Wednesday, February 28, 2007


I'm really hoping that sometime soon I will manage to be well and uninjured at the same time. I was just musing the other day about how my tailbone was healed and then this morning I woke up entirely too early with major pain in my kidneys. So, after I trip to the doctor this morning, I'm stocked with antibiotics. However, she said it could be up to 48 hours before I started to feel significantly better.... ugh. Thankfully Jeff comes home late tonight and is working from home tomorrow.

I promise I have been scrapping... I just can't post anything yet. I have one I can post tomorrow after the DST newsletter comes out and one I can post late tomorrow night for the Friday Featured kit at Scrapartist. I love that layout and it's really killing me not to post it.

Sigh... I really wanted to type more but my bed is really, really, really calling me (is it bad to go to bed at 8:30?).


Thursday, February 22, 2007

wow... thank you guys!

Thank you all for the kind words about what my kids and I are doing with homeschooling. It really truly means a lot to me.... especially since I've struggled for the past year and a half to find my homeschool groove! LOL!

I really feel like we're in a really good spot. I have the schedule I need from Sonlight, even though I have let go and have learned to not get stressed out about being on different weeks for different subjects. And I am embracing my inner unschooler! LOL! I'm not an unschooler and probably never will be (I'm just not wired that way) but I have learned to embrace the fabulous "let learning happen" philosophy of unschooling - at least part time. When I first started homeschooling I was so excited about hands on learning and field trips. I lined up outings to go with each topic we covered and things to do on those outings. We had fun, but it got stressful. Then, this year, I found myself obsessing about our new Sonlight schedule and cutting out field trips because I was so caught up in the bookwork I didn't have time to figure out our outings. Now, here in Chicago, I have found our current perfect mix. I am not so rigid about our schedule... although we do try to consistently get through 5 days of work in four days, but we spend that day we free up by doing this to learn through living.

Our trips to the Art Institute are perfect examples of this. I really, really wanted to revert to my old ways and have some sort of agenda for our first trip, I even went to the teacher info section of their website to figure out what I wanted the kids to learn. However, life got in the way and I didn't get it done, so we just showed up. By letting the kids lead me through the museum instead of the other way around, we learned so much and had such a great time. We took our time, read descriptions and talked about what we thought were going on in the paintings. There were no fights, dragging of feet or whining even after being there five hours. They were engaged and excited because they were directing the learning by picking the pieces of art. The next visit they did enjoy listening to the family tour but they really enjoyed being able to pick out other pieces of art to hear about along the way - even though the descriptions were from the adult tours. Later, sitting on the floor of the gallery, sketching, they were studying paintings in a way I never could have made them do following a lesson plan... they did it on their own. Whew... I'm rambling... but I am really happy right now.

Tricia... you asked about the reactions we got while the kids were sketching.... well we got quite a few... most of them were subtle (a whisper or pointing) but one lady stood over the kids and watched them draw while we were in the sculpture gallery. She "ooohed and aaahed" (no clue how to spell that, but you know what I mean) over their pictures and complimented them. It was nice, although Alex got a bit embarassed. We were in and out of galleries so much that we passed one set of docents several times.... they always asked to see their latest sketch. It was just such a positive experience.

Oh... when I mentioned our day at the museum to someone, they commented about how sad it is that schools usually cut art programs first. I have heard that many times and always thought it was sad that kids wouldn't get to create projects. However, after our trips to the Art Institute I have a whole different view on this... my opinion has gone from it being sad to it being tragic. I also find it tragic how art education is usually confined to the neat little box of "art class". I really learned over the last week that art is so much more! We spent nearly 8 hours there over two days and yes, we were looking at art, but we were learning so much more! We learned about cultures, their beliefs and their myths. We learned about historical events. We learned about social issues. We learned about religion and Bible stories. (ack... we almost had to have an impromtu anatomy lesson when Alex picked a semi-nude sculpture to sketch... but he didn't say a word, just sketched it - on the flip side, Clara sketched it too but added clothes) We covered nearly every subject we study looking at something considered an "extra" or "elective" in most schools. Sigh...

Okay... I need to get off my soapbox and get back to our schoolwork!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

another day at the art institute

Yes... we spent another day at the Art Institute... nearly 4 hours this time. I seriously can't believe how much they enjoyed it. We did the Audio Tour this time and not only did the kids listen to all of the recordings on the "family tour" but they also listened to about 10 additional recordings from the adult tours. (don't think I realized quite how large this painting was before)

And the kids did some art of their own... they spent about 1 1/2 hours sketching their favorite pieces from the museum. I'll have to scan those in at some point.

