Friday, August 30, 2013

House update

The roof is gone. The second floor is gone. The stucco's been ripped off and the interior walls, floors and doors have been demoed. Very little of the original bungalow will be left standing, but under the stucco and hidden behind the living room wall we did find 2 stained glass windows. They aren't to code anymore, so we can't use them in place of regular windows, but we are considering incorporating them in the house--perhaps as an attic window.

Front of the house
Living room, facing the street
Art glass on the right
After visiting the site, Josh and I drove up to Abt and ordered all of our appliances. We're getting an LG refrigerator and range, a Bosch dishwasher, a Broan range hood and a KitchenAid microwave, which will be installed in the peninsula. We also bought an LG washer and dryer, which I'm kind of giddy about. While certainly not top-of-the-line, all our household appliances are major upgrades from the mid-level Kenmore appliances we purchased from Sears in 2003.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A report on the first day of school

UntitledAda, at elementary school for the first time, is in a multi-age combination first and second grade class called "the Big MAC." (It's Big and a Multi-Age Classroom.) While one of the two teachers is new to the class (but not the school), it seems like a wonderful and very unique combination class that has the first and second graders doing a lot together. Ada's report from her first day of school was dominated by her explanation of the classroom's behavior chart (green smiles through red frowns), but she also said she got her pick her seat (next to her Montessori buddy Ami), her teacher was "mostly nice but a little bit mean," her class "earned two big Wows," and she almost cried on the playground because she didn't know where to put her lunch box during recess. "But I kept my tears in my eyes."
My self-proclaimed tomboy, Zoe entered fourth grade. She has a well-respected, seasoned teacher and many friends in her classroom. She reported that the first day's work was "too easy" and she can't wait for the gifted program to get back underway. She's also not thrilled about sharing a locker, but her locker buddy is in gymnastics and Hebrew school with her too, so many this will kick-start a friendship. After school, Zoe had a short break before heading to gymnastics practice. She moved up a level this year and has a smaller team of only 12 girls, which means a lot more personal attention from the coaches. So she's very happy about that.

I love seeing my girls excited about school and learning, but I don't think my enthusiasm is any match for Josh's, as he was very ready for the kids to return to school. He'll be volunteering in both girls' classrooms and keeping the house spotless for showings. What, did I forget to mention our home will be going on the market in early September?!

Monday, August 26, 2013

A perfect end to summer vacation

What do you do on the last day of summer vacation when one kid wants to build sandcastle on the beach, one kid wants to hit the pool in a neighboring town (the one you don't have passes to), you'd love to take a bike ride along the lakefront and your mother, visiting from Virginia, says she "doesn't long as we don't go to an amusement park like Kings Dominion"?

UntitledIf you're me, you head over to the Garfield Park Conservatory. Inside, the kids played hide and seek in the fern room while the grandparents wandered around identifying some of their own houseplants. But outside was actually the highlight. We usually head to the Conservatory in the middle of winter to get a bit of a green fix, so I'd forgotten how spectacular the grounds can be. Workmen were setting up for a free Shakespeare in the Parks performance to be held later that afternoon and the goats were off duty, but the city demonstration garden was brimming with fresh herbs and vegetables (even a few surprises, like an orange tree). The kids spent over a hour playing with the sticks, logs and palm fronds in the play garden, and by the time their elaborate games of pretend were winding down, some volunteers had set up a butterfly and ant learning activity. Zoe pretended to be an ant and used her nose to follow a trail to food. (A bee hive--did you know ants and yellow jackets raid bee hives for honey?).  Meanwhile, Ada drew a beautifully detailed picture of the tabletop ant farm and butterfly cage.

And my mom and Rick? They took photos, chatted and played a bit too.
After a few hours, we had exhausted the snacks I'd brought along and we were pretty hungry. So we walked over to Inspiration Kitchens, which is just half a block away. I'd read about the nonprofit restaurant before, but this was my first time dining there. I highly recommend it for a family friendly bite to eat. The portions are on the smaller side, but everything was made with fresh, in-season fruit and vegetables from their urban gardens and all the tips help pay for meals out for families who couldn't otherwise afford it. I had a very tasty watermelon, feta and mint salad, which was served over mixed greens with a lime vinaigrette.

By the time we'd finished our lunch/brunch (the girls had pancakes and I had coffee), it was hot, so we headed over to Rehm Pool. Due to the heat and everyone being back from their various summer vacation travels, it was so crowded we had to wait until folks left before we could get it. But we nabbed a deck chair, the water was gloriously cool, and we saw a bunch of friends--one set of whom took Zoe home for a steak dinner!

Finishing our perfect end to a lovely summer: the grandparents babysat while Josh and I heading to the Publican for dinner (al fresco!) with friends.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A mini beach vacation with friends

Since a) we're buying a house before the year is over and b) summer is Chicago's best season, we've been sticking pretty close to home. But we needed a little getaway and booked 3 nights at a VRBO rental home in Sawyer, Michigan with our friends.

The 4 bedroom manufactured house wasn't that close to the beach or particularly nicely decorated, but it was just the right size for 4 adults and 5 rowdy children, aged 2 1/2-8.

Here are a few photographic highlights from our trip. Not pictured is adults-only evenings on the deck, drinking wine and stargazing (which is infinitely more interesting with a stargazing app!).
Hours upon hours of sandcastle building
BFFs Zoe and Hank
Climbing to the top of the dunes in Warren Dunes State Park (hard!)
Fernwood Botanical Garden in Niles
So much delicious food
Raspberry and apple picking

You can see all of Josh and my photos here.