Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Old Orchard

I headed up to Old Orchard this morning for a mom-only appointment. As a favor to me (and another perk of working from home), The Dad stayed home with the kids. Then, because he had a Very Important Conference Call and asked me to take the kids out of the house during it, I turned around half an hour after returning and went back up to Old Orchard with The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot.

We hit Nordstrom for back-to-school shoes from its Anniversary sale, and then headed over to the cafe for "the usual." We meandered to the center play area so the kids could climb on the dragon. Unfortunately, it was 90+ degrees outside and the dragon was in direct sun. I tried to convince the kids to veer off into Pottery Barn Kids to play, but they were not interested.

So we got our photos taken at The Picture People instead. I made a quick dash through Janie & Jack for coordinating outfits from their sales rack. The Tot has a photo deficit. He's had two formal photo sessions since birth. As The Dad says, he's the neglected 3rd child. Today's photo session remedied that. I had not been to the PP since before The Girl was born; they've changed over to an all-digital format that reduces the wait time for photos. While we waited, we went to Starbucks for a snack (mama needs her occasional latte!) and then wandered around Restoration Hardware, where the kids annoyed the (patient, older) clerks and amused their patrons by asking a million and one questions.

Then it was time to go home. Traffic on the Edens was bad, as usual.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Plato Tipico

I've been craving Curio Cafe for weeks. So at mid-morning, the cupboard was bare, The Girl, The Boy, and The Tot were rambunctious, and I was hungry. So I took the kids there for some of their fabulous alphabet noodles and cheese (The Girl), eggs (The Tot), PB & J (The Boy) and the Plato Tipico and coffee for me. Yum.

An afternoon salvaged

This afternoon, we were supposed to attend a birthday party at Foster Avenue Beach. Getting to and parking at the beach on a 90-degree Sunday afternoon is no easy feat. My friend was stuck in the parking lot between Foster and Wilson Avenues for 40 minutes. After driving around Foster Avenue and Lakeshore for 20 minutes without finding a parking spot, I bailed on the party. My kids were crying. My friend's kids were crying. So we salvaged the afternoon by going over to her house to swim and eat cupcakes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

GIPNA 3rd Annual Yard Sale

Today, we participated in the GIPNA 3rd Annual Yard Sale. I sold kid clothing and shoes, books, baby stuff, bathroom decor, furniture, and a carseat. I made $150, but more importantly, I emptied out the clutter in my basement. The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot had a fantastic time running back and forth from our house to D.'s house two doors north.

In the early afternoon, I took The Girl, The Tot, and D. on a walk around the block to look at other garage sales. Our first stop was at a neighbor's "estate" sale. Our oldest neighbor, Dorothy, died in May at the age of 96 or something. She had a lot of cool stuff, and I wanted to buy some linen napkins, but her niece gave them to me outright. It was very sweet of her. Next up, we bought 3 Beanie Babies for $5, and then I picked up a few decor pieces from another neighbor (her husband joked that she was an exclusive Pottery Barn Kids Outlet dealer).

After I hauled our unsold crap back into the house/garage, I really just wanted to collapse in a heap. But I showered and dressed, and took The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot over to Caroline D.'s block party. The Boy had a fantastic time in the bounce house and the air slide (rigged up with a hose to be a water slide), while The Girl eventually warmed up to one of The Boy's St. Bart's classmates, who was also there. The Tot ate snacks and pulled ducks out of the kiddie pools. A good time was had by all.

Friday, July 25, 2008

E.T. Phone Home

Tonight, The Dad took The Boy and The Girl to the park to watch a Movie-in-the-Park showing of E.T. I put The Tot to bed and did laundry. At 10 p.m., however, The Girl was ready to go to bed, so I ran the block up to the park and stayed with The Boy for the last 1/2 an hour of the movie. I was in the worst mood today, but sitting in the park with my eldest child, surrounded by neighbors and friends, under a dark sky while watching a movie that I loved and remember watching in the theaters when it first came out was such a great mood-lifter. As I walked home with The Boy and some neighbors, I had a huge grin on my face.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Playgroup Turns 5!

On Wednesday, July 24, 2003, six moms and their infants (2-6 months) met at the totem pole along the Lakefront (at approximately Addison) to talk about our babies, our births, our nascent motherhood. Five years later, we're still meeting to talk about our children, ourselves, and everything in between. Today marked the 5th anniversary of our playgroup. We celebrated with a BYO picnic and lots of shared desserts at the place where it all began. Five of the original six remain in the Chicago area; four of them came to playgroup today. In 2003, we were all new moms with a single baby each. Since then, we've grown to include four other moms with 23 kids between us.

