Tuesday, September 14, 2010

My, That Pendulum Can Swing Both Ways

After yesterday's Raving Lunatic Mom rant, I am overjoyed to report that the Behavior Pendulum has come back my way.

Today, Urban Kid 2 was beeeeyond excited to help me put together dinner.  We did it this afternoon, -- one of those Campbell's Cream of Whatever-chicken-noodle-veggie casserole things -- covered it in foil and stashed it in the fridge, all the while with her beaming with pride and feeling ever so grown up beyond her sweet 3 1/2 years.

Later came (insert dum-dum-dum-ddduuuuuuuuuuuuummmmm music here)..... The Dental Appointment.  I reminded her repeatedly of how yesterday's Doctor Awesome appointment went, of how the rest of Urban Kid 2's day went as a result of it, of how she was going to tell Urban Dad how her day went today, etc.

And at The Dental Appointment, after a skittish start in the waiting room, she was all Love And Sunshine.  I had to lay in the chair with her as something of an extra layer for her to stretch out on, but she opened as wide as she could and all but thrust her face up at the doctor.  She cheerfully and politely answered the dentist's questions.  Finally, I told the hygienist that she could have Urban Dad's next paycheck if she managed to both clean Urban Kid 2's teeth and get the fluoride treatment done.

Urban Kid 2 obediently kept that mouth open, occasionally clutching my hand along the way.  And no, I'm still not sure about how I'm going to explain things to Urban Dad.....

Six months ago, the dentist barely got the quickest of glances into Urban Kid 2's mouth, acknowledged that we could forget about even trying for a cleaning and didn't even bother charging for the appointment.  

Perhaps the dentist will come with me to the next pediatrician appointment?  If she's especially brave, perhaps the grocery store even?

PS:  Pink Power Ranger is preggers -- due in early May!  Best Namma Ever! is going to be a Namma again!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Mother of the Flippin' Year

Today, I was that mom.  You know the one I'm talking about.  The one publicly upset with her seemingly impossible children.  The one that makes people snicker thoughts about how it's no wonder that the kids are like that, given the crazy woman who is their mother.

Yeah, today I was that mom.

Urban Kid 1 turned seven (SEVEN!!????) on Friday.  And so, she had a pediatrician appointment today in order to clarify that, indeed, she continues to be the picture of health and beauty.

Here's the thing about Urban Kid 1:  however she may be in private, she's always "on" in public.  She can be counted on to be polite, upbeat and interested in what's being said.

Urban Kid 2 is the Wild Card.  Especially if Urban Kid 1 is doing her spotlight thing.

So today, the (late) doctor (finally) comes into the exam room.  I like this doctor.  I've thought the world of this woman from the moment she took my cranky three-day-old Urban Kid 1 from my exhausted, exasperated arms and swayed her into a long, peaceful nap while asking me questions and offering suggestions in a way that stayed on this side of gentle without crossing into that side of condescending.

And there she was, Doctor Awesome, chatting away with Urban Kid 1.

You can fill in the blanks on Urban Kid 2's reaction????  She kicked and fussed and refused to be still.  She yelped and pouted and said, "NO!  I WON'T be quiet!," making my efforts to quell her seem, well....., impotent.  And Doctor Awesome took the lead and warned her that she needed to quiet down because Doctor Awesome could not hear to do her exam of Urban Kid 1.  And Urban Kid 2 continued to pout and kick, nearly kicking Doctor Awesome, who was crouched down to chat with and look at Urban Kid 1.

And then it happened.

Doctor Awesome's voice took a stern tone that I'd never heard before and told Urban Kid 2 that she had to go into the hallway, now.

And I gratefully took the opening in the situation that Doctor Awesome offered, scooped up Urban Kid 2 and sat her down in a timeout outside of the exam room's closed door.  I gave her an earful, too.  And yeah, I was hoping that Doctor Awesome was hearing some of my diatribe.

Finally, Doctor Awesome asked me to come back in for the rest of the exam, since a parent needs to be in there for certain parts of it.  And Urban Kid 2 had cooled her jets a bit.

Later, as I was checking out at the receptionist's desk, Urban Kid 2 asked if she could have a sticker.  I bent down low to her, nose-to-nose and said in a nearly murderous voice, "did Doctor Awesome have to boot you out of the exam room because you couldn't behave?  Yes?  The no, you may not have a sticker."  I then stood up to face the receptionist, smiled pleasantly and sweetly said, "I'm sorry, how much do I owe you?"  God bless her, she gave me a genuine smile and said, "Don't worry about it -- I have two of my own at home!"

From there, it was off to the grocery store, where both kids turned on each other and on me like little cats.  It was on the cart, off the cart, she's on my side of the cart, you're too big to ride on the cart anyway, stop whining at your sister, quit tattling on your sister, do not run out of this aisle, etc etc. 

At last, I became that mom.  The one that you can hear in the next aisle chewing out her ferrel children.  The one who stares at them for a beat as they stare back, takes her hands off the cart, says "forget it, we're not getting food today; you two can tell daddy why" and walks away from the cart and them.

Yeah, that was me.  A shining moment.

But my Urban Kids were smart enough to have an "oh sh*t, what if she's serious" moment and chase me down the aisle, pleading to go back to shopping.  Heck, maybe they were just too clear on how very little food we actually had at home!

I don't know what Urban Dad did when he (finally) got home, but he knew the story coming in the door.  And the next thing I knew, a sobbing and repentant Urban Kid 2 was in the kitchen sniffling about how sorry she was and how she loved me and how she promises to be better tomorrow.

Me too, Urban Kids.  Me too.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Another Summer Day

Urban Dad & I had slightly different mornings.  Feel free to vote for the one you would prefer:

1.) Get ready to go, wait for a few extra minutes as Urban Kid 1 frantically yells, "WAAAIITTTT!" because she wants to go with.  (such a chicago phrase that i've fully adopted... "go with."  next i'll be hitting my a's super-haaaaard and putting an "s" at the end of things; e.g. "nordstroms")

2.)  Roll eyes slightly as Urban Kid 1 comes out dressed for the prom.  Who am I kidding?  I'm just jealous that she can dress herself better at 6yo than I can at 40yo.

3.)  Walk to dry cleaners.  Drop off the three dresses that the Urban Kids insist on wearing every waking minute of every single day that we are not out on the playground.

