Sunday, November 30, 2008

LuLu at the Lyric

My friend and fellow board member, Cat, took me to the Lyric this afternoon to see the unconventional opera, LuLu.
Photo by dan rest
I am not an avid opera goer, but I have seen Eugene Onegin and Rossini's Cinderella so I am not totally clueless, but after seeing Lulu today I have no room for comparisons...this was one interesting show. Composed and set in the 1930's this opera is downright raunchy and in my opinion more than progressive for it's era; I can only imagine it was the Rent of it's time. It tells the tale of a used and sex-obsessed woman who dabbles in murder, prostitution, multiple marriages, and same sex relationships. It is dark, gory, and passionate.
I guess opera purists do not love Lulu for it's occasional spoken dialogue and use of film footage, but I must say as the four hour show wore on I was simply captivated. The staging was astounding! Use of a combination of multiple layered scrims, film footage, and sets allow the viewer to comfortably descend into the amoral world of Lulu while maintaining a safe silent film kind of distance from the reality of the plot. You leave realizing you never really cared who Lulu was as a character...she was defined by the needs of others and ends up desperately seeking out the sexual needs of a new man and some spare change...and then her john, Jack the Ripper, does her in.
Lovely and memorable.
Thanks Cat!
This was an afternoon of theater I will not soon forget.

Rite of passage

This afternoon our own Emma Grace enjoyed a major rite of passage being nearly twelve brings. She and a friend headed to the movies. They bought their tickets, headed to a couple of shops and bought a few things with their allowance money. They ate a piece of pizza a Purees on Lake Street and enjoyed a scoop of ice cream at Ben and Jerry's before heading back to the theater for the 4:30 showing of Twilight...a pretty grown-up movie if you ask me. Emma bumped into a bunch of her fellow dancers (8th graders) at the show and she and her friend sat with them during the movie. Emma returned home at 7pm with a brand new book she bought for Finn with her own money. Soo...what about supervision for this outing? Nope...there was transportation, but no supervision. Plenty of rules and boundaries were set for this outing, but Emma and her friend were completely on their own! An exciting first for our young lady. She had a marvelous time! As her mother I would like to say, "phew!"

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thrice


Gobble Gobble Gobble!
That is one gobble for each of the Thanksgiving celebrations the Elsmo Four were privileged to participate in this year.
Special thanks to Aim and Fresh G for opening their lovely home for a gorgeous and delicious feast tonight! The turkey was perfect, the stuffing was amazing, and we all had a marvelous time stuffing ourselves silly!

Following dinner the kids played and watched a movie while the four grown-ups played cards, told stories, and laughed!

We are grateful, beyond words, for the evening we shared with these dear friends tonight and we are looking forward to sharing opening night of the Nutcracker with them in a few weeks!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Oz


This morning we hunkered down, just the four of us, to eat breakfast and watch a movie before heading out for errands, doing laundry, and tidying the house. I put my foot down and insisted we watch The Wizard of Oz...I have waited 9 years for a successful viewing of this 1939 perennial favorite with my kids.
As a child I was enchanted with the film and even though the Wicked Witch of the West was about the scariest thing in the world to me, I loved Dorothy and her crew so much I was willing to be afraid for parts of the movie. When Emma was about three years old I decided it was time for her to go over the rainbow. Anxious to see her afraid, excited, and delighted, I put the movie in and eagerly awaited her reaction. She watched the movie in complete silence until the house landed in Oz and showed the feet of the Wicked Witch of the East under it.

"Umm..is that a dead witch?" a tiny Emma asked.

"Yes, Emma." I replied.

There was a long pause and Emma finally asked, "Is there another witch in this movie?"

I answered, "Yes there is, Emma"

"Oh good," she replied, "cuz this would be a pretty boring movie if it only had one dead witch."

From that moment on Emma was completely unfazed by the evil Witch of the West, she was neither enchanted nor delighted by the munchkins, the wizard, or the lion. In fact, nearing the end of the film, exasperated, she stood on her feet and started shouting, "Just send her home! She just wants to go home!" The movie ended, she left the room shaking her head in disbelief, and never asked to watch it again.



