Friday, November 30, 2007

When fake news happens to real people

A photo of my college roommate Tina Cheuk illustrates this article in The Onion. And yes, she was (and still is) a high school educator.

I'm doing all my holiday shopping online

I don't think I'm going to buy a single thing in a traditional bricks and mortar store this year. And why should I? I hate shopping with kids. I hate standing in line. I hate bumping into frazzled shoppers or tailing package-laden consumers in the parking lot.

And honestly? There's nothing at the mall that I can't get faster-cheaper-better online. So, without giving away too much, here's where I've been spending wearing out my credit card.

Amazon, the biggie. They sell everything. Free shipping is a given (I don't have to troll around or looking for codes), and I save by not paying Illinois' sky-high sales tax. I've been an Amazon customer since 1997 (when it was just a bookstore) and I've never had a problem with their customer service.

Etsy. This fabulous shopping site is Ebay meets the Renegade Craft Fair. I can buy handcrafted jewelry, bags, dolls and so much more direct from the artisan and pay with Paypal. Prices range from ridiculously cheap to moderately expensive, but you can easily score a one-of-a-kind necklace for $25.

Not content with unique, handcrafted goods, I felt the need to get crafty myself. But not too crafty, mind you. I don't have time for that! So I created custom photo holiday cards at Tiny Prints and designed a t-shirt for a deserving recipient at Zazzle while munching a sandwich at my desk.

And don't think you can't surprise distant friends and family with gift certificates to independent places in their town. I've found restaurants, boutiques and spas (even those not part of a large chain) sell gift cards from their websites, so I didn't even have to pick up the phone to buy my BFF a gift certificate for a prenatal massage from Zenana Spa in Portland.

Has anyone else sworn off traditional shopping?

Cross-posted to Chicago Moms Blog

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Product Review: Ready Set Learn Radio Control Fire Truck

Sit back and imagine you're in the market for a new toy. Perhaps you have a niece or nephew on your holiday shopping list. You want to impress your sibling by purchasing their kid an "educational" toy, but you don't want to saddle the poor child with (yawn) yet another painted wooden Euro plaything. No, you want the kid to tear open the package, panting with excitement at what his favorite auntie or uncle brought just for him.

It needs to be BIG.

It should NOT contain lead paint or date rape drugs.

Enter the Ready Set Learn! Radio Control Fire Truck from the Discovery Channel Store. It's educational...if you consider teaching your toddler how to operate a radio control vehicle a valuable lesson.

Now here's the deal: Do you like the sound of screaming sirens filling your living room? How about the crash of an oversized toy truck slamming into walls, furniture, pets and and small children? No? Then by all means do not buy this toy for your child. Buy it for someone else's kid. (You'll piss off that child's parent, but not as much as you would if you'd bought the kid AquaDots.)
Now I'm pretty lucky. Z isn't all that into annoying battery-operated toys. She'd rather play dress up or let's pretend than operate a remote control vehicle. She (quite rightly) demanded to know why only one of the included fire fighters fit onto the truck (a design flaw in my opinion), and after figuring out how the two button remote worked, she lost interest.

Which I can't say for her playmates--particularly boys. They pretty much went ape shit for the fire truck, setting off its irritating alarms and running it into the dining room chairs until I quietly flipped the power switch and proclaimed the toy "broken."

One final note: if you stop playing with the fire truck but you neglect to flip it over and turn it off, it will act possessed, powering itself up and vrooming short distances on its own. This scared the crap out of me (and my cats) until I figured out what was going on.

Disclaimers: This review was made possible by Parent Bloggers Network. The ladder pictured in the photos is from another toy. Z decided that every fire truck needs a ladder and added it of her own accord.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Mommybloggers in the media

A bunch of Chicago Moms Blog contributors (including yours truly!) are quoted in this Daily Herald article on the rising role of mommybloggers in spreading word of mouth. (Jessica and Amy, you both look fabulous!)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Tales from the pump: I'm an inventor!

My breast pump came with an ugly black tote bag (which I don't use), but it didn't come with a good solution for toting all of the pump's parts and accessories, the horns and valves that come into contact with milk and have to be cleaned between pumping sessions.

Since I pump twice a day, I was washing those parts with dish detergent and hot water and giving them a cursory drying with paper towels. But they never seem to get really dry.

