Sunday, April 28, 2013

I'm back

Screen Free Week was a success. The kids managed to go the whole week without screentime. I did have to spend some time checking emails regarding events for the week, but ignored the other 162 messages I received. I spent some of last week unsubscribing to a lot of services I really don't need.

I'm also trying to get back to a better habit of scheduling my own screen time - check emails when I first wake up, and once in the afternoon, respond to anything that needs an immediate response, and leave the rest til after kids are in school or in bed. I find if I do that I end up spending less time overall reading emails, and since very little of what I receive is urgent I don't need to check it obsessively. Similar schedule for Facebook. I hardly checked Pinterest at all and probably didn't miss much. I still think it's a great resource but would rather use it more as a search engine to get ideas rather than going through everything people repinned.

Thursday and Friday were a bit challenging as school was canceled due to a big rainstorm we got that flooded a lot of our area. We fared pretty well, just a little wet carpet in part of our basement.

I didn't get to many of the projects I was hoping to tackle unfortunately. This week is going to be a week of crazy to do lists with my Lia Sophia party Friday night and then Little Man & Little Hugger's party at Chuck E Cheese on Saturday. I've spent the last week testing recipes and sparkling wines for the party, which has been fun. At this point I'm expecting about 15 people and still waiting to hear from a few more. I won't have much time to post this week as I work on getting our house ready and shopping for birthday presents.

Time to go review my guest lists, finalize my to do lists and shopping lists and get to work.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

See You Next Week

As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm participating in Screen Free Week so won't have any new posts this week.  See you next week, I'll let you know how it went.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Screen Free Week

Next week is Screen Free Week at my daughters' school. Giving up TV is not a big deal for me, most nights you'll find me reading a book, blogging, or checking Facebook. Obviously those last two involve screens. Since I'm planning the events I can't stay off email, but i do plan on making a few changes.

1. Delete FB and Pinterest apps off my phone. Yes I'll probably load them back on after.
2. Stay off blogs (reading and writing)
3. Only read emails that have to do with Screen Free Week events

What will I do with all my found time?
What I really should do is give my house a good top to bottom cleaning to start prepping for my party, but that will bore me fast so along with playing with my kids and attending some of the events we've planned at school, I have a couple of other projects lined up to keep me busy.

Photo albums - I'm behind on my photo albums - not too bad, I've got them filled through August. I've ordered all the pics I want, just need to put them in albums and make my divider cards - I don't scrapbook, I do my own own lazy version - 4x6 cards with stickers denoting what the upcoming pics are from (a mini scrapbook page if you will)

Sewing - a couple of repair jobs, duvet covers for Little Man, maybe a pillow for our basement with leftover fabric from curtains down there

Puzzle - a 750 piece puzzle of the Chicago skyline at night. As a kid I loved puzzles - especially the big 1000 piece ones. I had a card table in my room that I worked on them on. When I finished one I would frame it and start the next. When the next one was down it replaced the previous one in the frame. Other than quick kid puzzles I haven't done one in ages. I plan on setting it up on the dining room and we can all add to it over the course of the week. Hopefully we'll finish by the of the week.

Staying off the computer won't be hard, using my phone for only legit stuff will be tougher. I'll let you know how it went next week. Wish me luck.

Girl Scout Cookie Rewards

I got the following message from the "cookie Mom" for my daughter's troop

"I have the incentives ready based on the initial girl scout cookie sales. I am planning on passing them out directly to the Moms at the end of the Girl Scout meeting at pick-up. I am planning on doing this discreetly because not all girls got equal items. Please do not let your daughter open her bag until you get home so there is no comparison and hurt feelings."

I think this is pretty pathetic - it's an incentive based system. Different prizes for different #s of boxes sold. If some kid gets upset because my daughter earned lots of incentives well that girl should try harder next year. It's a life lesson - work hard, get more rewards. My daughter took the time to walk around our neighborhood in cold January to sell 208 boxes of cookies, and is very excited to get her rewards.

My daughter is not the type to brag about her accomplishments so she won't be rubbing it in to other members of the troop that she got things they didn't. I read the cookie Mom's email to her and will leave it at that.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Invites Are Out

Less than a month til my Lia Sophia party so I'm getting in to the details of the party planning The advisor has made the invitation to go with my theme - Bubbles & Baubles. She's sending them out with a mini catalog so people can see the jewelry (and hopefully get motivated to come). I love that she's doing that. The last time I had a party the advisor just sent out those tiny 3x4 generic invites and sent them 2 weeks before the party, so turn out was pretty low.

I came up with a list of 37 people to invite - friends, neighbors, and people I know from my kids' schools who I'd like to get to know better. Now is when I start to get anxious. Aside from our Super Bowl party we don't have any parties, partly cause our kids are still little, partly cause it stresses me out, and partly because I am pretty insecure and always wonder if anyone will show up. As much as I know some people hate these home parties, it is a good excuse to get people together. I mean there are people who hate these home parties and never attend, there are those (like me) who will attend if they like the product because they know they want to buy something, and then there are those who will attend any party if they are available.

The advisor is sending me some of the invites to hand out myself (to neighbors) as well as a few extras if I come up with more people. I plan on just dropping them in the mailboxes as we walk to school. She is also setting up an event on Facebook for me and will send little teasers and pictures of popular pieces and notices about specials as we get closer. She's already tons better than the advisor I worked with last time (who to the best of my knowledge is no longer working with LS. She also doesn't do any cheesy ice breaker games, just one easy one kind of a good "hot potato" where you pass boxes of jewelry based on a text she reads about Lia Sophia and every time a celebrity is mentioned, you pass the box. Whoever has the box when she's finished wins what is inside. She does a couple of demonstrations of some of the more versatile pieces and then leaves people to shop and chat.

