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[The past two weeks have been unruly around here as we've been dealing with some family stuff.  My apologies for not updating more frequently, but you know - it was family stuff, so I'm not really sorry.  Also, this is going to be quick, as my house is still a buzz and things are happening like mad right now.]

THAT SAID – We went to a pumpkin patch, a rite of passage each fall for 99% of Chicago families.  In previous years, we’ve had great experiences at Dollinger Farms, Siegel’s Cottonwood Farm, and Kuiper’s Family Farm, but this year we decided we’d give Didier Farms a chance.

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This place is silly.  Seriously.  It’s loaded with pumpkins and baked goods and amusement park rides and pony and camel rides and it’s a blast.  Unlike some pumpkin patches in the area, you don’t pay anything for admission, but instead purchase tickets to go on the rides/attractions you want to do.  We bought a wad of tickets and let Kiddo go on several rides, which he loved.  Grandma also bought him a pony ride, which he also loved.

But good lord, the pumpkins.  All shapes, sizes, colors, and textures of pumpkins were on display at Didier.  It was one of the most impressive displays of pumpkins I’ve seen around town – Want a giant bumpy pumpkin? They have it.

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We bought a few little pumpkins, some apple cider and pumpkin doughnuts, and spent about an hour wandering around and riding various crazy rides.

Everyone had a great time!
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Hooray for Fall!  (Will write more soon!)

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It’s fully Fall now in Chicago, and we’re right in the middle of our Halloween & Weather unit.  In addition to projects and reading, we listen to a lot of music throughout the day, and I’ve made a playlist for the month that encompasses a wide variety of music — from classical to children’s favorites.

  • October 2014 Playlist –
  • “This is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • “I got the sun in the mornin’ (and the moon at night)” – from Annie Get your Gun
  • The Autumn section from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons
  • “Soon it’s gonna rain” from The Fantasticks
  • “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head” – We’re listening to the Laura Doherty version, but there are several
  • “Singin’ in the Rain” – We’re listening to the Jamie Cullum jazzy version
  • “The Rainbow Connection” – We’re listening to the Jane Monheit and Sarah McLachlan versions (which are pretty darn similar)
  • “Bend Down the Branches” by Tom Waits
  • “Colors of the Wind” from Disney’s Pocahontas
  • “Three Little Pumpkins” by Little Miss Ann
  • “Leaves Fall in the Fall” by Laurie Berkner
  • “The Colors of Paradise” from The Spitfire Grill
  • “The Sun Has Got His Hat On” and “Here Comes the Bogeyman” by Henry Hall

Also, we’ve watched Gene Kelly’s legendary “Singin’ in the Rain” routine – because if there’s a better 5-ish minutes in cinematic history, I don’t know of it.

Just thought I’d share!

 

 

 

We’re going through a rainy week in Chicago, which actually works out for us since this month’s learning is weather-centric.  On Monday morning, my kiddo ran into our bedroom, jumped on me, and asked if we could go to “the park with the red truck” meaning Margate Park, which we used to go to frequently at our old apartment but haven’t been to since we moved.  I obliged, and we got into our rain gear and headed out, getting a good lesson in rain and fog along the way.

We hopped a bus to the very north end of Lincoln Park on Foster Avenue, and walked through the park to the requested playground.  Along the way, we blew dandelions, talked to some very friendly squirrels, and marveled at the thick fog that make the skyline barely visible.

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Of course, we played at Margate Park’s playground for a while.  It’s one of the cutest little parks I’ve been to, with cool features like a red wooden truck for climbing and sprinklers in a lagoon in the summer months.

IMG_20141013_133425084We played until kiddo was exhausted then headed for home, and he took a 3 hour nap – once again proving my theory that outdoor play is the BEST. :)

This week has been a whirlwind of fun and rainy weather. We’ve listened to Vivaldi’s Four Seasons,  watched a Nova special about the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and have introduced Sid the Science Kid.  The kid is very into weather, and has been pretending his trucks are getting carried away by a tornado. ;)

In which my kid turns 3.

