Children’s Play Review: The Selfish Giant at The Chicago Children’s Theatre

Review originally posted on

Based on a short story from Oscar Wilde, The Selfish Giant – the latest production from Chicago Children’s Theatre – features music by Chicago folk legend Michael Smith and production by Blair Thomas & Company.

The show, which runs a short and sweet 50 minutes, tells the story of a grumpy giant who restricts children from playing in his garden. He locks the children out and winter descends on the garden for eternity. Winter continues until a hole is found through a wall around the giant’s garden and the kids sneak back in. You can guess the rest.

The songs describing the plot are downright funny, enough to get full belly laughs from the audience. The puppets, created specifically for this performance, carry expressiveness and whimsy. (The humorous music and lyrics make an otherwise gruff giant less stern looking.)

Speaking of the puppets, the puppeteer, Sam Deutsch, does a masterful job of orchestrating solo through a variety of set and puppet changes.

I took my two sons, ages eight and five, to see the show on opening night, and the performance is suitable for kids in this age range. My eldest son, mesmerized by the engineering of how the puppets work, had this to say about the play:

“The Selfish Giant is a very fun play to watch. The artwork is outstanding. It is amazing to see how the puppets work on stage. The background music fits right into the play, with no speaking.”

The performance runs through Feb, 22, 2015 at the Ruth Page Center for Arts, 1016 N. Dearborn Street.


Mom 2.0 2012 Recap: The Year of Calm

This Mom 2.0 must have been the best blog conference I’ve been to in my nearly six years of blogging. Maybe not for the content I learned (a little more on that later), but for the comfortableness I felt amongst my peers. I think it’s taken a long time to get here, but finally I think I’ve found my place in the world of don’t-call-them-mommy bloggers.

When I started blogging I didn’t struggle with what to write or who my target audience was – it was the working moms I felt solidarity with – we were banded by our guilt (or lack thereof) and of our purpose balancing young kids and life.

Then, when I left the big agency, I went adrift. I never wanted to blog personal, any attempt at me blogging about being frugal was an all-out farce, (have you met me?) and I felt adrift in an ocean of popular mom blogs.

But this time around, Mom 2.0 2012 I think I figured it all out. I’m now my own business owner with a plan and a purpose. I have a role professionally and felt that would benefit from the energy of my longtime blogging peers and new friends.

And that’s why I enjoyed Mom 2.0 so much this year. I had a room filled with fun and laughs (and loud hilarious partying from the boys next door) and meaningful conversations that pushed me beyond worrying about page views and site progress.

Not all the discussions had purpose – I personally felt there were too many inspirational keynotes (I’m not one for motivational talks, shoot me now) and not enough break out learning sessions, but overall I got the gist of what the intention and purpose of the conference was and I got something more for myself. The confidence again that I make sense in the mix. That I have a renewed purpose for my blog. That I belong. Maybe it was the Jew thing. But I’m thinking not. I’m thinking it’s because I’ve found some peace between the struggle I’ve always had with my blog and work. No more. My blog has led me to many interesting places with interesting people and I continue to be grateful for its presence.

Just don’t expect me to start blogging every day or anything now.

Blog for Choice Day

Today is NARAL’s Blog for Choice Day – a day to recognize the important fact that a woman should have a right to choose on issues regarding their reproductive rights. To know me is to know that I feel very strongly about this issue.

I’m very involved in NARAL Pro-Choice America. In fact, this year I’ve been selected to Co-Chair the Chicago Leadership Council – a great group consisting of NARAL national board members and local influencers in the Chicago community dedicated to keeping pro-choice candidates in office.

On this Blog for Choice Day, NARAL is asking bloggers to say what they are going to do to help elect pro-choice candidates in 2012? What am I going to do? Taking on this leadership role is one of the most important things I think I can do to help keep things stable in Washington. We’re in a decent place right now, and I hope this year we can continue the momentum to make sure women can keep on choosing what makes sense for them, their bodies and their families.

What will you do? I’d love to know and if you’re in Chicago (or anywhere else, for that matter), and you’d like to know more about NARAL, please feel free to comment here or send me an email.

In the stream

My dad always had a saying, “Once you’re in the stream, you’re golden.” Meaning, if you want to be networking and doing, and working, you have to get in the proverbial stream of fish, and go…

I’m obviously my father’s daughter. When I see a chance to jump in, if I can, I will. This weekend I jumped into She Streams, a conference leading women and brands into the future of social technology. I was asked to speak on a panel about finding success from your passions with the amazing Mojo Coach Debi Silber and the incredible Angela Santomero, also known as the creator of Blues Clues, Super Why, and the forthcoming new take on Mr. Rogers, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. And me.

