Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Urban Dad!

Seven years ago today, I finally came to my senses and made my Urban Boyfriend my Urban Husband.  Eleven months later, with the arrival of Urban Kid 1, he became Urban Dad.  I was scared to death of marriage and parenthood, but he was patient.  Ok, and persistent.  And then patient some more.  And I think that he was still a little nervous after Urban Kid 1 was born. 

Hey, did I ever tell you that Best Namma Ever! and the Pink Power Ranger were devising backup emergency plans once they learned I was pregnant with Urban Kid 1?  They recognized that the biggest commitmentphobe and least domestic person in the family was knocked up.  Fortunately, they didn't tell me that until I was thoroughly and blissfully settled into life as Urban Mom.

Anywhooooo, read more details about our slighly unusual engagment and wedding here.

So we're getting a babysitter -- a real, live babysitter!!!! -- and heading out for an overpriced, yet truly wonderful dinner here

We get dressed up in our Sunday Best and go here every year for our anniversary, and it's always perfect.  We look back over the time we've had so far and make big fantasy plans for the future.  We point out other tables where we have had other anniversary dinners.  We recognize how well and truly blessed we are to have the happy life that we do.

It's my favorite meal of the year.

Lest I get too serious, however.......

Monday, October 26, 2009

Field Trip Week... Fail??

Well, I was just all bursting with ambition over taking the week off of Regular School and doing Field Trip Week.  We were going to get out there and soak up all kinds of piles of educational splendor available to us folks lucky enough to live in the bustling metropolis of Chicago.  Except there was one problem:

The Urban Kids weren't into it.

Yeah, I know....

So here was the plan, and where the plan fell apart:

Monday:  Lincoln Park Zoo

We had our folder of Animal Observation Sheets and were going to carefully take notes on a few animals.  I had checked out the website the evening before and was aware of every feeding, training, Meet An Animal chat that the zoo had that a.m.  I had packed lunches for the three of us and stuffed them into my Mom Purse.

We happily ran around from animal to animal.  We met a box turtle, watched an otter do flips off of the glass, saw the gray seal get its feeding & training.  After much pleading from Urban Kid 2 to "see the juh-waffs," we stopped by the giraffes. 

We ate our lunches in a windowless room in a basement where people who bring their own stuff are banished.  (people who pay $6.75 for a peanut butter & jelly sandwich get sunlight and chairs that are not flipped over onto the tables, thus reminding us that yes, you get what you pay for sometimes)  We rode the merry-go-round when U-Kid 2 was dozing off.  But I should have just let her fall asleep, because we scored a cushy new "kneeling" bus that was virtually empty for our trip home.

We spent a long stretch gazing at the monkeys.  They returned the favor.

Realizing that we were running out of time as far as U-Kid 2 needing a nap/avoiding a meltdown, I told Urban Kid 1 that we could see the kangaroos (an animal we have studied) or the polar bears (an animal we are going to study), but not both, as they are at opposite ends of the zoo. 

She opted for the polar bears, so off we dashed to find...... an empty pen.  No bears lounging in the sun.  No bears swimming in the pool.  No access to any indoor observation place.

peek-a-boo, i *don't* see you!
Ah well, it was basically a pretty day and a good way to spend it.  We came back home, did the nap/quiet time that Urban Mom loves to pieces likes to give the kids, and did an afternoon outside class for Urban Kid 1 (i'll list the stuff we do on the left there, but sorry, not telling where we are on which days).

Tuesday:  Shedd Aquarium

I was trying to hustle the Urban Kids out of the door in order to get there by 9a when the Shedd opened.  We got there bright and early, and therefore scored metered street parking -- my big goal, since garage parking is $19, so yay me on that one.  However, the Urban Kids were crabby!  Urban Kid 2 was making her opinion of this particular trip very clear by throwing things and splaying herself across a bench and otherwise making a complete jackass of me spectacle of herself.  And Urban Kid 1 did not show the slightest interest in any animals.  And, we went to the Shedd on Tuesday because it was advertised as a Free Day.  So what does Free Day mean to YOU?  Because to the Shedd, it means, The Good Stuff Is Not Free; We Will Lure You Down Here And Then Demand $35 To Show You The Good Stuff Like The Dolphins or Penguins or Even A Damn Jellyfish.

