Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy 3rd Birthday, Urban Kid 2!

Three years ago today, our youngest -- and last-minute -- tax deduction came into the world.  And in a strange turn of events that I have yet to see in a shortie, Urban Kid 2 is denying that the day is happening!  She began her day by rolling over on her stomach, shoving her head under her pillow and declaring, "it's not my birthday!"  And all day long, she has denied the day.  I have a "Today Is My Birthday" button that I let each Urban Kid parade around on their special day; Urban Kid 2 has tried several times to take it off.  When we ask how old she is, she insists that she is still two.

Yes, my Urban Kid 2 is all girl.  Denying that her birthday is happening and lying about her age!

Frankly, it's an approach that I'll likely copy at my next birthday.........

Happy New Year, Everyone!



PS: Sorry about the privacy thing.  I had to hand over my new little Asus friend to my future BIL for an overnight visit. I became concerned about if he could see what websites I'd surfed.  And siit'nce my little corner of the blogosphere here is my deep, dark secret, I had to take a small precaution.  Hopefully, he did not also stumble across the "How To Make It Look Like An Accident" website that I was perusing.  (Ok, really, I'm over-exaggerating terribly on that one.)

PPS: Uptown Girl, I love my new little Asus 1005!  Try to get a six-cell battery, as it lasts almost as long as I'm on line.  And indulge in upgrading it from 1GB to 2GB -- speeds things up and makes streaming video nice and clear.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Going Private For 24 Hours Only

Hi All!  I'm going private with the blog, but only for 24 hours.  Will be back shortly and will openly available.  If I don't catch you beforehand, Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Checking In Before Checking Out

Oh my GAWD, where have I been???

New Year's Resolution:  Be a better blogger.  Well, better about blogging.  Whether I yammer on about anything all that interesting is clearly subjective. 

Latest here:  I have a new little friend.  It's an Asus Eee PC 1005HA netbook.  It was on sale at Best Buy.  I scored it in a deep red with a 6-cell battery.  I can now be one of those cool people I see in the lobby of my gym clicking away on their laptop.  Or at the coffee shop.  Or even in my living room.  But you see, we don't have a wireless router, and I'm not all that interested in getting one.  I figure I'll use my new little friend where there are secure networks.  So while I click around at home, it's only on places that do not require a password.  Shame.  I can see something like 20 networks on my screen!  But they're password-protected... the nerve of people, huh?  I even saw one that said "REALTOR_NET," which it turns out is my real-estate landlord who lives above us.  Did he pick up on my casual mention that I saw his network?  That I only do password-related stuff when not at home?  Did he offer his password to his favorite tenant ever?  Hmph. 

Also, we're packing up to head to Best Namma Ever!'s house for Christmas and probably New Year's.  Urban Kid 2's birthday is 12-31, so we may stay to celebrate.  Lord knows that no one else is going to consider hanging out with a toddler and her family to be a rockin' way to spend NYE!  And it's nice at BNE!'s.  We relax.  We have built-in babysitters.  We see movies.  Sleep in a bit.  It's all good.

The Urban Kids are overpacked.  I'm overpacked.  (can you tell we're driving)  Urban Dad has packed up all sorts of schoolwork to take along (some things don't stop until June).

I hope to blog a bit more from Best Namma Ever!'s.  SHE has a wireless router.  And after Pink Power Ranger's computer geek fiance gets my new little friend all suped up (Windows 7 for free!) and installs the extra memory that I've ordered, then no one else will see that I have my deep, dark secret blog.  Which is good, because I may or may not have referred to PPR's fiance as her "weenie boyfriend" in the past. (ahem)  But more on my evolving feelings on that situation later.

But hopefully not too much later!

In the meantime, Merry Christmas, if that's your thing.  And if it isn't your thing, well, I'm sharing the love anyway!

As Urban Kid 2 is saying lately, "Police Navidad!"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Another Good Reason That God Makes Kids Short

We Urbans live a few short blocks from a neighborhood theater.  (ok, it's Chicago... who doesn't live near a neighborhood theater, right?)  I think Back In The Day it was a movie theater, but now it's used for live stuff.  It seems to be well-attended too, which is great.  It's always nice to have people come by and drop off their money in our neighborhood!  And living in a neck of the woods that believes itself to be quite edgy... but in a cushier-than-Wicker-Park kind of way... the marquee can sometimes be interesting.

Now keep in mind that Urban Kid 1 is 6yo.  And chatty.  And full of questions that she is not afraid to ask.  And if she thinks that you haven't heard her, she'll ask again and again and again because surely you are not ignoring her in the hopes of avoiding the topic or maybe completing one or two thoughts inside of your own head before checking back in. 

Oh yeah, she's a damn good reader too (if I do say so myself...ahem...).

So recently, this theater had this show advertised in BLACK AND WHITE AND IN ALL-CAPS:


Now I'm not much of a prude.  At least, I don't think I am.  Maybe the guy at the coffee shop who sometimes goes by Paul and other times by Kathy depending on his wardrobe choice of the day might disagree, but really, I think I'm pretty hip to the goings-on in the world.  And frankly, I think the title is pretty funny!

But how exactly does one explain that to a then-5yo?

