Sunday, March 31, 2013

My Kind of Eating Day

Yesterday we started with a Panera breakfast date with Mimi's friend, Terrie.  Again, it was so fun to share my boys with someone we have known for so long :)
After that we drove out to meet Jane, Alex, Alyssa, and Ashley for lunch at Woodfield at Red Robin--YUM!  We knew we were slightly crazy to attempt lunch there on a Saturday, but it was really the only day that ended up working.  They might have been able to seat all eight of us, but instead we sat at two separate booths and Ashley, Alyssa and Jackson sat together!  The girls were so good keeping an eye on him!
He loved getting some turns on the iPad :)
Eventually they were all on one side of the booth together!  Super cute!
Alex and Graham
Alyssa and Graham

I didn't even think of taking a picture, but my dad and I went out for strawberry shortcake at The Cheesecake Factory after we ate dinner together at home.  Their shortcake is SO good, and this has become a tradition with us.  It's always nice to just go out with my dad :)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Exploring The Exploritorium!

We were so excited to get to visit with one of my mom's very good friends, Ellen!  We met her at yet another Barnes and Noble in Chicago, and it was so nice to catch up!  I love sharing my boys with people that have been in our lives for a long time :)
 After lunch we headed to Skokie to check out The Exploritorium!  I have always heard of it, but never thought much about it.  WELL!  That was a big mistake--it is now on our To Do list every time we are in town!  It's only $3 for admission, and Jackson was kept busy for quite a while!  This picture above is my attempt at using the panoramic feature on my camera.  I think it actually worked out ok!  Basically, there is one large room broken up into different areas.  There is a huge water play area, dress-up, cars/trains, magnets, a huge Lite-Brite board, a toddler area, a climbing wall, some balance beams, and a huge area of tunnels, slides, and climbing area.  There is a gate separating the entrance foyer form from the actual play area, so the kids are actually enclosed the whole time.  You can't quite see everywhere from one spot, but it's not bad for keeping track of kids.
Jackson spent the majority of his time at the water play area.  There are little smocks for them to wear and hand dryers for when they are all finished.  There were many little nets and tons of squirty toys to fish out of the water table.  There was even a locks system to open and close.  I immediately bought some squirties when we got home and was thrilled to find little nets in the $1 section of Target!  They are all set in my bucket for pool toys for this summer :)
Still fishing :)
Mimi and Graham hanging out!  Graham's shirt says "Grandma's Cozy Cabin."  Jackson had quite a few Grandma and Grandpa outfits that I'm trying to get use out of for Graham too!
Checking out the magnet table
Giant Lite Brite!
He made a "J!"
The dress-up area scenery was pretty neat.  There were several of these large panels, and they rotated on something like the spine of a book so the kids could flip between them.  The selection of actual dress-up clothes was a little disappointing, but I can only imagine how hard of a spot that is to keep fully stocked.  Jackson found a teeny camo jacket to wear :)

The weather finally warmed up a bit, so after another visit to Nan, we stopped at the playground that is shaped like a pirate ship near her house before meeting Bampa for dinner at Ted's Montana Grill.  This has become one of our favorite restaurants to visit when we are home.  The food is yummy, but they also don't cram as many tables as possible into the dining room, so I don't feel like we are bothering anyone with high chairs, two kids, stuff, etc. 
Graham was SO happy eating on this WHOLE trip! 
Jackson was really into the Wikki Sticks Ted's brings kids.  This was the first time they held his attention, and it was a nice change from the coloring pages most restaurants have (although those held his interest for longer this trip too).
Jackson became OBSESSED with the American flag on this trip.  He was ECSTATIC to have a little flag in his dinner when it came to the table! One happy little boy :)

Friday, March 29, 2013

We Love Cousins!!!

