Tuesday, June 30, 2009

IKEA... Again!

What is with this crummy Chicago weather? Part of me is relieved not to be sweating and baking in the hot Chicago sun, but part of me is bummed that it's too damn cold/overcast to do anything fun.

Grandma Texas left this morning, so our plan for the day included a trip to Pirate's Cove, a small-time amusement park of sorts, in Elk Grove Village, which is a short drive from O'Hare. Unfortunately, after we dropped Grandma at the airport, the sky looked dark and menacing and I was freezing, so I pulled rank on the kids and headed to IKEA instead. The Boy and The Girl weren't particularly happy about this decision, but they got into Smalland today and made the best of it. The Tot and I wandered around the As-Is section and contemplated kitchen gadgets while the older two kids played in Smalland. Afterwards, we all had lunch and watched Ice Age 2 in the restaurant. And then, this time they were good and got ice cream, and froze their bums off eating it on the benches outside before hopping into the car to go home.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mama and The Dad Do Madison

This past weekend, The Dad and I had the wonderful opportunity (thanks Grandma Texas!) to get away for a weekend without The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot. The occasion was our 10th wedding anniversary, which actually falls over Father's Day each year, but I'm willing to slip the date a bit if it means a weekend with my husband without the kids. We had originally planned to celebrate the occasion in early June, with a combined business/anniversary trip to San Francisco for Java One. Unfortunately for all of us (me, The Dad, and Grandma Texas, who had already booked our flights), The Dad's company, with its acquisition by Oracle pending, canceled his trip.

So we set our sights closer to home: Madison, Wisconsin. A town (technically a small city, but after Chicago and San Francisco, it feels like a town) where neither of us had ever been, despite our combined 52 years' Illinois residency. The Dad's been to Milwaukee many times, however; the only place I'd ever really been in Wisconsin was Kenosha, just over the Illinois border.

It turns out, Madison is pretty cute. The New York Times covered Madison recently in its Travel section, although its reporter was much more interested in the varied pursuits of the town's residents. The Dad and I, on the other hand, were not that ambitious. We didn't bother with the university, Frank Lloyd Wright (although having recently read Loving Frank, I was mildly interested in checking out Taliesin -- until I found out a visit would require reservations and getting in the car), or Lake Mendota.

Our interests were much more basic: eating, drinking, walking, and light entertainment. Like the NYT reporter, we dined at both Harvest (a localvore foodie's dream) and the Old-Fashioned, the latter of which really is a microcosm of Wisconsin (The Dad got a shot of beer to go with his bloody Mary). We also ate at a less-than-stellar Ethopian restaurant on State Street (although it passed the people test with flying colors), grabbed coffee at Espresso Royale (which brought me back to my own college days, where I went to Espresso Royale in Urbana on a daily basis [except on Saturdays; then I went to Gypsy in Champaign for beer]), and shared a communal table in the crowded, but excellent (and on-par with its Yelp reviews) Sophia's Bakery Cafe. I bought myself a pile of books to read from A Room of One's Own bookstore (The Dad had a stash from home). We also saw Star Trek at a theater with horrible sound on State Street. And slept at our hotel, the Doubletree (a quick walk to both the university and the central shopping/Capitol area). And read. And walked lazily around the Capitol Square on Saturday morning, buying (and eating) loads of fresh pastry and freshly shelled peas and strawberries and maple syrup from the vendors at the Dane County Farmer's Market.

On our last day, we took the long way home - via the Elkhorn Flea Market, one of the Midwest's biggest and well-known flea and antiques markets. We got there late and weren't charged the $4 pp entrance fee. I did manage to find a sweet occasional chair for our living room, which just fit in our Toyota Corolla rental car.

Musing on Motherhood

This morning, after dropping The Girl off at Kilbourn Park camp, I took The Tot and The Boy to our usual Monday morning playdate at the Disney II playground. The Boy played with his friends, and Grandma Texas and I talked with the moms. The organizer came in late, telling us that she's fed up with her children's seemingly endless bickering and ingratitude for all that she does for them. She pointed out that we do so much more to entertain our children than our mothers did when we were young.

