Got a rental car this weekend ... had to go on an expedition to get it, since none of the downtown Enterprises are honoring their $9.95/day weekend special. So, Friday morning I did my now-typical drop offs of Daughter #1 at her school just before 9, and then grabbing the #22 with Daughter #2 and running up to her daycare. Now, usually, I'd go grab an extra large coffee at Dunkin Donuts at North & LaSalle and then get the bus back here, but instead I grabbed the North Ave. bus over to Milwaukee and then took the Milwaukee bus up to the Enterprise (I could have walked, it was only about six blocks up from North, but I was not sure from the maps). Friday was pretty much wiped out between this junket and Daughter #1 having only a half day of school ... so I got back down here, found a parking spot, puttered about the computer for a bit, then picked up Daughter #1 at noon. She didn't want to do anything in particualr, so we pumped more quarters into the meter and hung out for a while. I'd promised Daughter #2 that we'd pick her up at the end or her nap, so we grabbed the car and ran up there by 3:00 ... giving us plenty of time before having to pick up The Wife from work.
The main reason for having the car was that we were doing Daughter #2's birthday party on Saturday. To kill time, I dragged the girls up to both big Party stores in the shopping thing over by Fullerton and the river. We really didn't have to pick up anything, but it was "thematic" time killing. We did get valentines for them to give their classes, and some deeply discounted stuffed animals, so the shopping trips were not a total waste from their perspectives.
The Wife and I had been dreading Saturday for weeks ... Daughter #2 (who is turning 4 on Wednesday) had insisted that she wanted to have her birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese, and we had dutifully set this up. Last weekend I took her off to another kid's party (at a kiddy gym place) and did a head count ... 20+ three-to-four-year-olds looks like a munchkin army, and I was worried at how bad it was going to be once they were unleashed on Casa de Raton! One thing that I opted to do was do name tags. Back at the P.R. firm (in the dark pre-PC days) we made good use of the copying machine and 10-up mailing labels for name tags, so I whipped up some cute borders and ran five sheets through the inkjet. This would not only help me "remember" who was who, but it would also provide a bit of a head count.
I was a bit peeved at Chuck E. Cheese not being as "chop, chop" as I had hoped, but they were trying to keep the costs down (i.e., I had garunteed for 21 ... but they just wanted to set for 10 initially), but it was mighty slow getting stuff up and we were a bit slow on pizza and soda, etc. I had one big "combo" pizza for the adults and some chicken wings, but I could have had a bit more of that stuff too ... oh, well. For the most part, the kids just "disappeared" into the game area, and only a few were being "token hogs", since most were just as happy playing in the tunnels, etc. Everybody seemed to have a good time, and Daughter #2 seemed to be very pleased with herself. She also made out like a bandit ... this is the biggest b-day party we've ever done, and it's quite a sight seeing her coming home with 20-some gifts! This, of course, was the main reason for renting the car ... it would not have been fun trying to get all that back home via bus & el (or even a cab)!
The party went from 11:00 - 12:30, and we were out of there (handing out the last of our "official" Chuck E. Cheese goodie bags) by a bit after 1:00 ... which gave us just enough time to run Daughter #1 up to Dojo. We were making a point of getting there because she was up for promotion (to the Orange belt), but her regular teacher wasn't there (his dad had a heart attack the night before, so he had an excuse), and the fill-in wasn't promoting anybody. #1 was all in tears about not getting promoted (since promotions are only on the first 7 days of the month), but there is an outside chance that she might get it next week due to the instructor not being able to be there.
Anyway, The Wife and Daughter #2 kept the car and went off shopping & lunching while we were at Dojo, and swung by to pick us up after class. One of the other "weekend projects" was getting Dusty Rose's claws clipped ... Nikki, our previous cat, had been de-clawed, and The Wife didn't think she wanted to do that again ... I'd dropped by PetCo after getting The Girls on Friday and found that they did that ... but they didn't mention that they didn't "do cats" on the weekend. So, after Dojo, we ran back home, dropped Daughter #2's presents and Daughter #1's dojo stuff, and got the cat into her little travel bag. We first ran up to PetCo, but found they weren't cooperating, and then decided to run up to PetSmart to see if they could clip her nails. They could, and did, and we did some shopping (got a new litter box, etc.), and headed back downtown. Now, The Wife usually does our grocery shopping on Saturday mornings, but as we were otherwise occupied then, she wanted to do that with the car. So, I ended up dropping The Wife and The Girls at Jewel, and then taking Dusty and the pet store purchases home. Dusty was VERY glad to be back inside, so I left her to calm down and drove back up to the grocery store. By the time I got there they were 90% done, so we finished up, I took The Girls out to the car, and waited for The Wife to finish checking out. Once we got the groceries loaded, we headed home and everybody but me got to settle in.
By this point it was 7:00 on a Saturday night, which means that I was looking at either finding a parking spot a mile and a half from my house, or an eternity of going around various blocks. I eventually lucked out on a spot right around the corner from us, but it did take me a half hour to fourtyfive minutes of driving to find that.
This morning The Wife grabbed the car keys and disappeared for six hours. I had been planning on going over to my Mom's place to get more packing done today, but being stuck here with The Girls did not let that happen. The Wife had to get some of Daughter #2's birthday gifts, and had found no time in the previous weeks to get to a Toys R Us (it is really awful that there are no toy stores downtown anymore, so we pretty much need to have a car to get to one). She eventually re-appeared around 5 with a bunch of bags. Now, one thing that I did want to get done with the car was moving my Mom's big TV over here. It was one of those things that we decided we might as well keep (we had planned on replacing our bedroom set with one like it this year), and the car, while small (a Toyota Echo), was just big enough that I could get the TV into the back seat ... a much preferable "moving option" than my trying to strap it onto a cart and walking it over here! So, we got The Girls dressed, got that taken care of, and I managed to actually find a parking space on my first time around the block!
While I was out parking the car there was some little added chaos around here. Daughter #2 managed to get "Tookie", our white/blue parakeet out of the cage somehow, and the bird had flown into the windows in the corner of the living room, fluttering down to the floor behind the big reading chair. This drew the immediate interest of Dusty Rose, who was right on top of her when Daugther #1 pulled the cat away. I guess Tookie should be very happy for that nail-clipping appointment, as I'm pretty much sure that she'd have been a goner had Dusty still had razor-sharp claws! The Wife somehow got Tookie isolated in the front bathroom, and I had to rescue her (I seem to be the only one who can "catch" the birds when they're out) once I got back in. As far as I can tell, she's no worse for wear ... although the cat seems to be deeply disappointed.
One more trauma for the evening ... we discovered that Daughter #2 was missing her "blankie", and it was determined that she probably left it over at my Mom's place when we were there to get the TV. So, just about halftime of the Pro Bowl (hey, what a great game for a change ... usually those things are snoozers, but this one was a gas!), #2 and I got bundled up and went back down the street to Mom's apartment. The blanket was sitting on the floor in the living room, where #2 had dropped it (how many times do we have to say "leave that at home!"?) so we retreived it and headed back. I got teary on the way back, as this was something that would have typically involved my Mom calling about them having found the blanket, etc., etc., etc. ... and it felt so empty not having my Mom there to care that her granddaughter had her blankie. Sigh. Tomorrow will be four weeks since she died. I'm still a blubbering fool trying to deal with all this.