 Yesterday we went to see our cousins, Beth, Matt and Andy, and we had SUCH a good always!  Beth has saved a bunch of toys that used to be the boys', so Jackson jumped right into playing!  These boys are just fantastic--they really seemed to enjoy hanging out with us--especially with the boys :)  I distinctly remember going to visit Beth after she had each boy, and now they are 18 and 16!!!
 Jackson spent a long time building towers with these cups...and Graham had fun knocking them down!
 Jackson loved this huge tape measure!
 Andy spent some time teaching Graham how to be a great little brother :)
 This was great timing in our trip to play with some big boys!  Jackson was craving that rough housing!
 Graham wants a turn!
 Jackson and Beth put together a big puzzle!
 "Playing" checkers
 Graham loved checking out the selection of toys too!
 Big Brothers and Little Brothers!
I know I have some old pictures of the boys and me, but I can't find them right now.  It would be fun to do a comparison though!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Celebrating Teachers and Hanging with Friends

Yesterday we went to Roycemore for the Celebration of Dedication and Excellence.  Each year, the whole school gathers to celebrate all of the teachers!  There was a really nice slideshow that showcased each teacher.  After recognizing all of the teachers, there was a special segment for the teachers and staff that had reached certain milestones (5 years, 10 years, etc. all the way up to my dad who has been there for 44 years!!!)
It was so fun going "back to school" since many of my teachers are still there!  My fourth grade teacher has been there for forty years!!!  Jackson sat so nicely with my mom in the audience, but Graham and I had to get up and move to the back of the room because he was a bit excited to be there...and was letting everyone know that :)
We hung out in Bampa's office for a bit and Dad took this opportunity to pull out a good ole' history book and show Jackson some pictures of the American flag (he's obsessed!!!).  These books are so familiar to me... :)
After lunch at Herm's, the boys and I headed out to meet Cassie and Zoey!  Zoey was born in September, but I haven't had a chance to meet her yet!!!  She is just adorable!  I love looking at her and Graham together!!!
Sweet Baby Girl :)  It was SO nice to catch up with Cassie--we haven't seen each other in FOREVER, and chatting on the phone is just tricky these days.  It was a really fun afternoon!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Train Table Date #3

We are always super excited to see Kim, but I was extra excited because I got to see her adorable baby belly too!  She is due with her baby girl really soon--I'm rooting for some time in the next week so I can meet that sweet girl before going back home...  Graham loved her and didn't seem to mind that there wasn't much lap left to sit on ;)
Our last picture as a group of four!  Can't wait to have some pink in this picture next time!!!
Graham had fun "standing" at the train table--it won't be long until both boys will enjoy that activity...  We all just love the book store :)  Jackson played with the trains for a while, and then he was a lucky boy and Mimi sat and read several books to him.  
After leaving Kim, we stopped at McDonald's for lunch.  We were leaving and Jackson sat down next to Ronald and said, "Let's just take a quick picture!"  OK!  Then we jumped back on the tollway and drove to Nan's house.  She was all settled in at her condo with her new caretaker.  She was super excited to see the boys!  We hung out there for a while, before going to the store to pick up some groceries for her.  Jackson and Mom took them up to her, and then we all met Dad at Hackney's for dinner.  These boys are awesome road warriors since it seems we are loading up the car in the morning and not coming back to the house until dinner or after.  We are having SO much fun :)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

We Heart Tasty Food!

Graham's balloon from Red Robin
Jackson and Graham with their two balloons
Sweet, chubby little fist!
Loving his first bites of Lou Malnati's pizza!!!
"Chicago food is AMAZING!"

We haven't just been eating ;)  We ran a few errands, spent time at the library, played at the house, had another Barnes and Noble date with Amanda (can't believe I didn't get a picture!) and visited with our cousins, Katie and Tyler!  We all SO wish we had gotten a picture with all of us, but this one is pretty cute!  Of course, Graham was after Tyler's phone the whole time!  He's so predictable in his interests... ;)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Pancakes with Bampa

This is what Graham thought about his first pancake made by Bampa (and Jackson)! 
He ate TWO whole pancakes!
My mom had this amazing piece of silverware that was a fork on one end, a spoon on the other, and had some knife prongs on art of one side!  Jackson was enamored, and he LOVED cutting up his own pancake :)
We all finished, and Graham was still going to town!
The chef and his patron :)
LOVE these faces!