Monday, February 29, 2016

The Great Blizzard of 2016

We live in flat-land USA, which means any time snow+wind comes on to the scene, things get shut down. This happens about once a year. The SNOW may not be of great magnitude but the conditions get "blizzard-y" quite quick. So, snow day it was! With Mike on the road, the kids and I were in it for the long haul to ride the day out. And it really went quite well!

We had just gone to the library the day before to check out a couple Disney movies as we make our way through the Disney line-up in anticipation for our trip later this year. The kids haven't seen the classics, so we popped in Cinderella to kick it off! Even though Troy talked a big game about "the princesses", he sat quietly and watched the whole thing. Cass too :)

With a few position changes of course.

This was the scene outside.

I pretty much told myself anything that they wanted to do that did NOT involve electronics was going to be a yes from me that day. "Mom i want to paint." Ok cool. Then there was this spontaneous "car wash" game at the bathroom sink for nearly an hour. Cass got the cars, one by one, and Troy washed them in his waterfall. Literally all I needed was one big towel at the end for some splash clean up but they'd done a great job! An hour, people!

Troy went into GSD (get stuff done) mode and there was no stopping him. He asked if he could do the laundry. He did a great job sorting and laying it out while I watched from the living room! I'm sure it *seems* like that's all I'm doing when I fold.

Of course, we played with babies. But (gasp!) they got clothes on during the blizzard day. May the days of naked babies be coming to a close!?

Overall it was fantastic. I am glad Mike wasn't traveling on this particular day. I'm glad we didn't *have to* go anywhere. And I hope that is the one and ONLY blizzard warning we have this winter. Bring on spring!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

St Louis Road Trip - Day 3

Woke up ready for some family fun on the third day of our trip! Another day of breakfast at the hotel. My kids love hotel breakfast. Its like a smorgasboard of delight for them. Chocolate milk. Fruit galore. Bacon to Troy's heart's content. Haha.

Then another trip to the pool! This little lady looks SO grown up here.

Daddy is prime BDE (Best Daddy Ever) mode :) Love him.

The things he does for his family. Swimming is NOT a fav of his, lol.

Then it was time to check out and head over to see "Big Doug". Doug the dinosaur. (Realizing now how this day mimicked almost exactly the Sunday we were there last February!) Cass developed a fondness for Doug this weekend, so she was Doug's "keeper" at the museum. I love how she's holding him up, so as to introduce them, when we arrived.

And he stayed rather close most of the trip :)

While the kids dug for fossils....

We relaxed under the shadow of a giant moving T-Rex...

Cass LOVED this tornado exhibit this year.

And Troy LOVED the science shows that happened hourly. We went to two of them. This was the first. I'm not sure what he's asking/answering here, but he was very into it.

And I think we were all impressed with the dancing fire in the "fire" show we saw later that day. 

He hadn't been posing for pics for me this day until right before we left. This was the closest I'd get to one of him with "Big Doug" this year :)

The kids and I dropped Mike off at the airport and got to heading home. The number one rule of any travel anywhere, with kids of any age must be flexibility. We had totally wonky mealtimes that day, and this was our 4pm lunch/dinner somewhere in west central IL. The last 90 min of the drive were smooth sailing with full tummies!

All in all, the kids were FANTASTIC this trip. I can't believe I don't need to a) carry a large diaper bag with me everywhere, b) use the nasty diaper changing stations at the museums and zoos, and a billion other things that tell me I'm the mom of big kids now! Thankful for them and for their adventurous little minds!

St Louis Road Trip - Day 2

We woke up with pep in our step and ready to conquer the day. SEVENTY FIVE DEGREES predicted, how can you not be excited!? After dropping Mike off at his spot for the day, the kids and I headed (where else in February!?) but the ZOO! I love the St Louis Zoo but we've only been a couple of times. And NEVER in February!

Caption this one...

Cassidy gravitated towards the snakes in this "house". Why must everyone else in my family LOVE snakes?!

We were delighted to once again have my friend Alicia join us for this outing! True friendship is signing up for a day when you know "connecting" with your old friend means chasing her children around a large public place full of thousands of other people, too.

Every animal in the zoo was in a good mood thanks to the weather. We were up close and personal with a lot of the animals on this particular day. And they were very playful and interactive.

Troy got his hands on a map and went into "map mode".

This was one of the more unique things I saw. This colony of worker ants were carrying pieces of leaves to their nests and marching on these logs holding them tall. It was impressive!

My favorite part of the insect "houses" are these butterfly rooms. The butterflies are simply so beautiful and having them flutter around you while you walk through is fantastic. Even more so when your'e seeing it through your kids eyes :)

I felt so badly for this beautiful blue one who appeared to be unable to fly. At least he was very visible to help prevent him from being stepped on.

These two. Man were they a pair this weekend. So incredible together.

My favorite area was the spectacular elephant spot. They were INCREDIBLE and I felt like they were right there in front of us! Fun story: Alicia, Cassidy and I were all enthralled with the elephants longer than Troy was. I looked around and he'd disappeared! When I called his name, he immediately responded but I didn't see him. I looked up and he'd climbed some rocks in the viewing area by the elephants. When I called him down and reprimanded him, his response was, "But I was JUST exploring Mom! You say its good to explore!" I quickly explained when exploring is ok and when it is not (on the rocks overlooking the elephant area). 

After a morning that FLEW by, we had to say goodbye to Alicia. 'Til next time friend!

By this point the zoo was getting CROWDED (I mean, SEVENTY FIVE DEGREES people) so we took a lunch break before figuring out if we were staying or go. The verdict? We were going. We'll catch the other 1/2 of the zoo next time.

