Monday, January 31, 2011

sunday...

Sunday was a good day. We started out the morning at church. It was crazy!! Our church is tearing down part of it's building in order to build a bigger facility in that space. But what they are tearing down is where most of the children's Sunday School rooms were housed. It was a confusing morning trying to find out where Clara went (Alex knew where he was supposed to go) and where we would pick them up from choir. Lots of our usual pathways have been blocked off and rerouted so it was a little like being trapped in a maze for a while! :-)

After we picked them up from choir, Jeff dropped Alex and I off in the loop. Alex was trying the Dance for Musical Theater Master Class (sounds more imposing than it is... it's really just a "feeler" class to gauge the interest level to see if it's something they might want to add to the schedule). Alex LOVED it... he had so much fun! The fact that the class was nearly half boys added to that as well. One of the boys in the class is the older brother of one of the girls who was in Miracle with Alex. When I heard about the class, I sent the info on to the mom... thinking that her son might be interested. He loved the class as well! The mom and I had a nice time catching up too. We had talked about having a "photography playdate" sometime, so we both brought our cameras to play with. We didn't do too much playing since we didn't leave the building.... it was too cold out plus it was too much fun sneaking peeks at the boys throughout the class.

No real reason to post this photo, other than it's a shot I took yesterday as we played with manual settings on our cameras...

At the end of the class, the parents could come in to watch the kids perform the dance they had been working on. I contemplated taking photos, but I decided that I should probably just sit back and enjoy the show! I'm really hoping that this turns out to be a regular class on the schedule!

After dropping us off, Jeff and Clara went to get Alex's ski boot repaired and have lunch. They finished up just as Alex did and were able to swing by to get us.

Since they had skied all day on Saturday, our weekly family night got postponed until Sunday night. It was Clara's pick, and she decided that we should play Disney's Guilty Party (have I mentioned how much we enjoy that game?).

Here she is, all set up and ready to go... but since no one else appeared to be ready, she started reading ski brochures they had picked up at the ski store....
Since it was Clara's night to pick the activity, Alex got to pick the treat from our stash of theater size candies. He picked tropical Mike 'n Ikes....
We're halfway there....
.... I was still taking a couple of photos and Jeff was watching the tail end of the Michigan State game.

Finally, we started the game....
We finished the "story" last night, so now we're going to go back and start playing party mode.

Love, love, love that family night is back into our routine!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

more skiing...

Yesterday Jeff took the kids to Wisconsin again to go skiing. They had the option of going to Alpine Valley with friends, but, in the end, they decided to go to Devil's Head. They really enjoy going with friends, but they said, that this once, they wanted to go and just ski together. With Clara in school now, they don't spend as much time together and it just melted my heart to know that they still wanted special time together! Jeff said that they had a blast and were BFF's all day... as a parent, what more could you want? (I'm ignoring the fact that they were fighting so bad the night before that we threatened to cancel the trip :-)

Here are my two squinting kids....
.... unloading and getting ready to hit the slopes! Like Alex's new coat? We found it at a resale shop last week on clearance for something like $22.

Not sure what's going on in these two photos....

I think from what Jeff told me, they were backing up to take a photo together when Alex lost his balance and fell....
so, Clara just decided to have a seat as well....
And finally, a video.... a couple of interviews about their day of skiing...

video

I think they ended up skiing close to 7 hours... they were an exhausted but very happy crew when they got home.

(And I'm a very lucky gal who has a husband who doesn't grumble when I shove several forms of electronics at him so he can document the day for me!) :-)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

days 27 and 28....

I'm not sure what happened yesterday... I never did get my post done! So, maybe I won't end up posting every day, but often enough to keep my momentum up.

Day 27...
... I wish I could say that this was just a particularly messy day in Clara's room... but sadly, this was a rather neat day :-) She had no school the next day so, although she had to be in her room, she didn't have to be in bed. I came in to say "goodnight"... and this is what I found. Clara playing with her American Girl dolls... beds made with their pj's laid out... fixing their hair. She is growing up so fast in so many ways, but it makes me so glad to see that she's still my little girl, playing with dolls.

