Friday, July 31, 2009


Sand is an essential part of summer, don't you think? It was the inspiration for my craft column in Chicago Parent this month. Have a read if you'd like.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Organic Option

Did you know that the clothes that you and your kids are wearing right now were likely treated with formaldehyde? I didn't either until I started researching my story on organic clothing for children in this month's Chicago Parent Magazine.

It was kind of an eye-opener for me. Take a look if you are interested in learning more.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My BlogHer Recap

So BlogHer wasn't like I thought it was going to be at all. I went because I wanted to meet people and learn new blogging tricks -- neither of those things happened.

I did however get to watch grown women line up for free samples of tampons and granola bars. It wasn't pretty.

I wrote about my experience over on Wee Windy City if you want to know more.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Blogging about BlogHer

I am going to BlogHer tomorrow.

I've spent so much time blogging about going to BlogHer (here and here and for the last time I swear here) that I haven't actually spent any time getting ready to actually go to BlogHer.

I have so much do to. Let's just say that the logistics of bringing a six-month-old with you to an all-day conference while also leaving your two older children with a sitter who wants to take them on an all-day outing to the zoo are . . . . extensive.

If you want to check in with me tomorrow to see how chaotic it is to bring a baby with you to a conference, head over to Wee Windy City where I will be liveblogging -- unless I am walking the lobby with my crying baby.

Wish me luck! And leave a comment if you are going BlogHer too and want to say hi in real life!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

She Rides!

It was a really good first attempt at riding without the training wheels.
She needs a little bit more practice.

p.s. The Daddy couldn't have been any cuter running alongside her.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Making Jam and Missing my Dad

Missing dead people is really different than I thought it was going to be.

The emotion isn't linear or rational or predictable. It is a sadness that sneaks up on you in totally unexpected and unanticipated ways. It approaches you from behind and knocks you down. Like when you are eating raspberry jam.

June 23rd marked one year since my Dad died. Strangely, the one-year anniversary wasn't particularly sad for me. On my birthday, I listened to a voice message from him that I saved from my birthday last year and even that didn't bring on the waterworks like I thought it would.

But when I walked out of the Tribune Building a few weeks ago with a contract in my hand, I thought, "He would love this." And that brought on a bad case of missing my Dad.

Yesterday I made raspberry jam. And out of no where the missing feeling appeared -- not because my Dad like jam or anything like that. In fact, I don't think he even ate jam or jelly.

The connection is a little bit attenuated so you'll have to follow along.

My Dad used to work with this woman named Phyllis. They were friends -- unlikely friends in many ways -- but they were real friends. Each December, they would go out to lunch to celebrate their birthdays and then Phyllis would help my Dad pick out a Christmas present for my Mom.

At my Dad's wake, I remember seeing Phyllis and thinking how devastated she seemed over the whole thing. She was going to miss him -- you could just see it.

I don't really know Phyllis that well -- but oh, do I know her jam. Each Christmas, she would send my Dad home with a bog box of homemade goodies, including these incredibly chocolatey brownies and jars of homemade raspberry jam.

I loved this jam. I would eat it on buttery toast. Or spread on a crumpet. Or just on a spoon. We would usually run out by late February and that was always a bummer.

When my Dad died, I wondered if she would still give us boxes of jam and brownies for Christmas. She did.

I run into Phyllis a few times each summer on Wednesday mornings at the Green City Market. She is usually hauling around entire flats of berries. She makes a lot of jam.

I don't think that Phyllis is particularly thrilled to see me coming at her on market mornings but I understand. She politely asks how my Mom is doing. I always want to ask her if she will keep making jam for my family, but I don't. She misses him too -- I can just tell.

Yesterday I bought raspberries from the market and spent the afternoon making jam and missing my Dad. It was sad -- but not in an entirely bad way.

I ate my homemade jam on a buttery English muffin this morning. I imagined Phyllis saying, "You got it just right. This is just like my jam."

I am going to make more.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Confessions of a Composter

I have been secretly composting for about two months now. Well, we've been vermicomposting for about four months actually. But our real compost bin has only been up and running for about two months. It's right behind this bush here.

I have been clandestine about the whole thing because when I announced that I wanted to start composting, I got a pretty negative reaction. Everything from "gross, you are going to have a stinky mess in the backyard" to "Caitlin, you are so weird."

In May, I loaded my kids up in the car and headed over to a city-sponsored event where Chicago residents could buy a simple, rodent-proof composting bin for $35 bucks (and I spent at least $25 buying compost for my garden this year).

The set up was pretty straightforward. Okay, actually I forgot to put the bottom on when I first set it up, but that was easily remedied. I collect fruit and veggie scraps under my sink in a little bin and dump it in my composter along with some yard waste every few days or so.

And you won't believe what is happening -- it's making compost. No yucky smells. No rat party. No bugs -- at least so far.

The whole process is really simple -- and I feel good about it. So do Ellie and Brendan. Last week, we were chopping up strawberries and Ellie admonished Brendan, "Not in the garbage, save the tops for the composter." That's got to be a good thing, right?

Here is where the magic happens.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Beginning of a Tomato Onslaught

So it's possible that I have overplanted. This delicious little guy has about two hundred friends of various colors and shapes that aren't too far behind him.

Anybody want to come over and teach me how to can tomatoes?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Scenes From Summer -- Part One

A splish-splashin' baby.

Cute-as-can-be cousins.


Walk Brendan. Walk Brendan. Walk Brendan.

Looking good.

Badminton 101.

Yes, our weekend was every bit as fun as it looks.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009