Monthly Archives: August 2008

Thinking of New Orleans

Does this and this prove that God is a Democrat??  Just wonderin’…

In all seriousness, I am following updates from NolaNews on Twitter and worried about New Orleans today.  My thoughts are with them.

[Edited to add:  Apparently, I wasn’t the first to think of this – phew, at least I’m not in a position that would require me to apologize publicly!  Because if I did, then I’d feel compelled to explain that I’m not even a believer, so obviously this is a meaningless joke coming from me, and then how many people would I offend and have to apologize to??]

Dear Senator Obama,

An amazing thing happened in your home state of Illinois today.  Right here in Chicago, in the Rogers Park neighborhood, a fantastic display of political activism took place.  A small group of friends decided to organize a garage sale in which at least 50% of the proceeds would be donated to your campaign.  Many within our circle of friends and relations volunteered to donate items to the sale as well, believing it to be a great idea.   We were hard at work for days, clearing out our closets, cabinets, and garages around here, pulling together as many items as possible to donate.  I know I speak for more people than myself when I say that there were items I never would have been willing to part with were it not for the benefit of this campaign – and therefore, the benefit of all of us.

We were all up late last night, organizing, sorting, and deliberating over pricing of our sale items, and then up at the crack of dawn to begin setting up before people arrived.  And arrive they did.  Those who had seen our ads began shopping well before we were prepared for them, but no matter; we were happy to collect their money.  We decided on the spot that we would all simply donate 100% of our earnings to your campaign to increase the impact of our work.

For the next 10 hours, there was a steady stream of shoppers.  Neighbors, friends, and garage sale buffs arrived, ready to buy.  We sold books, children’s clothes, furniture, shoes, costumes, toys, sheets, blankets, rugs…you name it. There were no hecklers – no McCain supporters stopping by to challenge us. There was also very little negotiation: not only were most people happy to pay the prices we had set, but those who were able to, rounded up.  This is not a wealthy community on the whole, Mr. Obama.  Money doesn’t grow on trees here. One elderly woman returned three times, each time choosing one item that cost her a single dollar.  As she walked toward home pulling a $1.00 suitcase behind her after the third visit, she told me, Those campaign callers, they want so much money.  I can’t give them $15 or $25 or $100.  But I can do this.  Many of our customers were Spanish speaking and some sent their children to ask us how much certain items cost.  We sold the vast majority of our items for $3.00 or less.  For so many people to say “keep the change” is a very big deal.

As the day went on, a trend developed that we did not expect.   A surprising number of shoppers were inspired to run home and collect a pile of their own giveaways to bring to us.  One woman came back half an hour later with a brand new pair of high quality roller blades and laid them down next to the shoes.  A young man, probably a college student, returned with a huge stack of clothing and books.  A woman in her 20s returned multiple times, once with brand new board games that had never been unwrapped and then with an entire box of unopened cosmetics.  The women of Rogers Park will be wearing Mary Kay for the next ten years.  Every time she left to get more, she ran across the street shouting over her shoulder, I’m all about Obama!

I did not understand how empowering this event would be.  What started out as some friends putting together a little garage sale became a true community event in which some of our neighborhood’s most disenfranchised members were proud to participate.  We know many more of our neighbors now as well, which leads to a safer, friendlier community.  With this type of event, everyone wins.

You can see in the photos shown here that we had a beautifully diverse crowd, representative of our neighborhood.  One thing that we all had in common was a belief that our country can do better; can be better. We believe that sending you and Joe Biden to the White House is the first step in creating this change.  And we all worked together to make that happen.  We have the honor of sending your campaign a check in the amount of $925.00.  We raised that money dollar by dollar, 25-cent beach ball by 50-cent pair of flip flops, $1.00 potty training seat by $5.00 box of terra cotta tiles.  But we raised it, all in one day, and it’s on its way to you.  It comes with the love, dedication and hope of the people of Chicago, right here in your own backyard.

Go get ’em, Obama!

What Does it Mean to You?

I’d hoped to sleep until at least 6:45 this morning since I was up working and such until 11:30 last night, but no such luck.  The boys came running upstairs at 6:15.  However, after I got up to assist Mr. Little in the bathroom, I was able to sneak back into bed for a while.  Such is the reward of having older kids now.

