Monday, June 30, 2008

"That's a funny thing to do with a drink"

How exactly are you supposed to explain beer bonging on the subway to your three year old? Because that's exactly what a group of young people were doing at 11am Sunday morning on an eastbound Blue Line train.

Stevie Wonder at the Taste

We did it. We brought Z and Baby A to the Taste of Chicago's biggest draw: Stevie Wonder. I detailed our adventures on the Chicago Moms Blog. Click on over to Stevie, it's a Wonder we made it at all.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Z gets her groove on

Dancing in the park from almaklein on Vimeo.
More weekend snapshots (including some great pics at Millennium Park's Crown Fountain) can be see on my Flickr page.

Mom as first responder

Do me a favor: get yourself first aid kit like this one. That way you'll be prepared for the moment when you have to grab your baby out of the bathtub and run downstairs to clean, bandage and tightly wrap the nasty gash your husband has on his ankle. A gash he got by putting giant, unwrapped shards of broken glass in the kitchen garbage. I didn't have to upend my linen closet and medicine cabinet to find everything I needed. It was all there--alcohol wipes, gauze, large bandages and medical tape.

While is a fairly deep, nasty cut, it seemed more urgent care clinic worthy than emergency room worthy. Naturally the urgent care clinic closed 15 minutes after we'd stopped the bleeding. So Josh toughed it out overnight and is at the clinic now. We'll see if he ends up getting stitches.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Say what?

Today, at Corner Bakery:
"Look, Z, that lady has a baby in her belly."
"Oh yeah! Hey, she can't have lunch!"
"Why not?"
"Because the baby would get all dirty!"

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Slate's got my number

My sister gets Lyme Disease and Slate publishes The life story of a tick. My best friend steps down from her job as a social worker at a seriously mismanaged agency for part-time work at fairly well-run day care center and Emily Yoffe answers the question Can I cut it as a day care worker?

Now if they'd just write an article on getting a preschooler to go to bed cheerfully, without an hour's worth of tearful drama...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Today I drove a Prius

I'm generally quite happy with my 2005 Honda CR-V, but with gas prices and global warming heating up, up, up, I've contracted a major case of hybrid lust. I got to stoke that yearning today when I headed out with some co-workers for a few hours of retail reconnaissance. We rented an electric blue Toyota Prius and took turns driving it. It's really a good way!

First of all, there's no ignition in which to put a key. With the key fob inside the car, you just press the power button on the dashboard. It's like turning on a computer. There's no sound since the engine isn't turning over, but the previously invisible speedometer appears at the far end of the long dashboard, right under the windshield. A touchscreen above the CD player also flickers to life, and you can use it to see if you're using the battery or the gas engine, monitor your fuel efficiency, change the radio station or adjust the climate control.

Driving the Prius was fun. I'm no automotive expert, but it seemed to handle nicely. I quickly adjusted to the unusual gearshift and gauges and I found myself trying to maximize my MPGs. The back window is small, so visibility out the rearview mirror is poor. But you don't have to worry when backing up--the touchscreen is connected to a rearview camera that displays everything behind you!

I also sat in the backseat, which is just as spacious as that in my small SUV. There are the requisite cup holders and plenty of spacious storage caddies. The hatchback trunk offers a lot less cargo room than I'm used to, but once we're out of double stroller territory, I would happily downsize to a car like this.

Monday, June 23, 2008

She can't read yet...

But Z just won her first prizes in the Oak Park Public Library's summer reading program. She took home a glow bug, a "grow bug" and a free pass to our local movie theatre!

No compassion at the candy counter

Have you heard about the Rocky Mountain Candy Company location that denied a mother's pleas to give her 5 year old girl access to a bathroom? The child was moaning "diarrhea, diarrhea," and as any parent knows, you've got seconds to spare when that happens.

Anyway, the counter staff denied her requests for mercy and the poor kid crapped her pants. But get this: when mom called up the store to speak to the manager, "She told me to sue if it makes me feel happy."

