Sunday, March 30, 2008

Salad-brate good times . . .

I fear this is going to be a mighty boring post, but I will persist because back in February, I talked a big game about a new culinary endeavor: salad. I promised I was going to try new salads of all kinds plus experiment with making my own salad dressing. And, I shared my hope that switching from my soup project to a salad one would help spring to come more quickly. I'm posting for two reasons. First, to show that I have actually been acting on these salad goals as promised. Second, I am completely desperate for spring to really arrive. When this past Thursday in Chicago was cold and rainy, I felt depressed and annoyed. When it began snowing, I was just pissed off. I have tried to maintain a positive attitude all winter, have really made an effort not to complain about all the snow, and to appreciate sunny days even when it is freezing cold outside. But now, my cup is nearing empty. This endless winter needs to end and to end soon.

So here's my salad update.
1. Balsamic Buttermilk Salad Dressing: I had high hopes for this dressing and imagined a creamy, delicious dressing with some tang from the balsamic. It ended up just okay. I used it on several salads (my hubby declined) but mostly out of obligation. However, I think the problem is not with the recipe but with my execution and ingredient choice. It calls for Dijon mustard, and I used stone ground mustard instead (see what I mean about how boring this post is?) and, I fear, used too much. The mustard flavor was a bit overwhelming. The good news for anyone who wants to attempt this dressing on his/her own: it seems fairly healthy. There is no oil and only 1 tablespoon of light mayonnaise.

2. Dianne's Southwestern Cornbread Salad: My mom, PITA, and I are all fans and subscribers of Southern Living. I generally skim or skip the features on where to eat breakfast the next time I am in Biloxi or the arts scene in Lexington. I don't even pretend to read the gardening features as I have no green thumb and do not live in a Southern climate (see weather rant above). But I love reading the recipes and try a fair amount of them out. For Christmas, my mom got me two Southern Living cookbooks, and I found many salads in them that I am interested in trying. One was this cornbread salad. When the bub and I were in Ohio with my parents, I brought one of my cookbooks home and talked my mom, always game to try a new recipe, into giving the salad a whirl. I admit that she made the salad not me and that it was a labor of love, especially when she realized the buttermilk salad dressing it called for required a fair amount of mayonnaise (a condiment that she avoids whenever possible*). The end result had lots of "eye appeal" (a favorite phrase of my mom's) and was really delicious. We ate it again the next day and found that the lettuce had not gotten all wilty and soggy, despite the fact that the salad is layered. I would attempt it again, maybe for a potluck, were I ever invited to a potluck.

3. Birthday Party Salad: This is not the real name of the salad, but I served this salad at the bub's second birthday party (with my mom's help) and then my sister served it at my niece Swiper's** second birthday party last weekend. This recipe came from one of my mom's friends, and I'm not going to give you amounts, just a list of ingredients. I'm pretty sure you can figure it out. Basically the salad consists of lettuce (romaine or maybe butter--but you choose for yourself), little chunks of pear, little chunks of apple, cashews, swiss cheese, and dried cranberries. For the dressing, combine one part Newman's Oil and Vinegar Dressing and one part poppyseed dressing. The result is delightful.

That's all I have on the salad front for now. I hope you have not fallen asleep. Better yet, I hope you salad-brate good times in your own homes soon as I really need some springtime.

*Actually, all the members of my family (except me) are rather mayonnaise-averse. If you happen to go through a fast food drive-thru with one of them and order a sandwich without any special instructions, it is likely that someone will look at you with alarm and horror and then remind you urgently, "That comes with mayonnaise you know." NTB, but I'm a risky girl who sometimes eats mayonnaise on her sandwiches.

**I haven't cleared it with LAP, but I have decided from this point forward whenever I mention her daughters in a blog post, I am going to refer to them by the code names "Swiper" and "Fancy."

