I Am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced

For the SV Moms Book Club I read I Am Nujood, Age 10 And Divorced and maaaaannnnn. Rough read, but inspiring. I wasn't even sure how I would begin a post about it. For the book club we write a post inspired by the book, so I tried to figure out what it inspired in me. I'm still not sure.

But, I know this: I know women who feel that they are trapped in marriages. Women who feel that they were forced or pressured into a marriage by their family. Pride, respect, power, financial gain, security... These are all reasons Nujood was married off at the terribly young age of ten. And these are the same reasons young women here feel pushed into getting married as well. There may not be contracts or dowries, but guilt and fear can be as strong.

I've become accustomed to women who tend to use their situation as an excuse. I'm unhappy, so _____________ (you fill in the blank). In my experience it ends with that person lashing out at someone else, hoping to push off their unhappiness and insecurities off on another. Reading about a child who was able to take her forced marriage and daily sexual and physical abuse and turn it into a force of power and determination... Well, that's just something else.

I'm not judging women who get swallowed up by it, but I am judging those who channel it in mean spirited, hurtful ways toward other people. If Nujood can pull together the strength to reclaim her life and happiness, I hope one day they will as well. Too bad the people I'm thinking of in particular don't look at this blog.

This post was inspired by I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, which I received complimentary as a part of Chicago Moms Blog (Silicon Valley Moms Group) Book Club.

OUR Best of Illinois 2010

While Lisa spends this Memorial Day in the office, working on The Best of Illinois event, I want to take a minute to recognize the Hannemaniacs best of Illinois...Lisa of coarse. It's not easy working a full time job, being a Mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend, and Mom blogger too, but Lisa pulls it off with success across the board.

Lets take a look at our honorees accomplishments shall we... For starters, Lisa is an fantastic mother. W is a happy little man, in no small part due to the love and support that his mother provides for him. There's a lot to learn as a first time Mom, but Lisa strikes an excellent balance of patience and encouragement, helping our little guy learn and explore the world around him. From learning to make his baby food, to getting up with him at 3am when he just won't go back to sleep, Lisa puts William first.

While Lisa is a great mother, she also finds time to be outstanding in her professional life. As an Events Manager Lisa helps pull off two major events a year, with responsibilities ranging from writing the program to selling sponsorships. It was a tough road to get where she is now, but Lisa excels at her work, helping to raise millions of dollars and building outstanding relationships through her hard work and dedication.

Speaking of relationships, how about her huge group of friends and family. Lisa has more friends than just about anyone I know, which says it all. There is no better person to go to for honest advice or a supportive pep talk than Lisa. Lets not forget she's also my wife! Lisa is always there to offer her support, while pushing me forward to be a better person. I couldn't ask for a more outstanding partner.

I could go on and on, but I also know that Lisa is humble. Friends, family, and colleagues alike can attest to what a great person Lisa is to have in your corner, so let's take a minute and recognize the Hannemaniacs Best of Illinois, Lisa Hanneman. Thanks for all that you do and all that you are!



I've been running around like crazy lately. Between an event for work next week and a couple of wedding showers and bachelorette parties, I'm up to my eyes. I'm tired of feeling like I'm running from one thing to the next.

Except, here's the thing... I'm not actually physically running. Wish I was. And my goal is to get back to it, so much so that I wrote a post for The Mom Renewal Project for it. Check it.


Mama's Little Helper

Lots of yard work this weekend. Matt did a ton and I managed to fill a few planters with flowers.... at 8:00 tonight, which was the first chance I had. (It all looked pretty good in the dark, but we'll see what I think in day light.) I guess the rest of the flowers I bought will have to wait until next weekend.

It's been impossible to keep the little guy in the house with all this gorgeous weather. So, we let him "work on the flowers to get them ready for planting" (read: scoop dirt out of a pot and scatter in various places) while I pulled all of our pots out of the garage and tried to make sense of all the plants I bought. When will I learn to go flower shopping with a plan? Probably never.

