Showing posts with label Favorite things. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Favorite things. Show all posts

Monday, August 23, 2010

Friday Family Night

This past Friday, a friend suggested an impromptu pizza dinner in her building's solarium. We ended up having three families enjoy dinner on the twenty-eighth floor. The kids played and burned the day's remaining energy. The men consumed a few adult beverages and got to know one another better. The women engaged in some much needed adult conversation and got a few minutes to relax while the kids were off playing. And no one had to clean house or do dishes.

I have to admit, it was awesome. We were all home by nine-thirty. Each family pitched in ten dollars for pizza and brought their own drinks. We didn't have to hire babysitters or constantly check our cell phones to make sure the kids were behaving. Sure we had to stop the kids from jumping on the radiators, keep their fingers out of the air conditioner, and referee a few clashes over the favored toy. But we also got to hang out with our friends for three or four hours on a Friday night instead of starring at our spouses after we put the kids to bed like we do every other weeknight. And it only cost us ten dollars!

Then next morning, our exhausted munchkins slept in and let us sleep in too. It was so nice.

Is it any wonder that we are hoping to make it a standing monthly date?

Moral of the story: Just because you have kids, doesn't mean you can't be social or that you have to pay a lot to have fun. You just have to be open to new things and get more creative.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Chair Project

Back in 1967, my father bought his father two chairs as a gift. We don't know the fate of the other chair, but one of the chairs has made a home with me for several years now. It started off as a burnt red-orange color with a lot of structure and was super comfortable. Holes were starting to wear in the arms of the chair so I got this great idea to recover it. My dad helped and, even though we had no idea what we were doing, we recovered the chair. We didn't do a good job recovering the chair, but we did it. That's kind of a recurring theme with my dad and me. Neither of us are perfectionists, but we love to get things done. You can only imagine how this chair looked after we had stripped it of all of its stuffing and thereby its structure, bought a utilitarian black fabric and some foam fill from the fabric store, and used our mad made-up upholstery skills to recover it. We even invested in a staple gun-- albeit not a very powerful one. Let's just say it didn't look all that great, but it served its purpose.

Once Rick and I were married, we decided to give the chair a much needed makeover. Rick wasn't keen on the duct tape my dad and I had used to hold the cushion together. I can sew, but I don't do zippers. The duct tape was our substitute for a zipper and being that it was the underside of the cushion, no one really noticed. The important part was that the chair was comfortable.

Rick and I went to the fabric store to pick out a redish, rust-colored fabric with a bit of a pattern to it to return the chair to a color and style closer to the original. Being that Rick is a perfectionist, he also insisted that we got a few tools of the trade instead of just "winging it" as my dad and I had done. He also didn't let me use duct tape this time. After several days of stapling and hammering and stuffing, we had something that again resembled a chair. Not a really pretty chair. Not perfect --which is surprising for Rick but he got too frustrated with the project to really care about perfection in the end --but an improvement over the previous attempt. This version of the chair had stuffing that would poke out at the joint where the arms met the chair back since we had no way to tie the fabric down at that point. The seat bottom where the cushion rested wasn't anchored into the back of the chair either so that caused it to slip down and expose the stuffing at the front of the chair base. And if you ask Rick about it, he'll claim that the pokey strips used to hold the fabric in place had come unattached and were out to get him as he always seemed to get stabbed when he sat in the chair for some reason.

For some relevant background on this story, you need to understand that I've only done a few projects with my dad that I can remember. He isn't really the crafty/handy type. We made a Frankenstein monster with a pumpkin head to enter into the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival one year. We attempted to make a go cart like you see on all the commercials. It worked but we needed to run it down a hill for momentum and then never really got a good breaking system figured out. And we once sanded down an old wooden desk that was salvaged from his work. We did a less-than-perfect job painting it bright red and I spent the next decade covering it with stickers, concert ticket stubs and cancelled stamps. I really loved that desk and took it to Milwaukee with Rick and I when we moved in together. I tend to cherish the projects my dad and I have undertaken together, even if they aren't perfect.

Point being, Rick hated the red desk and refused to ever move it again since it was made of pressed wood. It was insanely heavy and cumbersome so I don't really blame him (Okay, maybe just a little bit). When it came time to move to Chicago, he sawed it into pieces and took it to the dumpster. It was a sad day for me.

