Saturday, November 19, 2011

WANTED: Book Club: Reading Optional

I know what you are thinking.  A Book Club?  Reading?  Who has time to read a book these days, let alone commit to it monthly? 

I understand and empathize with your concern(s). 

When pregnant, I read very few books about children.  Attempts were made to prepare for the future baby, but each time I picked up a book on infants my eyes glazed over and my hands uncontrollably wandered back to Girl with a Dragon Tattoo.

Ahh, those pregnancy days -- hours of luxurious free time; the ability to eat out, shop, and relax.  I didn’t realize how it would drastically change, so needless to say, there was a lot to learn (and read) when our son arrived.     

As each stage flies by, the array of advice books is overwhelming.  I imagined once I "caught up" in the reading I delayed in the beginning I could relax, but instead am in constant prep-mode for the next phase.  I consider it rude, but he won’t pause and wait for me to catch up.   It is nearly impossible to stay ahead of the curve.

The days of ample free time are now gone and when he naps I walk sadly past my tidy, unused bed to the reading chair.  I have to continue powering through.  

Not only am I researching parenting tips, but I also want to be aware of the world outside my window.  This involves scanning national headlines, being conversant in pop culture (though proud to say we are a Kardashian-free household), and maybe even squeezing in a few magazines. And dare I dream of adding in a book from the New York Times Best Sellers list?

With all of this pressure to raise an amazing child while keeping up to date in the realms of news, politics, and fashion, I am exhausted. 

However, I came up with an idea. 

Let’s start a Book Club where each member reads a different book.  You pick the focus; something of interest to you.  With an aim to balance required & desired reading, it can range from the latest best seller to the ‘joys’ of potty training.  Side note:  I prefer people who really like digging into developmental milestones, leaving me to focus on pop culture education.

Then we gather together to eat, drink, chat, and provide cliff note versions of what we learned. Everyone wins. We have less required reading, enjoy a girls’ night, and gain new insights in a fraction of the time.

No time for a full book?  We've all been there. Just bring a magazine, online article, or book previously read...we won't judge.

Not only will everyone walk away with more knowledge, but this allows me to dust off & spend quality time with my Real Simple & Lucky magazines. I may even pick up a copy of the Hunger Games and relax guilt free on the couch while Chase naps. 

Who's with me?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Urban Dweller

Disclaimer: this entry is not touting the city as superior to the suburbs or small towns.  Being from a small town and having many friends in the 'burbs, I have an appreciation and love for both.  I just think the city gets a bad rap, and while the city is not for everyone, it is the best option for us.   

Not only do my husband and I have a child and live in the city, but we plan on staying.

For some reason, when the above statement is shared, I am often met with a look of disbelief or horror.

To many, the idea of having a child and living downtown is less than ideal. Most couples run to larger, greener pastures when the plus sign is achieved on their pregnancy test. Well-intentioned friends cite the joys of a backyard, less traffic congestion, and more space when asking whether I will move to the suburbs.

For me, however, raising a tiny Chicagoan goes beyond a life of concrete, pollution, and a higher cost of living. There is so much to love about urban life, I wanted to share some of the reasoning below:

Time is a precious commodity and the city maximizes this non-renewable resource:

  • Being close to work is key. Less time commuting equals more time with family. Also, the short taxi ride home has me back at my desk – forgotten laptop in hand – before the boss has time to notice.
  • Proximity to my son’s school is crucial. After work, I only travel 10 minutes for a hug from my little man.
  • Jogging a few blocks to the Lake Front path provides a dose of both physical activity and nature. And if stopping to rest, I can pretend it is only to take in the skyline view.
  • A quick walk provides access to the Museum Park and numerous playgrounds. Museum Tip: take a stroller as ADA entry lines are much shorter. Though they may catch on if you don’t at least have a child in tow.
  • A Bus, El, or Cab in any direction provides so many restaurant & bar options, we never have to visit the same place twice. Unless we want to. I’m talking to you, Smoque.
Condo Life:
A frequent question I hear is Don’t you want a yard?

While many find satisfactionfrom a weekend of mowing and weeding, I do not. This is a reason Condo life is ideal for me – offering the perks of home ownership without a few of the hassles:

Sidewalks are free of weeds, snow, and ice without (me) lifting a finger…or shovel.

  • The rich variety of cultures in our community enriches our lives immensely.
  • A doorman signs for deliveries and as a bonus, keeps them from being stolen.
  • Trash day is any day. And down the hall. Handy for the forgetful (me) and lazy (me).
  • A smaller home is easier to clean. Couple swipes of the swiffer and call it a day.
  • The indoor, heated parking garage doubles nicely as play area when rainy or cold.
  • Trick-or-Treating is a breeze. No coat required and we are done in a fraction of the time.
In my mind, living in the heart of what we love, avoiding some house worries, and enjoying additional time with my son (and husband) is well worth the higher COL.