Okay... off to bed!


Happy Paczki Day! LOL!

The view from breakfast this morning (excuse the "snapshots"... I was trying to use my speedlite and I have a long way to go before I get the thing figured out)...

Oh... and there was the added bonus that my camera battery was dead. I had to put it in the charger for a minute or two, then take it out... take one picture, then put it back in the charger again, etc. I forgot to check the battery before the kids started eating and with the way they were plowing through the paczki's, I had to do something desperate or they would be done before my battery had charged. So these are my only two shots.

For those wondering about Paczki Day... click here.

Well..... I need to go get ready. I think we're heading to the art institute again!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

what a fabulous day!!!

My goodness... we had a great day today!! I love homeschooling every day (okay... most days) but today was just an amazing day. We decided to take advantage of the free admission special that the Art Institute is offering until the 21st of February. I thought we would spend an hour or two and come home. I didn't figure it would hold Alex and Clara's attention for more than that. Boy, was I wrong! We got there around 11 and didn't leave until after 4!! They only agreed to leave because they were getting tired and only if I promised that we would come back again next week while it was still free. They had an absolutely incredible time. They wanted to know everything... they wanted to read every description of every piece of art. We spent longer in one section of the ancient Egyptian artifacts than any adult did. The kids politely asked questions of the museum staff and were given incredible descriptions on everything from armor to artwork. AND... they were complemented on their behavior often (which is always nice for a mom). Clara did have a hard time not handling the ropes that ran around the perimeter of the rooms... which sent security personnel our direction quite often.

I honestly can't wait to go again! After leaving the Art Insitute we went to the art supply store so we could buy sketch pads for each of us. There were a lot of students from the art institute sketching at various locations around the museum... the kids wanted to try their hand at it when we go back.

I didn't take many pics because I had my 85mm on and I just couldn't get the shots I wanted. Next time I'll put my 50mm on and see if that helps... I just need something that I can shoot pretty wide open since flash is not allowed.

On to the pics...The kids trying their hand at writing Chinese characters.

This is how they spent quite a bit of their time... sitting in the middle of the floor of some gallery, looking through their guidebook, deciding which piece of art to see next. See the ropes... those are the ones Clara couldn't keeps her hands off of.


Isn't it overwhelming to stand in the presence of great works of art? I felt completely unworthy to be standing there in front of works of art that most people only see on postcards and in coffee table books.

***Just a parting photo with the lion. I'll have to try this one again next week. I forgot to change the aperture after shooting inside... the lion is in focus but the kiddos are blurry.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

its slightly blizzard-ish out

Wow! I had forgotten exactly what real winter is like until today! LOL! Thankfully we had nowhere to go and plenty of hot chocolate. It was just killing the kids to not be out in it so after lunch they went out.... for a whole 10 minutes before they had enough. The wind was whipping like crazy and they were being pelted with millions of little ice crystal snowflakes. I think Alex's face says it all...
And then a shot of Clara stuff in a snow drift out back...

And one shot of the street out front (and that white hazy look is due to all of the blowing snow)...

This was not long after lunch... its gotten worse since then.

I did manage to finish a layout today. That's a major accomplishment lately since I seem to have misplaced any creativity that I had. Here's the layout...

details here

Well... that's it for me today... pretty boring, huh? Maybe tomorrow we'll venture outside!


Saturday, February 10, 2007

One Fine Day

That's the name of an article that runs in the Chicago Tribune every Saturday.... it outlines "one fine day" from breakfast to dinner in and/or around the city. We were intrigued by last week's article so we cut it out and today we made our own attempt at "one fine day".

We didn't do it all, in fact, we only did one thing, but it took us into a neighborhood we haven't explored much, Wicker Park. We had lunch at Piece, and let me tell you, it was really good pizza. After lunch we headed to our "one fine day" destination.... Brainstorm Movies, Comics and Gaming. The writer of the article mentioned that he takes his preschool age son there and that the owners are great to point out age appropriate comics. I have to say that it was an incredible experience... one of the owners, Robert (I think) was so incredibly helpful, greeting us the second we walked through the door... he helped explain the different series that were available for Alex's age and even read portions to him to get him excited about the stories. We're just looking for different, fun ways to get and keep Alex excited about reading.... he's ready for more complex story lines but still gets bogged down in chapter books. Hopefully, its working because he took the comics to bed with him so he could read them. An added bonus was that while we were there, the man who wrote the article came in with his son! So we chatted just a bit and thanked him for the great suggestion! Oh... Jeff and I bought a comic book too... LOL! A couple of years ago Jeff and I read The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay for our book club that we do each year. In the book the two main characters write comic books featuring a character called the Escapist. Well... after Jeff mentioned the book to the owner, he showed us the comic book The Escapist based on the book! So, of course we had to get it. It was a great time, and we definitely plan on going back.

