Picture Day

Today is picture day at Emma's preschool. They just had pictures taken about a month ago, but this time it's "Holiday Pictures." As Maximus teared to shreds the form informing us of the impending picture day, I forgot all about it until I got Emma out of the carr and saw another parent carrying the picture sheet. Had I remembered that it was picture day, I would not have dressed Emma in her John Deere "I Love Dirt" T-shirt this morning. Oh it is a fine shirt, but I thought something a little nicer would be better for her pictures, even though we don't intend on buying any. However, just in case we decided we wanted some copies of her photo, I returned to preschool with a different shirt for Emma to wear, a solid red shirt. That should look nicer for her picture.



As of this morning, Maximus is done with the helmet to correct his plagiocephaly. He has mad a lot of progress since he started wearing it back in August. At that time, the difference between the measurements from the back left to the front right of his head and the back right to the front left of his head was 1.7 centimeters. Now the difference is just 0.4 centimeters. It will be nice not having to wash the helmet daily, and Max's head will smell a lot better now that he is not wearing the helmet twenty-three hours a day. I am glad that we decided to do this for Max though, and I think we would do it again if we needed to. Now we just need to work on getting him discharged from physical therapy.



We had a busy Halloween weekend, beginning with the Cottage Grove Halloween parade on Saturday, and ending with trick-or-treating with HealthPartners' very own Petey P. Cup. To begin, a little before 10:00 Saturday morning, the four of us walked to the route of the Monster Bash Halloween Parade. Once we got there, we had a little wait before the parade began. We discovered that we really need to work on Emma's tolerance of loud noises. She was deathly afraid of the police cars and fire trucks at the beginning of the parade. I had to hold her until they had passed because the sirens really frighten her. Despite that, we had a great time at the parade, Emma ended up collecting a lot of candy. She filled her candy bucket at least two-thirds full.

Then yesterday was the highlight of Halloween -- trick-or treating. A few weeks ago Petey P. Cup announced on his Facebook page that he would go trick-or-treating on Halloween with one of his fans. To get a chance of having him join you, you just had to post a message on his Facebook wall indicating why you wanted to trick-or-treat with Petey P. Cup. Emma really likes Petey, so I decided I would enter us in this contest. I made a short video of Emma asking Petey P. Cup to please come trick-or-treat with her. That did the trick, because last Monday he posted on his Facebook page that we were the winners! Emma was very excited when she found out Petey P. Cup would be trick-or-treating with her. All day yesterday Emma asked when Petey would arrive.

Shortly before 6:00, I got a call from Petey's handler that they were in Cottage Grove and would be at our house shortly. They wanted to know if Emma knew that Petey was coming and if Petey needed to be in costume when they arrived. I let them know that they could change here. I can't imagine how difficult it would have been to ride in a car in that costume. Not long after that, two young women showed up with the Petey P. Cup costume. They also brought a couple of Halloween baskets, one for Emma and the other for Maximus. In one of the baskets was four Petey P. Cup plush dolls, one for each of us. The other basket contained a stuffed vampire and scarecrow for the kids. We all chatted a bit, asking questions about how they got to be Petey P. Cup, and what it is like, before one of them put on the Petey P. Cup costume and then heading out down the street.

We took a few photos outside and then started out trick-or-treating. We spent about an hour and a half walking through the neighborhood begging for candy from our neighbors. Emma had a great time, holding Petey P. Cup's hand as they walked down the street. The people handing out the candy were also quite entertained by Petey. Some other kids we saw while we were out were not sure what Petey P. Cup was. Some of them thought he was a jar of mustard, while others thought he was a container of ice cream. While we were out, Emma filled both the trick-or-treat basket that she had prior to Petey's arrival and one of the baskets Petey brought for her. It helped that a lot of people were giving candy to Petey P. Cup as well as to Emma. When we returned home, we took a few more photos with Petey P. Cup before they headed on their way. Emma went to bed not long after they left and quickly went to sleep. She had quite an eventful Halloween, one she won't likely forget anytime soon.


Zoo Boo 2010

This afternoon the family and I went to Como Zoo for their annual Zoo Boo fundraiser. Emma had a good time walking through the zoo trick-or-treating. In past two years we attended Zoo Boo, none of the animals were out, but this year was different. We were able to see an ostrich, a bison, and the polar bears. Emma enjoyed seeing the animals.

While we roamed through the zoo, I kept trying to get Emma to pose for a photo with some of the costumed characters around the zoo, but she refused to do so. She seemed to be afraid of many of them. She wouldn't even pose with the Star Wars characters toward the end of the route through the zoo. The only character Emma posed with for a photo was Petey P Cup. After taking her picture, we got one of the whole family with Petey.


Nine Months Old

Maximus turned nine months old today. I can not believe that it has already been three-fourths of a year since he was born. In no time at all, he will be one year old.

Today we took Max to Sears to have his photo taken. As usual, they did an awesome job. Max once again cooperated for the photo shoot. The hardest part of the whole thing was deciding which photos to get prints of. Fortunately we have them all on CD so we can make more prints later if we decide to.

After getting the photos ordered, we walked around the Mall of America a bit. We had to get Max some new long-sleeved T-shirts as most of the ones we have for him are too small. All of his 12-month shirts have now been put away to be replaced by 18-month and 2T size shirts. Max is one big boy!


The Pumpkin Farm

We spent this afternoon at Lendt's Pumpkin Patch in Wyoming, Minnesota, hunting for some pumpkins just right for turning into jack-o-lanterns. We had a great time there. We had the option of picking pumpkins from ones already picked or picking our own. We decided to do the latter. We managed to find four suitable pumpkins without much trouble.

After paying for our pumpkins, we put them in the car and went back to enjoy the rest of what the pumpkin patch had to offer. Emma got her face painted. She chose to have a spider in its web painted on her cheek. We enjoyed some snacks--mini doughnuts for Mel, cotton candy for Emma, and a bratwurst for me. We then looked around at the displays that had been set up. We had a fun time, even though it was a bit of a drive from home to get there.


Maximus Stands

Today for the first time, Maximus pulled himself up to a standing position using a stationary object. For a few weeks now he has pulled himself to standing by grabbing onto my fingers, but this is the first time he has done it without any help. At first I didn't even notice that he was standing. I had been talking on the phone and I turned around to see what Max was up to. I saw him by the gate I had put up to keep him out of the kitchen. I was about to turn back around when it occurred to me that Max wasn't sitting at the gate, but was standing instead! Now if Max just works on his balance, he will be walking in no time.


Helmet Adjustment

Friday afternoon we noticed that Max's helmet had been rubbing quite a bit. In fact, he even started grabbing at it, making us think that it had become less comfortable. We kept the helmet off of him all weekend until I had a chance to take him in today to have adjustments made to his helmet. We were actually thinking that his head had maybe grown to the maximum size of the helmet, but the measurements indicated no change in the size of his head. The orthotist shaved out some parts of the helmet, and we put it back on Max. In three weeks we'll be back to have measurements taken again.