Snuggled back into my pillow, I listened to the boys in awe.  Lyle asking Baxter, Do you want to watch the Berenstain Bears with me, Baxter? Will you set it up for me? and Baxter answering cheerfully, Okay, Lyle!  Let’s go!  Hearing them turn it off after a 15- minute DVD episode and then running together to the sunroom.  Let’s read books!   Then I heard Lyle ask Baxter, Will you go downstairs with me to get my trains? and Baxter replied, As soon as I’m done with this book.  And Lyle? We can get the trains if I can play with your new Molly.  And then Okay, Baxter! [They really do say each other’s names all the time like this.]

The delicious words MODEL CHILDREN were floating through my head, round and round, spiraling in a happy, sleepy celebration, when Matt (who somehow goes back to sleep with all of this going on outside our door) turned over and made some sounds that resembled consciousness.

They’re being MODEL CHILDREN this morning!, I exclaimed to him in a happy whisper, ready to share this long list of easy-going, loving exchanges I’d overheard.

Hm. That’s strange, he replied.  I don’t smell bacon…

Hanging in there.

To say that things are wild and crazy right now would be a vast understatement.  To detail it for you would be way more information than any of you kind people need.  However, to summarize for the curious: my new hire started last week and is fantastic – her caseload is filling up fast; our clinic is completely upside down after many days of rearranging and organizing, but shows signs of things falling into place in a way that will be extremely worth the effort; we are working diligently on preparing our agenda for next week’s staff training, fine-tuning the program schedule, and completing each child’s full SCERTS Assessment Plan; Lyle’s birthday was lots of fun and I was happy to celebrate with him early this morning and again this evening; and, last but not least, Baxter’s glasses arrived today and he couldn’t be happier.

This coming weekend adds even more excitement around here.  We are organizing a huge, multi-family garage sale with another couple, with at least 50% of all proceeds (sometimes 100%) going to the Obama/Biden campaign.  The sale will last all day Saturday, and we’ll be up late on Friday pricing our items and then bringing them over to our friends’ house in preparation for the early morning start.  If you are local and you want information, head on over here for the details!  I’d love to see you there.

Because there is no rest for the weary, we will get up early on Sunday morning to get ready for Lyle’s 4th birthday party, which is from 10-12 that morning – details to come after the party!  And in case that’s not enough fun for us, my cousin will arrive from Vienna with his German girlfriend just 3 hours after the party.  We are really looking forward to hosting them for a few days before they fly out to CA to see the rest of the family.

Oh, yes, and then there’s the first day of school and staff training all week at the clinic starting Tuesday!  And I seem to recall something about a mandatory co-op meeting on the same night as a condo meeting one night next week.

Holy moly.

Somehow, though, I’m hanging in there.  Things are moving forward and going fine.  Most of the time I am not stressed about all of this, which I find rather miraculous.   And if I had been stressed after work tonight, it would have been alleviated immediately by this awesome post, in which Emily chronicles our visit with the DMFP family in San Francisco last month.  That was one seriously great time, and was a highlight of our California trip that, regrettably, I never managed to write about myself, so head on over and read it.  Emily is one of the funniest people I know and this post is a pretty hilarious summary of our mini-reunion.

Happy Birthday, Lyle

To my dear, sweet Lyle:

You’ve been featured here quite a lot lately, what with photos of your adorable face, stories of how beautifully you’re growing up, and videos highlighting some of our funniest moments together.   And yet there is always more to say about those we love, isn’t there?

Thank you for telling me every day that you “adore” me and never failing to remind me how much you “love spending time with [me]”.

Thank you for learning to handle your emotions so much better, and for responding more comfortably to new people and situations.  You are even seeking out unfamiliar kids in public who look like fun – without your big brother by your side, you brave little soul.

Thank you for knowing how to make your Mama laugh, many times a day.

Thank you for asking me to read all those stories to you, it makes me so happy.

Thank you for trying new things every day, and for reaching out and grabbing at your future with a twinkle in your eye.

Thank you for admitting to me that you “feel so small” so that I can help you feel bigger.  Because you are perfect just as you are – but you are getting bigger every day, sweet boy.

Thank you for being a beautiful ray of sunshine in my life and for filling in the empty spaces I didn’t know were there until you arrived, four years ago.

I couldn’t love you more.

PictoBrowser

Thanks to Susan Wagner, I have just discovered a far better way to display photos here.  It’s a Flickr application called PictoBrowser and can be found here.  For example, rather than dropping a series of photos in my post, I can pull straight from my Flickr account and give you a set:  

Better, no?

