Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Pondering pesos

The best $6 we've spent: two rickety bicycle rentals at Coba, the rather spread-out ancient Mayan ruins Josh and I explored on our own (we left Z with my Mom and Rick).

The worst $8 we've spent: Day rental of 2 lounge chairs and a beach umbrella in Playa Del Carmen. The wind was so gusty Z refused to leave the shelter of the chairs and the view was dominated by topless European women and (more unattractively) ultra-bronzed Euro men in neon thongs. We lasted maybe 45 minutes.

Priceless: Being a member of the secret society of parents of young children. Z spiked a fever last night and I sent Josh off in search of some Children's Tylenol--or its Mexican equivalent. But rather than head to the understocked and overpriced Super Chomak in central Akumal, he stopped the first parent of a toddler he saw (just outside the condo). Naturally, they were more prepared than us and they graciously lent us a full bottle of the stuff.

Just like last year, we've befriended lots of families with kids between the ages of 18 months and 4. Z is drawn to other children like a magnet, but she spends half of her socializing time saying "I don't wanna share my toys." I guess when all you have is a bucket, rake and shovel, you get pretty possessive.

I'll be packing up our sandy belongings tomorrow. It feels just a little too soon.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Back underwater

Aside from a quick dip in Yal-Ku lagoon, I had largely avoided snorkeling so far on this trip. I had a really bad experience last year, heading out in choppy water only to get sucked under by a viscious undertow. I swallowed a gallon of salt water before thinking to myself: I am not going to die snorkeling as my 1 year old daughter naps on shore.

So it was with my heart pounding that I grabbed my mother's snorkel and fins and headed out into Half Moon Bay. But soon my fears subsided. The current was much, much calmer and the coral seemed to have recovered quite a bit since last year, when it had just taken a hurricane's beating. It was breathtaking, actually. I swam alongside a sea turtle and followed a giant gray stingray and a smaller black and white spotted ray. Spiny sea urchins and schools of tropical fish in every color were everywhere I looked. The only thing that marred the experience for me was the overwhelming sense that this underwater beauty is fragile and may very well not last long enough for my children to enjoy it.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Sun, sand and swim diapers

Just a quick note from Akumal, Mexico, where we've been since Thursday afternoon. Our flight from Chicago to Cancun was uneventful. We rented a crappy little Nissan and headed south on the 307, stopping halfway to stock up on groceries, diapers and a bucket of sand toys at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Playa Del Carmen.

My Mom and her boyfriend had already checked into our two bedroom condo, and Z took one glance at the place and yelled, "The beach! I need sunblock! I need my swimsuit! And my new toys!" She's been in heaven ever since, alternating between all of her favorite activities: digging in the sand, "swimming" in the ocean with us and demanding that books be read to her by all present. She's eating well too, gorging on Mexican food, Raisin Bran and the best homemade ice cream in Riviera Maya (imagine flavors like ginger, caramel and mango). And Mexico has one child-friendly item I wish was more available in the U.S. -- shelf-stable "juice boxes" of 2% milk.

We haven't ventured outside of Akumal yet, but Tulum and some nearby cenotes (underground springs/rivers) are on the agenda for the next couple of days.

La beuna vida!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Are you pro-bacteria?

Apparently marketers believe probiotic foods are the next oat bran, which became a food sensation after it was shown to lower cholesterol back in the 1980s. Dannon Activia is a runaway success, and other food makers are rushing probiotic foods to market.

I wasn't paying much attention to probiotics until my doctor recommended I take probiotic capsules before, during and after our trip to Mexico. Apparently all that good bacteria will build up my guts defenses, making me less susceptible to Montezuma's Revenge. For those of you who don't know, mothers-to-be need to avoid diarrhea because stomach remedies like Pepto-Bismol and Imodium are off-limits.

But while I'll be regular, blog posts will not be. Starting tomorrow, I'll be on vacation!

Z says

"I love my boo-boos. Cause when I get an owie, I get a Band-Aid!"
"At doctor's office, we can look at Mommy's belly button? Listen to the baby?" (No, this appointment was for my foot, not my fetus.)
"We had lots of fun at the doctor's office." (Toys, stickers and Band-Aids for Z, liquid nitrogen for Mommy's foot)
"Adrian wants milk from Adriana's boobies." (Referring to her day care provider, who is nursing her 1-month-old)
"I don't like banilla baby yogurt. I want banana!" (I wish Stonyfield Farms would sell an all-banana 6 pack of Yo Baby.)
"I need to go to work. I'm going to a concert!" (Yes, she's her daddy's girl.)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Good morning sunshine

OK, she's fully dressed and hanging out in our bed, but isn't she the cutest?

