Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy Birthday To Me

Yesterday was my 33rd birthday. It was nice. Didn't do much, got to sleep in and then read for a little while in the morning. Brendan took Emma and Zoe to Dominick's to pick out some flowers and a card for me. Emma was set on roses and picked out a lovely pink dozen of them. When looking at the cards, she settled on one with a great big pink rose on the front, sure that it was the one I wanted. It was a pretty card, although it was to "Mother" and read, "from both of us." Her intentions were sweet, so how could I not love it?

I made myself an almond cake from a cookbook I received from my mother-in-law for Christmas. I know many people think you shouldn't make your own cake for your birthday, but I actually enjoy it. Twice a year, my birthday and Mother's Day, I make whatever dessert or cake I want. I don't worry if the kids or Brendan will like it or eat it, I simply make what I want to try or have. This cake was simple and delicious. There was no frosting and it didn't need any. What I also loved about this cake is it made a single 9-inch layer, so not a lot of leftovers! Ian and Brendan both liked it, while Emma and Zoe wouldn't try it, opting instead for vanilla ice cream.

I received some cool presents from Brendan, a book called "Whose Bible Is It?", a program to organize all of my recipes on the computer, and some very warm and fleecy pajamas, which I've been wanting since we've turned the heat down this winter to counter the higher gas costs. The kids gave me lots of hugs and kisses and sang me happy birthday and "May the Dear Lord Bless You" sung to the tune of happy birthday. It was a good day.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Just want to say Merry Christmas to everyone today! May your day be filled with good food, good fun, and may you be surrounded by those you love.

Here are two samples of my children's art to celebrate the season. Emma made the tree while Ian created the snowman.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Polar Express

I fell in love with The Polar Express book by Chris Van Allsburg the first time I read it many years ago. Ian's first grade teacher, Miss Bennett, loves the story and movie, and got Ian excited about the story by creating a Polar Express in her classroom. The kids had doughnuts and hot chocolate, received a ticket that they had to have punched by the Conductor (Miss Bennett's Dad), then settled in to listen to the story read by Miss Bennett. Ian came home with a bell around his neck and a true excitement for the story. I suggested we rent the movie to watch tonight and he jumped at the chance. He added lines from the story while watching the movie and was very excited throughout. I loved the movie as well and think we need to get a copy for yearly Christmas viewing. Get the book and the movie, you won't be sorry.

Christmas Concert

Ian's Christmas Concert was on Wednesday and it was great! The kindergarten through third graders all gathered in the school gym to perform Christmas songs for their parents and families. The first graders performed first and sang their three songs loudly and clearly. The third song was about all of the things they are thankful for, and each first grader had a short solo. Ian sang loud enough (without microphones) for the whole audience to hear. It was fun.

The other grades came out and sang their songs, which our girls enjoyed as much as Ian's songs. Finally, the kindergarten came out and did their "Christmas Pageant" program. They sang about the Angel Band dressed as angels and played instruments with the gusto of 5 and 6 year olds. They then moved over to the Nativity scene, complete with Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus and angel Gabriel. While singing Silent Night, the shepherds and three wise men completed the scene. They ended with Away In A Manger and Zoe became very animated and excited seeing all the kids up on the stage. As I am a sucker for all things adorable, I choked up and realized how amazing and lucky I feel for sending Ian to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Every Christian kid should get a chance to act out the Nativity for Christmas. Those that don't are really missing out. I know how proud Ian was last year to be one of the three wise men. He still points out and gets excited about anything that involves the three kings.

Anyways, it was a great night. It is definitely one of my favorite Christmas experiences so far this year.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Oh My Gosh! I'm Conservative!

Found this on another website and thought it was kind of funny. Brendan and I have had a few discussions about the "War on Christmas" this year. If any of you were not previously aware of my political leanings, this should make it abundantly clear.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

I'll Give You More Any Day!

While carrying Zoe through the house today I gave her a big kiss on her left cheek. She giggled her big belly giggle then pointed to her right cheek and said, "Moe". I melted into a puddle on the floor then gave her a kiss on her other cheek.