Friday, March 28, 2008

I Can’t Help Craving Useless Knowledge…

I’m no Cliff Claven. I don’t know details about a wide range of topics. I would do horribly on Jeopardy. I am certain I’d be too intense with the buzzer, I can’t think quickly on my feet, and moreover, I just don’t think I’d know many answers. So, what sort of knowledge is it that I crave then? Well, I suppose I have fallen victim to the world of reality TV. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’ve recently realized that I have a habit of crossing the line from casual viewer to innocent stalker.

Here are a few examples to help you follow:

1. I’ve recently stumbled upon the Discovery Health show Jon & Kate Plus 8. In a nutshell, they had some fertility issues and then gave birth to twins, followed four years later by sextuplets. I find it fascinating: potty training 6 toddlers, caring for 8 kids with the flu, cooking (all organic!) for 10 people three times a day, and of course watching the interaction of the very cute kids. I find 30 year old Jon to be an adorable and helpful dad and try to remember when Kate is sometimes mean to him that her life is stressful, and she herself admits in the show’s intro that “having two sets of multiples doesn’t always bring out the best in us.” I should also note that Kate is a good mom, and I appreciate how she is very focused on giving each child some individual attention. I DVR’d some episodes from a marathon of last season, wanting to know more of the back story. I watched but it wasn’t enough…I still had more questions. This is where the obsession comes in. I can’t just watch the show and let it go. I found myself on the web this morning, watching a video Q&A on how they met, reading their synopsis on each child’s personality, and then even reading Kate’s mothering tips. I found myself frustrated that the website didn’t have even more to share with me about the family.

2. Please try not to choke up vomit, but I’ve caught a few episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Kim Kardashian is a Paris Hilton friend with a big booty (and a sex tape), and she too is inexplicably “famous.” So, I’m quasi-watching this program, and I see Bruce Jenner in her house. Hmm, what’s this all about? I’m intrigued…how does he fit into this picture? I did some googling and came up with all kinds of tidbits. Apparently, the former Olympian is her stepfather. Bruce and Kim’s mom, Kris, have been married since 1991. They have two pre-teen daughters together plus Kris has 4 kids from her previous marriage to Robert Kardashian. I read on to find that Kris was Nicole Simpson’s best friend at the time of her death, and Kris’s ex-husband was one of OJ’s lawyers. Suddenly, I felt like I knew the family better. Still doesn’t really explain why Kim’s famous, but it was satisfying to learn some history.

3. Finally, I watched DWTS earlier this week and noticed a shot of Jason Taylor’s family. I know nothing about him, but his daughter looked absolutely adorable, so again I found myself at the computer, finding out how he met his wife (she’s the sister of one of his Dolphin’s teammates), learning the names of his three kids (Isaiah, Mason, and Zoe if I remember correctly), and then determining whether the info I found led me to believe he was a nice guy (it did.) What did I ever do before the internet?

I could share many more examples of the type of research displayed above, but these are a few of the pathetic examples about how I care too much about the lives of people I don’t know. I should qualify that I don’t necessarily “care” about their lives, as much as I just find myself wanting to know about them. Apparently I am not the only one as the top google searches each week are usually on people like those in my searches above. In my defense, I like to know everyone’s story, famous or not. I’m not after gossip, I just like knowing the history behind what got a person to their current spot in life.

As far as the info on the reality “stars,” I can’t help but wish I had a desire to instead seek knowledge on topics that would arm me with knowledge that might actually make me a more well-rounded person. I guess I’ll make that shift sometime, but meanwhile, if you need help with a trivia question on pop culture in the 21st century, give me a ring. I probably know more than I should.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

DWTS...The first ones to go...

