Tuesday, December 15, 2015

My Grandma Died Today

The memories of my childhood look more like a collage than a novel. Pieces floating around rather than connected thoughts and timelines.  Sensations.  Smells.  Sounds.  Flashes of clear imagery amidst hazy details.  I remember specific events, sure, but many other memories are simply pieces of events that occurred more than once.  They flow together and yet aren't a congruent tale.   Most of it feels happy and nostalgic.  I had it pretty good I think.

Grandpa Don holding my little sister.  Me with Grandma Chris, sticking my tongue out for some juvenile reason.
 Here is what I remember about my Grandma Christine:

The warm happy feeling of being at the farm and coming down the stairs to the smell of egg pancakes.  Grandpa and Grandpa at the table playing rummy or gin.  Envelopes that used to contain bills long since paid, now used as score cards for their games.  The slant of the handwriting written in thick pencil.  The taste of the homemade jam.  The sound of the old rotary phone. The puffs of dust as we ran down the road so we could be spun around on the wagon wheel type mailbox.

High School Graduation (the hair is still fluffy)
I remember the feel of Grandma's fluffy hair as we brushed it with the world's oldest plastic hairbrushes.  The wrinkled skin on her hands.  The smell of dust and dirt and farm as we rode in the pickup.  The feel of being squished between two of my favorite people as we drove to church, or town or antiquing.  The taste of the fish and chips from Spuds whenever they drove to our side of the mountains.  The smell of Grandma's coffee that she drank like water throughout the day in a giant metal thermos.

Picking peaches, canning peaches, eating peaches.  Eating canned peaches literally every time we were at the farm because Grandma's canned peaches made the world a better place.  So did eggnog with sprite and orange juice in blue thumbprint depression glasses.

The excitement of Christmas at Grandma and Grandpa's house.  Hearing actual sleighbells and knowing Santa was coming.  Sometimes sleeping in the cold parlor on Christmas Eve.  The rattle of the parlor's french doors and their ancient glass that sometimes broke.  The rocker glider with the fascinating mechanics. The summer we sat on the porch eating beets that I hated and flinging them at the side of the house to see them leave bright purple streaks on white painted wood.  Never getting in trouble for it. The nervousness I felt when I told Grandma I wet the bed one night during the summer before middle school only to have her make no big deal of it.

Me and Grandma at the Lake (I can't find the making out picture)
Summers at the lake.  Icy cold water and walks to the store for strawberry licorice Nibs and Charleston Chews.  Zucchini casserole.  Grandma teaching me how to make it and telling me her recipe was better than her sister's because she used more bacon.  The way she never used measuring cups and though was an excellent cook, her confession at not liking it.  "I don't actually like to cook, Stephanie.  I just like to eat."  She and grandpa making out in the kitchen while I took a picture so Grandpa's face wasn't in the photograph.

Grandma with Baby Serena
Dusty images on the wall of long past relatives I would never meet.  Grandma telling me their stories with amazing detail and dates all pulled from memory. Photographs of all the grandchildren pinned up to homemade bulletin board made just for the purpose of grandchildren school pictures.  Calling Grandma from college to get the recipe for Norwegian Sweet Soup and her telling me just the kind of tapioca balls I needed.  Calling her for advice on how to can peaches or make egg pancakes.  Grandma telling me the best kind of pectin to make freezer jam.    Never really wanting to call her on the phone because she didn't really like to talk that much and I never quite knew what to say because I'm not a phone person.  Feeling badly about that.

The love she and Grandpa shared.  Him telling everyone he was married 50 years to the wrong woman and her scolding him while they both laughed.  Grandma joking about Grandpa helping her in the shower after a surgery just because he wanted to see her naked. The shudders and giggles from the teenage grandchildren.  The light that left her eyes when Grandpa Don went home to Jesus more than a decade before she did.  The Thanksgiving in Utah after he died when she celebrated with my little family in a random house that my sister in laws lived in with their weird roommates.

The joy on her face each time she held one of my babies.  The snuggles she gave each one of her great grandchildren.  The sparkle in her eyes as she watched these precious little ones play and grow.  My children may not have known her well, but she LOVED them.

The last time I saw her.  A year and a half ago at the lake cabin where she confessed to everyone she was 90, when she was in fact a decade younger.  I administered her insulin for her diabetes for two days while she assured me I was doing it correctly before realizing on the third day, I had not been giving her insulin at all because I was in fact not doing it correctly.  Her moments of lucidity in the morning while she drank her coffee before she took about a gagillion pills and a fog came over her.  Reminding her to pee before she went to bed so she wouldn't wet it.  Taking care of her wet sheets as she once did mine and not making a big deal of it.  The far off look she had as she watched her crazy young posterity play in the same place her children did.  The guilt and sadness we all felt knowing it would be her last time at the lake with us because it was so much work and stress to care for her.