The Kids and Me at the Zoo

Yesterday afternoon Mel was getting a tattoo, so I decided to take the kids to the zoo. Emma originally wanted to go to the Mall of America so she could ride the merry-go-round, but she changed her mind and told me that she wanted to go to the zoo, specifically Como Zoo since they have giraffes. Maximus, Emma, and I had a good time walking around the zoo, looking at all the animals. Emma was quite inquisitive, asking me what the various signs said about the animals. She even asked me where the bison and the lions go potty.


Burning Down the House

Okay, I didn't really burn down the house, and the photo shown with this blog posting is simply for dramatic purposes, but I did manage to start a fire in the house yesterday.

While listening to a training session for work during lunch yesterday, I started cooking chicken breasts that we were going to use for dinner. I had started by heating a little bit of olive oil in a pan. Once the oil was hot, I added a couple of chicken breasts. These were chicken breasts that had been individually frozen with an ice glaze, and not all the ice had melted. Now I should have known from my years of experience working at Hardee's that putting ice in hot oil was a very bad idea, but I did it anyway.

At first there was a little bubbling of the oil as it melted the ice, but then the bubbling and splattering of the oil got much more vigorous. So next came my second big mistake, removing the pan from the burner. It sounded like a good idea, removing the pan from the heat would cause the oil to cool down, reducing the splattering. And while that happened, I hadn't considered the oil splattering out of the pan onto the hot surface of the stove.

As soon as I had moved the pan away, a ring of fire sprang up from where the heating element was under the flat top of the stove's hot burner. Now the oil that had splattered onto the stove burned up very quickly, extinguishing the fire, but it was a bit frightening. In reality, the fire probably lasted no longer than one second, but it seemed much longer as I stood, watching it on the stove.


Early Childhood Screening

On Tuesday, we took Emma in for the early childhood screening that the state of Minnesota requires of all three- and four-year-olds before they can begin kindergarten. Naturally, I felt that Emma would do really well even before we got there. I was impressed though that she actually answered when the person who greeted us upon our arrival when asked how she was. Emma is often very quiet when people she doesn't know talk to her initially.

Emma had her hearing, vision, height, and weight checked. All were fine. She then went off to administered an early childhood screening assessment. Coincidentally, the company I work for publishes the assessment that they used. Anyway, afterwards, the teacher who assessed Emma spoke with Mel and me, going over each of the tasks Emma was asked to complete. Emma got the maximum number of points on most of the tasks, earning a score of 24, which was higher than the 16 points that would be the minimum they would want to see from a child of her age. Her score was even higher than the minimum they would want from the next age group as well.

We still have a bit of a wait until Emma can start kindergarten; she won't be able to start until Fall 2012. I do worry though that Emma may not be challenged sufficiently when she does start school. We mentioned this concern to the teacher administering the assessment, and were told that Emma's kindergarten teacher should differentiate instruction to take each students' needs into account. This sounds good, but I know that in practice, it can be difficult to actually accomplish.


I'm Christine O'Donnell, and I'm Not a Witch

Is Christine O'Donnell implying that there is something wrong with being a witch? And what if I am a witch, then how is Christine O'Donnell me? Incidentally, another thing that Christine O'Donnell isn't is a grammarian. Otherwise she would know that "None of us are perfect" is incorrect. She should have said, "None of us is perfect."

Cuteness of the Day

I'm not sure why someone put two bunnies in paper cups, but they sure are cute.


Max's Head

Seven weeks ago, on August 10, Maximus began wearing a helmet twenty-three hours a day to help to correct his plagiocephaly. Today we went into the orthotist's office for a follow-up appointment to see how he is progressing. When we were last there, three weeks ago, there had been absolutely no change in the size of his head since it had been previously measured. This time though, his head had grown. In the past three weeks, Max's head circumference has increased by 0.4 centimeters, which I was told was a good rate of increase. When measuring Max's head from its right anterior to left posterior, the measurement remained the same at 15.2 centimeters. The left anterior to right posterior measurement though increased from 14.2 centimeters to 14.4 centimeters. Ideally, the difference between these two measurements would be zero. The right anterior to left posterior measurement is still 1 centimeter greater than the other measurement. This is an improvement from before he started wearing the helmet though. Then the difference was 1.7 centimeters. The orthotist is estimating that Max will be done wearing the helmet in three weeks. If his head continues to grow the next three weeks as it did the last three weeks, he will reach the casting measurement of the helmet, 46.5 centimeters, and it will no longer fit. We'll see on October 19 if that is the case. It would be nice to not deal with the helmet anymore, although it does come in handy protecting his head.


A Visit From Bill

For the first time since we moved to Minnesota, my friend Bill came for a visit from Cedar Rapids today. He originally planned on arriving around 9:00 this morning with the hopes of using our Wi-Fi to take a test for an online class he is enrolled in. However things did not work out as planned. Because of flooding, Highway 52 was closed somewhere between Rochester and here. When Bill took the detour, he ended up getting lost, and I had a hard time giving him help since his cell phone reception was poor. Bill noticed that he was running low on gas, so he returned to Rochester to refuel his car. While there, he stopped by the Rochester Public Library to see if he could connect to the Internet there to take his test, but by the time he got logged in, he was late for his test. Bill finally arrived at the house shortly before 1:00, four hours after he expected to be here.

Neither of us had eaten lunch yet, so we went to Ho King, a local Chinese restaurant for lunch. Afterward we stopped at Target, where I had a couple of things to pick up. As Bill enjoys comic books and comic book stores, we then went to Source Comics and Games in Falcon Heights. We went there because it is one comic book store in the Twin Cities that I know of, having visited there once before when I was in the area for a business trip several years ago. We then returned back to the house, stopping to buy a carbon monoxide detector at Walmart; the one we had in the basement stopped working today, so it needed to be replaced.

Bill left to return to Cedar Rapids around 4:30. He having quite a long day, with his very long drive here. Fortunately his return trip should go much better as Highway 52 has reopened.


Business Trip to Chicago

I am currently on a business trip to Chicago. I arrived yesterday afternoon after a rather uneventful flight from the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. Usually on business trips we stay at an Embassy Suites hotel. This time though, the Embassy Suites was booked, so the people from my company are at the Marriott Suites near O'Hare, while our committee members are staying at the nearby Marriott. Now I don't want to sound like I am complaining about the Marriott suites. Quite frankly, I think the room I am in is the best hotel room I have ever stayed in on a business trip. However, I really miss the breakfast with the omelet bar and the afternoon manager's reception that  the Embassy Suites has. Oh well, since the after-work drinks aren't free, the company will just end up paying for them.