DWTS is back in full swing. There were 12 new dancers who were each able to perform two dances before the first elimination. Last night, we unfortunately had to say good bye to both Monica Seles and Penn Jillette. To be honest, I wasn't entirely thrilled with the line-up, but I was pleasantly surprised. Here are my thoughts/comments/favorite moments so far on the season:
1. I think the judges are being a bit harsh for the first performances. Bruno was especially harsh and I think he could be slightly more positive with some of the struggling dancers.
2. Although we are without Maks for this season, Louis is back in full force and I am loving that.
3. Priscilla's face scares me a little.
4. Steve "The Gute" Gutenberg - need we say more.
5. Although, I am usually a fan of Harold Wheeler and the band, I haven't enjoyed the music. I especially thought the song selections this week were altogether wretched and difficult to dance to.
6. Maybe Marissa could take it down just a few notches...I love enthusiasm, but she kind of stresses me out with her energy level. I felt bad about Monica last night, but I was relieved because I wasn't sure Marissa would be able to recover.

Until next week...

Monday, March 24, 2008

Book Beat: Memoirs, Like the Corner of My Mind

Memoirs have gotten some bad press recently with the release and recall of Margaret B. Jones' Love and Consequences. Turns out that this tale of drugs and gangs was actually written by a valley girl with little experience of either. There was also last year's James Frey/Oprah controversy. This post is not intended to be an in-depth (or even semi-enlightened) discussion on the genre of the memoir. My feeling is if a book is mostly fictional, it ought to be published as a novel and not a memoir. Those who have considered this issue more carefully might be able to speak to what distinguishes a memoir from, say, an autobiography. Whatever the case, lies are lies. However, it does seem to me that there ought to be some degree of freedom in the genre of memoir, given how strange a phenomena memory actually is. I have clear "memories" of certain key events in my life, but I'm not sure that some of these "memories" I treasure would be accurate accounts of these events. I guess my point is, some stretching or misremembering of the truth (capturing the "spirit of the truth," let's say) seems inevitable in a memoir. Complete fabrication of events and circumstances seems inexcusable.

I have recently enjoyed a few memoirs, and I heartily endorse them with the caveat that I can't say for sure that every word in them is true! The best memoirs typically leave me feeling like, "Hey, you couldn't make this stuff up." Here they are . . .

1. Dry: A Memoir by Augusten Burroughs: Last year, my book club read Burroughs's Running With Scissors, but I skipped it. I don't know if it was the fact that the movie was out at the time or what, but I just didn't feel like reading it. No one in my club hated the book, but no one acted like I was missing much either. However, my friend and fellow book lover (and blogger) E really enjoys Burroughs's writing and, as I really trust her taste in books, I thought I would try a Burroughs book. I choose Dry: A Memoir, which is the story of Burroughs's journey through and out of alcoholism. I feel like I have a whole new understanding of what it might be like to struggle with addiction and alcoholism. Burroughs manages to tell his story with honesty (especially about his own denial of the problem) and, more impressively, with humor. I will try another of his books for sure.

2. Dark at the Roots: A Memoir by Sarah Thyre: I was completely delighted with and captivated by Thyre's memoir. She traces her childhood and teenage years in Louisiana with a intensely Catholic (and yet strangely, strangely quirky and at times surprisingly inattentive/lax) mom and asshole dad. She is not a "good girl," but she is a funny one. Her home life and childhood are often appalling, but the memoir is not really a hard luck-type tale. Some moments may be a bit much for some readers (but not hard-core shocking like a tale of sexual abuse or physical torture) but I appreciate her honesty throughout. The details are priceless. Cutting the alligator off an Izod shirt and reattaching it to other items of clothing as needed. A white car with red interior dubbed "the tampon." Sticking one's finger in an infected eye in an attempt to give one's self pink eye and miss school. Good stuff. This book has humor (lots of it and kind of dark) but also heart.