And she's right. But how did we get from there to here? Although I don't think of myself as a constant entertainer for my children, I realized that in my own way -- taking them to the zoo, museums, farmer's markets, etc. -- I am guilty of entertaining my children, possibly of entertaining them too much. Are my friends and I raising another generation of spoiled brats? Will my children have the sense of entitlement that appears to have permeated the latter half of the Millennials?

It's an interesting question to ponder, although even pondering it feels like yet another indulgence in the parenting-as-movement culture. Between celebrity babies and contemplative articles every week in The New York Times's culture section, The Atlantic Monthly, and other such cerebral pubs, not to mention the seemingly endless number of mom-blogs, it seems that the parenting culture is steeped in itself. Were our parents so deliberate in their parenting? Did they even have a "parenting philosophy?" And if they did (which I doubt), how did they overcome the isolation of parenting in the absence of e-mail, the Internet, mobile phones, and in the presence of a still-intact standard of socialization? Barriers may have been coming down in 1970, but no one was watching Jon and Kate Gosselin's marriage unravel on national television.

In the circles I run in, it seems that modern mothers have benefitted from time, education, and wealth (which gives us time) to examine and re-examine our parenting. Are we overthinking things? Much has been made of parenting-by-instinct, but even in the days of Laura Ingalls Wilder (we have been reading The Little House in the Big Woods before bed) and her Pa, a societal order was imposed on everyday interactions. And has "conventional parenting wisdom" embedded itself so deep in our collective parenting psyche that we're unable to discern instinct from CW? And even if we were, could we withstand the mommy drive-bys that would inevitably occur? My instinct is that it's OK if I leave The Tot and The Girl in my gated backyard to play while I am working just inside, but CW (and perhaps DCFS) would disagree with me. And thus, I have became an entertainer for my children.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Note to Self: Dempster Hosed

On Thursday afternoons, The Girl participates in a 3-way kid swap with two of her friends. Today was our turn to host. Before we could open our home to a gaggle of 4-year-old girls, however, we had swimming lessons for The Girl and an errand to run.

It was very important to The Girl that Grandma Texas come to watch her swimming lesson at the Leaning Tower Y in Niles. She did, and The Boy, The Tot, Grandma Texas and I watched the lesson through the glass wall between the pool and the SRO entrance lounge. The Boy and The Tot declared that they were hungry, so I spent my last $1 in cash on a bag of Cheetos from the vending machine.

After class, I got The Girl dressed and to the car, and we headed north and east to Vogue Fabrics in Evanston. The Girl was starving after her lesson and complained loudly that she needed a snack all the way down Dempster, which was completely backed up due to traffic. My snack destination of choice was Breadsmith, near Dempster and McCormick, but The Girl could not wait, so we pulled into the Starbucks drive-thru in the converted Skokie train station and ordered up 3 apple fritters (the kids), a blueberry muffin (Grandma), and a tall nonfat vanilla latte (me). After that, the traffic on Dempster wasn't quite as irritating, although we were still running up against the time contraints of both Grandma Texas's friend coming to our house in the city and the start of the girlie playdate.

I needn't have worried about Grandma Texas's friend, who came from the south suburbs, got stuck in Taste of Chicago traffic, and made every wrong choice possible in the drive up. It took her 2.5 hours to make a drive that should take about an hour.

