Friday, March 30, 2012

blast from the past...

Yesterday was "blast from the past" day for spirit week. Clara decided to wear her poodle skirt again....

She has ended up wearing that thing a LOT... she wore it to her birthday party, to the school Halloween party, she wore it to school on Halloween, out trick-or-treating, to dance class and now for spirit week! I guess we got our money's worth out of it!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

an alex update...

Some phone photos of my boy's Wednesday this week.

With all of the fuss about Clara's spirit week, Alex decided to have Beatles Hair Day yesterday...
He decided to brush it all down so he looked more "mop top-ish".

When I picked him up from school, he was carrying this to show me...
He was one of about 15 people in his school who were given this award yesterday. About a month ago (I think), they had to do a project based on a hero within our community. Alex chose the youth pastor from church and did his project on him. They turned in their project for a grade, but they were also given to the ward alderman to judge. It was the alderman who picked the recipients for this award! He was pretty excited and proud!!! (and so was mom!)

This week is "boss level" at school. During boss level, the kids work with their homebases to complete a complex task. It's a lot of fun, but can also be very taxing. To release some pent up energy, they are also having a "march madness" kickball tournament. And this is what Alex's knees looked like after Wednesday's games...No holes though!! :-)

This last photo has nothing to do with Alex, it's just the Mango pup and her new favorite perch...
She has decided that she can see out the window much better if she's propped up on the top of my head!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

pj day!!

One of Clara's favorite days of spirit week...

... especially since that means that it's Dance-A-Thon Day!! :-)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

silly hat day and talent show...

Spirit week continues!

Even without the title up there, could you guess what today is?
Silly hat day, of course! This was purchased for her third (I think) birthday party and for a few years she wore it every year at her party to blow out the candles. Not sure where she found it... probably in her closet... half the house seems to be in her closet. I didn't get the chance to get a photo of her with my big camera, so this cell phone photo will have to do!

After she went to school, I ran home to get ready so I could go back to school to see the talent show!

Clara & Co. waiting to go on...
Clara...
The whole crew...And the big finale, with Clara in the middle in the splits...
The performed their dance to Blow by Ke$ha. It was 100% them from beginning to end! They had so much fun up there! I took a ton more photos, but they're all basically just variations of the ones above. I didn't take any video. I had to choose between the two, since Jeff wasn't able to go. Decision was easy once I got there. Clara's friend's dad offered to share his video if I shared photos! Easy enough! Can't wait to see the video!

Monday, March 26, 2012

and the roll continues...

On Friday, Clara got her gold medal for her performance in the solo festival...
She was so proud of it!! One of her best school friends also earned a gold medal and they wore their medals all day at school!

Alex had a bit of good news himself on Friday... he was recognized as a "Shining Example" that morning in their all school morning meeting!

His other news is that he found out that he'll be playing guitar on a fourth song now for the Neil Young show!

Saturday night we took the kids (Clara, Alex and Alex's friend) to see The Hunger Games. We were all (well, except Clara) dying to see it! It did not disappoint! It was really well done and very close to the book. I was a sobbing wreck at various parts of the movie which reminded me why I prefer to watch movies at home :-) We took everyone out to dinner afterward and listened to the boys analyze the book vs. the movie.

Today kicks off "spirit week" at Clara's school. Today's theme is Western Day.

Here's my little western girl...
Unfortunately, her cowboy hat is trashed! She took it to camp last summer and it's just not the same. So, she had braids, a western plaid shirt and freckles. It's hard to tell, but Clara has a small cut and bruise above her right eye. That was courtesy of her brother yesterday. The story we were told when they got home was that Alex threw a stick and accidentally hit her in the head (apparently, he was aiming for right next to her head and missed). Neither of them seemed at all bothered by the whole thing, which, for some reason, concerns me a bit more than if Clara was really upset about it. It has the feeling of them doing something they weren't supposed to be doing and concocting a cover story that they both agreed on. Hmmm.... who knows... but I'm sure I could get Alex to crack and if I really pushed it! LOL!

Friday, March 23, 2012

the girl is on a roll...

Clara has had a really good week!

Tuesday was her band concert. As you can tell, seating with a good view was hard to come by, but at least I had a clear shot of Clara....
I didn't take any photos of her playing because I was recording the songs with the flip. I'll spare you all the video of beginning band pieces :-) Actually, they did quite well. Especially since they don't normally play together. Beginning bands are very small at individual schools (I think Clara's school has 5 members). Three times a year, they combine with other schools to put on concerts. There were eight schools participating in this concert.

Here's her band director introducing the next piece...
(now you can see why Clara bought him this sticker on our last trip to rotofugi)

On Wednesday they announced the list of those who made it into the talent show this year. Clara was soooo excited that her and her friends got in!! I was a little surprised as well! They've worked really hard on putting it all together, but I just didn't know how it would go. They honestly have done the whole thing themselves... they picked the music, choreographed the dance, practiced at recess and even picked matching outfits based on clothing they all already own. Can't wait to see them perform on Tuesday!

Yesterday was another big day. Back in February (or was it January?), when the kids auditioned for the school musical (Aladdin) Clara put down that she was auditioning for the role of Magic Carpet. At the audition, the drama teacher asked her if there was anything else she would want to be since there were a bunch of people who put down Magic Carpet as well. Clara wasn't sure, so she just said "towns person". At the first rehearsal, they told them that due to the number of people auditioning for the role and since Magic Carpet only has a couple of key scenes (and no dialog), they would wait until later to announce who got the role. Clara had kind of given up on the idea of being Magic Carpet, since she had been given several other small special parts throughout the show (harem girl, dancer, etc.). Well... yesterday as they went into rehearsal, the drama teacher pulled her aside and with great flair, told Clara that they decided that she should be Magic Carpet!! Clara was so surprised and absolutely THRILLED!!!

I know I talk a lot about how Alex's school is such a great fit for him... well, Clara's school is a perfect fit for her as well. Having two kids at two different schools can be a logistics nightmare at times, but it is so worth it to have two kids that are so perfectly matched with their schools!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

I've gotten very lazy....

... about getting out my big camera lately... so it's phone photos again!

We had a pretty low key weekend. Alex didn't have rehearsal on Saturday, but Clara did have ballet. After ballet, she went straight to a slumber party for her school bff's birthday. It was a beautiful day... which meant that the St. Patrick's Day partiers were out in full force... they were EVERYwhere and wild. Our neighborhood was like a college campus on the day of the big game. We holed up inside our house and kept out of it all.

Jeff had his one green beer to celebrate the day...
We watched a lot of basketball. I made corned beef, cabbage and homemade rye bread for our dinner. And then afterward, the three of us settled in to finally watch Hugo. What an amazing movie! Loved it! I was afraid that I wouldn't like it after loving the book so much, but it was really, really well done.

On Sunday Clara needed to be picked up at time that made it difficult for us to get her and go to church, so we didn't go this week. We went out to brunch. We thought brunch would be easy since the whole city seemed to be out partying Saturday night... we thought that they would all be sleeping in. Well... apparently not. Every place we went to was PACKED. So we ended up at our old stand-by and Alex again got the Pancake Extravaganza... While on the way to pick up Clara, Alex got a call from his friend, inviting him to go along with his family to the Museum of Science and Industry. Thankfully they weren't planning on going until later, since Alex had rehearsal that afternoon. We picked up Clara, took her to Broadway Jazz and dropped off Alex at rehearsal. I did a little shopping. Wouldn't it figure, that now that I finally got around to purchasing Alex jeans that actually fit, we would go straight to shorts weather and discover that he has no shorts that fit!! Oh well... he has two pairs now and I'll shop some more over spring break. I looked for shorts for Clara, but she really needs to be with me to try them on. I did manage to find two cute polos on clearance, that she can wear for golf camp this summer.

After rehearsal, Alex went straight to the MSI with his friend. They were going to a members event to tour the new Mythbusters exhibit. Alex was soooooo excited!!! He absolutely loves Mythbusters! He came back talking non-stop about it... he thought it was really cool!

We grilled out dinner and tried something new based on a burger Alex and I shared last week. Jeff made burgers topped with grilled pineapple and guacamole.... YUM!

Clara and her friends are auditioning for the school talent show today. I don't have too high of hopes this year. Last year she did a ballet piece choreographed by her ballet teacher... this year she's doing a hip hop number choreographed by three fourth graders at a slumber party and during recess. Should be interesting!

Here's her special audition outfit she picked out for today...
Oh... she finally agreed to do Cubs Care Baseball this spring. It's not so much that I want her to play baseball, but more that Alex is doing it and otherwise, she's sitting with me making me crazy :-) Plus, I really think she would enjoy it once she got in there. It's the same instructor that she has for basketball and she really likes him. I just randomly checked the park district website last night and there were still openings, so I asked her again and she agreed! She loves dance, but she's really getting into sports too (basketball is currently the favorite sport).

Sunday, March 18, 2012

the band....

How cool is it to have your school...
video
... erupt into cheers

and...
video
... chant your name as you play?

And then...
video
... jam with your teachers after school?

Alex will tell you that it's very cool!! :-)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

hanging out with my boy...

The boy had two half days of school this week, so I got to spend some time with just him. It was really nice and the beautiful weather just made it that much better.

On Thursday, I picked him up and we went out to lunch. I wanted him to try the place that Clara and I had tried on her day off recently. One last check of the menu before he digs in...
It was definitely NOT soup weather that day, but their soup is really good.

