Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Have a baby, take the summer off

WSJ's The Juggle blog asks if parents planned their pregnancies so they could have a spring or summer baby and take their maternity leave when it's nice outside.

In a word, yes. I didn't plan ahead with baby #1. She was a planned pregnancy, but it was more like yes, we're ready to get pregnant. We didn't think about when that baby might be born. So Z was born in November, which I learned from the folks at Prentice Women's Hospital (aka Chicagoland's Baby Factory) is their slowest month for deliveries. I guess couples aren't all that swept away by the romance of Valentine's Day.

My first maternity leave took place during Chicago's coldest months, so save for a trip to Hawaii, we spent it largely indoors, cuddling on the couch and watching DVD marathons of The OC and the Gilmore Girls.

Knowing that I'd have a toddler to entertain while I cared for a newborn, I decided maternity leave #2 would need to take place in the playground months. We aimed for May and scored a July baby.

And it turned out even better than I hoped. We've put lots of miles on our double stroller, we're regulars at our favorite parks, and I got to be around for Z's transition to preschool. We never felt cooped up at home and I didn't have to resort to videos to keep Z out of trouble as I nursed, burped and wiped my way through the last three months.

I return to work in a week!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Some like it hot (stone massage)

Warning: this blog post may inspire fits of jealous rage.

Are you ready for this? My husband bought me a hot stone massage at Urban Oasis. I've had massages before (love them!), but they've always been of the classic Swedish variety. And usually they are 30 minutes long with my clothes on and a co-worker lying 5 feet away. (Yes, Ogilvy brings a massage therapist into the office and subsidizes the cost, thereby buying my eternal loyalty.)

So this was new experience for me. First of all, because I had to tote along my trusted breast pump. The reception staff was super accommodating, though. They assured me that plenty of other moms have needed to pump on site and they led me to an empty massage room to get the milking out of the way.

If you've never had a hot stone massage, it involves being greased up with oil and then stroked with blazing hot (okay, really really warm) volcanic stones. I freaked out a little at the very beginning, thinking there was no way I could endure an hour plus of intense heat, but I quickly adjusted to the hot rocks and within minutes I was loving it. I felt like my flesh was melting into the table. In a good way. By the time my massage was over I wasn't sure I'd be able to stand up, I was that relaxed. My limbs felt like pudding. Warm, chocolaty pudding that would surely puddle onto the floor of the post-massage rainshower and swirl down the drain.

I lingered in that shower, knowing that no one was standing outside the door, impatiently awaiting my emergence from the steam and demanding cereal, boob or the boob tube. Then, after settling up with the receptionist, I walked out in their spa sandals. I turned around, put on my boots and called Josh to thank him and let him know I was heading for the subway.

But my sweetheart didn't want the CTA to sap away all my bliss. He was on his way to fetch me. What a guy!

Monday, October 29, 2007

She's a self-soother

If you had told me 2 1/2 years ago that, come nap or bedtime, I could just set my baby down in a crib and walk away--without even turning on the Ocean Wonders Aquarium--I would have laughed you out of the nursery. But Baby A is one chill child.


Product Review: Sequoia Vehicle Survival Kit

A couple of weeks ago I picked a friend up at the airport. I'd gotten there a few minutes early, so I decided I'd change Baby A's diaper and sit down in a quiet area of the baggage claim to feed her and wait. So I changed her. Nursed her. Hugged Franny hello. And then I heard it. Poosplosion. A diaper blowout of tremendous proportions. And I'd just used my last diaper.

Fortunately, I had a zipper storage bag in my trunk with three spare diapers in it. Three spare size 4 diapers from before Z was potty trained, but hey, better too big than too small!

Lesson? It pays to be prepared.

But can you pay to be prepared? Why, yes you can. For a steep $99 , the preparedness experts at Sequoia Survival will assemble for you the ultimate vehicle survival kit, a tiny red duffel jam-packed with emergency items from the obvious (first aid kit, light sticks, thermal blankets, rope) to the ingenious (duct tape and playing cards). I was thrilled to find a hand-crank radio/flashlight with a built-in cell phone charger, rain ponchos and a multi-function tool.

Add a few fresh diapers, a package of baby wipes, a jack and a set of jumper cables, and I'm ready for virtually any roadside disaster. Plus, having these items in my car makes me feel more safe at home. I'm more prepared for our next massive power outage and ready to hit the road should we be faced with an emergency evacuation order.

