Category Archives: Me

Chicago Day 2 – The conclusion

We were only there for one night. We definitely need to stay longer next time. We would get a city pass and do a whole lot more… in fact I already have a list made of what to go back and do.

  • The Willis Tower
  • Aquarium
  • Field Museum
  • Speedboat Tour

You get the idea. All the touristy things. Hopefully next time my mom will be able to go with us. L really wants to take her to see the American Girl store, isn’t that sweet?!

Back to our story… after the AG store JT mentioned that we should run the packages back to our car. I said “NAH, let’s just keep going.” Mistake. By the time we made it to the Lego store that AG bag was so heavy it was cutting into my hand. Plus the two days of walking was catching up with J. Poor guy couldn’t keep up. So I had him on my back and the AG bag plus it was warmer this day. Next time he will be older but we should have put him in the stroller that we’d brought but it was back at the car. Yeah every once in a while JT is right.

We walked up to the river and explained to the kids how they make the river green every year for St. Patrick’s Day. They loved that.

Off to the Lego store, which I know where it is… It just always takes me a while to find it. We actually walked past it once. While we were in the AG store he asked a minimum of 30 times when it was his turn, when were we going to the Lego store…. AAAAAHHHHH!!!!! He was driving us nuts. Once we finally made it there he was all smiles. First guy we saw was this guy… he loves this guy.

L stayed at the Lego table almost the entire time. She loved playing there.

J walked around with either JT or myself deciding what he wanted to purchase. I took his picture with all of his favorite lego creations

He did find some things he wanted. A spongebob set and of course a few Star Wars sets. He would not put the Star Wars sets down either. He had a death grip on them while walking around.

I’m not sure why but this is my favorite one, he just looks so sweet next to R2-D2

We were finally able to pull L away from her table to take some pics of her too.

Legos purchased we went back to the hotel and packed up the room and the car. Kept the car in the garage and headed to Millennium Park. Had to see the Bean before we left. Everyone needs a bean picture if you visit Chicago.

Before we crossed the street into the Park the kids saw this cow. So they rushed over for me to take a picture. Normal children would stand next to the cow, my children decided to “milk” the cow.

Finally weirdness aside we made it into the park and saw…

The Bean

Bean pictures…

After bean pictures we decided to get a couple more of the family.

Last cab ride, back to the hotel to retrieve our car. Time to go home.

A little sad to be leaving we all would have liked to stay one more day and do some other fun things, maybe another time.

Goodbye Chicago

or so we thought. We got about 10 minutes outside downtown Chicago on highway 55 when we came to a dead stop. 2 hours we crawled on 55. Ugh. It was miserable. The ride home was fine. Poor kids were exhausted and slept for almost 2 1/2 hours on the way home.

Someone had a great time…

On the way home we were going to stop in Springfield and let the kids run around Lincoln’s home but by the time we were out of traffic and headed that way… it was closed. Oh well. We stopped for dinner at Cracker Barrel (yum) we always stop at one when we travel by car.

The kids played checkers while JT snoozed a little before getting back in the car for the final miles towards home.

Finally the arch was welcoming us back home.

It was a fantastic mini vacation.


Chicago Day 2 – American Girl

It was a really bad night’s sleep. You would think that we would have slept well, JT and I each had a double bed to ourselves and the kids slept together on a pullout sofa, but JT and I did NOT sleep well at all.

The kids woke up and opened the curtains right away to let in all that nice bright sun. They enjoyed sitting on the air conditioner looking outside at everyone walking to work.

It was a big day. It was American Girl store day!!!! We all got ready and headed down to eat our free breakfast. I forgot that we got 2 $10 gift cards for breakfast when we checked in. That was really nice we only had to pay $5 for breakfast. After that we headed up to get L’s dolls, we had a lunch reservation at 11:00 am and we were going to walk around a little. First stop… Starbucks. 🙂 There was one 10 steps from our hotel. Love that. After my morning coffee run we walked back to the Disney store. There was someone special the kids wanted to buy a present for. We were 15 minutes early for opening so we sat outside and enjoyed the beautiful day.

The kids watching cartoons waiting for mommy and daddy to finish getting ready

J made himself at home while waiting

A pic of our hotel

Sitting out side the Disney store waiting for store open.

She’s holding a naked Samantha, we were going to admit her to the hospital at the AG store. I was holding Molly. After the Disney store gifts had been purchased we headed down to the AG store to look around before our reservation.

