I’ve officially gotten around to posting about some of our homeschooling adventures. One of the questions that I hear most is, “How are you able to homeschool when you are out of your house SO MUCH?!” Well folks, it’s easy, and it’s not. Basically, in order to homeschool outside of the home, you have to have a very open mind, and a little bit of a penchant for presenting all things in an educational way – you know, without being overbearing. Good thing that I have children who LOVE to do lots of things that are educational, otherwise, I’d be up a creek. Continue readingPin It
A few weeks ago, the ladybug and I, plus our neighbor and her daughter were able to check out the Chicago Children’s Theatre and Red Moon production of The Elephant and The Whale at the Ruth Page Center for Arts. The Elephant and The Whale is the last in this season’s offerings, and as expected was a visually entertaining piece for sure. Continue readingPin It
I like this age. Four. Where a kid toes the line of being a “big kid” and still “mommy’s baby.” She does both well.
I love seeing how her face lights up when she’s figured something out. I also love seeing her little brain work at trying to trick me or Mr. Houseful into letting her have her way.
I can’t lie, it’s hard being the mean parent sometimes, because this is the face that I get.
I also want to showcase how awesome she makes me feel about little things. While I almost never get to take a photo of myself with the kids, I did have the pleasure of twisting her hair up, because she wanted to “look like YOU mommy!”
It’s not too often that we get to hear our kids say that they want to emulate us. especially with a world being so social. Babies are on iPad’s now, so it’s not uncommon to hear of them wanting to dress like characters from their favorite children’s series. Not my ladybug. She wanted to wear a striped Henley just like mom, and have hair twists (albeit neater) just like mom’s. It touched my heart. And with Mother’s Day just around the corner, THESE are the types of moments that I don’t want to forget.
Last weekend the cellist and I had a mom and me outing (he’s going on thirteen next month, so I’m not sure that I can have him using mommy on the blog,) and we headed to Adventure Stage Chicago, located at 1012 N. Noble St, to see Augusta & Noble. Being no stranger to ASC, I was prepared for a great production, but not one that would leave me thinking as much as this one did.
Gabi is a resident of a West Town neighborhood in the city of Chicago which happens to be full of Latino culture. She is worried about her first day of school at a high school across town by the name of Northside College Prep. Among her typical first day of school jitters, Gabi is also worried about her father, who has to take an unexpected trip, her mother who is working too hard, and her little brother who she used to have loads of time for, but given her new academic schedule, she finds that she’s even struggling in that area.
What I did not expect from this production was a story that hit so close to the Great Migration of my grandparents from southern states to the city of Chicago. A great mecca to so many. I also saw correlations to the Underground railroad as well, but I will stop there.
Just know that there happens to be a coyote, a rabbit, a great blue spirit and lots of fence straddling between dreams and reality; Northside Prep and the desert; school and home. Gabi must learn to trust those around her and speak up for what she believes in – which is kind of hard when you’re only fourteen.
The play is recommended for children 9 and older, and provides great conversation starters all around.
The schedule has been listed below for your convenience, and I suggest that if you are in the Chicagoland area you should really catch a showing! All weekend showings are offered in English/Spanish subtitles on a screen above the stage.
Thu, Apr. 11 | Fri, Apr. 12
Weekday Education Matinees: 10:30am (also open to general public)
Tue, Apr. 16 | Thu, Apr. 18 | Tue, Apr. 23 | Thu, Apr. 25 | Tue, Apr. 30 | Thu, May 2 | Tue, May 7 | Thu, May 9 | Tue,
May 14 | Thu, May 16
Weekend Evenings: 7:30pm
Fri, Apr. 19 | Fri, Apr. 26 | Sat, Apr. 27 | Fri, May 3 | Sat, May 4 | Fri, May 10 | Sat, May 11
Weekend Matinees: 4:00pm
Sat, Apr. 13 | Sat, Apr. 20 | Sat, Apr. 27 | Sat, May 4 | Sat, May 11
*I was provided media tickets for a special viewing. All reviews are my own. Photos by Johnny Knight.Pin It
Mrs. Houseful’s note: Once again, Mr. Houseful joins us with his views on what has become a very personal issue for us. While the cellist isn’t in a school that is being threatened with closure (and with 53 schools on THAT list, it’s a travesty in itself) he is in one that has been cited for being in an underutilized building. Now with wanting to squeeze 30+ children into classrooms, we’re threatened by another aspect of CPS. Forced overcrowding at the hand of the CEO of the Chicago Public School System and our Mayor.
