Just another Minnesota Mom blog.

How to Autism Proof {Grandma’s House Edition}

Posted: December 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Autism | Tags: Autism proofing, Travel | 11 Comments »

When we arrived here a week and a half ago, my In-law’s house was sparkling clean and beautifully decorated.  (Not overly so as my MIL had read that too many decorations might easily overwhelm their senses.)  There were toys collected for the boys to enjoy while they were visiting.  A bedroom made up with Thomas the Train bedding.

Everything was perfectly festive and inviting.

Until the boys actually stepped foot into each room.

Within days of our arrival:

The couch was pulled away from the wall so they wouldn’t climb through the cut-outs in the wall and escape into the rest of the house.

A glass topped coffee table was removed to the garage.  A fancy sitting chair that proved to be quite bouncy soon followed.  Then a torch style lamp that they thought was the perfect thing to knock over (after being carefully glued back together) was moved outside.  (Along with anything else that was easily destroyed.)

A cabinet with glass doors was turned to face the wall.

The doors on the entertainment center were tied shut.

Things started to migrate north.

A small trunk with a lid that made a most satisfying crash was tied shut and pushed to stratigically cover a floor vent that Judah found and started pulling out.

I am kicking myself for not bringing the trampoline.

Baby gates were borrowed from neighbors and each day we get a *little* closer to having a room that is completely free of things the boys can break or ruin in their quest to satisfy their sensory needs: jumping and crashing.

There is a reason our living room at home consists of a couch, a chair, a TV on a low table and a trampoline.

Thank you Grandma and Grandpa C for rolling with the punches (and the crashes and jumping and screaming and whining…)!  I hope the smiles and giggles and calls for “Super Delicious Chocolate Milk” are the things that stick in your memory the most from our visit.



Imagine this…

Posted: December 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Roadtrip | Tags: Travel | 2 Comments »

You drive for 12 hours with 3 children and finally pull into the motel (we’re not fancy) where you will be spending the night.

You check in only to find there are no cribs.

Although not thrilled, you figure this is just for a night, you just need a place to sleep before you get back on the road at 4am to continue your journey.

You pile your brood into your room, unplug the phone (because they all LOVE to play with the phone) settle everyone down with milk and a movie (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) and you start the process of getting everyone to sleep.

You are bone tired. Because you were up until 2:00am packing, awake for the day at 3:30 and on the road by 4:21am. Then you drove for 12 hours. With 3 kids and a DVD player that crapped out after one viewing of Kung Fu Panda (RCA you are on notice).

No one wants to settle down. They don’t want to sleep in their sleeping bags. They don’t want to sleep in the beds. They don’t want to cuddle in a chair. They don’t want to read books. They don’t want a snack. They don’t want to do anything except run around like a herd of wild animals, they want to play with the safe and dismantle the heating unit, climb on the desk and chase each other around, screaming the alphabet at each other at the top of their lungs, destroying the room while you contemplate your next move.

When the 16 month old pushes a chair over to the door and manages to unlock the lock, the deadbolt and the chain lock…things start to get iffy.

After just a few hours, you pack it all up and check out.

I was worried the person working the desk was going to think we pulled off the highway for a quickie (Really, who holes up in motel rooms for just a few hours?) when in fact we were just so desperate for sleep we would choose to sleep in our car and forfeit the cost of the room.

We knew if we got the boys contained in their carseats they would be asleep within minutes and we could pull into a rest stop and sleep in the car. At this point, sleeping with my face pressed against the cold car window seemed like a much better plan than waiting for the boys to escape or break something.

So, last night, after we got back on the road and the boys were all sawing logs in the back, we found a nice rest stop and promptly fell asleep. Two hours later we woke up. Not bad.

At almost 1 am, it was just us, some truckers and a big tour bus full of soldiers (vets on their way home from Iraq, just in time for Christmas).

We got back on the road, driving and then stopping when we needed a cat nap. Of course the boys all slept a good 10 hours each. Little punks.

We arrived safe and sound at Yogi Dad’s parents and couldn’t be happier to be here. We have never been here for Christmas in almost 10 years of marriage (Yogi Dad hasn’t been home for Christmas since 1999). That is what a lifetime of retail serves up- no traveling at the holidays.

Over the river and through the woods indeed.

Are you running into obstacles in getting to your destination this Christmas?

Holiday Musts: Do, See, Eat!

