Friday, August 26, 2011

Chicago: So Far...

A quick post from a nearly pitch black hotel room while my little guy catches a nap...

Sunday: This was our travelling day. Our flight left at 1:05 but we were to the airport by 11:00. Way too early for normal travels, but our flight time was in the middle of Ben's nap. We wanted to have time to each lunch and let Ben run around and expel some energy before we asked him to be confined for 3 hours. After we boarded, we were lucky enough to have the gentlemen sitting in our row get to move up to the emergency row, giving us the whole row to ourselves. About a half hour or so into the flight, we had Ben take his nap. He threw a small fit (not too bad and not too long) and then fell asleep for nearly the rest of the flight. He woke up right before we started to land.

Once we landed, we set out to find our bag and hail a taxi to the city. Our original plan was to take the train but we had a stroller, a diaper bag and three suitcases (two smaller that we brought on the plane and one larger that we checked), so we thought managing all that with just 4 hands might be too much.

At the hotel we ran into a bit of a snafu as the company hadn't direct billed the room - so the hotel wanted us to put a rather large hold on our credit card (unfortunately, we didn't have the amount they wanted to hold free) which resulted in some panic on my part. We got it straightened out for the night (thanks, dad) and the rest taken care of the next day.

Dinner at Millers Pub. Fairly fantastic. I had the pastrami rueben and Nick had a meatball sub.

Monday: Nick headed off to the office for training & Ben and I hung out at the hotel. We ventured to CVS for food stuffs and mostly explored the hotel. This was before I found bread so we had lunch at the Lockwood here in the hotel. The hostess adored Ben and kept him entertained for most of lunch. When Nick got in, we headed out to find Millennium Park and dinner. We missed the park (we went the wrong way) and ended up at Bennigan's for dinner. We'd been there before in Florida, but by this time we were hungry and it was getting late.

Tuesday: Nick headed off to the office for training and Ben & I went to Millennium Park. We looked at "the bean" or Cloud Gate as it's officially known, looked at the Crown Fountain, walked over the BP Bridge and back, strolled through Lurie Garden, where Ben tossed in a penny :) and then headed back to the hotel. Ben & I did the pool and played in the room until Nick got back from class. Then we headed out to Lou Malnati's for pizza & back to the hotel for more pool play.

Wednesday: We mostly hung around the hotel this day. We played in the pool, went out side to the bakery on the corner for a snack (blueberry muffin - yum) while the housekeeper cleaned our room and waited for Nick to come back.

Wednesday sort of sucked - all the traveling and everything being different sort of all hit Ben at once and he wasn't in a good mood, which made me be not in a great mood. For dinner we went to Elephant & Castle (really fantastic fish & chips) and then all three of us went to Millennium Park and we let Ben splash around at the Crown Fountain.

Thursday: Ben & I headed out to the Chicago Library and explored the children's floor. Not as much to do as I had hoped - the library at home as a play area in the kids section with toys and such, so I sort of expected something like that at this one. Nope, but they did have a fairly cool dollhouse that Ben really liked looking at (and when he discovered he could press the button to make the lights go on, he liked it even more). After that, we went to Barnes & Noble and I bought him an Elmo book. When Nick got back, we went to the Rainforest Cafe which I thought he would love. And he did. Til the gorillas "came to life" and started thumping their chests. Then he sobbed. Once we calmed him down, there was a "thunderstorm" that made him lose it again. Dinner was fast. :) He did love looking at all the fish in the fish tanks, so a must do for the weekend is the aquarium. After dinner, we met up with my dad, which arrive last night. He's here for the company meeting today and then to do some training for part of next week. Nick & my dad headed out to a bar to meet up with other Boise office guys and Ben & I went back to the hotel for sleeps.

(these guys ruined dinner)

Friday: Ben & I finally found a park with a playground, so we did that this morning. He had a great time chasing the birds, sliding and asking to swing but refusing to sit on the swing (what a goof). Then we came back for lunch and now he's napping. I'm not sure that we'll do anything tonight - the company meeting goes til 5:00 followed by a reception at Soldier Field. Originally we thought that Ben & I could join them for the reception but Nick learned yesterday that it's employees only.

This weekend we're hoping to do Navy Pier and the aquarium. I'm not sure what else we'll have time (or money) to fit in. I love all the different things a big city has to offer, but I'm spoiled by the low (and often times free) price of Boise attractions. The river tour is $35 per person and Ben has to have a ticket, and there are no discounted fares for kids. So that's $105 to do the river tour. Eep.

