Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Compact Update

Rick is such a bad influence on me.

Surely I've mentioned how tough it is for me to not buy the Twilight New Moon DVD since I'm doing The Compact and committed to not buying anything new for the year. I first saw that it was available at Costco for $16 and passed it up like a good Compact-er should. Then I had hopes of being able to buy it in a few months once it went to the previously viewed section of the local video store. But the other day, as I was looking over our bank accounts I noticed a charge that seemed odd. I asked Rick about it and he said it was his Columbia House DVD club and he forgot to cancel this month's automatic shipment of the director's pick movie. By the time he went to select the option to refuse this month's selection, it was too late. His excuse was that he was thinking about adding more DVDs to the order and forgot. At first, I was really mad since the director's pick is always super expensive and you never get a deal on it. I started to reprimand him for being careless and wasting money since I just assumed we'd have to send it back and pay more for shipping. He quickly stopped me mid-sentence by admitting that this month's selection was the Twilight New Moon DVD. I pretended to be really upset and he pretended he'd be willing to send it back. Then I waiting patiently until it arrived in the mail and insisted on helping him open it, all the while offering to ship it back for him. He refused my offer on the basis that it would be even more expensive to return and we should just cut our losses. What a guy! I feel a tiny bit guilty, but it really wasn't my fault so I'm letting it slide this time.

The other tough part of The Compact this month was our trip to Minneapolis for my friend Cadence's wedding. You see, when I go to Minneapolis, I shop. It's what I do. They don't have sales tax on clothing and I live in Chicago where we have the highest or second highest sales tax in the nation at 10.25+%. It's beyond ridiculous here and I love a good deal so I tend to splurge whenever I'm in Minnesota. And, Cadence likes to shop so, it's our thing. Last time I went up to help her with wedding stuff, we were too busy to shop and I was good. This time, I tried to shop and even searched for a maternity resale store so that I'd be able to stay true to The Compact while filling a need for a bit more "big momma" clothes. So how did I do?

I succeeded at being good. I ended up buying one shirt that I'm not excited about but Rick says looks "cute". I was going for "hot momma" or "sexy" or "you don't even look pregnant" but instead I got "cute" and "comfortable". What do you expect? It was $6, with no sales tax, from the maternity resale store. As far as The Compact goes, I succeeded. As far as fixing the gaps in my wardrobe and making myself feel phenomenally awesome, I failed miserably.

The most painful part was following up that sad $6 shopping spree with a trip to the mall a few blocks away in which Rick was able to find two pair of dress shoes, a shoe horn, a dress shirt, matching tie, and a new suit. Seriously? He's making out like a bandit on my Compact commitment. Whatever money I've been saving by not shopping, he's been spending on updating his wardrobe. And I can't blame him. He only shops once every five year and gets a ton of wear out of his work clothes so I can't complain. Especially not when he gets 20+% off and doesn't pay sales tax. Nice. What's good for him is good for us both. It just isn't easy to sit back and watch him have all of the fun. Thankfully, my friend Jen got a few more maternity clothes back that she had loaned to her friend in Texas and they will add a much needed spark to my wardrobe for this final eight-week stretch -- and I'll admit her designer jeans do make my butt look good.

In other really-darn-lucky-me news, I was thoughtful enough to pack a back-up dress for the wedding "just in case". I don't know what made me do it but I listened to whatever it was and it turned out to be right. We drove all of the way up to Minneapolis to get into town with just enough time to check into our hotel room and change into our dress clothes for the rehearsal dinner when I realized that the original dress I had fit into just fine three weeks ago--not a maternity dress mind you--no longer fit and looked awful. I had the foresight to make sure black accessories would work with all dress options so it all turned out just fine in the end. Crisis averted. Good thing too since we didn't have any time to spare and I wasn't about to go shopping for a new dress to wear to the wedding. We later found out that I could have rented one from this maternity resale shop, but I think it would have been brown instead of black and you can just imagine the drama that would have created as I frantically searched for a pre-loved purse, shoes, sweater, and jewelry. It would not have been good at all.

