Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Potty Training Update

So we're on week two of X-man wearing big boy underwear. We have accidents here and there. It's very spotty. We had two on Saturday, none on Monday, one on the couch this morning before school, but it's been great all day. All the accidents are urine related, which I guess is easier than poop. 

Mostly we're trying to focus on X-man watching where he's peeing. He tends to look around and point his penis in different directions. We're also still using a potty seat in the kitchen rather than the big boy toilet. He seems to notice it more and be more consistent in using it than when we take it away. But overall, he's hitting the toilet between 6 and 10 times every day without any trauma, and for that I'm very grateful. I think it'll be a while before we're 100 percent, and he's still got a heavy overnight diaper in the a.m. But on Monday he came downstairs, announced he had to pee, pulled off his diaper and used the potty. He could have peed in his diaper -- but he didn't. 

And I think he's cool for that. 

Busy, busy, busy

This week is crazy. MacTroll leaves on Thursday to go to Colorado Springs for a weekend-long wedding that he is in. 

So we've been jamming in the quality family time at the early part of this week. The beginning of the week started on Sunday with a Tricycle, Bicycle, Scooter obstacle course race for the CARE families at our house. Then MacTroll and I took X-man to Sholem for the first time this season. Now when we go to the puddle, I can think about the first time I took him back in June 2007. He was 15 months old. He could barely get up the ladder to go down the slide, and I held his hand the whole time in case he fell, and while he went down the slide. Now, I can sit on the side of the pool and watch him. He's gotten much better than last year about being careful about the babies on the ladder. 

I'm petsitting this week for a friend on vacation. Her cats are pretty awesome. I like to go to her house without the kiddo in tow and spend time just sitting in a quiet house. (Right now as I type this, X-man is giving MacTroll a really hard time downstairs. He's been up since 5:30 a.m. (not sure why), but he did lie in bed with us until 6:30 a.m. talking to us and asking us to get up.) Sunday night I had tea with a friend at Kopi and we came up with a scavenger hunt to do as a Moms' Afternoon Out next month -- it wasn't a plan topic. We saw some people doing one in conjunction with the Cowboy Monkey and thought -- we could make one more fun than that. :-)

Monday, I spent the day weeding and mulching in the yard. I picked up X-man early and brought him home to a wonderland of baby pools and a slip and slide in his backyard. Another mom had contributed some pools to a Sand and Water Meet up. So we were covered in wet kids age 0-12, which was fun.

Today, I'm teaching a class on sensory learning over at Temple Baptist Church in Champaign at 9:30 a.m. I was up late last night cooking playdough and getting things together to make Moon Cheese, and homemade bubbles. It's supposed to be a session that shows how much you can do with your kids just using stuff you have at home. I'm hoping it goes okay. If it was half as nice as running to Meijer with Quigs last night to pick up some of the stuff it'll be great!

The rest of the day includes a stopover to the quiet house, lunch with our friend Marky Mark at Jim Gould's, getting an oil change for my car, picking up my tie dye stuff from Michael's, hauling stuff out of the basement, my nutrition class and a possible evening out with Roger Rogers and one of her old college friends.

Yeah, pretty much every day this week is going to be this busy -- until we head up to Rockyford again to spend July 4th with my Dad.

But the big excitement is KTDID's arrival on Thursday... I hope to spend Friday getting her all set up downstairs -- and then I think we'll grill out. 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Beetle Throwdown

I love that there are Lightning Bugs outside now.

I hate that their arrival corresponds with the arrival of the freaking Japanese Beetles.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Gross bathrooms

One of the things I'm noticing more since having X-man is how gross a lot of public restrooms are. As an adult, I've peed in some really bad ones at crappy campus bars and such. But when a kid is afraid to pee when he goes into your restroom because it's so dirty or they don't have a changer area for you to put your baby down or even a clean area -- that doesn't help out anyone. 

So here's a list of places I've taken my son, where he's been completely creeped out about the state of the bathroom -- as well as places where he's decided the bathroom is pretty okay.