Grandma with my three girls
I have been reflecting on Grandma's legacy today as well as my own.  I have been asking myself what am I leaving behind that my children will remember with fond warm feelings?  What will my future grandchildren love me for the most?  I don't remember many physical gifts from my childhood.  I don't remember caring that the house wasn't clean (and I know at the farm it often wasn't.)  I cherish and remember the feelings and the moments.  The hugs and the card games and the egg pancakes.  The time spent together cooking in the kitchen or snuggling on the couch during a movie. All the love.  I know it wasn't always roses and sunshine, but the good times still stand out to me the most and I hold onto those.  As I think about these things I realize I need to slow down and stop stressing about things that don't matter.  Forget about the backpacks in the entryway. Forget about the clutter in the garage and the clothes on the floor.   I need to make more cookies with my children and care less about the mess and more about the memories.  

A bit blurry, but look how happy!  Elsa, Mom and Grandma

I hope to do better and to be better and to honor her legacy.  My grandmother, Ellen Christine Filan Heilsberg was a simple farm wife who raised four children and drove school bus part time in a small town.  She didn't have a fancy or important title but she knew what was important.  She loved Jesus and her family and she did her best to do right by them. She canned the world's best peaches and made fantastic zucchini casserole.  She wasn't glamorous but she was beautiful.  She was the kind of beautiful that we need more of in this world.  I will miss her, but I will not forget her and I will hold tight to the wonderful times we had together as I go out and try to replicate it with my children the best I can.  

I love you Grandma, I hope heaven has all the kinds of food you like and that you don't have to cook them yourself.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Bad Mom

I yelled at my kids today.  The rage yell.  The yell they didn't deserve because I was crazy hormonal and the four year old had pooped in her pants yet again in spite of me putting her on the toilet several times today and reminding her and bribing her with stickers and technology.  I didn't even yell at the four year old, I just put a diaper on her and sent her to bed. I yelled at everybody else because the house was a mess and I was tired and I am tired of the poop.

And I just went total psycho witch and said things no kid should hear their mom say.

Then I went in my bedroom closet and asked God to just make it stop.  I asked him to make me stop having PMS ever and I asked him to make the four year old start pooping where she should.  Then I laid on my bed staring off into space feeling like a bad mom.

The twelve year old (my only son) comes in my room and says, "Mom, I know you are having a bad day, but I read an article that says your pets can help you with stress." I said thank you and apologized for yelling.  He pushed the cat towards me and left.

I called my ten year old daughter in (who I yelled at the most and who is most affected by that kind of thing) and she laid on my stomach and we hugged.  I asked her if she thought I was a bad mom.

"Sometimes you are," she said.  "Right now you are a good mom."  I told her I was sorry.

The twelve year old came back and said, "Mom, I know you are having a bad day, but I want you to know that I love you.  Even when you yell at us, I still love you.  I just wanted you to know and I hope you start having a better day soon."

"You're a good son," I said.

"I know," he replied.

I called the eight year old in and asked her if she was doing her piano homework.  She said she was, and she left.

The naughty sauce preschooler comes in my room.  I am lying on my back staring at the ceiling and she climbs on me and gives me a hug.  I tell her she needs to start using the potty for pooping.  She gives me a bunch of adorable reasons for why she didn't use it and then as I give her another hug, I feel that she has no diaper or anything on her bottom.  Which of course was funny to me, and then justified by more four year old nonsense from her.  Her diaper was discarded on her bedroom floor.

The kids ate most of the blueberries I bought at Costco today, but when I went downstairs I found this:
(I had eaten a few before the picture, but there still weren't many left)

Sometimes I feel like a bad mom.  Sometimes I probably am a bad mom. Sometimes I feel like I am not the right mom for my kids, like someone else would be a better fit for them and their personal struggles and their shenanigans.  Sometimes I worry that I have dropped all the balls and am failing drastically and it's never going to work out for them to grow into good people and functional adults.  I want them to grow up to be kind and considerate and not to have their inner negative voice sound like my voice (I want to strangle whoever started that internet meme...) But today, after feeling like such a failure and feeling like such a bad mom, I realized, I must be doing something right to have kids like these.  I may not always feel like the right mom for them, but today they were the right kids for ME.  

I'm pretty sure my four year old will poop in her pants again, fairly certain the PMS isn't going away, and try as I will, I will probably yell again.  I will keep wiping the bums, making mistakes and apologies and will continue to pick up all the pieces and try to put them together again.  I am fairly certain my kids will turn out just fine without too much emotional scarring and am hopeful that my good mom days will outnumber my bad mom days.  As long as these people keep saving the last of the blueberries for me on the bad days, I think we will all get along just fine.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Pneumonia. I has it.