Fortunately, we found Vogue Fabrics with only a little help from the folks at Verizon Information, parked easily just across the street, and zipped in and out of the store. If you need oilcloth for any reason, they have some great patterns at this location. I picked out a cute black and white pattern that is more grown-up than the juvenile/retro patterns I was expecting to find (and found) based on oilcloth mats available at Land of Nod, etc. We made it back to the city with time to spare.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Mobile Misses

Cell phones only work if you remember to charge them. I planned my morning around an 11:30 a.m. appointment with my friend Sarah M. to return her kids' Kettler tricycle. Despite otherwise careful planning -- up at 8, The Girl's lunch made, weather checked, trike in the car and ready to go -- I failed to charge my cell phone and was unable even to text her to say we were there. She got there at 10:30, we got there at 11:00. I paged her at 11:40, but she'd already headed back to the Gold Coast.

Grandma Texas is coming today so that The Dad and I can leave The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot in her competent care while we travel to Madison, Wisconsin for the weekend. It's an ever so slightly belated celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary. I should clean my house in anticipation of her arrival, but Grandma Texas is my mother and, fortunately as such, she's taught me everything I know about housekeeping. Which is that life is too short to spend it scrubbing the floor more than once/month or so.

The Tot, The Boy and I brought The Girl to camp at Kilbourn Park, then headed south to do a little Treasure Store run. I bought 4 dresses, a Cynthia Rowley jacket, and a sweater for me, all for less than the price of one dress elsewhere (and by elsewhere, I mean Target or TJ Maxx). Given the number of trendy young women at the T.S. today, I'd say that the folks there have gotten wise to us bargain-hunters -- the prices I paid were a bit higher than usual as well.

After our failed Target meet-up, we also ran to the Carter's Outlet to pick up some short-sleeved PJs for The Tot; he's been sweating in his Hanna zippers every night. PJs were on clearance, so that was good news for me. I also checked out the new fall stuff for girls. It's very Mini Bodenesque.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Untitled Tuesday

After last week's scary outing and being trapped in/near the house with the kids (two of them sick) for most of the weekend (though I did manage to plow through several tasks on my home to-do list prime doors, install new doorbell buzzer, plant impatiens, hang ferns), I decided to try to go out again today. Due to my hatred of having to pay to park, I wasted time weighing our possible options--Field/Shedd, MSI, Notebaert. Rattled by last weeks outing, I didn't yet want to return to "the scene of the crime," so Notebaert/Lincoln Park Zoo were out. Ninety-degree, humid temps made the long, sun-baked trek to Field/Shedd from Miegs Field utterly unappealing. (Although my Shedd membership is about to expire and new kid-facing exhibits [as shown by Cheryl Bardoe's photos] look appealing--must go next week.) Therefore, MSI was the clear winner: straight shot, indoors, discounted entry through reciprocity with Peggy Notebaert membership. I packed a simple lunch of PB&J sandwiches, hardboiled eggs, water in SIGG bottles, and dry cereal for crunch, and we clambered into The Great White Moose for the drive to the southside.

Before we even got to the entrance ramp to the Kennedy, The Girl asked, "When are we going to get there?" The battle cry of an impatient 4-year-old (has anyone ever met a patient 4-year-old?!?). Sadly for all of us, the Kennedy traffic sign reported 36 minutes to downtown. A stop into Vogue Fabrics on Roosevelt for oilcloth ("Sold out. Check Evanston.") added another 1/2 hour onto the trip due to my clouded understanding of city streets after 7 years of northside living. The southside of Chicago does have an east side -- and it gets larger the further south you go. So a simple drive down Canal Street became a long drive east through lots of blight before we reached Hyde Park's leafy antiques.

Parking near the museum was, as usual, easy-peasy. Why anyone spends $16 to save themselves 3 blocks and a light is beyond me. Though perhaps I should be glad everyone does and that no one reads this blog my parking secrets revealed to a mass audience and I may have to eat it at Standard Parking. Today, although spots were easy to find, we were especially lucky with street cleaning, which had already come, gone, and ticketed. At noon, the signs were already removed along 57th Street.

