Monday, June 30, 2008

Diaper decks in Restaurants and other businesses

Well I've already ranted about how not family friendly many places can be regarding diaper decks etc. So I've decided to take it one step farther and start a list of the good and the bad. As I think about it, very few restaurants actually have diaper decks. Many restaurants have kids' menus or child-friendly menu choices, but very few actually have a place to change a diaper.
Bueno y Sano has kid's tacos, and smaller portions for those who want them, but no diaper deck in either of their restaurants. La Veracruzana doesn't have them either, and when I used their bathroom in Amherst it was gross. It was in the basement and the floor was unfinished shall we say, dirty and disgusting. I wasn't even willing to put the changing pad on the floor in there. I took my daughter back upstairs and my husband found a nearby restaurant or park bench to put her fresh diaper on. Pete's Seafood is a fun place to go. Even though my kid doesn't eat fish, she will eat a hot dog and fries there, but no diaper deck. High chairs, and booster seats, but no diaper deck. Burger King doesn't have a diaper deck or booster seats. Most of the Wendy's around here are closed, but the one in Hadley does not have a diaper deck. Guess who gets our business folks? McDonald's. McDonald's wins because they are the only ones with a diaper deck. When we go out for Chinese food, our favorite Chinese place does not have a diaper deck. I either have to go to the grocery store next door, or use the floor. That's too bad because they are really nice about setting us up with beginner's chopsticks when we eat-in. Usually we just get take-out though or my husband will get delivery when he is at a friend's house on Saturday nights. Atkins Farm Stand has a diaper deck, but I'm not sure if they are really a restaurant, they are really a grocery store that happens to have a place to eat. You buy your food from the deli or the bakery and then sit down if you want. I'll add them to the good guy list anyway. I'll be adding to this list again soon, as I persuade my husband to go to restaurants we don't normally frequent just so I can do my research for this list.
As I've said in other posts, most stores, department stores anyway, do have diaper decks. Home Depot stands out for having a family restroom, as does Target. Babies R Us has a mother's room for nursing and diaper changes, some Walmarts have family restrooms, some don't. Staples at least has a diaper deck I think, but it's been a while since I've been in there so I'm not sure. BJ's has a diaper deck in the handicap stall. Etc.

dogs in Shutesbury

Had another problem with uncontrolled dogs on Friday. Abby decided that she wanted to go for a walk when we picked her up from daycare. I knew it was too far to walk all the way home, but I figured she might last 15 minutes or so. So I told my husband to take the car and come back for us, and I told him what route we'd take. So we started off down the road. We got a little way and dd started to get tired (sooner than I expected) so I started to carry her, then she wanted down again. Up, down, up, down etc. We saw another lady walking too, coming towards us. As the other lady approached a house a few feet in front of us two dogs ran out after her. Then the dogs saw us, and one of them bolted right toward dd and I. These were BIG dogs. The dogs' owner was outside, and I was yelling "GET YOUR DOG AWAY FROM MY CHILD" repeatedly. I picked up Abby and started to move away as fast as I could but the dog still caught up to us before the lady removed her animal. I was so ticked off. The other lady walking saw the whole thing and made the lady catch up to me (after she put her dogs inside) and apologize. The lady had an excuse- just got back from vacation, bringing in the suitcases, dogs got out by accident, but I really didn't care. I am so sick of people letting their dogs run free. We should be able to go for a walk and not have to worry about being chased by dogs. After the owner went home, the walking lady walked with me back to daycare. I had already called my husband before we ran into the dogs to tell him to come back and get Abby and I, but he hadn't gotten us yet. So we went back to daycare, got the book that Abby had forgotten, and waited for my husband there. I apologized to daycare because they were trying to start their weekend (they were eating dinner etc), and they were really nice. They offered us a ride home, but I knew my husband was on his way. I got the name of the dog owner, but honestly I'm not going to do anything. Maybe the other lady who was walking will. She said she keeps a log of dog attacks etc, because she goes walking every day and has to deal with it all the time. It's just so frustrating.

