Friday, October 31, 2008

this is halloween....

(that song is trapped in my head)
The kids doubled up on their school work this week so they would have nothing left to do today but their weekly math tests.

So, today has been full on Halloween Madness!!!

We've watched the Michael Jackson Thriller video on YouTube, we've made lots of decorations for our house and we've learned The Time Warp dance.

We've had a blast! I hope tonight holds more of the same!

Okay... we've got to head out to violin in a bit... what are the chances Clara will actually be able to focus on her lesson? :-)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

she cooperated...

Can you believe it? Clara actually cooperated with me for a photoshoot this afternoon. I may actually get some portraits printed for the grandparents after all!

I will tell you... although I LOVE this photo of Clara, it is not my favorite. I'm saving that one as a surprise for the grandparents. Once I get these printed and mailed off... I'll post my favorite one here. :-)

Now I just have to get a good one of the boy!


(grandparents... if you have any specific requests in regards to sizes and amounts, let me know ASAP as I'll be placing my order this weekend)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

why i rarely use...

... our point and shoot camera. Apparently I'm incapable of using it properly. I had flash "issues" today.

Anyway... here's my sad attempt at documenting our day...
I had great plans of documenting our trip the movie this afternoon. We decided to go and see High School Musical 3.... something Clara has been dying to do. I had grand plans of snapping a pic of the kids with the big giant movie poster or cast cut-outs. Well... we finally found them... they were all locked up in the theater's party room... sigh. As we were leaving, I got desperate and just decided to photograph them with the movie time listings.... but then I had flash issues. Oh well!

We had a great time! It's odd.... we hadn't been to the movie here in Chicago for the whole time we've been back (it will be two years in December since we've moved). Two weeks ago we decided on the spur of the moment to go see Beverly Hills Chihuahua. It was so much easier than I thought it was to get to the theater! So, now we may make going to the movies a regular cold weather activity. At the time we go, we practically have the theater to ourselves. There were only 6 other people in the theater with us! The movie itself was a lot of fun... the kids really enjoyed it! Clara was sad that this was the last of the High School Musical movies though. I have to admit that I am too. I love a fun musical movie! I was surprised that it was 2 hours long!

We walked out of the theater and right onto a bus for the second time in a row! I can't believe I thought getting there and back would be so hard. Now I know, I guess!

Okay... I'm off to bed!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008


We're still here!

The stomach bug that's been going around finally caught up with Clara and me on Sunday.... ugh. It was a rough couple of days, but we're through it!!! Yay!!

I hadn't taken any photos until today.

We worked with our simple machines kit again today for school...
(you can read more here if you're interested)

And while we worked on our kit, we saw this guy out on our deck...(excuse the poor photo it was taken through a screen AND my extremely dirty sliding glass door)

He was trying to bury his stale hot dog bun in our planter, but as soon as he spied us watching him, he decided that we just might dig the thing up for a snack this winter and moved it to some unknown location! :-)

Okay... I'm off to bed!


Saturday, October 25, 2008

deja vu

Recognize these costumes??? :-)

Today Clara's friend from dance invited her and Alex to her school's Halloween party tonight. Clara really wanted to wear her Tinkerbell costume, but I convinced her to wear last year's costume instead. I just would have hated if something would have happened to her new costume before Halloween night. We tend to get our money's worth out of our costumes this way. :-)

Anyway, they're off at the party so Jeff and I were able to have dinner out... alone! It was a nice surprise evening out for us.

Well... nothing else exciting went on here (unless you count the Michigan State v. Michigan football game)... so I'm going to stop before I start to ramble and get the kids' stuff ready so we can get them in bed ASAP when they get home (which should be in the next hour).


Friday, October 24, 2008


Yesterday, Clara officially turned SEVEN!!! I can hardly believe it.

We took the day off to celebrate her big day.

Here, she is on our way to the L stop....
It amuses me that she worked on her outfit the night before... choosing the perfect tights and shirt... but when we went out the door, she threw Alex's old hoodie on as her jacket.

