Sunday, November 30, 2008
This weekend was a weekend of sitting around and doing nothing. And we tried to stick to that theme as well as we could.
We enjoyed a low-key playdate with awesome food over at Special K's house. X-man loved playing with the Wonder Twins. I met their three cats and we agreed to do the "sit around eating watching the kids play" thing again soon.
My mom was here and wanted to go shopping on Friday, so I took her downtown to Wind, Water and Light and Ten Thousand Villages.
Then we sat around watching Top Gear -- for hours. X-man can't get enough of that show OR any documentary Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond or James May do outside of Top Gear.
Saturday was similar, except that we took 20 whole minutes to put up our Christmas lights. Then we realized we needed a magnetic screwdriver for some new house numbers we put up because we lost 3 tiny screws on the ground while trying to do it without one. None of us had showered. X-man came off of two days of successful pottying to waking up on Saturday and reorienting himself so that his manhood wasn't covered and he was peeing all over his t-shirt. So, he smelled like urine, even after fixing the diaper situation and giving him new clothes. I wore my slippers. MacTroll had a hat on. We looked pretty scary.
So off we went to Wal-mart, cause no one cares at Wal-mart if you're scary -- wrong choice. Too many people. We went to what MacTroll calls the "back alley" ACE at the Windsor at the Crossing. No one is ever there. And when we walked through the door a team of four people led us to the magnetic screwdrivers, which were sold out. Then they found us some magnets so we could magnetize our regular screw drivers. It was one of those errand trips where everything was funny to us.
Suddenly MacTroll realized he needed some equipment for his Monday trip to Boston. To my dismay, we found our way to North Prospect. X-man and I stayed in the car until he was done at Staples. Then we grabbed lunch at the sandwich shop near Meijer... when we left I called, "Family Bath Time!" Only to get home and find X-man fluttering his eyes for a nap at 3:30 p.m.
He made it inside, grabbed his blanket and asked me to sit with him on the couch. Then he fell asleep. MacTroll carried him upstairs and we let him go until 5 p.m.
Today, MacTroll was going to take X-man to the Orpheum or the library this afternoon while I went Rollerskating with the parent group. It was a big kid outing, but since I scheduled it (and wanted to rollerskate) I was going. X-man found out I was rollerskating and got really upset. He wanted to go and skate too. He was sad that he was too little. But he did like playing skeeball an the other video games with MacTroll. They even won a jackpot. I'm depressed that MacTroll didn't get any snapshots of TB showing his friend J Cool how to skate on the wall. They were very sweet, and I love how well they get along together.
But he did get this:
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Last night we had a great dinner over at Libbygirl's place. She threw a cookout for the playgroup, which was a lot of fun. I had a selfish reason for leaving early, I wanted to watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving Special on ABC.
X-man has never really seen Snoopy. And he didn't understand until I turned it on, how fun it was. Snoopy gets in a fight with an unruly lawnchair in the middle and X-man almost fell over giggling. It was very, very cute. By the time it was over he was asking for "More! More Snoopy!" We own the Christmas special, so we'll probably watch that this weekend while we're trying our hand at potty training.
We're exploring our options. X-man has used the potty every time to pee (on a schedule) at school this week. Plus, we've gotten him to go before bed and in the morning at home. He still hasn't pooped on the toilet, but we're taking this as progress. It is highly possible that he'll suddenly want nothing to do with the potty again (he's been flirting with it on and off since August). But since we have 4 days with pretty much nothing to do, we're going to wear nothing but a t-shirt and underroos with plastic pants and see if we can get him to go every time at home. If we can get the pee pee down that would be awesome.
If he decides it's too early. No pressure. We'll go back to the diapers. But we might as well try.
In other news, I'm having one of those resentment weeks. I'm hoping it passes.
Right now I have to look for a dessert recipe that I want to make today for Thanksgiving tomorrow over at Special K and the Wonder Twins' house. We're very excited.
Tonight MacTroll is going with RF to the movies to watch British people blow things up. Hopefully Mr. Quigs will get free from work to join them.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
I woke up this morning at 7 a.m. to a rainy and dreary morning. I didn't want to get up. X-man was curled up between MacTroll and I. He had wandered into our room shortly after 4 a.m.
I forced myself awake, brushed my teeth, went to the bathroom, washed up and got dressed for the gym. Then I went and got the boys up. I fed the goldfish, fetched X-man's clothing options for the day and went downstairs to feed the cats and the dog and let the dog outside.
We dropped the baby off at pre-school, picked up/dropped off the drycleaning and headed to the gym. MacTroll and I were running side by side on ellipticals. We were watching the Daily Show (does anyone miss the election yet, poor Jon milked a thing about pirates way too long.)
And suddenly I was really tired. So I stopped at 1 mile/15 minutes and went into the stretching room and worked on a stability ball doing sit ups, push ups, bridges, inner thigh squeezes. I did a brief shout out hello to Cyberchick in her class. Then we had to run home for MacTroll's 10 a.m. conference call.
I started in on preparing the guest room for my Mom to come on Thursday by washing the guest bed bedding (which is where I spend 1/2 the nights MacTroll is home due to the snoring.)
I ate my lunch while watching the IT Crowd.
Then I felt really, really tired. My throat felt a bit scratchy. I made it upstairs, answered a few e-mails, read a few blogs and fell asleep at about 12:45 p.m. I woke up at 3 p.m. not really feeling rested. My throat still felt scratchy. I have had a sore/stiff neck for two days and even though I sat in the hot tub last night and felt pretty relaxed, today it was stiff again.
