Disney Extravaganza: Day 6

Tuesday, August 11

We woke up in port again, and yet again, I didn’t feel a thing.  We were sleeping like stones at night.  A by product of the busy days at WDW and on the boat itself.  The kids even slept through the night without barely a stir.

The difference this morning is that we were woken up by a phone call.  It was Harry, up in my parent’s stateroom.  My parents were going to breakfast and Harry wanted to go to breakfast with us.  Did he know the way down to our room?  Of course not.  So Kile had to throw on clothes and go get him.

It was earlier than we might have otherwise gotten up, but it wasn’t an entirely bad thing either.  We were hoping to get off the boat and get a good spot set up on the beach under an umbrella.  I had heard that if you don’t get their relatively early, you can miss out.  And if there’s one thing I knew about myself: without shade, I was not worth a whole lot.

On our way to breakfast, I took a quick picture of the hallway outside our room.  It was a very long hall:

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That’s looking forward.  It’s a long way forward from our room.  But that was okay, because we grew to have a fond spot for the aft portion of the ship.  Forward was for squares.  Midship was for pansies.  Aft was where it was at.  HAR!

Okay, so we decided to do the Parrot Cay buffet for breakfast.  And it was MUCH better than the Beach Blanket Buffet.  We were rather pleased as we gorged on breakfast goodies.  There’s no end to the food on cruise ships, just in case you were wondering.  It’s EVERYWHERE.

After breakfast, we had to get ready for….

Castaway Cay (from the ship)

Castaway Cay!  And yes, that IS the Flying Dutchman there on the right.  It may not look like much from here but Castaway Cay is where I want to go to die.  It’s just awesome.  And completely stress-free.  We stuffed ourselves into our swimsuits, sprayed ourselves down with sunblock (I have to give mad props to Banana Boat for Kids/Babies (we had both) tear-free sunblock because NO ONE got burned when we used it.  And we didn’t have to obsessively reapply either.  And in case you weren’t aware, I’m entirely white and prone to burning so that is a BIG DEAL) and were ready to hit the beach.

Again, we could have waited for the tram but we decided to just hoof it.

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Castaway Cay

It was like something out of a Corona commercial.  I kid you not.  We even spotted none other than “Captain Jack Sparrow” on our way to the beach.  This guy did a good Captain Jack, too.  It was uncanny.  He had the voice and the mannerisms DOWN.

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IMG_2146 How about now?  He was a crowd favorite that day.

We dropped Harry at “Scuttle’s Cove” which had all sorts of children’s programming on the island.  But I sorta wish we’d kept him with us.  He didn’t get any chance to play in the water with them and I think some of the activities kind of bored him.  Kile had gone to check on him at lunchtime but wasn’t able to ask Harry directly if he wanted to stay.  Oh well!  NEXT TIME!

We were able to quickly find the perfect spot on the beach to set up camp.  It was under not just an umbrella but a palm tree as well.  We gathered a bunch of chairs and loungers around, just in case anyone wanted to join us (and eventually they did).  It was… heaven.

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White sand beaches?  Check.  Blue-Green ocean?  Check.  Palm trees?  Check.  Bright umbrellas?  Check.  Just awesome.

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We pretty much went in the water right away with the little ones.  And yes, you could just walk right in.  It was like bath-water.  One of the ships photographers came along and took a picture of Evie and I (yes, while in the water!) and Kile bought it on our last moments on the boat.  Beware for my hideous-ness but Evie was sure cute:

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Liam loved the ocean too and I think we could have stayed out there all day.  But I didn’t want Evie to get water logged too much at once.  So we eventually returned to our little “nest”.

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After the kids played on the sand a bit, we went back for another dip in the water.  It was hard not to!  If we hadn’t had the little ones to chase around, I would have liked to rent an innertube and float around like I saw many other people doing.  That water was intoxicating!

Eventually, we got hungry so we dried off and went in search of food.  The cruise had a BBQ buffet set up just down the path from where we were.  We went and loaded up on bbq ribs and a very tasty mahi-mahi sandwhich along with chips and cous-cous salad and lots of lemonade.  Being out in the sun makes you hungry!  After we ate, we stopped by the souvenir stand to see if we could find anything we loved there.  We knew we wanted some postcards, since we’d heard you pretty much HAVE to send a postcard from Castaway Cay.  And Kile and I still hadn’t found any t-shirts we loved.

As it so happens, Kile found the PERFECT t-shirt and they happened to have ONE more in his size!  It was perfect for him and he was very happy with it.  I got desperate and went with a t-shirt that had a picture of the beach and the boat, said Castaway Cay and 2009 on it.  Pretty good, but it was quite larger than I would normally get.  And it wasn’t the sort of cut I was hoping for.  But every “girly” shirt I saw was outrageously expensive and this one was a very reasonable price.  The cheapskate in me caved and I got it.  We were able to send all our purchases (sans the postcards, of course) back to the boat to pick up later.

We returned to the beach and hung out there with some of my siblings for a while.  Evie was exhausted so she took a nap on one of the lounge chairs.

