Friday, June 29, 2007


Help me through my misery, folks.

Matt and I joked all week about the iPhone, mainly due to his TOTAL OBSESSION with it. It was a constant topic of conversation and every time I walked into the home office I found him IM'ing with friends around the country about it.

Mid-week it occurred to me that I really need to invest in something for my business because I really didn't do so last quarter and had to shell out a lot for taxes, which was painful. I'd been considering a new color copier/printer and some expensive software I could use. Not that I really needed these things right this minute, but they'd be helpful and would offset some income.

Well, hmmm. Doesn't the iPhone fall under that category, too?

So I started to listen to his blather about it.

I had no idea!

This evening I watched the video and read the reviews on this amazing little device, and fell head over heels. There was no doubt I wanted one. If you are rolling your eyes right now, you really ought to see this phone/iPod/browser/organizer/camera (here's the video) because even if it's not your thing, you need to see what it's like. As Matt said, the future is here.

I was eventually ready to purchase one for my business this weekend, and was trying not to lose my shit over it as I tried to lie quietly while the boys went to sleep. (Did I mention that when I make up my mind, there's no waiting allowed?)

When I came upstairs, I called my current carrier, T-Mobile, which of course doesn't carry service for the iPhone (only AT&T does, which is unfortunate for so many reasons). Turns out I didn't switch plans when we moved here - I sort of hoped I'd started a new plan last July when we moved here. No dice. My plan doesn't end until June 10, 2008. The already pricey iPhone just became $200 more expensive for me.

(If anyone out there owes me $200, this would really be the perfect time to ante up.)

Matt is convinced we can think of a way to either unload (for profit) my cell phone plan or think of a legitimate reason my business needs it as a cheaper 2nd line. Personally, I doubt it, but if you have any ideas, feel free to pass them along.

But if my cell phone fell into the lake tomorrow, that would really be a shame.

Wouldn't it?

Pit Stop

It was 5:30 pm on a rainy Wednesday night when I entered the bar with my 6-year old. Yes, you heard me right: bar. Okay, so we didn't share a beer over the Cubs game, although I hope we will someday. The truth was, the minute we walked in and my worried eyes met the bartenders', she said quickly, "Around this corner, second door on the right!" and my son and I both laughed. And then ran in the direction she was pointing.

To continue reading this post, click here...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Check Out these Posts

You will notice (and if you won't, then I am here to help you notice) that on the left sidebar of this blog there is a change. (Gasp!)

Lo and behold, where some of you used to click over to one of my "regular reads" you will find instead a little list of posts I've enjoyed recently out there in the blogosphere. I am following a few more blogs these days (although not nearly as many as some of my friends...) and I can't list them all over there. So I'll try to keep it updated with a little variety from some of my current faves.


Mawy Pappas

We are watching a portion of Mary Poppins (or "Mawy Pappas", as Lyle calls her) each evening and let me tell you: more old fashioned, wholesome, hilarious, musical family fun cannot be found anywhere. Even Matt, who somehow made it through childhood without this movie and was a doubting Thomas when I first put it on last night (granted, the beginning is wretchedly dumb and boring), is loving it.

The four of us could watch the "Spoonful of Sugar" scene over and over without tiring of it.

You'd have to see the expressions on my kids' faces to believe them.

It. totally. rules.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Classics

I am all about kids' classic movies this summer. I suppose it's because I feel that Baxter is finally ready to handle them. Plus, sometimes he's around now when Lyle's napping and - although he is supposed to do homework every day all summer (but that's another post entirely) - we can watch something fun together as a summer treat.

So far, we've seen Finding Nemo (one of my favorite movies) and A Bug's Life - okay, these aren't old enough to be classics, I know, but they are feature films! - and this week I introduced him to Peter Pan. He was really nervous about seeing it, claiming it would be too scary, but after a Backyardigans break to consider it, decided he was willing to try. (Only at my house...) He adored it, and the sharp, genuine intake of breath when Wendy, John, and Michael flew for the first time was incredible, and brought me right back to my childhood. Lyle saw part of it too, and, being a less fearful dude, loved it. I've heard a few people refer to Mary Poppins in the past couple weeks, so I picked that one up today. I'm really looking forward to seeing it, myself!