So here, I am at 7:30 p.m. ready to go to bed early. I don't feel sick. But I don't feel right, which is never a good sign.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Today, the family went to meet my sister at the Exploration Station. It's a 1.5-hour drive from Champaign (so a good middle point for relatives in the Chicago area for a meet up).
The outside of the building showed a lot a promise. It is relatively new with great little kid shaped windows that were low to the ground. MacTroll and I forgot the camera, so you'll have to visit the web site for photos.
What we can tell you is that this children's museum would make a great stop by place if you happen to be in the area, but there's nothing about it that stands out as a reason to seek this children's museum out. They have a giant castles the kids can run through. It has a dress up area, and a gate you can raise and lower. But inside the castle there isn't much to do besides go up and down stairs.
There's a pirate ship, but similarly, it's just a ship with a really wobbly steering wheel. The play table of castle toys are from several different collections and really don't work together.
There are plenty of play vehicles for toddlers to climb in. X-man was partial to the fighter jet. He liked to pretend it was a rocketship and blast off. But there was also a tractor and a fire truck. Two exhibits -- the commercial airliner and the soda shop were recently redone by 17-year-old Eagle scouts. The soda shop had cloth ice cream to scoop from a cooler and then some puff balls to sprinkle on as topping. X-man enjoyed scooping it up for us and his Aunt Melissa, but I really enjoyed when we went back later and the soda shop was staffed by 2 big girls and a bigger boy. He took 3 minutes to pull himself onto the stool at the counter. Then, they asked him what kind of ice cream he wanted and X-man was able to say, "White with cherries please!" (His favorite.)
There was a post office where he got to learn how to put a letter through a sorter (he liked that) but he wasn't interested in picking up or delivering the mail. The museum is pretty short on safe areas for kids under 36 inches tall. There is one soft matted area especially for them, but the stuff in it is all well worn.
Also worn out or in disrepair were the art table, the water table and this weird giant 6' doll that you unzipped his belly (actually the zipper was broken) and take out his insides (anatomy lesson). Educational, sure. But dude, he was ratty looking.
What I'm finding is that most children's museums get the funds to build exhibits but don't build in the budget to maintain them. And as they fall apart teenage boy scouts use them for Eagle scout projects. I also usually find that most children's museums that are part of park districts are usually better at upkeep (like Bloomington's and Decatur's) but this isn't the case for Bourbonnais.
The admission was $5 for adults and $4 for kids over the ages of 12 months. There is also an animal room for $1 per person entry that has salamanders, newts, a chinchilla, gerbil, iguana, etc. They are also NOT members of the Association of Children's Museums.
But I think I've been to enough Children's Museums now that I can rank my favorites:
1. Betty Brinn Children's Museum in Milwaukee, WI.*
2. Children's Discovery Museum in Normal, IL.*
3. Discovery Center Museum in Rockford, IL.*
4. Children's Museum of Illinois in Decatur, IL.*
5. Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, PA.*
6. Orpheum Children's Science Museum in Champaign, IL.*
7. Exploration Station in Bourbonnais, IL.
* - designates members in the Association of Children's Museum membership.
I'm taking X-man up to the Chicago Children's Museum on Dec. 4. I'll let you know how that one goes.
Last night MacTroll and I drove to Indianapolis to see Todd Snider. Todd was introduced to us a few years back by a friend and colleague of MacTroll's. Todd is a folk/rock/country/blues singer. And he's a lot of fun on his records, particularly "Near Truths and Hotel Rooms" and "East Nashville Skyline." He warns everyone at the beginning of the concert that he plays short songs, long songs and that he might talk and tell stories between songs that can last up to 18 minutes. And since Todd's stories usually put himself in the first person, he's living a colorful and interesting life (that of a drugged out hippie musician). But MacTroll said that he was always better in concert.
So, we hired a babysitter and grabbed some Sonic and booked it over to the Murat, a large concert hall put up by the Shriners in downtown Indianapolis. Given the time change and the two hour drive, we arrived at the intermission between the opening act and Todd. The whole walk-in process was kind of strange.
1) We paid $15 online to park at the Murat. When we got there, no one was in the booth to take our proof of paid parking. We drove on in and ended up parking about 20 feet from Todd's POS tour bus, i.e. parking would have been free. More interesting, however, was that on the ground, parking at the Murat was posted as being only $8, but they sell it on Ticketmaster for the $15.
2) We waited in line for some really old ushers to scan our tickets and then give us directions to the "Upstairs" room. Where we past like 20 security guards in a 100 foot walk (no lie).
3) The Murat Center had multiple rooms and may have multiple events going on. They had A LOT of security and assistance personnel watching us like hawks. I found this strange since the parking lot had been abandoned.
4) When we got upstairs, there were a legion of white folks between the ages of 21 and 65 (no lie) with Bud Lights in their hands talking up a storm. To the left was the t-shirt seller. To the right was a large former ballroom with a stage up front. Several hundred battered event chairs were lined up in a concert formation.
5) MacTroll and I immediately went to the bathroom. Most of the users were dressed in jeans and t-shirts holding their cans of beer. Some of them were already pretty buzzed and were about to break the seal. But two or three were dressed -- differently. Like the 50+ old woman in the long navy blue sweater dress and the tights and the high heels. She looked scarily like Cruella DeVille. She also looked uncomfortable surrounded by the hippie/cowboy crowd. Then I realized that the OTHER main event that night was "The Lion King." Crowds of well-to-do musical lovers and their children versus the left-wing, pot smoking, heavy drinking crowd made an interesting mix in a state that just recently went blue on Election Day.