Twelve of those kids romped in the grass after our picnic in the grass. Then, much like our first meeting, we did a stroller caravan over to the playground.

Surrounded by his friends, The Boy was aggressive toward another little boy who wanted to play with them. All four swings were occupied, so he demanded that this little kid get off the swing so that he could get on. Twenty minutes later, a swing opened up and one of two boys in another party got on. The Boy was on the swing next to it, and this other kid started demanding that The Boy get off it. I had to laugh. I guess The Boy is your archtypical 5-6-year-old.

Parking in the lakefront areas is free during the week before 6 p.m.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

What's worse?

I can never decide what is worse when your kids are sparring: keeping them at home or taking them out of the house for a change of scenery. Given the choice, even with a woozy head, I'd leave the house, and that is what I did today. We went to Target for lunch and miscellany.

Monday, July 21, 2008

The Mommy Drive-by

If you are a mother (and even if you aren't), you've probably heard of the concept of the "mommy drive-by" -- enduring the criticism of one's parenting skills or techniques (usually) from a complete stranger while out in public with one's children. While I suppose it's possible that these happen to men, I think the guy code generally forbids it.

Today, I experienced a mommy drive-by of sorts. I brought The Tot and The Girl to the Discount Village Outlet down the block from our pediatrician's office. His mother was on her cell phone the whole time. The Tot, The Girl, and I were all in the same aisle. The Tot was hanging out *in* the rack and another little boy about The Tot's age/size came over and wanted to play with him. This was not a big deal, except the mom was on the phone (and swearing) in the next aisle over, and the kid grabbed The Tot by the neck. They were both in the rack, with the little boy hanging off his neck. The mom came over and told him no, then started to extricate him from the rack (with one hand holding the phone to her ear the whole time), but it was difficult. I silently came over and pulled The Tot out, but to do so I had to remove the other child's arm from around his neck. I didn't say anything to the mom or the other little boy while I did it, I just pulled him out of the rack. The mom immediately chastised me for touching her kid, with expletives and everything. She said something about how she didn't have to touch my child to get her child off of him (I don't see how she could avoid it.) Then she returned to the other aisle and started swearing about me on the phone ("I'm going to kick some bleeping bleep!") to her friend.

I have a terrible head cold, so shortly after this incident, I bailed on my treasure hunt and went home.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I am obsessed with my children

Or so my husband tells me as I inadvertently dominated tonight's dinner-out-with-childless-friends conversation with tales of The Boy, The Girl, The Tot, and parenting topics (attachment, social work, anxiety, pathologizing young kids, and the DCFS anonymous hotline). We went out for a rare dinner out at Indian Garden with my college friends. What can I say? I spend 90% of my time with these munchkins. In many ways, they are my "work." Which was what I talked about a lot before we had kids.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Road Trip!

Earlier in the summer, I took The Boy with me to Seattle. This weekend, it was The Girl's and The Tot's turn for an out-of-town trip. I rented a Toyota Prius (55 mpg, baby!), packed The Girl and The Tot in the car, and headed up to Minneapolis-St. Paul to visit my friend Prema and her family. Prema's daughter and The Girl share a birthday. They haven't seen each other since just before their first birthdays. Although originally from Minneapolis, Prema now lives in Norway; I figure if she can spend 10 hours on a plane with a preschooler to come to the U.S., I can spend 7 hours in a car with a preschooler (and a toddler) to drive up to Minnesota.

I have to say: my kids did really well on the 8-hour trip up and 7-hour return trip, in a strange car, with only each other, some music CDs, small toys, Color Wonder markers, and the scenery ("look! It's a farm!") for entertainment. Both The Girl and The Tot slept on the way up. We stopped just north of Madison at a giant cheese sign to buy cheese curds and eat our picnic lunch. Unfortunately, we crossed the Mississippi River into Twin Cities traffic just at the 5 o'clock-on-a-Friday hour, so the drive into Ramsey was a bit slow. We visited with Prema and her family; The Girl and The Tot enjoyed some serious run-around-and-play time. Then we had dinner and went to bed.

On Saturday, I discovered that I had forgot The Girl's suitcase in our living room in Chicago. Fortunately, we were able to borrow a few things from Prema's daughter, although she is quite a bit smaller than The Girl. We had a lazy day in Ramsey -- playing at the playground, going on a pontoon boat ride down the river, and then splitting up to attend events in the cities. Prema headed in to her old St. Paul neighborhood for a cocktail party, while The Tot, The Girl, and I got hopelessly lost going to visit an online friend in Minneapolis. We did eventually find it, however, and the kids played with our host's kids' toys, and we all enjoyed a yummy dinner of quesadillas and Southwestern pasta salad.

