Tag Archives: twins

Happy Birthday, Stephen and Avian!

To commemorate Stephen and Avian’s 12th birthday, I thought I’d recall their entrance into the world, while I still remember the details so vividly. Not that I expect to forget any time soon.

Finding Out

Our first ultrasound, Jon asked Dr. Coll (who had twins herself) nervously, “so, um we would know if there was more than one baby, right??” She said “oh yes, there is just one heartbeat, see it right there?”

Turns out, one of them was hiding. The good news was, we’d had some time to embrace the initial surprise of being pregnant, so by the time we found out there were two, everyone we told just laughed. “Of course you are! Twins!”


When we found out their genders, Stephen (Twin A) was named in honor of Jon’s younger brother, Stephen, who had died at 18-years young. As for Twin B, our girl, we’d been tossing around names, when my sister Lynette’s friend Mark came to town. Mark studies birds, and kept saying “Avian” -this and “Avian”- that. I loved it, and hoped the Avian Flu wouldn’t become too much of a thing.


I’d been on bed rest since July 25, which meant I had a lot of time to worry, eat, read, and lay out on the deck in my bikini (at 175 pounds and growing every day).

My only “field trips” from bed were to see the multiples specialist in Reno, where she’d do a 3-d ultrasound and check on the babies. After one Dr. visit, we went to Macy’s (totally against the rules, but I “needed” something). I was excited to go out in public, and actually wear some of the cute (I thought) maternity clothes, and put on makeup and make my hair look nice. I thought I looked “pretty”.

The young woman behind the counter saw me and exclaimed, “oh my goodness – you look like you’re going to EXPLODE!” She continued on, laughing at me. I tearfully left Macy’s, without buying anything. I went out to the car, told Jon the story, and he marched back in to find her manager. He came back out with a complimentary purse and makeup kit. Hopefully, that clerk never made fun of a fat pregnant woman again.

For my birthday, I got a double jogging stroller – I spent hours staring at it.


The Big Day

After months of bed rest, the Specialist in Reno decided it was time for Stephen and Avian to come out. I was secretly hoping for a c-section, that just sounded so much more pleasant, but our team of Truckee Dr.’s (Taylor-Thompson-Coll)  were confident that we would be ok, and scheduled the labor to be induced on the morning of September 26, 2005, one day shy of 37 weeks. The day before, I ventured out for a 3-mile hike, after months of doing NOTHING. I was sure the babies would come flying out, but, no.

Heading to the hospital, Sept 26, 2005

Jon and I met our good friend Sheila at Tahoe Forest Hospital in Truckee. Sheila had two kids of her own, but didn’t have the best birth experiences (I think she nearly died), so she wanted to see a birth when everything went well (fingers crossed).

After taking the drugs to induce labor, I wanted to see how long I could last without the epidural. Turns out, not long at all (Huge kudos to all you tough women who did it without the pain relievers). Before I got it, I was barely able to breathe through the pain, and got seething mad at Jon for turning on the tv (cnn at this moment – seriously!?). After the epidural though, I was in heaven – childbirth is easy! This is fun! Bring out the babies!

Sheila went shopping and bought Stephen and Avian the sweetest little clothes to wear home from the hospital. The hospital room was fairly quiet throughout the day as we waited.  But when the time came to push, the room quickly filled with nurses and multiple doctors, just in case there was a problem.

Our boy, Stephen Patrick, was born at 5:58 p.m. Dr. Taylor told me “Wait!”

Four minutes later, at 6:02 p.m., Avian Rose was born.

Stephen (5 pounds) and Avian (4 pounds, 3 ounces)

We were instantly in love with these tiny creatures.


The babies were cleaned up and friends arrived to celebrate.  We had Chinese food right there in the delivery room. After a couple hours, I asked a nurse if it was ok to get up – no one had realized I’d been sitting there since the delivery. It was pretty gross.

While in the shower (epidural wearing off, now everything is hurting, birthing is actually hard…), a nurse came in and told me Stephen had jaundice and would need to get under the lights asap –  that worry and anxiety leading up to the birth came rushing right back.

Avian’s weigh-in

Hospital life

The next few days, while waiting for Stephen’s jaundice to clear up, we enjoyed being in the hospital and having nurses to call for help whenever we couldn’t figure something out, or whenever we needed to sleep, they magically whisked away the babies and we could rest. I think we were both pretty terrified at the thoughts of “how in the hell are we going to manage this at home without two full-time nurses helping us?”

