Alright Chicago, you win this round

By on Feb 21, 2016 in Chicago, Life With Three | 0 comments

Man, that first fake Spring day in February. It’s the best.  After two and a half long months of weather in the 20’s and 30’s (if we’re lucky), a surprise wash of heat from the South sends the temperature surging into the 50’s, and Chicago goes nuts.  You’ll find runners on the lakefront with no shirts, dad’s barbecuing with a beer in one hand, and pasty neighbors emerging from a season-long hibernation.  It’s truly the best. Except in the long run, it might be the worst.  For whatever reason, despite years of experience with the February fake-out, I decide each year that winter is over and my winter coat can be set aside in favor of a light fleece.  It’s Spring, baby!  I can pretty much see the sun!  Don’t drag me down with your “winter apparel”.  And, unfortunately, Leah’s not any better and we end up dragging the kids down to our level of delusion.  That was the case today as the weather dipped back down into the 30’s, bring along with it a frigid Northwest wind. We needed a few things from the store for tonight’s dinner – things we couldn’t find at Harvesttime.  So hey, why not make an outing of it and take a family walk to Jewel.  It’s sunny out and it’s basically Spring.  Kids, put on your sweatshirts; coats are for losers! It’s Spring!* It actually started out pretty fun.  We raised Rocky’s seat on his bike so he could get a little leverage (that boy won’t stop growing), and he was moving with a little more confidence on his bike.  They would ride ahead to each street, pausing to wait for us as we sauntered up along Campbell street. Fun times, guys!  High fives for Mom and Dad!  Screw you, Winter! And then… We turned into the wind.  Momentum slowed as an arctic wind buffeted the kids back.  They struggled to pedal, gritting their teeth as the wind turned their fingers and ears a nice, bright red. “I can’t go, it’s too hard,”  Rocky cried.  Veronica, she just cried, my attempted to cover her exposed fingers failing miserably.  And all the while, we were aware that this was a cross wind and it was actually going to be in our faces on the ride home. While Leah was corralling the kids on their bikes, half dragging them to the Jewel, I was pushing Veronica in the stroller.  It seemed like something was dragging, like when the diaper bag strap gets wrapped around a wheel. I took a look down, but no straps.  The wheel was, however…a little askew.  Huh.  I took a look closer, and it was more than askew.  The wheel was separated from the axle.  The weld that held the wheels together had broken clean off, leaving us with one wheel drift away from the stroller. So we were a mile from the house with: two frozen kids on bikes near tears, one three-wheeled stroller, and one underdressed toddler quite tearful.  Man, these really are the best of times.  And we still had to get home. The way home was certainly fun, in the same way the Bataan death march was fun.  Leah and I behind the kids, driving them forward, while the tears rolled down their cheeks. Lucy: “My fingers are so cold.” Leah: “Lucy, what did I say.  Complaining about it doesn’t make it any less cold.  We’re already well aware that you’re cold.” Rocky: “My ears hurt so bad.” ** We finally made it to Western and Lincoln, probably a half mile from our house, when I look down.  “Fuck.  Leah, we’re down a shoe.” Veronica wiggled her toes in her stripped sock.  Back I go to find the shoe. Leah: “Run” The shoe only fell off four blocks back.  No big deal.  Add frozen toes to the list of parenting fails for the day.  I grabbed the shoe and bolted back to find Leah and the kids.  At this point, the stroller wheel had gone from behaving badly to behaving dead.  The only way to move it was to lift the back end.  At this point, Rocky just tipped over on his bike, playing dead to avoid further pain.  Leah picked him up in one arm and dragged the bike along in another while I brought the stroller along behind, lifting the back wheels off the ground.  But hey, at least everyone was crying. So yes, you won Chicago.  You sucked us in with your little Spring ruse and knocked us down with your Winter chill.  Hope you feel good about yourself. But hey, at least we can say lesson learned, right?  Coats back on at least until mid-March? Maybe.  At least until the next fake Spring day.   * Before anyone calls DCFS, we did take jackets with us below the stroller.  Light jackets.  Without gloves or hats.  Okay, fine, call DCFS. ** seriously, nobody wins if you call the authorities...