Sometimes I think God lets me get sick so that I can spend so much time being useless that I vow not to waste precious time like that when I an well.  Maybe it is so I can see how good my husband is, to give Charming an opportunity to serve and so I can feel how much he loves me.  So I can be reminded that this man is wonderful and committed and just right for me.  I know being sick allows others the opportunity to serve our family and it leaves me in awe of the loving community I am a part of.  I think being vulnerable and needy ignites a greater compassion for others-- for those who are chronically ill or housebound or for anyone who might get a similar illness in the future.  With this compassion and empathy I can then serve others in a greater capacity.

I am on day 3 of being home sick with officially-diagnosed-pneumonia.  I'm on day 8 of actually being sick, and while I am feeling better today, this is definitely the sickest I have been in my life.  I should probably count myself fortunate that I don't get sick like this often.  I am grateful I don't have a chronic illness or disease.  I am grateful for my generally good health.  I am grateful this morning that I no longer have body aches and that I slept relatively well last night.

My wonderful friends, neighbors and church family have hooked me up with dinners this week and care for the Squish for a couple hours each day so I can rest. I feel very cared for.

And today I am super lonely.

So I'm blogging about pneumonia! (Sick people need to share their experiences)

I think like most illnesses, pneumonia can manifest itself a little differently for each person, so here's how it happened to me:

Day 1: Wednesday.  Little dry cough.  I start taking my essential oils and Emergen-C

Day 2: Thanksgiving!  We drive to Spokane. I've got cough drops and I try not to cough on everyone. I feel really worn out by about 5 pm.  Starting to get little body aches around my knees. Sweat profusely and have a terrible headache all night long.

Day 3: Ibuprofren helped headache.  Feeling ok.  Still dry coughing, knees still bothering me.  We go to the movies, and then sushi lunch.  I buy cough syrup and sleeping meds to try and get some rest.  Have a night of sweats and chills.

Day 4: Saturday.  Still coughing.  Still doing okay, but not awesome.  It is snowing outside and we take an excursion where we walk around town doing some shopping.   I get soooo cold that I jump into bed as soon as we get home and fall asleep.  I wake up feeling so terrible I am walking in kind of a stupor.  Body feels weak.  My mom takes my temperature and it is 103.  The more I cough, the more my head just throbs.  Knee aches have moved into my upper legs.  I'm getting chills and moments of being intensely hot. I start taking tylenol with my ibuprofren.  When I start to perk up, Charming reminds me to take it easy as it is just the medicine talking.  Another night of coughing, sweats and chills.

Day 5: Sunday.  Drive home from Spokane.  (I say drive, but Charming did all the driving, I just rode along).  I feel awful, but the drive is bearable.  Chills.  Fever.  Pain.  I just keep taking my cough drops and pain meds.  We get home pretty uneventfully with good time.  I start googling the differences between flu, cold and pneumonia.  Flu comes suddenly, this was definitely gradual.  Colds have nasal congestion and I have none.  Pneumonia makes it hard to breathe-- this is not the case.  I take a bath to feel better but get so cold when I get out, I jump straight into bed. I wake up not wanting to move or go anywhere.  My heart is racing, the pain in my head and body is so intense and I am so, so so hot, but I know if I take the covers off I will freeze.   I always feel worse after a nap.  I tell Charming I want to see a doctor right now because I just feel so intensely sick and I just want to get some rest.  We get a sitter for the kids and drive to the ER.  They hook me up to an IV, test me for flu virus (sticks up my nose, blech!) and do a chest x-ray.  I fluctuate in between needing more blankets and wanting no blankets at all. We are there for nearly 5 hours.  Not the flu.  Definitely pneumonia.  Should be not contagious after 48 hours, will probably feel crappy for a week they say. My elevated heart rate has the doctor worried, but after 4 bags of fluid and a couple rounds of antibiotics, they let me go home.  We drive to the 24 hour pharmacy get the magic cough syrup (which makes me sleep deeply but wakes me up with intense coughing and phlegm) and we go home to bed.  More sweats and chills.

Day 6-8.  My friends are amazing and they hooked me up with dinners and childcare and sweet surprises like soup and wassail.  Charming stayed home the first day and Squish was gone all day yesterday so I could rest.  I am not going to bore you with all the recovery details except to say: the body aches went away first and then the temperature started to better regulate.  Yesterday my headache was gone.  Today it has reappeared.  I am feeling weak, but mostly okay until I start to cough.  I don't feel up to much.  But I also don't feel in the pits of sickness despair-- mostly I feel regular sick.  I have never ever felt trouble breathing or had chest pain.  Not all people with pneumonia do, apparently.

The Squish is at someone's house this morning and I am feeling alone.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The pain of kids not having friends

Middle school is coming.  This is completely uncharted territory for me as a parent and I am both excited and terrified.  The part I am least prepared for, the part I fear the most is the emotional/social drama.  I got a little taste of it tonight and it's breaking my heart.

Let's revisit my own late elementary/middle school experience shall we?

