AUTHOR: MM TITLE: My Baby is Growing Up! DATE: 10/02/2008 12:01:00 AM ----- BODY:
Bubs is now 19 months old--going on age 5! Sigh.
-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Little Boys Like Shoes Too! DATE: 9/19/2008 02:52:00 PM ----- BODY: I have added to my writing projects! Click on the title or the link below. Don't worry, I'll be back here on Monday! http://svmomblog.typepad.com/chicago_moms/2008/09/i-love-shoes-he.html

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Apologies DATE: 9/05/2008 08:11:00 AM ----- BODY:
I've been distracted over the last month with the chaos of summer and Bubs starting preschool (yikes!) so unfortunately, this blog fell off the "To Do List" for a bit. I'm trying to get into a bit of a more organized mode so hopefully, I'll be back to posting regularly on this site over the next week.
He made it through the first day without any problems and being in the carpool line to pick him up was completely surreal. My heart started racing when I saw the teacher with the walkie-talkie in her hand calling into the building for the little ones as their parents pulled up. Once upon a time, when I was a sub and pregnant with Bubs, I was on that side of the line, bringing the little ones out to the anxiously waiting cars. Despite the 20 deep car line and the fact that us preschool parents for the most part were newbies at this, it went smoothly and quickly.
My two little monsters as we're getting ready to go:
Funny, Mister didn't seem too lost without his big brother. It was nice to spend the day with him and we'll have more of that to come.

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: All things green DATE: 7/26/2008 03:01:00 PM ----- BODY: Thanks to another Chicago mom's blog A Hen and Two Chicks, I found out Alice Waters of Chez Paniesse was going to be shopping and book signing at the Green City Market this morning. Mister got up ridiculously early for a Saturday and Bubs soon followed so I packed them up and away we went. It was a good excuse to go: we were there almost every other weekend last summer and I'm still trying to figure out why it took me so long to get over there--10 minutes, no traffic, provided we leave by 9am. Metered parking right in front--yea! Fresh fruits and veggies abound, all trucked in from various farms in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. And Alice Waters was there which was our main reason for going. I immediately snapped up a copy of her latest book, "The Art of Simple Food" and got in line for an autograph--not usually my thing but considering that I had never stepped foot in Chez Paniesse in all my years of living in the Bay Area and at one point, 5 minutes away when I was at Cal Berkeley, it felt like a little bit of home. We were not disappointed. Looks like I know what I'm going to spend the rest of my summer reading, my autographed copy of "The Art of Simple Food."

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Community DATE: 7/20/2008 01:10:00 PM ----- BODY: Sunday afternoon--just a lazy sunny day. I'm excited about the comments I'm getting on my posts--please keep reading and please keep the comments coming. Parenting has its challenges and parenting in a multicultural household can be even more challenging. I suspect as families move further from each other and break away from some traditions, some things still hold the same--the need for support from others. That is probably my biggest challenge is finding the support I need so I don't consistently feel like I'm isolating myself or my children because of my "old school" ideas on parenting. It's much more complex that than but I think you know what I mean! Blogging seems to be a way to reach out and create community and I am grateful for those who have read (please keep reading!) and commented and for those who have read and maybe just haven't had anything to comment on yet (please comment--I'd love to hear from you!). On another on a fun note, more bento pictures coming soon. DH finally brought his camera home from work so I'll have those up soon!

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Friday Ponder DATE: 7/18/2008 04:36:00 PM ----- BODY: So, I realized in answering a comment that I do sometimes feel like I'm raising my kids similarly to how my parents raised me (eeek!--all you mamas hearing your mama's voice know what I mean) in a somewhat segregated area. We are diverse here in our Chicago neighborhood, yet at the same time, as most Chicagoans know, the lines are drawn in the sand and those of us in multi-race/cultural marriages find what is most comfortable for us and settle in those areas. I grew up in Irish-Catholic SF in what had been a predominately Jewish neighborhood when it was first established. But, my parents had the support of family, other "Hapa" or "Mestizo" friends who they'd known since they were kids in pre/post WWII Hong Kong. I find it ironic that I'm feeling the need to meet other parents of similar mixed marriage for that support because several people in my family gave me nothing but grief for being a "Banana"--yellow on the outside, white on the inside and marrying someone caucasian. (note CAUCASIAN) I'm sure there is some Latin history behind the word which I'm not looking up right now! Any thoughts? Happy weekend everyone!

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Todays Challenge... DATE: 7/15/2008 02:26:00 PM ----- BODY: I just read a post on CityMama that made me laugh and sigh at the same time. The mama behind the blog, Stefania Pomponi Butler, is on vacation in Hawaii and described an incident at the pool where a young guest splashed her mom. The scene unfolding was one I could envision in my head clearly, right down to the course of action by the mother of the child in question. It's not something you see very often any more and definitely a cultural nuance. I wonder if I would feel less conflicted at times if we were around Asian families. I know the Asian culture is where my gut sense of discipline comes from--not so much in the traditional sense which can be very condescending at times but just the basis of respect. Growing up, we never called adults by their first names--it just wasn't done. I hear my three year old asking for our next door neighbor by name and I cringe. My husband has done a good job of reinforcing the Mr. or Ms. in front of a first name even when he greets his friends and that helps but it's still not quite the same. I'd prefer my kids to call the adults they are around on a regular basis "Auntie" and "Uncle" but as much as I try to get that in, it hasn't stuck and raises some eyebrows. I'd rather be called "Auntie" but that raises eyebrows as well so I try to throw it in with the appropriate situation and try not to confuse my kids! I'm realizing I don't have any Asian friends out here in Chicago. Do I seek them out? And if so, how do I do that? Or, do I just get my "fix" by taking the field trips out to the burbs to go food shopping? That seems to be working--sort of. At least it gives my kids a sense of differentiation and a little variety in the people they interact with. There needs to be an alterative way though and I'm open to the challenge of discovering what that is.

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Asian Persuasion DATE: 7/14/2008 12:35:00 PM ----- BODY: I love Asian food stores, but I hate traffic so my shopping trips which seem to have become more frequent are weekend morning field trips as I attempt to foil the reprucussions of what is known as "Construction Season" here in Chicago. My kids and I pulled up to Mitsuwa yesterday morning right after it opened, the smells of fresh rice and soy immediately greeting us. Mitsuwa is a 17 mile drive which can take anywhere from 15 minutes up to an hour travel time, depending on the time of day. My boys have now been there several times and know the definitive difference between Mitsuwa and Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Mitsuwa has bento boxes, Choco Boy and Thomas the Train snacks. They also get a lot of attention at Mitsuwa from other customers and the cashiers who coo at Mister and smile and wave to Bubs. It's far different from anything they are used to and despite the adventure bringing them ensues (hubby has yet to venture on this field trip with us), it makes the trip much more pleasant, even if we're sitting in traffic.

Look mom! Choco Boy!

