So Not An Expert

Thank You, So Not an Expert Readers, and Goodbye

Dear Readers:

The time has come to say goodbye.

But first I'd like to thank you for a wonderful 15 months of blogging.

Through it all, you read my rants, opinions, and advice. You fed me news and ideas. Some of you even commented!

In all the writing I'd ever done (feature articles, news reports, press releases, marketing materials, speeches), I'd never written a blog.

At first, I have to admit it was a little scary--the technology (yikes), the new style (I can say that!), and the global audience (we've readers from India and England! OK, one of them is a friend from high school, but that still counts).

I am so glad to have done it. I am elated you were there to read it.

With this final post, I'd like to point you in the direction of so many other blogs worth reading on this fine ChicagoNow network.

The blogroll on this page lists 20 or so of them. A few more great ones off the top of my head that wouldn't fit are: That's Awesome!, Portrait of an Adoption, Mary Tyler Mom, Plate Spinning 101, and When you put it that way....

I sincerely hope you continue reading ChicagoNow. It's a terrific place to read people not published elsewhere (and some who are, but can write more freely here), discover new talent, feel a part of something, and agree or disagree with writers and readers.

The best thing about ChicagoNow? It provides a place for anyone to voice their know, that old express your opinion thing.

Please, please, please consider registering to comment. It takes but a moment and you won't be sorry. Most bloggers love comments--good or bad--and will respond in a timely manner.

You'll feel better for having let it all out. You don't even have to use your real name.

Maybe we'll see each other around on CN. I plan on sticking around to insert my eighty five cents. Inflation.

All the best to you,


Parents Coaching Kids from the Sidelines: Why it Sucks to be THAT Kid



We have all seen this parent. Perhaps you ARE the parent who yells repeatedly across the playing field or pool at a child from the safety and comfort of your bleacher bench or fold-up chair.

Your victim doesn't even need to belong to you, because you just enjoy screaming and treating others around you to your superior knowledge of the game, making the event so much more enjoyable for everyone in attendance.

Or maybe you talk a little more discreetly to anyone who will listen about all the other players, paying special attention to ALL their bad plays.

Despite never having coached, you don't hesitate to criticize the coaches, the referees, the players, and their style of play.

Chances are you have been ejected (or threatened to be ejected) from at least one game.

Every team has at least one of you.

This email I received today will help illustrate why it totally sucks to be your kid:


A mother was making a breakfast of fried eggs for her teenage son. Suddenly the boy bursts into the kitchen.

"Careful! Careful! Put in some more butter! Oh my goodness! You're cooking too many at once. TOO MANY! Turn them! TURN THEM NOW! We need more butter. Oh my! WHERE are we going to get MORE BUTTER? They're going to STICK! Careful!... CAREFUL! I said CAREFUL! You NEVER listen to me when you're cooking! Never! Turn them! Hurry up! Are you crazy? Have you lost your mind? Don't forget to salt them. You know you always forget to salt them. Use the salt. USE THE SALT! THE SALT!"

The mother stared at him. "What's wrong with you? You think I don't now how to fry a couple of eggs?"

The son calmly replied, "I just wanted to show you what it feels like when I'm trying to play soccer."


I cannot stand when parents like you behave this way. Honestly, it ruins the game/match/meet for me. And I know I'm not the only adult who feels this way. Just imagine how terrible it is for the kids...especially your own kid.

Being a team's worst nightmare is wrong on so many levels.

  •  Parents who sideline coach make athletes feel incompetent. The kids are smart and well-trained, so they should know what they are doing. And, if they don't, for the love of sports, let them make a mistake and learn from it. Give them some credit. Please do us all a favor. If you feel you must instruct your child, do it in the car on the way home.
  • If the athletes are doing their jobs out there, they should be focused and in their zone. They should be tuned into the voices of their coach and their teammates. So, they can't (or shouldn't) hear you. As a former swimmer, I can tell you I saw an awful lot of crazy body gestures while I was coming up for air, but I never heard a word anyone ever said. I was focused and there was water in my ear.
  • Nobody likes to be micromanaged. Think about you like when your boss hovers over your shoulder or calls every shot on a project? No, you don't. And I bet you excell when you're given a little trust and breathing room? Try doing that for your kid.
  • It undermines the coach. You really have no idea what the coach is thinking or working on with the kids, so why confuse the team with your input? If you really knew best, you'd have a coaching certificate and would be coaching, and then we'd/they'd care about what you're saying. Yelling "shoot" or arguing with the ref is not your job.
  • Even highly paid professionals make their fair share of mistakes. Nobody's perfect. Of course, the kids are going to make a few. Re-lax. There are lessons to be learned all the way around.
  • It teaches poor sportsmanship. Bad plays and calls happen. Stop your whining about every stinking thing and actually help the kids learn to shake things off and move on. Be respectful of everyone and their levels.
  • You're an embarrassment. To your kid, the team, and yourself. You could even be the reason they quit one day. How would you feel then?
  • Above all, remember it's not your game. It's your kid's game. Let them enjoy their time to shine. You had your time. Or maybe you didn't and that's why you're so hard on your kid.

It's easy to get caught up in the heat of a game--we've all done it on occassion--but for your kid's sake, keep a pretty steady lid on it.

Stop being a jerk.

Get a Free Doughnut from Dunkin' Today


Thumbnail image for 10852080-e.jpg

We know you don't need a valid reason to sneak off and grap a doughnut, but here's a great incentive anyway.

Today, in celebration of National Donut Day and your valued patronage, Dunkin' Donuts is dough-ling out one free doughnut with any beverage purchase.

If you're worried about the extra fat and calories, walk there, run there, bike there. But get there.

The Mr. and I have already biked to our local franchise and are thinking of a round two later in the afternoon (different location). For the great coffee, of course.

See this link for a similar offer from Krispy Kreme from ChicagoNow's Fantabulously Frugal.


24 Interviewing Tips: Beat Out the Competition for that Job Offer

Let's face it: My husband and I are hardly ever the best looking, best educated, or most qualified people interviewing for jobs. (The Mr. disagrees with that handsome part of that sentence; he works in IT.)

How is it then that between the two of us we are offered jobs 95% of the time after interviewing? It's gotta be these tips.

(Granted, we don't always want the jobs offered us, but it's still nice to have a choice between several of them, rather than taking one because it was the only offer extended. Plus, there's that winning feeling you get from any job offer.)

Given the current economic times, we thought the tips we live by were valuable enough to pass on before So Not an Expert retires. Come June 6, ChicagoNow will be moving to a new system and I, sorry to say, will not be moving with it.

If I choose to pursue another job, rather than immerse myself back into family/stay-at-home mom life, trust me, I'll be prepping for interviews by following our own simple advice.

It's our hope this list will also help you or someone you know who is pounding the pavement for work. And may we never, ever have to compete for the same job. :)

Gallery sneak peek (24 images):

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Rock Mom's World this Mother's Day: 30 of the Best Quotes on Motherhood

I'm not sure if this speaks more volumes about my parenting skills or my grip on reality, but I thought Mother's Day was next Sunday.