The hotel is gorgeous. It's huge and old and ornate and so pretty. This means our rooms are also small (older hotel - smaller rooms and we have a fairly basic room) and it's lacking a few amenities. I had anticipated having a fridge and microwave in our room. We do not. This has made storing food a slight challenge - mostly it just means we have a smaller container of milk and I have to buy more often, coupled with frequent trips to the ice machine to keep it cold. I did buy a loaf of bread, some peanut butter & jelly from CVS to help cut back on the amount of meals we eat out (3 meals a day x 12 days x 3 people = way more money than I can afford). There's a market near Nick's office so he stopped and got some fruit.

the view out our window - boring

the view out our window, looking up

For a big city, Chicago seems really clean. There are lovely strips of flowers, the streets and sidewalks don't have a lot of trash (the areas we've seen anyway). There are a lot of bums and panhandlers but that's to be expected. They're also incredibly nice and helpful. They go out of the way to hold the door for me while I'm struggling to get the stroller through. So many people have stopped to chat with Ben (he's LOVING all the attention). I've noticed that nearly every business here has a revolving door - which is cool but not with a stroller. There are a lot of people who smoke here, which is I guess striking for me because both Seattle and Boise are fairly smokeless. Sure, there are smokers, but here it feels like I'm walking in a cloud of smoke every time I go outside (which I know is in contrast to the statement I made earlier about it being clean - ha ha).

Anyway, I just realized my "quick little post" is quite long. I better go add in some pictures & break up some of this text in hopes that you'll read the whole thing. :)

p.s. potty training has halted. Ben refuses to go in the toilet here. Sigh. I hope this doesn't set us back too much when we get home

Thursday, August 18, 2011

20 Months.

My, MY another month has passed in the blink of an eye. What's changed with Ben since I wrote my 19 month post? In some ways, a whole bunch. In other ways, not a whole lot. :) His vocabulary continues to explode. He'll repeat just about any word you ask him to now and is associating more and more words with the correct object.

He has a well defined sense of humor and knows what makes us laugh. I thought we'd have several years before we'd run into the ol' bed time routine of "one more story, please" or "can I have a drink of water?". I was wrong. The last week or so, Ben's been prolonging us leaving his room by asking for a story to be read again (even though we just finished it), asking for milk and then when he gets it, asking for water instead, when I lay him in his crib, he pops back up and asks for one more hug. It's cute but slightly maddening at the same time. Several nights I've had to leave him crying. It doesn't last longer than a minute, but it still breaks my heart. I know if I give in, I'll be in there all night giving him "just one more hug."

He's come up with a new game. It's my fault. He wanted to visit the cats who were busy snoozing on our bed. I let him crawl around and asked him if he was going to go night-night, and he'd lay his head down on our pillows and pretend to sleep. Now he'll run giggling down the hall and stand outside our room (we have a gate up across our doorway so the cats have a place to escape Ben's enthusiastic love) saying "nigh-nigh! nigh-nigh!"

I took Ben to his first dentist appointment earlier in the month. He loved the waiting room - they had a fish tank which he was fascinated with and he really enjoyed their toys. He did not especially love the dentist chair, the hygienist or the dentist. He really did not enjoy when the dentist poked her fingers in his mouth and checked out his teeth (all four of his 1st molars are finally in!). He did really like his new toothbrush and the toy airplane he got. :)

A trip to Lowe's and $4 later, I had a 50 pound bag of sand for Ben's sand and water table. This is by far his favorite thing to do. He'll stand at the back door and ask to go outside (he says "side? side?" - very sweet). He thinks it's fabulous to dump the sand into the water and the water into the sand (it does not look nearly as nice as the picture above - now it's filthy and sand is all over the ground underneath - I don't even care, he's having a good time).

So at 20 months Ben has at least 10 teeth (he's working on more but isn't very fond of letting me look). He's down to about 3 diapers a day (used for nap time, night time and if we leave the house). He wears a size 5 1/2 shoe which is hard to find, so I have him wear 6's. They're a bit big, but he'll grow into them and I'll get a bit longer wear for my money. He's wearing mostly 18 month size (especially for pants) but is starting to fit into his 24 month stuff. He's eating almost everything we eat and has decided potatoes and chicken are now yummy foods. His favorite is probably grapes or cantaloupe & he really loves those applesauce pouches. He loves music & can sing several songs (or at least, parts to several songs). He loves to dance and play Nick's guitar & my piano. He really loves to go down the slide but still hates the swings (freaks out if you even start to put him in one). His favorite toy has got to be trucks. His favorite books are Gossie Plays Hide & Seek, The Big Red Barn, The Truck Book, and Head To Toe.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Customized Travel Bottles.

The hubs, bubs & I are getting ready to fly out to Chicago towards the end of the month for a 2 week-most-expenses-paid-extravaganza. Hubs has started a new job locally, but their HQ is in Chicago, so the bubs & I get to go along for the training ride.

Anyway, I've been making lists & checking them twice about what to bring with us on our trip. Packing for 2 weeks for 2 adults is daunting enough, add packing for a toddler in to that mix and you have a heck of a long list.

For our shower necessities, I wanted to jazz up the bottles a bit. I started out with some clear plastic travel bottles like so:

Using my SCAL2 program, I typed up the words I wanted for each bottle: shampoo, condition {I would have put "conditioner" but the surface space I'm working with is small and taking those extra two letters off the end made a big difference}, his & hers {for each of our body washes}. I could have used one of my cartridges, but I liked the clean lines of the Arial font for this project:

I had those cut to a left over piece of black vinyl I had laying around from a previous project:

As you can see, I had to cut "shampoo" and "conditioner" more than once - the blade messed up on one of the "o's" in "shampoo" and "conditioner" didn't look right, so I changed it to "condition" and recut.

