5 Dreams You Need to Let Die

crybaby

New today @The Second City Network! Read it here.

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How to Fill Up Jogging Stroller Tires

Got one of these?

Me, too… and so does just about every other mom in my neighborhood. Posey and I go for our “serious walks” in this thing. It’s a perfect 2.4 mile loop to Target and back (2.5 if you count the lollygagging up and down the aisles… make that an even 3.0), and we’ve taken the trek about a zillion times during her 18 (yes, 18!) months.

Here’s something that never occurred to me. Notice this?

I didn’t, until last week. DUH. They’re like bikes tires, and they NEED TO GET FILLED UP.

I’ve been pushing the kid around on flat tires for months and months. Who knows, maybe there wasn’t even air in them when we got the thing. I wasn’t sure how to handle the situation. The last time I filled up a bike tire was before I was pregnant, and I over-did it at a gas station. The inner tube exploded, and I lost hearing in my right ear for an hour. Today is finally a nice, sunny day in Chicago, so I rolled her and her deflated wheels down the road to Oscar Wastyn Cycles, where the kind gent took one look at Pose and her sorry-ass ride and pulled out the air hose.

It’s kind of like when I got my first car, and no one ever told me that you have to get the oil changed. How am I supposed to know these things? So check your stroller tires.

Happy Spring.

What to Expect When You’re Dating an Improviser

My Ex(es)

My Ex(es)

Long before I met Beef, I went on dates with Other People. Most were a disaster– both the boys and the dates. So let me be a friend to all of you young ladies in dating world, because friends don’t let friends date improvisers– especially in Chicago. Here is something I wrote for my newest online home, The Second City Network.

You’ve heard of The Second City. It’s the famous Chicago improv farm where they grow Tina Feys, Steve Carells, Amy Poehlers and pretty much everyone who’s ever been on SNL.

The Groupon I’ve Waited Her Entire Life For

There is a hole in my soul in the shape of a professional family portrait.

When Posey hit the three-month mark, the six-month mark, her first birthday… I let each milestone pass without commemorating it with a classic “playing around in leaves” or “swinging child by the hands” or “fun day in the park” or “matching turtlenecks” photo shoot. But I wanted to. If we are friends on Facebook– and you have a child– there is a 100% chance that I have stared longingly at your family album, googled the photographer and spent hours browsing their portfolio. But I haven’t pulled the trigger. I haven’t found that special someone who I feel confident will get that magic shot where one or all of is not making this face:

And then, I stumbled across this deal on Groupon today. Whaaaaaaat? An in-studio session with a world-renowned portrait artist who’s shot Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, and this Mellencamp album cover, for crying out loud?

YES, PLEASE. THIS IS THE MAN FOR THE JOB. Pretty sure he’ll be able to get one where Beef’s eyes aren’t closed. This is like buying a Groupon for Richard Lewis to craft you your own tailor-made joke about your own personal insecurities. Which, Groupon, would be a pretty kick-ass offer.

So what should we wear for the big shoot? Bolo ties, or no bolo ties?

CTA’s Be Stroller Savvy! Campaign: Really?

Hey, CTA campaign planners?  Take a long stroll off a short El platform.

The CTA started passing out fliers today to stroller-pushing commuters on the city’s busses and trains, reminding them to “be considerate” when joyriding around the city during rush hour/nap time/the sixth circle of hell.  Here is their official policy:

Children in open strollers are welcome on CTA, however we encourage parents to be considerate of other customers and adhere to these rules when traveling with a stroller.

  • Keep strollers clear of aisles and doorways aboard buses and trains.
  • Seniors and customers with disabilities have priority use of the Priority Seating area aboard buses and trains. If these seats are not in use, open strollers may be parked in this area. This will help you to avoid blocking the aisle. Please yield this space if a customer with disabilities, a senior, or a person using a mobility device wishes to board. On buses, you may request use of the access ramp or lift to help you board and exit.
  • Please fold your stroller in the event that a bus or train becomes crowded, in order to make room for others. Be aware that in the event that a bus or train is crowded, a CTA employee may ask you to fold your stroller or wait for another vehicle. Please follow their instructions. Also, during certain periods of high ridership, we may require that all strollers be folded before you board.

I heard on the news this “refresher” came about because of commuter complaints.  Listen, I’ve taken Posey on the train in her stroller.  Several times.  And I’d like to start handing out my own flier that outlines the following:

Don’t Be An Inconsiderate Jerk! (aka, You Were Once a Baby, Too!)

  • PLEASE refrain from peeing in the elevators; I spend enough time changing dirty diapers without having to ride inside a giant moving one to get down to the platform.
  • Do not push in front of me to get on first.  You’re only making sure I will be blocking you when you have to get off before me.
  • If I am unfortunately blocking the door and am in clear violation of the policy, MOVE OVER so I can get out of the way instead of bearing down on your spot to prove a point to me.  I know you can feel my angry glare.
  • When you pretend to not see me almost fall over for the ninth time because the stroller handle is not the same as the safety bar handle thingies, slide your hand over one scootch.
  • When you see me crying because after two transfers and 75 minutes of ride time, the elevator at my destination is broken, please offer a hand instead of smirking at me like it serves me right for having a baby.

I’m offended by their flyer.  It’s not easy navigating the city with a baby.  I haven’t opened a door with any body part besides my butt in over a year.  Although they are saying they “welcome” us to ride, it’s pretty clear they mean the opposite.  If I was “asked” to fold up my stroller with one hand while holding a non-walking baby, there is a 100% probability it would end in disaster.  The people who complained are probably the same people who never offer visibly pregnant women or elderly grandmas their seats, either.  Sheesh.

Trick-Or-Treating Treat

Lately, I’ve been craving the flavors of fall– but not the calories.  Sunday, we took Posey to a Halloween parade, and here’s the pre-winter warmer I invented to fill our travel mugs with.