Because that's what my kids' school calendar says: Mother's Day, May 15th. Here I thought everyone was jumping the gun on the holiday this year, when really I just had no clue.

So, needless to say, the piece I was working on for my fictional Mother's Day next week probably won't be done in time for this Sunday, May 8th. Here, instead, is last year's post. People seemed to like it enough then; hope you enjoy it the second time around.....

In celebration of Mother's Day, I've collected some of the best quotes on motherhood of all time. Some will make you laugh, some will make you think, and still others will make you remember just who brought you into this world....and who can take you out.

Moms have always worked hard. The fact that these wise words have stood the test of time is evidence of that.  I hope they help drive home the idea that parenting is still the most important job in all the world. Nothing else even compares.

Gallery sneak peek (30 images):

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Osama bin Laden: Should we be glad he wasn't taken alive?



Osama bin Laden's days of taunting the U.S. (and world) are over.

I know we're talking about the death of a human being here, but I cannot help but feel very proud. Of America, President Obama, and of our armed forces.


This man was evil beyond belief. So the title "human being" doesn't necessarily apply.

Besides the attacks on 9/11 and the murder of thousands of Muslims around the world, this sick bastard is also responsible for training little children as suicide bombers.

Last night, three such kids (ages 12 and 14) attempted to make good on their promise, two of them successful. And the child who was caught before kiling himself and the innocent people around him admitted to being trained alongside 350 other children.

Can you imagine?

How these kids got there is another story all together. Did they volunteer? Were they taken from their families? Did their families sacrifice them?

A horrific situation even for the most awful and sick of men.

Still, presenting this story to our kids is tricky.

Even as my 14-year-old daughter heard this morning of the 14-year-old girl who acted as a suicide bomber last night, prompting her to label bin Laden a sick fu**er (which I seconded), the fair and good part of her couldn't help but ask:

Do you think they could have captured him alive? Or did they have to kill him?

Wow. Damn good question. I don't know if we'll ever really know the answer to that.

These Navy Seals are the toughest of the tough. I personally have known a man who completed Navy Seal training and it's not for the faint of heart. These guys go days without sleep or food and are put through the wringer, then expected to complete a complex, life-threatening mission without fail.

Who knows if one of these guys had a clean shot and just took it, or if they were forced to take him out.

Imagine if bin Laden had been captured. Something tells me we'd see far more retaliation and attempts by his #2 and others to free him. We know one thing for certain, bin Laden wouldn't have talked.

So sure he was that he'd divulge no secrets, bin Laden actually ordered his own men to kill him if capture seemed imminent. Perhaps that was the case yesterday. Maybe it appeared he'd have died at his own hand if his life were not taken first by an American.

I'm sure we'll never know the identities of the men involved in the mission and for good reason. They and their families need to be protected, because surely this war is not over.

To be honest, I'm not sure I even care about the details. I didn't lose a loved one in 9/11 or know of anyone who did, yet as a mother, as an American, I am really, really glad the mastermind behind the attacks is dead.

How are you feeling about bin Laden's death?

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Does handwriting even matter anymore?

As an impressionable young teen working at my dad's office, I took great pride in being complimented on my handwriting.

It's so legible.... Anyone can read this!....This message is so neat.



Yes, it is entirely possible that his employees had nothing better to say about me. Still, I chose to see the glass half full, and go with that great handwriting skill and and run with it.

So, what's an orderly mother to do when her child doesn't write well?

Not so nice to say, but it's true. My son's childhood has been filled with such remarks as:

I can't read this. You're going to have to do it over again.


You should be a doctor with handwriting like this!

Having heard no unpleasant comments of late, I assumed it had improved--until today, when I received a call from the school counselor's office.

They couldn't quite make out his social security number and couldn't process his request for a work permit without verification. They couldn't tell if the digit in question was an 8 or a 0.

Seriously?!@ I told him to make sure he completed all those forms neatly, that the last thing he wanted was for his retirement money to go to someone else! Because he is so tight with his dinero, I have to assume this was his version of neat.

Not that I'm blaming, but it's all my husband's fault (as are all my kids' flaws:>). If handwriting were a language, you might say my husband writes in Spanglish--two different styles meshed together to form words.

His printed block-style letters are all connected together. It really is a mess. Even so, he's managed to do all right in the world. Even has a several patents in his name.

Seems everything nowadays--from texting to term papers to business proposals--is done electronically, so should parents really worry over a child's lack of handwriting skills?

Unless you're filling out that rare job application by hand or your cursive is being analyzed in a murder/kidnapping investigation, does handwriting even matter anymore?

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Principals who ban lunches from home are nobody's pal

Who in the world thought little kids would eat this for lunch--at school, no less?


Monica Eng, Chicago Tribune / February 17, 2011

The lovely princiPAL at A Little Village Academy and her crappy food service provider, that's who. And, trust me, Elsa Carmona is no longer anyone at the school's pal.

Six years ago, Carmona banned all lunches brought from home. Yep, sacked 'em.

Unless kids have a medical excuse, they must eat what the school serves them. It protects students from their own unhealthful food choices, she says.

Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school. It's about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It's milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.

Well, that's quite a head this principal has on her shoulders. A very BIG head to think she's more capable of making those decisions for kids than the kids' very own PARENTS.

And I have comments on my Facebook page to back that up. They range from:

Holy poop. -R


Well this is just plain nuts. I understand that there are parents that don't have a clue what a healthy lunch is, but even the healthiest lunch means nothing if its dumped in the garbage uneated and the kid goes home to eat twice as much junk because they are starving. I am so sick of parenting rights in this country being overridden by government and other "official" agencies. If Medinah did this, I'd be homeschooling....... -M


Kids are picky eaters - I wouldn't even eat THAT. I never trust those lunch programs - a lot of hidden sodium. Nothing like a good PBJ on wheat bread!!! - low sugar jelly of course ;) Good for that little boy to stand up for himself! -S


I JUST read this article. I'm glad someone else found it outrageous enough to post here (and hopefully blog about). Seriously, even beyond the total override of a parent's right to choose what their kid eats, junk or not, the cost is a HUGE... issue. It's so much cheaper to brown bag. Really not fair to parents in the middle or lower income brackets, those just above qualifying for free lunch, to have to pay when a homemade lunch would be so much cheaper. The hot lunch food is, quite frankly, gross and isn't really enough for some of the bigger, older kids. It's a great thing for those who can afford it and whose kids will eat it and who don't have the werewithal to make a lunch every day. Me, I'd be raising cain. I still make a PBJ every day for my 16 year At least I know it gets eaten. -L


And what types of preservatives and salts are in these PREPARED school lunches---this is a topic for "So Not an Expert"---my child's lunch at home was ALWAYS more healthy than Medinah's systematic lunch program...How do kids learn to pack healthy if their lunches continue to be pre-prepared for them....... -A

I'll acknowledge that not all parents know what "healthy" means or even care for that matter. Is there even a universal definition of "healthy" food?

Diet is like religion. Everyone believes and practices something different, and everyone thinks their way is the right way. It's a very touchy subject.