So I'd distract her by pointing things out that were more at here eye level.  Or, if it was equally (in)convenient, I'd go a slightly different route to get home.  No big deal.  We live here in the city; this can be part of the package.  Becoming a busybody about it would make me a very lonely salmon swimming up a very strong river, anyway.

The show left, a few others have come and gone that would not attract questions that would involve me stammering a bit before finally saying, "ask Daddy to explain that one to you" -- things like Kathy Griffin or Mary Lynn Rajksub (or however you spell her name).

Now these doofuses are back.  With the theater marquee loudly advertising it, because really, in the economy that we're in, who doesn't have money to plunk down to watch a couple of guys diddle themselves?


Yes, back.  They've been here before.  But it was before Urban Kid 1 could read, so no big deal.

I'm open to suggestions on how to explain it!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Potayto, Potahto

Backstory:  As we are unpacking from our trip to Best Namma Ever!'s house in St. Louis for the Thanksgiving holiday, Urban Dad is holding a pair of socks in his hand that he has just removed from his luggage.  I am gathering things up to start a load of laundry.

Me:  Dirty socks?

Him:  What? (distracted, looking through his bag)

Me:  Dirty socks?

Him:  (looking at me and brightening)  Uh.... Yeah!  Sure!!  Okay!!

I look puzzled at his enthusiasm and hold out my hand to gesture for the socks.

Him:  Oh.... Dirty SOCKS(looks disappointed and hands them over)  I thought you said "dirty..." well, nevermind.....



We all hear what we want to hear, don't we? 

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Lazy Excuse for a Post

Yeah, it's not really a post today, but I love the new show Community. And at the end each week, Abed & Troy do some goofy antic in the library as the credits go by. I'm fond of this one because it's the kind of dumb-sh*t thing that I would get caught doing.....
(except to you, of course!)

Friday, November 6, 2009

THE Pink Power Ranger

As you all may know, I refer to my police-officer little sister as Pink Power Ranger here on this blog.

Meet one of her sisters.


Kimberly Munley, the civilian police officer who shot the Fort Hood gunman, sustaining wounds of her own during the confrontation.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

For June Cleaver A6P & Smook

June Cleaver After A Six-Pack and Smook, the two people most responsible for corrupting my otherwise intelligent, mature, dismissive adult self....

Nature Calling


The picture over there is the view from my bed.  Ok, Urban Dad's side of the bed.  Y'see, our Urban Apartment two-flat was built in the 1920's, so you can forget an ensuite bathroom.  This is what serves the top floor. (we expanded a few years ago into the basement, but that's another post)

Now my point... because I usually get around to one...

Urban Kid 1 is now 6yo.  Therefore, she is old enough now that we don't have to be concerned about her trips to the bathroom at night.  She used to come to our doorway and whisper as loudly as one can while still whispering, "I have to go to the bathroom!"  Since Urban Dad's side is closer, he would gallantly leap out of bed and escort her to her task.

Now that she no longer needs even an escort, she just goes in on her own.  Somewhere in my sub-conscious, I hear the clunk of the lid flipping up, then check back out until the ker-flush at the end, followed by a loud plunk of the lid flipping back down and the squirt of hand sanitizer.

So I gently suggested to Urban Kid 1 that just in the middle of the night, she could skip the ker-flush and head quietly back to bed like a big girl does.  She adamently nodded her head in all of her First Born eagerness to please and all excited to do just as a big girl does.

Fast forward to the next time she has a nocturnal call of nature:

I hear the clunk of the lid flipping up and fade back to sleep.  Next is the clunk of the lid flipping down and squirt of the hand sanitizer. I'm fading from semi-conscious back into dead asleep during the moments of silence after this.  Little did I know that Urban Kid 1 did not go straight back to her bedroom.  She was hovering in our doorway, taking a deep breath before announcing in her loudest possible whisper that isn't really that much of a whisper:

"I didn't flush the toilet because I didn't want to wake anyone up!!!" 

This has gone on for months now.

I want to point out the lack of logic of the announcement, but Urban Dad keeps holding me back. 

"She's trying to be nice.  It's sweet!"
"But she's waking us up!"
"So what? It's cute."
"Not as cute as me sleeping."

And so we go on. 

I'm often warned about wishing these years away.  I certainly see the charm in them, don't  get me wrong.  Lord knows that I'm aware that in about ten years both of the Urban Kids could very well hate me. 

But I'm also kind of looking forward to a time when I am only concerned with my own trips to the bathroom!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Because It's Sunday Night...

and so I have school tomorrow on my mind...

I recently was on the receiving end of two comments about homeschooling:

Scenario #1:

"You're not like a typical homeschool mom."

This was meant as a compliment by a very nice young woman.  But I was left wondering...

HUH? 