Determined to have a better experience with Finn, I planned an over the rainbow afternoon for the two of us when he was about five. I didn't get myself excited about seeing Finn afraid of the movie; Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Scooby Doo had already given him a pretty thick skin. I just hoped to enjoy a classic movie with my boy. The movie started and he questioned the whole black and white thing, but I promised him great things were coming up later in the movie, but we never got that far. As Dorothy was running home during the cyclone, Finn became hysterical.

He ran from the room sobbing and wailing, "That girl is going to get blown away. What kind of kids movie is this?"

He refused to return to the room, he never saw Glinda, he never saw the smoke blow out of the tin man's hat, and he did not learn that monkeys can fly.
I gave up on my dream of a perfect Wizard of Oz viewing, but today was pretty close. Emma commented that "seeing Wicked helped her to understand the plot of the movie" and Finn was "pleased today had gone better than the last time he tried to watch it". I would say they bordered on enchanted.

Later in the day I headed down my own yellow brick road of sorts to have margaritas with some friends. So maybe Jules, LB, Ms. B and I aren't Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin man, and Lion, but you can rest assured there was no lack of heart, brains, courage, and love of home at our table tonight!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanks


We filled Thad's boat with flowers, packed it up, and headed to Wisconsin to spend the Thanksgiving day with my family and Leif's Mom.

My dad and I tagged teamed the grilled glazed turkey and I have to say the result was near perfection!

For the first time ever our family divided the cooking between us...I think we may have started a new family tradition! The meal was divine and the company even better.



It was a lovely day and afforded us all the opportunity to reconnect and relish in the beauty of our family.
I hope your holiday was at least as pleasant.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Dolittle

Since birth, Emma has been a lover of all animals. I have always said there is a vet in that girl! Now that she is a responsible middle school student she has taken on her first real job as a pet sitter for a local family. For the next five days she is caring for a rabbit and two cats. I took her over today to teach her about bringing in the mail, using the keys, leaving notes, and turning lights on...house sitting 101. Of course, I left the animal care to her alone and she was organized and confident!
Earlier in the day my wanna be ark builder called me from her Science class...someone needs to take the class pet home over Thanksgiving break. And a new character entered our plot, the nameless Leopard Gecko and it's container full of maggots. It sounds gross, but the little creature is actually adorable and fun to watch.I am known to be a pretty strict parent, but in this regard I am always quick to say yes...
...can't you see why?
And we all decided any gecko that lives in a science lab should be named Scales.
We will call it that until we return it to school on Monday.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Sub Perspective

This afternoon I ran into Turco's Italian Deli to pick up some sandwiches for a lunch meeting at the Day Nursery. The owner asked who the sandwiches were for and I told him they were for the executive director and my co-president of an organization I volunteer for.
He said, "Oh you mean the PTO at the school?" I suddenly realized I had ordered food from him for a staff appreciation event earlier in the year.
"No," I said "This is for something different although I do volunteer at the school."
"Oh so this has to do with your kid's soccer team then?" He asked
"Umm...no. I do volunteer for Strikers, too, but this lunch is for people at the Day Nursery."
He paused and said, "Pardon me for asking, but do you get paid for ANY of the work you do?"
I laughed and took my sandwiches, but have a new found respect for the Turco's sandwich guy. I am also glad his sandwiches are cheap.
Oh...and for those of you who expressed concern that we had been away from the family table for the past several days; we are back on track.
We had Psychic Chicken Noodle Soup, Wheat Rolls, and Gruyere cheese. The soup was your normal homemade chicken noodle, but psychic because Leif, who was fine before dinner, went straight to bed shortly after with chills and a sore throat. Poor Guy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Friends' Thanksgiving

Holidays are meant to be spent with family, but this year we all felt a gathering to give thanks for the good friends we have was in order. So today we headed over to the Kralj's for a Turkey dinner and merriment. El's turkey was lovely with perfectly crispy skin and she hit a serious home run with her pumpkin pie! All the trimmings were delicious too...A, of Peas for Dinner ,whipped up a mushroom pie that was insane and one of The Frigs made a sweet potato cheesecake that was beyond good. We missed the other grown-up Frig...hope you are feeling better soon P!


