Sunday, March 30, 2008

Signs of Spring, 3rd and Final Installment

Here's what's inspiring me to take the straw out of the wine bottle:

1. Street Cleaning. Usually, street cleaning is a royal pain in the tookus. Seriously, parking in Lakeview is already tight (I know, you Lincoln Park-ers will tell me I have it easy). And on a street cleaning day, an entire side of the street is forbidden for parking. On those days, assuming we're on the "correct" side of the street, we do not, for any reason whatsoever, move the car. You see, the sign says "No Parking, 9am-3pm." The Little Revenue Weenie comes along before the street cleaner and tickets the last few lonely cars. Then the street cleaner machine thing comes. After that, most times, one can then come along and park her car knowing that all of the action has passed. Sometimes this is by 10am. However, I got burned once. I parked on the freshly scrubbed side figuring that I was free and clear. And I got a ticket marked at 2:20pm!! 2:20!!! Little Revenue WEENIE........(the G-rated version of what I shouted when I saw the time on the ticket) And they just loooooooove to put up those signs on the days of afternoon Cubs games.

But you see, I can't complain about this when there's three feet of snow on the ground. Nope. Ain't nobody comin' in the winter. Only when it gets warm. And street-cleaning season is about to begin.

2. I have to print out the Cubs schedule so that I can plan our lives around it. Heck, being a St. Louis native and having a brother that works in the front office, I'm a CARDINALS fan. (my brother says that being married to Urban Dad qualifies as a "mixed marriage.") As I said before, we don't move the car the days of afternoon Cubs games. Especially Friday afternoon games. Nobody seems to LEAVE after the game on those days. So the Cubs schedule will be on the fridge and in the car. We will plan our lives accordingly. And at this point, I'm almost glad of it.
3. StreetWise vendors are out. Now don't misunderstand. This is NOT a slam or a mocking of StreetWise vendors (StreetWise being a newspaper sold by the homeless so that they can be not homeless anymore). It's getting reasonable out there weather-wise. And the vendors are slowly returning. I'm actually happy to see them and almost excited to give them a buck. Keep the paper, even!

4. Urban Kid 2 is outgrowing her winter coat. The sleeves are creeping up her arms. I'm relishing washing it and setting it aside to give to the food pantry next fall. Because it's Spring and SHE WON'T NEED IT! Woo Hoo!!!!

5. People are peeling off layers. You know what I mean -- you bundle up like it's the 9th ring of Hell out there, get a few blocks away, and realize that you can put your scarf, hat and mittens in your bag. People stop on the sidewalk to do this before they joyfully unzip their coats. But don't get too excited. Mother Nature knows when you've put the hat, scarf and mittens in a box in the back of the basement......... I blame April snowfalls on those people. But still, it's something, and it's something GOOD.

6. I need new sandals. I can actually think about buying new sandals. There are new sandals in the store windows. I'm going to get a pedicure after posting this because I'm so excited at the very thought of sandals.
So you'll understand if I sign off now. Urban Kid 2 is napping, Urban Dad is home from grading papers and Urban Kid 1 is psyched to hang out and watch basketball with him.
Gotta go while the gettin' is good.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Welcome to The Crabby Kitchen

Don't you hate it when a new recipe goes bad? When you get half-way through it and realize, "What the hell was I thinking even starting this?" Or, "is it too late to chuck this and dial Domino's?"

But it looked so easy when Robin Miller did it! I WATCHED her do it and thought, "oh, that's up my alley."
If I may go a bit retro on you..... NOT.
I loved Chicken Pot Pie as a kid. Being a latchkey kid of the late 70's and 80's, Swanson was a common site in our freezer. But it turns out there's something like 600 grams of fat in there. You may as well eat a Big Mac and a cupcake and get the same nutrition. As a kid, you can get away with that now and then. As an adult, just putting the thing into my cart makes my backside grow.

Ok, so the cooking. Robin cranked out her pot pie in no time. In fact, she cranked out TWO OTHER DISHES -- TWO!!! -- in the same show.

Me? Forever. And ever. One dish.

Then it came time to pour the concoction into a pie tin. Thankfully, those cheap-o aluminium tins from the grocery store come in multi-packs. I had enough for two pot pies. Luckily, the crusts come in two's as well.

