Tantrums and bouncy houses

My kid has been having tantrums all the time lately.  According to Google, this is normal for toddlers.  Last week he was pitching a fit because I wouldn’t let him eat a shriveled waffle he found under the couch (the last time we had waffles was a week ago….).  In his defense, he probably got a little confused considering I was okay with him eating the day old raisins and half eaten apple off the floor, but at wrinkled waffles, I draw the line.  When I took it away he threw himself on the ground screeching at the top of his lungs.  When I left the room to put away laundry, he stopped, got up and followed me into the bedroom then flopped himself on the floor in front of me and continued his tantrum.  Maybe we can get him a drama scholarship.

Yesterday my older son had off school.  By 9:15 the kids were driving me crazy (read: I drank all the coffee), so we headed to the fun zone at Arena Sports.  My kids love those giant inflatables, and there’s a Starbucks drive through on the way.

I had one of my proudest mom moments watching my older son escort his little brother around, insisting he follow him down the giant inflatable slide.  When big brother suggested I follow them into the inflatable maze, I thought, “why not?”

About seventeen seconds after entering the massive inflatable maze, we encountered a stout climbing wall leading to a slide. Figuring my younger son was to small to navigate it on his own, I hoisted him up to the top and gently pushed him down.  This was clearly not okay.  Little man threw himself onto the bouncy floor, screeching in anger, “Me do!  Me do!”

“Come on buddy, let’s just keep following brother!”  I said, hopping he would agree. Unfortunately this only seemed to anger him more, and he screamed louder.  Thanks to the inflatable floor each time he punched it with his tiny fists, it hurled his body upward.

Normally in these situations I bribe him.  Probably not the best, but it works.  I hastily grab for my diaper bag and remember its sitting outside the entrance to the jumpy maze.  I reach in my pockets, but all I find is lint.  I offer some to him, trying my best to make it sound enticing.  “If you stop crying and come with mommy, I’ll give you some lint,”  I say in a singsong voice.

For some reason this does not work.  I don’t get it.  Bribing, always works.

“NOOOOO!”  he screams louder, waking his feet on the bouncy floor, causing him to sail into the air.

Since my bribes are futile, I do the next best thing and grab my kicking, screaming toddler and head out.

Only problem is, we’re in a giant bouncy house-maze.  His flopping body propels me against the inflatable walls and I bob around like I’m in a pin ball machine, unable to gain my balance.

Finally we make it around the corner, two feet and we’re out.  We’re up against 2 giant inflatable punching bags.  You’re supposed to squeeze through, all the while squealing with joy (why is this fun?).   I manage to smash my way through, just barely hanging onto my screeching toddler.  At the last second,  three kids come bareling through and I loose my grip.  I grab him by one of his sneakers and try to pull him through the inflatable cylanders masses.  I fall backward and he lands on top of me along with a snot nosed kid in a Star Wars tee.  I scrabble to get up, but , dam the inflatable floor!  (This is what astronauts must feel like).  As much as I struggle, I can’t manage to get up while holding my tantruming kid.  At that point two more kids come flying through the inflatable cylanders and land on top of me, pinning me to the floor of the inflatable purple mass.  The kid in the Star Wars tee, who happens to be siting on my head, starts farting like crazy.  The other three kids burst into laughter and, one of them says, “Hey!  Let’s all start farting!”

At this point it occurs to me, this is how I’m going to die.  Pinned to the floor of an inflatable maze while some kid farts me death.

I think I may be going delirious from the fumes, because I hear someone yelling my name.  And by my name I mean, “MOM!”

“Mom!  WHAT are you doing!  I have been waiting for you for like 7 minutes!  My older son is standing above me, exasperated, hands on hips.

Before I have a chance to think he grabs me by an arm and drags me out of the pile of farting kids over the inflatable slide and out the exit.  I fall onto the floor breathing in the sweet air of the gym, looking behind me just in time to see big brother scrabbling out of the bouncy maze, gripping his still howling brother by the back his tee shirt.

“Dude, stop crying it’s so annoying,” he says,  my younger son stops instantly and follows his beloved big brother across the room.

I sink onto the ground in the far corner of the gym and suck down the remainder of my tall vanilla latte.  It’s cold now, but I’m so happy to have survived the bouncy maze I almost don’t care…almost.

WebMD dispenses a perscription for overreacting

Last Friday my younger son walked into the family room and flopped on to the floor grabbing his stomach and moaning.

“What’s wrong?” I asked

“OW!” he said, pointing to his stomach.

I poked the spot just below his belly button.

“OW!” he said again.

I decided to call the pediatrician, but after remembering the office closes early on Friday I decided to Google it instead.