Once landscaping is in a better place, I'll put up some photos of the house. Can you see that color in the background of the photo? Consider that a bit of a sneak preview... On a side note: I can't tell you how many neighbors have come over to comment on how much better the place looks, which is kind, but also lets us know that we were "that" house.


Being Green Stinks (like, literally)

Composting is good. Composting is good. Composting is good. This is what I had to repeat to myself again and again and again this morning when I took our composting out to the bin. No, scratch that, this is what I had to repeat to myself when I opened up the bin and was greeted by the sweet smell of the ape cages at the zoo. It's the only thing I can think to use as a comparison.

I know I'm being good to Mother Earth by composting. But, man, I can't imagine what it's going to smell like come July. Seriously, that is some major funk.

Our goal is to plant a vegetable garden next to the composter and use our own compost to fertilize and feed our little tomatoes and green beans. Sounds sweet, right? I just can't imagine something this smelly coming in contact with something that we will (hopefully) eat.

We're following the composting rules so closely it's freaking (non-rule follower) me out. We've limited it to only fruits, vegetables, egg shells, and coffee grounds from our kitchen. We've added flowers as they die and some grass clippings, but that is it. Nothing with sugar to attract bugs, nothing with salt that might preserve it and slow down the composting process, nothing that is not natural. If a piece of lettuce has dressing on it, it goes into the garbage. This was all supposed to ensure it wouldn't smell and our composting process would be quick and somewhat painless. But, it's slow going. This doesn't look like fertilizer - Just mush.

I'm not complaining... Just looking for some help. Any composting peeps out there that can help a sister out?

Disclosure: This post has been sponsored by Alan's Factory Outlet Gazebo Kits. I was compensated.


Yes, I Live On The North Shore, But That's Not Why I Think I'm Better Than You

I live on the North Shore. Judge away. I judge people all the time. And, yes, those who know me best know that I tend to get on a superior high horse when it comes to people who I feel are hurtful, selfish, stupid, rude, etc. etc. And, yes, I feel like I am better than those people. (Save the lectures.)

You may not like to hear this, but at least I'm honest. Everyone thinks they're better than *some* people, because if they didn't there would be nothing to strive for. No moral code to uphold. No need to try to be honest, to try to be charitable and kind. We need to compare ourselves to others to strive to be better, to not sink down to that level. Right? (Please, no psychoanalyzing.)

Some people are not smart, do not take responsibility, are scared and selfish. But, a zip code does not create that in people. Check out my new Chicago Moms Blog post for my thoughts on The North Shore Stigma.

Honestly, if I think I'm better than you, it has nothing to do with either of our zip codes and more to do with the type of person you are.


Bird In My Ear

Our little guy loves birds. "Birdy" was one of his first words and now he refers to most of them as either "Mr. Robin" or "Mr. Cardinal." Very formal, our little fellow.

This last week he's been battling congestion and fevers, but yesterday he started to say, "Bird in my ear."

"Does the bird hurt your ear?" Matt asked.


So, that means ear infection, right? I was sure of it. A trip to the doctor and it doesn't seem to be an ear infection. Just a really bad cold and a good old case of "bird in ear."

Tonight I asked him if the bird was still in his ear. He confirmed it was, so I asked if he wanted me to tell it to get out. He thought that was a good idea, so I kindly asked the bird to vacate the premises.

"What did the bird say?" I asked when I was done requesting he beat it?

"Hi." I have a feeling the bird is just getting comfortable.


I've Arrived

Yesterday I officially became a mom. One might think that it just happens when you get pregnant or during the birthing process. I did, too. Until yesterday...

W was being extra cuddly and wanted to read instead of play. He climbed off of my lap and with his back to me I heard a little choke. I asked what was in his mouth and he turned and walked over to me. Another choke. He looked confused and a little scared. And then I knew.

I quickly cupped my hands under his chin. "It's OK, baby. Just let it go," I said. And he did.

In an instant my hands were full of vomit, warm, chunky, liquid spilled out of my hands and onto his shirt. He started to cry. Scared, I'm sure.