From there we hit a resale shop. We ended up with a bag of books for $1.37. Alex still loves the Hardy Boys for a quick read now and again. He picked up a box set of some that he hadn't read and a book that just intrigued him by the name... Vampirates! :-) We found a really nice hard cover mystery about ballet for Clara.

Then it was time for his orthodontist appointment...... very into the movie they were showing while he waited.

He's ready to start! He has his first appointment in two weeks and then two weeks after that, he'll get the rest done. His teeth are better than expected, so he's only looking at 18 months instead of 24.
While we were there, we also got the results from Clara's appointment. She doesn't have to have the herbst appliance!! She only has to have the thing above on the right, and I think she only has to have it on one side. Given that she doesn't have to have the herbst, they don't need to start right away, so they'll evaluate again in six months!

After the orthodontist, it was time for his make-up guitar and voice lesson (he had missed them on Tuesday due to his school band performance)...
It was sooooo nice out!!!

After dinner, it was time to head back to his school for his end of term conference. As usual, we were very impressed... both with Alex and his school. Here's one of the teacher comments on one of his progress reports...
This has nothing to do with Alex, just a snapshot of our lives...
... Mango's collection. She LOVES socks and had collected a pair of Alex's socks from his gym bag and a pair of Clara's. She also has her two favorite stuffed toys there as well.

Friday was another half day. I went to school early to see the band play again as they were playing during "morning meeting". I have video of their performance that I'll try to get posted. After school was out, one of Alex's teachers asked if he wanted to stay and jam for a while. I sat with some other parents and watched them for about 45 minutes! I know his school isn't for everyone but it sure has been a good fit for us.

After lunch at one of our favorite places, we stopped by and got Alex a haircut. He wanted to stay a little shaggy, but still wanted to be able to see...
He then rushed home, because he had a Mine Craft date set up with some friends from school. They get on google talk and play... it's so funny to listen to them.

When I picked up Clara from Battle of the Books club, she had this...
... I had been dying to read this book! We loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret so much! Clara is still finishing another BotB book, so she said that Alex and I could read it first. We were heading straight to their basketball class, so I took it along. That hour and a half flew by!! I finished it last night before bed. He's just such an amazing storyteller.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

burning a hole...

Yesterday after school, we took another trip to Rotofugi. Her school BFF's birthday slumber party is this weekend and she knew that this was the perfect place to buy her gift (her friend is into the ninjas).

But apparently she had some of her own money that was burning a hole in her pocket... she just had to shop! :-)

She got some stickers for her camp trunk, a Yummy Dessert blind box keychain and a new Cactus Pup blind box...
... now her evil Cactus Pup has a nice pink friend!

Since I don't have a macro lens (I would rarely use it), I dusted off my old set of extension tubes to take that shot. Wow.... I am RUSTY! I forgot how tricky macro is. Depth of field is so shallow and as you can see, I'm off a little... plus I had to manually focus which I haven't done in years. It was fun though... maybe I should keep them out and play a little.

Clara has been a little bummed that basketball is almost over. She's really enjoyed the park district class. Well... yesterday in her Tuesday folder she brought home the new schedule of after school activities for the spring and guess what was on it! Yes... a basketball class! And it's on Fridays, just the same as the park district class and the after school one starts a couple of weeks after the park district one ends. She's so excited!!

Last night the band at Alex's school performed at the After School Showcase. I was with Clara at her jazz/tap class, but Jeff was able to go. I sent the flip with him and he recorded the whole thing for me. They did two songs, but I'm just posting the last one here, because the end cracks me up. The band has been so fabulous! The teachers that run it were just winging it and welcomed everyone (which is why you'll see a clarinet in the rock band). The kids had so much fun performing and just being together and I think you can tell that from the video. His school makes me very happy :-)

Dead Leaves on the Dirty Ground...
video

Saturday, March 10, 2012

pulaski day...

Monday was Pulaski Day so Clara didn't have school, but Alex did. Clara and I had a little bit of a girls' day... nothing too exciting, but it was nice to hang out with my girl! (cell phone photos again)

First thing we headed out...

... to the orthodontist...
Clara is really close to starting phase II of her braces. She's not thrilled. We'll find out more when I take Alex to his appointment this week.

After that we went to lunch at a new spot for us and really loved it. We hit a thrift store and then decided to check out this cool store that opened a year or so ago.... Rotofugi.

Clara was totally in love....
.... she has a definite weakness for all of these creatures and has a hard time resisting the allure of the "blind box". She had some money to spend, so she ended up with a new zipper pull, one adorable Cactus Pup blind box and some buttons for her backpack. She's itching to go again!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Errand day...