This is a nice hotel though. The room has two large high-definition televisions. The alarm clock in the bedroom has a docking port for my iPod. That is especially nice since I prefer waking up to music than to an obnoxious alarm. And with the iPod dock, I can listen to my own music. I always find it such a pain to find a radio station that I will like in a city I am visiting. This eliminates that need. The bathroom is also very nice. Besides the typical bathtub, there is an actual shower stall, and the shower head is actually high enough for me! There are a couple of drawbacks about the hotel though, besides the lack of free alcohol. One is the lack of wireless Internet access in the room. I have Internet access, but it is not wireless. The second is the fact that sodas from the vending machines or from the front desk cost three dollars. That's an outrageous price! However, neither of these negatives are particularly bad, especially since I can get reimbursed for my beverages when I submit my expense report upon returning home.

Now on to the details of what I have been doing while I was here. Last night, two of my coworkers and I had dinner at the Carlucci Italian restaurant that is located very close to our hotel. I had some great food -- flank steak, pasta, and lobster-stuffed shrimp! It was fantastic! The crème brûlée I had for dessert was good as well, although the flame went out before the alcohol on top was sufficiently burned. It was so big that I was unable to finish it.

Today was the first day of our day and a half of meetings. I am not going to go into detail about the meeting, but I will say that I definitely earned the drink I had with dinner tonight! Speaking of dinner, we went to Gibsons to eat. We wanted to eat in the restaurant itself, but without a reservation we would have had to wait until 9:00 at the earliest before we could be seated, so we ate in the bar instead. Finding a seat in the bar was almost as difficult. I noticed that three women at one of the tables were eating some cake, so I staked out their table waiting for them to leave so I could pounce on the newly-vacated table before someone else had the chance. While I was waiting for them to leave, I noticed that the men at the neighboring table were paying their tab. They ended up leaving first, so I procured a table for my group. I had a rib eye steak sandwich for dinner. A few of us shared some crab cakes for an appetizer. For the second night in a row, dinner was quite delectable. After dinner, we returned to out hotel where we had some desert at our hotel's restaurant.

After returning to my room, I spent a little bit of time working on a different project to which I am assigned before composing this blog posting and going to bed. I am anticipating that my committee will finish up early tomorrow, so I guess I will probably be spending extra time at O'Hare waiting for my 3:05 flight back to Minneapolis.


Crazy Vandals

I stopped by my sister's condo this morning, and when I was leaving, I noticed that a sign in the middle of her street had been vandalized.


A Daddy Weekend

Mel went to Cedar Rapids this past weekend to visit a friend. This left me home alone with both kids. I got the kids put to bed alright Friday night, although Max did get up twice to be fed during the night -- at 10:00 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. He ended up waking up at 4:40 in the morning, followed by Emma waking up at 5:20. Emma wanted to go somewhere Saturday morning. She ended up asking if we could go to the Mall of America so she could ride the merry-go-round. So, I decided to take both kids to the mall. Taking a three-year-old and a seven-month-old to the Mall of America by myself was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. The hardest part was when we were in the middle of eating lunch and Emma told me she needed to go potty. Well, she is too young to go by herself, our food was only half eaten, I was trying to feed Max, and there was no one to take her besides me. I ended up telling her to finish her lunch first, and then we would go to the restroom. We finished up and went, however Emma apparently didn't actually have to use the restroom. I guess my gamble paid off. Emms ended up riding the carousel three times during our visit to the mall before we headed home.

Yesterday, we all went to the Woodbury Days parade. That is one really long parade! I think it lasted about two hours! Before it was over, Emma was ready to go home. It wasn't because we were there for so long, but instead because she was frightened by the fire coming from the RE/MAX hot air balloon basket that was in the parade. The loud noise was bad enough, but when they fired it up near us, I think the combination of fire, intense heat, and noise pushed her over the edge. It took several minutes to calm her down. She ended up with quite a bit of candy. I don't think she will be able to go through it all by Halloween even. She also ended up with a lot of political stickers on her shirt. Somehow though, the stickers from the Republican candidates ended up being covered by the stickers from the DFL candidates. Hmmm, I'm not sure how that happened.


Time to Blog

I've been having a hard time making time to blog lately. I have some time now, so I thought I would write about our trip to Iowa last weekend to celebrate my grandmother's ninety-first birthday, as well as the birthdays of my sister and my cousin's wife. We drove down to my mother's home Friday night. I think this really messed up Maximus's sleep schedule. It took a long time to get him to sleep. Fortunately, this meant he ended up sleeping much later than usual.

On Saturday we had lunch at the Colony Inn in Amana. Lunch was terrific! The mashed potatoes and gravy were delicious, and the Swiss steak I had for my entrée was quite flavorful as well. We then returned to my grandmother's house where we later had a small dinner followed by cake and ice cream.

My mom, sister, Mel, Emma, Max, and I went to the Other Place in Waterloo for pizza on Sunday before returning home. The drive back went pretty well except for the last half hour or so. By that time, Max had woken up and was tired of being in his car seat. He wasn't shy about letting us know it either. I hope we all survive our trip to Iowa next month for a wedding reception. That trip is going to be much longer than the one we took last weekend.


Taking Off the Pounds

I seem to be getting back on track with my weight loss. I lost another 1.2 pounds this past week, meaning that my weight has now decreased four of the past five weeks. And I think the only reason my weight was up last week was that last Tuesday I went to a potluck lunch at Mel's workplace. I was actually expecting to see an increase this week as I weighed myself Monday and my weight had increased significantly. I was very happy to see that it did not increase however. In the 14 weeks since I have been using Weight Watchers, I have had a net loss of 11.2 pounds, averaging 0.8 pounds per week. I'd like to see my weekly rate of weight loss slightly higher, but this number is acceptable. I now have 12.5 pounds to go before I have lost 10% of my weight when I started Weight Watchers in May, and 25.6 pounds until I reach my goal weight of 200 pounds. I know I can do this, but it would be much easier if I could find some time to get some real exercise in.


Voter #3

On our way to daycare this morning, the kids and I stopped so I could vote in the Minnesota primary. When I signed in, I found it interesting that there were two people whose names were on the same page as mine whose eligibility to vote was being challenged. For one of the two names, there was a not indicating that the person had moved. For the other, it said the person was a felon. I didn't think to look at the time, but I could have actually looked to see who these two people were who listed as possible illegal voters.

After getting my ballot, Emma, Maximus, and I proceeded to the voting booth. Up until the time I got there, I still wasn't completely sure who I was going to select for the nomination for governor. In fact, I hadn't even made up my mind whether I was going vote in the Independence Party race or the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party race. I ended up voting in the DFL column of my ballot, selecting the incumbents for Secretary of State and Attorney General. It was a tough decision for me between Mark Dayton and Margaret Anderson Kelliher when it came to the governor's race. I'm not going to say for whom I voted, but I didn't even consider voting for Matt Entenza. While I am sure he would do fine in the job of governor, his insistence that Minnesota should drop out of No Child Left Behind made me not want to vote for him. The fact that my job entails creating tests, such as ones used for NCLB, played a big role in this decision.

