Blog Archives for category Friends & Family

Waiting for her friend…

Katie had gone to see if Sophia could come out and play but she was having quiet time but could come out in a bit. Katie decided to just sit and wait. 

Last campfire before school

We wanted to have a fire with Papa and Grannie but needed some firewood so we actually found some free on NextDoor… Yay!

The kids caught a few lightning bugs (it’s in there, trust me).

After we made s’mores we got the fire going a bit crazy. 

The kids finally settled down and were cuddling of their own free will. 

Then they were trying to read by bug light. 

Blue Man Group in Chicago!

I’ve always wanted to see Blue Man Group and when I mentioned it to Grannie she said they’d like to go, too…so it was off to Chicago! Photos weren’t allowed during the show so this is all I got beforehand.

The kids absolutely loved it and they immediately asked if they could see it again. :)

Crazy woman driver!

She loves her new power wheels! She was chasing Papa around and then driving crazy circles around the yard. 

Happy 16th Anniversary!

Waiting for Tom to get home and enjoying the weather on the front porch. 


Of course we had to start with a traditional anniversary selfie. :)

Our dinner of choice this year was…sushi! This was called the Willis Tower and had layers of crab salad, sushi rice, avocado, spicy tuna, and a few sauces. You ate it with a spoon!

We couldn’t decide between three rolls so let the waiter choose for us. Why yes, that IS gold leaf on there (right).

We wanted dessert and were trying to decide where to go. Our waiter, knowing it was our anniversary, said he’d give us a mochi on the house. We’d never had it, but were game to try it—all we knew is that it would be strawberry flavor. This is what came out: it was strawberry ice cream on the inside. It was tasty but not quite what we had in mind. (I Googled later and learned that mochi is a Japanese rice cake made of mochigome, a short-grain japonica glutinous rice. The rice is pounded into paste and molded into the desired shape.)

So we headed toward home and somehow ended up at The Chocolate Sanctuary where we both indulged in our own desserts! (We rarely get dessert and when we do it’s shared between all for of us.)

Tom had Pecan Bourbon Crème Brulé (Jim Beam infused crème brulée with toasted pecans, topped with toasted meringue and Sanctuary caramel) and I had S’mores Dark Chocolate (Dark chocolate flourless cake with toasted meringue, cocoa graham cracker sable, cocoa graham crumble, Sanctuary spiced caramel, and cocoa-candied bacon).

We may also have let it known it was our anniversary (the couple across from us was celebrating their 38th!) so we may have also indulged in free champagne and raspberry chocolates. 💕

And then this was waiting for us when we got home. (Well, they actually weren’t quite finished when we walked in so we were forcefully instructed to go wait upstairs!)

The kids helped Grannie make rice krispie treats (decorated with our cake topper!) and they drew and colored a sign. They were so excited to surprise us.

It’s kind of hard to see, but they drew and colored lots of wedding-related things (my ring and flowers, the train, the cake, the horse and carriage) as well as some of our favorite things (Petoskey stone, a saw, dolphins). We loved it! And then of course we had to have a bite of still-warm rice krispie bars!!

It was a good day. :)

Aquatic Center Fundraiser

Papa and Grannie took the kids to the local aquatic center for a school fundraiser while Tom and I went out for our anniversary. I sent them with our waterproof camera!

Third grade open house!

Papa went with us while Grannie stayed home with Katie. Owen’s classroom is on the second floor. They have a multitude of desk areas—they have standing desks, bean bags, lap desk, etc…so the kids can figure out where they work the best. They also sit in a different seat each day.

Mrs. Gradner—I love her already!

Wiley, the school mascot.

And a few random pics of his classroom.

Facebook, friends, and scallops—oh my!

I had a major kitchen crisis (nothing fits anywhere and I was losing my mind) and jokingly asked on Facebook if anyone wanted to come help me figure it out…

And Jami volunteered! And then was serious! (She lives about 1:30 away so it wasn’t completely insane.)

She’s an amaaaaazing cook and has bragged about her perfect scallops so, since I LOVE SCALLOPS, she brought them to teach me how to do it! So I learned how to make perfect scallops with a saffron wine sauce on fresh spinach Fettuccini. It was divine!! Of course, she also brought snacks and wine…and a cast iron pan and avocado cooking oil and cream because my kitchen isn’t up to par yet.

They were so beautiful they really deserve a full-size shot:

She had brought cookies to Owen and Katie. When she handed them out, age called them by name. Katie asked how she knew her name and I said she knew her from the day she was born. (I had told the kids previously that Jami was from the same group of friends as Uncle Eddy, Aunt Sheryl, Miss Nancy, and the whole group of people that came to our house a few times). 

Owen waited on his cookie, but Katie was all in. 



Owen being silly after tasting other desserts.


Then we played with makeup a bit, did an unplanned Facebook Live video, she bought two new lip colors and a blush, and we drank wine.

I had to get creative since we forgot to keep it chilled. Yes, that plastic ice cube is from a boo-boo bunny. 


Oh yes, we did also get some kitchen stuff figured out (also with Linda’s help).

Eagerly waiting for Grannie and Papa. 


Dinner, wine, and s’mores with the neighbors. 

Our two next door neighbors could not be more welcoming. Aside from letting our kids play together all the time, this happened tonight…

Stacey came to collect her kids and I happened to mention that Tom was gone so I was ready to pop the wine and she said her husband was going to be really late so we should do a patio dinner. Yes, please! She would do hot dogs and pizza sticks and I’d bring wine and fruit. She even had frozen peaches for the wine! The middle neighbor, Ines, joined us and felt guilty for not bringing anything, so she offered s’mores at their house after! Yes, please!!

Braving Chicago, Day 2: Shedd Aquarium

Starting the day with bear hugs.

