Monday, December 29, 2008

The Dynamic Duo

It is well-known that my youngest two sons love everything superhero. But my favorite part right now is the creativity to become a different superhero each day.

Each day they decide what superhero they would like to be...either established (e.g. spiderman, hulk) or original. If they have a representation of said superhero (e.g. picture, movie, action figure), they hold up the representation and try to match their clothes as closely as possible. This is where the real creativity comes in....

One day, they come in my room and say "Hey, look who we are!" (I had no clue). "See, I am wearing stripes like a flag and blue pants so I am Capt. America. And C. is wearing red, pretend that heart on his shirt is a spider, so he is Spiderman."

They often like to be the Hulk or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles but their drawers lack green items...so the 3yo one day puts on another color shirt and turns it backwards and tells me he is pretending his shirt is green so he can be Michael Angelo.

But my favorite was this week, when after giving up on being The Thing (since our 3yo doesn't have an all orange outfit), he decided to put on black and be "Black Man."

If only the other one decided to be the White Power ranger....

What a pair!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Late for a date

Next year, I think we will celebrate Christmas on the 27th...it would save us a fortune! This year, I cut our holiday budget down considerably (through freecycle and cutting extra things down (e.g. candy, stocking stuffers)) but think about...everything is on sale now. Just because hershey kisses are wrapped in red and green...on the 26th they are marked down 75%...but not just wrapping paper, ribbons, cards, and candy.....stores are clearing their extra stock...so lots of things are on sale. (actually I saw prices starting to drop starting the 21st)

So next year, maybe we'll wait an extra day or two.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Good Bye Eartha Baby

Yesterday, a Hollywood and Broadway legend passed away...Eartha Kitt.
What a woman! Talented in every way...singer, dancer, actress, political activist, strong--inside and out--woman. You can read more about her and her amazing 60-year career here.

I love her silky voice...but I also love her classic catwoman (she was actually the replacement catwoman). Here is a just a little show of her talent.
She will be missed.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Top Holiday Food List

Here are my must-have holiday foods...its not Christmas without them.

5. Egg nog latte (or egg nog in my coffee since I can't afford a real latte)
4. Gram's ribbon jello (she wakes up every 2hrs during the night to make the layers)
3. Mom's stuffing (how many sticks of butter again?)
2. Hershey Kiss cookies (peanut blossoms)
1. Gram's pierogies (farmer's cheese are my favorite)

I sadly will miss my Polish Christmas Eve dinner this year...I will take a moment of silence now.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Top Lists

This is the time of year...let's count it down....so I will too.



Today...I will tell you about my top 5 guilty-pleasure movies (movies that aren't really great, wouldn't qualify as 'films' but you always stop and watch them if on tv). You know...the ones you are slightly embarressed that you know most of the dialogue. Classic iconic movies don't count here (e.g. Dirty Dancing, Breakfast Club, Steel Magnolis, Wayne's World) and of course, no awards or critical acclaim.



5. The Cutting Edge--this classic ice skating movie (now a nice pair with Blades of Glory) was watched many times in my adolescence...toe pick!



4. She's All That (great soundtrack, classic teen flick...who doesn't love falafel hats?)



3. Bring It On--I was a cheerleader in high school.



2. Legally Blonde--I'm blonde too.



1. Final Destinations 1-3 (LOVE THEM!!! Love that they are almost always shown on TV back-to-back). The most creative and awesome death scenes without a real-life threatening killer.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cold Quickies...

*Man, its cold out there...especially when you are standing outside the car waiting for little ones to find their car seats.

*We spent the weekend visiting half of our living relatives...all in less than 48 hrs! Complete with 2 restaurants, Christmas presents, sleet falling from the sky, drunken elders, puking kids, and lots and lots of love.

*Note on the puking kids....our 5yo spent one night, or early morning I should say, throwing up. But my mom told me she would take care of him, so I went back to bed. Thanks Mom! (later, he gave me a detailed description of the contents and emotions)

*I almost left my 12yo at a rest stop on the highway (think Little Miss Sunshine)...she spent the trip in iPod world, I didn't know she was missing.

*4 more days until Winter Break for me and the kids! And no travelling!!

*No, I don't have my Christmas shopping done...and those of you who have it done and wrapped should not mention it to the rest of us. I did bake today...finally.

*You know that my brother and I share a brain when he shouts one word at the table and only I laugh!

*My grandma decided that she needs to find a young (60+) billionaire to marry...let me know if you know any. She will settle for a millionaire, if necessary. I now refer to her as the golddigging cougar...with love.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

To you...impatient driver behind me...

This happened twice today...

I'm waiting on a side street waiting to turn left onto a 'busy' street (what we in CU consider 'busy'...Prospect, Neil, University). Waiting patiently (I am an extremely patient person) for the safe opportunity to turn. The person behind me honks. (and because I looked and there is nothing wrong with my car...unless the pro-breastfeeding or Obama bumper stickers offend you)....STOP HONKING AT ME!!!

I am not going to risk my and my kids' lives not to mention our only car to try to sneak into the bustling traffic of Champaign rush hour. Be patient, my friend.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Bail me out...

So its official, the economy sucks...here what I have to say about fixing it.

Everyone who makes more than 1 million dollars per year should take the 1 mil and give the rest to the rest of us. Does anyone need more than 1 million dollars? I wouldn't even know what to do with that much money let alone 9mil or whatever ridiculous amounts athletes, movie stars, and major corporation CEO's make.

My husband says that they made that money...it is theirs. True....but they don't need it. Do it for the love of the job and the joy it brings...that is why my husband and I are in jobs we are in...we love them and not the paycheck (obviously).

Yes, I realize this will never happen but think of the millions and millions of dollars.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Hometown Pride


We go every year....snow, sleet, cold....we go to the CU Parade of Lights in downtown. We bundle up (snowpants, hats, blankets) and head out. This year we went without the hubby since he had to work. It was a risk but it paid off. The kids love parades and there are only 2 each year...and Santa makes a special appearance.

This year, it was definately cold and a bit windy...but no snow. But there was definately a smaller crowd last night and a shorter parade. And I felt there was a lack of effort this year for the awards...there were only a couple 'floats' to choose from (the MTD was great!). I loved the big star balloons from the park district (sponsored by different organizations). But we love seeing all the scout trips, local organizations, volunteer fire depts, characters....oh, and candy. We watched it once near the beginning and then walked down (past the burned out buildings) and watched it again listening to our local news personalities commentate while we waited for Tree Lighting (and enjoyed free hot cocoa with marshmellows and whipped cream from Jim Gould's!).
Our 3yo sat motionless wrapped up as much as possible. Our 5yo took the time to figure out how the tree turns on without an outlet near by, and the poorly-dressed-for-the-weather 12 yo bounced around trying to stay warm and how to get the marshmellows out of her cup. I was excited that there we not a ton of kids waiting to talk to Santa...but my little ones just wanted to see him. It was also fun trying to see if the scarf and hat hidden beings around us were people we knew.

It is nice and a great tradition for our community.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Fitness Friday!

Its cold out there! And it is, for most people, the busiest time of year...shopping, parties, food...

I like to get outside when I can but I don't risk injury exercising on ice-covered surfaces...but I let the kids out all the time to play. Bundle up! Go out. I watch from the door and make them hot cocoa when their noses are rosy. Playing in the snow is great exercise! Shoveling! Raking the leaves you didn't get to before the snow! Making a snowman! Just being in the cold takes more energy. If you must keep them in...I kid you not...invest in a small climber, slide, trampoline, nerf basketball hoop, something. Clear some space and let them run around. It will make everyone happier (natural exercise high, release of excessive energy, fun).

As for me, I head to the gym a little bit more (stay later, really). Since I'm planning on running all over CU in the spring...the treadmill and elliptical will be my extra activity. But I always like to jump some rope for 10mins...its fun and a great, quick workout. Its all about mediation for me...zone out for 10-30mins each day...listen to good music or watch trashy tv....revitalizing!

