Monday, January 30, 2012

A teachable moment

Last week, my dad, my 10-year-old and I went out to lunch together. Heading into the restaurant, he held the door for his grandpa and for me. As I walked through, I said, "Remember, always open the door for a lady."

Grandpa chimed in. "Yes, always hold the door for a lady. It's even more important to hold a door for a lady than for a grandpa or an old man."

There are lots of teachable moments that present themselves when raising kids. I take every chance I can to emphasize kindness and courtesy to my boys.  I know I'm getting way ahead of myself, but in that moment I found myself thinking that one day he's going to fall in love. And maybe him opening doors will be one of the things that makes her fall in love with him.

"What about for a lady who's a grandma?" he asked. "Ah, that's the most important," I told him. :)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Getting into book mode again

In December, I signed a contract to do another book. This will be my fifth. I'm excited about doing it and it's always such a thrill to finally see your work in print. I just always underestimate how much work it will be. And it's not over once the book hits the shelves. Then is what is often the hardest part -- promoting it and making contacts to try to sell copies. So, here's my little marketing spiel for the week. :)

My Mom Moments book makes a great Valentine's gift for the mom in your life. It's a collection of my parenting columns over a decade's time. It's a great book to read in little pockets of time as most of the columns are just two pages. You can find it online:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

I hope it doesn't come in threes

It's said that good news comes in threes. That births come in threes. That deaths come in threes. How about household disasters? I'm at two so far this year and I don't think I can take another. First, my new cell phone, which I'd had less than two weeks, got dropped in a milkshake. Then my second mishap was setting my oven on fire while cooking steaks. I guess I shouldn't have placed the pan so close to the heat source at the top. And I guess I shouldn't have cooked a small steak on the same huge grease-filled cookie sheet that I'd just cooked three large steaks in. And I guess I should have known to NOT open the oven door when there was a fire in there. It fans the flames a little. :) You'd think a firefighter's wife would know better. Luckily hubby was home and I keep a fire extinguisher on top of the stove. And luckily the stove still works following a good cleaning. The steak wasn't so lucky. It was a goner. So, hopefully disasters like this don't come in threes. I've had enough catastrophe for one month.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Two-year-old talking like a sailor part of tonight's sitcom

So, I was reading an article today about a controversial episode of Modern Family that will air tonight in which a two-year-old slips the F-bomb while at a wedding. In reality, the little actress substituted with another word that is bleeped and her mouth is pixalated. I've seen varying comments on it, but for the most part, what I'm reading is that people are suggesting that everyone should lighten up and not tune in if they are that offended. What do you think?

I'm just kind of old school in the way that I don't swear often. I can't say I never do. I was just brought up being taught that not only was it unladylike, but it just reflected poorly on the person. My father's worst offense at his most irate would be blurting, "Well, God bless it." or "Dang it." My mom could be known to say a few four (or five or three) letter words once in a while, but not the F-bomb. I was probably 9 or 10 the first time I heard it. I actually thought it was a new word that had just been invented because I'd never heard it before.

Anyway, I don't cuss in front of my kids (although my husband has chastised me for saying frickin' or freakin' once in a while -- I guess he feels it's just as bad.) My husband and his dad have said a few swear words that the kids have heard. And I know they've heard a slew of questionable words and phrases from peers and in  PG-13 movies or games.

Kids are sponges and like little parrots, likely to repeat what they hear - good or bad. When it happens it can be a shocker. And sometimes that shock causes laughter, which of course, is terrible because it just encourages that behavior.

I can remember one time as my son was two or maybe three-years-old, he was pushing himself along the sidewalk in this big plastic pick-up truck that he'd push with his feet (kinda like Fred Flinstone.) All of a sudden, he stops sticks his head out the window and calls out "Jagoff!" Then puts his head right back in and keeps going. Hmmm...think he might have been imitating something he saw? Maybe by dad or grandpa? Yeah, pretty likely. I really had to try hard not to snicker. I was so horrified on one hand, but he did it with such conviction and in just the correct context, that you couldn't help but find the humor in it. I'm sure many other parents have been in those shoes before.

So, from what I've read about this episode, it's something that has probably happened to many parents before - a young child simply repeating something (although very inappropriate) that they've heard come out of an adult's mouth. I've only caught part of one or two episodes, which I thought were hilarious. Overall, I don't watch much television with my kids. It really doesn't seem like T.V. is the way it was when I was growing up. There were shows you could watch as a family that didn't have a lot of adult themes thrown in there or sexual innuendos - stuff like Family Ties, Different Strokes, Full House, Growing Pains, The Cosby Show, Happy Days and Wonder Years that were meant to be viewed by families. Yet, I did watch stuff like Three's Company and Love Boat and Dallas as a kid, and loved it, so I digress.

