Friday Fun…Chicago my kind of town!

Happy Friday Everyone. from Chicago…


I love Mondays and Fridays…what about you? The beginning and the end…alpha and omega!

Today, it is super sunny here and hopefully Spring will really be making an attempt at revealing herself. Luckily, I will be in Chicago to enjoy some of the gorgeous weather and I will be breathing in the excitement that a city of stature brings to me.

Most Fridays… I am downtown and it has become one of my favorite moments of the week. I am a people watcher and have always made up stories about people that I see along my way through the day. I am judgmental in that way.

This week, I made two trips to Chicago. I met a mom toting three children in Starbucks on Tuesday. She was relaxed and enjoying the moment. She had twin girls, who were 4 years old and a little boy 18 months in her arms. I immediately thought to myself, how cute and calm she was and how awesome that she could negotiate crossing a busy street with three kids. She ordered her coffee and I ordered my Chai…we chatted. I told her of my admiration and that I wished to live in the city again but wasn’t sure how it would be with a 5 year old grandchild. She told me that she was planning a move to the burbs in a year or two…maybe we could swap homes I thought. Then I learned something about Starbucks…they have these little things that look like toothpicks at the the pick-up counter. If you need to plug the opening in your take out lid…pick one up. It prevents you from being scalded as you carry your coffee to your destination…genious!  I love this stuff!

We parted ways and I continued on to my appointment with the plug in the lid of my cup…no more spills for me! I thought about this mom’s calmness and realized that I probably was never quite like her as I only had two kids in tow at any given moment when I was her age. I didn’t live in the city either…I lived in a Florida beach town and then a Chicago suburb.

I love these brief encounters and I really enjoy the ones where I meet friendly folks who share a little of themselves…not too much…just enough to make my day!

What about you?

How do you like your days…do you enjoy chance encounters…do you talk to folks in a line for coffee? Or…do you feel invaded when someone like me speaks to you, when all you want is to get your damn coffee and get out of there.

Thank you “City of Big Shoulders” for being a “friendly” city when it comes to people like myself!

Oh…please visit me at ChicagoNow and my new blog…Today’s Grandmum!




Chicago Holidays…Lincoln Park Zoo

Chicago is a world class city.

Being a native of New York, I really thought that I would never get used to living away from it.

But Chicago is where I have been at home for many years and where my children have grown up. Now, as a grandparent, it is my turn to enjoy Chicago and all it has to offer.

Chicago Holidays...zoo lightsLast night was unusually warm for December, so we took advantage of the balmy weather and made a spur of the moment plan to have dinner downtown and try to take in the Zoo Lights at Lincoln Park.

First, we stopped at Viaggio on Fullerton and had an excellent meal with our granddaughter.

Chicago- Viaggio on Fullerton

To our surprise, it was child friendly and they were very accommodating with our late arrival due to horrendous traffic.

Viaggio came recommended to us just that afternoon so it was a new find and a wonderful one. We met the owner, Dave and his daughter.

I think we will find our way back there soon maybe without our granddaughter so our meal can be more leisurely.

Chicago Holidays-Christmas at Lincoln Park Zoo 2013

Unfortunately, our attempt to visit the Zoo Lights was limited to driving along Stockton with the rest of mankind, looking for parking. It seems that everyone was taking advantage of the unseasonable weather.

Chicago Zoo Lights-Lincoln Park

The light show was fantastic even from a distance and Lakeshore Drive lived up to my expectations on a clear night.

The lights along “The Drive” make me so happy to live near Chicago, such a gorgeous city.

Chicago-The Drake

My granddaughter thought all the lights were pretty fantastic and exciting… her enthusiasm was contagious!

Flu or Cold??? or just sick?

This is “flu” season and you can become very sick …it is epidemic in some cities. Even if you have had a flu shot you can come down with Influenza symptoms that were not covered by the “flu vaccine”.