Previously, he's seen Charlotte's Web (old cartoon version), Lassie (new version in theater), parts of The Wizard of Oz, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He's seen Snow White and The Lion King from the Disney aisle.

What do you suggest? What were your favorites that you're looking forward to sharing with your children? I'm looking for more good ideas!

Potty Boot Camp

Matt and I had two choices about when to give Lyle the final push into potty training: a) next week; or b) the last two weeks in August.

These are my two summer vacations from work, and therefore, the only real options for Lyle to be running around the house bare-bottomed with an adult chasing behind with the paper towels and vinegar. Part of me wanted to do it at the end of August because I'll be around for two full weeks and I just hate that we have to push him into it at all, so I'd love to give him as much time for readiness as possible. But, practically speaking, we felt it would be better to do it next week so that he'll be as well-practiced as possible when he heads off to nursery school in his little Lightning McQueen undies in mid-September. So we decided last night: next week it is.

Today I found myself at home with Lyle all morning, waiting for a service guy to come work on the car windshield. A rare long stretch at home on our own. I'm not sure how it started, now that I think about it - maybe he said the word "underwear"? - but by 9 AM he was running around bare bottomed with me chasing after him with the paper towels and vinegar. I hauled the portable potty from room to room with us, a constant reminder that - should the need arise - success was just a few steps away. I got an M & M every time I successfully used the toilet (which, I might add proudly, was every time, folks!) and he managed to get a couple as well, with only one accident just after lunch. He was so sad about the wet undies that he cried. I matter-of-factly washed him and the white rug in the sun room and said nothing about it.

Matt pointed out at lunch that this was so ME, to decide to do it next week and then start this morning instead. This is true. When I get inspired, I'm not so big on waiting. I remember the day I was at home with Baxter, age 22 months, and decided that soon he should switch to the bed from the crib. I was excited! Nap time that day found him snoozing happily on the futon I had lugged into his room and there he remained. I have had multiple experiences in my life when I decided to get a drastically different hair cut and there was not going to be any waiting - if my stylist wasn't free to do it within 24 hours I went to someone else. I really hate the hemming and hawing of big decisions and prefer to get beyond them quickly. Luckily, Matt's the same way: you should see how fast we pick out furniture. (And houses, come to think of it...)

So, yes, this type of compulsive decision-making is "me". But it hasn't failed me yet.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Chicago Tribune

There's an article in the Chicago Tribune today about the Chicago Mom's Blog, a collective group that I am a part of. Check it out!

Cross the Street at Your Own Risk

It's true what they say: Chicagoans are nice. They stop and let kids pet their dogs, and they often say "hello" when you pass them on the sidewalk. Store clerks are friendlier than in the East or West Coast cities I'm familiar with. Chicagoans will quite often go the extra mile for a perfect stranger. I became very aware of it before we even moved here from San Francisco, and it was a happy discovery. People here seem to value community more than I ever saw in the Bay Area, where things felt a lot more "every man for himself". I love it.

However...get these people in their cars, and it's as if they undergo an extreme personality transformation.

(To continue reading, come on over to the Chicago Moms Blog...)

Sunday, June 24, 2007


I was startled to realize that today may have been the anniversary of our move from San Francisco. I had to go back to Show Me Another City to verify this, and sure enough, it is. Wow.

A year ago, I was down at my parents' house with the boys after an exhausting day, and Matt was still at the old apartment on 16th Avenue, helping the movers get that crap out of there. They still had a couple hours to go, since they didn't wrap up until after midnight.

We weren't meant to move that day, they were just scheduled to pack the fragile items on June 24th and we thought we had a couple more days to organize our things. But that woman was in a hurry, and before we knew it we were racing to clean out the fridge and pack our suitcases for the flight to Chicago before they loaded our very dressers onto the truck.

No chance to say good-bye to neighbors, no chance to do anything gradually. But we allowed it to happen that way in part because she gave us a big discount on the cost if we let them do it early but also, I think, because the leaving was so painful that we just wanted it done. Time to go.

