Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Tonight when the boys realized I was going to Zumba, they begged to be allowed to come! They've heard so much about it but have never seen it or me do it and they are so curious. I couldn't help but think of them as I was "Zumba-ing" tonight.

There are so many different people that go to my Zumba class and each one has something that makes them stand out. There is an older Indian man who has befriended me. He is an international folk dancer and oh, you should see his moves! He has feet that are quick and light. He moves to his own beat and it sends my boys and Ben into gales of laughter to watch me imitate him:)

There is Maria, a new Zumba fanatic. She joined in the last month and just fell in love with it! She is a round, shorter Hispanic lady that giggles like a schoolgirl throughout the class. I officially met her tonight and was amazed to find that she has 3 grandchildren of her own. She is very sweet and even Zumbas at home when she can't find a class to go to!

There is another lady, perhaps Puerto Rican, who comes occasionally, who moves her hips constantly. I have never before seen anyone able to shimmy and move with such grace and such freedom! My hips do not cooperate with me, much to my grief. This lady has some very salsa, Latin dancer type moves and it's fun to watch.

There are two middle aged ladies that come together each week. They can't do a ton of bending but they constantly crack each other up with their renditions of the moves. They are very fun.

But my favorite Zumba member is George. I have described him before. Skinny, tight biker shorts and tank top, florescent yellow shoes that hurt the eye and an intimidating enthusiasm for Zumba-ing! Wow. I often have to stuff down the laughter, not laughing at him in meanness, but because he is SUCH a character. He leaps about the room with such unbridled enthusiasm that people cannot dance too close to him for fear that he will knock them over! He leaps, he prances, he shakes, he sweats SO much by the end of class but you should see the smile on his face! He has such a good time. By far, the most memorable experience with him was when our Zumba instructor, Laima, darted over during a song to turn the music up and George was so caught up with following her moves that he went running after her!

It still makes me laugh every time I think about it!

I may not be very consistent with my exercising, even though I have fresh hope each week that it will be so, but I have truly enjoyed every moment of my Zumba class and hate to miss one. I recommend it to anyone and everyone if you want to do some exercising that is truly fun. There are people that come ranging from giggly teenagers to 70 something year old men!

I came home from class to find both my boys sprawled out on their beds in nothing but their undies, desperate to fall asleep but unable to because of the heat. The temperature was in the mid 80s today and as soon as it gets hot, our upstairs gets SO hot. It traps all the heat in and makes sleeping almost unbearable. Luckily, the boys get to have the ceiling fan now that we switched rooms. I turned that on and got Samuel settled on the floor under it and got Zakkai up to go to the bathroom. He is sometimes really out of it when I get him up. He looked at me and I thought he was awake because he was hot but as soon as I stood him up and tried to walk him out of the room, he grabbed onto the bunkbed and held on with all his might and said, "Nooo! Mommy, I need to fall asleep. I need to. I just want to fall asleep. Don't do this, Mommy!"

I could tell he wasn't quite with it, so I pried his fingers off and cajoled him into the bathroom. I wonder if he had just been falling asleep when I came in. Thankfully, both boys are out now and hopefully things will cool down tonight.

I'm off to sleep to refresh myself for another busy day tomorrow!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Painting, Petite and Summer

On Saturday, before we went out to play, I set the kiddos up with some painting. First Zakkai was going to work on painting a wooden train set he got for his bday, then Missy Girl started begging to paint (which I am ashamed to say is because she rarely gets to do it!) and before I knew it, I had all 3 at the table happily painting!

It's a good thing I put a paint shirt on Eliana because she used it and used it well!

I put her paper and paints in boxes so she wouldn't paint all over the table. It worked well!!

She had such a great time that she was at the table far longer than the boys. I thought she'd never finish!

Mr Z painting his train:) He painted it black, blue and red and later after it dried, added stickers. Cute gift!

Samuel painted a nice picture with grass, a road, cars, stop signs and more. A far cry from the scribble paintings he used to do when he was little!

He loves to do art and says it's one of his favorite subjects in school!!

On our way back to our car from the Point, we stopped at a little playground to play some more. Hard to resist 3 pleading faces on a beautiful sunny day! Eliana got her first try in a "big" swing because they were so low to the ground. She loves to swing!

Zakkai showed off his mad bar skills:)


There he goes! He did this over and over as many times as he could in the 10 minutes we played there. I would be so dizzy if I did that!

