Thursday, January 27, 2011

Nanny's necklace

Not only is Z's first necklace (random Mardi Gras beads excepted) a family heirloom, it came from my mom to her in its original 1950's box along with a note describing how Nanny wore it when she was about Z's age.

And thanks to my mom's dedicated scanning of old photos, I have this picture of my mom with my grandparents at about age 5. Check out the hot pants on Grandma Lorraine!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Some items are smaller than they may appear

I had my 4 month follow-up appointment with Dr. Kraff yesterday and made my standard appeal for more sample eye drops. I had a different, less generous tech this time, so I only got 2 samples. And as you can see, there was no need to get excited about what appeared to be a generously sized sample bottle of Systane Balance. Because eye droppers may be significantly smaller than the packaging. The other sample, Blink Tears, came in a box 1/3 the size of the Systane, but contained 50% more artificial tears.

Anyway. My vision is now 20/20. Hurray for PRK!

Other things that surprised me recently:

  • Z turned down a school lunch corn dog (a turkey and whole grain corn dog, to be specific) in favor of a packed lunch (PB & Nutella). 
  • A learned to roller skate--marching style--at Lombard Roller Rink on Saturday. And in spite of the fact that she never figured out how to speed up or glide and fell a fair amount, she was nearly impossible to drag off the floor and cried all the way out of the building.
  • I like olives! I've been an olive-abstainer my entire life, having been turned off early by some pimento and black olive on pizza nastiness, but thanks to some amazing house-made olives at Mario Batali's OTTO and Chicago's own Longman and Eagle, I've changed my tune. I think I'll be paying a visit to the olive bar at my local Whole Foods very soon.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Don't Let the Pigeon Steal the Show

We're big Mo Willems fans here at the House of Klein. It's pretty much assured that an Elephant and Piggie, PigeonKnuffle Bunny or one of the Brooklyn-based author's other marvelously zany children's books makes it into our weekly library checkout pile. In fact, you may recall seeing this video of Z reading There is a Bird on Your Head at age 4.

So how does a 4 minute read like Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus become a one-hour musical at the Emerald City Theatre? For starters, the show is actually a retelling of four of the Pigeon books: Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, The Pigeon Wants a Puppy, Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late and The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog. Just as in the books, Pigeon plays the part of the wheedling child, but instead of putting the reader in the position of limit-setter, this time it's the children in the audience who get to deny Pigeon his greatest wishes.

Seeing the books performed one after the other crystallized for me the similarities between the stories and their overall benefit as parental reinforcement for limit-setting and rule-following. But the show isn't the least bit preachy. It's a high-energy romp complete with song and dance numbers, audience participation and plenty of physical comedy. (And in a nod to the "hidden pigeon" in all of Mo Willems' other books, you'll catch a few glimpses of Knuffle Bunny on the Emerald City Theatre stage.)

And for what it's worth, all four of us are still singing the catchy "I wanna puppy" song a full week later.

Disclosure: We received media passes to Don't Let the Pigeon Steal the Show. Tickets are typically $16 adult, $13 child.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The things a 3-year-old says

"Today we did it all together! Barack Obama!"
"Look, there's a dog with polka dots!" (a dalmatian)
"When I get bigger, can I wear numbers on my arm like Z?" (Z has a wristwatch)

"When you make me a chart, can you put sausage on it? I'm going to keep this piece for my own now." (I gave her a taste of vegetarian breakfast sausage this morning and Z has a reward chart for trying new foods.)
"Daddy, when can we go to Sesame Street?"
"I can only spell nonsense words."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Are no reservations policies anti-parent?

Saturday morning around 11am we arrived at Hot Chocolate, $10 A la Card coupon in hand, for a much-anticipated pre-Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus brunch with our girls.

"It's going to be a 45 minute wait," said the hostess. We looked at the packed lounge area and tried to envision keeping our children occupied and happy for 45 minutes before our meal even started. They're well-behaved kids, but they are still kids. We'd actually tried calling Hot Chocolate the day before to make a reservation, but the restaurant has a no-reservations policy for smaller parties.

We knew better than to risk it, so we walked down Damen to Silver Cloud Bar & Grill, a step down cuisine-wise, but a solid lunch and perfectly kid-friendly.

Which got us to thinking: are no reservations policies inherently anti-parent? Being awakened at 6am by young children has certainly enabled us to beat the rush to other breakfast hot spots, but we avoid places that don't honor reservations when lunching or dining at popular (read: normal) hours. We also avoid no reservations restaurants for date night. If we're paying a babysitter by the hour, it simply isn't worth it to spend half our evening in the bar, waiting for a table.

So why is it some trendy/foodie places take reservations and some don't? It doesn't seem to any way correlate with how popular the place is or how highly rated their food is. If all of the tables are full of paying customers, does it matter how many hungry people are hanging out in the entryway or freezing their butts off outside? Or does management figure they are better off scaring those pesky parents and their crayon-toting children away.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Kidz Bop 19: a video review

I've written before about Kidz Bop--the child-safe versions of top-40 radio that 6 year old Z and her friends love so much. Suffice it to say album 19 delivers the same successful formula.

Zoe reviews Kidz Bop from almaklein on Vimeo.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A PSA from Z: Don't play with guns

I can be safe by not playing with guns. It is not safe! Don't listen to pepole who say come play with my dad's gun. Pleese! Don't listen to them. One more time. It's not safe!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The exercise paradox and where I have been, lately

Why is it that when I'm feeling lazy or down, I can't bring myself to hit the gym, but less than 24 hours after spending 2 hours at roller derby practice, I'm willing to give up my lunch to sweat myself silly in a 50 minute Kettlebell aerobic/strength class?

