Poo at the Zoo

Today my friend and I took our boys to the Lincoln Park Zoo! It was an absolutely beautiful day, perfect for gawking at animals. We saw everything from lazy lions to stinky rhinos…

These 3 buddies had a great time running and staring at the amazing animals.

They also had a fascinating conversation about Rhino poop. Really. It intrigued them greatly that a large stinky rhino had a place to poo just like the rest of us! Boys.

And then we were blessed to see more poop in the chimpanzee exhibit. Right after my friend and I were saying what expressive, cute animals they were….we spotted something nasty from which I will spare you the details! I’m glad I’m not a zookeeper..

This sweet boy asked me, “Mommy, if you threw a rope up in the sky, could you hook it around a cloud and bring the cloud down?” He gets his brain from his daddy:)


And this little-big boy fell asleep about 10 min before we got back home, only to wake right up once inside because there was a special box on the table that excited him. Inside was a new potty seat, with a ladder attached, to hopefully help him do a little poo-pooing himself:) We’ve had a bit of trouble in that area and he is very afraid of the potty seat we have, which wiggles around a lot as they climb on. He was very excited about this new seat and claims he will go poo-poo immediately!

I am still waiting… sigh.
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The Great City of Chicago

This is what I think of how the city of Chicago is run:

What fueled this distaste? I had to make a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew my license today. I would’ve done it online or through the mail except for two reasons. A) because our address changed and B)my picture on my license. I was really sick with my thryoid bit (only I didn’t know it) and I was super pale with deep circles under my eyes and I was really low weight. It was embarassing to show it to people!

So now after sitting in long lines and paying $30, I have a picture where I look like I just swallowed a bird! It was a great time….

And then, because the DMV no longer sells city sticker, I had to come home to go online and pay $75 for our annual city sticker. (and that’s only the summer sticker! We get to pay $80 in December for our license plate sticker..)Grrr. Over $100 that we could really use, given to a very corrupt city! Sorry, it just makes me crazy!

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In happier news, I unpacked my second to last box today! It was just a box that I had been ignoring for awhile because I wasn’t sure where to put the contents. I really like how our place looks and feel like it is easier, due to the layout, to keep it cleaner and less cluttered looking!

Now if only I could figure out what to do with the last box of junk that we hauled over here….:)

Oh me, Oh my!!

I’ve been in a bit of a cooking slump lately; maybe because of moving or all the illness or because it’s been so dang hot!! My wonderful husband put up the window air conditioners today and that allllllll changed.
I was a brand new woman in the kitchen this afternoon, whipping up a FANTASTIC dinner! Sunday nights are usually our breakfast for dinner, which is one of my favorite type meals to make. They are more fun and are usually gobbled up with no complaints.
Tonight was no exception. Allow me to introduce you to: Breakfast for Dinner.
Fruit Salad! I love, love, LOVE how many fresh fruits are available in the summer! Not to mention, it is a great excuse to visit my very new favorite store: Pete’s Fresh Market!

Scrambled Egg Muffins (allrecipes.com), all with sausage; half with green peppers (for the mama and daddy) and half without (for the pickies). Really good!

The Piece De Resistance! Oh me, Oh my! These cinnamon rolls were some of the best we have ever tasted! Seriously. Forget your diet and look closely at the cinnamon-sugar filled, flaky dough goodness.

And then add the frosting. Wipe your drool away. Ah-MAY-ZING! Ben looked like he’d died and gone to heaven. I had to splash cold water on his face to bring him back. And then I took my own first bite…

You know what my least favorite part of cinnamon rolls is? The ends. Usually there are about 5 cinnamon rolls, one ooey gooey center one that everyone fights over and 4 around the outside with overbaked crispy edges. Blech! Not these, my friend. Every single bite of these was full of goodness. Is your mouth watering yet? Tender, moist, cinnamony, sugary, frosting-y, melt in your mouth goodness.

He fully enjoyed his dinner, as you possibly can tell:) Mr. Blueberry Face in his ham-cheesy glory! He usually talks non-stop during dinner but he barely uttered a word, other than, “More, please!!”

