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Of Monsters and Men

I must be a great +1 because Vicky took me as her guest for the WXRT “Live From Studio X” at Martyr’s for a special show from Of Monsters And Men. It was pretty awesome.




After the show they gave away special posters to those who had a stamp on the back of their raffle ticket. Mind did not. Sad. But some nice man gave me his! Happy!


I used a bunch of Michael’s coupons and framed it this weekend so it will soon be on my wall with my Cloud Cult and Retribution Gospel Choir posters. And maybe the Neko Case if I ever get around to framing it.

And you can see a video from the show here!


The Babes in Their Holiday Finery

One of the take aways from the kids holiday pageant at the co-op was that most of the families take dressing their kids for events very seriously. We were no exception.


Yeah. Raven is rocking the tuxedo coat with tails. And a shirt that says “Jingle Bell Rocker.”





River has the Fa la la la la shirt with the super awesome pettiskirt.



They’ve grown up a bit since last years photos! And just a few more from last year-River and Raven and just a little more River!



Holiday Lights in Logan Square

Tuesday, December 18 continued

After the pageant we continued our holiday traditions and went on over to Logan Square to see Frank’s light display. We tried to just let Canyon out of the car but the twins were watching wide eyed from the back so we all loaded out into the night to check out the lights!











River & Raven’s Holiday Pageant

Tuesday December 18


River & Raven made their big stage debut on December 18th in the co-op Christmas Pageant! We invited Aunt Jenny to come watch the show and I am so glad we did. The teachers definitely needed help to wrangle the kids on stage and Jenny jumped right up to help. I so appreciated it because I wanted to be in the audience as a proud mom and not up on stage myself.


The nursery played their bells along to “Jingle Bell Rock.” River had bells in each hand and was pretty thrilled to be making noise. Raven was just thrilled in general.


And it was great to have Jenny to help with the twins off stage too, especially since John was off and running with Canyon all night.


After snacks it was time to see…Santa Claus!
(just for fun-last year’s photos with co-op Santa)IMG_8516

And then it was time for John to make River very happy and all the mom’s in the church very nervous…



River’s pettiskirt from Grandma Mary looked fantastic flying through the air!


It was a fun night and brought back lots of memories of Canyon’s pageants! This is where I am annoyed that I didn’t write a blog post about his first pageant because now I can’t look back it and relive it all.

So we made it through their big performance, a visit with Santa and social time with the other families. That should have been enough fun, but we had one more stop to make…


How Quickly Things Change

Friday December 14, 2012 is divided for me. BEFORE. And AFTER.


In the week leading up to Friday our biggest concern about Canyon and his school was a holiday party.

For a few weeks the school newsletter’s had been getting us excited for a series of holiday festivities-school assemblies, a visit with santa-all leading up to a huge school party sponsored by a local business. John and I are were excited to see Canyon in his classroom performance and looking forward to this party. Then we learned that we were not invited. The events were only for the full time and afternoon students. Canyon is part of the morning classes. He would get cookies and holiday stories. No performance, no Santa, no party. This did not sit well with John or me. We let it fester for about a week and then I finally sent off an e-mail at 2am on Friday morning.

A few highlights.

“I really appreciate so many of the wonderful opportunities that Canyon has at school. We are so happy to be part of the Beard family!

But I did want to say how disappointed we were that Canyon and the morning session children were left out of the majority of the holiday celebrations at school… But then a note was sent home this week announcing that all of those big, fun, events and festivities that had been hyped up to everyone were only for full time and afternoon students and that we were not included. And that felt pretty bad.” and “I know it is a challenge to make things work for an entire population, especially when a small percentage attend only for a few hours a day, but it does mean something to parents and kids. There are so many things that we are not included in because of Canyon’s challenges and I just have to say it sucks to not be included in the one place where he shouldn’t be left out. I wish that our expectations had been managed better from the start or that attending these events had been an option for all students.”

I sent it at 2:10am and the subject line was “Thoughts on not including the morning kids from a disappointed parent”. BEFORE I felt like a strong advocate for inclusion. AFTER I felt like an asshole.

The first response came at 3:06am from Canyon’s teacher. The next came at 5:06am from the Assistant Principle. They wanted to see me in the morning. Great? I am not a fan of confrontation but I really did feel like I was being a strong advocate for inclusion of Canyon and his fellow morning classmates. The meeting was awkward but I am glad that it happened. His poor teacher read that e-mail at 3am because she was still awake, trying to edit a video she had planned to give to the families as her holiday gift. The video wouldn’t transfer and that morning when she took it to the school for help the machine ate it. So she had been up all night. The Assistant Principle was distracted and a bit dismissive. I felt silly in the end. But it it what it is. Whatever. Move on.

