I know I’m a little late on commenting about this, but surely you’ve read about, or seen countless reposts of the Facebook status update by a disgruntled father that turned into the no. 1 best-selling book on Amazon.com, right?

Go the F to Sleep

You know what my first thought was when I read that Adam Mansbach’s hilariously irreverent status update was turned into a children’s book, Go the F**k to Sleep: Why the fuck didn’t I think of that? My second thought: Oh, yeah, because even if I had, getting a book published is about the hardest thing to accomplish today, unless you’re Chelsea Handler, Lauren Conrad, Tori Spelling or Bethenny Frankel (I know this first-hand since I’m currently working toward this goal).

Adam Mansbach is already a published author. He wrote The End of the Jews, and has a best-seller, Angry Black White Boy, and according to this CNN article started out as a poet. Which explains the laugh-out-loud iambic pentameter in Go the F**k to Sleep (which, by the way, isn’t even out yet). I can’t think of a better gift for the new sleep-deprived parent! Will you be buying this book? I sure as fuck will. Here are a couple great verses:

The windows are dark in the town, child.
The whales huddle down in the deep.
I’ll read you one very last book if you swear
You’ll go the f**k to sleep. 

The cats nestle close to their kittens now.
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear
Please go the f**k to sleep.

I came home tonight at almost 11 p.m. from a lovely dinner/drinks/dish session at Arami, with the even lovelier Carolyn Pelissero of Boldface Communications Group, to find this sight.

The red kitchenI just ordered a new crop of toys for Preston, since he’s been bored to tears with all his infant/baby toys. My favorite thing ever is this red vintage-looking kitchen that I’ve been coveting for months now. I cannot wait to play with it tomorrow, er, uh, with Preston I mean—it’ll be like Christmas morning in the Gorenstein house. (Except we don’t celebrate Christmas.) This thing has a microwave, fridge, sink, oven, stove top and phone! I wish my kitchen was as cool looking as this.

(Red Retro Kitchen by KidCraft, $149, Amazon Prime)

Poor Jay spent hours putting it together today—don’t believe the lies on the consumer reviews that say it takes two-and-a-half hours to assemble. It most certainly doesn’t.

The finished product is beautiful though (thousands of tiny screws later). We know who’s winning Dad of the Year this Father’s Day.

Kitchen finished productAnd of course we also had to have a shopping cart by Little Tikes ($30, Amazon Prime) to go with our new kitchen and pretend vegetables and condiments.

The endless hours of fun we’re going to have for years to come: priceless!

Is it normal to be this excited?

Update: Preston was almost as excited as I was about his new kitchen set. And he almost caught yet another finger in the cabinet door. (No wonder the product says it’s for ages 3 and up.)

The kid already knows how to multi-task, talking on the phone while simultaneously pushing his shopping cart around. Photos will be posted later, stay tuned.

I’ve been very fortunate in my career to work with some talented and incredible editors. (I’ve also had the unpleasant experience to work with some real jerks, but I digress.) Dick Babcock is one of the good ones—no, he’s one of the great ones.

Some background: When I was 26 years old, I found myself unemployed for the first time—after a two-year run as the editor in chief of Chicago Citysearch (I launched the site in 2000), a round of lay-offs terminated my position. That’s when I picked up the phone and called Dick. We met briefly during a business meeting at Citysearch, and I saved his business card for a rainy day, and it’s probably the smartest thing I’ve ever done. When that rainy day came out of the blue a few months later after a round of lay-offs terminated my position at Citysearch, I found myself winded. As anyone who knows me can attest: I am fiercely loyal to my places of employment. I thought I’d never find another job, much less another job I liked. I figured my career was dead at 26.

Chicago magazine’s Editor in Chief Dick Babcock advised me to have lunch with Managing Editor Shane Tritsch, during which I relentlessly tried to convince Shane how well I knew the nightlife, and that it was a good niche for them to get into (“younger readers!”). At the time, they didn’t have a regular nightlife column, and they were looking to reach scenesters of my ilk. I must’ve pitched them a hundred story ideas. So following that lunch, and after one very eager and long-winded email, Dick asked me to come in for a meeting, in April of 2002. I will never forget that day.

