Software training and virtual dog walking!

Our dog Dale… brought to you by Wag – haha!

In May I was able to take advantage of another wonderful research training opportunity, which involved a quick trip to Boston, MA.  Shortly after returning from Digestive Disease Week I was on a plane to Boston to take a short course on the software package I use for my decision analysis and cost-effectiveness analysis research.  It’s always a bit hard to travel when you have a toddler, dog, and a husband who’s work schedule is not always predictable. Regardless, we lined up the appropriate childcare help like a mosaic of moving pieces and everything went well  …until there was a slight hiccup in the scheduling which required me to scramble a bit.  I was sitting in our cramped classroom and got a text from Paul that he was going to be stuck at the hospital much later than anticipated… likely 9PM.  Oh crap. My flight didn’t get into Pittsburgh until mid-night. Luckily Drew was picked up by friends from daycare and they were gracious enough to let him stay until the late evening hours.  That left our poor dog who was rapidly approaching his bladder limit. I did what working moms do… I got creative. I was googling and found a AWESOME, life saving dog walking service available in our area, called “Wag” (www.wagwalking.com).  It is almost like Uber/Lyft for dog walking. You say your dog needs a walk and someone comes to your house to take your dog out for ether 30 minutes or 1 hour. You can then track your pooch and dog walker as they adventure around the area. The walk is complete with pictures and everything happens through your mobile phone and text messaging. It was seriously a LIFE SAVER. I couldn’t believe it was possible to do such a thing on short notice, from Boston nonetheless, but it was!  I highly recommend the Wag app if its available in your area. PS. If you do try it, sign up with my referral code: ALYCE1596   You’ll get $20 free, essentially your first dog walk is free!

Over all it was a great trip to Boston. I learned a lot about the software and even more about how to juggle all the many needs and schedules our family from a distance! On the way home they bumped me to a different flight with a complementary voucher for future travel (which I love!)- so it was an overall #win.

Digestive Disease Week in Chicago!

We’re pretty high up mom! Nice room!

After attending Paul’s weekend conference in Florida, it was my time to catch up on some of my own learning, education and research at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) in Chicago!  I had the fortunate opportunity of presenting some of my cost-effectiveness work and dietary intake research at the 2017 DDW.  It was another opportunity to drag along my husband and child – so we decided to road trip to Chicago with a brand new 2 year old!

Presenting at DDW!

The road trip went surprisingly well. The little man was a dream. He enjoyed his car nap and the few stops we made to run around.  He even went to the bathroom on some wayside potties – can’t argue with that! We checked in to our hotel and settled in for the night.

During the days I spent my time at the conference and presented posters. Paul and the little guy ran around Chicago in the squeaky stroller and spent the day at the Children’s museum.  We met for lunch at Harry Carry’s on the Pier, as all good tourists do. We walked around Millennium park and went to the top of the Hancock building for a slice of cheesecake and the view. We also had some spare time one evening to go on a boat tour of the river and Lake Michigan shoreline. It as getting late, so the little guy was slightly stir crazy, but the views and the architecture was gorgeous and well worth freezing on the boat’s top deck.

View from the Hancock Building!
Family smiles trying to stay warm on the boat!
River views! Gorgeous!

We had a great time in Chicago visiting the city.  The morning pancakes were as wonderful as all the family time we were able to soak up.  Heck, even our dog got the nod to join us in the Windy city.  He didn’t warm up to peeing on the concrete, but he seemed to survive his stay in downtown Chicago without too much anxiety. Although, he did get off leash at one point and dart into another hotel room while the cleaning ladies were chasing him down and shouting… never a dull moment really.

Visiting the parks in Chicago, snapping a few obligatory selfies…

On our last morning there we went up to the suburbs to visit Alyssa and her adorable daughter, and then to Erik and Cara’s in Madison!  Lets just say our visit to Erik’s house was nothing short of chaotic. Drew was pooping and running circles in the house… and so was our dog Dale who immediately decided to poop on their rug, then their deck, and then their neighbors yard.  It was an unfortunate glimpse into the chaos of dog and toddler parenthood, which they will soon experience as new parents, hahah! Sorry guys!

Chicago breakfast! Fruity French Toast
Visiting out buddies!

After the chaotic visit to the Winsand residence we met with Paul’s brothers for dinner at the Old Fashioned, one of my absolute favorite restaurants. The cheese curds and cheeseburgers were nothing short of amazing. Drew was also served his water in a cocktail glass, which he loved a little too much. It was so nice to catch up with the boys and see where they were living! It made me miss our Madison days. Luckily, I was able to get a slice of Mac’n’cheese pizza from Ians for the road trip back to the Fox Valley.

Walking around mom’s old stomping grounds in Madison!
Anderson boys!

