Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Chicago Sunday

After having a big cookout for our neighbors on Saturday (where Jon made DELICIOUS ribs!), we had a low-key family day on Sunday.  It was a beautiful day so we went to the park by the lake (near Montrose Beach) to play a little baseball and pick a few dandelions.  I soo enjoy days like this!

Millie picking flowers for her mommy.

I just love those little hands!!

Noah practicing his swing.

Millie trying to help out...
It is quite a chore to keep her away from the batter's box
and to make sure Noah doesn't swing when she is too close!

Someone wants to be like her brother!

Bowman taking a breather in between fetches.

After the excitement of our ball game,
we all laid in the grass for a little rest before heading back home for lunch.

Indulging in one of our favorites...a banana split from Margie's Candies!
(okay, so this wasn't on Sunday, it was on Monday, but I wanted to post it because I love the pic of us three demolishing that sundae...wait, I guess it is a Sundae after all!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New York, New York!

The past few weeks have been spent catching up from our week away, enjoying the beautiful weather and many trips to the park (there is a new park just a block away from us and we just love it!).  Last Tuesday I took a break from all that and on a whim flew to New York to attend the National Stationery Show. 

Ever since I learned about the show 5 years ago, I have wanted to go.  At that time I had just left my corporate job (as a systems analyst/programmer - that seems so crazy and foreign to me now!) to do something less stressful and more 'me.'  I was hired as manager of a cute paper and gift boutique in the North Shore.  The owner (and thousands of retailers from all over the world) attends the Stationery Show every year to find the next best thing, see new designs and to place orders with the vendors to stock her store for the upcoming months.  To me, the idea of all that paper, all those designs, all that creativity in one place is so exciting!
One of my business goals has been to attend that show as a vendor and have those retailers buy my designs.  Knowing myself, the chances of me getting there next year would not be very likely having never been there to see what the whole thing is about.  So this year, since I am officially and legally a business in the stationery industry I meet the requirements for someone who can attend!  By the time we returned from Florida the show was only 8 days away, and it didn't seem likely that I could make arrangements that quickly to go, BUT after mentioning my idea to Jon and discussing with him the logistics and finding a cheap flight we both decided this was something I HAD to do!  So he, being the #1 Toluka Paper supporter he is, took a day off work to stay home with the kiddies while I left the house at 4:15am to catch my 6am flight to NY and returned at 11:55pm that same night.  It was a looong, but VERY exciting day.  I learned so much from walking around, chatting with this year's vendors, from visiting the booths of suppliers and fullfillment companies...and I also learned a lot about myself!  That trip was a big deal for a little, midwestern girl like me -  to get on two flights in one day (I HATE flying), maneuver to and from each airport reaching my destinations on time, and approaching many companies with my compliments and questions while being totally intimidated.  After all that, I KNOW that ...if I can make it there - I can make it anywhere!  See ya next year New York!!

This is one of the booths right at the entrance of the show.  If you can picture row after row after row of booths like this one (some smaller, some larger) taking up almost an entire floor of the Jacob K. Javits convention center.  It took me FIVE hours to walk the whole thing and according to people I talked to, it has been getting smaller each year for the past 3-4 years and used to take up TWO floors!  Whoa!

(I  know the pictures aren't super exciting, but the vendors aren't too keen on having pictures taken of their products, as copying of ideas and designs happens all to often in this industry...can't say I blame them!)

Friday, May 14, 2010

We're Back...

We are back from our trip to Florida.  It was SUCH a wonderful trip we only wish we could have extended it another week!  The kids were so good and the weather was beautiful (nice and hot, but a good change from the soggy cold we have had in Chicago).  We had a couple things on our agenda while we were down there...a trip to Ft. Myers to visit family, a trip to the beach...and of course our visit to 'Mickey's Castle' (Noah's words for Disney World) and the rest of the days were filled with fun times at the amazing kiddie pools at our resort.  Here is a quick run-down of our trip:

Day 1
Left the house at 4:30am to make our 6:30am flight.
Arrived in FL in once piece - once there, we grabbed our luggage, rented our car and made it to our resort all in less than 1 hour...Jon and I make a great team!!!
Stocked up on groceries and other necessities for the week.
Went to the pool.
I placed a bet on Super Saver to win the Kentucky Derby...and WON!
Kids went to bed in the same room...and Millie in a 'big girl bed' (for the first time)...and loved it!
Jon and I pretty much hit the sack soon had been a long, crazy, day.

Day 2
Lazy morning
Lazy day by the pool
The 'pirate pool'- it has two small slides on the other side.  Both kids enjoyed the slides!
Packed up and drove to Ft. Myers that evening
Had a great meal near Ft. Myers beach...including an icecream treat!

Day 3
Went to the pool with Aunt Verda while Jon and Uncle Dale played golf
Kids both took loooong naps that day...just about the only day they had naps!!
Another GREAT dinner at the Beachey house...thanks D & V!
Packed up and drove back to Orlando that evening.

Day 4
Lazy day at the pool

Day 5
Arrived at Disney World before the park opened to the public.
Had an early breakfast at the Crystal Palace with Winnie the Pooh and Friends.
Millie was not too sure about those huge, fuzzy characters - Noah loved them!
Headed straight to Mickey's house to meet him and Minnie
Met Goofy and Donald...they made Noah laugh...then Noah started breakdancing for them... on the ground...that made Goofy and Donald laugh!
Rode lots of rides
Shared ice cream
Rode more rides
Watched the Fireworks
Left the park at closing time
What a loooong, but wonderful and 'magical' day!
N & M's new best friends

Day 6
Recover from 'Disney Day'
More lazy-ness at the pool
(actually, the pool is anything but lazy with these two!)

Day 7
Drove to Cocoa Beach for a day of sun, sand and waves.  The kids loooved playing in the sand and the waves!  They would have stayed all day if we let them...we spent FIVE hours there!
Noah riding the waves
Millie exploring the sand

Day 8
Pack'em up and ship'em out.
Kids slept for half the flight home and overall, were very good!
Breakfast the morning we left...they insisted on eating ALL their meals outside!

It was so nice to have 100% family time for an entire week!  Jon and I have both been crazy with work lately, so time with our two favorite people was just what we needed to recharge and put things in perspective.  We all had such an incredible time and can't wait for our next family trip together!