What exactly are her expectations of a homeschool mom?  Was her intent to say that I exceed them somehow?
How many homeschool moms has she encountered? 
Were they enough for her to make an assumption about an entire group? 
Would she say something like this about any other group?  For example, "you're not like a typical gay man?" or "you're not like a typical white woman?"
Just about everyone to whom I mention our educational decision for our kids responds that they know someone who has done or is doing this, so are we all that "fringe" anymore?   (more on that topic here)

Scenario #2:

There's a public school at the end of our block.  On the weekends, the neighborhood kids often play there, whether they attend the school or not.  One particular mom asked the inevitable question that follows, "How old is Urban Kid 1?" after learning that she is six:  "Where does she go to school?  Here at the Neighborhood School?"  Upon my truthful and cheerful reply, she emphatically shared that some people who homeschool "really offend" her.  She expanded on it having to do with the teaching of creation theories.  And then repeated how "really and truly offended" she was on the topic.

She then turned her back on me, not really interested in hearing my response.

Ok, seriously lady?  That offends you?  Frankly, my own plan for that particular topic is to teach Darwin's thoughts on it for Science and the other schools of thought on the topic under the umbrella of Philosophy.  I do not plan to teach the Urban Kids that either school of thought is offensive. 

Frankly, since becoming a parent, and especially since exploring educational options, I have come to the heartfelt conclusion that your children are yours to raise.  Outside of doing the obvious abuses of them (because that is actually offensive), parents should be allowed to raise their kids any way they want.  You want to go up to the top of a mountain, pour purple ink all over yourselves and chant at the moon?  Knock yourself out.  Don't get me wrong -- it's highly unlikely that your kids will be having too many playdates with the Urban Kids -- but as a parent, if you're otherwise stable and that's your idea of recreation, then it's your right to go right ahead.  I'll be left scratching my head, but I won't work myself up to being "offended" about it.

This decision is proving to be the best option for our family at this stage of life.  It matches with our educational goals and our values.  (while religion was not an overwhelming factor in the decision, values definitely were; you could say they're related, but let's actually meet in person for coffee for that chat, shall we? i promise to not get offended.)

Ok, back on track --

I would not expect that this decision would be the best option for your family.  I would enthusiastically share what I've learned and send you in various directions for your own research, but never in a million years would I be offended at whatever decision you might make for your kids.

Urban Kid 1 socializes -- yes, folks, she spends time with other children, is invited to birthday parties and play dates, etc -- with kids from all over the spectrum of life.  She lives in a neighborhood known for its gay population.  She is buddies with a neighborhood kid who goes to a $21,000 a year private school instead of the one at the end of our block.  She is buddies with a kid who goes to a tiny Catholic school instead of the one at the end of our block.  She is buddies with a couple of kids who go to the public school in the next neighborhood.  Another buddy attends a Montessori school all the way in Evanston instead of the neighborhood school!  She is buddies with kids of various religions, ethnicities and incomes.  Most of the parents of Urban Kid's buddies have diametrically opposing political views as our own (some assume that we agree because we are too polite to delve into what could be an "offensive" argument, but that's a different post).  Urban Dad stands in front of students who are quite literally from all over the world; we make it a point to get the Urban Kids up there to hang out.

And for the most part, we're a private bunch.  We wake up each day and go about our business.  We practice good manners when we leave the house.  We get out and about and do fun activities and make friends.  We don't assume that others are offensive because they're going about things in a way that would not work for us.

I figure that we're all shooting for the same basic goals, and that we're all finding our own roads to getting there, be they stereotypical or not.  And that this is cool -- not offensive.

Perhaps I'm over-reacting.  I'm certainly giving it more time than it all deserves.  It just all gave me a bit of pause.

Viva la difference.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary, Urban Dad!


Seven years ago today, I finally came to my senses and made my Urban Boyfriend my Urban Husband.  Eleven months later, with the arrival of Urban Kid 1, he became Urban Dad.  I was scared to death of marriage and parenthood, but he was patient.  Ok, and persistent.  And then patient some more.  And I think that he was still a little nervous after Urban Kid 1 was born. 

Hey, did I ever tell you that Best Namma Ever! and the Pink Power Ranger were devising backup emergency plans once they learned I was pregnant with Urban Kid 1?  They recognized that the biggest commitmentphobe and least domestic person in the family was knocked up.  Fortunately, they didn't tell me that until I was thoroughly and blissfully settled into life as Urban Mom.

Anywhooooo, read more details about our slighly unusual engagment and wedding here.


So we're getting a babysitter -- a real, live babysitter!!!! -- and heading out for an overpriced, yet truly wonderful dinner here



We get dressed up in our Sunday Best and go here every year for our anniversary, and it's always perfect.  We look back over the time we've had so far and make big fantasy plans for the future.  We point out other tables where we have had other anniversary dinners.  We recognize how well and truly blessed we are to have the happy life that we do.

It's my favorite meal of the year.

Lest I get too serious, however.......


Monday, October 26, 2009

Field Trip Week... Fail??

Well, I was just all bursting with ambition over taking the week off of Regular School and doing Field Trip Week.  We were going to get out there and soak up all kinds of piles of educational splendor available to us folks lucky enough to live in the bustling metropolis of Chicago.  Except there was one problem:

The Urban Kids weren't into it.

Yeah, I know....

So here was the plan, and where the plan fell apart:

Monday:  Lincoln Park Zoo

We had our folder of Animal Observation Sheets and were going to carefully take notes on a few animals.  I had checked out the website the evening before and was aware of every feeding, training, Meet An Animal chat that the zoo had that a.m.  I had packed lunches for the three of us and stuffed them into my Mom Purse.