After I marked my ballot, I let Emma slide it into the ballot-counting machine. My ballot was the third one of the day at my precinct. I didn't think that was too bad considering that the polls had only been open for a few minutes before we arrived. The person manning the machine gave Emma and me "I Voted" stickers. He was going to give one to Max as well, but I declined. I told him that Max would just take it off and try to eat it.

No matter who wins today, I will still have a choice to make in November. I can not yet say that I am completely committed to voting for the DFL candidate, whomever that may be. I could still select the IP candidate. Of course, there is no way in hell I will be voting for Tom Emmer three months from now.


Maximus's First Few Days With His Helmet

We've been breaking Max into his STARband helmet since Friday when we got it. On Friday, he alternated between one hour of the helmet on and one hour of having it off until he went to bed without the helmet. Saturday he was two hours on then an hour off, without wearing the helmet for naps or overnight. Yesterday it was on for four hours and then off for an hour, leaving it on for his naps. Finally today, Maximus was supposed to leave it on for eight hours with an hour off. However, he was napping when it was time to remove the helmet, so he actually wore it for a whole ten hours before removing it temporarily. He didn't have any difficulties napping with his helmet on, and now he is sleeping with the helmet on. The past two nights, Maximus has finally slept through the entire night without waking up to be fed. I hope he manages to do it again tonight. I am not sure if the helmet will affect his sleep though.

I have been out and about with Max a few times since he started wearing his helmet. I admit that I wondered how other people we would see would react to his helmet since it isn't something most people are familiar with. At Target this past weekend, I noticed that some people looked, but no one stared or asked why my baby was wearing a helmet. There was a woman who was helping an adult with a developmental disability do his shopping. She stopped to talk to Max, commenting on how pretty his big blue eyes were.

Saturday evening though, we did get a question about Max's helmet. We were eating at a restaurant. When our server initially greeted us, he said that Max's helmet was cool. Later on he asked if Max was learning to walk, assuming that was the reason for the helmet. We did explain that Max had the helmet to correct a flat spot on his head, and he found that to be interesting. Likewise, Max and I were shopping at Target today when a girl who appeared to be about nine or ten years old commented that she liked his helmet. I started talking with her mother and explained the purpose of the helmet. And of course, when I took Emma to daycare this morning, the other kids were curious about Max's helmet. I expect that Max will get second glances from people when we are out, and of course I am perfectly willing to educate them about its purpose if I am asked.

Tomorrow Maximus begins wearing the helmet for twenty-three hours every day. He still doesn't seem to mind it, so I am not anticipating any problems.


Max's Helmet

Last month, Maximus was fitted for a cranial remolding orthosis, a helmet, to correct the shape of his head. Yesterday we got the helmet from the orthotist. Max has the condition plagiocephaly, or flat head syndrome, due to his having torticollis, which causes him to turn his head predominantly to the right. Because he spent a lot of time lying on his back, and turning his head to the right while on his back, the right side of his head is flattened some. This helmet will allow the flattened parts of his head to grow out while restricting grown in the directions where his head has already grown out. After a brief break-in period, Max will be wearing his helmet for twenty-three hours a day until his head has a rounder shape. The orthotist estimated that this will take until Max is about eleven months old. So he could be wearing his helmet for about five months.

Prior to receiving the helmet yesterday, I was concerned that Max would have a problem with having the helmet on his head. However, its presence didn't seem to bother Max one bit. He does not act any differently whether it is on or off, and he hasn't tried to remove it from his head. For a couple of weeks, until he is completely adjusted to having the helmet, Max will probably have a harder time sitting up and rolling over. However, he will have the benefit of being able to fall over from a sitting position without hurting his head. Of course, when he finally gets rid of the helmet, he may be in for an unpleasant surprise when he does bump his head. We are going to have to start washing Max's hair daily now, instead of every other day as we have been doing. Otherwise, the helmet, which we will also have to wash daily, will begin to smell bad. I am really looking forward to seeing the progress that Maximus makes by wearing his helmet.


Wrap-up of the Past Week

We've had a pretty busy week this past week. Last Saturday we all went to the Mall of America where Emma finally got to ride on the carousel. She rode on it three whole times! I thought that since she was tall enough to ride on her own, but I wanted to go with her, I would have to pay as well, so I paid enough for two rides, one for her and one for me. However, when we got on, they only charged us for her, so we had enough points left for her to ride a second time. Somehow though, the points were not deducted from our ticket for on of her first two rides, so she was able to ride a third time. She had a great time on the carousel.

On Sunday we went to the Minnesota Zoo. Emma wanted to play in the splash pad, but we told her we would do that before leaving instead of right when we got there. As a consequence, Emma did not want to spend much time looking at any particular animal. She kept saying that she wanted to see the next animal. I am pretty sure this was so we could finish with looking at animals so she could play in the water. When it was finally time to go home, Emma was not happy about it. She screamed all the way to the car that she didn't want to go home yet. She fell asleep in the car, but when she woke up when we got home, she began whining again. She ended up spending a bit of time in her room alone until she managed to calm down.

On Monday, Max rolled over from his back to his tummy! He had begin rolling the other way regularly last month, but now he can roll both ways!

Max's physical therapy appointment for his torticollis was Wednesday. He is doing really well, although he still tilting his head to his left. This appointment was also a lot more pleasant than the previous two as Max refrained from screaming for most of the appointment. He did complain some during one of the exercises he did though. It was nice to not have him screaming for the entire appointment though.

I had a follow-up appointment from my gallbladder surgery yesterday. Everything looks just fine.

I have had quite a bit of work lately, especially since Wednesday this week. All of these other appointments haven't helped with getting it done, and we have another appointment this afternoon. However, working at night, I have been able to get things done. Well, I've gotten most of it done anyway.


Six Months

Six months ago yesterday, Maximus Xavier was born. I can not believe that he is already half a year old! He has grown so much since then. He weighed seven and a half pounds when he was born. He is now over eighteen pounds in weight. He is also quite tall. His feet hang over the end of his infant car seat.

Maximus is usually in a great mood, smiling most of the time. We took him to get his pictures taken yesterday, and he did a fantastic job. He did much better than Emma did when she got her pictures taken when she was six months old. Emma was not very cooperative, but Maximus was. The only problem he gave us was that after falling over once, he didn't seem too keen on sitting up on his own. Of course, Maximus is still pretty new at sitting up. He can't get himself into a sitting position, but if someone else sits him up, he can usually maintain the position for a couple of minutes.

Besides sitting, Maximus has begun rolling over from his tummy to his back. In the past month, until last night, he had rolled himself over three times on his own. However, this was not a feat that he would repeat. Last night, this all changed. I placed Maximus on his tummy, and after a little bit of whining, he rolled over onto his back. I put him back on his tummy, and he immediately rolled back over again. He did this a few times in a row, so I got the camera out to make a video of this. At first I thought he wasn't going to do it again, but then he did.

