A Valentine’s Treat


We traditionally don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day, choosing to celebrate the anniversary of our engagement instead as it comes less than a week before and is much more personal an intimate to us. This year, the kids had Hearn friends at ice skating and swim class talking it up, so we decided to do a few little things.

One of those things you can see above, an anatomical gelatin heart. The mold was borrowed, but available on Amazon. We also had a traditional heart shape. The kids loved having them both.

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Jason’s Birthday


For his birthday this year, Jason decided he wanted to go the Shedd Aquarium. We hadn’t been there for quite a while. The weather was real nice as we got on our way, later than hoped as usual. After figuring out that all the signs around about parking restrictions didn’t take affect till the next day and realizing we could park where we were, we parked the van, took the requisite photo of us outside the aquarium, and headed in.

Last time we were here, the Amazon Rising exhibit was under repair. Jason was quite happy to see it open as his list of things to see was topped by penguins and the piranhas. We saw the piranhas first, along with all the other animals in the Amazon exhibit. We had tickets for the 12:30 show in the oceanarium, so that dictated our schedule for a bit.

We spent the day seeing various exhibits. We saw the Wild Reef, the Caribbean Reef, the Jellies exhibit and the gallery of the Great Lakes. This last one had a really fun new exhibit, a touch tank with lake sturgeon. We had previously seen the Jellies exhibit, but this time it was much less crowded, so it was much easier to enjoy.

In general, we like aquariums and this trip to the Shedd was no exception. It would have been nice if we could have avoided some of the traffic we ran into on the way home, but oh well. Jason was more subdued than usual but insists he has a good time. We became members of the Shedd on this trip. We’d let our membership lapse a couple years ago, but now we will certainly be returning.

Happy Birthday big J!





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Malcolm and the glasses


The other day, Malcolm came into the kitchen wearing Emily’s old glasses. Somewhat recently, Em had found place online to buy plastic glasses really cheap. She had been using those glasses for a bit. On a couple of occasions Malcolm has gotten hold of those glasses and snapped the arms off. Since these were her old prescription, and better built glasses, I thought she had enticed Malcolm away from her current glasses with these. I was wrong. He got them himself wither Em’s knowledge. Oh well. He’s cute anyway!


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What Happened?

It’s been quite a while since I last posted and our 2012 Advent Calendar series is unfinished. In the end, it will probably remain so as the posts were not made in a timely fashion. I can say the adventures continued even though the story of those adventures is likely lost.

So, what have we been doing all year? Lots of stuff, but not writing much down. I don’t know what will be written up, but I will try to post more often. Once again. I know. Don’t remind me.

We have a vacation coming up. Jason’s birthday is this Friday and Malcolm’s is next month. We should have some things to write about, and hopefully we will write about them. No promises.

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Advent Calendar Day 16: Movie at a Theater


Following up on yesterday’s trip to a restaurant, we went to a movie theater today to see a movie. This is a rare event for us, and it was Papa and the kids time. Mama stayed home to do some time sensitive work for a certain little girl. We went to the Tivoli Theater and saw Wreck It Ralph.

The layout of the theater ended up being very helpful. Since this was a one parent to four kids situation, it was pretty important to keep together. The big question mark there was Malcolm. We didn’t know if he’d be mesmorized by the movie and sit and watch, or desire to wander and climb the walls. In the end he did a bit of both.

We sat in the last row of seats where there is an isle behind them. I was able to hold Malcolm and he was able to walk around a bit while I was still able to watch over the other kids. It worked perfectly for us.

The kids enjoyed the movie and I think Mama enjoyed the break. It was not the nightmare I had feared and I was very glad for that. I think Malcolm is still a bit young to really enjoy movies in a theater, but I think he’ll be ready sooner than expected. It was a good time and another rarity for the littles. After the movie we walked around the train tracks a couple of times, stopping to look at the tree by the station. When it seemed we’d given Mama enough time, we headed home for some warmth. What adventure awaits us tomorrow?

