Apr 10, 2016: Birthday Trip!

Hello all! We’re just back from our little overnight jaunt for Theo’s birthday. As usual, we offered him the option of having a birthday party or having a night in a hotel. He picked the night in the hotel, much to my delight—easier and less expensive than a party! He had originally wanted to go to San Francisco for his hotel night, but the prices were little steep, so he readily agreed to go to Sacramento instead.

Our plans ended up changing a bit, though, due to a goof with the pets. First of all, I forgot to even line up the pet sitter until the night before! Whoops! But that wasn’t really an issue, because our pet sitter is pretty much always available even on a moment’s notice, and that was indeed the case this time. However, he and I forgot one crucial detail: Chris changed out our deadbolt a couple of months ago because the old one was no longer working. And I had mentioned to the pet sitter that we needed to get him a new key…and then he and I promptly forgot! So Saturday, we were within about twenty miles of Sacramento when I got a text from the pet sitter, saying he couldn’t get in the house! And we hadn’t given a key to any of our neighbors, so…uh oh.

I suggested to Chris that we just spend the day in Sacramento and then head home, and he and Theo could do a night at a hotel near our house. But Chris, nice guy that he is, said it was okay—he’d drive home, leave the pet sitter a key, and then drive back up to Sacramento and meet us. We had planned to go to the Railroad Museum, but I didn’t want to take the boys on my own, so I said Chris should just drop us at my mom’s house, and we’d spend the day with her instead. So that’s what we did! We hung out with Grandma Diane and had a tasty Dos Coyotes lunch (Theo wanted Mexican food) while Chris drove 3.5 hours round trip in the rain. Ugh! He got back to Grandma Diane’s just in time for dinner, so we all got some pizza before the four of us headed the rest of the way into Sacramento to hole up at the Embassy Suites for the night.

I must take a moment to give a shout out to the Embassy Suites. I had noted on our reservation that it was Theo’s birthday wish to stay at a hotel on a high floor, and when we got there and checked into our seventh-floor room, we were surprised to see a birthday card and a bag full of goodies for the birthday boy! I thought that was a really neat touch. Also cool was the fact that some of the players from the Sacramento Kings’ heyday were staying at the hotel because Saturday night marked the last basketball game to be played at Arco Arena before it is shut down. Apparently Mike Bibby, Vlade Divac, and a few other big-name players were staying at the hotel, as well as the Utah Jazz players (who were playing the Kings in that final game at Arco). I did see a couple of basketball players in the lobby in the morning, but I suspect they were from the Jazz—I would’ve recognized Vlade or Bibby, I think.

After breakfast and checking out of the hotel, we headed to the Railroad Museum. It was Theo’s choice, and it turned out to be a great idea for both boys. Theo is now old enough to read the signs and appreciate the more adult displays at the museum, and Sam still loves to watch the model trains run and to play with the Thomas sets. We spent a couple of hours there before stopping at Dos Coyotes for lunch on the way home—Chris was envious that we had gone the day before, so he requested a repeat lunch. (I have one friend I know who is salivating right now!)

Theo’s actual birthday was Tuesday, and it was somewhat uneventful. He had school, and I baked cupcakes and decorated them with light sabers for his classmates. He told me they were a hit, and his teacher emailed me and said that when she told Theo how pretty the cupcakes were, he said, “Thank you—my mom is a marvelous baker.” HA! Imagine the praise I’d get if I actually strayed from a box mix….

Speaking of food and my culinary skills (which really aren’t all that impressive, but apparently they’re enough to satisfy an eight-year-old), I’ve decided to give Blue Apron a try. I’ve heard good reviews about it from several people, so I decided to give it a whirl. Chris gets tired of cooking every night (but he’s so darn good at it that I just let him do it!), but I don’t cook anything that has to do with meat. (Raw meat just really, really grosses me out. If I cook it, I can’t eat it.) But with Blue Apron, I can order meals that only have seafood or are vegetarian. (Seafood doesn’t gross me out. I don’t know why, but it doesn’t. Besides, I love it!) I guess they ship the ingredients for three meals a week to us on Tuesdays, with the exact amounts needed so there’s no waste, and then I prep/cook the meals. I’m willing to give it a try. It works out to just under $20/meal, and honestly, if we buy the ingredients at the store, we almost always end up spending at least $20 anyway. So price-wise, I think it will probably be a wash. (The exception is when Chris makes egg sandwiches, which he does frequently—those are quite economical, and I’m sure they’ll still be in frequent rotation on our menu.) And I like the idea of pre-measured ingredients so I’m not left with a lot of waste. So we’ll see how I like it. Our first shipment arrives on Tuesday!

