Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Obama in the rain. Let's hope for better weather next Tuesday.
I am so excited for the election next week I can hardly breathe. I cannot even imagine how the people who were very close to the campaign must feel about all of this.

Last summer when there was a buzz that Obama would notify people by email of his Veep choice I fell for the gimmick and signed up to be a supporter. Every day since I've gotten a "personal message" from Barack, or Michelle, or Joe (not six-pack or the plumber) Biden. At the end of each email is a request for money. Twice, I hit the donate button. It's brilliant of them to make it so easy. I've never given money to a campaign before in my life but here I am doing it cheerfully.

But I have to say, the emails, which I admit have been a little irritating at times, have been a very small price to pay for the ultimate payoff because yes, it's true, I have been personally invited to attend the rally next week when he makes his victory speech downtown at Grant Park. The invites were only sent to Illinois supporters and I happen to be one of them. Yes. Envy me.

Next Tuesday night, I, my children and my darling husband will be at the epicenter of the universe when Barack Obama announces he is the next president of the United States of America.

We will stand in a ridiculously long line waiting to show our IDs and go through security. We will stand in the freezing cold (it's November in Chicago--on the lake) and wait what will seem like hours for the man to come out and give us the good news.

And I'm looking forward to this.

Let me explain the importance of this. I am not a person who likes to be uncomfortable. My family jokes that I have a four-degree comfort zone. Below 68 and I'm cold. Above 72 and I'm hot. I'm precious. My daddy even installed an extra heater at his home just for me in his chilly game room because I'm his favorite or maybe because he is sick of hearing me whine, whatever.
I do not like to wait in lines. I do not go to ANY event that requires me to stand in a line. This means my kids have actually had to miss a few plumb lessons (the much coveted golf lessons and the even more coveted swim lessons that you have to get in line for at 6:00 am ). If I can't sign up by email then forget it. And I think people who camp out overnight to get season tickets for the Cubs are certifiably insane (they even might think that after their swift elimnination from the playoffs this year, but I digress).

I do not like to wait to see anyone and this includes the Pope. After waiting an hour in the sun we gave up and went to get icecream and beer. We did see his hand waving but that was it. We didn't care. We enjoyed our treats.

So for me to be willing to put up with the inconvenience, the crush of the crowd, the freezing cold, and the no-doubt interminable wait, is more than just a little bit uncharacteristic. It's apocalyptic is what it is.

And so is next Tuesday.

It is nothing short of apocalyptic that the first Senator from Illinois since Abraham Lincoln and the first black man will be elected President of the United States of America.

And I will be there to see it.

Did I mention I'm a teeny bit excited?

God Bless America

Thursday, October 23, 2008


WonderBunny: Pirate of the seas

My friend Ann R. grew up here in Glenview (a suburb just out of Chicago) which is close enough to the city to be more city than suburb. A hundred years ago there were a handful of farms but all that is left is Wagner Farm which our Park District bought and runs so our kids can see what we used to see when we visited our grandparents. But Ann is a real city girl and did not even have grandparents with farms.

So I imagine it was rather a surprise to her when her daughters expressed interest in joining the 4H club .

Ann is a good mom and so she signed her girls up and they went to their meetings at Wagner Farm and they bought their animal. They were to raise it, show it at the fair, and ship it off to where all farm animals get shipped off in the end (and I don't mean a petting zoo). During that first year, they started small, with a sheep (they have since graduated to cows). They went every day in all kinds of weather to feed the sheep and muck out the barn. Her daughter Olivia was a tireless caregiver but since she can't drive yet that means her mother was a tireless driver. At one point in the dead of winter sheep grew ill and needed round the clock nursing.

So Ann did what any good mom would do. She put the sheep in her car and took it home. It stayed one week in her finished basement.

This is really one of the greatest things about being a parent. One day you're pregnant and the next you have a sheep in the basement. At no point in the process before having kids do you think, "Gosh, what fun my kids will get me into! Maybe someday I can have livestock in my own basement." No. You really cannot see where these wonderful people will take you. Which is probably just as well because what sane person would sign on for that?

But it turns out that if you're really doing your job and letting your kids be who they should be (and not just some creation for your own amusement/fulfillment) you will find yourself not just learning new stuff but learning stuff about stuff you didn't even know existed (4-H in Glenview?).

And this is how I found myself last night at an animal shelter in the city, sitting in a crappy concrete building, watching WonderBunny (that's him above, isn't he fetching in his pirate costume...don't ask, that's another blog altogether) have a "bunny bonding" session with a girl bunny named Suzie Q (they're both fixed, get your mind out of the gutter). Because it turns out that if you want your bunny to have a partner (and Lilly makes a compelling argument for this) you need to first have your bunny spend time with the potential pal. So they meet in a caged-in area while a trained rabbit professional keeps them semi-separated with a special tool (a grease-spatter shield) so they can sniff each other but not bite or scratch. You must repeat the bunny bonding process several more times. Then and only then will the two buns bond. Who knew? Lilly did. She'd done all the research and knew all of this ahead of time.

As I sat on the cold metal folding chair, watching the "bunny bonding" process and keeping an eye on the incontinent shelter cat who had already peed on my purse and reflecting on the many other ways I may have chosen to spend my Thursday evening, I had one of those "What the hell am I doing here?" moments that happen so frequently as you parent.

Then Lilly sidled up to me and whispered in my ear, "Oh Mama, I'm so happy that WonderBunny will finally have a partner that I can't breathe. Thank you so much for bringing me here."

And I had my answer.


You can drink the blue stuff on the left but the white stuff on the right is better for you.

