The Cheap Kind

Cora started out in Pampers Swaddlers. I had a few other brands that had been given to us, and all of them gave her diaper rash. So we stuck with Swaddlers intermingled with Seventh Generation because Swaddlers only go up to a size 2-3 (I called it a 2.5), and I wanted something I knew we could switch to when the time came.

When she grew out of Swaddlers we switched to Pampers BabyDry and occasionally Cruisers when BabyDry was unavailable. All was going well until she started leaking out of every kind of Pampers, even after we went up a size. The day my diaper world changed was July 18, 2008. We were at Katy's (Jake's cousin) and Cooper's wedding where Cora was the flower girl. I had one extra diaper packed to last through ceremony and reception...One. A mother of five came to my rescue. Her baby and Cora happened to be in the same size, and she had a whole package in her van. I saw the blue and green polka-dot diaper and had no idea what brand it was, but it didn't give Cora a rash, and there was no leak. AMAZING!

It wasn't until I was at Target and saw the same diaper on the yellow Up & Up box that I knew where they came from. Then I looked at the price and almost fell over...SIX whole dollars less than Pampers for more diapers. They've redesigned the diaper in the last few months and it's even better. They have a lot more stretch and leg protection. And they're really soft.

Swaddlers were awesome, and I wouldn't use anything else for little itty-bitties, but I wish I would have known how great Target's diapers were when the Swaddlers phase was through. The moral of this story: If you haven't ever tried Target's diapers, or if its been a while since you have, give them a shot. I was pleasantly surprised.

Going at it Alone

This post was supposed to be a victory.

Today was the first day I attempted public transportation alone with Cora AND the stroller. Adler Planetarium was having a free day, and we needed to get out and about.

We caught the 10:45 Metra at 51st and rode to 11th/Museum Campus. We got off and headed to the elevator, I pushed the button, the light flashed for a second, and then the orange glow went away. I tried repeatedly to no avail.

I remember this stop for the number of stairs to get up to street level. Jake and Parker once carted Cora and stroller up all of the stairs, and they were tired when they got to the top.

Oh well, I'm macho. I whip her stroller around and start pulling it up one stair at a time. When I got to the landing in the middle, I heard a man talking on his phone interrupt his conversation with "Hold on, let me go help this lady." While we both knew I could make it the rest of the way, I took him up on his kind gesture. He was, after all, the elevator repairman.

Adler Planetarium was all right. It's like elementary age friendly. Cora likes the moon, so that was nice. She also really likes running around from exhibit to exhibit - perfect. We saw one of the Gemini space crafts in an exhibit devoted to Jim Lovell. I think Cora almost appreciated that it had been in space.

We headed out to go have lunch in Grant Park at Buckingham Fountain, but on our trip over, Cora was showing the signs of fatigue, and a train was coming soon, so we headed back to the station and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Yes, I had checked the schedule before we left home. The train finally comes, and I brush off the "blue line" remark I hear the conductor say because all lines lead back to the 51st/53rd street station. Almost*.


I'm talking with an elderly lady across from me. She's telling me all about her great-grandson and how smart he is because both of his parents are educators and work with him. I felt rude when I glanced out the window once and realized we should be slowing down, but we're not. And I glanced out again and she paused and I said, "Do we stop at 51st?" She said "no, you need to be on the South Chicago Line...." and somewhere in the middle of that sentence one of the conductors said "we stop at 55/56/57."

"I can do 55th," I said, glad that it wasn't a bigger number. I had visions of streets in the 90s dancing through my head and waiting another hour before I could jump on another train and come back home. Relief. I got off the train that was closer to 57th than 55th, and made my way down to the 55th exit, only to see an accessible sign saying to exit at 57th. I was proud and continued on, glad when another kind stranger helped me carry the stroller down a REALLY big flight of stairs. Two sets.

We walked the nine blocks home, and I was wondering if I should count this as a successful first solo trip or not. I mean, I did make it home, and Cora fell asleep a block before we got there. Maybe it's a victory afterall.

Side note: The Metra is an older transit system that is closer to our home than the "El" (or CTA). It is usually very convienient, but if you're not at one of the major stations that denotes which trains are which, they all look the same except for the South Shore Line, which has orange instead of blue on it. It also spreads out to running every hour in off-peak parts of the day. The El is much easier in the sense that all cars are labeled with the color of the line and the direction it is going, so even if you happen to be in an area close to the loop, you don't have to guess what line a train is, even if it shares the tracks with multiple lines. You generally never have to wait for than ten minutes.


Close up of Curtains

My cousin Kiersty asked for a close up of the curtains, and because I am a needy reader of her blog - always requesting that she post extra pictures and videos - I'm going to indulge her.

And since I'm showing a close up, I'll also reveal my secret....

