The First Lady Of Leisure

The life and times of Arielle

Page 3 of 3

Beer For Books

Now that my daughter is in a neighborhood school, I wanted to really put myself out there and meet new people.  I wish that was true, in reality another parent volunteered me for a PTA event a few months back and I got sucked in to the outer edge of this magical group of moms and dads who do amazing things for the school and our community.  There are literally just a handful of devoted parents who throughout the year have spent countless hours tirelessly working so that the rest of us can feel like we are a part of the community we live in.  In addition to the PTA there is a non-profit that was created by a mom specifically to fundraise for the school.  95% of the money they make goes directly to the school.  That is unheard of in the non-profit sector and that is because it is 100% fueled by these moms who actually care about making the neighborhood a better place for other people’s children.

This group had a fundraising event last night called “Beer for Books”.  There were over 100 people that attended at $20/ticket.  In addition they had a live band, silent auction, live auction, alcohol sales, free food, and a really great community garden that I have driven past countless times and have never walked through.  Basically this group likely raised $15,000 and with 95% of the funds going directly to the school it’s as if they put on the event for $750 and the school gets $14,250 for things our children can benefit from on a daily basis.   Ironically, if you read my last post, one of the main goals of this non-profit is to raise the funds to give our play field proper drainage.  I heard through the mommy chain that it would be somewhere in the $100,000 range…where’s the city grant for that?  900+ kids have a small green space to run and play but only on days when it’s not a swamp because it lacks proper drainage.

Like the great mom that I am, I even volunteered at the event!  Again, I was actually just added to a volunteer list and assigned a time and a job…apparently I am great when forced into volunteering.  I left the kiddos at home with their dad, and dragged my best friend as my plus one and volunteer partner.  We spent 2 hours selling balloons with pieces of paper inside listing a prize or just thanks for supporting us.  This meant we watched drunken people pop balloons with scissors 5 feet from us…but we did it for the kids and so I could sort of attempt to branch out and meet new people…people who were too drunk to remember meeting me anyway…

Side note: At the after party there was a neighbor who was heavily intoxicated, but oddly had not been at the earlier event.  This woman bear hugged me and announced she will be coming to my house sometime for a tour of the inside because her “daughter loves that house and is always saying she wants to live there”.  A few friends reacted to my horror by doubling over in laughter causing one of them to choke on a chicken wing.  This distracted the drunk causing her to release her grip on me and she set her sights on the guy choking/laughing at her drunken physical contact.   I was left in shock and unsure of what to do given the breech in my personal space.  So like the lady that I am I waited till she went to use the restroom and ran away.  And now every time my dog barks I want to peek out the window to see if crazy is on my porch waiting for her tour of my house.  Sorry our tours ended an hour ago please come back tomorrow, we open at 9 am

The Playground Is Where I Spent Most of my Days…

My 3 year old had her last park district class today.  At the end of class, the park district director for our location brought out renderings of proposed playgrounds.  This particular facility currently has two playgrounds.  One my kids call “the splinter park” because it is old, dangerous, and wooden so they inevitably get a splinter each time they play.  This playground is proposed to be demolished and turned into a “green space”.  The other playground was installed 10 years ago, has no structural issues, and likely has at least 10 more years of play left.  This is the park being replaced.  One parent asked why the old equipment can’t be moved to the other park when the new one is installed.  No answer was given, though the change was explained by the director as a “grant from the city and not a burden on the taxpayers”.

Where exactly does she think the grant money is coming from?  Some wealthy anonymous benefactor who is personally funding these new parks?  It seems obvious to me that the city is using its taxpayer funds to offer “grants” to the park district and we are in fact footing the bill (it should be noted that I have a masters degree in Public Service Administration and I don’t like bullshit).  I would also like to point out that none of the parents standing there really believed that the residents have a say in the final decision.  In fact, I picked the proposed plan that had all of the same features as the current one (including a pirate ship play structure similar to what is currently there).  This renovation is scheduled for the fall…my guess is that the equipment is already sitting in storage and the decisions have been made. 

