Friday, July 31, 2009

1 week of non-weight bearing down -- 1 week to go

X-man has officially been off his leg for a week. Noticeably different is the fact that I can cook a dinner without having to keep an ear on the front door. He occasionally likes to unlock the deadbolt and go out to say hi to our neighbors. 

Also noticeably different -- that I am not allowed to wander far or for long periods of time. "Mommy, come play with me?" And I do, a lot. But sometimes Mommy needs to pee. Sometimes she needs to go for her morning run. Sometimes she needs to make dinner and clean up the kitchen. My mom is here visiting for the weekend. She had scheduled it last April. So she brought him some board games like Hi-Ho Cheery-o! She also brought him some large foam lacing beads that he is currently in love with, but for some reason, can't stop putting them in his mouth. My usually active boy gets cranky without a physical outlet. He's taken to trying to slide headfirst off the couch and holding himself by his arms upside down until he shouts for Superman (i.e. Mommy) to save him.

Tomorrow, the plan is for me to make breakfast, then take Riley to the Dog Wash at Prospect Bank ($12 per dog wash. All the money goes directly to the Champaign County Humane Society and Prospect Bank (corner of Kirby and Prospect) will match the $12 contribution). Afterwards, I will be bringing Riley home and taking the Red Wagon and my mom to the Farmer's Market. 

At 3:30 p.m., we're headed over to Prairie Farm, which made it on my list of some of the few things kids in a wagon can go to and see things.

Today, he was scooting around the floor of the library playing while I got us some new books and movies. We also went on a Field Trip to Marble Slab Creamery with his pre-school class, where his attendance made quite the stir. The Tigers drew X-man a get well card that I plan on hanging up in his room. Some of the quotes are just too adorable not to stare at for the next several months. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

X-man-2 Loosey - 0

Usually, when X-man drops something from the table and whines about it, I tell him he's a big boy and to get it himself. Clearly that doesn't work when his left leg is in a full cast and resting on the chair next to him. In the course of the last 20 minutes, I have picked up his Dora fork no less than 7 times. 

I guess I should be happy that he's at least whining please when he asks me to get it -- or something.

From the Front Lines

It's 2:38 a.m. do you know if your child is writhing around in discomfort screaming and crying?

I do. I was on sleeping duty last night, so MacTroll has it tonight. But about 40 minutes ago, X-man woke up demanding ice for his leg (which doesn't work in the cast, but appeared to help him in the splint) and band-aids. My husband, wanting to help X-man go back to sleep, was running around the house like a mad man looking for band-aids -- hoping the symbolic gesture would make X-man happy.

But in reality, besides administering his Motrin and trying to get him to keep his cast propped up (which he won't allow) there's not much we can do for him. He's a stomach sleeper, which is a position that is pretty much impossible. So he just keeps turning around in bed, whimpering, crying, demanding ice, trying to cover himself in soft blankets and generally freaking out.

I was in the room for a while, but I served no purpose. He's not in a place where he can listen or be reasoned with, and he's getting old enough to realize that mommy's hugs and kisses don't appear to make all pain go away. He's mad with fatigue. Night is day. Day is night. Now I'm in my room listening, and I know there's no way I can get to sleep with him crying out like this. I'd trade places with him in a second, if I could. 

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Kids books that crack me up

I worked in a children's section of a library from 15-20 and then again for a year in 2004. I loved it. It's still one of my most favorite jobs. 

So today while I was at Champaign Public Library perusing materials to take home to my bed ridden X-man, I came across a series of books in the "new book" section for children that made me chuckle.

With titles like: 

-- You Wouldn't Want to be an American Colonist: A Settlement You'd Rather Not Start (with a photo of John Smith shielding himself with the body of his Native American guide from arrows shot at him from other Native Americans)

You get the point. It made me laugh because in my lifetime there's been a switch in teaching history. When I was in fifth grade Columbus did no wrong. He was a great man who we owed for finding our country. The colonists brought all kinds of good things to the Native Americans -- and famine was taught just as something existed back then -- not as a slew of illnesses that white man brought with them. 

I like a balance approach to my history. A little -- "aren't we glad so and so did this -- but oh my goodness, was that an insane, unstable and bizarre way to do it."

MacTroll likes learning about the "oopses" in history, too. 

Anyway, this series is supposed to be for ages 9-12. But I liked the realism of the comic-esque illustrations, and the brutal honesty of the text. 

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Tales from the Couch

Well, here he is surrounded in his toys, eating the movie popcorn and perusing the new Handy Manny book that Roger Rogers brought over. He spent last night on the couch, with MacTroll on a mat on the floor. But his Motrin wore off around 4 a.m., and he begged to go to his bed. So, MacTroll brought him up and I got him more Motrin and more ice for his leg and held him until he whimpered and moaned himself back to sleep. I stayed with him until he woke up at 6:30 a.m. and then got my laptop so he could watch some Backyardigans in bed, followed by a tray of snacks for breakfast (syrup or cereal in bed didn't seem like a good idea for a 3 year old).

