Monthly Archives: October 2010

Expecting a Little One? It Must Be Time For a BabyMoon

We’re going on a babymoon. “A wha?” you may ask. A babymoon, you know kinda like a honeymoon but you do it before the baby arrives. It’s so you can have one last hurrah before life as you know it drastically changes.

On a bicycle built for two in Door County, Wis.

When I was pregnant with Logan we had one, well two actually, but those where in different economic times. We couldn’t agree on what to do, Hubby wanted to do a road trip in the two-seater. I wanted to lie on a beach, which was tricky because I also didn’t want to be the beached whale surrounded by a bunch of hot sexy bods.

We took a five-hour road trip to beautiful Door County, Wis. We had a cabin a stone’s throw from Sister Bay and it was great, the cell phone coverage was just enough to eek out a 911 call if we needed it and that was it. So very relaxing. Weeks later, we hopped on a plane to Richmond, Va., rented a car, drove down the coast to Kill Devil Hills, N.C., where we rented a condo. Now *that* was wonderful, fresh seafood, walks on the beach, quiet small town. The whole nine. I remember being excited to lie on my belly again because I dug a hole in the sand for my basketball and napped.

On the beach in Kill Devil Hills, N.C.

Now that we’re preggo again, naturally we want to do another “last hurrah” before Bean arrives. Nevermind the other trips we’ve taken lately, oh no, for some reason in my Hubby and mine’s crazy minds, those didn’t count. Camping Trip No. 1 was his idea, Camping Trip No. 2 was my idea to make up for Camping Trip No. 1. And the recent visiting of family and friends in other states didn’t count either.

This trip has to be a trip just for the family for the expressed purpose of being together as a family of three. I know, I know, we get to be a family of three every day, but not someplace *else* where there’s no errands to run, phone calls and emails to return, other mind-numbing responsibilities…

What can I say? My Hubby and I have always been the work hard/play hard kind of people and I’m determined not to let my kids slow us down too much. Besides, Logan seems to love our adventures.

And honestly I’m not really sure that our next trip constitutes “playing hard” as we decided to take a swing up to the lovely, family friendly Wisconsin Dells. To the very same hotel/water park that Hubby took us after Camping Trip No. 1. But I’m excited, the place is great, the suites are awesome, I’m going to go to the spa, they deliver yummy food to your room, there’s fun activities in the area, the water park is a blast and the people who are there aren’t shaped like Hollywood starlets so I don’t mind rockin my bikini with my big ol’ belly.

You don’t hear people talking about babymoons like you used to, again, it’s the economy stupid, but the want is still there. Before, there were chats of trips to Europe, Club Med, short cruises. Now, if moms and dads take a babymoon, it’s more modest: indoor water parks, a couple nights at a nearby hotel, having grandma come over so mom and dad can spend a night away. All of this is totally fine, I’m always going to advocate that people take a break from their daily grind to simply enjoy life a bit more. It creates new memories, strengthens bonds and helps you keep focused on what’s really important: each other.

Keeping The Door Open On The Wonder Years

Teenagers. I gotta admit, I’m not a fan of them. I didn’t always care for them when I was a teenager and now that I’m grown, I find the ones in my neighborhood annoying. They clog my Panera and Starbucks, fester in my mall, and let’s not forget the string of stupid comments they spew during the movies.

Sheesh, I’m getting old and cranky.

My niece and nephew

But I’ve got a niece and nephew who are very, very close to me. My niece is the one we visited as she’s a freshman at the University of Missouri (M-I-Z!!!) and my nephew is 16 going on 17. Sure they have the same teenage traits as the other teens I don’t like, but to me, in them, it’s endearing. Maybe it’s because I love them so fiercely.

Each year we try to plan a trip for them to visit us in Chicago, now that they’re older, they’ve started to come separately and last weekend was my nephew’s first trip solo to Chi-city. I admit I was anxious because I really wanted him to have a fun time and it was important to me that we connect and have honest conversations because I always want them to know that they can come to me for whatever and I’ll be there for them.

But how do you reach out to a teen? Get them to trust you? For me, I’ve just tried to be there, which is hard hundreds of miles away. I talk about my frustrations, my hopes, my fears, my mistakes, thinking that in sharing more of myself with them, they will in turn do the same with me. Is that the right thing? I don’t know, but it’s what I’ve tried to do. And it’s so much easier just being me than trying to show that I’m “perfect.”

Besides, I can only imagine what it’s like being a teenager these days, the hypersexuality of everything, the constant cliques, which can only be exacerbated by Facebook and texting, the normalizing of drug and alcohol use, not to mention just general pressures of life. No way would I want to be a teen now.

