Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Where's the Outrage?

I'm just a little confused over here.

Call me naive about the political process. Remind me that I don't read the paper as much as I used to, and remind me that it's been about, oh, 25 (ahem) years since I took a Civics class.

Go ahead.

But I'm just a little confused.

Where is the outrage? Am I the only one in the universe who's peeved that Hillary can sweep Florida and the pundits act like nothing has happened? That they can actually say afterwards that it, excuse me, didn't count?

That she can literally earn nearly 50% of the democratic primary vote and it doesn't matter?

We've got people saying things like this---

"...some Obama supporters denounced Mrs. Clinton’s act [arriving in Florida after the polls had closed to thank voters for their support] as cynical and urged voters and journalists to dismiss Florida as a meaningless beauty contest" (NY Times online Jan 30, 2008).

A meaningless beauty contest?!?!

“The bottom line is that Florida does not offer any delegates,” said Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic nominee for president. “It is not a legitimate race” (NY Times online Jan 30, 2008).

Fellow democrats are doing this to her? Fellow democrats are doing this to the voters of the state of Florida?

Oh sure. I get it. Florida, and Michigan incidentally, decided to hold their primaries a bit too early for the likes of the Democratic Party. So the thoughtful, ethical, democratic-process-minded folks over there said, "Fine. I won't play with you for the rest of my life."

Oops. I think I'm confusing them with my 7 year old.

What they really said was "Fine. Hold your primary early. We'll just make it so your delegates don't get a say in who gets to be placed on the general election ballots. We just won't let your delegates vote for a democratic nominee. We'll just make it so that the votes of the people of the entire State of Florida do not matter."

Once again, the people of the state of Florida have spoken. And there ain't nobody listenin'.

Where the hell is the outrage?

p.s. I'm also posting over at Life On 20 Weight Watchers Points A Day. Check it out!

Monday, January 28, 2008

And The Winner Is....

Lisa! from Life With Our Little Ladies.

Lisa will be the lucky recipient of my very first giveaway prize----an American Girl book titled, Meet Kirsten, a wonderful introduction to the American Girl historical characters.

Congratulations, Lisa! Send me an email with your address and I'll mail it off to you!

Thanks to everyone who participated in my first giveaway!

Friday, January 25, 2008

The Sleep-Over

I have figured out something kid-related that I am truly good at....

The Sleep-Over.

I'm not talking about slumber parties---the events with 6-10 girls and a high expectation that the night will be awesome. Although I might be good at those, I haven't tried them yet.

No. I'm just talking about your average sleep-over. The one where, like tonight, your girlfriend and her hubby wanted a night out and you volunteered to take her kids overnight. Her kids and your kids are friends. It's a win/win.

I know so many people who stress about this type of "playdate." They cannot get the kids to bed, their houses are trashed, they end up losing their tempers or the kids have major meltdowns and everyone is exhausted in the end. Well, that's just not the case over here.

I rock the sleep-over.

Yep, that's right. I'm even blogging about it while its happening.

Here's what you do.

(1) Pick a Friday night. They're already tired from school and possibly even extra-curricular activities. Like today, mine had ballet and hers had gymnastics. You can't beat a Friday night. If you can't do a Friday, then take them to the park as soon as you get them on a Saturday. Let them burn some serious energy.

(2) Feed them. Feed them immediately so that there's no low blood sugar related stress events. Feed them something totally easy for you, yummy for them, and still relatively healthy with little to no sugar. For example, tonight I fed my crew of four frozen pizza, edamame, frozen mixed veggies, and sliced pear. No fuss. No muss.

(3) Drink a glass of wine. No more, no less. More would make you tired, or worse give you a bit of a buzz which just isn't any good with a group of kids. One is perfect. Just enough to take the edge off.

(4) Bathe them. They love it and it keeps them contained for at least an hour. If you have four, like I have tonight, put two in each of two tubs. It works wonders.