Today I took Eliana in for her 2 1/2 year check-up (a new thing, apparently). She's  doing so great with physical development and speech. They reassured me that her heart murmur is fine and will cause no problems (it's nice to have that reassurance every so often!) and once again, she is low on the charts and has inherited her mommy's shortness:) I thought for sure she was at least 30 pounds because it feels like it when she's stuck to my hip like glue! But she came in at 26.4 lbs and only 33 inches tall. That would be 22 % for weight and 3rd % for height. I'm going to re-measure her because it seems a little strange that she would've only grown a quarter of an inch in 6 months. Her legs are definitely longer and she's finally growing out of 18 month clothes mostly.

Of course, now that I write that....she is 2 1/2 and still wearing 18 month clothes:) That should tell me something! She wears sizes ranging from 18 mos-2T, depending on how big/small it is. At least she doesn't outgrow sizes quickly! We just moved her up to a size 6 shoe, which will fit her for quite awhile.

She talks like such a champ. I know it's because she looks up to S and Z so much and has listened to them chatter non-stop for 2 1/2 years! She says such funny non-sensical things now! She randomly said at dinner the other night, "She not have nuffin' (nothing) to do." And repeated it about 20 times! She alternates between referring to herself with "I", "me", "she", "Missy" or "Eliana.". Or any combination of them! For instance, a couple weeks ago, she fell and she wailed out, "She hurt my knee!" or recently she might say, "Me not want to eat dat!" The whole "me" thing is a new one and it always reminds me of Cookie Monster! She calls herself "Missy, Missy Girl, Ewlyiana, Princess Baby (after a favorite book of hers) and it changes daily! She has tons of nicknames, too. We called her "Missy, Missy Girl, Baby Doo, Princess Eliana (after the book again), Little Darlin', Baby Cakes, Baby Heart" and more. She loves to have nicknames:)

She is a little monster! She's been on a nap strike for the last 5 days, which has led to super early bedtimes but today I wore her out with the drs apt and a long walk to the park! I ended the strike, at least for today:) Score 1 for mommy!

With this nice weather, there has been an increase in the boys' "in and out" of the house thing. I dreeeeaaadddd a whole summer of that! I started to feel really overwhelmed yesterday at the thought of summer approaching so rapidly (they are done at the end of May!). It's not that I don't want to spend the extra time with my boys, because I do, but it's a combination of the influence of too much time with the neighborhood kids, the constant in and out, the job of becoming neighborhood mother to the unsupervised kids, the endless begging for junk food (due to the influence of neighborhood kids with junk food) and on and on. I really dread that!

I started hunting up ideas for keeping them occupied and am hoping to have a little more structure this summer so they get good outside time but we do fun things together also. I am always open to suggestions! I hope I can really treasure my time with them and not spend the days impatient or not accomplishing anything. IF it is to be our last summer in Chicago, then I want it to be a good one!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Great Outdoors

 It was such a beautiful day yesterday! Ben had to return some books back in our old stomping grounds so we decided to make it a family affair and have a little fun! We packed up our leftover homemade pizza from Friday night, made a stop at the local produce store that we miss SO much and headed down to the Point by Lake Michigan.

The boys brought their scooters and soccer ball and Ben had fun kicking it around with them. Mostly Samuel because Zakkai was more interested in eating fruit!!

Z is my little beggar:) Which mostly drives me crazy!

Beautiful blue sky!

Eliana went back and forth between making little kicks, offering Samuel his water and checking out the produce in the bag:)

Here is Z crawling to me with a terribly injured leg. Not. Oh, the drama these boys can cook up!

Ben loves to torture the boys so he snatched up Samuel and told him he was going to throw him in the lake and Zakkai ran after him. Of course, Samuel didn't get thrown in but thoroughly enjoyed screaming and laughing about it!

Eliana only needed a wipe to keep her occupied. She wanted to change Baby Anna's diaper but since Baby was in the car, she settled for wiping down the boys' scooters:)

After horsing around for awhile, we went to go sit on the rocks and look at the skyline and the water!

It is a cool city!

My favorite people in the whole world!!

Then we spotted a tiny beach down at the bottom of the rock steps and we all climbed down to have a little fun.

The boys' shoes and sock quickly came off!

