15 NovIvy’s 2nd Grade School Program and Mystery Reader

Ivy’s teacher has a mystery reader come in to read to the class periodically. Lisa had signed up in December but her teacher has to go somewhere so requested a change of date. It ended up working out for her to come on the same day as the program. The kids all are given clues to try to guess who is coming. No one guessed it was Ivy’s mom. Mimi came to hang out with us too. We loved getting to see Ivy’s class and answer questions they had just before lunch. We also joined them for lunch afterwards and got to see Katie and Leia too since all their lunches overlap before we went to the gym to save our seats. 

Lunch with the girls

Ivy did the same program that her sister and cousins did before her. Second grade always does one on immigration since it goes along with their school curriculum. Of course, we got Ivy a different outfit and each of their classes were featured in different songs. Thankful Mimi went in right at noon to save us 4 seats for so we could be up front to see our little immigrant perform. Leia got to check out to watch too. Unfortunately it was a mad house afterwards and Mimi bolted out too so we did not get pictures afterwards with her cheering crowd but she knew Mimi, sister, Daddy, and Mommy was there watching her star performance and were all proud of her. 

Class picture before their performance

Ivy’s class was featured in “I am Thankful to be an American”

They did a great job!   


We had a free night so we decided to decorate the house for our Comfort Christmas. Leia said it was the best time of the year

11 NovChicago Trip for Mimi’s 65th Birthday

Friday morning the girls got to skip school to head out of town. We meet up at BHM airport for Mimi’s 65th birthday trip with the Rhoads. Mark overcame his fear and made it to Chicago in tact. Aunt Diane and uncle Dennis picked us up to drive us through the various towns, Greek town, china town, little Italy, etc. Of course we were all hungry so our first stop to get out of the car was to eat. 

Diane picked a yummy Itialian an restaurant named, Connie’s. The decorations were marvelous and the food delicious. The head waiter game by to greet us and bring the kids dough balls to play them came back later to play with the girls. The hostess took several pictures for us in a couple different spots. As soon as Ivy got still she fell asleep. We ordered family style, getting calamari, salads, and pizzas. The fellowship was the best. 

We got to drive by the Sox stadium and United Center where the Chicago Bulls played. The girls were tired so next stop was the hotel to get settled in our rooms.as we approached the city Diane said, “the loop was lighting up”.  We found out the loop is the nickname for downtown Chicago and it had to do with how the interstates looped around the city. The guys took the girls to the pool while the ladies went to get bottled water and wine. We all joined back together and made sure we all were good with Saturday’s plans before half the gang called it a night and the rest headed to Mimi’s room for room service before bedtime. 

At the airport ready for out adventure for Mimi’s 

At Connie’s for lunch

The chef brought the girls dough out to play with and ended up coming back to play with them a few minutes

We drove by the United Center, Sox stadium, and where the Chicago’s Black Hawks  played. 

Sweet Mimi got the girls room service after they swam and our long travel day 

Saturday, was Mimi’s real birthday; a day to celebrate. We all were up early to start our first full day in the Windy City. To everyones surprise Mimi had left a birthday blessings card for each oh us. Lisa and the girls headed next door as soon as we woke up for birthday hugs. The Rhoads girls game a little later and we all have Mimi her cards. When the boys got up we let her open her birthday surprises before heading to breakfast. 

Glad we arrived early since at 8 the wait was already 45 minutes; by the time we left it was over 2.5 hours for a group of 4. The food was great! We shared 4 dishes between the adults but easily could have done 3 and kids could’ve shared kid meals too. Then they gave Mimi a red velvet cake complete with a candle so we could sing happy Birthday afterwards too. Needless to say we all left full as we headed to the river front. 

We paused on the river front to see the bridge being raised and quick photo op before making our way to the boat. The boat took us on a architectural tour in the river through the center of the city. It was quite interesting. The guide spoke more of the architects and structural engineers than what I think she normal trying to cater to the audience of architecture students aboard. We headed back up to the street above and walked down Michington  Avenue. 

The girls were i to shopping. We stopped at Under Armor and Uggs before the guys decided they were done shopping and walked the long way around the city  back to the hotel. The ladies continued going in stores like Sepora and Ultra before we decided we needed to make our way down to The Drake for our high noon tea reservation. 

