We arrived at the Art Institute and crowded into the group reception area so the guard could go through his spiel. Look – that’s one of our Js on the far left!
Both Teacher and I love the Art Institute and were super-excited about going there this year.
Teacher was an Art major in college so we’d taken many field trips to the Art Institute with several of his art classes. I wasn’t an Art major but they let me tag along anyway.
I don’t remember ever seeing the Chagall stained glass windows before – they are SO beautiful! Pictures can’t begin to do them justice.
The J Crew was suitably impressed.
Come on guys, we’re gonna get you some culture even if it kills you!
This sculpture by Jean Dubuffet isn’t my usual taste but something about it appealed to me.
I wasn’t as fond of the bee wallpaper by Barberini – it freaked me out.
I was so engrossed in the art that I forgot to take any other photos, but you can see tons of them at the Art Institute website. Or better yet – go there yourself!
I did snap a quick photo of a Christmas present idea for College Boy. Shhhh – don’t tell him!
After the Art Institute was supper at Giordanos- yum!
Unfortunately we ran into a little snafu called Chicago traffic. Our driver wasn’t familiar with Chicago so he took a wrong turn and we ended up on the highway. After exiting and circling around we were late for our reservation – a big deal for a party of 50!
Chuck, always impatient, was beside himself at the delay and kept asking “Should we get out and walk? How far is it? Maybe we should walk. Is it just over there? Can you let us out so we could walk?”
Finally at one of the red lights the driver said that Giordanos was “just a couple of blocks that way” so Chuck decided we should get out and walk. He was so worried about the time that we told him to go ahead to tell Giordanos that we were on our way and we’d get everyone there.
That’s where the trouble began.
Teacher and I started leading the group the way the bus driver had indicated, but after a couple of blocks it was obvious we were going the wrong way. It had been so long since Teacher and I had been in that part of Chicago that we weren’t sure which way to go. Finally one of the parents who was more familiar with Chicago made her way to the front of the group and let us to Giordanos.
When we arrived at the restaurant we assumed that Chuck would be waiting for us, but he wasn’t! They seated us anyway because we were 15 minutes late for our reservation and they had another large group coming in right after us. They brought out our pizzas ad we had the kids start eating while we tried to figure out where Chuck was.
His wife finally reached him and discovered that he was almost at the restaurant. He’d followed the bus driver’s incorrect directions and kept walking, and walking, and walking. I think he made it halfway to Navy Pier before he found a police officer who gave him proper directions. Luckily he reached Giordanos safely with plenty of time to eat.
So much for our record of never losing anyone on the Chicago trip – you know we’ll never let him live this down!
With all the hoopla over Chuck getting lost I didn’t think to take any pizza photos, if you’re Jonesing for pizza photos, check out these photos from our 2010 Chicago trip but I had to take a photo of the poster.
Teacher loves hockey and we’ve been to numerous Blackhawks games together so I really wanted to take the poster home but obviously that wasn’t going to happen.
The night isn’t over yet! Next stop – the
Sears Willis Tower Skydeck.
Last time we were up in the
Sears Willis Tower it was called the Sears Tower, but apparently it was sold and renamed the Willis Tower. They had a video explaining the whole thing but I didn’t pay much attention; the important part is that it’s not the Sears Tower anymore.
And it’s high.
I’m not so much into high places.
The Sky Deck is on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower. To get there you ride up in a super-fast elevator that’s crammed with more people than there should ever be in an elevator at one time.
Look at the Sky Deck guy – I’ll bet he’s thanking his lucky stars that he gets to put these squirrely kids in the elevator and doesn’t have to ride up the elevator with them.
It sounds like a joke: “How many band students can you fit in an elevator?”
All of them!
Hey Jo-Bear, no sneaking around the corner to avoid having your picture taken!
It was slightly hazy but nowhere near as bad as the year we were above the clouds in the John Hancock building.
I was excited to see a green roof on one of the buildings below, but disappointed that there weren’t more.
Teacher convinced me to step out onto the ledge I even looked down! but I didn’t stay there long enough for a picture. I’m proud of myself for actually getting out there and not wetting my pants.
Have I mentioned that I’m not a fan of heights?
Finally, finally, finally, the long day ended and we headed toward the hotel.
After the usual craziness of unpacking all the luggage, handing out hotel keys, and final reminders we all headed to our hotel rooms. Teacher and I lucked out; the J Crew’s room was directly across the hall from the parent who was assigned Hall Monitor duty. Instead of swimming they planned to stay in their room and play cards so Teacher and I checked to make sure they had a plan for the next morning then we headed for our room.
