Wednesday, March 10, 2010

$30 for Professional Photo Session

I just purchased this You Swoop today which gets you a one hour photo session plus 25 pictures on disc for $30!  You can combine the deal and buy two of them which will get you 2 hours and 50 pictures.  I don't know a thing about the local photographer, Gretchen Kelley, but I hit her website and her portfolio looks great.  What an awesome opportunity to have high quality photos taken of your kids for very little $.  Click here for the You Swoop link. And for those who have never used You Swoop, it is pretty much the same thing as Groupon.  Happy You Swoop-ing!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Salmonella Slide (aka: You Won't See This on an Episode of a "Baby Story")

So I ended up taking a maternity leave not only from my job but from the blog too.  I wasn't planning on it but a "funny" thing happened in the delivery room that made me decide to be as in the moment with my kids as I possibly could over my 12 weeks off.  I tried to blog about it right when we got out of the hospital, but it was just too new and too fresh and I found myself typing, and typing, and typing and providing medical details that would have bored you all.  Instead, I'll try to make this long story a little shorter. I hope that sharing our story helps prevent this scenario from happening to another pregnant mama. I'll preface this story by saying I expected that there would be a lot of poop talk in my house with a newborn coming home and toddler who refuses to be potty trained.  I had no idea that I was about to launch into weeks of discussion about my own poop.  And if poop grosses you out, stop reading right now and skip to the lighthearted family friendly events section.  
Here we go....almost two weeks before I went into labor my husband and I headed out for one last date night.  I picked a relatively new restaurant on the scene, a destination garnering all kinds of buzz from the foodies.  A restaurant that just received national attention in a major magazine and is constantly featured in local mags.  A restaurant I plugged on my blog.  And, I must say, we enjoyed a wonderful meal in a cool atmosphere sans children.  It seemed perfect.  Until 2am when I woke up sick to my stomach.  It lasted for 3 full days.  Not so fun when you're 9.9 months pregnant.  We shared a meal that fateful night but my husband never got sick. I was the only one on the pot every 10 minutes so I did not jump to the food poisoning conclusion.  I called my OBGYN's office and they weren't too concerned.  Frankly, I wasn't either as I had had every illness under the sun during this pregnancy, so three days solid of diarrhea was just par for the course.  My husband finally banished me to the bed for a full day where I did nothing but drink water, eat crackers, and watch bad reality television.  Finally on Sunday I felt better and all symptoms were gone.  A week later I had forgotten all about this incident as I was delivering what appeared to be a healthy baby boy.  
A day after he was born he started pooping blood.  He wanted to sleep all day and didn't have any interest in eating.  After much urging, as the nurses really wanted the blood in the diaper to be from his circumcision, the little love bug was admitted to the NICU.  He was immediately given antibiotics and a spinal tap and the docs started running tests.  My little 8lb newborn wasn't allowed to eat so I watched him rooting for a boob he couldn't have for days while we waited for his cultures to grow.  Finally the cultures grew.  Grew salmonella.  Salmonella?!?  The only thing I could think of was that someone fed my newborn a raw chicken pacifier in the nursery and I would kill that person with my bare hands.  But that wasn't the case.  The CDC wanted to find out what formula he had drank in the hospital in case there was a salmonella outbreak in formula.  The contagious disease team questioned the hospital staff on cleanliness practices.  I was shocked when the infectious disease team wanted to question me.  I was on a witch hunt to find who had made my baby sick and had never even considered that it could have been ME.  Tests were run on the whole family and my husband and I tested positive for salmonella.  Subsequently, we found out all kinds of fun facts about the nasty little bacteria.  Who knew that you could share a meal with someone, both of you could get food poisoning, and one person could have horrendous symptoms while the other had no symptoms?  Who knew that when you have salmonella that you "shed" or are contagious five weeks?  Who knew that a baby could contract salmonella at birth from a mom that no longer had signs of being sick from food poisoning?  
I wanted to keep this story short and it's turning into a novel.  Let me cut to the chase.  The love bug is fine after two weeks of antibiotics in the NICU.  And by the way, if you have to do hard time in NICU, the Prentice NICU is top notch.  The bug also broke his clavicle during delivery, and thankfully the salmonella did not infect the broken bone or we would have been there 8 weeks.  My 3 year old was angry enough at me for being MIA for 2 weeks.  Eight weeks would have been a disaster.  
While what happened to me is extremely rare, here's my advice to pregnant women.  If you come down with severe and ongoing diarrhea within 5 weeks of delivery, insist that your doc takes a stool sample.  A stool sample is one of the more disgusting things I've ever done in my life but all of this drama could have been avoided had I been diagnosed prior to delivery.  Salmonella is only passed one of two ways: feces to mouth or through food poisoning.  Disgusting, I know, but you can now guess how my baby contracted it on his way into this world.  Had I known this was a possibility, I would have elected for a c-section.  I wasn't the pregnant girl who avoided blue cheese and lunch meat.  But if I were to become pregnant again, and I assure you I've taken measures to avoid ever getting knocked up again, I would be very cautious about what I ate in the last month of my pregnancy.  My meat would be well done, my eggs would never be poached, I would not eat homemade ice cream or raw cookie dough, or anything else containing raw eggs. 
Every day I feel SO very lucky as this story could have had a devastating ending.  I could rant on my soap box for hours about this topic.  Instead I'll just point you in the direction of an eye-opening documentary, "Food, Inc.".  You will cry your eyes out when you see the pain of a mother talking about her 2 1/2 year old that died from E.coli food poisoning after eating a hamburger.  I'll just say this, the premium you'll pay for grass fed beef and free range chickens seems like a small price to pay for safer meals for your family.  
To all the parents that have spent an extended amount of time with a baby in NICU, I have a whole new appreciation of what you have gone through - the worrying, the pumping, the endless days spent in a room with no window watching a helpless little creature hooked up to countless tubes, the attempt at trying to give siblings at home a normal life.  I'm so fortunate that our story came to an end after two weeks and that everyone is just fine. 
Sorry, when you received this email you probably thought you were getting a cute little post about family friendly happenings in Chicago next week.  After all the heavy stuff above, that's the least you deserve.  Windy City Tot is back in business.  I can't promise a posting every week, as life with two kids is more chaotic than I ever imagined, but I will update you on happenings as frequently as possible.  Here we go....

