Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Little Girl in the Big City

Chicago -- what an amazing city! I love Chicago and after numerous times there I still find new things to do. It was a long awaited trip by our daughter, who since we mentioned it, has not stopped asking we are going to go. After Lil Miss's birthday we asked Rosie what she wanted for birthday. Coincidentally the American Girl Catalog came in the mail at about this time. Thanks to Uncle Dale for spoiling our little girl with her very own American Girl Doll..... the girl wanted everything in the catalog the roller skates for the doll, a cheerleading outfit, a winter coat so Bella doesn't get cold.... it went on and on. I suggested "someday" we should go to the American Girl Store in Chicago.... and that "someday" became instantly her birthday present. She was clearly warned that if we went to the store that was her present and she wouldn't get any gifts from her mommy and daddy for her birthday. he was well aware and STILL wanted to go without a doubt. So mommy started to plan a girls getaway to the Big City. With the holidays just around the corner and every weekend being booked with parties, Christmas activities, and singing carols... we decided to go last weekend before we got to busy. Rosie was counting down the day for weeks..... so excited!

On Friday, I picked the kids up from school and had our bags packed ready to go. Mommy gassed up the truck and we were out the door! I had planned the trip so we could do as much as possible for as little as possible. To save money we spent our first night near Naperville, IL outside of Chicago. This was convenient because Naperville is close to a mall and IKEA. Yeah for mommy!!! For dinner I let our little girl choose and she wanted milkshakes... so Johnny Rockets is was! Rosie loved the restaurant..... she got to put music in the jukebox and was dancing in her seat. The waiters tried to get her to dance with them but she was too shy. It was a good supper of milkshakes, fries, and burgers. After dinner we headed to the hotel to swim. I think as excited Rosie was to go to the American Girl Store she was AS excited to go swimming.

{Fish out of water}

Rosie was the only swimmer in the pool and was practicing all the things she has been learning in swimming lessons. Mommy sat in the hottub and enjoyed the relaxing time. As hard as it was for her to do, Rosie finally fell asleep that night. When she woke up it was TIME!

Bella slept in her bed and was already in the morning to spend the day in the city. {The 3 of us} It took about 40 minutes to get into the city, and Mommy parked at a parking garage extremely close to the Water Tower Place where if you ask you could get validated for at the American Girl Store. SCORE -- mommy was doing great at saving money.... until I walk into this.....
{the holy grail}
The American Girl Store, if you haven't stepped into this place before, is 2 stories of little girl madness. The first floor has an American Girl Bookstore, which I think Rosie could have spent all day in there, it also has a photo studio to get your picture taken (mommy saved money by taking our own shots), a gallery of the history of American Girl with the Girls in All their outfits and Books..... and that is just the first floor. As we traveled up the escalator..... Rosie's eyes lit up!! It was every thing imaginable for your doll. Tennis outfits, pajamas, outfits for Christmas, everyday outfits, boots, ice skates, and even earrings for your doll. Yes, you can get your doll's ears pierced at the salon. WOW! We headed to the salon to get Bella's hair done, one of the many splurges of the day. :-) {we had to look at everything!!!}
The doll hair salon is just a miniature boutique. We had to pick out what style we wanted in Bella'a hair and get our appointment time. Crazy, I know! Our appointment time was for 11:00am which was an hour and 15 minutes later which I thought was plenty of time we might get bored.... NOT! We ended up being in this one store for over 2 hours! We looked at everything, some things 2 or 3 times. Rosie was given some money to get an outfit all by herself and Mommy and Daddy were going to get her a few things for her birthday as well. She had fun picking out just what she wanted. She really wanted a swimsuit outfit, so that is what she spent her money on. She must be a bargain shopper like her mom because her purchase included a package which was 2 outfits in 1! WooHoo! After making our purchases, we headed back up to the salon to see Bella get her hair done.

