Thursday, January 31, 2008

field trip!

Today we decided to check out the Chicago History Museum....I haven't been there in FOREVER.... I think Jeff and I were still dating when we last went. But while at the library on Monday I noticed that the Great Kids Museum Passport was in for that museum and decided to check it out.

The kids had a great time. The morning was a bit crazy with school groups but after lunch we pretty much had the place to ourselves. We ended up spending about four hours there and I think we pretty much covered it all. Alex is obsessed with the Great Chicago Fire and was a bit disappointed that they didn't have more on the subject. But they had other cool things to make up for it.

Like the opportunity to turn yourself into a Chicago hot dog...

Okay... am I the only parent out there that just wants to drag my children home after stuff like this and bathe them in Lysol? My goodness it was making my skin crawl. They loved it though and wouldn't stop playing with it. Ick!

Another favorite, making their own Chicago postcards, complete with their pictures...

They rotated the most recently created postcards up on the big display. I happened to catch their cards when they were up. They were supposed to have been sent to us via email, but they haven't shown up in Alex's in box yet.

It was a lot of fun and I even managed to buy myself a new bag/purse at the gift shop. It's an astrosatchel... I've been stalking them for some time now and finally, today, decided to make a purchase. I'll have to take a photo of it later because I can't find my particular bag on their site.

Well... we're in the midst of another winter storm warning so I think I'm going to go and watch it snow some more (I love to watch it snow).


Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Do your kids ever do things that just leave you wondering if they have any common sense?

See the picture of Clara below...
It may be hard to tell... but her hair looked a little "off" this morning. So I felt it, and it felt a little "off". I asked her if she remembered to wash out her conditioner last night. She assured me that she did. However... "its probably just lotion".... huh??? Why is there lotion in her hair you ask? Well... "my head itched"... sigh.

If you want to know what she's coloring... the story is on my homeschooling blog. Nothing terribly exciting just didn't want to ramble on here about it.

Today was dance day (well... one of two dance days each week). We were supposed to sign up for next session today. However, I'm in a quandary about what to sign her up for. Ugh. She has very strong opinions about what she wants to do... the problem is, I'm not sure it's doable. She's taking a fairly advance (for her age) ballet and character class on Saturdays. On Wednesdays she's taking pre-ballet/tap (long story... but when we signed up in the fall this was the only class available for her age.... but after they auditioned her for the nutcracker, she was required to take the more advanced class), followed by hip hop/jazz. She does NOT want to take pre-ballet anymore... she says that it's too easy and she wants to take another "harder" class. BUT... there's nothing else offered at her level at her studio. Another instructor shares studio space and she has a more advance ballet class at that time. Her class is for girls about 1-3 years older than Clara... she would evaluate her to see if she could take the class BUT it is a two day a week minimum class and at six years old Clara does NOT need to be taking 3 hours of ballet a week (plus an hour of character and an hour of hip hop/jazz... oh and did I mention that she wants to take the hour long more advanced tap class too???). UGH!! Oh... I forgot to mention that one main reason that dropping pre-ballet is an issue is because we have to be at the studio at that time regardless for Alex's boy's hip hop class. It would be nice for her to be doing something instead of sitting in the hall (plus I have a sneaking suspicion that if she doesn't sign up for any class at that time, we'll make it about two weeks of seeing her friend going into that class before she begs to rejoin it rather than hanging out in the hall with me any longer).

All Jeff and I could think of today is that this has something to do with the nutcracker. After performing in the nutcracker in December, Clara decided that next time she wanted to be in the party scene. Figuring that this deal with the big production was a one time thing (or at most a once in a while thing) I told her that if she worked hard then maybe she could be in the party scene next time. Well, we found out on Saturday that "next time" may very well be this year. Ever since she found that out, she has been insisting on taking "harder" classes and wants to drop her "easy" class. The thing is... she could work like crazy and still not have a part in the party scene this year. She's just so young and it's a big part. I really thought we had at least a year or so of buffer before this would come up. I have to make a decision on classes by Saturday. Clara and I will have to sit down and have a great big dance discussion and see what happens.

Okay... I'm heading to bed!


Tuesday, January 29, 2008

winter storm warning



From this picture you really can't tell just how hard the wind is blowing and how thick the snow is. It's not going to amount to much but it sure is blowing around a lot.... making it really hard to see out there. Thankfully Jeff's plane made it in okay this afternoon. It was delayed about three hours and the flight was rough... but he's home safe.