Which has me thinking, perhaps I should add a list of emergency phone numbers (insurance company, credit card issuers, family members) to the Sequoia kit notebook...

Read more real-life reviews of the Sequoia Survival Kit and plenty of other cool stuff at Parent Bloggers Network.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

No more little monsters

They're cute, but I've already had my fill of over-sugared, under-napped, screechy-voiced three-year-old princesses. I'd share my pics of Z's preschool Halloween party as well, but (oops!) I left my camera there.

Here's a treat. Check out Z at Halloween last year...
Halloween 2006

And two years ago...
Halloween 2005

Friday, October 26, 2007

It's not just the icky she's picky about

My daughter does not eat fruit.

She'll eat dried fruit, dehydrated fruit, fruit jams, fruit muffins and fruit juice, but she won't touch an apple, orange or peach in its original format. Is there another kid alive who doesn't like strawberries? The only fresh fruit she deems acceptable is the banana.

Now I know plenty of kids (I was one of them) who turn their noses up at green vegetables, but Z will happily eat baby trees (broccoli) and peas. Corn, black beans, sweet potatoes and chick peas (in hummus form) are among her favorite foods, right behind the standard kid faves of quesadillas, macaroni and cheese, pizza, tacos and spaghetti.

And then there are her favorite foods that catch others by surprise. Every day she asks for African Peanut Soup and Weetabix with peanut butter. Not only has she inherited my addiction to peanut butter, she shares my love for the kitty-litter of cereals, Grape-Nuts. But can she blame her distrust of fruit on mommy dearest? No way.

This entry is part of a Parent Bloggers Network blog blast about children's food fetishes. It's sponsored by Deceptively Delicious, which I reviewed here.

Bumbo Baby Seat Recall

I was just about to buy the Bumbo Baby Sitter seat for Baby A. Perhaps that's not such a good idea given this recall.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Sayonara sippy cups

Confession: Z's nearly three and--until earlier this week--we let her drink from sippy cups. Milk, water, even juice (typically watered down, but not always).

She's too big. It's bad for her teeth. And she's gotten spoiled, expecting a beverage in the car, in the stroller and with her on the couch as she watches The Wiggles.

So I told her we'd be saying bye-bye to sippy cups by her third birthday. And you know what? She didn't even bat an eye. Two days later and she's drinking juice and milk at the table, with meals. And if she's thirsty at night or when we're out and about, she's got her brand-new, BPA-free SIGG water bottle.

On a related note, Z decided she's night-trained. She didn't care for the Target-brand training pants I'd purchased (no Princesses), so she told me she'd wear underwear instead. No biggie.

The world's smallest pumping mama

Hey Fisher-Price, how about a My Little Breastpump? Z demanded I craft her one so that she could pump milk and feed her doll, just like mommy. It's amazing what you can do with construction paper, tape and a cigar box.

Book review: Kids are Americans Too

Remember that obnoxious know-it-all boy from the 8th grade? The one who panted "ooh-ooh-me" as he raised his hand and parroted his right-wing father's views during Social Studies discussions?

Fox News blowhard Bill O'Reilly wrote a book for just for him. If you can call it writing. Kids are Americans Too purports to be a guide to legal rights for kids, but it's really a smarmy overview of the legal process dumbed down with horrible raps (yes, raps), smug multiple choice quizzes and mock Q and A's between the kid reader and O'Reilly himself.

You might think that a book about rights would at least pretend to come from a "no-spin zone," but O'Reilly dismisses any opinion that doesn't line up with his worldview as idiotic or stupid. Every chapter includes a dig at the ACLU. Ironic, given they're all about guaranteeing our civil liberties (aka our rights).

Now here's where I try to give Bill O'Reilly the benefit of the doubt. He does emphasize, again and again, that the best way to get what you want is to negotiate calmly and use tact. Tact, huh O'Reilly? Is that what you were using when you sexually harassed a Fox News producer? What O'Reilly doesn't recommend is taking your complaints to court. Which might explain why he agreed to settle that nasty little harassment suit.

I'm not the only member of the Parent Bloggers Network to review this book. Click here to see if anyone had anything nice to say.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is there a word for this?

I need to describe a particular condition. You see, Baby A usually falls asleep with a paci in her mouth. At some point during the night (or nap), she spits out her pacifier. And by the time we go into her room to fetch her from her crib, the paci is in her ear.