Moral of the story: The Compact takes more time, more creative thinking and problem solving, a lot of supportive friends willing to lend you their stuff, a patient spouse, and a knack for planning ahead, but it is rewarding in the end knowing that you can do it.

Allergies at 2?

As parents, we worry about dietary allergies and what we are exposing our children to that could cause an alarming reaction and a scary trip to the emergency room. I’ve never really worried with Ada since neither Rick nor I have a history of allergies. I’m aware of the dangers and know to get her to the ER. I’ve heard stories of peanut allergies mostly. But it never really occurred to me that Ada might have seasonal allergies like Rick. We all had a bad cold during the Winter/Spring season transition, or I assumed it was a cold. Then Rick realized it was allergy season and our doctor suggested Zyrtec. Tree pollen has been bad all month so that could be it. Combined with a four day vacation at Grandma and Grandpas’ houses with multiple dogs and cats, makes me seriously suspect allergies as the cause.

In talking to friends about Ada’s symptoms – coughing so much she throws up clear phlegm or her latest meal, often at night or first thing in the morning, and now involving tons of snot that I’d classify as yellowish and disgusting—I’ve heard that some parents are having success with Zyrtec but it takes a few days to kick in so you have to keep them on it for awhile. Another recommendation was the addition of probiotics (like those found in Activa Yogurt) to her diet, which worked for a friend of a friend. And still another mom suggested getting children allergy tested once they are over two since that's when it is more accurate. I’m not excited about doing that until we know the Zyrtec doesn’t help and if we haven’t had any luck figuring out the causes just by observing her and taking note of what possible triggers may be.

Rick, on the other hand, is all for the allergy testing. Clearly he has never been tested, isn’t totally clear on what it entails and how painful it can be, and hasn't heard the horror stories. Or he just considers the benefits of knowing what she's allergic to more important than that trauma it will put her through. I had a friend who was tested in college and learned that she was allergic to 90% of the allergens she was tested for. I remember her showing me the red welts covering her entire back afterwards all labeled with their corresponding allergens. She was miserable for hours after the skin test. How do you explain that experience to a two-year-old? That’s where I draw the line. If Rick wants to know what the specific allergens are and the doctor recommends Ada should be tested, that’s fine. But I won’t be around when they do it unless they prove to me that it needs to be done.

In talking with other moms of kids with allergies, I am more thankful that Ada hasn’t had any food allergies so far. And I’m planning to stock up on Benedryl allergy strips to put in the car, house, diaper bag, and my purse so that I’m ready to at least buy her, or another child whom I happen to be around, enough time to get to the ER for treatment should they have a bad reaction. I’ve heard they are a lifesaver, literally. Not that I want to live in constant fear of having a kid react to an allergen on my watch, but it would give me more piece of mind since I don't cary EPI pens around in my back pocket.

Moral of the story: Watch for allergic reactions in your own children, be cautions when watching other children, and be prepared to act quickly should an allergy appear. That's the best you can do.

Day Care Drama – Good Cop, Bad Cop?

Ada seems to still be doing well at day care. Now that she isn’t crying every time we drop her off, we’ve noticed that she has picked favorites from her staff of care providers. Monica is her clear choice as Ada lights up, jumps from her stroller and runs toward her in the morning for the biggest of hugs. That makes me feel great. That isn’t something a two-year-old can fake either.

On the other hand when anyone else answers the door, Ada isn’t nearly as excited. She either quietly follows me into the building or cries the whole way if she sees her other care givers. When I asked Monica if it was a good cop, bad cop routine she just said they have different styles and the other care giver is more old school and strict. I’m a bit surprised to see that they don’t have similar styles of discipline across the board at the day care. Obviously there are many styles that work and some kids respond better to various techniques. Since Monica is headed for vacation next week, I think Rick and I need to politely pose the question of how their styles differ, how they think Ada is adjusting, and see what we can do to get Ada to like both “cops”. I’m not excited that she appears to fear or avoid one of her primary care givers. It is comforting to know she really likes the other one, but I’d be happier if we can balance that out a bit more. We’ll see how it goes.

