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Today is the last day of September, so we’re wrapping up our Apple Harvest unit by watching the Disney “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” which features perhaps the most prominent apple ever in a movie.  Tomorrow, we’ll start our October unit, where we’ll be focusing on (obviously) Halloween and all it’s assorted awesomeness, but also on weather.  Pictured above is Rainbow Dash from “My Little Pony”, who will be our mascot for October.

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Reading: Tons of books about weather – fiction and non-fiction.  We went to the library today and pulled a bunch of related books.  Also, I’ve been finding themed books at resale for a few weeks now, including David Shannon’s “The Rain Came Down” and “The Magic Schoolbus” hurricane book.  There will also be tons of Halloween books, and I might even read this abridged version of “Frankenstein” I’ve had forever.  We’re currently working our way through “The Haunted Library”, which is pretty cute.

Listening: Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” – “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head” – “Stormy Weather” – and my head is swimming with songs from musicals I can utilize, like “Soon it’s gonna rain” from The Fantasticks.

Visiting: Museum of Science & Industry’s Science Storms exhibit, the Art Institute to go on another art hunt, and perhaps also the Field Museum.  Also, going to a pumpkin patch and Trick or Treating, as well as to numerous Halloween/Fall activities.

Making: A daily weather chart, a rain bucket to collect rain, and so many Halloween decorations for the apartment.  Tons of pumpkin food.

Watching: I’m still working on a list of movies with a weather theme, but “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”, “Frozen”, and “The Wizard of Oz” are quickly coming to mind.  There are also a wide variety of (largely Discovery) weather/storm documentaries streaming on Netflix, like “Raging Planet” and “Storm Chasers”.  For Halloween, we’re going to watch some classic horror films, and also some more kid-friendly things like “Toy Story of Terror” and perhaps even “Hocus Pocus”.

I feel like October is a good month to learn about weather, as here in Chicago the days of fall can encompass a whole spectrum.  Yesterday it was hot enough to wear shorts, and today we were chilly even in our lined raincoats.

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This is also the month the kiddo turns 3 – can you believe it? So the first part of the month will be very birthday-centric, too.  We’ve been reading Dr. Seuss’ “Happy Birthday to You” and kiddo digs it.

It’s National Coffee Day! Go to your closest Dunkin’ Donuts and get your free medium coffee.  (There are tons of other coffee places doing specials as well, but DD is my closest. ;))

Celebrating coffee, BuzzFeed – that wonder of wonders, posted this article.  As someone who drinks daily coffee and just throws away the grounds, and is also into natural cleaners and the like, this interested me.  (Come next spring, I plan to use the grounds in compost, but winter is coming and that’s not an option for a while.)  So I tried a few.

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FIRST, Can coffee grounds help diminish under-eye circles?  #30 on this list, and one popular Pinterest Pin say so.  Inspired by this lady, I’m going to give it a shot.  The basic principle, that your skin benefits from a caffeine boost, is being marketed by many cosmetic companies as a way to sell new products as present, so maybe this would be a less-expensive and less-chemical-based way to achieve the same results? Maybe?

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I’m not saying it didn’t work.  I’m also not saying it did.  What I know is that it was messy, but smelled delicious, and I feel like the skin under my eyes is a bit tighter than it was pre-coffee.  I put them on for 15 minutes and went about my life, and then removed them with warm water.  It’s probably not meant as an everyday thing, but maybe over time it would make a visible difference. I went to a Natural Beauty seminar a few years ago, and they gave me a recipe for a coffee/chocolate powder/yogurt face mask that was heavenly, so maybe I’ll make that if I can dig up the handout.

SECOND, Make a Mud-like Coffee Play-doh.  My toddler loves construction and dirt, so this seemed like it’d be right up our alley.  I made a half-batch, to save on wasting flour and salt if it didn’t work out. Mine didn’t turn out as dark as the original, but I also didn’t have any instant coffee to add to the mix.  Whatever. My kid is 3. He’ll be fine.

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It reminds me a little of when I was younger and I’d go up to my Grandma and Grandpa’s house with my cousins.  My Grandma’s alternative to store-bought Play-doh was to mix up a little extra bread dough while she was baking, and let us kids use it to make whatever we wanted.  She’d cover the table in flour and let us shape and roll and cut and do whatever until the dough was grubby and we were all done. She’s a frugal lady (children of the depression tend to be) and if it was good enough for her it works for me!

