Adam’s 50th Vacation

Adam decided for his 50th birthday present he wanted to take the kids to Mackinac Island. Since we all know that Adam is larger than life, this quickly turned into a week long drive around Lake Michigan visiting everything along the way.

He started researching hotels. We are hotel point junkies. We have hotel credit cards, rack up points, and get free stays for vacations. Unfortunately most of the northern areas surrounding Lake Michigan don’t have chain hotels. Later, when we finally traveled through the Upper Peninsula, I realized why. It is so sparsely populated, the tourist attractions are so far apart, and the season is so short that most major hotel chains would probably not make enough money to build and maintain a property here.

That’s when we decided to rent an RV. Remember when I mentioned that Adam is larger than life? So you can guess the kind of RV he decided to rent, right?DSC_0666I took a picture of it next to other cars so you could see the boat we were driving. The advertisement online said it ‘sleeps 8 comfortably’.IMG_0865 DSC_0523The kids really enjoyed having a bit more space. There was definitely less fighting. And Sam, who gets carsick, seemed fine in the RV. I loved that we didn’t have to stop a million times to go to the bathroom.

Our first stay was in Door County at Peninsula State Park. There were all kinds of cool things to do in this park that we didn’t have time for, like outdoor plays, a nature center, golf and biking trails.

We did enjoy the morning on Nicolet Beach.DSC_0544

While all the other kids on this beach played exactly as you’d expect, our kids morphed every normal game into something else. DSC_0566

A normal game of catch became a game where you had to throw the ball through someone else’s legs and hit another kids butt.DSC_0576 DSC_0595A normal sand castle turned into a huge wet sand fight.

Adam usually starts the trip slowly untangling himself from work, which means the first few days he is still working.DSC_0539He didn’t get to enjoy the beach at all.

In the afternoon, we hiked Tramper’s Trail to the Lighthouse.DSC_0610 DSC_0612

Every night we roasted s’mores and played bags. Aaron learned how to build the campfire and became the official fire builder every night.

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The next morning we woke up and had breakfast at the famous Swedish restaurant in Sister Bay, Al Johnson’s.DSC_0619 DSC_0626Yes. Those are goats on their roof.

We all ordered the Swedish Pancakes! (I had to throw my vegan tendencies to the side to sample the Swedish Meatballs.)

Jack, would you like some pancake with your whipped cream?

Jack, would you like some pancake with your whipped cream?

After that, it was time to head to our next campground, but not before a stop by Hiawatha National Forest to see the Big Spring, AKA Kitchitikipi.DSC_0636They take you over the spring in a open bottom boat so you can view all the fish and bubbling springs.

Then, onto the next campsite, Tahquamenon Falls.

The first day Adam booked a kayak tour of Pictured Rocks. He booked with a company called Pictured Rocks Kayaking. It was the only tour that shuttles you by boat to all the good stuff so you don’t have to spend hours kayaking yourself there.DSC_0652

These two have become inseparable. I love watching their friendship grow.

These two have become inseparable. I love watching their friendship grow.

That said, it was still a 2 hour kayak tour. Our kids did an amazing job paddling, especially Jack who had to steer as well!DSC_0660We passed a lot of unusual sights like strange rock formations and rocks that look painted by dripping mineral deposits. We also visited caves and saw cliff divers. I was too scared I would lose my camera so I’ll leave this part of the trip to your imagination, or your google searches…

On the way back to the campsite, we did a quick stop at Grand Marais off of Lake Superior. We were hoping to see sand dunes, but instead we ended up collecting rocks. Adam let each kid pick three, and all the kids gave their picks to Aaron, who loves collecting these things much more than the rest of them.

Aaron decides on the best rocks to keep.

Aaron decides on the best rocks to keep.

The next day, we did a four mile hike from the Lower Tahquamenon Falls to the Upper Tahquamenon Falls.

Lower Falls

Lower Falls

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At one point it got so buggy the kids put on the face nets we brought just for this occasion. DSC_0690When we got to the Upper Falls,  I looked over at Adam and realized we were wearing the same shirt. Wearing the same shirt coupled with all the kids we had made me feel like we were part of some Christian family reunion. The kids kept calling us tour guides.