Of course, I highly advocate belting out holiday songs and dancing around the Christmas tree.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

I'm here...

With work and a non-working computer...I've been forced to cut my online usage down...I had to read a book and everything!

Sorry to be embedded-media crazed but this is a nice closure to my same-sex marriage discussion. I had to share. Thanks Neil for sending.


See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Health Care?

I spent most of my day dealing with the health care of my family.

Besides we were playing phone tag with our pediatrician about our 5yo (he's fine), I had my annual physical. I get there...surprised that I apparently scheduled a pap smear (I didn't)..then find out that my insurance might not cover the appointment since my ob/gyn listed my annual gyno exam in June as a regular physical. But that got taken care of and I was given a clean bill of health.

After I get home, I decide to finally call the insurance company to ask about several incorrect billings. First I am told that my doctor's office apparently sending the bills in incorrectly...but they don't actually correct the error unless the patient complains...then you have to go through a ridiculous process. I also ask about some lab fees...despite the literature we were given about our plan that simply states 100% of lab fees are covered...really they are only covered if sent to a specific lab. And, here's the best part, it is MY responsibility to tell my doctor to send it to this specific lab. So...there will be a strong letter sent about that. It should not be the patient's responsibility to tell them where to send lab work...especially since we were never told such a thing. So my hub calls the doctor and they say its the insurance companies errors. Blah.

So then, while I was in the mood. I look at our annual change period information on our current insurance (something I ignored until my hub mentioned that so many people at work were complaining about the changes...what changes?). Basically, my hub's work is changing insurance companies so we have to reverify our existence and select new plans. After spending hours trying to figure out if our current drs were covered and trying to factor in the care the pediatrician just recommended for our middle boy....done and done.

Here's the bottom line...we take the time to read the claims, bills, literature and I don't pay unless I know what I'm paying for. But so many people don't...there are billing errors, coverage and lack of coverage they don't know about...but people just pay for it or go see the doctor expecting to get low-cost care. Health care should not be complicated...I should feel comfortable heading to the dr to the care my family and I need.

Yuck!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holidays...already?

Yes, I noticed the Christmas decorations were out in stores before Halloween...and they are in full bloom now yet Thanksgiving dinner hasn't even been cleared (I have started cooking it). Andy Rooney makes a good case here.

Watch CBS Videos Online

I often cringe when I see Christmas lights a glow before December and I, personally, refuse to pull out any holiday items before Dec 1st (even though I so love my collection of holiday socks). And despite my kids watch Rudolph all year, I try hard not to indulge too much too early. However, I did check Stephen Colbert's new special...hilarious! The music is brilliant (I love the Nutmeg song!). You can watch it in clips here...or buy it on DVD starting Tuesday.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

News!

My 2 favorite news sources merge!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Quickies...

*I am waiting patiently for the 21st Century inventions presented in the Jetson's television show to come into being...I really want the walk-thru shower/dressing machine and the dinner options.

*Why isn't there a good movie in the theaters on the once-in-months date night? Although Role Models made me laugh out loud...the perfectly buttered popcorn was the star of the experience.

*Should I feel bad that I watch tv/movies online...most likely posted illegally?

*My 5yo is obsessed with Hairspray...I love hearing him sing (even when its at 6am).

*3yo is diaper-free!!

*12yo had to miss her first school dance due to some bad grades...a tough but right parenting decision.

*I really love coffee.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Marriage...what the?

Ok...Prop 8 has really opened up the discussion of marriage across the country.

Here's my thought today that has really bothered me....
Right now, two people of the same gender/sex cannot be legally married, in most states.

However...someone who has gone under some kind of transgender process can legally change genders/sexes and then get legally married. For example, a woman who transgendered into a male can become legally a man and then marry a woman. Additionally, people who get married as a heterosexual couple but then one decides to transgender...their marriage is still legal. So despite, someone's chromosomal make up or physical body...they can marry.

I am really bothered that a country and state can define male and female and thus marriage and parenthood.

Again....we are all people. This is so frustrating!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fitness Friday!

Reflections on my own fitness...

Honestly, I really never exercised seriously before five years ago. Yes, I went to gym class in school, took some dance, was a cheerleader, I would do some crunches here and there and walk around campus in college...and I was a big fan of Body Electric! Not sure if it was the best husband move but...after receiving both an Ab Roller and a Thigh Master for my birthday...we finally joined a gym after our middle baby.

I remember vividly my first kickboxing class (thanks, Lisa!). I thought I was going to die...yes, that is how I felt. Step class was a mess. I couldn't run more than few steps. Now five years later, things have obviously changed. I had two new members in my kickboxing class this week...I told them how my first class was.

Later this week, I decided to run on the treadmill (something I rarely do). I step on, find the right music...I am running at a good pace...no gasping, no aches in my shins...just a relaxing repetitive movement. So I move on...I jump rope for awhile...trying new tricks to show my teen class..move on to some toning. It was a good workout but I wasn't going to puke...I didn't need to stumble for my inhaler.

I am in good shape and that idea feels really good. I suppose I knew I was in ok shape but I've finally given up on numbers on the scale...I don't obsess over the softness of my belly...I focus on how I feel. I can carry laundry up two flights of stairs without exhaustion. I can sprint after my fearless 3yo. I can show my daughter how to have fun and exercise at the same time (especially since she is complaining about TaeBo videos being forced upon her in PE). I feel better focused on life after relieving stress.

I guess its nice to feel at peace about something in life.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Toys...what happened?

As many of you have seen, the holiday toy ads were out before Halloween this year. My kids love to look at them over and over again and let us know what Santa should bring. I like to see what's out there...what they should send is a battery catalog! (note: we invested in rechargeable batteries awhile ago)

Almost every toy now either needs batteries or is put into something with batteries. Why? Can't the kids make animal noises? Can they play with a barn that doesn't light up? At work, we received some cool dinosaurs...however they all made noises, so I promptly removed the batteries (I do this all the time). One kid kept bringing it over to me and telling me it didn't work. After a couple tries (telling him to make a dinosaur sound), he finally happily played with it.

I also stopped at the bookstore the other day...and now apparently books have to have something extra too. It is hard to buy a book without an accompanying toy.



Let kids play...use their imaginations...give them a tub of paper towel rolls and they'll be happy, a package of construction paper with scissors and markers, a good set of building blocks.

My kids have always favored the contents of the kitchen cabinets, basics of crayons and paper, matchbox cars and truck, basic figurines, jumping on their beds...



If you still feel like you need some thing new and exciting, try our new favorite toy, Toobeez. They are like giant tinker toys. My kids have built a fort, desk, lasers, beds for their teddy bears, cars....




They happen to be having a great deal on Toobeez right now too....click here!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

More the Marry-er

Obviously, I am liberal in ideology so someone can help me out...I just don't understand why two loving people of the same sex cannot get married in the US?

Not only can they not get married in most states...but California said yes and now no. How can you treat people that way?

I simply do not understand how same-sex marriage will ruin the institution of marriage. Marriage is about love, trust, devotion, support...those qualities exist regardless of sex. And I find the religious argument (e.g. homosexuality is prohibited by God) mute because, in the US, any heterosexual couple can get married regardless of their religious affiliation.

Shouldn't we treat everyone in the country equally? That is the bottom line, isn't.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Solid as Barack!

I was almost overwhelmed when discovering that Barack Obama will be our new president (that happening around 830pm when Ohio was colored blue). A truly historic moment that I am glad my daughter was awake to see.

Yes, we can! Yes, we can discover new ideas, new solutions, new perspectives, new leaders, new listeners...

Our society is ready and willing for change...a change to take care of each other and work together to build a strong country starting at the foundation. We are willing to look past ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, political affiliation...to rebuild and recuperate after some devastating times.

And more importantly...this election has told us that each one of us can and should contribute to change. We can all help make our nation strong.

I am incredibly excited at the coming years. I am so proud to have this amazing man represent me and my family to the world.

Congratulations to my senator...and now my president...Barack Obama!

Go now!

