Monday, June 30, 2008

Speech progress

Nea has been making a lot of progress lately, but not much in spontaneous speech. More so when being prompted to add the final T to words she says like “lou(d).” The final D is harder than a final T, so I say she’s just saying it in German: laut.

But then two days ago she made two exciting developments. She wanted a penny to throw into the fountain so she tugged at my purse and said “money.” Later after dinner I wanted to wash her hands, but she examined her hands and said “no dirty.” Her first spontaneous two word combo.

Nea turned four yesterday, and I’m feeling pretty good!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Returning groceries

You may not know this, but it's very easy to return things to the grocery store. I don't do it that often, but it's amazing what reasons they'll accept and refund your money. That’s what the service counter is for.

Spoiled food that you are holding in front of them is Beginner Level Returns. I like to think that many years ago, when I successfully returned a $7 watermelon for which I had only the receipt in hand, was at least Advanced Intermediate Level.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


I can't stand the irony of the library book we apparently lost. It's called "Where's Waldo now?" Under the radiator? Behind the fridge? Somewhere in the back of a damn closet?! How the hell should I know!!

Waldo, it's not funny anymore. Ollie ollie oxen free already.

Monday, June 23, 2008

True friends

True friends contemplate taking a monarch caterpillar back from vacation with them in a jar, and placing the imposter in your veggie garden. True friends then decide not to, as none can be found that are “as big as Marvin.”

Public service announcement: If you have a serviceberry bush or tree, get out there and harvest! Yummy straight off the tree or with vanilla ice cream.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thrifty parenting

I went downtown with the kids today. We took the train. Kids ride free all summer on Metra – did you know that? I didn’t. The conductor never came to collect my fare, either. So, that was free. Then N picked us up, since he worked a half day. We parked by Buckingham Fountain and ate the picnic I had packed. The meter was broken, so that was free. We drove to Navy Pier and parked. Went to the Children’s Museum, which is free for my company’s employees. We then went to the Shanghai Circus - Gold show, also free, through someone at N’s work (let me know if you want the info). Spent $6.50 on healthy snacks there (popcorn, cotton candy). Paid $16 on parking.

So, we saved:
$3 (train)
0.50 (parking meter)
$36 (Children’s Museum)
$75 (Shanghai Circus – Gold)
$114.50 TOTAL

And spent just over $20 for a lovely day downtown.

Monday, June 16, 2008

It's like falling off a bike

Wow, if you have a kid that’s about to try riding a bike without training wheels, have I got a great product for you! The Balance Buddy made it so painless for everyone. Boo is almost done learning how to ride her bike now, and we just installed this thing over the weekend. Plus it’s only $18.

Of course, we actually borrowed a friend’s. Thanks, Erin, yer the best.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Book club pick for July

Cool modern book club person or shameless product hussy? You decide! Do not expect poll to be forthcoming.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Marvin Update

Marvin has doubled in size in the past week or so. He's still on the same dill plant. I'm a little concerned, because according to teh Internets, he only eats milkweed. Tomorrow I'm taking a milkweed leaf over to his plant, just in case he's sick of dill. I bet he is. "Dill, dill, dill" he's thinking, "Sweet Baby Jesus, I'm so sick of dill."

Luckily I've been growing milkweed in the garden for a few years now, specifically for monarchs. So bringing him some is no big effort. Maybe I'll use a paper clip to attach it to his dill plant. Won't that confuse the wee bug.

Remember Heimlich from A Bug's Life? Yeah, that's pretty much what we've got going here.


A long time ago I was dating this guy, and when he dumped me, he said it was because I talked about my dreams too much. Eh. I’m thinking there were other problems in the relationship*, but I’ve shut up about my dreams since then. Even though they are often amusing. And since you can ignore me here if I’m boring you, I’ll just take a minute to recount the themes of my dreams in the last 15 years or so.

