Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, August 29, 2011

Up to Rockton

I definitely have more to post about our Milwaukee trip, and I also have lots of other posts to catch up on soon. But I figured that today I would give an update on what my little family did last weekend.

























First of all, we went up to Rockton last weekend to visit with Greg's dad and stepmom. We went to the Beloit Farmers' Market, which was the best farmers markets I've seen. The prices were very reasonable, the produce fresh, and this market was huge compared to some of the small ones in Illinois. I think there must be a markup on produce in the suburbs for some reason.



Nick loved the big doggies he saw. He seems to be more gentle with the giant dogs. Probably because they're bigger than him!













It was a relaxing weekend with superb weather. Nick especially loved sitting on the porch. In the picture above he is with his Grandpa Jay (Greg's dad). We had a yummy lunch on Saturday at this great bakery. I tried to take Nick's picture with Greg but he wouldn't sit still. My boy has SO much energy lately.





We had a good weekend. Nick entertained us in the car by singing, at the top of his lungs, for quite a bit of the trip.



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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Milwaukee Vacation: The Third Ward

Everyone told us, "If you go to Milwaukee, you have to see the third ward." So we did. I have to say I liked this part of Milwaukee best. It's located along the river, and has lots of interesting stores and restaurants.

 





The Milwaukee Public Market was amazing. I really wish there was something similar in the Chicago Suburbs. Basically it's a huge open building with food related vendors.





There was a spice shop, a wine shop, a fancy cheese place, a candy shop, a bakery, and a fresh flower shop.



We decided to try the seafood vendor for lunch, and they had an awesome lobster lunch.







































Nothing like lobster dipped in melted butter to make an afternoon special.





















I think I would go to the public market everyday if there was one around my house. I loved the chocolate shop. I think my favorite thing were the dark chocolate sea salt caramels. (Yum!)




After lunch, we went on a boat tour of the Milwaukee River and part of Lake Michigan. Though it was a cloudy day, we still got great views of the city, and learned about the architecture and history as well.





















See the bridge in the picture above? Some of the bridges in Milwaukee actually raise up like that, almost like they are on stilts. That's how the boats can fit underneath.








































The boat tour was really interesting, and also relaxing. We had a few drinks and sat up on the deck, watching the city and enjoying our freedom.








Milwaukee really reminded me of Chicago in many ways. It was, however, much smaller and easier to navigate. I recently got a new smartphone, an HTC Merge, and it has a GPS as well as Internet access. So we were able to look up any place in Milwaukee, figure out which places were closest, and choose that way. For example, Greg wanted to find a bookstore, so I found him one, complete with resident kitties.









Thursday, August 25, 2011

Way Too Busy!

I have been a little absent in the online world lately. There's been too much to do offline.

















The first day of school for my students was Monday, and I've been teaching graduate school one evening a week all month. This new evening job involves learning how to use Blackboard, an online program for managing student work. It's been driving me crazy. So basically, my first and second jobs have been taking all of my time. I've been spending any additional time I can find playing with my boys.

This is what makes it all worthwhile:


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Henry has been smiling and laughing more. He even coos, and it makes me smile everytime.
Even when I'm feeling overwhelmed with work and errands, a smile like the one on Nick's face (in the picture below) cheers me up and reminds me of what I have to come home to at night.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Milwaukee Vacation: An Evening By The Lake

Our first night in Milwaukee, we decided to find a restaurant with a view of Lake Michigan. Using my fancy dancy new cellphone, we found Harbor House, a seafood place with a killer view. After the pregnancy rollercoaster I was on over the last year and a half, it was wonderful to have a glass of wine while looking out at the skyline and the seagulls. 




















I will admit, however, that Greg ended up having to finish my wine. I'm a bit of a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. What was even more amazing than the view, the food, and the wine, was the simple luxury of eating a meal without having to duck at food thrown by a two-year-old. Also absent was that terrible feeling of "Oh boy, that's my child creating the ruckus." This cheesecake, however, absolutely made my day.



















The lakeside was really lovely at night. These pieces of art moved with the wind, and the moon in the background really made for a spectacular night. We also lucked out with excellent weather, in the 70s with a nice cool breeze.







Peaceful and somehow exhilarating, strolling along the lakefront relaxed us in a way that was almost unfamiliar.




And the best part? The thought of a full night of sleep to come.




Friday, August 19, 2011

Milwaukee Vacation, Day One

Sleep deprivation can be absolutely horrible. I, for one, turn into a raging meanie when I haven't had at least 8 hours. Since Henry was born, I've lost a lot of sleep. Greg and I wanted to have a little getaway before my school started, for two reasons. First, we didn't celebrate our anniversary much this year, because it was on June 8th, the day before I had Henry. Also, we wanted to get two full nights of sleep.



















We chose the Manderley Bed & Breakfast in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A few months ago a Groupon came up for a discounted rate, and I took advantage of that to get Greg a surprise present for Father's Day and our 3rd wedding anniversary. Grandma Toni and Aunt Sarah came to our house to watch the boys, so we wouldn't have to worry about them. We could just enjoy ourselves.




















The giant jacuzzi bathtub helped us to relax. I desperately want one of these in my home. Yes, that's a hand-painted mural in the background.




















The house itself was gorgous and beautifully maintained. I love old houses, and there were many antiques to look at throughout all of the rooms. At first, we were a little concerned because the neighborhood wasn't the most affluent, but this house was gorgous. The innkeeper is a stained glass artist, and his work is shown throughout the house.



















The grounds were lovely, and there was a family of kitties roaming about.




















We have never stayed in a B & B before, and I have to say that highlight of the trip was the breakfasts themselves. We got to sit at the fancy dining room table and indulge in a leisurely breakfast while asking the innkeeper questions about the home and about Milwaukee. He had great ideas of where to visit, and the food was spectacular.  I believe this meal was a veggie frittatta with yogurt, sausage, and toast. There were also yummy muffins.





