Friday, October 31, 2008

Treasure Store

I went to the Treasure Store (this time the Unique in my neighborhood) twice this week. Once on Monday because it was 1/2 price day to look for accessories for The Boy's Halloween costume (score! a cream turtleneck for Luke Skywalker for 75 cents), and again today to look for a warmer jacket for The Tot (no dice; there isn't much in warm, stylish jackets for either boys or girls).

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Disney II PTA

Disney II PTA has been formed! Tonight, I attended the office meeting to charter the Disney II PTA. It was a long meeting, with a lot of discussion about member dues.

I'm Secretary of the new organization. Now that that's out of the way, you can click beyond to read more about the rest of the meeting.

Ruth Johnston (RJ), Chicago-area Field Service Representative for the Illinois PTA organization, called the meeting to order at just after 6 p.m. About 70 parents, teachers, and Disney II Principal Chkoumbova were present at the Disney II gym/auditorium, 3815 N. Kedvale, Chicago. Renee -------, interim PTA planning chair, was also present. Caroline Bilicki served as Secretary Pro Tem.

Employing Robert’s Rules of Order, RJ began the meeting with a brief introduction of her background, role, and PTA mission.

Renee gave a brief recap of the October 14 planning meeting, outlining the group’s goals for tonight’s meeting, including establishing an executive board for the Disney II PTA and setting up committees.

RJ reiterated PTA’s mission/background (see 10-14-08 meeting minutes) and asked audience members to state their reasons for coming to the meeting tonight. She said, “You have a voice! We want you to be active and have a part in this. Our mission is parents coming together to advocate for children.” Steve K----, Sandra B-------, Lisa G----, Tiffany O---, and Rachel C---- spoke.

A Name to Make it Official

With no more questions about PTA, RJ moved to the first order of business: establishing a name for our group. This is a necessary step in establishing our organization, filing paperwork with the national organization, and receiving non-profit status

After a brief discussion, there was a motion from the floor to name our PTA group Disney II PTA. Seconded. There was a motion from the floor to waive future discussion and go straight to a vote on name. Seconded. Both motions passed by a show-of-hands vote.

We are Disney II PTA.

A Membership Drive and Dues

RJ led us to our next (and most contentious) order of business: establishing membership dues. A lengthy discussion ensued amongst many audience members. RJ reminded us that $3.25 of each member’s dues will go to the national organization. Dues are paid on an academic year. Other schools/groups structure their dues at $20 with 2 membership cards, $15 with 2 membership cards, $12 with 2 membership cards, $10 with 1 membership card, $5-6 with 1 membership card. She said that PTA is not a fundraising tool in and of itself. There is no proxy voting allowed according to PTA national by-laws (Disney II PTA will establish its own by-laws during a November board/by-laws meeting).

Motion from the floor to make 1 family = 1 member. Later rescinded.

Motion from the floor to make 1 membership fee = $10 with board discretion to waive fees in cases of financial need. Later rescinded.

Motion from the floor to establish dues of $10 per person and$20 per family (with 2 membership cards). Motion to vote. Seconded. In stand-up-and-be-counted vote, motion is defeated 29 to 26.

Motion from the floor to establish dues of $5 per person as a suggested minimum donation. Motion to vote. Seconded. In stand-up-and-be-counted vote, motion is passed 40+ to 4 with several abstentions.

Election of Officers

The next item on the agenda was to elect officers. RJ called for additional nominations from the floor. Initially, there were none. RJ presented the candidates by reading their statements. They were:

  • Tony M---, President
  • Brenda D---, Vice president
  • Martina G---, Vice president
  • Caroline Pollock Bilicki, Secretary
  • Steve K----, Treasurer

Each stood up to identify him/herself to the audience.

Motion from the floor to consider making 2 VP positions on the board. RJ led discussion. Motion to table discussion of succession of power from president to 2 VPs. Motion from the floor to name 2 VPs to executive board. Seconded. Move to vote. In show-of-hands-vote, motion is passed nearly unanimously.

RJ reiterated call for nominations for PTA President. None. Nominations closed.

RJ reiterated call for VP nominations. Tony M--- nominated Ron S----, who accepted the nomination. Ron lives in the neighborhood, has a son in the tuition-based preschool at Disney II, has experience serving on non-profit boards, and wants to maintain a high quality of life for our children.

The other VP candidates also had a chance to present themselves.

RJ reiterated call for nominations for PTA Secretary. None. Nominations closed.

RJ reiterated call for nominations for PTA Treasurer. None. Nominations closed.

Motion from RJ to vote by show of hands to elect President, Secretary, and Treasurer. Seconded. All candidates were voted in for these positions.