Sigh.  It wasn't the money.  It was the principle.  They dangled a day of free fun in front of a family of four living in the city on a teacher's salary.  And then they welched on it.  Feeling punk'd grumpy about it, we checked out a few displays, Urban Kid 1 actually listened for a few minutes to the feeding at the tank in the rotunda,

we ate our little lunches again -- but I had to bail out because U-Kid 2 was screeching and flailing -- and headed outdoors. 

It was just as well.  It was a beautiful day outside.

So they ran and played and picked every little flower they could find and joyfully brought it to me.  Joyfully!  Finally, a happy moment on Tuesday!

Then we remembered the little playground area between the Field Museum and the Shedd.

And then we remembered that our parking meter was about to expire and headed back to the car.  Because if I wasn't going to pay $35 in Lie To Me Money admission fees, I sure wasn't going to pay $75 for Stupid Tax a parking fine.

Hey Urban Kids, want to go to the Museum of Science & Industry?


Yeah, but it's free every weekday this month.  It would be fun.  It's Field Trip Week.  You want to go?


And so I had to ponder picking my battles.  And it was the last 70-degree day that Chicago will see until May.  We will be buried alive in several feet of snow before we know.  Last winter we had -18 degree days before factoring in the windchill.

And so we blew it off and just took the day off completely.

We went to Ulta and picked up makeup for Urban Kid 1's Halloween costume (Cleopatra).  We went to CVS and picked up necessities.  We meandered the neighborhood.  We went to the ramp behind a neighborhood church and ran up and down the ramp and some staisr, gathered leaves into a pile and then threw them around.  We met friends at a playground and played until the sun went down.

(And I have secret plans to possibly meet our neighbors at the MSI later this week.  ssshhhhhhhh.....)

It was perfect.


Hey Urban Kids, you want to go to the Butterfly Haven at the Nature Museum today?  (again, a free day)


Would you rather go to the Butterfly Haven or do regular school?  (ha ha, now i have 'em)


Wha'???  Really???? (high pitched and quite shocked)

Yeah. The Butterfly room is hot.

But that's the point!!!

Mmmmmm..... let's do school today instead.

(scratching head)  Ummmmm.... okayyyyy.... I guess. 

Friday:  was never going to be a part of Field Trip Week, as we have three different outside activities stacked up like planes circling O'Hare on Fridays.  I do not want to mess with Fridays.

I'm thinking that the next shot at this will be Field Trip Month.  One Field Trip a week for a month.  Build some anticipation maybe.


There are worse ways to spend a week.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gettin' Schooled

Oh my, I have been lazy about my blogging. Terribly lazy. Who-da-thunk that this homeschooling thing would take such time. Well, Combine that with a recent thinning of my bloggy mojo, and you get a lazy blogger. I'm assuming that the thin-bloggy-mojo is cyclical. Afterall, I'm a girl -- I come wired to assume things are cyclical, I guess.

So here are the highlights:

School. As in the {Urban} Country Day Academy. {fill in our real last name in the brackets} It's mentioned in the URL of this site and in my friendly introductory paragraph, which is much like myself IRL -- friendly and chatty, yet guarded to the general public.

But to the point. {Urban} CDA is named that because I grew up in St. Louis, and the hoitiest of the toitiest schools there were This-N-That Country Day Academy. Find one of the Busch kids or a kid of an executive for AG Edwards, Purina, McDonnell Douglas (now BOING!BOING!BOING!), a kid of a baseball player, whatevah, and you'd likely find him/her at a school with the term Country Day Academy in the name. I went to a public school that was pretty good at the time, but that I wouldn't send my kids to now, no-how, no-way. And the MIL -- oh, the piece of work that is the MIL -- wanted the Urban Kids to go to one of Chicago's hoity-toity private schools. She offered to foot the bill, even (post financial aid filings). But here's the thing -- she's an evil psycho. And Urban Dad & I were not going to dance on her strings.

