Thursday, April 22, 2010

My Minivan



"When I go biking, I repeat a mantra of the day's sensations: bright sun, blue sky, warm breeze, blue jay's call, ice melting and so on. This helps me transcend the traffic, ignore the clamorings of work, leave all the mind theaters behind and focus on nature instead. I still must abide by the rules of the road, of biking, of gravity. But I am mentally far away from civilization. The world is breaking someone else's heart." ~Diane Ackerman

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What the Health Care Reform Bill Means For Families

What the Health Care Reform Bill Means For Families

Mikki Halpin

Today, President Barack Obama will sign a landmark healthcare reform bill into law. It's a historic piece of legislation that only made it to his desk after months of debate, millions of blog posts, and a lot of political maneuvering. (Don't expect the maneuvering to end any time soon.) After the bill passed the House on Sunday, the president hailed it as a moral victory and a credit to the American character, saying, "We didn't give in to mistrust or to cynicism or to fear. Instead, we proved that we are still a people capable of doing big things." Of course, once the celebration is over, real life reasserts itself, and you're probably wondering exactly what the passage of House Resolution 4872, the Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010, means for you and your family. Here's a rundown of the 10 portions of the bill most likely to affect parents and children.

1. 32 million previously uninsured people will have access to affordable coverage
"This is huge," says Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director and co-founder of Moms Rising, a grassroots group that works for legislative and cultural changes that benefit families. "A lot of those 32 million are moms and kids who are basically outside of the healthcare system right now."

2. Preventative care costs will be greatly reduced or eliminated
Insurance companies will be required to cover mammograms and other types of preventive care such as pregnancy and post-partum depression screenings; co-pays for these services will be eliminated under Medicare.

3. Coverage is ensured for those who move in and out of the workforce — like parents
If you or your partner elects to stay home with your children for a few years, you won't fall through the cracks of insurance coverage because you don't have a job. The state insurance exchange programs will provide coverage options for those who lose their jobs, quit, decide to start a small business, or become full-time parents. If you can't find a plan that costs less than 8% of your income, you will be eligible for a catastrophic plan otherwise intended for those under 30.

4. Insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage because of a preexisting condition
"Denial of coverage is rampant," says Finkelstein-Rowe. "And insurance companies have abused this power." For children under 19, the protection will go into effect six months from the bill's passage, along with the creation of a plan for so-called "high risk" individuals with pre-existing conditions who have previously been denied coverage. In 2014 when the regional insurance exchanges (government-organized marketplaces) are set up, both children and adults with pre-existing conditions will be able to purchase plans through their local exchange.

5. Insurance companies will no longer be able to drop those who become sick
Last year, for example, more than 6000 Californians were subject to rescission, or having their policies cancelled, when they became ill. The bill outlaws this practice nationwide.

6. Funding for education and services to support mothers and infants
Community groups and clinics can apply for grants to support education and services for new moms and their children. "Studies have shown a huge positive impact for home visitation programs," says Rowe-Finkbeiner. "It can boost learning, lesson the risk of post-partum depression, and help women in so many ways."

7. No limits on coverage
Insurance companies will no longer be able to put annual or lifetime limits on coverage, a practice that often sent families into bankruptcy when their coverage ran out and they were faced with huge medical bills on top of a devastating illness.

8. Dependent children can remain on their family's policy until the age of 26
College students and those just joining the workforce are historically underinsured — nearly a third of them aren't insured at all. If your daughter's entry-level job doesn't offer a plan, she can stay on yours a little longer.

9. Expansion of SCHIP and Medicaid
SCHIP, the State Children's Health Insurance Program that provides coverage for more than 7 million children whose families do not qualify for Medicaid but still cannot afford insurance, is protected and funded completely under this bill. (It was previously scheduled to run out in 2013.) And access to Medicaid is expanded to cover more families — anyone with an income below 133% of the poverty level will be eligible.

10. Tax credits for lower-income and low-income families
Families of four with income of less than $88,000 can get tax credits to help pay insurance premiums and deductibles. These subsidies will be available on a sliding scale, such that you will only pay 3%-9.5% of your income for insurance.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Soapbox



The United States is the only industrialized nation that does not have a universal health care system. Health care is not something that should be allowed to be affected by capitalism. It should not be a business; no one should be making profits off of health care. It should be a basic human right, just like education. Look at what private schools have done to our public education system. Public schools are seriously lacking the funding and resources they need to do their job, if everyone sent their children to public schools, and invested their resources in them, they would be able to offer an exceptional education for everyone. Privatized education is really only a paid for version of separate but equal, but only nothing is even close to being equal; our privatized health care system is nothing different. Just like a good education should never be for sale, health care should never be for sale, or something only the wealthy can afford. Everyone needs and deserves healthcare; no one should ever go broke because they get cancer or lose their home because they can not pay for their medical bills. In our capitalist society, it is impossible for everyone to have a job, there are just not enough jobs to go around; it is impossible for everyone to have a full-time job, or a job paying $100,000 a year. It just does not work for everyone, it is an impossibility for everyone to achieve “the American dream” (it’s a called a dream for a reason right, it’s not “the American reality”, or even “the American possibility”). The few people who are fortunate enough to have a full time job, or work for a company that actually provides health care are very lucky, but they are not the majority. We would never allow an education system to be set up the way our current health care system is. I have never found anyone who thinks that either are not basic human rights or not equally important. Yet there are people out there fighting to keep our current health care system that does not work, I don’t understand how people can be so afraid of providing health care for everyone. Everyone knows someone who has been laid off, or is a student or is self employed or works for a company that does not offer health insurance. Everyone knows someone who does not have health insurance. How could everyone not want their friends and family to be able to go to the doctor if they get sick? Of course taxes will be higher; but if you have health insurance, you already have money taken out of your paycheck to pay for it, you already have to pay high premiums, and you already pay taxes for medicade and medicare. If health care is universal, you are only paying for it once, out of your taxes, and you never have to worry about going to a doctor if you get sick and paying a premium for a surgery that you can’t really afford, but need because it could save your life. Right now, if you are a tourist in France, and you fall and break your leg, you can go to a hospital and have it taken care of, and you don’t have to worry whether or not you can afford it; your leg is broken, you shouldn’t have to worry, you should be able to get it fixed. That is amazing; every country should be so concerned about the well being of all people. Our taxes right now are used for mass destruction and the killing of other human beings for absolutely no reason, and we can’t allow people to go to the doctor if they are sick? It is shameful. I am so tired of the fear mongering going on right now over the health care debate. These “tea parties” look more like KKK rallies, and people have lost all rationality over this. No one in this country is suffering taxation without representation; no one is going to be killed off if there is universal health care. People should really be ashamed of them selves for acting like this, it is disgusting to see. Everyone who has a job pays taxes, we don’t get to dictate where they are spent, but an ethical community takes care of its citizens, all of them, equally. Our taxes need to go to universal health care, it is a basic human right and we should be ashamed of ourselves for taking this long to provide it, and for being so irrational over it. I don’t understand other human beings that live in this world amongst other human beings and have no concern for the welfare for their neighbors. If you don’t want your government to provide your healthcare, than you have an option to opt out of society; you do have an option to not pay taxes, yet you also to choose to not be able to vote or ever receive any sort of socialized service our government already provides. We all make up this society, we are all a part of our whole, and we should all want basic human rights to be provided for the greater good of our society, for the greater good of the whole. There really shouldn’t be a debate here, it is time to be rational, think clearly, and be human. We have to stop fighting each other, and allowing capitalism to stop us from being rational, ethical human beings. We all will need help in some form or another at one point in our lives, we all will go through some sort of difficulty, why do we want to keep holding people down and denying them their most basic of human needs? Let everyone have health care, let’s be decent for once and show the world that the United States values humans above profits just this once.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Two in blue!



