Sunday, September 28, 2008

Greencation: Day 3

Yesterday was a long day, very long. I finally gave up around 8pm and begged to come back to the room. The kids were enjoying the night and weather was beautiful but my head was pounding so hard I felt like I had a percussion show going on in the right hemisphere of my brain.

Since we knew the weather would be warmest on Saturday we opted to do the outdoor activities that day. We got up and walked to Sears Tower. Half way there I realized I had left the memory card for the camera inside the laptop so we had one picture we could take on the internal memory of the camera; we had to make it a good one. I had to take and delete about 4 pictures before I got one with all the 3 kids looking forward. I will have to add that picture once we get home because I don't have the cable with us.

After the Sears Tower we walked back to the hotel to retrieve the camera card and sunglasses. I knew a headache was a certainty if we did not get my sunglasses. We jetted off on the subway to find a traditional Chicago pizza place. The kids thought the subway ride was uber cool and groaned when it was time to get off after only 3 stops.

We ate at Giordano's and it seems most other tourists think 2pm would be a great time to eat lunch, just as we did. While waiting, Matthew found the naked lady statue; J and I were placing bets on how quickly he would find the topless statue and it was quicker than both of us had thought. He climbed up and said "MOM, take my picture!" The gentleman next to him thought that was comical. The pizza was very good but so filling and heavy that we just wanted to go to bed afterwards, not walk another 4 hours. We fought this urge heavily but only because three people under 5' tall were ready to ride on the trolley.

We took the trolley out to Navy Pier and enjoyed a boat ride on Lake Michigan and a ride on the huge Ferris wheel. Matthew played comedian again when he jumped up on a wooden box and said "MOM, take my picture while I pretend to be a supermodel" while posing with one hand on his hip and one behind his head and pouty lips. A group of several adults cracked up laughing and we could still hear them laughing after we walked away. I did not get a picture of this; I simply grabbed my son by the waist and carted him off knowing these adults are wondering where my six year old son learned to pose like a supermodel. We'll send him to your party for entertainment, but we charge a steep price.

I had to take a picture of this concession stand, even if the two girls working thought I was a crazy, lunatic tourist. We have donuts (in fact, I had a tasty one for breakfast earlier in the day) and funnel cakes. Now, the one thing those two have in common is being a wad of dough dropped into a 400 degree vat of grease and then usually covered in something even more fat laden such as sugar or "fruit" topping. This concession stand doesn't sugar coat (ha, pun intended) the truth; you will be getting a paper basket full of nothing else but good 'ole Fried Dough. That just cracked me up.
We found a table at the end of the pier and enjoyed the evening for awhile and I got these pictures of my handsome boys and beautiful girl. We were going to try and stay for the fireworks but I couldn't last any later than 8pm.

We've seen more weddings this weekend than I usually see in half a year. We've seen a German wedding complete with fully dressed priests, a Chinese wedding complete with dancing dragons and an extremely wealthy wedding, complete with 49 BMWs, 38 Mercedes, and 52 Lexus'. OK, OK, I'm not sure that is the exact number but only because we hopped on the poor-man's trolley (FREE) and left Navy Pier before the procession ended. This wedding reception included security; complete with the secret service black suits and earpiece communication; it was very entertaining for us to people watch at this particular event.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Greencation: Day 1 & 2

After a day of packing and running around, we loaded up the newly fixed Civic (thanks FedEx for the wreck and the money to fix it) and took off on our "Greencation." We decided to really do our vacation as green as possible we should pile 5 people and luggage for said 5 into the Civic Hybrid and drive to Chicago where we are staying downtown and using only public transit.

So here was the scene prior to leaving Thursday evening. It all fit...barely.

The kids were ready to take off on our vacation even though they were sitting hip to hip and shoulder to shoulder. I was skeptical on how long this enthusiasm would really last. To my surprise we made it the first night (2 hours) with giddiness from all three kids.
Tidbits from the first night:
- We saw a set of fresh burn-out marks on the road and Matthew piped up: "That is a spin-out and I know how you do that. You put one foot on the stop pedal and one foot on the go button at the same time and keep it that way; then it makes a squealing noise and leaves the marks." I then turned my attention to J who gave me a look of "I have no idea how he would know that, I would never take part in that sort of activity." Then Jacob says "Yea, and its really fun too."

- We encountered every animal poo stench there can be while driving for 2 hours in IL. My city-grown children did not appreciate the odors of true nature.

Today we toured Abraham Lincoln's restored home in Springfield, IL before continuing our trek to Chicago. The kids loved the tour and remembered several things about the period from our trip through Callaway Plantation. While the history of President Lincoln and his home are very interesting, the tour of Callaway Plantation was much more informative and educational. I encourage anyone who might be in GA and have an opportunity to tour the plantation to definitely do so.

On the drive in the kids were looking at the skyscrapers and Emily asked if the Sears Tower really scrapes the sky and that is why it is called a skyscraper. Matthew chimed in with "yea, I used to think that is why they called them skyscrapers too, Emmy, but that was when I was a little kid, and then I learned about it." Ouch, that wasn't very nice.

