Out and About


Chicago Parent Staff


It Happened to Me
Minivan withdrawal

In an effort to save the planet and the family purse, my husband and I decided to make our tiny Toyota Corolla our summer car. That meant transferring all three car seats (one for the toddler, two for the under-8 set) from our minivan to a tiny backseat.

I thought we were so smart. So eco-conscious. That’s when Minivan Withdrawal Syndrome hit.

The first symptom was a feeling of being way too close to the ground. From our previous perch we were road royalty. Post-minivan, we’re closer to the roadkill.

The second was an odd insistence on keeping the recently vacuumed and deodorized Toyota in good condition. With the minivan, the mess fit the persona of the vehicle: a second home for harried suburban mothers like myself with kids who like to nibble and nosh en route. The answer to the age-old question of whether to allow kids to snack or starve during car rides is now pretty clear.

The third was the discovery that the World Wrestling Federation has made a permanent home in the back of the car. The minivan’s luxury of space meant no one could pinch, bite, slap or hit each other. Not so in the Toyota. Add to that the verbal sparring and it’s enough to make a driver go mad.

The fourth symptom is the realization that you have to actually talk to your kids as you drive. In the Minivan Era, the driver was so far from the seats in the back it was hard to hear anything anyone said. Demands could easily be ignored. So could whining and complaining.

There are, however, pluses to switching from a minivan to a more fuel-efficient car. For starters, the savings in gas will make you feel the bickering in the back is somewhat bearable. Next, your image will gain a major boost. Sacrificing space and sanity to save the planet is like, totally cool. Being green never felt so good. Of course, don’t mention you’re also doing this to save your own hard-earned money.

Finally, for all the bickering and biting, there are those priceless memories of the kids leaning their heads against one another as they fall asleep—until they realize what’s going on and the next wrestling match begins.

Samana Siddiqui, Homewood
Someone you should know
Mommy and memory maker

Few would dispute that having children changes a woman’s life. It’s especially true for Aletha Noonan, 38, of Chicago, a competitive and driven top producing sales executive for a Fortune 500 company who measured her success by sales and profits in the millions. She admits once having a pragmatic vision of how she would merge life, work and motherhood.

Then she became a mother. "Truly my daughter (now 5) inspired me and motivated me in a new way," she says.

Before her second daughter, now 3, was born, she decided that while she still wanted to work, she needed something more meaningful. "I wanted to do something that combined (my) skills and I wanted to do something that fostered the bond between children and the adults in their lives."

From that idea grew her own company, Peeka Productions, peekaproductions.com, 525 W. North Ave., Chicago, (312) 664-KIDS (5437). It creates customized keepsake DVDs and personalized books featuring a child’s family member as the storyteller narrating a professionally animated story for times when they must be apart.

What has been your best moment as a mom? Within hours of birth, her youngest daughter needed a blood transfusion while her other daughter was at home with medical problems of her own. "My infant was in intensive care for five days, my 2-year-old didn’t understand where mommy and daddy were all of the time so I guess the best moment was when we were all together … and everybody was healthy."

How has being a mother changed you? "I was told growing up in the workplace to not always show my emotions, that I was too emotional, so I had to squash some of my natural characteristics. I think that I wasn’t always that empathetic to parents. (As a parent), you gain a whole new empathy. It changed me in those ways, but it also just changed me by the sheer fact that, oh my gosh I never knew how much you could love another person. You would just do anything for them and you want to do all the right things, you want to not spoil them too much but you want them to have privileges ...," she says. "I’m still figuring all that out."

Best tip you ever received? "Make a decision and do the right thing."

Dino mania
Dinosaurs were all the rage with their invasion of the United Center last month. Readers share their kids’ favorite dinosaur at ChicagoParent.com.

"The Dalton boys would love to have a Baseballasaurus as a pet. It’s their imaginary dinosaur that has a neck shaped like a baseball bat, a head shaped like a baseball and webbed hands that look like baseball gloves. When he growls, he says, ‘Hey, Batter Batter!’ "

Denise Dalton

"My son says that he would use the Brachiosaurus to reach to every tree to get him apples all day long. He loves apples and dinosaurs."

Cheryl Darling

"My 8-year-old son would love to have a T.Rex as a pet so that he could ride him and be the tallest kid around."

Mira Mathee

"I asked my eldest son, Ryan, what kind of dinosaur he’d like as a pet. His reply? ‘You know what you used to call me when I was little?’ Then it hit me. He would like a RYASAUROUS REX."

Rebecca Adamitis


Kids Eat Chicago

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