D Magic Kingdom PinterestWe did it! We jumped on the Disney bandwagon and took the kids down for five days of magic. I will admit that I was very skeptical about this vacation living up to all the hype. Where in the world could you take a two and five-year-old, run them around crazy for five days and still be smiling in the end? Apparently Disney.

As in all things I tackle in life, I didn’t enter this trip unprepared. Thanks to countless Pinterest pins, friend advice and the Disney sites themselves, I had everything well planned – understanding, of course, that preschoolers do not let you actually stick to plans. The planning paid off.

Disney was a whirlwind and there were any number of challenges thrown our way (most self-inflicted), but having some tips in my back pocket carried us through. Magic won in the end. D Castle Lights

So without rambling on, here is my list of ideas to help survive and MAXIMIZE your experience, before the burn of Disney melts your children:

  • Use a Disney Travel Agent. 1) It saved us a lot of money. As a planner I, of course, priced everything out on my own using multiple scenarios (on property, off property, driving, flying, renting a car, etc.). She saved us money and sanity. 2) They know more than you do about Disney. This is their job – so they know the ins and outs and can share those with you. 3) It’s like delegating the unpleasant parts to somebody else. Who really likes negotiating hotels and coordinating tickets? Exactly. So don’t. Let a professional. Again… it will save you money. (I can not recommend our agent enough, Alison Turner with Travel and Tours.)
  • Get the meal plan. Sure you could save money by packing your meals every day and never eating park food – but who really wants to eat another PB&J sandwich? There are different levels of Disney meal plans. We went with the level that offers you 1 table service meal, 1 quick service meal and 1 snack per person/per day. Any child under 3-years-old does not need a ticket or meal plan (so Meret ate off our plates … more on that in a moment). We had plenty of food to keep us full through the day and we brought our own smaller snacks into the parks (you are allowed to bring food into the park).
  • Snack your way to dinner. I mentioned the meal plan we used above. I worked really hard to maximize our meals so that we 1) were getting the most for our money and 2) were strategically eating to avoid hunger and child meltdowns. D breakfast of champs
    • Use your TABLE SERVICE MEALS (these are the sit-down and be served meal) as your breakfast on most days. This allowed my young children to be at their best – first thing in the morning (pre-crazy day activities and unknown factors). It also allowed for buffet style eating – meaning picky eaters could always find something they liked from the generally people pleasing breakfast spread. Buffet eating also meant we could eat as much as we wanted (now this is relative as nobody in our family eats a lot of food, but could be important for other families that do). So our first meal of the day was our biggest meal and really carried us almost to dinner. MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS FOR TABLE SERVICE MEALS AS QUICKLY AS YOU CAN.
    • Let your meal get you into the park early. If you have a breakfast scheduled in a park restaurant at or before park opening, the park will allow you to enter early. This is huge if you 1) want to be first to a particular attraction or 2) want to avoid the crowds on the buses/transportation. We used this trick to get into Hollywood Studios before the park opening. This allowed Mike to take Augie and sign up first thing (before the crowds rushed) for the Jedi Training Academy. And we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while everyone else was running through the park at gate opening.
    • Use your TABLE SERVICE MEALS to meet the characters. We had five table service meals and all of them were characters meals. My kids met the Disney Jr. crew, Winnie the Pooh and friends, Alice and Wonderland, Mary Poppins, most of the Disney Princesses, Lilo and Stitch, Pluto, Mickey and others all sitting at a table eating their food. NO LINES. NO DRAMA. NO TIME LIMITS. And, if you are on the Disney Meal Plan this is all included at no extra cost (these can be very pricey meals if purchased separately).  MAXIMIZE your day and meal plan by taking advantage of the opportunities to enjoy character meals.
      • We took advantage of the following Character Meals: 1900 Park Fare (breakfast at Grand Floridian – Alice in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, Mary Poppins, etc.), Crystal Palace (breakfast at Magic Kingdom – Winnie the Pooh and friends ), Hollywood and Vine (breakfast at Hollywood Studios – Disney Jr. characters including Doc McStuffins, Jake, Oso, etc.), O’hana’s Best Friends Breakfast (breakfast at The Polynesian – Mickey, Pluto, Lilo and Stitch ), Akershus Royal Banquet (lunch at Epcot – Belle, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Snow White)D ariel meret hug