Here in Chicago, some of the hospitals are having to turn people away from their emergency rooms and send them on to another hospital for care due to so many cases of flu.

CVS Minute Clinics can offer you the flu shot if you have not already had one…it is not too late!

CVS Minute Clinics are in many states throughout the country.

Here in Chicagoland, they are clinically affiliated with Advocate Healthcare and are staffed with nurse practitioners and or physician assistants…there may be a Minute Clinic that is convenient to you.

You do not need an appointment and your insurance may cover your visit…if you do not have insurance Minute Clinics accept several forms of payment including credit cards.

If you find yourself in need of vaccinations, a physical, wellness screen or treatment for common family illnesses, you might consider CVS Minute Clinic…if there is one available near you. Their website can also give you information and perhaps answer any questions you might have before you visit a Minute Clinic.


MinuteClinic walk-in medical clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners and physician assistants who provide treatment for common family illnesses and injuries, administer vaccinations, conduct physicals and wellness screenings, and offer monitoring for chronic conditions.

Our practitioners can:

  • Diagnose, treat and write prescriptions for common family illnesses such as strep throat, bladder infections, pink eye and infections of the ears, nose and throat
  • Provide common vaccinations for flu, pneumonia, pertussis, and hepatitis, among others
  • Treat minor wounds, abrasions, joint sprains and skin conditions such as poison ivy, ringworm and acne
  • Provide a wide range of wellness services, including sports and camp physicals, smoking cessation and TB testing
  • Offer routine lab tests, instant results and education for those with diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure or asthma

Most services are available for those age 18 months and older, but ages for specific services may vary. To see services available and age restrictions in Massachusetts, click here.

Please check the individual service, and read the following “what to know” sections before your visit.






usually present



fairly common



moderate to severe

onset of symptoms

appear gradually

can appear within 3-6 hours


hacking, productive cough

dry, unproductive cough




stuffy nose



runny nose



sore throat



general aches/pain


common, often severe

chest discomfort


often severe




I was not compensated in any way for this post…all opinions are my own.
Of course, if you are seriously injured or ill you would want to call 911 or visit your nearest Emergency Room.

Celebrate…Four Seasons Chicago Staycation!

Happy Anniversary Champagne Toast – Four Seasons Chicago!

My husband and I have been married for 35 years.

Over those years, we have celebrated many memorable occasions together with our family at The Four Seasons Hotel, Chicago.

Birthdays, Mother’s Days, Christmas and even St.Patrick’s Day are some of many family holidays and events made more memorable by the wonderful staff at the The Four Seasons.

For our anniversary we agreed, it had to be something special and our 4 year old granddaughter needed to be with us. We also wanted a “stay-cation” in Chicago because we love to spend time enjoying the City that is so near and dear to us.

So it was natural for us to choose to stay at The Four Seasons …something for us and something for our granddaughter.

Jeff, “Welcome Home” Four Seasons Chicago

“Welcome home!”, Jeff said as he greeted us on our arrival.

It was so perfect that Jeff would meet us at the door. We have been met by him many times over the years. Even when we come to Chicago for the day, we stop to say hi to Jeff and ask about his family.

At check-in, we were greeted warmly and our granddaughter was treated to a small gift from the “toy chest” conveniently located at the front desk.

She was ecstatic!

We then made our way to our room in the sky…with a beautiful view of Oak Street Beach and Lake Michigan. Truly, one of my favorite corners of the city.

It is this view that is so spectacular when it is lit up at night and even more beautiful at sunrise!


“Room with a View”

After relaxing and enjoying lunch in our room…we were ready for “pizza making” with our granddaughter…so off we went to the Four Seasons kitchen…

Pizza Making with Chef Matt”

Thrilled is the word to describe our granddaughter when she met Chef Matt and the staff of the Four Seasons kitchen… donning apron and hat she went to work creating gourmet pizzas which were to be our appetizers at dinner later in the day.