Like so many things in the past year, things didn't happen the way they were supposed to that day. But I've learned that this isn't necessarily a bad thing, and that if I can just go with it, things turn out surprisingly well.

The year has been an incredible one. I can't quite believe it has only been a year, actually, because Chicago feels like home.

But I bet I'll always think of San Francisco - with a pang of nostalgia akin to a break-up - right around this time of year.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Something to Think About

A blogger who goes by the pseudonym Mrs. Chicken has written an excellent, thought-provoking piece here. It has to do with her choice of anonymity as a blog writer and touches on many thoughts I've had in the past year about the blogging phenomenon...without a doubt, reading strangers' blogs and commenting on them creates a certain online community in our society of isolation, but I think a lot about the incomplete picture it gives us. I feel firmly grounded in other, real-life communities, and am therefore comfortable with this, but if that were not the case, I know I'd be left feeling very dissatisfied.

I know that I, for one, am limited in what I share here because I did not start out anonymously and over time have readers among my personal friends, family, and even clients and colleagues. This is fine with me, I have invited my readers, but it's true that it shapes what I say. And yet, even the anonymous Mrs. Chicken, who shares some pretty intense and personal highs and lows, feels that we don't know her, and that many of us wouldn't like her if we were to meet her in person. (Which I seriously doubt, but that's not the point...)

What does the surge in use of this technology - especially among parents - say about our culture? What do you think our society will be saying about this blogging phenomenon in 10 years? 20 years?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Solstice

More here.

On Naming Babies

Okay, so the Internets may be a brain drain, but sometimes they're a damn funny brain drain. Check out this post on Chicago Moms Blog, will ya? A couple in New Zealand tried to name their newborn "4real" (swear to God) and were blocked by authorities who say they don't allow names with numerals. Oookay, that's weird, but not as weird as trying to name your child 4real. And I'm not going to tell you their reason, but it's a good one, so read here.

Cripes, if that were how we chose our firstborn's name, he'd be Holyshit! Gordon.

I just can't stop laughing. The Internets are back in my good graces tonight.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

They're Letting Anyone Have a Blog These Days

I love the Internets as much as the next person (and probably more than the person after him), but it can be a real brain drain. Take this evening, for example. I'm tired and should've gone to bed long ago. However, I stopped in at my site meter before closing the computer for the night, because I find it endlessly fascinating. I may have mentioned this before.

Well, so there's this phenomenon that maybe some of you more tech savvy types can explain to me. Somehow, on occasion, I get someone on my blog who, according to the site meter, has linked over from someone else's blog - one I don't recognize. Of course, I must investigate! Why go to bed when there's a mystery to solve!

So tonight I find myself on a blog that I will not link to because doing so would be just plain mean - too mean even for me - but let me just say it's awful. Terrible, horrible, no good very bad writing, and there's a photo of her unfortunate-looking dog leaping out of the banner at the top of the page. (You know, they let anyone have a blog these days; not like the test we had to take to prove that we're Super Cool Hipsters back in '05...) So this woman's got a blog roll that consists of other couples listed by their names (The Smiths, The Whiteys, The Honkeys, The Conservatives - you get the idea) and - this is where the brain drain problem becomes that much more serious - I am compelled to check some of them out. It's like being drawn to a train wreck. Yup, more young couples with photos of their dogs leaping out of their blogs, photos of their unborn children's nurseries, and stories about life in small-town Missouri. Most had Bible quotes all over the place, including in the banner (under the dog picture, usually). The very best had a Father's Day post written to her husband as if by their dog.

I'm sorry. I know you pet lovers out there will hate me for this, but that is just completely absurd! Let me preface this by saying that I have never had a pet because my family was allergic to everything. So I totally cannot relate. I do like dogs and think maybe we'll get one someday when the boys have left home, but I'm not big into animals in general. However. A pet is not a baby. I wish my babies could have run outside and taken care of their business in the back yard, but they could not. I have never been able to pour some food into a bowl on the floor and call it dinner. I couldn't leave my babies at a kennel for a week when I went on a vacation. Heck, I can't even afford a vacation, which is probably the most obvious indication that I have a child or two rather than a pet!

