Monday, October 29, 2007

New U of C obstetrics chief

I recently informed the Parent Support Network listserv that The University of Chicago Hospital hired a new chief of obstetrics, Dr. Helen Kay.
I am touched by all of the passionate responses from people who are concerned about obstetrics at the University of Chicago hospital and would like to meet with the Dr. Kay.
A few ideas have come up before we set up such a meeting:
-find out Dr. Kay's stance on "natural childbirth" and midwifery.

-conduct an informal survey on the Parent Support Network listserv (the Student Parent listserv manager would NOT send out my original posting, though I think that demographic is important to include). I think this would be helpful so we are armed with statistics & information rather than gossip.
The survey would ask simple questions such as:
Have you given birth in the last 5 years? If so where?
Are you currently pregnant? If so, where do you plan on giving birth?
If you live in the neighborhood and did NOT chose the University of Chicago, please tell why?
If the University of Chicago Hospital supported natural childbirth and/or housed a nurse/midwife practice would you consider it?

-set up a small meeting with Dr. Kay.

-set up a town-meeting with the Dr. Kay.

Four years ago, I was involved in the activism opposing the closing of the practice. It didn't work. If anyone has experience with this kind of thing, I would welcome all kinds of input.

My six-year-old was delivered by the midwives at the U of C. My four-year-old was born at home)

Monday, September 10, 2007

We bike all around the neighborhood with our kids for school transportation + commuting to work. When we bike with our kids we do ride on the sidewalks. A common rule is to alert pedestrians with a "Passing on your left!" warning.
Driving is a big headache. Especially because parking is really hard around here (especially if you work at the U of C.) Anyway distances aren't that big to warrant driving.
For preschool age children, I highly recommend a trailer. I had a child's seat on a bike for a while. I found it a bit shaky. Maybe it was installed wrong but it fell off twice (without a child). With a child's seat you want a "women's" because their weight can make the bike wabble a lot. With a trailer, you can protect the child from the cold and ride throughout the year with proper winter clothing and cary school bags + groceries. Burley is the top of the line & the cost reflects that. Trek seems sturdy.
We just got a tagalong for out almost-4-year-old and he loves it. He knows how to ride w/ training wheels.
I did find the university's transportation web page. I have to warn you that those public buses that go around the neighborhood aren't the most reliable.
You can ride them free with a Univ of Chicago ID.

Chicagoland Bicycle Federation has more about bicycling with kids:
South Side Bicycle Movement
contact Keith Holt
by e-mail at,
or call (312) 427-3325 ext.
If you think Hyde Park could be more bicylce friendly, Keith recommends commenting to the aldermen.

I also found this Chicago city bike ordinance:
Riding Bicycles on Sidewalks and Certain Roadways
9-52-020. Riding bicycles on sidewalks and certain roadways.
(a) No person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within a business district.
(b) No person 12 or more years of age shall ride a bicycle upon any sidewalk in any district, unless such sidewalk has been officially designated and marked as a bicycle route.
(c) Bicycles shall not be operated on Lake Shore Drive or on any roadway where the operation of bicycles has been prohibited and signs have been erected indicating such prohibition.
(d) Whenever a usable path for bicycles has been provided adjacent to a roadway, bicycle riders shall use such path and shall not use the roadway.
(Added Coun. J. 7-12-90, p. 18634)

I guess that means if you're pulling children you can ride on the sidewalk.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Lowdown on (mostly) Southside pools

Chicago Park District Facilities: (all location & schedules info on
-Dyett has weekday, afternoon hours. It's closest to Hyde Park.
-We like Welles Park (it's near the Old Town School & the Sulzer Regional library on the north side)
-I've also heard good things about the Park at NTA which is located between Chinatown and the projects on Cermak. It's a zero depth facility.
-The Harrison Park facilty seems really busy. Located in Pilsen. Go out for Mexican food after!
-The Don Nash Community Center (also CPD) has family swim on the weekends. 71st, 4 blocks east of Stony Island.
-The Harris Park, a former YWCA on Drexel & 62nd, is a very nice facility with some Saturday hours.
The great thing about the CPD facilities is that they're all FREE and they tend to be warm and shallow!
-Locally, the YMCA on Stony Island has pools and you could join Regents Park. They all have fees.
-The buzz on the U of C pool is that it's freezing cold. Community people can join and sign kids up for lessons, but I've heard of kids refusing to enter because of the temperature.
All of these places have classes and free swim. You've just got to check the schedules. Some teachers are more talented with the young who shouldn't be forced to do anything. Talented swimming teachers make the lessons a game, with lots of singing.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Art with kids

Saturday November 11, 2 - 4pm
smARTkids@blackstone library
FREE drop-in family art and reading workshops every second Saturday at the Blackstone branch of the Chicago Public Library, 4904 South Lake Park. Best for children ages 3 and up. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
For more information about family programs, call 773.702.4540.
Sunday, November 19th, 12pm-4pm
Hyde Park Art Center
5020 S. Cornell Avenue Chicago, IL 60615 | Phone: 773-324-5520
Fun for All!
Join the Hyde Park Art Center’s first ever Fun for All! Activities centered around our Sun Ra exhibitions with Teaching Artists, Performers, and more! Make an album cover, interact with technology, and find out more about afrofuturism, jazz, and art. Creative projects for the entire Family!
Saturday, November 11, 2006 - 12:30-3:30 p.m
The Art Institute of Chicago. 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, Illinois, 60603-6404.
Kraft Center
Free (although museum charges admission) For more information, call (312) 857-7161.
The Artist's Studio
The Silk Road and Beyond: Travel, Trade, and Transformation
Families can visit the galleries to see patterned ceramic wares from China and the Islamic world. Then, children can design a colorful stamped pattern on paper to take home.
Age Group: All ages

