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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Indian Bounty Park

Yesterday we visited a great park. One that we had never been to before. But I’ve been wanted to check it out for a while. DSC_0403 DSC_0407 DSC_0415

It’s got an old school playground reminiscent of our local stomping grounds, Oz Park.

But unlike Oz, it has a lagoon with ducks, orange coy and lots and lots of turtles.

Fish and Turtle spotting

Fish and Turtle spotting

And a second playground, a Nature Play Center.DSC_0430 DSC_0431 DSC_0433

DSC_0434There are lots of wide open paths and green spaces for biking, picnicking or tree climbing.DSC_0421 DSC_0436

There is also a spray feature, but it’s not on yet.

And most importantly, they have public bathrooms!

Definitely worth the drive to see this park. Indian Boundary Park, 2500 W Lunt Ave.

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End of the Soccer Season

Yesterday was the last game of the season for coach Adam and his favorite player, Jack.DSC_0389

He celebrated with his team by treating them to a pizza party.

Naughty spectators tuck into the pizza before the party starts.

Naughty spectators tuck into the pizza before the party starts.

He also handed out trophies to all the players, spending a little time telling them how they made the team special and helped lead them to victory.Version 2

The final score for the season was 11 wins, 2 losses, and 2 ties. Adam was lucky to have a bunch of great players, and they were lucky to have such a thoughtful, experienced coach. Great job Team Phoenix!

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Bar Mitzvah in Boulder

Last weekend Adam and I spent a glorious weekend away, thanks to an invite from Adam’s high school friend, Andy.

His eldest son was becoming a Bar Mitzvah. In Boulder, CO.

For the second time this year, I leaned on my family to help us out with the kids. This time, my father and aunt came to the rescue.

Sam and Aaron snuggle up to Auntie Doris.

Sam and Aaron snuggle up to Auntie Doris.

Dad can entertain the kids with anything!

Dad can entertain the kids with anything!

Learning to cut with scissors while we are away.

Learning to cut with scissors while we are away.

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Grandpa puts up with all kinds of abuse while we are away.

And while Auntie Doris and Grandpa were busy entertaining the kids, wiping butts, breaking up fights, driving to kids activities, foraging for food and doing loads and loads of laundry, we were doing this…

Saturday afternoon hike with Holly (my high school friend and college roommate) and her husband Jose.

Saturday afternoon hike at the Flatirons with Holly (my high school friend and college roommate) and her husband Jose.

Bar Mitzvah celebration with Adam's high school buddies Andy, Jamie and Brian.

Bar Mitzvah celebration with Adam’s high school buddies Andy, Jamie and Brian.

We are so old it we can't even get it together for the first shot!

We are so old it we can’t even get it together for the first shot!

The day after the Bar Mitzvah Adam and I went to brunch at Andy’s house, then did a 3 hour hike, then drove to town for lunch, then went back to the hotel to change, had afternoon drinks and apps at a nearby restaurant, then went to see a long movie. We got home exhausted. It was 9pm. We couldn’t believe how much fun you could fit into a day when you didn’t have to cater to your kids needs!

Hiking Mount Sanitas

Hiking Mount Sanitas

Among Andy’s many accomplishments that I saw this weekend (plastic surgeon, devoted father and husband, fluent Hebrew reader), he also treated us to a gift bag of locally made products, including his own product, Good Day Chocolate. They are sold in Whole Foods or online, and they are super yummy and truly have the effect they advertise on the front.

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Mother’s Day 2016

This will be my last year as a mother of kids in their single digits. By next year Jack will be 10. Every year he gets older. It makes me wonder when the Mother’s Day activities will change.

This year, I started the morning with cards and well wishes from the kids and Adam. The kids bought me some reflexology treatments and Adam got me a gift card to my favorite clothing shop – BCBG.DSC_0364

Then he went out and got lox and bagels for the family.

tapperAfterwards Jack and I headed over to the Temple for Hebrew School. Yes, I also go to Hebrew School. Going each week is such a treat it’s like having a mom treat every week. We sit around having adult conversation and contemplate the meaning of Torah translations. Having an intellectual pursuit is like itching an ancient scratch I forgot I had. The only part of my brain I exercise as a mom is the part whatever nervous waitresses who are constantly in the weeds use. I wake up every morning in a panic about how far behind I am then frantically try to do a million mindless tasks that all had to be done yesterday all while being interrupted by four kids with more urgent needs that need to be address instantly. I’m Tapper right before all the beer bottles start falling off the tables and the angry customers storm him.

I got a quick run in after my class and before I had to pick Jack up. That was a nice treat too.

Adam watched the other kids during all that and when I got back we switched. He went out for a run.  (He has started training for the Marathon again.)

I got the bubble blower out and all the kids went crazy. I love that Jack still finds it just as fun as the twins do. DSC_0377

Later I took the older boys to the park while Adam stayed back with Ben. Unfortunately it was too hard to him to join us. But it was a glorious afternoon for the other kids and I so enjoyed watching them make up their own silly games and frolic together in the budding weather.

Oz Park Selfie

Oz Park Selfie

Adam managed to convince Ben to meet us later for dinner. Food is a much more powerful motivator for Ben then playing in the park!

I was treated to dinner at our favorite Chinese/Sushi/Thai place. I still can’t get used to the fact that they combine all the Asian countries together as one in Chicago. That would be like going out to a Spanish/French/Italian Restaurant in China! Still it didn’t stop me from enjoying my Shanghainese dumplings alongside a plate of Sashimi and Lycheetini.IMG_3823 (1)

It was another successful Mother’s Day. As much as these kids can drive me nuts at times, I was very grateful to be spending the day with them.

