Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lately we've been...

Lately I've been so up and down. The weather has a lot to do with it. Last week, it was beautiful, and when I dropped my kids off at school Thursday morning, I parked by Lake Michigan and ran from 31st street beach to the Planetarium. That was an accident. I didn't realize how far that was going to be and then there I was at the Planetarium way too exhausted to run back. I made it, but almost died. It was only 5 miles there and back, but to me that is about twice as far as I've ever run, so I felt it for a few days.
 But that's what beautiful weather does to people here in Chicago...it makes us happy optimistic people who think we can do things. If the sun peeks out, we think we live in the best city ever and don't know why we'd ever leave.
 However, on the dreary days, (like today) we wonder why in heck we don't pack up and move south.
Sammy doesn't seem to have weather issues. He'll go out no matter what the weather. However, he has to talk mom and big sister into going out with him, so he doesn't get out as much as he'd like. He stays busy though. For instance, yesterday, he used his new birthday tools to build a firetruck.
Okay, I helped a little, but it was at 6:15am and he was dying to make something with his "big boy tools" so we drilled a few holes into the bottom of his only board and attached some craft stuff to it. The back circles are little knobs that resemble wheels, but the front ones are just wooden beads that we had.
He didn't care. Claire wanted him to make it into a school bus, but he had his heart set on a fire truck, so that's what it was.
It is hilarious looking. Just a board with wheels, but then he decided that it needed to be painted, so we got out the red paint and he went to town on it.
Then he said: "now you paint some stuff on it like a ladder and hose and windows and some firemen." I did my best...I did my best. But I didn't do firemen because after he saw my attempt at a hose he said "THAT'S not a hose!" so I quit. I figured if I can't paint a hose, I better not try to paint a man wearing a firemen's uniform.
So here it is in all it's glory. A big board with wheels, but he's pretty happy about it. I should set up a little etsy shop for him and sell his stuff. I think it'd make a few bucks, don't you? Haha.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Milwaukee with the Big Guy

Last week we went to Milwaukee with Matt on a business trip. We only went for 2 days, (although he had to stay the week) but we have this tradition of staying at the Holiday Inn Express when we go with him.
It's not exactly "fancy" but it has 2 bedrooms and the kid bedroom has bunk beds. They love it.
But, the real reason we go is for the little waterpark in the hotel. It only has 2 slides, but they are a perfect size for my kids and the slides empty out into water that is shallow, so they can do it alone. We have come here for the last few years with Matt and each time they get more indeendent. It's so great!
The even better part is that no one actually comes to this hotel to swim, apparently, so for the 2 days we were there, we had the pool to ourselves. I mean the whole room was ours!
Granted, the pool is only open 9am-3pm, so the Big Guy couldn't take them swimming at all...we had to do it during his meetings during the day.
I was afraid I'd get water-park-burnout sitting in that room for 2 days, but then I realized something....
They were fine in the pools by themselves as long as I was near them, and I could bring my laptop! So here is where I sat for most of the days. I got in a little, but I got some serious e-mailing done while they swam. It's a heck of a lot better than entertaining them at home!
Sammy didn't get to nap though, which meant that at 5 each evening when we were headed to downtown Milwaukee to get Matt, Sammy would fall asleep in the car. Poor guy.
Here's the Big Guy. My favorite part of going on busines trips with him is looking at him in his suits. He doesn't have to dress up when he goes into the office normally, so I love getting the chance to see him looking so dapper-like.
After eatting giant steaks the first night of the trip, I decided we needed some vegetables in our system, so I found this kid-friendly health food store/cafe called Beans and Barley.
It was perfect. We got hummus and pita and salads and burritos and the kids got a bowl of plain noodles. You have to love a restaurant that knows kids well enough to serve plain noodles with parmesan.
Sammy is physically incapable of making a normal face when we ask him to take a picture.
And, last, but not least, we hit another favorite place: Kopp's Frozen Custard. Oh wow is this stuff good.
They have chocolate and vanilla and then they have two flavors of the day that change constantly. The first day we went the flavors were chocolate/mint and raspberry. Look at this stuff. It is so thick and perfect.
And it is in this ultra-modern ice cream factory-looking place. Aren't the cashier guys precious in their little hats?
They make it in these machines and it comes pouring out constantly so you can see the flavor of the day. And speaking of flavor-of-the-day: look at the Big Guy again in his cute suit. Delicious.
The second day I got banana cream pie flavor. It has toasted coconut and pie crust on it!!! Holy Shamoly.
After two days of constant activity, I had to throw the kids in the car and head back to Chicago. Did you know that the Wizard of Oz, if played in the car on DVD, is the exact length of the trip from Milwaukee to Chicago? Thank you Dorothy!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sammy turns 4

So, my Sam-Sam turned 4 this week. One of my favorite things about little boys is when they wake up from a nap with pink cheeks and bedhead hair; hence, the picture above. We were actually with Matt in Milwaukee (he was there for business) on Sam's actual birthday, so we waited until Friday to do his family birthday at home with Matt.
I made make-your-own taco salad and bought each of the kids a Jarritos to drink with dinner. Sammy loves the idea of having a soda, which we rarely let him do, so I thought he'd be excited if I bought him one to have with dinner.
Supposedly, this Mexican soda is more natural because it has sugar rather than corn syrup, or something like that, but mainly it was just a fun bottle. Matt had to teach him how to drink out of a bottle, but he caught on pretty quickly.
                 