The striped fabric was a table cloth, and the top floral and damask fabric was a table runner. Both were part of the Garden Party collection at Target, and I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. I kept going back and forth, like maybe it was too "girlie," but I couldn't resist any longer when pieces got the lovely little reddish orange clearance sticker. I cut the table cloth and runner in half and sewed them together as well as a hem down the inside of each panel.

I sewed a strip of fabric on the back to run the curtain rod through.

The kitchen valance is one full table runner. It fit perfectly!

I got the sewing machine out to sew a strip of fabric on and then thought "Hmm, I can just run the rod between the back layer of pink fabric and the front floral/damask (it was hollow between). So I cut an inch and a half slit at each end and ran the rod through - If only hanging the rod would have been so easy - I discovered the joy of plaster.

A closer close up. Yes, it's the same fabric as the shower curtain.

And if I can ever talk Jake into it, I'd LOVE this quilt for our room. It reminds me of a hand-painted quilt my great-grandma made.

And Today's Tour...

...will take us through the kitchen and bathroom - not in that order.

I love the hardcore plumbing.

And the bright colors in an otherwise dreary space.

The hallway from the front door.

Our dining area looking towards the kitchen.

...from the front door.
At the end of the kitchen looking towards the living room.

Gas stove.

Our one maple cabinet. I like it for the drawer, but I'm fond of the rest of my Old Ironsides cabinets.

"Eye Candy" wall and "Daily Bread"
I love my fiesta.

Apron Collection

Extra storage.

The galley.

I hope you enjoyed the peek. Come back real' soon now, ya hear?


Tracey and Parker [Jake's mom and brother] came to Chicago to spend their fall break with us. It was fun to see some familiar faces. We went on a few adventures - free adventures because that's how I roll. Free minus the food, we ate out almost every meal. Tracey was very gracious.

And I guess free minus the transportation, but I refuse to pay fifteen to twenty dollars to park my car somewhere.

The weather was cloudy and cold. I admittedly do not want winter to set in, but at the same time, I can't wait to see the punch it packs. This week will be a reprieve. It is sunny and wonderful. Blue skies and temperatures in the upper fifties to lower sixties. Fall in Chicago.

Cora and I went to the library, and I saw Tar Beach. I heard about this book some time ago when it won the Caldecott Honor. I meant to read it then, but time slipped by, and I forgot about it. We checked it out, and I read it to her before her nap. She loved it and was asleep in record time. I loved it. The story was originally part one of a five-part quilt series, Woman on a Bridge, by Faith Ringgold, and she later adapted it into a book. The illustrations are lovely, and the story reminds me of my very own Tar Beach, though I called it my "tHinK SpoT." It was at the base of the Superstition Mountains in a cul-de-sac called Morning Dove Court. I looked it up the other day and there is still just one house there - and the lot in front of my tHinK SpoT is still for sale. Does anyone have a little over a quarter of a million dollars they'd like to loan me? Thanks in advance.

Today is the day I've spent getting a few things back together. Washing extra laundry and such. It's also the day I'm getting rid of leftovers. My mother-in-law loves Diet Coke. It's this thing that runs in the blood of the women in her family. She bought a twelve-pack and only drank six while she was here. I rarely drink pop except for the occassional Mug rootbeer. But not today. I'm on DC numero dos. Holy fizzy. I don't even like the taste of artificial sweetener...

[The lovely golden leaves from our bedroom window]

Some Bumpin' Tunes and a Shining Example

I was visiting NieNie Dialogues this morning, like I frequently do, and she had a link to a new cd called Nearer. I followed the link and oh my, I want it. My heart is not one that generally desires material things, but this is different. It doesn't just have one or two of my favorite hymns, it has all of them, even "More Holiness Give Me," which hasn't been recorded very much. So, go check it out, and fall in love with it too, in all of it's 30 second clips.

A bit about NieNie [aka Stephanie Nielson]. I found her blog about a week before she, her husband Christian [aka Mr. Nielson], and their friend Doug Kinneard were in a plane crash near St. Johns, AZ. That was August 16, 2008. Doug died from injuries, Christian was burned over 30 percent of his body and Stephaie over 80 percent. I spent the next few months crying over and praying for this woman and her family I'd never met. I know I was joined by all the readers of her blog in this mix of heartache at what had happened and hope for her recovery...for her life. The remarkable thing about it is that despite an event as big as a plane crash, and how it would alter one's life, it's like a little blip on the radar when it comes to making up who she is to me.

In the months she spent in a medically induced coma, I poured over her posts. I loved reading about all the places she frequented in Mesa, as that was her home when I found her. It was my growing up home. I still look at the real estate in the zip code I grew up in [85203], and dream about the houses I would live in if I moved back tomorrow. She made me feel sentimental, like I need more of that. I do. I like my sentimental self. I felt like I was catching up with an old friend.

