Memorial Day Weekend 2018

Perhaps they should consider moving Mother’s Day to Memorial Day because this weekend, for the first time in a long time, we had an absolutely glorious time.

This weekend marks the turn over from six months of harsh, hobbit-like weather. I feel like, for the past half of a year we have holed up in our house, lips chapped dry from the forced heat, eyes the shape of squares from staring at electronic devices too long, skin pale from lack of sun, in a constant state of annoying each other. Outside of the house was a terrain so unwelcoming you need to suit up just to enter.

But not this weekend! This weekend it was lush and green. And the the sun warmed your skin like a hug from someone you missed deeply but had given up hope of ever seeing again. For once the cold basement was a welcomed addition to our house, not a place to avoid.

Saturday night Adam took Jack to a Cubs game. But not just any game, this one they let 9 lucky boys onto the field to stand in the position of one of the nine players. Jack was one of them.  IMG_0362

Ian Happ personally signed a baseball for him.

Then, the next day, we packed up toys, towels, a picnic lunch, the tent, chairs, the wagon, a portable table, slathered the kids in sunscreen and headed for the beach.

It was 90°F out, so hot that our feet burned when walking on the sand. The water, in contrast, was a chilly 58°F.

Ben and Aaron, my more sensory kids started the day running into the freezing water then laying on the sand like beached whales, warming themselves in the sun.DSC_0022Jack and Sam created together.DSC_0015And there was more! Water fights.DSC_0163They dug this huge hole and buried both twins in.DSC_0083 DSC_0085Then later they used the hole for some game where they poured water in then dug with all their might, laughing all the way.DSC_0151 DSC_0152They spent hours shell and rock collecting.DSC_0049 DSC_0055 DSC_0069

Ben and Adam found a special one for me.

Ben and Adam found a special one for me.

They also did ‘shark races’ from the water to the shore.DSC_0126

And threw the football around a bit… We had a picnic lunch.DSC_0073Then, ice cream!DSC_0137 DSC_0135

There was some other really great moments too. Like when Ben was lagging behind the group, Jack ran back, took the chair he was carrying from him, and walked next to him.

Finally we went home and cleaned up. Ben and Aaron’s hair took three washes to get all the sand out. But it was totally worth it. The next morning Ben asked if we could go to the beach again. When he asked he did so with a bright red, sunburned face.

So, instead we headed up to the Botanical gardens.DSC_0171

It was another scorcher of a day, but luckily there was a strong wind that changed the weather from soupy to delightful.

We spent hours walking the gardens.DSC_0175

We smelled and touched in the sensory garden.DSC_0181 DSC_0183

We played tag on the lawn.DSC_0191

We found a dead bird and a few dead fish. (And live ones too!)DSC_0192

We had races in the maze.DSC_0208

Sometimes we just sat and chatted. At one point Jack was giving out math quizzes to the younger siblings. They loved the challenge!

I think the best part of the weekend was that both days we brought the kids some where picturesque and kid friendly then let the day define itself. I loved seeing them out soaking up precious vitamin D. I loved watching them exercising their bodies. But mostly I loved watching us interact as a family, making jokes, interacting and bonding, holding hands, playing tag or running races.DSC_0211


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Mother’s Day 2018

Mother’s Day 2018 was a bit of a disaster. In fact, I considered not writing about it at all this year.

We started the day with the usual cards and gifts cards. Which I completely appreciated. It was the first year all four kids were able to sign the cards themselves. That was kind of cool.

The night before Jack and Ben had gone out with Adam to buy the twins belated birthday gifts. Unfortunately everything Jack suggested, Ben though was bad. When they got home and gave the presents, Both twins liked their gifts but then Ben convinced Sam that his wasn’t good enough, that there was something better out there. Which really hurt Jack’s feelings. I had a long talk with Sam about the concept of ‘keeping up with the Joneses’. There is always something better out there, being happy in life is learning to appreciate what you have.

It’s a hard concept for a 6 year old.

In fact, it’s a hard concept for a 45 year old.

Because mother’s day this year I felt kind of awful.

I spent the first part of the morning helping Sam build a lego set he got for his birthday. It took us a good 30 minutes to complete. When we were done, Jack broke it in 1 second.

Down time at home on the morning, playing with some of their new birthday toys...

Down time at home on the morning, playing with some of their new birthday toys…

We didn’t go out to eat at a nice restaurant because I didn’t feel our kid with special needs could handle it. That he would ruin the experience for me.

When we tried an outing to the zoo Adam had to practically strong arm Ben into going. Adam kept telling him to be good! Remember it’s mother’s day and to be nice to mom! That depressed me even more, that the kids had to be yelled at just to be nice to me. Why weren’t they nice to me all year? How come I only get a day? And even then it’s too hard?

I almost left without Ben and Adam, but finally Adam managed to get Ben to come with, and he promptly fell asleep in the stroller meant for the twins. I worried he would keep us awake all night after sleeping the day away.DSC_0990Playing tag after the zoo…DSC_0008

We also stopped at Cummings Park…DSC_0009 DSC_0011

At one point during the day Adam told me to relax, take a break. But I knew if I didn’t finish the laundry, dishes, clean up, whatever it was, it would just be sitting there waiting for me on Monday morning when the house is quiet and I actually do have time away from the kids. It upset me that our lifestyles are so busy there really isn’t any time to relax.

