Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Inmates Are Running The Asylum

Yeah, you want the story about the library.

And for the record, I request what I want on-line, go get it at the circulation desk and get out.

And I don't even use this particular library that they've featured!

Our tax dollars at work.......

P.S.: Not for little eyes/ears, if they happen to be in the room.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I Knee'd You

Thanksgiving here was really lovely! It started out that way, anyway.....

We were invited over to the home of some very good friends. In fact, they are the Urban Kids' godparents. And they finished a year-long renovation of their house, so they had upwards of 40 people over in order to finally have everyone under one roof for the holiday. (and who are we kidding.... to show off the new project a bit.... wouldn't you??)
We ate, we drank, we socialized, we ooooo'd and ahhhhh'd. All good fun!

Part of this renovation was the installation of a half-basketball court behind the house.

And Godfather told Urban Dad that a bunch of guys were going outside to play this:

It was going to be 5 on 5, and they needed another guy. So off U-Dad went to play with the boys. Urban Kid 1 was downstairs being introduced to a Wii system, and I had Urban Kid 2 with me watching the game from the lovely picture window in the kitchen.

I looked away. And then back. And I saw someone on the ground doing this:You'll never guess who it was! Oh wait.... you did, didn't you? Yep, it was U-Dad. He wasn't wearing sneakers. And the shoes that he had on were lacking in traction. He says that he felt and heard a loud "POP" before he went down.

When we got home, the knee was swelling, so he used lots of this:
And called his doctor's office. An on-call doc called him back and suggested he head to the ER for X-rays, just to be thorough. And to call on Monday to c'mon into the office. Turns out that nothing is broken, including the ACL, which is tremendously good news. And it turns out he has lots of space between his knee bones (yeah, it's late & i'm spacing on what those bones are actually called). In fact, the doc said that he has the knee cartiledge of a 30-year-old. So yay U-Dad.

They sent him home with crutches and a prescription for ibuprofen that comes in pills about this size:

But U-Dad feels really terrible. He was supposed to fly to Colorado first thing this a.m. to go out to his mom's. She's in the hospital, having taken a few nasty falls lately. His older brother has been out there for a few days, and his younger brother arrived today. U-Dad feels like he's shirking some kind of responsibility.

He's also apologizing to me! He feels like he's supposed to not create more work for his wife. And that now I have not only two little ones to look after, but a gimpy husband too. He's very irritated with himself. I keep reminding him that it was an accident, that accidents happen. And the whole "in sickness and in health" thing. And if I can do "for richer or for poorer," I can certainly do a gimpy knee for a while.

In the meantime, he's on the phone with his brothers several times a day, and we're kicking around getting him out to her place for a stint between Christmas and New Year's.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ok. Yo soy confudida.

I am confused.
Today was the first day to register Urban Kid 1 for Piano class for the session that starts in January. Before I went to the computer, I asked her, "ok if we stay with the same day and the same teachers?"

Her response? "We can try a different class if you want, Mom. It might be nice to meet some new friends."

Wha' huh?

"I could try different teachers too."

Errrrummmm. Ok. Let me go check the website. Remind me, who are you again?

As things would work out, the only day that we can really do is the same day. And at the same time. With the same teachers (it's a team-taught class). So I re-upped her for the same Bat Time, same Bat Channel.

Her response?

"Oh. Well, I guess that's ok. Will there be some new kids this time? Or all of the same? Maybe there will be some new kids to meet."

Based on yesterday's post...... I am completely confused.
And I have to confess -- a touch impressed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Hola, me llamo la madre mal!

Hola! Quieres hablar conmigo? No? (do you want to talk with me?)

That's ok. Neither does Urban Kid 1.

For a few years now, U-Kid 1 has been taking Spanish over at Language Stars,. Once a week, she goes into a class that allows only a maximum of eight students per class and is full-immersion for 75 minutes. Several families sign up for more -- you could do twice a week, or three hours once a week or even three hours twice a week. But LS is our big-ticket extra-curricular item, so we stick with once a week and supplement in whatever way her gringo mother can find. ( has Dora videos that allow you to switch languages -- which I can't find anywhere else!)