(Also worth noting here that sometimes these food service dishes are cooked in plastic--adding another health concern to the mix.)

Some families count calories to watch their waistlines. Some families limit their salt intake. Other families watch out for high fat; some veto sugar. Some are vegetarian. And, still others focus on natural or organic foods.

Yet sometimes even the most health-conscious of parents let their kids eat junk. I consider myself such a parent.

Today I sent my daughters to school with a granola bar, an apple, a clementine, a water bottle (sounds OK so far, but wait for it), and Cup Noodles! Some, including last year's assistant principal, might argue the lack of nutritional value in salt soup.

I agree, OK? So frickin' what. Every now and then something junk foodie won't kill us.

Whatever our diets, one thing I think families can all agree on is that the entree featured on the day a Chicago Tribune reporter visited is slop.

Don't get me wrong. I've certainly tried to pass off a meal here and there to my family as edible.

Speaking of, just the other week, before I flew off to see my mother on Galveston Island, I was involved in a torrid love affair with Mark Bittman. I absolutely love this man's cookbooks, and all things him. (Sorry husband.)

From his newest cookbook, which I checked out from the library, I made dish after dish all week long. My family, it turns out, is not in love with Mark Bittman. In fact, I think it's safe to say they hate the man.

Good thing I didn't actually buy that cookbook.

You might be thinking my kids are jealous of the man stealing so much of their mother's affection, but really it's that they just don't like the unusual combination of flavors in his recipes (think watermelon and feta).

But, and this is a really big but, my family will eat my food--whatever it is I cook. That's the way they were raised. Not every family/mother is so fortunate.

Look at the little boy's reaction to the "enchilada" dish he's supposed to eat. My guess is he's never before seen a lunch that resembles that fancy, healthy school lunch.

Heck, I've never seen a dish that resembles that fancy, healthy school lunch. Enchilada, my behind. I wouldn't touch it and--with the exception of brie, goat cheese, and goat's milk (basically anything goat related)--I eat a-ny-thing.

That, my friends, is saying something.

My guess (and the only defense I can think of) is this principal does not have children of her own. Being involved with the public schools for so many years has taught me to spot the difference between those teachers and administrators who have children and those who do not.

It's quite a talent, I know, but it's been honed nonetheless. Most childless teachers/administrators (and I say most, because this is certainly not true of them all) shall I say it...persnickety, and...well, you get the feeling they're a little...on the judgmental side.

Whatever the reason, it's just plain wrong to make kids eat what's served at school. Most of them will starve.

I cannot help but wonder the following:

  • How well do students who are hungry learn?
  • Have test scores improved since this brain child was introduced?
  • Are these children now of a more healthy weight?
  • Do the principal and faculty eat the processed food they serve?
  • How do people afford this?

My guess, for whatever it's worth, is that the answers are not so positive.

A) Any rational person can deduce kids do not learn well when their stomachs are grumbing from hunger. My kids have tried a similar looking hot lunch and come home famished. Mom is not at school telling them to eat their vegetables and so they do not.

Though the meals are specially designed to meet the nutritional requirements of the kids who eat them, unless the kids are eating the ENTIRE meal, they are not getting the proper nutrition and amount of food they need.

B) No, test scores have not improved significantly, or at all. But, there is some other excuse for that.

C) No. After fasting through lunch, their bodies have gone into starvation mode, causing their bodies to hold onto fat as a precautionary measure. Add to that, that they are (again) starving and devour any food--healthy or not--they can find once they are home, and in large quantities.

D) No, because only the school staff can be trusted to bring healthful choices to lunch.

E) Rather than fund their saving accounts, parents who don't qualify for free lunches dole out hundreds of dollars a month to pay for previously frozen, processed Encor-like meals.

(I tried the meatloaf once when I worked as the lunch lady and that is what it reminded me of.)

Like most of the lunches parents (or kids) pack themselves, mine cost about $1 - $1.50, depending on whether or not I throw in a container of yogurt. We all know those ain't cheap.

That concludes for now my predictions and rant on mandatory school hot lunches.

For the love of these kids, I hope I stand to be corrected.

Your thoughts?

For more commentary on the topic, be sure to read Bye, Bye Brown Bag and Brown Bag Lunch...May It Rest In Peace.

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Why I quit news cold turkey

Once upon a time and before the internet...

...My childhood dream was to become a TV news reporter and I practiced my reporting skills and delivery in front of the bathroom mirror often--complete with fake microphone.

...I read three newspapers a day in college, memorizing nearly every single page because I was tested on their content every week in journalism class. Even spelling counted.

...I covered general news for a local talk radio station.

...I read the Chicago Tribune cover to cover (less the sports section) while commuting by train AND walking to the Wrigley Building every day. Hey, at least I wasn't driving.

(As a young editor, I was once criticized by the publisher for not reading that sports section. Well, I don't particularly like reading about <or watching> sports and all of the pre-coverage, coverage, and post coverage that seems to go along with it.

I should have told him that, along with the promise that I would consider diligently reading about the Cubs once he would read in great detail the food section.)

...I shortchanged my knowledge of popular song, scanning past music in favor of news on the radio.

How true.

Suffice it to say, I liked my news.

Then I had kids. Ooooooonnnnne right after the other and I stopped news cold turkey.

Why? Because whenever my husband turned on the nightly news (he, because I never touch the TV--I'm not sure I even know how), we were faced with bad news. Another murder, bad weather, a growing national debt, inflation.

Nothing about the news seemed good. It saddened me. Plus, I didn't feel I had the time.

So I buried my head in the sand, took care of my children, stuck my hand out the window to feel the day's temperature, avoided unsafe places, and shopped for sale-priced food.

Maybe I was depressed, my doctor thought. So I agreed to take three month's worth of antidepressants.

Talk about feeling like a robot. Not a care in the world, I had. Nor, did I have a feeling, happy, sad, or otherwise. My husband wondered where in the world his fiesty wife had gone.

At the very least, I figured, it was safe to tune back into TV news. Then came the coverage about depressed moms murdering their children, scaring the shit out of me. Off it went again.

I woke up in the night wondering if that could happen to me.

I'd also given up scary and violent movies during this time, afraid that filling my head with such tragedy would result in creating a tragedy myself.

After all, I am one to pick up foul language after hanging around a friend who swears a lot. I also unconsciously repeat statements from my parents I swore as a kid I'd never use.

Neurotic? Maybe. I don't even spank my kids, and love them with all my heart. But playing it safe, this avoidance of unpleasantries? You betcha.

Honestly, I was happier having done so. I might have been a bit clueless, but I was without a doubt more content, and a more relaxed mom.

If all this anxiety after watching violence can happen to an adult, don't you think it could happen to a kid? That's why my kids didn't see much of that sort of thing (besides Disney movies) until they were much, much older.

Slowly but surely I'm making my way back into this complicated world we share. Still, I gravitate toward the soft news, glossing over the more hard stuff.

Can't we all do some good things, resulting in some good news coverage that gives us something useful to read about and watch?

Not that I mind feeling my feelings. I just prefer to feel more of the positive ones, that's all.