More to come…
If you’re the Dad of a child who attends my child care program you may want to back away from the computer and come back after you’ve opened your Father’s Day gift.
Everyone else please read on for a fantastic and easy Father’s Day gift.
As you probably know by now, more often than not when Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day roll around I’m scrambling at the last moment to find a gift for the children to make for their parents. But not this year! This year when I was searching for a Mother’s Day Craft I found TWO great ideas for Father’s Day.
I was so proud of myself for being on top of things!
Then I forgot both of those great ideas.
Pinterest to the rescue again! A quick search turned up several great ideas, but Princess and I liked the personalized hammers the best.
Easy Father’s Day Personalized Hammer Supplies
You don’t need many supplies to make personalized hammers for Father’s Day; that’s why it’s such an easy Father’s Day craft! The only things you’ll need are:
- Wood handled hammer
- Sand paper
- Acrylic paints and paint brushes
- Clear coat
I found wood handled hammers at Menards for under $4 each. While we were there we picked up a variety pack of sandpaper too.
For paint I pulled out the acrylic paints leftover from other projects i.e. pine car derby cars but I think next time I”ll have to buy some; we’re getting pretty limited on colors.
Easy Father’s Day Personalized Hammer Directions
This project is so quick and easy that you can whip it up in one day – seriously!
Use a coarse grit sandpaper to remove the finish from the wood handle, then follow up with a finer grit sandpaper to smooth the wood.
Go, Princess – sand that hammer!
You can have the kiddos do the sanding themselves; just check that they’ve got all the finish off before painting.
Paint with acrylic paints. See, super easy!
When the children use acrylics I dip the paintbrush into the paint for them and they let me know if they need more of the same color or a different color. Usually I’m not worried about messes, but acrylics aren’t washable enough to risk getting them on the children’s clothing, the carpet, etc.
S’s favorite colors are blue and black so I was surprised when he started out with metallic gold.
There’s the blue and black; I knew they’d turn up somewhere in his design.
Peanut is all about layering and blending colors. Her hammer started out metallic purple and ended up black with metallic gold marbling.
I figured that S and A’s dad didn’t need two hammers so I had them each paint one side of his hammer. A made blocks of color so it’ll be easy to tell who painted which side.
W was very deliberate in his painting; using small controlled strokes and getting his face very close to the hammer.
When the paint was dry I used a Sharpie to write “#1 Dad” near the bottom of the handle “Best Grandpa” on the one Z-Man made for Grandpa then added “2013″ and the child’s name.
Then I sprayed them with a glossy clear coat. I’ve got a low odor Krylon one that only takes 15 minutes to dry, so I could hide the hammers before any dads or Grandpa spied them.
Don’t they look great?! I’ll bet the Dads and Grandpa are going to love them.
Please welcome back guest author, Jennalee Smith. Today Jenna will share some tips for figuring out who’s who at your next family reunion. As always, the only benefit I receive besides great tips is time saved. Take it away, Jenna!
The last time I went to a family reunion, I found myself surrounded by strangers. We hadn’t gotten together for nearly five years. All the babies had become preteens, all the teenagers were now adults, and some of the adults had kids of their own.
One of my aunts was saying when her kids go to camp, they have to wear their names on their shirts! I told her I wanted more than just a name; I wanted to know which kid belonged to which parent and which couples were married to each other. This meant our shirts would not only need to be labeled but also color-coded.
Only, we were kind of half-joking. We decided to do a little research into buying and creating a mass amount of custom t-shirts for our family members in time for our next family reunion weekend.
What we ended up doing was buying ten different colored groups of t-shirts for each set of family. This allowed us to at least separate who from who. We then had everyone make huge name tags for themselves and place it on their chests. It allowed us to identify everyone quickly!
Here’s what we learned…
The Good News
There are plenty of custom t-shirt shops available. Spreadshirt and CafePress are the two dominant competitors, but there are hundreds of online options. You probably also have a local t-shirt shop in your neighborhood; we’ve got one that our school uses to make sports uniforms and club t-shirts.
You also have almost limitless options for printing your shirts. You don’t have to do one-color white block lettering on a Hanes Beefy-T; you can print on jerseys, baby-dolls, v-necks or even sweatshirts and hoodies. You also have the option to upload your own design and print in high-quality full-color. Want lettering on the sleeve or an embroidered design on the pocket? You got it.
If you’re looking to customize shirts for a reunion or a group gathering, you can go as simple as name and color-coding or you can have more fun. Maybe you want to put the first name on the front and the family name on the back, or maybe you want to give everyone a fun, descriptive nickname. Maybe each family wants to submit a photo or image to print on their shirts. If you can imagine it, you can print it!