(5) Watch a movie. I know this is standard-issue sleep-over fare, but usually it's done incorrectly. You can't wait until everyone is melting down and over-tired to turn on the movie. Instead, you get everyone nice and snugly feeling after their bath, and you do it close to their normal bedtime. Have them put on some pjs and snuggle up for a movie. Pop some popcorn or eat another relatively healthy snack, and enjoy. Drink water or milk only, please. Oh, and don't expect the movie to put them to sleep. It won't. Read on.

(6) Snuggle them into bed. Don't follow the standard advice on splitting them up if they talk or goof off. Absolutely not. Instead, line all four sleeping bags up in a row, and let them each pick a book. Read said books in order of youngest to oldest (no one can argue with that) and then turn out the lights. Sit with them in the dark until they are asleep. It should take no longer than 15 minutes, what with all the excitement of the day and all. Once they are asleep, then you leave the room, not before. I'm telling you, this method works.

(7) Most importantly, don't try to accomplish anything. Don't even read the paper, and certainly do not try to blog about it while it's happening (but I'm so hot I can do that, heh heh). This is not a night for getting the laundry done, reading a good book, or doing your online banking. This is a night to take care of the kiddos and keep things running smoothly.

(8) Oh and finally, do not sit down. Not until they are all completely asleep. It will just make you tired. I'm very good at this part. Besides, you need to clean as you go. That's right. It's part of the not-sitting-down-thing. Clean as you go.

Give it a try. I guarantee the results.

Oh yeah, that's right. I rock the sleep-over.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My First Giveaway

With all of the awesome stuff being given away in the blogosphere, this is almost embarrassing. But since it's my first one, please go easy on me! (i.e. send lots of comments and well-wishes!)

As some of you know, my girls are just entering into the American Girl obsession phase. Fortunately, they love, love, love the books, not just the dolls. I bought Meet Kirsten for O before Christmas and meant to give it to her as a gift. We were bombarded with gifts on Christmas Day in Chicago, so I held it back intending to give it to her at a later date when she might better appreciate it. The day after Christmas we headed to the American Girl store where O picked out the doll, Kirsten, who comes with the book Meet Kirsten.

Of course, I have no idea where the receipt is and why would I want to bother returning a book that's only $6.95 in the first place? Oh, and wouldn't it be so much more fun to go to the post office and mail it to some lucky blogger?!?!

C'mon. It's time to introduce your child to Kirsten Larsen, the sweet girl from Sweden who immigrates to America and lives in Minnesota. You know you want it. C'mon!

I'll put the names of those who comment in a hat and give the book away to the lucky blogger who's name I pull from the hat!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


So my girls and I occasionally watch HGTV. You know, the Home and Garden channel. But the thing is, I'm still pretty restrictive with them with TV and so whenever a commercial comes on that I don't want them to see, like the dang diet commericals, I mute it. I think I'm so clever. I think I've shielded my girls from our diet-obsessed culture, that they don't know what they're missing when I hit the mute button.


Apparently, I don't catch everything. Sometimes, for example, I'm up from the couch checking my blog comments and haven't made it back to the TV to catch the inappropriate commercials.

Like today. We're watching Amazing Waterfront Properties and that dang Nutrisystem commercial comes on like every other minute. I mute and then I mute again. But then I slack off a bit. Get comfortable. I get up and come to the computer and J comes running over to me--keep in mind that she's five--she says urgently, "Mom! That losing weight commercial is on again!!" Like, "Quick! Get up and mute it!" Not that the muting works. Obviously. She's gotten the message anyway. Lose weight. Lose weight quickly. It's the Most Important Thing in the Universe.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Defensive Driving Course

Okay, so did I tell you that I had an accident? I did. I backed right into a guy and smashed the crap out of his very old Ford Escort.

It was pretty comical really, in an awful sort of way. Here's the story. I tried calling my friend, let's just call her J. I tried calling her like five times, and let's just say she likes to screen me. Supposedly, another friend of hers was in crisis and she was on the phone with her and she planned to call me back asap. Really, she promised. (Just kidding, J.)