That night Abby had nightmares of course. So no one got much sleep. I felt so bad for her. All we wanted to do was go for a walk. That should be allowed. The dogs were big enough that they could have knocked me down, and were bigger than Abby by a long shot. The owner says they are friendly, but it doesn't matter. Big, jumping, and coming after us.. scary.

It's summer now, and we live in a neighborhood with lots of summer-only residents. Summer means increased vehicle traffic on our street, and an increase in dogs in the neighborhood. I am starting to think we won't be able to go for walks in our own neighborhood until summer is over. It's too bad we can't go for a walk in daycare's neighborhood either.

Friday, June 27, 2008


I recently reminded myself of a fun website. This is a completely unasked for plug by the way. If you have read a book, and are done with it, then this is a cool idea. Rather than leaving the book on your bookshelf to pine away, send it out into the world to be read by someone else. All you have to do is register, then register your book (entering the ISBN code is pretty much all it takes). You can leave a comment about the book if you like, and then you leave the book somewhere, and note on the website where you left it (you can be as general or specific as you want). You leave a note in the book with the website and registration number.
Then hopefully someone finds the book, goes to the website, and registers that they have the book. The idea is to keep sending the books out over and over again so that your book travels around the world. You can also use the site to find books too. If you live in a big city then this has the potential to be a lot of fun. I don't, so I haven't done much with it so far. I have released 2 books so far though. One book seems to have disappeared into the mist. The other I just released recently and I'm still waiting to see if someone finds it etc.
Happy reading!

Only 77 more days until we go to Disney!!

Yeah, I've started my countdown. Yesterday I updated my iGoogle stuff to add a Disney tab full of Disney information. I barely have time to get through the iGoogle stuff I have on there now as it is, but I added a whole new tab just for Disney.
I've got plane tickets reserved, a car rental reserved, and promises from friends of a free week at a timeshare. We haven't reserved a hotel for our first night in Orlando yet, and I haven't bought theme park tickets yet.
I've found many, many Disney websites of course. Many sites that will help you plan your trip, blogs, websites, email lists, things that are free, things that cost money etc. I did cave and spend money on one website, but it was less than $10. I'm not sure if it was worth it though. The "personalized trip planner" doesn't seem very "personalized" in my estimation, but I guess I also bought access to parts of the website that I wouldn't get if I didn't pay. I hate paying for access to websites though, so I probably won't shell out any more money. I also paid for at least 1 Disney planning book etc.
Right now my frustration is trying to figure out which parks to visit on which days, and to figure out how many days we will actually spend in the parks, and what kind of tickets to buy.
We'll be staying off-site, and we will be spending some time with my mother and my husband's mother as well. They might come with us to the parks, they might not. Neither one of them as the stamina of a 21 year old. I figure we will also hit Old Town in Kissimmee, and Downtown Disney. I think getting the Park Hopper option is a no-brainer. I know that Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios close relatively early, and we might want to go somewhere after they close. Or we might do one park in the morning, take a break (naptime), and then go to another park in the afternoon/evening. Will we go to the water parks? Should we get the "no expiration option"? I don't know! ACK! My husband is not big on amusement parks, but he is doing this trip because he knows I want to. I want to bring our daughter there, while it is still free for her to get in, and let her have a week's vacation of lots of fun. But I keep reminding myself that he is not going to be having a lot of fun, and he would probably prefer not to be in Disney parks every minute of every day. We should probably plan for some non-Disney days too, or at least some down time at Downtown Disney or the Boardwalk or something. Like I said, Old Town is on my list.
When it comes to which parks to go to on which days... We will be available to go to parks Saturday through Friday. One source I read said to go to the parks in a specific order if you have a small child. Do Magic Kingdom last so the kid won't think that the whole vacation is going to be fairyland or whatever. Epcot is kind of boring, sort of, less characters, do that early on. Plus it's big so you don't want to do Epcot and MK back-to-back. Another source I read said don't go to a park on days when Magic Extra Hours are happening (unless you are going to those extra hours) because the parks are busier on those days. Still a third source actually broke things down and said the projected crowds are expected to be busiest at each park on such-and-such a day so you should go to park A on this day, and park B on that day etc....
And then there is still the decision to make about how many days to spend at the parks total and what kind of ticket to buy. Do we get a 7 day, park-hopper, no expiration ticket? or a 5 day park hopper ticket without the expiration option? Do we get the water park option etc??
Oh my! Overload completely!!! I really don't know how to figure this stuff all out. I can't really plan this out with my husband because it's too far away in his brain still. He will start caring about this about a month before we go. Sometime in August the light will go on in his head, and he will start to care. In the meantime, he has other things to do.
Sigh. Help!!
If anyone wants to post some comments about how to figure this stuff out, I'm "all ears".