I ran to the store to figure out more snack-like items that weren't entirely empty calories (I think I did okay with the new Clif organic fruit twists, whole wheat fish crackers, bananas, grapes and some low-fat/low-calorie cheese sticks). There was this huge part of me that kept wanting to put ice cream or candy or "special" items in the cart. I seriously had huge resistance issues. In the end, I decided I'd spoil him by getting him something new to "do" rather than something to eat (and as a food addict, you know that was like a novel idea for me). So I picked him up a Leapster 2 with a Backyardigans game. It had been on my X-mas suggestion list for relatives, but if he's going to be semi restricted for the next month or so, really -- I'm okay with it. It might be the one thing that helps me keep my sanity.

Because here's my problem. Some kids are entirely happy being indoors most of the time, some are happy with an even balance, if it were up to my kid he'd be hitting balls off his tee and riding his bike and climbing at the park every single hour of every single day. He gets bored inside. He gets bored with TV. And keeping him still is rough. See those bats in  the photo -- he knows he can't walk. But he still wants to lie on the couch and have you pitch him balls to swing at. 

Sans blague.

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Big Boo Boo

X-man broke his leg today playing ball with pre-schoolers in the park. If you come visit him he'll tell you about his "accident." We go to ortho on Monday, but I'm going to give a ring to peds tomorrow just to touch base with his pediatrician. Right now we're trying to keep him from taking off the temporary cast and keep him off of the leg. 

Thursday, July 23, 2009

X-man 1, Mom 0

Today, I did a parenting marathon. I fed X-man breakfast and drove him to D-town to go to Scovill Zoo. We were there for 2.5 hours. We did lunch in Mount Zion at Culver's and then I drove him the hour home. 

Once we got home, I made myself lunch while I put on the TV for X-man to watch. He sighed, came over to me as I'm about to start consuming my lasagna and said, "Let's go outside and play baseball."

I managed to get enough reprieve that he allowed me to take 5 minutes to eat my lunch. Then we went outside. We played t-ball, tag, dug up two potatoes, pretended to be builders, in the sand box, out of the sand box, filled up the baby pool, road bikes, played soccer, played basketball, watered the neighbors' plants, played Legos... it was NON-stop. At 4:30 p.m. KTDID got home. She agreed to watch X-man while I ran out and picked up SuperCooper some dog food (Welcome to our new super neighbor, CinderElla, who might have been a bit late to the ball, but arrived this evening). 

Then we had twice monthly potluck at my house, so I put some chicken and turkey dogs on the grill. He had 2.5 hours of uninterrupted play time with friends. Then he played with me for 30 minute before taking a 30-minute bath... and watching 30 minutes of How It's Made. We read 3 stories, made it through 2 Superman stories before he announced he was tired and was going to sleep on his sleeping bag on the floor. He was out at 9:30 p.m.

The fact that he had to do ALL of those things to go to bed on time completely freaks me out. Where does that energy come from, and can I tap into it somehow, because by 4:30 I was exhausted. Tomorrow he's going back to school. And why is it having 5 three-year olds at the same time is easier than one? I guess because they entertain themselves or at least each other?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

But I look so pretty -- But it would be so stupid

Today, I went shopping for a few things. My old fitness clothes are starting to fall off, so I had to get new ones. I had a 30 percent off coupon for Kohl's so I wandered in to find a mountain of sales. I got some pants, a Nike shirt and a hoodie for me (with extra long arms that have thumbholes in them -- my fave). Shopping is still an adventure for me. It's like playing the, "What size am I?" game. In stretchy cotton/spandex blends I went from an XL to a M. 

Then I went to Bergner's because they are currently the only place in town to carry Wacoal's B.Tempted underwear line. I got a flyer from Confidentially Yours that it's coming soon, but I was already at the mall, so I thought I'd try them out. I LOVED them. They were much cheaper than the traditional Wacoal's ($20-50 cheaper), and had a better look to them. The ones I got were unlined because I'm not a huge fan of the t-shirt bra. And really, what makes a girl happier than having underwear that fits her properly? 

Apparently, a dress. I was walking by a rack of sale items (some dresses were 70 percent off), and I spied a blue one by Sandra Darren, whom I had never heard of before, but it was pretty, on sale, it wasn't super dressy and it had a big tag on it that says, "Yes, I'm WASHABLE." 

I have a high school reunion coming up and although it's completely a) not normal for me to go to a reunion or b) for me to wear a dress, I was curious. So, I tried it on. And I loved it. Except I think in another few pounds the size 12 I tried on will be too big

Yes, you read that right. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I think tomorrow, if I'm feeling down, I might run up there with a pair of dress shoes and try it on again. I mean, the lady on the corner with the alterations business could always take it in, right? They didn't have a size smaller than the 12 available -- well, okay there was a 6, I think, but, um, yeah, that's too small for me. 