Oh, those blogs, they did me in. And there was certainly no link over to my blog there, so I have no earthly idea how someone got to me from there. All I know is that it frightened me, just as I'm certain that stranger felt he or she had landed on a distant planet upon arriving here. It served as a reminder of where those people are who voted for George Bush - twice! - and I could not sleep until I'd gotten it off my chest tonight. I guess it was in God's dog's hands.

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream About Summer

At the first grade picnic last week, the kids were joyful; ecstatic. There was baseball, tug-of-war (boys against the girls), a playground, bubbles, snacks, and no more school. There was a long summer of fun ahead of them.

At the first grade picnic last week, the moms were pale; worried. "Inside, I'm weeping," said one mom, "all this school craziness is easier than having all of them home together all summer." A friend confided that she and a friend go out for a cocktail after drop-off on the first day of school each year, to celebrate the end of summer and a return to sanity.

It's not that we don't all love summer. This season is certainly more traditional here in Chicago than it was in San Francisco: warm, sunny days, Popsicles, staying up late in a friend's backyard with fireflies flashing and darting around us, a lake to swim in every day. But after only a few days, I know what they mean.

This summer, now that Lyle is really old enough to be in the mix with Baxter - a real kid, not a toddler anymore - there are certainly a lot of laughs, but there is a LOT more fighting. All. the. time.

"Mommy, tell Lyle to stop sitting on my head! Oooowwwww, Lyle, STOP IT!!"

"Baxter, you can't do that! Don't punch me, that's too rough!!"

"I can read this book - it's mine! Mommy, tell Lyle I can read my own Pokemon book! Ly-le! Get. off. of. me!!"

Holy moly.

The thing is, in between the screaming (and I do mean screaming), there is raucous laughter. Nonsense talk. Incessant giggles over new found phrases like, "Who just cut the cheese?!" which gets repeated (of course) by one's little brother, often slightly incorrectly, making it that much funnier. Little puppy dogs wrestling on the floor. Reading together.

But, oh, the fighting. It's enough to make me start screaming myself.

I am so grateful that Baxter will be in day camp at the YMCA for 6 week-long sessions throughout the summer, and especially happy that this will start next week. I said as much to our babysitter on Monday morning, hoping it was some consolation when the boys were literally bouncing off the walls at 8 AM and needed to be taken to a playground that second before the house imploded.

"But Lyle will really miss him," she said sadly. And I know she's right. It's just that I personally will revel in the return to quiet in this house during those weeks when I'm back to having just one child in the house most of the time.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

For Dad

He drove the car along the windy dirt back roads of Connecticut with me every Saturday morning for who knows how many months or years. Out to the big white clapboard farmhouse in the small country town of Moodus, home of a talented music teacher. I say talented not because she was able to make a strong musician out of me (she wasn't a miracle worker, after all), but because she steered me from the violin to the viola and taught me well enough to allow me to join a chamber group and a youth orchestra, both of which I adored. I stood with my viola in the old musty practice room with Connie - usually hoping against hope that it wouldn't be obvious just how inadequately I had practiced that week - while Dad hiked around the large pastoral property or sat in the ancient house where the intellectual sounds of NPR drifted from the kitchen.

I have a clear memory of sitting in the car with my father and can even see certain intersections or curves in the road; a composite of scores of such drives. I don't remember us talking about much of anything. Dad usually had some music playing, whatever he was into at the time, and I'm sure there was some conversation but not much. In my memory of these drives, it was a comfortable quiet.

We didn't get to spend too much time together when I was growing up; my father was busy with his work and frequently on business trips during the week. But during our Saturday ritual of driving out to my music lesson together, I had him all to myself for a little while. I think I knew that if I needed to say something, I could.

I haven't had time like that with my father again until this year. The day after I arrived in California last Christmas, Dad and I drove up to Stanford together from Pacific Grove for a test he needed. He had been diagnosed with cancer the week before, and first told me this on the drive to their house from the airport. So there we were again, in the car, my Dad driving and some of his favorite music playing. There was a lot more conversation this time, lots more detail and questions about his condition and options for treatment; his work; my work; the kids; my life in Chicago. But there was still plenty of comfortable quiet. We spent about 4 hours on our own together that day, for the first time in decades.

