“Omg squirrel trapped in garage with me”

Yesterday I had an all-morning work training to attend. At the beginning, the trainer made a big deal about how distracting our phones are, and how we should make sure they’re off, put them away, etc. Being the rule-follower that I am, of course I complied.

I mean, I don’t mean to act like that was a big deal. I’m not some high powered business executive; most mornings I don’t receive any texts at all.

Except THIS morning…THIS morning I received something a little bit more interesting. When I got around to checking my phone at lunch time I had a series of frantic texts from Sara, starting with, “Omg squirrel trapped in garage with me”

“Hope it will run out now!!!” she continued.
“It is either out or hiding”
“Was running up garage door when I first noticed it”

And then? Nothing. Not for a whole hour after. Was it rabid? Did she escape? WAS SHE DEAD?

Naturally, I texted her immediately and got the rest of the story. So it seems like maybe the squirrel came in when she drove into the garage, or maybe it was already there. When she got out of the car to get Alex out, it was *climbing up the garage door*, a few feet from her head. Natch, she dove back in the car, abandoning the field to the squirrel, and started furiously texting me.

A real Cujo situation here.

She opened the garage door, and hoped for the best. After a while, she didn’t hear anything. So probably the squirrel is not in the garage anymore, right?

Right?

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Halloween 2017

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Every year I tell the kids to make the face they want for their pumpkin. Unfortunately, Alex refused to make the face for the picture (and also insisted on putting sunglasses on his pumpkin).

I went back and looked through all the pumpkins we’ve ever carved for Evelyn, and this is the THIRD TIME she has wanted a crying pumpkin (with tears!) Why does she like crying pumpkins so much??

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We practiced many times with Alex. Sara and I would get blocks and he would come up to us with his pumpkin, say, “Trick or Treat!”, we would give him a block and he would say, “Tank Yoo!” Sometimes he would also say, “I’m a turtle!” since we prepared him that people might ask that.

Of course when it came time, he absolutely refused to say anything, mostly just shaking his head no at the people. He did get into the spirit, though, and didn’t seem to be afraid to go right up to people.

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Of course his favorite parts of the evening were seeing the giant, inflatable cats and spiders, and when the two people dressed in T-Rex costumes had a fight. What more could a boy ask for?

Another 5k in the books

This is now my 2nd consecutive 5k after vowing never to run another 5k in my life (though last year I clearly just blocked the entire thing out of my memory and didn’t even blog about it).

Last year I got suckered in by the insistence that “the WHOLE FAMILY is going to run”, and it was the same this year as well.

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As always, the highlight was the face painting. We have had a lot of cool face painting over the years, but the dueling, “Eastern versus Western dragon” face tattoos were pretty awesome.

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Alex asked for a “cake” on his face:

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“Dada, take a picture of me eating mine bacon!”

My time had actually gone up a few seconds between year one and year two (36:38 vs 36:56), but I was pleasantly surprised to be under 35 minutes this year at 34:43. A year older and a whole two minutes shaved off my time!

I ran with Sara this year for the first time, and I was definitely struggling to keep up…until I found a little bit left in the tank at the last minute to beat her by 2 seconds. 😉 “I knew you were going to do that the whole time,” she said (and she was right! How well she knows me; I was definitely going to do that the whole time.)

Oliver absolutely hates our practice runs and spends the whole time complaining about how hard it is. Often I have to hang back with him and try to motivate him to keep going.

Which is why it’s totally surprising that, come race day, there’s no catching him!

Last year he started off like a flash, but I hung back thinking, “Okay, he’s going to get tired and when he does, I’ll be back here waiting for him.” Eventually he got far enough ahead that I actually couldn’t catch up! Sara and Evelyn had started at the front of the pack, and we started at the back, so I struggled to keep up with him long enough for him to catch up to them, and then gave up and ran the rest of the race alone (well, technically I had Alex!)

It turns out that Oliver actually turned in a time of 32:57 and won his age group last year! Unfortunately we didn’t even consider that possibility and left before they called his name for the awards.

This year, he beat his time by almost FOUR MINUTES!! 29:13. That is…unbelievable. We thought for sure he must have won his age group, so it was no surprise when they called, “Oliver…” but it turns out there was a FASTER Oliver in his age group! Oliver beat the next closest person by about four minutes, but this other Oliver beat him by almost FIVE minutes! That’s nine minutes ahead of 3rd place! Yowza!

Too bad for Ollie, because he would have been so excited to win, but I still can’t believe he just went out and threw down a sub-30 minute 5k. After all the complaining he did, that little stinker!

Afterwards we went out for some post-race breakfast, and the kids got chocolate pancakes and hot chocolate. All in all, it was another great day at the race!

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Smart Phones: Stronger than phobias!

I have had a bus phobia for as long as I can remember.

As a rational person, I understand that phobias don’t make any sense.  It’s not possible to reason with a phobia, because it’s not rational. For example, I only have anxiety on regular old city buses, with various stops, not like coach buses or school buses. I don’t have anxiety on trains. My fear is basically that I will get on the bus, the door will close, and the driver will say, “Well, as everybody knows, this bus now goes express to Texas” and I will somehow be powerless to stop this.

I certainly am not going to be able to explain it to you why this gives me anxiety, because I can’t even explain it to myself. For starters, that’s just not how buses work, and even if it was, surely I could stand up, make a scene, and insist they let me out. It’s not even a scary situation!