The Boy was happy to see the R2D2 postal box is still near the museum entrance. I was happy to see that 1 adult and 3 kids can gain entrance to the museum for under $16 with Peggy Notebaert membership. We come to MSI about 3-4 times/year; at those prices, it makes little sense to shell out $118 for a family membership. Maybe when my kids are old enough to read the museum text and be mildly interested in genomes. On the ride down, The Girl asked a lot of questions about how babies -- human and chicken -- are made and born, so our visit included a stop at the chicken hatchery on the 2nd floor. Once there, all the questions stopped; she was more interested in tapping the glass to make the fluffy chicks come to peck at her hands on the glass, which is exactly how it should be when you're four.

Our tickets purchased, and wanting to avoid a repeat performance, I laid out a few ground rules for our visit. Then we went in. Straight to the bathroom for The Boy, then the cafe for a much-needed coffee for me, and finally to a table smack in front of the Jollyball for lunch. Which The Tot, The Boy, and The Girl ate only during the machine's 60-second breaks between runs. Most of the time, they were pulled up against the railing, wathcing the giant metal pinball make its rounds through refurbished junk-heap Switzerland. Oh, and back to the bathroom for The Girl as soon as our lunch was all spread out on the table. Any tips for taking 3 kids to potty in public places? Besides, asking them to go all at the same time, which backfired this time.

After 1/2 hour at the Jollyball, The Boy was ready to go upstairs to the train hall (The Great Train Story), an exhibit that captures the rapt attention of The Tot and The Girl as well as it does The Boy.

Down again to see "the girlie show" per The Girl -- Colleen Moore's Fairy Castle. She listened intently to the full audio tour. The boys were more interested in pulling down all the audiophones and fleeing to the exit and the ancient fire engines at every opportunity (The Tot).

Finally, we spent our last 45 minutes at the Idea Factory in the basement. Mobbed with daytripping daycamper when we arrived at 2:10 p.m., the Idea Factory was closed to new guests until they left the area. They were all lining up to leave as we approached the gate, so there was room not only for us to enter, but to enjoy our time there. The Boy and The Girl were hardworking factory employees, making the balls go down the river, where The Tot retreived them and put them in the air tube to be zipped back down to the factory base with The Boy and The Girl.

We headed home about 3, giving ourselves enough time to hit the bathrooms and a rare trip to the gift shop before picking up The Boy's swimsuit at home in time for his 4 p.m. swim lesson at Independence Park. (In the end, we needn't have rushed; lessons were canceled because some kid pooped in the pool and they needed 4 hours to ensure that it was properly cleaned.) My favorite part of the trip home from MSI is the stretch of I-55 that leads to I-90/94. I drive it so rarely these days, but the memories of driving home from the Loop with my parents when I was a child are strong. After years of hearing my mother's voice telling me to take the way to Indiana, it's hard to ignore it to take the way to Wisconsin.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Fucking Fours

Yes, I just used profanity on a blog that is primarily about my children. The Girl is four and she is a hellion in a dress. My mother calls her age/stage the fearsome fours, but my old neighbor, Debra, referred to them as the fucking fours. I think Debra's description is more apt for The Boy's four-year-old behavior and certainly describes The Girl's behavior of late.

We were supposed to have a nice outing with our friend Jenna and her kids, going to the Green City Market for organic goodies and then strolling down to the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum to eat our lunch and explore the museum. But, as I should know by now, things often do not go according to plan.

And today I was that mom -- the one screaming and sprinting down the sidewalk, totally out of control. I was the mom that other moms look at and sigh with relief that they are not, and their children are not mine.

I lost The Girl. Or more accurately, she ran away from me. And not just ran, she sprinted the full length of sidewalk from the south end of the Farm-in-the-Zoo to the U-shaped drive at the Cafe Brauer. The Tot and The Boy were walking, so we were paced much slower than she was. As I came around the curve along the farm fence with the boys, I called to her to stop. She turned, looked at me, and then ran along.

