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Monday, May 21, 2012

FINALLY! Mexico Part 2 (The story of awkward mom)


I truly hope this story is actually weird to anyone other than myself. I feel like I've waited so long to share it that it doesn't even matter anymore, but oh well, here goes...

Before we left for Mexico, I told Dylan that she absolutely had to find a friend on day one of the trip. When Dylan doesn't have a friend on vacations, she is a total pain in the ass. When she does have a friend? A total delight. (translation: she lets me sit on my ass reading without demanding that I entertain her).

To her credit, she totally followed my direction. Within 15 minutes of our first day at the pool, she had introduced herself to a girl her age, and voila - instant BFF for the week. Dylan and Lauren did everything together. They wore matching black sun hats, they went swimming, they drank a gajillion Miami Vices (non-alcoholic strawberry daquiri mixed with pina colada) and they chilled out in the hot tub. They also did what all tween girly girls do - they giggled a LOT.

So, one afternoon, Lauren headed into town, and Dylan was forced to hang out with us on the chaise lounges (see above photo). Shortly after she settled down, one of the other vacationing moms at the hotel came over to her and asked if she had been in the hot tub earlier. At this point, Michael and I had our radar up, as it's kind of disconcerting for another adult to address your child in your presence without even acknowleding said child's parents. Dylan responded that she had indeed been in the hot tub earlier. The mom then proceeded to lecture Dylie for being mean to her kids! Apparently, her kids had told her that two girls in black hats were making fun of them in the hot tub, saying that they were ugly, etc. etc.

Now, I know my kid. Had my SON told me she was mean? I would have totally believed it. But would Dylan ever be hurtful to someone who wasn't a family member? NEVER. That's just not her. She is one of the most empathetic people I have ever met (adults included), and is super sensitive to bullying of all kinds. 

Michael told the mom as such (I was sitting in stunned silence with my mouth hanging open), explaining that our kid would never behave that way, and telling her that it must be some sort of misunderstanding. The mom responding by turning to Dylan (again, not to us), and saying, "Well, if you did do it, you know that it's wrong to do that right?" and then she left. The three of us were totally shocked and kind of weirded out by the entire interaction.

Flash forward to 10 minutes later. The same mom approaches us again. And once again, she goes straight to Dylan. This time, it's with an apology. Apparently, her kids MADE THE WHOLE THING UP. My guess is that they were intimidated by two cute girls giggling in the hot tub and assumed that the girls were giggling about them. The mom also apologized to us. It was super, super awkward.

For the rest of the week, I did my best to avoid the mom. I was on vacation. Awkward encounters had no place on my vacation.

Well, then we show up at the airport. And guess who is at our gate? Awkward mom. 

Dylan was horrified, and asked me if I thought the family lived near us in Chicago. I told her they could easily be flying to Chicago to transfer somewhere else. And then in one of my snottiest moments ever (and I apologize in advance to those this offends), I said, "and even if they do live in Chicago, I am QUITE SURE they live in the suburbs." (I know, I know).

Later that day, we land at O'Hare, and I have to run to the customs bathroom so that Dylan can continue her food poisoning vomit fest (it was fun!). Guess who walks into the bathroom? Awkward mom. It was getting to be ridiculous.

A week or two after our vacation, I took Dylan to our local skating rink for the dress rehearsal of the ice show. The rink is the only indoor public rink in the city and is located about a mile and a half from our house. I get her skates on and put her on the ice, and I get ready to leave the rink. And who do you suppose I see? FRICKIN' AWKWARD MOM IS AT OUR RINK.

Now, to her credit, she called me over, apologized again for everything, and told me that it was one of the more horrifying moments of her life. We ended up chatting for about 10 minutes (she was actually kind of nice), and things ended on an OK note. Turns out, her kids go to the school just north of ours (NOT in the suburbs), and we know a ton of people in common. 