It's true that no one HAS to tune into it. We're all free to watch what we'd like. This one sounds like more "reality" than some of the reality shows.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Sometimes I'm a bad blogger

I've been really neglecting this blog lately...but I've been wonderful about posting on one of my other blogs - Chicago Foodie Sisters. I've been getting something up everyday. Sometimes it's a recipe, sometimes a restaurant review, sometimes a post on a cookbook or some colorful food photos. So, as you're waiting for me to catch up on this page, how about checking out

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Life through the lens - days 132, 133, 134

Ok, I'm really frustrated with myself for not taking advantage of all this beautiful snow to snap some shots. But, with snow comes cold and I haven't been out in it much. And...when I have, I forget my camera or don't want it to get wet from the falling snow. But, I did get these last night.

I love awards shows

I just finished watching the Golden Globes. I still love to watch them...along with the other awards shows. Even thought I often haven't seen many of the nominated films, I love to see all the celebs all glammed up for the evening. I mean, come on, I'm a mom. I don't get out to the movies every weekend anymore. When I do it's usually animated stuff. I'm clueless about the HBO and Showtime dramas. No movie channels in this house. So, even though I may not be familiar with a lot of the material, I still love to watch.

When I was a little girl, I'd always tune in to see what the ladies were wearing. I'd sit with a pad sketching out the gown I'd wear if I ever got to attend such an event. I enjoyed watching tonight. There's usually a few who stick out with some really horrible outfits, but I didn't notice any tonight (thank God Lady Gaga wasn't invited!) Everyone looked amazing. So, after tuning in, here are my thoughts on tonight:

1) I am amazed at Nicole Kidmann's figure in that dress. Holy moly!!!!

2) I LOVE Peter Dinklage!

3) Madonna's boobs aren't that huge. Why did she have so much trouble getting them to fit into that dress?

4) Angelina Jolie...smokin' as usual. Wonder if she regrets any of those tattoos?

5) Ok. We all get it. Merryl Streep is awesome, but really??? Does she really need EIGHT Golden Globes? I'm thinking they ought to cap it at like 3 and give someone else a turn.

6) Gray hair looks hot on Clooney, but just doesn't work the same on Matt LeBlanc.

7) Didn't see the beginning, but Gervais seemed tamer than in the past (also seemed to have a bit less air time.) Even so, he's generally jerky and I kinda wanted someone to grab one of those drinks he was holding and throw it in his face.

8) Good year for the French

9) Who the heck brought that dog up on stage? He upstaged the poor guy giving a very heartfelt speech. Boo for that.

10) Morgan Freeman rocks! I've thought so ever since he was teaching me the alphabet in the 70's on Electric Company.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Life through the lens - day 131

This cute shot of my son is from Lincoln Park Zoo last spring. Made me smile on this snowy, cold day when spring is a long way off. Also, it invokes a bit of bittersweet feelings because the zoo is a spot that the kindergarten kids went every year in spring on a field trip. This is my youngest in the photo. My last kindergarten field trip to the zoo. Boo! Hoo! My babies are growing up.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The first snowfall of the year

Today we're getting not only our first snowfall of the year - 12 days into January, but it's also the first snow of the season. We had one little dusting that fell in the morning and melted in the afternoon recently, so it's the first accumulation. I dropped off the kids at school this morning and when I got home it started to fall. And it's been falling ALL day. Now the wind is picking up. I'm so glad I haven't had to venture out in it. I know once the kids get home they'll have a ball playing in it. I really should go take a couple pictures of it while it is still flat and untouched. That's when it's the prettiest. But then again, it's always pretty as it falls...especially when you're watching it out a window and not in it!

Life through the lens - days 127, 128, 129, 130

Mmm....don't you LOVE breakfast? I am bad...things are always busy and hectic and most days I don't eat breakfast at all or wait until 10 or 11 a.m. to eat a piece of toast or something. But...if someone put a plate in front of me each morning that looked like this, I could most definitely get used to eating breakfast.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Life through the lens days 124, 125, 126

Well, since my dad celebrated his birthday on Friday and I'm three days, behind, I'm posting some pics of my daddy. He turned 76! Doesn't he look great for his age? Hope those genes got passed on to me. :)

Dad really is one of my best buddies. It's because of him that I'm a baseball fan...and a die-hard Cubs fan. And it's fun that I've passed that love on to my boys and that he gets to share that with his grandsons.

Here were are at a game of the Windy City Thunderbolts professional baseball team - Dad, me, my middle guy and my oldest:

And here we are enjoying a bite to eat at the Cubby Bear before a Cubs game:

And here's me, Dad and my oldest son at up at Miller Park for a Brewer's game:

All is quiet and calm on the homefront

Oohhh....I'm a little giddy right now. Two of the boys (ages 6 and 8) were in bed by 8 p.m. (their bedtime is really 8:30, but often gets pushed back to 8:45 or even 9.) Then next two oldest (10 and 12) were in bed by 8:30. They usually go to bed between 9 and 9:30.

