Photo Fun Monday 07.30.12

 Last Tuesday we visited my sister 2 hours away in Waukegan and we drove the 5 minutes to Gurnee Mills outlet mall. They have a Rainforest Cafe restaurant and we figured Jay was old enough to go and enjoy it. Here he is, sipping chocolate milk and playing with the crayons they gave him. He seemed to enjoy it and after he ate I walked him around the restaurant to check out all the different anamtronic areas. He liked the big gorillas!

 Friday evening we went out for dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings, where we watched the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games in London! This is kinda neat actually as 4 years ago we were sitting at Buffalo Wild Wings, on the opposite side of the restaurant from where we were here, watching the opening ceremonies! It's kinda become a tradition... hard to believe that was already 4 years ago though!

 Sleepy doggie, all curled up!

 Here she is using Jay's Rock n Roll Elmo as a pillow, lol...

 Jay wanted the Goldfish crackers so I brought them down for him. We thought he was done so we closed it up and sat it on the couch. Guess not - I looked over and saw him with his arm all the way in the big box, helping himself!

 Enjoying some Chuck E Cheese pizza while watching the Chuck E Cheese anamatronics up on the stage. Wanting to get out of the house on Sunday for a bit, we were limited to doing something indoors as it had already rained and looked like it was going to rain again. We decided to take Jay to Chuck E Cheese since he hasn't been there since last Thanksgiving. $20 for a pizza, 2 drinks and 25 tokens = 2 whole hours of fun for Jay!

 Riding the Chuck E mobile!

 *THE* Chuck E Cheese came out and visited Jay. He got really excited and was trying to climb across the car to get to him!

 Just in awe of meeting the real Chuck E Cheese!

 "Did you guys see that?! It was Chuck E Cheese!"

 They didn't have the Bob the Builder tractor ride Jay loved so much last time we were there. Instead, this Noah's Ark ride was its replacement. Jay enjoyed it for a whole 30 seconds.

 He found a Clifford ride and decided to have a staredown with the dog.


Book Club Friday: Dear American Airlines

This past week I finished "Dear American Airlines" by Jonathan Miles.

Summary from GoodReads:
Sometimes the planes don’t fly on time.

Bennie Ford, a fifty-three-year-old failed poet turned translator, is traveling to his estranged daughter’s wedding when his flight is canceled. Stuck with thousands of fuming passengers in the purgatory of O’Hare airport, he watches the clock tick and realizes that he will miss the ceremony. Frustrated, irate, and helpless, Bennie does the only thing he can: he starts to write a letter. But what begins as a hilariously excoriating demand for a refund soon becomes a lament for a life gone awry, for years misspent, talent wasted, and happiness lost. A man both sinned against and sinning, Bennie writes in a voice that is a marvel of lacerating wit, heart-on-sleeve emotion, and wide-ranging erudition, underlined by a consistent groundnote of regret for the actions of a lifetime—and made all the more urgent by the fading hope that if he can just make it to the wedding, he might have a chance to do something right.

http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1286542570l/9475141.jpgHaving flown out of O'Hare plenty of times, not to mention growing up my dad was flying off on business trips nearly every week, I get the frustration in this book. Getting delayed at an airport sucks. Fortunately for me, I've never been stuck at an airport for more than an hour or so (at least, from what I can recall). And given that I've seen on Twitter various people from Mrs Monologues to washed-up 80s singer Richard Marx (his tweets are pretty hilarious!) complaining about the quality of service American Airlines offers their passengers these days... I'm not surprised that American Airlines is the choice airline villain in the book!

I first heard of this book years ago when it popped up on a Coming Soon or Bestseller email blurb from either Borders (RIP) or Barnes and Noble. I was intrigued by the plot - it seemed like an interesting idea for a book, so when I came across it in a bargain bin during one of Border's infamous summer tent sales I grabbed it.

