Monday, May 4, 2009

How to Make Buffalo Wings: First off, Buffalo Wings Should be Wet

Darah is sitting in her orange vinyl toddler chair, watching "Clifford" on PBS. I need to feed her breakfast this morning, since Sandy left for work early, but I am putting it off for a few more minutes. The back of Darah's head is very adorable. She looks back at me every so often. Maybe she is checking to see if I am still here or just to see what I am doing. She does that a lot. I probably reinforce it though. By smiling and saying, "give me a kiss." She is now singing a song, "da da da da da da da." She likes to say and sing "da" and "daddy." We like to joke that she calls every man "daddy."

Sandy, Darah and I went to Chicago this weekend - by train - to Sandy's MPA conference. The three and a half hour train ride was pretty long for Darah because she cannot roam around and has a limited number of activities available to occupy her attention. She really wanted to do her favorite thing - to empty out my wallet and throw my credit cards around (she collects and distributes them whenever she has the chance), but she couldn't do that on the train. I think my wallet was her favorite "toy" on the trip. She likes to make messes with her toys, to spread them out all over. But not on the train. So Sandy and I had the task of entertaining her by singing and reading books over and over. It went pretty well, considering what could have happened. Our friends and Sandy's colleagues were sitting in front of us on the train ride to Chicago, so they had the joy of holding Darah for at least a half hour. Darah had a great time; she likes new people. We passed supplies over the seat, but they seemed to do just fine with her (and they had a cool cell phone that she was very interested in).

Our stay at the Palmer House Hilton was very nice. The bed was luxurious. I spent a lot of time in it. We all did. Darah wanted to be on the bed with us at almost all times. She likes to jump around and test the boundaries. She would crawl quickly to the edge of the bed and then look back at us, smiling, as we warned her to "come back here right now or we will put you down on the floor." It was nice to be surrounded by down pillows - at least six of them. I wish I could transport the fluffy bed and smooth linens into our bedroom. Our bed is fine for me, but my uncomfortable pregnant body finds some comfort in the Palmer House bedding. Darah ate a lot of bananas during the trip. She managed to eat small amounts of food at restaurants, but not as much as I would have liked. She did well for one or two meals out a day, but usually the third meal out was difficult. We had some trouble with her at the Miller Pub, when she was cranky and didn't want to sit in the high chair. She smacked her cheekbone (just under her eye) on the table and cried for a while. That was after she was throwing every item we gave her onto the floor. The place was cramped and we were in the way of servers. It was pretty unpleasant. But Sandy really enjoyed the cold beer (Blue Moon, was it?) and I enjoyed the piece key lime pie that I ate in bed at the hotel later that night.

We took Darah to the Navy Pier on Thursday afternoon. We just caught the end of a children's concert (Darah got to sway to the last song by Jeanne and the Jellybeans or something like that?). She had a great time at the Children's Museum. Hands down, her favorite activity was playing in the water. But she also enjoyed running around other stations and throwing pieces of shredded rubber into the air at the Dinosaur Digging Exhibit. On our way out, we ran into a character, Maya, who was dancing to music with some kids. Or trying to. It is amazing how self-conscious kids can be about dancing. I don't know at what age that self-consciousness kicks in, exactly, but it seems to kick in early. I know I was highly self-conscious as a child. I don't know why. I will be so sad if there comes a time when Darah's self-consciousness interferes with her ability to do something she enjoys - like dancing. Darah danced with (or in front of) Maya. She swayed and bounced. She is a great dancer. The people running the show all thought she was a boy. "See, he knows how to dance!" Well, she (or he) DOES know how to dance. S/he's a natural! It's amazing how an orange tee-shirt with tiny monkeys on it and gray sneakers can confuse people so easily. Well, Darah didn't care. She just wanted to dance. The character, Maya, was played by a person who did not have much charisma or rhythm. The body inside the costume looked very masculine, and we think we noticed a bulge in the pubic region. I really wonder who was under there.

The other fun activity for Darah that we did while we were in Chicago was swimming at the hotel. She loved it. When I was taking classes at the YMCA with her, she kicked her legs and was a lot more adventurous (she was younger and her brain was smaller). She did a lot of splashing water in my face with her arms, but did not kick her legs this time. I sat her on the edge of the pool and had her "jump" in (lean forward as I helped her into the water). She liked that, and would repeat after me before leaning forward and making a scrunched up face. "Ready?" I said. "Ready?" she replied, as she froze in the forward-leaning position. Darah became a bit constipated over the trip (maybe it was the bananas), but yesterday (Sunday) she recovered. She made four large deposits into her diapers yesterday, to our surprise!

Oh, and I must mention the "buffalo wings" that my poor Sandy ordered. We tried to eat at the Lockwood restaurant in the Palmer House on Friday night, but I was feeling sick and the menu did not appeal to me. On top of that, it was an upscale restaurant and Darah started screaming at the top of her lungs shortly after we sat down. But before we left the restaurant, we overheard a man behind us raving about his dinner. He said to the waiter in a very sassy and confident voice, "I lived in Buffalo for four years, and these buffalo wings are far better than any I ever had there. And I don't have messy hands!" I should have taken it as a warning rather than encouragement. His snotty tone should have been the warning. And then, if I missed that, I should have been warned by the fact that he wasn't a native of Buffalo. Most people have bad taste in food, anyway. They settle for less. Or maybe it is me - I have the bad taste. Either way, I am finicky about food and very difficult to feed.

Well, we ordered room service (served from the restaurant we decided not to stay at). What a mistake. It was gross. I ordered an individual deep dish pizza (simple, I thought...impossible to mess up) and Sandy ordered Buffalo wings (hey, wings even sounded good to me...how do you mess up Buffalo wings? They are so simple). Well, the Lockwood messed them up. They were the worst wings Sandy has ever had in her life. She felt sick while she was eating and after she finished (even the next morning). They were dry. They were breaded chicken wings. Buffalo wings are not breaded. I think it's a Midwestern Mishap - the breading of wings. The breading had spicy seasoning in it (the seasoning was supposed to emulate the traditional Buffalo wing sauce). But they were dry. They were served with a dish of creamy blue cheese and a couple of sticks of celery. I would have loved to have celery dipped in wing sauce and blue cheese dressing, but there wasn't any wing sauce. It was a great disappointment. I did not like my deep dish pizza, either. I almost gagged when I took my first bite - but that may have been because pizza doesn't sit well with my nausea. That was probably the low point of our trip.

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