31 December 2007

Top 5

Frank suggested I do a top 5 list of my favorite books I read this year. I expanded that into 5 fiction and 5 non-fiction, in no particular order.

Top 5 fiction of 2007:

1. Lamb by Christopher Moore (quite possibly my favorite book of all time)
2. The Girls by Lori Lansens (I forgot the characters weren't real)
3. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (Wow!)
4. The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue (Excellent debut novel)
5. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows by J.K. Rowling (The end of an era of lovingly crafted, smart fiction for young and old alike)

Top 5 non-fiction of '07:

1. American Shaolin by Matthew Polly (about the author's trip to the Shaolin temple and his training in martial arts in early 1990's China)
2. Mommies Who Drink by Brett Paesel (like having coffee with a friend)
3. Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet (amazing memoir that gives insight into the mind of a person with Asperger's)
4. Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller (loved her use of language - very poetic)
5. She's Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan (Thoughtful, witty memoir of the author's journey from James to Jennifer)

These lists could've easily morphed into top 10, 15 or 20 but I had to restrict myself. Overall, there were very few duds read this year. Some were just ok and others knocked my socks off.

Here's to a 2008 full of excellent books!

30 December 2007

90 In 52

Last December, my husband asked me, "How many books do you think you read in a year?" I had no answer. So, this year I started keeping a log of the books I read. This is the list:

1. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman
2. Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith
3. No Touch Monkey by Ayun Halliday
4. Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent
5. Water for Elephants by Sue Gruen
6. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett
7. Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
8. The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde
9. You Suck by Christopher Moore
10. The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of The Apocalypse by Robert Rankin
11. Getting Stoned With Savages by J. Maarten Troost
12. The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl
13. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
14. Foop! by Chris Genoa
15. City of Tiny Lights by Patrick Neate
16. A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel
17. Lamb by Christopher Moore
18. Under and Alone by William Queen
19. Lydia Cassatt Reading The Morning Paper by Harriet Scott Chessman
20. A Changed Man by Francine Prose
21. Model by Michael Gross
22. Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
23. Swimming To Antarctica by Lynne Cox
24. Grayson by Lynne Cox
25. Duncan Delany and The Cadillac of Doom by A.L. Haskett
26. A Monsterous Regiment of Women by Laurie King
27. One Thousand White Women by Jim Fergus
28. Everybody Was So Young by Amanda Vaill
29. Confessions of a Slacker Wife by Muffy Meade-Ferro
30. The Girls by Lori Lansens
31. Ant Farm by Simon Rich
32. Undead and Unwed by Mary Janice Davidson
33. Dark at the Roots by Sarah Thyre
34. Naked Pictures of Famous People by Jon Stewart
35. The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin
36. What The Dead Know by Laura Lippman
37. Astonishing Splashes of Colour by Clare Morrall
38. They Poured Fire on Us From The Sky by B. Deng, et. al.
39. The Priest's Madonna by Amy Hassinger
40. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
41. How To Be Pope by Piers Marchand
42. Candy Freak by Steve Almond
43. My Life in Heavy Metal by Steve Almond
44. Devil In The Details by Jennifer Traig
45. She's Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan
46. The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer
47. Two Old Women by Velma Wallis
48. Little People by Tom Holt
49. Falling Sideways by Tom Holt
50. The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue
51. Knick Knack Paddy Whack by Ardal O'Hanlon
52. Helpless by Barbara Gowdy
53. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
54. Thursday Next First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde
55. Confessions of a Slacker Mom by Muffy Meade-Ferro
56. American Shaolin by Matthew Polly
57. The Incredible Change-Bots by Jeffrey Brown
58. The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain
59. Heat by Bill Buford
60. The Devil's Picnic by Taras Grescoe
61. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer
62. Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
63. How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accent by Julia Alvarez
64. Five Quarters of The Orange by Joanne Harris
65. Making Money by Terry Pratchett
66. The Radioactive Boy Scout by Ken Silverstein
67. Arthur and George by Julian Barnes
68. Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez
69. Truckers by Terry Pratchett
70. Diggers by Terry Pratchett
71. Wings by Terry Pratchett
72. Shazam! And The Monster Society of Evil by Jeff Smith
73. Mommies Who Drink by Brett Paesel
74. The Scheme For Full Employment by Magnus Mills
75. The Alienist by Caleb Carr
76. Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
77. Charlotte's Web by E.B. White
78. How To Be Good by Nick Hornby
79. Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff
80. Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet
81. Straight Man by Richard Russo
82. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
83. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick
84. The Short Bus by Jonathan Mooney
85. Fantasyland by Sam Walker
86. The Mammy by Brendan O'Carroll
87. The Chisellers by Brendan O'Carroll
88. The Granny by Brendan O'Carroll
89. Cod by Mark Kurlansky
9o. Walking In Circles Before Lying Down by Merrill Markoe