The Times, They are A-Changin’

 

Somehow, in the past week, the topic of having a third child came up with three different friends.  One of these friends actually has two boys close in age to mine and also an infant son.  I watched her manage her three boys at the beach with a respectful awe, and although I loved holding her sweet little guy and playing with him on the beach blanket, I also felt a strong sense of gratitude about not having a newborn in a sling while jumping Lyle over the waves, nor dealing with an explosive diaper (or any type of diaper) at any point during the outing.

And yet I told all of my friends with complete honesty that I am aware of this being “the time”, if there were ever going to be a time to have another; biologically, I actually have quite a few more years, but in terms of the boys being older now and how closely I’d want my children spaced, this would be the time for me.  However, it is not in the cards, and that’s as it should be.  It’s not what I truly want, nor is it what Matt wants.  (The boys have explicitly stated that they’d like us to have 100 babies, and have even figured out places for approximately 72 of them to sleep, but their votes don’t count, thank goodness.)

This is the right thing for us, and today brought a series of reminders of how wonderful it is for us as a family to have moved beyond those baby and toddler years.

For one thing, Matt and the boys did a 5-mile bike ride together while I was out this morning, traversing some city streets and then the lakefront trail down to a beach and back.  Lyle was in the bike trailer, and Baxter rode independently on his own bike.  They all loved it!  Following that, Lyle successfully continued his 3-day no-nap streak and was able to take a bit of quiet time and then push on through the afternoon, which really changes our whole day as a family because there is so much more time to do things together.  I called the boys in to watch the Obama/Biden event this afternoon, and it was delightful to watch Baxter’s excitement as he cheered for them and asked a kajillion questions.  At the end, he said dreamily, “Maybe I could be president someday.”  Those two men certainly leave one with the feeling that if they can make it, anyone could.  And, indeed, why not Baxter?

We then took Baxter to the eye doctor this afternoon for an exam; he’s been complaining of difficulties seeing things at a distance.  Sure enough, his vision is quite poor, and so before we knew it he was picking out glasses.  He will be wearing them all the time – what a change, to see my guy looking so old and studious in his new blue frames.  I was so proud of how well he took this in stride and that he was excited to choose his frames.   The more we think about it, the more we realize that there were little signs of his nearsightedness for the past year.  I’m most interested to see if it improves his overall ability to focus in school; I can’t help but believe it will.

Although the boys were exhausted from their bike ride and the push through the busy afternoon, something prompted me to suggest that we take them out for dinner in Andersonville, the neighborhood we were in for the eye exam.  We’ve never taken the boys out for Persian/Middle Eastern food, and Reza’s is one of our favorites, so we went for it.  Baxter was so tired he was holding his forehead up with his wrist during most of the meal (and we went at 5 pm!), but he loved the food!  I don’t know about you, Wonderfriends, but one of the best feelings for me as a parent is seeing my kids trying new and unusual foods and loving them.   After being babies who ate absolutely anything, both of my boys became very picky as toddlers.  For years, there has been so much that Baxter wouldn’t touch, but suddenly he is trying and appreciating all kinds of new foods.  I couldn’t be more pleased.  While Baxter ate falafel, tabbouli, baba gannouj, and lamb kabobs, Lyle picked at his warm bread and covered the entire paper on our table with beautiful, imaginative drawings.   He hasn’t put pen (or marker) to paper in ages, and it was amazing to see what he is now capable of.  Matt and I exchanged astonished glances every time he explained what something was.  We’ll be encouraging more of that, to be sure.

It is now 7:15 pm and the boys are both asleep for the night.  This transition out of Lyle’s nap is doing wonders for our evenings and, some days, everyone’s ability to sleep past 7:00 in the morning, a very rare treat around here.

I am fully appreciative of these boys, suddenly so much more mature and capable.   They are a delight to be around as they grow and change.  And so, when I sense the shadow of that imagined third child scampering out of sight, I need only pause and watch my boys for a little while before I’m ready to wave it good-bye without a doubt in my heart.

Hasta la Vista, Nap.

After an early workout with a friend, a stop at the world’s best coffee shop for beans to take home, and dropping off my car with the mechanic at 7 am, I found myself walking home through my lovely neighborhood in the early hours of this morning, alone with my thoughts.

I’m not sure why I was thinking so clearly – perhaps some combination of the elliptical machine and the scent of great coffee – but it suddenly occurred to me that Lyle will be starting afternoon preschool in a couple weeks and also that, um, he still naps.  Every day.  For at least two hours.  The thing is, when I signed him up for afternoon preschool, he was rarely napping on the days when I was home with him (because parting really is such sweet sorrow – and napping=parting from Mommy), and we were managing.  And I knew that in just one more year, he’d be in full-day kindergarten, and so, being adjusted to getting out of school at 3:30 seemed like a good idea.  That and it was the best fit for him for reasons having to do with the actual class.  (Did you get all that?)