My kids are excited cause it means that they get to go out to eat just with their Dad, and will probably watch a movie when they get home to keep them out of the party area.

I have no idea how best to set up the party in terms of flow and seating for the presentation. But I guess I'll work that out once I have a final count. I am having fun trying out new recipes though to figure out what I am going to serve.

So far I'm planning
- raspberry swirl mini cheesecake cupcakes

- baked brie bites (in phyllo dough)
- Cheesecake stuffed strawberries

- Kahlua chocolate cake

- Raspberries with white or dark chocolate chips

I'll probably also include a cheese tray and fruit tray and maybe also Katherine Hepburn's brownies or Nutella fudge

Drinks - All sparkling for the sake of the theme

- Limoncello champagne cocktail (I've had a bottle of Limoncello in the freezer for ages that I used a small amount for a recipe and since no one liked the meal, never touched it again, time to dust it off)

- Bellinis

- Prosecco - probably Cupcake
- St Hilaire sparkling wine (recommended by a friend who like me loves Veuve Clicquot) This is not officially champagne so is cheaper, but still French
- Regular red or white wine
- And just in case there are any pregnant ladies (I think at least 2 on my guest list are), I'll have raspberry ginger ale or sprite

Obviously the final menu will depend on how many people plan on coming, but I figured since the party starts at 7 and most of the women I am inviting have young kids they may eat dinner before they come and just want some desserts or savory treats.

Anyone have an suggestions to add to my planned menu?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring Break Recap

Kids are all happily back in school, and despite the cool weather we had a good spring break. Friday we went to the library and loaded up on books. Over the weekend we sorted through closets and put away anything kids have outgrown.

Monday we went to the Tree House and then a late lunch at California Pizza Kitchen

Tuesday, Little Man had his sports class and Little Reader joined him playing dodgeball

Wednesday we went to the Chicago History Museum. It's a pretty kid friendly museum with lots of hands on stuff. The actual kids area is pretty small, but has a big hot dog to lie in, an old fashioned bicycle you can climb and an area where you can make a postcard to email to friends and family. My kids were fascinated with the artifacts from the Chicago Fire, and enjoyed going into the old L car. Little Reader's next unit in social studies is on the history of Chicago so she was interested in a lot of the different exhibits, and reading a lot of the different descriptions. Little Man got a bit antsy towards the end. Had it been a nicer day I would have let them run in Lincoln Park when we were done, but it was too windy. Still a nice day and they all were eager to tell my husband what they had learned.

Thursday was another stay at home day followed by Green Day. 

Friday we went down to the Art Institute. We took the L down as usual, which Little Man always loves. Both my daughters wanted to see the Thorne Rooms, and Little Hugger specifically asked to see "those paintings of faces where all the parts are in the wrong place". As luck would have it, there was a special exhibit on Picasso and Chicago ; ) She took a ton of pictures as usual. Taking Little Man to art exhibits can be tough and it was pretty crowded as the exhibit just opened a couple of weeks ago, but he did pretty well. The exhibit was a retrospective of Picasso's work, with an emphasis on his Chicago connections. He never actually visited Chicago, but one of our most well known pieces of public art is the Picasso sculpture in front of the Daley Center.

Little Man's favorite part was illustrations of animals that Picasso had done for a book. There were about 12 of them. Little Reader read a bit of the blurbs around the room that put the exhibit into context.

Sunday of course was Easter, and as I've said before we're not religious so it's all about dying eggs, and eating chocolate and jelly beans.

Still since Little Reader has had quite a few questions over the years about the meaning of Easter, I had her pick up a book about it at the library. I should probably read it too as a refresher.

Green Day - Take 2

When Little Man was 2 months old, my husband and I went to see Green Day. The show was great but I couldn't enjoy it as out sitter was not used to dealing with newborns (despite telling us she could) so I spent most of the show fielding texts from her on how to handle his crying.  When I heard Green Day was coming back I jumped at the chance to get tickets. We splurged on floor seats and the next day Billie Joe went into rehab (this was shortly after his Vegas tantrum).  We finally got to see them Thursday night.

The floor was GA so we got there early and joined the crowd waiting.  After a stupid wait to get wristbands before going down to the floor, we headed down to the floor.  We waited for a while with the crowd, everyone chatting, but jockeying for position at the same time.  The final song played over the PA system before they came on was Bohemian Rhapsody.  I don't know if this was done on purpose - but I think it was - someone started singing and soon enough we were all singing along.  It was a cool moment, kind of an unplanned flash mob.  As soon as Green Day took the stage the crowd surged forward, it was tight in the beginning, but as usual, people spread out shortly after they had claimed their space.

It was a great high energy show like last time, even better since I never heard a peep from our sitter so could focus on the show.  We were close (but not too close) to the mosh pit, so the crowd's energy level was high.  They played a ton of great songs, and Billie Joe is back to his old self (I have to admit, I don't know how he'd keep up that energy level without some pharmaceutical help).  I definitely recommend seeing them if you haven't.

It's Official - I Registered for my First Half Marathon

I was planning on running the Monster Dash, but then stumbled across the Women Rock Half Marathon or 10k. It is the first year for this race in Chicago but it's coordinated by Team Ortho who do a bunch of other races here with what looks like the same course. I decided to run this one instead because

1. A new race probably won't be as crowded as the Monster
2. It's a month earlier than the Monster so hopefully weather will be better
3. It's a week after my Mom's birthday, which seems appropriate since I'm running as an MS fundraiser in her honor.
4. Bonus swag - you already get a jacket as the goodie bag, but if you register before Mother's Day you get to choose an extra item (I picked a dri-fit tshirt, but they have shorts, tank, socks or a shoe bag). I always love "free" gifts.
5. Champagne at the post race party

So, anyone want to join me?