Zoom Room

This week I renewed my membership at the Chicago Children’s Museum.

I couldn’t resist after I heard they had a new Zoom Room.

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It was a really cool room. We got there right when it opened to the members only and stayed until it got too crowded for Ben.

In fact the entire museum, as well as all of Navy Pier, was pretty crowded. I was worried how Ben would handle this, along with the fact that some of the room are too young for some of my kids and too old for others.

But it worked out with the help of our sitter, Camila. IMG_4700

We also did a lot of things that were guaranteed not to over crowd, like the “Petite Chef” room where they teach you to cook and let you eat the food afterwards.IMG_4715

We made hummus boats and everyone traded what they didn’t like with the other kids for a healthy morning snack.IMG_4720

We also got tickets to the Art Studio, where we created our own stuffed animals. IMG_4742 IMG_4747

Besides limited seating events, we kept to the less crowded areas, like the main floor upstairs. IMG_4728

Or the Skyline exhibit.IMG_4725

And spent a surprisingly long amount of time in the toy store!IMG_4735

Afterwards I asked the front desk if they always booked this many groups (there were 5 today) and she said they could add me to an email that lists how many groups would be there each day so I could plan accordingly. Thought I’d share that tip in case any of you readers have the same concerns as me…

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Last Day of School for Ben

Yesterday we celebrated the end of Ben’s long (11 month!) school year with the staff and other families at Ben’s school.

As usual, Ben’s school put on an amazing party. There was pizza, brownies, and lemonade. (I think Ben had 10 cups!)

Also they hired a crew to help facilitate games for the kids.Version 2 Version 2

The kids remembered wrapping me as a mummy last year, and this year they were happy to see the tradition continue.IMG_1100

Afterwards, ‘mummy’ chased them around.IMG_4650

Welcome to summer, Ben!

One month with 4 kids is filling me with excitement and fear all at the same time…

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Ben’s 7th Birthday Party

Today we celebrated Ben’s 7th birthday with a movie themed party.

At first we were planning a Star Wars theme, including showing the first movie of the series but when Ben heard the twins would not be able to view it, he very sweetly switched to the Minions movie. But he still wanted the Star Wars cake.DSC_0841

We held the party at Facets.

In addition to this super cool marquee, they also popped us popcorn for the movie, had an entire theater reserved just for our party, and let us use a private room upstairs after the movie.

We were able to bring anything we wanted to supplement the party and we used the opportunity to bring box movie candy and lots of drinks.DSC_0846 DSC_0849

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Another sign at the entrance of the theater.

Minions was a huge success, and having a private theater where the kids could talk without being shushed was key.DSC_0860

Afterwards we headed upstairs to the party room for lunch and cake.DSC_0864 DSC_0869 DSC_0873

They didn’t rush us out. Sometimes these parties are very tightly scheduled and I really appreciated their relaxed attitude. DSC_0875

Opening all his presents.DSC_0878

Facets also gave us free tickets to their film festival, which we added to these movie themed, popcorn goodie bags. (missing blow up punch balls)

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Ben Turns 7

We affectionately call Ben our unluckiest, lucky child and today, on his seventh birthday, he proved the title fit the boy.

We started the day letting him skip school and play hookie with the rest of his family.

Breakfast was a feast of artisanal donuts from Glazed and Infused.DSC_0663 DSC_0664

Next it was time to open the presents from his brothers. Puzzles and a 5 minute stories Star Wars storybook.

DSC_0667Afterwards, we packed up and headed over to the Hidden Creek Aqua Park for a day of fun in the sun. For the seventh year in a row, the date of Ben’s birth had perfect weather.

We spent many hours cavorting in the water.

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We were lucky to have so many grandparents with us to help celebrate!DSC_0726

We also spent an hour in between refueling.DSC_0732

When we got back in the pool, Ben got stung by a bee behind his neck.

But it was time to go anyway. We made it home in time to shower all the kids and herded them back into the car for another birthday treat of Ben’s choosing. He asked for “The sparkling dessert at Meli Cafe.”

In Ben’s speak, that is the Volcano dessert at Rainforest Cafe.

The kids checked out all the animals around the room. It was so nice to be in a restaurant that didn’t expect them to sit in their seats, restlessly waiting for their food. Plenty of moving animals to entertain them.DSC_0782

When Ben put on his special birthday hat he said, “I wish I could superglue this hat to my head!”DSC_0778

And moving animals were not the only thing. We were also visited by the balloon man who seemed to be able to make just about anything. Jack got a shark, Ben got a red bunny holding a balloon that said, “Happy Birthday” on it, Sam got a light saber and Aaron got a blue Alien with a shooter.DSC_0824

Rainforest Cafe’s red eyed tree frog, Cha-Cha also made sure Ben’s day was special.
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Finally we got Ben’s Volcano Cake, a treat big enough to feed all seven of us! Ben ate so much dinner and dessert he actually threw up afterwards.DSC_0804

When he recovered, he turned to Adam with his sunburned face and said with a smile, “This was the craziest birthday ever! I got stung by a bee AND I threw up!”