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Too cute.  Kile and Liam went back into the ocean and I found some reputable family members to keep an eye on Evie while I went back into the water myself.  Again, I could have stayed out there forever.  It was just bliss.  And the water was SO salty, that I was able to lay back and float with no trouble at all.  Ahh…

I only returned to shore because I saw Kile holding Evie, who had woken up.  It was getting close to the time we had agreed to head back to the ship.  We wanted to be out of the super heat of the late afternoon and we also wanted to catch a screening of “Up” in the theater on the ship.  We had even arranged to put the wee ones in the nursery while we did it.  So it was time to pack it up and head back to the boat.  Kile went to get Harry from Scuttle’s Cove and we found out he hadn’t been in the ocean at all.  Kile offered to take him down there for a few minutes and I took Evie back to the boat myself, since she was DONE.  I sensed she wanted to nurse, but wouldn’t consider the sippy cup.   I took a few pictures on my way back, mostly of the Flying Dutchman.

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Back on the ship, it was time to get clean.  Evie and I both were a little sandy, despite having rinsed off at the beach showers, sticky from the sea water and greasy from the sunblock.  Bleh.  My plan, flawed as it was, was to bring Evie in the shower with me in hopes that she would stand or sit still while I washed my hair, then I would pick her up and wash her down.

It didn’t go quite that smoothly.

She wasn’t terribly interested in staying still.  And as the Disney Cruise doesn’t believe in no-slip bathtubs, she fell down.  A lot.  And cried.  A lot.  But we got it done eventually.  And while we were in there, Kile and the boys came back and I was able to holler at Kile to fetch Evie and dry her off so I could dry off myself.  While I was dressing her and nursing her back to her old self, it was Kile’s turn to take a shower with Liam, though Liam cooperated a lot better than Evie had.

Once we were all dressed and ready, we dropped the little ones off at the nursery, which was conveniently located right next to the theater.  We grabbed our 3-D glasses and headed in.  The theater is truly a full-sized movie theater and I’m a little sad we didn’t try to go see more movies there.  But G-Force and Hannah Montana didn’t appeal to us that much, believe it or not.

The 3-D was AMAZING.  The glasses irritated me a little but it was worth it.  Almost like seeing a different movie!  And it was nice to see “Up” outside of the drive-in and I caught more details this time than I had on the first viewing.  Best of all?  FREE.  Free is good.

After the movie, we killed a little time and then picked up the wee ones.  It was time to head to dinner, so we took a quick picture of everyone out on the deck before heading back to the Animator’s Palette.

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They were all a lot happier than this picture lets on, believe me!  And yes, we were back at sea, the boat having left Castaway Cay at 5pm.  And this time?  I didn’t feel it at all.  I was getting VERY used to it.

It was Pirate Night and the Animator’s Palette was the best place to celebrate, I’m sure of it!  All the waitstaff was dressed up like pirates, the table cloths and linens were colorful and we had festive, themed menus.  Let the fun begin!

Evie and Ghoola on Pirate Night

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I had scallops and shrimp and it was fantastic.  I’m not even a big scallops person and they were awesome.  Evie LOVED all the extra excitement of the evening and kept everyone entertained the way she clapped and cheered while the waitstaff paraded around the dining room for us, whooping and hollering.  It was all a big show to her and she ate it all up.  Loved every single minute.  The girl, she knows how to party.

The staff had a cake for us that night, for my parents.  In honor of their fiftieth anniversary this year.  That was pretty cool.

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The show that night was “G-Force” in, you guessed it, 3-D.  Kile and I weren’t terribly hot to see it and the little ones were getting rather desperate for sleep.  So my brother’s family offered to take him with them.  Sweet!  We took the little ones down to the room and found our nightly towel animal waiting for us:

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I also realized that I had been very remiss in taking pictures of our towel animals to date.  The first night we had a dog, and the second night it was an elephant.  Both were adorable and I’m a fool for not taking pictures.  But at least I got the towel monkey!

The little ones went to sleep VERY easy that night after their big day.  We watched some TV but started to feel bad about missing the big pirate party above-decks.  Around 10pm or so, we came to a decision:  the little ones were well asleep.  We could run up there, watch the fireworks, and then head back down to our room.  No harm, no foul!  Right?

We hoofed up to Deck 10 (no small feat since there were areas closed off and elevators to nowhere and all that fun stuff).  There was the dance party underway which we didn’t really care about, but it was fun to watch anyhow.

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We cruised around the deck a little bit, went as far forward as we could.  It was dark out on the ocean.

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We returned to the party where things started getting a little more interesting, what with the introduction of pirates and Mickey Mouse himself. And then? The fireworks.

The perfect end to the perfect day. Truly.

Coming up: a day at sea! And our last day on the boat. Aww, nuts.

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Traveling with Toddlers

In a word? Don’t.

We made it back from our big Disney Extravaganza yesterday. Well.
Today, actually. If you wanna get technical. And I do. The kids did
great on vacation. But traveling was hard on all of us.

I’m going to save the warm and fuzzy details for my warm and fuzzy
posts about the trip. This post is for the Traveling. Which was
neither warm nor fuzzy. And may have included me having a nervous
breakdown in the Denver airport.

Going out was… interesting. I mean, all in all, it was pretty
smooth considering. But we weren’t used to traveling at that point
and the whole business just had us frayed before we even got on the
plane, I think. We left fairly early on Wednesday morning. Kile’s
co-worker who lives near us came by and rode with us in the van down
to the airport where we unloaded our junk and the carseats and she
took the van to work with plans to leave it at our house on her way
home from work, picking up her car which was parked there. Make
sense? Everyone with me so far? Good?

