Jack’s Summer Starts

We wasted no time getting Jack’s summer underway.

The day after school ended we packed the car with a picnic, picked up a few extra kids, and headed out to the Morton Arboretum.

The boys spent many hours running around full speed. First at the natural playground playing tag, then running the loop around the rope bridge and back over and over and over again.IMG_6770

They also ran around for a while inside the maze. Getting lost and playing some game where you have to find each other.IMG_6739

And running to see the Origami exhibit. IMG_6799

There was other random boys play. Stuff that, growing up in an all girls family, is completely foreign to me…IMG_6808

It was a super fun day and I thought when I brought them back to my house for a hour they would quietly trade pokeman cards but Ben arrived home from school and got them into a game of ‘Monster’ and they were up and running again for another hour.

The vision I had of what it would be like to be a mom is quite different from the reality I live today. But seeing the absolute joy on their faces when you take them somewhere that they can run, play, and laugh is one of those times where fantasy meets reality.

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Adam’s 48th Birthday

After such an eventful Father’s Day, Adam’s birthday came a short two days later.

Unlike father’s day, which landed on a Sunday, this birthday was Tuesday. There was work and school, so unfortunately for Adam there was less time to celebrate.

We started the morning better than father’s day. Adam actually got to sleep in.

Then we opened presents and cards.DSC_0058

Here they are laughing about the card they gave him. It had a joke about butts, which still seems to be the joke of choice around here. Every day. All. Day. Long.

Adam got new clothes from us. He is the kind of person that would spend money on everyone in the family but himself, so he is easy to shop for.

Both my and his family showered him with more gift cards and money.

Later that evening our lovely sitter came by and Adam and I went out for a drink, some food and a movie – Wonder Woman. (You see, in typical form, we went to see the movie I wanted to see on his birthday!!!)

Happy 48th Adam! May all your birthday wishes come true!

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Father’s Day 2017

I wish I could report on a delightful day filled with fun and loving acts from our kids to their father, but instead dear readers, I’m going to report the truth. No ‘fake booking’ today.

Adam planned a super day, mostly centered around what would make the kids most happy.

First Adam woke up to Ben screaming at the top of his lungs at 5:58 in the morning on the stairwell.

So much for Adam’s Father’s Day lay in. Or anyone else in the houses for that matter.

So, we opened presents instead.DSC_0995

The boys made/bought cards and we framed these three photos in one frame for him.DSC_0906 DSC_0869 DSC_0857

Yes, it’s that embarrassing 70s photo. The one where your mom makes you all wear the same shirt and take pictures. I figure they can have a laugh together over this photo montage when I’m long gone.

Next we headed out to the suburbs for breakfast at Walker Brother’s Pancake House.

Jack sweetly lets Sam win tic-tac-toe

Jack sweetly lets Sam win tic-tac-toe

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The kids fought most of breakfast. Ben complained Aaron was kicking him. At one point Ben was under the table, extremely upset that he didn’t get a red crayon. Then he was upset he didn’t get to order the adult size pancakes.

Next we headed over to Deerfield’s Bakery so Ben could pick out his cake for his birthday.

Topper for Ben's cake

Topper for Ben’s cake

Adam very nicely treated them to a box of butter cookies. In return, the kids were so unruly, running around the bakery – in stark contrast from every other kid in the place. We got so many dirty looks we finally made them wait in the car while Adam finished the order.

Then we headed to the Chicago Botanical Gardens so our rambunctious boys could burn some of their apparent pent up energy.DSC_0007

We decided we would ask them to take a ‘smallest to tallest’ picture. It is Adam’s hope to do this every time one of the kids grow bigger than me until I’m the last one in the line up. The first one was a failed attempt with Sam fighting Aaron for position and Ben on the floor crying.

Here is how the second attempt went…DSC_0002

Adam bought them tickets to see the model trains. It was Aaron’s pick (Adam let them all pick a place to visit in the gardens). Aaron cried and whined when it wasn’t open yet and he didn’t get to go first.

DSC_0054I wanted them all to see the Hollywood sign because this summer we are planning a visit to LA to see the cousins.DSC_0055

Only three out of four. Ben was on the other side of the pond having a breakdown. Adam was holding him tight while he wailed, kicked and screamed. More parents gawked and we got more dirty looks.

Then over to the maze. It was Jack’s pick. Adam had them run laps. He requested they do it together and not compete. For once just do something as a group! Don’t compete and make each other cry all the time!

Jack isn’t running because he couldn’t stop from running ahead and making the others cry, so he was told to sit out.DSC_0029

Good day so far, eh?

Next Adam took the boys to see Cars 3. It was a super cute movie with great life lessons that went over all the kids heads. I know this because we asked them about it later.IMG_6696

Aaron cried through most of the previews, unable to wait patiently for the movie to start. Then when the projection stopped unexpectedly Ben almost had a fit on the floor.

Finally we went home. Aaron continued to misbehave and at one point he said he wanted new parents. Ouch.