Upper Falls. Tahquamenon Falls is the second largest waterfall in the United States.

Upper Falls. Tahquamenon Falls is the second largest waterfall in the United States.

It took 2 hours to complete and the kids were absolutely exhausted by it.DSC_0696But lunch at the Brewery and Pub at the Upper Falls helped rejuvenate them.DSC_0697We sampled the Upper Peninsula traditional fair, pasties. They are kind of like a calzone with meat, potatoes and vegetables baked inside, served with gravy. IMG_0883I threw my vegan tendencies out the window again, this time to sample the local Whitefish, along with the Peach Wheat Beer.IMG_0882Then Adam treated them to a trip to the Gift shop. For my treat from the gift shop, I bought Fairy Dust packages that you can throw on fire to make it turn different colors.DSC_0704We took Jordan’s Shuttle back to the Lower Falls. The kids were grateful not to walk another four hours with the bugs!DSC_0528 Again, there were s’more s’mores and rounds of bags.

After the kayaking and hiking, it was time to move to our next campsite at Burt Lake, Michigan.

Adam picked this because of it’s proximity to Mackinac Island, the catalyst for this entire trip.

We started the visit on the island at the Hotel Iroquois for a resort style lunch.IMG_0893

Aaron said it was the best frozen lemonade he ever had!

Aaron said it was the best frozen lemonade he ever had!

After a walk down Main Street, we rented bikes. The twins just completed a week at PetalHeads, where they learned to bike without training wheels. They biked for two hours and completed the loop around the entire island, an eight mile bike ride.IMG_0916

Pit stop looking for rocks.

Pit stop looking for rocks. The Mackinac Bridge in the background.

And of course no trip to Mackinac would be complete without fudge!DSC_0716Ferry back on Shepler’s Ferry Service.IMG_0944That night we enjoyed our last s’mores and game of bags.

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Fairy Dust

Fairy Dust

The next day we returned the RV and stayed at a hotel.

DSC_0731DSC_0733The kids were so incredibly happy with the lack of bugs, lack of dirt, good wifi, soft beds and extra space that they didn’t leave the room once! (Adam too!)

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Ben’s 10th birthday

Ben achieved double digits yesterday.

As usual, we had a multi-day celebration.

Sunday we went out to buy what he requested for his birthday, a huge art portfolio book to house his growing number of drawings.

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Next we spent the afternoon cooking his pick for birthday dessert, Whoopie Pie. He picked it from another birthday present he got from Japo.

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That evening, we fulfilled another request, he wanted to try the shaved ice place we walked by on Father’s Day.

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For his actual birthday, we had our usual sugar rush of donuts and egg sandwiches.DSC_0367Ben had school during the day, but after school three of his visiting Grandparents were here to help him celebrate at the restaurant of his choice, Shine.DSC_0405Afterwards, he brought everyone back to the house for Whoopie Pie and some leftover cake that his school bought him.DSC_0408And we still haven’t had the actually birthday party yet! Which we have scheduled for this weekend but we aren’t sure if we’ll need to postpone. Ben broke his arm last week and we need doctor clearance before he can participate in his soccer themed party.

Happy Birthday Ben!

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Ben’s Week Off

This past week I’ve been spending a lot of time with Ben. While his brothers are all still in school, he had one glorious week off before his summer session begins.

It was probably for the best, as we could really tailor the time Ben had off to suit his needs.

In his pursuit of all things culinary, he wanted to try a few new foods.

We visited Antique Taco to sample the fish taco, a cod tempura with spicy tartar. We also sampled the pork carnitas and steak taco!IMG_0407We also took him to Greek Town, the Greek Islands, to try taramasalata, fried cheese, grilled octopus, gyros and baklava.IMG_0426 IMG_0423

We had many play dates.

One day, he played soccer with a buddy by the Lakefront, then came back to the house for a nerf gun battle.IMG_0399

Another day, we met a friend at the Lincoln Park Zoo.IMG_0418

Soccer was also involved that day.IMG_0415

We played at Maggie Daley with another friend.

