Not to Beet a Dead Horse, But Beetween You and Me, Getting to the Root of the Problem is Unbeetable.

So, I schedule all of my physicals around my birthday. Happy birthday to me!  I recently had my physical with my GP and all was well. Woot woot! My next medical destination was my annual visit to my gynecologist. Good times, good times. I got up that morning and went to the bathroom and my urine was red. I thought to myself “Crap, I must have a bladder infection.  Good thing I have a doctor’s appointment today.”  So when I got to my doctor’s office I alerted him to the fact that I had a pigment issue with my urine, and he ordered a clean catch and a culture. Aside from the sanguine hue, I was asymptomatic.  Not typical, but whatever.  I opened up and said “Ahhh.” and then headed home.
beetWhen I got home I texted a friend of mine to tell her how much I enjoyed the baked beets I ate the night before.  She had suggested them as a veggie side. They were fabulous.  Per her instructions, I just wrapped them in foil and baked them for an hour in a 350 degree oven. When they were done, I peeled them, diced them, put a little salt on them and pigged out.  Aside from pickled beets, I never really tried them before.  Yum.  Anyway, her response to my text was “Did they turn your pee red?” I litterally laughed out loud (a guffaw really) at the sudden realization that the beets were the culprit with regard to what I perceived to be blood in my urine. I told her that, as a matter of fact, they did and my doctor was investigating. I called my doctor to explain, but the nurse I spoke with never heard of beeturia (yeah, there is a name for it).  So they went ahead and processed the lab anyway. The next day there was more evidence of the beetroot pigment, except it wasn’t in my urine if you know what I mean. Thank goodness my friend alerted me to the apparently little known side effect of beetroot consumption.  Had she not, I would have thought that I obviously had an internal bleed going on.  Had she not, I would have rushed myself to the ER.  Had she not I would have demanded an MRI of my abdomen at that point.  Had she not, panic would have certainly set in.  But all is well that ends well and we all got a really good laugh about it.    The homophone jokes and puns flowed for days.  I’m fine with being the butt of jokes.  If it makes people laugh, it makes me happy.

“Every Child is an Artist”

Ronnie and butterflyI am inspired by many things, my kids being one of them.  My kids are a huge inspiration for me. They inspire many things in me: how to be a better person, how to be patient, how to inspire others, to laugh like a kid again, and the list goes on.  My younger daughter, who is now eight, asked a question one day while pondering the absence of bugs during winter. That innocent, simple question inspired me to be creative in a way that I had never experienced before.  It was the impetus for what became a series of three children’s books that I wrote – my first books.  My goal was to make a book for my daughter as a gift. But the project grew and I began to solicit it to publishing companies. The lack of illustrations was problematic, however. I was hoping that an artist representative would see value in the text and align my work with a staff illustrator. Ideal situations rarely come to pass, however. I had twRonnie and Ando co-publishing offers. I was thrilled, but they wanted a complete project, which meant illustrations. I am not much of a visual artist. But my daughter, the one who conceptualized this whole project, is quite talented in that realm. Certainly I am biased, but her drawings and paintings are very charming in my opinion. And more importantly, she loves it! A friend suggested that we become a mother/daughter team. I chewed on that for a while as I had to separate Ronnie with butterfly and magnifying glassmyself from the vision I originally had. But once I wrapped my head around the idea, I went with it. My daughter and I have become a team now. She draws the main character, Ronnie Jean, and I draw the bugs. I then superimpose the drawings onto a realistic background. It is still in the experimental stages, but we are having a ball. As Pablo Picasso said “Every child is an artist.” With that being said, I can take pride in knowing that I have a very talented, true artist illustrating my books.