Now that we're past the Mommy & Me phase, I drop her off. And since she doesn't go to school, I've made it a point to not jack around her schedule so that she can get to know her classmates.

Ok.... a bit more backstory..... I posted once that I did some work for LS, and earned 50% of U-Kid 1's tuition for the Fall session. It was fun to do anyway, and I was loving the savings. But here's the deal -- if your kid's class is full, and a full-tuition-paying family wants into that class, the Parent Volunteer's kid gets bumped. The friend who turned me onto the PV program had been doing it for a few years and had never had it happen. Thus my confidence back in the summer.

And U-Kid 1 has a New Best Friend in Spanish class. NBF lives in the South Loop, which is not near where we live. Yet another reason to not switch classes.

Then... you saw this coming, right?... it happened. A full-tuition-paying family wanted into U-Kid's class. And to LS's credit, they made it clear to this family that there were other smaller classes available. But noooooo, OUR day was the only one they could do. And so U-Kid 1 was bumped.

I tried to explain to U-Kid 1 how this played out, why we had to go to a different day. And her only response was, "but I want to be with NBF! Why can't I be with NBF? I don't want a new class! I want MY class!"

My response was to channel Jack Bauer inside my head (dammitdammitdammit).

Me: I know, honey. Mommy is the one that got us into this. I'm so sorry. But you'll meet some new friends. Won't that be fun? (my voice slips way too high at the end there, thus fully alerting her BS detectors. it's all i can do to not say, "i know, honey. mommy tried to save a few bucks and now you're s-o-l. mommy totally bites!")

Her: I want NBF! Will I at least have my same teacher?

Me: Errrrr, ummmm, I don't, uh, really know. (grrrrrrrrrrr....dammit!)

Her: I'm not going!!!

Me: Put on your shoes, sweetie. We have to go now.

Her. NO! I'm. Not! GOING!!!!

THUNK! (sound of me putting my head through the wall)

But there's hope. We had two make-ups from a couple of visits to Best Namma Ever! sitting in our back pocket. There was room in her old class (they hold spots for make-ups), so we used one last week. And it was perfect, because it was the day after her new class, so it looked kind of like a "reward" for going to the new one. And the second make-up is scheduled for her old class next week. I guess it's really kind of semantics at this point, since we're so close to the Fall session ending just before Christmas.

And I confirmed with NBF's model-nanny that NBF is indeed in the same class for the Winter/Spring session. And model-nanny said that NBF gushes about seeing U-Kid 1 at Spanish class. So it's a two-way love-fest and not just U-Kid 1 stalking some poor child. (whew) I gave her my info in the hopes of arranging a play-date for the month that the girls won't see each other in class.

And we are paid in full for the Winter/Spring session for her original class.

It's only dinero, si?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Why I'm Eternally Grateful For Urban Dad

I never, ever want to go back out there! BTW, I'm trying to get my hairdresser to start a blog. Her dating stories are hysterical!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Open Mouth. Switch Feet.

Over at Messages from the Mothership, she confessed recently to a social gaffe. We all make them, right?

So here's my spin-off from her post. My own gaffe.

Halloween Night.

After the kids had looted the neighborhood, we all met back at the house of our very good friends. The Urban Kids' godparents. They were excited to have new next-door neighbors over. A lovely young woman and an attractive middle-aged (dare I say it -- late middle-aged???) couple. The couple lived in the upstairs apartment. The lovely young woman in the downstairs apartment. But both women happen to be blonde.

And I said...... I swear to God........

Oh, I would love it if my mom lived in the same building!

(awkward pause, but the older lady is French and admirably gracious as she says) Oh, I'm nawt heyr muthair.

Oh, I mean.... well, I'm going to my mom's next week with the kids..... so I have Mom On The Brain.... so often since the kids came along, I miss having family nearby...... just can't wait to see mom...... SO! What brings you from Paris to Chicago?

Ok, 'fess up. What's your gaffe?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Code Violation... Chicago Style?

