Friday, July 24, 2009

Commander Librarian

Nourit, after getting in trouble too many times today for insubordination, (and finding herself toy-less after I took them away for not cleaning up), decided to play library for the first time. She told me (after stumbling over the word a few times before getting it just right) that she was a librarian. This was a game my sister and I played endlessly, as evidenced by our books containing construction paper envelopes in the front flaps. We haven't played that game with Nourit yet. In fact, we rarely visit the library (for reasons I've posted about before), so I was duly impressed that she came up with this herself.

After putting some post-it tags in a few of her books, she told me again that she had become a librarian, and wasn't it a special thing? It had just - happened! "Like magic?" I asked. "No," she said, like I was stupid. (Oops, I'm not allowed to use that word!) "No," she sighed, "it just happened to happen." And now she's a librarian just like Grandma.

Nourit disappeared for a few moments while I gave Avi her bath. After I told Avi in my sternest voice no, not to dump the water out of the tub, (and after Avi gave me her biggest, award-winning smile), Nourit marched into the bathroom right up to Avi and said, "When mommy tells you to stop, you stop!" Hmmm...where did she learn that? It was quite convincing.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I heart greenheart

On a furtive gelato run last Sunday to Wicker Park's Cafe Gelato while our 3 year old was at her first drop-off party, we discovered the store greenheart. I'm in love! The store (in its own words)
"is Chicago’s premier eco-fair trade non-profit shop, carrying both fair trade and eco friendly products. Greenheart carries a variety of goods including recycled accessories and handbags, home goods, gourmet treats, cookbooks, glassware, jewelry, toys, personal care, organic cotton t-shirts and more. Greenheart believes consumers have the power to affect positive World change by supporting sustainable and fair business practices in their purchasing choices."

I didn't know all that walking in - what got me right off the bat were the beautiful hand sewn dresses, and the adorable children's clothes and toys, and the beautiful green water pitcher and glasses, and the...

Avi was fussing so I didn't get to try on everything I wanted, but we did walk out of the store with a floor rug made out of recycled something-or-other, that will take the place of the utilitarian plastic dropsheet I was planning to put under the girls' easel to keep the paint off our new carpet. It's completely washable, and very cool.

We made another gelato run tonight, this time with our neighbors. (About 2/3's of the way there - 45 minutes into the trip from Hyde Park to Wicker Park at 3pm on a Thursday - we started to question the rationale of dragging our friends all that way just for gelato.) But it was yummy! We followed it by another trip to greenheart, who was having their grand opening fiesta (amazing food by Zebda, great sangria, warm welcome), and walked out with more treasures.

a little green
porcelain piggy bank for Nourit's first lesson in saving $$, (you have to invest money to make money, don't you?)

a new book by the creators of 'Mama, Do you love me?' - one of my favorite books - called 'Papa, do you love me?' Halfway through the book it reads, "Papa, what would you do if I was hot?" "We'd rest under a Greenheart tree."

a beautiful beaded bracelet that I chose for my sister, who doesn't read my blog, so won't know if I end up keeping it for myself

My friend walked out with a fantastic two-toned, woven purse. I could have added about 10 more things to my shopping basket, as well. Unfortunately, all the clothes in my size had disappeared off the racks, so we will have to make the trek back to Wicker Park in a couple weeks to get mama a new dress. And some gelato, too, of course.

Friday, July 17, 2009

To do, or not to do - that is the question

Last night I realized that today I would have an entire, unscheduled day ahead of me, with no work, no play-dates planned, no outside obligations - rien, nichts, nada. (I'm just double checking my Google calendar to make sure I didn't forget about something...) What a glorious prospect! Then, worry set in. (This is one of my character traits that drives my husband batty - the ability to turn every good and simple thing into a cause for worry.) What do I do with this precious commodity? I don't want to waste it. Do I take the girls and go to one of the myriad venues on my mental list of places to go when I have a full day off work? Suddenly, I can't think of anywhere I want to go alone with two little ones all day. By myself. With no backup. Hmmm...Our next door neighbors and built-in-playmates are all on vacation. Do I set up a playdate with one of the many people that I've been wanting to see, and just haven't had the time until now? (You know, the friend 5 blocks away who had her second baby a year ago, and I've already unwrapped the gift I bought for her to use for my own kid because I still haven't made it over and she's outgrown it?) I love playdates - sometimes for the simple reason that my children are occupied and I get to visit with a friend. At the same time, it means I'm not really spending time with my girls. Or do I stay home - STAY HOME! - and putter, try to make those kale chips I've been thinking about, wander to the garden and pick the remaining peas, hang out with my girls in the backyard - with not even a side-trip to the playground? Ding ding ding ding ding! We have a winner, folks!