I rolled out my crust, pinched it all up, then put it into my little toaster over that is also a regular oven that I like to use when something will fit in there since I think I'm being more energy-efficient.

I guess I didn't pinch up the crust all that well, because chunks fell off the sides and onto the hot coils and then started smoking. So out everything came, off went the little oven. Once everything was cleaned up, I tried again.

Urban Dad came in to check on when the heck we were eating to find me in front of a smoking oven and with every single pot, pan and bowl strewn about our limited counterspace.

"Go away," I said. "I love you, but you have to go away. I'll call you soon. But please, please go away and don't see this right now."

When I finally went to serve it up, it was a soupy, slippery mess. Not like Robin's. Not one bit.

*SIGH* Oh well. It was edible. Healthy enough -- chicken, potatoes, vegetables, etc. But it was a crabby undertaking for a crabby outcome.

And God love Urban Dad. He ate every bite and asked for seconds. He swore that it was fine, really, just maybe I should make stuff that's easier to throw together.

It was nice of him to say he liked it. Especially considering that second pie tin in the fridge, just waiting for a crust and to drop chunks of it onto the hot coils.

I lamented how bored he must be eating the same small rotation of things that I know how to do. He swears that he doesn't care. "Eating is overrated," he says. "If we want something new, we'll go out."


"Umm, soon. We can go soon, if you like."

I like.

So that was dinner. Add to that Urban Kid 1 currently riding a wave of rarely listening and always pushing the envelope of what she can get away with (hello? are we getting a staple removed from your head tomorrow from when you would not listen?) and Urban Kid 2 who wants to start to talk but who can only point and screech...loudly...and often... and I just started to lose it today. Oh and a case of PMS just to put icing on the cake. Hey, did I mention that it snowed again today in Chicago?
Ok, so it wasn't that bad.

Urban Dad is amazing. "It's ok, you deserve to be cranky. Want me to put the kids down and you can unwind? By the way, dinner was great."

I first planned to plunk on the couch to eat cookies and watch tv, but then decided no, I'm going to go visit my cyber-friends instead.

Ok, feeling better already. Really! I'll try to be back to my old self for the next post. I'll cook one of the tried-and-true's, refill my well of patience and shoot for a cheerier outlook.

Look, I'll even end on a happy thought: In the meantime, thank you for listening!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Show and Tell Tuesday

You guys have left such wonderful comments and thoughts about Urban Kid 1! How touching! Thank you!

Rest assured that UK1 is undaunted, as if last Thursday never happened. Not even a little bit. The next day, she was looking at a coloring book on a toybox/trunk that we have. While standing on a ball and rolling it around under her feet. Of course, it rolled out from under her, landing her on her butt. So what was her natural next course of action? To stand back up on the ball and go about her business. Again, as if it never happened. Resilient little buggers, aren't they?

I'm reminded of when I was in the hospital after having Urban Kid 2. Urban Dad and Best Namma Ever! were there with UK1. UK1 was sitting at the foot of my bed, refusing to listen to anyone tell her to quit messing around and be careful. Next thing we knew, her arms were windmilling, and she hit the floor. Nice fat bloody lip from that one. And about 20 minutes after the pediatrition had done the rounds. Oh well. A little ice fixed that one up.

For the record, Urban Dad was a bit grumpy about his portrayal in that last blog-isode. So let the record reflect that UD is a wonderful, generous, intelligent, protective, caring, supportive, funny, creative, hard-working, uber-manly husband and father.

As far as Show and Tell Tuesday: The Paintbrush was closed last week due to Chicago Public Schools' Spring Break. They cancelled their regular classes and had camps every morning. So how about a retro one? This is from when they learned about Kandinsky, using his piece Several Circles.

This was UK1's take on it:

Looks like she had fun, huh?

Lots on my mind...more signs of Spring, thoughts about the number 23 (huh?) that I was reminded of on Sunday (again, huh?). All kinds of things.

See you again in a few days!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Off to the ER...

Start the music to the left over's appropriate for the story...

Thursday night was pretty routine. Really, it was! But it's the routine days that sometimes come and bite ya in the hiney. (warning: real-life, grown-up language to follow!)