–Hessel Park, Champaign, IL
–Skateland, Savoy, IL
–Lincoln Memorial at the National Mall, Washington, D.C.
—American Airlines bathrooms
—Prairie Farm, Champaign, IL (he went, but only because I had his small portable potty seat)
—Most gas stations off Rt. 39 between Rockford and Bloomington
—Santa Monica Pier Bathrooms (apparently they're now constructing new ones)
—Morro Bay public restrooms on the waterfront
—Most of the reststops on the Pacific Coast Highway
—Meijer, Champaign

—Schnuck's of Savoy
—Marketplace Mall, Champaign
—Culver's on Neil Street, Champaign
—McDonald's on Kirby, Champaign
—O'Hare Airport, Chicago
—Willard Airport, Champaign
—Indianapolis Children's Museum
—Great America, Gurnee, IL
—Chicago Children's Museum family bathroom (near water table area)
—Koret Children's Garden Bathrooms, San Francisco

—Nordstrom's (San Francisco and Oakbrook Mall)
—Ikea family bathroom (Bolingbrook)
—Disney's California Adventure Park (over by the Boudin Bakery area)

Got any that drive you crazy or gross out/scare your kids? What about ones that you were decent or extraordinary (Ikea is still my favorite).

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Garden Experiment

So last summer CARE tried doing a vegetable garden at Meadowbrook Park. For all of our hours spent weeding and putting up with cranky kids and trying to devise a deerproof fence on a budget -- we failed big time. It was a flop. A flop for the kids, a flop for the parents -- a flop for the vegetables. The only thing that really benefited appeared to be the deer that got into the garden, the cucumber bugs that heartily ate anything squash related and the birds who stole away the cherry tomatoes an sunflower seeds. Aaahhh nature.

What was more frustrating was that last year I planted a garden box that is 8x4. I did nothing to it besides occasionally water. And because I spent all the free gardening time I did have in Urbana, I barely weeded it. I had cilantro, basil, tomatoes and potatoes coming out of my ears -- and I did nothing. At the very last moment I put in some acorn squash seeds below my bay window in my crap soil (no top soil and mushroom compost for those bad boys). I had squash until December. 

So, I decided this year, I'd plant more seeds. I'd actually work with some intention. I turned the dirt in my existing garden boxes and put in the tomatoes, basil, potatoes and cilantro. But this year I added carrots and white onions. On the other side of the yard I have 12' x 3' garden boxes, where I planted green beans, green onions, cucumbers, white onions, baby spinach and pumpkins. We've been enjoying the baby spinach already for a couple weeks. I'm sure I've grown at least 6-8 60z large plastic containers of spinach so far, which sell for $5 a piece at the store. Today, I picked the first of the green beans to come up.

I planted pepper and some cherry tomato plants where I put the acorn squash last year. They're growing, but definitely more slowly than the stuff in the planned soil. The same goes for the corn and garlic in X-man's garden in the front. But they're growing. I didn't plant enough that I could literally feed may family off of vegetables until next grow season. But I think I'm doing an okay job as a beginner gardener. Plus, X-man is so much happier playing with the kiddie pool while I weed. I can watch him in the shade of the house while I work.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Rock on/Bite Me

Rock on to the guy riding his unicycle home down the bike path on Prospect today at 4:30 p.m. That's something I don't see every day.

Bite Me to the guy in the Dodge Ram 1500 who couldn't pull his giant truck out of a parking space at Best Buy in under 5 minutes. Per chance your boy toy car is too big, sir? It does no good to have a big one, if you don't know how to drive it correctly. Then again, that is true of  lot of boy toys.

Rock on to X-man surviving his 3rd day of big boy pants potty training. He had two accidents today. One was the predictable nap time, the other was in the middle of academics when he was too busy counting to notice that he'd made a puddle on the floor.

Bite me to the recession. Although I love that I got a big discount (50-70 percent) off of J.Jill clothes today (and that I even got some things in a SMALL), it was depressing that the only two stores I purchased things in were both going out of business (I also picked up MacTroll's suit from Bachrach).

Rock on that the front and backyard are mowed, and I went to the gym today. Now I just need to get out and finish trimming tomorrow.

Bite me to the fact that the sun is shining so hot and bright on my garage that it's throwing off the motion sensor at the bottom and it takes 5 minutes of button pushing to get out of the garage between 4:30 and 4:45 p.m. when I'm supposed to be picking up X-man from school.

Rock on that the drywaller came to fix my basement issue.

Bite me that he only fixed the obvious holes from the plumber and didn't notice the water/chip spot two feet away from the obvious holes. I guess it's good he's coming back tomorrow to finish the mud.

