Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Hat For My Boy Who Won't Wear Hats

Brendan generally refuses to wear hats. But I made him one any way. So far he has been willing to indulge me and wear it for about ten minutes at a time before he declares, "All done."

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Why I Am Thinking About Graco on Thanksgiving

Are you hugging your little turkeys close today and feeling thankful for all that you have in your life? So am I.

But I am also thinking about the families who aren't quite so lucky. Graco has a new program called Ready For The Road Ahead that focuses on car seat safety (a topic that I think can be baffling and overwhelming to first time and experienced parents alike). It is a great resource for navigating the sometimes confusing world of car seats.

But that's not the reason I telling you about it. If you go check out the website, you can help a family in need by simply registering for their Ready. Safe. Go! Car Seat Club. For every ten people who sign up, Graco is going to donate a brand new car seat to a family who needs it.

So basically, all you need to do is take three minutes to sign up and know that you are helping another family in need and then you can go back to sneaking extra bites of stuffing and hugging your little ones. So simple.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Win Free Passes to Day Frog

Hey there Chicago Moms. With the arrival of the oh-so-cold weather and holiday breaks from school just around the corner, I know that you are looking for ways to keep your little ones busy. (I know that I am).

I have free passes (a $15 value) to give away to Day Frog, the new indoor play space in the Streeterville neighborhood. Head on over to Being Savvy: Chicago and learn more. Or just email me a to win one. Enter by midnight on November 30th and I will notify the winners on Monday, December 1st.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Friday, November 21, 2008

It Wasn't the Greatest Show on Earth, But It Was Pretty Good

On Wednesday night, I took my little monkeys to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus at the United Center. My group included three sick children (runny noses, coughs, possibly slight fevers) and my sister (who is an unabashed circus enthusiast -- she would go to the circus by herself even if there weren't kids around).

And I am happy to report that, despite some reservations I had about how the kids would react, the show pretty much delivered family fun.

After surveying my group, the highlights definitely included the animal acts -- the elephants, dogs, ponies, horses, and one stray porcupine. Ellie loved the aerialists who hung from their hair and has declared her aspirations to do that when she gets bigger (great). And -- no surprise here -- the little boys loved the seven motorcycles driving around in a cage at the same time. I, myself, thought I might go into labor during that part because I was so afraid that something bad was going to happen and be etched in the kids' memories until the end of time.

Other parts of the show were not so inspired. Some of the clown schtick was painfully bad. Even my two-year-old had the presence of mind to declare, "I don't like this" during a scene about a cell phone with a planted audience member. We also didn't think much of the "clumsy" aerialist who ends up losing her costume and swinging around in her underwear -- didn't really seem like "family fun" to me.

My other least favorite part of the circus was the constant barrage of crap they were trying to sell you. As soon as one guy finished trying to convince you that each kid needed a $9 lemonade in special souvenir cup, another vendor came by with the replica plastic motorcycles. Enough already.

All in all, the kiddos had fun -- which is why we went. I definitely recommend arriving early so you can take advantage of the "pre-show" where you can walk out on the floor and check out the costumes, motorcycles, and see an elephant make a watercolor painting.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus is at the United Center until November 30th and tickets are still available.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dear Parents of Preschoolers

Do you live in the Chicago area? Are you the parent of a preschool-aged child? Are you reading Being Savvy: Chicago on a regular basis to get good ideas for educational and enrichment activities for your family in our great city?

If you haven't checked it out yet, you should take a peek. And hey, while you are there, go ahead and leave a comment on one of the recent posts (a nice one, please). Or maybe send me an email at to tell me about some great local activities that your kids love.

Now I know that Savvy Source has instituted this somewhat complicated sign-in process where you need to give your grandma's maiden name and the pin to your 401(k) account in order to comment (this was not my idea). But once you have an account set up, you just need to put your password in next time you come back.

So go on over there and have a look. Thanks.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

You Made It For Me?

Eleanor made me this necklace out of string and cut-up straws. I have been wearing it every day. When I picked her up from school last Friday, she hopped in the car and declared, "I made this for you because I love you."

Of course, I started crying.

Other Mamas out there know what I mean when I say that there is no better gift than one made just for you by your little one. I would trade my whole jewelry box for a selection of homemade items like this. And I have seriously been wearing it every day.
Ellie makes lots of things for lots of people -- but usually I am involved in the process (i.e. a book for Grandma's birthday or a thank you note for a friend). I hardly ever get to be the recipient of her gifts and I think that is why it is so special to me.

I still have the first thing she ever made for me -- this Styrofoam Christmas tree. Isn't it beautiful? Such a talented artist, my little girl.

Friday, November 14, 2008

One Last Project

Those of you who know me in "real life" know that my Dad passed away last June after three years of illness. Some of you also may know that he was an accomplished poet.

During the last three years when his entire body was basically falling apart, he managed to complete a book about Buffalo, New York -- his beloved hometown. Much of it was written on legal pads from his hospital bed in various stages of consciousness (and some stages of significant confusion).

The fact that he was able to call upon his brain to write poetry in the midst of all of his major organ systems failing him is a feat that I still can't quite comprehend. I certainly think that it is no coincidence that he died within days of submitting his final manuscript (and watching my sister walk down the aisle).