Mitsuwa, like H-Mart, gives me a different perspective on things, the perspective I miss living in a very diverse but segregated city. Ask anyone in Chicago, I have yet to hear anyone deny it yet. And so, it both irks and amuses me that I drive to the suburbs to get Asian groceries. Ok, I don't necessarily HAVE to as we do have a Chinatown, but it's past downtown and takes just as long to get there if not longer. Same goes for the Little Saigon neighborhood. So the perspective I speak of? Different languages being spoken, different faces and races in the same place looking for the same thing: food. I see mixed couples and their children, neighborhood folks picking up staples for the week. It's an exposure we don't have in the city, a void I need to fill now that I have kids. A void I need to fill for myself as an adult. My kids love the snacks I pick up on those trips. My older son asks specifically for Choco Boy for his camp bento box and my little guy loves the crispy onion snacks. I'm discovering the joys of fresh, thinly sliced beef that is inexpensive, REAL ramen noodles, Abura-age for making Inarizushi at home, large bottles of saki and bento supplies, some of the latter I've put up on my ecrater store. I love seeing new babies on these trips, babies that remind me of what my two toddlers looked like as babies because they have similar skintone, hair color and almond shaped eyes. It reminds me of how amazing genetics are and how beautiful children of mixed race always seem to be. I feel like our family has gotten the best of many worlds. And so I suppose that is my void--a lack of clear instructions on how to keep culture alive in our household on a day to day basis. I suppose the easiest way it seems is through food and that is what sends me 17 miles out of the way every couple of weeks in order to make that happen.

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: 4th of July Bento Weekend DATE: 7/07/2008 07:15:00 AM ----- BODY: The weather in Chicago couldn't have been better for the 4th of July weekend. We took advantage of it and headed around town with the kids. Wanting to make sure we ate well and didn't spend a fortune on food downtown, I packed lunches for all 4 us the three days (Fri, Sat and Sun). (the majority of the pictures I took of said lunches are on hubby's camera so I'll have to add them later) Day 1: the 4th of July My older son's favorite playground is the "green playground" down at Millenium Park and we wanted to get out of the neighborhood and explore a bit so we headed downtown. Traffic was easy, my husband being the urban landscape creature that he is knew exactly where to park without fighting parking garage madness and off we went on our first adventure. From the "green park," we headed over to Chicago's wonder, Millenium Park. Crossing the bridge over Columbus Drive, we caught a glimpse of the annual Taste of Chicago--and the millions of people streaming through the tent lined streets. Without the kids we may have ventured over but honestly, it looked too uncomfortable to get our stroller through so we passed and found a spot on the grass under the bandshell. Great weather, great lunches, good people watching. Couldn't have asked for a better Fourth. Day 2: Off to the lakefront we went. I have to admit, it's one of Chicago's prettiest features. During the summer, miles of beaches and parks come alive with people playing soccer, golf, beach volleyball (yes, in Chicago!) and kids running about into Lake Michigan. This year, we really lucked out with an actual spring that lasted more than a week and my kids are old enough to be interested in watching boats and staring at the water.

My boys
Again, another day of packed lunches eaten on the grass. After lunch, we headed over to a local street fair. There are at least one every weekend and they are usually pretty inexpensive and kid-friendly if you go early. A lot of local bands play at these affairs and it's a great way to catch up with friends who live in other parts of the City since the fairs are very neighborhood-centric.
Another day out in the sun with the family--can't believe the weekend's almost over! Day 3: Off to the Zoo we go! The Lincoln Park Zoo here in Chicago is one of the few FREE zoos left in the country. It's at the Lakefront, there's usually parking somewhere in the neighborhood and our kids can't get enough of it. The polar bears were actually out this time around doing their synchronized swimming. Mister couldn't get enough--he was entralled. I think he's found his favorite exhibit which suits me just fine--I could spend all day watching them too. Our lunches:
Mister's lunch Bub's lunch Parental lunch part 1
Parental lunch part 2
Contents of the kids' lunches: sliced hotdog, carrot sticks, mango chunks, jelly treat, ginger biscuits, ketchup.
Contents of the shared parental lunch: hotdogs, carrot sticks, the last of the mango salsa, hard boiled eggs, dill dip, stir fried veggies (from Whole Foods) with a dash of soy sauce.
After the zoo, we headed home for quick naps and then off to a birthday party where we got to catch up with a lot of our old neighbors. I don't think we've been so busy on a three-day weekend in such a long time and we all ate well, played well and slept well so in the end, it was well worth the timing and effort to make sure we got out of the house each day.

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Sur Le Weekend DATE: 6/30/2008 08:52:00 PM ----- BODY: So the family was here this weekend and I think we all had a good time! My dinner on Friday went over pretty well and now my fridge is a mishmash of foods. My in-laws from PA brought the coveted Yuenling beer and the ring baloney which I don't think we even have any of left! At least there are two cases of the Yuenling left in the garage--which still fits a Yugo in it.

My kids were run ragged by their cousins. We had in total, six kids (3 boys, 3 girls) ranging from age 16 months to 12 years old. Chaos was probably the best word for it and at times, I eyed the new construction house behind us wistfully wishing our house was 500 square feet larger. We had enough sleeping room, enough hot water, enough bathrooms and all was good. But having a full basement where the kids could just hang out and leave the living room to the adults would have been nice. Oh well! Nothing like a little house envy to keep you motivated at times.
On a fun note, I pulled together some photos I'd pulled from Flickr and some Bento gear and gave it to my SIL whose two girls are just a bit older than my boys. Her oldest, "Rosie" is as particular is Bubs is about her food and we agreed that 1/2 the battle was probably presentation. Rosie eyed me suspiciously as I was putting everything together for her mom and showed quite a bit of interest in the mayo/condiment cases. Meanwhile, their older cousin "D" was eyeing the photos I'd printed out (and laminated) with great interest. Like his youngest cousins, D likes food and has a very healthy relationship with it. Something tells me if I gave him a bento and some pictures he'd probably come up with some interesting lunches of his own. So, all and all, it was a good visit and a good first time hosting. Rosie told me that I was welcome to come to her house to visit any time I wanted and she "wanted to stay forever" at my house. Couldn't hope for a better compliment than that from one of my houseguests!

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Getting Ready for Company--Part 2 DATE: 6/26/2008 03:30:00 PM ----- BODY: Well, we can at least fit a Yugo in the garage now which doesn't say much considering we have two large cars! The stuff in the front room and the 3rd bedroom can now go into the garage on top of my ginormous Ikea Drafting table so I can finish the project over the next few weeks. After finishing that project for the evening, I did manage to make dinner and pack the leftovers for hubby's lunch.

Spanish rice (from a box), Mojito Pork, some maple crackers and (2) Babybel mini rounds of cheese. The pork was good at dinner but probably tasted even better today after being marinated overnight in the sauce. Packed in an 800ML Lock & Lock box and everything went into the fridge last night so he could just grab it at 5:30AM on his way out the door.

Tonight's dinner...we'll have to see. Tomorrow nights dinner should be a feast though:

Menu

Hopefully there is enough variety to keep everyone happy. We shall see...

