Thursday, December 9, 2010

What!? AGAIN with the damn Christmas letter?

Merry Christmas from the Claytor’s 2010!

(here's a loud little video to recap the year)

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Man, didn’t we just talk to you people? Aren’t you getting sick of this posturing? You all have no idea the toll this “labor of love” takes on me…I hope you’re happy with yourselves.

We start this year with the Canine Extravadogza! Lupine Lollapalooza! Arfmagedon! Puptastic…oh never mind. The neighborhood expanded “plus one pet” this year to include Riley the co-op dog (she lives next door…). Less than a year old but already best buds with Otter and Sherpa and repeatedly climbs the fence between our yards to join in the four legged fun. Likely we’ll just cut a dog-door in the fence and be done with it. As for our dogs…it’s a treat eating, dirt rolling, fur shedding, butt sniffing paradise all up in here! They’re enrolled in a newly opened Doggie Day Care in town, and the report cards suggest that Sherpa is a hall monitor and Otter’s been dealing pot on the side. Good Dogs!

Kelly finishes the year having landed a permanent position as a Neurosurgeon at Northwest Community Hospital (wait…what?) Don’t worry, in her administrative offices they keep her away from the sharp objects and any patients worth saving. She still creates wicked climbing routes at Vertical Endeavors, and her skills as a landscape designer continue to be in demand at Knupper’s Nursery. Her garden grew cartoonishly large produce throughout the year; (Possibly some Zucchini-Louisville Slugger hybrid?) That creativity expanded to the rest of the yard; tons of shrubs and plantings and paver paths (oh my…) If only all the rain she brought with her on our vacation to Door County, Wisconsin could have been used to water it all!

It was a standard kind of year for Chris; the company's new offices are closer to Vertical Endeavors where he continues to work as an instructor and coach, while a couple of local trips to climb outside kept him from going completely bonkers. Early in the year he and Kelly joined Scott and Heidi Williams for a quick weekend to snowboard in Wisconsin, and in the summer, he and Scott teamed up to run the Chicago “Muddy Buddy” race as The Saltines (just a couple of crackers?). In addition to digging holes for all the new greenery in the yard, he and Kelly spent the summer installing a new deck. He still counts to ten every morning to make sure all the digits are there…

I know we have a daughter around here someplace…Carolyn? Chrysanthemum? Cartman? Oh yeah…Caitlin!!! We wouldn’t have guessed 2010 would be busier than 2009, but that’s what happens when the kid never says “NO” to anything. After finishing her Freshman Year with the Show Choir, she dove directly into a summer theater production of The Sound of Music. The Prospect Marching Knights Band DOMINATED the competitions in the fall, sending her all over Illinois to win State, take 4th in Regional, and Atlanta to take 10th in Super-regional. Check out their field show on our blog, you’re sure to be impressed. As soon as she’s free of the Honors Choir rehearsals, pep-band practice, play performances, orchestra concerts , show choir competitions and dance recitals she’ll get around to thanking all her fans for their support…she’s such a diva.

It was an active year for The Boy with an awesome climbing trip to western Illinois, bike trips, day hikes, a cool round of disc golf and a summer skateboarding camp. The usual Soccer seasons rounded out his athletic endeavors. He quenched his horticultural thirst by nurturing Vern, his Venus Flytrap for the better part of the year (Vern loves worms, is OK with flies and ants, but pork tenderloin not so much?) His handyman skills came bubbling up to the surface in July when he SINGLE-HANDEDLY assembled a new barbecue grill for Dad’s birthday. Actually we’re a little nervous about that…I smell gas, and it ain’t the usual sort we have coming from him…

Well I hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s effort. For in the land of the blind, one eye is the king. If you’re not flyin’ you’re not tryin’. Get off my lawn!

With love found just north of appropriate…

Chris, Kelly, Caitlin, The Boy, Sherpa and Otter!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Band Geeks of the World...UNITE! part 2

Caitlin's marching band season is finally over, and boy did they work the butts off! The usual 8 hour band days in the summer (40 hours a week) and an intense game and competition schedule paid off. Prospect Marching Knights were Grand Champion in all of their preliminary competitions, won state, were 4th in Regionals, and 10th in the Super Regionals with 40 other top bands competing. They had a fantastic show this year. We are immensely proud of Caitlin and how hard she work and how dedicated she's been to this wacky band thing.