{Doll Hair salon}
Rosie was in heaven. She learned how to take care of her doll and got to pick out the colors of ribbons for Bella's hair.

The whole process is done slick. There were so many girls there running around and mother's trying to keep track of their girls, but the salon worked really smoothly and was really neat. When we were done, we were both starving so we put our bags on our shoulders and headed out to the city to find a fun place to eat. Rosie got to pick supper the night before, so mommy got to pick where we ate for lunch. I picked a cute little place a couple blocks away and it smelled so yummy as we walked in the door.

{a girl in heaven}

On the kid's menu was fancy kid's drinks... and what do you know Rosetta's Roman Holiday! Of course that is what our girl had to get.

{Our fancy Kid's menu}

{Rosetta's Roman Holiday Drink}

{Bella's new hairdo}
And Bella got a seat at the table... this lasted until lunch on Sunday when daddy told her the doll isn't real and isn't going to sit at the table anymore. :-( What a party pooper. We shared a wood fired pizza and some bread and dipping oil. Teaching Rosie the finer things in life was priceless. I am so thankful what god has given us and that I get to pass things on to my daughter is an amazing blessing. We enjoyed our lunch and having a comfortable seat to rest our feet. After our tummies were full we headed back out on to the streets and to do more shopping. At this point Rosie was getting a little tired so after a few stores we happened upon the Hershey Store. Yum Yum! After getting a few souvenirs for the family at home and paying for chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolates, we walked over to the park across the street and sat sipping our drinks. As we were sitting there we saw horse drawn carriages trot by ... on impulse I asked Rosie if she would like a ride and picking up our drinks we hopped in.

{On a chocolate High!}
What a priceless moment!!! I have never taken a carriage ride... I had always dreamed of taking a carriage ride with Nate in Chicago with a blanket and Christmas lights... or in NYC in Central Park.... but this was even better (sorry Nate :-) I got to experience this carriage ride with my oldest daughter.

{mommy and daughter -- I Love this pic!}
We got to see the skyscrapers, the lake, and the oldest fire station in Chicago. As we sipped on our hot chocolates it was a picture perfect scene.

{oldest firehouse in Chicago}
I decided to leave Chicago on a high note... before someone got too tired and we headed to the truck. Before we were out of the Parking Garage ... Rosie was OUT!

{the lovely park we ate our chocolate chip cookies}

{she won't remember the ride home... because she just slept the WHOLE way!}

When we got home, she couldn't wait to show all her goodies to her brother and sisters and give them their gifts that we got them. She wasted no time putting her new pjs on and Bella's matching set. We had a wonderful time and I only hope she remembers the trip. It was fun to spend time with her and spoil her just a little. Can't wait for my next trip to Chicago... next time more Mommy shopping!!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

This Veterans day

Today on this Veterans day, 11.11.11 I would like to take time to thank the many veterans from our armed forces that served our country or are serving here at home or a far. Thank you for your service and dedication to protect our country. And thank you especially to my father-in-law Bill who served in Vietnam, we love you very much and are so proud of your service!!! {my father in law during Vietnam}
I am very thankful for those that dedicate their lives to protecting this country and I often take for granted the freedoms I have here in the United States that some people in other countries are still struggling to have to this day! Take time to thank the vets in your family today.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

2 Weeks til Thanksgiving!

{our thankful tree}
As Charlie Brown's Christmas song is playing in the background I write this blog. "Christmas Time is Here" I do want to make sure I don't forget a very important holiday before Christmas and no it isn't my birthday *wink* its thanksgiving. I am always trying to find something new and special to do with the kids almost everyday. I scower pinterest and other blog favorites to find new things. And something I found is a thanksgiving tree. It's a fun learning activity and cute holiday decoration. SCORE! Gigi was practicing her scissor skills on something other than her hair and tracing the leaves she pulled off my house plant. (I told her we were going to make leaves for our tree and she came to me with a handful of my heuchera leaves -- "like these, Mom?") After being pulled off the plant, I guess they made good stencils. Oh, well.

