Sunday, December 30, 2007

What Happened to Baby?

Yesterday, I finally put away all remaining baby items in my house. I boxed up all the true baby toys...even though they still get played with from time to time. I took out all the onesies...since the 'baby' is potty trained (!). I took all the receiving blankets out of the closet...we use them in the summertime. I took all those cute hooded-towels out of the bathroom...and replaced them with big kid hoodies.

So, we have no baby here anymore. Although the 2yo sits on my lap and says "Mommy's baby." It wasn't sad...but just a moment to reflect. And, of course, my husband starts talking about another baby....ha!

Now if we could only get rid of all the diapers...we are close.

And the nursing...

Friday, December 28, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

So many people vow to get in shape for the New Year...and the Fitness Center in Champaign and Monticello is offering a great deal to help you achieve that goal.

For 1 day only...join the FC for $1!
New Year's Day from 11am-4pm sign up for just $1!

They are also starting a Lost It at the Club weight loss and fitness program in January. We'll help you lose those holiday pounds.

Obviously, we love the FC (I work there and have worked out there for years). It is a great family-orientated gym with free, on-site childcare! Lots of classes, cardio machines, weights, personal trainers, special programs...and more.

Check it out. Stop in and take a tour or stay for a class. Just think...the gym is the only place to take a shower without anyone bothering you.

Joining a gym can be expensive but if you look for the right time to join, it can be great. Many gyms offer special deals in January...watch out for them. It is an investment in your health and well-being and will save you money in medical costs in the future.


**If you don't want to join a gym but need something to get your going...check out Discovery Health's National Body Challenge or Sparks People. These are both free programs to help you integrate exercise and healthy eating into your life.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holidays!

We're out to see the family for the holidays! Everyone have a great and safe holiday!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Movie Review: Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tim Burton, R, 1hr 56min

So, I took the opportunity to have some me-time before the big holiday. So, I headed to the movies. I was so excited to see this movie...that I broke the plan to see it with my husband. There I go...battle shopping traffic...get carded while buying my ticket...buy some over-buttered popcorn....sit through way too many commercials and previews (mostly horror movies and Mamma Mia!)...and a long music video....finally it starts.

The music starts and continues....no singing...no distinct Sweeney whistle....but I'm ok with that. Eliminating the chorus of the cast allows the film to seem less-musically (although the songs were seemlessly evoked throughout the film). Opening credits are great...very excited.

This revenge story takes place in a dark and dirty London...on Fleet Street. Sweeney was deceptively imprisoned by the local judge so that he could have his pretty wife. Fast forward 15 years...Sweeney is back, wife is gone, their daughter is in the charge of the judge. Sweeney is mad and he's not going to take it anymore.

Acting as a barber, which he was in his previous life, he waits for his opportunity to take vengeance on the judge and be reunited with his family. Well, things take some bad and bloody turns. Helping with the bloody part is Mrs. Lovett, a local baker and apparent owner of Sweeney's former home and shop. She develops an innovative way to help Sweeney. It is filled with villains and it takes a lot of thought to understand who is really the worst (but that's another discussion) That's the plot in a nutshell and without giving much away.

This is one of my favorite musicals...I almost obsess over it. I really liked the adaptation. It took some things out, of course, but I understand why and it worked (however, the lovers' duet "Kiss Me" was sorely missed). It also added some dialogue to beef up the plot (since they took out the long songs and I guess viewers need everything explained to them). The visual aspects were amazing...the sets, cinematography, editing....great. It basically looks like an old movie...almost in black and white.

The casting was a bit off, however. I love Johnny Depp...normally! And he actually did an ok job as Sweeney. His singing isn't Broadway...more rock-n-roll but it worked. What bothered me was that he had the same expression on his face the whole movie. Helena Bonham-Carter was very poorly cast. She can't sing, she's too pretty, she has no comedic skills. What a waste of a part. Alan Rickman was good...can't sing (which ruined one of the most beautiful songs ever written, "Pretty Women"). Timothy Spall was as creepy as ever. The problem in these last three actors...is that they are playing the same roles in the same way we have already seen them in (Have you seen Harry Potter? Fight Club? Corpse Bride?). Sacha Baron Cohen does a great job in his character cameo (you should tuck next time). The three new comers playing Toby, Anthony, and Johanna were great. Strong, strong singing and solid acting.

Overall, it was an acceptable adaptation for this masterpiece by Stephen Sondheim....except for one thing...BLOOD! It was excessive, unnecessary, and literally-nauseating. It was ridiculous. I couldn't watch it and it pretty much ruined what would have been a pretty good movie. If Burton was going for the old, horror movie genre, as he said in interviews, there would have been NO blood. And you just didn't need it. It took it from a great story with singing to a gore-fest (and I like horror movies). One particular death is so violent...I just waited with my head down. I've seen this story many times...you don't need the gore. I would say just close your eyes and listen the music...but I don't know if I recommend that either...head to the bathroom.

Overall, it is a good scary movie...it is an ok musical. I wish that Burton would have either taken the story and made a good horror flick OR taken the musical and made a great film. It will introduce great music to those who would otherwise not but it will also expose those musical fans to some yuck (I'm talking to you, Mom!). And it is unfortunate that the singing (which can be fabulous even despite the morbid subject matter) was not strong enough (hey, the stage version is coming to Chicago in the spring). And I missed the comedy (yes, there is some...just listen). Don't buy the movie soundtrack...get the original with Angela Landsbury!

If you love Sondheim(this is his masterpiece) or Sweeney or horror movies...check it out...just be prepared.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays from our Polish Family to yours

This is my new favorite Slovenian pop music group....Atomik Harmonik!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Good for TV but...

Comedy Central announced today that the Daily Show and the Colbert Report will go back into production next month. This is great! I absolutely LOVE the Daily Show. Besides the fact it is a fabulous show...and a reasonable news source...it was a strong part of my evening routine. At 10pm I flip between WCIA (local news), Jon Stewart, and E! News (yes, I'm not embarrassed).

But....they are returning without their striking writers. I wish they could resolve the issues and allow the writers to work happy. Continuing on without these writers defeats the purpose of the strike a bit. I'm sure it was a difficult decision.

Let's hope that this work out...for the sake of all those tired parents who need a bit of TV to keep the inner-peace.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Cute Holiday Fare

If you want to experience something super cute...check out BT Washington Elementary's Nutcracker...tomorrow (Tuesday) at 945am and 2pm. The free how is about 45mins long.

Mr. Bob Smith does a fabulous job creating this musical version of the ballet. The cast includes every student (that's about 240 kids) and even a special appearance by the principal.

This great arts program produces several shows a year. The spring musical is always a winner. Check out this hidden gem of Champaign!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow!

Yes, we have snow here...a lot of snow. Not enough to close the city but enough to need to shovel and play in. We had already made a snowman by noon yesterday (although he got covered through the night).

And the snow brought us some winter visitors...my parents. Ok, none of our family lives within a reasonable distance from here...and most of our good friends have moved away...so we never have anyone drop in. But Mom was in Decatur and the weather dictated a stop. So the kids got to stay up a little late and play with Grandma and Grandpa.

We had chocolate chip cookies and chatted. Sleepover with a pancake breakfast. It was super nice. Thanks Mom!

Did I mention she left her People Magazine for me?!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sale Alert!

Haven't finished shopping yet? Need something big?

Meijer is having a Super Sale Saturday ONLY!
This is a good time to buy shoes! Plus you can use Santa bucks and get more savings.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Quickies...

*Anyone returned a book to the CPL yet?
The new book drop (located on Healy) is automated...just drive up and a voice will tell you what to do. I was so excited that I returned a DVD case without the movie in it.

*I hate going to the store to find only green bananas. In my sadness, I had to buy some apple donuts...which were delicious...maybe even better than Curtis Orchard's.

*Most TV shows are in reruns indefinitely now...so I put some DVD sets on hold at the library...the lists are in the hundreds. Maybe I will get them before the strike ends. We have The Office, Arrested Development, and The Simpsons. And are you ready for some...I mean a lot...of reality shows? I miss the Daily Show the most.

*More people at the gym this week....school break, cookie guilt? I don't mind, I love teaching larger classes.

*Had some basil tofu from Basil Thai (Urbana) this week...it was so spicy! It helped my stuffy nose. It was still good but whoa!

