Monday, April 30, 2007

Just a quick post...

... and then I'm off to bed! I know it's early... but today wore me out... plus I have a big day tomorrow!! :-)

First of all... I fell down, yet again today. Are you getting tired of reading about me falling down? Well... I'm getting tired of doing it!! Again, it was the hardwood stairs in our house... but this wasn't truly an act of clumsiness... this time. My left knee buckled, midstep as I was going down the stairs.... so I basically sat down real hard on my right foot which was curled up underneath me (sounds confusing I know... it doensn't really make sense to me and I was there). The top of my foot immediately turned bright red and purple... but it never swelled really and now the red is gone, just leaving some purple at the base of my last three toes. So, I'm thinking I'm okay (plus I had my neighbor who is a nurse take a quick peek and she agrees). We were on our way out the door to go play miniature golf when this happened so I hobbled right on out the door. I tried taking some pics while we were golfing but it got too difficult plus it was harsh mid-day sun. So I took a couple in the park while we waited for our bus home.

look... it's Clara with her mouth open! Such a rare sight ;-)

See... I told you the sun was harsh....

Tomorrow I have my first official photo playdate since moving back to Chicago! I'm so excited!! Hopefully I'll have lots of pics to post tomorrow night!


Friday, April 27, 2007

sing with me now....

It's a world of laughter...

a world of tears...
It's a world of hopes and a world of fears...

There's so much that we share...

That it's time we're aware...

It's a small world after all...

It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small world after all... it's a small, small world!

Do you hate me yet? These pics are not from day two of our trip... they're actually from day 4 at the parks. We were staying at a Disney resort so we got to take part in the "extra magic hours" (10pm to 1am after the park had closed to other visitors). We rode The Haunted Mansion after dark which was really amazing since it was just me, Alex and Clara and Clara gets scared really easily. She did great but insisted on going to a "happy place" immediately after getting out of the haunted mansion... this is how we ended up on It's a Small World three times in a row. Snapping pics is the only thing that kept me sane after the first time through.

I still have a bunch of photos to go through. It's strange I took a lot of pics but not the ones I thought I would. I had grand plans of taking all kinds of "detail" pics to scrap. But honestly, we were having too much fun to mess with those. I have lots of pics of the kids with characters (and can you believe I switched to "auto" for a lot of these - I went for low stress)... and I also have lots of pics of events were I could sit down and observe, like the light parade in my last post, three times through It's a Small World, the Illuminations firework show at Epcot and the Fantasmic night show at MGM. Other little details just didn't happen... just too many people and too much to do.

Well... I think I picked up a cold on our trip so I'm going to head to the couch!


Thursday, April 26, 2007

Disney World Trip - Day 1

We had a wonderful trip... even after our rocky start. It seems that several of our great trips have started with Jeff and I not speaking to each other at O'Hare Airport (the most noteable of these was our honeymoon).

We spent Wednesday night at the Hilton at the airport so we would be able to make our early flight (7:55 am). We got up, got around, no problem... we got to the airport at exactly 6:55 am. We went up to the agent to check in and were informed that we had just missed our flight.... how could that be? Our flight wasn't for an hour! Well... that's what I get for not asking to see the tickets. Jeff had gotten the time wrong and hadn't double checked the tickets.. our flight was at 6:55 am!!! We even had first class tickets!!! The next flight we could get out on wasn't until about 5:00 that evening. Thank goodness the kids didn't know where we were going! Jeff nearly threw up on the counter and he confessed to the agent that he was messing up his son's big surprise birthday trip. So with that (and Jeff's status on American) a few phone calls were made and we were booked the last four first class tickets (on a full flight) leaving at around 11:30am. So we hung out in the Admiral's Club with the kids still in the dark about where we were going. The finally figured it out on the plane when the flight attendent asked if they were on their way to see Mickey Mouse. Prior to that, their top three guesses were:

1. New York City (we told them we were going on a business trip w/Jeff)
2. Disney World
3. Indiana (no clue where this one came from)