Except that this summer, when there was no more preschool in the mornings (which left him missing me and refusing to nap when we got home) and tons of phsyical activity all day, he started napping regularly again.  Which brings me to today, when I had a boy napping beautifully just in time for afternoon preschool.  Doh.

Therefore, when I walked into the house ten minutes later, I announced to Lyle that starting today, he could choose if he napped or not since school would be starting soon and he wouldn’t nap on school days (M-Th).  He was beyond thrilled.  “Because I’m almost four?!” he exclaimed.  I went along with that, even though his 7-year old brother will still nap on occasion.  But, sure, yes, because he’s almost four.  Why not?

The thing is, I’m not sure I would’ve gone cold turkey on this today – although I have a parenting pattern of doing things cold turkey and it’s always worked before, I suppose –  had I thought through all that we’d be doing this morning.  I mean, suggesting a child stop napping on the day you take him on a major city adventure that involves a lot of walking (the stroller is long gone over here), more than an hour and a half total on the train, and an exciting visit to Daddy’s office and Millennium Park downtown?  Followed by an afternoon play date with a pair of high energy, fun-loving 3rd grade twin girls?  Well, it might seem a bit unwise.

Somehow it worked.  He was so thrilled to be awake and having “quiet time” instead of a nap that he was exceedingly quiet and calm for most of the hour that I imposed on the boys.  In fact – and the irony of this is not lost on me – I fell asleep.  After the workout and the long trip downtown, I was toast.  It’s fair to say that I have napped as often this summer as Lyle has not napped, which is to say never.

And so, here we are, suddenly without a nap.  I am pleased to report that although the hours of 3-5 were downright ugly, bedtime was very early and very easy tonight, and I expect this new pattern to make a big difference in our evenings around here.

My history of going cold turkey on changes has a real benefit: I rarely know when I’m experiencing “the last” of something.  I didn’t know when it was the last time either of my kids slept in their cribs, nor the last time they nursed, for example, and this takes some of that bittersweet edge off of parenting.  I might have moped through Lyle’s last regular nap, had I known, but instead I simply appreciated the change today.

I just hope he sleeps later in the morning, too, and isn’t a wreck all day tomorrow.  Because it’s quite possible that our nanny will wish she had gotten some warning.

Dribisss

If you have been reading this blog for more than seventeen minutes, you know that I am highly amused by my 3-year old’s awesomely random sense of humor.  A recent favorite emerged when the four of us were playing in Lake Michigan earlier this summer.  I was holding Lyle, jumping him over waves, when he suddenly looked at me with a smirk and asked in a very goofy voice, “Has anybody seen a guy named Dribisssss….?”  I mean, really: HUH?!  “Dribiss?”  [Which is pronounced “Dwibisssss…” in Lyle-speak].  After making the usual round of inquiries (“Do you know where this came from?”), we were forced to agree that Lyle had made this one up.

Thanks to my raucous laughter every single time, the Dribiss question was repeated, in the same crazy manner, at least 23 times.  Lyle watched my reaction.  If I didn’t laugh quite as hard by the 23rd time, Lyle instructed bossily, “No, Mommy!  Open your mouth all the way when you laugh!”  Unfortunately, he now says it so fast that you’d never hear the individual words without an interpreter.

Well, a few weeks later, I’m still laughing about poor Dribiss.  It came up at dinner the other night and luckily, my new Flip video camera was handy.  And so, for the sake of posterity and your entertainment, I bring you “Dribisssss…” (For some reason, in Firefox this video causes my entire blog to be centered and so I will just link to it rather than embed it.)

Trail of Tears

Last night I posted a set of photos here that I took over the weekend (the full sets are here).  Drama Mama asked the following question in the comments section today:

Why is it that your children always look so insanely happy?

Well, it just so happens that there were some unhappy moments yesterday that I felt compelled to capture as well.  Although we don’t often take photos of the boys crying, I admit that we did it once or twice when they were babies, and those are some of my favorite shots because, well, they are so real.  For example, here’s poor newborn Baxter crying; I can’t remember if we added the glasses to a crying baby or if the screams were due to the horrid things on his face.  I suspect the latter:

 Pretty bad, isn’t it?

But fast forward to yesterday.  Here you go, Drama Mama…

We had the exhausted meltdown:

 

The mope-a-thon:

And then there’s this priceless gem:

You’re welcome.