scary bug

Kids and Veggies

DSC_0736-1If you read my last post, you may have guessed that, for me, a meal must have a side of veggies. This is often a tough one with regard to kids.  My kids are pretty good… well my girls are anyway. My son is a problem when it comes to getting him to try vegetables. Heck, he is difficult with any food aside from eggs, pizza, liver sausage sandwiches or broccoli.  I realize that is quite a kaleidoscope of foods.  He may have a sundry palate, but he is finicky all the same.  Thank goodness there is a vegetable in his list of acceptable foods though.  All of my kids love broccoli. It was a chore to get them to try it initially, but once they sank their teeth into a succulent spear smothered with butter, they were hooked. Here is a little poem I wrote about that experience.  I also put my poor kids through a 5 minute broccoli themed photo shoot for kicks.  Why?  Why not?

More Broccoli Please

 It’s six o’clock, it’s dinner time

Time to come in from playing outside

Wash your hands and set the table please

But I’m so hungry, I really must eat

My tummy is growling and my knees are weak

What’s for dinner? It smells good to me

Ham and potatoes and cottage cheese

And something green that looks like a tree

Say it ain’t so, it just can’t be

Oh no it’s broccoli!


I’m not hungry, I can’t eat

I really don’t like it, it smells like feet

Where’s the dog, he usually begs

I guess he’d rather have dog food instead

There it sits on my plate

The only thing I haven’t ate

Just one bite, that’s all mom asks

Maybe if I chew it really fast

What if I smother it in lots of butter

Perhaps then it might not make me shudder

Into my mouth goes the little green tree

Mmm mmm more broccoli please!

DSC_0713-1 DSC_0688-1

A Side of Veggies

A healthy meal always comes with a side of veggies… or fruit as the case may be. Now let me clarify something here. What are commonly referred to as veggies are often times actually fruit. It is a common misnomer to refer to a tomato or an eggplant as a vegetable. You see, there are two definitions – the botanical definition which classifies these things scientifically and the culinary definition which erroneously inflates the breadth of this food grouping. Not that it matters really. But let me provide a brief explanation. Botanically speaking, anything that develops from a flower and has seeds is a fruit whereas vegetables are roots, leaves and/or stems of a plant. So squash, peppers, tomatoes, beans and cucumbers are technically fruit. In culinary terms, however, fruits and vegetables are defined by their flavor: vegetables are typically savory while fruits are typically sweet. With that being said, I will stick with the culinary definition in order to avoid confusion and because it goes along with the theme here. This is a food post after all, not Botany 101.

A meal, to me, just doesn’t seem complete without a serving of vegetables. Now I’m not counting French fries or onion rings as vegetable sides, although I know some people who do. Don’t get me wrong, I love fries and rings, but I don’t come out of that experience feeling healthier. On the contrary. I feel bloated, greasy and guilty. For me, a side of veggies is usually steamed and it often looks as it did when it was harvested. A little salt and a little butter is all I need… and sometimes a bit of shaved Asiago. Yum! Vegetables add color to a meal and they abound with nutrients. It completes the meal.

I grew up this way. My mother always served a side of veggies regardless of the main course. She is all about veggies. Her personal pizzas are a veritable salad – it’s as if she dragged them through the garden. They are loaded with peppers, onions, broccoli, mushrooms, spinach and artichokes. An added benefit of such a pizza is that all of that fiber is sure to counteract the effects the cheese is sure to have on your bowels (insert a snicker and a wink here;). And my mom’s salads look like the horn of plenty: a bountiful mountain of fruits and veggies and nuts. At parties her contribution has always been a vegetable tray full of fresh broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, peppers and green onions that we dip into a delightful dill/ranch dip. To this day, we request that she brings her veggie tray and dip to all of our occasions. It is all about veggies with her.