I'd been keeping them in a gallon Ziploc bag in my backpack, but I didn't like how fogged up the bag would become and I hated using damp parts. Also, I found that cleaning the Ziploc bag even once a week was a pain in the butt. And I was never positive that it was really clean.

Enter the Pump Parts Terry Bag!
This velcro-close bag, designed by me and sewed from an old towel by my sweet mother-in-law, holds all of my pump parts and doubles as a lap pad for me, protecting my work pants from inadvertent milk drips.
No more damp horns and I can throw it into the wash every couple of days!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

This moment is brought to you by Hallmark

Today a friend of mine stopped by with her 9-year-old daughter Lily. Lily was holding Baby A, who was a little overtired and squirmy. So my friend says to her daughter, "Let me know when you're done holding the baby and I'll take her... When you're ready, I'll take the baby."

Tears welled up in Z's eyes and she said, "I don't want them to take Baby A because I love her."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Thanksgiving with friends

This year marks the fourth year we've refused to travel on Thanksgiving but it's the first time since my senior year of college that we haven't celebrated with any of our parents. Instead, four families from our playgroup gathered at my friend Gloria's house for a fabulous turkey dinner. Eight adults, eight kids under four and absolutely no stress!

Here's what we ate (my contributions are in italics and I've included links where available)...

Smoked Gouda and Guinness cheddar cheese, crackers and grapes
Pumpkin cheese ball
18 lb Roasted Brined Turkey with Reisling Gravy
Mixed greens, pear and cranberry salad
Sweet potato casserole with pecans
Cranberry-apricot sauce
Jellied cranberry sauce
Rice-sausage stuffing
Fruited bread stuffing
Carrot souffle
Butternut squash souffle
Honey whole wheat rolls
Red and white wines
Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin cream-cheese praline pie
Pear and dried cherry pie
Fresh whipped cream

Eight adults and eight children aged three and under, one 18 pound bird (brined and roasted to Martha Stewart's specifications by Eric), countless side dishes, three

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Where you can find me on Black Friday

I'll be on the Magnificent Mile on the day after Thanksgiving, but I won't be clutching an armful of shopping bags. I won't be scanning the ads for doorbuster sales or wearing out the magnetic strip on my credit card.

Instead, look for me (and perhaps some other Chicago Moms Bloggers) at 10 a.m. outside the original Water Tower (806 N. Michigan Ave). I'll be wearing my "Get the Lead Out" t-shirt and handing out stickers and coupon booklets to passersby as part of the Consumers Union Chicago rally to kick of 12 Days of Safe Shopping. We'll be encouraging shoppers to hand a "Not in My Cart" coupon to the cashier as they make their purchases, letting store managers know that consumers are demanding higher safety standards for toys and prompt compliance with recalls.

Learn more about the Consumers Union's efforts at

Cross-posted to Chicago Moms Blog.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Four month checkup

Since I handled her 2-month checkup, Josh took Baby A in for her 4-month jabs and examination. She was declared in perfect health despite her prolific pooping (the kid goes at least 5 times a day!) and she quickly recovered from the trauma of her three shots and one oral vaccine.

She's dropped a few percentiles on the growth charts, but that's no surprise. We're not particularly large people so we were pretty amazed she stayed in the 75th percentile as long as she did.

Weight: 13 lbs, 13oz (50th percentile)
Length: 24 inches (30th percentile)

The food drive that drove me to tears

Today is Sharing It Day at the Merchandise Mart, where my agency's offices are located. I participated in the annual food drive, as I have most years, lured as much by the promise of a free Potbelly sandwich and a slice Eli's cheesecake as I am by altruism and the desire to rid my cabinets of too much elbow macaroni and canned lentil soup.

I dropped off my grocery bag of goodies on the way to work and received my Potbelly gift card and prepackaged slice of cheesecake. Which, incidentally means that the nutrition information was readily available to me. I think I'll take home the 300 calories and 22 grams of fat for Josh and save my calories for Thanksgiving Thursday.

But none of this is what inspired me to post. You see, I passed by the South Lobby again on my way to the Chase ATM (which was broken, again) and caught a performance by the Kenwood Academy Concert Choir. I don't know if it's my nursing mommy hormones or what, but I stood there weak-kneed and slack-jawed, moved to tears by their four part harmonies. These kids can sing. It brought back memories of singing in my own high school choir, although neither I nor the choir had any particular vocal talents.

