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Showing posts from September, 2011

Coffee table

Welcome to the first edition of my semi-regular thoughts on coffee, the coffee industry, and coffee culture. (Thanks, Kelly, for the idea to write about my day maybe it'll turn into something bigger, time will tell.)

Today's take is on a micro-lot of Finca La Tina from Honduras roasted by Intelligentsia. Of the current selections of single-origin coffee on my kitchen counter--Ethiopia and Tanzania are the others--this one is the best. And I paid dearly for it. But good coffee is expensive. Why is the subject of perhaps other entries. It's about the difficulty finding good beans, those beans travelling a long way, being roasted and stored properly, then brewed correctly before they go bad.

And that last part is my topic for today.

But first, a word about the beans. What you drink when you walk into Starbucks or buy Maxwell House at the grocery...that's probably a blend. Meaning the beans from a given region or even worldwide as a commodity have been essential…

Blankie for adults

Yesterday's flannel pants got me thinking about my son's pacifier and blankie that need to be with him at all times. The pacifier for falls and bumps and stress and being cranky in general. The blankie for snuggles and falling asleep. We have multiples of each item.

A conversation with a coworker last weekend was about older kids who still have pacifiers or who are still in strollers despite being able to walk. I get both issues. Especially the pacifier with the speech and dental's going to be the first to go while I have no problem with my son taking his blankie to college if he needs to. The stroller thing for parents I think is more about kids who get tired and how slow a toddler is getting anywhere on their own. You don't want to just end up carrying them.

Do we ever outgrow the need for stress-relieving items though? Sure, when we're really little there is an overwhelming fear of the great big world so comfort takes a higher priority. We understand…

Rough day

I don't think there has been a day as rough as yesterday since Cole was tiny and I was struggling with my wisdom tooth. I was so sick from an infection (before it was removed as opposed to after for my other bottom one) that I called Kelly to come home early.

Really it's not true that yesterday was only partly seems that way because a few bad things spoil the whole day. And most days with Cole are like sunshine and puppies. He's easy, we get along, and I find myself well in control of every situation. Saying yesterday was rough neglects that I got laundry done, cleaned the bathroom, packed my race bag for the marathon, did the dishes, and he got both his naps in along with eating a ton.

It was the other stuff though. He had a run-in with the greyhound that left him with a scratch on his cheek. It was raining and then chilly all day so we didn't make it to the playground. He fell face-first into the dog's food/water stand after lunch. And the diaper pail lo…

Banana peels

Our system is a nightly tradeoff depending on who is working. If you're working, you walk the dog bedtime/morning but sleep. If you're the daytime parent, you get up with Cole if he's awake. Though this system is currently subject to review, I think. Despite dropping a day at work, Kelly has continued to take Thursday nights as if I worked on Friday. And his sleeping through the night is now going to be countered by a newborn waking several times.

My first reaction is that just out of biology his mom was probably the greater caregiver during those early days. Plus I was working more. It will be interesting to see how the logistics work out with a toddler in the crib across the hall and a brand new baby in our room. We're trying to have it so that she can either be in bed with us or in her bassinet, but once she is old enough to roll over all bets are off and we'll have some serious practical matters to sort out with the two kids.

Last night Cole went to bed fairly …

Just your Ordinary Working Mom: Newborns are easy. Toddlers are hard.

If you have a chance, please checkout my friend's blog. Her son is roughly the same age as mine and she always has interesting thoughts about parenting and her experience as a mom. Today's post is about the differences between a newborn and a busy toddler. Below is my response to her points about the clingy/independent coin with young children. It's an interesting issue especially for someone like me with a background in psychology.
I have to agree pretty much. We're not too worried about the new little sister when she's born because they're actually pretty easy the first few months. They don't go anywhere, drink only milk, need little outside amusement other than being held. Cole is a ton more work now. But I'd say he's also a bigger reward since you get feedback about how he perceives the world. Newborns are kinda just lumps. For us, we've traded sleeping through the night with a much more crazy day that needs to have stuff to do. I can't …

Ending up

Had a fun visit with Cole's grandpa in smalltown IL yesterday. Tiny diner with decent diner food and a horribly smelly restroom. Trip to a yarn/knitting store that is out on a 2-lane highway in the middle of nowhere--just somebody's house they added onto and they keep a flock of sheep in a pen outside for business reasons. Found a playground for Cole so Grandpa could watch him have some fun.