Have you ever refused to pay attention to the news?

'Twas a Facebook question about political apathy from fellow blogger Michael Ciric that brought back these memories. Check out his blog for some non-partisan commentary on Chicago politics.

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Medinah Superintendent Speaks Out on Referendum

As he has since Medinah's last failed building referendum in November, Medinah Superintendent Dr. Joseph Bailey continues to plead his case.

Today at the polls, Medinah seeks the funds ($8 million, to be exact) to close one school and revamp two others in its family of three small buildings.

A group of parent supporters, called Now Is The Time, has launched this website complete with informational links, photos, facts, and figures.

I have to say, in the sixteen years I've lived in District #11, I think only one new big idea has been implemented (and later removed), and that was full-day kindergarten. I sat on the committee and voted for it, even though my kids didn't participate, because the community so seemed to want it.

Provided Medinah could afford it, it was easy to see the value of providing such a program to so many of our two-working-parent households. This referendum? I'm not so sure about.

Though my husband decorated our front lawn with a big, fat, bright yellow "Vote No" sign, I still don't know which way I'll cast my vote.

I want to support it. It's for our schools and our kids, isn't it? But quite frankly, I'm skeptical. The lucritive, self-indulgent 80s are long gone. Nobody needs fancy anything to learn or work, as is evidenced by the abundance of office cubicles and work-at-home-in-your-closet or basement situations.

Kids aren't any different. Malleable as they are, kids would adapt to studying in the garage or learning in a trailer if they had to. (I did, attend a college English class in a trailer, that is.)

Wouldn't we all like to update our homes? But, in these recessionary times, when one out of ten people is out of work and nearly every block is littered with a foreclosure, isn't it better to just sit tight and make due?

Even in better times, I'd much rather see money, time, and effort going toward an in-school foreign language curriculum. Currently, my high schooler is the only student in his Spanish class without any prior foreign language experience, unless you count the basics from Dora the Explorer and his parents.

And the unions. Seems they're lurking around every corner trying to get their hands on any available (and unavailable) money, when many non-union people like my husband haven't seen a raise at all or one upwards of 1% in I don't know how long, and many other college-educated professionals are hovering just above the poverty level.

While some of the repairs (from pro-referendum website photos) appear desperately needed,  others seem just plain silly, like the mismatched tile and the rust on the edge of a door. Don't we all have small, easily repairable things on our to-do lists at home...and still manage?

I am not sure sitting on stockpiles of money helps any school's case for referendum either.

If you're like me--confused, undecided, and haven't made it to the polls yet today--perhaps the brief interview below with Dr. Bailey will help you make the right choice.

Q) I understand the funds legally must be used for building purposes, but can you (Medinah District #11) guarantee other funds (say from the maintenance budget) won't be shifted around to cover other unnecessary expenses or salaries? I ask this because it was always rumored in the state of Michigan that the lottery funds did indeed go to the Education Fund, but the funds originally designated for the Education Fund were transferred out and used for other purposes.

A) While at the State level, the legislature is prone to "shift" revenue around in the manner you state, a local school district doesn't necessarily have the same ability to do so. The law is very clear on the fact that if revenue was originally placed in one of the operating funds of the district, it must be spent out of that fund. The only exception is if the revenue is in the Education Fund, which is in reality, the district's "General Fund". Then, such revenue can be used to cover expenses in the other funds but must be transferred in a formal, transparent way and with a clear purpose/intent.

The current referendum requests approval from #11 taxpayers to borrow additional revenue in the form of bonds (long term loans) for the purpose of construction and renovation. Again, by law these funds must be used directly for the purposes listed on the referendum ballot. The cannot be utilized to pay salaries or other "general" expenses.

Q) Who was it who estimated the cost of maintenance and repairs? Would this person have a conflict of interest or a reason to overshoot these costs?

A) The district actually has several sources of data relative to this information. Over the years, the district has had several "Performance Contract" companies perform facility audits on district facilities. In each case, the audit was memorialized in the form of a report which listed recommendations and projected costs associated with these recommendations.

A second source of data used is the 10 year Life Safety Report performed by the district's architectural firm, Arcon. This report was most recently completed in 2005 and also includes recommendations and projected costs for the district's facilities.

A third source of data utilized is from a comprehensive facilities study that was done in 2008 through a partnership with UNICOM-ARC, Arcon, and another architectural firm from St. Louis, MO. This report is actually linked to our district's website, if you want to check it out.

The figures used for the purposes of developing the district's long-term facilities plan is a consensus of these various data sources. Thus, the answer to your question in a word is, "no."

Q) What safety issues are of concern?

A) At this time, the greatest safety issues at all three facilities, in my opinion, are relative to vehicular traffic and lack of adequate space to address these issues with the facilities' current configurations. At each of the buildings, student arrival and dismissal times are chaotic with cars mixing with busses mixing with pedestrians. We have done as much as possible to provide a safe and secure environment for our students in this regard, but the situation is still relatively concerning.

In addition, while both Primary and Intermediate Schools have secured vestibules in which visitors must pass through to gain access to the school, the Middle School has no such secured area and therefore, if a person is able to make it past the exterior door, they then have access to the entire school. Again, we've done as much as possible to address this issue but it remains an ongoing area of concern.

In all of these cases, the revenue received from a successful referendum will be used, in large part to remedy these concerns and provide our families with a safer educational environment for their children.


I have to say that I remain unconvinced that the safety of our kids is at stake here. Having been to the middle school, I can verify that there is a holding area for visitors. No one can enter the building without being buzzed in.

As for the drop off situation, our schools provide bussing service to most of our students. Apart from an occasional pick up or drop off, I really don't understand why so many parents are transporting their children.

Of couse it's every parent's right to drive their child back and forth to school, but can't parents wait patiently in line in the amount of space that's already allotted them, or park the car and walk their child over to the entrance? Do we really need to build a special area for this?

As I head off to the voting booth, I'll be asking myself: Is this referendum really for the kids...and is it really necessary, at this time?

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All-You-Can-Eat Pancake Breakfast for $5!

Finally, a way to afford teenagers.


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Feed that hungry family while helping raise funds for Boy Scout Troop 408 at their Annual Pancake Breakfast, which, by the way, also includes sausage, milk, orange juice, fresh fruit, and coffee.

(See photo gallery below.)

Tickets are: $5.00, adults; $4.00, seniors and children; and free, children under 4.

At value like this, how could you not go? Oh, unless you don't know where and when it is.

It's April 10, 7:30 - 11:30am, at Trinity Lutheran Church in Roselle. Mark your calendar.

Proceeds from the fundraiser will help defray expenses for the troop, such as camping, summer camp, equipment, and supplies.

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America* is "to serve others by helping to instill values in young people, to teach leadership skills, and teach young people responsibility."

Full tummy for you. Valuable lesson for them.

For more information, contact Maryann Grygiel at 630-893-6647.

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*My son was at one time a Cub Scout.

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Free Gift for Breast Cancer Support


Team Amy bracelets! Photo by Amy Rauch Neilson.