4.)  Walk to Ulta. 
I'm sick of wearing Warmth even though Warmth (snickering tone here) is supposed to look so amazing on everyone.  Everyone except me.  So I rub Warmth (snickering tone whenever I say the word) on the back of one hand and Faux Tan on the back of the other.  Ask Urban Kid 1 which one she likes better.  "Faux Tan, Mom.  It doesn't have as much red in it."  Just tosses off the observation -- a fully correct one -- and looks at something else.  I decide to buy Faux Tan and give Warmth (guess my tone?) to Best Namma Ever! because she's one of the everyone-but-me that it looks amazing on.

5.)  Check out at Ulta.  Manager-type asks, "Where's the little one?"  I smile and explain that she's at home with Urban Dad, that we're going to take a break from bringing her into Ulta for a while.  (between you and me, it's impossible to look at anything, what with the shortest Urban thinking that the sample bar eyeshadows are fingerpaints and then launching her sunglasses when told they are not)  The manager-type smiles and looks sympathetic, which I consider pretty kind.

6.) Walk to library.  Hang out for a looooooong time because it's nice and cool.  Watch with pride as Urban Kid 1 takes book after book, reads them to herself, go gets a few more books, reads them to herself.  Hmmmmm.... who do ya suppose taught her to read?

7.)  Watch as Urban Kid 1 takes her library card out of her purse -- the only thing in her purse -- and checks out a pile of books, beaming with pride because she has her very own library card in her very own purse.

8.)  Walk past local school playground on our way home, lugging a bag full of books and hearing her complain (correctly) that it is entirely too hot.  See her friend S. there, who she hasn't seen all summer long.  It doesn't seem so hot all of a sudden.

9.)  Feel bad for her when she goes down a slide, but her dress goes up enough that her bare skin skids really fast on the searing hot plastic.  Perhaps dressing for the prom wasn't such a good idea.  S. has to go to karate, so U-Kid 1 decides she wants to go put an ice-pack on her tush.  Urban Dad calls her SkiddyTush once or twice, which makes her giggle.

Phone Call #1:  From his mom.  She's mad because Urban Dad put the ka-bosh on her 11yo standard chocolate poodle coming to live with her in the small, immaculate, luxurious, smell-free home.  Says that he's betrayed her, that it's as if he's taken away one of her children, that he's a bad bad man.

Phone Call #2:  From the Salvation Army rehab place where BIL #1 is now residing rather than go to jail (hey Lindsay Lohan! you're an amateur!!).  It's a six-month program.  BIL #1 has been there four days.  SA-Dude says that BIL #1 is saying in group chit-chat that his mother is worth $10 billion and that he used to play for the NBA.  Plants seed in U-Dad's head that BIL #1 may have burned out enough wires that SA may not be the place for him.

All of this said, the Blue Angels were practicing today for the Air Show and all four of us went for our almost-daily hit of Italian ice at the IcyBox. We walked the U-Kids over there, stopping several times to gawk at the F/A-18's roaring overhead while the girls cooed, "coooooool!" over and over.  And there was a fresh batch of chocolate-chocolate-chip waiting for us when we got there.

And that's the kind of stuff that makes everything feel better, right?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

She's Baaaaaack

{Puff, puff, puff}  Is this thing on?  {tap, tap, tap}  Anyone out there?

Y'know how you think that summer has finally come along?  And that you're so excited to have a "manny" for the summer?  And how that is going to open up bags and bags of time for you to ponder your little blog and do regular posts like you keep saying that you're going to do? 

Yeah, I thought so, too.  But as you can see, not so much, right?

Here are a few Cliff Notes of the summer so far.  I'll try to fill in some details as the summer wraps up.

1.) We did the annual Urban Family Road Trip.  The trip included couch-surfing at Best Namma Ever!'s house in St. Louis, inviting all kinds of people over on the 4th to watch Urban Dad blow up BNE!'s front yard (that man looooves July 4th),

saw a movie or two, took advantage of free child care, got Urban Kid 2's half-birthday pictures taken (her birthday is December 31, so it's silly to do it then -- she just looks like the Christmas card all over again), etc etc.

2.) We hit to road to Albuquerque, where Urban Dad's dad and stepmom live.

 We had a lovely visit with them and even had a just-the-two-of-us day trip to Santa Fe while the Urban Kids got some hang time with Grandpa and Grandma. 

breakfast in santa fe

Now, the last time Urban Dad & I had a just-the-two-of-us day trip to Santa Fe, we came back with Urban Kid 2.  I don't see that quite happening again, but if you ever wonder what that turquoise ring is on my right hand, well, Urban Dad gave that to me the next year so we can look at it and giggle (and ironically enough, it's Urban Kid 2's birthstone).

3.)  We went on to San Diego, the Big Goal of the road trip.  I had never been, and I loved San Diego, traffic and all.  We threw the Urban Kids into the Pacific Ocean, their first time in any ocean, and they absolutely loved it.  We also did Sea World, which was lots of good fun.  Then another day in the ocean.  We may fly back out there some time and just hang on the beach for several days.  It looks like the Urban Kids would dig a beach vacation.

4.)  We did a quick toodle up to northern CA, zipped across the Golden Gate Bridge and quickly bailed out of SanFran.  Keep in mind that we are Chicagoans, we live near Wrigley Field, we know traffic, but the traffic in SanFran freaked out even our hardy souls.  Yep, SanFran is its own animal.  We'll tackle that one separately in a future trip.

5.)  We headed to Colorado to check in on other in-laws and to meet folks that we've spent hours and hours (esp Urban Dad) with on the phone for the last several months, namely MIL's doctor and the CPA that is her Financial Power of Attorney.

 ***** side note:  did i mention that MIL was diagnosed with degenerative dementia and that BIL #2 found her a lovely place in Boulder in which to reside and that U-Dad is Medical Power of Attorney and that BIL #1 is a drunken, freeloading, wife-beating loser who was refusing to leave MIL's residence in Swanky Resort Town, CO and that U-Dad and Financial Power of Attorney need to put MIL's residence up for sale???  ******

6.)  We went to Swanky Resort Town, where Urban Dad had his drunken, freeloading, wife-beating loser brother arrested and thrown into jail -- where he'd just gotten out a few weeks prior, mind you.  He and Financial Power of Attorney then started assessing just what needed to be done to repair an otherwise reasonably nice place that had been turned into something resembling public housing (a sight...and smell...that I won't soon forget).  He and FPofA also started plans to start packing BIL #1's and his always-leaving-and-returning wife's stuff and getting it shipped the hell out of there.