We spent the rest of the week soaking up time and memories with Paul’s parents, my parents and family. Andrea was kind enough to host a BBQ at her house so we could visit with family and friends all at once. What a life saver! Lyssa met us there, and Drew was able to play with his cousin all night long on the slide. They talked toddler to one another and ran around the back yard, keeping themselves entertained for hours. It was a blast!

We had a great time in Chicago and visiting family back home. It was wonderful to see everyone, and it was one of the very few times that Paul and I were able to travel together. We are already looking forward to more family trips!

Party at Andrea’s house!

April SCA Meeting in Florida!

Enjoying the hotel at Dad’s conference!

This year Paul was able to attend the Society for Cardiac Anesthesiologists meeting in Florida as an extension of his training – and to continue the never ending education in medicine!  The little guy and I decided that it was a prime opportunity to join Paul at his conference for a little family fun.  While Paul was dressing in a shirt and tie every day, I was able to stay in my sweatpants and go for walks around the hotel.

Loving the warm weather for playing outside!
Smelling the flowers at the entrance to Universal Studios!

We like to save money while traveling by stopping at local grocery stores, so our first day the little guy and I went on a shopping adventure for some fruit and other essential toddler groceries.  I also thought it would be a good outlet mall opportunity, so we hit that up as well! During our days, we spent some time swimming at the pool and waiting for Paul to be done with his conference. I also spent a decent amount of time “fake sleeping” so the young man would nap.  It was a waisted effort.  I was hoping our time sleeping in the pack and play wasn’t over!!

My buddy!!
Paul was the biggest kid in the play area!

One of the days in Florida we reserved for the adventures of Disney.  I was a bit skeptical because going to Disney is essential the complete and polar opposite of “vacationing off the grid”, which my side of the family typically enjoys.  I was also a bit concerned that Drew wouldn’t like all the chaos and commotion or have a major meltdown.  But – we decided to take the plunge – and of course, all my anxieties were proven wrong! Drew loved it – I loved watching Drew love it – and I enjoyed a few of the rides myself!  Luckily we were with expert Disney go-ers (Dan and Deanna) who showed us all of the tricks of “Fast Pass” and baby trade. It would have been way too overwhelming for Paul and I without their guidance.

Family fun on Dumbo!
Disney Castle photo!

We had a great time at Magic Kingdom. Drew loved It’s a Small World, so we went on that ride more than once. We also stayed lated into the evening and almost closed the place down.  Drew was an absolute trooper and stayed awake almost the entire day. He was in awe and loved the whole experience.

…this picture sums up our entire Disney experience. Paul focused, me taking pictures, Drew enjoying the ride!

I couldn’t believe how much we all enjoyed it. We were fortunate that Paul’s continuing education courses brought us down to Orlando. We had a wonderful time going out to dinner and walking around the entrance to Universal studios in our non-disney days. Hopefully we will have the opportunity to adventure to Florida again in the future as a fam!

One more late night ride on small world! We had a wonderful time!

Adventures in Philly!

Family outings in a chilly Philly!

In April we spent a lot of time organizing, rearranging and trying to get settled in the house.  We found out quickly that we needed a few more items of furniture to fill the new space. In our old home we didn’t have a kitchen table or some of the standard items to furnish a house – so it was time to do a little shopping.

I also had the fortunate opportunity to attend a two day intensive conference on propensity score matching – a statistical technique I’m using in some of my thesis work. I was really excited for this opportunity. It required a road trip to Philadelphia, so Paul and the little guy decided to come along for some adventure time.  While I was in class they toured the city and all of the historical sites.  I would occasionally get pictures from the different landmarks – and my favorite was the picture of my little guy passed out in front of the Liberty Bell – apparently he’s not much for history.

Independence Hall

After class we met for walks and went out for dinner down the road from our hotel. We bought the obligatory Philly Cheesesteaks and enjoyed the city.

Dinner at a nice restaurant with a tired little man saved by fruit snacks!

On the way home we stopped by the outlets in Lancaster – which was wild. They have a Pottery Barn furniture outlet – and were running a 40% off your entire purchase sale, which is rare! 40% off outlet prices, now that is something to be excited about.  It was a deal (many deals) meant to be – so we went over the top and rented a U-Haul truck to bring all of our goodies back to Pittsburgh. Hahah!

Our little guy was so extremely patient with us as we made the round through the furniture store, sat on every couch, and debated between kitchen tables. After the day was done we canceled our original kitchen table purchase from West Elm, and filled both the U-Haul and the Pilot with outlet furniture.  We even took a few rugs and items home from another couple who was heading back to Shadyside in Pittsburgh  – what are the odds?!

All packed up and ready to go!

We made the drive back to Pittsburgh and and unloaded all of the furniture into the house with the late night help of Taylor and Katie. It was a spontaneous adventure which resulted in a lot of fun and plenty of furniture!