There are no chapters in this book, as we're reading one very long 192 page angry letter to the airline. It's broken up into small parts (the longest stretch I noticed was about 10 pages) as Bennie leaves the bar or a seat at the gate or wherever to get a smoke or stretch his legs, coming back only to detail an interaction with another stranded traveler as he continues to give his life story, which is detrimental to why it is so important for him to make it to his daughter's wedding.

Basically, he was a drunk and his daughter's mother took her and picked up and left him when his daughter was still a baby, telling him he could see her when he finally sobered up. It took a good 20 years or so and he was essentially an absent father with little to no relationship with his daughter. And was caught off guard when she invited him to her wedding, but he really felt like he should be there to make it up to to her for all their years apart. But now, of course when he really makes an effort to be there, it's the airline holding him back from keeping his word this time.

It was an alright book, short and an easy read. Bennie's past is a bit depressing though, as yeah, he royally screwed things up when it came to being a responsible father. And his childhood sounds like it wasn't much better as his mother was a tad on the crazy side. It does keep you wondering though, as we wait to see if he made it to the wedding on time if at all!

The Nail Files #6

The Nail FilesI've been seeing a lot of bloggers in Blogland lately posting about getting goodies from Julep Maven for just a penny!

Curious as to "what my style" is, I decided to check it out, after seeing the millionth post about the company - I figured "a penny, why not?"

So my style is "Classic with a Twist":
This timeless, iconic look is marked by beautiful yet simple cuts and colors. Effortlessly elegant, you love fine natural fabrics, gorgeous leather accessories and polished sophisticated hues. Whatever the latest trend, you’re always confidently in style.

Yeah, sounds about right.

Within a couple of days my Intro box arrived in the mail:

I got nail colors Rose (pink) and Robin (blue) as well as their Pedi creme which I hear great things about and some toe spacers! I tried on the Rose color on my toes - it's not bad!

I passed on the August box, just as at the time of the payment schedule, the money isn't there for it (especially with all that's been going on lately this past month or so).


Words Can't Describe...

I know it was like a week ago, but last Thursday night, during a midnight showing of the new Christopher Nolan Batman movie, 12 people were killed while 50 were injured when a man opened fire inside the movie theater!

I just... there's no words for that. It's just sad. People go to the movies to escape reality for a few hours and enjoy the entertainment onscreen before them. No one thinks something like this is going to happen! I know first hand, having worked/managed a theater for a few years, working many midnight special premieres like this for blockbuster movies, I never thought of something happening like this there!

Reports say that witnesses said someone, whom now is assumed to be the shooter, exited through the theater's side emergency exit door appearing to take a call early on in the movie and then the shooter came through the door not too long later, so obviously it was propped open.

My mom heard on the news today that someone is putting a lawsuit out against the theater, the film studio and the doctor that had been treating the shooter prior to the incident.

I can definitely see stricter policies and procedures for the theaters from now on.

When I worked there, our ushers were supposed to be doing "theater checks" every 15-30 minutes and the theater checks included checking that the exit doors were shut tight, that the sound and picture on screen were of acceptable quality, and looking for unruly patrons in the theater doing things they shouldn't be. I know though, that often times we had to remind ushers to do these checks and that some of them "half-assed" the checks.

I can see these being much, much stricter now as those emergency exit doors are supposed to be shut tight for a reason - they don't open from the outside and they swing outward so it's not like someone can kick it in.

I read somewhere that the movie started at 12:15am and calls about the shooting came in at about 12:38am. Should a theater check have been done during that time? Possibly... I know at our later shows we'd dismiss the ushers after they did one final theater check.

I'm not trying to point blame, but as a former movie theater employee of several years, it does make me wonder.

I feel horrible for all those families of the victims though! And the community... having been part of a community affected by a major shooting, I know what's that like and it's not pleasant at all. Let's be sure to continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers!