It is impossible for me to understand why certain decisions are made, or why many bad decisions are defended and justified. I understand that in many ways I am a simple, honest man, and with that comes some measure of naiveté However, there are some cases or instances where I refuse to believe that I am extra dense. I KNOW I can’t be this ridiculously stupid. I’ll be the first to tell you that I didn’t read the entire list of proposed school closures. I didn’t even need to listen to the jeers or press conference statements. I didn’t go on the blogosphere and read my fellow surprised parents, community leaders, passionate passerby’s, and CPS bashers rip to shreds the proposal. I didn’t do that. I stopped when I saw that my son’s school was on the list. I stopped when a school that is worthy of the praise of CPS, and, transversely, for which CPS should be praised appeared. Astonished is putting it mildly.
I’m going to be perfectly honest. I can’t, nay, won’t complain about those school’s closing due to academic deficiencies, high rate of violence, high drop – out rates, sorely low attendance, etc. I wouldn’t be able to fault you a ton for legitimately looking at schools that meet these criteria and deciding that closure is the best remedy. I also can’t fault you for looking at the schools that meet the criteria and understanding that it, in fact, isn’t cheaper to keep her. There is a point where these schools can become bad investments, and it would take more money infusion, but return, what by many standards would be, a less than desirable result. I get it. I understand it. Here’s where I do start to complain. I start to complain when you’ve finally found a model that works; where you finally figured out an academic system and method of delivery that has produced the results you’ve longed for years; where you’ve taken a location that was ill performing, closed it down, revitalized it, re-branded it, and reopened it. I complain even further when this school that you’ve taken the time to turn around actually Turns Around. I really complain when you take this school and put it on a pedestal nationally; showcasing it as a shining example that a little bit of elbow grease and good ‘ole fashioned ingenuity can make a difference in public education. I get absolutely LIVID when I see this “example” thrown by the wayside and disbanded for no apparent reason.
Now I know that my son’s school is not on the “Closure” list. I believe that the plan for them is called “Co-location”. I think they chose the term “Co-location” simply because it sounds nothing like “Closing”. It sounds better. The way the Co-location is set up, they will be moved and placed on a floor of another academically similar institution (a school a few miles away.) They will split the administrative offices, share library, gymnasium, cafeteria, computer lab, entrances, bathrooms, athletic equipment, custodial staff, cafeteria staff, etc. The welcoming school from what I hear is a fine school. They too are running the same academic system and delivery as the cellists’. If you’re still scratching your head as to the problem, I’ll break it down with this scenario. CPS’s proposal is to move an entire student population from their facility and place them on “1″, single floor of a facility that is built for 1 occupant. Now keep in mind, both schools use the same teaching model and are both governed by the same administrative and academic program. Both schools use the same types of materials, equipment, have the same school year. So I’m a parent new to the neighborhood. I go to the welcoming school to register my children. I walk into the building and, to my surprise, there are two separate options; my son’s current school and the welcoming school. I ask questions to make an informed decision. I find out in all of my asking, that essentially they are the same school. There isn’t really a difference. I also find out that my son’s school has no identity at this location. They have no footprint. They’ve never been in this neighborhood. I find out that they only have 1 floor, and that CPS made the decision to close their facility (after all… that’s how they ended up here at the welcoming school). After the Q and A session. I’ve made my choice. Why would I pick the school that was moved into this building? I’m wondering as I fill out the paperwork, why the school is even open. Why would CPS put two of the same thing in the same building and then separate them? I’m also wondering why CPS would allow this other school to occupy the current schools’ space. The welcoming school was doing fine without these extra headaches, and now they have less access to their gym, cafe, library, etc. Again… given this scenario, why would I choose the new school? You’re providing me 1 option with 2 separate names.
