Thursday, May 27, 2010

No, it never gets easy

Lately, Jack really likes to wave good-bye from our fourth-floor condo window as our friends leave our building. We typically stand there and frantically wave as they either get into their cars and drive away or are on foot. It's cute and endearing, and when Roscoe the cat jumps up on the large windowsill too, sometimes chaotic.

But it hurts a little when I'm the person Jack is waving good-bye to.

This morning, he and Daddy were standing at the window as usual, and I - not caring what people think - wave both arms to Jack and blow a big kiss from the street below. He waves back; Daddy's hands around his waist. As I turn the corner - both literally and figuratively - to head to work, I'm sad to ever turn my back to him. I know full well he is certainly demanding that Daddy play trucks or cue up another "Curious George" but it's still hard. It never gets easy.

Monday, May 24, 2010

My wake-up call

Having a food blog and loving to cook, I am sure you are not surprised that I could shed a few pounds. Being a full-time working mom of a tot, I have always contested that I have no time to exercise.

I'm trying to change that. Got up at 5:30 a.m. this morning and went for a walk (gotta start things slow, people). Forty-five minutes later, I quietly entered our condo but Jeremy and Jack were awake and in full-swing.

I did a few sit-ups as Roscoe the cat rubbed against my head and Jack sat on my stomach.  I got a shower; my husband left me a hot cup of coffee by the sink (which I had kiddingly asked for as I headed to the shower).  Had a chance to read the Wall Street Journal, which touted lower housing interest rates for summer, and eat breakfast with Jack. I even had five extra minutes to write this blog post for goodness sake.

Shoot. So exercise is good for you.

Won't you join me?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Bittersweet ain't just a chocolate

I went home to Cleveland this weekend with Jeremy and Jack for two celebrations: my youngest sister's 30th birthday and my middle sister's baby shower. We had so much fun with my family - including Jack whooping it up with his 2-year-old cousin Andrew.

My parents move in a week or so from the house we basically grew up in - I thought my mom was slightly crazy for hosting people Saturday night for dinner after the baby shower. But it was fitting to have a last hurrah in the house. As the toddlers ran around the yard and people mingled outside, I thought this was the best memory I could have - our family house filled with people, laughter and, of course, food.

The house has been on the market for two years, so I thought I would be prepared. Yeah, I wasn't. As I said good-bye to my dad, I couldn't let go and started to cry. A lot. My mom took one look at me, and her eyes grew wet (no one cries alone with my mother). I'll be okay - I'm almost surprised at how heartbroken I feel about this transition. I've thought about it a lot - I just have to dig down deep to keep the memories - the same place I keep the other good days, my wedding, the FANTASTIC shoe deal I got last summer, etc...

And this is really good for my parents. They are moving closer to my sisters and to me (kind of). I kid that the new house they are building is my mom's dream kitchen with a house built around it (double wall ovens, people). But I'm still a little sad...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'm easily won over...

The end of last week was just weird in Chicago...local news of suicides, including one quite close to my office, varying temperatures with brutal changes in air pressure, and a weird guy on the L who was surely harmless but just got my radar up. Even silly little things were getting me down, like people consistently not holding the elevator in the lobby of my building, preferring to let the doors shut as I approached them. Bleh. Friday, as the rains continued, I was ready to go home and quit city life for awhile. While I was down, I even got kicked again - receiving a ticket in the mail from the City for running a red light (with a picture of our car as evidence). Awesome.

But, Chicago, you are persistent.

I have seen your beauty this week. Yes, the rainy weather has continued, but one of my coworkers turned my perspective upside down Tuesday morning by calling his early-morning, misty walk through
Millennium Park "poetry."  The kind CTA attendant at my L station asked me Monday if I had a nice Mother's Day. This morning, as I walked to the train, I heard an extremely enthusiastic "good morning!" As I looked up, I saw a garbage man, hanging off of the back of his truck, waving to me. Kind of strange but, still, it made me smile. And as I walked across Daley Plaza toward my office, I was met with the first farmer's market of the season. 

Living in a city forces you to face all types of humanity day in and day out. I can't shield my son from all of the bad but I hope I'm giving him the tools to appreciate the good.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

There goes that theory

I know the real reason for reading this blog is for Jack stories, right? Well, if I must oblige...

Jack has a slight diaper rash on his leg. I know this because our nanny Maria told me. Best mom ever! Jack had been complaining about his "tunnel" hurting ("tunnel" obviously meaning the space between your in playing tunnel with Mommy at inappropriate times - trying to squeeze between her legs when she's talking to salespeople at the store...or worse, playing tunnel with unsuspecting victims, like a newlywed at her brunch the day after her wedding.), so I should have suspected something was amiss.

I thought I would give Jack some time to "air out" so I dressed him in 2T boxer briefs during our pre-bedtime routine last night. I told him to let me know if he had to go potty since he wasn't wearing a diaper, and he solemnly nodded his head in agreement. I let him play for a bit and every few minutes checked in to make sure we were doing okay. He kept saying he was fine. Well, well, well, I smugly thought to myself. I might be onto something.

