Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

Behold, the attention to detail:

This was a couple days ago when we tried on the girls' costumes...

...and here's the ensemble - Velma, Shaggy, Daphne, Scooby, and Fred!

I think BJ should start wearing the ascots every day. He's bringin' sexy back!

We didn't stay out long, because it's pretty cold here. We did stay out long enough to get serious sugar highs. "Fred" has declared, "The first set (of teeth) is temporary, anyway..."

When I write again at 3 am because the kids are still up and high on sugar, you can tell me "I told you so!"


When Comments Go Horribly Wrong (h1n1 and me)

Updated - see below...

Maria wrote about H1N1 over at her blog, and asked, why some people are choosing not to be vaccinated.

Here's my ridiculously long comment, which didn't fit in her comment section:

Fact: There will not be enough flu shots to vaccinate everyone.

So, why are people (yourself included) trying to talk people who are reluctant into getting the H1N1 shot? It just doesn't make any sense.

I'm leaving the vaccines for those who REALLY want them by choosing not to vaccinate my kids - people who are at greater risk than we are. I think that's GOOD, altruistic even, both for the person who gets the shots we would've gotten otherwise and for our community - the sickest or those at greatest risk will be more likely to get vaccinated because of my selflessness. :)

I'm not saying it's a conspiracy - I'm just saying it's illogical to push a vaccine on a healthy, low-risk, reluctant family when there are immune compromised, high-risk people in our community who need it more than we do.

I have concerns about the H1N1 shot. I know my history, and I know what happened in the 70s with a similar swine flu vaccine. The additives (adjuvants) that people are concerned about are Squalene (suspected by many to cause Gulf War Syndrome, and to have caused Guillain-Barré syndrome in 1976, and not FDA approved, incidentally) and Thimerosal (formerly suspected of causing Autism, but it has since been pretty conclusively proven not to. On the other hand, it DOES contain mercury, and I don't think it's very smart to inject a known neurotoxin - something you're not even supposed to touch with your hands - into growing bodies, whether it causes Autism or not!).

I do not get my children routine flu shots, although we have gotten shots for the deadly or crippling stuff (polio, rubella, etc.). We do not get shots for inconvenient stuff like the flu. I want their bodies to become immune to those things the old fashioned way - by being exposed - because I think it'll make them healthier in the long run. There have not been longitudinal studies on the effectiveness of getting a yearly flu shot - as adults or elderly people will they be dependent on yearly shots because their bodies never learned to produce their own immunity? I don't know that. No one knows.

We also refused Hepatitis B at birth - my kids aren't allowed to have sex or use IV drugs until they're at least 6 months old! That comment got me several raised eyebrows from the nurses. Incidentally, we also refused the eye gunk (I know I don't have any STDs) and the vitamin K shot (no one in our family has any sort of clotting disorder). Clearly I am a problem patient.

Of all the thousands of people I have known in my entire life, only ONE has had any sort of serious side effects from getting the flu. She got the flu really, really badly but delayed seeking medical help until her kidneys had already been severely damaged (this didn't happen immediately, by the way - I think it was over the course of several days). She ended up having a kidney transplant, and now she's fine (although she does have to take thousands of dollars worth of anti-rejection meds for the rest of her life).

I know of no one who has died of the flu. Most of the people I know do not get the flu shot yearly.

On the other hand, lots and lots of children died of polio, etc. and those aren't curable, so we get those shots.

The one exception is rotavirus. We declined it with MG (because it's not deadly), then she got it when I was pregnant with C, and it SUCKED (we ended up in the ER), so C got the vaccine and so will any future Prettybabies. MG now has natural immunity, thanks to surviving the virus.

Live and learn, I guess.

IF H1N1 becomes a Very Big Deal in our local area - then we will try to find the vaccine or we'll quarantine ourselves at home until it goes away. However, the vaccine isn't even available here right now. We were offered the Flu Mist, but I declined because it's a live (weakened) virus, and unless we could get everyone in the house vaccinated, I didn't want to have the kids shedding virus (because they would - as they built immunity) while living in the house with BJ (who isn't eligible to get vaccinated). It's a dead virus shot or nothing for us.

