Nephew’s Graduation

I told you how amazing my husband was for letting me skip our date night last weekend  and leave him with the kids so I could see my friend Anna in Boston?

Well, HE LET ME DO IT AGAIN this weekend. I married a saint.

This weekend I was in North Carolina witnessing my nephew’s college graduation.DSC_0398He graduated with a Computer Science degree and (unlike me at that age) already has a full time job!DSC_0413

Clay's fan club

Clay’s fan club

After watching the ceremony, we had dinner in Asheville at Tulepo Honey. IMG_0145

I also had enough time to stop by my friend Jennie’s house another night, where her husband had a delicious dinner prepared for us. DSC_0357

My Dad was there too!DSC_0359And Lara gave me my birthday presents. IMG_4126

I got to choose from a variety of hats that she knitted herself and I got a signed copy of my friend Jennie’s book. Yep, not only is Jennie’s husband a great cook, but she’s a published author too! This book was so well received that she has already pre-sold her next book!

And if you didn’t think she was cool enough yet then wait, there is more. While I was at Lara’s she showed me the book she used to knit all the different hats and look who was the model for the hats…IMG_4131We also got to tour around the Lake on Lara’s new golf cart (which came with a house she bought in this amazing community.)DSC_0438It was such a nice weekend. I woke up each morning on my own, without the ‘help’ of a child. And we spent hours leisurely hanging out talking and laughing.

Seeing my nephew graduate, catching up with my good friend Jennie, and spending time with family – an omne trium perfectum.

I don’t think I even have words to express how appreciative I am for this charmed life I live.

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Trip to Boston

So the reason I missed the last two nights of Hanukkah was because a dear friend of mine, who I have not seen since our friend Mark’s wedding in London 9 years ago, was passing through the states. It’s a big deal since she lives over 8,000 miles away from me in South Africa.IMG_0123Adam graciously let me bow out of our date night and offered to watch the kids. I thanks my lucky stars every day that I married such a kind and thoughtful man.

Whenever I talk to my friends from my days of living in Hong Kong, we all describe it as ‘the bubble’. It was an incredibly special time in our lives, and now that we’ve all joined the real world we can look back with awe that we were once a part of it.

It was like college, where everyone lives far away from their parents and as a result forms very tight friendships. But with money. And set in an exotic location.

Anna showed up on my doorstep one day early into my time in Hong Kong, when she began dating my roommate, Rob. We struck up a quick friendship that has lasted the test of time.

After seeing her this weekend, I looked back on some of our photo albums. Its true what they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. And I had so many pictures, hopefully these few can sum up just how special our time together was.Anna 2We spent a lot of time in bikinis. On junk (boat) trips sailing around Hong Kong or at the beach after a long walk through the New Territories. Or in many exotic locations. This picture was taken at our friend Ryan & Petra’s wedding in Phuket, Thailand, at the Banyon Tree Hotel.Anna 34We went everywhere. And most of the time I could only afford the flight so I had to sleep in Rob and Anna’s hotel room once we got there. We were actually called Rob’s ‘girls’! This is a picture of a weekend trip for my birthday. Anna, Rob and my then boyfriend Arsalan flew me by helicopter to Macau.Anna 3We did a lot of dress up. This shot is from a 70s themed party we used to attend. In between Anna and I is our friend Issy who now lives in New Zealand (also about 8,000 miles away from me, but in a different direction!)

Anna 1Did I mention how much dress up we did? Well, here is yet another one of many black tie events that we attended. Our friend Teena threw a lavish 40th birthday murder mystery party at the top of the China Club. Afterwards we dumped into Lan Kwai Fong and practiced our swing dancing in front of Al’s Diner. Yes, we all took group swing dancing lessons together. We were a very close group that did EVERYTHING together. Anna’s character was actually pregnant for this event and we had a blast watching her and our friend David, who was dressed as a priest, dance together.

Even though this photo is a bit blurry I love how it captures the moment. We had so many giggly moments like this!

It was really great to catch up with Anna and meet her kids, two of which I met about 10 years ago in New York and one that wasn’t born yet then. Hopefully it won’t be another 10 years before we see each other again!

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Nights 7 & 8 – Hanukkah 2018

We celebrated the last two nights of Hanukkah this weekend.

Well, mostly Adam celebrated. I was in Boston for the weekend, but I’ll save that story for another blog post.

Today I want to show you the last two night of Hanukkah Bears.

Night 7…DSC_0349and Night 8…DSC_0347As I mentioned before, I wasn’t here to set up the last night, but I had all the props ready so all Adam had to do was pull them out and set them up.

I was pleased to see how much the scene changed by the time I got home that night. The boys, especially Aaron, had a blast with it. In fact, they like it so much I’m not allowed to clean it up!DSC_0355The bears are now ‘dementors’ and have been imprisoned in the castle.