You walk in and it takes your breath away. L was so excited. She knew which doll she wanted to purchase so she kept trying to pick her up but we told her to be patient, let’s check everything out first, have lunch and then she could shop. She was busting at the seams. She had saved all of her birthday money (it’s what she asked for this year) and we were treating her to a new doll for her belated bday gift.

The store when you walk in

So we explored. Found the doll hospital, talked to a nurse about Samantha and decided that she might not need to be admitted, instead just cleaned up so we made her an appointment in the salon.

Soon after it was time for lunch. My mom had a special gift at the table for each kiddo. They were really excited. The cafe is beautiful. Very cheery with a great view all the way around the restaurant. The meal was okay. Next time I will probably just order one of the kids dishes.

Opening her gift

It’s a mini Kaya and J received a new Iron Man toy

They brought out appetizers and our drinks, Molly was at the table with us in her special high chair. Also at the table there was a cute box with slips of paper they were conversation starters. So cute. L loved answering some of the questions.

Miss Samantha’s appointment was done at the salon so JT ran to pick her up (such a good daddy) and she joined us for lunch.

Here’s the restaurant

L with both her dolls

They sang Happy Birthday to her, which was so sweet. The desserts were so good.

Lunch was definitely worth the money. It’s a little girly, I think JT and J were at their limit but it was worth it for for L.

After lunch she was off and running. At one point I looked back at JT who was bringing up the rear and he gave me a look like geez I can barely keep up. So funny.

I loved the historical characters section. The displays were awesome and she loved walking around looking at everything.

Off to pick up Kit, her next doll

picking out her mini dolls, she only needs to add Addy to her mini collection and she’ll have all of them

With all of her purchases before we left

She had a blast and as we walked out she was talking about her next visit. I was so happy for her. Up next Chicago Day 2 – The rest…

Chicago Day 1

For L’s birthday we promised her a trip to Chicago so she could visit the American Girl store. Not to leave J out we told him we’d take him to the Lego store. Needless to say they were super psyched.

JT and I have been to Chicago many many times separately and then a couple times together. Our first time there together was January 1998. We were dating back then. Next was our honeymoon, it was a layover stop for us. On the day of our return flight we woke up in a Chicago hotel near the airport to a blizzard and canceled flights to STL. We took a cab to the bus station then we had to walk with our luggage, in the snow, in sandals to the ATM so we could purchase two bus tickets we then proceeded to take a bus home. Worst trip ever!!! The next trip would be in 2006, JT planned a trip there with friends for my 30th birthday, kid free trip. We had a lot of fun.

We love Chicago. It’s expensive though so we don’t visit as often as we’d like. We usually drive, we’ve flown a couple times but next time we plan on taking the train because that would be fun. We drove this trip, not too bad.

The kids packed up in the car and ready to go… L had all of her dolls ready to go. BTW the tables we bought a couple of years ago are the best purchase we ever made. Love those things for traveling.

The kids love to scream “goodbye arch” as we leave

JT and I love to play the license plate game, I found this one at Target a couple years ago

The kids were really excited to go and JT and I were in money saving mode (we’re saving for Disney later this year). Do as much as we could for as little money as possible. Not easy.We arrived on Thursday, May 27th. Our hotel was awesome. We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton it’s a block off of Michigan Ave. Awesome hotel, plus they had an American Girl package. L would get checked in with her doll, register to win another doll, get an A.G. bed and fresh baked cookies for bedtime. It was worth every penny. Plus they were playing the Molly movie in our hotel room non-stop. She loved it. After we checked in and relaxed a bit we headed out to grab some lunch. We were starving. When we visited in 2006 we ate at Giordano’s, it happened to be down the street a couple blocks from where we were staying so we decided to eat there. Our kids love pizza so we knew they would like it too. Super yummy. When we sat down poor L knocked over her water all over my shirt and shorts. It was bad. But she was so upset so I acted like it was no big deal. I didn’t want to upset her more. I was wet and it was cold downtown (more on that in a second).

The kids waiting to be called to our table at Giordano’s

After lunch we walked back to the hotel because I had to change my clothes. 🙂 Wet and cold were not a good thing plus I don’t have an incontinence problem, I didn’t feel like walking around looking like I had wet my pants. Back to the hotel I changed into my capris and put J into a pair of pants plus grabbed their sweaters. Got love the cool breeze on Michigan Ave. After the wardrobe change we caught a cab to Navy Pier. We thought the kids would like to ride the Ferris Wheel and explore the Pier.

First cab ride for the kids

At this point I finally got my camera out and stopped taking pictures with my phone 🙂 On the Ferris Wheel

Awesome, awesome views of the city and water.