We happily ran around from animal to animal.  We met a box turtle, watched an otter do flips off of the glass, saw the gray seal get its feeding & training.  After much pleading from Urban Kid 2 to "see the juh-waffs," we stopped by the giraffes. 


We ate our lunches in a windowless room in a basement where people who bring their own stuff are banished.  (people who pay $6.75 for a peanut butter & jelly sandwich get sunlight and chairs that are not flipped over onto the tables, thus reminding us that yes, you get what you pay for sometimes)  We rode the merry-go-round when U-Kid 2 was dozing off.  But I should have just let her fall asleep, because we scored a cushy new "kneeling" bus that was virtually empty for our trip home.

We spent a long stretch gazing at the monkeys.  They returned the favor.

Realizing that we were running out of time as far as U-Kid 2 needing a nap/avoiding a meltdown, I told Urban Kid 1 that we could see the kangaroos (an animal we have studied) or the polar bears (an animal we are going to study), but not both, as they are at opposite ends of the zoo. 

She opted for the polar bears, so off we dashed to find...... an empty pen.  No bears lounging in the sun.  No bears swimming in the pool.  No access to any indoor observation place.


peek-a-boo, i *don't* see you!
Ah well, it was basically a pretty day and a good way to spend it.  We came back home, did the nap/quiet time that Urban Mom loves to pieces likes to give the kids, and did an afternoon outside class for Urban Kid 1 (i'll list the stuff we do on the left there, but sorry, not telling where we are on which days).




Tuesday:  Shedd Aquarium


I was trying to hustle the Urban Kids out of the door in order to get there by 9a when the Shedd opened.  We got there bright and early, and therefore scored metered street parking -- my big goal, since garage parking is $19, so yay me on that one.  However, the Urban Kids were crabby!  Urban Kid 2 was making her opinion of this particular trip very clear by throwing things and splaying herself across a bench and otherwise making a complete jackass of me spectacle of herself.  And Urban Kid 1 did not show the slightest interest in any animals.  And, we went to the Shedd on Tuesday because it was advertised as a Free Day.  So what does Free Day mean to YOU?  Because to the Shedd, it means, The Good Stuff Is Not Free; We Will Lure You Down Here And Then Demand $35 To Show You The Good Stuff Like The Dolphins or Penguins or Even A Damn Jellyfish.

Sigh.  It wasn't the money.  It was the principle.  They dangled a day of free fun in front of a family of four living in the city on a teacher's salary.  And then they welched on it.  Feeling punk'd grumpy about it, we checked out a few displays, Urban Kid 1 actually listened for a few minutes to the feeding at the tank in the rotunda,




we ate our little lunches again -- but I had to bail out because U-Kid 2 was screeching and flailing -- and headed outdoors. 

It was just as well.  It was a beautiful day outside.

So they ran and played and picked every little flower they could find and joyfully brought it to me.  Joyfully!  Finally, a happy moment on Tuesday!

Then we remembered the little playground area between the Field Museum and the Shedd.


And then we remembered that our parking meter was about to expire and headed back to the car.  Because if I wasn't going to pay $35 in Lie To Me Money admission fees, I sure wasn't going to pay $75 for Stupid Tax a parking fine.

Wednesday:
Hey Urban Kids, want to go to the Museum of Science & Industry?



Naaaaahhhh.

Yeah, but it's free every weekday this month.  It would be fun.  It's Field Trip Week.  You want to go?

Naaaahhhh.

And so I had to ponder picking my battles.  And it was the last 70-degree day that Chicago will see until May.  We will be buried alive in several feet of snow before we know.  Last winter we had -18 degree days before factoring in the windchill.

And so we blew it off and just took the day off completely.

We went to Ulta and picked up makeup for Urban Kid 1's Halloween costume (Cleopatra).  We went to CVS and picked up necessities.  We meandered the neighborhood.  We went to the ramp behind a neighborhood church and ran up and down the ramp and some staisr, gathered leaves into a pile and then threw them around.  We met friends at a playground and played until the sun went down.

(And I have secret plans to possibly meet our neighbors at the MSI later this week.  ssshhhhhhhh.....)

It was perfect.



Thursday:

Hey Urban Kids, you want to go to the Butterfly Haven at the Nature Museum today?  (again, a free day)

Naaaaaahhhh.

Would you rather go to the Butterfly Haven or do regular school?  (ha ha, now i have 'em)

School.

Wha'???  Really???? (high pitched and quite shocked)

Yeah. The Butterfly room is hot.

But that's the point!!!

Mmmmmm..... let's do school today instead.

(scratching head)  Ummmmm.... okayyyyy.... I guess. 



Friday:  was never going to be a part of Field Trip Week, as we have three different outside activities stacked up like planes circling O'Hare on Fridays.  I do not want to mess with Fridays.

I'm thinking that the next shot at this will be Field Trip Month.  One Field Trip a week for a month.  Build some anticipation maybe.

Shrug.