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Happy Birthukkah!

Today was my 46th birthday as well as the 5th day of Hanukkah. That makes today a very special day for everyone in the house (except for Adam).

Today is Birthukkah!!!!

This morning the Hanukkah bears brought birthday donuts and egg sandwiches from Dunkin’ Donuts. The kids and Adam gave me birthday cards with many gifts in them. Earlier this week my mother took me out for a special birthday lunch and I also received calls from all of my family members and gifts from them as well. And as if that wasn’t enough, I also received many birthday texts and happy birthday wishes on Facebook.DSC_0305The kids all had school today and while they were away, we got a visit from the Hawthorne twins.

My mother was laughing with shock when she changed a diaper today. She never thought she’d be doing that again! Still she took her babysitting duties very seriously…DSC_0316Afterwards I ran a few errands before picking up the kids. One errand was in Chinatown and I treated myself to a bubble tea from Joy Yee’s fancy drink menu.

This drink is bigger than my head!

This drink is bigger than my head!

Tonight Adam treated us all to dinner at Shine Restaurant. DSC_0327

Aaron's favorite part of the meal - the steamed rice.

Aaron’s favorite part of the meal – the steamed rice.

Then, it was back home to light candles all over the place. First on another birthday surprise, a beautiful cake from Sweet Mandy B’s. All chocolate. You can never have enough chocolate!DSC_0330We also lit Hanukkah candles and the boys opened more presents. DSC_0338Finally, after Adam put the kids to bed and all was quiet in the house, I set up the Hanukkah Bears for the 6th day of Hanukkah…

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I got a nice little video of the twins wrecking that scene!

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Nights 3 & 4 – Hanukkah 2018

On the third night of Hanukkah, I let the Fortnite craze sweep through to the Hanukkah bears.DSC_0287

We were joined by Fable, Tomato Head, Cuddle Bear Leader, and Raven.

They actually came in just like the game, dropping from the sky and landing on the map.DSC_0278 DSC_0280 DSC_0284

The kids loved this one. Aaron was obsessed with Raven, even Jack pointing out that I missed Raven’s feathers and had mistakenly put Ravage’s wings on him didn’t cull his devotion.

So, I couldn’t bear (pardon the pun) to take the Fortnite ‘skins’ off for night 4’s scene.DSC_0297 DSC_0296

I was trying to recreate the family slide at Great Wolf Lodge….DSC_0026

Both nights we had more presents, lots of Legos and Imaginex! And Gelt! DSC_0292

Stay tuned for tomorrow when we celebrate Birthukkah, the day were everyone in our family except Adam gets gifts!

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Nights 1 & 2 – Hanukkah 2018

Hanukkah arrived early this year. Well, it was early depending on who you asked. Ben had been waiting impatiently since before Halloween.

The first night was a Sunday, so the Hanukkah bears had an activity waiting for the kids when they woke up that morning.DSC_0240The kids decorated gingerbread houses after a morning feast of Dim Sum.DSC_0245DSC_0250DSC_0254 DSC_0256 DSC_0260Jack and Adam were flying back from Colorado that morning so we made sure to save some candy for Jack.DSC_0265We also broke out the driedel game.DSC_0269While we slept that night, the Hanukkah bears had a huge silly string fight. The boys woke up to this…DSC_0271It was a school day today but as soon as we arrived home it was dark so we lit the candles and opened more presents.IMG_0080The Star Wars force in strong with us.

Stay tuned for more bears soon…

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Great Wolf Lodge

This year for Thanksgiving, with no family in the area, we decided to try out the new Great Wolf Lodge in Gurnee. Last year they took over the old Key Lime Cove and completed a $65 million dollar renovation.

Ben and I had been to the old Key Lime Cove and although some of the things were the same, like the basketball pool, there were some new and exciting things to explore.

Like the wave pool…DSC_1063 DSC_0019 DSC_0012 DSC_0023The kids enjoyed playing in this big open space even when the waves weren’t churning…DSC_1059 DSC_1053 DSC_1052The ‘toilet bowl’ slide was also a new addition…DSC_0078 DSC_0073 DSC_0065

Also the family raft, where almost all of our family could go together (max 5 people)…DSC_0026 DSC_0031I’m pretty sure this fort is the same as before…DSC_0138

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Sam lets a little kid blast him. The little kid thought it was hilarious!

Sam lets a little kid blast him. The little kid thought it was hilarious!

And these slides might have been here but last time I went with Ben we was too scared to try them? This time we took turns racing to see each other.DSC_0048 DSC_0043We also spent time outside of the water park. Adam splurged on arcade cards.DSC_1010Jack won a golden ticket, and along with all the other Willy Wonka tickets he got, he got a whopping 2000 tickets. It was so many that he shared 500 each with each sibling.DSC_1014

Walking back to the room with all the prizes they won.

