The end of summer

Last week marked the end of summer for us.  I did my best to plan some regular fun activities as well as a few adventures that were just off the beaten path for the last few days of summer break.

We spent a long day at the pool and beach staying cool, playing catch in the water, going down the big slide, and digging holes in the sand with friends.  We took a relaxing ride in a paddle boat – maybe next summer my little guy will be able to reach the pedals!  Lastly, we watched hundreds of yellow, pink, and blue rubber duckies float down the river in a fundraising race.  Our son is convinced that our ducky won!  Mixed in with these fun water-based outings was at least two trips to fun playgrounds.

We were not ready for summer to be over and for school to begin – we’ve been having too much fun this summer!  But, our son loves school and is so excited to be able to see his friends every day again.  I’m hopeful that he has many great memories from this summer to think back on while he’s daydreaming at school!

Stuck in a sand pit

Stuck in a sand pit

Things that make me happy #17

This is a continuation of a series of posts that I wrote last year about the little things in life that make me happy.  I was just sitting outside as the sun was setting and realized something that made me really excited.  My son and I have actually been waiting for this for a week or two now…and it’s finally here!  When you sit outside at night, you can now hear the constant hum of cicadas, June bugs, and tree frogs!  To me, that is the most comforting sound of summer.  Even when it’s hot and sticky, I love to sleep with a window open in my bedroom so I can hear the sounds of the nighttime summer bugs and critters.  I challenge you to sit outside some night soon and listen.  I’m sure that the sounds will make you smile!  (Try catching one of those fast lightning bugs while you’re out there, too!  You might also want some bug spray, though, for those pesky mosquitos.)

Things I wish all adoptive parents knew – a birthmother’s blog post

While I know that I will never fully comprehend all the feelings and wishes that birthmothers have both before placing a child for adoption and for years after, I greatly appreciate the small glimpses that they occasionally share via blogs, posts, and videos.  They provide adoptive parents like me good reminders for how they are still a huge part of our family, even though they might not be a part of our day-to-day lives.

I hope you appreciate this post as much as I did.  Please click here to read it.

78 days of summer kindness

78 of our 83 days of summer have a good deed hidden among them somewhere.  Our son’s summer learning challenge from school is to work together with us and show our school pride by being kind to others.  Our son is loving this summer challenge!  He gets so excited to read what each day’s challenge is.  It includes simpler tasks such as setting the table or watering the flowers, which he does regularly anyways.  A few days, he’s asked to do a chore without us knowing or clean up without being asked.  Those good deeds are fabulous, but a bit more difficult to help him to accomplish.  A fun one so far was to compliment the first 10 people that we saw that day.  It’s hard for little ones to give compliments, but he did a great job.  To reach our goal, we rode our bike around the block and gave compliments to our neighbors.  It made all the neighbors smile and our son was proud, too.  One day he needed to wash someone’s car, so his older cousin brought her car over and they gave it a good wash.  Another day, he needed to write a letter to someone who made a positive difference in his life.  He chose one of his other cousins who I’m sure will be thrilled when he receives his surprise letter in the mail.  The mail delivery person just stopped at our house and found the thank you note that we left for him.  I can’t wait to see what note he wrote back for our son.  Today’s challenge is to leave some positive chalk art around our neighborhood.  I don’t think we’ll have a problem accomplishing this, but it could take a while as I’m sure our son will want to stop by all his friends’ houses to leave them a message!  As we work our way through our challenges as the summer goes on, I’ll post more updates about how our son is doing with his random acts of kindness.  We hope you find time this summer to add a few random acts of kindness to your days!

Leaving positive chalk art around the neighborhood

Leaving positive chalk art around the neighborhood

How we’re celebrating our 83 days of summer…a new series

What most of us wait for in Chicagoland all year long is finally here – summer!  The joys of summer are endless – sleeping with the windows open, no more extra layers of clothes, not having to run out the door right when you wake up to get the kiddos to school, eating meals outside on the patio multiple times a day, running through the sprinkler, roller coasters, bike rides, baseball in the backyard, chatting with the neighbors who venture outside to enjoy the weather, and so much more.