At this point, I feel like buying any nice clothes is just a waste of money and stupid. But I looked so, so pretty.

Speaking of dresses, I have two more formal size 18W dresses that I should probably Ebay and get out of the closet. Unless I have someone out there that wants to try them on? $50 each and they're yours.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Puppies and Kids

Before X-man turned 2o months, he was a very happy sleeper. We'd place him in his crib, he'd grab his blanket and suck on his pacifier and we'd walk out of the room knowing that in 5 minutes or less our baby would be fast asleep.

The trick was that he'd turn sideways in his crib, and when his legs started jetting out between the bars and pushing against the wall, he stopped being such a happy sleeper. Instead, he started crawling out of his crib. By the time he turned 2, he'd been sleeping in a toddler bed for two months. This solved the problem for a few weeks, because his legs would just dangle out of the bed. But then he grew frustrated with the lack of mobility in his tiny bed.

After 4 weeks of staying with him and holding his hand while he tried to get comfortable in the confined space, my back had had enough. I ordered a big boy bed. And by big, I mean full-size. 

He started sleeping in it about a year ago. And my back has done a lot better than sleeping on a mat on his laminate flooring. He still doesn't just roll over and go to sleep most nights. Instead, his falling asleep sitcho reminds me very much of a puppy. He closes his eyes, hugs his blue blankie and turns sideways in the bed. He horse kicks (non intentionally), he groans, he smacks his head against the pillow and covers his face in his blanket. He kicks a few more times and then in mid-kick -- he falls asleep. 

Tonight was a perfect bedtime. I don't get very many of these that aren't frustrating any more. But at 8:30 p.m. he was upstairs. By 9 p.m. we were done with our stories. And by 9:20 p.m. he was asleep. 

Great job, X-man. I love you. Sleep tight, I'll see you in the morning light.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More Gross Bathrooms

Okay, added to the list of nastiness lately:

-- The Port-a-potty at Scott Park (new lovely playground on the corner of Third and Springfield in Champaign), which had poop in the urinal and looked like some drunken person had sprayed down the inside with urine. X-man opted to pee in the grass. And I swear I haven't stopped washing his hands every 5 minutes since he opened the door to the potty and said, "EWWWWW!"

-- The restrooms at Moraine View State Park on the Black Locust swim beach. Another pee in the grass opportunity.

-- The restrooms at the Dairy Queen at Exit 203 off of Highway 57 in Arcola. You can get the job done, but once you "deal" with the bathroom, you'd rather not eat anything from their kitchen. 

I swear I'm just going to carry around the little toddler potty in the car and some dog poop biodegradable bags, just in case my luck runs out and he's got to poop somewhere in the future.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Warning: The Shit is Spreading

So, on Thursday, per her Facebook status, Roger Rogers had a terrible, no good, very bad day.

Then on Friday, Harley Quinn's Facebook status indicated she was in the middle of complete suckage. 

Well, friends, I'm here to tell you that today is my day for the holy hell of annoyance, frustration, anger and WTF craziness.

It's like some old timers war story... "It started so well. It was a beautiful cool day..." I swear there really is a Hellmouth. Sigh. 

Anyway, as it goes, X-man was excited about going to Arthur this a.m. to buy some baked goods at the 3rd Saturday Market in Arthur.

He told us at the exit for Arthur off 57 that he needed to go poopy. So I pulled into the parking lot of the DQ, where X-man started screaming that he didn't want to use the potty and he didn't have to go poopy. I learned my lesson a couple weeks ago when KTDID and I drove him to the aquarium and he said he had to pee but as soon as I got on the exit he said he didn't have to and told me not to go to the McDonald's -- and then five minutes later peed his pants. So, this time, I pulled over and MacTroll tried to take him in to use the restroom. He wouldn't have it. So I said I had to pee, too, and we'd all use the potty at the same time.

In the bathroom area, X-man wanted to use the bathroom by himself. I'm all cool with him in his own stall, but not alone in the bathroom. He didn't want MacTroll to go with him -- "No bathroom for you, Daddy! You stay here! Mommy go there."

MacTroll waited until he was in the stall with the door closed and then snuck in to observe. X-man peed standing up, then turned around and climbed up to go poopy. Then he wiped and came out to wash his hands. All the while, MacTroll found out that neither of the urinals in the bathroom flushed appropriately. 

The women's bathroom at the DQ in Arcola was disgusting. The women's stalls are so tight that when I shut the door, I could hardly turn around. When I sat to pee, my knees were up against the door. The toilets really needed to be scrubbed (at 9:30 a.m.) and I didn't want anything to do, even with shoes on, with pushing the pedal to make the top of the garbage can come up. 

X-man joined me out in the parking lot, but when MacTroll came out -- X-man demanded that he return to the bathroom to go poopy, too.