3. A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up Small in Mooreland Indiana by Haven Kimmel: My friend E also recommended Kimmel's memoir to me. I had avoided it for a couple of years in the way that I tend to avoid books that I see everywhere (it was a Today Show pick, and though I have no problem reading books that are "picks," I am a loyal Good Morning America girl). When I finally read it last spring (not so recent, but it made quite an impression), I was blown away. Kimmel's memoir of growing up in a really small town in Indiana was beautifully written. Her ability to capture her childhood perspective without polluting it with her adult understanding of these events is just amazing. If you only read one of the memoirs I've recommended in this post, read this one so that you can then read She Got Up Off the Couch: And Other Heroic Acts from Mooreland, Indiana, which is the continuation of Kimmel's (and her mother's) story that completely knocked my socks off. Her mother spent years of her life sitting on the couch reading novels, talking on the phone, and watching television and then got up, put herself through college with zero support from her husband, and became a high school English teacher. I am desperately hoping that Kimmel has another memoir in the works, as I would love to know what the next chapter in her family's life entailed.

Also, it seems worth noting that Kimmel is friends with Augusten Burroughs and gave a really positive blurb for Thyre's memoir. My life is too boring for a memoir, but were I to write one, I would want to be in the same corner with Burroughs, Thyre, and especially Kimmel.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bubdate: Phrases and Phases

I had a different topic in mind for this post that involved my recent trips to the Lane Public Library in Fairfield, OH (a bub-free work zone while I am visiting my parents) and my wonderment that so many people now use the library as a sort of home office (surfing the net, taking calls, eating lunch, conducting business, etc.), but I don't have the energy to decide what I think of the trend right now.

Why don't I have the energy? Because I have spent the past ninety minutes getting the bub to go to bed. Now, I shouldn't really complain about this because my mom has been good enough to undertake the task the rest of the nights we've been here. It's just frustrating because when we're home in Chicago, bedtime is typically my husband's job and usually takes around 30 minutes. But, away from home, with no 45 inch tall baby gate preventing the bub from escaping his bedroom, bedtime is far dicier. Instead of droning on about the details of the bedtime routine without the gate (yes, it involves some Supernanny techniques), I am going to focus on some of the cute things the bub is currently doing and saying.

1. "Better." The bub started out saying "better" as part of the boo boo healing process. He would identify a boo boo, bring it to our attention for a kiss, and then declare "better." Then, he adopted the habit of kissing his own boo boo's and declaring "better." It's pretty endearing. Last week at the park, he took a little spill, despite my nearness and vigilance, and his lip and nose were bleeding a bit. I was snuggling him, wiping him off, and giving some kisses, and he looked up at me, still bleeding, and said, "better." Recently, "better" also gets used beyond the realm of injury. He might, for example, unzip my fleece two inches, survey the result, and then say "better." Or, he might adjust the volume on the CD player while "Twinkle, Twinkle" is playing and pronounce it "better." The list goes on. Needless to say, it is cute. It is also helpful because now when we tell him something is "better," he generally believes it to be so.

2. "No, nothing." This is the bub's new response to the question, "Did you poop?" He says it in a tone that is part innocent and part annoyed. Pretty cute. NTB.

3. "1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 10." This is the newest and most accurate number line being quoted around here.

4. "My turn." Lest you think I am bragging about the bub's ability to take turns, let me point out that, for the bub, it is always "my turn."

5. "Coupon." Earlier this evening, Grammy, bubby, and I ventured out in the pouring rain (it's pretty much poured all day here) to buy some special food coloring at Michael's (on my mom's to do list--I don't bake anything that would be worthy of special food coloring). We also stopped in Old Navy where I bought some yoga pants that I am hoping will get me through until I can wear my maternity capri pants. (My struggles to find maternity pants that are comfortable and long enough really deserves its own post). Anyway, at Old Navy we also found a bunch of pairs of toddler socks for 49 cents and some really cute infant and toddler pajamas for $2.97. NTB, but Bub and Bub 2.0 will be rocking matching pajamas next St. Patrick's Day. Eat your hearts out. We were pleased with all the bargains and even more pleased when I remembered I had an Old Navy coupon. I need to add that my mom had also used a coupon at Michaels, and I know I asked her on the way there if she remembered to bring her coupon. Whatever the reason, the word "coupon" clearly made an impression on the bub. The whole time we were in line at Old Navy, he kept saying "coupon." Then, for the rest of the ride home (right before which, I might add, it started snowing--enough already), he randomly said "coupon" about once every 30 seconds. NTB readers who know my mom can understand how fitting it is that he learned this new word while in her company.