    • Get big SNACKS and share. At first I was worried that we would need to shell out a bunch of money to make up for not having a third “meal” covered in the dining plan. That was until I read some great blogs about the BEST SNACKS at ALL the different parks. I used this to our advantage so we could use one snack as a time and share it as a family. This easily carried us to dinner (and after). There were days we didn’t even use all three snacks. Our favorite snack, by far, was the ice cream sundae at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. It was a HUGE sundae (two scoops in a waffle bowl with whip cream and hot fudge) that served as a special treat and plenty of food to fuel us on to dinner (admittedly this is not the healthiest treat, but we brought healthier snacks in our bags to eat in the park as needed). The giant pretzel in Germany (Epcot) was also a family feeding snack that hit the mark. With three of those in our pocket we easily made it to dinner each day.
    • Be flexible with QUICK SERVICE MEALS. Unlike Table Service Meals where you need a reservation, you can go with the flow for QS meals, eating where you end up in the parks (and on property). We enjoyed dinners of QS meals that included yummy sandwiches at Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney, fish and chips at Columbia Harbour House in Magic Kingdom, Pizza and salads at Pizza Planet in Hollywood Studios, Mexican food at La Cantina de San Angel in Epcot and Restaurantosaurus in Animal Kingdom. Each offered us different food choices and experiences (dinosaur bones on the wall, the “claw” game just like the one in Toy Story). And we were able to pick foods that we could share — this was a theme for most of our eating, as sharing made everyone happy and allowed us to try different things without having to commit to one dish. Meret also ate very well for not having a meal plan because we shared.
    • Plan ADDITIONAL SNACKS ahead of time. You can bring food to Disney. Again, I recommend enjoying the many delicious foods they offer there. But you would be smart to pack some easy and quick snacks to keep little ones happy. We brought peanut butter crackers, granola bars, individual packs of goldfish and some squeezy fruit pouches. This was plenty to get us through each day and keep kiddos happy.
  • Be strategic with FAST PASSES. Fast passes and wrist bands are amazing. I almost wish I could plan my life outside of the Disney property using this technology. Here is the thing — you need to think about when and where you want to use your Fast Passes keeping the park in mind. We tried to group our fast passes at least an hour apart and in areas near each other. There is only stress if you spread your passes across the park and back to back. Also prioritize what you really REALLY want to accomplish at Disney. Our oldest LOVES Monster’s Inc and Toy Story – so I made sure two of our Fast Passes guaranteed us a short line to enter those rides. Even if other sites suggest you don’t need passes for certain rides, if it is your CAN NOT MISS thing — it’s worth the pass to guarantee you will have a chance to experience it while you are at Disney. You can even Fast Pass meeting characters if you or your child has one you just have to meet. I saw families use all their fast passes this way (instead of waiting in hour long lines). This is also a great tool if you want to ride an “adult” ride and the other parent is going to be stuck with the kids. Use a pass to make your wait shorter and keep everyone happy!
  • Meet your CHARACTERS in the big meeting spaces. Each park has their own version of the big meet and greet location. Magic Kingdom has a theater at the front of the park, Hollywood Studios has a big building with multiple meet and greets occurring at the same time. If you use these places to your advantage you can meet multiple characters in a shorter amount of time. You can also use the distractions of other character meet and greets taking place to alleviate any line fatigue for the kids. PLAN AHEAD to KNOW when the meet and greets will occur for your child’s favorite characters. We knew Augie had to meet Baymax and Hiro – and I learned (ahead of time) that they would only be appearing at Hollywood Studios. So we found out meeting times upon entry to the park and scheduled other parts of the day around that. If it is a really popular character you will be meeting, assume there will be a line – you may even want to show up early to be at the front of the line. D Baymax and Hiro BEST posed
  • RESEARCH each park. Not all parks offer every character. And each park offers its own special attractions/shows/events. Knowing what is available ahead of entering the park is really critical to ensuring access to many of the popular and/or limited attractions. Jedi Training was one of these special attractions for us. Augie thinks Darth Vader (“Dark Vader”) is a great “super hero” and was very excited (understatement) to meet him. We learned through friends that Darth Vader appears as part of  Jedi Training ONLY through Hollywood Studios. And, if you sign your kids up first thing in the morning (meaning you run into the park to the sound studios stage area – your child must be with you), your child (ages 4-12) can actually receive Jedi training on stage and “fight” Darth Vader! Little. Minds. Blown. Knowing this ahead of time helped me plan out our character breakfast (table service meal) with enough time to get signed up first thing and attend later in the day.

