Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Movie Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

The summer of sequels is well on its way. My daughter and I have kept up with the Pirates trilogy but after a disappointing second installment, I was very pleased with this one. The first one was so much fun but the second was just a set-up for the last one...but I think you can get through #3 without seeing the second. It was a bit long (at 2hr 45min) but it was action-packed. Lots of pirate-talk and swashbuckling fun....how many sword and cannon fights can we pack into 3 hours?! I see Disney stunt show. The story is much simpler than the second..although there are so many deals being made between characters, I couldn't keep track (my daughter was a bit lost). Basically, it ends up being the pirates versus the government.

Who cares about the plot really? I easily paid my $6 to watch Johnny Depp (still sexy in his pirate scruffiness), Orlando Bloom (wow, is he H-O-T in this movie! wait 'til the last 15 mins for maximum hotness), and Geoffery Rush (not cute at all but a fabulous actor). I could do without the two women in the movie...neither one was really good. The rest of the pirates and other characters are great and funny, especially if you have followed them through all three movies.

My only warning, there is a lot of fighting...and death. They actually show some people getting shot and stabbed (in addition to the implied death of many more). This, in combination with the length and twisty plot...makes this film appropriate for kids 10 and up (this is NOT for the little ones...although I saw them in the theater).

Overall, if you liked the other films, I would recommend it.

In CU, we saw it at Boardman's Art Theater. This is a great find in Champaign. The prices are similar to the other theaters but the atmosphere is better. It only shows one movie at a time (once in awhile two)...so they go all out each time. They decorate the theater and dress up in theme (this one was pirate-themed, of course...they even had little favors at the door). The concessions are great. Really good popcorn as well as awesome cookies, stuffed pretzels, pizza, candy, coffee, tea, and soft drinks. The concession prices are ok ($5 for medium popcorn (free refills) and a medium drink). The sound system is good as well. You can also reserve a ticket online before the show. They also bring in some great foreign films and documentaries.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Screaming for Ice Cream!!

What happens in the summer that makes you crave ice cream? (Ok, we eat it all-year round) I've had the urge to go out for ice cream with the kiddies a lot the past few weeks. I wish we had a place within walking distance of our house (like when I was a kid), but that is not the case.

Our favorite local place, Jarling's Custard Cup, is great (a must-visit when in CU). But this year, especially...getting (and paying for) treats for five people, I feel a bit discouraged to frequent the place like we used to. The prices are ridiculous. You can easily spend over $20 for a family (you can easily spend under $10 as well). A single scoop of ice cream anywhere in town will run you from $1.50-$2, including Custard Cup. However, unlike most places where the single scoop is crazy-big that I often order a kiddie-size, Custard Cup's scoops are modest. But who goes there for a scoop of ice cream anyways?! Their signature is the Snowstorm (aka mix-in, concretes, blizzards). My husband's favorite is the peanut butter fudge with chocolate custard, mine the coffee oreo with chocolate custard. They have a list of many but you can create your own as well. But this year, a junior size will cost you $3.50! My daughter's favorite, the banana split (which she shares with me) is $4.50. And their sundaes are crazy...when I picture a 'sundae' I think of ice cream, topping, whipped cream, nuts, cherry. Here you must pay for each topping individually. Their shakes are great too but again, pricey. Now, don't get me wrong...I love Custard Cup (a staple in my pregnancy diets) but I just can't afford to go there much anymore.

There are other options in town (and in your own town)...

Kaleidoscoops (an Illinios chain) is great. They have lots of flavors of ice cream , frozen yogurt, and soft-serve including death by chocolate, cake batter, Superman, cheesecake, some Weight Watchers ice creams.... They also have standard sundaes (e.g. hot fudge, strawberry, brownie). They have 'blizzard'-type treats, fun toppings (e.g. candy bars, sprinkles, cookies), waffle cones. They also have ice cream cakes. The prices are very reasonable as well.

