Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekend in the Woods

Some friends invited us to their cabin for the weekend. We were happy to get out of town, so we readily agreed to go. They warned us that it gets muddy up there (the snow is just melting and they have 40 acres of wooded land). What I didn't realize is that my daughter, Miss-I-Only-Want-to-Wear-Dresses-and-High-Heeled-Shoes would be so willing to get filthy. She even drove a four-wheeler! We took Giddy with us. We had eight people and four dogs up there. Oh, and some alcohol. And fire. Lots of fire.






Friday, April 26, 2013

Where the hipsters go, where the tourists go

This is my last Chicago post, I promise. Just humor me - I don't get out much. Our last full day in Chicago was Sunday. We had made some loose plans as far as what we wanted to do that day. We knew that much of the flavor of Chicago comes from its many diverse neighborhoods. We also knew it was best to avoid the ones where people are frequently, you know, shot.  So, we decided to head to Wicker Park. We had several guide books (Rachel is better at planning than I am) and had some ideas of places we wanted to see. Rachel had the cab driver drop us off at a coffee joint called The Wormhole. I am not a coffee drinker so I sipped some apple juice while she worked on her caffeinated beverage. After that, we walked along a few of the main streets in Wicker Park. We stopped in a toy store, a hipster joint called Reckless Records, and a book store called Myopic Books. I bought a book for my husband but nothing for myself, mostly because the book I bought him was a thick hardcover book and I'm too much of a pussy to carry around too much heavy stuff.

We browsed a few more shops - thrift shops and also high end "if you have to ask you can't afford it" boutiques.  I didn't ask and knew I couldn't afford it. It's always a bad sign when there are only two of an item on a given rack. For lunch we stopped in an Irish pub called Pint. It was casual and the food was pretty good. We dug it. After lunch, we hoofed it a few blocks to a place called The Boring Store.  It bills itself as a place that sells spy gear. However, all sales fund a writing program for kids.  What's not to love about that?  I picked up a couple of little trinkets, including some bug-eye glasses for my daughter.

Once we were all shopped out, we hailed a cab and headed back to our hotel to drop off our stuff and to take turns wearing the bug-eye glasses. Endless amusement.  Now, we know that Navy Pier is super touristy but we decided to go anyway.  Rachel wanted to buy Chicago tee shirts for her crew at home and I was game for whatever.  So, we hailed our umpteenth cab and headed over to Navy Pier.  We did a little shopping and walked all the way down the pier to take some photos.  Then we walked back up, but inside the buildings this time. There was an interesting stained glass windows exhibit so we checked that out. We had heard about the wonders of Garrett's popcorn, so we felt obligated to buy some when we happened upon a Garrett's popcorn shop.  I must say it really was extremely good. I can see why people are willing to stand in long lines for it.

Initially we thought we would eat at Navy Pier but as it turns out, we weren't interested in the restaurants they had there (mostly chain restaurants, which we could find anywhere).  We pulled out our phones and started Googling. We decided to try a Mexican restaurant called Zocalo. Instead of getting two main dishes, we ordered a bunch of small plates and shared everything. We drank margaritas, of course.  Rachel's budget for this trip was nearly ten times my budget, so she bought dinner and I, being the good friend that I am, let her. She knows I'd do it for her if I had the same budget.

We ended the evening with another long swim in the pool.  We got a lot of use out of the hotel pool. We were particularly relieved that the pool was on the sixth floor so that we didn't have to walk through the lobby to get there. Nobody likes the post-swimming walk of shame through the lobby.

The next morning, it was time to head out.  I needed to get home and Rachel was headed for Kentucky to take some photography side trips. She is a photography student and hopes to get her own photography business off the ground. She drove me to my friend's house to get my car. It took a while to get there, in as much as I entered the wrong address into the GPS on my phone. But, we finally found it and before long we were both on the road. I stopped at an IKEA on the way home. I didn't buy much because I'd already wasted too much time getting lost that morning.  IKEA can easily become an all-day affair. Oh, and when I left IKEA I did run a toll because it was an unattended one that had the audacity to ask me for $1.90 in coins for the coin basket. Fortunately, they have a system where you can go online and pay it within seven days.  So, I took care of that when I got home. Because I am a goody-two-shoes, that's why.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I must turn my attention to planning a birthday party for Her Highness. 