So we made it to the hotel around 4:00, ate dinner and headed to the Magic Kingdom until it closed at midnight. It was more crowded than I had expected this time of year but somehow we timed everything right and didn't wait in line for more than 5 minutes for anything we rode and we did at least 6 attractions that night. We also waited for the late parade, so there was no one lined up along the route to watch so I got a clear view for taking pictures. I started with the Mickey one in my last post... so here are some more from SpectroMagic!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

sooooo very sleepy

Wow! 6 days at Disney World will really take it out of you... I'm barely concious at the moment. We had a fabulous time and I did take lots of pics (so did Alex - we got him his own camera for his birthday). But for now... just one....

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

and we're off!!

See you next week!

the fruits of my procrastination

and I don't even paper scrap!

I had to use what I had on hand which made it interesting... I used some Scenic Route paper and stickers I had gotten in a Scrapbook Trends goodie box when I was pubbed with them last year. I laminated the cover with supplies from my homeschool stash... the pages are just blank 4x6 index cards, the rings are just rings from Staples and the back covers are alphabet divider tabs with their initial. My thoughts are that after we're home, I can easily remove the pages and scan them to use on layouts. I would have loved to have done a digi layout for the cover... but I don't have a color printer here at home... but I'm saving for one!!! :-)

Okay... really must start cleaning up messes v. making new ones!

losing it...

I can't find my swimsuit anywhere to save my life! I have looked everywhere I could think of... all of our beach towels are missing too so I'm assuming they're all living together somewhere in a box in the dark recesses of our storage room... since when we were unpacking it was December in Chicago so swimsuits and beach towels were not high on the priority list of things to put away... sigh. Not sure what to do... I hate swimsuit shopping with a passion and I really don't want to have to do it on vacation, paying more than the usual high price for a piece of clothing I hate... ugh.

Oh... and I just checked on my 2nd of 6 loads of laundry today to find soap bubbles creeping out from under the laundry room door!!!!!!!! We may be spending our day carting clothes to the laundry on the corner.

I'm seriously going to need a vacation after today.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

a walk around the block

I haven't taken my camera out in over a week so I got the itch to take it with me today. The kids and I walked over to the local nail salon so I could get a pedicure and Clara could get her toes painted. Anyway.... here are the shots from today....

Oh... I should warn you... I got a little carried away on the post-processing on some of these... urban shots do that too me! :-)

I also scrapped... trying something new for me. I'm not sure I can pull this look off... but it was fun trying!

details here

I think the reason I'm playing with my camera and photoshop is because I'm avoiding all of the laundry I need to do before we leave for Disney World tomorrow (technically we're not there until Thursday but since our flight is so early, we're spending Wednesday night at the hotel attached to O'Hare airport. The kids STILL have NO CLUE! Can you believe it?? I seriously cannot wait to get there... we're going to have sooo much fun! I plan on taking TONS of pictures this trip. Last year when we surprised them with a trip to Disneyland... the boy and I both had the flu. Needless to say, I didn't have the energy to take more than a handful of pics... I think the only ones I really took was of them posing with characters. I'm having lens decision issues though. Realistically I KNOW I should just put my 28-135 IS on and just forget it... it's pretty wide, its got a bit of a zoom... just a good all purpose lens. However, I'm so spoiled by the color and sharpness of my primes. I'm trying to be realistic and accept that the 28-135 is my best choice.... but I may sneak a couple of primes into my camera bag.

Okay... I really MUST do laundry! If I decide to procrastinate further... I may be back to post more photos or other layouts I've completed while the laundry threatens to take over the house! :-)

ETA: (because I still haven't gotten up from my chair to go and do laundry) we watched the Everest IMAX movie last night and I must say it was incredible!!! If you decide to read Into Thin Air... you must rent this movie to watch after you're done. Although it is not about the tragedy on Everest, the IMAX team was on the mountain as it occurred and their reactions and actions in response to what was going on are documented in the film. I seriously was choking back tears as I heard Ed (from the IMAX team) talking to Rob Hall on the radio as he was stranded near the summit in the storm. The book was fantastic and watching the IMAX film was the perfect follow-up to the book. Okay... laundry... seriously... I'm going to go now.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


I have a feeling I'm going to ramble yet again today... so, you've been warned! LOL!

