Saturday, May 29, 2010

Good Morning, Sunshine!

This sweet little boy is the reason I can wake up an hour and a half before my alarm goes off on a weekday morning AND at 4:15 on a Saturday morning.  He is such a happy little guy, any time of day.  His smiles can can warm my heart for days...and he keeps on giving them to me!  I'm not the only one he smiles at either, they aren't just for Mommy.
He has a hard time being this happy when he's:  hungry, tired, or needing some love.  Who can blame him?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

One Year Ago

We were here...


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thank You and Happy Mother's Day!

Thank you Riley for making me a Mommy.  I never knew love like this...
Thank you Kace for making me a Mommy of 2.  Thank you for teaching me to not take motherhood for granted and making me realize what a special gift it is.
Thank you Russ for being a wonderful Daddy and husband.
Thank you Mom for always going above and beyond for me.  You always have, even when I didn't deserve it....and thanks for loving my boys.
Thank you Nana for making me feel as if your home was also mine.
Thank you Karol for being a mother-in-law that I enjoy...and thanks for loving my boys.
Thank you to my Mommy friends.  Thank you for leading the way, sharing your stories that made me laugh and cry, thank you for listening.  To my Mommy to be friends--I hope I can provide the support for you that my friends have provided for me.  It's an amazing journey!

It takes a village...and I couldn't do what I do without my family.  Through the frustration, worry, exhaustion, and lack of sleep, my life wouldn't be complete without my two boys.  They have taught me so much about life, about teaching, about myself, and others.  I learn every day from them.  Every day I want to be a better person for them.  I want to make them as proud of me as I am of them.  I love you and I'm so proud to be your Mommy!

(We had to get home from Chicago so I could snuggle with my boys on Mother's Day...spit up and all!)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Chicago (The Next 24 Hours)

We slept great in our cozy bed, woke up the next morning ready to squeeze in all we could.  Russ brewed us each a cup of coffee in our one cup coffee maker to tie us over until we had a very light breakfast.  The plan was to eat something little so that we would be hungry for some Chicago style pizza for lunch. 

We packed up our room and I said goodbye to my favorite chair...

and we headed out for a "light" breakfast to save room for some Chicago-style pizza.  We passed a flower stand that caught my eye.
The plan was to have a "light" breakfast somewhere so we would be hungry for our Chicago style pizza.  We walked to an area we hadn't explored yet and stopped at The Corner Bakery.  Nobody ate as "light" as we hoped, but we all enjoyed our meal!  Hmmm...would we be able to eat deep dish pizza in a few hours? 

This one is Donald Trump's latest...

We ran into this little cutie who lives in the area and is somewhat of a greeter.  She loves talking to people about "her" town.  She goes on her daily walks and hangs out here and visits with tourists from all over the world.  She was thrilled to meet some people from Sweden (and Texas too, of course)!

A friend from high school that I was recently reacquainted with at our 20th reunion lives in Chicago and recommended this place.  We walked in and were informed the pizza took 1 hour and 15 minutes to bake.  Gulp!  We had a plane to catch...

He also recommended this place.  Little did we know it was the same owner, second location...caddy corner across the street!  They said the pizza needed 45 minutes to an hour to bake here, so we grabbed a table and ordered a pepperoni pizza. 

Russ and I actually prefer a thin crust with little sauce.  We had no idea we'd love this pizza as much as we did!  We saw it on Food Network last night! 

We quickly grabbed a cab and headed back to the hotel--we were in a hurry now to catch our plane that left at 4:45. 

Goodbye Knickerbocker!  I chose you because I loved your name.  You didn't let me down!

Goodbye wonderful friend who lives a million miles away, though every time I see you, it feels like you never left.  Until we meet again...Spain?  Fiji?  London?  Maine?  How about Texas?

Have a great time at the Blackhawks game tonight!

Goodbye Chicago, we'll be back!

Home.  Family.  Friends.  My boys.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Chicago 2010 (The First 24 Hours)

Monday night I received an email from Lotta, our dear friend who lives in Sweden, telling me that she unexpectedly landed tickets to a NHL playoff game in Chicago (a surprise birthday present for her husband) and they were going--could we meet them 4 days!

There were a million reasons we couldn't and about 3 reasons we could.  We looked at airfare which was outrageous, of course.  Kept looking, hoping for a weekend getaway fare.  Asked our mothers if they were up for keeping the boys (they're angels...they said "yes"), and actually booked a flight through a flight/hotel package for a decent price.  Going to work on Friday, then flying to Chicago--to see Thomas and Lotta...and a city that's been at the top of our "to visit" list for quite a while!