Fifteen minutes later, after pouring over multiple WebMD articles about toddler stomach pain, I decided that my son had eaten a magnet and it was ripping his intestines in half.  Either that or he had appendicitis.

I hustled the kids out the door and we drove to the ER.  When we entered we were greeted by the triage nurse.

“State your problem please,”  she said in a monotone voice.

“My kid ate a magnet and it’s splitting his intestines in two!” I gasped.

She peered up at me over the top off her red oval glasses.

“Did you see him eat the magnet?”

“Well, no'”   I responded,  “but I looked his symptoms up on online and”…..my voice trailed off.

I’m beginning to think I may have overreacted.  Just a bit.

It doesn’t help that my son is chasing his big brother around the waiting room squealing loudly and tossing magazines into the air.  He could at least act sick sick, I think bitterly to myself.

Moments later we’re ushered into an exam room where we’re greeted by a doctor who looks exactly like Doogie Howser.  He examines my son twice, then pats my arm and says, “Looks fine to me.  But be sure to call if he feels sick again.  And remember, Google doesn’t have an MD.”

Later that night after I’ve tucked the kids in bed, my older son sneaks out of his bed and into the kitchen, where I’m sitting at the table doing homework.

“My throat hurts,”  He whispers.

I fight the urge to open my computer and instead send him back to bed.

“You’ll be fine,”  I said.  And he was.

How I met my mailman

My kid is obsessed with garbage trucks.  Whenever he sees one pass our house he insists we follow it for blocks. So we do.  Walking slowly behind the green and yellow beast as it lumbers down the street,  stopping to ooh and ahh each time it tips the contents of a trash can into the compactor.

We’ve gotten to know our garbage man as a result  (when you slowly follow behind a garbage truck for blocks there’s time to chat).

Our garbage man’s name is Hank.  He’s worked as a garbage man for eighteen years.  Every morning he wakes at 4 am, gets dressed and eats two fried eggs his wife Nancy makes him.  Hank says that’s how she shows him she cares.  He shows her he cares by buying her flowers from the farmer’s market every Sunday.  Yellow tulips are her favorite.  At 4:45 he kisses Nancy, pulls on his worn work boots, knots them twice and heads out the door for “treasure hunting” as he refers to his job.

“What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever found in the trash,” I ask.

“A shoe box full of dentures…it was pretty weird.”

That is odd.

Every Tuesday my kid stands in the window and waves wildly as Hank drives past our house.  Hank always waves back.

Beach Days

Most people head to the beach when the sun beats down.  They spread towels on the sand, strip down to a bikini and sit, basking in the heat.

Not me.  I wait till It’s cloudy, cool and just a bit drizzly.  I pull on my tall black rain boots and walk along the abandoned beach, making prints in the wet sand.

Image

I stop to pick smooth stones up off the ground and watch as my son tosses them into the sea.  They make a plunk sound as they sink into the waves lapping on the shore.

I sit on the cold ground and watch the seagulls  soar overhead.

This is my favorite place to be.

Image

Sliding messages under the door

Dinner at our house is always the same.  My six year old asks, “What’s for dinner?”

I respond with “Chicken, broccoli, pasta” (or something equally horrendous), to which, said six-year old spends forty-five minutes pitching a fit about why I’m a terrible mother for making him eat such horrible food.

Tonight we had chicken.  Which is quite possibly his least favorite food on earth, except maybe pizza (what kid doesn’t like pizza?).  Dinner goes as follows:

“Eat your chicken.”

“WHAT! You want me to eat chicken! I HATE chicken!”

“Seriously?  You eat chicken nuggets ALL the time…it’s basically the same thing (apparently this is not true if you are 6).

He takes the teeniest nibble of chicken and gags like he ate an octopus tentacle, choking out the words, “Ugh, this is the worst food I have EVER eaten.”  He’s a little dramatic.  I’m feeling annoyed and send him to his room.   He’s not thrilled about this and slams his door multiple times to let him know how he feels about the situation.

Moments later a note emerges from under the door.

Image(You let me out of here now.)

Followed by:

Image(I will only eat chicken again if you get me two Lego sets.  Expensive sets).

And just to make things clear:

Image(You are not allowed to tell me what to do.)  I think this ones my favorite…

My husband and I sit at the table, laughing silently, when we’re greeted by this final note….

Image(Do what the first note says, Please.)  At least he remembered to be polite.

Although a part of me is feels annoyed that something as simple thing as dinner is (almost always) complicated by son’s ridiculous adversity to food, I’m feeling equally proud of his ingenuity.