Anyhooooo.....finally I saw her. She was leaving our children's school just as I was arriving. I rolled down my window to wave at her and since she was on the phone (still!) she didn't see me until she was just about past my car. She stopped, but not until she was just slightly past me. I very absentmindedly decided to stop, throw it into reverse, and back up to bring my car even with hers.

Ooops. There was this little car behind me that I didn't even see. Honestly, when I heard the crunch I thought I had hit a trash can on the side of the road or something. It never even occurred to me that someone was behind me! I mean, the gall, someone having the audacity to be behind me when I needed to back up to talk to a friend! Sheesh.

Well, his car was definitely totalled. I mean the thing probably was worth about $600 and the damage was far more than that. My bumper fell off, but that's about it. I felt horrible for the guy though. He seemed young and he didn't seem to have a lot of money. I'm sure it was a definite hardship for him to be late for work and car-less.

I was nervous and quite shaken. It was my first accident as a real adult. The only other crash I had ever been in was when I was 18--driving my parents' car and still on my parents' insurance. They took care of all the details, of course, including making me commute from college every Saturday morning for over a year to clean their house to pay them back for the damages. They literally fired the cleaning lady so I could take over her job.

In any case, this time, I was supposed to know what to do but I didn't, so I just did exactly what it told me to do on the back of the insurance card. It took forever for the police officer to come and when he finally did, he wrote me the ticket. Duh. Guess you can't get more guilty than I was. The poor guy was just driving along and was probably going only about 20 miles an hour, when I just backed right up and smashed his car to smithereens.

So later, I'm reading over my options and I realize that one of the options I have is to attend Defensive Driving School and get the ticket removed from my record. That sounded like a sweet deal to me, so yesterday, that's just what I did.

I hired a sitter to watch the kids while I was gone. Then I woke up at the crack of dawn, and sat in a room with 60 other traffic law violators.

It was actually kind of fun. And interesting. The guy who taught it was totally Bill Cosby. He was pretty darn funny. Plus, the other violators were an interesting mix of citizens. There was a 65+ year old grandmother sitting behind me knitting. She even brought her own cocoa in a thermos and her own mug. When she was done drinking it, she put it all--spoon, dirty cup and all--into a ziploc. Then there was the 50+ something New Yorker lady who complained about how if she were back in NY, she'd have been walking to work and would have never gotten a ticket. There was the assortment of young punks, dressed in baggy clothes and ridiculous looking sneakers. A couple of professionals, a couple of students, young, old, middle class and poor. Just for the people-watching it was worth the $128. Plus, I learned everything there is to know about DUIs and seat belt laws, road rage and the main cause of accidents, which by the way, is not cell phone use, but rather eating while driving.

And best of all? I got my National Safety Council certificate in Defense Driving. Whoo hoo!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

My Chicago Blogger Friend

Jenny From Chicago, over at Chased By Children, is having a contest. She's asking people to name her giveaway series which will begin in February and last for 5 days. She's judging the entries on how clever you are and how well you know her blog.

My suggestion: Giveaways From Your Favorite Stepford Geisha Who Defends the Martini

She'll send the winner a $100 Target gift card. Get on over there and make a suggestion! Thanks.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I Have Nothing Good To Say

I have nothing good to write about. I really don't. I can't think of a thing. Nothing. No.thing.

Sure, I've come up with some ideas. I thought perhaps I would post a letter that I had written to a friend. It was one of those thoughtful letters. It was even fairly well written. And then I decided not to post it for various reasons. But that was the best idea I've come up with in days. Days, people.

Then I thought I could write about how my kids and their friends were driving me crazy jumping on those plastic bubbles you get in packages. It was driving me so insane that I almost died, or killed them, or both, but instead I left the room with some tea and the latest Real Simple magazine. But I knew that post wouldn't garner me any Pulitzers or anything.

Then I thought perhaps I would write about how so many of the things in my home are falling apart or dying. Things that I should be taking care of---like the cutting boards and the houseplants. But I knew that would bore my readers to tears.