This does not take into account the trillions of children's books I read with my kids over the course of the year, although I did count Charlotte's Web since it's one of my all-time favorites.

Frank said the record is set, now all I have to do is break it.

Enough Already

Don't get me wrong, I love Christmas. But 5 days of it is a little wearing. The Fat Man comes early to our home because he knows we travel on Christmas Day. This year he came on the 23rd. Frank took the kids out during the afternoon of the 22nd so I could wrap all their presents. And there was a boat load of gifts for them both. Sunday morning we rose, went to 8 a.m. Mass and then out for breakfast. The kids were almost beside themselves by the time we got home. "Now can we open presents?", they pleaded. Then the carnage began. Frank and I spent the rest of the day opening various and sundry packages. I also made a great red lentil soup for lunch/dinner. The recipe's in the latest issue of Vegetarian Times.

The 24th dawned with me at the gym getting in a last workout before heading out of town for the rest of the week. Around 10:30 my mom showed up to cook Christmas dinner and we set up the infamous Wii. Evan and Nana, my mom, played a rousing game of bowling. The rest of the fam came around 2:30. We dined on roast beef, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, the works. As we were cleaning up, the doorbell rang. My nieces ran to see who it was.
"Santa" delivered presents to each of the 6 kids (my 2, my sister daughters and my step-brother's 2 girls) and each of the adults got a gift as well. My youngest niece, who is 2, decided Santa needed a present so she gave him a purse. A good time was had by all and my kids were in their beds asleep by 9:30, a sign of the late nights to come.

Christmas morning we piled in the car, laden with gifts and suitcases, and headed to the north suburbs of Chicago. We lunched at Frank's cousin's house then drove 5 minutes to my MIL's home for cake and coffee (and presents, that kind of goes with out saying). My SIL is quite possibly the world's best baker and her cookies are to die for, especially her linzer and black & white cookies. I think I consumed a good 43 dozen over the course of the week. She also made a great cheesecake and a molded jell-o dessert.

The 26th we drove over to my SIL's house out in the NW suburbs for dinner and, yes, more Christmas. My kids were thrilled that they got to open more presents and play with their cousins who had to leave yesterday's festivities early due to a get together with their dad's side of the family.

The day after the day after Christmas we went downtown to the Adler Planetarium then walked over to the Shedd Aquarium to see the new baby Beluga whale (that's all Flynn could talk about when she knew we were going downtown) and the penguins. It was a whirlwind visit through the Shedd just to see the favorites. It's a good thing we have a membership. Then we traveled out to Brookfield to the zoo. We met my SIL and her family there to see the zoo lights, which were pretty neat.

Friday was our last day in Chicago and we spent it puttering around not doing much of anything other than watch 6 inches of snow fall. The week full of late nights/early risings was taking its toll on the kids. Both were rather emotionally fragile and kept saying they were tired, but neither wanted to lie down for a nap. That night we met up with some dear friends and their 16-month-old daughter. They surprised us with the fantastic news that they had moved back to the area after living in Dallas, TX for the past 5 years.

Yesterday after lunch we piled in the car and headed due south to home, that favorite of all things. After unpacking and sorting laundry, we settled in for a dinner of cold cuts, gave the kids a bath and promptly went to bed early. The kids slept until 8:30 this a.m.