Like the rest of the privileged world, I ramped up my health and fitness routine in the last couple of weeks; and although I've been sore pretty much all the time, it hasn't dulled my enthusiasm. I'm not a runner, but I'm finally getting that runner's high--a sense of exhilaration comes as each workout ends and ups my overall happiness quotient.

It doesn't hurt that a big piece of my workout plan continues to be Derby Lite. I'm in the Intermediate class now, and I've given myself permission to indulge in the sassy, fashion-obsessed side of derby. I ordered a personalized Derby Lite track jacket and used Etsy's Alchemy service to commission my own personal Alma-geddon t-shirt design. (I dreamt up the concept but needed a graphic designer to bring it to life.)
My tank top is waiting for me at the T-Shirt Deli and I can't wait to pick it up!

I know it's been a while since I posted last. In the intervening days I talked to a roomful of U of C students about careers in advertising, hosted a preschool marketing meeting/playgroup, flew to NYC for a brainstorm and dinner at OTTO and worked my ass off at the office on 3 separate high profile initiatives. It's been busy.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Mommy's got a brand-new to-do list

I just read Take the Cake, a collection of you-go-gal essays for working women about how to make the most of your time and find balance as a working mom. In spite its amateurish cover and typesetting, it's a nice enough book full of common and uncommon sense about budgeting, finance, parenting, organization and every other topic women's magazines cycle through every 12 months.

But there was one real gem in there, a totally radical (and radically simple) twist on the to-do list.

Here it is: divide your page into 4 quadrants. Label them "me," "work," "family," and "volunteer." Organize the tasks you need to complete (not big projects, tasks) into the appropriate quadrants and highlight those that can be completed in 15 minutes or less (I used an asterisk).

Put everything on the list, from taking your exercise class to researching your next vacation destination to calling the dentist to schedule an appointment. Tackle a 15 minute item whenever you have a spare moment and start a new list weekly, transferring over any items that didn't get done the first week. It's lame, but I get a charge out of crossing items off my to-do list, and adding everything I want to get done (even those low-priority, no-particular-deadline items) had greatly increased my productivity.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Take the Cake as a part of the From Left to Write book club.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

2010: The Year in Review

Two things I'm thankful for
2010 was a very good year. My job was rewarding, my kids became more independent and I felt like my relationship with Josh grew stronger than ever. (Anyone who tells you new babies bring a couple closer together are lying. Or perhaps very, very lucky.)

I tried new things in 2010: rock climbing on vacation and taking regular roller derby classes back home. I toured a hot dog factory and had our very first family portraits done by a professional photographer. And I was thrilled to finally join both a knitting circle and a book club!

I took the family to Akumal, West Chester, Asheville and New York City, and I treated myself to a girls weekend in Portland with my best friend from high school.

My Aussie sister and her two children spent much of the summer in the U.S., so I had the rare pleasure of talking to her regularly on the phone and seeing her family twice in one season (one week in Asheville and a long weekend in Oak Park).

Milestones were recorded. Z lost 4 teeth, learned to ride a 2-wheeler, graduated from Montessori school and skipped though kindergarten in a week and a half. I became a Bat Mitzvah and a Creative Director and A kicked off her preschool career without shedding a single tear.

We had a couple of medical challenges. A killed one of her front teeth falling off the couch and cut open her chin on the bathtub, and I spent the better part of a month covered in measles-like spots from a random case of pityriasis rosea. We battled lice for the first time. And I dealt with seasonal allergies so extreme that I couldn't wear contact lenses any more. Unwilling to live in spectacles, I fulfilled a long-held dream of getting my eyes fixed. In October I had PRK corrective surgery done on both eyes. (I'm loving the results, which get a little better every day.)

Blogging had its benefits in 2010, too. I had lunch with the CEO of Stonyfield Farm, reviewed a couple of plays at Emerald City Theatre and attended the uber-slumber party that is BlogHer. I also contributed a couple of professional posts to the Leo Burnett blog.

And it wouldn't be a true year-in-review if I didn't check in on last year's New Year's resolutions as well.

1. I didn't get to the gym more than once a week until I started skating. Now I'm finally hitting my twice a week goal. Score: B

2. I've failed to close my Internet browser for 2 hours a day while at work, but I've found some other methods for improving my productivity. Score: C

3. Taking each member of my family on some kind of solo date/outing every month. I've been doing this! Score: A

4. Survive New Year's Day. Not only did I host a successful New Year's Day brunch in 2010, I did it again on 1/1/11.

2009: Year in Review
2008: Goodbye and good riddance

Saturday, January 01, 2011

This was not the New Year's Eve I had planned

The damage
I had counted on a low-key New Year's Eve. Put the kids to bed on time, watch a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad, drink a little too much and go to bed before midnight.

Instead, the kids raced a little too excitedly out of the bathtub and A's chin got real familiar with the side of the tub. Naturally, the local urgent care facility was closed for the holiday. So we Skyped with my in-laws, pediatricians, the both of them--and determined the cut was probably too wide to heal well on its own.

A, coloring in the pediatric waiting room
So it was off to the emergency room for me and my 3 year old daughter. We headed to the Loyola University Medical Center, the closest hospital with a pediatric emergency room, and she got her chin glued shut. We were home in less than 2 hours, which in the realm of emergency room visits, is pretty good. I was impressed by the care she received and my only complaint was that the TV in the pediatric emergency room where we were placed was tuned to a monster movie. And there was no remote control to be found.  Fortunately A was in good spirits, treating our trip as a grand adventure and a rare opportunity to bond with just mom. She didn't cry at all, only whimpering a bit when the resident's glove had to be un-stuck from her chin.

The little trouper was in bed and snoring by 9:45, which meant I was able to drink, watch 1/2 an episode  and still get to bed early enough to be awoken by fireworks and car horns at midnight.