I don't remember having a lot of friends when I was Engineer's age.  I know I had a few, I definitely had a few kids that I hung out with and went to sleepovers occasionally, but I can remember playing at recess by myself a lot.  Maybe that was just an introvert thing, maybe it was a friends thing, or maybe it was just me not wanting to play what other people were playing.

I can remember good times with friends and I can remember hurtful times with friends.  I called a friend for a play date once in the third or fourth grade and I could hear her tell her mom she didn't want to play with me.  When I was in fifth or sixth grade, I asked some of my little girl friends if they thought I was pretty and they said, "no, not really."  Kids are kind of mean  but I don't think it's always intentional so much as it is thoughtlessness.

I entered seventh grade (the start of junior high for me) fairly alone.  My one good friend had moved to another school and even though I knew some of the kids, I didn't feel particularly close to anyone.  I put on a brave face and went forward.  Over time, I developed some friendships, some that panned out, some that didn't.  Some that decided to ditch me for no good reason. (I remember an incident where a bunch of them had written me a nasty letter, that some kind soul deemed to mean to ever deliver to me and I never read it thank goodness, but was nevertheless scarred.) That first year was super rough, but I survived.  By the time I got to high school, I felt like I had some friends, I was part of a group, but then I made completely new ones and found my niche in theater and drama.  

I would say I didn't have true friends until the end of middle school and into high school.

My sweet little Engineer is 11 years old.  For most of his elementary school days he has played with girls, because he wasn't into sports and he is a sensitive guy who cries a lot and has three sisters.  He's at this point now where girls are STUPID.  And not like he thinks girls are stupid, but the girls are at the age where they start being mean and catty and I think they are growing tired of my son and his quirks and they would rather hang out only with girls so they can talk about boys and makeup and periods and training bras and stuff.  They aren't being very nice to him.

The boys his age are MACHO.  They like sports and sports and SPORTS.  Engineer does not like sports.  He likes video games and Star Wars and music.  He is also very sensitive and introverted and quirky and he overreacts and he cries a bit.

Something set him off tonight and he was just SOBBING in his room.

"I think there is something wrong with me that makes me cry all the time," he says and he follows it up with:
"Our school theme song is a LIE.  It says 'Everyone here cares about me' but I feel like no one cares about me at all."

Heart sufficiently broken.

Being a parent really is like having a piece of your heart walking around outside of you.  He is going to be in middle school in 6 months, walking around isolated on the inside and not knowing how to make friends.  Kids are going to be mean to him and there is nothing I can do to stop it or make them befriend him.  All I can do is pack him up and send him out there and hope he survives it.  I can dry his tears and tell him how great I think he is and then go cry and blog about my own broken heart.

I never knew when I left junior high that I would have to experience it all over again (4 times, lucky me) and Engineer hasn't even gone yet!

Parenting is tough.  There have been some other tough things, and some scary things and some frustrating things I have been through. But I would have to say watching my kids struggle with friends and feelings of loneliness is so much more difficult than I would have ever thought it to be.  I feel so helpless and so low and it hurts.

I sort of believe he will come out on the other side of this with friends and a social group where he can find his place.  I am trying to look ahead with faith, but really, I want a fast forward button.  And some really good chocolate and some kleenex.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Disneyland Day 3

Day 3 was all about Regular Disneyland.  (Can't we just call it Magic Kingdom like Florida does?)

Armed with our plan, we arrived at 8:30 and went to gate 13.  For some reason, this really is a magical entrance gate with minimal line.  I was sort of shocked it worked.

We knew we were going to see the Princesses First.  I know how the waits can be for these ladies, so we got there straightaway and didn't wait more than ten minutes to see the Royalty.  So worth it.  Yes I teared up over this stuff also.  The first two princesses, Ariel and Aurora had these very sweet calm voices.  They called all my girls princess and Squish fell in love with them.  She would have hugged Aurora all day I think.  Cinderella was nice also, just not as "huggy."  Prepare for an onslaught of Princess Pictures!

See the love?

Spider shows Aurora her Disney manicure

All the girls

Like a little Baby Ariel

And yes, I made my girls wear their Princess Pajamas to meet the princesses.  I was totally that mom.  And yes, Sugar Bean immediately changed her clothes when we were done.

After the Princesses, it was not even 10:15.  Time to head over to Jedi Training Academy.  It was super important to me that Engineer be picked for Jedi training.  I know my son well, and even though he is 11, I knew if he wasn't picked to be a padawan that there would be more tears than anyone could handle.  So I had him wear his slightly sheer and ill-fitting Luke Skywalker pajamas and made sure we were there early and front and center.  It turns out he probably would have been picked anyway, since it wasn't super busy.  I think they picked all the kids that wanted to go up (and even some who didn't).  

But he looked wicked awesome.