IMG_0458 IMG_0454That day I even managed to take Ben to a new burger place, The Shake Shack, which both kids loved. A play date and new food together! IMG_0455Ben went back to school Wednesday for summer session. He moved up a classroom and when he came home from school that day, I was happy to hear him say summer session is fun! There a a few new kids who love what he does – soccer and drawing. And a few old faces from classes past that he was happy to see again.

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Adam’s 50th birthday

Yesterday my husband turned 50. Now that’s a weird sentence to type. Probably, it’s even weirder to say out loud. Especially when you are the person who is actually turning 50.

However, I don’t think Adam felt funny about it at all. At least, he seemed to take the milestone year in surprising stride.

Even all my teasing didn’t rouse him.

The morning before his birthday, Sam pushed Aaron off our bed. Aaron said, “You threw my back out!”

I cracked up laughing and turned to Adam, “That’s what you get for having old parents.”

Adam threw his back out last month. And everyone in our house learned what that phrase meant.

He didn’t think it was as funny as I did.

We started with our usual celebration donuts and egg sandwiches. Adam opened up all the birthday cards that had been trickling in all week. Many had gift cards to his favorite places – Nordstroms and Fleet Feet. He also got a huge stack of gifts from me.IMG_0468Mostly I bought him much needed clothes and shoes.

New Sweater. It was so cold this summer solstice that Adam wore it around today.

New Sweater. It was so cold this summer solstice that Adam wore it around today.

He never spends money on himself. But with the gift cards and a rare day off sans kids, that afternoon we were able to go and find many things he needed.

Yesterday was also the last day of school for the twins and Jack. Both schools had field day celebrations which we visited.Version 2 Version 2 Then we stopped by RJ Grunts for a quick lunch. We even split a naughty shake. Yes, naughty at 50 is having a shake for lunch.IMG_0523

At lunch he reflected about how much he had to be grateful for. Great kids, a fulfilling career, and his wonderful wife made him feel like a very lucky 50 year old.

We went through the afternoon school pick up and bus deliveries, followed by the afternoon rush of settling back home.

Ben and I cooked up one of his favorite dinners, Thai Basil Chicken. I added a special Beef Red Curry too.IMG_0524We sung him happy birthday and shared his favorite dessert, Key Lime Pie.DSC_0310 (1)And for once, Adam had some down time to just hang out. Not much by anyone’s standards, but for Adam, sitting on the couch for 30 minutes is a pretty big deal.DSC_0311 (1)

When I was younger, 50 sounded really old. But now that we are all rounding the corner of this big number, I also feel very grateful for the way things have turned out. When I look around I see many of our contemporaries flaming out either of their own doing or through no control of their own. I also realize how truly blessed we are to have our health and our happiness. To have our kids who are healthy and mostly happy. And to have most of our parents still around, also healthy and happy.

And I feel very, very, very lucky to be married to such a modest, patient, hard working, kind, witty husband. Happy Birthday, Adam!

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Father’s Day 2019

After checking the weather forecast, we had to forgo our normal Father’s Day beach outing ritual this year. The high was 56° with scattered rain throughout the day.

So poor Adam had to go through the same thought process I had to do last month for mother’s day – finding an activity suitable for all the kids that would not result in push back and tantrums. I was sad that our family, well one member in particular, makes planning celebrations so fraught with anxiety. I was also secretly pleased that it wasn’t all just in my head, Adam struggles as much as I do.

That is not to say the day wasn’t busy. I mean, it is ADAM we are talking about. His trick of having a normal day is to under plan by his standards. So he ‘under planned’ to play monopoly, take an afternoon stroll, get lunch out, get afternoon treats at a donut shop, fly the drone with Jack, read with Aaron and plant a bamboo plant with Ben.

We started with presents and cards.IMG_0429For his father’s day present, I got Adam a set of four artisan mugs off of Etsy. It was as close as I could find to his favorite mug, of which we only have one. If it’s in the wash and he has to use another mug, the tea somehow never tastes as good.

Then it was onto Monopoly. They barely let him finish his breakfast before they were begging to fulfill this request.IMG_0431We took a stroll over to Soupbox for lunch. IMG_0438They have Cheerwine at Soupbox! I had to get one to remind me of all those summers I spend at overnight camp in North Carolina.IMG_0439On the way home, we stopped by Stan’s Donuts for an afternoon treat.IMG_0440In the afternoon, Adam spent time with each kid, playing video games, planting plants, flying drones, and reading.