15 1/2 week belly

This photo, on the other hand, was taken before 7am. Note the hair still wet from the shower.

If you can't get even, get mad

My friend Nancy had her car totaled by a hit-and-run driver last week, and she's getting the royal runaround from Allstate. I encouraged her to submit her horror story to Consumerist and she did. Check it out.

Do you have people?

Tax prep specialists and scum of the Earth H and R Block have a new ad campaign which just makes my skin crawl. The tagline: "You got people." (The tag follows an everyday person declaring, "I got people.") Icky ick! False intimacy together with terrible grammar. And a ghettoisms from a major financial company? That just makes them seem even more shady.

I don't have people. I have an accountant.

Monday, January 22, 2007

School lunch

I spent Saturday afternoon at the University of Chicago's annual Taking the Next Step, a very impressive career event for third-years. I first represented the Advertising/Marketing/PR industry back in 2005, and since last year I had to call in sick, I think I was demoted from panelist to lunch round table panelist this time around. That means that rather than taking questions from an audience of students, I joined a bunch of students and two other alumni at a table in the ballroom.

The third-years, while initially shy and reserved, asked pretty smart questions about our career paths and the pros and cons of our field. But what was most gratifying was that I recognized one of my co-panelists. She was a fiesty student two years ago and now she is working as an account executive at Leo Burnett (although she's marketing discount cigs via direct mail, ick). The account exec and I were able to cover breaking into agency life, while the other panelist reminded the students that not all marketers write headlines and brand plans. He was a trader turned finance grad student who now covers the less glamorous side of marketing: the product, price, packaging piece of it.

Needless to say, nothing like this existed for me when I was a U of C student. I'm all to happy to help the University broaden students professional horizons beyond grad school and consulting.

Three little monkeys

Z joins her friends Lia and Annelise in Annelise's new big girl bed Sunday afternoon. Z's going to be making the move to a hand-me-down toddler bed in the next few weeks. (Thanks for the picture, Stacie.)

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Weekend highlights

Sports highlight 1: Our Chavurah had an adults-only evening featuring Cuban food and bowling and I don't know if it was the added weight around my midsection or the fact that I'd never bowled completely sober before, but I managed a bowling score of 100 during both of the games I played. I usually score in the 45-65 point range.

Sports highlight 2: The Bears trounced the New Orleans Saints, which means Chicago's going to the Super Bowl for the first time in over 20 years. I am not a football fan, but I'm excited for my city. The burning question: will there be another Super Bowl Shuffle?

And, for some non-athletic highlights, I thought I'd round of a couple of the latest things to come out of Z's mouth.

"You look like a zebra, Daddy." (Josh was wearing a black, gray and white striped shirt this morning.)
"This store has a whole candy section!" (At Target, which does indeed have a whole "Want Sweet?" aisle)
"I want dos! Dos are only for girls who go potty." (In the Target snack food aisle, pointing at some awful looking food called YoGos)
"I'm wearing a diaper, Mommy?" (Said moments before a blissful look crossed her face and her diaper became sopping wet)

Friday, January 19, 2007

Chewing the fat with Portillo's

One of my New Year's resolutions has been to avoid trans fats, and while it is very easy to locate the forbidden oils in packaged goods since trans fats are listed on nutrition labels, it is much harder to learn if the doughnut or muffin from the local coffee shop is trans fat free. Although, thanks to media attention to this issue, I can say with confidence that Dunkin Donuts doughnuts have trans fats (their muffins do not) and Starbucks baked goods are trans fat free (although that doesn't make them healthy).

I don't eat much fast food, but I know that McDonald's and Burger King are still using trans fats. Wendy's and KFC are moving away from them and Chipotle and Au Bon Pain are trans fat free zones. But what about Portillo's, the local hot dog chain where we do occasionally indulge in some greasy fare? Well, I checked out their website and couldn't find any nutritional information at all. So I wrote a letter. Here's my missive and their prompt, but overly technical response.

