One Week and A Year

By on Oct 10, 2015 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

My #timehop app tells me that I wrote this post exactly one year ago. When I was going back through this site to find the link for that post, I realized we wrote almost every day last October. We were on it! We were going to do this! Jason was funny! I was kind of funny! I was going to have so many stories from staying home with kids and I could have my own “mommy blog” (god I loathe that phrase)! And then holy shit it’s hard being home with three kids who are all not in school. I mean I KNEW going into a stay at home gig that it was going to be harder than working a “real” job, but it’s harder in a way that I didn’t understand and I don’t know if I can explain it AND I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone so I won’t even try. I went into stay at home parenting only once the I had the third one.  Like, oh you can’t swim? Well I’m going to throw you in the deep water anyways and see how you do. Good Luck! Oh and there is a Rocky thrown into the mix! But we made it through the summer. Cleverly planned vacations to be every three weeks helped a lot. And now here we are with an almost 6 year old, a 3.5 year old and a 1 year year old. These three stopped for exactly one picture for me to take of them and then continued their running and pretending and playing. School has been a good choice for each kid. I thought Rocky might fail preschool but he’s doing fine. He’s so different from Lucy because Lucy went into preK-3 a little bit older and coming from a full day daycare situation so she knew more letters and numbers. But of course this doesn’t actually matter and when I ask him what he did in school he says, “I played!” and that makes me happy because of course that’s what you should be doing. He’s only in for a half day so Veronica and I go pick him up and then home for lunch. Possibly the best thing about school for Rocky is it knocks him out for a nice afternoon nap again which he had given up. I was worried about full day kindergarten after a summer of no schedules no nothing, but it’s been awesome. It’s a Chicago neighborhood elementary school and while of course they do shit I don’t like, no school is going to be perfect AND they do a lot of things I do like. The best best best part of this is that we live 2.5 blocks away from school. We walk every day. It’s kind of a parade of kids walking to school. The little boy across the street is in her class and they are “best” friends. When I’m out walking around Lincoln Square I frequently run into other parents who’s kids go to Waters. I live in this giant city and I might as well be in a small town. It 100% has that feeling. And I love it. Big city girl with a love for the quaint. We are going to try and get back on writing here more because really, everyone needs more TenLanes in their life. Quote of the house recently, “SHE FLUSHED MY PEE AND I WANTED TO FLUSH MY OWN PEEEEEEEE!!!!!!” Dude? Really?...

Honey, call a priest. He’s got the evil

By on Jan 17, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

I think it was two Saturdays ago – my days were pretty badly screwed up with all the holidays – that Rocky woke up with The Evil in his eyes.  The sort of evil that says “there’s a very fine line between two-year old and a sociopath.” The sort of evil that says “I hope you weren’t too attached to those picture frames.”  The sort of evil that makes you very, very aware that it’s 6:30 am and your son won’t nap for at least 6 hours.  He can do a lot of damage in 6 hours. Leah and I had been trying to get our house organized and de-cluttered in the New Year.  To do this, we made a list of every room detailing what needs to be done and had been checking off as much as possible before I had to go back to work.  So, the hope was that we could let the kids play while we got some organizing done. Ha, we’re so cute. It was raining steadily and cold, so sending them outside would have been pretty cruel. We tried sending them upstairs.  15 minutes later Lucy descended the stairs in tears. We tried sending them to the basement art studio.  12 minutes later Lucy ascended the stairs in tears.  We struggled to keep the scissors out of his hands for almost three hours that morning before we realized we were in trouble.  Something had to be done.  We convened a meeting of the heads of the household (both of us) at the dinner room table and discussed our options. Pickles Playlot? I don’t know, I said.  I’m worried he’ll hurt a kid. Chicago History Museum? Ugh, tough to get to and expensive. Plus he might hurt an adult. Then it occurred to me what I really wanted to do.  I wanted to strap him into a chair, but that isn’t strictly legal.  At least I don’t think it is.  It’s understandable, but I don’t think it’s legal.  Or is it? “Hey kids,” we said.  “Who wants to go for a drive?” We didn’t even know where we were going, we just knew Rocky would be strapped into his car seat and we could relax.  We buckled him down – I mean, in – and out we went.    As we pulled out of the garage, I felt the stress leave my shoulders.  I turned to Leah and said something to her.  What did I say? Who knows.  The point is, I didn’t have to shout it over three screaming kids. So, the answer to the question “can you strap your kid to a chair and lock him in a metal box without hearing from Child Protective Services” is yes, assuming you’re hurtling down the highway at 60 miles per...

