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Showing posts from June, 2012

Words, words, words

Cole is slowly ditching the pacifier except for naps and bedtime, but still not a talker. He loves to grab you by the hand, point, make gestures, little begging noises, and will even say "thank you" and "excuse me." Occasional words come out here or there...blueberries, cracker...but it's not conversational.

Oh, don't get me wrong. You can give him an extended list of directions. "Please go in your room under the chair and bring me your trucks." Done. Somehow we missed the "me have milk" phase and have gone straight into selective full articulation. Was I absent the day in child development where we discussed this during my psychology degree?

He grabbed all his stuffed animals the other day with a loud, "I love them!" Today he told me, regarding his helicopter getting caught inside his car track, "it got stuck." Very matter of fact. His choosing to communicate with words seems to occupy a middle ground where he can…

Add a pub!

Kelly and I are keeping a list of historic pubs we'd like to visit when we go to London in 2013. Feel free to comment or suggest another.

Shout out to Peter Haydon & Tim Hampson's London's Best Pubs: A Guide To London's Most Interesting And Unusual Pubs.


The Black Lion, Plaistow High Street, Plaistow E13 0AD Reconstructed 280 years ago, this 600 year old pub has a boxing association, former stables house the kitchen, and the cellars were used as WWII air raid shelters (and were once smugglers tunnels)Fox & Anchor, 115 Charterhouse Street, Clerkenwell EC1M 6AA We actually are considering staying here, too. There are rooms. It won an English Heritage award for restoration. The Viaduct Tavern, 126 Newgate Street, Holborn EC1A 7AA This pub has cellars made up of former Newgate Prison cells, a ghost, and was Oscar Wilde's hangout while he was on trial at Old BaileyYe Olde Cheshire Cheese, 145 Fleet Street, City of London EC4A 2BU It dates from the Great Fire of L…

The informed carnivore

Kelly is a summer vegetarian. The amount of meat in our diet was fairly small anyway, but having a box full of organic fruits and veggies sitting in our kitchen for 16 weeks certainly helps.

I remain Switzerland in the omnivore versus veggie debate. I love a salad. But I also think the ethics are there for a nice juicy steak. Let me explain...

Just the other day, I had a conversation (in the context of greyhound racing) about how I love steak, but I also love cows. And I think this is at the heart of why people think vegans are a bit touched in the head. Because really the same principle applies to both greyhounds and, say, sheep. Nobody is going to raise these animals just for the heck of it. Ok, maybe not "nobody." But the reason we have sheep or greyhounds or cows is that they're useful to us. Whether it's food or clothing or racing, you look at the numbers from something like NPR's article on "Visualizing A Nation Of Meat Eaters" and you see the sta…

Victory! ...sort of

Everyone has been asking about the meeting last night so I figured the easiest way to tell the long, complicated story was here.

A little backstory...our village operates under a form of government that's taken me 6 years to figure out. We don't have a mayor and instead have an elected set of Trustees and a President who make up the Board. They hire a non-elected Village Manager to run the day-to-day operations of the town. To make policy, the Board is advised by a series of non-elected volunteer commissions who they approve on various topics. Transportation was last night.

It's like Russian nesting dolls where you never know who the appropriate person to deal with is. So last night's meeting was a petition by the business district up the street to remove Right Turn Only (RTO) restrictions at our intersection. The process goes--commission recommends to the Board then the Board can either approve or go its own way. Not to mention that each individual commission is just …

It wasn't our weekend...

Actually, we had a lovely weekend. It just had a few...hiccups.

Friday afternoon I went out of my way to go back to the specialty bike shop for a test ride. Shout out to The Bike Shop in Glen Ellyn where they have awesome service, a nice selection, and patient answers to questions! For me, it was between a Felt Verza and the Scott Metrix. Which involved 3 bikes because the Felt has 2 versions--one where you can lock the suspension on the front fork. Ultimately, the Scott won though the Felt was a more comfortable bike. I liked the handling and more sporty aspects of the Scott, plus the shifter style. So really the choice was between the upper model Felt and the Scott...over $100 in price. So far, I've taken 2 rides on my new Scott and love it though.

But there I am, in the store, and decide to actually buy the new bike...which I wasn't sure I would do. And now I'm on my way to the grocery with no bike rack on the Subaru so they were nice enough to hold my purchase until I …

Cycling and civics

So...what you been up to lately? Oh, nothing much. Just trying to buy a new bicycle and organize my neighborhood around safety issues at our intersection.

Of course, those 2 tasks now completely occupy my spare time!