The problem with this, though, (and here is where my husband is walking away from me and the conversation), is when I'm home, I see a mess. I see all the things that need to be fixed. Try as I might, I can't seem to ignore what needs to be done in the interest of just hanging out with the girls on the floor for uninterrupted hours of play. Even if I split my time, play a little - clean a little, the little ones seem to undo faster than I do, so it's basically a lost cause. (I'll have to figure this balance out, though, as I will soon be home full-time and responsible for both the cleanliness of our home, and the daily mental and emotional stimulation of our children.) There's something inside of me that feels the need to accomplish something tangible to justify my existence. (Not on a large scale, though, like committing to a career or anything. More along the lines of seeing that the dishes are done, or the floor is vacuumed.)

The other problem with staying home is my fear of missing out. I think that has to do with living in this wonderful city called Chicago, this city that has a crazy amount of fun things to do in the summer. I could visit Millenium Park regularly, drive to Garfield Park Conservatory, or the Chicago Botanic Gardens, or spend the day at any of the beaches along Lake Michigan. There are a half a dozen museums to visit, all within a 15 minute walk or drive. There are music, dance, soccer, art, you-name-it, classes for every age child. There is the lure of shopping downtown (even though the sales tax is insane), and going to Ghiradelli. There are at least two zoos within 20 miles. There are family friendly farmer's markets on any given day. There are so many playgrounds to try, unique neighborhoods to visit, and on and on. It's a far cry from what was available to us out in the small town where I grew up. I'm sure my mom wasn't worrying about whether to go to Binder Park Zoo or the Turkey Farm every day, because that's basically all there was for the entire year. And of course, those places were reserved for special visitors on special occasions. So we stayed home most days, and we weren't missing anything. But here, in Chicago, there's so much choice!

And therein lies my quandry. I'm not good with choices. I want it all. I want balance. I want to stay home with my kids and enjoy a long, drawn-out summer day, with no schedule, no train to catch, no laundry that must be done - with no worry that I'm not do-ing enough.

Not to do. That is the answer.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Collector's Pieces

Nourit came home after her dance class two weeks ago, ate a few mouthfuls of dinner, and promptly started to draw. She hates to color with crayons, and I've never seen her do anything except scribble on a piece of paper with pen, describing to me all the elaborate things she was drawing that looked nothing like, well, anything. But here she was, drawing a head, eyes, nose and mouth, legs and arms. (Okay, so the arms are where the ears would normally go, but they were still pretty good for starters!) On one or two, she actually drew two sections to each leg, very carefully keeping her lines straight. I had never seen her do this before, and neither had her dad. Maybe one of her babysitters taught her? I don't know, and it surprised me!

This was the first picture - see the burning eyes - very profound.

Since Michael is known to have drawn elaborate pictures of fire engines when he was 3, I was afraid she was inheriting my (lack of) artistic talent, but she may have a future in the artists' studio yet!

Grandparents, grandparents, and more grandparents!

While Mike was busy in Orkney rubbing elbows with Sir Peter Maxwell Davies and writing music feverishly, (or maybe writing feverish music?), we stayed put and had our own fun. First, Nanny and Papa crossed the bridge into the U.S. to come help me with the girls for a week. We were treated to live folk music in the livingroom and hot meals on the table every night. While I slaved away at work, the girls got to accompany Nanny and Papa to Starbucks every morning for yummy snacks. Unfortunately, we sent Papa home with pneumonia, which landed him in the hospital for an evening, and bed for a few more.

Two full, wonderful days alone with my girls (all play, no work!), and I was ready for Grandma to visit. She arrived armed with new dvd's and orange cake, and then took the girls to the park, to the museum, and out for walks so I could nap. On the hottest day, she convinced me to go buy a sprinkler, which was a hit in the backyard. All the neighbors came out to play when they heard Nourit and Avi shrieking in the water, which led to the inflation of the Bennett's HUGE pool, and another hour of fun for 7 kids in the backyard. Going back inside, I found Grandma just finishing a two-hour cleaning frenzy. God bless Grandparents!

We waved goodbye to grandma, and a few hours later met Mike at the airport. Nourit wanted to wear her special flowered dress, cupcake shoes, and butterfly ring to meet him. I think she has a crush on her daddy! (About those cupcake shoes...I was horrified when she latched onto them at Target, and I tried to talk her out of them. Now, I can see how special she feels when she wears them. They're not so horrible to me anymore...) The next morning, we piled into the car and drove to Kentucky for the first time to see Grandpa. We received a warm welcome, and had fun touring the area, splashing in the pool Grandpa bought just for the girls, and playing ball with the neighbor and his dog. Nourit asked if we could stay for five more weeks, and was sad to leave. It's good to have Grandparents!