We chased away the high school kids making out on top of the slide and all the equipment was a little bigger and older than we're used to at home. It had some dried out mulch that Cole actually liked getting dirty in and the slides (is sliding board an Ohio thing?) had graffiti on them a la "John and Megan 4ever." There was even a frisbee golf course next to the swings. And to make Cole's day there was an older girl he loved chasing around--and she loved being chased. It was a perfect match of up the stairs, across the bridge, follow little girl through bubble tunnel, dow…

Paying later?

It was a pretty intense day yesterday and I have a feeling we're paying for it today. My playground plans are being thwarted by a crankypants who didn't get much food or exercise yesterday. Oh, and also by the dreary weather where the temperature has dropped and clouds have rolled in causing us to shut all the windows from the chill.

Yesterday's big adventure was maybe a little too big. I think I was one stop over the limit because by the time we were on the Blue Line coming home (a longer, less pleasant walk to our house from the station than the Green Line), it was clear our time was limited. This kid needed a nap and needed a nap bad.

It didn't help that I left the stroller at home and braved a day of just the baby carrier. It saves hassle in some ways with the folding, up and down stairs, and navigating. But I had packages and that's a long time for a kid to  go without much entertainment or the comfort of his own full seat.

Our first stop was Dad's coffee …

Big playground adventure

Still snoozing at 2 hours this afternoon. Dad took a nap, too. It was a big morning. We had a light lunch and bath before falling asleep, but it was the playground--as usual--that took its toll.

In no particular order...

--put sidewalk chalk in its box, in his mouth, let it drop on the ground to hear the fun "ping" noise, got it all over (note to mom and dad, we need to buy some sidewalk chalk)

--went down the slide by himself

--kicked an older boy who kicked him first

--tried to walk up the infamous hill of grass...Cole will not set foot on grass unless necessary, esp. when the ground is wet.

--fell down the infamous hill and kept rolling because of gravity

--found a mom who has a due date the day after our new little sister

--played ball on the swing

--played ball in the tunnel with a friend

--learned to share and take turns on a pair of steering wheels on the equipment

--bounced on the bouncy thing

Doing the math

Not to sound a little too much like "Seasons of Love" from Rent (you know, "525,600 minutes, how do you measure a year?").

Or a little too T.S. Eliot "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" measuring out life in coffee spoons.

But I've calculated the number of days until Cole turns 18. Not from any can't-wait-until-he-leaves thoughts. Though Kelly and I have a strict, "gotta get out" policy for preparing our children for adulthood.

No, I've noticed that my days with my son have fallen into a routine that we both enjoy and I'm also very aware--unlike him--that these days are numbered.

6140 days left to be exact. If I've done the math right that's about how much we have before he leaves home.

Of course, it's really more like 3000 because, let's face it, when he turns 10 it's all downhill.

Not to mention that I'm also trying to figure out what to do when the kids head off to school and my SAHD time is over. Sad…

You are not entitled to your own facts

*Sigh* The "controversy." Because some right-winger said they have a problem with the big, bad government requiring sweet, innocent little girls to get "risky" adult shots, we're now all talking about HPV.

Is this autism all over again? Frankly, I'm not sure how I feel about a mandate. But I am in favor of not being stupid. And I'm in favor of public health. You shouldn't give your daughter (or son!) Gardasil because the government told you to.

You should give your child Gardasil because you're a good parent and you're not dumb. And because the CDC, AAP, AAFP, ACOG, and ANCI all think you should.

In the US alone, about 12,000 women a year get cervical cancer and 4,000 die from it. HPV is the #1 sexually transmitted infection and causes all sorts of other things we're squeamish about in women AND men. Warts. Other cancers of the mouth, throat, and body parts you'd prefer not to think about.