Before our session, which concluded the break out sessions for the day, I attended yesterday’s terrific keynote speech from Build-A-Bear founder Maxine Clark and a good talk on branding with my new idol, Luxury Travel Mom and the go-getter Go Mom. Had a terrific post-lunch chat with the CEO of Macaroni Kid (boy is that woman smart!) and got great advice from Audrey McClelland and Maria Bailey herself about videocasting (it’s what we should all be doing, apparently.) And, I was labeled by one attendee of our session as “that marketing woman in the red blazer.” (It was in a good way.)

Me and my passion posse.

Mostly, I learned that it’s good to go out to conferences like this and see people and remember that you’re part of the school of fish.

Other key learnings from She Streams:

1) If you’re not doing video for your content, you’re missing the boat. What blogging was 3 years ago, video is now. So, if you feel like you are camera-savvy, hop on that train!

2) Bloggers want money. I don’t really know how to couch this any other way. The debates are ongoing, but the experts keep telling the bloggers – you are worth something, so ask for it. As I’ve said before on other blogs, I agree with this — to an extent. I don’t think every blog or blog post or tweet or what have you is worth the same amount of money. Sometimes I think product should be worth enough, if the product matches what you talk about on your site. But look for money to continue ruling the conversation between brands and bloggers in the days/ weeks/ months to come.

3) There’s no substitution for in-person or face-to-face communications. In my prior life I would coach corporate execs on this very thing – it’s important to see your employees in person every once in awhile. Same with my blogging and marketing co-horts. Best part of going to these conferences, again, is talking to people in the flesh. Much less snarky and more fun than on twitter.

4) Let’s remember to be supportive of each other. Too many times, I think we, as moms, worry about the backstabbing and the superiority factor. In my short talk, someone came up to me afterwards and thanked me for being honest that I have a lot of support to help do what I do and to make my career and beautiful life happen. She felt that we, as moms, sometimes put up the facade that we can “do it all.” I told her you’ll never get that from me – so let’s try to be as real as we can be…

Remembering 9/11

Ten years ago today I sat in my cubicle in a big NYC skyscraper in Times Square thinking about what a beautiful, clear, crisp fall day it was.

Next thing I knew I was walking down 20 flights of stairs and 2.5 miles downtown to my Union Square apartment thinking the world as we had known it had ended.

But it didn’t. We survived one of the worst moments in our history (and by that I mean the creation of the TSA. It’s me, I needed to insert a little comic relief.)

I still don’t want to explain to my child what happened on 9/11/01, but I still believe we are stronger because of it.

To all those who loved and lost on that tragic day, I remember you.

Shameless promo post

It’s been a week since I posted, I know, but for every emotional post, I must add one of fluff.

Believe it or not, I still contribute to Chicago Parent, just now with the new biz, not as often as I like. Now, I have a post up on their Chi-Town Parent blog about the lull between school and camp being a SAHM problem. Just because I felt like venting for a change on a public forum because I don’t do that nearly enough.

Also, Caitlin and I have a new column up on Cheeky Chicago – Love being a part of their fabulous female community. This week we talked to Ellee Pai Hong. Go read it!

I’m still on the Totsy Mom Committee and it’s been a really good experience so far. Today, Totsy is having a sale on Tellurian Baby – a new skin care line from Jane Leeves of Frasier fame! Stuff looks great. Go buy!

Next up… a real post. Until then, enjoy the fluff.

My grandfather’s poems

My grandfather passed away last month at the age of 87. Besides being a WWII vet and a successful dentist, my grandfather fancied himself a poet. Funny, wistful, whimsical, his words are his legacy for us to remember his personality. Since he was an avid reader of my blog (as long as I would print out the posts), and that it’s coming up on Father’s Day, I figure I should post a few of my favorite of his poems up here for them to live long on the Internet. It would give him a kick to know he was “published.”

My mom actually put a book together of all of his poems for my grandparents’ 50th anniversary. The book, titled, “If I was Married to Me,” says something about his personality and zest for life. The cover drawing my mother concocted is something else:

Herewith, some of my favorites of papa’s poems.

He created lullabies that have transcended generations:

“Sleep, Sleep Baby Sleep”

Sleep, sleep, baby sleep,
Tomorrow will come too soon,
Dreams Dreams full of moon beams,
Sent by your pal the moon.

The stars up above,
All send their love,
Up in the sky so high,
Sleep, sleep, baby sleep,
This is your lullaby.

His optimistic view of life lasted to the end. And he loved to gamble. Somehow, that goes together.

“Life is a Game of Craps”

Life is a game of craps,
The dice are yours to throw,
Snake eyes or seven,
Box cards or eleven,
When they stop rolling, you’ll know.