Rock on that my garden vegetable garden is growing like mad (Freak, the beans are almost ready!) 

Bite me that I haven't (yet) been able to finish mulching where the garden guys extended my gardens, so there are weeds EVERYWHERE that now need to be pulled -- and that's not happening while the heat index is 105 degrees.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bachrach Closing at the Mall

Tomorrow I have to run out and pick up MacTroll's suit. He had to buy one for the wedding he's in over 4th of July weekend. It turned out to be an okay expense because of the pretty nice discounts he got at the Bachrach at the Mall. The receipt says that the store is going out of business. Currently everything is 20 percent off. So, if you've got a guy with "suit" needs -- now might be a good time to take advantage of any discounts.

That poor mall. It gets something (J.Jill, Ann Taylor Loft, Coldwater Creek, Forever 21) and always loses something (Lane Bryant, Starbucks, Carmel Corn, Bachrach...)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Three Cheers for X-man

X-man went to school in big boy underwear today. I packed 6 pairs of underwear and 6 pairs of shorts and went away wondering how many he'd pee through before I returned to get him. He was there a long time today 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. And he only had once accident, while he was sleeping at naptime. 

I took him to Wal-mart to purchase a new kiddie pool, since our inflatable one went bust. When we got home, he played in the water for awhile, declared it too hot, and came inside to play with his fire station and watch How It's Made.

He's hit the potty 5 times since I picked him up. The big potty -- not the Superman potty in the kitchen. I'm very excited for him and very impressed. Taking the training wheels off (in this case the Pull ups) is hard for both parents and kids, but I'm thankful for all of my friends with older children who told me that he'd let me know when he was ready. He really did, and I'm glad I waited for that moment and didn't push. Now we'll see how he does for the long run. 

Sunday, June 21, 2009

An Everything Kind of Day

We spent the night at Dad and Barbara's last night in Rockford for Father's Day. This morning, my sister and I did at 50-minute walk while the two Dads (mine and MacTroll) got to play with X-man in the yard. They apparently did Hide and Seek; Duck, Duck Goose and then threw the tennis ball lots for Zippy. We continued playing in the house when it started to rain and then had some lunch before packing up the car and coming home. 

We had 2 potty stops for X-man on the way down. One because he pooped in his pull up and the other because he had to go pee pee. When we got home, he was asleep. He put him on the couch and let him continue to nap until 5:30 p.m.

When he woke up, he ran into the bathroom, lifted the toilet seat, peed, put the toilet seat down and washed his hands. MacTroll was euphoric. :-) 

Then we gave MacTroll his father's day gifts. X-man made him a garden stepping stone with glow in the dark stars. I got him a hammock. Then he ordered pizza. So, he's a happy Dad.

We did finally do one thing we'd been putting off. We sprinkled Loosey's ashes into X-man's gardens in the front yard. MacTroll and I both teared up. X-man kept asking, "Is Looseyfur in the house?" 

But she's got a place, and it's newly mulched and has a great little stepping stone. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Things I Try Not to Think About

I have a number of things rumbling around in my mind. Worries, fears, thrills, spills, etc. The economy, my bank account, my loved ones' bank accounts, my son's college fund, my retirement fund, my house, my friends, my animals, potty training, North Korea having nuclear weapons, the multiple wars we're in, Obama, Quinn, taxes, schools, weight loss, movies, the state of destruction our social service agencies will be in if the current budget is cut and everyone loses at least 50 percent of their funding and thus: job losses -- and back to the economy.

I hate the constant noise. It's panicked and uncontrollable. So I focus on what I can control and accomplish. Hence, the constant blogging about all that is trivial.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Out, out damn spots!

If you see me this week and I'm covered in mud and sweat cut me some slack. I'm in the middle of a household overhaul. I didn't get my mulch down on the new garden beds before I left, and they're now just growing weeds. 

I also have the carpet cleaners coming tomorrow to work on some old Loosey spots in the basement and to do the heavy traffic area stairs and hallway on the second floor. 

In addition, I never got down on my hands and knees to do the kitchen floor before we left for vacation -- and it was bad then. 

Did I mention that I hate inside domestic chores and am no good at them? Probably only a million times. 

I'm beginning to think gift cards to Maid to Perfection would be eternally welcome for holidays from now on. 

