Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Peaches for my peach

After the prerequisite gloppy rice cereal, we are moving along to more glamorous foods for Jossie to try. Last night, Jack and I made her some puree from peaches bought from the Green City Market. It was a mess but well worth it. Jossie loved her sweet treat!

And, yes, I know I'm cheating by starting with a sweet fruit instead of a sensible green vegetable, but I like to live dangerously.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A summer favorite

Jeremy and I owned Chicago this past weekend - we were all over this town. We started Friday with the most awesome staff picnic ever - Openlands' picnic at our president's family home in Lockport, complete with a taco food truck and way too many desserts. Jack had a ball exploring the yard, which was resplendent with garden beds, and venturing to the neighboring school's playground.

Saturday, I had our entire day mapped out, minute-by-minute. First stop was an early run to the Green City Market, where we discovered Las Manas Tamales among the produce. Nothing like a pork shoulder tamale to get your day started!  Next up was a playdate with friends and then a trip to Costco (yes, lunch was samples throughout the store).

And the afternoon was a series of errands as I summoned up my parking and driving prowess through Chicago's insane Saturday traffic (coupled with a few malfunctioning stoplights from the storms the night before). This was while Jack and Jossie were taking epic naps at home for Jeremy. But of course!

Saturday night, Jeremy and I were guests at a benefit for Ravinia, one of my most favorite spots. As a fundraiser myself, it was so nice to be on the other side, enjoying good music, company and wine.

Sunday was a lazy day. We finally pulled ourselves together by evening to host some friends for dinner, and we made my mother-in-law's yummy crab cakes as an appetizer:

Baker's Tavern crab cakes

1/3 sleeve Saltine crackers
2 T. good mayonnaise (this is a nod to one of my brother-in-laws)
2 t. Old Bay seasoning
2 t. dried parsley flakes
1/2 t. yellow mustard
1 large egg, beaten
1 lb jumbo lump crab meat

Grind up Saltine crackers in a mini food processor. Mix in mayonnaise, Old Bay seasoning, parsley, mustard and egg. Stir in crab meat gently, making sure to not break up the lumps.  Shape mixture into patties. Broil 5 to 7 minutes or until slightly browned under the oven's broiler. Serve with cocktail sauce and enjoy.

Hey, I just entered this recipe in Santa Margherita's Pour & Pair Challenge.  If you have a recipe that pairs well with Prosecco, enter yours today. (Disclaimer: I am married to the man who is publicizing this contest. I was not - in any way, trust me - compensated for this post.)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Life is not easy by any measure. Faith binds the journey, and, believe you me, I've been saying my prayers with much regularity this past year.

Relationships make life's journey worthwhile. Today, in its many acts, I was reminded of that.

The morning brought a humid yet breezy day at the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve. Fog rolling in from the lake, I stood with two co-workers aside the unfinished bridge that spans one of the three ravines on site. The bridge literally takes you through the tree tops as you hear the waters of Lake Michigan hitting the shore down  below. It's breathtakingly beautiful, and I'm grateful to work alongside a wonderful team of people to bring the Preserve to life.

After a working lunch, it was home for the afternoon to type away at the computer, cuddle my babies and chat with Maria. It's a treat to work at home, listening to Jack play a game of Candyland with Maria.

Happy tears in the early evening as we welcomed home dear friends who have spent the past eight years in St. Louis. They have moved back, and we are so glad to have them here. We had an early dinner at Goose Island Brewery. As we ate, we started plotting our next visit later in the week.

Last outing for the day was a 7 p.m. pediatrician's appointment for Jossie for her six-month check-up. She is catching up in leaps and bounds, my beautiful girl. She is chatting, rolling over, holding her head up well, bearing weight on her legs and giving good smiles and laughs. Our doctor was so pleased with her progress. Jossie is on the growth charts for her actual age - in the 5th to 10th percentile for weight and 25th percentile for length. I've wanted for so long for Jossie to grow and grow, and now here she's growing up too fast.

Bedtime: Jeremy is at a concert, and I'm at home with Jack and Jossie. The three of us are snuggled in Jack's bed, way after both of their bedtimes. I hold my babies near. Jossie still fits - for now - in the crook of my arm as Jack and I talk about our day.

I'm grateful for my family and friends for making every day worthwhile.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

And tomorrow a toaster will fall on my head

I am not sure why I'm even tempting fate by putting these words in print but here goes: My children are behaving really well lately.

There. I said it. When Jack first turned three, I was ready to get that eBay ad up for him and ship him out. He was a holy terror literally overnight, as soon as we blew out the birthday candles. But somewhere around 3.5, Jack mellowed out and is pretty pleasant to be around these days.

It's not to say he's perfect - he's a far better listener with Maria than he is with me. I worked at home this afternoon and asked Jack to go potty after his nap. "No!" he tartly replied. A few minutes later, Maria said, "Go peeps and then we'll have a snack." No response from Jack. Why? you ask. Well, it's because the guy was too busy hustling to the bathroom.

