Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve Chicago Kid Style

Our New Year's Eve celebration began at 10:00 a.m. (yes, you read that correctly) on the 31st. We met Charlotte's buddy Taylor and her parents at the Navy Pier Winter Wonderfest. For lack of a better description, Winter Wonderfest is an indoor amusement park with a winter and holiday theme that is staged in the big festival hall at Navy Pier. It is nothing short of spectacular!

Right at the entrance, Charlotte was hooked. She fell in love with the decorations, especially the inflatable bear.

Then she hit the slides (inflatable and traditional). Rode her first Ferris wheel and LOVED it. Found the perfect horse on a carousel. And we all took a train ride. (That's Susan and Taylor with us, not to be mistaken for Aunt Sue and cousin Taylor!) We joked that the girls' pictures will always be their moms and them because their Dads were taking the all the photos!

And, we also decorated (and ate) sugar cookies at the Ginger Bread House.

This is Charlotte's homage to Heath Ledger.

Later, Charlotte had some McDonald's french fries and a few bites of burger. It was a super-exciting fun morning. Charlotte was wiped out and took a 4-hour nap!

I think Charlotte would like it to be New Year's Eve every day!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Hanukah!

The best part of Hanukah when you're 3-years old? The presents. Tonight Charlotte got her very own guitar! I think she would have slept with it if we'd let her.

Or is it Chanukah? Or Hanukkah? Does it really matter?
A Hanukah Story to share with you:
Every month Charlotte's teacher, Celine, works with a theme. This month the theme has been "the holidays" which has mostly meant Christmas. The children have made a lot of Christmas trees--CĂ©line uses the "art" projects to teach basic math skills like matching and patterns, and to work on fine motor skills (like putting small items in glue to decorate). Since it is a French school, the teaching of the holidays is "secular." That is, they learn about Santa and reindeer, but not about the religious meaning of the holiday. Still, I was getting a bit overwhelmed by talk of Christmas tree projects and by seeing nothing but said trees, ornaments, and the like hanging in the hallways.

So, Friday was the last day of school before break. Charlotte climbed into the car and immediately pulled out of her backpack a bag of Hanukah gelt!!! (The chocolate kind.) She proceeded to explain that her teachers had given everyone a bag of gelt and had talked about Hanukah in class. They played with a dreidel and everyone put a candle in a menorah.
I cannot begin to express how touched I was.
This weekend Charlotte made a menorah. I sometimes feel that she gets cheated out of some Jewish holiday learning because she doesn't go to Jewish pre-school. So, when I saw a homemade menorah at our temple Hanukah party, I got inspired. Charlotte did everything except hot-gluing the nuts and bolts. Check it out: