Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Steam Bath

On Monday morning, I woke up with no plans for the day. So I asked The Boy what he wanted to do. He said that he wanted to go to the place with the cacti. I translated that to mean the Garfield Park Conservatory. So I packed a picnic lunch and The Baby, The Boy and The Girl into the car, and off to Central Park between Franklin and Lake Streets we went.

Obviously, I didn't think it through very well. It was hot and humid outside, and even more humid inside the conservatory. The conservatory currently has a special exhibit, Niki in the Garden, featuring the mosaic sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalle. Due to Niki, the suggested donation is now $5 instead of $1 (although I never donate and feel justified in this as a city resident and taxpayer). I think the exhibit has improved attendance at the conservatory; it was pretty crowded when we were there, which I think is unusual for a weekday.

The easiest route to the Children's Room was blocked off due to renovations in one of the rooms, so we took the roundabout way to the Children's Room, stopping off for a tour around the Fern Room, which was beautiful, but extremely humid, especially with a little heatbox (The Baby) strapped to my chest. We did make it to the Children's Room, where The Boy and The Girl did a little project with Morning Glories, the Garfield Park Conservatory's Monday morning program for preschoolers (I did contribute the suggested donation for these). Then, since I was dripping in sweat, we wandered down to the events hall, which was cooler and open to the outdoors with a nice breeze, and had lunch on one of the tables just across from the Moroccan fountain.

After lunch, we wandered out to Monet's Garden and then found another couple of kids, Aidan and Elise, and their nanny underneath a large tree beyond the garden. The Boy and The Girl played with Aidan and Elise for about an hour, and then we all walked out to the parking lot together.

Streets & Sanitation was repainting the crosswalk lines on Franklin as we left, so I drove straight up Central Park instead. Garfield Park is pretty blighted, which is a shame because the facades of the houses are gorgeous. I love the wide boulevard-type streets. And there is so much space. It doesn't seem dangerous so much as empty. I mused about the area on the whole drive back. But then I watched the 10 o'clock news and was instantly reminded why I don't want to buy a place in Garfield Park, gorgeous as they are. (The story originally reported the incident as having taken place in Humboldt Park.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Family Fun

One of the things that I enjoy about Chicago(land) is that we have family here. The Dad's brothers, parents, cousins and a couple of sets of aunts-and-uncles all reside in the Chicago area. Grandma and Grandpa Naperville are really only an hour's drive away, making them active participants in The Boy, The Girl and The Baby's lives.

Today, The Mom (that would be me) got a wee break from her job as chief activities director for The Boy and The Girl. The Dad took them both to see their grandparents for lunch. Their cousins and uncle were also at lunch, so they had a great time eating chicken nuggets and broccoli and running around with K. and Z. Afterwards, they both attended a birthday party at Pump It Up in Lisle. The Boy, The Girl and their peers seem to think that Pump It Up -- a carpeted cinderblock warehouse painted bright colors and filled with giant bouncy castles and air-filled slides -- is a slice of heaven. It tires them out. Heck, it tires me out. It tired The Dad out, too. He reported that he and The Girl played stop/go for 20 minutes straight, racing from one end of the room to the other. The Boy spent most of his time in the bouncy castles.

Meanwhile, back in the city, The Baby and I hung out. He nursed and napped. I took advantage of everyone else being out of the house and mopped the wood floors. Afterward, I strapped The Baby into my Catbird Baby and walked over to a friend's house in Old Irving Park to attend a home-show MLM extraordinaire party (purses, Arbonne, Lia Sophia jewelry). Normally, I loathe going to buy-something parties, but I like this crowd so I went. One exhibitor was selling purses made by Lola and Dreamworks, both of which manufacture their goods inside the city of Chicago, a practice that I respect and would like to support.