Moral of the story: Day care is never a “set it and forget it” situation. Constant surveillance and monitoring of your child’s situation is a must and never easy.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Now I'm "Round"

This past weekend, Rick and I road tripped up to Minneapolis for the wedding of a very close friend. I'm not excited about road trips and Minneapolis is about the limit of a distance I'm willing to travel in a car without breaking up the trip and making it into something awesome. It isn't a trip I'd be excited about if we weren't able to leave Ada to be passed between, and spoiled by, both sets of grandparents.

A lot happened on the trip, but the main highlight was the epiphany that I am now round.

Bear with me and this will make sense in a moment.

Before the Friday night wedding, we needed to grab some lunch and chose a restaurant on the pedestrian street in downtown Minneapolis called Nicolette Mall. We found a nice place and they only had outdoor seating on high-top tables. Outdoor seating is always tight since sidewalk square footage is so limited and demand for the tables tends to be high when the weather is nice, which it was.

As we sat down at the table, I first had to ask Rick to come over and push my seat closer as the chair's height wasn't allowing me to wiggle anywhere. There was no way a server could have fit between me and the guy at the table behind me. We enjoyed a nice meal and watched as the servers scooted sideways through the crowded lunch goers with guacamole bowls and taco dishes held high. Yum. What a way to spend a Friday afternoon.

There was a moment when my food came that I went to roll open my black fabric napkin and ended up rolling my silverware right off the table top and onto the floor. Thankfully, a thinner, younger woman at the next table hopped down to get it for me. I'm not sure that I would have ever been able to get back up if I'd gone for them, but it didn't really matter since the silverware was soiled at that point anyway. Rick ended up giving me his and ate his tacos with his hands since mine were on flat, hard tortillas and his were soft.

After a delicious meal and good conversation, mixed with my discomfort from the constant state of heartburn that I was in for the duration of the trip, it was time to go. I hopped down from my chair and made it around the table with no problem. Then we had to shimmy sideways toward the entrance and that's when Rick pointed out what should have been obvious to me at this point: turning sideways doesn't do a damn bit of good--I'm the same width either way--side to side or protruding belly button to spine. Sad but true.

As I struggled to squeeze out of the roped off seating area, Rick and I burst into uncontrolled laughter at the thought of my belly matching my width. Thank goodness I have better bladder control at this point in the pregnancy because we couldn't stop laughing.

See if I knowingly choose to sit at outdoor high-top tables while pregnant again!

Moral of the story: There is a point in pregnancy where turning sideways or sucking it in isn't effective anymore. Just remember, it isn't permanent. This too shall pass.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ada's Eviction Notice

This is the story of how Ada's room, as she once knew it, is gone. Over. Done with. Fini.

Poor kid.

She wasn't even bad. She didn't do anything to deserve this. Other parents at least wait until their child is crawling out of the crib, Superman-ing off the top railing and threatening to break his or her neck. Not us meanies. Nope. We just took over, picked a date, and made things happen.

Whatever. She's not a poor little kid. Don't pity her. The way I see it, she just entered the land of the free. No crib to keep her confined. She's spoiled and just got super lucky with the fact that her old crib doesn't turn into a toddler bed, whereas the new one does. In order for Baby Brother (BB) to fit into her room, she had to move to the big girl bed, and freedom. Tough life, I know.

So how is she handling it? Well... the first afternoon as we tore apart her room, she told me to kiss off when I tried to get her to take a nap. I even crawled into the toddler bed with her--while holding my breath and praying that it would hold me, BB in the belly, and 35 lbs of Ada, not to mention her 10 stuffed animals that permanently inhabit the surface of her mattress. It held, and she held firm on the no nap front too. I gave up and we kept on cleaning, reorganizing, and rearranging. But I wasn't all that surprised when 8 pm came and Ada climbed up on my chest and belly for a cuddle, and passed out within five minutes. It must be exhausting watching movies while your parents rearrange your whole room. I know it was exhausting rearranging it. And I'm thankful I don't have to put cribs together more than once or twice in my lifetime. Next time I'm just going to watch the video online instead of trying to translate the instruction manual.