Jon and the kids
Burrito babies. Avian on the left.
Avian: Hey, where did my brother go?
Avian visiting Stephen, who had to stay under the lights for a few days
Marveling at the tiny feet

The staff at Tahoe Forest Hospital was amazing, we had a huge room with two beds all to ourselves, they served us delicious food including a special king-crab leg dinner (and friends brought us some pretty amazing food from favorite restaurants around town). We were very lucky that the maternity ward was so quiet and we were taken care of so well.

I asked the doctor, “when can I start running again?” He laughed and said, “Right now, if you feel like it!”

I tried, starting out with a walk, and it HURT. Running would have to wait a bit.

Brinn and her daughter Sophia, with me and Avian

My mom (aka Grandma Rosie) arrived at the hospital to help with her first grandchildren. She was a lifesaver.

Stephen and Avian had their photos taken for the baby wall, so we dressed them up in the new outfits from Sheila.


Stephen and Avian

After five days, it was time to go home. Fortunately, we wouldn’t be leaving alone, my mom would stay with us for a couple weeks to help.

First car ride, 5 days old. We were terrified.
My mom, Grandma Rosie, expertly juggling her grandbabies
First walk with Stephen and Avian, in front of their first house in Squaw

Life with two babies

I won’t pretend it was easy and blissful and happy – it was full-blown triage.  The evenings were the worst- the babies (both of them!) would start crying around 4pm and wouldn’t stop for hours and hours. We spent so many nights walking around the house carrying them, trying to console. Breast-feeding was a nightmare and near-impossible when I was alone- I couldn’t just leave one poor baby screaming while feeding the other – I spent hours in bed with them, crying often, trying to survive. We tried desperately to get them on the same feeding and sleeping schedule but failed miserably.  Oh wait, back to the happy birthing story…

Cousin Katie with Avian. Katie lived in Truckee at the time and came over to help me when Jon had to work.

Jon’s parents came out from Massachusetts to meet their grandchildren a few weeks later. We met them at the airport, along with Cousin Katie. Grandma Bev and Grandpa Bill fell in love with them instantly. They moved here and helped take care of them – for which we are forever grateful.

Grandpa Bill and Stephen, Grandma Bev and Avian
Stephen spent a lot of time like this with Grandpa Bill.

Twinning is winning

There’s nothing easy about raising twins, I post a lot of pictures of the happy times, but we struggle.  A lot. But 2x the trouble means 2x the love – and having Stephen and Avian come into my life has been the best thing that’s happened to me.

Happy birthday, Stephen and Avian. I love you both so much.

Avian and Stephen on a recent road trip

Afternoon at Wild Island

The last week of summer vacation… The reality hit hard this morning, and I decided we needed to Do Something Fun today. I called Jp and we settled on getting out of work early to take the kids to Wild Island, a water park just east of Reno.


The park was only open from 3:30-7, and there were hardly any people -it was in the high 80s, no lines- perfect conditions.


The last time I took the kids there, 2 years back, they were too young to go on any rides aside from the kiddie pool features. I had personally never been on water slides before, so this was new for the three of us. Fortunately Jp was an experienced professional and was able to take the mostly fearless SB and AB on whatever they desired.

Our first ride was a thrilling long slide that we raced down side by side, head first. From there, we decided this half-pipe looking thing looked like fun. We all climbed up the many flights of stairs to the platform, and avian immediately decided this was not for her. She walked back down but I felt like I had to do it if Stephen and JP could do it.

I had no idea what I was getting into, as you cannot see over the ledge from the platform. As soon as I got pushed in the tube over the ledge, I tensed up and thought “big mistake, huge mistake, gonna die, what was I thinking“…

Fully expecting to either (a) get thrown from the inner-tube and break a bone or several bones or (b) fly off the side of the half pipe and plummet to my death.

Instead, (a) my swimsuit bottom got pulled completely down, with my bare butt sticking out through the tube and (b) I received terrible whiplash from throwing my head around with each swing (couldn’t keep my chin to my chest as they had advised- something to do with g-forces).