I remember how nervous I was riding up the elevator for my meeting with them. Was I wearing the right outfit? Did it convey a smart, sophisticated journalist whose beat was nightlife? I wanted to impress them with my knowledge of the bar scene, but I needed them to know I could be taken seriously as a writer. After one meeting, I was offered the position of “nightlife columnist”—a gig formerly held by no one. I convinced them that in order to grab that younger reader, they needed me—an in-the-know nightlifer—someone who could report on the habits and haunts of the after-dark set from behind the velvet ropes, rather than peeking in from the outside.

Chicago magazine“Nightspotting” launched in the July 2002 issue. Dick wrote a lovely Contributor’s Note with a big photo of me, shot exclusively for the magazine, to promote the first column. My mom had it framed, along with my first column.

This opened the doors to many other freelance writing gigs, and more articles for Chicago—but most importantly, it helped me land my current job at Playboy. Three months after Chicago took a chance on me, I learned about a full-time job opening at Playboy.com (a nightlife column, while fun and glamorous, alone doesn’t pay the bills). For seven years I held two jobs: During the day I was an editor at Playboy.com; at night I was Chicago‘s nightlife reporter. I don’t think I slept a wink during those seven years.

I wrote each “Nightspotting” column like it was my own one-page magazine, working closely with the photographer for the column, Chris Guillen, to orchestrate the shoots. That column was my life, and my life was that column.

Chicago magazineIn 2005, I pitched a feature story about the crazy life I was leading as a 30-something party girl—a lifestyle the column helped support. In the July 2005 “Singles” issue, “Fling Theory” ran—my personal memoir chronicling my life as a “31-year-old text-messaging, party-hopping connoisseur of the casual affair,” the dek read. To date it’s one of my proudest articles—they hired an illustrator to do a rendering of me—and I worked directly with Dick on the text. I’ll never forget the advice and editorial direction he gave me.

The following year they assigned me a cover story on nightlife: 30 pages of nightlife coverage! I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. It was a mother to produce (I didn’t sleep for two months), but I’m very proud of the package. And because I’m a masochist, it was after that issue ran that I had the idea for a blog. There was clearly so much going on in Chicago nightlife, it warranted more than just a monthly column in the magazine. So I asked for a meeting with Dick, at which I tried to convince him to run a blog on their website that didn’t have much content on it at the time. “It’s, um, er, an article in real-time, online—we can be timely!” Somehow I convinced him it was the future of journalism, and I could be more timely with nightlife coverage, and get people to start clicking on their website, and we could post photos, and get even younger readers, and make money off it!

“Last Girl Standing” was born in December 2006, a bi-weekly blog that ran for two years, as an addendum to “Nightspotting.” It was the first blog chicagomag.com ever published. Once a week I wrote about my dates (note to future dating columnists: this will not help your cause); and once a week I wrote about nightlife news and events. I posted the requisite photos of me with celebrities at exclusive, invite-only parties, wrote about bar openings before they happened, drink specials, you know the drill. I lived it, and I loved writing about it.

All of this helped me get other writing gigs, and more feature stories for the magazine (my last one, “Bedroom Confessions,” was part of an award-winning cover story in 2009). I became somewhat of a local expert on nightlife. It even helped me land my current blogging gig at Parenting.com. Chicago magazine is very well respected in the industry, and not that this should surprise anyone but so is Dick Babcock.

I credit Chicago with launching my career as a writer. When I see the magazine on newsstands, I still show people that my name is on the masthead. I’m very proud to still call myself a contributing editor at one of the finest city magazines in the country.

Thank you, Dick Babcock, for giving me my big break. You always had faith in me; even when you rejected my pitches, you did so with a certain level of respect that isn’t always shown in this industry. Thank you for that, too. And congratulations on your retirement, it’s very well deserved.

Learn more about Dick here.

This blog originally ran on Parenting.com.