Once cut, I layered on some transfer tape and burnished the finished words onto my plastic bottles - viola!

I have no idea how the vinyl will hold up to water - let's hope my 20 minute craft project doesn't run down the drain with my shampoo suds in Chicago!

Monday, August 8, 2011


Recently / random mind dump:

1. Caught Ben wandering around in my shoes. I thought it was especially funny with no pants on
2. & 3. If Ben hears or sees the camera, he says "cheese" and has a fit if you don't take his picture and then show it to him. So I obliged. :)
4. Cups are Ben's faaaaaaavorite tub toy. He calls them "pups" and it melts my heart. He's also slightly obsessed with brushing his teeth.

5. Part of our room re-do. The left side of the shelves is all wrong. I love the right side, the family pictures, the vase of shells, the gaudy gold leaf tree from my granny (she's had that like my whole life and I used to admire it as a kid. She's getting ready to move and gave me the tree - I liked it with the family pictures, like a family tree). Anyway, the left is yuck. I was planning to swap out the picture in the frame (the one with the 3 pots of babies LOL) but liked the gold in the frame to balance out the gold from the tree on the other side. Any suggestions of how to make it prettier?

6. Ignore Nick's computer, phone & cup. This is my crafting space (and his little work space when he works at home). It's ugly, but it's functional and it's mine. I sat there last night and finished up a project I was doing for a friend. :)

7. A busy calendar. Heart it. You may notice "Sarah doctor" for Wednesday. Getting my gallbladder looked at after an awfully painful experience this weekend. Let's hope this doesn't equal surgery.

8. Our garden is a-growin'! Tomatoes on the vine
9. Green peppers (they don't look too fab.... hope they turn out okay!)
10. Ben sized tomatoes waiting to be eaten
11. Finally got some sand for the Sand & Water Table the Easter Bunny left. Can't wait to watch Ben explore it!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


Well it's been nearly 2 weeks since we started our potty training journey. It's been hard, it's been easy, it's been a struggle & it's been a breeze.

Sound contradictory? Well it is. But it's also the truth. Throughout these last 2 weeks, Ben has had momentary set backs where he'd forget what he was doing and pee where he was standing. He'd run and hide when he had to poo. However, the last two days.... it's like a light switched on in his brain. We only got him to poo on the potty a few times (either we'd miss it and he'd go in his diaper before I got him up for the day or he'd have an accident) but yesterday.... yesterday man, Nick & I could not have been more proud. Ben ran himself to the potty and went poo with out any prompting. Twice. And again today (twice).

So let me back up a bit.

I decided to buy a potty insert for the regular toilet. He can't quite get up and down from it without assistance (those legs need to grow just about an inch or so more and he can probably do that part all by himself), but he seems to much prefer the seat to the potty chair. We still have the potty chair out in the living room and he will use it, but for the most part he goes in the toilet. I wish I had started out with the potty insert instead of the potty chair, but live and learn. What works for Ben might not work for every one else. And as I got interrupted mid post by a kid that poo'd in the potty chair - if you are at ALL sensitive to smells, it's so much easier (and less stinky) to flush the toilet than it is to clean out the chair. Gosh that's foul. UGH.

Anyway, since we got the insert (I think I got that on Monday), he's only had a few pee accidents (and we discovered those have primarily been when Nick is watching him. Mm hmm. Cast your judgement. Okay, don't. Nick's been a fantastic help and I'm glad to take all I can get) and NO poo accidents.

I'm still doing diapers on him when we go out. First, it's been way too freaking hot to try to play outside with no diaper on (except today. I took him to the park today but 10 minutes after we got there, 2 bus loads of kids pulled up so we headed out) and second, he still seems to go about every 20 minutes. Some times it's longer, some times it's short, but it seems he averages 20 minutes between potty trips. So I figure we'll keep him mostly diaper free at home for the next month or so or until he consistently uses the potty with no accidents (or very few) and seems to lengthen the time between trips. Once that happens, we'll start venturing out with no diaper on.

I'm not entirely sure how we'll handle our upcoming trip to Chicago. I figure we'll do a diaper for the plane ride but if he tells me he has to pee, we might try the potty on the plane (ew). We're going to bring the potty insert (it's fairly flat) and I'll have him go diaper free while we're in the hotel, but I'm guessing he'll use a diaper more often than not. We'll find out!

So these last few days things have started to sort of click with him. He runs down the hall saying "pee pee" when he has to go. He races to the bathroom when he has to poo (two days in a row - yay!). His accidents are getting less and less. I wasn't sure he was ready for it even last week - some one asked me how it was going and I'm like "ugh" but if you were to ask me now, I'd say "it's going great!"

Maybe he'll be fully potty trained by the time he turns 2. Wouldn't that be cool?