We were now running late for our playdate in Skokie. Apple maps sent me down a wrong road, stop lights were not working and I was already worn out before we even arrived at the Exploratorium. Canyon was howling in the car because he was tired and wanted to go home. Then we pulled into the parking lot and he realized where we were. Then he was so excited he could barely contain himself.
We met Augie and Catherine, Wendy and James.

We played. I hate trying to get Canyon to leave somewhere when he is having fun, especially if it’s just because I am tired and want to go. Eventually he seemed played out and made a move for the elevator. All right! We were going home! I changed his wet shirt and we got in the elevator. We rode up and got off on the wrong floor. Canyon wanted to explore and that was fine with me so we ran around the second floor for a bit then back to the elevator. But then he wanted to go back and play some more-so we did!

Finally he really seemed ready to leave and we took the stairs up to the exit. But he didn’t want to go home. He wanted to play on the playground! Sigh. It was a gorgeous December day, nearly 54 degrees and sunny.

I wanted to go home. I wanted coffee. I wanted lunch. Canyon just wanted to play.

Fine. I decided to check Facebook on my phone. I saw some random comments about thoughts going out to Connecticut but didn’t know what they were talking about. Then I read this headline, “BREAKING: School shooting reported at elementary school in Newton, CT” I clicked. “Police:20 children among 26 victims of Connecticut school shooting”. My arm flew up to my face and I chocked back a sob. I couldn’t breathe. I stopped reading.

And there was Canyon. My little boy, smiling and laughing and running and playing.

So incredibly vital. So safe. So alive.

BEFORE. I wanted to go home. AFTER? We played. We played hard. We ran, we climbed, we danced. I was willing to stay as long as he wanted. I would stay until we were scavanging for food in the trash cans if that is what he needed.

When we got to the van I set Canyon up with crackers and milk while I opened the pandora’s box of the internet news. I sobbed. I wrote this: “How quickly everything changes. I was standing on the playground, watching Canyon continue to energetically play long after our official play date had ended. It is a beautiful day but I was worn out and kept trying to bribe my smiling, happy boy with milk and cookies if we could only go back to the van. I wanted coffee. Then I opened Facebook and got as far as the headlines. I threw my arm over my mouth and choked out a sob. Play on Canyon. We will stay here together in the sun, laughing and dancing as long as you want Little Man. Blessed be.”

I finally got us on the road and sent us home. We parked out front and I turned off the engine. And then I sat there and sobbed while Canyon slept. I finally had to call John to come outside. “I can’t get out of the van.” The news was playing in the living room and kitchen. I watched, horrified, exhausted.

That feeling went on for days. For the first days I tried to limit the news. I would allow myself only so much information. Every late afternoon I would sit down in front of the Christmas tree with my coffee while my little ones slept. And I would sob.

I could go on and write about the fears. How when I dressed the twins for co-op I thought about those grieving parents who had sent their children off to school for one last day. I could write about how relieved I was that Canyon’s school had a three week break for the holiday and that I would not have to let him go into a school again until January. I could write about sitting at night and reading tributes to dead children. I could write about how angry I would get when I would read ridiculous poems about how those children were off on a field trip with Jesus. I could write about how I cried reading about the boy with Autism who died in the arms of his aid. I could I could I could.

But instead I will share this, from my bible. The words of Mary Oliver.

Every year
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

~ Mary Oliver ~from “In Black Water Woods”


A Kaleidoscope. A Swarm. A Rabble. Of Butterflies.

12/13 Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

The butterflies were wild with activity on Thursday afternoon. I have been there times when they are just lethargic, hanging out on walls or tree branches. But that day it was hot, the sun was shining and they were fluttering everywhere. I stood still at one point and they flickered around my face like I was a delectable blossom. They fluttered so close I could feel the rustle of wings blow past me like a tiny wind.

Butterfly lunch!

When I was a little girl I called the irridescent dust on a butterflies wings, “fairy dust”. Now I know it is scales.

The dust that comes off on your fingers are actually tiny scales that cover the wings of the butterfly. Butterflies and moths belong to the order Lepidoptera. This name means “scale-wing” in Latin and refers to the scale cell structures found on the wings.

Wings are composed of two fine chitonous or membrane layers which are supported and nourished by veins that run throughout the wings. Tiny sockets in the membranes hold in the individual wing scales which give further support to the wings. In butterflies, these scales overlap in orderly rows just like shingles on a roof. Much like shingles, removing a bunch of them is a bad idea. Without the support of the wing scales, butterfly wings are not as structurally sound and are more likely to break. They are already delicate creatures, so losing that kind of support to their mode of transportation isn’t so good for them.