And that is the final saga in our Mexico trip. Weird, right?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mexico Part 1.5: I'm Still Peeved

Did any of you see the article about Fishers Island in the New York Times travel section on Sunday? It's here, if you missed it. To summarize, a mom took her 18-year-old daughter to spring break in Florida, splurging on a very upscale hotel. There were multiple issues at the hotel, and I couldn't help but be reminded of our own spring break debacle. The line that really resonated was this one,

One of the problems with staying at an exorbitantly priced resort is that the rates raise the bar so high that any slight or sign of neglect feels like betrayal; flaws that might be overlooked at a more modestly priced hotel are hard to forgive when a single night can cost more than the airfare.

That is exactly how I felt at the CasaMagna in Puerto Vallarta. Granted, it wasn't anywhere near as expensive as the hotel this woman stayed at, but since it was a five star joint, we had certain expectations. 

I also found myself relating to the writer's desire to share her experiences with other guests:

I wanted to buttonhole another guest to see if I was overreacting.

Michael and I spent the entire week saying, "Are we overreacting? Are we crazy?"


We do have one more story to tell about our Mexican adventure, and this one is a doozy, I promise!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mother's Day to Me!

I had a perfect Mother's Day weekend.Friday night was filled with our new favorite show, American Pickers and yummy delivery from a vegetarian Indian restaurant. On Saturday, we had breakfast at The Bagel (love that place) and then rushed home to spend the day laying around doing nothing. It was heavenly. I told Max that my big wish for Mother's Day was to lay on the couch with him watching cooking shows on PBS. He complained a bit, but then complied. 

Later that evening, Michael and I headed out for date night at a steakhouse downtown, and then we walked over to Nordstrom's where I got to pick out my present (a new purse - I am a very lucky woman). On Mother's Day itself, we headed out to the suburbs to do our food shopping at Meijer, which was one of our favorite supermarket chains in Ohio and Michigan. Sadly, the one we picked was pretty small and lame, but it was nice to get out of the city, albeit for an hour.

When we got back to the city, we walked over to one of our local restaurants for brunch outside, and then Max and I headed over to the garden center to pick out veggies and flowers for planting. After planting everything we bought, we enjoyed a lovely barbecued dinner with my brother. It was a great weekend.

This morning, I was feeling a bit under the weather, and Max came upstairs to say goodbye before school. He also handed me two laminated sheets that he brought home last week and forgot to give me yesterday. One was a handprint with a cute poem. The other was a list of the Top 10 Reasons He Loves His Mom:

10: She puts me to bed on time

9: She makes me a good lunch

8: She's good at being a mom

7: She's nice

6: She wakes me up in time for school

5: She makes me feel safe

4: She takes care of me

3: She's funny

2: She's a very good cook

1: She loves me


You can't get much better than that.

Monday, May 07, 2012

The Joseph Kony Project: A Guest Post by Dylan Wiley

Hi everyone! I am Dylan Wiley (Danielle's daughter) and I just recently wrote a book for my school called The Joseph Kony Project. It was for my school Pulitzer Prize. I became a nominee but, sadly, I didn't win. I would like to share my story here to see what your thoughts on it are.

The Joseph Kony Project

By: Dylan Wiley

Joseph Kony, The LRA, Invisible Children, all of these are huge problems that we need to fix. This problem in central Africa is unlike anything that has ever happened before. The LRA is an army that commits terrible crimes but, there are organizations trying to help fight against the unique challange of Joseph Kony.

 The Army

The LRA is a horrible army that commits terrible crimes. The first thing you need to know is that Kony's army is called The Lord's Resistance Army or for short, The LRA. One of the most atrocious things that Kony does is taking kids from their homes, giving them a weapon, and telling them to hurt or kill innocent people. Kony is so mean that if the kids disobey him, he kills them. But, dont worry, we're safe. Kony's army is in central Africa.

