LA & M Spells…

Published Date: April 7th, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |

The interesting thing about living down the road from the Leather Archives & Museum (LA & M), is that your 6-year-old son will eventually want to go there. Because really—what isn’t interesting about leather?

Unfortunately, this museum is not so much ABOUT leather, but about the LEATHER SUBCULTURE, i.e., “leather, fetishism, sadomasochism, and alternative sexual practices” (according to the TOTALLY factual and legitimate Wikipedia article I read on the museum).

So I’m thinking this might not be a museum I suggest for the next kindergarten field trip. Considering I needed to sign away my life just to go to the museum’s website, I can’t even imagine how a permission slip would even be worded for this one.

And don’t get me wrong—I support the leather subculture. I’ve been to IML (International Male Leather, for those of you who CLEARLY do not support the leather subculture) and have made small talk during cocktail hour with a bunch of heavily bearded, lovely men wearing leather chaps. And ONLY wearing leather chaps.

I’m just saying that a day at the LA & M might not be appropriate for a 6-year-old. Regardless, he really wants to go. How do I know? Because lucky us—the kid has now learned how to read signs.

As we were driving home the other night, G loudly asked:  

“L…A…M….What does that spell? LAM? What’s LAM? Is that a restaurant? A museum? I wanna go.”

Silence from the front seat. John and I don’t know what to say. Quick John finally responds with:

“It’s a club.”

G: “A club? What kind of club? Can kids go?”

John and Serena LOUDLY in unison: “NO! It’s a club only for adults.”

G: “Well, have you been there? What’s it like? I remember we sat on the steps once.”

We sat on the steps? Why were we sitting on the steps at the Leather  Archives & Museum?!!

Serena: “No, we haven’t been there. We’ll let you know when we do.”

And then John quickly asked G which Michael Jackson song he wanted to listen to for the rest of the way home.

So the good news is that we have a curious, information-seeking child who likes to go to new museums. The bad news is that this one happens to be in walking distance to our house and that you have to be 18 to enter…

Clever, Clever Me…

Published Date: March 26th, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |

I am SO tired of the daily battle I have with my son about what we should play on the radio while we are driving. Every day it is a battle because:

a)      I would like to listen to WXRT

b)      I would like to NOT listen to one of the numerous Michael Jackson CD’s my husband has now fed my son’s Michael Jackson obsession with

But yesterday was a doozy of an argument. That ended with G crying and me doubled up in silent chuckles. Which is mean, I know. But you’ll see why. Let me set the scene.

8:40 am on Thursday morning. Serena has not had any coffee and since G was busy screwing around in his bedroom for 10 minutes, we are now late and have about 15 minutes to make it to school before the 1st bell rings. Serena turns on the radio and her favorite song by Cee Lo comes on.

G: Why do we always have to listen to this song? I hate this song.

Me: Why do you hate this song? This song is great! Remember, this is the song from the Grammy’s where the Muppets came out? You love this song!

Serena starts singing along and is starting to feel like this day might not be so bad after all.

G: Stop it! Stop singing along! I hate it when you sing along!

Serena is starting to think that maybe G didn’t have HIS coffee either.

G: You’ve been choosing the songs for THREE MONTHS. I want to listen to a song. I want to listen to that new Michael Jackson CD that DADA gave me.

S: No. I want to listen to this song first. Then we can listen to your song.

Absolute silence for the next minute, where I can finally appreciate my song in silence. But then the song is over.

G: Okay! Put on my song! From that last CD DADA gave me!

I rummage around while trying to drive 40 miles an hour down Ashland, as we are still late. After a minute, I realize the CD he is talking about is on the other side of the car and I cannot reach it without us pulling over. I am CLEARLY not pulling over.

Me: Well, I can’t find it. We’ll just listen to this other Michael Jackson song that is on this CD.

G: You’re mean!

Silence on my part.

G: You’re VERY mean!

More silence.

G: You think you’re so clever, but you’re not.

Which then produced tears on G’s part and silent laughter on mine.

Clever? Where did he get that one? I haven’t felt clever since my 7th grade science project on the migration of monarch butterflies.