Now you can imagine how upset I became when Rick said he now hated this red chair and wanted to throw it out. He was tired of it drawing blood every time he sat down (somehow I never got stabbed by the chair so I'm not sure that was really the case with him but that was what he claimed.) This was the chair that used to belong to my grandfather. The chair that my dad and I recovered (with the help of a little duct tape). The chair that he and I had recovered (using a safety pin and some creative cushion design instead of a zipper). This chair had lived with us everywhere we had lived together. It was comfortable. It was sentimental. And here he wanted to just pitch it to the curb. No sir. That was where I drew the line.

After weeks of considering a new chair and not finding anything that was just right, we took the red chair to DeKalb to have it recovered by a professional. We dropped it off, picked a fun fabric along the lines of a rust color, and told the upholsterer to be creative with it. I asked her to give it some form, some personality, some better stuffing and a zippered cushion along the way.

Three weeks and a gazillion dollars later (partially sponsored by Granny and Aunt Terri as an Iain baby shower gift), we have a beautiful chair with a good story behind it. It is now, as far as I am concerned anyway, an heirloom. Rick no longer hates it and isn't being (allegedly) stabbed by it. Ada loves bouncing in it, until I reprimand her anyway. And I find it to be a nice, comfortable place to relax and cuddle with the kids. Well worth the investment.

Moral of the story: Sometimes you just have to invest in the things that will leave lasting memories.

Cookie, Cookie, Cookie

Today I made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies that just so happened to be hot out of the oven when Ada got home from daycare. Being the smart little girl I taught her to be, she instantly smelled them, walked into the kitchen, looked up to me with her most powerful puppy-dog-eyes and said, "Cookie?". She even pulled out the sign language sign for cookie to make sure that I understood her clearly. How can you say no to that? And how much can one little cookie hurt?

Of course I gave her a cookie. So what if it was before dinner? It would have been hypocritical not to give her one since I had just eaten three spoonfuls of cookie dough before she got home. And I don't believe in denying her the joys of life, of which I firmly believe oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are near the top of the list.

The problem came when her cookie was gone. "Cookie?", again accompanied by the sign for a cookie, was supposed to be Ada's key to happiness. You can only imagine her shock, sadness, and the depth of her pouty lip as it protruded from her face when I said "No more cookies until after we eat dinner." It was clearly written all over her face that she didn't understand why she couldn't have another cookie. Surely there were plenty since I had baked over three dozen and they were right there on the counter. Trying to explain to a toddler that cookies aren't necessarily classified as a "health food" is a whole different matter. Needless to say, she was not happy.

Moral of the story: Guiding your children to make healthy choices in life is tough. Limiting their cookie intake might prove to be outright impossible.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Me Gusta La Playa

That's Spanish for "I like the beach".

Well, actually, Ada likes the beach. I'm not as fond of it since the beach involves sand and in the case of Lake Michigan, really, really cold water.

Lucky for me, Aunt Heather came to visit for the weekend and sacrificed herself for Ada's sake and took one for the team. I surely wasn't going to don a bathing suit and take her swimming five weeks postpartum. Not a chance. Here's Ada saying "Come on Mom!"

Cold but happy. Well, at least Ada is happy. I think Heather is just hoping she can feel her toes again someday.Ada will eventually learn to put her sunglasses on right-side up...

Moral of the story: Some kids love water...even if it is really, really, really cold.

And here I am after finally being convinced that I should prove to Heather that the water isn't really that cold. (I totally lost that one. It's really cold.)

Ada wasn't at all happy when it was time to leave since she really loves the water. We bribed her with ice cream and then never even went to get ice cream due to storms and scheduling issues and being way too exhausted.

For any beach outing, I recommend you go early, think of a compelling reason your child will want to leave, and use baby powder to dry out the sand since baby powder is less of a mess than sand is in your house.

Moral of the story: The beach can be a lot of fun as long as you are prepared.

Monday, May 3, 2010

The A & W Band

We had a BBQ this past weekend and our friends' son Will came over to entertain Ada. Somehow he found her drum set and they ended up forming a band. "The Purple Baby Doll" could be in the running for a band name as it is Will's all time favorite of Ada's toys. We might have to recruit a few more kids from the neighborhood unless this is just going to be a percussion band... we'll see. They've got some time to develop their talents. They didn't have time to focus on dinner though. Too much to do and see and play with. Eating is overrated apparently.
Moral of the story: The loudest toys are always the first to be found by playmates.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Freecycle is Good Karma

At some point in the last year or so, I got tipped off to For those of you who don't know about it or haven't tried it, check it out and see if there is a network in your area.