{the supplies for our project}

{tracing with alot of focus}

{Li Miss kept busy during the project having her first taste of oreos}

People on facebook have been posting what they are thankful for on their status everyday up to thanksgiving. I thought I would consolidate mine on the blog. The first thing I am thankful for and utterly blessed beyond belief is to have my wonderful husband. This man is my best friend and knows me better than I know myself. Last Tuesday night as I was running out the door to bring bubba to Tae Kwon Do & just catching my breath from running the girls home from swimming lessons, and making sure everyone's bellys were full not to mention make sure homework was completed and put away in their folders to go back to school -- Nate stops me and asks if I would want to call a babysitter for the weekend and go out on a date. I was stopped suddenly in my tracks. I think I had to check if my shoes made blackies on the kitchen floor. "Really?" I respond and before he could answer me back I am dialing the babysitter's number. We were both in need of some one on one time. We get so busy and we don't always get to talk like we want to and staying up lately to talk hasn't been an option because one of us are usually passed out soon after the kids bed time. So a date night was music to my ears. We were only out from 6 - 8:30 and spent the last hour at Toys R Us buying Christmas gifts, but it was "Us" time. That time is very rare with four little kids running under our feet constantly. Literally, I think I tripped head over heels over Gigi this morning as I was rushing everyone out the door to school. I had a basket full of dirty clothes in my hands and I am sure it was a sight as I fell (it felt like slow motion) flat on face in the foyer. I have such a wonderful husband that when I sent him to the store yesterday to pick up brown rice and pork sausage, he comes home with flowers. So sweet!! I know I don't tell him enough but he is amazing and I am one lucky girl!! So I am eternally thankful that the Lord put him in my life.

{the first leaf on our thankful tree}

{my flowers from my husband -- cyclamen}
{Gigi's first leaf}

I asked what Gigi is thankful for ... and after much deliberation and asking what that means.... she said she was thankful for Hugs. I love the mind of a child. Describing what "thankful" means we talked about things that God put in our lives that we are so glad he did, things we don't want to live without. I told her my first leaf is Daddy. She said Hugs... she likes hugs. Don't you just love her! She likes mommy hugs, daddy hugs, sissy hugs, and puppy hugs. Heart warming!!! And that brings me to the second thing I am thankful for is my children. I couldn't imagine life without any of them. They have brought meaning to my life and I waited my whole life to be a mom and while not ever day is exactly as I had planned, I wouldn't trade the day for the world. The kids have a piece of my heart and I ache when they ache. This week all of them have been sick and when they can't sleep, mommy can't sleep because I am running through my head if there is anything I can do to make them feel better. They make our life so much more colorful. Can a girl be this blessed?? Another thing I am thankful for is my family. Both my immediate family and my husband's family are the most kind and thoughtful people you could ever meet. The way they have supported Nate and I the last 2 years is beyond amazing and we are a stronger family because of them. We miss you all and can't wait to spend time at the holidays with you.

So there is 3 of my thankful leaves... the next 7 are as follows:

4) my friends -- we have some amazing friends who have become like family

5) my new town -- I really am thankful to have moved to a place where it is so convenient to get to anywhere... and a little closer to "home." Because "home" will always be where my mom is.

6) Starbucks -- I know this is so artificial, but where would I be without Starbucks somedays? On the couch exhausted beyond belief is where!

7) my iPhone -- this is my connection to the outside world. My grip to adult conversation even if it is through texting. I resisted against the iPhone a long time just because Nate was obsessed with it, but now I see why.

8) my puppies -- Dodger and Archie, my first babies. They always know when I need a cuddle and the kids have fallen so deeply in love with each of them. I was so distraught when we couldn't find Archie before Lil Miss's party but luckily our neighbor had found him and heard me outside shouting for his name. Lord help me when anything happens to either of them.

