Thursday, July 31, 2008

Me on NBC

So in a pretty unexpected turn of events, I have somehow signed on to be on the NBC Chicago Sunday Morning News Show during the 9:00 hour this coming Sunday. Gulp.

What could I possibly be doing on the local news, you ask? Good question. I am going on to promote Being Savvy: Chicago by talking about "Dinner Table Destinations: China and the Olympics." The segment is about using the Summer Olympic games in Beijing as an opportunity to talk to your little ones about Chinese culture and customs as well as the tradition of the Olympic games. I am going to be talking about kid-friendly recipes, activities and crafts.

I am sure that, regardless of how the experience goes, I will have lots to tell you on Monday.

Wish me luck.

Lending Mom a Helping Hand

You won't believe who has been giving me some help with the kids lately? Thomas the Train. Let me say right off the bat that I don't exactly understand the Thomas the Train fascination that my kids seem to have. But, who am I to judge -- I like a lot of weird things too.

I had the chance to check out a new Thomas the Train computer game called "Special Delivery." I couldn't pass the opportunity up because I knew that Ellie and Brendan would love to try it out.

Boy, was I right. Ellie is able to navigate the whole game entirely by herself (frankly she is pretty good at the parts that I found slightly confusing). I don't mean to sound like an old person, but I can't believe how good young kids are with computers. Brendan stares at the screen while Ellie plays, captivated by the impressive graphics and shouting "There's Thomas" every time he appears.

Now, don't get me wrong. I am not advocating plopping kids down in front of the computer to play games for hours. But as all busy Moms know, sometimes kids need to play independently while you make dinner, clean up, work, etc. And I think that a half an hour playing a computer game that teaches spacial and math skills beats watching some totally mindless cartoon.

So thanks Thomas. We are glad to have you.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hey Mom, I'm in Here

I felt my baby move for the first time yesterday.

I felt a distinct thump, thump. Not a wiggle or squiggle or rumble or rolling feeling. No, I got a very clear "Hello there" thump.

I like that my new little guy is demanding a small share of the attention already.

Hello right back to you baby.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Things That Make My Heart Go Pitter Patter

If you head down to the Green City Market this Saturday morning, you can shop the market with Alice Waters as she chooses items for the menu for a benefit she is having in honor of Michelle Obama on Monday. Apparently, you just get to follow her around (presumably at a distance that doesn't make her feel like she is being stalked).

So you get to see Alice in action, plus she will sign books for you (my copy of The Art of Simple Food is already tattered and worn from use). As a bonus, maybe you could figure out how one gets herself invited to benefits in honor of Michelle Obama.

I don't mean to expose the true depths of my dorkiness . . . but does this sound like Saturday morning bliss or what?

Unfortunately, I am not going to be there because I am pretty sure that Alice doesn't want two little people following her around, sampling from every single pint of raspberries and blueberries they pass by while loudly demanding another butter and sugar crepe. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Shellin' Peas

This is a perfect job for little hands. Now, if only I could get anyone to actually eat them!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Walking With Dinosaurs

I have a giveaway going on at Being Savvy: Chicago that I want to tell you about (because it is pretty amazing).

Walking with Dinosaurs is a live a show coming to the United Center from August 7th through the 17th. The show features life-size dinos. Pretty cool. I have FOUR TICKETS to give away to see the show. Check out the post and enter by sending me an email at

If you don't win the tickets, I also have information on how to buy discounted tickets. Check it out and good luck!

Ellie Rocking Out at the Justin Roberts Concert

The girl has some serious moves.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sipping Something New At Starbucks (Plus a Giveaway!)

Last week a PR person for Starbucks emailed me to see if I'd like to try their new drink -- the Vivanno. It took me about ten seconds to respond that yes, I would love to sample their new offering (I mean what busy Mommy would turn down free Starbucks?).

Today I sampled the Vivanno. And it was good. Really good. Here is the best part: this drink is low in calories and good for you.