Kids on the pier…

After the Pier we caught another cab to Michigan Ave., we thought we would walk the mile and head back towards the hotel. Museums were out because they are super pricey for 4. So this was entertaining enough for them.

We looked in the AG store windows, visited the Hershey store, went in the Disney store (they closed ours here) and let the kids buy stuff and just went in a couple other stores before heading back to the hotel to play with the kids new toys.

Finally after resting and playing again in the hotel we went out to eat at Weber Grill. Love this restaurant, it’s so good. The kids were tired though because we had a late reservation so to keep them happy we let them play with my iPhone and JT’s iPod Touch. Remember when crayons and paper kept kids busy.

After we ate we were off to bed. So tired and it was almost 10:00 (late for the kids).

Camp Wyman

There is a kindergarten tradition at L’s school. The week before school ends they head out to Eureka, MO and tromp through the woods exploring Camp Wyman. We were really looking forward to going with L. JT took the day off so we’re really super psyched. I had the backpack packed and I probably overdid it but it’s fine. I’m an over packer, it’s just who I am. Plus we were going in the WOODS. I’m not a woods fan. There are ticks in the woods and I’m not a fan of ticks either. Here’s just half of what I packed (for one day)

Also in preparation, we had been watching the weather for over a week to see if it was going to rain. Because here in the Lou we are currently in a Monsoon season. It has been raining non-stop, so we were very happy about the weather report showing no rain for Friday. Yeah.

Woke on Friday morning, guess what?! It was raining and it didn’t look like it was going to be moving out until after our trip was over.  Awesome. Thank you sucky weather people. I could do your job. Anyway, I threw a couple of books and coloring books into the backpack and off we went.

We got to school, received our instructions and boarded the bus. Short trip later and we were there. It was still raining BTW. Luckily they put our group in this meeting room where it was warm and dry. Once we unloaded our lunches we were free to walk around. We were assigned to groups so we had to stay with our group, that way no one would get lost. The teacher put all the girls in one group, she’s so smart!!!

We walked to the frog pond where we were told to watch for water moccasins but we were also told we would find crawdads and tadpoles, turtles, fish, frogs…. ugh all that grossness. The girls got to the pond and we walked around, saw a snake and that was that. There was no dipping in their jars to catch something, none of that. They wanted to move on. So we did.

Walking to the pond

Hello Mr. Water Moccasin

After the frog pond we walked up this hill and two of the girls fell. It was so funny because they both started screaming and cried a little. So funny. They were all muddy and PISSED. Love it. So we head up this hill/trail and we think we are on our way to awesome exploring – NAH – we never found anything. One cool thing was this obstacle course where they had this huge platform and you would have to balance on it because it would teeter back and forth. That was their favorite part of the whole trip. Girls are awesome. I was totally in the right group. The whole time I was completely relaxed too. I wasn’t worried about L getting muddy or wet because really it was pouring. What did I think was going to happen?!?! She actually ended up being one of the cleanest girls on the trip. I couldn’t be more proud.

The ladies on the platform

I had made these camp bags for all 16 kids in the class and in those bags were a jar for catching “stuff”, a milk carton boat, a snack and a scavenger hunt. When we had had enough “walking around trying to find someplace interesting” we decided to walk back to our comfy meeting room (for lack of a better term). On our walk back we stopped at the creek and one of the mom’s got in the creek to float the girls boats. She was brave but really we were already soaked so what’s a wet shoe or two?!

Onward we marched. Right to another body of water… a larger pond perhaps. I don’t know. Looking for interesting things… NOTHING.

I finally put my foot down and said “Enough of this god forsaken rain, I’m done. In we go.” Hah!!! Yeah it was a group decision. Inside we went. Every single child changed out of their wet clothes and we sat down to eat some lunch and color some pictures. Thank god for that meeting room.

After lunch the kids all wanted to play outside and the rest of the groups were slowly coming back and that’s when the sun decided to come out. We had a lot of fun. There were turtle races, hunting in a creek for crawdads (which L held), pictures and just general playing. At one point they packed so many people on this little dock I thought for sure someone was headed in the water but we were lucky no one swam that day.

Our teachers are awesome!!

JT, L and I

The whole group

After all that fun it was time to head home. We were exhausted. There were quite a few kids asleep on the bus and a few adults. Including my baby…

and my other baby… hah!!

We really did have fun, sure we were wet, muddy, cold and tired but what a day full of memories. I’m really going to miss kindergarten. It’s been a great year.