The good news is, she's been good about sleeping in there at night so far. And we won't be home for her to take a nap until a week from now so we can deal with that issue later. She doesn't seem to be able to really turn her door handle quite yet either so she's still semi-contained, at least confined to her room. We'll see how long that lasts.
Free at last. Free at last. Ada Quinn is free at last.
I went in to take photos of the new set up tonight, but it's kind of a disaster zone so I'll have to wait a few more days.

Moral of the story: Some kids love their independence, others fear it. Hope for the best and try to instill an appreciation and acceptance of change in your child from day one. It pays off.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Momma Yoga

In an attempt to stay healthy and limber during my pregnancy, I've been taking prenatal yoga classes. The classes are wonderful and relaxing and all around awesome, when I can get to them. It hasn't been easy to actually get there with our hectic schedules and colds and Ada being sick and traveling, etc.

Luckily, a friend loaned me a prenatal yoga DVD so I could practice at home. Sadly, I'm 28 weeks along and finally found time this weekend to do a little yoga. The DVD is awful, but Ada (and Piggy) found a way to make it fun.

I think I got more of a workout laughing at her than I did doing the yoga. Either way, it was fun for the whole family.
Moral of the story: To make exercising more fun, find a way to include your toddler. You might not get the workout you expected, but you're likely to have a good time doing it.

Easter Bunny Flu

Not to be confused with Swine Flu or Avian Flu, Ada caught a bout of the post-Easter Bunny Flu. Just a stomach bug really, but it knocked her out for a day and made my life a lot more messy. Here she can be seen passed out on the couch with Pooh Bear as a makeshift pillow. She was so exhausted that she feel asleep watching her 2nd movie of the morning. Too bad the towel wasn't more strategically placed. I was expecting it to protect the couch for anything that may not have settled with her that morning. Instead, she drank so much juice and water to get rehydrated that her diaper leaked, a lot. Now we are on a mission to learn how to clean down feather couch cushions.
Moral of the story: When it comes to having a sick child, cover every hard-to-clean surface with a plastic barrier and then washable blankets. The trick is to prevent liquid seepage whenever possible.

Ada's First Cultural Lesson

Being an educator all his life, it's in Bobpa's blood to make sure Ada learned something during her time in Lake Geneva. What better way to learn than with some Saturday morning cartoons......en Espanol!
Apparently, he also taught her a new game involving her silky pajama pants that somehow makes the leather couch into a sort of slide. Never a dull moment.
Moral of the story: An opportunity to enhance a child's learning should never be overlooked. Even if it isn't in their native tongue.

A Windy Easter Sunday

The final leg of Ada's whirlwind weekend with Grandparents was a trip back into the city for Sunday Brunch. DD brought her back in our car and Bobpa lead in his car so they'd have transportation home. It worked out quite nicely for us since we didn't have to go anywhere and just had to give up our car for a few days. Thankfully we have public transit.

As with any trip home for Ada, the first half hour is spent unloading all of her loot. Somehow, she's got these grandparents all suckered into buying her cute things. They justify it by this being a holiday and Spring and she's outgrowing her Winter wardrobe. I think they forget that I have 1050sf and only one room of that belongs to Ada--and will soon be shared with her little brother-to-be.
This time her loot included new clothes, three new pairs of shoes, socks, an unidentified stuffed animal, Easter baskets, an Easter hat, dress, and sweater, a book, a coloring book, candy, a Spring jacket, and surely a few things I've forgotten.

Since it was such a nice day, we decided to walk to the restaurant, Mon Ami Gabi, across from the Lincoln Park Conservatory. Ada again got a good deal since she only had to walk a few blocks and then hopped into her awaiting chariot, chauffeured by Bobpa.