Dear Portillo's,

I am a fan of your restaurants, but I am concerned about trans fats. I
was disappointed not to find any nutritional information on your
website, and I need to know, before returning for a hot dog and fries,
if your menu items are cooked in trans fats or if you are using a trans
fat-free cooking oil.

Thank you in advance.

Dear Alma,

Thank you for your E-mail. The requirement to provide nutritional
information is a constantly changing area of government regulations.
At the current time, state and federal law requires labeling of those
items sold as retail grocery. Items sold at restaurants are exempt.

We continue to watch this area so we can remain in compliance.
However, at this time, the information you seek is unavailable
and we are unable to comply with your request.
Portillo's is a privately held business, with a limited number
of stores. We do not franchise our restaurants. The cost of
testing to obtain nutritional information and keeping such
information current and correct is prohibitive. While we manufacture
some of our products, we source many products from multiple suppliers
with varying specifications. This fluctuation in purchasing
would create the need for prolonged and repeated testing
making it extremely difficult to generate a concise and accurate
report on the nutritional values of all of our menu items.
We appreciate having the opportunity to explain.

To answer your question regarding the oil used to cook our French
fries, it does contain trans fats.

Cassie Chytracek
The Portillo Restaurant Group

Curly girls unite

If this New York Times trend story is to be believed, we curly-haired gals are finally embracing our natural locks (well, with a lot of help from the 70-odd frizz-fighting products introduced this year).

Unable to manage a blowout myself, I threw out my brush and bought my first bottle of Frizz-Ease back in 2001, when the flat-ironed look was still, er, hot. And I've tried dozens of serums, lotions, creams and sprays in my quest for frizz-free curls.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Consumer Reports retracts car seat report

The blogosphere was abuzz a few weeks ago when Consumer Reports released findings that said most infant car seats were unsafe, failing crash tests at relatively low speeds. But now, given information from NTSB on how their crash simulations may have been flawed, Consumers Union has retracted its report pending further tests.

For your little underachiever

Move over Baby Einstein, Baby Bush toys are developmentally appropriate toys for your future C student. Invest in his or her childhood with these toys and, who knows, your little puddle of drool could someday lead the free world.

Hmm, George Bush does have one thing in common with toddlers. He likes to place things (like, oh, our country...Iraq...the environment) into the toilet.

Monday, January 15, 2007

It's a small world after all

As if getting together with our playgroup two days in a row wasn't stimulation enough, Z made a new friend today. And, much like the story of how I met Gloria (and Z her daughter Lia), this one involves both happenstance and friends of friends.

You see, I went to my first session of prenatal yoga at the park district Saturday morning, and Sarah, the woman closest to my due date, looked vaguely familiar. But when she mentioned she had a two-year-old girl, I figured I'd probably just seen her at the pool or the library, both popular mom-and-toddler hangouts. So imagine my surprise when, after the class was over, she mentioned that we shared a mutual friend, Erica. Now Erica doesn't live in Chicago; she went to high school with Josh outside Philly. So I'm all "You remember me from Erica's wedding?" Turns out she wasn't a total savant; Erica had told her that we live in Oak Park and have kids the same age. And that's no lie: Maddy and Z were born one day apart. And now Sarah and I are expecting our second children three weeks apart.

Anyway, Sarah and daughter came over to play this afternoon and our girls got on famously, sharing beautifully, dancing up a storm and playing together. I liked Sarah a lot too, but we didn't play ring-around-the-rosy or dress up like princesses. [Thanks for the long-distance introduction, Erica! Any contractions yet?]

Waisting space

It's not like my first pregnancy was so very long ago, but I don't remember hearing about the Bella Band when I was expecting Z. I did the usual trick of extending the waistband of my pre-pregnancy jeans with a strategically wrapped hair elastic, but once my belly had grown an inch or two, it was up to me to buy bigger clothes or make the switch to maternity pants.

Anyway, the hair elastics quit doing the trick for me about a week ago, so I packed up all my regular clothes this weekend. Then, depressed with how sloppy my too-big maternity pants looked, I made one last call to Oak Park's Majamas store. And low and behold, they'd finally received a shipment of Bella Bands. I stopped in, bought one in black with the gift certificate Josh gave me for Chanukah and prompted returned home to unpack all my regular pants.