Co-location for me is tantamount to Closing. It’s just more inhumane. They’ll let this school die slowly. CPS will let this once bright light fizzle out slowly. The school that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and then Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel all chose as the future of CPS. The school that they used as the backdrop to Arne Duncan’s nomination. The school that was an endorsement of his capability in the field of education. A school that they were proud to put in front of the media; of whose students they were happy to take pictures with; of whose student’s they praised. This school has done a tremendous work since its reopening in 2003. My son was in the 1st preschool class since the reopening. He was one of the children in the 2008 photos. He will be an 8th grader next school year. He represents the tremendous work that our current school has put forth. His graduation will signal the first generation of our current school’s success stories from start to finish. Here we are discussing this school’s possible closing, and ignoring the fruits of your labor. You have a jewel in our school and our building, and to even consider moving it from its location and giving up on the model and location that has brought nothing but praise, great test scores, fantastic national averages, and (if you allow it to continue to work) a 1st generation AUSL class from start to finish. These children deserve for CPS to not give up on them. These teachers, administrators, parents, and volunteers deserve to have their work speak for itself. if they continue to produce at a high level, then how can you justify killing it? Our children have worked too hard. My son has worked too hard. My wife has worked too hard. Frankly, CPS has worked too hard to build this program into the juggernaut it has become academically only to diminish it to 1 floor, limited amenities, and eventually a slow and painful death. My son deserves better than that. I’m sure when you consider this school individually and not as a number on a spreadsheet, you’ll realize this as well.Pin It
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of White Cloud Diapers. All thoughts, and opinions are from Mrs. Houseful.
The last time I heard of the brand White Cloud, I was in college and the cellist was a wee little one rolling all over the place in my two bedroom apartment. I picked them up because they were affordable on my slim budget and they kept everything contained.
The second time I caught wind of White Cloud diapers, was this year, when I was invited to preview the items at a fellow mom’s house. As many of you know, the ladybug and the twizzlers were cloth diapered for a year and a half and a year respectively.Then we moved to disposables until they were fully potty trained. Errr, well, until the ladybug was potty trained. The twizzlers are still in disposables, and let’s just say, buying for two is definitely an expense that I could do without.
However, I didn’t want to go inexpensive at the expense of my babies tushies. Oh, stop it! You know what I’m talking about. Red bottoms, otherwise known as diaper rash. BABY! Let me tell you, the cellist had it ONCE and I about died, so you can only imagine the lengths that I’ve gone to in order to keep the next three from ever suffering from the ordeal of diaper rash.
During the presentation, we were given one diaper to check out. If I’m honest, I’ll say that it’s nothing much, BUT you do notice how slim they are, and the fact that there is NO plastic. None. Even the stretchy sides are made from cotton that’s been shirred (that’s a sewing term that I just felt like throwing in) for stretchiness. As an added bonus, the newborn through size 2 diapers have an extra quilted layer to make sure that all babies stay comfortable. The inner of the diaper is also made of cotton, and has an absorbent core to wick away moisture instead of letting it sit on your babies’ bottom. Now, that is NOT to say that you should leave your child in their diaper longer. It just means that the moisture will not sit ON their skin after your child uses the bathroom. If prints are your thing, you don’t get much here – but really, who’s looking? One of the very superficial reasons that I cloth diapered was because I could apply awesome prints to the bottom of my child and exclaim how cute they were. Now, since they’re walking, and some folk look down upon kids being out and about with just diapers on (believe me, I know this from experience – like last Friday experience) I’m not sure that having prints is all that important, you know?
She was even so excited that she decided to get UNDRESSED to try on one of the dipes! Unforunately (or fortunately – depending on which way we’re looking), she picked this day to be a potty training champion, so no diaper changes during the party. As you can see, the diapers come in sizes newborn to 6 and are priced so that anyone can afford them!
Diapering can be one of the biggest expenses in a family’s weekly budget and a great performing diaper is a must-have for parents. In order to make this affordable, Wal-Mart has reintroduced their premium line of White Cloud diapers to address the needs of today’s busy parents.
White Cloud Diapers provide your baby the highest quality diaper with superior leakage protection, exceptional softness and great fit. White Cloud Diapers are available exclusively at Walmart, where you can find low prices everyday on all your family’s needs. Check them out today!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of #WhiteCloudDiapers.
It’s no secret that our Houseful loves the zoo. The ladybug is enthralled with the lions and bears, and has been for quite some time now. She asks at least once a week if we can go to the zoo and see all of the animals. Since the weather has been kind of icky, I’ve been reluctant to go, however, after receiving an invitation to come to the media preview of the new Dinosaurs Alive exhibit at Brookfield Zoo, I decided it was high time we get out there. It turned out to be a great choice. The weather cooperated, and we had a great time. I even scooped my mother in law up for some fun time too!