By the time I came to that curve, I could no longer see her -- the path was crowded with kids-on-strings, strollers, and other groups coming south along the east side of Stockton Drive. I sent The Boy to run up to her, but when I came to the entrance of the Zoo farm and still saw him running, I really began to worry. By then, I had The Tot in the stroller and sprinted down the sidewalk. A man with a kids-on-string group asked me if the boy in the red jacket was mine. I said yes, but I was more concerned about the girl in the green sweatshirt. He dropped his backpack and sprinted north. He was running, I was running, The Boy was running, I was doing the mom-panic shriek and I could hear moms pushing strollers in the opposite direction ask what was wrong as I ran past them.

Finally, The Girl had stopped near the entrance to Cafe Brauer. I grabbed her, and yes, dear readers, I spanked her.* Then I took her wrist and we rejoined Jenna & her kids. We said sorry and good-bye, and The Girl screamed all the way back to the car: she could not walk, her feet hurt, she was tired, etc. Later, when we were sitting in traffic on Fullerton, I explained why I was upset with her, to which she replied that she "couldn't hear" me and she just wanted to go to the nature museum.

* Despite using it twice in the past 7 days, I don't consider spanking to be part of my parenting toolkit. Given how often we go on outings, I didn't think it was necessary to remind The Girl to stay close to me. Clearly, I was wrong about that. What corrective action would you have taken if your child ran 2 blocks away from you?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Brookfield Zoo

Despite the weather forecast, The Tot, The Boy, The Girl and I went forward with our plan to meet our friends at Brookfield Zoo this morning. I pulled into the parking lot right as the downpour began.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Lazy Summer Day

Today marked the first real day of summer vacation. Thankfully, it was also a warm, sunny day so we could enjoy it.

We started the day by going to Disney II playground for a rising-1st-grader playdate. The Boy protested; he wanted to have a "regular summer day." Um, what? But The Girl really wanted to see her friends and I wanted to see mine, so we went to the park. The Boy spent the first 20 minutes yanking on the door handle of the car and crying, but eventually rallied to play with his friends and former-recent classmates.

We went home for lunch and lots of playing in the backyard. Our neighbor came by about 1/2 an hour before her nap and asked The Boy and The Girl to ride bikes in the front sidewalk while her babysitter watched. So they did that and I put The Tot down for a nap. When he woke up, we went to Baskin-Robbins (The Girl calls it "Justin Roberts") for ice creams. The Tot was quite possessive of his lopsided mint-chip cone, and refused to let me lick it evenly -- and the whole scoop toppled. Fortunately for me, he didn't seem to notice and was happy to crunch his remaining sugar cone. As seems to always be the case in this particular BR-DD, there were 2 police officers talking to a senior citizen at a nearby table and they seemed to find The Tot's incident amusing.

We ran to Target afterward, and I seem to be learning something after 6 years of parenting because it was a short trip for the 3 things on our list and little browsing as the kids were all pretty wired from the ice cream. When we got home, The Dad took everyone outside to play with the neighbors, ride bikes and play in the backyard. A very nice summer day.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


After our exciting morning, we headed home so that The Tot could nap. But then The Dad called to say that he was biking up to Andersonville's Midsommerfest with Uncle Fuzzy, and would we like to join him? Hmmm, no need to ask me twice. The Boy, The Girl, The Tot and I jumped in the car and managed to find parking for The Great White Moose (in a *huge* space) only 4 blocks away on Ravenswood and Catalpa.

My "I don't have enough cash" problem was solved when they told me at the door that the suggested donation of $5 was for adults only; the kids got in free. Found The Dad among the throngs of pretty boys and handsome girls along Clark Street and hung out in front of the kids' stage to see the Trinity Irish Dancers (The Girl declared that she absolutely wanted to take these classes as they passed out slips for a free trial class), dance to pop hits from Radio Disney, and listen to a band of 10 teenagers belt out 70s hits that were surprisingly good. We also went to the Alamo lot to decorate funny masks (me, The Boy, The Tot) and a cone (The Girl), and learn about a new venture called Kindercone that imports to Chicago the German tradition of giving kids' a giant paper cone filled with gifts and trinkets on their first day of 1st grade. I think I may get one for The Boy.