The Charity

Invisible Children is a charity that is trying to help stop Kony but, they don't use all of their donated money for this cause. Invisible Children spent 80% to 85% of the charity money on program expenses. That is a lot of money! The employees got a lot of money too. The three highest paid employees got between $87,00 and $90,000 in 2010. they use some of their money wisely though. Invisible Children spends charity money to bring survivors of Kony's army to the United States to raise awareness of Kony. Invisible Children made a bideo to help raise awareness. But, the video was made by activists or someone that fights for a cause, not journalists. The charity really doesn't use very much money for the cause at all. They only use 30% for the charity.

Fun Facts

There are a lot of interesting facts related to Kony, The LRA, and Invisible Children. Kony is one of the worst people in the world! He is #1 on the list of most wanted people. Kony has been taking children for a really long time. He has been taking children for almost 30 years! One thing nobody knows about Kony is where he is. He hasn't been in Uganda for 6 years. The Kony 2012 video was a big hit. After 3 days of it's release on YouTube, it was viewed on YouTube 40 million times!

The LRA and Joseph Kony are sone of the biggest problems and we need to raise awareness of Kony and find him.

The End



I really hope you enjoyed my book! Please leave a comment and tell me if you enjoyed. Thank You!


Thursday, May 03, 2012

Weird Mexico Trip: Part One

As I mentioned yesterday, we went on a very strange family vacation to Mexico. There are actually two stories to be told here, so I'm breaking this into two posts. 

(A note: this ENTIRE post could easily be filed under first world problems. We are so very fortunate to be able to take trips like this, and I am sharing this story because it amuses me, not because I am scarred in any way from my luxury vacation-gone-bad.)

This was our third visit to Puerto Vallarta. On our previous two visits, we stayed at the Sol Melia, which is just a fabulous all-inclusive hotel. It's not the fanciest place ever, but it is clean, and the rooms are spacious. The pool is enormous, and there is always something going on. The kids club has lots of different activities (art, water volleyball, face painting, talent shows, sand castles) and they have terrific entertainment every night under a large palapa. Silly me assumed that any four or five star all-inclusive hotel in that area would be the same way. So, when I started researching this year's spring break trip and there was a five star Marriott available just down the road from the Melia at a significantly lower price, we decided to make the switch. Ay yi yi - not a good call.

We arrived at the hotel and soon realized that most of the guests were NOT all-inclusive. This created a slew of annoyances, most of which are too boring to detail here, but the biggest issue was that it meant that all of the restaurants were empty. I mean, think about it. If you were staying at a pricey hotel and paying for all of your food and drink, would you choose to dine there? I think not. It is WAY more enticing to hop into a taxi and head into the downtown area for amazing and affordable food. We ended up doing that a few times ourselves (even though our meals were paid for), but for most of our meals, we were kind of stuck at the hotel. And thus we ended up eating dinner in restaurants that were virtually empty almost every night. So awkward. 

There were other aggravations as well. The kids club offered no activities beyond video games and movies. The fitness classes were taught by staff members with no training. The pool was packed with people who weren't even staying at the hotel so it was a total zoo (people walking around with six packs of beer in walmart bags, styrofoam coolers everywhere, etc.). There was no entertainment in the evening. Again, we are so fortunate to be able to take vacations like this, but when you pay for a 5 star hotel, you expect a 5 star experience.

So, I did what any other blogger in my situation would do. I took to Twitter. Oy, that was a HUGE mistake. As soon as Marriot corporate got wind of our displeasure, we were bombarded. Managers started calling our room just to check on us and see what they could do. The head of recreation took over the fitness classes and came to get me every day for the water aerobics (so awkward). I had complained that we were disappointed by the sad, Americanized kids menu at every restaurant (hot dog, chicken fingers, etc.). This led to Max receiving a plate of tuna tartare (his favorite) at every dinner (hand delivered from the one restaurant that served it on the other side of the resort). I can now kind of sympathize with celebrities who try to live a low-key life. It's impossible! Everywhere we went, we were greeted with, "The Wileys! How are you? Do you need anything?"

