Wednesday, October 22, 2014


We have arrived! 

The boys and I are spending the next week with our friends in Victoria BC. It has been 5 years since our last visit to their house. Everything felt so familiar and so different at the same time. It has been too long between visits. 

We took a rainy but wonderful walk through the property.

And we finally got some pizza from the barbecue, apparently a special of the house that we have never tried.

Effie sauced.

Fresh off the grill.

Slowly reconnecting, using various technologies as a bond.

We saw not one but two pileated woodpeckers working on a big tree just steps from the porch. I have never seen these birds so close (if I have ever even seen one at all). We were all very excited to watch them, but also noticed they were doing quite some damage to the tree. Bark was just flying off as they pecked. Ah, nature.

We are looking forward to more days just roaming around the property and hanging out with our friends.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Max is Thirteen

Wait, what?

Happy birthday, Max. We love you so much.

Thursday, October 9, 2014


Oh, has it come to this? One big post per month to summarize all that we have done? Are my posts to become simply a quick photo recap of our days?

I compose longer blog posts in my head, as I am watching the boys at the park, thinking about how much we are all thriving (even if the cost of all this activity is less down time, less time to blog, to write, to cook, to clean, to manage day to day necessities). But oh, we are having fun, and it's so cool to see the boys interested in so many things, and doing so many things and, well, just growing up so fast.

This last month has been such as shift for us, and I realize that we are extremely unusual in our historic lack of organized activities, classes, schedules. We have always been a bit sporadic in our attendance to anything with scheduled times, and lean toward the more spontaneous approach to our days. But all that has had to change a bit, with the fact that Max and Otto are both taking quite a few classes, and it has meant that almost every day has scheduled activites/classes (and many times 2 or 3 in one day), which for us is a break-neck pace. But Max especially is quite excited about it, and it has been a very interesting month for all of us. Otto would prefer a bit more downtime, and so, as always with these shifts in our lives, we are adjusting and trying to accommodate everyone's needs. I too need some of those down days, just so I can have time to get the basics done around the house. So far, I think we're doing pretty well.

The classes and activities themselves? Let's see.

Things with skateboarding have continued along really well. It has been so cool to see them getting better and stronger and more competent each time we go out skating. And they have taken a few lessons with an experienced skateboarder, which have been really helpful. And fun!

Max started karate at Thousand Waves Karate the first week of September. He has been going twice a week and is very pleased with the classes, and we are all very impressed with the supportive and peaceful environment there.

We have all continued with our pottery classes at Penguin Foot Pottery. We've done lots of work on the wheel and have recently gotten into hand-buildling again. We are looking to do a mix of wheel/handbuildling together with our next session, as we realize what cool things we can make that are a combination of both techniques.

Both boys are continuing with their private music lessons, Max on banjo with David and Otto on mandolin at the Old Town School. And they are taking an ensemble class together, also at the Old Town School, which has been so good for both of them. Learning to play with other people is so important, and they are both getting better and better at that.

And the collective school where we take classes each week has picked up again for the "school year," and this session, the boys are taking two great discussion classes (one on logic and one on space travel) and an "ancient mysteries" history class, all of which give the boys so much to think about and talk about that we have to spend our entire lunch and sometimes the rest of the afternoon in the excited retelling of all that they have learned in that day's classes.

The boys have continued their commitment to their food blog with their friend Ruben, and we still meet up once a week to try a new restaurant. We have been to so many restaurants, in fact, that they are a bit behind on their reviews. But that hasn't stopped us from lots of delicious lunches.

We arranged a homeschool cooking class at Whole Foods that meets once a month. We've only had one of those classes so far this fall, but it was a huge success. The first was a knife skills class. The boys chopped up all sorts of veggies and brought home bags of them to make vegetable stock. Next week is the Japanese class, which they are both really excited about.

And we've been trying to build in some sort of "down" days which still involve some meet-ups with friends by going to our friend Truman's house for a scheduled game day, or to our friend Ben's house for the same (although our last trip there shifted into another outing, the trip to Vertical Endeavors, and the boys had so much fun there that they all three would like to make this a regular outing).

Back at home, we're trying to keep up with learning German with Rosetta Stone, practicing their music, and of course, playing video games and listening to music and playing board or card games. We've also been watching a lot of Dr. Who together, watching the 2005-2010 years since early summer, usually one or two episodes each night. And somewhere in between all that, we've been trying to keep up with Lilli (who is doing so much better!) and our chickens and the rest of our daily necessities. Whew.

September was also the month of the Windy City Coop Tour, so we had tour prep (making one of a kind cards to sell and also making our fabulous chicken cookies). And we managed a couple of trips out to the cabin, where we went kayaking and apple picking and visited some farms and the Lubeznik Center for the Arts.

So many fun things to do and not enough days to do them in. Here then, is a little photo review.

Cabin game-playing weekend.

Second lesson with Stevie.

Pottery class.

And...finished mugs.

Cooking class.

Home chef.


Another weekend at the cabin.

Lubeznik Art Center.

Hike along the Galien River.

Apple Picking.

Michigan City Skate Park.

Trip to Logan Hardware.

Lilli and I hang out on the park bench while Max and Otto skateboard.

Wilson Skate Park lesson.

Little Vietnam.

Vietnamese market.

Taking apart a hard drive.

Wearing the hard drive.

Making chicken art cards.

Day of Tour.

We had art, food, drinks AND live entertainment.

Just hanging out with some goats.

Getting Vertical

We took a trip out to Vertical Endeavors in Glendale Heights with our friends Ben and Lori. It is apparently the largest indoor rock climbing facility in the US, which we did not know before we arrived. The boys have only climbed a couple of times prior to this, so I was not sure if it would be something they'd want to do more often, but they both loved it so much, they want to go back right away.  Plus, they play really great music. Good thing we took the gamble on that punch card.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tennessee Trip

We spent six days in Tennessee visiting my parents. They went by quickly, and we spent a lot of time at my parents' house, because it's such a lovely place to just hang out and play games, do pottery, cook, bake, and just walk around the property. But we made a trip into Franklin to check out the local skate park and for some frozen yogurt. We also spent a day on the river, kayaking and canoeing. It was a lovely visit.

We arrived just in time for birthday cake and candles.

A little Lilli love from Otto.

Grandpa and Cady (Lilli's little sister).

We spent a good part of three of our days down in the studio, working with Grandma on some pottery. We threw some things, and then Otto hand built a TARDIS.

Max decided to make one too.

Preparations for the ice bucket challenge.

On Thursday, we went kayaking along the Duck River. We had a guide, and it was a four hour trip along the river, flowing with the fairly strong current for much of it.

It was great, because there were several spots to stop and swim (to cool off in the warm day), and it also gave us a chance to switch our kayaks/canoes, so that everyone could try all the different options. Both kids really liked the single kayak.

But even the canoe was really fun.

Grandma and Grandpa in sync.

Max tried to catch some small fish.

Otto and Grandpa canoed the last leg.

Cady waited patiently for us outside the studio (and was probably also telling Lilli to stay back). She is a good guard dog, just like her sister.

Checking on some of the things we fired.

Grandpa and Grandma made a glazing guide to demonstrate all the different glaze combinations.

Grandpa made another one for the red clay.

Grandpa and the boys picked some vegetables from the garden for us to take with us.

Playing around before we had to hit the road.

Max took this photo as we drove down the driveway. It's sort of a bittersweet one.

Almost Always Hungry