First of all... I really am snapping out of it... so thank you all so much for your kind comments and sticking with me through my recent whinings/whingings (that's for you Meg!). I've been on a roll and completed my second layout in two days...

details here

Those pics are from our recent trip to Silver Dollar City while we were in MO visiting my parents over Spring Break. You would think the kids would get tired of going... since we go three to four times each year... but they don't... they love every minute of it.

I'm a pretty brave city girl most of the time, but tonight just was almost more than I could take. Apparently someone plowed into the traffic light at the intersection by our house last night between when we left for chess and ballet and before we got home from class. No biggie, it doesn't really effect me since I don't drive, right? Well, tonight Jeff had a late dinner meeting so I got the pleasure of walking the dog... that was when I realized that whatever happened with the traffic light at the corner DID effect me... ALL of the street lights on our block were out. Walking around a city street in the darkness is a little unsettling. I could hear people talking that I couldn't see... car doors would shut, etc. I was beginning to get a bit jumpy. Thankfully Friday did her business quickly and we were back in the house.

I'm so excited! In the mail today I got the Everest IMAX movie from Netflix! I'm trying to get done with Into Thin Air soon so we can all watch it... and I do mean all. Can you believe that while Jeff and I were reading that book, Alex's homeschool history/social studies was covering mountains and even had a section on Everest?? It should be interesting to watch since the IMAX team was on Everest while the events chronicled in Into Thin Air were taking place. I seriously cannot put this book down and I'm usually not a HUGE non-fiction fan. Thanks for the other book suggestions Meg! My husband and I have our own bookclub and each year at Christmas we each pick out 3-5 books and buy two copies... we give them to each other on Christmas Eve and we read the same book at the same time throughout the year. I'm always looking for good additions for our club.

On a sad note... Kurt Vonnegut died yesterday. I was just fascinated by his books. It started my senior year of high school... while on a World War II book reading spree, I came across Slaughterhouse Five at a used book sale. I knew nothing about it... but I was intrigued. After that I collected and read most of his other books. He used to come to Chicago alot to speak when I first moved here, I kept telling myself that "next time" I would go for sure.... but it never happened. Perhaps I should pull out one of his books to read next.

So... on a lighter note... I was reading Jennifer Pebble's blog and saw her list of what Google turned up that she "needed"... so I had to play along. So after googling "Tracie needs"... here's what I found out...

1. to forget about Eric (check... apparently I've already taken care of that one)
2. to gain some weight (check again... I've more than got that taken care of)
3. to be pushed (YES... this is what I've been whining about this week... lol)
4. your help wrapping up the year (if you say so)
5. phone insurance (yeah.. preferably before I dropped it and broke the camera)

Okay... that was fun... but apparently the unsual spelling my first name made my list pretty short. Oh well!

Well... with that... I'm heading to bed!


Oh... Elizabeth... thank you so much for the kind comment and the suggestion... I have to look into something like at as an option!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

coming around...

or at least I was until we got hit with another late winter storm this morning... now we're currently experiencing a "wintery mix" of freezing rain, sleet and snow! Wooo hoooo!

Thank you all for your comments! It's very nice to be able to vent here and read your comments. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one out there that needs outside factors to motivate me. Some times I start feeling guilty about that... that taking good pics of my kids and scrapping our memories should be enough motivation to get it done. But I *need* that outside "push".

I totally get what you mean about exercise, Meg!! I'm exactly that same way. If I exercise, I need someone else involved... someone who is counting on me being there. If I go to a class at the gym where I don't know anyone or just go to work out alone... the motivation doesn't last long. I keep thinking about exercise a lot lately since my kids are getting bigger and getting harder and harder to keep up with. I'm trying to find some outside factor to keep me focused. For example... I'm currently reading Into Thin Air (an amazing book by the way), for many of the people in this book, climbing Everest was their motivation to get into the best possible shape they could be in. Working out was not their hobby, but mountain climbing was.... but it was the motivator to work out. I will not be taking up mountain climbing as a hobby (I got dizzy just reading about the heights!), but I would love to find something that I loved to do that made being in shape a bigger priority. Photography and scrapbooking are not big exercise motivating hobbies! LOL!