Geno's

Wicker Park

A few of my friends are qualified to work here

See? Endless amusement.

Do you like how my lipstick is all "Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?"

Navy Pier





Thursday, April 25, 2013

Chicago - Touristy Stuff and Weird Stuff

For our first full day in Chicago (Saturday), Rachel and I decided to start out with a tour of the city. My friend Carl was kind enough to pick us up and then drive us around for about an hour and a half. Let me just say that the dude knows the city. We got a feel for a few of the neighborhoods, such as Bronzeville and Lincoln Park. He showed us some Chicago landmarks and included a lot of history and architecture, too. I have a terrible memory, but the Monadnock Building is one that stands out from the tour. Towards the end of the tour, we stopped along the lakeshore and took some photos of the Chicago skyline.

It was very chilly and windy on Saturday, so I probably would have been fine with letting Carl drive us around all day in his heated Volkswagen. However, eventually it was time to move on. He dropped us off at Millenium Park, home of the gigantic reflective bean. The bean doesn't seem like it would be that exciting, but it's oddly compelling as you get closer to it. First you wonder how close you have to get before you can see yourself. Then you start to notice how the curve of the bean does interesting things with the reflection of the skyline. I took a photo of it on my phone and sent it to my husband so that he could show my daughter. It seemed like something she'd get a kick out of.

After walking around for a bit, we headed to the Art Institute. Carl had recommended that we go ahead and eat lunch there, so we did. It was fabulous. Not cheap, but what the heck. We were on vacation! We spent a couple hours in the galleries; a highlight was a Picasso exhibit. It was amazing to see so much of his work all at once - I probably won't see anything like that again until I check out (leave the planet, I mean).

We couldn't decide where to go next and I was game for just about anything (I was wearing some good "walking shoes"), so Rachel suggested we grab a cab and head to the International Museum of Surgical Science. My friend Kate (Carl's wife) had told me about it.  The cab driver had no idea what we were talking about, so we quickly Googled the address and he zipped us over there. Speaking of cabs, we took a few harrowing cab rides while in Chicago. Holy cow. They sure give those horns a workout, too. Rachel and I quickly learned that it was best not to look at the road at all and just to talk to each other. It was better that we not see all the near-misses and whatnot.

The surgical museum was interesting. I'm surprised I didn't have nightmares that night, in all honesty. We spent about an hour and a half looking at glass cases full of scalpels, glass eyes, drills, and other scary stuff.  The museum also features lots of painted murals depicting fun stuff like amputations and trepanning (drilling a hole in someone's skull). Oh, and I can't forget the fetuses in jars. :::shudder:::

Once we were done looking at weird medical stuff, naturally we were ready for dinner. We knew it was the most touristy thing you can do in Chicago, but we hailed a cab and had him take us to Geno's for deep dish pizza. We ambitiously ordered a medium and only managed to eat about 2 1/2 pieces between the two of us. It was good. Normally I eat thin crust pizza because of the fat/calorie thing, but what I truly love is deep dish pizza. It was worth the trip and worth the wait (we drank adult beverages while we were waiting - we had a designated driver, after all).

After Geno's, we caught yet another cab and headed back to our hotel. We decided to swim and just hang out for the rest of the evening. We also sat in the whirlpool.  As we were soaking in there, a family with lots of kids climbed in, so that was my cue to leave. They were nice, but I wasn't up for it. Rachel, on the other hand, loves chaos (she has three boys) and loves talking to strangers, so I left her there while I went back upstairs and took a shower.

Don't worry, I'm almost done!









The scariest thing I have ever seen in my life (below):


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Since I had nothing better to do on a Tuesday

I'll get back to over-sharing about my trip to Chicago but first I thought I'd over-share about my trip to the emergency room yesterday.  I went to work in the morning, as usual. I ate a couple of mid-morning snacks, as usual. By around 11:30, I was in a lot of pain. It hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. The pain was emanating from the right side of my abdomen, but it was hard to pinpoint beyond that.