The Sneetches Invade the Soup

By on Jan 6, 2015 in Life With Three, Parenting, Uncategorized | 2 comments

The other day, the elder kids re-enacted once of my favorite Dr. Seuss books.  Which one, you ask?  Was it Green Eggs and Ham? Had Lucy decided that the lump of mashed potatoes on her plate wasn’t actually made out of distilled evil and she gave it a try? We could never be that lucky.  No, instead our little ones turned into little Sneetches on the Beaches as they argued about their dolls. Rocky: “I WANT LUUUUUUUCY’S BABY,” he wails as Lucy pulls her naked baby from his hands. Me: “Buddy, your baby is right here.  Here you go.” ROCKY: “But mine doesn’t have letters,” he says, pushing out his upper lip. Me: “What?” ROCKY:”MINE DOESN’T HAVE LEEEEETTTTTERRRS,” he cries, throwing his hands down on the table where we all sat. I then realized he was talking about the words “Corolle” that were printed across Lucy’s baby’s tummy.  His, sadly, had none. Yes, his baby was vastly superior due to the text on her tummy.  Otherwise they were virtually identical. Sigh. Me: “But Rock, look.  Your baby is water proof.  Lucy’s isn’t.” Lucy: “I want a water proof baby,” she says, bursting into tears. Me: *blinks* “Seriously? You know, you guys can just switch.” Both:...

The woods

By on Oct 15, 2014 in North Park Village Nature Center, To Do With Kids, Uncategorized | 2 comments

I grew up in what looks to be the last generation guided by the principle of “be home for dinner.”  Shoo’d from the house to go play and come back later, we’d leave my parents to do the things parents do.  The boring things that allow kids the freedom to play until play time is done.  This was the last generation before the 24 hour news cycle saturated our culture with fear of the improbable: kidnappers, perverts, pedophiles. For me, those days were spent in the woods.  I grew up in an apartment complex comprised of clusters of apartments dotting a sea of parking lots, all cement except for a small park in the middle.  Just beyond the concrete, though, Indiana’s nature took over.  The apartment complex was carved out of an old woods, and the remnants of that woods still lined the edge of where we lived.  And that’s where I spent my childhood. The woods comprised of a single path that lead back to a creek, shallow and spanned by one fallen tree.  The path continued on, but it was understood that the younger kids stopped at this point, the creek our playground.  We would build little damns against the fallen tree, waiting and watching as the current slowly broke it apart.  We spent the summer building up the courage to cross the creek on the tree, straddling the log and scooting out further and further on our butts.  I’m not sure if I ever had the courage to stand up on the log and risk falling in the creek.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I never did; I was a bit of a weenie. Eventually as we got older we continued down the path.  I remembered not wanting to stray from the path into the surrounding thicket.  There were three trees down off the path that crossed at angles and formed a triangle; I was worried that triangle was actually a portal to another time.  Granted, I didn’t actually think that it was, but once the thought was in my head I wasn’t quite confident enough that it wasn’t to try my luck. So we would continue on down the path and loop around back to the end of the path where we found the holly land: a garbage dump.  Old shopping carts, chains, milk crates, bricks…there was nothing this place didn’t have, piled up thirty feet high and all free for the taking.  I can’t imagine this was an official garbage dump; it was probably started by the contractors that built the apartment complex as an easy way to haul away garbage and continued from there. I probably spent three years of my life there, from about age 9 when we moved to Colony Bay apartments to age 12 when my best friend moved away and I transitioned to watching sports and the magic of the wood faded.  I was surely remarkably dirty at all times and had any manner of squirmy things in my hair at any given moment.  I don’t remember running naked through the woods shouting “I’m a wood nymph, I’m a wood nymph,” but I wouldn’t put it past me.  I was a weird kid. In my mind, the woods was huge and thick, but I’ve already confirmed for myself that my memory of these sorts of things is a little suspect.  My wife and I went for a run when I went to visit my parents and part of that run took us through the old apartments.  “We’ll get a mile or two looping around the streets of the complex.  It’s a pretty big place,” I said confidently.  Turns out we got less than a half mile and that was with some effort, looping and doubling back.  So, I’m guessing the path into the woods was probably 100 feet long and the creek actually a drainage ditch, but who cares.  When you’re small it doesn’t take much to have an adventure. So when I took Rocky to the woodland area at the Nature Center, I was excited.  To be able to see my kids in the woods despite living in the city was something I didn’t think would be possible without driving out to the suburbs or beyond.  But here it was, three miles away and free to anyone.  Rocky led me down the walking path to the woodland play area, a clearing filled with all sorts of fun things: swings hanging from trees, a tree fort, a big pile of bricks, logs to climb – what more could you ask for.  It wasn’t huge, the clearing maybe the size of a football field – maybe more – before continuing on as a path through the wood. But to the under-5 crowd? Well, I can certainly imagine them coming back with their kids (because of course our kids will have to live in Chicago): “What the -” Lucy says to her brother as their kids run out ahead of them to climb a low-limbed tree. “This can’t be the right place.” Rocky scratches his head.  “The tree fort is way too low.  There couldn’t have only been three steps. I remember being able to look down on everyone.” “And it ends right there,” Lucy says, gesturing to where the play area tapers off and the rest of the path through the forest continues on.  “That’s…man.  Crazy” “For real.  Hey,” Rocky says, raising his voice....