The Bad News
The first problem you’re going to run into when printing t-shirts is communication. You need to remember the names of everyone who’s coming to the reunion, how to spell their names, and what size t-shirt they wear. If you’re planning custom images, you need to confirm images with every family and make sure you have files that can be sent to your t-shirt printer.
If your extended family is larger than about 30 people, you’re going to need to plan far in advance to make sure everyone has a shirt on reunion day. This becomes even harder if everyone is not on a similar social network such as Facebook. Be prepared to keep track of a lot of information!
The last piece of bad news is cost. Unless you’ve got a grandparent or other relative willing to foot the bill, everyone coming to the reunion has to agree to pay for their own family’s shirts. Every line of text on a custom t-shirt costs extra money, so if your family wants lettering on the front and back plus a full-color image, be prepared to pay the additional fees.
Is it worth it to customize t-shirts for a reunion or other large party? If you’re like me, knowing everyone’s name in advance helps break the ice and get conversations started. Wearing themed clothing also helps everyone remember that all of these relative strangers are, in fact, relatives.
Every family is different, but if your family is anything like mine you’ll want to start planning your next family reunion – with customized t-shirts – today!
Thanks Jenna! I wish we’d thought of this for our last family reunion. I’ll definitely keep your tips in mind as our family grows.
What are your best family reunion tips?
It was a quick drive from Chinatown to our clinic at VanderCook College of Music, Chuck’s alma mater. I had my camera ready to take photos as we approached, but our bus driver went in the “back way” so we were there before I realized it. Oops!
The first thing we did was take the students to the bathroom while the parents unloaded instruments.
I think part of the reason this trip is always such a success is because Chuck and I complement each other so well. He’s totally got the music “stuff” totally under control down to the tiniest detail, but doesn’t always think of the practicalities. On the other hand, if it were up to me I’d forget the timpani mallets or triangle beaters or some other thing we couldn’t perform without, but do remember to give the kids a bathroom break. It’s the same thing with the music too; he concentrates on tuning and articulation and hears nuances I miss, while I focus on more on dynamics and the overall “big picture.” Together we make a great team!
There was the usual amount of chaos as the students put their instruments together and got ready for the clinic. Unlike some years, we didn’t need much percussion equipment, which makes the trip around the building and up the stairs much easier.
In previous years we’ve had the students line up and stand “at attention” but this year we seemed to have fewer rehearsals than usual and barely had time to learn the music well so there was no time to work on “extras.”
Chuck led the students in a quick warm-up and tuning, then he had the band perform both pieces for the clinician, Stacey Dolan.
When Stacey introduced herself to the students I was totally confused and wondered if I’d somehow remembered her name wrong. But no, she’d gotten married over the summer and changed her name. Congratulations Stacey! I’m equally happy for you and relieved that I’m not going crazy… Yet.
Chuck stayed to listen for a while before joining the Strings group in their clinic while I stayed with the band.
No, I’m not checking my email; I’m taking notes. I think I learn as much, if not more, than the students do during these clinics! Stacey taught Middle School Band for many years so she really knows how to relate to our students and I always learn a lot from her.
Some of the things I learned this year:
- When striking a triangle the percussionist’s hand should move in a clockwise circle, striking the triangle at the 8:00 mark and continuing to complete the circle.
- A distinct separation should be articulated between repeated quarter notes. I’m usually telling my students to connect their notes more, so I forget to make sure they’re using good articulation.
- Sitting up straighter makes it easier for the winds to play softer.
- It’s impossible to overblow a flute when the embrochure is set correctly.
- A flute player’s right arm should be moved forward to create a 90 degree angle between the instrument and the face.
You can bet I’ll be incorporating these ideas into my teaching next year!
Stacey also has lots of little slogans to get her point across in a way that the students and I will remember.
Some of the phrases I’m going to adopt are:
“Never louder than you can love it.”
“Hearts on Fire; Brains on Ice.”
“The breath that you take is the music that you make.”
And I especially love how she describes the two main types of music: “Pirate Dance” and “Love Song” – I’m totally stealing that for next year. We may even do Pirates of the Caribbean again to reinforce the idea. Not because it’s one of my favorite movies and band pieces…
As always, the time flew by and our clinic was over before I was ready for it to be done. But the students were ready; their lips were TIRED!
Next stop – the Art Institute!
When getting ready for your summer vacation, the last thing you want to think about is “what if someone breaks in while we’re gone?” But you should because an extended vacation is the perfect time for a burglar to get into your home. According to FBI statistics, 2,188,005 burglaries were committed in 2011, and 74.5 percent of these took place at residential properties. Keep these security tips in mind when you’re planning your vacation, so you can truly be worry-free while sipping drinks on the beach.