So that is how my morning is spent, Monday through Friday. It has gotten to the point where we sometimes just drive in silence, with him repetitively kicking my seat and me glaring at him in the rearview mirror. Any suggestions on how to handle the Great Battle for the Radio would be highly appreciated. Because it looks like until a treaty is reached, it’s silence or Michael Jackson for me…

Failed Composter

Published Date: March 17th, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |

So I just have to finally admit it to the world–I am a failed composter. It is something I have been trying to hide, but just cannot anymore.  And thanks to my son, I have also realized that I pretty much suck at “going green.”  Every day he reprimands me for running the water while I brush my teeth, for not recycling properly, for using the electricity in the garage to park our car (? This one I don’t get so much).

I try. I really do.

We only have one car. We turn off all the lights. I rarely buy bottled water, with the exception for our HIGH MAINTENANCE frog, who can only swim around in SPRING WATER. We tried to compost. We tried to recycle. We tried to grow our own vegetables.

But alas, our compost isn’t composting, our recycling efforts have diminished because our ward is the one ward on the northside that does not have the blue recycling bins and the vegetables, well, let’s just say our summer war with the evil squirrels was sadly lost last year and the only item we had left was arugula.

Yep. Arugula.

So we are moving forward. With a new project. We have signed up for one of those boxes of locally grown, organic produce through G’s school. And we are going to eat it. And blog about it. Which honestly, wouldn’t sound that exciting to me with the one exception:

I don’t really cook. Well, I do. But I am not a big fan. And I am not an especially big fan of:

a) looking for new recipes
b) looking for new recipes that take longer than 10 minutes to prepare
c) looking for new recipes that take longer than 10 minutes to prepare and use scary-sounding cooking terms like “brine, butterfly, or deglaze”

And to add onto this what looks like will be a disaster anyway, John doesn’t really like foods that are green. So there’s that. This new project might change our lives. Maybe I will start to enjoy cooking (doubtful, but maybe)? Maybe we’ll feel healthier and loose all sorts of weight (again, doubtful, but maybe)? Or maybe we’ll try this for 1 month and realize that there are other ways for us to save the environment (like donating money to environmental causes).

Regardless, it will be an entertaining ride and in the end, if you thought you were a Green Movement Slacker, you can always check out:

And I guarantee, we’re bigger slackers than you are.

Enjoy it and yes, I (in theory) will keep both blogs going. For the 10 readers out there who care…

The Kale Chronicles

Published Date: March 1st, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |


“This is the BEST thing I’ve ever eaten, Mama! I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!”

“I agree! Let’s make it every day. It’s delicious!”

I bet you think we were talking about pizza. Or ice cream. Maybe chocolate cake or Salt and Vinegar potato chips.

Think again. We were talking about kale.

Yep. Kale. I somehow managed to trick my 6-year-old into thinking that kale is delicious.

For those of you wondering, ‘what is kale (like I was all of 1 day ago)?’ let me educate you—it is a gross-looking, dense, dark-green, leafy vegetable with thick stems and a rubbery, pre-cooked texture

I know. Sounds delicious.

You are now probably wondering, ‘why on earth would she go out and buy this on purpose when she could EASILY get her child to eat carrots or peas?’

Because we’ve decided to GO GREEN and support G’s school by getting one of those weekly organic fruit and vegetable boxes. We are eating healthy and 20% of the price is kicked back to his school.

Great—what a win-win situation!

Until you are left with a box full of sweet potatoes, red chard, and kale. Which are not normally items we eat on a weekly basis. Or a monthly or yearly basis for that matter.

But no worries. I have learned with situations like these, we need to make things EXCITING and FUN! So G and I opened up the SURPRISE!!! box of fruits and vegetables (because really, what child doesn’t like opening up a box of anything, even if it is filled with healthy food) and put away the items we knew how to eat (oranges, grapefruits, brown potatoes, etc.) and then put our mystery items on the counter. Where we quickly ran to the internet to find out how to prepare them.

Turns out if you slather anything in olive oil, sea salt, and then roast it, it’s delicious.

So now we have a favorite new food—kale chips.

