Thursday, March 31, 2011

All the way to the Final Four Baby!

Last day of the month and keeping with month long goal focus for 2011.
March = awesome. Here's the recap from my Un-Madness March Plan.

1. Work and Sleep- from my March plan, "Chapter 912, maybe this month I will kick my own a$$ for not doing just paying lip service to what I *know* is my downfall."


Almost all nights except this week post trip, I MANAGED TO BE IN BED by MIDNIGHT and consistently got 6 hours of sleep. Major difference in the quality of life, stress reduction, being up with Ian by 6 am or earlier and not felling like hell. I could write a million posts about a lifelong issue with sleep and I am super proud for sticking it out and not caving and more importantly not having to go the sleep med route.

Note that it did come at a price, I bailed on both book clubs, Bunco, a girls night, coffee with Eileen, Wednesday walking with Sandy to get work done at a reasonable hour. But I managed almost all 4 weeks to make it out of the house with earrings on and out with someone that is not male and Vinson.

I did of note turn down a 2nd student teacher and picking up a new item writing contact. Yeah, that's what I'm talking about, the power of saying NO THANKS. Repeat, please.

2. Date nights with Ben and Bill. Ben- super secret date night to Science and Life complete with blindfold and 20 (ok 4) questions on post it notes. Picnic afterwards at Duke gardens. Can I just say how much I love Ben date nights. Bill and I got together with friends to game and grill out. Double win.

3. South Carolina Run- Done. Most likely back again in April. Repeat monthly if possible as it was needed and appreciated.

4. Co host a baby shower. Upcoming this weekend, didn't want to leave the co-host hanging so the earlier SC run allowed for me to be more help. SHE (not I) is pulling out some all out craftiness. I did arrange for a custom cake by my friend so I did technically contribute something cute.

5. My 1400 sq. foot Paradise. Not much progress but have the first of several Realtors coming out this Friday for a walk through (my foot high, needing to be mowed yard) house to give us an idea of what we are looking at getting/to be done. It's a starting place for a major undertaking to be out in the next year.

6. Taxes- First time in 4 years, REFUND. Bill's already spent it 900 ways in his head.

7. Read at least 1 if not 2 books. Finished Corrections- 2nd time in audiobook on all the SC trip runs (yes ironic of all books to pick given the trip focus), a super icky shouldn't have finished it but did and now swearing off anything again by BEE, and currently I Feel Back About My Neck- Short Stories by Nora Ephron. Very funny and redemptive after the Imperial Bedrooms trainwreck. Seriously I *should* have left Clay, Blair, and Julian in 1987. What a waste of my time, at least it was time on the elliptical from cover to cover.

8. Get jogging stroller fixed for the Cary Road Race. DONE! Have been running the neighborhood with Ian and the dog.

9. Buy some spring clothes- swimsuit, 3 shirts, 1 pair of shorts, 2 pairs for sandals (from an old fart vendor, but miraculously they are cute.) Yep, going to be seeing me in the same thing all summer.

10. 2nd consult with the P. Surgeon- Deposit paid, date on the books for December. Excited ? Scared? You bet your sweet (and my much smaller) body.

CRAZY BONUS POINTS! FOR FINISHING THE RACE, Passing 250 MILES since Jan 1, and getting my 2011 to-read list posted in Good Reads.

Hello April, with all this (extra) sleep I'm all in for anything.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A New Normal

A couple days of laying low to recoop from the weekend to get caught up on work and to recover from some exhaustion.

Overall a good trip to SC. We made it down earlier since I didn't have to pass the kids off to Bill after work. In fact time we got there for Ben to play at the playground with my brother and for me to get a 30 min run in through my neighborhood.

Nice after being in the car with 2 un-sleeping children for 6 hours. Luckily the iPad was a sanity saver. As of Friday we are officially a 2 iPad family. Yeah, don't ask why my 4 year old now has his own. I got nothing on spending money with the surgery on the line.

The highlight of the weekend was celebrating Ian's birthday a little early with my mom and brother. As requested by Ben we made pink cupcakes and decorated them with jelly beans. To say Ian inhaled the one he crammed in his mouth would be an understatement.