He also requested we take the picture where we all stand in line according to height. This was the first time Jack surpassed me.DSC_0305To our shock, the timer takes three photos at a time, so we were a little surprised and unprepared for the next shot….DSC_0306We had dinner at home, followed by a ‘make your own ice cream sundae’ dessert.IMG_0443

Happy Father’s day Adam!

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Mother’s Day 2019

The lead up to this mother’s day filled me with incredible dread.

For someone who has a tendency to turn memories into something rosier, wittier, funnier, and brighter than their original, I was surprised how exacting my memory was of last year’s Mother’s Day. Trying to force your kids to appreciate you at the prescribed time and place is a losing proposition. I felt I had all to clearly learned that lesson last year and didn’t need a repeat reminder.

The entire week before Adam asked me what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day. I kept telling him I would think about it.

I searched my brain to find something all the kids could participate in without meltdowns or bad attitudes. Sadly I couldn’t think of a single activity that would guarantee that.

I felt stuck. If I didn’t plan anything, I would be upset we didn’t celebrate. If I did plan something, there was a big chance it would make the day worse.

My normally decisive brain was paralyzed.

I couldn’t even decide what to eat for breakfast. When I asked Jack if we should do our usual donut and egg sandwich celebration breakfast, he answered. “It sounds good but it’s up to you. It’s your day.”

We were driving in the car, his body, now two inches taller than my own, was slumped comfortably in the passenger seat. When did he grow up and get so mature?

Donuts and egg sandwiches denote celebration in our house, so I reasoned I should go ahead. Plus I forgot to get Aaron a glazed donut last week during his birthday. We are so busy trying the specialty flavors that poor Aaron has never tried the most popular kind of donut!DSC_0244

When I got back from the donut shop, a pile of cards and presents awaited me. Gift cards and reflexology and Godiva chocolate and money!

Adam had the kids all draw me pictures for mother’s day. It was really sweet. Ben colored a heart beautifully, with a shading technique on the edges. Jack drew a row of flowers. Aaron drew an “I love you” machine. And Sam did adorable little hearts and picture of himself? DSC_0249So far, so good.

In the morning I planned a play date for the twins. Each picked a kid to invite over. I tried desperately to get them to play tag and sardines. I won for about 30 minutes. The rest of the time the Xbox won. Still the play date took the pressure off me, weirdly sometimes more kids around is easier than less.

Finally when it seemed to be going well, I suggested we head over to the Burger Bar for dinner.IMG_1290

It was a rough start getting everyone out of the front door but luckily the meal and company was completely enjoyable. We played a silly game where the kids took turns choosing another mother and father. Adam and I were quickly married off to other relatives, friend’s parents, and Marvel Superheros.

In the end, it was an enjoyable mother’s day. Perhaps it helped that I lowered my expectations a bit? Or maybe the kids matured a bit more?

Whatever it was, I’ll take it. Happy Mother’s day to all the mother’s out there reading this! I hope your day didn’t suck. If nothing else, I hope it was better than last year.

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Twin’s Seventh Birthday

I asked the twins where they would like their seventh birthday party and they both yelled out, “Dave and Busters!”

Immediately I went into a state of panic. Dave and Buster’s, once referred to by a fellow parent as “Vegas for kids”, is an impossible venue to watch kids in. Two large rooms with lots of corners to get lost in coupled with questionable, alcohol laden patrons is not the first thought I have when I think kid friendly.

The few times we’ve gone, I’ve spent the entire time wandering between the rooms frantically counting the head of all my children. One, two, three, four. Good. One, two, three, four. Still good. One, two….

I was sure I could not host a party there and actual do a good job. It’s hard to converse with other adults while internally counting over and over again in my head.

But I didn’t say no. I said, let me take you to a new trampoline park that just opened and then you can decide.

Luckily, the twins were happy to host the party at the trampoline park. Also I bribed them. If they chose the trampoline park, I promised to take them to Dave and Busters the day after their birthday as part of the whole birthday package.