This is why I became a mom.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Another Reason To Be Happy With What We've Got

Brendan and I have been living in our modest three bedroom one and a half bath home for almost six years now. It is actually our second home, having bought our first house out in Cleveland before moving here to Chicago. I love it, but it is a little small with three kids and a cat. It is also in a terrible school district, prompting us to have to pay for Ian to go to Catholic school. I have watched several of my neighbors, four very close ones in the last two years, move out of our neighborhood and into nicer, newer homes. Hey, we are thinking of looking in the Spring ourselves. But one of the good things about a smaller house with a southern rear exposure is we don't have to run our heat a lot. Our bills are pretty reasonable, although we have turned our thermostat down to 66 at all times and occasionally down to 64 at night with the threat of higher gas bills this year. I sometimes wear three layers (a turtleneck, a sweater, and a sweatshirt over it all) as well as slippers over my socks. But, when the sun is shining, even on a bitterly cold day, our house warms up so much that the heat doesn't run until the sun goes down for the day. This, and the fact that there simply is not a lot of square footage to heat, keeps our gas bill pretty reasonable.

My girlfriend with a new, beautiful home with high ceilings just got her most recent gas bill. It was $465!!!! Our last one was only around $180 or something I think. Not that I'm thrilled with that, but I'll take $180 anyday over $465. I feel bad for her, it sucks to have one bill that high and know we still have at least three more months of temperatures similar to the ones we are having right now. But, I'm happy that for this year, we are still in our little house, with our one and a half bathrooms, and our smaller gas bills.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Why Does Scrooge (McDuck) Hate Christmas?

Ian chose to watch "Mickey's Christmas Carol" for his show while I made dinner tonight. Brendan and I love just about any and all versions of Charles Dicken's "A Christmas Carol" so to have him make this choice made me happy. (We have at least three different children's versions of "A Christmas Carol" and hope to eventually get the kids to watch all of them as well as when they are older the 1999 version with Patrick Stewart-our favorite!)

Anyhow, as the story gets going Scrooge, played by Scrooge McDuck, is bah humbugging Christmas. This is where Ian takes the time to inform Emma, his little sister, why Scrooge hates Christmas so much.

Ian - He (Scrooge) hates Christmas.

Emma - Why?

Ian - I think his mom and dad were killed on Christmas Eve.

Emma - Does he like it even a little?

Ian - No.

I'm so glad Emma has someone like Ian to clarify the murky spots in the plot. Never mind that he mixed a little Batman lore into the story.

No Barenaked Holidays For Me

I'm pissed off right now! I went to the official Barenaked Ladies website and found out that the "Barenaked For The Holidays" special was going to air on Bravo today and possibly at a later date as well. I was all excited about it as BNL is my absolute favorite band of all time. I was getting online to blog about it and to give everyone a heads up about when they too could catch this great show. I checked the online listings for Bravo today and saw nothing. I typed in several variations in their search engine and still came up with bupkus. I go over to Bravo Canada's website and lo and behold it is right at the top of the page. Our options for the evening here in Bravo USA are Faith Hill or Elton John. Come on! Not even one lousy hour for the Ladies!?! I know they are Canadian, but they're awesome! E.J. is English but he is still being shown. BNL is singing Christmas music for goodness sakes!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Workin' Together

It snowed again last night/ this morning so Emma, Zoe and I went out to shovel the driveway after dropping Ian off at school. Emma loves using the little orange snow shovel and happily runs up and down the driveway carrying snow from one side all the way to the other to put in some pile she's making. I have to admit that at the start of the snow season I enjoy shovelling, too. It is one chore I actually like and unless it's really bitter cold, don't usually mind doing. It was cold this morning and before I had the driveway done my fingers were feeling cold and painful. I just wanted to get the work done and get inside.

Enter Emma. She comes pushing her shovel next to me, picking up snow and singing, "Working Together, working together" in the most angelic voice you can imagine. Her song warmed me up enough to finish the shovelling this morning.

Eeeewwwww! Yuck!!!

Okay, it's a given parents have to clean up gross stuff a lot. Poop, pee, vomit, spit, chewed up food, boogers and snot. But today when I was mopping the floor I got a lovely little surprise for my cleaning talents. As I cleaned the bathroom floor, I looked up at the wall next to the toilet and saw what appeared to be a poop smear. Not a big one, but a smear of feces nonetheless. I actually don't know for a fact that it is poop. Maybe it is half chewed up Tootsie Roll. Maybe not. My initial reaction (besides disgust) was to sniff it to make sure. Then my rational intelligent half of my brain said, "Don't do it! Don't smell it!" So I didn't smell it. Instead I just cleaned it up with my Antibacterial Clorox Wipes and hope I never see anything like it again!