Baskin Robbins (which is most likely attached to a Dunkin Donuts) is ok. My first job was at a Baskin Robbins, so I have some attachment to the place. Ours in town isn't great...the ice cream is often a bit icy. They have the famous 31 flavors (gold-medal ribbon, rocky road, daiquiri ice) as well as sundaes, and 'blasts'. Prices are reasonable but the quality is just ok.

Cold Stone Creamery which is an addition to our campus-town area is ridiculous. Besides there is NO parking...which often makes us forget about it. The prices are extreme and the ice cream isn't really that great on its own. The idea is that they have several base flavors of ice cream and then you select things to mix into the ice cream. Although the flavor combinations are endless and the suggested mix-ins sound fabulous...you pay per ingredient, making a scoop of ice cream very expensive. And I personally, don't think it is worth the money (or the wait...sometimes you could wait for 20-30 mins).

Courier Cafe has awesome shakes and sundaes. Cozy Custard* is ok (some of my readers really like it).
Petersen's in Oak Park, IL is my favorite ice cream place ever!

The best option....go to the store and buy some ice cream and toppings and have an ice cream party!! Even if you buy more than one flavor of ice cream and a couple toppings, you will have probably spend less money than going out and the kids (and adults) will have more fun!! We love Edy's Double Churned Ice Cream (1/2 the fat and still tastes great)! Once in awhile, we spring for Ben and Jerry's (again, especially on sale, still cheaper!).

So, go out and have some ice cream! We all love it (plus you are getting a serving of dairy and possibly fruit!). Have some fun!!

*I previously had this as Cuddley Cup...this is because my daughter used to call it that and so when I was thinking about Cozy Custard, that is what I typed. Sorry.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Talk to me!

Let me know who you are...why you are reading my blog...what you like...what you don't....any recipes you would like to see or share...and topics discussed....blogs/websites I should check out.....

Email me at seasonedmom@gmail.com or comment here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

This week (and last)...

What we ate...
Black bean and tofu burritos with brown rice
Sloppy Joes
Curry Chicken with Apple, Raisin, Pistachio Couscous
Pizza/Calzone night!
Oatmeal Yogurt Pancakes
Egg beaters with ham and cheese
Pasta with Italian Sausage
Tomato Florentine Soup
Still eating lots of salad
We ate out at restaurants 4 times last week! (we had visitors)

What we read...
the 21mon old...still into the Look-n-Find books, Maisy books
the 3yo...Cranky's Day, Thomas Train Word Book, his ABC Book
the 10yo...Alice in Wonderland
the mom...A Body to Die For by Kate White

What we did....
Lots of outdoor time!!!
Visits from grandparents
Library visits
School Play
Family Pizza Party
walks to the park
bike rides
Watched some season finales (CSI, Grey's, ER, Heros, Dancing with the Stars)

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Restaurant Reviews

Boston's The Gourmet Pizza

Boston's* is a new addition to CU, in the ever-growing North Prospect shopping area. Since we shop at Meijer often, we watched the construction progress and were excited to try it out. And we finally did.

The menu is very diverse, offering pizza, salads, pasta, and sandwiches, as well as appetizers such as nachos and buffalo wings and desserts. The price range is reasonable (from about $8-$14 for entrees). Over the two visits, we tried several items (nachos, salmon caesar, asian salad, baked ravioli, ribs, beef sandwich, shrimp alfredo, kids mac and cheese, kids calzone, and kids dino bites). Overall, the food is ok. The nachos were very good. The salads, not so much. A lot of boring lettuce with a bit of other veggies. The shrimp alfredo was disappointing as well...about 1/2 lb of spaghetti with about 7 shrimp and a handful of veggies. The ribs were ok (you should check out other restaurants for something better). The baked ravioli, however, was very tasty. The beef sandwich was very good and surprisingly light. They offer traditional sides with many dishes (e.g. fries, coleslaw) but they also offer side salads or veggies as substitutes (the roasted veggies were great!).

The kids menu is actually pretty good. They offer a nice variety and offer healthy side options as well. Kraft mac and cheese is a staple on most menus these days...which is great for my picky eater. My daughter loved the kid's calzone! (I tasted it too, it was good). They also have some fun drink options (e.g. Lionel's Root Beer, Roy Rogers). And every kid's meal comes with a drink and cookie.