Like a mini-Skywalker

Bean also got in on the action:

Probably my favorite moment of the Jedi Training was when the Storm Troopers start coming down the walkway.  All the little children run to the corner and for a brief moment Engineer stayed where he was, light saber at the ready, like he was ready to rumble with the baddies.  It was sort of priceless to me though I am sure no one else noticed.

Per the plan, we then went over to Fantasyland and went on all of those rides over there.

Some of my kids tried to pull the sword from the stone:
That's my Prince Charming right there

If only cuteness was all that was needed to pull the sword out.

After Fantasyland we got lunch!  We ate lunch at the Plaza Inn.  Mousesavers.com recommended the chicken as meal to potentially split as there are 3 big pieces of fried chicken on a plate as well as mashed potatoes, green beans and a roll.  We actually just ordered 2 of the chicken for the 6 of us ($30 for lunch, yay!) and while it was not a ton of food, it felt relatively healthy and was enough to satisfy.  It tasted good too! The hungrier kids were able to finish off what the Squish didn't eat.

Besides, we were planning on Dole Pineapple Whips at the Tiki Room...

But the freaking Tiki Bar was being remodeled!  We watched the Tiki Room show sans pineapple whips.  Only one kid was sad at the end, but that was because she was expecting some kind of ride.  Charming and I were just glad that the Disneyland Tiki Room doesn't have Iago from Aladdin.  

We followed it up with some Indiana Jones (Spider covered her eyes the whole time), Jungle Cruise and Pirates of the Carribbean.  Squish slept through Pirates as I may recall and thankfully we brought her blanket to the park with us which was a great comfort to the overstimulated toddler.

After that we decided to head back to California Adventure to catch the 5:15 Pixar's Play Parade which we had missed the other days we were at DCA.  The kids and I did Turtle Talk with Crush while Charming scored us half of a bench on the main street to watch the parade.  The Parade was cute and Squish woke up at the very end of it.  We went to Bugs Land for a few more rides and then went back to the hotel for some dinner.

I just want to say the Park Hopper tickets were great to have.  Because California Adventure is just right across from Disneyland, hopping in between parks for a parade or just because is so easy.  Totally worth the extra money.  I wouldn't get park hoppers at Disney World because they cost so much more, but also, transportation between parks is so time consuming you miss a lot of time in the park.  Park Hopper at Disneyland is awesome.

Disneyland Day 2

Day 2!

We went to Disneyland in January.  January means less crowds, but it also means less rides are open and the hours are more limited.  Disneyland while we were visiting, didn't open until 10 am and closed at 8 pm during the week.  This meant there were less hours we could physically be at the park, but it also meant we didn't have to get up super early to be there before the park opened.

We got up, ate the hotel's hot breakfast (as a side note, what's the point of staying at a hotel if breakfast is not provided?) and I took a couple of kids across the street to Target to pick up a few more snacks and sunglasses.  I actually left the Target without having bought myself sunglasses and had to turn around and go back!  I also bought bobby pins (Bean wanted hair buns) and blister bandaids since my toes were already feeling funny.

Look at the style that resulted from our Target Run:
(She wanted Minnie Mouse Ears Hair)

Before leaving the hotel for Day 2 at the parks we customized a plan for the day from TouringPlans.com and copied it down onto a piece of paper.  Each kid had a pouch with snacks and we put a smaller bag in our stroller for sunscreen and larger snacks like apples.  (ooh, we bought those at Target too).  We did not bring Squish's blanket which turned out to be a wrong choice.

It is highly recommended by the Unofficial guide/touringplans people that you get to the parks 40 minutes before opening.  Our shuttle times could only get us there about 30 minutes before hand and that worked out fine at this slow time of year.  Charming didn't want to wait around, but it is definitely good if you are close to the front of the ropes when they officially open the parks.

So Day 2 we decided on California Adventure again.  I specifically picked days to go to certain parks based on whether they were offering early admission to other people.  DCA does not offer early admission on Tuesdays, so we felt good to go.  We got there at 9:30 and made sure someone took our picture in our matching outfits:
Laugh all you want, we NEVER lost each other.

Following our Touring Plan we went on Soaring Over California first.  There was some kind of technical difficulty at first so we stood in line for longer than we should have and we almost got out of the line to get fastpasses and come back later, but it started moving and it worked out.  I enjoyed this ride, but would probably not be sad if I never did it again.  It was cool, but not so-cool-I-want-to-ride-it-all-the-time cool.  We did rider swap on this ride also.

If I had thought about it, I would have given all the tickets to Charming so he could get us decent fastpasses for World of Color while we rode the ride.  For some reason, I thought that the World of Color FastPass booth didn't open until later and when we did get Fastpasses, we got the blue section and apparently Yellow is the section you want.  (Well, I guess what I you really want are the paid seats, but I wasn't going to pay for that).  Anyway, while Charming rode the ride with Bean, I went and got fastpasses and also watched the Squish completely meltdown for no apparent reason.  Crying that she wanted her blanket, she was barely comforted with the candy I bought at Target.  That was fairly awful.