By the end of the party, The Dad and crew was back from the suburbs. He picked me up in The Great White Moose. I dropped him at home so that he could take a nap and took The Boy, The Girl and The Baby to an ice cream social and jam with Julie session at Kolmar Playlot. It was a mini Mother's Day Out reunion at the playlot, and despite the fact that we live about a mile east of the park, we knew many of the people there. The Boy dug in the sand with some pals from MDO. The Girl spun in circles during Julie's singalong. The Baby alternately slept, nursed and cried, although he did let my friend P. hold him for a bit. During Julie's set, I looked around and saw many happy moms and dads playing with or snuggling their kids, singing along, or chatting quietly with neighbors. It struck me as very middle-America. If it had been photographed, few people would believe that the scene was at a park in the third largest city in the United States.

Rainy Day

Yesterday was rainy and cold. The kind of day that is perfect for reading a book, taking a nap, watching a movie, having a cuppa -- a lazy, laze-around-the-house day. The kids do not normally allow for this to happen, but yesterday I hit the jackpot when all three of them took late-afternoon naps. So I got a snooze on the couch myself. Heaven!

The Girl, The Baby and I also went to her last art class at the Old Town School. It was a bit awkward because Greta, her teacher, was absent and had arranged for a substitute, so the 2-year-olds, who had all only just gotten used to Greta after 7 weeks, were all freaked out by this new, strange woman. They made dinosaur stickers and crowns. The Girl threw a small fit when The Boy put it on this morning; she ended up wearing it to a birthday party.

After art class, we went to Trader Joe's for groceries. With no list. We'll have some interesting meals this week! For the first time, I accepted the "Would you like help out to your car?" inquiry from the checker and the guy whose wife is a doula pushed my cart out to the car while I held the baby and steered the girl. He also put the groceries in The Great White Moose for me, and brought the cart back to the corral. Cool. I think I may start using this service more often.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Baby

The Baby is two-months-old. We spent part of the day in the pediatrician's office, discovering that he really is a moose. No wonder my back is sore: he has gained more than six pounds since birth and has grown four and one-half inches. The Girl spent the entire time in the ped's office telling anyone who would listen:

"No shots! No shots!"

She didn't get any, but The Baby got two: IPV and pneumoccocal. He cried a bit, but not as much as I expected.

We were done about 11 a.m., which was exceedingly early considering the usual duration of pediatrics visits at this particular practice. I had an appointment in Skokie at 2, and was set to drop The Boy and The Girl off at a neighbor's house at 1 p.m. To split the gap, we went to Target. The Girl, especially, likes to make me chase her through the store, so it's always a good way to kill some time. We had lunch while there -- I am digging the new organics lunches offered by the Target cafe. Picked up a Razor scooter for The Boy, who has been asking for one for several months, and birthday presents for a friend. The Girl got a new bathing suit, which she demanded that the neighbor put on her (despite the gray, cool weather) after I dropped her off.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Why didn't I do this before?

I have managed to live in the same house for nearly five years and birth three children without ever hiring a real babysitter. That has now changed.

JA came today. It was supposed to be her trial day, wherein I stayed in the house and did projects while the kids got used to her. But my friends M. and C. closed on their new suburban house today and I agreed to watch A. and E. for them while they signed paperwork out west. So JA stayed most of the day and entertained four children instead of minding a mere two. She basically did all the things that I didn't want to do: sit in the hot and sunny backyard and watch the kids scribble with chalk and play with sand, fill up water balloons with the hose and teach the boys how to use them, cut up hot dogs, wash fruit. It was wonderful. I should have done this years ago!

She's going to come every Thursday (except next week) for four hours to play with The Boy and The Girl so I can get things done around the house.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

South Suburban Adventures

Today was playgroup day. Our hostess was S. and her darling redheads L. and E. They all moved to Italy two years ago with S.'s husband, but are in town for the summer and staying at S.'s mother's condo in Palos. We all piled in The Great White Moose and headed south/southwest to have lunch, listen to the cicadas and hang out. I haven't been to the southwest suburbs in years -- not since I lived in the south suburbs -- and despite the huge area that remains preserved forest, the southwest 'burbs have experienced a huge population/development explosion. S.'s mom's condo was huge -- arguably bigger than our SFH in the city -- and the kids had fun playing while S. and I chatted. Before her expatriate days, S. worked as a chef at The Peninsula Hotel here; I have always enjoyed going to her house because she serves great food. Lunch today was no exception.