Nothing much going on here. I took my camera with me today but it was so cold out that I hated even taking my hands out of my pockets, let alone take off my gloves so I could use my camera. I'm ready for some warmer weather!

Okay... I'm heading to bed!


ETA: I almost forgot... if you or someone you know is interested in comic books or would just like to see what it's all about, May 5th is Free Comic Book Day at lots of participating comic shops around the country!

Friday, February 09, 2007

I've been tagged!

Okay... still haven't edited the pics from the museum. I did get my pics from the Noble Horse Theatre edited this week and burned to a disc today. They picked them up this afternoon so we'll see if/when they make their website.

Okay Noel tagged me with 6 weird things about myself and 6 things that make me happy.

Here goes...

6 Weird Things (besides my tendency to fall down):

1. If we eat at a sandwich place where I get a bag of chips (such as subway) I must stuff all of my trash into the chip bag when I'm done eating. This amuses my husband, I'm not sure why.

2. I can't sit "normal", I must have a leg (usually my right one) tucked under my other leg.

3. I LOVE pedicures, but I can't stand having a manicure (no clue on that one).

4. Dr. Pepper is my crisis drink... I keep little bottles in the fridge and take little hits from one all day long! LOL!

5. I hate to drive.

6. I don't feel hot, cold or pain on the entire right side of my body... I do feel a "sensation" when one of those is at an extreme level, but I never know which it is since they all feel the same.

Okay... on to 6 things that make me happy:

1. Alex's random acts of kindness.

2. Clara's giggle.

3. Jeff's thoughtfulness.

4. Milkyway Midnights (mmmm.... dark chocolate milkyway goodness)

5. Dr. Pepper.

6. Being back in Chicago.

Okay... who am I tagging???? Hmmmm... Kirsty, Amy, Shawna, Julie and Jen!!

Have a great weekend!!

ETA: Anyone out there been to Lyon, France? I may have the chance to tag along on one of my husband's business trips in May and was wondering if I should. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

okay... that's it!

I'm hibernating until spring and only coming out if I'm completely wrapped in bubble wrap! Can you believe that I fell AGAIN today??? This time it was on ice while crossing the street with my kids!!!!!!! I did fall on my knee this time instead of my backside, but now I have two injuries instead of one. I tell you, it was pathetic... there I was on all fours in the street (thankfully a side street) trying to get up slowly (because my tailbone still hurts when I bend) without anything to hold onto while on ICE!! Alex was like "Clara, stop, mom's fallen again".... sigh, he had to say "again" didn't he? I saw that you tagged me Noel... can one of the weird things about me be that apparently I fall down a lot? I really don't plan on leaving the house tomorrow (but that should give me lots of time to clean my kitchen which I'm ignoring right now).

I started to edit pics from Tuesday so I could post them, but it's just not going to happen. I'm calling it a day and going to bed before I fall over something else.

Wish me luck! I'm going down the evil hardwood stairs without my trusty gripper socks! LOL!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

thank you!

Thank you all for the get well wishes! My tailbone is feeling much better. Although people have told me that it will continue to hurt for quite some time. At least now I can sit for a while at a time and I'm not hobbling around like an old lady!

It has been bitterly cold here so we haven't really gone outside much. So, given that, we decided to tag along with Jeff on his business trip to Milwaukee yesterday. Okay... it sounded like a good idea at the time, but as we were driving out of the city and this (see below) is what I was seeing out the front window of the mini(van) I wasn't so sure.

Add to this that it was only 1 degree out at the time. We saw all kinds of accidents and spin-outs but all we're in the lanes going the opposite direction.

When we got to Milwaukee, Jeff dropped us off at the children's museum and that is where we spent the day. The kids LOVED it! We spent a little over FIVE hours there and they could have kept on playing. It was really cool. I have lots of pics from yesterday but my tailbone is telling me that my computer time is up for the moment... so hopefully I'll get them up soon.

Back to the cushy couch!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

mini blog hiatus

being the extremely graceful and surefooted person that I am... I fell on our hardwood stairs here at home and landed extremely hard on my tailbone (I also hit my back and my head, but they seem to be okay). Sitting in my chair for very long at a time isn't going well.... so I won't be sitting here much for a couple of days. :-(