We were joining them as a surprise to Thomas.  He had no idea we were coming until we knocked on their hotel room door...and he was in bed, exhausted from traveling!  We didn't plan the surprise that way--we wanted to just show up at a bar while they were having a drink, but our plane was delayed, so we made it work another way.  After we showed up at their hotel room, we wanted to go somewhere for dinner--it was about 11pm and I hadn't eaten since lunch that day (and in first grade, we eat at 10:40).  The only place open that served dinner and drinks was The Cheesecake Factory.  Not the Chicago fare I was looking for, but it was close and it was open!

I wish I had photos to show you the spectacle that awaited us in there.  It was prom night.  Ghetto Prom.  I didn't know whether I should stare, laugh, or leave.  It was kind of scary and funny at the same time.  We were the ONLY table of people NOT wearing a white tux, wing tips, gold teeth, sequins, and 6 inch heels.  I wanted to take a picture, but I was afraid.  The host, who was visibly irritated at the standing room only patrons, grabbed my arm and said, "YOU look normal, come with me!"  We got a table, just like that.  We caught up and took in the scenery!  We worked on planning our weekend together in Chicago.

We experienced "The Windy City" late Friday night as we walked back to our hotels.  We were lucky enough to book a room that was a 3 minute walk away from Thomas and Lotta's hotel.  We stayed at The Millenium Knickerbocker and enjoyed it!

Saturday morning started with a walk to look around and find somewhere fun to eat breakfast.  We were looking at a map and headed to a diner someone had recommended last night, but a woman stopped, said, "Can I help you find something?" and we said, "Breakfast!" 

She recommended a cafe and The Corner Bakery.  Since Russ and I liked The Corner Bakery, we opted for the new place we'd never tried.  Along The Millenium Mile tulips were planted everywhere and looked beautiful.  One of my favorite flowers...and they certainly don't do this in Texas!

We loved the place (and apparently lots of others do too--there was a 20-30 minute wait when we arrived and as we walked out there was the same amount of people waiting) and were so thankful that woman stopped us!

Next stop:  Navy Pier!

The views of downtown from the pier are incredible.  I think I took 1000 of these pictures from different angles!

For some reason I'm developing an interest in lighthouses...

We had more fun in these funhouse mirrors than 4 adults should.  It was hilarious!

This was a great photo opp. that I couldn't pass up.  Don't know these young Navy men, but I'm glad I saw them standing there.

We hopped in a cab and headed to The Willis Tower (formerly The Sears Tower--the name changed about 6 months ago) for more beautiful views!

The walk up was as beautiful as the view from the top.  There was so much history and interesting information in addition to the spectacular views.  I took a ton of pictures on the way up...


We  have arrived at the 103rd floor!

And I'm fallin'!!

And now, back down to the ground--we're headed to Millenium Park!  The Bean was a highlight for me.

Face Fountains were awesome.  Water is rolling down the sides, though you can't really tell from the photos.

It began to rain and everyone ran under The Bean for cover.  It was a great experience being under there with all of those strangers.  Pretty cool!  Here we are in the reflection.

And more tulips!!

Are we tired yet?  Now what?  Lotta's ready for a drink!!
The Flying Pig martini...came with a plastic pink pig and everything!  We enjoyed talking to the couple behind her too, they were in town from NYC visiting their grandchildren...and enjoying some brandy.  I wanna be like that when I'm old(er).

A Guiness for My Babe

Another girlie drink for Thomas....Russ is NOT impressed!

And a vodka and grapefruit for me.

This was another highlight for me.  Sitting around a little table in the lobby of our hotel.  We caught up some more, talked about our families, our next adventure together, and how wonderful it was that we were able to unexpectedly meet again.  Almost a year ago, we met in the south of France and spent a fabulous week together.  We continued making plans for the remainder of our Chicago time together.  We made dinner reservations at The Rosebud (across the street), supposedly it's Charles Barkley's favorite restaurant in town and planned to go to the top of the John Hancock Building for drinks and the best view of the city afterward.  Lotta and I went to the room to get dressed for dinner while the boys squeezed in an extra adventure to Wrigley Field and stopped at a pub for a beer!

The apartments across the street had stadium seats build on the rooftops.  How cool is that?
Lovin' it!

I wanted to see the field too, but it was perfect timing for us to get dressed and the guys to have a little fun without the girls.
Lotta and I finished getting ready together and enjoyed our girl time as well.  I loved this chair in our hotel room and she looks beautiful sitting in it!

Russ gives Thomas the stamp of approval on this drink!

WOW!  This was so much bigger in person.  Russ ordered prime rib--the special of the day...Flintstone Style!  Our waitress said it was about 32 ounces (bone and fat included)...and he ate most of it!

Tired and incredibly full, but we have much more to do and see! 

Honestly, we were so tired we weren't loads of fun up here.  The view was spectacular and Russ was anxious to go to The Green Mill.  We'd heard great things about the jazz there...and that it used to be a speakeasy where Al Capone frequented.  Thomas, Lotta, and I took a nap in the backseat on the way there.
We were there, but we weren't buckets of fun!  Sorry, Babe.  Can I go to bed now?