Lunch was nice, minus the micro burst tornadoes that carried away our menus, broke drinking glasses, stole my napkin, took Ada's masterful artwork and crayons several tables away and tried to steal Bobpa's jacket from the back of his chair three times. It was really windy and the wind block on the fence couldn't stop the powerful swirls that kept us on edge waiting for the next burst to blow our meals away. At least the food was good and the rest of the family enjoyed the bloody mary bar so that made up for the wind, mostly.
After several attempts, I was able to get in this decent photo of Ada's Easter dress and hat. Don't look too closely or you might notice the 12 inch stripes of blue crayon she added to make it her own. I'm not ruling out a career in fashion design in her future just yet...
The walk home was a windy one, but Ada didn't seem to mind... until she got to the corner and ran out of energy.
Bobpa kept her from blowing away and tucked her into the stroller for the trek home. Not surprisingly, she passed out on the way.
Moral of the story: It's hard work being spoiled, but well worth it for everyone involved.

Hoppy Easter

So smart of me to ship Ada to the Grandparents' for the weekend.

It took a ton of coordination (okay, an hour maybe), but boy was it worth it.

A huge thanks to Great Aunt Terri for driving Ada out to Sycamore and for signing songs to her until she passed out at Rt 59. (I'm not sure who had more fun. Terri was pretty excited...maybe she always wanted a little girl???)

Another huge thanks goes to Grandma Ba and Grandpa Rich for swooping her up and entertaining her for day one. Rumor has it that Ada had fun testing out the cushions on the couch shopping trip. And her Easter egg hunt at home prepared her for the real deal Saturday morning in Lake Geneva. She had to show those Wisconsin Cheeseheads how it's done.

My only question is...who is the yellow animal in the green dress? I know it's a character from a Dr. Seuss book and it came from Kohl's, but I can't find a name of the thing for the life of me. I think it's a bird of some sort, so she remains nameless...
And a final big thanks goes to DD and Bobpa for venturing to Lake Geneva with a two-year-old in tow. Not an easy feat, but one they made look super easy (which secretly enrages me since Ada's been such a little devil for me lately and she got rave reviews from all of the grandparents, including being referred to as an "angel". Is it possible that they are blinded by love?)
In Bobpa's house, you can't go Easter Egg hunting on an empty stomach. Turns out Ada likes his cooking (and I think he likes cooking for her, too.)

After a rain delay in the park and relocation of the big event to the dry indoors, DD, Bobpa and Ada arrived just in time for the hunt to begin. Somehow, DD rigged it so Ada got in with the "Under 2" category and could dominate the competition with her 3 month age advantage and towering size. She came out with 5 eggs, 2 of which she shared with a little boy who had none. That's the spirit DD! Get her nice and rich and teach her how to donate to the less fortunate. Now all she needs is the "Future Philanthropist" bumper sticker on her tri-cycle.

I'd say the hunt was a huge success since one of the eggs had a coupon for a free treat from Culver's inside. Lucky duck.