I understand that many stores have an employees-only policy on bathrooms, but I've never encountered anything but graciousness when I've had to ask permission on my child's behalf. Yes, I've dodged tubs of cleaning fluid, leaning mop towers and huge bags of flour, but navigating a little clutter is worth it when your kid's "gotta go right now!" I left a comment on the company's customer service page letting them know I'm outraged by their lack of compassion.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Baby A: 11 months old

Taunted as I am by the empty back half my second-born's baby book, I felt the need to capture a few notes about Baby A at 11 months old.
Weight: approximately 20 lbs.
Size: Adorably chubby, in stark contrast to her slim sister. She's wearing clothes at 11 months that Z wore at 22 months.
Words she says regularly: Mama, Dada, all done, mo (more), hi, bye, Nana (for Adriana)
Words she knows: There are probably many more I'm not thinking of, but she definitely know her sister's name, up, cat, dog, banana, eat, nurse, milk, bottle, bath, outside, no, ball and uh-uh
Physical milestones: A started crawling right around 10 months and figured out how to pull herself up at 11 months. She can "walk" holding onto an adult's hands or by cruising along furniture. She's learning to climb the stairs, but needs a lot of supervision. She can clap, wave hi and bye, splash water, guide a spoon to her mouth and put food into our mouths.
Favorite foods: fruit, fruit and dairy products. She loves strawberries, grapes, peaches, plums, blueberries and bananas. Plain yogurt, natural cheese, raisins, graham crackers and Goldfish are favorite snacks. A's also a big fan of chicken and pasta and likes salmon, meatballs, black beans and most vegetables.
Favorite activities: bathtime, swimming at the pool, wagon rides with her sister or cousin, playing ball, taking things out of boxes, bags and purses, eating refrigerator magnets, mobile phones and other forbidden items, executing a sideways flip while undergoing a diaper change.

A relationship blooms

Z's behavior has been pretty stellar this weekend, a welcome reprieve after the temper tantrums she dealt me last night. She's still testing limits with me (far more than with her daddy, incidentally), but she's been amazing to her little sister.

I guess it feels pretty good to be adored. Baby A can't get enough of her big sister, and Z likes having an audience that goes (literally) gaga for her antics. She plays peek-a-boo, brings her toys, feeds her snacks and entertains her in the wagon. She even lets A pull her hair because it gives the baby such a thrill.

Yesterday as we were pulling the girls home from a frozen custard run to Hole in the Wall, Z tickled her sister's stomach and made up this little rhyme: "[Baby's] tummy is really funny!"

I took both girls to the pool this morning, and even though I gave Z permission to paddle away from me in her swim vest, A shrieked, waved and kicked, demanding we chase her big sister down. .

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

At war with my preschooler

Dinnertime is testy and bath time is awash with tears. Assuming I even bother. Z refuses to wear pajamas (and most clothes, for that matter) because they're so uncomfortable.

I can't get her to sit on the potty before bed for love or money. The whole nighttime routine has, for no apparent reason, become a high-stakes battleground. My sweet 3 1/2 year old household ally has been transformed into a whiny, defiant little rogue nation intent on challenging me at every turn.

Why has my daughter declared war, and where exactly is this leading? I can't exactly draw up a peace accord with a tiny irrational dictator (who really shouldn't be doing any dictating). But as tempting as it's been, I refuse to go George Bush on her ass and exert my power with force. As tempting as it may be.

Anyone want to come and practice some mother-daughter diplomacy? Supernanny, I'm looking at you.

Birthday surprises

My team surprised me at work yesterday with delicious, adorable cupcakes from Sarah's Candies, which I now know is located dangerously close to my office at Macy's. The cake Josh bought me from Alliance Bakery was even more mouthwatering: vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream, filled with lemon curd and decorated with elegant green roses. I dug in without taking a picture, but here's a glimpse at the birthday portrait my mom commissioned. It is now framed and hanging in our basement family room.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

My big fat gay cousin's wedding: tonight on Nightline

My cousins Mike and Dave are now officially married. ABC News has been filming them for the past few days in San Francisco and barring any major news events, they should be on the evening news as well as Nightline tonight.

And before my aunt writes in to criticize this post's title, it should be noted that while once upon a time my cousin could wash down an entire pizza with a 2 liter of Coke, he is now quite svelte.

UPDATE! Here's the ABC News segment.

I got a code on my birfday

Hopefully I won't be too stuffed up to taste my vanilla-lemon birthday cake tonight.

As far as my birthday haul goes, my bike trailer hasn't arrived from BabyAge yet, but I got some lovely jewelry from my sister, a family portrait by this local artist from my mom and electronic greetings from friends and relatives, my dentist, Sephora and Cold Stone Creamery. Unfortunately the ice cream parlor's "free birthday creation" coupon seems incompatible with any Mac browser.

