Archive for the 'Waxing Nostalgic' Category

A Few of My Favorite (Preggo) Things

Another design-challenged, but well-intentioned collage by yours truly.

My sister-in-law and cousin are both expecting in May and it got me thinking about simple – and sometimes strange, sometimes obvious – life savers from when I was pregnant (and some things I still swear by):

Crack creams – I thought I knew how to soothe dry, cracked, itchy skin till I was 8 months pregnant during a brutal Chicago winter. Palmer’s Soothing Oil is the Cadillac of dry skin solutions. But if you can’t deal with basically spraying Pam on your body (albeit nice-smelling Pam), try Johnson’s Creamy Baby Oil (I like Shea & Cocoa Butter). These are both still part of my daily routine in the winter.

OMG Shoes – I love my Chuck Taylors, but they became too narrow for my bloated feet. Men’s Converse One Star sneakers are a little wider than women’s and cheaper than Chucks, but still say “See, I can hang at the punk show! Um, but there’ll be some seating, right?” They sell them as slip-ons or with Velcro straps, too, for when you’re done with shoelaces! For work, I loved Sketchers mary janes w/the stretchy elastic strap – kind of like these.

OMG Boobs – Nips love lanolin – plus it’s natural and safe for breast-fed babies, even if with its consistency, color and stank, it might as well be earwax. I still use it on my cuticles.

Pro Nails – I think even if you have a partner who gives regular foot rubs and massages (god bless ’em), go out and get all pretty and pampered when you’re preggo. You deserve an occasional mani/pedi and salon or spa day.

Comfort Food – We all have our oddball cravings and stockpiles of must-have foods. Have at it. Mine were Cheez-Its and Jamba Juice. I was a regular of the Ogilvie train station’s JJ – the guy at the counter literally saw me coming from a mile away and had those oranges in the blender. I’m the reason JJ smoothies are now offered in your grocer’s freezer (and why my son will never be Vitamin C deficient).

Blue Jean Baby Queen – We are all guilty of it – let’s squeeze into our regular jeans till we are busting at the seams because we are PROUD, damn it! (At least the first time around.) I say just buy the jeans with the big elastic band already. They get the job done and are cute where they need to be cute and comfy where they need to be comfy.

Big ‘n’ Thrifty – I did not buy a lot of new maternity clothes because they seem overpriced, even at the big boxes. Instead, I shopped the plus-size and maternity sales racks with the exception of some outfits for a few special occasions.

Get Happy – Happy mom = happy baby. I  mean, we should all strive for happiness anyway, but particularly when you’re carrying your unborn baby, you should be more sunshine and less rain, even on cloudy days. For me it was about surrounding myself with things that brought me joy – enjoying foods that made me happy, relaxing with books and TV that made me laugh, getting the house ready for the baby, and going out and trying to do as much as I could when I felt up to it. And I think that’s at least partially why I have a cheerful son.

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Where I’m From

I am from the rumble of freight trains, the Land of Lincoln, lunch buckets, big shoulders and Statesville.

I am from the brown brick-and-cedar ranch – the one with a seasonal wreath on the front door and a garage perpetually clacking with car projects.

I am from the dooryard violet, tall corn and lush soybean, a glittery metropolis by a great lake.

I am from Gallaghers and Stahoviaks, Geri and Jerry and Mary Lou and Bernie – generous and care-taking, hard-working and driven.

I am from proud Irish farmers and determined Scot-German laborers.

From “walk in like you own the place” and “what can I do to help?”

I am from Catholics, entirely – from parishes like St. Raymond’s, St. Mary’s St. Patrick’s.

From the Guild Ship Lucy to Manhattan, Ill., corned beef and cabbage, and draught beer.

I am from the wood-paneled living room walls dotted with family portraits, vintage Coca-Cola ads and owl art. I am from the trippy apple wallpaper in the kitchen on Galena Drive; gold shag carpet, olive green appliances, the forbidden fronch room. I am from fire and famine and depression and war. I am from kitsch and love food and Duct Tape and fast cars. I am from the very best.

Well, that was a lot of fun. Thanks Kate, for the inspirational blog, and Fred First for the template. Your turn.

Record Store Day and Waxing Nostalgic

Crows Nest Music, Crest Hill., Ill. (closed)

It’s Record Store Day! I hope you’re taking your little noisemakers to the local record store today, even if you’re like us and the closest is a little hole-in-the-wall in a plaza two towns away.

When we were kids (memory lane, here we go!) there was a big warehousey record store called Crow’s Nest Music in Crest Hill, Ill., on the top of the hill on Route 30, decked out in bright, hand-painted wooden cutouts of Prince, David Lee Roth, Madonna and other ’80s music icons. The shrink-wrapped records were neatly organized by genre in handmade lacquered wooden bins. It was like a Shangri-La for music lovers. I thought it was the coolest place ever when I was little and it was always a treat when my folks took us – usually around Chrsitmas to find that coveted, must-have album that the mall sold out of (“Thriller,” anyone?!).

When we were in high school in the ’90s, a few of my best friends ended up working there, rocking those sweet VIP lanyard/name tags – and they always reaped coolest swag from the labels. The work force was kind of culty, there were your token music snobs. If you’ve seen “Empire Records’ or “High Fidelity” you know what I’m talking about.

But that was sort of the beauty of the experience. Many of us visited largely to be schooled about why the CD we were looking for sucked and “Why don’t you instead check out this obscure, influential XYZ band/artist?” It was an education. It was also a gathering place to hear advanced albums piped through the store; listen to the rock gospel according to the local record store clerk; learn who’s touring, where and when; score a promo sampler or zine; and find out who’s looking for a new drummer, etc. Some of the stores hosted live shows, special events, giveaways and tent sales.

When I started college and began writing music reviews and band features – and eventually peddling my own music zine – I found myself working closely with Chicago’s fine record stores from Reckless Records to Laurie’s Planet of Sound. I was a little more grown up. My tastes improved. I finally had something to give back.

These days, I continue to obsess over music (ya think?). With the widespread decrease of music retailers, particularly mom-and-pops, Record Store Day is that much more special to share with my family.

Don’t get me wrong, love the availability and convenience of digital music. I love the instant accessibility to all things music online from band bios to lyrics, from Internet radio to fan forums. I’d never accuse Steve Jobs of killing the music industry. But I love record stores and I just hope there will always be bricks and mortar for this important experience – and preferably not in the context of a museum.


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