I didn't really believe the elastic fabric would effectively smooth out the bumps and zippers of an unbuttoned, unzipped fly, but it does just that. The packaging also claims using the band will help you "wear fun maternity outfits a little sooner," which is a pretty humorous sentence to anyone who has ever worn maternity clothes. But I can see how the band can be used to convert those under the belly waistbands that tend to hang a little to low on us small-hipped gals into more securely positioned over the belly garments.

Friday, January 12, 2007

From the mouth of a babe

So while I was putting Z to bed tonight, we were saying night-night to all her friends and I said "Goodnight Beth B." Beth is a high school classmate of Josh's whom I became friends with while she lived in Chicago. She was Z's very first babysitter (at just 4 weeks!) and we've missed her terribly since she moved to Texas for her medical residency.

Anyway, Z immediately responded with "Where'd Beth B. go?"

"She's in Texas," I said "Probably going to sleep. Do you think she has an aquarium like yours?"

"Beth B. has a crib?"

"Now, she sleeps in a big girl bed."

"No, she doesn't sleep in a big girl bed. She sleeps in a BIG bed." (Here I think she's distinguishing a non-crib kid bed from an adult bed.)

"You're right, Z, she sleeps in a big bed."

"She has an aquarium in the big bed?"

"No, she probably doesn't have an aquarium. It is for cribs."

"Beth B. bought me my doctor book. It's a doctor story. It was a present."

This kid will make an excellent politician or at least a damned good sales rep. She never forgets a name, a face or a favor.

Putting the kid on a leash

There's a very lively discussion at Blogging Baby on the pros and cons of toddler harnesses. I have to admit, I was horrified by baby leashes at one point myself. Now I'm tempted to get one. Z's reasonably good at staying close by, but I'm still terrified of having her dart into traffic or in front of a car in a parking lot. And it is impossible to confine that girl to a stroller. And this monkey backpack-style harness is awfully cute.

Calling Oz for free

When I read on Consumerist that was offering free international calls, I decided to give it a try. I dialed 712-858-8094 on my mobile phone (free domestic long distance), listened through the Mandarin, Spanish and English prompts and dialed my sister's home number in Australia.

A few seconds later I heard her phone ringing. And while the connection wasn't crystal clear and it eventually cut out altogether, I have a feeling that was more due to my cell phone and international long distance in general that the fact that I was connecting through Iowa.

And it's a good thing I got through. I got to hear the horror story that unfolded after my brother-in-law ate some sketchy-looking fish from a stall in Bali. Suffice it to say the tale involves passing out on a plane from food poisoning and being revived with oxygen before being spirited away by ambulance to a Melbourne hospital. And still making the connection home to Sydney.

Feel better Simon!

Thursday, January 11, 2007


If you liked Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, check out Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die. Brothers Chip and Dan Heath take Gladwell's notion of stickiness (which is similar but not identical to Seth Godin's "sneezing") and provide a workable formula for creating sticky ideas. Because while The Tipping Point is an interesting read, it is tough to apply its principles to marketing work. It's just a little too abstract. By contrast, Made to Stick is like an entertaining class taught by a really great professor. They've structured their book so their notion of stickiness sticks with you.

So what are the common elements of stickiness--be it an urban legend, great advertising or a company motto? The authors name five key ingredients: an unexpected outcome, lots of concrete details that we remember, emotion, simplicity and credibility--all wrapped up in an easily told (and retold) story format. Each one of these elements is illustrated with highly entertaining anecdotes and case studies. I've even found myself enjoying the "homework" exercises in the sidebars. In one exercise, we're challenged to think up as many white things as we can in 15 seconds. Then, we have to think of all of the white things we might find in our refrigerator in the same short period of time. The second task is far more limiting, but its concreteness makes the details more easy to recall.

I plan to expense this book, and while it may not lead me to the next big idea (and we are heading into brand planning season), I think it will be a critical resource for selling those big ideas. I'm going to finish it tomorrow and get in in the hands of our EVP Creative Director no later than Monday. Because it's no fun getting fired up about something unless you've got an ally in implementation.

P.S. While you wait for your Amazon order to arrive, check out the book's website.

Trader Joe's

Away with Words manages to capture exactly how Josh and I (and plenty of others!) feel about Trader Joe's.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Taking action on FMLA

I sent the following email to the U.S. Department of Labor, which is seeking comments on the Family and Medical Leave Act.