And then I thought I would bounce off of Jen M's comments about how women are so self-deprecating that it's nauseating. And I would rant about how some women don't like Hillary because of this very thing---that she's not self-deprecating enough. She's too confident. Like a man. She doesn't stand up at a podium, like a woman, and say, "Really, you should just vote for Obama. Basically, we have the same positions on the issues anyway. So, pick him. Not me. I wouldn't be that good at it anyway." But then I felt like I wasn't being articulate enough. Or pissed off enough. I write best when I'm pissed.

So, that's it. There's just nothing to write about. I can't think of a damned thing. Is that sad or what?

Thursday, January 10, 2008


"Mom!!!" yelled O. "Come look at these!"

I come running, sensing some urgency to her voice, and find that she has lined up several pairs of her new underwear that I just bought for her.

"What's up, honey?" I ask.

"Mom! I really think you could fit into these underwear!" she exclaimed.

"Are you saying you think they are too big for you?" I ask.

"Yes, mom! Don't you think they are humongous?" She asks, with quite a bit of emphasis on the word humongous.

"Well, they do seem big," I replied, noting to myself that these undies were a child's size 6.

"Oh my gosh! They are so humongous! They would definitely fit you! You should try them on Mom. They are humongous!" she cried.


I guess to a child's eyes, I am humongous. Lovely.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Should I Be Scared?

The strangest thing happened to me today.

Everything started out normally. After school, I took two of my kids' classmates home with us for play dates. They destroyed the house, of course, and argued over who could do what, and pitted the "big kids" against the "little kids" from time to time, but all in all everyone had a good time.

Then the mothers came to retrieve the playmates and I sighed a sigh of relief. It was time to clean up the mess. I gave my girls 10 minutes more to play, set the timer, and sat down to review a few blogs until it was time to tackle the mess.

Then there was a knock at the door.

I looked out the window and saw two men. I don't know about you but I grew up in Chicago and I don't just go answering the door for any old two men, that's for sure. They flashed badges and I slowly opened the door, knowing that my crazy dog would be growling at them the whole time.

They introduced themselves. "Hi," said the undercover cop-ish looking one. "I'm special agent [whatever] with the Drug Enforcement Agency and this is my partner [blah blah]." The partner looked like a drug dealer. He had long-ish hair and a hat. Plus a beard and an earring. And some sort of raggy looking coat.

Holy crap.

"Can we come in?" he asked.

"Uh, can I see your badges again, please?" I stammered.

"Sure," he said. He showed me his badge. It looked official, though I'm not really sure what I was expecting to see.

I let them in. But only because my dog, who I was holding by the collar, was still growling at them. They stepped inside and my curious girls, now dressed in pjs for no apparent reason, came downstairs to see who was at the door.

"Can we talk somewhere without the children?" he asked.

My heart was beating about 950 miles a minute. Was I about to be raped or worse?

"Girls, go upstairs," I said. For once in their lives, they listened, and headed up.

I still held the dog by his collar. He wanted to be released badly, but not to attack. He wanted to sniff and wag his tail. He's a Lab for crying out loud, but they didn't have to know that.

Then the man said, the one who looked like an undercover cop, not the one that looked liked a drug-dealer, he said, "Ma'am, we just arrested a man with 210 pounds of marijuana in his car. He had your address on a piece of paper in his car. The address had specific directions on how to get to your home. Do you have any idea why he would have had that?"

"Uh. No." Wait. What the hell did he just say?

"His name was [such and such]. Do you know him?" he asked.

"Uh. No."

"How about [so and so]? Do you know him?" he asked again, calmly.

"Uh. No." By now I'm completely freaking out. What the hell is this man talking about?

"Have you ever lived in California?"


"Have you ever lived in Washington or Oregon?"


"Where did you live before here?" he asked.

"Well, we lived across the street in that little green house. We rented it while we were building this house," I answered, stammering the whole time.

"And before that?" he asked.

"Uh, well, Tucson," I said.

"So you've lived in Arizona your whole life?" he asked.

"No. I'm from Chicago. My husband and I are both from Chicago originally. We moved here for me to attend graduate school, then we moved to Kansas City for him to go to medical school, then to Tucson for his residency, and then back here," I managed to say.