I've always loved celebrating my birthday (except for last year when my Grandma died that day), and today is no exception. The last 12 months were busy and truly blessed. I gave birth to my second (and likely last) child, took my newborn to BlogHer, and enjoyed a summerlong maternity leave. I walked Z to preschool for the very first time and saw her finish her first year at Montessori a very mature, bright little girl. I invested in some major home improvements, landscaping our yard and finishing the basement. And I switched jobs, leaving OgilvyAction, where I'd worked for almost 8 years, for a new position at Arc Worldwide.

I can't imagine 32 will hold as many milestones, but I'm ready for the ride. First up? Baby A's first birthday party, taking two kids to the Pitchfork Music Festival and Lollapalooza and a trip to Portland to visit Franny and family.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Lyme Disease, power outages and a lost child... oh my!

Between 8 and 9am this morning, my sister received a diagnosis of Lyme Disease and filled a prescription for antibiotics and a massive thunderstorm knocked out our power, downing trees in our neighborhood. We still made it to synagogue by 9:05 for the wedding, albeit with frizzy bangs (on me) and no makeup (on Eleanor). Z agreed to wear her floral dress, but refused to put the baby's breath wreath in her hair and perform the duties of flower girl, which had really only been added to the ceremony for her benefit.
By the time the Sunday brunch reception began at the Signature Room on the 95th floor of the John Hancock Building, the skies had cleared for a truly spectacular view and a delicious spread of food.

Only since we had spent the morning without power, Josh missed the first 45 minutes of the party as he trolled around looking for a place with wireless Internet so he could file his review of last night's Billy Bragg show. Z spent most of the reception without any underpants on under her dress as she somehow soaked them while using the bathroom.
We had a lovely party with low drama for about an hour. Then, just as everyone was getting ready to leave, Z walks up to me and says, "Can I have a picture taken with Rick's daughters?" Or so I thought. Apparently she'd actually said, "Can I take pictures with Rick's daughter." And what she meant was "Can I leave the room and wander the Signature Room with Ella, Lindsay and Robbie as we look for more windows out of which Ella can take pictures."

I reached into the diaper bag to get my camera so that I could take a picture of her with Rick's daughters, but when I turned around she was gone.

"Why'd you let Z leave by herself," Josh asked me. "I didn't!" I exclaimed and we both raced out of the private party room to find her. Five or 10 minutes later everyone was searching the restaurant, hallways and bathrooms for the missing kids, and Josh and I were getting increasingly panicked. Finally, Josh found them looking out the windows on the lounge one floor up. Josh yelled at Z. Z got hysterical. And I think Ella felt pretty terrible.

The ride home was a bit of an ordeal as Z was dying of thirst (we stopped at Subway for a chocolate milk) and Baby A was so overtired not even her bottle or binkie would pacify her.

Yet in spite of everything, I enjoyed seeing my relatives (both old and new) and my house is relatively neat. But I have a feeling returning to work tomorrow will be more relaxing than any of the past 7 days.

Wedding bells ring for all

Today my mom is getting married. And on June 17th (my birthday and my Grandma Lorraine's yahrzeit, incidentally), my cousin Mike and his partner Dave will get married legally in California. They had a Jewish commitment ceremony 10 years ago in Omaha, but they couldn't be issued a marriage license. Now they finally can. Follow their journey on Mike's blog or read about them in their local newspaper.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A few moments I'd rather forget

On Thursday I had my debit card refused at Costco as I tried to check out with a $350 cart full of stuff, much of which was refrigerated or frozen food for the Prenuptial BBQ. Apparently my card has a $300 daily limit. And no, I didn't have my checkbook on me. I had to go to the customer service desk with my full cart and my tired and hungry three year old to call Chase and get my limit raised. They were very helpful, but it still took me 30 minutes to get the hell out of Dodge.

I should mention also that I had to stop on the way to Costco because Z had to "go potty right now." We were on North Avenue, in a questionable neighborhood. I passed hair braiding salon after liquor store before finally finding a Dunkin Donuts with a clean restroom where I had the pleasure of watching my daughter sit on the toilet for 20 minutes. Talk about time standing still. There is nothing so tedious as watching your child take her sweet time on a public crapper.

