Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'm Thankful...to Be Living and Raising My Kids in the City

Here's an article I just recently wrote for ChicagoParent.com: I'm Thankful...to Be Living and Raising My Kids in the City. For more Thanksgiving perspectives from some other members of the ChiTown Parent team, check out http://www.chicagoparent.com/community/chitown-parent


It's not always easy being an urban mom, and the city of Chicago tends to take more criticism than applause. This season though, I'm giving thanks for the city I live in: Chicago.


Here seven reasons why I'm thankful to be living and raising my kids in this Windy City:

1. Lake Michigan is our swimming pool. There is nothing quite like jumping into a cool Lake Michigan on a hot summer day. My kids have grown up with Foster Avenue beach as their sandbox and Lake Michigan - the 2nd largest of the Great Lakes - as their swimming pool. The lifeguards keep things in check, the water is remarkably clear, and the people watching is sublime.

2. We can travel the world, one restaurant at a time. We can "visit" other countries on a whim - via the huge selection of delicious ethnic restaurants that dot our city. From naan to lassis, from bulgogi to kimchee - my kids have tried it all.

3. Amazing things are happening in our public schools. While much of the news is doom and gloom, my son is enjoying his elementary school experience at a fantastic CPS magnet school. Involved parents, super teachers, and a rigorous curriculum make his school one of the best in the city. Best of all, the rich cultural diversity of our world is reflected in his classroom. Something to look forward to: of the 500 top high schools in the U.S. rated by U.S. News and World Report, Chicago has three (Northside College Prep, Lane Tech, and Lincoln Park High School).

4. We don't have to depend on a car to get from point A to point B. My kids love taking public transportation. They beg me to take the blue line downtown on a regular basis. I'm fairly certain that I could drop my 10-year-old off at a random spot in the city and he'd be able to find his way easily and confidently home on public transportation. We also have been enjoying riding our bikes, and I'm finding that Chicago is becoming bike friendlier by the day.

5. Our family pets live at the Lincoln Park Zoo. Who needs a pet cat or a pet dog when you can have a pet lion, gorilla and sea lion? We don't have to feed them and they don't shed on our sofa. Our pets live at the lovely Lincoln Park Zoo, and we can ride our bikes over and visit them for free, whenever we want, year round (during visiting hours).

6. Backyards are overrated - especially when you're surrounded by beautiful city parks. We have a huge backyard: our city is dotted with parks, both big and small. From the big - Humbolt Park (the ducks living at the pond are especially friendly) and Lincoln Park - to the small - Adams Playlot (with its awesome water play equipment) and Holstein Park - our parks are beautiful and simply made for fun.

7. There's no excuse for boredom. With so many gems just a short skip, hop or a jump away, there's no excuse for boredom. Feel like flying into space? Rocket on over to the Adler Planetarium. Undergoing a dinosaur phase? Trek on over to the Field Museum, and say hello to Sue. In the mood for exploring a forest of ferns? Pop into the Garfield Park Conservatory. There are so many neighborhoods to explore on a whim - our favorite is Chinatown - and the Field Museum and the Museum of Science and Industry are just right for just right rainy days. Any ordinary day can be transformed into an day bursting with adventure and new discoveries when you're living in Chicago.


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Monday, November 21, 2011

#makesmesmilemondays Mr. Apple's Urgent Chest Surgery


My 10-year-old son loves medical dramas and medical reality shows. Inspired by a Grey's Anatomy episode, he robbed my sewing kit of needle and thread and with a scalpel he cut open Mr. Apple's chest then deftly sewed it back together. He worked on a few more Mr. Apples until he got the entire procedure down pat. 

This is the kind of oddball stuff my son is inspired to do in his free time - and it really makes me smile.

I need to look into finding some sort of Medical Summer Camp for him - do they offer anything of the sort, anywhere?post signature 

Monday, November 14, 2011

#makesmesmilemondays Gatto Silvestro

Here is Chiara's latest love: Gatto Silvestro. Even if you don't speak Italian, I promise you'll enjoy this cute video of Gatto Silvestro and Titti (Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird) in Venice - one of Chiara's faves.
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Goodnight, Moon! at the Chicago Children's Theatre

I'm always a bit nervous before taking my daughter - age a little over two years old - to the theater. I keep my fingers crossed and hope for the best. The first play she ever attended was the Redmoon Christmas Pageant (don't forget to buy your tickets for this year's show here!). She was a little over one then - and she was enthralled - dancing to the beat of the musical numbers - and mystified by the bubble machine grand finale. The next play I took her to was Dot & Ziggy, presented by the amazing Chicago Children's Theatre: aimed at toddlers, I was extremely skeptical before the show, envisioning a madhouse of toddlers running around. Instead, the babies and toddlers at our showing - including my baby - were quietly engaged in the simple storyline about the friendship between a skunk and a ladybug. It was incredible - how did they do that!?
Still though, I was nervous as we set out to see Goodnight, Moon! this past weekend. I should have known better, though. The Chicago Children's Theatre once again proved me wrong: their shows are so skillfully presented by such talented actors, that kids are automatically captured by the story being told. In Goodnight, Moon!'s case, the great green room came alive before our eyes. The two little kittens, the pair of mittens, the quiet old lady whispering hussshhhh - they were all there, vibrant and alive before my daughter's eyes and she was thrilled. She talked about the show all afternoon and evening, and even this morning, she once again brought up "Bunny" - the little guy who just did not want to go to sleep (I think she identified with Bunny in a big way...).
I am so thankful for the Chicago Children's Theatre for raising our city's littlest residents to learn early about the joy of live theater!
If you've got a child ages 2 - 6, don't miss Goodnight, Moon! - now playing at the Victory Gardens Biograph Theater. Buy your tickets now, here.
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Monday, November 7, 2011

#makesmesmilemondays

On Halloween Eve, my good friends and I took our kids to a haunted house at the Theatre on the Lake. It was a beautiful night, and afterwards, they ran to Lake Michigan's edge where I caught them contemplating the misty lake and skyline.

I love watching these kids group up together.

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