I also don't think it's socially responsible to send the kids to school with other children who may or may not have been vaccinated and who may or may not have immune system depression when they're shedding live virus - the only way I'm getting my kids a live vaccine is if I can keep them home for 3 weeks, and that just isn't feasible for us right now.

Interesting side note - my doctor didn't know that the nasal vaccine (Flu Mist) was live. We had a little discussion about it before he went and checked, and sure enough, I was right. So, those with degrees don't always know better. (But good for him for admitting his mistake! I know he's human and makes mistakes, like everyone. I don't expect my doctors to be all knowing and all seeing - it's my job to go in there educated and make my choices based on what I know to be true, while taking the doctor's opinion into account, of course.)

Anyway, a study came out of Purdue that said that MOST of the population is going to be exposed to H1N1 before they're even able to get an H1N1 shot, anyway

So I can avoid the possible risks and side effects of the vaccine, knowing that EVEN IF WE GET IT it won't make much difference.

I don't think H1N1 is going to be a big deal. I really don't. Again, I know history - and the media has done this to us before. Ebola, SARS, Bird Flu, Killer Bees, Sharks. It goes around about every 2 years, and they get everyone all worked up, and then .... nothing.

I'm not going to risk the possible side-effects of the vaccine when:

1) it won't probably do us any good even if we do get it - honestly if it is as bad as the media says, we've probably already been exposed at this point, and

2) given the media's history of hype, H1N1 isn't probably going to be a big deal, anyway, (see also: the boy who cried wolf). The same Purdue study I linked to above said that less than half of the people who are infected will become ill, AND that most of the people who do become ill will be "mildly" ill. And

3) there are people who want and need the shot a whole lot more than I do - those who work in health care and in schools and with the public, those who have immune system issues, etc. They're welcome to it. We'll be fine.

There you go. My reasoning, complete with links.

I'm not saying that you're wrong if you're choosing the vaccine, by the way. I'm not even trying to talk you out of it! Each family has to do their own cost/benefit analysis and do what's best for them in their situation - just like virtually every decision in parenting. I'm merely sharing the decision that we have made. I hope it helps you make yours, or at least I hope it helps you understand mine.

(By the way, our "wait and see and try to get the shot if H1N1 becomes a big deal locally" was the approach my dad recommended to us, and he's a nurse, too. So our nurses cancel each other out, Maria. Haha!)

And P.S. I've already enumerated my concerns about school-based medical procedures here.

Updated to add: Thanks to Aunt Kathryn's comment, I've spent most of the day reading (when I haven't been doing battle with my kids - is there a brattiness vaccine I can get them? Srsly! WTF?).

I was wrong. Squalene is not in the current swine flu vaccine. There are thimerosal-free vaccines available, if you are concerned about thimerosal. See this article on Flu Myths for more information.

I'm not sure how this is going to change things for us. I still don't think that H1N1 is going to be a big deal. The vaccine is still unavailable in our area. I'm still waiting-and-seeing. If I get a call from our doctor's office saying, "Hey, we've got the shot," and meanwhile there have been a dozen deaths in our town from H1N1, or they've closed the schools or something, I'll probably get it for myself and the kids. On the other hand, if I get a call saying, "We've got the shot," and none of the schools have closed and no one's died, it's going to be a harder decision.

I probably ought to call the doctor's office and see if they've got vaccine available. When we saw Dr. MWMH a couple of weeks ago, he said that they'd have the shots in a couple of weeks. I'm not sure how they're notifying patients.

All of this almost makes me wish for a mandatory vaccination program - it would be easier to decide what to do if someone else would decide for me!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

An Open Letter to Whoopi Goldberg

My frigging head is about to fly right off my shoulders and I have to get this off my chest.
Dear Whoopi Goldberg,

I have watched The View all of twice in the last couple of months. The first time, I saw this:

The second time was this morning, about 3 minutes ago, when you were talking about the 15 year old who was gang raped in front of a crowd, and how no one did anything. It was so recent, it's not on YouTube yet, but, Whoopi, you basically said, "What is the matter with people?"

Maybe the "matter" is that IDIOTS LIKE YOURSELF ARE ON TELEVISION EXCUSING RAPISTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm not saying that moron celebrities like yourself who think there should be one set of rules for the famous, and another set of rules for the rest of us, are directly responsible for what happened to the 15 year old rape victim, but your failure to show an appropriate amount of outrage, disgust, and contempt for Roman Polanski's rape of a 13 year old girl, and a group's failure to intervene in the rape of a 15 year old girl are symptoms of the same disease in our culture - our failure to value girls and women and their safety, and our failure to recognize the heinous nature of rape and other sexual assaults.

