Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

UntitledMemorial Day weekend was pretty much perfect. Three dinners with friends. One birthday party. One fabulous parade. And the inaugural trip to the pool, where we were joined by pretty much everyone in Oak Park.

This photo was taken after the one disappointment of the weekend--we tried going back to the pool on Monday afternoon only to be turned away by a capacity crowd. This is Ada wrapped in a towel after we diverted to the splash pad. She's watching Zoe gleefully turn cartwheels through the spray.

UntitledA second later she saw me snapping a picture with my phone. I caught her right before she broke into her trademark toothless smile.

You can almost smell the sunscreen, chlorine and delicious little kid sweetness on her.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Profanity, as defined by a preschooler

"I know all the bad words," Ada whispered as she climbed into my bed at 6am.
"The H word is hate."
"The B word is butt."
"The S word is really bad," she continued, "It's stupid."
"The U word is underpants."
"And there are two P words, a brown one and a yellow one."

Friday, May 25, 2012

As the school year winds down

May is the new December, or so it seems, with every week marking another "last" and a constant stream of goodbyes and celebrations that are all coming to ahead this week.

Last weekend the girls performed in Tri-Star's annual gym show and Zoe had her last day of Hebrew School for the year. Today she is having a fiesta lunch with her extra curricular Spanish class and next week beckons with Olympics Day and a pizza picnic for the whole 2nd grade.

Ada finishes her 2nd of 3 years at Montessori school today. She'll be a kindergartener in the fall! After a full Memorial Day Weekend full of parties, playdates, a parade and the pool (!), June opens with its chaos of camps: Montessori camp, park district camp, swim camp and--for Zoe--2 nights in a platform tent at Girl Scout camp.

I know it's traditional to look back in December, not late May, but with children the ages of Zoe and Ada, it's hard not to feel a sense of finality with the wrapping of teacher gifts and mailing of graduation checks (my youngest cousin is a high school senior for a few more weeks). And this has been a wonderful year.

Zoe matured into the kind of kid who can disappear into her room (or the backyard) for hours on end, writing fantastic, dialogue-filled stories or creating lists of names (that she can use in future stories). I've also found her listening, rapt, to audiobooks as she does chin-ups underneath her loft bed. And speaking of exercise, this girl is all muscle. She spent the school year on Tri-Star Gymnastics' GIJO Level 3 Team, and mastered skills like the splits, round-offs and walk-overs. She solidified her best friendship with a fellow brainy classmate, but cultivated a wide range of friends from Hebrew School, girl scouts, the neighborhood and her class. My wish for her third grade year is an academically challenging teacher and for her to finally start broadening her palate.

And there's Ada. She's still got a ways to go in the maturity department, but we've evolved from multiple daily meltdowns to one or less per day. She's picking up on so many skills at school and can perform simple arithmetic and read simple books (We love Mo Willem's Elephant and Piggie series). She's an affectionate, fun-loving kid with a lot of friends (including two "best friends").  She's given up the stroller and willingly walks over a mile each way to school. And just this week I took the training wheels off her bike so she can start learning to balance on two wheels.

It's been a good year for me, too. My team is having a lot of successes at work, I got to redecorate our house and I picked up some tricky skills skating with Derby Lite (mohawks and backwards cross-overs for the win!). Finally, the sun is shining, it's 70 degrees and sunny and I'm on day one of a four-day weekend.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Mother's Day gift of sibling harmony

Untitled Mother's Day came early for me. My kids chose this weekend to get along with each other.

Friday night Josh had a concert to review, so I took the girls to Hole in the Wall for frozen custard. It was Ada's first time biking anywhere (other than around the block), and Zoe was pretty gracious about waiting for us slow folks (her little sis on training wheels and me on foot) at every intersection. The shop accidentally upsized Zoe's cone from kiddie to full-sized, and rather than gloat about her enormous ice cream, Zoe reassured her jealous sister that she "definitely wouldn't finish all that ice cream." She also took it upon herself to continuously wipe Ada's disgustingly messy chocolate frozen custard face.