We found our seats, which were pretty good, about 8th row to the left. Todd played a lot of my favorites, "Incarcerted," "Lookin' for a Job," "Playing a Train Song," "Tension," "Fortunate Son," the lighthearted, "Beer Run" and "Statistician's Blues." We all sang and danced in and out of our seats and had a good time. We made Todd smile a lot with our carrying on and screaming out requests.
Todd makes it clear that although his songs have gotten more -- um -- opinionated through the years (usually politically to the left, and telling stories and songs about injustices and how the world is often broken). He swears that he doesn't sing the songs to change anyone's mind or to preach to them. Instead, he sings them to ease his own mind... regardless, he says, he really sings them because he's happy that the words rhyme.
He's a simple artist; usually it's just him and a guitar. This time around he brought some musicians with him, another guitarist, a bassist and some dude on the mandolin, that was really pretty awesome, but when he sang back up, he sometimes sang over Todd, which was a annoying. As a band, they were having a great time, and, as a crowd, we were eating it up.
It was a great night out, and MacTroll and I got something we usually don't get: four hours alone together, on the drive there and back, to sit and chat about life. We really need to do that kind of stuff more.
Plus, we paid $1.55 per gallon for gas in Crawfordsville, IN. What is that all about? Crazy.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
I've slept with a 2 year old in my bed every night this week except two. In the early morning, deep in his REM sleep, my boy thrashes and jibber jabbers. And, like a dog with twitching paws that barks in his sleep, I wonder what he's dreaming about that is so unrelaxing.
This morning, I had an unrelaxing dream.
The dream was that everyone I know had lost their jobs and couldn't take care of their animals. While they were looking for work they asked me to watch them. I have a pack of cats, a dog and a goldfish already. But now I had my mom's dog, my dad's dogs, my neighbor's dog and from what I could tell around 10-14 cats. And I was trying to keep an eye on all of them and my kid. The hard part was that all of my parents were there. And my mother kept not watching that the cats didn't run out in the cold. So at one point, Looseyfur is standing on the ash plate on the grill in front of the sliding glass door shivering. And just as I finish letting her back in and talking to my mother about watching for the cats, I notice my father has decided to light a huge bonfire in the middle of my living room five feet in front of the fire place.
I go screaming into the living room. He and my sister are sitting in chairs across the fire pit from each other. And I jump on top of him pulling at his shirt screaming, "Where will we all live? What have you done?"
I'm beating on his chest and screaming.
And he says, "It was cold."
Yeah, so I woke up, and I don't really feel like going back to sleep.
Friday, November 21, 2008
I'm a firm believer in mental health days. Days where you wake up and you realize you're a little sad or a little tired and you need a day of just relaxation, fun or hours and hours of sleep. You need to eat what you like, do what you want and just center.
Today, X-man woke up in a funk. He didn't want to change diapers. He didn't want to get dressed. He didn't want to eat breakfast. It was a normal morning for us. And today, I just wasn't up for the negotiating and the barking and X-man wasn' t up to being wrangled or cajoled. After this week together, we didn't have any fight left in us.
And I looked at him and he looked at me. And I said, "Mental Health Day."
He repeated, "Mentule Heeth Day."
So, I called into school for him. Ms. Krissi offered to come along when she heard we were just going to have a Mommy and X-man day. Then I offered him his morning vitamin where Bam Bam always outranks Dino. (Funny since he's never seen the Flintstones.)
And that was my peace offering. I really wanted to spend the day with my boy. And, it turns out, he really wanted to spend a day alone with his mom.
I went upstairs and changed out of my gym clothes into street clothes. Then I returned and poured him a bowl of cereal, gave him apple juice and chocolate milk (he finished both). Then I ate my Fiber One Oats and Chocolate bar (remind me Quigs to kiss you for showing me those).
After breakfast we went to the Champaign Public Library where we played. I forgot my wallet in the car, so we didn't take anything home with us. Then on the way home we stopped by the Junior League's Festival of Trees at the Hilton. I know X-man didn't remember being there last year. He's still free, this year, which is nice. He wanted to go downstairs. So we looked at the elementary school holiday trees, then we visited the very nice Discovery Toys woman and got a potty book and a pattern puzzle.
X-man eyed Santa Claus from inside the Discovery Toys play tent. I asked if he wanted to go say "hi" to the man in the red suit. X-man's answer was a strong, "No."
Then we went upstairs. He gave one of the raffle ticket vendors $10, and I filled out the tickets. He didn't really get why were there there until he saw the fire truck tree. Play table, toys, puzzles, books, ornaments... all firetrucks. And he couldn't touch it, but he could put his raffle tickets in the box, and then maybe a couple in the airplane and train tree, and then maybe one for the Dora tree, and oooh, there's a Sesame Street Tree! And "Mama, mama, Look! HOUSE! Xander HOUSE!" Larkin's place had a special outdoor playhouse they were raffling.
And last but not least, he put his last ticket in a gift basket of books and movies in the hallway.
He started eating his coat, so I brought him home. Where his favorite -- french fries-- are cooking in the oven. I'm about to warm up some macaroni and cheese.
After lunch, we're talking about taking a walk with the dog around the lake. Rest time. And then going to the grocery store.
Tonight: Dinner at the mall and playing in the play area.
Tomorrow: Daddy finally gets home from his 7-day work trip.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
I don't believe in New Year's resolutions. I don't understand why you need to wait until the beginning of a new calendar year to decide to make changes in your life that might make you happier, healthier or just a better all-around person.
But I have a few things that I need to do. So, I'm starting the new things tomorrow. It's a Wednesday. It's not even a special Wednesday.