I would definitely stay in a B & B again. I loved the experience. It was far more personal than staying in a hotel. Every antique in the place was touchable, so it was kind of like living in a museum for a few days.




The best part, though, was the sleeping. We got at least 8 hours each night, and I, for one, woke up each morning feeling like a new woman. Everything looks brighter and more beautiful when you have had enough sleep.








Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ten Weeks Old!

Today Henry is ten weeks old. Laughing and smiling and cooing, this little man has stolen my heart.






































Here he is at his doctor's appointment. My boy weighs 11 pounds, 3 ounces, and is now 22 1/4 inches long. He's hanging around the 25th percentile, so he's not hefty. Henry sure feels bigger, though! It's hard to believe that just ten weeks ago, I was walking (no, waddling!) into the hospital to have him.




















Our pediatrician said that Henry was perfectly healthy, with no concerns. That felt really good to hear. Henry enjoyed the doctor's appointment and was happy as a little cuddly clam until the shots came. Then, such a look of betrayal came onto his face. It was like his whole idea of the world was destroyed in an instant, and he was deeply saddened. I cuddled him for a long time after his shots.





















Henry had to get his shots so he could start daycare. He started Monday. Both boys are doing a great job both at daycare and with my mother-in-law. They are thriving.

This was my first week back to work, and I'm exhausted. I've been a lazy blogger lately, but I certainly haven't been a lazy person. I started teaching graduate school last week, and I'm struggling to learn Blackboard, the online program that is used to teach some portions of my class. At the same time, I'm helping my grad students, who are struggling to learn both Blackboard as well as the content of the class! I'm sure it will be easier in a few weeks, but for now I've been working nonstop.

In between all of this, I've been trying to set aside some quality time for my boys. I spent a good 40 minutes reading books to Nick. I held Henry for several hours and patted his back to make his tummy feel better. I'm doing my best.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Splashpad Fun!

A few weeks ago, I took Nick and Henry up to Rosemont's Splashpad for some water adventures with Grandpa Mike and Grandma Patty.




Henry is a little too young for water adventures.





He mostly had napping adventures, and snuggling with grandma and grandpa adventures. Nick, however, had a ball. How many grandmas will brave the shooting water just for a fun time with their grandsons? Grandma Patty did!



The splashpad is an awesome concept. You don't have to worry about kids falling in the water, so they just run around and get wet.





I'm getting wistful looking at these pictures. That's because I had to get back to school starting yesterday. I already miss the (somewhat) lazy days of summer.




 

Friday, August 12, 2011

Park-Hopping



















Lately, when Nick gets bored, I've been taking him park-hopping. Novelty is the name of the game, and new parks are always exciting. We have mastered the art of park-hopping.



















So here is our strategy. I always pick up lunch (usually Panera) and drive around a nearby subdivision. I tell Nick to "Look for a park!" I may pass up one that doesn't look fun or that is mostly for older kids, but generally I let him pick.







































See, the brilliant part of this strategy is that the newness of the park enthralls Nick, and he runs around excitedly for at least twenty minutes. That is long enough for me to eat my salad and relax. A relaxing meal is rare around here, and if park-hopping buys a few minutes of peace, so be it.







































Henry usually just chills in his carseat, but sometimes he sits with me on the bench and we get in some snuggle time while Nick runs.







































New slides, new creatures to climb, and new woodchips to throw means that Nick plays until exhaustion hits. He has a very good nap after a park-hop. This helps Nick get his exercise quota in, and helps me maintain sanity. Plus, it's fun to watch him run around the park. I wonder if I burn more calories watching him run around while I sit on a bench?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Visiting Daddy's Work

A few weeks ago I took Henry and Nick into Greg's office. His coworkers had been asking to see the baby (and his big brother, of course).


















Nick was very excited to see where Daddy works. He had to try out the phone, the computer, and all of the fun "toys" on Daddy's desk. We're not sure exactly who he called.




















During one hour in Greg's office, Nick managed to wreak havoc on the computer, shriek randomly, throw a tape recorder on the floor, charm several people, and enjoy himself thoroughly. Henry, meanwhile, filled his pants. Then Nick ran down the hallway, pushed open the office of the head of the whole place, and stole her flashlight. She, thankfully, has little boys of her own, so she just laughed.

All of Greg's staff said that the boys were adorable. They even let Nick play with their cellphones and pens and such. But, then again, Greg is the boss, so perhaps they had to say that Henry and Nick were cute. . .

I've been offline for awhile now. Greg and I went to Milwaukee for a nice little getaway by ourselves, and then I started teaching graduate school last night, so things have been kind of busy. I start back to work next week, too!

Hopefully I'll get caught up with my posts over the weekend.  :)  Lots to share.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Nick's Trip to Navy Pier

Last Sunday, Greg and his mom took Nick downtown to Navy Pier for the day. Because of the heat and the extensive travel involved (they took the train and a bus), I stayed home with Henry.




















I was kind of sorry to miss this event. Nick got to go to the Chicago Children's Museum and on a tall ship pirate cruise. But it's good that he got to go and have some fun. When I was pregnant with Henry, I worried that Nick would suffer from not getting enough attention once the baby was born. I shouldn't have worried. Instead, Nick has become more demanding--he gets plenty of attention, thank you very much.

How many little boys have two people following them with cameras, planning special events purely for their enjoyment? Nick gets plenty of attention.  Evidence is present below.  :)







































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I think the pirate cruise was probably Nick's favorite. He keeps talking about it. "We go on the boat today?" he asked me this morning. "No, Nick, not today." Then Nick gave a long-suffering sigh. Poor child.