Life is a game of craps,
Enjoy the good rolls when you can,
You never know,
When the dice you throw,
Will change the life you plan.

Life is a game of craps,
The bounces determine your fate,
Changing happy times to sad,
Undying love to hate.

Life is a game of craps,
Where the stickman runs the show,
Is he in charge of our destiny?
Better we never know.

Life is a game of craps,
The dice are yours to throw,
Snake eyes or seven,
Box cars or eleven,
When they stop rolling you’ll know.

He had a wicked sense of humor:

“If I was Married to Me”

If I was married to me,
What a great couple I’d be,
No more nagging or hassle,
I’d be king of the castle,
What a wonderful life,
If I only was my own wife.

If I was married to me,
No more fights what to see on T.V.
Boxing, hockey, golf and lacrosse,
With the remote in my hands,
There’s no doubt whose the boss,
What a wonderful life,
If I only was my own wife.

If I had me for my wife,
Vacations would be paradise,
I would ogle bikinis,
While sipping martinis,
And be where they’re throwing the dice.
What a wonderful life,
If I only was my own wife.

If I was my own spouse,
I’d wear my shoes through every room in the house,
Drink my beer with no glass,
Burp out loud from the gas,
and no one would call me a souse,
If I was my own spouse.

If I had picked me for my bride,
What great wheels I would drive,
A Jag, maybe a Vet,
Either bright red or black jet,
With creamy white leather inside,

No fun tooling around town,
In a dinged Chevy that’s brown,
It could have been a wonderful ride,
If I had picked me for my bride.

If I had me for my wife,
One thing does not seem quite right,
Would life get boring, not too enjoying,
If there never was ever a fight?
Making up can be tender and sweet,
Especially between smooth satin sheets,
Soon on thinking things through,
One thing is so true,
I’m so lucky to be married to you!

He thought deeply about life and death more than I ever knew.

“My Spirit”

When I sleep,
My restless spirit flies,
To unknown places,
Far away lands,
Over bounding oceans,
Through spacious skies.

When I die,
You are forever free,
But I always wonder,
What will become of thee?

“Live Each Day”

Live each day,
In a special way,
Leave no time for sorrow.

Have no regrets,
Or laments,
There may be no tomorrow.

Life zips by,
Like a flash in the sky,
Precious time yours to gamble.

Whose to know,
When the wind will blow,
The flame out from your candle.

Papa, your flame may be gone, but you will always burn brightly in our hearts. Happy Father’s Day.

The Cupcake Wars Hit Chicago

In case you missed it on my twitter/ Facebook feeds, here’s my latest story in this edition of Chicago Parent Going Places magazine on the best cupcake shops in the city (+ one in Evanston) for kiddos.

And, yes, I’m back from my trip, but I’m slammed, so until I dig out of a mountain of email, all you’ll get is this filler post stuff. And it’s not even good cream cheese sugar frosting kind. For that, I apologize.

Vacation hold

You know how you can hold your mail and newspaper and such while you’re away on vacation? Same goes for the blog. I’m going on vacation, baby!

See ya in a week or so…

Are you a hot mama looking for something to do next Sunday in Chicago? Look no further.

Did you know my good friend Alison of Sassy Mom Chicago is hosting an amazing event next Sunday to benefit Bundle of Joy Diaper Bank? I’m going to be away for it, but I wish I was able to join in on this event. Details below. Space is limited, so sign up soon!

Get your sweat on!  Join Sara Haley, six months pregnant and prenatal certified, for 60 minutes of sweating & sculpting.  Sara will take you through a safe but challenging prenatal/postnatal workout like you’ve never experienced before!  All levels welcome.

When: December 19th 9:00 am – 10:00 am

Where: All About Dance, 501 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60610

Who: Thinking about babies, making babies, about to have a baby, just had a baby? All are welcome!

RSVP: Space is limited so sign up soon. Class is $15 and all proceeds benefit Bundle of Joy Diaper Bank of Chicago. RSVP TODAY!

About Sara Haley
As a Global Instructor and Creative Consultant for Reebok, Sara Haley is a hot new personality on the fitness scene. With a focus on high intensity interval and circuit training workouts that make you sweat, her philosophy – “Change your body, change your workout, change your life!” – applies to everything that she shares with her clients and followers. Sara has created and starred in numerous fitness DVDs, like her new Beauty Sculpt fitness workout that is part of Elle Magazine’s Make Better DVD collection with Brooklyn Decker. Visit Sara online at

About Bundle of Joy Diaper Bank
Bundle of Joy is a not-for-profit Diaper Bank serving families in Chicago. They organize diaper collections with local businesses, civic organizations, churches, and schools, and distribute diapers to families who need them. Help Bundle of Joy reach their goal of 100,000 Diapers Campaign launching December 1st.

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