Sheila and Coby

Cute pair: Sheila and Coby

In case you haven’t heard me mention it before: Being a working mom is the hardest job on earth. Straddling two worlds, and in my case two drastically different worlds, is a very tough balance to strike at times. It took me a while to find my groove after going back to work, but at some point during the last 16 months I found it. I think I’ve finally figured out how to be good at both things: When I’m at work, I am fully committed 150 percent; and when I’m home I give my son and husband my undivided attention, too (I call it compartmentalizing). Somehow, somewhere I have found more than 24 hours in the day to get everything done. There’s always room for improvement, of course—when it comes to myself, I should carve out more time to eat three healthy meals a day; work out regularly; cut my hair; get a wax once in a while; go to bed before 1 a.m. Say hi to the dog. You get the idea.

One of the things that inspires me to keep going is the working moms I am fortunate to be friends and acquaintances with. These women inspire me to keep doing what I love every day. I profiled four such women recently for the May issue of Michigan Avenue Magazine, a local glossy in Chicago (read their profiles and see adorable pics of their kids). Among them, a vice president at Fidelity Investments, a chief pediatric resident at the University of Chicago, a successful boutique owner, and an entrepreneurial fashion and pop culture blogger. These women are in their 30s, with one, two or three kids, climbing the career ladder and paving their own way, and kicking butt as moms too.

After interviewing these local “power moms” for the article, I promised my husband I would never complain about my schedule again (my friend Jen at Fidelity travels weekly for her job and doesn’t complain about it!). They inspired me, and I hope they’ll inspire you.

To read the full blog about the new generation of working moms, head over to Parenting.com.

Follow me on Twitter @thecosmomom, and Facebook at Sarah Preston Gorenstein.

Pregnant in Vegas 2009

Pregnant in Vegas 2009

We don’t vacation a lot (or enough), mostly because we don’t have the kind of jobs and lifestyle that are flexible for such selfless endeavors. Basically, we don’t have time. One of the many sacrifices you make–or we made–when we started a family is cutting out expensive vacations (I stockpile them in my head for a day when we have the time and means). We’ve also had pretty bad luck with planning them–we’ve tried many times, but our lives keep getting in the way. Remember when we had to cancel our trip to Miami last month because Jay hurt his back? And twice now we’ve bailed on tentative trips to Mexico with friends because the timing didn’t work out with Jay’s restaurants opening.

And then there was our honeymoon… We got married right before Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, so going abroad for our honeymoon was out of the question–we had to be back in Chicago to observe the high holidays with both of our families. (I had no choice in the matter.) So instead, we took a relaxing five-day trip to Laguna Beach and stayed at the beautiful Montage Resort. It was lovely and luxurious; everything a honeymoon should be, minus the exotic locale.

It was supposed to be a teaser to our “real” honeymoon, which we’d planned to take the following year, since Jay was opening his first restaurant the December after our September nuptials. We obviously couldn’t leave the country till his new place was securely off the ground, so we planned to go away the following May or June.

But three months after we got married, I surprisingly got pregnant (the same week he opened his restaurant incidentally)…so going to Bali or Tahiti, or any of the exotic places we talked about, were no longer feasible. We even considered Mexico again, but that idea was quickly squashed by my mom because she thought it was dangerous in my knocked-up state. (Yes, I still listen to everything my moms says.)

So instead we decided to go to Aruba for my “babymoon,” a pretty elaborate trip for a babymoon, but it was also a substitute honeymoon lumped together with a babymoon. All we wanted was a relaxing vacation on a beach, where we could take mini adventures and eat delicious food, and spend a lot of time in the sun. We heard the weather was pretty much perfect year-round in Aruba. All year round EXCEPT when we decided to go in May of 2009.

As our plane landed, I couldn’t help but notice an overcast sky and some water on the ground. Never a good start to what’s supposed to be a sun-soaked beach trip. Okay, I thought, so maybe they were having an unusually bad day… When we arrived at the hotel, a perfect, open-air lobby greeted us; we immediately asked the concierge if the weather was supposed to clear up. He didn’t give us the answer we were looking for, instead explaining they were having unseasonably rainy conditions that called for storms throughout the week. There was a giant storm sweeping through the Caribbean; our trip was screwed.

Soon as we got to our room, we checked weather.com: Confirmed, a huge storm was coming through the Caribbean, and it was only getting worse. This was the last big vacation we were going to be able to take before the baby arrived–or maybe ever?–there was no way in hell I was going to spend it indoors, at a resort where there was nothing to do but gamble and drink in a smoky casino (not so fun when you’re 6.5 months pregnant).