When we finally got on our way towards Arthur, I had high hopes for wooden toys, custom chairs, tables, boxes, droves of baked goods, etc. But no. Apparently, those folks must abandon their own town on Saturday to go to other larger cities (Urbana) to sell their goods, because what we found were 1970's like hand towels, a table with 6 old books on it, two bakers with mostly white bread and a few jars of honey and some WWF (Yes, like vintage WWE) paraphernalia. It was very disappointing.

About 3 minutes before we walked into the U of I Extension building where the market takes place, X-man started to get a little loud. Arthur is a very sleepy town. And people started staring at his loudness. I didn't mind when it was just him counting cars. I mean -- at least he can count, right? But when we went in the building and saw what was available at 10 a.m., MacTroll and I immediately went quiet. "Well, maybe we'll just peruse downtown and end up at that playground," I offered. MacTroll nodded.

We walked out of the building and X-man demanded to be carried. I said, "No." Then I couldn't remember if we'd locked the door on the car, so MacTroll ran back to check. But X-man grabbed onto him and screamed at him, "NO! You must hold my hand!" Even though we were going to wait by the sidewalk. Then the meltdown started -- I pointed out that the park was 2 blocks away and we could go there first. I got hit and he screamed in my face. MacTroll came back and tried to distract him and put him on his shoulders. 

X-man said he wanted a snack. I pointed to the bakery down the street -- and he started screaming about how he didn't want to go to the baker. "The baker is closed!" You can't take a kid like this into a restaurant. So I told him his options were to go to the bakery or go home and the choice put him into complete disarray. I took him from MacTroll and tried to talk to him. He screamed to be put down. Then he screamed to be picked up. People were still staring. I was embarrassed. I looked at MacTroll and said, "We're done. Back to the car." 

MacTroll tried to usher X-man, but he tried to run away from him toward the park. So I picked X-man up and got hit again. I told him hitting was not nice, but he was too far into the tantrum. No distraction or logic was working. He was screaming and lunging to hurt me. He tried to bite my arm. I turned him over my shoulder in a firefighter carry and lugged him back to the car. I put him in his carseat buckled him in and got in to drive. He kicked my seat repeatedly screaming that he wanted to go this way or that way. Anyway but the way I was going.

I asked him to try to take a breath and calm down and talk to us. MacTroll tried to take over that part -- and instantly got screamed at. "Don't talk to me, Daddy! Turn around!"

Then he told me that I was happy. I was happy -- because he was sad. And the kid might have just taken a sword and shoved it through the back of my car seat and through my chest. Any discussion about how sad I was that he was sad went unheard. 

So we drove back home with X-man in some stage of screaming, whimpering or crying all the way to Savoy. And I ran off to the Urbana Farmer's Market to try and salvage my morning. But at 11:30 a lot of the vendors are gone. And if they aren't gone, the stuff I wanted is LONG gone. I had promised MacTroll a loaf of bread, so I wandered into the Co-op. But it was full of people, and I hadn't been there since they moved from the old location and the line was long -- and I didn't want to have to deal with sorting out my member/owner status because I was starting to feel dizzy and needed lunch. So I left and wandered down to Mirabelle's for the bread.

On the way to Mirabelle's, I stopped at Heel to Toe. It's having their summer sale for anyone interested in discounted Birks or other sandals. Nothing in a size 41 that I liked. So I got to Mirabelle's and got a garlic loaf and walked back to my car. 

When I got home, I found out that the additional escrow money I had sent Chase to cover my property taxes in August (because I'm one of those people who believes in having money in an account so people can pay bills on time) got screwed. The bank apparently couldn't do the math to sort out the correct escrow payment when they gave me my mortgage 2 years ago...and now they'd taken the money I'd sent them and  apparently just applied it to two complete payments (i.e. interest in Chase's hands). So I had to call and straighten that out, which was annoying because they told me that by filling in the "Additional Escrow" box on my payment form, I had done something unusual for their customers. I guess the "usual" thing to do is to just let Chase make the payment -- even if my account doesn't have the money in it and then they can do an "escrow review" and increase my monthly payment to the correct amount. Um... shouldn't they have done that appropriately on the front end before I bought my house? 

What made it worse was that on my new statement it says that if they're "unclear" as to where I'd like the money to go, they'll pay off any "late bills or service charges" with my check and then hold the money and contact you to see where you'd like to put it. Um, if that's their policy, why didn't they do it? Instead they just rotated it forward -- but I guess the extra escrow payment area wasn't clear enough to whomever processed my check.

Then X-man got mad because MacTroll wouldn't let him play with the hose -- so he peed his pants just to show MacTroll who's boss. He went inside and dumped out his Lego bin and played quietly for a few minutes. Then he had to poop, and he made it to the potty, but he had a dingleberry, which he didn't realize until he stood up over my newly cleaned carpet and let it drop to the floor, it was so nice that it happened in the middle of me trying to finally eat lunch.