And of course, Missy needed hers off, too! She just walked around, sprinkling sand everywhere and inspecting the boys' sandcastles.

They got busy right away trying to build and trying to keep the water from washing their creations away!

And we sat, soaked in the sun and found pure pleasure in watching our brood:)

Such a sweet girl!

We kept remembering how small the boys were when we used to live down here and spent lots of time taking walks to the Point and having picnics. They were good times!

The rock steps where people love to come sit, eat, talk and look.

My little darlings that drive me crazy and fill me with joy all at the same time!

It was such a great day!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Spring! Maybe.

The closer we get to May, the more hopeful all of us Mid-westerners get that spring will actually arrive someday soon! The constant up-down temperatures will even out. The muddy grass will dry up. The sun will shine more consistently and the wind will die down so that 60 degrees actually feels like 60 degrees instead of 50. We can put away our hats and coats for good and bring out the lightweight clothes that have been stored under beds, in closets or in Tupperware for the longest season of the year.

I remember just before moving here, being told that there were pretty much 2 seasons here. Winter and summer. I was like, "Wha? No. That can't be true! 9 months of winter?" It's pretty much true, my friends. We get about 3 weeks of fall, endless months of winter from Oct-May, a few weeks of beautiful weather in June and then we boil in July, August and part of September.

The bright side is (no pun intended..) that we do not take our sun for granted! We relish the gentle fresh air of spring (when it actually comes and stays), soak in the vibrant color of the green grass (before the summer heat kills it) and shade our eyes from the blindingly pale skin on our arms and legs.

Today, we finally reached one of those days. It's best not to look ahead in the forecast, we've learned. It changes every few days anyways. But just to enjoy what we've been given today!

The boys played and played after school until their cheeks were rosy, their hands were grimy with dirt and they smelled like sweat and outdoors. Eliana ran and ran as fast as her 2 year old legs (short ones, thanks to me!) could take her. The doors were cracked open this afternoon to let some fresh air blow away the staleness of winter and once again, I had hope that maybe, just maybe we'll be able to pack away our winter clothes soon.

Because I'm awfully sick of seeing the same sweatshirts and sweaters on all of us week in and week out! Bring on the color! Bring on the sunshine and spring!
We're ready!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Zany Zakkai

Yesterday, the second graders started the countdown til the end of school. That is crazy! The teachers put together an ABC countdown for the last 26 days of school. Yesterday was an Art Project and today they made Bookmarks. I really cannot believe the year has flown by so quickly! I already am filling out school forms for next year and it freaked me out a little to see "3rd" next to Samuel's grade and "1st" next to Zakkai's.

I can't even think about it! Tomorrow is Pajama Day for Zakkai's school and he is so excited! They are allowed to bring a favorite book, a pair of slippers and one stuffed animal to school. He has his all lined up next to his bed, ready to go:)

This afternoon, as we were coming in from school Z said, "Mommy, first the kindergartners have pajama day, then the first graders, then the second graders, then the third graders....(fast forward 2 minutes) and then the fourteenth grader, then the fifteenth graders and then the sixteenth graders!"

I paused and said, "Zakkai, there aren't sixteen grades. There are only twelve and then you go to college."

He immediately protested, as I knew he would, and exclaimed, "Nuh-uh!! There are sixteen grades in Samuel's school! I know there are!"

I said, "Zakkai, it goes up to sixth grade in Samuel's school. Not sixteen. I promise. Mommy does know a few more things than you."

He continued to argue with me until he put the question to Samuel, who deflated his balloon. What a kid!

He also argued with Ben a few nights ago that you could pass someone by in age. He insisted that one of his classmate's sisters was in preschool when he was a baby and now he was in kindergarten and she was still in preschool! Ben asked him, "So, are you going to be older than Samuel someday?"

He said yes. Because his birthday comes before Samuel's in the year:)

He keeps us on our toes!!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Busy Days!

 Wednesdays are one of my busiest days. I often look forward to and dread them all at the same time! The only part I dread about them is not having any down time at all until the kiddos go to sleep. Zero.

Hence me falling asleep listening to Z read me a story:)


Samuel came home from school with his rain forest poster and a perfect score for the whole project! He was very proud to share that, especially with Daddy:)


Eliana has been a stinker about naps the past 2 days. She skipped yesterday so I had her in bed asleep by 5:45 last night and do you know how long she slept??? 15 hours! I had to wake her up at 8:45 this morning so we could get ready to go to MOPS!