*Christmas shopping done for all the little ones in my life! Gotta love Amazon!

*Golden Globe Award nominations came out today. I never understand how movies that aren't even open can be eligible for nominations. I also watched a documentary about these awards so I don't think they hold much weight...but award shows are always fun.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Movie Review: Sicko

I actually rented this movie a couple weeks ago...exclusively at Blockbuster (whatever that means...the waitlist at the library is super long).

So...Michael Moore's newest documentary, Sicko, is about failing US healthcare system. He does not examine the public aid programs (e.g. Medicaid or Medicare) but the private health care companies...particularly in the middle class. He takes a look at what is happening in the US and compares it to what is happening in other countries...particularly socialist countries. The basic idea of the societies portrayed is....emotionally and physically happy citizens are more productive and effective citizens.

Yes, I said it....socialist! Socialism has a lot to offer the US. Yes, it is communism but do any of us really know what that is? Immediately Americans think the Red Scare, Berlin, China...evil. Well, socialism or communism is simply based on the idea of community and living in a collective society. This means that everyone takes care of everyone else thus creating a happy and productive society. The US is not this way. We are an independent society that values self-control and competition. Not that we are not concerned for society as a whole, but we really want what is best for ourselves first. This is a topic that I could talk about and link to SO many things but I will save that for a later post.

Back to the movie...which you should all see regardless of your political orientation. It is a fabulous film to discover what other countries do (how and why they do). Compare and contrast to the US in anyway you see fit. Of course, Moore shows us what would support his message (good quality healthcare for all) but this is not a flaw (as many conservatives have stated). If you saw the movie in theaters, get the DVD and watch the extras (especially what is happening in Norway!).

See it, talk about it, let it push you into action.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Why Christmas May Never Come

I told my family last week that I refuse to put up the Christmas tree or any other major decorations until the house is cleaned up. The tree fills up our main room so much that I can't have the usual floor of crap on top of it. So...it hasn't happened yet. It might not. I am trying hard to stand my ground. We'll see.

I'm apparently now The Grinch. Well since I usually do all the decorating, baking, and shopping, I have that control.

Bah Humbug!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Last Look at the Library

Yesterday we went to the Champaign Library for the last time. I was planning on heading over there today for one last time but with the weather and illness, I think we will stay home. For those of you that don't know...the main branch of the Champaign Library is closing today for 4 weeks in order to get our brand new library ready.

It was really busy, at one point, the check out line was to the cd's. And it was apparent they had started to pack up. To my kids disappointment, they are not doing the reading programs this month but the librarians are happy to talk to your kids about the books they have read. The Max Words were still in play, however ("cold" and "help" were the boys' words). Mike was really excited to tell us all about the move and demolition of the old building (which should start in about 10 days...we plan on parking on the street and watching a lot).

Of course, we love the library. And it is not just the oodles of free materials available for us. Its the people and the activities. The librarians are fabulous and so helpful. And they offer such wonderful programs for all ages. It is truly a gift to the community....any community.

We will miss that old, ugly, small building but the new one will be so great! It will be a long month for us but perhaps we will make the change to the other city libraries.

Today's NG article about the library.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Great Cookie Debate

Every year I debate whether or not I should make holiday cookie trays to give out. I enjoy baking cookies and making candies. I love planning, making, and decorating. And people like them...I have those who wait for them each year.

But...it is time consuming and costs some money. Also, I end up eating the treats as well. My husband actually looks forward to 'awful' task of being quality control. I also have fewer people to give trays to (since most of our friends have moved out of the area). I feel a little bad contributing to the mass consumption of fat and calories over the holidays.

So, who else out there makes cookie trays, etc? Should I continue (this is where the receivers of said cookie trays should chime in)? Would it still be the holidays without cookies? If so, what cookies should I make?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Hanukkah to all!

I hope everyone enjoyed the first night of lights...and latkes!

Mixed veggie latkes (pancakes)
1 white potato
1 sweet potato, peeled
1 carrot
1 small onion
(other veggies to add....beets, zucchini, squash, apple)
1-2 eggs or egg substitute
2-4 tablespoons flour
salt/pepper
Oil

Grate all veggies into a large bowl. Drain any excess liquid that accumulates. Add flour, egg, and salt/pepper. Combine. You want enough egg and flour to coat but not make the mixture drippy. In large skillet, put 1/2-1 in of vegetable oil. Heat for a few minutes (if you place a wooden spoon in it should have tiny bubbles around it). Place spoonfuls of mixture in oil, flattening out into pancake. Cook 2-4 mins until brown. Flip and repeat. Place on paper towels to drain. Serve with applesauce, sour cream, or plain yogurt. Makes about 12 pancakes.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Call for Information

With my hubby's job change....came insurance change. So we had to switch out of Carle--Dr. Hill, Dr. Shepard, Dr. Kala (sob, sob). So, I have tried two Christie docs and didn't like either one (ok, I liked the one doc but the wait was an hour....that can't happen with three kids).

Anyone have any non-Carle peds or family practice doctors they can recommend?

Thanks!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Holiday Spirit

Nothing like some freezing rain and ice to put you in that holiday mood! Having canceled the Holiday Parade, we had to do something around here to make up for it. So....a holiday movie and pizza did the trick.

There are so many holiday movies out there and many of the stations are showing them...a lot...and even the not-so-good ones. (check out ABC Family for a fest of holiday films).

There are a few films/shows that I have to watch or its not right...and have since made my children watch.

Here are my Top 5 Holiday Films
1. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (on CBS on Tues, 12/4, 7pm!)
2. The Santa Clause
3. White Christmas
4. A Christmas Story
5. Its A Wonderful Life

My kids Top 5
1. Rudolph
2. Frosty (Fri 12/7, 7pm, CBS)
3. Polar Express (at the Virginia this weekend, and on tv (ABC Family))
4. The Santa Clause (showing on the Disney Channel this month)
5. The Grinch Who Stole Christmas (that was on last week)


What are your can't miss movies?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Still Crazy After All These Years



Howdy Y'all. This is Jenna's husband David, secretly infiltrating her blog. This week we've celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary, and I've written all about it over at my blog, La Tete du Roi. I just wanted to publicly say 'Happy Anniversary Jenna!', and welcome all of you to have a look at a bit more about us, including all the music that inspired our wedding, by clicking the link above. Love you dear! G'day!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Self...

Note to self: do not schedule your annual physical the week after Thanksgiving and the week before your period. Who wants that to be their official weight for the year?!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Parade of Lights! CANCELED!!

**Update!!! Due to the weather, the Parade has been canceled. The Tree Lighting will take place Sat., Dec 8th at 645pm. Boo, hoo...

CU Annual Holiday Parade of Lights is this Saturday, Dec. 1st beginning at 530pm through downtown.

Its always cold and sometimes snowy...but also always fun. Santa and Mrs. Claus make a special appearance and help light the big tree in the middle of town. Parking is free as is some hot chocolate (note: get the free stuff or bring your own...the local coffee shops get swamped and the waits are up to 30 mins!). Many downtown businesses will be open late and are offering special deals.

So...bundle up and come down for some good family fun!

See Champaign Park District for more info (and holiday movies at the Virginia info--the original Miracle on 34th St (12/1), Polar Express (12/7) and more).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dear Santa,

7am: "Mom, I have to talk to Santa!"--cute 4yo head next to my bed.

5pm: Card to Santa (a red one, since Santa likes red...he wears it all the time)

Dear Santa, Dear Reindeers, Dear Christmas Tree, Dear Presents, Dear Toys, Dear Food, Dear Oranges and hangers (for his new clothes),

I would like for Christmas down and up race track, it look like wood, Honk (meaning Hulk) flashlight, pumpkin, Spiderman glasses (illustration provided), skateboard (illustration provided), Superman flashlight, Thor flashlight. And that's all that I want.

Christmas Tree (we told him to end with something special),
Adison

Mom's explanations

Monday, November 26, 2007

Holiday Movies

My husband and I really like movies but we only really get to rent kids movies (we just got Ratatouille and Shrek 3 (both good)). But there are some movies coming out for the holiday push to the Oscars that we are really excited about.