Disney also does maintenance on many rides throughout the year. And winter is a big time to tackle some of the favorites (fewer guests to Disney in the winter). So if you have your heart set on a certain ride, check Disney’s website ahead of time to make sure that the time you will be visiting doesn’t coincide with scheduled maintenance/repairs. D Darth Vader fighting

  • PACK smart. I, like most people, looked at the 10 day forecast leading up to our trip. Our packing changed even the night before we left based on the changes in weather. While in the summer you can assume hot and sticky, the winter can be a mixed bag – so pack to wear layers. And consider two levels of packing — packing for the big trip and packing backpacks for the parks. Big trip packing needs to allow enough clothing to cover the weather changes, accident changes (kids, food, mud) as well as leaving some room for the surprises you will purchase along the way. Backpack packing occurs daily and needs to take into consideration weather possibilities (always have dollar store plastic parkas at the bottom of your bag… maybe even an umbrella), snacking needs, water bottle(s), warmth layers (jackets for evenings or indoor events/shows), camera(s), mini first-aid (Band-Aids, wet wipes, empty Zip-Locks), room for surprises you will purchase along the way. Don’t expect your kids will want to carry these either — so pack as light as possible with the idea that you or your stroller will need to carry the bag.
  • Bring a STROLLER. I had been on the fence about whether to bring a single or double stroller. Our only double was really a bike trailer that is not at all easy to take apart and is very bulky (unrealistic to be taking on and off Disney transportation). But I couldn’t imagine our five-year-old walking the miles and miles of park required each day without being completely exhausted/giving up. So I researched many avenues. Renting a double stroller at the park was over $20/day ($100 for the time we would be there). These strollers are just fine and even provide a little shade. But, they do not recline — important if you have a little one who naps and may have to nap while in the park — and they all look the same. I also looked into rental through other Orlando locations that will deliver to the on-property hotels. This rental was going to be around $95 for the time we would be there. And I wouldn’t have any stroller to use while in the airport/traveling. So I finally landed on buying a used double umbrella stroller. I checked out Mom sell/trade/swap pages on Facebook and Craigslist before finding one for $50 – half the price of renting one for the time we would be there. It was wonderful having access to it throughout the whole trip and I plan on holding on to it in case we make any future trips in the next year or so. After that I can either pass it along or sell it off again.
  • MARK your things. I am the first to roll my eyes at families who are all dressed alike (especially if they are dressed in cheesy character t-shirts – apologies for the eye roll if this is you). But I am also the first to throw matching ribbons on every item we travel with. We had two large suitcases, four backpacks, a car seat bag and a stroller with us as we traveled. Having everything with a green ribbon on them helped me quickly grab what was ours and also quickly notice if something was being left behind on accident. The green ribbon also aided us in quickly locating our stroller in the stroller pits at Disney (again… so many strollers look the same). On backpacks and bags we also put our phone numbers and emails in case anything went really missing.
  • Take DISNEY’S MAGICAL EXPRESS. We flew down to Orlando (cheaper tickets on Southwest and worth every single penny for my sanity). This meant we needed a way to get from the airport to Disney. Once we were at Disney we knew there would be shuttle buses/trams and boats to carry us around the property. Disney offers a great service through Disney’s Magical Express where you can quickly jump on a motor-coach bus and be dropped off directly to your resort on property. Your bags are even checked directly to your room – so you don’t have to worry about them! This was the best thing ever because it meant we only needed to bring one carseat to have our two-year-old sit on the plane. Augie didn’t need one on the plane (large enough) and compartmentalization design of motor-coach buses protects children and adults in place of car seats. It was really nice not dragging two car seats around or installing/uninstalling multiple times.
  • PUSH THROUGH. Orlando weather can be unpredictable. Kids can act in all sorts of ways. Unknown factors can pop up to derail scheduled plans. PUSH THROUGH. If you can move past the initial set-back in your plans, there will be Disney reward on the other side. Cast Members (any Disney employee) are trained to HELP YOU in your time of need. They want to make your stay wonderful – so allow them to entertain your melt-down child, utilize their photography talents to take pictures on your behalf, ask them for recommendations for alternative plans. Our bus driver gave Augie transportation trading cards one day when the kid was acting all sorts of ornery on the bus. During our trip we pushed through torrential downpours to  make it back to the Magic Kingdom — resulting in easy access to everything and practical free reign of the park. We pushed through drizzle canceling the Jedi Training session Augie was signed up for, but were super pumped when Disney stepped up and gave one-on-one meet and greets with Darth Vader (those don’t happen) to each kid who was missing out  (this meant Augie had a change to hit light sabers with Vader and get his picture taken!) Disney does not want to disappoint you. Push through the set back and find the next great thing that WILL happen for you there. D Merida and kids