Urban Dad was watching basketball with Urban Kid 1 while I went back and put Urban Kid 2 down to bed. All was peaceful in the Urban Household. All was routine.

Urban Dad has been on Spring Break this week. This means that things are busier than ever as we try to get all of the stuff done that will now not get done again until he is off for the summer. So he was FINALLY getting a chance to sit down and watch some March Madness. Finally, for just ONE NIGHT, to relax and do nothing for the evening.

But Urban Kid 1 is 4 1/2 years old. And no matter how much you run her around during the day, she can NOT sit still. Ever. Two speeds, that one.

After putting down Urban Kid 2 into a peaceful slumber, I came out into the living room. With my hands in my pockets. As I came out, Urban Dad was looking at the tv while gently scolding UK1 to not jump on the couch. She was listening as well as ever, bouncing all around. I came out and stood facing them, with my hands in my pockets, somewhere between the couch and the marble coffee table.

Did you get that part? Marble Coffee Table.

As I stood there with my hands in my pockets, and as UK1 ignored UD's admonishing, UK1 decided that it was my turn to share the love. And she jumped on me.

But my hands were in my pockets.

She fell to the floor first on her rump (thankyougod, thankyougod). But the back of her head then went back towards the marble coffee table. The corner of it.



UD and I scooped her up onto the couch (hands out of pockets now, thank you) and held her, soothed her and yet reminded her that she was not supposed to be jumping around (and she's been told on numerous occasions to NOT jump on Mom). I held the back of her head, but felt something weird. I took my hand from her head and looked at my fingers.

Dude, there's blood on my hands. She's bleeding.

Oh shit, are you kidding, let me see. Shit! Dammit (UK1), why don't you just listen for once?


(I ran for a towel and put it up against her head, right where the blonde was getting darker and darker)

It's really bleeding.

Dammit! Let me see it. Shit, we need to go to the ER. She needs stitches.


Why didn't you catch her? Why did you just watch her fall?

Dude, it was an accident! I didn't know she was coming! You need to stop. You're scaring her.

All I wanted to do was sit down and do nothing for one night. One night! Now we have to go spend all night at Children's. Shit!


(backstory moment: the last time UD made a middle-of-the-night ER run with UK1, it was for a raging ear infection. they waited over three hours to see a doctor. UK1 vomited on him 2X in the waiting room)

(While he held the towel, I started putting on my coat and shoes)

I'll take her.

No I'LL TAKE her. (great, he's going all cave-man now)


You NEED to go. You know better than to jump on Mommy. I told you to stop jumping on the couch. Dammit!

Would you STOP. You are scaring her! I will take her. (I had no idea how to strap her into the car and hold the towel while driving, but I've figured out weirder things in a pinch)

No, I'll take her. I'll take her. Get an old coat, let's go.

Then you HAVE to calm down and stop freaking her out.

And off they went. I saw them to the door and stood on the porch while he carried her down the sidewalk to Halsted, where he would catch a cab to Children's Memorial. UK1 cried for her Mommy the whole way. Geez, real heart-string-yanking crying too.

So what was I supposed to do? Watch tv and eat cookies? I threw away the towel -- it was old and scuzzy and now soaked with my daughter's blood. I didn't want it anymore.

I called the Pink Power Ranger, who was fairly helpful. She gave me the number of a paramedic girlfriend of hers, who was actually very soothing. "The head bleeds a lot. That much crying is actually a good sign." That kind of thing.

So I started sorting and doing laundry. I become very productive when rattled. Then I found UD's cell phone. God, his technophobia can be annoying. I didn't expect that he would go out to Lincoln and Halsted to panhandle for the change for a payphone, so I called the hospital.

This is (UK1)'s mom. My husband brought her in, and I'm standing here holding his phone. Can you tell me what's happening?

Yeah, they're going to see the doctor soon. You want me to have him call you?

Could you? Thanks so much. Tell me, is he a total HeadCase?

(she refrains from giggling, but only barely)

Noooooooo, he's fine. I'll have him call you.

He called later and seemed completely calm. Good, he was no longer freaking anybody out.

She's fine. She's getting one staple. They don't even have to shave the area. You'll need to make a doctor's appointment to have it removed. They have a kit-thing here you're supposed to take. She's making friends with all of the nurses and the other kids too. Everything's fine.

