First Day of School

Emma had new student orientation at her school last week but her first “official” day of school was this Tuesday, August 24th.  Her new school is a multi-aged (3, 4, and 5 year olds) Montessori based school and Emma absolutely loves it.  This will be her last year of Preschool before she goes to Pre-Kindergarten. 

She will be going to school Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays.  I miss her while she’s gone but I also really cherish the time I have alone with Foster.  Life is so different for the second child, isn’t it?! They just get drug around from activity to activity.  Nap schedules are very challenging!  All in all though, Foster is pretty laid back which is great. 

Here are a couple of pictures from Emma’s first day of school.  Daddy went to work late so that he could go with us on her first day.  She’s so smiley in the first picture… I’m not sure what I said to make her make the face in the 2nd picture! 



IMG_1579 IMG_1586 


The beginning of fort building

While I was in Chicago, my Aunt Judy taught Emma how to build a fort using blankets and furniture.  Emma absolutely loved it and now asks to build forts daily. :)

When my brother was over last week- they built a “mini-fort” using the recliner chair.  Emma loves to hibernate in her forts.  Her baby dolls are in their pack ‘n play at the bottom of her fort- that’s so she can keep a close eye on them while she hides out.



Emma’s First Dance Lesson

This summer I began exploring options for an “activity” for Emma to get involved with during the Fall.  This girl has SO much energy and loves to learn new things.  We began talking to her about things like ballet, gymnastics, soccer, and piano.  She immediately expressed an interest in dance.  She has been dancing since she was one- seriously! I enrolled her in a combination ballet/tap class at a dance studio very close to our house- ironically it was started by a girl that I took dance with when I was little. 

As I started to get all of the clothing items ready for ballet/tap, I started thinking to myself, “Oh dear, what have I gotten myself into!!??”  Tap shoes with elastic straps, ballet shoes that fit properly, a black leotard, and pink tights, and a ballet bag- and we haven’t even gotten close to recital time yet!

This weekend my Aunt Judy was over at our house and Emma kept asking Judy to show her ballet- to practice some moves with her so she’d be ready.  They practiced twirling, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th position.  They practiced bar work, and a plea (plee-ay).  It was pretty adorable to watch the excitement in her eyes.

Her first class was this evening.  She was so excited from the time she woke up this morning.  She talked about it all day and completely wore herself out by the time the class started. 

Waiting for class to begin:IMG_1528

Still waiting… can you tell that she is excited?IMG_1529

And here is the class: 11 girls (age 3-4 years) Emma is on the far left, kind of hidden in this picture:IMG_1533

Emma sitting on the left:IMG_1534

After class- the ballet case she is wearing was mine when I was little- my mom kept EVERYTHING!:IMG_1538



We met Daddy at Outback for dinner after dance- it was yummy.  Here she is after dinner:IMG_1548

Mommy and her ballerina:IMG_1551

Photo Shoot with Foster

I hadn’t taken many recent pictures of ‘just Foster’ lately and was feeling a little bit guilty.  So Robin and I took a million pictures of Foster over the weekend and here are a few.  He is growing and changing so much every day.  He has so many different facial expressions- it was very difficult to capture all of them!














Emma Playing Piano

During my mom’s move to a new home, we were so blessed to acquire my old Baby Grand Piano.  My dad bought the piano for me when I was 15 years old and it was by far the best present I  have ever received.  I took piano lessons from the time I was 4 until the time I graduated from high school.  And I was one of those weird kids that actually enjoyed practicing! 

I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and play since we got the piano last month, but Emma loves to sit and make up songs.

Here she is with her toy dog (this toy is really for a newly walking toddler but she loves this dog!)  Please note that she is also wearing Princess Christmas pajamas that are flannel… in AUGUST!  She kind of has a mind of her own about clothing selection these days.




Jeff’s Wedding

As I stated in my previous post, we traveled to Chicago to attend my cousin Jeff’s wedding.   Jeff is the son of Renee, my mom’s sister who passed away last September.  Her passing has been so hard on all of us.  We knew that it was important to be there for Jeff (and his brother Steve) on Jeff’s special day.  While Renee wasn’t alive to be at Jeff’s wedding in person, she was definitely there in spirit.  I got goose bumps several times- (and cried through the entire ceremony.)

Me, Boom, and Mom before the wedding:IMG_0208edit 

Mom and Boom- I thought mom looked so beautiful and Boom looked so handsome.IMG_0209 

The wedding and reception were at the Rookery Building in Downtown Chicago- it was so beautiful.  IMG_0219

The candle on the far right was lit in memory of my Aunt Renee:IMG_0223

Olivia and Madeline (Steve’s daughters), my 2nd cousins, rang bells down the aisle:IMG_0226

This picture is a little bit blurry… Jeff and Steve are the two on the far left.  Aren’t they handsome?  IMG_0227 

The bride and groom: Lesley and Jeff:IMG_0235edit

Mia (Jeff’s daughter), Robin (Steve’s wife), and Madeline (Steve’s daughter): 


Mom and I at dinner:IMG_0243edit

Mom and Jeff:IMG_0254

Me, Jeff, and Brandon:IMG_0255edit

Mia and Olivia:IMG_0256

Tate (Jeff’s son):IMG_0257

Lesley, Jeff’s new wife!:IMG_0268

It was a beautiful wedding.  We were so thankful that we got to be a part of the special day.  We wish you many many years of happiness and love Jeff and Lesley.



My Mom, Brother, and I just returned from an awesome 3 day trip to Chicago.  I say 3 days, but really only ONE of those days was spent in Chicago… the other two days were spent driving!  We were invited to my cousin Jeff’s wedding and we really wanted to be there with him on his special day.  We didn’t want to spend money on flights so we braved the drive.  We are so glad we did.  We made some awesome memories along the way and really, the drive wasn’t all that bad.  We took shifts and made it in about 12 hours each way.  The above picture was taken from our hotel room, The Renaissance in Downtown Chicago.  We had an awesome view of the night life when looking out our window to the right and we saw Trump International to the left.  It was kind of surreal. 

