Monday, November 10, 2008


The Dad hosted Football Sunday this week. I used The Great White Moose to drive to a lovely new-construction house in Lakeview to attend a children's clothing trunk show. It turned out to be a trunk show not only for the children's clothing line, but also for a home goods company that makes the prices of Pottery Barn's linens seem reasonable. To say that I was out of my league is a gross understatement. I browsed a bit, submitted my extremely modest order and hightailed it out there.

After I left, I realized that I was 1/2 block away from Julius Meinl, so I waited for 20 minutes for a table and had tea and a nice little lunch. My playgroup used to go there quite a bit, but I have not been there in 6 months to a year. It was mobbed when I first arrived, but as brunch ended at 2 p.m., the crowd thinned out as well.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Green Bungalow

The Dad and I managed to secure a babysitter for the kids this evening. We're going to GIPNA's 3rd annual wine-and-cheese event to benefit the Independence Park Bungalow Restoration Project. I've wanted to go every year, but have always had a conflict of one kind or another up until now.

Edit: Or not. I just got an e-mail that they are sold out. Maybe I will make it to the 4th annual version instead.

Friday, November 07, 2008


The Boy, The Girl, The Tot, and I observed today's CPS professional development day, which gives The Boy and The Girl the day off, by going on an old-fashioned museum outing. We met Cara and Gracie at the Museum of Science and Industry, using The Boy's first-day-of-school voucher to gain admittance to the museum gratis.

As usual, parking on Hyde Park's streets was easy to find, so we skipped $13 underground museum garage and trekked the block or so to the museum's main entrance. Fortunately, my kids are pretty used to my cheapskate ways about parking; they didn't even complain about the walk, although it was quite cold on the return trip. The landscape of the area -- LSD dividing a treeless lakefront from the wide lawn of MSI creates a wind tunnel: it is always blustery and windy down there. It was also overcast and the temperature dropped all day, so it was windier and colder than usual today.

We had arranged to meet Cara and Grace in front of the Jollyball, but ran into them in the elevator instead. The Boy was thrilled to see that the Jollyball was fixed and all 4 kids spent the better part of 1/2 an hour glued to the rail in front of it. It was The Tot's first real viewing of the contraption and he took it in silently, pulled up to the railing with a serious look on his face. Meanwhile, I enjoyed a cup of coffee from the nearby Brain Cafe and marveled at the lit and decorated Christmas trees already dotting the interior of the museum.

After my cuppa, we went upstairs to The Great Train Story exhibit, otherwise known in our household as "the choo-choo hall." It is an area that can (and has) easily occupy The Boy for most or all of our visits. The Tot, who has just discovered trains himself, was similarly enthralled with the trains. Unlike The Boy and The Girl, however, who run from step to step around the exhibit to see the trains from different vantage points, The Tot was content to watch everything go by from a single location.Alas, the girls were not content to watch trains all day and we moved on to the Genetics exhibit to watch the baby chicks come out of their shells. The Tot liked this as well. There were a few small school groups in the museum and one of them had named all of the hatching chicks, which was kind of cute. One of these days, perhaps on a future football Sunday, I'm going to have to go back to these museums without the kids so that I can actually explore the exhibits on my own timetable. The kids were completely uninterested in learning about the double helix structure of DNA, genes, genomes, etc. All in good time, I suppose.

Next, we went downstairs to the Idea Factory, which was mobbed. They were at maximum capacity, so we actually had to wait a few minutes to gain entry into the area. I barely saw The Boy once he got in -- he was quite happy "running the factory" toward the back of the exhibit. The Tot spent most of his time getting utterly drenched, taking balls out of the river and putting them into the air tube.

We all had lunch and then did a quick twirl through Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle. Twice (for The Girl -- Cara, Gracie and the boys checked out the fireman's area just outside of it). By then, we were all pretty tired so we decided to call it a day. On the way out, The Tot noticed the Silver Bullet/Zephyr; I told him that it would have to wait for another day.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Tower

Today, I went on a field trip with The Boy's class to the Sears Tower. It was a field trip that is only possible in the city; it was very different from the field trips of my youth, which invariably involved a sack lunch and a big yellow schoolbus. Instead, 50 kindergarteners, 2 teachers, 1 aide, and about 30 other parents walked two blocks from the school to the Metra station and climbed aboard a fairly crowded train to Ogilivie Station. We disembarked downtown and walked the 6 blocks to the Sears Tower. I had charge of two kids -- The Boy and another little boy in his class (J).

It was great fun to parade through the city to the Sears Tower. There was a huge caravan of kid-parent-kid trios; our party took up most of the length of a city block. Our walk was primarily through the financial district, so we passed a lot of suits. They didn't seem particularly amused, but when the market is in the can, it may be hard to appreciate a bunch of little kids taking over the sidewalk.

It was gray and overcast so the Sky Deck wasn't particularly crowded, but there were a lot of turnstiles, etc. to go through before we could actually reach the big, bad elevator. We went through security, had tourist photos taken, watched a (really very interesting) video (by the History channel) about the Sears Tower's construction, and waited in line before we finally made it up to the top. Most of the kids were pretty hungry by the time we actually got to the top so it seemed like a very short visit up there.

The Boy's teacher, Mrs. Callaghan, had prepared a worksheet of things the kids should look for when they got to the top. When we initially got out of the elevator and out by the glass, The Boy was pretty scared. He did not want to go near the windows. J., on the other hand, was crawling under the railing to lean his body directly on the glass. The Boy warmed up to coming to the railing a bit later. He and I had great fun finding the landmarks from the worksheet -- Marina Towers, Buckingham Fountain, the United Center, Wrigley Building, Merchandise Mart, etc. My other little charge, J., pointed out the boats along the river and the trains. The field trip was the end note of a unit on community. The height of the tower allowed the kids to see just how big their community really is.