My mom cooked meals every night, and good ones at that. But there were times when busy got the best of us and she would throw something together that was quick and easy. Tuna casserole was a staple for us when busy got the best of us, but we could rest assured that there would be a side of asparagus or broccoli next to what was essentially a fishy mound of mac-n-cheese. My mom’s veggies were usually steamed, but she was a crackerjack creamer. She could cream anything: potatoes, corn, peas, tomatoes, spinach, etc. Creamed spinach was, and still is, my favorite, but her creamed tomatoes served over biscuits is a close second. Us kids always ate our veggies. I don’t recall my mom ever having to harangue us to eat our vegetables. We just did. I can’t really credit that to the notion that we ate them and liked them simply because we were raised eating vegetables. We were raised eating meat as well, but I can vividly remember chewing on the same piece of meat in utter disgust for a half hour after the table was cleared and then finally washing it down with a gulp of tepid milk. Thankfully, I have since outgrown my aversion to textures and most meats.

So if I inherited my propensity to eat and serve vegetables with every meal from my mother, then where did she get it? From her mother, of course. Not only was my grandmother a wonderful cook, but she was a green thumbed gardener as well. Practically her entire back yard was a vegetable garden. She also grew plenty of fruits as well. What’s more is she had an old musty cellar where she canned, jarred and pickled. Anytime we would visit, my siblings and cousins and I would challenge each other to a harvest. We would bombard my grandmother in the kitchen and vie for the biggest piece of Tupperware and then head out into her garden and pick anything and everything that was ripe or nearly ripe. Once her garden was picked clean, we would meet in the cellar and boast about picking the most. We were sweaty and excited and dirty and all of our fingers were stained with raspberry or blackberry juice. It was rare that the berries we picked ever made it to the cellar. Yum! Surely my grandmother intentionally slacked off and abandoned her gardening chores days before we would arrive because that first day harvest was always so incredibly bountiful. The grand prize always went to the kid who picked the fruit or vegetable that grandma prepared and served with dinner that first night. And by grand prize I simply mean the license to gloat while the others sneered and gave the winner the stink eye. Ah, good times – great memories.

So, like most time-honored traditions, what I deem as a complete and acceptable meal is an ideal that has been passed on from one generation to next. And aside from the nostalgia, one of the most valuable aspects of this tradition is the tendency to cook with fresh fruits and vegetables. I will use frozen vegetables now and again, but I rarely use canned and frequently use fresh. I also tend to shy away from convenience foods – unless busy gets the best of me, which it tends to do now and then. But overall I tend to cook like my mother who cooks like her mother who cooked like her mother…. It tastes better, it looks better and it is better for you. Thanks mom. Thanks grandma.

Breaking and Entering

Dear family,
I assume none of you are responsible for this of course. But whoever the ”not me” guilty party is, I must tell u that I just don’t get it. There is clearly a ziploc on this bag. I must assume that you had to be ravenously hungry and desperate for lunch meatsustenance to have to tear through the middle of the bag for your piece of spiced ham. I will try to feed you more often. Perhaps I should also have you watch an instructional video on how to properly access the contents of a ziploc bag. I’m sorry for being so negligent in caring for you – allowing you to go hungry. I also apologize for not providing you with a sense of common sense.
Love Always, mom (or wife as the case may be;)

Gnocchi – with Spinach and Mushrooms and Pine Nuts – Oh MY!

DSC_0634-2Lent gave me the opportunity to cook one of my favorite vegetarian meals last night.  This is one of our favorites.  I would love to take credit for this recipe, but I can only lay claim to streamlining it.  A friend of mine had me over for dinner some time ago.  She put together this dish and I couldn’t get enough.  About a month later, I asked her for the recipe.  She didn’t even remember what she served let alone how to make it.  I reminded her that it was a gnocchi with spinach and mushrooms.  A light bulb went off in her head, although it was a dim one.  She is one of those people who can whip something together in the kitchen on a whim without a recipe nor a plan.  It all just seems to come together for her and theDSC_0639-2 outcome is wonderfully delicious.  She had to think about it for a bit but she eventually formulated a recipe for me and I went with it.  She did things in several steps, so I consolidated the process a bit.  I am always in a rush it seems, so I didn’t have time for the extra steps.  I also added some sort of Italian cheese to mine.  For me, everything is better with a bit of cheese.  Other than that, I didn’t stray too far from the original.   Here goes:

What you need:

  • 4 cloves of garlic (or more if you really want to be sure to ward off vampires)
  • about 9-10 oz of fresh spinach (I wonder if Kale would work too)
  • 16 oz of mushrooms sliced or cut into wedges  (I use plain ole button, but I imagine portabella would be nice)
  • a heaping 1/2 tsp of ground thyme (or fresh if you have it, you’ll have to google the measurement  conversion)
  • 4 shallots sliced
  • pine nuts toasted
  • two packages of your favorite gnocchi
  • some of your favorite Italian cheese, shredded (I like the three cheese combo)
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

What you do:

  • toast the pine nuts (I do this on the stove top in a cast iron skillet on low heat)
  • saute the garlic and shallots until fragrant (do this slowly so they don’t brown)
  • add the mushrooms and spinach and saute until spinach is wilted and mushrooms are of desired tenderness
  • add thyme and desired amount of cheese and then simmer for a few minutes
  • add salt and pepper to taste
  • cook gnocchi according to package directions (don’t overcook gnocchi because it gets soggy and those with texture issues may opt out)
  • drain gnocchi and put it in a pasta bowl and drizzle it with a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together
  • dump the spinach and mushroom mixture over gnocchi
  • add pine nuts to gnocchi (this frugal fauz-gormet has been omitting pine nuts lately because they have been so freaking expensive and  I’ve substituted sunflower meats for them instead which is good, but pine nuts rock this dish truth be told)
  • serve with a salad and some fancy, dancy Italian bread and voila!  (I know that is french, but whatever;)

I hope you enjoy this as much as my family does.  My daughter actually had leftovers for breakfast this morning.  Yum!

Ode to Old Man Winter

DSC_855I love the change of seasons. Each one has its charm. But this year winter is wearing me out for sure. It’s been a bit extreme.  My longing for spring has emphasized my disdain for winter, so yesterday on my lunch break, I took this inspiration and I wrote a poem to Old Man Winter. It is silly. Don’t judge.  I am not boasting a work of art or a fantastic literary work.  It was my lunch hour endeavor after all.  But it really says it all with regard to my yearning for spring at this point.