The truth is there were so many other little things that made this one of our best family vacations ever. Using these tips and others helped us make sure the focus stayed on the fun and not the boring details. Please leave some tips of your own in the comments section. And feel free to ask me any questions — I will try to answer if I can!

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Morning stirrings

by sarah on January 7, 2015 · 0 comments

My eyes stay closed every morning (the wee hours, the ones only designed for throwing up) when my daughter and/or son call out from their beds for me. “Mama! Mooooom! Mommy, Mommy, Mommy! Mama?!” I know if I stir and peek through heavy eyelids that I am committing to the start of my day. So I let them scream a little.

Eventually my, apparently, far more loving and devoted husband rolls out of bed to collect the screaming child and drag her/him into our bed. Again, we’re in the wee hours. It’s cold and I can feel the last wishes of sleep slipping from my grasp as tiny feet burrow down beside me – then into me. A knee to the rib, a foot to the shoulder. We pretend to sleep.

The other one stirs. It’s probably only been 10 minutes, but it seems as if my anticipation for the inevitable four-to-the-bed scenario has drug it out to be the longest 10 minutes ever. Two children. Four feet. Four hands. A million pushes, nudges and whines. Now we hold out for the miracle — will they sleep?

No.

The outcome is certain – we will get up. We will start our day and find ourselves preparing for bedtime again – almost in the blink of an eye. But the catalyst for rousing out of our pretended and willed slumber varies day to day. A leaky diaper? A fight over a pillow? The phone alarm going off at the intended hour of awakening (ha ha ha ha)? An epic story of a five-year-old reaching a dramatic climax and ensuring no sleep for the weary?

We’re up. Does it matter how?

I check the clock on my phone. Is. There. Time? Time = Shower = Self Esteem = A decent (if tired) start to the day. No time = Quick wash = Blah = Starting with a fail. I can just make it! I jump in the shower and listen to the water pour over me. I don’t drink coffee so this is my only chance at shocking the system into awake mode. I use the sound of the water to drown out the whining in the kitchen too; stealthy being managed by that saintly husband I referenced earlier – the one that pulled the screamer out of bed in the wee hours. I let the shampoo stay in a moment longer. I need that moment longer.

I emerge – showered and ready(ish). The kids are covered in something. Always something, but never their clothing. No, clothing needs a battle – a battle of the wills. My will barely squeaks out a win as my children stand disgruntled and dressed – wiped down – almost ready. It’s time to roll.

But we’re not totally ready. We need to get out the door. Coats, shoes, hats, gloves, toys, books, cups, costumes, lights, teeth brushing, making a bed — any and all of these things can be the ONE thing that holds us up from leaving on time. The request to leave through the door is like the first offer in a serious negotiation. The players know what they want at the end … and they have studied their opponents wisely.

“Get into the car and you can take FOUR Lego men!”

“NO, I waaaannnnaaaa take FIVE Lego men!” 

“Fine! Who cares! Take FIVE Lego men!!!! Just get in the car! WE ARE LATE.”