Surgery and Recovery

On Thursday I had my gallbladder removed. And as I was not going to be able to eat from between midnight prior to my surgery until after the procedure was completed, I decided that I wanted to have a large dinner Wednesday. So Mel, Emma, Maximus, my mother, including my mother, who came to visit to watch Maximus, my sister, and I went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. I thought that was a good place to go since their portions are notoriously large. However, I ordered an item off of their specials menu. Those entrées are not as large. Nevertheless, I still had plenty to eat. Around nine o'clock that night, I had my last food prior to my surgery, half of the cheesecake that I had brought home from the restaurant.

Thursday morning, after taking Emma to daycare, and doing some shopping at the grocery store and Target, Mel and I headed to the surgery center. I was a little nervous. Prior to this surgery, the only surgery I had had was having my wisdom teeth removed. However, the fact that this surgery was routine did help to ease my nerves a bit. I figured that the chances of something going wrong were very remote.

Upon arriving at the surgery center, the nurse prepped me for surgery, putting an IV in my hand. I really hate needles, so I wasn't looking forward to that, but it wasn't too bad. The anesthesiologist came in to ask me a few questions, and then the surgeon stopped by to tell me that he had another laparoscopic cholecystectomy to perform before mine, so he would be in good practice when it came to mine. After waiting for an hour or so, I was wheeled into the surgery room. I seem to remember them saying something about the operating table not being long enough, but that is the last thing I recall before waking up in the recovery room. When I came to, I apparently was trying to sit up, because I seem to remember the nurses yelling at me to not sit up. After being observed for an hour and a half or so, Mel and I went back home.

I actually felt pretty good initially after my surgery, although I did take some generic Vicodin upon returning home to ensure I continued to feel all right. I also had some crackers and Jell-O to eat once I got home since I was so hungry, but didn't think a full meal would be advisable. I didn't have much pain at all until I laid down to go to bed. That hurt quite a bit, but taking ibuprofen and more Vicodin helped. I ended up going to sleep fairly quickly.

Yesterday I felt fairly good and ended up eating a good lunch and dinner. Staying medicated helped to keep pain away, although my right shoulder felt stiff most of the day. In fact, I felt well enough out that Mel, Maximus, and I even went out for a little bit. I didn't feel much pain at all yesterday until I tried to feed Max and ended up stretching in an uncomfortable way. The next real pain I had last night was when a joke on truTV's World's Dumbest made me laugh. It was very painful when I laughed, but I couldn't stop! I had to get up and leave the room, because just watching the clip on the show kept me wanting to laugh.

I seem to be recovering just fine from my surgery. Later this morning I will be able to remove the dressings from the four incision sites. Then I will get my first look at where the surgeon inserted his tools.


A Date with a Surgeon

Perhaps I should have written this blog entry before the previous one, but yesterday I went to see a surgeon about my gallbladder issues. Even though I haven't had any pain from it in over two weeks, the fact that I had two occurrences of pain that week, the other being two days before, the surgeon recommended that I have my gallbladder removed before it causes any more issues. So next Thursday, a week from today, I will be having a cholecystectomy done. This week has been, and next week will be busy weeks in the medical area for the Mathman family.

The Craniofacial Clinic

Back in June I blogged about how Maximus has torticollis, a condition which causes him to tilt his head to the left and look to the right. He has been going to physical therapy since then to work on that. We have also been doing exercises with him at home to stretch out his neck muscles to prevent this. However, despite this intervention, he still prefers to turn his head to the right when he is lying down, and as a result of this, he has developed plagiocephaly, or a flat spot on his head.

The hope was that his physical therapy would help in rounding his head out, but this has not happened. So today we went to the craniofacial clinic at a local hospital to have him evaluated. After taking some measurements, the nurse practicioner and orthotists decided that a helmet would help to correct Maximus's plagiocephaly. Maximus was fitted for a helmet. To do this, the orthotist put a cap on his head that contained reflective dots. She then scanned around his head with a laser which took information from the position of the dots. A computer then created a three-dimensional image of Maximus's head from the data it received. Maximus also needed to have a CT scan done to make sure that two of the bones of his skull had not yet fused. He actually did very well for that, especially considering how bundled up he was. Maximus hates being bundled up.

This afternoon, after we got home, we got a call from the nurse practitioner letting us know that the CT scan showed that everything was normal, and that we can proceed to order Maximus's helmet. I will call the orthotist tomorrow to set that up. She was supposed to email us a file showing the different color and pattern options, but she apparently did not get around to that yet. Hopefully she can do that when I call tomorrow so they can get to work on Maximus's helmet.


Star Wars: In Concert

This afternoon Mel, my sister, and I went to go see Star Wars: In Concert at the Xcel Energy Center. Having a sister with connections it really nice, as our seats were in one of the suites, complete with complimentary cookies, brownies, and soft drinks.

Before the show, I really did not know what the show would be like. All I knew was that there would be an orchestra playing music along with Star Wars movies being shown on the screen. The show began with the orchestra playing the 20th Century Fox fanfare, followed by the theme song to Star Wars. While they played this, scenes from the various Star Wars movies were shown behind the orchestra. Also shown on the screen was views of the orchestra playing.

Then, Anthony Daniels, the actor who played C-3PO in all six Star Wars movies, came out and introduced different musical numbers, many of which focused on different characters in the saga, telling the story of Star Wars as the show progressed. Through talking about each of the characters, and some of the events of the movies, Daniels told the story of the whole Star Trek saga.

This was a great show. I really wish we could have brought Emma along as she is somewhat interested in Star Wars. Not only would she have been able to see clips from Star Wars, leaving out some of the parts that maybe wouldn't be appropriate for someone who is her age, but it would also have been a good introduction to seeing a symphony orchestra perform. However, the show was probably a little to loud for Emma; she hates loud noises. Also, I do not know if she would have been content to sit and watch the performance for the entire hour the show lasted before the intermission. If Star Wars: In Concert were to return in a couple of years, I think she could handle it.


Courtesy Calls from Discover Card

Black Telephone
Originally uploaded by Ollie-G
Discover Card has begun calling our house again to ask to speak with my wife. When I ask what the calls are in regards to, they simply tell me it is a courtesy call. If I tell them she is not here, they just say they will call back later. I have told them that she is not interested in receiving their call, but they continue to call back. I know that they do not have to abide by the federal Do Not Call registry since she is a customer of theirs, but she really isn't interested in signing up for their credit protection plan or whatever they are offering her to get her to use her card more. I have tried being polite with them, and I have also been more stern with telling them that she doesn't want to talk to them. With the two most recent calls from Discover Card, I have changed my tactic for dealing with them. I told the caller that Mel was here and that I would get her. I then just went about doing whatever it is I had been working on, letting the caller wait. The first time I did this, it the caller waited one minute, forty-five seconds before hanging up. The second time, the caller hung up after just one minute, twenty-five seconds. Oh, I suppose I could just ignore the calls and not answer them, but I really want them to STOP!