Our first stop was the L station to get her fare card. In Chicago, kids ride free until age 7... then they can get a reduced fare card. You don't get them out of the machines, you have to ask the attendant for one. Clara has been coveting Alex's fare card for a while now. Yesterday she walked up to the attendant, told her that today was her 7th birthday and may she please have a fare card! The CTA attendant was fabulous... making a big deal about and wishing her a very Happy Birthday. The Red Eye guy and several CTA patrons wished her Happy Birthday as she went to the kiosk to add fare money to her new card.

She's a card carrying seven year old now...(who was annoyed with me for wanting a photo)

We left the L station to get on the bus to Michigan Avenue.

I think this was her doll Kit's first bus ride...
Soon we were at the brand new American Girl Place at Water Tower. We had been peeking into the windows for a while now, but we had waited until her birthday to actually go in.

We started with lunch in the cafe...
They brought her a cake with a candle and sang Happy Birthday...
After lunch we shopped since she had birthday money to spend and while we shopped, Kit got her hair done at the salon...After the American Girl store, we stopped in the Lush store inside Macy's for Clara to pick out a special birthday bath bomb. She was wearing her birthday sticker from the AG store so they made a big deal out of her birthday there too (we're there entirely too often). They let her pick her favorite bath bomb and do the demo. They called everyone in the store around and told them that Birthday Girl, Clara, would be demoing her favorite bath bomb today!

She was quite the celebrity!

We finally hopped in a cab home, exhausted from our shopping. But before we could get too comfortable, we had to take the dog to the vet. She has an ear infection, that we knew. What we didn't expect was for them to find a heart murmur. They're not too concerned at the moment. We go back for her check-up in January so they'll see what's going on then. The vet was very sweet and let Clara listen to Friday's heart (Clara claims that she wants to be a vet someday).

Then, we were finally home for good and Clara could play with her new purchase.

Kit's best friend, Ruthie...

Okay... time to run to violin!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

some body scream!

That was the name of the performance we attended today... (more details here, if you're interested)....
(please forgive the magenta color cast... I gave up tonight)

After the performance we went to a nearby cafe for lunch. The cafe has a bakery so the kids got to choose something for dessert. Mmmmmmm.... pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting... YUM!

Here's Clara with what she proclaimed as...Mt. Pumpkinest (like Mt. Everest... just out of a pumpkin cupcake!).

After that we came home, did school and hung out.

Tomorrow is a BIG day! Clara officially turns 7 tomorrow and we have a big day planned. I should have photos! :-)

But for now... I'm heading to bed!


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

much better

That's how Alex is feeling today.

So we spent the afternoon outside doing another nature study challenge...
You can read about it here if you're interested.

I have nothing else to report other than I tried a new recipe tonight. I got my new copy of Everyday Food in the mail yesterday and saw a recipe for Butternut Bisque. I made it tonight with biscuits and it was soooooo good! It was in their freezer article, so we ate some tonight and the rest went into the freezer for a quick meal later on! YUM!

Okay... I'm done! :-)

Monday, October 20, 2008

the workshop

Clara got a sewing machine for her birthday so my little elves were busy sewing away yesterday.

They had a system, Clara did the foot pedal and Alex moved the fabric...
Once Alex left for his guitar lesson, Clara was on her own...
They desperately wanted a project to work on and thankfully, before I could come up with something, they came up with something themselves. They decided to make a "quilt" by cutting patches out of fabric and sewing them to a big piece of fleece that they had. This was a perfect way to begin using the sewing machine and to learn how to control it a bit before tackling something that needed to be a little more precise.

Hmmm.... I remember as a kid they would have these printed fabrics that were ready to cut and sew together to make a pillow animal. I wonder if they still make those?