A Happy "Blue Christmas"?

I borrowed the Fats Domino CD "Christmas Gumbo" from the library today and was listening to it while I mopped the kitchen floor. I like hearing different singers perform Christmas songs and since I don't have any Christmas songs sung by Fats Domino in my collection, thought I'd give this CD a try. It's pretty good, he leaves the songs fairly traditional while adding his own jazzy blues sound. But when I heard "Blue Christmas" I was amused. It was upbeat and snappy, I could almost hear Domino smiling while he sang it. I like it, a new version to enjoy.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

So Darn Cute You Could Just Eat Her Up!

This is Zoe, wearing her brother's Viking hat.

Gingerbread Cookies

Since the Christmas baking season was officially opened with the first batch of gingersnaps being made the first weekend of December, my kids have been talking about making gingerbread men. Yesterday Emma helped me mix up some gingerbread cookie dough. We stuck it in the fridge and waited for Ian to come home from school to roll out, cut, bake and decorate the cookies. Ian and Emma took turns with my little gingerbread boy and girl cookie cutters, as well as a star cutter and my big gingerbread boy cutter. After cutting out the cookies and depositing them on the cookie sheets, we baked them up and waited for them to cool. After they were completely cooled, I frosted each cookie with vanilla frosting and passed them on to Ian, Emma and Zoe for decorating. I sat an array of colored sugars and Christmas themed sprinkles out and let the kids go to town. They each began shaking and sprinkling their tasty decorations all over the frosted cookies. Ian and Emma both asked if their cookies looked nice while Zoe kept trying to open new sections of her sprinkles can so she could add more sparkle to her cookies. Zoe got both of my variety cans covered in frosting from her cookies and giggled while she licked the frosting off the tops. Fortunately this is the third year or so for those sprinkles, so they were pretty well done anyways. I had to throw both containers away after Zoe's masterful decorating.

It took a lot of patience on my part to not clean up all the sprinkles as they rained onto the floor and not to tell the kids to use less sprinkles on the cookies as they coated every inch of frosting with non-pareils. It bugs the heck out of me when there is a lot of waste of sprinkles or other things like that. But I also know it kills the fun when mom tells the kids to use the sprinkles they've already spread all over the table. When I act like that, what begins as fun ends up as my kids saying they don't want to frost any more cookies. So , I bit my tongue and took satisfaction in the fact that I may have actually learned one thing in my six plus years as a parent. The kids and I had a ball, and the cookies obviously turned out beautiful!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Snow Ice Cream

Besides playing in the snow yesterday, we also made snow ice cream to eat. We waited until Ian got home from school and then set to work making our treat. I made this for the first time last year and followed a simple recipe. This year, I just winged it. And, it came out much tastier this time than I remember it being last year. Here is my simple recipe for snow ice cream. Try it the next time you get a fresh snowfall.
Snow Ice Cream

Fresh snow
half & half

Fill a mixing bowl with fresh snow. Add some sugar and some half & half. Stir. If two snowy and thick, add more half & half. Taste. If not sweet enough, add more sugar. Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (or to taste). Stir until well incorporated. Eat and enjoy!

Use the milk if you run out of half & half. It will still be good. I used 1% milk when all of my half & Half was gone. I tried this recipe last year with evaporated milk and just regular milk, no half & half. It was okay, but this year's batch was nice and creamy. It will be like soft serve, and you have to eat it all right away. It's a lot of fun to do with the kids on a cold snowy day!

Friday, December 09, 2005

Did You Do Anything Fun Today?

Emma has been talking about playing in the snow since the first few flakes appeared in November. I always assured her that when we got a lot of snow, we would go out and play in it. Well, that's just what we did this morning! Emma and Zoe loved the deep snow, and Emma insisted on pulling her sister in the sled. After some snow angel making, sled riding and pulling, snowball making and hockey playing in the driveway, we finally went inside. All that in less than 30 minutes!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Watch Out Notre Dame!

I'm thinking OSU is a shoe-in for the Fiesta Bowl title. Just a hunch.

Thanks, Mark!