So what shall I call this oral invasion of her aural space? A rubber willy? Paciphone? Bluetooth binkie?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Product review: Vincent Shoes

What, somebody besides Robeez makes baby shoes? Are they any good?

Thanks to the kind folks at Parent Bloggers Network, I got to find out for myself. I mean, for Baby A.

Now, let me preface this by saying that there really isn't any compelling reason to put shoes on a 3-month-old. She's not walking. She's not crawling. She's mostly wiggling on her back like an overturned stinkbug. But winter's a-coming and I'm all in favor of keeping her tiny socks on and her sweet tootsies warm with a pair of buttery soft leather slippers.

So I gave Vincent Shoes a try. A Swedish company, they've got a huge variety of Euro-stylish shoes for little ones--a lot more to choose from than Robeez, which are pretty standard pull-on kicks with themed decorations. I chose the formal black leather Mini Angela and the charming pink Mini Betty mary janes for my little girl. They recommend Prewalker Size 1 for two to five month olds and Prewalker Size 2 for four to eight month olds. Since Baby A's on the big side, I ordered the Angela in a 1 and the Betty in a 2. Turned out the 1 fit perfectly and the 2 is enormous. It fell right off.

Which is too bad, because I much prefer the soft, adorable Mini Betty to the too-fancy Mini Angela, which is too fussy and way too stiff for my taste. The patent leather trim interferes with the leather's softness and the shoe has a lot less give than the Mini Betty or the broken-in Robeez I'm using for comparison. Still, if I had an occasion appropriate for dressy baby shoes, I'd put her in them without hesitation.

I was a little disappointed to see that the shoes weren't actually made in Sweden. They're manufactured in China like everything else. But I feel like the quality is there. Vincent Shoes have the soft leather sole of a Robeez slipper, but unlike Robeez, they have a terry lining to help absorb moisture (baby feet seem to sweat a lot).

And since Vincent loves Mommybloggers and their readers, they're offering us an exclusive discount code and they're giving away two $50 gift certificates. First-time purchasers can enter code "OCT-20-OFF" for 20% anything in the shop through 11/11/07. To enter to win a $50 gift certificate, check out the Vincent Shoes website and leave a comment on the Vincent post at PBN with your favorite style and why (it does not need to be a prewalker).

Monday, October 22, 2007

The pumping puzzle: how much is my milk really worth?

Breastfeeding isn't just "best for baby," it gets me the most bang for my buck. Right? Well, yeah. But the cost savings aren't as dramatic as I'd hoped.

I'm returning to work in two weeks and planning to pump for at least a couple of months. I'm dedicated to nursing, but my breastpump doesn't engender the same warm fuzzy feelings as my baby, so I decided to calculate how much I'm saving by pumping versus supplementing while my child is in my husband's or daycare provider's care. I figured that putting a dollar amount to my efforts would solidify my commitment to pump. I could add up the savings and treat myself to a little shopping spree with the cash I'd saved by not buying formula. (And in case you're wondering, I'm not figuring in the cost of the pump since it already paid for itself with baby #1.)

So here goes. The first real math I'd done since high school calculus.

First, let's assume Baby A will drink three 4-ounce bottles while I am at work, for a total of 12 ounces of milk while I'm away. A 25.7oz (large) can of Enfamil or Similac formula costs $22.99 on sale at Walgreens. You can prepare 160 fluid ounces per can, and assuming none gets wasted, that works out to 13 days worth of daycare/daddy care supplementation. Which means I'm saving a grand total of $2.00 per workday by pumping. Yikes, I don't even earn a latte for my efforts!

Depressing, huh? It gets better. In my efforts to make sure Baby A accepts a bottle when I return to work, I've been pumping at home and saving the excess. I've got a freezer full of expressed milk in zipper bags--probably 250-300 ounces worth. I, like many moms in my position, like to refer to it as liquid gold, but it's probably only the nutritional equivalent of $40 worth of powdered formula.

Now I have saved a significant pile of money by breastfeeding Baby A exclusively for the first three months of her life: $400 by even the most conservative estimates. And that doesn't account for all of the breastmilk she's drunk, spit-up and demanded more of. That'll buy me a new winter coat and some cute cashmere cold weather accessories, but no luxury vacation.