7.) More details on #'s 5 & 6 to come later

8.) Listened to U-Dad lose.his.mind on always-leaving-and-returning SIL when she had the nerve to call him and ask why Urban Dad was being so "mean."  The Urban Kids may have learned a few new words.

9.) Headed to Boulder to see MIL's new place.  Urban Dad & I plan to save our money carefully so that we can end up in someplace as lovely!  BIL #2 did a truly wonderful job of finding a place for their mom.

10.)  Dinner in Boulder with MIL, BIL #2, his Groovy Kids and our Urban Kids.  Ate Chinese food on the deck and watched the kids jump and play on the trampoline while ignoring the elephant in the room that was "your son put your other son in jail."  The eldest Groovy Kid -- a boy who has worked my last nerve since his toddlerhood -- impressed me with his attention, kindness and patience that he showed Urban Kid 2.  Maybe he and I are both growing up a bit.

11.) Back to St. Louis and to the ever-loving arms of BNE!.  The Urban Kids then stayed at Grandma Camp for a few extra days while Urban Dad and I returned to Chicago to get our wits about us.

So how's your summer been?

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's the last day of school in Chicago!  Urban Dad is ALL OURS!

Now gitchyerself home, Urban Dad!  Let's get this summer started!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day Weekend In My Corner Of Chi-Town

It's Memorial Day Weekend, and things are looking up.

Ok, so the Cubs are in town.  And it's four straight days of afternoon games to add to the weekend traffic (honestly, what is it about a beautiful weekend afternoon that makes people want to get into their cars and drive around Lakeview and Lincoln Park?).  And the fact that it's the Cubs-Cardinals series adds to the mayhem.


I scored my favorite parking spot.  It's right across the street and between two driveways, hence none of the unwashed masses of other cars can park either in front of or behind my precious freedom machine.  This is especially satisfying since we will do everything in our power to not move the car during this busy weekend.  Yep, I get to enjoy seeing my car actually directly across the street from my home, with no other cars around it for at least three straight days.  (those of you familiar with city living will understand my joy about this)

It's actually nice this weekend!  Usually, Chicago weather does not understand the concept of Memorial Day Weekend.  It prefers to stick to the concept of Halloween weather.  Or St. Patrick's Day weather.  It takes until about July 4th for Chicago to fully embrace Memorial Day weather.  But not this weekend -- this is going to be an outstandingly gorgeous weekend!

Having grown up in St. Louis -- a fantastic baseball town, especially coming of age in the 80's like I did -- plus that all of my family is still there, well, I take special satisfaction in the fact that my Redbirds opened up a good ol' fashioned can o' whoop-ass today on those pitiful Cubs.  I may be 300 miles from home, but I'm seeing a lot of drunken festive Cardinal fans around the 'hood this weekend, and let's face it -- Cardinal fans are happier people in general because, well, they have reason to be!

It's Urban Dad's 52nd birthday tomorrow.  And let's just say that he copes with birthdays far better than yours-truly does.

We're down to just Writing, Grammar and History to wrap up for school.  And Urban Kid 1 is enthusiastic about going you-know-what's-out with me in order to finish things up.  (i think i have a better handle on scheduling/planning now, but that's another post)

My sister, the Pink Power Ranger, is now an honest woman!  Well, at least I think she is.  I haven't exactly heard from anyone yet!  But she and her man (i still need a nickname for him) took their moms on an Alaskan cruise and got married on Tuesday.  Yes, they took their moms on their honeymoon!  Aren't they sweet kids?  That said, they made sure that their room was on the other end of the boat, 'cause, well, (whispering) they want babies right away.

And BIL #1 hasn't called once tonight.  (knocking on the wooden desk under my keyboard)  Perhaps having spent a few days "indisposed," legally speaking and at taxpayer expense has helped?  He's now forbidden to indulge in the Demon Alcohol for a while, and has people popping by for social visits that involve one of those cups manufactured for a certain specific medical purpose.  This, has slowed down the drunken-dialing, perhaps?  It won't last, of course, but let's all just take in the quiet while we can, shall we?

Yep, looking like a great weekend!

Many thanks to everyone in our military, past, present and future, that make weekends like this possible!!!  We Urbans, truly and with all our hearts, are grateful beyond measure!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Swear I'm Gonna Grab The Next Soldier I See And Kiss Him!

On the cheek, of course, although I think that Urban Dad would give me a pass on this one.  But you get what I mean.  I can't figure out how embed the video properly, so just click on the linkety-link here.  You may want to have a hanky nearby.  Thanks Outlaw13 at Threedonia.com!  For the video and everything else that you do!


Posted using ShareThis

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Random Thoughts To Catch Up

Oh my, but we've been busy here!
First, and most importantly:  Urban Kid 1 finished her reading primer!

I started this with her a few months after she turned three and just worked through bit by bit, a nibble at a time.  She's now blowing us away with her reading skills.  Urban Dad is sweet and wonderful and says that I'm a fantastic teacher.  But honestly, I know what I'm working with here, and I attribute it to two things: 1.) she has her father's wiring and 2.) it's a totally bitchin' reading primer!

D'ya suppose I should write the lovely Mrs. Jessie Wise and tell her that her OPG book is "totally bitchin'?"  I would, of course, mean it as only the highest possible praise!

Ok, what else......

MIL has been hospitalized for the foreseeable future with dementia.  New Doctor is trying to gently suggest that it's degenerative, that this is just the beginning of the end.  Everyone else is maintaining an appropriate "wait-and-see" attitude.  Urban Dad is the go-to guy on several things, as he is now Medical Power of Attorney.  MIL's lawyer is Financial Power of Attorney.  Between the two of them, they've managed to carve BIL#1 out of the financial picture as much as possible -- checking account is on lockdown except for MIL's bookkeeper, credit cards are cancelled, mail is forwarded, etc.  And BIL #1 made a great big freak of himself at MIL's care facility, so they've banned his presence, both in person and over the phone.  And they're sharp enough to know that the guy claiming to be Urban Dad as he tries to call his mom 6x/day is not actually Urban Dad.