After lunch, we all piled in our respective cars and drove about 2 miles away to a local playground, which had a large cicada population and no other child visitors in the 45 minutes that we were there. S. says she has seen other people at that playground exactly twice in the month that she's been here already.

Around 3, L. and The Boy were having more scuffles than peaceful playing, so we packed it in. S. went back to her mom's condo, and the kids and I headed SE toward Homewood, to visit a friend of my mom's. As I told The Boy, she has known me since I was his age. The Boy and The Girl played with her vintage 1970s toys and we chatted. The Baby nursed. Then it was time for us to go home. We stopped at a local fast food joint called Pop's to have dinner before we hit the Ryan. By the time we got on the highway, traffic had cleared -- even at the nearly-always-hairy Circle -- and we made it home in 40 minutes.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Eight Years Ago

Eight years ago today, The Dad and I got married. Of course, he wasn't The Dad then. And I wasn't a mom. He was a computer guy working at a technology start-up in Silicon Valley. And I was a writer working at an investment/finance trade magazine in San Francisco. Now we're thirtysomething parents of three small children and live in the city of Chicago. (The Dad is still a programmer at a computer company and I'm still an occasional writer for a software company, but that's not really relevant to this blog.)

(Neither, really, is this post, but if we didn't get married, move to Chicago and have babies, this blog would not exist.)

We got married in Flossmoor at my childhood church. We had our wedding reception in the city, at the University Club of Chicago. The Ryan was also under construction back then, although not to the extent that it was in 2006 and is in 2007. Part of Grant Park was also under construction, making its transformation to Millennium Park. No one really noticed. If they looked outside, it was at the fireworks launched just past Navy Pier. The weather was very similar to today's weather: temperate and sunny.

In 1999, I was in love with my husband and the city of Chicago. Eight years later, not much has changed.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

We're missing you...

...at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The advert campaign is old -- from my childhood -- but it is an apt description of our zoo attendance over the past several months. That is changing as it is summer, we have no organized plans (aside from playgroup) and we have paid memberships to both zoos. I hope to go to a zoo at least once per week until school starts in September. So we went last week, and again today. We'll go to Brookfield in July, once the cicadas have gone back into the ground, or wherever they go.

We met our friends, B., S., and F. at Lincoln Park Zoo to see the animals and have a picnic lunch. S. and The Boy and F. and The Girl were really cute together -- holding hands, hugging and otherwise showing affection. We saw the lions, the seals and sea lions (a precocious and unabashed little girl corrected me and B. when we asked our children to say good-bye to the sea lions -- they were seals, she said), the children's zoo, and the bats/lizards. S. was a climbing maniac on the enclosed climber in the children's zoo; she had told The Boy that she would help him through it, but he was too scared to go much beyond the third or fourth platform and she wanted to move too quickly. The Girl was transfixed by a tank with a moving snake in it. I am not particularly fond of the zoo and would not go if I didn't have children, but I love watching my children view the animals and exhibits with awe and wonder on their little faces.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Northbrook Court

I took the kids up to Northbrook Court this morning. Largely because I had a couple of things to exchange at the new Hanna Andersson store, but also because the mall has a wonderful play structure, in the form a tree, in its middle court. The treehouse, as The Boy and The Girl call the structure, is entirely fenced in with benches around its perimeter, making it really a very pleasant and well-designed place for children and their parents.