Once they got home, I gingerly got UK1 ready for bed.

I'm tired. I'm going to sleep in tomorrow. I told everyone there that I'm sleeping in tomorrow.

Ok, sweetie. You sleep as late as you want. You want me to lie here on the floor next to you til you fall asleep?

Yeah. I'm going to sleep on my side, ok?


As she's about to doze off, she lifts her head and looks over her shoulder at me.

Mom, for my next birthday, can we have ice cream and cake?


And with that, she dozed off.

So two things have been learned here:

1. We needed to re-examine child-proofing around here. AND WE HAVE.

2. When the UK's learn to swear, it will not be from me in traffic after all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

You Wanna Play Uno?

Last Friday, Urban Kid 1 returned with Best Namma Ever! and the Pink Power Ranger. It was a joyful reunion! During the eight days that she was gone (how did a four-day trip turn into eight?!), Urban Kid 2 went from the toddle-tumble-toddle stage to walking. It was a beautiful day, so while I stood in the only parking space outside of our building, UK2 wandered the sidewalk a bit. (I had to wonder how long it would be before some weenie busybody called the cops. Fortunately, PPR IS ONE.)

After talking PPR into the space (isn't parallel parking on the police test?), I scooped up UK1 for a big hug. She was fine with that, but immediately wanted down and to get over to UK2. Not only was she excited to see her, she was also nervous that she was walking more than two feet from me. I thought it was ok. Afterall, there's a Caribou Coffee at the end of the block. I was kicking around training her to get me a large skim chai. What? Don't look shocked... she's welcome to get herself something too. My treat.

That night, after the kids were asleep and Urban Dad had gone to grade papers at a different local Caribou Coffee (the one at the end of our block is often packed and tends to be a pickup joint in the evenings. funny, i hear that, but i never see a woman in there..... hmmmm......), BNE!, PPR and I set about a long family tradition.
Uno. But not just Uno. Oh no. We play what might be called Death Uno. We are not satisfied until we have left someone in a bloody heap. At first, I thought we just played Communist Uno -- as soon as someone started to get ahead, we would leap on them and drag them back to our level. But it always turns into something more. We align together and come after the leader like a pack of hyenas. We coordinate Reverses, Skips and the Almighty Wild Draw Four card. (There's nothing in the rules that says you can't talk to other players!) Add a few cocktails, and, well, you can imagine the carnage.

This works for a while. But, of course, it often disintegrates into Every Man For Himself. Then the giggles really start!

You have to understand that this is a family tradition. Playing Death Uno goes back probably thirty years and includes uncles, cousins and close friends. The next day, UK1 asked if I could teach her Uno while BNE! and PPR went out for some shopping. I'm gently teaching the little grasshopper now. Little does she know what's in store...... let alone her baby sister, looking on so innocently......

Urban Dad refuses to enter the fray. He'd rather watch something more peaceful. Like football.

On Saturday night, BNE! and PPR stayed with the UK's while UD and I went out for a bit. We ventured out to the suburbs, specifically to the Wal-Mart of Sweden, IKEA. We purchased a dresser for our bedroom, because you can never have too much storage. And UD has built this particular one before -- in fact, he's built most of the dressers in this particular line, plus two wardrobes -- so we went with what works. Plus, it's kinda cool-looking.

UD is on Spring Break this week, so I'm sitting pretty. He's off doing errands now, then will stay home with UK2 while I take UK1 to piano class. This will allow TIME ALONE. ALONE!

Ok, I've babbled on quite a bit today. And UK1 is actually asking to do Math. She'll need it to tally up those Uno scores, so I should go.

(look for the return of Show and Tell Tuesday in the future -- UK1 missed Art class last week while at BNE!'s)

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Woo Hoo! Music!

Go ahead, click play over there on your left. Isn't that better than the whole lame downloading thing!

THANK YOU to my friend Ann over at for your wonderful help!

Oh, we are SO off and running NOW!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

There seem to be a few Irish people in Chicago. When did THAT happen? =-)

Play the song "Breathless" over there on the left. This is The Corrs, who are very much from Ireland. The last time they played in Chicago, they sold out in less than 10 minutes.

