Friday, February 8, 2013

Quick Jaunt to The Cheese State

These business travel bits are getting a bit more challenging with a crawling monster on my hands, but I do love to get away. It might be the winter that makes it all the more challenging, but we bundled up and pressed on, heading to Wisconsin's capital city of Madison. I think it's funny that we're closer to Wisconsin's capital than we are to Illinois' capital. Anyway... we headed north 2.5 hours for a short trip, which meant waking up at 4:45 a.m. to make it in time for the husband's early meeting. B was confused, but managed to sleep in the car and napped like a champ both days. A few snippets of our adventure, along with things I've learned while traveling to Madison with an almost 1-year old.

Three-wheeled strollers are not all-terrain. They do not handle thick slushy snow well.
Oh man. I was totally pushing through what felt like quicksand up a hill. A wonderful university student came to my aid, but I managed to {wo}man up and make it happen.

Target is a great place to go early in the morning when you can't yet check into your hotel room.
Not like I needed another reason to visit a Target, but I definitely walked the aisles and loaded up on lemonade, mac 'n' cheese, a new hat for B (since the 5+ he already has aren't enough), and signed up for a Target RedCard Debit. Why hadn't I done that before? Random tidbit for you Target lovers... did you know you get $.05 off your total for each reusable bag you use? And with the Target RedCard, you get 5% off all purchases and it's not a credit card-- just comes directly out of your debit account.

Target almost always has a Starbucks inside, which is also a great place to feed a kiddo breakfast.
Hello empty seating, warm oatmeal (and anything else I want to feed him available in the store!), and warm beverages! And, they even have cart wipes that you can double as disinfecting wipes for high chairs and tables fo' free!

Oversized dressing rooms are the bomb-dot-com with a crawling baby. The space under the door where they can crawl out? Not so bomb.
I heart Anthropologie, the two dresses I bought from there, the customer service, free shipping if ordered in store (for things they carry online but are out of in-store), and now their dressing rooms. Going to a wedding in Dallas next weekend and Mama needed a new dress (or two).
Didn't buy that dress (afraid the $120 gold pieces would fray easily), but bought this one & this one & wanted this one, but they were sold out in my size in the entire Midwest. I checked.
Thrift stores in hippie neighborhoods are the best.
I'm not talking Goodwill, though I've found a few scores there myself. I'm talking those little joints that only sell high-end clothes and are really picky about their merchandise. I scored a designer belt for only $2.50. Later I realized it was lacking a tiny metal stud that I think a trip to Michael's will fix. There is a reason it was so cheap. I just love exploring those little gems.

You can order a side of meatballs (or any protein) on the cheap to feed your bambino at Noodles & Co.
It's getting to the point where he's not quite ready for a kid's meal order, but eats a bit too much for us to share with him. Sort of depends on the meal. I'm also a spicy-food lover, and I don't like compromising my fave flavors because the nugget can't handle the heat. Or peanuts. Because my fave dish at Noodles is the Indonesian Peanut Saute... and we haven't quite graduated to peanut status yet. For about $2.50ish, you can get 5 meatballs, which is perfect for the little person.

Even though he wasn't ready for a kid's meal, he got one anyway at Panera Bread. 
His first ever kid's meal was a ham & cheese sandwich with a squeezable organic yogurt that he sucked down at a rapid pace. He ate about 3/4 of the sandwich. The tank is still at it.

Nepalese food is indeed delicious.
The 'burbs of Chicago lack interesting food. I've stopped counting how many brewpubs there are here. Not that I dislike brewpubs, but you have to sell food that's off the beaten path in order for me to differentiate you from Burger King. Most do not. Madison is a large university town that's lively with lots of young people who also have hippie tendencies. Hippies are often vegetarian. I am vegetarian and a little hippie. Therefore, I like big, hippie, granola, liberal, university towns. We ate at a place that gets fab reviews on Yelp, but I was only slightly disappointed at the entree portions. I'm sort of a fat kid when it comes to food and while I'd love to subscribe to the whole ideal of eat until you're content, I just can't. I'll be starving 3 hours later because vegetarian fare is just not as filling. B seemed to enjoy the grub as well. I think he's partial to hippies.

Hotels that favor business guests tend to have pools that no one swims in during the day.
A win for us! Both times we enjoyed the pool, we had it all to ourselves. Which is super for the mom who packed her triangle top bikini that fit really well in college and before she started breastfeeding. Looks like my go-to J.Crew triangle top might be retired soon. Either that, or someone else will need to hold the kid who yanks and tugs at it while in the pool.