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-------- AUTHOR: multiculturalmama TITLE: A Break from the Garage--Bento Boxes DATE: 6/25/2008 10:51:00 PM ----- BODY: I spent hours in the garage and made some headway so it's time to take a break and indulge in my new favorite pastime: Bentos. Thanks to the influences of bloggers extrodinaire, CityMama and Biggie, I've become obsessed with Bentos. Living in Chicago, a major metropolitan city, one would think that bento supplies such those posted on Biggie's Site and Flickr would come easy. On the contrary, it's been a treasure hunt and I haven't found the likes of the Stitch Bento Box just yet! Honestly, I don't think I'll find it out here in the Midwest.
What I have found is that some of the best kept secrets are just outside my backyard. Mitsuwa in Arlington Heights, about 15 miles Northwest of the city has the basic Asvel boxes which I really like. I've picked up a few extra and and have them on Petit-Tableau, my ecrater site. I have seen a variety of price ranges and paid much more than I would have expected for a simple box, but the Asvil has a nice seal, is microwave and dishwasher safe and they'll probably last longer than the more inexpensive ones.

Down the street from Mitsuwa in Niles (see last post) is H Mart. I found the cutest bento set for Mister and we've been using it for trips out and about. With his peanut allergy, I tend to be cautious about eating food at street fairs and even at other people's houses. The risk of cross contamination at his age (16 months) is too high so we just pack our diaper bag with a little extra something so he can join in the fun.

At Chicago Food Company's store just up the road from us, I found some great Lock & Lock containers for my husband. At 800 ML with dividers, they are the perfect size for his lunches.
Bubs favorite is his Clickety Click Mink Monkey box which is really adorable.

And of course the accessories; sauce containers, mayo/condiment cups, picks. They all now have a place in my kitchen cabinet. Note the Avsel bento box on top.

I will start adding photos of actual lunches made in these boxes, after all, isn't that what they are for?

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Getting Ready for Company-Pt 1 DATE: 6/25/2008 07:58:00 AM ----- BODY: My inlaws are coming into town this weekend and I'm in a bit of a tizzy. On top of that, Bubs has been under the weather for the last few days. We're not sure what's wrong but my usually bouncy three year old has turned into sad little specimen of his usual self. But sick toddler or not, family is still coming and we're all excited but overwhelmed. Thankfully, I have a sitter these next 2 days and our cleaning lady will be coming by this afternoon to touch things up, but the road to getting the house ready is a long one.
  1. Biggest project: THE GARAGE. After 9 months in our "new" house, it still looks like a storage space and hubby won't get anywhere near it (it's an attached garage so it's not like we can ignore it forever!). Why tackle this now? I need to get sleeping areas ready so stuff from:
  2. The 3rd bedroom and
  3. The playroom can make their way into the garage without fear of never being seen again!

There is also an incentive to getting this project done: a 2nd fridge. In general, we love to entertain and I'm all about quick meals and making things in advance so it makes sense. This weekend, we will have 12 people under our roof: (4) adults and (4) cousins in addition to our family of (4)! That's a lot to feed for the weekend and I certainly don't forsee it being easy to whip up pancakes for a dozen hungry people Saturday AM without some prepwork.

I also want to whip up some Korean Barbecue and freeze a large amount of rice so again, meals go quickly, easily without too much clean up.

Project garage starts in a 1/2 hour. Wish me luck--I'm going to need it!

-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: New Mommy Blog DATE: 6/24/2008 09:20:00 PM ----- BODY: City Mama has a great new venture that should be of interest to all mamas: The Savvy Source/Being Savvy. Check it out!

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Catching Up DATE: 6/23/2008 04:20:00 PM ----- BODY:

I've been amiss about not keeping up so it's time to get back on track! The back is doing better thankfully but taking the painkillers lasted all about 24 hrs. I had EVERY side effect possible which was all very strange since I had taken it after both c-sections. I guess that tells you about the power of pregnancy and how much your body changes post-partum. It was quickly back to Advil, hot showers and limping about the house for the rest of week (note again, without any outside help!). Thankfully, hubby didn't have to work too much that weekend and I'm now working with a physical therapist. Still having back spasms a lot so I'm definitely down to about 2/3rd my normal speed. On a great note though, Bubs is now potty trained so that has helped a lot! He still wears a pull-up at night but it's not longer a source of stress! Speaking of normal. Summer has finally arrived in Chicago and the weather has been anything but normal. Usually, hubby and I try to get to as many street fairs as possible. This year, it's been a challenge with thunderstorms and rain every weekend! Our landscaping looks great and it's keeping the water bill down but it's a bummer when we want to escape from the house and spend time outdoors as a family. On the other hand, rain or shine, I've found myself making what are usually dreaded trips to the suburbs for Asian food supplies. I was so spoiled growing up in SF without even realizing it. Here, I plan my trip around traffic.com and Cubs traffic. There, I could just walk blocks and everything I could have ever wanted was right there. Now, it's a little more complicated. However, I have discovered some good places to shop.

Some of my purchases:

Mister influenced my 1st purchase. He tasted it, liked it and well, I figured if a 16 month old will eat squid, why not! The pork buns are perfect for Bubs lunches--perfect bento box sized and the last photo is the drawer in my fridge that now houses Asian goodies. Just because of the tendency of strong flavors, it made sense to give them their own space. In the bag, Kimchee for my neighbor. I'm not a fan personally but she is so there you have it (and no, she is not Asian for that matter). {06/24 Update: She loved it! Her husband and mine, not so thrilled by the smell!} Now, after all this shopping done, what to make for dinner tonight...