We are grateful for the friends we have and we grow to love them more each day...thanks to the Kralj's for cooking a turkey and making us all realize how much we mean to each other.
I am thrilled to report we are already planning a friends' Christmas!
Perhaps my favorite moment of all was this one...this pic makes A look like she was really looking for something to wash down that pie with. Coffee, water, wine, Absinthe...take your pick!

Experimenting.

Yesterday during my yoga class my instructor kept saying pretty things like, "your pose, as it is, is perfect for you at this time" and "holding this for 10 seconds will be the difference between walking and floating out the door." This woman speaks my language.
At one point she said, "I know this is uncomfortable, but life is full of discomfort. Use your yoga practice as a way to experiment with ways to cope with the discomforts of life." As I stood in tree pose I felt strong and powerful and capable.


Let the experiment begin...this morning my hips feel a little detached from the rest of my body and my shoulders are screaming sore. I am working through it, but it doesn't feel as pretty as my teacher made it sound!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vinyasa and Oenology

This afternoon my friend LB made me go to yoga. I was having one of those cozy family mornings and really wouldn't have ventured out to yoga trek had she not called (so thanks LB, what would I do without you). This was our first class since completing our series of 60 minute classes and we dove head long into our 90 minute Vinyasa Flow class. I told myself as I hung out comfortably in my first down dog that it was just 30 extra minutes...no big deal.


As I hit my 8th down dog with calves burning, my only thought was..."good God, this is 50% more yoga than I have done before." As we were nearing the end of our practice I found myself hovering in the locust pose (above) considering cereal boxes boasting 50% more raisins and I thought, "that is a lot more raisins! Am I okay?" The class was long and hard, but I did it. And you know what? I felt fantastic all day because of it!


Later in the day My Leifer and I ventured out to have dinner with some of his co-workers and their spouses. Evenings of this nature have been mixed bags in my experience; tonight was all good! First of all our hosts, ChefL and Rdawg, have a lovely home and put together a memorable meal accompanied by many fine wines. ChefL's polenta was divine; perfectly cooked and enhanced by mascarpone cheese...a serious yum. Rdawg served up some Dynamite wine that enhanced the shortrib entree nicely. While I loved the meal we could have eaten a frozen pizza, as the company made the evening! I love an evening where you start out as strangers, somewhere in the middle start laughing and learn a little more about each other, and in the end part ways exchanging hugs and looking forward to next time.

So I have been a little board since Obama won the election and I cannot campaign for him. I have found my next political obsession...

Appoint Rdawg United States Director of Oenology!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Souper Dinner


Tonight Leif and I headed out to meet our friends Jim and Sue for dinner at the new Harrison Street hot spot...Briejo (pronounced Breejoe). The restaurant is enjoying a soft opening before their official grand opening next week-end. Soft openings allow restaurants to train their staff, tweak the menu, and work out any kinks...it is my favorite time to dine in a new restaurant. Upon arrving I noted the space is warm and inviting, the owners are extremely present, and it was buzzing with positive energy! After ordering a trio of appetizers (escargot, baked goat cheese, and artichoke tempura), a bottle of Pinot Noir, and laughing extraordinarily hard, Sue presented us with Jim's new children's book and CD...A Soup Opera.
I love having talented friends and this book is a total delight! Buy it for your kids and all you grown-ups will love the last page...personally I loved discovering the Obama's attended the opera!

As the evening progressed I was moderatly please with my duck entree. Some of the sides need work, the poultry was beautifully presented and underseasoned, and the lentils were amazing. It seems silly, but the humble lentil can be a culinary disaster. They do not hold up well because they can go from perfectly cooked to a mushy mess in a split second. I don't know what they are doing to make those legumes hold up, but I would order a bowl any day! Lentils don't make a meal though and I am not sure if Briejo is going to live up to the Harrison Street hype. I will return in a couple of months.After saying our good-byes with full tummies we headed home at 10:30 to discover this sweet sight. Some parents cannot leave their children home together because all they do is fight. We snapped a bunch of picutres to caputre our dreaming children together and sighed.
How proud and lucky are we?
Okay, 30 seconds later we realized Emma and Finn were faking.
Soooo...our happiness lies in the simple fact our kids excuted this lovely rouse together.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Meet the Parents!