Walking back to the room with all the prizes they won.

Adam also bought Sam and Aaron some stuff from the Magic Quest shop. Aaron got a magic wand that lights stuff up all over the hotel. And Sam got a shield and sword set.DSC_1043

DSC_1038Some of the kids tried the Adventure Ropes course. I was super proud of them all for attempting it, especially the twins! It looked scary. Afterwards, Sam and Jack went AGAIN!DSC_0168 DSC_0177 DSC_0170Thanksgiving night we booked dinner at the special Thanksgiving buffet. The kids were super silly at dinner, except for Jack who was exhausted! DSC_1019 DSC_1036 DSC_1034 DSC_1032 DSC_1030 DSC_1024It was really nice to drop the electronics for a few days and connect as a family. I loved watching them all interact in different ways, forming their own special bonds. I was so happy that Ben had a good visit, this time around he was brave enough to try all the slides, something he could never do in the past. And I was so pleased that Adam could finally take a few days off work, he hasn’t had a day off in over a month (including weekends!).

I let them eat naughty cereal on vacation. Aaron collected all this Lucky Charm Leprechaun hats.

I let them eat naughty cereal on vacation. Aaron collected all his Lucky Charm Leprechaun hats.

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Lazy River

Lazy River

 

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Halloween 2018

I know my oldest in only 11, but Halloween is teetering on it’s last legs already.

When we ordered his kid’s sized Large costume this year, it came up to his shins. We had to reorder an adult Small, which of course he was drowning in and I had to velcro, fabric tape and safety pin considerably.

Still I was pleased all of his friends (most of whom are now taller than me) were still game for it.DSC_1002 (1)We started on the busiest street in our neighborhood. They block off the street and there are many houses giving out full sized candy bars. Once we got there, the older kids dispersed. They were in a competition to see who got the most full sized candy bars and they all had their own strategies, including multiple costumes.DSC_1006Then, we headed back to the house for mummy dogs and chili. The parents socialized very civilly with adult drinks and conversation. The kids socialized by hyping themselves up on candy and sugary drinks and running through the house like made playing some sort of chase/tag game.

Aaron and Sam also were kind enough to take turns giving out candy to other fellow trick-or-treaters.

DSC_1007All the kids went to bed late, dirty, and crashing from sugar. I’d say it was another successful Halloween.

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Mom and Lara’s Annual Visit

Last week we had a visit from Japo and Aunt Lara for what is becoming a beautiful tradition.

We packed in all kinds of fun, most of which benefited me the most!

First, Japo very kindly watched Ben ALL day so Adam and I could take the other kids and friends to Great America.DSC_0678 DSC_0672Then, a few days later Aunt Lara showed up.

We immediately headed to Chinatown for Dim Sum!DSC_0711 DSC_0713

As soon as Lara arrived, she joined my mother in helping around the house. While Japo tirelessly folded laundry, Aunt Lara refinished our table!

Before

Before

After

After

The next night, Adam and I checked into a hotel sans kids and enjoyed some time together.

London House

London House

I got to go eat at all my favorite places.

Slurping Turtle

Slurping Turtle

Goddess and the Baker

Goddess and the Baker

We went running TOGETHER, instead of tag teaming our runs to take turns babysitting.

Buckingham Fountain

Buckingham Fountain

And we got a chance to explore the city without distraction. The walks we do with the kids feels more like herding cats then exploring.

CANstruction exhibit

CANstruction exhibit

Canstruction exhibit

CANstruction exhibit

While we were away Aunt Lara and Japo watched our rambunctious herd. IMG_9686 IMG_9737We got home just in time for the block party (see previous blog post).

The next day Adam watched the kids for the day while us ladies spent the day celebrating Japo’s 80th birthday.

We got reflexology at our favorite spot, Fit Foot.

Then we went to see “Crazy Rich Asians”.

Not so crazy, or rich, but somewhat Asian.

Not so crazy, or rich, but somewhat Asian.

Finally we had dinner at Girl & the Goat.IMG_9729

I was very sad to see them go this morning, and wished again for the millionth time that we all lived closer.

 

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Block Party 2018

Yesterday we happily participated in the annual block party.

There was so much fun to be had!

We ran from one delight to another…

Cotton candy…DSC_0721 DSC_0730Bouncy houses…DSC_0740 DSC_0747 DSC_0788Craft table….DSC_0726Hula Hooping with the Band…DSC_0716 IMG_9717Magician Show…

DSC_0785Ice Cream Truck…DSC_0792Face Painting…

Aaron's fan club

Aaron’s fan club

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Corn Hole…DSC_0754 DSC_0799And for the adults, we enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers, brats, catering from Oyster Bah and Summer House Santa Monica. Five kegs and many more adult beverages were scattered along the block as well.

But best of all, we got to celebrate with Aunt Lara and Japo…DSC_0780

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