“Whhhaaaaaa whaaaaaa.” 

“Why are you crying, now?

“No shoes! No shoes! Princeeeeessssss!”

“Princesses wear shoes. Those are lovely shoes. GET IN THE CAR!”

“I don’t have my backpack.”

“I put your backpack in the car – the car you are supposed to be getting in. Now GO!”

“Oh.”

We shuffle/push/shove our way out the door and into the car. As if that was our end goal….

The child safety seats of today were built by male engineers who clearly never considered actually repeatedly putting multiple children into these seats. Wiggling, crying, “Tooo tight! Tooooooo tight!”, questioning (Is the chest clip in the right place? Should the strap hole be above or below her shoulders? UUUUUUGH, did somebody MOVE this seat and now I have to RE-INSTALL it!?!?!?!. I close all the doors and plop into my own seat. Seat warmer gets a flick into the “on” position. Seat Warmer – Take me away!

I glance at the clock. How did I do so very little in such a huge amount of time? We woke up in the wee hours, did we not? Well at least that is when “we” began to stir.

The truth is, we’re getting it done. Some days just provide a more exhausting start than others.

 

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Angry? Why?

by sarah on October 3, 2014 · 2 comments

I feel like I have been angry lately. Not the super visible, thrashing around screaming kind of angry (my coming-up-on-two-year-old covers that territory). I’ve been the simmering-under-the-surface-don’t-test-me angry. It’s almost the scarier of the two. And it’s not one thing that I think has put me in this place.

First there are vaccines. Huh? Yep. Vaccines. The world of social media is a tangled little web. In one area you are connecting with friends across the globe, sharing wonderful life experience and finding quick bits of humor to propel you forward through your day. In other areas the darkness sets in. And in one of those dark areas are the “Anti” people. Anti-vaccine people are the ones that have really been dialing me up lately. The defense of feelings argument (As I like to call the reasoning behind not vaccinating your children if they are physically able to handle vaccinations) holds absolutely no weight with me. While I understand the fear driving this reasoning… it just isn’t sound. Science works. It’s tested. It’s proven. It matters.  …. And now your (sometimes bordering crazy) posts and quips and comments are just making me ANGRY.

Next there is lack of hustle. That’s a thing? Yes it is. Look around you today. If it hasn’t been slapping you in the face (or more likely, tripping you up during your day) you will now notice the unbelievably slow-to-act nature of so many people. Now this isn’t a North v. South thing. I’m not talking about a quick step on a leisurely walk. I am talking about the woman walking down the middle of the grocery store aisle, ignoring everyone else around her and also refusing to move so another cart can get by. I am talking about the guy on his cell phone driving 45mph on the freeway, oblivious to the speed limit and the risk he is causing. And I am talking about the snails pace that so many medical and government (not all, but many) groups handle inquiries, scheduling and appointments. It’s a lack of hustle that ties directly to a lack of awareness of others. BE AWARE! It’s making me ANGRY!

And my own choices. Um, that’s on you. Yeah, I get it. Taking a fist full of peanut M&Ms to my mouth when it clearly should remain in the bag (this is a real thing, people). Hitting snooze on my phone, fully knowing I am not going to work-out (why did I even set the alarm?). Choosing crackers over an apple. My choices. The choices I am choosing for myself, often fully aware that they are wrong, STINK. And I am making me ANGRY!

Kids not being nice to mine. Paying medical bills. Watching wonderful people deal with horrible horrible illness. Witnessing things never go the way of people you love. Being let down from those you don’t expect. Not fitting in clothes the way you want. Cleaning the bathroom only to find toothpaste splatter on the mirror the next morning. … It’s adding up to be one simmering, negative, angry lady.

And I don’t want to be.

I want to be the person who reads a quote over a stock photo image on Pinterest and feels inspired to go through my day. Those people are able to let go – move forward – see the good in everything.

Now I am certainly not dragging my feet around feeling sad and mopey. But I am kind of twitching in my skin wanting to shake this feeling.

And it isn’t about perspective. I have immense perspective and awareness of how truly blessed my life is. I want for luxuries only. I am loved and cared for. I look backwards, in the present and forward and see wonderful things. I know my life is a gift given to me. THIS is why I want to get rid of this anger stuff.

