Sunday, November 29, 2020

Our Staying Away From Other People Weekends

 Our hope going into November was to be able to have a small Thanksgiving with a few close people at our table. Of course, that isn't how Thanksgiving went this year and it wasn't for our lack of trying. For the two weekends before Thanksgiving, we decided not to see other people (family, friends, etc.). It was as if we were back in full quarantine again. We made the most of it though. 

One Saturday, we woke up unnaturally early in hopes of catching a meteor shower. Then, we stayed out and had an adventure before the rest of the city was awake. It was a VERY memorable morning!

The rest of the time the minis did school work, played, we organized, cleaned, and prepped for turkey day.

When the alarms rang at 4 a.m., we eagerly awoke. We knew cloudy skies and rain would be moving in, so we were thrilled to see clear skies. Of course, by the time we got to Badger Creek State Park, clouds covered the sky and we saw zero stars and no meteor shower. We were disappointed, but then something happened that made the entire trip worth it.
We decided to take a walk along the road in the Park. The dog was whining because we wouldn't let him run to the lake, but otherwise it was a peaceful early morning. As we walked, we noticed sporadic light movement across the lake and people shouting at one another (as if giving directions). We weren't sure what was going on. Hubs quieted us all because he was worried, I thought it was a game of hide n' seek, and the kids loudly shouted, "what's going on over there? Let's go see!" A few minutes later a large truck came down the road and stopped next to us. Their window slowly rolled down and two people in camo gear asked us, "are you here for duck hunting?" They nervously looked over our large group with a dog (who was still whining to get in the water and would most likely try to play with a duck rather than actually catch it!) as we informed them we were not there for duck hunting. The look of relief on their faces was priceless! I had a good laugh over their clear nervousness thinking we would get all of the ducks with our three kids and friendly pup. That would have been a sight! 

Kids and dog fell asleep on our way to Chu Chu Donuts for breakfast. If you haven't tried their Cronut, I highly recommend it!

With the roads being dead and no one out, we decided to check out the new Riverview Park. A bit of history: this area was once home to an amusement park. The new playground is amusement park themed and features a large outdoor ampitheater, as well as being situated next to the bike path. We were there for over an hour playing. The minis had a fantastic time and I took the dog on a bit of the bike path. 
Tip: from the park, you can see a shelter up on a hill (looking Northwest from the playground). That is McHenry Park that has one of our favorite spray grounds in the summer and a small (like, very small) playground. You can easily hit BOTH parks for playing. The kids didn't come with me, but Zeus and I walked up to McHenry Park just for fun. Even though our days are getting colder, I can definitely see us bundling up this winter and playing.

Yes, Zeus played too. That can happen when you have the entire park to yourselves!

After playing and being up for several hours, we made a stop at Twisted Bean Coffee before heading home, where we stayed the rest of the weekend (minus one quick trip to the hardware store for Hubs and I). Zeus knows about drive thru coffee shops and the little cup of whipped cream he gets. Every time we pull up to a drive thru, he starts licking his lips and whining. 

My pile of Christmas presents kept growing throughout our weekends at home. I worked my way through Bud Light's Ugly Sweater variety pack. My favorites are the peppermint pattie and apple crisp.

These deer aren't afraid of much. They casually walk down our sidewalk at all hours of the day and have even let Zeus smell them. Now the dog thinks they're friends and cries at them to come play every time he sees any deer. I don't think we could turn him into a hunting dog even if we wanted to at this point!

Trying candies from Italy and Russia. Socially studies on a weekend.

They also spent an afternoon working on their science fair boards.

We tried a new-to-us recipe and LOVED it. Egg roll in a bowl was incredibly easy to make (the boys are making it this week)! The youngest two also broke out their favorite Asian salad to eat with it as well.

Every other week, Zeus gets a box of treats and bones delivered from Chewy. Now, every time a box is delivered, Zeus get excited and likes to "help" to open them. There's a lot of disappointment when he realizes some of these boxes are not for him!