"So your husband's a doctor then?" he asked.


"And what do you do?"

"I stay home with my children full time," I said. Oh, and I deal drugs on the side. Ha ha.

"Can you think of any reason why this guy would have your address written down in his car?"

"Uh no. Well...." Then I started to think of anything fishy that's ever happened in my life. I recalled the time that my credit card number was stolen and how the criminals had a bunch of stuff shipped to them using my account, including cases of wine and wiring themselves money.

"That stuff is all cleared up now though," I explained.

Then I told him about the time, about last year, I remember it was winter because I was shoveling snow at the time, that a detective came up to me and asked if I knew the people in the green house across the street. The same house I rented while my house was being built. That detective had told me that the lady of the house was wanted on fraud charges and was currently evading the law, and that if I ever saw her white Bronco, er, white Explorer, I was to call the sheriff's office. A couple of days later, I did see her Explorer and called.

And then there was the time when we lived in Tucson and I kept getting calls for someone named [blank]. The calls sounded like bill collectors. They kept insinuating that I knew the person and that I was hiding his whereabouts. I didn't know him. Eventually they stopped calling.

"That's all I can think of," I said.

Then they presented me with their cards and said that I was to call them if I could think of anything. They also told me that they had no indication that there was anything I should be afraid of. That the man in question denied any ties to our town and claimed he had no intention of ever coming to our house.

"Specifically, if you see any suspicious looking vehicles outside, please call."

I immediately called my husband.

"Hi, the weirdest thing just happened and I'm kinda freaking out," I said when he answered. Then I explained the whole thing. "Do you have any patients who might be angry with you or anything?"

"Well, yes, actually, but I don't think that's it," he said. We talked about the situation in exhausting detail and then he thought of something. "You know all the landscapers we've had around here recently? and the Labor Express guys that we have coming to the house to do various things?"

Ah yes, the labor guys. We don't even know their names. That could explain why someone we don't know might have our address and directions to our home in their car.

So I called the Special Agent.

"Great," he said. "Can I come over and show you some pictures?"

Now I was starting to feel a bit like a witness on Law and Order. "Sure," I said. "Come after my husband is home. He'll recognize the men better than I would."

So they came again. The undercover cop and the silent drug dealer-ish looking guy. They showed us some pictures and asked a few more questions. We didn't recognize anyone. Is that fortunate or unfortunate? We couldn't decide.

Then they reiterated what they had said before. You're not in any danger that we know of, we're just trying to find this guy's connection to [our town]. Please be in touch if you notice anything suspicious.

Then they left.

"Hello? Brinks? Yes, I'd like a security system installed."

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Airplane Debacle

On December 24, 2007, D, the kids, and I headed to the airport. Our airport is 2.5 hours away along mountainous roads so it's important to be strict with the schedule and planning. We had very little time to prepare what with the craziness of D's work, the kids just finishing school, and me with final exams, Christmas shopping, and the like.

But amazingly, we were prepared. Organized even.

We arrived to the airport on time. We dropped off eight bags with the skycap. That's right. Eight. Then drove to the extended parking area. The girls each had a backpack filled with activities and snacks and D and I each had a carry-on suitcase filled with Christmas gifts, wrap, tags, and ribbon. The last thing we wanted was for our luggage to get lost and be without presents on Christmas morning.

We took the shuttle to the airport from the parking area. Still on time.

We stopped to pick up a new book for me, a couple of magazines for D, and some treats for the kids. Still on time.

Then we noticed a lady selling sandwiches and thought it a good idea to take a nutritious bit of food onto the plane so we stopped to buy one to share. Turkey and Swiss. We were still on time, and in amazingly good spirits.

We headed to the gate. We got in line, handed our tickets to the agent, and boarded the plane.

The plane was surprisingly empty. Our seats, in row 25, were in the back, but not as far back as the agent had said they would be. We were slightly surprised, since he said we'd be the second to the last row and these seats were about ten up from the back, but we didn't think much of it. We loaded our gear into the overhead bins and settled in for a 3 hour flight.