Anyway, I digress. Back to Theo’s birthday: After school, we had planned to go out to dinner when Chris got home, to a restaurant of Theo’s choosing. But he wanted to open his presents first, and one was a Star Wars movie he’s been dying to see. So once he opened that, he just wanted to stay home. Easy enough—we got takeout burgers and fries from his favorite burger place, and we enjoyed a nice meal at home. It was a very low-key birthday that he seemed to enjoy, so we were happy!

And in case you missed it, I wrote a special birthday post for Theo. Click here to read it! I also wrote a post midweek about a new position I’ve taken on—click here to read that one. I’m pretty excited about it!

Oooh, and you want to know what else I’m excited about? GRANITE!! I’ve gotten a really good start on the cabinet painting, and although they aren’t perfect, I think they look really good overall. So I’m going to go ahead and finish the rest of the kitchen, and it occurred to me that if we were going to get new countertops, we should probably do it before I paint the lower cabinets. So I messaged our handyman, and he concurred—demolition of tile countertops is a messy, messy business, and he highly recommended that we do the countertop before I spend time painting the bottom cabinets. He came out on Thursday and measured and gave me a very general idea of pricing, and then on Friday we went to a discount granite warehouse and picked out some stones we like. So, sometime in the next several weeks, we should be getting our long-awaited solid countertops, as well as recessed lights in the kitchen in place of the GIANT fluorescent lights on the ceiling. (Chris calls the ceiling fixtures the “Baymax lights” because they are these huge, bulbous lights that look like the big, puffy white character Baymax in the movie Big Hero 6.) I’m really excited—and hoping it will look amazing when it’s done!

In other fun news, Sam started occupational therapy on Friday! I have to drive about 45 minutes to get there (ugh!), but it’s on a back country road with very little traffic, so it’s kind of peaceful and very pretty. I’d rather have that than 45 minutes in traffic any day. Anyway, my hope was that he would sleep on the drive over, as it is right at his naptime, and then he’d be rested for his OT. Um, no. Sam had other ideas. He stayed awake for all but the last 15 minutes of the ride, and then he woke up the minute I turned into the parking lot. At that point we were 45 minutes early (I had planned to just sit and read while he continued napping) and he was wide awake, so I took him to the park instead. Actually, I didn’t really mind—I was tickled pink because when I had picked him up at school, for the very first time he had answered an open-ended question that wasn’t “what do you want?”.

You see, I’ve been asking him open-ended questions literally for years, knowing he wasn’t likely to respond but figuring that he could probably understand at least some of them, and someday he’d be able to answer back. But up until Friday, he would only answer yes/no questions (and even then, the accuracy was questionable—he’s notorious for saying “yes” when he really means “no”). And he would answer “What do you want?” with an appropriate answer: Thomas, milk, goldfish, etc. But any other open-ended question, he would just echo the last word I had said: “How was your day?” “Day!” “What did you do at school?” “School!” And so on…

But on Friday, I picked him up right after lunch and said, “What did you have for lunch?” and he replied with some gibberish I couldn’t understand and then finished with “…and muff!” “Muff”is his word for milk, so I knew he had tried to answer me and that he’d had something, something else…and milk!! Exciting times, exciting times! It’s funny how much these tiny moments mean when you have a kid who has to work extra hard at something.

Anyway, Sam’s lack of real nap before OT meant he was an overtired, silly goon at OT. He’s usually a fairly focused, task-driven little guy…as much as a four-year-old ever is, anyway. But he was bouncing off the walls like a ping-pong ball, just running from one activity to the next, and laying down and pretending to nap when he didn’t feel like doing something. At one point, his new OT was on her knees in front of him, trying to interest him in something, and he cheekily reached over her head, grabbed the claw-clip holding her updo, and tried to remove it from her hair. I started laughing and said, “Well, you wanted him to squeeze things—he’s squeezing your hair clip!” She laughed too and agreed that hey, if he wanted to squeeze that, it was a good OT exercise!

Anyway, we’ll see how the next few weeks go. It’s not worth me taking him out there (and paying the copay out of pocket each week) if he’s going to be overtired and not get much out of it. So I’m hoping we can settle into a routine where he naps in the car on the way there. Because there’s a real shortage of therapists in the area (which is why we have to drive so darn far!), there is also a real shortage of appointment times available. They only had three available, and two were right during Sam’s nap, so I was kind of stuck. (The other one interferes with me picking up Theo from school, so that doesn’t work—we had to go with a naptime one instead and hope for the best.)

Anyway, that’s the news from here! I hope you’re all having a lovely April. I’m hoping for healthy kids who go to school every day this week, so I can get my Korean War book written. Fingers crossed!

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