The proposed playground equipment easily retails for over $100,000 not to mention having the union guys demo and rebuild.  Our city is on the verge of bankruptcy and we are tearing down perfectly good playgrounds and not relocating the still usable structures we are replacing.  In addition, what is going to happen with the playground that they aren’t replacing?  Will they sell the scrap metal to benefit the park district, or perhaps the city?  The City Comptroller is supposed to enforce a rule that all city owned scrap metal be sold at auction to benefit the city.  In April, several media outlets reported that the Chicago Water Department had employees who routinely sold scrap metal on taxpayers time and kept the profit for themselves.  Clearly, we are a city with accountability issues.

Don’t get me wrong, I am very aware that once the money is allocated it is going to get spent, so if anyone gets a new playground why not my neighborhood?  Personally, I would rather see my kids amazing park district teachers with health insurance and a living wage…and don’t even get me started on the Chicago Public School budget fiasco…but the new swings are good too… 

Sympathetic Puking

For me, being pregnant was not a beautiful magical experience.  Sure, the idea that I was a creating a human inside me was fascinating and awe inspiring, but the side effects of having this little human leeching off me was not nearly as glamorous as I had envisioned.  I was one of the lucky ladies that experiences EXTREME morning sickness or Hypermesis Gravidarum to be technical.  With both pregnancies, I threw up from about the 8th week of pregnancy straight through into the delivery room.   This was not limited to any particular time of day, it was all day, everyday…and each pregnancy required several visits to the ER for an IV of fluids due to dehydration.

At the time, I understood that it was something I had to endure to have my kids, and obviously it was totally worth it…though I did get my tubes tied so it can never EVER happen again!  What I did not realize while becoming a world champion pregnant puker, was that my body/brain was not going to return to “normal” after delivering.   Instead, I became a sympathetic puker.

On Friday, Macey had a stomach bug and puked her lunch up in my mother in laws car.  I brought the needed cleaning supplies to the car but could not stomach actually looking.  I made her strip down my kid and I then took her in for a bath.  About an hour later while Macey was sitting with me on the couch she barfed again, on my lap.  Instantly, I began to dry heave.  I am pretty sure my mother in law wanted to yell at me to get my shit together, but she didn’t have a chance since I left the puking kid with her to sprint to the bathroom.   Fortunately, I am usually good after I barf as long as it doesn’t require me to clean up the mess, that is obviously my husbands job…which I think is what people mean when they say “you complete me”…


A little PSA:

While I am making light about my “sympathetic puking”, I think it is important to acknowledge that there are many men and women who struggle with eating disorders.  For more information, and to get help please visit The National Eating Disorders Association.

PPO’s Aren’t a Golden Ticket Afterall

You would not know it looking at her, but Macey was born 7 weeks early, and while healthy, it took 4 weeks to be eating enough and to pass the other NICU qualifications.  She was actually supposed to be released after 3 weeks, but the night before her release she had a “Brady” which is NICU terminology for “you just earned yourself 7 more days in the NICU”.

Unfortunately, the insurance company was not on the same page as the doctors.  Blue Cross had already decided the NICU stay was not pre-approved so there was a fight to get that covered…seriously, how silly of me to not call for pre-approval as I was being wheeled in to my emergency C-section 7 weeks early!  In addition, it took almost 6 months to finally get them to cover the extra week stay which they had deemed unnecessary.

Eventually, it all worked out, but here we are today.  My other daughter has to have surgery this summer.  She was born with a sacral dimple (small indentation at the top of her butt crack).  It’s pretty common, and they usually close on their own.  However, my daughter is in the rare category where the dimple turns into a cyst and has to be removed.   The surgeon has ordered an MRI because given its location, there is a chance the dimple has nerves that could be tethered to her spine.  Her actual surgery is scheduled for this summer, but her MRI is scheduled for tomorrow.

Imagine my surprise YESTERDAY when we get a call from Intelligen which is a subcontract of Blue Cross, to discuss “no cost MRI options”.    Given that we have a PPO I had assumed we would at most have to meet the annual deductible.  According to Intelligen, the hospital our pediatrician has referred us to was not in network which would result in 100% out of pocket costs…for an MRI and surgery we already have scheduled.