Then we looked around the plane and noticed that many of the seats were empty. We had anticipated that it'd be full based on something the agent had said, and then D said jokingly, "Maybe we're on the wrong flight."

Ha ha, right?

Then the guy across the aisle said, "Ya goin' to Charlotte?"

"No. Ha ha, we're going to Chicago," we said.

"Well, this plane's going to Charlotte," he said.

"You mean you're connecting through Chicago on your way to Charlotte, right?" I asked calmly.

"No. We're flying directly to Charlotte," he said rather nervously for us.

So I asked another passenger, "Where are you going?"

"Charlotte," she said.

I asked another passenger, getting more and more nervous, "Where are you going?"

"Charlotte," he said.

Then panicking, I asked the flight attendant, "Where's this plane going?"

"Charlotte," she said.

Oh no!!

I handed her our boarding passes. She took way too long to look at them and said, "You boarded the wrong plane."

What?!?! How'd they let us board the wrong plane?

Quickly, we grabbed our gear and kids and ran off the plane. We showed our passes to the gate attendant, the one who had let us board the wrong plane. He took an excruciatingly long time to look at them, and you could tell he was very nervous. In retrospect, we knew he was realizing that his job was on the line. He then pointed to the gate right next to us and said, "You should be boarding over there."

We stepped over to the next gate. The two were literally right next to each other. The door was closed.

We quickly showed our boarding passes to the attendant who said that it was too late. We couldn't board the plane. The door was closed.

"But (pointing) he let us get on the wrong plane," we cried.

"I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do," she replied.

"What do you mean, nothing you can do?" we cried, "Let us on the plane!" The plane was still sitting there. We could see it attached to the jetway. We had missed it by seconds.

"I'm sorry. After I'm finished with this gentlemen, I'll book you on the next flight," she replied, way too calmly.

Then chaos happened. We all started talking and crying at once.

The girls were crying, "What does she mean Mommy? Why can't we get on our airplane? Will we get to Chicago? Will we be there in time for Santa to come?" And then more hysterically, "Oh no! We're never going to get to Chicago! We'll be late for Santa! What will happen to our presents? Oh no!"

And I was begging, "Please don't do this! The plane is right there. Just open the door! It's not like we were late. They let us board the wrong plane. Please, just open the door!"

"I'm sorry, ma'am. We can't do that," she replied.

Again, I was begging, "What do you mean, you can't do that? The plane is right there! Please don't do this. It's Christmas eve!"

And D was angry. "I want to see your supervisor! Get your supervisor over here immediately! They let us get on the wrong plane. We were not late. And our plane is sitting right there. We must get to Chicago tonight! It's Christmas eve!"

The begging, the yelling, and the crying continued. We stood and watched our plane sit there for a full 15 minutes while we begged, yelled, and cried for them to let us on that plane.

They refused.

We gradually lost our wind. Gave up. And sat down. Eventually, we watched "our" plane fly away, along with our luggage. We consoled the girls the best we could. We assured them that Santa would wait for us. That he would make us his last delivery of the night. We hugged them and waited.

"Our" plane was scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 8:25pm. By the time we'd get our rental car and drive into the city and check into our hotel, it'd be 10:00pm or later for sure. We had planned, we checked this out in advance, that D would take the kids to the hotel pool for the last hour that it was open, while I would quickly wrap the gifts. We had it all planned out. We had even packed some Christmas lights, two stockings, a milk box, and some cookies into our carry-ons so that we could "set up" for Santa.

The next flight? It was scheduled to arrive at 12:20am Christmas Day. By the time we would arrive, shuttle over to the car rental place, drive to the city, and check into our hotel, it'd be the wee hours of the morning.

We were not pleased.

D expressed his anger somewhat appropriately and had demanded first class seats on the next flight and some sort of "repayment" for their mistake. The agent had calmly asserted that the mistake was half our responsibility since we boarded at the wrong gate. Not the right thing to say at a time like that! It had only made us more upset.