Emma had her first rehearsal with the Artists of the Joffrey ballet tonight! As a member of the party scene, Emma has the distinct honor of working closely with some pretty insanely talented dancers. You can check out their impressive bios here.
She is assigned a total of four parents....













Johnathon Dummar or Brain Gephart play her father...















Abigal Simon or Megan Quiroz portray her mother...




Put it all together and you end up with their beautiful son...We have decided to call her Travis until the holiday season comes to an end!!

I have personally never seen her so excited about performing. She is a naughty boy and has to play act her way through the scene. Emma finally has the opportunity to develop a fun-filled family vibe with the company members the children have limited access to throughout the run of the show. It is a once in a lifetime experience and she is taking it all in stride!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lemonade for you!

So...I am trying very very hard not to be angry. I just became aware of a little lemon seed of information that could have saved my family about $600. Since I was not aware of how I could make these grand savings when I needed them, I have decided to share my new found knowledge to help others. I am making lemonade out of some serious freaking lemons!
Please take advantage of the following...
If you are planning to attend the Nutcracker this year please buy your tickets online through ticketmaster. When prompted please enter the word "Chase" in the promo code box. You will save 50% on your order. Yep, I purchased 13 tickets before knowing about this perk...a number lives up to its name.
Emma (party boy) and Finn's (Arabian Doll) joint performance dates
Thursday 12/18 7pm
Saturday 12/20 2pm
Sunday 12/22 7pm
Tuesday 12/23 2pm
Saturday 12/27 7pm
If you get the cheap seats I am pretty sure they will pay you to go!!!
Go forth and buy the discounted tickets I wish I could have.
Cheers!
Oh...and if you already bought tickets do not direct your anger toward me, please. As a result of my unfortunate overspending I cannot afford to buy your affection.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Dancers at Dinner

We found ourselves with a vista of time at the Joffrey tonight. All of the little dolls had their costume fittings and following had an hour to kill before their rehearsal started. A bunch of us headed to Macy's to have dinner and Finn and one of the Chinese boy dolls (yep that cute little girl next to him) enjoyed some mac n' cheese and green beans together.
While dining together I asked all of the children what they thought of their costumes; this was the first opportunity they had to see them. Of course the Spanish doll was thrilled with her stunning gown and the Chinese boy had some early concerns about her uncomfortable head piece.
What did Finn think, you ask?
As the Arabian doll, Finn wears a multi-layered costume, consisting of an ivory robe covered by a blue jacket with long panels, and a turban. When I asked him what he thought about his attire he said, " I gotta tell you I love it, but I swear to God there is moment before they get it all on that I look exactly like Jesus."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Death of a Snowball

My friend A started a new blog called Peas for Dinner and I must say I love to see what they have for dinner each night! So to honor her, I captured our 1950's style Sunday dinner...roast beef, dill mashed taters, and sauteed spinach. Yummy and hokey for sure!Just as dinner ended the first snow of the season started to fall. Emma was delighted; she headed outside and made a series of snowballs. She lined them up carefully on the ledge of the deck and informed me she was experimenting to see if they would last through the night or melt by morning. I love self motivated education.

We all know there are many variables when experimenting, but the biggest challenge Emma's experiment faced was the good old variable named Dad.

After the kids were sound asleep Leif came into the living room and said, "Did you know Emma had a bunch of snowballs on the deck? I chucked them off."

What?

Ummm...this is a man who clearly does not open the freezer to find frozen latex gloves in the ice box, discover the remnants of a baking soda volcano in the kitchen sink, or navigate his way around thousands of paper dots on the dining room table that were part of the "make your own confetti" enterprise!

So poor Leifer is feeling bad. He has to inform Emma in the morning her experiment was, pause and shudder...inconclusive.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Birds in a boat

This Norwegian ship is one of my favorite things in our house. It belonged to Leif's dad, Thad, and we took it from his office after he passed away. We didn't take very many things to remember Thad by, but ever since this boat has been the centerpiece of our dining room table. Since we never put it away, it occasionally gets filled up with decorations. It has been filled with little Easter eggs, Autumn gourds, Spring flowers and Christmas boughs to make ship shift with the seasons. This ritual really seems like a subconscious way our family keeps Leif's dad active in our lives.
Currently Thad's boat is filled with hundreds of tiny origami peace cranes. Our family has decided we are going to string 1,000 to drape around our Christmas tree this year and thanks to willing parents and dancers at the Joffrey we are well on our way toward reaching our goal.

