Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Finally a Mommy!

Yesterday Ben FINALLY started calling me Mommy. Up until now, I have been either "Nadn" or "Madn" but never Mommy. He says Daddy, Joshua and Copper (as well as hundreds of other words) plain as day, but Mommy was one he hadn't clarified yet for whatever reason. But yesterday, as I got home from the grocery store, I get out of the car and Andrew has Ben lifted up looking out the window in the garage door and I hear "MOMMY! MOMMY!" Music to my ears!


The lives of our strawberry and red bell pepper plants were cut all to short this last weekend by our 22 lb beast of a dog. We knew she had been getting in the garden, despite our efforts to keep her out. When I was home one afternoon last week I caught her in there, and was able to see how she was getting in and out. Apparently we hadn't given her enough credit for her slim and fit figure. She was walking right through the fence we had put up. Never in a million years would I have guessed that she could through those openings. So our plan had been to go to Home Depot this weekend to get some more fencing to keep her out. But, we were too late. We hadn't gotten around to it yet, when on Sunday afternoon, I went into the backyard to check for any ripening tomatoes, when I noticed something was amiss. It finally registered that the strawberries were gone. Not just dug up, but gone, the remnants of which I later found burried in the soil. I was mad, but to be honest, the strawberries were not such a huge loss since its starting to get too hot for them now, and any strawberries we did have growing got waterlogged and ruined with the rain we had last week. But then I noticed that the red bell pepper plant was also missing. This really upset me. This plant had been the underdog of the garden. When we first planted it, we weren't sure if it was going to take. It always looked kind of sad and pitiful. But it had really taken hold and was producing so many buds and had two really good peppers growing on it. I rooted around in the soil and found my uprooted plant buried between the tomato plants. The root ball was semi in tact, so I attempted to replant it adding more soil and lots of water, but I seem to have been too late. The poor thing just isn't going to make it.

I have put up a new barrier for Copper, so I'm hoping it will finally keep her out of our garden. I want to try to plant something new now that we have open garden space, but I want to make sure she's kept out for good before we lose anything else at her paw.

So now our garden is down to two tomato plants and a green bell pepper plant. The good news is the tomato plants have been very fruitful. I have been able to pick 1-3 tomatoes daily off of them for almost the last week. Ben and I are the only ones who like them, so I guess we'll be eating a lot of tomatoes in the coming weeks!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Small Beam of Light at the End of a Very Long Tunnel

We were so excited last night. Ben went pee pee on the potty for the very first time! Yes, I know he's not yet two, and no we are not working on potty training, really. We're just trying to get him to go on the potty, even by accident, a couple times to put the idea in his head. We did this same thing with Josh. When he was about 22 months old he started sitting on the potty right before bath. After a little while he started using the potty every day, just at bath time, but it was enough to get him used to the idea so that when we started hard core potty training at 27 months, he got it down in a matter of a couple days. Our method worked so well with Joshua that we wanted to retrace our steps and see if we can get lucky the second time around (so not holding my breath!). So we took the little potty out a few weeks ago and are letting him sit on it before bath. If he doesn't want to, no problem, but usually he loves to sit on the potty. Of course, every night he would sit on the potty for a minute or two, do nothing and then get in the bathtub and promptly empty his bladder. So I decided to try putting his feet in some warm water while sitting on the potty. He really enjoys this, like he's getting pampered (get it?). So now whenever he sits on the potty he wants his feet in the nice warm water. Uh oh. What have I started? Oh well. Whatever gets you going, dude.

So last night, we had just gotten home from Target where we had gotten Josh some new underpants. He was trying them on, when I decided to put a pair of Josh's old (clean) underpants on Ben, just for fun. He looked so cute, and we started telling him what a big boy he looked like in the underpants. Then it was time to get ready for bath, so we went in the bathroom and I asked him if he wanted to sit on the potty. He nodded his head yes and sat right down. I got him his warm foot water and he sat there chillaxing on the potty for a couple minutes when we heard it. The sound of a gentle stream flowing onto plastic. Yay! He did it! It was truly exciting. I think he was a little put off by the big party we threw over him peeing in the potty, so we'll have to tone it down next time. I know this was probably just a fluke but it gives me hope that maybe he won't be as impossible to potty train as I have feared. One of these days we'll be totally done with diapers. This one little pee pee seems like the small beam of light at the end of a very long tunnel, but I'll take it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

If you want anything done right...

