Its been absolutely gorgeous the past few days, so I thought I would bring my camera to the park with us and share its beauty.  I love our park…its a little oasis in the middle of the city.  There are two lagoons connected by a river, and lots of paths and trails winding around them.

There are tons of baseball diamonds in the park (I would guess like 15-20), and just recently they built a little Cubs field. Its right at the end of our street, where we enter the park.  I was so excited when it first got built!

Little League starts at 3 years old…I can’t wait to sign Desi up!

On our walks we encounter lots of wildlife, mostly birds, ducks, geese, squirrels and frogs.  A few times I’ve seen some really cool, long-legged birds that I don’t know the name of, but usually we just see robins and sparrows.

In the summer there are always lots of people fishing.  They stock the lagoon with all kinds of fish, so you’re bound to catch something!

I love this garden, that has these arbors surrounding it.  It’s a very formal garden, but they plant wildflowers mostly so it doesn’t look quite as formal as it could.  A pair of bison flank the entrance, which were sculpted by the same guy that did the lions at the Art Institute’s entrance.  These are reproductions…the originals were created for the World’s Columbian Exposition.

You know its summer when the water fountains are finally turned on!

I love this area…its a nature preserve, so it’s usually the cleanest part of the park.

Unfortunately, the people using the park aren’t typically very environmentally conscientious.  There are blue bins everywhere (our city’s recycling program), but mostly trash gets put in them.  I didn’t know a nylon folding chair could be recycled:

These guys are few and far between…so there’s a lot of trash blowing around usually.  Someday we may have “Lincoln Park Status,” and we’ll see these guys more often.  For now, we’re lucky to get the lawn mowed on a regular basis (as you can see in some of the shots…we have a huge dandelion infestation).

Its okay, though.  I’m just glad they’ve cleaned it up as much as they have in the past several years!

There are some really gorgeous buildings, too, that are historic landmarks.  The boat house and what I call the beach house (in the summer they fill the area in front of it with water and create a swimming beach) are the closest to our house.

And of course, there are many many playgrounds, much to Desi’s joy.  This one has become our favorite because there are tons of slides and little walkways to toddle around on.

And, a swing.

I love that from many points in the park, there is a clear view of downtown. It kind of makes the urban oasis feeling more pronounced. There’s one REALLY big hill that you can climb and get a full view of downtown…but it was at the end of our walk on this day, and we were both too tired to make the hike. But here’s a small glimpse of the Sears..ahem, I mean Willis…Tower.

At the end of our summer-like day, we had a summer-like dinner to eat while we watched the Cubs game.  Chicago-style hot dogs (no ketchup, please!!), tater tots and baked beans.  I know, so nutritious.

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Sports Fan???

April 25, 2010

I like sports.  I also like indie music, Wes Anderson movies, wear vintage clothes and big glasses, and used to hang out at places like Inner Town and Club Foot (before I had a baby).  Oh, and I’m a girl.  So its not really typical for someone like me to like sports so much, but I do.  I especially like baseball, football and tennis, but I watch basketball playoffs and will even watch hockey if the Blackhawks get into the quarterfinals of the Stanley Cup.  And when I say I like sports, I really mean I LOVE sports.  During football season, Sunday’s are sacred.  We almost never make plans to do anything but watch games all day.  And not just the Bears, but all of them.  During baseball season, I watch almost every Cubs game, and do my best to keep up on whats going on with the other teams in our division.  I even watch Sportscenter on a semi-regular basis, especially during football season and towards the end of baseball.  I know stats, injuries, jargon…I can keep up with the experts to an extent.  I played tennis most of my life, so it’s obvious why I know all that stuff about it.  But don’t ask why I’m so into the others…I just really like it!

One time my friend Jen and I were on the bus, and this guy and I struck up a conversation about the Cubs because Desi was wearing his Cubs hat.  Next thing you know, we’re discussing off season trades and injuries on the Bears.  When we got off the bus, Jen couldn’t get over the conversation I’d just had…she couldn’t believe I knew so much!  Its just not normal for someone like me to be so into it.  But I forget that its not typical.  Today, at a party, I overheard a guy telling another guy that the Cubs were beating the Brewers 11-1.  I called to him across the room, “11-1??  Really?”  And he looked at me kind of weird, and said “yeah,” slightly snobbishly.  I was taken aback because I was expecting excitement, the same way he was telling his friend about it.  I guess he was just surprised that I cared.

Luckily my husband, Jason, likes sports as much as I do…which is funny, because he’s not your typical jock either.  He’s a musician/artist/skateboarder that loves football, basketball, soccer and baseball.  And we have a few friends that like some sports, but not like us, so we stick together.  🙂  We’re hoping that someday Desi will share our love for it, and maybe even play so that we can go to his games.  Hipster soccer mom?