Phone Photo Fun Monday 07.23.12

This week, Jay had some fun with Grandpa's cane:


Lady Girl sheds, a lot, and my Hoover I've had for like 4 years just wasn't vacuuming up her fur from the carpet so I decided to look around and price a few. It came down to these 2:

I went with the first one - the Bissell Total Floors Pet. It was nearly twice as much as the Dirt Devil Pets (which btw, I LOVE my Dirt Devil handhelds) but the idea of 1 vacuum to use on all our floors was quite appealing!

First time using it on our family room and hallway carpets picked up all this:
 Yuck! And I had *just* vacuumed with my Hoover the day before - clearly it wasn't doing its job! You can tell a huge difference just by looking at the carpet too - it looks lighter and just cleaner in general. I used it again last night and it picked up maybe 1/4 of that, doing both the family room, hallway, part of Jay's room and the kitchen, so glad to know the initial first use seemed to get most of the dirt up. It has a 35ft cord too so I don't need to unplug halfway like I had to before - I can get the main floor, only stopping to switch to the bare-floors setting.

 Jay found himself a little nook to "read" a book. So glad he loves books! 

 Hobby Lobby had a 50% off sale on all their wood and metal decorative items so I got this piece for a great price and hubby helped me hang it in our kitchen.

 I gave Jay a haircut and I think it actually turned out pretty well this time - mom had asked me if we took him somewhere, she said it looked pretty good! It helped having hubby hold his head and distract him at the same time! He also had an incident with my parents' small dog - she hadn't seen Jay in days and was super excited to play with him, so she jumped up on him, only her paw went higher than usual and one of her nails/claws caught his face, scratching him from the eyebrow down... poor kiddo! Apparently it looks a lot worse than it actually was though - Jay's reflexes had him close his eye so no damage to his eyeball was done and it's been nearly a week and it's mostly cleared up.

 I took these 2 for a walk on one of the local walking paths this past week as we had a few days that weren't scorching hot out (I hate July for that reason - most of the month is spent inside in the A/C, it's too hot out to do anything!). Lady Girl did pretty good although Jay was getting fussy near the end of our 1st lap. Funny thing, he was giggling and smiling right up until I snapped this picture, then he became Mr. Grumpyface, lol... He thought it was hilarious to have the dog in the car with us!

Jay has this thing where he picks up objects and puts them to his ear like he's talking on the phone. Lately he's been stealing my computer's mouse and doing this. Funny thing is, we have no idea where he picked this up, as we don't usually use the phone for making phone calls often when he's awake!

Standing on his tiptoes, trying to reach either a book or a DVD, lol...


I know this is crazy... so share it, maybe?

I'm sure by now you've probably heard or seen a lot of the "Call Me, Maybe" parodies that have been floating around online. To be honest, I had heard of the stupid song, but hadn't heard it in its entirety until it recently got added to our store soundtrack at work.

Anyway, hubby saw a Twitter friend post this one last week and it had us cracking up. And it piqued Jay's interest when he heard and then saw Cookie Monster in it! Since then he's made me play it several times in a row whenever we do watch it!

It's pretty darn cute! I LOVE Sesame Street song parodies (like the recent LMFAO parody "I'm Elmo and I Know It!")


Blogger 411

I saw a few of you in my G-Reader this evening (okay, it's technically morning, but whatever - I haven't been to bed yet =) ) doing this link-up and it looks pretty fun!

1. How long have you been blogging? And what got you started on blogging? Has your blog changed?
This blog has been around since 2008/2009 but I actually started blogging back in 2003 when I was in college, on an old school Diaryland journal before switching to Livejournal for the majority of my college years. From there I blogged on Myspace for a bit and eventually I settled here on Blogger. I started blogging just as a way to share what was going on in my life, my thoughts, fun events and memories, etc. My blog has changed a lot - originally, back in college, I used to blog almost daily about my day to day adventures (or lack thereof). Then I started adding in movie reviews and thoughts on this and that. Then when I became pregnant I chronicled that whole adventure and now, being a mommy, a lot of my posting includes things about my son.