Maybe if people like you hadn't been on TV making excuses for rapists since time immemorial, people would've acted.

Or maybe the crowd in the gang rape situation just figured that the perpetrators had horrible childhoods and would go on to make great art, and therefore the rules didn't apply to those perpetrators.

How dare you sit there and say, "What is wrong with people?" when YOU and your recent statements are part of the problem?

Amy Prettybaby
Now will someone please come over and take channel 6 off of my TV so I will never accidentally watch The (horrible, awful, offensive) View again?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Child Labor

No time to post, the house is a wreck and it's almost time for the ball!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

ProMom Tip: Make Halloween Costumes

I can't remember if I said anything here or not, but I was recently complaining on Facebook that the costumes for girls Mary Grace's age are already getting slutty.

She's four.

This is obviously unacceptable to any thinking parent.

I am happy to report that aside from the black shoes I need to find for Claire, the kids' costumes are complete, and completely un-slutty! And, bonus, they'll be able to wear the clothes again after the holiday.

I can't sew, but there are plenty of characters who wear regular clothes - Dora and Diego, for example, or the guy from Blue's Clues. Mary Grace wanted to be Daphne, to have Claire be Velma, and for Max to be Scooby Doo (which totally makes sense).

Here's the commercially available Daphne costume:

Ummmm.... No.

Leaving aside the fact that the dress barely covers her butt, she'll freeze to death in an armless dress in Indiana in October. And you KNOW that the wig in the package isn't going to look anything like that. The reviews of it are terrible.

The Velma outfit is better:

...but I can find an orange shirt for less than $25! We have a skirt - it's black, instead of red, and we're doing tights instead of socks. Claire isn't nearly as exacting with the details as Mary Grace - MG rejected about 11,000 scarves as being "not right" before we finally just bought a piece of neon green fabric at Joann's and called it "good enough." I found a lavender polo dress at Once Upon A Child, and we got her a pair of purple ballet flats (they're super cute, and she'll be able to wear the whole outfit to school without it screaming "Daphne!") We got a piece of red fabric to make BJ a scarf (so he can wear a white polo and jeans and be Fred). I'm going to be in charge of the camera and the Scooby Snacks (although I do have a green t-shirt and brown pants, I could pull off a Shaggy costume pretty easily if I drew a goatee on my face with eyeliner). I found a really cute little pair of magnifying glasses at Target that'll work just fine for Velma. They were a buck.

Of course, getting a dog that looks like Scooby Doo probably wouldn't be cheap if we didn't already happen to have one. I guess it's a good thing she likes Scooby Doo this year, and not Clifford!

So try to find a character that wears regular clothes and to eschew the commercially available costumes this year. It feels good to know that my kids will be warm enough for the weather and covered enough to be decent this Halloween!

We had them try everything on tonight, and I took pictures, but I'm going to make you all wait until the Big Day to see them!

Holiday Gift Idea - Prima Princessa

It's October 25, which means that Christmas will be here in two short months.

That makes my head hurt.

Fear not! If you have little girls in your life, I've got a super gift idea. It's the Prima Princessa Nutcracker video!

We also have the first Prima Princessa video - Swan Lake - but since we're talking about Christmas, I thought I'd feature the Nutcracker one, instead. (Disclosure: The fine folks at Prima Princessa sent me both of the DVDs free of charge so that I could review them and tell you about them).

My kids love both of our Prima Princessa videos. I feel good about letting them watch these videos, too, because they're educational, unlike other princess videos we own which are merely entertaining. Mary Grace loves ballet, and when she watches these videos she's exposed to classical music, ballet terms and phrases, and even French (pas de chat is a ballet move, and the name is French).

I thought about giving away the videos, but we honestly love them too much. I can't part with them. So if you want them for your own princess, you can get them at The Nutcracker is here and Swan Lake is here. As you'll see, they have great reviews at Amazon too.