Then X-man fought me over having to wash his hands after he touched his poopy bottom.

So now I've  retreated to my bedroom. I'm seriously thinking of blockading the door and just staying here until the damn thing burns down and I'm trapped in it. 

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Beauty of Chainlink

Growing up we had a chainlink fence around our backyard. You didn't notice it much though because our house was built 50 years or so before we lived there. Thus, trees, shrubs, etc., had grown around the perimeter of the yard. When you looked out back, all you saw were trees and bushes. It worked, because the neighbors also had chainlink fences. And this was before they appeared to come in "normal" households colors (like green and black). 

Today, while I was walking around Prairie Fields I noticed that everyone had a different kind of fence. Some were chainlink. When we moved there, we had a treated wood fence. Four years later Roger Rogers and her family decided to put a cedar one up, which began one of the largest suburban discussions -- do you build on all 4 sides of the yard? Or do you just build on the 3 sides that are completely unfenced and not build on your neighbor's side -- because there's already a fence side there?

If you do that, then you're looking at inconsistencies in the backyard, because, undoubtably, you won't be picking the same style or color fence. OCD folks are cringing at the thought.

But if you build a 4th wall smack up against the neighbors' neither of you can care for your fence or restain it without meddling with the other's fence.

Roger Rogers ultimately decided to build the side about 2.5 feet away from our fence, to allow care for both fences and to the excitement of neighborhood kids everywhere, the ability for them to run between yards to get to the playground faster. The space is also the exact width of her lawn mower. :-) But not everyone makes these choices for whatever reason.

To some people a fence is a fence is a fence. To others, it's extra cash... but to me all the fence observations reminded me of long ago summer times when I could scale the 5' tall, chainlink fence that divided my house from Daniel Koenings' on my way to a playdate. We'd play G.I. Joe in the backyard, hit baseballs, watch movies we probably shouldn't have been watching (like Halloween) and ate food I never should have been eating (my mom didn't buy sugared cereal). Those fences were everywhere and served much more of a function (to keep little tiny kids and pets in) than as decoration. It was a time before bad fence versus good fence, ugly fence versus pretty fence...

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Stories about summer the way it's supposed to be

1) Right now there are three children in the open lot behind my house playing with dirt and rocks. They're new to the neighborhood, and they're outside a lot during the day. They look around 10, 8 and 3 years of age. As I've done yard work this week, I've seen them out running in the sprinkler, catching lightning bugs and piling onto a large skateboard as they soar down the driveway. They were so cute walking across the lots. Big kid on either side of little brother, holding both of his hands so he didn't fall down in the weeds or dirt.

Their mother and father are never very far away. Right now, the mother has just joined her children to wrangle them back to the house. English is a second language, but I'm not sure what their first language is. It sounds Eastern European. Either way, I focus on them in a different way than I focus on X-man when we're outside. When we're outside, we're riding bikes, drawing with chalk or in the sandbox. It's usually just X-man and me and I'm engaged in the summer play, so I don't really get a chance to sit back and enjoy his contentment and love for being outdoors exploring and getting dirty. 

I remember running around the neighborhood with my pals when I was younger, and I'm loving the fact that sometime all too soon, X-man will be running around the neighborhood with a group of kids exploring and looking out for each other, just like these siblings are. 

2) We took X-man down to Tolono to the new Double Dip last night. It's all soft serve ice cream. X-man's child's-sized cup of vanilla was 50 cents, so we splurged had them add some M&Ms. MacTroll's small hot fudge sundae was $2. It was busy but not insane. But it felt nice to share a table with another family and eat some ice cream on a lovely summer evening. I think we'll be going back a few more times this summer. I'm assuming it'll be a seasonal business like Jarling's. 

3) Last night I was hanging out with SuperShanna, delivering a cucumber from our garden, and watching X-man and WonderGirl ride bikes and a woman pulled up. At first we got nervous, like she was there to sell us something (I hate door-to-door solicitations). But she introduced herself as new to Prairie Fields, and asked about some of the scrap cedar that SuperShawn had from building his fence. In a flash, Shawn was measuring out some pieces for her and putting them in her car so she could make them into garden boxes. We went over our names again, and now I'll have a new friend to wave at when I walk in the mornings. 

4) Wet Dogs. We had an incident in the neighborhood on Sunday. Apparently, the coyotes decided to make a swing through the empty lots while SuperShanna was walking her Lab, Cooper. Cooper was on a leash, or he would have taken off after the coyote. But the insane noises that came from Cooper seeing the coyote and the coyote seeing Cooper were pretty impressive. Anyway, yesterday, KTDID and I tried to take our dogs on the usual 3-mile walk (which has gone from a 60-minute work out to a 48-minute workout, as I've progressed in speed over the summer) but when we got to the empty lot two doors down from my house, her dog, Zoe put her nose in the air and immediately sat down. Two sniffs later and she was backtracking dragging KTDID with her. She was clearly spooked. We're going to guess it was the smell of coyote urine.