Go out and VOTE!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

3 Day to go!

Here just some interesting political media for you today.

Dan's column from Smile Politely Joe vs. the Socialists.

Buy the Joe the Doll set now!
John McCain on SNL...he was great!



My favorite...Solid as Barack!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Fitness Friday!!!

How do you feel?

Try not to focus on numbers. And I know it is so hard to do...it took me the past year to really stop thinking about the number on the scale and my BMI. According to those numbers, I am overweight. But...I feel good. I can breathe easily doing everyday tasks, I can play with my kids without exhaustion, my clothes feel comfortable, I can make it through a workout without feeling like puking. If you know me, I'll tell you I haven't lost a pound that last 6 months but my body shape has changed a lot.

Now if your doctor is concerned about your weight, blood pressure, or glucose levels...those numbers do matter and should be monitored. But these numbers should not be obsessed over. And sometimes you can be working out and eating well without any weight loss...but the scale doesn't say it all.

Answer these questions:
How do I feel when I walk up the stairs?
How do my clothes feel?
What is my energy level throughout the day?
How do I feel about my body's appearance?
Can I start to see some muscles (go ahead...do your Hulk pose)?

If you are starting a fitness program...revisit these questions to see how your health has changed.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Twilight Series...I want my life back!

I admit I have been out of the internet world as of late due to so much work and I've been reading Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series.

If you don't know...this series of 4 novels chronicles the life of Bella, a junior in high school, who moves to live with her dad in a gloomy Forks, WA. She ends up meeting lots of people including a family of vampires and some other mythical creatures. That is all I will say until those of you who want to read it STOP NOW!

SPOILER ALERT!!

I've waited to write about the series until I was complete. I love to read series from start to finish. I liked the first book. It was a nice quick read that took me back to high school romance (that worked out for me pretty well, I married him). I think this is the draw to the 30-something crowd that is devouring the series along with its intended audience of teenage girls. However, after the first novel...the second was almost unfinishable for the first half. But I've never not finished a book...so I read on. At this point, I was just curious what happened...why does everyone love these things that are sucking the life out of me?

I'll be brief on my likes and dislikes...
Characters
I love Jacob (and his 'family').
I don't like Edward. (although he came around in the last installment)
I HATED Bella. (I really have a problem with her being the main character of novel that so many young women are reading. I will use her as an example of what NOT to do with my daughter...like make friends and try to keep them...talk to your parents...don't obsess over a single person...don't risk your life for others...take care of yourself...don't get married, pregnant, and die at 18)

Writing style
You have to remember that it is written for a younger audience and by a new author. I was a bit disappointed in the obviously allusions to classic literature...the middle two books are great books to learn about using classic stories (Romeo and Juliet and Wuthering Heights) in your own original manuscript. It didn't need to be explained over and over again. We get it.

Also know that the books are written in Bella's point of view...something I had to remember to be satisfied with Twilight's ending. She wasn't conscious during the big finale...so its absent from the story. I think this is actually a major flaw. Meyer sets up some great climaxes and then drops the ball (I wanted those 'battle' scenes). (I am happy to see the film is not).

They need a better editor...each book could have easily dropped 100 pages.

The Fourth Book
This is where it gets really weird. I really didn't like it at all. I was so dissatisfied with the ending. Although, I get tired of formulaic series (e.g. Robert Parker or James Patterson...even Harry Potter)...I wanted this last book to follow some of the previous books patterns....ongoing battle with Victoria, friction between werewolves and vampires, struggle to become immortal, choosing between Edward and Jacob. I wanted final resolution. I didn't like one bit what Bella did in the last book...at all.

Overall, I'm glad I know what everyone was talking about. I've heard that either you love it or hate it. I suppose I'm in between. And I am looking forward to the movie (I am hoping that the filmmakers fill in the flaws of Meyer's original work).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The S-word

There has been a lot of talk about how Obama is a socialist....I have a couple things to say about this.

First of all, he is not a socialist, really. Just ask the Socialist Party's Presidential Candidate (as seen on the Colbert Report.




Not that I think you should educate yourself solely on Comedy Central...this is about as much explanation I think Sarah Palin has had. Obama is a liberal, no doubt.


Secondly, what is so wrong with socialism? Do you even know what it is? Like so much in our culture, we talk about things we know nothing about. Socialism, overall, is a collectivist idea that attempts to strength the society as a whole through equal distribution. Collectivism is a great thing! Imagine...a society that takes care of each citizen regardless of race, religion, wealth, gender...a society that works towards a common good...a productive, healthy, and powerful society.

So why should rich people pay for services for poor people? Because its a nice thing to do and the best thing to keep a society successful as a whole.

But the US isn't like this...we were founded on individualism and competition. Mine, mine, mine!And look what has happened? The divide between rich and poor has grown to a destructive divide. Economically, our society is in a frightening place. Health-wise, we are in a sickening spiral. Educationally, we are barely keeping afloat.

When the Republicans laugh at the thought of socialist ideals and redistribution of resources, I am sickened. For me, they are saying...who cares about those who need help and support...and that 'who' is me and my family.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Breaking Free of the TV: High School Musical 3

For a company that didn't let Zac Efron sing in HSM1...they sure let him sing in the newest (and final?) installment of the High School Musical franchise...and sing...and sing again.

Delighting audiences of all ages, HSM3 opened this weekend on the big screen. Centering around the many major decisions of everyone's senior year of high school (where to go to college, who to take to prom, how to stay friends with people), the cast sings and dances their way to a happy ending...although I find it odd that the popular kids get to run every area of the school (athletics, academics, AND the arts).
Doing his best Kevin Bacon in Footloose impression, this is Efron's best movie to date...his acting, singing, and dancing skills have grown leaps and bounds since we first met him on the Disney Channel years ago. And he is, no doubt, the center of this movie. (and he is pretty hot in this movie) I am extremely interested in seeing him in something outside of this genre or at least outside of this role.
(note that Efron is cast in Bacon's role in the 2010 remake of Footloose directed by HSM director Ken Ortega).

Everything is on a much higher level than its made-for-tv prequels....the music, choreography, and overall production value. There are several very theatrical production numbers that are wonderful. The rooftop waltz was wonderful, Ryan and Sharpay's song is fabulous, and the prom scene is classic Broadway. The Grease-like finale falls a little flat, however.

I would have liked to see more of the rest of the cast...especially Ryan and Kelsey (I had hoped they would sing the duet..oh no...that's right, Zac has to sing every song)...and of course...more Sharpay. The new under-classmen characters are fine (and open it up for another sequel) but unnecessary. I did like the larger character of Miss Darbus, the drama teacher. I had anticipated more from Gabriella but she was really a minor character here (which was fine since Vanessa Hudgens' speaking voice is terribly annoying). This is all about Troy.

Overall, highly enjoyable 90 mins...the preteen agrees. You'll laugh, might cry, and will want to applaud (although I was the only one to do so). I recommend it for ages 5 and up. (Since I know I will be watching this DVD numerous times in my future, I do recommend it on the big screen if your kids have never seen a stage musical before since the production numbers are so good)
High School Musical 3: Senior Year, rated G, 112min, playing everywhere every hour

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Some new favorite things....

In our busy lives, I have found a couple new (and old) things that make me feel good.

*the Black and Bleu Salad from Quiznos
*Bolthouse Farms Perfectly Protein Mocha Cappuccino (cheaper and better for you than Starbucks! and often on sale at Meijer)
*The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and AC 360 (my best and most reliable news sources)
*Baking muffins again (yum...pumpkin)
*Soups and stews
*Tickling my kids (always a pick-me-up)
*Betty Crocker Warm Delights (something I picked up while on sale at Walgreen's...nothing like warm, fudgy cake in 30sec).

Monday, October 20, 2008

I just love the fall weather...

I admit, I've been a little stressed out and tired lately with working all the time and having our weekends slammed with activities but the weather has just been amazing. Just driving or walking down the street with the crisp air and colorful leaves puts me in a happy place.

I can't wait to head out to the Great Pumpkin patch this weekend...the drive is so pretty alone and then to see all the colorful squashes, corns, leaves....

