Let me tell you a little something...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016
...about when a stomach bug starts making the rounds in a family's house.  Turns out I wasn't immune to what Will had, which was a double dose of a cold and stomach virus.  I got the stomach one.  Thankfully, Rich stepped in and kept things civil and the kids are quite self-sufficient these days.  I was thankful there was nothing pressing on the agenda for that 48-hour period.  When this happens (and I have cross-referenced with others on this), you quickly ditch the natural remedies and "feel good" products and go straight to the heavy-hitters.  Bleach was my friend and no washable surface was safe.  Sorry, Earth. Thankfully, the spread stopped with the two of us.

Now, winter progresses with the boys doing a baseball camp at the High School on a couple Saturdays this month, Paige doing a tumbling class in hopes to get a back handspring, and Will doing a speed and agility class.  We are looking into re-doing our flooring (a warning that I will be in ill mental health during this time) and are awaiting a reprieve from the sub-zero temps.

In thinking about making it through the winter, I got to reminiscing about how winters used to be.  Entertaining toddlers in the brutal days of winter were so different.  Some days were stay-in-all-day days, some times I'd LOVE to find activities to pass the time (library visits, jumping classes, hanging out at the mall).  So, in honor of these memories, here are some pictures.  Call it, "turn back time Tuesday."
Science museum!  A whole day of entertainment and guaranteed naps later!

Hang out days...that sometimes end in falling asleep on the couch. (Will)

Hey, no snow on the driveway!  Good enough for bikes!

Two words: cardboard boxes.

Snow play...in the age when the time it takes to get them bundled is longer than actual time outside.

Happy 2016!

Sunday, January 3, 2016
Tomorrow I will likely shower before noon.  We probably won't think of a reason to have a glass of wine in the evening.  I will have a written-down to-do list and I packed lunches tonight.  The holidays are officially over.

Will is likely giving himself an extension to Christmas break as he has been in bed much of the day with a sore throat, headache and low-grade fever.  My to-do list will still get done because things could get worse...I could get this virus going around and if that occurs, I must be prepared.

Thankfully, we made it through the holidays in great health and enjoying every second of family gatherings, Paige turning 13, the new year, and plenty of quiet family time.  Okay, sometimes it's loud.  Let's just call it family time.  Here are some pictures, starting with Paige's birthday gift which was taking a friend to the Jingle Bash concert.  It was a BLAST that I probably enjoyed too much as a grown woman.

 We gave her a traditional family party closer to her birthday.  She kept busy with pet sitting and babysitting over break - a sure sign she is getting older.
I love love that Olivia is in every one of my birthday pictures of Paige! :)

We had our first cousin sleepover with Olivia part of the gang at the Fox's house.  We decorated Christmas cookies and watched Christmas movies like Elf and Frozen Fever.  Olivia bailed for her own bed at bedtime (I mean, I can't blame her...beds are better), but it was a fun way to kick off break.
Let's just say the cookies weren't professional-worthy.  Sweet...yes.

Sleeping bags!

First you spread the frosting on...then you scrape it off and lick it.

Our Christmas celebrations were wonderful on both sides of the family, but...hello...never really took a good group shot at either celebration!  Enjoy these general Christmas photos of present opening and a family pic with our new selfie stick!

Christmas morning


Fashion! (PS: Cole did NOT wear an Oswego jersey on Christmas.  He brought it.  To put on after everyone saw him wearing something nice.  Which totally doesn't count.)

New Year's Eve was our traditional gathering here with a friendly competition throughout the evening to pass the time until midnight....
Candy Cane transfer round.  This pro did 3 at a time!

Our very own ball-drop!  Kids work on this every year and it is so great!

Selfie station! --With cousin Tim

Family pic
With Eggers cousins

I didn't think to take pictures of us lounging around in PJs watching movies...but that's how we spent much of break.  I did take pictures of an outing to an arcade/mini golf and a winter hike.  No sledding this break, as the weather was rainy or ice stormy.
Racing games

Shooting games :(

We got lost.  No joke.  Had to make an unscheduled lunch stop when we found our way  back because  by that time, everyone was STARVING!

Here's to a healthy and happy 2016!

The Holidays are Here!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015
As much as I put off "getting in the spirit" until after Thanksgiving, once the turkey holiday is here, I'm ready to dive in!  Christmas shopping is 95% done (thank you, Amazon), cookies are cooling on the counter and Christmas cards are here are halfway to getting in the mailbox.

Our elf visited...a sure sign the season is here.  Thanks to other school-aged kids, we started this tradition and have to admit, though tedious at times and easy to forget, it is still fun to see excitement from one (or giggles and smirks from others).  A little person who got curious with baby powder / marshmallows / toilet paper while we slept?  I mean, it's funny.

Thankfully, we've had time to relax and enjoy the season for what it's meant for also.  We kicked the season off with a beautiful Thanksgiving at my parents' house.
Cousins playing.  My guess, knowing Olivia, is that it had something to do with kitties.