Eventually I let out of his room.  Later that night, after I’d tucked him in and said good-night and the drama of dinner had been long forgotten this note slid silently under the door.

Image(I love you so so much!!)

The Only Way to Eat Pizza-Chicago Style

After spending two years in Seattle and really missing Chicago Style Pizza–which they don’t seem to have here, I finally decided to try to come up with my own version of the Chicago delicacy.  First off, the thing that makes Chicago Style Pizza unique is that the cheese is on the bottom.  This might seem odd, but it actually means you can add waaay more cheese this way.  The second unique thing is the crust.  It’s a thick, buttery perfection.  So after two years of missing Chicago style pizza and a few tips from a friend and former Gino’s East employee, I put together a recipe of my own.  It’s a little labor intensive, but totally worth the effort.  You’ll never want to eat boring thin crust pizza again.

Chicago Style Pizza Recipe:

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 clove garlic, smashed

2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 tablepoon balsamic vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 and 1/2 lbs mozzarella cheese, finely sliced

1 lb Italian sausage

1 bell pepper, sliced

1 onion sliced

Directions: To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a saucepan till hot.  Saute the garlic for 1 minute, then add the spices, sugar and salt; saute for 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomatoes and balsamic vinegar.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until thickened, about 30-45 minutes.

Heat oven to 475 degree F.

Oil a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet.  Press dough into skillet.

Layer mozzarella in the bottom of skillet.  Top with (cooked) Italian sausage, onions, and peppers.  Finally top with sauce.

Bake for 30 minutes.

 

Chicago Style Pizza Dough

3/4 cups warm water

1 heaping teaspoon active dry yeast

1/2  teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoons salt

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup Semolina flour (or cornmeal)

1 and 3/4 cups all purpose flour

In large bowl combine water, yeast, salt and sugar.  Let sit till foamy, about 5 minutes.

Add oil and semolina flour and stir.

Slowly add all purpose flour until it’s fully combined and dough is no longer sticky.

Turn onto floured surface and knead 2-3 minutes.

Place in oiled bowl and let rise for 1 and 1/2 hours.Image

Chicago-My Kind Of Town

I returned today from a  (far to short) trip to my hometown Chicago for a wedding.  As always, whenever I come back from trips home, Seattle always seems grayer and rainier then ever.  Chicago is without a doubt one of my favorite cities, so what is it about it that makes it so great anyway?  Here our seven things I love most about my beloved Chicago:

1)  It’s easy to get around.  Thanks to the fact that the city was was designed on a grid all the streets lead into one another, so you can easily find your way around. (unlike some cities I know where the streets don’t connect and you’re forced to be forever depended on your car’s GPS….).  Even without a car you can get around thanks to the public transportation system (aka the EL), which will take you anywhere you want to go from Wrigley Field on the North side to Sox Park on the South side (although, as any true Chicagoan knows you’d never have any need to go to both those venues).  Plus it’s color coded and easy to use (seriously, my mom can do it).

2) Skyscrapers:  What can I say, I love (really) tall buildings.  There’s just something awe-inspiring about walking among towering glass giants.  The Sears Tower may no longer be the tallest building in the world, but that doesn’t make the view from the top any less amazing.  Not to mention the city boasts some pretty fantastic architecture, pretty much everywhere you go you’ll see a masterpiece  from the cathedral downtown, to University of Chicago campus to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home in Oak Park.

3) Museums.  Chicago has so many museums to pick from.  Field Museum of history is probably my favorite.  Nothing beats standing beneath towering million year old dinosaur bones.

4)  A colorful history:  Chicago is  home to Barack Obama, Jazz , Al Capone and Frank Sinatra, among others.  If you ever get a chance take a weird Chicago tour and learn all about Chicago’s seedy underbelly; or visit the History Museum in Lincoln Park.

5) Waterfront–Chicago’s lakefront can’t be beat in summer.  Stroll along the lakefront path alongside Lake Michigan while taking in the view of the skyline.

6) Diverse People:  Chicago really is a melting pot, home to people of all ethnicities and all walks of life.

7) Food: Thanks to the diverse group of people taking up residence in Chicago you can get any kind of food you can think of.  Some of my favorites of which include Roscoe’s chicken and waffles (sounds weird but tastes so good), falafel and chicken shwarma from Al Kayham, or Mexican fare from Rick Bayless at Frontera Grill.  Not only does Chicago have a wide variety of ethnic eats, but they have their own specialties as well, Chicago Style hot dogs and pizza.

These are just a few of the things I love (and miss) about Chicago.  It’s an amazing city and I home to call it my home again some day; although I’m sure when I do be missing all rainy days.