Barb at the front desk was kind enough to give me a couple of ibuprofen. I sat at my desk, sweating and shivering and wondering what the hell I should do. I was due to train a client at 2:00.  Nausea started to hit, so I hung out in the bathroom for a few minutes in case my mid-morning snacks might need to exit my mouth at high velocity. Normally I am perpetually freezing at work, but suddenly it seemed like an inferno in my cubicle. It was cold outside, so I decided to go out to my mom-mobile and lie down on the third-row bench seats for a moment or two. I looked up at the ceiling of my van, clutching my abdomen and wondering how my daughter managed to get marker up there like that.  Mostly, I just kept thinking, "I'm getting dog hair all over me!"

Finally, I gave up. This felt like something more serious than a stomach ache. I called my husband and told him I was headed to the emergency room. Fortunately, I work within a stone's throw of a hospital. I even eat lunch there sometimes (don't laugh - this hospital has a kick-ass cafeteria!) I drove myself over there and turned myself over to the medical professionals.

"What seems to be the problem?" asked the admissions lady.

I immediately thought of a Brian Regan routine where he talks about going to the hospital with severe abdominal pain. He responded something like, "Well, it SEEMS like everything on my inside . . . wants to be on my outside."

I explained that I had abdominal pain. Then, when asked to rate my pain on a scale of 1 to 10, I thought of the same Brian Regan routine, where he notes that 10 is reserved for people with snapped femurs.  "About a 6," I said.

A few minutes later, I was in a hospital gown (open-backed, natch) and peeing in a cup and whatnot. Once I was alone in the room, I did nothing but stare at the clock. There was a TV but the pain was so bad I didn't think I could concentrate on anything. Eventually, a physician's assistant came in to talk to me. He seemed nice. He was a very dark-skinned man with a name that suggested he might be from somewhere exotic. He asked me a bunch of questions and then asked, "So, what do you think is going on?"

I wasn't sure how to respond. Is this like the self check-out at the grocery store, I wondered?  C'mon in, diagnose yourself, and then head on home. I shook my head. "No idea," I said. He said he would order some bloodwork. Moments later, a paramedic came in to start an IV.  This is where I started to get nervous. I've had bad experiences with this in the past. Although my skin is virtually transparent and my veins and arteries and whatnot are fairly easy to see, apparently my veins are not particularly cooperative. They are shallow, from what past technicians have told me. The paramedic proceeded to spend quite some time digging into my right arm with his finger. Finally, much to my relief, he gave up and jabbed me in the left arm instead. He collected a bunch of my blood and left.

After that, the PA came back.  He handed me two bottles of water and instructed me to drink them in preparation for an ultrasound. Apparently they can see my innards better if some of them are floating.  So, I watched Law & Order and drank both bottles of water, even though I was not even vaguely thirsty.  Shortly thereafter, an ultrasound technician came in with a portable ultrasound machine.  She did an external ultrasound first and then an internal one. She was nice, but I can barely hear the word ultrasound without having a breakdown. In my 20s and 30s, ultrasounds always resulted in bad news for me ("fetal demise" was the term used, as I recall). I know that every women hates the stirrups, but I have a particularly strong contempt for them.

Shortly after the ultrasound was done, I had my results. I have to say that the hospital was pretty efficient - a whole parade of people came through my room in fairly quick succession. I was out of the hospital in four hours, which is pretty good when you think about it.  The PA gave me the news: bilateral ovarian cysts. Apparently the ones on the right side are larger and more menacing, which resulted in the plethora of pain, nausea, etc.  By then, the pain had actually dulled somewhat, so I was ready to go home. He gave me two prescriptions: Vicodin and Naproxen (prescription strength Alleve) and bid me adieu.  I have to follow up with my regular doctor. I don't like my regular doctor, but I'll make an appointment anyway. So, that was my Tuesday.  I am not a big fan of Vicodin, as it upsets my stomach. However, at least now I have it on hand and have some recourse for next time the cysts flare up.

When I got home, I asked P if he still would have married me if he had known my lady parts were all jacked up. He nodded.  Good boy.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

You know who you look like?