Today is my errand day. I have until 2:45 to kill. It's 1:00pm and I've already gone everywhere I needed to go (and even a few places I didn't really need to go to). So I guess I will sit here at Chipotle and come up with a list for the week. :-)

1. Alex had a fabulous time on his ski club trip last weekend. I think it exceeded all of our expectations. Alex is one of those kids who can have a perfectly good time by himself within a group (unlike Clara whose experience is strongly influenced by having a specific subgroup to hang with). Well, the first night he fell into a group of three boys who were his same age and all skiers (some of the previous friends he had made on the bus were snowboarders which meant that they generally split ways on the slopes). From the way it sounds those four were inseparable all weekend and they had a blast together! They even all decided that they will do this next year and room together again. Alex tried a couple of new things... moguls and tree skiing. Glad he had such a great time and sad that the ski season is over.

2. It's ISAT week for the kids. Clara is an old pro at it, but Alex was a little nervous. He spent Monday night doing test prep online just to make sure he was ready.

3. It's a beautiful day here! It's in the 60's and sunny, but it is so, so windy.

4. I'm stalking the movie theater website for Saturday night's schedule. Clara has a friend spending the night so we thought about taking them to the movie. If The Lorax and John Carter line up, we'll see if Alex's friend wants to come too. Girls to the Lorax and boys to John Carter. If it works out, Jeff and I will have to figure out which one of us sees what movie. :-)

5. Alex has his first night of show rehearsal at School of Rock tonight! He's pretty excited. The songs he has lead vocals on are sounding pretty good! I haven't heard his guitar lately since he practices with headphones.

Okay. I've been sitting at chipotle entirely too long! Still have time to fill, so I'll go wander for a while and enjoy the sunshine!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

the new hat....

It's no secret... Clara loves hats! She *needed* a hat for her Broadway Jazz class on Sunday (they're currently doing pieces from Fosse and she needed it for Steam Heat). I was back at Old Navy to see if they had any jeans in for Alex (they had exactly two pair, of any style, in his size) and found this hat. She's in love with it and wears it everywhere... which has been quite exciting with all the wind we've had lately! I do believe that it has only gotten away from her once and she was able to run it down within half a block. :-)

Saturday, March 03, 2012

more from the phone...

I should have taken my big camera this morning... but it was just way too early for me to get my act together. Clara had her solo festival this morning. Her time was 8:00am. She was supposed to get there at least half an hour early. So, we were trying to leave the house around 7:00am. Getting my camera together, just wasn't going to happen :-)

Here are some photos of Clara warming up in the gymnasium before her performance time...


It probably wasn't a bad thing that I didn't bring my big camera, since there weren't many photo ops. She asked that we not come in while she performed and I probably wouldn't have taken any photos anyway since I wouldn't have wanted to rattle her any while she performed for the judge.

I am soooo proud of the girl!!! She really pulled it all together! She received a I rating (the top rating) and earned a gold medal this morning!! Congratulations Clara!!

Friday, March 02, 2012

the cell phone photos...

I was finally able to upload the photos tonight! Nothing terribly exciting, but I thought I would get caught up on them nonetheless...

For Christmas Clara got monkey mittens to match her monkey hat...
.. it was quite amusing to watch her grab things with them... hungry monkey!

Not my photo, but one from Jeff's phone that ended up downloaded on my phone.... Alex and his friend on their guys only skiing/snowboarding weekend in January...
The church bulletin from the day Alex spoke during service...
Parent observation day in tap...
The cookie place by ballet always has some cake worthy of being on "cake wrecks"...
A boy in Clara's class had the coolest Valentines...
... I can't remember what it was called now, but it came in a little foil pouch. You "smacked" the pack and it started expanding... the foil pouch eventually exploded and this heart balloon popped out!

Our drive to Michigan for Presidents' Day weekend...
The kids cross country skiing...
(another one from Jeff's phone that ended up on my phone)

The Mango pup soaking up the sun on our trip back to Chicago...Paczki Day!!!
... I took actual photos with my big camera of Paczki Day, but I haven't done anything with them yet.

The boys' jean selection at Old Navy last weekend...
... the boy picked a bad time to go through a growth spurt! :-)

Clara's rehearsal for solo festival...
Another pair down... sigh...
... he claims to have no idea how it happened... he was just playing kickball, fell and "bam" there was a big gaping hole in his pants.

(Sorry about the sideways photo) Thanks to some friends from school, Alex has become obsessed with Takis. He has never been one for spicy stuff but he loves these. We've been looking for them around us, but haven't found them. The other night at 7-11, we found something close...
... Doritos Dinamita! So far he's only tried the Chile Limon ones. They are SPICY!! He took them to school to share with his friends. He says that they sit there and eat them until tears run down there faces from the heat... boys... :-)

The boy this afternoon, packed up and ready to get on the bus for his weekend trip with the ski club...
On the bus and ready to go...
This is his third weekend in a row of not being at home!

I think that catches me up on the cell phone photos! Maybe I should get my big camera out every once in a while. :-)