The carseats… were a pain. I mean, I know we needed to have them.
But lugging them through the airport was AWFUL. I had the bruises to
show for it too! We hadn’t purchased Evie her own seat (since she can
qualify as a free “lap child”) but were able to score her a seat on
the plane anyhow so we brought her seat on the plane with us. And
that was hard! Pushing a stroller and carrying a carseat along with
the other carry ons was a nightmare, but then having to carry Evie
(having left the stroller at the jetway) and the carseat on the plane?
OMG. There are no words. I’m already starting to block it from my
memory, it was so bad.

And the moment the plane started moving, Evie got upset. And I’m
talking pulling back from the jetway. The stewardess finally told me
as we were taking off that I could take her out of her seat and hold
her. So I did and that chilled her out. So much that she started to
fall asleep so I put her back in her seat and that was all well and
good.

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The boys were fine and dandy and other than Liam’s propensity for
kicking the back of Evie’s seat, he did pretty well too. Harry soon
discovered that flying was pretty cool and he liked ordering soda from
the stewardess and getting packets of peanuts and cookies.

We went first to Los Angeles, which seemed counter-intuitive. But
whatever. I saw the Hollywood sign as we were landing and tried to
point it out to Harry but he couldn’t see it. We landed and felt
rather smug for surviving our first (short) flight. We didn’t have to
get off the plane because even though it was stopping, we were riding
the same flight clear through to Orlando. Or so we thought.

While chatting with a fellow passenger, we found out that our plane
was busted. Oh yes. Busted. And at first, we weren’t sure when
they’d be able to find another plane for us to use since fixing the
current one was not going to happen anytime soon. But before I could
properly figure out how to react to this, they found us a plane. And
it was at another gate! Clear across the LAX airport. Soooo… we
unstrapped the carseats and tried to book it as fast as we could to
the other gate. We were following the flight crew and they promised
to get us on board. But at the gate, the agent there was a crabby
wench and made us wait and then snapped at us and was generally rude
to everyone she spoke to. We were finally let on board and scored new
seats and all was well.

The next leg was to Phoenix and was pretty uneventful. We landed. We
took off. Blah blah blah. The kids were getting used to it by now
and this time Evie only had minor complaints. But the flight from
Phoenix to Orlando was a long one and with the bumpy ride over the
gulf (wee!) I wasn’t sure we’d EVER get there! But we did, and landed
just as the sun was going down. The Orlando airport is all kinds of
awesome and we were easily able to find baggage claim. I hung out
there, grabbing our bags, while Kile went and got our rental car. It
was when we got outside baggage claim to get into the car that I had
full understanding of the heat and humidity. And this was after the
sun had gone down. GULP.

We found directions on my iPhone and drove to my parents condo for the
night. The whole toll road thing blows my mind. They really know how
to soak the tourists, don’t they? The whole east coast does that…
do regular residents/commuters find non-toll roads to use? Or how
does that work? Cuz I can’t imagine having to deal with that on a
daily basis. Bah!

Now…

The trip home was something else entirely. I made a decision that we
would check Evie’s carseat. I simply could not comprehend trying to
deal with it again. I had been having intermittent wrist pain all
week long (a result of not knitting? I have no idea.) the carseat
would have been too much. We had more stress than usual since we were
flying Southwest and they don’t have a sweet hookup with Disney like
some of the other airlines. Other people pack up their bags on the
boat and then don’t see them until they land at home. NOT US!

Oh, and we had to get off the boat at the asscrack of dawn. We were
up at 6am, at breakfast at 6:45 and then they made it clear they
wanted us off the boat ASAP. We tried to hang around as long as we
could but ended up on transfer bus around 9am. The trip to the
airport was quick and we were there by 9:30. We got our bags up to
the check in counter only to find out… you can’t check bags if your
flight is more than four hours away from taking off. Our flight was
scheduled at 4:20 so… yeah. We rented one of those Smarte Carte
things, loaded it up (you should have seen it! WHY didn’t I take a
picture??) and headed out. The airport is basically a MALL so we had
no trouble keeping ourselves occupied for a while. Especially once we
found the rest of my family hanging out. NO one had flights that were
leaving anytime soon.

Note to self (and anyone else planning a similar vacation): DO NOT
hesitate to schedule your flight earlier in the day! 12:30/1pm would
have been PERFECT. CURSE YOU, late flight!!

After Kile finally was able to check the bulk of our baggage, we
grabbed lunch at the food court (see? MALL!) and I was finally able
to try the infamous Chik fil-A. I had a chicken sandwich that was
mighty tasty. We browsed around the shops after that, and I was
mighty tempted to buy yet MORE Disney goodies at the Disney store
there. I showed restraint but even now, I’m sorta wishing that I
hadn’t. There was the cutest Tinkerbell coffee mug!

Anyhow, after that we braved security which had a whole bunch of
people from other countries going through. More than usual, I would
say. But by that point, I was so used to people from other countries
and foreign accents that I’m surprised I even noticed. Security was a
lot smoother than in Reno, simply because we were “old pros” at that
point. We found our gate and set up camp near some electrical outlets
so we could charge up our phones some more. We said goodbye to the
remaining family members and it wasn’t long before our flight boarded.
It went a lot smoother for me without the carseat. The bad news is,
it was a very full flight and every seat was taken so there wasn’t
much room to set her down or anything.

We took off a little late because there was some weather in the area.
But nothing awful and we were able to land almost on time in Denver.
Evie didn’t sleep a wink the whole flight and was extremely wriggly.
But we managed.

