Friday, November 30, 2007


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),

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 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. 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 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 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


*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 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 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 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. 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 to 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 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 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 a lot of good ideas last night.