A few weeks ago, I ran an interview with Amy Rauch Neilson, two-time breast cancer warrior, breast cancer gene carrier, mother, writer, good-natured person, and, most recently, NASA VIP.

Since then Amy has graciously sent me a batch of these perky, glow-in-the-dark wristbands that read: "Amy.ShortName.BigMeaning."

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Best Quotes o' the Irish

Kiss me, I'm Irish.

Ah, nothin' but a bunch of blarney, that is; for, not a speck o' the Irish blood runs through these veins. That I know of. I do, however, grow Irish Eyes in my garden, enjoy a good beer, and love the sound of an Irish brogue--especially when attached to one of these great Irish quotes.

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Tutus to Take Over Roscoe Village: Learn French While Taking Ballet

Baby Take a Bow, a new quaint but modern Chicago dance studio for children, promises to knock your dancing shoes off at its Grand Opening Party March 16-20.

Celebrating the end of its very first semester, the studio will host a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 16, then follow up later in the week with free dance workshops, refreshments, giveaways, and performances by local Chicago dancers and instructors Tiffany Bovard (ballet) and Andrew Coleman (hip-hop).

Bring your MC Hammer moves on Saturday, March 19, from 1-3 p.m. for Hip-Hop Day or point your toes on Sunday, March 20, from 1-3 p.m. for Ballet Day.

Kristen Ramirez, local entrepreneur, small business owner, and Roscoe Village resident, opened the studio in January (after many years in the making), and she's eager to make an official introduction to the neighborhood:

"Opening Baby Take a Bow has been nothing short of a dream come true.  It is such an honor to be a part of such a wonderful community and to watch little ones' creativity and excitement grow daily in our studio.  I feel so rewarded every day and I can't wait to celebrate with everyone at the Grand Opening.

Baby Take a Bow's classes--ballet, hip hop, and a ballet class taught in French--cater to kids ages 18 months to 12. They are offered as 9-week sessions or single drop-in classes. During classes, parents can enjoy the perky waiting room and boutique.

For more information about the Grand Opening or classes in general, visit, or contact Kristen at or (773) 904-7377.

Don't forget to share your news, and follow So not an Expert on Twitter and Facebook, or by subscribing by email in the box below. Contact me at

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This news tip came from ChicagoNow blogger, Natalie Cammarata of everybody dance now.

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Are Locker Rooms Safe for Preteen Boys?

Not to put the blame for bad locker room behavior solely on men, but I've yet to meet a girl who's had a bad locker room experience. Knock on wood.


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The other day a Lombard man, described by prosecutors as "every parent's worst nightmare," was sentenced to probation and six months jail time for video-recording preteen boys at public pools and possessing child pornography.


According to this article, Nicholas Gregor "was arrested last April after an 11-year-old noticed a small camera protruding from under his arm as they stood side-by-side at urinals in the Norris Recreation Center in St. Charles during a swim meet."

A subsequent investigation led to the discovery of more than 100 items of child pornography on Gregor's computer. Police said they also found dozens of photos and videos from June 2007 depicting young boys in the locker room at the now-closed Moran Water Park in Lombard, as well as images of children in Gregor's neighborhood.

Fighting back tears as he testified about his parental guilt, a father of a boy who was recorded said,
"(Gregor) was right under our noses while abusing our son," he said. "The feeling of a lurking predator has remained with me."

Need I mention the St. Charles Park District is the recipient of the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management, identifying the park district as one of the best in the nation?*

This can happen anywhere.

I can relate, albeit on a much lesser scale.

During his preteen years, my son was witness to two bizarre locker room moments. Luckily, he was accompanied by friends and was not permanently harmed.

The first incident happened at our local public pool. My son and maybe four other friends (three of whom were in my care) were showering off before leaving for home.

The boys walked out of that locker room wide eyed, mouths hanging open, laughing awkardly. Apparently, a young man, maybe five years their senior, had been dancing around in the open shower, basically gyrating, humping the walls and singing suggestively. They were, to say the least, shocked.

All while I was waiting outside near the car, maybe 20 feet away.

Immediately, we told the nearest lifeguard working in the nearby office. He checked the locker room, but the young man was gone. The kids gave a description and that was it. For my part, I told the parents, who said they'd talk to their sons.

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How to Raise a Reader

You've seen or heard of My Cousin Vinny. Well, I have to tell you that My Cousin Beth (or let's call her Binny--My Cousin Binny) is better. Because, when I was expecting my first child, she gave me a book on how to raise an avid reader.

That book, along with tips in school newsletters and my own very limited, very basic common sense, worked. I can actually say that my teenagers are huge readers--as in leisurely reading for hours a day, despite jabs from friends--and in this day and age, that's sayin' something.

So pleasantly surprised I was, then, yesterday morning to open this email from Borders.


I applaud Borders for their attempt here. You do not--I repeat, do not--have to frequent a book store, however, to raise yourself a reader. The best part of all is it's never too late to help your child love reading.

Here are 15 tips I can personally recommend.

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5 Easy Money-Saving Tips

Years of living on one income have forced me to learn and use money-saving tips on a regular basis.  Here are five easy ways you can cut costs, too.

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QA With Mother, Writer, Two-Time Breast Cancer Warrior: Read How You Can Help Her Help Others

We are all touched by breast cancer.

I think that's a fair statement to make. Because if you personally haven't been diagnosed, chances are you know someone or know of someone who has.

That's why, when my sister Nikki emailed me the story of Amy Rauch Neilson, a mother and writer who is battling cancer a second time around, I was not surprised. But, I sure was moved. (You will be, too.)

Amy Rauch Neilson

Amy's story, in a nutshell, is this: She is fighting with all her heart this genetic breast cancer and she wants to share her story. To do that, Amy needs you to subscribe to her blog, It's in the Genes, ultimately enabling her to publish her memoir, which has the potential to reach an even wider audience.

Before reading the interview, would you do me a favor? Would you click this link and sign up to receive new posts of her blog? Then confirm the subscription in your email inbox by clicking on the link there. It should take 30 seconds, tops.

You can go back and read Amy's blog later. Trust me, you won't be sorry you subscribed. It's funny, it's sad, it's compelling, and it's real. From her interview, you'll get a peek at what a hoot and terrific writer she is. (Take note of how she submitted her answers--in bright pink, of course!)

Q) You are a cancer warrior! How much about your fight do you share with your son?