I may suck at domestic servitude, but I'm okay with that. There are so many other more important things (to me) that I'm good at. But I swear, it's not for lack of trying!

Days 7 and 8 -- Family Vacation

On our way from Morro Bay to Anaheim, we stopped in Santa Monica for lunch. MacTroll loves staying in Santa Monica. It's kind of a weird divide between movie stars who shop two blocks from the water -- and normal people who hang out on the boardwalk and the beach. While we were there, there was a sand soccer tournament going on. But X-man wasn't interested. He wanted to play in the water. After 45 minutes we had to haul him off the beach to have lunch. He tried to make a jail break, but MacTroll caught him just outside the restaurant and sat him down for a talk. There were tears, but he returned to have some lunch before we took him on the ferris wheel on the pier and then back to the car. The whole thing took way longer than I thought -- 3 hours. We ended up getting to Anaheim an hour and a half later. 

I would HIGHLY recommend the Doubletree Suites on Harbor Blvd., about one mile from Disney for anyone who plans on going to California. They are really kid friendly without being overwhelming. They are also very clean and relatively new. The suite had a living room with a TV, desk, fold-out couch, game system, comfy chair and plenty of room for bags. The bedroom was two queen sized beds, closet and dresser, and then you could both access the bathroom through a common walkway. So, X-man could watch bad cartoons on the couch in one room, while MacTroll was on the internet, while I could close the doors, pull the shades and lie down for a bit in the bedroom. There was also a dining room with great food options where kids ate free all day (up to age 12). We particularly liked that we could walk from our hotel to Disney without any hassle. 

That night, MacTroll ran out to the store and brought back fresh fruit and some bread and cheese, and we snacked and hung out before going to the pool. We swam for an hour and then took baths/showers and all climbed into bed in preparation for Sunday -- our day at Disney.

KTDID came over to our hotel and we walked up to Disney. Prices to get into one park for one day are $69 for adults and kids 12 and up or $59 for kids 3-9. The key height, as in other amusement parks, is for your child to be at least 40" tall. X-man is 39 1/2". So, we called him 2. Since he was in a stroller, I don't think they cared. Plus, I'm pretty sure we purchased $60 worth of crap and food to make up for it. X-man didn't blink once when going on any of the rides. His favorite were the Tuck and Roll bumper cars in the Bug's Life area. The waits were also very short in the kid area -- we didn't wait any more than 5 minutes for anything. In a lot of the kid-friendly sections they did a great job of entertaining the kids while they were in line. Flik's voice was around a lot of the bug rides. The Muppet 3-D had an intro TV show made up of shorts while you waited for your movie. Monsters Inc. had a million things for kids to look at and another TV set to shorts. The same cannot be said for the rest of the park. We waited 45 minutes for Mickey's Ferris Wheel, which is too long for little kids. By the time we were done with the wait at that one ride, we headed over to a kids climbing area, so X-man could have some gross motor while KTDID and MacTroll had lunch (X-man and I ate earlier at the fruit/vegetable stand while KTDID and MacTroll went on the Tower of Terror). 

X-man was really excited about meeting Lightning McQueen, and he picked up an aviator cap with mouse ears and some aviator goggles. He looks very cute in them.

At 4:45, we lined up in the main area and found comfortable seats for the Pixar Parade at 5:15 p.m., where there were floats from EVERY Pixar movie. X-man was so very excited. He cheered and screamed. And when the parade was done, he was sad that it was time to go. We took him to the Lego Store in Downtown Disney and let him build a bit, before walking back to the hotel. We had left the hotel at 10:30 a.m. and we got back at 6:30 p.m. 

We ordered room service and played in the room building with couch cushions and playing hide and seek. Then KTDID and I got some hot tub time before she took off for home. 

Then we all fell asleep for an uneventful plane ride home. So we're here, and I'm lazy about pictures -- so if you'd like to check out all the photos from our trip take a trip over to X-man's web site. :-) 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Days 5 and 6 -- Family Vacation

Thursday and Friday were interesting days. Thursday was the first day MacTroll was going to be available to spend any time with us. He taught his WWDC session in the morning.