So if you have little girls in your life, I highly recommend that you order a copy of The Nutcracker for them for Christmas, which is only two months away. Eek.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fail fail fail

I tried to post a picture from the open house at school tomorrow, but the picture didn't come through. If I look at it on my phone, it looks fine. I don't know why it isn't showing up. Sorry. Blogging fail.

Allison is coming today and my house looks like it has been taken over by a band of destructive pygmies, which it kind of has. Housekeeping fail.

I can't remember the last time the kids had a bath. Mothering fail.

We're going to Grammaland tonight to have dinner with Gramma Susan for her birthday (which I missed because we were in Florida. Favorite-kid fail.). Then we're spending the night with Mimi. From there we're going to Michigan to see my friend Mandy (who met us at Seaworld) and her kids and go to a pumpkin patch. The trouble is that Claire is on antibiotics for her foot bites, and they have to be refrigerated. I have no idea how I'm going to keep them cold all day while we're in the car (for about 5.5 hours roundtrip) and at the pumpkin patch. I don't think ice packs in a cooler will last that long. Logistics fail.

It's also probably going to pour down rain. Generally pumpkin patches are outdoors. Weather fail.

I tried to potty train Claire yesterday. It was going incredibly well until I told BJ, "This could be the easiest potty-training of all time!" After that she had two accidents and said, "I want my diaper!" Fate-tempting fail.

I went to a Windows 7 launch party last night. Cool kid fail.

I guess I'd better go try to do something about the lack of bath and the messy house...

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

That's Why God Invented Ebay

Yesterday I took the kids to the doctor (I have a sinus infection, and Claire has a minor skin infection where some godforsaken thing from Florida bit her). The kids were TERRIBLE. Seriously awful. I was really embarrassed.

On the way out I was scolding them, and telling them that they couldn't watch TV when we got home as a consequence. Mary Grace was sobbing and saying something unintelligible about "sell me."

It took a while, but I finally got the whole story out of her. It turns out that they'd been discussing the Bible story about Joseph at school - you know, the one where his brothers sell him into slavery? Yeah. I guess she got the idea that if she wasn't good, we were going to sell her.

I resisted the urge to say, "YOU BET WE WILL!" and instead reassured her that we would not be selling her any time in the near future. I might have told her that the Bible is full of made up stories, anyway, and something else that will surely secure my ticket into Hell.

When BJ got home I was telling him the story, and MG got all upset again and started going on and on and on about how Joseph's brothers sold him and we're going to sell her and I may have gotten a little exasperated and said something along the lines of, "Oh, would you can it already, you don't even HAVE any brothers!"

You can withdraw my name from the list of Parent of the Year candidates. I'll wait.

Anyway, just in case you're already working on your holiday shopping, this probably isn't the best year to get Mary Grace a technicolor dreamcoat...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Bad Blogger!

I've been a bad blogger. I haven't wanted to post about "Dammit we're sick! We knew this would happen when the kids licked the handrails at Disneyworld..." because, "Yawn!" but it's what's going on.

I just wrote, then deleted, four really boring paragraphs about it. We're all fine now, that's what matters. I'm coming down with something, too, but I always do when it starts to get chilly.

The highlight of the weekend, other than spending time with Barbara Dahling,* her Dahling husband William, and their hilarious friends, was that the leaves were in full autumn spectacularity on the way to Fort Wayne, and since there is absolutely nothing else to look at between here and there, I got to really enjoy fall in all its glory. I also listened to some great podcasts. One about parasites from Radiolab (now there's a diet plan!), and a couple of TED Talks (and if you're not listening to TED Talks, you really should be - seriously fascinating stuff, all free).

I got up at 5 am this morning. Why? Because Claire woke up crying, and I was unable to get back to sleep in a reasonable amount of time, so I thought, "Heck with it..." and got up. Perhaps this will be an extra-productive day, to make up for the last several vacation-recovery and illness-recovery days we've had around here.

Nah, probably not.

* So why is Barb "Barbara Dahling"? Well, in college she lived with a male-to-female transsexual (after answering a room for rent ad in the paper) and this person's former boyfriend (who was no longer interested in him now that he was a she, but they were still friends) was named Stephen. Stephen couldn't call Barb "Barb." She was always "Barbara Dahling." So, I started calling her that, too. That's not the good story, though. The good story is that in this house, with all the gender bending that was going on, there was a tiny, yippie dog named Poopsie. Poopsie was about as friendly as you'd be if your name was Poopsie. One time I had gone to pick Barbara (Dahling) up, and Poopsie was barking and snapping at me. A lot. I said, "Gosh, she really doesn't like me!" Erika (formerly Erik) corrected me, saying, "Poopsie is a he." I, being the sensitive soul that I am, said, and I quote, "Aw, he, she, it... what difference does it make?"

