, "That's not a dog, it's a hamster!" Seriously, I've actually seen rats larger than this dog, when I worked in Cicero. But the dog was definitely cuter. I'll show lots of pictures tomorrow. Oh, and photo credits go to my sister, Amanda Wiatr.

Monday, June 21, 2010

A Pool, a Party, and a New Puppy (Part One)

Last Saturday we went to my mom and stepdad's house for a triple party. It was to celebrate my sister's birthday, my grandmother's (Nick's great-grandmother, or GG's) birthday, and father's day (for Nick's Grandpa Ray). My sister took a ton of pictures, so I think I'm going to have to do a few posts for this one. Today I'll start with the pool. Can you tell that Nick loves being outside, nearly naked, and wet? When he saw the pool at grandma's house, he got all excited. I can imagine him thinking. . . "You mean I get to play with this water? And you won't get mad at me if I splash it? That is awesome!" Auntie Mandy spent much of the time snapping pictures of Nick, and she got some really good ones.

And splash he did! There were these little squirty balls, and Nick kept getting everyone wet with them--including himself. Everyone just sat around and watched as Nick climbed in and out of the pool, splashing the whole time. He has become our entertainment. After awhile, his diaper started blowing up with water. You'd be amazed at how much those things can hold! So we took the soggy and heavy diaper off and let him run around naked for a little bit. He loved that. I think most toddlers get a kick out of having their diapers off. I guess I'd feel the same way if I had that many thick, absorbant layers on all day, every day.

I think he must've gotten cold after awhile, and about that time Grandma Linda got a big fluffy towel and a cup of milk. The world must be very strange for Nicholas lately, since he hasn't been going to the babysitter's house and the only people he sees are adults. Poor guy.

All of these pictures were taken by my sister, Amanda Wiatr, who is an amazing photographer. Yes, she does do freelance photography work, including weddings and family photography. Mandy is especially good at taking pictues of kids and animals, and her rates are very reasonable. She can be contacted either through her Facebook Page or by email at if you're interested in getting a quote.

Anyway, after Nick's little swim, we went inside for cake and played with my grandma's new puppy for awhile. I'll write more tomorrow, and show some more great pictures. I'm going to end with this picture, which I adore because Nicholas looks so contemplative. I wonder what kind of deep thoughts he's thinking. . . perhaps he's figuring out the secrets to world peace. Or deciding whether to pee on the patio. Or internally debating the nation's energy policy. Nah, he's probably dreaming of ice cream. If my boy is anything like his mommy, he wastes most of his deep thoughts on food.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day!

In honor of Father's Day, here is a picture of Nick and his daddy, taken when Nick was only a week old. When I was pregnant with Nick, Greg used to talk to my belly. It's funny, but after Nick was born, he would turn every time he heard Greg's voice. Now, every night when he hears the garage door, Nick runs to the door, shouting, "Dah-Dee!" Nicholas cannot wait to see his favorite guy in the whole world.

Then, here's another picture of Nick with his daddy, taken last month at a wedding when they were both dressed up in their suits. Can you see the resemblance? Greg has always been a hands-on dad, and he wakes up with Nick every day.

Just to show how much my little man takes after his daddy, I scanned in a picture taken in 1975, when Greg was about 18 months old. Then, I have a picture of Nick that my sister took yesterday.

Nicholas is very lucky to have such a good daddy. Happy Father's Day, Greg!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Visit With Grandpa Mike and Grandma Patty

This week, my dad and stepmom came over to celebrate my birthday, along with my sister and her boyfriend. June is a hugely busy month in my family, with birthdays for me, my sister, and my maternal grandmother. Then there's father's day thrown into the mix. I suppose it's a good thing that all of this falls when I'm on summer vacation, because there's more time to celebrate.  Nick is lucky enough to have four grandmas and three grandpas, and he's a first grandchild, too. That means he is the star of everything. All attention is focused squarely on him. He loves it.

In the photo above, Nick is pointing at the pond in back of our house and announcing, "Water!" Then, he started mimicking my dad and saying, "Dirty Water." Indeed it is.

Thank goodness it didn't rain during the visit. Nick got to run around outside and spend some time with someone other than me. (I do believe I'm old news now that I'm home with him 24/7.) Grandpa Mike and Grandma Patty brought Nick a special new toy--a miniature shopping cart, which he loved. They also brought me a delicious cake with a yummy cream cheese frosting. Everyone sat out on the lawn and watched him while Greg cooked up some yummy steaks with sauteed fingerling potatoes.