Buying a bike is like buying a car, but without any of the helpful consumer material. Heck, there's more reviews of running shoes than there are bicycles. Although the comparison fits beyond that because bikes and running shoes have in common the feature that you have two choices:

You can walk into your local megastore and select rather dull, low-quality products with the help of a salesperson who was just selling footballs and fishing equipment 10 minutes ago. Or, you can wade into the specialty store category and submit yourself to a wide, oddly-specific, detail-oriented world of comparing parts and uses.

This requires you to care about cranks or mid-sole padding. Neither of which means much unless you've actually ridden a cycle or run more than 10 miles.

I quic…

The USOC needs to lighten up...OLYMPICS--ooh, unauthorized use!

This was--I kid you not--on the knitting social media website Kelly enjoys...regarding their upcoming "Ravelympics" during the London Games.

Seriously? You're taking issue with a bunch of knitters having a sweater-making competition?

I've always heard the Olympics are pretty hardcore about protecting their logo and name, but this is just ridiculous.
Dear Mr. Forbes, In March 14, 2011, my colleague, Carol Gross, corresponded with your attorney, Craig Selmach [sic], in regard to a pin listed as the “2010 Ravelympic Badge of Glory.”  At that time, she explained that the use of RAVELYMPIC infringed upon the USOC’s intellectual property rights, and you kindly removed the pin from the website.  I was hoping to close our file on this matter, but upon further review of your website, I found more infringing content. By way of review, the USOC is a non-profit corporation chartered by Congress to coordinate, promote and govern all international amateur athletic activities in th…

Fathers Day weekend

Since weather records began, there is only one year in Chicago--1977--that has had more 90 degree days by the end of June. Today is number 12. (Tom Skilling says so and this makes it true...he's the best weatherman in the world. Sorry, Al Roker.) So it feels like summer is in full swing.

This weekend, as I wrote about awhile ago how our summer would be, was jam-packed full of activities. That's what you do in the Midwest...load Memorial Day to Labor Day with as much action as you can because we won't see the sun until maybe April. If we're lucky.

So Friday was a zoo morning. Where Cole fell and scraped both his knees running near the giraffe pen.

Then we went to the pool in the evening to cool off. And it was up bright and early Saturday morning--back to the pool for Cole's first swim lesson. Which is like trying to herd cats...getting 30 toddlers to throw their rubber duck and chase after it. Cole loved that game for about 20 minutes but when it was time to switch…

Free range parenting...on ice

A website I love that covers contemporary gender roles recently replied to a tweet of mine asking why we live in a culture of helicopter parents. I'd told them that I really enjoyed their article on encouraging our children to fail--in order to learn life lessons, mature, learn responsibility, become freethinking members of society, etc.. I said I really have no clue. Instant gratification? Lack of personal responsibility? Overly prolonged childhood? I dunno why parents feel the need to hover. I just know that's not us.

Partly because we have highly independent children. Cole has very few timid bones in his body. He's a run and play and jump and get dirty kind of kid. Asking him to hold your hand in the parking lot is a major victory if he does so willingly. He likes the zoo not for the animals, but for the long pathways to explore.

Even little Leda has caught my attention as an independent baby. She loves to be held, sure. But has grown more and more willing to fall aslee…

Hot & hilly

There are only so many things you can do as a runner when the finish line temperature is 91. Yesterday was not a day for PRs or learning much about my new nutrition strategy. It was mostly a day for desperately trying to stay hydrated, cool, and finding a way to tolerate a few calories when absolutely nothing sounds good.

Points to the North Shore Half Marathon--RAM Racing organized a pretty decent event. It had a lot of bells and whistles that other races don't have. They did a great job of encouraging runners to slow down in the heat, drop back to the 5k distance if they had doubts, check in with First Aid, etc.. They had a couple of sponge stations with enough for everyone and wet towels at the finish which were very, very welcome.

But there were a few important things that could have been done better that really made for a miserable day. The water stations were fairly far apart. I also really would have liked to have seen more sponges and cooling off closer to the start. It wa…

Plus & minus

Kelly and I laughed--half depressed--in the car during afternoon rush hour yesterday that the travel time from inner suburb to downtown Chicago and the travel time on Sunday morning to a race 30 miles away on the North Shore will probably take about the same amount of time. Gotta love Chicago expressway traffic. Actually, travel time at 5:30am on a Sunday morning will probably be faster to the race. But if I wanted to pick up my packet anywhere nearby, it had to be at the west Lincoln Park location of the running store. 
Just like race morning, I volunteered to go by myself to packet pickup, but appreciate the company. It maybe wasn't the most pleasant journey in stop-and-go with the kids, finding parking, then quickly back in the car. By the time we got home it was Cole's bedtime. Kelly was so sweet, however, insisting that someone who puts the  hard work in to run 13.1 miles deserves support. She'll have her hands full with the kids while I race. Luckily, we should have …

Turning the corner on sleeping through the night

Cole woke up in the middle of the night last night (my turn)--sleepy, disoriented, upset. Probably a bad dream. Everything was still in the crib. His blankie, his soothie, Lightning the horse, Wolfie the wolf, Stitch. These days, it's more likely that if he does wake up it's to play and everything has been thrown on the floor.

