Indiana Dunes State Park, Indiana (of course)

We took a break yesterday and while I shopped everyone else stayed home.

I'm pretty sure Hallie never moved unless forced by the need for food or because at some point during the day you have to relieve your bladder.

She was thrilled to hear that on Memorial Day weekend dogs are not allowed at the Dunes. Tasha was sad. She likes water, sand and the opportunity to fling, splash, make general chaos where ever my food or beverage might be. She's a pro. I was not sad to leave her behind.

When we got there, it looked like this:

Not really Shawn's cup of tea. But he is a trooper and helped set up "camp" by the water in the midst of these other thousands of people with the same idea. (Really glad we didn't bring the dogs!)

The water was a balmy 59*F today. The kids didn't care one bit!

Evan got right in, cooled off from our walk down the beach, and then set to work with his sand tools. :)

Kira dove right in and started swimming. She said it wasn't cold. (She was lying. I was standing in it up to my knees to take pictures of her) I would have changed and joined her in the water though had the storm not arrived to foil our plans. (yes really!)

Right about now is when they heard thunder and made the announcement that we had to get out of the water for at least 30 minutes. Great! We *just* got there! So I tried to make it happy and told them to come eat lunch and then by the time we were done we could go swim more.

(Have a little lunch with your sand there Evan)

Still no luck. So we had some Cheetos.

And the sky just kept getting darker...

Then the wind picked up and it got ugly. Shawn wanted to stay. Kira lost her ever loving mind. (She is terrified (as in phobic) of thunder) We threw everything together as quickly as we could and that wasn't fast enough for Kira. She was really upset and walking ahead of us. She kept turning around telling us to hurry.
The beach looked like this:

Then it looked like this:

And then like this:

Everyone headed home. It was pouring shortly after and it rained most of the way back to Chicago and through most of Chicago.

Kind of a bummer. When we got home Hallie stole the Cheetos. She felt slighted. (That we didn't get her a good snack, not that we left her behind. Lets not kid ourselves.)

But aren't they cute anyway? (Can you see Kira already looking worried! Poor girl!)

Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

So we decided to head out to this park for some hiking to kick off the official start of our three day weekend.

We loaded up the entire family, (Tasha and Hallie included) and left Loco home to hold down the bed er...fort for us. (He didn't seem to notice we were gone)

The place was jam packed, but we figured that where ever we went this weekend we would run into crowds so we tried to not let it bug us.

We sat down in the shade and had a picnic before we set off on our hike.

We didn't get to do the trails we had planned because Hallie refused. She really didn't like all the stairs and kept sitting down. You would have to tug on her leash to get her to go and it didn't matter to her old bones if it was up or down. I joked to one guy that I was sorry, it was like being stuck behind the little old lady in rush hour. He laughed and said that was ok, but maybe we should get her a handicap sticker for her butt! :)

She just was not impressed with our efforts to include them. She is a house dog.

French Canyon

Hallie decided this was a good spot to rest. Some other people thought she was funny and took her picture too. Silly old dog. She had a good rest. It was hot too, 91 with humidity. So we were a little jealous.

Evan thought this crooked bench was hilarious. 

Kira's "help" lasted all of three minutes before she asked her dad to carry the backpack. ;)

Nice huh? It was *everywhere*.  We all managed to avoid touching it even though it was jutting out all over the place.

The top of Starved Rock.
We thought it was a rather odd view...

Kicking off the three day weekend!

Joyce and Ron are our next door neighbors and they are just so dang nice!

They invited us over for dinner the other night and Sue and Stuart from across the street joined us.They are here on assignment with HSBC for a two year contract from England. Kind of funny how small the world can be.

 We had Salmon, corn on the cob, chicken, potatoes, asparagus, salad and for dessert we had strawberry shortcake with fresh strawberries!

Hello Summer!

Joyce and Ron have grandkids that visit often so our kids were very entertained with all the "new" toys. We had a really nice evening and lost track of the time. It was nearly nine before we got home and started bedtime. :)

We will miss them lots!

Ron, Sue and Stuart.

Kira getting some loves from her daddy.

Joyce and Ron let Evan bring the legos outside. He was thrilled.

Stuart played some ball with Kira.

Joyce cooking the salmon. She had three marinades and even though I'm not a fan of fish, I tried all three.
Maybe I'm growing up because I actually enjoyed the fish. We brought home leftovers. It was good. Evan didn't care for it, but Kira devours fish, and I'm pretty sure she is going to be really happy when we add it to our menu rotation. She loves the stuff.

Joyce also gardens and the yard is just gorgeous.

Teacher Appreciation Gift idea.

Every year I try to do something fun for the summer for the teachers that put up with my kiddos all year. :) (Though the teachers seem to get the very best out of my two and they save up the yuck stuff for home, lucky me!)

This year I picked up two soft sided coolers at Target and then used the colors for my theme. I picked up beach towels in the pink and green, added a magazine and a water bottle and then used the cooler as a gift basket. Hopefully stuff they can use over the break, that won't be too much "clutter" in their lives.

I also had the kids write a letter and make a card to include for their teacher. I'm planning on writing a letter myself, but I'm going to send an email and copy it to the principal as well at the superintendent, I was *that* happy with both the kids teachers this year. They were fantastic!

I also picked up a little something fun for the secretary this year. Last year I did something more for the office staff, but I knew them all and they helped me a ton with PTA. I only really got to know Mrs. B and she was forever patient with me about registration, questions and super helpful whenever I needed anything.

So since people are looking for ideas (this is how I get many of mine) I thought I would share some pics so others can use them too.

I just tucked this gift in a little black gift bag with white polka dots with hot pink paper. Looks really cute! 

If you have any great teacher gift ideas, please link your blog here and we can share ideas and steal ideas! ;) 

My new Do.

I got my hair cut, and actually remembered to take some pictures of myself.

The only problem with my plan is my inability to take a decent self portrait. I also couldn't find my tri-pod. For either camera.


So here is me in the mirror, trying not to laugh at myself.

I tried. So what do you think? I got long bangs cut this time. I think I like them! 

Evan's end of the year Kindergarten Presentation!

This by far was the best Kindergarten production I've been too. (And I've been to several.)

What I loved about this was that for starters it wasn't a "graduation". I hate those. I don't really even find them cute when my own kids are participating. We had Kira's for kinder and Evan's for pre-school. I'm just not amused by them and think they are a little on the silly side.

This was fun. It wasn't fancy. The kids didn't have to dress up or be formal. They did a concert for the parents and then we went back to the classrooms for a sweet slideshow set to music and snacks.

I really enjoyed that.

My favorite was when they sang along to "What a Wonderful World". Each child had made a poster that went along with the song. Evan's was "I see friends holding hands". So adorable. When their part came up they put up their sign.

Then at the end we got to see them all together:

They also sang two songs about love, "Love in any Language" and another I'm not sure about the name, but they did sign language for that one.

They also did another adorable song and I need to ask his teacher what song it was! I loved it.

I volunteered every Wednesday in Evan's class, and I'm really sad to see the year end. Especially knowing I won't see these kids again, and they are a great group of kids. I'll miss them for sure!

Evan with George, J, and Ms. W.