Thursday, February 25, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

Eye Candy

Wiggle made his first painting this week. I taped some paper to the dining room table, put him in the tripp trapp, and squirted out some finger paint. He spent the whole time trying to untape the paper from the table. He worked at each piece of tape separately and meticulously pulled them up. Then he swept the paint-filled paper off the table. Somehow, he still managed to do some actual painting, and here is the result.
On the fridge

He also helped me in my cleaning efforts this week. I emptied out the hall closet and purged a good deal of stuff, while Wiggle tried to put things back into bins for me.

He also tried on Daddy's boots.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Resolution Check-Up

Some of you might be wondering how my resolutions are coming along. Some of you might not be. Either way, an update is in order, I think.

Regarding running - I just made it to running in 90 sec bursts this week, so I am waaaayyyy behind on the 8 week plan, but I still have been going to the gym with some regularity and 90 second bursts for 20 minutes is more than I could run a month ago, so I'm still happy with it. Plus, I ran outside today for the first time. 2.16 miles in 32 minutes with a warm-up. I still have a ways to go, but I am happy with it for right now.

I have flossed my teeth every night, except one, since I resolved to do it, and my mouth feels great. I need to make a dentist appointment this week though; that will be the real test.

I haven't been making my bed at all. Not even once. This is an excuse, but my bedroom has been a real disaster and I just couldn't face making the bed and seeing all of the other mess in there at the same time. Part of the whole resolution thing is to recognize those irrational feelings and to realize that even if the rest of the room is a mess, making the bed can still be an actual improvement. Little things count. Now that I've confronted my idiotic thinking about the whole business, I think things will start turning around. Plus, since I realized the bedroom was bothering me so much, I made some time this week to work on it a little. I can see progress. I really need a bed frame though. Seeing the bed on the floor just makes me sad. Do you hear that, Crate and Barrel? Put my dream bed frame on sale right now, so my bed doesn't look sad anymore.

Blog posts? They have still been getting away from me, but now it's more a matter of time than material or inclination. Before I just didn't think about posts until time had gone by. Now, I generally have several posts started, but it takes time to finish them. Maybe I need pictures, or I want to finish in real life the thing I started talking about.

Writing for a blog takes a little more work than writing for yourself because, well, you have an audience, or at least a potential audience. In the past, most of my personal writing was done in the form of journal entries, which read as one long pubescent bitch-session since before I was actually pubescent until well after that time. I would write down the things I was thinking, but didn't dare say aloud or knew I shouldn't say aloud. You know, the overly hurtful or melodramatic things that go through your head when you're angry or upset. No one wants to read that. I have looked back at my journals, and even I don't want to read it. It makes everything in my life sound depressing, and worse it makes me seem petty and annoying, which certainly may be true some of the time, but my journals makes it seem like that's the only way that I am or was.

I guess there are probably some blogs out there that are mainly bitchfests, but I certainly don't read them, and I can't imagine they garner much of an audience in general. I like the blog as a format because it is still personal writing, but since I know people are reading it, I try to keep a balanced view of things that I write about. If C is annoying the crap out of me one day, I might write that we are on each other's last nerves, but I wouldn't write in a way that totally demonizes him because, well, his mom reads this. And my mom. And Wiggle might someday. And I will in the future. The truth is a bigger picture, and in that bigger picture a bad day should read as that, one bad day. I am writing my own history in the present, and therefore I have a choice of how to record it.

Maybe that's the whole point of my resolutions. They are little ways to have a better day, each day. Reminding myself that my days are mainly good, lets me actually see them that way, even on the tough days.

Alright, I think I'm done with my whole Chicken Soup for the Blogosphere thing now.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Fishy Fun

On Thursday, my neighbor, J, and I decided to take the kiddos to the Shedd Aquarium. The had free admission all this week, and we thought we would take them down in the morning and pack a lunch. We figured they would be super-tuckered by the time we got home that there would be naps for everyone.

We were wrong.

Our first mistake was deciding to take the bus. Normally, I would always advocate taking the bus anywhere downtown because parking is uber-expensive. Which is why I suggested we take the bus on Thursday. "It will be no problem," I said. I will use my Chicago Plus Card for both of us; it will be easy.

We got kicked off the bus.

We got on the first bus without incident, and when it came time to transfer, we didn't have to wait long. Smooth sailing. Then, my card didn't seem to want to read for the second fare. The bus driver told me that my card was set up as a 30 day pass and that I could not, therefore, pay for a second rider. I said I already had paid on the first bus, and that this was just the transfer. Plus, I do not, in fact, have a 30 day pass, but instead, I pay by the ride with money that is preloaded on my card. He stopped at the next stop, but I didn't get off, as I was still trying to explain that this was an error. I offered to call the customer service number for the card, so they could say it was ok, but he just stopped at the next stop and said we had to get off. I then called the customer service number, where a very nice man told me that my account was absolutely fine, and was set-up as pay-per-use, just as it should be. We got on the next bus, and the card worked, after a few tries, and some helpful tips in timing my swipe by the bus driver.