I have to say right now that I have extremely negative feelings about
the Denver airport. I like Denver. I do not like Denver’s airport.
There is ALWAYS turbulence (but then, there is in Reno too), but more
than that it’s the whole layout of the airport. The wasted space, the
inefficiency, the uselessness of the second floor “waiting” area.
WTF, Denver?

This is where we realized just HOW stupid our flight schedule was. We
were on the last flight from Denver to Las Vegas, which was then
continuing to Reno. And as such, we had to wait. There was a flight
from Philadelphia that had been delayed by weather and as luck would
have it, 30 or so people from that flight were on our Vegas flight.
So… we waited. We already had a 2 1/2 hour layover (and ate at a
restaurant that turned out to be exceedingly expensive). Add on
another hour. On top of tired children and parents and we were just
ready to be home. I didn’t handle it well. I was frustrated. I fell
in the trap of counting up the hours we’d been awake, how many hours
until we could be home. It was overwhelming. Liam and Evie had had
it. Harry was exhausted. I was beyond tired. We were all just DONE.

We finally got on the plane and got up in the air. Evie fell asleep
before we even took off so she was taken care of. I still had to hold
her, which meant my arms fell asleep. But at least she slept. She
woke when we landed in Vegas, but fell asleep as we took off for Reno.
Praise be! Liam slept too, which was great. He had slept most of
the way from Orlando to Denver too so Kile made out pretty well on
that deal. Harry slept on my shoulder the majority of the time. But
as we landed in Reno, he was awake and had the biggest smile I think
I’d seen on him all week. He wanted to be up in his bed so bad and I
couldn’t blame him.

Baggage claim in Reno is notoriously slooooooooow. Harry and I waited
for bags while Kile went out to look for his co-worker who had again
graciously offered to ferry us. That was a small mercy, let me tell
you! We FINALLY got our bags and FINALLY were on our way homeward.
It was after 1am by the time we got home. I could barely see
straight. Evie was interested in a diaper change and then BED. She
was out before she hit the crib mattress. Liam complained for maybe a
minute before dropping off. Harry was dead to the world. It took
Kile and I NO time at all to fall dead asleep.

And that… as they say… is that. We made it there and back in one
piece. That, my friends, is amazing. Flying with toddlers is a pain
unlike anything else. It’s just damn lucky that this whole trip made
it SO WORTH IT. Details to follow!

Stuff you don't want to know

As referenced in this post here, I was a guest vendor on a “congo” over on Hyena Cart yesterday.  I was very excited and nervous about it.  I have my own little Hyena Cart shop, I pretty much only sell slots on my customs list and maybe the occasional stitch marker.  It doesn’t get a lot of attention and I get most of my customs from my message board pals.  I was nervous about stocking something already made.  Would anyone actually WANT it?   Or would it be a spectacular fail?

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It wasn’t a fail.  Far from it.  I’m stil in shock today.  I sold the shorts I made right away, sold both of the customs slots I stocked and the auction on the skirt I made is currently at $170.  This, quite literally, blows my mind.  Unbelievable.

***

Liam’s birthday was a RAGING success on Tuesday.  He had a great day, which I think is the best thing we could have done for him.  Liam really responds to the gift of “quality time”.   We picked up Kile from work to go to Evie’s 15 month pediatrician appointment and he took the rest of the day off.  We went to Chuck E. Cheese for lunch (which was like crack for that kid, he LOVED IT).  After, we ventured next door to Toys R Us to spend some birthday money from his grandparents.  He walked out with a ride-in toy car (that we literally have to keep out of sight in the garage or we will never get him out of it), a “Cars” pillow for his bed (that he keeps trying to cart around with him) and a couple more “Cars” cars to add to the ever-growing collection.  This was on top of all the “Cars” stuff that we got him as presents.  We did a little shopping before heading home and after playing hard for a couple hours, we all went to McDonald’s for dinner: Liam’s favorite restaurant.  Then it was home to cake and ice cream and presents.

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What a great day!  And what a lucky kid!

***

As I said, Evie had a pediatrician appointment on Tuesday.  She’s doing great and had a fabulous time ripping around the room in her diaper while we waited for the doctor.

She comes in at 50% for weight and 40% for height.  Yay for my average girl!  She did have to get a couple of shots, which she did NOT like.  And, quite frankly, they made her a Crankapotomus for the next day or two.  So far, she seems fairly genial today, so I hope that means we’re in the clear.  Whew!

***

I can’t blame any crankyness on Evie’s part on lack of sleep these days.  We got a room-darkening shade for her window this weekend.  Her room gets the bulk of the morning sun and since the sun is up at an ungodly hour these days, she was waking up rather early.  And I always got the impression that she was still tired but she would NOT go back to sleep.

With the shade up?  She is sleeping in until at least 9am EVERY DAY.  Now, this may even out after she gets used to it… but for now?  OMG, I love it.  It keeps her room a little cooler too.  The boys have a shade too, but theirs is “light-filtering” which means it doesn’t make it darker at all.  However, Liam is a fantastic sleeper and I never have to complain about him getting enough sleep or waking up too early.

I just LOVE having some time in the morning to get some things done and have peace and quiet.  I better enjoy it while I can, because who knows how long it will last!

***

I recently discovered “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” was playing on the “Gospel Music Channel”.  I didn’t even know we GOT that channel, but apparently we do.  I used to watch “Dr. Quinn” back in high school and it was something my friends and I would giggle and talk about.  We even passed notes about such subjects as “courtin’ and sparkin'”, Sully’s braid, and our dislike for Matthew’s girlfriend, Ingrid.  Good times, man.