We do this every year, but this year felt much more harried and tiring. I wonder why that is.

Frank's talking about us heading to Florida after Christmas next year.

I love him.

21 December 2007

Ego Boost for Daddy

Flynn, while holding an empty wrapping paper tube and standing next to her daddy, "Look, Mommy! Daddy has a long penis!"

Merry Christmas, Daddy.

20 December 2007

Crises Averted

Today I had planned on getting certain things done. The fact that this is the first day of winter break for my kids conspired against me. Flynn slept in until almost 8:30 (which is good because she was awake at 4 a.m.). Evan played Lego Star Wars on the X-Box 360 for a while, which delayed his getting dressed. This also torpedoed my plans to go to the gym this a.m. Oh well, there's always tomorrow.

At 11:00 I'd dillied and dallied enough (doing laundry, adding and subtracting music to my MP3 player, checking e-mail, reading blogs, etc.) , so I herded the kinder into the car and off we went. Really, there were 3 things I needed to accomplish: 1. go to the post office and mail out a few books and a Christmas gift.; 2. go purchase some pint-sized jars & some almonds and 3. buy just a couple of things at the grocery.

Errand #1 went ok. The P.O. was unusually uncrowded so our wait in line was negligible. So on to errand #2. While at a local store, the kids decided they wanted to pick out a present for their Daddy, which turned into a mess. They just started grabbing stuff off the shelves and stuffing it into the cart. While I was emptying the cart, they started fighting over who was going to give what. Just before I started tearing my hair out they compromised. Crisis #1 averted. In the check out lane both of them were getting super squirrelly. It was close to lunch time, so I figured we'd make a detour for food before heading to the supermarket.

In the parking lot Flynn started throwing a huge hissy fit because she did not want to go to Sonic, my proposal, for lunch. She wanted to have a hot dog at Sam's Club. I told her I understood she was hungry but that's no reason to act like a total crab.

Then Evan pipes up, "Or like a pussy."

I waited a beat then asked, "What did you mean by that?"

"Like a cat."

Then Flynn started meowing.

Crisis #2 averted.

They were absolute angels at the grocery. And, yes, that's "angels" not "a-holes."

19 December 2007

A Perfect Prayer

If you can't read his handwriting the above says:
Dear Jesus,
I pray for my Flynn and my dad and my mom. Thank you for Christmas, and for the animals.
Love, Evan

My heart swelled with pride for my beautiful, sweet boy when I read this today.

18 December 2007

Our Cutie Cat

I took this while Bootsie, our cat, was lying under the Christmas tree. I think she thought it was a safe place from Flynn's exuberant loving.

17 December 2007

But I'm Not An Addict Or Anything

This summer my sister turned me on to Starbucks Italian Roast light iced coffee. It comes in a can. I know, I know, canned coffee? But it is delicious and only has 35 calories per serving. And I can buy it at Wal-Mart AND Target (where, surprisingly, it's a dollar cheaper than Wal-Mart).

I figured I'd try it. You know, what the hell? I'm fairly adventurous when it comes to food and drink so I thought coffee's safe so why not?

I'm blaming my dear, beloved sister for my addiction.

I'm not mainlining or anything. I can keep my love of this sweet elixir in check. I drink one can every other day, which coincides with my exercise schedule of running one day and weight training the next. I have a can on the way to school and by the time I hit the gym I can feel the caffeine humming through my body. The buzz doesn't last long, but it's enough to give me a little energy boost. However, if Starbucks made a caffeine-free version I'd be pouring it down my gullet like water.

By the middle of last week I was down to my last can so I scoured all 3 Wal-Marts in the area and Target only to find empty shelves. I was starting to get desperate and I think my palms were actually sweating by the time I made it to my last stop to discover bare spots where the cans should've been. There were plenty of the regular orange can kind, but none of my beloved blue can.