A) I share with him whatever I think is age-appropriate. Theo is a very bright, inquisitive five-year-old little boy. But he's still a five-year-old little boy.
The first time I was diagnosed with breast cancer, Stage 1, March 3, 2006, Theo was six months old and that was to our advantage. I knew he wouldn't remember all that our family went through in the months of my treatment - including my hair loss from the Adriamycin/Cytoxan chemo cocktail I was on. In fact, it was a little bit humorous that both Theo and I were bald at the same time - his hair grew in very slowly - and our hair seemed to grow in tandem until somewhere around Thanksgiving 2006, we both had a short 'do!
This time around, my first thoughts after diagnosis were Theo and what and how we would tell him. I knew there was an age-appropriate way to do it; I just wasn't sure what it was. So, I called a close friend, Helene Rabinowitz, who had spent more than 30 years as a practicing psychologist, and bounced it off of her.
"Tell him in little bits and dribbles, as best you can," she said.
"But how will I know when it's enough, or too much?"
"Trust me," she said. "You'll know."
And she was right. The first time I broached the subject with Theo, we were sitting on the couch together in the family room.
Theo had been asking me why I had to go to the doctor's all of the time, and why Daddy had to go, too.
"Honey, Mommy is sick, and so the doctors have to give her medicine." I went on to explain as best I could that I was going to get better, but it was going to take a little bit of time.
He listened for a while, then abruptly, he jumped down off the couch and went and picked up his favorite monster truck. He started racing it on the kitchen floor, accompanied by very loud "zooooooooooommmmmmmmm" ing sound effects. Helene had been right. I knew when he'd had enough.
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Last week, we made much more progress - and some very amazing progress at that (I'll be blogging about this very soon).
Theo has bunk beds in his room. He sleeps on the bottom bunk and I am the one who puts him to bed about 90 percent of the time, even in this period of chemo. So, a few nights ago, we were laying together on his bottom bunk, there's a little light that hangs down from the bottom of the top bunk, and all the lights were off except that one. I got out a book to read to him, as I do every night.
I always wear a tank-top to bed. I've always run very warm - my whole life. So, even on the coldest winter nights, I wear a tank top and pj bottoms. This is significant because it's one of the few times Theo can actually see my port. He doesn't like it. He doesn't like the incision next to it, where they went in to place it. He doesn't like the port itself, which is under my skin but is a decent-sized lump - like the size of a silver dollar, raised.
He asked me what my port was for. I put down the book we had been reading and said, "Honey, that's what the doctors use to give me medicine."
He thought for a moment and he said, "Is what you have an allergy?"
"No, honey, it's not an allergy."
More thought and contemplation.
"Is it a germ?"
"No, honey, it's not a germ."
"Then, what is it?"
I started really calling upon my brain power to figure out how I could best explain this to him. Finally, I said,
"Do you know what a cell is?"
"No," he said.
"Well, our bodies are made up of all these teenie pieces called cells. They're so small we can't see them without a microscope. Our cells do good things for our bodies - they help us to grow, repair skin when we've got a boo-boo.
"But sometimes, cells can be bad. Mommy has some of these cells in her body right now. These cells are the 'bad guys' - like the bad guys vs. the good guys in some of the games you play. The bad guys try to take over, so the doctors give me medicine that makes the bad guys go away.
"Does that make sense?"
He nodded.
Then he said, "Mommy? Will I get what you have?"
"No, honey. What Mommy has isn't something you can get. (This is true from the perspective of the BRCA 1 gene. He can be a carrier, but he won't "get" genetic breast cancer.)
"Does that help?"
He nodded again.
"Mommy? Will you always have to have a port?"
"No, honey. When the doctors are done giving me medicine, they'll take my port out."
I thought the conversation was over and started to go back to reading the book.
That's when Theo began talking to his stuffed bunny, whose name is MarTEN - not Martin. Theo insists the bunny's name is MarTEN.
He told me that MarTEN was sick and had a port. He showed me where the port was on Marten's body. Then he told me that since Marten's legs aren't working, the doctors were giving him medicine to make him all better. As soon as Marten's legs start working again, the doctors will take his port out.
It was quite profound - the way this kid was able to understand and transfer this information I'd given him from me to his pet stuffed bunny.
Wow. Five years old.
Q) You do share quite a bit of your struggle with your 1,300+ blog subscribers. Is it true that you must reach the 5,000 subscriber mark for It's in the Genes in six months to have your book published? If so, why?
A) I am very fortunate to already be under exclusive contract with a literary agent, Jessica Faust of BookEnds, LLC. I've been with her since September 2009. She read through the first draft of my book and we went through it together, carefully.
Jessica is a very talented, experienced, savvy agent. She explained to me that the straight-cancer-story memoir isn't what publishers are looking for. That was what they were looking for 20 years ago. Now, they're zeroing in on a Universal Message. My story, everybody's story, needs a Universal Theme so that even people who don't have breast cancer or aren't close to anyone who does, can relate to my story.
Jessica told me, "You are a fabulous writer. You've got that part down. Now it's up to you to take what you've got and find the Universal Thread." So, that's what I've done. The Chapter 1 you see on my blog is the Chapter 1 from my first attempt - and it is the first chapter of my thesis, which has been bound and published by Antioch University Midwest, Yellow Springs, Ohio - the way any master's student's thesis is. I may pull parts out of my first book into the book I'm working on, but the book I'm working on now is much different. And I truly believe, much, much better and far more universal in its approach and message.
Most of the time, publishers won't accept a work of non-fiction without a full manuscript. But, with my writing ability, Jessica believes she can sell this book on proposal, which requires three things:
1. Three to five well-written, knock-their-socks-off, chapters.
2. A well-written synopsis (proposal).
3. Proof that I have a social network in place - this is what publishers are looking for in the year 2011. So, for them, that means 5,000 blog subscribers. Once I hit that number, Jessica will go into the trenches with the various publishing companies she works with and feels quite confident that I will get a book deal. I also feel quite confident.
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Look for an invitation like this

People sign up for email subscriptions on my blog every day - sometimes, days are busy, other days, they trickle in. One of the biggest challenges is getting people to DO IT. There are lots of "lurkers" in the world who are on my blog, reading, but haven't subscribed. Don't get me wrong - I'm grateful that they are there. But I sometimes can't seem to get the message across that I need them to subscribe. It's easy. Just enter your email address in the tab at the top of my blog home page and hit enter. Then go to your email box and click on the link to approve your subscription. That's it. And all you've committed yourself to is receiving an alert in your email box when I post something new on my blog. That's it. End of commitment.

(Read more after the jump.)

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Camp Earth: Lake Park High School Graduates Bike for Huntington's Disease

Go ahead, picture your typical college student. Does the image look something like this:




Or this?

Well, it seems not all college students pack away the alcohol/all their worldly belongings fritter away their free time in such meaningless, unproductive ways.

Some of them are downright motivated.

Like these guys. Beginning May 11, eight graduates of Roselle's Lake Park High School* will take to their wheels and bike across America (from New Jersey clear across to San Francisco) to raise funds for the Huntington's Disease Society of America.

Patrick Dimpsey, Winona State University student and founder of Camp Earth, an organization dedicated to bringing worldwide awareness to Huntington's Disease (HD), will ride the entire 3,600 miles.

A second bike will be pedaled as a relay of seven additional member riders/college students: Tim Fergus, Nick Ciaglia, Tim Layer, AJ Fisher, Marc Ostrowski, Ryan Jorgensen, and Steve Krauss.

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8 Reasons You Should Be a Guest Blogger on ChicagoNow's 'So Not an Expert'



Not quite an expert? Join the club.

So long as you have something to say (and who doesn't, right?), you can write a guest post on So Not an Expert, where we value opinions and voices from all sides, on all sorts of topics.