I'm really excited about the opening of All New to Me in Lincoln Square.  Chicago desperately needs more stores that sell previously owned clothes, toys, and gear for babies and kids!  See below for more deets... 

Yoga for Kids: Agassiz school in Lincoln Park offers some great quarterly classes for kids.  You can sign up for an entire session or just drop in when you are looking for something to do on a cold winter day!  Kids and parents learn yoga poses and breathing through art, songs and games.  This class is taught by Self Centered Yoga.   
Where: Agassiz School • 2851 North Seminary
When: Most Tuesdays 9:30a-10:15a

Discovery Dig Wednesdays: Every Wednesday afternoon at the Garfield Park Conservatory, the Children's Garden turns into a dig pit.  Kids can dig for dinosaur bones, plant pretend gardens, and learn about plants.  FREE!
Where: Garfield Park Conservatory • 300 North Central Park
When: Wednesdays 3p-6p

Bambino Music with Little Miss Ann: Another awesome class brought to you by Friends of Agassiz. On Fridays, Little Miss Ann, leads two music classes for kids who are 6 months - 3 years old.  $10 for a drop in class.
Where: Agassiz School 2851 North Seminary
When: Most Fridays • 9:15a-9:55a and 10a-10:40

All New to Me - Grand Opening Party: If you had ever been in the Thrifty Baby store on Western in Lincoln Square, you would probably agree with me that it was a great concept gone wrong.  As of this week, Thrifty Baby is under new ownership and has gotten a much needed face lift.  The new owner, Kim, has cleaned, painted, sorted through the junk, and updated all the clothes and gear offered by the store.  When I popped by  she had a stack of Radio Flyer ride on toys still in their boxes and a ton of adorable clothes.  If you want first dibs on the goods, stop by for the Grand Opening Party this Friday night!
Where: 4546 N. Western, Chicago
When: Grand opening party is Friday 5p-8p store officially opens on Monday 3/15

