Sunday, October 30, 2011

Chicago Visit

Mom's Caesar salad turned into a baby's adventure.
Last weekend, Ava, Bena, and I drove up to Chicago partly for my work trip and then we stayed for the rest of the weekend to visit family and friends. Aaron was out of town all weekend for his annual canoe camping trip in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with his two best friends, Zac and Chris. They're totally off the grid all weekend, even without cell service.

We left on Thursday morning starting out on the 3 1/2 hour drive to Chicago. My work meeting was at 4pm and I booked a hotel room for me and Ava to stay in downtown in the Loop near my client's office. The leader for the Chicago user community is a mom too and she offered to hook me up with a babysitter, which was a huge help. The only catch was that we had a very short timeline because the babysitter goes to high school on the far north side of the city and I had to pick her up and get them settled at the hotel before I left for my meeting. I dropped Bena off at her old daycare kennel for the night since couldn't stay in the hotel with us. She had a blast playing withe dogs while she was there.

Ava didn't have an afternoon nap that day so she was exhausted to say the least. When I left for my meeting, Ava was really upset. The babysitter was really sweet and tried to play with her and even put her down for a late nap. I went to the meeting, but I couldn't stay for the happy hour. I got a text from the sitter that Ava couldn't stop crying. I headed back to the hotel and she was a mess. The poor thing was all red and really upset. I finally got her settled and then we ordered some dinner. It's really hard to be a working mama sometimes. My clients were really understanding that I had to miss the social hour, but it was worth it that I could go for the meeting part.
Friday morning, we got up early and picked up Bena from her doggie daycare, then went to visit our friend Viviana and her 4-week old baby, Valentina. It was so great to meet her baby and see her transformation into mommy-hood. Vivi is such a good hostess that she insisted on cooking breakfast even though I was hoping to cook for her so she could sit and relax with her baby. When I held Valentina, I put her in my ring sling to show Vivi how to use it. Ava got really jealous and when I picked her up too, she pulled at the sling because she wanted the baby out of HER sling. I guess she is not ready for a sibling. Wow!

We had a nice visit, then we headed to Aurora to my sister-in-law, Megan's house. Later that afternoon, Ava got to play with her cousin, Colin. That weekend was also Colin's 2nd birthday so we brought him a bag of fun art supplies. I wish I could have gotten a better picture of Colin and Ava, but these two tots move so quickly! I asked Ava if she wanted to hug Colin and she went in to hug and kiss him and he turned away. I guess he was too shy. It took them awhile to warm up since they hadn't seen each other in awhile. Then later that day, Megan had some pizza on her plate and the kids were interested. She fed them pieces like baby birds. It was so cute! Colin and Ava will have fun years ahead at Grandma and Grandpa's lake house!
Trying to hug her cousin.

Hug attempt #2

Playing in Colin's high chair.

Tranquility for a toddler's afternoon nap.

Homemade greeting cards.
Early Saturday morning, we left the Gingerich's and headed back to the city. My friend, Valeri, arranged for us to take a Paper Source holiday craft workshop in Evanston that morning. She asked her sister to watch Ava while we went to the class. Vanessa was great! She put Ava in the stroller and had Bena on the leash to head to the park while Val and I headed to the class. They had a blast in the park. Bena got squirrel crazy and Ava got swing crazy! When Ava sees a swing she says "wee, wee." She even feel asleep for a nap after the park and a snack. I was relieved because of how badly the previous babysitting experience was for that trip. Val and I had so much fun at Paper Source. We used to take the workshops back when I was living in Chicago. We stamped, glued, cut, embossed, glittered, and you name it. I got some supplies for holiday greeting cards, tags, and a fun paper baby monkey puppet craft set to make for Ava this winter when we spend our days indoors.

Later that afternoon, Val, Ava and I headed to the Andersonville neighborhood for a quick visit with our friends, Lauren and Dave. It was fun to catch up and hear about their recent travels. We're hoping to host them in December in Indy.

At Val's that night we had pizza and her mom's Greek salad, then watched a movie. Ava fell asleep in my arms while we were watching TV snuggled up in her blanket. Ava loves the city so much! The sights and sounds are so interesting so she stays awake, fighting her naps. Even on the long drive she doesn't sleep very much either. Thankfully, my friend, Lisa, lent me her portable DVD player. I borrowed some DVDs from the library for the drive. Ava loved the Elmo and Dora videos, which really saved me because she didn't sleep much.