Chai-Spiced Cider

Voila! A decaf non-dairy treat for 65 calories, instead of a 300-calorie Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks.

Stay warm trick or treating!

First pictures of Bill & Giuliana’s Baby Boy!

Presenting Edward Duke Rancic!

Life  & Style has the exclusive with the proud new parents. Having gone through IVF at the same time they did (and even consulting with their Chicago doctor, Dr. Brian Kaplan at FCI), I was so thrilled to hear their wish was granted via a surrogate. Congrats to the whole family! Hope to have a Edward ‘n Posey playdate soon at their Chicago eatery, RPM Italian! Do they have highchairs?

 

Storytime @ Play

A favorite book of ours

Who doesn’t love a good storytime? Unfortunately, it seems like baby-centric sessions are a rarity in these parts, so I want to share a secret.

The super-cute Logan Square toy store, Play, has a storytime on Tuesdays at 11. We joined about six other mom/kid duos and trios for the fun, which today was held outside on the boulevard. The class isn’t even mentioned on their website, so you’re welcome for telling you about it. Fun stuff to know:

  • Free!
  • The woman on the phone said it’s geared to kids under “3 or 4-ish”
  • You get to hang out in a toy store, but there’s no pressure to buy anything.

Hope to see some of you there! I hear there are other options around town, like at Barnes and Noble and Psychobaby, but I’ve never been. I’ll update this list when I get a chance to check them out.

The Ballad of Penny Joanna

83 phone calls.

That’s how many times I dialed Chicago’s Galter Life Center to try to register Posey for their Aquababies swimming program.  Think that sounds nuts?  I forgot to mention that I set my alarm for 4:50 a.m., as the registration began at 5. I thought it was going to be overkill.  Instead, I quickly found out I should have had six phones to dial simultaneously.  Apparently, these are the only indoor lessons that take infants as young as six months, so classes fill up quickly.  Finally, on the 84th dial, I got through, and it felt like I won the lottery.  “Let me guess!” a chipper voice sang on the other end. “You’ve got an AQUABABY!”

Well, now I do.

My kid loves the water.  You’ve never seen happiness until you’ve seen Posey splash around in her bath tub.  So now it’s official–  I’m one of those parents who goes to insane lengths for their kids.  Or in my case, my baby.  It’s still sinking in:  I got up before 5 A.M. to make 84 PHONE CALLS to score SWIMMING LESSONS for a BABY who WON’T REMEMBER THEM and probably will still NOT KNOW HOW TO SWIM when they’re over.

And it felt awesome.

In 1984, I wanted a Cabbage Patch Kid.  So did every other kid in America.  Unfortunately for my Mom and Dad, there was no internet yet.  No pre-orders, no eBay, just empty shelves in every toy store across the nation.

Shortly before Christmas, my parents got a tip from a local store (which sadly, went out of business years and years ago) that a secret shipment was coming in.  They literally had to meet an employee at a back door to get the doll– which was disguised in brown paper wrapping.

And Christmas morning, I met Penny Joanna, a Cabbage Patch Preemie, her weird little tuft of yarn hair all yellow and fluffy. She was hidden, Red Ryder BB Gun-Style, behind a chair in the living room.  The Grand Finale.  I still remember how she smelled and the crinkly sound that the box’s plastic window made.

Swimming lessons start August 23rd, my birthday.  I can’t wait.

3 Places that Make My Life Easier These Days

Previously, I’ve complained that I would be fired if I did my job the way other people did theirs. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to sing the praises of a few Chicago businesses who just could not be getting it any more right for me lately. Here goes:

1. Kingsbury Street Cafe

Across the street from the Lincoln Park Whole Foods and adjacent to VIP’s (Chicago’s Finest Adult Entertainment) (going to skip the hyperlinks on both of those), there lies one of the finest dining experiences in the city. Rose Duong and her top-notch staff serve breakfast, lunch and dinner that’s not only out of this world, but also vegan-friendly, if you’re into that sort of thing. I brunched with my brother-in-law recently, and he ordered pancakes “for the table.” Apparently, that’s a thing (it applies to fajitas, too), and you’ll be glad it is when you order Rose’s lemon pancakes FTT. It’s also a great place to take kids ‘n babies. There’s a fantastic kids’ menu, a parking lot, and the tables are far enough apart that you don’t have to worry about your baby getting sneezed on– or your baby sneezing on someone else.

2. Town & Country Pediatrics (their site is currently under construction) 

For the first six months of her life, I took Posey to a different pediatrician’s office. It was fine, but I wasn’t 100% satisfied. We recently gave T&C a try, and I feel like I wasted the first six months of my daughter’s life. First of all, they’re open 7 days a week. Second of all, this is how they operate: Posey’s had a runny nose for a week, but her breathing was kind of loud last night so I wanted someone to take a listen to her chest. I called the office at 7am. The answering service answered. They told me they could make me an appointment with the nurse practitioner as early as 7:30am. SAY HUH? Since when does a doctor’s office offer to get you in before you’ve even had a chance to pee yet? We went in at 8:30 and were out of there in mere minutes, my nerves calmed– and the rest of the day ahead of us.

3. Frog Temple Pilates & Yoga Studio

I’ve taken classes from Randi, the owner, for years. She’s an amazing teacher. If she taught German or knitting, I’d take that from her, too. The studio has great pre-natal classes if you’re expecting, and if you already plunked yours out, Marcia teaches a Body After Baby class on Sundays. But here’s a secret: they let me bring Posey with me. During the week. I set the car seat down in the corner and pray she’s still young enough not to get mad… and get my Rolling Like a Ball on. Tuesdays at 10am is the secret bring-your-baby hour. First mat class there is free.