Make MLK Day More Than Just A Day Off Of Work

Make MLK Day More Than Just A Day Off Of Work


Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is:
What Are You Doing For Others?

Monday, January 21, 2013 is a Federal holiday and marks the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday.  Not so shockingly, both my husband and daughter are off of work and school.  This may come as a surprise to both of them, but we are not spending this day in the same way we spent their winter breaks: sleeping in, playing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” for who has to clean up the dog-poop in the backyard and playing video games. This year, we are going to do something meaningful with the day and serve our community.

According to The Corporations for National and Community Service and The King Center, “People of all ages, backgrounds and abilities are encouraged to serve on King Day, and to make the day the beginning of an ongoing commitment to a cause that is meaningful to them and address a need in their communities.”

Since the title of this blog is “A WINDY CITY MOMMA” I thought that I would come up with a good list of things to do in the Chicagoland area where we might find some of our friends volunteering their time too.

In Highland Park, IL: The Multi-Generational Celebration at the Highland Park Recreation Center from 10 am to 1 pm.  (1207 Park Ave West Highland Park IL.) The Highland Park event will feature the following activities & opportunities:

  1. Aaron Freeman, radio commentator, comedian, and author will be giving his comedic twist to MLK’s Dream from 10:30-11:15
  2.  Edgewood Middle School Chorus will sing songs of freedom – 10:00am-10:30am
  3. Decorate a canvas tote bag and donate a gently used picture book or easy reader to place inside. The book bags will be given to the North Shore Health Clinic for distribution to their young patients
  4. Assemble toiletries for local shelters
  5. Decorate squares for Project Linus quilts going to hospitalized children
  6. Color flowers and make flower pots for Highland Park Hospital
  7. Write letters to soldiers and children of the military (Hero Packs)
  8. Braeside PTO: Make Valentine’s for soldiers (Operation Support Our Troops)
  9. Reach for Change: Color paper dolls to raise awareness about the devastation that has occurred because of the Genocide in Darfur and throughout Africa
  10. Nurture: A non-profit dedicated to improving the nutrition and health of limited resource families. Participants will help scoop non-perishable soup ingredients into bags which they will label and include recipes for the Moraine Twp. Food Bank.
  11. North Shore Health Clinic will have information on their services and offer Blood Sugar screenings
  12. Heller Nature Center will make garland wreaths
  13. Highwood Fire Dept. will provide Fire Safety coloring books & CPR demonstrations
  14. Puppy Mill Project: Make flannel dog toys to donate to Tails of Hope—a no kill shelter.

And several other activities including story reading, decorating flip flops for youth in India and an activity by the Rotary Club of Highland Park & Highwood. Truly, there is something for everyone!

City of Chicago: This year, the City of Chicago is partnering with Jean De Lafayette Elementary School.  Over 500 volunteers from across the city will come together to transform and beautiful Lafayette with murals, painting, and construction projects.

Details for the following Chicago activities can also be found at the following site:

  • Cooking Matters Illinois Hosts A Shopping Matters Training Tour (3333 South Iron Street, Chicago, IL 60608 – January 19, 2013)  Continuing a tradition the First Family began four years ago, Inauguration weekend will begin with a National Day of Service on Saturday, January 19th that honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Volunteers across the country are organizing service events in all 50 states


If you are out and about in Chicago, here are some of the activities I found thanks to (*Note: Not all of the dates are 1/21.  Some of these activities occur over the weekend)

I am so excited for all of the activities occurring in honor of Dr. King!  Even though the weather might be frightfully cold this weekend, getting involved by volunteering your time and  learning about Dr. King’s legacy may hit the spot and at least warm your heart (if not your hands!)


Mom Said We Can Have A Sleepover!

Mom Said We Can Have A Sleepover!


In the annals of parenthood, there are mistakes and then there doozies! A small mistake might be forgetting to check your daughter’s backpack for the remains of the snack you gave her last week and then smelling the “science experiment” growing in the bottom of her bag.

A DOOZIE, on the other hand, might be allowing your 9 year-old to have a mid-week sleepover with her best friend on a school night.  Yup, in hindsight, that was a mistake.

“Mom said “We can have a sleepover!”

Should have taken longer to decide. Seriously.

Should have taken longer to decide. Seriously.

Lulu and her best friend, Daisy, have been begging me for weeks for a sleepover.  They’ve assured me they would behave and do their homework.  They would go to bed at a decent hour.  They would not make a mess in the house.  They would even clean up.

Yesterday was an early release day and I agreed to let the girls play at my house after school and then have the sleep over.  As soon as they arrived, true to their promise, the girls grabbed their homework folders and started what I assumed was ALL of their homework.  Two minutes later (yes, I timed it) the doorbell rang. Their friend, Ryan, a classmate, wanted to know if the girls could play.  I should have said “No.”  I should have responded: “The girls need to finish their homework and I NEED TO CHECK IT before they can play.”  But I didn’t.  I just let her in like a dummy. And the homework, of course, was quickly forgotten as Daisy, Ryan and Lulu took off for the park.  It wasn’t until they were out of sight that I remembered Lulu had Hebrew school.  What, exactly, was Daisy going to do while my daughter was at school?

You can imagine Lulu’s shock when I told her, at 4 o’clock, that she needed to wrap up their game and get ready for Hebrew School. At first Lulu’s response was one of indignation: “What?  You mean you are actually going to make me go to Hebrew School when I have a friend over?  That is so uncool Mom!”  Then she quickly hatched a plan and asked “Can Daisy come to Hebrew School with me?”

“Yes, you are going.” and “Uh, no she can’t.”

