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Kristi Gilbert: Aloha, Summer in the Suburbs!

We kicked off the summer with a luau party in our backyard and I'm looking forward to long days at the local pools before Ava starts preschool in the fall.

Summer has officially begun! The pools are open, the weather is scorching, and the ice-cold beer tastes that much better! It’s nice to see you again, sun!

Ken and I decided to kick off Summer 2012 by co-hosting a super-fun party for our local friends. Me and three of my girlfriends threw an all-out luau bash in my backyard this weekend, and were surrounded by more than 70 of our closest friends. Talk about a great time!

On Thursday we had a 20 x 30 tent delivered to my backyard, complete with gorgeous colored linens for the tables. As for the lighting, we were inspired by —beautiful, colored hanging lanterns—and we executed them beautifully!

To complete the ambience, we had more than 60 tiki torches surrounding the tent and perimeter of the property. The girls and I decided to take on the food ourselves to save money and we whipped up bacon-wrapped pineapple bites, Hawaiian pulled pork sandwiches, coconut shrimp with mango salsa, and sweet and sour meatballs—all of which were completely devoured by our hip-shaking friends. The guests sipped on our signature cocktail, “Bompy’s Punch,” and paraded the lawn in their fresh-flower leis we had flown in from Hawaii.

Yes, I just said that. Who needs a party planner?

And no party is complete without the entertainment, right? We had Hawaiian performers from Aloha Chicago perform an authentic luau performance, complete with hula dancers and a fire performer. They also provided us our evening DJ, playing Hawaiian-esque music to set the scene. I felt like I was in Maui all over again!

Not only did our friends have fun, but our neighbors thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Thankfully they had all left before the “Bompy’s Punch” got the better of a few of our guests. I’ll spare you the details—and spare those few guests the embarrassment. (They know who they are.)

Now that the party is over, though, it’s back to reality. But that’s not such a bad thing. Summer is here and we’ve got our bags packed with sunscreen, dry diapers, and my copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. Let’s roll!

Which reminds me, I’m far behind on my need to enroll Ava in her summer classes. Last year, we went through the and participated in their music and art classes. This year is a bit more difficult to decide; most classes require your child to be at least 3 years old, which won’t happen until late summer. So we’re looking at potentially repeating the same classes we did last year.

I might skip the classes altogether in favor of hanging by the pool, though. We love going to the pool, and trust me. We have a wide variety to pick from: the Pool in Burr Ridge, the Hinsdale Pool and the Lions Park Pool.

The pool is entertainment enough if you ask me, especially since I spent a chunk of Ava’s college savings to buy our $365 pass! Did I break a window?

We purchased the pass that allows us to go to both the Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills Pools, which is great because I love each for different reasons. 

is great for the little ones and it’s small enough to keep an eye on two kids at once. Did you know about ? It’s super cute and the kiddos love it! Thumbs up to the Clarendon Hills Park District for the upgrade!

And I can't forget to mention the pool at in , which is included in my monthly membership! Ava loves it there, especially days where she gets to play in the childcare center AND hit the pool. She always tends to nap extra long on those days.

We sometimes like to hit up the pool at Life Time during the weekend because it's a larger pool, and I have Ken to help me keep an eye on her (meaning play with her while I work on my tan with little Jack in the zero-depth area.)

I also happened to discover Cypress Cove in Bolingbrook while running an errand to IKEA last week. How neat is that place? It looks so fun, and might provide some inspiration for Ava's upcoming birthday parties. Or better yet, a kick-butt idea to take the kids (with my friends and their kids) during the week. 

All I know is summer is upon us and it's time to indulge in all of the best things. Besides, Ava will be attending Grace Preschool in the fall, and since next summer she’ll be old enough for camps, I figure this is my last summer of having her all to myself.

I feel the need to make it a great summer: days full of fun at the pool, sticky ice cream, sprinklers, playing at the park, family time at the in Burr Ridge on Fridays and Unique Thursdays in Hinsdale! 

If you happen to recognize us, say hello, and be sure to tell me all about your favorite places to hit up this summer! 

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