Monday, July 18, 2011

Fun with the Maaloufs!

My sister Karen visits the states from Lebanon every summer for a month or so and we usually get to catch her for a couple weekends.  This year, however, she flew through Chicago and stayed here for almost a week.  Then, my dad came up to spend the weekend and drove them all back to the farm.  We had so much fun with them!

Anna is 7 years old now and Thomas is 9.  Anna was super helpful with Elliot (ehem, that's code for almost smothering him!) and unfortunately, he responded with too much pushing and biting, even when she wasn't trying to hug or carry him.  Really, though, she was a nice set of hands to have around.  Thomas helped a ton, too.  Maybe it was boy-bonding, but Thomas tended to clue into Elliot's "space" more and thus was well-liked.  Anna took it in stride and I think everyone is excited to get back together in a few weeks when the entire family will be at the farm-- all 9 cousins to play together!

We got really used to having them here and it was sad to see them leave on Sunday.  Karen kept us fed well and easily worked around Elliot's naps, etc.  We were able to do the city on the cheap with free passes to places and getting lucky with other free options like storytime at the library and an art session at a local museum one afternoon. 

We have an awesome local pool that we just got around to checking out (free!).  Very specific hours for family swim, but that keeps it organized and not a rowdy day-care-drop-off situation.  It has a huge water slide... this is them waiting in line for the slide.  The evening was a little chilly, so there were lots of shivers.
Everyone (except the stick-in-the-muds-moms) went down the slide more than once.  Elliot goes down with dad, and just has to be lifted up upon entering the water.  It's a 3 ft pool with a lifeguard right at the bottom, offering a helping hand.

Dinner on the deck.
They snagged the pass from the library to the Planetarium (it's slim pickings in the summer but this wasn't a bad one to get stuck with!).
Getting to try on NASA gear.
Karen had a work meeting on Friday night.  We took the kids for a quick play time at the park... but they played so beautifully together, making this sand city, that we stayed for a good long while.  I am sure the neighbors were thinking, "What kind of parents have their kids at the park at 9:15p?!"  Elliot came home all bug-bitten.
Grandpa made it up for the weekend before driving back with the crew.  Grandma was out of town, so we convinced him to make the drive on his own and stay for a night instead of meeting half-way for the swap. 
Since we didn't pay for anything all week, Karen treated us to a boat ride downtown.  The kids just loved it.  Just a short taxi ride, then we took a break at Navy Pier.
Elliot loved looking over the side.
"Land Ho!"  ??
We were headed to Millennium Park for the fountains, but found this one first at Navy Pier and couldn't stand to not get in when it was 95 degrees out.  They had a ball and remained drenched for the rest of the afternoon... no one seemed to mind.  Then we caught a pirate song-and-dance show inside (free too!) on a lark, took a break in the AC, and then headed back out.

By the time we got to Millennium Park, everyone was just about melted down.  Grandpa and I headed home with Elliot while Pat and the crew stayed behind to catch the train home, just to have a train ride added to the vacation events.  What a full week-- we had a blast!!

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