I am against Prop 8!

I am still stunned and dismayed that proposition eight, banning gay marriage, passed in California on election day. On the same historic day our nation voted in a president representing hope and progress, a predominately liberal state passed a proposition that essentially labeled certain people as second class citizens...an oddly counter intuitive occurrence.
Today, while I was taking in the holiday windows at Macy's and sipping a latte, State Street shut down and filled up with protesters marching against the ban. I swear I almost jumped in with them when I saw the sign, "Straights against Prop 8," but I had to stay near the Joffrey. Instead I chanted and cheered, "Yes We Can!" with the passersby for nearly 20 minutes.
Clearly adversity breeds unity.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

City Wildlife

I chaperoned a field trip for Finn's class today. To be clear, I am not new to the field trip world; I have been to the Pumpkin Patch, The Federal Reserve Bank, and a the Planetarium among others. Today's field trip, however, goes down as the strangest (in the best way) I have been on to date. Normally, on field trips, gossipy parents follow the bus in a trail of minivans making frequent stops for coffee...not so today...today we rode the bus.


The children are studying Wildlife in the City as part of their reading curriculum and this potpourri style adventure landed the kids and a bunch of queasy parents at our first of many stops...the North Park Nature Center. We saw a deer and a turtle, a kid fell in the pond and several discovered the true nature of thorns. Time to move on.
From the nature center we all got back on the bus, counted the kids (27) and headed to Humbolt Park to have lunch in a gymnasium. We looked at a pond and got back on the bus, counted the kids (28...what? Recount 27...cool.) and headed on our way.
We ended up at the Daley Center to take in the Picasso sculpture and make careful note of pigeons in their natural habitat. The center is preparing for a big holiday event. As a result the sculpture was pretty much inaccessible and the children naturally turned their attention to chasing the pigeons. The birds didn't seem too disturbed, as city wildlife of all kinds are a tough and unflappable breed. Lesson learned?
Yep, you guessed it, time to get back on the bus (25...26...27 kids, phew) and head over to the Serious Tower. The kids looked at it from across the street and no, we did not make note of wildlife, pigeons or otherwise; the chaperons were caffeine crashing...big time. The children oohed and ahhed and after posing for a group picture got back on the bus...all twenty something of them.
I asked the bus driver if that was the last stop and he said, "I sure hope so!"
We were back to school at 2:20pm with just enough time for several of us to schlep ourselves into our security blanket of a minivan and pick up skim lattes from the Buzz Cafe! We were back just in time to pick up the kids who had nothing short of a fabulous day ferreting out wildlife in the city!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Enjoy.

Get a hot cup of coffee, hunker down and explore THIS.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Call Waiting.

I tasked Emma with returning a phone call from a friend.

After a while she came in and said, "Umm, Mom this phone is broken."

"Broken?" I responded. "What is wrong with it?"

"Well, I dial the number and it doesn't ring. It just beeps."

"Beeps how?" I asked silently cursing Comcast.

"Ehh...Ehh...Ehh"

"Oh, a busy signal!"

"What's that?" Emma asked.

Times have changed. With everyone in the world having call waiting...I cannot remember the last time I heard a busy signal. I guess it is possible Emma had never heard one at all before today. Too Funny!

Coolsville

Finn has a big project due this week and he is really excited by all the ongoing responsibilities. He has been working hard to build his own "community diorama" and has been speaking in a very manly voice while doing it. Ask Leif, Community Building is serious business!
The thing is Finn is building the funniest and cutest community ever! Coolsville is home to diverse marshmallowy men who live in tepees with their little green alien dogs. Young inhabitants attend Rocket and Roll Elementary (located in the sky) and 100% of the community works at the nearby toilet paper factory...don't worry the toilet paper is for eating; it is the only food source in Coolsville. I sincerely hop Ms. T prizes creativity!! The Finnman is on a roll.

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