There are worse ways to spend a week.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Gettin' Schooled

Oh my, I have been lazy about my blogging. Terribly lazy. Who-da-thunk that this homeschooling thing would take such time. Every.day. Well, every.week.day. Combine that with a recent thinning of my bloggy mojo, and you get a lazy blogger. I'm assuming that the thin-bloggy-mojo is cyclical. Afterall, I'm a girl -- I come wired to assume things are cyclical, I guess.

So here are the highlights:

School. As in the {Urban} Country Day Academy. {fill in our real last name in the brackets} It's mentioned in the URL of this site and in my friendly introductory paragraph, which is much like myself IRL -- friendly and chatty, yet guarded to the general public.

But to the point. {Urban} CDA is named that because I grew up in St. Louis, and the hoitiest of the toitiest schools there were This-N-That Country Day Academy. Find one of the Busch kids or a kid of an executive for AG Edwards, Purina, McDonnell Douglas (now BOING!BOING!BOING!), a kid of a baseball player, whatevah, and you'd likely find him/her at a school with the term Country Day Academy in the name. I went to a public school that was pretty good at the time, but that I wouldn't send my kids to now, no-how, no-way. And the MIL -- oh, the piece of work that is the MIL -- wanted the Urban Kids to go to one of Chicago's hoity-toity private schools. She offered to foot the bill, even (post financial aid filings). But here's the thing -- she's an evil psycho. And Urban Dad & I were not going to dance on her strings.

So {Urban} Country Day Academy. Under Illinois law, homeschoolers are considered their own private school. {Urban} CDA only allows two students and no more, so there ya go -- pretty damn private, huh?  The tuition is pretty reasonable for a boarding school.  And no pressure to carry a $200 purse to Geometry class or to feel like a loozah because you didn't spend Christmas in Portugal.  And when you pack up your studies to visit the St. Louis campus (aka: Best Namma Ever!'s house), you can rest assured that you won't have to do squat.

We're about six weeks into school now. We're finding our routine; Urban Kid 1 & I are finding our groove. She can't stand Math; I am resisting letting her opt into the Girl Who Hates Math stereotype. She's been informed that when she finishes this:


and this:


that they will drop from the schedule and will not be replaced by anything new.

This makes her happy because she knows that when we finish this:


that this will come immediately on its heels:


She's doing 1st grade Math, Writing, Handwriting, History & Science; 2nd grade spelling; reading at almost a 4th grade level. If she was in the Chicago system, she'd have started Kindergarten six weeks ago.

She has a daily list that varies a bit from day to day. When we finish something, she gets to take her write-on-wipe-off marker and scratch -- ok, slash -- it off of the list.

The whole thing that we're doing here is very structured and procedural. It's how her parents are wired, so it's how she has to roll right now.

That said, now that we feel like this is actually working and my muttering fears in the back of my brain that I am going to be an abysmal failure at this whole weird idea and irreversably wreck two innocent human beings along the way are quieting down, we're blowing off most of this week.

It's Field Trip Week!


More soon!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Oh Say Can You HEAR?

A friend of mine posted in on FB today, so of course I immediately nabbed it (after many public thanks!) and posted it myself.  And I'm posting it here, too.  Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to YouTube to look for more.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Paging Urban Mom

Woah!  How much time has passed?  How much????

It's been a little crazy around here.  And I've been a little lazy by the end of the day.  Y'see, I have this theory that if I get a big more sleep that I'll be more pleasant of a homeschool mom the next day.  And my theory is proving correct.  And since we have desktop computer that involves me turning my back on two small children in order to even begin to focus on a blog post, let alone actually write one, well, you get the idea.

But we've been at the school thing for about a month now, and I think we're hitting a bit of a stride.  Urban Kid 1 is getting the idea that we have made a decision, that this is the decision, that this is the routine and that if she gets with it that there will be rewards.  For example, one particular day of the week is very light for us around here.  We cart around to three different classes, so school stuff in between is also light -- a math review sheet, a history coloring page, what-have-you.  Well, Urban Kid 1 has been invited over to a buddy's house for an a.m. playdate before he heads to afternoon kindergarten.  If we get everything done, we can throw this playdate into the mix and completely blow off school that day.  Because, you see, this is a break for me as well!  Everybody wins!!

And besides, there have been perks.  As we walked to meet a friend of mine for lunch last week, we strolled by the school at the end of our block (yes, there's a school at the end of our block, and we won't send her there) and basked in the knowledge that we got to go to Bamee Noodles in the middle of a school day!




Or that today we got to stop into the nail salon because mama was in desperate need of an eyebrow wax:



Of course, this involved stopping at the library on the way home, so really, it was an educational errand!  Really!


So it's been a lot of this with Urban Kid 1:


And a lot of this with Urban Kid 2:




And some of this with both of the Urban Kids:





While trying to get in some of this once in a while:



And so, in the hopes of making you smile for being kind enough to stop by, I'll end with this, another picture from one of Pink Power Ranger's Facebook posts (it's her cat):


June Cleaver A6P posted something similar the same day that PPR posted this on Facebook, so I hesitated to put it here.  But what the heck.  There's just something funny about a totally pissed off cat, isn't there?

Well, until you have to go to sleep that is.  Damn nocturnal critters.

