Wordless Wednesday: End of Summer Blues

This summer has gone by so fast and was so full I want need kindly request a do-over. Or at least one month extension of summer weather and activities with no football season to occupy all my husband’s time.

And no, it’s not a Fantasy Football thing. It’s a liquor store near a college campus thing. No way around it. College kids + football = party. Which is good business for us đŸ˜‰

I know all this and yet I still find myself wishing we had done a few more things this summer. Gone to the Splash Pad a couple more times. Taken a family camping trip. Actually gone to Sesame Place like we wanted to in May.

But when I just uploaded all the pictures off my camera from this summer…I realized we had done quite a bit.

Let’s recap, shall we?

First off we headed out to Cape Cod to visit with our awesome friends and got to dip our toes in the ocean and eat fresh seafood and send lots of quality time catching up with dear friends.

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We had a Memorial Day BBQ that was freezing and rainy. So it turned into a dress-up party.

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We went to the zoo. Again, freezing and rainy. But we took a picture at our favorite spot outside the polar bears again.

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The girls hung out at the Splash Pad with their besties. I could die from this cuteness.

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Then we took an all-family weekend up to the cottage. And loved every second. And yes, Isora’s not in the picture. She’s so advanced she took this shot ::wink wink::

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Then we stayed at the cottage for an all Sims girls week. And got to do a small hike amongst other less strenuous activities. I mean, something had to balance out all that thrifting/antiquing/shopping/eating.

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And we played on the beach as much as possible. Which was a lot.

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And we found out that not everyone in our family enjoys a warm gooey hot-off-the-fire marshmallow treat. For shame.

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We also played widely inappropriate card games and drank whiskey until the wee hours. And laughed till we cried.

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We watched baseball and fireworks on the 4th with our favorite friends.

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Isora taught herself to climb up to the highest slides with ease.

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We had after-dinner dance parties. And Cedella taught her Daddy to dance like a princess.

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We made crafts at Grandma’s library every week and even made it into the local newspaper.

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Cedella fell in love with an adorable therapy dog named Blue at the Reading with Rover program at the library. But those legs. Stop growing little girl. Just. Stop.

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We finally confirmed that the Johnson family resemblance is a strong one when my Mom reunited with her cousin she hadn’t seen in 30ish years. Mom, Kit and Abbe and my Grandma Rose.

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Then they danced their little booties off at the Deirmimas annual reunion.

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Cedella found her inner Bob the Builder at the Chicago Children’s Museum. The look of concentration on her face is just priceless.

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And Isora found absolute zen in the form of every swing she’s ever touched.

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And I found my joy at a little place called H&M.

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We ate cake. With our hands. A lot.

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And we swam. In the fancy toddler pool at the country club. At swim class. In the pool at our Aunt Sabah’s house.

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And in the tiny pool on our deck. Almost every day.

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And we made Za’taar in our pajamas.

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We had one of the most memorable and fun and exhausting and gorgeous summers ever. And I’m incredibly sad to see it go.

But now it’s time for preschool and sweaters and scarves and football and chili on Sundays and all those birthdays coming up.

Can’t wait to share the latest with you…I officially have a preschooler.

 

Wordful Wednesday: Chicago Summer Fun

::patting sweat from brow:: Is summer over yet? Cause I’m exhausted.

No really, it seems like the summer just flew by in a haze of weekend trips and rain storms and car rides to Detroit.

We squeezed a LOT of action into a few short months. And we were supposed to do so much more. Sadly we got uninvited from a friend’s annual trip to her parent’s cottage in the Canadian wild. Apparently having my kids there would have greatly cramped their style. It was shitty and my feelings are still a bit bruised, but we made the best of it. We took the days off that we had already scheduled, packed up the car and headed to…

CHICAGO!!!! to visit my Bro-in-law AndrĂ© and his super sweet bachelor pad. Neither of us have seen AndrĂ©’s place. And sadly we hadn’t been to Chicago together since before we were engaged. SMH. As Cedella would say “Not cool dude, not cool.”