Although we were seated right away...we choose to sit outside both times, the service, although friendly, was slow (both visits, so I think it might be a trend). We were there for 90 mins! with three kids, that is too long. Also a warning!! If you sit on the patio, watch the kids. My 20 mon old can and did fit under the glass wall (thankfully they do have doors out there so I could retrieve him without having to go inside the restaurant). The atmosphere, outside is nice (they do have fans for the summer and heaters for the cooler days) and it is quiet enough to have nice conversation.

However, I cannot really recommend Boston's. The food isn't great enough and the slow service is a big turn-off. It was just ok and there are a lot better restaurants in the area. I would however, give it one more try to order pizza or maybe hang out in the sports bar portion and have wings or pizza while watching a big game.

*(If you sign up on the website, you will receive a free appetizer coupon and then another coupon for your birthday)

Courier Cafe
The Courier Cafe in downtown Urbana is a favorite of our family. We love to go there for the salad bar and sandwiches. But we often forget about their great breakfast. There are limited options for breakfast in CU on the Sunday morning. Additionally, it is always a dreadful thought to think about the wait on the weekends. But today, there was no wait at the Courier. Additionally, the service as amazingly fast and friendly.

The breakfast menu has great variety (egg dishes, omelets, pancakes, french toast, oatmeal, breads, fruit, meats) with generous but not overwhelming portions. Additionally, they offer some very healthy options including whole grains, egg whites, tofu, black beans, and fresh fruit. There are several dishes that have a Spanish flare. The price ranges from about $3.75-$7. Although they do not have a specific kids' menu, the regular menu can suit the little ones just fine (my boys shared a whole wheat french toast). The coffee is excellent. I would highly recommend this place for any meal.

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Everyone should take the time out to exercise. Whether it is walking, biking, playing tennis, or heading to the gym....you should do it. I, personally, go to the gym regularly. Besides the obvious physical benefits (e.g. weight loss or maintenance, increased energy, strength, and endurance), I love the emotional benefits (release of stress and aggression, increased self-esteem). I have gotten to the point that I HAVE to go to the gym or I feel bad. And what do I do while I am there? A bit of everything...biking, eliptical, classes. I love taking classes because it gives you a great workout without you having to do any of the thinking. They just tell you what to do. My favorite class...TurboKick (cardiokickboxing). I absolutely love it!

See www.turbokick.com

But today, I took a new class...Zumba! It is a latin dance-based cardio class with some belly dancing and hip hop thrown in. It was so much fun...you basically dance for an hour. You forget that you are getting a fabulous core, buns, and leg workout. I love to dance and pick up choroegraphy quickly so I had no trouble keeping up. However, it might take some getting used to if you are new to the class (there is very little cueing). Although, the class is obviously more dancy than athletic, you will definately work up a sweat. I would strongly recommend it to everyone....women, men, young, old, the in-shape, and those who want to be.

See www.zumba.com

Right now, The Fitness Center* is the only place in CU that offers a Zumba class. If you are not a member, get a day pass and check it out.

*After looking at all the gyms in the area, we selected The Fitness Center. The hours are great. The equipment is up-to-date and in good quantity (although during the high activity times, you might have to sign up and wait a little bit). They offer lots of classes (yoga, pilates, martial arts, step, athletic training-type classes, Turbokick, spin). They offer lots of services such as personal training and body analysis. They run some special programs throughout the year like the Inferno Challenge and the annual racketball league. They have saunas and whirlpools. And, best of all....the big selling point, a free playroom for the kids. And my kids love to go there (they ask to go).

See www.fitcen.com

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Ingredient of the month...


I love yogurt...always have but after having an annoying yeast infection while nursing my 3yo, I came to really love it. Now, I prefer nonfat, plain yogurt. I find everything else too sugary. My kids love yogurt too. I think some days, its all they eat. They really like the drink-yogurts (as they say) or the go-gurts. Note that many of the flavored yogurts contain a lot of sugar and corn syrup. I would love to buy organic (I love Stonyfield Farms) but I usually opt for the store brand...which is good too.