Incidentally, Kenwood Academy is located in Hyde Park, where I went to college. And both Hyde Park and the U of C have been in the news this week due to horrific crime spree that occurred Monday night. And hearing about dangers that lurk around the University reminds me of a dark chapter from my undergraduate days. A fellow student was grabbed off the sidewalk and raped. She committed suicide shortly after her attack by jumping in front of a Metra train. I remember being so shaken I signed up for a self-defense class.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mommy smartypants

There's a little web program that judges the reading level of your website or blog (thanks Mommy Bits for the link). It looks like I must have some very bright readers because my blog is genius!
cash advance

I'm blushing now.

Product review: Ravensburger puzzles

I played with Ravensburger board games and puzzles growing up. We lived in Berlin for a few years, so quality European toys were easy to come by.

I knew I was getting a well-constructed puzzle when I purchased this super-sized 24 piece jigsaw puzzle for Z for her third birthday. And indeed, the pieces are large, sturdy and easy to wipe clean. It's been such I hit I used the $10 birthday certificate our neighborhood toy store sent her to purchase two more puzzles (another 24 piece one for now and a surprise 36 piece puzzle for later).

Z doesn't get tired of putting them together, and each time she opens the box she needs less and less parental guidance. Which is almost too bad, because while I get sick of reciting my lines in "pretend you're the big sister and I'm the mommy," I kind of enjoy putting together puzzles!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Blik: Check out the jungle room

It's not Graceland, but Baby A's room finally looks like it belongs to a kid! I took the wedding photos down (it was previously a guest room) and decorated the nursery with monkeys, vines and a lion from Blik's Jungle Re-Stik, one of the company's stick-and-restick decal collections designed specifically for children.

It's the second time I've purchased from Blik. We have the birds from Fly soaring over our headboard. However, unlike the original decals, the decals in the Re-Stik collection can be pulled off the wall and rearranged. Since the placement of your decals is up to you, I loved knowing that I could moved them around until I was happy with the effect.

Friday, November 16, 2007

I joined Facebook

Am I the last to sign up? Cool.

I'd resisted joined yet one more social networking website that I won't log onto and that will languish in cyberspace, advertising to the whole world what bands I liked three years ago, but I bit the bullet and became another face on Facebook today. (And yes, I finally did cancel my dormant Friendster account.)

I had to do it. For work.

I'm developing concepts for some high-tech devices aimed at 21-year-old guys, so for me not to know how Facebook applications work...well it just wouldn't do.

So go ahead. Friend me.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

One mighty wish list

There's one website I turn to again and again for toy reviews, and that is Z Recommends. So I was thrilled to find they've published a gift guide jam-packed with playthings another 3-year-old Z has deemed brilliant.

My Z is totally getting her own digital camera for Chanukah...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Dove does it again

Dove's Evolution was an Internet sensation. Check out this sequel, entitled Onslaught. A perfect marriage of social consciousness and brand. Go Ogilvy Toronto!

Teenage wasteland

Give the girl a faux microphone (thanks Megan!) and she tunelessly improvises The Who's "Baba O'Riley."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Book review: ScreamFree Parenting

I just road-tested a parenting book I haven't even finished. I'm 126 pages into ScreamFree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool, so I'd absorbed enough of Hal Edward Runkel's theory to give it a whirl as I tried to put an overtired-to-the-point-of-hysterics Z to bed tonight.

"The only way to retain a position of influence with our children is to regain a position of control over ourselves."

Translation? Even though my three-year-old threw the fit to end all fits over Sleeping Beauty underpants, I was not to yell, threaten or force her to put on another pair, any pair, and get in the damn bed.

Instead, I explained the situation (both of her Sleeping Beauty undies were dirty and in the hamper) and asked that she pick another pair. When she refused, wailing "Sleeping Beauty...Sleeping Beauty" over and over, I gave myself a time out. I closed her door, walked downstairs and took a few deep breaths. I checked in on her every 10 minutes or so, asking if she was ready to get dressed for bed and and if needed any help. She was a sight to behold: sanding butt naked in the middle of her carpet, her face blotchy and streaked with snot and tears. Inconsolably crying out for her favorite licensed character underwear.

Finally, after a very long 30 minutes, the cries died down to hiccups, and I returned.

"Sleeping Beauty..." the howling began again. Runkel calls this "throwing down the gauntlet."

"A ScreamFree Parent never picks up a gauntlet."