Oliver, 2 years old, on a bike with a backpack in jammers. Life is good!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

If I were a book...




You're Alice's Adventures in Wonderland!

by Lewis Carroll

After stumbling down the wrong turn in life, you've had your mind
opened to a number of strange and curious things. As life grows curiouser and curiouser,
you have to ask yourself what's real and what's the picture of illusion. Little is coming
to your aid in discerning fantasy from fact, but the line between them is so blurry that
it's starting not to matter. Be careful around rabbit holes and those who smile to much,
and just avoid hat shops altogether.



Take the Book Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Only boys who save their pennies make my rainy day



From Gawker:
Recessionomics
This Year's Buy Nothing Day Will Be Most Popular Ever!
Are you ready to sit at home eating leftovers and viewing the internet? The Friday after Thanksgiving is Buy Nothing Day! It's the day when lefties around the world celebrate being broke by abstaining from capitalism for a day and feeling superior, while the rich run wild on pre-Christmas sales. It's a nice thought and many of you would probably theoretically support it, but, you know... sales. This year, however, the anarchist types have an extra incentive: nobody has any money to spend anyhow! From the Adbusters press release:

“If you dig a little past the surface you’ll see that this financial meltdown is not about liquidity, toxic derivatives or unregulated markets, it’s really about culture,” says the co-founder of Adbusters Media Foundation, Kalle Lasn. “It’s our culture of excess and meaningless consumption — the glorified spending and borrowing of the past decade that’s at the root of the crisis we now find ourselves in.”

This economic meltdown is absolutely perfect for Adbusters, PR-wise. So if you haven't bought anything today, don't start! If you've bought something already, forget it, you're a useless and shameful capitalist. In six months none of us will be able to buy anything even if we want to. So enjoy having the option!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

What ever happened to coq a vin?

finger lickin’ good

It takes about 30 minutes to watch this series of videos, but I think it is well worth the time. I am so glad that Jamie Oliver hosted this dinner, and that he is using his celebrity powers for good. I don’t really know how to get people to think about where that 99 cent value meal chicken sandwich came from or why meat would ever be that cheap or how, in this economy, to get people to want to pay the proper value for food, and buy food that has been treated ethically. Farmers are continually pushed beyond their capacity and forced into these practices so that they can make a small profit; but there is no food shortage in this world and at some point they, we, have to say enough is enough. At what point do we stand up to free market trade and capitalism and say this is too excessive, we don’t need this much chicken or meat, not at this cost, not with these practices? Isn't there an ethical duty to be honest about how supply can not meet our demand, that we have become too greedy, too gluttonous about how cheaply we want to eat? I think there is a real price being paid for the average consumers behavior, and somehow this has to change. Maybe if more people become aware of how their food is actually produced, of what actually happens, they will want to change their consumption practices. Maybe it means more dinners of beans and rice and a lot less drive through dinners for average families. I know times are hard, but should chicken really cost less than dog food?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I want to hear somebody bark



The McCuerda's adopted a dog this weekend from Chicago Animal Care & Control. His name is Dobie, like Gillis, that is how he came, and what he answers to, so I guess Dobie it will be. He is 2 years old and a complete beautiful, sweet mutt. As long as we have have had him he has been such a good dog, no chewing or pooping in the house, no aggression towards anyone or other dogs, no crazy behavior; he knows sit, down, stay. He LOVES Oliver and us, Oliver LOVES him, and so do we! I can't believe how sweet he is, he is such a good dog, and our evil kitty really could care less, he wants to be her friend and he could facilitate this by not always eating her food.
He has been to the dog beach, puptown (the local dog park), and for good long walks around the neighborhood. You can tell he is just so happy to have a home with a family, and we are just so happy to have him. Here is too a healthy, happy dog, who we hope remains chew & house poop free!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

-3 for Chicago

The Chicago Air & Water show has just started. Massive military jets are zooming through the city. It is totally obnoxious, loud and wasteful. The jets are setting off car alarms, waking sleeping babies, and torturing residents who once lived in war torn countries.Ugh, this is going to be a long weekend.

The world was moving and she was right there with it.



Life with a toddler is more of a whirlwind than I ever thought possible. Every day seems to flash by in a haze of many, many books read, strawberries eaten, trips to the park, and piles of folded laundry thrown haphazardly about the house while I follow close behind trying to make sure that he does not kill himself today. There are moments when I long for that 5 month old baby that I can tuck sweetly into his sling and walk to a cafĂ© to browse a magazine or work quietly. Those days are forever gone at least he gets into late middle school and starts to prefer his friends over his parents, and then I will be able to read during the middle of the day again. I feel like all of our interaction, reading and talking are manifesting in Oliver in these fantastic ways. He knows so much about the world and what he see’s, even if he can’t communicate it; if you ask him where the pigeons are, or the garbage truck, or the stop sign, he knows, he can point it all out. It is so fantastic to see this little brain make all of these connections. He loves to dance, and knows what records are, that I love, he doesn’t really know about cd’s, but he knows records! What kills me is that if you ask him “Where is Sasha” he points right to him, and then ask him “where is daddy” and he points to him, he knows that his dad has a name; but not me, he has no clue who Stephanie is, only mama. That is a little weird to me, like I have no personality other than mama.

Being back in the city is so nice. We have this great apartment with a great little back yard near the beach. We have our CSA pick up a couple of blocks a way, free access to the museums, amazing food, a fantastic little pub down the street and playlots everywhere, a great organization called the Inspiration Corporation, that we are both trying to get involved with. There are some things I miss about Champaign, mainly I miss my friends and their wonderful little families and being able to walk down to the park and see them, or have them over to play in the yard. Chicago would be perfect if I could move them here, and bring the Urbana library with them. Chicago just doesn’t invest in its local library branches the way it should, they are a bit pathetic really. I also miss getting bulk items at the co-op in Champaign; I find it so hard to believe that I can’t refill my shampoo, maple syrup, or anything other than typical bulk foods, and I have been looking everywhere, where have the crunchy hippies gone? There is a farmer’s market somewhere in the city everyday, but we never run into anyone we know, which we miss, and we don’t know the farmers yet. Those things will happen over time. The excessive materialism in the baby product and children’s clothing worlds doesn’t really exist in Champaign either. $1000 strollers’ are the norm here, so are $200 jeans for 6 year old girls. There are some parks where it is outrageous to actually let your kids get dirty; other moms actually gape shockingly at you if you let your child play in the sand box! I know that I have had my mothering skills judged solely based on the cheap umbrella stroller we were out walking in, and it is bizarre really. So I have found parks in neighborhoods where there are some very cool moms, who let their kids get dirty, throw balls, and play with each others toys, and who don’t seem to be judging each other too hard, these are the parks we go to almost everyday. Slowly but surely I am making a few mom friends here, but I still long for my well established ones. The best thing about being back in the city is being able to be car free with so many options for getting around and biking all over. Oliver LOVES bikes, he loves to ride and loves to see so many bikes out and about. I love it, I love that he does not get so excited about cars, garbage trucks and buses make him scream with delight, but cars…not so much.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

One is fun!