I just got back from a long weekend in Chicago, so now I must regale you with tales aplenty. I left work early on Friday so that I could get on the road for the lengthy drive to the Windy City. I left my husband with a detailed document explaining how to care for his child while I was gone.  For whatever reason (my theory is that I have been appointed certain duties solely based on the fact that I have a uterus), I do all of the lunch-packing, homework-signing, backpack-packing, outfit-picking, etc. for our child. So, I trusted that he could handle everything (since he had written instructions) and hit the road with a clear conscience.

Since it's late April, naturally I hit a bunch of snow on my drive. I stopped at a Trader Joe's along the way to pick up some snacks for me and Rachel to share. She was already in Chicago - she got there a day ahead of me. In addition to bringing fruit and snacks, she also asked me to bring her a stamped envelope so that she could pay the speeding ticket she had acquired in Pennsylvania.

After leaving Trader Joe's, I spent another hour or so in the car when I started hitting some tolls. After paying the first one, I had no more cash so I took an exit in order to get some moolah. I decided it was best not to run the tolls - I'm pretty sure The Man frowns on that. After stopping at the bank, I realized I needed to use the ladies' room. Also, the snow was picking up and, as I got closer to Chicago, the traffic was getting worse.  So, I decided to stop at an Uno's Pizza to use the bathroom and grab an adult beverage at the bar.

It was around 5:00 on Friday afternoon when I got there. The bar wasn't crowded, so I took a seat on the end and flipped through a Chicago newspaper as I sipped a glass of Merlot. I knew I could only have one since of course I was driving and whatnot.  I was also watching the news on the TV hanging behind me, as the whole Boston terrorist hunt was coming to a head at that time.

It didn't take long for me to notice two guys to my left, on the other side of the square-shaped bar. One, a quiet bearded guy, seemed okay and the other, a balding, gold chain-wearing sort of guy, appeared to be fully inebriated. (What time does someone have to start drinking to be completely plowed by only 5 p.m?) The drunk one was loud.  He yelled across the bar to a woman on the right side of the bar, sitting directly across from him. They were talking about baseball or something. Eventually, she got up and left, so he turned his attention to me. I could tell he was trying to make eye contact with me, so I resisted. See, had he been funny or clever or even nice, my tolerance would've been a lot higher. But, he was shouting nonsense at the restaurant staff and just being an ass in general. I heard him ask the male bartender no fewer than six times, "So, how you doin'?" The female bartender got her share of comments as well. 

Finally, I made the mistake of glancing up from the newspaper and made eye contact. "Hey!" he yelled at me. "You know who you look like?"

Now, I've been an unwilling player in the "You know who you look like?" game before, so this was nothing new. I've been told I look like some chick on a soap opera, Cleopatra, and famous people that I don't resemble even remotely.  My theory is that since my appearance (fair skin and dark hair) is a bit different from the norm, there is some sort of compulsion to classify me in some way. I gave him a tight-lipped smile and waited.

"You look like Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction!" He turned to his friend and asked him to confirm his diagnosis. I nodded and looked away. I wasn't offended because Uma Thurman looks great in that movie if you ask me. Well, maybe not the scene where she ODs and gets a syringe plunged directly into her heart, but you know what I mean.

Just then, the female bartender walked by to serve a table that was behind me. She smiled at me. "Excuse me," I said. "Um, you know the guy at the bar is a dick, right?"

She nodded. "Yes, but he's a regular."

Oh. Being a regular = okay to be a douchecanoe. Gotcha. I finished my drink much faster than I had intended, hopped off my barstool, and headed to the door.  The bartender followed me and whispered, "Sorry!" to me.  I felt bad for her. She must have to put up with that guy every Friday (or maybe even daily).

When I was in high school and college, my stad worked at an Irish Pub in Alexandria, Virginia. Murphy's had its share of regulars. However, I don't remember any of them being like the Uno's guy. Hell, some of the regulars from Murphy's even came to my high school graduation party held at our home. There was Bea, the nice lesbian from Puerto Rico. There was Joanne, the cranky but well-meaning old broad who always sat in the same spot. I remember Ernest, an elderly gentleman who shuffled down to Murphy's to drink exactly one pint and then shuffled back up the street to his home. Mildred was a harmless wackadoo who claimed to have dated Elvis ("Priscilla would get so mad!" she would say). If you're going to be a regular at a joint, at least try to be eccentric or even just vaguely interesting, for cryin' out loud. The guy at Uno's betrayed quirky barflies everywhere.

