August 23, 2014

Return to "Normal" Least for Today

The girls have been in school now for 2 ½ weeks.  They love it, and I love that they love it.  What I don’t love, though, is how far away from our past-five-years “normal” our days are now.

I am up bright and early to get myself ready before I wake up the girls at 6:15.  We eat breakfast, and then I send them upstairs to brush their teeth and get dressed while I clean up the breakfast dishes and get dressed myself.  We fix hair and load lunchboxes, and we’re out the door by 7:20. 

The girls and I spend about 15 minutes waiting in the drop-off car line each morning.  I take a book and we read while we wait for the doors to open at 7:45.  I give them hugs and kisses and head to work.

After school, Daddy picks the girls up, and I try my best to get home by 5:30.  I heat up supper (I’ve cooked everything ahead of time), we eat and clean up…and we’re left with about 30 minutes (if everything goes as planned) to enjoy each other’s company before we begin our bedtime routine.

This is a million miles from the majority of our days to date…when we held our own schedules and had plenty of time to do what we wanted, when.

Today we enjoyed a throw-back to “normal”.  It was a busy day, but oh, so welcome.

The girls slept (more or less, anyway) until 7:00.  We got up, got dressed, and headed out to breakfast.  After breakfast, we went to one of our favorite hangouts, Lost River Cave.  It was incredibly HOT, so we didn’t hike all the trails, but we spent a good hour meandering around the grounds.

After our outdoor adventure, we began our weekend errands.  Daddy and the girls dropped me off at Walmart, while they headed to Target.  They picked me up, a week’s worth of groceries in tow, and we made a quick stop by Sam’s before heading home.

After encountering more than our fair share of spiderwebs during our morning hike, we headed straight for the shower.  The girls played around while I got towels and outfits, and then we all got squeaky clean.  We enjoyed a low-key lunch, and the girls got straight to playing while Mommy had a [glorious!] nap.

I was awoken by the sweetest Baby B.  “Mommy, can you come upstairs and play ‘party’ with us?”  Of course, I would love to!

The girls had worked hard to set up a birthday party for their stuffed kitties.  They were very proud to show me how they’d set the table, made a cake, and iced cupcakes.  (I was pretty impressed with how they pretended to use decorator icing!)  Baby A had made an elaborate play structure from Connectagons to entertain the party guests, and Baby B made a rainbow collage of foam shapes as a present.

We had a great time playing…and then the girls and I headed to the bookstore to buy the next book in the “Little House” series.  We enjoyed a yummy snack at the bookstore, and we had a great time browsing for books.  In addition to the Little House book, I indulged the girls with a book on spiders, one on the human brain, one on skyscrapers, and a new night-night story. 

We left the bookstore and headed to the craft store to pick up a couple of items.  We ran into a couple of the ladies we know there, who were all excited to hear about the girls’ kindergarten adventures.

After the craft store, we had one more quick stop, and we headed home.  The girls rode their bikes on the driveway (while Daddy was cutting the grass), while I made a quick supper.

We had a great dinner, and then we enjoyed some time with our new books.

It was the perfect day.  Yes, it was busy…especially in contrast to Baby A having asked on Friday if we could snuggle all day on Saturday…but it was great.

I am very thankful for this dose of the “old normal” as we’re creating our “new normal”, at least during the week.  And I'm looking forward to cashing in on those snuggles on Sunday.

August 15, 2014

I'm Going to Miss This

I had a really hard time, the last few days before the girls started kindergarten.  It wasn't so much that I couldn't come to grips with my babies growing up...but it was all about how much I would miss the amazing 5 1/2 years we shared so intimately.

Sure, we'll have our mornings and our nights together, and we'll make the most of every weekend...but it's the random, middle-of-the-afternoon, impromptu trips to the orchard that I will miss so very much...'s being there for the most average of days, and enjoying the most incredible snuggles, any time I pleased.'s sharing the ups and downs and restlessness...turned to incredible displays of imagination.

Here's just a snippet of some of the carefree fun we had this summer.

Swim lessons!

Picking tomatoes from the garden!

Picking strawberries from the berry patch!

