Monday, September 1, 2014

Gone east

The Westbounds have gone back to the Middle East. Follow our adventures in Lebanon here.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Field trip: Chicago!

To kick off our new school year, we went on a trip to Chicago this past week, to visit some museums and other sites.

 Museum of Science and Industry - This really is an amazing place, where we managed to spend 6 1/2 hours our first day! Not only are the exhibitions really cool, but there are several cool shows and interactive fun for the kids to participate in. I felt like we really got our money's worth here.

The Field Museum - We spent half a day here, and although there were a couple of really nice exhibitions, part of the museum is quite outdated (plants, anyone?) - it was so expensive for our family to enter that we ended up getting a one year membership because it saved us almost $30 (and more if we had planned to see any of the special exhibitions). If I had know what we would get for our money seeing that our budget is really tight, I would probably not have included this museum in our itinerary.

The Planetarium - This place is in a very beautiful spot, and although very expensive (more expensive than any of our other visits), I felt there was enough there to make it worth our time and money. The children's area especially was great, and I enjoyed the show on Cosmos.

The Art Institute of Chicago - There is an amazing amount of art here, and although adult tickets are quite pricey, children under the age of 14 are free, which made this our cheapest visit. The exhibitions are unique and amazing, as you imagine, and although I don't have very much experience with Modern Art, this part stood out. The only disappointment here was that there was no tolerance or understanding when it came to our baby. Max is very happy on my back in our baby carrier, while if I put him in the front, he wants to nurse or get down or just fuss, and eventually he'll start screaming uncontrollably. I explained this to the personnel who insisted I put Max in the front, but there was no sympathy, so sadly, a large part of the visit was spent with Max screaming in my face. At some point it got so bad that I dropped down on a bench to nurse him, right there (it was off to a corner) in an attempt to soothe him, and immediately I heard negative comments about my "improper behavior." A frustrating experience. And no, there was no nursing room, as in the Field Museum.

Dinner at the Berghoff - This restaurant opened in 1898 and was the first restaurant to receive a liquor license after the Prohibition in 1933 (I think), which means theirs is Liquor License no. 1. Very good German inspired food, home brewed beer and fancy halls.

The Magnificent Mile - A long, sore walk but some very fantastic views of Downtown Chicago. I imagine this street is quite magic during Christmas time.

Monday, July 21, 2014

One month left in the US

In exactly 1 month we go back to Lebanon. I can't believe how fast our year here in the US has flown by.

While trying to get as much time with family in as possible, we are starting to prepare by collecting things we want to bring back with us; mainly books and some clothes. All the boys need new clothes, having grown one or two sizes, or in the baby's case, seven sizes, since we got to the US, and since clothes are a lot cheaper here than in Lebanon, we make sure we're covered.

We need books for the boys' homeschooling programs, and we are making sure that any electronics that needs to be replaced is purchased, since this too, is cheaper here.

If you like shopping, this might sound like Christmas to you. (Oh yeah, we're also getting a couple of Christmas presents that will be hidden away when we get to Lebanon.) If you're like me, and detest shopping, you feel my pain! But it has to be done. Because there are things we cannot get in Lebanon, and there are things that make financially more sense to buy here.

I'm also having an insane amount of bacon, trying to eat the equivalent of a two year quota, since that too is hard to come by in Beirut (although not impossible; it's expensive but available at Spinney's, usually).

Other things that we spend the summer doing in Indiana...

It's not all fun & games - I've spend quite a bit of time this summer working, and the boys are taking the Khan Academy Geometry course. Intense learning. In between jobs however, we go out and explore a bit; playgrounds, lakes, sites. Most recently we went to Mishawaka/South Bend, where we spent some time at the batting cages and then the boys all went on go-karts. They loved it!

The last picture is taken at Meijer (with my very awful Virgin Mobile Kyocera phone), where a horsie ride by the check-out costs 1 cent. Great times to be had here!

Freedom to run and jump and play!

Batting cages just north of South Bend (they are actually in Michigan and not Indiana, if you're keeping score)


@ Meijer in Warsaw

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fireworks of July!

Fireworks over Winona Lake in Warsaw on 4 July, and fireworks on Lake Wawasee with our friend on his uncle's boat on 5 July. In between, we shot off a bunch of fireworks around the house that we bought at Crazy Joe's Fireworks out on 30, past Atwood.

Safe at sea!

Happy Fireworks Day!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

When friends visit

The last couple of days of June and the first few days of July brought a very special surprise this year: our very good friends in Boston that we visited on our way from Lebanon to Indiana/Atlanta last summer, decided to drive the 16 hours to come see us before we return to the Middle East in August. We spent the week chatting, hanging out with the kids, eating, drinking tea and exploring some of the local sites: we went to the children's zoo one day, and Kreager Park in Fort Wayne another, which is free and has an excellent playground and a very fun splash pad. We had Mexican food, and spent a day by the lake here in Warsaw. The week rushed by so quickly, and I feel like it was over even before it started, but it was nice to get a few more moments with our good friends, especially since we don't know when we'll be back in the US/see each other again.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Midsummer Eve, 2014

We spent this special Swedish holiday with a friend in a cabin by a pond, in the middle of the woods in southern Indiana. No running water, no electricity, no internet and barely phone coverage. The bathroom consisted of a shovel and a short walk into the woods, meals were cooked over an open fire, and when it got dark, it was *DARK* as in, thousands of fireflies against a pitch dark forest and an open sky, with more constellations than I could count. Absolutely gorgeous! Such bliss!