I did make sure that I had a game plan just in case any of the children were a little frightened of the animatronic dinosaurs, but I was pleasantly surprised as they really enjoyed themselves (well, except for Sir Twizzler, around the baby Tyrannosaurus Rex – long story.)Pin It
In a continuation of our Spring Break adventures, the Houseful visited Go Bananas in last week. The cellist had gone there when I was pregnant with the ladybug (almost five years ago, GAH! Where is the time going?!) but he was pretty excited to go back. I also made sure to call to see that there would be plenty of things for the twizzlers to do as well. Let me tell ya, there’s nothing worse than two toddlers seeing everyone else around them having fun, and being told that they can’t do anything.
Like with any family place I visit, I went to their website to see if there were any deals or things that I should take advantage of. There were, and while we probably couldn’t go every month, I’m sure that the times that we do find ourselves within the walls of Go Bananas, I won’t have spent a small fortune for the Houseful to enjoy themselves.
Unlimited ride wristbands are $13.99 for the day, and tokens are available for various large portion discounts. Socks are required as well.
The rides are also various. With clear instructions and height requirements as to who can ride them or not. The twizzlers were able to ride the train for a while – and loved it, even with the consistent loop – and there was also a small area right under the soft play jungle gym that they were able to enjoy. I think that it’s pretty ingenious of the Go Bananas staff to make sure that it was a little off from all of the other attractions, so that small children wouldn’t be distracted by much. However, the bowling lanes was also perpindicular to that area, and we had to call Sir. Twizzler back a couple of times.
The cellist showing off his bowling form.
One game that the ladybug loved and kept winning 200 tickets from was this Jackpot one, I really hope that I’m not creating a gambler. Her stance was on point.
She also happened to enjoy the Banana Squadron ride, and if I could convey the seriousness in which she lifted and landed the banana plane through pictures, I STILL couldn’t do it justice. What can I say, when my girl plays, she puts EVERYTHING into it.
There is also a bouncy house, that Sir Twizzler was afraid of, but Lil’ Miss embraced with such a vigor that I was amused. There is also an indoor roller coaster, and bumper cars as well.
All in all, if you’re looking for an affordable place to take your children to, this is a pretty good option. Safe, clean, and the pizza wasn’t too bad, or so I’m told, since I didn’t get a slice.
Ticket redemption is as expected. Your child wants gifts that require way more tickets than you may have. The great thing is, you can go ahead and match the ticket requirements penny for points, and just buy it outright, but don’t tell your child that!
The staff was courteous, and even came to open attractions if they weren’t manned (as per their policy) without any sort of grumbling. This will for sure be one of my rainy day options during the summer, and the school year.
Disclosure: I was offered a compensated visit to Go Bananas in exchange for an honest and fair review. All opinions are my own.
I know that I have been innundating you all with sponsored posts lately, but I have to make a living somehow, and well, that’s the way that this blogging thing works.The good thing is, this is not a sponsored post. If you’ve stuck around, I appreciate you and have more photos from a museum that we went to during the cellist’s spring break last week.
I found a Groupon that was being offered by Wonder Works museum in Oak Park Illinois. I knew the area, but had not really paid much attention to the area that it was in, because, well, just because. I love that it’s literally a 20 minute drive from our Houseful and that if I wanted to, I could take the children there in the morning, go and have lunch and then come back in the afternoon thanks to a hand stamp!
Once you come in, no shoes are allowed (so make sure your socks are ones that you love!) so come on through and have a blast. There are several stations, and the space is in a circle, so you really can’t get lost. I happened to have my nephew with me, and he’s five, and he enjoyed himself immensely. The cellist also tagged along (after deciding not to go to the library) and he said that he didn’t think it was THAT bad (the museum is geared to children from birth to eight years of age.) and wouldn’t mind going back again. The joys of being a tween. Continue readingPin It
What happens when you make adorable outfits for your two girls, and matching bow ties for your son’s and then try to get them all to take a picture together?
If your answer was complete chaos, then you my dear are a genius.
While skimming the internet early this month, I found a pattern on One Little Minute that I decided to purchase for the Easter dresses of the ladybug and lil miss twizzler. I spent this weekend sewing them up (like any great mom – I waited until the last-minute when I also had orders to get out) and I think that they came out beautifully! The pattern was super simple to work with, and I love how professional the dresses ended up looking. The armholes are perfect, and the length and finish with the lining and main fabric was fabulous. Continue readingPin It