Okay, that's all I have. The bub still appears to be asleep, and I am thinking that this post and the ninety minute bedtime has earned me some Graeters. NTB.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Beware the Ides of March . . .

Actually, no impending doom here. The bub and I are in Fairfield, OH, kicking it with my parents for the week (the hubby will join us for the Easter weekend). Bubby is having a blast with Grammy and Pop. They have more energy for chasing and playing with him than I do (not because I am a lazy or inferior mom, my own mom assures me, but because they are not required to chase and play on a daily basis). He laps up all the attention. The goal for this week is to take advantage of the extra help to make a major dent in my research for the fifth (and FINAL) chapter of my dissertation. NTB, but I sent my fourth chapter off to my director on Monday and received word on Tuesday that the third chapter will only require about an afternoon's worth of revision before sending it to the rest of my committee! It is really exciting to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

One of the best things about being at my parents' house (besides all the food and the help with the bub) is the chance to be more connected to all my siblings as they call with updates and such. My youngest brother (The Intern) spent the past four days in Atlanta, competing in a national sales competition for college students. He was one of two students chosen from the University of Dayton to participate, NTB, and has been working closely with a professor since January to prepare. He did well, had a great experience, and was able to set up some interviews while there. He graduates in a couple of months, and I am so excited to see what's next for him. My sister LAP and I have a secret fear that when The Intern describes his family to people, he ends with something like, "Oh, and I have these two older sisters, they're like thirty-something with kids." Once he graduates from college, I fear I will be that much closer to being officially old.

My sister PITA also had a big weekend. NTB, but she completed her first half marathon this morning. She met up with some college friends in Virginia Beach to do the run. She claims to have had a couple of "moments" along the way, but she made it. Plus, I am quite impressed that she did it without having an accident. I have run one 5K race in my life (back in 1998) and peed my pants during mile 2 (of 3). I am really proud of the way she took on and trained for this challenge.

Also a great weekend around here with the NCAA Selection Show. We are pumped about Notre Dame's 5 seed and Xavier's 3 seed and even more pumped that they are not in the same region so that if their paths happen to cross in the tournament, it won't be for quite a while!

Finally, the Ides of March is my birthday. As of yesterday, I am another year older and no deeper in debt. I am thankful for the cards, emails, and texts from friends. I am delighted with the new maternity duds my mom chose for me (and the spending money my parents gave me). My hubby pulled through with a medium-duty document shredder that I've been wanting for a while, NTB, and authorization to buy myself a couple of treats while I'm here in OH. My brother Big Boy and his family hooked me up with a video monitor for Bub 2.0 (thanks to my bro's new job in the baby products industry). I am thankful for the birthday dinner and cake that my mom made for me, though I was really sorry that members of LAP & Co. were under the weather and could not make it (this was especially sad because my niece J had been conferring with Grammy for days about plans for Aunt Meppy's party and had been planning some "fancy"--a direct quote--decorations). The bub placed an entire pack of birthday candles on my cake and helped me blow them out. All in all, my life is good and I hope I am sufficiently grateful. 33? Who me?