Today was an unusual day. We were supposed to go with friends to see the Midnight Circus but it was a rainy day here so we stayed home. We had a good morning of school work and a nice rainy day afternoon watching school movies. BUT.... without warning as we were walking out the door to go to Clara's dance... Alex blurts out that he's feeling sick and proceeds to run back into the house to throw up. Thankfully I was able to catch the mom of one of Clara's friends from dance before they made it to class and they swung by and picked up Clara on their way. I got Alex set up and comfortable on the couch and we watched a couple of shows on Ancient Egypt that I had recorded off of the History Channel. Clara's friend's mom called and asked if Clara could just home with them and they would feed her dinner before bringing her back home.... well twist my arm. Of course!

Alex managed to keep down ginger ale and saltines and was fever free... so I was thinking that this was just fallout from our weekend of excess... however, at bedtime, he started running a fever. Not a bad one, just 100, but a fever nonetheless.

Clara didn't get home until 7:15 which meant she was pretty much good to jump into the shower and head to bed. Thankfully she seems to feel okay.

I'm heading to bed in case I end up having to be up with Alex at some point during the night.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

a few from the party



Okay... yesterday was Clara's birthday party. She went to dance in the morning and Alex went to swim. When we got home, both sets of grandparents were here to have lunch and do family presents. She got some really cool stuff and played for a bit before we headed over to set up for her party.

Here's the party girl in her special outfit....
Once everything was set up, she started watching for guests to arrive...
When they did... they went to the craft room to make collars for their pets...
After that, the place became a complete zoo, crawling with kids (18 of them, I think.... YIKES!) so I took very few photos. I meant to, I really did.... but it just didn't happen. Clara proclaimed it the best birthday party ever! :-)

She had so much fun with her friends and got a ton of cool gifts (including lots of craft kits which will definitely help keep us entertained during the cold snowy days of winter which are in our future).

Last night the kids were so wiped out, so after dinner they took a nice long bubble bath and headed to bed. Clara crashed almost immediately.... Alex stayed up to finish another of the Spiderwick books.

Now.... backtracking a bit... Friday night was Alex's musical. He was so excited... I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. He did an incredible job (they all did). I was so proud of him! It was nice that the grandparents could be there along with some of our friends.

After the show, we had a private party room reserved at a nearby restaurant. It was so nice to be able to just hang out with family and friends. The kids had a great time camped out under the food table. We were all exhausted by the time we got home around 10:30(ish).

So.... although it was completely crazy.... we had a great weekend. The kids are playing with Clara's new toys - the Littlest Pet Shops are getting well at the Get Better Center, Clara is covered in glitter ballet tattoos, the Webkinz have been adopted and they're currently sewing up a storm with Clara's new sewing machine. :-)

I am off to the couch!

Friday, October 17, 2008


That's my boy as Moses!

Last night was the dress rehearsal, so I finally got to see the whole thing beginning to end. The kids did really really well.

Alex has to remember that his head mic is on at all times.... even when he's not on stage. There was an interesting little off-stage discussion about tap lights that was broadcast over the speakers last night. :-)

I left last night not so worried about tonight's performance.... they're all going to be great!

Here's one last photo. Here's Alex singing his solo up in the pulpit...
Okay... it's going to be a busy day... gotta run!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

i wish i had photos...

.... but I don't.

This week has been a blur and it's only getting worse (but in a good way... lol!).

Monday was great. We went on our playdate... the girls did crafts and the boys built with Legos. We left there and went straight to Clara's dance (and on to Alex's martial arts). We got all of Clara's info regarding their performance next month... very exciting. Clara ended up going home with a friend from dance to play while I waited for Alex to be done at martial arts.

Tuesday we went for a walk to the local bakery to order Clara's birthday cake for Saturday. It's not what I had in mind, but it's cute enough. That night was Alex's rehearsal for the musical he's in. It was the tech rehearsal. Clara and I ended up staying for a bit because I had been volunteered to sew the Red Sea (I can't really sew... but they said that anything woud do, thank goodness). Alex gave me a heart attack that night... he was coming down from the pulpit (Mt. Sinai) during a scene where the lights were down... a spotlight was supposed to be on him but being that it was their first night to rehearse with spotlights, it wasn't on him. He stepped out of the pulpit in the dark and instead of walking down the stairs, he fell out of the window type opening to the side and landed with a HUGE thud on the stage. I didn't see it happen as it was completely dark, I just heard it and then saw him laying there on the stage. He was stunned and embarassed... but thankfully, not hurt. I honestly think it took me longer to recover from the whole thing than it did him.