Oh yeah, I’m the big brother! He loved every morsel of dinner, which is rare. He even told me, “Mommy, I really like this dinner. Sometimes I don’t like dinner but tonight I do!” Too bad the cinnamon rolls didn’t have broccoli or carrots in them or I’d make them more often…..

Sis, when you and T come to visit, be prepared for some tasty breakfast!!!

Cinnamon Rolls . I followed the recipe, using my bread machine (I highly recommend having one!!) but as you can see, there is a way to do it by hand, too! It made such a beautiful, easy to handle dough, which is rare. I also reduced the brown sugar in the filling to 3/4 a cup but you could reduce it even more.
Sweet Cinnamon Dreams!!!

Fire Rally 2010

Recently I mentioned that we met a fireman at one of our new parks we like to go to. Russell the Fireman, as we call him, told us about a Fire Station event this Saturday so we decided to check it out!

At a Chicago fire station/training facility, they held a Fire Rally Event with fire trucks from different counties and states and some really old ones from the early 1900s! There were vendors selling all sorts of fire-related paraphernalia. Toys, stickers, t-shirts, antiques, bells, fire equipment and more.

They barriered off a block with firetrucks so they could spray water for kids to run in!

This was an old pumper from 1907! The kids who ran through were soaked. Our boys did NOT want to run through!:)

My men posing in front of an old fire truck. A boys’ dream!

We actually saw our new fireman friend at the fire event and he showed us all around! He told us that this fire station was built on the site of the beginning of the Great Fire of 1871! Crazy to think about~especially now that we live here and know the area.

We cooled off after our special outing with some ice cream at Oberwies! I have really been wanting to try some ice cream from here, as I have heard great things about it. Their Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream gets a full 2 thumbs up from me:)

My 2 little Firemen in training!

They adore these fire hats that Russell gave them. They immediately whipped off their baseball hats in favor of these hats and wore them until the hot sun shining down on the black hats baked their little heads:)

And then we had to come home and watch some YouTube movies of fires and firetrucks! The fireman told us all about firetrucks which has probably spurred a new interest for the next few weeks:) For ex. Fire trucks put at least a million miles on each year! Crazy! He said they can have 20 million and more and still be running. Now why can’t they make cars like that?
It was a fun day:) Oh the wonderful life of little boys!!!

My Day

*Gave the apartment it’s first top to bottom cleaning today and it felt good!! It helps to have company over to spur on the cleaning and last of the unpacking. I love my hardwood floors but I don’t like how dirty they get. You can’t see the dirt like you could with our old tile floors but it’s there. Evidenced by the boys’ dirty feet everyday. Yuck!

*Finally hung some pictures up. I asked Ben to do it but then I grew mold. So I did it myself. I’m still waiting for the clock to be hung up though…..It would be nice to know what time it is! I tried to tell by the position of the sun but it has only been sunny twice this week so that didn’t work.

*Took Samuel on a last minute grocery shopping trip to get dinner supplies for some company. (We grilled chicken, had corn on the cob, fresh green beans and roasted diced potatoes. MmmMmm good!) He asked me for the 40th time if I would by him a little car (you know the trap they set by putting cool little knick-knacks and toys by the cash register?) and when I said no, he said, “You NEVER buy me anything!!!” We had a long talk on the way home about being thankful for what he has. And I might have thrown in a story or two about children who don’t have toys. Or clothes. Or food.

*Came back from said shopping trip to give Ben allergy drops I bought him for his eyes only to realize that he has pink-eye. Sent him off to the drs to get drops and now I’m praying no one else gets it….

*Made a Strawberry and Cream cake for dessert. Yuuuummmmy.

*Spent the late afternoon and evening with some “old” friends! We have been friends since high school-ish age and they have visited us in almost every single home we have lived in. They have 3 little girls. We may have arranged a marriage…I think I have both the boys taken care of now.

*Washed about 112 dishes today and now I’m ready for bed!!

After the Storm

Tonight after a raging thunderstorm and tornado warnings, sirens going off, and frightening claps of thunder…..the sky was painted with a rainbow. I could see it between the trees, stretching over the cross that sits atop the tallest spire of the church across the street.