But at least that bathroom was tidy. Today I got to spend 20 minutes watching her poop in the public restroom at Taylor Park, where we attended a birthday party this morning (oh my God this day's been so long it already feels like a lifetime ago). Now this bathroom was nasty. I'm talking sewagey water on the floor, no toilet seat, spiders hanging from the ceiling, no soap or paper towels nasty. Yet my daughter's perfectly happy to sit on the TP I've artfully arranged on the prison-style potty, swing her legs and ask me why did that dead spider hanging from a thread next to her nest die?

She finally shit and got off the pot, only to throw up five minutes into her hot dog lunch.
Ah, motherhood.

I am not the hostess with the mostest

But I try.

In the past 36 hours, I have hosted two dinners at my house. Last night I had 17 people eating Jewel fried chicken along with store bought and homemade salads, a cheese and crackers platter, tortillas and salsa and a case of Goose Island Summertime.

On less than two hours notice.

I had suggested the lot of us head down to Millennium Park to picnic and take in the Grant Park Orchestra, but too many people were too tired from sightseeing to head back into the city. And since we are nominally the hosts of this family reunion/wedding weekend, it made sense that everyone come to our house and picnic in our backyard. Of course, as soon as we got tables set up it started to rain. So we moved the festivities indoors and onto my front porch, which I really should use more often. Right now it's cluttered with outgrown baby clothes and gear I'm hoping to unload at the block yard sale next weekend. (More to plan? Ugh.)

This evening was the long-planned prenuptial BBQ for 25 in our backyard. It went fabulously well, but wasn't nearly as much fun for me as it would have been if I were a guest. Yeah, I get some satisfaction from showing people a good time, but I'd rather be kicking back at a picnic table catching up with people and sipping wine than setting and resetting the overloaded buffet and manning the grill. (Yes, that's my job in this family, too.) Oh, and I try checking on my kids once in a while to make sure they're still alive and nominally fed.

We had an all-American feast of hamburgers, hot dogs and brats with my special potato salad, my neighbor Sharon's coleslaw, fruit salad, watermelon, chocolate chip cookies and rhubarb pie. Only the Costco "sushi" platter veered from the theme.

Tomorrow my mom marries Rick. By the time I post again I'll have gained a stepfather and two stepsisters. I like them all, but because I'm an adult, they're adults (just barely) and we're not living together (or even in the same state), I'm have a hard time thinking of them as my step-family. Instead, Rick's more like a new father-in-law (a father by marriage) and Ella and Emily are my daughters' two newest aunts.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

It's all good

Our trip to Sawyer, Michigan was a success. Sights were seen. Naps were (largely) taken.
And I've resolved to never again vacation anywhere unless water is very close by. We spent a lot of time in the pool.
We've got a dozen relatives in town for a family reunion and my Mom's wedding, so I'm too talked out to blog, if that makes sense.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Summer Vacation Part 2: Forgetful runs in the family

My sister outdid Josh in the forgetfulness department today. At 5am this morning she and her husband packed up their baby and a month's worth of luggage and took a cab to Dulles Airport. Only their flight to Chicago was from National. Fortunately they were only delayed by a few hours and out two long cab fares.

Before they arrived we checked out the soggy, deserted local beach. Z stripped off her clothes and ran in the shallow water, pretending she was the Little Mermaid. A tried to eat sand.

When Eleanor's family finally arrived (with the help of their in-dash GPS), I got to see my adorable toddling niece and watch my kids interact with their one and only cousin. The two little ones engaged in parallel play and handed toys back and forth a bit, and Z enjoyed being the ringleader for a change. 

I got to (wo)man the grill again tonight. Yesterday I grilled locally made Italian sausages; today I made barbecue chicken and corn on the cob. 

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Summer Vacation Part 1: The stuff we left behind

"Considering how much you over-packed*, I wonder what we forgot," Josh mused as we pulled out of our driveway around noon.
We discovered the answer that afternoon as I was getting the kids into their swimsuits: his swim trunks. Considering this is one of the few places in the U.S. without a Kmart/Wal-Mart/Target nearby, I offered to take Z on a shopping adventure this morning, and we headed for the Lighthouse Outlets in Michigan City, Indiana, about 15 miles away.
We left the house a little after 9:30 so that we could arrive around opening time at 10am. When we pulled up at 10:05, things looked awfully, um, closed. I glanced at my phone and it said 9:12. Damn time zone switch! We had 45 minutes to kill, so I bought my skinny little girl a mini trucker's breakfast at a real time warp of a diner. Aside from my daughter, I was the youngest patron there by about 40 years.
When the outlets opened, we sped through, picking up swim trunks for Josh and jelly shoes and pajamas for Z and her sister at the Gap and a couple of tees and cotton dresses for Z at Osh Gosh. We also got some pool and sand toys at KB Toys Outlet (buy 2, get 1 one free) and a few snacks at Pepperidge Farm.
Hopefully Z will actually take her nap (she making dramatic noises right now) so we can spend the afternoon in the pool.