The Highs and Lows of #beingasportsfan

By on Oct 21, 2015 in Chicago, Cubs | 1 comment

The Chicago Cubs. The Fucking Loveable Losers. At the end of last season we were actually a little bit excited. Sure they finished last in the division. Sure they lost 89 games. But. They were fun in the last month. Soler hit the ball far. We had prospects! Bryant would play in 2015! We would do *something*. And we did. We were the third best team in Major League Baseball this year. And still the second wild card because the #NLCentralIsAwesome. And then. We beat the Pirates in the one off. We beat the Cardinals in the 5 game series. And OMG the happiness. The cheering. The toasting. The “Bring It” attitude we had to either the Mets or the Dodgers. Hashtag WeGotThis. Oh the confidence! The Monte Carlo simulations showed the Cubs winning the World Series 35% of the time! How could we lose?! And now. Here we are, down 3 games to none to the goddamn Mets. Currently down 6-0 in the second inning. Jason and I were at the game yesterday and I literally thought he was going to crawl under his chair when Cahill threw that wild pitch. The highs and lows of being a sports fan are ridiculous. We are full of the sadness. Although….I don’t think the sadness is as severe as it could be. Because my god we have a lot to look forward with this team. This team is super young…..they won 97 games this season and made it to the NLCS. After losing 89 games LAST YEAR! But let’s look to next year. We are losing almost no one. Who could we get? The possibility of Heyward? Price? Cute (although with his postseason…maybe not)? Grienke? The rumor mill will be churning starting tomorrow (unless they dig their way out of this game). And we look forward. It was a fun season. Maybe I’m writing this in the hope that I give it up to the Baseball Gods to show me that in baseball you always have to get all the outs and the Mets haven’t yet….it’s not over. Go Cubs!...

Chicago: February

By on Feb 25, 2015 in Chicago | 0 comments

February in Chicago. The only saving grace is that it’s only 28 days long. Although the those 28 days feel like an eternity. It’s snowing. Again. It’s gray. Again. February is like the red headed step child of the year. Every year I know this. Every year I’m looking forward to March. Not for any good reason since March is never that much better. But at least we have March Madness to look forward to. Plus spring break and trip somewhere warm greats us at the end of the month. But February. Really no redeeming qualities. Valentine’s Day? Eh. But we are Chicagoans. We have chosen to live in this great city. We are tough. We endure. I ran outside today. And it was gray. And snowing. And icy. And windy. But it is what it is. Anyone can run in San Diego. Go to the lakefront for a run (or bundle up for a long walk), leave the headphones at home and enjoy the quiet and serenity of a virtually empty lakefront. It’s beautiful. And eventually summer comes. Street fairs, beaches, long walks and ice cream. Late summer nights with beers in the backyard and the kids running circles around us. The guy next door throwing his birthday bash, live band and all. Baseball. Baseball. Baseball. Live music in the square on Thursdays. Outdoor dining for every meal. The best. And so we have to live through February. We have to. Because we choose to live here. Because summer eventually happens. And because in its own way, February is beautiful. If you don’t believe me watch this video:…to be fair, this was shot in January. But still. The point...

It’s Not All Sunshine and Unicorns Farting Rainbows

By on Feb 18, 2015 in Chicago, General Family, Life With Three, Parenting | 0 comments