Christmas Kindness

It is so easy to get caught up in the frothy busyness of the Christmas season. I am feeling it more this year than in years past. Tonight I was reminded of the true spirit of Christmas and Christ. My two teenaged neighbor boys, of whom I don't even know their names, and they don't know mine, came and shovelled my driveway. I didn't ask them to. They didn't ask me. They came over, shovelled, and left, without any word. I probably wouldn't have even known they did it except that when I was making dinner I went out into the garage to get some hot dogs from the freezer and heard shovelling sounds. I peeked out my window and there they were, shovelling my driveway and sidewalks. I am so touched by their act of kindness. I am going to try and pass that kindness on to someone else now. Get in the Christmas spirit, do a kindness for someone without thought of thanks. You'll feel so much better about it than running to the mall to get the perfect present.

Humbled By My Kid 2

So Emma, my three year old so full of wisdom, floored me again this afternoon. We were making a nativity art project where Emma was coloring a picture of Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. While coloring, she said that crosses were bad. I asked her why she said that. She said crosses were bad because the bad soldiers put the big (adult) Jesus on the cross and he died.

All I can say is, Wow!

Holy Day of Obligation

Today is the Solemnity of Mary, a holy day of obligation for Catholics. I took the girls with me to Our Lady of Good Counsel's mass at 9:00 AM because that was the mass Ian was attending with his school today. I have only attended mass there a few times because we belong to a different parish. As I was waiting for mass to begin with my two girls I waved to Ian who seemed very happy to see me. I also noticed Father Tony setting up an electric guitar. He is an older, balding priest with a strong Polish accent. There was no piano accompinament today, but there was Fr. Tony, with his electric guitar. All the traditional hymns were sung by the students, parishioners and teachers led by Fr. Tony on the electric guitar. Kind of different, but still good. The rest of the mass was fairly simple, students doing the readings and Fr. Russell giving his sermon about Mary. To be quite honest, I didn't get a lot out of it because I had two squirming girls I was trying to keep in line. At the end of mass one of the students announced that the closing song would be "Letter B." Or so I thought. The kids had been given papers with songs on it, I just thought they were lettered and not numbered. Imagine my surprise when strains of the Beatles tune, "Let It Be" came from the electric guitar and mouths of the kids! Very different indeed! I don't know if the students even know the origins of the song, but I sure did. I also know I never got to sing a Beatles song when I left church! It was a memorable service!

Humbled By My Kids

Ian and I had a rough morning yesterday. He is by nature a dawdler who can get lost in his imagination and spend much time there when he should be doing something else. After many bad mornings when he was a kindergartner, I thought I had figured out how to get him moving without having to nag, yell or cajole him. I give him plenty of time to get ready, (the minimum times are: 20 minutes for breakfast, 20 minutes for getting dressed, and 10 minutes for brushing his teeth) and occasionally check up on him without raising my voice or being negative. But yesterday things didn't go as planned. He had at least 30 minutes to get dressed, and despite all of my calm reminders and quick checks on him, he still couldn't get moving. I finally ended up threatening to take away some of his priveleges, and then he got angry with me because I couldn't help him that second to button up his shirt. (I was dressing his two little sisters at the time.) Of course by now I'm aggravated and worried we are going to be late to school. Ian is mad because I'm telling him it is his fault we are late, and things just went downhill from there. He couldn't find his hat and gloves I had laid out for him, he couldn't zip up his jacket, his bag wasn't zipped. On top of all this, I spilled Ian's milk leftover from his cereal when I opened the cupboard and a sugar shaker came out and landed in his bowl. I was in the midst of cleaning that up when I see Ian purposely crush two of the Froot Loops Zoe had spilled all over the floor. Instantly, I'm pissed off. Not only do I have enough to clean up already, but my six year old son who can't seem to get dressed in less than an hour is adding to my mess! Needless to say, I didn't handle it well. I know he didn't do it to make more of a mess for me. I know it is a six year old boy's natural instinct to want to crush something just because he can. But at the time I had had quite enough.