Auntie Diane meet us at tea while Dennis meet the guys and walked over to Sweet Water to watch football. The girls all enjoyed a Shirley Temple while ladies enjoyed a drink then we ordered our teas. Mimi and Lisa got sugar plum, Stacy and Diane got nutcracker, Sara and a black tea, and leia tried a white tea. The treats were served in a elegant tower. Leia and ivy neither seemed to care for much but Sara and Katie liked the turkey and cheese. It was high class and sophisticated. 

Once we were done there we started our venture back towards the hotel stopping at a variety of stores. The girls found a mall and went to American Girl Store, Lego store, auntie Anne’s for pretzels, Katie stopped by a sport store, and we got  a Christmas ornament. Lisa texted Chris and requested he get Ivy back to hotel since she seemed off and said she wanted to go lay down while the rest of us went to Toys-R-Us and Disney store before returning to the hotel. Ivy was asleep and had started running a fever so we were flexible with dinner plans. 

Aunt Diane helped find a nearby restaurant that we ordered in from and uncle Dennis and Mark picked it up. We found a long table and all sat around it eating the salads, lasagna, and chicken piccata over fabulous fellowship. Lisa delivered Chris’s dinner in the room as Ivy slept through it. After dinner we pulled out the cake Aunt Diane made to sing happy birthday to Mimi. Again, Lisa delivered Chris’s to the room. We lingered a little longer talking and laughing before the other 3 girls started requesting to go to bed. 

As we started to get ready for bed we felt Ivy again and Chris requested we get a thermometer. Lisa and Mark walked back down to Walgreens to get one. Sure enough when we got back and checked Ivy it read 104. After a quick bath to cook her down it was back at 102. We went into fever protocol in our room and prayed that everyone would wake up feeling 100% in the morning. 

We woke up and headed to Mimi’s room right away to wish her a happy birthday

All the girlies made Mimi a homemade card; our favorite kind of cards

Love these ladies

The boys joined us when they got up and Mimi got to open her presents

On the way to breakfast Katie found a Nutella restaurant that she wanted to try before leaving
Waiting for breakfast

Yummy birthday breakfast. Mimi was treated to a red velvet cake and we all got to sing happy birthday to her. Sara said it was favorite breakfast. 

Photo op on way to our Architectural tour

On the tour

We saw some cool buildings, heard all about the construction and design

It was a little chilly on our tour and Sara needed a nappy 

The opened the bridge right before we went under it for a sailboat

Warming up downstairs with hot chocolate

The girls headed shopping 

High noon tea at The Drake to celebrate Mimi’s big day


After High Noon Tea photo snap
We hit a few stores for the kids after tea and got our Christmas ornament for the trip

Sweet Ivy did not make it thru the shopping trip though. She was not feeling well and ended up getting a high fever so she was out for the night. We started praying she would rest it off and be back to her normal self tomorrow but ended up 

We all ended up bringing dinner back to the hotel and celebrating with Mimi’s cake, auntie Diane made

The Rhoads’ got a picture with auntie Diane and uncle Dennis before they left for the evening and we all thanked them for hanging out with us and helping plan our Chicago adventure 

The night was long waking up to check on our little princess. At 1 am we were up giving a cool bath. At 2:15 we Ivy woke up with a nightmare shaking and wanting to make sure mommy, daddy and sissy was ok. We ended up having to turn on the light to show Ivy we all were together. Mommy woke up a few other times as fever spiked and finally broke just after sunrise. Ivy said she was hungry so we all got up to get dressed and meet up for breakfast. 

We tried another restaurant named Yolk. There was not have real cream for coffee so Lisa was bummed. It was split on which breakfast joint was the best with out crew. Both were good though and everyone got energy to explore the city. Our first stop after breakfast was Navy Pier. We walked down the pier taking in the sights, explored the shops inside, got Garrett’s Popcorn, and ride the Farris wheel around three times. 

We got to read a few interesting facts while we were in line for the Farris Wheel: 

* The Navy Pier is 103 years old
* Water front space 50 acres
* Length of pier is 3300 ft long or 0.625 miles
* There are 42 gondaloas on Farris wheel, 1 has glass bottom. 
* It opened in 1916
* There are more than 10k bolts hold pier together
* Famous movies filmed at the pier are Dark Knight, Divergent, and many more

We planned to stop by Molly’s Cupcake after walking around the Pier per the girls request. They had talked to another family the night before and heard it was good. On the way we stumbled onto a fun park across from Molly’s for the girls and stopped for a little bit. The ambience was great. Girls loved the swing seats. The taste of the treats was split though. Neither Leia or Ivy liked their treats but Sara and Katie did. Either way they all got a little more energy to head to Millennium Park. 