Matt walked in from his yard work at the perfect moment. "Help! My hands are full of puke!"

We ushered W into the kitchen, I dumped my hands into the sink, and I tore off his monkey t-shirt, reminding him it was OK. And just like that I became a real mom.

There is nothing like that instinct that tells you to cup your hands and start comforting your child while you have puke on the couch, your jeans, and the kid. No time for you to plug your nose or put on a mask. You can't gag or back off in that instant, because all the fears of puke you've had melt into the background. Somehow your kid's puke isn't quite as gross as all the other pukes you've been avoiding all your life. That's when you know you've arrived.


Megatouch: Our House

Lots of changes are going on over here. We've decided to reinvest our tax return into our house and are knocking off some big items on the "To Do" list we've been keeping since we bought the place. It's slow going, but little by little it will end up being something pretty major when we're all done.

Thought it might be fun to play a little game. Kinda like Megatouch, that video touch screen game at bars. (Yeah, I didn't remember what they were called until I googled it.)

Here is our place as it previously appeared. Pretty sweet, huh?

And here it is today:

Can you see the difference between the two photos? Do you?

I wish I had a great prize for guessing the correct answer, but I have a feeling we'd have a ton of winners. (Note: There's a clue in the picture.)

Monster Stickers!

Being the fun auntie must feel really good. You come over and the kid is incredibly excited to see you, squealing your name, doing a tip toe dance. You make googly eyes, give good hugs, giggle, cuddle, and swing the kid around and he melts. It doesn't hurt when you come equipped with special treats, like stickers, for example. Mom would never give a toddler a large book of monster stickers. Fun aunties, on the other hand, have free range.

Today's Best Friends

I like to ask W who his best friends are, but realize his allegiances aren't very strong considering the answer changes constantly. I usually ask him for his Top 4 Best Friends.

Here is today's list:
1. Dada
2. Mama
3. Jack
4. Dada

If your name isn't on the list, just wait. This kid's heart is a revolving door.


How Can You Protect Your Kid From Random Violence?

I've been terribly disturbed by the recent bat attack on two young women in Bucktown. It happened so close to our old place and reminded me the many, many dangerous positions I put myself in (without realizing it most of the time) when I was in my early 20's. It was pure luck that allowed me to safely make it home every night. Luck, not smarts.

As the parent of a toddler, I worry for his day to day safety. Concerns generally include running into the street, splitting his head open on the corner of the coffee table, falling off of a slide, or something of the kind. These seem to be somewhat controllable factors in life now.

What about all those jerks out there who somehow roam around with no respect for other people and no value for life? How will I be able to control his safety then? Check out my recent post for Chicago Moms Blog.


Mom Renewal

I've started contributing to The Mom Renewal Project, a blog run by fellow Chicago Moms Blogger, Stacey Hoffer Weckstein. Here's the tagline: Recharge Yourself – Body, Mind, and Spirit – so You can Live Your Best Live as a Woman, Mom, and Partner.

Cool, right? I've really been focusing on being better in every way (cheesy, but true), so it seems like a good fit for where I am now. I can't tell people how to be renewed, but I can show someone what it looks like to be trying to get there.

Here's my first post about working from home. Check it out.


Why I Can't Be Trusted With Pregnancy Bra Questions

I'm like an open book when it comes to new mom and pregnancy questions. (Bring it on!) But, here's the thing... I can't promise to give the best possible answers.

Exhibit A: the below question from a newly pregnant and obviously very nice (she likes my little guy and saw him a really good day) lady I know:

Fair Question for an expectant mom to ask:

Hey Lisa! I meant to ask you this earlier but didn't get the chance. Do you have any bra suggestions? I'm shopping around for new ones but am not sure if I'm supposed to buy regular bras in the bigger size, or if I should look at nursing bras and hope I can wear them after the birth and when the size goes back down. What do you suggest? Do you have any store suggestions?