Saturday morning I drank my last can and I thought, "What if I can't find this stuff anymore? What if Starbucks killed it like Max Factor killed my favorite lipstick color?" I wanted to scream.

Hallelujah! Praise the coffee gods and their infinite mercy because today while I was at Target I spied the little silver & blue cans on the top shelf of the drinks asile. There were 3 four-packs and I bought them all. I had to scale the shelves to do it, but you better damn well believe nobody else was going to walk out of there with my coffee.

They are mine, all mine.

That is, until I run out again.

I don't even want to think about it.

16 December 2007

The Christmas A-hole

Today was the big day the kids had been waiting for. We put up the Christmas tree. They had a ball decorating and only occasionally disagreed on which ornament would go on next. Crowning our tree is our angel. She's a tree topper we've had for a while and I could do with a different one, Flynn thinks she's beautiful.

Let me backtrack a little and tell you my daughter's speech isn't always clear. She does a lot of what's known as fronting. Vowels that are supposed to be made in the back of the throat are pronounced at the front of the mouth (i.e., a hard "k" sound becomes a "t"). She also has a tendency to drop ending sounds.

After we were finished, we gathered in the living room with a snack to admire our handiwork. As we ate our grapes and wheat thins, Flynn and Evan pointed out all the different ornaments.

"There's Darth Vader."

"There's Pooh Bear! I put that one on."

"There's Superman and Batman and Robin."

"There's the a-hole."

"There's the what?" asked Frank.

"There's the a-hole! On top of the tree. She's beautiful."

Of course, she meant "angel." Frank and I tried in vain to not laugh. We were giggling like idiots.

Behold, I give you the Christmas A-hole, I mean, Angel!

14 December 2007

Shout Out to My Book Club Peeps

Saturday mornings have become sacrosanct to me. After my early workout I shower and head towards campus and a quaint local coffee shop. I get my little pot of tea and head upstairs to this cozy loft area. If I'm early, and I usually am, I read and wait for the other members of my book club to trickle in around 9-ish.

I had initially resisted the idea of joining a book club mainly due to preconceived notions that (a) we wouldn't talk about the books and (b) the books would be horrible. I joined this particular book club nearly 2 years ago at the invitation of two of my friends from my son's preschool class. I don't know if I've ever properly thanked Tracy & Amy so "thank you, ladies."

Our group is composed of a wide variety of women ranging in age from 30's to 50's and occupations from stay-at-home moms to special ed. teachers to ministers. The vast majority attend the same church, but they are very welcoming. This includes an occasional visit from "D" the transvestite, which is always interesting.

My fellow clubbers consistently tell entertaining and often hilarious stories. We do a lot of laughing. The bulk of our time together is spent catching up and we may get around to talking about the book we've been reading or we may wait a week so everyone gets a chance to finish the book and voice her opinion. We read a wide variety of literature: sci-fi, fantasy, graphic novels, classics, popular fiction, non-fiction, memoir, historical fiction - whatever seems to strike our fancy at the time.

These weekend kaffee klatch sessions are sanity savers for me. It's cheap therapy.

If you're interested in joining my book club, let me know and I'll hook you up with the info. We're always open to new members.

Come for the book, stay for the conversation.

13 December 2007

Thought For The Day

This morning after dropping my daughter off at school, I headed over to a local hospital. I had an appointment and a couple other things to do there like pick up my new contacts and have some blood drawn so my doc can check to see if my new level of thyroid medication is doing its job.

I entered the building and headed for the stairs since I really dislike waiting for elevators. I descended to the lower level and exited the door. I looked to my left and saw the cancer center where, 23 years earlier, my mother had had her chemotherapy treatments. Though I knew it would be there, the sight of this place jarred me. I turned to the right and headed for the breast imaging clinic where I would be manhandled by a machine. Yep, it's mammo time. I wasn't particularly concerned as this is a yearly deal, yet, there was a niggling thought at the back of my mind. What if they find something? But everything was negatory, good buddy. Which is good.