This is how I became known for my sensitivity and tact.

In my own defense, I had simply forgotten who I was talking to, and was referring to unnecessary anthropomorphism and subsequent gender assignment in canines, not humans - for whom the issue is decidedly more complex.

Barbara (Dahling) hustled me out of there really quickly, as you can imagine. We're still giggling about it, 14 years later.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Working Moms vs. Stay at Home Moms

And the wheel keeps on turning and turning, and thanks to Dr. Phil we're back to the working vs. stay at home mom debate.


Just so we all know where I stand, I'm both. I am home with my kids most of the time. However, when they're at preschool (7.5 hours/week) and when Allison is here (10 hours/week) I go to work. I also work from home.

I call myself a Hybrid Mom, because I'm hip and trendy and good for the environment like that.

I used to be a lot more sanctimonious about this issue, like Jessica on the show (the same woman was recently cruel to a good friend of mine on Twitter, and my personal opinion is that she needs a muzzle, but anyway...). I had listened to a little too much Dr. Laura, honestly, and was a bit brainwashed.

I think most people will agree that the optimal situation is for a parent to be at home with the kids until the kids reach school age. I also think that there are few people, particularly in this economy, who have the financial ability to stay at home with their kids for 5 - 10 years.

Research supports that up to 20 hours a week of outside-the-home-care for kids aged 2 and older is actually beneficial to the kids.

Research also supports that being able to, oh, I don't know, EAT is good for kids.

In my personal situation, it would not be possible to hire someone else to do what I do. I have too much control, and if we brought someone else in to do my job, that person could clean the business out. It would also take a lot of time and effort for me to train someone, and BJ wouldn't be able to trust that person the way he trusts me. It's just not going to happen. If we want our business to succeed (and our kids to be able to eat) I have to keep doing what I'm doing.

Furthermore, in my personal situation, I look forward to being able to go to work and do something other than the mom thing. It restores me. It's hard, because I never really get much of a break, but it's also rewarding.

It works for our family, and frankly it is none of Jessica's business.

Honestly, what purpose is served by this sneering at each other? "I'm a better mother than you are because my kids are in outside-home care HALF the time yours are!" "I'm a better mother than you are because my kids have never had a babysitter!" Really? Is that productive? Wouldn't all of us, and especially our kids, be better served by all of us helping and supporting each other? Instead of letting Dr. Phil pit us against each other, can't we finally agree, once and for all, that there is no single solution to the working vs. SAHM thing that will work for every family and every situation? I know plenty of working moms who would LOVE to stay home full time, but can't because of insurance or money or debt or whatever. I know plenty of stay at home moms whose careers have never recovered from being out of the workforce for a decade or so (I used to interview them when I worked at the temp agency).

We all make choices. All of our choices are limited by our own individual situations. Rather than pointing fingers and acting like sanctimommies, let's talk about how we can make the workplace friendlier to all families. Let's talk about making maternity leave longer than 6 weeks in this country. Let's talk about flex time and telecommuting and all the different creative ways families are making it work - whether they're living on one income or they're working opposite shifts to minimize daycare time or whatever. Let's talk about solutions.

And let's remember that small minds talk about people, average minds talk about things, and great minds talk about ideas. Let's talk about ideas, and stop giving the floor to the small minded people of the world, please?

The thing about post-vacation recaps...

The thing about post-vacation recaps is that they're boring. Unless you were there, you don't want to read about our trip in nauseating detail... "We left home at precisely 8 am, arrived at the airport with plenty of time to grab a latte and play on the people movers..." Yuck. I don't even want to write it, so I know you don't want to read it.

I hope you had fun "following" us via the pictures I posted while we were gone. Some of them were blurry - sorry about that. The iPhone's camera has limits, and does well when things are still but poorly when they're moving. It's hard to see how blurry they are on the phone's screen. I was surprised at just how blurry a couple of them were when I had a chance to see them on a real screen!