By the way, William is sooo smart and cute! I hope my kid is like him. :)

My Answer (or why I can't be trusted with bra questions):

I wish I had better suggestions... But, here's the truth: my sister has really big boobs and had some bras that she didn't wear much and didn't like. I know, it's crazy, but I didn't want to waste money and they worked fine. Kinda cheap, but whatever, I'm over it. (I also may not be the best person to ask since I'm not too picky about my bras in general.)

Once I hit my last trimester I went out and bought a few nursing bras. There is a store in Wilmette near Old Orchard that was really helpful. I'll check the name when I drive by this weekend. But, be ready for full-on no privacy boobs show with the ladies who work there. I think one brand was Medela. Can't remember and they're all packed away. You'll know which ones are the most comfortable. I would stay away from any sort of underwire. Yuck.

Let me know if you want more advice and I'll ask my friends who might be a little more helpful.

So, I probably should not be surprised if she never comes to me for advice ever again. And this is the perfect opportunity to introduce my friend Lara, who has her own spanking new blog, Ask Me. I bet she might have come up with something a little more useful.

P.S. Please continue to ask questions of me. I really do like to answer them, even if I leave you more stumped that you were before...


... And Then I Rethink This Whole Working Thing

Setting: William's room, Wednesday morning, 6:30 am

William has just woken up and we go in to greet him. The following is the conversation I had with him (yes, he's 20 months old):

"Good morning, baby! Did you have a good sleep?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said.

"Did you have good dreams?"


"What did you dream about?"


"What was he doing?"

"Cleaning leaves."

"Did you dream of anything else?"


"What was she doing?"

"Cleaning bushes."

"Did you dream about Mommy and Daddy?"


"What were we doing?"


And just like that my working mom heart shed a tear.


Blind Date

I had a blind date today. We met each other online through a networking site. We e-mailed a couple of times, dealt with a few rescheduled dates, and then it finally worked out that we could meet at a park today.

I had to squeeze in a quick workout and threw my favorite weekend chicken into the crock pot, so that left me with about ten minutes to get ready. I pulled myself together, strapped W into his car seat, and we were off. I wondered if I would be recognized. We hadn't shared physical descriptions about ourselves. Just agreed to meet at the park at noon.

We pulled up and W insisted on walking across the field to the park by himself, which included multiple stops to pick dandelions and check out the random tree. As we got close, I saw a handsome guy walking through the sand in the park. Must be him, I figured.

His mom looked up and waved.

Ahhh, yes, the blind play date. (What did you think I was talking about, anyway?) Two moms new to an area looking for socialization for their sons and, more importantly, for themselves. That's how it starts, I guess. You take a leap of faith and figure worse case scenario might include an awkward and silent hour spent at a park with your kiddo. What's there to lose?

But, then, what if one mom walks away thinking "Wow, new friend!" and the other thinks she couldn't get out of there soon enough? Does a break up have to happen? An "It's not you, it's me"? Blame it on an already full social calendar and hope that you don't run into each other at the grocery store... But, then, you may potentially meet your new best friend, someone you'll click with instantly, finding a kindred spirit who also misses living in the city, feels new to the suburbs, and works full time.

The same way so many people do while they're dating, new moms are looking for a connection. So, blind play dates aren't too weird. Maybe we're not looking for a soul mate, but definitely for a new companion, for someone to travel down the motherhood road with, to call at the last minute and meet for a playdate or cocktail. Hoping for the chance that this will be the friend who takes in your kid when you can't find a sitter and calls when they drive by your house and notice the light in your car is on.

No matter where we are in life, we're always looking for connections. New moms are looking for someone to share their experiences with. It's what helps us learn about being a mom. For me, if it weren't for a very good mom friend in particular, I'm not sure I'd feel so confident in being a mom. We didn't necessarily meet on a blind date. Rather, we were set up by my best friend who wisely knew we were "right" for each other. It was the equivalent of sparks on our first date and we've been seeing each other on a regular basis since. Discussing all the mom things that most people are too scared to admit or feel stupid asking their doctor has been wonderful. And I'm positive I've found a true, life long friend.

As for today... I had a nice time. It went well. I won't get into specifics. After all, I don't play and tell.