Comedy of Errors: Shakespeare for Children

The Chicago Shakespeare Theater was kind enough to provide complimentary tickets for me to bring my family to the opening day of Shakespeare’s Comedy of Errors. While I usually dread going to Navy Pier because of the steep parking tab, I jumped at the opportunity to introduce Eva, age 7, and Charlie, age 4, to Shakespeare. Even though I have a degree in English Education and therefore have studied and taught Shakespeare, I could not recall this particular play. No matter, the synopsis is provided in the program. Just before the performance was to begin, I read and explained the story to Eva. When she responded with a, “huh?” I became worried and told myself that since it was a mere 75 minutes long, it would not matter so much if she understood it. As for Charlie, I just prayed he would be able to sit still and behave.

As soon as the performance began, the laughs came simultaneously and my anxiety quickly disappeared. This play had it all — slapstick physical comedy, romance, jugglers, cross-dressing, and drama. Yes, I did have to lean over to Eva a couple of times to explain, “You see, she thinks he is her wife, but he is really the wife’s husband’s twin brother, ” and, “No, the two servants have the same name and they look alike.” She really seemed to get the hilarity surrounding confusing the lookalikes. As for Charlie, my four-year-old, I don’t think he understood one bit of the story, but he enjoyed it on his own level nevertheless. He laughed at all the right times. When I asked him to tell me his favorite part, he exclaimed, “All of it!” As for Eva, she liked the mustached man dressed up as the wife of one of the twin brother servants (Strangely, this was my husband’s favorite part as well). As befitting a children’s performance, the lights go up after the show and the audience is encouraged to ask the cast members any questions they may have. Following that, the cast members mingle with the audience in the lobby.

I was especially amazed that the children did not complain about the Shakespearean language. Before the show officially began, one of the actors wisely “warned” the audience that the language would seem difficult at first but to give it a chance and rely on the context instead of getting hung up on understanding every little word. During our lunch following the show, I asked the children whether they had trouble understanding what the actors were saying. They looked at me curiously and answered with a resounding, “No!” I’m so happy that this was their first experience with Shakespeare. They had fun! When I told them that William Shakespeare was one of the greatest storytellers of all time, I think they really believed me. Try telling that to a group of high schoolers faced with reading the stuff and you get a room full of eye rolls. Oh, and as for that supposedly steep parking tab, the theater validates and it only came to $14.40. Thank you Chicago Shakespeare Theater!

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My Family Has Been Picked Off the Family Tree

Read my latest post on Chicago Moms Blog here regarding my feelings about my brother-in-law and his wife who have decided to cease all communication with us, including Eva and Charlie. The latest is they sent back the Christmas gifts and birthday present we dropped off for my young nieces. Now they have me wondering, did they tell them we died? How are they explaining our absence from a birthday party and holiday celebrations? When my husband, Eva, Charlie and I were confronted with the returned gifts on our doorstep as we left to see the Nutcracker Ballet this Sunday, naturally we were bombarded with questions, “Why are these presents for our cousins back here again?” We were forced to try to explain that “Daddy’s brother is angry at Daddy right now and he’s not considering other people’s feelings.” However, getting these presents back was heart-wrenching for all of us and I’m going to need to “let it go” as my mom and dad have been advising me. If someone is so warped and twisted that they would involve children in an adult dispute then perhaps it is best we distance ourselves from them as well. We’re all sad and angry and we hope they will choose to take us back into their hearts soon.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

baseballThe whole family went to a baseball game out in Schaumburg, Illinois. Read about our wonderful time and why it doesn’t matter whether you are a Sox or a Cubs fan, and why you should take your family to a Flyers game at Chicago Moms Blog here.

Family Time to Lift My Spirits

sheddGadget Man has been off of work this week on vacation and since Eva started second grade on Wednesday, we decided to take Charlie on a family of three outing to the Shedd Aquarium in the big city. We were happily surprised to find a “dress rehearsal” of Fantasea, their new dolphin show which is so much more than a dolphin show now. Gone are the “don’t litter” lectures and the endless blabbing on of the marine biologists. What they have done is quite magical. Gadget Man and I speculated someone consulted Disney for this new show. Costumes, lights, a boat which flies across the pool and umbrella toting divers dressed in dolphin outfits appear a la Mary Poppins style and drop into the water unexpectedly. The belugas, hawks and penguins join the dolphins for this spectacular show. The only downer was a special pre-show film narrated by Bill Kurtis of how they had to fly the belugas to Connecticut for nine months while the the Shedd was renovated. I can’t believe they couldn’t find or build something suitable and it was better to fly the whales on a plane! I guess I’ve been watching too much Whale Wars and I’ve really come to love those guys. When Fantasea officially comes out go see it!!!