After the week that led to MIL's hospitalization, the phone calls, legalities, questions, details, and finally, the running out of our 500 monthly cell minutes (we never come even close to that before!), I quietly told Urban Dad one night, "y'know what? I'm proud of how you've handled everyone and everything. You've been absolutely amazing though all of this."  This got me a look in the eyes and the response, "You know that this ride is only getting started, right? That this is only the beginning of a long, crazy time, right?"  I know he's right, but it's what you get when the world at large recognizes you as the 180-degree polar opposite of your lunatic brother who attempts to jack-up every single movement that the normal, hard-working people around MI try to do.  (yeah, it was a long sentence. i waved my hands around and yelled a lot in my head while writing it, too!)

And BTW, Urban Dad has been right.  Oh-so-freakin'-freak-show-right.

Urban Kid 2 is starting to read.  And she's reading her first sentences.  And she wants to do it.  And wow, she is SO freakin' proud of herself.  Care to guess what she's using?

After months of pleading, Urban Kid 1 "taught" Urban Dad's AP Juniors on Tuesday.  I forgot my camera and am waiting anxiously for s smattering of 17-yo's to e-mail me pictures.  But it's Wednesday night, and still nothing.....  But OMG, that kid was confident and brave and had so much fun.  Checking this off under "Public Speaking" at the Urban CDA.

Oh, and I bought a wireless router!  Then I returned it.  Stupid weak router that's strong enough to cover Best Namma Ever!'s entire ranch-style house, but is not strong enough to get a signal out of the concrete bunker that our downstairs level seems to be.  I'm at the gym right now on my little netbook friend, but will soon be back on BestBuy.com figuring out just how much I want to spend on a router.  Luckily, Urban Dad has a birthday approaching.  And while he has never actually touched the netbook, he has kindly suggested that he would like a router for his birthday.  Is he the sweetest thing ever???

Ok, gotta run.  I think the Urban Kids are asleep at home by now, so it's safe to return home!  That's the news for now!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Puttin' The "Fun" in Dysfunctional

I won't go toooooo far into the details, but here are the Cliff Notes.

Urban Dad is not one to let anyone lord false loyalties over him.  His family is utterly bizarre, with major events that have echoed for generations. 

Couple that with moving as often as any military brat (e.g.: three high schools in four years), and you can start to understand that he's able to chat easily with strangers, but is immensely private all at the same time.  He seems to have found a healthy disconnection from the madness -- and I swear he did it at the uncanny age of about ten years old.

I used to hesitate to tell him the weirdnesses of my family, but he always reassured me with, "what are you going to do?  SHOCK me??"  And then I think of the long, multi-generational craziness and come to the conclusion that my side of the family is now at the point where we can best be described as putting the FUN in dysFUNctional.

But not his.  In fact, I joke that U-Dad is like the blonde gal in The Munsters... the only normal one of a really freaky bunch.

Recently, BIL#1 has been caring for MIL.  It's too long to ever get into here, and not exactly appropriate to air too much stuff, but let's just say that the two of them have been running their own private insane asylum up in the mountains of Colorado.

Even more recently, a doctor has come on the scene.  Doctors have been on the scene before, but usually get fed up and leave.  This one is new, so we'll see how long he lasts.  But he seems quite nice.  He also seems to know bullsh*t when he sees it, and he's even managed to remove MIL from BIL#1's care and into a professional care facility.  And he seems to want to get a holistic view of his patient (MIL), to understand her history and the people around her.

I would also bet the rent check that after the short time that he's been involved on this scene, that he is no longer taking BIL#1's phone calls.  But that's ok.  Neither is anyone else, really.

Anywhoooo, I've been having the occasional chat with New Doctor.  Urban Dad can't be reached until after 3p, especially to discuss anything personal, so I get an idea of the latest news while maintaining my own radio silence with BIL#1 and MIL.  U-Dad then has an idea of what's coming when he talks to New Doctor or if he needs to place any calls to MIL's lawyer or bookkeeper, etc before returning ND's call.

Well, ND has dealt with a lot of families before this one.  And he did much of his training in Las Vegas, including psychiatric care.

And he told me -- in the kindest way possible -- that he has never in his career seen a more dysfunctional family.
 Later that night, when it was just U-Dad and me, we brought that up.  And y'know why I love U-Dad?  'Cause he didn't deny it or get defensive.  He just gave a small smile and confessed, "y'know, i'm maybe a bit proud of that one." I laughed and said something about, "in for a pint, in for a pound?"  This then had him laughing and saying, "go big or go home!"  Peals of stress-relieving laughter soon followed.

He's also decided that the dysfunction stops here.  The Urban Kids' exposure to his family is kept to a bare minimum.  Sense of humor and smart.  Such an amazing combination, right?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Are These People Crazy? Part II

First... ok, seriously, I know, we need a wireless router around here.  I have my fun little netbook friend, but can't get on-line at home with it.  And when I blog, I also like to make a few rounds and see other blogs.  And that takes for-ev-ah.  And there's a wonderful man upstairs hanging out alone in my living room.  He looks familiar, like I may know him or something.  I need a wireless router so that I can be in both my cyber- and real-life worlds at the same time.  Working on that......

In the meantime, we made a decision.  I went to the Open House for new families accepted into Are You Good Enough For My Little Girl? Elementary School.  I pored over every.single.line of the school's curriculum, which they kindly posted on-line.  I listened to the principal explain that they will have the same budget struggles, student-teacher ratio issues and having to scrap for funding as the rest of the system.  I did the school tour, looked carefully at each and every bulletin board in the hallways and the classrooms, peered over a few small shoulders doing their work and took four pages of copious notes and shared every word of them with a forever-patient Urban Dad. 

And while I found it to be a lovely little school, my heart just wasn't into the idea. 

Another factor was my intimidation about teaching science and technology (future posts about this to come, i'm sure).  At AYGEFMLG? Elementary, the 5th and 6th graders were preparing to go to the U of I in Urbana-Champaign for a Science Fair.  They had built nifty contraptions that were shooting tennis balls down the hallway.  And I knew that they were over my head. 

And I wondered what was wrong with me that I still wasn't more excited about the idea of this school.

But God provides, right?  I recently met another Classical homeschool mom -- turns out that our daughters are in soccer together and became fast friends.  And I was so excited when this mom carefully asked me one day, "Ummm, is my daughter right? Do you homeschool? 'Cause we do, too...."  Anywhoooo, this lovely lady is all tapped into the underground of urban homeschoolers.  (And durned if private little me may need to start networking a bit as the Urban Kids get older.)  She was so wonderfully interested in our decision-making process and so fantastically reassuring of the array of resources out there, that there is no need to re-invent any wheels here.