Go ahead. Don't dance to this song. I defy you to try.

I know what's going to happen. The music will get in your ears, in your brain, go through your nervous system and tell your muscles to MOVE. Turn up the speakers. Push back from the computer (or set it down, you laptop users). Grab a little one, if there's one near you that's little enough. Dance, dance, dance! This song practically demands it, doesn't it?

Go ahead. I'll wait.

In the meantime, I'm trying and trying to figure out how to get music on this blog in a more immediate way. How do you guys get music to just come up when your site does? I'm stumped......

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Weekend!

Hi Everyone! I'm going to be out-of-pocket for the weekend. Urban Kid 1 returns today! She's on the road right now, along with Best Namma Ever! and the Pink Power Ranger, driving up from St. Louis. And there's much to do to prepare for guests, of course. Also, since Urban Dad is the only person IRL that knows of this blog, and the computer is in the room where BNE! and Pink Power Ranger will be staying, I won't be able to do much beyond check e-mail.

Hope to be able to check your blogs before they arrive...

And I hope this makes you smile in the meantime.......

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Just Once

Just once I'd like to see The Wife NOT stand by her husband at the news conference after he's been busted doing something gross.

I'd like to see her have her own press conference. I'd like to see her stand before the mic and say something to the effect of:

I leave judgements about his professional performance to his (voters constituents employees shareholders whatever).

However, he has failed as a husband and father and will be held accountable. I will not stand with him today or at any time in the future. Today I take it as my responsibility to show our children that one does not take this kind of humiliation, that this is not how you treat those who you claim to love. It is not up to the person who has been wronged to be falsely charged with the responsibility of keeping the family intact. Today I take it upon myself to make it crystal clear that there is such a thing as right and wrong. And while my spouse has opted to do the wrong thing, today I am doing the right thing.

I will not be taking any questions. If my spouse or members of the media wish to contact me, they may do so though my attorney, WeDo, TakeIt, and More.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Show and Tell Tuesday

Last week's debut seemed successful -- you're all so kind to check out my kid's work! -- so here's this week's contribution to Show and Tell Tuesday.

Urban Kid 1 learned about Ansel Adams last week at Art class. They checked out the photo below, called Autumn Tree Against Cathedral Rocks, Yosemite, 1944.
Then they did a project using tempera paint, tape and sponges on pieces of cloth.

Urban Kid 1 was, as ever, very proud and excited.

It's supposed to be kind of nice here today in Chicago. Which means that it will be even nicer in St. Louis. Hopefully, she can get outside and get a real taste of Spring!

Happy Tuesday to everyone!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Oh my, it IS quiet around here...

Almost too quiet.

Almost. (wink wink)

Urban Kid 1 is continuing her "vacation" in St. Louis with Best Namma Ever!. Yesterday, she called from "Shake n Steak," where they were dining with some friends. This is a nice bonus for her, as we have to go out to the suburbs here to find one (which means that it doesn't happen, I'm afraid). BNE! also bought her a few new pieces of clothes while shopping a sale. They also hit a book fair, so I'm sure she cleaned up there as well. And when UK1 calls, she really wants to talk to UK2. Love that.

The quiet has allowed me to reflect a bit on my relationship with UK1. And I'm reassured that it isn't all power struggles and meltdowns. I think about how excited she is to have me watch her the last few minutes of her swim lessons, how she wants to show me things that she made at Spanish class, that when she's sick, all she wants is me. As with any relationship, perhaps a little space allows for some perspective.

I'm kind of starting to miss her................

In the meantime, Urban Dad and I were able to open a bottle of wine last night and have a romantic, late dinner. And we're both getting lots of time to play with UK2. It was less of an issue when I wanted to bail out yesterday afternoon to get a manicure and pedicure. And it will be less of an issue today when I want to bail out to go to the gym.

But it is pretty quiet around here.

Almost too quiet.

Almost. (wink wink)

Friday, March 7, 2008

A "Vacation" Of Sorts?

You see, my mom (aka: Best Namma Ever!) came to visit from our hometown of St. Louis. And she does not know that I have this humble blog. Only a teeny number of people that I know IRL know that I am trying blogging. I aim to keep it that way for a while.