2. Did you go to college? If so where, and what did you study?
Yep, I went to NIU - Northern Illinois University - in good ol' DeKalb, IL. I started out as a journalism major, as I wanted to go into newspaper layout and design, however after working a semester on the school's newspaper doing just that, several of my fellow designers suggested I switch to the Visual Communications (VisCom) program. So I started art classes my 2nd year there, going through the art school program's prereq's for any art major, and began my VisCom classes my 3rd year. Due to stupid department politics though, I didn't pass my portfolio review. Since I already had half the requirements for a BA in Art done, I decided to just switch to that and do a journalism minor. I took every non-VisCom program graphic design class the university offered and eventually graduated (studio art classes were not my thing but unfortunately I had to take a certain number of them). I'm 3 classes shy of finishing my minor as 2 of the ones that were more design/art focused had to be taken consecutively and the 1st one wasn't offered the semester I had intended on taking it as the professor that taught it was on sabbatical or whatever that year.

3. Where have you traveled?
All over the US - growing up we always took a family vacation every year. I've done Disney World 3 times, Disneyland once, various trips to Pittsburgh area Pennsylvania to visit relatives (with stops in West Virginia as my grandparents like a few places just over the border there), St. Louis, CedarPoint in Ohio, Myrtle Beach, Virginia Beach several times, Mall of America, Pikes Peak in Colorado, Louisville Kentucky, the Wisconsin Dells... hubby and I have gone to Vegas and Dallas together... recently we just took a mini family vacation (Jay's first overnight trip!) to Madison, Wisconsin. I also took some school trips - 8th grade class trip to Toronto Canada, High School Band and Choir trip to Georgia (we visited Atlanta and Stoneledge Mountain), and our Senior class trip to Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak.

4. If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you would buy?
I would pay off our debts first - hubby's car, our house, our credit card, outstanding medical bills, payback my parents money they've lent us over the years, and then by myself a newer car that has air conditioning. Then I would probably pay for an addition onto our house so we can stay here much longer and get our landscaping/yard fixed. After that... probably save the rest, sitting some aside for Jay's private school tuition in the near future and some in an account for college tuition.

5. What are your 3 biggest pet peeves?
Having to repeat myself, people not picking up after themselves, people who suck at driving

6. What is your favorite movie?
I can't pick just one - here are some of my favorites though:
The Wedding Singer, Eurotrip, 300, Fight Club, Napoleon Dynamite, Zoolander

7. What is your drink of choice; wine, beer, or liquor. Or Water, Soda, Tea?
Usually water, or flavored water/lemonade. As far as alcoholic, I prefer mixed drinks (lately I've been enjoying TGIFriday's pre-mixed Mudslide mix, just pour over rocks!)

8. What is something you enjoy to do when you have me time?
Reading, watching TV, and doing stuff online like blogging

9. If you could have a $10,000 shopping spree to one store, which store would it be?

10. Share with us an embarrassing moment of your past? Or present.
I thought I blogged about it, but I guess not... years ago, I had a pair of jeans that zipped all the way up the outside of my legs. Now it was just a fashion detail, not intended for use, but the zippers really did work. I was making a quick stop out at the mall when the zipper broke at the top of one of my thighs! I noticed quickly and since I was heading to Victoria Secret to redeem a coupon for free underwear I showed the sales clerk my "problem" and asked if I could use one of their fitting rooms to try and fix it. It took a good 10 minutes or so until I got my pants back to a less revealing state. I quickly made my purchase and headed straight home, throwing out those pair as the zipper somehow was busted and wasn't really staying shut! Having to walk through the mall with nearly my entire leg hanging out (in winter no less!) was a bit embarrassing!