One of my mommyfriends loves teenagers, finds their still-evolving minds interesting and their viewpoints of the world refreshing. Before my nephew came, I decided to try to see the world through teen-colored goggles.

While he was here, we had a blast. He spent a half a day at Shedd Aquarium’s Trainer for A Day program, where he worked with dolphins, sea otters, penguins and beluga whales. The worst part? He said it was handling the dead squid for the mammal’s lunch. Best part? Petting the dolphins. He also spent the day with Hubby at Northwestern’s homecoming, where at the alumni tailgating party he said it was interesting to hear all the guys talk about life at their jobs. We also took him out to Indian food, where he thought the food tasted good but the music was weird. 🙂

And for me the best part of the whole visit was that he opened up. We did talk like I had hoped and I felt so lucky to be let in. I’m already looking forward to next year’s trip.

Making Bonds While Breaking A Sweat

It’s Sunday at 8:30 a.m., and guess where She’sWrite is. At the gym. About a year ago, I started meeting with my personal trainer along with three other women and we’ve had these weekly sanity-saving, butt-busting, ab-torquing classes. Admittedly when I found out I was pregnant I wondered, uh-oh what about my small group training?

We do weights, resistance training, cardio warm-ups and it’s a total body workout. With my last pregnancy I did prenatal pilates and prenatal yoga classes, it was relaxing, but it wasn’t challenging. My current training always made my tummy muscles twitch, left me walking on legs of jello and feeling the ache the following morning.

My trainer assured me, don’t worry, we’ll make modifications and instead of focusing on getting stronger, I’ll just focus on maintaining.

That was such a relief because besides the physical benefits of working out, what I really get from this group is the quality time with the women. They have a variety of life experiences, yet there’s universalities there that bond us. One woman has a zany personality much like my own, three grown children – two in college and one who just passed the bar. Another is a straight-shooting, but sweet kindergarten teacher with two teenage boys and the third is a funny successful career woman. The no-nonsense-yet-kind trainer is a mom of two boys who are tweens/teens.

While working out we talk about our lives. What’s going on at work, with our families, exciting vacations, what’s new with our friends.

I value their advice, insights and love listening about their daily lives. They have this “been there, done that” way about them, but it’s not an air, it’s honest understanding and empathy. And I love it.

Even though not everyone can be part of a small training group, the benefits of exercise can’t be overstated. I feel stronger and more centered after exercising and recommend all moms try to get in even just a little where they can.

Obviously first check with your doctor before working out, they usually advise not to start anything new and vigorous while pregnant. I’m not a personal trainer, I’m just speaking from my personal experience.

  • Check your TV listings. Many exercise channels or OnDemand options have great prenatal classes. Make the time to do them.
  • Just because you’re a preggo, don’t discount light weights, the exercise ball, resistance bands and even mat workouts. There’s still plenty of “Buns of Steel” moves that can be done while preggo. Ask my saddlebags. An expert can help walk you through safe exercises.
  • Take a walk around the neighborhood. If you can, try to leave the little ones at home, put on your sneaks and head out the door. A 20 minute walk to clear your head and get the blood pumping can do wonders.

Finding a Boo-rific Halloween Costume

“What are you going to be for Halloween?” Remember when we were in school and during this time of year that was the question du jour? I still smile fondly when thinking about my favorite childhood outfit. It was one of the honkers from Sesame Street. Honk, Honk.

Halloween can be such a fun time, especially if you love to dress up like I do. Now that I’m a mom, I love that I get to dress up my kid. For his first Halloween, he was a screaming pumpkin. I say screaming because he didn’t care too much for the outfit. For his second, he was a Bear, which was fitting because his nickname is LoganBear. (Though he still wasn’t wild about the costume.) Last year it was a dinosaur, which we both loved. Now it’s our fourth and he’s got a strong opinion.

I wondered, what is he going to be this year? I worried that the days of me choosing a cutesy outfit for my little guy were over. I wanted to dress him up as a sweet little bumblebee, you know paint his nose black and everything, but he’s got a healthy obsession with Batman and Spiderman, so I figured he’d rather be a superhero.

Last weekend we ventured out to one of those seasonal Halloween stores. It wasn’t until I was about 10 feet from the store’s door that I remembered how these places’ ghoul-factor can be over the top. I quickly warned Logan that there might be scary things inside, but that they were all pretend and nothing could hurt him. Then in taking from “The Blind Side,” I told him if he saw anything he didn’t like, just to close his eyes.

We walked past several zombies, skeletons and other monsters and he seemed unphased. In the kiddie department we saw what I hear are this year’s hottest costumes, Buzz Lightyear, Avatar and Ironman. They also had Spiderman, Batman and the perfect bumblebee outfit.

Nothing really excited him until we saw the firefighter costume. His eyes lit up and I knew, that had to be the one. Of course they didn’t have his size, so we bought the hat and I vowed to find him the full costume at another store.