Taking the crazy for a walk

By on Oct 13, 2014 in To Do With Kids, Uncategorized | 2 comments

Rocky has a tendency to wake up a little earlier on the weekends than we’d prefer.  He usually wakes up between 6 and 6:30, sometimes as early as 5:45 (which is really not okay as the coffee is set for 6:00).  In isolation, this isn’t such a big deal.  I mean, I don’t really expect to sleep in past 6:30 anyway.  However, Lucy runs herself pretty hard during the week and by the time the weekend rolls around, she needs her rest.  Generally, a Saturday morning goes something like this. I hear Rocky call from across the hall. “DADDY, I’M AWAKE.” Under my breath, “Fuck.”  Then, “coming buddy.”  I quickly swing out of bed and into his room, crouching on his bed and lowering my face towards his.  “Hey, let’s head downstairs,” I say, craning my head back to check the top bunk for any sign of movement. “DOWNSTAIRS?” “Shh, shh, yeah,” I whisper frantically, gesturing towards the door.  “Grab your monkey and come on.” “MILK AND WAFFLE?” “Yeah, sure, we’ll get you your milk and waffle.  Whatever, just come on.” At that point he’ll generally scramble to swing his legs off the bed and charge downstairs, instantly at full speed.  I’d say about half the time these days I can get him out the door without hearing a tearful “daddy” from behind; Lucy, now awake and not wanting to be left behind.  Hey, no problem.  If there’s anything better than one kid up too early it’s two. But what’s most amazing about him is how his volume adjusts accordingly with how loud the rest of the house is.  Not exactly the way you’d expect, though.  It’s like he wants to fill a void.  With his voice.  It’s on the mornings when I want to let Leah sleep in and actually get him downstairs without waking Lucy that his voice finds its peak volume. I’ll get Rocky downstairs and get him situated in his chair and then head into the kitchen to grab him his milk and a waffle.  All the while, all I hear is “MILK AND WAFFLE.  I NEED MILK AND WAFFLE.”  He stars wailing as I’ve already been gone a full 15 seconds and might not be coming back, leaving him at the table to die dry-throated and starving. “I’m coming, buddy,” I stage whisper from the kitchen.  When I finally get his food in to him, he generally wants to eat it “ON YOUR LAP” and then we begin our morning discussion: “YOU’RE DRINKING COFFEE?” “yep, coffee” ” WHAT COLOR” “black.  I’m right here buddy, you don’t have to shout.” “WHAT DADDY?” Whatever combination of being a boy, two, and clinically insane leads to this level of volume, it is a bit of a problem for those wanting to sleep in.  Our house is not expansive and being upstairs doesn’t give you much relief from the noises downstairs.  At this point, after trying far too many times to keep him quiet (once with a seemingly endless loop of Disney songs on YouTube.  That ended up backfiring as his brain was fried all morning making him even wilder than usual), I finally realized there was only one real option: removal.  He couldn’t be in the house.  The issue, however, was what to do with him.  We couldn’t go in the backyard or to a park, not if we wanted to spare the neighboring community an early morning wakeup call.  I couldn’t come up with a good solution to get outside and burn off some energy until I remembered that our neighbor always take his daughter in the morning to Mariano’s, the fancy-pants grocery store that recently opened about a mile down the street.  That would be a place to run around and – bonus – they have super-fancy donuts. So, the next Sunday I swept him out of bed and snuck him down the stairs.  It was at that point I realized my plan was a little flawed.  I had grabbed a new diaper for him, but that was about it.  I didn’t have any shoes or socks for him and he was only wearing thin pjs for a crisp, Fall morning.  But, wait! Slippers! Where the hell did those come from?  Doesn’t matter, on they go.  Throw on a winter coat and we’re good to go.  Except I forgot socks for me, so I get to go sock-less.  Doesn’t matter, no turning back at this point.  I grab a pair of shoes, tuck Rocky under one arm, and push the stroller out the door with the other.  Out in ten minutes, my heart raced like a diamond smuggler who just cleared customs. And then we had a great walk to the store.  We talked about all the things we could see although, of course, he was speaking so quietly I could barely hear him.  I think he’s just screwing with me at this point. Mariano’s was great.  Rocky loved to push the tiny shopping and all the people working that morning were charmed by the little man in his...