The clip in the following post shows just the last few minutes (the best part).

link to a news article:
http://triblocal.com/mount-prospect/community/stories/2010/09/prospect-marching-knights-double-success/

Prospect Marching Nights 2010 at ISU

The Boy is the King of the World...well, Illinois Anyway

We headed west...The Boy and the Mutts in tow, to Mississippi Palisades. Most of Colin's excitement about this little day climbing trip was that he get to see Iowa. Yea, I can't explain that one either. But we managed to persuade him to be tough, and he climbed the Pinnacle, a lovely little climb to a lovely expansive view of the Mississippi River. We had perfect early fall weather and met up with a few friends. Sherpa & Otter were great crag dogs, excited to finally get out of the suburbs and on a little adventure.

Colin mustered his way up some fairly difficult climbs that none of us would have ever thought he'd do. He was quite proud of himself, but as the last photo shows, was completely tuckered out by the ride home.


The Results of Last Month's Poll are in...

and you voted for "Rent a Winnebago, tour the east coast". Mom, this is not Chicago, you can't vote 8 times. Runner-up was "Habitat for Humanity...in MONGOLIA!". While this sounds deliriously delightful, I suspect it will be some weird hybrid of the two...tent camping in Alabama?

Welcome To Kelly's Life, Episode 21

Prior to my Midwestern domestication, I believe that I could legitimately say that I was competent in the kitchen, and could whip up a reasonable semblance of dinner with proper advance notice. I will not say, however, that I was any sort of culinary genius, as I had been known to occasionally mistake tablespoons for teaspoons and unwittingly salt the lasagna to a point rivaling the Pacific. I can read recipes, follow them properly, and adjust them as need be or as whim dictated, and still come out with a suitable entrée much to the satisfaction of my dinner guests. Or possibly they were just polite, but I do not recall anyone hiding their food in shirtsleeves or retching in the shrubbery or looking for some poor unsuspecting house pet to take the fall.

But something odd happened when I headed to the ‘burbs of the Midwest. I gained possibly a rare and hard to find subspecies of a husband: One that cooks, rarely complains about it, and is pretty darn good at it too.

I of course blame it on the commuting. And the children (I generally blame everything on the children). I was commuting over an hour each way to work, and if the family were to wait for me to prepare their dinner, they’d be eating cereal and toothpaste. So dear husband could cook or starve, and obviously chose the former. Generally every evening I came home to a warm home-cooked meal, and my place at the table waiting for me. And I can also honestly say that I became RIDICULOUSLY spoiled and didn’t fight it one iota.

So then I became known as the “company cook”, saving my skills for the larger dinner parties, the pre-Thanksgiving Thanksgiving dinners and shindigs of that sort. I generally managed only to cook in large quantities…somehow always wondering if 18 servings of stuffing would be enough for the 6 or 7 folks having dinner that night and buying the 23 pound turkey, you know, just to be safe. Ultimately, we’d all have our allotted seconds and second seconds before being given the option of 83 different desert options and after dinner drinks. We’d then begin rolling the dinner guests out to their cars with a sleepy tryptophan induced wave goodbye. And, you know, at least 2 meals worth of leftovers stuck under their arms to induce a similar coma type effect the following evening in the comforts of their own home, while wearing their necessary stretchy pants. After they left, the children would be sent to each property line sharing neighbor to share some turkey legs and pie too. And we had leftovers for the week as well.

Possibly a slight miscalculation…but clearly not a demonstration of any sort of cooking negligence on my part, right?

As time went on, I found myself being the, well, er, the appetizer “cook”. I’d put out the brie and hummus, the chips and salsa, and the previously mentioned cooking husband would remain in the kitchen whipping up something nifty for the grill and also being the bartender, while I would entertain the guests with a quick demonstration of cold fusion and card tricks, or a dance on the table, depending on the company. The meals would be perfectly proportioned to feed only those in attendance, and not the entire eastern half of Pyongyang.