I do have a couple of favorite pictures that I'd like to share:

I took this one. Our friend Mandy, from college, and one of her daughters (Kelsey - Morgan was sick and couldn't come. :( ) met us at Seaworld. I took this one of the three girls in the underwater dolphin viewing area (which was one of my favorites - mainly because it was air conditioned).

Mandy took this one. I'm going to have it blown up and framed because I really love it. Kelsey and MG were so cute. They held hands the whole time and were just the best of buddies from the moment they met. I guess Kelsey's been asking her mom if MG can come sleep over ever since we left Seaworld. We're hoping to see them again in a couple weeks when they come north to see family.

MG just looks like a rock star in this one, that I took at Animal Kingdom. Claire was asleep in the stroller at this point.

The Magic Kingdom photos are almost entirely on my cell phone or on the disposable camera we bought because I'm an idiot and I left the battery for the camera in the hotel room that day. I'll get them processed (the 80s called...) and uploaded soon.

MG got sick yesterday at school. At least she waited until we got home from vacation!! When I picked her up, her teacher said she thought MG was tired, but she spiked a fever shortly after we got home and ended up vomiting once. She seems to be over it now. We're staying close to home today, just in case Claire comes down with it too.

Overall, the kids were incredibly good while we were gone. They didn't break anything at my grandma's or at Aunt Roz's house, which was the main thing I was worried about! There was very little screaming on the plane, almost no fighting, and with few exceptions that can easily be chalked up to fatigue or hunger, they were really good. Surprisingly good. I was so proud of them!

If you are going to DisneyWorld, I highly recommend the Nemo Musical and the Lion King shows at the Animal Kingdom. I also recommend the princess lunch at the castle (although it's really expensive!). I recommend not shopping while you're at the parks. We didn't buy anything at the MK, and only bought our Minnie dolls right before we left the AK. Instead, we did the bulk of our shopping at Downtown Disney, which is free. That way, we didn't waste our precious and expensive "park time" shopping, and we didn't have to worry about something getting stolen out of the stroller while we were in a show or on a ride. It worked quite well.

One idea that my dad gave us right after we got married, which I still love, is to buy a Christmas ornament every time we go on vacation. That way when you put up the tree in December, you get a physical reminder to help you remember every vacation you've taken as a family. We got our ornament at Downtown Disney, as well as some Disney themed Mr. Potatohead pieces (MG just loved playing with the Potatoheads!). We also got a gift for Pierre, who housesat for us.

I do wonder how anyone actually lives in Florida - between the bugs and the reptiles and the heat and the humidity and the tolls and the tourists... I couldn't live there. It was so good to get home. It's cold and wet and rainy here, and I couldn't be happier. The leaves are turning, and we've had grilled cheese and soup for lunch, and it feels like October.

It's good to be home.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fun with Texting

XXX-XXX-9846: Heyy do you need me to babysit this weekendm..i havent seen u guys in forever

Me: Mary Grace has the flu, so probably not - but thanks for the offer!! Soon... When we're all well.

XXX-XXX-9846: Wrong number srry.

Me: Are you sure? Cause I'm always recruiting sitters! :D

XXX-XXX-9846: Positive. Who is this neways.

Me: Amy Prettybaby. And you are?

XXX-XXX-9846: Whos that...what school do u go to?

Then I get a blocked call, asking for Amber. I said, "So are you still interested in babysitting?" and the person on the phone pretended not to know what I was talking about.

Me: I'm 33 and have 2 kids hon, school is a distant memory.

XXX-XXX-9846: What...?

XXX-XXX-9846: Then why r u texting me?

Me: U started it.

(This is why we should never have gotten a texting plan - I just can't control myself.)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Lion King

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Waiting for...

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...Finding Nemo, the musical!


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Animal Kingdrum

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We're on the road - headed to Disney's Animal Kingdom from St Pete. We woke up at 6 (unintentionally) and we are all a bit fussy. Vacation is great, but I think we are all ready to go home and sleep for a week.

We went to the beach yesterday and had a blast, after a couple of minor disasters (C had a tragic diaper failure and MG stepped in a nest of fire ants while Daddy was cleaning up the seat -luckily Grandmother Diana had chewable Benedryl in her bag!).

