Friday, October 28, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here's my little ladybug: Chiara in her Halloween costume - I thought she wouldn't like wearing the antennae headband but it turns out I have to hide it from her or she'll want to wear it everywhere we go. Grandma is still working on Daniel's costume...he's going to be a mummy. On Sunday, we're celebrating Halloween at my our annual Halloween party: I'll be making the usual mummy dogs with a side of spooky tater tots, then we're headed to the 13 Terrors on the Lake haunted house. Happy Halloween!

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Bilingual Baby: Update

Chiara also loves "writing"
Background Recap: We are trying our best to introduce our baby girl to her heritage language, Italian. I have been keeping up with speaking to her mainly in Italian (90%). Her father speaks to her solely in Italian. Her home daycare provider speaks to her in Spanish. Her brother speaks to her in English peppered with Italian.

Chiara turned two in late September. A week earlier, her grandparents - Nonno and Nonna - flew in from Italy to stay a over a month with our family. Chiara has been staying at our home with Nonno and Nonna since then instead of going to daycare, and, fully immersed in Italian, she has picked up so many words and phrases in such a short amount of time. The ease with which Chiara picks up not one but two languages amazes me. Italian seems to be her language of choice, but she also fully understands English. Oddly enough, she knows to speak English to those that don't speak Italian.
She's having a blast with her Nonno and Nonna, who have indulged her to the max with love and care. Happily, she never watches tv save for the odd Italian kids music video or Barbapapa here and there, and she is turning into a huge book lover. She absolutely needs a book or two in her bed each night or she'll throw a tantrum: she needs to know that reading material is readily available or she'll go nuts. Like mother, like daughter - who knew that these traits were passed down from mother to child?!
I read most of her books to her in Italian - interpreting on the spot - but I'm realizing that I'll need to bring a big haul of Italian kids books back home with us on our next trip to Italy, so when she does start to read, she has a good selection of Italian books, too.
Her big brother, Daniel, age 10, is also benefiting from having the Nonni around. Once again, if you ask Daniel if he speaks Italian, he'll say no. And then you'll find him having a conversation in Italian. He also speaks Italian along with his sister, so it's as if they are almost at the same level of the language, learning together.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My Top Five: Nashville

I just spent a wonderful long weekend in Nashville - my first time ever visiting music city USA. It was a quick   (just over an hour via direct flight on United), fun escape from Chicago. I'll be writing some articles for travel-based publications which I'll eventually link to, but for now, here are my top five Nashville picks:
Fun Shops in East Nashville
Live Music on Broadway
Vintage concert posters: Hatch Prints

Popsicles at Las Paletas

Singing my heart out at the Ryland Auditorium, after the backstage tour

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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

#makesmesmilemondays at the Pumpkin Patch

Chiara at the pumpkin patch...she is simply basking in all things Halloween, especially pumpkins and "OOOOoooooo Sccccarrrwwweeeyyy Guys" (a.k.a. skeletons).
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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking at the Bank of America Theatre, Chicago

I have been admiring Carrie Fisher for a long time: Star Wars was one of the very first movies I ever saw at the movie theater, and I can still remember forcing my classmate, Jason, at Triton College preschool, to play Luke to my Leia in the loft area. I have a massive Star Wars card collection that I passed on to my son, Daniel, who shares my passion for all things Star Wars. Later, I admired Carrie Fisher as an actress in scores of movies and eventually, as a writer: I thoroughly enjoyed her semi-autobiographical Postcards from the Edge, and her autobiography, Wishful Drinking. I appreciate her for being brave enough to stand up and share her struggles with her weight, bipolar disorder and alcoholism.
So I was thrilled to be able to catch Ms. Fisher in her award-winning play, Wishful Drinking, last evening at the Bank of American Theatre in Chicago. Similar to her eponymous book, Wishful Drinking is more of a confessional than anything else. You'll feel as if you're having a night out with an older, wiser, wittier friend who really has been there/done that and approaches life and all her faults and foibles with refreshing frankness and honesty. Having grown up amidst the craziness of Hollywood, Ms. Fisher shared that she's finally reached the point where she can look back on her life (which includes overdoses, struggles with mental illness, divorce, remarriage to a man who eventually admitted to being homosexual, having a good friend overdose and die at her home) -- and laugh. It seems that by embracing the painful facets of her life, Ms. Fisher has been able to heal, help others, and have a laugh, too. She really is a bright, honest force in this world, and she made my evening complete by kindly autographing one of my precious Star Wars cards for my son.