Anyways, fast forward to this morning, which went much better, basically due in my part from deciding not to react to him that way again. I made a chart with the three main things he has to do in the morning. If he does them in the right amount of time and without me having to stand over him, he gets a sticker on the chart. Today he didn't earn one for getting dressed. But he did for eating breakfast and brushing teeth. However, I didn't get upset and neither did he. I didn't take any priveleges away or raise my voice. I did tell him that if he was late to school, he would have to explain to his teacher and to the secretary why he was late, that I would not do it for him. We weren't late, but I have decided that if we are I'm not going to make any excuses for him. I am also not going to get angry. There are worse things than being late. Like yelling at your kid in the morning.

Amazingly, Emma said something very profound to me on the way to taking Ian to school today. We were talking about God and Jesus and when he was born and such. Referencing yesterday morning and my difficulties with Ian, Emma said, "Jesus gave you a very good brain, so you shouldn't be mean to us." So profound, and from the mouth of a three year old!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

The Loot

Ian and Emma woke up to find that St. Nick had indeed come to our house. He brought Ian five gold chocolate coins and a Star Wars Clone Wars comic digest book. Emma also received five gold chocolate coins and a Barbie Fairytopia comic digest book. Zoe didn't know she was supposed to look in her shoes, but appreciated the six gold chocolate coins that she got when she woke up!

Ian's Not Very Good At Keeping A Secret

Ian came home from school today and was giving me the usual lowdown on how his day went. Then he added that he was making two ornaments at school and that he would be putting them in a bag when he was done making them. He said one was for me, and one was for his Dad. He also stated that he wasn't going to tell me what kind of ornaments they were. I told him that he shouldn't tell me so that it would be a surprise.

Right after I said that to him, Ian says,"It's a gold sticker with three angels and I put Christmas lights around it. We had to do it with yarn."

I stood there staring at him in disbelief. The boy who wasn't going to tell me anything about the ornaments he was making for me just spilled the beans. And not just a detail or two, but the whole project! I smiled and let him go on about how he was going to wait until Brendan and I are asleep on Christmas Eve and then he's going to get up and put the bag with the ornaments under the tree.

I'll be rehearsing a good surprised look between now and Christmas day!

A Lesson On The Circulatory System

While playing in the basement this morning, I came across Ian's old doctor kit toy, and got it out for Emma and Zoe to play with. Emma was absolutely delighted with the discovery and immediately morphed into a doctor with pink Barbie examination gloves and a penchant for giving shots in interesting places. I immediately was her patient, first a baby, then a kitty. She looked at my eyes and ears and took my temperature. She made me take good tasting "juice medicine" and listened to my heart with the stethoscope. Her favorite tool quickly became the blood pressure cuff. She pumped it relentlessly after attaching it to my wrist, checking occasionally to see what number appeared in the display. It was touch and go for a while, anytime the cuff said "64", my hand blew up. After about three explosions, she gave up on the cuff and went back to the stethoscope. She dutifully moved it around on my chest the way her pediatrician has done to her so many times.

Unfortunately, our medical set is not like the old Fisher Price doctor kit that had a working stethoscope. I used that stethoscope often when I was a kid. It was so cool to hear your own heart thumping and beating in your ears. Remembering that excitement, I asked Emma if she would really like to hear my heartbeat. Getting quiet, she put her ear on my chest and listened intently. Suddenly she pulled her head back and had a huge smile on her face. "I heard your heart!" she exclaimed. I asked her what it sounded like. She again put her head on my chest and listened. Again she pulled her head off of me and described a ka-chunk sound. The best part came next. Emma decided that it sounded like there were people inside my heart building my heart. She didn't think the heart could build itself, so there must be people inside building it.

Three year olds have a great view on life!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Set Your Shoes Out Tonight!

Don't forget to leave your shoes out tonight! St. Nicholas is coming and you don't want to miss any of the treats he might leave! Our kids listened to St. Nicholas's story at church this past Sunday and were eager to leave out their shoes tonight. Emma even called me back into her room tonight after going to bed to ask me when the man who would put stuff into their shoes was coming. I told her he wouldn't come until everyone was asleep. It's going to be hard to get Ian or Emma to sleep late tomorrow!