Voting commenced by paper ballot for the positions of co-VPs. Renee, Caroline D., and Helen administered ballots. Brenda D---, Martina G--- elected co-VPs with 40 and 43 votes, respectively. Ron S---- received 23 votes.

Membership Drive Commences

With voting out of the way and time slipping away, RJ invited members-to-be to pay their dues and get their official membership cards.

Fiscal Year Vote

After the break, RJ moved to the final agenda items, including determining the organization’s fiscal year. Motion to forgo discussion and vote on July 1 – June 30 fiscal year. Seconded. Motion passed unanimously by a show-of-hands vote.

What’s Next?

Tony M---, new PTA president, called for volunteers for a by-laws review committee. This meeting will take place sometime in January. Please contact him if you’d like to help with this task.

The new PTA board will work with Ms. Chkoumbova to determine a date in December for a general PTA meeting. With that, Tony adjourned tonight’s meeting.

Copies of these meeting minutes can be found on the PTA Google group or with Ms. Santiago in the school office.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Annual Apple (Pumpkin) Picking Trip

Today, we trekked up to Woodstock, Illinois for the 4th annual Chicago Mama apple-picking trip. Unfortunately, all the apples were down, so it became a pumpkin-picking trip only. The Dad and I knew about the apples before we left in the morning, but The Boy and The Girl did not learn this until we arrived at the apple orchard and learned that the shop was closed. (The Dad and I did not know the shop would be closed; we were hoping to at least buy some apples.)

It was just as well that the picking season was over. It was darn cold today, with a fierce wind. The warmest part of our day was walking through the corn maze at the Red Barn on IL-Route 47; the stalks of dried corn provided nice protection from the wind. The Boy and The Dad went through once while The Girl got her face painted. Then we all went through together, finding letters at various turns to form an anagram. Thanks to my nascent addiction to Facebook's Word Challenge, I didn't have much trouble forming witch hat out of the letters. We had lunch and pie/cake/cookies at the Red Barn also, and picked out pumpkins. The Tot was so cute trying to pull the wagon full of heavy pumpkins through the gravel on a very blustery day.

We pulled into Homestead at about 1 p.m., but the barn was completely locked and even the "Honk for Service" placard was hidden from view. We took the briefest of strolls to see the trees, and sat on the swing bench to take a family photo. Then we headed back home. The Dad obligingly swung through the parking lot of the Huntley outlets, but there wasn't anything remotely appealing on the directory list, so we headed back into the city.

Cut Rate Toys

My adventure for today was a trip to Edgebrook's Cut-Rate Toys. The purpose of my visit was to purchase a Radio Flyer Runbike to give to The Girl for Christmas. The Boy is incapable of keeping a secret (which is a good thing for a 5-year-old, in my opinion), so I brought The Tot with me on the errand.

Despite Saturday traffic, it only took us about 15 minutes to drive there. I drove up Central Avenue, which proved to be gorgeous as it wound through the Forest Reserves. Finding a metered parking spot along Devon Avenue was easy-peasy. I even let The Tot walk across the street (holding my hand, of course).

My neighbor had told me that Cut-Rate Toys was a dingy little store, but I didn't think it was that bad. It was actually quite spacious and I felt less enveloped by stuff as I have in boutique toy stores like Building Blocks Toys and Timeless Toys. It was also refreshingly not a Toys R Us imitation; that place gives me a headache after about 5 minutes. CRT had a good mix of toys -- Darda cars, Melissa & Doug sets, Lego, Brio, Fisher-Price and some party-supply quality things as well.

I found what I needed right away while The Tot discovered the train table. Cut-Rate Toys has at least one aisle of wooden train accessories (tracks, locomotives, cars, etc.), most of which are Thomas the Tank Engine or Brio. The Tot zoomed into the train table and did not move much during our 45-minute visit to the store. He cried for quite a long time when we left; he did not want to leave the choo-choos.

I had been planning to take him for an ice cream at The Chocolate Shoppe, but he wandered into a salon just before the ice cream parlor and the owner gave him a dum-dum sucker. He forgot about the trains and was a happy camper for the drive home.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Abt Comes to Visit

The lovely and always polite service people from Abt Electronics paid us a visit today. While they are always polite, they don't come to visit merely out of kindness. Instead, they came to install our new range and microhood. The range part went well -- it is so nice to have a working oven after 3+ months without one. The ignitor on our old one went kaput (again!) at the end of July as we discovered when making cookies for the neighborhood garage sale. Of course, I had just mixed up a triple batch of cookie dough when this happened. The Girl and The Boy were disappointed; The Tot was apoplectic when there were no cookies at the end of that interminable (for a 1-y/o) wait.