THIRD, I added coffee grounds to the container of a Kale plant seeding I got at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.  Coffee grounds improve the soil, and have tons of other garden benefits.

FOURTH, I used coffee grounds to clean a really dirty pan.  Their abrasive nature makes them ideal for scrubbing, and they worked about as well as baking soda does.  If this is a cleaning method you’re going to add to your rotation, I’d suggest designating a specific rag or sponge to coffee – as it stains white fabric.  I used a regular old cleaning rag made from worn-out pants, and it was fine.

Before

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After

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I’m convinced enough that coffee has skills that I’ll keep a container of grounds in my fridge.  I won’t collect every coffee ground I ever brew, but it appears they have several uses and why not save on expensive cleaning products if I can just utilize what’s around, right?

*Also, for those who maybe don’t brew at home but would like to try working with them, Starbucks will give you free grounds if you just ask!*

It’s happening.  Chicago is totally going to become home of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art. 

I mean, look! There’s even a rendering of the proposed design!

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My thoughts on this new museum go something like this….

  • How cool is that?  A “Star Wars” museum in the town I live in? Woot.
  • On the other hand, doesn’t this violate that lakefront protection ordinance thing – which basically states that private companies can’t buy land east of LakeShore Drive and essentially block the lakefront from the regular folk?  Will there be lawsuits about that?
  • On the other hand, adding a new and much-buzzed about museum to the already-amazing Museum Campus might force the city to pay attention to the transit issues the Campus has.  All of these amazing institutions are not currently well served by public transit.  As a Chicago resident who goes there frequently, I’m even confused by which buses to take, and the El is not an option unless you’re ready to walk a long way, which many people aren’t or can’t and which, in the winter, is wretched due to the winding paths to the campus and the lake winds.  Also adding to the issue is the presence of Solider Field, where the Chicago Bears play and the massive convention center known as McCormick Place. While driving, traffic jams are frequent. Basically, getting to this area can be HARD.  Museum Campus is ripe for transit development, and maybe this museum will be the bee in the bonnet to those folks in charge. Here’s hoping.
  • On the other hand, what about all the other sites that don’t violate the lakefront protection ordinance?
  • On the other hand, yay for growth and jobs and increased tourism bucks for the city!
  • On the other hand, something doesn’t feel right about rich folks being able to basically buy the lakeshore.  I’m not new to Chicago, and I know our elected officials, and this screams “slippery slope” to me.  I grew up in a small town on Lake Huron where most of the lake view is actually blocked due to homes, stores, and other buildings, and I’d hate to see Chicago face the same fate.

We’ll see what happens. Public Meetings will take place for a while, and at least there’s talk to keeping the area green and improving the park area around the museum, so.. fingers crossed this doesn’t become a pain in the a$$ of Chicago.  Because I, and so many other people, love “Star Wars” and don’t want to not support this museum. It sounds like it could be amazing in so many ways.

So that’s all I have to say. *Steps off soapbox, sips coffee, and waits*

It was a DAY.

Ever have one of those days where so much goes wrong you find yourself crying while sitting in the backyard as a toddler plays trucks under the stairs? I had that kind of day today.

*Now, please understand that I am fully aware everything I’m about to explain totally count as first world problems.  I’ve been trying to remember to live life with a philosophy of, “I don’t have Ebola”, because there are people around the world with serious issues and my day-to-day annoyances aren’t even really worth addressing.  “Ugh, I have to make the kid bed a third time today!” – At least no one’s throwing acid at me for trying to get an education, you know?*

But this was a DAY.

It began not fifteen minutes after my husband walked out the door to go to work. With one flush of the toilet – after barely even doing ANYTHING, I swear! I only went #1 – the water began to fill and fill and soon my toilet was overflowing, and a lot. I rushed for every towel I could think of, while frantically trying to stop both my curious toddler and cat from marching themselves right into the middle of the flood.  Now, I’m not a clueless dumb girl, and I’ve lived in enough Chicago apartments to be aware that plumbing issues are common.  I even know some tricks. I got a wire hanger and tried to remove whatever was blocking the toilet, and then I tried the hot water and dish soap cure. Neither worked, so I was forced to call my leasing agency and wait for a plumber. Fortunately, it only took an hour and the plumber was great – fast and friendly.