Brian and I did talk over some money issues related to keeping a private duty nurse coming after her insurance payments stop. She needs help with with bathing, IV set up, and in general just taking some pressure off him as full time caretaker. Even though she has been home a few days, he's spent and if the weekend is any indicator we have got to consider some help to pull this long term. So far his work has not been impacted and he has not had to move to a different surgery team to work around her schedule.

I was able to get most of her errands run Saturday as well as spot cleaning the house and prepping some meals for the week. With the rain the kids were nuts, absolutely tearing the house apart nuts. While she was at dialysis on Saturday we met up with a high school friend and let our kids play for a few hours. It was heavenly to see an old friend and a nice break in the day. Some relationships you just pick up where you left off.

What I realized more than anything is that this is a new normal for my mom, for us, for Brian. I need to pick up the slack and try to go down once a month if possible. Brian took the weekend off, saw friends, watched basketball, slept. Mom seemed happy to see the boys and I think going the extra mile to make the weekend a nice homecoming and birthday celebration was appreciated.

Besides, Ian really enjoyed that cupcake and we are revving up for his birthday in 2 weeks! NOT POSSIBLE that my baby is about to be ONE!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Finished for Friday, Roadtrip prep edition.

Heading out of town for the SC run this time with the kids.

My mom was released last week from what we had hoped would be a 30 day step down stay at a nursing home. Instead we were given the option of leaving at 10 days but with 30 days of daily home health coverage for setting up the daily IV of antibiotics, and helping her with a bath/ get settled for the day. It seems almost insane that she has been in either a hospital or rehab unit since Dec 6. Very, very thankful for the ongoing (and well used) insurance care she has and the options it bought us.

Brian and I have to discuss and figure out how much it would cost of this type of in house care costs. He wants to continue working on the same surgery team and not change to a later am rotation. Brian currently works 4 x 3 schedule with 10 hour days. Dialysis days are covered but we really cannot leave her alone if he is not there. A lot to discuss over a short weekend.

Time for that long haul discussion again. This time involving money.

I am taking stuff to do while there for Ian's April birthday. Ben has requested to make pink cupcakes. I also am changing all the Christmas wrapping paper to birthday saving myself from having to buy birthday gifts. All plans to make it the best possible weekend of visiting and helping out.

In preparation I've been trying to work ahead this week as I am loosing the weekend usually spent on school stuff to stay afloat during the week. Not too bad in the sleep dept and given that Ian is consistently getting up around 5:30am I'm calling it at midnight. Really.

On a big note this week, I turned down picking up a 2nd student teacher and a new item writing contract until the end of the term. Yay me for saying NO when I normally would have bailed and just regretted it.

So here goes for this week:

1. Freeze ahead to take for Mom's freezer: breakfast casseroles, chicken and rice, lasagna, stuffed shells, pork loin over stuffing, steakhouse chili
2. Bunch of meetings for work related to impact of state budget cuts.
3. Trying on 11 swimsuits and finding a keeper that was clearances. The thought of shopping for this dreaded item next year makes me giddy.
4. Enrolled Ben for summer camp.
5. Got Ben signed up for t-ball.
6. Have a lead on a 1 or 2 day a week 1/2 time day care situation for Ian.
7. After 12 days ended my own version of the Hunger Games by going to the grocery.
8. Swapped the gym several days for daily walking with the kids to the park, did the one mile trail yesterday at Harris Lake followed by the playground. Ben has asked to quit walking so much after school as he's tired.
9. Managed to get out of the house two different nights. Nice to wear earings again.
10. Ian took a decent naps 3 days this week. That's gotta count for something.

All plans to be home earlier than normal on Sunday and to have a safe trip.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Trying Not to See This as a Parental Fail of Epic Proportions

Just before I went to bed last night I checked to see if the magnet results had been posted. It was after midnight of the well publicized 3/24 reveal.

I knew getting in to the one and only school was going to be a long shot. As I detailed back in February that after a month of school visits that we would take our 10% chance and likely know that we are going to be at the base school this fall.

Still though, hearing that we had made the lottery would have been nice. It would have bought us some options we wanted for next year. I feel the need to get out of this house even more and what has really not gotten much attention this month is getting moved up somehow on the priority list.

Our next door neighbors put their house on the market over the weekend and nosy me was curious enough to check out the specs. Similar house plus some upgrades we don't have so I'll be curious to see what/how long it takes to sell.