Today, it was not at all crowded. The Boy wanted to take off his shoes to play, although I asked him repeatedly not to. Then the security guard came by on his rounds and told him that he had to put his shoes back on. Why is it that my authority as an adult means nothing, but a total stranger can say the same thing and reduce The Boy to tears? Well, at least he put his shoes back on. The Girl also had a bit of a run-in with another child at the treehouse today. A little boy of about 3 repeatedly ran her over on the way to the slide, repeatedly slid down into her (and his little sister) and at one point, started to hit her because she was sitting at the top of the slide on one side and his sister (who was about 1) was on the other. His name was Sam. I know this because his dad responded to all of these actions by telling him to be careful. I said nothing about it until Sam got between his sister and The Girl at the top of the slide and put his hand in The Girl's face in a "I'm going to hit you" action. She hit him in response, but wouldn't you? Sam hit her and it continued that way until I told The Girl that it isn't nice to hit, even if someone hits you first. After that, The Girl went to play in the play kitchen on the other side. I nursed The Baby.

The new Hanna, by the way, is pretty nice. Because it is a new store, it was still well-stocked for the sale, with lots of dresses and t-shirts left in The Girl's and The Boy's sizes.

After we visited the treehouse, we went to Whole Foods to buy groceries and have lunch. The Boy and The Girl each had macaroni and cheese from the hot bar; I had sesame-fried vegetables and brown rice, and two chicken potstickers. It has taken me awhile to find something I truly love in the prepared foods section of Whole Foods, but I think the potstickers are it. Each walking child got a small chocolate gelato from the gelato bar before leaving as well. One day, when I can eat dairy again, I look forward to trying some myself. Sorbet just isn't the same.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Custer Street Fair

Custer's Last Stand was held in Evanston today and yesterday. I know this not because we went, but because I forgot about it and got stuck in its detours and parking snafus this afternoon when I tried to take The Girl and The Baby with me to Vogue Fabrics on Main Street. I pulled over to nurse The Baby after an exhaustive search for legal parking, but then ended up turning back around.

Art Class!

Before our little ER trip yesterday, I took The Girl (and The Baby) to her art class at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Her art class is a 45-minute session with an art teacher and up to five other toddlers. The class always follows the same order of events: drawing on the table, a story, a look inside the "mystery table," and completion of the day's project. Yesterday, we read a book about vegetables and fruits and the alphabet, and The Girl was instructed to draw cherries, lemons, bananas, and oranges with scented markers. She also got to create bananas and cherries from colored magic dough and stick them on her paper, and combine yellow, red and white paints to paint on the paper.

After class, The Girl requested a snack and I desperately needed caffeine, so we headed over to Starbucks. The Girl had her usual Horizon chocolate milk, I tried an orange mocha frappucino and we split a season cookie. Seasonal cookies are back! One of The Girl's classmates was sitting behind her at Starbucks and they spent a good 10 minutes talking to each other and flirting. It was very cute.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Lincoln Park, Emergently

Stupid Mommy Trick: yanking your child up by the arm to keep him/her from falling or running away. When the child is around the age of two, this is nearly sure to cause nursemaid's elbow. I have managed to cause this ailment in both of my older children. I did it to The Boy when he was around 20 months of age, on the day that I learned that I was pregnant with The Girl. We drove to Children's Memorial Hospital's ER; 45 minutes and $75 later, he was fine. He managed to pop it out twice in the following year, but having watched the simple maneuver made by the ER docs, I knew what to do: dose him with ibuprofen, offer him a lollipop while holding the good arm and pop it back into place.

So I was surprised to learn that nursemaid's elbow was the diagnosis given by the docs at Children's this afternoon when I took The Girl in after pulling her away from licking the glass at the Post Office this morning. I was nursing The Baby in the comfort of the P.O.'s air conditioning when The Girl decided that licking the glass of an empty display unit was a good idea. I asked her to stop, and then pulled her away with one hand, while using the other arm to hold and nurse The Baby. She tripped over her shoes and almost fell, and I yanked her up. Felt a pop in her wrist and then she started crying and refused to move her arm.

After dropping The Baby off at home with The Dad and conferring with The Girl's pediatrician, I took her into the emergency room. Down Fullerton in full-on Cubs/hot summer day traffic. While waiting for the traffic light to turn green at Racine, I spied a new barbershop concept for men: SportsClips. It appears to be modeled on the idea spawned by Snippets, KidSnips, Cookie Cutters and the like: that young men, like children, do not like having their hair cut and sitting in front of a TV while the service is performed will make it more palatable.