My FitBit says we walked four miles that day. Cass was in her stroller a bit but Troy? Walked every inch (except for the few minutes I gave him a piggy back ride towards the car. Oy.)

After awhile, it was time to pick up Mike! Alicia had mentioned there were a lot of restaurants and places to choose from near our new hotel but I hadn't checked them out yet. We chose to head there and pick something for dinner!

It was the cutest little strip of restaurants and more (a comedy club, a dueling piano bar, etc.) It would make a great neighborhood for a date night! We topped our dinner off with some ice cream on our "summer" night! So fantastic!

After that, they needed to burn off some energy and were all cranked on sugar. We let 'em just go and go and go... they were cracking us up!

St Louis Road Trip - Day 1

The 2016 edition of the St Louis Road Trip continued on! Though Mike announced his "retirement" from teaching these USATF Level 1 classes which have, until this time, been the catalyst for all of our St Louis trips. We'll just have to go on our own from now on without Daddy juggling work responsibilities while we're there! Check these out for an archive: 201520142013a2013b2012, 2011

I was pretty excited for noon to come so we could get headed to our weekend destination. And with the promise of 70 degrees in the forecast, come on!!!

I had the idea to get the kids headphones for the ride down for the first time. They're going to watch iPads anyways, so we might as well have a quiet ride to chat while they're watching! Troy loved his. Cass, not so much. He was watching it more than her anyways.

After we got all checked in and said goodbye to Daddy for the evening, the kids and I went down to the hotel pool. We picked a different St Louis hotel this year, as we've stayed at the same place since 2012 and wanted to switch it up. I LOVED this pool. As did the kids :) But they love all pools.

Gone are the days where swimming is a total juggling act for me, with two children hanging on me constantly. Troy is becoming a better and better swimmer and Cassidy understands "stay there!" (i.e. on the stairs, which is the main place she wanted to hang anyways) making for bit of a more relaxed time for me.

Troy's confidence in the water was high this evening...

And Cassidy was perfectly content where she was...

Some older kids showed up after awhile and were playing Marco Polo (#ChildhoodClassic). Troy swam over to them and asked if he could play with them. Three 8-9 yr old girls certainly didn't *have to* say yes to him but they did without hesitation and with a simple "hey, he's playing now!" they were back to business. Kids "these days" get a bad rep but I love getting to witness exchanges like that with absolutely zero adult interaction making them respond any particular way. Kids *can* certainly be kind to one another :)

After a long time at the pool, I cleaned up my tired kiddos and went down to the restaurant for dinner. Now this *could* certainly have been a stressful experience too, but they made it amazing. They were no problem at all. Which was pretty much the theme of the entire weekend. So thankful for them and for having such willing and happy little travelers!

One of my fav parts about traveling is snuggles with my kids before or while they're falling asleep. I got to watch Cassidy love on her babies before she fell asleep herself. She's so sweet with them.

And then this happened...

Which led to this.... I shared with Troy as he was still up :) Chocolate mousse with berries, I love thee.

Day 1 was amazing!

Date Night - Illinois vs Rutgers

Sporting events make great date nights :) This particular one was a great time. A rare Tuesday night out for us in our orange and blue. Love being the woman that gets to hang out on this guy's arm at events :)

And this never gets old! #IlliniForLife

Soccer comes to an end

Six weeks of soccer has drawn to a close for Troy. He LOVED soccer. This may be the first sport he's really lit up about and enjoyed. And he learned a lot! Props to Daddy for not just taking him every week but taking him early to practice together and practicing in the basement during the week. Troy and Cass are pretty lucky to have him as their dad :)

Here they are doing their warm-up routine :)

Running so fast he's blurred!

Lining up to take turns at the goal

At the very end there were medals AND jerseys! Schwoo! Y, you really outdid yourself! Troy high-fived all the staff and then continued to walk around the gym and high five the big siblings and parents there too. IT was adorable.

He loves his jersey. Pretty sure its already gotten more wear than 50% of what he has owned for months or more. Proud of you Troy!

Favorite Spot - Bathroom

Almost our six month-versary at our new home (seriously is that all its been, feels like forever!) and this bathtub still gets a ton of use. When we were looking at houses I dreamed of having a master bath with a jetted tub. And then I got it. And i vowed to use it. Which I do, several times a week. And to this day, no one else in my family has used it yet. We might as well put "MOMMY'S" in permanent marker on it. Nope. Don't want to be hanging out in a tub that was pooped in the day before :)


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sledding 2016 Edition

Winter has been, um, mild this year!? Not complaining, just stating a fact. There have literally been two snows prior to this one we've had to do ANY shoveling for. And they both melted fairly quickly. So when today was a snowy day and actually started to accumulate a little, I thought it'd be fun to get in our first Mahomet sledding experience and take Troy to the gargantuan hill at Lake of the Woods. Cassidy and Daddy stayed in the heated house, much like last year :)

This hill was a thrill. When Troy went down for the first time, he got all the way to the bottom and I could just barely hear him laughing. When he finally got to his feet, he jumped up with two feet and screamed "AWESOME!!!!" It was hilarious. If only I could have caught that moment. This kid loves a good adrenaline rush.

First run down the hill below.... watch how far he goes.... 

Walking UP this hill was a treat. I did it myself a couple times. It was STEEP and cold. Troy was a trooper and did it over and over though.

And final run down the hill. I went and stood at the bottom for one go to see him come flying by. And then after that I took it up myself and had a run on my own, too. Sledding is FUN!

Our back looked so pretty when we got home. Snow at its finest - not gross and street-side like out front!