Back when I was single, my main two bad dream scenarios were elevators and teeth. Each dream was different, but featured either unsafe elevators or teeth breaking/falling out/bending. In my very last elevator dream, someone asked whether I wanted to take the elevator and I looked at the rusty, rickety thing and said, “No, I think I’ll take the stairs. I have bad elevator dreams.”

For incredibly obvious reason, the last seven years have featured old houses with major problems. Either huge holes in the floors, or more interestingly, extra stories or rooms. Once an extra roommate in an extra wing. Now that our real house is essentially finished, those dreams have tapered off, too.

Now my only reoccurring dream is losing Nea. As in, she runs off when I’m not paying attention. Recently I woke up and she was right next to me, but I still felt like she was missing and I should be panicky, as I’d just been in the middle of losing her in my dream.

*Ha! JMP, do I hear you giggling?

Monday, June 9, 2008

Garden news

This is Boo's garden. Can you spot the onions, tomatoes, strawberries, dill, and parsley (trick question -- it's very small). It's all growing very well, I think.

Have I mentioned that we have roughly 1000 dill plants this year? Anyone want any dill? Luckily, Marvin* is on the case! I expect him to go through a plant or two before he shuffles off to another phase of his life.

*Yes, that's right -- Marvin is a monarch-butterfly-to-be.

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Hey, look, I have a new email address available on my profile.

Fish, vegetables, recycling

May was Easter Seals month for my little Amazon ad, but sadly no purchases were made. Luckily I had hit up some friends for online donations and we raised $350 dollars that way! Thank you to Tish, Adam, Wolf, Pam, Steve, Greg, John, and Beth. We love Easter Seals and fully believe in their mission, values, and incredible help and support that they make affordable to thousands of families in Illinois and nation-wide.

So now my Amazon link will raise funds for Heifer again. I looked at their WorldArk newsletter today, and there was a lot of useful information. I thought I’d sum up some of it here.

Seafood Watch: eco-friendly seafood selector, including pocket-sized guides you can carry with you.

Plant a Row for the Hungry: how to donate extra vegetables from your garden to local food banks.

MyBoneYard: recycles cell phones, computers, etc. They pay for shipping and then pay you for your device. Anyone use this before? Please report back and let me know how it went.

Sound like the sort of newsletter you’d like to receive? Sign up here!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


I know I talk too much about Nea on this blog and not enough about Boo. That’s because Boo is a normal going-on-6 year old, who doesn’t cause me anxiety attacks. So, here’s what Boo is up to these days:

  • She is a monkey on the flying trapeze of our playset. She does amazing tricks all day every day, unless she is inside playing with the dollhouse.
  • She wants to play “puppy” all day with Nea.
  • She wants to draw all day.
  • She bikes and scooters up and down the driveway all day. She’s now on a trail-a-bike thing when we do longer rides, which she really enjoys. She's so big!
  • She’s out of her pirate stage, and into Star Wars. She’s seen all 6 movies, and if you have a problem with that, go talk to N. It’s all his fault.

As you can see, that adds up to a lot more than a normal day’s worth of activity, which is why she’s so busy all the time.

Monday, June 2, 2008

U-Pick Farms

When I was a kid, we would drive to Michigan every year to harvest cherries. Lots of cherries. I remember once we went for peaches instead, and it was a whole new world. You know how many cherries you need to pick to fill a bucket? Many. And how many peaches? Very few. Plus that spoiled me for store-bought peaches pretty much for life. Which is why we have a peach tree in the yard. Oh, and there was that time Dad fell off the cherry-picking ladder. I'm thinking the economic return was lost that year.

So, anyhow, now that the kids are a little bigger, I'm thinking it's U-Pick-Em time. Here's a guide to Chicago area farms to try out. It's a little early yet, but rhubarb and asparagus are sure to be available. If that sounds like too much work, here's a listing of farmers' markets nation-wide.

Edited to add: Here's a much better listing of Chicago-area farmers' markets.