NPN's 30th Anniversary Party at Lil Kickers:  Yes, this event is sold out.  But click on the link to enter to win tickets through Time Out.  The event will feature indoor soccer activities, inflatables, arts and crafts, story telling, face painting, games, snacks, prizes and more.  Your kids are guaranteed to take a good nap after this event.
Where:  Lil' Kickers, ChiTown Futbol • 2343 S. Throop St., Chicago
When:  Saturday 9:30a - 12:30p

Free Ralph's World Shows: Ralph Covert of Ralph's World, will be playing some solo gigs live at Border's this weekend.  The Little Man is a Ralph's groupee, so we may trek to the burbs for this.
Where: Wilmette and Oak Brook Borders
When:  Sat 11am in Wilmette and Sat 2p in Oak Brook

St. Patrick's Day Family Party: it's a little tough to justify an all day, green beer guzzling pub craw at this stage of the game, but at least you can hang in a family friendly bar enjoying music with your little ones this weekend.  And yes, you may even  enjoy Super Stolie and the Rock Stars who sing tunes like the blues song "Peanut Butter Blues" and a cover of "Don't Worry be Happy".  There will be arts and crafts and organic treats.  $5 per person.  Infants are free.  
Where: Beat Kitchen • 2100 West Belmont
When: Sunday 12 noon

Friday, February 5, 2010

Alder Planetarium: $40 for a One Year Family Membership

After a 10 week maternity leave, Windy City Tot is back.  I'll explain why I took so much time off in my next posting.  Anyway, today's Groupon is not to be passed up.  Hit this Groupon link for a $40 one year family membership.  More good stuff to come soon!  

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gift Cards and Goods For Less - Online Auction This Week

From a blogging perspective, this was a great weekend to have a baby!  Greetings from Prentice where I birthed a healthy baby boy early Saturday morning.  I was happy to find out that it is not a myth, delivery and recovery really are 1000x easier the second time around.  And it is amazingly easy to get some blogging done when you are isolated to a room that does not contain a 3 year old, stacks of laundry, or a grocery list - just a sleepy little newborn!  The blog will be abbreviated this week since I have a good excuse and because of the holiday.  But pay attention peeps, there are some awesome deals to be had below! 

Deals on the Cheap: Online Auction for Families Together 
Families Together, a coop pre-school in Edgewater, is having an online auction fundraiser with loads of great goods.  I'm particularly psyched about the $20 starting bid price on the $50 gift card for Nightwood (amazing new restaurant in Pilsen - get there if you haven't already).  There are 73 items in the 'food and wine' category including gift cards to Hop Leaf, Metropolis, Charlie Trotters, Uncommon Ground and a signed Rick Bayless cookbook. There's some great items in the 'Kids" category as well.  Check out Gymboree gift cards, Snippets gift cards, and a discounted 10-punch card to Family Grounds.  Bidding starts on Monday 11/23.  Don't miss out on the opportunity to get a great x-mas gift for you or a friend at a discount!  Click here for the auction site.  Happy bidding and Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Holiday Photo Card Contest - First Email Wins!!!

A few weeks ago I featured holiday photo cards and photo announcements by Mommies Ink on Windy City Tot.  Jen, the local designer/owner of Mommies Ink, has now offered to give a free photo card to one lucky WCT reader!  The first one to email me at: wins a free photo holiday card!  The winner will simply pick their favorite design (um, she has some new ones up that are AMAZINGLY CUTE), then send Jen the photo(s) to appear on your card, pick your font and wording, and she'll send you back an adorable photo card for you to send to everyone on your holiday card list.  Jen also told me about press printing, so that your photo card can be printed on card stock instead of on photo paper.  Check out mpix or A Printing Press for photo or press printing options or print on photo paper through Walgreens, Costco, Kodak, etc.  It is a totally simple, unique, and inexpensive way to impress everyone on your holiday card list!  
Good luck in the contest!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Notebart Nature Museum on the Cheap! Monday 11/16 - Sunday 11/22