*Sweeney Todd (Dec 21)
We are theater people...musical theater people. Our cat's name is Sondheim. And Sweeney Todd is one of my favorite shows (it's brilliant!). Tim Burton has made an adaptation with Johnny Depp (one of my favorite actors) that opens Dec 21st. Check out the trailer. (By the way, the revival production of Sweeney is heading to Chicago this spring...see Broadway in Chicago for more info).

*The Golden Compass (Dec 7)
This is film is based on the first novel in His Dark Material series by Philip Pullman (also called the Northern Lights). I really loved reading this series. The imagery is amazing in the book; I can't wait to see how it plays out on screen (armored polar bears!).

Other Movies of interest:
I am Legend with Will Smith...a fascinating concept.
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story as biopic spoof with John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer.
The Amateurs from the makers of Calender Girls and the Full Monty.
Charlie Wilson's War...Mike Nichols, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts...that has to be good.

Since we rarely get out to the theater, we pick our movies carefully (we are faithful Rotten Tomato readers).

Seen anything really great?...or is there a movie you are really looking forward to? Let us know!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Ok, Thanksgiving is over...

You may still have some leftovers lingering in the fridge...you may have come accustomed to that pre-bed piece of pie (as my hubby says, we have to get rid of it)...but Thanksgiving is over now and the holiday season is upon is. That means a lot....a lot of cookies, cakes, alcohol, cheesy dips, and a not enough time to exercise it all off. Those few pounds you gain over the holidays will take until next summer to work off.

First some quick tips to getting rid of the leftovers....
*Soup! You can throw just about all of your leftovers into a pot with some chicken broth (turkey, any veggies, gravy, mashed potatoes, even stuffing). You can gut your pumpkin pie and mix with some broth for a sweet pumpkin soup (top with a bit of cranberries).

*Freeze! Chop that turkey up and freeze it for something later. You can also make your own TV dinners (on microwave-safe plates, add potatoes, stuffing, turkey, gravy (keep cranberry sauce separate...but it is freezable), cover and freeze).

*Make a fresh meal...breaking the turkey meals up will keep you a bit interested to finish it off tomorrow.

*Bring it in...send that extra pie to work or to your in-laws or next playgroup...and leave it there!

Some tips for keeping it healthy the next 4 weeks...
*Keep moving! Try to do something, anything, for 15-30 mins each day (post-dinner dance party!).

*Drink lots of water...its good for you, it will flush out your body, and it will keep your appetite under control.

*Eat healthy at home. There are a lot of parties out there...leave your splurging for them. And eat a healthy snack at home before heading out to parties or shopping (resist the smell of cookies at the mall!!).

*Save your calories! Reduce or ditch alcohol this month. Cut out the lattes. Eat desserts in moderation...Don't make anything at home unless it is for a party or gift. At a party, take a taste of some things and then one more bite of the ONE you really liked. Share a dessert plate with your partner or kids.

*Take the Just One More pledge! This site has a simple challenge we can all meet...just eat one more serving of fruits/vegetables or protein each day and/or do a physical activity each day. They provide you with good tips, recipes, activities, etc. to keep you and your family on track. Now is the time to start those resolutions!

Have a great and healthy holiday season!!!

(remember this post when I post about my holiday cookie recipes!!)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Gobble, gobble!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving to you all! I hope you all had a great day with family and friends eating to your hearts content.


We hosted a small dinner with my fam and my brothers. It was delightful to have a quieter day playing (we spent a long time at the park getting our football out of a tree...the old Thanksgiving rite of stick and ball throwing!). We also all cooked together and cleaned together. We had a nice dance party in between dinner and dessert...played a pathetic game of Clue...and a fun game of Apples to Apples.


Today, after teaching a class at the gym to those not shopping and wanted to feel better about the pie consumed, we went and saw Enchanted (PG, 1hr 47 min).


It was very good. It is an enchanted fairy tale that follows animated characters into the real world. Despite being in NYC, they maintain that fairy tales are real and, of course, they do indeed find happily-ever-afters. The first hour is great with an animated beginning that appears to be hand-drawn, a couple musical numbers, and funny references to fairy tales and movies. The second half has to get the story movin' so it loses a bit of charm and feels a bit rushed (despite the length).


Amy Adams is extremely charming...she plays an animated princess perfectly and sings beautifully. James Marsden, Prince Edward (Charming), is so adorable. I was delighted to see Timothy Sprall, Idina Menzel, and Susan Sarandon, although all were sorely underused. Patrick Dempsey was interchangeable with any other good-looking actor. The costumes were wonderful and scenery nice.


My husband and I both really liked it (would have liked to more had we not taken a couple trips to the potty and chased a little one around). My 4yo liked it a lot and my 11yo liked it but didn't love it. The 2yo lost interest after the first hour. I would recommend it for kids over 4yo...and this is one that is actually really nice to see on the big screen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Free Fall Fun


We spent another weekend in the city visiting family. On Sunday we visited my grandma, Nana to the kids. Of course, she had work for us to do....well, my brother and husband got to clean the gutters and get all the leaves off the roof. Then they and the kids decided to rake all the leaves in the front...which was a considerable amount. So, with rakes and brooms in hand everyone helped (well, Gram and I sat and talked inside).


They made a huge pile and then spent over an hour jumping in it....burying people in it...re-raking it. It was so much fun....lots of laughs.


So, get out in the yard before the snow hits on Thursday (although it is a little wet today)!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Love the Library

We finally made it to the library after a busy week...and a big search for a missing DVD (still not found...please don't make me pay for an overscratched, boring, Dr. Seuss DVD...please let it magically appear!). And we better get a lot of trips in before Dec 9th...when it is closing until Jan 5! Midlife Mutations gave us the heads up earlier this week but today the News Gazette dropped the month-long bomb. The new main library is almost done so they are closing to move everything over. Of course you can head to the Douglass Library and the Bookmobile will be open. But it isn't the same.

I am super excited about the new library. With a coffee shop, I may go there to get my quiet time. Yes, I am a big library-junkie (I know my card number by heart). And the rest of you library-junkies, mark your calendars for Jan 6th...big opening party!


I need to strategize what we are going to do...probably visit the Urbana Free. What a time though...no school and no library!

By the way...if you were at the library and noticed the two screaming kids...that was us. The 4yo would not listen to my directions so he lost his movie pick...it was ugly.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Lost in Translation

The other day, while I was in the bathroom with the ever-pooping 4yo...the 2yo did some computer work. First, he did something to iTunes and now instead of words it has a series of squares and lines. Lovely. Then, he took off about 1/3 of the keys from the keyboard and threw them on the floor.

Haven't fixed iTunes yet (can anyone help?) but the key board is better. I went to snap on the letters keys and realized that I didn't really know where they went by sight. So, I had to pretend to type. I think I got them right. But the 'enter' key will not go back in place. So, I popped the 'shift' key off to look at it...thinking that both bigger keys would be similar (they are not, btw). So, now the 'shift' key is little tilted and the 'enter' key isn't on at all.

Its not like we use the computer all that much or anything...ha, ha! Having kids around is fun!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Quickies...

*My 2yo has taken to playing Daddy. He has been carrying around a baby doll ("Baby"). He has dressed him, wrapped him, gives him a pacifier, rocks him, and sings him songs. He even asked me to nurse him (I declined). How cute!!

*Bought Snyder's Multigrain Sunflower chips today (Buy 1, Get 1 Free at Meijer). They are delicious and a healthy choice (for a chip). Made with corn, rice, oat, and wheat flours as well as sunflower seeds (and that's about it)...they are high in fiber and protein (and no transfats!). Try them out!

*Its citrus season...my kids LOVE clementines! (also on sale at Meijer)

*My new secret addition is VH1's America's Most Smartest Model. I am fascinated how stupid some people are...I mean like basic knowledge (like shapes).

*Our subscription to People magazine is officially over....as are all of our others...but I miss this one the most (I got my fix at my mom's this weekend).

*Check this out for a good (adult) laugh. Flight of the Conchords (a comedy/music duo from New Zealand that has a show on HBO).

Monday, November 12, 2007

Back Home

The kids and I had a lovely time in the city visiting the fam.

I took my daughter out for lunch to Portillo's (a place we frequented in high school) and to the mall. It was some nice mom-daughter time. We looked through the stores...even bought some things at the Disney Store. We discussed how the larger corporations (specifically Starbucks) are ruining local businesses and our political system (including partisan politics and the economy). I kid you not...these were the topics with my 11yo.