We also went to Big Jones for dinner (Hi Mark!). I had a fried green tomato sandwich with bacon that was divine -- the toast was crunchy, the bacon was crispy, the tomatoes were warm and soft, the lettuce was crisp and fresh. And it went really well with a warm, sunny day and a cold beer. The Big Jones' bar was serving drinks to-go, so it was really busy in there and the kids were at the end of their tolerance when we left at 5:45; I'm going back next week just for the red velvet cake.

After dinner, we walked down Clark Street a bit to the Women & Children First bookstore; they were closing very, very soon, but unlike the Chicago Public Library, they let me tell them the book I wanted (Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods) and pay for the copy they retrieved for me. We were all pretty tired and slightly dehydrated by that point, plus the crowds were too drunk and too dense to care about little kids or strollers at that point, so we left around 6:30. The Girl remarked on the way home that she had a really good time. Me, too.


Today, GIPNA's first farmer's market of the 2009 season enabled me to be a localvore -- buying locally sourced/grown, seasonally appropriate produce. And make happy tummies in The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot. We headed up to Independence Park right at 9 a.m. this morning to score rhubarb and asparagus from the farmers in Benton Harbor, Michigan. We also got fresh spinach and garlic scapes from a Wisconsin organic farm, an artisan donut for The Tot, cookies from Ideal Pastry for The Girl and The Boy (although The Girl didn't want to eat hers after she thought a passing dog licked it), a sugar waffle from a new vendor for me, soap from Big City Fuzz, coffee from Stivers, and had my knives sharpened. The kids and I enjoyed the bluegrass jamming from a local music group and stayed at the park until past 11 a.m.

Strawberries from Michigan:
The Boy took this photo.

The musicians' tent:

The Boy, The Girl and The Tot enjoying the music/market:

After almost 7 years in this neighborhood, I finally feel as if I am part of it. I saw and talked with loads of people I knew this morning, while The Girl, The Boy and The Tot saw their friends and, in The Girl's case, made fast new ones while running around the playground. We finally headed home around 11:30 to have lunch made from some of our locally grown and sourced produce, clamber in the car and drive to Home Depot for a new propane tank for the grill.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Restaurant Week Is Back

Everybody's doing it: having kids, that is. Gwen Stefani & Gavin Rossdale, Ben Affleck & Jennifer Garner, Chris Martin & Gwyneth Paltrow -- they're all having babies and parading their parenthood through the public eye. And so, as evidenced by TimeOut Chicago Kids and Daily Candy Kids and other publications, parenting -- or at least taking the kids out in public -- is hip. Someone tell that to the patrons at The Bongo Room.

The upside to all this having-kids-is-hip media coverage is that it's no longer a chore to find out what is going on in the city for wee ones. For instance, I just learned that Chicago restaurants are reprising their Kids' Restaurant Week this summer -- in two weeks, from June 20-28. Although the restaurant selection is not as good as it was last year, I'm interested in booking a table at one or two locations.

School's Out for the Summer

And we celebrated by lots of crying and sassing, and a single swat on the bum for good measure. Ay yi yi yi, it's going to be a long summer.

Really, we zoomed out of school at 10 a.m. and headed up to Schaumburg to go to IKEA. We had tried to go on Thursday after our playdate with Melissa, but The Tot fell asleep and we abandoned the plan, so The Boy and The Girl really wanted to go today. We got there about 11:40 and went straight for lunch, then headed back down to Smalland, which was full with a crowd of kids waiting to get in. Apparently, everyone else had the same plan to go to IKEA rather than spend another day watching the rain and shivering, even though the weather surprised us with some sun and oppressive humidity.

