Friday, March 26, 2010

Letters Are Out

All over Chicago, mailboxes are aflutter, hearts atwitter: CPS elementary acceptance letters are out. In 2007, I applied to almost 30 schools for The Boy's entry into kindergarten. He was waitlisted at several, and got into none. He eventually got into Disney II. Oh, how different the world of CPS is just two years later. 

The most important change in CPS is not the addition of Disney II Magnet, not the departure of Arne Duncan for the federal Department of Education,  and not his replacement in the form of Ron Huberman.  It's the fact that the consent decree--and its related race-based selection system--has been turned on its head, leaving CPS to adopt a new admissions policy that relies on socioeconomic factors

So I applied to only Disney II for The Girl, who gained admittance as a sibling of a current student. I also submitted a GEAPs application for her and ranked four regional gifted center (RGC) schools and two classical schools. She scored high enough on the gifted test to get into Coonley, although her 121 score for the classical test was too low for Tier-4 admittance into any of the classical schools.

Although Coonley is ranked well, I am confident that The Girl will receive a superior education from Disney II.  And, if all of the ifs align (if there is a preschool-for-all next year, if  The Tot gets in, if he gets into the morning session, if the siblings policy holds), I'm confident that The Tot will have a great education at Disney II as well. 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wedding, San Francisco, Mixed Emotions

I'm writing this from the United lounge at SFO, midway through the last leg of my trip here to witness and celebrate the marriage of one of my oldest friends, Emily. While the average age of brides is now something like 29, Emily is in her mid-30s, and I was 25 on my wedding day. It seems odd to me that Emily is now crazily, happily married, a wife, and everyone hopes, will one day sooner rather than later become a mother. Similarly, looking at my own life from the perspective of my college friends, most of whom are single, it seems crazy that I have been married nearly 11 years, with three kids. It is the life I want.
That's why I am surprised how much I enjoyed shedding my skin of wife, mother, writer, caretaker, laundress, and baker to resume a life that I'd be miserable in now: tooling around San Francisco with my single, college friends, drinking too much, telling and retelling stories of past nights of drinking, drama, relationships, work, and life, laughing racously. I've never lived the single life in San Francisco, but the City is irrevocably tied my childless former self. I've read M. Sasek's book This Is San Francisco to my children a million times and while part of me wants to take The Boy to see the sea lions on the rocks, the up the hills and down the hills, part of me also wants to keep San Francisco to myself: quiet corner cafes with outdoor seating and a glass of wine shared with friends, hauling butt up and down the hills, never really going to museums, and fresh flowers everywhere, all the time.

I re-explored the City yesterday, ending the day at the Buena Vista Cafe for Irish coffees at sunset. As the shadows fell against the Argonaut Hotel, drawing me closer to now, I was hit by melancholy. I spent my first ever night in San Francisco at the Buena Vista after moving to the Bay Area in 1998. I spent my last ever night as a SF resident at the Buena Vista before leaving in 2002. And plenty of nights in between, sitting at the bar watching delicate glass cups thick with creamy foam come out on trays, the plate glass windows facing the bay fogging up from the heat inside. It is so tied up with my memories of San Francisco that if you told me tomorrow that only tourists go there, I wouldn't care.

San Francisco: I'm glad I knew you when.

My plane is boarding now, so I'm going to say good-bye to SF, have a nap on the plane and wake up in Chicago, ready to see my babies, my husband, embrace the snow-rain-cold that is a Chicago spring. I'm ready to go home.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


It's Dr. Suess's birthday! You know, if I had thought about it when I came up with this blog, I could have used Dr. Suess characters as monikers for The Boy, The Girl, The Tot, and The Dad. The Dad is a huge fan of Dr. Suess, specifically The Lorax. We have two copies of The Lorax in the Chicago Mama household, including The Dad's original copy and one I bought at a garage sale for the kids. I'm constantly quoting Dr. Suess in my life, which translates well to most active parents, but causes your average 20-something to react with perplexity.

The Dad would be the Lorax and I'd probably be the Onceler (not that I want to be a Republican). The Boy would be a Brown Bar-ba-loot, The Girl would be a Swanee Swan, and The Tot would be a Humming-Fish.

While The Dad's favorite Dr. Suess story is The Lorax, I am not sure what is mine. When I was a kid, it was the story of Bartholomew Cubbins. As an adult, I enjoy reading many of the stories to my children, although my favorite is probably Red Fish, Blue Fish, One Fish, Two Fish. What about you? What is your favorite Dr. Suess story?