Subject: Don't scale back FMLA, expand it

U.S. Department of Labor,

I heard from MomsRising that corporate opposition may threaten the U.S. Department of Labor's Family Medical Leave Act, and I want to add my voice to the chorus of women and men who don't just want the law maintained--we want it expanded to provide paid leave to working parents.

I had my first child in 2004 and I am expecting my second in 2007. I needed those 3 months at home to bond with my new baby, establish a routine and physically and emotionally adjust to parenthood. Six or eight weeks of disability simply wouldn't have been sufficient.

I am fortunate that I was able to budget for the unpaid portion of my leave, but I know not all workers are in such a position. If our country is as family-focused as we claim to be, we should give all infants the healthy start they need--a 3-6 months with their parents. And those parents need the financial security of paid leave to make that happen.

A Harvard study of 168 countries found that only 4 don't offer some form of paid leave for new mothers. Our country shares that honor with the likes of Papua New Guinea, Swaziland and Lesotho--hardly the most progressive places on the planet.

FMLA is good policy for families, for our children, and for businesses. The most successful companies in the country are those that haven't waited for government legislation; they've attracted and retained the best employees with generous maternity and paternity leave policies.

I am a cliche

What can I say? When I'm pregnant, I crave pickles. (And Mexican food, but that will be a future post.)

The salt-sour urge hit me early this afternoon, and since my workload is light today, I dashed downstairs to see if the deli/convenience store in the lobby carried pickles. Indeed they did, great big Freestone Kosher Sour Dills individually polybagged in neon green pickle juice.

For $1.42 including tax, I fed my need and fulfilled nearly 100 percent of my body's daily allowance of sodium. Because--get this--my individually wrapped pickle contained five servings. Who are they kidding? Was I supposed to round up four friends and share my dillicious snack?

Site of the day

I love the tips, tricks and humor real-life parents post to Parent Hacks. I just learned that I can refill the Kandoo foaming hand soap Z loves so much with watered down liquid soap (1/3 soap, 2/3 water)!

2006 warmest on record for US

Britain's Meteorological Office reported yesterday that the average temperature for the 48 states last year was 55 degrees -- 2.2 degrees warmer than average and 0.07 degrees warmer than 1998, the previous warmest year on record. Worldwide, 2006 was the sixth warmest year on record.

Here are the world's six warmest years since the 1890s (starting with the warmest)

I think the pattern here is clear. We all need to take steps to slow down global warming while we prepare for life on a very different planet.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Our first potty training success

To my friends without kids, go ahead and skip this entry. Please.

Tonight, after I'd stripped her clothes off and started running her bath, Z ran up to me holding her crotch shouting "My 'gina, my 'gina!" I asked her what was wrong and she said "Pee's ready to come out." I jumped into action, placing the potty seat on the toilet and offering her a choice between that and her potty chair. She chose the chair, but nothing happened. "I want a diaper," she said, but she agreed to hop in the tub instead.

As soon as her feet hit the warm water, she insisted "I need a diaper," and her body language definitely indicated a major need to go. I popped her back on the potty chair and went into cheerleader mode saying "Pee-pee wants to come out! Pee-pee's ready to come out of your body! I'm so sure you can do it I'm going to run downstairs and grab an M&M for you."

I raced down, and as I was coming back up, taking the steps 2 and 3 at a time, I heard her say, "Mommy, I made water!"

She was thrilled to flush her pee away and call Daddy to share the good news. I'm sure she won't be truly potty trained for a few months at least, but now she knows she can go in the potty instead of a diaper.

Monday, January 08, 2007


I just finished Joshilyn Jackson's Gods in Alabama, and I truly enjoyed it. Couldn't put it down, really.

There are so many twists and turns I don't want to preview the plot at all. Just read it and know that is isn't going where you think it's going. But once you get there, it all makes sense.

Your daily funny: My Box in a Box

Some unknown singer has created a video response to the SNL/YouTube phenomenon that was JT's Christmas Box.


I've got a bad case of I-wish-I'd-thought-of-that. Advertising for Peanuts commends O&M Mumbai for this brilliant Kleenex ad. A teen magazine's agony column...printed on Kleenex tissue. "This new school of advertising is smart but it's also relevant, it's true, it actually sells the product and best of all it's not really even advertising."

From the mouth of a babe

And now for the part of my blog that will haunt my daughter's preteen and teenage years. The part where I capture some of the adorable-yet-terribly-embarrassing things that come out of her mouth. Gems like...