I think that was a little too long to sleep and it threw her off so once again she chose to talk and have a crib party instead. Hopefully, she'll get back on schedule tomorrow. Stinker.

I was trying to get dinner done as AFAP (as fast as possible!) tonight so I could get her in bed and to distract her from hanging on my leg crying for me to pick her up, which she loves to do at dinner time when she's tired, I gave her Window Markers and let her have at it!

It thoroughly occupied her til dinner was done!

She stored the markers in her car and would use them one at a time:)

Whoever created window markers was smart. And had kids ~ something I wonder about with some child toy inventors. Window markers don't make noise, clean off easily and they are fun because when does mommy ever let you draw on the window??


Monday, April 22, 2013

Sunshine Again!

 It has been extra lovely to see some sunshine the past few days, especially since we had all that rain last week. The nice thing about the rain was that it caused the grass to turn green!

The boys helped me do some serious basement cleaning on Saturday. We scrubbed and mopped and put things back in place. We found some more water under some furniture but after a couple more days of some serious fan action, it seems pretty dry! We'll see what the maintenance/contractor guy says when they inspect this week.

We took a break after working hard to take a walk in the sunshine! It was still cool but we couldn't resist:)

It's been really nice to see the boys playing so much outside!

Hopefully they can make up for lost time:) Samuel has a field trip to the zoo tomorrow and guess what? It's going to RAIN. Boo. He's really been looking forward to this field trip. Hopefully they will still have a good time!

Eliana did NOT want to leave the park that she has dubbed "Hello Kitty Park" (for some strange 2 year old reason!) but Daddy did a quick distract and put her on his shoulders and she thought that was pretty fun:)

Tonight we got to bring some dinner to some dear friends of ours who were blessed with an adorable baby boy 2 weeks ago! It was love at first sight for me and I know that little cutie is one blessed little guy to have such wonderful parents. I'm hoping they'll call me for some babysitting (Hint, hint:)

Eliana was so tired on the way home from their house tonight and she had started to melt a Hershey kiss she was given in her hand. I had no wipes so I told her she had to lick it off her hand. I took the rest of it and she alternately giggled hysterically at Samuel all the way home and cried for her "chocwate!" These 3 sure do spice up our lives:)

Friday, April 19, 2013


We are sitting here watching the news covering the capture of the Boston Marathon bombers. Wow. For someone who doesn't watch the news, I've sure seen a lot of this week! It has been just a terrible week, tragedy/crisis-wise in the U.S. Really heartbreaking for so many people!

I have been praying all week that justice would be served in the bombing case and that the police would catch the suspects. I would've been clapping on the sides of the streets with the Boston residents if I'd been there! All those law enforcement officials deserve big thank you's. I just hope that people can get some answers now so that there can begin to be healing and closure, although I know that will be a very long process.

Wow, what a week!

Ben and I had no idea that this crazy manhunt was going on! We were so busy today gathering cleaning supplies and beginning the process of cleaning our basement and storage closet. We tossed out a lot of stuff today, including a ton of boxes we'd saved for moving or for appliances. All my wrapping paper, some clothes and several of the boys' smaller outdoor toys were ruined. There are a couple of electrical things that we aren't sure about yet. Who knew that just a few inches of water could cause so much damage?? We began the process of bleaching off things and mopping at least some areas of the basement. We keep finding trapped water under things. We still have a lot left to do.

Our landlords were kind enough to make the washers/dryers free for at least a couple of days so we could all wash our flooded clothes/towels. I washed a huge pile of 11 towels this afternoon (once I was able to sneak a couple of loads in, between the neighbors!) and they were SO heavy with water that I could only lift 2-3 at a time! I put them through the washer twice, just to be on the safe side!!

As one of our landlords said today, as not fun as it has been to deal with this, so many people had it so much worse! In a nearby village 10 minutes away or less, residents were evacuated today because of the river flooding. Crazy!

This will definitely be a week to remember, that's for sure!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Flood in Chitown!

 We have had SO much rain here lately! It usually starts to rain either when I'm dropping the boys off at school or right at 3pm when I'm picking them up. And 9/10 times I forget the umbrella. sigh.

Yesterday, there was a horrible hail storm in the morning. As in, the ground was completely covered in hail in about a minute and it was loud and crazy! Then it rain off and on alllll day, which escalated into a downpour by bedtime.