Now, watching these episodes again, takes me RIGHT back to those days in high school and hanging out with my friends.  It’s been a wonderful walk down memory lane.  I’ve been DVRing the episodes and watching them while the kids are napping or at night after they’re in bed and Kile is playing his computer game.

Oh the memories!

***

We finally got some strollers for our trip to Florida next month (gulp!).  It’s feeling more real all the time that this trip is actually going to happen and I’m scared stiff.  I know it’s going to be loads of fun.  But the plane trip scares me.  Mostly, the fact that we’re doing a plane trip with two small children.  And that one of those children, Evie, doesn’t have her own seat booked.  So she’s on my lap.  CROSS COUNTRY.  This is not good, my friends.

The airport(s) and the plane trip are easily what I’m most nervous about.  I think once we get there, we’re all going to have a marvelous time.  I’ll have the almighty Jesus Phone (read: the iPhone) with me, so hopefully I’ll be able to post quick updates and snapshots here and there.

Oh and pray I don’t blind anyone at the pool when I wear a bathing suit with my pasty, white skin.

***

We’re getting SOD tomorrow!  SOD!!  This is HUGE!

We’ve lived in this house for over 5 years now, and just NOW are finally getting something of a landscaped backyard.  The sod will be delivered at the crack of dawn and Kile plans to get out there and lay it before it gets hot.  I sure hope he isn’t expecting me to join him.  I’ll cheer him on in spirit, as I’m sleeping soundley in my cozy, cool bed.

Seriously though, this is a great thing!  The kids will be able to run through the sprinklers at last (we’ve always been reluctant to do this before because the front yard is so exposed and the grass patch out there isn’t terribly large) (or flat).  And the dogs will have some place to crap!  SIGH.  Oh well.  The good with the bad, yes?

The next step will be to pour a cement patio (I have NO idea when this will happen, only that it’s the plan so far) and to buy some trees and plants and such to finish stuff out with.  But the grass?  That’s a huge chunk of it.

***

So that’s all I’ve got to say.  For now. Are you glad I shared?

I have a good excuse

It’s been a few days longer than I would like since I’ve posted.  But as the title to this post indicates, I have a good excuse.  Or rather, a couple good excuses.  Or maybe they’re only good excuses to me because I feel like I need an excuse.  Which may not even be the case because the two people who read this site might not even care that I haven’t posted in two days.  In which case, these aren’t excuses but rather that annoying buzz in your head, like a bad fluorescent bulb or something.

Anyhow.  Where was I?

Oh yeah!  My excuse(s):

1) The internet was kaput on Wednesday.  HIGHLY frustrating.  Apparently Charter (I love them so) (not) was upgrading their equipment or something on Wednesday morning.  The only thing is that once they were done fixing their stuff, I still had no internet because something or other had to be fiddled with on our cable modem.  And I’m pretty stupid when it comes that sort of thing.  So I had my phone.  And my knitting.  I could check email and do basic internet functions.  And YES, I suppose I could have written a post from my phone about how I had no internet or something.  But no one likes to read about people who have no internet.  It’s boring.

Oh… wait…

Ooops.

2) Wednesday night, once Kile was home and fixed the internet, was busy, busy.  We went to the drive-in to see Transformers (at last).  It was a great night ot go and we all had a good time, even though Evie went thermonuclear midway through.  She’s officially reached that age where not being in bed at bedtime is a criminal offense.  Still, I got her knocked out eventually.  And the movie was a lot of fun.

Ready for the movie

What would I do without the drive-in? I ask you!  Oh and I also did some knitting.

3)  I’ve been knitting a lot.  Surprise, surprise.  I’m going to be a “guest vendor” at CongFu on this next coming Wednesday and that means having a few items (like the one in the picture above) to stock.  I’m kinda excited about it but not really expecting anyone to want my stuff all at the same time.  Anyhow, it means I’ve been knitting any chance I get for the last several days.   Let me just say:  This is going to be some CUTE stuff.  I won’t be entirely heartbroken if they don’t sell because that means I can keep them for my own.  Muahaha!

4) Thursday was a busy day as Kile took the day off (hurray for a four day weekend!) and we got some shopping done and just basically had a good time.  It meant not a lot of time spent at home though.  I did take my knitting with me so I could work feverishly in the car.  But we went and spent the rest of one of Kile’s gift cards, raided the Carter’s outlet store, bummed around Target (I seriously want to live there), went to Kohl’s and finally found Liam some sandles, had dinner at Texas Roadhouse which I’ve decided is my new BFF and then finished up our monthly grocery shopping trip (the one I started on Tuesday) at Walmart.  WHEW.  All that and we were able to get the kids home and in bed on time.  I think that deserves a medal.

So those are my excuses and I’m sticking to it.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some knitting to do.

McDonald's in Walmart: I should have known better

Dear lady working the counter McDonald’s inside the Walmart Supercenter in Northwest Reno:

I need to give you a little background before I discuss what went down between us this afternoon.  See, I was at the store alone with my three kids.  This isn’t probably a big deal to a lot of moms, but it’s a HUGE deal to me.  I hate leaving the house with the kids by myself.  But we’re out of food at home and I pretty much had to go.  I timed the trip specifically.  So that we could be home by lunch and the kids could then get their naps.  I also timed it so I could easily grab lunch at McDonald’s before going out to the car.  We could take it home and eat it there.  Easy peasy!  This works for us because for whatever reason, the drivers-side window on our minivan won’t roll down.  So drive thru’s are difficult and there’s just no way that I’m getting all three out of the van to go into some joint just to order lunch.  I’m not THAT crazy.