Install a Security System
In many cases, you will pay more to have a security company install than the actual cost of the system. The process is simple if you own such things like a drill, and you can do it in about an hour tops.
Get a House Sitter
Consider having a house sitter while you’re on vacation. When a home is visibly occupied, with the television going, lights on, and a car in the driveway, burglars are going to continue on for an easier mark. Ask friends and family if they’d like to house sit for you while you’re gone.
Upgrade Your Doors
They just kick your door in. By investing in kick-proof doors, you make it more difficult for a burglar to gain initial entry. When it takes to long for a crook to get inside, they get nervous and give up.
Add Exterior Lighting
If you don’t already have motion-sensitive lights outside your home, install them around entry ways, near your garage and in other outdoor walls. These lights should be placed out of easy reach, so a burglar doesn’t have the option of disabling them to avoid the lights.
Reduce Hiding Spots
Instead of having huge hedges, fences, and bushes adjacent to your house, keep the immediate area around your home clear. You don’t want criminals to have anywhere to hide while they’re trying to break into your home.
Don’t announce your vacation on social networks until you’ve already returned. Depending on your privacy settings, potential burglars could easily get your address, and other personal information to make it a snap to break in. While it’s hard not to share your excitement, wait until you return home to start posting.
Keep Doors & Windows Locked
You don’t want to forget this basic safety tip, but many people don’t check the doors and windows before they leave on vacation. The burglar doesn’t even have to try to break into the house in this situation, he can walk right in.
Activate the Alarm
Set your security system before you leave. Having a security system installed is all good, but it’s useless if you don’t remember to arm it before you go 1,000 miles from home. Some systems even call your cell phone if it detects any problems.
Apparently the place we had lunch the last two times we were in Chinatown had gone out of business, so this year we ate at House of Fortune. The restaurant itself wasn’t as big as the other place, but the food was just as good.
As usual, Chuck had ordered a TON of food so the kids could try a lot of different things.
We started out with egg rolls.
I have to admit that I thought these were the most disappointing part of the meal. Although the outside was flakey and crunchy and the inside had a good peppery flavor, the cabbage was cooked to mush.
Next were giant crab rangoons. Obviously I was so hungry I forgot to take a picture before digging in. The whole meal was pretty much that way…
These were some of the best crab rangoon I’ve ever had! They were stuffed with crab and the cream cheese was flavorful but not overly sweet like some I’ve had.
Cashew Chicken was the first dish to follow the appetizers. It’s not one of my all-time favorites, but was delicious; you could tell the vegetables were fresh, not frozen.
Next to arrive was some of the best fried rice I’ve ever had. Forget the bright yellow salty stuff you get at cheap Chinese restaurants; this fried rice was delicately flavored and chock full of meat and vegetables. I could’ve made a meal of just the fried rice and been happy.
I’ve never been a fan of Sweet and Sour Chicken but this was surprisingly good! Most of the versions I’ve had feature soggy chicken in a gummy overly sweet sauce, but this version was different. The chicken’s tempura coating was still crispy and the sauce was lightly sweet and not at all fakey-flavored. I even liked it enough to have seconds!
Our table’s overall favorite was Beef and Broccoli. Again, unlike the cheap Chinese version which is usually swimming in a heavy brown sauce, this version was lightly sauced and the most “un-Chinese” flavored dish of the day.
Veggie Lo Mein was the final dish brought out – aside from the fortune cookies, of course. Although I generally prefer pork lo mein, this was as delicious as the previous dishes had been. It wasn’t heavy on the sauce so some of the students who hadn’t eaten anything yet tried some noodles.
The entire meal was so delicious I wished I could eat more, but I was stuffed.
Here’s E, finally trying some egg roll. She hadn’t had Chinese food before and was scared to try any of it, but her sister finally convinced her to try the egg roll. And she liked it!
I was really surprised by how many people on our table – adults and students alike – had never had Chinese food before. The years we went to a Greek restaurant I assumed that most people would only be familiar with Gyros and maybe Baklava, but there are so many Chinese restaurants in our area that I figured most people would have had it at least once before.
Looking around at the rest of our group, I noticed that the other tables had pretty much the same blend of people at them: some that didn’t want to try anything, some that tried things hesitantly, and some that ate and loved it all.
Seeing how much Jo-Bear had enjoyed the meal I had a Proud Mommy moment when I realized how many new experiences Teacher and I have exposed our children to. We love to explore new places, see new things and try new foods, and enjoy sharing all of those things with our children.
As we left Chinatown Teacher pointed out that the street signs were in English and Chinese. He also pointed out which characters signified “2″ and “4″ – my man is so smart!