By then, everyone was hungry and the kids were having trouble maintaining a good behavior standard. We hauled back to Ogilvie Station to have lunch at McDonald's in the food court on the first floor. Unfortunately, it was 12:30 when we arrived and the food court was packed with office workers, so it was hard to get seats. However, we did manage to get all the kids seated and eating their McNugget meals. The Dad came over from his office to meet us and I dashed over to Arby's to get something for myself. I bought both The Boy and J. a cookie from Mrs. Field's to eat on the train, inadvertently sparking a trend among other parents on the trip.

We managed to score most of a car to ourselves for the train ride back. With full tummies, the kids' energy returned and the ride back was noisy with the energetic chattering of 50 happy kindergarteners. It started to rain just as we pulled into the station, so The Boy, J., and I raced back to school before the sky really opened up. It was a lot of fun.

Monday, November 03, 2008

I am not a tourist

...but going downtown makes me happy. Today was a Football Sunday, which meant The Dad took The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot out to the suburbs to watch the Bears' game and play with their cousins. I had the afternoon to myself. So I did what I used to love doing in the days before I had children: I went shopping.

I took the bus eastward and transferred to the Red Line. Rode the Red Line down to Chicago Avenue. The Dad bought me an iPod Nano last year for my birthday, but I use it so infrequently that I didn't have it charged. Also, I must confess that after listening to non-stop chatter whenever I go anywhere with my children, it's nice to listen to the regular city sounds of the bus, the train, etc. when I am using public transportation. I suppose if I still commuted everyday, I'd want to shut out the sounds of the world and listen to music or audio books, but for as rare as a solo trip on the bus/L is for me these days, I am just as content to do the Trib's Sunday crossword puzzle during the 1 hour trip from my house to 900 North Michigan Avenue.

Although I had been feeling under-the-weather this weekend, the 4-block walk to my destination was envigorating. I love Chicago all the time, but it was especially beautiful today with the warm, sunny weather and fall foilage. There were tourists pushing strollers, peaceful demonstrators handing out pamphlets about Palestine and Israel, suburban moms with big hair and shopping bags, and impatient hipsters in low-top Cons and skinny jeans.

My destination within the Bloomies building was this store; with my nursing days nearly behind me, I'm ready for a change. Ten minutes and $200 later, I was ready for lunch. I browsed in Williams-Sonoma for a bit (I'm lusting after the 3.5-qt Le Creuset dutch oven), got a not-very-good, overpriced sandwich from the coffee bar on the first floor, and walked across the street to Water Tower Place.

I hadn't realized that American Girl Place had moved from its old digs on Chicago Avenue to the northwest corner of WTP. It was cute to see all the girls and their dolls. I've never been inside the store, but I've heard that it's crazy inside. When The Girl was a baby, I was dreading the inevitable trip to AG to buy a doll and have tea. Now that she's getting closer to the age when I might get her a doll, I think it might be fun to take her to AG on a weekday outside of the holiday season.

When I was in junior high school, WTP felt like the destination along the Mag Mile. Back then, there weren't as many flagship stores and there certainly weren't as many shopping centers along Michigan Avenue as there are now. I remember when getting safari t-shirts at Banana Republic was all the rage; the store is still in the same space -- all airy and modern with signs announcing its 30th anniversary. When I looked at it, I could see a closed-in space with fake palm trees and bush props from 20 years ago in my mind's eye. The rest of WTP looks the same as it did in 1988
(all chrome and glass and glare).

As part of my self-improvement day, I went to Sephora to pretty up my face. I have never been a make-up girl, although I've made various essays over the years. Another random memory: going to the Estee Lauder counter at Marshall Field's on State Street when I was 13 or so. I ended up with a 4-product combination that I think I can get on my face every morning, and left a happy, tired woman.

I stopped at the world's stuffiest Starbucks on Chicago Avenue for an iced tea on the way back to the L. I took the more direct route home: the Red Line to Washington to the Blue Line and back home.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Playgroup Reunion

This morning, we had a reunion of sorts of our playgroup. The occasion for the get-together was Ben C.'s 3rd birthday party at Pump It Up in Lisle. The Boy and The Girl had a fantastic time bouncing on the huge, generator-powered inflatables. The Tot also seemed to have a good time, although he could only climb up (and slide back down) the triangular wedges at the base of each unit. The Dad mainly helped him. Truth be told, I should not have been there as I was feeling under-the-weather.

Meanwhile, I caught up with three moms (and one dad) of our original playgroup. It's weird to think that two of our playgroup families have been suburbanites for longer than three years. It also seems strange to me that the original kid members are now all in kindergarten; it was interesting to see how much the kids still recognized and related to each other.

We all had pizza and cupcakes after the jumping bits, and then headed back into the city. We took the Eisenhower back in so that The Dad could stop by Red Eye Eyewear to pick up his new glasses. Everyone (save The Dad, who was driving) passed out in the car on the way home. When we got home, I took a much-needed 4-hour nap.

Chicago Mama, Exhausted Mama

We celebrated Halloween in our neighborhood this evening. As usual, a ton of trick-or-treaters visited our house in search of candy, and the neighborhood was filled with happy little groups of costumed kids and their parents. Our friends Stella and Frances came over with their mom and little brother to go T-o-Ting with us. We made it just a bit further than we usually do, but after a trip down our street and the street just east of us with 5-6 kids, I was pretty tired. The Tot was in a crabby mood, so we dropped him off after the first block, leaving him with The Dad to hand out candy.

The Dad ordered a pizza for us all; it was a nice antidote to all that sugar and red dye no. 7.