The day started with the traditional birthday donuts and egg sandwiches.DSC_0124Their birthday was on a Friday and we hosted the party that evening at Altitude Trampoline Park. DSC_0135 DSC_0129 DSC_0134 DSC_0140As part of Altitude’s birthday package, they cleared the dodge ball arena for a private game with just the birthday guests.DSC_0151Afterwards, we had pizza and sandwiches.DSC_0156As per tradition, Adam organized the cake. DSC_0162Which is how we ended up with this four layer fudge and vanilla cake monstrosity. The remains of which will be my breakfast for the next week. And possible lunch and dinner too. Definitely dessert.DSC_0165 IMG_4563Afterwards, even though it was super late, we let them stay up even later to open their birthday presents. DSC_0169Don’t they look thrilled?DSC_0172They got a ton of thoughtful and exciting gifts will keep them busy for a long, long time!

The next day was another celebration. We didn’t go to Dave and Buster’s because my friend Pam told me about a new place called For the Win, which was smaller and had the allure of different prizes. We checked that out instead.IMG_0291The kids won a ton of points. Or maybe Adam spent a ton of money?

Either way, they all walked away super happy. Aaron got a disco ball, Sam and Jack got matching laser tag sets, and Ben got a POP Star Wars character.

The best part of the afternoon was how much the kids helped each other. Jack kept giving away his points and in the end, he had way less than the other kids. Then Ben gave Jack half his points so he could afford what he wanted.

Then we walked over to MingHin for a Dim Sum dinner.IMG_0315 IMG_0303Aaron had another request for his birthday. At the late age of seven, he had never had an ice cream sundae. We remedied that at Margies Candies.IMG_0325 IMG_0329 IMG_0333 IMG_0328It was a really great two day celebration, made even more special by the fact that Grandpa Devensky was in town. DSC_0125

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Spring Break 2019

A few months ago Adam asked me to pick a place to take the kids for spring break this year. His only specification was a drive that was less than five hours away.

So, I dutifully got on Google maps and looked around. Every city I saw was one we had already visited. Many had one or two unique places that were great to see, but none of them rivaled Chicago in terms of epicurean and cultural pursuits.

So, I panned out. And out again. What other city, within driving distance, can compete with Chicago?

Then I saw it: Washington D.C.

It is a city steeped in history. It is a city every American should see at least once in their life time. It is a city twelve hours away from us.

Adam came home that evening and saw it on the computer and said to me, “Great idea.”

Because the drive was so long, we did it in two days.

The first night we stopped in Pittsburgh. DSC_0972I was absolutely charmed by this city. So were the kids.DSC_0987

Heinz Field in the background.

Heinz Field in the background.

We walked around downtown, running around Point State Park.

We crossed the bridge and ate a delicious dinner at Burgatory, located between Heinz Field and PNC Park.

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We also started the first of a week of free hotel breakfasts. The kids will tell you, I’m a sucker for free breakfast.IMG_0207

Adam is pretending his hands are Aaron's!

Adam is pretending his hands are Aaron’s!

We arrived in D.C. and walked to the White House and beyond. The kids immediately started playing tag in the first spot of green grass we encountered.DSC_1030

DSC_1036See all the “kids” playing tag?!  We spent a lot of time walking (and running!) the National Mall.

Adam wrote to Dick Durbin, our Senator, and scored a tour of Congress.DSC_1069 DSC_1081 DSC_1083

Roof of the Rotunda

Roof of the Rotunda

We were shown the Rotunda, where heads of state are laid for viewing, and where they hold the luncheon after presidents are sworn in. We passed Nancy Pelosi’s office. I love how any citizen can have the opportunity to do this. Being in the same room where such historically significant events take place gave me goose bumps.

I’m not sure how much the kids enjoyed or even understood of it. I was pleased that Jack knew almost all the answers to activity booklet they passed out. Who helped the Lewis and Clark expedition? Jack yelled out, “Sacagawea!” (I think he actually said, “that Saka something person”, but still!)

Tuesday Adam went to the office so I took the boys to the park for some soccer.DSC_1111 DSC_1097Then, there was more running and walking the National mall.DSC_0005 DSC_1056We went to Georgetown to check it out.DSC_0011

Watching the rowers on the Potomac.