Once more we lined up and waited for the bus. There’s a lot of waiting for the bus, getting on the bus, riding the bus, and getting off the bus on these trips but I’m not going to complain; it’s a lot easier than driving and trying to find parking in Chicago on our own!
As we left I could’t resist snapping a photo of the lamp post. Goodbye beautiful Chinatown; I hope we’ll be back again soon!
To be continued at Vander Cook…
When the bus slowed I surfaced from my book and noticed that there was a LOT more traffic. We’re getting closer!
And there’s one of my favorite sights; the Chicago skyline. Get out of the way truck; can’t you see I’m trying to take a picture here?
Here’s a slightly better picture of the skyline.
Usually our Friday schedule is pretty much the same: clinic at Vander Cook, a little free time, Lunch, a Museum or educational something, another Museum or educational something, Supper, some semi-free time in a local landmark (Navy Pier, Sears Tower, etc), then the hotel for a little more free time before lights out.
However, once again another school snagged our morning clinic time so our usual schedule got turned all topsy-turvy, with free time in Chinatown in the morning and our clinic in the afternoon.
I’m not fond of afternoon clinics because the kids are squirrelly and sometimes have trouble focusing on the music. However there are advantages to a less rigid morning schedule, like having time to stop at the Oasis Starbucks! and getting lots of free time in Chinatown.
I’m in love with the breathtaking gorgeousness of Chinatown.
Since our J. Crew commandeered the seats in the very back of the bus they’re always the very last ones off the bus.
Come on guys, let’s go; we have shops to browse and goodies to buy!
Our first stop is a bakery Teacher and I visited the last time the band was in Chinatown.
Jo-Bear bought a giant bag of fortune cookies. We bought a giant bag of chocolate fortune cookies, some almond cookies to take home for the boys, and a giant almond cookie to munch on before lunch. Yum!
The sign speaks for itself.
Most of the shops we visited had shelves crammed floor to ceiling with Chinese goods.
With the occasional familiar American product sprinkled in the mix.
One of the most unique – and memorable – shops we visited sold fresh fish and meat. I doubt that any of the boys have ever seen fish, seafood and meat displayed out in the open like this; I know I haven’t!
The shop had a pungent odor that hit you the moment you opened the door. Although all of the fish and seafood was on ice and looked fresh, the smell made me question how often and thoroughly the area was cleaned. It’s probably a cultural thing – everyone says Americans are clean-freaks.
But I prefer to buy my fish without the heads, thankyouverymuch.
The boys were intrigued by a large bumpy fruit we’d never seen before: Jackfruit.
I wanted to be a good example to the boys so I didn’t immediately bolt out the door like I wanted to, but after snapping a few photos and making a quick circuit of the shop I was ready to move on.
The next shop we was a feast for the senses. Full of wood and gleaming tins of tea, it smelled as beautiful as it looked.
We took a slight detour up a side street, hoping to find more shops, but turned around when we realized we’d entered the residential area. On the way back we noticed this little guy chirping his heart out on the sidewalk.
Everyone who knows me knows I have a massive bird phobia, but once I realized he was a baby and not likely to fly in my face I crept forward to take a couple of close-ups. Then I retreated to a safe distance in case he found his wings and decided to fly away. Darn that Hitchcock and his movie anyway!
The next few shops had lots of goodies for us to ooh and aah over. Come on, smile boys!
I could easily buy Christmas presents for so many family members… Except I know for certain I’d lose them between now and December.
The shoes caught my eye and made me think of Princess.
Aren’t they just gorgeous?
This warrior made me think of my brother Ike – I’ll bet he’d love it.
And of course there’s Hello…
Oooh – Sparkly!
What was I saying? Oh yeah – there’s Hello Kitty stuff all over the place for Angel Face. I think the Hello Kitty dressed up as a pink dragon is especially cute and wish I’d bought one. Oh well…
Several of the shops had a shrine in the back; I wanted to ask about them but didn’t want to be rude.
As we passed the Chinatown Public Library we saw a poster advertising an exhibit of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy. Of course we couldn’t pass that up!
The fact that we all wanted to find a restroom and public libraries have public restrooms was just a happy bonus.
Teacher knew a little about Chinese characters and was able to identify month and date characters for us, and was able to explain enough about the process that the boys were interested We weren’t able to spend a lot of time in the exhibit because there was a group of school children scheduled to be there shortly after we arrived, but it was a worthwhile stop.
Goodbye Dragon. I would’ve liked to spend more time exploring your library but it’s almost lunch time and I’m hungry!