I have almost never seen a CTA bus driver ask someone to get off the bus when there is a problem with a card or a fare. They generally just shrug and let you stay on. And not to pull the mother card, but we had two young kids strapped to our backs (who were both asleep, and therefore totally quiet, I might add), and I was carrying a stroller. Not that we should get carte blanche, but come on! And, of course, he was WRONG! All he had to do was make sure that the previous fare was cleared or else the second swipe reads as a transfer instead of a new fare, so actually it was his fault. Gripe, gripe, gripe.

Anyway, we finally made it to the aquarium, where we waited in line for about 25 minutes. After we made it inside, J realized she had lost her phone. Suck! (Luckily, a good samaritan found it and called J's mom to tell her she had it, so the story didn't end badly.)

Finally, we braved the crowds and the severe heat and humidity in the Amazon's Rising exhibit.
Wiggle and J's daughter, Cutie (no, that is not her real name) had fun looking at the big fish and the turtles, but they really had the most fun with each other.
There were hugs.
And trying to escape from hugs.

Mom, I'm hot and hungry.

We spent a little time looking at the big center aquarium with Nickel the floating turtle, and then we went to the lunchroom. Luckily, several elementary school groups were there, so our kids' crumbs and cavorting went largely unnoticed. 

We hopped back on the bus (without incident) and made our way home. Cutie slept in the carrier on the way home, but Wiggle was wide awake, so I thought he'd go down as soon as we got home. Nope. He wasn't tired at all, and Cutie and Wiggle ended up playing for another 45 minutes before he took a short and fitful nap.

Did we have fun? Of course. It was really a blast, but if I were to do it again, I would not go on a free day. It was too crowded especially for little guys (and girls). Wiggle needs to be able to go right up to the glass to see anything, and if there are tons of people around he's just interested in them. Of course, it's fine for him to people watch, but maybe he can do that at the grocery store or Target without two bus rides, a long wait in line, and Amazonian heat.

I think another trip to the nature museum is in order. No crowds and everything is very low-key. Plus, I can drive; parking is free.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

There's a Zoo Out There

The Lincoln Park Zoo, that is. We went up north to meet Uncle B and his friend for some fun this afternoon. Here are the brothers and Wiggle outside the gorilla house.

Normally, we spend a good deal of time in the penguin house, but today the lights were off and an overpowering fish smell was in the air, so today we hung out with the big cats instead. Wiggle kept waving to the tiger who perpetually paces in his tiny cage. The lions often look like they might ignore you if you happened upon them in the wild, as long as their bellies were full, but the tiger always looks like he's waiting to attack at the first opportunity. I, irrationally, hold Wiggle a little tighter when we watch him.

We also had a great time watching the fat beavers. They came right up to the windows and did somersaults for their fans.

Wiggle is trying to get the gibbon's attention, but he is content to ignore the boy.

And for the Wiggle fanatics out there, a little bit of video. After some heavy flirting with a much older little girl (4 or 5), he did a little dancing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Babe Is Becoming a Boy

He started walking. I mean really walking. On Friday night, after a wonderful dinner at our neighbors', he just kept taking a few steps, again and again. He still spends a lot of time crawling because it's faster, but he walks a little bit all of the time, and he walks a little more every day.

He also started clapping. Actually, he's been clapping for months, but it was always palm against the back of his other hand. Last week, he discovered how to clap palm to palm, and he is thrilled with the result. He claps every time he likes something. It's pretty cute.

Today though, he was almost overwhelmingly cute. He finally learned how to hug. First, he hugged a baby doll. Then he hugged me. Then he hugged C's cell phone. Then his sweet potatoes at dinner. He hugs anything and everything he likes. In music class today, we curled up on the floor and pretended to be asleep during a song, and he crawled over and put his head down on my arm to cuddle. He's never done that before, and it almost made me weep, I was so happy.

In other news, my gallstones have acted up three times this week. Besides being painful, the "attacks" happen at night, so I haven't been sleeping very much. Meanwhile, C hasn't been sleeping much because he has an on-campus interview next week, and he's stressing over it. Wiggle has also been up in the middle of the night, but he seems to alternate between inconsolable for no obvious reason and just being up and wanting to play for awhile. Needless to say, we are all a little sleep deprived and worse for wear this week.

Also, I have already missed my "two blog posts a week" mark. Normally, I feel I should blog more, but I don't get around to it. This time I swear, I didn't realize a week had gone by. I should probably pick two days in the week to post regularly, but I don't feel like doing that right now, so I'll just try to be better about it in the near future.