I left the building in an odd mood. Why was the sight of the cancer treatment center such a shock to me? I'd spent some time there with my mom when she was being treated for breast cancer. I remember one visit where I actually went into the treatment room with her. Usually, I just stayed in the waiting room. She sat in one of the many chairs and waited for the nurse to hook her up to her particular intravenous cocktail of cell-killers. I sat on the floor next to her and did homework. Other patients were partitioned off with curtains and I remember trying not to hear a lady vomit.

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 42 and it wasn't until recently that she confided she was stage III when she received her diagnosis. That's more than half-way to terminal. In hindsight, that scares the bejezus out of me. But at 15, it never occurred to me that she could die. It just wasn't a possibility. So she went through surgery, chemo and radiation, plus rounds of steroids, anti-nausea meds and 5 years of tamoxifen. She's a tough bird, my mom.

Maybe that residual fear of losing my mom is what bothered me. Or now that I'm 38, a mother myself, and well acquainted with the fact that I'm not immortal, I'm afraid of being diagnosed.

I paid my $1 parking fee and headed to the gym. Today was a running day and I had time enough to run a 5k before picking up Flynn at school. It took me a while to find my stride but once I hit it, I ran faster and faster and faster clocking 3.1 miles in 29 and a half minutes. I was running like I was either chasing something or being chased.

Was I running to good health or away from the spectre of disease?

12 December 2007

My Beautiful Dangerous Boy

Evan's karate pictures arrived today.

11 December 2007

'Zine Whore

I read a lot of magazines. And for some reason, I find that particularly shameful. Maybe it's because I feel I may be single-handedly responsible for the destruction of the rain forests due to the amount of paper that comes into my home on a monthly basis. Or maybe it's because these magazines aren't exactly 'highbrow' or enriching my intellect in any way.

I 'read':
Martha Stewart Living
Real Simple
Everyday Food
Cooking Light
Vegetarian Times (I love this magazine. Though I'm not fully veg. I've been a subscriber for well over a decade.)
W (a big-ass fashion magazine that has no pertinence to my life and is pure eye-candy)
Vanity Fair (surprisingly in-depth)
Lucky (I won't be renewing my subscription. I'm not exactly their demographic.)
Family Fun
Family Circle
House Beautiful
Ladies' Home Journal
Natural Health
Good Housekeeping
U.S. News & World Report (I don't know why we get this magazine. I think Frank subscribed to it when a kid came door-to-door. We're both suckers for kids hawking wares.)
Women's Health
Body + Soul

See? That's a shit load of magazines, right? My house could be a newsstand, for crying out loud. But they do feed my reading obsession when my attention is easily diverted by my children. I love looking at the thick stack of magazines on my kitchen table. It's comforting being surrounded by all that glossy paper. They are mini mental vacations just waiting for me. I can sit down with a cup of tea and read for a bit while the kids play in the next room. I enjoy that little bit of mental solace a lot, introvert that I am. It's bliss.

Maybe I'd feel better if I subscribed to Mother Jones or some literary journal.

09 December 2007

I Stand Corrected

I was curious as to exactly how many stuffed animals my daughter sleeps with. So, under the pretense of changing the sheets I enlisted Flynn's help in cataloging with whom she shares her bed.

Here's the list. I think you'll agree it's pretty impressive.

A blue tiger named Dragon
Pepperoni, an orange striped cat
Ike the dog
Cupcake, Heart, Flip-Flop Waffle and Angry the dinosaurs
Baby Beluga
Spongebob Squarepants
Rock Star the chihuahua
Skippyjohn Jones, the tiny Siamese cat
A very small Wampa (Star Wars monster) named Tina
Winnie-the-Pooh (2)

