Three Kids and a Dog

Friday, May 29, 2009


OBX is short for Outerbanks. That's the Outerbanks of North Carolina. After we left Sesame Street Place, we headed south for about six hours until we arrived in Kitty Hawk, NC. You know the place - famous for the Wright Brothers. Who knew they were actually from Ohio but chose Kitty Hawk as their place to take their first flight?

Anyway, it's awesome in OBX. Weather is great. Think miles of beach houses and lots of beach accesses. We spent more than a few lazy days lying on the beach. Okay, that's not exactly true since we have a 2 1/2 year old so it was more like playing in the sand, frolicking in the waves and looking for shells on the beach.

It was Austen's first time in the ocean so at first he was scared of the waves that were pummeling the shore (there's some strong riptides out there.) But once he got used to the sand and the surf, we couldn't keep him out of there. He especially liked planting his feet in the sand as the undertow swept everything else back out to sea. At first he would hold our hands tight as the waves engulfed him up to his knees, then his belly button and sometimes his chest as he got a little braver. Later he had the courage to let go and run in the seaspray by himself sometimes falling down, laughing and then getting right back up. He loved chasing the birds (seagulls) and was especially attracted to the ATVs (all terrain vehicles) that were partrolling the beach. (Austen now says ATV.)

One morning, we all (including Adler) got to watch the beautiful dolphins swimming in the Atlantic as we walked on the beach. We saw many pelicans too - boy they are amazing creatures who will fly so close to the water in packs of four or five straight as an arrow. Austen called them choo choo trains because they looked like them in this formation. There were also sand crabs to be seen. If you were sitting on the beach and were keeping your eyes peeled you may notice little crabs popping up from the sand and scurrying along the beach. These sand crabs were in abundance and freaked Tom out a time or two as he was building Austen a sandcastle.

Days spent on the beach remind me of my youth as I remembered swimming with my brothers on the Jersey Shore and many Mass. beaches. My favorite vacation was the one we spent at Long Beach Island. I was 9. My brothers were 11 and 6. My older brother pulled my younger brother and me around about half of the week in an inflatable raft battling the big waves. Unfortunately that raft popped about half way through the week and my parents decided to buy us each our own boogie boards. Mark's was blue, mine was yellow and Mike's was orange. I remember how much fun we had on those things and how the days would fly by swimming in the ocean. That's one thing I miss about the Midwest. There's no reason to own a boogie board. I wonder what happened to mine.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Road Trip to Elmo’s House

For the last few weeks we’ve been preparing Austen for our Memorial Day excursion. We decided to take him to what we’ve been calling “Elmo’s House” but is really Sesame Street Place or Sesame Place as they call it. It’s an amusement park, water park, playground and theater all rolled into one just north of Philadelphia.

So Friday, we picked him up from school early and started our trek toward Philly with Adler in toe. For dinner we had a picnic at a rest area with Adler (too hot to leave her in the car while we ate inside) and Austen fell asleep to his Merry Music Makers CD while Tom and I drove on for a few hours more.

We decided to stop in Pittsburgh – mostly because it was about the amount of time we wanted to be on the road and also because we found a decent pet friendly hotel there. Despite the very confusing signs that you couldn’t see we managed to arrive at Station Square in Pittsburgh about midnight eastern time. While we were impressed by Pittsburgh and maybe would have wanted to spend more time exploring the city than just what we drove past, the next morning we had another five hour drive to Sesame Street Place and we wanted to be sure to have enough time at the park that day so we were up and off early.

Austen did great in the car on Friday and most of Saturday even letting us know when he had to go to the bathroom so we could pull over and he could pee on the side of the road (a definite advantage of having a boy) when we couldn’t make it until the next rest stop. But his impressive behavior was marred when he refused to take a nap. Knowing this was going to be a very long day for him, I was adamant in my request that he lie back and go to sleep. This was met by about a 45-minute temper tantrum where he tried to extract himself from his car seat. Needless to say about 30 minutes prior to our arrival at Sesame Street Place, he fell asleep.

As well rested as could be, and after we checked Adler into our hotel (where she was grateful for more than her 5x5 space, we headed over to see Elmo. Austen liked the amusement rides but what he really loved were the water rides. Now keep in mind, Sesame Street Place is catered to those under 5 so he could go on almost every ride. He did a tube slide and went down a big water slide on a raft for 8 people (with a life jacket on both times). He also loved the water play area where he could go down the slides you’d find at the playground and careen into the two feet of water at the bottom. He couldn’t stop laughing. He even liked when the big bucket of water was poured over everyone’s heads! I was amazed. We ended the evening with a live show featuring Elmo, Mr. Noodle and his goldfish Dorothy and before we could leave the park, Austen had to take his dad climbing through the rope course that was suspended high above the park. Talk about no fear.

I think Austen enjoyed himself. And, while he was a trooper, I would be remiss if I did not mention Adler. Perfect, perfect dog that she is – rode beautifully the whole way, adapted to two hotel rooms and did whatever we asked of her. She’s so easy. If only raising kids could be as easy!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I am so proud of Adler. Back in February, I took her to the vet for her annual check up and Adler's doctor told me that she really needed to lose some weight. She was down about .2 pounds from the previous year but she still had a few more lbs. to lose. The doctor recommended replacing her canned green beans with frozen ones and giving her more of them and less of her dry food. In addition, the doctor recommended carrots. So since the end of February, Adler's been getting one cup of food supplemented by her vegetables twice a day.

I knew she was losing weight because I could now feel her ribs which is what you are supposed to feel on a healthy dog. Sure enough, Adler went for her heartworm test on Friday and we were able to weigh her. Adler is down to 75.6 lbs!! That's 6 lbs. less than in February when she was last weighed!

I was so proud of her I rewarded her with a few extra treats!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Teaching the Grandkids How to Hula Hoop

Remember when you were a kid and one of your favorite things to do was hula hoop? Well, it's one of those things that apparently is always in style so your kids will have hula hoops and you can teach them how to do it.

But, as Austen's grandparents found out, it's not like riding a bike. You can easily forget how to hula hoop as it's not so easy to shake those hips when you're older. I give my parents a lot of credit for trying to impress their grandchildren though and I give you guys a few minutes of laughter watching the two of them facing off in a "I know how to do it" hula hooping contest.

You vote for who you think did better!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Roadtrip to Our Future Summer Home

This weekend, after what seemed like 40 days and 40 nights of rain, we finally had some good weather. So good indeed that we decided to take a trip to our land in Michigan where someday we will build our future summer home.

The trip is only about 2 hours away from our home in Chicago so not too far for a day trip but far enough where the DVD player in the car comes in handy. We loaded Austen and Adler in and enjoyed the silence as Austen napped or watched Elmo and Adler looked out the window.

We bought our land about a year after we were married. We both agreed that a summer home was something that we wanted to be able to give our kids - memories of summer enjoying each other's company, bonfires, spending days on the beach and just a place for our family to relax and get away. And, when they are older and so are we, we thought it would be a place that they would want to come back to and spend time.

Now, unfortunately it's not in our near future to build our summer home but hopefully it's not too far in the future where we can't enjoy it when our kids our young. But, until then we'll just keep taking day trips up there and romping around on the beach - Austen delighting in his ability to throw rocks in the water and Adler smiling from ear to ear (yes, she can smile) as she runs full speed ahead down the beach and dives into the sand where she'll turn over and let it scratch her back.