The other day when I ordered my latte at Starbucks I asked for my usual...whole milk. At this point the woman behind the counter who is so used to North Shore Skinny Bitches asking for skim milk that she actually gasped and looked up at me, no doubt expecting to see a fat-as-a-circus lady person. When she saw my skinny self she smiled slyly and said, "Good for you!" as if I were treating myself to something very, very naughty, a rare indulgence. But she guessed wrong. I was not treating myself. I always have whole milk.

That's right, the ONLY milk in my house is whole. And even more sinfully, I give it to my kids. When people see it they ALWAYS comment. "That's whole milk!" they say in the same tone they might say, "That's crystal meth!" Yes, I smile proudly, we drink whole milk. Then I prod them on. Go ahead. Have a little. It won't hurt. You know you want some. It's easier to corrupt them if cookies or cake are involved. Sometimes they do have some but they only take a small juice glass full.

So it's come to this. We are so brainwashed into thinking fat is bad for us we no longer enjoy whole milk.

Well, sisters, let me tell ya. There's a strong body of evidence that says we've been grossly mislead on the old low-fat thing. If you want to read a really indepth report on this topic take a look at

an article that appeared in the New York Times by acclaimed scientist Gary Taubes. By the way, his main premise, fat doesn't make us fat but processed carbs do, has been embraced by many including Dr. Weil and Oprah's pal Dr. Oz.

If you don't feel like reading the article let me summarize: you can and should eat healthy fat: whole milk, butter, olive oil, red meat, eggs. You can't eat crappy carbs: processed food, soda, anything sweetened with fructose/corn syrup. Fat doesn't make you fat or lead to diabetes, the processed crap does. Fat fills you up and gives your body something to burn. Carbs burn off quickly and leave you starving for more.

I have embraced this way of eating for some time but it's been difficult to wean my kids off the white food (bread, pasta, macaroni). So when I realized my son was eating everything in sight and still hungry, and not so fit, I took him to a nutritionist, Elsa, who works with our holistic doctor. It turns out she embraces this kind of eating too. I told her he could eat six english muffins and still be hungry. She smiled and said, 'That's because you are feeding the furnace with paper. He needs good fuel. He needs fat and protein. He needs eggs." So now for breakfast he eats an english muffin with canadian bacon, and a cheese omelette on top. Then he's all good and full until lunch. No sugar dip when the six english muffins wear off. It's all good.

She also said he should drink organic WHOLE milk. The fat in it is essential to make us feel full and our bodies recognize whole milk as something familiar we know how to digest. Skim milk, not so much. Not to mention the process to remove fat from milk is one of those shady endeavors we don't really want to know too much about that leaves our milk less than whole in a lot of ways. Oh, and breakfast cereal according to Elsa, is a total waste of time nutritionally speaking. Just because they spray it with vitamins doesn't mean it's good for us.

So, my friends, do some investigating yourself. Nose around and see what some of the research says on this. Even the mainstream medical profession is starting to admit that the Atkins diet does seem to have better results than a low-fat diet. If that doesn't convince you let me introduce you to my grandmother who is 93. She only drinks whole milk and she's fit as a fiddle and lives on her own. And her mother who ate lard sandwiches (not kidding) lived to be 103.

Today, I urge you, order your latte with whole milk. If nothing else it's a good way to shock the Starbucks lady.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Lilly (10) has found a new place to hang with her peeps on cyber space. It is called "bunspace" and it is a site for people who own and love rabbits. No really. They have "virtual sleepovers" with their bunnies and "playdates". You do not really need a rabbit to hang out here. You do not really need your sanity or a life either.

If you go to this link, you can see Lilly's tribute to the bunny she lost this summer. The text and pictures are hers...a nice fellow BunSpace person put it together with music. You may need a tissue.

It's a brave, and slightly strange new world.


Thursday, October 09, 2008


So here I am in my modest, affordable home, playing by the rules, with my very affordable mortgage payments (15% of our monthly gross income--that's crazy talk) watching people buy crazy big houses and wondering, "How can they afford that?" for the past ten years. Multi-million dollar homes with granite countertops and rain showers and media rooms. How can that many people make that much money?

This has never really bothered me, it was only a point of interest, incredulity, and speculation. The truth is I don't really want a giant house even if it were free--too much to clean and decorate and you keep misplacing things like your children and your family values. If they want the stress that comes with having to worry about a interest-only mortgage that will balloon like a "Biggest Loser" competitor in three years, I figured, then knock yourselves out. That is not for me but it doesn't harm me either.

But now, the chickens have come home to roost. Okay, I have no idea what that saying means but people keep saying it. I think it means "Now the jumbo mortgages are due and you can't make your payments because you bought a gas-guzzling SUV and signed your kids up for traveling soccer so the rest of America will bail you out so you aren't homeless." Ahem. Wait, now I'm not taking such a Zen-like dis-interest in the topic. Now I'm wondering, "How is it I have to pay so you can continue to live beyond your means?"

Let me be clear. I am NOT talking about truly uneducated, unsophisticated people who really did not understand what was going on and were put into a bad situation by a greedy mortgage broker. I'm talking about two college educated affluent people who willingly got themselves into a giant mortgage knowing full well they could barely pay it and the other expenses in their lives too but just really wanted to have the biggest McMansion on the block. Am I really supposed to help you so you can stay in that house?

Well. I guess I am. Because as I tried to explain to a friend of mine yesterday who was saying pretty much what I'm saying, if our McMansion friends go down we all go down.

But what is the lesson here? We want a tortoise/hare ending. We want an ant/grasshopper finish. We want some consequences for the actions.

Is there one? That remains to be seen I guess.

For now, those of us living well within our means (all sixteen of us) can take solace in the fact that at least we aren't worried about making our mortgage payment.

At least not for now. But if my hubby loses his job because of this bad market, can I come live in your media room?