I flipped carefully through the pages covering science of  The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise.

Oh, and my attempts to subtly ask Urban Kid 1 what her thoughts were about school.... what have been her favorite and least favorite things this year... does she wonder about going to "real" school..... was met with her finally shouting, "MOM!  WHY do you keep asking me this? I do NOT want to go to school!"

Oh. Um. Ok.  Hey! Don't shout at your mother, young lady!

And then the kicker:

Urban Dad contacted the former principal of Great Big Urban High School (not the current one, who couldn't offer us much insight of any kind).  He gave us his impression of AYGEFMLG? Elementary -- that they're rather snooty, but it's earned, so whatever.  And he was enthusiastic about homeschooling.  In fact, about 15 years ago, there was a group of homeschooled 8th-graders applying for CPS's selective enrollment high schools.  Those In Charge were all britches-in-a-bunch because there were -- imagine this -- no test scores! They hadn't been tested! (imagine me pretending to wring hands here)  This former colleague of ours stood up and said, "I'll solve this problem. GBUHS will take them all."  And he did.  In addition, our former principal is now officially retired from CPS, but returns to various schools as a consultant for this-or-that.  After a long and successful career with CPS, including being principal of one of the largest high schools in America, his final thought on the whole topic?  "I don't know Urban Dad, what can I tell you?  The longer you can keep your kids out of the system, the better off they'll be."

It cemented in my head what I already knew in my heart.  I was done with the process, signed the rejection form and mailed it the next day.

Oh, and one more thing.  I downloaded all of that curriculum from AYGEFMLG? Elementary's website.  Thank you, AYGEFMLG? Elementary!

(LP, if you're reading, you know how i feel about the work that you, your husband and several others at GBUHS are doing!)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pros & Cons. AKA: Are These People Crazy?

Ok, so we're nutters for not leaping straight into the mix, right?  For not filling out the acceptance form rightthisverysecond and mailing it back to CPS HQ, right?

Probably.  (*shrug*)

But here are the beginnings of our conversations about Are You Good Enough For My Little Girl? Elementary:

AYGEFMLG?E is about a 30-minute drive.  One-way.  Every.single.flipping.freezing.morning.  It's a public school, so we'd score a school bus ride.  And maybe a school bus ride for her won't have the same nightmarish experiences that it does for so many because AYGEFMLG?E is a very small school with kids that come from all over creation corners of Chicago. But still.........

Or there's {Urban} Country Day Academy.  Very short commute.  All the way downstairs.  Or back upstairs for piano practice.  Or to the kitchen to look at our caterpillars.  Or outside to plant some seeds.  Or perhaps to the library.  On really adventurous days, it's a commute downtown to the Shedd Aquarium or Field Museum, what-have-you.

Score one for {U}CDA.

AYGEFMLG?E -- now we'd have two people in the house working around CPS's calendar.  And we'd have to do more of our adventures around town when the unwashed masses are also doing them.  Ew.

{U}CDA: Right now we have three busy school days at home, one lighter day due to an oddly scheduled art class, and a busy day of three activities jammed into one day -- so light on pencil/paper academics that day.  Cabin Fever?  Time to go on a field trip.  Tired of Everything? Time to go to do a few errands and find a playground on the way home.  Tired of Everyone?  Time for Grandma Camp, if she's available.

Score two for {U}CDA.

More soon.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Testing... testing...

Yep, testing.  It seemed like a good idea at the time!

Ummmm, Val.... what are you talking about?

Here's what I'm talking about.

In general, Chicago Public Schools are -- what's the word I want here? -- lacking.  But there are pockets of good things happening.  If your kid is reasonably bright and your neighborhood school is goofy (like ours) or just plain a combat zone, there are a few options.

You can take your munchkin to be tested for the Gifted and Academic Enhancement Program schools (aka: GEAP).  The test is free, paid by our tax dollars, and administered at the Illinois Institute of Technology by people who make a living designing, administering and assessing these tests for national use.  All you have to do as a Chicago resident is fill out the application, list the schools you like (as many as six) and wait for your letter telling you your test times.  And did I mention that it's free?

I  took Urban Kid 1 last year to for the Kindergarten test.  Just for grins, I put down the #1 and #2 schools in Chicago, which also happen to be the #1 and #2 schools in Illinois.  She had a lovely one-on-one chat with a trained test-giver-chick, came back 20 minutes later, and we waited for our results.

She scored in the 99.7th percentile.  Nationally.  She also did not get into either school, but whatevsky.  Our eyeroll, their loss, and they weren't going to get her anyway.

FF to last winter.  For first grade, there are two tests, depending on what kind of school you want (gifted or classical).  So I applied her to both kinds of schools and waited for our test dates.  Did I mention that both schools were once again the #1 and #2 schools?  Plus I threw a seemingly-snazzy school near U-Dad's place of employment into the mix too.  What the hell, why not?  And I did it laughing at myself because after last year's scores and rejection, what the hell did I actually expect, right?  And we're happy with our set-up here -- this is just us using the resources provided to us by our tax dollars.

The results arrived on Friday.

On the Gifted Test --call it sort of an IQ-ish, right-brain-ish sort of test -- she scored in the 94th percentile.  Yowza!  Neat!

On the Classical Test -- focused on math and reading -- she scored in the 99th percentile on reading and the 97th percentile on math. 


Oh, and she was accepted into the #1 elementary school in the state of Illinois. 

I threw the Urban Kids into the car and drove straight to Great Big Urban High School, where we waited patiently for his 8th period class to end.  I then told U-Dad, "put on your glasses now; you need to see this."  He looked at the letter carefully and got quiet... "oh great, she did beautifully, that's excitingohwowthat's interesting..."

More in the next few posts of our decision-making process, but rest assured that I have pored over every single line of every single page of Are You Good Enough For My Little Girl? Elementary's website.  And that's just for starters.

Check back soon.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stick A Fork In It!

And................ DONE!

Planning to celebrate with a trip to the nail salon for Urban Kid 1.  Because that apple didn't fall far from the tree. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Lunchbox Lure Works! (today, anyway)

I just wanted to say thanks to all of you for listening last week to my emotional hurlage!