At the ER, she screamed bloody murder. The nurse forced ibuprofen down her and the diagnosis from the docs came quickly. Popping the elbow back in proved a bit more difficult. They tried it twice before it took. The nurses and pediatricians were all very nice, and assured me that I could not have broken my child's wrist simply from pulling her up.

When The Girl was pronounced fine and free to go, we were both starving. The Boy had gone with The Dad to the park and McDonald's and in our brief stop at home, The Girl had seen his Happy Meal toy. So we walked up Lincoln Avenue to the DePaul McDonald's for a late lunch. It started to pour while we were there, so we sat at McD's for about 45 minutes in sum. We stopped briefly at The White Elephant, the Children's Memorial resale shop, on the way back to the garage; I had never been and wanted to check it out. In fact, I donated our dining room table and chairs to the store a few months ago. It was not in the store, but lots of other treasures were, including some very nice designer clothes for women. I will have to go back again.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Being Neighborly

The Dad, who worked from his basement office today, generously offered to take over supervisory duties of The Boy and The Girl this afternoon so that The Baby and I could take a nap. So we did.

When we woke up, The Boy and The Girl were shrieking around the back yard in their bathing suits with D., our 3-year-old neighbor; her 10-month-old brother, H., and mom, and The Dad were nearby. D. did not want to go home, so we offered to walk with her, going a distance of a whopping 80 feet north to her house. Then her dad came home from work and we spent the next hour watching D. and The Boy sprint up the street in bare-footed races and chit-chatting with D.'s parents and tenant about the weather, small children and life in the neighborhood.

City Crunchy

I packed up the car this morning with The Boy, The Girl, The Baby and the recycling. Then I drove to the North Park Village Nature Center to drop off my recyclables at the recycle center contained therein. I have been doing a version of this for about the past year. I feel good about this effort to save the environment, although I try not to think about whether driving around in a minivan in 90-degree heat negates whatever environmental impacts I've made in recycling paper, cardboard, glass, aluminum and 1 & 2 plastics. Still, I have more confidence that I actually am recycling than I did when I participated in Mayor Daley's Blue Bag program.

After dropping off the recycling, we headed to the nearby suburbs of Niles and Skokie to look for pajamas for The Boy at Land's End (strikeout) and buy paint cups and markers at U.S. Toys, a hidden gem that offers all kinds of interesting products for kids, parents and teachers alike. We hit Cubs traffic on the way home, and when I rolled up to my house at 1 p.m., all three of my passengers were asleep.

Lincoln Square Concert

Have I mentioned on this blog how I love Lincoln Square?

I love Lincoln Square.

It has a great central business district with restaurants/bars and shops, parking, access to the Brown Line, a fantastic library, a giant park, and the Old Town School of Folk Music. The German presence of earlier settlers to the 'hood is still felt in some of the bars and shops along Lincoln Avenue, giving the neighborhood a European, cultured feel. It is one of my favorite areas to go to within the city, and I suspect that that'd be true even if I didn't have children.

Tonight, The Boy, The Girl, The Baby, The Dad and I visited Lincoln Square to attend a free folk concert in Giddings Plaza, the little plaza adjacent to Cafe Selmarie. We found out about the concert from a mom in our playgroup; her husband used to work for the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce and is, in fact, developing a condominium building on the other side of Giddings Plaza, in the former Martin's Big & Tall retail store and parking lot.

I was unprepared for how well-attended the concert would be. When we showed up at just after 7 p.m., Giddings Plaza was crowded with people sitting in portable lawn chairs, on blankets spread along the cobblestones, resting on curbs, and milling about. Kids played in the plaza behind the stage in the center of the lot. Chicago Brauhaus had a tent selling beer and brats.
We ran into The Boy's former MDO teacher and her two children. I chatted briefly with Kerri and Zach, co-owners of Bloom Yoga Studio in the Rockwell Crossing area of Lincoln Square. We later caught up with our friends; S. and I nursed our babies while sitting underneath a tree at the edge of the plaza while her older son, The Boy and The Girl went with The Dad to romp around with the other kids in the plaza during intermission. The Dad bought a beer from the tent; I bought The Boy and The Girl each a cupcake at Cafe Selmarie. We listened to the folk group; I greatly enjoyed a sweet song about adopting baby girls from China.