I can’t make self-absorbed individuals speed up. I can’t make extremely political people have a broader view of the world. And I certainly can’t (though God knows my prayers) change the amount of illness in the world. But I am going to try to be happier. I am going to make that choice.

The truth is you just feel what you feel. I get that. But today I am going to WORK at ignoring the anger that simmers and focusing on the happiness that wants to burst through.

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There is only one Augie.

by sarah on September 15, 2014 · 0 comments

fox augie 2 fox augie 3 fox augie 4 fox augie 6 fox augie 7 fox augie

 

The truth is, I can’t even try to imagine what my son will come up with next. Today, half naked mouse/woodland creature. Tomorrow, …

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The last year of preschool

by sarah on September 11, 2014 · 2 comments

I don’t think it matters how many times you tell yourself you won’t live through your child. I don’t think the number of times you say, “It’s good for him to have some rough times, some hardships. It builds character,” actually makes a difference. I think. No, I know. The bumps along the path of my child’s life can feel like little mountains to climb over in my heart.

Augie started his last year of preschool. And while other kids are jumping at the bit to buy new backpacks or super stoked to see who is in their classes this year — my kid didn’t even register that he had to go back, until I was prying his fingers off my clothing so I could escape the classroom on day one.

As a type A, overachieving, goody-goody… the first day of school was about as perfect a day as I could imagine as a kid. What would I wear? Who was in my class? Would I buy book covers or make them out of grocery bags? I would get to use new school supplies! I would get to use the pencil sharpener on the wall!

My kid doesn’t have these feelings of elation. Today, day four of school, I still had to wrestle my way out of his stronghold and flee the scene of this academic punishment I am inflicting on him. And, I’ll be honest, for as difficult as it seems to be for my little man, it’s really hard for me too. I so much want him to find joy in learning in a school setting. I watch him gobble up information from the world around him throughout the rest of the day. Why can’t he find this in a classroom setting? Why doesn’t he want to be there?

I think another, possibly bigger, element of the situation that really bothers me is making friends. As a card carrying introvert I don’t travel in packs of girlfriends. I have never had trouble having friends in my life, but I don’t accumulate them like accessories. I don’t tend to socialize with large groups of women and I don’t feel the need to be everyone’s friend. It’s cool – I love having my good, trusted, beloved friends. No drama. But, when I watch my introvert son navigate his way through the friendship building stage, my heart starts aching for him. I watched during his classroom open house as my son shyly ducked behind my legs when new people came into the classroom. When the coast seemed clear he would dart back to play with the classroom pirate set, alone. I observed the other little boys create a pack as they played together. I sat and listened to my child’s incredibly imaginative stories about superhero alien monsters as he took the toys flying around the classroom playing out elaborate scenes. And I waited for the moment when he would connect with just one kid. It didn’t come.

Sure, he said hello (under instruction) to other kids who came into the room. But they never asked him to join the fun and he never made the effort to join in either. I so desperately wanted one mom to make her child come ask mine to play. My encouragement to have him introduce himself is nothing compared to the invitation of a child. But nobody did.

One friend. I just want him to have one, really great friend in his class. One person he can guarantee will play with him, sit next to him, care if he shows up for class each day. One kid he can come home and ask me to have over for a playdate.

I admit, I am probably overreacting and being far too worried about the social life of a four (nearly five)-year-old. But I also know the importance of friendships and how they impact the building of your self-esteem. There are 24 kids in my son’s class this year and I really want him to feel like he is part of that group — I want him to have fun.

The truth is my child is smart, funny, creative and caring. He doesn’t need my worry to make him something special -he already is. I just need to allow him to navigate the seas of friendship – whether he is sailing solo or chooses to join the cruise ship – I know he will ultimately arrive safely on the other side. Now if I can only take that rational thinking and apply it to my emotional mom-heart.

 

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As I think it…

by sarah on July 26, 2014 · 0 comments

I have had no time to blog lately. Work, life, kids…you know the drill. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about things. I think. All. The. Time.