As if by magic, Lulu turned on the waterworks and screamed that I was the “WORST mother EVER!” Daisy was going to be SO bored hanging out with me!  What was she going to do for all that time? (hint: It’s a little show called H2O and it’s on Teen Nick.)

As we drove the mile plus to our synagogue, Lulu begged me to roll down the window so she could jump out.  “Even death,” she explained, “would be better than spending even one minute in Hebrew School!”  (She’s quite the drama queen when the moment lends itself, don’t you think?) Daisy did try to assure Lulu that it would be alright but Lulu wasn’t going to backdown and risk ruining a moment to express her great anguish and suffering. I practiced my deep breathing exercises, tried not to respond to the histrionics in the backseat of my car and imagined that I was on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a margarita in hand.

bora bora island

Internally, I scream “Serenity Now!” as I channel my desert island, Bora Bora

At precisely 5:30 p.m. we picked up Lulu.  Under her breath, and perhaps to ensure that I wouldn’t change my mind and send Daisy home, Lulu quickly apologized for her Oscar worthy performance. Once I accepted, she turned away from me and acted as if nothing had happened. (Typical pre-teen.)

The night progressed smoothly.  No homework was attempted but we did enjoy the Easy Bake Oven version of red velvet cake.  By 10:00 p.m. the girls were ready for bed and collapsed on the couch in our basement.  (They were far enough away that Adam and I wouldn’t be disturbed Perhaps having a sleepover mid-week wasn’t such a bad idea? WRONG!


What I didn’t know (and no one told me) was that Daisy had NOT finished her homework nor completed her assigned reading.  And this was an issue. Unlike Lulu, who could care less whether she finishes her homework or not, this child REALLY DOES CARE about getting her work done. Not doing her homework was keeping Daisy up (that, and, as I later learned, Lulu throwing Starbursts at her face.)  At 11:00 p.m. just as I was falling sleep, Daisy appeared at my bedside, stated that her stomach hurt and that she had not finished her homework.  In hindsight, this may have been a ploy to get away from the Starburst launching Lulu who I assumed (correctly) had eventually stopped hurling candy at her friend and had fallen asleep.  Nevertheless, I really was not sure what to do.  This NEVER happens with Lulu.  First of all, this kid was not going to do her homework in the middle of the night because I was not going to stay up with her! I debated calling her father to pick her up.  But, I didn’t want my husband to “told me so” in the morning by reminding me that it was a really bad idea to allow Lulu to have a sleepover.

So I sent Daisy to Lulu’s room, grabbed some books off of the bookshelf (Walter The Farting Dog, anyone?) for her and told her to read until she fell asleep. But that was not the end of Daisy’s nocturnal visits.  At 5:30 a.m. she woke me again to tell me that her stomach hurt. Is it bad to admit that I wanted to respond: “Yeah, well my head hurts from not getting enough sleep kid!  What do you want me to do about it?”  Note to Daisy’s parents if you are reading thisI DID NOT SAY THAT! I sent Daisy back to Lulu’s room and instructed her to get in bed and read “until I come to get you!”


At 7:00 am  Adam awoke me by asking for an apology “Yes, I am sorry.  You were right.  Having a sleepover mid-week was a HUGE mistake.”  I was EXHAUSTED!  Walking downstairs, I noticed that my once clean kitchen was now filled with Easy Bake baking materials, flour and (I assume) cake frosting was on the floor.   The dog was slowly licking the neon pink strawberry frosting off of the cabinetry.  There were dishes in the sink, homework scattered around my table and no semblance of order.

I got the sleepy girls out of bed. I discovered Lulu in the guest bedroom.  They refused to get dressed (despite my pleading and threats) until they had finished their conversation about 4th grade social politics. Once  they finally dressed in their seasonally inappropriate clothes (short sleeves when it’s 10 degrees outside?) and went upstairs to inhale breakfast, neither one of them thought to get their materials organized and ready for school.  So at 8:25, when I announced that lunches and snacks, homework and folders all needed to go into the backpacks, Daisy told me that she STILL had not finished her reading and had not finished her homework.  Her eyes filled up with tears when she realized that she would miss recess so she could finish her assignments until  I pointed out the upside of the situation: since she lost a mitten somewhere in my house, she would miss outdoor recess because she had to do her homework.  Homework definitely was a better alternative to frostbite.  At least she would have a reasonable excuse to not have to go out in the cold.

By 8:40 (a mere 5 minutes before the 2nd bell rang and the girls would be officially late for school) Lulu and Daisy were still jumping around the house trying to find their shoes, socks, jackets, boots, hats etc. Despite the fact that I had hung everything on hooks in the front closet the night before, Daisy insisted that she could not find her book bag: the bag in which she carried all of her library and pleasure reading.  It was in her viola case, of all places. Once I started yelling that they were now officially late for school and I would NEVER allow another child to sleep in my home on a week night, everything was magically found, put away, the girls bundled up and in the car screaming that “We are going to be late!  Gun it!” It was at that moment that Daisy announced, “You know, Renee, I am not the most organized person?  My dad has to really help me in the morning.”  No kidding.

It’s been two hours since I dropped the girls off at school.  The dishwasher, full of Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven cooking instruments, is running and I am falling asleep at my desk. I am trying to remember who’s idea was this?  I feel like I was the one who had the sleepover, not Lulu.

Was the sleepover a “rookie’s” mistake or the act of an overly optimistic mother trying to make her daughter happy?  After almost 10 years of parenting, I don’t think that I can be referred to as a rookie anymore.  So, I guess I’ll have to go with the optimistic (read: naïve) mother defense.  So I am guilty of making a REALLY bad and exhausting decision.  Even worse, my husband was right: Having a sleepover mid-week was a REALLY bad idea.

I HATE it when he’s right.  I really do.