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-------- AUTHOR: multiculturalmama TITLE: Random Thoughts DATE: 5/22/2008 09:21:00 AM ----- BODY:
I'm in pain, not just any kind of pain, but excruciating, yes I will be taking the vicodin every 4 hours if you please pain. I managed to wrench my back and it's something that will heal over time but I will be starting physical therapy next week to avoid any future mishaps. I had two emergency c-sections with my kids and post-op/epidural wearing off was 100 times better than what I'm feeling now. What makes it even worse is our sitter's last day was yesterday and this is hubby's busiest time of the year so the kids are stuck with a very crabby, slightly giddy, fairly incapacitated mom for the rest of the week. Mister is too young to understand why mommy can't pick him up as usual. I managed to get him out of his crib and he threw a fit when I didn't pick him up. I can't say I feel guilty because it's not anyone's fault but the poor kid seems to think mommy is abandoning him. Bubs has the where with all of a 3 year old. He's supervising breakfast as we speak so their tummys will be full for at least a few hours. Granted, veggie booty is not the best thing for breakfast but if it's what they'll eat, I'm fine with it. I will be missing work the rest of the week--no way I could stand for 4-6 hours--I can't even sit for very long let alone drive to work. Thankfully, there is the flexibilty of working in retail and I think they know I didn't do this on purpose. On an upside, I've gotten a few of the bento box items I've ordered and could kick myself for not making this discovery 8 months ago when we were in SF for a visit. Would have saved me shipping costs, that's for sure. I'll take pictures and post them when things are a little more sane. Bubs was peering over my shoulder when I was scrolling one of my newfound favorite sites and he was very interested and excited about what he saw. Eggs shaped like a car? What 3 year old wouldn't like that?
Now, it needs to be said that Bubs is my now picky eater which has only been a phenomenon for about 1/3 of his life. I made 99% of his baby food so this was the 14 month old that would eat artichoke risotto, chicken, mango and a full bottle much to the amazement of my in-laws. He'd also finish a full breakfast and then pester my niece for some of her waffle. Not the case anymore. He takes a cooking class once a week but we are convinced that his brother will be the chef in the family. Mister has a very happy relationship with food. He's a bigger kid than his brother, but shockingly, only in the 45th percentile for weight for his age. He will eat pretty much anything you put in front of him which is nice. He also has a peanut allergy which forces us to read labels and scrutinize restaurant menus heavily. I think this new bento adventure that I'm embarking on will even things out a little. And, at the very least, keep lunches interesting. We have a gathering to go to across the street Sunday--I'll be limping over just to get out of the house--so I'm going to try making the shaped hardboiled eggs and seeing what the reaction is. Who knows, I may start a new trend of preschoolers bento boxing it to school. Stay tuned for neighborhood reaction.
-------- AUTHOR: multiculturalmama TITLE: The Mommy Hood DATE: 5/15/2008 12:53:00 PM ----- BODY: I've been feeling a little disconnected these days. It probably doesn't help that my little guy, "Mister," has been teething so it's like having a newborn, except you don't want to be feeding a 14 month old in the middle of the night to get him to sleep. I'm also feeling a little self-conscious these days, maybe because I have two gorgeous children who are a cultural mix and I feel like I haven't been providing them with any cultural education. This resonates even louder these days with my older son "Bubs" starting preschool this fall and my 20th high school reunion in SF which I'm chairing. Too much in my head I guess. It's ironic actually, the more I think about it. I grew up in a very Irish Catholic Sunset District in San Francisco so I suppose I should be used to not looking like the other kids on the block. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, it really wasn't until the late 70's, early 80's that a large wave of immigration turned San Francisco into the cultural melting pot it is today. By the time I was in Jr. High, the demographics had quickly begun to change and looking back at my high school yearbook, the diversity is really evident. I'm sure the Class of 2008's photos are just varied--sans the permed and feathered hair of course! Recently, I found a number of blogs that chronicle the lives of moms living in the Bay Area that are of Asian heritage. I haven't lived in SF in 12 years but realize there are certain nuances that I miss terribly as a mom and now am starting to seek out here in the Windy City. I was inspired by those blogs, CityMama and Lunchinabox so I made a trip to the large Korean supermarket down the street and was both amused and tickled that the first language I heard when I walked in the store was Spanish being spoken by the warehouse men, unloaded crates of produce. Definitely not what I expected, but comforting because that would have been very common to hear in California. I walked out $50 lighter in the wallet after having purchased some food items and a couple of Bento Boxes for Bubs. Sticker shock on those as I understand you can get them in the Bay Area for about $2.00. Oh well! I will definitely have to scout them out when I am in SF in the fall. We do have a large Japanese grocery store out in the suburbs but with the construction on the highway (traffic is backed up from 6AM to 8PM EVERYDAY!!!) and gas prices, it might as well be in Iowa.

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-------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: My Baby is Growing Up! DATE: 10/02/2008 12:01:00 AM ----- BODY:
Bubs is now 19 months old--going on age 5! Sigh.
----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Little Boys Like Shoes Too! DATE: 9/19/2008 02:52:00 PM ----- BODY: I have added to my writing projects! Click on the title or the link below. Don't worry, I'll be back here on Monday! http://svmomblog.typepad.com/chicago_moms/2008/09/i-love-shoes-he.html

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----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Apologies DATE: 9/05/2008 08:11:00 AM ----- BODY:
I've been distracted over the last month with the chaos of summer and Bubs starting preschool (yikes!) so unfortunately, this blog fell off the "To Do List" for a bit. I'm trying to get into a bit of a more organized mode so hopefully, I'll be back to posting regularly on this site over the next week.
He made it through the first day without any problems and being in the carpool line to pick him up was completely surreal. My heart started racing when I saw the teacher with the walkie-talkie in her hand calling into the building for the little ones as their parents pulled up. Once upon a time, when I was a sub and pregnant with Bubs, I was on that side of the line, bringing the little ones out to the anxiously waiting cars. Despite the 20 deep car line and the fact that us preschool parents for the most part were newbies at this, it went smoothly and quickly.
My two little monsters as we're getting ready to go:
Funny, Mister didn't seem too lost without his big brother. It was nice to spend the day with him and we'll have more of that to come.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger PMG Smith Family DATE:9/05/2008 11:59:00 AM Hooray! I've been waiting for a new post from you. :o) Glad things went well on the first day of pre-school, too. ----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: All things green DATE: 7/26/2008 03:01:00 PM ----- BODY: Thanks to another Chicago mom's blog A Hen and Two Chicks, I found out Alice Waters of Chez Paniesse was going to be shopping and book signing at the Green City Market this morning. Mister got up ridiculously early for a Saturday and Bubs soon followed so I packed them up and away we went. It was a good excuse to go: we were there almost every other weekend last summer and I'm still trying to figure out why it took me so long to get over there--10 minutes, no traffic, provided we leave by 9am. Metered parking right in front--yea! Fresh fruits and veggies abound, all trucked in from various farms in Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. And Alice Waters was there which was our main reason for going. I immediately snapped up a copy of her latest book, "The Art of Simple Food" and got in line for an autograph--not usually my thing but considering that I had never stepped foot in Chez Paniesse in all my years of living in the Bay Area and at one point, 5 minutes away when I was at Cal Berkeley, it felt like a little bit of home. We were not disappointed. Looks like I know what I'm going to spend the rest of my summer reading, my autographed copy of "The Art of Simple Food."

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger The Hen DATE:8/08/2008 09:24:00 PM You have to tell me what you think about her book. We are addicted to the Slow Roasted Pork Shoulder with dried chilies. Yum.

I really like that she focuses more on general technique and approach, rather than specific ingredients and quantities. ----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Community DATE: 7/20/2008 01:10:00 PM ----- BODY: Sunday afternoon--just a lazy sunny day. I'm excited about the comments I'm getting on my posts--please keep reading and please keep the comments coming. Parenting has its challenges and parenting in a multicultural household can be even more challenging. I suspect as families move further from each other and break away from some traditions, some things still hold the same--the need for support from others. That is probably my biggest challenge is finding the support I need so I don't consistently feel like I'm isolating myself or my children because of my "old school" ideas on parenting. It's much more complex that than but I think you know what I mean! Blogging seems to be a way to reach out and create community and I am grateful for those who have read (please keep reading!) and commented and for those who have read and maybe just haven't had anything to comment on yet (please comment--I'd love to hear from you!). On another on a fun note, more bento pictures coming soon. DH finally brought his camera home from work so I'll have those up soon!