Next stop Paradise Pier!  We hit the Little Mermaid Ride (Squish Loved it) while Charming took the big kids on the Silly Symphony Swings.  When they came back we rode it again!  We did Toy Story Mania and loved it even though we waited in line for 30 minutes.

Charming and Engineer and Serena decided to then ride the Grizzly River Run, with me of course forgetting to let them know the ponchos were in the stroller.  Engineer had his poncho, and stayed dry, but no one else did.  Charming's biggest beef was that his shoes got wet because water shoots up from the bottom.  Put plastic bags on your feet I guess!  (Unofficial Guide does suggest this).  Spider, Squish and I  rode Triton's Carousel.

Can I just say how much I like Paradise Pier?  I just love the feel of it.  I love the giant Mickey Mouse Ferris Wheel (even though I refused to go on it) and the pond thing and yeah, I like that place.  I will say, California Adventure became my favorite park while we were there.  On the way out from Paradise Pier we met Donald Duck.  Enter second time little tears came to my eyes:

She is so freaking cute!

We then easily spotted (matching clothes!) Charming and crew as we met up at the Monsters Inc Ride.  We did the Muppet's show where Bean lost her sunglasses and then picked a lunch destination.

For lunch we ate at the San Francisco style restaurant where Charming and I ate our lunch out of sourdough bread bowls.  Charming had soup and I had a pretty good Chinese Chicken salad.  Bean got a kids meal and we ordered the toddler mac and cheese for our other three kids.  It was not enough macaroni and cheese for the 11 year old or the 7 year old (we were warned and so were they), but fortunately, Squish only wanted to drink chocolate milk (again) and eat the applesauce, so we gave her mac to the still-hungry children.  This restaurant didn't offer a lot of kid's meals that appealed to my kids (I think they have a pb &j option but Bean is allergic and one other sandwhich choice and the toddler mac), but in general, I am impressed with the Disney kid's meals.  They always include a drink and a couple of healthy sides so for $6-$7 for a kid's meal a good amount is included and it's not much more than a happy meal and McDonalds.

After lunch we did the Disney Junior Live on Stage show and the Animation academy where we all drew some fairly poor Agent P's from Phineas and Ferb.  I think we must have gone back to Bugs Land and done a few things also.  I know we got ice cream and apple freezes at the Cozy Cone.

This was the day that Squish started getting crabby and wanted her blanket.  When I suggested we go back to the hotel to get it (the implied message being a nap) she said, "I don't want to go back to the hotel, I want to sleep in my stroller," and promptly passed out.

With Squish asleep we decided to head over to regular Disneyland.  Charming did Matterhorn with the kids in the single rider line while I chatted with my sister on the phone.  They rode the teacups and got in line for Storybook boats also since we missed each other when they got off the ride.

We waited in the line for storybook boats for freaking ever.  I did bump into a friend from college days that I hadn't kept in touch with so that was fun and super random. The storybook canal boats feature miniaturized villages and places from Disney movies.  I had a good chuckle when the regular sized ducks roamed through these tiny landscapes.  Giant Ducks are terrorizing the Village!

We headed back to the hotel that night around 6, ate some bland-ish spaghetti and meatballs and got ready for bed.  Our hotel did offer free dinner, as I mentioned before and while it was never gourmet, it was readily scarfed down by my kids.  I swear they ate more of that free dinner then they would have eaten of expensive dinner we could have purchased somewhere else.  This made the free dinner worth it to me.

Oh I should add, I decided to wash a bunch of clothes in the top loading washer at the hotel and our newly tie-dyed shirts colored many of our white things pink!  Yay Vacation!

Disneyland, DAY 1

We did something kind of crazy.  We woke up at 5:30 in the morning to go to the airport, were on the plane at 8:30 am, and landed in Anaheim around 11:30.  We checked into our hotel (early) around 12:30.  Our hotel offered its own Disney Shuttle (we still had to pay for it, but it was about the same cost as ART) and we were in our room less than 30 minutes before we decided to head straight for the parks.  By 2:00 we were in California Adventure.

I had planned it that way.  I planned to jump off the airplane and head straight to Disney.  It was one of those ideas that seemed-like-a-good-idea-at the time, but by the time I got to the hotel wasn't so sure.  I was pretty tired from the travel (and the early wake-up), but felt it important to keep with the plan.  It ended up working out really well.

Monday afternoon at California Adventure turned out to be the perfect crowd level for us.  All of the fastpasses for Radiator Springs were gone, of course, but the lady at the fast pass machine let us know that we could use the single rider line for a shorter wait.  I knew the ride was going to be closed the next day (a day we had planned to be at C.A.) and so it was important we rode it that day!