More soon!  (i really really hope)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Control Issues + Nostalgia = Weird Post

I love office supplies.  Is that weird?  There's something that makes it all feel like a fresh start is so possible, like the potential of a new season or a new undertaking is within reach, even just at your fingertips.  It's one of the things that I like about Back To School Season... even more so than New Year's Eve or my birthday, I feel like a whole world of possibilities and accomplishments are within reach.  All I need is the exact right calendar.  Or the exact right notebook.  Or the exact right desk organizer.  Yeah, the reality is that it usually ends up as unnecessary.  The exact right calendar has turned out to be my phone (lovin' my Palm Centro for that one). 


And the exact right notebook right now is either the Memo section of said phone, or the long skinny notebook that I picked up for $1 at a now-forgotten stop on Road Trip 2009 that has this on the cover:



And desk organizers don't work for the Urbans.  Piles of My Stuff and His Stuff work better.  Don't touch the pile that isn't yours, and domestic peace will reign.

But I did like shopping for notebooks and such that I need for Urban Kid 1's school stuff for the year.  And I used to like that during school for myself.  Elementary school, junior high, high school, college, back-to-college, teaching.....  loved shopping for school supplies.

And tonight, I learned that the good people at Mead have re-launched this.

I'm a child of the 80's.  And frankly, said childhood was a bit weird.  Maybe even a lot, depending on who I'm standing next to.  (compared to U-Dad, I lived a life of stability and sunshine comparable only to an old black and white family sitcom... hence our thick filters around the Urban Kids)

But this.

What is it about this that glosses over so many memories?  The fact that I could control so little, but dammit, I could control this much?  I could control the outcome of one freakin' thing?

I suppose shrinks -- or preferably my long-time friends -- would have a few thoughts on the topic.  But of all the school supplies that I ever loved, I loved my Trapper Keeper!

And now, it's back!


I don't need one.  I'm all set on my organizational system for this school year.


I've always been a bit suspicious of nostalgia.  For example, I've happily passed on two high school reunions so far. 

But still.... Maybe I need to stop into a Staples or Office Depot just to ... y'know ... look at it.  No harm in just looking at it, right?

(Y'suppose I need to get out more?)

Friday, September 18, 2009

12-Point Font for that?


I first took typing in the 7th grade at Kirby Junior High School in St. Louis.  I took to it immediately and banged out perfect papers.  And "bang them out" is pretty much how it happened, as we all sat in a room (unairconditioned, at that... gawd, i'm old) full of mechanical typewriters.

I remember my maternal grandmother saying, in her slow Southern Illinois drawl, "welllll, that's niiice.  That way you knooow you'll allwaaaays haaave a job."  This was followed by a nod that I'm sure was meant to be reassuring, God rest her sweet soul.

In my youthful arrogance, I thought, "pfffft!  Lady, I'm going far!  I'll have people for that!"

And being a lightening-fast typist has served me well in life.  I flew through getting papers done in high school.  Well, okay -- having a mom who worked at what was then McDonnell Douglas and asking her to transform my hand-scrawled notes into beautiful reports sometimes helped too.  And in college, I earned a few extra bucks typing up other folks' hand-scrawled notes.

I can also spell, and bad grammar makes my skin crawl.

You get the picture.

As I worked my way through college in the TV Production field, being able to type quickly and accurately made me helpful and handy when typing in names, titles, stock prices, pledge numbers, what-have-you at various TV stations around Peoria.  And these minimum-wage jobs (this was when it was a whopping $4.25/hr -- gawd, i'm old) kept me motivated to look for my first "real" job.  The one where I would "have people for that."

Want to guess what my first "real" job was?  The first one that brought me to the glamorous world of downtown Chicago? 

Typing scripts.

But one thing led to another.  And from that crappy --yet air-conditioned -- job came a slightly less crappy job.  And then a bit of a better one.  And then I got to try doing that project.  They let me use a phone to book talent, even a studio.  I got to produce a few things.  I got to feel mildly important inside of a strange microcosm that gives itself lots of rewards for selling deoderant, beer, diapers, prescription drugs, etc.

So what's your point, Val?

When I was in this microcosm, I met a cute guy down the hall.  And he worked in a Chicago Public School.  As a result, he did not have handy access to a computer at the time.  He had graduated from college years before.  He could peck his way around a keyboard, but it took forever.  He couldn't spell his way out of a paper bag (ironic for an English teacher, eh?).  His tests were hand-written -- the horror!

So what did I do after a few dates with the cute guy down the hall?  I invited him downtown after school so that I could type up his tests for him on my shiny corporate computer in my Stuart Little-sized cubicle.  He could take me out for a bite as thanks.  What's not romantic about that? (eye roll)


Seriously, Val.  The point already? Any point at all will do.

The point is that it is now about fourteen years later (gawd, i'm old).  And I am still typing to earn my keep!  (ok, it's only one of about 100 things i do, and it pales next to the 1,000 things he does).

Urban Dad informed me that recommendation letter season has started -- he has AP Juniors, so they come back as Seniors and ask for recco's for the college apps.  And bless his big heart if he doesn't use a form letter, but writes one out for each and every sweet darling.

And he has two tests to get together.

And I think some other stuff.

