Saturday, May 31, 2008

Her Debut

The Southern Belles in waiting.

And more waiting.

Then she dazzled.

A beautiful ballerina (with flowers from her cousin Finn).

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Ballet Dancing Dilemma

Eleanor has been taking ballet classes for about a year now. She loves them. She is cute as can be in her ballet outfit. The whole thing has been delightful.

Until now. This Saturday is her first ballet recital and it just seems . . . so intense for a four-year-old ballerina.

Here is a run-down of the recital experience thus far. First, we bought the costume (a $75 Southern Belle get-up). Just wait -- I am sure I will be posting pictures. Then we bought the tickets for the entire supportive family to attend. Next was the hair and MAKE UP demonstration for the parents. Turns out, Ellie doesn't have enough hair for a proper ballerina bun, so they want me to buy a blond hair piece to attach to her pony tail. Doesn't that seem silly? In order to attempt the hair, I have already purchased gel, hairspray, and bobby pins. I am still on the hunt for a hair net and this fake hair piece thing that sounds totally gross. And make up? Really? I am inclined to say that I don't want her to wear make up, but then I wonder if I won't be making it into a bigger deal by not letting her have a little lip gloss. Then I bought the video for those who aren't able to attend but still want to catch the big debut. Wait, there is more.

Ellie and I have to be at the venue at 10:30 on Saturday morning for a dress rehearsal, then a hair fix up (which we will surely need). Parents are supposed to wait with the dancers and bring a packed lunch (pb and j for both of us). The show starts at 1:00 and Ellie's class goes on at 2:00. Then the dancers have to stay for the final bow which will take place around 3:00.

I am getting tired just thinking about it. What a long day! Is this even going to be fun for her? I am not sure I have it in me to be a stage Mom.

Am I crabby? Or is this nuts?

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Six Random Things About Me

My Chicago Mom Blog friend Cindy (check out her thoughtful blog here) tagged me to list six random things about myself. She actually tagged me about a month ago and I am just getting around to it now (with apologies for my tardiness). Here goes.

ONE: My favorite book is The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner. When I was dating my (now) husband, he bought me a first edition and I absolutely knew that I had to get him to marry me.

TWO: I am a little bit obsessed with grapefruits. I probably ate over one hundred grapefruits this past winter. I like grapefruit-scented candles, body scrub, cleaning supplies, dish soap -- pretty much whatever I can find.

THREE: Despite the fact that I am nearly thirty-two years old, I still have trouble telling my left hand from my right. I am serious. Those who have driven in a car with me can attest to this bizarre handicap.

FOUR: I have a container of powedered, sugary hot chocolate hidden in the back of one of my cabinets and I make myself a secret cup when my kids are napping. Addict.

FIVE: One of my favorite indulgences is the $7.99 bunch of oriental lilies from Trader Joe's. I put them in a vase next to my bed and the oh-so-lovely smell tricks me into thinking that I am waking up in a B&B in the south of France, heading downstairs for a breakfast of freshly-baked croissants.

SIX: I am the slowest runner on the face of the earth. Strangely slow. Always last in gym class slow. If my toddler got up a good head of steam, he could beat me in a foot race.

Now for the tricky part -- who to tag. I don't have too many blogging buddies and I have another tagging waiting for me to do later this week, so I am going to break the rules and only tag three people.

Christina at MamaNeena

Carrie at My Funny, Funny Family

Jen at the EcoChic UrbanOrganizer

Here are the rules ladies:

Link to the person that tagged you.

Post the rules on your blog.

Write six random things about yourself in a blog post.

Tag six (my amendment: tag however many people you want to) people.

Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their post.

Let the tagger know when your entry is posted.

Well, that was kind of fun!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Grow Garden, Grow!

My two little diggers (and avid worm collectors) and I have been busy getting our first official vegetable garden going. I think that we are finished planting because we are out of space. I would take a picture, but there isn't so much to see yet. Here is what we have going:

Mesculan Mix lettuce
Italian Parsley
Swiss Chard
Tomatoes (grape and big boy)
Green and Red Peppers
Habanero Peppers
Carrots (just starting to pop up from seed -- but looking promising)
Zucchini (still waiting for these to show some sign of . . . something)

Surely some of that will work out, don't you think? Happy weekend all.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Morning with the Mommy Bloggers

Thanks to my real-life mommy blogging friend, I had the opportunity to attend a panel and breakfast hosted by Maria Bailey (I know that you don't know who she is but trust me, the mommy bloggers do). Maria is at the forefront of helping companies access the "Mom Market." And she has brilliant ideas.