Nick's Auntie Mandy spent her time snapping amazing pictures of Nick, and she gets full photo credits. I especially like the photo above because my dad and Nick have similar stances and expressions. I can see the resemblance between them. They're both walking in a very deliberate and serious way towards the guacamole. (Greg made his homemade guacamole, and it was a success.) Nick's just like his grandpa--serious about good food.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Puddle Jumper

Yesterday Nick and I took a walk to the park. He refused to take a nap around noon, so I figured we'd go to the park and that would tire him out. (It did!) We walked, and on the way there, Nick found a puddle. See for yourself what he did. . .

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My Little Pickpocket

So this morning, I went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. I was gone perhaps forty seconds. That's how long it took him to do this:

I just hope he didn't sneak online and order baby books on amazon or a box full of binkies from Babies R Us. I certainly wouldn't put it past him.  ; )

Monday, June 14, 2010

One of the Best Things About Summer. . .

is going to the farmers' markets with my husband and son. Last week, we went to the Oswego Country Market, and we enjoyed ourselves. Part of it, I think, is just being able to be outside and enjoy the morning air. Nick likes it when people bring their puppies to the markets.

On Sunday, we bought asparagus, peaches, spinach, fingerling potatoes, salad dressing, tomatoes, and onions. They were all pretty fresh, and the rainbow fingerling potatoes were my favorite this week. They were delicious in olive oil.

Nick absolutely loved the hot cinnamon doughnuts that they sold. He got sugar in some pretty weird places, like the crook of his knees and up behind his ears. After finishing our shopping, we went walking by the river and let Nick play in the park. When he saw the park up in the distance, he screamed with glee and started running, full force, towards the slide. Nicholas was vibrating with excitement and kept pointing and screaming, "Whee!" as he ran. The swings were his favorite, I think. . . especially this big boy swing.

Sometimes I feel kind of guilty, because I have such a high energy kid. I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, a high energy mom. He is eager for any kind of exercise, and I am exceptionally good at finding excuses to sit on the couch with a good book. Perhaps Nick is good for me, in that sense, although he's also exhausting. I hope it doesn't rain tomorrow, because I'm thinking of taking him for a long walk and then for a run and a climb in the park. That should tire him out.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Balloons and Strawberry Smoothies

Without fail, every time Nick sees a balloon, he gets incredibly excited. "Boon!" he exclaims loudly, pointing at his favorite object in the whole world. He does this for every single balloon, even if we're in the grocery store and there are upwards of 20 balloons. A few times I've even bought him one, figuring that it was cheaper than my latte, and probably gave him just as much pleasure. I do believe Nick gets more enjoyment out of one balloon that I do from anything (even cheesecake).

These particular balloons are from my mother-in-law's retirement party. We went to see her at work last week, so she could show Nick off to all of her co-workers. It was an exciting visit for all of the co-workers, who stood outside their offices laughing at Nick's squeaky shoes and watching him chase a ball down the hallway. Nick loved the attention--he wasn't a bit shy about being the center of attention.

Grandma Toni gave Nick the blue balloon to take home, and man, was he pleased with it. It's been nearly a week, and every time he comes downstairs or into the house, he sees that balloon and shouts "Boon!" as if he's never seen it before. He drags it around the living room, shrieking with joy as it follows him around.

I'm adjusting pretty well to my summer routine so far. I forget every year how nice it is to be off for the summer. Then June comes along, and I'm always shocked at how wonderful it is. Nick, I think, misses his friends at the babysitter's house. He gets very animated when he sees another child, and I can tell he wishes he had someone to play with other than just me and Greg. I need to take him to the library for storytime next week, so he can get some playtime with other little boys and girls. Although he's satisfied enough just going to the grocery store or out to lunch--Nick just isn't into hanging around the house.

One of the things I love about summer, besides all of the time off, is all the fresh fruit. My strawberry patch is still producing tons of fruit, and I've been using all the berries. In the summers I like to make frozen smoothies, and the picture below is of my favorite blend--Strawberry-Pineapple. Smoothies are wonderful because they taste like dessert but they're good for you. (At least the way I make them, they are.) I don't always measure precisely, but here's my recipe.

Strawberry-Pineapple Smoothie

First, add in:
1 cup of either light activia vanilla yogurt or greek yogurt (any flavor)
2 T ground flaxseed
1t cinnamon
2 scoops of whey protein powder (you can add more, too)

Then, add in the fruit until the blender is around 3/4 of the way full. I used frozen pineapples and fresh strawberries from my garden. Sometimes I add a banana, too. I add in 2/3 of a cup of skim milk and then add more if necessary, using the ice crush option on my blender until it's all mixed. If it doesn't taste sweet enough, I've used either honey or a couple of packets of Splenda, although usually the fruit is plenty sweet enough. One of my tricks is to take fruit that is very ripe and freeze it, that way I don't have to throw any out. This is especially good for bananas.

