Archive for the 'Writing' Category

Milestones and Musings

The cousins Christmas portrait was a bust. Nothing a meme can't fix!

The cousins Christmas portrait was a bust. Nothing a meme can’t save, though, amiright? Totally showing this to Delilah’s first love interest, BTW. “Hey Delilah, memba when you were a drooly old man? Lol!” Click for the gif.

Fair warning: This is another one of those looong, all-over-the-place posts. It’s not too late to resume facebooking (or whatever you were doing).

And They All Went the F to Sleep … 31 Days Later

I use the term “milestone” loosely when discussing a one-month old, but last night I got decent sleep (which I consider a milestone) because Delilah slept like a champ – up only twice to eat and went down without a bunch of drama and noisemaking. But it took some planning. J stayed up till after midnight with her forcing her to stay awake so she’d be tired once they went upstairs. I don’t remember us having to work this hard to get sleep with Ollie, but I am certain I have baby amnesia because I forgot like 75 percent of what it’s like to have a newborn and am continuously like, “Really, dude?!”

Mostly, though, I’m super-duper smitten with this child. Even when she is up for a three-hour stretch in the middle of the night griping about nothing, I’m like, damn. We’re lucky. Not to mention, I know it could be worse. I don’t even wanna know about colic.

Speaking of sleep, she’s also been napping in her big girl crib in her room. That makes me happy seeing her among her forrest creature friends in the nursery. And a little sad because that means, yup, another milestone.

What else? She also hit the 10-pound mark (and 23 inches), and is hella strong holding up that noggin and flexing those stems. Hercules! Hercules! Hercules!

Here, Feel Like a Superhero for a Few Days. Then Imma Take it Away Like *Poof*! You’re Welcome. Signed, Hormones

You might recall in my previous post boasting about having super-human energy (especially for a new mom on zero sleep recovering from a c-section), plus weight loss like wut. Yeah, that is over, folks. I’m tired. Requiring my morning coffee again. Some of that weight that magically disappeared, magically returned. Not much, but enough that I’m on notice. Which also kind of sucks because I’m nursing and not supposed to be calorie counting. Oh, the paradox!

Which brings me to the fact that I was totally warned about all of this (although not by my OBGYN or all the Dr. Google’ing I’ve been doing about EVERYTHING under the natal sun). No, it was another mom who enlightened me.

So before we had Delilah, I reached out to a friend who, like me, has two kids and writes for a living. She’s a freelancer working from home and I wanted to see how she pulled it off because that’s my goal. She emailed me some amazing advice – down to earth and honest with a dose of funny, just what I needed, but I put off reading it because I got distracted by, um, being a new mom. There was one part in particular I regret not reading sooner. She warned me about the adrenaline/hormone boost you get right after birth and how even though it’s tempting, don’t’ give in. SLEEP. SLEEP, damn it! But I didn’t. And here I am. But it’s getting better.

Silver lining: that little boost came in handy when I was putting out a magazine FOUR days earlier than our normal deadline – just weeks after I was home from the hospital. If you call me supermom or wonderwoman or whatever, I promise not to be all modest about it. I summoned some gritty, primitive part of myself to make this happen, but that’s what you do when you want something bad enough. Or multiple things, in my case. And I’ll do it again. And every time I do it, it, too will get better.

I’m Sorry to Every Mom I’ve Judged for LHIP (Looking Haggard in Public)

Moms can be mean. Harsh. Judgey. Sometimes I’ll see a mom that just looks, um, beat. I think, man, just put some lipstain on or something. Comb yo hair. Lose the sweats. Put on some jeans, lady. But you know what? It’s not always that simple. Life goes on despite your desire to look and feel human.

Sometimes you have to go to the pediatrician looking like you just rolled out of bed (because you did. Because you were up half the night). Sometimes you go to family functions in a button-up flannel instead of that cute, new sweater because it’s easier to nurse with a button-up. Not that you’re doing it in front of everyone (because that’s taboo!), but still. It’s about function.

Sometimes you put off getting your hair did because there’s no time, or let’s face it, no money. It’s not that you don’t care. It’s not that you are oblivious that you have 2-inch roots. It’s not that you’ve given up. You haven’t given up, but there are greater needs and there’s a bigger picture and you know someday you will be your bad bitch self again, skinny jeans and all. Or you tell yourself that, anyway, to get through another day of sweats and spitup.

Seriously, though, being a parent is rough and we have to be easier on moms and dads. From now on, when I see a haggard mom (or look in the mirror), I’ll remember we’re doing the toughest job on the planet (no joke. Oprah knows what’s up) and we’re getting important shit done.