We’re already 15 days into our 83 day adventure.  It definitely took some time to work through the transition of not seeing school friends every day and our son not having a set routine and me not having free time to run errands and clean bathrooms.  I think we’re finally in a good summer groove, though, as t-ball has started so we’re seeing some friends regularly, one of the camps has started so we’re making new friends and coming home worn out, and the weather has gotten warmer, so the outdoor pool should start to warm up!  It’s our first full summer in our new town, so we are still exploring new places and trying new restaurants, but we’ve also been in town long enough that we’re running into friends at the library and playground, which is so fun.

What have we done so far?  A favorite is to ride bikes around the neighborhood, stopping to play with any other kiddos that might be out.  We’ve visited the library and love the graphic novel section, pokemon books, and iPad games. We’re exploring the riverwalk, finding the statues hidden around the downtown area, and grabbing take-out from our favorite restaurants. We live close enough to the downtown area of our town to walk to see parades with classmates and friends marching in it.  T-ball practice has started and it’s so fun.  The first game is next week – wish them luck!  We’re still taking swimming lessons so that when Centennial Beach warms up a bit, our son will finally be a strong enough swimmer to go down the slide.  Sean and I celebrated another wedding anniversary and we happened upon La Sorella di Francesca’s opening night of their outdoor patio seating.  It was an enjoyable dining experience where I ate way, way, too much!  Of course, we’ve checked out a touch-a-truck event and got to climb into a cherry picker and honk the horn of a huge cement mixer.  We invited an older cousin to come over so that we could wash her car as a good deed for the day.  We’ve checked out the DuPage Children’s Museum and can’t wait for their new water exhibit to open up in a few weeks.  Lunches and dinners have been eaten on the patio.  How could I forget playgrounds?  We’ve gotten our first set of blisters from sliding down fire poles and cruising across monkey bars.  Another favorite is playing in the yard.  There’s baseball, catch, basketball, frisbee, tag, hide and seek, and tree climbing that all happen almost daily at our house.  We’re keeping the tomatoes, broccoli, and basil watered in our new vegetable garden and are trying to grow cucumbers and pumpkins from seed to add later.  We’ll have to wait and see how our green thumb does!

We’ve had our share of injures already, too, but we’re all on the mend.  The last day of school was spent in the ER with a fall on the playground, I got my foot stuck in a door on Memorial Day and still haven’t been able to put my shoe on correctly, and one of us fell out of a tree and added a pretty good bump to their forehead.  I’m hopeful this is the extent of the rough injuries, but I’m sure we’ll still need many more band-aids this summer.

What’s in our future?  Santa’s Village, paddle boats, museums, playdates, birthdays, concerts, fun with cousins, and so, so much more.

Looking back and looking forward

I just realized that I haven’t written a blog post in over 2 months!  With all the holidays – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years – we have all been very busy.

As 2016 came to a close and 2017 started new, we sat as a family and thought back to all that has happened over the year.  It was overwhelming to go through all of the changes – new jobs, new house, new school – that have impacted our family.  We’ve grown, tried new sports, needed to be sewn back together, explored many new places, lost a first tooth, both started new jobs, lost a family member, watched the Cubs finally win the World Series, started elementary school, made new friends, spent time with old friends, cried, laughed, learned how to read, learned how to swim, and moved to a new town.  It’s truly amazing all that was accomplished!

As we look forward, we already know that we will have many more new experiences.  Some of them we already know about – fun family vacations and summer baseball league.  Some will be exciting surprises.  Some will be unplanned challenges.  I look towards 2017 with optimism, hoping to be pleasantly surprised, and ready to smile.  I hope that this year is a year full of togetherness, happiness, and laughter.

Things that make me happy #16

Our son enjoys writing and sounding out words and he often sits at the desk in his room to practice.  I glanced in his room today to see what he worked on yesterday and saw the message below.  Definitely makes me smile!