Going into the pool (aka basement) for breakfast.

Arriving at Soldier Field after parking in the garage (it’s kitty corner from the aquarium).

Waiting patiently while we get our free (!!) tickets! 


Getting ready for a 4-D movie short.

Do you know what these are?

How about now?

Shark eggs!

We got a stranger to take our group pic…

But of course I had to do a selfie!

After a somewhat agonizing drive home through rush hour traffic, we arrived to this:

I’m glad we got to see our friends, but after two full days in Chicago I cannot understand how people there don’t go postal. Between traffic, bikers, and congestion, I had a headache almost the entire time I was in a car plus I got stuck in rush hour coming home today so that made it a sucky ending. I understand there is a crap ton to do there but it’s just not for me. So I was right, I will be visiting even less then I visited DC because at least DC was only 20 minutes away. Caitlin, I love you, but next year you’re coming to the ‘burbs. :) :heart:

I wouldn’t brave Chicago traffic for just anyone.

My good friend Caitlin (that I just had to leave in Virginia) and her kids came to Chicago (they were already in Indianapolis) so we drove down to explore some touristy stuff with them. I hate traffic and congestion so it was a mini nightmare for me… But I did it.

Our first stop was the Museum of Science and Industry…where we spent seven hours (egads, I know). The kids had fun but it was a long day.

At the Toy Maker area, it cost $5 to get your own personalized gravitron—and you could watch as it passed through each station. It was cooler than we thought it would be.

There was a Fault (you can’t see the red light on in the photo) so the human operator had to come in and fix it.

And I was thinking it was just a top but it’s a gyroscope—so much cooler than a top. They had a little station to test it out so we all played with it. Then it was back to the exhibits.

Katie got to create her own fireworks display!

Wind tunnel! Owen wanted no part of it (even though he had to do it at the $2 machine in Virginia at swim lessons).


I should have recorded more of this—the kids had an absolute blast with it:

Ice cream for lunch because why not?!

The kids loved the big tractors SOOO much.

If you stood still, butterflies would land on your shadow.

Then it was finally time to head to the hotel… The drive was a bit precarious with all the traffic and insane bikers…but we all made it in one piece. The hotel was really neat—it was all sports-themed and the rooms were like dorms.

And then after a brief rest, it was off to Navy Pier! The kids really wanted to do the Ferris wheel (like we did at National Harbor).

After we walked around a bit, it was time for dinner—and we wanted to sit down and waste time since we had to wait until the fireworks at 9:30. I figured I deserved this:

The traffic wasn’t actually that bad getting out after the fireworks (thank heavens for small favors) and soon we were back at the hotel, where the kids were all super excited to sleep on the top bunks!!

The kids finally quieted down around 11 and Caitlin and I stayed up chatting until almost 12:30.

First time at the water park!

Our neighbors invited us to the water park and we eagerly accepted. Unfortunately I didn’t have my waterproof camera so missed being able to take pics of the little ones going down the kiddie slide and Owen going down the big water slide! This was the only pic I got of them—the other two were off playing in the grass.

Also unfortunately the day was cut short because of weather. Kind of. There were darkish clouds in the sky…

And apparently Katie has now turned into Maggie and completely freaks out at just the mere thought of dark clouds and potential rain so she was a hot mess crying to go home. I put it off as long as I could but when it actually started to sprinkle ever-so-slightly out was game over.   

Returning mail leads to this. 

The neighbor kids brought over our mail which then led to our kids going to play at their house. About a half hour later the mom and I had this text exchange:

Stacey: Girls are putting on a concert on the trampoline.
Me: I’ll be over.

I walked in to them jumping in tutus (of course there was an outfit change—there’s always an outfit change). :) So we just sat and talked while all four kids played and rode in the power wheels. 

Ahhhhh, neighbors. ❤️

   

It pays to know the owner. 

Shopping before the store opens…the benefits of being related to the owner. We brought home 18 packs of brats!!

   

Len Summer Christmas 2017

Nick and Gracie making Christmas M&Ms (the rest went into Lisa’s monster cookies).

Just a few brats to cook…

All the kids like to fish but they say Aubrey is the one who loves it the most and is the best at it. She apparently gives lessons to other kids at their house!

Katie caught a fish!

Someone took an unplanned jump into the river (learning you can’t walk on lily pads):

Drying off…

I think this picture is a tradition.

And the mandatory annual family Christmas photo! Every year they give us grief about taking it… And this year with the craziness of the move I didn’t post it immediately and they were all asking about it!! So there. :p

And the annual kid comparison—Katie is getting closer to Aubrey but Aubrey is still ahead (which should be the case, as she’s almost 9). And as usual, Owen is definitely taller than Gracie…

But I think he beats Nick this year!!


Last year:

More fishing!

After a campfire and s’mores it was time for bed. The kids decided to all sleep in the living room… Poor Timmy. :)

 

The smell and taste of my childhood.

We made plans to pick up some of our favorite sausage before the Len Summer Christmas started. My family has been getting the amazing smoked and fresh sausage here for 60 years! It’s the smell and taste of my childhood! 💕

 

   

Owen’s treat with Gramma!

Owen was bummed that Katie got a small present from Gramma at the art fair but there weren’t any “boy things” for him to get so Gramma promised to take him out to buy something at the store. I jumped in to suggest an experience instead of a thing and they were both good with that. We ended up getting ice cream at a shop downtown and eating it in the gazebo. And he told Gramma he wanted a day with her for his birthday like Katie had!!

Own patiently waiting at the wine store. 

 

This is what happens when both kids have dirty feet at bedtime.

Gramma to the rescue… Giving them both a quick bath. There was a lot of laughing and shrieking. :)

 

Sparklers!