Time for My Guys

I know I can’t give Ollie equal time these days, but you better believe when we’re one on one, I make it count. Like last night during his bedtime, J was at band practice and Delilah was snoozing, so it was just the two of us. I loved curling up with him in his bed and, get this, reading WITH him, not to him. When did THIS happen?!

I remind him how proud I am of him. How big he is. How he’s my “sunshine” and my “best guy.” I indulge his goofy 4-year-old questions (they are endless), I applaud his sometimes hapless efforts to be independent,  but I also keep him in check if he’s pushing his luck. Because you can’t slack on the discipline as difficult as it can be to dish out to a preschooler when an infant needs you.

I thought it would be impossible to share love, attention, pride, joy, etc., between kids. I could not fathom it, right up until the day Delilah arrived. The good news is, you relish both kiddos for different reasons, at different times – sometimes together all at once. And there are moments when both are crying bloody murder and you’re just like fuckthisshit! And that passes.

You might be wondering how my relationship is going with the guy who got me into all of this trouble: J. I don’t know what to say other than, correction: Single moms, you have the toughest job on the planet. And to the people who help single moms – you are soooo awesome.

Having a partner keeps me sane at 3 a.m. when the baby is on her third hour of utter neediness and I want to sleep in the car; makes me laugh despite all the chaos and drama even though my face is too tired to smile; relieves me even if it means he has to stay up WAY late on a work night to entertain/wear out the baby; and takes Ollie pretty much everywhere with him and does his bedtime routine almost every night so I can care for the baby. In addition to all of this (and more), this past weekend, he managed to deck out the house – inside and out – with Christmas, pretty much all by himself (with Ollie’s supervision). I never think I care about Christmas decorations, but they instantly make me all fuzzy and gah when I see them. 

As for how J’s taking to fathering a baby girl, let’s just say a) he’s head over heels in love (naturally) and b) Delilah, you’re going to need ninja skillz if you ever want to hang out with boys before you’re 30. Sorry, but also, you’re welcome.

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Hello. My Name is Erica B. and I am a Happy Suburbanite

This, from Slightly Insulting Chicago Posters, is designed to be funny-offensive. I can take a joke. But allow me to set the record straight about my very much alive hopes, dreams and aspirations as a suburbanite.

The city vs. the suburbs? It’s not that simple. It’s not us against them.

I didn’t leave Chicago for the suburbs because I fell out of love with it. Or because I failed. Or it failed me. Nothing could be further from the truth. Chicago was everything to me.

It’s an unpopular opinion that the suburbs are as adventurous as the big city. You can’t possibly maintain your dignity, passion and integrity out there. You can’t possibly still consider that living.

Newsflash: I’ve lived here for four years (and grew up in one) and I AM FAR FROM DEAD. I love the suburbs.

I still keep up with new music. I still read (we have libraries, too!). I write. I create. I discover new restaurants and eat good food with friends. I attend art shows and farmers markets, and shop at little downtown stores. I visit farms, orchards, museums, parks and enjoy tons of recreation. At home, I even have room for my own real garden! It’s pretty amazeballs. And contrary to what my facebook posts might relate, my new adventures are not all about my kids (though, yeah, some of the best involve them). Oh, and one final revelation: I can visit the city whenever I please.

It’s just common sense. You don’t die when you move. You don’t give up when you have a family. It doesn’t work that way. Adventurous people find adventure. Motivated people don’t care if something doesn’t already exist for them, they can always make it themselves. Creative people don’t need a special place to build, write or dream. They just do it. They rely on their imagination and will, not their coordinates.

So if you’ve transplanted form the city to the burbs or country for family, work, change of pace, cost of living, whatever – don’t EVER feel bad about it. Never feel like a sellout. Never feel ashamed or embarrassed or boring (unless you are boring). Don’t care so much about what’s going on in the city or what you’re missing out on. You have every opportunity to enjoy your life with the people you love wherever you are right now.

Big Ole Blogroll

Clockwise: Samantha Irby, Samantha Moeller, Tavi Gevinson, Jessica Hopper, Nikki McClure, BUST magazine.

A friend asked me how I find good writers and blogs – the short answer is via recommendations from friends and strangers I follow on Twitter, Facebook, WordPress, Tumblr, etc. So below is a list of things that make my time on the webz a little nicer. (Find a blogroll of more great parenting blogs, blogs of my real-life friends, etc., in the lower right margin!)