"Baby Reid has a penis." (She said this to his mother, who was sitting for us last night. Julie apparently replied with, "Yes. Yes, he does."

"Hey Daddy! I had a big poopy! It was big and messy. It was all in my, in my 'gina! When I get bigger 'n bigger I go poopy in the potty!" (This was said to Josh after Z and I returned from a diaper change in the Crate & Barrel bathroom. She illustrated with gestures.)

And, when we were talking about the baby in Mama's tummy...

"Hi baby! Baby boy gonna have a penis?"
"Yes, if it's a boy, he will have a penis."
"Let's pull him out?"
"No, the baby is going to stay in Mama's tummy for a long time."

Friday, January 05, 2007

Your daily funny

Once again I'm behind the curve posting this Smirnoff ad/parody video, which I first saw at the office a few months back. It still cracks me up, though.

Global warming

It's been an unseasonably warm January in Chicago. Rain instead of snow and sleet. Fall jackets instead of down coats, hats and mittens. And everyone I talk to seems to agree. This is not normal. This must be global warming. And while few Chicagoans will complain about a mild winter, it's also kind of freaking us out (me and those I've talked to at least).

But you want to know what really freaks me out? Reading about places where global warming is destroying whole communities.

5 babies in 12 months

Check out this unbelievable story about a family of 8 in England that had spontaneous twins and triplets within a single year.

Good Samaritan update

So around 9pm last night, the cell phone I'd found on the sidewalk near Quaker Tower rang again. This time the called ID said "Linda T-" and the caller was Linda, the phone's real owner. She works right around the corner from where I found the phone and I gave her instructions for picking it up at my office. I also offered to mail it to her, but she said she didn't think she could survive that long without her telephone.

She called me a couple of times this morning, once inviting me to join her and her friends at Klay Oven, an Indian restaurant around the corner from my building. Eventually, around noon, she called again and I met her downstairs in the building lobby. She was a little heavy and frumpy and probably 40ish, which isn't surprising as Lindas tend to belong to a single generation.

She asked for my business card, which I gave her. My boss thinks she'll send me a thank you note or gift, but I'm just glad the mystery is solved, a happy woman has her phone back, and I've made my contribution to karma.

13 week belly

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Just trying to be a good Samaritan

It was pouring rain when I left my client's office downtown around 5pm this evening. I had only walked a block or two when I spotted a mobile phone lying on the pavement. I've lost my phone twice, only to call it and arrange to retrieve it from a good Samaritan. So I grabbed the phone and continued on to my CTA stop.

As soon as I got home and changed out of my sopping wet clothes, I scrolled through the phone's address book. None of the numbers were labeled "home" or "ICE," so I clicked on "Mom & Dad" and hit connect.

The next 10 minutes were excruciating as the woman who answered the phone seemed to think it was her own phone that had gone missing. I said, "But this phone has your number listed as Mom & Dad--do you maybe have a child who might have lost a phone?" She continued to mutter about how in the world her phone could have ended up downtown, and she seemed absolutely baffled by my description of the phone and the carrier (Verizon).

But she insisted it was hers and said she'd send her husband to pick it up. I spent a few minutes trying to give her my work address, but she either couldn't hear well or was too flustered to understand a word I was saying. With Josh yelling that dinner was ready and Z clamoring to play with the phone herself, I finally got her husband on the phone and said, "I work at the Apparel Center. 11th floor." I gave the name of my company and said "Ask the receptionist for Alma. If you have any difficulties, call your lost phone and I'll answer."

I had serious doubts about either of them really coming to claim the phone when, about 20 minutes later, the found phone rang. I answered it and heard, "Linda?"

"I'm not Linda," I said. "I found this phone today and I'm trying to locate its owner."

"This is the woman you called earlier...I figured out that you found my daughter's cell phone. She lives downtown. We'll still come pick it up tomorrow at your office."

Now, I'm glad to be repaying the good lost cell phone karma I've benefited from in the past, but how can these people be so completely, frustratingly clueless? Are they old, doddering fools? Did she think I was some kind of criminal trying to scam her? I'd like to think that if someone called my mom at home and said, "Hey, I found this cell phone and you're number was programmed in as 'Mom,'" she'd figure out pretty quick that I (or perhaps my sister) lost my phone. And she'd give the caller an alternate number for me or call me and tell me to call my phone, it had been found.

To be continued tomorrow...