Anyway, I got back on the road and then sat in traffic all the way to Chicago. Good times!  At around 7:00 I landed at the home of some friends who were letting me park in their 'hood during my visit. Parking in Chicago runs around $50.00 per day and since I didn't need my car during my trip, I was willing to do just about anything to avoid spending that much money.  Fortunately, Kate and Carl have parking available in their neighborhood. Carl even offered to drive me to my hotel. 

I made it to the hotel by around 8:00 and was reunited with my long-time friend. She gave me an awesome gift.  This thing:


We went out for Thai food and then went swimming in the hotel pool.  Stay tuned for more Chicago adventures of "The Women Who Abandoned Their Families and Didn't Feel Even Vaguely Guilty About It" tomorrow.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

After 1 month of hard-core tracking . . .

For a period of one month (March 18 - April 17), I tracked everything I ate using an app from SparkPeople. The result? I've lost 9.5 pounds and a couple inches off my various parts and pieces. I've made some changes in my diet by shifting more focus on protein. Other than that, not much has changed.  I can't lie - it still sucks every single day . . . the tracking, the fretting, the deprivation. I went to a potluck last week and brought my lunch along so as not to be tempted by the desserts and whatnot. I watched my daughter eat an M&M-encrusted brownie and nearly wept. I ate a Weight Watchers cookie but you and I both know it wasn't the same. Not even close.

I plan to keep tracking for another month and see how it goes. I'll bore you with another update in May. I'm a little bit nervous because I'm headed to Chicago and I can hear deep-dish pizza calling my name.

Why can't I just be like my skinny sister, dammit? I demand a recount of how the DNA was distributed.

Still pushing maximum density

Monday, April 15, 2013

Close Call

My daughter (DJ Snaggletooth) lost another tooth Friday night. She has another loose one that should fly out of her head any day now. She is always hesitant to pull them out herself, though. I took her to the dentist on Wednesday and I was hoping that the dental hygienist would accidentally-on-purpose pull out the two loose teeth while flossing them, But, no such luck. Fortunately, an apple did the trick on Friday night with the looser of the two.

Now, I told my daughter that even though she knows the scoop on the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus . . . nothing would change.  So, the tooth fairy needed to pay up on Friday night. We had one little problem, though. My daughter had a friend sleeping over. I assumed that her friend is a believer so I didn't want to jeopardize that. Plus, this friend's parents are going through a divorce and I'm sure she has enough to worry about at the moment. The last thing I wanted to do was to be the jackass who spoiled her childhood by botching the Tooth Fairy gig.

I took my daughter's tiny bloody tooth and put it in the little pocket of her tooth fairy pillow. Then I propped up the pillow on her desk, just inside her bedroom door. My daughter's friend had written a note to the tooth fairy: "Dear Tooth Fairy, A and I want you to take us back to your palace."  I didn't know the Tooth Fairy had a palace but then again, I know so little.

I went to bed at around 11:00 and the girls were still awake. So, the Tooth Fairy had to cool her heels in her palace for a while. I figured there was a good chance I'd wake up at some point in the night and could take care of the tooth situation at that time. So, I went to sleep. At around 4:00 a.m., my bladder informed me that it had finished processing some Crystal Light and two glasses of red wine and suggested that I visit the bathroom. So, I did. Then I grabbed the four dollar bills I'd left on my dresser and tiptoed to my daughter's room. My daughter always sleeps with her bedroom door open. It was closed. Crap.