To be continued at House of Fortune…
Early Thursday morning I woke up and rolled over to look blearily at the clock. “4:40 AM. At this time tomorrow I’ll be on the bus. I am SO glad it’s not tomorrow.”
I rolled over again and went back to sleep.
Every year when I’m getting ready for the Chicago Trip I plan to go to bed early all week so I don’t go into the Trip already tired. I also plan to go to bed early Thursday night to get a decent amount of sleep before the early-morning aka middle-of-the-night wake up call
Every year I fail, and this year was no exception.
This year I planned to be in bed by 10:00 to get about five hours of sleep, which isn’t much less than the amount of sleep I normally get.
When 10:00 rolled around I wasn’t snuggling down in our nice warm bed. Instead I was ironing Jo-Bear’s white shirt, thinking through the things I still needed to pack, finishing up notes to leave for Princess and Angel Face so they’d know what was going on while they were taking care of Z-Man and Little Guy, and getting the espresso maker ready to make a quick latte the next morning.
At 11:00 I finally fell into bed with about four hours to sleep; not as much as I’d hoped for. As I snuggled under the covers I told myself “Relax. Go to sleep. Everything is packed; you don’t need to worry about anything.”
Great advice; wish I would’ve taken it.
It always seems that the nights I really need to get to sleep right away are the nights I have the hardest time falling asleep.
This night was no exception.
At 11:30 I thought “Three and a half hours of sleep is OK but you really should go to sleep now.” Starting at my toes and moving to my head I tensed and relaxed every muscle in my body, imagining all the stress leaving the muscle as it relaxed.
At 12:00 I thought “You’ve got everything packed, and what isn’t packed is on the list for tomorrow. You won’t forget anything – go to sleep!” I rolled into my most comfy position, imagined I was surrounded with soft fluffy clouds, and waited for the Sand Man.
At 12:30 I thought “Seriously Amy! Go. To. Sleep. NOW!” I imagined I was in a car going down the highway; something that usually has me dozing off even when I try to stay awake.
At 1:00 AM I thought “With just two hours left it’s hardly worth going to sleep now.” And of course, that’s the last time I remember looking at the clock.
At 3:15 AM Teacher’s alarm went off and soaring orchestral music filled the room. Usually we wake up to NPR news, but Morning Edition doesn’t start until 4:00 AM; proof that no decent human being should be up so darn early.
My eyes popped wide open “Time to get up! then immediately drooped again. I started to drift back to sleep until I heard Teacher close the shower curtain.
“Come on, Amy – Wake up!”
I rolled out of bed, grabbed my robe and staggered to the bathroom, tripping over one of the cats in the dark hallway.
Mornings that start at 3:15 AM doubly suck.
Mornings that start with a cat attack at 3:15 AM triply suck.
Can I go back to bed? Pretty please with sugar and a cherry on top?
Since I’m not a morning person and am used to sleep-walking through my morning routine I was able to get ready and finish packing in record time. I even had enough time to make the caramel latte that was absolutely essential for me to face a busload of middle schoolers at 4:00 AM.
The world was totally dark and out of focus as we drove to school. Seriously – the world really is unfocussed early in the morning. I know because this is the way it looks every time I’m up this early.
As usual, the students were tired, excited, spacey, and hyper all at once – a unique and slightly alarming combination.
“I’m collecting music! Bring your music to me!” I reminded the students. After various emergencies involving music being forgotten at home, left in Mom’s car, or packed in a suitcase under the bus – usually the very first suitcase loaded on so ALL the luggage had to be unloaded then reloaded – I suggested that we collect the music when the students checked in.
After handing in their music and setting their belongings in the areas specified for Luggage, Instruments, and Carry-Ons, the students lined up at the bus door. Chuck hadn’t made a seating chart so it was first-come, first-served, and all the kids were anxious to get a “good” seat in the back of the bus before they were all taken. In my experience, a good seat is as far away from the bathroom as possible.
When the bus door opened I exercised “Director’s Privilege” to cut in line and claim the first two seats on the right side of the bus. Usually Teacher and I sit in the second seat; the first seat is filled with coolers, boxes of extra music, and other miscellaneous things Chuck wants to have readily available.
Once again Teacher was Head Bus Loader; he and the other Bus Loaders made quick work of packing the bus.
After claiming their seats everyone gathered in the Commons for announcements and a devotion. I think A, L, and B look way too perky for this early in the morning.
The students were divided into their groups, then introduced to their chaperones. Teacher and I lucked out and were assigned Jo-Bear and two of his friends. Their all great kids, and since all three boys’ names begin with “J” I called them the “J. Crew” all weekend.
Look out, here they come!
And, we’re off!
See, it’s still dark and unfocussed. I’m telling you, this early morning stuff is overrated.