All of the laundry is caught up. Every single bit...until I put on my pajamas in a little bit and the hamper starts filling again. The sink is empty. Completely empty. It's nice to have those two chores all caught up heading into a Monday.

Tomorrow the kids return to school after a two week break and the house will be quiet and empty, except for my teenage son, who has a teacher institute tomorrow (or so he says...maybe I should go check the school calendar.) But, it's nice to once in a while have a day to hang out with just him. If he'll hang out with me, that is. He just got a new car over the weekend. Well, it's new to him, anyway, even if it is 14 years old. So, he's been taking every opportunity to head out and drive. Maybe I can convince him to go have lunch with his old mama tomorrow. Maybe he can even drive.

And I've got to get myself back to work tomorrow. I've done way too much lounging the past couple weeks and I have looming deadlines. So, tomorrow it's back to the old grind, but feels a bit good to get back to it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Life through the lens - days 119 to 123

Well, I haven't done a very good job lately in keeping up with my Life through Lens project of posting daily pics. But, I am still posting...even if I have to do a week's worth of photos in a day. I've been having such a good time with my boys while they've been on their Christmas break, so here's 5 photos of the boys to help me get caught up.

I conquered the lids

Socks and lids. They make me insane! They need two parts to make a whole and there's always a partner that doesn't make it back to where it belongs. Since it's a new year and the kids are still out of school and I've had the luxury of a few days at home where I haven't had to leave the house, I've been on a mission to do some clean-up and organizing.

Tupperware or Rubbermaid or Gladware or plastic storage containers are all over my kitchen and pantry. I took a look around. Six shelves of kitchen cabinets and every one had a container of some sort. There were a few lids mixed in. The lower cabinets also had some of both. I had one whole drawer in the kitchen with nothing but lids. A few strays were in the pantry. Some held various items - some with lids, some without. I had to get it under control.

I also have a bad habit of collecting Redneck Tupperware -- you know, empty butter dishes, cool whip containers, bowls from restaurant soup, yogurt containers with lids. Stuff I should throw away, but I end up keeping. In my defense, I send a lot of leftovers and meals to my parent's house and I don't want to give up my "good" storage containers in case they don't make it back, even though they usually do.

This is less than half of what I had when I decided enough was enough. I vowed to match stuff up and store the lids with the containers and throw out any piece that didn't have a match. I filled two large paper bags of stuff to get rid of. It filled an entire recycling bin. The redneck Tupperware is gone. The lids and containers are matched. It takes more room, but I decided I would put lids on the containers and store them that way. I filled a paper bag that's in the corner of the pantry. I'll have to figure out a better method, but this will work for now. I had so many lids with no idea where the matching containers went. I remember several being used in the summer to catch lighting bug -- which were covered with foil, no need for a lid - and then discarded. I had sippy cup lids for cups that were long gone, melted in the microwave or otherwise damaged - and it's been a good 2 or 3 years since my youngest has used sippy cups. So, I now have more cabinet space and containers ready to use. Such a relief. Now on to some more cabinets, shelves and drawers. Lots more work to do.

The best part of date night

Ok, so my last post was on my most recent date night. We don't do date night as often as we should. With the schedules of seven people to work around and the money it requires and deciding on what we'll do, it's always difficult to get things settled and arranged, but one we do it is such a nice little break from the every day. And as much as I love my husband and enjoy spending time with him and as much as I need some quiet time after being in the noisy, crazy house inhabited by myself and six males, I have to admit, my favorite part of date night is usually the food. Is that bad?

Cooking for seven everyday is exhausting. I do take short cuts often in making meals and there are nights when hubby isn't home and the kids get microwaved corn dogs and I have a salad. But there's still preparation and clean-up and time spent at the kitchen counter. Fast food or pizza ordering is a occasional thing - maybe 2 - 5 times a month, so that's a little break once in a while, but it's just not enough. It's so nice to bypass that, even if it's only for one meal.

So, for date night, we usually go out to dinner. My husband really isn't much fun to go to the movies with. He doesn't really like to go to the movies unless it's something action packed with explosions and car crashes and lots of testosterone. He's more content sitting on the sofa watching Arnold Schwarzenegger movies he's seen three dozen times or a black and white sci-fi  or horror classic like Godzilla or Mothra or the Blob.

My choice of movies is quite different. I love comedies and of course, chic flicks, which he will have no part of. And if, by chance, I convince him to see one, he sits next to me mocking the movie or my sniffling at the sad parts. He also has a strong aversion to Ashton Kutcher and Will Ferrell, so he won't see anything they are in. Weird, huh? Movies are the one area where the guy is hard to please.