Then the kids had a cousin sleepover at Grandma's while the parents went out for Chinese and a movie (Dan In Real Life...review to come later....but it was fabulous!). It was so nice to have a slow dinner that allowed us to eat great food and talk without interruption.

We finished the weekend off with a nice brunch that my daughter planned and a nice drive back to CU.

One of the best parts of the weekend....upon arrival, I discovered my husband had cleaned the carpets! and finished the demolition of our basement remodel! He kept it a secret and worked all weekend with little sleep (he worked at his regular job all weekend too). What a sweetie! If I had a weekend alone at home....I would sleep, eat, read, and watch movies.

Friday, November 09, 2007

I think I live with the monkeys!

We had a lovely day at Lincoln Park Zoo today. First of all, the child to adult ratio was high (3:4) combined with the low attendance overall (cooler weekday)...the stress of simply keeping your children with you was eliminated (my 4yo wearing a new red jacket and supercape also helped his visibility). Additionally, the kids were great. They were interested, patient, and nice to each other all day...with the exception of a post-lunch, needing-a-nap meltdown. They didn't race through the exhibits...we actually had to move them along a bit. It was the most relaxing zoo/museum experience to date (with kiddies).

Everyone had a great time. My daughter really like the Conservatory. My 4yo, although really missed seeing elephants, loved the giraffes. And the 2yo loved it all...but really liked the tigers. My 4yo saw the camels and said "Oh, I need to watch them poop!" (referring to Everyone Poops where 1-hump camels have 1-hump poop and 2-hump camels have 2-hump poop). One of my favorite moments was we were watching this 1-armed gibbon (a primate) swing all around. He stops at the very top of the enclosure. My brother says "Watch for something amazing to happen." Then the gibbon peed (I think my brother was expecting some fabulous aerial feat.

So, we are spending a lot of the time in the primate house. It was fascinating and there was a fabulous volunteer giving us all kinds of information...Thanks, Paul. Then I start realizing that the primate house was strikingly similar to my own house. For example, people are known to jump around the house and climb on anything sturdy enough to hold them. We often have an interesting naked butt walk into view. Little ones decide to pee right where they are standing. Babies crawl up on Mom and nurse whenever they want. One child might suddenly attackingly chase another person. Empty boxes provide hours of entertainment. The food no one wants is thrown on the floor.

So, I guess it is true that our DNA matches a primates 99%!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Out of Town Adventure Begins

So, I decided that since all the kids have a long weekend we would head up to Chicago to play in the city with my family. We always go up there with some kind of holiday or specific event, we rarely take time to enjoy the wonderful offerings of the city.

My husband is staying home...since he has work. Our car is making a funny noise and I decided I wasn't comfortable driving it that far alone with the kids (and hubby didn't get it fixed yet). And the temperature is considerably lower that I would like for all-day walking. BUT....my mom is meeting us half-way (Clifton exit on 57! Go DQ!), we have our winter coats and hats, etc., and I will have enough family around that I might even get some alone time!

Our plans include a zoo visit, many meals with family, sleepovers with uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents, a night out with adults and no kids, sleep, and fun!

We'll see how it goes! The kids are super excited...they even helped pack (my 4yo filled the suitcase with diapers...and the 2yo put himself in, what else do you really need?)....and I am excited too.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Mitten Conspiracy

Like their cousin the sock...mittens seem to like to hide and disappear often. Knowing this, a couple weeks ago I bought a couple pairs for the little ones. I left a pair at school so that, I thought, I would know where at least one pair was.

This morning...I found 2 mittens...2 left mittens...from 2 different pairs of mittens. At least my 4yo has been guarding his Cars gloves like precious treasure. But I couldn't find the 2yo anything...but remembering the school pair...got to school...no mittens. I thought I was going insane...went to pick up the kids...he had them on!! Victory.

However, I headed over to Kohl's and bought 3 pairs of mittens and 3 pairs of gloves for the little ones and a new hat and gloves for the 11yo...and a new pair of gloves for me (mine are mysteriously missing too!). I like to have a stock of hats, scarves, and gloves in case they are missing, smelly, or don't match the kids moods that day. My husband can fend for himself.

Let's see how long it takes us to run around not being able to find them before school. Any bets?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Playing the Piano

Things I found in the piano today...

2 Buzz Lightyear toys (prompting the rescue effort)

1 matchbox car

1 pencil

1 pen, no cap

2 crayons

2 photos

1 harmonica

1 plastic bracelet

1 part of miniature shopping cart

1 miniature slinky

1 paper key board, 1 octave

Walk Across Illinois!

If you were on campus on Wednesday afternoon and noticed a bunch of kids (ok, 200+ kids) walking and chanting...that was my daughter's school. We kicked off our Walk Across Illinois program by walking from school to the quad and back (about 2 1/2 miles). By May, each kid will, hopefully, walk the equivalent of about 170 miles (or from Champaign to Chicago!). In addition to walking on their own, we have mapped out a 1/2 mile course behind the school for before and after school, recess, and PE. Students are encouraged to walk with their families and friends.

Hopefully, this will breed the love of exercise for the kids that will last a lifetime!

We found the kids love walking and it was easy to do. They were amazed how far they could walk in a short amount of time. Having police escorts and clapping fans at the University helped out as well.

With video games, numerous TV channels with kids' programming, computers, weather, working parents, unsafe neighborhoods, elimination of PE classes...kids don't play outside as much as they used to and they don't get enough exercise...most of us don't. With fast and junk food so easily available (not to mention it was just Halloween and the cookie-filled holidays are almost here)...the number overweight and obese kids is increasing at alarming rates.

So...start a walking program with your family...or school...or church...or friends. Just take a walk after dinner a couple times a week! It will start a habit that is addictive and necessary to maintain good health!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Halloween Hang-over!

Halloween went pretty well here. We spent days eating 'spooky' snacks (mummy dogs, steak bites with bloody mary sauce, roasted toadstools, pear skulls, monster cheese, boo-berry muffins, tombscones)...and planning costumes. I even made a fabulous dump truck costume for the little one...but he didn't want to wear a costume afterall (we finally persuaded him to put on his firefighter coat). We carved pumpkins out in the backyard and ate the roasted seeds. And listened to as many monster-themed songs my husband could find.

I have become the lame mom this year...buying pretzels to give trick-or-treaters (I figured it would be ok to have leftovers in the house). And the worst...as soon as the kids went to bed, I sorted the candy...threw away anything I knew no one would eat. We like the act of trick-or-treating but we got 3 gallons of candy. Gave 1/3 to my husband to take to work (which they all appreciated). Put 1/3 back into their buckets. And I hid the rest for later (really for my husband to eat instead of picking at the kids).
I just want to get to the store tomorrow to pick up some decorations for next year...got a lot of good ideas last night.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Another Potty Moment from us to you...

Since poop is a major part of our lives...here is another poop moment from our house.

I come home yesterday evening to an overjoyed 4yo running towards me. "Mommy, I did it! I went poop in the potty. One big one, and one little one! So, tomorrow we can get that chocolate cereal!"

Husband comes in and describes the experience including physical descriptions (thank, honey...I really didn't need to know that info).

**Note today, my 4yo ate about a pound of craisins...that should help.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Family Fitness

We are a very active family. And we love to exercise...here are some ways we fit it all in (no pun intended...).

*You've got to love it. Find something you love doing (latin dance, kickboxing, walking, cycling, tennis...).

*Gym membership
We really couldn't afford it but it was important to us. It allows us to really get in a good workout, socialize with other adults, and the kids love the playroom. (I now work at our gym so our membership is free). Finding a gym that meets your family's needs is important and may take some leg work.

*Music
We have music playing in our house most of the time. When its on, we dance! We dance a lot. It is great exercise that burns fat, works almost every muscle in your body, anyone can do, and is FUN!

*Play
We play with our kids on the floor a lot. You can bench press the little ones, bicep curls, leg press, let them sit on your back to do push-ups.

*Go Outside!
We ride bikes, walk, run, play sports. We have a great backyard to do this in.

*Do it together
We dance, play, and go outside together but we also just do plain ole exercise together. Family pilates and yoga...my 4yo loves push ups and sit ups. We show them that exercise is important to being healthy.