Yogurt is good for you too. It is a great source of calcium, potassium, and protein. Additionally, it contains active live cultures including acidophilus and bifidus. These good bacteria are great for your digestion. It is also a great way to replace the bacteria you need if you are taking antibotics.

What can you do with yogurt? Lots...

*Eat plain yogurt with granola and fruit.

*Put in smoothies with fruit, milk or juice, oatmeal, and protein powder.

*Use in place of buttermilk...in pancakes, biscuits...

*Use in place of sour cream...on potatoes, dried dips, in baking recipes (e.g. sour cream coffee cake).

*Use to marinate chicken for fried chicken or add marinate with yogurt and curry.

*Mix with peanut butter, honey, and cinnamon for a great fruit dip.

*Mix with garlic and grated cucumber for a great veggie dip or topping for a Mediterrean dish. Even better if you use Greek-style yogurt.

*Mix with jam, honey, salt, and pepper for a great salad dressing. Or mix with blue cheese!

*Mix with fresh fruit (or smoothie mixture) and freeze in ice cube trays or popsicle molds for a great summer treat.

Up in Smoke!

Champaign has proven to be unfortunately run by stupid people who have decided to waste time and money, confuse the public, and contribute to sickness and death of its citizens. After years of working on a Clean Air Ordinance (aka city-wide smoking ban), it finally passed last year...and after months of silliness was enacted this past January 31st. That is great! I enjoyed going out to bars and clubs, hearing some great local music, eating without coughing, bringing my kids anywhere....well, that is all changing as of midnight today.

After a highly debated April election, the city council now has enough pro-smoking members to repeal the smoking ban for bars, clubs, and pubs...and last night the mayor put it on the agenda...and without discussion, it was repealed. And the change is effective immediately (not months later, like the ban).

How could this happen so fast? No study sessions? No lengthy reviews of health information or business reports? Why? We did that before....and it showed in favor of the smoking ban. Clearly, in the three months it was enacted is enough time to see if it is working or not (ignore that February was the coldest in many, many years). I am sure they asked every business in Champaign how they felt about it....I am sure they talked to the ER's and doctors to see if smoke-related illnesses have been reduced...I am sure they took a poll of citizens to listen to what they thought. Ya, right.

What is the silliest thing....Jan 1, 2008, the entire state will be going smoke-free!

Now, some bars did actually allow smoking at midnight, I'm sure. But other bars are staying smoke-free (way to go! actually, the most popular bars in downtown are staying smoke-free*). So, as a patron, you will have to do some research to find out which ones are and which ones aren't....that is for the next couple months. And Urbana is not changing...they are staying smoke-free.

I don't know why this issue makes me so mad. Besides I think the evidence is clear that smoking is bad (yes, 2nd-hand smoke kills)...I find that this whole issue has underminded the political process in town. They put so much into preparing for the smoking-ban, to repeal it in one night without anything seems strange. That people ran for city council solely on the idea of the smoking-ban (and won...you know who you are) is crazy. Aren't there other things the city has to deal with? And to spend the time on the issue, when the state already decided it....I feel like it makes Champaign look stupid....and frankly, I feel our mayor let the whole city down to better his own interests....he is a smoker and wants to smoke in public...who cares about the rest of us.

Well, for all you smokers, enjoy your last couple months of smoking out there...you won't see me around to stop you.

Champaign Bars staying smoke-free:
Cowboy Monkey
Chester Street
Seven Saints
Station 211
Billy Barooz Pub & Grill
the Highdive

Plus more, I'm sure, but call to check before patronizing

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Go Green!!

No, I am not cheering for my daughter's soccer team...I'm talking about becoming more environmentally-friendly.

Here is a great site with some easy tips on how to become more green.

Here is what we did to Go Green this week:
*Purchased an old-school but brand-new push "reel" lawn mower...no gas, very little noise, a bit of simple exercise, works great! $100 at Meijer, $120 at Amazon.com, $130 at Home Depot.
*I got some small dishcloths to use as napkins instead of paper.
*We've tried not to use paper towels.
*Used cloth bags at the grocery store (and used the boxes that are on the shelves)**.
*We did not turn on the AC...despite the 89F temperature here.
*I cleaned out the attic and part of the basement...recycling tons of papers from college and grad school!
*And, we finally set up our compost in the backyard!!