We are still on the plan to get it market ready by early next year but I also want to step up starting to look, now with the need for a solid base school being the top of the list more so that Bill's desire for a theater room. Part of me says don't rush just to try to be somewhere by fall, but then given I put 100 miles on my car in one day just being back and forth to civilization, it's time. It doesn't hurt to just get stuff rolling in whatever time I can find to start this project.

Not once had we mentioned anytihng about the chance for different schools to Ben, it just seemed confusing. I know in my heart he is going to do fine wherever he his and in the end that is the most important thing. I just feel like for the past 3 years I have spent an enormous amount of time and energy on school visits, sitting through presentations in little chairs and frankly somehow hearing an acceptance would be validation of time well spent.

Since the start of the year, Bill and I have privately said that moving him this year has been a mistake. Not with only 2 months to go in the year would we consider a move, but for the ease of having him closer we traded what I think was an important pre-K year. It's been a gradual realization of how things run at this current school and the level of simple disinterest. I won't elaborate in this public space but I'll be glad when May 31st gets here and we are moving into summer camp. Ask me how much it kills me when Ben continues to tell me how much he misses teachers, friends, things he specifically did from last year.

I put on my happy face and ask him about all the good things he is doing and usually that sidetracks him, but all the while I'm seeing it as a epic parentental failure for not being able to give him a better opportunity for success. Ben for the most part is not excited to be at school. Frankly he never has been regardless of where he was and that too feels like a parental failure for not encouraging him enough, working with him enough, just something doesn't feel like I've done enough or he would want to be there more. I'm trying really hard not to feel this way but on some level it's nagging me.

Whether getting in was for his best interest, my own ego, some type of bizarre thank you for working in this school system I am disappointed. Disappointed that now I feel a bit of failure for not being able to ameliorate the last 3 years with what felt like a sure-fire win.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In Defense of the Selfish Mother from Her Bad Mother

Not the post I had planned to write, but man what food for thought on the same day I was asked over coffee yesterday with a friend, just why do you do _________ (fill it in with whatever you have 2nd thoughts/mommy guilt about doing instead of being with the kids.)

Mine was why are you working so much, we haven't see you in weeks, maybe like January". Uh... how much time to you have. Can I leave a co-payment at your door if you want the full version?

Totally worth a full read, a skim, a ponder. I couldn't agree more that taking time, a hour if I can manage it or the 10 mins to write this post (and another 10 to edit) is totally worth the time I wasn't spent doing something kid-focused.

I've been giving alot of thought on extra sleep and what has to get dropped to make it a priority. Add to that I've taken on a "good enough mantra" on all aspects of life this Month. Full report by month end, but March has been my best month yet of 2011 finding some balance and then sticking to it.

From Her Bad Mother 3/22/11

In Defense of the Selfish Parent

ps.. Loving her #14... like minds.

Monday, March 21, 2011

And I Would Like to Thank the Academy...

Last thought on the weekend race since I had 60 uninterrupted child-free mins on the treadmill today.

Thanks to anyone and every one's comments and FB comments. I do appreciated the support more than you will ever know.

I told Bill tonight (after he got home late from seeing a movie.. I took my one free hour and spent it at the gym.... what doesn't add up, oh he ran 10 miles yesterday I forgot minus the moaning most of last night.)

Agreement to split the weekend to try and get outside more. I'll take whatever day just some time to be outside over the treadmill. Today I was more crazy tired than normal and walked 8 mins of the 60 and was drenched in sweat.

Also plans to check out the 1 and 5 mile trails nearby at Harris Lake Park. Trail running seems to be something that would build endurance over the long haul plus it's outside.

When I think back over the last 4 months of this one change to my exercise and diet, the addition of the running, however slow it is, has been the only thing to bust off some weight after a good months long plateau.

On that note and at least another 30 more pounds to go before end of year, so YES... I am going to keep this up. I want to move on to researching learning how to train to maximize what I am doing to 1. bust off more weight 2. learn better technique 3. Be able to really "do" a race.

What I mean is Saturday all I wanted to do was just finish. At one point I saw this kid and her mom ahead and though, "by God I cannot let that some 10 year old beat me" So I skipped over to my "when all else fails" playlist and pushed ahead. I did pass them but seriously was one of the LAST people to come in. I am fairly sure that had Bill not had the kids he could have taken a decent nap while waiting.