Last Tuesday, I traveled (gigantic baby belly and all) to Buffalo for a sort of "book release" party to celebrate my Dad and his one last project. If you love Buffalo (or know someone who does), this book will inspire many fond memories.

Anyway, the book is available now. It is called Buffalo Visions and Voices. And it is one last accomplishment to marvel at.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Chance to Win a Holiday Apron for the Little Baker in Your Life

If you have any holiday baking planned with your little kitchen helpers in the next few weeks, I have an opportunity for you.

Check out this post on Being Savvy: Chicago and enter to win a personalized children's holiday apron. The winner gets to choose from three different styles and your apron will be ready in plenty of time for the holidays.

Go ahead and click over right now. Hurry. The giveaway ends tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Baby Om

Today I am over at the Chicago Moms Blog writing about my love for prenatal yoga.

Pregnant or not, you should think about taking a class -- there is a nap at the end.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Help Me. I Make the Worst Butternut Sqaush Soup Ever.

Every fall, I try to make butternut squash soup.

I always have an absurd amount of squash from my CSA box and squash soup always sounds like a good idea on a cold fall day.

But it always disappoints (you should see my husband's face when he sees is simmering on the stove).

A few weeks ago, we had the most delicious pumpkin soup with chorizo and sherry at Lula Cafe. Amazing. The flavor. The texture. So good.

I think that I loosely follow Ina Garten's take on butternut squash soup. But the flavor always ends up being flat -- too squashy. And I can never achieve a smooth, thin consistency so it looks a little bit too much like the pureed squash I feed my babies.

So I thought that I would ask you. Anybody have an amazing squash/pumpkin soup recipe for me?

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Little Mama

I am reposting this picture today because Steph at Adventures in Babywearing (who is like the nicest gal ever) is having a giveaway for a Nonny and Boo sling -- which I have been shamelessly coveting for some time now.

I figured that a picture of my sweet girl wearing her much-loved baby is a lot more interesting that a picture of me with one of my babes in a carrier.

Isn't she just the cutest little mama?

Sunday, November 9, 2008


I had kind of forgotten about how the last stages of pregnancy can be a little bit . . . physically challenging.

Between my barely tolerable lower back pain, periodic Braxton-Hicks contractions, middle of the night leg cramps, heart burn and general digestive distress, I am not the world's most pleasant person.

When someone says, "How are you feeling?" I either just say "great!" to spare them the unwanted ranting and raving or the floodgates open and I feel compelled to detail every ache and pain.

Just looking forward now to some swelling in my hands, the inevitable onset of cankle, and gaining somewhere between six and nine more pounds before I deliver.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Livin' in the Land of the Free

Have you noticed that our economy is a disaster lately? Oh, you have.

With your disappearing 401k, the upcoming holidays and the rising price of . . . everything, family budgets are getting tighter and tighter. But that doesn't mean that you have to skip out on great family activities. Chicago is full of great free stuff to do with kids . . . you just have to know where to find it.

Check out my guest post on We Just Got Back (a travel site for families) about fabulous free family activities in Chicago.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

A Hat For Her

I made this hat for Eleanor.

My pride prevents me from disclosing how many starts and stops I had with this little number. My hat making is definitely still in the rudimentary stages. And there is one dropped stitch.

But Ellie likes it. And so do I.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What If She Were My Only?

On Saturday morning, David and Brendan went in search of a meat grinder (whole other story). So Ellie and I were free to spend the morning together. We packed up the wagon with some necessary supplies, headed down to the neighborhood Starbucks to pick up some provisions (a vanilla milk box and a donut), and then we spent the morning together at Wicker Park.

Ellie brought her sketch book and colored pencils and did some drawings. After awhile, she got up and asked me, "Will you push me on the swing for as long as I want? Not just for a minute but until I have had all of the swinging that I want." I almost started crying.

And since then I can't stop wondering how her life would be different if she were my only child.

She makes a good point. When she asks to be pushed on a swing, I oblige her for a moment -- but then inevitably have to run off because Brendan is waiting to be pushed in a swing or he has gotten himself into some precarious situation that requires adult intervention.

And if she thinks that she has to wait for a decent push now, wait until the spring when I have a new babe in a sling and Brendan is still getting himself is precarious situations that require my constant attention.

How is a girl supposed to get a decent push from a distracted Mama like me?

As much as I like to think that she is better off having her brothers in her life, I also must admit that as a consequence, she gets less and less of me. The mornings when I can take her to the park and give her 100 percent of my attention are few and far between. And I think that there is something a little bit sad about that.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

There Are Some Advantages to Being Gigantic

I went to vote early last Thursday. My Mom had already voted and she warned me that the lines were pretty long. She offered to watch my kids while I voted and I couldn't pass that up.

As much as I wanted Eleanor to participate in the voting process with me, I just didn't think she had it in her to stand in line with me for over an hour (this was such the right decision).

When I arrived, the wait was nearly two hours.

The man organizing the line took one look at me and apparently decided that he didn't want to risk having me birth my baby right there in the hallway.

Next thing I knew, I was standing in a considerably shorter line behind three elderly ladies with walkers (I am not kidding). The four of us got to go right to the front of the line and I was out of there in no time.

And I just looked straight ahead on the way out so as not to catch the hundreds of dirty looks that the people in line were shooting my way.

So it turns out that it really pays to be an enormous pregnant lady sometimes (it is almost worth hardly being able to tie my own shoes).