After I finally came to a stop and dragged myself out of the water, JP pulled up my suit bottoms and led me away to help me calm down. I was starting to cry, I couldn’t stop shaking and my head and neck felt like something was seriously damaged. He helped me breathe through it though and low and behold, after three laps on the lazy river with the kids I was back at it and went on every ride (except two) and it was the Best Day Ever. Each time I got to the top of something (I’m terrified of heights) I told myself “this is for the kids”.








running with ghosts and swimming with seals

After having the worst day of my adult life yesterday, and waking up to more complications this morning, I found myself repeating expletives in my head as I drove my son to his 3 hour soccer camp.  After I got the kids checked in, I checked out, and hit the back road to Martis Valley.

IMG_0417[1]I forgot how fast I can run when fueled by anger.

looking west towards the dam from the trail
I climbed the trail up towards The Strand (Glenshire), crested the top, and then turned back towards Waddle Ranch instead. The Strand trail had a lot of loose rock and wasn’t very friendly towards my sprained ankle from last week.

I met Matt Rusanoff, whom the trail is dedicated to, the first year I moved to Truckee, while working on the program for the Truckee Follies. Matt was an extraordinary guy, always the life of our Follie’s program planning parties.

He was extremely passionate about the trails around Truckee, and I often think of him while getting lost in my head on a run.
At the top of Matt’s trail is Katy’s Walk, dedicated to Katie Morrison, another friend who left us (with her 2 small children) tragically early. Katie was equally passionate about the trails, and particularly about running. No matter how busy she was, or how much she had going on, she always made me feel like my life was fascinating and important to her.


I thought about the problems I am having with my kids and wondered how Katie, who appeared to be a Supermom, would have handled the situation. Her kids were a bit high-energy (like mine), but they treated her with total respect. I suspect she did not put up with anything less. As I left Katy’s Walk, I thought about how fortunate I am to have my kids, and I made a pact to be a better mom. Life is fleeting.
On the way back,  running down a dirt road, things looked different. I couldn’t be late getting back to the field, as I had a coach’s training (really important since I’ve never played soccer and know nothing about it), so I trusted my instinct and cut across the woods, in the direction I thought Matt’s trail should be.

my last view of Martis Valley while crossing the dam

It took a leap of faith, but I found my way, silently whooping at the sight of the trail, and ran hard back to the field.

After soccer, I took the kids to the pool for a few hours to keep their energy expelling program going strong. We had a blast, and I think we will have a much needed peaceful evening together.

Stephen and Avian, playing “Seal Show” for me in the pool

July 4th weekend

July 4th weekend, we went camping on Donner Summit. JP’s sister and her boyfriend own 300+ acres on the Yuba River, so we headed up there for a couple days. It was nice to go “on vacation” only 25 minutes from home.

our campsite for the night
our campsite for the night

The Yuba River was perfect for fishing, swimming, and doing long “water hikes”.

Stephen fishing and catching crawdads (which he later steamed for dinner)
Stephen fishing and catching crawdads (which he later steamed for dinner)

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Stephen and Avian each found real arrowheads while hiking in the granite.

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Gerard taught the kids how to drive a tractor.

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Avian thinks heavy equipment is great fun
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Stephen and Gerard


Avian and JP ready to fish
Avian and JP ready to fish


Stephen having fun by the river
Stephen having fun by the river
Avian hiking to the moon
Avian hiking to the moon

We had a blast camping, and the next day, I met Stephen and Avian at the Tahoe Donner Marina after work and we fished until almost dark.

Stephen pulling a hook out of his shorts
Stephen pulling a hook out of his shorts
Me and Avian on the dock
Me and Avian on the dock
Fishing into the sunset
Fishing into the sunset

On Tuesday, I got Stephen in to see my podiatrist as his foot was looking worse. The good news is, the doctor was able to clean out the infection, the bad news is, it is MRSA and he is on crutches for 3-4 weeks with no swimming.

Poor SB.
Poor SB.

Fortunately Stephen is a trooper and learned to use the crutches quickly.

Stephen hanging out at work with me
Stephen hanging out at work with me

We had a few playdates to take his mind off of all the things he COULDN’T do anymore…

Stephen ready for a night of fishing with Jake
Stephen ready for a night of fishing with Jake
Jake fishing under a full moon
Jake fishing under a full moon
Stephen and Jake showing off their loot
Stephen and Jake showing off their loot

Thanksgiving in Oregon

Thanksgiving 2013, the kids and I drove up to Prineville, Oregon, to visit my brother Marcel, sister-in-law Anne, and nieces Louisiane and Lily Rose.

sunset in LA Pine
sunset in LA Pine

We spent about 5 days with them, and although Stephen and Avian were out of school, they had a LOT of independent study work to do (which turns out to NOT be independent work at all).