A Visit With Santa

I took the kids to see Santa Claus today. I wasn't sure I was going to do it today or not, so I didn't tell them until just before we went. That meant Emma found out just before picking Ian up from school. She was all atwitter with excitement for seeing Santa. She wondered how long it would take us to get to the North Pole. I explained that it was way too far to go all the way to the North Pole, so Santa came here for a little while so we could see him. She seemed happy with that explanation and couldn't wait until we could get Ian and go see Santa. I told Ian we were going to see Santa when he came out of school and he was very excited. He wondered how Santa travelled here and how long it would take until we saw him. He also wondered if Santa was real, which I told him he better not say to Santa! (He's been bringing this up a lot lately, though never asking us if Santa is real, just contemplating it.) He also said on the way that all he wanted for Christmas was for all of us to have a good Christmas, which I thought was sweet (though probably involves him receiving some specific gifts that we've been hearing about for the last two weeks!)

I took the kids to see Santa at the Phillip's Park Zoo Welcome Center in Aurora. It was great! First of all, there was no one else there. We had Santa and the entire place to ourselves! Second, there's no photographer, you bring your own camera and get your own pictures. Third, it's FREE!!!! Finally, the Santa is very nice.

While Ian ran around looking at all the mastodon fossils located in the Visitor's center, Emma decided to talk to Santa. For all of her excitement about seeing the man in red, she clammed up at the actual meeting. When asked her name she squeaked out an "Emma" and then stood there silent. Santa asked her what she wanted for Christmas and all she said was, "A Gameboy." (Her big brother has been filling her head with ideas about princess and Barbie gameboy games and that she can get a Gameboy when she is older - she has never played a Gameboy, though she has watched her brother play his often enough.) Santa asked if there was anything else she wanted, and I prompted her with a few suggestions which she repeated and then she was done. Santa gave her a coloring book and Emma beamed as she left Santa's side.

Ian took his turn next and took no time at all in mentioning his number one gift choice - the DK King of Swing Gameboy game. After that his memory faltered a little and he mentioned how he had a whole list at home. I reminded him of one or two things, after which he recalled two or more things on his own. Santa reminded Ian he could write him a letter with the other ideas. Ian received his coloring book and went back to invesigating the fossils.

Zoe was a bit of a harder sell. She was interested in Santa, but from afar. She was fine sitting on her seat about 15 feet from Santa,and even okay when brought closer in my arms, but once Santa started talking to her, she pulled her sour face and covered her eyes. We asked her if she wanted to sit on Santa's lap, and she gave an emphatic "No!" I tried to get all three kids with Santa, but Zoe would have nothing to do with it.

On our way out Santa reminded the kids to leave cookies and milk for him, and some carrots for his reindeer, because they get hungry, too. It was a lot of fun, and much better than the lines and chaos of the mall. If you have a kid and you live in or near Aurora, it is well worth the time to stop by the Phillips Park Visitors Center and say "hi" to Santa. Who knows, maybe he'll bring you something special, too!

Fiesta Bowl

The Buckeyes are going to drill the little green Irish men of Notre Dame. Mark my words! That's all I'm going to say about that!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Field Trip

Today was Ian's field trip with his first grade class to the Adler Planetarium. Unfortunately when Ian was in kindergarten I was unable to go on any field trips with him. So this year when Brendan offered to take the day off to stay with the girls, I jumped at the chance to go with Ian on his first field trip. We got to the school a little before 8:00 AM and headed in to wait in his classroom with all the other parents and kids. Ian has 16 students in his class. Thirteen parents attended the field trip. We boarded the yellow bus with all students accounted for and headed downtown for our hour long ride. When we got to the planetarium the kids were excited and anxious. Once we stuffed our coats into a locker (it cost $1 for a locker, so we got eight coats into one half locker), and stowed our lunches on a cart for us, we headed into the planetarium.

There were several schools there today, and our first graders were definitely the youngest there. I think the rest of the classes ranged in age from sixth grade through high school. The kids ran around and touched every button they could get their hands on. They spent only a little time at each exhibit, but thoroughly enjoyed the exciting things they were seeing. There was a lifesize replica of a training space capsule that the kids could climb into and get a real feeling for what the astronauts went through. Ian loved the centrifugal "ride" as the kids were calling it, where he and three other classmates got strapped into two boxes that spun around in circles so they could experience a little of the g-force that astronauts experience during space travel. He also enjoyed the Atwood Sphere, which is the oldest planetarium in Chicago. It was built in 1913 and is still available for people to go into. Another exhibit that impressed Ian was the room that appeared to have no floor or ceiling, but just stars. The kids were really hesitant to walk into it, because it appeared that they were walking on air. I actually had a pang of jealousy for the kids, because after a few seconds and gaining my bearings, I could see the mirrored floor and ceiling. After that the magic of walking on "really clean glass" as Ian put it just was kind of lost on me. There was a great 3-D movie that lasted about five minutes (the perfect length for 6 year old boys!) with stars and planets that appeared to come right at you. Another fun exhibit was a crater maker where the kids could push a button that would blow a puff of air out and into what looked like fine moon dust powder.