But today, they came, they installed, and we now have a fabulous oven! Unfortuntately, we were not so lucky with the microhood. I should know by now, but still have yet to learn after 6 years of doing projects in my 105-year-old house, that whenever I take on a project, it is going to domino into more side projects than I had originally anticipated. Such is the case with my microhood project. I now need to re-route my vent-to-outside ductwork further up the wall; anyone know a great HVAC person for this? It's such a simple thing; I feel like I should be able to do it myself, but fear becoming what I've grown to hate (as an owner of a home that is 105-years-old): a DIYer who does it badly.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Me, The Tot and .... not many others

In August, I signed The Tot up for a couple of classes, including Jammin' with Julie and the Park District's Tot Spot at Mayfair Park. I had hesitated taking The Tot to the Mayfair Tot Spot class because he seemed to be having such a hard time with Ms. Julie, a woman he's seen and heard on a near-weekly basis since birth. Plus, the weather has been nice, the class fee was extremely low ($10), and well, I just plain forgot about it a couple of times. However, today we went.

And The Tot did really well. When we arrived, the classroom was not set up. The only PD employee I saw explained that her superiors had told her not to even bother setting up the room since only 1 person had shown up for the class in the past few weeks. She showed me where the toy closet was and The Tot and I went to town taking out the PD's toys. Within about 10 minutes, another little girl and her babysitter showed up. She was the same age as The Tot, but an only child. That may seem like superfluous information, but it was really apparent in the way they both played and related to each other. If they were interested in the same toy, The Tot often desisted and went to play with something else until she became bored with the contested toy; then he circled back to pick it up again.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Choo-Choo Train

It occurred to me recently that as I pass through the viaduct under the L and Kennedy Expressway every day -- even multiple times each day -- I really ought to take The Tot and/or The Girl on it and go somewhere. Today, we did.

After dropping The Boy and The Girl off at school this morning, The Tot and I rode the blue line four stops southeast to Logan Square. Unlike his older brother at a similar age, The Tot found the train to be a very curious thing -- although he much enjoyed his train-platform-view of the cars stuck in traffic on the eastbound Kennedy at 9 a.m. this morning.

It only took us about 10 minutes to get to Logan Square, so we had a lot of time to kill before our destination -- The Gap Outlet -- opened at 10 a.m. I took him into Pierre's Bakery for a cookie and some coffee. We were pretty much the only boolays in there. I ordered a cherry empanada, but they had a huge selection of traditional Mexican/Latin American pastry. I want to go back to try a concha, which a man was selecting just as I was leaving -- he said that they are great. We sat at a table near the bank of windows looking onto Milwaukee Avenue to eat our snack.

At 10, we headed up to Gap Outlet. I needed to return a sweater for The Dad; the sales assistant gave me a hard time about it, mistaking the natural flubs in the knit for dirt, missing the (still attached) tags, and claiming it had been worn. She did take it back, but said she'd "damage" it out. It wasn't damaged, but whatever. It was annoying. I did try on two pairs of jeans at the recommendation of the merchandiser who happened to be in the store today, although I didn't get either. The straight legs were too low in the waist (mama of three needs something to keep in that stretched out middle) and the flare legs were too much like the jeans I already own (for which I paid $4 at the Treasure Store).

We finished up and walked back to the L stop at Spaulding, stopping along the way at one of the miscellaneous cheap-junk/household goods shops. I got a pair of tweezers for less than $1 and a resolve to go back next time I need glass canisters for anything. Except for some large die-cast cars, the toys and baby gear were crap, but they had a decent (and cheap) selection of kitchen goods.

After we got back to our neighborhood (The Tot was the object of attention from several of our co-riders on the L), we capped off the morning with a round of swing at the playground before picking The Girl up from preschool.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Northbrook Court

The elf had some shopping to do, so The Tot and I headed directly up to Hanna Andersson in Northbrook Court after school drop-off this morning. I made excellent time on the Edens, so we got there well before the stores were open. I let The Tot explore a bit -- he dug the escalators, of course, as well as the water feature near the elevator. We swung past The Corner Bakery for a latte and a Monster cookie for The Tot (He's learned how to say "bite," which is the cutest thing. He'll say it, open his mouth wide, and shove the proffered item into my mouth) and went over to the center treehouse to eat/drink them.