Oh... we're also supposed to drop 50 degrees today. Our high was 48 degrees F this afternoon and our low is forecast at -2 degrees. We're at 23 degrees right now... having dropped 25 degrees already. We're in for the night and have nowhere to go until 4:00 tomorrow afternoon thankfully. I honestly love a good storm of any kind... probably because most of what requires us to be out of the house is optional.

Other than this storm, our day was rather uneventful. Our groceries were delivered, we did school and watched some Mythbusters. It was a good day at the Radtke house.

Monday, January 28, 2008


Monday has turned into one crazy day at our house. Right after lunch Alex has a homeschool science class at one of the museums here in the city, from there we go straight to Alex's cooking class... THEN I have to get Clara to her new gymnastics class that starts 15 minutes after Alex's cooking class starts. While she's in gymnastics I make a library run. Then BOTH of their classes end at the exact same time. Fortunately, the women at Alex's cooking class are great and said that it was no problem for Alex to hang out with them until I can get there with Clara. It still makes for a crazy day though.

Here's my photo of the day... Clara lining up her new math flash cards...

more about that here

Meg... here's a photo for Tom...
I didn't really have any good ones of the Chicago skyline, so here's one I took from the beach last summer. I think in Alex's model, the one with the tall smooth blue pieces is supposed to be the Hancock Building (in this pic, it's the one with the tall antennas - or whatever they are - on top). Alex loved looking at your son's creations... we'll come back to comment on them tomorrow since we're staying home. He thinks it's cool to have a long distance lego buddy! :-)

Okay... Jeff's out of town again so it's time for my Ghost Hunters fix!


Sunday, January 27, 2008

this is what happens....

when I realize at 10:40pm that I haven't taken my photo of the day.

You get more lego photos...
Seriously... there are creations EVERYWHERE in our house. On the red hutch next to my desk, I keep the special ones that Alex has given to me. The one above is his version of the Chicago skyline. On the same shelf, I have a Chicago "L" car and bi-plane that he has made.... I'm saving those for another day when I realize past my bedtime that I need a photo for that day... LOL!

Okay, I'm heading to bed and I promise to do better tomorrow! :-)


Saturday, January 26, 2008

real quick....

and then I've got to go and get ready to go to Jeff's work party tonight.

Clara was soooo excited to get her skirt for character class today. It's a bit long but she didn't mind at all. She's in heaven... shoes with heels and a long flowy skirt... what could be better?
And just because I sat in on her classes today (they usually let me in once they see my camera), here's one from her ballet class...
The studio was FREEZING today! I'm going to have to find one of those little shrug sweaters for her. At least she finally wore the leg warmers we got her for Christmas... although, with as cold as the room was she didn't have much of a choice.

Okay... I'm off to get ready!


Friday, January 25, 2008

happy friday!

Part of the reason my friday was a happy one, was the arrival of the box below...
One really fun thing about being a Memory Maker Master this year is that you never know when a fun little box of scrapping goodies might be delivered to your door. Today's surprise was a box of fun stuff from Autumn Leaves! I meant to take a picture of what was in there but apparently I got distracted and never did it. I've been doing more hybrid projects lately so its fun to have this stuff to play with.

Other than that... you can catch up with what we did all afternoon here.

Well... I'm all rambled out at the moment so I'm heading to bed!


Thursday, January 24, 2008

a pressman's hat...

This is what Alex made during lunch...They love to look at the paper and he was thrilled to find this in the Trib....
But how do you think he *really* feels about me taking his picture in his hat while he's eating lunch?
We worked on a big school project... you can read about it here, if you want.

I really really wanted to go today and see the Maps exhibit at the Field Museum before it ends this weekend. However, the kids wanted nothing to do with that. Today was our first day to not have some activity outside of the house and they were perfectly content staying home all day. Ultimately, that was the best for us as shortly after I was sulking about not going to the Field, I had to go out and walk the dog. Ummm..... -4 degrees out.... I think that constitutes a good stay at home day.

Meg... Alex would love to see Tom's lego creations... I'll check your blog for them. I'll ask Alex about the actual chess pieces and see if I can't figure out their system. I think the pawns are the ones that are sitting and the king and queen were standing on a stack of legos to make them taller... other than that... I have no clue. :-)

Well... dishes are calling me... yuck!


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

total blank...

why oh why is it so hard for me to come up with post titles these days?

