Sunday, September 30, 2012

Day in the City

A few weeks ago, I had the exciting opportunity to run the Chicago Half Marathon with my sister-in-law Domi as she completed her first half marathon. She says she is not a runner, but she trained all summer by herself and I was thrilled that she wanted me to run it with her. We got up early and made it to the race just in time before it started. She did awesome and finished without walking (her goal) in a good time. I was very impressed and so proud of her! Now, I have run a lot of road races in the past few years, but I am still learning new things and I learned something by racing with Domi. She does something that I have never been able to through the water stations. This is a major weakness of mine - I just can't run and drink water so I have to stop, walk and then drink. I watched her do it though and I learned from her. When I did my 20 miles, I used her technique and was very happy with my improvement. I hope I can do it during the marathon too. So, you never know when or from whom you will learn something. So, thank you and Congratulations on a great race Domi - I am so proud of you!!

Unfortunately, Paul and the kids could not come down to watch us because Paul was teaching Sunday school in the morning and then Ben had soccer pictures. But after the pictures, they came down and met up with me as we went to see our good friend Nick, who lives in the city. We had a nice cookout for lunch at his place and then walked to the Lincoln Park Zoo.   This was the view on our short walk from his place to the Zoo...


Just a great shot of the beautiful city of Chicago on a gorgeous fall day.

We have never been to the Lincoln Park Zoo and it was great.  First of all, it is free.  Secondly, it is in the middle of Lincoln Park so you can just walk in and see these great animals in their beautiful exhibits with the backdrop of the city behind you.  The weather was perfect and we just really enjoyed the day.  We saw a lot of gorillas and apes, which are always interesting to watch.  We also saw a Chimpanzee poop, step aside, pick it up and then eat it.  It was disgusting, but the kids thought it was hilarious.  Juliette especially found it funny and she continues to mention it on an almost daily basis.  "Mom, remember when we saw that guy eat his poop?"  We have to remind her it was not in fact a guy, but an animal.  Yeah, fun conversations after that...

Look what other exotic animal we found at the zoo...

Mr. Nick helping Juliette see the jaguar.

Then we went on the merry go round.  Juliette will only go on these if she can sit in a "sled".  Abbey was a bit nervous at first too, so I sat on the sled with the girls while Nick stood by Ben.

Abbey quickly decided (after it started going of course) that she wanted to sit on an animal as long as I held her hand, so I moved between her and Ben and Nick sat with Juliette (who did not want to sit alone).

It's hard to see in this picture, but Ben gives this a big thumbs up!

Juliette was very interested in this little snake.

And we got to see a black bear up close - right on the other side of that glass from the kids!

It was a really great day.  I wish it hadn't taken us all summer to get down to the city to do this, but I am sure we will go back again.  Thanks for inviting us Nick!!
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Random Update

Well, I don't always bring my camera everywhere because it is rather large and cumbersome, so I do end up taking a lot of pictures with my phone as well. The problem is that I don't upload the pictures from my phone that often, so when I do, I remember a lot of things that happened that I forgot to blog about. So, that is when you end up with a blog post like this one...random things that have happened lately all combined into one post! Hope you enjoy!
This is just a cute picture of Juju when she fell asleep after a busy day while watching a movie!

And this is a picture of all the kids and Belle on Juliette's birthday!

Just a cute one I took of the birthday girl on her day.

I know, I already blogged about school starting, but I did take some picture of the kids by their cubbies on orientation day.

And on the first day of school.  This picture is now my screen for my phone - good picture of all 3!

Abbey outside her classroom showing her bear with her name on it!

Now with Juliette in school two mornings a week, I get some time with Abbey!  So we have been enjoying our time taking bike rides, playing dolls, coloring and just having a nice time together!

I am sure there will be a separate blog post about this, but we have slowly been transforming the girls' room into a big girl room.  Abbey's transitioned into her big girl bed first and on the first night, they all wanted to read bed time stories in the bed with her. 

I know I already blogged about Ben being a Tiger Scout, but here is a cute picture of the big Tiger with his awesome Den Leader!

As mentioned above, we first put Abbey in her big girl bed, but we were still working on the other bed because it needed to be painted.  I will explain the beds in another post once their room is complete, but for now, just know that Juliette's bed took a lot longer and so she stayed in her "cradle" (as she calls it) for a while longer.  She did learn, however, how to crawl out of it and into it safely.  And on several occasions, when I would go in to check on the girls before I went to bed, this is what I would find...

This is just too cute.  These girls really love each other!  I don't know why they didn't sleep in Abbey's bed though - it would have been a bit more roomy!