The most unlucky, lucky kid ever.

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Styx

Don’t ask why, but last night we found ourselves traveling across two state lines and one time zone to see the band Styx.

Before going to the show, my expectations of seeing an 70s/80s rock band were to sing a few songs from a long forgotten past. IMG_4350

But I didn’t realize how much those songs would evoke memories of that forgotten past. I happy held up my modern day lighter (iPhone flashlight) and swayed along with the crowd, remembering the good old days.

The days of no responsibility, or piling in cars and riding around town chasing the next party, blasting music on our car radios or from our home made mixed cassette tapes.

Music blaring out of our boom boxes while we sat baking in the summer sun.

Or the under 21 bar we used to frequent, “Weekends” where we could wander around in circles, stopping only to break out our running man or wave moves on the dance floor.

It was good old fashioned nostalgia, blaring boldly from a bright, colorful stage filled with very talented musicians.

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Tooth Fairy Fun

Last weekend Jack had his tooth extracted. His baby tooth was still firmly entrenched while the adult tooth brazenly grew over it.

It was super scary for him to go through. And it was even tougher for Adam to watch him go through it.

It was an event worthy of a great tooth fairy visit.

As soccer has been the theme of the month, the tooth fairy continued the tradition, with a soccer themed hunt.DSC_0581 DSC_0582

As the level of reading improves, the scavenger hunts get more and more wordy.DSC_0595

Jack was like the pied piper, picking up more kids with each clue.DSC_0596 DSC_0597

Finally Jack found the money. The tooth fairy tipped extra big for this difficult little tooth!

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Adam’s 47th Birthday

Adam’s birthday landed on a Monday this year. This meant the hours of celebration were limited by an annoying thing called work. But we made up for it by celebrating two nights.

On his actual birthday, Adam made a plan for us to run 10 miles. This time we ran south. I never run this way and it was incredible to see the many different things our city has to offer.IMG_4228

Beautiful view of the skyline, the summertime vibe at North Avenue beach, the men on benches ogling bodies as if it were a sport. We passed the triathletes training in wetsuits on Oak Street Beach, and shortly after the group of youths smoking skunky pot. Adam showed me where the Chicago Yacht Club was, on a boat permanently anchored in the harbor.

IMG_4232Finally we reached our turn point, Buckingham Fountain. After we snapped a picture Adam pointed up and behind the fountain and said, “There is where we are going for drinks tonight.”

We ran back home, showered and dressed and headed right back to where we were an hour ago, this time stopping at Cindy’s Rooftop in the Chicago Athletic Hotel.

IMG_4236Chicago’s rooftop culture is growing and this one is a very welcome addition. After having drinks and a little food we went outside to observe the moon. It was a rare confluence of the summer solstice, a full moon and a Strawberry Moon, the last strawberry moon was observed in 1967 and the next one won’t be until 2062.IMG_4239

From the balcony you can see Grant Park, Millennium Park with it’s Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain and Petrillo Bandshell, Buckingham Fountain, Lake Michigan and so much more. Including a huge strawberry moon!

For Adam’s birthday present I gave him the choice of a new suit or tickets for us to see the Copa America Semi-Final between Chile and Colombia. Guess what he chose?

IMG_4263We arrived at the game just in time for kick off with a very gloomy weather forecast looming in our future.IMG_4260

The first half finished and everyone was evacuated to the lower levels to wait out the extreme weather. Heavy rain, thunderstorms and possible tornados.IMG_4264

We decided to leave, as we didn’t see any chance the weather would let up anytime soon and asking Jack to stay up until midnight seemed like a parenting fail.

Turned out the delay was 2 hours, and the final score was the same as the score when we left.

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Father’s Day 2016

This father’s day marks a once in a lifetime moment for Adam. He is at the halfway point, halfway between the time when his first child was born and when this family unit will break apart and Jack moves away for college. (I’m assuming even if he goes to school somewhere in the area, he will want to ditch us to live on his own!)

First thing in the morning we gave him his presents. Besides the cards, I ordered this gift from Custom Gifts by Anna Brown. They are all pictures taken in the past year.image1

Jack made him these two gifts at school, a rock that says ‘My Dad Rocks’ and a list of 5 things he loves about him. It was so sweet that he liked having him as his soccer coach. I’m pretty sure I would find that embarrassing as a kid.DSC_0551DSC_0550

After that we went about trying to fulfill all of Adam’s Father Day wishes. Here they were:

Breakfast at Walker Brothers in Highland Park. We were lucky to have his mother and husband up from Arizona to help celebrate with us.DSC_0555

A stop at Deerfield Bakery to order Ben’s birthday cake. Bubbie and Bill treated the kids to a cookie while were were there. I was shocked Aaron could still scarf it down after just finishing all his chocolate chip pancakes and two pieces of bacon!DSC_0556DSC_0559

Then over to downtown Glencoe for a romp in Friends Park.DSC_0563DSC_0566

It was super cute with and different enough to make it a special event for the kids. They especially liked the scavenger hunt on one of the play structures.