Which brings me to present day, where I recently decided to rebel against my peculiar husband and cook my own damn food, just so that I didn’t lose (and could prove) my culinary skills. I opted for a lovely crimini mushroom and muenster cheese egg scramble on 12 grain toast, with a little free range organic piggy that I’m sure was hugged daily before it’s unfortunate demise. I could be vegetarian, if only I could eat bacon. Funny thing though…organic free range bacon cooks in a flash and before I knew it, I had a couple strips of carbon and a smoke alarm causing the dogs to cower under the living room table. Chris smiled, in a gentle sort of way that said, “Oh honey, it could happen to anyone”, as I nibbled the dark brown corners off the remnants of my piggy that did not get to live up to its bacon destiny. Which is when I noticed the burnt toast smell and popped in another pair of do-over bread slices while I shooed my husband out of the kitchen, lest he bear full witness to these unfortunate goings on. “I’m just rusty”, I thought as I picked the little shells out of the frying egg. I mixed the eggs in with the mushrooms and readied myself to flip them over in one swift motion, you know, like on TV. I shimmied the pan to flip… managed to save the eggs from dumping into the open flame and watched them fall in a crumbly heap in the middle of the pan, half turned over, half still yolky from the failed attempt. Sigh. Toast and eggs are the same as an egg sandwich, it’s all going to the same place…my stomach doesn’t care what it looks like. I hear snickering from the doorway and chase Chris with a hot spatula out of my kitchen domain, as I wait for the cheese to melt into my culinary concoction. I lovingly place the hot mess onto the toast and head to the table to eat with my painfully gleeful husband.

Which is when, of course, as you all suspected, I bit down on a nice, perfectly square piece of cheese divider paper.

It’s not anyone that could cook a whole meal without noticing the WHITE PIECE OF PAPER in it. The polite snickering had most definitely ended, and Chris snorted cereal through his nose. He declared my reign in the kitchen to be most certainly over. And rightly so.

The moral:

1. Check for paper before eating anything Kelly makes.

2. Check for shells before eating anything Kelly makes.

3. I’ll be waiting for my call from Kim Jong-Il, North Korea needs to eat too.

4. Cinder piggy is not a proper outcome. Embrace your inner vegetarian.

5. Fried paper anyone? It’s just fiber…

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Muddy Buddy!


Chris and Scott decided to venture forth and do The Muddy Buddy race. It's a 2-team member race with the guys sharing the duties of running and biking a 5-ish mile course with a few obstacles and a great big mud pit at the end. Most teams dress up as something rather goofy and we saw plenty of wacky costumes. Heidi and I went along to photograph and spectate.

Here's a slide show (there's sound):


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DOGS!




What are the mutts up to you ask? A whole lotta nothin', that's what. It's been a bit too hot for hikes and such, and we've yet to make it to the dog beach...poor things are bored out of their minds. But they are well rested and clean!

Attack of the Giant Tomato



We have been over run by ginourmous produce from the vegetable garden this year. Mostly cause we forget about it and don't go picking nearly often enough, but also because along with giant veggies comes giant mosquito's. They swarm. I'm just a giant welt, waiting for my West Nile due.

If you're local, we likely have plenty to share, so just ask!

Futbol and skateparking...

Colin has been hitting the YMCA summer camp all season long. He joined the runners club in the mornings and runs a mile with all the other munchkins. He's gone disc golfing with dad, and he's kept up with futbol, sorta, and also had a round at the skatepark doing a specialty camp with the Y. He even came home sufficiently band-aided and scraped up a few times too...Cool!

Caitlin, Caitlin, Caitlin...

Busy as always, Caitlin has been scarce this summer. Things kicked off right away with Band Camp. Yup, 1pm-9pm every week day, with the first session culminating in the nice and toasty July 4th parade.


This was followed by the musical production of The Sound of Music. Caitlin had a few parts - that of countess-type person, as well as a nun, and if I recall, one of the townspeople.



Here's a short video of Caitlin - the girls got some pipes, she's the loud one!
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Happy Fun Night...with Sharp things...

Grandpa Bob was in town for happy fun night, and we though it would be a good idea to give the children carving tools and we could all carve some soap! (Don't worry grandmothers...we gave the kids leather gloves to protect their non-carving hand).


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So if you come in for a visit, now all the soap figurines are in the guest bath, lined up in the shower like a little soap shrine. Good times!

VACATION!

Yup, first "real" vacation since going to Banff 4 years ago. We went to Door County Wisconsin, 'cause apparently, if you live in the Midwest it's some sort of requirement. It's like going to the Hamptons for you east coast folk...only, with cows.

Of course, the vacation rain curse was in full effect...BUT the locals were thankful, as they'd been in a drought for quite some time. Really people, I just go about bringing my wonderful-ness to the world. Right.