After a mild freak-out I called Blue Cross directly who told me that we are covered 80% them and 20% out of pocket up to our deductible.  This means that the hospital is in network and covered by insurance.  Blue Cross then tells me that I need to make sure the anesthesiologist is a PPO provider because if they are only HMO we aren’t covered.  Here I was thinking that having a PPO was like walking in with a Golden Ticket!

This led me to call my father in law, who is a rheumatologist, to ask if that’s true.  It turns out hospitals pull that shit, and they do it a lot!  Think about it, when you go in for a test or procedure, if you have insurance, you just assume the person from the medical end would mention that they are not covered by your insurance BEFORE you are laying in front of them having open heart surgery!!!

So, I called the office where I scheduled tomorrows MRI to confirm that the person doing the MRI, the anesthesiologist knocking my kid out, the radiologist reading the results, and the janitor cleaning the room after were all covered by my PPO.  This woman tells me “the insurance pre-verification came back fine, you are in network and covered”.   That’s right, Blue Cross had already pre-approved everything that’s being done!

The only medical professional that I can actually trust has recommended that when filling out the hospital paperwork before the MRI I write on each page “I will only be responsible for in network providers.  I will not be financially responsible for any out of network providers.” and of course get a copy of those papers.  This is the world we live in, hospitals are a business, and patients are numbers.

In other news, I will soon be selling self-inking stamps that reads “I will only be responsible for in network providers.  I will not be financially responsible for any out of network providers.”  Thanks Obama…

The Bridges of Cook County

“Any old bridge can be a palace, call it what you want to.

It’s a place to be when you got no place to go.”

-Merle Haggard (Under the Bridge)

I’m not one for neighbor shaming, because I am pretty sure I have more dandelions than grass at this point, but there is something happening in my neighborhood.  This one house spent a lot of time and energy transforming their front yard into what appears to be the new cool spot for the grownups to hang out.  They have seating, landscaping, a small wooden footbridge with river rocks to mimic a flowing stream, and to complete the look 2 orange cones to prevent anyone from actually attempting to cross the bridge.

As the sun begins to set each day, grownups begin gravitating with glass of wine in hand to sit by the bridge and chat.  It reminds me of hanging out by the “reservoir” in college.  It was a small lake like setting where college kids could drink beer and sit on inner tubes.  In retrospect, I’m not actually sure what it was a reservoir for, but I’m sure using my mommy eyes all I’d see is child proofing landmines and filthy water that I would be unwilling to sit in because I am pretty sure that’s how you contract Legionnaires’ disease, but I digress.

Basically, this bridge situation doesn’t make a damn bit of sense.  Why is there a bridge in the front yard that is unable to support the weight of a human?   And more importantly, why are people hanging out around it?  It would make way more sense for grownups to be drinking around a bonfire…and if I am ever invited to hang out by the bridge, I will suggest we make it into a bonfire.

But I guess we will cross that bridge when we come to it…

Arachnophobia: Genocide Edition

I hate spiders.   With their sticky webs and long thin legs, I recoil in terror at the thought of one even being inside the house.  When I actually encounter one, my instinct is to scream for help from my husband as if I have just come face to face with a 400 pound male intruder.    Fortunately, I rarely encounter spiders when he is out of the house or I may have signed the deed of the house and all of its contents over to one.   That said, this morning was a whole different story!

I walked out onto the front porch, breathed in the fresh air, and walked down the steps to put my kids backpack in the car.  Upon my return to the front porch I realized what I had unknowingly just walked through.  To my horror, I had thousands of gnat sized baby spiders that some bitch let hatch all over my front porch!  It was a sheet of them hanging from a web covering the brick next to my front door leading up to the light overhead.  For a moment I considered abandoning the house and my kids inside…after all, their dad would eventually be home, and I am sure a spider infestation is a reasonable excuse for abandonment.

After a few texts to my husband about how we were under attack and he needed to come home, I managed to get it together long enough to carefully sneak inside without the baby spider colony noticing (it should be noted that my husband claimed to have meetings which were more important than the spider siege that was trying to take over).  Per my husband’s suggestion I grabbed a can of Raid and went back to the front lines.  Armed with my weapon I unleashed the fury on those unwelcome visitors while using my front door as a shield should any foolish spiders attempt to cross the line.  After I emptied the entire can on them I took inventory of the carnage…dead baby spiders everywhere…and I thought good god, I haven’t seen their mother.  So now I have to sleep with one eye open and a can of raid in my hand because I’m pretty sure she’s coming for me.