I decided to try empathy (page 101). I told Z how sad I was that there weren't any more Sleeping Beauty underpants in the drawer. I told her I felt a little bit like crying too, and I asked her what she thought we should do since all of the undies were in the wash. She pointed to the hamper and I asked her if she'd like to wear a stinky pair. She nodded and I handed them to her. Heck, what's an extra 12 hours in a pair of panties when you're three years old?

I brushed her teeth and asked her to please use the potty. She refused.

Another gauntlet. This time I employed Runkel's choices and consequences speech (page 106). I told her she could use the toilet and I'd read her books or she could not use the potty and go to bed without stories. It was up to her. She crossed her legs, pulled up her pajamas and I put her to bed, whimpering. She cried "stories, stories..." for about 5-10 minutes before she finally fell asleep.

It was an exhausting and frustrating hour, but I'm glad I didn't lose control. I didn't really get exactly the compliance I was hoping for, but ScreamFree Parenting stresses that obedience is for dogs, growing responsible, loving adults is the purpose of parenting.

"Your number-one leadership role in the family is that of a calming authority."

By staying consistent, even-tempered and cool, I modeled good behavior. By leaving Z's room, I gave her space, and by empowering her to make her own choices, I showed her respect without giving up discipline.

Santa who?

This is the Christmas I've dreaded since Z was born. She's three. She's a preschooler. And she's got friends with chimneys, stockings and jolly fat men on their minds.

Friends who believe. In Santa Claus.

Last week we were speeding down I-294 when I heard, "Mommy! Mommy, there's Santa!"

She'd seen the man in red on a carpet billboard.

"I'm going to look for more Santas, okay Mommy?"

She didn't see any more (it was the first week in November), but I felt the first twinge of Xmas anxiety.

How long until Z finds out that Santa's not just another colorful cartoon character like Frosty the Snowman, but the bearer of gifts? I can't just tell her Santa's a fake and let her spill the beans to all her little buddies. After all, I remember telling a first grade friend that in fact her parents were putting presents under her tree. She burst into tears and I'm sure her mother had words with mine.

Growing up in an intermarried family with a Jewish mom and formerly Methodist dad, we celebrated Chanukah and a sort of improvised Christmas. We'd hang our socks (or tights if we were feeling greedy) up and wait for my mom to stuff them with oranges, Chanukah gelt, bath cubes and the toiletries she'd collected from airline flights and hotel rooms. Then we'd sneak downstairs and fill our parents' socks with pennies and homemade gift certificates. If I ever believed in Santa, I don't remember it. But I liked raiding my stocking for treasures.

Now that I'm married to a another Jew, I don't feel comfortable celebrating even the most secularized of Christmas traditions at our house. Which means there's no reason to indulge in any Santa Claus fantasies.

So what to do? My instinct is just to explain to Z that Santa comes to some houses, but not to Jewish ones. I'm hoping she'll understand that different families have different traditions, and while her friends might decorate a tree and wait for presents from Santa, we light a menorah, eat latkes, play driedel and exchange gifts with our friends and family instead.

Cross-posted to Chicago Moms Blog.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Friday, November 09, 2007

Morbidity and nursery rhymes

Z and I have been reading There Was an Old Woman Who Swallowed a Fly before bed this week. Yesterday afternoon she said to me:

"Grandma Lorraine was old, right?"
"Grandma Lorraine was old and she died, right?"
"That's right, she was very old when she died."
"Just like the old woman who swallowed a fly!"

Perhaps she'll die.

Vote for him? I've barely heard of him!

I took this survey to find out which Presidential candidate's platform best aligned with my political views, and it matched me up with Alaska Senator Mike Gravel. I only know of him because I heard an NPR story last week about how he was left out of a recent NBC Democratic debate because he hadn't raised his profile or enough money (or both).

Anyway, both Gravel and Ohio Vegan Dennis Kucinich support over 90 percent of my views. Hillary Clinton shows a 78 percent match and local favorite Barack Obama matches up with me 73 percent of the time.

The more I read about Mike Gravel, the more I admire the guy, but I'm not going to vote exclusively on platform. I also consider personality, electability and how each candidate might be perceived in other countries, both friendly and hostile.

Remembering Pakistan

I've been following the news coverage of Benazir Bhutto's return and the chaos consuming Pakistan with interest. You see, I lived in Pakistan from 1988 to January 1991, leaving on a 747 packed with American and Canadian evacuees the day George Bush the Elder started the first Gulf War.