The ridges in our fingerprints and the oils in our skin are more than enough to pry these wing scales loose with even the lightest of touch. If the scales are removed from both sides of the wings, you will find yourself with a somewhat brittle and transparent wing. Yes, you really can see right through it when the scales are rubbed off. Once removed, these scales will never grow back. Older butterflies will often lose scales to natural attrition, and their wings will appear duller or as if they have tiny pinpoint holes covering them just from the loss of scales.

On the scales themselves:

These tiny wing scales plug into equally tiny sockets on the wings and are individually colored to create the incredible wing patterns which are so appreciated by human observers. The shapes, pigmentation and structures of each wing scale differ greatly. Some scales are structured in such a way that they reflect light rays and can appear iridescent or as different colors from different angles. These scales work almost identically to LED lights.

The first time my heart was broken I wrote a lot of horrible poetry about how I was now a butterfly that couldn’t fly because he had used up all my magic dust, or something like that. It is awesomely awful. I am pretty sure it is around here somewhere and trust me, when I find it, I am so going to post it.

When butterflies die-naturally or at the hands of unruly children or oblivious adults-the volunteers arrange their beautiful corpses on the wall. This had a sad, poetic beauty to it on Thursday. But now, after Friday’s events, it just makes me feel sick.


Nature Museum with Canyon

Thursday is a co-op day for River & Raven so we had some alone time with Canyon. We were feeling like it was a good day to do something special so we headed over to The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. Thursday’s are free admission days for Illinois Residents. We like free.

I like butterflies. They will get a whole post of their own next, but here’s one now!

Canyon liked turning the handles and pulling the levers to make the giant insects fly above his head.

It was hard to catch non-blurry photos of Canyon because he was always in motion, running back and forth between his favorite displays.

Canyon is soooo fast that it is nerve wracking trying to follow him around. I don’t want to look like a giant crazy person thundering after him but if he makes it around a corner before me he can disappear. I hate that feeling of not knowing where he is, even for a few seconds. That’s why tunnels and tubes are great. I know he has to come out one end or the other!

Canyon was exhausted after a full morning of school and museum so he fell asleep as soon as the van started rolling. I grabbed us carry out from Sultan’s Market-my favorite place to eat in that neighborhood and John drove us down to Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful, sunshiney day for a van picnic with a view.


The Tree So Far

Monday we went to a play date at City Kids, a large play space with toys, theme rooms, and free coffee. All three kids had a great time and we left tired and hungry. So we went to Costco and unabashedly became the family who makes a lunch out of warehouse store food samples. Tilapia, egg rolls, hummus with chips,potato soup, panko crusted chicken and kettle corn. Oh, and cookies! The kids all fell asleep in the van so John and I took turns checking out half price day at the thrift store. I scored two really good Toy Story books and a cute dress for river. And a t-shirt for Canyon that has three embroidered yaks on it that says “yak, yak, yak” and “Tibet”. I don’t know why I found that so funny. So we were fed, the kids were asleep and it was December 10th. “Let’s get a tree!”

I ran into Home Depot and searched out the cheap trees, Scotch Pines, 5-8ft only $17.48. I found our tree in about ten minutes. It took the guy forever to help John get it on top of the van. Storm clouds were rolling in and a whimsical bit of snow began to fly.

The tree went in to the stand on the first try. The first milestone was letting the twins see the bare tree, standing tall in our living room. They were suitably impressed for about one minute and then moved on. Next came the lights. Again, mildly impressed, but again, they moved on. Finally the ornaments. John insisted that we play it safe and banned the use of glass ornaments on the tree. I would miss a few of my favorites, but I would rather miss them for one year than lose them forever. (John also has a kitty life-long ban on tinsel ever since he had to pull it out of a kitty butt after Kele De decided tinsel was tasty.) Now lights and ornaments were a much more enticing combo for The Babes…

River and Raven like to take the ornaments off the tree and either hand them to me or leave them in other rooms. If Raven finds an ornament that River has left on the floor he will try to hang it back up. It’s pretty adorable.

I don’t really care much about Christmas but I do love the tree. Even watching “Cars” with Canyon for the zillionth time seems magical when done by the lights of the Christmas tree!

Shaylah always love the Christmas tree but she doesn’t come out to visit unless the kids are asleep. Night time is her time to curl up under the tree and admire the lights.

River likes to start her morning with yanking on a strand of lights, just to see our reaction. We get to say, “look with your eyes, not your hands!”, over and over and over.

So we are 5 days in and the tree is still standing, no ornaments have been destroyed. Oh man. I just realized we haven’t watered that thing since Tuesday.