Saturday, December 31, 2005

a letter to my late father

Dear Daddy,

We're barreling toward 2006, and you're not here to see it with us. I am so sorry I didn't see you more often. Truth be known, I was scared. Scared that every time I saw you, I would see that a little more of you has died. Now that you're truly gone, I wish I could have had one last conversation with you. I would tell you about how I love being a mother and how wonderfully my two children are growing up. I would tell you about how happy OX is to be alive. I would bring OX to you so you can hold your first grandson. I would bring Z. to you so you can laugh and enjoy what a special little personality she is.

For the rest of my life, not just 2006, I resolve to be as kind and generous as you were with many people beyond our family circle. You were a loved man. I think life didn't turn out the way you would've liked it to, but despite the setbacks and hard immigrant's life, you still found ways to experience joy and took pleasure in the simple things.

You and I didn't see eye to eye on many things, but I always respected your opinion. You always had perfectly logical reasons for your decisions and ideas, and I appreciate that you respected us enough to explain why we should or shouldn't do certain things. I also appreciate that you allowed me to make my own choices and not dictate how my life should go. I didn't always make the right choice, but boy, I did learn hard from my mistakes.

Please rest in peace knowing that I have a loving husband, two wonderful children and a comfortable life where we never have to worry about where our next meal is coming from and that we can afford a good life for our kids.

We love and miss you terribly. You are always in my heart.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

why do babies' heads smell so good?

It's a combination of that sleep smell and baby powder. OX always smells nice. Thank God he's smiling and cooing regularly now. I was about to lose my mind.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

quick thoughts on goals

What do I want to accomplish next year?

1. Find my creative outlet.

2. Write a description of my dream job/career and make it so.

3. Find a dinner catering service for weeknights so I stop obsessing about feeding the fam after doing the evil commute with cranky kids in the car.

4. Read a book every month.

5. Stick to my budget.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

all is quiet on the midwestern front.

OX is taking his mid-day nap, and every once in a while he'll let out a yelp or cry. I now remember this being those sleep cries I've read about, so I no longer jostle him out of slumber to see if he's hungry or his diaper's ready to explode.

He's becoming more of a little person now. He's generally mellow; he sat peacefully in his bouncy chair last night while Zoe had her mac & cheese and I supervised. He hasn't been in the kitchen all that much and was interested in the sights and smells. He's also a strong little OX and can hold his head up for a few seconds at his tender age. He's slightly interested in the mobile that plays classical music (yep, we fell for that gimmick). He's an observer, I think, and will test things before coming to a conclusion. Whereas his sister always reacts before considering whether it really is a terrible thing or not.

I like it when Z-Bot and OX stare at each other. I was worried that she would exhibit more resentment. Luckily, she doesn't mind having him around and will go looking for him if he's crying. I've tried to give her a lot of me-time, but I have to confess that the tv is on more often than I'd like if only to give me some time to nurse him.

It's a beautiful fall in Chicago thus far. Today it's windy and sunny. It's been quite mild and definitely livable. I have to laugh at my SF friends who were wearing down jackets in 50 degree weather while I was jacket-less. I'm acclimated to the midwest!

A side note about the wedding - for the most part, everything went smoothly with the usual hiccups. It was wonderful to see R. get married and I saw a lot of old friends. The bridesmaid's dress fit. I got false eyelashes and pro makeup done, and I felt very, very pretty.

Friday, October 21, 2005

I'm really going to do it this year.

I signed up for this year's NaNoWriMo. I've been trying to finish this for three years now. Am I going to manage a 50,000 novel this November? Well, if OX decides to remain a sleepy dude, I just might crack 10,000 words.

As they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

newly hatched hatchling report

So far, the little man is proving to be a sleepy guy. Our usual schedule goes a little something like this:

    Change diaper
    Continue to nurse (or not)
    Swaddle (or not)
    Cuddle until passed out - noted duly by slack jaw and limp limbs

This is happening on a three-hour cycle. We can't complain.

I think Zee annoys him. When we get home from daycare and she's making a ruckus, he is not pleased with the increased level of noise and complains. It could be that he's also annoyed that I'm trying to make dinner and not sitting still for cuddling purposes.