Adam got his haircut, then took Jack to the park to throw the ball around.

I felt pretty bad for Adam that the kids were so poorly behaved. Even sadder that it was kind of like a normal day and perhaps we, as parents, were stupid for mistakenly hoping that things could be different for even one day.

Perhaps next year Adam will just take the time for himself like I’ve learn to do! Or maybe this documentation will make next year’s father’s day better by comparison.

Happy? Father’s Day, Adam.

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The Rest of Ben’s Week Off

We finished off Ben’s week off with some activity every day.

I’m not sure if it’s the time outside, exhausting him every day, or some other of the myriad of things we are trying on him right now, like a medical grade probiotic and a daily dose of broccoli sprouts (based on the article my sister sent me), but for the first time about 6 months, Ben has slept through the night without waking us up for 4 days in a row. Let’s pray it continues.

As for the tiring activities, we did many things, most requested by Ben.

Like feeding the ducks.IMG_6645

Later that day we went to the waterpark nearby.IMG_6659

Or crashing Jack’s field trip to the zoo.DSC_0971

DSC_0964We also checked out the new Pritzker natural playground at the zoo.DSC_0961 DSC_0959 DSC_0968

And treated ourselves to cotton candy!DSC_0973

Thursday Ben went to lunch at Adam’s office. Later we checked out Adam’s park, the waterpark was finally open for the summer.

Chasing our sitter, Camila, around the park.

Chasing our sitter, Camila, around the park.

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Friday we didn’t have the car so we walked all the way to Jack’s school.

In fact, most days Ben picked Jack up after school and sometimes we played for a bit in the playground after afterschool.IMG_6681

I think he had a good week. Each day we settled into each other more and each day it gelled a bit better.

Ben is back to school on Monday. Jack’s last day of school is Tuesday…

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First Beach Day 2017

Yesterday was a sunny 91° in Chicago and so we did the only thing we could do on a day like that – head to the beach! DSC_0914

Ben invited a few of his school buddies and we made a day of it. It was hot, but the water was a chilly 64°. Anytime we felt overheated we easily dipped in to the water and regulated ourselves.DSC_0932 DSC_0943

Sam 'cooling down' this nice woman...

Sam ‘cooling down’ this nice woman…

It was an odd experience to be burning up on the top half of your body and have your toes cramping from cold all at the same time!

Ice Cream!

Ice Cream!

Can’t wait until Jack gets out of school to do the same with him.

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Soccer Fest 2017

After last year’s soccer fest, where Coach Adam and Jack’s team fought their way from the bottom of the line up to the unlikely 3rd place winners – in an overtime sudden death shoot out no less, I didn’t think anything could ever top it.

Well, never say never.

This year Jack’s team won the max points they could on the first day – 14 points for winning both games and having both of them be shut outs (the other team did not score).

This seeded them in medal position no matter they did the next day.

As it turns out, the second and third place teams played each other for their third game, knocking one of the two top teams out before the final. Jack’s team ended up with a forfeit for their third game as the other team didn’t have enough players, which gave them another 5 points.

Which meant Jack’s team ended up in the final as one of the top two teams. It was first or second place!

And how did it end? Well, they tied 1-1 and ended up in ANOTHER sudden death overtime. The first 5 players shot and it was STILL tied!

Jack’s team won on the 6th kick.IMG_2371 IMG_2375

FIRST PLACE!!!

I couldn’t possibly eat my words if I say again this year that nothing can beat this year’s excitement, right?

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Merrimac Park

Ben is off from school right now. He goes to school 11 months a year so when he has time off, we try very hard to ensure his time away from school is everything he wants it to be.

His first request was to check out a new park. Luckily, with Mayor Emanuel’s Chicago Plays! initiative, there are boatloads of new playgrounds to choose from.DSC_0797

I stumbled upon this gem in one of my many google searches and Friday morning we packed up and headed out to see it.

Merrimac Park was redone 2 years ago but it’s so far away from us it was completely off my radar.

This park has a field house with bathrooms. Clean bathrooms! It made the visit so much more civilized!DSC_0819

They had interesting climbing structures that I’ve never seen before.DSC_0801DSC_0795 DSC_0792

And a water feature. DSC_0816

Two tables for eating or snacking. DSC_0821Or, if you prefer, lots of green open space to picnic, play ball or just run free in. The open space included 2 baseball diamonds and a track that looped the whole thing – perfect for safe biking. DSC_0818

The best part of the park for me was the diversity of the people. I heard Serbian, Spanish, and Arabic. An African American father was biking the path with his son. And everyone was so incredibly nice to each other. After traveling and living abroad, I so appreciate how unique America is. It truly is the great melting pot.

The field house is open 9am-9pm Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm Saturday and closed on Sunday.

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Origami in the Garden

We felt like a bunch of bears coming out of hibernation this weekend.