“Afternoon Milk and Cookies”

After the “hard” work of pizza making she was treated to a delightfully refreshing chocolate milk shake which she made with the help of her “Papa” and fresh cookies which were waiting for her in our room…

“Happy Anniversary Grandma and Papa” from Four Seasons Chicago

My husband and I were greeted with chocolate covered strawberries and champagne from the Hotel staff along with some beautiful flowers from friends!

After our snacks, we headed out to the 900 Shops on Michigan Avenue.

Conveniently, the hotel directly accesses one of the premier shopping areas in the country. Our first stop was Galt Toys…a favorite for unique children’s items…a definite “don’t miss” on my trips to Chicago.

Then it was time for an early dinner at Allium. This was our first time dining there. For appetizers we enjoyed our granddaughter’s pizza….they were delicious as was the rest of our dinner.

The “Pappardelle & Chicken Thighs” was my entree choice, my husband feasted on the “Wisconsin Walleye”…just superb!

Pizza Appetizer compliments of our Granddaughter

A surprise Anniversary dessert arrived to  complete our delicious dining experience!

A beautiful Anniversary dessert!

Hello …Ice Cream Man!

Then it was time to retire to our room ….where our granddaughter was surprised by a visit from the Ice Cream Man.

After a bedtime sundae…it was good night to all of us!


Early morning quiet time on the window seat!

Sunday sunrise did not disappoint!

Our little one was enjoying a relaxing moment on the window seat while we enjoyed an early breakfast in our room.

At quick trip to LEGO Water Tower Chicago!

These days a trip to Chicago is never complete without a visit to LEGO in Water Tower Place!

A quiet lunch before heading home!

After Water Tower Place we sat down for a quiet lunch at Allium before leaving to return home.

Since we were also running a little late…our server, noticing we were concerned, arranged for us to have a later check-out so we could relax a little bit longer and enjoy our meal.

After lunch it was time to leave…

Good bye and Thank you…Four Seasons Chicago!

Our weekend was wonderful…The Four Seasons made our stay so memorable. We left with smiles and stories to tell … this being one of them!


I was not compensated for this review. We were given a special rate on our accommodations. All opinions, as always, are my own.

Fourth of July…and the Kid in Me!

July 2, 2012 by lorettelavine | Edit

Macy’s Fourth of July NYC

Hi…Happy Summer!

I have been looking around for activities to celebrate the Fourth of July, preschool style.

My search has yielded many neat things you can do with your child or in my case grandchild in preparation for the Fourth of July.

My favorite find, so far, is from Toddler Approved. It is beckoning the child in me to the arts and crafts store.

In the spirit of George Washington…I cannot tell a lie. This week, along with the many recollections of past Fourth of July celebrations, is one of my favorite weeks of the summer

Celebrating July 4th always brings with it a flood of memories …and thankfully creates many new ones as well.

Some of my past reminiscences include…

sparklers (back in the day) when fireworks were sold fairly freely,

Macy’s spectacular fireworks on the Hudson River,

1976 the year of the Bicentennial Tall Ships in the New York harbor.

Lower Manhattan-Fourth of July 1976,

The Fourth, Chicago style with a village parade followed by an evening picnic and Lakefront fireworks with a group of close friends.


Chicago Fireworks

This year will again be a celebration with friends culminating in a beautiful fireworks display in our own neighborhood

As Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever plays and the “bombs” burst in the air over head, I will be smiling and remembering  past celebrations while enjoying the sparkle in the eyes of my granddaughter as she watches her first fireworks.

Memories in the making…

What are some of your favorite Fourth of July memories?

How are you celebrating this year…any fun kids activities?


The Little Boy…that Stole My Heart!

Leukemia is the #1 cause of death by disease in children, and, although commonly thought of as a childhood disease, is diagnosed ten times more often in adults.

via Jim Gibbons 5K.