Don't miss Carrie Fisher in Wishful Drinking. Now playing at the Bank of America Theatre until October 16th. For tickets, head over to
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Disclosure: Special thanks to Broadway in Chicago for treating me to tickets to this show. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pomp and Circumstance VS. The Wedding March

This article originally appeared on The Chicago Moms

This morning, it happened again: hoping to get the students at the high school where I teach excited about working hard towards graduation, the teacher/presenters at an assembly blasted Pomp and Circumstances. Tears welled up in my eyes. Pomp and Circumstance always manages to make me emotional.

Every other year or so, on graduation day, I have to announce the names of the students in my homeroom. As I proudly and carefully read their full names and watch them walk up to receive their diplomas, I always have to try my best to gulp down those happy tears. I have to completely avoid looking out into the audience, at their hopeful, happy parents if I plan on reading all the names clearly and distinctly.

So if graduation day for my students makes me emotional – what am I going to do when it comes down to the graduation days of my own kids?!?!

Some moms dream of the day that their daughter marries. They dream of the day when she’ll be dressed up as a princess in her white wedding dress, when she walks down the aisle to the wedding march, a bouquet of flowers in hand.

I dream of the day when my daughter walks down the aisle to Pomp and Circumstance at her college graduation. I will be the bawling mom in the audience. We will have the biggest party ever or I will take her on a trip to the destination of her dreams – maybe even both. When and if she is conferred her PhD? I will spend more on her outfit that day than on a wedding dress. I will be delighted to save up every penny, nickel and dime, enough to take my daughter to Chanel for the most beautiful dress or suit ever. (The same goes for my son, too. And he’s already chosen his dream destination, Australia, so I’d better start saving!).

Don’t get me wrong: I love fancy weddings! And should my daughter choose to have one, I’ll help her plan a day to remember down to the very last detail. Just as well, should she forgoe college to choose a career path that meets her dreams and doesn’t require extensive education – we’ll find a way to celebrate that, too.

Just take a look at latest cover of any celebrity magazine: Our country celebrates over-the-top weddings and glamourizes women who have done little more than meet a guy and make some arrangments. We need to tone done the celebrating women for their manufactured wedding days, and focus more on celebrating women for their achievements.

On her wedding day, I will be over-the-moon happy for my daughter. On her graduation day, I will be over-the-moon proud of her. She’s still my baby girl so I’ve got lots of time before either big date, but for now, I want her to always know that I value her education and her dreams more than anything.

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Chicago Kicks

Image Credits: Akin x Nike LunarGlide+ 3 “Chicago Marathon”
image via akin

At age 10, my son is already wearing men's size 7 shoes. When he was just born, his doctor in England told me that he'd be Tall - as in 6 ft. 3" or taller. Since that day, March 27th, 2001, it seems like he's been on a neverending, beanstalk-fast growth spurt. He grows out of shoes and clothing every four to six months or so. And at age 10, he's already entered into that territory that all moms dread: he has actually started to care about what he wears.

As a treat this weekend, we rode our bikes over to Akin Chicago, where a celebration was held for the release of the Nike LunarGlide+ 3 exclusive Chicago colorway running shoe. We had fun checking out the latest shoes, Chicago marathon-inspired clothes and other unique sportswear. The ride there and back - from our home at Western/Fullerton to Fullerton/Clark, was challenging, but it was a beautiful, crisp fall day, perfect for bike riding.
The shoe's artist, Tara D., was inspired by the lakeshore and old Chicago signage. If you've got a tween/teen already caring about what he wears, Akin is a good place to catch the latest shoes - and this one-of-a-kind Chicago shoe is now available at Akin and the Nike Sportswear store only.

Daniel at Akin on Clark/Fulleron

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Disclosure: In exchange for sharing the invitation and blogging about the event, I will be getting a pair of these Chicago running shoes.

#makesmesmilemondays Apple Picking with my Kids

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