Monday, April 20, 2015

The Great Staycationn 2015

Last Tuesday, Frank left work at noon, beginning The Great Staycation 2015. This was the first time Frank has ever taken a few consecutive days off with nothing planned, so it was an epic event.

Tuesday afternoon, we went to the ISU Men's baseball game vs. the University of Illinois Unbeknownst to us, they were holding a pack-the-place event, and the game had a record high attendance of over 1900 people.

The kids liked it, but it's hard to keep their attention at something like that, so we headed out for dinner.  Our choice that night was the Market Grille inside our newly-opened HyVee where kids ate free at a special "Knee-High Buffet."

How weird is is that we were essentially eating inside a grocery store?  And how much weirder is it that we really liked it?!

On Wednesday, Frank took Jacob to school and picked him up.  That's one of those things that I've been doing several times a week for two years now, so I don't think it's exciting, but both Frank and Jacob thought it was pretty cool for dad to go through the drop off lane this time.

Thursday afternoon brought awesome weather, so we were outside playing, biking, and gardening for hours.  Around 4:30, our neighbor texted and asked us to come hang out.  They were outside as well, and within an hour, we had added more adults and kids to the mix.  The kids had a great time riding bikes and rollerbades and playing with sidewalk chalk.  We were able  to meet one of our newer neighbors, and thoroughly enjoyed talking, sipping wine, and watching the kids play.  Before we all disbanded, we decided that "Driveway Sitting" should be a weekly Friday evening event in our neighborhood!

Friday was the day we had planned to go to Scovill Children's Zoo in Decatur.  The weather was perfection in the high 70s/low 80's by the time we arrived in the late morning.

This zoo had a children's area where the kids could pet goats, chickens, and sheep.  They just had some new baby goats born, and they were adorable!  Neither of my kids wanted to pet them, though.

We continued looking at (and posing with) the animals.  That dang white peacock dive-bombed me about two seconds after that picture was taken!

The highlight of the zoo was definitely the train ride.

Who doesn't love a train ride?!

Cartie looooves train rides!

We then spent a while playing at the park attached to the zoo. Different parks are always a hit.

That evening, in keeping with the "Food Frank Likes" theme for the week (We also had homemade pizza and Chinese), I we had grilled steak, mac and cheese, and kale salad.  Oh, and ice cream sandwiches.

Can't forget the ice cream sandwiches.

Our Saturday was also spent outside.  Running, walking, biking, gardening.  Lots of dirt-digging. The adults didn't even shower until late afternoon!

The Great Staycation 2015 was a roaring success! We soaked up every bit of sunshine and had a great time doing everything and nothing all at once.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Spring Things

Kindergarten Registration 

Mama is simultaneously thrilled and saddened by this one.  Jacob is all thrilled, :)

Our First Outdoor Lunch of the Season

Because everything is better when you can eat outside!

A Zoo Trip

Carter refused to take off his sunglasses that day, even indoors.  He wasn't so sure about the meerkat, either.

The Return of Shadow's Little Friends

And by "little friends," I mean her arch nemesis, the bunnies, whom she follows all around the backyard, moving from window to window.  Quite the hunter she is.  (Except she would have no idea what to do if she caught one!)

Celebrating an Early Easter

The kids were choosing some treats with Grandma!

Lunch at Giant City Lodge

It was a fun time, but it would have been more fun if a certain two-year old wasn't acting like a... well, like a two-year old.  (As I was typing this, he looked at the picture, gave me a big smile and said, "I know that day. I wasn't behavin'!)

A Little Shirtless Guitar-Playing

(In his Paw Patrol pj bottoms, no less!))

Laughing at My Sad-Faced Shark

So this headband with a shark fin came in a kids meal, and Frank put it on Carter.  Apparently, he didn't want it on because his bottom lip came out in his trademark "sad face." He does "sad face" when he wants sympathy.  Poor little shark...

Beautiful, Chilly Sunsets

I can't wait to see the first shoots of green corn popping up in that field.  I love the fall here, but I love the spring, too.

Random Acts of Kindness

I went to college with a girl named Amber, who passed away a few months ago from triple-negative breast cancer.  Her husband maintains a Facebook site where people are encouraged to do random acts of kindness in her memory.  April 1 would have been her birthday, so on that day, the kids and I filled treat bags with balloons, along with a tag explaining Amber's website, and passed them out to the kids in our neighborhood.

Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Road Trip!

A couple of weeks ago, I loaded up the kids, and we took a little road trip to Champaign.  We originally planned to go to the Indoor Playground at the First Christian Church, which is a-mazing. Unfortunately, their hours have changed a bit since the last time we were there, and they're no longer open on Fridays.  Of course, it  was a Friday... so we decided to check out a new play area at Windsor Road Christian Church.  (What's with chuirches opening play areas?  Is that a "thing" now?)

Anyway, I knew this play area was much smaller, but we're all pretty easily entertained, especially during the last days of winter.

I used to attend Windsor Road (albiet infrequently) when I lived in Champaign, and it was such an odd feeling going in the door now as a married lady with two kids; one of those moments where you realize how much your life has changed in such a short time.

The playground done in a Road Rally theme, and the space is small but well-allocated.  There is one big slide.

Haha, everybody decided to be tough guys, going down backwards and hanging on the bars.

There is also a smaller structure, which unsurprisingly, Carter was more interested in than Jacob.

Then we realized that there were tons of Legos under the hood of this "truck." My kids aren't really into Legos, but I can imagine some kids would have a blast just sitting here and building.

I made some Lego cars for them, and being able to race cars down the slide gave it a whole new use.

Another thing we really liked was this climbing structure.

Such a monkey!

The other really cool area was a huge traffic cone with pillows and a furry rug.  To me, it looks like a great area to read books, but since we didn't bring any books, the kids crawled through it and they were done.