Here are eight great reasons to get it off your chest:

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Easy Homemade Stock: How to Make Chicken Stock in the Slow Cooker

My friends are always impressed by how much I cook from scratch. Truth is, I don't do anything that's not easy. (I stay home, but that doesn't mean I like to slave my day away in the kitchen.)

When a recipe has more than five or so ingredients, it makes me nervous; so, I've learned to stick with the simple. What this means for working readers is you get recipes for homemade meals that take little to no time. Use your free time for something else, like laundry. Kidding.

Here's how to make fresh chicken stock overnight in the slow cooker while you sleep (no joke). The recipe may require more than five ingredients, but they're generally readily available and flexible.

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Dibs, Sidewalk Shoveling: Why, Oh Why, Doesn't Anybody Remove Snow Anymore?

I've no costly, lengthy academic study to cite, just this and my own blanket observation: Shoveling in Chicagoland has become a thing of the past.



This guy's got it right!

We've lost that lovin' feeling, and it's something you cannot deny. Especially when you're out (as I was) for some much-needed fresh air and exercise, quite happily focusing on breathing clean oxygen through your nostrils and taking in the scenery, and BOOM you stumble upon a mountain of snow in your path.

So, you take to the streets in order to walk around it, then curve back to take the sidewalk. You want to believe the best in people, so you think, it must be that a little old lady lives here and is not healthy enough to shovel. Poor thing.



Does anybody care anymore?

Only 20 feet ahead of you, you run into the same dilemma. Do you walk around it, or just stomp through it? Damn, there are a lot of little old ladies in this town!

By the time you're down the block, having zig zagged around enough snow to cool down 16 Justin Beiber fans, you realize, I don't live amongst the disabled and elderly, I live amidst the lazy.

To be fair, I don't live in a neighborhood that sports sidewalks. But if I did, I'd like to think I'd feel compelled to shovel for pedestrians when walkways are piled high with feet, even inches, of snow. My mother did it.

Maybe I'm just optimistic, since I really don't know what it's like to have to lift snow from the 10 feet of public cement out front of my house what maybe three/four times a year. Nope. I'm too busy shoveling my (darn near) 100-foot-long-driveway.

Hell, I don't particularly like to shovel either. It took four of us in shifts just to clear the driveway this last blizzard. Took a friend of mine and her daughter an entire day of shoveling and snowblowing to clear the mess. It's just part of being a citizen.

It isn't just residents. Try finding a sidewalk shovelled out front of a business. They might as well post a sign, Closed for Business Until the Snow Melts Itself--Oh, and We Do Not Value Your Patronage.

And, it isn't just the suburbanites either. Look at what's going on in the city. Drivers are committing "Dibs" all over the place, so much so that Chicago's Department of Streets and Sanitation has stepped in. (Whatever your feelings about marking your shovelled out parking spot, check out this very funny Dibs story.)

In Chicago, sidewalk shoveling is law. Did you know homeowners can be fined $50 for not clearing snow? So far this year, Public Way inspectors have responded to more than 470 snowy sidewalk complaints to 311.

Laws or no laws, whatever happened to neighbors caring for their properties, their parking spaces, and for passers by--basically, being neighborly? I have some theories (apart from the lazy one). See if you agree.

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Vitamins Can Give Kids Scurvy

Sound crazy? Hear me out.

Nearly every single day I'm like a broken record about nutrition. (And, don't tell me you don't know what a broken record is. It's like a scratched-up CD.)

Eat your vegetables or you'll get scurvy....Eat your fruit. You don't want to get scurvy.

"Mom," my daughter protests, "If I didn't have another piece of fruit for two years, I STILL wouldn't get scurvy. I've had enough to last me THAT long. And if I did get it, I'd eat a lemon like they used to do on the ships."


I frown on gummies. They just don't seem to offer the best nutrients, or enough of them.

Maybe she has a point. Still, this mom wonders if they get enough nutrition for their growing bodies and brains. They eat healthy, especially compared to their peers, and exercise. Yet I force vitamins on them like their lives depend on them.

Is life really at stake? Are vitamins even necessary?

This reminds me of when I was pregnant, eliminating caffeine and alcohol, and taking vitamins religiously. For all that, I felt the need to eat and eat and eat, not because I was so hungry, but because I wanted to give my fetus all the nutrition I could possibly give it.

Something tells me that's not normal.

Something else tells me I may be going a bit overboard now that the kids are teens; they are launching a rebellion. Take last week, for example, after they left for school, I found the most peculiar thing.

Vitamins. A pretty steady trail of them stretching from my bedroom door to the master bathroom commode.

A multivitamin on the floor beside my bed. Another on the floor near the sink. A vitamin B complex near the toilet. And, here's the clincher: a second vitamin B nestled inside the cup of my brazier that was left hanging on a doorknob. (Not sure if that was a random thing or not.)



I wish it were this easy.

All signs point to my daughters, whom I thought took them at the breakfast table. I know my son, who has troubles swallowing any pill, left his to take after school. He couldn't help but laugh at himself during this recent exchange:

SON: Why do we have to have three vitamins. Can't we just take one?

MOM: But then it'd be even bigger to house all those nutrients, so you'd have even more trouble swallowing it.

SON: Well, then I'd just break it up into three pieces. (Pause) Oh, then I'd still be taking three vitamins, wouldn't I? (Chuckle)

I couldn't make this stuff up.

If only it stopped there, though. I routinely find these nuggets of nutrition left behind at the breakfast table, leaving me to track down the offender after school to reload and redistribute.

It wasn't until years afterward that all three of my young kids admitted to ditching their chewable multi vitamins at the bus stop out front of the neighbor's house. Vitamins have also been discovered behind the couch and under the cushions, inside a piece of cracked grout on the tile floor, and adorning my houseplants.

Just in case you don't believe me....

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Chicago Blizzard: 13 Fun Things to do in a Snowstorm

For all the potential hazards of blizzards, there just as many fun things to enjoy about them. Here are just a few. (Feel free to add your ideas below.)

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From Pregnant to Menopausal in One Long Day

Let's face it, if you miss a period at this stage of the game (42), it means one of two things: you're pregnant or you've reached the menopause stage of the game. You googled it.

And, oh, the things that go through your head. Talk about all over the map.

Like how in the world could you be with child when the husband's been "fixed" for years and you've no pool boy on the side. Unless you're one of those rare, unsuccessful vasectomy stories you occasionally read about.

Maybe you've been given one more chance at parenthood, a miracle. A little Rudy or Ruby you've always secretly wanted, even though your other kids are pretty much teenagers. Of course you'd be happy if pregnancy were the case, just surprised. You've been missing those baby days.

You'd surely suffer stares at being the only gray-haired mother-to-be people have ever seen, and you'd gladly postpone any dreams you have on the short- and long-term burner, like returning to a full-time career one day, or retirement.

As for menopause, isn't it supposed to be quite freeing? With perks like these, what's not to like about it?

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George Ryan's Sneak Visit to Ailing Wife: Should Prisoners Ever Be Allowed Furlough?