Later, The Dad took The Boy and The Girl home to bed. The Baby and I stayed and met my friend B. for a beer at 42 degrees N. Latitude. It was the only bar that had patio seating available on the north side of Montrose, such is the popularity of Lincoln Square on a temperate summer evening. I've been to the bar on several occasions previously, and although it's beer list is mostly of the uppity import variety, the kitchen rolls out some good stuff. I lamented my inability to eat cheese while reading the menu tonight. However, it was nice to get out without the kids, although B. and I spent much of the evening talking about our children.

I had great public transportation karma/timing getting home. I walked straight down Lincoln Avenue, which was well-lit and well-populated--although I (perhaps naively) wonder who would mess with a woman with a newborn baby strapped to her front--to Irving Park Road and then caught the 80 bus home.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

School's Out!

Yesterday was the last day of Mother's Day Out ("school") for both The Boy and The Girl. The Boy will go on to pre-kindergarten at Parkview Lutheran School next year, so yesterday marked the end of his year and of his time at the program. The Girl goes back again next year. I spent my last four-hour block of kid-free time buying a new carrier for The Baby at Be By Baby, going to Trader Joe's, and doing some things at home. The Baby has gained about one pound per week since his birth. He was eight pounds at birth; he's nine-weeks-old. You do the math on that one. And then think about carrying that around for hours every day. Ouch.

After MDO, we hosted playgroup at our house. It was so much fun! Our playgroup has been pretty disjointed this year, as the first generation of kids all started preschool this year. Two of The Boy's playgroup friends were in his MDO program at the start of the year, but one left mid-year to attend tuition-based pre-K at Ravenswood. Plus, of the original seven member moms, two are now in the suburbs and one moved out of state. We have invited others to join in their stead, but many of them have moved or are in the process of moving as well. We now have almost as many members outside the city as we have inside its borders.

But summer is the great equalizer for playgroup, and based on yesterday's turnout, summer has begun! July marks the fourth anniversary of our playgroup's formation. It was great to see all of The Boy's and The Girl's little friends and The Baby's future friends, and catch up with my friends. I had snacks and drinks, and the kids played inside with toys and outside with the sand table, water table, and climber and slide.

Jam with Julie June 24th!

Hear Julie Helenius perform at the Kolmar Playlot on the Northwest side of Chicago, on Sunday, June 24th around 5:15 p.m.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Lincoln Park Zoo

This morning was my first major outing with three kids. We went to Lincoln Park Zoo for a couple of hours. I am not really a zoo person, so I used to think that Lincoln Park Zoo was just fine and never bothered to schlep out to Brookfield Zoo. Then someone gave me a free pass to Brookfield Zoo and I discovered how much it really does kick LP Zoo's butt as far as zoological parks go. We are members of both zoos, but have been going to Brookfield more often over the past year. My membership to Lincoln Park is set to expire in August, and in order to justify renewing it (I confess that I am a member mainly for the free parking as parking in the area is hairy and the lot is adjacent to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and North Avenue Beach), I need to make better use of the pass this summer. However, LP Zoo's drawbacks are also advantages, so because it is closer and smaller, it was our morning's destination.