The mistake could have easily happened to anyone. The gates, 47 and 49, were right next to each other. There was not even a desk or anything in between them. The plane to Charlotte was scheduled to depart at 4:08. The plane to Chicago was scheduled to depart at 4:02. They were boarding at the same time. We had walked over, only noticing one line, and got into it. We were juggling two kids, 4 pieces of carry-on luggage, and all of the stuff we picked up at the shop and food stand. It was an easy mistake.

When we approached the attendant and handed him our boarding passes, he was supposed to check them. There were four of them. How did he not see that they were for the plane to Chicago and not the plane to Charlotte?

The longer we waited, the more numb we became. Finally, the attendant supervisor approached. He admitted that the attendant who let us on the wrong plane would be seriously reprimanded, if not fired. He told us that post-9/11, these types of mistakes were not taken lightly. He also told us that there had been a supervisor on her way to the Charlotte plane to pull us off just as we were exiting on our own accord. He assured us that there were checks in place to make sure these kinds of things didn't happen. And he apologized. He gave us first class seats on the next flight, plus vouchers for dining in the airport while we waited. He also gave us vouchers for a future flight. He did all the right things. And we began to feel sorry for the attendant who let us on the wrong plane. Would he be fired? We felt horrible for him. It was Christmas eve!

In any case, we were determined not to let this setback ruin our moods. We had all been in a very festive mood, excited for our trip, and thrilled that we had planned so well that there were no mistakes. Until we boarded the wrong plane, that is.

So we took our vouchers and ate a huge Mexican meal. D and I each drank a margarita. They were delicious. Then we boarded our plane, checking over and over that it was headed for Chicago, and sat in our luxurious first class seats. There we were served more food, more drinks, and free headphones for the movie. We each got blankets and pillows and we were comfortable. Very. We all decided we could get used to this.

But it was late. Very late by the time we got to our hotel. Luckily, we are blessed with night owls for children and everyone remained in a festive mood. We missed swimming in the hotel pool, of course, but we managed to set out our things for Santa, tuck the kiddos into bed, and stay up to wrap gifts. The girls were asleep by about 2:45am, and D and I by about 3:45.

And then we woke, bright and early at 9am, to the magic of Christmas. Santa had made it to our hotel!

We all breathed a sigh of relief for we had successfully survived our airplane debacle!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Catching Up

Today, I'm catching up. It feels like forever since I've been able to sit at the computer and read all the blogs I like to read. And importantly, comment on all the blogs I like to read. If you feel like I have neglected you, I am sorry. I will read you today! (and tomorrow and the next day until I'm caught up!)

We had a snow day today and have a delayed start tomorrow and I just had the last four days before that to get caught up. And there's nothing in the forecast. My calendar is empty. I feel like I've been given a new lease on life. Yep, that's right. I have time. Time on my hands. After the craziness of last semester, I feel like a new woman.

Last week, I unpacked from our Christmas trip. I put away all of the new toys and gifts, and even put together a photo book of our trip. I spent the weekend tidying up all of the loose ends around here. And by today, everything is done. The dishes are done. The laundry is done. The floors and bathrooms are clean. I cleaned out a closet today and it looks fabulous. We played in the snow. I shoveled the 18+ inches of snow off the driveway by myself. We've walked the dogs four days in a row. I even took time to refill the bird feeder.


Life is good.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

So They Burn Cheese in Greece?

As I was tucking my two girls into bed extremely late on the night of December 30th, the conversation went something like this----

Me: Ooooh, I had so much fun with you two today. We did so many fun things today. We woke up early and went ice skating. That was so wonderful. Then we went to see the Nutcracker and it was fabulous. Oh, and we went on a (horse-drawn) carriage ride. That was awesome. Wait. Wasn't there something else?

O: Yeah. We ate in (pause)...what was the name of that town?

Me: Oh yeah. Greektown. We had dinner in Greektown.

O: Greek? Just like the coins I have?

Me: Yes. Just like the coins I brought back from Greece. Yes, just like your coins, the food we ate was Greek, from Greece.