Several months ago, I did weight watchers. But I had a drawback. I hated going to the meetings because everyone who was there was 30 years older than I am. I couldn't relate on a basic level. Plus, after 7 weeks, I started to equate my quality as a human with the number on the scale. These are bad, bad things for someone with eating issues.
So here's the deal. I'm still not stepping on the scale. But I have no trouble counting. So, I'm going to count calories and post them. And I'll count them before I eat them. My goal is to be between 1500 and 1800 calories a day. Slow and steady. Nothing drastic. I'll post them every day. And if I don't. You need to demand them, even if it turns out I'm over calories for the day... I need to see them. As my old childhood friend, Quiet Musings said, I need some accountability... cause apparently, I'm not providing it for myself.
So I'm going to lean on my friends. Most of who I see or talk to every day, also read this blog.
In theory, this kind of life style change should lead to weight loss, but I want to focus on the change and not the number. Stay in the positive rather than let myself sink into the negative.
When I was a kid there was a girl in my class who wanted to be my friend. She seemed nice and friendly, and so I agreed to go to her house to play. When I got there, I instantly felt uncomfortable. She wasn't bossing me around or picking on me or anything. It just became evident to me that I would rather have someone hang me upside down by my toes over shark infested waters than stay at her house a moment longer than I had to. And when my mother asked me why I was home early (I faked an illness to get out of a 2-hour playdate), I explained that the hair stood up on the back of my neck and that the sound of the girl's voice made me instantly annoyed.
As I've grown older there are certain people I've had the same response to. As acquaintances at work or school, these people seem fine. But when put in a social situation with them, I try to politely back away slowly. Because once you dispense of the small talk variety you learn that someone is outright racist. Sometimes, it's because they make assumptions that you are like them and therefore must share the same values or religious ideologies, and then when you speak up and say you completely disagree with them there's this long awkward silence. And then usually some kind of poor humor (that is really just ridicule) starts pouring out from them. I call these people the "Cringe People."
I do not believe that we should only interact with people who are like ourselves. That's not how diversity in friendship works. I know many people who think very differently than I do and come from different backgrounds, and we cling to our friendships because of our differences. I know that there are some things that we will NEVER agree on, but we love each other and thrive off of our relationship anyway.
Cringe people, however, always give you the willies. You can get through being civil as long as serious conversation topics are never discussed. Or you mentally place yourself in Silent Land, and say nothing and let them babble. Then when you're safe, you call up your best friend and debrief to her, so someone you love and trust can tell you if you're crazy and rude or spot on.
In my case, my cringe people are usually overtly high maintenance and needy. They cling to any person who seems remotely independent and capable, like some kind of parasite. They have poor self-esteem or people have always taken care of them in one way or another. They don't want to get outside into the world of many, they want you to enter their Own Private Idaho. And as gently as you might try to remove them, in my middle-age, I've come to realize that you either walk on eggshells around them and hope they don't notice your presence, or once they cling to you, you cut them off and throw them as far as you can, get in your car and DRIVE AWAY like Godzilla is chasing you.
Because, unfortunately, the straight to their face approach never works. They always come back for more. They're deep into the State of Denial looking for a lifeline. They enjoy being the victim, and no "hero type" will ever be good enough to rescue them.
Seriously, Cringe People can drown AquaMan.
Monday, November 17, 2008
When X-man was five months old, MacTroll and I started noticing some discoloration on his teeth. They were a bit gray. As first time parents we got worried and called our dentist who referred us to Dr. Gregg Rose, a pediatric dentist over at Mattis and Devonshire.
I mentioned our appointment to my friend Tami, whose face immediately lifted. She took her teenage daughter to Dr. Rose and LOVES him, and she said her daughter enjoyed going to the dentist because of him.
Dr. Rose took care of our gray issue (discoloration due to iron in the formula), and we go back to see him every six months as a precaution because X-man was born with Torticollis which, in turn, gave him Plagiocephaly, and dental issues sometimes goes hand in hand with these issues.
Anyway, I took X-man this morning for his check up. We talked about how a dentist likes to look at your smile and make sure your teeth are healthy. When we got out of the car, he wasn't sure he wanted to see a dentist. But when he saw the bead tables in the lobby, he was happy. Plus, it was big boy central today. There were five boys in the waiting room between the ages of 8 and 13. X-man saw one hang his coat on the big coat hook and stared at it hard. So I offered to hang his little coat next to the big boy's. That made him happy. We weighed him (still hovering around 38 lbs fully dressed) and measured him 38.5 inches.
The examination room is large with four chairs across it. I think this is a brilliant set up for little kids because it allows them to see what happens at the dentist. X-man was captivated by the big boys, the noise of the suction and the dentistry tools. He also checked out the room of beanie babies in what I'm guessing is the room for large dental issues, so you're not viewed by everyone.
I was watching Dr. Rose as he talked with a mother about how her son's teeth are coming in and needing to see an orthodontist. He had photos of the teeth. He took his time to describe the growth patterns. He then asked about a patient's health as his daughter has a similar issue. It was very quiet, and I was obviously eavesdropping. But right away, I noticed how he connected with both the mother and the child. He gave the kid some novacaine and then sent him over to choose a handheld game system. He has a counter FULL of games for big kids and little kids who need some buttons to push while they wait their turn.
X-man chose an Elmo counting game. He played it while the dental hygenist checked his teeth and gums. She said he's a good brusher and asked him what color toothbrush he wanted.
Then she took off her orange-scented gloves (they also have purple grape ones), and blew it up like a balloon. X-man loved the fingers and became captivated with it. Dr. Rose finished with his other patient and came over and chatted with X-man. Then X-man showed him the balloon and started talking, and Dr. Rose just let him chatter while he put his fingers in his mouth and checked him out.