So, as I still can’t find the time to devote a blog entry to each of these topics, here is my random (emphasis on random) list of thoughts. *It should be noted ahead of reading this list that you very well may not agree with my thinking. But, oh well, it’s my blog ;)
– I can’t stand, as in my skin crawls, people who are so politically blinded that they can’t even try to imagine another’s beliefs on a topic. This goes across party lines.
– I think Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin have done immense damage to the female position in modern US politics.
– I wanted Augie to know a second language by five…we’re almost there (to age five) and my kid definitely does NOT know anything outside if “Adios” and “Cuidado” (thank you random Handy Manny episodes).
– Humble bragging is gross. If you want to brag about your genius toddler/kid/teenager…do it! Own that brag. Don’t try to mask it.
– I am disappointed to see people end up in the rat race of keeping up with the Joneses. I guess there is a little of that in all of us…but when I see it reflected in children’s perceptions of what life IS…it just bums me out.
– I don’t like bacon. Who cares. Stop declaring it the best-thing-ever. (We all know that the best thing ever is chocolate).
– I don’t know how women with children have real time to work out. I am truly, honestly baffled. Maybe if I had a reliable and regular daily schedule, or something…but it is a huge chore and challenge to find the time to carve out that isn’t after 9pm…at which time I start melting into a puddle of my former self.
– I just was fitted for running shoes (yeah, I did just follow above with a running shoe thought) and came to learn that I have been wearing at least one size too small in my shoes…and the wrong kind of shoe. Uh, oops.
– When I run I think of people who can’t or people who run in honor of others and it is the only thing that spurs me forward. I don’t enjoy running. I don’t get the rush. I don’t like to sweat. I don’t like running quotes posted over pretty sunsets/sunrises.
– I can already spot the preschoolers who will pick on other kids growing up. I know that is horrible to say…but you can tell. They have no issues alienating other preschoolers now. It sucks. It’s life…but not one if the fun parts.
– Augie’s imagination is thrilling and exhausting. Sometimes I have to tune out of the 40 minute “stories” so that I can get things done. I am obsessed with the four-year-old mind…but this mom needs a break now and then.
– I feel guilty for wanting a “real” (as defined by me) vacation when I did get to take a trip up into the mountains this year. But I want to relax…and may be able to argue that I NEED to relax. Bring me a drink and charge it to a room.
– After an ER trip for choking on chicken at a friend’s wedding (sweet move) and two separate endoscopies…they think I have Eosinophilic Esophagitis. Bad news…my esophagus is freakishly narrow (as small as an infants). Good news…steroids seem to be helping (I probably can’t be an Olympian now. Drat!). Bad news…the only way to really tell is more endoscopies. Good news…now I can truly declare I am not some weirdo just afraid of swallowing pills (they actually don’t fit. Doctors were surprised any food fits).
– Age 35 has been a bit of a physical B*tch if you ask me. Grateful for every day (truly)…but also a little stressed over the whole getting older and watching my body react. Surgery to correct damaged urethra from two pregnancies/deliveries- check. More moles removed than I probably even had at 25- check. Astigmatism and changing prescription that makes me still ineligable for corrective lasik- check. Random conditions I didn’t even know I could have (EE)- check. Wrinkles and age spots mixed with acne…ACNE!- check. Blaahhhh! Ugh.
– Home ownership is a lot of loving your home for the living experiences it affords your family with a heaping side of weed pulling, plumber phone calls and roof repair.
– I watched an over weight maybe-10-year-old girl thrown down a huge hamburger and giant cup of fries at 9am in the ATL airport. It made me sad, angry and grossed out (none of this aimed at her). Kids don’t really have the capacity to understand the full impact of good eating, safety, kindness, etc. But, parents/guardians DO! We owe our kids so much more than skipping the lessons on these topics. Not claiming I’m hitting it out if the ballpark, just acknowledging that our kids deserve to have parents who are actively in the game.
– I saw a fox walking behind us down the street the other day. Just strolling down the road, chill. I would make a bad fox. They are far cooler than I am.
– Russia is scary (and really always has been). Putin is like a horrible novel character that you would make fun of, if you didn’t realize he was frighteningly real and terrifyingly in control of weapons, troops that kill and the minds of so many people.
– I can’t even speak of the air accidents/tragedies lately. My heart aches. My anger burns. Children died.
– People who don’t give 100% effort in their job most of the time (nobody is perfect) don’t deserve their job. If you check out groceries…smile, work efficiently, consider those you impact, rule your checkout lane! If you run a huge bank…be honest, give back, consider those you impact, rule the opportunities you create! Regardless of your position…it is YOUR position. Represent yourself positively.
– I wish there were more movies like Goonies and less “celebrity” like the Kardashians. Entertain me. Don’t annoy me.
– In the hypothetical dream debate “private cook vs. cleaning crew”, cleaning crew will always win. Hands down.
-I pulled a weed from my front yard landscape on Thursday that was almost up to my elbow. Shame.
– I think anyone who wants or needs birth control (for birth control or other medical reasons) should be able to get it. And for cheap. Preventive medicine. And don’t get me started that erectile dysfunction drugs are covered by some plans now but birth control doesn’t have to be. All women should ROAR.
– Maternity leave in the US is the least funny joke pulled on women (and really, families). And you don’t even realize you’re being screwed until you’re staring down the barrel of the decisions you HAVE to make for your family and realizing your decision tree is more like a straight line drawn by a bunch of middle aged men. “Family” isn’t a campaign gimmick, politicians. It’s the foundation of a functioning and fruitful society. Respect it, encourage it through policy and watch it positively impact all other areas of this crazy world we live in.
– God loves ALL people. God welcomes ALL people. God judges all people…so people should stop stressing out so much about pushing their personal agendas and passing judgement based on individual interpretations and assumptions. It’s not OUR job. God’s got it covered.
– I can’t stand chevron print any longer. Please make it go away. That and high waisted pants, bold print leggings and purple hair.
The truth is, even when I am not writing, I am ALWAYS thinking. Random, Sarah thoughts.