There was a nice, new coffee bar area off the play area, so we went out there and had a snack.  They also had a complimentary coffee bar set up, which was awesome.  By the time we finished our snack, approximately 45 billion kids had taken over the play area.  Seriously.  So the kids even agreed it was time to be done.

Overall, I give the space an A for effort.  In the middle of winter, it's great to have somewhere indoors to take your kid that isn't McDonald's, so props to Windsor Road for allowing this space for community use.  I would say the play area is best suited for kids who are preschool-age and younger. Would we come here again?  Although I probably wouldn't make the drive specifically to go to this play area, it would be a fun place to stop if we were already in town for another reason.  My kids always enjoy playing somewhere new!

Monday, March 2, 2015

10 Things

It's been a while since I've done one of these kind of posts, so here goes...

1. I am a sucker for anything labeled, "Limited Time." Oreos, that are yellow for a limited time for spring?  Must. Have.

2.  In 2005, I had a job interview at a physician recruiting firm on the same street at Frank's office.  We were less than two blocks apart that morning, but we wouldn't meet for another two years.

3.  When I was 15, I was in a car accident with two of my best girlfriends and three of our best guy friends on our way to a Valentine's dance.  We jumped a ditch and hit a telephone pole... none of us were wearing seatbelts.  Somehow we all managed to walk away with nothing more than scratches and bruises, and from that day on, I have worn my seatbelt religiously, even if I'm doing nothing more than backing the car out of the garage to wash it.

4.  I use some of the words my kids say/have said incorrectly as actual vocabulary.  For example, instead of shaving, both kids say, "razing."  As in, "Daddy is razing his whiskers." (Because what should a razor do?  It should raze.  Silly English language.)  Carter has also flipped the contraction "I'm" with the possessive "my," and he'll say, "My coming with you!" Rather than, "I'm coming with you." That flip miiiight have worked it's way into my vocabulary as well.  (Only with family, though!)

5.  I don't like Indian food.  Truthfully, I haven't tried many dishes, but I'm not a fan of the ones I've tried.

6.  If I start a house project, it will have one of two endings. First ending- it will make me realize I need to do a whole bunch of additional projects; or Second ending- I will completely screw it up, and there will be lots of tears and drama until I figure out how to fix it.

7.  As a sophomore in college, I was hired as a student worker in the Office of the Chair of the School of Business.  I was so proud because it was the first job I felt I'd gotten on my own, and not because my boss knew my dad.

8.  I prefer fruit flavored candy over chocolate candy.  My favorite candies are, Jolly Ranchers, Starburst, and jellybeans.

9.  Every year especially around this time, I dream of going to the Iris show at the Chicago Botanic Garden or to the Tulip Time Festival in Holland, Michigan.  One day...

10.  Everyone assumes I hate having my picture taken because there are so few pictures of me.  The truth is, I don't mind having my picture taken, but I'm usually behind the camera! This weekend, I needed to update my "professional" pic, so here is one of the outtakes!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Key Lime Cove- A Recap

Being from Illinois, we are hardy souls.  We can drive our cars through snow and slush; we deal with boots, mittens, and hats; and we resign ourselves to being cold and pasty white until at least April (at which time I will just become less cold and less pasty white).

A change of scenery helps, though, and a tropical getaway-- even if it's just to the pretend tropics-- definitely helps. Last weekend, Frank, Jacob, and I went up to the indoor water park resort Key Lime Cove in Gurnee, IL.

Grandma Anna and Grandpa Gary generously offered to stay with Carter that weekend because Carter hates waterparks... and vacations... and anything remotely fun and/or non-routine.

This was our third trip to Key Lime Cove  (See previous trip recaps here and here.).  I think we comment every year about how much easier this year was compared to previous, but really, going with a 5 year old is a breeze.

As soon as we arrived, we put on our swim suits and hit the water park.

This year was the first year that Jacob was big enough for the big waterslides, and also the first year that Frank and I got to enjoy the slides and lazy river.




We had a lot of fun on this play structure.

We played all afternoon, and then went back to the room to get ready for dinner.  Some of the best perks of the resort are the fact that there are so many amenities on-property, and everything can be charged to your room via your wristband.  It is awesome not having to get in the car and be cold again! Going to dinner in sandals is a luxury I haven't had since last summer!

It's like the restaurant knew I was coming!

A nice gentleman at the neighboring table offered to take this picture of Frank and me

Jacob was OVER having his own, personal paparazzi!

After dinner went back to the water park and played on some of the smaller slides and in the wave pools.  This was the first year I really felt like we got our money's worth out of the water park area. By the time we left, we were prunes!

Then we cleaned up (again) and walked around a bit

and found a few souvenirs.

We went back to the room at this point, and Jacob put on his PJs.  I thought he might like going back downstairs to get ice cream in his PJs, and he did! He thought he was hot stuff walking the halls in his "sleepy-pants."

By this time, Frank and I were tired, and thought Jacob would probably crash once we went back to the room.  Oh, how naive we were! When there are beds to bounce on, who needs sleep?!

Finally, around 9:30. we declared lights out.

The next morning, since the pool didn't open until 10, and we needed to leave before then, we went down to play some arcade games.  For the most part, he was content to sit and "drive" most of the games.

Notice the credit in the picture below?  Still a cheap date!

There were some games we actually did play, though.  Frank and Jacob are big air hockey fans

I just loved their intense looks of concentration:

Then Jacob figured out that if he blocked the goal with his forearm, Frank wouldn't be able to score. Little cheater!

Frank is also teaching him how to play ski-ball.

It was a really nice weekend!  I definitely love this tropical, Florida Keys vibe of this resort, especially in the middle of winter.  It was just the getaway we needed!