We looked for other places to go, but that storm seemed to be hitting everywhere from the Bahamas to Miami. So I started brainstorming: Where was the weather always a guarantee? Great dining options? Entertainment, shopping and spas? Then it hit me: Vegas! You can never go wrong with Vegas. It has something for everyone (which in our case means gambling and a sports book for my husband; shopping, sun and great food for me).

So within 24 hours we were back in the Aruba airport (we finagled a first-class flight back to Chicago the next morning), where we would spend the night, and then hop a flight to Vegas the following morning, for a six-day stay at my favorite hotel, the Wynn. It was the best decision we could’ve made–had we not made it immediately, it wouldn’t have been worth our money to change our plans. Turned out to be a perfect babymoon with perfect weather, and we both got to do what we wanted during our last trip as childless newlyweds.

Pregnant at the pool at the Wynn

This is the last time I was seen reading a book in a bikini–here at 6.5 months pregnant in May ’09

Ever since I was 25 and my parents let me tag along on a trip to Vegas, I think I’ve gone every year. I went with just my dad once; we sat in the sun and gambled together, and then I went out at night and sneaked into our shared hotel room after-hours (he loved that). I also went with my mom once, for our friend Cheryl’s 60th birthday party at the Wynn. We bonded over their 310-thread count Egyptian cotton sheets.

Then I discovered the joys of Vegas with my best friend Jamie, and we proceeded to go every year for 10 years. We were two single girls looking to escape our mundane single lives in Chicago; it became a summer ritual for us. We made good friends on these trips; I even had a Vegas boyfriend one summer. We’ve had some great times in Sin City, she and I.

My last trip there was with Jay, Jamie and Marc, in 2010, when Jamie was nearly three months pregnant. What can I say: We’re Vegas people. You get every imaginable amenity, world-renowned accommodations and cuisine, and top-notch entertainment and nightlife. You can party like a rock star, or you can chill like a lame mom. I’ve done Vegas both ways, and both are equally awesome.

So we’re headed back to Vegas on Friday for our 2011 trip–this time with our cousins Jordy and Ally, it’ll be our first time traveling together. Preston’s staying with my parents all weekend (not gonna lie, totally sad to leave him behind). But I’m looking forward to hanging out at the Wynn/Encore pool, sipping cocktails (no bun in the oven to speak of), reading books (remember books?), and getting spa treatments (remember facials?). It’s been way too long since I’ve pampered myself and totally, guiltlessly indulged…

I wish the weather was going to be better–mid-60s/low-70s isn’t quite hot enough for me. I like that 80-degree desert heat. But considering it was snowing in Chicago yesterday, I think I’ll survive.

So the ongoing joke in my family about Preston “flunking” daycare–or being a “daycare dropout”–is starting to get very old. He didn’t FLUNK. I made the very deliberate decision to take him out of daycare…after two excruciating weeks (which only amounted to four days, since he was only attending two days a week). But let me tell you–those were four very tough days, during a particularly tough time for our family, which I wrote about in a blog titled: Do You Ever Feel Like Your Life is Unraveling?

The day Preston started daycare was the same day the notorious Snowpocalypse of 2011 started–the worst blizzard Chicago has seen in decades. And it just so happens it was also the day we had to take Jay to the ER because he had thrown his back out and was in debilitating pain. So we dropped Preston off at daycare, then went home, then took Jay to the ER, then I had to leave him there to go pick Preston up early from daycare (they were closing at 3 to prepare for the looming blizzard), then had to try to make my way back to the hospital right when the blizzard was starting, proceeded to get stuck in RIDICULOUS traffic, only to find out that Jay decided to leave the hospital to WALK home. In back pain. During a blizzard. While I’m stuck in a car with an irritable toddler, going the wrong way.

There’s a lot more to the story of why we made the decision to take him out of daycare, which I touch on here. But the bottom line is this: Ever since I took Preston out of daycare, he’s been much happier, much less clingy, he’s been sleeping much better, and in general back to his normal, adorable, sweet, social self.

Preston's smiling

When he’s happy, we’re happy.