Day 28....
... Clara didn't have school yesterday, so after lunch we went to Macy's on State so she could look at dresses for the daddy daughter dance next weekend. Jeff and I had bought a couple already for her to try on (thankfully they're returnable)... but she just didn't love either of them. Pickings were getting slim on the holiday dress clearance racks, so I wasn't sure if we would find anything any better. Well.... she did. She found the dress that she is totally in love with. She told me later that she loved it so much that she just couldn't stop looking at herself in it!! I snapped the photo above with my point and shoot (flash off) as she tested the "twirliness" of it. With only three other stops, we were able to find the perfect shoes AND the perfect jewelry to go with the perfect dress. Now my only other quandaries are tights and hair. What color tights? White? And I am so not good at hair! I totally had to talk her out of a tiara that she wanted to wear with the dress. I've been googling ideas, but they've all seemed too complicated. Oh well... we'll think of something.

Today I'm home alone again (well, except for the dogs). Jeff took the kids to WI to ski for the day again. Just got a text and they're having a blast! I'm fully enjoying my day of not having to go ANYwhere.... but I'll be glad when they're back home!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

day 26...

I really don't know what to say about this one. I rarely go in the kids' bathroom, but yesterday I did, and this is what I found...

Day 26...
.... part of me wants to know what's going on... but another part of me thinks that it's better off that I'm not involved. Apparently the toothpaste collection is Clara's and Alex is NOT to use ANY of them... but why in the world does Clara have three things of toothpaste? And why can't Alex use them? Hmmmmm......

Yesterday was a really good day. Last night after Clara's dance class we went out to eat with her friend and her mom. Three years ago, every Wednesday night (or at least every other one), the kids and I would go to this neighborhood diner for dinner after Clara's dance class. Clara's friend and her family would do the same. However, we didn't know each other at the time. Several different groups rented space where the girls danced... and although they danced in the same building at the same time, they were not with the same group. By the end of that school year, the diner had stopped being open for dinner and we all had to find a new routine. The next school year, Clara and her friend started dancing together and we figured out that we all used to have the same Wednesday night routine and wished that it still worked out. Fast forward to Saturday, when I get an excited text from the mom... the diner is now open for dinner again! We decided to go for it this Wednesday and all had dinner together. It's nothing fancy.... but it's one of those family owned neighborhood places where they treat you like you're part of the family. It was so nice to be back!

While we were there, Jeff was off to his new activity! He just joined the neighborhood men's basketball league that meets at Clara's school! It's a low pressure league so it can work with his random work/travel schedule (that's has always been what has stopped him from joining a league). He really enjoyed himself, but came home exhausted. He's looking forward to making this a regular thing.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

day 25

I realized last night that I had not taken a photo for the day and I also realized that I did not have any camera with me other than my phone. So here you go....

Day 25...
Living in the city can be expensive.... and for kids, there are soooo many high priced activity options out there. Yesterday was a very good example of the many great low/no cost activities for kids here. Alex started out his evening at his park district sports class. It is ridiculously cheap... $14 for the whole term (Jan-Mar). It meets once a week and sometimes even twice a week. The coaches are really great... fun, supportive, knowledgeable. And, as an added bonus, there is a really good group of kids in the class. This is the class that participates in all of the different tournaments... he loves it! I sure wish we would have tried it out sooner. Last night I knew I was going to be late picking him up so we talked to the coach and he was able to stay for the next class (same class, just next age group up). He had a blast!! They played flag football. He was red, sweaty, and worn out when I picked him up.

When I picked him up, we were off to grab a quick dinner before his next activity... junior book club at the library. This is free. We did this a couple of years ago and he loved it.... last year it just didn't work into our schedule and this year, I just completely forgot about it. A few weeks ago we ran into one of Alex's friends from book club who asked him why he hadn't been coming and told him, rather excitedly, about their current book (A Crack in the Sky). We stopped by the library later that week, picked it up, and rejoined book club. He loves to read, and he really loves having someone to discuss the book with. We discovered so many great books during our previous year in book club, he's excited to see what we find now that we're back.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

days 20-24

This group of photos has been a struggle to pick out. Being a perfectionist most of the time with my photos, I have had a tough time picking the best project photo versus the best technical photo. In the selection process, I had to remind myself about what I said at the very beginning... this year my focus is family and I want the photos to best represent our family on that day, which means that quite a bit of the time, the photo will not be the "best" photo taken that day.