We are in a very nice hotel; I'll write more about it later. Our kids are tripped out by the "FANCY" hotel and all the things that go along with it. They are adjusting to sights and sounds of downtown Chicago. Our hotel sits directly in front of an elevated El track so if you are outside when it passes you can't hear each other talk. Jacob told us later that all the sounds were giving him a headache and he thinks it is just too busy. This might be a long 4 days.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Weekend Tidbits

It is never a dull weekend around this house; I long for the "boring" weekends when we decide to touch up some painting or plant a couple of new bushes.

We took down the dreaded fluorescent light in the kitchen that has been tormenting me for the last three months. Last weekend we put up a new chandelier in the dining room, here are a picture of each.

Sunday morning we were going to get an early start on the wood floors hoping we can get the majority finished before our vacation this weekend but impulsively decided to re-do the half bath instead. We figured the mess would be better tracked across plywood sub-floor instead of finished wood floors. Man, were we right!

Here is the bathroom before, slightly. It originally started with carpet (BLECH!) but we pulled that out about 6 weeks ago and we've kept a big rug on the floor to soften up the look of plywood. We demo'd the bathroom which registered an 11 on the EWWW scale. Notice the tub of Lysol wipes; we used an enormous amount of these because the water was shut off. The builder decided to skip the $5 shut-off valves on the faucet plumbing making it necessary to cut off the water to the house until we were able to install those. We demo'd quickly so we could make a trip for the shut-off valves otherwise we would all be bathing in antibacterial wipes and relieving ourselves in the forest behind the house. Did I say we did the demo very quickly?

We now have a toilet on the patio; it makes for such a nice "getting back to nature" experience. I wish we could always have such tranquility while pooing. If the project goes on too long I might just fill it with potting soil and plant some bulbs in it for next spring. It would complimented nicely by some daffodils.
The bathroom floor is now covered with backerboard and ready to tile today. I predict the bathroom will be finished by Thursday.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dinner Review

A couple of weeks ago while grocery shopping I picked up a boxed dinner kit that looked tasty. We tested it out a few nights ago and I will definitely buy it again. For 30 minutes I thought I might actually be sitting in Romano's Macaroni Grill with terra cotta tile floors rather than plywood sub-floor. My daydream quickly ended when a server didn't come around and pick up my dishes; instead it was time to clean up the mess myself. Luckily, I have a manly man that doesn't mind getting his hands wet and usually helps with clean-up.

I had been meaning to tell my sister about this boxed dinner because I thought it was something she would enjoy. Yesterday while talking to her she says "We had a pasta boxed dinner last night that was so good, it was actually like I went to the restaurant." I immediately knew we had eaten the same thing. Sure enough, she was also talking about the Creamy Basil dinner kit.

We will be trying out the other varieties now that we know they actually taste better than a box of pasta and sodium.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Please stay silent

Some commercials are better left off the TV. This morning I watched a commercial for Midwest Hemorrhoid Treatment Center. I just have to say it is a bit odd to see a gathering of people enjoying a backyard BBQ while the announcer is talking about hemorrhoids and internal coagulation. BLECH, what?! The word coagulation reminds me of the milk spit-up you have run down your back 20-30 minutes after feeding your young baby.

The best part, they end it with a sweet jingle "Don't suffer in silence." No really, we want to hear all about it the next time you are invited over for dinner.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my Dad for teaching me how to push the lawn mower at a young age. How did you know we would eventually buy the largest lot in the subdivision in an area that has had over 50 inches of rain in 9 months making the grass think it has been fed with speed laced water? Really, mowing 1/3 of an acre twice weekly with my push mower is nearly enjoyable. I've now passed on my lawn mowing knowledge to Jacob who actually seems to enjoy it, for now.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Kid Style Politics

Last night we were watching the National Service Forum on MSNBC. The kids were piled in bed with us because I was reading to them during the commercials. We asked if they knew who the guy on TV was and they all answered in unison "McCain." Wow, I was impressed; we are raising little political junkies. I asked if they knew his first name and Emily replied with "John." Again, I was somewhat impressed.

Then I asked if they knew else was running for president and Emily answered again, "Iraq Obama." I told her his correct name just as Obama was entering the stage. She said "I think he's better and will be a better president." I asked her why and she said "because he's not old like that other guy."

Gotta love kids.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Inevitable

5.5 inches of rain in 2 days,
.3 acres of mud and grass
1 six year old boy.
Gustav dumped his remnants last week and Ike will be here at the end of the weekend. I hope he knows how to do laundry; I expect help with these mud stains.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


This weekend's major project was refacing the fireplace with slate. There were several smaller projects this weekend as well but this one took center stage. Meme came to visit this weekend too; it is always a delight to have her here. Thank you Meme for all your wonderful help!

The fireplace before any work:

First I coated the brick with a layer of thinset to try and even the surfaces, then J started in with his precise measuring and cutting. The hearth was done first followed by the vertical surround the next day.

This is after all the tiles have been set; the only thing left to do is seal the stone and then grout.