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger gooksu DATE:7/25/2008 02:07:00 PM I just found you through Kimchi mamas and was excited to see another fellow Chicagoan mom raising children of multi-race and struggling with our parenting styles. Nice to "meet" you and just wanted to say Hi. I like it when new people post comments on my blog so I try to do it when I read other new blogs. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger MM DATE:7/25/2008 03:54:00 PM Good to "meet" you as well! I just stopped by your blog and left a note. It is a challenge raising kids here--big city but small minded at times! Good to know there are other Chicagoans going thru the same thing--reaching out has to have a positive effect in the long run! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Cindy Fey DATE:9/10/2008 10:52:00 PM Welcome to Chicago Moms Blog! Great to have you and I look forward to reading your posts here and there! ----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Friday Ponder DATE: 7/18/2008 04:36:00 PM ----- BODY: So, I realized in answering a comment that I do sometimes feel like I'm raising my kids similarly to how my parents raised me (eeek!--all you mamas hearing your mama's voice know what I mean) in a somewhat segregated area. We are diverse here in our Chicago neighborhood, yet at the same time, as most Chicagoans know, the lines are drawn in the sand and those of us in multi-race/cultural marriages find what is most comfortable for us and settle in those areas. I grew up in Irish-Catholic SF in what had been a predominately Jewish neighborhood when it was first established. But, my parents had the support of family, other "Hapa" or "Mestizo" friends who they'd known since they were kids in pre/post WWII Hong Kong. I find it ironic that I'm feeling the need to meet other parents of similar mixed marriage for that support because several people in my family gave me nothing but grief for being a "Banana"--yellow on the outside, white on the inside and marrying someone caucasian. (note CAUCASIAN) I'm sure there is some Latin history behind the word which I'm not looking up right now! Any thoughts? Happy weekend everyone!

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger blackbelt_oma DATE:7/19/2008 12:52:00 PM I'm a Korean immigrant - came at 6 yo. DH is PA Dutch heritage too. I like being around others of different ethnicities and marriages because I feel I have an immediate affinity with them. Now, they don't always pan out to be our best friends, but it's a good starting point. My world doesn't ASSUME a white bread culture, as if being middle American is the norm, or normal. MY normal is something else, and I like meeting people whose normal is something else, too. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger MM DATE:7/20/2008 01:08:00 PM Another PA Dutch/Asian couple--nice to hear from you! I as well like a mix of people, probably because all my parents friends were products of mixed marriages.
My challenge is finding those whose normal is something else. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Marz DATE:7/27/2008 12:16:00 AM I totally know that feeling of white on the inside- altho my family is/has always been very accepting and non-labeling, but both my hubby & I relate on not being exactly Mexican or Korean (me being one, he the other) and how we don't speak the languages, etc etc. It's like he and I found common ground in being the different ones in our families. :)
Nice blog, btw! ----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Todays Challenge... DATE: 7/15/2008 02:26:00 PM ----- BODY: I just read a post on CityMama that made me laugh and sigh at the same time. The mama behind the blog, Stefania Pomponi Butler, is on vacation in Hawaii and described an incident at the pool where a young guest splashed her mom. The scene unfolding was one I could envision in my head clearly, right down to the course of action by the mother of the child in question. It's not something you see very often any more and definitely a cultural nuance. I wonder if I would feel less conflicted at times if we were around Asian families. I know the Asian culture is where my gut sense of discipline comes from--not so much in the traditional sense which can be very condescending at times but just the basis of respect. Growing up, we never called adults by their first names--it just wasn't done. I hear my three year old asking for our next door neighbor by name and I cringe. My husband has done a good job of reinforcing the Mr. or Ms. in front of a first name even when he greets his friends and that helps but it's still not quite the same. I'd prefer my kids to call the adults they are around on a regular basis "Auntie" and "Uncle" but as much as I try to get that in, it hasn't stuck and raises some eyebrows. I'd rather be called "Auntie" but that raises eyebrows as well so I try to throw it in with the appropriate situation and try not to confuse my kids! I'm realizing I don't have any Asian friends out here in Chicago. Do I seek them out? And if so, how do I do that? Or, do I just get my "fix" by taking the field trips out to the burbs to go food shopping? That seems to be working--sort of. At least it gives my kids a sense of differentiation and a little variety in the people they interact with. There needs to be an alterative way though and I'm open to the challenge of discovering what that is.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Zip n Tizzy DATE:7/16/2008 07:13:00 PM I have my son signed up for Tae Kwon Do and I love that Sir and Ma'am are enforced. My son brings it out of class with him, and because it's so rarely used anymore I find it very refreshing. I also find that they get a lot of smiles when they use it and people tend to like them better. Manners do count. Nice post. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger bokumbop DATE:7/18/2008 08:47:00 AM Just to help you out, being new to the area - if you're seeking more real-life Asian community (hope Korean is okay!), some of the KM community have started to meet up.

http://kimchimamas.typepad.com/kimchi_mamas/2008/06/open-thread-t-1.html#comments

Meetup.com may have other groups for Chinese moms. Other than that, if you'd like to seek out more Chinese-American families, consider a Chinese church (if you're comfortable with that - I never feel right about going to a Korean church). Me, I feel so awkward in these "forced" meetings, I tend to shy away - I remember one commenter saying, just because you're all Asian, you can't put all these people in a room together and just expect the "magic" to happen. Hope you find the support you need. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger PMG Smith Family DATE:7/18/2008 12:49:00 PM I know exactly what you mean about the asian hierarchy of respect for elders. My husband is caucasian and it drives me craxy that all of his nephews/nieces call any of their aunts or uncles directly by our names, not even "Aunt --" and I have no idea how to correct it or how to explain to my husband that it bothers me and I don't want our son speaking like that to the adults in his life. I'm afraid to come off as eccentric or nit picking [momnesia prevents me from thinking of the actual word I'm looking for here, but I'm sure you know what I mean]. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger MM DATE:7/18/2008 03:15:00 PM It's good to know I'm not alone. What strikes me as odd is that most of the kids I grew up with, regardless of race/culture respected their elders. "Auntie" was also common in the Hispanic cultures as well but I don't think as popular anymore. We were expected to behave and knew how to or face whatever consequences...

I know no one wants to to be neurotic (or eccentric :)) and constantly remind our kids about their manners but I think in good conscious, we have to.

Feel free to sound out on my blog--it really is good to know that there are other mixed families/parents that are still "old school!" ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger blackbelt_oma DATE:7/19/2008 12:58:00 PM I totally agree with the respect thing. I explain to adults who want my son to call them by their first name that he is not allowed, and they all seem to respect that.

You know, words have meaning. Words have power. (If you are a Christian, I like to relate it to Christ being The Word.) It's not "just" manners. How we speak should reflect how we feel. What is it they say? the first step to recovery is admitting. That tells you that saying words that are true DO something. They heal.