Watching the rowers on the Potomac.

We ate dinner at Filomena’s. Delicious Italian fare in a basement with the craziest Easter decorations I’d ever seen. (Aaron kept asking if we could buy the 45 pound chocolate Easter egg they had for sale.)

Wednesday we were treated to a VIP tour from a friend of mine who works at the Department of the Interior.

We had a Park Ranger drive us right up to all the monuments and talked to us about each one.

With our tour guide, Carlos, in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

With our tour guide, Carlos, in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

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We learned a lot of stuff we would have missed without a tour guide. At the Korean War Memorial, he explained that each of the 19 soldiers represented different branches of the military. Carlos showed us how the soldiers are reflected in the wall. What is 19 plus 19? It’s 38, representing the 38th parallel, the dividing line between North and South Korea. DSC_0027Carlos also spent a lot of time asking the kids questions, which kept them engaged and feeling important. Here he is explaining the radio statue at the Roosevelt Memorial, which represents Roosevelt’s famous Fireside Chats.DSC_0047Aaron on Roosevelt’s dog, Fala.DSC_0051There are four rooms in Roosevelt’s memorial, one for each term of his presidency. This one was during World War II, signified by the broken rocks with the words “I hate war” on them.DSC_0050

Martin Luther King’s unfinished legs represent that he died before his work was done. DSC_0061My favorite quote of many at the Martin Luther King Memorial…DSC_0063We all agreed this tour was the highlight of the trip!

Thursday morning we went to see the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. It was spring break for everyone in the area and it was super crowded! Look at the line behind us!DSC_0064But it was still pretty amazing to see.DSC_0071 DSC_0077In the afternoon we took a tour of the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing. DSC_0088

Jack is worth 2 inches more than me!DSC_0081It was pretty cool to see them print money, and to walk by stacks and stacks of $6.4 million dollars ready to be shipped out.

Sunny day treat!

Sunny day treat!

Afterwards Adam let them all pick out a souvenir and they all picked monuments. Jack had them arrange the statues as if they were placed on a map.DSC_0091Aaron is really attached to his Lincoln, he kept it close the rest of the vacation.DSC_0094On the way home we stopped in Akron Ohio and finally enjoyed the hotel pool.IMG_0246

It was a much more difficult trip then heading to a beach, but now that it’s all over, I’m glad we exposed the kids to some history and culture.

Now that we are back home, the kids have forgotten all the fighting, sore muscles from long walks, the school like tour lectures, and that one scary moment in the restaurant where Adam had to give Aaron the Heimlich maneuver, and have all agreed it was a great trip!

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Jack’s 12th Birthday

Jack celebrated his 12th birthday party at FlightClub, a social darts venue that opened recently downtown.DSC_0937They have a computer connected to the dart board so the dart board can be used to play games like shoots and ladders. Up to 12 people can play together in these little booths called “oches” (pronounced like hockey without an ‘h’).DSC_0946 DSC_0941Once you are 12 years old, you can play with the steel tip darts they provide, so we left the our younger kids with a sitter that day.DSC_0944They had pizza, sliders, veggie trays but you can order from the menu whatever you like. Servers came by unlimited refills of their own personal drink orders, just like a full service bar. There was even a coat check.DSC_0947They also had dart birthday cakes so we didn’t even have to spend two full days ordering and picking up a cake from the suburbs.

It was possibly the easiest party I’d every organized.

Afterwards, we came back and Jack opened up lots of gift cards for his new iPhone (his birthday present from us), Xbox gifts cards (perfect as Season 8 of Fortnite is right around the corner), and more gift cards to place like Amazon or Target (which he pooled to get a drone).

Then, on Jack’s actual birthday, we had the traditional donuts for breakfast, he brought in a popsicle treat for lunch, and dinner at his choice, Shine Restaurant.IMG_0046Afterwards, he opened presents from his brothers, we sang Happy Birthday to him, and shared his favorite cake – a Key Lime Pie from Mandy Bs.IMG_0049This was a big year for Jack. He outgrew me. I am now the third tallest in the house. He can help me with the kids sometimes, or if he wants, I can let him stay at home by himself while I run a quick errand. And, he continues to be super cool. He’s got such an amazing outlook on life. He is even keel, generous, and thoughtful with a great sense of humor. Adam and I as so proud to see the man he is becoming.