Posted: December 15th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Living in the City | Tags: Travel | 4 Comments »

Because it’s a super busy time for everyone (understatement of the year!) and I’ve got bags to pack (and dishes to wash), I have teamed up with some of my fellow bloggers to offer you an amazing list of things to Do, See and Eat in our home towns!

So, if you happen to be traveling to one of these fine cities this holiday season, be sure to check out our tips!

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Via  The Slacker Mom

A Day in the Life of an Elf

Like most cities, Minneapolis has lots of fun things to do around the holidays. For my family, Christmas just isn’t Christmas without our annual Sunday morning stop at the downtown Macys to see the Christmas display at the 8th floor Auditorium. You and the kids can walk through “A Day in the Life of an Elf” and then hop over and sit on Santa’s lap before you travel up the elevators to the 12th floor for lunch! Admission is Free and the display runs during store hours through 12-30.

For those in town a little earlier, the Holidazzle Parade through downtown Minneapolis is not to be missed. Admission is free; the parade runs every Thursday-Sunday through 12-18.

My absolute favorite holiday tradition is seeing A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater. A Christmas Carol runs daily through 12-30, check the website for availability and ticket prices.

For the ladies (and girls!) who need a break from the hustle and bustle of shopping and decorating, Brit’s Pub has Holiday Tea ($24.95) on weekends through 12-18, complete with carolers on the 10th and 17th. Brit’s also has High Tea ($16.95/ $9.95 for kids) Monday-Saturday every week. Please give 24 hours advance notice for tea.

Read the rest of this entry »

Has it really been 8 years?

Posted: October 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: Beer, Date Night, Montana, Restaurants, Travel | 1 Comment »

Well, I guess they are right when they say time flies.  Eight years ago (well, 8y ears and 11 days ago) I married Yogi Dad.  He wasn’t Yogi Dad then.  There was no Yogi and definitely no Dad.  He was just John and I was just Erin and we had a whirlwind romance punctuated by many bottles of Stone Hill wine.  We got engaged after 3 months.  Crazy I know.  Fifteen months later we got married.  Six years later we finally decided kids were a good idea and here we are, three kids deep.

Since we always seem to be out of town for our anniversary we were treated to a lovely dinner at Pearl Cafe in downtown Missoula by John’s Aunt (aka The Hostess with the Mostest).  We haven’t really been out without the baby so it was very welcome.

We got dressed up as best we could, which seems to be more difficult the older we get.  The top I bought was a bit more revealing after carrying children around and having a baby paw at my chest than it was when I tried it on in the confines of my favorite dressing room.  I’ll just say it.  Boobs.  It’s all I see when I look at the pics of us ready to head out and I suppose I can’t expect any of you to not think it too.  There you go.

Anyhooo…we went out!  Like adults!  We left a little early so I could partake in a drink at a real grown up bar before we went to dinner.  It makes me giddy just thinking about it.  We chose James Bar in downtown Missoula.  It’s a pretty sweet place that was so packed we couldn’t get a drink let alone a seat or a table the last time we were in town.  It was a Tuesday night so our options were open this time around.  We sat at the bar.

I ordered a Kettlehouse Cold Smoke.  It was dreamy.  I wish now that we’d gotten some to take home, but we didn’t.  After a little chit-chat with the barkeep he asked us where we had reservations.  We told them The Pearl.  He said we wouldn’t be disappointed.  The thing I take away from restaurants in Missoula is the people that work in them seem to genuinely love the town and really seem to bolster each other up.  It’s nice, you don’t always find that in a bigger city.

We finally arrived at Pearl and there was an open parking spot right out front (it’s street parking).  It’s like we arrived just in time.  We checked in at the front desk, let them know there was to be a giftcard waiting for us and were led to our table.  Funny thing, the man who led us upstairs was Pierre, our waiter at Scotty’s table, a (totally fab) restaurant we lunched at earlier in the week.

Once we sat down we took in the room.  It was nice.  Low lights, fireplace, exposed brick and beams.  We were seated in a loft that overlooks the entrance/ bar area.  It was very intimate and cozy, without being intimidating. 