The Vivanno comes in two flavors: Chocolate Banana (270 calories) and Orange Mango Banana (250 calories). The drink contains a whole banana mixed with whey protein, fiber powder, 2 percent milk and Naked fruit juice (in the orange mango banana only) - all good stuff. I tried the Orange Mango Banana and it was an absolutely delicious treat on an incredibly hot summer day. This is also a perfect non-caffeinated Starbuck's option for pregnant gals like me.

So why am I telling you all this, you wonder? Because Starbucks gave me gift cards to give to TWO readers so you can try the Vivanno for yourself. Free Starbucks people.

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post with your first name and email address by midnight (central time) on Monday, July 21st. I will randomly pick two winners and contact you for your mailing address. By the end of next week, you too could be having a free Vivanno. Note: don't forget to leave your email address because Blogger doesn't give me any other way to respond to your comments.

Thank you Starbucks!

And the winners are . . . . Anne-Marie K. and Eleanor Q. Enjoy your treat girls.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

So Little Time . . . So Much To Eat

We are now in the midst of the best eating season of the whole year. Yippee!

Wild salmon and halibut are easy to come by. I pulled the first ripe Roma grape tomato off my plants and popped it directly into my mouth yesterday (it was all that I hoped it would be).

Although I am saddened by the end of strawberry season in the Midwest, I am drowning my sorrows in bowls of tart cherries, perfect blueberries and delicious raspberries. I was feeling exuberant and bought eight peaches at the farmer's market today.

Fresh corn is here -- which means corn salsa, corn fritters, corn sauteed in butter with basil.

I made zucchini bread last night because I had two little guys languishing in the fridge who were begging to be transformed into something delicious. We ate it for lunch today alongside a farmer's market salad (lettuce, tomatoes, red pepper, cucumber and feta).

My CSA box this week contains fennel, gem lettuce, baby new potatoes (yum), swiss chard, and snap peas (amongst other things).

Here is a short list of what I am planning to make in the next few weeks: peach and raspberry shortcake with whipped cream, breakfast crepes with fresh berries and Tomato Mountain Strawberry/Raspberry Preserves, a summer cobb salad, pesto pasta with grilled shrimp, grilled salmon with brown butter sauce, herb popovers, caprese salad (drizzled with aged balsamic vinegar), and gazpacho. I will also probably have to roast a pork shoulder (we are addicted) and make shredded pork tacos.

I am going to be such a big, fat (but deliriously happy) pregnant lady. Happy eating!

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Weekend In Wisconsin

Swimming. Swimming. Swimming.

Bye Bye Baby Pool

Today, at Holstein Park Pool in Bucktown:

Eleanor: "No way. I am not going to go in that baby pool. It is for babies and I am a swimming mermaid princess who doesn't even need a swim vest. Uh-uh. No way. And I bet if you ask Brendan, he would want to swim in the big pool too because he likes to be a big boy and not a baby."

Brendan: "Yeah, big."

So I guess that's it for the baby pool for us for right now. On to bigger and better (and deeper) things.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Understanding Your Moods When You're Expecting: A Review

When I came across the opportunity to review Understanding Your Moods When You Are Expecting: Emotions, Mental Health, and Happiness - Before, During, and After Pregnancy by Lucy J. Puryear M.D., I thought, "I might as well have a look. I am pregnant and crabby. Maybe I will learn something."

But here is the problem: after reading through the book, I don't feel like I have learned a whole lot. Now, that's not to say that this book doesn't have lots to offer women in different situations. But this book wasn't terribly helpful for me.

Puryear sets out to address women's emotions during all three semesters of pregnancy, birth, postpartum and beyond. She also addresses the very serious issues of postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis (She was involved in the Andrea Yates case in Texas). She concludes by making some insightful suggestions into how the health care system needs to better address women's mental health needs.

My initial impression of the information in the book was that is was obvious -- too obvious. For example, Puryear talks about the fact that women who are pregnant and parenting other small children can feel tired and overwhelmed. No kidding. She also discusses how partners may be nervous about how a child will change their relationship. Again, this just seems . . . really obvious.

