Thursday, July 30, 2009

Happy Birthday to my baby boy!

Today Son turns 4 years old! How did that happen? How did my youngest child get to be a 4 year old? Isn't he supposed to still be a little baby? I guess it doesn't work like that.

I asked him what kind of birthday party he wanted and he said "Martian Alien Monster" party. What the heck does that mean? So I went to the party store and looked around. The closest thing I could find that might fit the bill was a Monster bash party. So I bought a few decorations, napkins, temporary tatoos, etc. and brought them home. I guess I picked the right thing because he loved it and thought it was exactly what he wanted. He requested a strawberry cake with martian green icing and asked daughter to make some games for him like "Pin the goo on the Martian".

So after using a whole bottle of green food coloring I finished his cake. Daughter drew a martian and some goo to pin on it and we've got the decorations up. It's supposed to be over 100 degrees here again today, which could make the wading pools outside a big hit or could make them off limits. The house is air conditioned so we may get lots of people seeking the cool air. Whatever the case I'm sure we'll have a party worthy of a Martian Alien Monster...and a 4 year old boy.

Happy Birthday, son!

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Trip Back in Time

While visiting the east coast, hubby and I took a walk around MIT and the surrounding area. It's been 10+ years since we both graduated and we had never been back with the kids. We only really had about 6 hours or so to sightsee before having to get back to the hotel, sleep and get on our 6am flight back home. I didn't want to try to do too much with the kids in tow; so we decided to eat at a couple of our favorite restaurants for lunch and dinner, visit the MIT Museum (which we'd never been to before) and walk around campus to see what had changed and what hadn't. We had reservations at the hotel at University Park, which is right up Mass Ave from MIT. It used to be called the Hotel at MIT, but someone else bought it and changed its name to something french.

First stop: Bertucci's for some Italian food. The kids had cheese pizza, of course, and I really wanted some of that Linguine and Clams that I used to have. But alas they no longer served linguine and clams; I settled for Rigatoni Abruzzi, which was good. The kids meal ended with ice cream, so they were happy.

Second Stop: MIT Museum. This was something we never got around to doing while living in Cambridge. I guess we felt like we'd lived MIT, so why go see the museum. When we walked in I noticed that anyone with a student ID got in free. I said something to hubby like "too bad we don't have our ID anymore", and the man behind the desk asked me which school. I told him that hubby and I were students at MIT a long time ago and showed him my Brass Rat (school ring). He said "You're all set. Go on in." Cool! My Brass Rat got me Free admission! The Museum was nice. It had some MIT History stuff, a large exhibit on robotics, 2 rooms of Holographic images (son loved this one), an interactive exhibit on DNA, and a couple of rooms with these neat mechanical sculptures (my favorite). I was hoping to see a larger exhibit on Hacking, but that was really confined to a small piece of a wall. Another interesting thing was the small bit about Athena (MIT computer labs). It said that 1991 was the first year that Athena became a permanent fixture that everyone used. That's the year hubby arrived at MIT! I thought Athena had been around a lot longer than that, but I guess his class were really guinea pigs in a way. Very interesting!

Third stop: MIT Campus. From the Museum, we walked down Mass Ave to campus and entered at Lobby 7. It was somewhat surreal taking the kids into a place that I'd only been when I wasn't Mommy. I pointed out some of the things about the building I thought the kids might find interesting. I told son that the long hallway that runs down the center is called the Infinite Corridor because it seems like it goes on forever without ending. Son: "Why does it never end? Will we be able to get out?" We walked past the place that used to house the Fishbowl computer cluster, but that was gone now. We walked past the bursar's office where there used to be a mural of a dollar bill covering the whole wall, but the mural was gone as well. We were beginning to feel that all of the fun things we remembered were gone when we climbed the stairs to 10-250 and found one of the lecture halls I did a lot of sleeping in. :) We opened the doors and went inside to find it looking almost exactly as it did when we were there. The kids sat in the seats and I got a picture of them looking very collegiate. It was pouring rain, so we didn't venture out into Killian court at this point, but told the kids about some of the sculptures in the field that we used to climb on and explained that we sat in that field on graduation day. We then went up a couple of floors hoping to find the Doc Edgerton strobe lab. Yay! It was still there. So we played with the exhibits on the wall a bit and looked at the neat and famous photos by Doc (apple photo, Milk drop photo). Next we took some pictures of the kids next to other notable artwork on campus like the jungle mural in building 2 and then had them rub George Eastman's nose in lobby 6.