The Poe-Poe on the left is Kate, a wonderful person who I've known for a long time. Our paths have crossed twice over the years in completely different circumstances each time. So I figure that I'm supposed to know her.
And this is a violation of Code 9-64-130... blocking an alley. 'Cause I know you were wondering.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Big C

Ok, let me just preface this post with a warning:

Information presented will appear to be heavy stuff. To better people than me, it is.

So here goes:

I am one of five of my father's kids. The first three -- all boys -- came from his first marriage. The Pink Power Ranger and I are from the second. He left the first wife. My mom left him.

He wasn't man enough to leave the house when his wife wanted him to, so she left with two kids and no college degree. She has since conquered the world. He lives in an apartment over a coffee shop in the Central West End of St. Louis.

Every time he appeared in our lives, it was a venonomous, vicious emotional experience. And forget child support. He was too busy taking cruises, remodeling the house and dating women who had a creepy resemblance to my mother.

There's more (e.g., stealing our savings accounts, leaving weird p*rn where it could be easily found, getting fired from jobs for harrassing women and stealing), but it's probably nothing original. You get the idea.

At 17, I dropped him out of my life. No big emotional explosion, I just stopped making calls and disappeared. I left town for college and went on to Chicago after that. If I saw him at a family gathering, I stayed the hell away from him. I occasionally cross paths with him at my grandmother's nursing home. That kind of thing. He's smart enough to make polite conversation and stop at that.

My birth certificate shows a female version of his name as my middle name. I changed my middle name when I changed my last name. And my children have absolutely no idea who he is.

PPR has remained close to him. She's fully aware of what and who he is, but has made that decision. I'll never understand it, but we've agreed to disagree and leave it at that.

The brother to whom I am closest has about the same kind of relationship with our father as I do. He caused too many problems with the sister-in-law. Big Bro finally told him that he'd wrecked two of his own marriages, but he wasn't wrecking this one.

The other two maintain friendly relations. Close? I don't know. None of my business. Call it our very own "don't-ask-don't-tell" policy.

But the important thing is that everyone has respected my stance and my decision. They have never, ever questioned it.

Ok, so what the hell, Val?

He's dying of cancer and has one year to live.

PPR is very emotionally involved in this, so my concern is for her. I've encouraged her to get in touch with both of our SIL's, both of whom have dealt with this with their mothers. I've also told her that I'll do whatever she needs me to do.

So here's the question: Am I supposed to do something? I honestly don't feel motivated. I mourned him a long time ago and have been a healthier, happier person without him. I don't feel an obligation to him due to a biological connection. I figure that he blew it. And blew it. And blew it again. And seriously, he's not a normal person.

I talked with U-Dad about this. He said that if I wanted to write some kind of letter assuring him that I was fine, that my life was good and the future looked bright for me and my children, that I'm no longer angry, etc, that that might be fine if I wanted to do some human kindness to a person in his situation. U-Dad agrees with me that he's a stranger at this point, so a Lifetime Channel movie ending is ridiculous.

PPR says that he has a great many regrets in his life, and that I'm one of them.

Being aware that we're talking about a permanent change in our circumstances here, I've removed him from the "block" list on my Yahoo account. I figure that if he wants to reach out, that he's the one on the clock.

Several of you are regular readers with your own pasts and circumstances. And I get to take advantage of being "cyber-friends" while still maintaining anonymity. So if you have an opinion, feel free to share in that poll thing over there. You can choose more than one answer, if you like.

In the meantime, I need to put a little one down for a nap and cajole the older one to practice her piano sometime before her lesson today.

Neither are happy about it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Quick Check In From The Mother Ship

Hi All,

Just popping in for a quick hello from St. Louis. As you may know, Best Namma Ever! doesn't know of this humble blog. And Her Husband is always hovering around the office where the computer is. So I'm finally getting a moment alone. And it's late, so I'll be brief.