Trying to both complete the Shred in a hotel room and with a baby who is awake is close to impossible.
Definitely not the best workout of the 30 days as B couldn't understand why we didn't want him crawling all over us during our ab exercises. He wanted in on the action, obviously. He was probably thinking... man. My mom feeds me butter and high-fat everything. I really have to sign myself up for a Shred soon. Day 28 today. A full recap of the craziness to come in a week or so.

It's getting harder and harder to sleep in the same room as the B-man at night. 
He is a mover all. night. long. I am an incredibly light sleeper and woke up to every twist and turn he made, despite him being in the far corner of the room and having an iPhone noise app to try and drown out the sound. He even cried out briefly a couple times, which I am certain he does in his own room at night, but the walls separating us prevent me from being alarmed when he's merely dreaming or waking startled before falling back to sleep. I cherish, love, adore, admire, covet suites or extra large bathrooms for the pack 'n' play.

When you have to check out of a hotel before the husband is done with meetings, libraries are a fun, free, and educational place to go, especially when it's snowing heavily outside.
Usually, I attempt to find an indoor mall to walk around when it's either too hot or too cold and we have no where else to go. The mall, unfortunately, was about 8 miles away. Sixteen miles round-trip in the sloshy, slippery snow in a town I'm unfamiliar with? No thanks. We grabbed lunch after late checkout and headed to the library to read suck on books and explore their sensory and educational zone geared entirely to young people. Better than the mall where he'd be stuck in the stroller. I'm the genius mom who forgot diapers and wipes in the car... only to of course need said diapers and wipes and have to schlep the kid in the sloshy snow multiple times to remedy the situation. While at the library, we met another mom who had her 13-month old daughter with her and was actually there killing time while her other daughter (2 years old, of course) was in preschool. We chatted a bunch and I was quite fond of her Patagonia and North-Face wearing self and almost wanted to drive 2.5 hours to hang out with her, you know... while her 2-year old was in school, obvi. Except, no. That's silly. Of course I meet people I like in other states.
Another adventure down. Next weekend stop, Dallas! Plans are in the works and we're pretty sure we'll get to meet a pretty fabuloso BLM, her husband and big boy, Finn! Can't wait!


LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

I can not believe you have a nearly one year old. Like for real! And Benjamin is looking so darn grown in these pictures.

lol and your triangle bikini top- I hadn't even thought of the risk-factor!

And a sandwich AND meatballs? For real? :O

Melissa said... [Reply to comment]

First of all, love that you are going to meet Caroline! Only one of the bestest BLM's. I adore her writing.

You completely inspire me to be more fearless in my travels with Lillian. Matt travels for work and I can easily go with him using a tonne of your tips! Thank you!

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

So glad you got the Target Red Card. Just wait until it tells you your savings at the end of the year and you get so proud and realized it means you spend a small fortune to get there. Meh.

Can't wait for next weekend! I need to email you back.

Also, you should have gotten the dress in the pic because you're rocking it.

Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

No, take that back - love the two you got. Super cute.

Alison G. said... [Reply to comment]

So I'm guessing you must be having success with the shred if you even attempted to wear THAT bathing suit! I know this triangle top. I was instantly transported back to The Sportcenter jacuzzi and Hermosa beaches. Thanks for the throwback! Haha

Brie said... [Reply to comment]

Love this post! Everything about it. The travel tips. The hotel woes...and The fact that you are on day 28 of the shred and almost done!

Shell said... [Reply to comment]

If you have any spare time get to Grapevine in TX. Great little town and loved it. I never got a blog up about it but I was there last fall. :)

Brooke said... [Reply to comment]

I LOVE the dress you're wearing in the picture and I love the dress you bought.
I am soooooooo jealous of you meeting Caroline. Like I'm ready to book a ticket to Dallas and get in on that action.

Natasha said... [Reply to comment]

Love my Target Debit Card! It's so awesome! And how fabulous do you look in that dress!!! Although the 2 you got are very cute as well.

I wish I could make it to Dallas next week (I don't know why I thought it was this weekend :/ Clearly mommy brain) to hang with you guys! I'm like Brooke now- maybe I need to take a day off and make the trip!!!

Jenny said... [Reply to comment]

Yay! Sounds like quite an adventure. Good call on the library ;-) Tell me you sampled more scrumptious State Street food while there? And UW-Madison student union ice cream?