28 February 2014

TKD Testing


The boys have lost their momentum with taekwondo lately. It's mainly due to their busy lives. But I notice that when we aren't able to make it a part of their regular schedule, they also lose some interest. It's been a year since they tested for their last belt and was definitely time to move up. So, last night they tested for their brown belts. I have to admit, I was a little nervous. But they both did great! H stepped it up and lead one of the forms and demonstrated one of the kicking combinations. Both struggled with their break -- a step-over back swing kick -- but ended up getting it in the end. C definitely showed some perseverance. Poor guy's foot was totally bleeding by the time he actually broke it. Of course, we had Grand Master sign the board for him. Both were extremely proud of themselves, as were we. (I also volunteered -- you can see me in the red belt against wall in the top photo. It was so much fun.)

27 February 2014



There was awhile that Brian and I were into ... fencing! It was something we both really loved to do. We stopped around the time we got married, simply due to lack of time. But we do miss it. There are three types of swords in fencing - foil, épée and sabre -- each with their own set of rules. Brian had fenced foil before, but when we picked the sport up together, we both trained with an épée. We even participated in a few competitions. The one with me photographed above was in Wisconsin in 1997. I remember doing really well in this tournament -- even winning a metal. Good stuff.

25 February 2014

Inspiration Files :: Open to the Outdoor

To be honest, this house -- located near Barcelona -- didn't initially blow me away with it's exterior. But I kept coming back to it, and to say it's totally grown on me is an understatement. Take a look at it! I particularly love how the buildings are joined together by rooms that can be closed off, or open to the outdoor thanks to folding doors. It's really quite perfect.

House 1101 || H Arquitectes || via Dezeen

23 February 2014

The Domes


Brian and H had a bit of a father-son day today, so it was just me and C for a few hours. We decided to go breathe in some fresh plant air at the Mitchell Park Domes. The Garden Railroad Show was also going on, with this year's theme being Steampunk. C's never really been a big fan of trains, but enjoyed the little bit of time we spent there today. I couldn't help but be a little bit nostalgic. The last time we went to the Domes when the train show was going on was six years ago. I mean, just look at those little guys! It's hard to believe.

Board Break-A-Thon


This was our third year attending the Board Break-A-Thon that our taekwondo school puts on to raise funds for the MACC Fund. This was the 20th year of the event. Over those years, over $600,000 has been raised for the MACC Fund. It's a great day, for an incredible cause. We made it in time to watch our dojang's demo team perform and then H&C each broke five boards. Good stuff.

20 February 2014



For years, if you would have asked me what I would have grabbed out of my house if there was ever a fire, my answer would have been my photo albums. I have a quite an extensive collection. If anything ever happened to them, I would be absolutely devastated. But at the same time, I rarely even think about them anymore. It probably has something to due with the fact that I cannot even remember the last time I actually printed a photograph. My, how times have changed. I suppose one of these days I should really go through them to downsize and scan them... In the meantime, I thought it might be fun to go through some of them and hop on board the 'Throwback Thursday' kick. By the way, this is me. Approximately 2 years old.

17 February 2014

Work Horse


Yep. It snowed again. A lot. The crazy thing is, H&C were supposed to have off of school today -- but thanks to all the other days they have had off due to weather, the district decided to hold classes today after all. Thank goodness it wasn't called off again. Can you even imagine? All I know, is this has been one long winter. And I'm just so thankful for H, who has been such a huge help this year -- always ready to help out with the shoveling and snow blowing. He is truly awesome.

16 February 2014



Yesterday, Brian went out to Milford Hills for a day of pheasant hunting with friends and family. It was part of a grand plan to distract my cousin, Justin, from a surprise 40th birthday dinner his wife Amy was throwing for him there. The boys and I headed out later in the day, and met up with the rest of the gang for a very fun dinner. Besides Justin turning 40, it happened to be Amy's actual birthday. Plus her mom turned 60 just a couple days earlier. Lots of reasons to celebrate.

15 February 2014

February 15th ... ish

February 14, 2013 -- Celebrating Valentine's Day

February 15, 2012 -- A visit from Papa while he was in town from Florida

February 15, 2011 -- Telling stories in their homemade battle ship

February 15, 2010 -- A day off of school for President's Day

February 14, 2009 -- A trip to the Art Institute of Chicago

February 16, 2008 -- Lunch at the boys favorite restaurant, The Choo-Choo Restaurant

Our Valentine's Day



We celebrated Valentine's Day the way we typically do -- with a nice dinner at home with the boys. I try to keep it simple and a little bit fancy. We had salad with a dressing made with blood orange pomegranate vinegar from The Farm Kitchen, surf & turf, whole cauliflower with dates / pistachios / whipped cheese (a recipe my friend Melissa shared with me), and a self-saucing chocolate pudding. Spending the evening with my valentines -- perfect. I'm just so lucky.

11 February 2014

Olympic Torch


H&C have totally been into the Olympics this year, which has been really fun. C's class in particular is learning about it a lot. Last week, one of his teacher's neighbor's came in to talk to the class. He was a torch carrier in the 2012 Olympics, and even brought in the actual torch he carried for them to see and get photographed with. This torch has 8,000 holes in it, representing the number of people who were part of the relay. Neat.

09 February 2014

Roller Skating


This has been a super fun, super relaxing weekend. On Saturday, we made our first family taekwondo class in what seems like forever. We're still going, but rarely together. Practicing as a family is one of the things I've loved most about taekwondo, and I really do wish that it happened more often. Oh well, we do what we can. After that, C went to a birthday party for one of his soccer friends. It was at Rollaero roller skating rink. Oh my gosh, the place was absolutely awesome and he had such a blast. Afterwards, we visited Grandma Joan and went out for dinner. It's really nice to get weekends like this. Today we need to hunker down and get loads of school work and house work done. Nice to be able to do that too, I guess.

06 February 2014

Inspiration Files :: Converted Barn

I'm way into this converted barn, as you can imagine. Located in Yorkshire, it was built in the late 16th century and was originally an agricultural shed. It was abandoned for years before it was turned into a residence by Snook Architects. Cat Hill Barn was on the verge of collapse, requiring a new roof and the external walls to be secured by using a steel structural frame. "Spatially we wanted to retain the spirit of the place by allowing the barn to reveal itself and its double-height volume at key points," said architect Neil Dawson. I think it's amazing.

more information || via Dezeen || photography by Andy Haslam