Monday, March 28, 2011

Chi-Town Parent - a new city-based parents blog

I'm happy to be a part of the latest endeavor at the award-winning ChicagoParent.com:  ChiTown Parent, a new community blog featuring 12 people living, working and raising kids in the city. Among us, you'll find an actor, an entreprenuer, and a fitness expert.
Check it out today! and be sure to subscibe: Here's the link.
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#makesmesmilemondays

My son, thinking up a good wish before he blows out the candles on his 10th birthday cake.  
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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My Baby Trixie

Remember Hi and Lois? My mother always tells me how, as a baby, I reminded her so much of Trixie. Looking at my own little girl, I can't help but to think I've got a baby Trixie on my hands, too.
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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Bring the World into Your Home

A few years ago, I detailed 10 Ways to Bring the World into Your Home, in an article for Chicago Parent.

One of my recommendations was: Host a foreign exchange student. Your children will learn firsthand about the language and customs of another culture and in turn, develop a lifelong friendship. If you can find a student that speaks the language your child studies at school (or hopes to study), all the better. If your child's school doesn't offer world languages (grrrr), hosting a student from overseas is a great way to learn a new language: you can trade English speaking time for some French, Italian, Chinese speaking time. As a bonus, you'll have another reason to take a family trip overseas - to visit your exchange student's family!
The mother of 3 (now 4!) former students of mine, Denise DiPauloWaltz, arranges homestays for students from Europe (primarily France and Spain) via Compass USA, and she's looking to connect families with students this upcoming summer and the next academic year. Here's a link to a great article describing how Denise brings the world into her home. Interested in hosting a student? Contact Denise at ddwaltz@sbcglobal.net or call Compass USA at (847) 652-7662.

FCC Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way for writing this post.
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Friday, March 11, 2011

Five for Friday - 5 Things on My Radar This Week

On Monday, I had a meeting (re: a new community blog set to roll out at ChicagoParent.com - what a great group of writers! - I'll share more with you soon!) at Little Beans Cafe, located on the Elston Avenue corridor between Bucktown and Lincoln Park. A comfortable conference room was rented for us. If you are planning a meeting that needs to (should!) be family-friendly, Little Beans is the place for you. From the conference room, I could peep out at the kids playing in a fun space filled with slides, little houses, shops, a fire engine, balls galore, and more. There are also tables in the play area, where parents can catch up on some work with a coffee or chat with friends, potentially without distraction, while your kids play. There is a also a separate cafe area, where you can grab a hot drink, pastry, sandwich and more.

Have you been to crayola.com? Pupa, age 18 months, loves to color. They have some nice printable coloring pages for toddlers, First Pages for Young Colorers, and a whole bunch of pages for every holiday you can think of. There are also tens of craft ideas for all ages, with accompanying how-to videos.

We are trying to eat more veggie based dinners, so this week, I made a big batch of Mollie Katzen's mushroom lentil walnut burgers and a cauliflower gratin that even Fratellone loved.  On Monday, I celebrated La Festa della Donna - one of my favorite Italian holidays, partly because I love mimose, by gifting each of my girl students a yellow rose.

A reader alerted me to this website - lunchlovecommunity.com - which features videos on encouraging and embracing healthy eating. Learn how a group of parents overhauled their children's school lunches, watch how one district provides made-from-scratch lunches for their schoolchildren, and see what happens when a group of 6th grade students burn a Hot Cheeto.

Yesterday, I nominated one of my fellow Wyndam Women on Their Way, Tracey Friley (who blogs at onebrowngirl.com) for the Self Magazine Women Doing Good campaign. Tracey runs life-changing adventure camps - OBG Adventure Camps - and takes girls out of their element and into the world at large as part of a multicultural camping experience that emphasizes cultural appreciation and cultural engagement. Not moments after I hit the send button on my nomination form for Tracey, did my inbox glow with good news! I've won a Fund for Teachers grant, that will eventually take me to Italy (some time this upcoming summer) to complete study in an area that's always interested me - archeology. I've had a lifelong interest in the Etruscans - and they will be my area of focus. I'm so thrilled and thankful!

Have a wonderful weekend!


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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Reluctant Landlord

***This post originally appeared on The Chicago Moms

This housing crisis has left us landlords by default.


My husband and I never intended to be mini real estate moguls, nor are we very successful at it. And of course, it could be worse. We purchased a home of our own last summer, and at the same time decided to (read: were pretty much forced to) hold on to the two condos we’d bought in our previous lives.

Heres the backstory: In 2005, I was a single mom with a little boy. My husband was a single guy very much focused on his job. I bought a condo in Bucktown, across from the perfect park. My thoughts at the time were: I am sick to death of dealing with landlords. I want a place to call my own. Besides, I’ll never get married again. Nope. No. Never. At about the same time, my now-husband bought a condo too, a short drive away from the university where he devoted most of his time pre-family.

But you know how it goes: If you want to make God fall into fits of laughter, make plans. Not being in touch with one another – for years – neither of us could have ever imagined that we’d meet up once again, after years and years, fall in love, marry, welcome our beautiful daughter, set off on the family path together. So we bought our condos, each of us closing on them, unknowingly, within the span of a same year.

And then of course, we re-met and the rest is history. And yes, we are still stuck with those same condos.

Because property values dropped so tremendously, it would have been silly to sell. It was decided that we’d rent them out and wait out this housing crisis. So far and with much luck, we have found great tenants: We haven’t yet had any middle-of-the night phone calls regarding broken water heaters, nor have we had tenants defaulting on rent. Finance-wise, we break a little over even. So we could call these two condos investment properties that we really wish we had never invested in. Nevertheless, every time the leases come up for renewel, we fall into a sort of panic mode, hoping our tenants will resign.

Last week, I received a real estate listing: someone in my old building is selling a unit similar to mine. The listing price is close to what I paid for mine way back when. You’d better believe I’m watching that listing like a hawk, hoping it gives me some hope.

Someday, we’re hoping that these two condos will pay off. If anything, the kids will one day have access to some pretty cool bachelor and bachelorette pads.





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