The part of the book that discusses serious mental health problems offers a more substantial analysis -- but that information doesn't really apply to me. For those new moms who are struggling with depression, I think that this book would be a real asset because Puryear approaches the topic in a non-judgmental and supportive manner.

After reflecting on the book as a whole, I have come to a slightly different conclusion than I did initially. Much of the information seemed obvious to me - and I think that is because this is my third pregnancy. However, when I was expecting my first child, I think that I would have been glad to have some of the information that Puryear is offering. For example, no one (I mean no one) told me that breastfeeding hurt (even when you were doing it right). I appreciate Puryear's attempt to break "the conspiracy of silence" amongst women. She attempts to tell it like it is -- and the book certainly succeeds at that.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Things You Don't Want to Hear

The Whole Foods at North and Kingsbury was shut down yesterday because of a mouse infestation.

I shopped there last Sunday. I now have visions of mice scampering all over my produce.

This is the type of news that can really turn a pregnant girl's tummy. Yucko.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

My Other Gig

Hi friends. I am going to shamelessly promote one of my other projects for a moment.

Chicago Mamas, have you been over to check out Being Savvy: Chicago yet? I post every day about local opportunities for educational and enrichment activities for little ones. Go on over and have a read. This week I am working on a three-day itinerary for out-of-towners heading to Chicago for their summer vacation (with little ones in tow, of course).

If you have a minute, could you help a girl out and leave a comment on a post -- any post? (It feels like I am talking to myself over there sometimes!)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Our Summer Vacation: A Recap

We have been in Western Pennsylvania for the past week -- relaxing and recovering from a very busy and emotional June. This vacation was full of firsts for us -- mostly good and a few not so good. Here are the highlights (and lowlights).

The Good.

Eleanor is now a true swimmer. After hanging around a nine-year-old for about fifteen minutes or so, she decided that she was done wearing her swim vest -- forever. Within minutes of shedding the vest, she learned to swim the width of Grandma's pool unassisted. Shortly after that, she was competently executing underwater somersaults. Somersaults. Pretty remarkable. She is so pissed that she can't quite figure out how to do an underwater handstand. Here she is mid-somersault.

Both Ellie and Brendan also had their first boat ride ever. While aboard the boat, Brendan was also able to see trains and trucks driving over bridges -- which was a real plus for a transportation-obsessed little man.

Brendan also got on a horse for the first time. All week long, he said, "Let's go ride Bubbles." When the time came to actually hop on, he was a little hesitant. With a little pushing, he did get on and loved his first experience. "Walk on Bubbles. Walk on. Good girl." We now have two budding equestrians in the house.

The Not So Good.
Brendan got stung by a wasp. This episode was one of the saddest things I have ever seen. He cried like crazy. His whole foot turned red and swollen. And he limped around for the rest of the day saying, "Oww, it hurts. A wadybug sting me foot."

On another note, my pregnancy weight gain seems to be well underway. I have a doctor's appointment on this week and I am going to have to step on the scale backwards to avoid confronting the evidence of the profiteroles, fudge, and Starbuck's blended lemonades that I consumed all week. Time to dig out the maternity clothes.

A good trip. Good to be home. Now on to some more summer fun.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Things of Beauty

I can't believe that all of this magic is happening right in my own backyard.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

CSAs . . . Again

So I am a little bit obsessed with CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture). Way back in the fall, I wrote about it here. In the spring, I wrote about my CSA love affair here. And in the July issue of Chicago Parent, I am at it again. Check out my CSA article here .

We actually got our first CSA box from Homegrown Wisconsin a few weeks ago. I took a picture of it so I could show you (Who photographs their produce? So weird.) This box contained homemade pear butter, mushrooms, two varieties of lettuce, asparagus, french breakfast radishes, rhubarb, mint, spinach, chives, and green garlic. I will confess that I ended up throwing the green garlic away because I never quite figured out how to use it -- but everything else was yummy.

So much good summer and fall food to look forward to!