Yet, while I'm only earning about $4 an hour for sitting in a windowless, featureless room with a mechanical milking machine hooked up to my boobs, I still feel a compulsion to keep it up, at least for a little while. Maybe I feel like I can't supplement my second kid more than I did my first. Maybe I'm doing it for the feeling of accomplishment I get from nourishing my children, even when I am away. Surely a big part of it is my desire to keep my supply up enough that I won't have to mix up and and warm up a bottle of formula in the middle of the night. (I'm lazy like that.)

But can I say I'm doing it to save money? Not so much, unfortunately.

Cross-posted to Chicago Moms Blog

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Pumpkin picking at the Children's Farm

One of our three pumpkins has already been demolished by the neighborhood's very own squash-eating squirrel, but
he can't take away my memories! For the second year in a row, our playgroup families have headed down to Palos Park to pick pumpkins, pet farm animals and picnic at The Children's Farm.

Z didn't care much for the pumpkin patch this year. She didn't like the fact that all of the pumpkins were "dirty." But she loved frolicking with her friends and visiting the lifestock. And maybe it's just me, but I thought it was a little unsettling to see a poster depicting various cuts of beef right by the stall where the kids were brushing hogs and petting cows.

Plenty more photos are uploaded here.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

My dance card is full

In the next 2 1/2 weeks before I return to work, I have the following penciled, penned and Sharpied onto my calendar:
  • Pumpkin-picking in Palos Park with our entire playgroup and their families
  • A visit from our old friend Beth B, who's in town for a wedding
  • A visit from my cousin, who's in town to see The Decemberists
  • A visit from my sister and her 5-month-old baby Eliza
  • Z's preschool class Halloween party
  • Z's preschool family Halloween party
  • Our neighborhood Halloween block party
  • Trick-or-treating on Halloween day
  • Z's 3rd birthday party at home
  • Z's birthday celebration at school
  • Two birthday parties for other little kids
  • "Observation" at Z's school (a Montessori version of the parent-teacher conference)
  • Baby A's first day at daycare
Here's to hoping my job will be a little less chaotic than my maternity leave.

Book review: Printakid Personalized Children's Books

When Parent Bloggers offered me the opportunity to test drive Printakid's personalized books for children, I jumped at the chance. I knew my daughter would flip over a book starring her. After all, she's your typical two-going-on-three-year-old. A wee bit self-centered.

And since the world revolves around her, Z was as pleased as punch (but not entirely shocked) to find that she was the main character in Laughing All the Way to School. Not only that, her best friends were included in the cast of characters. As a new preschooler, she liked seeing herself and her buddies at school, but I'm not sure what she made of the schoolyard, hallway, teachers and public address system. Her Montessori preschool doesn't resemble the typical elementary school pictured in this story. Since I was able to specify Z's hairstyle, hair color, skin tone and eye color while ordering, hers was a pretty good likeness. However, she was a little confused to hear her friends' names without finding their pictures in the book.

And then there's the plot. Basically, "your child here" goes to school with her friends and all of the kids and teachers turn into animals. Funny enough if you're under five, I guess. And I'm sure the preschool set don't care much about the clunky prose and a terrible ending (it turns out laughter is the best medicine for best friends who've been turned into baboons). But this mom's still responsible for reading aloud, and it pains me to see such poor writing.

Printakid's personalized books will run you about $25 for a sturdy hardback, which seems like a decent deal for a keepsake-type gift. Just don't buy it for the offspring of an English major.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Three months old today

Happy birthday, Baby A!

I can't believe how far you've come in such a short period of time. You came home from the hospital an eight pound lump with powerful suck reflex and now you're a fully interactive baby.

You weigh over 12lbs and boast a double chin and rolls of thigh fat. Which is amazing given that you drench us both in hot, sour spit-up after every feeding. In spite of being a little barf baby, you have outgrown all your 0-3 month clothes.

Your eyes are pewter and your hair's a fuzzy brown. You start the morning with a wry half smile, but it only takes a few words to get you to give us a big gummy grin. We love your funny hehehe laugh, and watching you watch other children it is clear you're taking it all in (and looking forward to joining in).

You sleep like a champ, down for the count at 6:30pm and only waking up once (if at all) for a feed-burb-poo before reveille at 7am.

