The closest to Normal (Illinois) that I've ever been.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Tantrums and fireflies

This morning we went to the Farmer's Market to buy cheese, bread and organic popcorn. We didn't stay long, though. Joseph was committed to a day-long tantrum entitled: "I hate this day!!" Given that I have no power to bend the laws of space and time, we just had to ride it out. I suspect that Joseph is just having a hard time waiting for his birthday.
Update: the final tantrum occurred just before midnight. Joseph woke up because of urgent digestive needs that he was unwilling to address during the day. Note to self: when building dream house, don't forget the high capacity toilet.

Joseph's tantrum at the Farmer's Market.

We have been bringing Argos to the Bloomington Farmer's Market to help him get over his city-related phobias (gratings, buses, motorcycles, etc). Argos had a GREAT time at the Farmer's Market today: the cheese guy was getting rid of his excess samples of cheese curds, so Argos got to eat a half-bag of the squeeky little treats. He also got lots of loving.

Today we saw fireflies! There are no fireflies in Riverside. Although we go to Baltimore and New York in the summer, we rarely go early enough in the season to see fireflies. I had kind of forgotten about fireflies, so when I saw them for the first time in Normal, I was charmed. The kids had a great time chasing them around the yard.

The end?

This week has been all about transition and nostalgia. It was the last week of school for the kids. Sam's school had lots of hoopla, awards and games. Joseph's school had a picnic, but was much more emotional because most of the kids in Joseph's class were leaving Mulberry School for kindergarten elsewhere.

The Mulberry school picnic.

Sam tested for his green belt today. He did a fine job, although he had more trouble than usual breaking his board. We all went out to Los Patrillos Real Mexican Cuisine after class, and the food was not bad at all. Kelly, who is a Master's student in in my lab and also a brown belt in Sam's TaeKwonDo class left town today. So sad! I will miss her around the lab and socially, and she is great with Sam at TaeKwonDo.

Sam and Kelly sparring

Most nostalgically, Joseph was born five years ago tomorrow. Five years ago in our little house in Riverside, I woke up at 2 in the morning with back pains every 4 minutes. After first turning on all the lights, the television and then stomping loudly around the bedroom without succeeding in waking up Danny, I believe that I may have punched him. Six-and-a-half hours later, Joseph was born. He had black eyes, dark hair that stood up like a troll, and a lump on his head. Sam wanted to have a party for him, so he got Danny to stop and buy a little cake, a balloon and corn dogs.

Videos from Sam's green belt test:
Jumping Sam

Sam doing his forms. Sam is not doing it wrong when he is out of synch--he is the only one testing for green belt, so he has different forms from the other kids.

Sam's first attempt at breaking his board. He got it after a few tries, but we didn't catch it on video.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorable Memorial Day

Today we somewhat spontaneously decided to go to Chicago. Actually, we had planned to go to Chicago today, but we had done absolutely nothing in advance to make this likely to happen. We neglected to wake up early, gas up the car or plan what we would do in Chicago. (Also, we had been out late the night before.) After replanting our shrubbery, we managed to haul out of Normal by noon.

On the ride up to Chicago Joseph's other ear tube fell out. He was so excited! There should be an ear tube fairy to give kids a silver dollar when they lose an ear tube! And of course Danny and I are excited: no more silicon ear plugs when Joseph bathes or swims!!!

People have been telling us to go to the Museum of Science and Industry, but I didn't have high expectations. I was way wrong--this was the BEST MUSEUM EVER! It is a huge place with massively high ceilings stacked with all sorts of eye candy. It is a(n) historic building that has been completely updated with a modern floor plan and flow. The exhibits are current, well-researched and very ($$$) high-tech. The museum also is a happy medium between being slow-paced and hands-on versus being high-throughput (Smithsonian, etc). There were many participatory activities but it was not congested and frustrating.
Also the kids got in for free for the Memorial Day holiday.

We spent as long as we could in The Hall of Transportation where there was a scale model of Chicago complete with working trains.

There was an exhibit called NetWorld which explains how the internet works, information is coded, transmitted, etc. The kids each got a little microchip necklace that codes and sends information throughout NetWorld. Both kids loved dancing around in the hall of 1's and 0's.