And if we don't always feel it, speaking a certain way helps us to see things differently. If you feel ungrateful, try listing the good things in your life and see if you attitude doesn't change! :-) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger PMG Smith Family DATE:7/28/2008 12:40:00 PM After reading this post, I finally brought up the idea to my husband that I don't think it's appropriate for kids to call adults by their first names. I said it's a matter of respect and said specifically that I want our son to call his aunts and uncles "Aunt so-and-so" or whatever. He said we can do that but he won't correct our son if he doesn't and he doesn't think it's a matter of respect to tag "Aunt" or "Uncle" on -- that it's the same as calling your cousin Joe "Cousin Joe" when speaking to him, which is awkward. And then he tried saying he didn't have an opinion on it BUT he didn't think it was a big deal. He even seemed to think I was being eccentric in noticing and feeling uncomfortable that none of his nephews/nieces call me "Aunt." *sigh* At least I'm not alone? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger MM DATE:7/30/2008 09:31:00 AM You are not alone! Keep us posted of how things go! Crossing those cultural barriers/nuances can be hard. Good for you for doing that with hubby! ----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Asian Persuasion DATE: 7/14/2008 12:35:00 PM ----- BODY: I love Asian food stores, but I hate traffic so my shopping trips which seem to have become more frequent are weekend morning field trips as I attempt to foil the reprucussions of what is known as "Construction Season" here in Chicago. My kids and I pulled up to Mitsuwa yesterday morning right after it opened, the smells of fresh rice and soy immediately greeting us. Mitsuwa is a 17 mile drive which can take anywhere from 15 minutes up to an hour travel time, depending on the time of day. My boys have now been there several times and know the definitive difference between Mitsuwa and Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Mitsuwa has bento boxes, Choco Boy and Thomas the Train snacks. They also get a lot of attention at Mitsuwa from other customers and the cashiers who coo at Mister and smile and wave to Bubs. It's far different from anything they are used to and despite the adventure bringing them ensues (hubby has yet to venture on this field trip with us), it makes the trip much more pleasant, even if we're sitting in traffic.

Look mom! Choco Boy!

Mitsuwa, like H-Mart, gives me a different perspective on things, the perspective I miss living in a very diverse but segregated city. Ask anyone in Chicago, I have yet to hear anyone deny it yet. And so, it both irks and amuses me that I drive to the suburbs to get Asian groceries. Ok, I don't necessarily HAVE to as we do have a Chinatown, but it's past downtown and takes just as long to get there if not longer. Same goes for the Little Saigon neighborhood. So the perspective I speak of? Different languages being spoken, different faces and races in the same place looking for the same thing: food. I see mixed couples and their children, neighborhood folks picking up staples for the week. It's an exposure we don't have in the city, a void I need to fill now that I have kids. A void I need to fill for myself as an adult. My kids love the snacks I pick up on those trips. My older son asks specifically for Choco Boy for his camp bento box and my little guy loves the crispy onion snacks. I'm discovering the joys of fresh, thinly sliced beef that is inexpensive, REAL ramen noodles, Abura-age for making Inarizushi at home, large bottles of saki and bento supplies, some of the latter I've put up on my ecrater store. I love seeing new babies on these trips, babies that remind me of what my two toddlers looked like as babies because they have similar skintone, hair color and almond shaped eyes. It reminds me of how amazing genetics are and how beautiful children of mixed race always seem to be. I feel like our family has gotten the best of many worlds. And so I suppose that is my void--a lack of clear instructions on how to keep culture alive in our household on a day to day basis. I suppose the easiest way it seems is through food and that is what sends me 17 miles out of the way every couple of weeks in order to make that happen.

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger bokumbop DATE:7/18/2008 08:12:00 AM Very cute kids ... thanks for commenting on Kimchi Mamas. It does seem very counter-intuitive that you'd find more "mixed" families out in the suburbs, doesn't it? (I'm also in Chicago, well, west suburbs now, but spent a lot of time in Albany Park where my dad had a medical practice for many years, and after college I lived in an apt in North Park for five yrs) I find that the city, although statistically diverse, can be quite segregated. I was at a playground recently with friends on the NW side and did notice that families were diverse as far as there being arab kids, a black kids, white kids, etc., but none of mixed race (except for mine and said friends). And everyone kind of kept to themselves, playing well alongside each other, but not together, really. Not to say that the 'burbs are any closer to being ideal - you must assimilate completely (at least on the outside, not bring up any 'racialized' topics, bite tongue when one of the white moms or dads says something completely ignorant - have to pick your battles), and even then I have a hard time fitting in and making friends (but that's a whole 'nother topic!). I have to restrain myself when seeing other families like us at the Costco, etc., running up to them and asking, where do you live? Are there more like us there? :-)

I started bento-ing our lunches recently. Sooooooo fun. I see accessories in my future ...

- Carol from KM ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger MM DATE:7/18/2008 03:48:00 PM Kimchi Mamas is awesome! What a great forum-you will definitely be hearing from me again soon!

Nice to "meet" someone else who is in Chicago-land and understands. We're in Old Irving Park. Awesome neighbors, great place to live but we definitely stand out. I understand what you mean about Costo esp. I see a mixed Asian couple or a couple with an adopted Asian baby and want to run up to them and give them one of the playdate cards I made for my kids and say "PLEASE CALL ME!" but there is no way I could do it without looking pathetic!

Ironically, my kids are growing up in the same diverse yet segregated environment I did 30+ years ago in SF and maybe I'm secretly just trying to spare them some of the discrimination I felt as a child--right there, a topic for another blog post!

On another note, I am turning into a bento fiend--my kids love it. Accessories are WAY too much fun... ----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: 4th of July Bento Weekend DATE: 7/07/2008 07:15:00 AM ----- BODY: The weather in Chicago couldn't have been better for the 4th of July weekend. We took advantage of it and headed around town with the kids. Wanting to make sure we ate well and didn't spend a fortune on food downtown, I packed lunches for all 4 us the three days (Fri, Sat and Sun). (the majority of the pictures I took of said lunches are on hubby's camera so I'll have to add them later) Day 1: the 4th of July My older son's favorite playground is the "green playground" down at Millenium Park and we wanted to get out of the neighborhood and explore a bit so we headed downtown. Traffic was easy, my husband being the urban landscape creature that he is knew exactly where to park without fighting parking garage madness and off we went on our first adventure. From the "green park," we headed over to Chicago's wonder, Millenium Park. Crossing the bridge over Columbus Drive, we caught a glimpse of the annual Taste of Chicago--and the millions of people streaming through the tent lined streets. Without the kids we may have ventured over but honestly, it looked too uncomfortable to get our stroller through so we passed and found a spot on the grass under the bandshell. Great weather, great lunches, good people watching. Couldn't have asked for a better Fourth. Day 2: Off to the lakefront we went. I have to admit, it's one of Chicago's prettiest features. During the summer, miles of beaches and parks come alive with people playing soccer, golf, beach volleyball (yes, in Chicago!) and kids running about into Lake Michigan. This year, we really lucked out with an actual spring that lasted more than a week and my kids are old enough to be interested in watching boats and staring at the water.

My boys
Again, another day of packed lunches eaten on the grass. After lunch, we headed over to a local street fair. There are at least one every weekend and they are usually pretty inexpensive and kid-friendly if you go early. A lot of local bands play at these affairs and it's a great way to catch up with friends who live in other parts of the City since the fairs are very neighborhood-centric.
Another day out in the sun with the family--can't believe the weekend's almost over! Day 3: Off to the Zoo we go! The Lincoln Park Zoo here in Chicago is one of the few FREE zoos left in the country. It's at the Lakefront, there's usually parking somewhere in the neighborhood and our kids can't get enough of it. The polar bears were actually out this time around doing their synchronized swimming. Mister couldn't get enough--he was entralled. I think he's found his favorite exhibit which suits me just fine--I could spend all day watching them too. Our lunches:
Mister's lunch Bub's lunch Parental lunch part 1
Parental lunch part 2
Contents of the kids' lunches: sliced hotdog, carrot sticks, mango chunks, jelly treat, ginger biscuits, ketchup.
Contents of the shared parental lunch: hotdogs, carrot sticks, the last of the mango salsa, hard boiled eggs, dill dip, stir fried veggies (from Whole Foods) with a dash of soy sauce.
After the zoo, we headed home for quick naps and then off to a birthday party where we got to catch up with a lot of our old neighbors. I don't think we've been so busy on a three-day weekend in such a long time and we all ate well, played well and slept well so in the end, it was well worth the timing and effort to make sure we got out of the house each day.

