Out and about


Chicago Parent Staff


Pacifier scare

One Sunday afternoon we were sitting on the couch with our daughter, Grace, then 2, when I noticed her mouth looked different around the cheeks. I pried it open and saw her pacifier lodged in the back of her throat.

I reached in and pulled it out, scared to death that she would choke. I gave it back just to see what she would do. Again, she opened her mouth and shoved it all the way back. I had no idea she could open her mouth that wide! It was like watching those TV shows where a snake widens its mouth to eat a mouse.

Of course, that was it for the pacifier. Grace was the first—and last—of my kids to ever use one past 6 months old.

Grace loved her pacifier and usually had two in the crib with her at night. We used to chuckle at how she’d reach for it in the morning, all bleary-eyed, like she was looking for her morning coffee. But even now, six years later, I get the chills when I think about what could have happened if she had stuck the pacifier down her throat while in bed.

It is no fun to take the pacifier away. Still, a couple days with a cranky toddler is far better than the alternative.

When I told my pediatrician this story, he said he always wondered if it could happen. He asked me to tell anyone I could what happened to us, in the hope it could possibly save a child from choking.

Jacqui Cook, Oak Lawn

Someone you should know
The conversation starter


ary Kay Russell wears a few titles these days: wife, mother of four boys (Joey, 8, Jeff, 13, John, 14, and Bill, 16) and game inventor.

In 2006, the Lisle mom created Kubit2me ... The Ultimate "Toss It To Me" Game, which is getting a lot of buzz because it gets kids talking. "It’s just all about self-expression, getting kids away from the TV and hopefully opening up with each other. It fills a void in the game market, I think."

Russell and her husband Brad now work back-to-back in a 10-by-10 room marketing her game, which features a fun, plush cube containing game cards that is tossed from player to player. Check out the game at www.kubit2me.com.

Russell says her mom, who taught her to sew at 7, always told her there wasn’t anything she couldn’t do. "Here I find myself in my mid-40s, on the verge of taking an invention to market, even then she still said this is an amazing idea, I know you can do it."

You certainly have your hands full as a mom. How do you manage it all and still launch this great game?

"I’ve got great kids and a great husband. I couldn’t do it without that, that’s for sure. You just find the balance. I think a lot of it has to do with your frame of mind, your level of passion. … Truthfully, I didn’t sleep much. I literally wouldn’t even start my research until 10 p.m. and then would work through the night."

Was failure ever a worry?

"If it gets in my head for a minute, it quickly goes out. I’m a realist, though, too. I don’t want you to think I’m going into this thing thinking this thing will succeed no matter what, no matter what sacrifices have to be made. I’m not willing to go there. There’s always been a plan B."

Tells us about that ah ha moment when this game was born?

"The ah ha moment literally happened in the LRC (the library) at Steeple Run Elementary School. When I made the prototype for the book club for school, I saw how all the kids embraced this game. Not only that, they came out of their shell and it made them talk. And it was fun. It just occurred to me right there there were so many things you could do with this little cube. I literally had to slow myself down. …"

Name three things that make you unique in terms of a parent, an inventor, a mom, a wife, a woman?

"It’s so hard to pinpoint that on yourself, isn’t it? The first thing that comes to my mind is I’m outgoing; I’m not afraid to ask questions, to talk to people. Hard working and passionate."

What drives you?

"My love for my family drives me in everything I do. Because I want them to love deeply, I want them to love completely, I want them to understand that anything is within reach if they have the tenacity and the patience to see it through. I try to teach them that nothing comes easy. "

Tamara L. O’Shaughnessy

What’s your lucky charm?

ay the luck of the Irish be with you this month. We asked Chicago Parent readers to share their lucky charms at ChicagoParent.com.


"My lucky charm is a beautiful gold necklace that belonged to my late grandmother. She gave it to me when I graduated from high school and I still wear it quite a bit, especially when I feel like I need a little extra luck—or someone special to be watching over me."

Shayna Sheinfeld

"My lucky charm is a dollar token my mom brought me from Vegas. My friend drilled a hole through it and I put it on a key chain. I have carried it around with me ever since and it has brought me luck many times over."

Lynn Prehm


"My lucky charm is my God pendant that I always wear. I used to get a lot of nightmares about snakes and ghosts when I was a kid so my mom gave me this pendant and since then I have not had those nightmares. With that pendant on, I always feel a kind of power protecting me."

Tarun Jindal


"I wear my grandmother’s wedding band beneath my own, closer to my heart, reminding me the importance of the whole family and the struggles of the many women who have come before me. That is my special charm, although I don’t know how lucky it is. I think luck comes from keeping an open heart and mind to new experiences and people in your life."

Susie Donohue


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