My old neighbor came by for a visit yesterday. We were talking about how social media frequently gives the perception of perfection, making those of us that aren’t perfect, question our choices and decisions. The point is not whether or not we should feel this way, but the fact that we do. The fact that people do tend to post the best of their lives and not the nitty gritty, shitty and frustrating times. She mentioned she liked this site because we are fairly honest and so here you go my friend, this post is just for you. Lucy has swimming lessons on Tuesdays at 4pm. Usually Rocky is still napping and thus I take her while my Dad or stepmom stays with the little two. Yesterday he didn’t nap, and I wanted to get him out of the house and so I thought it would be fun if he went with to watch Lucy swim. Which it was…for the most part. Let’s not talk about how his marker got away from him on the bench at the pool and now there is a nice green stripe along the bench…shhhhhhh. Then it was time for Lucy to finish up, where she takes a shower in the locker room. She’s also freezing after swimming and takes forever to warm up. Fine fine. She’s in the warm water, warming up. Rocky meanwhile isn’t being too bad (it’s amazing how my definition of “not too bad” has changed since that kid came around) but he’s taking off his boots and his socks, leaving them various places around the locker room, he’s pushing buttons on the scale to change it around, etc etc. So I get Lucy’s hair washed, but she won’t rinse it. Thus the conversations goes:  Lucy, please rinse your hair. I am. Lucy put your head under the water. IT IS UNDER THE WATER. Honey, not one hair on your head is in the water. YES IT IS. If you don’t put your head under the water, I’m going to have to help you. THAT’S NOT NICE. I AM RINSING MY HAIR. Ok, now I have to help you. So here I am looking over my shoulder at the 2.5 year old running laps, and the woman who has no kids “because she’s a street photographer and couldn’t imagine having to deal with them” is sssshhing him (really, if all the noise in the locker room is annoying, then don’t fucking do your swimming DURING THE SAME TIME AS THE KIDS SWIMMING LESSONS, IT’S ONLY TWO DAYS A WEEK FOR AN HOUR…FIND ANOTHER TIME), and pushing my 5 year old under the water all while she’s screaming, YOU’RE NOT NICE. YOU DON’T DO THAT TO PEOPLE. Which to be fair she’s right, BUT OH MY FUCKING GOD. RINSE. YOUR. HAIR. So we get done with the shower, I blow dry Lucy’s hair. This isn’t going too bad. Then I’m helping her get dressed because she’s still freezing and can’t lift her legs up. But WHATEVER we are doing it. We are walking out the door. Come on Lucy. Come on Rocky. No Rocky you have to keep your gloves on. But I don’t like gloves. I know honey but it’s freezing on so let’s put them on. But I don’t like gloves. I know but it’s cold out. But I don’t like gloves. I KNOW BUT IT’S COLD OUT. Then this woman with the no kids who is a street photographer kind of laughs and says, “And think of it, you have another one at home.” (she knows this because I met her when I was pregnant with Veronica). You know what. Fuck you. Yah I do. But you know what doesn’t help? Pointing out to a clearly frustrated mom basically that kids are difficult and oh my how will you handle it when the third was is around. I mean how about saying, Hey, do you need any help? Or. Hey you are doing a fine job, these days happen. And I know that. And I don’t really give a shit what this woman thinks, but still. She doesn’t have kids and so she’s never been there so I have to give her some slack, but it didn’t annoy me any less. It was a great day really. Kids acted pretty well most of the day. Super fun seeing my friend. Rocky actually started interacting with Veronica instead of just poking her. He was making her laugh out loud. At night the kids were goofy and funny. Veronica went to bed with ease, the elders went to bed with out complaint. But it wasn’t all beautiful. And it isn’t always beautiful. I guess my goal is for it to be mostly fun and beautiful. And that’s the best anyone can ask...

Gymming once more. This time really for real.

By on Jan 29, 2015 in Chicago, Fitness, Running | 0 comments

Leah and I have always been solid when it comes to running.  Before we had our three little time suckers, we trained together for three marathons in a row.  We were dedicated, never missing a run, be it a 20 mile long run or sprints on the track.  We did a ten mile run starting at midnight after a fourteen hour work day. We sound pretty dedicated to fitness, yeah? Or, at least, we were?  You’d think that, but then there’s the gym. Oh, the gym. I started back in February of 2005, when we got our first membership at the YMCA.  That post is about joining the Y in Lakeview, which was an awesome, weird place. Then, let’s see, we have a post here from May of 2006 explaining how we are really going to go the the gym this time.  And I think this time we did…for a few months. (hey, look what I found.  Look how happy we were with the Bears and Colts both heading into the Super Bowl.  If only we knew…) December of 2007…now we’re living in the Ukrainian Village and joined Cheetah gym in Wicker Park.  This was a big step up from the YMCA in both quality and cost.  Would we go this time?  My guess is no. And then, in January of 2009 what do we have?  A post about re-joining the YMCA.  We were back in Lakeview at that point and attempted to rejoin the Lakeview YMCA.  This was ill-fated as we were really too far from the gym to ever make it work.  At least, it was too far for two people with our level of dedication. That ended for good when little Lucy came around 11 months and a week later.  And then we were done for a long while. So, we’ve managed to run when we want to, sticking to a training plan without fail.  Running in snow and rain, blazing heat and suffocating humidity.  But the gym?  I want to do it, but the weights are so heavy. So much effort.  It’s something that has never stuck for either of us. But here we are, all settled in our house in Lincoln Square and living a mere quarter mile from the gym. When we moved here, we were adamant about joining the gym.  I mean, come on.  It’s right there. We had to wait for Rocky to be born and start sleeping through the night, but then we were on it.  I signed up for the three free training sessions that come with the membership to learn a few things.  I thought about continuing with the training, but eh.  It’s expensive and, really, I should be able to self-motivate. I mean, it’s not like there’s an archive on the internet cataloging my repeated failures in the weight room, right? My September I wasn’t working out again.  The monthly dues were being pulled from our bank account, but I wasn’t going.  It was time to bite the bullet.  I re-upped with my trainer and Leah began with a trainer of her own.  As it turns out, the pressure of meeting with a trainer is about the only thing that keeps me going to the gym.  I’ve tried a couple times in the past couple of years to discontinue my training sessions – honestly, needing a trainer seems like a crutch – and each time I’ve fallen off. Leah and I are back on with our trainers as of a month ago.  Leah’s recovered from Veronica’s birth and we’re sleeping just barely enough to work out and survive.  Fitting it in with three kids is about impossible.  I can go either at 5 am or 8 pm, because in between I’m pretty well booked (spoiler: I go at 8 pm).  But finding the time is important because I don’t want to wake up one day with my body falling apart and start bitching about how much harder things are now that I’m...