So that happened, and generated quite a load of laundry that needed to get done ASAP.

I gathered the kid and his toys and his shoes and my shoes, figuring we’d play out in the yard while the laundry churned in the basement below. I got my son a juice box, and thought I’d get myself an iced tea.  Opening the fridge to get said tea, I noticed the tea jar level was really low…. because it had all leaked and gone into the crisper below, flooding my CSA vegetables. So, I grabbed the few towels that were left, ordered my poor darling toddler AGAIN out of the room, and set to work cleaning up an iced-tea-soaked, muddy-farmshare-vegetable mess.  In the end, all vegetables were fine and I even got one last glass of iced tea from the jar, while refraining from throwing it out the window.

Calling for my son, we headed outside and I began the laundry.  I set my last glass of iced tea on our little glass table by the porch.  Kid played merrily with his trucks while I ran back up to the second floor porch to grab the cardboard boxes I’d flattened to put in the recycling bin.  There were quite a few, and I knew getting them down the stairs would be a mess.  Obviously, I threw them over the edge.

The first three boxes went exactly where I threw them.  The fourth box blew back in the wind, knocked over our glass table, and spilled my iced tea everywhere.

Of course.

On the brink of losing it, I went down the stairs and angrily grabbed the cardboard boxes to take them the last few feet to the blue bins. One of them – mind you, the same one that knocked my tea over moments ago – would not fold, and so I had a hard time getting it into the bin while holding the lid open.

And then the recycling bin lid closed on my face, scraping my cheek.

I destroyed that cardboard box, but it got into the bin.

Then I sat in the grass.

I had a great time out back with my toddler – even if I did have to fix the dryer exhaust pipe in the basement so all the moist/hot air was going outside and not just staying in the basement.  We played in the sandbox and I read some of “A Feast for Crows” and we brought out some food and had a spontaneous picnic in the grass.  He’s a great kid, and was a trooper.  He even noticed I was sad and sang me a song to cheer me up.

Man, a DAY.

I got it back a little bit by making an awesome dinner, even though I cut myself a bit with a knife while peeling a squash and nearly put a hot pepper into the pan thinking it was a sweet pepper.

But yeah. Stick a fork in me, world. I am DONE.

openbooks

9/22 – Indian Boundary Park

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If there’s a nicer park in Chicago than Indian Boundary Park, I don’t know where it is. We stopped by this gorgeous park yesterday and had an incredible time wandering the beautifully-maintained grounds, playing on the epic wooden play structure, and running in the mist fountain.  There’s an entire Nature Play Center that we didn’t even make it to – so we’ll have to return. image

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9/21 – Everyday magic

What have we been up to for the past few days? A lot/not much.

I organized our garage. Which is not at all exciting, but our new apartment got us half of a garage for storage, and we’re thrilled. (THE WAGON CAN LIVE IN THE GARAGE!)

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We became Costco members thanks to an amazing LivingSocial deal – and took our first trip as members.  With our membership, I got a $20 gift card which I more than spent on glorious things; a 2 lb salami, rosemary olive oil bread, a 24 bottle Blue Moon Seasonal Sampler pack that includes a Cinnamon Horchata ale, large quantities of toddler snacks and mac and cheese, and 60 granola bars. I’m in love. We’re going back on Tuesday. ;)image

I attended a baby shower for a dear friend at Mon Ami Gabi in Oakbrook, which took a lot of traveling via the Blue Line, but turned out to be a wonderful time.  All baby showers should include a 3 course meal, champagne punch, and coffee and desserts.  While I was feasting, my husband and son went to Saturday Soccer and then visited Lincoln Square Applefest, where they enjoyed fresh apple doughnuts.  My husband also went to the kick-off event of the Museum of Contemporary Art’s “David Bowie Is” exhibit, and we’re now super excited to take in the exhibit in December.

Today is Monday, and we’re heading off to a park shortly to meet up with some other homeschooling families in the Chicagoland area. It’ll be my first Meetup, and I’m quite excited to make some new friends – and check out a park we’ve never been to.

Happy Monday!

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