While I work in the kitchen, Aaron likes to hang out and draw.

While I work in the kitchen, Aaron likes to hang out and draw.

Evening game of Slamwich, another birthday gift.

Evening game of Slamwich, another birthday gift.

While Adam was putting the twins to bed, Sam threw a stuffed animal and it hit the lego set we built that morning, that Jack smashed and I fixed afterwards. It was smashed to pieces again!

After the twins went to bed, Adam very nicely ordered from one of my favorite restaurants, Cheng Du Impressions, for take out. I thoroughly enjoyed that too.

Then this morning as I was driving back from dropping Adam at work, I turned on this week’s podcast of ‘This American Life’. It was about breaking up. They started talking about how many break up song there were. Then they played some classic ones. When they got to Bonnie Raitt’s “I can’t make you love me, if you don’t.” I started bawling right there, by myself in the car. The foggy, rainy day was a perfect backdrop.

That song brought me back to a very specific time in my life. When I was so distraught, lonely and rejected. My mind quickly ran through all the rejections in my life. The time that I would play this very song over and over again and lay on my floor next to my pink boom box in a miserable heap. Or the year in Hong Kong when I woke up every single morning for months with a pile of snotty tissues next to my bed and I wondered if I would ever go back to falling asleep normally instead of crying myself to sleep every night. Or the time I recently moved to Shanghai and I was sitting on the balcony of my new flat looking out and thinking, I’ve been dating half my life, where the hell is he?

I was very glad not to be in any of those times in my life. For every set of Joneses, there is another set of Smiths or whoever else. It can always be better, but it can always be worse!

And as most of my readers already know, he finally did show up and together we built this breakneck pace of a life together. I can’t say I haven’t been distraught, but I haven’t been lonely since. Or rejected!

So perhaps I should be listening to my own advice. Screw the Joneses. Look around, there is plenty to be grateful for, and everything in life doesn’t have to be perfect for you to find it.

I got home and carefully rebuilt the lego set once again. Sometimes you got to fix things more than once. Ah, yet another life lesson.

And much like the other saying about life and lemons, if life gives you a pile of legos, make something beautiful. Or at least rebuild the darn thing so you aren’t left stepping on a pile of pain.

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Twin’s 6th Birthday Party

Today we hosted the twins 6th birthday party.

Finally, after 6 years, they had their first birthday party!

We recycled the carnival theme from Ben’s birthday, adding a few more games.

Jack created this marble run with two results.DSC_0924I spent entirely too much time building this skeeball machine for the kids.DSC_0887

Match the ducks…DSC_0923And more…DSC_0892 DSC_0893 DSC_0894 DSC_0895 DSC_0896 DSC_0888 DSC_0891Kids were able to trade in their tickets from the games at the prize table, which Adam worked tirelessly.DSC_0963(Here is the secret to the prize table!)DSC_0925

We hired a bunch of Jack’s buddies from school, an older sibling of one of Aaron’s buddies, and my friend Laura brought a crew of kids (and also helped tirelessly the entire party!) to help run the games.DSC_0948

We also had a face painter.DSC_0944

And a balloon twister.DSC_0952DSC_0959 DSC_0962

And we rented a popcorn maker, a cotton candy maker, and a hot dog steamer.DSC_0938

I also put out some home made sushi, quinoa salad and guacamole.

And fruit. You see how much attention it got compared to the cotton candy…DSC_0939Balloon sword fight!DSC_0965

Our upstairs apartment is vacant right now so we had the carnival upstairs. The food was on the deck, the face painter and balloon twister were in our apartment and the prize table was outside on the ground level.DSC_0898

Kids also played in the basement so hopefully all that stair climbing counteracted all the sugar they ate?

Finally Adam brought out the cake. This is always his job for the birthday parties and once again it was a masterpiece.DSC_0970

Afterwards the kids got to stay up late to open ALL THESE presents!DSC_0983

It was a great day and I was so grateful we could do this for them. Also grateful that it didn’t rain! And that we had so many wonderful helpers, including our oldest carnival helper, Japo…DSC_0932

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Twin’s 6th Birthday

The twins turned 6 years old today.

Not being first in line for birth order is a funny thing. Everything is already established.

It was no surprise for the twins they they woke up to donuts for breakfast. It’s fast becoming our birthday ritual.IMG_8848

It was the first birthday they celebrated in school, so that was new. Unlike their siblings, this school has a ritual of handing out gifts on the kids birthday instead of bringing in a treat.

The twins handed out fidget spinners. They were a huge hit and afterwards I was accosted on the playground by older kids grabbing the leftovers.

And it was no surprise that they chose the same place the other kids choose for their birthday dinner, the Rainforest Cafe. Jack is starting to eat of the adult menu and slowly we are ordering more desserts but otherwise it’s the same.IMG_E0245

Here is the Volcano dessert that we got along with two key lime pies…DSC_0886

This weekend we will throw the birthday party for them. Stay tuned!

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