I’m not ruling it out–we might try again when he’s a little older, and if we do that we will approach it a little differently (i.e. I won’t leave him there for eight straight hours his first week)–but this wasn’t his time, nor was it ours. So we’re back to having our nanny four days a week, while Jay takes care of Preston on Thursdays. It’s working out for everyone.

And frankly, I’m not sure he’s a daycare kid–any more than we’re daycare parents. That might not be the popular thing to say, but it’s how I feel.

Preston readingAbout three months ago my brother and sister-in-law dumped gave us a box-full of old books that their kids were no longer reading. I’ll admit, I was a little reluctant to take them. After all, the last thing we needed was more clutter in our already-cluttered three-bedroom condo. I also got a box full of puzzles, that I was equally reluctant to accept…

Lesson no. 1 as a parent: Accept timeless hand-me-downs, say thank you, and shut up. Especially hand-me-downs of the book and toy variety. The puzzles were in perfect shape, and now they are his third favorite thing to play with, only behind letters and books! And they didn’t cost me a dime. I mean, it’s not like puzzles change from year to year, and who cares if they do? We have an entire collection of Melissa and Doug puzzles, and a colorful case to keep them in. (Thanks, Michael and Kim!)

I’m sure I’ll regret saying no to the Thomas the Train table set they were trying to pawn off on us — they ended up selling it on eBay, for a fraction of what they paid for it. But where on earth was I going to put that thing when Preston was only an infant, barely holding his head up, much less playing with train sets? Whatever, I should’ve taken it from them. I know I’ll end up buying one at some point and paying top dollar for it. I repeat: Accept hand-me-downs, say thank you, and shut up.

So back to my original point. I do have one…

Dr. Seuss's ABCWe quickly sifted through the boxes of books to see what we’d be ready to start reading now, and what we could store away for later. Though we already had a bunch of Dr. Seuss books that Preston hadn’t shown much interest in, Dr. Seuss’s ABC book caught my eye. All Dr. Seuss books are colorful and eye-catching obviously but this one actually made some sense, and had an important lesson in it (um, learning the A-B-C’s), and it also had a rhythm to it. Admit it: Some of the Dr. Seuss books are hard to read out loud because A) They don’t make ANY sense, or B) They have no musical rhythm to them. Most do but there are some that should’ve been left on the cutting-room floor.

I can’t say enough about this book: It’s brilliant. And it’s taught my son the alphabet. We were already starting to teach it to him, letter by letter, before we got it — but once this book entered our lives, there was no turning back. At 18 months old now Preston not only knows every letter of the alphabet, he knows the sounds they make, and the chronological order. It’s un-freaking-believable. A through Z, he knows them all.

And I have Dr. Seuss to thank. OK, and Preston’s cousins — Koby, Joe and Emma — who were kind enough to lend him the book in the first place.

Invaluable Parenting Tip: Come up with a rhythm when you read to your kids, and stick to that same rhythm every time you read the same book, and eventually he (and you) will learn the words you’re reading. I can recite this entire book by heart, which comes in handy during particularly long and crabby car rides. When I run out of nursery rhymes or silly made-up songs, I recite this book and voila! We can have an enjoyable car ride, even in maddening traffic.

Now when Preston holds up an “L,” he says “lop.” Because the rhyme for “L” in the book goes like this: “Big L, little l. Little Lola Lopp. Left leg, lazy lion, licks a lollipop.” But why bother with all those unnecessary words, when you can sum them up with just “lop”? Is he a genius, or what?

And he knows “M” sounds like “mmmm” and “mom” so every time he holds up an “M” he says, “M. Mmmmm. Mom.” Who needs an educationally based daycare facility, when you’re being home-schooled at a year-and-a-half old?

This blog originally ran on Parenting.com.

Pregnant with Preston

The night before Preston was born

Jews are a very superstitious people. You may notice Jewish women knocking on wood a lot, or saying “poo, poo, poo” when talking about someone’s good fortune. We don’t like to jinx anything, and the “poo, poo, poo” is supposed to ward off the Evil Eye that comes with envy. This is also why when a woman is pregnant, we usually don’t tell anyone but our partner for the first three months, until all of the tests are run and we’re totally in the clear. Mostly because we want to be sure everything is okay with the baby, since about 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage within the first 13 weeks. We believe it will jinx things to announce the good news too early, and we also don’t want to have to tell everyone the bad news in case things don’t work out.