" I Survived a Japanese Game Show"

Wow, talk about a low-budget way to make a reality show... LOL! This show looks really cheezy I think. DH tivoed it Tuesday night and we watched it last night, partly with dd and partly after she went to bed. DD's favorite part was watching the contestants ride the shuttle buses. Razz

Anyway Survivor isn't on right now so I really am not watching any tv at the moment, but that was good for a laugh. I don't know if I'll watch the whole series though.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

More on the subject of public restrooms

While we are on the subject, I probably have a whole list of ways that public restrooms could be improved, and I'm not going to Google this before I start ranting this time. Maybe it has already been said, but so what?
As the parent of a toddler I really pay attention to public restrooms these days. I remember one in a Walmart in Keene, NH that had 2 toilets in the family restroom. One was kid-sized and the other was adult-sized. There was also a diaper deck in there. I don't get up to Keene very often, but I thought that was great. Way to go Walmart! I wish more public restrooms had that. I don't remember much about the sink though or the hand dryer/paper towel situation.
Seriously an ideal public restroom would have more than one handicap stall or a family restroom in addition to the handicap stall. I hate using the handicap stall and coming out to find some poor old lady waiting impatiently to use it to change her Depends. I always feel so guilty, and yet often that is where the diaper deck is. If you don't have a family restroom, then putting the diaper deck in the handicap stall is good. I like the extra space in there. I wish there was a trash can within easy reach of the diaper deck more often too. The other good thing about having the handicap stall is that a kid can hang onto the railing next to the toilet for support.
Home Dept rocks. They have a separate family bathroom which I really wouldn't expect in a store like that.
Another tip that establishments should follow is not to put the diaper deck "in traffic". So often the diaper deck is near the entrance or near the sinks and if someone is using it then other people can't get past the mother and baby to get in/out or to get to the stalls.
Easier to reach soap would be a bonus for most places. I generally find that the more handicapped accessible the bathroom is, the more kid-friendly the bathroom is because kids need a lot of the same features that someone in a wheelchair needs- lower and easier to get to, and more space.
The most ideal restrooms would be like the Keene, NH one- 2 toilets, a diaper deck, and a sink that the kid could get to. I would like paper towels instead of the air hand dryers because they work better and little kids are sometimes scared of loud noises. Plus the kid can do it themselves. Hand the kid a paper towel, let him/her dry hands and put towel in wastebasket. The hot air dryers usually need some kind of parental assistance.
I'm sure I'm going to have to come back and edit this post later on, but at least it's started.

Paper towels vs hot air hand dryers

I know other blogs have already covered this. I found 3 very quickly when I did a Google search. However, I am going to give this a shot anyway. Glen Whitman says it very well on his blog. Machine operated hand dryers do not do a good job of drying your hands, they aren't hygienic, and they don't save the environment. They are easier for establishments to maintain though because they don't need to be restocked and they don't generate more trash so they require less staffing of the bathrooms. It's an old topic. Another blog, "The Volokh Conspiracy" also references Glen's rant and adds a few more lines on the topic. Another blog touches on the subject but only to say that the air dryers are more efficient than paper towels.

None of those though mention a problem I've encountered with the machines. Those loud hot air things scare my 2 year old. We have had to leave several public restrooms with wet hands because she was scared of the noise that these things make. We are over that phase now thankfully, and have started to actually use the machines but they don't dry your hands (as Glen Whitman pointed out) so my dear daughter still ends up wiping her hands on her clothes or on mine. It is annoying enough to deal with restrooms with no diaper decks or a place to put your purse, but to have to deal with a kid with slippery wet hands is really a hassle too.