So, we tried to entice Z0e to go into Dana Colbert park on the other side of our house. No one was there, so when we got close to the lake, we let the dogs off leash for a little bit. And Riley immediately jumped in the lake after some fish and started swimming around. Zoe stood with her feet in the water (a southern California dog) bewildered at still water. Apparently, her off-leash dog park was on a beach, where the waves rolled in and dogs just ran up and down the surf. 

The two of them got a nice bunch sprints and jogs and sniffs, and we walked up and down the hill a bit, so they slept all afternoon yesterday. 

5) I finally planted lilies on the west side of my fence. I spent all afternoon yesterday weeding and digging and watering. It looks MUCH better. I still have to put down mulch and weed under where our bench is going to sit, but I'm progressing slowly. I couldn't find any peony bushes that I liked any more, so I'm going to order them with my fall bulbs and put them in this October. Then I should be done... yeah, right. :-)

Things that make me go MMMM

Target clerk: "As soon as we save up enough money my boyfriend and I are out of this state. They don't let you do anything here."
Target customer: "What can't you do in Illinois?"
Target clerk: "Carried concealed and set off class C fireworks! We're moving to Alabama where people are really free as soon as we can."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Review of the Shedd Aquarium

On Wednesday, KTDID and I took X-man up to Shedd Aquarium to check out updates they made. MacTroll and I had taken X-man a year and a half ago when I had participated in the "Be a Trainer for the Day" program. Back then, we just thought it was nice that we could push him up to exhibits in a stroller because so many of the exhibits are floor to ceiling, which makes them very enjoyable for people of all sizes, but they have worked hard to make all the exhibits more kid friendly.

My sister works at Shedd, so she was able to use her employee perks to get us in free. Otherwise it would cost $24.95 for an adult and $17.95 for a child (ages 3-11). I do recommend that rather than going up for a day trip. It might be nicer to do a long weekend in Chicago and buy the Citypass, so you can see so many more things at a much cheaper price. Since the new Shedd exhibits just opened last week, the aquarium is very crowded. Crazy crowded. If you go, it's better to get there right when they open and to order tickets through Ticketmaster and have them held at the will call box. The line to buy tickets at the Shedd was well over an hour wait, and therefore, not child friendly. There was nothing to entertain the kiddos as their families moved through the line from outside in the rain (at least they had a covered area) and into the entrance of the aquarium. Will call took about 15 minutes -- much better.
We started our trip in the new Polar Play Zone, a key part to the renovations. The PPZ is underneath where the main pools are for the dolphins and the belugas. It also houses the Penguin exhibit. Old displays were removed and new kid-friendly ones were installed, including a tide pool touching area (one with real living sea life for gentler kids and one for model sea life for less gentle or nervous children), a penguin dress up area complete with eggs for kids to hold on their feet and faux ice slides to go down, as well as a submarine with lots of buttons to push, gears to turn and periscopes with real polar life to look at. X-man loved the submarine because it came with "swim diver" tanks.

The areas looking into the marine animal pools also had low-to-the ground, wide ledges for kids to sit on and watch the animals come by. X-man spent a lot of time being very observant of the dolphins swimming.

He was also very fascinated by the Wild Reef exhibit. You take an elevator down into the exhibit, which is a bit chilly, but is pretty much like descending into a giant tank. You're surrounded by sea life on two sides, but you can also walk on a glass floor and look down at a group of rays and look up at the ceiling and see fish swimming over you. This exhibit also housed some pretty exciting sharks and a wave tank.

X-man has entered a new phase. We seem to be moving on from our obsession with air travel and space travel and obsessing over the world under the sea. The Shedd was a great trip for us, but my sister suggests going after Labor Day and before Thanksgiving when the crowds have slowed down. We decided against going to see the new dolphin show and the 4-D movies because of the crowds. And truthfully, we were there from 11 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and by the time we walked back to the parking deck (right next to Soldier Field -- parking is $16) X-man was very tired. He was asleep 20 minutes later and slept the 2 1/2 hours back to Champaign.

One really great improvement at Shedd, besides the exhibits, was that they added the BubbleNet Café. It has the typical fried fair and a Pizza Hut, but it also has a variety of salads, fresh fruit, yogurt and more healthy options. There are also new bathrooms EVERYWHERE now. And for a mother that has a child that is potty training I was really grateful. The one time we stopped to use the potty, X-man was so excited he wouldn't let me into the stall. "I'm a big boy!" he said rushing in and locking the door.

He went in, used the potty, flushed the toilet, came out, pushed the special step-up for kids down, washed his hands and put them under the really loud hand dryers that were exceptionally fast working and walked out the bathroom door -- like he was a pro. 