"Go worry about other things; he's got great teeth. Good job!" It was finished with a pat on the head and a tickle.
We returned to the lobby to set up our next appointment, and X-man picked out a sticker (big kids get to choose a pencil or an eraser). I put his coat on, and we walk outside. X-man stopped at the door and said, "Stay with Dr. Rose, Mommy!"
I smiled and congratulated him for being such an awesome patient. I wrangled him into the car, while he chatted about the dentist. I got him out of the car to go to pre-school and he said, "Go back to Dr. Rose."
Because, really, who can resist balloons, games, a new toothbrush, stickers, bead tables and big boys?
Better yet, who can resist healthy teeth and a doctor that connects with his patients of all ages and their parents?
So, if you're in the C-U area looking for a kid's dentist, I recommend Dr. Gregg Rose. We've enjoyed our last two years in his care. And it's great to know that X-man will never be scared of his dentist.
Misc will love this. Tonight I asked X-man what the name of his dentist is. His answer:
"Doctor Who Rose!"
Last night at 5:30 p.m., I turned on the TV. We only get 5 stations, and I was tired of X-man's cartoons. I flipped through the 3 PBS stations we get, the CBS one and landed on the ABC HD station. It was a NASCAR race, and X-man who was playing with his cars on the floor hooted. "Chick Hicks, Mommy!"
So I left it on and went to start dinner. X-man had fought my prior dinner suggestion, so I whipped up something other than chicken tomato chowder (which sounded good on a warm night). At 6:10 p.m. I called him to dinner. "No, I'm fine." It's his favorite sentence these days when you ask him a question.
At 6:27, the race was over. The winning car drove around the track with the checkered flag. X-man stood up, ran to the couch, climbed onto it, hugged his blanket, rolled away from the TV and fell asleep. Boom -- in five seconds.
"Uuuuuuuhhhhhhhh, crap, do I wake him up or let him sleep?"
I decided if I carried him up to his room and he stayed sleeping than it was meant to be. If he woke up and protested, we'd probably do a normal bedtime.
So, my kid slept from 6:30 until 11 p.m. in his room. Then he came in and threw himself in my bed. I was too tired to return him, so we slept that way. At 4 a.m. he woke up and ran into the hall to turn on the light for a night light, came back and fell back to sleep.
It's 6:50 a.m. and it looks like he might be waking up... But he's just standing next to the bed with his face on the mattress... oh, no, he just took his blankie onto the floor to sleep...
Update: I had to wake him at 7:30 a.m. 13 hours of sleep.
Sunday, November 16, 2008
So last week I was unable to go to the gym because of travel. We did take a short walk with our friends up some fun hills in Philly to a park one day. We also walked around the zoo. But none of it got my heart rate up to the point of cardiovascular excitement. But I was on vacation... so I rested.
Then when we got back, we had multiple early morning appointments on Thursday and Friday. And Saturday we went to the children's museum in Normal.
I got to see photos of myself from both trips, and as always, I hated them. (Insert a bunch of stuff I've already talked through in therapy here.) But mostly, I think I hated them because I knew I hadn't been active that week. It's funny how the mind does that.
So today, I dropped X-man off at my aunt and uncle's and I went to the gym. I rode the recumbent bike for 45 minutes, then I did 15 minutes of stretching. And after my shower tonight, I swear, my body looked better. I felt better. I have more patience with my kid, more energy and my heart, legs and butt had a great work out.
Mind over matter, right?
I have a lot of stress this week. So biking it out, helps. Plus, I can read while I'm on a bike, where as on the elliptical my arms and legs are going... and if I try to read, I'll get motion sick and throw up. I am hoping to finally be able to hit a Friday morning class again. I'm hoping Team Strength. I like feeling the burn.
We went to the Philadelphia Zoo. It's going to celebrate its 150th anniversary next year. Because it was a school day, it was virtually empty except for about 4 school buses of elementary school kids and some homeschooling parents.
The idea of having 4 adults to 30 kids on a field trip really made MacTroll and I feel for their teachers and chaperoning parents. The kids were excited and happy and outside! So staying in a single file line without jumping up and down, or touching things, or touching each other was impossible.
X-man, however, liked watching the big groups of school kids. He also liked to visit with the bear family below:
He got to brush his first goat in the Children's Farm.
His favorite part of the zoo visit was "driving" the tractor.
He also thought the education center at the new big cats exhibit was a lot of fun. Here he listens to how he can donate money to buy land to protect the jaguar population in Mexico.
In the primate house, even MacTroll monkeyed around. :-)
It was a nice November day when we were there, low 60-degree temperature. It was also a great trip for X-man to get out some running time before having to deal with air travel. Ticket prices were $17.95 for adults, $14.95 for all kids over 2. The prices do reduce December through February to $12.95 for everyone. Also, if you go in the fall, there is only one food vendor open over by the Big Cats. Most of the school groups had brown bag lunches for all-around convenience. If we lived in the city, or weren't flying out afterward, we would have opted for the same thing. As it is, we ended up pushing lunch time until we were at the airport.
The exhibits were nice, and it's a zoo that is totally doable with little kids. It's not overwhelming, and you can get it all done in about 2 hours. Only half of the animals were outside in their habitats due to the change in weather. We parked in the Zebra lot a short 1/4 mile walk from the gate. It cost $12 per car.
You can also take a real hot air balloon ride (it just goes up and down) for $10.95 per person.