We did Bugs Land First.  No waits on anything, though these are not the most exciting rides in the park.  The Squish loved it though.  Right near BugsLand is Tower of Terror.  We headed over, (there was a ten minute wait, which was really more like 6), did Rider Swap and while some of us entered the Twilight Zone, Charming took the Squish on more Bugs Land rides.

The great thing about rider swap is you can take yourself and 2 other (it might have been 3) people back on the ride with you.  So, if I took Sugar Bean and Engineer on the ride, Charming could come back with Spider and re-take one or both kids (I swear it was both) back on the ride.  Bean went on Tower of Terror twice because she liked it so much.

We spent a good part of the rest of the day in CARSLAND.  Holy Amazing!  I loved that place.  Right out of the movie, so great.  We took the FastPass lady's advice and I grabbed Bean and got in the single rider line.  Actually, first we grabbed the rider swap necklace and then got in the single rider line.  I would say we waited less than 15 minutes, came back and gave the special rider swap fastpass ticket to Charming (who had taken the other kids on both Luigi's Flying Tires and Mater's ride.  They got in the fast pass line and I think they might have waited even longer than we had in the single rider line.  While they rode the ride, Bean, Squish and I rode the rides Charming had just been on with the other kids.
Mater's Ride

We had such good luck with the single rider/rider swap equation, we ended up riding twice.  Can I just Radiator Springs was my favorite ride of both parks?  It's classic Disney animatronics-y stuff combined with storytelling and SPEED!  There's a good reason the regular wait for this ride is an hour on slow days.

At some point we ate lunch at Flo's V-8 cafe.  It was pretty good.  I was a little shocked when I walked into the restaurant and all the servers were people and not cars, though.  I had to laugh a little at myself for thinking that.  The three big kids got kid meals and I got the pork loin and Charming got the roast beef.  Squish mostly just drank her sibling's chocolate milk.  The kids did get free buttons from the lady at the front of the restaurant.  There are a few places in Cars Land that you can get free buttons from, Flo's v-8 cafe, Filmore's fruit stand place and the clunky looking gift shop with all the license plates on it.  At the V-8 cafe and the Fruit Stand you can just ask for the button, we did have to answer questions at the Collectible's Gift Shop.

At Flo's V-8:

We didn't do much else at California Adventure that day, I am not even sure we hit Paradise Pier. Mostly Cars Land and Bugs Land.  But! Squish and I did get our picture taken with Mater:

We ended up heading back to our hotel around 5:30 so we could cash in on the free dinner that was served there.  The dinner was sort of over-cooked school cafeteria hamburgers with salad bar, but it was free, the kids ate a bunch and Charming and I piled on the salad greens.

After dinner, I ended up taking the two big girls (Bean and Spider, ages 9 and 7) back to the parks around 6:30 to go to Regular Disneyland because I had an itching for some Haunted Mansion.  Engineer insisted he would rather chill in the hotel (this was a mistake as he was later very sad) and of course Squish needed the rest.  I took the girls on Haunted Mansion (at night) and Bean loved it and Spider covered her eyes the whole time.  We did Tarzan's Treehouse (LAME) and I feel like we rode the carousel and did a Fantasyland ride, and we rode the Matterhorn (holy bumpy ride, Batman!) which was kind of fun to do at night.  We caught a tiny glimpse of the Soundsation's parade which I vowed we would see another night.

Then back to the hotel to prepare the next day's plan and sleep on relatively lumpy beds!

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Disneyland: The Preparation

So we went to Disneyland last week.  It was super awesome, and super exhausting and I want to tell you about it.

I am a super-planner, people.  I spent 5-7 hours on the internet just trying to find a hotel.  We ended up staying here:  http://www.homewoodsuitesanaheim.com/

This will probably be my most boring post.  However, I want you to know what I did to prepare!

What I did ahead of time:

*Read the Unofficial Guide Cover to Cover.  I bought it for the Kindle and was able to put it on my phone and refer to it while were in line.  

*Subscribed to Touringplans.com  and downloaded their lines app so we could know wait times for rides.  

*Booked the Hotel, Airfare and managed to find a deal on Park Hoppers from CheapTickets.com

* Made reservations at Cafe Orleans for dinner one night.  I was super excited for Monte Cristos, Pommes Frites, and Mickey Shaped Beignets.  The reservation saved us time waiting.

*Made matching shirts and bandanas.  We didn't wear them every day, but it made it easy to find each other.

*Used Henna to tattoo my kids' names and my phone number onto the inside of their arms.  The big kids refused, but Squish and Spider were forced to oblige.  Sharpie would have worked too, but henna is lighter and less blaring in your face.  Plus, we had some so why not?  We did Mickey tattoos also.

What we took:

*Fanny packs.  Super dorky, I know this.  But it is really great for the kids to have their own pack that they can keep snacks in.

*Ponchos:  One kid used it one time on the river ride at California Adventure.  He stayed dry.  Charming suggests a way to keep your feet dry.  Bags for your feet?