Former Illinois Governor George Ryan

Temporarily releasing non-violent prisoners to see dying loved ones or attend funerals seems to be legal, and happens regardless of who a prisoner is, according to ChicagoNow blogger Michael Helfand, Chicago's Real Law Blog.

But should it be OK to give such treatment to former Illinois governor George Ryan or any other convicted felon?

I don't think so and it seems I'm in the minority.

Call me cold, but I think if you've done the crime, then you should actually DO the time. In prison. That's just tough luck that someone you love might die while you're in the clink. You should have thought about that before you chose to break the law.

Then again, I'm the type of woman who says in jest to her husband:

Listen bucko, you ever do anything that lands you in jail and you are Dead. To. Me. And, that's what I'll tell the kids. I'm not going to be one of those women who goes in to see her man behind bars. No way.

There's a lot of truth said in jest. Right or wrong I mean every word. And I would expect the same treatment if the situation were reversed.

Not that my husband's ever given me reason to doubt his abilty to follow the law--he's actually sort of a lawyer-wanna-be. But, it can't hurt to state your case or your expectations--especially while living in a state where election to public office quite possibly blossoms into a comfy stay in the penitentiary.

In his blog yesterday, Helfand half answers a burning question I've had about the payment of prisoner transportation:

Sometimes the prisoner or their family will be required to pay for expense of transporting them where they need to go. George Ryan was driven several hours to where his wife is in the hospital. It's not necessarily preferential treatment or a sign of leniency. It's a routine request.

So now I'm kind of curious: Just who was it who paid to take Ryan to his wife's hospital bedside anyway? Any guesses?

Thus far Ryan's bid for bail has been refused. It sure seems fitting to me that a man found guilty of 18 corruption-related charges should remain put.


Remember the six Willis children who died as a result of an accident with a truck driver who may have traded a bribe for his license? Pastor Duane Scott Willis writes about his nightmare in Through the Flames: The Willis Family Story.



"As far as the accident is concerned, I was looking at the road and was alert.... When we hit the object, the rear gas tank exploded, taking the car out of control....Janet (his wife) and I had to consciously put our hands into the flames to unbuckle the seat belts and reach for the door handles.

Janet fell out the door while the car was still moving. Benny was in the midst of the burning; his clothes were mostly burned off by the time he got out. The five youngest children, who had been asleep, died instantly. No sound was heard by Janet or me as we struggled to get out of the van. An unknown man took his shirt off his back to soak Benny's wounds, and another beat out the burning clothes on Janet's back. Benny died in intensive care around midnight."

To think the man responsible for a tragedy like this has the nerve to request time off from his sentence! To ask for any sort of compassion or humanity is really, well, quite unthinkable.

What the law-abiding Willises would have given for a few extra moments with their youngest of nine kids.

Rot in your cell, George Ryan, along with the rest of your law-breaking buddies, or at the very least, serve your time like a man.

Does this whole saga rile you up?

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Chinese Mothers are Not Superior to American Moms: Why Yale's Amy Chua is Grossly Mistaken

No offense, but author/Yale Law School professor/Chinese mother Amy Chua has this superior parenting thing all wrong.

In an essay excerpted from her book, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother," that appeared in Saturday's Wall Street Journal, Chua says that Chinese moms, with their strict and blunt ways, put Western moms, who focus too much on kids' self-esteem and individuality, to shame.



Amy Chua and her daughters, Louisa and Sophia, at their home in New Haven, Conn. Photo by Erin Patrice O'Brien for The Wall Street Journal

I'm sure Chua means well, deeply loves her daughters, and believes with all her heart that she's using the best parenting approach, but I just can't help but beg to differ.

Sure, children of the Chinese are known for their great musical achievements and academic performance. I suppose that much is true. But at what cost?

Here are a few of the things Chua says her daughters were never allowed to do:

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Lunching Free with Santa in Roselle



What's neater than dining with Santa?

Whoever said there's no such thing as a free lunch never met Santa Claus or the Roselle Lions Club (RLC).


Because once again this year, the RLC is hosting their annual Lunch with Santa, and there is no fee.


Participants are, however, asked to bring a non-perishable food item that will be donated to the Bloomingdale Food Pantry.


Kids of all ages are invited to enjoy a hot dog lunch, decorate their own Christmas ornament, and take a picture with Santa.

Here are the details:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

11:00am - 1:00pm

Trinity Lutheran Family Life Center

405 South Rush Street
Roselle, IL

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Denis Leary's New Book of Tweets: Is it a Good Read/Gift for Book Haters?



Know someone with the attention span of a teenager on Slurpie high?


Do you or someone you know hate to read big books?


Just need a good laugh?


Check out this hilarious and creative book trailer because Denis Leary's "Suck on This Year: LYFAO@140 Characters or Less" (due out later this week) may indeedy be the book for you (or your friend).


I happen to love reading--even though it takes me a long time to read big books--and I think I'll read it just for the fun of it. Plus, it sounds like a good gift for just about anyone. What do you think?


News of this came via Joe the Cop on the Twitter. Joe and his Arresting Tales blog may have left ChicagoNow for a time-sucking promotion, but he hasn't lost his new-found love for technology or his sense of humor. Best of luck to Joe.

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Mom Guilt: When Mom Lays on the Guilt, Guilt Can Be Used Against Her



Before I left the house early yesterday morning to pick up milk for breakfast, I woke my eldest for school, explaining my whereabouts and the consequential flip in schedule.


Instead of coming straight downstairs for a meal, he was to first dress; make his bed (which he forgot); brush his teeth (jury's still out on that one, too); blah, blah, blah.


Only said child fell back asleep. I was not counting on that.



So when the rest of the kids woke to find mom missing, they sort of, well, freaked out. I could have been anywhere--out for a jog, taking out the garbage, scooping dogie doo from the yard, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, shopping for groceries--so, naturally, they assumed I'd been kidnapped. (Run away is more like it.)


Probably on account of the night before last.


See, this is how guilt works. The kids are feeling bad for not spending more cuddle/talk time with their mom at bedtime.


I know, they're teenagers or just about teens and that's the last thing they want to do, right? Still, I'm a mother and I can wish, not to mention lay on guilt like any woman raised Catholic and forced with only three other poor suckers souls to attend CCD classes right on through to high school graduation.


And I did. Lay on some serious guilt, that is, which of course they thought hilarious. (At least it was moving.)


I also blame in part the whole lack-of-affection thing on The Curse. I swear, ever since I brought home what I thought was a loving plaque that reads, "Always Kiss Me Goodnight," the kids completely stopped.


They began sneaking off to bed without so much as a word, leaving it to me to hustle upstairs to plant one on a drowsy child before they hit dreamland. After all, how on earth will they know I love them if they don't know I'm kissing them?


Wouldn't you think, then, with all this worry over a missing mom, I'd have been hugged madly at the door when I returned?


Not a chance.


"Didn't you think to leave a note?" is how my youngest greeted me. That'll make you feel responsible every time.


And my middle child used the whole incident and the pain and suffering it caused her to con a ride to school.


Guilt. I guess it works both ways.


What's your guilt trip story? Come on, everyone has to have at least one....


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