Memorial day is always a magical weekend for Chicago. It is the first official day summer fun. Beach and pool open for the summer. Waterparks and splash pads all around Chicago are running at full blast. The sun once again feels warm against your skin and the perfect temperatures, combined with longer days, puts the whole city in a good mood.

This weekend we enjoyed many hours outside enjoying the weather. This afternoon we swam at the pool. Sam and Aaron have stopped using their flotation devices but about 1 and 1/2 of them still can’t swim so it’s all hands on deck at the swimming pool right now. No free time for photos!

Yesterday we went to the Morton Arboretum to check out the new exhibit, Origami in the Garden.DSC_0685 DSC_0736 DSC_0740

Besides checking out the exhibit, we cruised around to all the usual spots we like to frequent when we go.

Tadpole & Frog Pond

Tadpole & Frog Pond

Every time we visit, Aaron is obsessed with these rocks.

Every time we visit, Aaron is obsessed with these rocks.

Aaron manages to get everyone else to carry them for him.

Aaron manages to get everyone else to carry them for him.

The Creek

The Creek, coming up with a plan for a dam.

Ben was a bit overwhelmed by the creek.

Ben was a bit overwhelmed by the creek. Adam calmed him down.

The Rope Bridge

The Rope Bridge

The natural playground

The natural playground

It was a glorious weekend and we are so looking forward to all the summer fun ahead of us.

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Mom Saves the Day (or week)

Jack’s pick up time and Ben’s bus arrival land at the same time every day for me. Which means every single afternoon I have to be in two places at once.

Usually I combat this with a combination of helpers, but mostly I lean on our dear sitter Camila.

This week Camila was out of town. So I called my mother to come help for the week.

I picked Mom up at the airport with my two firemen escorts.

I picked Mom up at the airport with my two firemen escorts.

It strikes me as odd that I’m in my forties and still lean on my parents so much for help, both physically and emotionally, but I thank my lucky stars every day that I have the parents I have. Both of them rush to help and selfishly give of themselves whenever I ask.

My mom quickly booked the flights, despite the extra expense of traveling on a holiday weekend.

And unlike the half days, 3 days a week that I have Camila, when Mom comes I have help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week!

Every morning she pushed me out the door to take Adam to work, and every evening she stayed home while Adam and I caroused Chicago.

During the day I ran errands kid free while she folded clothes and washed copious amounts of dishes. And cleaned our bathrooms. Like twice a day. Which is what should be standard for four boys with bad aim, but I have been below standard on many things since all these kids arrived.

She even made Jack’s favorite dessert for him – cheesecake. IMG_6522

And reorganized my linen closet!IMG_6558

And best of all, she enjoyed the kids. She was playful with each and every one of them.

Bauler Park

Bauler Park

Children's Museum

Children’s Museum

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We managed a belated Mother’s Day brunch out at Stella Barra. Adults are only $18 and kids EAT FREE. (Thanks Pam for the tip!) IMG_6530

The kids seemed so happy to go!IMG_6534

But after they scarfed down a few ‘make your own’ pancakes, they were much happier.

Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream

Dropping her at the airport today was a very sad moment for me, but hopefully we will see each other again soon.

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Mother’s Day 2017

Today I celebrated 10 years of motherhood.

Ten years. That’s 3650 days. It’s 87,600 hours! In Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” book he states that practicing anything for 10,000 hours makes you an expert. So, by these numbers I should be an expert by now. Hmmm. I think I may have just disproved his theory.

Adam always makes me feel like I’m doing a wonderful job as a parent but it’s good for the kids to be reminded that it’s a choice I make everyday, to get up over and over again and try not to screw them up too much. That’s something they should appreciate and not take for granted!

Plus it’s always fun to celebrate!

First Adam managed to keep the kids quiet until a ‘slept in’ until 6:30am. They were all up at 5am. Again.

Then this morning I was greeted with many cards full of money and gift certificates to my favorite haunts.

Afterwards I was whisked off to one of our favorite breakfast places (not just because it’s one of the few places open at 7am, either!), Meli Cafe.

IMG_6452The kids and I are starting role reversal. They ordered fancy crepes while I got boring oatmeal.IMG_6457

As you can see, Aaron had the chocolate pancakes.

After breakfast it was time to burn off some energy at Montgomery Ward Park.

Adam, my 5th kid...

Adam, my 5th kid…

They have a huge board walk along the water that goes from Chicago Ave to Division that’s nice to walk.

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Next we headed home for some down time, then lunch.

We got a surprise visit from our friend’s the Cameron’s who were brunching at a nearby restaurant.

Which ended up in a shopping trip for the women. Pam helped me pick out some much needed swim wear. I swear this woman has missed her calling as a professional shopper. Everything thing I bought was handpicked with her keen eye.

Pam and I also indulged in some watermelon sangrias at the rooftop of ZED 451. IMG_6501

Later I got home to find the kids bathed and fed, the kitchen clean and the laundry done.

It was heaven.

Thank you all for making my day very special!

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