So... that's part one of our strange story. Part two is even stranger. Stay tuned. :-)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Where I've Been

Michael informed me yesterday that it had been two months since I last posted. Jeez. I kind of feel like I am in a constant state of triage. If a body part isn't bleeding, if a client isn't yelling, if a proposal isn't waiting, well, then, it just doesn't happen.

In the past two months, though, lots has happened. We went on a really weird trip to Mexico, we rejoined our CSA, which will start up soon, Sway Group hired its second full time employee, we quit drinking for two weeks in an attempt to lose our beer bellies, I baked baguettes for the very first time, I ran for school council and was TROUNCED, we had two unpleasant incidents with Max's first grade teacher, Max has become obsessed with paper airplanes, Dylan has become obsessed with YouTube nail videos and has learned to chalk her hair, we bought a new fish (Darth Vader) and a new Guinea Pig (Bubba). 


Any votes on which of the above I write about first? I want to start sharing here again, so I'll start making my way through that list.

Friday, March 02, 2012

MOTOACTV: My new favorite running toy!

Disclosure: The MOTOACTV was provided to me for free. In return, I used it at the Disney World Princess Half Marathon and agreed to share my thoughts online. Thoughts are my own!


When my friend Blagica posted on Facebook that she had some nifty MOTOACTV devices to share with ladies running the Princess Half Marathon, I practically broke my finger in my race to nab one for myself.

Here's why I wanted one so badly: I am REALLY tired of running with my phone. I have been using my iPhone as my primary running device, and it certainly does a great job. I can track my mileage (which I usually do using Nike+ app), I can listen to my running playlists, and... I can get calls from my kids! And text messages asking me when I'm coming home! And this is why I wanted another option. I don't want to take calls or receive texts when I'm running. I want to just run. And listen to music. And think. I solve a lot of world problems while running.

So, the MOTOACTV is a perfect option for me, because it both tracks mileage AND it plays music, which is awesome. It also doubles as a pedometer, which is kind of fun. I was able to learn that Erica (pictured above) ran a LOT fewer steps than me during the Half. This is proof that short people like myself have it WAY harder when it comes to racing. She and I were side by side the whole time, yet I ran more!

This is what I see when I log into my dashboard on the MOTOACTV site. It's so cool:



(Note: the 17:05 mile was a bathroom break - remember this is a mostly ladies race - there were long lines!)

What do you guys use to track your mileage while running?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

When your kids officially become more functional than you are

There's a funny little vending machine in the basement of my kids' school, just outside the lunch room. Max is absolutely OBSESSED with this machine. One would think it had chocolates, or soda or even crack based on his level of enthusiasm. But, alas, no crack. It's a vending machine of notepads, pencils and pens. It takes quarters and spits out crappy stationery goods for the kids. I'm assuming it's there for "I forgot my pencil!" emergencies, but for Max, it's a weekly habit.

(Side note: he even got a little bit Oprah/The Secret on me last week. I guess he was "thinking about sports really hard" last week as he pushed in his quarters, and the pencils that popped out had soccer balls and footballs printed on them. He is now maintaining that you just need to think really hard about what you want and, lo, it will appear.)

Anyway, this morning he walked up to the machine with some quarters he pawned off our babysitter, and the machine ate them! Now, if this happened to me, I would be irritated and decide to never use the machine again. Not Max. Max has inherited none of my shyness. He went, by himself, to the office and demanded a refund. And he got it. 

Is it weird that the entire exchange made me a bit teary?

Monday, February 06, 2012

Mainland Kalua Pork (Giant Pork Roast Baked with Bananas!)

I have made no effort to hide my love (and obsession) with all things Hawaii. We have been to O'ahu twice now, and I just can't get over what a magical place it is. I know I will be going back to Hawaii many times in my lifetime. That said, getting to Hawaii is no small feat. The flight is nine hours, and the cost is really, really high. So... I need to make do with the bits of Hawaii that I can recreate in Chicago.