X-man was not in the mood to explore the city on Thursday (I was going to take him to the cable car museum). So we stayed in the room and watched a morning of PBS cartoons and then walked down to the Yerba Buena Play Place. X-man got a chance to run around for an hour before riding the merry-go-round. MacTroll met us for lunch, and then we got in the car and went to the California Academy of Sciences Museum.

X-man, of course, fell asleep on the way there. So, he ended up sleeping in the stroller the whole time we were there. Structurally, CASM is awesome. It's amazing architecture and exhibit design. It's a green museum to its core and the whole museum focuses on teaching about evolution and climate change. Financially, CASM is completely overpriced. Even though all kids under 7 are free (and they'll get a kick out of the rainforest sphere and aquarium) the adult price is $24.95, and you just don't get anything extra than you would if your family decided to go to a good aquarium or zoo. But man, the work they did on the building is amazing. From the basement aquarium all the way up to the "green roof."

X-man woke up as we were leaving 2 hours later. He was upset that he missed the museum, so we took him back to the Koret's Children's Quarter to play. He got an hour and a half there before we headed back into town.

MacTroll apparently got some sucky work news and was in a mood the whole rest of the night. So, I got ready to leave on Friday a.m. and we went to bed early.

On Friday a.m., it was like MacTroll had a fire lit in his ass. We had to be in Morro Bay by 5 p.m. so I could go to a Nia class with my friend Robin. But it was a 3-5 hour drive (depending on which highway we took). But X-man and I took a while to get ready, so we left late.

As it turned out, we took the Pacific Coast Highway for the views, but I ended up getting carsick, so MacTroll slowed down and we had to make frequent stops -- making our drive last 7 hours instead. And that wasn't just the only pain -- we stopped at 3:30 p.m. so I could use the bathroom. There was no cell connectivity, so we got a snack and sat down while MacTroll used a payphone (hooray for 1-800 number conference calls). Of course, I'm sitting at a picnic table feeling nauseated while X-man tries his first ice cream sandwich of the season. In the end he's covered in ice cream and then -- I smell the poop blow out in his diaper. So I'm feeling sick and I have to look for a place to strip down my kid because the bathroom was not really diaper changing friendly, and I've got my hands and kid full of ice cream. Something isn't going to go right -- and it doesn't. I somehow lost my cellphone.

When X-man is all clean and MacTroll is finally off the phone at 5 p.m. we get back on the road. I'm all annoyed about losing my phone, and five minutes after we're on the road and MacTroll is trying to get us to Robin's -- Mr. Policeman comes over the rise -- and MacTroll gets a speeding ticket. Apparently, California reports to all 50 states -- and had an online driver's program that MacTroll will now be taking part in.

When we get to town, I call Robin and apologize and decide to go get some dinner with the boys rather than go to the class. X-man is in a terrible mood. He's whiny and pissy and wants to play on these grocery store kid ride things, but MacTroll is starving. Our hotel was a total rip off. So if you're in Morro Bay, the reason everyone is there camping or in an RV is because hotels that should charge $65 charge $180 giving you a false sense of security.

So, MacTroll carried out dinner to a park across the street. Where X-man refused to eat anything, but finally caught his bubble (i.e. sat quietly) and let MacTroll eat in peace. Then I escorted the child back to the stupid ride-on toys that we don't put quarters in, leaving MacTroll with carrying X-man's leftovers and the diaper bag.

Robin swung by and picked me up at 8 p.m and we headed downtown for drinks and dessert. In the middle we get a call from MacTroll asking me if I took the diaper bag -- ruw roh. There was nothing in it besides the potty seat, diapers, wipes and snacks (all replaceable). But Robin and I swung through the park and the bag had moved from under our table to under a bench. It had obviously been rifled through, but nothing was missing.

It had been a long, bad day and a half. So, we took to our beds in the crappy hotel and slept hoping Saturday would be way better (which it was).

Coming up: Days 7 and 8: X-man meets the ocean and we arrive in Anaheim.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Family Vacation -- Day 4

On Wednesday, X-man and I drove to the Koret Children's Quarter in Golden Gate Park. It has the honor of being the first public playground in the United Sates. In the last couple of years it went through a major renovation (like a couple million dollars) and became a playground that mixes ordinary playgrounds with public art.

On Wednesday at 10 a.m., no one was there. X-man and I had a ball running around exploring. He tackled the toddler park, then the big kid park and then he found his all time favorite thing -- a couple of slides built into a hill that were made of eco-friendly concrete. He went up and down and up and down for over 45 minutes. When he finally got tired of climbing, we headed over to the giant sand pit with tunnels to crawl through and a large wave sculpture for the kids to climb.