Turkey coma

5th (I think?) annual sock stuffing assembly line for Hesed House
We followed Thanksgiving with Illumination at the Morton Arboretum.  (Or, according to the kids...follow the path to the next hot cocoa tent).  It was nice to spend time there versus in a mall like so many others on this day.

But, before all of that, Rich and I got a great little getaway to our old town of Champaign to meet up with my college roommates for a football game and night out.  It was great and especially neat to be there as they honored veterans the week of Veterans' Day.

So, now it is onto school parties, family gatherings and fun like that.  I'm keeping busy with volunteering, and keeping up with the household.  Of course, made possible with the help of my kids.  Here's an example:
Cole from upstairs: Hey mom! I made less laundry for you.
Me: Great! How'd you do that?
Cole: I just shoved my foot real hard in the hamper.

See?  Great helpers.

Change is Good

Monday, November 9, 2015
Though I know that change is good, I'm generally a "comfort in routine" type of person.  But I'm also in a constant effort to better myself and I know that embracing change would make me better.  Because change is coming.  Change in the form of:
  • The types of problems we come across as parents of slightly older kids (hint: it's not about pacifier habits or sharing toys anymore).
  • Weather.  Frosty grass just this morning, but not before an annual mega leaf day:

  • My daily schedule, which may involve commuting to a job in the near future. 
  • This girl.  Full-fledged teenager next month!

  • This blog.  I wish to keep it up, as it ends up being my only hard-copy photo album since I don't print pictures much these days.  Yet without my kids around many hours of the day, it's hard to report the little details in their day-to-day lives - the reason I began in the first place. 
  • My health...if I keep rummaging through my kids' Halloween bags at night!

Thank You Notes

Sunday, October 18, 2015
Since it's been a solid month since an update (and there has been a lot to update on!), I'm going to do a quick run-through of events as of recent in Jimmy Fallon thank-you note style.  Here goes:

Thank You...younger sibling,
For still bearing little kids I can cuddle and dote on and give right back!

Jacob Eli Fox...born 8.28.15     

Thank You...Midwestern weather,
For giving us reason to wear layers, but allowing us to fully appreciate a beautiful day!
A day at nearby Starved Rock on a gorgeous day off school
Thank You...cheer schedule,
For having the one day off that another kid has a commitment!

Thank You...mums,
For giving us color when all the other flowers have given up.

Thank You...Halloween stores,
For offering the choice of either Frozen costumes or sleaze costumes for tween girls.

Thank You...last camping trip,
For giving us a glimpse of imminent death as we looked down from some the awesome hiking.

Devil's Lake, WI
Thank You...pumpkin patches,
For being considered an October "must" or we would be "ruining a childhood," per Will.

Corn maze + Animals + pumpkins + climbing castle = happy childhood
Thank you...blog, 
For still being here even though it looked as though I had given up.

Thank you...weather persons, 
For predicting a milder winter. 

When Kids Get Bigger...

Saturday, September 19, 2015
I'm not just talking size bigger...but older bigger.  I've had many reminders lately that ours are bigger and I LOVE the things that come with it.  Of course I miss the other things like long snuggles, naps, a bin of cars keeping them busy for hours, etc.  But this big kid stuff can be pretty awesome and it takes taking a moment to step back and take a look to realize it (because it also comes with its share of bigger issues, homework and schedules).

Take last Saturday, for example.  The Illini game had been rained out Friday night and rescheduled for Saturday.  Which we had wide open.  So after having breakfast we decided to ride down for it.  It was easy!  I didn't have to pack a diaper bag, major snacks, changes of clothes, strollers, or think ahead to meals for the day.  We just went.  It was great!  And super hot.
The Alma Mater! (Or, putting it like the kids, "We have to take our picture with the statue again?"

Block I

New seats...in the shade!

An Illini Win!

And then there's the maturity.  (Well, some of the time there is maturity).  Will was home sick for a day and so I was getting him what he needed and making him comfortable.  At least three different times he thanked me for taking care of him.  Instead of saying that I kind of had to otherwise DCFS comes and takes him away, I simply filed that away for times I fear he might be insensitive or acts like he doesn't care.

After returning to school, he had a TON of make up homework.  It took the rest of the week to slowly trudge through it all.  Some of it required my help to decipher assignments.  He must have thanked me 4 times for this help.  Proof he is more and more self-sufficient.  We don't have to do as much for him.  When we do...it's noticed.

Similar types of proof of "bigness" have come from Paige and Cole as well.  Don't get me wrong.  We still have our moments and complete lapses of judgement here and there.  And then there's this question from Cole, "Do you think I can use some of my college money to buy a new iPod case?" And the tidbit from Will tonight that he's not ever having kids because he wants "lots of motorcycles and toilets with heated seats and stuff." 

So, there's still some "getting bigger" to do!