The Fourth of July

Our Fourth of July holiday began with us taking Maximus to the urgent care clinic to be checked out. That morning, when he woke up at 3:00, he was very warm. Taking his temperature, we learned that he had a fever of 101.4°F. That, along with the rash he had on his chect and back, prompted me to call the hospital to speak with a triage nurse to see if we needed to take him to the emergency room right away. After hearing all of Maximus's symptoms, the nurse said that we chould take him to be seen by a doctor some time within the next twenty-four hours. At the urgent care clinic, we discovered that Maximus has an inner ear infection.

While we spent most of our morning at the urgent care clinic and running a few other errands, we ended our day by going to Woodbury to see fireworks. Mel considered staying at home with Maximus since he had not been feeling well, but we ultimately decided that we would all go to the show. We were not sure how Maximus would deal with the loud noises, but he did great! He loved watching them and only cried a little bit toward the end. Emma, on the other hand, reall hates loud noises, so I was anticipating that she might not like the fireworks. She did cover her ears the whole time, and asked several times if we could go home or if she could sit in the car, but she did fine otherwise. After the fireworks were over, she said that she enjoyed them but that she closed her ears because they were loud. As we were in line to leave the parking lot, Emma kept counting the number of cars there were. She counted from one to eight before declaring that there were one hundred cars there. She ended up falling asleep before we got out of the parking lot. Unfortunately, she woke up this morning at the time she usually does, so I am afraid that she may end up being a little crabby this afternoon.


Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day everyone. Below Superman is a patriotic video, but please use caution as it contains explicit lyrics.


Another Zoo Trip

Today we made out fifth trip to a local zoo for the year. This time it was to the Minnesota Zoo. In fact, only one out of our five zoo trips this year hasn't been to the Minnesota Zoo. Anyway, we had two things we wanted to be sure to do at the zoo today. We wanted to give Emma a chance to play in the splash pad there, and we wanted to see the baby camel which Mel recently heard about. Emma did get to play in the water, and she had a great time. Unfortunately, we failed to see any baby camels. All of the big camels were all sitting down close to each other and we couldn't tell if there was a baby among them. Oh well. We can always see it later. We didn't spend too much time at the zoo though as Max seemed to be a bit overheated. One other thing that we did end up seeing at the zoo today though was the prairie dogs playing.


Happy Pre-Independence Day

It was 234 years ago today that the Second Continental Congress voted to declare the United States to be an independent country from Great Britain. And in honor of that, I am presenting here Stars and Stripes Forever being performed by the Muppets.

Getting Back on Track

I did a pretty good job at losing weight once I started back on WeightWatchers on May 5. However, since the beginning of June I have struggled a bit at continuing to lose weight, as shown in the graph below. While I am not looking forward to the prospect of having a cholecystectomy, the fact that I have been having issues with my gallbladder has made me reevaluate what I have been eating lately. This has provided the extra motivation to eat well, as I do not want another gallbladder attack. Hopefully my gallbladder issues will be resolved soon after I see a surgeon in a couple of weeks. And while I would enjoy going back to care-free eating, I think I really need to focus on eating right!


Trip to the ER

Yesterday afternoon, while I was working, I suddenly got an intense pain in my stomach. At first I thought I was just hungry, so I grabbed something to eat, a hot dog. About the same time I was eating the hot dog, I noticed that my back was hurting as well. Something just did not seem right, so I went to the computer and searched Bing to see what having back pain and stomach pain at the same time could possibly mean for me. While I was doing this I started to get a headache as well. Meanwhile, the results from my search of the Internet led me to think that I should probably go to the emergency room, or at the very least, I should call my doctor's office to see what they though.

I tried calling my doctor's office but no one answered, so I proceeded to call a hospital where I explained my symptoms to the triage nurse. She suggested that I either come to the emergency room or call my doctor for a recommendation. I called my doctor's office back and the nurse there also suggested that I go to the ER. I then called my aunt to come get Maximus. She also insisted that I should not drive myself to the hospital, so she and my cousin took me there as well.

Mel showed up after I had been admitted, but before I had been seen. She had been at a doctor's appointment of her own when I called her to let her know I was going to the hospital. I had an ultrasound done on my abdomen. About an hour and a half after the ultrasound, I learned that I either have stones or sludge in my gallbladder. Removing it wasn't an emergency, so they sent me home with instructions to see my doctor to see about having surgery done. They also sent me home with a prescription for Vicodin. I haven't used any of that though as I have yet to experience any pain since returning home.


Como Park Zoo

This afternoon, after waking Emma up from her nap, we all went to the Como Park Zoo. One of the things we wanted to see at the zoo was the polar bears in their new habitat that opened earlier this month. The Polar Bear Odyssey was very crowded with people who wanted to view the two polar bears. We were able to get in and see them though. Emma loved the polar bears.

Another exhibit we visited while at the zoo was Blooming Butterflies. This temporary exhibit immerses visitors in the butterflies' habitat. There were butterflies flying all around us. At first it seemed that Emma was a bit apprehensive about having butterflies fliying so close to her, but she quickly adapted to them and enjoyed walking through the exhibit, looking at the wide variety of butterflies.

There was one animal at Como Zoo that Emma did not enjoy seeing on our visit today. She did not like the sea lions, due to their loud barking. Emma just does not like loud noises, and I think she may have found the noise from the sea lions to be frightening.

F***ing Bad Drivers!

On our way to church this morning in, we nearly had a traffic collision. We were driving on Radio Drive from Cottage Grove toward Woodbury. We were going around the roundabout in the inside lane, intending on continuing straight across. We were halfway around the portion of the roundabout that we were traveling through when an older couple in a Cadillac entered the roundabout in the outside lane immediately to the right from us. Both of us slammed on our brakes to keep from colliding where we would be exiting the roundabout and where they would have continued through. The woman, who was the passenger in the front seat, waved her finger at us and appeared to be shouting at us through our windows. I shook a finger, albeit a different finger, back at her as her husband started driving again, driving around the front of our car.

Clearly, if we had collided, it would have been the fault of the Cadillac's driver as he failed to yield to us, a vehicle already in the roundabout. I am wondering what they could possibly have been thinking. Did they think that since we were in the inside lane that we wouldn't be exiting the roundabout? While I do not think the collision would have been our fault, and as much as I wouldn't mind getting a new car, I am very happy that the collision was avoided. For one, I wouldn't have wanted anyone to be injured. And secondly, the car I was driving is just about paid off.


Wasting Some Time

I ended up wasting a couple hours of my time today. Last week I noticed that my Social Security card was not where I thought I had it. I looked in all the obvious places in the house and still could not find it. So I decided that I should get a replacement Social Security card. I thought it would be as easy as filling out a form, maybe getting it notarized, and sending it in. However, the Social Security Administration's website made it seem that since they have a location here in the Minneapolis/Saint Pall metropolitan area, I needed to go to their office to submit my form and evidence of who I am.

I figured this would take at most an hour of my time, maybe just a little more, so around the time of my lunch break from work, I set out for the Social Security office. My first problem came when I encountered a closed street that my TomTom wanted me to drive on. There was not a clearly-marked detour either. I ended up spending probably ten extra minutes driving around before I could find my destination.

