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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mommy Profiled at Opart Thai House

This post may seem more of a rant than anything. I feel strongly that Tuesday afternoon my 10 month old daughter and I were discriminated against. Not because of our religious beliefs; not because of our insane cuteness; and not because of our race (at least, I don't think so). Simply because I was a Mom attempting to have a lovely lunch on a warm Spring day with my baby girl in a "nice" restaurant. Read the scenario below and tell me what you think.

Nikke and I were out and about looking for a place to have a bite to eat before a play-date. It was around 3:30 pm, after the lunch rush, but before dinner. Perfect timing so I thought. For once I didn't struggle with indecision. I had a taste for Pad Thai and decided on a cute little place in the South Loop I'd been wanting to try, Opart Thai House. I stopped at a market next door to pick up a banana for little mama, a perfect pairing for her sweet potato puff snacks I already had stashed in my diaper bag. My little sweetheart was in a great mood and seemed happy about our outing. We walked into the restaurant, both smiling. As I glanced around the dining room I assessed it as casual, somewhere between your neighborhood Chinese greasy spoon and Benihana. The dining area was spacious, but far from crowded. There was easily room for 50 to 60 guests, though only 8 were currently eating. I approached the hostess desk and was met by a tall, thin Asian woman dressed as a server. "Who many?" she asked. "Just us", I replied gesturing between the baby and I. She led us to a small two-top table in the farthest corner of the restaurant. Sharing the space were trays of dirty dishes, a trash can, stacks of menus, and an emergency exit door. I'm thinking, "No Ma'am", but I say "Is is possible for us to sit over there?" I pointed to a sunlight drenched area by a big window. The waitress looked at me square in the face and says, "No!", loudly with some bass in her voice. Maintaining my composure while balancing my 20 lb baby on my hip and 5 lb diaper bag on my shoulder I ask "Why not?" This was spoken gently, politely, with no attitude at all. I assume she is going to say because that section is closed due to light waitstaff, etc. Instead she tells me, "This", pointing to the crummy dark corner, "is the kids area." Fuming, I hold my tongue. One of the three gentleman seated nearby, a police officer, responded for me, "Kids area?", he echoed in disbelief. I laugh and ask her, Right next to the garbage? That's odd." "Yes", she says, "we prefer them out the way." Mind you, the restaurant was all but empty; plenty of space to walk freely. I was done, refused the table and walked out. 

As I stood outside of the establishment I was appalled at what had just taken place. I began to hastily walk toward my SUV. Honestly, I was stunned and offended. Was this some kind of "What Would You Do" experiment? Was John Quinones going to pop out with a camera crew? It stung because I felt set aside based on an assumption of the employee. Holding my daughter I was unsure what to do. That lasted about five seconds... I turned heel and walked back toward the eatery with conviction. I would NOT retreat without having my say and showing the staff person who I truly am. I crossed the threshold, toting Nikke, shoulders back, head high, still smiling. I passed a busboy and glanced around for someone in business attire that might be the manager. There was no one at the hostess podium. I scanned to my left and spotted my waitress sitting with another server, a younger woman in her 20s. They were both in front of plates with piping hot food. Perhaps this was the "service staff area" :-/ When the woman saw that I had returned, she jumped right out of her chair. The patrons looked up, half expecting me to make a scene I'm sure. "You can sit where ever you like", she said. By now of course the damage had been done and they couldn't have paid me to eat there. "No thanks", I replied matter-of-factly. Handling a situation like this with verbal confrontation is not my style. When displeased with service my Grandmother would write a gracefully, vicious letter in a heartbeat. I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree. "I just came back to leave a little note with management about my experience, do you have a comment card?" She gawked at me like I was nut before ripping off a long strip of register tape. I proceeded to draft my passionate entreaty, furiously folded it and passed it to the other waitress. I asked that she make sure someone in management read my petition. I received nods of approval from the other guests, a wink from an African American woman about my Mom's age, as I exited and strolled pass the large front window. Nikke and I decided to lunch at Cafe Bionda, an Italian restaurant two doors down. Service was great and I even indulged in a Coca-Cola.

Opart Thai House, 1906 S. State St. I checked out their Yelp page, they indicate that they are kid-friendly. Pu-leese! I beg to differ and will be attaching this post as a comment. c

Thursday, March 15, 2012

DVF for girls now available at GAP! #BabyChic

Design icon, Diane Von Furstenberg, has crafted an adorably fashionable line of girls clothing for GAP. You can purchase exclusive frocks, pants and tops online at and in stores starting today!

Diane entered the fashion world in the 1970s and is best known for her creation of the wrap dress; a chic staple piece that came to symbolize power and independence for an entire generation of women. DVF's designs and philanthropy have made her one of the most respected women in the industry. Style mavens everywhere swear by her, just ask any Sex and the City fan. DVF is a fashion force, why not pick up a few pieces for your favorite little fashionista!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Oh my goodness, he's really listening!

Rules are rules, whether at home or at school. I say this to my kid time and time again hoping it sinks in and he takes heed. As parents we offer guidance and boundaries; some of it sticks and some doesn't. Best case scenario our voices will echo in their heads and they will think about what we've taught them before they make decisions, no matter how big or small. I'm fortunate to have a pretty well behaved boy, but just how much he respects my wishes was confirmed recently.

Nigel takes his birthdays very seriously. Like most kids he anticipates getting lots of gifts from friends and family. Presents are a big deal, especially when people other than Mommy or Daddy get him something special. Nigel's preschool teachers usually get him a little trinket for his birthday. Imagine my surprise when upon my arrival at school his instructor pulled me aside to say Nigel had graciously given his present back to her after opening it. Apparently as soon as he looked inside of the gift bag and saw a Star Wars Nerf Blaster he returned it. My husband and I don't allow him to play with guns of any kind. How mature of my Nigel to understand our rule and abide by it even when his parents weren't around. I asked him if he understood why we don't want him to play with guns. He told me it's because guns hurt people and they are not for games. Eureka! Integrity is defined by doing the right thing when no one is looking. My big guy is growing up and showing me he can make responsible choices. My pride is hard to mask :-D

Friday, March 2, 2012

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! Seuss quotes for kids of all ages to live by!

Today we celebrate what would have been the 109th birthday of Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel. Dr. Seuss is probably the most popular author in children's literary history. His over 60 books have made their mark on millions of tiny readers with inventive wordplay, one-of-a-kind characters and philosophies that resonate with those ages 2 to 102. 
From Greens Eggs & Ham to The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, Seuss' classics are a blast to read with words with flavor that burst in our mouths like candy. Beyond the rhyme and rhythms there is always a lesson. Dr. Seuss wrote about humanity, individuality and social responsibility in a way that makes the most complex concepts easy to understand and seem like common sense. The following quotes are a few of my favorites!
  • "Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."
  • "Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!"
  • "Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."
  • "A person's a person, no matter how small."
  • "Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” 
  • "Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!"
  • "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go."
  • “So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.”
  • “Why fit in when you were born to stand out?” 
  • “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.” 
  • "Today was good. Today was fun. Tomorrow is another one."
  • “I know, up on top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.” 
  • “So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you'll move mountains.”  
  • "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not."
  • “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.” 
  • “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” 
  • “If things start happening, don't worry, don't stew, just go right along and you'll start happening too.” 
  • “You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” 
  • “All alone! Whether you like it or not, alone is something you'll be quite a lot!” 
  • “They say I'm old-fashioned, and live in the past, but sometimes I think progress progresses too fast!” 
  • “I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.” 
“We are all a little weird and life is a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love.”

Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss! 
A book nut!