But I digress.

My children are being good, and it's freaking me out.

Jack's my sweetie, and he's really starting to take to Jossie. He loves being the big brother and taking care of her. And Jossie finds Jack hilarious - she'll only give him the big laughs that we're all courting. (Jeremy somehow thinks making Jossie do the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man impression will make her smile, but no dice.)

So my pediatrician read the riot act to me at Jossie's five-month check-up in late June. Overall, things were good but Jossie's naps were all over the place - sometimes she would go the whole afternoon without napping and other days, she would sleep noon to 5 p.m.

I attempted to re-read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child (I own every baby sleep book out there, and this is by far my favorite book - I highly recommend it). Honestly, I only read a few lines each night before falling asleep myself (ironic), so we just started winging it. And the crazy thing is - Jossie is actually falling in line. I'm getting her to bed at 7 p.m. with minimal fussing. The morning nap is pretty much there and we're so close to getting that afternoon nap to stick. She herself gave up her pacifier (Jack did the same thing at an early age, and for both of them I can take absolutely no credit for this achievement) and she's overall a more pleasant gal with some more consistent sleep in her.

So that's what I have for now. Tomorrow, it will be different. That's one of the basic tenets of parenting I know all too well: Once you get used to something, it changes.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Today's the stuff that summer is made of - right up there with lemonade stands and fireflies. The weather was hot but not humid, and the sun was shining brightly.

All errands were eschewed for a day out in the sun. Jeremy, Jack and I took Jossie to her first concert - a kid's show at one of my favorite places, Ravinia, an outdoor concert venue. It was a mid-morning show, so we packed some banana bread for a snack and the greatest picnic blanket ever.  We sat in the shade of a tree, boogied a little and let Jossie stretch out.

After the concert, we went to another favorite - the Chicago Botanic Garden for a visit with our friends. I've tried to shy away from making every visit with friends about food lately, so I thought the Garden would be a good start. But we were, of course, all hungry for lunch when we go there and ended up having a lovely long lunch in the Garden's cafe - with some wine and beer - before even setting foot on the grounds. 

If you live in Chicago and have kids, here's a little tip I learned from a friend: You can borrow an explorer's bag from the info desk, complete with binoculars, microscope lens and tree and bird identification manuals. Jack had a ball with his geeked-out backpack when we finally hit the Garden's grounds.

(Jeremy thinks Jack was channeling his inner-Floridian senior citizen with his hat, too-large t-shirt and binoculars around his neck...)

We've been to the Garden about - oh a thousand times - but never seem to hit the English walled gardens, one of our friends' favorite. It was nice to discover a new place. And how could you not have fun with these two?

It's 10:30 p.m. now - I have two brown-haired babies who are completely and utterly sacked out in their crib and bed. It's always nice to be tired because of the sun and fresh air...I will be re-reading this post again in January or February!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Who are you again? Oh, right, the father of my children

After a long week of vacation - plus the Fourth of July holiday - I'm able to reflect on how nice it was to just be with my little family, Jeremy included. My girlfriend at work said the same thing - she just came back from a trip out west, and she said she not only enjoyed spending time with her toddler son but also with her husband, whom she has missed.

And, yes, we're both talking about the guys who sleep beside us at night and whom we pass in the bathroom in the morning and whom we see over our kids' heads as we are prodding our children to eat their meals, brush their teeth, or please, just go to the bathroom!

Two working parents plus kids = chaos most days. I think the most meaningful conversations I've had with Jeremy during the workdays have occurred as we leave the house together in the morning and we walk down Chicago's Halsted Street - at least until he catches the bus or I head into the L station.

One of my favorite memories from our trip last week was being able to go out for a drink in Sag Harbor after dinner with Jeremy's parents and uncle. We were by ourselves, in an open-air restaurant with live music and salty breezes. We actually could talk about what we wanted for our family and where we see ourselves in a few years. We've even developed our mission statement for our kids: To have the ability to see the world through others' eyes. (but that's another blog post for another time...)

So I'm trying to think about some ideas to reconnect besides the typical date night idea. Please share your ideas for reconnecting with your significant other!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Jossie's firsts

Besides Jossie's first ferry ride and first beach excursion this week, our little girlfriend rolled over for the first time. Admission time: In true second-kid fashion, Jeremy and I did not actually see her roll over. I had set her down on her activity mat on her tummy and went into the kitchen to fix a cup of coffee. Jeremy was "watching" her as her typed on his laptop, and Jack was playing nearby with his car. When I came back a few moments later, she was on her back, smiling away. 

So there you have it: The report on Jossie's first roll-over. And now that this is in print, she can someday show it to her therapist.

Happy birthday today to our newest nephew, Logan Matthew Liatti, born at 2:32 a.m. this morning. Everyone is happy and healthy!