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.

Things that make me happy #13

Sure, Uncle Kevin and Aunt Debbie, I’ll water your plants for your while you’re out of town!

Colin had the best time watering the plants while his aunt and uncle were out of town and it was blistering hot outside.  It’s possible, though, that he watered himself as much as he watered the plants!  He sure had a blast – and that made me happy!

Making it rain

Making it rain

Things that make me happy #12

When my son is happy – either having a great, big belly laugh or just exploding with smiles – I’m happy right with him.  We’ve had a few happy child moments lately that I’ve made sure to capture and smile along with.

The first was on Thursday night.  Even though it was incredibly hot and humid outside, we decided to visit the Morton Arboretum for another Thursday Family Nights.  (I told you that we’d probably be visiting more often now that we have a membership!)  We saw a great performance by Super Stolie.  She had a whole dancing section set up in the grass for the kids.  Colin took full advantage of all the space to jump around, shake his groove thing, and keep his whole body moving.  Even though it was really, really hot and our pink noses were covered in little drops of sweat, Colin kept the fun times rolling.

Things that make me happy #11

I used my new lawn mower today – and I love it!  (Sometimes it’s the weird little things that can make your day great.)

When we bought our new house, I knew that my old plug-in lawn mower wasn’t going to work with our new, larger backyard.  There was no way that the extension cord was going to reach from the outlet on the house to the back corner of the yard, so we sold my old mower.

Last weekend, I borrowed my brother’s gas-powered, self-propelled lawn mower so that I could cut my grass.  It was a nice mower, but it was big and heavy and the grass was long and still wet in spots.  I did not have a fun time cutting the grass last week and was afraid that I was going to hate something that I used to love as long as I lived in this house.

We put a lot of thought into which battery-powered mower I would be most happy with before buying a new one.  We decided on a Black & Decker mower.  It arrived earlier this week and Sean got it running for me today.  It’s so light and quiet and starts with the push of a button and the squeeze of a handle.  At times, I felt like I was vacuuming instead of cutting the grass.  It still takes me a lot longer to cut the grass than it did before, but I know that I’m not going to hate and dread it for the remainder of the time that we live here – and that makes me happy!

Things that make me happy #10

We had a really fun day yesterday!  We started the day biking through the neighborhood to our local school to spend some time playing at the playground.  There’s a rope bridge, swings, rock climbing wall, monkey bars, tire swing, slides, and a lot more.  It was a warm, sunny morning, so I was extra happy when I discovered the shady “fort” under one of the slides.  It had two benches and was the perfect spot to sit down, cool off, and enjoy our water.

After our playground play time, we headed home for lunch with a good friend from our old neighborhood.  We had so much fun catching up, playing soccer in the backyard, eating lunch on the patio, playing trucks in the grass, and having a pretend birthday party in our little play house.

When our friends left, we took a much needed snooze and woke up in time to pack sunbutter and jelly sandwiches, raspberries, and water, pick up daddy from the bus stop, and head to the Morton Arboretum for Thursday Family Nights.  (I bought an arboretum membership, so I’m sure we’ll be visiting a lot in the near future.)  We watched dancers, listened to music, climbed tree houses, waded in streams, and danced through the mist fountain.  It was an absolutely fabulous evening to spend outside.

We were busy outside all day long (with the exception of our nap), the weather was gorgeous and sunny, and my son was a happy boy.  All of those things make me happy!

Quality conversations with your child

In order to get the most complete answer with all the details that you’re hoping for, you have to know the right question to ask.  When it comes to children, the slightest difference in the wording of the question and the speed of your response seems to be extra important.  While it’s hard to remember these tips from “in the moment”, they are probably good rules of thumb to start practicing in everyday conversations with your children.

Click here for this expert’s tips to keep the conversation with your child flowing.

Things that make me happy #9

It’s the first official day of summer!  As spring transitions into summer, the garden changes – more green plants sprout from the ground, plants get taller, and new blooms appear.  The other day, I noticed that the coneflowers are almost ready to bloom.  That is a sure sign of summer and an open invitation for butterflies to come and visit the backyard.  Yay!

Coneflowers ready to bloom

Coneflowers ready to bloom

Things that make me happy #8

I ran a few shopping errands today as I could use some new summer shirts and a pair of sandals.  I didn’t find any shirts or shoes that I liked, but I did find quite a deal on a new bag (which I also needed, but wasn’t shopping for today)!  I first saw it in red, which I seem to have a thing for red bags.  It clashed a bit with the purple top that I was wearing, so I looked around for a more neutral color.  It also came in black, but I wasn’t loving it.  I was carrying the two bags around the purse section of the department store when I came across the clearance table.  Much to my surprise, the same bag, but in a cute summery blue color, was there marked at half price!  When I got to the register, it rang up at an even more discounted price – only $25!  I saved over $59!!!  To top it off, I actually like the color on the clearance bag even more than the full price colors.  I am not a person that shops for deals or can ever even find a deal, so this was a big deal for me!

Things that make me happy #7

What an amazing first weekend of summer!  The weather could not have been better – sunny, warm, dry, blue skies, light breezes – the perfect weather to open the windows and let summer blow through the house.  It was also full of fun times with family, friends, and neighbors.

On Saturday afternoon, we celebrated a neighbor friend’s 4th birthday with a backyard taco party.  There was outside water table fun and inside playtime with transformers, a train game, and more.  On Sunday, we visited with other friends for a hamburger and hot dog bbq.  The kids rode bikes, painted, and played kick ball together.  Everyone ate too much good food!  After the little guy went to bed, we “stooped” with some of the neighbors and caught up on the gossip of the past few days and enjoyed a relaxing beverage or two.  Monday was a true holiday with nothing but fun on the calendar.  We found a good spot in the shade to watch the Norwood Park Memorial Day Parade.  They showcased old cars, marching bands, and did a great job of recognizing the vets who were watching along the parade route.  We had some fun outside playtime launching water balloons, building sand castles, and riding bikes later in the day.

I have to add that there were a few spills and tears throughout the weekend.  But scraped knees, bumps, and bruises are really the true signs of fun summer playtime, right?