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

New Parent Resource Center at the University of Chicago

Kudos to the University of Chicago and the Women’s Board for opening the new Parent Resource Center on the rim of the campus.
It seems to be a first step for the university to actually do something for families in the “university community.” I’ve heard of other universities offering subsidized childcare etcetera for students/postdocs/staff/faculty. There’s no such thing here for us. We have to work with what’s out there. And believe me it’s pricey on our “stipends.” The U of C has started some kind of subsidies for those connected to the institution at area day cares.
At the Parent Resource Center they’re offering a drop-in playroom, a nursing space, activities for children, a baby clothing exchange and a babysitting exchange. I didn't see listings for childcare, school, camps & programs for children.
Here’s the website for a list of activities coming out of the Office of Graduate Affairs:
It seems like the childcare situation here is a total hodge-podge for those who are serious about pursuing studies or work outside the home and having a family.
I haven’t necessarily been in this position but when we needed to hire a part-time nanny/babysitter with a friend it was a snap because I’ve figured out how to navigate the U of C’s Marketplace webpage. At that point we found a wonderful Czech woman (a wife of a graduate student) who cared for our son and his little friends. But every year or even every quarter the Parent Support Network (PSN) e-mail gets a desperate message from a student or staff member here begging for childcare for their baby/toddler/child. I think the university should provide a subsidized childcare center. It would definitely be a draw for employees.
The Parent Resource Center seems like it's only for the "university community"
Personally, though, I like the ambiance at the PSN better where the organizers are the parents, not a childless-career minded administrator in a suit, who were kind of curt to me.
I feel so peripheral as someone who works at the U of C part-time in a job that’s not my “career” (it’s just paying some bills) and as a wife of a post-doc. I didn’t feel particularly welcome.
Nonetheless, reviewers have said the toys are cleaner & newer.
I suppose I shall give some of the programs a try with my three and five-year-old sons.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Neighborhood grumbles about supermarket

Last night there was a program about the Hyde Park Co-op supermarket at the Neighborhood Club sponsored by the Hyde Park Kenwood Community Conference with many passionate voices for and against the store.
The store manager wasn’t there but there were two current board members and a former board member as well as the owner of the former Mr. G’s (what is now the 53rd Street store).

You will be able to read the minutes and summary of what occurred in the HPKCC’s reporter publication, which will also be published on-line next month.
There were all the regular and predictable responses – many, many people – even those who have lived here for years – now leave the neighborhood to do grocery shopping. Many there called for the Co-op to gracefully fold and make way for a Dominicks or Jewel.

Certainly the money losing 53rd & 47th Street spaces are a millstone.
Many believe the current management is completely incompetent. Because of the way the store is run, it’s important for members and neighborhood residents to be very vocal to the board. But it’s even questionable whether that makes a difference.

But yeah, it does come down to the University of Chicago having a big role in commerce in Hyde Park. The university does control most of the real estate and building choices. While there are some very vocal and active people here in the neighborhood, we do have a unique opportunity right now with a new president at the University starting here.
Many of you may know there are some (fun & free) inauguration activities on campus tomorrow. Perhaps more importantly, on the university's web page there is a link to send your thoughts to the new University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer.
Here's the url to submit your thoughts:
Zimmer was here years ago and returns now from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Maybe after living in a more vibrant university neighborhood he might bring some fresh change to Hyde Park.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lollapalooza for families

I wanted to find out if Lollapalooza, which ran over three days, on eight stages and 130 bands is a good family/kids event. So I got my press credentials in order to get my brood in the high security event. Lollapalooza used to tour the country but due to sagging ticket sales it now only takes place in Chicago’s Grant Park. In 2006 it was August 4, 5 & 6.
Chicago Parent, my sponsoring press organization was not interested in running an article about Lollapalooza or Kidsapalooza. My editor said the price was too steep.
Tickets were $160 for the three days or $65 a day. Kids get in free.
I went alone on Friday to get my press credentials. Boy, did I feel old. Everyone seemed to be high school or college age.
First of all, my information on the location of the media tent was wrong and none of the security or volunteers knew where the media tent was. So I did a lot of walking to get my entry band. It’s good I left my kids with a friend they would have been very pissed off and tired with all that walking.
Finally I headed over to see Lady Sovereign the white, female British rapper. The crowd seemed to lover her. The song lyrics “Love me! Hate me! Fuck you!” were so angry and lame. But the crowd seemed to love her energy and adolescent rebellious spirit.
And what fun to go to a concert.
Caring for our kids didn’t allow us to go to the shows on Saturday.
On Sunday, between lunch and dinner we headed over, wading through crowds on the bus and in the streets. Again we were the only ones with kids and probably the oldest folks there. Made it to the Kidsapalooza area. Watched a break dancing demonstration, which the elementary school-age kids seemed to like,
Then we watched Asheba, a Putumayo label, artists. It was all very loud and my kids were clinging and stunned by the noise and activity.
We strolled around the activities while the amplified teen-agers from the School of Rock performed.
Thanks Kidsapalooza for the free ear plugs!
The children of our kids school yoga teacher, Adina Linker, won an electric guitar. They’re nine-years-old and they seemed psyched.
Finally, we joined the Drum Circle program. We loved that. It was our favorite. Facilitator/band leader John Yost is awesome! All schools should invite him to their event.
When we tried to head over to listen to Matisyahu the Lubavitch singer who fronts Dub Jamaicans, both of them praising their god, we were met with a sea of youthful humanity. The gravel laid in Grant Park made stroller pushing hard.
We turned around and called it a day. Our two boys, age 3 & 5 were hungry and tired anyway.
It was fun and I would definitely go back. Only in small doses, though.