Here is Oliver on his first birthday, eating his first cupcake!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Cupcakes




The long awaited cupcake shop has finally opened in downtown Champaign. It is a nice space with good light, the cupcakes are very cute; but sadly they are just not good. We stopped in twice this weekend and tried the chocolate, salted caramel, and balsamic strawberry. They were all so dry; they just crumbled upon being unwrapped. The chocolate cake was lacking a good chocolate flavor and was almost too dry to eat, the salted caramel was really just awful, the icing had an artificial metallic flavor and completely lacked the buttery flavor that comes from a salted caramel; the balsamic strawberry, while the best tasting cake, was still very dry and the balsamic drizzled on top served almost no purpose as the strawberry flavor was too subtle for any benefit the balsamic might have lended it. If you get your cakes to go, they are tossed in a bag, where they crumble more and the icing, by far the best part of the cake, can’t hold up in the bag. They have boxes, but you have to buy them for a buck, which is outrageous to me, as I have been to good cupcake shops, where there is no seating, but you can get an amazing cake for less and it always comes in a box to properly protect it. I feel very strongly that if you are going to make the decision to open a cupcake shop you should make an amazing cake. While these cakes are cute, they are just not amazing. Perhaps the shop will last because the space is really nice, the cakes, cute, which may make them tolerable, and it seems to be what people want in this town despite how good they are. The hours are spotty right now and the menu is unpredictable. They want to serve some sandwiches and maybe cereal, but they just can’t seem to figure it out and are prone to take down the menu if they don’t feel like making their sandwiches. Being on the very tail end of a trend is nothing new for Champaign, and neither is having the trend not delivered properly; it is disappointing. Perhaps they will work on the quality of the cake and really try to deliver something worthy of its own shop and give Champaign a cupcake worth stopping in for. If not, a trip to the city can always include a stop at a worthy cupcake shop.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

11 months




Holy crap is this going by too fast.

Friday, April 25, 2008

To see or not to see

This week I went to Illini Eyecare to update my prescription and get new lenses put in my lovely Oliver Peoples frames. The exam went all right, but picking up my new glasses suddenly became a disaster when I was having them fitted. When I initially tried on my frames they just needed a slight adjustment, I had these frames from my previous prescription so they really just needed to be a bit tighter. The technician took them back to make the adjustment and when she brought them back they were completely out of whack, so much so that I don’t know how she could have possibly made them so twisted, but she took them back to try again and a slight twinge of panic started to sweep over me. I hate to sound so materialistic, but these frames were really great, and really expensive, which is why I was holding on to them. I have 2 pairs of glasses that I love, the black ones I currently wear and my Oliver Peoples, and I rotate between them instead of getting new frames every time I need new glasses; they are both expensive frames and I spent a lot of time seeking them out as they are something I wear everyday. The technician came back with my even more distorted frames, took them to another technician who continued to twist them and misshape them until he brought them up front showed them to the initial technician, they shook their heads, and he brought them to me saying “the thing about plastic is…” They were totally broken. They completely broke my glasses, my $250 Oliver Peoples frames that I loved. I was prepared to stay calm; surely they could fix this or do something to rectify the situation. No… they did nothing. They did not acknowledge they broke my glasses, they did not apologize, they did not offer to rectify the situation in any way, in fact, after they handed my twisted glasses back to me, the walked away and ignored me, just hoping I would leave and forget the whole thing. I had to demand that they refund the cost of the lenses, which they had to go have a secret talk about, causing me to become more and more angry with them. They informed me that a refund on the lenses would be all they could do for me, to which I replied “I seriously doubt it, you broke my frames, you could apologize and offer to fix the situation.” I wasn’t yelling exactly, but I wasn’t being very calm either. I am so angry about the whole situation. I am so angry that they broke my glasses. I am so angry that they did not acknowledge this or even apologize, and I am so angry that they did nothing to rectify the mistake. I just don’t know what to do, but I feel very strongly that they should offer me frames of a similar value, or offer to pay for another pair of Oliver Peoples (which they don’t carry), or offer to refund the cost of the frames to me. They need to do something to rectify this situation; I just don’t know how to get them to do that. I am always just such a pushover when people screw me over, I never do anything. But this is just wrong, and I am so mad, and I never spend money on anything, because it is just stuff, but these were my glasses, what I need to see, everyday. Glasses matter to me, I guess just not to them. So what do I do? Do I sue them? Stage a sit in? Protest? Yell at them everyday? Hangout with dark glasses and a cane? How do I get them to rectify their mistake?

I hate being this angry, it is no good.

Friday, April 18, 2008

I feel the earth move

Oliver woke up about 4:15 this morning, wet, and upset about being wet. We went into his room to get him out of his wet clothes, get some dry clothes and then we crawled back into bed to get him dressed when an earthquake happened. I knew immediately what was going on, Ollie looked a little surprised that the bed was shaking and I smiled at him and said “it’s an earthquake peanut, it's okay”. The house felt like something was outside shaking it a bit, the curtains rattled and the noise sounded like a really strong wind was blowing, though the whole thing lasted for no more than 45 seconds. I thought that maybe the pictures would fall off of the wall, but it ended pretty quickly and we fell back asleep. It didn’t really scare me, but I realized how scary a more intense earthquake could be. Growing up in the mid-west, I have always been aware of the fault lineunderneath us, and have experienced two other earthquakes, but they were very small, almost unnoticeable. I don’t really know what to do, other than go under a door frame, if a bigger earthquake hits so I think I should prepare us a bit better because it is certain to happen again and be more intense. The thing that seems scary about earthquakes is that they are so unpredictable; the big ones tend to happen within a window of every 300-500 years, which is pretty hard to plan for! I am very relived though that this one did not cause any serious damage or injuries, but I am sure that it did give a lot of people quite a scare!

Here is some good information about the earthquake.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Life is skittles and life is beer

Spring is here, a-suh-puh-ring is here. We had the best weekend ever! It was warm and sunny, breezy and sprouting. Life was filled with picnicking on the quad, bike riding, music listening, brunch partying, park walking, custard eating, bunny chasing and beer drinking. What could be better? Ollie got to eat some dirt and get grass in his toes, I got to read 2 whole sections from the Sunday’s Times, and Sasha got his wheel re-spoked for his “vintage” Schwinn. We have some new music to explore and some new books to read, and big adventures to come. Spring finally got its lazy arse here, woo hoo!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast it is not

Hey Champaign. Why are you not filling the tables for Sunday brunch at Cafe Luna? You are missing one of the greatest meals ever in this town. Seriously. Don't make me have to tell you twice. Go. Now? Sure, the tapas are damn good. But the brunch people, the brunch. Oy Vey.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Good times.


Did you say we were heading out for some peat moss?


Get out, that is so rad


I love peat moss!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Big ol’ can of worms

The other day I was driving past 2 fast food chains side by side. The drive thru lanes were so backed up, they were causing an insane traffic jam, so I had time to pay too much attention to the people in these dive thru lanes and think too much about their behavior. The overwhelming majority of the people in the dive thru’s were mothers, in mini vans with 2-3 kids in tow, and they were all very noticeably overweight. It just made me feel sad. I felt really sad for their kids, who maybe don’t want to be overweight and so unhealthy but don’t really have a choice over their bodies because they are too young to stand up for themselves. Yet this pattern is starting which will most likely dictate their food choices and lifestyle for the rest of their lives, and it is a pattern that will most likely lend itself to a life of obesity, inactivity and major health problems. A child’s behavior, eating habits are totally molded by their families behavior, so what do you do when a families eating habits are detrimental for the child. Clearly this is detrimental, right? How do you break the cycle, and try to give these kids a chance at being healthy and not being obese? Can these parents be held accountable for their actions, should they? I guess I see this as a form of child abuse, which may not be a popular view in our society, but I can’t help but think that there should be some form of intervention on behalf of their children. People who have no autonomy of their bodies should be allowed to have the person in control of those bodies make sound decisions on their behalf, and if they are incapable of doing so, then there should be some way to intervene. This has really been bothering me, in the same way it bothers me when I see someone smoking in a car with the windows rolled up and children in the back. Ugh, I am just so unsettled by the way these things make me feel.