The simple pleasures in life...

Friday, October 17, 2008

Fitness Friday! TEEN FIT!

Repeat of last Fitness Friday....

The Fitness Center in Champaign is starting its new Teen Fit Program on Monday!

The program is for teens aged 13-17 who are overweight, diabetic, or at risk for weight-related issues. The program is FREE and open to anyone in the community. To see if you or someone you know qualifies, please call the Fitness Center now! (217) 356-1616.

Here is a brief News Gazette article on the program.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What does this say about me?

I've been a little sick but I decided to get out of the house yesterday...I went to Samuel Music to get a book for my daughter and found myself lost in the sheet music. Then I went to Target to buy Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (the last in the Twilight series that you can't get from the library or from anyone you know because they have lent it out to someone else...so I actually bought a book).

So here I am at check out with Breaking Dawn...and teenage vampire love story and a package of dark chocolate peanut mm's.

It made me feel better.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quick life recap...

I apologize that my blogging has been lacking lately...not that I haven't wanted to...there is so much going on to discuss but our lives are so busy. I am really trying to limit my computer time to work and making myself go to bed and such.

Basically, I am exhausted and trying hard not to catch all the nasty bugs going around school and work. Its not going so well...anyone have a good deal on Airborne? The 3yo had a UTI and the 5yo a mild stomach virus (I think).

Our now 12yo! is done with cross country and is now emersing herself in the arts...jazz band, choir, and pep club (that's an art right?). We are trying to find another physical activity to keep up her awesome exercise routine. She can go running for another several weeks but... She is a lovely young lady and hasn't been too pre-teeny quite yet.

As her more mature life begins, we got her all new bedding (something I think we did when she went to kindergarden). Gotta love Kohl's and Target. Its super cute.

The hub has been busy dealing with trying to get ready for his paramedic license exam. During his clinical time at the hospital...he help deliver a baby! That's pretty cool!
Right now, the 3yo is giving Buzz Lightyear a haircut in a very stylish pink and silver hair salon. This is a recurring theme in the house...masculine vs feminine. The Barbie condo shares space with the Rescue Heroes command center (thanks again Missy!). For their birthdays, my MIL got us these great Toobeez. (that's not one of our kids in the photo)

We had a great celebration of our children last weekend...superhero theme, of course. Here is the cake (nothing is better than a twinkie than a frosted twinkie...with ice cream).

Friday, October 10, 2008

Fitness Friday! TEEN FIT!

TEEN FIT!!

The Fitness Center in Champaign is offering a FREE pilot program for teens 13-17yrs old who are overweight, diabetic, or at risk for diabetes starting Monday, Oct 20th! This program will help develop healthy exercise habits for life including finding the fun in fitness!

It is an 8-week program offering a 5-day per week exercise program including group classes as well as guided cardio- and weight- machine work.

Mondays and Wednesdays the teens will meet at 330-430pm for a group fitness class that will include a variety of cardio formats (e.g. hip hop, latin dance, kickboxing, cycling, cardio-drumming, circuit training, resistance ball, boot camp) and strength/conditioning.

Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays between 3-5pm, the teens are highly encouraged to come in and workout (at least 1 more cardio workout and 2 weight training days).

There will be experienced staff working closely with the group. They will be given a complete body analysis at the beginning and the end of the program. Great prizes for working out, learning more about health and fitness, learning about healthy eating and cooking, and more!

Call The Fitness Center now to see if you or your child is eligible to participate! (217)356-1616

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Why I Love Kids...

*They can spend 30mins debating the best way to spin in a circle.

*They can be content eating chips and cake for lunch and dinner without regret.

*Opening the box is more exciting than what is inside.

*They can dress up like superheroes and not care what people think.

*They give hugs without pretense...they also hit you for no reason.

*Sitting to listen to a story is the best part of their day.

*People encourage them to get messy.

*Watching America's Funniest Videos makes them forget about a bad day.

*Discovering what makes brown paint is an awesome experience.

*People almost always think you are cute.

Monday, September 29, 2008

$25 a week UPDATE II

Ok, well...we did pretty well. I didn't keep a strict tally on everything every person consumed but our shopping budget held very well. We did splurge for a birthday dinner on Monday and some sleepover junk food for a birthday party that definitely did not fit in the $25 Budget (and I understand that those who actually have to live on this amount would have to forfeit those luxuries).

Here are some ways our family saves on eating...
*We rarely eat out (and when we do...no alcohol, appetizers, or desserts (unless there are coupons, special deals, etc. involved)). We also like to hit places that have 'Kids eat free nights' and we share meals a lot.

I find that even when we feel pinched for time...I can make an easy meal in 10-20mins...so heading to a drive-thru does not save much time and definitely doesn't save money or our health.

*We do not buy a lot of processed or 'easy-to-prepare' foods (with the exception of Kraft mac and cheese and nutrigrain bars). I cook...every day.

*We eat a lot of eggs, oatmeal, and pancakes for breakfast. Cereal is really expensive...eggs, flour, and milk are not.

*We drink a lot of tap water.

*I buy items on sale (as opposed to when I need them). When ground sirloin is on sale...I stock up and freeze. Mac and cheese goes on sale at least once/month so does applesauce and nutrigrain bars.

*I buy a lot of canned and frozen fruits and vegetables (especially out of season stuff). It is packed at the peak of picking and freshness. And it doesn't go bad it you forget about it (we end of throwing a lot of fresh produce away because people forget about it).

*Take as few people to the store with you as possible. The more people, especially little and/or hungry people, the more likely you will impulse buy.

*I plan...and plan...and plan some more. I read the store ads before I head out, I plan several meals before I make my shopping list. I ALWAYS make a list. I take about 30-60mins per week planning meals and shopping lists. And I shop about every 10-14 days (with the exception of the mid-trip milk and banana run).

What are your food budget tips? Please share.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sucker!

All my kids used pacifiers. And all of them gave them up without too much stress. But after a couple months pacifier-free...our 3yo has started to suck his thumb and finger. It is clearly a coping mechanism...he does it when he's upset or going to sleep.

Should we discourage it? We can't hide his hand or throw it away? Our dentist was already worried about his front teeth with the pacifier.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

$25 a week UPDATE

So, I have determined that we could eat for $25 if we needed to but it would grow tiresome....always having to be vigilant on the budget. I have found myself wanting to just pick up lunch after work but stopped myself because I didn't want to blow my per diem on a sandwich that I could make at home.

The other interesting concern is budgeting the money. If I break down all the staples....spices, flour, coffee, rice, ketsup.....per serving they easily fit into the limited budget...but you would have to lay out the $6 for it when you buy it...so how does that effect the rest of the week's money. (I do take advantage of Meijer's 15%/5% off days EVERY time...and use those days to stock up).

Its a lot of planning (more so that I have had to make myself do since I can spend what I want at the grocery each visit).

Friday, September 19, 2008

Family Fitness Friday


As Fall officially begins next week...take some time to enjoy the amazing weather! Walking is a great way to exercise for all ages. Hiking in the woods or in the city can provide many opportunities for learning and family bonding. Talk about the many colors and why the environment is changing. Bring a bucket or canvas bag with you, so the little ones can collect special treasures.

Today, you can head to Meadowbrook Park in Urbana for a Jazz Walk.

In Illinois, you only have about 6 weeks left to enjoy many of our state parks before they are closed (please help us save them!!). Kickapoo is a great place to venture to...only about 30 mins from CU. Hiking and kayaking are just some of the things to do. Closer to home, Busey Woods is great.

Heading to your local orchard is also a great place to walk around. In CU, that's Curtis Orchard or Arthur's Great Pumpkin Patch.

There are also slews of fall festivals...walk around, enjoy some music (dancing is fabulous exercise) and food. See your local paper for event info.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

$25 a week

I read an interesting article in our local paper about eating for $25/week (per person). That is how much people living on food stamps are given..that is less than $4/day. My family would receive $643/month.