Rabbit Tiger the dog
Mooie, the cow
Marie the cat

Cinderella (2)
Duke, a black poodle

Tiny Tiger, a dog

3 mermaids (Ariel, Tiger & Tinkerbell)
Baby Raccoon

Rajah, a tiger Helpful the octopus
Ballerina Kitty
Goldie, a dog

Tinkerbell the dog
Nemo the duck

a Sneech named Princess

Snowy, a tiny Westie terrier
Chip, the cat

, the mouse from Paris, France

A polar bear named Pizza
Dottie, a bunny

Bunny ear
Christmas bear

Unicorn, a horse

A bear named puppy
Green Lantern

Leah bear
Captain Marvel

Ariel the leopard seal
Myra, a mermaid

A cat named Ribbon
My Little Nemo, a bear

Gingerbread cat

A bunny named Pikachu
Sandal bear

Razzleberry, a pony
Cookie, a cat

Beach Ball the seal
Bananas, a monkey

Cocoa, a pink poodle

Nofeet the snake

No name the dog
Caboodle, a hedgehog

Flower the bunny
Piglet, a fish

Springy, a bunny
Violet, a unicorn

Tyrone the pygmy marmoset
Ladybug bunny

Oodle and Doodle, pink poodles
Blue pony

Hedgie #1
Lassie, a dog

Flounder, a dog
, a bunny

Little Monster, a unicorn
Bunny duck

Baby zebra
Cali, a cat

Clifford, a monkey
Tinka-tinka-too, a pony

Tigger, a dog

All told, I think there's 90 or so animals. I had estimated 75. Boy, was I wrong!

And all she wants from Santa Claus is a teddy bear.

Where she'll put it, I don't know.

So Brilliant I Wish I'd Thought Of It First

I don't know if any of you read Martha Stewart Living magazine. I do. And normally I don't find many projects that appeal to me (they're either too involved or too fussy). That being said, I came across this little number in the latest issue: the t-shirt shopping bag.

What you'll need:
heavyweight cotton t-shirt
A sewing machine
9-inch diameter bowl
fabric pen (preferably one with disappearing ink)

1. Turn the t-shirt inside out and sew the bottom closed by stitching over the existing hem. Turn the shirt right side out and lay it on a flat surface, making sure that all the seams are aligned.

2. Place the inverted bowl over the neck of the shirt so that only half of the bowl is covering the shirt. Trace the rim of the bowl onto the shirt with the fabric pen.

3. Cut along the traced line, making sure to cut through both layers of the fabric. This will create a wide opening for the shopping bag.

4. Cut off the sleeves at the seam to make the bag handles.

And voila! A lovely reusable shopping bag that you can throw in the wash if something spills on it.

There's no shortage of t-shirts in my home (they're a major part of my husband's wardrobe) so I'll be making these soon.

07 December 2007

My Wake-Up Call

I hear her little feet pattering down the hallway in my half-sleep.

"Mommy?", she whispers.

"Yes. What? I'm awake." I say, still a little foggy.

"Mommy?", still whispering.

"Yes, Flynn."

"I peed in my bajamas."

"You what?"

"I. Peed. In my bajamas."

"Well, go to the bathroom. Let me get my glasses on and I'll be there in a minute."

"OK. It's morning time. It snowed. Good morning."

"Yeah, good morning."

06 December 2007

Frownie Face

Today I woke up in a bad, bad mood. Dark, prickly and cranky was I, for sure. It was one of those mornings when not even coffee or good music would lift my spirits.

Flynn was in rare form today too, which was just peachy. "NO! I don't want breakfast! I want candy! I wanted tea not cocoa! This tag is itchy!" These exclamations were accompanied with much foot stomping, kicking, screaming and tears. Surprisingly, they weren't mine. I do have to say I'm very thankful for "Super Why" on PBS because once that came on, we could disengage and both of us could calm down.

So I didn't go to the gym today.

I dropped Flynn off at school and high-tailed it to Borders to finish off some Christmas shopping. I actually managed not to buy something for myself, which was really hard to do (some of you know of my obsession with books). That was followed by trips to Wal-Mart, Dick's, and Factory Card Outlet.

Spending the morning just futzing around help alleviate some of my nastiness. I was considerably cheered when I picked up Flynn at noon. Her morning had improved her disposition as well. Maybe that's just what we needed: time apart.

Or maybe we just need a good nap.