Now for those that haven’t already heard this here’s a little tidbit about Michael and I. We both lived in Chicago at overlapping times, he was there first and left before me and I was there a bit longer then we met a year after I moved home. Even more coincedence? We both worked on Halstead Street during that overlapping period of time. Who knows how many times we sat on the train together or passed each other on the street. Or waited in line at that same Dunkin Donuts for a coffee before work.

Isn’t that crazy? We discovered it on our first night getting to know each other. It still fascinates me and makes me love for a Tardis to take me back and discover all those small passing moments we were almost together, but not.

Anyways…we both love the city. Love. Chicago is the town I would live in again in a split second. I adore Chicago. I want to live there again some day.

So needless to say getting booted from the Canada trip was a blessing in disguise and just what we needed as a family.

Now for the picture overload…

We arrived on Thursday went to AndrĂ©’s and checked out the view. And it didn’t suck one little bit.

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After being floored by the view we rested for a while and then braved rush hour traffic in cab to make it to the Children’s Museum on Navy Pier because it was FREE that night. But this free museum night is not a secret. That place was bananas. Fun but totally chaotic.

As it turned out our good friend’s from Lansing were there playing too. Nicole and Randy and their little ladies Nia and Imani were a welcome sight in the mad crowds.

Izzie and Imani rolled around the baby area.

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Check out Nia, Izzie and Ella getting their groove on.

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My beautiful friend Nicole and I. (P.S. We really needed a flash for this picture! lol)

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Uncle AndrĂ© met us there after work and endured the ‘creeper’ pass just to hula hoop with his nieces. The ‘creeper’ pass is this bright pink badge they make you wear in the museum if you’re a solo dude with no kids in tow. AndrĂ© just screams creeper in his Brooks Brothers, doesn’t he?

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Check out my Mighty Girl. She was totally digging this workshop area. Just a screw driver and some screws and she was engrossed for 35 minutes. Remind me to add a workbench to the playroom, huh?

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On the way home from the museum we were starving and decided to try this little spot in AndrĂ©’s hood. Big & Little’s. Featured on Diners, Drive-in’s and Dives. Gotta say…it was slammin’!!

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They’re schtick is awesome tacos and po’boys. And they do them very very well. This Bahn Mi Fried Shrimp Po’Boy was incredible. Like lick your fingers and ask for more incredible.

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Isora loved the food so much that she only woke up once the food was served. She slept through the wait.

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Cedella and her Uncle appeared to have loved it as well. We may have ordered 1,000,000 tacos. Seriously. That good.

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Then we took a stroll back to the crib. And the view pretty much sucked. Not at all brilliant.

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But then you turn the corner and…the last remnants of Cabrini Green housing projects. A sad reminder that gentrification is a messed up, complicated, sad and yet wonderful thing.

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The next day we hit up the Field. Cause you have to do at least one of the big museums when visiting. Well, at least you have to if you’re in our family. I never met a museum I didn’t like.

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And there she is, hiding in the back there behind that glorious elephant, Sue the Dinosaur. I remember being so impressed with Sue when I was a kid. Cedella was underwhelmed. But she loved the halls of taxidermy animals and was fascinated and disturbed as to how these animals got put behind glass and how they’re not alive anymore.

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I adored this exhibit on Africa. I want so badly to ride on this bus.

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Ella got to cruise on a motorbike with a jambox on the back.

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And I got to hang out and rest in Grandma Linda’s favorite spot in the Field. The Pawnee Lodge. Me and my baby in a papoose were right at home. I even got to do a quick woven wrap demo for some curious mamas.

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And I just love this photo. Outside the museum. Such a sweet moment.

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We had a lot of time in this trip to just relax, cook, visit and take it easy. This was Saturday morning while we were making breakfast. 21st century Saturday morning cartoons…on the iPad.

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That day we loaded up a cooler with drinks, sandwiches and snacks and hit up the 31st beach. It was incredible. The beach was populated but not crowded, and there was a gorgeous view. Thanks to my girl Kasey for hooking us up with this ‘hidden’ gem in the city! Seriously, best cheap family day in the city yet.