That’s the beauty of a McDonald’s inside Walmart.  I can swing by on my way out to the car and grab lunch to take with us, easy.  This was my plan.

Of course, my youngest was rather unhappy.  She was tired and hungry and thirsty and just plain tired of shopping.  I was looking forward to getting her a sippy cup full of lemonade to keep her happy for the drive home.  Maybe a fry or two to tide her over.  So yes.  She was crying.  Loudly.  She was past being humored.  I had done that moments before while in the checkoutline.  We just needed to grab our lunch and go.

But it wasn’t that simple.  Becasue apparently your card swiping machine was on the fritz.  And whomever you were yelling at in the back didn’t care enough to come to the front to help you out.  And I think you got flustered.  And you asked if I had cash.  No, if I had had cash, I would have paid with that upfront.  I don’t carry cash.   I don’t like to carry cash.  It makes me feel itchy.  I prefer to deal with debit cards.  And you had several of these swipers.  But I guess if one goes down, they all go down.

Did you say nicely and apologetically to me, “I’m sorry, but I’ll have to cancel your order then”?  Nope!  You chose to holler out to whomever is in the back, “Cancel that order! She doesn’t have cash!”  This was for the benefit of everyone in the line too, who was now staring at me and my crying child.  My oldest had already taken his cup over to the fountain to get his soda and you snapped (yes, SNAPPED), “I need to have that cup back now.”  This was while I was already telling him to bring the cup up.   He got flustered and confused and started to cry.  Becasue I had promised McDonald’s as a reward for making it through shopping without makingme want to slit my wrists.  And now he had done something wrong?

Nope, but he got snapped at anyhow.  At this point, I was so angry, I didn’t stay and tell you what I wanted to say.  I left as quickly as I could, all the eyes in the vincinity upon me and my kids as we hurried, shoulders hunched, out of the store.  I wanted to ask you, “Can you please be a little nicer?  I’m just a mom.  And I’ve got my hands full.  I’m sorry I don’t have cash on me, but a LOT of people don’t have cash on them these days.  You don’t have to announce my business to a restaurant full of people.  You don’t have to snap at me and my son.  I understand if you’re feeling pressured, but that’s no excuse for losing your manners.  You are PAID to provide a service to customers.  And today, you just lost one.”

Next time, put yourself in your customers shoes.  Maybe stop for a second and see that the mom with the three kids is just trying to hold things together and maybe give her a little consideration.  Just because we’re busy doesn’t mean we need to lose our humanity.

And I will be hard pressed to step foot in that McDonald’s again.  Not as long as you’re working there (and you have been there quite a while… I see you there almost every time we’re at the store).   There are plenty of other fast food restaurants nearby that I would rather go to now.   I was HUMILIATED and shamed and I did not a damned thing wrong.  My kids were upset that they weren’t getting McDonald’s for lunch and they didn’t do a damned thing wrong either.  Thankfully, there is another McDonald’s located just across the street and we were able to go over there.  I made do with the broken window by opening the car door.  Not ideal but at that point, I had promised my kids and I was going to live up to it.  Even though all I wanted to do was go home and crawl under a rock and die.

Oh, and thanks for reinforcing why I don’t like to leave the house with the kids alone anymore.   I was starting to think my mistrust of people in general was misplaced.  Guess not!

Love and Kisses,
Marilyn

Pink Puffy Hearts

I’m feeling awful warm and snuggly about my kids these days.  Yes, they drive me to the brink of sanity DAILY, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love ’em more than my luggage.

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Liam has been talking more and more and the things that come out of his mouth just charm me again and again.   He may be an ornery turd on many occasions, but you can’t deny that he’s cute.  And when he’s requesting his third viewing of “Cars” that day… well that’s kinda cute too.  And so is the little dark look and stomped foot when I say, “No way, Jose.”  With his newfound vocabulary, we’re having a much easier time getting our requests, demands and reprimands through to him.  Sure, he doesn’t listen 100% of the time (what kid does?), but to see him actually DO something we tell him to?  Well that’s just plain awesome.

The other day, he had a little pan of cereal, much like the one pictured above.  He loves me to put his cereal for breakfast into one of the bowls or pots that came with the play kitchen he and Evie got for Christmas.  He had it over on the “counter” in the play kitchen and was having himself a little feast.  Evie determined that someone was eating something and since she is all “FOODNOMNOMNOM” these days, she booked over there to share in the fun.  Liam’s instinct was to push her aside and thwap her on the head.  I reprimanded him and then, not hoping for much, asked very nicely if he could share a little with her.. let her have a little too?  At best, I figured he might portion out a few kernels of cereal in front of her and keep the rest to himself.   But, bless his heart, he passed over the whole pan full and let her have her fill.

Of course, then she up-ended it all over the floor.  But seriously, for a minute there, I thought my heart was going to burst from pride.

He’s been doing that more and more lately.  Listening to requests of mine and acting on them.  And I’ve been very sure to praise him heavily every time he does something kind to his sister or does something for me when I ask him to.  So far, he seems to really like the praise.  So I’m hoping this means we’ll see a lot more of this “Nice Liam” in the future.