I think the walkers-only were only 5 mins behind me. So... again, it's a place to start, move forward and set some new goals.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Like a Doughnut on Fire (part 2, With Sprinkles on top)

Part 2 of Like a Doughnut on Fire... BONUS.... SPRINKLES for the POST RACE WRAP UP!!!

Beautiful, Sunny 60s weather under a Carolina blue sky for Sat am 5k.

Thanks Universe :)

I probably could have pushed out harder on parts and maybe finished a little faster. My own child in his 4.75 wisdom commented, "is Mommy going to beat anyone" I can vouch for people in front of me that were walking/running that finished ahead of me. But,

I wanted to finish in under 45 mins without a step of walking no matter how slow I was jogging.

Goal accomplished. A first PR of 40.15.

All plans for the Cary Road Race with the kids in the Family Fun Run in April and ....gulp....Warrior Dash in August and most likely something else in the fall.

Note to self that I need more outside runs, weekly if possible as it's so different than treadmill running.

Bigger Note to Self that training in the heat this summer is a must so I DO.NOT.DIE or have to be Medivac-ed out humiliating this team of insanity-driven ladies I'm joining. Summer training advice welcome.

You have to start somewhere so that you can acknowledge commitment and progress.

Here's to a great starting race, finish within my goal, support cheering at the end, and the sheer excitement of kicking part of Team #317 to the curb.

Sprinkles on top, you bet.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Show Me the Mommy- Like a Doughnut on Fire (part 1)

***New Freeze Ahead Post for Mama Dip's Chicken and Rice. Seriously good southern cookin' at it's finest.**** Gasp that there's actually a new post up on the long forgotten 2nd blog.

Overhead in the last 10 years, "yeah..snicker..snicker.. the only time you will ever see me run is

1. Someone is chasing me

2. a Krispy Kreme Doughnut shop is on fire and SOMEONE needs to save the merchandise

I'm totally eating my words (and also 4 Krispy Kreme doughnuts consumed this week on Ben Date night)

You can only have a first race once, so why not run all the way with that inside joke as your motivation on a custom hat.

So freakin' proud of myself for sticking out making this Mondo Goal a reality tomorrow.

As I wrote about in my Team 317 post, I'm totally in awe that this accomplishment because I know what it took to get here. Not just over the last 4 months of running several times a week but really the last 10 years.

But enough with the After School Special, SO....

Go sticking to my guns, Go making a commitment and keeping it, GO ME!

How's that for some shameless self promotion?!?

Send me some good thoughts tomorrow morning around 8:30. I opted for one last short run yesterday. My knee felt good until the last 1/2 mile and I was within 5 mins from the time I am shooting to finish. A first race is a guaranteed PR. SWEET!

As I proclaimed at the start of the New Year that I put 2011 On Notice for Potential A$$ kicking all year long.

Team 317 totally kicked to the curb tomorrow while I smile (and hopefully don't become a big ol' hot sobbing mess) all the way to the finish line.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yeah, Yeah You'll All Agree

Been a little MIA. But all for a good reason. March plan for more sleep in full swing. So a little random for mid week.

+++ Ian turned 11 months on Monday. He has totally lost the newborn even baby look in favor of burgeoning toddler face and body. He is so very close to walking unassisted and is into everything in breakneck speed. Can I shrinkwrap my house?

+++Ben is much better after 4 days of strep throat. Luckily he didn't pass it to anyone before we went to the Dr on Friday. Day 4 = reinacting Wipe Out brought him a return to school.

+++Work has been extra busy due to state budget cuts and "need" to prove that online education shouldn't be axed. Lots of meetings, lots more to do, lots of prayers needed I can keep my sweet deal going.

+++Loving the book, THE BIG SHORT by Michael Lewis. Very good and *not* a boring econ book detailing the fiancial meltdown and curent recession. Really, it's good.

+++Weather for Saturday race is 80 and sunny. 8:30 am start shouldn't be too cold. A little worried that after 4 months of running, my knee is really hurting for the first time. Took time off last week with a sick kid and have only ran 3 miles not usual 5 Monday. Walked it Tuesday and plans to lay off until Saturday. Getting a little nervous about not being able to run the whole thing. Major disappointment given I've been running 5 miles 3-4 times a week since January and really want not to walk a single step Saturday.