don't allow the doctor's office to do it. I am so mad today I can hardley see straight. As I've previously mentioned, Ben suffers from respiratory issues. He's too young to be diagnosed with asthma, so right now they're calling it Restrictive Airways Disease (RAD). Because his condition has been flaring up so frequently, the pediatrician told me to take him to a pediatric pulmonologist, and gave me the name of a doc who is supposed to be the best in town. My best friend backed up that recommnedation because her son is also a patient of his. So, I called and made an appointment. Being a new patient, they couldn't get me in right away, and then we had to wait a little while longer because of our trip. So I made the appointment for May 21st (this was about 6 weeks ago). After that, Ben flared up again and ended up back in the doctor. I told her when the appointment was, and she wanted to try to pull some strings and get us in earlier, before our trip. When I didn't hear anything after a couple days, I called the ped's office to follow up, and found out that nothing had been done (this was my first clue to just leave it alone!). So the girl said she was going to call the pulmonologist and see what she could do. Almost two weeks passed and I hadn't heard anything, so I figured that if they were able to get us in, they would call. Then on May 5th at 4:30 p.m. I got a call from the ped's office saying that the pulm could see us tomorrow. I told her that I'm sorry but I can't do tomorrow, so I'll just keep my appointment for the 21st. I come to find out that she hadn't simply checked the pulm's availability, but she had actually rescheduled our appointment, losing our May 21st slot. I told her she had to get it back for me because she wasn't supposed to change anything before checking with me. I got a call back (with much attitude) saying that she got my May 21st appointment back. So I didn't think too much about it.

Fastforward to yesterday. We get home and there is a message on our answering machine from the pulm's office saying that we had no showed our appointment on the 6th and seeing if we wanted to reschedule. I'm sorry, what??? I instantly knew what had happened and was livid! So I called the pulm's office this morning to confirm Ben's appointment tomorrow and of course was told that his appointment was on May 6th and we had no showed for it. Arg! So now we have no appointment, even though I made an appointment that worked for everyone six weeks ago. I hate having to suffer for other people's stupid and careless mistakes. It just really ticks me off. I called and gave the ped's office an earful... not that they can fix it, but I needed to direct my anger towards the ones who deserve it!

So now the pulm's office is trying to work with us to get us another appointment with the doctor we requested before the end of June, which is their next availability. If we can't see him, then we'll get our initial visit with another doctor and follow up with the other one once we're not considered a new patient anymore, and move up on the appointment scheduling totem pole.

Update: Just got a call from the pulm, and they were able to get us our appointment back for tomorrow!!! Oh happy day!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Home Sweet Home

We are finally home from our 8 day vacation. What a time it was. I am still amazed at how well everything went. The only sad part is that we have lost two of our beloved stuffed animals on our trip. Joshua's Tigger ended up somewhere, but we're not sure where (maybe at Aunt Pam's which means there might be hope of getting it back!), and the monkey that Great Grandma gave him was accidentally left on the plane. I have called the airline to report it lost and am hoping that it turns up and is sent back to us. He's very sad to have it go missing.

When we landed at the airport, our friend Todd came to pick us up, and was nice enough to park and come in to meet us at baggage claim, giving us an extra set of hands to get everything out to the car. My friend Jen (Todd's wife) turned on the air conditioner in our house earlier in the day so that we didn't walk into a stuffy sauna. How nice is that!

When we got home, Ben was so happy to see all of his toys again. Especially after being cooped up in his car seat or the stroller all day long. He gave each of his toys some playtime, and was completely engrossed in self play all evening. It was so sweet to watch. It looked like he really missed all of his toys.

Tomorrow will be a day of grocery shopping, laundry and picking up the dog from my parent's house. Hopefully we'll find some time to just lay around too. We so enjoyed our vacation and hope it won't be another 7 years until we can do it again!

Last Stop: Chicago!

(Hold on to your hats... this is going to be a long one, with lots of photos!)

We spent the last two days of our Midwestern Tour in downtown Chicago. What a town! I had anticipated being a little intimidated by it, but to be honest, I absolutely loved it! We stayed in another Residence Inn, like the one we stayed at in Peoria, and were right in the heart of it all. It was amazing. Here is the view from our room on the 17th floor.

The weather on Thursday was absolutely gorgeous. We couldn't have asked for a better spring day in Chicago. So we decided to take full advantage of it, knowing that storms were likely for Friday. First order of business was to head down to Navy Pier. It was about a mile away from the hotel, and there was a free trolley that dropped us off right at the entrance.

The pier was such a cool place to hang out. We rode the 150 foot Ferris Wheel...

And the carousel ...

And did some souvenir shopping. The view of the Chicago Skyline was incredible with Lake Michigan in the foreground.

After the pier we hoofed it over to...

to check out "The Bean"

I'll be the first to admit that I don't really get art, and this piece is no exception, but Andrew had fun taking pictures of our reflections in The Bean.

Millennium Park also had a beautiful garden, that nicely contrasted the vast city and towering buildings that were its backdrop.

We then crossed the street over to Grant Park to see the famous Buckingham Fountain. If you're not familiar with this particular fountain, just think of the opening credits to Married with Children! It was so pretty, and so BIG!