Rubbing Eastman's nose brings good luck. :)

We walked out into Killian when the rain let up a bit and took some pictures of the kids in front of the big dome.

There was apparently some work being done on the dome as it was covered in scaffolding.

Then we ventured to the next lecture hall we spent a lot of time in: 26-100, then headed to East Campus, where we lived. The dorm looked just the same as we remembered it from the outside. I know the inside most likely looked a lot different from when we lived there, but I can live in my own fantasy world and assume it looks exactly the same on the inside, too. :) After that, we headed to the Coop, bought a few T-shirts and left campus.

Fourth stop: the T. I knew the kids would enjoy the subway (T) so we decided to take the T from the Kendall stop to Central Square back to close to where our hotel was. I showed daughter the neat chimes that are installed between the tracks. You swing this bar on the side of the platform and it swings these hammers into chimes over the tracks to make some music. She thought it was pretty cool. We got on the T at rush hour, so we were packed into the cars like sardines, but the kids didn't seem to mind. We then got off at Central and walked back to University Park to have dinner.

Fifth stop: Royal East Restaurant and Tosci's. The only thing I really wanted for dinner was Suan La Chow Shau, which you can apparently only get in the Boston area as I've never found it anywhere else.

It's like Wonton Soup, but has a soy-like broth instead of clear, and it's usually quite spicy. So we ordered soup and appetizers for dinner and ate until we were stuffed. Even the kids ate well! I was stuffed, but the kids still had room for ice cream. So we went down the street to Tosci's where the kids had some ice cream, and I stole a couple of bites.

I guess when you've been away for a while you forget some things like how the entire area in University park smells like chocolate because of the Tootsie Roll factory there. The kids really wanted to go in, but there didn't seem to be a visitor's door, so we just walked by and smelled. I do remember getting really sick of that smell when I lived there, but after being away, it was sort of nice.

I'm not sure if I had a favorite part of the little jaunt into our old MIT life; I liked it all. But when asked what their favorite parts were, the kids said "getting the toys at the museum gift shop and going through the revolving doors". I guess when you're a kid the littlest things are the most fun.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Visiting the Berkshires

Well, after 3 years of being away we have returned to the place hubby grew up, the Berkshires in Massachusetts. The kids did very well on our 6+ hours of plane ride plus 2.5 hours of car ride. Thank goodness for the Leapsters and the MP3 players! My biggest complaint about traveling is the quality of food on the road. I feel like we only ate junk throughout the entire day, but it's just one day, right?

Now we've arrived and are enjoying the home cooked meals, the relaxing pool and the free time to just sit and read or play a game. It's not that I couldn't sit and relax at home, but I always feel that nagging sensation to get up and do something like fold the laundry or put the dishes away. Here the sensation isn't that strong. :) I'm also feeling like somewhat of a lump without yoga classes and my exercise bike. So I've been doing laps in the pool and we've gone on a couple of geocaching hikes. It's not the same, but it's better than nothing.

I looked up a few geocaches online before we left. Yesterday we went out to find a few of them. One was a nice hike in the woods and another was a nice walk along the river front. We didn't find the last one, but it was late and we were already getting tired. Maybe tomorrow we'll look for a few more. As I was looking up some of the details for some of the caches I noticed that it kept saying things like "boat dock" and "put your kayak here"; so we skipped those in favor of ones on dry land.

Hubby's dad turns 60 on Saturday and we'll be celebrating with the whole clan. I'm sure the kids will have a great time playing with the third/fourth cousins and eating Poppy's birthday cupcakes. Hopefully they'll save one for him!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why can't banks be logical?

So on Sunday afternoon someone broke into my car while the family and I were hiking. Luckily there was no damage to the car as they forced the window down rather than breaking it. We didn't really have anything of value in the car, so all the guy got was less than $10 in bills and change and my MOMS Club deposit slip book. Well, I filed a police report that will not be investigated and put a freeze on my chapter's bank account.

Yesterday morning I went into the bank with my list of outstanding checks so the bank could take care of my compromised account. I walked into the lady's cubicle with the kids in tow. Kids had their leapsters with them and were actually very well behaved through the HOUR I sat there. I told the lady my situation and she said she recommended closing my current account and reopening the account. I said "Sounds good, let's do it." Even though we've had an account for 2 years with this bank and they have copies of all of the pertinent paperwork, she asked for it all again. As I look back on it all, I realize that my mistake was handing her the piece of paper telling her who our newly elected officers were. That was a different matter to be handled at another time and I should have kept that to myself, but I thought I'd give her all the info I had rather than withholding. The second she sees a name on that paper with the title Secretary next to it then all of a sudden everything changed and the Secretary became the all powerful holder of decision making and I couldn't do anything without her in the room. The lady then told me that in order to open a new account I had to have a signed copy of our meeting minutes stating who the new officers were and that we voted to open a new account. The conversation went something like this.