Let’s get real

So I had a realization the other day, a bad realization. The kind of reality that makes me want to crawl into bed. In my 33 years I never thought I would utter these words but… I’m the fat friend!! You know the one in the picture with a swimsuit cover-up on while your other friends stand around in their bikinis, completely proud of their bodies. They should be. They’re working hard on them while I sit here like a lump on a log.

My BFF is skinny and my other friend just lost 40 pounds. My cousin works out like constantly, my soon to be sis-in-law is working out for the wedding and my mom is super skinny from working out almost everyday. I am seeing a trend 😉 Working out might be good for you.

SO… JT, the kids and I joined the Y. Not just any Y. A new fancy, shiny one. We took a tour last night and I am so excited. Our membership kicks in on April 1st and my plan is to drop L off at school and head over to start my workout. I’m very happy that that we joined someplace with classes, a pool, a gym and we have friends from school that are members so L is happy about that.

I know it’s a good choice and maybe in a couple of months I won’t be the fat friend anymore. Perfect timing for swimsuit season. I’ll never be in a bikini again, but a pretty two piece will be just fine.

40 Questions

This is what I should have blogged about tonight, this is more fun for you, my readers to read instead of my last TV post 🙂 I found it on Nicole’s blog oh. my. words.

  1. What would you like to appear in your hands right now? MONEY. If I’m being greedy, not just 1 million, how about 100 million.
  2. What was the last thing you ate? A Tootsie Pop
  3. What is your favorite episode of a tv show? My favorite TV episode ever has to be the Friends episode where they are moving a couch into Ross’ apartment and the whole PIVOT banter.
  4. Have you ever ridden in a limo? Twice, at least that I can remember. One for our wedding and two on the the way to the airport for our honeymoon.
  5. Which is better, your cursive or your printing? My cursive
  6. What photos are living on your camera right now, waiting to be downloaded? And why are they still there? Even though they are downloaded I still have Angie’s maternity session on my camera.
  7. How many pregnant women do you know? I believe I know 3
  8. Three things you did this past weekend: Shopped for baby bedding, had dinner with friends, sorted Girl Scout Cookies
  9. If you could only visit three websites for the next month, which would you choose? My e-mail account, facebook and my blog
  10. What did your family do for vacations when you were a child? We traveled a lot of different places. Usually we would join my dad on his business trips. He used to visit some awesome places.
  11. Law & Order or Boston Legal? Law & Order
  12. Do you mind if guests show up uninvited? Nope it doesn’t really bother me, but be prepared for a mess.
  13. When will you next travel by plane? Disney World in September
  14. What did the last text message you received say? From my BFF “I finished my first skirt and blogged it.”
  15. When was the last time you got dressed up? Gosh, it’s been too long.
  16. The perfect sign of affection is: A hug. It’s perfect for everyone in your life. Husbands, kids, parents, friends…
  17. Do you use your real name online or do you go by a screen name? I go by a screen name
  18. What do you miss when you’re away from home? My bed
  19. What are you completely & totally over hearing about, reading about, discussing ad nauseum? Dunno
  20. Do you reply to comments on your blog? Not usually unless I feel like I need to
  21. What are three things that you are looking forward to? Spring Break trip with my BFF, our family trip to Chicago and our huge vacay in September
  22. What is your favorite kind of tree? Cherry Blossom
  23. What is the newest thing you own? Hmmm… I guess some new clothes from Old Navy
  24. If I do anything well, it’s:   procrastinate
  25. What is your favorite dessert? I definitely don’t have a favorite, if it’s sweet than I will eat
  26. Do you use a planner? No I have a master calendar on our fridge for the family and then I have a copy of that in my iPhone
  27. What is your all-time favorite tv comedy? It’s a toss up between Friends or Sex and the City
  28. What is your current obsession? Sewing L’s clothes.
  29. Three signs Spring is here:   Sunshine, 50 degree weather, stores with cute clothes
  30. Do you balance your checkbook or wing it? Wing it.
  31. What kind of grapes do you prefer? squashed and fermented then served in a glass
  32. What is your favorite store-bought cookie? Chips Ahoy Chewy Chocolate Chip
  33. What was your fifth grade teacher’s name? No idea.
  34. High school was: Stupid. Would not go back and do it over, ever.
  35. Describe your dream kitchen. HUGE, fancy, brand new. Not sure what I would specifically like.
  36. What would you really like to purchase? Depends on the day you ask me, today it would be a second car. Tomorrow it might be a house.
  37. How many of your friendships have lasted more than a decade? Does it count if we were friends and became friends again 16 years later??? If so, then 1, plus my other BFF, my hubby so 2.
  38. Are there times when you still feel like a kid? All the time, you’re only as old as you feel.
  39. What teacher from high school comes to mind first? Mr. Behling
  40. What magazines do you read? Real Simple, Oprah, People, Martha Stewart Living, Kraft Food and Family, Family Fun… so many others.