Friday, March 14, 2008

She’s Alive!



I am finally feeling totally better, just in time to pack up and head up north for Spring Break ’08, only there will be no kegs off of hotel balconies this year (not that there were last year either), no, not for the grown ups. It took me over a week to get over this flu/cold/SARS/ebola, which is just crazy for me. I am normally and get in and get out kind of sick girl, I have never been really sick with a fever, the whole nine yards, for much more than 24 hours before, but then again I haven’t really been around germs so much while also being so sleep deprived. I blame this bout on the germy little heathens at the library baby lap times. Oh those “innocent” little babies are secretly plotting, Children of the Corn style, to knock us off one flu at a time. The scenario plays out something like this: the box of toys busts out and the little boogers make a bee line for their weapon of choice, they drool, chew, and slobber all over the lot, pass them around ensuring maximum coverage of their death juice, and then oh so sweetly, oh so coy they make their move…little Taylor holds out her sweet little hand to give you the ball she has been sucking on for the past ten minutes, thrusts it in your face while cooing and smiling so big at you, you take it and say thank you, thank you for sharing sweet baby, and just like that the SARS bomb has been dropped on you. The library is their war zone and they will take you down with their brand of gorilla, biological warfare, and you won’t even know what happened. The babies are staging a coup, along with the grey hairs in my head, and it is not pretty. I am on to their game now, though I have no clue how to engage in a counter attack or even a defense plan, but I’ll come up with something. There is no way I can continue to let something that runs around like a drunken drooling monkey babbling in sweet incoherent gibberish take me down like a sumo wrestler again, oh no, I will be on my A game next time.

Spring Break! Let’s go Minnesota. You little public library heathens be warned, we will be back, and then its go time.

Friday, March 07, 2008

You can run, but you can’t hide.



The wicked flu that has been sweeping through the nation has finally settled into my body. I thought I was going to be able to escaped its wrath, as Sasha had it about 3 weeks ago, along with everyone we know, and I had remained unscathed. But yesterday I woke up feeling like I had tuberculosis and ebola, my temperature was about 450 and the thought of moving seemed unfathomable. Sasha took the peanut with him to campus after making me tea and giving me some tylenol. After sleeping for most of the day, I took a bath and slowly started moving around and trying to make myself feel a little better. I don’t think I have ever felt this bad from a flu before, it is almost ridiculous how bad I feel! I am really working on the whole mind over matter thing and convinced that I can think myself better, I think it is working, along with loads of pain relievers, I was able to get Ollie out of the house today for some play time at the library, so he is having a good time while my organs are melting. Annie get your SARS mask out, the human beings are attacking with their biological warfare!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

You've got style, that's what all the girls say




I am not big on getting Oliver loads of toys, as he really likes to play with the Ikea coasters and measuring cups over any of the fairly expensive (yet incredibly cute and hard to resist) Haba toys that I have bought him; but...I really want to get him something like a Dapper Dan doll, if those still exist anymore. Ollie loves to play with zippers, buttons, buckles, pockets…he loves to watch and to try to make things work and move, exploring all of the ways he can maneuver something. He has these really good developing fine motor skills that totally amaze me. When I was little I really liked to play with my Dapper Dan doll, and I think the little man would really like one too, but nothing like that seems to exist. I also really want to know how to sew, because I have this fantastic pillow in my head with a couple of big chunky zippers sewn on it, as well as some toggles, buckles, buttons to button and a couple of pockets with flaps to open. I think it would be the greatest baby toy ever, things to make work and also cuddly and gender neutral. I just wish it existed or I could make it. My being way more into the Dead Milkman than Home Economics freshman year is totally coming back to haunt me.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Overheard on campus today

Sorority girl walking and talking on cell: “So, I am going to pick up like 2 cases. Do you think that will be enough? It’s like 6 beers each… should I get more?”

Mmmmmm, sweet sweet cirrhosis.

Friday, February 22, 2008

9 is fine



Oliver is 9 months old today. It is amazing that I have known him out of my body for as long as I knew him inside. He is such an amazing baby, so loving,funny and clever, such a good problem solver. I am so glad that he is in my life, he truly does make the world a better place.


video

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I’m not the kind of girl who gives up just like that

But apparently Champaign is the kind of city that does. Why is it that a town in the Midwest would let a little bit of snow make driving and biking almost impossible? Why would any Midwestern city not plow? The Midwest certainly has a pretty good history of snowing in the winter, it’s not like it is a surprise. I’m having a hard time figuring out just what the city government does here; it doesn’t plow, it doesn’t do trash removal, it doesn’t repair its sidewalks or streets, it doesn’t make sure streets are properly lit. I sure hope the city taxes are being used for something, hopefully education. There is less than 2 inches of snow on the roads, but they are totally dangerous to drive and walk on. If an accident occurs because of the city's complete refusal to plow, I think they should hold the city responsible. I am going to have to come up with some things I like about living here to compensate for all of my complaining. Listening to The Ramone’s while Ollie eats a banana and waves to me, laughing is a great thing, though not really related to Champaign.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

May, she will stay




This winter seems like it has lasted a lifetime. I feel like I have been blanketed in grey and through osmosis the weather is seeping into my head. I just want to sleep, but motherhood won’t let me. I just want to lie on the couch and watch movies, but the dishwasher and the laundry won’t shut up. My feet keep harassing me to put on some flip flops already, but the snow won’t stop. My arms desperately want to feel warm air on them. Come on spring; get your lazy ass moving.

Friday, February 15, 2008

So, uh, no funny business



I just feel so relived that there is no dialogue taking place about the need for gun control. As very scary sad things never happen when humans are in possession of firearms designed to kill other humans, it seems very relevant to not open any discussion about allowing the human population to openly walk around with guns. There really is no gross misinterpretation of the 2nd amendment, no need to control the influence on lobbyist organizations, who clearly have our best interests in mind, and no need for our benevolent leaders to take a stand on this issue. What were talking about anyway, oh, abortion, right. Carry on pro-lifers, taking a real stand on life

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

+1 for Chambana




Um, hello my fellow c-unistas, have you heard of theThe Spice Box? I am finally excited about going out to eat in this town. I would totally love to find someone to stay with Oliver so that I can take my east-coast transplant (aka Mr. McCuerda) to the Road trip through New England. I wonder how quickly these things fill up…

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Stinky Saturdays

Oliver was sick, I mean really sick yesterday. He has had a couple of little colds that I apparently totally over-reacted to, because he was feeling fine with his stuffy nose and low grade fever. But yesterday, oh my peanut was ill. He woke up at 6:45 with some diarrhea, and went right back to sleep after he got cleaned up. We slept until 9:00(!), which seemed very odd, because he was very red and very tired when he finally woke up, and hot, very hot. I took his temp and it was 102.6. I called the doctor and we went in, he just slept on my chest the whole time, the poor guy. The doctor couldn't find anything that would lead her to think it was anything other than a virus, so off we went to “push” fluids and get that fever down. He slept all day in bed while I watched movies and did some work cuddled up next to him. At 5:00 his temp was 103.9, which was totally scary. I called the doctor, who told us to try really hard to get his temp down in the next 2 hours or he’ll need to go to the hospital for some blood work, and loads of totally icky scary things that I did not want to put our very sick little guy through. I gave him a cool bath and some more Tylenol, fluids, and then his fever came down to 101.9. Sweet relief. He seems to be almost back to his funny little baby self today, despite some funky diarrhea, which is so good. No more sick babies please, it is too sad to see!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Eating, and cooking...