day 20...
... I ended up choosing this one over the photos from Clara's parent observation. It was a tough decision for me. In the end, it came down to the fact that this was a more significant event for Alex. He tried something new and went out there and did it! He competed in a wrestling tournament after just three weeks of instruction... it took guts. He lost rather soundly in the first round... but that doesn't diminish his accomplishment of having the confidence to go out there and give it a shot.

day 21...
... Clara and her friend celebrating the last day of the first semester of ballet! I didn't bring my big camera that night so I used my point and shoot that I carry in my purse. My first year I attempted project{365}, I got entirely too hung up on the fact that I thought I needed to take all of my photos with my big camera. I'm glad I'm over that now... or I would have missed the fun shot of the girls above.

day 21...
... Family Game Night! Clara was still recuperating, so we started family night early so she could be in bed by 8:00. I love that we're trying to get back into our regular Family Night routine. I'm also pleased that we're playing more games versus just watching movies together. It's fun to talk and joke around as we play.

day 23....
.... okay, this was the really tough one to pick. Technically it's horrible! It's dark, grainy, blurry and the color cast is off (plus I LOVE another photo I took that day)..... BUT... it's us, as a family, hanging out, watching the game... real life. It's what we did... together... that afternoon... when it came down to it, regardless of the technical imperfections, it was the perfect photo for this project.

day 24....
... the girls after ballet. And some days, I realize late in the evening that I don't have a photo yet and take a quick snap (I did have my big camera this time). I could have had them pose for me, but instead, I tried not to intrude and just capture what they were up to after class had ended.

Monday, January 24, 2011

the weekend...

Not a whole lot to report about our weekend to be honest. Friday night Clara coughed all night long so we decided to lay low on Saturday. She didn't go to her make-up ballet class or have her playdate with her friend like we had planned. She really just needed to stay home and rest so she can finally get over this crud. Alex had his young ensemble group for a few hours that afternoon and was so excited to be back! Saturday night was family game night again and a photo from that will eventually be my photo of the day. We played Pay Day and then a round of Disney's Guilty Party on the wii (we love that game.. well, the kids and I more than Jeff).

Sunday was church. While the kids stayed for choir, Jeff and I went to Macy's to look for dresses for Clara. On Saturday, Jeff picked up tickets for him, Clara and her friends (and their dads) to all go to a Daddy/Daughter Valentine's Dance next month! The girls are sooooooo excited to get all dressed up and go dancing! Clara has never really had a fancy party dress before so we thought now might be a good time to get her one.... she has the occasion to wear it and the holiday dresses are on clearance right now. We picked out a couple to bring home and try on... now for her to make a decision so we can return the other dress.

Once we got home, the kids got into their Chicago Bears gear...
See the hope and excitement on their faces? :-)

Clara and I went off to her Sunday ballet class as the game was starting...
.... that is the one and only photo I took there. They're usually in the big, front studio, but yesterday they started out in the small, back studio. You can't tell it really because I shot this with my wide angle lens... but I was really close to them. So, me hanging out by the door with my camera was a big distraction. I took this shot and then moved to the couch to chat with the moms.

When Clara and I got home, we settled in to watch the game with the boys....
... this is the view from my seat (please forgive the extremely grainy photo).... Clara toes, Mango ears, Jeff's back, and a blurry, fidgety Alex. He did NOT take the loss well.... and spent some time flailing around on the floor after it was over.

We got everyone to bed early another night so we would all be ready to start the week!

Happy Monday! :-P

Sunday, January 23, 2011

wrestling...

This year we have found this great park district class where the kids learn different sports throughout the term. Not only is the class itself great, but so is the coach and the other kids in the class.

They started out this term working on wrestling so they could prepare for a park district wrestling tournament. Last Thursday, while I was at Clara's parent observation, Jeff was with Alex at the regional (area?... I can't remember) tournament.

Here he is, waiting in the stands....
And practicing with his coach and teammates...
Then it was time to go for real...

... and as quickly as it began, it was over. He lost in his first round.... but that was okay. He has such a great coach and teammates that they got him through it.