I shutter a little bit at this thought because I feel like our next step will be karob chip cookies and the removal of our television, like all of my crunchy friends’ parents did in the 70s. So their children could grow up to later become sugar and television junkies. Regardless, I feel like my weekly need to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race while eating a bowl of chocolate mint ice cream will save us from TOTALLY going down that path…

Dish Towel Optional

Published Date: February 10th, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |


I couldn’t help myself. I just had to buy my son a $26 dress shirt and a $16 silk tie.

Come on—the kid only has his kindergarten graduation pictures once.

Regardless, I did realize the ridiculousness as he stood in the mirror and looked back at me and was pretty much a small version of my husband. Can I help it that I wanted him to look rich? That I wanted him to look professional? At age 6?

Well, between his baby blue sateen, Calvin Klein button-down shirt to his black, 100% silk tie, he looked all of the above. And then I proceeded to be a total freaky, Beauty Queen Pageant mom as I wrapped a dish towel around his neck as he ate breakfast, combed his hair TWICE before his pictures, and then made him take it all off after his pictures, so he wouldn’t ruin his fancy duds at school.

And during all of this craziness all I could think of was,

“Really, Serena? For one silly picture that we probably won’t even hang up, since we haven’t hung up any of his other school pictures for the last three years? The school pictures that I have proceeded to lose?”

But for a few brief minutes in time, I got those crazy moms. Those moms who wouldn’t bat a tiny eyelash at buying their children a silk tie, since they are buying their 5-year-old daughters $1000 worth of make-up every year. It is such a domino effect—the pictures lead to the nice dress shirt which of course had to be followed up with a snazzy tie.

Meanwhile, half of his little guy friends were just in their nicely pressed, Target button-down shirts, and they looked just fine. Why I couldn’t do that, I don’t know. Maybe it is the old child model in me.

Now I will obviously have to find numerous places for my son to wear his $50 worth of dress clothes. Easter is a definite, of course. I am hoping he has to dress up again for his actual kindergarten graduation. And then there are a slew of park district Valentine’s Day dances we are going to this weekend that I might recommend are “black tie optional.” If you hit any of them, just look for him. He’ll be the exquisitely dressed kid with the dish towel around his neck…

Recycled Eggs

Published Date: January 20th, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |


Turns out the Easter Bunny is concerned about the environment.

How do I know this, you wonder?

Well, because that is what my son told me.

It all went down in the basement. I was doing laundry and G was meandering about, looking for hidden presents and broken toys as we were on the “bad” side of the basement (i.e., the unfinished side of our basement that houses our laundry and all the things we don’t want people to ever see). And then he looked up. And asked me one of those questions that us parents just dread hearing.

“Mama, remind me why my Easter basket is here with all the plastic eggs.”

My heart stopped. I panicked. Why was it there? Was it supposed to be hidden? What did we tell him? Oh crap. I was caught. The whole Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny House of Cards was about to start tumbling down, just because of a damn blue basket with some stupid eggs.

And then I blurted out,

“Well, let’s see. I think I remember that we leave it here for the Easter Bunny to pick up every year because he likes to use the same one since he doesn’t believe in wasting things.”

Silence. Me pretending to calmly shove the wet laundry into the dryer as my mind continues to race, wondering how I am really going to explain why his Easter basket is still in the basement.

“Oh. That’s right. He’s concerned about the environment. He likes to recycle. Like Mr. Leki.”

Like good old Mr. Leki, his ecology teacher and overall environmental guru at his school. I knew there was a reason we worked so hard to get him into this fine arts magnet school with an ecology focus—so he could believe in the Easter Bunny for one more year.

Big sigh of relief. I didn’t even have to make up some sort of weird troll in the fireplace story for this one.

I replied with,

“Totally. He’s such a green Easter Bunny. Such a good recycler.”

And we left it at that, as we went upstairs to search for our under-the-sink composter that I hadn’t used in months…

Little Boy

Published Date: January 7th, 2011
Category: Weekly Thought |


Tomorrow my little boy turns six.

