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Hello Chicago

I made it to BlogHer. My friends and family provide a supportive network but I know some thought I was crazy when I said I was going to a blogging conference. It made me think about some months back when contests galore were happening, giving away free trips to BlogHer ’09. Many asked the same question—why do you blog? When I first started it was a way to hone my writing chops and showcase my work since I was starting out in freelance writing career. I started out as a mommy blogger, though I didn’t know the term existed. The Mama Chronicles has gone through a few transformations since January 2007. Most recently, I dedicated a blog to my growing list of recipes, so that means I’m also a food blogger . I had taken a break from this blog simply because I didn’t think I could manage them both. One thing I find is that I always come back here when there’s something causing me angst. Then the lightbulb went off as I was walking home from dropping the kids off at camp and daycare. I blog because it allows me to carve out an identity I often feel I’ve lost as I get deeper entrenched in motherhood. I love being a mom but I was a fiercely independent person in my former life. I could always retreat into my own corner and nurture myself as needed. Motherhood, and marriage for that matter, have a way of zapping time and energy—a double whammy. Blogging here is a way to let my hair down. And even though I often write about the kids and the Mr., it’s a place I can call my own. I hope when you’re here, you feel the same way. Moi maison et toi maison (Does that sounds right Ilana?). Thanks for joining me in the journey. Help yourself to the chocolate peanut cupcakes on the counter and it’s 5:00pm somewhere, so visit one of my favorite mamas, Ilina, over at Dirt & Noise. She’s just one of the many bloggers I’d like to introduce you to in the coming weeks.

I’m pretty protective of my kids. I’m also not crazy about them growing up since I know I can’t, well protect them every step of the way. All this kitty stuff is also making me realize how life is just a series of fleeting moments, passing way too fast.

With IRP, weaning from the boob came pretty natural. I was working in the restaurant business and as her schedule changed, coinciding with the restaurant’s lunch rush, I dropped a pumping session. Then one night, as I rocked her to sleep and went to offer some milk, she turned her head away. She was only seven months. I was crushed. As a working mama, breastfeeding was an important link.

So, here we are with kiddie number two. Fourteen months later, I’m still breastfeeding. Am I making for lost time with her sister, or just addicted? Yes, she drinks cow’s milk, does the bottle and sippy cup thing, but I love the feeling of her suckling, knowing I’m giving her something no one else can. It’s time to move on though. I need my body back and these D cup boobs have gotta go. I miss my old clothes and, besides, it’s the green thing to do by fitting back into them instead of buying new ones, right? (Just agree with me, ok?).

Last night was the first time since I’ve been putting her to bed that no booby juice was offered. She was a bit peeved but did fall asleep. When she woke at 4am, again no mama’s milk and this time she was down right pissed. The screaming lasted almost two hours. Still, I resisted the urge and finally gave her a bottle of milk at six a.m. (which she threw back at me). And, so is this the beginning of the end or a new beginning? She’s becoming more independent and I’ll be able to wear my old tops again without the aid of a safety pin for security.

All Eyes on Me

I’m a frugal gal and pride myself on never paying full price. I’ve gotten $400 dresses for $50. When it comes to skincare, though, I make no sacrifices. My aunt who’s 67 and doesn’t look a day over 50 always taught me that I’ve only got one face and need to invest in it daily. Still, I had minor heart failure this week when I went to Bloomingdale’s to buy a jar of eye cream.

Let me start by saying I have very fair skin. I also suffer from allergies and have very thin undereye tissue, so dark circles are a part of life regardless of how much sleep I get (and there’s not much of that happening these days). The most expensive stuff I’ve ever used was this miracle cure the Mr. actually bought me as a gift, and that was $95. The product was eh and I ended up throwing the tube away (yeah, I know I should’ve returned it…).