Worldwide 233,000 women die from cervical ca…


I think along the way this past year I've largely considered having a son to be pretty much like owning our greyhound. Don't forget to feed him, clean up his poop, play with him a little bit, he sleeps a lot.

Somewhere in the last few weeks though, he's changed.

Don't get me wrong, he's always been Cole. He's always liked banana, he's always liked a bath, he hates to have his face wiped.

But lately, I've noticed that he's experiencing the world in a completely new way that I don't understand. He's a full human being. He's become less a robotic creature with basic needs and has his own thoughts and opinions about things now. It's pretty amazing.

Sometimes you can see things clicking in his head as he ponders and makes decisions based on whatever rules he thinks run the world. "Hmmm, what am I more in the mood for...toast or nectarine?" "I can't remember what's inside this book so let's find out."

And he…

The pros and cons of vintage buildings

I wish I had one of these to keep warm this morning. The weatherman on the morning news usually says, "grab a jacket and sunglasses" in the summer, but today he specifically said, "coat not jacket." It's slippers and sweatshirt stuff. 
We live in Chicago, we're used to blizzards and freezing temps. But if you live in Chicago, you probably also have steam heat (not to mention a gas stove). I lived most of my life with electric and there are definite benefits to the dominant hardwood floors, radiators, and boilers. 
We never run out of hot water, for one. And when you step out of the shower, you're instantly dry thanks to zero room humidity. And most of the winter, you turn off some radiators and open windows because when the heat is on the heat is WAY on. 
But this time of year is tricky. Especially with a pregnant woman in the house, it still could be warm enough to use the air conditioning. By that, I mean room air conditioners that are installed in t…

Teenagers and our crumbling society

You'd think my blog for today would be about successfully completing my first day completely, totally without aid as a dad. Kelly is in Godforsaken, Georgia. Or is that Alpharetta? I think she went to Alpharetta. It's for a very brief 2 days, but it's Cole's first night away from her. Or is that "her first night away from him?"

We had a big day. All naps were taken (including Dad's). Meals were eaten. We spent a couple hours at the zoo watching them milk goats. The dog got walked. There were only brief moments of tears--mostly his. And he went to bed at way too reasonable an the point where I question whether or not I may be getting up in just a little bit.

Anyway, no this rant is about something else. Teenagers. I was one. I'm sad to say Cole and his yet-unborn sister will become one. We all hate them. But why?

Where to begin, right?

No, what specifically came to me on my long 12 mile run the other day was not that they travel in packs, alw…

Jogging Stroller Technique

The manual that comes with the jogging stroller probably has at least 3 pages of warnings--but absolutely none on how to actually run with the thing.

A quick Google search on proper form (all the rage these days) with a jogging stroller came up pretty empty. Even my beloved Runner's World, you get a couple paragraphs on page 2 of a jogging stroller review article...filed in the "women's running" section, mind you.

CREATE SPACE "Try not to encroach on the jogger," says Tim Hilden, physical therapist at the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine in Colorado. He recommends creating as much space as safely possible between you and the jogger to minimize a choppy stride.

MIX IT UP Pushing a jogger with both hands eliminates a natural arm swing. "The problem is that altering natural running mechanics places greater stress on your core and legs," says Hilden, who recommends pushing with one arm and switching off.  Nobody seems to know what to do with the thing…


It was a busy weekend, sorry for the lack of posts...

Shopping for the new baby--aka Jelly Bean--included a place for her to sleep (to start at least) and some new bottles that will hopefully mean I don't have to do any dishwashing while I'm home with them during the week. With Cole, we had 4-5 and just kept them in rotation so that you had to make sure there was always at least one "on call."

Saturday included the first time this year I've been able to go to the Farmer's Market and pick up our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) box.

We had paid and registered quite awhile ago for the Intelligentsia Coffee tour of their Chicago Roasting Works. Which ended up being amazing and also annoying. Kelly pins it 100% on us for not doing more research and/or calling ahead. We saw on the reservation that kids were free--which to us equals "welcome." Another family with small children called and at least knew they could bring their stroller...despite a smal…

Jose the Pants Man

Kelly e-mailed me from work today saying she thinks we should back to cloth diapers soon. I tend to agree. The only reason we stopped was the smell. No air conditioning in the summer plus weekly pickup means "we're only tree hugging hippies when it comes to non-hygiene-related issues."

