Thursday, March 26, 2009

Pseudo Spring Break, Chicago Style

We wanted to take a real break for once and leave town, but that just seemed like too much work, so we have been taking a few days this week to do some fun things we normally don't fit in during the schoolyear. Monday, we welcomed Spring by heading up to Gethsemane Garden Center to buy some seeds to start our garden, about 3 months ahead of last year! We bought flowers, snap peas, kale and spinach, to begin with. We headed home, picked up the rake and shovel, and headed to our little plot in the community garden. Mike and I broke up the soil, while Nourit picked up as many worms as possible with her bare hands. Perhaps we have a future biologist on our hands?

I went to the office Tuesday and Wednesday, but we still worked in a trip to Bixler Playlot, a trip to Huckleberry Playlot, a trip to the Museum of Science and Industry, followed by gelato (thanks, Melissa!), and some almost-nude body painting (the girls, not Mike and me.)

We also fit in our first trip together to our local library. I'm a little sheepish that it's taken me so long to borrow children's books from the library that's only 3 blocks away, but it's more complicated than it sounds. First of all, I tried to check out books a year ago from Blackstone, but left the library empty-handed. (Well, not actually empty-handed. I had an infant and a 2 year old, which are very hard to handle at the same time.) See, I didn't have the cash to pay my 60 cent overdue fine so I wasn't allowed to take out all the children's books I had carefully chosen. And Blackstone is a drive away (read, buckling-two- children-into-their-carseats-twice drive away), so it's not my first choice of things to do. Since then, I've been buying all their books, which isn't so sustainable.

We have a library 3 blocks away (Bessie Coleman), but those are the same three blocks that contain some of the worst housing projects in Chicago, have broken glass on the sidewalks, often have people smoking pot, crack, what have you, in little groups as we walk by, and frequently have random shootings. This is the same reason why we don't take the Green Line as often as we might. Two of my neighbors regularly walk that way so I finally decided to. It's not that I'm scared - I just don't want to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. That, and Mike doesn't want me to go. I'm not sure whether it's a good idea or not, but it was so nice getting out some new books and a free museum pass, and being home within 10 minutes. It's my neighborhood, but not the side that makes me most comfortable.

Today, we played tourists at Navy Pier, and let the girls run around at the Chicago Children's Museum for a couple hours. Talk about ADD land! Nourit barely stayed on one exhibit/task for longer than 30 seconds. They had fun, though, and I love that there are so many hands-on activities for them there. If only it were under Grant Park...

We had some lunch, and got on the Ferris Wheel, where, to my utter amazement, I quietly freaked out and had to stop myself from imagining the worst for the 7 minutes we were up in the air. I did nurse Avi the entire time, so add that to my list of interesting places to breastfeed.

Coffee at Fox & Obel, a brisk walk down Michigan Avenue, and we got in our car and drove home. Tomorrow, we are off to the Art Museum, and Saturday, a dance workshop with the Hubbard Street dancers. Ah, we're doing our best to take advantage of this great city!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Questions and Answers

We have many things up in the air right now, but slowly the answers are trickling in. We still have a long way to go, though, until everything is answered and we know what our summer and fall will look like.

1st Question: Will Nourit be accepted into the Lycee?

Answer: We just found out "oui", but an answer to the next question will reveal the reality of her attending in the fall.

2nd Question: What kind of financial help will we be eligible for from the Lycee?

Answer: TBD

3rd Question: Now that the grant I manage is almost finished, what becomes of my flexible, part-time, benefits eligible job?

Answer: TBD. Hopefully this afternoon after my boss has a meeting with the Division.

4th Question: Will Mike and I be chosen as RH's for next year?

Answer: TBD. We made it through Round 1 and 2 interviews, and will find out next week if we'll continue. It's a longshot, so we'll see...

5th Question: What will we have for dinner tonight?

Answer: That's easy. Leftovers, of course.

There are other questions hovering, too, and depending on the outcome of #'s 3 & 4, I'm sure that other questions will immediately rise. Stay tuned for the answers!

Friday, March 13, 2009

What Have We Been Up To?

When I began keeping this blog last summer, I think I was keeping track of our daily, or at least weekly, activities. Now the weeks go by and I keep putting things in a mental list to blog about at some point in the future. The list is getting rather long! Here are some highlights of the last month...(warning: it's overloaded with pictures and video.)

February 20 (?): Finally celebrated Avi's 1st birthday almost a month late. We corralled the usual suspects (our wonderful neighbors!) and enticed them downstairs and across the backyard with the promise of one of Mike's yummy cakes. Avi certainly liked her first slice of real cake - I turned around for a minute and she had devoured it!

Scarlett, who is too cute for words (so here's a picture!)

Avi's first birthday cake - loaded with fruit and almonds.

Three little girls in their usual places, enjoying cake before running back to play.

Champagne and sippy cups - what a wonderful life!

