Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring Break 2014

Spring break is officially over and boy is my house quiet now.  The kids and I have had a busy fun filled week, and Adam joined in on the fun over both weekends. The first weekend was our amazing Chicago trip which you can read about HERE and HERE.

Monday: We headed out to the local library to play Lego bingo!

Tuesday: The kids and I drove out to visit my mom and her husband. Added bonus, my brother his girlfriend, their baby, and her son were all able to come over and visit as well. It was fun cousin time for all!


Wednesday: Met up with other Cub Scouts at the Bodine Fish Hatchery to learn about how the DNR raises fish and releases them back into the river. This was a very interesting field trip, and our host was fantastic! Afterwards we met up with friends at the library for a spring mobile craft, and paper egg hunt, then off to DQ for a special ice cream treat.

Thursday: The same friends that we hung out with the day prior met us at the local zoo for a fun visit. We have all been coming to the zoo together for years, and usually the first trip of the year is always together. The kids and I packed a picnic lunch to have with Adam at work, unfortunately it was way too windy, so we ate inside LaFourtune.

On our way home from campus, the kids got to use their free frozen yogurt coupons they earned from school at Let's Spoon Frozen yogurt!

And then back to a library for yet another fun craft! This time paper bag kites, which is super awesome since L needed to make one for scouts.



That night we headed to Meijer and the kids were able to pick our their big kid fishing poles. They have been working toward these for a bit.

Friday: We met up with friends yet again for a Agriculture days at the 4H fair grounds. Both kids had gone on field trips in kindergarten, but this year they had it over spring break. There are always tons of fun animals to touch and see, a sort of nature treasure hunt, and a cookie and milk at the end. Because it was amazingly wonderful outside, we all packed a picnic and had lunch on the bleachers.



When we got home, the weather was still so nice even with the threat of rain storms looming, we headed out to chalk the walk in front of the apartment. L drew the Lego Ninjago characters and then this, which is apparently a Grundell. 

The kids had to help me at work, and so I told them if they did their job and behaved well I would pay them in frozen yogurt. So again we headed out. This is more frozen yogurt in one week then we ever get.

Saturday: The kids have wanted to go to a Notre Dame football game now for some time. Every spring the team plays against themselves for a fun cheap game. So off we went to the Blue and Gold game on campus. We packed a light lunch, headed in, and only lasted until half time. Neither kid thought is was terribly interesting, while Adam and I were enjoying the game. When we had gotten the frozen yogurt the night before, the cashier gave us 4 free coupons, so off we went for another frozen yogurt treat.





The kids were chomping at the bit to use their new poles, so we headed out to try them out. The river was nice and high, but we think the water was just too cold still for many of the fish to bite. They had fun trying though, and I enjoyed laying on a blanket reading my book and knitting.






Sunday: The scouts were invited by the parks department to come to one of the local parks for the first annual trash bash. The cub scouts competed against the girl scouts in collecting trash. Just my family of 4 filled up 4 large trash bags! The kids got t-shirts, water bottles, earth day pins, and stickers. The parks department had a wonderful cook out at the end for us too, hot dogs, bags of chips, fresh fruit, tons of pop and water, gold fish, teddy grahams, and full size candy bars! The kids were all in heaven.

Afterward we headed to a local school to meet up with some of our oldest (old mom's group friends) to have a small egg hunt. The kids had a blast and all got around 25 eggs each. After digging through all the loot, there was fun play time on the playground!

It was a wonderfully busy week, and we all had fun, but I am happy to be back to normal again.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Weekend in Chicago

We normally get to Chicago every year for Christmas, but this year we just couldn't swing it. The kids had been begging to head to the Art Institute of Chicago for some time now, so we told them when the weather warms up a bit then we would go. I had planned on us heading up for just the day while the kids were on spring break anyway, and then a Medieval Times trip landed in our lap as well. So we decided to make a weekend out of it! I booked us a room at the La Quinta Inn Schaumburg through expedia.com. I got a great deal, and an added bonus was that it was close to many of our stops. The rooms were very clean, modern, and updated; the staff were friendly and helpful; and the continental breakfast was full of yummy things likes waffles from a maker, cereal, muffins, bagels, coffee, juice, yogurt, and fruit. (An added bonus for the future, they have a Lego Land package that includes transport there and back).