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Advent Calendar Day 15: Eat at a Restaurant


Having food allergies in the family makes certain things that are normal to most people something really special to us. Eating in a restaurant is an example of such a thing. Not only did we find a restaurant we could go and eat at, it is a train themed restaurant! How perfect!


All Aboard Diner in Downers Grove is a fun little train themed restaurant aimed squarely at the little ones. There is a counter where a train brings food to the diners and in the front is an interactive layout with lots of things moving and lighting up and buttons to press. Here they serve Naked Nuggets and safe french fries. We were also able to verify the ingredients in the condiments. They were really friendly and helpful to us and the kids loved it! The only thing that would have been better is if there were space for un at the counter and the train could have brought us our food.


We couldn’t be happier to have found this wonderful establishment. This was the first time we’ve been to a restaurant all together and eaten as a family since we found out about our allergies about five years ago. What a special day!

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Advent Calendar Day 14: Decorate Small Trees


A great post of Freecycle inspired today’s activity – a lady was giving away 2 small artificial trees – Perfect! We already had two, so now each little could have their own tree to decorate however they wished.

I gave each one $3 to spend at the dollar store and off we went in search of the perfect decorations. It was one of those odd 50* December days we had so many of and, I’m sorry snowbirds, but it’s just hard to get into the Christmas spirit when you barely have to wear a coat outside. Holiday cheer or not – there was decorating to be done!

Mere was very decisive and picked her decorations right away. Malcolm choose two decorations and a roll of wrapping paper. He kept hugging his paper – a boy knows what he likes, I guess! Jason & Daniel took a little more deliberation but finally the agonizing choice of what colors and finishes for their tree were made and we were on our way home.

I think we should decorate little Christmas trees every day! They were kept busy, not fighting and worked so cooperatively for a couple of hours on their trees. Everyone was very pleased w/their final results and really that’s all that matters.

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Advent Calendar Day 13: Movie Night- Shrek the Halls


For our second movie night, Shrek the Halls was the feature selection. This is a great little modern Christmas special and in my mind is second among the newer specials only to Prep and Landing. These are always nice nights. Pretty relaxed and lots of cuddling!

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Advent Calendar Day 12: Decorate the Front Door

Day 12 brought 12 Drummers Drumming, 11 Pipers Piping…oh wait. Wrong 12 days.

We have a glass front insert for our screen door and last year we had so much fun decorating the front door that we decided we definitely had to do it again this year. Dan made the tree out of some brown packing paper that we had and Jason helped me glue it up on door (take Elmer’s glue and water it down, about a 1:1 ratio) by painting the glue on the tree and then positioning it onto the glass. Daniel contributed a robin that he drew and cut out and Malcolm was just the little helper he always is.

Now if only they could agree how they wanted to decorate the rest of the door!

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Advent Calendar Day 11: Christmas Program at the Library


Last year we attended the library’s holiday program, though that wasn’t part of the Advent Calendar. This is a program of stories, songs and crafts put on by the library staff. It’s a fun little family event.

When we first got there, the kids sat at the front, but we had Malcolm with us in the back. He didn’t seem to like that too much, so he made his way up and sat with this siblings. He really had a good time, as did the others. I moved up to help keep an eye on him. Eventually, I convinced Em to join us. We had fun dancing the chicken dance and singing together.


After the stories and music it was time for crafts, and photos with the turkey lady. I didn’t mention the turkey lady? On of the stories was Turkey Christmas and the staff acted the story out, complete with costumes and props. Jason really enjoyed the story, giggling quite a bit. Malcolm seemed smitten by the turkey lady and followed her around.

Back to crafts. There were three crafts available. There were snowflakes to decorate, a banner to make, and felt mice to assemble. We spent time at each table. There was also a couple of pages with stickers to take home, but they worked on those too. We stayed till they were cleaning up and headed home. It was a great little event and we thank the library for putting it on.

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