And finally, the Birthday (plus a month) Girl

February 24-March 1: We took a trip across the border to attend the Windsor New Music Festival where Mike's piece, A Presence Close as Breath, was featured. (He dedicated it to me, by the way!) We also had a nice time visiting Nanny and Papa, and were thrilled that Muffy drove down with Sammy and Joey for a day. Nourit loves her cousins! (And so do we, of course.)

*Notice Pink Poodle

We spent some time visiting our old favorite places in Windsor (Wah Court and the pizza place that was down the street from our apartment.) We took Nourit ice-skating (or should I say, ice dancing!) near the court house, and ate at Tim Horton's one too many times.

Nourit petting the goats at Colosanti's (*notice Pink Poodle)

Nourit on her first amusement park ride at Colosanti's. (They have everything there...)

First, Nourit wouldn't allow me to let go of her hands.

Enter new 4 year old friend, and she's hands-free, dancing like she was born in the '80's.

On our way back home, we stopped in Detroit's Greek Town, ate at a diner that still allows smoking (!) and doesn't have fresh fruit on the menu (again, !), and picked up some yummy things at our old favorite bakery, Astoria Pastry Shop. Then, in Battle Creek, we stopped to see my mom at the library for a quick hour while the girls got to play and get some energy out. Willard Library really is the best library, hands down.

Since we've been back, the pace hasn't let up too much, but Spring is definitely in the air. We've been playing with our neighbors, going to Thursday Bible Study, and going to Music Together. (Today was the last day until the new session starts. We really have a great class, and love Irene.)

People also tend to look a little crazy in MT pictures... (*notice Pink Poodle)

Oh, and last Sunday we started something that we hope will become a regular thing with us - Jazz Showcase Sunday Matinee. Our friends Lisa and Claire met us for the 4pm show (Bobby Watson and friends,) and we had a great time listening to music and watching the girls dance. We felt so welcomed there, and love the new space (in the Printer's Row Dearborn Station.) Ooh, I just noticed the Benny Green Trio is coming. Maybe I can convince Mike to go back to see him. If my sister is reading (which is doubtful), do you remember seeing him at the Blue Note ages ago, and the crazy lady in the white pantsuit sitting at our table??

Next on the roster, some birthday parties (these kids just keep getting older!), museum visits, and hopefully, very soon, a trek to the garden to plant some hearty greens!

This last picture just seems to capture the essence of a day in our tiny part of the universe (*notice Pink Poodle)

*Notice Pink Poodle is now Nourit's constant dance partner, confidante, friend, and yes, sadly, sometimes whipping post. Dodo was LEFT BEHIND on Nourit's command for our trip to Canada - yesterday's breakfast, I suppose. I guess the loss of Dodo's second eye was the clincher. She loved him/her through the loss of one eye, repeated neck surgery, and the complete matting of his/her purple hair. But once he/she lost his/her remaining eye, she said "Sayonara, Dodo. You can stay home while I go out with my fancy Pink Poodle."

Monday, March 9, 2009

Avi the Menace

The last few days with Avi have been unbelievable. Even as I write this, she is getting angry at a shoe box for not allowing her to balance on top of it. Everything that is remotely climb-able, she has scaled. She has a fat lip from a fall off a stepstool yesterday, and if we take her off of one thing, she runs as fast as she can to the next thing to get as high as she can before one of us pulls her off. And did I mention, she's angry?? Must be that 11th tooth that I found in her mouth today.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

I'm Sad Because...

As we were getting ready to leave Kyla's house after a short playdate this morning, Nourit's eyes filled with tears and she said to me, "I'm sad because I want to go to Abigail's and play with the girls some more." Kyla was going to spend some time at Abigail's while her mom took Baby Cole to the doctor, and although Nourit was invited, I needed to spend some time at home before going to work and told her we couldn't go this time. For a minute I wanted to give in and just spend the next couple of hours playing with our friends, partially because it sounded way more fun than unpacking the suitcase, and partially because I didn't want Nourit to be sad. But, she accepted it, we went home, and she spent a quiet time playing around the house for the next two hours while I put things in order.

It's so nice to hear her articulate her emotions these days. Sometimes, the reason for the tears doesn't quite make sense, but in this case, it was perfectly normal and understandable. She expressed it in a healthy way and moved on. If only I could articulate my sadness so well.

Today, however, I'm happy because I started to play the piano again. From 7:30am-9:30am, I bashed through Mozart and Brahms, just letting my fingers move and letting my brain try to figure out what to work on in the coming months. The plan is to start to work a little bit every few days, getting back in shape, and working toward a small recital or having some pieces ready to audition for potential piano gigs. The hard part is peeling a sobbing Nourit off my lap as I'm abandoning her for a couple hours of music. I remember that feeling all too well - mom going to work when I felt I needed her most. (That was purely my feeling - she was actually continually present when I was growing up, except for her p/t work at the library, and a year of full-time work once I was in school.) Am I selfish for stealing hours away from time with my girls to do this? Maybe. Will it be a good thing for them to see their mom working toward a goal, and doing something that fulfills her? I think so.