Well, this sample of Zelens Skin Science Intensive Triple-Action Eye Cream was, pardon me for lack of better words, eye opening. I knew something was different the moment I put it on. It had a velvety feel I’ve never experienced in an eye cream. When I woke the next morning, my eyes still felt soft and smooth, so it absorbed and was obviously still doing the job 12 hours later. I washed my face and reapplied a bit more to start the day. Not only did my undereye concealer go on smoother, it also stayed put throughout the day. When I did refresh it for an evening event, my undereye area was still so hydrated, there was no need to reapply it before dabbing on some more concealer.

Why the informercial you ask? No, this isn’t a sponsored post, though I sure wish it was! I marched into Bloomie’s the other day, empty sample package in hand and asked for a jar of this magic potion and handed over my credit card. Did you realize the important step I missed? I managed to keep a straight face when the sales guy rang it up and announced with a smile “that’ll be $173″. My heart just skipped a beat again as I typed the price. I signed the charge and walked away. Still reeling from the shock, I walked into the men’s room by accident. I was in Soho, and almost died when one of the modelesque guys turned around and looked at me.

Of course I tweeted about the price and lots came out to say return it. Thing is the cream really does work, and if lasts as long as promised it’ll only come out to $1 a day. That doesn’t seem like a steep price to pay for beauty without the aid of needles or a knife. Besides the cat is on day two in the insanely expensive kitty hospital (the Mr.’s not ready to give on Sam the cat yet) and underwent a blood transfusion today, so what the heck is another $170 to keep mama looking better for another six months.

Tiny Instruments

Two posts, in one day and before lunchtime. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you wake at 5:00am. Those following me on twitter know our kitty, Sam, spent the night at the animal hospital. It’s a critical care center and our vet recommended it based on the chance he might need a blood transfusion and not many places can do this if necessary.

This feels like a Seinfeld episode come to life. I mean, we have two kids, two college educations to worry about and we’re spending thousands of dollars on the family pet? I remember the day the little guy came to be part of our family. It was in Cape Cod almost 12 years ago. I watched the kids next door torture him with their dog and thought Sam was their pet too. Then Labor Day came, the nasty brood packed up and Sam literally showed up on the back deck of the rental house after the most torrential storm. The Mr., back then the Boyfriend, asked if we could bring him inside. Like a mom to a child, I said if you do that you have to be willing to keep him. Anything less would’ve been like giving a homeless person a hot meal and sending them on their way.

We went to the local vet, had him checked out. Found out the little cat I was calling Samantha was really Sam, and registered him with the local authorities in case he was indeed lost. They told us if he wasn’t claimed by time we left in a few days, he was ours to keep. The day we packed the car, the Mr. decided to let Sam have one last hurrah in the backyard. He figured if Sam came back to us, then it was meant to be. I watched from the kitchen window in tears, thinking we’d never see him again. When it was time to go, I patted my hands on my thighs and said “Come here boy”, and out Sam came running through the grass and weeds. He’s been with us ever since. He has a Christmas stocking, and my 6 year old includes him in every family picture she draws.

So now, we wait. The sonogram showed nothing. Later today, the blood tests will show if it’s an infection or a tumor. Let’s pray infection because so far the money for our fifth anniversary getaway is out the window. I’d hate think the kids have to settle for community college if it’s a tumor.

There have been so many times I wanted to post in the last couple of months but life has gotten busy. This morning, though, I came across something that made me literally stop what I was doing and write this post. Just over three months ago, I blogged about a little girl, Maddie, who left this world way to soon. I’ve been amazed reading her mother, Heather, come through this difficult situation. I mean, who can ever imagine losing their baby? Well, that Heather, is a pretty amazing woman. I admire her strength and perseverance. Her husband Mike, sounds pretty great too.

Together, they’ve created Friends of Maddie to help ease the transition into the NICU for other families. After paying Maddie’s funeral expenses, this is how they decided to honor her memory using the money leftover from the generous donations received from around the world. Go here to make a donation and enter the raffle to win a Dell 10″ mini-notebook, so wonderfully donated by Intel.

Mom. Wife. Writer. Chef. Woman. There’s no one word to sum up who I am. I wear many hats and most days I’m not sure which one defines me. Perhaps it changes depending on what’s most pressing in my life at any given second. I’m not sure where this post is coming from but I felt the need to write. I’ve had a lot on my plate these days and sometimes wonder if it’s too much. Should I be weeding out some of the non-essentials on my to do list?

