Friday, October 25, 2013

The bliss of a weekend alone

Maybe I'm an introvert after all. I really enjoyed last weekend, when Josh took Zoe and Ada to visit his parents in Pennsylvania. New post up at Chicago Parent.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Me and my DNA

Most people at this point have heard of 23 and Me, the personal genetics company that--for $99--maps your DNA and reports back where your ancestors came from and what genetic diseases you may be a carrier for.

I've long been tempted to have my "genes done," so when our rabbi invited our synagogue to a genetics seminar (taught by a geneticist from among the congregation) and dangled a free membership to 23 and Me, I jumped at the opportunity (and not just because the session overlapped with Zoe's Hebrew school class and got up out of the house for yet another showing). Why free? Apparently the founder of 23 and Me spoke at the Conference of Reform Rabbis and offered all of them 100 free memberships to bring back to their communities.

Why rabbis? Jews belong to a particularly small gene pool and are thus much more likely to be carriers for genetic diseases like breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, colon cancer and heart-breaking childhood conditions like Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis. Although interestingly enough, Jews do so much pre-pregnancy genetic counseling and prenatal testing that our Tay-Sachs incidence numbers are now lower than that of the general population. In fact, our gene pool is so small that pretty much all Jewish women are descendants of four female individuals. 

"Are those four women Sarah, Rebecca, Leah...?" a woman in the audience asked. "No," answered the rabbi, who went on to explain that while most Jewish men can trace their patrilineal lines back to Africa, those Jewish ancestors likely "left Africa and found nice non-Jewish wives in Europe."

As a product of intermarriage myself (Jewish mother and 5th generation Nebraskan dad), I can't wait to get the results of my 23 and Me test. I'm hoping that my diverse DNA won't show a lot of scary disease  markers, but I'd rather be aware and prepared than not.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Outstanding weekend

Long table, amazing view
Way back in March, my friend Anna suggested a group of us head to Louisville for an Outstanding in the Field dinner. Eight of us (four couples) purchased tickets and procured babysitters. My mom and Rick graciously agreed to fly out to Chicago and fill in for us for 3 days and 2 nights.

Planner extraordinaire in ivory
We stayed at the luxuriously quirky 21c Museum Hotel, which we'd enjoyed so much during our spring break trip to Kentucky in 2012, and had an absolutely amazing time, eating and drinking with our best friends, shopping (the boys for bourbon and the girls for vintage clothes) ... and running!  I am decidedly not a runner, but all three of my girlfriends like to run and frequently do so together. I finally got up the nerve to join them, and while I had to drop out early, I still clocked in 3 miles, which is longer than I've ever run before (not counting high school). My fitbit was very happy, and I built up an appetite for the fantastic food and wine we enjoyed on a hill overlooking a spectacular view of the Ohio River.

Incidentally, the farm is owned by the same family that owns the 21c hotels and Proof (we had drinks there the first night and Sunday brunch on our final day), among other restaurants and bars. They raise bison, rare breeds of super-fatty pigs (including one that isn't cloven), flowers, orchard fruits and lots of hay for their animals. Their farm—like the museum hotel—has oversized sculptures and quirky art installations around every bend.
Big bunny
Josh and I returned to Chicago rested and happy—and delighted to find our children hadn't completely driven their grandparents mad. In fact, it looked like Zoe and Ada had enjoyed a wonderful weekend as well.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mom's in town and the drywall's going in

I took today off work to spend time with my kids, who had a half day, and my mom, who flew in from Virginia to watch the girls over the weekend while Josh and I head down to Louisville with friends for a weekend of amazing food and drink. I spent the morning looking at granite, marble and cesarstone remnants, finally finding a suitable piece greenish limestone-looking piece for our master bath counter. Then I headed to the showroom to pick carpeting for the basement and talk paint with the designer, Lauren.

I also arranged to stop by the new house in the afternoon so I should take a look at the progress and show it off to my mom and her husband. When we got there, an enormous truck with a crane was swinging drywall across the sidewalk and up into the front door. But the guys on site graciously let us traipse around the house, which has framing, insulation, mechanical, electrical and plumbing installed.

20131010_150118 The siding has gone on the back and one side of the house, and I'm so pleased and relieved that I like my choice in both the siding and the aluminum trim.

Up next: finalizing paint choices and the stain for the wood floors.

But first: Louisville without kids!