It went OK. Because school is already out in the suburbs and at most private/parochial schools, the zoo was pretty crowded. Even at 10:30 a.m. when we arrived (buildings open at 10 a.m.). The zoo offered all kinds of new "services" to attract children--face painting, air-brushed temp tattoos, etc., all for the low, low price of $5/pop. The lions (or "roars" as The Girl calls them) were conked out the whole time we were there. The Boy commented that the male lion looked dead--and he did! But he was just asleep. We also checked out the sea lions, the Pritzker Family Play Zoo, the monkeys, and the bat/reptile house. At the Pritzker Family Zoo, The Boy valiantly tried to climb the structure, but decided that he'd wait to try again "at [his] next birthday." He is a bit scared of those giant enclosed play structures like you'd find at McDonald's Playplace, etc. The Girl liked looking at the turtles, frogs and snakes in the small exhibit in this part of the zoo. She wanted to see the otters and the beavers, but they were hidden away from sight. The Girl really liked the monkeys, especially the gibbons, which nearly always seem to be playful and interesting. The Boy's favorite part of the day was when we left The Baby asleep in the stroller and had a 3-way race down the little knoll to the lamp post and back in the green just south of the cafe.

We drove home up Lake Shore Drive, which not only is one of my favorite drives, but now has become one of The Boy's favorite ways to go as well.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Movies on the Mag Mile

Yesterday, I did something I almost never do: I took the kids downtown. My mother and sister were in town, so we all piled into the Great White Moose (a/k/a our minivan) and trekked down to the Magnificent Mile to pick up sheet music for my sister, and catch a movie at the Loews on Michigan Avenue.

My general reluctance to go downtown on a regular basis has less to do with the amenities offered by the area and more to do with my aversion to paying through the nose to park. Yesterday's trip ran me $21 for 3 hours in a garage. But oh well. It's not every day that my mom and sister are in town.

The Boy and The Girl had a fabulous time going to the movies. We parked in a garage on Wabash and Chicago, then walked up to McDonald's to have a quick lunch before the movie. (Mom and Sis went to Jimmy John's.) The Boy ate all of his cheeseburger. The Girl, I am sorry to say, ate only her fries and then demanded the Happy Meal toy. After lunch, we hauled butt to the theatre. The Girl was both tired and very interested in what was going on around her, so she walked quite slowly, dragging her hand against the sides of every building we passed. I ended up carrying her and The Baby for much of the walk to the theatre; my wrist was about to fall off from half-dragging her behind me.

We saw Shrek the Third at the Loews at 600 N. Michigan Avenue. Save one couple, we were the only patrons in the theatre. They had risers for the kids to place on the seats, and The Boy happily sat on one between Grandma T. and his aunt. The Girl snuggled on Grandma T.'s lap during the movie, which ran about 90 minutes and was the perfect length for small children. The Baby nursed and fell asleep during the film, so he did not disturb the other two adults in the theatre.

After the movies, we all headed back to the car. I drove my sister down to 400 South Michigan Avenue to get her sheet music. On the way, both The Boy and The Girl fell asleep in the car, so after my sister got her music, my mother took the sleeping kids back home in the car, and my sister, The Baby and I walked over to H&M on State Street. My sister tried on a ton of clothing that looked good on her. I tried on about five things that looked hideous (H&M is not designed for the newly post-partum body) and nursed The Baby. We hopped on the L to return home. Although the cars were madly crowded, at least two people offered me their seat, so I did not have to stand in a crowded L car with a baby strapped to my chest for the 40-minute ride home.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Jammin with Julie

Yesterday was The Girl's second birthday party. We had a great backyard party with lots of kids and their parents: friends, family, neighbors. The Girl had a fantastic time, as did most of our little guests. The highlight of the party was a "jam session" with Julie Helenius. She came with her bright red guitar, a bucket of shakers, and conducted a 45-minute sing-a-long. The Girl was enraptured, as were most of our little female guests.

Miss Julie, as she is known around here, has been a fixture in this area for at least 15 years. She runs several music classes in the neighborhood, from parent-toddler sing-a-longs to beginning drum classes for preschoolers and guitar lessons for older children. She also teaches Wiggleworms classes at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Both The Boy and The Girl have taken classes with Miss Julie; her classes are among our favorite "things to do" with kids in Chicago. You can contact her at (773) 267-7607 or jtjujubees@aol.com for class information or to book her for a party.