Growing up in the Foreign Service, I heard a lot of talk about how "home" is where your family is, it's a feeling of belonging, not a town where you put down roots.

But I never felt like Islamabad was home.

I was a boy-crazy middle schooler when we arrived in the country, and the first week we were there the U.S. Ambassador and the President of Pakistan, Zia, were killed in a suspicious helicopter crash. We couldn't tell anyone we were Jewish. I turned 13 without having a bat mitzvah. We had a chowkidar, an armed guard who was stationed at the end of our driveway. The skinny guy in a shalwar kameez may have made us safer, but I hated him for throwing rocks at our dog.

Occasionally my sister and I would venture to the local market alone, but even dressed in modest local clothing, we were always gawked at, leered at, hissed at.

Outside of Islamabad, it was even worse. I was overwhelmed by the poverty and disease that surrounded us. There were so many people with so little, and it was always a crowd, a crush of humanity. I still remember the smell, ripe with the scent of rotting mangos, chicken blood, slaughtered sheep, unwashed bodies and open sewers. And everywhere, the smell and haze of burning trash. Even the more inviting smells of fresh chapatis, fried snacks and curry couldn't compete. I began to think women wore shawls to cover their noses when they went outside.

Just outside the capital, children with wide, kohl-lined eyes and filthy, tattered clothes would bang on our car, crying baksheesh, baksheeh, begging for rupees. Flea-ridden dogs dug through open piles of trash, but even the open sores on their backs and bellies couldn't keep us from scratching their heads.

There are good memories too. I loved seeing the elaborately decorated buses and trucks along the otherwise terrifying highways. I remember the blare of music that invited me into yet another stall of pirated cassette tapes. I recall glimpsing Pakistani women at an in-home hair salon, dressed to the nines, gilded with gold jewelry and elaborately made up.

But mostly I remember a country teetering on the edge of chaos. A crowded place where the young male policemen held hands and demanded bribes. And where being born a girl is a curse.

Bah humbug!

The FBI is warning Americans that Al-Qaeda may be planning to bomb shopping malls in Chicago and LA. Fisher-Price is recalling yet another batch of toys for toddlers. And Aqua Dots, a toy on Wal-Mart's top 12 toy gifts list, are being recalled because they contain a date rape drug. It's so unbelievable you'd think it was an Onion headline.

So what's a mommy to do? I've already got a short-than-usual shopping season ahead because Chanukah is early this year. Last year I said the hell with presents and made donations to Heifer in honor of all of our adult family members, and I'm tempted to do the same this time around. As for the children on my list, I will be shopping for quality books and toys online and at local mom-and-pop shops like Geppetto's Toy Box and Berwyn's Toy Trains. I'll look to the Cool Mom Picks Safer Toys guide and the Lead Free Toys list maintained by fellow Chicago Moms Blogger Marcie Pickel.

And I just may join the Consumers Union's Get the Lead Out Advocacy campaign, which I heard about from my friends at Parent Bloggers Network. This grassroots effort is designed to let store owners and Congress know after a year of scary recalls, we need to get serious about toy safety. And food safety too, but that's a whole 'nother post!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Holding my stomach in and my head high

After spending my maternity leave in yoga pants and soft jersey t-shirts, I'm rediscovering how control top tights feel by the end of the day.

Tight. Kind of like sausage casings.

But thanks to those sausage casings, I look pretty darn good for a woman who only had a baby 3 1/2 months ago and has had neither the services of a personal trainer or a nutritionist/personal chef at my disposal. I'm 7 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight and I can get back into 95 percent of my old clothes.

I was surprised to discover this when, on Monday afternoon, I hauled up a big pile of work clothes and tried to figure out what I'd wear for my first week back and what needed to go to the dry cleaner for some professional ironing.

And guess what? It's fun to get dressed to work (provided I plan my wardrobe the night before and not while washing my hair or changing the morning's third poopy diaper). I feel better about myself when I'm wearing something cute (my new Privo Tip mary janes are so very adorable!). And I love knowing that I can wear the same clothes for 10 hours straight without getting spit up on the shoulder down my cleavage. I can accessorize with a tote instead of a diaper bag, and if I dare to wear lipstick, I don't have to worry about leaving sparkles on my baby's scalp.

That said, I'm stripping off these tights the minute I get home and slipping into something a little more comfortable.