*I did not over pack. The Pack N Play, booster seat and stroller may be bulky, but life without them would suck.

Friday, June 06, 2008

It's summer and I'm going on vacation

The mercury hit 90 in Chicago yesterday, and the wet blanket of warm air continues today. I kind of wish we could enjoy some semblance of spring in this city, but what can I do? I feel like I just turned off the heat for good and now I'm helping Josh install a hernia-inducing A/C unit in dining room window.

Oh, but wait! Tomorrow starts our summer vacation! We're driving to Sawyer, Michigan (aka Harbor Country®) for five nights of rest and relaxation* at a VRBO house with a pool. Except we're not going alone. Oh no! My sister, her Australian husband and their dual-passport-holding 12 month old will be there (all the way from Sydney). My mom and her fiance Rick will be there. And in semi-late-breaking news his two daughters may be joining us. Or not. Even though my mom and future step dad are packing up their Hyundai today, his late teens/early 20s kids haven't figured out if their driving, flying, or Greyhound busing it to Sawyer. Apparently the anal retentive gene is hereditary and we're not related.

Hopefully we'll all enjoy a lovely week of sandy beaches, coordinated nap times and gourmet meals (I'm looking at you, Simon). And we won't kill each other over heated games of Scrabble, too much use of the free wireless Internet and the inevitable jockeying for the bathrooms. I'll try to do my share of hogging the computer and blog from the beach.

*With two small children, I don't really expect much in the way of rest and relaxation. I'll settle for drippy ice cream cones, sandy diaper changes and the smell of sunblock.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

E-mail marketing done lamely

I'm a marketer. I have nothing against receiving timely, useful information from brands and retail stores that interest me. Communications I've opted into. Which is why I was surprised to find this offer in my inbox yesterday.

For starters, who designed this atrocity? Is it all about the money--no appetite appeal at all? Who thought I wanted to hear from Klondike? I don't like Klondike bars and I've never bought one.

Someone should send the digital marketing folks at Unilever this checklist from Seth Godin, a small portion of which I'm reprinting here.

1. Is it going to just one person? No
2. Since it's going to a group, have I though about who is on my list? No
4. Did every person on the list really and truly opt in? No like sort of, but really ask for it? No
5. So that means that if I didn't sent it to them, they'd complain about not getting it? No
And so on and so forth...

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Best tattoo ever

I took Z to Kiddieland for a preschool fundraiser Saturday afternoon, where I saw this gem of a tat on a mother of three young boys. I love that she asked her tattoo artist to include her toddler's pacifier and titled the picture "Angels in Disguise." It's so classy! Interestingly enough, the "dad" with her at the park did not in any way resemble the bearded dude on her back. For starters, he looked like he weighed at least 300 pounds.

Of course, Z was too busy riding the rides to notice.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Barack Obama is speechifying

And it's electrifying. I'm a blue-eyed, pale-faced Jewish girl, but I'm positively thrilled to see a Black candidate for President--and not just any person of color, but a passionate, intelligent leader who I sincerely hope will be our next President.

Will we end up with a female Vice-President? I think Hillary would make a good VP, but I'm worried that adding her to the ticket would further alienate otherwise swinging Republicans.

I think I need a glass of water

Link: Summer's most unhealthy drinks

She said "milk"

As I was throwing an empty bottle into Baby A's daycare bag this morning, she lunged for it, whimpered a bit and then said, "Milk."

I hustled her next door to Adriana's, but it was clear that she wanted a bottle in spite of the fact that she doesn't usually get one until after her morning nap. And then I figured out why she was hungry. I'd nursed her at 4:30am this morning before putting her back in her crib, where she slept until 6:30. It didn't occur to me to offer her any more milk when she woke up because I was already out of bed and showered!

"Milk" isn't her first word, though. She's been saying "Mama" and "hi" with some regularity, "mo" for "more" and something that sounds a lot like "All done!" when she's finished eating (right before she sweeps everything off her highchair tray).