**At Meijer stores, you receive a 5 cent discount for every cloth/reused bag and box you use to bag your groceries. You have to bag yourself and might have to remind the checker for the discount. We usually get between $1.50-$2 back.

Happy Day!

Happy Mother's Day!!!
to all you mothers, stepmothers,
mother-in-laws, future moms,
....all moms!
Have a great day everyone!

Friday, May 11, 2007

End of School!!

It is that time of year...the end of school!

So, that brings a bunch of pot lucks, picnics, and presents.

Teacher-gifts are always interesting. What to get? How many apple and school bus-themed trinkets can one have?

Here are some ideas....
*I ask the teacher if they need anything for their classroom.
Our school doesn't have a lot of money and there is always something they could use (e.g. a dictionary, thesaurus, board games, art supplies, batteries, paper, snacks). Or a gift card to an office supply store (e.g. Office Depot) or department store (e.g. Target).

*A student-made appreciation gift
My daughter wrote thank-you notes to all her teachers and principal this week for Appreciation Week. And for her teacher, a poem about him. My 3yo made a list of what he liked about preschool (I wrote it down for him...unedited). He also decorated some reused clementine boxes with stickers to pack the gifts in.

*A pampering gift
Since they won't have to get up and go to work for three months, we made a breakfast kit (homemade pancake mix, syrup, nuts, and OJ) and a dessert kit (homemade brownie mix, hot fudge nuts, and OJ (see below)). Or a gift card to the movies or rental place with some microwave popcorn and candy. I would stay away from bath/spa stuff, since it is a popular gift.
*Note the kids helped make the mixes and gather the other supplies.

*Ask the kids what they want to do to thank their teachers.
I asked my 3yo what type of gift he would like to make for his teachers. He said orange juice...they really like to drink it. So we did! My daughter likes to bake for her teachers and draw them pictures.

We don't spend a lot of money but we do think it is important to say thank you for spending your time and energy to educate and guide my children.

As for potlucks...I love them! I love deciding which dish to bring (hopefully the one everyone is talking about). But it is hard to pick a dish that can be served at room temp...doesn't melt or spoil in the heat...can be made ahead of time, if possible.

This week I made a Kansas Corn Casserole (Swiss cheese, corn, and saltines...yummy!), Sauteed veggies with tempeh and couscous, and a Mocha Tart (I will post this recipe soon...it was awesome and easy!).

Overall, I love the end-of-the-year activities because we get to hang out, talk with families, and make plans to see each other over the summer. I love to watch the kids play and I love to feel part of a community that can get together to share time and food.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Now, I am a busy mom and I need to find out more information about this but....

There is a set of parents that were just sentenced to life for killing their newborn baby. Unfortunately, several stories a year come up with people murdering their newborns and putting them in trash cans, or leaving their babies out somewhere hoping someone else will find them. But this story is strange and extremely disturbing.

The 6-week old starved to death, in front of the parents...as they only fed the baby soy milk and apple juice. What? The big deal about this story is that they are vegans. Ok, and....I am still waiting for more than that. So they don't eat animals...and....because breastmilk comes from a human (aka an animal), the baby can't have it? Or formula, which does not contain animals, is unacceptable? And where were the doctors, nurses, neighbors (that baby was probably screaming in hunger...until he was too weak). And why didn't they ask for help? I could ignore the complete ignorance of infant feeding (although I think breastfeeding is innate) if they went for help when the baby obviously needed help but they didn't.

What bothers me most is that they waited out the six weeks. That child must have been in agony...I can't imagine watching my baby go through that...just the thought makes me cringe. If they didn't want their baby...why not abortion early on...adoption at birth...or a quicker manner of murder (sorry to say that).

Being a vegan has nothing to do with this story and it shouldn't even be brought up (I hope vegans don't get a bad rap for this). Something else is going on here.