*I used my Amazon Prime to ship some snacks and sunscreen to the hotel.  The pouch applesauces were gone in two days, the goldfish lasted longer.  I didn't want to pay to check my bags to have sunscreen, so we shipped it.

* Each kid and adult had their own rolling suitcase.  I only packed outfits for three days even though we were going for 6, and I did laundry a couple of times.  I wanted room in the suitcases for souvenirs.  It worked out well, but my kids are 7, 9, 11 and Squish (who just turned 3, but was technically 2).  

*Squish's stroller.  She rode in style.

*Sunglasses.  The kids all had a pair, but Charming and I forgot ours, of course.

*We also took the iPad for the airplane ride and I made sure there was at least one movie.

*I tried to get the kids pumped and tell us what rides they wanted to go on, but it didn't work out well.  They didn't get into it until we got there.

What I wish we had done:

*Shipped more snacks.  We ended up going to Target and buying more different things, but to me, time at the store is not time having fun.

*Brought blister bandaids.  I was fairly convinced I wouldn't get blisters.  I didn't actually get them, but I was pretty close.

*Not much else, overall, we weren't at a loss for much.  Now you can wait a few more days to hear about all the actual fun we had.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

In which I give up my bikini model dreams

I am posting over here on my old blog since the blogsome server seems to be down.  There's some pretty funny older stuff here also, so if you get bored....

I have a sister who is into body building.  She has walked across a competition stage in her sparkly bikini and her awesome body.  She started out as a young, overweight, divorced woman and pulled herself together to attain a challenging goal. It has been a really great thing for her and she is awesome and I am proud of her for the work she has done.  Body building requires incredible discipline both at the gym and in the kitchen and everywhere else.  It is a time commitment, a mental commitment and a physical commitment.

It is so not for me.

Want to know why?

I already look good.

Now before you start calling me conceited and arrogant, let me explain myself better.  Victoria's Secret is NOT calling me to be their next underwear model, nor is anyone else, and I do not have false illusions about what I look like in the buff. I do not look good in the sense of "what's your excuse" because I have kids and killer quads, like this lady here. No one at the gym is looking my way and feeling super jealous of my rock hard abs or firm and lifted posterior.  However, I do look good and here's what I mean:

*I have a healthy BMI.

*My clothes fit.

*I have had four kids and a delightfully eternal tummy pooch to prove it.

*I'm totally average and healthy and if I EVER squeeze my pooch and call myself fat in front of a mirror and any of my daughters I deserve a punch in the nose because my girls deserve a realistic and healthy body image.

I saw an ad at the YMCA the other day for three sessions with a personal trainer and I contemplated it.  18 months ago I would have been all over it.  I would have said, "Sign me up, let's get me some ABS." Somehow, working out really hard for the sole purpose of looking good has lost its appeal.

But I still work out almost every day.

Here are a few reasons I work out even though I have given up completely on my flat-tummy-dreams.

1. I like chocolate cake.  I cannot possibly work out enough to eat the amount of chocolate cake I want and not gain weight.  However, if I am working out and burning calories, I can partake in tasty goodness on occasion without stressing out about my waistline. I plan on working out extra in the next few weeks so I can enjoy the holidays.

2. I have a mood disorder.  I struggle with depression and anxiety and very specifically S.A.D.  I don't know how anyone lives in Seattle and doesn't feel the effects of ours months without sun.  Working out has been a very key ingredient in managing my emotional challenges.  If I don't work out for a few days in a row and I wake up on a cloudy or rainy morning, I am definitely going to have it rough.  Exercise balances my brain chemistry.

3. I want to do cool things.  I want to run races, and play with my kids and crawl on the floor with the kids in my music class.

(Here's a picture of me after I crossed the finish line of my first sprint triathlon this past August)
I spent a lot of time training for that triathlon.  I needed my body to be capable of enduring the race.  I wanted my body to be strong and efficient. After all the time I spent in preparation for the race, I did not notice a significant difference in my appearance.  But I felt good and that was something. And I DID something awesome with my body.

So there you have it.  I am not a fitness buff and no one but my husband wants to see me in a bikini. I sometimes do crazy things like juice fasts and triathlons and sometimes I eat way too much sugar and wake up with a cream puff hangover.  I like to swim.  I like to lift weights.  I like to run.  I hate exercising.  I hate dieting.  I hate shopping for jeans.

Working out is part of my life.  It's just like eating, sleeping and going to the bathroom.  I have to do it to keep my body working right.  I am not posting this to brag or make anyone else feel bad.  I just wanted to post it.  We live in a very visually stimulating world with magazines covered in big boobs and ripped abdominals with promises of how you too can have a better, sexier body. And you CAN!  You can have a better body.  You can look good and you can feel good, but you don't have to look like the cover models to be healthy, happy and fit.  I sure as heck don't.  And I feel pretty good.

What are your reasons for working out?