Monday, June 23, 2008

mini book report - "Been there, done that"

This is a good beach read, or fun summertime book. It's about a 30-something year old woman reporter who goes undercover as a college freshman in Western Massachusetts for 7 weeks. She falls for her R.A. while she is trying to get her story. Not the type of book I normally go for, but it was predictable, and happy. An easy read.

Since I live in Western Massachusetts, I was trying to figure out where the story was supposed to be taking place, and that kind of distracted me a bit. It's not Amherst, it's not Williams. It has to be about an hour west of Boston, further out than Framingham, and somewhat Ivy-league but not as great as Harvard or Amherst etc. In the story it's Mercer College, but the real Mercer is in Georgia I think. So I'm not sure what town and school this was supposed to be. Maybe nowhere, it is fiction after all.

Oh, and there is more than one reference to the "Wiggles", as well as Clay Aiken, and some other music. The Wiggles references really cracked me up though. You can tell I'm a toddler mom.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Things I'm working on right now

I'm going to add some more sections to the blog today (hopefully). Work is about as slow as it gets during the next couple of weeks so this should be a good time to do some projects.

First of all I'm going to add a list of cool blogs to check out. I don't know if I'll be savvy enough to figure out how to add links to those blogs, but I'll at least put them in a list. So if you have a blog, or if there is a blog that you like to read that you think would fit in well here, then let me know (leave a comment). I'll check it out, and add it to the list if I like it.

Second I am going to start a list of things I'm currently researching and working on- trips I'm planning, work that needs to be done around the house, books I'm trying to read, etc.

Hopefully these two things will add some traffic and spur some conversation on here. Too often I feel like I'm writing to myself, and this is more of a diary than anything else. Which is fine, but not really what I was hoping for.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I can't resist this from Overheard in the Office

9AM Mexico: Hey, We Warned You!

CSR, on speakerphone: And where would you like this order shipped?
Secretary: 123 Main St.*, Los Alamos, New Mexico.
CSR : We don't ship out of the country.
Secretary: That's fine, but this address is in the country.
CSR : No, you said to ship it to New Mexico.
Secretary: Yes, New Mexico is a state in the US.
CSR : Sorry, but we can't ship out of the US.
Secretary: Do you have a supervisor I can talk to, please?
[Long pause.]
CSR supervisor: This is Tim. Can I help you?
Secretary: I hope so, Tim. Your employee doesn't seem to understand that New Mexico is a state in the United States, and so refuses to ship me your product.
Supervisor: Well, that's true. We can't ship out of the country. I'm sorry ma'am.
Secretary, raising her voice a little: Have you never even heard of the state of New Mexico? It's one of the big, square ones? It's right between Texas and Arizona? It's one of the 50 United States?
Supervisor: I'm sorry, it's just our policy not to ship out of the US.
Secretary: Tim, let me get this straight. Your company is going to lose a $14,000 order because the people in your customer service department are too moronic to know or comprehend that the state of New Mexico is a part of the United States?
Supervisor: Yes, ma'am. That's our policy.
Secretary, completely exasperated: Well, I guess there's nothing more to be said, is there?
Supervisor: No, ma'am. Have a nice day.

Los Alamos, New Mexico

Overheard by: New Mexican

via Overheard in the Office, Jun 16, 2008

She used chopsticks AND she spelled her name!

Father's Day weekend was busy and exciting.

During lunch on Saturday, I heard my daughter say "A-B-B-Y" and I was stunned. Unfortunately I couldn't get her to repeat it.

Then during dinner at a Chinese restaurant with my father Abby used beginner's chopsticks. My husband said she handled them better than I do. Way to go Abby!!!

mini book report- "Stress-Free Potty Training"

I read "Stress-Free Potty Training" by Sara Au and Peter L. Stavinoha, Ph.D. over the weekend. The cover says "Match the toilet training to your child's unique personality and temperament!" and it also says "A Commonsense guide to finding the right approach for your child".