Monday, March 10, 2008

No such thing as a "free lunch"

A couple weeks ago, I blogged on some recent reads and promised a more in-depth post on The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta. My thoughts on the novel require a prequel. Here goes:

Join me in the Fall of 1997. I am a couple months into my first big girl job as a high school English teacher. Although I had "always wanted to be a teacher," I was finding the first year pretty tough, as most rookies (who care) do. All the planning. All the insecurity. The reality of standing before 15 year-olds every day and trying to be instructive and engaging. All the papers to grade. Plus, no cable tv at the apartment I am sharing with my roommate, a medical student. Also, no central air and our unreasonable worry that the cost of turning on the apartment's window box unit would be prohibitive. It's October, and I've probably gained ten, maybe fifteen, pounds since college ended back in May. A couple of weeks ago, I've had my hair cut short and colored a dark brown that takes on reddish/purple tints in certain lights--neither the cut or the color is doing me any favors. I can still remember my mentor seeing my drastic change in hair style and asking, "Already?"

Now, all of the above is not to say that I was miserable. I was not miserable. I was struggling though. I had not achieved any work/life balance, and my work life was more stressful than rewarding at that early stage in my teaching career. So, one day around late October, one of my English teacher colleagues comes to me with an opportunity. Some guidance counselors and health teachers are going to a presentation and luncheon at the Marriott down the road. The district has a certain number of slots to fill and needs a couple of teachers to come along. What's it for? My friend is not sure, but assures me they will find me a substitute for the day and lunch is included. I am nervous about leaving my students for the day, but I know that I need a little space and, well, if the district "needs" to fill some seats at the luncheon table, sign me up. I like lunch.

The event at the Marriott was a presentation on the new abstinence-based sex education curriculum my district was adopting. I was fine listening to the philosophy behind the curriculum. I didn't mind viewing the slides that showed what STDs can look like. And, since I was neither a guidance counselor or a health teacher, this shift in curriculum was not going to have much of an impact on my daily teaching. I admit as well that I didn't have any sort of critical perspective on the district's choice of an abstinence-based curriculum. You tell me condoms don't protect against HPV? Okay then, I guess abstinence is the answer. What's for lunch?

That lunch wasn't free though. There was a woman with frosted (not highlighted) blonde hair that was pulled up in an elaborate bun. She had a Southern Accent and wore slightly garish lipstick. I can't remember how she was related to the abstinence scene. I can remember what she wanted from me and from my friend--the naive young teachers who thought they were enjoying free lunch and a day away from school. She wanted moderators for "The Abstinence Club." She was so thrilled to meet us, so glad we were going to head up the "after school club" (she kept using that phrase), and so sure we were going to be great examples for our students. We still don't know how it happened or who signed us up.

Now, for the record, my friend and I were great examples for our students in the sense that each of us was abstinent and always had been. I certainly was not embarrassed to be. At the same time, I didn't feel any particular need to advertise. Did I think it was a good idea for high school students to have sex? Not really, considering the physical and emotional (seriously, there is so much real turmoil and drama anyway) risks. But again, abstinence was not a mission or pet cause of mine. I had no interest in preaching on the subject or on becoming the poster child for just saying no.

But my friend and I did not know how to fend off Ms. Elaborate Bun. Honestly, I can't really remember how it all went. I know there were t-shirts, but I can't remember what they said and had no part in their design. (I think mine is upstairs in a bin. I had the fleeting thought that I might put it on--24 weeks pregnant--and post the photo, except that I don't really mean to mock the cause.) It's possible that there were some meetings, but I can't really remember any meetings. Plus, what would we have done at the meetings of the "after school club"--sat around and talked about reasons to be abstinent, reviewed more STD slides, simulated teenage parenthood by carrying eggs around . . . I don't know. It's likely that thriving abstinence clubs do exist, and again, I don't want to disparage or mock them. I imagine, however, that they are led by people who have a sense of mission and enthusiasm instead of by individuals who mistakenly thought they were getting a free lunch. The club never really gained momentum and if I failed the students of MHS in that regard, I am truly sorry. I had enough on my plate at the time though, and I would have gladly refunded the district the $18.95 plus tax and gratuity they likely paid the Marriott banquet people.

