Baby, It's Cold Outside

Poor Nola. She's just beginning to perceive the world in new ways. She loves to look at the sunlight as it beams into our apartment, and to make shadows with her hands. She's recently learned to imitate mommy and daddy, and especially likes clapping. She should be going out into the world everyday, exploring and making new friends.

Instead, she and mommy are house-bound with an indifferent cat. When it's really cold like this, a thick sheet of ice forms on the back stairs, making them dangerous for a mom carrying a kid. And, even if we went down the front stairs and around the back to where our stroller is stored, the snow pack in the alley makes it impassable. So, if it's warm enough for mommy, we take a short walk carrying Nola. If it's below fifteen degrees or so, mommy throws in the towel. We stay inside all day.

For company, we watch the daytime version of "Deal or No Deal." Howie cheers the contestants on even as they make bad choices and open more cases than they should. Mommy lectures Nola on the importance of calculating risk and maximizing opportunity. Mommy is not much of a risk-taker, herself.

Nola claps. Luckily, just about everything makes Nola happy.


When the Levees Broke

This is a completely untimely post, since New Orleans flooded over three years ago, and the HBO series came out two years ago. But we highly recommend checking out When the Levees Broke, a four-part documentary by Spike Lee. We finally watched it this week, and it broke our hearts. But it made us fall in love with NOLA all over again (as many of you know, our daughter is named after New Orleans, LA).

We last visited New Orleans in 2007, and there was still so much to do. Since much of the population was bussed to far-flung places, "Help Wanted" signs hung everywhere. We didn't do "disaster tourism," so we didn't see the Lower 9th Ward, but even in the wealthy Garden District, where we stayed, people were rebuilding two years in. And the Mississippi coastline still looked like a disaster area.

President Obama vows to fulfill the broken promises of the Bush Administration and rebuild the coast. We'd love it if he created some sort of service component to help finally get gulf coast back where it used to be -- the Katrina victims back home, the neighborhoods rebuilt, and the levees actually strong and stable. After viewing this series, we'd be the first to sign up.

Oh, and if you ever stay in New Orleans, we highly recommend the Avenue Inn!


It's Been a Long Time Coming...

...but change has come to America!

Nola and momma watched the inauguration today (daddy watched at work). Nola has just recently learned to wave and clap, but it was Mom who jumped up and down like a little kid. Has there ever been more hope for the country in our lifetime, despite seemingly insurmountable problems? Obama makes us all believe that we *can* overcome whatever faces us, not someday, but now.

We are proud to be early followers, proud to be Chicagoans, and proud to be Americans.


Somewhere Over the Rainbow

My Grandma S died last night. She was 98 years old, and ornery all the way up til the end. At least, that's how I imagine it. Actually, she died quietly in her sleep after a short illness. I wasn't there (and don't know how I could have been) and I regret it a little.

We did get to see her on our East Coast Odyssey last August-September. She got to meet Nola, and afterward apparently talked her up to whomever would listen. She kept several pictures of Nola on her nightstand. When we were there, Oprah was blaring on the TV and Grandma was criticizing Tina Turner and Cher. We took a few pictures that Grandma was NOT happy with, then, having nothing left to say, we left.

It was a short visit, but it meant a lot to me, and I think to Grandma, for Nola to meet her. They both have a feisty spirit. They look the same; I look like my Grandma, and Nola looks like me. And there is something private and contrary in each of us. Nola is blessed with her father's love of laughter and silliness, which leavens our dour Scandinavian-ness a bit. So I hope her life will be a little more Harold Ramis and a little less Ingmar Bergman.

My Grandma isn't getting a funeral; she wanted to be cremated and that's it. So I decided to put on some Iz and say goodbye in my own way, just thinking of her. While I was thinking, Nola was squiggling on the floor, smiling and giggling, and I thought about how Grandma lives on in her, and how wonderful my baby girl is, and how wonderful life is, and this is what Grandma made. I picked Nola up and hugged her tight, and while I was feeling all warm and fuzzy, Nola knocked over the glass of milk sitting beside me.

Milk ran all over the couch, onto my fancy pillow, and spread across the seat of my pants and into my underwear. Everything had to be changed and washed, and I thought maybe Grandma was playing a joke on me, for being so foolish and sentimental.

Sorry, Grandma, but I'll never forget you, I will always love you, and you'll just have to deal with my warm, fuzzy vibes for a little while yet. XOXOXO Grandma S, 7/4/1910-1/15/2008.


Spring training is just one month away...

And Nola is ready! She'd like to congratulate Jim Rice, Red Sox great, for his election to the Hall of Fame.