The treehouse was not very busy, and the kids who were there were primarily wee ones like The Tot or 3-year-old girls like The Girl. I was thankful for this as it allowed The Tot to feel comfortable enough to explore the structure while I drank my lukewarm coffee (my least favorite thing about the suburbs: cold "hot" drinks!*). Unfortunately, he didn't get to stay and play for too long; we had to get back to the city by 11:30 to fetch The Girl from preschool, so we skedaddled upstairs as soon as the shops opened. I also accidentally left The Tot's jacket hanging on the fence by the treehouse, so we got to make an extra trip on the escalators. In the span of 45 minutes, I managed to hit HA, Gymboree, and the Stride Rite store for a new pair of shoes for The Tot. And I still got to school well before 11:30.

* in the interest of fairness, I'll note my most favorite thing about the suburbs: cheap(er) gas.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Neighborhood Favorites

I took The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot with me this morning for "the usual" at Curio Cafe. It was packed. We managed to snag a table (it helps that we can cram into a 2-top), but a party of 5 that came in just after us had to wait a bit. The Tot got into a bit of a scuffle with the little boy sitting next to us; they both wanted the same activity cube. It had been the other boy's toy in a previous life and he did not want The Tot (or anyone else) to play with it. I've had more enjoyable meals at Curio, but that was more a function of taking 3 kids and the ad section of the paper to breakfast on a Sunday morning.

When I got home, Uncle Brian and the cousins came over for Football Sunday. The Tot was in heaven. He loves football. I ran a few shopping errands (Gap Outlet, Kohl's, The Home Depot) for The Dad. Then we took a family walk to the newly unveiled playground equipment at Athletic Field Park, at The Boy's request. It's quite a bit further than the playground at Independence Park, but it's quite nice. They've installed a new water feature between the original covered playground building and the basketball courts. It was obviously not working in 55-degree October weather, but I'm delighted at the prospect of sitting in the shade while The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot frolic in the spray park in front of me.

Plus, Meg and Tracy in park management are lovely people. Meg retrieved my keys from the ceramics studio for me on Friday, after I discovered I'd left them there after pottery class.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


The Dad took The Boy and The Girl to Nickel City this afternoon, leaving me and The Tot at home for some much-needed rest. I took a long nap. The Dad balanced the video games with a trip to Barnes & Noble to read, browse, and buy books. He also took them to Chili's for dinner.

Friday, October 17, 2008


"Back to school" is my favorite time of year. Partially because I love the fall itself -- crisp weather, crunchy leaves, apple-picking, etc. -- but partially because I love learning. Whenever my brain stagnates a little too much, I start dreaming about school. Because The Boy started kindergarten, and The Girl started preschool this year, I preempted my subconscious by taking a class myself. I had wanted to take a French conversation class at l'Alliance Francaise, but it just seemed like too much for us all to start fresh.

Instead, I signed up for a wheel pottery class at Athletic Field Park's ceramics studio. It's challenging in a much different way than French would have been. Pottery is definitely outside of my comfort zone, but so far, I've really enjoyed. I've yet to make anything, but that's not entirely the point. It's both strange and nice to hang out with people who aren't women, parents, or experienced career-people.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

An afternoon nap

Sunday afternoons in football season are usually my "day off." However, with The Girl and The Boy off to Grandma-and-Grandpa Naperville's house for the night and the mercury rising to a nearly obscene level for early October, I was not feeling up to my usual level of home improvement activity. When we returned from the Arb, I took The Tot on a walk to Home Depot for a hacksaw and white wood putty. By the time I got home at 3 p.m., I was ready for a nap. The Dad took The Tot to El Potosi for guacamole and chips (he was thoroughly unimpressed with his cheese quesadilla), while I enjoyed an exceedingly rare Sunday afternoon nap.

Hey Look! It's the Bardoes

On Friday afternoon, The Boy, The Girl, The Tot, and I headed over to the Bardoe family's house for pizza and playing. Everyone had fun -- even The Girl, who was bemoaning the fact that there were "no girls" (her age) with whom to play.

On Saturday evening, I agreed to babysit for the (sleeping) Bardoe children while their parents went out to dinner. I read Thomas Hardy's Far From the Madding Crowd and took a nap. They also live within greater Independence Park, so I walked home in less than 10 minutes.

This morning, The Dad ran into the Bardoe family in the parking lot outside the Morton Arboretum. We aren't normally dressed at 9 a.m. on a Sunday, let alone in Lisle on a family outing, but we were meeting Grandma and Grandpa Naperville at the park for breakfast and a walking tour of the decorated scarecrows. Columbus Day afforded The Boy and The Girl a rare weekday off and they were invited to spend the night at Grandma and Grandpa Naperville's house. This is what people who don't watch football do with their autumnal Sundays!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

When Worlds Collide

It's not often that this happens, but this afternoon's activity merged several of my special interests -- stuff to do in Chicago with kids, neighborhood events, and kids' clothing/shopping -- quite nicely. The event which made my mind-meld a reality was the OIPA Parents' Committee's 3rd annual Fall Fest at the playground at Disney II. With help from Jenna E., I organized a kids' clothing swap to complement the event. The clothing swap went quite well, I think. So well that I'd like to find a way to do another one in the spring. I dropped off 3 bins' worth of clothing to the Salvation Army afterward; we gave away 12+ bins' worth of stuff during the 2-hour festival.