O: (thinking for a moment first) So, they burn cheese in Greece?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Christmas in Chicago

We just got back from our fabulous trip to Chicago. This time, for the first time since we moved away 12 years ago, we decided to stay in a hotel in the city, instead of bouncing between various family members homes in the suburbs.

We love, love, love the city. D and I lived in the city for 11 years before moving away from Chicago. We heart the city big time. And we miss it. Badly. And frankly, we're sick of spending a fortune to visit Chicago and spending all of our time watching TV in the suburbs. Our last trip in August was better, for sure. My Dad took the girls to the Lincoln Park Zoo, and he and I took them to the Shedd Aquarium. He understood that I wanted them to experience some of the awesomeness that the city has to offer. My husband's sister lives in the city too, with her hubby and young son. They always get it. But they don't have room to put us up and while we always manage to get into the city to pay them a visit and do something fun, we always trek back to the 'burbs to sleep.

Other family members of ours just don't get it. They are happy in their suburban ways and I don't even think it occurs to them to say, "Hey, let's motivate and take the kids to a museum or something." Instead, we do a ton of just hangin' in the 'burbs. Don't get me wrong. We love hangin' with family. And we miss them all dearly. But when people come to visit us, we're the first to offer to go to every attraction, both man-made and natural, in our beautiful area so that our visitors can both enjoy our company and feel like they're on vacation too.

So this time, we took it upon ourselves. We stayed in a hotel right in the heart of the action. We had the world at our footsteps and we loved every minute of it!

Let's see...first we woke to presents from Santa. Yep, Santa visited our hotel room! Amazing, right? We hung a string of lights and set out some cookies and milk too, just so he would know he was welcome.
Then we spent all of Christmas Day with family.

The girls crowned my mom as the new Matriarch of the Family.
And had plenty of time goofing off with their cousins.

And then we hit the city. And invited everyone to play with us too (some of whom were happy to do so, and others who weren't too enthused).

My mom and I hit the sales at Crate and Barrel bright and early on the day after Christmas. I shipped home about $170 worth of terrific goods, not bad considering all the stuff I wanted to buy. Sigh. I miss Crate and Barrel.

Then she and I (and our reluctant male better-halves) we took the girls to the American Girl store. Whoo hoo! They loved it! $200 later, we walked away with a couple of these....

And then had dinner at Uno's (yep, that's right, we did ALL the tourist-trap stuff and loved every minute of it!)...

The next day, we checked out the shop windows along State Street at the former Marshall Field's (now Macy's). The windows were decked out in a Nutcracker theme. Our theme of the season.

And then went swimming in the pool on the 19th floor of our hotel. We had awesome views of the city.

From the vantage point of the 19th floor, I realized that Medina Temple, the location of mine and my dh's college graduation ceremony, had been turned into a Bloomingdale's!

Later we grabbed lunch at our favorite Italian deli, L' Appetito. Then we hit the Museum of Science and Industry where we made molded plastic space shuttles (hmm, I have fond memories of that smell!), and got to visit the Star Wars exhibit.

Then we went ice skating in Millennium Park where it was so gorgeous I cried multiple times at how lucky we were to be doing this with our children!
Then we saw the amazing Nutcracker ballet performed by the Joffrey Ballet Company at the beautifully restored Auditorium Theater. Yep, I cried there too.

And had dinner in Greektown at the infamous Greek Islands restaurant, where we noshed on, of course, saginaki (flaming cheese), and other absolutely delectable foods. Opa!

Then we took a horse-drawn carriage ride.
The next day we rode the elevator to the 94th floor of the John Hancock building observatory.
Where it was too cloudy to see much of anything, but was awesome anyway!

We visited a "castle" (the Water Tower).

And spent New Year's Eve on Navy Pier.
Where we ate ice cream, played in the snow, and watched the fireworks.

Then we rang in the New Year at our hotel with some delicious Thai food, too much champagne, and some of our wonderful family.

We probably gained 800 pounds collectively (okay, so I gained most of that), and we stayed up much, much too late, and we spent too much money. But it was worth it. Every minute of it!