So you see, folks?  My grandmother is laughing her butt off at my arrogant dumb self!  And that's okay, 'cause I kind of am too.

See you after the weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Glimpse Into The Mind of Urban Mom

Ok, ok.  This whole blog is meant to give you a glimpse into the machinations of my thought process.  But I thought that this particular post might give you an idea of where I come from, of my roots, yes, of my relationship with the Pink Power Ranger.

You see, PPR & I have nothing in common.  We have always had utterly different lives.  I was a straight-A, club-involved Varsity athlete in high school, she wore a black leather jacket and walked from the front door of the school straight to the back door; I live in the city of Chicago, she lives in the far-flung suburbs of St. Louis; I went from corporate drone to high school teacher to homeschool mom, she straps on Kevlar, packs heat and goes into situations that we regular folks would run the hell away from; I'm married with two kids, she sleeps late and does whatever the hell she wants with her own money.

You get the idea.

However, we also have everything in common.  While we are complete polar opposites, we have some "interesting" characters in common and the unusual common history of our goofy family (and let's just add that she and I share the same feelings regarding Her Husband).  She and I share a sense of humor that might be called, well..... dark.  Urban Dad does not share this sense of humor, so I don't get to show that side too much at home.  But you can imagine how PPR hones hers during the course of her work week.

Here's our idea of humor:

This exchange took place while I was visiting Best Namma Ever! and using her computer late one evening.  Keep in mind that until this moment, I saw the Skype icon on her desktop, but didn't really understand what it is until I heard a *ding* and saw PPR's note.  This is my first-ever Skype conversation!

[10:34:58 PM] PPR: Hi Mommy!


[10:35:45 PM] Me (pretending to be BNE!): Hi Sweetie, how are you?


[10:36:57 PM] PPR: Just fine. Tired. Ran a LOT of errands today. Going to paint my bedroom tomorrow.


[10:37:12 PM] PPR: Will still be there by 3 though ;)   


[10:37:14 PM] Me (pretending to be BNE!): What color?


[10:37:23 PM]  Me (still pretending t be BNE!): Don't be late.


[10:37:42 PM]  PPR: An earthtone beige with a hint of yellow. I can bring you a swatch of it.


[10:38:09 PM]  Me (continuing to pretend to be BNE!): Would love to see it. By the way, I have to tell you something important.


[10:38:23 PM]  PPR: What


[10:38:32 PM] PPR: No one can see this but me.

[10:38:35 PM] Me (just eating up this delicious moment): Valerie is my favorite.


[10:38:48 PM]  Me (giggling my hiney off like a 12yo): BWAAAAA HAAAA HAAA HAAAAAA


[10:38:58 PM]  PPR: I already knew that. You make it quite obvious.


[10:39:48 PM]  PPR: I got kicked out onto the mean streets to fend for myself when I was only ten.


[10:40:16 PM]  Me (only kinda being BNE! now): Ten? Gee, I must've been really drunk. I thought you were twelve.
{note to reader: it's ok; BNE! is not and has never been a drunk}


[10:40:23 PM] PPR: I had to walk to school in blizzards and you drove by slowly with Valerie-waving and smiling.


[10:41:08 PM] PPR: It's okay. Now I carry a gun and I am perfecting my knowledge of crime scene staging.


[10:41:19 PM] PPR: Bwaaaa haaaa haaaa haaaa


[10:41:45 PM] Me: You can be late tomorrow.


[10:42:38 PM]  PPR: I thought so. Wench.

[10:42:57 PM]  PPR: Heee heee


[10:43:38 PM] Me: Heeee heeee back atcha.


[10:43:42 PM]  Me (as BNE!): Nighty night!


[10:43:51 PM]  Me (as BNE!): "mommy" is sleepy


[10:44:32 PM]   PPR:  Go sleep it off. See you tomorrow. Try to keep the pain killers and liquor in their respective bottles and out of your tummy.


[10:45:20 PM]  Me (as BNE!): but the dreams are so much better if i mix them. i dream that i'm single....

Ok, maybe PPR and I are the only ones that get it and find it funny.  Maybe it was a "you had to be there" kind of moment.  And maybe "you had to be there" moments that happen in cyber-space are that much harder to translate to other people later.

But I'll confess that I'm strangely looking forward to using my mom's computer again on my next visit!

BWAAAA HAAAAAA HAAAAA!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Good Time Was Had By All

Well, Urban Kid 1's sixth (SIXTH!!!) birthday has come and gone.  And I think that we've convinced our little Ski Trip Souveneir that she did actually have a birthday party.  Actually, it was more of a Birthday Weekend.  And judging by her behavior today, well, let's just say that re-entry to regular life can be a real b*itch.

But on to the good stuff!

On Thursday, we did the bare minimum of school.  It was a drop-dead-beautiful day outside, plus her birthday.  So when asking her to do anything at all, it was "but it's my birthday!"  And frankly, I could see her six (SIX!!!) year old logic.  So we knocked out a reading lesson, just enough math to say that we did some and a spelling test (100%, thankyouverymuch).  Then it was out into the beckoning sunshine to go for a walk and eventually, oh-so-coincidentally, happen by the nail salon, where U-Kid 1 scored a mani-/pedi- and her mom who her gave her life treated herself to a pedi.