On Sunday, we returned to the playground in the morning and had another lazy morning of playing, then got on the road to home at noon. On the way home, I stopped at IKEA in Schaumburg so we could have dinner and stretch our legs.

Truthfully, I did not see much of Minneapolis or St. Paul while I was there, but I'll leave that visit for another time.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

How did I not know this was here?

Today, The Dad, The Boy, The Girl, The Tot, and I all piled into the car to attend our playgroup friend S.'s 2nd birthday party. It was at Adams Playground Park, on Seminary, tucked into a corner of Lincoln Park. It was an awesome space, with a shaded sandbox, two playground sets on recycled tire hardscapes, and a separate water playground within the lot. How have I lived in the city for this long and not known what a gem was lurking around the corner from my favorite strip of Armitage (with its Paper Source, Art Effect, Old Town School, and CBA)?

We got there late, so we had pizza and cupcakes with bright blue frosting, and then changed into our suits and played. The Girl, who normally does not like water features, was having a blast going down the water slide with The Boy and A., while The Dad and I enjoyed chatting with R. and M., and The Tot alternately walked around the water park and explored the traditional playground features.

After the park, we headed out to Naperville for a post-4th BBQ at Grandma-and-Grandpa's house. I had not planned to be out of the house for more than just the party, so we stopped at Meijer in Naperville to pick up disposable diapers and fresh clothes for everyone. The kids had a great time at G-and-G's house with their cousins.


Today, we celebrated America's birthday by participating in our local park's Independence Day festivities. The Boy decorated his scooter and The Girl decorated her Dora plastic trike with red, white, and blue ribbons and a flag. The Tot didn't much care; he rode in our red e3 (and fell asleep) during the around-the-block, all-neighborhood parade (headed by the fire engine from company 69). The Girl sat in the fire engine before the parade began. The Boy scooted around with his friends.

After the parade, there was a neighborhood sing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," the raising of the flag by the Boy Scouts, and races (sack, running) and games (egg toss, etc.) for everyone. There was also a little bouncy castle (with a long line) and the City's Bicycle Ambassadors offering a bike obstacle course and helmet fittings. The Boy had a severe case of reality not meeting expectations. So we eventually went home.

And had the neighbors, a few friends, and The Dad's cousin over for a lunch from the grill. The kids all whooped and hollered and slipped and slid in our borrowed (from our neighbor) Slip-n-Slide. It was a great day.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mom's Night Out

A mom needs a night out every once in awhile. Last night, I got the chance. And it was with the childless! Which was both good (real conversation!) and bad (what to talk about?!). The occasion for last night's outing was my college friend Matt's 35th birthday; I met him and our friends Melissa and Andy at Kamehachi on Wells in Old Town.

It was a warm (but not hot) evening, so I took the train. I ran into Matt just outside the station, so we walked over together. Melissa and Andy did the same thing, and they met us about 20 minutes later outside the restaurant. I don't know if we can thank the price of gas, the weather, a collective interest in public transit, or the pain-in-the-ass factor of parking in Old Town, but we all took public transit last night.

I am not generally a fan of sushi, or Japanese food in general, so I had never been to Kamehachi before. Matt loves their sushi, and it probably is very good, but I was not particularly impressed with my experience. They sat our party of four outside on the airless, covered patio. I got a salad, a stiff drink served in a pretty martini glass (that the waitress took away before it was empty), and the Chilean Sea Bass. I had asked the waitress whether it was better grilled or marinated/baked and she recommended the baked version. It's unlikely that I will be back, but I think I should have overruled her and gone with my instinct, which was for the grilled version.

After dinner, we walked around the corner to the Old Town Ale House, which I found very charming. It reminded me vaguely of both Murphy's, our old hangout at the University of Illinois, and a Paris bar. It was a very laid-back, unassuming crowd. I was surprised to find such an establishment in the current Old Town. But I would definitely go there again.

I buggered off around 11:30 or so, as I still had a 40-minute train ride ahead of me and needed to get my tired old bones to bed. I owe everyone a round. It was raining and chilly by the time I caught the L home. I had to get off at the library and walk a bit to change trains if I didn't want to take the red line the long way around the Loop, but it was all OK. There were a few drunk law students asking me where the library was; um, I don't know, follow the signs. I am not your mother. I'm off-duty.