Since we've been potty training for several months already I wasn't even sure if it would be worthwhile to read this book, but I skimmed it anyway. It would be great for a beginner though.

There is a 5-part quiz that you take to determine which personality type your child has. My child scored high in 3 of the 5 parts, and that was kind of discouraging. However, following the quiz is a summary of the 5 personalities and I was able to determine from those descriptions which one fit my child best. I read some of the "universal" information about remaining calm about accidents and "nakedtime" etc. Some of the suggested dialog was pretty silly. I don't think a 2 year old is on the level that these authors are expecting in terms of language skills. One helpful thing was a chart that listed several different potty-related skills/achievements and the average age girls and boys reach them (different for each gender). My little girl is more advanced than I thought she was. Since we have been potty training for so long I skipped most of the personality chapters and just read the one that pertained to my kid... strong willed child. If we were just starting out, this probably would be helpful, but since we aren't, the information just fell into the "commonsense" category. It was a reassuring book to read though. It let me know that we are doing things the way they should be done, and my goals have been realistic.

If you have already started potty-training then you could read this book in your local library or bookstore. If you are just beginning or haven't begun yet, it would probably be worth buying.

Friday, June 13, 2008

update on my mother

Mom had her angioplasty. Took her longer to recover than she expected, and it was rougher than the other ones. It was her 3rd surgery since October 2006, including her gall bladder surgery last November. Her housing thing has been continued, but she thinks she is going to beat it. She was told to make preparations to move into her new apartment as scheduled for July 1st.

So today is Friday the 13th

I'm not really superstitious but I'll use any reason to be "good to myself". So today I made time to feed the ducks and I treated myself to a chocolate frosted donut that I'd been craving for a few days. I also won $7 at work. Yippee!!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

mini book report- "Who do you think you are"

I just read "Who do you think you are?" by Alyse Myers.

I'm still not sure why I read it. It's a memoir about Alyse and her mother mostly. It begins and ends with her mother's funeral and the story is of Alyse's life in between. There are lots of memoirs out there, and this one has been called a love story. I suppose it is. The book gets good reviews, and if you like to read about mother-daughter relationships etc, this book might interest you.

At the back of the book Alyse gives credit to her Tuesday night memoir writing group.

Ah, you know... there are so many memoir writers out there. So many people think that they have a story worth telling, that they should write a book, etc... and so many people try. And yet so few actually get published.

I think if I saw this book in a bookstore I probably wouldn't spend money on it, but since it was in the library and I could read it for free, I did. And I'm still not sure why I bothered. It only took a couple of days to read though.

Everyone has a story. I have a few of my own. I like to write. Will I ever write my book? Will I ever tell my mother's story (I KNOW she won't get around to writing her own story)? I don't know. I'd like to, but then I think Why bother? Who would read it? And then I see "Who do you think you are?" and I think "If she can do it, so can I". Hmm...

or not.

I love my dad!

My dad is so kooky. He found an old classmate online and he has been emailing her. Recently they started seeing each other in person occasionally too. He always looks forward to her emails and gets so excited when he gets one. It really brightens him up. So today in chat he says to me "XXXX says she thinks she likes me...."

Yeah dad, I think she does too. Otherwise she wouldn't stay in touch with you.


Monday, June 9, 2008

Drama with my momma continues

Talked to my mother last week. She is trying to avoid being evicted from her apartment. She might lose her section 8 housing because of the felony charges that she was charged with a couple of years ago. She wasn't convicted of the charges though, even though she plead guilty. She was supposed to have a hearing last week, but she got a lawyer and then the housing people got a lawyer and now the hearing is postponed until ???

In the meantime she is scheduled for her 2nd or 3rd angioplasty and shunting procedure for this week. It will happen Tuesday or Wednesday I think, if it goes according to plan.

Then, depending on how she makes out with her Section 8 hearing, she will either be moving to another section 8 apartment at the end of the month, or she will be trying to find some other form of affordable housing. In either case, she'll be moving at the end of the month. Good thing I guess. I think she has worn out her welcome at the place she is now. She seems to do that every couple of years.