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


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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Twins Turn 5

The twins wasted no time sleeping this morning, they were so excited to turn 5 that they were up and in our bedroom by 5:40am.

The celebration for this year started Monday night. We had an early dinner with Grandpa and Auntie Doris before they flew back to Florida at the Rainforest Cafe.DSC_0649 (1)

Besides the special dinner and birthday cake, Adam also treated them to a toy at the shop.DSC_0646

This morning they got an assortment of donuts from FireCakes.DSC_0653

Then it was in the car to drop the older kids at school and off to the Chicago Children’s Museum.IMG_6395 IMG_6398

They have been changing a lot of things around at the museum. They still have the Castle exhibit that the kids love, but they moved the art studio upstairs. IMG_6402

We also visited some of our old favorites like the dinosaur room and the bus room.IMG_6404

Next it was time for MacDonald’s happy meal. Followed by some Garrett’s Popcorn. (It was very hard to be good about eating today!)IMG_6405

They had their swim lesson too. Can you believe it’s only 2pm at this point in the day?!IMG_6407

We picked Jack up from school and came home to open the first of many presents.

This one was something they both asked for. Sam wanted a Yeti and Aaron asked for more Trio Blocks.DSC_0660

I love how they combined the two gifts.

For dinner the twins wanted breakfast. Luckily we live in Chicago where you can get just about any food you want. We ate at Eleven City Diner. And we got yet another cake to celebrate.IMG_6412

Then home for more presents. We opened many cards, some with money in it. We opened gifts Bubbie and Bill sent up with us from our visit. And their big ticket item – their own iPads. DSC_0671

But it doesn’t end there. Many relatives gifts are still streaming in. Jack and Ben are going this weekend to pick out their own gifts to the twins.

So lucky to celebrate for so many days! It’s like they are having a birthday week!

This year was a bittersweet birthday for me. It’s the last year the twins will be at home with me all day. Although I joke about how ready I am to have all the boys in school so I can have more free time, I also know that it’s another stage where we grow apart a little more. Eunice Kennedy Shriver once said having a child is just one long, painful separation that starts at birth. Today I feel it.

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Adults Only…

A few months ago Adam accepted a conference in Las Vegas. He asked if I wanted to join him.

If I say yes, will you buy me tickets to see “O”?

He answered yes to that and more…

My father and aunt generously agreed to watch the kids while Adam and I spend one night together in Vegas. Afterwards, we drove over to see his mother’s place in Arizona.

About an hour after my dad and aunt arrived I put everyone to work.IMG_6291

Dad had the unfortunate job of helping with the twins inoculations.

One day later, I handed over a 7 page instruction manual and flew to Vegas to meet Adam at the Aria.IMG_6304

We had a fabulous dinner at Nobu, then went to see the show I have been wanting to see for over 10 years, “O”. The two drinks at dinner combined with the two hour time difference had both of us tired parents bird pecking in our seats. Ugh, we are old!

Sleeping until you woke up naturally for a week instead of the pitter patter of little footsteps eventually made us feel like normal people again, though.

Huge buffet breakfast at the Aria.

Huge buffet breakfast at the Aria.

After our night out, we packed up and drove 7 hours just outside of Tuscon, AZ to visit Adam’s mom and husband.

Pit stop at the Hoover Dam

Pit stop at the Hoover Dam

They have been living in a retirement community out there for 4 years. Sadly with all the kids, we have not been able to visit them earlier.

We have heard about it for 4 years though. They said how much they liked it, so I was expecting good things, but when I arrived I was blown away.

Playing with Zoe on the patio.

Playing with Zoe on the patio.

I doubt this blog can do it justice. It certainly can’t show the expansive vista they enjoy every single day from their own back yard. Pictures and words can’t give you the feeling of euphoria you experience looking at it while listening to the birds chirp, surrounded by pitch perfect weather.

Adam’s mom told us how many clubs she belonged to, but she didn’t mention the effect it has on a person. How having a group of like minded individuals all living together, all away from their families can effect a person.

It felt very similar to my time in Hong Kong, we called it “the bubble” because we were all in the same age group, without kids, our parents far away. The shared craziness of people willing to leave it all behind and start anew in a foreign place made us all very close very quickly. I still talk to those people and lament for the good old days of Hong Kong. It was a special time in my life, something very rare. Something not everyone in life is lucky enough to have. So I was very surprised to see my in-laws had found their own bubble!

Besides having found many new interests and friends, Adam’s mom has certified her dog as a therapy dog and volunteers with her. She also volunteers at a local school.

But we didn’t see that this visit. This visit we were treated like royal guests.

We stayed in their casita. We were taken to spectacular state parks and for hikes. The dessert landscape was mesmerizing.

Catalina State Park

Catalina State Park


Catalina State Park.

Catalina State Park.

Salino Canyon

Salino Canyon


We hiked from that ridge!

We hiked from that ridge!

And we ate out, at the golf club, a Mexican restaurant , a breakfast diner and more.

The Margarita is as big as my head!

The Margarita is as big as my head!

I even got some laps in one of the 3 pools they have access to in their complex while Adam lifted weights in the adjoining gym. Adam and I managed a run the last morning as well.

Meanwhile, my father and aunt tirelessly held down the fort here in Chicago.

They fed the kids, ran them around to school, swim class, soccer and more. And they took them out to the parks to play. But best of all, they formed a connection with them that will last the rest of their lives.IMG_6342 IMG_6344

I barely bothered to call. I felt completely competent in their abilities!

When we got back they offered to do more, and never once complained about the kids behaviors. Even as an adult, I’m still learning how to live under their grace and ability.

A big thanks to BOTH families! Adam and I are very lucky to have so many wonderful parents in our lives.

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