Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving and IL Geocaching

We took Geocaching to Illinois!  The Skokie Sculpture Park runs along a main street near Mimi and Bampa's house, so we headed out one afternoon for an outing.  It was chilly, but it was sunny and a great way to get some fresh air and let Jackson fun off some energy!  The above picture is one that Josh and Jackson found, but it was frozen!  I think this problem was solved by taking a picture of the found cache, and then Josh emailed it to the cache owner as proof we really did find it since we couldn't sign the log.
Best seat in the house, I think!
Jackson did awesome and found a cache all by himself in this neat tree!
Three of my boys :)

Josh said there were a few subtle differences in the caches between Illinois and Virginia.  The terminology used by cachers varied, and the swag in the caches wasn't quite as fabulous in IL.  Josh set off to do a couple of urban caches one afternoon hoping to log his first First to Find (FTF).  He wasn't able to find either one.  One was in an area he couldn't hang out in due to too many muggles (in this case tons of high schoolers just having gotten out of school), so someone else found it after him.  The other one still hadn't been found by the time we got back from going out to dinner.  I went over with him to search the area, but we didn't have any luck either.  We went and picked up milkshakes, and then we went back home.  Josh spent some time thinking and studying arial photos, and he thought he had an idea of where else to look.  We headed BACK out, and I thought surely we wouldn't have any trouble getting the FTF since it was 10:30 on a Tuesday.  There was another cacher there searching the area!!! Josh got out and introduced himself.  They searched together for a good while, and they both concluded it wasn't to be found.  The guy Josh met is a pretty seasoned cacher, so knowing he hadn't had luck made us feel more confident that we weren't missing something...  We have never run into anyone else while we've done our outings here!  CRAZY!
Uncle Larry and Graham
We got THE BEST stash of library books this time!  Mimi and Jackson enjoying one of many stories.
Bampa got uot this cool version of shuffleboard to play with Jackson!
He loved it!
The Grands (parents and children)
Aunt, Uncle and Nephews
The Smiths
The "Big" Kids :)

We had a great Thanksgiving day.  Josh cooked a DELICIOUS turkey, and we had so many yummy side dishes!  Uncle Larry and Aunt Michelle weren't in town for a super long visit, but we are so glad we got to celebrate Thanksgiving WITH them :)

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

First Days in Evanston

Technically our first stop once we were in Evanston was Lou's to pick up dinner :)  Our first outing  to spend time with Cousin Beth!  She has the best toys saved from Matt and Andy--we especially love her crate of trains :)  The boys had tons of fun playing...
...and eating!
Sweet boy
Posing with his finished puzzle
We played lots of games of Trouble!
Morning #2: This concoction was totally his decision.  He would race up to this spot in the upstairs bathroom all the time!
We LOVE getting to catch up with Kim and Mia!  We are gently pushing for a Spring Break trip to see us ;)  
We gave Mia one of our favorite books: Poke a Dot: 10 Little Monkeys
There was even storytime while we were at Barnes and Noble!  
Josh finally got to meet Mia!
Such a cute pair (Graham and Mia!)
Josh was trying his hardest to get everyone looking at the same time, but it just didn't pan out...  Not too bad!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving Kick-Off with the Conners!

 We had planned to stop in Indianapolis to stay with Katie and Nick for two nights on our way to Evanston, but my wonderful husband worked crazy hard during the week so we could leave earlier in the day and have more time together.  Katie's dad passed away right before Halloween after battling cancer for quite a while.  We couldn't make the logistics work to get to visit them any earlier, and I couldn't get there fast enough!  Instead of getting in close to the middle of the night, we got to Indy around 9, and were able to visit and unwind before going to bed.  It was SOOO good to see them!  The boys did really well in the car!  Graham started the trip off with a crazy long nap, then we stopped for a delicious McDonald's lunch before continuing on.  After our dinner stop, Graham fell asleep and Jackson wasn't too far behind him.  You can't see Pax in the hatch in the above picture, but he was there and did really well on the drive too!
As always when we visit Katie and Nick, it was super cold!  Not sure what it is about us that brings a super cold front to Indy...  We had plans to head to Monkey Joe's for the morning, and that was a huge hit!!!  Jackson played on EVERYTHING without hesitation!  I loved watching him run around and climb--he has always been super cautious around these inflatables.  There was even a toddler area for Graham!  He loved it! 
 Paige and Jackson peeking out from the pirate ship.
 You can't see his face, but there was a soft slide in the toddler area that Graham could pretty much climb up and slide down all by himself.  His face as he slid down each time was priceless!
 These three :)
 Sliding down one of the big slides
 Graham peeking in
After playing, we stopped at Qdoba for lunch before heading home for naps!
 After a delicious dinner Katie and Nick cooked, Josh and Nick took the three big kids to do a little geocaching.  We had shown them a quick one in the parking lot at lunch, so they went in search of the one closest to the Conners' house.  Success!

That guys put the big kids to bed, and Katie and I went out for some girl time.  It was just what we needed :)  We did some shopping and then stopped to get some dessert and do even more catching up.
On Sunday morning we celebrated and early Christmas together!  Poor Graham misses out on lots of fun due to his still necessary morning nap.  But, he got to open his present later! 
 These three were the only ones cooperating in the beginning for our traditional kid picture!
Not too bad for five kiddos!

After our photo session we headed to Culvers for lunch (and another geocache) before we had to pack up the car and head to Evanston.  We were super excited to see Mimi and Bampa, but the time always goes too fast with these friends :(  Katie, Nick, Paige, Lexi and Caleb--thanks for an awesome start to our Thanksgiving break!!!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Graham Goes to the Playground!

We met some friends from preschool after school at one of our favorite playgrounds!  This was the first time Graham really could play, and it was so fun!  We used to meet Cole, Blake and Meredith at the playground last year, and the babies just hung out in their strollers/carseats.  This was quite the turn of events... I got a workout for sure chasing him around!  Katie and I did get some chatting in, it was just in bits and pieces!  
Riding in the dinosaur car
Sweet face and chubby cheeks :)
LOVES sliding!
Oh boy!  Climbing UP the slide just like his big brother...

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Fall Randoms

I love having a Smartphone for taking pictures and capturing sweet little moments like this one!  The boys LOVE the train that runs around the ceiling at Wegmans.  I love this shot of them both watching it go around the track.
First pair of slippers!
Where did this Fall decoration come from?
One little turkey
Trying on monster glasses from Owen's Monsters U party!
These two boys are hilarious together, and I love catching pictures so we can preserve these crazy moments!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Aunt Jenny :)

We don't see Josh's sister, Aunt Jenny, often, but boy was it good to see her!  We spent Veteran's Day in the Valley visiting Gramma, Aunt Jeannie and Uncle Wayne, and Aunt Murph and Uncle Larry.  The only pictures I got were of Aunt Jenny!  She lives super close to Gramma now, so she came over to hang out while we spent a few hours together.  Jackson LOVED the little field trip she took him on out to the field and pond.  She carried Jackson onto this little "island," and then showed him an animal burrow.  They speculated about what might live in there, and I just loved watching him listen to her.  He ate up every word! 
Aunt Jenny, Graham, and Jackson
 Graham took to Jenny really fast and let her carry him back home from the field.  This is a big deal for him to let other people do something for him if I'm right there.  Score!
Can't tell these two are related, can you?  ;)
We had great visits with Aunt Jeannie and Uncle Wayne and Aunt Murph and Uncle Larry.  It was a quick day, so we'll just have to head back soon!