Just then, the dogs trotted over and started making a racket. "It's time for breakfast?! Sweet!"  I shoved all three of them outside so that I could complete my mission.  Then I tiptoed back to my daughter's bedroom. I grabbed the door handle and turned it ever so slowly until I heard it click. I pushed the door open (creaaaak!) and looked inside. The girls were sleeping on an air mattress on the floor. A's friend was directly facing the door. Crap. I watched her for a minute or so to confirm that she seemed to be asleep. Finally, I quickly grabbed the pillow, fished the tooth out of the pocket, replaced it with four bucks, and then tossed the pillow onto the desk. Then I backed out slowly, closed the door, and took a deep breath. I stood in the hallway for a moment, trying to figure out what to do about the tooth. I don't know if all moms do this or if it is considered to be a bit macabre, but I do save all the teeth. I put each one in an envelope and put the date on it. One day, I'll show my daughter that I have all of her teeth and she will say, "Mom, that is the most disgusting thing I've ever seen in my life."  Anyway, seeing as how it was 4:00 a.m. and I didn't have an envelope handy, I put the tooth in my pajama pocket. Then I let the dogs back in, broke the news to them about breakfast, and went back to sleep. Mission accomplished.

A few hours later, I threw my pajamas down the laundry chute without even thinking about it. Then I had to go to the basement and fish them out of the laundry and retrieve the tooth.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to find that palace I've been hearing about.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April's popularity is waning

I've always found plenty of reasons to hate March.  The main one: March Madness. I mean, really, who gives a poop? People who don't give a second thought about college sports for 11 months out of the year inexplicably become obsessed with basketball all of a sudden. And why is it that the women's teams scarcely get a mention?

The other reason to hate March?  The weather. In these parts, spring doesn't arrive until April or May. So in March, we have the calendar telling us it's spring but looking at the piles of snirt outside . . . we know it's a filthy lie.

April, however, has never really done me wrong, generally speaking. The weather gets warmer, one starts to think of planting stuff and eating kettle corn at the farmers' market (maybe that last part is just me), and summer plans start to seem . . . not so far away.  April and I have always had a good relationship.  However, I woke up to a snowstorm this morning and now I'm not sure I'm such a fan after all. We may have to break up. I opened the back door at 5 a.m. to let the dogs out and all three of them looked at me as if to say, "WTF?" April has betrayed us all, pooches. The sun hath forsaken us.

On a more serious note . . . for me, I must confess that April lost some of its luster when Kevin died four years ago. I still think of him every single day. I have his Washington Post business card  in my organizer and cannot bring myself to remove it.  His email address is still in my Outlook address book. I miss that wise-cracking smart ass more than I can say.

C'mooooon, May! Where are you when we need you? I hope May is ready to kick some ass, as we'll have a lot going on next month. We've got a certain eight-year-old's birthday party, a visit from Grandpa Ted (flying in from Maryland), a visit from my middle sister and my nephew, a 16th wedding anniversary, and a trip to Minnesota. My sister is coming to town to run a marathon. The marathon winds right through my neighborhood, so I'll just have to jog down to the corner and cheer her on as she runs by. I hope I don't get too winded.

If spring ever does come, the kid and I are ready. She's busy painting step stones and we have cups o'dirt all set to go.




Sunday, April 7, 2013

Too old for this, too young for that

Yesterday I took my daughter to a kids' festival.  It is geared towards younger kids, but she really wanted to go. A local herp club is always there, so of course that is the highlight for her. She loves snakes like I don't know what.

We've gone to this event every April since she was 11 months old. Here is a photo of her at the festival when she was just a month shy of her second birthday.

 

And here is a photo of her at this year's event:

I told her that I thought this might be the last year she'll want to go. She told me that no, she'll always want to go. I don't mind taking her, but part of me wonders if my daughter is not maturing as the rate one might expect. Several times yesterday I had to haul her out of exhibits intended for toddlers.

This morning at church, after the service ended, I could not find her anywhere in the building. I finally found her hanging out with the musicians.  She had been telling them how anxious she is to learn an instrument - she said she is particularly interested in the ukelele. I would love to get her some lessons and have her learn to play an instrument. However, I feel like I just need to see a little more maturity from her first. We're having a hell of a time just getting her to flush the bleeping toilet after she uses it. So frustrating!

Sometimes she seems desperate to grow up and do "big girl" things. Other times, she seems awfully content to stay right where she is. It's quite the mystery, aye.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Cure for the common cold

Do you feel a mite poorly like you might die? Does your head feel like a cinder block? Has your face opened up an ISO-certified snot factory?