Some timely tips....
If you don't feel like your kids give you enough of a workout and you can't get to a gym...
*Take 30mins to do strength and toning while you watch tv at night or during the morning news. Or do jumping jacks or jog during commercials.
*Take a walk first thing in the morning before the kids get up.
*Do ab or glute squeezes while you do the dishes.
*Do 3-5 mins of strengthening or toning a few times throughout the day when you get a chance...it will add up.
*Bath time is a great time to get many things done (in the bathroom).

Try Sparks People for exercise tips, nutritional info (calorie counting program), weight loss tips, message boards.....

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Funny Story...

Our ever-potty training boys...

Our 2yo was naked and came to the table...I asked him if he had to use the potty. "No potty." Then he proceeded to hold his penis and pee on the floor. My husband and I both said "No...hold it!" Then my husband takes the glass of water that I am drinking from and holds it in the line of fire!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

More quick thoughts...

We have two sick kids home this week....so I haven't had a lot of time to think. But here are some thought that have made it through my sleep-deprived brain.

*The Laundry Strike has worked...and not. My daughter quickly realized that she would stand out on the soccer team without her jersey and socks so she not only put away any clean laundry but went through all her drawers and organized everything...we'll see how long that lasts. It took her about a week. After asking me a couple times about laundry, I said to my husband..."You know I am not doing your laundry anymore, right?". So, despite a clear declaration of strike and a mention on my blog...he was oblivious. He apparently didn't notice the hamper devoted solely to his clothes. So, he did his own. Fine with me. We'll see how long he takes to break.

*The Champaign Park District is hosting Nightmare on Grove Street this Saturday in Douglass Park from 12-3pm. It is geared for 3-11yos with hay rides, food, games, a haunted house. And Cirque du Soleil will be around with miming, juggling, stiltwalking, tumbling, etc! Oh...and it is FREE! (They will also be at Halloweenfest at Market Place Mall on Monday the 29th (also FREE) and of course at Assembly Hall Nov 9-10 (tickets contact Assembly Hall)).

For more Halloween fun this weekend...there is a lot...check out the News-Gazette. Off the top of my head....the Farmer's Market, libraries, Meijer....

*A random thought...I saw an ad for the One Antipoverty Campaign. It struck me as odd that celebrities who make millions of dollars are asking the general public for money. I am all for eliminating poverty and AIDS, etc. But I wonder if these celebrities gave all but 1 million dollars of their money away each year (I think they could live on 1 mil/yr...I could)...how that might impact this fight.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Quickies...




Sorry...it has been a bit busy here. Here is what we've been up to...


*Headed down to the Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, IL. It is such a great place for everyone. My husband and I were noting how it might be nice to head there without the kids so we could spend more time looking at everything. The kids LOVED it! And this time the schoolhouse was open....very interesting. If you are looking for something to do this weekend...head there (this weekend is great because they reduce a lot of prices). Taking 45 instead of 72 makes a pretty drive.


*Had ice cream at Marble Slab in Savoy. I think it is better than Cold Stone and less busy on a Friday night. The girls I took loved that I said "you can have whatever you want!". I also like that after buying 5 items, you get one free. Also, had dinner at Seven Saints again (discovering that getting dinner in downtown is a challenge at 930pm on Sunday). It was yummy!


*Spent more time decorating for Halloween. My 4yo is really into making things...hence the multiple paper ghosts and jack-o-lanterns around the house. Today, we made ghosts with foam plates and tuille.


*Took our 11yo shopping. She spent $15 on flavored lip gloss (it was her money). And went to Old Navy...they are having major clearance right now...racks starting at $1.97!!

*Movies...I have happen to catch a couple movies (free preview channels, library lends, date night, birthday party).
The Game Plan (PG, 110mins), still in theaters

This football/family movie staring the Rock was actually pretty cute and entertaining. The three 10-11yo girls I took with me really liked it. The story is not original (a person learning the value of family) but the Rock made it fresh. Any football-lovin' families would enjoy it.

Into the Wild (R, 2hr 27min), still in theaters

Based on Jon Krakauer's fascinating book about real-life adventurer Chris McCandless, this Sean Penn movie is good. I did read the book, and recently at that, so I was missing certain aspects in the film but my husband, who also read the book but in college, liked it more. I would like to hear an opinion of someone who did not read the book or didn't know the ending. The story is so interesting that you can't really miss however it is long and slow. Great actors...amazing scenery!


The Queen (PG-13, 1hr 45min), on DVD

This movie, which won Helen Mirren the Oscar, was very interesting. It examines the Queen of England's and Prime Minister's (a newly elected Tony Blair) treatment of Princess Diana's death. I was surprised that the previous press did not mention Michael Sheen's portrayal of Tony Blair...it was great and of equal importance to Helen Mirren. But this is a slow and quiet film.

Children of Men (R, 1hr 50min), on DVD

The premise of this movie is what caught my attention...the world has gone infertile...meaning no babies...meaning the human population will end shortly. So it is interesting to see what might happen to us in this situation (although they don't necessary explain why it all goes to poop..it might not go that way). We follow Clive Owen as he attempts to move a shockingly pregnant young woman to a safe place. It is a bit gritty and violent at times. I didn't really like it too much but did want to see what happened. My husband admired the cinematography a lot.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Feedback!

As you may have quessed...I am a letter and email writer and phone caller to complain and compliment about things in life (the grocery clerk texting while he's helping me, the kids' yogurts that fall out of the package immediately, the fabulous meal I just ate). I think my teaching background makes me feel like I need to give and receive feedback. I write to my elected officials about how I feel about issues...they are representing me and they should know how I feel. When I am paying money to a business for service or products, I believe I deserve the most for my money. When products or services fall short...I think the company should know so they can improve themselves and thus be more successful. I am not out to get people fired...I rarely remember names of my kids let alone sales clerks.

So...this week...I had two particular consumer victories.

First, half of my contacts in my last box I had ripped. I thought this was odd since I've been wearing contacts since I was a kid and had never had this happen. Additionally, I paid for these and I prefer to use them instead of throwing them away. And...I wanted to let the company know my experience in case something was wrong with the lot or something. So...I emailed over their online comment page. I was very quickly called and after talking with someone for a little bit they thanked me for letting them know and would look into the problem...and they sent me a new box of contacts.

Secondly, we had quite an unpleasant experience at a campus restaurant. Since the place is owned by a larger corporation, I wanted to let the bosses know what this location was doing and how bad I thought it was. I found out that they have had many problems here and are taking steps to fixing it...and would we like some complimentary meals...sure, thanks.

Its not about free products (although I will gladly accept)...its about improving services so that my experience is better (and everyone else's...consumers and businesses). And, in general, I have found that businesses like to know how the consumer is feeling...good and bad. And now with the inter-web...many places have email addresses or online comment forms that you can fill out (I often get a phone call back). This is great because you can state your opinion on your own time (not with a screaming toddler who is sad the store is out of chocolate milk) and you can do it without a face-to-face, time-consuming confrontation, if that is not your thing.

We are a consumer-based society....feedback is a good way to make it the best it can be! Speak up!


**Most grocery stores and other larger stores, in our area at least, have a website at the bottom of your receipt to fill out a quick survey about your visit. Complete it and most enter you in a raffle for free products or gift cards.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Recipe Update

So, I have tried several recipes in Deceptively Delicious (see previous post). And...I must admit, this idea is brilliant and easy. And the response has been very, very good.

I spent about 1 hour making several purees the other night (avocado, carrot, cauliflower, yellow squash, beet (I used salt-free canned beets)). I think I made 12 1/2-cup servings of purees and froze them (taking the breastmilk/baby food spot). I also picked up some usual winter staples such as frozen spinach and frozen pureed butternut squash. So, we were ready to go.

Seriously...add chickpeas to your next batch of cookies. I made oatmeal cookies with chocolate chips and cranberries. The chickpeas blended right in. My husband and little one didn't even noticed (when I asked my husband what he thought...he said 'there's spinach in here isn't there'). By the way... you can see the beans in there...they are not hiding!

Brownies with spinach and carrot puree....a winner!