Today he still reached for my hand as we walked to school. He also let me kiss him good-bye as I dropped him off and was very excited about his once-yearly “Lunchable” he chose for his “birthday lunch” at school. Today he still believes in Santa Claus and runs to me crying for a hug when he falls down on the playground and is still interested in one last minute of “super snuggly hugging” before we start our day.

Today my child is a little boy who still needs his mom, but tomorrow or next month or maybe a year from now, he will make that magic transformation from sweet-smelling, tight-pajama-wearing, incorrect-word saying little guy into tall and skinny, smelly-sock, secretive big boy who would prefer to hang with his friends than with his mother, and my God, that thought brings tears to my eyes every time.

I cannot believe how fast six years have gone by and now when I think about how long it is taking us to adopt our second child, I am realizing that maybe the wait was a little gift in itself. Yes, our two children will now have many years between them and they probably won’t be buddies while they are young, but this wait has also given us extra magic time with G where we can truly appreciate and experience EVERYTHING with him, which I have observed is a bit hard to do with multiple children.

So today I am thankful for my sweet and caring little boy, for the alone time I have had with him, and for the fact that somehow, every day I love him just a little bit more. As we found out this past fall, you never know what life will bring you, but I am so happy life brought me him.

Happy early birthday to my sweetie sweetie!

What Happens in Kindergarten Stays in Kindergarten

Published Date: December 17th, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

In case you are not up on the kindergarten cool factor, the cool kids these days are losing their teeth.

At school. Which, when you are a volunteer lunch lady, is kind of gross.

Nothing like having to find some used Ziploc baggie to put some OTHER child’s mangy looking tooth into. And then helping them shove their TINY tooth in its crumbly bag into his miniscule pocket so his parents can take pictures of it and more importantly, so the tooth fairy can come and insure that our children become materialistic beings like ourselves.

Well, poor G has not lost any of his teeth. Not only has he not lost them, none of them particularly look like they are going anywhere. He has therefore become a “tooth-losing enabler.” What does that mean, you wonder? It means that his friends who have loose teeth come to him at lunch to see what types of crunchy foods he has to offer. And then they really work on it to GET THAT TOOTH OUT.

The other day, one of his friends, O, had a loose tooth. So G decided to share his bag of radishes with him (what kind of mom sends radishes to school for lunch, you wonder? The kind of mom whose child NEVER wants to buy the school lunch, so she gets creative). After TWELVE radish slices, what do you know, out came O’s tooth. I guess this is what occurred, per his mother, because as you will see, parents are NOT supposed to know about ANYTHING that goes on at school. The probably only found out this much because she noticed her child was missing a tooth when he came home:

O:  Well, my tooth was loose, so G gave me something crunchy.

O’s mother:  What crunchy did you eat????  You ARE NOT supposed to share food (O has a nut allergy).

O:  MOM, it DIDN’T have nuts.  It was a radish.  A radish that wasn’t spicy.

 When O’s mother asked him if she could call me to tell me this funny story, this was his response:

 O:  Mom, we aren’t supposed to tell Moms about what happens in school.

O’s mother:  So, it’s like a pact?

O:  Yes, a pact that we don’t tell moms anything about school.

 So parents in G’s class, beware—from this point on, you will be forever clueless about what REALLY goes on in school. And like the Las Vegas campaign, I fear this might be a national pact, so don’t feel like you are in the clear, Northeastern and Southern friends. Oh no—what happens in kindergarten STAYS in kindergarten…

You Better be the Next Tiger Woods

Published Date: December 10th, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

Without the sex addiction, of course.

I spent my morning at Dick’s Sporting Goods and found myself spending $100 on GOLFING equipment. And lest you think I am a golfer you should know this—3-year-old children have better scores than I do on the miniature golf course.

Oh no, the golfing equipment was for my 5-year-old son. And in case you are thinking, “Wow, John is really starting early. Maybe he has dreams of spending his summer weekends bonding on the greens with his son,” think again. John has dreams of bonding with his son ON THE COUCH. Or PLAYING LEGOS.

Neither of us play golf or have any interest in golf.

Which is why we now wish we had NEVER taken G miniature golfing 3 years ago in Door County. Because now he is a self-proclaimed golf fanatic. We have played at every miniature golf course in a 15-mile radius of Chicago and I spent about 5 hours looking for a golf camp for him to attend last summer.