Side note: Does anyone how to get the smell of Raid off your car keys?  I may have forgotten them on the porch before I unleashed the fury…

Dominos for the win

Last night, it was just Macey and I at home for dinner.  She wanted a hotdog, so at 4:45 I opened my GrubHub app and found a restaurant less than a mile away.  With the food ordered and an eta of one hour we went back to playing Barbie.  After almost an hour I got a text from Grubhub saying it would be an additional 30 minutes and sent a $5 coupon.  A little while later, an unknown number pops up on my phone.  I am typically a call screener but figured it got me out of playing Barbie so I answered.

Princess, my Grubhub driver was calling to let me know that she had asked Grubhub to send my order to another driver but they kept sending it back to her.  In addition, she could not get her Grubhub app to work so she could not check on my order, leaving me with 2 choices:

  1. Call Grubhub and cancel the order I’d already invested almost 2 hours waiting for
  2. Call Grubhub and say I still wanted my order and ask that they assign it to a driver other than Princess

Armed with Princess’ story, I call Grubhub to cancel my now soggy cold hotdogs.  Interestingly, the customer service rep wanted to know how Princess managed to call me but not her employer.  I was like “Why is Grubhub giving me so much info on how fucked up disorganized they are?”  Just kidding, I canceled my order and ordered Dominos.

Fortunately, the over 2 hour wait made my kid forget all about the hotdog (and she was stuffed with Doritos and ice cream by then anyway).  I ordered the pizza at 7:04, mind you it is a 6 minute drive according to googlemaps.  Omar pulled up in his golden chariot (blue toyota) and presented me with steaming hot delicious pizza at 7:24….just as Princess pulled up with my canceled order.

And you know what?  I owned that double delivery like the goddess that I am!  I graciously accepted my 2 pizzas (I found a 2 for 1 coupon), cinnamon sticks, hotdogs, etc…and proceeded to eat only 5 pieces of pizza…because my body is a temple.

Nanny Nemisis

My 3 year old participates in a wonderful park district run program.   While I normally try to avoid mass collections of toddlers, for the hour a week, I manage to survive knowing that Macey needs social interaction with someone other than me (except on rain days…we totally ditch on rain days…and maybe snow days).  The families are mostly from our little enclave of the city, and come from many diverse backgrounds.    The parents/nannies/grandparents that bring the kids are usually friendly and engaging.  Unfortunately, in a room of 2 and 3 year olds sometimes they act like monsters…and sometimes that monster is my spawn…and sometimes its a Nanny.  During the very first class my kid managed to somehow piss off the wrong nanny and now I have a Nanny Nemisis.

Some fun examples of Nanny Nemisis interacting with my kid over the last month and a half:

  1. Macey takes a toy from Nanny Nemisis’ charge.   This causes Nanny Nemisis to take the toy away from Macey while saying “NO!  You can’t have that.”
  2. Macey went to play a game with Nanny Nemisis’ charge and another kid.  Nanny Nemisis told Macey “NO! You can’t play here, you go over there.”

I should also point out that the woman is also taking 1,000 photos of other people’s children during class.  That’s right, if someone were to call the police on her for let’s say “child endangerment” and they looked at her phone this crazy woman would have an iphone full of candids of random children.

Or maybe I’m the crazy one…and maybe I’m a little annoyed that none of those photos are of my precious kid….




Potty training the second child

It took a solid year to potty train our first child.  I tried everything during that year, but one day the kid just decided she was ready and that was that.  You would think I would have learned from the first go around and had #2 trained before her 2nd birthday, but no, sadly she turned 3 in April and is still not potty trained.  She already found the stash of Peppa Pig toys that I was planning to use as bribery.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, she showed me her new prizes and announced that she had taken the tags off.   So here we are, I am now entering this weekend with a new blog, and a mission to get the second kid potty trained.  Sorry couches and wood floor for what you are about to experience…and welcome to my blog!

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