Overall, it was a great way to spend a day with my boy. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why I'm Going to be a Bitch All Day

1) Having a toddler run in my room at 3 a.m., hit me on the shoulders, scream in my face, climb over me into bed and then proceed on kicking me and shouting, "Move! Move! Move!" 

2) Joel left to go to D.C. until Thursday after being at a 4-day wedding last Thursday to Sunday. 

3) I had a bad doctor's appointment yesterday, where I basically have come to the conclusion that pregnancy really does more harm to a woman's body than good when I'm still having complications 3 years later. But, of course, "everyone else" loves being pregnant or wants to get pregnant... so, I'm guessing there's just something inherently wrong with me. Ironically, if I was still sedentary and 250 lbs., I would have had no idea there was something wrong with me. And I always thought when you lost weight you were supposed to prevent health issues, not find new ones.

4) I signed up for a free 4-week trial of the News-Gazette because I felt guilty. Being a person who was married to a journalist and worked with a journalist, I felt like I should give my local newspaper a try -- and the 4 weeks gives me time to consider the subscription price. With the exception of Sunday there are so actually few LOCAL stories being written that are printed in the paper (a feature on bathing suit choices on the July 4th issue -- um, most bathing suits are on their way out of stores by July 4th...) that it gives me a decidingly icky feeling. Seriously. They don't give you anything you can't find on Yahoo news that comes over AP. Why would anyone pay for that? They've gotta keep it local -- and heavily so, but I guess that requires not laying off newsroom workforce, and apparently, that's a big issues these days.

5) I have a 3-year old still sitting at the breakfast table because he refuses to get dressed. He was due at school 12 minutes ago. It's going to be an ugly battle, and I just don't feel like it. Of course, when his only method of communicating with me this morning is to scream in my face and then not listen to a word I'm telling him -- it doesn't make me feel real excited about having any interaction with him. But maybe that was his plan all along.

Update: It's 12:44 p.m. and I just managed to get an aura -- migraine is following. So I'm gong to take a nap and sleep it off before I get nauseated and vomit.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The New Me

I've been doing the Weight Management program at Carle Clinic for 20 weeks this Tuesday.  I look in the mirror and I notice some differences but emotionally I feel exactly the same, but apparently the rest of the world thinks I look a lot different.

My neighbor SuperShanna's Mom had trouble recognizing me in Gymboree. Then last Thursday I had a meet up group over to Tie Dye shirts and Harley Quinn paid me a sweet compliment. "I pulled up and thought, 'Who is that lady'?" 

And I swear when I went to WWDC in California last month, there were a few people who hadn't seen me in a while that visibly crinkled up their foreheads wondering why I was so excited to see them when they had no idea who I was. 

I'm wondering if this is my new superpower: Shapeshifter without surgery... I'm fat, I'm thin, I'm fat, I'm thin. I suddenly feel like Elizabeth Taylor. :-P

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rainy, rainy, rainy day

One good thing about rainy days is that it makes people sleep longer in our house. I slept until just after 8:30 a.m. X-man woke up around 9:15 a.m. He even used his potty before coming to get me up -- and managed to have a dry diaper all last night! We went into his room and played with his Leap Pad. Then we built words with a puzzle. Then we rearranged the tracks/roads on his train table. 

Around 10:30 a.m. we wandered downstairs for breakfast. Oatmeal and fresh fruit for me. A Multi-grain waffle with 2 veggie sausages and fresh fruit for him. While we ate we watched some Little Einsteins before getting in the car and heading out to petsit, then to the Bob the Builder store where I had to pick up rechargeable batteries, new recycle bins and new hose holders. Our plastic ones bit the bullet. So I got metal ones, which should last longer, hypothetically. 

Right now, X-man is playing his Sesame Street computer game. I just organized the garage so we can fit 3 cars in it and redid the recycling. 

I think we may rent or watch a movie after he's done with his game, pop some popcorn and chill out. It's a day made for doing laundry. If the fireworks are still a go, but it rains, I think we'll stay home and try again next year. If it stops raining, we'll get all bundled up in our rain gear and head out. 

Right now, I really feel like a nap. But that requires someone else to go down. And since he slept for 2 hours yesterday afternoon, and from 10 p.m. until 9 a.m. this morning... I'm thinking he's quite awake. 

Friday, July 3, 2009

Extended Family

I moved out of my mom's house 4 weeks after I graduated from college. Out of the 4 years I was in college, I lived at home for one summer, but I worked 2 jobs that summer so was hardly home. We never had a grandparent live with us, and even though my father is the oldest of 4, we really only saw aunts and uncles for major holidays for a few hours. We saw even less of my mother's two siblings. The point being that I've never really had extended family around in my every day life. 

