Friday, November 26, 2010


Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays -- family, food, tradition and the start of the holiday season with weeks of celebrating to come.

I love hearing all the things my family is grateful for, the children excitedly talking about what the day will bring. Of course, my family is among the things I am most grateful for. The time we share, the work we do together, the changes each year brings are all things I reflect on this time of year.

This Thanksgiving, we worked together to make the pumpkin pies we brought to the two dinners we attended. Fresh roasted pumpkins and homemade pie crusts go together so nicely.

And while we usually resist spending any money on Black Friday, I have to add one more bit of gratitude this year: the sales at Whole Foods. More specifically, the sale on apples. Organic fuji apples for less than a dollar a pound! Add on the 10% case discount, and I was sold. We came home with a full bushel of apples. Because we need another 45 pounds of apples.

There is never enough applesauce around here!

Monday, November 15, 2010

free time

Completely unplanned, this weekend found me with an afternoon alone at home... no children, no husband... just me and some tea and The Avett Brothers. I realized that it was the first time since we moved here over a year ago that I have had the house to myself. I wandered for a bit, not sure what to do with the time. But soon I found myself here:

with this lovely fabric dug out of a box that came from my husband's grandmother's house

I pulled out some others I'd been hanging on to with the thought of making new covers for the couch pillows. With a few measurements, a bit of inspiration, and that precious and rare uninterrupted time, came this:

An acceptable first attempt. Of course, I only managed covers for two of the three pillows. Who knows how long until I have a similar coincidence of time and inspiration to finish the third. No one seems to be complaining for now...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

museums: part 2

Continuing our educational week, we headed down to the Field Museum. Each visit to this museum finds us at our favorite spots.... the ancient Egypt exhibit, the dinosaurs, Lucy the australopithicus, the Pawnee Earth Lodge. Charlotte is now familiar enough with the museum to have her own favorite: the Crown Family Play Lab.

While we all enjoyed crawling about, gathering and grinding corn, making art and music, it was an unseasonably warm November day in Chicago. Knowing we would be back again soon, we ended our visit and took our lunch to the park outside the museum.

The sun was bright and the grass was green, two things soon to give way to Chicago winter. We took advantage of the warmth while we could!

Friday, November 5, 2010

museums: part 1

This week found us out and about, discovering new places and enjoying old favorites. We trekked out to Iowa with a Grandpa in tow to join my sister and her babes at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. It's a great museum, split into two buildings, with plenty to explore. In the day we spent there, we didn't make it through all of both buildings. We did get to...

enjoy the aquarium

tour an old houseboat

play with Mark Twain

take the helm of a boat

see native species

get a close-up of a 100 lb. catfish

travel back in time to Mark Twain's Mississippi

move logs down the river (or at least pretend to!)

try out a boatsman's tools

touch some river creatures

The kids always impress me with how well they travel. Day trips such as this mean lots of time spent in the car. Having Grandpa along to entertain them with stories makes the travelling that much more enjoyable. And everyone got a kick out of using the GPS to track the dips and rises in our altitude as we drove through the hills of Galena. The time in the car was filled with so much conversation, questioning and discovery that it may well have been the most educational part of our expedition. These moments remind me how easily learning can take place without us even being aware that we are teaching.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

out back

Sophia was out early this morning, and soon came calling for me to come see what she had brought up from the creek bed.

She had made her own firepit, already filled with kindling to start. Not to be left out, Daniel set about making his own.

Which is how this morning found us out back, tending fires, and of course, learning the rules of safety.

We learned what our fires needed to thrive, how to revive them when it seemed they were out for good, how to keep them safely contained.

When our stomachs growled, we found the last of the carrots and beets in the garden.

Washed, chopped, buttered and seasoned, we wrapped them in foil and cooked our snack in our fires.

A delicious end to the garden's harvest.

Monday, November 1, 2010


We all joined in the Halloween fun...

Dorothy and the Tinman

The Cowardly Lion

The Scarecrow

and, of course, The Wicked Witch

We joined a few of the families we've met since moving here for trick-or-treating. It brought back such great memories to see a band of children excitedly running about the neighborhood.

The kids had quite a bounty of treats, which they sorted through, choosing a few favorites to save. The rest was left out in a bowl for the Candy Fairy who left small gifts for the children in exchange for all that candy. Now, just what do you suppose she does with it all...?