Yeah, Bridget, I think you're right, I do overthink things anymore. BUT... that goes along with my outside motivation "issue" LOL! My outside motivation lately has been CT assignments or magazine pubs.... and with those I feel like I need to constantly be raising the bar with my layouts. I feel like there has to be a certain quality standard (of course this is all just in my head) so I'll start and delete multiple layouts for every one that I actually finish. I'm going to have to just get over that.

Thank you for the comments Brenda.... your comment about that I'm moving to a different point in my hobbies... the problem is... I'm at a lost at what that next point is! LOL! Looks like we'll just miss each other at Disney World! That's too bad! In case I get busy and forget... big birthday wishes for Gracie! Is she really going to be six???

Thanks for the info Michelle... I'll have to check out the challenge... that may be some good motivation for me.

Okay... I'm rambling again and I really need to hop in the shower! Here's a layout I worked on yesterday....

details here

Okay... off to get clean!

Monday, April 09, 2007

i'm still alive

I've been a very bad blogger... and given my mental state right now, it will probably be a while before I snap out of it. I'm crabby.

*** ETA: I decided to remove this portion of my rant ***

Moving on... I'm also in a quandry with what I'm doing as far as my hobbies - photography and scrapbooking. I love both hobbies and truly enjoy them. But... I need outside motivation to grow in photography and to get things done in scrapbooking. I wish I could be one of those people who can just be motivated by their own desire, but, sadly, I am not. But on the flipside, I don't take part in these hobbies purely for outside recognition. It's just some weird glitch in my wiring... I need the outside pressure in order to get what I need to get done, done. (I'm like this beyond my hobbies... I have been known to invite someone over so I *have* to clean my house.... since just sitting here thinking about it without any outside influences wasn't getting me anywhere).

I really want to grow more with my photography.... but without the outside motivation, I'm struggling. Before I get too far into this... let me just say that I DO NOT want a portrait business in any way, shape or form. I really don't. That said, I wouldn't mind doing something else like product photography or the occassional fun portrait shoot with a friend, but no full blown "portrait" business.... it's too much stress for me. In Texas, I entered serveral local photography competitions and those kept me motivated and challenged, but so far, I haven't found any here in Chicago (I'm sure some must exist, but I just haven't found them). Without outside motivation, I find myself overwhelmed with the many directions I can go in and then since I'm overwhelmed, I just hit a wall and stop it all in indecision.

As for scrapbooking.... I wish I could do it for the pure and noble reason of preserving my family's memories... but alas, with this as my sole motivation, I just sit here in front of a blank canvas with hundreds and hundreds of photos to choose from and an overwhelming amount of supplies to choose from. I *need* the outside source to narrow it down for me... but either a CT assigment telling me to work with a specific kit or a magazine call asking for layouts done for a certain season or event. Once I have my starting point, I can focus and begin to create. I've done pretty well since I started scrapping in November of 2005 - I've been a part of 12 amazing CT's (now down to 2), pages pubbed in Digital Scrapbooking (original and Simple Scrapbooks), Scrapbook Trends, BH&G Scrapbooks Etc., and Creating Keepsakes, a winner in the original (pre-Simple Scrapbooks) Digital Scrapbooking mag's Best and Brightest Contest, a runner-up in last year's Memory Makers Masters and a Honorable Mention in this Year's Creating Keepsakes' Hall of Fame. So, I'm feeling the pull to do more.... but I fight with this because I'm not sure if I really want to do more, or if I just feel like I should give it a shot since I've come this far. I have a bad habit of being an "all or nothing" sort of person... if I'm not going for it totally and completely, I tend to not do it at all.