Anyway... this will be a short post... I really didn't want to post at all! :-) I currently have met most of my deadlines so I feel little or no need to procrastinate by updating my blogs! LOL! Plus, I'm tired, the kids have been in bed for nearly an hour (they were TIRED!).... and I'm home alone (well... except for the sleeping kids) in a CLEAN house! Woo hooo! I also have 3 episodes of Ghost Hunters recorded so I have a variety of episodes to choose from... life is good. Oh... I also have new hair! I finally got my hair cut and highlighted today (I know... I'm pretty up on these things since my last haircut was in OCTOBER!).

Okay... on to my photo of the day...
Lego Chess (have you noticed the abundance of lego pictures in my posts?). Alex is absolutely obsessed with legos and he likes to play chess... so what better combination than Lego Chess. They built all of the pieces themselves and they did a great job. However, I think they are the only two who can keep the pieces straight (and I'm not sure they were even doing that well given some bickering I heard going on during the game).

Okay... that's it for me! Maybe I'll be back to my usual rambling self tomorrow!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008


How's that for a post title? I'm running out of things to use as titles!

Here's my photo of the day....
This is how I found Clara's handwriting book and pencil when we took our break for lunch. Apparently her webkinz pug doubles as a pencil holder.

Speaking of pugs... can I just tell you that my children are OBSESSED with pugs?? Especially Alex. He is absolutely desperate to own one. He's even saving his money for one (if he doesn't get the itch to buy more legos first). We thought getting Alex this pug-a-day calendar was a good idea until we realized that he will not throw the pages away. He plans to keep them all. Thankfully, for now they're all in his desk drawer.

In other news... Clara had her "show" day today at her gymnastics class. They performed their routines and received medals at the end of class. Jeff got to come too which was nice... Alex was playing at a friend's house (which was also nice).

Here's Clara on the balance beam....
Okay... with that... I'm heading to bed.


Monday, January 21, 2008

a warm haven...

on a cold winter day.

Alex had a homeschool science class today at the Nature Museum. So while he was class, my friend from our homeschool group and I took her younger daughter and Clara through the museum.

We started in the butterfly haven. This is always a bit hit with Clara. We also happened to be there at the right time to catch the butterfly release.

This one wasn't from the release....It looks a lot like the one that landed on my head and decided to hang out there for a while.

Alex LOVED the class... proclaiming that it was "AWESOME"! Perhaps that had something to do with the fact that they were making things explode when we came in at the end of class.

From there we had to head straight to Alex's cooking class. Tonight he made chicken and dumplings and apple pie... yummy stuff! He loves that class. And can you believe that there were 5 boys in his class tonight and one girl?? Alex worried that he would be the only boy in the class when we first signed up this past summer. Looks like he worried for nothing.

Okay... Jeff's finally on his way home from work, so I'm going to run!


Sunday, January 20, 2008

end of the weekend....

... I hate it when the weekend ends too soon! I still have so much to do!

First off... here's my photo of the day...
Clara (who should have been asleep) just came upstairs and presented Jeff and I with this piece of art. She got a notebook full of scratch art paper for Christmas. It's a picture of Jeff and me (in case you couldn't tell). She spelled "love" all by herself. I just had to take a picture even if the crappy lighting I was dealing with didn't do it justice. I might try again tomorrow with natural light.

Besides the Bull's game... our big excitement this weekend was booking our flights for a trip to Hawaii in April. The kids are sooooo excited!!! My parents are taking us on this trip... we're doing one of the island cruises. So, if anyone has any must see spots... I would love to know! The day excursion options got a little overwhelming.

I hate that this is another short post, but I still have so much to do that needs to get shipped out tomorrow so I'm going to run.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

quick post...

... and then off to bed.

Just a quick photo of the day to show you what kept us out so late tonight...Apparently Saturday night is sports night in our family since tonight we went to the Bulls game, last Saturday was the Loyola Men's Volleyball match and the week before that was the Blackhawks game (and, yes Jen... at least one member of our family was rooting for Detroit... sometimes two - Clara has a tendency to flip!).

Okay... I'm beat!


Friday, January 18, 2008

outfit-of-the-day 01.18.08

I think that's what I'm going to have to rename this project... at least for this week anyway!

Another new shirt and another photo shoot... Clara insisted. Today was bright enough (I use that term loosely) that I only had to shoot at an ISO of 1600!!! Wooo hooo... break out the sunglasses. Sorry... dark winter days frustrate me when I want to take pictures.
For variety, she's on our dining room table in front of our front windows. I haven't printed pictures of her in a while... I may print this one.