I always top smoothies with real whipped cream. If I have them, I add either sprinkles or dark chocolate chips. For me, balancing a healthy breakfast with decadent things like whipped cream and chocolate chips makes it that much more enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Two Years Already?

Today is our 2nd Wedding Anniversary. It's hard to believe that it's already been two years. It seems like it was just yesterday that Greg and I were nervously standing at the altar, dressed in expensive and incredibly uncomfortable clothing, praying that the rain would hold off until the ceremony was over. (It did, but just barely.) Two years later, I spent much of the evening cleaning up the spaghetti that Nick threw five feet across the kitchen.

So what are we going to do for our anniversary? Nothing, tonight. We decided to hold off on celebrating until Greg takes his vacation in a few weeks. I believe he's planning a nice trip downtown, and a stay in a hotel. For tonight, I cleaned up the spaghetti projectiles, and Greg did the dishes. I will say that I was dressed more comfortably than I was two years ago. . . I spent the evening in my comfy pajamas. Then, when it was time for The Daily Show, we shared a plate of homemade s'mores that Greg made in the microwave. I suppose any dessert is a celebration.  : )  The s'mores were pretty good, but not so good as our delicious chocolate ganache wedding cake.

Actually, that cake was one of the best parts of the wedding. If we could afford it, I think we would celebrate each anniversary with a cake like that. Not that I didn't like the s'mores.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Did you know. . . ?

. . . that they make this kind of tank top for babies? (I'm not really sure what the appropriate name is for the tank top--when I was a kid we called them something offensive.) I bought some summer pjs for Nick on Ebay, and this outfit came for free with another pair of pajamas I ordered. Greg put him in them, and I thought he looked pretty funny.

The only time I ever see guys wearing these tank tops, it is a middle aged guy with a bald head and a big beer belly. He usually has a can of beer in his hand and is shouting at his children while listening to NASCAR on the radio and sitting on a ratty lawn chair in his garage. It's kind of weird to see my little man wearing a tank top.

Come to think of it, Nick does have a little beer belly hanging over his shorts. . .

Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Budding Artist? . . . Well, Maybe

Lately, Nick has gotten the hang of drawing. For a long while there, he'd just chew on the crayons and then throw them at me. But now he'll actually scribble on the paper. Then he bites off a pieces and chucks the rest at me. But hey, at least he's progressing. This picture is from last weekend, but Nick did a lot more drawing today when we went out to dinner.

For my birthday today, Greg took me (and Nick) out to a fancy seafood place in Oakbrook. It's called McCormick and Schmick's, and the food was excellent. Nick's favorite part was the fried calamari, and I think he ate more than I did. I had a lobster tail and the "Grilled Filet Medallions with Wild Mushroom Demi." My mouth was so happy. Greg had the "Braised Wild Halibut & Salmon in a Light Saffron-Truffle Broth." For a birthday dinner, I couldn't have asked for more. I had a delicious Riesling and a chocolate mousse for dessert, and I will be begging to go back to this restaurant.

Nick was a huge flirt in the restaurant. He was playing peekaboo with a lady at the table next to us, and he kept grinning and making faces at a couple across the way. Lately he's also been into clapping for himself, and for other people. I do believe my little boy presented a lot of entertainment for the other diners. When we were having our dessert, Nick starting flirting with a different lady, and she was totally flirting back. She'd smile and cock her head to the side, and he'd do the same and giggle. Then, when she got up to leave, he waved and said "Bye-Bye!" I don't know if they saw.

While in the restaurant, Nick colored on the kid's menu. He also ate the tip of the yellow crayon. The box says they're non-toxic, though, so I'm sure he'll be okay. (Perhaps his diaper will be interesting to change tomorrow, however. . . ) 

It's funny how he's been coloring with more intent lately, as if he suddenly "gets" why crayons are cool. He looks with awe at the marks he made. I bet he gets that from his daddy. Greg loves to draw and paint; in fact, in just over five years, he's developed into a very decent painter. Check out this painting that Greg did of the Seine River in Paris, on our honeymoon. I wonder if Nick is taking after him. (Although I should hope that Greg doesn't eat his paints! Those aren't nontoxic.)

Here is Nick's masterpiece. He colored it for me this morning for his birthday and his daddy wrote the words. I think Greg must've also done the smiley faces and the little heart. But the bulk of the work was done by an 18-month-old. I was impressed by how much color he got on the page without throwing the crayons. What do you think? Do I have a budding artist on my hands? He sure doesn't get that from me!