The most amusing part of the swap for me was when a couple of 7-8-year-old girls came up and asked me where all the girls' size 8-10 stuff was. When I explained that someone had already claimed it, they looked aghast at the thought. "You mean they just came and took it?!?" Well, yes; that was the point. Apparently, they took the clothing swap for a shopping opportunity.

The Dad came to watch the kids, although Jenna and I took turns "supervising" the swap and hanging out with our families. The Dad was certainly not the only father with babes in arms while mom enjoyed a social moment. I ran into several people I know, which always gives me a sense of satisfaction at community events. It's so nice to be a part of something.

The park was packed with little kids; I know that The Girl, The Boy, and The Tot certainly got my money's worth ($3 each) out of the event. The most popular booth was by far the face-painting/hair coloring area, which had a long line throughout most of the event. The Girl came out looking like a pink-and-green fairy, while The Boy's towhead was temporarily rendered navy blue.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Make New Friends, But Keep the Old

One is silver, the other gold. It's been 14 years since I've been a Girl Scout, and the GS credo is still branded in my brain. Today, I got to hang out with one of my oldest friends, Cara, and her daughter Grace. With her oldest two in school in Aurora, and The Boy in school in Chicago, we don't get to see each other as much these days. We did see each other a few weeks' ago, but parties are only good for catching up if you're not the host.

Grace and The Tot had fun eating Dunkin' Donuts munchkins and playing in the bathroom sink together for about an hour at our house before we all piled into The Great White Moose to pick The Girl up from preschool and go to lunch.

We had lunch at one of my favorite spots in the area: Curio Cafe. When we arrived, a group of (impossibly skinny for just having given birth!) moms and nursing newborns was just finishing up. It turns out that it was the monthly meeting of La Leche League of Lincoln Park. The Lincoln Park must be a misnomer, because Avondale is a long way from LP. They meet the second Friday of the month at 10 a.m. - noon at Curio Cafe. C'est tant pis pour moi; I'm long past the point of needing LLL, but perhaps it will help someone else.

Cara had the steak sandwich; I had the plato tipico and they were both very good. Both little girls had grilled cheese, sliced apples, and grape Honest Juice pouches. The Tot had the alphabet noodles with cheese, which (while good) wasn't up to par, and finished the rest of the girls' sandwiches.

After lunch, we headed southeast to hit the Treasure Store, where we both flipped the racks for cute kids' clothes. I spent far too much money and made Cara late to pick up her kids from school. She did better, scoring a pair of MiniBoden pants in size 7/8 for $2.50. The Tot, The Girl, and Grace drove us nuts by playing in the racks.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Around the Neighborhood

I miss going to museums. These days, we've been sticking close to home. Between The Girl's preschool day and The Tot's nap time, there just isn't a lot of time to go anywhere. In the mornings, while The Girl is in preschool and The Boy is at school, The Tot and I go to thrift stores (last week, I got a fantastic, solid wood credenza [to use as a media stand] for $35), run errands, putter around the house, go to the park, drink coffee at Starbucks, and jam with Julie.

Sunday, October 05, 2008


After The Girl's ballet class, The Boy went over to play at Enver's house while The Tot, The Girl, and I went home to get ready for a birthday party. We were all cranky. The Tot slept for 1/2 an hour and woke up crying. The Dad asked me if I thought The Tot felt feverish. I said no, but then The Dad realized that I felt feverish. The Tot kept rubbing his eye and crying; we had just missed his pediatrician's Saturday hours, so we went to Urgent Care at Children's Memorial Hospital. The Girl stayed home with The Dad.

It turns out that The Tot had only a virus and had irritated his own eye from rubbing it so much. I'd like to point out now how much I am impressed by pediatricians in general, and the pediatrician at CMH who we saw today. They have such great tricks for engaging little people, making them comfortable with the doctor, and thus being allowed to examine the child. For some reason, this amazes me.

Afterward, I cruised through Whole Foods for chicken noodle soup and dinner, and picked up The Boy on the way home. Not surprisingly, The Tot fell asleep in the car and woke up in a much better mood.