Chicago weekend/Kids’ fall break

We spent this weekend in Chicago, hanging out first in the burbs at the Legoland (and Schaumburg’s enviable Whole Foods), then driving into Chicago to eat at the Rainforest Cafe, see the Field Museum, Shedd, the Planetarium, and the Art Institute. A packed weekend! The kids are really into talking about space right now, along with penguins, Chagall, and figuring out what’s what in Chicago.

Growing up in STL, everyone HATED (hated!) Chicago. I cannot recall hearing statements about Chicago that did not involve “F the Cubs.” But I really love Chicago lately. If only we could enjoy the food! The kids’ tastes are still mostly “pasta without butter or sauce” and “grilled cheese,” but Jake and I did try some sushi Saturday night. Here are some pics:



We break for dinosaurs. We drive for dinosaurs. Basically, if it comes to dinosaurs, we are in. So we drove through the rainstorm Sat to see the Field Museum’s new dinosaur exhibit. It was kind of…well…not what we thought it would be. High on roars, low on information and education. Still, we had fun. M was pretty spooked by it all, regularly holding onto my leg like she did a couple years ago, saying “this is terrifying,” and asking me what every loud sound was. Maybe it was too much for a Saturday morning. Since it poured the entire day across Indiana and in Chicago, we were sort of stuck in the museum once we arrived. But that’s not a terrible place to be stuck for a day. I was so relieved to be home and out of the rain by 8 p.m. Worst rain we’ve ever driven through.

I also made a Halloween haunted house with Madeline after school yesterday:


Fall weekends…

A few pics from the weekend, first with the kids’ friend MJ at Thistleberry Farm:

Yes, we took turns burying each other in a huge vat of corn, and it was both calm and eerie.

Later that day, we met up with some friends for Sukkot and the kids played well together. Mine look fairly wild in this pic:


On Sunday, Madeline and I caught up on our baking:


A very kid focused weekend

We began last weekend with a kids fall fest at their school Friday evening. At 90 degrees, everyone was roasting as they bounced in bounce houses and played games with their school friends. The next day, we headed to Silver Beach in Michigan, an unexpected surprise due to the heat wave. The kids were pretty happy with the decision:

beach pic

The next day, Becca completed a children’s triathlon at the YMCA! I was very proud. And nervous. Becca, not so much. I can’t tell if she knew it was a competition and didn’t care or perhaps she didn’t realize it was a race and she just knew it was something she wanted to experience and complete. Either way, she was very chill and stoic. Pics from the race:

kids swimlaughmedalrun

Madeline, on the other hand, was very jealous. Very. She knew it too, and kept saying, “Mom, I’m so jealous.” One had to be at least six to enter the race, and Madeline still lacks and physical and emotional maturity to enter a race. Poor kid. She is still talking about feeling left out, and it’s 3 days later.

We ran home to shower after the race and then went to our second Lego robotics meeting with friends. A full, busy weekend:

lego robotics

Being a parent

I’ve been thinking about a lot of this stuff lately, so perhaps it will be helpful to write it down.

I worry at times how they will grow up Jewish – will it be the right way and will they understand what being Jewish means? Is being Jewish about Gd? Is it about family? Is it about culture, ancestry, ethics? Yes to all of it. I just wonder at times what they will understand, and when. Right now I feel that they know the Old Testament; they understand holidays, too. They also seem to feel some kind of feeling about being Jewish at times – pride, but also loneliness. Or perhaps I’m projecting? I think a lot of this is really about me and less about them, but still something I think about as we attend High Holiday services and make matzah ball soup and honey cake and go to the Saint Joseph River to recite the Tashlich prayers. What will they take away? What will have meaning for them?

And school, of course. Are they taking too many tests (yes)? Am I putting too much emphasis on knowing math facts quickly (yes)? Is there too much emphasis in 2017 on high test scores and good behavior and too little on creative and critical thinking and independence (yes, yes, yes, yes)? Is there anything I can do about any of this (yes and no)? I can curse No Child Left Behind and do my best to expose them to a range of materials and experiences outside of school.

So now I’m a Lego League Jr. robotics coach with FIRST. They wanted to try it, and here I am, reading about hydroelectricity in between editing my tenure packet and making the honey cake. I’ll update with pics next time I write.