+++Watching footage from Japan is sobering. Wow. Just Unbelievable Wow. While Japan is an industrialized country, we all need to give something to charities that are providing help. I saw a photo of a mom holding a baby being checked with a geiger counter yesterday. Cannot imagine that reality. Starting to think Japanese moms are the real Tiger moms.

+++Weekend trip to the Celebrity Dairy. Much fun on a beautiful spring day. Write up and pics once edited.

+++My mom has trasitioned well to the nursing home for the 2 week step down stay. It feels good to say that outloud. Brian and I are talking hiring a daily nurse/assistant to help for a couple of hours each day once home. Costly but I think it's the only way she can be at home without Brian filing for FMLA leave.

+++Cooking on the agenda this weekend: Mamma Dip's Chicken and Rice, Stuffed Shells, Veggie Lasagne, and Mac and Cheese. Most going to SC for trip next weekend, but some staying here to fill the freezer. NEED to update freeze ahead blog that I considered shutting down. But I actually have used it for quick recipies this month.

+++Sleep. I love you. No I really, really love you. Have managed to get 6 hours most nights. I feel SO much better. Trying to priortize on work but feel like I'm still (always) behind.

Send my knee some good thoughts and please give to Japan recovery.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Show Me the Mommy- Diagnosis: Lots and Lots of Pac Man

Ben woke up in the middle of the night crying with a sore throat. By yesterday morning he was still really lethargic and complaining that "a prickly leaf scratched his mouth."

He also was running a low grade fever and complaining that his tummy hurt (although thankfully we didn't have the pucky puke.)

A sick day. I called the school to let them know, cancelled my gym appointment. Asked Bill if there was any way possible to try to be home before my online meeting to help with the kids. A lot of negative and extra work in light of lots of state budget cuts. Needless to say I've been pulling late nights this week, again :(

For the most part Ben wanted to lay on the couch, watch TV and tell me that he was dying. Or better yet rerun the same conversation about who will die first, me or daddy, Ben or Ian, his dog and yes... those damned cats.

Thinking of giving him an urn for his birthday to keep the memory going.

Most of the day I juggled the kids with talking to schools, teaching my 3 classes, answering emails, grading, documenting what seems every single thing I do. I did manage to get the dog walked before the deluge of rain hit. Ben asked if he could wear this around the neighborhood. Why not, when else can you wear boots and wagon wheel/fringe pj bottoms and not pass for certifiable.

I got Ian to take a much needed nap, got dinner going, made a cake (how very housewifely of me), more work for school and the meeting, and then played Pac man in bed with Ben on the iPad.

I love Pac Man. Ben loves Pac Man. We all love Pac Man. But not to the degree of owning the 45 of "Pac Man Fever, having matching sibling shirts from the Anderson, SC Jockey lot, or remembering my teacher asking who the owner of the 101 Pac Man jokes book left on her desk (culprit, me).

The crazy thing is that I don't remember one time being sick at home as a kid. I'm sure I HAD to be sick at some point. I mean come on, kids get sick. I do remember getting sick any time I ate Italian food when I was in the 1st or 2nd grade and trying to wash my hair and change my linens without waking anyone up.

Ben was unbealiabley pathetic asking me to carry him up the steps, cover him up 900 times, feed him. I watched Maters Tall Tales and then Wipeout twice with him. I suddenly needed make school calls when Minute To Win it surfaced.

I'm all for some compassion and extra snuggle time, but I mean come on Ben, there's milking it and then 4.5 man cold status.

Note to self, I should never, ever say outloud, "my kids rarely get sick due to my passing along some teacher antibodies."

Totally eating my words as we start Sick Day, Part 2. All hopes that over the weekend we can get him back to his normal rambunctious self and keep Ian from getting sick. Mom on the other hand CANNOT be sick. Contract work = no sick days.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Trading Up

Not that it was planned for this to happen on the same day but serious coincidence yesterday. Following up on a goal for 2011, I called our fertility clinic last month to see if they could use the scores of unused needles and unopened meds for practice or as they indicated to offset someone (try everyone) without fertility coverage.