We took in the menu and devised a plan.  Elk osso bucco was in the running for John and I was stuck between the trout and the filet.  We ordered the scallops to start.  They were smallish, but delicious.  John went for the osso buco and I went for the Filet with Port and Roquefort.  The port sauce was luscious and the medallion of Roquefort perched atop my steak was as creamy and delightful as cold be.  I can say with certainty now, that was the best piece of beef I’ve ever eaten in my life.  I only had a small bite of the elk so I can’t really say, but I was told that my dish won for best of the night.  We finished off with dessert.  I ordered the Dark German Chocolate Cake which was deconstructed and certainly one of the best I’ve ever had.  John had the White Chocolate Mousse Pie.  I also had a glass of Ice Wine from Canada mostly because I had never tried Ice Wine before and we were celebrating, so why not!

I had just taken a sip when we got the call.  Judah had depleted his reserves and was in need of his mother.  Stat.  I suppose this is how it is when you have kids, one who is nursing.

We packed it in and headed home.

Even with our abrupt departure I think this evening was a success.  We weren’t hurried through any course.  We were able to relax and forget, for those few hours, that we had kids at home!  That doesn’t happen very often. 

Last year at this time we had two kids and a twinkle in our eyes.  Who knows what’s in store for us this year?  Probably not another baby…but something good I’m sure.

Baby and the Brewery.

Posted: October 26th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: Beer, Montana, Travel | No Comments »

The Tasting Room from www.bayernbrewery.com

On our last day in Missoula we had plans with Yogi Dad’s Uncle Mike to visit the Bayern Brewery.  I had been going back and forth on this one all week.  I love beer.  I love breweries.  I love breweries in Missoula Montana.  I love drinking beer in breweries in Missoula Montana. Yogi Dad recently made the decision to exclude alcohol from his diet.  And there was the whole baby always attached to me looking for something to eat thing. So, what would be the point?

Thursday came and we decided to go.  I did have some glasses that needed replacing after all.

Let’s just say, I had a blast.

With a sleeping baby attached to me the entire time.

Yep. I drank beer while wearing my baby. 

I had a pint of Dragon’s Breath. Then I had a sample of the Dancing Trout (which I called Dangling Trout…whatevs).  Then I tried Yogi Dad’s Dopplebock(he lifted his policy for this occasion) and ordered myself a sample of the St. Wilber Weizen, then a pint of St. Wilber.  There was a Dump Truck in there somewhere.  I think between the samples and sips and pints I tried almost every beer on their menu. 

There were all spot on and delicious.  The most surprising thing to come out of the day was that my favorite beer was the St. Wilber’s Weizen.  I’m a dyed in the wool dark beer girl.  Totally out of left field that one.  Another revelation?  I wasn’t the only one there with a kid. 

It was a fantastic time and I replaced one of my broken pint glasses with this bute. 

Favorite moments of the day?  When the old-timer sitting at the bar passed around a plate of venison sausage for everyone to try.  That’s how they do it in Missoula.

*photo from www.bayernbrewery.com

Breastfeeding Welcome?

Posted: October 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: Breastfeeding, Mom stuff, Montana, Restaurants, Travel | 1 Comment »

While we were in Missoula I finally had the chance to meet up with one of the ladies I had met on my iVillage expecting club board when I was pregnant with the boys.  My husbands aunt had suggested we go to a local restaurant called Caffe Dolce for dinner one night and when I saw an ad for Caffe Dolce in Mama Lode magazine that proclaimed “Breastfeeding Welcome” I figured it was a good pick.  We could eat dinner with the family and then I could meet Karen for dessert, nursing would not be a problem…it was perfect!

Dinner was lovely, don’t get me wrong.  The menu was a little sophisticated for kids (they didn’t have a kids menu) but we were happy to order a pizza for the boys.  Soon after we ordered, little Judah started to stir.  He wanted to eat.  I first offered the bottle of (precious) pumped milk.  He devoured it in no time flat.  He was still hungry.

Time to break out the big guns. 

I have breastfed in cars. I have breastfed in a baseball stadium. I have breastfed in waiting rooms and doctors offices and on occasion in restaurants. I use a cover, mostly for my comfort, although it’s not his favorite.

I have never in my life been so uncomfortable breastfeeding in a public place.

Maybe it was the wide open room where you could see everyone and everything.  Maybe it was the cold, hard, straight back chair with no arms that made it difficult to get comfortable (my only other option was a stool at a high-top). Maybe it was the fact that the infant seat had (moments before) almost slipped off of the highchair with my child in it and I was a bit frazzled after catching him midair while holding a forkful of pasta. 