I broke this rule, of course, by telling my parents the day after I found out I was pregnant with Preston, because I was totally freaking out (in a good way)…I had a million questions to ask, and my OB couldn’t see me till I was 8 weeks along (I found out I was pregnant about a month after we conceived). That was way too long for me to wait, so I begged my husband to let me tell my parents so I could talk to my mom about it, whom I talk to about everything. I couldn’t imagine keeping this secret from her for three months, much less for one day.

But I didn’t tell any of my friends for the first three months. I basically hid out in my bed for 12 weeks when I wasn’t at work — I missed birthday dinners, girls’ nights out, casual get-togethers. I’m the worst liar in the world; I can’t even tell a good white lie. Keeping my pregnancy a secret was the hardest part of the whole thing for me. After that first trimester was over I was sooo relieved; I embraced every part of the experience. I was one of those annoying women who loved being pregnant: the growing belly, my new big boobs, that first time you feel the baby move, all the changes my body was going through. All of it. Even now, I see a pregnant woman and swoon. I literally can’t wait to get pregnant again…

Keep reading the full blog over at Parenting.com.

Follow me on Twitter @spgorenstein and friend me on Facebook (Sarah Preston Gorenstein) to hear more about my adventures in parenting.

Great news! My Parenting blog about how much I despise football season is the lead story on Parenting.com’s site right now. Click here to read it. If you don’t see the story at the top of the home page, then click here.

Yes, I’m what you’d call a “football widow.” Nope, I’m not afraid to admit it. Are you? There were more than a few women who commented on the blog that they LOVE football season. Some even claim they count down the days to the start of the season… I suppose when football is shoved down your throat, you might as well embrace it. Or put your foot down and take back control of your life, like I’ve been trying to do.

How sad that it’s been four months since I last wrote to you, Internet. Very sad, indeed.

What can I say, life got in the way—and so did my job, my family, and oh yeah, let’s not forget my job. Not that I don’t love said job, but don’t you just hate how work gets in the way of all the 1,359 other things you’d rather be doing with your time? I guess the alternative—not having a job—would be way worse. The grass is always greener, right? Right!

So. About that kid of mine…

He’s turning one in a week and a half. I’m going to be the mom of a one-year-old! How screwed up is that!? On what planet do they allow people like me to be the mom of a one-year-old? It’s absolutely insane how quickly this year has flown by. We all know that time goes by faster the older you are—weeks turn into months, years into decades, and forget summers, they hardly exist the way they used to. The next thing you know it’s 2010 and you’re 36 years old telling the Internet how ferklempt you are over being a mom to a one-year-old boy. The cutest boy in the entire world, but still…you’re old and ferklempt and you can’t quite get your head around how happy you are. It’s like, suddenly you find yourself living the exact life you always dreamed you’d have. You’re not sure how it happened, or what you did to deserve this kind of happiness, but maybe—just maybe—you actually earned it.

There hasn’t been a single day in the last year that I haven’t taken a step back to appreciate how lucky I am. Not one single day.

I ask myself all the time, How did I get such a perfect, happy, well-adjusted child? God knows I wasn’t perfect. Far from it. Granted we still have many years ahead of us to see just how perfect Preston will be, but if the first year is any indication, this motherhood thing ain’t all that hard. In fact, it’s a lot of fun, and most days very rewarding.

Jay and I have been talking about Baby G. No. 2 lately—I’ve written about it here and here—but now we’re really talking about it. The great thing is, we’re both talking this time—it’s not just me talking and him half-listening/half-tuning-me-out. I think he’s ready; and I know I am. I’ve been ready for months. I actually can’t wait to hold a newborn in my arms again. Thank god I still have it in me…

Of course, when I picture this newborn in my arms, I don’t also picture a toddler running amok in the house at the same time. Maybe because Preston has yet to crawl or walk yet…or maybe because it’s just not what I know. I am aware of the fact that it will be an entirely different experience the next time around, but I’m still naive enough to believe that we can handle the chaos, and I think it’s best I stay naive about these things, at least until it’s too late to turn back.

So if any of my friends with two kids are reading this: Please don’t spoil the fantasy for me. Thank you.