When I picked up Urban Kid 1 from art class -- all bundled up and waiting forlornly in the waiting area while the rest of her class asked, "where's she going?" -- she quietly got into the car.  In fact, she was pretty quiet the rest of the day.  I almost started to feel bad for her, especially when I told Urban Dad my solution.  His response was to do a quick suck of air through his front teeth and say, "wow, I mean, that's pretty harsh, isn't it?"  When I launched at him with demands for his ideas to the problem, he quickly backed off, however.

This past Tuesday, Alien Urban Kid 1 did not appear.  At the first sign of a possible visit from AUK1, all I had to say was, "am I packing you a lunch or not?"  and whooooosh, AUK1 flew away and disappeared, leaving behind my lovely angel daughter.  She was perfect the rest of the morning.  She even asked, "how can I help, Mom?" a few times.  I almost didn't wake up from my faint in time to get her to art class!

There's another hook I'm using too: a cute pink watering can from Target.  (i looked for a picture to post, but i guess it's too small of an item)  She begged and begged for it when we were there.  I finally relented, but with a condition: she has to be good for one whole week.  The coveted watering can is on top of the fridge, with the receipt plainly visible from its top opening.  So far, her week of being good has started over... twice.  But I think she'll get there.

Y'know how there are books about pregnancy?  And about toddlerhood?  I'm thinking that I may see if there's some sort of Special Forces publication about Pych-Ops.  I may need it.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Keepin' It Real (as in Real Ticked Off)

Some people hate Mondays.  Not me.  Around here, it's Tuesdays.

Here's the backstory:  the owner of the place where Urban Kid 1 takes art class has a son who started 1/2-day Kindergarten this year.  Her son and U-Kid 1 know each other and have had a playdate or two.  And his 1/2-day of Kindergarted is in the afternoons.

Art Mom had a neat idea -- open an art class and offer it to the other families in her son's class.  The class is one hour and 20 minutes long -- a one-hour art class, then 20 minutes of eating together out of their lunchboxes before being picked up and shuttled over to school.

Art Mom kindly invited Urban Kid 1 to join the class.  U-Kid 1 LOVES this class.  She loves art, she loves carrying her Hello Kitty lunchbox, loves getting the best end of belonging to a class of kids. (i take advantage of the time to do a grocery run with only one urban kid)

She's also a raging beeyotch on Tuesday mornings.

Why?  I do not get it.  I try to do just a little school because after I pick her up, I can't get her back to school mode.  Oh, who am I kidding -- I can't get me back to school mode.

I tried pretending to "drop" her out of the class as punishment for a week.  Art Mom was right there with me on the "gotta fix this now because it's only harder to fix later" idea and worked with me (all the while saying that U-Kid 1 behaved like the perfect angel while in class).  Trouble is, the day that I was supposed to make my big show of her not getting to be in art class anymore was also the day that she was pretty much passed out on the living room floor recovering from the stomach flu.  She was weak and puny and miserable and pitiful -- and clearly would not have been in art class either way.

So we've blown that strategy.

Today, I'm trying something new to treat her Tuesday Morning Drama Queen Snot-itis.  She gets to go to art class -- we've paid for it through the end of the year, I'll be damned if I'm going to figure out any more make-ups for the class.  But she does not get to stay for the 20 minutes of lunch.  I'm not packing the Hello Kitty lunchbox.  I'm picking her up after exactly one hour.  She can put on her coat and go out to the car while her buddies sip on juiceboxes and munch on sandwiches.

I know that this is hard to believe after all of this, but she really is a sweet kid.  But for some reason, on Tuesday mornings, some alien being comes to visit.  Some whiny, disrespectful, dramatic little alien.

Thanks for listening.  Typing it out on the blog is much less painful that bashing my forehead into the wall over and over.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

On-Ramp To Spring

Whew!  February was a weird one around here! Wuh. Eerd.  (yeah, i know, that kind of loses its effect with a one-syllable word, huh?)

Well, it was all a bit of a whirl.  Or maybe swirl is the better word, if you get my drift.

It involved both Urban Kids getting strep, then yours truly, thus leaving Urban Dad as The Last Man Standing for a few days.  Just when we thought we had that all cleared out, Urban Kid 1 scored the stomach flu for about 24 hours.  Nipping on the heels of that was my 40th birthday.  (I'm sorry, but that still feels strange to say)  Best Namma Ever! and Pink Power Ranger came up to see the kids celebrate with me.  We spent enjoyed a free day at the Art Institute, then they babysat for free spent some quality time with the U-Kids while U-Dad took me to Lawry's for dinner.

When we returned home from dinner, we learned that the U-Kids had pleaded to drive back to St. Louis with BNE! and PPR for a few days of Grandma Camp.  (gee, ya don't suppose a week and a half of being cooped up sick gave them cabin fever too??)  BNE! was open to the idea, plus the DealMaker -- meeting me in Bloomington-Normal (about 1/2-way between Chicago and St. Louis on I-55) in order to hand them back off the next Monday.

U-Dad and I spent the weekend drunk and nekkid doing errands, going out, sleeping in and generally relaxing.  The next Monday, I retrieved the U-Kids in B-Normal from BNE! and Her Husband.  I got the U-Kids home, did our usual evening mayhem and settled in to relax.  Our Off-Kilter February was winding down.  I was looking forward to getting back into our routine, getting back to our activities and studies.

Then, the phone rang.

It was PPR.  At 10:20p.  Her shift starts at 6a, so she's never awake at 10:20p, so I knew it was an "oh, sh*t" call.  Turns out that our not-quite-99yo paternal grandmother had passed away that evening.  (If you've been reading here for a while, you may recall Not The Best Namma Ever! from a previous post.)

I called BNE! to inform her of her former-MIL.  PPR and her fiance (I'm sorry, but after all that the last few months have thrown at PPR, I can no longer call him a weenie boyfriend.  He's turned out to be a stand-up guy) started their 45-minute drive to let our bio-dad know the news.

So one day to collect ourselves, and then we were right back on I-55 on Wednesday.  Upside: the U-Kids were psyched to go back to Grandma Camp.

I skipped taking the U-Kids to the visitation and funeral.  It was at least 30 minutes from BNE'!'s house, plus Not The BNE wanted to be buried next to her husband, who she lost in 1942, and who is buried two hours away from St. Louis. For those of you keeping track at home, that's two hours back.  For a twenty-minute service.  And visiting for a few hours with distant relatives that I have not seen since childhood, several of whom I simply do not remember.  (upside: always good to see the my brothers-from-another-mother and their broods)

Just too long of a day for the U-Kids, especially for someone that -- sorry, but -- they didn't know all that well.  Plus, U-Dad and I thought that we should both be there for their first funeral experience (he stayed in Chicago, and I was totally fine with it).