BNE! came up on Wednesday and stayed the night. Then yesterday, BNE! and Urban Kid 1 flew back to St. Louis. Yes, BNE! collected UK1 for a lovely little "vacation." And not a moment too soon, I'm afraid. For some reason, UK1 and I have been butting heads... and hard. Almost no day has been complete without a massive meltdown and a long timeout. My sister has eloquently referred to these events as "pi$$ing matches." The nice thing is that she spends her timeouts pulling books off of her shelves and reading them. I'm thinking of starting her on this book:She'd likely finish it before her next birthday, at the rate she's going..............

There have been a few days when Urban Dad comes home to me wondering if homeschooling is actually the best answer. "She hates me! What can I possibly teach her?" His reply is always that she does NOT hate me and that even if we do just argue all day, she's STILL better off than in the Chicago system.

UK1 loves going to BNE!'s. Everything is novel and perfect. She is the center of attention. She gets to go to church (something we're a little too lax about, I suppose) and be the center of attention there. She gets to see my sister, a police officer, aka: Pink Power Ranger. And be the center of her attention. There's some sort of trampoline place that BNE! was checking out for her. And they go to the local Y to swim and play in a shiny new pool. She gets to watch Cinderella over and over again. Seriously, who can blame the kid?

In the meantime, Urban Kid 2 is getting lots of attention, especially from UD. He worries that he doesn't get enough time with her due to the whirling dervish that is UK1. As the weather improves bit by teeny tiny bit, he wants to take UK2 out for a walk in the stroller when he gets home. For the next few days, it will be The UD and UK2 Show. More power to 'em.

BNE! and UK1 are scheduled to fly back on Tuesday. But Pink Power Ranger is scheduled to drive up for a visit next Friday. So BNE! might just keep UK1 a few extra days, and all three may arrive together instead. I am all about the latter idea. So does this make me a bad mom? Or just an honest one? An honestly bad one? Or maybe one that is fortunate enough to come up for air now and then.

As much as I love living here, and as excited as I am about raising kids in the heart of the city, I do envy those that have family around them, handy on a day-to-day basis. I thank God every day for BNE! and how involved she has been from 300 miles away. I'd lose my mind without her.

But I'm still not telling her about this blog.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Show and Tell Tuesday Debut

Several (but not all) of the blogs that I checkout are fellow homeschool moms, and several have a neat feature called Wordless Wednesday. However, I know myself well enough to tell that I would have a hard time with this feature. Wordless? Me? Right.

So let's try a feature called Show and Tell Tuesday! Urban Kid 1 is currently taking an art class at a wonderful place called The Paintbrush ( She leanrs about a new artist every week, including where that artist is from, when s/he lived, etc. Then they look at an "inspiration" piece of work by the artist. And finally, they make their own art in a similar fashion. And while they do this, music related to the era is playing in the background.

UK1's last class introduced her to Henri Rousseau. Their inspiration piece was "Surprise!"

Here is what UK1 conjured up in class:
A guideline that Urban Dad requested when I voiced interest in blogging was "no pictures of us." So while I am not supposed to post pictures of the UKs, I can at least show off some of their work!

Happy Tuesday...

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Signs of Spring, Part 2

(drip, drip, drip, dripdripdrip, drip)

Can you hear it?

(dripdrip, drip drip dripdripdrip)

That's the sound of melting snow and ice.


Melting and disappearing into the sewers.

There's even an occasional CRASH of snow falling off of a roof.

We got up this morning, gathered ourselves quickly and walked (because we could do so without fearing for our children's safety from the cold!) to a local diner for pancakes.

Then we took a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood (because we could do so without fearing for our children's safety from the cold!).

Then we came home and opened the back door to let out the "house-i-tosis." Because we could do so without fearing for our children's safety from the cold.

There were even birds chirping!


Urban Dad is off working out, keeping himself all hot and handsome. Urban Kid 2 is napping. Urban Kid 1 and I are goofing off on the computer. Later, all of the Urbans will go over to the gym for Family Swim. You see, we can all walk over there, breathe the fresh air and go at a leisurely pace BECAUSE WE CAN DO SO WITHOUT FEARING FOR OUR CHILDREN'S SAFETY FROM THE COLD.

Can you tell that it's 50 glorious degrees in Chicago today?