I can only think that, a year from now, he'll be eating solid foods, and Zee would be almost three. Yeeeks.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

style prediction

Serif fonts are going to make a comeback and look decidedly more modern than sans serif fonts. So there.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Ox is here!

The little guy decided to join us early and so made his appearance into the world at 8:44 a.m. on Saturday, October 1. Z-bot was there for the birth, and it didn't faze her one bit.

He's sleeping in the bucket right now, having just suffered multiple indignities at the pediatrician's. He looks almost exactly like the Zee when she was a wee one.

So far, we're going through the semi-sleepless nights. He's not too keen on the bassinet yet, but then again, neither was Zee, initially.

Welcome, small Ox. We have lots of love to share with you.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

the waiting game

The last month of pregnancy has got to be the most painfully torturous one ever. Every waking moment is governed by a single thought - "Was that a contraction?"

I made some potato leek soup today. I have the urge to cook and freeze everything that I can, though that is being countered by the fact that I don't want to expend any energy. However, the potato leek soup is stupidly easy. Equal amounts of leeks and potatoes -- that is, one to one ratio -- enough chicken stock or water to cover everything, and crock pot on low until potatoes are mushy. Add butter and salt to taste. Puree the stuff with the appliance of your choice: blender (mine), food processor or immersion blender. Eat.

It's an overcast, rainy, humid Sunday and the house is peaceful. D-Money and Z are still napping. OX is calmly resting in my belly. He got a little excited before my prenatal yoga class but otherwise has been moving gently.

D-Money asked me what I thought his personality would be like since I know him the best out of everyone right now. I couldn't answer. I didn't know what Z was going to be like until after she was born. She was a pretty active baby in utero, but that's about I could ascertain from that point in her life. OX is not nearly as frenetic. At least, he doesn't get the hiccups that often.

I will really miss the alone time Z and I have had. I sometimes feel guilty because I don't have the energy to really give her my full attention these days, and I feel as though she may suffer from it. But, she's been as loving as her little toddler self can be. It brings tears to my eyes when she hugs me spontaneously.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

counting down

In less than a month, I'll meet my son.

Monday, August 22, 2005

random moment no. 46

Z-Bot and I creeping down rush-hour LSD, singing along to Three Mo' Tenors' version of "Minnie the Moocher".

Sunday, August 07, 2005

good bread

This is not a pregnancy thing. I've been into La Brea Bakery's bread. It is one of the few things I miss about L.A. I was very pleased to find their bread in one of the small markets where I used to shop when we lived in Streeterville. Now it's all over town at Jewel, and damn if the bread is STILL good even at a regular supermarket.

To describe the classic French baguette or Vienna petite loaf: the crust is not hard but firm. There is a definite crunch as you sink your teeth in. The texture of the bread itself is light and chewy but with some structure. Day-old holds up as french toast or with dip. I've frozen slices before and spread sweet butter and preserves on the thawed ones - still okay!

I've been buying the petite loafs and sharing them with Z-Bot. She likes her bread plain this week. I made a cream cheese and tomato dip for her to try, but she was not into it. More for me, then.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

what I did on my days off

1. Have breakfast at Julius Meinl and Cafe Selmarie.

2. Go to the farmers' market in Lincoln Square, where I bought baskets of plums and blueberries, a bunch of green onions and some rather good-lookin' heirloom tomatoes. I bought the latter on the strength of the sign that proclaimed them as keeping well. I'm planning to make some kind of tomato salad tonight but need the others to keep well because I can't eat two pounds of tomato by myself.

3. Straighten out a lot of the closets and tossed a lot of crap. It felt good.

4. Changed the sheets and did laundry, though I still have two or three loads left.

5. Finished the OX's birth plan and sent it to our doula.

6. Found fun new food ideas for Z-bot, because one cannot live on fish sticks and Kraft American singles alone.

7. Sorted out the library and pulled books to donate to The Newberry Library. Its annual book fair is my new favorite thing about Chicago.

8. Finally went to the post office to send off a book return to

9. Cook dinner for la familia.

10. Uploaded ten cds to my iPod.

All in all, a very productive use of time, if I do say so myself.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

A friend from high school days killed himself a week ago. Not expected at all. In my mind, he was a little quirky but fun. I never got the impression that he suffered as much as he did. R reminded me that he and his older brother were always pitted against each other by their father, who wanted them both to be competitive and outdo the other. Could that wear someone down to the point that death was preferable? I can speculate all I want about the causes, the motivation, but I'm too removed now to really understand.