Stephen and Avian trying to do their homework
Stephen and Avian trying to do their homework

The girls were very into ballet and teaching each other moves from the Nutcracker.

Lily, Avian, LouLou
Lily, Avian, LouLou
Lily Rose.
Lily Rose.
Avian as ballerina
Avian as ballerina

Stephen and Avian were also very into fighting over Lily Rose’s attention.
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We went to Smith Rock for an afternoon, and hiked until sunset.

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Avian on the bridge
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Louisiane in a little cave
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SB and Louisiane
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Marcel and Lily, Anne, and Louisiane

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LouLou and Avian

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Marcel took us out into the woods to build a fire and show us how smokejumpers cook elk meat.

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The kids were initially disgusted (as was Anne and I) with the pieces of meat thrown straight into the ashes, but the kids had fun roasting their pieces on sticks instead,

Smoke gets in your eyes
Smoke gets in your eyes
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Marcel cutting up the steaks

…and everyone loved the finished product.

We also had to roast the obligatory marshmellow

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And had a very nice hike on a nearby trail.

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LouLou leading the way
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Avian and LouLou
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That night, we went to visit one of their friend’s farm, and got to visit with the animals as the sun set over the fields.
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We got to visit LouLou’s school, and Marcel taught Stephen the art of hypnotizing chickens.
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Stephen building a new chicken coop at LouLou's school
Stephen building a new chicken coop at LouLou’s school

On Thanksgiving, we went to Bend for a hike along the Deschuttes River in a park downtown.

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We spent Thanksgiving afternoon at Marcel and Anne’s friends’ house in LA Pine, before getting on the road for a long night of driving.

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Shirley Lake Hike with SB and AB

5.6 miles, 1,399 ft gain.8.18.13 a. we're not stopping until we get to the lake

With Stephen and Avian, my 7 year old twins.
The pace was extremely leisurely; my main goal was to get them out for a hike without them thinking they were on a hike. We spent most of the way up the climb playing in the creek and little water holes, and I really didn’t think we would be out there for more than a couple miles.

8.18.13 thumbs up  on the climb up to Shirley

They took me completely by surprise though, and were extremely determined to make it to Shirley Lake. I offered a couple of times to cut the hike short, as it was further than I expected and I had nearly run out of water, not even to the top yet, but they were very stubborn.

“We came here to swim, Mom, we’re not turning back until we swim in Shirley Lake”. You should have seen their faces when they discovered Shirley Lake was actually “Shirley Swamp”, as they refer to it now.8.18.13 b. shirley swamp

We hung out by the swampy pond while they got their energy back, when suddenly, the smoke rolled in THICK over the top of Granite Chief. The other hikers who were hanging out around the lake all immediately packed up and started heading down.

Avian in the smoke
Avian in the smoke

8.18.13 c. thumbs down for smoke

Being the worrywart that I am, I panicked, tried not to scare the kids, but told them that we should probably run as much as we could on the way down.

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pausing for a break on the run down

They were all about it, and we made it down in about ¼ the time it took to get up to that lake.This was fortunate as I was officially out of water by the time we got about ¾ down (great planning Mom). It turns out the smoke was from an existing fire, and Granite Chief Wilderness was NOT on fire, as I had been thinking on the run down.

8.18.13 d. cooling off after running down shirley in the smokeThis day was one of the highlights of my year as it was the first time my kids have ever wanted to go further than I did on a hike. And they loved running down it, saying they were “ultrarunners”.

Milwaukee to Truckee on Amtrak – the return trip

After 8 wonderful days with family in Michigan, Stephen, Avian and I headed to Milwaukee with my mom and Aunt Margaret to begin our 48 hour journey back to California.

Aunt Margaret provided entertainment on the 4-hour drive to our hotel, and brilliantly taught AB and SB how to crochet chains out of yarn (hours and hours of fun for the train).

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Stephen, Aunt Margaret, and Avian and a whole lot of yarn

We stayed in downtown Milwaukee and had a nice evening walking around by the river.