Once again another band snagged our usual morning clinic time so we had to take an afternoon time. I’m not fond of afternoon clinics because I think the students are more tired and less focussed by then, but when you don’t have a choice you make the best of things.
On the other hand, having an afternoon clinic time meant that we had time to stop at the Oasis again, and you know what that means…
Step aside girls; it’s not wise to get between me and my Starbucks.
…or just look at me weird; I’ll use the picture anyway. At least his eyes are open this time.
Pure happiness. I wubs my coffee.
Oh Jo-Bear, where did I go wrong? Why are you hanging out at McDonalds when there’s a Starbucks right here? You’re breaking my heart!
Check out J on the far left, trying to stay out of the picture… Nice try kiddo; better luck time.
Random Hello Kitty photo for Angel Face.
Here’s our J.Crew scoping out the crane game.
Ha – Gotcha again, J. I win!
Childish? Who’s acting childish? Certainly not me.
OK, you win this time, J & J, but you can’t hide from me forever. I’ll get you my pretties, and your little…
Wait – what is Chuck saying?
Hey guys, enough goofing around. Time to head back to…
Sorry, my ADOS (Attention Deficit… Oh Sparkly!) kicked in. What was I saying again?
Oh yeah, time to get back on the bus.
The scenery isn’t anything to write home about.
But I’ve got a new book so I really don’t care what the scenery is.
Sitting next to my Honey with fresh coffee and a new book; it doesn’t get any better than this!
To be continued in Chinatown…
Please welcome guest author, Andrea Porter. Andrea is a painter, mom, wife and photographer who always has material to write about. Finding the time to write is another story altogether. (Sounds like me!) As always, time saved and a great article are the only benefits I receive from guest authors.
Last year, a short documentary by unknown filmmaker Nirvan Mullick, highlighting the entrepreneurial spirit of kids in the United States, exploded across the Internet. “Caine’s Arcade” tells the story of 9-year-old Caine, who built a cardboard arcade from the boxes in his dad’s car parts shop, and has inspired kids around the world to embrace their own creativity and entrepreneurship.
Innovations can come from anywhere and anyone. Delivery of flowers and fruit baskets from FTD changed the way florists gained customers. In 1910, FTD gave customers the ability to send flowers remotely on the same day by using florists in the FTD network. Three men agreed to serve each other’s out-of-town customers by exchanging orders through telegraph, thereby starting the Florist’s Telegraph Delivery, according to historycolorado.org. Efficiency of a product or service can be what you need to succeed.
Recently, Yahoo announced the purchase of news app company Summly, the brainchild of teenage app developer Nick D’Aloisio. He created an application called Trimit that condensed text content into 1,000, 500 or 140-character summary text, according to TechCrunch.com. With the purchase of Summly, an app that uses and algorithm to shortens and extracts the most important information from a story to make it more readable on smartphones, D’Aloisio became the youngest Yahoo employee and a millionaire before his 18th birthday.
Doing What They Love
If there’s one thing adult entrepreneurs could learn from these young success stories, it’s the age-old adage, “Do what you love.” Whether building an arcade of boxes like Caine, developing apps for Apple mobile devices like D’Aloisio, creating hair care products like Leanna Archer, who started her company Hair Inc. at 11-years-old, according to CNN, or showing off their cooking prowess on the Internet-based Fit Channel’s “Healthy Cooking with Lizzie,” like Georgia-based Lizzie Marie Likness, kids who have been successful in business have focused on what they love to do, not what they think will earn the most money.
A Learning Environment
Even kids with great passion cannot succeed without a strong base on which to build. Hair Inc’s Archer had the idea for her hair care line at 11-years-old, after receiving compliments on her hair, which she credited to her homemade hair products. The recipes for these products were passed down her family line, which gave her a strong knowledge base on which to build and grow.
Yahoo’s new teen employee Nick D’Aloisio had been developing iPhone apps since 2008 before he came up with Summly in 2011, giving him the opportunity to develop his craft into something that paid off.
The more things to which kids are exposed in childhood, the more opportunity they have to produce brilliant ideas. To raise a well-rounded child, GeekWire recommends exposing kids to fine art, science fiction, reading, building toys and diverse people.
It seems good advice, since D’Aloisio lists art, design, sport, philosophy and socializing among his many interests on his company’s website.
Freedom to Explore (And to Fail)
When Archer decided to start selling her line of Hair Inc products, she did so with the knowledge that if she failed she had plenty of time to do something else with her life. Kids have the advantage of time.