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They still don’t play that great together, but it’s coming, little by little.  Right now, they’re both sitting on the couch (sans cushions because that’s the only way Evie can climb on it is when the cushions are removed), eating some graham crackers for snack and watching “The Backyardigans”.  Evie will kick her feet and Liam will do the same and much giggling ensues.  Moments like these are golden.  They are golden because they are RARE.  More often than not, Evie has grabbed one of Liam’s cars that he has lined up so dutifully on the back of the couch (see above photo) and this earns her a shove and a thwack on the head.  She cries, I yell at Liam, lather, rinse, repeat.  So I make sure I enjoy the golden moments that much more.

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Evie is knocking on the door of 15 months and is growing up before my very eyes.  She is WALKING.  Did I mention that?  In the last week or so, she has gone from cruising around furniture, to taking a step or two here and there when she thinks no one is watching to flat out walking across the floor.  Is her technique flawless?  Oh heck no. It’s a good thing this girl is cloth diapered because otherwise her rump would be black and blue from all the times she has plopped down on it.  But seriously.  WALKING.  God help us all.

She’s also getting better with the sippy cup.  Just today, in fact, I gave her some water with a splash of apple juice in it and she has downed that sucker.  This is amazing progress.  Now if I can get her drinking milk reliably out of a sippy cup, maybe she’ll decide to wean.

That’s a slippery slope right there.  Weaning.  I’ve never nursed for this long before and I think it’s actually pretty awesome.  I’m loathe to shut the door on our nursing relationship because it will also be shutting the door on nursing altogether.  At the same time, I know it’s natural for her to grow up and away from me as a source of nutrition.  And the nursing has been taking a toll on me health-wise because DUH, I am The Lame when it comes to things like taking vitamins and making sure I keep myself healthy.  But I don’t really want it to end.  At the same time I know that it has to.

*cough* Anyhow.  Where was I?

Oh yes.  My little girl.  With her wispy-curly hair (Fuzzhead, I often call her).   And her dimpled grins.  And her tendancy to turn really, really cranky if she’s not fed on time.  This girl loves FOOD.  She will eat ANYTHING.  And a lot of it while she’s at it.  She’s Liam’s polar opposite in the eating department, which is kind of a breath of fresh air.  In fact, if anything, she’s liable to steal your food from you.  I guess if she flashes that dimple at you while she does it, that makes it okay.

Okay, well Liam is trying to sit on Evie and she’s rubbing her eyes and acting tired (a whole two and a half hours EARLY!) so I guess the golden moment is over.  Time to return to reality.  Thanks for joining me on this rose-colored love-fest though!

Hard at work or hardly workin'?

It’s a weekend of much activity around these parts.  Kile’s parents came to town on Thursday.  Kile took yesterday off and much preparation for much work was done.  It involved trips to Lowes and Home Depot and even Walmart.   The Walmart trip was to pick out a swingset which I apparently needed to be there for even though the extent of my contribution was, “Yeah… that one.”

Kile’s parents have given us a great gift for Kile’s birthday this year: a backyard.  See, we’ve always had a backyard but it hasn’t amounted to much.  Case in point:

Back of the House - May 24, 2004

This is what it looked like when we were about to move in (and before all the fencing was done).  Large (it’s bigger than it looks… TRUST ME).  See tiny Harry?  He was so little!  Aww…

And taken several years later:

Swamped

Pretty much exactly this except picture a lot more weeds and sagebrush and a lot less fence.  And, at the moment, a little less water.

Kile is digging trenches for a sprinkler system, the first step towards some GRASS.  WOOT!  It’ll be just like a REAL backyard!  He’s got the pipe and valves and sprinkler heads and all that jazz.

Impressive trench

Please pardon the crappy cell-phone-ishness of it all.  But you get hte idea.  Lots of dirt.  And pipes.  And dirt.  (and a dead tree) Did I mention the weeds?

My in laws, on the other hand, are working on the swing set.  We got a real nice one.  And I’m forever grateful for them getting it for us and putting it together.  It looks like a major pain in the ass.

Operation: Swingset

Thank goodness they had the foresight to bring along that shade-awning.  Not for the sun but for the RAIN.  Because it’s June in Nevada.  Apparently RAIN is the weather of choice.  I’ve lived here for longer than I care to admit and apparently this is news to me.  See more of the trenches?  That’s where the sprinkler pipes are going.  Wee!  See my oldest so enthusiastically helping his grandparents hold up the structure while they drill it?  We keep telling him he’ll enjoy the end result.  I don’t know if he believes us or not.

And where have I been during all this?  Inside.  I’ve been on “childcare duty”.  It’s been one of those days where one goes down for a nap and the other is up.  Since there’s not much to do out there with one or two small children (hence the idea for this whole project in the first place), we’ve stayed inside.  At least I’ve gotten some knitting done.

So that’s the hap in these parts.  Anyone else out there having a more interesting weekend? Lay it on me!

Crybaby Girl

Evie is just darling.  Are ya all sick of me saying that yet?  But lord in heaven, it’s true.

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Having a girl is so different from having a boy.  And I know this isn’t generally true.  Believe me, I do.  But I do know that Evie’s temperment is much much different than either of the boys. Her reactions to things is different.  The way she relates with us is different.  And after many years of boys, it’s kind of a nice change.  And not that I don’t still appreciate the way I relate with my boys.  But it’s just different.  Can I say different again?  DIFFERENT.