Getting lost in a craft!

Having fun at birthday parties!
Playing at the park!

Hanging out at the orchard with friends!

Learning new skills!

Ice cream with Mommy!
 ...and one of my favorite pictures of the summer...
The dancing fountains!
And, of course, we enjoyed two amazing trips (no vacation time required).


New York City...with friends!!!
I am beyond grateful for these baby girls, and for the 5 1/2 years we've ENJOYED, together.  New adventures await, for sure...but these days will forever have such a special place in our hearts.

August 8, 2014

First Day of Kindergarten!!

Wednesday was the girls' first day of kindergarten!  It was really hard for this mama to believe...and even harder for me to swallow...but I focused on the girls' excitement for their next big adventure.

I decided to spare the girls an early-morning photo shoot.  Baby B was raring to go when I woke them up at 6:20...but A, despite being reminded it was the First Day of School!!!...pulled the covers over her head and said, "NOOOO!"

I enticed her out of bed with the promise of crab quiche waiting for of her favorites.

B downed her plate, but A didn't eat her usual portion.  I think 6:20 is just early for my baby girl!

After breakfast, both girls galloped upstairs to brush their teeth and get dressed.  There was a small amount of coaxing, as these are new shirts (ones I bought a couple of years ago on clearance, the girls have been begging to wear them!).  They have a different neckline than what the girls are accustomed to, and A wasn't quite feeling it.  We finally moved past that, and everyone was ready for hair.  They both chose braided pigtails (much to Mommy's delight).

And then we headed to the front porch for a little photo shoot.

They loved the sign I made them!

After pictures, we were off!

We got to school at 7:30, thinking that the first day would be kinda nutty.  It was anything but...I actually questioned myself if it was, indeed, Wednesday.  The parking lot was almost empty!  We were one of the first families to walk into school that day.

The girls were SUPER excited to put on their new backpacks.  I didn't even have to beg for this picture!

And there they went...

(Of course I was following closely behind...I wasn't going to miss walking my babies into school that first day!)

We had to wait for a few minutes for the classrooms to open.  The girls were pretty quiet in the foyer of the school.  I'm sure there were a lot of things going through their little minds!

When we got to their hallway, though, they relaxed a bit.  Here are their pictures in front of their classrooms.

Love the look of anticipation on A's face!

My big girl B!

B gave me a quick hug, and filed into her classroom.  Next door, A gave me a quick hug, and she was gone, ever-so-slightly more tentatively, too.

When I got to school to pick them up that afternoon, the car line was already quite long.  I waited, watching intently to see if I could catch a glimpse of them walking outside to the pick-up area.  I didn't see the girls...but I did see Hubby!  What a surprise it was for all of us!

He managed to get away from his school a bit early, and he headed over to see the girls.  The three of them had to wait until I pulled around, but he was able to walk them to the car.  Baby B had a smile on her face, but A was a little bit overwhelmed, I think.  She wasn't upset, but I know she missed her mommy.

Both girls were EX-HAUS-TED that afternoon.  Still, they loved their strawberry smoothie I made as a special snack.  For supper, I made split pea soup, and A said, "Oh, this is very special, too!"  Hahaha!

The girls told us all about their first day.  A's favorite part was getting to draw a farm during centers.  B's favorite part was watching a cartoon of a pig trying to climb a refrigerator (?).

The girls had two recess sessions that day, but they didn't get to see each other.  They saw each other in the lunchroom, but only from afar.  (They told that matter-of-factly, but I think everyone will be happy when their regular schedule kicks in on Monday and they are together for reading and math.)

I am very thankful that the girls had a great first day (and so far, a great first week).  They are super-pooped, though...I know everyone is thankful this first week is a short one.  Welcome the Weekend!!!

July 27, 2014

Summer Travels to Chicago: City Sights

During our four days in Chicago, we had lots of great time with friends and family, and we also had such a wonderful time taking in the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Windy City, too!