She has four children, but was able to find this balance between motherhood and selfhood. I think the magic was that the line was blurred. She lives a life full of passion and creation, and every little part adds to who she is. Everyday is physically difficult for her, but she knows how to make the most with what is in front of her, even if some of her posts are heavy-hearted - she keeps it real. She seeks out beauty in every thing. She inspires me. If you haven't heard of her before and need a boost every now and again, go take a peek into her life. She will enrich your soul.

NieNie Dialogues

Riding without Holding On

Tonight I found an old friend on facebook. If you've ever been to Mesa Arizona, then I'm sure you know him, too. Yes, Diz-Z is on facebook. He's a street minister who used to ride up along main street praising God and shouting "Halelujiah" I can't really remember Mesa without him. I think he started his minitry when I was six-ish. I've written a few pieces about him as the years have progressed. He's one of those sort of mythic characters in my life. I love that he is still doing what he loves.

"I just want to help others" - from his weekly inspiration video 12-12-09

Follow this link to check him out:


I've been thinking about this for a while, but wasn't sure how to put it. I was reading a friend's blog this morning, and I think it may have cleared up some of the confusing parts of my dilemma.

When I was a senior in high school, I was sure I was going to get a degree in creative writing and be an English teacher. And then when I had children I would stay at home and be a freelance writer, thanks to the advice of my high school counselor. I met Jake, got married, and moved to Oklahoma not long after high school. [Technically I met Jake a month before I graduated from high school, but who's being technical?] There were no creative writing programs in Oklahoma City, so I got a degree in English on the writing track [and the education track, and I was one course shy of the literature track, and in three years because I wanted to graduate "on time," but again, technicalities]. Wherever Jake was going for his graduate work would be where I would further my education [not necessarily at the same school, but in the same city/close region]. Here we are in Chicago, and there are several creative writing programs, two of which I'm really interested.

So what's the problem? I haven't written anything substantial since I graduated from college. I can't figure it out either. I used to write all the time just because. I've been wondering if I should get a degree specifically in writing or something that inspires my writing. I'm passionate about a lot of things, one of which is the area of social equality. I've been glancing at public policy and international relations programs, both of which can be coupled with a law degree. But even with all of this, I wonder how/why I would do such a thing when I'm totally devoted to being a mom at this moment in my life. I'm still paying of student loans from undergraduate, and it doesn't make sense to possibly incur more debt when in the end of the program I will likely continue to stay home until all of my pretend children, besides Cora of course, are in school.

This has been what I've been going around and around about since Cora was born.

I was talking with a cousin about it and she said something I think is very true: "I think that it is prudent for you to be as educated as you can be- for both you and Cora, I think that any education you get will only help her in the long run, but it would mean that there are days you would have to spend less time with her while you do it and I don't know how that balance works out..."

And then I read Megan's post this morning. Among the many things I could relate to, the part I'd never thought of was where she talked about wanting a hobby, but not wanting it to feel like work or a job. "I want to do it as much or as little as I desire." Because she has a job, and that is being a mom to her three children..."and it's a great gig." Something about thinking of what I want to do with my life in terms of what career I want to have really made sense. I think I spend too much time worrying about what I'm going to do that I don't ever do what I really love to do. I shouldn't worry about a piece that I want to write being suitable as a writing sample for a prospective program, or picking the right organization to get involved with as something that will look good on a resume.

The word unfulfilled has come up. Am I fulfilled as a wife? Yes. Am I fulfilled as a mother? Yes. Am I fulfilled as a me? Not completely. And I want to change that. And I don't have to know everything all at once, no matter how much I'd like to. I just don't want to be in neutral because I can't think of anything more lame or heartbreaking than simply staying put.

PS: I deleted a paragraph from this post about how I cringe whenever I'm asked to think about my "talents." I'm a "jack of many* trades, but a master of none." I think one of my talents is kindness, and maybe the kind of person we are working towards becoming has the potential to be our greatest talent of all.

A Delightful Taste Sensation

Cora and I went to the Fedex store to send something to Oklahoma, and met Jake on our way home so we could walk together. I love family strolls. I was trying to figure out what we could make for lunch that would would be quick and easy. We decided on grilled cheese sandwiches. These were not just any grilled cheeses. No way. It was the best grilled cheese I've ever had, and nothing was out of the ordinary. We used extra sharp white cheddar cheese on a multigrain bread with unsalted butter. I sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper on the outside of one side of the sandwich like I always do. I "grilled" them to a perfect golden brown.

When I bit into mine, it was the perfect flavor combination. I think it had something to do with the strong cheese and the semi-sweet tasting bread. On the side we had artichoke kalamata hommus. So good. [One of the best pizzas I've ever had was at the Bread Company in Urbana, IL. It had ricotta, artichokes, kalamata olives, and brie cheese on a wonderfully thin crust.]

I love when food surprises me.


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