Snow Sculptures

By on Jan 29, 2013 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Saturday morning was to be an afternoon of adventure.  Breakfast! And snow sculptures!  So we headed out to Yolk (our favorite breakfast place) and then to Navy Pier for some amazing sculptures made entirely out of snow.  Along the way, we also hit up the Children’s museum.  Like I said, adventure! We took the Brown Line to the Chicago stop to start our day at the Yolk at Chicago and Lasalle.  Now, I’m not saying that Yolk is the best breakfast in Chicago, but – well, yes, I’m saying it’s the best breakfast in Chicago.  Leah and I have been to literally several of Chicago’s hundreds of breakfast establishments, so I think we can safely say who has the best breakfast.  And, as an added plus, they are great for kids.  Tons of space and a nice kids menu. From Yolk, we picked up the 66 (Chicago bus line) which drops off right at Navy Pier.  When we got to Navy Pier, we were very glad we took the train and bus instead of driving.  I could almost smell the frustration wafting off of the endless line of cars heading into the Navy Pier parking lot .  And even without the parking issues, isn’t public transportation always nicer than driving in the city?  Lucy loves both the train and bus (Calvin seems largely indifferent), so the trip to the destination is as much fun as the destination itself.  Lucy is quite the city girl.  Plus, holy crap is it annoying getting the kids in and out of carseats.  An extra 40 minutes of commute time is worth not having to strap a giant, squirming marshmallow into a little baby-chair. The snow sculptures at Navy Pier were amazing.  There was…a lion and…Batman fighting a shark.  And…a bunch of C’s. Huh. Turns out it’s sort of hard to describe snow sculptures and make then sound cool.  Should have sent a poet.  But luckily Leah snapped a couple of pictures.  Voila: Anyway, yeah, they were really very nice. We toured around around until Lucy decided she’d had enough and had to pee, at which point we headed inside to check out the Children’s Museum.  As I said, this was a first for me and Lucy.  I felt really bad shoving her out of the way to get to all the exhibits.  Man does she cry a lot. Kidding!  But she did have a great time.  Her favorite was Tots Town or Tiny Town or Kids Town or Kids City or something along those lines.  There was a CTA bus for her to drive and a store for her to shop in.  Somehow she managed to navigate all the parents who were instructing their kids how to have fun (plus one parent who just kept walking around and cleaning up).  Parents setting up as cashiers in the grocery store, grabbing the money from their kids hands and telling them what produce to shop for and where to bring it.  It makes me wonder what the kids would have come up with on their own without direction from their parents.  Kids playing with other kids?  What a concept. The Children’s Museum at Navy Pier is a really nice place.  It’s well spaced so it doesn’t feel cramped and crowded and, for the most part, I didn’t feel that parents were being encouraged to walk hand in hand with their kids.  If nothing else, it’s a nice place to pass a winter day as we mark time until spring.    ...