I was able to spend more time alone with my Dad last month. On the Friday night after surgery, my mother's cold kept her home from the hospital. I went in to the hospital that evening to watch "Washington Week in Review" with him, a ritual he and my mother share on Friday nights. We sat in the chilly hospital room, attempting to ignore the nonsense from the patient in the next bed, tolerating the interruptions from the nurse, and watched quietly together.

How lucky I am that my father's cancer was caught early and treated well. I had no idea until this year how much I value sitting quietly with my Dad, not saying much of anything.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. I'm counting my blessings today.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Staying Put

We are just a week away from the anniversary of our move to Chicago. Not that we'll have a toast with champagne or anything (although now I must ask myself: Why not?), but I am very aware of the presence of it.

On Wednesday Matt and I finally went back to Fletcher St., the rental house we moved into here last summer, and cleaned out the last of our stuff. It was all headed for donation or to be sold, and we weren't in a big hurry to deal with it. But our lease ends in two weeks, so it was time. Walking into that empty house on a hot summery day with Matt brought back a flood of moving day memories, and it was striking how I could feel so different about a place just a year later. Last June it was full of promise, the beginning of a new life after so many awful good-byes. This week all I saw was a very small space with about a hundred things I would change if it were mine; it was so unattractive to me after being in our new home for a few months. And of course it carries the weighty disappointment of its unexpectedly short-term use. [For the record, that place is still not sold. It's been nearly a year. They've had to rent it out again, irony of all ironies; in other words, we would have been able to stay another year in the end. But how lucky we are that it all worked out the way it did or we never would've been in our own beautiful home right now!]

The closer we got to Baxter's school this morning, the gladder I was that I was wearing sunglasses. I'm sure neither he nor the other first grader I was driving to school would have understood my teary eyes. One year ago I was a blubbering disaster, trying to say good-bye to his kindergarten teacher. I cried an awful lot a year ago, but standing on that playground trying to say some coherent words of thanks while surrounded by all the nice parents and kids? Let's just say it wasn't pretty. Of course we were only a week away from turning our lives upside down and leaving San Francisco. I can still see the look of pure pity on that teacher's face, and when she sent me an email a few months ago I could still hear it in her words. After a performance like that, it's hard to convince someone that we're really all right.

So as we approached school this morning, when I least expected it, that day and those weeks came crashing down on me, and I felt all those raw good-byes all over again. By the time we rounded the corner of Barry Avenue I was in dire need of the squashed tissue box on the floor of the back seat. But the difference this year is that these were simultaneously tears of gratitude - for watching my son go bounding off with his bright red LL Bean backpack alongside a friend onto a playground that I expect him to be playing on for seven more years, where we expect to send Lyle for 9 years. Grateful tears for stability, for choosing the right city for us, for being in a home of our own, and for finding a really good school for our kids. Tears for not having to say good-bye to the ocean, the hills, the eucalyptus trees, and Stow Lake this year. For not leaving behind an entire new set of school friends and all of our old dear friends. For not having to extricate ourselves from family again this year.

This year we can be grateful for just staying put.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

He's That Kid

I am somewhat alarmed that my younger son is going to be heading to a sweet little co-op nursery school this fall. No, not because he's not ready, it's not that. It's not as if I am unprepared to see him start his first school experience, either. It's not even the fact that somehow we have to potty train him this summer.

It's because he, well, acts like a second child.

To continue reading this post, head on over here to the Chicago Mom's Blog...

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Last Day of School

Sometimes, being in this new city still feels like being in another country.

I knew that today was the last full day of school but had been thinking of Friday as the "last day". I had originally believed it to be a full day but recently saw "half day" on some district document. Now, this makes total sense, for a last day to be a half day, and it seems typical to me. The weird thing is, they have Wednesday and Thursday completely off first -- huh?? Teachers here get a paid day to work on report cards (every quarter! crazy!) so that accounts for one day, and I'm not quite sure what the other one is for. So that's strange.