Today was wrapped up in meeting some deadlines for Memory Makers. It was also partially spent on the phone, figuring out what class(es) I might teach at the Great American Scrapbook Convention in Grand Rapids this summer. I need to do that soon so we can get my classes on the roster (deann... I need to speak with you!).

Oh... the above photo I'm not really counting as my photo for today. The ones I'm really considering as today's photos, I'm not ready to post yet. I'm thinking about scrapping them and when I do, I'll post them here.

I got my February issue of Memory Makers Magazine today. I have a layout in the page essentials article but my technique layout didn't make it in... you can see it here though (third one down).

Okay... I'm going to go and see what my family is up to!


Thursday, January 17, 2008

I have a new willing model!

Clara got some new clothes the other day and I adore the shirt she chose to wear today. I asked if we could take some pictures.... she agreed. I could not for the life of me figure out why the dog got so excited when I got out my camera. She followed me around and would sit right in front of me with her ears perked up... staring at the camera. Clara kept laughing and saying that Friday wanted her picture taken. So, I humored her and took a picture. Later it dawned on me. The other night when Friday was my photo-of-the-day... I had to say the word "treat" to get her to perk up her ears. Wanting to follow through with that bribe... I went to get her a treat. I couldn't find any, so I went for her favorite thing in the world... peanut butter. I think she was looking for more peanut butter today!

Finding light in our house on dreary winter days is really really hard. So today I propped Clara up on the Welsh Dresser we have by our front windows. I still had to shoot at an ISO of 3200 in order to get the exposure right.

Here's Clara laughing about the dog...
and one of her looking surprised after the window made a noise when she leaned on it...
I finally broke down and purchased Neat Image for my mac. I had it on my pc but I had gone the last few months without a noise reduction program. But after shooting today at 3200, I decided it was time to just do it.

I'm having a little photography identity crisis (for lack of better term) again. For the past 3-4 months I've had a few low key photography projects going on... one for a resort we stayed at this past summer, one for the Midnight Circus and another for Clara's dance studio. I love the projects and I'm content while doing them... they're so low key though that I didn't think I'd really miss them when they were gone. Well... as of this week... they're basically all wrapped up... leaving me photography project-less (well, two are over and one is moving at a very slow pace). I'm not sure what to do about this. I don't want a full fledged business... I have too much other stuff going on... but I would love another project or two. Hmmmm..... sorry... I started rambling there.

Oh... speaking of photos... I've started a little project with my photo-a-day photos... I blogged about it on the Memory Makers Masters blog. I love the templates and elements that Two Sisters (Emily and Angela Powers) and Lanne from Once Upon a Storyboard have come up with for the photo-a-day thing.

Okay, I'm going to go get the dinner dishes cleaned up!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

the 10 cent store

Today the kids played store.... more about that here.

Today was rather uneventful... still behind on deadlines, so I scrapped away today. I wish I could post what I did.... but I can't... sigh. Soon I'm going to scrap something that I can actually post here!

Okay... I'm really, really boring today so I'm going to bed!


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

the pile keeps growing...

Above are the books that I am either actively reading or have entered our house in the past week or so and I plan to read soon. Much like my "to do" list, its beginning to overwhelm me.

So, here they are from the top down...

Don Quixote by Cervantes
I haven't actually started this. I bought it to read after reading The Well Educated Mind (further down in the list). She suggests that you read for a bit first thing in the morning... BEFORE checking email.... somehow I always forget and go straight for the email. Old habits are hard to break... sigh.

Terrorist by John Updike
As some of you know... Jeff and I have our own bookclub... just the two of us. Every year we each pick out 4 or 5 books and buy two copies each. We always exchange our books on Christmas Eve after the kids have gone to bed. I love to read but I have a tendency to be picky about what I read. I refuse to slog through a book that I don't enjoy (perhaps reading Don Quixote will help me with that). So, this means that I have never read all of the books from our book club yet. I even give up on my own selections! So, this book is from our 2007 book club. I read every other book plus at least 10 others last year... but I was avoiding this one. Quite frankly... I have problems reading a book called Terrorist. Couple that with the fact that when I was supposed to be reading it (when Jeff was reading it) we were flying to Disney World and a few weeks later Jeff and I were flying to Paris without the kids. I have a hard time staying sane on an airplane as it is... I didn't need to throw this book into the mix. By the time the trips were done, Jeff had moved on to the next book in our club, so I happily moved on as well.