05 December 2007

We Say "Oui" To Wii

Video games are nothing new at our house. My husband makes his living as an art director for a local video game developer and is an avid gamer. He doesn't get to game as much as he would like, due to the number of hours he puts in a week. As a family we enjoy playing video games, owning the following gaming systems: X-Box, X-Box 360, Play Station, Play Station 2 and an old Sega Dreamcast that hasn't seen the light of day in well over 7 years. We may even have an Atari lurking around the basement.

And now we own a Wii. When we say "we" I really mean my 4-year-old daughter.

The Wii was something we were doing nicely without. The kids weren't clamoring for one and neither was Frank. Some friends have one and it's fun, but we weren't exactly beating down Best Buy's doors to get one.

So, why do we now possess a Wii? Simple, Flynn won it in a raffle at her karate school. For the month of Nov. each class a child attended they received a raffle ticket, first prize being the Wii. It was pretty much the kids' responsibility to fill out the tickets and put it in the requisite bucket. We didn't always stick around for our tickets.

Last Saturday afternoon we received a call from the school's owner, "Flynn won the Wii." Much to the incredulity of many teenage boys who diligently filled out their raffle tickets after every class and did everything in their power to earn more tickets, a 4-year-old girly girl walked away with the prize.

When I told her she won, she was excited but promptly returned to playing whatever make-believe game I had interrupted. Evan, on the other hand, began jumping up and down shouting, "Woo-hoo!!!" Later that day he started dropping casual tidbits of information such as, "'Lego Star Wars The Complete Saga' is a Wii game."

We picked up the Wii after Flynn's class on Monday - it's still sitting on the kitchen counter. It'll probably be Christmas before we get around to hooking it up.

04 December 2007

Super Cool Shopping Site

I was recently perusing my latest issue of either Parenting or Parents magazine (they're pretty much interchangeable) when I came across an article touting interesting gift ideas for the holidays. "I could use some interesting gift ideas," I thought to myself and proceeded to read the article which featured several products from an online shop called Etsy.

Then I went to Etsy's website which promptly blew my mind. I may be the last person on the planet to know about this place, but I just think it's the coolest. Etsy showcases all things handmade: art work, furniture, toys, clothing, bags, you name it I'm pretty sure they've got it. There's even a category called "geekery." I love it!

I found unique gifts for friends (jewelry for one and an art print & journal for another), very, very cute Star Wars barrettes for Flynn, and I have my eye on something for Grandma. If any of the men I knew wore cuff-links, I'd be set because there are zillions of them on this site - and they're, amazingly, very cool (robots or lego blocks anyone?). I also didn't spend an arm and a leg for original artwork. From what I could tell, prices are fair and some sellers offer free shipping.

Often I find myself at a loss for gift ideas because I just want to find that perfect something. I know I'll never be lost with this site. I love quirky, slightly weird, nerdy, artsy, mod stuff and Etsy has that in spades.

Hooray for Etsy!

03 December 2007

Who Says Pigeons Are Stupid?

At this point the eternal flame in Daly Plaza, downtown Chicago, is more pigeon warmer than memorial.

02 December 2007

Looking Smart

The other day I picked up my new glasses from Wal-Mart. I usually wear contacts but decided to wear the new glasses for the rest of the day to get used to the increased prescription.

That night when my husband came home he said, "Did you get new glasses?"

"Yep," I said, thinking, "You had to ask? I've been wearing the same glasses for 13 years and these look totally different." Incidentally, we've been together for almost 14 years and the obvious isn't exactly Frank's forte.

"They make you look smart."

My eyebrow must have arched because Frank hastily added, "Smarter. You look smarter. You look good."

01 December 2007

Planning Ahead

I take great pleasure in overhearing my children's conversations. The best ones, like this one they had on the way home from karate lessons, happen in the car.

Evan: When I get tired of being an astronaut I have an idea for the best job!

Flynn: What is it?

Evan: I'm going to be a zoo keeper!

Flynn: Ooooh, yeah! I want to be a zoo keeper after I get tired of being a princess!

I love how they're planning ahead for their retirement at the ripe old ages of 6 and 4.