I am sad, though I haven't cried. I feel lonely. I haven't kept up with this crowd. It brings into sharp relief how isolated I am. I never had a best friend growing up, just a succession of people with whom I tried to be best friends. Is there something in my make-up that prevents me from having a best friend or two? Do I really need a best friend? What do I have to offer someone as a potential best friend?

I think people would be surprised at the above statement. I'm essentially an introvert and value my private time. Usually, there's nothing I like better than a quiet house so I can read or putter about.

Onward to more cheerful topics, I'm downloading Dan Zanes' "House Party" for Z-Bot and OX. It's surprisingly good and easy on the adult ears. This and the Lisa Loeb/Elizabeth Mitchell album are Z-Bot's favorites, for now.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

what I listened to this afternoon

Whip-Smart / Liz Phair
Life For Rent / Dido
Amos Lee

I have officially given up my trendsetter (ha) mantle because I got an iPod courtesy of D-Money. But, true to form, he made it different from (I think) everyone else's by engraving the following quote from Henry David Thoreau on the back: "Music is the sound of the universal laws promulgated." Top THAT, sucka.

Monday, July 25, 2005

but I don't want to be an architect!

I've been taking a lot of these career assessment tests, and I keep getting "architect" as a good fit for my skills. Feh! No thank you. While I like working with architects and find them interesting and fun co-workers, I really don't want to throw myself into the fray.

Plus, I can't draw.

Yeah, it's flattering to be diagnosed as someone who has the potential to be an architect, but seriously, so not me.

Most people I know think I should be in some sort of design field. But, there is a difference between being a designer and possessing refined aesthetics. The latter is applicable to me, not the former. Meaning, I can pick out the fabulous couch but Lord help me if I were asked to design one from scratch.

Back to the assessment tests. A few salient points about my personality:

    Apparently, I need to work with smart people -- people who are intelligent, leaders in their fields, well-read and well-rounded -- in order to feel adequately stimulated and excited about work. Now, that's not to say I don't appreciate sharing celebrity gossip or where to buy cool peep-toe pumps (v. hot for the fall season), but intellectual stimulation and curiosity are important.

    I need order. My desk may look messy, but I know exactly what is in each pile and where it is.

    I like research and managing projects. On a more human level, I like helping people.

    And, I want a manageable career so I'm not working ridiculous overtime when I'd rather be helping Z-Bot and OX with their homework and rock guitar lessons.

Now I just gotta figure out what to do about it.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

hottest. day. ever.

Chicago broke the 100-degree barrier today. Z-Bot and I managed half an hour in the kiddie pool before I called it quits. Her room is sweltering, poor baby, even with the fan and a/c on. But I just peeked in and she's sleeping soundly.

Her new favorite dvd is "My Neighbor Totoro", which is required daily viewing pre-bedtime. Thank God I can turn it off after 15 minutes and not have to do a full showing each time. I think she likes watching the little girls, Satsumi and Mei, and learning how to be a girl from them. Honestly, I'd rather watch this than the Baby Einsteins.

Monday, July 11, 2005

oh yes. third trimester, here I come.

The sad fact of the day is that I rode the Brown Line about six blocks so I wouldn't have to walk them. And, of course, I took the train (Orange Line this time) to get back.

At least I didn't take a cab.

Monday, May 30, 2005

the theraputic value of play-doh

D-Money got it into his head that Zee was bored with her toys, so we went on a hunt for more age-appropriate items. We scored a bucket of Play-Doh and assorted extruders, shape cutters and other tools of the trade. 'Twas a big hit. Zee was particularly drawn to the purple Doh and the trimming knife. She and I played with the stuff for a half hour - monumental for a short-attention span toddlin' human.

I have to admit, it felt good to smush and shape things out of the Doh. There's almost a Zen-like concentration that comes over me as I'm rolling out the Doh and cutting shapes out of it. Something about using the hands, thinking about the texture, the familiar smell, trying to stop overthinking about what to make. It was relaxing.

When you buy the cans, you usually see some photos of elaborate objects people can make of the stuff. Me, I'm happy making balls and snakes...out of one color.