I couldn’t get a good latch. My leg and arm were going numb trying to keep him elevated so he could nurse. I was ready to burn my nursing cover by the end I was so irritated.

Breastfeeding welcome my ass.

Seems to me Caffe Dolce was trying to capitalize on a brouhaha last year where a woman was asked to stop breastfeeding her child at the Red Robin. It caused quite a stir, for good reason. I don’t need a welcome mat rolled out to breastfeed, it’s my right by law.

By stating in their ad that breastfeeding was “welcome”, I assumed that there would be a level of comfort afforded me. There was no comfort.  They didn’t even have a kids menu for Pete’s sake.  What do you think happens to these breastfed babies when they grow up?  You’d think it would be easy enough for a pizza and pasta joint to throw together a simple kids menu. Every other restaurant we went to had a kids menu and even the brewery had games for kids to play! But that’s neither here nor there.

I chose this place to spend a pretty good chunk of time based on that ad alone. They presented themselves as 100% family friendly.

How many women have done the same and felt less than thrilled with the experience?

The pile, it is big.

Posted: October 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: Family, Montana, Saturn Vue, Travel | No Comments »

Linc and Dubs- 1 large bag
Judah- 1 medium bag
Me and the Mister- 2 small suitcases
1 bag of blankets and beach towels
1 wooden tote of toys and books
1 dual screen DVD player
1 laundry basket of snacks for the car
2 bags of “special” toys and treats to be doled out when bored
1 laundry basket of diapers, wipes and miscellaneous items for car
1 bag of plates, bowls, sippy cups, snack cups, plasticware, pump parts and bottles
1 breast pump with 12v battery pack
2 umbrella strollers
1 vibrating infant seat
1 Baby Bjorn
1 Moby wrap
1 bag of cleaning supplies- hand and face wipes, anti-bac, 7th Generation wipes to clean up spills, etc.

What am I missing?

Let the packing commence!

Posted: October 5th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Out and About | Tags: Family, Montana, Saturn Vue, Travel | 1 Comment »

Oh. Dear. Lord.

What have I gotten myself into?  I’m leaving on a cross-country car trip in less than a week with 3 kids, 2 and under.  In a Saturn Vue.  SATURN.VUE.  That’s not a big vehicle if you haven’t noticed.  Oh it’s PLENTY big if it’s just the two of us.  Hell, it was plenty big with the four of us when we went out east last year.  I’m not sure how this is going to work with five, but this is what we signed up for when I said I wanted another baby and I was not under any circumstances getting a mini-van.  Ever.

Moving on.

I cleaned it out yesterday.  All that’s in there right now are two umbrella strollers (well, one umbrella stroller- the other is in my dining room), a Baby Bjorn,  a jug of anti-freeze and a behind the seat “organizer” that I’m pretty sure will not be the thing that keeps me organized on this trip.

At this point the car is looking pretty roomy.  Unless you look at the three carseats in the backseat.  Two Recaro Signos and a Sunshine Kids Radian.  Boom!  It’s doable people.  I can even get the baby in and out while still standing on the ground- not something I could do 4 weeks ago mind you. 

So the car is “clean”.  What’s going into it?  I’m still working on that.  Here is what is NOT going into it.

Pack n Play– there are two double beds in our room at grandmas, these boys will get a lesson in sleeping in a big bed there and in Missoula I’m pretty sure someone (Awesome Auntie JuJu)  is rounding up PnP’s for our stay there.  And, much to my dismay, the baby is a co-sleeper.  I know, I know.  I had nothing to do with it.  He likes the boob and at night likes to be quite near.

Cloth Diapers– We are leaving these at home.  I love them, but I do think they are kind of a PITA to travel with.  Sorry.  Does that make me a bad cloth mom?  Are you going to take away my Cloth Diapering Mom Card?  Because I’m pretty sure having three kids in cloth full-time gives me a pass on disposables for a two week road trip.

Toys– We’ll bring one small wooden tote bin with books and toys but that is it.  Experience tells me they aren’t going to play with them anyways, so why waste the space.  I’m sure Grandma has plenty of trinkets for them to play with.

So I should have plenty of room to spare without all the extra “stuff”.  Right?  Who out there has road-tripped it with lots o’ kids in a smallish vehicle?  How did it go?  What would you do differently?

Stay tuned for tomorrow…What IS being packed!  I know, you can’t wait.