We instead opted for the $3 per person kiddie train ride, because our kid loves sitting in a caboose.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
On Tuesday, we went to the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. The children's museum just recently reopened in a historic building in the middle of a suburban area park versus their old home downtown. It is now very close to the zoo and several other city attractions. X-man had no interest in posing in front of the sign. :-)
It is a beautiful museum. They spent millions doing the refurb job, and per our Philly tour guides BNB, they carried a lot of the same exhibits from the tiny downtown space to the larger space. There were lots of play cars, trucks, buses and trains to drive, which made X-man very happy.
They also had a mini grocery store and market for kids to go shopping. Here X-man is unloading his purchases onto the counter while a little girl runs the boxes through the scanner.
The one thing MacTroll and I found peculiar was that there was NO signage throughout the entire museum. So, if you're a parent who hasn't had a class in physics or simple car repair or fluid dynamics, you have no idea, as the children play, what they're actually learning by doing. Nor do you have any way of making it an educational experience. But X-man had fun even though his Dad thought it should remove the word "museum" from their name.
The only educational exhibit that we all liked was in the "flight wing." In a very tall room, they had a large contraption with a pulley system. Kids made airplanes from foam pieces, attached them to the pulley and then turned a crank until the plane is at the top. It fell off the pulley and then you could time the descent to see how long your creation could stay airborne. Here you can see how far it goes up (X-man's plane is the red and yellow blip a little to the left of the center of the contraption.
The water table is a norm at children's museums and Please Touch had one that would take up the entire first floor of the Orpheum.
Overall, Please Touch was a great visit for architectural buffs. It had an interesting gift shop and LOTS of exhibits, but it felt like it was a lot of the similar exhibits that you'd see anywhere but with 10 times more kids and chaos. Plus, at $15 per kid, age 12 months and older, smaller, less busy children's museums would probably be a better situation, particularly for kids 5 and under.
In addition, all of the toddler play areas were NOT friendly for kids under 2. Babies that were just walking were getting trampled at the pond and in the store and in the Alice and Wonderland exhibit. It would not be worth paying $15 for any kid under the age of 2 and a half.
As it was, it was so busy, it made X-man pretty manic. We were glad that he got the gross motor time, but wow! Busy, busy, busy, chaos!
We used our Orpheum Museum Membership that includes children's museums from around the world, so we entered for free.
Below is the video of Manic X-man during his first 5 minutes in the museum... He just kept wandering around the Alice in Wonderland exhibit because he couldn't figure out what to do first!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
We're back from Philadelphia! We had a short, but fun visit with our friends BNB and their little Peanut. I'll have reviews of the Please Touch Museum and the Philadelphia Zoo at some point this week. I've got a full schedule today and tomorrow, but I hope to get them typed up and uploaded with photos... and even a couple of movies.
As for this post, I want to talk about something I always knew but which X-man illustrated in spades this week. My boy is a stimuli addict. He wants to see and do new things at all times, and if he doesn't do it when it's on his schedule, he gets a bored and unruly.
I've noticed on days when we stay at home, if we've been at home too much lately, he starts to whine and misbehave. But if I take him over to a friend's house, or we go to a museum or even to the flipping grocery store, he usually adjusts his mood.
So yesterday was a huge day of stimuli. He woke up in a happy mood and went downstairs with me to play with the airplane and bus that I picked up for him at the museum store. B offered to make waffles (and she does a gorgeous job), but X-man, who usually LOVES waffles, made it clear he wasn't interested. And he turned really grumpy.
So, we helped clean up and got our stuff packed into the car and said our goodbyes and drove to the Philadelphia Zoo. The minute we were through the zoo gates he was a different child. He was running from exhibit to exhibit asking the names of all the animas that he didn't know (pygmy marmoset, etc.) and saying, "Hello!" And then describing everything in the animals' habitat and each animal's activity level.
"Mommy, lemurs are sleeping!"
"Mommy, bats are eating fruit!"
You get the idea.
After the zoo we went to the airport and checked in the rental car. X-man was describing the different cars. Then he helped lug his closed stroller over to the Hertz bus, handed it to me, climbed on board and sat down near the back of the bus. And he stayed seated the whole time.
The airport was deserted in mid-day. But he waited in line patiently while we did the self check-in and he was an ace about going through security, even when he had to put his shoes, coat, blanket and toy plane into a bin.
We ate at a McDonald's that time forgot, which was in some kind of management upheaval. Huge drama going on with animated staff. But X-man had his hamburger and fries and chocolate milk and was STARING out the window at the airplanes. He'd count them in English and in Spanish. He'd announce when buses or trucks would arrive. He called the luggage carriers trains.
Then we went to our gate where we had a LONG wait due to weather in O'Hare. But he and I played trains and airplanes and cars and buses for 2 hours. We listened to some military folks chat with some new recruits. It was frightening. There was an 18 year old kid who was on his way to basic training. And the more experienced members were telling him what to expect. The kid's eyes kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And I kept thinking, "Was he a victim of predatory recruiting?" Because this kid had NO idea what he was getting into. He asked what I thought were basic questions to know before signing away your life.
He was upset about the getting up at 4:30 a.m. He was upset about taking classes. The guy told him that anything he saw on TV was sensationalized and that it's really easy and not scary to go through basic training. And then 5 minutes later he told the kid that when he got off the bus they would start screaming in his face and take his stuff and ridicule him and not to take it personally and to just let it happen. It was met to "shock him."
And all I could picture was "An Officer and a Gentleman."
About 10 feet away were some active duty folks who were playing with kids in the terminal with a stuffed basketball. It was two men and a woman. They stuck together like a team, were very friendly with civilians, but also kind of quiet. Not at all boisterous like the guys taking in the young recruits. I kept wondering if they were going back to Iraq for a tour of duty. They were clinging to the life around them rather than boasting about the military.