I kept meaning to drive it out there all month. But I didn't when the month got busy.

The plastic surgeon's office is across the street from our fertility clinic so I took the opportunity to donate on the same drive out All hopes it brings a little fertility paying it forward to someone.

This was not a rash decision, as I've known we are done as of last summer. We talked about being a +2 or potential for more throughout the fall and said we would make a final decision by the time Ian was one.

Looking at the basket of all our stuff each day in the closet is some type of daily reminder of where we've been and frankly it needs to go. So...

I traded in this,

for this,

Deposit for 1st surgery paid. Date scheduled for late December when I am off for 2 week winter break and my mother in law can come for an extended weekend. Serious logistics to be worked out, but this is the best possible time to move ahead with a long standing dream.

I kept it together during the 2nd consult as we went over mortality rates, complications, and post op expectations. I did refrain from saying holy shit when the before and after pics came out(unlike last time).

I kept it together carrying that basket of unfun while carrying the squirmy result on my hip. I don't think I could have gotten out of there fast enough to avoid exchanging glances with the hopeful in the waiting area.

But, on the drive home I lost it. I cannot even begin to express what finally having a date to project the last 7 years on feels like.

Crazy Scary, Crazy Ready.

The Hand that Feeds

Coming off a self imposed week long break to continue digging my way back. Productive weekend and hopes that this week (like last) I can get more sleep.

Much on the agenda this week: 2nd consult with plastics, 2 more appointments, mom being moved to a nursing home till end of month, been asked to mentor a student teacher (or not) on my plate.

Not sure how much will get posted, but it's out there on the horizon.

Alas we finally remembered to shoot a quick of Ian in the double-hand feed. This kid is eating us out of house and home.

For Breakfast Ian ate:

Bowl of Oatmeal with 1/2 applesauce
Tub of peaches
Cup of YoBaby yogurt
Piece of Toast
At least 2 handfuls of Cherrios
1/2 bannana

Mom ate- piece of string cheese and 2 cups of coffee.

To feed these children I am going to have to either mortage my house or sell a lung. Maybe both. I never went to the grocery last week. We've been having, uh let's say creative meals. Or simply put, we have been existing on crackers and air. I HAVE to go today.

Boys=Grocery Budget Breakers.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

An Un-Madness March Plan

Ah March, the start of spring, return to daylight savings time, anticipation of beautiful warm days ahead.

Also by end of month one really big milestone, FIRST RACE! on Sat 3/19!!! I had originally planned for the Cary Road Race to be my first, but wanting Ian's 1st birthday to be a family event talked Bill and Ben into doing the Fun Run instead next month.

So what else is on the agenda:

1. Work and Sleep- Chapter 912, maybe this month I will kick my own ass for not doing just paying lip service to what I *know* is my downfall.

2. Date nights with Ben and Bill. After Feb. big fail, trying again.

3. South Carolina Run- Like a hole in the head I want to go, but with my mom transitioning from rehab, to a nursing home then finally home by end of month I have to. Trying hard to keep it to only one weekend as well as things in general in perspective.

4. Co host a baby shower. Since I am most likely going to be in SC the shower weekend, I offered to take care of some behind the scenes work including ordering a cake, trays from a local grocery, and sent out the invites. Note I am NOT doing anything crafty or time consuming.

5. My 1400 sq. foot Paradise. Finish compiling Realtors and start calling to get some appointment booked.

6. Taxes- Some things I will always farm out. Met with the accountant yesterday. Please God, don't make us pay 3 years in a row.

7. Read at least 1 if not 2 books. I miss reading something more than the back of a Cheerios box. Updated my library list with plans with an earlier bedtime incentive.

8. Get jogging stroller fixed for the Cary Road Race.

9. Buy some spring clothes. In a smaller size:) Chances are for a black tshirt in the mix.

10. 2nd consult with the P. Surgeon we have settled on after much debate. Time to put my money where my mouth is and book a date and pay the deposit. Wow. This really is going to happen before the year is out.

Serious Scary. Seriously ready or at least be on the road to this goal.

Bring it March Madness or lack thereof.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Photographic Proof I Didn't Hear My Name on the Loudspeaker

Thanks to Ben's request for the race car cart and an extra thick blanket to wedge Ian in, grocery store success. (and also a cute phone pic)