Years ago on a trip to Chicago with a friend, we stumbled upon a great little place to eat called Al's #1 Beef. I have since brought Adam and the kids to eat here. The kids insisted that we just had to stop on our way out, so we made it our first stop. They were so excited to get their own Italian beef sandwiches this time since acquiring the taste over Christmas break.











After full bellies all around, we got back in the car and on the road to Schaumburg. I knew there was a giant mall with stores that we don't have anywhere near us, plus my children already love to walk the mall (teen years look out!). It was a fantastic place to kill some time before check in at the hotel and our dinner. The kid's favorite stop was the Lego store where we built our own mix and match Lego mini figs. I made one that looked as close to me as I could get. We ended up spending hours walking around, and capped it off with an ice cream cone.



 We checked into our hotel, and then had an amazing time at Medieval Times. The next morning, the kids were up super early! Normally they don't rise until 7:30-8:00, but we were on a different time zone so they were up at 6:15am!!! Thank goodness I had thought ahead and brought the iPad with, loaded up Netflix on the hotel's free wifi, and let them watch cartoons while we got a little more sleep. At about 8, we got ready for the day and headed down for a yummy breakfast. The kids didn't finish their bagels, and I didn't finish my yogurt, so we filled their cups with apple juice, grabbed to go cups of juice for ourselves and any leftover food and got ready to leave. We headed into the city with our sights on the Art Institute. While driving through the city we came across the Harold Washington Library. I have always loved the look of this library and when I was attending art school there would often walk down just to look at the outside of the building. As we went past, I tried to get a few shots of the wonderful decorations up at the top of the building.


We were able to find a meter and parking on the street just a block east of the building. It was a wonderful day so we left jackets in the car, and walked to the entrance. The kids wanted their picture with the iconic lions out front.

 This piece by Georges-Pierre Seurat is one of my all time favorites, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. I had to get a picture of the kids in front of it because I plan on teaching this piece to L's grade during Art Smart this month. I thought the kids at school might like to see just how giant this painting really is.




This is a close up of the painting. I also took this one with teaching in mind.



 I am also a huge fan of Van Gogh's paintings, and even more so after watching an episode of Doctor Who with his character in it.




These are beautiful stain glass windows by Marc Chagall, another artist I have listed to teach 2nd grade Art Smart. I have loved these as well for a long time. I have sat and gazed at these many times.

There was a special exhibit going on while we were there. It was an artist named Nilima Sheikh, and they had created very colorful tapestries to tell sad stories with. The show was titled, "Each Night Put Kashmir in Your Dreams". It was a very moving show, and just outside the doors they had a art activity set up for people of all ages to create their own story through images. This one is D's. Her story goes, "There were a heard of horses that ran so fast through the forest that leaves fell on me. Then it was overcast and started to rain. I was sad, so I found shelter in a cave and then I was happy again."


We took the kids to look at the wonderful paperweights, and the miniature rooms. Those were D's favorite! This was my favorite room, but this one was Adam's. I might be in trouble if we ever get our farm!!!


The last room we visited (because the time on our meter was running out and the kid's were running out of steam) was the hall of armor. This one was by far L's favorite room and exhibit!


We headed back to the car where we sat and ate lunch of leftover breakfast foods, leftover chicken from the dinner we had at Medieval Times, and any of the snack foods and fruit the kid's had leftover in their bags from the trip. We finished the trip with a stop at White Castle for sliders on the way home for dinner! Overall it was a fantastic trip, and we really can't wait to go back again!!!!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Medieval Times Chicago!!!

We were treated to the most amazing opportunity this past weekend! The lovely people over at Medieval Times Chicago (in Shaumburg) contacted me and wanted to give my family tickets to come and enjoy the show! So I made plans for the first night of spring break for the 4:30 show. I have been there once before when I was in middle school (22 years ago, how can that be????), and absolutely loved it. I just knew that Adam and the kids would love it too, so I jumped at the chance to be able to take them. We had lots of fun on this trip to Chicago, but that will come in another post later.

We arrived a little later than I wanted to for our dinner and show, but once we were inside we could feel the magic to begin. Adam had printed out our tickets for me, and we were wonderfully upgraded to the royalty package! The line was long but fast moving. At times, because there were so many people, it was slightly confusing where we needed to go. At the first check in station, we were given a pick VIP ticket, and the kids thought that was super cool. We headed in and were given the option for our photo to be taken.