Check The Lactivist link for more and continued information on this one.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Croissant Flambe

I got a fabulous cookbook for my birthday...Tartine (a bakery in San Francisco, see http://www.tartinebakery.com/). There are a ton of great-sounding recipes, I am so eager to try, I can't wait (watch out Teacher Appreciation Luncheon and end-of-year picnics!).

The first recipe in the book is for their famous croissants. At first, I was excited, I love croissants! Then I looked at it. The recipe is 5 pages long! So, I thought, no way. Then after reading it several more time, I thought, I can do this! So, I did. The recipe is written beautifully, as I read it dozens of times. Very clear and precise, yet simple enough for the home cook. There are several simple steps that are spaced out over about 24 hours. So, overall it takes a long time but each step doesn't take that long in itself (so your active time is relatively short). You can also easily make it far in advance. I was so excited as I worked through the steps...watching one of my favorite movies, West Side Story, while I waited to do that last step last night. Working with this beautiful dough felt so great. There is such satisfaction in making the dough just perfect. I even did some the kneading by hand. I woke up with my 3yo early this morning and rolled them out and got them ready to bake.

Then I made the fatal error.

The rolls are big and will rise. So, I moved them to my larger cookies sheets. These sheets don't have sides. When the croissants were baking...the butter in the dough melted a bit (this is normal) and leaked all over the oven. There was smoke everywhere...and even some flames!! (This is the point when having a fire fighter in the house is great) But I was determined to wait it out. And they looked beautiful! (And the oven cleaned up quickly) We waited for them to cool and dug in. On first taste, they were delicious. Perfect and buttery with a wonderful texture. But there was this undeniable smokey aftertaste. So, after all that work, we just can't say they are great. I don't even think we can eat the rest of them.

At least I tried the recipe...the new technique and did it. And next time, I will use the right pans and they will be fabulous!

**If you want the recipe and want to challenge your baking skills and patience, I can post it to you in the mail....let me know.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

This Week...

What we ate....
Turkey chili
Roasted veggies*
Pasta with roasted red pepper sauce
Pasta with garlic chicken
Blueberry pancakes
BBQ beef with baked potatoes
Califlower soup
Lots of salad!

What we read...
the 20mon old...loves the Look and Find books! Thomas books, Maisy Drives the Bus
the 3yo...My puppy (he can 'read' it himself), My nose, your nose
the 10yo...kira-kira by Cynthia Kadohata
the mom...If Looks Could Kill by Kate White (This is a nice mystery series. The protagonist is female and is written by a female, so its a bit better perspective. The stories are interesting and keep you guessing. They are a bit longer, the past two books, at about 200 pages I have been very tempted to skip to the last chapter to get it over with. There are only 4 books in series currently.)

What we did...
A play and walk in a great park in town. Too bad we didn't put on enough sunblock!
Lots of outdoor time! Not a lot of TV this week!!
Put in our new-used stove/double oven (so excited, thanks Uncle Phil and Aunt Eileen!)
Working on dd science project--crystals.
Last soccer game! and team pizza party,
Take-your daughter to work day! (she had a great time with her dad)
Neighborhood Meeting...save our pool!
My dh brought the ambulance over the ds' preschool...it was a big hit!
Date Night!!! (dinner and a movie--Blades of Glory...hilarious!!!)

**Roasted Veggies
Line large cookie sheet (with sides) with foil. Cut veggies and toss with olive oil and salt and pepper (or whatever seasonings you like, I used balsamic vinegar salad dressing). Roast in 400F oven for 20-40 mins until veggies are fork tender but not falling apart. Eat them hot or cold.

Veggies that like to be roasted....
Summer squash
Eggplant (roast this up with some garlic and then puree for a grea dip)
Carrots (these take a bit more time in oven)
Portabello mushrooms

I do a big batch of them when I have time during the week. Store in the frig and use throughout the week.
Use on:
with some brown rice or other grains
Blend into dip
serve with anything!

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Let's go Smoke-Free!!