For kids to go for great things, they need the freedom to explore their interests to the fullest. They also need to make mistakes. It’s hard for parents not to rush in and save the day when their kids are frustrated, but having to overcome problems on their own gives kids stronger reasoning and problem-solving skills — necessities in success. For kids to reach the top rung, they need to be permitted to climb and fall on their own, even if it’s hard to watch.
Whether making history with Yahoo or going viral and inspiring a nation in a documentary, young entrepreneurs are on the rise. Raising a young entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily mean raising a Leonard or Sheldon from “Big Bang Theory,” but exposure to subjects that often get the “geeky” label, like art and classical music, have been shown to enhance both creativity and inventiveness, according to Earlychildhood News. Creativity and inventiveness are the building blocks of the entrepreneurial spirit.
Thanks for that interesting article, Andrea! The part that struck a chord with me was the comment about kids having the advantage of time. When I was younger I didn’t agonize over decisions as much as I do now – part of the reason I struggle with decisions now is that there isn’t as much time for “do overs” as there was when I was younger. Definitely something to think about…
What about you – if you had all the time and money to do whatever you wanted to do, what would it be?
Guess where Teacher and I are…
Come on, guess!
Yup, we’re on our way to Chicago again!
Once again I’m planning to take lots of photos and chronicle the entire experience or at least a good deal of it but in the meantime I thought I’d share some photos of past trips with you.
So sit back, put your feet up, grab a lovely beverage, and enjoy!
Try not to think about the fact that I got up at 3:00 am this morning – before Starbucks is open – and by the time this is published will have been on a bus with 25-30 middle school students for about 2 hours already. With 2 more hours to go. And no Starbucks in sight… Unless I can convince Chuck to stop at the Oasis again this year…
Stop snickering – it’s not funny.
2004: This was the first year I went on the Chicago trip. It was also Princess’s first year – she’s just to the left of the boy in the yellow shirt.
2004: Princess in front of Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Isn’t she sweet? I mean Princess, not the dinosaur.
2005: Mr. Kramer, another director, had a tradition of taking two students on the Devil’s Drop every year. I don’t like heights and think they’re crazy, but most of the kids tossed their names in the proverbial hat and hoped they’d be picked.
2005: Princess again, in front of something cool that I don’t remember what it was.
2006: Teacher and I reflected in the “Bean” aka Cloud Gate sculpture.
2006: Little Guy and me. See him? He’s the cute little baby bump.
2006: View from the Ferris Wheel on Navy Pier. Have I mentioned that I hate heights?
2007: Little Guy and Teacher.
I can’t even begin to guess how many miles we logged with Little Guy in the Ergo; he LOVED it!
2007: Teacher and Little Guy again. You can’t tell from the photo but they were riding a zebra, of course.
2008: Angel Face’s first year on the Chicago Trip. She’s the skinny one in the hat and sunglasses. I have no idea who or what she was hiding from. Maybe me?
2008: I know I look kind of weird in this photo but I don’t have many pictures of me and Angel Face, and it’s kind of cool how much alike we look in this one.
2009: The whole group in front of Buckingham Fountain. As I recall, it either sprinkled, rained, or poured that whole day.
See the kid in the blue hat? He’s turned around to look at Angel Face who has a HUGE grin on her face.
2009: Angel Face again, at Shedd’s Aquarium, and not incognito. What’s the opposite of “incognito” – “cognito”??
2009: Me being a frog.
2009: Teacher being a frog. An orange one of course; his favorite color is orange.
2010: I’ve always thought this was a cool photo, even though I forgot where it was taken.
2010: Another of my all-time favorite photos. That year we went up the Sears Tower and were above the clouds – it was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen!
2010: The whole bunch of wonderful goof-offs.
Teacher and I didn’t have any of our kids on the trip this year – Angel Face was in high school and it was Jo-Bear’s first year so he couldn’t go.
2011: Starbucks. Nuff said.
2011: Jo-Bear’s first year! Here he is in his natural habitat – the Zoo.
2011: This year’s crazy crew. Our kids are the best!
2012: Jo-Bear on the El.
Every year the early childhood teacher and the mom in me conspire to make me worry about everything that could go wrong: What if someone trips and falls on the tracks? What if someone doesn’t get off at the right stop? What if someone doesn’t make it on and is left behind? What if some crazy person kidnaps one of the kids? What if… Yes, I’m probably the crazy one…
2012: This year’s group. I’m in the back; all you can see are my eyes and top of my head. This year I’m wearing taller heels or finding something to stand on. Who grew these kids so tall?!
2012: Another of my favorite photos.
Teacher = Wub.
Me = Dork
What a lot of great memories from past trips! I wonder what the 2013 Chicago trip has in store for us…
I can’t wait to find out!
More to come…