Can I just add that I came back to BNE!'s house to find that she had not only watched the U-Kids all day, but that she had also made my favorite dessert?  All she would do is shrug and say, "I dunno, I just felt like it."  BNE! rocks.

Then back to Chicago for the last day of February.

Care to guess how much school got done?

I'm ready for March.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oh Joy

If anyone needs me, I'll be in the back of my closet with a bottle of wine, a very long straw, a Botox brochure in one hand and a Spanx catalog in the other.

Monday, February 8, 2010

An Anniversary, Of Sorts

Fifteen years ago today, I locked myself out of my cute fifth-floor studio apartment.  There was no getting into Apartment 517.  And the super wasn't home.  Nor were any of the neighbors that I knew.

And who the hell had a cell phone back then??  Certainly not a low-level corporate peon.

The only neighbor that I knew of that was home was The Cute Guy Down The Hall In Apartment 507.  I had chatted with him only briefly a few months earlier.  Afterwards, I had thought, "He seems nice. And I need some new friends. I bet if he has a girlfriend that she would be really nice to know too."

I was beyond embarrassed to stand there in the hallway at his door, feeling idiotic about being locked out.

He opened the door to what he referred to later as a "gift from heaven dropped on my doorstep."  Except that I was in gym clothes, in dire need of a shower after having just worked out at the corporate fitness center after an already-long day at the office.  Ponytail, mascara to my chin, the whole nine.

The Cute Guy Down The Hall In Apartment 507 babysat me and chatted me up until the super came home. 

The Rest, as they say, Is History.

Love you, Urban Dad!

(more of a post soon, but strep has come for an extended stay to the urban household -- u-dad is the only man standing the last several days)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Humor in Urban Mom's Family

My cop sister, Pink Power Ranger, is great at practical jokes.  She's also a great friend.  Her practical jokes tend to be what one might call a "cost of doing business."  Here's an example:

While we Urbans were in St. Louis at Best Namma Ever!'s house, PPR and her fiance (I haven't quite come up with a name for him yet... I am growing up and beginning to like him, hence weenie boyfriend is no longer an option) came over for pizza and chit-chat with us and some other friends.  PPR came in and swooped directly back to BNE!'s bedroom, the last door on the left of the hallway.  I happened to be coming out of BNE!'s room when I ran into PPR.

Me:  You're late again.

PPR:  HeywhichpurseisMom's?

Me:  The muti-colored thing there.  Why?

PPR:  Standlookoutkay?

Me:  Uh, ok, she's in the kitchen with everyone, why?

PPR: (coming out of the bedroom and into the hallway with me)  I got one of those security tabs from a friend in inventory control, and it's activated.  I buried it into the bottom of her purse, so when she walks in and out of any store, she'll set off the alarms!

Me & PPR:  (uproarious laughter at the very thought)

A few days later, I needed to get out of the house already go to Mid-Rivers Mall to take care of some errands.  I was going to take the two Urban Kids with me anyway, and so I could not resist:

Me:  Hey BNE!, want to come with us and hang out a bit?

And so off we went.

With the exception of JC Penney, which we had to cut through in order to get to and from out car, BNE! proceeded to set off alarms everywhere.  The first few times, it was "huh, that's weird."  The next few times it was, "ok, what's the deal?"

At one point, I was with Urban Kid 1 at one of those giant bungee trampolie set-ups where they charge you a ridiculous $7 for three minutes of jumping for a kid who refuses to try a flip.  But she loves it and can't easily do it at home, plus it acts as bribery for good behavior, so what the heck. 

Anywhooooo, the overpriced bungee thing is set up right next to Macy's.  BNE! had to go to the bathroom, so she magnanimously took UK-2 with her.  I watched her go in and kept a straight face as the WOOP WOOP WOOP went off as she crossed Macy's threshold.  I could tell that puzzlement was giving way to aggravation.  This, of course, only made it funnier.  (i know, i'm going straight to hell, aren't i???)  I then watched as the pair came out a few minutes later.  And you know what happened:


BNE! was starting to figure out that it was something about her.

Oh hey, did I mention that whenever BNE! turned her back that I was frantically texting PPR?

After the overpriced bungee thing, we made our way to one of those little plastic indoor playgrounds where cabin-fevered small children can run off some adrenalin.  As we settled in to watch the Urban Kids, I offered to go into the adjacent Border's and pick up a few hot beverages.  My treat.  (see, i am nice!)  But BNE! -- God bless her wonderful heart -- said, "oh no, I'd like to go in anyway, so I'll pick up something for us while you watch the kids." 

She is a gift, isn't she?

As she walked off, I immediately phoned PPR and told her all that was happening.  Whoever may have seen PPR in her patrol car at that moment might have worried about the armed woman unable to breathe due to fits of laughter.

Of course, as we talked, BNE! finished browsing the sale books outside of the store and wandered inside.


I thought PPR would wet herself.

From where I was sitting, I could watch the Urban Kids and the entrance to Borders, so I waited in blissful anticipation, still chatting with PPR.

PPR:  I can't believe I'm missing this!  It was MY joke!

As BNE! came back out, two lovely hot drinks with her, once again came WOOP WOOP WOOP.

Aggravation gave way to exasperation.  I hurriedly ditched PPR.

BNE!:  That's IT.  No more!  I am not going into one more store today!  This is just crazy!

May I just say that I deserve an Academy Award for Best Actress for my ability to look genuinely puzzled?  For my ability to look genuinely weirded out?  For my ability to ask if perhaps there was a problem that she wanted to share with me... with a completely straight face?

By the way, PPR only 'fessed up a few days ago.  Her fiance made her.  (to their credit, both Urban Dad and PPR's fiance were absolutely appalled at us) 

Oh, and BNE! was not stopped at all by any kind of security during all of this.  Not once!

Friday, January 22, 2010


(Hey JS, if you come across this post, please know that you are welcome here anytime!!!)

Ok, folks, once again, I have gone cyber-psycho.....