Hello yoga pants.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Back to work

Returning to the office after a four month maternity leave was a piece of cake.

Probably because there wasn't any real work for me to do. I begged IT to help me crack the passwords on my new iMac, attended to informational meetings, raided the office supply closet for pens, pencils and staples, said hello to a bunch of people (3 of whom are pregnant!) and pumped 12 ounces of milk. Not exactly a model of productivity, but the day went by in a flash.

The agency is in the midst of a massive reorganization, so I don't know who I will be working for what I'll be working on. Apparently everyone will know more by week's end.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Happy 3rd Birthday, Z!

Dear Z,

What a year! In November of 2006, you were a doll, but you were still sleeping in a crib and pooping in your pants.

Now you've moved into a big girl bed, said goodbye to diapers and thrown your sippy cups to the wind. You've ridden a trike, become a big sister and started preschool. You finally started using fluoride toothpaste.

And you've become quite the conversationalist. You remember names, places and our plans for the week. You tell jokes. You even lie once in a while (but your face gives you away).

You love movies. In addition to the Disney Princess greatest hits (Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and Sleeping Beauty), you're a fan of Toy Story 1 & 2, The Jungle Book, Mary Poppins, Alice and Wonderland and The Muppet Show.

You like to play with dolls and act out scenes from your favorite fairy tales and our own lives. Sometimes it seems like every sentence you utter begins with "Pretend." As in, "Pretend I'm the mommy and you're the little girl and you don't want to go to bed," or "Pretend I'm the Cinderella and you're the Prince and we're marrying. Where's your ring?"

You collect small treasures and squirrel them away around the house. Acorns, pennies, plastic spider rings and ugly rocks you find along the sidewalk--you horde these little items, inventory them and... then usually forget about them a week later.

I could go on and on, but I'm returning to work tomorrow and I need my beauty rest. This past year has been a joy, and I've loved being home with you and your little sis for the last four months of it.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

The pajama jammy jam

Z's third birthday party went off without a hitch. All the kids (most of whom are pictured here) wore their PJs and chowed down on whipped cream-laden pancakes and Hello Kitty waffles before we brought out a coffee cake with candles and sang Happy Birthday.

Our amazing babysitter Paula helped the kids create necklaces with Fruity Cheerios and stamp designs onto pillowcases, which they got to take home.

What worked? It was early, so all the kids were at their best. The novelty of wearing their jammies out of the house was really appealing to these 2 and 3-year-olds. The food was easy to prepare and kept everyone happy. I didn't waste any money on the Made in China goodie bag crap I hate so much. And it was all over by 11:30!

Friday, November 02, 2007


My sister Eleanor is visiting from Australia with her darling 5 month old daughter Eliza, pictured here with Baby A.

Z is really into Eliza, particularly since Eleanor's let her help spoon feed her!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Making progress at Montessori

Today was our very first parent-teacher conference. But since Z is enrolled in a traditional Montessori school, it was called "Observation."

Josh and I were invited to silently observe Z's classroom for about 45 minutes, after which we joined her head teacher for a conversation in the gym. We watched her do her "big work," which ranged from practical to sensorial to math. For each project, she'd unroll a carpet, carefully bring the materials to her carpet and ask the teacher to check her completed work. Then she'd diligently clean up and put all the materials and roll up her rug. When she was ready for her snack, she washed her hands and set her place with a china dish and a napkin. She served herself a handful of Cheerios and a cheese stick and poured herself a glass of apple juice from a small glass pitcher. It's amazing how capable and reliable preschoolers are when they're shown how to do something. Z beams with pride at her accomplishments.

We knew she'd been enjoying preschool, but now it is clear to us that she is thriving there. She's the youngest student in the school, but apparently she's keeping up with the rest of the 3-year-olds. Her teacher said she's always on task, very verbal, well-mannered and making friends. She even has a best friend, Sophie, who is coming over for a playdate tomorrow.

I'm so proud of her and glad I enrolled her. I'm already a Montessori true believer.

Halloween burnout

I heard my almost three-year-old say the following while trick-or-treating Halloween night:

"Does this candy have nuts?"
"My treat bag is too heavy."
"Can I have a lollipop now?"
"Can I have a chocolate bar at home?"

And, after we'd visited maybe 10 houses on our block...

"I'm done. Take my costume off."

And when I asked her if I could have a piece of candy...

"No, Mommy. It's bad for your teeth."