We got into town on Monday night, and we headed northwest of downtown to spend a few days closer to Hubby's brother and best friend.  We took the route through downtown, though, and the girls were mesmerized to see the city at night.  They're very rarely out after dark, anyway, and they'd never seen such tall buildings with all the lights.  They loved driving past the airport, too, and Baby A, in particular, was mesmerized that the L kept appearing and disappearing again as it went over and under ground.

On Wednesday morning, we headed toward the city to spend the day.  Our first stop was a visit to Lake Michigan, and to see the park where Daddy used to play soccer.  It was pretty chilly there, especially out of the sun, in the breeze, and super-especially by the lake!

After the lake, we went to Lincoln Park zoo.  Here are the girls, preparing to go in...

And outside, after our visit...

For lunch, we drove to the area where Daddy used to live, to eat at a Serbian restaurant.  By that time, the sun had come out a bit, and it was a beautiful little walk through Hubby's old neighborhood to the restaurant.

On Thursday morning, we drove into the city again to check into our downtown hotel, just across the street from Grant Park.  The girls were taken with the parking garage.  They thought it was something pretty special to turn our keys over to the attendant and watch someone else drive away!  And they were such good little troopers, wheeling their suitcases to the hotel.

On the walk to lunch, Baby A was tickled to see her TRAIN!

And while we waited for that famous Chicago-style deep dish, we got to watch the US-Germany game.  It was such a fun atmosphere!

(No matter where we are, sights like these always melt my heart!)

After lunch we headed to Millennium Park.  The girls loved all the sculptures!

And then we spied the famous BEAN!

Asked a lady to take our picture...and you can see her reflection in front of us.  HA!

The widest angle selfie one could imagine!
The dizzying view from inside!  You can spot A's bright peach jacket (several times over) if you look carefully! 
More views from Millennium Park...

Love this amphitheater!!!

One of my favorite pics!

And then we began our trek to Navy Pier.  The fog here, in contrast to the bright blue skies -- literally only a block or so away at Millennium Park -- was pretty crazy.

Love this pic, too!

At last, we were to the girls' most-anticipated destination, the ferris wheel!  They'd never been on a ferris wheel before, but they were some kind of excited to try it!

From the ground up!

Although the ride was so much fun, the view wasn't very good.  It's amazing to see the fog, just 3:30 or so in the afternoon on an otherwise sunny day!

The view from the top!
After the ride...all smiles!

Then we were all ready for some ICE CREAM.  It was a really (really!) long walk to Navy Pier, and we were in need of some refreshment!

Despite the contemplative face, she loved it.
Outside Navy Pier, we had to give our review...

Thumbs up from B, and all fingers up (even better!) from A!
Then we headed back to the hotel, taking in more sights along the way...

A cool mosaic wall...

A gigantic fountain...

The view along the river was so pretty!

And this is one of the more bizarre sights I've seen...the shadow of the Trump tower against the fog.  I wasn't shaking when I took this photo...that's really the way it looked!!!

After a pit stop back at the hotel, we took a walk through Grant Park, and spent a little more time lakeside.

At last we headed to dinner, to a little restaurant we kept passing, a block from our hotel.  I had a Chicago-style beef sandwich, Hubby had a gyro, and the girls were pretty incredulous when I asked if they wanted a Chicago-style hotdog.  (We very rarely eat hot dogs, and I think they didn't know they existed in a restaurant!)

My A scarfed down every last bit!
We got VERY LUCKY and scored a SUITE at our hotel...a very cool, historical place.  We could get spoiled to this!

Here are the girls on Friday morning, each in their own QUEEN-SIZE bed, next door to our enormous CALIFORNIA KING-SIZE bed.  WOW!!!

Good morning!  Here comes the sun!!!
We had a wonderful trip to Chicago!

July 25, 2014

The Sweetest Day

Wednesday we had the sweetest day…one of those that just gives me pause to think what precious, BIG kiddos I have.

We didn’t have plans for the day, and it started with our usual breakfast and play time.  The girls wanted to build a bucket truck, which we did out of their Magformers, and then we built a Lincoln Log house to be “on fire” for said bucket truck to attend to.