So, the Illinois Food Bank is challenging people to try to eat for $25 next week, Sept 22-28, The $25 Challenge. If you don't want to take the challenge, consider donating $25 to the bank or make a food donation. The challenge is not to just eat for $25, I think I could do that easily, but eat healthily...that is a challenge.

There is a symposium entitled "Running on Empty: Hungers Impact on our Community" Tues night at 730pm at the Champaign Public Library.

I love food-related challenges so I think I might try it for us (although Monday is a birthday here, so we have restaurant plans). I will try to blog about it here but you can read other participants here.

Please feel free to post your frugal eating ideas and recipes here!

For more information, click over to the Eastern Illinois Food Bank.

Information on:
Food Stamps (LINK program)
Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
WIC for the Farmer's Market

Monday, September 15, 2008

What am I missing?

Overall, I try not to talk too much about politics here but...I am completely fascinated with the current election. I am a devoted follower of Anderson Cooper on CNN (I really just like to listen to him say anything...so cute..tell me more about the powerful winds blowing in Texas).

But what I am missing is what people love about Sarah Palin. If you are one of her followers, please tell me. She obviously has made a major impact on this election.

I admit, I like her attitude...that she is a mom...she is very likable as a person (although I probably wouldn't be friends with her...I try to stay away from non-related stark conservatives). She has held public office.

But come on...the term 'flip flopper' is very accurate for both her and McCain. And she just doesn't come off as intelligent to me at all (how many people got fired over the Charlie Gibson interview?).

And really, her becoming president if McCain is elected is a reasonable assumption and overall, I would say that putting someone in office that is less than brilliant is frightening, but we've had that person in office for 8 years.

I'm just baffled here...help me out.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Crier

Let me tell you a secret...I am a crier. I thought it might be hormonal...being pregnant and nursing for so many years...but I think it is just who I am. So, yes, world...I cry...a lot.

I cry at TV commercials, TV shows (any show), movies, books, speeches, reading blogs, almost every time I head home after spending time with my mom, brothers, or best friends, every time after vacation, every wedding I see, every time I hear certain songs, as I write blogs about crying.

I accept this about myself...and I wear waterproof mascara.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monday Morning Quickies...

*My two little ones are very interested in smoking. "So what is smoking, Mom?" This has come from a couple weeks of pointing out no smoking signs. I realized they had no idea what smoking was. So we had a discussion about it...in my honest manner. Our 4yo is so concerned he had to tell his grandfathers 'no smoking, you will get sick and die!'

*I am still sad that Kickapoo Park might close....write those emails!

*We realized last night that we are really adults now...trying to watch MTV's Video Music Awards. Not only had we not seen any of the videos...we didn't even know most of the artists. The host was a British comedian Russell Brand...his best line was about Bristol Palin's baby daddy...It was the best birth control ever....you have unprotected teenage sex and they send you to the Republican National Convention...that guy's never having sex again.

*Curtis Orchard has lost its appeal for us. Through the years, it has gotten a bit commercial and expensive. And now...they took away the hay...my kids favorite part. My littles ones still liked to run around but we didn't particularly enjoy ourselves.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Things I didn't know...

Republicans are really delusional.

I thought this might be so but I know and love lots of really nice Republicans. What world do they live in that they think our survival of the fittest (richest) plan is working out?

Republicans tell jokes.

I had no idea.

Republicans can be very mean.

What was with all the harsh jabs at 'our opponent's' character?

Marriage is sacred...for some.

Allowing and encouraging knocked-up teenagers to get married but making it illegal for a committed and mature homosexual couples.

Running as the 'hot chick' is good for women.

First, Sarah Palin is hot? Barack can't help if he's incredibly good looking...but why run on it?

McCain has experienced many victories at war.

I forgot...was he in WWII? What other 'wars' have we won? Did we start this 'war' in Iraq so we could win it? And what is victory going to look like...cause Obama should get in on that so he can say he won something.

They actually may have made a good choice.

Palin can deliver a speech well. She hit that rural, think Obama Biden is a Muslim terrorist, white voter that unfortunately helped elect GBII. I don't think she hit it for women though...

Ignoring policy talk will win over the undecided voters.

Why not spend the time talking about your family, things we already know about McCain, and the DNC. (she did pretend that Republicans will do anything to help people with disabilities).

That if McCain is our next president, I want to move to Canada.

Note: The Daily Show with John Stewart was so great on Tuesday....perfect!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

School Days


So, its official...school is on!

Our 11yo just loves middle school. She finally got her locker combination down...memorized her lunch code...met all her teachers...made some new friends. Although there hasn't been a lot of talk about academics...she is doing well. She went to the mall the other day with her girlfriend...oh, help me!

Our 4yo LOVES school. He goes to 'morning' school with me...which he likes and really enjoys being an inside man. Then he goes to 'bus' school...which he just raves about. Hey, the bus pulls into the driveway. Right now the schools balance each other. He likes them both and looks forward to school everyday...and I mean EVERY day (it was a long 3-day weekend).

Our now-3yo loves his half-day of school too. I think he's still trying to be a big kid (he's the youngest in his class). But he is busy...although playdough is still the main activity of the day. He is exhausted come 4pm though...and we are enjoying having him to ourselves a little bit. He does ask to go to 'bus' school with big brother or walk over to our daughter's school...he really wants to do all the activities of the others.

I love teaching again. I am so busy but its all good for now. It makes me go to bed early (9pm on Sunday!).

My hub loves that he's not in school this year!

Monday, September 01, 2008

Birthday Season has begun!

The request from the newly 3yo:
I want a cake with...
rainbow
chocolate chips
chocolate frosting
monsters (that are not too scary)
firetruck
ambulance
a girl named Nee (???)
Care Bears

Here is the result.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Family Fitness Friday

I am very impressed with the number people and families I see each morning walking and biking to school or work together. Way to go!

Despite the heat this week, walking or biking your kids to school is a great idea! Not only is it environmentally-friendly, it gets in some exercise each day.

There are some issues when 'exercising' to work that prevent people from doing it...
Here are some tips to help you out...

*Bring an extra shirt, shoes, and a 'touch up' kit (baby wipes, soap/washcloth, deodorant) with you. Change when you get there.

*Ask your boss if there is a place in the building to store your bike or gym shoes. Then you don't have to worry about theft.

*Eat breakfast while you walk (a bag of shredded wheat is a great choice). (don't eat while you bike...dangerous).

*Invest or find used bike trailer or tandem-attachment for your bike to help pull the kids along.

*Take five mins to hydrate, stretch, and cool off before going into work.

*If walking or biking is too far, consider walking or biking to a bus or train stop. You don't have to use the one closest to your house but a bit away so you can get in a little workout.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sham WOW!

Ok, does anyone have this? Does it really work cause I totally want it!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Back to Work!

So this is the week that I officially am back to work. Yes, its only 20hrs/wk but it still a regular Monday through Friday gig. I don't think its really hit me yet that I have to go to work everyday...for 4 consective hours but so far I like it. (I know all you 40hr-weekers are laughing)

I knew that I missed working and until today when I was meeting all my new preschool families, I didn't realize how much I really missed working with kids and families other than my own. I'm very excited to take this journey with the families. Its been awhile so I hope the ride's not too bumpy.

We had a lot of firsts this week...
My 11yo's first cross country meet (she finished without crying).
Our 4yo rode the school bus home from schoool (super exciting, the driver pulled into our driveway!).
I headed back to work.
We got our 2yo to ourselves for the afternoon (I'm sure this has happened before but its been awhile).

Friday, August 22, 2008

MeMe

First, the background:

1. Post the rules of the game at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags five people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read the player's blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer.


What were you doing five years ago?

Finishing work while preparing for baby #2 and staying home.

What are five things on your to-do list for today?

1. Head to pool for last time
2. Enjoy a nice dinner with new colleagues
3. Go to bed early
4. Wash stinky workout clothes
5. Relax and rest

What are five snacks you enjoy?