We stopped by the hotel to drop off a few items we’d bought at Navy Pier since we were passing by the hotel. Chris stayed behind to make sure our Apple account was secure since we’d gotten several fraud alerts and he’d been there a few times. The rest of us headed to see the Bean and get a photo op with one of Chicago’s landmarks. We walked around the park and saw where they were sitting up the outdoor ice rink. Unfortunately they were not opening for skating until next week so the girlies couldn’t skate but we did have fun exploring the area and thought the art work was beautiful. 

We venture to the adjacent park, Maggie C Daley. It was a incredible park! The girls had fun exploring the different areas of it. They were captains of the pirate ship. They climbed up up towers and got to slide down almost a dozen different slides. Even the adults got on a couple of the smaller slides to join in on the fun. Stacy and Mark left to go get our names in a wait list for dinner while the rest of the adults let the kids enjoy the park as long as possible. 

We drug the kids away but stopped by to get a pre-dinner appetizer … a Chicago dog from a food truck on the way to Purple Pig. We were not sure the kids (or boys) would like the menu but they all appease us and tried some new items. Of course afterwards Katie went to Nutella to get something and Mark went to Sweet Water while the rest of us headed back to hotel to let the girls swim. 

They brought their stuff back to eat by the pool and everyone else enjoyed another piece of Mimi’s bday cake or popcorn. Mimi and Stacy headed up to get showers and start packing while Mark took Sara and Ivy to work out and Lisa watched  Katie and Leia swam. We all merged in the fitness room for a quick turn on a machine before we headed back upstairs. All the ladies hung out in Mimi’s room a little that evening then Leia got her night with Mimi. Ivy declines the invitation to stay with mommy and daddy so Leia got some sweet one on one time. 

Sunday morning mommy had a snuggle bug when we woke up. We were thankful that sweet Ivy’s fever broke during the night and she was more to herself to enjoy touring Chicago 

Family breakfast to energize everyone for the day ahead

Exploring Navy Pier


Margaritaville chair on the pier 

At the end of the pier


Don’t be crabby chair … one person needed to read it 😉
Riding the Farris Wheel

Mark was left holding Stacy’s bag since he did not want to ride but took a great picture for us

On our ride
Our ride and view

Exploring the gardens and shops at Navy Pier

We got to try Garrett’s popcorn, a Chicago staple 
Fun at a random park on the way to Molly’s cupcake
The boys relaxed while the girlies played

The girls were excited to go to Molly’s Cupcake since a friend they met at the pool told them about it and they added it to our agenda themselves

We walked to Millennium Park after our treat

Photo op at the bean

Exploring the area

The outdoor ice rink was ready but not open to the public yet

Maggie C Daley Park

Even the adults got in on the slide fun
Enjoyed taking in the many city sites 

Chicago dog from a food truck was amazing! 

The John Hancock Building allowed us some beautiful views of the city


Chris showed the girls the interactive map of the city then they all got a turn

On the balcony area

Mark and Stacy took Katie to Nutella while the rest of us headed back to the hotel
Swimming at the hotel

After their swim the girls worked out since the fitness room was empty

Sunday night Mimi got a one on one with Mimi. She was spoiled and got to order room service.
Ivy wanted to chill with mommy/daddy. We had fun laughing and taking selfies with silly faces 

To the girls delight when we woke snow was falling when we woke up. We all bundled up walk to breakfast in the snow. Of course we stopped for a couple photo ops and enjoyed the fresh falling snow. Chris had ran to take something back so was a little late arriving since he was given the wrong restaurant name before leaving. Breakfast was good; Katie said it was her favorite breakfast.

Walking in the snow to breakfast
Chris met us at the restaurant after returning medicine to Walgreens. Thankful he called since his wife might have went to the wrong restaurant or told him the wrong one

Pausing to play in the snow a few minutes before heading back to the hotel to pack up and check out   


We headed back to the hotel to pack up since our plane was suppose to take off at 1:55 and Chris said we needed to head to the airport a little earlier with the weather. On the way our Lyft driver told us about a plane that slid off the runway at O’Hara. We decided to keep that information to ourselves and not let the Rhoads know with Marks fear of flying. We all got to the gate to drop off luggage then half of us went to get lunch. The girls did amazing entertaining themselves until it was time to board. After an hour sitting on the plane to load luggage and de-ice we we finally took off to head to sweet home Alabama. 