When it was time to leave, Ian didn't want to go. He loves outings like these, and despite his flitting from one exhibit to another, he really absorbed a lot of information. He wants to go back sometime, which I assured him we would do.

The trip back to school was a little hard on Ian. His best friend wanted to sit with two other little boys in Ian's class. Even though there are still two other boys in Ian's class who didn't have anyone to sit with, he didn't want to sit with them. He sat with me and by the time we got back to school was his old self. It is so hard to watch your child be hurt by things like that, but he has to learn to accept that people can have more than one friend. And his best friend wasn't being mean to him, he simply wanted to sit with some other kids.

After a spelling test, school was dismissed and Ian was invited over to his best friend's house for the afternoon. I let him go, knowing it would help heal the hurt from the bus ride. He had a great afternoon at his friend's house, and a good day all around.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Snow Day!

I know it didn't snow a lot. But it snowed enough for my kids to be excited about it. When we tumbled out the garage door to get into the van to take Ian to school this morning, Ian and Emma couldn't resist walking through the coating of snow on the driveway. Emma talked of building snowmen and making snow angels. Ian noticed how slippery the driveway had become and cautioned me to be careful. After dropping Ian off at Good Counsel, the girls and I headed home. Upon pulling into the driveway Emma asked if we could stay outside and play for a little while. I told her she and Zoe could play outside while I shovelled the driveway, but they had to wear hats and gloves. Emma readily agreed and out into the chilly air we went. Emma insisted on helping me shovel with her little orange child's snow shovel. She wanted to make "a big pile of snow" that she could jump into or sled down. She began piling snow in the middle of the driveway, which I mentioned to her was counterproductive to my shovelling. She decided to move her pile to the grass next to the driveway and proceeded to shovel any snow she could find and carry it to her pile. Zoe mainly played in the garage, getting into the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe or sitting on the "fast bike." As I neared the end of the driveway with my shovel, I looked up to see Zoe standing at the edge of the garage with the only shovel she could find, a sand shovel. I think it was the cutest thing I have ever seen. My heart felt like it was going to burst with the love I felt for her and my other two kids right then.

After finishing the shovelling, Zoe wanted to go on a walk in the stroller. Emma is always up for a walk somewhere, so I got her scooter out and we went down the sidewalk leaving wheel and foot marks in the unshovelled snow. Emma quickly decided it was too difficult to scooter through the snow so we stowed her scooter under the stroller and continued on our way. Emma made snow balls and through them at me and thought she was very funny. When our legs got cold, we turned around and headed for home. At one corner of the sidewalk where the snow had not yet been walked on, Emma decided to make three snow angels. We both decided they were beautiful. We went on home, Emma changed out of her wet clothes, and we settled in for a fun day at home.


Emma's last day of ballet class was on Tuesday. I got to watch her dance and take a few cute pictures. Even though Emma loves the class, I've decided not to sign her up for the Spring session. I would like to, but if she takes the Spring session class there is a recital that I have to buy a $50 dollar costume for, and then, I also have to buy tickets to the recital, too. I heard that the recital is for all of the dance groups taught at the community center, which means it is about a two hour affair, of which my three year old daughter would be on stage all of five to seven minutes. Don't get me wrong, I think the recital would be adorable, and Emma would probably enjoy it. But, she's only three. Doesn't she have plenty of years ahead to do these kinds of things? I just can't see spending about $70 for a recital, plus the $55 the class costs as well. I think nowadays we get our kids into stuff so early that there is nothing exciting left for them to do when they get older. Therefore they are doing things that used to be reserved for teenagers and young adults at younger and younger ages. Only one other mother in the ballet class agreed with me. Many of the other parents tried to get me to change my mind. I have to admit there were times when I questioned whether I was doing the right thing. But $50 for a costume is a lot. She can do the recital thing when she is older if she wants to, but for now we'll take that money and save it for something else