1. Cheese and crackers
2. Popcorn
3. Fruit
4. Chips and salsa
5. Dried cherries with chocolate chips

What are five things you would do if you were a billionaire?

1. Pay off our school loan
2. Move to the big city into a green house
3. Pay for my kids' college education
4. Start a family wellness center with my family
5. Start foundation for families and kids

What are five of your bad habits?

1. Picking at my nails
2. Overplanning everything
3. Watching too much TV
4. Taking care of everyone but me
5. Going to bed before my hubby

What are five places where you have lived?

1. Elmhurst, IL
2. Champaign, IL

What are five jobs you've had?

1. Coffee shop barista
2. Assistant teacher at a daycare for kids with special needs
3. Parent Liaison for Student Parents
4. Fitness Instructor
5. Mom


Five people I tag:

1. Kate at Flying Weglarz's
2. Amy at Swanson Acres
3. Donita at Neat Shots
4. Midlife Mutations
5. Kinghead at La Tete du Roi

Fitness Friday!

Drums Alive is this fabulous new exercise class I am teaching! It combines basic 'aerobics' class steps, dancing, music, drumming, and FUN to make an awesome whole-body and brain workout! I took a class in April and about half-way through...I felt like I just had to teach this.

You can do this in your own house with an exercise ball (make a circle out of a blanket to hold the ball in place), upside-down garbage can, chair, even your bed. Grab some wooden spoons or chop sticks...turn on the music and drum it out. All ages! All ability levels (I took one class sitting down the whole time).

Its a great way to teach kids rhythm and to have fun while getting some exercise. It also helps maintain your neuropathways. Try it out.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Here I go again...Movie Review

Since I realized I hadn't spent any time alone and not working or shopping or driving children around...I slipped out and saw Mamma Mia!
I LOVE ABBA! And always have, so I, of course, saw the stage show of Mamma Mia! years ago. I liked it, and I liked the movie as well. It was perfect for my escapism needs.

Back up....several years ago someone decided to make a musical using ABBA songs. It was a big hit...ABBA fans got a reason to become dancing queens again and it brought ABBA to those people who hadn't taken a chance before. The story revolves around a young woman's wedding...she has a dream to find her father...so she invited three men from her mother's past to find which one is the right guy.

Of course the story is just a vehicle for the music but it really works. The songs fit very well. I would love to hear from someone who didn't know the songs before to see if they worked as well.

As for the movie, which follows the play tightly, I liked it...because for same reasons above and Meryl Streep. Gosh, that lady is awesome! And Kristine Baranski (musical vetern) and Julie Walters (aka Mrs. Wesley) make the perfect trio. I think Streep studied my mom for this role...the way these characters are portrayed is just how I would imagine my mom and her sisters would be singing and dancing around. And when did Remington Steele (Pierce Bronson) become a rocker? I question whether it was him singing. But it the singing overall was so organic...it seems so natural in the story and out of the actors. And the acting, especial the use of the ensemble (or chorus) was musical/farce spot on.

The visuals are beautiful...makes you want to go on vacation to Greece. And, of course, Ann Roth's costumes are great (especially the end scenes...ha, ha!).

This isn't a serious film...although a tear might fall down your cheek...but it is a classic musical. Its a Super Trooper!

I recommend it more as a rental and there are some more mature things you might hope the kids miss or you will have to explain later (so over 13+).

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Quickies....

*Congrats to Everyday Dad on their new addition! You all sound so cozy and cute.

*The Olympics are always entertaining...come on...Michael Phelps?! Awesome. Dara Torres?! Amazing. All the gymnastics chaos? Incredible. Bob Costos hair color? So wrong. But I would like them to end soon so I can get to sleep at a decent hour.

*The weather here is great, the only complaint is that is has been a bit cool to head to the pool. Now it is warming up...the pool is closed during the week. I guess we'll have to go on the weekend.

*We are having multiple daily showings of 'Catch me, catch me if you can' starring Rollerskate Man, Bad Cat, and Mr. Bad. (complete with costume changes, commentary, and special effects).

*I can't believe we actually filled the glass case at the library with cotton balls. Great reading everyone! They were supposed to count them this weekend. It looked like slow going for awhile. We always miss storytime during the school year.

*Warning, warning....students arriving starting tomorrow! Avoid North Prospect at all costs (which means a run to the store today for us).

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ya, I'm here.

I've been sooooo busy this week, that I kind of fell off the blog-sphere. So, let's catch up.

First, congrats to Mrs. Chicken on her new baby boy! And LBOTP for their upcoming baby in the winter! Best wishes to all of your families.

Secondly, thank you for the amazing weather we've been having! I do wish we could have hit the pool a couple more times....but we should get our chance the next 2 weeks.

I've spent the week working like mad at my new job at the preschool and learning new things for my fitness job. This all while making sure all the paperwork was complete for all our jobs and schools (and a nice dose of PMS). We decided to move our daughter to our neighborhood school...but that was a bit more work than we had thought. But.....its official....she is in jr high!!!! I'm sure that I blended in quite well with the middle school crowd so I have to get over there and meet all the teachers so when I visit they won't ask for a hall pass. She also decided to try cross country....lots of soreness and moaning but I think she'll stick it out.

We also have our 4yo in two preschool programs this fall. He is coming with me in the mornings and then to our local school district program in the pm. Our hope is that if the dr decides he needs any services, that he will get them (we finally have an appt with a developmental specialist for his sensory needs....after 6mons). It will also give him some time away from his little brother...who will be sharing the morning class with him. We'll see.

And our almost 3yo has decided to cash in his Terrible Twos card while its still valid.

Buying school supplies, dr appts, shoe shopping, grocery shopping, work, playdates, Olympics....the 'to-do' list is endless right now!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

For the love of family...

Let me tell you a little about my mom's family....

My grandparents were teenagers when they got pregnant and then married. Add 17 years....nine kids later...they made things work pretty well (after some serious trial and error, of course). From the eight still living children....spouses...grandchildren (their spouses)....great-grandchildren....60 years yields a family of about 75 (give or take any pending births...someone is always pregnant).

And we still see each other often. Smaller groups gather often (my family unit has dinner once a week..usually with an add-on from another family unit), a family website provides weekly communication, at least twice a year the whole group gathers for a wedding and holiday, and we still go on vacation together!

We are old and young, liberal and conservative, religious and not, straight and gay, married and single, rich and poor (ok, we're mostly white). And...we LIKE each other...we WANT to spend time together....we long for it and wish we could see each other more. Not many people today can say they can not only name their second cousins but know them.

My daughter developed a nice relationship with my 'baby' cousin (who is now 25 and getting married). They played cards together (although with another 15 people, my uncle donating the betting money for the little ones). How cool is that?

I love CU, I really do...but what I miss most is my family and all the gatherings and gossip. I do make it up to the hub of the suburbs often (we do have a group in CA and FL)...but I often feel its not enough.

I so often tell them...but thanks Gram and Grandpa for creating such an amazing family to be a part of.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Water World!

(One of the worst movies EVER made....)

Our vacation was spent mostly in water. You had many vessels to choose from (speed boat, fishing boat, paddle boat, pontoon boat, kayak, wave runner)...activities ranged from talking on the dock, swimming (of course), tubing, skiing, jumping on the Rave (a big floating trampoline), playing King of the Rave, jumping from a crudely constructed rope swing, shooting water at the 'dry boat', playing with the kids in the shallow water, floating and chatting in the deep water, sand play, fishing....
Last family reunion I was extremely pregnant so swimming was all I did...but this year, water skiing was definitely on the agenda. Everyone else made it look soooo easy, a 5yo did it! Our 11yo had lots of trouble (so did I)...but after some nice face-plants...I did get up but it didn't last long (but the soreness in my hamstrings did).

I also really enjoyed kayaking (shhh, don't tell my hub, he's been wanted a kayak for many years). It was really relaxing and felt easy. I also liked being able to talk with my SIL while we tried to paddle straight.

It was really nice spending the days in our bathing suits playing around. We really had a hard time saying to was really time to leave (one more boat ride? one more swim?).