A few hours later, Best Namma Ever! and Her Husband (who insisted on tagging along in order to feel wanted relevant included) arrived.  After meeting and greeting and oooo-ing and ahhhh-ing, we all piled into the UrbanMobile and went to Spanish class.  BNE! took U-Kid 2 to her Moms and Tots class, U-Kid 1 ran off to hers, and HH and I walked and shopped a bit.  At the end of Spanish, I brought in balloons so that U-Kid 1 could pass them out to her classmates.  Thank Gawd we brought extras, thus curing any possible tears from younger siblings right then and there.
I dropped off BNE!, HH and U-Kid 2, picked up Urban Dad and taxi'd U-Dad and U-Kid 1 downtown for what seems to be their annual Birthday Date.  I dropped them off at the Sears Willis Tower and picked my way through traffic, grateful that U-Kid 1 has such a wonderfully attentive daddy (my sister, the Pink Power Ranger, was stood up on her sixth birthday by our bio-dad).
On Friday, while BNE! took U-Kid 2 to Art Class, HH, U-Kid 1 and I went to our local Caribou Coffee and walked a couple of coffee canteens to our local police station.  HH managed to do minimal Embarrassment Damage, U-Kid 1 charmed one of the officers out of a very cool Junior Officer badge and I was happy to see that someone had already brought them a huge tray of bagels and cream cheese.  And I was heartened at how sincerely they said, "you tell your sister to stay safe" as we said good-bye.
On Saturday, it was party time!  U-Kid 1 awoke with "how long til 1:00?"  Followed by, "how long now?"  and "how about now?"  Finally, her three friends arrived and we were off.  We loaded them into a cab (a minivan cab actually happened onto us -- hooraaaay!) and took them to North Michigan Ave for a horse-drawn carriage ride around the city.  Four little girls, two adults, two cameras being passed around, lots of tourists to wave at and an astoundingly beautiful day!  As we passed by the Park Hyatt, we saw a crowd waiting outside.  Seems that they were waiting for this guy to come out:
U-Dad knows me well enough to have immediately and directly instructed me to stay put.  *sigh*
After a lovely ride, we loaded into two cabs (no luck with a minivan this time) and headed back to our neighborhood candy store, where we loaded the young ladies with cake and passed out princess cake toppings, balloons and goody bags.
U-Kid 1 is convinced she had a party.  We are convinced that we didn't have to shell out $500.  BNE! continues to be convinced that her grandkids are the most beautiful little girls ever born.  U-Kid 2 is convinced that we are fascinated with her every trip to the bathroom.  HH is convinced that we enjoyed his company.  And I am convinced that I have not aged a single day in the last six (SIX!!!) years.

Yep. A good time was, indeed, had by all.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Happy 6th Birthday, Urban Kid 1

So much to tell about your arrival, but no time.  As ever, I'm up too late.  And as ever, I'm behind on blogging.  But know that you turned my world upside-down in the best possible way and made me learn things about myself that I might otherwise never have.  And you drive me absolutely nuts sometimes, but hey, that particular thing kept me interested in Urban Dad while we were dating, too. 
Urban Kid 1 @ 3 months old
I hope that I've served you well enough, so far.  I hope that God still is ok with his decision to send you to me.  And I hope that you'll be kind if you write a book someday.
Forever yours,
Urban Mom
PS: My behind-on-blogging will continue for a few more days, as Best Namma Ever! and Her Husband arrive today for the weekend.
PPS:  Try to take some coffee or cookies or something to your local firehouse or police station on Friday, if you're so inclined?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

First Day of... Something

Urban Dad Returns to Great Big Urban High School tomorrow morning.  No more looking at the clock three times before finally deciding that 8:30a is plenty late, and we should get moving.  No more curling up to him before he gets up.  No more of seeing the hot guy at the gym splayed across an exercise ball getting a thorough core stretch and thinking, "well thank YOU" only to realize, "hey wait, he's MINE!"  The road trip for the year is over.  The bigger projects are done.  It's time to give him back to his students.

Crap.

The Urban Kids & I will call tomorrow our first day of school.  Well, sort of.  Urban Kid 1 & I started dabbling through history a few weeks ago -- nothing formal, just sort of figuring out the routine -- and are in Ancient Egypt right now.  The Chicago Field Museum has a permanent exhibit called Inside Ancient Egypt.  Real mummies, a mock village set up, a free tour at 1p.  Oh, and tomorrow is a free day!  So I figure that rationalizes driving and paying for parking (Urban Kid 2 can still be a bit of a wild card; when it's time to leave, it's time to leave.)

Spanish & Piano classes also start this week.

Sigh.

But I've nothing to complain about.  It really has been a wonderful summer!

Now let's see what we can work up for the rest of the year.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dr. McSwimmy

Because last year I did this post on Michael, and it got me the most comments all year...

Because Michael is a young 'un and does not qualify for Flavor of the Month...

Because I strongly oppose censorship... especially today...

Because all too often, the ladies who generously stop by there have so kindly been there for me, so today it is my honor to be there for you...

Enjoy.