But I really liked adding yellow squash puree to my kid's 'buttered' noodles (1/2 lb noodles cooked, 1/2 cup veg puree, 2 tbls olive oil, parm cheese). Besides, the kids couldn't see it...so they didn't know...it was delicious. I don't eat milk or cheese so this was great because it gave the pasta a creamy texture. My 11yo made stuffed potatoes with cauliflower puree...they were great. Again, with the lack of cheese in mine...it gave it a great flavor.

And tonight...I made green eggs and ham (a regular meal here) with spinach instead of just green food coloring. It was yummy...but my picky eater wouldn't touch it (he saw me make them...I think he would have eaten it otherwise). You couldn't taste spinach but it was in there (I like my eggs with sauteed spinach anyways).


The possibilities are endless and this book is just a starting point. I love it....my husband is a little worried that every meal will have something hidden in it (well, if he ate his vegetables well, I wouldn't have to trick him).

Anyways...I'll try more recipes and keep you up-to-date...but this sounds like a great idea to me!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

More issues...

If you want to get even more angry about the Bush II Administration....watch tonight's Frontline...Cheney's Law.

I can't believe how much this administration has destroyed democracy....such as ruining the collaborative process of checks and balances. Basically, Cheney is evil. And America will be so much better off once the Democrats (or socialists as some are saying) take society back in its care.

Only 1 year until the next election!

Issues, issues

**First of all....Moveon.org is sponsoring another rally in support of the Children's Healthcare Policy currently being vetoed by the president.

Tonight at 5pm at Veteran's Memorial (Broadway and Main Sts.), Urbana.

Remember to call, write, or email your representatives to tell what you think (about any issue...they work for us!)!


**Secondly, last week, Illinois overrode the governor's veto for a bill mandating a daily moment of silence at all Illinois schools. So, my 11yo daughter comes home yesterday and says..."The moment of silence is stupid. It sure feels like prayer to me, and I don't like that." Well put.

This moment of silence (not 'prayer') is a big waste of legislative time, energy, and money. Besides it rides along the lines of church and state...the policy itself is so flawed. There are very rough guidelines (each school must have a moment of silence). There is no definition for how long, when, where, or what to do during that time. Additionally, this is very difficult policy to enforce and therefore discipline. Additionally, it takes time out of the day not only for the actual moment but for the planning and execution of the policy. They've taken arts, physical education, and foreign languages out our of schools...given them no money to operate...and required ridiculous amounts of time for testing...and now this?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Quickies...

Busy week...

*I finally cleaned out the freezer, including all the frozen breastmilk...it was all from last Dec. It was sad and if I had done it last week during PMS-craziness, it would have been a sad scene.

*Our 2yo is using the potty! He even pooped there!

*Watched the British comedy (thriller, police, shoot-em-up spoof) Hot Fuzz...it was very funny. I love Shaun of the Dead (zombie spoof) (by the same group of Brits)...it is hilarious.

*Watched TV's Women's Murder Club (based on some good James Patterson books)....disappointing, but I'm giving it some time.

*On a laundry strike (did you read that darling?)...I am not doing my husband or daughter's laundry until they put away what they already have. If you know my husband, you might notice he wears the same couple outfits....so you'd be surprised to learn that he has an enormous amount of clothing...that lives all over my house.

*Not sure how I feel about the now-mandatory moment of silence at all Illinois schools. It sure sounds like prayer but we'll see. I think it is pretty silly to require it...how are they going to monitor that. I'm glad our government took the time, energy, and money on this one...like there is nothing else that needs to happen in education (hey...where's that budget?).

*Enjoyed the presentation of the CPD Ballet Program at the library yesterday, 4yo wasn't interested but the older one was. But then I started thinking....it really sucks that the arts are very limited to those with money and time. Wouldn't CU benefit from a dance or music program that was FREE! and met at times that working parents could get their kids there? (note the park districts do have some scholarship funds available for their programs). CPD has a new website design, by the way.

*Went to Lonestar Steakhouse for dinner...Kids eat free on Tuesdays! It was a great frugal moment!

Have a great week!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Deceptively Delicious


This is a new...fast-selling...cookbook by Mrs. Jerry Seinfeld (Jessica). I read about this book on Monday and then, later in the afternoon, happened to turn on Oprah (something I do a couple times a year) and there she was.


The basis of her book is to improve your children's (and veggie-phobic husbands) eating habits. The featured recipes all include veggie purees. Basically, you are sneaking veggies into everything from scrambled eggs to chicken nuggets to brownies. Besides adding nutritional value, most recipes have an added richness in flavor, texture, and moistness. She claims that no one can really tell they are in there. A major critism of the idea is that it is not teaching kids to love veggies...but the idea is too add extra stuff in things you know your kids will eat IN ADDITION to, not instead of, offering fruits and veggies at meals and snacks.


Since I have a kid that won't even try veggies (besides carrot sticks), I thought it was worth a look. There are some recipes on Oprah.com. But I also bought the book...which you can't buy right now in CU (BN told me the publisher has do another printing since this first one is sold out...no more books shipped until November).


While I was waiting for my book, I thought about this idea...and how I have been doing it in some ways for years. I made all my own baby food for years, so I pureed everything and froze it all. I puree a lot of other things too (sauces, soups). I also add veggies to baked goods (zuchinni and pumpkin breads, carrot applesauce, pumpkin applesauce, beet/carrot/potato pancakes, root veggie mash). It is a good idea and this book gives me a lot more ideas (like using beans to add vitamins and protein---add rinsed, canned whole chickpeas to chocolate chip cookies!).



The book has lots of helpful information and tips on cooking for your kids (selves). She provides nutritional information on many vegetables, as well as information about important nutritients, vitamins, and minerals. Many, if not all, recipes are low-fat (using egg whites and tub margerine) and high-fiber (whole wheat flour and ground flax seed). Additionally, the appetizingly-photographed recipes are simple and use basic ingredients.


So, I'll try some recipes out and let you know more later!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

What has happened to our lives?

What is the difference between us and the childless, 30-somethings? Poop! Poop and other related elimination issues are, if not THE, most important and most time-consuming topics in our house.

With two potty training boys (will my 4yo ever be potty trained?!) and a sick and angry cat...'nuff said.

For whatever reason (PMS, 11yo birthday) yesterday, I just wanted to go away from it all...and then the big one hit. "I have to go to the bathroom." "I have to go poop!" All this after the actual action....at a restaurant...with no underwear on....in short, big, gross mess.

Just another day.....

Monday, October 08, 2007

Family Shopping....Again

So, this week I went shopping with my brother and mother...and 11yo daughter. We went to Costco...a warehouse store similar to Sam's Club. We were determined to stock up on lots of stuff and share with each other the large quantities you are required to buy in order to save more money! So...with some quasi-lists in hand, we went.

I've never been to a store like this before and it was overwhelming. I quickly dismissed about half the store (appliances, electronics, meat (since we were hours from home), clothing, toys). After about an hour of shopping, we racked up three carts worth of pantry items as well as meats (for my mom and bro) and produce, and some health/beauty products. Then we got to pack it in to our van ...then unpack it at my mom's, distribute the wealth, and repack our portion into the van...then of course unpack it again upon arrival home.

Besides trying to find the best price for quality items (a daily challenge for a household), the challenge of shopping and organizing the trip and storage is what got me excited. I loved organizing the items in my downstairs pantry. But the worst part is...I'm really into using this experience as research. How do items last....are they cheaper there than Meijer....is it really worth it. Can you believe I spent about an hour last night creating a spreadsheet of all the items, prices, unit price, quantity, if we shared it or not, and Meijer's prices (which will take some time as I gather that information one week at a time). I think I am lost it in my quest for the most frugal lifestyle (Don Quixote De La Marketplace)

So...my opinion on Costco or any other type store will have to wait until further data can be analyzed. First impressions tell me it is worth it for families with kids who eat a lot of cereal, juice, pasta, and meat or those who prefer organic items. I also already know that buying shampoo and other like items is worth it.

Plus, it was so fun!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

New site

I've been out of town...enjoying the heat (not really, I've been complaining about it a lot).

Anyways. I'll have more to post later but....