101 In 1001

The Mission:
Complete 101 preset tasks in a period of 1001 days.

The Criteria:
Tasks must be specific (ie. no ambiguity in the wording) with a result that is either measurable or clearly defined. Tasks must also be realistic and stretching (ie. represent some amount of work on my part).

Why 1001 Days?
Many people have created lists in the past – frequently simple goals such as New Year’s resolutions. The key to beating procrastination is to set a deadline that is realistic. 1001 Days (about 2.75 years) is a better period of time than a year, because it allows you several seasons to complete the tasks, which is better for organizing and timing some tasks such as overseas trips or outdoor activities.

Those are the simple rules… I had a ton of fun making my list and I cannot wait to print it out and get started. I will keep the list in a place I glance at everyday, therefore it cannot slip my mind. I encourage you to do the same type of list. I’m already empowered and all I’ve done is formulate a few thoughts.

So check out my new page at the top of my blog 101 in 1001 and check back often.

Christmas Pictures

Last year I showed you the beautiful pictures of my kiddos in their Christmas Eve clothes. My mom makes L a beautiful dress every Christmas Eve and we have her pictures taken in said dress because you just can’t resist. Without further ado… (oh these are really bad quality because I scanned them and my scanner needs to be cleaned, sorry)

L in her dress

With the left over material my mom was able to make a dress for L’s American Girl doll Molly so we had to get a picture of that

Mr. J in his handsome clothes, remarkably they match, love it when they match

One of them together and L making her signature heart that she does for everyone she loves

Then last but not least… our photo we used for Christmas cards this year. Thank you to my friend SK for taking it… I used my old “hotomom” watermark instead of my photography one because I couldn’t find the copy with my friends watermark. She’s really talented, you should check her out.

I think that about covers all the pictures we had taken for Christmas.

Latest Etsy Faves

Cruising etsy tonight for a coffee cozy and of course I got sucked in. Wanna see some of my latest favorites?!

  • This Ernie costume
  • Oh my lord have you ever seen anything as cute as this headband
  • These rings are awesome. I really like the blackberry bling and the strawberry
  • How cute is this Halloween countdown calendar
  • Perfect sign for me
  • Love everything in this store
  • There’s something about owls that are so cute
  • Wondering if I could get away with this hat, not for the price but the hat is cute.
  • This print is amazing

Wow all that imaginary shopping has me worn out. I’m off to bed, maybe one of these awesome items will end up in my cart. Who knows. Oh and I still haven’t found a coffee cozy.

My new ink and other news

Before I get to my news… I promise there will be pics SOON of my handsome boy(s) birthdays. J’s party was a little over a week ago and it was fabulous. I should have pics soon. JT’s birthday was today and we had a fantastic day, we had brunch at the City Diner, then went to the mall so he could spend some of his birthday money on a new watch and shoes. Slightly jealous. I will have pics of our day as soon as I download the pics from my camera. Feeling a little lazy tonight.

On Saturday night my mom watched the kids overnight so JT and I could go out to dinner. My hubby really wanted sushi so we went to the Drunken Fish, a new place for us. JT really enjoyed his food but mine was a little disappointing. I had lobster tempura. You couldn’t even taste the lobster. It was like a chicken strip deep fried in panko. Not very good and disappointing for the price. Anyway when we were finished we were too tired to go see a movie plus we couldn’t agree on one so it was either go walk around the mall or go visit a tattoo parlor and talk about the work I wanted done. We decided on the tattoo parlor. Yeehaw!! I was so excited. So we walked into All Star Tattoo and talked to the one of the artists at the front desk. I didn’t realize that they closed at 10:00 pm and we arrived at 9:00 pm so they couldn’t really do my shoulder piece idea but they definitely could do the piece I wanted on my foot.

I have to admit that I am a little strange and the only one I know like me… I enjoy the needle to skin contact that results in a tattoo (shots on the other hand I don’t take very well). I get a rush from the pain because it always ends in beautiful art. Weird, absolutely!! I’m in love with my new tattoo and cannot wait to get the shoulder piece I want done. Here’s a picture of my new tattoo (I apologize in advance for my fugly foot)



Many of you will be able to guess what it is (I hope) but I won’t be saying it “out loud” on here because it has to do with a loved one in my life. It’s an addiction but this is my 7th one.