But today it got even stranger, because I found out at the 1st grade picnic that Friday is only an HOUR of school. An HOUR?! What the --?? So, think about our carpool...I drop Baxter and the other boy off at 9 AM on my way to work, and then his mom has to go down at 10 AM and pick them up! How lame is that?? Anyway, once I heard that, I understood why other parents were referring to today as the last day of school.

So, um, happy last day of first grade, Baxter!

Or something.

Tired of the Hair Stories Yet?

A deep sigh of relief will be heard across the land today. I know this is true, because I am going to stop talking about my kids' need for haircuts.

Tell me, do you think this child needed a trim today? (You really need to click on the photo below to get the full view; go ahead, humor me, you won't be disappointed.) He does have awesome hair: lots of body and waves to it. A woman at the hairdresser today oohed and aahed over it, referring to it as "rock star hair". Nice! But he has so much of it that he started to sweat the moment he walked out the door last weekend.

We found a great new person to cut the boys' hair - the place was quiet and we were seen right away. On the way home, I could have the windows down in the car without him complaining about his hair blowing into his eyes.

Junk Truck!

Some of you may remember this post about the alley by our new house. In the comments section, a friend who used to live in Chicago described a guy who drives around all the alleys, collecting what I would call junk, and piles it high in his truck.

It turns out that while I was making lunch today, Lyle was busy creating a perfect replica of the junk truck with his toys! A sure sign of a Chicago kid.

Monday, June 11, 2007

In a Word

Just by virtue of reading this meme by Kristin at From Here to There and Back, I was automatically tagged to join in the fun, and it appears to be just basic enough for me to handle tonight. My job is to answer each question with a single word. It's probably harder than it looks... Feel free to take it on yourself!

1. Where is your cell phone? office
2. Relationship? sustaining
3. Your hair? perky
4. Work? satisfying
5. Your brother? absent
6. Your favorite thing? friends
7. Your dream last night? clients
8. Your favorite drink? coffee
9. Your dream car? Prius
10. The room you're in? bedroom
11. Your shoes? Keens
12. Your fears? earthquakes
13. What do you want to be in 10 years? healthy
14. Who did you hang out with this weekend? families
15. What are you not good at? cleaning
16. Muffin? Arizmendi
17. One of your wish list items? MacBook
18. Where you grew up? Connecticut
19. Last thing you did? Netflix
20. What are you wearing? pj's
21. What aren't you wearing? fedora
22. Your pet? rock
23. Your computer? priceless
24. Your life? fortunate
25. Your mood? optimistic
26. Missing? exercise
27. What are you thinking about right now? words
28. Your car? aging
29. Your kitchen? messy
30. Your summer? lake
31. Your favorite color? red
32. Last time you laughed? tonight
33. Last time you cried? hospital
34. School? vacation
35. Love? always

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Don't Forget the Endings

A very familiar phrase suddenly caught my attention in church this morning. Our good friend Michael, a Unitarian Universalist divinity student, was the liturgist. Sometimes the same words sound different when spoken in a different voice - it could be the cadence, intonation, or maybe a new accent breathing life into the familiar. I suppose it could also simply be that we hear something more fully when we are ready to hear it. At any rate, something stood out for me today when Michael spoke the part about remembering that new beginnings also bring endings.

Well, of course. This is basic, a no-brainer. We talk about it, with the kids especially, all the time. The life cycle of the plants, leaves growing strong and green and then, some months later, dying and falling from the trees. Answering Baxter's question yesterday about how there could be any room left on earth when so many babies are always being born (welcome, baby Jonah!) - "Well, sweetie, it's because people are always dying, too."

But for some reason today, my thoughts went straight to what I am experiencing right this minute. It feels like a new beginning on so many levels. I mean, look at what I've been writing about for the past two weeks, full of elation: The kids are cute! And funny! Look at our beautiful yard! School's almost out! We're starting to have fun again! The weather is amazing and we live at the beach! Even the food tastes better now!