As you know, I live in Chicago (area) and every year at this time there is a race that benefits Leukemia research in honor of Jim Gibbons, a beloved ABC news reporter here in the city of “Big Shoulders”. He died of leukemia in the prime of his life.

This year, I was amazed when I listened to the race reports and learned that leukemia is still the # 1 cause of death by disease of children.

As the news reports echoed in the background…

a sudden a flood of memories came flowing through my head. I was a student nurse at NYU…it was my very first pediatric patient .

His name was Jeffrey, he was four years old, with a beautiful head of dark hair and the most captivating smile … he had AML…leukemia. The year was 1971 at Mt. Sinai Hospital in NYC.

He had been in the hospital for quite awhile, his mother and father stayed with him most of the time.

as I remember…he had his own little room with his very own gum ball machine.

Weekly for a whole semester I took care of him, bone marrow tests, blood draws, chemotherapy and losing his precious hair. He wore a Yankees baseball hat when he went out for a walk through Central Park with his mother or grandmother.

Another student colleague of mine was also assigned to him. Between us we gave him as much love and attention as we could and we supported each other knowing that his prognosis was grave.

In class one morning, my friend Rosemary told me she had been working the night before, when Jeffrey died…

four years old, he had spent almost 1/4 of his life at Mt. Sinai Hospital and lost his battle with leukemia. It was my first blow with the death as a nurse.

I cried for his mother, father and little sister and I cried for myself…

we could not save this precious little boy from this horrible disease.

His mother sent me a gracious note…I cherished it for a long time, with it she sent along a key chain…

a remembrance of Jeff…he had unlocked a part of my heart as a young nursing student…

I still have that key chain and it has been constantly in use over many years and many moves. It hangs on a hook in my home with the key to my house, my heart and the memories of a little boy, who would be around 45 years old today …if we could have saved his precious life.

His mother had another little boy, I learned from my friend Rosemary…

I wonder how life turned out for them…I wonder if Jeff’s mother knew how much I loved her little boy with the bald head, the Yankees hat and the beautiful smile…who stole my heart so many years ago.

Town Mouse and Country Mouse…Which one are you?


Recently, one of my tweets, was from a mom of three  who announced that NYC where she lives was in a way calmer than visiting her hometown in Northern California with her three young kids.

Now there were probably more reasons for this statement than I realized but I tried to understand what she meant through my own eyes and my own life experience as a mom and now a grandmother.

I grew up in a city of 300,000 just outside of NYC…sometimes it felt like just an extension of Manhattan and the Bronx… trains, buses, trolleys, subways, we walked to the grocery store or had groceries delivered…we walked to school and church…we walked and played in parks, visited a museum within walking distance of our apartment which also, to our delight, had a planetarium.  Although we had a car…we only had to use it to actually leave the city to visit relatives in the country.

We were apartment dwellers…2 bedrooms with a view of the Hudson River and the Palisade Mountains…we shared bedrooms and had a postage stamp of a kitchen out of which came all our meals…never take-out… there was one tiny bathroom, a living room and dinette.

Life was simple…clutter was a minimum…saving stuff was impossible…closets were shared so we had what we needed but not too much more. Food was bought every day…storage was limited.

After 30 years in New York with a four year college stay in Washington, D.C.…I moved with husband and my own family to the “country”. I had never ever lived in a house…what was a washing machine that was not coin-operated…where was the garbage chute? More importantly, where or where was the handyman when I needed one if not on the other end of the phone or an elevator ride away? Life was SO different…

Life in the suburbs or country with kids entails a myriad of stuff, more than a stroller…which in the city sometimes doubled as a laundry and grocery cart. Now we had cars…with car seats and loads of trunk space to fill with groceries and loads of kitchen space to store all the extras bought at the bountiful super giant food store….we had Walmart and now Costco…oh… but now after many years in the burbs our house now resembles Costco as we have filled every crevice, closet and corner with large sizes of everything.

Yes, I mean everything we could possibly need… only not to be able to find it when we do finally need it.