Now that KTDID is returning her Budget rental truck, and all of her possessions are in our basement making kind of an "in-law" suite, it changes the dynamic of the house a bit. I'm about to install a lockable doorhandle to keep X-man out of her area. KTDID has a cat and the apartment is hers -- not to be disrupted by my cats. My cats have been kept out of the basement since my Loosey cat died in February, so that shouldn't be any big deal. She has a lot of storage, a closet and a full bathroom to her disposal, not to mention her own parking area in the garage. 

I am so happy to have her home that I could burst. Somehow I always hated that my best friend barely got to know my favorite person in the whole world -- X-man. And now, she gets to see the delight and the challenge up close and personal. 

As for X-man, he helped carry things to the basement today. And when he couldn't carry things he directed KTDID's family members about where to go. The only thing he is confused about is where KTDID is going to cook her food. When I explain that she'll use our kitchen it crosses the boundary line I'm trying to create that the basement is KTDID's home, and we live upstairs. It, of course, didn't stop him from dragging his doll and crib downstairs. But I'm sure it'll be a work in progress for a while.

In other news, the jackasses at the apartments next to us (I usually find them to be fine neighbors except around the 4th of July) have started setting off fireworks at all hours of the night. Last year they were smart enough to do it over the lake in the park. This year, the dummies just set them off in the middle of the complex. 

In other news, we were supposed to head up to my Dad's on Saturday morning for the holiday, but he currently has the flu with a fever. So, we're going to call him tomorrow a.m. and see how he is. If he's sick, we'll stay here. Which makes me think maybe we'll go to the Monticello fireworks tonight. Should have bought the train ticket, I guess!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Dumping and Running

Today, I was driving from North Prospect out to Mattis, which required me to drive past the smallest fireworks tent I ever did see next to Salt and Light.

I turned my head again to check out Salt and Light and piled up outside their clothing bins were couches that someone had just left. I see similar things at Goodwill when some poor employee or volunteer is trying to sort through the crap that was left behind while they were closed. 

There are bins for clothing recycling at a lot of the local stores around town. It clearly says, "Clothes and Shoes -- ONLY" on the bins. But every once in a while, I see piles of garage sale leftovers abandoned there for the non-profit agency to dispose of.

Here's a clue. If your couch isn't in stellar enough condition to not feel remorse that you're exposing it to random weather, vandalism or what not in the middle of a parking lot-- it's not nice enough to donate. Take that shit to the junkyard yourself. Seriously, don't burden social agencies around town with your garbage. If it is nice enough, call the lovely people at Habitat for Humanity's RESTORE. They may charge you a few bucks to pick it up, but it'll be safe and they'll take it away for you. 

Also, there's an etiquette to donating. Please don't do stuff like donate one shoe of a pair, used underwear or stuff that's stained beyond belief. You might have worn those things -- but that's okay -- they're your stains. You know where they came from. No one wants to wear your oopses. 

I think part of the reason I find this so annoying is that I used to be the person who had to sort through items like this at a local shelter. They were small and didn't have enough room to hold out of season clothing or to hang on to items for too long. The stuff that would come in that was unusable by the residents would get taken to other area organizations who either found homes for our unusable contributions OR sent it straight to the fabric recycling pile where thousands of pounds of clothes make the non-profit a couple hundred dollars.

I know this sounds ungrateful. But agencies spend all kinds of money they don't have on dumping fees to have to get rid of the unwanted items. What's worse is explaining to someone that a rusted out grill with no top that was a wedding present to him in 1964 isn't usable by our organization is a tough job, because clearly the donor is trying to do something nice for your organization -- and they're emotionally attached to the item.

Which begs the question -- do you then take it and quietly dispose of it or do you risk saying no, angering someone into not wanting to support you any more?  And if you say no, will the same grill sit abandoned outside another small social service organizations door two days later as you're running errands? 

Or here's an idea: Hit the YMCA Dump and Run in August. They'll knowingly take everything and sort through it after you leave it tagging some of it to be sold and as much as possible to be recycled. 

All August collections to be held at U of I Stock Pavilion (1402 W. Pennsylvania Ave. in Urbana)

  • August 12 - 14: 9:00am – 4:00pm
  • August 15: 9:00am – 12:00pm

This year's sale will be held at U of I Stock Pavilion (1402 W. Pennsylvania Ave. in Urbana) August 22-23, 2009:

  • Saturday, August 22 from 8am - 5pm ($2 admission)
  • Sunday, August 23 from 11am - 4pm ($3 bag sale; 1/2 price furniture), 4:30-6:00pm (Free sale)

Welcome Back KTDID

Right now as I type this KTDID and her father are on a 3-day journey from Santa Ana, California, to Savoy, Illinois. It's a 2000-mile trek with her dog Zoe and her cat Ella. She's relocating back to Illinois to be closer to friends and family, and I couldn't be more excited. 

She'll be taking up temporary residency at chez Loosey starting tonight. So, if you see me, MacTroll or X-man around town with a brilliant and stunning short-haired brunette, you'll need to introduce yourselves. :-)