The whole thing was down to a science, really. Early newborn blowouts aside, you had extra cloth to wipe with if needed. We figured out to use snap covers and not velcro so Cole couldn't get them undone. And we bought a lidded trashcan for the big yellow bag the service gave us. Every Tuesday, we'd just roll it into the entry hall and hope our neighbors would forgive the scent for a few hours. And Jose (the pants man) would use his security door key to come leave us a fresh bag.

I've seen the Dirty Jobs where he goes to the warehouse where they open the bags of dirty diapers and count them for your weekly balance. It's not pretty. Not that Jose does that task in addition to…

Sleep logistics

Almost there on the sleeping arrangements for the new baby. We've been throwing around ideas from bassinets to co-sleepers to little gadgets. She'll be sharing our room for the start of her life and Cole will still be in his crib. So that factors into our philosphy.

Given that bassinets tend to be more expensive and have the same weight limits (while being larger), I think we've decided to split our investment into two. We're big fans of the FP Newborn Rock & Play Sleeper and then are going to pair it with a little basket device that will let us keep her in our bed without rolling over on her or her rolling out. Great for naps! I was a big fan of having Cole with me so we both could get some sleep.

Speaking of Cole, he was awake last night at 4am. I gave him a bottle, but instead of going back to sleep he just laid in there. So I got up and did the "sit in the chair while he stares at me." He used to to that a lot more before he slept through the night.…

The Tale of the Waiting Room

Thank God it wasn't one of those tests where they make you drink a gallon of water that you have to hold until they're done. We arrived yesterday for our ultrasound at Loyola Outpatient a few minutes early. 2:45 appointment. At 3:30pm we were still in the waiting room.

Fifteen minutes late I can totally understand. Twenty minutes late and I start to feel like you're not doing very well on patient care. Forty-five minutes late and we were plotting an escape. We had already decided to walk out at 3:45. Not to mention that Cole was along.

He loves the place. There is a long, carpeted walkway he can crawl/walk along. There is a 2 story wall of water that trickles down. They left a free newborn/infant care magazine for him to play with. (Because we certainly didn't want was from WebMD and had conflicted advice for new parents even at just 4 pages long!) Luckily, being Super Dad, I'd brought sliced grapes and cheese for a snack but that was long gone. Poor kid fe…


Hope everyone had a good long weekend for Labor Day. We're back and blogging.

At Kelly's last doctor appointment, they told her they want one more ultrasound for size. They also told her they don't really induce labor at this office like the doctor did with my son at the other hospital. So we could be in for a longer wait this time around.

Apparently, the "last ultrasound for size" meant now. Because maternal-fetal medicine called and said there had been an order from the doctor to schedule one. Interesting. Won't she do a lot of growing between now and being born?

Anyway, we will be going in this afternoon.

Full nesting mode has started at home, too. Yesterday was a trip for the first package of newborn-appropriate diapers to last until the cord falls off and we switch over to the cloth service again. And in the year my son has been around, we've made it through a whole bottle of shampoo/body wash.

This time around, we know more about what we need. Which…

Juice [joos] noun

thenaturalfluid,fluidcontent,orliquidpartthatcanbe extractedfromaplantoroneofitsparts,especiallyofa fruitOh the things I could blog about from my birthday yesterday. Cole and I took a trip to the Chicago Children's Museum and had lunch together--an overall exhausting day, but perfect weather and he was a great kid all day long. Mom was stuck at work in a meeting so Dad was on his own. And, being his birthday, Dad wanted a beer and burger from Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville Bar and Grill.

Though they just slapped some posters on the wall to replace the restaurant that used to be there, I'm really not going to complain about them. They're just one example of other issues. The food and service were actually pretty good.

To her credit, the waitress was especially focused on Cole and making sure he was happy and comfortable. She openly admitted she has no clue what kids need, but her instincts were right. Glasses and food away from the edge of the table, putting the mashed p…