Out of the 10 adults that were in the park with their kids, 6 of them were nannies. I'd say this is the thing I noticed most about our stay in California. There's a clear economic divide between what is normal at home and what is normal in a giant, ritzy city. The Nannies all carried crazy large fancy bags and wore designer jeans. They were at least in Converse shoes, where as the mommy that was in tow (who spent the entire time on the cellphone) was in crazy heeled boots.

After the park, we drove over to the San Francisco Zoo. X-man's favorite part was riding the "Little Puffer" steam train. It makes two loops around the track and on the second run, you go through a tunnel and the engineer blows bubbles at the car like in Willy Wonka. We saw gorillas and mandrills and pet/brushed some goats in the Children's Museum. The facilities for the animals were recently updated for the most part. They also had awesome lunch options. And for the first time, when I picked up my side salad and fruit salad with a water, X-man asked to have fruit salad, too. Then he asked for chips -- but he picked pretzels. So I'm feeling pretty proud that he's learning by the food we're modeling.

We drove home around 3 p.m. and X-man fell asleep, which was too bad because there were some awesome views of the ocean, then the city and then the bay. We got home and I put him in the stroller and he slept all the way up to the room for another 2 hours of nap.

That night, MacTroll was supposed to be back at the hotel to release me at 4 p.m. to go out on my own after being a single parent for 3 days. But he didn't get back until 6 p.m. And he brought friends with him. They took X-man out to dinner (3 dads!) and I got to walk around and find that all the stores I wanted to go to were already closed. I did hit one gift store and picked up something for a friend having a baby. But the only thing open to me was the scary mall. And by scary I mean the mall with those spa people who bother you every 10 steps. Where there were no people in any of the stores. Where the sales people attack you and bother you like freaking 3 year olds demanding, "Are we there yet?"

But when I returned to the room at 8 p.m. the boys were still gone. I took a shower and put on my new heels that SuperShanna picked up for me from Nordstrom's and a pair of black capris I bought with Quigs and the new shirt I got with Rogers (pre-shopping rocks). And I went and stood on a street corner (yes, that's funny) and met a friend of mine for drinks. It took a while to find a bar that wasn't overrun with uber loud music, but we did it. I dragged my butt home at 12:30 a.m. It was awesome.

Tomorrow Day 5 and 6 -- the Total Family Curse.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Family Vacation -- Days 2 and 3

On Monday, MacTroll went to work.

X-man and I went out for breakfast at Café Bellini where we both consumed fruit bowls. Then we jumped aboard the trolley car and headed down to the waterfront at Fisherman's Wharf.

One of the brighter things I did for this trip was purchase a "City Pass." City Pass is a tourism group that goes into major cities and gets major tourist attractions to invest in selling more tickets at a discounted rate. In this case, I bought myself unlimited free trolley rides ($5 each way for adults), unlimited bus fare $1-2 each ride, and free tickets for myself to SF MoMa, The Aquarium by the Bay, the Blue and Gold Boat Tours, the California Academy of Sciences Museum and the Exploratorium Children's Science Museum (you could also choose the DeYoung Museum) for $59. All of these purchased separately would have been over $115. They also have kid options, but most of the museums are free for kids under 5. The only exception in this group was the Aquarium.

Once we arrived at the Wharf, X-man and I wandered down and got our tickets for our boat ride. The large boat takes passengers out underneath the Golden Gate Bridge (or Superman's Bridge -- if you're X-man and love the 1978 movies). Then it comes back toward the city around the back of Alcatraz.

X-man loved the boat. He also appeared to enjoy the 100 or so French Grandparents that were on a tour and snapping photos every 2 seconds while speaking rapidly in their native tongue. He, of course, being Mr. Social tried to communicate with them in their special language -- Spanish -- Dora and Diego style.

After the boat ride, we went to the Aquarium, which had only one thing going for it -- you got to walk in two tunnels that were under the large tanks. X-man really loved walking through the rays and sharks, but it's not worth the usual price of admission $15.95 for adults and $8.00 for kids 3 and over. (This will be a reoccurring theme, which made me happy I had a City Pass).