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Bubbie’s 80th Birthday

My crazy month of travel continues!

The pilot lets Sam sit in the cockpit

The pilot lets Sam sit in the cockpit

Last week we took the boys to Arizona to visit Bubbie and Grandpa Bill.

We had a very special event to attend – Bubbie’s 80th birthday party.

All of Bubbie’s biological children and grandchildren booked a week long celebration just outside of Tuscon, AZ, where Bubbie and Grandpa Bill retired.

Bubbie surrounded by all her offspring.

Bubbie surrounded by all her offspring. (And their spouses)

We promised the kids warm weather and pool swims, but when we arrived, it was colder than Chicago so we had snowball fights instead!DSC_0495Bubbie and Grandpa Bill hosted us for many dinners at their house.

Shabbat Dinner

Shabbat Dinner

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DSC_0504 DSC_0500We spent many hours hanging out in the house enjoying each other’s company, or outside telling stories by the fire.DSC_0682 DSC_0678

One day, we mini-golfed and laser tagged.DSC_0463 DSC_0476

We also did some great hiking. One day we hiked behind the Ritz Carlton, where Adam’s sister and her family stayed.DSC_0565 IMG_1030

Another day we hiked Catalina State Park.

Finding rattlesnake holes?

Finding rattlesnake holes?

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At this park we were able to bring Bubbie’s dog, Zoe. The kids loved taking turns walking her.DSC_0731

In fact, they loved interacting with her any chance they could get.DSC_0686 DSC_0662

DSC_0489Bubbie also treated us to many activities. One day we visited Old Tuscon, a Wild West attraction.

My Niece and Nephew

My Niece and Nephew

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So nice to see the siblings together!

So nice to see the siblings laughing and joking together!

Bubbie also treated us to a Stagecoach ride.DSC_0540 IMG_1012

When the blacksmith heard it was her birthday, he gave her this horseshoe heart.DSC_0551Since the kids have never seen any Wild West movies, I think most of the tour was lost on them but there were some live action stunt shows and an insane haunted mine that they enjoyed.

Actually I think their favorite activity was running up and down the street chasing each other!DSC_0552Bubbie also treated us to a horseback ride at Tuscon Mountain Stables.DSC_0650 DSC_0654

The scenery was stunning and luckily it had warmed up enough to enjoy the outdoors.

We even managed to get some swimming in, both at our hotel and at the Ritz.DSC_0574 DSC_0578 DSC_0577 DSC_0576 DSC_0581 DSC_0587 DSC_0589

And last but not least, we celebrated Bubbie’s 80th birthday with many family members as well as the friends she has made at her retirement community.

All of the family members who flew and drove many hours to celebrate with Bubbie's 80th.

All of the family members who flew and drove many hours to celebrate Bubbie’s 80th.

Bubbie and Bill treated everyone to dinner. DSC_0596

Afterwards she hired a Karaoke DJ.DSC_0592

Before the party Adam and I bet how many people would actually get up and sing. I said 5 or less. Adam said at least 20.DSC_0610

Even Ben sings a song!

Even Ben sings a song!

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I’ve seen so many karaoke parties, thanks to my time in Asia. In my experience, most of them flop in Western environments. I’ve seen the party where the host makes people uncomfortable by pressuring people to sing. I’ve seen parties taken over by mike hogs. I’ve seen parties where the karaoke mikes stand awkwardly to the side, the elephant in the room. But at this party I saw something I’ve never seen before.

Not only were there a plethora of participates willing to get up and sing, but very quickly, everyone in the room was standing up singing. The entire room turned into a sing-a-long!DSC_0621

It was incredible! It was so joyous and uplifting!

And I enjoyed every last minute of it. So much so that Adam had to tell me we were leaving THREE times.

We got back late last night, due to a delayed flight. I’m happy to be home, but also sad that we are no longer in vacation mode. It was really nice to have Adam take a few days off from work and have time to connect as a family.

View from Bubbie & Bill's backyard.

View from Bubbie & Bill’s backyard.

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