Then there was the photo opp with her newest furry friend. This is also DD's maiden voyage with my camera so I have to give her credit for getting it in focus and not cutting Ada's head off. She gets a B+ for her first attempt.
All in all not a bad 2 days for Ada.
Rick and I on the other hand...I guess it really isn't the other hand if we had fun too. We had our first date in months as we kissed Ada goodbye and wished her well on her Easter adventure. Thursday night was an average dinner at a local pub and early to bed. Friday I got a ton of work done, and laundry too. I met up with Rick and his co-workers downtown for happy hour at the Lakefront Brewery Rooftop. His thoughtful co-workers found me a chair since they felt bad for the preggo having to stand at a bar drinking lemon water as they partook in the local fare. So sweet of them.
Then we went for a fabulous dinner at La Scarola, an Italian family restaurant on Grand near Halstead. I had the best Sea Bass I've ever eaten. So delicious. And then we came home and grabbed a slice of banana chocolate cake from the Bagel Deli near our house and nursed that over the next 3 days whenever my sweet-tooth craving kicked in.
Saturday we went to breakfast at a local diner on Clark (The Golden Nugget) that was AWFUL. So beyond bad we should have just left. At least now we know better. It was rainy and I wanted to try something new, but close since we didn't have a car. That was our best solution as I thought a friend had recommended it. Clearly I was imagining the recommendation. We won't make that mistake twice.
Luckily, we made up for it with a trip downtown to see Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland -- in 3D! I'm sad to admit, but it was our first 3D movie since the new technology has become so popular. I was shocked by the ticket prices and almost fell over at the kiosk. Yaozers! But it was worth it. We are crossing our fingers that Avatar comes back to IMAX in 3D at some point so we can see that one as it was meant to be seen since a 3D flat screen TV isn't in our near future.
My mishap of the weekend involved a bit of spilled water -- typical me. I forgot to check my SIGG bottle to be sure the lid was fastened securely inside as I filled it with water from home to take into the theater. I stuck the bottle in my purse and hopped into a cab. Poor Rick was worried my water broke in the back seat since I slid out at our destination and the seat was drenched. I quickly assured him it wasn't me, or the umbrella, but my water bottle. The contents of my purse weren't spared, including my library book and a membership application to the Shedd Aquarium (How ironic--I wonder if a place full of water would accept a wet check?). Whoops. I'll be making a donation to the Chicago Public Library here in the near future to make up for that poor book. It did air out nicely at home so it wasn't a complete loss.
And the final highlight of our weekend was a trip to a new local restaurant that knocked our socks off. Chilam Balam is a new place that opened just a few months ago and is super close to our house(yeah!/dangerous). It's BYOB. They use sustainable ingredients from local farmers=tasty. And the food is delicious -- Mexican inspired tapas. The waiters all wear t-shirts from Threadless, which happens to have its first retail store 30 feet south of the restaurant (way to support a local business!). And, of course, we had dessert. The chocolate mousse cake with some sort of creamy goat cheese inside and an orange sauce with marshmallow something on top...whatever it is, it's delicious. And I'm a fan of the virgin sangria. YUM!
Somewhere amongst all of that eating, we watched Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'll admit that the critics had tempered my hopes of it being anything close to good, but I was delightfully surprise and entertained.
I also managed to get a ton of work done so I could meet my Wednesday work deadline. Whew. All in all, an awesome weekend... and we haven't even made it to Sunday yet...
Moral of the story: If you have the good fortune of loving family members nearby, bless them with your children so you can again experience freedom and maintain your sanity.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Ode to the Baby Wipe

Baby Wipe Baby Wipe
how great art thee,
taking away all the poop
and the pee.
For sticky hands
and faces,
so many uses
and places.
Baby Wipe Baby Wipe
how I love thee.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Day Care Update

Five weeks in and we are getting encouraging reports from Ada's new day care.

The Good:
She's fitting in. She gets along well and participates in all of the activities.
She behaves well, isn't using her high-pitched squealing voice anymore, except on the indoor play area where they think she gets a little overwhelmed and excited.
She's a good eater.
It seems like drop offs and pick-ups are a bit less dramatic. Still the occasional screaming fit and the "Mommy/Daddy don't go", but we are seeing improvement.

The Bad:
She isn't really napping for very long. Maybe thirty minutes, maybe more or less depending on the day.
Her use of a big girl cup instead of a sippy cup is improving, but could be better. Same with her fork and spoon.
Somehow, she keeps blowing out her diapers during nap time. I don't understand how this is even possible since she only naps for a few minutes, but she's coming home in backup pants more frequently.

In my quest to learn more about how she is acting at day care and if they are having the same issues with diaper changes and overall whineyness that I'm having at home, I wrote a little note hoping they could answer some of my concerns. Ms. Monica, her main caretaker, took time to write back in detail and was very encouraging. Her biggest concern is the whole napping thing, or resistance to napping to be more precise. I'm trying to come up with new solutions and tricks we can try to remedy that little issue so we'll see how it goes.

I'm also trying to figure out how to change her or clean her up before I take her home for the night. Thursday, when I picked her up, I got her outside just as I realized she had a poopy diaper. Since I'm five blocks from home and coming straight from work, I never have diapers or wipes on me. I'm thinking I'll try two things. One, always check her diaper before we leave the building and ask to change it if needed. And two, putting a small bag of wipes and a few backup diapers in her bag in case we run an errand straight from day care and need to make a change along the way. I'm also going to have to just accept the fact that I should always have a small container of wipes in my purse for all of their many uses. They really do come in handy.