After a lot of confusion and delay, our community finally went smoke-free this winter. I have written about it before...in short, it is great!!! Recently, Illinois passed a state-wide ban through the state senate and house. It is just waiting for the governor's signature, which it is expected to get. So...you would think that Champaign would be trying to show itself off as a successful smoke-free community....no. The mayor is now calling for a vote to reverse the ordinance at the next city council meeting in a couple weeks (and after the recent election, he may have the votes to do it). Not only do I think it is silly to add smoke back to the community, but I think it questions the political process in Champaign. It took years to pass the policy, and now, after only one quarter (a winter quarter with a month of snow), they want to change it in a single meeting, due to a handful of complaining business owners? Additionally, why change it now when in seven months we will have to go back to being smoke-free because of the state ban? Not to mention, at this point, smokers can sit outside for the next few months.

Anyways. My point....if you want something done in your community you must be active. In addition to voting for officials you prefer, you must let all the officials know how you feel and what you are willing to do to get it done.

Write your council members and mayors!

Attend meetings!

Information on Champaign City Council and Mayor's Office:

Information on Champaign Unit 4 Schools (another favorite group to watch):

State of Illinois:

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Ice Cream!

I know its late but I just found out about this yesterday....
Tonight...Wednesday, May 2nd is 31 cent ice cream night at all Baskin Robins/31 Flavors Ice Cream!

It is to benefit local fire fighters and their families.

So, if you are reading this now and want a yummy treat, head out! We went and enjoyed!

Check this out

Here are some amazing photos by Jill Greenberg.


Who hasn't seen these faces in your house. She explains, “The children I photographed were not harmed in any way. And, as a mother, I am quite aware of how easily toddlers can cry. Storms of grief sweep across their features without warning; a joyful smile can dissolve into a grimace of despair. The first little boy I shot, Liam, suddenly became hysterically upset. It reminded me of helplessness and anger I feel about our current political and social situation. The most dangerous fundamentalists aren’t just waging war in Iraq; they’re attacking evolution, blocking medical research and ignoring the environment. It’s as if they believe the apocalyptic End Time is near, therefore protecting the earth and future of our children is futile. As a parent I have to reckon with the knowledge that our children will suffer for the mistakes our government is making. Their pain is a precursor of what is to come.”

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Who will your children be

Every parent has certain expectations and goals for their children. And these are formed from unconscience ideas, past experiences, cultural ideals... But hopefully parents can also allow their children to bring their own selves to the picture. I, of course, have high expectations of my children. Although I make my opinions and ideals clear to my children, I also nurture whatever my children bring to the table. One aspect that I am very open about ideals about gender.

I get very annoyed when people make comments, etc. about gender-specific ideals towards my children. For example, my 3yo son likes to wear his sister's purple, sequined belt to school and pretend to put on make up. Then people say, oh...he will be so embarrassed when he is older or you shouldn't let him out like that. People ask my daughter if she has a boyfriend at school. I can't stand when people tell me that their son won't play with barbies (Free to Be You and Me's William's Doll!). Not to mention the slew of stereotypical-gender gifts for the kids (my sons have so much blue, its unbelievable).

Now, gender-based stereotypes are embedded into our culture and so many of us develop them without even knowing it. Why do I think this is a problem? Because our society has changed and we need to understand and support our children in whoever they are. You cannot assume what your children will be. This means that children may be and can be interested in anything they like. Boys can like to wear pink, girls can play with trucks. Additionally, you must be open to the idea that your child may be homosexual or even transsexual. In our house, our children are well-aware that people and families come in all different varieties. Although we are a heterosexual couple, they know same-sex couples. (Our daughter is very clear that she thinks same-sex couples should have the right to legally marry) From a very young age, we talked about how you can love anyone and it is ok. On Friday, I watched a heart-breaking story about transexual children on 20/20 (see http://abcnews.go.com/2020/story?id=3088298&page=1). It was amazing how children so young we so clear on who they were. And their parents accepted and supported them as they were.

You have to be open to who your children are and let them be. Try not to push any prejudiced ideals on your kids...give them information, have discussions, allow them to express themselves and explore...starting young.