So, all of this leads me to The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta, which tells the story of a high school sex education teacher who gets caught in the crossfire when her district switches to an abstinence-based curriculum with which she is not comfortable. Woven with Ruth's story is that of recovering-addict-born-again-Christian who coaches her daughter's soccer team. Tom Perrotta gets so many details of suburban life and high school teaching right. So many moments ring true. I just really enjoy his writing. Plus, the novel made me think about abstinence curriculums more critically than I had back in 1997. I don't mean this post to offer any kind of political statement on the topic. That's not our bag here at NTB. I do think that the book gives people plenty to think and talk about in terms of recent social and cultural trends though; it would be an ideal book for a book club discussion. So, if you've read it, and I do recommend it, please tell me what you thought.

What about you? Any expensive free lunches?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

That Itch that Bravo Scratches

This will be brief because I need to hit the hay. This evening's activities have included the following:

1. Watching the Project Runway finale . . . being, as ever, entranced by Heidi Klum's hair, accent, and overall beauty . . . pondering if "fierce" has now become a bit overdone but yet wishing for more opportunities to use the word in my daily life . . . marveling at Victoria Beckham's ability to not smile in so many situations in which most would smile (i.e.--crowds of people clapping for you and/or taking your picture) . . . wondering still from last week's episode if Tim Gunn really drives a Saturn . . . wondering what that Jeffrey winner from last year has been up to and still thinking about how I didn't like him.

2. Confirming with my DVR that Top Chef Chicago will start recording next Wednesday . . . What will Padma wear? Will any of the challenges involve Chicago locations or restaurants with which I am familiar? Will I regret not taking the opportunity earlier this fall to skulk around the nearby Whole Foods where the cheftestants did their shopping for many of the challenges? Surely one of the challenges will involve pizza . . . but will there be a hot dog challenge?

3. Watching last night's episode of The Real Housewives of New York City . . . I'll give it time, but so far these women are making me miss Jeana, Vicki, and company. The NYC housewives seem a bit hard-edged so far, and the thought of living life on the charity event and Hamptons party circuit just makes me feel sad, tired, and depressed . . . not to mention fat.

Still, the reality programs of Bravo are a cut above, and I am thankful for them. What about you: do you say Bravo to Bravo?

Monday, March 3, 2008

Melting Snow, Melting Heart

First off, accept my apologies for the sappy title. Though this past weekend in Chicago was gray, it was also warmish. By Sunday, the accumulated results of 14 days of measurable snow in Chicago had finally begun melting. By and large, the weekend's meteorological changes took place without my supervision, holed up, as I was, with my laptop, notes, and trusted candy cane pen. The hubby has been a prince about taking on extended periods of bubduty on the weekends so that I can make progress on my dissertation (I am pleased to announce, by the way, that I completed my draft of chapter four this afternoon--should be revised, streamlined, and off to my director by the end of the week, NTB).

It melts my heart, of course, to see father and son enjoying their time together. They sha poo snow. They have lunch at sports bars while they watch Irish basketball. They cultivate the bub's tackling technique. And finally, this weekend, they were able to walk to the park. Thanks to February's weather, Chicago's roads are riddled with potholes and the sidewalks are a patchwork of puddles. There's not much my bub loves more than a good puddle, which helps to explain the heart-melting scene I witnessed from my front window yesterday afternoon while taking a writing break.

I peered outside and saw the bubby, in red coat and quack quack hat, smiling from ear to ear and holding hands with another boy his same size who was also wearing a red coat. My hubby and the other toddler's father followed closely behind.* The bub led his new friend to the huge, lake-like puddle in front of our house and showed him what to do: jump, jump, jump, giggle, and smile. By the time the bub came inside, his jeans were soaked and he had splashed enough to completely saturate his socks through his boots. But he was smiling. So was his dad. So was I. NTB.

*Good news . . . the bub has a new neighbor his age, actually three whole days older than him, just four houses away. And, for the record, the hubby tells me bub initiated the hand holding. How cute! NTB.
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