No hablo

I don't speak a lick of Spanish. I stupidly took French and German classes in high school and college, and I really, really regret not learning the number two language of our nation.

My regret deepened this morning as I dropped of Z. As predicted, her beloved Adriana gave birth on December 26th, and since she reopened her day care on January 2nd, she's been relying on her mother to fill in a great deal. Which means that the two women in charge of the kids probably know 20 words of English between them.

More importantly, Z is not about to accept Adriana's mom as an Adriana replacement, and Z clung desperately to me the minute we arrived. Adriana's mother, whom I think is named Ramona (pronounced "Ya-Mona"), asked Z a series of long, complicated-sounding questions in Spanish as she whimpered against me. And to each one, Z said "No" and buried her head in my lap. Finally, I mentioned Adriana and Baby Adrian and Ramona asked Z if she'd like to go up for a visit. (I'm guessing here, because I couldn't understand a word outside of the names and "tu.") Z raised her arms to Ramona to be picked up and they headed upstairs without protest.

I'm so glad Z understands Spanish, and I hope she doesn't lose it when she enters preschool. I do plan to enroll her in a Spanish immersion program at our local elementary school when the time comes.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Baby does doppler

I had my midwife appointment last night, and while they kept me waiting for over an hour, I forgave them the minute Gayle handed Z the doppler machine and invited her to "help find the baby's heartbeat."

Due to the extremely unskilled technician (aka my 2 year old), it took a few seconds to locate the heartbeat. But it was strong and loud.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

This is news?

Apparently Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell made a run for the border with the CEO of Taco Bell at a Philadelphia area fast food restaurant, thus reinforcing that the food is "safe to eat." I don't know who the PR agency is for Yum! Brands, but this takes the cake.

Go Wal-Mart

When a company as big, powerful and successful as Wal-Mart gets behind something, you know it's going to move the needle. So more power to them as they push Americans to adopt compact florescent light bulbs.

We're committed to the bulbs, and we've been swapping them into our light fixtures as the old-fashioned kind burn out.

It's official: I'm knocked up!

We're 12 weeks along and I just told my boss at work, so it's time to broadcast the happy news to the world. Baby #2 is due in mid-July! I couldn't be happier or more terrified of the sleepless nights to come.

I'll post belly pics and ultrasounds in the near future. And I've got an appointment with my midwife this evening, so here's to hoping the heartbeat is loud and strong.

Monday, January 01, 2007


I've avoided blogging about Z's eating habits largely because I've made a conscious decision not to make food an issue with her. She ate everything I put in front of her from 6 months to a year of age, but since she turned one she's the Arbitrary Princess of least with us. She's slightly less particular at day care, but even Adriana can't get her to eat fruit.

Yes, you heard that right. My toddler refuses to eat fresh or canned fruit. Only dried or dehydrated fruit will do. And bananas, rarely, or applesauce, if she's in the right mood. Vegetables are allowable, but only in soup or hidden in sauces. And usually only in Adriana's food, but corn and ketchup are always acceptable. She likes cheese, but only if it is yellow and cut up. Unless it is a free sample from Whole Foods, in which case anything goes.

But here's the rub, and the reason I try not to get too bent out of shape about my daughter's diet. The foods she'll always eat aren't all that bad for her. She requests Weetabix and warm Grape-Nuts by name, gobbles peanut butter by the spoonful, and snacks on peanut butter and jam or honey sandwiches on whole wheat bread. She loves spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, bagels, and macaroni and cheese. And less you think she only eats carbs, get this: she eats hummus straight up. No cracker or pita required.

So that's the good news. Here's the bad news. Z thinks she's entitled to a snack every time she's in her car seat or the stroller. And dry Cheerios will no longer do. "I want sumpin' else," she says. She usually demands "a bar" (meaning a cereal bar), and while they aren't entirely nutritionally void, they're pretty close to junk in my book. So we're working on reducing our on-the-go snacking along with getting her back on Dr. Weissbluth's sleep schedule.

I tell myself she won't starve, but I was reminded again today how slim she really is. Both my neighbor's 14-month old and my friend's 6-month old boy weigh the same as Z.

Homemade marshmallows

Yeah, it sounds crazy. And it is a bit of a sticky mess, but I was so inspired by this posting on Slashfood that I whipped up a batch of homemade marshmallows, which I'm sharing with friends.

And yes, they are that good.