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She’s very sensitive to chaotic situations.  Liam LOVES to take advantage of this.  If he suspects that Evie is playing too calmly and quietly by herself, he will go out of his way and thwack her on the head or knock her down or take whatever toy she’s playing with.  Just so he can hear her cry.  Her abject misery is a delight to him.  And, frankly, sometimes I think he finds her reactions so charming because he just doesn’t understand them at all.  Because she is 100% different than he is.   Pissing Evie off is one of Liam’s chief pastimes.

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And sometimes Evie will dissolve and no one will know quite why.  She’ll be playing contentedly and then the next thing we know, she’s in tears.

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The poor dear.  But you gotta admit.  It’s kind of cute.  She has completely stereotypical crying fits too.  Complete with the rubbing eyes and heaving chest and hiccups afterward.  It all just makes me want to nom on her even more.  Because OMG, baby is so DELICIOUS!

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Not that my boys don’t cry.  But it’s different.  Liam, when in a temper fit (which his temper fits are completely adorable because he is wee and hard to take serious), he tends to wail as loud as possible and throw himself on the ground.  He might even add a stomp for good measure.  Harry will curl in a ball and/or remove himself entirely from your presence.  Evie?  She becomes utterly woebegone.  She knows exactly how to trigger your sympathy reflex so you’ll drop your camera and run over to scoop her up and kiss her forehead while she heaves shakey sighs.

OMG, I love that girl.

If I didn't post yesterday, it's because I was do damn glad it was a Friday

I made it to the weekend!  I tell you, there were several moments this last week where I wasn’t sure if I would or not.  It was touch and go for a while there.  I worried that I might just melt away into a puddle of nothing from the stress, pressure and angst of it all.

Oh yes.  There was angst.

I did end up going to Walmart with the kids yesterday morning.  I met my friend J there with her son.  We were both in dire need of some quality adult interaction.  And for the most part, the shopping trip went well.  Harry pushed the cart with Liam in it while I pushed the cart with Evie in it.  The kids weren’t too ill-behaved (though Harry did get tired halfway through and kept moaning about how tired and thirsty he was… you know how nine year olds are).  I started to feel a little cocky about the whole thing.

And then, I got to the checkout and got all my stuff on the conveyor belt and was all ready to pay as soon as she finished scanning when… I realized I didn’t have my purse.

GAH.

I didn’t even know if it was out in the van or not.  I didn’t remember putting it in the van.  But then, maybe I never took it out of the van from the last time I left the house.  And I thought there might be a check book in the glove compartment even if my purse wasn’t there.  So hastily asked my friend to keep an eye on the kids, told the checkout lady that I’d be back in a second and ran out to the van.

Yes.  I ran.  It wasn’t pretty.

But praise the skies above, my purse was sitting there on the floor of the van.  Hallelujah!  It’s a miracle!

I ran back (again with the ugliness) and proceeded to have a heart attack while the checkout lady finished ringing me up.

And even then, that probably wasn’t near as difficult as lunch at McDonalds was.  Despite my promise not to, we ate at the restaurant which is the one inside that particular Walmart since the notion leaving and buckling kids in and driving across the street for basically the same food left a lot to be desired.  And this is where I truly missed our “dual parenting” system.  We generally get the kids in their high chairs and situated and then I sit at the table with them while Kile orders the food, gets the drinks, brings the food to the table, etc and so forth.  But without him there, I had to do it myself.  And that kinda blew.  But we managed.  And lunch was had by all.

Then I came home and died.

Liam napped while Evie who had drifted off in the car simply REFUSED to nap.  But whatever.

The moral of the story?  I’m never leaving the house again.

Okay, that’s probably a little overly dramatic.  I’m sure I’ll leave the house again at some point.  You know, when they’re teenagers.

Coffee is the nectar of the gods

I had a heck of a time waking up this morning.  My body was sure enjoying sleeping and wanted to keep doing just that.  And I realized that, hey, I never heard Evie cry last night!

Score.

The night weaning is a slow process, two steps forward and one step back… but it gets there eventually.  I have no idea when Evie will wean full stop.  I imagine she’s gotta get the hang of drinking out of a cup first.  That would probably help.  And I will admit that I haven’t pushed it as I probably should be doing.

But then, she’s my last.  And this is the last time I’ll nurse a baby.  And you’ll have to excuse me if I’m not in a huge hurry to put this all behind me.  I will stop short of nursing her in preschool, I promise.

Anyhow, here I sit, sipping a cup of coffee and reading through my message board and checking everyone’s status on Facebook.  “Sid the Science Kid” is blathering on about germs in the background and Evie is playing with one of Liam’s trucks while Liam arranges a line of cars on the back of the couch.

The garbage man has picked up the trash for the week but the recycling is sitting out, waiting for it’s turn.  I have a knitting project half done sitting on my lap and many projects piling up behind it.  I’m busy busy busy with the knitting and I love every minute of it.  I’m looking forward to my next project which will include many colors of stripes.  It will be both fun and a challenge.

The dogs are snoozing on a pile of blankets on the couch.  My thoughts are drifting to tonight and the “Lost” season finale that will assuredly knock my socks off.  I’m both looking forward to it and dreading it because it means no “Lost” until next winter.  BUMMER.

Liam is upset about something and I have no idea what.  He started crying while he was playing and is looking at me to fix it.  If only I knew what “it” was.  “Super Why” coming on the television seems to have distracted him for the moment.  Evie gnaws on a toy headset.  This coffee tastes damned good.

It’s a Wednesday.  Half the week done, half the week to go. I’m praying for an easy day today.  And now I’m off to change a diaper (that was Liam’s problem, turns out).