In other news tonight, Zee got a hold of a milk chocolate Lindor ball. Against my better judgement, I let her keep it and bring it to the car. Within the 10-minute drive home, she had opened the packaging and demolished the chocolate. I knew because I could smell it (delicious) and hear her squeals of triumph and delight. She was, classically, coverd from head to toe in gooey chocolate goodness. She was pretty happy. And who could blame her?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

I sometimes think about what kind of adults Zee and The O will become. I have an idea of what I'd like them to become. I don't want to lose sight of my role as parent, though. As much as I want Zee to be an artist and pro surfer and The O to be a musician skateboard punk, it's my job to help them reach their potential even if they want to be, I don't know, widget counters or something.

It looks like we're going to buy a house in the near 'burbs. Just watching Zee running around the backyard and having a blast was a big negative against the urban condo. She's a girl that needs her private space. Not to mention piles of freshly mown grass to plop into.

Friday, May 27, 2005

little man

Still in state of shock that Baby 2.0 is a Little Man. I was thinking that I would have another girl and that Zee would like a sister to grow up with. Now she's going to have a brother who will torture and annoy her at every turn.

Little Man's first purchased outfit is a very soft cotton knit tee and pants in a modern sort of beige-y color. Then he's getting a lot of black and grey onesies and pants from American Apparel.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Now that the belly has popped with Baby 2.0, I feel like a fertile earth goddess. I say this now. Come September, I will complain about being fat hourly.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

melancholy playlist

Not really melancholy, perhaps, but more of a quiet, reflective type of music that you'd listen to on a drizzly Sunday afternoon.

1. Fall at Your Feet / Crowded House

2. More than This / Roxy Music

3. Save Me / Aimee Mann

4. Solsbury Hill / Peter Gabriel

Friday, May 06, 2005

Lake Shore Drive is full of weird, interesting driving experiences during high commute hour. I was particularly intrigued by two cars this week.

One was an older model black Mercedes with a license plate that says "FAIA". For those of you not in the architecture profession, it signifies that you're a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. A Big Deal in my world. But who was the driver? I don't know. It's a silver-haired white gentleman, that's all I can tell you. He evidently was so proud of his FAIA status that it became a vanity plate. It's like having a plate that says "MD" or "PHD".

Yesterday, we were behind a Jesus car. Black Civic with the Jesus fish and a license plate frame that read, "Smile! God Loves You!" The driver was a middle-aged woman with enormous sunglasses who was smoking a ciggie and then pitched the butt onto the road. I ws fascinated. God loves you, even if you're a smoker and a litterbug!

Then I got to thinking, am I allowing a Puritanical mindset to color my perception of what a God-fearing Christian should be? There's nothing in the bible, I don't think, that specifically forbids smoking or littering, though there's a lot of stuff about the body being the temple of God. But it seems like the contemporary Christian has a lot more latitude in misbehavior than Christians of old. Because, you see, God loves you.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

zen mama

I read an article in today's about overly neurotic and, quite frankly, crazy moms. The author did not fall into that camp. I felt cheered. Parenting is difficult enough as it is without the added, unnecessary pressure of being Mom No. 1. Must have the Bugaboo stroller. Must have tri-lingual toddler. Must only provide organic food. Must "enrich" baby's daily experiences constantly so said baby can eventually graduate magna cum laude from Ivy League of choice.

Well, I say PHOOEY to all that.

Nearly everyone in my generation was bottlefed on formula. We grew up in the age of packaged convenience food that was good and tasty. I remember Chef Boyardee being a great lunch friend, and damned if I don't still eat Spaghetti-Os once in a while. Despite all of the processed stuff I ate, I'm healthy, no allergies, no issues.

Now, if you choose to go to therapy and complain about how craptacular your childhood was because you weren't offered mom's milk from day one, I say get a grip and get on with your life.

I didn't graduate magna cum laude from the state university I attended, nor do I know more than one language (English) with any proficiency. My life is pretty good anyway, if I do say so myself.

And if you can't appreciate who you are and where you're at, then I don't know.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

rock 'n' roll McDonald's

So the grand opening was yesterday and we went there for lunch to check it out. It was not unlike going to Disneyland: all manner of people everywhere, a LINE to get in (never mind the line to get your food), sparkly and bright, display cases of Happy Meal toys past...we noted a special VIP entrance flanked by guys in suits with two-way radios. Plus there was a blocked-off media area upstairs.