And it didn't stop for almost 13 hours!! And I mean downpour. For 13 hours straight. We were woken up at 4am by a flood alert on our phones (anyone else get the new amber/weather alerts on their cells now?). We decided to go down and check our basement because we've had a tiny bit of flooding a couple times before. We came down armed with a stack of towels only to find it perfectly dry! We left the towels on the stairs just in case. You could hear the sump pump working hard all night long.

When we woke up and started getting everyone ready for school, we found that our backyard was a lake! There was SO much water and it was still pouring rain! Ben went down to check the basement and found that the usual water had come in through the front basement wall and was making it's way towards the stairs. We threw down towels all over and tried to soak up the mess. We peeked out into the common basement area (a long hallway that runs the length of all 4 townhouses and where our storage closets and laundry area is.) to see if anything was wet and found the ceiling outside our basement dripping and a little water running along the walls and into the drains. We called the landlords to give them a heads up and then went on feeding everyone.

Then Ben went to take the boys to school (a lot of schools were closed but not ours!) and this is what our street looked like! As my sister and a friend said, "What street?!" Ben was gone a lot longer than usual and when he came back he said that several side streets around the school were blocked off due to flooding and it had taken so long to get to school. Crazy!

I was skyping with my Sis in the mid-morning when Ben suddenly came up and told me he needed my help with the water. I came down to find that a gush of water had come into our basement under the basement door (that leads to the common basement area) and when I opened the door, not only did water come pouring in but I found one of our landlords sloshing through several inches of water. It was an absolute mess!!

I snapped a quick picture but it was still gushing in and rose a lot higher before it was all over. We grabbed every towel possible in the house and tried blocking up the door (it has a big gap underneath it) and the walls where it was coming in.

It was completely unstoppable. We spent so long wringing out towels in a bucket and dumping buckets of water out but it was seriously like bashing your head against the wall for the fun of it. Totally worthless!

The water continued to creep farther and farther into the basement until finally it covered every inch of it.

We stacked anything on the ground that was destroyable on the stairs.

The water was so gross and brown! Thankfully, it wasn't sewer water, just ground water but still! Gross.

It was between 2-3 inches deep, especially in the middle.

We had a huge stack of towels stuffed under the door but the water just came through the walls and there was nothing we could do. When we removed the towels so B could get out to see if anything was draining in the outer basement, water came pouring into our basement. We were a little overwhelmed because our landlords didn't do anything for a long time! They had turned off the sump pump because it couldn't keep up with the amount of water. We had no idea how we were going to clean this up!

Thankfully, not too much was destroyed. Some really minor stuff. The worst was a big library book of Ben's from school that will cost at least $100 to replace. We're a little sick about that but it could've been SO much worse...like the people whose cars fell in the sinkhole in SE Chicago! We feel so bad for the people who lost so much today and face a far, far bigger clean-up than we do.

In the mid-afternoon, the landlord's son came over and started pumping everything out into the parking lot. He assured us that it would come out of our basement, too and they would help get it cleaned up.

It took a LONG time to pump it all out. Ben pushed a lot of the water out as it pump out with a big brush (squidjee?) and the landlords handed out huge fans and de-humidifiers.

They only just left a bit ago after working for 5-6 hours! All the boxes in our storage closet were destroyed but I haven't the heart or energy to really investigate that closer. Maybe tomorrow.....

The storage doors are all propped open, our furnace has been relit and hopefully will keep working, the humidifier is going strong and we are left with the large task of mopping, cleaning and spraying down everything. Who knows what was in that water!!! They will be coming back to access the damage to the ceiling, woodwork and stairs carpeting.

Ours was the only one of all 3 of the buildings (one in front and one in back of us) to get completely flooded. Our neighbor on the very end was not called and warned about the flooding and came to our door at 5:30pm in tears because she had come home to find her basement filled, her piles of laundry completely soaked and some kitchen appliance she had stored, ruined. We felt so bad for her!

In a very baby way, it made me think of people who go through real actual floods and how that must feel. I can't even imagine! We are so thankful it wasn't worse, that we really have nothing to complain about like the people whose houses and cars are half under water. We got around 7 inches of rain in less than a day!!

Now, I'd better get a good night's sleep so I can have the energy to do some serious cleaning tomorrow!