I started out the year quite involved with the PTA at my daughter’s school. What began as a co-chair of the Wellness Committee evolved into de-facto chair since my partner, as passionate as she remains to the cause, got a new job that gobbled up every moment of her free time. I spent the first two months on a renegade cause to get soap and towels in the school restrooms. Sounds like real anarchy, eh? The principal had decreed these necessary tools for proper health and hygeine were best kept in the classrooms, lest kids clog up toilets or squirt soap all over the floor. After numerous emails, some community activism and calls to the DOE, I won the battle and a letter soon went home to all families that our concerns had been heard and all restrooms would be properly stocked. It’s an ongoing battle to keep them replenished due to lack of priority and an understaffed custodial team. So, why I am rambling?

I had to dramatically cutback on my volunteer work at the school as my own professional life needing much tending to. Work became very busy and since the bills have to be paid, and truth be told I really love what I do, I had to re-focus my priorities. As PTA elections rolled around two weeks ago I started feeling extremely guilty. I just checked the list of officers for the 2009-2010 school year to see there is no one listed for the Wellness Committee. Now for all I know, maybe the committee has been moved to the School Leadership Team as discussed with the PTA president eariler in the year. I suspect, though, that no one really understands how important it is to address the sorry state of our school lunch program or fight for simple things like access to supplies to aid in proper handwashing. For now I pack the healthiest lunch possible and tuck a tube of hand sanitizer in Isabella’s lunchbox. That doesn’t solve the big issue though. These are out tax dollars being squandered on red tape and supporting a food system and agribusiness that is robbing our children’s nutrional future.

I feel like I’ve let my IRP down in some way by not continuing my work on the Wellness Committee. I would’ve been happy to help but I don’t have the time to lead. It’s moments like this that remind me how delicate the balance is and humbles me. So, what do I feel like today? A failure, and that’s a label I refuse to accept.

Thought this would be a good note to start the holiday weekend. Sounds like a fun reason to let the kids play hooky if you think they’ve got what it takes to make the cut. Good luck and don’t forget who gave you the scoop. I’ll expect an autograph!

Have a great Memorial Day weekend!

USTA TO HOST THIRD ANNUAL OPEN CASTING CALL FOR CHILDREN

TO PERFORM AT THE 2009 US OPEN

Boys and Girls Age 12 and Under Invited to Audition at Radio City Music Hall on June 8

Former American Idol Runner-Up Diana Degarmo, Ugly Betty Star Mark Indelicato

To Judge on Celebrity Panel

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., May 21, 2009 – The USTA announced today it will host its annual open casting call on Monday, June 8 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City to select children to perform at the 2009 US Open, August 31 – September 13.  Winners will perform live at Arthur Ashe Stadium during night sessions of this year’s US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The auditions are free of charge and will be held from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. ET.  Children 12 years of age and younger as of September 13, 2009, will be asked to sing “America the Beautiful” a cappella in front of a panel of celebrity judges from the music and entertainment industries including Diana Degarmo, the runner-up on Season 3 of American Idol, and Mark Indelicato, from ABC’s hit show Ugly Betty.

“The casting call has quickly become a popular US Open tradition as these young singers continue to captivate the New York crowds,” said Gordon Smith, Executive Director and COO, USTA.

The casting call will officially launch the US Open season, with tickets for the 2009 US Open going on sale to the general public the same day.  Tickets can be purchased by logging on to www.USOpen.org or by calling 1-866-OPEN-TIX beginning at 9 a.m. on Monday, June 8.  Tickets can also be purchased on-site at the casting call at the Radio City Music Hall Box Office from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The USTA will announce the final selections in mid-July.  The winners will receive a US Open gift bag and tickets to their performance session — in addition to exposure in front of as many as 24,000 fans in Arthur Ashe Stadium.  For more information on the open casting call, including the official rules, log on to www.USOpen.org.

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