I so very much long to shut the door on the past year. Slam it on our cross-country move. Slam! There go the bad landlords who put our rental house on the market the moment we moved in. Slam! Bye-bye, second move in 9 months! I slam the door and then open it up and slam it shut again (but this time lock it with dead-bolts) on my Dad's cancer, treatments, and surgery. Good-bye to the long hours spent setting up my practice here and establishing myself with new families and colleagues. Adios, exhaustion and not enough down time!

We are in the early days of a new beginning and that is why I'm writing with crazy euphoria about absolutely everything right now. And yet those words in church this morning were a reminder. Don't slam the doors just yet. Yes, it was a really tough year. But it was a big year, an important year, and there is yet more to learn from it. Sure, I could just move forward, happy for a fresh start, and not look back. But it seems far wiser to leave the door open a crack for a while and think more about all I've learned and all the growth I've experienced. I need to focus on all that is ending, too, and not just on what is beginning. It's funny how quickly we want to put the hard times behind us when, in reality, I think they're the ones we learn more from.

Picture Perfect

We may have some tough weather periods here in Chicago, but I am going to have to agree with my mother-in-law and say that June makes up for all of it!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Have You Seen Our Yard?!

The exterior of our building, which seemed lovely enough in the winter, has turned into a lush, flowery paradise now that it's summer. I had no idea!!

The views from the front porch:

Table and chairs on one side of the front porch (there's a gliding bench on the other: sweet!)

The front gate:

One of the hanging plants I bought for the back deck - I love them:

Did I mention that summer in Chicago rules?

Reading in the Sunshine

After dinner, Baxter struck his favorite pose - stretched out in the sun room, reading. Matt got him his first Captain Underpants book from the library today, and he was highly entertained by it. Here are a few shots:

Summer Tastes Good

Mmm...a summer dinner with almost everything fresh from the Farmer's Market. Local organic beef burgers, a mozzarella/tomato/basil side dish, and a big green salad with yellow and red tomatoes. Nothing is more delicious to me in the summer than fresh basil and tomatoes. I could eat them all day!

Tomorrow night: an easy and quick couscous dish with (again!) basil, hints of lemon, orange, and almond, and a side of delicious, end of the season (already?) asparagus. Let me know if you want the recipe and I'll post it if it's good!

Summer = good eatin'!

Stop the Presses!

Holy smokes, everyone, the Sadler Gordon family is -- drum roll, please -- getting out! Yes, it's true. We have been getting out of the house - for fun - this week! Not just for a Target run, grocery shopping, or to get things done on the house. This feels unprecedented.

I think it's summer fever. I am determined to slow down the pace of the "have to's" over the next few months and focus more on the "want to's". It's summer - real summer, not a cold, foggy San Francisco summer, and we are going to enjoy it, dammit. So on Thursday, when a client's parents offered us free tickets to the White Sox game (box seats and a parking permit, no less!), I pushed aside my automatic response (too much to do tonight, don't want to stay out late on a work night, probably won't find a babysitter so last-minute) and said, emphatically "Yes!!" Who cares that I'm not a sports fan? Matt is! It was spontaneous and fun, and I found a sitter right away. Finally, I feel like Lyle is old enough to handle last-minute changes like that, even when he's feeling sensitive because I was so recently gone for a week.

When I left work yesterday at 4:30 and discovered it was 75 and sunny, I called Matt and declared it a picnic-dinner-on-the-beach night! We called our friends across the alley and we all had a wonderful evening on the beach, coming home soaking wet at the time the boys are usually in bed. I'm not sure I'm ever going to get used to living at the beach like this - it's heavenly.

And then, to top it off, we spent a gorgeous morning at the Green City Farmer's Market where the boys helped us pick out incredible fresh produce. Of course, their favorite part was the bakery treats on the grass when we stopped for a snack, but it was fun to show them all the yummy food, checking out the roots still on the radishes, how to choose the best tomato, beautiful purple asparagus, and so on. We had a cooler in the back for all our produce because next we were headed to a picnic at Senn Park (nice playground!) for Families Together, the co-op nursery school where Lyle will go in the fall. I can't believe how many people I knew there! So many families from Burley have kids in both schools, and I also ran into two of my favorite moms from the Wiggleworms music class I do with Lyle. I'm so glad we chose the co-op!