Regardless, if I have to ride a bus, I usually spend the entire time in a kind of fight-or-flight mode. I am sweaty, my insides are twisting, my veins are pumping adrenaline. If you surprised me at that moment, I would probably jump through the roof. It’s uncomfortable, and it’s to the point where I just don’t see taking the bus as an option. I’d rather do just about anything else, including walking a couple of miles if necessary. Just not worth it.

I think I even know the exact moment this all began:

I don’t remember how old I was, but I was probably about 5 or 6. My mom decided that, as a fun thing to do, we would go for a bus ride. We’d catch a bus downtown, maybe walk around a little bit, and catch one back. Cheap form of entertainment. However, when we got to the bus station downtown, everything was confusing and complicated. I don’t remember exactly how it went, but I’m sure everything was contradictory and full of sighs and eye rolls at my mom, who was juggling 3 kids in a pre-cell phone era.

My brother and sister were blissfully unaware, but I was old enough to know that my mom was upset and didn’t know what to do, that we were far from home and didn’t know how to get back. My feeling at the time is that we might NEVER be able to get back home. I think right at that moment a feeling settled on me that buses were scary and impossible, with unknowable routes and schedules.

The irony, though, is that the story actually has a tremendously happy ending! Eventually my mom decided that we were going to need to walk home, and that being the case, we had better get started. As we were walking down the street, a bus pulled up next to us. “Where are you going?” asked the bus driver. “Uh…where are YOU going?” asked my mom, fully aware that was not how buses worked. “This is a special bus, ma’am,” said the bus driver. “We take you wherever you need to go.”

Keep in mind this memory is pretty old at this point, and memory (especially MY memory) is unreliable. My memory is that the bus dropped us of in front of our house, though I asked my mom about it years later and she said that wasn’t true. In any case, that anonymous bus driver is an absolute hero as far as I’m concerned.

Still, that feeling remains: buses are a mystery that follow no rules, or rather, they follow obscure rules that everybody knows except you, and you’re probably better off without them altogether.

Anyway, what I wanted to say is that I rode the bus today, anxiety free, thanks to my smart phone. I used to have a lot of anxiety about taking taxis, but it has completely disappeared due to Uber (lol on my comments at that old blog post asking people what Uber is). Turns out, the anxiety-inducing parts of taking a taxi were payment and not being able to track if the taxi was going to show up at my house, and those are handled by the app.

Turns out, my bus anxiety was not so much different.

With the app I can see the bus route at all times (NOT HEADED TO TEXAS THANK YOU VERY MUCH), and even where each bus is / how long I have to wait. I can obsessively check how many more stops I have before I have to get off (which I apparently need to do about every 20 seconds).

And today I rode the bus like a big boy! Anxiety free, like an actual human being.

Applesauce 2017

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Baby’s First Amusement Park

I’m a little behind on posting this, but back before school started, Sara and the kids had one last end-of-summer hurrah to Santa’s Village Azoosment Park (and no, before you ask, they really do call themselves an “azoosment park”).

Alas, they went during the day so I was unable to go, but by all accounts a good time was had by all.

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Santa’s Village is one of those kind of small, local-ish amusement parks similar to Indiana Beach or Michigan’s Adventure. Not having grown up in Chicago, I have never been to Santa’s Village, but I understand that some parents get a little nostalgic about taking their kids on the same rides they went on when they were little, such as “putting out the fire” on the firetruck:

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It wouldn’t have done much for me to go anyway, since I’m not going near any roller coasters. Ollie is the daredevil of the family, and went on some of the big rides with Sara while Evelyn pulled a daddy and stayed firmly rooted to the ground, watching Alex and hoping they wouldn’t die.

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The highlight was the X-Treme Elevator. He was excited at first, but when they got to the top Sara said, “Ollie, I think we’ve made a mistake.” “Yeah,” said Ollie.

When they finally got off the ride, Ollie asked the operator, “Did I kick myself in the face? I think I kicked myself in the face.”

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For Alex’s part, he seems to take after Oliver more than Evelyn in the sense that he *sobbed and sobbed* that he wasn’t allowed to go on most of the rides.

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They did manage to find a few rides that were his speed, so all’s well that ends well.

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Condo, no more

As of this morning, we are no longer the owners of our condo!!

To some degree, it is bittersweet to sell your first house. So many memories over the last 10 years, not the least of which was the birth of our children. All three slept in that bedroom! I think of Christmas mornings, family gatherings, birthdays…

As the last few weeks have wound down, every time I had to go over to the condo, it was very emotional. Would this be the last time I was ever there? There is so much muscle memory involved: turning the car from the alley to the parking space, the proper way to turn the key in the lock, which wall the light switch is on. It all felt deeply personal.

On the other hand, these last few months have been fairly stressful: having the first offer fall through, watching the savings account go down and down, waiting not-so-patiently for an offer, waiting for some disaster and to have everything fall apart (which happened with the first offer we got, and made us extremely paranoid after).

At this point I feel nothing but relief that it’s all over!

We’ve been in the new house for long enough that we are “moved in”, and each day puts the condo farther and farther in the rearview mirror. And of course, the new house is just about the most amazing place I could ever imagine living in. Still, there is always some part of me that is sad when a chapter of my life closes.

Onward, to new chapters!