Central Park Squirrel

March 7, 2010

I was going through old photos today, and came upon this.  We saw this squirrel in Central Park a few years ago…it was literally the BIGGEST squirrel I’ve ever seen.  And it was pretty cute, too.  They’re definitely fed well in NYC!  🙂

In the Dark

March 3, 2010

Before we had Desmond, I really didn’t know much about babies, or being a parent.  I thought I did, since I have 4 siblings that are younger than me, but I guess I wasn’t around enough (I didn’t live with them) to see what its really like.  I knew it was going to be difficult the first three months or so, and that it would change our life.  And it ended up not being as difficult as I thought it would be, I think because I really prepped myself for that.  But there were so many things that I didn’t know, big things, that now it seems like I should have.

1.  At one point someone (either my Bradley childbirth teacher or my sister-in-law) asked me how long I was planning on nursing Desi for.  I think this was even after he was born, like in the first few weeks.  I had a lot of trouble breastfeeding, and solicited a lot of help from other moms, so this was in one of my conversations with them.  I don’t even remember the context of the question, but I answered, “six months.”  She then plainly asked, “why?”  Hmmm…good question.  I had no idea, it just seemed like a decent amount of time to nurse your infant.  She asked if I was going back to work then, and I definitely had no plans to.  Jason and I decided early on after Desi was born that I was going to be a stay-at-home mom.  So why stop nursing at six months?  The real problem here was that I had no idea that a baby has to have either breast milk or formula for the first year of their life.  I thought that since a baby started eating solids at six months, then that was it.  If you continued breastfeeding after that, it was just because you wanted to.  Once I figured all that out, it was a no-brainer that I would continue to nurse Desi until he was a year.  Then I started reading even more on it, and found out (among other things) that the American Pediatric Association recommends nursing until 2 years old.  So I decided I would just let Desi self-wean…most babies are ready to be done with it by the time they’re 2 anyway.  I think, though, that once the pain during nursing went away, it was a lot easier to say that.  I couldn’t imagine putting up with that pain for a year…I’m so glad things got better and I didn’t have to make that decision.

2.  My Aunt Judy asked me at some point what we thought our sleeping arrangement might be with Desi once he was born.    I was adamant that Desi wouldn’t sleep with us.  Don’t ask me why…I really have no idea.  It just sounded good.  And it seemed so simple.  To me, it was easier to get an infant to sleep in their crib than to get a toddler out of your bed and into their own.  Ha!  That changed on night #1.  If I could have slept with Desi in my hospital bed, I would have.   He was so small, and innocent, and most of all, needed me.  And it was so much easier!  When you have to get up to nurse a baby every two hours, its much better if they’re right there, rather than in another room.  And he was happy, slept more, for longer periods of time, and almost never cried, and is still that way.  I would have to say now that I think it will be much easier to get a toddler out of your bed and into their own rather than getting an infant to sleep on their own because you can reason with a toddler.  Infants don’t understand why they’re suddenly all alone, so they cry…its the only thing they know how to do to communicate!

3.  I thought my life would be over for awhile once Desi was born.  No more going to brunch, out shopping, or anything outside of the house for at least 3 months.  Once again, I don’t know why I thought this way, but I did.  I guess I didn’t think there was a place for crying babies in restaurants, just like there’s no place for them in a movie theater.  So when my BFF came to stay with me for a few days when Desi was 3 weeks old, and she said, “OK!  We’re going out to lunch tomorrow.  I need to get you guys out of the house.”  I thought, EEEK!  No way!  I can’t believe she actually wanted to take us out!  What if he cried?  What if he was fine until our food came, and then he cried, and I couldn’t get him to stop?  Needless to say, he did fine.  Actually, he usually did pretty great in restaurants because it was loud, and the white noise lulled him to sleep.  If I would have been more comfortable nursing in public, it would have been even better…we usually had to time it so that he wouldn’t be hungry while we were out.  (Which was basically all the time…we had very small windows of time to work with).  It was kind of a bummer when he grew out of the phase where he would just sleep in the infant seat while we went places.  But quickly he was old enough for the high chair, and it was all good again.

4.  The one thing I really wish people would have made more clear to me was how often your baby needs to nurse.  I had NO IDEA that I was just going to be a full time milk maid.  Desi had to nurse every 2 hours, if not more, for almost the first year of his life.  And at first, those nursings usually take about 30-40 minutes, and that every 2 hours is from the BEGINNING of the nursing.  And I say 2 hours loosely.  A lot of the time I would have to start nursing him again only a half hour after we were finished.  He was ALWAYS hungry.  Add to that the fact that it was really painful to nurse him for the first 4 or 5 months…it felt like torture.  The time really creeps up on you, too, especially when you have company over, or you’re at someone’s house or something.  He says he’s hungry, and you think, “I just fed you!,” but you look at the clock, and its actually been almost 3 hours!  No wonder he’s hungry! Luckily after they turn about 6 or 7 months, they get really good at finishing quickly and you can be done in about 10 minutes total.

There are a million other things that I didn’t know about being a parent, having a baby, or about myself, really.  But these things were really huge “Aha” moments of mine.  I’m sure there are still things that I don’t know, and that I’ll figure out someday.  But that’s part of the fun of being a parent…you kind of have to wing it and figure out things as you go along.  🙂

New Job?