Give this a try. Take your kid's Slushy Magic and add the magic ice cubes.  Then add two generous shots of amaretto. (What do you mean, "That seems like a bit much?" Mind your own beeswax!) Add orange juice to the fill line inside the cup. Put the lid on and then shake the bejeebers out of the cup. Voila! You're still sick as all get out  . . . but you mind it slightly less.  Cheers!


Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Irritable

I need a vacation.  I don't really have one on the horizon - or at least not a long one.  My friend Rachel and I are going to Chicago for a three-day weekend in a couple weeks.  She is driving out from New Joisey. We thought we were going to have to prostitute ourselves just to afford a hotel in the Windy City - and don't even get me started on the parking costs. Holy cow. We are excited about the trip, though. If you have any recommendations for stuff to do in Chicago (or maybe even stuff we should avoid), feel free to leave a comment.  Our hotel has a pool and a whirlpool so maybe we'll just hang out there, adult beverage in hand. I have a firm policy that in order to see me in a swim suit, you have to be acquainted with me for a minimum of five years first.  She's got almost 32 years of knowing me on the books, so I guess she's in.

I gave this blog post the title "Irritable" because it reflects my mood recently. Any little thing seems to send me into a dark, crabby place. Here's an example. I bought my daughter a new pair of shoes. She begged to be able to wear them to school on Monday. I let her do it, but specifically told her to change into tennis shoes or snow boots for recess.  She wore the new shoes at recess.  They are ruined.  I showed her the price on the box.  "$34.99," I said.  "How are you going to pay me back for this?"  She looked a little worried.  Granted, they were on sale at Kohl's and I had a coupon, but I am really trying to teach her the value of money.

Anyway, I rode her about these shoes for two days. I don't know why it bugged me so much but I just couldn't let it go.

On Monday, when I picked A up after work, a Kindercare staff person handed me the summer registration form. Not unexpected. I bristle at the summer and fall registrations every year, mostly because my daughter has been there for five years and it seems redonkulous that I need to keep registering her (and paying registration fees) for a place she ALREADY GOES. I didn't really look at the form until I got in the car.  It was then that I spotted a little notation that said, "For the 2013-2014 school year, we will transport to the following schools . . . "  The list of schools followed and my daughter's was not on it.  They have been transporting my daughter to her school for the past three years. I called Kindercare and a staff person confirmed that yes, my understanding of the list was accurate. I guess I just wanted to make sure it wasn't an accidental omission or something before flying into an apoplectic rage.  I wanted to speak to the director but she was not available.

The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. We have spent nearly $35,000 at that joint. For ONE child, mind you.  And now they are effectively kicking us out.  I can't imagine doing something like this at my job. It's the equivalent of me sending out a letter to all of our clients saying, "Here are the websites we will continue to host . . . "  And if yours isn't on it, well, good luck to you.

I sent the director an email to express my frustration and she apologized for not telling me in person. She said that they can't transport her because this year there aren't any other kids on the same transport.  I guess I kind of get it, but the whole thing is still annoying.  Anyway, it was made clear to me that they'd still be happy to accept my money all summer long.  However, I am looking into other options. We have a community center (sort of like a YMCA) on the other side of town that has a summer camp program. Kids can choose a different type of camp each week (sports, nature, etc.) I have filled out the registration form and am working on getting my daughter into that program. The beauty of it is that I wouldn't have to pay a registration fee and would only have to pay for the weeks she actually attends. At Kindercare, we pay whether she is there or not.  A will be gone for at least four weeks this summer so if I can avoid paying for those weeks, so much the better.

So yeah, I've been crabby this week. I went to yoga Tuesday night and felt a little better after that.  You can file this under "TMI" but now that I'm an old lady, Aunt Flo shows up only sporadically - which is fine because, truth be told, I never really enjoyed her act all that much anyway. The downside is that I never know when she might show up. Today I woke up with a cold that I caught from Patrick (that's the last time I swap spit with that guy) and oh yeah, the house guest. Effin' great.  It does serve to explain the over-reaction to the shoe incident, among other things. Anyway, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to take some Nyquil now and I expect to be unconscious in about fifteen minu . . ..