Upon walking out, some Logan-sized goblin contraption jumped out at him (who at the store thought that’d be a good idea?) and he buried his face in my leg and just said” “Mom!” I scooped him up, his face planted in my neck and we left unharmed.

To my relief, the next two stores were much more child-friendly and we finally got the fireman costume. In fact after trying it on, he refused to take it off, which was fine, we wore it for the rest of the afternoon.

Even though it wasn’t a bumblebee, I figured who cares? He’s happy and that’s what makes me happy.

Staying Connected With Your Loved One? There’s an App For That

Email. Facebook. Twitter. Text message. Voicemail. These are all the ways Hubby and I stay connected. (Outside of talking to each other that is.) It often feels like with our schedules we’re ships passing in the night, but with a little help, we try to make it work.

I was thinking about our relationship earlier this week and was amazed at how much we use technology to communicate whereas years ago couples would *gasp!* speak with each other. We text every morning: “Have a good day!” Or “Good luck with <insert important event/task here>” or “Don’t forget the dry cleaning!”

There’s emails throughout the day, usually focused on scheduling. Someone has to work late, someone has impromptu drinks with an executive, updates on dates and times of doctor appointments, vacations, out-of-town guests, work functions, etc.

When I get off work, I always call him and inevitably get his voicemail, so I give him the update on my day and my plan for the evening. It’s gotten to the point that when he answers, it throws me for a loop. That’s an observation worth revisiting, it catches me off-guard to actually catch my husband on the phone. That can’t be normal, or can it?

We then text each other for the rest of the evening about when he’ll be home, what’s for dinner, how Logan’s doing. Also if one parent is enjoying fun time with Logan and the other one’s away, we text or post pictures on Facebook so the other person can be “there.”

I wonder how do parents make it work when one spouse travels a lot for work? I suppose Skype then comes to the rescue.

Technology can be a funny thing. Did you know there’s even an app for resolving a problem with your spouse? It’s called “Fix A Fight,” and it apparently walks you and your loved one through an eight-step process where you pass the smartphone between each other, answering questions and listening to narration from a marital therapist.

What’s next? Virtual sex? Oh wait, that already exists. But I do wonder what other technologies are yet-to-be developed that families will use to stay connected.

I’m glad we have the technology to help mend the gaps, I personally just wish we didn’t have as many gaps. But as long as the emails, texts, Tweets and apps are enhancing communication and not supplanting it, I think it’s OK.

We do have to remember to aggressively steal away time not only for the big talks, but the chit-chat too because staying connected is what it’s all about.

Breaking the Camping Curse

So I had this idea, and when I get an idea, I usually don’t let it go until it reaches spectacular success or spectacular failure. This idea was to have a proper camping trip.

We went on our first family camping trip a few months ago, I posted about it here. While it was a fun adventure, it wasn’t the relaxing-in-nature kind of trip I’d envisioned. After that excursion I figured we needed to try camping again soon so that it won’t seem like an insurmountable task come next summer.

Also, I have to admit I’m going through a phase where I’m trying to eek out every minute of fun because when Bean is born in January, I know life will never be the same. But the kicker is I don’t know what that life will look like. So I might as well get to crossing items off my To Do list now, while I’ve got a good grasp on how things are.

For the past two months our weekends have been booked with out-of-state trips, parties, work-related functions and more. But I tried to keep this weekend open. When looking for a place to camp, I saw pictures of Starved Rock State Park and fell in love with it as the closest, perfect spot to camp with great hiking trails. Then last week the weather forecast made its last promise of summer, so on Thursday I decided, yes let’s camp. Hubby was all for it and we began preparing. There were new To Do lists, Googling on hiking with a toddler and being pregnant and a fun REI run. Come Friday my family was ready.

The only problem is we had no place to go. That weekend was Starved Rock’s big weekend because of some local festival and they’d been full for ages. I remembered my dentist telling me about Kettle Moraine in Wisconsin. I called them and they said they weren’t accepting reservations, but that I should “c’mon up … we’ve got tons of space … see you this weekend!”

Saturday morning, my clan headed out. About an hour from Kettle Moraine, per the state park woman’s directions, I called the place to see which of the three campgrounds I should head to. A different woman told me they were full and had already turned away well over 50 people. Nice. Now what?

I started to freak as I’d packed up my entire family, carted them to Wisconsin and we had no place to stay. Would the Camping Curse continue? My heroic hubby hopped on his phone and searched for nearby state parks. We were a mile away from one that said they had plenty of space.

As we pulled into Big Foot Beach State Park, the check-in booth was blanketed in beetles. This well-coifed park ranger came out and was unphased. They buzzed around her curly locks and one crawled on her cheek. She never swatted it away. I barely wanted to roll down my window for fear of letting the swarm inside.

