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Category Archives: chicago

The Move

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When you think about the many families who have been uprooted and have lost their homes, I shouldn’t complain, and trust me when I tell you that I am grateful everyday for what we have, but catholic guilt aside, let’s be upfront and honest. Moving sucks.

We recently made the move from urban to suburban and…it sure is dark out here! 

Sure, there are great things like the fact that I haven’t seen traffic since we moved out here, and that I’m conveniently located to EVERYTHING, and that practically everything has a drive through, and did I mention I haven’t seen traffic? But I also haven’t seen people.

Yeah, yeah, there are people everywhere but they’re not as friendly as city dwellers, and I get that same look I used to get in the 70’s in Georgia that went hand in hand with the question, “what are you?” plus people here keep asking me if my very caucasian looking kids speak English…

I’ve just started a new job which I’m thrilled about, but my search for childcare is bleak.  Apparently everyone wants to take care of my kids, but with their kids at their house, and I’m just not comfortable with that. Sittercity and craigslist aren’t as commonly used here, so I’m going  to the churches, even though I’m not a churchgoer, to network for a sitter.

Frick has been a champ, starting a new school mid-year without a hitch, but there’s no parent list, no invitations allowed in the school and despite the fact that I’m making it a point to arrive early to introduce myself to other parents as we wait for the kids to come out, they aren’t very interested in making small talk.

My husband and I keep telling ourselves that it would have been a totally different experience had we moved in the spring or summer.  I guess we’ll see what happens in a few months, and if the first thaw works with the families as much as it does with the foliage!

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Eight days…

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Yes, eight.  Count them!  8 days until the LATISM conference here in Chicago.  The conference that I’ve been working on since the beginning of the year – or spring?  I can’t remember, it’s all been a blur.  One fantastic, mind-blowing, inspirational, frustrating, amazing, stupefying ride.  And it’s not over yet!

During those months there were so many other amazing things that happened in my life (a girl cannot live from work alone right?!) a few highlights include:

  • The time I Zaarly‘d someone to come clean and @AHauntrepreneur from the Zaarly Chicago dream team was the one to respond (which for the record, his mama did a good job, that boy can clean!)
  • The fabulous BlogHer-a-thon with @AnaRC and @ergeekgoddess, that’s 72 hours en tacones learning, networking and meeting all the fabulous twitterati like @LaLicenciada @laflowers @typeamom @presleyspantry and, WHAT?! Nipples and feet?! NOOOO @nibblesNfeasts !!!
  • A live radio interview with Poco A Poco bilingual radio show in Chicago with the energetic and intelligent Maya Escobar and her fabulous father, Gonzalo Escobar.
  • Frick attended a high tea with me at the Intercontinental Chicago for the Royal Wedding and it was executed phenomenally!  Every detail, every flower, every delicious morsel.
  • My husband and I celebrated 10 years of wedded bliss!  More like my husband and I and our kids (they keep following us around!!  Something about make us breakfast, help tie my shoes, I can’t do my buttons – geesh!!) celebrated our anniversary.
  • We took a family vacay to the Choo-Choo Hotel in Chattanooga, TN.  It sounded like a cool experience for the kids, and, thanks to my fabulous shopping techniques, I scored a deal for 2 nights in the converted train cars (1 night would have sufficed).  We also went to Rock City while in Chattanooga, and it rocks!  Plus, there’s a Starbucks right across the street.

Like that, there are many other great stories and people I’ve met along the way, but now, eight days before the conference, I’m freaking out because we’re moving to the suburbs at the end of this month!!!!

“I had no idea” aka “When your child enters school”

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Last year Frick was in PreK.  They played.  They sang.  They danced.  It was so much fun!  So much fun in fact that she craved more.  So we did “homework” at home.  Mind you, I’m not an educator, and I’m not very patient so God bless my cutie for actually wanted to learn with me.

This year as we were “lucky” enough to have been accepted into a Magnet School (urban speak for what suburbanites consider normal).  It’s not my neighborhood school but it holds promise.  The promise of a “better” high school, therefore a greater chance of higher scores and a great college.

Mind you the entire “selective enrollment” process is more like entering college then what you would expect for Kindergarten, it is after all just Kindergarten!  Well here in Chicago we don’t mess around when it comes to the “right schools”. It’s a two-tiered system.  You have you innocent little preschooler tested as “gifted” which are tests administered verbally by college students to preschoolers in an alien environment to ensure the best success.  Well, we did that.  I did not tutor my child in advance like some do, but we did test.  Then we filled out the paperwork requesting entry into one of the “better” schools, stood on one leg, rubbed our bellies, patted our heads and waited… and waited… and waited.

Am I crazy?  Was the question I got from an education reporter, “your neighborhood school is just fine!” Which she’s right, it is.  But according to the current information available from “those in the know” the reason parents are chomping at the bit to get into a “good” kindergarten is because this sets them on a path for success.  The chances are greater to getting in since not all parents at this age are willing to go through the process (trust me, it’s a nail biter and I did feel slightly ridiculous during the whole thing, until I received the acceptance letter).

So why am I telling you the harrowing tale?  Because you my dear, yes you with that adorable baybe pulling at your hair while you read my blog post.  And you, with a 5th grader.  And you, dad, yes you too.  We must not only be involved in our children’s education – as we show them through our actions that we care – but we must be involved in the policies.  We must learn, we must speak, we must make changes.  Or else you too will end up driving 90 minutes each way to get your little one to school in the morning.

Thomas the Train screamathon

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Today Toys R Us touted a Thomas (the train) playdate, and it sounded great, “storytime, games, special offers and coloring fun”!  Sure, I know damn well that I will end up buying the kids a train of some sort, but for my Thomas fanatics, I’d be willing to do that.  We were all excited and planned to get there early to ensure that we would be there before the craziness.  As we pulled up to the Western Ave. location in Chicago, I was pleased to see that there was ample parking, and we would therefore have an enjoyable time since we had beat the crowds, so we rushed in the store to find…

Two helpless Toys R Us employees that seemed intimidated by the throngs of screaming children who were vying to play on the GAME (singular, not games as stated), and the “game” is the train table with oh…6 trains on there. What is that a 6:1 child to train ratio?  Kids were screaming, crying, parents were stressed,  disappointed, wanting to flee, and the employees?  Ensuring everyone was signed up for the birthday club (because that has what to do with Thomas?).  When I asked them if there was anything else, she showed me a little packet of sticker? poster? who knows, she just picked it up and put it back on the table, and showed me that she had a book, but the kids were out of control, so…? She just shrugged her shoulder.

Oh and the special offers?  On the large table sets, or if you buy a $40 set, you get the second one half off. Imagine that, I get to spend $60, now isn’t that special?!  I believe the single trains may have been on sale, but since I arrived 15 minutes into the screamathon all of the lower priced Thomas items were no longer in stock.

Many other parents were turned off, as I was, by this faux-vent, after all an employee with a conductor hat and copies of a coloring page with crayons on a card table next to the train table (which is normally there anyway), does not an event or playdate make.

Toys R Us, if you would like any input on how to put together a successful playdate, I’m happy to help, or can recommend someone to you, otherwise, I’m sticking to my online shopping.

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