I have......

gone to Wal-Mart (aka: Wally-World). I love Wal-Mart. Tons of everything and at stunning prices. I forgot my makeup (the shock! the horror!), so I had to grab some things.

gotten the oil changed and had a scratch in the car fixed. Luckily, Urban Dad hadn't noticed it before we left. I've never been so grateful for the sun going down early and for owning a black car. I told the service guy at the dealership that if I couldn't get perfection, that I at least needed "plausible deniability." I got plausible deniability. And for free, even. It looks only like a door ding from another car, and not like I made the dumb-ass move of trying to get around a tight corner and hoping that the dumpster there would somehow magically scootch over an inch or two. (hey, if it's the biggest secret in our marriage, i'm doing okay.......)

went back to the dealership to get about five more things done. But U-Dad knew they were coming and approved. And they were actually a few hundred dollars cheaper here than in Chicago. But that scratch-fix was kinda paid for really.

gone to the mall...... where we got U-Kid 1 outfitted for winter. She now has Lands End's warmest coat, snow pants, boots, mittens and hat. All purple, per her request. I figure that I can rationalize that we've only really spent half of what it cost, assuming that we can eventually put Urban Kid 2 into all of it too. also........ let U-Kid 1 jumped on the trampoline thing where she gets the bungee cords strapped around her hips and jumps herself up to the second floor of the mall. She thinks it's heaven.

gone to Sam's Club with Best Namma Ever!. Got a portable DVD player. Put the portable DVD player back on the shelf after starting to add up how much money we're spending.

talked with Urban Dad, whose mom is in the hospital of the swanky resort town where she resides. She fell and broke three ribs. Then came home. Then fell again, this time breaking her arm. And needing fluid drained from the lung near the three broken ribs. Seems that vodka doesn't have much calcium in it. Who knew? (except everyone) He's debating a trip out there the day after Thanksgiving. In the meantime, he's on the phone with his two brothers. A lot.

talked with Urban Dad, who told me to relax about the money. We don't blow all that much on stuff we don't need. And we need teeth (we're each getting a tooth fixed), winter clothes, and brakes and transmission on the car. "You're alone in the car with two kids for six hours -- go get the portable DVD player!"

sent U-Kid 1 off to Sunday School with BNE!. She loves it. And we don't belong to a church in Chicago. U-Kid 1 gets to BNE!'s church about a half dozen times a year, so I'm hoping that some of it sticks. I didn't tag along because BNE! wasn't going to the service, due to her own logistics.

told off Her Husband at the dinner table. In front of the kids. It needed doing. BNE! and Pink Power Ranger approved.

had wine with BNE! and the PPR.

played Uno with BNE!, the PPR and U-Kid 1.

learned that U-Kid 2 can lock the bedroom doors.

been beaten at Uno by U-Kid 1.

had chocolate martinis with BNE! and the PPR.

visited a few blogs.

taken a few naps.

visited Not the Best Namma Ever! at her nursing home, about a 30-40 minute drive from BNE!'s.

visited my long-time good friend Julie and her family, a quick five minutes from the nursing home, but always about fifteen for me because of one simple turn that I. always. miss.

And that's about it. We'll run around wrapping up a few of the "oh, and I meant to do this and that" kind of stuff tomorrow (e.g.: go back to Sam's for that DVD player), then return to Chicago on Wednesday.

Hope all is well in your world!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We Interrupt This Blog to Bring You This Long-Winded Message

It's not my goal to make this a terribly political blog. I doubt that I'll re-visit this topic after today. So if I piss you off, give me a bit of slack and come back again sometime. It's supposed to be kind of fun here.

Ok, so what's on your mind today, Urban Mom? Well, let's put it this way. I live in Chicago. But I didn't vote for the Chicagoan. In fact, there's not one single Chicago politician that I would vote into national office. But there ya go, America. Welcome to the Chicago machine. May it be more productive for you than it has been for us.

Anywhoooooo, I'm not in the habit of talking politics too much except with those that are the very closest people to me. There are a few reasons for this:

One: I am polite. Politics. Religion. It's personal. And don't assume that you actually know someone's thoughts on a topic, no matter how much "surface chatter" you've had with them. (And I'd really appreciate it if presumptive people who are utterly clueless about my core beliefs would quit sending me inane e-mails.)

Two: I live in Chicago. My political views put me square in the minority on this topic. I don't need the hassle. I know who I am and what I believe. And I don't need to put it on a bumper sticker or button (i mentioned not needing hassle, right?) You want to go in a different direction? Vaya con Dios. That's the beautiful thing about this country. But have the decency to stay the hell off my back. I've learned that the people who can do that, plus actually express respect for my different point of view and still find me endlessly adorable, to be a rare and wonderful gift. That's you, Sara M. and Lucy.