I don't know why I didn't anticipate it, but there was a significant wait before I could be seen to submit my information. After waiting for a while it occurred to me that there was really no reason why I needed a replacement Social Security card. I know my Social Security number, and I have other documents I can use for my I-9 if I start a new job, not that I am looking for a new job right now, I want to make that clear. However, I had already been waiting a while, so I stuck it out and eventually was seen by someone. In a couple of weeks I will be getting my new Social Security card in the mail. I should probably put it in a safe place so I don't lose it again.


Patrolling the Neighborhood

Police Car Lights
Originally uploaded by davidsonscott15
I was up around 2:30 Monday morning to feed Max. At 3:00, when Max was fed and sleeping again, and after the episode of Forensic Files I had been watching on truTV had ended, I put him back in his crib. After I laid him down, I saw a bright light outside the window, looking outside I saw that there were two police cars outside. One was stopped at the intersection of our street with the street which would run into our house if it continued. Behind that car, there was a police office talking to a man wearing a "wife beater" shirt. The second police car was driving slowly down the street, shining its spotlight in people's yards.

After looking at a couple yards across the street from our house, the police car made a U-turn and went down our side of the street. A moment later, a car slowly drove by, in the opposite direction as the police car. That police car then took off after the other car. The police car drove by again a few moments later.

I am not sure what the police were doing outside our house. I was tempted to go out and ask the police officers what was up, but I decided that I better just stay out of the way. I wonder if someone had called the police because they had seen someone prowling around. I frequently see people just walking down the street when I am feeding Max late at night. I have found that to be odd, but I have never seen the people walking down the street deviate from a straight path down the street. Aside from the fact that these people are out really late, they haven't seemed too suspicious.

Both police cars left by about 3:10, and I went back to bed, still wondering what they were doing. I admit that I was slightly concerned seeing them outside. Of course, watching Forensic Files as I do most nights when I am up with Max didn't do much to ease any concern I had. It can be a little creepy watching that show so late at night with just Max. Sometimes I worry that I may be the next victim featured on the program. Of course, if that were the case, I could at least take comfort in the knowledge that the crime would have been solved.


Last Wednesday, under the recommendation of his pediatrician, I took Maximus to see a physical therapist to treat him for torticollis. Torticollis is a condition in which the head is tilted to one side while the chin is elevated and turned to the opposite side. In Maximus's case, his head is tilted to the left and he tends to look to the right. One side effect of his condition is that the right side of his head is a little flattened because he turns his head to the right and spends a lot of time lying on the floor.

The physical therapist gave me a couple of exercises that we are supposed to do with Maximus several times a day. These exercises should help to stretch his neck muscles, correcting the condition. We are also supposed to do whatever we can to encourage him to look to the left more than to the right. This includes feeding him so he looks to the left while he eats. I have found this to be difficult for me, but it is something I need to learn to do for him.

Today I took Maximus back to the physical therapist for a second appointment. He seems to be doing fairly well, and he is getting beginning to tolerate the exercises and being on his stomach even more. Since we are comfortable with doing his stretching exercises, we just have to go to see the physical therapist every other week now instead of once per week. I feel very encouraged that Maximus will benefit from his exercises and from seeing the physical therapist.


Brown Bears

Last month the family and I went to the Minnesota Zoo where we saw the brown bears wrestling. As I promised then, here's the video of the bears.

Catching Up

I do not know why, but I haven't been blogging much lately. In fact, my last blog posting was at the end of last month. Since then I have been pretty busy. At the beginning of this month, Mel and I took a trip to Canton, Ohio, for the wedding of a good friend of hers. We had a good time there. This was the first wedding I had been to in a very long time, if ever, that had an open bar. Most of the weddings that I go to have free beer and soda, which is fine, but this one had free mixed drinks as well. While in Canton, I didn't do much sightseeing. Canton is the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but I did not go. I do not care enough about football to pay the admission to see whatever they had.

I took this past week off from work for family leave. I get two weeks off that I needed to use in the first six months after Maximus was born and he turns six months old next month, so I needed to get to it. I had a good week with Max. We did go to see a physical therapist on Wednesday because Max has torticollis. He has to return to the physical therapist weekly for a while. In the meantime, we have to get him to look to the left more and tilt his head to the right. He doesn't like it very much when we force him to do this.


Emma's Day

Emma has been acting up a bit lately. She hasn't really been bad, it's just that she hasn't done a good job of listening and doing what we ask her to do. I am not sure if this is just because it's typical three-year-old behavior, or if it's because she feels we have been paying too much attention to Maximus at her expense. Regardless of the reason, we asked Emma what she wanted to do today. She told us that she wanted to go to the zoo. Actually she told Mel that she wanted to go to the zoo. She told me that she wanted to go to the store. She didn't indicate to which store she wanted to go, but we ended up going to the zoo.

We really enjoyed looking at the new African animal exhibit in the Tropics Trail. Emma liked the crocodiles, but she did not want to view the bats. When we got close to the window behind which the bats were located, she quickly decided to get away from there. She also liked the Burmese python. We ended up buying her a 54-inch-long stuffed snake from the gift shop before we left.

Many of the animals at the zoo were much more active than they usually are when we visit. The wolves were running around in their habitat, and the bears were either fighting or playing vigorously. I got some good video and photos of the bears doing whatever it was they were doing, but because of some issues with our computer, I have been unable to get them off the camera onto the computer. When I do get that worked out, I will definitely be posting the video here on my blog.

Emma also had a great time playing in the water on the splash pad fountain on the Central Plaza. She hadn't had the opportunity to do that prior to this visit, but since it was quite warm, and we had spare clothes for her, we decided to let her play. She was a bit apprehensive when she first got near the water, as it was cold, but she started running around and through the water before too long. Getting her to leave was challenging.

We had a great day at the zoo. Hopefully Emma takes a good nap tomorrow as she didn't nap either today nor yesterday. She did sleep all the way home in the car, and she did go to bed an hour early tonight without much complaint. She does still need to nap tomorrow though.


Continuing Weight Watchers

In my second week on Weight Watchers, I managed to lose an additional 3.0 pounds. This makes for a total of 6.8 pounds so far, bringing my weight down to 330.0 pounds. I have just 30.0 more pounds before I reach my goal.


The Quest for a Swing Set

My mother has expressed interest in purchasing a swing set for us for Emma and Maximus to enjoy. We started our search for a swing set at the Kmart in Oakdale as we knew Kmart had them on sale and that was the closest location to our house. Emma picked out the swing set that she wanted and we proceeded to check out. Unfortunately we learned that the store was out of stock of that particular swing set model. After consulting their computer, we were informed that the Kmart in West Saint Paul had that swing set available.