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----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Sur Le Weekend DATE: 6/30/2008 08:52:00 PM ----- BODY: So the family was here this weekend and I think we all had a good time! My dinner on Friday went over pretty well and now my fridge is a mishmash of foods. My in-laws from PA brought the coveted Yuenling beer and the ring baloney which I don't think we even have any of left! At least there are two cases of the Yuenling left in the garage--which still fits a Yugo in it.

My kids were run ragged by their cousins. We had in total, six kids (3 boys, 3 girls) ranging from age 16 months to 12 years old. Chaos was probably the best word for it and at times, I eyed the new construction house behind us wistfully wishing our house was 500 square feet larger. We had enough sleeping room, enough hot water, enough bathrooms and all was good. But having a full basement where the kids could just hang out and leave the living room to the adults would have been nice. Oh well! Nothing like a little house envy to keep you motivated at times.
On a fun note, I pulled together some photos I'd pulled from Flickr and some Bento gear and gave it to my SIL whose two girls are just a bit older than my boys. Her oldest, "Rosie" is as particular is Bubs is about her food and we agreed that 1/2 the battle was probably presentation. Rosie eyed me suspiciously as I was putting everything together for her mom and showed quite a bit of interest in the mayo/condiment cases. Meanwhile, their older cousin "D" was eyeing the photos I'd printed out (and laminated) with great interest. Like his youngest cousins, D likes food and has a very healthy relationship with it. Something tells me if I gave him a bento and some pictures he'd probably come up with some interesting lunches of his own. So, all and all, it was a good visit and a good first time hosting. Rosie told me that I was welcome to come to her house to visit any time I wanted and she "wanted to stay forever" at my house. Couldn't hope for a better compliment than that from one of my houseguests!

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----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Getting Ready for Company--Part 2 DATE: 6/26/2008 03:30:00 PM ----- BODY: Well, we can at least fit a Yugo in the garage now which doesn't say much considering we have two large cars! The stuff in the front room and the 3rd bedroom can now go into the garage on top of my ginormous Ikea Drafting table so I can finish the project over the next few weeks. After finishing that project for the evening, I did manage to make dinner and pack the leftovers for hubby's lunch.

Spanish rice (from a box), Mojito Pork, some maple crackers and (2) Babybel mini rounds of cheese. The pork was good at dinner but probably tasted even better today after being marinated overnight in the sauce. Packed in an 800ML Lock & Lock box and everything went into the fridge last night so he could just grab it at 5:30AM on his way out the door.

Tonight's dinner...we'll have to see. Tomorrow nights dinner should be a feast though:

Menu

Hopefully there is enough variety to keep everyone happy. We shall see...

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----- -------- AUTHOR: multiculturalmama TITLE: A Break from the Garage--Bento Boxes DATE: 6/25/2008 10:51:00 PM ----- BODY: I spent hours in the garage and made some headway so it's time to take a break and indulge in my new favorite pastime: Bentos. Thanks to the influences of bloggers extrodinaire, CityMama and Biggie, I've become obsessed with Bentos. Living in Chicago, a major metropolitan city, one would think that bento supplies such those posted on Biggie's Site and Flickr would come easy. On the contrary, it's been a treasure hunt and I haven't found the likes of the Stitch Bento Box just yet! Honestly, I don't think I'll find it out here in the Midwest.
What I have found is that some of the best kept secrets are just outside my backyard. Mitsuwa in Arlington Heights, about 15 miles Northwest of the city has the basic Asvel boxes which I really like. I've picked up a few extra and and have them on Petit-Tableau, my ecrater site. I have seen a variety of price ranges and paid much more than I would have expected for a simple box, but the Asvil has a nice seal, is microwave and dishwasher safe and they'll probably last longer than the more inexpensive ones.

Down the street from Mitsuwa in Niles (see last post) is H Mart. I found the cutest bento set for Mister and we've been using it for trips out and about. With his peanut allergy, I tend to be cautious about eating food at street fairs and even at other people's houses. The risk of cross contamination at his age (16 months) is too high so we just pack our diaper bag with a little extra something so he can join in the fun.

At Chicago Food Company's store just up the road from us, I found some great Lock & Lock containers for my husband. At 800 ML with dividers, they are the perfect size for his lunches.
Bubs favorite is his Clickety Click Mink Monkey box which is really adorable.

And of course the accessories; sauce containers, mayo/condiment cups, picks. They all now have a place in my kitchen cabinet. Note the Avsel bento box on top.

I will start adding photos of actual lunches made in these boxes, after all, isn't that what they are for?

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger bokumbop DATE:9/26/2008 09:12:00 PM MM - where did you find the various accessories, egg molds, sauce bottles, etc.? Did you find musubi molds, too? I really can't find much at Mitsuwa. ----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Getting Ready for Company-Pt 1 DATE: 6/25/2008 07:58:00 AM ----- BODY: My inlaws are coming into town this weekend and I'm in a bit of a tizzy. On top of that, Bubs has been under the weather for the last few days. We're not sure what's wrong but my usually bouncy three year old has turned into sad little specimen of his usual self. But sick toddler or not, family is still coming and we're all excited but overwhelmed. Thankfully, I have a sitter these next 2 days and our cleaning lady will be coming by this afternoon to touch things up, but the road to getting the house ready is a long one.
  1. Biggest project: THE GARAGE. After 9 months in our "new" house, it still looks like a storage space and hubby won't get anywhere near it (it's an attached garage so it's not like we can ignore it forever!). Why tackle this now? I need to get sleeping areas ready so stuff from:
  2. The 3rd bedroom and
  3. The playroom can make their way into the garage without fear of never being seen again!

There is also an incentive to getting this project done: a 2nd fridge. In general, we love to entertain and I'm all about quick meals and making things in advance so it makes sense. This weekend, we will have 12 people under our roof: (4) adults and (4) cousins in addition to our family of (4)! That's a lot to feed for the weekend and I certainly don't forsee it being easy to whip up pancakes for a dozen hungry people Saturday AM without some prepwork.

I also want to whip up some Korean Barbecue and freeze a large amount of rice so again, meals go quickly, easily without too much clean up.

Project garage starts in a 1/2 hour. Wish me luck--I'm going to need it!

----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: New Mommy Blog DATE: 6/24/2008 09:20:00 PM ----- BODY: City Mama has a great new venture that should be of interest to all mamas: The Savvy Source/Being Savvy. Check it out!