Ode to Old Man Winter

My dear old man winter

You have put on quite a show

You have blanketed the landscape

With a glistening few feet of snow

 You have given us a white Christmas

A fine powder upon which to ski

We went sledding and made snowmen

We even cheered on a musher mushing his team

 We sculpted frozen pants

On one of your sub-zero days

And hiked through the forest

During your 20 degree heat wave

We sipped on hot chocolate

And we reminisced by the fire

We made soups and stews for dinner

And painted portraits on the frosted slider

So thank you for this winter wonderland

You’ve been generous to say the least

I expect that you’ll be leaving soon

To embark on your northerly retreat

I can’t say that I’ll miss you

You’ve lingered far too long

I don’t mean any offense you see

But here, no longer do you belong

To be honest you really over stayed

And left a terrible mess in your wake

You’ve chapped my lips and cracked my hands

And my joints, they sure do ache

My feet are cold despite socks of wool

And with you we’re susceptible to colds and flu

I can start a car with the static in my hair

Short days, cabin fever,  I want to hibernate like a bear

 The pot holes are ridiculous

You are tearing up the streets

And snow days will keep my kids in school

Through mid-June, and that sucks if you ask me

I’m tired of being cooped up

My body craves the natural D

I want to feel the sunshine on my face

And smell the scent of spring that hangs on a breeze

My dear old man winter

Will you please take a hint

I don’t want to be rude

But my opinion of you has grown grim

Please excuse yourself at once

And let your sister, Spring, advance

Take your baggage with you please

And don’t forget to kiss my ass

“After You.” said the Car to the Pedestrian

I am going to create a new category called “common decency.”  What will be included in this category are little snippets regarding actions that I’ve observed that are not in line with common decency, common sense, common courtesy and good manners.  Things get away from all of us at times.  We are busy.  Our minds are cluttered and racing.  We zone out to escape whatever stress we are experiencing.  Or we are oblivious because we are preoccupied.  When I point these things out, I am not insinuating the culprits are unlikable characters.  Heck, I’m guilty of these things from time to time too and I think I’m kind of likable.  Well, at least that is what my mom says.  But the fact of the matter is, we all need a little reminding from time to time.  That’s what I’m here for.  And you’re welcome.  These little posts will be good reminders for me as well.

So, I was in a parking lot at a grocery store.  The weather was inclement.  It was cold.  It was blowing.  And it was wet.  I was nice and warm in my car.  I was in a parking spot dreading the moment when I had to open the door and exit.  Brrr.  Here comes a really bad hair day.  As I’m sitting there I am watching people scurry through the parking lot either to take cover in their cars or to find refuge in the store.  I see an older couple and a woman heading toward the store with obvious haste.  When they get to the thoroughfare that passes in front of the store there are several cars passing by.  A line of 5 to be exact.  They are not driving with purpose.  They are at a crawl.  Of course I am not suggesting they speed through the lot.  But their pace left one pondering “Are you going to stop or go?”  This couple and the woman start to cross the road.  They are obviously cold.  Their clothes and hair are blowing about.  The man is supporting his other half because the pavement is likely slippery.  The first car rolls slowly in front of them.  They wait.  They inch forward and the second car rolls by.  They seemingly make eye contact with the driver of the third car presumably with an expression that pleads for safe and expedient passage across the road.  But alas, the third car rolls by in front of them.  The woman separates herself from the couple and tries to walk behind the fourth car, but the fifth car picks up its pace and cuts her off.  Both the fourth and fifth car pass slowly in front of the couple.  Finally, the train of cars and its crew of inconsiderate, or perhaps oblivious, operators, is no longer an obstacle for these people and they trot on into the store.  It was not unlike a game of Frogger from my point of view.  I was really hankering for a joystick so that I could help these  people out.

Moral of the story: If you are in your car all warm and cozy and protected from the elements and you see someone who is vulnerable and exposed to the elements and you come to a crossroads where one or the other must pass, then allow the vulnerable pedestrian to pass before you.  It’s just the right thing to do.  Be kind to one another, will ya?

Bowties and Vodka Sauce

The Lenten season is upon us.  That means no meat on Fridays.  Of course fish isn’t a meat.  What????  That never really made sense to me to be honest.  To me, it’s an animal and therefore it is meat.  Nevertheless, the ever popular “Friday night fish fry” is a “go to” during Lent for most Catholics on “no meat Fridays.”  So I just go with it.  I’ve been just going with it regarding Catholicism since I got married.  But, I am NOT formally a Catholic.  Uh oh, I sense a tangent coming on.  I’ll keep it short;)  I don’t mean any disrespect with regard to Catholicism, but it is just not for me for a number of reasons.  But since this is a post for a recipe and not a religious commentary, I will save my blather for another time.  Suffice it to say that I just don’t feel at home on Sunday mornings as I sit in the pews.  Shhhh, don’t tell – but I am exploring a once a month Sunday morning diversion that would allow me to reconnect with my faith.  I’ll be sure to report on that when it happens.

DSC_0611-2Let’s get back on track here… So going forward, our Friday night meals will be meatless.  I love vegetarian food so this is a treat for me.  I like to eat it and I love to prepare it.  I love all of those fake meats and tofu.  My best friend is vegetarian and my sister-in-law and brother-in-law are as well.  I get excited when they allow me to cook for them.  I will likely post a few recipes during this Lenten season as I have a few favorites that even my kids will eat.  Yay!  We started it off with a pasta sauce last night.  It was a request from my daughter.  Yay!