However, I finally decided to check for myself. We were not fine - he was soaked and didn't even care or notice.

My theory on instantaneous potty-training is going to need some work...

Monday, May 10, 2010

Chilly nights, hot soup

In the last couple of weeks, we have used both our air conditioning and our heat at home. Oh, Chicago in spring. This week, we're experiencing some chillier temperatures, so I felt fully justified in making soup tonight. This recipe is from my mom - it warms the soul:

Corn Chowder
4 oz. sliced bacon, cut in 1-inch pieces
2 T. unsalted butter
2 cups chopped white onion
2 T. flour
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped celery
2 large unpeeled potatoes, cut into 1/4 - 1/2-inch dice
4 cups frozen white corn
1 can creamed corn
1 diced red pepper
3 green onions, cut in 1/4-inch slices
1 cup half & half
salt and pepper

Cook the bacon until lightly browned; add butter and allow it to melt. (This is typically when Jeremy enters the kitchen and asks me what I'm doing.) Add onions and cook over low heat until translucent; add flour and stir continuously for a minute.

Add chicken broth and celery. Cook approximately 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and cook another five minutes until potatoes are just tender.

Add frozen corn, creamed corn, red pepper and green onion and cook for an additional five minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Add half & half; simmer for a minute and serve.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

And it hit me... I was wiping Jack's mouth tonight with a napkin, him grimacing, it hit me: Wow, I'm like really a mom. Other people surely recognized it. I typically get some kind smiles and sympathetic looks when I'm in public with my feisty but gosh-darn cute little guy.

As I take stock of my life currently, I am really, truly a mom of a toddler:

1. I have a crush on Chris from Sesame Street (yes, I have admitted that before on this blog).
2. I often eat dinner at a small blue plastic table.
3. Sippy cups in my purse are a common occurrence.
4. 7:30 a.m. is "sleeping in."
5. I typically have company when I'm in the bathroom.
6. I think I should buy stock in Goldfish crackers.
7. I check out other people's strollers at the zoo.
8. I've had my picture taken with a costumed character in the last 30 days. Twice.
9. A journalism major in college, I hear myself saying things like, "You gots it!"
10.  I'm exhausted.

Happy Mother's Day to my mom, my mother-in-law, my sisters, my wonderful friends and family! You help me to be a better mom, friend and, altogether, better person.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Simple, elegant dinner

Ina never steers me wrong. Tonight, to continue the ongoing celebration of our 5th anniversary, I made Jeremy rack of lamb. sounds so fancy but, gentle reader, it's actually very simple. Seriously, the hardest part was paying for the lamb at Whole Foods today (it's expensive). I did get the distinct pleasure, however, of having Jeremy order the lamb from the butcher, making sure it was "frenched."

Serves 6

1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 racks of lamb, "frenched" (see note)

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, process the salt, rosemary, and garlic until they're as finely minced as possible. Add the mustard and balsamic vinegar and process for 1 minute. Place the lamb in a roasting or sheet pan with the ribs curving down, and coat the tops with the mustard mixture. Allow to stand for 1 hour at room temperature. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Roast the lamb for exactly 20 minutes for rare or 25 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from the oven and cover with aluminum foil. Allow to sit for 15 minutes, then cut into individual ribs and serve.  Note: "Frenching" refers to scraping the meat off the tips of the bones. Ask your butcher to leave 1/8 inch of fat on the meat.

Paired with a glass of Bordeaux, it was the perfect Saturday dinner.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sweet treats in Lincoln Park

 The gang at Floriole Cafe & Bakery never disappoint. Jeremy, Jack and I enjoyed their baked goods at the Green City Market - snacking on sweet raspberry teacakes - all last summer. They recently opened a storefront in Lincoln Park, and I took Jack for lunch today.

The space is airy, light and modern. Exposed brick walls, stainless steel and a beautiful reclaimed wood table are all highlights. "This is just like Gack's house," my pint-sized lunch date declared. (I wish!) The cafe features two levels with lots of sunlight on the second level. On the first level, there is a big window to see into the kitchen.  The cafe has counter service, and I ordered a pizzette with grape tomatoes and basil for Jack and an egg salad sandwich for myself. The bakery case was filled with cakes, tarts, pots de Creme (a silky custard dessert) and cookies, but Mommy resisted. Jack loved his mini-pizza, and my egg salad was mustard-based and was topped with fresh spinach leaves. Floriole uses many seasonal, local ingredients, and they bring a lot of creativity to their work.

They are child-friendly with booster seats at the ready and a very snazzy stainless-steel changing station in the bathroom. This is the perfect place for a steaming cafe au lait and a decadent croissant in the morning or for a salad, sandwich or piece of quiche for lunch. It caters more for the girlfriends getting together to talk or to work on your laptop (they have free wifi) but I totally felt comfortable being there with my young son.  Their prices were a bit high but hey it's Lincoln Park. Get thee to Floriole and be sure to try the teacakes.

Floriole, 1220 W. Webster, Chicago
Open: Tuesday-Friday, 7 a.m. -3 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.; closed Mondays