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Farmers' Market

My 2yo stole a loaf of bread from the Amish today at the Farmers' Market....we brought it back and bought some cookies. (I was about to buy some Amish peanut butter thinking it was fresh natural pb....no, it had marshmallow fluff and corn syrup).

This was followed later by two trips to the bathroom and a temper tantrum...so we left with some peaches, soap, popcorn, and leeks. Oh well.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Family Talent Show

Yes, we love to do shows....ever since I can remember, our family has done shows at family gatherings (I used to carry a leotard and bandanna at all times). This was no exception.

Emceed by my Uncle Sean...we had several songs by the little ones (one in Italian, a couple self-composed songs about going to the bathroom, a teenage ballad of lost love ('our five months together'), an uncle-lead sing-a-long, ukulele accompanied duet)....a spy demonstration (and later spy school), superhero showcase complete with kitchen-towel capes, a hoedown by my chipped tooth uncle and costume-bringing uncle, and a dance number by a pregnant woman and her daughter.

The best part of the show were the introductions by my cousins' kids. "Please stay in your seats but if you have to use the bathroom, that's ok." "If you are sitting on the floor, you might want to move back because I will be moving around a lot." "I will be doing some spy moves that are dangerous. I'm warning you so you don't freak out."

It was a delight.

The next night we had a karaoke party and a special storytelling of the The Three Pigs and the Big Bad Walleye (complete with audience participation and actors).

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Hotel Hoopla

**I will be posting about our lovely vacation throughout the next few days.

After a long drive, we stayed at a hotel, The Waters of Minocqua. The boys had never stayed in one and we quickly realized the concept was quite foreign to them. Think, here is this place that is not your home or most likely a place you have never been before...and you have to sleep there, probably share a bed with someone...

We dropped our things in the room and went to explore. First, the taxidermy-laden lodge-like lobby...giant stone fireplace...huge gumball machine...Mom, a bear! More deer! That's a lot of fish!

Next, the kids love elevators! Down to the arcade. Again, I don't think they had seen anything like it before. The look on the 2yo was priceless...especially as we found him there caressing a game mouthing "Wow!"

On to the 'water park'! 1 indoor/outdoor pool, 1 indoor/outdoor hot tub, 1 baby pool, and 2 water slides (big kids only). (note: we did play in these the next day (although my hub and bro went to the hot tub after the kids went to bed...and then shared a bed together all night), the water slide was TERRIFYING! it was pitch black, you felt like you were just falling into nothing)

We ate dinner at the restaurant in the lobby(where's the kitchen, Mom?)...well my hub and I did, the boys were busy watching the water park and trying to play pool and darts. Fresh fried fish....what else do you want in Wisconsin?!

After lots of chanting (stars! stars! pool! pool! can we live here?), we finally turned off all the lights and hid in the bathroom and talked while the boys finally crashed out. Add a couple more kids and a dog...and we were snug as bugs in our hotel room (complete with fart jokes after the lights were finally turned off).

We completed our stay with a nice Continental breakfast of sugary treats (and bad coffee), a quick dip, and a child-lead tour of the hotel for Grandma.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Road trip!

Today we set out on an 8-hr road trip to the big family reunion!

-5hrs to departure: two sweet boys at my bed telling me they are ready to go!
Departure: lots of snack eating...sampling just about half of what we brought, hub begins ukulele playing
+45min: 1st bathroom request
+60min: hub finally stops playing ukulele
+90min: 1st 'Are we there yet?'
+2hr: stop for bathroom and lunch, 2yo spills bottle of water on car seat (sits on plastic bag rest of trip)
+3hr: all napping ceased when stuck in stop-n-go construction traffic, fight over new sticker books
+3.5hr: stop at rest stop for bathroom...try to play around but too hot, 2yo tells me crabby kids go on vacation too
+5hr: gas stop (no children are allowed to leave the car); more intense asking if we are there yet, parents commence sing along (and soon realize they are the only ones singing), 4yo makes pipe cleaner bracelets for everyone
+6.5hr: stop again for bathroom and boys play on rocks and eat MM's in parking lot (needed a refresher for the last leg)
+7hr: trying to avoid traffic, hub takes the 'scenic route' back to highway
+8.5hr: arrive at hotel...boys super excited
At hotel, walk around to look at EVERYTHING! The boys finally crashed after we turned off all the lights and stopped talking to them. I am happy for the quiet.

The kids were really good, we made it. I wish I could have taken a nap or read but I had to fill a request for something every 1-4mins. Tomorrow, we let them loose with the other 25 kids that are here!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

I just don't get it.

I don't understand tanning...I mean like going to a tanning salon and willingly exposing your skin to damaging UV rays. I am one of those white or red people (although for the first time in awhile I do have tanlines). I simply don't get it. Someone clue me in.

And I had to laugh when I saw a TV piece about solar-powered tanning beds....

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Squirrels!

I am a very forgiving animal lover...we have lots of animals that call our neighborhood home (although why the bunnies say despite the constant harassment from our 2yo, I don't know). This has ruined our dreams of a sunflower house in our backyard. I don't kill bugs in our house but prevent the annoying ones from calling our kitchen home.

But I have a problem with the squirrels who are now stealing my tomatoes off the plant and then perch on top of the swingset to show off their skills....laughing at us inside.

I really wanted tomato on my sandwich today.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Long Green Line

When I was in high school, there was one thing that you could count on....a winning cross country team. Every year, we all travel down to Peoria (and eat at Hardee's...which was pretty cool at the time) and cheer on our boys (and girls) on the Long Green Line. 25 state titles...50 yrs of coaching...Couch Newton is a legend (and never learned my first name...always little Wegs).

Some of my classmates have made a documentary appropriately titled The Long Green Line and it is playing at the York Theater in Elmhurst, IL Aug 16-17th! Check it out!

See here for more details and showing dates.

Go Dukes!!

(note: I was going to wait to post this but the Saturday show is almost sold out already!)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Its all wrong...

Ok, I just finished reading The Secret Life of Bees (after my MIL gave me the CD of it years ago). I really liked it...its a great coming-of-age novel. I know they are making a movie of it so I looked up who the cast was...although I was careful not to look this up until after I was done, not to ruin the images in my mind (but I did remember reading who the lead was).

I won't ruin it for anyone else (you can look it up here) but the cast is all wrong. If you have read the book, the great Calendar Sisters, I assumed were older (like 40's-50's, at least). I mean the one woman was a nanny in 1931 and the book is set in the 60's. Well, the cast is very young...far younger than I imagined. The film makers are just wrong.

Although I LOVE to see movies, tv shows, plays based on books I have read, I often read a book if I know a movie is coming out...it sometimes just messes it all up. I can't read a Jesse Stone novel now without seeing Tom Selleck...and Harry Potter (although I think their casting department is fantastic). And of course actors should be able to play any role well....I just can't see some people differently (Nicole Kidman a villan? Robert DeNiro a sweetheart? We watched Juno last night and thought Michael Cera has play a drug addict or something soon or he's doomed).

I also feel a bit betrayed when I see radio personalities...they are never how I imagined.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Fitness Friday!

I've noticed that people aren't coming into the gym as much this month...summer has been busy for everyone. Here some things you can do to burn some calories while still hanging out with your family and friends at reunions, weddings, or just chillin' (and remember what you can do in the car on those long drives (bring some weights or a resistance band in the car)).

*Have a dance party or go to a bar with a dance floor and better yet, a live band! (go to outdoor concerts!)
*Go on long walks together...you can catch up or gossip along the way.
*Swim across the lake...or to a raft together.
*Take the row or paddle boat!
*Chase the little kids around! Tickle Monster or Hide-n-Seek!
*Have a leg wrestling competition (a favorite at our family reunion)!
*Karaoke party! Everyone will be dancing!
*Play charades...yes, it will get you moving!
*Contests....most push-ups, crunches, relay races, arm wrestling, Simon says, hula hoop....
*Hit the beach...walking, swimming, Frisbee, sandcastles
*Go to a neighborhood festival...lots of walking from booth to booth

Also, try to drink lots of water and limit the alcohol! Save the calories for that chocolate fountain.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Movie Reviews


Wall-E, rated G

Last week in the heat, I decided to take the kids to see Wall-E. Although I missed some with the multiple bathroom trips, request for food and drink, and monkey business...I like this one. All of Pixar's movies are both amazing technically and sweet in story.