Grant Park was so pretty. I could have just sat on a park bench and drunk it in all afternoon, but alas we must keep children busy! So Joshua and I decided to have a race through some trees instead (it ended in an honest tie!)

The day quickly got away from us, and before we knew it, it was nearly 7:00 and we hadn't even eaten dinner yet! So we trekked back to the pier to catch the trolley back to the hotel. What an eventful walk back that was! The path you must take to get back to the pier takes you over a couple bridges. Of course it's over the bridges that Ben, who is sitting in his stroller, decides to start fiddling with anything he can get his hands on. And of course, we have to walk as far to the right edge as possible so as not to be run over by zooming bicycles who share the path with pedestrians. So first bridge, he kicks his cup holder, which is a separate piece from the stroller tray, over the side where it lands safely in the grass... about 20 feet below us. Okay, so I guess that's gone. Oh well. We're just about done with this stroller anyway, so no biggie. Next bridge... which goes over the Chicago River, he starts playing with his binky (Sidenote: yes, he totally fell off of the binky wagon this last week but who cares... it made life so much easier!), when all of a sudden he lost his grip on it, and where does it go? You guessed it. Spalsh! Into the river. He still gets sad over losing his binky. He tells us "Uh-oh. Binky river!" Good thing we brought backups with us!

After we finally made it back to the hotel, it was 8:00 and we were all exhausted and starving. We had no intention of taking the kids out to dinner that night, so Andrew decided to head out for some Giordano's Pizza to bring back to the room. After figuring out where it was, he walked the 10 blocks to the restaurant all by himself, navigating the city streets like a pro. He was so proud of himself. He said he felt like a big boy. =) The pizza was amazing, and went well with the midwest favorite, Old Style that we washed it down with.

After that day, exhaustion doesn't even begin to describe how tired we were!

The next morning the sky was threatening to open up at any time, so we decided to get an early move on to experience the Magnificent Mile and Hancock Tower before the storm started. We started at Hancock, and took the fastest elevator in the U.S. to the 94th floor observatory. Our timing was impeccable. As soon as we were in line for the elevator, with only about 10 people ahead of us, an enormous field trip of middle schoolers came in, filling the waiting room. So glad they were right behind us instead of right in front of us! Once we got up there, all we could say was "Wow." What spectacular views from up there.

We headed back down Michigan Avenue, also known as the Magnificent Mile to do some shopping on the way back to the hotel. We stopped at the Hershey Store, where Joshua got to play with a chocolate machine, which he thought was super cool.

And we also stopped off at the Disney Store and Lego Store.

As we passed in and out of shops, the rain started to fall. We had thought enough to put Joshua's rain jacket on him, but only had one umbrella with us, which I tried to hold over myself and the stroller as we scurried through the rain. It was just about lunchtime, and the rain wasn't too bad yet, so we decided to stop off at the Rock & Roll McDonalds to pick up lunch on the way back to the hotel.

It really didn't seem to be much more than a double decker McDonalds with some nostalgia in cases. There might have been more to it, but it was totally packed and we were a little preoccupied with getting the boys back to the room before the rain got any worse. We're from Phoenix.... the rain scares us! =)

After the kids ate their lunch in the room, we put them down for a nap. However, Josh decided he didn't want to sleep, and instead found a dime that apparently looked tasty.... Yes, Joshua swallowed a dime. You've just got to wonder what kids are thinking when they do such things! Thankfully it went down okay and he didn't choke, and we have confirmed with the pediatrician that all we have to do is wait for it to come out the other end. Oh, Joshua!

He did finally lay down and go to sleep for a while, giving us a little more of a break than it had originally looked like. After I got him up, Josh and I threw on our swimsuits and headed up to the 27th floor to take a dip in the pool, since there really wasn't anything else for us to do given the weather.

The pool wasn't as heated as I would have liked, and Josh thought it was way too cold, but he did discover the hot tub, and decided that was just right for him. He was cracking me up, because he didn't want to be in the cold water, so we'd get in the hot tub, but then he would see all the other kids having fun in the pool, and he decided he wanted to go over there. Of course after being in the hot tub, the pool water felt even colder, so every time he went over there he chickened out of getting in after getting his feet in the pool. But that was fine with me. I was totally cool with hanging out in the hot tub!

That was pretty much our time in Chicago. I would love to go back there someday when the boys are a little older so we could hit some of the museums, and definitely a game at Wrigley. But we had so much fun and got to do everything we set out to do. I love Chicago!


On Wednesday morning we headed to Madison to visit with some old friends, David and Bridget Lockridge, and check out their town. Andrew and David go way back to high school, and were roommates about 10 years ago. He's also been friends with Bridget for more than 10 years, and ended up introducing them. We ended up not getting into town until almost lunch time, so after meeting up with them we went to a local restaurant chain called Noodles & Company for lunch. It was pretty darn tasty. Ben devoured a bowl of homemade Mac n Cheese, and Joshua surprised us by eating almost a whole chicken breast but not very much of his noodles (it usually would go the other way around!)