Kalua Pork is a classic Hawaiian dish. Made on the islands, the pig is roasted outside, in a special oven with lots of banana leaves. I have no special oven, and I don't usually keep banana leaves around, so I was beyond thrilled to find a mainland adaptation in one of my cookbooks. One Big Table is written by Molly O'Neill. O'Neill was the food writer for the New York Times Magazine throughout most of my childhood, and I have many fond memories of sitting at our dining room table to read her articles. In my house, she was also known as the sister of a pretty awesome baseball player

Anyway, this recipe is super, super easy, and it comes from a man named Roy Balmilero. I love that he found clever ways to recreate the flavors of smoke and banana leaves. The whole family devoured this dish. It was amazing over sushi rice, and would be equally amazing the next day tossed in some barbecue sauce or salsa for leftovers. The pork shreds up just like pulled pork, so you can get pretty creative.

Kalua Pork

4-5 pounds boneless pork butt (we used a shoulder)
1-1/2 Tb. Hawaiian red salt (you can substitute kosher salt)
2 Tb. smoked paprika
4-5 unpeeled bananas (I'd use organic, as the pesticides in bananas are found in the peel)
large piece of aluminum foil

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Make some shallow cuts in the pork with a sharp knife and rub in the salt and paprika (it will seem like a lot, but you really want the flavor to soak into the meat). Place the bananas on top of the roast, and wrap the entire bundle in foil. Place it in a roasting pan. (Note: next time I'll add another layer or two of foil underneath the meat, as the juices created a bit of a mess in the pan.)

Roast the meat for 3-4 hours. Let it rest for about 20 minutes. Unwrap, shred, and serve with sushi rice and green veggies.

Enjoy this ono (delicious) dish! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

So... I Had a Bad Day

I went to the Alt Summit last week. (which was amazing - we sold the sponsorships, so they are a client, but while I admit to a bias, I can truly tell you that this is a GREAT, GREAT conference). But, the point of this post is not to tell you about the Alt Summit. The point is to set the stage for the story of my no good, horrible, bad day.

At the conference, I shared a room with Catherine, who is a very excellent roommate. We share rooms quite often at conferences, and I really treasure the time together (I sound like a sap, but I do!). We have great conversations. One of our conversations was about PMS. I explained to Catherine that while it might sound anti-feminist, I truly do think it is challenging to own/run/manage a business while in the throes of PMS.

Yesterday, I lived this.

The day started at 1:40 am. This might be TMI, but nearly every month, I get a nose bleed when I get my period. Yesterday's nose bleed occured at 1:40 am. I felt it coming, somehow and managed to grab a tissue and get into the bathroom. The nose bleed was epic. Like.... Do you watch House? It was like the nose bleeds that patients get on House, just after the doctors THINK they know what's wrong, but really they don't, and the patient's nose starts gushing massive amounts of blood everywhere just to underscore that fact.

So, it's 1:40 am, and I am leaning over the toilet with blood just pouring out of my nose. I finally managed to stem the flow and get back to bed.

I officially woke up for the day at 6am, but faced a malfunctioning house alarm and a flat tire before 8am. This is when I lost my shit. I was trying to get the kids to school, Michael was traveling, the alarm was beeping, my tire was flat, and the kids kept forgetting stuff in the house (a backpack! a trumpet!).

BUT. I am a mom in charge of two kids. I own a business that needs 150% of me. After a two minute crying jag (witnessed by Dylan - sigh), I pulled it together and carried on. 

These bad days can happen to anyone at anytime, right? Why oh why do they always coincide with PMS? And can we just acknowledged how frickin' hard it is to pull it all together to carry on? All I wanted to do yesterday was curl up in bed and feel sorry for myself. 

Thankfully, today is another day, and thankfully flat tires and malfunctioning alarms are easy fixes.

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