Things will be better next week. Not that they're bad right now, but there's just a lot of background stress to deal with. And right now, my body is dealing with it by sending me into nocturnal pain spasms. The upside is that the way to curb gallstone attacks is to eat right - lots of vegetables and low fat. It's like having my own personal, painful version of Alli. It really is good incentive though. And, of course, exercise helps, so I'm doing that too. I guess I should have figured my body would start fighting back eventually. I'm trying to convince it that I can fight better if I'm well rested. I hope it listens...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My 34th Birthday

Let me just say, if this birthday was indicative of the year as a whole or even of birthdays to come, then bring it on! I had a wonderful day, due in no small part to my wonderful husband. Of course, some great friends and family helped make the day truly special.

First of all, let me say that I had not been expecting a great day because I am sometimes an uncharitable bitch. C, like most husbands, can need some nudging or prodding when it comes to advance planning, and with Wiggle's birthday only 3 days before mine, I hadn't given my birthday a second thought, let alone remind someone else to think about it. Well, it turns out, I needn't have worried this year.

The first treat was staying in bed while C fed and looked after Wiggle in the morning. I got a little extra sleep and finished the book I was reading. Quite an indulgence!

Then we picked up K, with whom C had arranged a girl-time mani/pedi. We took our time picking the right nail color, we gabbed about girly things like eye-cream and facials, and most importantly we relaxed. When we were done, the cold grey Chicago day that greeted me was almost a shock.

And there were presents!

K surprised me with a wonderfully quirky journal, which includes more fill-in-the-blank than actual blank space. An example of its wonderfulness -
"Your day was (only choose one)
( ) a lettuce ( ) an ostrich ( ) a bonus" I think its perfect for me to use right now. In my more recent attempts at journaling, I tend to meander so much that it's neither useful to me now, nor something I would EVER want to read again. This journal is fun to write in now and to read later. She also gave me a wonderful mug with an "A" on it with the statement that she feels mothers gain a new found love for things with their names or initials on them. I totally agree! Whether it's just being surrounded with things with names on them (pens, water bottles, backpacks, hats, etc), or it's a sudden primal desire to mark things as "mine," in defense of the same cry from a toddler, the urge is there. "No, see? It's Mommy's cup. Look, it has Mommy's name on it."

In addition to arranging my delightful day, C also bought me the Perfex pepper mill I have been lusting after for several years. It helped that our previous pepper mill, which C has also bought me as a birthday present many moons ago, had recently conked out. We had been grinding pepper in a mortar and pestle, which is pretty annoying if , like me, you pretty much only like freshly ground pepper. Now, I can and do grind pepper with ease.

I opened boxes from my MIL and my mom in the morning. Wonderful quilting supplies from the former, and a new Coach bag from the latter!

Quilting is the hobby I would like to start, but I needed some equipment before I took the plunge and bought fabric. After I spend some quality time with my new how-to quilting book, I will take a trip to Quiltology Chicago's fabulous quilting resource.

I had mentioned to my mom that I wanted a new handbag, but I never would have guessed what I was getting. Even when C guessed it was a purse by its shape, I was incredulous. What a wonderful surprise! The bag is a great size for my mom needs, but still looks sleek enough to take along to dinner, which is exactly what I did on Saturday night.

Thanks to the generosity of some lovely friends, we were able to go out to dinner too! Branch 27 in West Town. It's been open for a couple of years, but the menu was recently revamped with the hiring of a new chef. It's called Branch 27 because the space used to be a branch of the Chicago public library. The atmosphere was very nice; modern, but cozy. Every table seemed to have some privacy, and the lighting was just right. The menu is dubbed as "new American," and I was intrigued by most of the items. We had heard the cassoulet was very good, but that it was too big for one person, so we opted for a third appetizer instead of a second entree. The first app was mussels with fries and curried aioli. The broth the mussels were in was pretty good (fennel, orange, and coriander), but the mussels themselves were spotty. I hate that feeling when eating mussels of walking through a minefield. "Will this one be really fishy, like that first one? No, it's excellent. What about the next one? Only OK." The next app, chicken fried chicken livers was a big disappointment. Admittedly, it might have partially been me (and C). Although we were very excited by the description, I don't actually eat a lot of liver, so it might have just not been my cup of tea. I like almost all pates, and other liver concoctions though. These just tasted very oily, not liver oily, but not fried in hot enough oil, oily. Either way, we didn't finish it. The last app was a salad of grilled radicchio and shaved brussel sprouts. Delicious, but then again, it would be really hard to go wrong with that combo (in my eyes at least).

The cassoulet arrived at long last, and it was fabulous. Lamb meatballs and merguez sausage. The sausage was the single smokiest tasting thing I have ever eaten, and I loved every bite of it.
There was bread pudding for dessert, which is my absolute favorite.

The best part of the night though was just being out with my wonderful husband and being able to talk and enjoy some alone time.

I am still flying high almost a week later.
Best. Birthday. Ever.

Monday, February 1, 2010