While on The Mommy Circuit, I have been literally right next to people as they have called me "narrow-minded" and "uneducated." I sit politely as they gush over who went to the rally and who didn't. And when I'm outed? I'm no longer a dynamic person with charming, intelligent daughters who is married to the twice-elected Teacher of the Year at Great Big Urban High School. They no longer see that person. They see a drooling mouth-breather. And if a few people aren't careful, I'll be a drooling mouth-breather who quietly takes my business elsewhere.

Did I mention that I once stood behind a fellow voter took a bunch of hassle from a neighbor? She point-blank asked him, "why do you even live here?" Geez, why not just say, "we don't like your kind around here?" On the ballot that day -- Jack Ryan vs Barack Obama for the Senate seat. As she went up to vote, I leaned forward to my fellow voter and quietly said, "it's refreshing to encounter a kindred spirit." This allowed us to exchange a few kind words. Given another minute, I think we might have developed a secret handshake.

And then a few days ago, somone who thinks she knows me joked, "if you're voting for the right guy, then go for it. If you're not, then just don't bother voting." Yeah. You're hilarious.

And so this is my world. I'm surrounded by buttons, t-shirts, hats and bumper stickers with The New Guy's name. I drive past entire brick walls of buildings with his countenance painted on them, like some leader of a third world country. I simper quietly as people gush. It's cool, though. The Urbans know who we are and don't need absolution from anybody to know that we're a good bunch. An educated, open-minded bunch, thankyouverymuch.

And y'know what? I hope that The New Guy is all that, plus that bag of chips too. I mean that out of concern for our country, which I believe to be an amazing place. I truly hope that something good comes out of this, because if it doesn't, then we're all in a pile of trouble.

And why do we live here? Because Chicago is a wonderful place. Yeah, you don't want to look too closely at who's running it, and the weather is crap, but the history, architecture, diversity, distractions... it's all here. The world is quite literally at our doorstep. And we're excited about showing it to our kids.

In the meantime, the U-Kids and I are off to St. Louis tomorrow for a visit with the folks. One raised two kids as a single mom getting no child support from her psycho ex -- she can now afford to write a check for the house she left penniless thirty years ago. Another is an engineer who designed both fighter jets and medical technology and who was Special Forces in Vietnam. Another runs his own business and thirty years ago snuck his toddler daughter out of Germany to get her away from her unstable mother. Another also runs his own business, has been married for twenty years and is raising his son in an environment much different (aka: better) than what he grew up with. Another straps on Kevlar and stays up all night so that you don't have to. You know, the "uneducated" and "narrow-minded" folks that produced the Urban Mom.

NOW. Back to your regularly scheduled blog entry.
What do you suppose the new First Daughters will name their puppy?
Checkers, anyone?
By the way, I smell bacon. And who took my lipstick?

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Car Ride With Urban Kid 1

Hey Mom.....

why do church bells ring?
what's the opposite of Montana?
how far is the sun?
how big is the sun?
how are crackers made?
can you count to a million gazillion?
will you take me to Russia someday?
tell me again how your brain knows when something hurts?
is Aunt Pink Power Ranger awake or asleep right now?
do you think Daddy wrote any bathroom passes yet today?
tell me something about when you were little.
tell me something else about when you were little.
what's an anniversary?
why are reptiles called reptiles?
how many roads are there in China?
how do you build a car?
how many cars are there in the world?
why is a person called a person?
how many days until Halloween again?
why isn't every day Halloween?
why do we have Halloween?
how do we get babies?
how does the baby get out?
who was the first president?
who was the best president?
who was the worst president?
what was the first state?
what was the last state?
why was it the last state?
what was the middle state?
yeah, the 25th state. which one was that?
why is it called the united states of america?
why are there twelve months in a year?

Now. Extrapolate that out to six hours. Which we will be doing next Thursday, as we return to the Mother Ship of St. Louis in order to hang out at Best Namma Ever!'s house. Pray for me.