As many of you know, precious few people IRL know of my secret cyber-life.  "Urban Mom" gets to go through life with slighly fewer social filters than "Valerie" has to.  It's the fun of the blog.  I mean, it's not like I blatantly try to be offensive or anything.  I try to (mostly) be at least respectful.  But I refer to people in the Urbans' lives as I see fit here.  It's why I call Best Namma Ever!'s husband Her Husband.  It's why I call my paternal grandmother Not The Best Namma Ever!.  And whenever I tell someone IRL about this blog, I do it with the idea of "I have to see this person; do I have to adjust what and how I write to accomodate that?"  Those people IRL are then sworn to keep my deep, dark secret.  You folks out in cyber-space can tell anyone you like about the goofy mom from Chicago who essentially uses her computer to open her window and yell at whomever passes by.

So I was over on Facebook.......

FB leads you to believe that you can tinker with sublists within your list of friends.  Keep in mind that my FB list is all of about 47 people, about 1/4 to 1/3 people that I have never even met IRL.  And so I played with the sublist of ideas.  For example, I don't figure that everyone I've ever met wants to hear my thoughts on politics, so I created a list called "Politics."  I then did a "Comment if you can see this" post.  Only a few actually responded, but they were on the list.

And you know what I did next.....

I created a "blog" list.  Y'see, my FB friend Dy posts on FB whenever she does a new blog post.  I thought that this was a very nifty idea!  So I created my "blog" list -- people who do not include my immediate family or perhaps who are friends with folks who I may not want knowing my details -- and checked and double-checked it.  I then did the "come see my new blog entry" post on FB.


a family remember responded that he was confused about how to find it.

and a nice fellow mom down the block from me sent me an e-mail -- a very lovely e-mail -- responding to my blog post. (again, JS, you're welcome to the party here!)

I immediately took down the FB post.  I then kicked the blog into "private" mode as I pondered what to do next.  I've had to think carefully about what I want to do with the Urban Mom blog.  Go private permanently?  Go back through my entries and figure out what to delete or alter?  Keep going as I have been, but check statcounter.com carefully and more often?

I'm going with option #3.

For now.

Maybe few people had a chance to see the FB post.  Maybe if they've tried the link and couldn't get in, they've gone on to the next thing in their lives. Maybe I can stop ridiculously overestimating my importance in anyone's life but my own.

So that's where I've been for a few days.

And know that if you're reading this right now, that I'm very likely flattered, grateful and giddy with joy that you find me worth your time and energy.

Unless, of course, I'm related to you.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

MLK here at the CDA

What to do with MLK Day here at the {Urban} Country Day Academy?

I have to be honest with you... we're not tackling it this year.

Lest you be aghast at my perceived insensitivity, allow me to explain:  Urban Kid 1 lives in a neighborhood often referred to as "Boys' Town."  She takes part in classes all over Chicago at various businesses, encountering kids from all walks of life.  Her father teaches at Great Big Urban High School, which is known for being pretty much a living, breathing Bennetton ad.  Without any intentional social engineering on our part, the Urban Kids have a pretty diverse population in their day-to-day experiences.

Today, as we Skyped with Best Namma Ever!, BNE! told us about how she was involved in committee at her church that would be getting together tomorrow with other folks of similar committees from other churches to commemorate the day.  And Urban Kid 1 asked, "what's 'black' mean?"  So BNE!, concerned that she had to correct herself, said, "oh, I mean African-American."  UK1 still didn't get it. 

I then went about naming people that we know who are African-American.  And she started to understand, but not really.  And it occurred to BNE! and me at that moment that she doesn't get the concept of race.  At six years old, she's not seeing people's skin color.  She doesn't peg people by how they look or where they live or where they go to school.  As much as she can exasperate me some days, the fact is that she has such an open heart and soul for everybody that it is going to break my heart to explain some aspects of the world.  We'll do it, of course.  But not quite yet.

So tomorrow, we enjoy her innocence and naivete for the moment.  We'll go about our regular day, unless we hear back from her buddy Maya's nanny.  At that point, we'll drop everything and go do something fun (lest my homeschool miss a "socialization opportunity" -- aka: playdate).

In the meantime, I'm grateful.  I'm grateful that her first instinct is love, and that she lives in a place and time where that's encouraged and welcomed.

I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled... a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character...  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Out There On The Googly-Net

I SHOULD do a real post.  I HAVE things on my mind.  IMPORTANT things.  Ok, NOT so important things, but THINGS nonetheless that bang around inside my head.  But do I sit down and type it out?  NO.  Instead, I goof around watching and doing THIS kind of stuff.


BTW, have you ever Google'd yourself?  Be honest now.......

More soon.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Urban Mom Strikes Again!

A few days ago, we all piled into the car here at Best Namma Ever!'s house and toodled over to the local library.  This is a fantastic library!  It's all cushy and cozy.  There are invitingly soft armchairs and ottomans scattered about, a fireplace and a psueo-cafe area where  you can drop a few coins into a machine and get a cup of coffee or hot chocolate.  The cafe has comfy booths if you don't want to sit at one of the tables with the Frank Lloyd Wright-looking chairs.  We dropped Urban Dad in the cafe area to do some work (he always has work to do, poor thing) and took the Urban Kids into the Children's Section to see what we could tear up.

As I checked in on Urban Dad in the cafe later, I noticed a Suburban Dad sitting at a booth with his two young daughters, each of whom had their own cute little netbook.  They also each had a cool little carrying case, which I've yet to procure for my own new little netbook friend.  Now let me preface the rest of this by saying that his two young daughters were both older than Urban Kid 1.  And Urban Kid 1 is six.  And she's figured out the Santa thing already.  I'm not judging or anything... I'm just saying that this is my humble micro-cosm...

So I ask Suburban Dad, "where did you get the cases for their netbooks? I just got one, but don't have a case for it yet."

Youngest Surburban Kid -- who is at least a couple of years older than Urban Kid 1 -- says brightly, "Santa brought them!"

Suburban Dad tells me without blinking an eye that they got them at American, which is where they got the computers.  He is friendly throughout the whole chat as I explain that I saw only computer sleeves at Best Buy, but that I liked that his Suburban Kids' cases had two pockets for power cords, etc.

We end our chat on a friendly note, and as I walk away I cringe as I hear a disheartened and confused little voice inquire, "I thought you said that Santa brought them......"

Yes, my work here is done.  On to create another awkward moment elsewhere. 

Because you know I will.  (*sigh*)