10 mistakes we've made in our marriage

10 mistakes we've made in our marriage
I could have titled this "10 things we've learned in our marriage," but that doesn't have the same ring to it. (See what I did there?) A friend recently reminded us that there is no failure; only feedback. Over the past decade, this Republican/Democrat, introvert/extrovert, sports lover/theater nerd couple has gathered a lot of feedback on what works. And perhaps, more importantly, what doesn't. Here are 10 mistakes we've made in our marriage:...

Five chores to teach your kids this summer

Five chores to teach your kids this summer
Here are five chores to teach your kids this summer. I recommend having low expectations, some favorite kids' songs, and a bottle of wine on hand. Keep in mind that some chores take 5-50 times to learn. I've broken chores down into several age-appropriate skills. When it comes to chores, imagine a scaffold. Your kid isn't going to wash all the dishes on day one. Start at the bottom and work your way up. You may be surprised: this past Christmas, my husband let our 6 1/2 year old help with Christmas lights. For our son, he got to go on the roof with Dad. For my husband, he had an extra set of hands, and someone to talk to. Chores can be a bonding experience. Or, they can suck, too. Low expectations, remember? :)...

Five gifts for someone who just had a baby

Five gifts for someone who just had a baby
Baby Boy #3 is two months old, and my husband and I have been blown away by the kindness of our friends and family. Here are five gifts for the parents who just brought home a bundle of joy A home cooked meal. The appreciation of this gift cannot be overstated. My husband and I... Read more »
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I don't want to fight about guns. I'm just one scared mama.

I don't want to fight about guns. I'm just one scared mama.
After the Sandy Hook shooting, one father's recounting of his final minutes with his son has always stuck with me: He stayed home a little longer before heading into work. His son was practicing piano, and he sat down next to him to listen. They played a few tunes together. That was it. Nothing epic. Just an every day occurrence; probably one that his son complained about doing, if he was anything like my six year old. And one that he never got to do again. When my son started full day Kindergarten this year, I knew that I would miss him like crazy. My intention was to spend at least 10 uninterrupted minutes with him before he left for school. On those mornings, when we get everything right, I am so grateful for these moments. We laugh together, and I send him off with a big bear hug. On those mornings when nothing goes right and we miss out on our precious moments, I'm flooded with guilt, and remember the Sandy Hook's dad's words. What if this was my last morning with my son? ...

Five ways I suck as a mom...and what I'm doing about it

Five ways I suck as a mom...and what I'm doing about it
You can call them resolutions, goals, newfound awareness, whatever. Here are five ways I suck as a mom...and what I'm doing about it. 1) I have unrealistic expectations. This applies to me, my husband, and my children. Expectations can be extremely helpful. But for an anal retentive type A planner like myself, they often disappoint me. A few months ago, I was regularly feeling angry, annoyed, and frustrated more than I would care to admit. In almost every instance, I could trace it back to having an unrealistic expectation. What I'm doing about it: First, I'm identifying what I think will happen in a given situation. Then I'm asking myself, "How could this play out in a way that I'm not expecting?" It sounds simple, but it's made a huge difference...

Five Christmas gifts that won't annoy Mom

Five Christmas gifts that won't annoy Mom
Are you wondering what to get the kids for Christmas, but you realize that they don't need anything? And while the thought of more stuff makes you want to cry, the idea of awkwardly asking your family to NOT give presents makes your palms sweat? Here are five Christmas gifts that won't annoy Mom (and will still allow the giver to give something)...
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What a cop and father of two says you should do if you witness a sexual assault

What a cop and father of two says you should do if you witness a sexual assault
Last week, I added my "Me too" to all the others going around social media. One of my friends responded with this: "Most people don't do anything when forced to react to a tough/awkward/scary situation... Most men know that saying something about a butt slap will accomplish nothing productive, and then put them in a confrontational situation with someone that is probably drunk and/or has low (or no) need to conform to polite society." That got me thinking: what should people do if they witness a sexual assault?  I contacted my friend, Tim, a police offer and father of two, and asked him for an interview. Tim would like to remind readers that this is not 100% guaranteed legal advice that will always keep you out of trouble and protect your physical safety. This is a hugely broad topic with many variables...

I like the Cook County beverage tax, and here's why

I like the Cook County beverage tax, and here's why
Illinois is in debt and we need money. Sure: you didn't get us into this fiscal mess, and you like your fizzy drinks. Sure: you didn't get us into this mess, and you drink Coke instead of coffee. Sure: you didn't get us into this, and you consume diet beverages with zero sugar! If your argument is that it's unfair for the government to tax something you like, then I guess you're right. I just wish there was another way... Oh, wait...It's not a required tax. Amazingly, there's a way to avoid these products: Stop. Buying. Them. (Gasp!) Like fizzy? Get a soda stream. Need caffeine? Switch to tea or coffee. Love diet beverages? There are still ones out there sans tax (just sampled some fizzy flavored coconut water at Costco, and that was a huge selling point). This leads me to point #3. These beverages are not necessities. We are fortunate to live in a country where we have clean running tap water (in most areas). Even if you partake in fizzy, caffeinated, diet beverages, they are full of fake crap, and THEY ARE NOT HEALTHY. Are they fun? Yes. Satisfying? Of course. Delicious? You bet. But they're not good for us, and we don't NEED them. They are a splurge, and should be treated as such...

Thank you for your many lessons, Difficult Child

Thank you for your many lessons, Difficult Child
Dear Difficult Child, Thank you for your many lessons. I was really starting to think that I was an amazing parent, based on your older brother, but now I realize that he is just a people pleaser who happens to be fairly EASY. You are neither of those things. But I want to thank you...
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I didn't think I could throw up while parasailing. I was wrong.

I didn't think I could throw up while parasailing. I was wrong.
France. Spain. Ireland. Austria. Hawaii. Mexico. Vietnam. Thailand. Botswana.  I have thrown up on the airplane, en route to all of these destinations. I've gotten pretty good at calculating my time to see if I can make it or not. If there are 20 minutes or more left on the flight, it's best to open the barf bag and get it over with. Fifteen minutes to go means that I should locate the barf bag, but just hold it in my hand, as a security measure. Ten minutes until landing is the sweet spot. I can make it 10 minutes. The first time I threw up in front of my husband was on our way to Ireland. Remember that ten minutes is the sweet spot... But we had a lot more time than that on our descent. I told him I didn't feel well, and he patted my leg. I reached for the barf bag, and he gave me a "Really, honey?" sweet roll of the eyes. I tore it open, whispered, "I'm sorry," and did the deed. He was a little shocked, but now he knew that I wasn't fibbing. Throwing up on planes was definitely a thing for me. Which is why, when I wanted to go parasailing in Aruba, I didn't give a second thought to my history of air sickness. My thing was throwing up on airplanes, and the parasailers I saw were gliding gracefully in the air with no bumps or turbulence to speak of. Boy, was I wrong...