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Happy 4th Birthday Twins!

Ah the mistakes I made the first two times I became a mom. The effort I put together for the older boys for their birthday, none of it that they remember. If I could write a letter to my younger mom self it would be this: kids don’t have any long term memory before the age of five. So if you can do the very basic necessities of keeping them safe, fed, and loved with ample sleep and somewhat clean you’ve done enough.

Why kill yourself and set future unrealistic expectations when you don’t have to? My god the hoopla we made for Jack’s 4th birthday! Build slowly. And with the twins, that is what we are doing.

Reminding them often that it’s their birthday at this age is enough for them to feel special. In fact, I think they feel special without any reminding. I think this because Sam woke up and put his costume king crown and and told us he was the king. I mean, what is more special than that?

Still, we did our best to make it special at every moment of the day…

We started with breakfast pancakes. Last time I made a carb/sugar bomb pancake breakfast the kids all said they hated it so I didn’t do that again. This time, multigrain pancakes with mini chocolate chips, topped with whipped cream, melted nutella, more mini chocolate chips and sprinkles.

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Sam, AKA the king, blew the candles out right away. Aaron huffed and puffed until finally I had to ‘help him’. But everyone loved the pancakes, Jack had 2 helpings.

Every hour I was sure to do something new, even if it was just blowing up $4 huge balloons with rubber bands that bounce on their hands. They were so happy with such simple entertainment. I loved them so much for that.

Adam had a meeting in the suburbs so we packed up and headed out with him. He dropped us at the Morton Arboretum and we hung out while he worked.

We were so lucky to have the warmest, sunniest day of the week for the twins birthday.

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We also found all the frogs in their new Ribbit! The Exhibit.

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Next we headed to the bakery to buy birthday cupcakes for dessert.DSC_0348

And since we were there, we got them an afternoon treat as well.DSC_0349

When we got home our lovely sitter, Camila, knocked on the door bearing presents that only someone who knows the twins like the back of her hand could chose for them.

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Soon after the older boys came home from school and after a good play with their new toys, we headed out to a special dinner for the twins at the Burger Bar. They ordered huge milkshakes that they barely touched and the server brought a special bowl of ice cream with 2 candles for them.

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By the time we got home we were exhausted and over sugared. I asked the twins and they agreed to save the cupcakes for another night. And since Camila came by, we didn’t bother to open their presents that their family members got them. I guess we’ll just have to celebrate again tomorrow…

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Spring has Sprung

When I lived in Florida, I never understood the word seasons. In Florida there are only two seasons, hot and hotter. Every day is green, everyday the sun warms your skin like a kiss from above. Every day is a uniform of flip flops and bare arms.

Growing up I wondered why they used pumpkins to decorate during Halloween. I had never seen a pumpkin patch until I moved to the midwest. Maybe they had them in Florida somewhere, but I’m sure if they did, they are on a completely different time schedule. The only orange fruit I ever saw growing with any regularity were orange trees. Rows and rows of them wafting their strong, sweet scent through the air conditioning vents of our car as it sped by on the highway.

I was sure the snow I saw on the “Frosty the Snowman” special that aired every December was a consistency similar to cotton candy. I was sorely disappointed when, at the age of 12, I saw snow for the first time. I flopped myself down and immediately put some in my mouth. I was shocked and disgusted by it’s cold, bland taste.

It wasn’t until I moved to Chicago that I realized the brilliance of summer vacation. Summer vacation in Florida is the worst time of year to be out and about. It didn’t stop us from slathering our bodies in baby oil and iodine and baking our bodies crisp in the unrelenting sun every single day of the summer, though. Back then SPF 8 was for sissies. We wore socks to keep our feet from burning on the scorching summer sand. We ducked in for some air-conditioning at the local surf shop when it got too hot. And we periodically dipped ourself in the warm, salty water to cool down.

But now that I live here, seasons make sense. Every year I marvel at how much change happens here. Leaves and flowers start growing out of the barrenness, everything thawing out and slowly turning vibrant colors, then days of endless sun, revealing your pasty white legs, burning your pasty white legs, tanning those legs again and finally getting a nice healthy color on them just in time to cover the tan you worked so hard for with pants to combat the cold. Leaves and flowers dying, cold seeping into every crevasse of your being, everything going white, including your legs. Then the long, harsh cold and dark of winter follow.

Finally the leaves start to grow again. The renewal is probably the most exciting part of the year. It feels like the moment the movie “The Wizard of Oz” changes from black and white to color. The anticipation of wonderful weather, of another fun filled, whimsical summer lays almost at your finger tips.

I felt this today for the first time when we visited the Chicago Botanical Gardens.

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Our recent observations from our St Louis trip made us realize that wide open spaces are the best places to take out kids. Lots of room to run without getting lost is our new number one factor in picking a destination these days.

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Even the big ‘kid’ in our family needs space to run around.

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Also lots of things to do and see! It was also nice to slow down and notice nature around you.

Two male Mallards fighting over a female. Probably something our own boys will experience with each other one day...

Two male Mallards fighting over a female. Probably something our own boys will experience with each other one day…

Viewing the Japanese Gardens leads to talk about Bonsai Plants.

Viewing the Japanese Gardens leads to talk about Bonsai Plants.

Feeling and Smelling leaves and trees in the sensory garden.

Feeling and Smelling leaves and trees in the sensory garden.

It’s a great activity for kids of all ages, and something that many different age groups can enjoy together. Definitely a destination we will visit many more times in these increasingly warm coming months.

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