After the aquarium, I tried to get X-man to walk back to the Cannery where the Ghiradelli chocolate store is. But when we got there, he declared himself too tired to go on, and we got back on the trolley and rode it back to the hotel. When we got to our stop, X-man was fast asleep in my lap. He stayed asleep for the 1 block I carried him, the elevator ride up to the 9th floor and then he slept for 3 hours on his bed.

On Tuesday, X-man and I went to the Exploratorium to play. Kids 5 and under are free there, but they should raise that number to 7 and under. If your child does not have a firm grasp of reading, it would be difficult to participate in any of the experiments. The one exception was the light and motor areas. X-man was particularly good at playing with light exhibits that required you to use mirrors and prisms. He also naturally put together the electronic connectors to make a battery light up. But there were a lot of older kid school groups there that did not have patience for a 3 year old and pushed him aside, tried to steal his chair out from under him or tried to tattle on him to me.

The pre-school/toddler/baby area was terrible. IT consisted of two couches, a puppet theater with 2 puppets, some waffle blocks and a bead table. If I were traveling with multiple kids, there would not be enough there to keep little kids busy. However, as your child gets older they'll go nuts over the experiments.

After the museum, I drove X-man across the Golden Gate Bridge. We were going to go to Muir Woods for a visit, but in the middle of the bridge I feel little hands reach around my face and announce, "Surprise, Mommy!"

I nearly crapped my pants. Since we rented the car seat from Hertz, we had to choose between a convertible baby seat that maxed out at 40 lbs and 40 inches or upgrade to a booster for kids over 40 lbs and 40 inches. Since X-man is exactly 40 lbs and 40 inches... we had to make a decision. So, we chose the booster. And guess who managed to undo the seatbelt and crawl out of his seat in the middle of the bridge. The first exit on the other side of the bridge is Vista Point. Other families were there to take photos of the city. Me, I was explaining to my kid what would happen if we were in an accident and he wasn't buckled in. If the trip to the hospital didn't scare him, the idea of Mommy going to jail and leaving him unattended appeared to do the trick. We haven't had a problem since. Still, it was enough of a scare that I didn't want to drive any more, so I turned around and took us back to the hotel.

That night we ate out at Chevy's. Where they conveniently have the caloric content of their meals on the menu. Nothing there is really under 1,000 calories. There is, however, a new chicken avocado salad (for 510 calories) that they claim to mix at your table. Yeah -- no. It comes in a bag in the back and the only mixing they do is of the guacamole. No way to separate the chicken and cheese or dressing. When I asked the guy if they could basically bring me a bowl of lettuce the reply was no. So I just shrugged, handed him the menu and said, then I'm not eating anything. It was annoying and stupid. Chevy's now had the honor of being the first place that couldn't help me out with my health needs. So they suck.

Tomorrow: Day 4 -- Hitting the Children's Playground and the San Francisco Zoo before Loosey finally gets time to herself to go shopping and have drinks with an old friend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Family Vacation -- Day 1

We left for California on the 6:45 a.m. flight from Champaign to Chicago on Sunday. I was really worried about getting X-man up and to the airport, as the last time we left that early to go to Philadelphia, he was a complete mess on the short flight.

This time it was light when we woke him, which helped a lot. We got a kid who firmly believes in sleeping when it's dark and waking when it's light. My body agrees with him. He was very excited to pull MacTroll's new cow suitcase all the way to security from the parking lot. When we got into the terminal, MacTroll gasped. In front of us was a brand new X-ray machine for luggage at the airport. Now, MacTroll flies out of Willard every other week. Upon seeing his happy surprise, the TSA agent (who immediately recognized MacTroll) struck up a conversation with him about the new addition. I lead X-man over to the check-in to keep things moving.

Between flights we hung out at the Children's Museum display between the American and United concourses so X-man could play. He ran a lot of sillies out before we boarded our plane. We road in the business class. MacTroll had gotten X-man and I seats at the very back, so X-man couldn't annoy people behind us, and MacTroll got upgraded to the seat in front of X-man in case there was any kicking. I think I annoyed the flight attendant with my constant refusal of food, since I'm on my restrictive diet. I packed a fruit salad, several apples and a couple of the approved Benefit bars for the trip.