I’ll keep this updated as I find more lovable things on the trois dubs:

MUSIC
Chris Weingarten: http://1000timesyes.com
Jessica Hopper: http://tiny.abstractdynamics.org
Maura Johnston: http://maura.tumblr.com
Sound Opinions: http://soundopinions.tumblr.com

STYLE
Tavi Gevinson: www.thestylerookie.com
Tula Jeng: www.whorange.net
Alexandria Crahan: http://bluefeatherstyle.blogspot.com
Lula: http://lulamag.com
Papercut: http://www.papercutmag.com

LADY WRITERS
Samantha Irby: bitchesgottaeat.blogspot.com
Anna Goldfarb: www.shmittenkitten.com and shloobykitten.tumblr.com
Emily McCombs: www.xojane.com/author/emily
Kelly Oxford: http://kellyoxford.tumblr.com
Lesley M. M. Blume: http://www.lesleymmblume.com
Miranda July: mirandajuly.com
Diablo Cody: https://twitter.com/diablocody
Amy Sedaris: http://www.amysedarisrocks.com

OTHER READING/VIEWING
Rookie Mag: www.rookiemag.com
BUST: www.bust.com
Granta: www.granta.com
Al Burian: www.alburian.com
It’s That Bitch Brittany: http://itsthatbitchbrittany.tumblr.com

MOM STUFF
Samantha Moeller: www.thehipstermom.com
Mommit (advice): http://www.reddit.com/r/Mommit

ART/COMICS
F Yeah Ghost World: http://fuckyeahghostworld.tumblr.com
Blown New Yorker Covers: http://blowncovers.com
Sam McKenzie: http://samsamsamsam.com
Nikki McClure: nikkimcclure.com
Julie Doucet: www.juliedoucet.net
Daniel Clowes: http://danielclowes.blogspot.com

What blogs/writers do you follow?

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.

March Charity of the Month: The Awesome World Foundation

It all started with an idea. Then a book. Then a sequel. And now a world tour.

LA artist Dallas Clayton wrote a book for his son “about the idea of dreaming big and never giving up,” he explains. “I put it online and my whole life changed forever.”

He’s talking about “An Awesome Book” (which you can now get in hardcover and I urge you to do so if you haven’t already!).

I got this for Ollz when he was a baby. It’s all about following your dreams, no matter how crazy or unpopular. Kids of all ages love his whimsical illustrations and his message is abundantly clear: be true to yourself, have confidence in your ideas and don’t get caught up in the rat race (in a very kid-friendly way, of course).

Clayton started The Awesome World Foundation to give away one book for every copy sold. The giveaways are distributed to schools, hospitals, libraries, camps and shelters both domestically and worldwide.

His second book “An Awesome Book of Thanks!” compliments the idea of dreaming big with the notion of being thankful for all that you have. Another simple, but important life lesson told in Clayton’s trademark playful style.

The Spring 2011 Awesome World Tour kicks off this month. Clayton is looking for book reading venues from traditional places like school and libraries to, well, pretty much wherever a group can gather, in the following states: Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. Email info@veryawesomeworld.com with your ideas!

Donations to the Awesome World Foundation can be made by clicking here. No donation is too small. With your help the Awesome World Foundation can reach more kids and inspire more dreams!

February Charity of the Month: 826CHI

Our February Charity of the Month, 826CHI, is a nonprofit I’m proud to share with you because I was involved in the early stages of its formation (and Art Dad created the logo). My bestie Staci D. was also on the ground floor and a longstanding board member. But enough about us.

No organization in Chicago is more dedicated to excellence in literacy and creative writing than 826CHI, a chapter of author and co-founder Dave Eggers’ 826 National. 826CHI supports students ages 6 to 18 with their creative and expository writing skills and helps teachers inspire their students to write. At its Wicker Park location, it offers drop-in tutoring, after-school workshops, in-schools tutoring, help for English language learners and assistance with student publications.

Should you visit the Chicago location, I’m not gonna lie, you’ll find it rather boring. At least at first. Each chapter across the country has a theme storefront at the tutoring site that sells goods to raise money for the center. Chicago’s is The Boring Store. Spoiler alert! It’s actually an emporium of spywear that outfits its “spy-entele” with the latest and greatest in espionagical wares (please keep this confidential information between us, OK?). The Boring Store also sells items like books featuring students’ work, and 826CHI hosts quirky annual fundraisers like its not-to-miss prom and the wildly popular Moustache-a-thon.

So whether you have time to volunteer, attend an event, grow a mustache or can afford a donation or spy gadget, I encourage you to get involved with the Chicago chapter or one close your home.


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