Jul 17, 2018

The week of the 4th

The 4th of July week was a real goodie!  We started with some neighborhood fun, went to a carnival party and finished with a few days at the lake!  It is no secret I have a sweet tooth!  I am known to constantly bake goodies at home "just because".  Well we don't have a kitchen right now so I have had to get creative.  We bought some zip lock popsicle bags and tried out a few juice flavors.  It is so easy to just pour juice in the ziplock and stick it in the freezer! We love going on boat rides during sunset in the summer and these popsicles help cool us off!
 Friends and neighbors of ours invited us to a 4th of July cookout!  Cindy went all out for this casual cookout!  She grew up loving the holiday and has continued a lot of her traditions for her own children.  We swam in the pool, ate lots of yummy food and junk, said the national anthem and finished the afternoon with homemade peach ice cream!

 Yes that is a plate full of cheeseballs!  Because why not right?
 Here is the hostess!
 And all the littles enjoying patriotic cookies.
 The adult spread...
And off course the cutest take away gifts for the littles. 
 The night of the 4th we went with friends to a carnival.

 There were so many rides, games, food trucks and fun to be had!  They even had a life size video game that the twins could not get enough of!
 This was such a fun crew!  Good variety of ages and the absolute sweetest kids.

 We let the twins stay up way past bedtime to see their first fireworks show!!
 The next afternoon (after sleeping in because we went to bed around 11) we headed to Ryan's parents lake house.

 This time of year, when the water is warm, it is non stop activities!

 Guess which twin loved the tube and kept asking to go faster?

We let Ellie drive the boat to dinner.  My favorite part of the lake is definitely the late night boat rides. 

The twins enjoyed their sparklers while we enjoyed wine and a lake sunset. 

 The next day Ryan showed the kids his wake boarded skills and then it started storming so we played games, ate dinner and headed back to Charlotte. 

I have always loved the 4th and we sure did make a lot of memories and added in some new traditions that I hope we are able to repeat every year!

Jul 11, 2018

Surprise trip to the Windy City

Our favorite thing to do as a family is travel.  Not just the actual vacation, but the planning and research prior and the memories, pictures and home videos after.  Because of that we have never surprised the kids with a vacation.   We also rarely go somewhere without each other, but for work the one place Ryan goes to multiple times a year is Chicago.  Since he rarely travels (he is a dentist after all) the kids are obsessed with this Chicago place he goes to all the time.  We talked about trying to combine one of his work trips with a family trip, but it just hasn't worked out.  Well we finally made it happen and decided to surprise the kids with the weekend.  It was sooooo hard to keep it from them.  We usually have family Fridays and since we don't have a kitchen right now we told the kids we would go to a fun breakfast this particular morning.  The best was we pulled into the park and go lot and Ellie said "Hey Daddy....why are we at the airport? (long pause where we tried to ignore her...) and then Bobo said he thought maybe we were having breakfast there haha!  We got them out and they saw all our luggage in back of the car and started freaking out!  We got all the way through security before we told them to open their book bags and they would find clues as to where we were headed.  Of course leave it to our kids to guess Paris and Cape Town first.  So we let them know it was one short flight and no passports needed.  When they finally figured it out, they were thrilled. 
First stop in the Windy City was pizza!!!  

 This pizza was delicious, but took an hour to make...good thing I always have some tricks in my purse for these moments.
 We did some shopping and walked around the city for a while before heading back to the hotel to get ready for the game.
 Several years ago Ryan brought the kids cubs t-shirts and hats and Bobo was hooked!  If you ask who his favorite Baseball team is he would definitely say "The Cubbies"

 Ryan got us some good tickets right behind home plate!

 It was so freaking hot though.  Seriously who knew it would be hotter in Chicago than North Carolina??
 We made it through the 7th inning and got to sing the traditional "Take me out to the Ballgame".  Overall the game was so fun.  I think there was one grand slam and three home runs!
 The next morning we started with breakfast at one of our favs, Beatrix.  They have so many yummy gluten free pastries, honey lavender coffee and any type of fresh juice you can think of.
 Ellie and I got watermelon strawberry juice and this cutie picked blueberry.
 Then we headed to Navy Pier.  We were lucky and got there right when they opened so there weren't any lines.
 We rode the Ferris Wheel.

 Took a ride on the carousel.
And drove the remote control boats. 
 Then we cooled off by walking around in the icy Michigan lake.
 We grabbed lunch and did some shopping.

 We couldn't go to Chicago and not stop by to see our reflections in the bean.

Chicago has so many amazing parks that the kids couldn't believe. 

 They ran around until they were drenched in sweat!  Too bad I didn't have any suits in my bag of tricks because they had splash pads all over too.
 Instead we cooled off with a swim back at the hotel.  These two love a good hotel pool!

 We rested and then headed to Ryan's favorite steak place, Steak 48.

 We rarely order off a kids menu and always make our kids order for themselves.  I loved when Ellie said "I'll have a filet with blue cheese please" and the waiter asked "Blue cheese on top or our signature blue cheese sauce on the side" To which she replied "Yes ma'am"

We slept in a then went to a coffee shop around the corner. 

 After walking back to Navy Pier and stopping to get some Garrett's Popcorn....
We took an architectural boat tour!
 I won't bore y'all with all the pictures of buildings, but I would highly recommend doing this.  It is such a neat way to see the city.
And our last stop before taking a late flight home was the Aquarium.  Again what a perfect thing to do with kids!!!  Highlights were the beluga whales, shark tank and the sting ray exhibit where you were allowed to touch them.  

Another fun vacation in the books!!!  We have a few more this summer, but this was a special one for sure!