I went back to work with your big sister was three months old, so I'm treasuring these extra couple of weeks we'll spend together before I swap our constant togetherness for a breast pump and a paycheck.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sometimes milestones suck

Like My Toddler's First Nightmare.

Yes, Josh and I were up for a couple hours between midnight and 2am tending to a hysterical but lucid toddler. Z told us "something was jumping on my bed," and after we turned down her one-hundredth request to sleep in our bed, we let her spend the rest of the night on her floor.

On top of that, I had a nasty case of food poisoning. Which meant I was alternating between comforting my daughter and racing for the bathroom.

We're much, much better today.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More sisterly love

My little girls hold hands in the back seat. I am saving this photo to show them when they start in with the, "You're touching me!" nonsense in a few years.

Big weekend

Z's largely dropped her afternoon nap, and we're wiping her out this weekend. Highlights have included the arrival of her Aunt Bethany, a three hour adventure at Kiddieland with friends from playgroup and preschool and the baptism of her best friend Lia and Baby A's future buddy Abby, which was followed by a party.

Click here to see more photos.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Across the Universe

I saw a movie last night. In the theatre! Full of teenagers!

I'm not exactly sure how to describe the Beatles musical/sixties art retrospective/love story that is Across the Universe, but I really loved watching it. The story's a little hackneyed and the film is about 20 minutes too long, but the songs are great, the choreography is cool and the art direction is mind-blowing.

Seriously, I feel like it stoked my creativity. A good thing, as I'm going back to work November 6th.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Calling all princesses

A bit of background: Z's refused to use real toothpaste (the stuff with fluoride) and we've been letting her get away with it, brushing her teeth as throughly as possible with baby tooth and gum cleanser. But today the game was up. We were all out of baby toothpaste.

When I broke the news to Z, she broke down crying. In a flash, I told her that if she brushed with "big kid" toothpaste, I'd let her call Belle and tell her. She opened her mouth a millimeter and let me brush, whimpering the whole while.

She rinsed and spit. Rinsed and spit. Then, wiping her eyes, she said, "I wanna call Belle. But not the Beast."

"Josh," I hollered, "Guess who used big kid toothpaste? And she'd like to call Belle from Beauty and the Beast and tell her all about it!" Wink wink, honey, wink wink.

Well, he sort of got the hint. My husband brings up the phone and says Belle will be calling in a minute. I see Josh's cell number pop up on the caller ID. We answer and my husband does the world's worst Belle impersonation.

"That's not Belle, that's Daddy!"

"Um, you're right! I told Daddy to call a real princess, not pretend to be a princess. Daddy, we know that's you. Now get the real Belle on the phone. Maybe G-l-o-r-i-a or S-t-a-c-i-e could help you out!"

This time he gets the hint. Moments later the phone rings again. Stacie's number appears on the caller ID. I hit speakerphone.

"Is this Z? I heard you brushed your teeth with big girl toothpaste tonight," purrs my friend, "I'm so proud of you."

Z's eyes are like saucers, her face breaks into a huge grin. She can't get a word out for a few minutes, but she finally whispers to me, "Can Belle sing me a song?" She does my friend a favor and requests "Twinkle Twinkle." A softball.

When the song and the call are complete, Z is enthused. She wants to know if she can talk to Cinderella tomorrow after she brushes her teeth. But not the Stepmother. And then maybe Princess Jasmine when she brushes her teeth again? And maybe Cinderella could come over to her house? And the Prince too? Or could she go visit her? And Mommy, do we have to take a plane to get to Cinderella's castle?

Cross-posted to Chicago Moms Blog

Look who's holding her head up!

I love my Hug-a-Bub even more now that Baby A can face forward and see the world.

How many to invite?

If only she's been born in the summer, this would be so much easier. But I can't plan a backyard birthday party for a girl born in November. Not in Chicago, anyway. So I've spent some time over the past couple of weeks racking my brain, trying to decide how to celebrate Z's third birthday. I considered My Gym. Too expensive. Wonder Works? Don't much care for the place. Then there's the Brown Cow, our favorite ice cream parlor and site of my baby shower three years earlier. I seriously entertained that idea, but became worried that with all of the attending parents, the ice cream costs might get out of control.