This most interesting panel was an opportunity for marketing and public relations folks to connect with mommy bloggers. I am definitely mulling over some of the discussion points. Right now, I don't review too many products (other than the occasional book) or do give-aways on my blog. Even though I receive a fair amount of pitches, very few of them seem to be a good fit for me. I am hesitant to use this space, which I intended to be about my time with my two little ones, to sing the praises of swim diapers in a way that would hardly be genuine. This blog has been a gateway to some great opportunities for me (more on my latest project coming soon!) and I am certainly open to all sorts other possibilities. I definitely recognize that there are lots of new opportunities for mamas like me that didn't exist even as recently as two or three years ago. So who knows? Exciting possibilities may await.

The best part of the morning was the rare chance to be in the company of some like-minded mamas. I don't know too many people who blog. Many, many of the people I do actually know think that my blogging is quite odd. Sometimes I even have a hard time articulating why I blog .

Listening to some other eloquent, thoughtful, and smart women talk about why they blog had me nodding my head in agreement. Blogging is a creative outlet, a social networking tool, and a therapy session all in one. Most importantly, blogging gives me a connected feeling -- an "I know and I understand" feeling. I felt lucky to be in the company of other mamas who "know and understand."

Speaking of lucky, I always seem to come away a winner at these mommy blogger events! At the Chicago Moms Blog Party in December, I walked out with a brand new Graco Swing. This time, I won a signed copy of Maria's new book (and it looks like an interesting read).

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Green City Market! The Green City Market!

This morning after dropping Ms. Eleanor at school, Brendan and I made our first trip of the season to my beloved Green City Market. And boy, did it deliver! Here is a little run down on how we spent our market time:

(1) We got Brendan registered as a member of the Sprouts Club, where he can taste a new food each week. When he gets eight punches on his membership card, he wins an apron. We got off to a rocky start when he threw his sample watercress on the ground and passed his cheese sample off to Mama (it was delicious). Better luck next week.

(2) Next, we purchased a habanero pepper plant for our vegetable garden. David has declared that all food would taste better if we added just a little bit of chilies or peppers so hopefully he will enjoy this surprise. This purchase officially qualifies me to join the (no doubt) quite small group of Chicagoans who are trying to grow things like swiss chard and habaneros in little city gardens. Certainly experimental.

(3) Crepe time. Brendan and I split a butter and sugar buckwheat crepe. I am considering asking for a crepe griddle for my birthday so I can get a crepe operation going for weekend breakfasts. I am confident that Brendan would definitely agree that it was worth the five minute wait where he stood next to the griddle, fork in hand, saying "cepe, cepe, cepe" over and over.

(4) We purchased the makings of an entirely "spring market" dinner: sunflower spouts, and french radishes to be combined with chives and baby lettuce from our own garden for a salad (with some gorgonzola or feta sprinkled on top). Plus, some Russian banana potatoes to roast and toss with butter and parsley. And we picked up a baguette from Bleeding Heart Bakery to serve warm alongside the salad. Doesn't that sound lovely and light?

An excellent first market of the summer.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A Good Day

Today was such a good day. Well, not for David who is at work on a Sunday morning, preparing for a trial.

But while he toils away, Ellie, Brendan and I had a lovely morning at the Museum of Science and Industry. Brendan loved the trains. Hell . . . I loved the trains. Ellie's favorite was the circus exhibit and she talked the whole way home about, "When Uncle Sam and Aunt Meg took me to the circus and Brendan wasn't invited . . . . blah, blah, blah."

The whole excursion was just pleasant from start to finish. I didn't bring a stroller so they were both on the loose -- but they stayed close to me and didn't have tantrums when it was time to leave. We sat together and ate our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and then we were off, big-eyed, to see more.

While visiting the "Main Street" exhibit, Ellie sauntered into the photo booth, grabbed the red hat and boa, and I couldn't say no to an over-priced, but-oh-so-cute picture. Here they are in their stage coach.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Making Our Summer List

Ellie and I started making a list of all of the things we want to do together this summer. Here is what we have so far.

Ellie's List:
(1) Practice somersaults
(2) Go on nature hikes to "hunt" birds and butterflies
(3) Eat dinner at Aunt Meg's house and throw a ball to Penny the dog after dessert

Mama's List:
(1) Pick strawberries from a farm on Father's Day
(2) Catch a concert on the lawn at Millennium Park
(3) Lots and lots of picnic lunches

Certainly more to come on both lists.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Her New Project

Inspired by this lovely book (which deserves its own post entirely) and Grandma's beautiful needlepoint work, Ellie has started an embroidery project. It is coming along nicely, don't you think?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

The Artist

I love these pictures of Eleanor working on Mother's Day birdhouses for her grandmamas. She works with such focus and purpose. Her creations are always made with a recipient in mind (I think this one went to Nana).

Friday, May 9, 2008

Me! In Going Places Magazine!