I know that in the past, we would've felt overwhelmed by everything else we had going on and wouldn't have even attempted to hit the Farmer's Market before the preschool picnic - I'm sure it sounds strange to anyone whose life is simpler, but it hasn't taken much to feel like something was "too much" these past couple of years. Now that we're done with the two moves and Lyle's matured so much in the past 6 months, a lot more is possible. Matt and I have even made plans to get away overnight by ourselves (we have not yet done this since Lyle was born: a crime against couple hood) once in July and once in August. We'll stay at nice hotels downtown and enjoy Chicago on our own!

We are definitely ready to embrace the fun - welcome, summer!

Monday, June 4, 2007

What a Buzz

I'm a pretty nice wife. Really, I am. I think I'm about as un-bossy as they come, but I guess we'll let Matt be the final judge on that one. I don't tell Matt what to wear or not to wear, when to shave, or how to wear his hair. So today, when Matt again brought up his desire to give Baxter a buzz cut with his clippers, I didn't go all Bossy Wife on him - you know, the old, "Don't you dare get those things anywhere near my son's head!!" After all, he's his son, too. I don't understand this desire to give one's young son a buzz cut any more than I understand wanting to watch football, but I am pretty sure the two are related. No, instead, I looked at my son's lovely hair and said, feebly, "It'll look so awful when it grows back in."

As I noted over the weekend, the child was long overdue for a haircut. The kids' place we usually go closed down and the one we'd been to before that no longer has the only stylist who did anything decent to their hair. So by today he was begging for a haircut. He looked like this:

(In hindsight, it looks really sweet. Who cares if it was getting caught in his eyelashes?)

So his Daddy got out the clippers and started cutting. I asked under my breath, "You don't know what the hell you're doing, do you?" "Nope!" he said.

I left.

When I came back, Baxter looked like this:

And Lyle began to systematically unload the hamper onto Matt's feet like this:

which was just one action in a long string of naughtiness tonight, prompting me to take him out of the room and read Where the Wild Things Are for the first (and second and third times) to him.

When I dared return, Matt was at this stage:

And, finally, voila:

So, tell me, which documentary do you think best suits Baxter's new haircut? Cast your vote today!

a) Eddie Munster: The Boy Beneath the Eyebrows
b) Never Too Young: On Drafting Our Little Boys
c) Aw, Gee, Mom! 50's Values for a New Millennium

Saturday, June 2, 2007

They've Got Me Surrounded!

We're at lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. Because what else are you going to do when you go to Old Orchard mall to get the kids haircuts and discover that the kids' salon has just closed? I am really not a big fan of this mall.

So, anyway, we're with our little mop heads. Lyle is finished and very irritated that the rest of us are still eating. He's standing next to me, playing with the buttons on my cargo pants.


Matt (with perfect timing): "Get in line, buddy."

Sometimes I am acutely aware of being surrounded by GUYS.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Kicked in the Arse

Lest I make my life sound like a never-ending string of cuteness and hilarious sound bytes, let me just say that parenthood has kicked my arse today.

How is it possible that every time I am away from home for any length of time, Matt finds out while I am gone that he has to leave on a business trip 24-48 hours after I return home? This past week was no exception. He called me when I was still at the gate here in Chicago - hadn't even left the city yet - to say that he had just been informed he would have to go to L.A. when I came back. It leaves us feeling disjointed, to say the least.

Last night I was up too late to begin with. Then the boys, totally uncharacteristically, took turns waking up every half hour until 2 AM. I had to be up early to shower for work before they woke up, which meant that I operated on just 4 hours of sleep today. I was so exhausted at work that I actually felt dizzy this morning. By midday, the coffee and work adrenaline had kicked in and I made it through the day, but it's all I can do to stay awake here as the boys fall asleep. They got up to their usual bedtime antics in there but could soon tell that Mommy was really not in the mood for it tonight!

Thank God Matt will be home tonight. We really need a weekend to be a foursome again.

Today's Specials

Me (exasperated): "Baxter, please keep those hands to yourself!"
Baxter: "I am!! (pause) And Lyle's not, either!"

Baxter (thoughtfully): "Mommy, am I allergic to poisonous gas?"