Sam climbing the quarterly earnings wall in the toy manufacturing plant.

Joseph enjoys the farm exhibit on poop.

The kids had never been to an IMAX show. They were frantically excited to see "Dinosaurs Alive!" in 3D. Highlights included several grisly life-and-death battles and a dinosaur pooping. There was also the story of a young geologist digging for fossils. For me, the 20-foot tall 3D grad-students in their grubby field clothes were kind of off-putting.

AstroJoseph busting out of his suit, and AstroSam being attacked by a strange alien.

The kids spent a long time in the Genetics exhibit watching the chicks hatch.

After the museum, we went to Reza's, the bestest Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern restaurant of them all! The food was truly fantastic! After having eaten at Reza's, I realize that I have never eaten good authentic Middle-eastern food. (Just crunchy hippie middle-eastern food.) The falafel was fantastic, and the sauces were way better and fresher than anything that I have ever had. The restaurant was historic, ambient and lovely. There were also all sorts of glamorous and dashing middle eastern people having an enormous graduation party with a live band which made things more festive.

Pictures taken by Sam:

The photographer himself.

Pictures taken by Joseph:

The angry young artist.

The ride home. My favorite apartment ad:
"Odyssey Apartments: if you lived here, you would be Homer by now."

Goodbye Chicago!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Darn kids

Last night Danny and I got a babysitter and went over to this guy's surprisingly urban apartment overlooking downtown Bloomington. The apartment was as large as our house with 12-foot ceilings, skylights, hardwood floors and brick walls. There was also the requisite "1/2" address and rickety fire-escape entrance. The place seriously looked like a set from Friends until you looked out of the window to see the sleepy cityscape of Bloomington (ample parking day or night, people shouting Howdy Neighbor). We had a great time eating his gourmet snacks and playing drinking games.

Today I woke up and blearily peered out of the bathroom window to see this:

The rotten kids from ISU have ripped one of our bushes out of the ground and put it on our car. Thanks guys!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

More strange weather

The LA Times reported that two funnel clouds touched down in Riverside, CA today. What an amazing picture! It takes a little strange weather to keep people on their toes. Illinoids are not phased by tornadoes, but are alarmed by earthquakes. Californians are used to earthquakes, but freaked out by tornadoes. Alternatively, maybe both are regionalists who fear the unknown.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

One of us*

Sigh... It finally happened. I lost my link to Web of Science, the best scientific search engine of them all. I have been logging in using my UC Riverside account for the last 9 months, but today my account was rejected. Illinois State University is a relatively small school: it has a patchwork of lesser academic search engines and subscribes to only about half of the journals that I need.

Also, I have 52 days until my site license for JMP expires, and I have to decide whether to wrangle a new license, try to figure out how to get SPSS to do my bidding (I have SPSS, but it and I have a love-hate relationship), or return to the dreaded (but omnipotent) SAS.
So UCR has cut me off. I would guess that my UCR email account will disappear soon, so everyone please use my ISU (ilstu) email account.

I suppose that I was just a little bit smug when I got here with my doctorate from a big UC school with seemingly limitless access to resources. I also had good hair and decently fashionable clothes. Well, now I have no Web of Science, no unlimited journal access or stats software. I have lost my tan. Also, all of my clothes are worn out and I can't replace them. So, I am no longer big city; I am just as Normal as everyone else.


Monday, May 19, 2008

Return of the Farmer's Market

The Bloomington Farmer's Market has started up again! There was not so much produce today due to the extremely cold winter. However, there were plenty of herbs, vegetables and flowers for sale, and I am very excited about my new heirloom tomato plants. There was organic popcorn, cheese, honey, eggs and meat. Also, everyone's favorite: soap made out of goat milk (I hope that it makes you smell like a goat). The kids ate tremendous quantities of cheese curds and french bread. Sam took pictures, which I posted on his blog.

The alpaca woman was at the Farmer's Market plying her wares.

Sam met a Lincoln re-enator who let Sam wear his stovepipe hat. Apparently Lincoln and Mary Todd are trying to start a business giving tours of historically haunted places in Bloomington.

Squeaky fresh locally made organic cheese curds.

Mmmm...heirloom tomatoes. I like mine without eyes.