Readers, sorry I've been a blogging slacker.  38 weeks pregnant + colds in our house + a stomach bug for mom + trying to organize my life for a newborn = no blog last week.  As much as I'm trying to savor the last weeks of relative sanity in this house, the above scenario has been par for the course with this pregnancy and I'm ready to birth this baby.  Now.  So, over the next month you can expect more of the same blogging slackerness as I'm juggling life with a new baby and a toddler.  My plan is to publish one giant posting for December encompassing much of the holiday festivities in Chicago.  That's the plan anyway.  Hopefully it will come to fruition.  In the meantime, here's what's happening now and an awesome deal that you should jump on to help keep the family entertained during the doldrums of winter:

Groupon for Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum - Hurry, this deal is about to expire.  Don't miss your chance to purchase a  1 year family membership to the Nature Museum for only $27!  What an awesome price for access to the indoor play area, the butterflies, discounts on classes, and everything else the museum has to offer.  I just bought mine.  I'm so excited!  Hit this link to purchase.


Morning Glories for Families: Every Monday morning families with preschoolers are invited to the Garfield Park Conservatory for a hands on nature project and story time followed by the opportunity to dig in the dirt, water the plants, and play with musical instruments.  $1 suggested donation per family. 
Where: Garfield Park Conservatory • 300 N Central Park, Chicago
When: Mondays 10a-12n

Park District Fall Family Night: Head to Gompers Park with the fam to meet live animals, make nature themed crafts, enjoy refreshments and even a bonfire if weather permits.  
Where: Gompers Park • 4222 W Foster, Chicago
When: Thursday 5p-6:30p

Magnificent Mile Lights Festival: The annual lighting procession along Michigan Ave led by Mickey Mouse is this weekend.  It is a fun family event, but be prepared for massive crowds.  Last time we did it we camped out in the Citibank on Michigan Ave.  Yes, it is a random place to watch, but it is elevated a bit above the crowds and you don't have to stand in the cold.  Use your ATM card to get in and then hang out in the window to watch the Disney characters float by and the lights come on along the Avenue.  For pre-lights festivities, hit the Justin Roberts show at 11a and the Ralph's world performance at 12:15p.
Where: Pioneer Court • 401 N Michigan Ave, Chicago
When: Saturday • 11a-10p

Talkin Turkey at the Nature Museum: Get the kids gobbling  about Thanksgiving at the Nature Museum this weekend.  They'll see a wild turkey, play turkey trivia and make turkey crafts.  Free with admission.  This is a great time to activate the Groupon you purchased above and hit the Green City Market as well!
Where: The Notebaert Nature Museum • 2430 N Canon Drive, Chicago
When: Sat and Sun 11a-3p

Baby Loves Disco: Head to the Metro on Sunday for entertainment including a DJ spinning hits from the 70s - 90s, dancing, bubbles, props, bean bag chill out area, free product samples, snacks and more.  It's the best of both worlds.  Mom and dad can get a bloody and the tots can get an organic juice box.  $12 per walking human in advance and $15 at the door.
Where: The Metro • 3730 N Clark, Chicago
When: Sun 12n-3p 

Harvest Hootenanny: Old Town School of Folk Music is holding a Harvest Ho-Down concert featuring country kiddie-tunes.  $12 non-members / $11 members. 
Where: Old Town School of Music • 4544 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago
When: Sunday 11a

Kids Music at the Beat Kitchen: Mary Macaroni will perform the matinee kids show on Sunday at the Beat Kitchen.  Make a meal of it and grab lunch/brunch there beforehand.  The kids can get a grilled cheese while you chow down on a breakfast wrap. Hang out for arts and crafts after the show.  
Where: The Beat Kitchen • 2100 West Belmont
When: Sunday Brunch starts at 11:30 and Karen performs at noon.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday 11/2 - Sunday 11/8