The family reunion with BJ's aunts and cousins was terrific. We took a great group photo with the timers on the cameras. Getting everyone in place, setting the cameras, then running to get everyone in was pretty funny, but we got the pictures on the first try!

Ok, writing this on my phone in a moving car is making me sick... Home tomorrow night, then we'll resume regular programming around here.

Happy birthday Gramma Susan!!!!!!!! I'm sorry I didn't get flowers sent but we'll treat you to dinner soon!

Friday, October 9, 2009

$35 later...

Is every highway in Florida a toll road?


On the Road

BJ - What are we listening to?
Amy - Tori Amos.
BJ - Why did she let her cat sing on the album?

We're somewhere in middle Florida and MG has to pee. Probably not safe to pull over and use a bush here. Gators.

Teaching Grandma how to play Tag Pens

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Ponce de Leon

Driving through Central Florida makes me think of Spanish explorers, hacking their way through the Everglades with a sword, not knowing if it was ten miles or three hundred miles across. I won't even go across town in my air conditioned car without my GPS enabled phone, half a vanfull of gear, and a very good idea of where I'm going and when I'll be home. I do not have the guts to hike through swamps battling alligators, heat stroke, insects, exotic diseases, and everything else that they must have endured. I'm glad I was born when I was, I'm not sure I would have survived an earlier era.


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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

OMG Tired

Disney kicked our butts. We did 12 hours of the Magic Kingdom. Best - Monsters Inc comedy show. They told the joke that MG texted in! Worst - Buzz Lightyear. Lots of screaming. Loved Princess lunch! Hated the prices. It's my turn to shower, thank God. Seaworld tomorrow. PS- BJ quickly agreed that I was right about bringing our stroller!

Tea Cups

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Waiting for Mickey

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Castle Lunch

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Small World

For Karen

Guess who left the camera battery at the hotel?


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Monday, October 5, 2009

Traveler's Remorse

We are leaving in approximately 10 hours.

This is my least-favorite part of the trip - Departure Eve. The night when everything is done (I think, I hope) and all that's left to do is wait, and I think too much.
The kids are too little for Disneyworld. They won't even remember it.

We're cramming too much into too short a stay.

We're taking a toddler and a pre-schooler. On an airplane. And they won't let us sit five rows away and pretend that the kids belong to someone else.

Hotel rooms don't have chocolate milk on tap. The kids are going to explode with tiny fury before we even get out of the hotel room in the morning.

Hotels have pools. Someone is going to drown.

Hotels have pools. I have to wear a swimming suit. (Please note that these worries are in no particular order, and I certainly don't think that being forced to wear a swimsuit is the same as experiencing a hotel-pool drowing!)

The economy is in the toilet, we should be saving our money right now, not spending.

We could've spent that money on (insert any combination of 10 million things) instead!

I can't believe how much the effing park tickets cost. Good Lord! There's no way we're going to get our money's worth.

Florida is hot. And humid. And they have lots and lots of bugs.



What if we run out of (insert any combination of 10 million things that I have packed)???

What if Tim forgets to come stay with Max?

What if our credit cards don't work in Florida (Holy carp! I forgot to call the bank and tell them we're traveling! Add that to the to-do list for tomorrow...)?

What if we get into a car accident in the rental car?

What if the plane crashes?

What if Claire has a temper tantrum in the middle of It's a Small World?

What if I never get the stupid song out of my head?

What if something bad happens here while we're away?

What if someone gets lost?

What if I forget to get a picture of the kids on the Dumbo ride, or pick up Kaity's
Christmas ornament?

What if I neglected to pack underwear?

What if I neglected to pack diapers?

What if no one has fun?

What if all my worrying prevents everyone from having fun?
It's exhausting. The thing is, I know we'll have fun once we get there. I know that it'll be great. But the night before is hard on me. I worry myself sick. I wish I had a switch and could turn it off, but the only way I've found to deal with it is to think through every possible bad thing that could happen, and have a plan. So, if I forgot to pack things, we'll find the nearest Walmart. No big deal. If Claire has a tantrum there we'll handle it the same way we handle them here. No big deal. I'm sure she wouldn't be the first kid to spaz at Disneyworld. As for the concerns about the economy and the money - eh, it's only money. We'll make more. And most of the money is already spent, anyway, so freaking out isn't going to change or fix anything.