This one finished up her block class on marine biology and showed off her ocean scene.

Italian take out. I can't remember from where, but we've been trying to support local restaurants every weekend.

Friday, November 27, 2020

My Favorite Things Thanksgiving Edition

Yes, 2020 has been quite the year! There are MANY things I have to be grateful for, many things I've discovered and grown to love. I'm prepping for a winter at home, so many of my great discoveries are things that will keep us/the minis/daycare busy during our days, on the weekends, and even during homeschooling.

1.) Since we won't have our usual Christmas time activities, parties, and events to attend, I snagged this Christmas Vacation puzzle. This should keep us busy and entertained for one weekend this December!

2.) I began buying Christmas gifts in October. Daycare is getting the usual "one new gift a week" beginning with last week's Little People Baby Playdate. LP are a hot toy for daycare right now and I'm fairly certain we simply didn't have enough sets as it was (sarcasm), so why not add to it? 

3.) Sensory activities are always a hit at this house for all ages. We've been making our own slimes since before it was cool to (seriously people, first slime post was 2013, check it out. It seems old school now). The kids think it's a treat when I buy the actual slime kits instead! So, I spent some dough on the Nickelodeon Jumbo Slime Kit and an Elmer's slime kit. I'm sure they'll get a lot of use once Christmas break rolls around.

4.) We've gone through A LOT of different water bottles over the years. Our favorite to carry with us on hikes, traveling, and daily use is Camelbak bottles. The twist cap is preffered at our house. No leaks, dishwasher safe, and they can be dropped or slightly rolled over by the car with no cracks to report.

5.) Our day after Thanksgiving tradition includes baking gingerbread men and decorating them. Not one of us is particularly fond of ginerbread cookies, but we make them year after year. We use Betty Crocker Gingerbread Cookie mix, as it makes for incredibly soft cookies.

6.) The minis have been studying the planets and constellations. Hubs downloaded Sky Map onto the mini's phone, so they can point it up to the sky and determine where everything is all on their own! We've even used it a time or two.

7.) I needed a funny show to destress from the times and finally got around to watching Schitt's Creek. I binged the entire series in about a week or two. Needless to say, it's hilarious and just the distraction I needed!

8.) If you're looking for ornaments or wooden crafts, check out Beaver Craft Designs. My parents got us this Friends ornament for Christmas. Not only is it incredibly crafted, but it's spot on for 2020! * ornaments pictured above

9.) Spoiler alert for Christmas: my kids are getting Harry Potter Legos. As in, nearly all of the sets. That should keep them busy for at least a week. The middle mini is reading the Harry Potter series and is obsessed, so these seemed like a no brainer. I've kept my eyes for deals on Amazon and Target. I've gotten each set at least $20-$30 off regular makes me feel like I pretty much didn't spend any money at all. This is how I lie to myself.

10.) Looking for a new holiday drink to try out? Bud Light Ugly Sweater variety pack is a must try for you seltzer drinkers. The peppermint pattie was surprisingly delicious--and I'm not the biggest fan of peppermint either.

11.) My weekday mornings are busy, so I don't have a lot of time to do much of anything. Including eating. My new favorite is the Kodiak pumpkin dark chocolate muffin cup for a warm and quick breakfast.

12.) We skipped trick or treating on Halloween, so we filled the mini's buckets with toys, such as Crayola scented dough. Much ike Play Doh, but a much better smell! The minis have played with it daily since then. I snagged some small containers in Target's Dollar Spot.

13.) Hubs broke out his grandma's classic Corelle sets for our Thanksgiving meal and chances are we're keeping these out for use. We're (finally) moving on from plastic plates and cups, but I'm not ready to move glass dinnerware back into our cupboards.

14.) Christmas tip: have your kids/family members/you create Wish Lists on Amazon. When people ask for ideas, send them the link and you're done.