He did end up with a medal...
... third place (there were only three in his weight class). He was pretty proud of it... not because of his "third place" finish... but because he got out there, tried something new and wrestled in his first "official" tournament! I love that he's so willing to put himself out there and that he keeps trying new stuff. He can't wait until this week to see what sport is next!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

parent observation day... the photos...

And here are some of the photos I took that day....








I wasn't sure about balancing both still photos and video by myself... but I think I got an ample amount of each. The next night I didn't take my big camera (I hadn't really planned on staying), but I still had my flip and the point and shoot in my purse. I have an obnoxious amount of video from that night... not sure that I'll post it as it's a lot of the same from the last video. I did take some snapshots after class so I do have a photo of the day from that day!

Friday, January 21, 2011

parent observation day... the videos...

This week is parent observation week where Clara takes dance. We missed class on Tuesday, since she was sick, so I have no video or photos of her character class. However, I was able to stay last night and took photos of videos of ballet and jazz.

This isn't the most exciting video... it's mainly of barre work. I took it mainly for Clara's own reference later. I think she'll be able to appreciate her progress in dance a little better if she can see where she used to be.
video
(it amuses me that Clara is nearly always a half beat behind)

And now... jazz...
video
They all really enjoy this class. They have it just once a week. Clara was running out of steam by this point... but she still hung in there!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

days 16-19

Day 16....
... the boy and his friend at Cascade Mountain.

Day 17....
... the girl and her friend on the lift at Devil's Head.

Day 18....
... the boy and his Starbucks (Caramel Apple Spice). This is part of our usual routine after his sports class. We can either ride the L home or walk (right at a mile). If he chooses to walk, we grab a Starbucks to keep us warm on the way home :-) This night we walked there AND home... but the drink offer is only good on the way home.

Day 19...
... the girl was home sick from school.... again! The kids spent the afternoon playing board games together. At this point they were playing Smath. It's like Scrabble but you're making math equations instead of words. Things got pretty heated at times, but they did get through the game without tears or physical blows. After this, they switched to Pay Day and there was much less drama. This isn't a great photo... but I love how the wide angle shot tells the story of the day... the game, Clara's box of Kleenex, and Alex reading the Scholastic Books order form. That was our afternoon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

skiing weekend...

Last weekend was one of those weekends where plans just spiraled out of control.... but in a good way! The original plan was to go skiing with Clara's friend and her family on Monday.... then Jeff got an email from Alex's friend's dad to see if they wanted to go skiing on Sunday. That was all good. Then I suggested to Jeff that he and Alex just spend the night in WI Sunday night instead of driving back and forth. Jeff then asks if Clara could just come along too on Sunday instead of just going on Monday. We got Alex's seal of approval since it was his outing with his friend that she would be tagging along on. I spoke to Clara's friend's mom about the new plan and she decided that they would join them later on Sunday and spend the night as well!! And this new plan left me home alone :-)

So, Jeff and the kids loaded the car on Saturday evening so they could be on the road between 6:00 and 6:30 am Sunday morning. Their plan was to meet their friends and be on the slopes by 10am.

It was crowded....
But they still had a really great time! Jeff tried to take some video that day, but there were just too many red and pink jackets so what little video he took, ended up being of random people in red and pink jackets, so he gave up. :-)

He did take several photos for me though!

The boy and his friend....
They used to be on swim team together (in fact they met in swim lessons a few years ago). They don't get together as much as they would like due to their schedules, but they had such a great time skiing/snowboarding together, that plans are already in the works for another outing.

The boy, his friend and his friend's dad....
Around lunchtime, Clara's friend and her family showed up. Here are the girls at lunch....
... Alex, on the other hand, never stopped skiing long enough to have lunch.

The girls getting ready to leave the slopes so they could swim at the hotel....
... Alex was exhausted and hungry at this point as well. So, they all headed back to the hotel to swim in the pool and have pizza. Around this time, I got the opportunity to meet my friend out at a coffee shop and then we went for a two+ hour browse through the used book store! Such a nice outing for me!

Clara ended up spending the night with her friend in their hotel room.

The next morning everyone was out on the slopes early....
.... even without their skis apparently!!




Due to bad weather in Wisconsin, they didn't get home until dinner time. And now we're paying for it a bit since Clara came home from school yesterday with a fever and is home again today. However, they had such a great time, that I believe she would say that it was worth it! :-)