IMG_20141005_095215858_HDRMy kiddo turned 3 last week.  As anyone with kids will tell you, a kid’s birthday is a big deal.  We had a pirate party and Grandparents in town and a gaggle of toddlers, babies, and big kids over for an afternoon of playing, snacks, and a special storytime from our good friend Amanda who also happens to have an amazing gift (and extensive background) in children’s theater and education.  It was a blast – and exhausting.  So we’ve been laying low these past few days and dealing with stuff – but we’re back!

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For the first two birthdays this kid celebrated, I went big with the party planning. This year, though my stress level was still high – I have anxiety, I’ll always deal with stress – things were smaller, and better, and my kid had just as much fun.  Rather than trying to squeeze in the baking and decorating of 2 dozen cupcakes into our hectic days, I went simple – and let the good bakery people at Mariano’s do it for me.  We bought 2 dozen chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, and they were delicious.  So delicious that my Mom returned to the store and got another half-dozen to take back to Michigan.  Kiddo was delighted, I saved some time and mess, and everything was good. On his actual birthday, we returned to the bakery at Mariano’s and let him pick out whatever he wanted – and it was this crazy Elmo cupcake.

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Ridiculous, right? He loved it.

Lesson learned: Your 3 year old does not care if you bake his cupcakes/cake.  If baking is your most favorite thing in the world, do it and do it with love and have fun.  I love to bake, but was totally fine with handing this off to professionals.

Having the party was great, and kiddo loved seeing his friends and opening his presents – everything from LEGO to Duplo to My Little Pony and Transformers and books and games.  He also had a blast having his grandparents around for adventuring.

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Happy Birthday, Little Goop.  You’re the coolest! <3

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Don’t buy a MotoX phone.

Real quick – I have this phone, and it works great most of the time. However, the geniuses that built it apparently decided that simply being able to plug your phone into your computer and remove photos was too old-school or something, so they made a complicated mess of things. So now I have 400 photos on my phone from the last month that I cannot get off my phone.  I plug the phone into my computer and… nothing happens. My tech-savvy husband can make it work, but by myself I can’t. When my previous phone – the one with the “unbreakable” Gorilla Glass – got a shattered screen, I went to the Andersonville Verizon store and told them I needed a basic (BASIC!) phone.  The salesdude I got sold me on the MotoX by telling me it was “the most basic smartphone available” – when in reality it’s not. I don’t use a million apps and I don’t care about NFL scores and I use my phone to utilize the internet, maps, text, and mainly as a camera.  This phone takes great pictures, but I can’t get them off the camera and I’m ready to throw it across the room.

GRRRR.  I’m enlisting tech-savvy wonderful husband to do a removal shortly, but I’m super disappointed in Motorola and Verizon, and my trust is gone.

So yeah. That’s why I haven’t yet posted any photos of my son’s wonderful birthday weekend/party or our recent adventures.

Working on it.

melissa

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Talk about utilizing your resources.  Today, a friend and I and our two kids traveled to the Museum of Science and Industry and spent three hours going crazy and roaming around, largely in the weather-focused “Science Storms” exhibit.  From a frugal stand-point, we checked the Kids Museum Passport out of the Chicago Public Library and parked in the pay-to-park south lot, so the admission and parking cost us a grand total of $3.75, which is astonishingly awesome.

But anyway – WEATHER! The kiddos had a great time learning about avalanches, weather balloons, lightening, waves, and magnets through a variety of hands-on activities.  My son, who has been scared of the exhibit in previous visits (it’s dark and there’s lightening demonstrations) totally enjoyed himself and even told me the lightening was fine. “Mama, it’s fine. It’s good and fine.”image

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imageVisiting MSI was a great way to kick off a month of weather-related activities. It’s one of Chicago’s true gems, and I will always visit happily and I always find something I haven’t seen before. I look forward to my next visit – especially to see the “Numbers in Nature” exhibit opening on 10/8!

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