We left on Sunday morning for the 4 hour drive. Val lives on the far north side of Chicago so the drive is about 4 hours. I stopped halfway through on Sunday afternoon to perk up with some iced coffee and I got some french fries to share with Ava. We only get fast food when we're on a road trip so I don't feel too bad, although I don't want to make it a habit! It was a very busy weekend, but so worth it!

Stroller ride in Andersonville

Driving home with a treat and DVD.

Pumpkin Carving

Before we say goodbye to October, I had to post these fun Fall pictures from our Sunday afternoon carving the pumpkin that we brought home from the pumpkin patch. We have been so lucky this season to have a gorgeous sunny days and the colorful leaves. We live in a wooded area so there's no shortage of leaves. Aaron raked them into a pile and we put Ava in it while were carving our pumpkin. Bena jumped in too!

We told Ava to throw the ball into the pile of leaves so that Bena could sniff our the scent to find her ball. It's a fun challenge for a hunting dog!

 Before we carved the pumpkin we put the funny pair in the grass.
 Ava loves silverware. She swiped the spoon that I was using to scrape the insides from the pumpkin. Aaron carefully carved the jack-o-lantern and my job was to clean out the inside. We roasted the pumpkin seeds in butter and sea salt.

 There's Bena posing for her beauty shot. Bena's favorite season is Fall too. She blends in with the colorful leaves and grasses, which is perfect for hunting birds. She likes the cooler temperatures. Even though Vizsla's don't have an undercoat, they get very warm because of all the running around that they do. Bena loves to catch the ball in the backyard and seems to go forever in the Fall.
We placed the pumpkin at the front door and Ava had to check it out!

Aaron carved Ava's name on the side of the pumpkin for her.

The line-up....

Love that ruffle butt.

Our little family after our pumpkin carving afternoon.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

Playing with the fallen leaves in the backyard.

Blocking a dog kiss from Bena.

Last weekend, we took advantage of the perfect Fall weather to visit the pumpkin patch. The weather was clear, warm in the sun, and the leaves were every shade!

Aaron went to an ExactTarget employee golf outing and got home just in time for us to go to Stonycreek Farm in Noblesville before they closed for the day. They have a Fall festival the whole month of October and have activities like bounce houses, straw maze, hay ride, carnival rides, and Autumn foods like kettle corn and apples dipped in caramel. We got there a bit too late in the afternoon so we went straight for the straw maze since it was easy for Ava to do on her own. It was perfect for a toddler! We helped her climb to top of the straw pyramid.
Straw maze

Are you following me?

Ava on top of the hay pyramid at the Farm.

On the hay ride with Mommy and Daddy

Our walk through the pumpkin patch. They're growing Christmas trees too!
 Then we took a hay ride to the pumpkin patch to pick out our pumpkin. When we started to get inside, I didn't realize you sit on real hay in the wagon behind the tractor. It was a surprise! It brought out the city-girl in me! Ava got right in the wagon with Aaron and sat on his lap. They dropped us off at the pumpkin patch. I was surprised to see the pumpkins growing along side the Christmas trees.

 We walked quite a bit with Ava at our side to pick out our pumpkin. We found a nice pumpkin with a deep orange color and Aaron carried it back to the wagon pick-up location. Ava liked walking through the pumpkins and trees!
Snuggling with Daddy looking at the pumpkins.

Trying to decide on a pumpkin.

Snuggling with Mommy. Drool on her face from her teething.

Helping Mama bake butternut squash cake in the kitchen.

On our ride back the sun was starting to fade and we relaxed on the hay ride back to pay for our pumpkin. We had one of the best days in a long time! I'm so glad we went!

Later that afternoon, Ava helped me bake some butternut squash cake. I pulled up the step stool to the counter so she could reach. She loves to use the measuring spoons and transfer the ingredients to the bowls. I showed her how to crack the egg and beat it with a fork. Now she wants to help with the eggs. She also likes to stir! Later when we put the cake in the oven to bake, she pulled out her cooking toys and started to continue to play!

October is my favorite month of the year! I'm glad we can start new family traditions to celebrate Autumn while Ava is small so she can remember all the fun from the season when she's older.

We're about to carve that pumpkin today! We'll roast the pumpkin seeds in the oven for a yummy snack. I'll post pictures on the blog!