Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Chicago Redux

So, it turned out that we got the tickets to Banana Shpeel, and, thanks to grandparent-sitting, got to go. Karen and I took a one night trip to the Palmer House. It was quite a fun a show, with a real Vaudeville flavor and some spectacular variety-style performers. More dance than I was expecting, and it was good stuff. The premise is some audience members audition and then cause havoc.

We included 2 visits to the Art Institute, to revisit the 3rd floor of the modern wing, as well as catch the Arts and Crafts exhibit Apostles of Beauty, and the Caravaggio exhibit around The Supper at Emmaus. Both were worthwhile, with the arts and crafts being particularly well thought out.

A real discovery for us was the Heaven on Seven restaurant on Wabash. We had an awe-inspiring Louisiana breakfast, in particular the ambrosia that is their Voodoo sauce. It is now impossible to imagine a trip to Chicago without a visit there. There are 2 locations, with the Loop one being only open for breakfast and lunch. It made me very happy.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

May your Christmas be joyful!

Once again, we have a postal miracle and actually sent Christmas cards this year, of the e- and non e- variety. Ysabela references a couple movies they made, and those are here:
Humans are High in Fiber
Care and Feeding of Dragons

Xavier says: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Years. Bela is not ready for comment.

Neither is ready to talk about presents yet. John got cool superhero tees, a Dr. Who DVD set, the RENT DVD, an unowned Calvin and Hobbes book and they came wrapped in handmade Tick bags. Karen is also not ready for comment. Makes it sound mysterious. If only they hadn't opened the monkey's paw...

Just kidding, no monkeys. See below, totally innocent:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Verse of the Day

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

- Luke 1:78-79

I thought the verse of the day today from Sojourner's just completely captured my feelings about Christmas this year.

Best of advent to you all!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

December Catsup

Not too much going on with us - the usual Christmas/end of semester rush and bustle.

Bela's foray into basketball finished up with a Saturday tournament where they played four ten minute games. Hank and Marilynn came out for all four games. Up to the last game they had a chance to get into the semifinals, but ran into a determined Robinson team. Bela learned a lot, and really tried hard - especially considering that she rapidly regretted her decision to sign up. Her coach mentioned how far she progressed several times and was amazed at how well she listened. This Friday we had a father-daughter basketball game. Thankfully no pictures, but it was great fun.

Karen got the house decortated for Christmas, inside and out, despite all the other stuff going on. The house color looked a bit out of place in the browns and golds of autumn, but a little snow and voila, back to minty fresh.

Joseph and Mary have started making their way.

This weekend was the Christmas pagaent, and the fundraiser for the Sunday School to buy a cow for a family in a third world country. (Through Heifer International.) We thought a cow ($500) might be out of their reach, but the combined Christmas card sales plus bake sale raised enough for a cow, a sheep, and maybe some chickens. There was great rejoicing. Miss Leslie did an amazing job with both things going on at once. Karen had the sales looking like a real marketplace today.

Backstage at the pagaent.

Narrators on the march.

And I don't know if we'll finish the planned DVD production, but if we do, you'll see something like this:


Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving on the Other Side

After much planning and effort by Karen, the stars aligned and the waters parted (or the snows held off), and we made it to Chicago for Thanksgiving. Stopped at the Museum of Science and Industry for Holidays around the world, but also love the standing exhibits there. Checked in, and K had found a great rate back at the Palmer House.

The renovations are complete, and, thanks to Percy Jackson, the kids were into all the mythological art in the lobby. Y and K liked the Peacock theme... is that new? We finished the day in Pilsen at the Museo Nacional del Arte Mexicano, a beautiful little museum, and a great dinner at the Nuevo Leon.

Wednesday we started with Graham Crackers, Xavier's favorite Chicago comic book store. (Cool toys and a great comic selection, especially the graphic novel collections.) We wandered over to the Cristkindlemarket preview day in Daley Plaza, for some good German food on the hoof, warm cider and to goggle at the amazing handicraft. Bela longed for a handcarved dragon and cat, and even karen thought there were neat things. (She's not much a one for 'stuff'.)

Macy's made it clear that Christmas was coming, and both the kids dropped off their Santa letters to contribute to Make-a-Wish.

In the late afternoon we went for a couple hours to the amazing new Modern Wing of the Art Institute. It's gorgeous, even if some of the art is stressful. The third floor is my favorite with all the gorgeous early 20th century modern. The architecture is astounding. After the museum closed, we headed down Michigan Ave to the Mag Mile and the Lego store. (Now a must stop on any Chicago visit.) Ysabela got a neat Christmas village set, which became the Thursday night activity, and now the centerpiece of the dining room table, with the addition of an X-nativity.

Thursday was the parade, which was cool, and relatively sparsely attended, because of a bit of drizzle. It was mostly balloons, bands and folkloric dance troops. (Including the excellent Polish marching cello.) The kids were troopers for the full duration. The people who got there way early left about halfway through, promoting us to the front row.

I thought Rocky needed a moose, but he was just lagging behind.

Afterwards we had an amazing Thanksgiving dinner. Xavier is quick to count his lamb chops as the most amazing.

Afterwards, we revisited the Christkindlmarket, where we bumped into a Cirque de Soleil group promoting their new show, Banana Shpeel. I am proud to report that I officially have award winning schpiel, as we found out a few days later we won 2 tickets to the show. (Now how do we get there...?)

Friday we left early and had clear sailing out. Great trip, better than we could have hoped for.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Hallow's Eve 2009

Always with the fighting, those Jedi.

Halloween was oddly sedate this year, with limited trick-or-treating, but fun nonetheless. Minnebos came, with thier usual infusion of fun, food and fantastic art and costumes. In particular this year, Gregg's buzz generating $50, award-winning pumpkin. Karen put on the usual feast and we had a great stream of trick-or-treater-visitors. Hank and Marilynn somehow avoided the camera, bu grandma manned the door for a stretch, and Henry took Bela on her rounds.

Except for the smiling, that's Quinlan Vos.

And I know you'll want to see THE pumpkin. Judging from the number of photos taken last night, it should be all over the internet by this morning.

The kids gave out sugar skull awards this year. (First annual?) Some standard and some creative categories.

Halloween'een we got to take Marilyn out to dinner for a slightly belated 73rd birthday celebration. We went to the Boatwerks in Holland, terrific place, then back home for stout cake.