Next we headed over to Northbrook to see Finding Dory.IMG_4186

Great movie, just as good as the original if not better.

Finally we headed home for some down time. Adam got in a little reading and a nap while I bathed the kids and got dinner going.

At dinner, we celebrated Adam’s birthday a little early (it’s tomorrow) with a request he had for one of his favorite childhood desserts, Haagen Daz Vanilla Ice Cream with berries.DSC_0574

After Dinner Snuggles

After Dinner Snuggles

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Soccer Fest

At the end of soccer season, there is the option to sign up for Soccer Fest.

In previous years, Jack’s team did not participate. But this year Jack’s coach was Adam. And this year’s team had a pretty good track record (11 wins, 2 loses, 2 ties).

So, they AKA Team Phoenix signed on for soccer fest.

It’s a 2 day event, with 4 games. You play twice the first day then twice the second day. The last game you play is based on the record of your previous games.

Yesterday Team Phoenix won their first game with ease, the final score was 3-0. This gave them 7 points (out of 7) towards the tournament rankings. You get 3 points for the win, 1 point for each goal scored up to 3 goals, 1 point for a shut out.

Their second game was played in the middle of the day, in 90º heat. They played really well until the end of the game, leading 1-0.  The other team, who was playing their first game of the day, scored 3 goals in the last 3 minutes of the game. This gave our team another point, for a total of 8 points for the day. (This opposing team ended up taking 1st place in the tournament.)
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Team Pheonix started Sunday in 5th place, 3 points behind the next team, 6 points behind the first place team, and pretty much out of contention for a medal.

The team rallied back in the third game, playing inspiring soccer and winning 5-0. They got another 7 points and moved up to 4th place (tied with the 3rd place team) and entered the medal round.

The final game was played against the area director of AYSO’s own team. When they met before the game, he told Adam that had their 4th place medals for him. Adam replied, “Or third.”

In the final game they scored early against the team that was ranked first at the beginning of the day.

They tied the score and went into sudden death overtime. In sudden death the other team took a 2 goal lead but Team Phoenix came roaring back and beat them scoring 4 straight penalty shots to the other team’s 3, and taking 3rd place in the tournament.

The kids all ran onto the field and jumped on the kid who kicked the winning goal.Version 2

Adam found out later one of his players was picked up to play on the National team.Version 2

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Ben’s Furlough

After his school year ended and before his summer session started, Ben got a week and a day off of school.

We spent a lot of time planning the kinds of things he might want to do with his free time.

Then I went about trying to satisfy his every request, and even throw in a surprise or two. He has a lot less time off than Jack so I really wanted him to feel he got the most out of it.

Last Friday we went to the pool. Even Adam stopped by on his lunch break to give him some extra special attention.IMG_4092

This weekend, as I wrote about earlier, he was able to join Jack and Adam’s soccer team’s for pizza after the their last game of the season, and we took in a new park, Indian Bounty Park.

Then this week we spent a morning in and around the zoo. Ben requested a meal at the Original Pancake House first, then some zoo time, as well as a visit to the Lincoln Park Conservatory to see the hidden dinosaurs.

Pointing the dinosaurs out to Camila, our cherished sitter.

Pointing the dinosaurs out at the Conservatory to Camila, our cherished sitter.

Ben is in heaven - he gets to pet a bunny at the farm at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Ben is in heaven – he gets to pet a bunny at the farm at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Yes, they are all 'mooing'.

Yes, they are all ‘mooing’.

Feeding the cows. o

Feeding the cows.

Petting Goats.

Petting Goats.

We also spent most afternoons playing at Jack’s school playground after picking up Jack. Besides one day, every day was sunny and beautiful.

With his buddy Coach Mac.

With his buddy Coach Mac.

Every time Officer Brown sees Ben he smiles and says, "Ben is my friend 'til the end."

Every time Officer Brown sees Ben he smiles and says, “Ben is my friend ’til the end.”

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On Thursday, the day it was rainy and we were stuck inside, I surprised them with the Zootopia movie and a new iPad. This time I bought two, one for Ben and one for Jack, carefully color coded in their favorite colors so there would be no more fighting about game sharing.

Today was unbearably hot so we decided to spend the afternoon at the beach. DSC_0509 DSC_0513 DSC_0535

Now I get my own week furlough before it’s time to start executing Jack’s summer time requests….

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