So we wandered around and looked at dishes, bookcases, beds, as-is, outdoor stuff, and the kids' area. I bought only dishes and placemats. The Girl decided that it would be a good idea to ram the cart containing said dishes and The Tot into bookcases and glass partitions, and would not be deterred or restrained in her pursuit of this activity. That's how she got the bum swat. And did not get our regular post-IKEA ice-cream treat. No one did, although The Boy was really well behaved. And he took the ice cream news really well.

Afterward, we drove to U.S. Toys in Skokie to buy journaling notebooks for The Boy. I suggested that he keep an occasional journal about his summer adventures, and knew they'd have teaching materials of that nature. If anyone is interested, I'll transcribe his sentiments in his blog. US Toys also has lots of toys and art supplies; The Boy spent some of his allowance money on a Playmobil racecar and I spent a lot of mine on tempera paint, Shrinky Dinks for The Girl, a Toby train for The Tot, and various other things to keep everyone occupied during the down times.

Then we went home, stopping at Dominick's on Cumberland on the way for dinner fixins and right-now snacks.

Friday, June 05, 2009

The Library

Hell hath no fury like the woman whose child's first and most recent library experience was marred by a crabby security guard. I keep trying to like the Independence branch of the CPL, I really do. But it's darn hard when I have an unpleasant encounter with a staff member (usually the same security guard) about once each year. I'd complain to the higher-ups if I knew to whom I should direct my complaint. The head librarian at Independence is about 5 years younger than the folios at the Rare Books Room; I don't think she cares.

But I just had another run-in with the security guard at Independence and I'm fed up. I stopped going to that particular branch for about 2 years after my last major encounter (in which same security guard told me that I "had" to cover my nursing baby's head with a blanket because I was nursing him in the library. My response:"No, and it's illegal for you to suggest that"), but slowly returned to my closest branch after racking up major fines in forgetting to return my books on time to Sulzer.

What was the problem today? I walked in to the library at 4:25 p.m. with three kids, a stroller, and a Razor scooter, the latter of which I planned to fold up and put into the stroller, but didn't yet do so because The Boy was so excited to enter the library and get his first library card. Security guard: "You have to leave that behind the desk." Me: "I was going to fold it up and put into the stroller." Guard: "That's OK for today, but you can't have that in here." If I folded it up and put it in the stroller before I entered the library, they'd never know it was there. Nit-picking at its finest. Next, the guard tells The Tot that he can't be around the corner from the desk; he has to be with me. Does she not work with children? How does she not know that 2-year-olds do not necessarily stay with their mothers?!? The librarian who was helping us fill out The Boy's library card application told us that the library was closing at 5 p.m., so we went around the corner to look at books.

We ran into The Girl's classmate's dad, and he tells me that the Independence branch is so much better in terms of book quality than the Austin-Irving branch. Meanwhile, The Boy and The Girl pick out books.

At 4:45 p.m., the guard comes over to tell us that the library is closing in 15 minutes and that if we want to check out books, we should do so now, and if we aren't checking out books, we should gather our things. There are two other patrons in the library, including our acquaintance. The Girl starts to freak out that she's going to be locked in the library, pulling on me and crying, despite the fact that it's now only 4:47 p.m. and we have to wait for the people in front of us to finish checking out. (She gets really anxious the end of any event -- movie, concert, flight, etc.) In the middle of this, The Boy leaves his books in The Tot's stroller seat because he doesn't want to carry them, and The Tot gets mad and tosses them out. So then the guard is chastizing him/us for that, The Girl is freaking out, and I am ready to lose it. At 4:50 p.m., we get to the checkout desk and there are no other patrons in the library. I asked the librarian calmly and nicely if she could refrain from pushing us out the door as my daughter gets very anxious about being locked in, etc. The security guard overhears me and says, rudely, "We close at 5 p.m. I do this every day." As if I was somehow calling her experience into question; I was just asking, very nicely, for a little accommodation for a scared 4-year-old girl.

The best part of this? I walked into my house at 5:04 p.m., and we live about a 6-7 block walk from the library.