Read “Jealousy” on Chicago Moms Blog

greeneyedmonsterPlease read my post “Jealousy” on Chicago Moms Blog where I contemplate why the news of my ex-boyfriend’s third child on the way makes me feel jealous (and then I feel angry for feeling jealous — ugh!).

Hand Over the Controls!

comcast remote control

comcast remote control

Ugh! Gadget Man and I are such a cliche. He won’t ever let me hold the clicker to the television. Yes, I know it is called a “remote control,” but I am from a generation where the control was first called a “clicker” and I can’t stop myself from using that term. Anyway, Gadget Man likes the t.v. loud. No, LOUD. Having something blaring so loud it is pounding into my head and chest is not my idea of relaxation. Indeed, that defeats the purpose of watching television in the first place. Last night, Gadget Man would not hand over the controls (once again) and the Blue Ray movie we were watching kept getting louder then softer then louder again. Gadget Man refused to respond to this volume anarchy by turning it up and down as needed. I would have, but he would not let me have it. He treats me like a child. “May I please have the remote?” “No, just relax.” “Please, if you are not going to use it, why can’t I hold it.” “Just relax, will you?” Relax? Excuse me? The t.v. is blaring, I’m worried the children will wake up and I don’t like it sooooo loud. Why should I suffer hearing loss just because he has it too? He simply won’t let me have it. What should I do, wrestle him for it? Last night, when the movie was over, he decided he was going to bed. I wanted to watch a little Dick Van Dyke and I had no idea where the controls were. “Where’s the fu-king clicker?” Ok, so I’m not Miss Manners. “Right here!” He yelled and then threw it at me. It landed next to me on the couch, but I did not appreciate this behavior. Turns out, he didn’t appreciate the way I asked for the controls. Anyway, I was too steamed to apologize and so was he. All I can say is, “Oh, Rob!”


My New “Gas Game”

pedal pusher

Personally, I’m happy that gas prices are high because people are finally looking to public transportation, working closer to home, biking and walking places. Although the earth is surely benefiting from a lesser consumption of fossil fuels, I hate that the oil companies are enjoying record profits. If gas prices have to be so high, I’d like it to be because the profits are going to researching cleaner alternative fuels or to improving and expanding the public transportation system.

Anyway, I have a new game I play with myself when I am in the car. I try to keep my miles per gallon as high as possible. My small wagon is equipped with a gadget that tells me exactly the miles per gallon I am getting moment by moment. With another hit of a button, it tells me what the average is based on the last time I filled the tank. I watch these numbers constantly. My goal is to keep the average above 20 miles per gallon. As of yesterday, it was over 22! How do I do this? Well, I have completely changed my driving habits. Through trial and error, I have learned that the best way to keep up the miles per gallon is to use my cruise control. On cruise control, I can get anywhere between 30-55 miles per gallon (that is, while I am in cruise control). The biggest gas guzzling times are, obviously, when I am coming off a stop and pressing on the gas. At those times, I get 5-10 miles per gallon. I used to “put the petal to the metal” off a stop light to see whether I could beat the car next to me. I have totally stopped doing that now. That’s just dumb b/c it wastes gas. Another way I save gas is I go the speed limit. I no longer care that it feels like I’m crawling at 25 or 30 mph. If that is the speed limit, that is what I do. I’m not in a hurry, I’m saving money.

I’d like to formally issue a challenge to Gadget Man (and to you out there). What’s the best average you can do? What are you doing to improve your gas mileage? At the very least, I urge Gadget Man to stop driving with the air conditioning on and the windows open — this kills me! The second thing he could do is to ease up on the gas pedal. I get nauseous from all the harsh stopping and starting whenever he drives. I wish you all luck in your own gas game.