The noteworthy aspects of the new McD's are a) the escalators in the middle of the space, giving it an Ikea or Target feel, and, more importantly, the Herman Miller seating showcase on the second floor. Mies chairs! Corbu chairs! The Nelson Marshmallow sofa in black! You can sit on a piece of modern design history while chowing down on a Big Mac and McFlurry.

I didn't get too close of a look at these interesting long tables downstairs, which seem to be screens that projected some glowing, swirly abstract patterns.

The food? It tasted exactly the same as it always does, though I thought my fries were a bit saltier than usual.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

I'm still alive!

The half ounce or so of spicy tuna didn't wreak havoc with baby or mother. Truth be known, though, I like the cooked stuff more sometimes, like unagi or California rolls with real crab. Not Krab. Crab.

Japanese food is my favorite. When I think of all the different foods I like and what I would consider eating every day, if I had to, bento boxes with assorted pickles and grilled fish/meat and rice would work. That's a good time. It's also about the presentation - each component in its own boxed-off area.

Then again, a really good cheeseburger can sway me from the bento box diet.

Friday, April 08, 2005

I am hungry.

We ordered takeout from Oysy and there's a spicy tuna roll included in my lunch special. I don't know if I should be worried or not. I do know I'm going to eat it regardless and hope that the baby doesn't mind too much.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

articles of clothing that I will never wear, part 1

Any pair of pants with words printed on the seat

Hard Rock Cafe tees

Socks with holes

Any shirt with shoulder pads

Matching mother/daughter outfits


Waking up automatically at 5:30 a.m. on a daily basis is not cool, especially when I could use a little more sleep. On the plus side, everyone else is quiet and it's nice to have the house to myself. Maybe that's why my body's been programmed thus - time for myself.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

what to do for an anniversary

We did the anniversary thing on Sunday, and it was fun. I did not wear enough clothing and was miserably cold for the first half, but after buying a sweater on the fly, I felt much better. I was too optimistic that the temp would hover around 50, rather than the high 30s. It doesn't help that EVERY SINGLE shop window I saw featured sleeveless things and chiffon-y skirts.

So we had lunch at this very funny place called Duke of Perth, which is a Scots pub right on Clark. I liked it. An extremely tattooed couple sat next to a dad and his two kids. Fabulous. Darin had a good beer which was proclaimed as very smooth. We had burgers that tasted like real burgers. There were scary, sharp implements on the wall, like a reaper and a saw. I don't know if that's really good bar decor. Seems like trouble.

We then made a pit stop at a little vintage store to see if I could get a sweater because by that time I was so cold I was feeling ill, but I didn't find anything I liked. Darin thought I was insane. "Buy a sweater for three bucks! Throw it away if you don't like it! It's three bucks! Who cares!" I thought, okay, maybe I can tough it out and the movie theater will be warm.

So the theater on Clark is at the top of an enclosed mall - it seriously felt like LA for a few minutes. We saw "Sideways" -- funny, funny, funny -- and "Kinsey" as a double feature. I enjoyed "Kinsey" less. I have a general problem with biopics. Clearly, the person in question was considered important enough to have had a movie made about his/her accomplishments and life. The problem is that there's always the sense of the hammer coming down to make points on why this person is important, which is distracting, and, frankly, annoying. I prefer subtlety. But for not seeing any movies since the last LOTR, these were good choices.

Yen's for dinner - yummy Chinese food and they deliver to the northern wasteland! I'll probably order takeout next week.

All in all, a sweet anniversary and a reminder of how cute and fun my husband is.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

oh, and while I'm at it

I hate chick lit. Feh.

buy this album

I don't listen to commercial radio anymore because it gets on my nerves. I am more than happy to pay my dues to KCRW or NPR so I can hear and learn about GOOD MUSIC, as opposed to craptacular music that unfornately seems to be more the norm these days.

Amos Lee is an artist I've just heard about -- from Darin, who's really good at picking out music I would like -- and I bought his album off iTunes. It's phenomenal. Go listen to it wherever you get your music samples. He's a little less California-y than Jack Johnson, but it's along that same vein -- stripped down, guitar-based, mellow, thoughtful stuff.

And Beck has a new album coming out too. It's going to be a great year.