Mid-morning, I had the idea to go to Nashville to look for some chairs we need for our office.  I ran the idea by Hubby, and he was all for it…all for the three of us going, and him “attending to the house”, that is.  While I was disappointed he didn’t join us, the girls and I had the absolute best time.

We headed out around 11…later than I would have liked…but we were in full roll-with-it mode.  We made it to the big mall, and we headed for Carter’s to buy some school clothes.  I reminded the girls, with it just being the three of us, that they would need to obey Mommy very carefully, and that I would need their help shopping.

They were fantastic! 

They walked with me throughout the store.  As I was looking for a particular color or size, they might help me, or they might walk to a nearby display to look at something different.  If they did they, they were great to say – unprompted – “I’m going to be right here, OK, Mommy?

I know it helped that the store wasn’t crowded (and maybe that we were shopping for them!), but they were patient and polite and helpful.  It was actually FUN!

After we did our damage at Carter’s, we headed to Gymboree.  They were again the best sidekicks I could have asked for…holding the items we chose, helping me look for sizes, working together to decide what we should get.

By that time, we were all pretty hungry.  We opted for Macaroni Grill (one of Daddy’s faves…serves him right for not being with us!  HA!).  We had a lovely lunch, and then we headed to the middle of the mall to ride the carousel.  How I love that the girls still delight in that.

We left the mall and headed to do our chair shopping.  We took a little [unplanned] detour, but Mommy finally found her way to World Market.  The girls wanted to try out every.single.chair.there…but that was OK by me.  They did it politely, and I figure that’s one of the joys of being a kiddo.

By that time, we were all ready for a snack, so we found a Panera – one of our faves – and treated ourselves to TWO cookies.  It was such a treat for this mama to share with her babies. 

We were preparing to make the journey back home, when I spotted a Home Goods store.  Since we still hadn’t found the perfect office chairs, I asked the girls if they were up for one more stop.  Baby A was game, but Baby B I think would have preferred a late afternoon nap in the car.  She acquiesced, though, and we had a fun time going through all the goodies there.

I have made a concerted effort not to position shopping as any type of recreational activity.  We go to the store when we need something, and the vast majority of the time, we stick to our list.  I would position this a little differently to the girls, but this was just the best day of shopping and lunch and afternoon cookies I could have asked for. 

Before the girls were born, I imagined days like this together.  The stress of oversized double strollers and public potty phobias are behind us.  What a pleasure it is to be out and about on the town with my babies.

July 16, 2014

Summer Travels to Chicago: Family and Friends

We've been trying to pack a lot of adventure into this much so (in addition to work and home, of course) that sadly I have found little time to write about said adventures.

Before I can legally post pictures from our fabulous trip to New York last week, I want to post pictures from our fabulous trip to Chicago a couple of weeks ago.  It was a wonderful mix of family and friends, along with sights, sounds, and tastes of the Windy City.

First, pictures from the Family and Friends network of the greater Chicago area.

We visited the girls' uncle's farm, just outside of Chicago.  The girls got to help with a few of the more fun (for them) chores...bottle feeding a baby calf...

...feeding the goats, sheep, and alpacas...

...and amid the turkeys, hens, and roosters, they hunted for eggs.

Their absolute favorite "chore", though, was snuggling the baby kittens.  They **really** wanted to take them home to live with us!

After a great meal and too many desserts, we gathered the E family for pictures.

Uncle V, Daddy, Cousin M, along with B and A

We also spent time with Hubby's best friends, the girls' "Uncle" Steve and "Aunt" Svetlana.

The girls hadn't seen Steve since they were 2 1/2, but they remember him from the visit he made to our house.  They don't remember meeting Svetlana when they were infants, but they couldn't get enough of either of them.

I love this picture so, so much!!!

And the girls were tickled to get to play a little soccer with Daddy and Uncle Steve.

Regretful goodbyes to the greatest honorary uncle.

After a couple of days exploring the city, we left via Steve and Svetlana's daughter's house...who just happens to have a little girl 15 months younger than A&B, and two-year old twin boys!  (Their names are A&B, too!)

Silly girls at lunch!

...with ice cream for all for dessert!

We are so thankful to have spent such wonderful time with our family and friends!
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