February 20, 2010

I just found out this week that the store where I work part-time is closing this summer, so I have a huge dilemma!  I don’t know of anywhere else that I can get a job like this.  I’m paid very well, and only have to work 1-2 days a week, and can take time off pretty much whenever I want.  I don’t really want to work.  Its kind of a hassle, and a bummer because we only get one day a week to spend as a family.  But the extra money has become much needed, and I don’t think we can survive without it.  I’m definitely not going to find another position like this out there!  And I don’t want to go back to work full time, because Jason and I would rather I be home with Desi than putting him in day care.  In my field, with the schedule that I would have to work, I would never get to see my family.  Its a sacrifice that we hopefully never have to make, and we’ll do everything possible to not let that happen.  In the meantime, we just need something to get us by until Jason’s business grows a little more!

The one thing that really appeals to me and I would like to do someday is teach natural childbirth classes, like Bradley or Lamaze.  I started looking into is as soon as I found out the store was closing, and am a little overwhelmed with it!  My choice would be to teach Bradley, because that’s what we learned and I really like the husband-coached method.  But unfortunately I don’t even know if I’ll get accepted into the program to become an instructor.  On the application, there’s an area where you indicate if you had any pain medication during your own birth, and no area to indicate that you had c-section.  So I would have to check off that I had pain medication, but wouldn’t be able to explain that I had a c-section after attempting natural birth.  And there’s a notation saying that they may not choose women who have had pain medication at any time during their birth.  Wow!  I’m going to keep looking into it more, and am going to speak with my Bradley instructor about it.  In the meantime, I really have to figure out what I’m going to do short term!  Any ideas would be welcome.  🙂

but on second thought, people just aren’t passionate enough.  At least liberals aren’t.  We just get all mad and stuff, then throw our hands up and say “I’m moving to Canada.”  Nobody will ever do anything (except move to Canada…seriously, one of my friends really did).  If anyone does anything, it will be the conservatives, with their guns and their Tea Party and their Fox News.  Its really scary how divided our country is right now!  It overwhelms me to think about it, and I kind of get a feeling of defeat.  We’ll never have universal healthcare, it will just get harder and harder to be middle class and our country will continue to get more and more conservative.  In the meantime, Jason and I will continue to build our little army of socialists, and band together with other socialists, and who knows what might happen….

Nighttime Parenting

January 22, 2010

If you really want to get me upset, start telling me how I should parent my child at night.  I mean, so upset that my face immediately turns red and my voice starts shaking.  Its probably overreaction, 95% of the time, and really, what business is it of theirs, so why bother?  But I can’t help it.  It really bothers me.

I think Jason and I, and a select few of our friends, are really in the minority in this country on how we parent our children during the night.  Its totally normal for babies to wake during the night, even as old as two years, especially breast-fed babies.  They are looking for comfort for some reason, and its up to the parent to attend to those needs.  Desmond actually slept for long periods of time at night at a way younger age than most breast-fed babies, so we were lucky.  But it has never really been a huge issue with me when he has “rough” nights, needing to nurse every couple of hours.  I just bring him to bed with us, and when he needs to nurse I’m right there for him.   Sure, I’m tired the next day, but I usually just make sure I take a nap with him at some point and I’m fine.  Plus, I was prepared for this!  I knew that having a baby is hard work, and sometimes you don’t get your beauty sleep.

Our method of parenting is known as “attachment parenting.”  I actually didn’t know we had a specific style of parenting, or that there was a label for it…we were just doing what we felt was right.  Then I started reading a parenting book that was recommended to us by our Bradley birthing teacher (“The Baby Book” by the Sears’) and reading stuff online because people were giving us advice that was different than what we were doing, and I wanted to look more into it.  That’s when I learned about attachment parenting, and I learned that what we were doing was absolutely fine, if not what is best for a breast-fed baby.  What we do will not make Desi manipulative, spoiled or over-dependent.  Research has shown that it actually helps babies gain independence, and establishes trust.  When he has needs, he communicates that to us and we do our best to meet those needs.  Long before he could use any sign language or say any words, I knew what he needed based on his non-verbal cues.  Desmond almost never cries.  He doesn’t really need to!  But letting him cry when he was an infant just wasn’t an option for us.  I feel like he would think we abandoned him!  And now he knows that we are there when he needs him.  At a year old, he is sleeping about 10-12 hours on his own, in his own room, most of the time, and has been on and off since he was about 5 months old.  And if he wasn’t, I really wouldn’t be worried about it, because its totally normal for him to wake up sometimes.

I won’t go into how I feel about “sleep training,” such as the Ferber Method, other than to say that its not for us.   I like the relationship I have with my son, and the closeness we have together.  I don’t feel like I’m coddling him at all, or making him too dependent on me.  But if someone feels differently, I really wish they would just keep it to themselves.

Reading materials for the curious:

http://kellymom.com/parenting/sleep/sleep.html

http://www.askdrsears.com/html/10/t130100.asp