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Me and the girls. And André catching some rays.

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This view doesn’t suck either.

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An even better feature of this beach? A really cool playground we burned off some energy at before heading home for the day. This kid is a big fan of swings. Big fan.

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Pretty sure these white dudes are vampires. Just sayin’…

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My sweet active sweaty lovely adventurous girl.

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The next day this mama wanted to do some shopping. I needed a Zara and H&M fix so we headed down to State St. And then this happened. We used a Picasso as a slide. I know, I know, everyone does. And anytime I’ve been to Daley Plaza I have done this. But it never ceases to amaze that this is a Picasso statue.

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Then Cedella found her inner drum circle hippie and danced like no one’s business for this man’s drums. I really wish I could share the video, it was epic. But it won’t download from BIL’s HTC phone. Boo.

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Izzie and I found our bliss in the middle of H&M. She was the perfect little shopping buddy until the second I went in the dressing room and she decided she was starving and wanted Mama and Daddy wasn’t cutting it. She’s such a Mama’s Girl.

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But then I wrapped her up and all was right with the world. Don’t we look ready for a few more hours of spending?

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Sadly my girls are not interested in hours of shopping. So we grabbed some Garret’s, hit up the Disney store and then headed back to the apartment to pack up and head home.

We waited until late afternoon, when both girls were tired, and had a fairly uneventful, though stormy, ride home.

So we may not have gone clubbing or had any 4am hotdogs with a side of obscenities but we had a really fantastic trip!

Can’t wait to go back later this year. Chicago at Christmastime with a dusting of snow is magical. And there are so many things we didn’t get to do this time that we just have to get back sooner than later.

Thanks André and Chicago for hosting us for another incredible memory-making trip!

Where did your family go this summer? Any tips for great urban places to check out with little ones in tow?

Happy Wednesday wordless, wordful or however you spend Hump Day!

Wordful Wednesday: The Cape

So I have been so busy being on another vacation that I haven’t gotten a chance to blog about the family vacay we took when all the shit was hitting the fan in our family. If you need a refresher HERE you go.

Days following some of the hardest month in our marriage yet the four of us set off on a road trip to Cape Cod, Mass to visit with some friends. But really, and particularly after the weekend we spent there, friends is an understatement. They are family, if not by blood, then by closeness, commonality, time and affection.

Erik, one of a handful of Michael’s grade school friends that he is still very close with, is like a brother from another mother. He and Michael have been through a lot together. Girls, sports, partying, getting into trouble, traveling, you name it. Erik lives in Thailand for most of the year, that is when he’s not traveling to other far off corners of the world and chaperoning kids into service projects in tiny off-the-beaten path villages. So those few times they’re in the same country…that’s priceless.

The few times he is in the states we try to get together, our guest room is always ready for him, but his family, including his Moms and his sister and bro-in-law are out in Cape Cod, making his Mitten visits fewer and fewer. After I met and clicked right away with his sister Sara several years ago we maintained a good bond between blogging and Facebook (find her inspirational and thought provoking blog HERE). And we hosted her husband Leo for an overnight a couple summers ago. We’ve all casually chatted about making it out to there little slice of seaside life in Wellfleet for a visit.

And then Sara and Leo grew two incredible little humans and after seeing their gorgeous faces online for months wasn’t enough, we decided it was time for a visit. Erik was still in town when our store went into a summer calm mode and we could make a desperately needed escape from Capitol City. So off we went.

Google said it would be 13ish hours if we drove through Canada. With two toddlers we added on roughly 4 hours in stops to that equation and decided to stop for the night in upstate NY. The road to get to Wellfleet was bumpy, tense and at times unbearable, it may have ruined me for family road trips for good, but we survived. And made in one piece to the Cape by early Thursday afternoon.

First order? Meeting the babies. God was it lovely to finally hold those two precious ones. And though it took a day or three for Sofi to warm up to me…

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Isak was my buddy from jump.

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Next order of business? The Beach. The Ocean. The Cape. The next day was spent chasing the water and the sun.  It was a cool and foggy day but that didn’t stop us from hanging out on the beach for a while. Cedella even talked her Dad into running into the water with her. Sucker.