This recipe didn’t originate with me.  I am not sure where it originated to be honest.  But I got it from my neighbor.  I love exchanging recipes that have trustworthy references.  She has given me quite a few proven winners.  Anyway, I’ve been making this for my family for a couple of years now.  I tweaked it a bit to satisfy certain palates in my family: sausage for my husband and oldest daughter, mushrooms for me, asiago for me, crushed red pepper for those of us who crave a little punishment to clear our conscience… or our sinuses.  And it works!  So here it is:

What You Need

  • Italian sausage links (we use spicy hot, but we don’t use it at all for Lent)
  • olive oil
  • lots of garlic (I use about 5 cloves which makes me very kissable;)
  • two medium onions
  • 1 cup of mushrooms (chopped so the kiddies don’t notice them;)
  • 1/2 cup of vodka
  • three 14ox cans of stewed Italian tomatoes (chopped) or diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • red pepper flakes

What You Do

  • sear the sausage links in a frying pan until they are golden brown for the most part
  • add about 2 inches of water to the sausage, cover and simmer for a long freakin’ time (you want them to be “melt in your mouth” tender – and monitor the water so it doesn’t completely burn off – you are essentially steaming the links… sort of – you can test them by cutting the end off of one)
  • meanwhile dice the onions and the mushrooms
  • saute the onions and the mushrooms (give the onions a little bit of a head start)
  • add the garlic and continue to saute until the garlic is fragrant
  • add the vodka
  • add the undrained tomatoes
  • add about 1 tsp of Kosher salt
  • add pepper to taste
  • allow this mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes
  • in the meantime bias slice the cooked sausage links (bias sliced simply to make it seem like mom did something fancy with dinner)
  • add the cream to the simmering mixture
  • add your preferred amount of bias sliced sausage
  • add about 1/4 cup of shredded asiago cheese and allow it to melt
  • serve over pasta (my kids always think bowties taste the best with vodka sauce though I like a more textured pasta that the sauce will cling to)
  • you can add the red pepper flakes at the table if you don’t think your diners will appreciate the zip

So there it is.  I served it with a side of steamed asparagus (my kids will actually eat it because it is funny when you pee after consuming it) and garlic bread.  As I’ve said on other recipe posts as sort of a disclaimer, I don’t claim to be a chef, a baker, or a culinary artist of any sort; although sometimes I feel like a short-order cook.  I am just a mom who usually enjoys making meals for her family, especially when they eat it like gluttonous swine… and I mean that affectionately.  I love it when my family loves what I cook.  It makes the chore incredibly rewarding.  Enjoy!

…because it was the right thing to do.

We all have our passions.  We all have our causes.  I certainly have mine.  They are important to me simply because I deem them to be fair and just, relevant to the greater good or critical for our general well-being.   The environment.  Gay marriage.  Education.  Human rights.  Cancer.  Hunger.  Corporate loopholes and corporate political influence and corporate greed.  The list goes on.   I love to discuss these issues with other people who share my passions.  I also love to debate these issues with people who don’t necessarily agree with my positions.  I consider those situations opportunities to open my mind, see the other side and maybe even open somebody else’s mind.

I have recently become acquainted with and  I know they’ve been around for a while.  But I am just now beginning to emerge from my mom cocoon and I am discovering new things and rediscovering those things that I left simmering on the back burner while I raised my babies.  It started slowly.  I simply began by signing a petition here and there.  The petitions covered issues that were important to me of course.  These websites make it incredibly easy to support such campaigns.  They empower people to create change and they facilitate the entire process.  They also make it easy to contact government officials.  It is as simple as clicking a button and typing your email address.