My husband and I had a conversation about this recently. He suggested that my motivation be providing pics and layouts for family. That is a great motivation if I was a different person, but given that they're family and they think any picture of the kids is perfect no matter how technically wrong they are, I lose the ambition to keep growing and learning. And after losing that, I lose the ambition to do it at all out of frustration.

ARRrrrrgggggggghhhhhhhhhhhh..... I'm really rambling, I'm sorry. I'm just in one of those kinds of moods and honestly, I've been in one of those kinds of moods a lot since moving back to Chicago. I really, truly love it here, we're a much happier family and homeschooling here is amazing but I've lost my way a bit in regards to my hobbies (and I *need* them to keep me balanced and sane!). Once I can get those on track... I hope the moods will be gone. Or perhaps I just have one of the seasonal disorder things from not getting enough sunlight after living in Texas for nearly 5 years... maybe a nice bright sunlamp is the answer I really need! LOL!

Okay... I'm done moaning... the kids are downstairs and away from my computer so I'm going to be sneaky and look up info for our trip to Disney World next week (we haven't told the kids that we're going and won't... we're just going to get on a plane and see how long it takes them to figure it all out). There are so many Disney trip planning sites out there... I haven't planned at all (one of the downfalls of not telling them is that you can't talk about it, or having anything in plain sight that has anything to do with it)... is it possible to go to Disney World without planning? The only planning I'm really looking into right now is what they do for birthdays down there since Alex will turn 7 during our trip. I honestly can't wait!

Alright... I'm really going now. I'll try to come up with something perkier and less whiney for tomorrow! LOL!

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

quick post and then off to bed

I'm really not sure what happened to today! The morning started with a couple of "bumps" that threw me off all day. First of all... before I was even fully awake I scared the *bleep* out of myself. See... every week we get our groceries delivered by Peapod and the kind folks there always wrap our eggs in the bubble wrap with the great big bubbles. I always give it to the kids and forget about it... well apparently so had they. They had left it by the island in the kitchen and as I rounded the corner (in the dark) I stepped directly on a mostly unpopped square of bubble wrap. I cannot even guess how high I jumped!

Then... I have been wondering why Netflix hadn't received one of the movies I had recently sent back (Leap Frog Storybook Factory or something like that). Well, now I know why. I was getting ready to put in our copy of Leap Frog Letter Factory for Clara and guess what I found when I openned the case...... yep.... Netflix's copy of Storybook Factory! I had returned OUR Letter Factory by mistake! According to their website they won't return personal DVDs so it's gone... which makes me sad since I had planned on using it quite a bit with Clara since she's having trouble with her letter sounds (the girl is a sight reader and I'm having trouble interesting her in phonics... sigh). I had just reported Storybook Factory as "lost in the mail" so we already have our next movie in the queue. Apparently it wasn't lost... I've just mentally "lost it".

I spent a big chunk of my non-schooling day working on next year's curriculum again. I'm getting a little nutso about it so I need to place my orders soon and just be done with it. I also need to stop reading homeschool forums (but I know I won't) because every time I turn around I find some cool new item that sounds fun.... or some concept I hadn't considered (like today I read a post about people doing two math curriculums... hadn't occurred to me to do that or even that there was a reason to... now I'm obsessed about it even though we love our math... sigh).

I still haven't worked on my pics from Missouri... but going with the animal theme I have going... here's another one of Friday. Yes, her tongue is that long... although it usually doesn't hang out like that except after chasing a tennis ball for much longer than her 10 year old body should. She would be so stiff at night that she could barely walk but she would still want to play fetch with her ball. Oh... and Meg... not a wide angle shot I'm afraid. I actually took it with my 85 mm.... I played with my new wide angle some, but not any good ones of Friday.

Okay... that ended up not being so quick... but I am off to bed.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

the brick lickin' squirrel

Ever seen one? Well... here you go...

My parents have this squirrel who comes up on their deck and licks the bricks (actually it's licking the cement between the bricks).

I'm stalling... I have nothing to report and I haven't really looked at my pics from last week (except for the random animal pics I keep posting). Sigh... tomorrow's another day! :-)