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Aunt Margaret, Avian, Stephen, and my Mom


The next morning, I was lucky enough to get in a 13 mile run before we headed to the train station. My route took me along the river

running/walking path along the river in Milwaukee
running/walking path along the river in Milwaukee



to a beautiful park on Lake Michigan.

lighthouse on Lake Michigan
lighthouse on Lake Michigan

We arrived at the train station and said our goodbyes to Aunt Margaret and Grandma Rosie.

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On the trip out, we had been able to upgrade to a larger sleeper room, but this time, none were available. I was somewhat nervous about staying in a little room together, but I told the kids it was our only option and we had to make it work. The first leg, from Milwaukee to Chicago, went off without a hitch, aside from a good cry fest by all three of us, as we pulled away from the train station and Grandma Rosie.

Milwaukee to Chicago via train
Milwaukee to Chicago via train

The train ride home was worlds better than the way out. We spent many hours crocheting,

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playing games, reading – doing all the things I had envisioned before the start of the vacation.

pounding hot chocolate in pajamas
pounding hot chocolate in pajamas

Stephen and Avian were able to share the little bunk bed without any major fights,

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bedtime on Amtrak

And the scenery was spectacular.

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scenes from the Zephyr
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Avian in her new hat, crocheted on the train
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Avian took this shot of the front of the train

I instilled a new fitness program during the return trip, every time we were able to get off the train, the kids and I would walk the platform at least once. If they didn’t want to walk that far they could do pushups and jumping jacks.

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How to stay sane on a train trip

In Denver, Stephen ran about 1 mile with me.

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SB running down back to the train

It was a trip we will always remember.

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Truckee to Chicago via California Zephyr

As a child, my family always traveled on Amtrak for our big trips. I have countless fond memories from these vacations, and many of the most vivid were from the experiences of train travel itself.

Here are a couple pictures I drew as a kid during these trips:2013-08-03 12.02.31 2013-08-03 12.01.50

This time, I decided to take my 7 year old twins to Michigan on Amtrak.

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waiting for the Zephyr


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at the Truckee Train Station

Our town of Truckee is right on the route for the California Zephyr, which runs from Chicago to San Francisco/Emeryville. We were picked up on a Friday afternoon, and would be on the train for over 40 hours, until we switched lines in Chicago, and ultimately ended in Milwaukee where my parents would drive us the rest of the 4 hours to Michigan.

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here it comes!

I envisioned a very memorable bonding experience between the three of us, drawing pictures, playing games, watching the countryside go by, meeting people, and overall, enjoying the most leisurely form of traveling together.

My kids, however, reminded me that they were kids, with too much energy to sit in a 2-seat sleeper car together,

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and no interest in hanging out in the lounge car, and too rambunctious for the dining car…

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and by the end of the first day I was calling my mom in tears telling her I was ready to bail on this nightmare in Denver and fly the rest of the way.
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Fortunately, for us, and for the other passengers in the surrounding little compartments, by the 2nd afternoon we were able to upgrade to a larger room and everyone’s attitudes turned around.
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We loved traveling along the Colorado River, through many tunnels, a couple rainstorms, and had a nice little stop in Glenwood Springs.

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the Colorado River
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cottonball cloud formation over the Colorado River
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the gorgeous depot in Glenwood Springs, Colorado
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on a quick stop in Glenwood Springs
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Isaac and Stephen and Avian in Glenwood Springs
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red rocks of Colorado

Sunday morning, while eating breakfast in the dining car, we crossed the Mississippi River.

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Every so often, we could hear something that sounded like angels softly singing, but couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. Finally, we realized it was coming from the lounge car, so we brought our board games and books in to listen to the Amish women singing hymns, and watch the cornfields go by.

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Stephen being serenaded by the Amish

Sunday afternoon we rolled into Chicago, got off the train, and had a few hours to kill before the train for Milwaukee was to depart.

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I took the kids for a short walk, expecting them to be REALLY excited to be in a “big city”.

Stephen, however, after walking 2 blocks, turned around, looked off in the distance, and quietly proclaimed,

“I hate big cities. they’re crowded, there’s garbage everywhere, and it smells bad”

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Stephen, grossly unimpressed with Chicago.

Fortunately, the last leg of our trip went relatively quickly and we were soon in Milwaukee meeting my parents. Although that first night was extremely challenging, all things considered I am happy we took the train and I have a feeling the kids will always remember it.

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