WCIA's webpage...illinoishomepage.net has a new Halloween section. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Local Rally for Children's Health Care

Here is some information on the controversial veto of health care policy via Moveon.org. If you can find time to support this policy...please come by tomorrow! There are rallies all over the country...please see moveon.org for local information! Also call or email your local representatives today (find them at http://www.house.gov/ and http://www.senate.gov/)! Contact Tim Johnson (CU's rep), who voted AGAINST this policy, here:http://www.house.gov/timjohnson/contact/index.shtml


President Bush just vetoed health care for children. In only his fourth veto ever, he blocked health care coverage for millions of uninsured—and mostly poor—kids.1

The Washington Post is calling this "the biggest domestic policy clash of his presidency."2

Bush is totally out of step with public opinion—even 61% of Republicans support the children's health care bill.3 We need just 15 more Republicans in Congress to break with Bush to override the veto.

This is a rapid response event, so some people won't even get this email in time. That means we'll need every last person who can possibly come to help show that the public is upset about this veto. If you're reading this, please come!

Tomorrow, can you put the pressure on at our emergency "Rally for Our Children's Health Care" in Urbana?
Where: Veterans Memorial, Broadway and Main, Urbana
When: Thursday, Oct 4 2007, 5:00 PM

Click here to RSVP:http://pol.moveon.org/event/events/event.html?event_id=40903&&id=11324-5888944-X_jSZg&t=2

If you have kids, definitely bring them, too!


In the coming days, Congress will try to override Bush's veto with a two-thirds majority—the Senate already passed the bill with a bipartisan, veto-proof majority and the House was close. Our goal is to pressure a few more Republicans to stand up to Bush—enough to pass the children's health bill.If not enough Republicans buck Bush to overturn the veto, the Democrats have promised to keep sending the bill to Bush, each time increasing the pressure on vulnerable Republicans to support health care for our kids.2 This battle is over the philosophical question of whether or not we should make sure everyone gets health care—and it will set the stage for fights to come.4

Please join us at a "Rally for Our Children's Health Care" to show we're outraged that Republicans are blocking health care for our children—and to set the stage for fights to come:
Where: Veterans Memorial, Broadway and Main, Urbana
When: Thursday, Oct 4 2007, 5:00 PM

Click here to RSVP:http://pol.moveon.org/event/events/event.html?event_id=40903&&id=11324-5888944-X_jSZg&t=3

Thanks for all you do.
–Noah, Anna, Jennifer, Marika, and the MoveOn.org Political Action Team Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007


Sources:1. "Bush vetoes child health insurance plan," Associated Press, October 3, 2007http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21111931/
2. "Showdown Looms as Child Health Bill Passes," Washington Post, September 28, 2007http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3021&id=11324-5888944-X_jSZg&t=6
3. "Most in Poll Want War Funding Cut," Washington Post, October 2, 2007http://www.moveon.org/r?r=3031&id=11324-5888944-X_jSZg&t=7
4. "Paul Krugman: An Immoral Philosophy," New York Times, July 30, 2007http://select.nytimes.com/2007/07/30/opinion/30krugman.html
Support our member-driven organization: MoveOn.org Political Action is entirely funded by our 3.2 million members. We have no corporate contributors, no foundation grants, no money from unions. Our tiny staff ensures that small contributions go a long way. If you'd like to support our work, you can give now at:
http://political.moveon.org/donate/email.html?id=11324-5888944-X_jSZg&t=8
PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

We won!

First of all...oh Britney.....moving on.

Our family won the September Wee Wild Readers drawing at the library! I've never won anything before. We did have an advantage...two kids who submit at least one entry per week (most times 3 or more...you submit one entry for every 5 books read). So, we get the exciting call from Mike, one of our favorite librarians. Once there...our 4th trip in a week, my 4yo picks out a prize...a monkey mask. I hope that he doesn't think this will happen everytime we go. He was equally excited to put my entry in the adult drawing box.

Our library routine is pretty solid...return materials, select new ones, pick word of the day, check in reading logs, check construction crews, watch money do down well, use potty, play trains....

Have I mentioned how much we love the library? You should too...check out your local library!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Big Day!

After entertaining the kids alone with a bum knee at the soccer game for a couple hours...we refueled with some lunch and then headed to the library for the Crime Scene Investigations presentation, part of the Super Saturdays program (hubby and baby blissfully took a nap).

My 4yo was really excited to meet a police officer and he decided to sit up front. My daughter was hoping so see a severed body part or miniature scene from the TV show...sorry, we live in CU, honey. But they both really enjoyed the presentation including learning about fingerprinting, gathering evidence, and general police stuff. This must be the standard CSU presentation because I saw it a couple years ago with our neighborhood group and it was identical (same jokes, I think).

My daughter thought the jokes were funny but she, and I, had wished it was a bit more interactive (taking their own fingerprints, gathering evidence, solving a library crime). We all wanted to check out a police car or the big van, but no. My son loved it even though he didn't understand most of it and took a bathroom and book break in the middle. He raised his hand to offer his opinion like the big kids (he told them he likes to paint and has a new superhero book, and his dad works on the firetruck and ambulance...so cute...he told me he wanted to raise his hand too). Each of them got a free police-themed book as well.

We also turned in some more reading logs and received some stickers to put on the jungle wall. My son's word of the day was 'sun'. But...the biggest event was that our 4yo got his very own library card! We even wrote his name on it and checked out a book with it. He was so excited....they grow up so fast.

We finished the day with pizza and family movie night (Herbie Unloaded...not my choice but we all enjoyed it enough).

Saturday, September 29, 2007

the Polish Shoppers

So, my dad, grandma, and brother visited yesterday. It was lovely...plus my gram made a plate of kolockies for me again. I gave her a mystery paperback in return (Patterson's 1st to Die)...she reads a book every other day. Anyways.

My dad decided that in our economic state he would take us grocery shopping. He wanted to bring the whole family but my brother is interested in having kids and taking two tired young children to the grocery store is the best form of birth control I can think of...so the husband and uncle took the boys home to play (Hide and Seek Monster). So, three generations went the Meijer. My grandmother had never been to one and wanted to check it out. Shopping is a quest for her...finding the best price in town is the prize.

So, we go in. It was one of the best shopping trips I've had in awhile...of course if was paid for, that's makes it nice. And I had no list with me...which was a bit disorientating but I worked it out. We spent time looking at toaster ovens and crock pots...comparing what we have and what we wanted (not that any of us bought one). I just stocked up a some stuff (diapers) and filled in what I could remember I needed. Not a huge trip (I'm going to Costco with my mom next weekend....so excited). My grandma bought 2 cabbages, a box of strawberries, two disposable tupperware things, and parchment paper...why? Because they were good deals.

It was so nice to shop with like-minded shoppers...comparing prices, buying in bulk, etc. I guess I know where I get it. I should shop with them more often (especially if they want to pay). Thanks Dad!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Keeping it Clean

Ok, I would love to have a perfectly clean and tidy house...believe me....I fantasize about it. But I chose to get married to a man who didn't feel that so much and we have three kids. So...our house is mess most of the time. It is a constant battle to keep it tidy. I actually obsessively keep it clean (did you know you can clean almost everything in your house with white vinegar?). But...looking neat and clean is another story.

I've seen those houses on Wife Swap or something that are clean....either your kids don't play or you don't have a tidy house all the time. I've come to terms that it is just going to be this way for a couple more years.

But...when we have company over...the family will pull together and clean it up. I love it. We had visitors last weekend and will again today...so the house was pretty neat all week! I am thinking about making up visitors to come all the time...maybe they will keep it clean. Of course, then I would either have to keep the people coming or make up more lies that they all cancelled...but maybe it would be worth it.

Some family cleaning strategies....
1. Add music....sing a song or play a song and everyone has to clean up until the end.
2. Baskets or boxes...we have a couple baskets throughout the house so when we need a quick clean up or we don't feel like sorting them, we throw it all in there.
3. Give everyone a very specific job (clean up all the toys on the living room floor, find all the books in here).
4. Send them off in teams! My 4yo loves to help his big sister clean the mirrors.
5. Relax...its ok to let the floor be messy and just have fun together. You will have time later or tomorrow to clean it up.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ingredient of the month...

OATMEAL!!

It's getting cooler again...doesn't a warm bowl of oatmeal sound good? I love oatmeal...and it has a place in every meal and in between. It's high in fiber and can lower your cholesterol! It fills you up for the whole morning or overnight. And it's CHEAP!!! Buy it in bulk and on sale.