Everytime I see a rainbow, I am in awe of such magnificent beauty! It always comes after rain, storms and dark weather. What child do you know that hasn’t drawn a rainbow arcing across their page with red, orange, yellow, green and blue? I know I drew many of them as a child!

But the thing that really strikes me is I feel like rainbows are a reminder that God is with us in the midst of storms. He has not forgotten. He makes beauty from ashes.

I was feeling alternately sad and thankful today. Sad because I had to say goodbye to one of my closest friends today. She came and introduced herself to me about 3 years ago, right after she had moved into our building with her husband and baby girl. We have spent so much time together over the past few years, talking about everything under the sun, driving our husbands crazy as we would “pop” over to each others apartments for a few minutes and then hurry home an hour later! Our families have grown as we have shared this close friendship. Our children became best buddies; her beautiful little girl calling S and Z “the boys” and now Samuel wanting to name our little girl after her! She has added 3 more children to her family and we are adding another one. We’ve seen each other through many illnesses, encouraging each other as we have supported our husbands in school, celebrating birthdays, watching Twilight movies together (I totally just admitted that outloud! And I’m not ashamed..) and consuming much chocolate!

My friend, if you read this, I have shed many tears today over the thought of us not living one floor apart anymore. I know distance makes friendships a little harder but I am determined to hang on to you as a friend! Not to mention, we do have a marriage to arrange between A and one of the boys. She has plenty of time to pick but we should draw up the papers soon….:) I will miss you so much.

We left a lot behind in our old neighborhood and it sounds silly, considering we are only 30 minutes away! But we formed a community there and made so many friends that are like our Chicago-branch family. And we had to tear away a little bit to create something new here. Because we feel so strongly that we should be here and that God has a lot in store for us this next year.

It was a really tough winter for us, in ways that I shared here on the blog and in other, more heartbreaking ways that only a few people know about. And in the midst of a wearying storm, we got our first rainbow blessing: baby Thomas on the way. And we’ve had more rainbows since then that give me such hope for a future that contains so many unknowns and the knowledge that God is with us, through the storms and after.

Grace

I am sure he’ll be really thankful one day that I posted this picture:) I laid down with Z at naptime to read him a couple stories and rest with him for a “few” minutes (which really means that I fall asleep with him!). I said, “I love you, Zakkai.” He doesn’t say it back very often but today he peeked an eye over the top of his rays and said, “I love you!”

We decided to have a dinner picnic at a new park tonight. It did not turn out to be the greatest decision. There were a lot of really young kids at this playground (right next to a school) that had little or no supervision. One lady was seriously on her cell phone the entire time we were there, barely paying attention when her toddler would wander away.

But the thing that really upset us was how this older brother who was maybe 8 or 9 was treating his younger brother, probably 2 or 3. He yanked him off of a bicycle and started slapping him when he cried and was pushing and shoving him, trying to make him walk. Ben immediately got up and started asking some of the adults if those were their kids but no one knew who they were. Ben started walking after them to do what, I don’t know but neither one of us could stand to see this little boy being treated so roughly. The older brother twisted his arms behind him and was forcing him to walk while jerking him around.

Finally we saw them head to a parked van with all the doors open. There were a few more kids inside the car but no adults around. We kept glancing over periodically, hoping to see someone watching these young children but not for at least 30 minutes did an adult appear. And then the last time I glanced over, I saw the mom loading up the kids, not putting any of them in carseats (all of them were at least 2-8 years old) and driving away with the 2 year old in the front seat. I was so upset to see such neglect and mistreatment. That brother was probably just emulating what he has seen the parent (s?) do to him and his siblings.

I was so sad for awhile afterwards but it made me really thankful that Ben and I care about our boys so much. We are most definitely not perfect parents, often making mistakes but I really hope that we learn from them. And I pray that God grants us more wisdom and patience every day as we journey to raise these children. And I certainly hope that we don’t look at other families like the one we saw this evening and start thinking we are better than them.

Because but for the grace of God, we are not!