Ernie Banks 1931-2015

By on Jan 24, 2015 in Chicago, Cubs | 3 comments

This morning, as usual,  I woke up early with Rocky  and flipped on Sportscenter to watch while I sat next to him and woke up with a little coffee.  Along the sidebar was the name “Ernie Banks”.  I knew that could only mean one thing.  I didn’t have my phone with me to confirm so, like it was 1994, I had to wait patiently for the TV to tell me what I already knew.  Ernie Banks had died. For those who don’t either follow baseball or live in Chicago, Ernie Banks was the greatest Cub of all time and a one of the greatest players of all time.  But he was less famous for his baseball accomplishments than for his personality.  Always happy, always positive, he embraced his role as “Mr. Cub.”  His excitement was infectious and he was baseball’s greatest ambassador.  But his career will be detailed in all the papers today and I’m no baseball historian.  What I wanted to relay was the time Ernie Banks was incredibly kind to a nervous young Cub blogger. Six or seven years ago, back when Cub blogs were a thing, I wrote for the oddly named blog Goat Riders of the Apocalypse.  While supposedly nothing ever truly goes away on the internet, retrieving any of the archives of what I wrote for them is beyond my skills, but it was generally fun stuff.  And one benefit of writing for a moderately popular blog was that occasionally Cubs marketing would reach out to us as “press”.  One morning, I received an email from a representative for Charity Hop asking if I’d like to attend a release of Ernie Banks’s new wine and meet the man himself. Meet Ernie Banks? I’m sorry now, meet who again? Suffice to say, I said yes.  As long, that is, that I could bring along our staff photographer, who just so happened to be my wife.  The details of the night of the interview are over at our old website along with our continued celebration that night and Leah wrote about that and my later paper route here.  But the wine and the interview aren’t what I’ll remember that night.  What I’ll remember is that, for that night, Leah and I became Ernie Banks’s “Physicist Friends”. When Leah and I arrived at the event, we felt pretty out of place.  Press loitered around, waiting for their chance to ask a few questions.  We did a little loitering of our own, trying to not stand in the wrong place.  We grazed on appetizers and drank some very tasty wine and waited.  For what we were waiting, we didn’t exactly know.  I had no idea how to actually conduct an interview or how to interject myself between the various reporters to ask my questions.  But, it turned out, I didn’t have to know what to do. Our awkward hovering was interrupted by The Man himself walking over to us.  Ernie Banks, Mr. Cub, noticed us lost in the sea of press, and broke off from a cluster of reporters to engage us.  He walked over – I don’t believe he introduced himself (that would have been a little weird) – and started talking to us, asking us what we did.  We informed him we were physicists (I failed to mention that I had recently left physics for software.  I threaten Leah with death if she mentioned my little career change to him) and, from then on, we were his “physicist friends.”  He spoke to us for a few moments, engaging us with his great smile, and asking us a couple questions about the lab where we worked and what we did.  He put us at ease.  And then, as he moved on to speak to other members of the press, he would point to us and ask if they had met “his physicist friends.” It was awesome. And then it came time for people to sit down and conduct an interview with him.  Once again, I didn’t really know how to go about this.  But Ernie Banks called me over and told me to sit next to him; it was my turn.  I didn’t really expect to conduct a one-on-one with Mr. Cub and I didn’t have anything but a pen and a blank pad of paper.  I initially asked him about the wine – I figured I was supposed to – and his started to crank out a canned response about the notes of grapefruit and how it supports his charity.  I could tell he didn’t really care.  So I quickly turned my questions to the upcoming 2008 Cubs season, one that was looking to be a great one.  His trademark optimism poured out and he was confident that this would be the year.  “The Cubs are going to be great in 2008.”  He spoke with me for over 10 minutes, longer than he gave any of the real reporters.  His wife tried to interject and pull him away on multiple occasions, but he wasn’t having any of it.  He was talking to his physicist friend and a fan, not a real member of the press, and I think he liked that. I will certainly always remember my time meeting Mr. Cub and greatly appreciate the kindness and attention he showed me and my wife.  He was truly the greatest Cubs of all time and one of the greatest, most positive...