Claire and I had mango and Matt and Sam had lime. Sammy ended up wanting a little of both, so he had about half of mine. I had kinda decided to just let him do whatever he wanted on his birthday night, which was weird because I'm used to correcting him alll....the.....time......so it was kinda refreshing to just let him have som un-reigned-in fun.
                   
I made regular birthday cake out of a box, but then put real whip cream and strawberries on top. Sammy loves whipped cream AND strawberries, but we're both a bit lactose intolerant, so we both regreted it later a little bit.
            
            Sometimes it scares me how much this kid is like me.
      
Claire made Sammy a cute present.
She sewed 6 beanbags, one for each letter of his name, and then we ironed-on the letters. We put the bags in a new sand bucket so that he could have a game of throwing them  into the bucket.
Claire told him the rules to the game, and one is that you get 100 points for each beanbag that gets into the bucket. He LOVED it.
We also got Sammy some tools that are "real". A hammer, level, manual drill, tape measure, and sanding block came with this little red tool box. He was very happy with that as well.
I got him this book as well, which I highly recomend to anyone who has a child interested in all the construction work they see along the road. Sam asks me all the time how the "worker guys" build houses, and this book has simple step-by-step illustrations of how a house is built from the foundation up.
Claire and Sam hammered and drilled things into some boards and boxes for a good hour after the birthday dinner.
Sammy, of course, had to test just HOW hard he could bang things. This box didn't last long.
He kept carrying his stuff around like this saying "I'm a worker guy. Do you need me to build you a house?"
The Big Guy made it through most of the party, but since he had been in Milwaukee all week, he was pooped. The kids didn't care...they kept talking to him and showing him stuff even though he was asleep on the couch,
Oh, on Sammy's actual birthday, we happened upon this kids snowboard at the Salvation Army for a few dollars. He was so pumped.
The guy who lives above us skateboards and snowboards, so he came down and showed Sammy some moves. Here is Sammy doing a trick of jumping over the board with his snowboard. He's pretty good, actually!
Happy Birthday Sammy. We love you.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Sisters, shopping, and sushi, oh my!

So, my big sister came, with her family, to visit last weekend and we had such a good time. Claire and Sammy hadn't seen their cousins in a while (who are the same age as each of them) and we definitely hadn't seen them in Chicago in a while since my brother-in-law is a busy political man these days and can't get much time off of work.
The weather forcast predicted cold and rainy, but it ended up being sunny and fabulous instead, so we took as much advantage of the city as we could and acted like big tourists all weekend.
We rode the "el" (which is the subway here in Chicago) into the city because the kids think that is a big treat. Personally, I'm always afraid Sammy is going to somehow leap in front of the train tracks, so I don't ride the "train" very often, but the kids love it when we do.
The "el" is always fun on the way into the city, but by the time you're done with your downtown activities, I'm always wishing we could grab a cab home because of all the hassle of public transportation.
We also took the bus which the kids loved even more (no seatbelts!). We headed, of course, for Michigan Ave to do the stuff the kids love.
This is my brother-in-law on the phone. He was on the phone most of the morning on a conference call. Luckily, he was able to mute it and just listen most of the time, but he would have to occassionally say things like "Ben is here" or something like that. It seemed so fancy to me.
I think Matt started feeling like maybe he wasn't very fancy after a while of Ben being on the phone. Haha. What? Are you kidding? You're super fancy big guy! Who else would carry our American Girl Store bags around Chicago? Just kidding.
Here we are walking into the American Girl Store mecca of insanity. Notice the brother-in-law still being on the phone. I can't believe he could hear anything while walking through that store.
Claire found her Josephina doll, and the cousins got a few outfit for their dolls. Sammy kept saying "I'm gettin' outta here!"
He did okay though. We kept promising him that we were getting food next, so he hung in there.
I made empanadas for dinner that night, which were pretty good if I do say so myself. My dear friend Bridget helped me with the recipe, and she's an incredible cook, so they were much better than the first time I tried to make them.
We spent Saturday morning at the park with the kids....
....and Sammy was finally in his element. He can go all the way across the monkey bars now, which he's very proud of.
And then, finally, the babysitter came on Saturday night and we grown-ups got the heck out of dodge. We weren't even sure where we were going, but we just wanted a break from the babes. We had such a good time.
We even found a parking spot right up at Rush and Division where it is IMPOSSIBLE to find a spot normally. When we find a parking spot at a meter instead of having to pay for an expensive parking garage Matt is so much happier. So yay! It's always better when the Big Guy is happy.
Laura and I pulled the guys in and out of a few stores that I don't get to frequent usually. Urban Outfitters was the first and then Anthropologie.
I love that store so much I could just move into it! The home stuff and the clothes are so fun. Of course, if I bought everything I wanted to buy there I would have to move into it because I couldn't afford my home anymore.
Sushi was next, but by that time we were exhausted and just wanted to get home so we got our sushi to go and headed back to my house....
...where we were greeted by these houligans who had not gone to sleep for the babysitter. They had the quickest snack ever and then we threw them into their beds so that we could finally devour our sushi.
I can only eat sushi after the kids have gone to bed because I love it so much and I don't want to be distracted while eatting it.
Spider rolls are my new favorite sushi roll. So good. So, so good.
Thanks for coming big sister! And come back soon!