9) the YMCA -- this has become my home away from home. I have been going there at least 3 days a week to work out and the kids take their swimming lessons there, tae kwon do, cheerleading, and drum class and just Tuesday night I took my first Zumba class. What Fun!!! We spend alot of time at our local YMCA.

10) my crafting nook -- I am so thankful to have an area where I can keep my mountains of crafting supplies and that they are at my finger tips for a quick project like the thankful tree. It makes me a happier mommy when I get to have a outlet for my creative side!

Well, that is 10 of the thankful leaves for this month.... more to come. Now I am off to listen to some beautiful music provided by Gigi. She just loves to peck away at the ivory keys. Me and Lil Miss are in for a concert... be jealous!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

{a view from our backyard today!!}

The Candy Bowl is slowly dwindling, the Kit Kats have disappeared, the pumpkins are rotting waiting to be placed in the garbage can for collection this week, and the costume have been hung with all the other dress up clothes to be played with on days we need an all-out Star Wars Battle. Halloween is over and now we all are ready thinking of the holidays. It is an EXPRESS train to the end of the year. *Gasp* It always goes by in such a blur -- a glimpse of sparkle and parties & quick catch ups with people you wish you saw more but often don't. It's my favorite time of year and lasts only a brief moment. I have already started to listen to Christmas music, personally I don't think it is played enough. Actually Holly Jolly Christmas is playing in the background right now. Who can't smile when they hear sleigh bells in the background and a familiar Bing Crosby tune on the radio? Certainly not me!! I have the perfect place for our tree already scoped out and just need a go ahead from the "boss" to put it up. I wasn't the first one this year to put up the tree. On Oct 29th I got a text from one of friends with a picture of her tree all up with the lights on. She beat the Christmas Queen!

****spoiler alert -- do not read on is you believe in Santa Claus, Tooth Fairies, Easter Bunny or Unicorns! **** Santa has begun his Christmas shopping. He made a budget with Mrs. Claus and they are really trying with all their might to keep it in check. It is incredibly hard not to get sucked in to "keeping up with the Joneses". You talk to other Mrs. Clauses and discover what their kids are getting kids are getting and just don't want to be a scrooge, but you also don't want the kids spoiled beyond belief either! If they get everything they ever wanted then they never learn things like working for something, being patient, & the important rule of just because you "want it" doesn't mean you "need it!"

I grew up with so many things, for Christmases were amazing and we got great gifts from Santa. We were so blessed and privileged to receive the blessings we did. I think the first year we had Christmas with the kids we went WAY overboard. I think Santa tried to make up for the years he wasn't able to shower the kids with gifts at Christmas. It was amazing the very first Christmas with the kids. The had no clue what to expect. I remember that Christmas morning the kids were sleeping in to 9:30 and Nate's older brother couldn't stand it and had to go wake them up! They had no clue what was waiting for them under the tree. The amazement in their little eyes at the bounty Santa had brought them was priceless!!! The following year they had expectations what Santa was going to bring and we had to live up to them. Now they have this sense of entitlement and I am struggling with how do I teach them the power of hard work and not getting everything on a silver platter. But also am torn because I love to spoil them rotten and getting a squeal of delight out of them when they get something they were wishing for. The dilemmas of being a Mom. I am taking the Forgetting the Joneses Holiday Challenge at mommysavers.com. Trying to keep all my holiday spending in check. I think I have already made an impact on how i spend over this time of the year. Check it out!

So this year we are trying to stick with a budget and simplifying our lives. Listening to Judy Garland singing "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" and spending time with one another is all we need. Sitting reading a book with my kids is so much rewarding them having them burying their heads in the DS or becoming zombies in front of the Wii. So now that my budget is set and lists have been made, I am ready to shop and then be done and start enjoying my holidays. Their can't be enough nights in front of the fire reading the Night before Christmas. Because as soon as it starts.... the holidays are over!
{the snow has started here..... I hear the salt truck! }