When our kids were young they slept in our bedroom many nights…I guess it was kind of like co-sleeping, back in the day. They usually made their way to the floor of our room with their pillows and blankets due to bad dreams or thunder storms. We could have saved a lot of money if we had only known that a two bedroom apartment was all we really needed back then.

Of course in the burbs it was impossible to walk anywhere…we drove our girls to school and everywhere else…no public transportation for them even if it was available…not even a school bus. After all no one else walked anywhere.

I think you can get the picture…country mice with a home filled with stuff, who forgot how to walk anywhere, bikes, scooters, and their own cars to drive to school when they got old enough. Suburban spoiled…

Often, I longed for a more simple life…less space to lose stuff … windows that had a cityscape view…people walking, horns honking, public transportation, cabs, little restaurants around the corner, small grocers where I would not be tempted to buy things I did not need and where nothing was so huge I could not carry it home.

For my kids…I longed for them to be able to walk to places like museums, stores, even to school if possible. As young children I would have enjoyed the city parks with them… I longed for Central Park… which was my idea of country in the middle of one of the best cities in the world.

Now, I long for a much smaller park like the one off of Lake Shore Drive a short walk from Water Tower in Chicago and the Oak St. Beach. I long to share my city life love with my granddaughter.

In my own way, I understand what my Twitter mom was tweeting…when she essentially said her NY city life was more calm than her week in the suburbs with her kids.

This City Mouse will hopefully return to city dwelling sooner than later…a little  lot older and wiser than she was when she was last an urbanite with much less stuff than she had as a suburbanite.

In the meantime…these stories come to mind.

via The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

In the original tale, a proud town mouse visits a friend or relation in the country. The country mouse offers the city mouse a meal of simple country foods, at which the visitor scoffs and invites the country mouse back to the city for a taste of the “fine life”. But their rich city meal is interrupted by a couple of dogs which force the mice to abandon their feast and scurry to safety. After this, the country mouse decides to return home, preferring security to plenty or, as the 13th-century preacher Odo of Cheriton phrased it, “Id rather gnaw a bean than be gnawed by continual fear”.[2]

Beatrix Potter retold the story in The Tale of Johnny Town-Mouse (1918). In this she inverted the order of the visits, with the country mouse going to the city first, being frightened by a cat and disliking the food. Returning the visit later, the town mouse is frightened of the rain, the lawnmower and the danger of being stepped on by cows. The story concludes with the reflection that tastes differ. A segment from the tale was incorporated into the children’s ballet film The Tales of Beatrix Potter, danced by the Royal Ballet with choreography by Frederick Ashton (1971). The ballet was subsequently performed onstage in 1992 and 2007.

Are you a country or city mouse?

If you have children, where do you want to live and raise them?  Why?

Week in Review…Parenting in the Loop

Highlights of the week…sharing some of the videos and reads of the last few days.

Please enjoy this beautiful time-lapse video!

Exclusive breast-feeding may just be too hard, study says:

Progesterone…questionsl and answers.

It was a great week here in Chicago with weather that was over the top….I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Best Children’s Boutiques


This weekend may be somewhat sunny in Chicago.

So it will be a perfect time for some strolling and shopping with your kids. Here is a list of children’s boutiques where you can find some ‘hot’ items for summer.

So take a stroll and take a peek at the latest fashions for your children.

“The only time we’re not worried about clothes getting spilled on, torn, outgrown, or just plain ruined is the one time we actually should be concerned. The overwhelming cuteness and general adorable squishiness of clothing for babies and children can make us forget all practical sense. Kick your shopping cravings into high gear and behave like a kid in a couture store. We picked our favorite Chicago children’s boutiques, and we’re letting you know what to score once you’re there. From organic onesies to toddler-friendly Fendi, these shops carry our teeny-tiny, style-savvy favorites.

via Chicago’s Best Children’s Boutiques.