Moral of the story: Transitioning into a day care routine isn't easy, but can be made easier through good communication and being on the same page.

Pregnancy and the CTA

I've started to write about this before and how much I hate taking the El train when I'm pregnant during the winter because people can't tell I'm pregnant and rarely give up their seats for me. That and I have to walk up two flights of stairs or take an elevator sure to trap me until my due date, leaving me huffing and puffing or praying that the doors open when I arrive on the platform. And the whole feeling I get when the train is taking curves at speeds faster than I like just makes me think I'm going to be on the train that tips over and causes mass chaos. Will they tend to me first since I'm pregnant? Will the belly protect me from disaster? Am I more likely to be injured severely because no one gave me their seat? I'm too busy and stressed to deal with this crap.

So, I wised up and started taking the bus yesterday. It turns out, after some hunting on the CTA website, I can walk five blocks and go almost door to door with Ada's daycare instead of trekking to the El, huffing up 2 flights of stairs and being pissed that I don't get a seat. Sweet. I don't really like the bus, mainly due to all of the potholes and the jerkiness of the trip, but it is cheaper, faster, involves less walking, and doesn't involve stairs. The recording reminding passengers to give their seats up to passengers who are elderly or disabled, also includes "expectant mothers" which don't get promoted on the El. I feel like I've moved up in the transportation world just a notch.

And the CTA has a few new features that let me know when the bus will arrive at my stop so I don't have to wait so long, which I love. There is a bus tracker that works online for some routes, but I can't get my stupid blackberry to figure that out yet, and a "bus texter" feature where I can text a code and it tells me how far away the bus is from the stop. Love it.

I almost forgot to add that I really enjoy being able to thank my bus driver for the ride, too. I can say "good morning" when I get on, and "thanks" when I get off unlike having the El driver locked in a box at the front of the train with your only hope of communicating being that you accidentally hit the emergency button in the train car or happen to walk by his or her open window as they pull up to the platform. And instead of thinking the train will tip over and cause a mass catastrophe, I now dream about how, if I went into labor, the bus is already driving right by my hospital and could just run express, dumping people out that get off before the hospital so they could wait for the next bus, and taking the rest with us as they whisk me there mid-contractions. It's a much nicer daydream to have, and since the bus driver is now my friend since I said hello to him or her, it's all good. He's got my back. Ridiculous. I know.

Moral of the story: When it comes to public transit, know your options, and keep them open.

Thank Goodness for Family Nearby

I've been so burned out this past 2 weeks since I got back from Minneapolis that I just needed some time to catch up... on sleep, housework, work, relaxation, and just un-bury myself. I'm writing this at 3 am so the sleep thing isn't working yet, but I'm optimistic.

In my burnout mode today at work, I figured out a way to have Rick's Aunt take Ada and our car out to Sycamore (she works downtown and commutes via the train usually) for the weekend. Ada's spending the night with Rick's parents, then going to see my mom and dad tomorrow to spend the weekend with them in Lake Geneva, and driving our car back here on Sunday for Easter brunch. I get 2 days of peace and quiet to get stuff done, albeit without a car. I have a massage scheduled, and don't have to travel for Easter, or cook even since my dad is taking us to Mon Ami Gabi. Whoopie. Too bad I can't sleep. I'm hoping that gets better tomorrow once I have a full day's worth of getting stuff done under my belt.

Of course, I have 2 deadlines next week for work and am nowhere near close to meeting them. Awesome! At least I can see the surface of my desk at home. And now that I don't have to chase, tickle, reprimand, cuddle, or entertain Ada for 2 days, maybe I can kick up my feet and relax the belly. It's been giving me more pain and I just fear the Dr telling me I have to "take it easy" or go on bed rest for a bit. I really don't know how people do that, but I sure don't want to have to find out. And I'm sure it isn't anything bad. Likely just a pulled groin muscle that I just have to deal with, but it still hurts and I'm exhausted.

Moral of the story: Live near family when you decide to raise children. You just can't do it alone.