However, when our date night is a dinner night, he usually goes along with whatever I suggest. He's not picky at all in the food department. So, our last date night was for dinner. I was in the mood for steak. I picked the place. Here's what I got and it was gooooood. :)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Date Night!

Ahhhh...after several days at home with a house full of kids, I was so ready for date night. My hubby was snuggled in and not really wanting to go out, but it didn't take much convincing. I discovered I had some old certificates I hadn't used. One was a $25 gift card off of $35 at an upscale restaurant bar that I like. It 'twas really nice to get out and have a meal that someone else cooked. And I didn't even feel guilty eating my steak while the kids were at home eating corn dogs and popcorn. I won't go into all the details. I'm full and tired and content. Nothing like a night out once in a while!

Monday, January 2, 2012

I just couldn't do it

Tonight I went shopping. Not shopping for groceries. Not shopping for household needs. Shopping for clothing. It's something I kind of dread these days. I'm never happy with how I look, but I pick something out and then feel bad later for spending money on something I don't even like. It's kind of a miserable process. I do totally love shopping for clothes for my children -- most of the time. But shopping for me? Uggghhh! Not so fun anymore. Any of you moms out there with me on this one?

So, I had some Kohl's Cash to spend that expired today and this evening I went there to use it. Some people close bars. I closed Kohl's. Over two hours at the store trying on stuff I didn't like. One thing that makes it not so fun is that nothing fits right. My shoulder area is a small. My boobs are in the medium range. My middle is a large. So, yeah...hard to fit.

The bottoms are even worse. I know I'm getting old because I find myself going more for comfort than style and it terrifies me to think that I'm inching my way toward my mother's seersucker button down shirts, knit elastic pants and clogs. I swore I'd never sacrifice style for comfort...but I'm getting there.

So, back in the dressing room, I find a pair of jeans that looks decent. I was feeling pretty good. I put them in my cart. They were keepers. But I tried on some others that took away that temporary jolt of confidence. Let me back up a little here.

I have a cute pair of gray suede boots. When I was a teen and in my early 20's, I loved boots. I had these white leather ones that went up to mid-thigh. I adored them and wore them all the time. I also had gray suede ones. And black suede ones. And back in the Garth Brooks days when country line dancing was big -- really, it was -- I had a few pairs of cowboy boots I'd put on to hit the honky tonks to do some Boot Scootin' Boogie.

So last year I bought these gray boots. They go up just above the ankle. Problem is...most of my jeans are not that narrow at the bottom, so they crumple up and fall over the sides and look ridiculous.

As I'm strolling through Kohl's, I notice a table of legging jeans. I picked up a couple pairs and went to the dressing room. There's no way I would wear a pair of the tight knit leggings...there was a time that I could rock a pair of spandex leggings or a tight-fitting knitted pair with stirrups at the bottom (can you say 1987???) These days, not so much. Such a piece of attire really shouldn't even be available in a size 14. However, I thought I may be able to get away with a pair of legging jeans. Denim is a little more forgiving and if I could make them work, I could wear those cute boots.

I got into the dressing room and pulled them over my ankles and up to my thighs nodding my head in a "hey not bad!" sorta way. I got them all the way up and was pleasantly surprised. They slimmed my legs all the way up and tucked in my back side a bit. Then I zipped and buttoned them. And then I laughed. As they tucked everything in, they also pushed it up. I looked at the spillage over the waist and laughed. It was either laugh or cry. I chose to have a good giggle at my own expense. Even then, I was desperately grasping at straws. Maybe if I got a really loose shirt or wore a couple layers I could pull it off. But I knew I couldn't. I can be honest and say that I wouldn't have looked like a hot 39-year-old in a pair of tight stylish jeans...I would have looked like a disillusioned 39-year-old trying to look twenty years younger in a what looked like a pair of pajama jeans that would have been more suited for shopping at Wal-Mart than Kohl's. I can face facts and know that my skinny jean body was left behind long ago before a c-section and rounds of eating kid leftovers while standing at the kitchen counter. I'm glad I have sense enough to know that and accept it.

Oh, and one other thing I have to note about my shopping trip. As I lingered in the dressing room trying on all kinds of ill-fitting garments, I heard female voices around me. "How does this look?" "Oh, I love that." I felt a little lonely. No one with me to give me feedback or to chat with. I realized that's one reason I don't like shopping so much -- I'm going at it alone. It's so much more fun with a shopping buddy. For a minute there, I felt a little empty and started thinking how nice it might be if I'd had a daughter to go shopping with. Then, not two minutes out of the dressing room, I witness a teenager having a screaming match with her mother and down the next aisle I heard a vicious teenage girl berating her mom. I sighed with relief as they were digging in the claws. Maybe shopping alone isn't so bad after all.