Not knowing how to locate the Kmart in West Saint Paul, I tried entering the address we were given into our TomTom. The TomTom however did not recognize the street name, so I just picked the next closest Kmart that it could find. We ended up at a Kmart in Saint Paul. They too did not have the swing set in stock. This time an employee at the customer service desk actually called a couple other stores to see if they had the swing set we were looking for. The West Saint Paul Kmart, the one we had previously been referred to, did not have any, and neither did another of the closer Kmarts. We then decided to give up our quest for the time being. I hope we are able to locate a swing set, because I am sure Emma would enjoy playing on it.


Robin Hood

Since my mom was in town to visit us and to attend my sister's orchestra concert this weekend, Mel and I decided to take advantage of her as a baby sitter so the two of us could go to dinner and a movie by ourselves. We had a nice dinner at Don Pablo's followed by viewing Robin Hood. We both enjoyed the movie. I do not know how this story compares to what has been written in the past about Robin Hood, but I enjoyed learning of his origin, at least as far as this film was concerned. I suppose I could do a little research, but I am now wondering if Ridley Scott is planning on following this movie with another featuring Russell Crowe as Robin Hood.


My Return to Weight Watchers

Last Wednesday I signed back up with the online program that Weight Watchers offers. In October 2007, my weight was down to around 200 pounds. This is significantly less than the 243 pounds I weighed at the end of May 2004. However, in the past couple years my weight has crept back up significantly. Last Wednesday is was 236.8 pounds. In the last week, following the Weight Watchers program, I managed to lose 3.8 pounds, bringing my weight down to 233.0 pounds this morning. I have quite a bit of work ahead of me before I reach my goal of 200.0 pounds. If I work hard enough at it, hopefully I will be close to my goal by the end of this summer.


My Last Full Day in Philly

Today was my last full day in Philadelphia before returning home from my business trip. We were able to wrap things up a little early today. This gave me the opportunity to do a little sight seeing. I took a cab to the Liberty Bell. After visiting that sight, I wandered around the area for a little while, visiting the tomb of the unknown Revolutionary War soldier, and walking by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and the United States Mint. Also during this walk, I stopped at the Independence Hall visitor center where I got a free ticket to tour Independence Hall.

At 4:00, I took my tour of Independence Hall. It really isn't much of a tour as there are only two rooms in Independence Hall, the courtroom and the room in which the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were signed. That's not to say that the tour wasn't worth it. The tour guide did an excellent job describing what happened when the Second Continental Congress met there.

Later this evening, my colleagues and I all went to Misconduct Tavern for dinner. I had some really good homemade macaroni and cheese there. In addition to the variety of cheeses in the mac and cheese, I had them add grilled chicken. It was yummy, and not too much food. Tomorrow morning I have a few things to finish up for work, and then I will be headed to the airport to return to Minnesota.

Whose Cuisine Reigns Supreme?

As I mentioned in yesterday's blog entry, Monday night, after my colleagues and I arrived in Philadelphia for our meeting, we went to dinner at Morimoto, the restaurant of Iron Chef Japanese Masaharu Morimoto. In ordering dinner, I had to choose between ordering a specific item from the menu or omakase, in which the chef prepared a variety of dishes of his choice. Wanting to get the full experience, I had the omakase.

The first course of my dinner was hamachi tartare with fresh wasabi and osetra caviar.

The next course was whitefish carpaccio seared with hot olive and sesame oils, yuzu - citrus soy, finished with shiso, ginger, mitsuba, and chives.

 The third course was sashimi salad, mixed greens, yuzu vinaigrette, shaved bonito.

After the first three courses came the intermezzo, a palate cleanser, almond-spearmint soda.

Fourth came the first of the hot courses, black cod miso with su miso mustard.

The fifth course was pan seared duck breast and foie gras with port wine glazed ginger reduction.

Next came the chef's selection of sushi. I do not recall what they all were but one of them, the one shown on the top left, was tuna, and the sushi at the bottom right was octopus.

The dinner concluded with desert. For desert we were served chocolate strawberry bavaroise and white chocolate shiso mouse.

Each of these dishes was fantastic, and they were all very tasty! I have been trying to pick a favorite of the courses, but such a decision has proved to be impossible. Everything was so flavorful and delectable. I am not likely to return to Moromoto Restaurant any time in the future, so I will savor this visit.


Cheese Steak!

Last night my colleagues and I had dinner at Moromoto Restaurant in Philadelphia. I will be blogging about that, but that will have to wait until I get the menu of what we had to eat back from one of my colleagues. In the meantime, I am going to write about today's meeting and dinner. The meeting which I facilitated today went very well. We made a lot of progress at getting finished what we needed to work on. I am very pleased with what we accomplished.

This evening, a couple of colleagues, a few of our committee members, and I all went to get cheese steak for dinner. I got cheese steak from Geno's Steaks while a couple of the people in our group got their cheese steaks from Pat's King of Steaks across the street. Our cab driver said that he prefers Geno's, which it why I chose that for my dinner. Geno's is the restaurant which was controversial a few years back for having signs up in their windows telling people that this is America, so they should order in English. I was certain to place my order in English as I didn't want to anger the employees. Besides, I wasn't sure how to say "cheese steak" in Klingon. I had my cheese steak with onions and Cheez Whiz. It was good, but I also had a taste of a sandwich from Pat's. I think the meat at Pat's tasted better, but I thought the cheese was better on Geno's. That could be because the steak sandwich from Pat's had provolone instead of Cheez Whiz.


I Dislike Flying

I do not understand why, but I do not particularly care for flying. Oh, I know it's supposedly the safest way to travel, and without flying, it would be a lot less practical to go places that aren't as nearby, and while I wouldn't way that I have a fear of flying, I just can not get over the fact that there is a possibility that the plane will crash. Of course, the probability of that happening is very slim, and it it much more likely that I would get in a car accident if driving a long distance.

Anyway, I had a rather uneventful trip to Philadelphia earlier today. Everything went according to schedule. I even got an entire row to myself on the plane! I have checked into my hotel room at the Embassy Suites, and am currently waiting for my colleagues to arrive so we can figure out what our dinner plans are. This hotel is interesting. Each floor of the hotel is dodecagonal in shape. I have found it to be somewhat confusing finding my room upon exiting the elevator, having to sweep around a whole 360 degrees until I located my room. It might take me until my stay is over before I get a hang of finding my room.

While I am writing about things I dislike, I should also mention that I very much hate heights. Heights don't always bother me. Really the only time I hate heights is when I am not fully enclosed in a structure. For some reason I fear falling over whatever railing there is. I know this fear isn't completely rational, but I seem to get by having it. I did manage to walk up to the railing of the balcony of my nineteenth-floor room, holding my camera over the edge so I could take this photo of a building I have yet to identify. I think I have had enough time on the balcony for the rest of my stay now.


Three Months

Maximus turned three months old this past Friday. It doesn't seem like it's been that long already. Anyway, we took him to the Sears Portrait Studio at the Mall of America yesterday to get some pictures taken of him. They turned out really well. He did a much better job of getting his pictures taken than Emma did when she was his age.