Thursday, July 16, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods. . .

. . . to grandmother's house we go. My grandmother lives in Schaumburg, so I'm sure we crossed at least 1 river and passed by a few forest preserves. Nick and I decided to go and visit her yesterday, because I hadn't seen her in awhile and I was sure she could use some snuggle time with Nick. She just had sinus surgery a few weeks ago, and hasn't been feeling well. Holding a laughing baby is a wonderful cure for that, as you can see. Nick was really excited to see his great-grandma, and let her hold him right away.

My grandma made us lunch and then cherry ice cream for dessert. She asked if Nick could have some, and he immediately made a chirping noise, as if he'd heard and he wanted some. It is so much fun to introduce Nicholas to new foods. I fed him a tiny bite, and my grandma asked him, "Do you like that?" Nick answered by immediately opening his mouth very wide. I bet the cold felt great on his sore gums. While savoring each bite, he said, "mmmmmm." Just like his daddy.

Here you can see Nick fascinated by the ceiling fan. Grandma turned on the light (and the fan with it) to brighten the room so we could take a picture of his happy, ice-cream-covered face. But as soon as he saw that fan, he was riveted. There's something about ceiling fans that hypnotize a baby. Even if there's still ice cream in the vicinity, he has to stop what he's doing and stare in wonder at the joys of the whirling fan. I wish there was one in his bedroom.

Now, in spite of her not feeling well, my grandma was all about going shopping. In my family, shopping is a competitive sport. I can remember as a little girl listening to my grandmother haggle (politely, of course) with cashiers over how many coupons she could use, mismarked shelves, and competitor prices. When I was about seven, I heard a rumor (partially true, I believe) about her getting into a fight with another lady over the last cabbage patch doll. The doll was for my birthday. I have a really good grandma with a competitive spirit.

There's also the fun tradition in my family of showing off what you bought and how much you paid for it. After a shopping trip, one of the best parts is spreading out your purchases and explaining how you managed to get it all for the best price. My most triumphant moment was last year, when I used a combination of an incorrect price tag, a 10% gift registry coupon, and an expired 20% off one item coupon to get a fancy espresso machine for under $100. Greg does not understand or appreciate this tradition, and he rolls his eyes at me when I come back from the store with tales of triumph.

So, anyway, my grandma always has a game plan. We set goals for what I needed to buy (baby clothes, soup ladle, baby pool) and then decided where we'd get the best deals. She suggested Kohl's and Babies 'R Us. First, we hunted for coupons. Babies 'R Us didn't have a coupon deal going, but they do honor coupons from Buy Buy Baby, and my grandma had two of those. A $5 off a $15 clothing purchase coupon and a 20% off one item coupon. Immediately when we walked in the store, my grandma found the lady in the gift registry and made sure they would take our competitor coupons. Then the hunt began. . .

Shopping with my grandmother is never a rushed affair. She knew I needed to get some fall clothes for Nicholas in the 18 month size, and she was on a mission. We scoured the clearance racks for special deals, while Nick slept happily in his stroller. Very quickly, I had a stack of baby clothes to choose from. My grandma has this habit of getting distracted and suddenly disappearing while shopping, only to show up having found a great deal. (Actually, I do the same thing. Must be hereditary. Or ADD.) She spotted a "Buy one Get one 1/2 off" sale on Carter's clothes, so off we rushed to find two cute outfits.

Then we delved into the toy department, searching desperately for a baby pool for Nick. I was ready to give up, but my grandma emerged triumphant. "Here it is! This one is perfect." Then the register battle began. We were told that you could only use one coupon per customer, so we divided the purchases between us. My grandma made sure that a customer loyalty card was swiped for each purchase, and I ended up with some great deals. Here's what we got for under $50. Probably the best deals were the pool ($29.99, but I got it for $19.98) and the clearance priced "Bananas over Mommy" outfit (originally $17, I got it for $4). Yes, I do take after my grandma. :) Then it was off to Kohl's. We milked the $15% off coupons for all they were worth, only buying items that were at least 50% off. My grandma convinced them to re-ring the onesies so that we saved an extra 10%. My favorite item, by far, is the little onesie that says "little stinker" with the picture of the skunk. The onesies ended up at $4 each, and the pants at $5 each. Not too bad, considering how quickly Nick grows out of outfits. I was shocked when he had to start wearing 12 month clothes before he was even 7 months old. Hopefully this growth rate won't continue, or I will have a giant by the time he's a teenager!
Besides our sucessful shopping excursion, we went to Lou Malnati's for dinner. My grandma loves to go out to eat, but since my grandfather passed away (in 2007), she often doesn't have anyone to go with. I think she enjoyed watching Nick, who also loves going out to eat because he can throw everything from the table onto the floor. He was a pretty good customer, except for the occasional baby shrieks. Lately, at quiet moments, Nick likes to scream at the top of his little lungs. Then he giggles. There's usually nothing wrong, he's just trying out his voice. I always get a little embarrassed when Nick lets out those bloodcurdling screams in public, but the people sitting around us in the restaurant seemed to think it was pretty funny.

I believe this was Nick's first experience of the joys of pizza, and he sure seemed to like it. Here he is grabbing a tiny pieces from my hand. Lou Malnati's has a great thin crust veggie pizza that was just divine. Nick doesn't really understand yet about warm foods. I've always been of the opinion that if you warm a baby's bottle, they'll always expect it warm. Ditto for baby food. So Nick's food has always been either cold from the refrigerator or room temperature. It's not that he doesn't like warm foods, he's just confused when his food is warm. He is getting used to it, though, and enjoyed several bites of pizza.

When we left the restaurant, we had to pick up everything Nick dropped on the floor. Throughout our meal, he managed to drop three toys, the jar of parmesan, the menu, two napkins, and his baby cookie. He also upended the salt, smeared oatmeal plum baby food on the table, and ate several bites of napkin. I had to pry some packets of Sweet 'N Low out of his hands before he ate them. Here he is all covered with cookie, pizza, and baby food remnants, right before we left. Note the empty table top. That's because everything was ON THE FLOOR.

I'll have to get out to see my grandma again before my summer is over; we had a really good time. Before I left, she snuggled Nick and he fell asleep in her arms. I think that's her favorite part of him visiting.

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