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Then we went to the Wellfleet Harbor to check out some oyster boats and grab some lunch.

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The restaurant was also a book store and housed the coolest local dive bar in its basement. Could I be ANYMORE at home? I think not.

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And even better for the kids, there was a super sweet playground next door to the restaurant where I nabbed this incredible photo. This. Girl. Is. Killing. It.

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The best part of this trip was just how much we got to chill and talk and catch up with our dear friends. And maybe drink a couple beers. Izzie was very helpful at cleaning up all the beer bottles with Uncle Erik.

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Cedella really loved helping with the babies (doesn’t she LOOK thrilled?). And so did I. Sara and I talked about how nice it was to have to mothers (and grandmas, dads and uncles) around all day with all those young kids. There was always a helping hand about if one of us needed it. Communal parenting FTW!!!

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Someone, well, actually two someones, formed pretty serious crushes on their Uncle Erik. Window kisses. He’s a charmer ladies!!

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And how could I forget to mention these ladies. The Moms. Dikke and Tina. They are so in love and so lovely. They are parenting superstars and just really great people. It was really nice to get to know both of them.

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In fact we got the chance to celebrate Mother’s Day with them in high style thanks to Chef Erik! But first…we visited Provincetown. And while we only scratched the surface of what P-Town had to offer I would go back in a heartbeat to visit. Michael would not. We had a fight there that didn’t end well or quickly and he thought the town was full of pretenious assholes. Did I mention he hated it. But it was so charming. It had an older and more eclectic feel than say Charleston…

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And a healthy dose of nautical charm. Yes, that’s my Ahoi wrap on the pier. Had to do it, it was too perfect not to.

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How cute are they? Such a beautiful family. And another win for babywearing…even got Sara with one on the front and one on the back and her walks were revolutionized!

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After all the drama in P-Town we all needed to chill, regroup and unwind. And this is what we can home to. Chilled white wine and fresh Wellfleet oysters. Oh. My. Goodness. Divine. Could it get anymore East Coast than this?

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Uncle Erik let Cedella name all the lobsters before they went to their Final Death. And the silly thing wouldn’t touch them. She said they were scary. Izzie went right up and touched it and walked away, unimpressed. Someone’s girlie side is showing…

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So our Mother’s Day dinner was a lobster and scallop feast!! It was so delicious. I even learned how to crack open the tail and get all the meat out. And sucking on the legs. And melted butter with lemon. I’m drooling on my keyboard. It was so good.

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Poor Uncle Leo was working and studying his ass off while we visited so we didn’t get to see very much of him. But this moment, after dinner, with him and Cedella in a food coma watching Animal Alphabet? So sweet. She really liked him.

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Sadly our visit was a short one but made all the more special by how well all of us get along and how much we genuinely enjoy each other’s company. Erik has a really strong connection to all the kids, the little ladies love him so.

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And Sara was just born to be a mother. Her instincts and intuition are incredible. Sofi and Isak have brought out even more intelligence and strength from her. I watched her juggle these two and their nursing, diapers, naps and bedtimes quite seamlessly. I’m in awe. Izzie was too. She just loved how calm and quiet Sara was with her. That and she loves to be read to…

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And here’s us. Fast friends, mommy role models and peers. Sisters in our own tribe. And all these crazy smart silly kiddos. I hope they grow up knowing one another as cousins and family, how lucky would they be.

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Though the road home was even harder than the road there, again, we made it back alive. All the wiser for having connected with really great people, in a really positive environment and had the chance to step out of our daily stress to be with our tribe.

Many and more thanks to the Moms, Sara, Leo and Erik for your hospitality, your help and your friendship. Our home is always open to you. Here’s hoping for many years of family visits and celebrations!!

Whew! That was a long one…you still there? If you are…Happy Wednesday whether you be wordless, wordful or hopeful. I’m hopeful today is a day for change and recognizing that love and marriage should be equal for all of our citizens. What are you hopeful for today?