Then a few weeks ago, when Jeff and I exchanged our books for 2008, I decided to be a big girl and finally read the book. Its okay.... its not freaking me out like I thought it might. However, I really don't like Updike's writing style. Too descriptive to me... and goofy descriptions (in my opinion). I don't need to know that this guy's tongue looks like a thick worm when he talks or another guy's mouth looked like a tight bud of flesh when he closed it. Ick. But I will get through it and I will complete all books from 2007 (even if it is 2008 now).

The Well Educated Mind by Susan Wise Bauer
Still working my way through this one. I'm going to attempt the Great Books list as outlined in the book.... but I'm not sure I can keep the journal like it suggests. We'll see. I have to actually start reading Don Quixote... which I appear to be having problems with.

Complete Candida Yeast Guidebook by Jeanne Marie Martin
This one I'm skimming but need to read more in depth. Clara had a huge nasty outbreak of eczema after her last round of antibiotics when she had pneumonia at Christmas. A friend suggested that I look into yeast as the cause. We did the informal spit test and she tested positive. So now we're looking into this to get her back on track. I've gotten rather big on treating the cause of things rather than the symptoms. I'm not sure what we'll use out of here if anything... but I'm reading to find out.

Learning to See Creatively by Bryan Peterson
This one just arrived the other day and I haven't had time to really look at it yet. I love Bryan Peterson's books so I can't wait to go through it!

These two just arrived yesterday from Memory Makers...

Scraptastic by Ashley Calder

Scrap Simple by Hillary Heidelberg

This is one of the big perks of being a Memory Makers Master... getting all of these great design books. I can't wait to sit down and look through these!

And finally...

Story of the World: Activity Book 1 by Susan Wise Bauer
I'm considering following The Well Trained Mindfor homeschooling next year so I've been reading this to see if I think it's doable for us (and I think it is!).

Whew! I think that's it!

Monday, January 14, 2008

the queen of hearts....

... the illustrated version.

Today after we were done with our main school stuff the kids started begging to "do art". So we got our Atelier Homeschool Art program and started the next project. They were supposed to create an "action strip" based on the nursery rhyme The Queen of Hearts. We read the nursery rhyme, we even acted it out (I got to be the King since he was the one who did the "scolding"... lol!). Then the kids drew four pictures to tell the story. They both did really well! However, since I tend to take more pictures of Clara... Alex has the honor of being photo-of-the-day today. I'll post more pictures and details about our project on my homeschool blog tomorrow.

Alex had cooking tonight (I love Mondays!). Today he made Tempura Vegetables and Sesame Chicken... yum! I just fixed some fried rice and we had dinner!

My routine is all out of whack. Jeff's still out of town but I'm out of recorded episodes of Ghost Hunters. I tried watching an episode of Mythbusters last night, but it just wasn't the same... sigh.

So, I'm going to go to bed and read (which I still need to post about my books!).


Sunday, January 13, 2008

I should really stop...

waiting until 11pm to take my photo of the day... sigh.

I had myself talked out of taking any photos today... that it was okay to miss a day here and there. But then I reminded myself that it is only the 13th of January and that there's a whole lot of the year left. I'm sure there will be other days where taking a photo legitimately isn't going to happen... today I was just being lazy.

So, here it is...
... not a great photo but the only subject I had in my house that was still awake. This picture makes me sad though... our puppy girl is getting old and you can really see it here. She'll be eleven in March. She's doing great (just had her check-up a week or so ago) but she's still getting old.

Today was uneventful. The kids played and I worked on some things I had been avoiding for quite some time. My "to do" list is still a mile long but at least its a bit shorter than what it was when I started today.

I need to blog about the books I'm reading... but I always start my post too late in the evening and I just want to go to bed. Maybe tomorrow, if I get through another chunk of my list I'll do my little book report I've been itching to do.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

who knew....

That there were so many different ways to serve a volleyball?

There's this...
or this...
and then, there's this...
LOL! Tonight we went to our old neighborhood to watch the Loyola Men's Volleyball team play. We went with some friends from that neighborhood. Alex won the raffle and got to go play the game they had down on the court between games. He had to serve volleyballs while his friend tried to catch them in the rolling basket thing. Needless to say, they lost the game, but they played hard and had a great time. Alex was basking in the glow of being a celebrity for a little while... since people would tell him how good he did when he would walk past.

It was a great night... the kids had a blast. I think the best part for them was running the track between games. There's a running track above the court.... between games they would go up there and run laps. I had two very tired kids by the time we got home!Okay... I'm sleepy so I'm heading to bed!