Yesterday was a rainy day... but we had to go out in it to get Clara's new violin bow. I was feeling rather spontaneous yesterday so as we were on the bus, I got out my phone and looked up the movie listings for the theater that was along that bus's route. I found out as we were just one stop away that Beverly Hills Chihuahua was starting in 10 minutes. I jumped up and told the kids "we have to get off now". Alex was sure that I had lost my mind and kept telling me that this was NOT our stop. We got off and they saw the theater across the street and were so surprised. We had a nice afternoon, in out of the rain, watching the movie with about 10 other people. The theater is only about a block from the bus we take home and when we came out of the theater... one pulled up that we walked right onto. I was really dreading going out but it turned out to be a really nice day for us.

Today has just been school in the morning and a quick trip to Party City at lunch. Now we're just waiting for my mom and dad to arrive!

Tonight is Alex's final rehearsal.... so I may take my camera tonight so I can just sit back and enjoy the show tomorrow night. Yikes! I can't believe the show is tomorrow!!!

Okay... I'm off... I may have photos later.

Monday, October 13, 2008

a weekend at family camp

***** Warning - Photo OVERLOAD*****

I have to admit, I wasn't really looking forward to our weekend at family camp. We had made a last minute decision to go based on Alex's need to get in a couple more rehearsals before the big show this Friday. I'm not always a big "camping" fan... plus I was feeling like we were just "too busy" to take a weekend away.

I am sooooo glad we went! We had an absolutely AMAZING time. We got to really connect with the other families from church. The kids got to actually run around and play with their friends from church and they even made new friends to boot.

We drove up early Saturday morning. Alex went straight to rehearsal and we went to put our stuff in our cabin...
After rehearsal, they had a kids' craft project on the beach (sand casting)... but the weather was too nice to stay dry... so soon all of the kids were in their suits and in the water...

After the beach we went back to the cabin to change.

Here's what I get when I try to get a "nice" photo of the two of them together...
We had lunch and then Alex ran off with a pack of boys to play while Clara headed to the playground with the girls.

Then.... we headed off to go apple picking!!!

Here's Clara showing off her Ida Red...
Alex and Clara (who is hiking up her pants... sigh) off on a hunt for the perfect apples to pick...
Clara and her loot...
Then it was off to the corn maze. We went through Phase 1 with them the first time...
For Phase 2, they hooked up with some kids from church and went without us. Clara was done after Phase 2, but Alex just kept on going. Every time he came out a new group of kids from church was going in, so he would go right on in with them.

We finally got him to go after reminding him of our next stop... apple cider and hot apple donuts...

... yum!

After getting back to camp the kids ran off in different directions. Alex was off with his friend Renee from choir and Clara with the pack of girls again. We were childless at dinner since they both ditched us to sit with their friends :-)

After dinner, they were off again... Alex to the beach with his friend to watch the sunset, skip stones and help build the bonfire. Clara was off playing in the cabin of one of her friends. Then it was time for the bonfire and s'mores! The kids hung around the bonfire for a bit of the singing and the marshmallows.... but after that they were off. They gave all of the kids glow necklaces, so the kids all ran and played on the beach in the dark with their glow necklaces.

Around 9 we rounded them up toward bed. Four families shared the same cabin. So even after all of that activity, the kids still weren't exactly ready for bed. Alex went across the hall to hang out with the boys from another family... they had some giant book of cool inventions (right up Alex's alley) and the girl from the room next to ours joined Clara on her bunk to play hangman and they're own little game of pictionary. Finally, the kids went to bed but us parents stayed up for a bit longer chatting and laughing.