The whole concept is that people post things they have but don't want anymore, or things they don't have but would like, and members of freecycle read the posts and connect with each other to reduce the amount of stuff that goes into landfills. And the best part is...drum roll please... it's all free. The stuff is free. To post stuff is free. To get stuff is free. To give stuff... yep, you guessed it. FREE.

I just posted 4 bags of miscellaneous stuff and clothes and the nicest woman just came by to pick them up and brought me a new baby doll for Ada and a $10 gift certificate. Now that clearly isn't how this is supposed to work but she came to pick up three bags of stuff and I called her back to come get a 4th. Oh, and I passed on a glass friendship ball I had that was from a former friend and was giving off less-than-stellar karma. How much more of a win-win situation could this be? I get rid of 4 bags of stuff and a beautiful glass ball I don't want, she gets my "crap" and then gives me a doll and a gift card. And she even came to pick it all up!

My other experiences have been similar. I gave away perfume and perfume samples -- again with some not-so-great karma. I've gotten rid of 3 large piles of books. Today I gave away my old cell phone complete with charge, software and computer cord to connect it. And before that I passed on some knitting supplies I don't use to a woman who's daughter is interested in learning to knit. I've also passed on baby bumpers that were given to me by a woman in my mom network since I couldn't use them. And I don't even have to drop these things off. They come get them.

I've already got our TV promised to someone on freecycle when we upgrade to the one's Rick's parents are replacing at their house. And it just feels good to know that your stuff is going to a good home. I used to always take it to the Salvation Army or Good Will, which I still recommend, but this is cool because you get to see who it goes to and did I mention that they pick it up????

Moral of the story: If you can freecycle, do so. It will really benefit the environment, others, and your good karma bank.

My Secret Lily Pond

One of the best kept secrets in the entire city of Chicago (in my opinion) is the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool (I call it a pond) on the north edge of Lincoln Park Zoo. (Another is the burgers from Billy Goat Tavern on lower Michigan Avenue under the Tribune building. Yum!) Here it is...
For those of you who think the city is all hustle and bustle, this my dear friends will prove you wrong. It is, by far, the most quiet, calm and relaxing place I have found in the city --unless you count the beach at 5 am and I for one, don't like to get up that early on my own.
On a recent visit to the Lily Pond, we spotted a few turtles and were able to take a few minutes to reflect on life. Then our stomachs started growling and it was time to hike home for dinner.

If you haven't been, be sure to stop in for a few minutes of Zen. It's kind of hidden near the entrance to the Zoo parking lot off Fullerton...but it is so worth searching for.

Moral of the story: We all need a little bit of calm in our lives. Find a place where you can stock up.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Aftermath of Camping

Camping was great. We broke up the trip by stopping in Milwaukee to visit our friends on the way up and back so that was a bonus that made life a lot easier...until we got home and had to unpack.


Unpacking sucks. Laundry sucks. Running out of quarters to do more laundry in the basement sucks. And cleaning really sucks.

Lucky for me (I've been pretty lucky lately I must say), the trip was planned so that we come home on a Saturday and have Sunday to recover. Too bad Sunday alone isn't enough. But it was a good thing that I didn't have to go back to work until Wednesday because one of my best girlfriends, Cadence, came to visit Monday and Tuesday from Minneapolis. And what a visit it was!

Well, I should say "What a visit it was... after I finally picked her up at the State and Lake el stop after having driven all the way to O'HARE airport in post rush hour traffic to find out while I'm waiting outside Northwest Airlines arrival area at lower level 2C that she flew in to MIDWAY airport on the south side." Damn it. She flies OUT of O'hare but IN to Midway. Who needs two airports in one town anyway? Who thought that was a good idea? (That wasn't really lucky as far as my streak goes but it worked out okay in the end anyway.)

For those of you who don't know Cadence, she's a trip. She's my fashion guru and my "we've been through a lot together" friend. She's actually now considered family and comes for holidays. Oh, and she is the reason I don't wear "mom jeans" so you can thank her directly for that.

We met sophomore year of college. She was a resident on my dorm floor. I was the "resident assistant". I mentioned her name in passing to my parents and my Dad says, "Is that Bill and Linda's kid?" "What?". Yep. Here's where the creepy music to "It's a Small World" kicks in. Turns out my Dad was a Principal at a school in a small town in Iowa back in the day, (living in Illinois for the past 13 years or so at this time) and he hired a band teacher named Bill, and later on another teacher named Linda. Result=Cadence... My maid-of-honor and close friend for the past ten years. Weird, I know.

