Here is the story behind this picture. Alex is holding a Thomas the Tank Engine toy called “Rosie”. Alex saw Rosie about a week and a half ago at TJ Maxx when shopping with mom. Mom told him he could get one toy, and he selected Rosie’s friend “Sir Handel”, another Thomas toy.

With typical toddler greediness, Alex saw Rosie after selecting Sir Handel and began to beg for that one as well. Mom told him that if he went potty on the “big boy” potty, mom would get him Rosie. A few days later, dad took Alex to TJ Maxx and Alex began the Rosie conversation again. This time saying, “we buy Rosie, dad, we buy it!”

Matt mentioned it to me when he got home, and I clued Matt in so we were both on the same page. During the course of the week, I would repeatedly get told, “I want to go to TJ Maxx to get Rosie”. I would remind Alex that if he used the big boy potty, we would head over to TJ Maxx and get Rosie. Typically, this was met with “No”, or a change of the subject, or just an overall sudden disinterest in talking to me.

(I should add that this is a kid who has willingly gone to the bathroom before, and just decided after a few times it was much easier to stay in diapers because he didn’t really see what the fuss was all about being potty trained.)

On Wednesday, after 90 minutes of reading, drinking water and repeated trips to the bathroom, we had success! Alex of course wanted to go claim the Rosie engine. We headed on over, and I had a flash of panic wondering if the darn thing was still there or not. Scanning the toys, I didn’t see it at first, until I located it on the top shelf. In true TJ Maxx discounted style, the packaging on Rosie was all beaten and torn up. I think in our case, that helped deter other, more discriminating children. Whew…

On the downside, Alex found another toy, Flora the Tram Engine, for which I will once again use Chicago Machine-style bribing methods. Instead of campaign contributions for a senate seat, I will accept potty time in return for a plastic train made in China. I think even Rahm Emmanuel would be impressed.

Second (Class) City

Chicago — The Worst Place On Earth?
According to, it’s the third most miserable city in the country! (And even more surprising, Chicago is higher on the list than Detroit! I mean, Detroit — where this kind of stuff happens!)

From “Chicago would seem to be on quite a roll these days. The city is a leading contender to host the Summer Olympics in 2016. The hometown Cubs had the most wins of any team in the National League last year and are one of the early favorites to win the 2009 World Series. And, of course, one of its own just became the most powerful person in the world (we’re not talking about Oprah either, but she’s close).

So with all of the good vibes coming out of Chicago, how does it show up as the third worst city on our second annual list of America’s Most Miserable Cities?

Lousy weather, long commutes, rising unemployment and the highest sales tax rate in the country are to blame for the Windy City being near the top of our list. High rates of corruption by public officials didn’t help either.”

Read the rest of the article here.

I will be the first to agree that Chicago in the wintertime is probably the most miserable place on earth sans Green Bay. If you aren’t worried about digging your car out from the snow and saving the spot, a la “dibs”,

or making sure that you have enough layers on to handle the walks to and from public transportation,

then you’re probably dodging falling icicles from skyscrapers,

or braving the Lake Michigan Zephyr as it roars off the shore and flattens your face.
All photos courtesy of the Chicago Tribune.

One time I remember waiting for the 151 bus at Sheridan and Diversey…and waiting…and waiting. It was one of those -20 wind chill days where exposed skin can get frostbite in about 5 minutes. No cabs were available, a bus or two went by without stopping because it was so packed. I remember wanting to cry so badly because I was so bone-chillingly miserable and cold…only to consider that my lashes would probably freeze to my brows if I did. Thankfully, an office building lobby was open or I would probably be missing a finger or toe.

I really was not looking forward to having to drive regularly when I moved to DM. And part of me still hates being dependent on a car. But not during the winter time. Oh, sweet, sweet garage! You make “dibs” meaningless…my patio furniture never has to double for a parking spot!

Gift Idea!

15 days until Christmas, and if you’re still wondering what to get me as a gift, here are some hints…

Hint #1: While not technically made out of gold, it has in fact been described as “golden”.

Hint #2: It’s been basically empty for the last two years.

Hint #3: It’s green – powered by wind…lots and lots of it.

Hint #4: It’s gonna *bleeping* cost you!

Still stumped???

It’s an Illinois Senate Seat!