Something else I failed to blog about was Paul's birthday.  Unfortunately, it sort of got lost in the shuffle this year.  It was the day after our camping trip, so everyone was very tired and cranky.  We didn't really celebrate that night because he had a bunch of guys over for a poker night.  So I spent much of the day cleaning while the kids napped, but I think he had fun playing poker with his friends.  With the craziness of that weekend, I didn't even have time to make him a cake.  Luckily, one of his friends (who has triplets in Ben's class that had a birthday the day before) brought over an almost whole cake from one of his kids to the poker night (they had a cake for each kid, so they were looking to get rid of some cake!).  That worked out well for us as Paul was able to have some cake on his birthday, even if it wasn't his favorite carrot cake.  There was only about one piece missing from this cake and so it seemed silly to bake another one and waste it (Paul hates wasting food).  So the next night, we put candles in the cake and sang to Paul.  Here is "his" birthday cake!  Sorry honey, I really failed on this least it is a Chicago Bears cake - something you like!!  I love you and hope your birthday was still fun...we camped on your birthday so I know you enjoyed that at least!!

Just a cute picture of Abbey ready for her dance class!
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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tiger Scout Camping Trip!

Last weekend was quite busy for us. First thing Saturday morning, I ran an organized 20 mile training run close to our house as my last long run before the marathon. It was pretty good in that it was a race-like setting with water and gatorade stops along the way. I did pretty well and was happy with my run, but no time to linger on that thought! After a quick stretch, I drove straight to Ben's soccer game and watched him play hard. Then it was straight from soccer to football. Ben had to change in the car and I had packed him a quick lunch to eat on the drive over. He had to be at football 45 minutes early to warm up and practice, so that gave me just enough time to run home and grab a quick shower before making it back for the start of the game. I will blog later about football and soccer this season. After the game (which they did so well in), it was a quick stop at home to pack up the car and head out to our first Tiger Scout camping trip!

Ben is officially a Tiger Scout (which comes before cub scouts and then boy scouts). So far he is loving it and Paul is too. Paul has been waiting for this day pretty much since we found out we were expecting a baby boy when I was pregnant! He quickly stepped up with another good friend of ours to be the Den Leaders (seeing as how he is an Eagle Scout, he is well qualified for the job)! And they had a pack camp out pretty much right away. The whole family was invited to camp out (you can imagine my excitement upon learning this) and we all decided to go (some of us more reluctantly than others).  So, first thing we did when we got there was to set up the tent!  By the way, I am using the term "we" here, but I had no part of it really...

Everyone else helped though.  Juliette was keeper of the stakes and would give one to Daddy whenever he needed it and Abbey helped hammer down the stakes.

Hi Juliette!

They had ropes courses set up for the kids to do.

And since Paul only had a back packing tent, we borrowed this one from a friend.  It looks a little sketchy, but it worked great for us.  And, my very good friend who knows me too well brought an air mattress for me and the girls to sleep on!  She told me she was worried I would not make it through the night without it and I think she was right!  Sleeping on the air mattress between the girls was fine, but I was pretty cold throughout the night and spent most of the night switching between the girls and cuddling them to make sure they were warm enough and trying to stay warm myself!  I think if I had been warmer, I might actually have slept ok.

So here are the Tiger Scouts and since it was their first event, they were awarded their kerchiefs and slides and handbooks in a little ceremony.

Here is Ben getting his stuff...

The girls had a lot of fun with their friends (again, lots of younger siblings that they know and play with often).

The food was fine, although slightly disappointing to Paul.  In the morning, someone ran out to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast.  Although the kids liked this (look at their line below), I think Paul was disappointed they didn't do more cooking over the fire...perhaps next time...

There was a fire though and we did do smores the night before, which was fun.

Abbey enjoying her orange juice in the morning!

The girls really had fun.

It actually wasn't too terrible.  Don't get me wrong, it's not something I would really choose to do or do often, but if the conditions were right I could go again if my son begged me to :)
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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

1st Grade Field Trip!!

Well, since I am the room mom of Ben's class this year, that means I get to go on the field trips! So, I got to go apple picking with the class a few weeks ago!  Here is Ben at his desk and his table in the class room before we left.

This is all the 1st graders eagerly awaiting the school  bus (did I mention how exciting it is to them to ride a school bus?)!

Ben and his twin buddies Finn and PJ!

We had a fantastic day - couldn't have asked for better weather!

We separated into small groups.  There are 15 kids in Ben's class, so I took 5 and we went to search for the best apples.

This is Ben's class with his teacher Ms. Garrison.

This is the whole 1st grade group.  There are 3 1st grade classes this year and we are very happy that the school decided to add the third class so our class size is so small. 

All in all, a great day.  We brought home a bag of apples and it has been fun to see all that Ben has been learning in school about apples.
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