Then we got on the plane... only to get to the end of the jetbridge and be told that O'Hare had just moved our flight time back two hours. So we turned around with an upset X-man saying, "Bring me a new plane! Bring me a new plane!"
So we found the children's play area and hung out there until we got back on the plane. He slept the whole way from Philadelphia to Chicago. And then we had 2 hours until our flight left (it was late) from Chicago to Champaign.
We got home at 10:30 p.m. last night. X-man was still wired, but MacTroll and I were pooped. I got him ready for bed, and we brought him in with us and all fell asleep.
Stimuli. All day. And our kid was an awesome traveler.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
X-man's world is crumbling at this very second because he cannot take a bath in Mommy's bathtub and has to take a bath in his bathroom with all of his toys.
Seriously. He's been carrying on for 15 minutes. MacTroll has wisely stopped trying to reason with him and is just letting him cry it out until he can cope with us saying No.
Meanwhile, I have just finished sorting all of the clothes for the swap tomorrow into Boy/Girl sections. And I'm about to carry in a crazy amount of Toys.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I read my first Oprah Magazine today while on the bike this morning at the gym. It only took me 25-30 minutes to get through, but I did it and I didn't vomit. (Dear Fitness Center, please get newer, better magazines.)
The main theme of the magazine (it was a summer issue) was why men do weird stuff. Like why don't men do things around the house more to help out? Or what's up with not noticing things like hair cuts or putting kids' shoes on the wrong feet for them... and it was all explained from the point of view of men.
One of them touched home about a husband being given the silver medal and feeling like a third party in his own bed to his wife and their 3 year old son. Suddenly Dad's needs weren't anywhere on the radar and all the Mom could see was the tiny little person in her arms. He went and interviewed his best female friend about it and she knew exactly what he was talking about -- and basically told him that's just the way biology made it. It wasn't sexual or emotional for a woman -- it was animal. You fall in love with your offspring.
But another article made me laugh. The guy was trying to be so honest. He'd answer the question about why guys don't do more to help out around house and give suggestions like, put a list of things to do around the house but DON'T put his name on it. Guys like to do things. They like to get things done and feel useful. But they hate being told to do them. He dealt with all the common sense complaints, but then at the end he broke off into a very complimentary, almost seductive 200 words that just really did a bang up job of explaining why I love men. (I love women, too, but that's a different blog.) ;-)
He'd talk about how men are fascinated by everything about the person they choose to be with. They're just daft about being able to tell you what it is that you do that makes them crave you when you're half dressed on the way to bed, watching you sleep, seeing you take charge of a situation, watching you be vulnerable, seeing you twirl your hair as you think through an issue -- and they love your hair, no matter what it looks like.
I'm not married to the most verbal person in the world. He's got 10,000 words and all the time in the world to give a room full of geeks. But he's only got three of them for me, but they're the right words.
And although I wish that sometimes, he'd be able to flirt and tease and banter in a seductive way. I've come to understand over the last 16 years that a simple, "I love you," goes a long way. Especially when the one you love is 1,000 miles from home.
Since I was a kid, I considered myself to be broken and unloveable in one way or another. I always felt unable to connect enough to be anyone's soul mate or favorite, but what I realized when I met MacTroll was that I do connect. I connect like crazy, but I also tend to partition myself into pieces so no one gets the whole picture. I'm like a good hard drive that way... He knows this, because he partitions, too. It's a survival instinct for both of us.
So I go about living my life and exploring the world. If a part of me breaks down there are other parts to help carry me through. It makes the shit that hurt not hurt so much. It provides me solace. I know I can get through and mend and be stronger.
I'm full of faults. Some of them I'm more bothered by than others. But one thing I know of is that in order to feel like I'm living I need to feel like I'm in charge of my own destiny and not just following others around as they live their lives. I am smart. I am crazily independent. I am amazingly fun, but I have a strong sense of duty and a remarkable skill at organization that keeps me grounded. But what makes me feel like living is my imagination. It overcomes the ghosts from the past and creates adventures for the future.
So, hooray for living.
Tonight, I'm going to see a Kevin Smith movie at the Savoy 16 called Zack and Miri Make a Porno. Smith is 50/50 in my movie going experience. He's either extraordinary (Clerks, Dogma, Chasing Amy) or he sucks ass (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, Jersey Girl).
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Can you still be a cute co-ed at 32? :-P
I just got my acceptance letter to Parkland to be a non-degree seeking student to take my early education classes. I have an e-mail and a login to the registration system. I get to start registration next Monday (so I'll have to do it from Philly.) We'll see how it goes.
In other news, MacTroll tried to send me photos of Mexico to entice me to go on the trip. I had to repeat over and over again that I had school starting Jan. 12 and couldn't be gone during the week. I'm not sure he gets that I was serious when I said I wanted to move forward with my life again. Then he said, "But it starts on a weekend."
Turns out the trip to Mexico is the same weekend that I already booked to go to Phoenix. Grumble, grumble, grumble. So, um, he's trying to move my trip so he can go on his free Dad-only vacation... and my free-Mom vacation will have to wait, apparently... After all, he is the ranking manager on the trip...
I finished my Christmas shopping today. And before you gag, the stores have all the crap out... and the police protection fund started calling me in the mid-day to ask for a donation to Toys for Tots/Holiday Summer camp donations.
Get with it, 'tis the season. Ho! Ho! Ho! or Bah Humbug! However you feel about it.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Last night sitting on our couch milliseconds after ABC News called California for Obama and then announced that he was the new president-elect I hugged MacTroll, I called KTDID in California in excitement and then my heart broke.