Entertaining themselves at the hotel before we headed to the airport

Homeward bound


Trip favorites: 

* Mimi’s favorite part was that everyone took the whole weekend to celebrate her and spend time with her. 
* Chris’s favorite was the Farris Wheel
* Mark’s favorite part was landing in the plane …. he doesn’t like flying 
* Stacy’s favorite part was exploring a new city, seeing the kids and Mimi expressions 
* Lisa’s favorite was being together and experiencing a new city together 
* Ivy’s favorite was the Farris Wheel
* Leia’s favorite thing was it snowed 
* Katie’s favorite was Maggie’s C Daley playground and going to Nutella
* Sara’s was breakfast on Mimi’s Birthday 

06 NovIvy’s First School Presentation

Ivy’s got to do her first big presentation this year in second grade. Their musical presentation for their grade is on immigration so their teacher had every student put together a presentation on a country of origin. We come from a array of backgrounds from what we know, so Ivy chose Germany to present. There were 4 students a day present for 4 days. On the day Ivy presented the other three students in her class also presented Germany. We got to watch all of them present and was impressed at the each of their incredible job presenting and got something different from each of their presentations.  

Poster we worked on for her presentation

Ivy presenting

ivy’s cheering/support crowd 

03 NovWeekend Fun: Date Night, Leia’s Cake Decorating Class, Pottery

Friday evening the girls spent the night with Mimi so Chris and Lisa could have a date night. Of course we did not get a picture since we ended up shopping for ovens since ours was giving us trouble incase it was determined it needs to be replaced; we (or Lisa) likes having a plan. Even though the girls weren’t home Saturday morning Lisa was up early and able to enjoy quiet time with coffee by the fire and get some upcoming travel plans made…quiet time is nice but sure did miss our girls chatter and snuggles

Our sweet girls slept in longer than mommy. Mimi sent a picture when Lisa texted to check on them
Of course Leia got up before Ivy so Mimi got sweet snuggles 

Saturday afternoon, Leia got to go to a cake decorating class with her friend Madelyn and several other 4th to 6th graders. Ivy got to go paint pottery with mommy since she was not old enough to do the decorating class. 

They both did a great job decorating a fall cake
Leia’s cake on the left and Madelyn’s on the right

Ivy gave it a thumbs up on the taste test

Mommy took the girlies painting pottery on Sunday while daddy did school and feed his new phone 

Thankful to finish the evening making s’mores with neighbors and friends

31 OctHalloween (2019)

Halloween fell on a Thursday so the girlies had to go to school and mommy/daddy both went to work. The girls both got to have special treats since it was Halloween though at school. Ivy got to vampire donuts; Leia got to read in the dark with flashlights and be a detective. The school and work day went rather quickly. Mimi picked the girlies up from school to run afternoon activities, taking the girls to baton and doing their daily reading with them.

Once the daily have too’s were completed we all headed home. Lisa and Chris beat the girls and Mimi back home so Lisa had started warming up the soups. The Rhoads arrived not too long after the rest of our gang. Lisa had gotten halloween cookies to decorate so the girlies had entertainment while moms/mimi finished fixing dinner. After we ate Lisa snuck off went and put on her costume. She secretly bought a sloth one too so she could surprise the girls and dress up this year.

We all headed out trick or treating on the coldest night of the season. Everyone we passed was shivering but having fun. The cold got to Ivy though so headed home early with Chris. After another street or two the rest of us were about ready to call it a night too. We called Stacy who had traded out with Mimi handing out candy at the house to pick us up to go to the ‘candy man’ then we all headed back home. The girls came back with a ton of candy and did their annual candy swap before we called it an early night since they had school Friday too. We are looking forward to Halloween being on a Friday next year and the mischief it can bring. 