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----- -------- AUTHOR: MM TITLE: Catching Up DATE: 6/23/2008 04:20:00 PM ----- BODY:

I've been amiss about not keeping up so it's time to get back on track! The back is doing better thankfully but taking the painkillers lasted all about 24 hrs. I had EVERY side effect possible which was all very strange since I had taken it after both c-sections. I guess that tells you about the power of pregnancy and how much your body changes post-partum. It was quickly back to Advil, hot showers and limping about the house for the rest of week (note again, without any outside help!). Thankfully, hubby didn't have to work too much that weekend and I'm now working with a physical therapist. Still having back spasms a lot so I'm definitely down to about 2/3rd my normal speed. On a great note though, Bubs is now potty trained so that has helped a lot! He still wears a pull-up at night but it's not longer a source of stress! Speaking of normal. Summer has finally arrived in Chicago and the weather has been anything but normal. Usually, hubby and I try to get to as many street fairs as possible. This year, it's been a challenge with thunderstorms and rain every weekend! Our landscaping looks great and it's keeping the water bill down but it's a bummer when we want to escape from the house and spend time outdoors as a family. On the other hand, rain or shine, I've found myself making what are usually dreaded trips to the suburbs for Asian food supplies. I was so spoiled growing up in SF without even realizing it. Here, I plan my trip around traffic.com and Cubs traffic. There, I could just walk blocks and everything I could have ever wanted was right there. Now, it's a little more complicated. However, I have discovered some good places to shop.

Some of my purchases:

Mister influenced my 1st purchase. He tasted it, liked it and well, I figured if a 16 month old will eat squid, why not! The pork buns are perfect for Bubs lunches--perfect bento box sized and the last photo is the drawer in my fridge that now houses Asian goodies. Just because of the tendency of strong flavors, it made sense to give them their own space. In the bag, Kimchee for my neighbor. I'm not a fan personally but she is so there you have it (and no, she is not Asian for that matter). {06/24 Update: She loved it! Her husband and mine, not so thrilled by the smell!} Now, after all this shopping done, what to make for dinner tonight...

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----- -------- AUTHOR: multiculturalmama TITLE: Random Thoughts DATE: 5/22/2008 09:21:00 AM ----- BODY:
I'm in pain, not just any kind of pain, but excruciating, yes I will be taking the vicodin every 4 hours if you please pain. I managed to wrench my back and it's something that will heal over time but I will be starting physical therapy next week to avoid any future mishaps. I had two emergency c-sections with my kids and post-op/epidural wearing off was 100 times better than what I'm feeling now. What makes it even worse is our sitter's last day was yesterday and this is hubby's busiest time of the year so the kids are stuck with a very crabby, slightly giddy, fairly incapacitated mom for the rest of the week. Mister is too young to understand why mommy can't pick him up as usual. I managed to get him out of his crib and he threw a fit when I didn't pick him up. I can't say I feel guilty because it's not anyone's fault but the poor kid seems to think mommy is abandoning him. Bubs has the where with all of a 3 year old. He's supervising breakfast as we speak so their tummys will be full for at least a few hours. Granted, veggie booty is not the best thing for breakfast but if it's what they'll eat, I'm fine with it. I will be missing work the rest of the week--no way I could stand for 4-6 hours--I can't even sit for very long let alone drive to work. Thankfully, there is the flexibilty of working in retail and I think they know I didn't do this on purpose. On an upside, I've gotten a few of the bento box items I've ordered and could kick myself for not making this discovery 8 months ago when we were in SF for a visit. Would have saved me shipping costs, that's for sure. I'll take pictures and post them when things are a little more sane. Bubs was peering over my shoulder when I was scrolling one of my newfound favorite sites and he was very interested and excited about what he saw. Eggs shaped like a car? What 3 year old wouldn't like that?
Now, it needs to be said that Bubs is my now picky eater which has only been a phenomenon for about 1/3 of his life. I made 99% of his baby food so this was the 14 month old that would eat artichoke risotto, chicken, mango and a full bottle much to the amazement of my in-laws. He'd also finish a full breakfast and then pester my niece for some of her waffle. Not the case anymore. He takes a cooking class once a week but we are convinced that his brother will be the chef in the family. Mister has a very happy relationship with food. He's a bigger kid than his brother, but shockingly, only in the 45th percentile for weight for his age. He will eat pretty much anything you put in front of him which is nice. He also has a peanut allergy which forces us to read labels and scrutinize restaurant menus heavily. I think this new bento adventure that I'm embarking on will even things out a little. And, at the very least, keep lunches interesting. We have a gathering to go to across the street Sunday--I'll be limping over just to get out of the house--so I'm going to try making the shaped hardboiled eggs and seeing what the reaction is. Who knows, I may start a new trend of preschoolers bento boxing it to school. Stay tuned for neighborhood reaction.
----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger bokumbop DATE:6/18/2008 10:53:00 PM This comment has been removed by the author. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Mimi DATE:6/21/2008 04:24:00 PM I'm sorry you hurt. At least the narcotics will have you dreaming of fish shaped eggs and bento food picks! With one teething too... more power to ya. I admit, I don't know how you do it. ----- -------- AUTHOR: multiculturalmama TITLE: The Mommy Hood DATE: 5/15/2008 12:53:00 PM ----- BODY: I've been feeling a little disconnected these days. It probably doesn't help that my little guy, "Mister," has been teething so it's like having a newborn, except you don't want to be feeding a 14 month old in the middle of the night to get him to sleep. I'm also feeling a little self-conscious these days, maybe because I have two gorgeous children who are a cultural mix and I feel like I haven't been providing them with any cultural education. This resonates even louder these days with my older son "Bubs" starting preschool this fall and my 20th high school reunion in SF which I'm chairing. Too much in my head I guess. It's ironic actually, the more I think about it. I grew up in a very Irish Catholic Sunset District in San Francisco so I suppose I should be used to not looking like the other kids on the block. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, it really wasn't until the late 70's, early 80's that a large wave of immigration turned San Francisco into the cultural melting pot it is today. By the time I was in Jr. High, the demographics had quickly begun to change and looking back at my high school yearbook, the diversity is really evident. I'm sure the Class of 2008's photos are just varied--sans the permed and feathered hair of course! Recently, I found a number of blogs that chronicle the lives of moms living in the Bay Area that are of Asian heritage. I haven't lived in SF in 12 years but realize there are certain nuances that I miss terribly as a mom and now am starting to seek out here in the Windy City. I was inspired by those blogs, CityMama and Lunchinabox so I made a trip to the large Korean supermarket down the street and was both amused and tickled that the first language I heard when I walked in the store was Spanish being spoken by the warehouse men, unloaded crates of produce. Definitely not what I expected, but comforting because that would have been very common to hear in California. I walked out $50 lighter in the wallet after having purchased some food items and a couple of Bento Boxes for Bubs. Sticker shock on those as I understand you can get them in the Bay Area for about $2.00. Oh well! I will definitely have to scout them out when I am in SF in the fall. We do have a large Japanese grocery store out in the suburbs but with the construction on the highway (traffic is backed up from 6AM to 8PM EVERYDAY!!!) and gas prices, it might as well be in Iowa.

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