Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Just then my Blackberry starts buzzing. It's Paula. "Oh good, you're back. I was so worried!" She races to tell me she's lost my house key and couldn't get in to feed Oscar that morning. She'd even had her mom (a well-known Oak Park family practice doctor) call some of our neighbors to see if they had a copy of our key.
I reassure Paula that Oscar's okay, she can come get her payment whenever and not to worry about the key. But that drama was small potatoes compared to what we were in for a few hours later.
Sunday night A wakes up, as she has been since campaigning to go Pull-Up free, at midnight. I take her to the potty, and then back to her crib. She hollers bloody murder, and after about half an hour of it, we bring her to our bed. She demands water, hogs the pillows and covers and kicks me in the face repeatedly. After a few stern warnings, Josh tells her the party's over and deposits her back in her crib. Hysterical crying commences and goes on for two bloody hours. At some point I close our door to minimize the damage to my eardrums and psyche.
Trapping Oscar inside.
Exhausted from the midnight battles, I sleep like the dead and don't hear the cat meowing and scratching at our door. Josh apparently does, but figures Oscar probably just wants to be fed.
Around 5:40, Josh wakes me up. "Um, I think Oscar might have..." I shift and find myself in the middle of a warm wet spot. How can A have wet the bed, I wonder, didn't we put her back in her room? Josh continues, "I think Oscar pooped in our room somewhere."
I dawns on me that the zoo like smell and the warm spot are probably connected and we start stripping our bed. The piss has soaked through our down comforter, sheets and mattress pad, but the mattress is still dry.
The good news is that our "dry clean or professionally launder" comforter comes our spotless and odor-free after a vinegar-enhanced trip through the washer and extended stay in the dryer (with a tennis ball). The bad news is that our room still smells. I sprinkle the carpet with baking powder, light candles and still the odor remains. I'm sniffing the mattress, wondering if somehow the cat piss has infected it when Josh discovers a giant cat turd in my walk-in closet. Gross, but at least he laid waste to my old Crocs instead of my new boots. And once that mess was cleaned up, the bedroom was fresh as a G-d damn daisy.
And we learned our lesson. Never keep a kitten from his litter box. And quit reinforcing A's bad habit of "sleeping in the big bed with Mama." Operation tough love began last night.
He didn't mean to be bad...
Friday, December 25, 2009
While the rest of America was unwrapping Snuggies and drinking hot cocoa, Josh and I drove the girls from Arlington, VA to West Chester, PA, home of my in-laws and resting place of my wedding dress, which I hadn't tried on in 10 1/2 years.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
While I've had brunch (and enjoyed the views) on top of the John Hancock Building a couple of times, until Monday I'd never been to the top of the Sears--nay, the Willis--Tower. Its taller, but due to its South Loop location, less glamorous than its Mag Mile skyscraping cousin.
But thanks to a tweetup organized by Kim Moldofsky, my whole family got to take in Chicago from 103 stories up. We were treated to free entry, oversized cookies, VIP line-jumping and unlimited photo-ops on the Skydeck Ledge, a brilliant example of tourist catnip if there ever was one.
Josh and I weren't scared. Z was a little cautious at first. And A wouldn't put her feet down anywhere near the glass.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Z with Evan, who she's loved since she was in diapers
Julia, one of Z's best friends, actually spent much of the evening leading A around by the hand.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Just a few days before Silver received her grim diagnosis, my friend Kirsten, a soft-hearted pet lover if there ever was one, rescued this kitten from an organic farm. It had been dumped on the property a few days beforehand and had been trying in vain to get into the farmhouse. The farmer didn't think he'd survive the winter as a barn/farm cat, so Kirsten and her equally soft-hearted mom scooped him up and brought him to Oak Park, determined to find the guy a home.
I just returned from a two week visit to Australia, where my sister lives with her Australian husband and their family. As far as foreign countries go, it takes a long, long time to get there, but it is pretty familiar territory once you land. A thoroughly modern, cosmopolitan city, Sydney kind of looks like Southern California, complete with tattooed surfers, texting teenagers, Target, McDonald's, Subway and KFC outlets.
But Australia isn't America Down Under, and they've got a few things I'd like to import.
1. Public Health Care
Yeah, this is a big one. No one in Australia goes uninsured. Everyone has access to the state-run Medicare plan. Yes, you might have to wait a few months to get non-emergency work done, but you won't have to mortgage your house or go bankrupt to pay for it. Once your household reaches a certain income level, you can pay a penalty (I believe it is $2000) to stay in the public plan or you can opt to buy private insurance. In my sister's case, private insurance cost about the same as the penalty but got her access to "fancier" care like a post-partum recovery suite at a local hotel where she had catered meals and 24/7 access to a private maternity nurse.
2. Enforcement of Driving Laws
Obviously regulations vary from place to place in the U.S., but at least in Chicago it takes a lot to get yourself pulled over and a whole lot to lose your license. In Australia traffic fines are high, enforcement is constant (traffic cameras and random roadblocks with breathalyzer tests are common) and it isn't uncommon to meet someone who has lose his or her license for 6 months for accumulating too many points. Yeah, there's a little less freedom on the open road, but I didn't see anyone speeding, talking or texting while driving. In general, drivers were courteous and pedestrians respected.
3. More Natural Foods
I couldn't find a single processed food item in Australia with high fructose corn syrup. Not Heinz ketchup, not Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice Cocktail, not peanut butter, jelly or crackers. The candy Smarties (basically Nestle's answer to M&Ms) was running an outdoor campaign touting "no artificial colors." Even Kraft Singles were a natural shade of white instead of orange. The egg selection at the store was a revelation. Each package described not only whether the eggs were organic or free range, but whether they were raised in a barn or a field. And they were delicious.
4. Dual Flush Toilets
It doesn't take a genius to know that you don't need the same amount of water to wash away number 1 as you do for number 2. In Australia, whether you're at a public restroom or at home, you select your flush. It just makes so much sense. Can someone please explain to me why dual flush toilets haven't taken off in the U.S.?
5. Parents with Prams Parking
I was astonished to find that my sister's local shopping center, an indoor mall with a Target, Big W (Walmart), a bunch of mall-type boutiques and a food court, had an entire section of the parking garage dedicated to "parents with prams" (that's strollers to us Yanks). Those not headed to family parking don't even pass through! Imagine how wonderful it would be to park close to the entrance in a special lot where every other driver is on the lookout for small children on the loose and no one will impatiently tap their steering wheel as they wait for you to fold up your stroller and buckle two wiggly kids into their car seats.
There are lots of other things I'd like to bring home from Australia, like warm weather, sandy beaches, roundabouts, flat white coffees and honeycomb as an ingredient in indulgent treats (ice cream, gelato, chocolate bars and butter). I'll pass on the harsh sun, rampant wildfires, poisonous snakes, enormous spiders and roaches and Vegemite.