11. What day would you love to relive again?
Probably my wedding day - we had a lot of fun!

12. If your life was turned into a movie... what actor would play you?
Maybe Kate Hudson...? Or Avril Lavigne if they were documenting my high school/college years

13. What are the jobs you had in high school/college/the early years?
Like most girls, my first actual job was babysitting for families in our neighborhood. My first "official" job was for a market research company where I would sit in a cubicle, my computer would call consumers from all over the country and I had to persuade them to take a survey for research purposes - many people thought I was a telemarketer, but it paid really well at the time! The summer before college I worked for my aunt doing apartment maintenance work on several buildings her in-laws owned but her and my uncle managed. When I went off to college I started working for the school's newspaper doing design and layout which I worked at several nights a week all throughout college save for my last semester. I spent a summer as an unpaid graphics intern at my hometown's newspaper. I started working at the movie theater down at school and was there for several years, eventually joining the management team (this was my favorite job ever - if I wasn't a mommy I would totally go back to it!). 6 months after college I got a job for a small, family owned furniture sales promotion and consulting firm doing graphic design work for the business as well as for the stores we worked with. The poor economy affected that job though and my hours got cut to just being on-call and I haven't heard anything from them in nearly a year. When they first cut my hours to 2 days a week I got a part-time seasonal cashier job working for a Sears Essential store for a few months, but they couldn't afford to keep any seasonals on as they barely had enough hours to go around for their full-timers. Right before the next holiday season was when my hours got cut to the on-call so I went out and applied for jobs and being 5-6months pregnant, The Children's Place hired me for seasonal and decided to offer me a part-time position after the holidays. I'll have been there 2 years this November and am basically the senior associate on staff as the store manager is the only that's still around from when I 1st started. I don't mind it most days now that my schedule is to my liking (2-3 days a week), it gets me out of the house and around adults to somewhat socialize with, plus the discount is a great perk of the job, having a toddler who needs clothes, and it's a little extra spending money that we can spend on Jay or myself or housewares! They've talked to me about moving up to the management team several times now, however I'm not really interested in that - I was working 30+ hours a week during the last holiday season and as a mommy, it was killing me giving up that much time with Jay. Since hubby is the "bread-winner" in our house, I technically don't need to be working so I really don't want those kind of hours; 2-3 shifts a week (10-15 hours) is just fine for me.

14. Show us a picture from high school or college.

Move-in day my first weekend at college, August 2002, in my dorm's lobby
That's my 1st ever roommate, my little sis
(with the Huskie dog mascot she gave me that I *still* sleep with) and me

15. If you could travel anywhere in the world, all expenses paid, where would you go?
Europe! I would LOVE to visit Europe someday - especially France, Germany, and Czechoslovakia (specifically where my family's "motherland" Bohemia used to be)

16. Show us the most current picture of you or you and your family.
 Me, hubby and Jay at my sis's wedding back in March

And our pets:

She's a domestic Egyptian Mau who will be 4 in October
(hubby gave her to me for Christmas 2008)

Lady (aka Lady Girl) 
She's a super sweet 3 or 4 year old Border Collie/Lab/Australian Shepherd mix
whom we recently took in from my in-law's house

17. Where do you see your life 5 years from now?
5 years... I'll be on the verge of turning 33... similar to where we are now but hopefully we'll have another child added to our family and hubby will be full-time at his job at UPS so he he won't be working the crummy day job he hates and will be around more and our finances will not be so tight.


4th of July 2012

A bit late, but here's photos from our 4th of July!

Showing off his 4th of July shirt this year!
Watching fireworks with mommy

Hope yours was just as good as ours was!

"Vacation, Got to Getaway!"

In the words of the Go-Go's, we took a mini-vacation this week, just north of the border, to lovely downtown Madison, Wisconsin!

Vacation Bound!
It's important to us to make an effort and get out of town every once in awhile, even if it's just for a
day or 2. And growing up we always went somewhere for a family vacation every year, so that's one tradition I'd like to keep going.

Jay's still little, so we'd prefer not to travel too far yet, so taking a mini-vacation an hour and a half away was a good idea!

After a million and one hold-ups, we finally left town around 530pm on Thursday and arrived at our hotel just after 7pm. We booked with Hotwire.com and got a great deal at the Hilton Madison at Monona Terrace, with a view of the capitol building out our window and Lake Monona just out back. The whole captiol square district was at our doorstep.