UntitledBut the sibling harmony continued on Saturday! Zoe left Ada and me alone to bake Pinterest-inspired pretzels and oatmeal no-bake "energy balls." Then the three of us headed to the library, where Zoe read Ada a long fairy tale book until it was time to head across the street for Zoe's haircut. At the salon, Zoe let Ada sit next to her and play on the iPod Touch while Zoe had her hair reshaped into a stylish graduated bob.

Josh picked us up and the whole family went to the Depot American Diner for lunch. The food was a little off this time, but having the next hour all to myself to do a little shoe shopping more than made up that. And the cherry on my new TOMS shoes was coming home to find Zoe and Ada well intwined on the couch in front of Alice in Wonderland.

Mother's Day Sunday was pretty good too. Josh and the girls let me sleep in, and when I finally padded downstairs, they presented me with cards and fresh crepes. Ada and I played at the newly remodeled Taylor Park while Zoe was at Hebrew school, and Sunday afternoon the whole family headed to UIC Pavilion for some roller derby action. Interestingly enough, I bought Zoe a pack of derby trading cards and she immediately overcame her shyness, hounding all the skaters for autographs.
New haircut
Zoe's new haircut

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Thank you, President Obama

UntitledToday our President came out in support of gay marriage, and that made me proud to be an American.

I felt extra patriotic when, while assisting my 4 year old in the making of pizzas for dinner, I heard an NPR broadcast discussing the news. They mentioned the fact that--for the first time in history--more Americans support gay marriage than are against it.

I feel like we've come a long way in what seems like a fairly short time. I didn't know any (out) gay people in high school or among my parents' friends. My kids, by contrast, know my cousin is married to another man. They know that some kids have one parent, some have two, and sometimes those two are of the same gender. It's so not a big deal for them it barely registers as worth commenting. It's boring.  What's far more interesting, at least to my second grader, is that sometimes a kid's parents list two different addresses in the school directory. Divorce is more interesting (even scandalous) to a kid than a committed, loving gay marriage.

You can tell that to the defense of marriage nutjobs.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Omaha and more

As good as the Jellies exhibit at the Shedd
We spent last weekend in the city my parents were raised in and I grew up visiting during my summer vacations--Omaha, Nebraska. We were there because my cousin's daughter Lindsay was having her bat mitzvah. Since Ada and Zoe have only two first cousins (and those two live in Australia), I've tried to expose them to their second and third cousins as much as possible.

And I kind of like Omaha. For one thing, the Henry Doorly Zoo is fantastic. We (along with my mom and stepdad) headed there directly from the airport and took in the desert, swamp and aquarium exhibits.

We did some other sightseeing too, visiting the Durham Museum (an old train station filled with exhibits on Omaha history and a bunch of really cool historic rail cars that had the girls lost in a complicated game of "let's pretend") and the Omaha Children's Museum.

Naturally there were plenty of bat mitzvah-related events too: services, a 13th birthday dinner, more services, an oneg, a bat mitzvah party at a diner and a farewell brunch. Lindsay chanted beautifully and led many of the prayers, but I was most impressed by her d'var Torah, the commentary she gave on her Torah portion, which was about leprosy. She talked about the importance of making everyone feel a part  of a community and related that to her service project, which was assisting the disabled with swimming lessons.
"When's the train going to come?"

This was also the first hotel stay in which we didn't play musical beds! Zoe and Ada shared a double bed, and so did Josh and I. (P.S. The Marriott Omaha has very comfortable beds.) The girls deserve an extra commendation for their ability to stay up late and haul their own luggage. We didn't land until 8:30pm Sunday night, and they gamely wheeled their suitcases through the terminal, onto the tram to remote parking and then onto the bus to extra cheap remote parking.

In other, completely unrelated news, Ada is a reader! I'm going to post a video of her reading a book soon, I promise. While Zoe was a teeny bit younger when she started reading, I just realized that both of them started 1-2 months before the end of their second year at Montessori preschool.

Also, we booked a Disney World vacation for the fall. It will be my second time to WDW and the first for Zoe and Ada. We haven't told them yet, so please help us keep this a secret.