After lunch we headed over to the farm where Bridget's horse Venture lives. Venture is a 19 year old Arabian, and so beautiful. Although Josh seemed really excited to see the horse, we thought sure that once he was in front of it, he would get scared and not want to be too close. How wrong we were! He brushed Venture, gave him a treat, and even got to ride him! He had a blast!

Of course Ben wasn't going to sit by and let his brother have all the horsie riding fun. He wanted a ride too! He wasn't too sure about it at first, but really got a feel for it after a minute or two.

Although the weather was kind of dreary in Madison that day, it was relatively dry, so we opted to do something outdoors and headed over to the zoo (which was FREE!). We got there after most of the exhibits had already closed for the day, but we did get to see a polar bear, a very active grizzly bear and some buffalo (which Ben learned how to say almost perfectly).

Just as the zoo was closing it started to rain a bit, so we all went back to our hotel so we could say goodbye to David and Bridget without getting soaked! We really enjoyed spending the day with them in their neck of the woods!

We decided we needed to find a good local restaurant that served Wisconsin fare (aka Cheese Curds) for dinner that night. The concierge at the hotel recommended a place called The Old Fashioned in downtown Madison, right across the street from the capital building (which was beautiful).

Thankfully, our hotel offered a free shuttle to the capital so we didn't have to worry about finding or paying for parking, which was definitely a bonus! The driver was really nice and gave us some history of the area, telling us how the lakes were formed by glaciers and that Madison as the only isthmus (two lakes separated by a thin strip of land) in the United States (while we were driving over it). The food at The Old Fashioned was incredible! Of course we had to get beer battered cheese curds for an appetizer. Holy cow were those good. Josh loved them, as you can see!

Andrew ordered bratwurst and a local beer ("The Big O" I believe it was called), and I ordered The Old Fashioned House Burger, complete with a soft cooked egg on top.

I was a little wary of it at first, but the waitress told me it was incredible, and that she had been wary of the egg at first too, so I decided to give it a try. It was really really good, and so messy. I ended up eating it with a fork because the darn thing kept falling apart! After dinner we caught our ride back to the hotel to turn in for the night. Although it wasn't a perfect weather day, we had a really nice time in Madison. Thanks, David and Bridget for taking the day off and showing us around!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Vacation: Days 4 and 5 - Milwaukee

Monday was a long day in the car. The trip from Peoria to Milwaukee was the longest car ride of our trip. It's usually about 4 1/2 hours... when you're not traveling with a 3 year old and 1 year old. For us, it ended up taking almost 8 hours. Can you tell that Ben was a big fan of staying in the car so long?

But that was including a detour so that we could stop at...

How could we go to Wisconsin without taking a tour of the Jelly Belly Factory? They offer a 30 minute tour on a train, showing us exactly how Jelly Bellys are made. The tour really was a buch of videos, but it was fun to ride the train, and we did learn about what goes into making a Jelly Belly (it takes more than a week to make them!). After the tour, the kids got to check out the train's engine and we all got a sample pack of the tastey treat!

After the tour we got to taste any flavor of Jelly Belly we wanted. Andrew even tasted booger and pencil shavings jelly beans. Ew!

We were staying at Andrew's Aunt Pam's house in Brookfield, a nice suburb of Milwaukee. The neighborhood looked like something out of a movie. It was so pretty.

The next morning we headed over to Wauwatosa to visit Andrew's Grandma Maple, who lives in an assisted living home there. This was her first time meeting her great-grandchildren, and she was so excited. Grandma gave each of the boys a stuffed monkey from her collection that she's had for years (Joshua has slept with his every night since.) We spent the morning with her showing us around the facility, and she got us a private table for lunch. The kids did so well hanging out in a retirement home for the whole morning. We hadn't been sure what to expect from them, but they really came through for us.

Since they did so well at Great-Grandma's we made sure that the boys got to do something fun that afternoon. We took them to the Betty Brinn Children's Museum in Downtown Milwaukee. It was a cute little museum, and the boys had a ball. It was exactly what they needed... to be able to touch EVERYTHING! Ben's favorite part was conducting an orchestra. When the song was over he would stomp his feet, clap his hands and scream "YAY!!!"

We also got to spend a lot of time with Aunt Pam and Uncle Steve, which was great because we never get to see them. Pam got to come to our wedding, but we didn't get to spend much time with her, so it was wonderful to have the chance to really get to know them, and what awesome people they are. It was so nice of them to open up their home to us for 2 nights. Pam even found some toys in their basement to occupy the boys.

We had a great time in Milwaukee. On to Madison!