Once through Bug Gate, we chose a shady spot atop a small slope. Hubby pitched the tent with minimal help from me and Logan, which was a huge upgrade from the last time when I had to put it up in the dark because he was too freaked by the abundance of monster bugs.

After we got everything settled, we just relaxed. Logan and I snuggled on a blanket and admired the yellow, burgundy and orange leaves while having an esoteric conversation about who created the trees and why. He then gave the park his seal of approval: “Mommy, this place is boootiful.”

He was right. The fall foliage was great and we got a good look at it while going on a 2ish mile hike. The trail we took was fairly well-worn, so he rode his little bike, but after about 45 minutes, I was glad it wasn’t a tougher trail as my body reminded me that I am seven months pregnant.

Many folks thought I was crazy for wanting to go camping with my 3 year old and baking my Bean. I totally see where they were coming from. But in a clichéd 3 a.m. pregnant lady run to the outhouse, I reveled in the silence. While walking back to the tent, I could only hear the rocks crunching beneath my feet and I looked up and saw Orion’s bow. It’s been years since I’ve seen that. His belt? Yes. His bow? No.

Growing up my dad and I had a hobby of studying the stars and living in the city, I don’t see constellations like you can in the country. And it was breathtaking. This, I thought, is why I’m doing it. There’s no e-mail, no phone calls, no TV, no cleaning, no laundry, no RSVPs, no work, no nothing, no expectations. Just me, my family and nature.

And it was perfect.

Still Not Convinced on the No-Chip Manicure

A few weeks ago, we went on a trip to Missouri and a couple weeks before that trip, I began toying with the idea of getting my nails done. I’m more of a pedicure than a manicure girl, but my nails looked great, were all the same length healthy, etc. I wondered what would be the best way to keep them in that state of perfection, especially considering I’m a woman who’s on the computer 10 hours a day, cleans, cooks and cuddles a wriggly 3-year-old.

My no-chip manicure

What about this “no chip” Manicure I’d been hearing so much about? Every nail salon from the spa at my gym to the walkthru spot at the mall seems to have signs that read: NOW OFFERING NO CHIP!!! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s a manicure that’s supposed to last for two weeks. Like the name states, it’s not supposed to chip. They’re apparently ideal for going on vacation.

A few of my friends have gotten no-chip manis and pedis and love them. For days on end their nails would have that shiny, just-from-the salon look. Now I’m very picky about my nails. (Ha, find something that I’m *not* picky about!) I don’t like acryllics, tips and all that because it ruins your natural nails and I’ve got good natural nails.

Though you should see my mom’s hands. She could have easily been a hand model, they are the most perfect hands you’ll ever see. Growing up I remember how strangers would comment on how gorgeous her hands were. The nails grow long and in perfect ovals that she never needs to shape. I’ve got my dad’s square-shaped nailbed, so I rock the square look. (Obviously, I think about my nails too much.)

I squeezed some extra time out of my schedule and rushed to the mall. I had 45 minutes and thought it was worth a try for the no chip. By now my nails were dreadfully long, they were claws actually, but I figured the manicurist could take care of that. I went for the color Lincoln Park After Dark, and the woman began applying the no chip. She’d paint layer upon thick layer and in between layers my hand sat under an ultraviolent light contraption.

She touched my glistening fingernail. I jumped reflexively thinking she ruined my paintjob, but nope, there was no smudge. She smiled and said: “All done!” Wha? I looked at the clock, I had run out of time and instead of trim, sensible nails I had these long, beautifully colored claws.

Great. So fast forward a week, I’ve still got my claws, but they’re too dramatic. I feel like a mid-1990s bridesmaid. All that being said, they didn’t chip and felt thicker.

My nails after the no chip manicure and at a more reasonable length.

The next week my claws were nearing the length of entries into the Guiness Book of World Records and I wanted to remove the manicure. I went back to the same place. The manicurist soaked them in some Acetone and tried to wipe off the manicure. It stayed. After more soaking and wiping he busted out that electric sandblaster. You know the machine, it files down your nails. I was shocked because I detest that thing. I kept asking the guy if that was necessary, he said yes and to trust him. Well that was my mistake. I should have just walked out, but I didn’t. He applied the sandblaster to my nails to get it off. 

Now they are much weaker than before, but they’re growing fast and in a month will be back to normal. I chalk it up to a learning experience.

Turns out the proper way to remove the no-chip manicure is to wrap your nails individually in acetone and then the manicure comes off. Although your nails come out weaker, they won’t be as weak as mine.

I may try the no chip again, but it certainly won’t be a cheap-o shop. From now on, those people will only be allowed near my toes.