The only truly legitimate worry up there is, "What if all my worrying prevents everyone from having fun?" So, tonight I'll work through it, and tomorrow we'll leave - hopefully with me in my zen happy place, instead of frantic-nail-biting-double-checking-what-we've-packed-list-making place.

Is this completely insane, or do you do it too? Is it part of being The Mom and therefore Responsible for Everyone Else's Fun/Safety/Wellbeing? Or am I just a fruitcake?

Insurance and Your Family

Over the weekend, a friend of ours had an accident. He works construction, and he was working on a side-job with my brother-in-law, and he fell when a piece of scaffolding broke beneath him and he broke both bones in his leg. He has already had two surgeries. He'll be in the hospital at least a week, and can't bear weight until Christmas. Obviously this is going to put a huge financial strain on his family.

If any of you have been through something similar, and have suggestions as to how we can help out his family, I'd love to hear them.

Anyway, it got me thinking about insurance. Insurance is one of those things they really should teach in high school - but don't. I'm well into my 30s, and I'm still not entirely sure how all of it works.

I do know that BJ and I have short-term disability insurance that covers BJ if he can't work. It'll pay 80% of his salary for like 2 years. I also know that AFLAC has an accident policy that, thank goodness, will cover some of my friend's family's expenses.

If you own a home, you simply must have homeowner's insurance. Hopefully the policy of the homeowner that my friend was working for will come through and help with their expenses, also. If you rent, renter's insurance is extremely affordable and could be invaluable if there's a fire and you lose everything you own.

In light of what happened to my friend, I hope each of you will check with an insurance agent and make sure that you have some kind of coverage for accidents and lost wages. I know it's frustrating to pay for so many kinds of insurance - we have homeowner's, car, health, disability, life... - but the peace of mind that you'll get from having everything in place, just in case, is well worth the money.

And again, if you have any suggestions for how we can help this family (they live in Grammaland) please let me know.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Claire's Clothes

Claire is running around in a diaper today. This is the day after we finally turned on the furnace for the winter, because it has been so cold and damp here. After arguing with her about it, giving up, and going upstairs to get dressed, myself, I had a startling realization - I understand rocket science more than I understand two year olds.


Friday, October 2, 2009


I amuse myself

For some reason they've taken down the nice directional signs that used to exist in our office building and replaced them with crappy signs that are (obviously) printed on a sheet of paper. I suppose the new ones will be easier to change as people move in and out, but they're just not as nice...

So I just printed this out and taped it to the one closest to our office:

...simply to amuse myself.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

I Am A Bad Blogger

I really have no excuse for not writing lately except that we're trying to get ready for our trip which involves doing a thousand loads of laundry and cleaning over and over and over because cleaning with the children in the house is like trying to fight back high tide with a broom and they are much more efficient at messing up than I am at cleaning so I end up feeling like I just chase them around tidying behind them which is honestly no way to live but seriously it's been get up and run run run from the moment we wake up in the morning until we get the kids to bed and by then I'm just so damn worn out that I don't have the creativity left in me to tell you something cute or funny like the way Claire wants to be "up is down" whenever Daddy comes home (upside down for those of you who don't speak Claire) or the story about the baby chicks that Mary Grace got to hold at school or that my mom came down to hang out today or about Grandmother Diana's birthday today or that Great Aunt Roz is going to spend the weekend with us or how we scored free tickets to the Homecoming game and we need a sitter (although it just occurred to me that we could make some decent money scalping them) or I could mention that there are only four full days left before we leave and how I'm really nervous about going because I'm afraid the kids are going to poop out fifteen minutes into Disneyworld and we'll have wasted a ridiculous amount of money or I could make the story of burning the granola yesterday and wrecking the chocolate chip cookies tonight really funny if I had the energy but I don't and honestly if you think this post has been tiring to read without punctuation realize that that's how I've been living for the past week without pauses commas dashes or periods and it has fried my brain entirely so hopefully I'll be able to find my writing mojo this weekend and I'll write that post about discipline that I promised you but right now I'm going to distract you with this awesome picture of the newest Pretty Baby - my nephew Alex:

...and of course before I sign off for the evening I have to say:

Happy Birthday Grandmother Diana! We love you!!