X-man didn't sleep the whole flight, which was a tad annoying. He settled down with the iPod to watch Shaun the Sheep for 40 minutes. And the rest of the time he and I were playing space shuttle and cars and coloring together. He was very fond of all the trays he could pull out and put things on.

When we got to San José, we rented a car and drove to visit MacTroll's brother's family in Belmont, Calif. Within 15 minutes of pulling out of the airport, X-man fell asleep. He ended up napping on one of the beds for 2 out of the 3-hour visit. So he didn't get much playing in with his cousins.

Afterward, we drove into the city and checked into the Westin St. Francis. We got a junior suite with points with a rollaway bed. It's an old hotel with smaller rooms that have been updated. But it's close to everything. We walked over to the "show" (WWDC) and then to dinner at a California Pizza Kitchen (because I can eat there) and had dinner with one of MacTroll's colleagues from D.C. Then we played at he Yerba Buena Play Place, which had a number of large slides, a huge sand and water table and a climbing area.

Coming up: Day 2 and Day 3 -- Trolley ride to Fisherman's Wharf, the 3-hour nap and why I hate Chevy's.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Loosey is ever so pleased

Turns out I didn't break the house! It broke itself. There's a plumbing issue inside the wall on the inside of the house  in the basement caused by a faulty connection. This has raised my mood considerably and has made me feel not so much like a jinx. 

The other good item today is that my credit card was $700 less than I was assuming it was going to be. 

On a more random note, I have a small suitcase filled with only HMR food products to take with me on my trip. Since I'll be consuming them all in the hotel, I'll have room for souvenirs! I'm still happy we're flying first because we get two free checked bags per person. Hooray for airline miles.

Of course, if the airline loses my bag o' food wrapped in plastic bags, just in case, I'll have to go completely bunny rabbit -- but in california that shouldn't be a problem. :-)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I still enjoy dog slobber

I just got back from a 60-minute walk with Rileybug and SuperCooper. When I was filling up Coop's water bucket, I bent over to turn off the hose. And was met by a warm nose and a giant slobbery kiss.

I love big, doofy dogs. They crack me up. 

As for my medium, neurotic, brown dog. He feels like he's gotten his physical activity for the day and is belly down on the tile floor. Now I get to have something to drink and a snack, pick up my living room and vacuum a bit, but really I just want to nap. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Balance of the Universe

GOOD: I found my address book that was missing for two months today. MacTroll said he saw it on his desk sometime around the time it went missing. Apparently he took it off, threw it on a bookshelf in his office with a bunch of Economists on it. I went in looking for a small box of thumbtacks today and found it. 

BAD: The top layer of X-man's baby pool has an air leak. I think we'll squeak by for a while with it. The bottom part still holds plenty of water, and if I blow it up, it stays that way for at least a day, but still. Something else on the chopping list.

GOOD: I called Kleenrite to have them come clean the stairs and hallway up to the second floor and to see about cleaning the basement before KTDID comes to stay with us for a bit this summer. I even remembered to use my free coupon from the Expo for $70 worth of free cleaning.

BAD: I forgot to turn off the sprinkler that was watering the new sod by the gate. Apparently the hose wasn't connected well, and there's a leak that ran down the side of our house... and somehow found it's way into the basement so MacTroll says there's a bit of a pucker in the ceiling. 

GOOD: I'm .4 lbs shy of losing 40 lbs in 15 weeks through the Carle Weight Management program.

BAD: I found mouse poop in a food cupboard. And spent a lot of time wiping everything down and will be investing in hard plastic wear for certain items.

GOOD: The mousetrap in the basement caught a mouse.

BAD: The breadmaker MacTroll's been keeping in the shelf for three years, made it's sixth loaf of bread in two years that didn't really rise, got stuck in the pan and didn't taste good. I've considered it dead and gone and will be taking it to the next electronics recycling collection.

GOOD: I cleaned out X-man's toy bins in the basement and his room, as well as his drawers and took items to both our Family Group Kid Stuff Swap and to All Things Kids. I also cleaned out my closet and put out of season and old clothing items in a bag to take to the clothing recycling bins. I have a bag to run to Transitions at Lincoln Square Mall tomorrow.

BAD: X-man didn't fall asleep until almost 10:30 p.m.

GOOD: I walked for 45 minutes with MacTroll, Rileybug and SuperCooper this morning. 

BAD: I've had hay fever all day.