Hey Chicago Moms, are you starting to make your summer plans? Pick up the latest copy of Going Places Magazine, which contains an exhaustive listing of local, family-oriented activities for the next few months.

I have three little articles in the summer issue. Check out my story about planning a day trip to a pick-your-own farm. Read about good places to get gelato in the city (and then treat yourself!). And learn about family-friendly activities at the Green City Market (oh, how I love it so).
Happy weekend.

I Have Too Many Strollers (And Other Things I Learned From Parenting, Inc.)

I had the opportunity to take a look at Pamela Paul's new book, Parenting, Inc.: How We Are Sold on $800 Strollers, Fetal Education, Baby Sign Language, Sleeping Coaches, Toddler Couture, and Diaper Wipe Warmers — and What It Means for Our Children. Paul tackles the ever-rising cost of parenting and how moms and dads get sold on the idea that we MUST buy all sorts of things for our baby (like diaper wipe warmers and nursery video surveillance). Worst of all, she suggests that this buy, buy, buy, more, more, more culture is bad for our kids.

When I finished the first chapter, "Gearing Up," which exhaustively details all of the products and services parents purchase, I thought to myself, "Well, this is obvious enough. Of course babies don't need all of these things. What kind of idiot parents fall for the idea that you actually need of of this stuff?"

Then I thought about my own Babies-R-Us registry (largely fulfilled), my baby sign language book, and my two-car garage that barely fits our one car because of the baby clothes (over twenty bins organized by boy/girl and size), beautiful (but useless) wicker bassinet, bouncey seat, baby bathtub, exersaucer, and training potty that I store in there. And then I thought about my stroller collection . . . and that is when I concluded that I am an one of those dumb parents.

As evidence of my idiocy, I am going to share my stroller saga (if my husband actually read this blog, right now he would be saying, "Oh my God, she is NOT going to write about this."). Here I go. When I was pregnant with my daughter in 2004, I had no idea what baby stuff I needed. So I ended up registering for this monstrosity of a buggy from Peg Perego. It was huge. I could never figure out how to really maneuver it so I never used it. Someone also gave me a cheap little umbrella stroller which worked better -- but then it broke. By this time, I had baby number two on the way (and this is where things got out of hand). I purchased a new McClaren Volo umbrella stroller (love it, still use it). I also purchased a McClaren Easy Traveller for my infant car seat to snap into. Then I also bought a McClaren Twin Techno double stroller for when I was out and about with both of my little ones (just used it this morning, don't know what I would do without it).

That's right. I bought three strollers in one day -- which brought me to a total of five strollers in under two years (when you count the broken umbrella stroller and the Peg Perego which I gave away to some unsuspecting person). I mean, it is down-right silly.

I think that my stroller saga really illustrates one of the book's best points: the whole psychology of buying things for your kids is complicated. Companies market to parents in savvy ways. New parents are fearful because they have no idea what they are doing -- making them susceptible to every suggestion. Throw in the crazy love that you feel for the new little creature in your house, and it is no wonder that you will buy just about anything that someone tells you your baby needs (at least, I will).

Paul makes some good points about why parents overpurchase for our babes and how that translates into some potentially negative consequences for our spoiled tykes. Do I have too much baby stuff? Absolutely. Are my kids happy, healthy, and loved? You bet they are. But I am certainly not adding this to my ever-growing list of parenting-related things to feel guilty about.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Brendan Hearts Diego

On average, Brendan says, "Watch Diego" about twenty times a day. On occasion, I will acquiesce and turn on the only Go Diego Go! episode available on On Demand. Brendan sits totally riveted to the tale of a tapir (whatever that is) riding a train.

This morning the Diego infatuation went to the next level. While changing Brendan's diaper, I was saying (well, singing really), "I love you. I love you." And Brendan's response? "I wuv Diego." Sigh.

Monday, May 5, 2008

On Celebrating Mummies and Filling Tummies

Here are a few links to some of my other little projects.

Visit the Chicago Moms Blog to chat about great local places to buy organic food (and please do add any suggestions).

I also have a new (easy, easy) craft in the May issue of Chicago Parent.

Now back to my yard. :)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

You Know What Are Really Tasty? Lentils

Really, they are. I think lentils make a lot of people nervous. But they can be really good.

I made these the other night and served them alongside grilled chicken. I started with organic, french green lentils (they sound snobby, don't they?). Then I kind of, sort of followed this recipe. I was out of leeks and I added some Dijon mustard and white wine. I also skipped the red wine vinegar at the end because it is too harsh for me. If you attempt this, be generous with the chicken stock so the lentils develop a tasty little sauce and don't dry out.
Good and good for you.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Ellie Can Swim! (with Photographic Evidence)

At Grandpa's urging, Ellie put her face in the water and really swam for the first time.