Decorating cookies while the moms cook

The girls did a great job

Love these ladies
Our girls all dressed up

Mommy dressed up too; Ivy liked to photo bomb Katie’s picture op 
Trick or treating fun

Annual candy swap

27 OctWeekend spend the night guest, cleaning, and family

Friday evening, Ivy spent the night with her sweet friends Evelyn while Leia had Harris spend the night with her at our house. Both of them said they had a blast but missed each other bunches; mommy’s heart was happy to hear that and burst watching them snuggle up together when they were reunited. Their reunion was later than we had expected on Saturday. Originally they had a baton performance but with the rainy weather it was cancelled so both girlie got to play longer with their sweet friend. Mommy took advantage of the free day by purging the laundry room and daddy did school work. Hands down, the girls day was more fun than the parents. Thankfully Sunday was a day enjoyed any all. We got sweet, precious  family time with the Rhoads and Mimi. It is fun all cooking together, laughing, and simply enjoying being together. 

The girls got to pick their dinner of choice, Marcos Pizza

Trash popcorn when they came upstairs for movie time

A little fun to get rid of more energy

Sweet dreams and morning time fun

Ivy got home and our girls immediately started playing and telling each other all about their nights 

This monkey is always entertaining us 

Sunday family time on the porch

And enjoying the kids playing 

24 OctVHEW Carnival 2019

VHEW had their annual fall fundraiser, carnival. It is a day that the kids love! They start the day stopping by  the bake sale to get treats. They also get a special treat in their classroom that afternoon too. After school our girls had baton practice so we got a good parking spot since we were there super early. Ivy joined her friend Evelyn when they were walking into carnival while mommy waited for Leia to get out of baton. Leia and mommy headed straight to carnival when she got out. They loved getting to roam the school playing fun games and running into ton of friends. Mommy enjoyed watching our girlies enjoy themselves but was thankful when they were ready to head home for the evening. Blessed to get to watch our girlies grow into beautiful ladies! 

The girlies picked out treats from the bake sale on their way into school

Fun at carnival


Photo op before we left

22 OctLunch with our girls

It had been a while since our sweet girls had a lunch date at school with mommy picking up more hours at work and life getting busy. Tuesday on the way to school Ivy mentioned how long it had been and how she wished mommy was not working as much. After hearing that  her schedule was rearranged to surprise the girls that day at lunch. Normally the lunch treat is jut mommy coming but today mommy even brought them chicken and fries. Love hearing them talk and spending time with them! 


20 OctLeisure weekend with cousins annual pumpkin carving (2019)

Friday afternoon was the day for report card treats since both girls did awesome. Sara and Mimi joined in our little celebration before they headed to Gardendale. As we were finishing up our neighbors Holly, Alex, and Max came in so we got to visit with them too. We ended up all coming back for play and coffee at our house afterwards. 

Friday evening, Leia went to Anna Claire’s birthday party. We gave Ivy the choice of inviting over a friend or hanging out with mommy and daddy; she picked us so the night belonged to her. We started with seafood buckets where she helped peeled and cracked shrimp and crab legs. After dinner Chris headed home to do homework while we went to the mall. We meet up with Holly and Alex so the girls could spend three Build A Bear gift cards then leisurely explored the mall. We were happy to see Leia when we got home and hear about her birthday party fun before it was past bedtime and we were all falling asleep.

Shopping with friends

Saturday, the girls wanted a home day so that is what they got with the exception of Leia going to a hour long Girl Scout meeting. Mommy went into the office to get a jump start on the week. Daddy worked on school. The girls had a leisure day; ah, to be a kid

Sunday morning we went to church then met Mimi and the Rhoads for lunch at Pita Stop before heading back to our house to carve pumpkins. The girls are into competition so the guys were not allowed to see who carved what and judged the pumpkins to award a first place prize. The ladies visited after the judging while the kids played,Mark went to the gym, and Chris got back to school. 

Prepping the area for the carving fun

Before shots

Working shots
Finished products

Judging time: Leia’s took first place this year
This might become an annual tradition
Mimi is the best she bought all the girls pumpkins to carve and her sweet daughters flowers; she even planted some of them for us too


17 OctIvy’s Field Trip to McWane

Mommy was thankful to get to go on the field trip with Ivy and her class to McWane this year. Each parent only had 3 or 4 kids to hang out with this time. Our group consisted of Ivy, Evelyn, and Amanda. They are suck a sweet group of girls! The time flew by as we explored the areas they wanted to, watched “Super Dogs” on the iMax, and ate a quick lunch. Ivy got checked out after the field trip to go to the dentist with her sister; neither girlie had any cavities.  

What a awesome class
Selfie verses someone else taking the pic

Exhibit hall fun


Sweet girls in the iMax held hands since they said parts of it was scary
Quick lunch with sweet friends before heading to the dentist

Love the fun class pose