Every race is important on a ballot. I believe that. But next to the presidential race the one that really spoke to me and got me passionate about voting this year was a sales tax increase for Champaign county that would provide funds for building maintenance and infrastructure for the entire county. Every school district would benefit. And although I know several people find altruism to be some kind of character flaw, I think overt expressions of support and compassion for the betterment of community are a positive step toward peace. While I was talking to KTDID I was sad to see that the sales tax measure was razor close, but it was losing.
Never mind the fact that I live in Savoy and wanted a neighborhood school for my child and the other couple hundred kids that currently ride buses all over town to get to elementary school. I wanted it to pass to restructure the buildings to provide better access to technology for students, to make the buildings more ecologically friendly to the environment and to make sure that the schools in the area have enough seats for anticipated growth in each of the districts. I would have voted for it even if there wasn't the promise of an elementary school in my neighborhood on the ballot because I believe all kids deserve a safe, kind place to learn.
My trouble is that I also know people are losing their jobs and new ones aren't immediately available. I know that when you have trouble putting food on the table and making rent or house payments 1% sales tax doesn't seem possible. And I understand people who had to vote with their families' empty bellies and cold rooms in mind.
But for the last few weeks as I talked to people about the proposition, I was astounded at how many answers I received from other parents as to why they didn't think they were voting for the proposition. Reasons like:
"My kids will almost be done by the time the changes take place, why would I spend extra money -- no one spent it on my kids."
"Washington and Garden Hills don't need those extra seats. Besides we only need to LOOK like we're trying to meet the court decree requirements."
"I don't want them to close Carrie Busey. I don't care how many schools I have a Priority A chance of getting into. That's my kid's school."
It became clear to me that I was running into many voters who believed that they would only vote for something if it benefitted their sheep, rather than the whole flock. It depressed me, but I held out hope. And then last night in his acceptance speech, Barack Obama said this:
"Let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it's that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers - in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people."
In the coming years, I hope to see more spirit of patriotism in our community as well as in our country and in the world. We need to remember that it takes a village... and our responsibilities to better the world don't stop at our front doors.
Monday, November 3, 2008
I've been way to fancy lately with my life. I've been far to scheduled. And I think it's killing me. Last week I was plagued with headaches. This weekend all I wanted to do was stay at home and play with my kid and talk to my husband -- and we did for the most part. On Sunday, I crawled into bed at 1:30 p.m. to take a nap. MacTroll deposited X-man next to me around 3 p.m. and we just kept sleeping until we woke up and the sun was going down.
Then we watched James May's Big Ideas while Joel barbequed some pork chops and I made carrots and couscous. Today, I cleaned my one floor (the basement) and dealt with some animal issues. Tomorrow is Election Day and thinking about the potential outcome makes me want to vomit.
Time to slow down a bit and just hang out. More spontaneity is needed -- definitely. And also more naps!
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Today RF and Mr. Quigs came over to help MacTroll put up our new TV. They did a great job. And when they were done, I was really appalled that anyone would charge $500 to install a TV. Angry, really. So thank you to our friends, for helping us out!
Tonight, I'm sitting in my living room with a $15 Digital Antennae. We don't have a lot of stations, of course, but what we do have is beautiful. We have great reception on the ABC HD channel and the three PBS channels (2 digital and one TV) are lovely. CBS is so so and we eliminated the Home shopping network, Fox and NBC immediately. Poor quality for the most part...
Not sure we'll change our internet viewing much. But for $15, this will work.
Yesterday was our Halloween extravaganza. I like Halloween. It is my second favorite holiday. And we had a lot to do and see. First off, X-man's class went trick or treating. They all created their own pizza costumes. But X-man refused to wear his.
Then at 3 p.m. the turtles had their Halloween party. X-man enjoyed his snacks and some eery Halloween stories read by Ms. Holly.
Then X-man was ready to go because we were on our way to a Halloween party at Curious J's house. There we had some of Mr. Rogers' chili and some cool spiders made out of pretzels, Ritz crackers, peanut butter and M&Ms.
I also tried to put X-man in his doggie costume. The world ended. And for 20 minutes he cried and cried, begging, pleading, "Take it off. No brown doggie. White doggie! Please Mommy."
So I took it off, and MacTroll ran back to the house and picked up a pair of overalls and X-man's Bob the Builder shirt and hammer. (He hates wearing the hat). And we dressed him up that way... which he doesn't see as a costume because he wears it to school.
After the party, we went over to Urbana and saw most of the Lemonades, Harley Quinn and her crew and the Wonder Twins family to go Trick or Treating. X-man refused to go. He wanted to stay behind. So Special K and MacTroll stayed at their house and passed out candy while X-man played with the Wonder Twins' toys. I guess it makes sense -- why go walking all around town asking strangers for candy when you know someone who has a big bowl of it right in a living room full of toys. Common sense and stubborn at 2, how cute is that?
Then at 7:o0 Mealy Worm tuckered out (we were matching bees!), so I wandered back home with Lavender and then back to Special K's house to pick up my boys. Next, we headed over to Lester and Terry's, where X-man jumped out of the car Hammer in one hand and Elmo candy bucket in the other, and ran to their door to trick or treat. He said it, then handed his bucket to Terry and went in their house not caring about the candy.
At 8:30 we headed home to bed exhausted, but this a.m. when X-man got up I asked, "Did you have a good Halloween?"
"Yes! Play with friends more today?"
Today the guys are putting up our TV and we're going to a football game. Tomorrow we're seeing Kung Fu Panda and going to see model trains at Illini Rail.
It's a really, really busy weekend.