Sunday morning was breakfast and then chapel. After chapel, Alex had rehearsal again. Clara's pack of girls played on the playground and then headed back down to the beach...
Alex's rehearsal ended right at lunch time so he was so disappointed that he hadn't been able to go to the beach too. After lunch they played with their friends on the playground until one by one they loaded up to go home.

Alex then remembered that we had promised him a trip to the beach... so for about half an hour, we played on the beach again...
Then it was time for.... ONE....
before heading home :-)

We really, truly couldn't have asked for a better weekend!

Ack... I've got to get showered! Schools are out here so the kids have been invited to the house of one Clara's dance friends from our old studio to build the Lego Eiffel Tower with her and her brother! The kids can't wait!

Friday, October 10, 2008

lesson day

Today was Clara's violin lesson. I decided to take my camera along. I look just a few photos. Clara is so serious during her lessons. In the photo above, her and her teacher are playing a duet. She really enjoys her lessons.

After violin we had to make a mad dash to the library to drop off a book I forgot to renew the other day and pay our fine. Alex also had three books on hold to pick up and I had a ton of books to pick out for a new project I'm working on (I'll blog about it soon on my homeschooling blog... long story short, Clara has decided that she would like her own program with assigned reading like Alex's program).

From there we made another mad dash home to drop off the violin and library books before heading to Clara's dance class. Clara wasn't so sure about this particular class but today it was all a different story. First off her instructor complemented her on my feeble attempt to put her hair up in two little nubby buns (last week they were "educated" on the proper hair for class). Second, she did some skill well that she had been working on and was placed on the front row with the older girls. She's definitely warming up to this class now. :-)

Tonight it's been chaos trying to get packed for family camp this weekend. We'll be leaving here around 6am... yay! I keep reminding myself of all of the potential photo ops and that helps get me through.

Before I leave, I'll post Clara's birthday invite since I think they've all gone out now...
details here

Okay... I'm off to finish packing and then to bed!

We'll be back in a couple of days!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

alley afternoon

That is beginning to be our theme for Thursdays!

After school, our neighbors called us to see if the kids wanted to play in the alley (they homeschool as well). So, around 2:30, we headed outside.

First order of business was to rebuild the ramp.

Clara still isn't too sure about it, but insists on doing it anyway...
It amuses me how her outfit usually matches her bike...
Alex looks a little concerned about the ramp as well...
Around 5:00, the younger ones all came to our house to play, while Alex and the older brother played outside for a while longer. By 5:30, everyone was back home... tired, happy and hungry.

Not a bad day, huh?

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

zoom zoom...

Today we played with cars for school...

... had a friend come over to play and had breakfast for dinner.

It was a good day! :-)

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

park day!

We've been trying to get outside as much as possible when the weather has been good... so this afternoon we met friends at the park for some playtime.

Clara and her friend had a great time playing with Clara's stuffed pug, Sarah....

and talking girl talk in the club house...Alex and "M" decided to swing with their eyes closed...
Honestly... that makes me queasy just thinking about it. But sadly, just simply swinging makes me queasy anymore... sigh.

Alex also discovered that he no longer has to stand on his tippy toes in order to reach this...
He's getting taller!

It began to sprinkle a bit so we all sought refuge in our house for a while longer. The kids got along so well today.

We had to head out for Alex's rehearsal tonight so we had to go back out into the rain. Alex got his beard tonight and had to wear it for the whole rehearsal. He said it was REALLY itchy... but we reminded him that for the actual musical he'll be wearing it for only about 45 minutes to an hour instead of the 2 hours of rehearsal.

While he was in rehearsal, Jeff, Clara and I had dinner and bought Clara a hat and a pair of gloves to go with her new winter coat. Nothing terribly exciting.

Tomorrow after school we've got to pick up the house since we have a friend and her daughter coming over to play! Fun stuff.

Okay... that's it for us.... nothing else newsworthy that I can remember!