We stayed in a sleepy little town in an old Bed & Breakfast. Went art shopping one rainy day, met a lovely old German guy that sold musical instruments and his wife, who sold native plants. Bought some art too. Went kayaking in the foggy mist, biking in the rain, wandering aimlessly about. Saw giant gnomes. Ya know, Wisconsin stuff.

Here's a few photos - there's sound.


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The Results of Last Month's Poll are in and the Answer is...

VERN! The Plant will hereafter be known as Vern. He is growing new "mouths" every week and quite frankly I'm surprised he hasn't eaten one of the children. We have found out that his food of preference is an inchworm, and Vern most certainly does NOT like box elder bugs (they somehow corrode his leaf mouths...wacky.)

Vote in this months poll (check the side bar).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

No new blog posts in all this time, surely this will be good...

And you will soon find yourselves vastly disappointed. Alas, I have nary an excuse to explain our absence. We have not been wandering about, nor solving cold fusion. We have not skipped nor run willy nilly. We simply, have not been doing anything remotely interesting whatsoever. Consequently, the blog has been neglected. For you sorry folk that expect more from us, I offer you my regrets, as well as this wee attempt at an update. Most of it will be elaborated upon to such a point of exaggeration, it will only faintly resemble the truth...

Year of the Yard

Year of the Yard
(click here to be directed to a lovely video. No, seriously, go look, cause I spent a fair bit of time making the damn thing only to find out at the end that I couldn't imbed it here.)

Tis the season of home improvements. I have previously discussed my disdain for lawn, or at least what passes by as lawn, as our greenish patch of suburbia is mostly weeds. We've been digging up the property, 300 square feet at a time. At this rate, we'll be done in 2035.

Some of you may be aware of Chris's overwhelming sense of joy when he's given the opportunity to dig more holes in the back yard. He really loves it so. This year has been declared, "Year of the backyard". Very exciting, eh? You can find Chris weeping in a corner of the basement at the dawn of each weekend day.

But the fruit of our labor (get it?, fruit?) is beginning to show. The garden is in, and we've even gone so far as to plant the green beans outside the garden, on the property line fence. Although, it has just now occurred to me that in his contempt, Chris may have actually mown them...at any rate, next year will most likely bring a new expansion to the garden (ie, less grass to mow).


We've also installed a shade garden in a previously shady muddy area; complete with dog path and a bird feeder. I thought a path would keep the dogs out of the newly planted shrubbery...yea, right. Not a chance.

Has anyone seen Caitlin?

Last I recall, we also had a girl child. I think we referred to her as Caitlin, but it's been so long since we've seen her, I could be mistaken.If she's not at school, she's at band. If she's not at band, she's at choir. If she's not at choir, she's at a friend's house working on a play. If she's not at a friend's house working on a play, she's in her room doing homework. If she's not in her room doing homework, she's at rehearsal with The Kings Players for Sound of Music. If she's not at rehearsal for the Sound of Music, she's on her bike, riding to band.

The thought of it makes me tired. I'm going to take a nap.

We have a new introduction...

Colin declared he wanted a Venus Fly Trap. Ok? I'm not sure where he got the idea, but it was important enough for him to keep asking, and to spend his own allowance for it. Now, I'm not sure how much you all know about these carnivorous plants - but they really are quite odd. Apparently, they're native to the Carolina's, and developed their dietary peculiarity out of necessity due to poor soil nutrients. Evolution is a curious thing. Having this little plant has also caused another entertaining side effect: Caitlin is afraid of Venus Fly Traps. Apparently, their little open "mouths" really freak her out. Cool!


So the bugs, thankfully, haven't really found their way to the kitchen windowsill. So I sent The
Boy out bug hunting today, to feed his plant. Outwitted numerous times by the creepy crawlies, he finally squooshed an ant just enough to put it in an awaiting open mouth. The Plant closed right up, and began it's 10 day digestion of said insect. So we left The Plant outside for a bit, and lo and behold, most of it's mouths are now happily absorbing a plethora of unfortunate critters.

So The Plant needs a name - see the side poll and vote!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snowboarding!


Winter Sports in the Midwest

It seems appropriate, does it not, that I left the mountains of Colorado to take up snowboarding in the Midwest? Did you know...it's flat here?

We have started off the new year with more flat land adventures: We decided to go snowboarding and kidnapped our friends Scott & Heidi to come along with us to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin one crispy weekend. Scott and Heidi were new to the board, and this was Chris's second outing. Now he's hooked. We'll be planning our Banff snowboard heli-tours trip any day now.

The video, of course, has music.
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