Life during the semester is pretty hectic. Sasha is at school most of the day and reads most all evenings after putting Ollie to bed. We don’t get to spend much time together as a complete family unit, so despite my feelings for actual cooking, I have decided to try to have most of dinner cooking, or prepped or in some state of coming together before Sasha gets home, so he can finish the cooking and we can all eat together. I really think it is important for us to eat together; meals are such a social experience and really the only time we can talk about our day and hang out with Oliver together. I want Oliver to be an adventurous eater and embrace trying new things. I think this can come with exposure, and when he sits at the table with us, he can eat some of what we eat and be exposed to different foods. I try to eat breakfast and lunch with Ollie at the table together everyday. I make him a little food, and make myself a little food, and we just sit and eat together. These are things that I want for us as he gets older, and think that the routines need to start while he is a baby so it is just a natural part of his day, and family life. He is so very interested in food and wants to try everything we eat. His palate is expanding, so far he seems to really like apples, yogurt, avocados, black beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and corn; he is not so into peas and can be funny about bananas which really surprised me, how can you not like bananas? He is developing these preferences which just kill me. I made some mashed sweet potatoes, avocados, and bananas and froze them in little cubes, but he loves fresh baked sweet potato and avocado right out of the shell so much more. He is also a picky apple eater, which cracks me up, but his first apple was a perfect in-season, honeycrisp, he is just never quite as happy with a pink lady or a grannysmith. It makes sense for everything else to be down hill after the honeycrisp, but it is just so funny to watch the looks he gives the apples. Tonight I think I am going to try to start my first ever potato soup and am poking around for recipes, so if you have a good one please let me know, because there is a lot to sift through! Hopefully Sasha won't pass out when he comes home and finds me cooking in the kitchen for the second time this week.

A bit unrelated, but I have realized that what I miss most about our pre-baby days are Sunday mornings. I really want to find a regular sitter for Sunday morning so we can go have brunch and read the paper and spend about 3 hours a week just being us. I would rather have a dinner party at our house than go out to dinner, and going out to bars, drinking loads was not a huge part of our pre-Oliver relationship. Mulling over the Times and eating pancakes was. It would be really nice to just be with my boyfriend for a couple of hours a week.

Ugh, how can I make the foot of snow in our driveway magically disappear?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Always a time to break the silence

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And every year on Martin Luther King Jr. day I hear his words again and again on the radio and T.V. and I always cry, and I always want him back in our world. I don’t think one day a year is hardly enough to think about him and his work; one day a year is a shameful amount of time to think about civil rights and racism in this country. It is so sad that nothing changes, that apathy still reigns supreme, and that his words are just as relevant today as they were in the 1950’s. I live in a town that has a major Big 10 University and I see no anti-war protests, no human rights movements during a time of wide spread world violence and genocide, and no concern for civil rights. I see a University town blind to the racist events going on around its peripheral while contractors build luxury high-rise apartments for middle-class white kids to live in, because god only knows the pour souls have no other options. I listen to white kids driving on campus listening to “riding dirty” with no understanding of what it is like to actually live that life, and how shameful it is that racism is such a norm in our police force that top 40 can wax on about it with out anyone finding such police behavior appalling or even sad. It is maddening. We need Martin Luther King Jr. now more than ever, because no one else is stepping up and saying anything about what is really going on, no one is telling the truth and making people listen; and until that happens, until civil rights, human rights,peace and non-violence are realities, every damn day should be Martin Luther King Jr. day.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Oh it's in color


This flickr set. is so very good. His pictures feel like home to me, they encapsulate everything I love about the city. He has pictures I can hear, and I think that is amazing.

Monday, January 07, 2008

But I can’t feel it in the air tonight


For the last 3 out of 4 nights I have had dreams including Phil Collins. In one dream I was a roadie for an indie band who was playing a show at the Vic. I was setting up the drums and played “In the Air Tonight” on them. In the following dream I was in a karaoke bar somewhere, singing “Sussudio”. And in the last (hopefully) dream, I was walking along, having a conversation with someone, who was speaking the lyrics of “I don’t care anymore”. The past 2 times I have driven, Phil Collins was on the radio when I started the car! What does this mean? Why is Phil Collins stalking me? What did I do to him? What does he have in store for me? Why can’t I be stalked by Ted Leo or Sam Cooke? I really have to make this stop, it is just so weird.

Friday, December 28, 2007

In between days



My mind has become pregnant with thoughts I have no time, energy nor space to sort through. Oliver is 7 months old and is what we are calling a baubler: not quite a toddler, but almost not a baby. He is crawling, eating, getting into everything, and bumping his head at least a dozen times a day. God, Ollie is so funny, and loving, and cute. I can’t believe how lucky we are. I look him and can’t believe that he came from me. Life has just become an exhausting riot; the primary focus has been keeping our very independent baby from seriously hurting himself. At the end of the day I sometimes try to indulge in a bath and get in enough time to read a bit before sleep conquers me. I have picked up the best American non-required reading, and have been really impressed with some of the writing so far. An anthology is perfect for me…I don’t seem to have the time nor the intellectual stamina anymore to get through a larger novel these days. Short stories are just right; I can read an entire story before bed and get to, sort of, still enjoy that sense of fulfillment or accomplishment that normally comes at the end of a book. I am totally up for some recommendations of some good short-story anthologies to read when I finish up with this one. Sometimes I still can’t believe I am a mother; I think that motherhood suits me well, at least I think I am doing a good job at it, and I really do like it, though I am battling a bit of post-partum depression and I find it so ironic because I never really believed in depression before. I am still trying to figure out who I am as a mother and living in the middle of Illinois, or as I like to call it, hell. I am feeling a little bit lost these days and Oliver and I have been spending more time indoors as it gets colder outside. I am desperate to get dressed up (I miss wearing my amazing black pumps and find that nobody, ever, wears pumps here), to go to a good rock show and to go out for some pints with a couple of friends somewhere with a really good jukebox, and to go dancing somewhere with some really good soul music and good dancing space. Of course everywhere I have in mind is in Chicago…everything I want to do is in Chicago. I feel so homesick for the city, and really want Oliver to grow up in its streets, smelling the chocolate and lilacs in the air, riding the pee-soaked train all over the city, getting sand in his toes while flying kites at the beach, and walking to Dollop after school for some tea and to chat about his day. I am really working hard on finding things I love here, and I really like the Urbana library; it is the best way for us to spend our day indoors. Oliver has such a great time tumbling about in the children’s room, and they have a really good music & dvd selection.

Oh-I am totally smitten with this site.
Go forth and waste precious hours of your day.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Warm and Fuzzy

Christmas is upon us and it is getting very, very cold outside. The McCuerda's have decided that in lieu of gifts to each other (we really have enough "stuff" and aren't in need of anything)we are going to make some donations to homeless shelters, and maybe we can inspire others to do the same thing. The growing gap between the haves and the have-nots is just so sad, and shameful. While we are not in a financial situation to call ourselves haves, we do have a little to give, and certainly have sweaters & hats to donate. I like the idea of buying a few Walgreen's gift cards in small amounts to allow people the autonomy to get what they want. I know if I were homeless, and all I wanted was some cheap wine, I would not want people to judge that, or feel that they somehow had the right to dictate what I could have. So here is a list if items and events in Chicago offering ways to help...I know we all have needy people in our own back yards, but it is a good list to think about what people need from the Night Ministry (I also like the idea of movie passes, allowing people to warm up a bit, maybe find a safe place to take a nap, use the bathroom):


WHAT THE NIGHT MINISTRY NEEDS

For our Holiday Celebrations:
For all of our programs, we need gift certificates in specific denominations at certain places:

* $5 McDonald's or similar
* $10 Walgreens
* $10 Dollar store of any name
* $25 Target

For our Health Outreach Bus Celebration, we need 1,000 full-sized winter blankets, 1,000 unisex holiday stockings, 2,500 winter hats and gloves for adults, teens, and children. Large cans of hot chocolate mix, and homemade or Oreo cookies packed in plastic sandwich bags (3 to a bag) are also needed. Download a brochure for details.