More importantly, I believe in simple birthday parties. Birthday parties at home. So, in an attempt to marry my beliefs and save my sanity, I've decided to throw a breakfast birthday party. I figure kids are at their best in the morning (particularly kids like Z who have dropped their afternoon naps), breakfast foods are easy to make and popular with children and I can get everyone out of my house before noon! So we'll invite her friends to come in the jammies, top their own pancakes, make Froot Loop necklaces and decorate pillowcases to take home. They can even pile onto the floor in the living room and watch a cartoon.

Sounds like a plan, right? Well here's where things get complicated. You see, we already have a pretty full house inviting seven of Z's long-time buddies, none of whom attend her preschool. We're starting to hear about her school friends, and I've met a few of their parents, but if we invite some of her preschool classmates, where do I draw the line? Can I just pick one or two? Should I leave them out altogether? She's named about 10 kids she likes, but I don't know how close friends she is with any of them. After all, she's been in school for less than a month!

Oh, and did I mention our house size? It's small.

Cross-posted to the Chicago Moms Blog

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Cookbook review: Deceptively Delicious

What would you say if I told you I threw a can of chickpeas in the chocolate chip cookie dough? Would you gag if you knew the pizza sauce contained pureed spinach? That the burgers contained whole wheat bread crumbs, carrots and skim milk? Or that rich, warm chocolate pudding was made with a mashed avocado?

There's a reason celebrity wife Jessica Seinfeld is calling her cooking-for-kids book Deceptively Delicious. Folks--particular little ones--don't want to know the familiar food they're enjoying contains vegetables. "Icky" vitamin and fiber-dense vegetables like squash, sweet potatoes, carrots and beets.

You see, Ms. Seinfeld had an epiphany. She realized she could stir a little baby food into her older children's meal, and they wouldn't notice.

Bingo! Book idea. Contact a nutritionist to figure out which vegetables pack the biggest nutritional punch. Hire a chef to develop recipes that incorporate said purees. And get a kick-ass publicist to book you on Oprah.

Of course, being the spouse of the country's most successful comedian might have opened a few doors for Jessica, but she's delivered a cookbook that's the answer to many a mom's prayers. Kid-friendly food that's not junk in a cookbook that's as lovely as Jessica herself. The art direction reminds me of the classic Betty Crocker's Picture Cookbook.

So, how do the recipes taste? Well, fresh out of the oven, no one could detect the presence of chickpeas in my chocolate chip cookies. They received an enthusiastic thumbs-up from my husband, my daughter, and five elementary school boys from the neighborhood. But once I'd stored them, they quickly turned overly moist--wet even. I had to warm them up (and dry them out) in the toaster oven before trying to eat them. The chocolate pudding with avocado was dark, rich and reasonably tasty, but far too greasy. Z took three bites and walked away from the bowl, something she's never done to anything chocolate before.

Neither Z nor my husband could detect the summer squash in the Blueberry Lemon Muffins or the spinach in the pizza, although I'll admit I just stirred some of Jessica's spinach puree into a jar of Trader Joe's pizza sauce. Josh and I both loved her Meatball Soup (it got mixed reviews from Z and another toddler) and everyone enjoyed the hamburgers, which tasted like a cross between a juicy bad-for-you burger and a veggie burger.

Rather than follow her recipe for pancakes, which calls for pancake mix, I made waffles from scratch and stirred in the suggested sweet potato puree. They were delicious and no one was the wiser.

There are a lot of other tasty-looking recipes, but because my using this cookbook sets off my husband's alarm bells (What weird vegetable are you trying to hide in there?), I may end up taking inspiration from Deceptively Delicious and stir purees into our family's favorite recipes.
Either way, we're all getting a little more goodness with every bite of our favorite foods. My freezer's already stocked with Ziploc baggies full of pre-measured purees.

Now if I could only remember to take Baby A out of the Hug-a-Bub before I turn on that blasted Cuisinart... It startles her every time!

See what other Parent Bloggers have to say about Jessica Seinfeld's Deceptively Delicious cookbook.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Got $10,000 for a Mom-job?

According to the NY Times, MILFs are signing up to lose those droopy boobs and post-partum pudding with cosmetic surgery specially marketed to moms. I'm sure those women who've had the work done feel beautiful and empowered, but the pressure to be a hot mom makes me feel inadequate.

The American Dairy Association loves mommybloggers

On Wednesday night, the folks behind dairy's 3-A-Day campaign romanced me and about dozen other mommybloggers with drinks, dinner and dairy swag.