So we checked in and hubby went to take a quick shower before we headed off to dinner - turns out, Jay can work a door handle lever now as he got the bathroom door open and walked in on daddy! LOL

We walked the 2 blocks over to The Great Dane Pub and Eatery. I had eaten there during my last visit to Monona Terrace for a Mary Kay conference back in early 2010 and knew I just had to get hubby there as he would love it! He was a little weirded out by all the waitresses dressed like stereotypical "hipsters" but he LOVED sampling all the house brews. It's a very townie/college town atmosphere. The food was good though and Jay got his 1st taste of Wisconsin Mac n Cheese.

His first time eating Wisconsin Mac n Cheese
Hubby enjoying his meal
The view of Lake Monona behind our hotel
Our hotel located in Capitol Square
of downtown Madison, WI
We walked back to the hotel and decided to go check out the hotel swimming pool. It was a small
pool, starting at 3ft deep, only going as deep as 3ft, 6in. Jay was a bit freaked out and literally clung to me the entire time we were in the pool - he even had his legs wrapped around my waist at one point! He did get a little curious though as one of his little hands let go to sneak a few splashes!

By the time we got back upstairs it was almost time for Jay to get ready for bed and we went to bed early too. Jay did sneak in a chance to explore our hotel room, checking out all the drawers - he found one that was big enough for him to walk into and really enjoyed checking out the full-length mirror accent that was propped up against one of the walls!

The next morning we got up and headed downstairs at about 1040am to get some hotel breakfast, as the guest services booklet in our room said breakfast was served til 11am, only for dining room to be completely empty and a bellhop said he thought breakfast was over at 1030am... I told him the guest services book said 11am, however he did recommend a neat little bagel place within walking distance. Since check-out was noon, we gathered up our stuff, checked out, loaded up the car and then walked in the direction of Gotham Bagels. It was a neat little bagel joint!

Watching some big bears with daddy
After we ate, we walked back to the hotel to get the car and headed off to the Henry Vilas Zoo - one of
the few remaining free zoos in the country! Jay had never been to a zoo yet and hubby and I haven't been to this one yet so we thought it would be a lot of fun! Jay really seemed to enjoy watching the orangutans play in their outdoor habitat. He also seemed really interested in the giraffes, reaching his arms up high and he seemed to like watching the tiger walk around the outdoor habitat too. We also got to see a baby seal swimming with its mommy, who was the 1st seal to give birth after spending 10 years in captivity! Jay's eyes got really big when he saw a big brown bear and a polar bear! It's a smaller zoo (we were able to do the whole zoo in an hour and a half), but for a kid Jay's age, it's a perfect size! They're also in the process of expanding to include an arctic area.

We got him a few suveniours too - a stuffed little giraffe (since he has several monkeys and cats already), a "Future Zookeeper" shirt, and a zoo straw bottle. I also bought a magnet for our fridge.

All the funness of Ella's Deli!
Jay checking out the trains inside our table & flipping through a menu

After the zoo, we headed over to the infamous Ella's Deli for lunch and ice cream! Jay seemed to recognize the place when we walked in, as I had took him there when he was 6 months old or so, but he seemed to enjoy it more this time, as he was more interested in all the stuff there is to look at it. We had a great table too - under the glass were model trains to look at! After lunch we got their ice cream - Jay got a dish of his favorite, mint chip, hubby and I got tulip sundaes. Once we were done we paid the bill, I bought a magnet for the fridge and a token for Jay to ride the old fashioned carousel outside!
Hopped up on ice cream!
First Carousel Ride!
And he LOVED the carousel! I sat him on a horse, put his hands on the pole and once it started, going up and down, he got the biggest grin on his face, squealing with delight! When it was time to get off, we walked out the exit, only for Jay to run back towards the entrance - he wanted to go again! LOL

Our loot!
All in all, despite it only being 24 hours or so, I'd say it was a fun trip - lots of 1st for Jay - his first hotel stay, his first trip to the zoo and his first carousel ride!