For all of our Youth Services, we need:
- six waterproof, sturdy, durable CD/Tape player boom boxes
- CTA cards, which we give to youth needing to get to school or other appointments.
- Movie passes with food coupons

For our three Open Door Youth Shelter programs (Interim, Transitional, and Response-Ability Pregnant & Parenting) at two locations (West Town and Lakeview):
- twin bed sheet sets and towel sets.
- non-dated tickets to Chicago cultural institutions such as: Shedd Acquarium, Museum of Science & Industry, Field Museum, Art Institute, etc.

Our Interim Housing program needs one 27”+ television set.

For our teen moms at our Response-Ability Pregnant and Parenting Program we’re seeking infant snowsuits, and a variety of duffle bags for young moms when they leave the program.

If you’re interested in helping out with our Holiday Celebration, contact Volunteer Coordinator, Gail Bernoff via email or call 773-784-9000 x6015.

Throughout the year, gathering donations is a wonderful service project for a family, group of friends or students, congregational outreach/youth groups, corporate groups, or individuals of all ages.

To help make shopping for in-kind donations easier, The Night Ministry has set up gift registries at Target and Babies R Us.
Download instructions for using our gift registries.

Help us by holding a drive to collect:
- new hygiene kits items, especially trial sized deoderant Download our hygiene kit recipe.
- new white athletic socks
- cookies
- new men's and women's underwear in a variety of sizes

Download "Hold A Drive" wish list & information.
We regret that we cannot arrange pickups or accept donations of used items.
We cannot accept clothing or household items such as kitchen equipment or furniture.

NOTE: Once a week, youth we serve have an opportunity to visit Howard Brown's resale shop, the Brown Elephant, with clothing vouchers from us. If you are looking for a place to donate used items (clothing & household), please consider bringing your items to the Brown Elephant (Halsted & Waveland location). This is the important part: When you drop off your items and fill out the form, please say that you were referred by The Night Ministry.

For in-kind items, please contact Francine Ferrara before bringing anything by to make sure that the items are still needed. For more information or if you have any of these items at 773-784-9000 x6025 or via email.

Friday, November 23, 2007

It's Big Time



Oliver is 6 months old today. Here he is playing in his first snow on his first Thanksgiving during his first trip to Minnesota. What a ham.He totally loved the snow, it was such a riot having him out there and watching him take it all in, seeing the snowflakes land on his face. So sweet.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Three things:



1. Haagen Dazs has a few new flavors, and while they are not Jeni’s, they are super tasty. I picked up 2 pints last week, the Mayan Chocolate, which is dark chocolate with cinnamon, and the caramelized pear and toasted pecan , which is one of the best store bought ice creams I have ever had. The pear is apparently a limited edition, so I would highly recommend picking up some as soon as possible. Your life will be made better by these ice creams.
2. I was listening to the Lightening Seeds while on a short road trip with Oliver. The Lightening Seeds were one of my favorite bands during the period between the second semester of my sophomore and junior years of high school. I like to bring back past loves for the nostalgia value occasionally, and I had the funniest memory come back to me when Joy came on. I had just turned 17, it was the second semester of my junior year, and I was spending the night a friend’s house whose dad was out of town for the weekend (she lived with just her dad). Her boyfriend had abruptly broken up with her in the totally devastating way the 17 year old boys were accustomed to doing. When I got there she was wrecked, crying and listening to Joy over and over again; it was a cassette, which meant that she had to keep rewinding it. I told her that she had enough of the self torture, took the tape, put in the Ramones and we made cocktails with Hi-C Boppin’Berry juice boxes and vodka, got a little bit buzzed and watched Valley Girl 3 times in a row. It was one of the first few times I had ever drank, and I remember having that excited and slightly scary feeling of having a bit of autonomy that happens when teenagers are first left to themselves.
3. I was giddy in that memory when we got back from our short trip only to have it ruined by the sounds of “A Prairie Home Companion”. We stream WBEZ on Saturday mornings; the line up is just perfect: Car Talk, Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me, Sound Opinions, This American Life, and Re-Sound. It is so good, it is hard to leave the house, so we find reasons to putz around, listening all morning. I left the stream going while out, so it was on when I got back. I had to feed Oliver so I did not have time to shut the stream off; I was forced to listen to the show for about a half an hour. I have never really listened to "A Prairie Home Companion" before and it is truly an awful show. I have never been a fan of Garrison Keillor, and now I like him even less.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Household tip #1



A few days ago I splattered some bleach on my favorite pair of charcoal grey pants. I haphazardly seized upon a moment to clean up the kitchen while wearing said pants, and the catastrophe occurred. It made me a bit sad, and not being too crafty, I wondered how I could save them. If these were black pants, I would have dotted over the spots with my trusty chunky Sharpie, like I have done many times in the past, with decent results. But these were not black, they were grey, and Sharpie does not make a trusty charcoal grey chunky marker (damn them). Suddenly it occurred to me that I could try to turn my favorite pair of charcoal grey pants into my favorite pair of black pants with some dye! Genius, I know. I bought some black RIT dye and read the instructions very carefully. I am really not very crafty, I am prone to using super clue to fix ripped seams, and using Sharpies, staples, etc on my clothes, so using some RIT dye put me right up there with Martha in my mind. I did learn how to use a sewing machine, once, in home economics in junior high, but the effect was less than mental floss. According to the instructions, you need to use the whole bottle of the dye with a pound of fabric, so I gathered up some of my older comfy black tee shirts and yoga pants to throw in with the catastrophe pants. The result was beautiful, seriously. I am totally impressed, and feeling so super crafty…not Ready Made crafty, but above super glue crafty. My pants look really good black, and the charcoal seams did not dye, and made this really cool look, and my old black clothes look brand new. I am just so proud of my handy little homemaker self!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Learning to eat

video

So far, the hardest part about being a parent has been teaching Oliver how to eat. Swallowing food does not come naturally to babies, and I am not quite sure of the best way to communicate this to the little man. It is proving to be a riot of a learning experience. Babies can be such little drunken monkeys sometimes, it is total comedy.

It is so bizarre



There are squirrels running all over the neighborhood and all over the Chambana area. I keep wondering what squirrel poop must look like, and why have I never seen it? My whole life, I have lived where there are loads of squirrels, and I have never seen their poop, nor seen proof of it. So mysterious.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nap time!

I want a little row boat to China too.

Last night I dreamt that cancer cells were a function in human evolution. They were developing out of a need for humans to adapt to the changes happening in their environments. The cancer actually was responding to the chemical adaptations in our environment. Humans were dying because of the treatments to the cancer, but not the cancer itself. The methods used to kill cancer were making us weaker, less adaptive. No one in the medical or science fields could actually figure this out. People were too scared of cancer to allow it to serve its purpose. I had tried to communicate this to a group of doctors, but they were trying to have me killed.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

A fantastic FYI!



PARK(ing)Day 2007!