This was different. He just wanted some dad time in the chair before going back to sleep. That's fine. I put him back in his crib after only a couple minutes. He was calm, quiet, and closed his eyes. A marked turn from the days when he would scream for company at 2am. Even different than his staying up to play by himself...those nights have gotten fewer and fewer.

Every once in awhile one of them gets us up still. Last week it was that Leda waited until the middle of the night to poop so that a quick in-the-dark diaper change for Kelly turned into "oops, messy, turn the lights on" which then meant if Leda was up you might as well feed her.

Testing, testing, swim, 2, 3...

What better way to finish off your last training run before your half marathon (complete with limping 3 miles of it due to a suddenly tight calf) than taking your toddler to the swimming pool for the first time this summer?

The soreness in my leg I'm chalking up to a combination of poor eating/hydration lately and overuse from stepping up my runs. Last week I did a 12 mile run much harder than usual and the week before was a rare track workout. Not my typical routine. Injury. That's the way with distance running. For race week, I've dedicated myself to proper hydration and nutrition as I taper off the miles and add carbs for Sunday.

The goal with taking Cole to the pool despite the temps only being in the mid 70's was to see how he reacted before I took Leda in a baby carrier. Trying to be prepared.

He was a funny little guy. Chattering teeth and lips turning blue from almost the minute we got there, but a smile on his face. It wasn't that cold if you were in the r…

Wine festivals as family fun

Saturday was a pretty great day. Well, actually, so was Sunday but I'll save that for another post. Beautiful early summer weather and we started fairly early to enjoy our first week of the Farmers Market. No CSA box yet--that starts next week--but it's hard to resist donuts and bluegrass in a church parking lot on a weekend morning. 
We made our usual once-around of the booths before deciding what to buy. First on the list was definitely some of the plentiful strawberries. Not the flavorless, perfect-looking ones you get at the grocery. These are organic, farm-fresh, and look like some strange antique variety more closely related to wild. They taste earthy and sweet, but not sugary sweet. It's a different kind of mineral taste that melts in your mouth and is what leads us to usually eat the box of blueberries before we ever get home. My comment to our farmer we get our farm box from last summer was that her broccoli was spicy. I've never had broccoli have a natural pe…

An ode to dads

(Or, "Squirrel Fought The Hound & The Hound Won")

There's nothing like waking up and having your first act of the morning be to grab a dustpan so you can scoop dead squirrel off the sidewalk in your front courtyard. Then do a mental calculation about whether or not your hound is up to date on her shots as you wash the blood off her snout and notice that the squirrel got a little comeuppance in before heading to the great nuthouse in the sky.

A pause to reflect on the circle of life.

Kelly is squeamish about these things. I'm the official bug killer, too.

Fathers Day is right around the corner, so let us be thankful for dads...the griller of meat. The flusher of insects. The fixer of electronics. He who knows how to connect the DVD player to the HDTV and make the 4:3 ratio programs fit on the 1080p full size screen. He who can use the GPS and a superior sense of spatial intelligence to find exotic destinations.

Moms may get the unsung hero award for doing the dail…

For men only

Ladies, are you still reading? You shouldn't be. Go away. Stop reading, please. Now. I mean it. This post is about something you can't possibly relate to--or at least I hope you can't! It's all about something unique to being a man. Something you couldn't possibly understand.

This is a post about beards.

Ok, so maybe it's not really about beards. But last night's household drama of the plastic guard on my electric trimmer breaking--so that I now have a bald patch on my chin--got me thinking about gender and parenting. When I arrived home from an emergency trip to the personal grooming aisle at Target, I presented my choice to Kelly only to get a blank stare. Now, I probably stood in that aisle for a good 20 minutes trying to select the best value and performance for the money. I examined the samples for craftsmanship and quality materials. I was quite proud.

Try to imagine it's yarn, I told her. Because really, she just didn't care. And that's f…