Basically, consumerism ruins Earth and all living things must be evacuated from the planet. Staying behind is a garbage robot, Wall-E. He collects relics from the trash including a VHS of Hello Dolly which he plays on an iPod (he learns the choreography and everything, ha, ha!). Eventually, another robot is placed on Earth to collect data and look for signs of life...which she does in a small plant growing in a boot...and she finds love and friendship in Wall-E. Yada, yada...more super sweet scenes....they end up on the vessel that holds all the humans who now are completely assisted by robots. So you get to see what happens to humans in this situation and what happens when they find out that life can once again survive on Earth.

Although it has great action and comedy, the story brings up a lot of questions and discussion points for all ages.
I recommend it for everyone and encourage your family to talk about it a lot as well.


I snuck out yesterday and saw this one...its long, this was the first chance I had 3hrs+. I love superhero movies, especially Batman. I recently watched the original of this series...but it wasn't necessary, they cover the basics for newbies. It is great movie...you could even call it a film.

The plot is somewhat complicated (but not nearly as hard to follow as the first) but basically villains emerge in Gothem, Batman takes care of it while trying to resolve his own personal issues and relationships. I won't give away who all the villains are but we all know that the Joker makes his first appearance in the series. If you know Batman well enough, you can predict some of the story. Basically...great performances (although my throat hurt listening to Bale's Batman voice), beautiful imagery (Chicago baby!), and great action sequences. All the talk is about Heath Ledger...and he is great. A really interesting interpretation of the classic character...you have to wait it out though (I did want more backstory on this one). I love Michael Caine as well. My only criticism is the third act (which is great) made the movie feel a bit long, especially after my soda in-take. But I liked the last third so much that I wish they cut some from the beginning.

I recommend it to kids over 10yo at least and on the big screen.

If you didn't catch the free viewings of this, you can download it on iTunes or wait for the DVD....but in any case...if you love musicals and/or superheroes....this is awesome. This low-budget, 45min internet film is brilliant. Based on simple superhero/villain principles and Broadway-quality music, we follow Billy as he tries to get his alter-ego Dr. Horrible in the Evil League of Evil while also finding the love of his life. The lyrics are hilarious, the acting and singing wonderful...watch it over and over again to get all the jokes. A must-see!

Although there are a couple inappropriate things (the last line in Act II, and some of Capt. Hammer's talk of sex (which was over my little ones heads but not the 11yo))....everyone in my family loved it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Weekend fun

Despite the heat...this was the first couple days of the summer that I wouldn't let the kids outside for more than a couple minutes...except when we went to the pool....we had a lovely weekend.

We finished most of the big sorting in the house and I am enjoying the open space. I especially like my bedroom...I removed all toys and children's books (although the rocking horse seems to like it in there). The clean floor, cleared dresser and desk, made beds. I also cleaned the car! Does anyone know how to easily and cheaply clean the carpets in the car?

My brother and SIL visited. Lots of good food (mango cream pie!) and fun. A trip to Sholem...its so great going with so many adults. I almost didn't want to leave. Both the boys put their heads under the water! We even held our own mini-Olympics---sorry for taking over a swim lane.

My daughter started her tech week for Seussical so she has had some late nights but she got to have some fun as well.

It was fun and I am now really tired. I went into preschool today to help sort toys so we can order what we want but I have until tomorrow night off from exercise work!

Oh and I watched Dr. Horrible several times....LOVE IT! I'm waiting to purchase the DVD instead of buying it on iTunes. Sequels, please!!!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

NPH Update

Many of you brought to my attention, Dr. Horrible, an internet musical with NPH and created by Jess and Jed Wheton (Buffy the Vampire, TV series, creators...another favorite of mine). It has been free online but this will end Sunday, July 20th (you will have to pay for a download after that).

Check it out.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Funny!

Someone I know....heard that putting clear nail polish on bug bites will help them from itching....we don't have any clear polish so someone is very colorful right now (but not itching).

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

My love of NPR

In addition to Neil Patrick Harris....I love National Public Radio (NPR)....most often listened to on WILL. I love it all but I especially like This American Life, Says You, Media Matters, and Car Talk.

I don't really care much for cars...but those Click & Clack Brothers are hilarious. And they now have a caroon show...yes, that's right. Click & Clack's As the Wrench Turns. I caught it tonight...but I only lasted a couple minutes. Originally when I heard they would be on TV, I thought it would a filmed-version of their radio show...but no...this is a sit-com style cartoon show...on PBS. Sorry, guys...maybe the kids might like it but I don't.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

My NPH Obsession

Ha, Ha. I love Doogie!

Monday, July 14, 2008

More quick thoughts...

*I am soooo glad that the Bragelina babies were finally born...can we stop talking about them?

*Did anyone watch Miss Universe last night? We were flipping around while watching Next Food Network Star (actually waiting for one of us to put Dan in Real Life in the DVD player). Well, wow...those dresses and then Miss USA falls on her butt! It was great. They should have a Real pageant...meaning no fake nails, teeth, hair, tans, boobs..... Why do we still have these?

*The weather was amazing yesterday!!! Yardwork, done!

Monday Morning Quickies...

*Went to hub's company picnic...by the time we got there food and drink was scarce and there was a storm approaching. Quick kids eat your chips, cookies, and cotton candy...jump in bouncy house....head to the pool...please don't puke (no one did...we got to spend about an hour at the pool before the storm actually came).

*I actually went to the picnic after having a mini-meltdown about how they pay him and the health benefits suck (he works in the health industry). All is mended now...well, I realized the errors made in my ER bill and will have them fixed on Monday...he still should get paid more.

*We saw a juggler, The Truly Remarkable Loon, at the library this week. He was really funny and the kids loved the show. He talked a bit too much for my 2yo but the 4yo is now throwing everything in the air. I highly recommend checking him out (he shows a lot in WI and IL).

*My little ones have reached their summer reading goal!

*Just realized we never got our tuition deposit from our former preschool, despite documents given to us, we have to put in a special request to get it back. Lovely.

*Watched Xanadu last night on my brother's recommendation...well, I can see how it is fun as a Broadway show but Gene Kelly, why? Why exactly is ONJ rollerskating? Interesting fact, the movie is choreographed by Kenny Ortega (if you don't know who that is, you obviously don't have kids in the house). Check it out on hulu.
Also watched Batman Begins to freshen up for The Dark Knight. I love Batman...I think the original TV series films are my favorites.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fitness Friday!

First of all...its nice and hot outside now so please drink extra water and try to workout outside in the morning or head inside.

Secondly, let's talk fashion.

1. Have you seen the kids' workout clothes at target? Although cute, silly.

2. You really don't have to buy specific workout clothes, however, you should try to wear either cotton or wicking fabrics. Wear clothes that are comfortable and the right size (too big or too small and you might chafe).

3. Ladies...invest in a couple good sport bras. If you are nursing or have a larger chest, double up.

4. Don't spend a fortune! You will get tired of your workout clothes, trends change, and you will eventually be unable to get the smell out (although a little vinegar and the hot cycle help). I like Target, Gordman's, and Kohl's. We have a Nike outlet not far from here as well. Costco sells nice cotton tanks as well.

5. Invest in good shoes. Your shoes can make or break a workout. You will feel bad or rundown shoes in your whole body. Get a good pair on sale (New Balance in Urbana is having their annual clearance this month!) and only wear them to work out. Replace them at least once a year or depending on your routine (you should be able to feel it...new back or hip ache).

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Call for ideas

We are going on a very long car trip next month...8hrs at least each way.

Please give me your best car survival tips. (we are not bringing a DVD player with us)

Thanks!