Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Playing catch-up...again!

I've spent most of today trying to do things that I can control to make up for things that I can't control that are driving me crazy (translation: we've had some unhappy news about Neil's work and I've spent too much time crying). So now that my course sites are prepped and ready for fall, and I ran my 8 miles for today and the house is clean and the laundry is folded and the 'fridge is stocked--and all the sick kids are finally asleep--I'm turning to blogging catch-up to keep my worries at bay. And to not think about the fact that we were supposed to leave for Utah today. :-(

Also--I am really terrible at remembering to bring my camera/put the battery in the camera this summer. So many missed photo ops (Conner Prairie, I'm looking at you!).

For the record, we spent a really amazing day at Conner Prairie--a living history museum that replicates life on the prairie in the 1830s--a few weeks ago. One of my favorite highlights was watching the girls play (by invitation from one of the actors) on the 200-year-old piano that sits in one of the homes of the "wealthy citizens" in town. Another highlight: playing stick and hoop with the kids, walking around on stilts, watching their delight as they pumped water for a vegetable garden and hauled heavy boxes from a Conestoga to the storekeeper's back room (he paid them with lengths of ribbon and oh my heavens, it was the most exciting thing ever!).

Conner Prairie is a fun place. We love it!

We made blueberry jam and cherry jam one afternoon. Abigail had a playdate, but Isaac, Jules, and Luke worked their little hearts out pitting cherries and stirring jam.

The girls and I took a little road trip to spend a weekend with my sister, who just moved to Chicago. We sat in traffic for a looong time. Enough to take selfies.

But if you have to sit in traffic somewhere, Lakeshore Drive is a pretty darn scenic place to do it!

We had an amazing weekend with her--she took us out for sushi & curry the first night we arrived and we got to walk all over her cute neighborhood (she lives in my favorite part of Chicago--Lincoln Park!). Abigail wowed us all with her love of sushi and I even tried my first legit raw-fish sushi (so, so, so good! Nice to not be pregnant or nursing!). Then we went to a bookstore and Mary Beth told the girls they could each pick out a book--they were in heaven! And then we stopped by a bakery for some sweet treats and then home to bed.

The next morning I got up and had a gorgeous but super hot 10-mile run along the lake--I was SO glad I'd done my long run earlier in the week so I was done early! Then we took the L to the Field Museum (taking the L was probably the most exciting thing that had ever happened in Abigail's life and the most terrifying in Juliet's), and wandered around happily for a few hours.

We found a honey badger that reminded us of Nathan ("honey badger just does what he wants!").

The girls (sort of) humored me by posing in front of the triceratops where I make them pose every time we visit the Field. 

 Jules was feeling pretty crummy by this point (poor kid spent today throwing up with a fever) but she was such a good sport.

After a few hours the girls were really tired, so we meandered out of the museum, stopped for some delicious ice-cream goodies from a vendor on the museum steps, and caught the water taxi back to Navy Pier. We sat down and the heavens opened in a fine example of a Midwest thunderstorm and drenched us all! By the time we made it back to the bus that would take us from the pier to the L we were so sodden it was comical.

But oh, that gorgeous gorgeous skyline! Totally worth getting soaked.

We were all tired and footsore and cold, so we stopped off at Whole Foods on our walk back to her apartment and picked up some goodies for dinner. Predictably, we picked up what Neil refers to as
"[My maiden name] Vacation Special" because salami, bread, and cheese were pretty much the given choices for any meal we ate on vacation as kids. (We also added a spinach salad with smoked Gouda, apples, and bacon, fresh strawberries, a dry-aged salami, chipotle cheddar cheese, more Gouda, and a couple bread options. I kind of love eating with my family!)

And I'm wishing I had better pictures of my sister's apartment because it is gorgeous!! But I left my camera battery plugged into the charger, so every photo of the weekend is from her iPhone and taken at my behest (which probably got really annoying...thanks for putting up with me!!). :-)

Backtracking a bit--we made 4th of July fireworks shirts. So fun!

And got really really really dirty setting off a gazillion fireworks. My dad came down to visit us for the weekend (my mom is out in Utah right now helping out with two new babies! So exciting!) and because he's my dad and he's awesome he bought a ton of fireworks, all of which we set off on the 3rd because he had to go back home before the night of the 4th.

But the kids loved them so much that back they went to the fireworks store the next day and got more. :-)

We had such a great time with my dad--he is always so fun! He drove down really early Friday morning--I was actually still out running (and pepper-spraying myself in the face but that's another story). So when I got back he & Neil had the kids all loaded up on bikes and were headed out for an adventure! Neil went to work and then we spent the day hanging out and having fun, then when Neil got home we started the fireworks party, which lasted until about 10:30 or so. Then the next day we went hiking, bought more fireworks, had more fun party, etc. until Dad left and we went down to campus to watch & wait for the big fireworks (which were spectacular as always), then back home for our neighborhood fireworks (which were surprisingly spectacular as always), then tried to sleep through the booming. Ah, perks of living in a state without fireworks laws...

And guess who is now six! This really deserves its own post, so hopefully that will happen but maybe not.

The night before Isaac's birthday, Neil took Isaac and Luke to one of those places filled with inflatables. They had a pretty good time (except Luke was scared of anyone smaller than him and would hide from younger kids. Poor Luke; Nathan is not an easy person to live with!). 

As always, we celebrated his birthday with a crepe-a-palooza for dinner. Happy Bastille Day! Yum yum yum!

And after the crepes, the lemon meringue pie! (He was much more excited than he looks in this photo post-candles.)

Every single gift my little Isaac received was engineering-based. He has all kinds of fun making his own radio (he was SO THRILLED that he could listen to "All Things Considered"; that kid is a total NPR fanatic), launching fans, making all kinds of horribly loud fire-engine/spaceship/bomb noises, building all kinds of remote-controlled vehicles that he then zooms around the house, building and firing miniature catapults, etc. Total heaven for my builder son!

Other notables:

We got rid of our high chair! Yippeeeeeee!

Funny kids spent an afternoon kowtowing to King Tot ("get it, Mom? Like King Tut, but it's King TOT!").

I finally had a chance to get fabric for Nathan's quilt and had it on his bed less than 48 hours later; he was so thrilled and kept taking us by the hand to lead us in and show off his "reeree pretty quilt!"

Lots of yoga going on over here. One day the kids all got obsessed with the same pose (Wheel) and were doing it Like it was impossible not to trip over someone who was staring up at you from the floor. 

Funny Luke borrowed my sunglasses one day and then fell asleep. 

We tried our hand at making spring rolls for dinner one night--they were a huge hit! The kids loved them and this is reminding me that we should make them for lunch one of these days.

We're following a pretty consistent pattern here--three weeks sick, three weeks off, then sick again. I am so not a fan. Poor has not been much of a summer between all of the fevers and the throwing up and the rain...the never-ending, NEVER-ENDING constant rain that has completely slaughtered all of the baby plants in our garden. July 22 and we still have not even been to the pool this year--it's just been too cold and wet (it finally warmed up this week but we are home-bound again with the fever/vomiting/rash goodness). 

This photo is so old, but I made a really fun dinner for Father's Day! It was Moroccan-themed and we had kebabs, fresh pita, fattoush, couscous, green chile relish, red-bean hummus, and tzatziki. Just looking at this photo makes me hungry!

And speaking of photos that make me hungry, I'll live you with this one. My raspberry plant was so good to me this spring (before the rain ruined all the berries).

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