A note from my son

A note from my son

Things that make me happy #15

We had an absolutely wonderful walk to school this morning and that makes me happy!  It was a brisk and sunny morning with a deep blue sky.  There were fuzzy white clouds sprinkled in certain areas of the big fall sky.  All alone in another section of sky, we saw the morning moon getting ready to set.  As we walked down the blocks, we saw beautiful fall trees – yellow, red, and purple leaves glowing brightly in the morning sun.  Of course, a walk to school is not complete without my son singing a song or two.  Today’s song was very appropriate based on our amazing surroundings – “America the Beautiful”.  All of this amazing beauty while hand in hand with my little guy…I could not have started my day any better!

Things that make me happy #14

It’s back to the outdoors and the pretty things that summer brings.  I was thrilled to see that some of the bushes at our new house flower in late summer.  What a nice surprise!

A surprise late summer bloom

A surprise late summer bloom

End-of-summer treat

I’m not sure how best to write this post – from the viewpoint of my son or my husband.  I’ll try my best to represent the joy that both sides experienced as a result of this end-of-summer treat.

School starts a bit earlier than we’re used to in the suburb that we now live in, so our summer was a little shorter than normal.  Add to that the excitement of beginning kindergarten and the sadness of missing his old house and friends, we knew that we wanted to give our son an extra treat as his summer vacation came to an end.  So, daddy decided to take a week off of work for a summer stay-cation!

We started the week with a trip to the DuPage Children’s Museum.  Our son was excited as he loves all the interactive exhibits at the museum and my husband was excited as he had never visited that museum before.  They both were thrilled that it’s so close to our new house!  They sang and danced in the Math + Motion exhibit, made shadows in Creativity Connections, hammered nails in Build It, made bubbles in Waterways, and much more.  We enjoyed an outside picnic lunch and then went back inside for more fun.  Of course, we decided to get a museum membership, so we’ll be back a lot.

The next day, we loaded into the car for a trip downtown to Maggie Daley Park.  Our son loves this park!  From a parent’s perspective, it’s a tough one.  It’s huge, hot, and crowded, but you can’t beat the fabulous views of downtown Chicago.  We lunched in Millennium Park and ended our visit with a cool splash in the Crown Fountain.  I think both of my boys took a nap in the car on the way home!

The next day was a new adventure for all of us.  We explored our new town and visited the Paddleboat Quarry.  It was our son’s first time in a boat, although he probably would have enjoyed a motor boat a bit more.  We paddled around a quaint tree-lined lake looking at fish and birds.  Later that day, we used our Morton Arboretum membership and enjoyed music by Little Miss Ann while we ate our picnic dinner.  Our son loves Little Miss Ann music and won a copy of her new CD when he won a dance contest that night!  It was an enjoyable day filled with outdoor exploring.

Saturday was a very special day for our son – his birthday party – which is always a fun day!  Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends came over to our house to enjoy the Batman birthday festivities.  There was pizza, pumpkin pie, and devil’s food cupcakes and rambunctious boys playing both outside and throughout the house all having a blast.  The birthday fun went well into the night with a few very tired boys by the time everyone left.

After sleeping in a bit the next day, we ventured back into town for an emergency vehicle show.  It was a fun chance to check out an ambulance, old and new fire trucks, police cars from today and years past, and specialty first response vehicles.  Our son climbed into the fire truck and ambulance and my husband admired the CHiPs (California Highway Patrol) police car.  The rest of the day was spent playing with the super fun new toys, books, games, and outside toys that he received at his party.

My husband’s last day off work was our son’s birthday – a super special day!  Our son decided that he wanted to spend the day with us at Santa’s Village.  We all spun, raced, and flew around on all the rides – the carousel, boat ride, race cars, tree house slide, balloon race, Kringle’s Convoy, Mighty Mate, Space Invasion, Dracor Dragon Coaster, Star Jets, SVFD Engine #3, Jed’s Antique Country Cruisers, Alaskan Railway, Ding ‘Em Dodge ‘Em Bumper Cars, Wacky Worm, and Snowball Ride.  (Some of the rides a few of us rode more than once!)

It was a great break for my husband to take away from work and a wonderful chance for him to spend some super fun time with our son.  Our son was beyond thrilled to get all the extra time with daddy to explore these fun destinations and build some really awesome Lego projects.