Thought of the Week:  The Holiday Card Your Friends Won't Have
Apparently it is the holiday season. On Saturday I was in Target, doing a last minute Halloween supply mad dash, and was shocked, as I am every year, that the Christmas season seems to be starting weeks, maybe months, earlier than it did back in the days pre-Big Box retailers.  On one hand, I'm pissed that Target and other retailers have defined mid-October as the start of the holiday season.  On the other, I feel that maybe this is the kick in the butt I need this year to get a head start on all things holiday.  After all, my due date is two days after Thanksgiving, which means my normal last minute shopping routine is not going to be ideal given I'll have a newborn attached to my boob and a 3 year old vying for my attention.  Just as all these thoughts of stressful holiday chaos was floating through my head, I saw that a local mom with a business called Mommies Inkhad started following me on Twitter.  When I clicked on her Etsy site to figure out what she's selling, my first thought was: BRILLIANT.  For $10, yes only $10, she will insert one of your pictures into her cute photo card designs.  You pick the design, you pick the font, you pick the wording.  She sends the completed card back to you, you upload it to Kodak, Walgreens, Costco, wherever you get your online photos printed (I personally prefer mpix).  Have them printed shiny or matte, 4x6 or 5x7, and then stuff them in envelopes that you can purchased online as well (try Action Envelopes).  According to my rough number crunching, photo cards done this way will cost about 1/2 the price you would pay on Tiny Prints.  Plus you'll send out a card that most of your friends have never seen before.  And if you are willing to pay a little more, Mommies Ink will customize a design for you.  If only I had thought of this...if only I had majored in graphic design....if only I knew how to use my bootleg copy of PhotoShop.  Until then, I'll use Mommies Ink for my birth announcement/holiday card this year!


Tots on Tuesdays at the Shedd: Every Tuesday the Shedd Aquarium offers activities devoted to toddlers and pre-schoolers. There are story times, crafts, animal touch programs, videos and costumed characters.
Where: The Shedd Aquarium • 1200 S. Lakeshore Drive, Chicago
When: Tuesdays • 9a-5p

Nature Pals Playgroup: Bring your 1 to 4 year old to the Nature Museum to meet new friends and explore hands-on nature themed activities. $15 for an adult + 1 child.  $10 for additional children.   
Where: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum • 2430 N Cannon Drive
When: Wednesday 9:30a-10:30a

Park District Fall Family Night: On Thursday night, why not have the nanny drop the kids off at your office downtown and then head to Northerly Island with the fam.  You'll meet live critters, make fall themed nature crafts, and enjoy refreshments.  This is an indoor activity.  FREE.
Where: Northerly Island • 1400 S Lynn Wright Drive
When: Thursday 5p-6:30p

Green City Market Moves Indoors: As sad as it is to see the Green City Market move inside for the season,  we have to be thankful that we have access to an amazing farmers market in the city all year round.  Plus, this is one of the best family activities going on cold winter weekends.  Mom or dad get to shop for produce, meat, dairy, etc and kids get to spend a morning with the butterflies, at the indoor play area, and checking out the Critter Cam Exhibit.  
Where: Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum • 2430 N Cannon Drive
When: Saturdays 8a-1p

Drum Circle at the Lincoln Park Cultural Center: Come make music with your little ones ages 6 and under on Saturday in Lincoln Park.  An hour of beating on drums sounds like a more sane plan than a drum set at home!  FREE!
Where: Lincoln Park Cultural Center • 2045 N Lincoln Park West
When: Sat 10a-11a

Kids Music at the Beat Kitchen: One of our favorite Wiggle Worms teachers, Karen of the Karen for Kids Band, will perform a matinee show on Sunday at the Beat Kitchen.  Make a meal of it and grab lunch/brunch there before hand.  The kids can get a grilled cheese while you chow down on a breakfast wrap.
Where: The Beat Kitchen • 2100 West Belmont
When: Sunday Brunch starts at 11:30 and Karen performs at noon.