What can you do with oatmeal....
*Traditional breakfast....add brown sugar or maple syrup, nuts, spices, dried fruits, and yogurt! It only takes 2 mins in the microwave! A bowl of oatmeal is a great dessert replacement!

*Add into baked goods...treat as a 'mix-in' (like chocolate chips or raisins). Add to cookies, breads, pancakes, waffles.

*Use instead of breadcrumbs (rub between hands) in recipes such as meatballs, meatloaf, chicken fingers, or stuffed mushrooms.

*Use cooked and cooled oatmeal (or leftover) in smoothies! A great, quick breakfast.

*Mix with sugar, spices, and butter to top pies or fruit crisps.

*Make homemade granola! and granola bars (see previous recipe posts).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Quick New TV Thoughts

Ok, my husband got the boys to bed early so I stationed myself in my favorite spot and watched some TV. Here are my thoughts....for Monday night TV.

Dancing with the Stars (Ladies' Night) (ABC)....more dancing!!! so much fluff, I lost interest and stopped watching. But I will probably catch up later. That little Cheetah Girl can move!

Chuck (NBC)...although if you've seen any of the previews, you don't need to see the pilot, but it is something I might watch again. The plot focuses around Chuck who receives a email from his former college roommate (who did some bad things) that contains ALL of the secrets of the CIA and FBI. With a Clockwork Orange-type brainwashing, the secrets get burned onto the hard drive of Chuck's brain. Chuck is so sweet and cute, you want to see how he fairs in the world outside the electronics store.

Heroes (NBC)...I love this show. And the season premiere finally continued the story left lingering from May. However, as many critics have said, there are so many 'heroes' that each episode can't address them all. There should be 2 hour-episodes. There will always be a lot of mystery on this show (what the history of the Petrelli Family?) but always enjoyable!

Journeyman (NBC)...since I was still on the couch...don't judge this series by its premiere. I spent most of the show asking what was going to happen. It is kind of a mix between Quantum Leap (love that show!) and Sliders with a modern twist (his iPhone tells him when he's back in the present). I think the show is about a group of people who travel through time to help people out (e.g. save lives). What I like is that, I think, each episode will be self-contained (there are some series-long storylines...e.g. his relationship with his fam but each 'helping' task will be rapped up in an hour).

Monday, September 24, 2007

TV or not

New TV this week! I am so excited. I love TV...I don't watch a ton, I don't have a DVR or TiVo, I don't watch TV DVD's, I don't download shows off of iTunes.....but I do watch TV every day at the end of the day to relax. I have a few shows I don't like to miss (and will watch them online, if available, if I miss them. The major 4 networks offer free online episodes, usually starting the next day). After a summer of weird reality shows, game shows, and reruns, I am happy to have some new shows to enjoy.

Most of all, I am waiting for Heroes, Dancing with the Stars, 30 Rock, and CSI. I am interested in ABC's new Pushing Daisies (which doesn't start until next week), as well as the Women's Murder Club (based on some of my favorite books). The best time to watch TV is Thursday nights at 8pm...CSI, Grey's, the Office/Scrubs/30 Rock.



If you don't want to spend your week finding out what your favorite characters are up to....

*You can enjoy the United Way Backyard Block Party at Westside Park on Tuesday 9/25 from 530-8pm. FREE food, music, classic car show, games, child identification kit, inflatables.

*On Saturday 9/29, you can enjoy Worldwide Day of Play at Crestview Park in Urbana from 11am-2pm. Although sponsored by Nickelodeon (and the American Heart Association)...turn off the TV and enjoy FREE games, sports, crafts, and healthy snacks!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Birthday Season Again!

It's that time of year here...Birthday Season! Here are some cakes we have happliy celebrated with.

Classic Chocolate Cake with Banana Cream Filling and Chocolate Frosting. Mini-cupcakes are chocolate with White Buttercream (mini-mm's, jelly lifesavers, white gum, and icing for decorations). Cookies-n-Cream Cake (Oreos) with Vanilla Buttercream (oreos, gum drops, and fruity twislers for decorations...and a firefighter as a decoration consultant).
Chocolate-Yogurt Cake with Strawberry Cream Filling and Vanilla Buttercream.

We also had a Chocolate Banana Cake (Banana bread with some cocoa and chocolate chips in it) with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting....no photo, sorry.







Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Free Fitness!!


Join us at the Fitness Center Open House!!

SATURDAY from 1130am-130pm

2508 S. Galen Dr., Champaign

(217)356-1616


Food, fun, and its free!! Sign up for a membership and get some great deals!

Take free Zumba classes!!! Classes at 1130am and 1230pm. Free, supervised playroom will be available.

Zumba is a great latin dance-based cardio class! You will be having so much fun, you won't realize the 400 calories you just burned...and how you've toned whole body! Very beginner-friendly and for ALL ages**!

And I happen to teach it!!
Come out and have some fun...whether you want to join the gym or not...it's a fun event!
*The Fitness Center is a great family-friendly gym with a great variety of classes, cardio machines, weights, personal training, massage, and a free-playroom with great hours. Our family loves it!
**Note that classes are only open to those 13 years old and over.

What the F*&@!!

I don't even know where to begin on this one....

Mom sues after IVF brings 2 babies instead of 1
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20841486/

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Too Cool for School...

actually, it may be too hot for school!

Mother Nature is definitely reminding us that it is still summer...as we just broke down and turned the A/C back on. A couple week ago, Champaign schools (as well as most other schools in the area) dismissed students early due to the heat. They haven't done this, at least, in the 6 years we've been at Unit 4. I felt like something was amiss here....

Although I highly support allowing the kids (and staff) to get out of those hot buildings...have you ever been in those schools on days like that? Its hot...I can't see how anyone gets anything done. However, I have 2 major problems with the issue. First, the policy is not exactly exact. One day they get out early, another, equally hot day, they don't. So, I wrote to the school board and our dedicated Superintendent Culver. I wanted them to set up a specific policy for heat-related closings, etc. I thought setting temperature guidelines might be a good idea and might give parents and staff an idea of when a school might dismiss or not.

I was told that they make the decision in advance based on the forecast. So, the inconsistencies happen because a day is hotter than its predicted to be (and they rather not dismiss early once the school day begins). I understand this point. However, in my opinion anything over 85F should warrant an early dismissal (a day predicted to by 88F is just as hot at a day predicted to 90F). Anyways....

My other beef is that some of the schools (mostly the balanced-calender (aka year-round) school) have A/C and thus did not dismiss early. I don't want to take away their educational time but that means that the other students now have fewer instructional hours than the A/C schools. So, I don't think they should dismiss them but this is a big point for future plans (e.g. referendum!!!).

Anyways. Will they get out early this week or next due to the heat...I doubt it (but who knows...maybe Judy Fraser could persuade them...I love my daughter coming home all sweaty and not so nice to smell).

Monday, September 17, 2007

Yo Gabba Gabba!!


Or Yo Gramma Gramma as my 2yo says. Since I know some of you have seen this...let's chat.


This is a new show on Nick Jr. I let my kids watch it at first because I was interested in what it was...always looking for new, good kids' shows. I have no idea what this show is about. The stated purpose of the show is to get your kids up off the floor and moving with dancing and singing. Some dj guys comes out and puts out some strange toys out then they come to life. Although the plot of each show is pretty non-existent, they do try to present a theme each show (e.g. eating, fun, summer). There is music in the show. I think it is the same music each time with different, bland lyrics. And beware, those songs get into your head and haunt you all day (and night!). There's a Party in my Tummy is especially cursing.


They even have guest stars...like some interesting indie bands and actors (Elijah Wood...why?). Wood taught everyone the 'puppet master' dance (which kind of creeped me out)...but the dance was easy to follow and my 4yo picked it up after awhile and did it.


Usually, I can find something redeeming about kids' shows (even Boohbah has its moments)...but the only thing that is good about this show is that the kids seem to really like it. They sing the songs all the time (which do help at clean up and dinner time). On the other hand, the kids are obsessed and want to watch it all the time (which you actually can on Nickjr.com).


I much prefer Backyardigans or Jack's Big Music Show...which I think achieve the same purpose. Of course, I would prefer we just all dance and sing together (which we do)...but my kids get to watch some tv.