September 21, 2007 - PARK(ing) Day
PARK(ing) Day is a one-day, global event centered in San Francisco where artists, activists, and citizens collaborate to temporarily transform parking spots into “PARK(ing)” spaces: temporary public parks.

Nationwide: The Trust for Public Land is spearheading National PARK(ing) Day in more than a dozen major cities across the U.S., including NYC, LA, DC, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, St. Paul, Boston, Austin, Salt Lake City, Tampa, Miami and others.
Learn more and get involved here!

The mission:

To rethink the way streets are used, call attention to the need for urban parks, and improve the quality of urban human habitat....at least until the meter runs out!

Go forth and PARK!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

That’s Wack: a rant about Champaign

I apologize in advance for the storm of negativity you are about to experience; I really just need to get some things off of my chest.

1. A few weeks ago Oliver and I were walking home after a going away party for some friends. It was dusk when we left, and fairly dark by the time we got home. There was a strange car parked with its lights on, running, and a person sitting in the driver seat, right in front of our house. I was really freaked out about the car just sitting there, when I saw a person walking through our back yard, in the dark. I had no idea if someone was in the house, or what was going on, but it was all very weird and very scary. I called 911, and sat there, in front of the open front door, holding a sleeping Oliver, plotting the best way to get out of the house quickly, if someone was there. The car sat there for over an hour, and so did I, just watching it, totally scared. The police never came. They never came! I think that is only the second or third time in my life I have called 911, and I did it because I actually felt like it was necessary, not because it seemed like a fun thing to do; and the police never came. How is that even possible? It is Champaign, so I am sure they were too busy pulling over young brown skinned boys for no reason to show up for an actual call where they are actually needed. The list of what-if’s running through my head is just insane, and I don’t feel safe here anymore. How can I trust that should I need them again, they will actually show up this time? Word to Chuck D is all I have to say about that.

2. Trash removal is a privatized service here. It is totally retarded. On our block alone there are at least 5 different trash removal companies picking up trash on Thursdays. The trucks start at about 3 in the morning and keep coming until about 10. It is the most insane system I have ever witnessed. 5 different trucks come and pick up trash from 5 different houses, almost right in a row. It is so inefficient, wasteful, noisy, and just stupid. I think I am running for mayor to reform this ridiculous crap.

3. I have just started riding my bike again since having Oliver, and working out work schedules with Sasha. Yesterday I rode to campus town to work at Bar Gulianni, the best and only place to get coffee here. I had 5 cars yell at me! I know, I have heard of this happening, but it seemed like an exaggeration until I actually experienced it. 5 cars, all middle aged, seemingly middle class white people. I got 1 “you’re going to get killed”, 2 “get on the sidewalk” and 2 “get off the road”. What is wrong with these people? What is wrong with this town? Don’t they understand that sidewalks are for pedestrians, and that bikes are vehicles? And ‘you’re going to get killed” …really? That is just mean and total malarkey. Don’t be scurred of the bikes Champaign; it’s going to be okay.

4. I miss Chicago.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Super sweet schwinn

I got to ride my bike to school today! It was so fantastic. I have not been able to ride my bike since November, when my belly first started to get too big to peddle safely. It was such a great feeling. How I missed riding fast and feeling so fluid. The best part was whizzing past the mess of backed up cars. Oh how I missed my bike. It really is a shame that it is seemingly dangerous for me to put Oliver in the Bjorn and take him riding. It would be so fun. I can't wait until he is big enough for some type of bike carrier (preferably the Chariot side car). I wish that Champaign was more bike friendly...actually I just wish that we lived in Chicago, I do love riding my bike there! If only there was a way to move our house & the rent we pay...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

One day, lad, all this will be yours



What, the curtains?

It hardly seems believable that Oliver is already 12 weeks old. It is so amazing how much he has already grown and developed. The way he observes his world is so fantastic, I love watching him look at things, how big his eyes get. Whenever I encounter mothers of older children all I ever hear are stories of what their babies were like at his age, how fast they grow, and how much they miss their babies. Yet when I am with my own mother, or around mothers with toddlers, all I ever hear is don’t rock him to sleep, just put him down and walk away, let him learn to calm himself, let him learn to fall asleep on his own. They offer advice, to not hold him too much, to not let him get into the habit of falling asleep in my arms, I’ll rue the day… I just hate it. I just hate the way so many people want their babies to not need them, to grow up faster then they should. Oliver is only going to be a baby for less than a year. That’s it. And that time will go by so fast. I know that in a blink of an eye he’ll be eighteen, and there will be no more rocking him to sleep at night. His bedtime is 30 minutes of total sweetness at the end of his day (that is if he is not having a total meltdown) that we both need. He is not alert and looking around, he doesn’t want to play, he is not fussing; he just wants a cuddle, and to be read to or sung to. Yet I get told, in an ominous warning fashion, that if I rock him to sleep, he’ll never be able to fall asleep on his own. I call bullshit on that. I’ll be able to rock him to sleep maybe until he is 3, and then he’ll be too big, too independent, and then, no more. I am oh so aware of the fact that my baby will only be a baby for a very small amount of time, and I want to relish in it. I want to be able to have a good cuddle with him for as long as I am able. I know that the day will come all too soon when my little baby will not want me to rock him, or sing to him. Why is that so many parents don’t seem to realize this? Why is it that so many parents feel that it is somehow wrong that their babies need them, that they need to be held and rocked? Is it cultural to be so unaffectionate? I can’t do that. I am totally going to overload the little man with cuddles and affection. I think those things are important, necessary. Life should be sweet for babies; we should rock them to sleep at night, every night. These are the best years of his life, and over all too soon. Someday he’ll have to get a job, an apartment, deal with dating, people, life, and parental cuddles won’t be socially acceptable anymore. How do I deal with all of this “advice” I keep getting that is just so antithetical to what I think having the good life be all about?

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Drive-by egging


When I was in junior high, all of the girls had to take a home economics class which involved various sewing projects (i.e.: torture for me) and partake in the obligatory egg baby assignment. The egg baby assignment involved hallowing out an egg, which was marked with either a b or g on the bottom (for boy or girl), then decorating your egg baby however you choose, usually with yarn and markers. We were required to take care of our egg babies for a week, take them with us to classes (despite the many protests from the teachers of the more academic classes), and keep a journal of their day, when they ate, what they did. We were required to obtain and pay a babysitter if we needed to be away from our egg babies. The whole project was insulting and irritating to me. It was designed to be an anti-teen pregnancy lesson. I had never even kissed a boy, and certainly did not want to be accused of having sex (or being careless if I were) in this intrusive assumption. It was totally sexist, the boys never had to carry around egg babies, or take home economics (which teaches young boys that babies aren’t their problem, and that sewing is torture only for girls?). I thought it was a ridiculous way to spend my time, I’d rather be bouncing on my bed to “egg raid on mojo”, than carting around some hallowed out egg. And I for sure was not going to pay anyone to hang out with said hallowed out egg. My egg baby journal was a beautiful work of fiction, with stories of peek-a-boo games we would play, and I had my friends sign off on babysitting for the egg, attesting to being paid for their hard work. Long gone are the days of pre-teens ignoring their eggs. Now junior high girls get to tote around a Real Care baby , which actually cries, poops, and needs to be feed. These dolls are apparently so realistic that one girl crashed her car when her baby was crying in the backseat. Now I know I drive like a maniac when Oliver is crying in the backseat. It is distracting, and it actually is distressing because he is a real live baby who really needs to be fed, or changed, or calmed. I would have thrown the doll out the window before I crashed my car because of it. Poor girl, I doubt she will ever, ever have sex now.