When I first met Cadence, she was all "I'm not creative. You want us to have craft night?". Now she's a professional wedding and family photographer who studied under one of Minneapolis's premier wedding photographers. Is this a sweet deal for me or what? (It's almost too bad that I'm already married--just for the wedding photos part of it. Almost. But not really even close. And I really do like my wedding photos...)

So we have this deal now. Cadence comes to visit, I set her up with a bunch of friends who have kids, she takes their photos to build her portfolio, and I get a free photo session of me, Rick and Ada. What a deal!

So do you want to see the photos she took?

Of course you do because they are awesome!

Here is a link to her website, which is a blog featuring some of her work. LOVE IT! SO PROUD OF HER!

If you play on her blog you might also recognize Dan, Jen and Hudson or Aaron and Cassie since they both did photo shoots while she was in town too.

And if you are interested in having a little family session of your own next time she's in town, or if you are in Minneapolis, or if you need a wedding photographer --she does travel and is booking up for next year fast already, let me know. I'll have her people contact your people.

Moral of the story: Life is always better when you have super duper girlfriends.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Ada's Favorite Things

Move over Oprah... it's time for Ada's favorite things.

Topping the list in at number one is dear old dad because he tickles her and is too much fun.

In second (because I've stopped nursing her recently) is super mom.

Coming in at third, well, I could list every relative she's ever had and some that are pseudo relatives that we've adopted because they are so cool, but we'll move on to the fun stuff and skip the fluff. Just know that she loves you all.

So now that we've got that out of the no real order from this point on...
4. Sweet Potatoes, Bananas and Pears seem to be her favorite foods, but she eats most things without complaint. Milk is at the top of the list too.
5. Crawling around the house with a sock in one hand. She has no preference for the state of the sock: clean or dirty.
6. Being outside. She can't get enough. I fear teaching her the sign for "outside" as that's all she'll ever tell me. Then she'll learn the word and we'll be living in a tent on the beach.
7. Naked baby time. And really, who doesn't like to run around naked in the privacy of their own home? Brad Pitt does.
8. Being upside down. I'm sure this will lead to endless hours rolling down hillsides and making herself so dizzy she falls over.
9. Eating shoes. Doesn't matter what size, who they belong to, or where they have been. If we leave them by the door, she'll find a way to get them into her mouth.
10. Watching the washing machine spin. The front loading machine can mesmerize even the strongest willed adults. It just sucks you in, I swear.
11. Baths. Something about being in the bathtub--oh, she's naked. That must be it.
12. Bouncing.
13. Listening to music.
14. Dancing. She's got more rhythm than her father, thank God.
15. Ripping paper. She's great at tearing junk mail into pieces before I recycle it.
16. Human jungle gyms. I've become quite good at being crawled on, pushed, pulled, and made into something to hang, swing, and balance on.
17. Eating cell phones, and hanging up when mommy's been on hold for 10 minutes with someone from technical support. This is not something we encourage.
18. Dad's watch.
19. Pulling mom's hair.
20. Giving hugs. Getting hugs.
21. Riding on Dad's shoulders.
22. Grabbing Mom's notebook and pen, then trying to rip out pages.
23. Standing 6 inches in front of the TV and touching the screen while absorbing Baby Einstein DVDs (it's like crack for babies).
24. Chewing. On everything. And I do mean everything.
25. Seeing pictures of herself.
26. Throwing food on the floor while she eats.
27. Wiping her own face with a wet washcloth.
28. Banging things together.
29. Kisses. Getting and giving them, typically open mouth kisses on your cheek.
30. Monkey the stuffed animal. Especially when he dances at the breakfast table.
31. Clapping. Her hands and helping you clap too.
32. Dogs and cats.
33. Books. Typically her size and not claiming to be true stories that are really made up with false details -- thanks Oprah.
34. Playdates with other kids her age, especially Eva, Aaron, Isabella, and cousin Anna.
35. The dishwasher. She loves rolling the racks back and forth.

Things Ada dislikes...
1. Taking naps
2. Bedtime, occasionally.
3. Diaper changes.
4. Having her nails clipped.
5. Mom picking her nose. (Not my nose, Ada's nose silly!)
6. Having her nose aspirated to get the snot out.
7. Dogs that bark while she is sleeping. Who wouldn't hate that?
8. Wearing hats and gloves.
9. Cows that moo. Who could have seen that one coming?
10. Vacuum cleaners and dustbusters. Too loud and scary.

Eat your heart out Oprah... or better yet, don't. That probably isn't part of your new diet anyway.
May the new year be filled with your favorite things, and light on the not-so-favorite things.