Lady (and I'm using the term Lady loosely as she was as much unlike a lady as I've ever seen):"You have to bring in the signed minutes before we can open a new account"
Me: "I really don't want a new account. I want my same account exactly like it is but with an uncompromised number."
Lady: "We can't do that. We have to open a new account. And we have to have minutes stating that the chapter voted to open a new account."
Me: "But the bank book was stolen yesterday. Our business meeting was last week and our next one isn't until August."
Lady: "I can't open an account without the secretary's signed minutes. You may be opening a separate account to siphon money out for yourself."
Me: "So you'll let me take all of the money out of the account and walk out of here with it. but you just won't let me put it back into a new account."
Lady: "Not without the secretary here with signed minutes."

It went in circles like this for quite a while until finally I asked her to innumerate exactly what and who I needed to bring in to open a new account at which point she said "I've already told you that. You already know what you need." "No Ma'am, I do not. Please tell me again. " "I've already told you!" At which point she gets up and storms out of the room. She was gone for like 5 minutes and I was beginning to think she wasn't coming back when she came into the room with their manager. I explained everything to him again about how I just wanted the same account with no changes, no changes to signers or anything other than an uncompromised account number. He started telling me the same thing about having signed minutes. I told him the meeting was held last week and the next one wouldn't be until August. At that point he said "Can't you just alter the last minutes to include the vote to open a new account?" I looked at him with my mouth hanging open for a while then said "That would be lieing since we didn't vote on that at that meeting. You want me to lie and alter official minutes but you won't forget that we just elected a new secretary and let me act as one to open a new account?" "We have to have the secretary here so we can compare her signature." "You don't have her signature on file. She was just elected. I'm the only signature you have on file. " "Well we'll have her signature when she gives us the signed minutes. "

At that point I said, "What if we leave enough money in the account to cover outstanding checks and you give me the rest of it and I take it to another bank?" "You could do that." "Then that's what I want to do. "

So they would let me take all of my chapter's money out of the bank but wouldn't let me put it back in to re-open the account. Does that make any sense at all?

I went down the street to another bank and opened a new account without incident.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th and other random happenings

Happy 4th of July! Tonight we are having our 4th annual BBQ and Fireworks show. It started when we moved into our current house and realized that, being in and Unincorporated area, we could set off our own fireworks on 4th of July. So we invited over some friends for food and explosives and a tradition was born! I believe that this year we have about 10 families coming over, which is about the same as last year.

In other news, Olivia the fish bit the dust and has been replaced by Fuscia the Beta. So far Turtle2 the beta is still swimming around and doing well. Goldfish are just too hard to keep alive, I think if any of you are planning to get a fish for your child or yourself, a Beta is the way to go. They are more expensive, but worth the extra cost. A goldfish costs about 27 cents and a Beta costs about $4. But keeping in mind that you get about 27 cents worth of life and enjoyment out of a goldfish, a Beta is still a better value.

The garden is doing very well! I harvested my first beets the other day. They were about the size of golf balls, which is a little small to harvest, but they were too close to another beet. We haven't eaten them yet, but have eaten some of the greens. Yummy! My spinach is starting to bolt, so I've harvested almost all of that. The lettuce is getting big, too, but I've been snipping leaves off of it for quite a while now. I got a few strawberries off of last year's plants, but the plants aren't looking very healthy. I think they needed to be repotted this year with some compost. Hubby weeded all of the grass out of the front row in the garden last weekend, and put down a layer of compost. I'm planning to take all of my strawberries, the volunteers in the corn, the ones from last year's pots and the alpine ones in the hanging baskets, and plant them all in that front row. I think they'll be more healthy planted there...I hope they will anyway. I noticed that my pea plants have flowers and so do a couple of zucchini plants! If all goes well, I should get a few peas and zucchini in a few days or weeks. My cucumber plants have a lot of little tiny cukes on them, too! So I'm just waiting for those to grow big enough to eat. Oh, and the bean plants that the kids planted in their rain boots have some flowers, too. They are very excited about that! I think hubby ate the last of the cherries off our our tree the other day. They were very yummy, too! Now we're just waiting on the apples and blueberries!


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