Ergo the trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods to purchase him a golf set. Or clubs. Or whatever the correct term is for a grouping of golf paraphernalia.

Although the golf expert or pro or golf equipment specialist was incredibly helpful, I honestly felt like I was in my own Charlie Brown special, since whenever he started talking about the differences between the $120 set and the $80 set, my eyes would glaze over and I would eventually just hear,

“Well, this one has graphite clubs and whaaa whaaa whaaa whaaa, whaaa, whaaa whaaa whaaa…”

At one point just started referring to the different sets as “the Blue set” or “the Red set” so I had some idea of what he was saying.

In the end, I went with “the Blue set” because blue is G’s favorite color and it cost less money. Probably not the best way to put your son on the road to golf stardom.

Whatever. The kid now has clubs. Which he will get for his birthday. As to what I am going to do while he is playing all of this golf, I don’t know. I guess if I was really dedicated, I would be one of those parents who “learn with their children.” But I just can’t get past the thought of wearing those funny clothes (red cropped pants? Visors? Polo shirts? Unless I can show up in all black or in a full-length, strapless sundress, I’m afraid this is not happening for me) and horror of all horrors, wearing those UGLY SHOES.

Therefore, I am taking all suggestions of golf courses in the city. That are on the lake. And preferably have a nice bar. You can just look for me—I’ll be the one wearing all black and reading Vogue.

Cakewalk Junkie

Published Date: November 29th, 2010
Category: Weekly Thought |

Hi. My name is Serena. And I’m a cakewalk junkie.

Now for those of you wondering, “what is she talking about? What is a cakewalk?”

Quite simply, a cakewalk is a way to hook your child on gambling at an early age. I mean it’s a cute fundraiser for his school.

Here is how it works:

1)      Some parent who has fond memories of cakewalks as a child volunteers to be in charge of this year’s cakewalk at her child’s Artisan Fair.

2)      The parent then starts collecting names of parents who will donate a cake or 12 cupcakes to the event.

3)      When this doesn’t work, the parent GUILTS her friends into donating a cake or 12 cupcakes to the event.

4)      Then, the parent panics, because she just remembered that she HATES baking.

5)      The parent calls her mother-in-law (i.e., Supermother), who graciously agrees to bake 7 cakes.

6)      Now the parent’s husband figures out appropriate songs to be played at the cakewalk. His normal music tastes range from Naked Raygun to Belle & Sebastian, so this is a bit tricky.

7)      After the music is selected, both parents argue as to who should create 15 cards with numbers written LARGELY and NEATLY on them that then need to be laminated.

8)      Parent #1 somehow figures out how to get all 30 donated cakes to her son’s school by 9 am on Saturday while her husband takes her son to his last soccer game.

9)      Both parents forgot that their son’s last soccer game was on the same day and time as the now DREADED cakewalk.

10)  After the numbers are set up in a circle, the cakes are arranged on some sort of card table (that still needs to be acquired), and children line up with their money (the amount also still needs to be decided), walk around the circle of numbers to music (which is hopefully not Jay-Z) and when the music stops, they stand on a number. A number is pulled out of a hat (that is if the parents remember to create a SEPARATE stack of numbers to indeed be pulled out of the hat) and if the #10 is called, whichever child is standing on #10 gets to pick a cake. Much to his parents’ delight, as the child will most DEFINITELY assume that it is HIS cake and that he gets to EAT IT ALL BY HIMSELF.

After reading this I know you are wondering, “What is so fun about this? Why is she a cakewalk junkie?”

Because in my 8 years of participating in cakewalks, I never won a damn cake. That’s right. No cake for me. And every year I kept playing and every year, I went home with no cake, but some sort of goldfish in a plastic bag filled with water that my parents would have to quickly figure out how to take care of.

Therefore, I have deemed this year as “The Year I Win a Cake.” That’s right—I am organizing the cakewalk just so I can fix the game. So if you do come to our son’s Artisan Fair (held at Waters School, 12/4, 10-3 pm, 4540 N. Campbell), you better get out of my way. Because that cake IS MINE…