When you support a campaign, you will surely receive updates regarding its progress.  I received a few emails announcing defeat.  But I received more emails that touted progress and some that even declared victory.  It was inspiring to see the successes, not only in the victories, but in the increased awareness that these campaigns promote.  Evidence of this can be found in the number of supporters, the imbedded links to news reports, etc.  It didn’t take me long to realize that we all have a voice and our voices can and will be heard, especially when we speak up in concert.

So I’ve been  plugging along with all of my causes.  I don’t have enough disposable income to throw money at the causes I support, so I go this route.  I am doing what I can.  Then at the beginning of this year something happened close to home.  My son’s preschool teacher was let go.  She wasn’t let go because of her performance at work.  She wasn’t let go because someone didn’t like her.  She was let go due to unfortunate circumstances.  Long story short (yeah, right), she worked for an unlicensed preschool.  They were thought to be exempt from licensing because they were affiliated with a government agency – the park district.  But in reality, very few centers met the exemption criteria and apparently the park district was not one of them.  If they are classified as a day care center, then they must have licensing.  The administrative code defines day care centers in a broad sense, so many preschools fall into that category.  The Department of Children and Family Services does not routinely seek out those unlicensed centers in order to secure licensing.  Instead, they wait for them to take the initiative to apply for it or they wait for someone to blow the whistle or lodge a complaint.  That is what happened here.

About two years ago, an anonymous person alerted DCFS that the park district preschool was not licensed and that prompted an inquiry.  This complaint was not regarding any operational procedures nor was it concerned with the care of any particular child nor was it directed at any particular staff member.  It was seemingly an arbitrary, generalized complaint strictly about the status of their license; or lack thereof.  Why?  We may never know.  But unfortunately the inquiry led to an evaluation of staff credentials and because my son’s teacher had been educated in Germany, her credentials fell under harsh scrutiny.  A third party evaluator was charged with translating her transcripts and he determined that she was not qualified.  DCFS was notified and they in turn notified the park district and advised them that my son’s teacher was no longer eligible to teach the class that she had been teaching for the past four months.  She had taught at the preschool for eight years by this time and had been a director of a Kindergarten in Germany for twenty years.  But that is all irrelevant apparently.

None of us parents agreed with the outcome of this inquiry.  At first there was a lot of confusion as to what had transpired.  So I decided to initiate a campaign for her reinstatement… or at least some answers.  I started my first petition.  I wasn’t sure who my decision makers were.  It just wasn’t clear to me.  So I  petitioned local state representatives, the park district administration and DCFS.  I composed the petition and then used social networks such as Facebook and my email contact list to circulate it.  The response for such a local issue was amazing.  We quickly gained almost 400 supporters.  I delivered the petition and the comments made by supporters to my decision makers.  That  prompted a great deal of dialogue among parents and representatives from DCFS and a local senator’s office.  We at least raised awareness.

But yesterday I had to concede.  The letter of the law trumped the spirit of the law, and with a heavy heart and a great deal of regret I had to admit defeat.  But it was not a total loss.  My son’s teacher surely felt the love and support that she had.  We were able to raise awareness of the flaws in a system that does not account for experience nor merit.  I brought into question the literal translation of foreign academic transcripts as they are compared to the ones here in the U.S.  And most importantly, we have the hope that our campaign, in conjunction with a similar campaign that took place at the same time downstate, will influence our politicians and state agencies to introduce legislation that will call for exemptions for park district and YMCA preschools by not classifying them as day care centers.   This possibility was implied in a conversation I had with a high ranking official with DCFS.  Now we can only hope.

I am thankful for the encouragement and support I received from park district staff and the long list of parents who signed on to this cause.  Though we didn’t achieve the outcome we had hoped for, we did achieve a measure of success as stated above.  The simple fact that my son’s teacher is a wonderful person and an exceptional teacher made the time and effort I put into this worthwhile.  And even though we didn’t win, our voices were in fact heard.  I encourage everyone to stand up for what they believe in.  Put in the time and effort simply because it is the right thing to do.


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