Monday, July 30, 2007

No man (or baby) is an island




Oliver had his 2 month check up last Thursday. What this meant was that he was given 4 vaccines, 2 in each thigh. I was totally unprepared for this, and totally unprepared to see my little man in pain. There he was, lying on the exam table cooing and smiling at me, holding my fingers when the first shot was given. His face went red, his mouth contorted, I could see how much it hurt him. He cried, and I cried. We came home to cuddle; he was sore and uncomfortable all day. I felt horrible. I read over the materials I was handed about the vaccines he was given and felt torn. The risks associated with the vaccines are really scary. In some cases, the rate of occurrence of the side affects is higher than the disease itself. I know that vaccines are important for public health, for the safety of the masses; but had I been given the information before hand, and known how painful it was going to be for Oliver, and for me to see him in pain, I would have opted to move us to a remote desert island, where Ollie wouldn’t need to come into contact with other disease ridden humans, or anything awful, painful, or sad really. Mr. Cuerda convinced me that this idea was not plausible or good for Ollie really. But it still seems like quite a nice idea to me. I would love for nothing more than for Oliver to grow up in world where he would never have to experience pain, never see sadness or cruelty, never see inhumane acts. Right now, his world is so lovely, and it will be for a couple of years. Everyone loves him, everywhere we go; babies seem to bring out the wonderful side of human nature. People love to coo at him and smile, talk about him. Perfect strangers are nice to us, help us, and want to talk to us everywhere we go with him. This never happens to adults, people are never that nice to each other. Right now, his world is pure and new, he sees the trees and the grass, hears the birds and the rain; the world is an amazing place for him. At some point that is all going to change, and I worry about how the way the world really is will affect him. I wish there was some way for me to protect him from all of the awful things the world can present us, and keep his world so loving and pure. Ignorance really is bliss, and I can’t think of a better place to live in ignorance than your own remote island. Since I can’t pack up my family and go live on our own little island, I guess I better buck up and prepare myself for the next round of vaccines in 2 months and for how the realities of the world will affect him, and try my best to shelter him for as long as possible.

Monday, July 23, 2007

She was shakey, oh oh oh oh, snapping her fingers




Last month the McCuerda’s drove to Massachusetts for very sad and very happy events. We spent 3 days with Sasha’s great friends
in Somerville
outside of Boston. While we were there I met Shakey , and I haven’t been the same since. What is Shakey you ask? Shakey is delicious shaved chocolate that you shake. What do you shake Shakey on you ask? Well, so far I have shook Shakey on banana bread, banana pancakes, toast with butter, cereal, a spoon of peanut butter, salad, sliced pears, fruit salad, straight in my mouth…you can shake Shakey on anything really and you can make a hot chocolate drink with it in the winter, or now, if you are crazy like that. What can Shakey do for you, you ask? Shakey can file your taxes, clean your gutters, mow your lawn, tune your piano and cut through aluminum cans; Shakey can make you happier, more popular, thinner, wealthier, cure male pattern baldness, make you a better lover, and make peace in the middle east. Everyone needs a little Shakey in their life, who isn’t looking for a way to incorporate more chocolate into their day? Now, with the magic of the internet, Shakey can be yours for the low, low price of $13.50 + shipping and handling. $13.50 is not a lot to pay for a lifetime of happiness. Order yours today, operators are standing by; and don’t forget to throw in an extra canister for the lovely lady who brought Shakey into your life too.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Oliver’s Army



Oliver is going to be 8 weeks old this Friday. It so astounding how different my life is, I think about what I was doing last summer and I hardly recognize that person. I used to love to go dancing with friends at sonotheque, it was the most fun. Now I dance at home with Oliver, and we have the most fun. I used to really like spending evenings at the Map Room, chatting with friends over fantastic pints. Now I spend evenings rocking the little man to sleep after a bottle and a bath. It truly is my favorite way to spend an evening, I love how he falls asleep in my arms, wrapped up so cozy and safe, sucking on his pacifier with his tiny fingers wrapped around my finger. It is so sweet and beautiful. I used to be such a night owl, I would never go to bed before 1:00 A.M. and now I exhaustingly crawl into bed at 9:30, after the little man is sound asleep and tucked into his bassinet. I used to inhale books, consuming them one by one. Now I have a stack of 4 half-way read books that may take me a few years to get through, and that is okay, I really enjoy reading Goodnight Moon to Ollie over and over again. Life changes so fast. You turn a corner and everything is different. All of a sudden you find yourself a parent, without anyone checking your qualifications, and the life you once lived seems so long ago, you can hardly remember it. The past 8 weeks have been a blur, but they have contained some of the most meaningful and important moments of my life. Life is so good with Ollie. I am so thankful for the time I got to spend before meeting Sasha and having Oliver, I hope that all of those experiences I got to have make me a more interesting person and allow me to have something valuable to offer Oliver. I still can’t believe that I am a mother, and that I have this amazing son. I feel like I am going to wake up, back in my tiny apartment in Chicago and this was all some fantastic dream. But it’s all real, and really good.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A reward for crappy traffic



Thanks, Chicago. The city is offering Earth Machine compost bins for sale to residents this Saturday, July 14. The sale will be held at The Center for Green Technology from 10am to Noon. Residents are limited to one bin per household and the cost is $30.

Location: 445 N. Sacramento Blvd.
Phone: 312.746.9642

The McCuerda's are heading up to the fine city by the lake to pick one up. I am so very happy to be going for the weekend, it should be a really nice weekend. Too bad we really won't be able to go to Pitchfork, as Ollie is way too little; but a picnic in the park should be really nice.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Shameless plug...



For the peanut! Oliver is 6 weeks old today and is smiling a real smile! Ugh, he just kills me.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Revelations



I have recently realized that I am a bit of a picky eater. The list of foods that I do not like is a bit larger than I have been prone to confess. No one likes to admit that they may be a bit narrow minded or not so adventurous, and I am afraid that when it comes to food, I am less adventurous than I would like to be. Some of the foods I will not eat, under any circumstances are sausages, various animal organs, olives and mushrooms. Go ahead, shake your head in shame at me, I am used to it. People claim that these are some of the most delicious things on earth, but I am just not going to put them in my mouth, ever. I also really do not like zucchini, summer squash, and loads of meat products. I am not a big fan of heavy, rich or complicated recipes; I prefer my food left in a simpler naked like state, a little grilling with a few herbs is the best way to enjoy meats and veggies. In fact, I have realized that I really don’t like to cook. I love to eat, I love to hang out in the kitchen, drinking wine, chatting with someone who is a great cook, maybe fetching a dish or handing over a spoon; but I really don’t like the actual act of chopping and cooking all that much. I also should admit that my desire for a clean kitchen repels me a bit to dirtying up all of the utensils and pots that cooking involves. Sometimes I get a bit of a bug to make something really delicious, about 2-3 times a year maybe, but normally I am quite content to eat some salad greens, cheese and some fruit. Why revel this you might ask? Well it seems I am in love with and living with an amazing man who lives and breathes food and cooking, it is his one and only real passion in life. I desperately want to share his passion for cooking, and I know he wants that same from me. I am afraid he is a bit disappointed in my ability to be totally content with only dirtying up a knife cutting some cheese and using a plate for some bread and fruit, and being so happy eating that way every night. I am also afraid that if I do not find some way to love cooking he will have some torrid cooking affair, chopping zucchini in the kitchen with another. I do really like baking, and that might be because I am pretty good at it. Maybe if I was more competent at cooking I would enjoy it more. So maybe more exposure will make me love it more, and not see it as such a chore. I sure hope so, as I doubt I will be able to convince my lover that some brie and pears make a delicious meal for nightly eating.