Brandon drove most of the way- doesn’t he look studly here?:IMG_0022

The first night when we arrived we went to a Meet and Greet at the Hotel Bar/Lobby.  We got to see our cousins, Jeff and Steve, and visit with some of the other guest for an hour or so.  We didn’t get any pictures from that event- we were so tired we just stayed for a short bit then headed back to our room to SLEEEEEEEEP.

The next morning we went searching for a good breakfast place.  We stumbled on this adorable place called “South Water Kitchen” about 1 block from our hotel and we loved everything about it.  We sat on the patio which gave us a great view of Chicago life.  Each of us loved our breakfast.  Here is mom outside of the restaurant.  She loved all of the flowers of course. :)



I’m sorry, I had to include a picture of my breakfast: French Toast and Syrup with Strawberries and Blueberries and a lemon cream cheese in the middle.  Um, the best breakfast I’ve ever had.   


Mom and Brandon with some random statue:IMG_0043

This was hilarious- there was this guy dressed like a statue who offered to let you take your picture with him for tips.  He spray paints his ENTIRE body, including clothes.  He really looked like a statue!  (There were also many random people along Michigan Avenue asking for tips for doing all kinds of random things- playing drums on plastic buckets, dancing, giving hugs, etc.)


The best part of our day was a Wendella Boat Tour that we took from 11-12:30.  We sat on the boat and got a tour straight through the middle of Chicago and Lake Michigan.  We got to see the amazing architecture up close and personal and then from a distance out on the lake.  It was very educational and fun.  Now and I can correctly identify each of the historic buildings in Chicago. (at least I can identify the MAJOR buildings!)


Brandon took this picture of us on the boat- we had to sit separate from mom because we got to the boat a little late.  We did ending up getting to sit by her about halfway through the tour.IMG_0049

I loved these two buildings below- they are apartments on top with a parking garage on the bottom- can you see the cars?  Parking is steep in Chicago- there are not a lot of spaces for cars so they have to get creative and go UP with their parking I guess!  Marina City is the name of these two towers, the "corncob towers" made famous in the movie "Hunter," where a car chase scene ends with a car falling off the tower’s parking garage into the Chicago River. Each tower is 65 stories.IMG_0036

The ‘L’ (sometimes called "L", El, EL, or L) is the rapid transit system serving the city of Chicago and some of its surrounding suburbs.IMG_0062 

Up-close view of the Willis Tower, formerly named Sears Tower, is a 108-story skyscraper. At the time of its completion in 1974, it was the tallest building in the world, surpassing the World Trade Center Towers in New York, and it held this rank for nearly 25 years. The Willis Tower is now the tallest building in the United States.IMG_0071

I love this building- it was created by a female architect, and won a lot of awards.  It is named the Aqua tower: “At Aqua, the curved terraces vary slightly from floor to floor, giving the 82-story tower a soft, billowy look, like water.”IMG_0083

Carbide and Carbon building…This is real gold on top of this building… I bet that was pricey!IMG_0082

Trump International Hotel and Tower- opened in 2008.IMG_0165

Navy Pier with skyline in the background:IMG_0109


Tall building here is the John Hancock building.  The famous Ferris Wheel is on the right.  This was on our list of things to ride, but we ran out of time.  IMG_0140

Boom, Me, and Mom with Chicago Skyline in the backIMG_0116edit 

After our tour we ate lunch at a highly recommended pizza joint called “Gino’s East.”  We had to wait for 15 minutes outside just to get in!  Then we waited 45 minutes for our deep dish pizza.  It was well worth the wait!IMG_0185

My mom signing her name on the grafiti wall- such a rebel!IMG_0188

Deep Dish Chicago style pizza- half pepperoni, half supreme.  We each had ONE piece!!!  Hmmm, french toast for breakfast, deep dish pizza for lunch.  I can’t figure out why I gained 5 pounds on this trip!!!??IMG_0193

After lunch we did a little bit of shopping on the Magnificent Mile.  We were mainly window shopping.  We only went in 3-4 stores because we needed to get ready for the wedding.

Here Mom and I are outside of Tiffany’s.  We went in and browsed for a few minutes.  My brother and I died laughing- when we went in Tiffany’s there was a security guard standing right at the entrance and my mom said to him, “We’re just looking sir, we’re not buying.”  I don’t think he cared mom but at least he knows now that we didn’t have the money to be shopping there. :)IMG_0200 

I felt like I had to go in the American Girl store for Emma.  I’ve heard a lot about it but never been.  We get the American Girl catalog and Emma frequently talks about which doll she would like to get someday.  I’m thinking when she’s about 5 years old we’ll make a trip to Dallas to the American Girl store.  By the way, my brother thought this store was really creepy- he thought the dolls looked like “Chucky” dolls.


This is one of my favorite pictures- Brandon and I made a purchase at Payless Shoe Store on the Magnificent Mile.  We were both having shoe issues and had to buy something more comfortable!!!  So, you won’t see Tiffany’s sacks, Louis Vitan, Coach, etc. in our hands- nope we had Payless sacks.  :)


So, overall, what was my opinion of Chicago?  I loved it!  It’s probably wrong to compare it to NYC but it did remind me of NYC.  They both have a beautiful central park, beautiful buildings, beautiful bodies of water, wonderful food, crazy taxis, similar transportation, and wonderful shopping strips.  I would love to go back to Chicago with Robin someday and spend more than 24 hours there.  There is so much to see and do!  Thanks for the visit Chicago- you’re pretty fantastic.