So {Urban} Country Day Academy. Under Illinois law, homeschoolers are considered their own private school. {Urban} CDA only allows two students and no more, so there ya go -- pretty damn private, huh?  The tuition is pretty reasonable for a boarding school.  And no pressure to carry a $200 purse to Geometry class or to feel like a loozah because you didn't spend Christmas in Portugal.  And when you pack up your studies to visit the St. Louis campus (aka: Best Namma Ever!'s house), you can rest assured that you won't have to do squat.

We're about six weeks into school now. We're finding our routine; Urban Kid 1 & I are finding our groove. She can't stand Math; I am resisting letting her opt into the Girl Who Hates Math stereotype. She's been informed that when she finishes this:

and this:

that they will drop from the schedule and will not be replaced by anything new.

This makes her happy because she knows that when we finish this:

that this will come immediately on its heels:

She's doing 1st grade Math, Writing, Handwriting, History & Science; 2nd grade spelling; reading at almost a 4th grade level. If she was in the Chicago system, she'd have started Kindergarten six weeks ago.

She has a daily list that varies a bit from day to day. When we finish something, she gets to take her write-on-wipe-off marker and scratch -- ok, slash -- it off of the list.

The whole thing that we're doing here is very structured and procedural. It's how her parents are wired, so it's how she has to roll right now.

That said, now that we feel like this is actually working and my muttering fears in the back of my brain that I am going to be an abysmal failure at this whole weird idea and irreversably wreck two innocent human beings along the way are quieting down, we're blowing off most of this week.

It's Field Trip Week!

More soon!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh Say Can You HEAR?

A friend of mine posted in on FB today, so of course I immediately nabbed it (after many public thanks!) and posted it myself.  And I'm posting it here, too.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to YouTube to look for more.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Paging Urban Mom

Woah!  How much time has passed?  How much????

It's been a little crazy around here.  And I've been a little lazy by the end of the day.  Y'see, I have this theory that if I get a big more sleep that I'll be more pleasant of a homeschool mom the next day.  And my theory is proving correct.  And since we have desktop computer that involves me turning my back on two small children in order to even begin to focus on a blog post, let alone actually write one, well, you get the idea.

But we've been at the school thing for about a month now, and I think we're hitting a bit of a stride.  Urban Kid 1 is getting the idea that we have made a decision, that this is the decision, that this is the routine and that if she gets with it that there will be rewards.  For example, one particular day of the week is very light for us around here.  We cart around to three different classes, so school stuff in between is also light -- a math review sheet, a history coloring page, what-have-you.  Well, Urban Kid 1 has been invited over to a buddy's house for an a.m. playdate before he heads to afternoon kindergarten.  If we get everything done, we can throw this playdate into the mix and completely blow off school that day.  Because, you see, this is a break for me as well!  Everybody wins!!

And besides, there have been perks.  As we walked to meet a friend of mine for lunch last week, we strolled by the school at the end of our block (yes, there's a school at the end of our block, and we won't send her there) and basked in the knowledge that we got to go to Bamee Noodles in the middle of a school day!

Or that today we got to stop into the nail salon because mama was in desperate need of an eyebrow wax:

Of course, this involved stopping at the library on the way home, so really, it was an educational errand!  Really!

So it's been a lot of this with Urban Kid 1:

And a lot of this with Urban Kid 2:

And some of this with both of the Urban Kids:

While trying to get in some of this once in a while:

And so, in the hopes of making you smile for being kind enough to stop by, I'll end with this, another picture from one of Pink Power Ranger's Facebook posts (it's her cat):

June Cleaver A6P posted something similar the same day that PPR posted this on Facebook, so I hesitated to put it here.  But what the heck.  There's just something funny about a totally pissed off cat, isn't there?

Well, until you have to go to sleep that is.  Damn nocturnal critters.

More soon!  (i really really hope)