Make that dinners. The American Dairy Council's 3-A-Day event for mommybloggers was held Wednesday night at Super Suppers in Northbrook, one of those dinner assembly joints where you can throw together a "real meal" with pre-chopped ingredients and store it in your freezer for future enjoyment.

We sipped wine, nibbled on cheese slices and sampled some cucumber-yogurt dip with veggies. I got to reconnect with some of my fellow Chicago Moms Blog contributors, women I hadn't seen since BlogHer.

Then we assembled our "dairy-friendly" dinners. Six healthy entrees made slightly less healthy as the friendly Super Suppers foodies encouraged us to "go ahead and double the sour cream" or "throw a little more cheese on there!"

I actually walked out with 11 nights' worth of dinners since I was able to split all but one of the meals into half portions (three servings instead of six). I'm most looking forward to trying the Meatless (Spinach) Lasagna and Pan-Fried Ravioli with Tomato Cream Sauce. I couldn't bear the idea of warming up all of the tomato-cream sauce ingredients together, so I convinced the Super Suppers guys to let me individually bag the diced onion and red wine so I could saute the onions and create a red wine reduction before adding the tomatoes, seasonings and sour cream.

Thank you American Dairy Association for making us mommybloggers feel so special. We love you (and your adorable milk glasses), too!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Please hold, your money is very important to us

I’ve spent far too much time on the phone this week, dealing with incompetent people and clearing up screw-ups. In addition to dealing with the morons at the Professional Eye Center, I called the Social Security Administration to find out why we haven’t received Baby A’s card yet. Even though I’d filled out an application for her number while still in the hospital, the SSA had no record of her existence and Wednesday we trooped over to Hillside to apply in person.

And then there was the two hours I spent on the phone with the billing department for the hospital where I gave birth and my insurance company. Since today is Health Care Issues day on the Chicago Moms Blog (and our sister sites the DC Area Moms Blog and Silicon Valley Moms Blog), I wrote about how dealing with billing department and insurance company nonsense makes me long for universal, single-payer health care.

My little creationist

Z and I do quite a bit of talking during the 3/4 mile stroller ride to preschool. She picks the topics. Today she said "God made the world, right Mommy?"

"Right." Hey, I'm not about to try to explain the Big Bang theory to a two-year-old.

"Did God make words?"

"Words, like talking words?"


"Well, God made people and people talk words, so I suppose He helped."

"Does God make houses?"

"No, people build houses. But God made the materials like wood, stone and sand."

"And little children can help build houses, right mommy?"

"No, grown-ups build houses."

"But little children can build Little People houses!"

"You're right about that."

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Guess who's been watching the Jungle Book?

Said Z as she leaned back to examine the contents of the potty:

"I made a mama and two man-cubs!"

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Professional Eye Center: Not very professional

In this age of 1-800-Contacts, can you imagine waiting a month and a half for a couple of boxes of contact lenses?

I went to the Oak Park office of the Professional Eye Center for an eye exam and contact lenses fitting in mid-August. I chose them because they're a member of the VSP network (my vision insurance) and I'd had a good experience with their optometrist in the past. My exam--aside from the breastfeeding comment--was uneventful and I placed my order for 6 months' worth of contact lenses. Since the enhanced vision insurance I bought through work covers the cost of eyeglasses or contacts up to a certain dollar amount, my exam and order only totaled about $30 out of pocket. I was told my order would take about two weeks.

After wearing through my trial pair and an extra set of lenses I had lying around the house, I started to get antsy. A month had gone by! I called the office and was told my lenses weren't in yet, but it would probably come in the following week. I could stop by to pick up another pair of trial lenses.

Fast forward two more weeks and I still hadn't heard from The Professional Eye Center. When I called back today they told me they didn't know why my order hadn't come in, and they didn't know when it would. But I could stop by and pick up another pair of trials.

Compare this to the customer service at For Eyes, which is just down the street from TPEC. I bought my glasses from them a few years ago and I stop in about once a year to have them adjusted so they don't fall off my face. Every time I appear, the friendly staff help me immediately and don't charge me a penny. It's a shame they're not in my vision care network, but I'm guessing they don't need the extra business.

Monday, October 01, 2007

A future Sarah Silverman?

Said my almost-three-year-old daughter today:

"Mommy, do you smell something? What does it smell like? Does it smell like toots?"
[Big smile]

"Z, did you just toot?"

"Yes I did!"