 Because we had the royalty package, we were guaranteed at least seats in the first three rows. We headed to our table and seats, and found that we would be cheering for the Yellow Knight. There were paper crowns, small flags, and programs waiting for us when we got there. We all immediately put them on! Adam had been a bit leery of the whole concept until we arrived. He just wasn't sure what to expect having only watched commercials. (Afterwards I asked him what he thought, and he was just as excited and mesmerized as the kids were!)



 The show actually began shortly after we arrived, and the kids were happy to not have to wait terribly long. The Herald came out to announce that the show was beginning. He introduced all the knights to us, and then brought out the Royal Court including the King and the Princess!






 They also brought out many of the horses to show off special tricks! The Falconer came out next. The falcon was let loose to fly around the entire arena and got about 8ft away from us in our seats. This picture was D's reaction to when the Falconer got the falcon to come back to him. I think it is my favorite picture from the entire day!


The games then began! There were races, jousting, and hand to hand combat. It was amazing to see, and L loved that real sparks came off of the swords! D got a little freaked out when she heard the Herald say the knights would fight to their death. She really thought they were going to die, and didn't quite get that it was more like a play than anything. She jumped right up in Adam's lap and began to cry. Poor thing! After a bit, she was fine, especially after we explained what was really going on. Our knight, the Yellow Knight, ended up winning all the contests against the other knights. It was very very exciting!!!


Then out came "the bad guy" and he challenged our knight. D really lost it again for a few moments, and L was so excited he was bouncing in his chair. At one point, L even bounced himself right out of his chair and onto the floor!  Our knight was the winner once again, and everyone was happy again.


The food was fantastic as well!! Garlic bread, tomato soup, half of a baked chicken, BBQ ribs, potato wedge, drinks, and a warm apple turnover for dessert! Adam and I both ate everything we were served, but both kids had left most of the chicken behind. We were able to take home any of the leftovers, which was really nice and came in handy the next day for lunch! After the show and dinner were over, we wandered around the shops area. You can buy all sorts of neat things from key chains, flags, wooden sword and shields, to princess crowns, and beer steins. With the packaged we had received we were to get a behind the scenes DVD, so we headed to the counter to retrieve that. We didn't know that we were suppose to get that before the show, so just a head's up to anyone else. They couldn't find our names in the computer anymore, and we no longer had our tickets since it was the end of the show, but they were able to get the paper list from the main counter, and were fantastic about getting it for us!

We all had a wonderful time, and I highly recommend it to anyone that is headed to the area! It is a bit pricey for our budget, but I would love to save up and go again in a few more years!!!

http://www.medievaltimes.com/chicago.aspx

This post has been sponsored by Medieval Times Chicago.

The way we beat the snow days!

It has been way too long since I posted here, and I am sorry about that. Life has been busy and I just couldn't get myself away mentally to post. But all is better now that the sun is starting to shine again and the temps are starting to warm. As you all know, this winter was brutal with tons and tons of snow, and seriously below zero temps, our school ended up having 9 snow days! I have been meaning to share this post for a few months now, so here it is. Better late than never, right?

A few of the ways we beat the cold:

On a day that we had off that wasn't too cold, I sent the kids outside for only 20 min with my cake decorating squeeze bottles full of water colored with food coloring. They LOVED it!!! They asked me to refill bottles many times in the short time they were out.







Last year, my mom had brought over these cans of instant snow. They were put into the kid's art craft shelves and forgotten about. So on one of those super duper freezing days when the kids really wanted to go outside to play, I pulled these out instead.

I added them to trays to make it a little bit more mess free, but that didn't always work. They had tons of fun making the snow, making snowmen, and just squeezing it in their hands.




On another day that was super duper freezing, I decided to do a little science project. We had these cheap ice cube trays that came with the apartment. I asked the kids to search the house for liquid items we could put in and see how long it would take for them to freeze. They found things in the kitchen and bathroom, so it was an interesting mix.

Here are our list of items, and the times that we decided. It turns out that our times were off, and we had to add additional times. Hey, all for science!!!









We were shocked to find that only a few items froze or partially froze. It was a fun experiment to try!


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