Monday, May 31, 2010


The Dad, The Boy, The Girl, The Tot and I went to visit Super Grandpa (as The Boy calls him) in Indiana this weekend. Super Grandpa is a nearly lifelong (save his Army time and a stint as a United tech at Midway in the 40s) resident of Syracuse, Indiana (winter population: about 3000). He lives on a channel just off Lake Syracuse (and Lake Wawasee), has a wood workshop in his cavernous garage, and likes to fish off his pontoon boat. He has led a very long, very interesting life (so far). So for the 3-day weekend, along with Grandma & Grandpa Naperville, we went to visit him. 

Grandpa Naperville docks a speedboat at Super Grandpa's property, so we spent much of our time going "full-speed ahead" (says The Tot) around Lake Syracuse. We also took out Big Mable and I spent several hours bumping behind the boat in the wake with (alternately) The Boy, The Girl, and The Dad. The weather was great and the water temperature was amazingly warm for Memorial Day weekend. We also got custard and ice cream at Joe's, spent one very long and uncomfortable night with all 5 of us in the hotel room, spent one night with just The Tot with his parents in the hotel room, which was kind of fun, watched The Boy fish with Grandpa Naperville, and took a sunset cruise along Lake Wawasee with Super Grandpa.

Oh, and I almost forgot: The Tot almost drowned himself in the canal on Saturday. Super Grandpa has a large lot with a large back deck, an expanse of green grass, and then a 1' wide concrete retaining wall before the channel. The Tot was drawn to that retaining wall like bees to pollen. Nothing we did or said could deter him from playing on the wall. And then he went in. Fortunately, The Dad was right there when it happened, so he leaped in after him, scraping his knee on the motor of the speedboat in the process. The Tot and The Dad were both dripping wet and screaming, but fortunately, both were fine afterward. The Tot stayed away from the retaining wall after that. The Dad's iPhone was totaled by the dip in the channel, but an iPhone, while expensive, is replaceable. Our youngest son is not.

We woke up this morning to overcast skies and arrived at Super Grandpa's house from the hotel just before it started to pour, so we waited out the worst of the storm before getting on the road. 

Saturday, May 15, 2010

National Train Day

Dreamed up by Amtrak, presumably to revitalize a dying industry/mode of transportation, National Train Day was an unexpected adventure for The Dad, The Boy, The Girl, The Tot and me last weekend. The marketing materials for the event weren't very robust, leaving us no idea what we'd find on Saturday afternoon at Union Station. Initially, we were overwhelmed by the crowds milling about the central hall, but managed to find some fun along the rails. We got "passports" and got punches at various places. The Tot was transfixed by an infinitesimal Lionel model track with both a very long Amtrak train and a short Thomas train. The highlight for me was walking through several CNR, Illinois Central, and private rail cars. I also learned that there is a rails/national parks program and now I want to go on a rail tour to a national park!

Monday, May 03, 2010

No to 37

How many kids is too many in a classroom? How many can one teacher handle? Shouldn't the focus of a teacher's attention be on teaching his or her students over merely handling them? 

If we thought the threat to PFA last year was bad, this is a million times worse. Thanks to Blago, and before him George Ryan and Jim Edgar, the Illinois budget is a mess.  And if our politicians don't approve a new budget that keeps education funding at its current level before Friday, we are going to be in trouble.  

But: Illinoisians are speaking up and speaking out via CPS parents are speaking up via the Raise Your Hand coalition.