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Summer time…and the living is CRAZY

by sarah on July 14, 2014 · 0 comments

We have one mode this summer… GO! It has been non-stop since before Memorial Day. And, based on my current chest cold and lack of voice, something has got to give. Travel, work, work-travel, weddings, and general summer activities have left me a puddle of my former self. Sure, I love the energy of the summer months, but aren’t these supposed to be the “lazy days”? Shouldn’t I be sipping something by a pool? Instead I am filling in expense reports at 10:30PM and catching flights at 4:30AM, juggling babysitting schedules and wondering if the roofer or plumber will show up first. Summer, you saucy lady.

As I listen to the hum of my oh-so-old printer slowly creating the above mentioned expense document from recent travel to Montreal, I am choosing to focus on the fun that has been enjoyed so far this summer. I will make sure to create a post sometime in the near future on all the obnoxiousness that has also ensued. Alas .

So.  Summer fun… Reunions, vacation, birthday celebrations and more.

Reunion Girlsdsc_0728_2 dsc_0943_2 dsc_0963_2 dsc_0433_2 a80_2 a83_2 dsc_0382_2 dsc_0391_2 a77_2 a74_2 a65_2 a60_2 a18_2 a20_2 a49_2 a59_2 a12_2 a11_2 a8_2

The truth is a little part of me wishes I was better about posting things and a lot of me is OK with just spending my little bit of “free time” trying to squeeze every moment out of these long summer days.

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Sleeping on a Caboose

by sarah on May 18, 2014 · 0 comments

Friday I gave Augie a dream day. I can’t say I do that often. I try to make every day count… but really working to create a magical day is kind of a lot of work. But Friday I think I delivered.

The day started out with Worthington’s Touch A Truck event. I watched with great amusement as Augie (and Meret) ran from School Bus to U-Haul, Fire Truck to Go-Cart, Helicopter to Trolley — It was pretty fantastic. While each “truck” was pretty exciting to check out, my favorite part of the morning was a little incident that took place while we watched the helicopter take off from an open field.

It has rained on an off for a few days, leaving the ground full of puddles and any grassy areas green and sloppy. I had taken Augie by the hand over to one such sloppy area so we could get a view of the helicopter as it made its takeoff. When it was well into the sky I started to pull Augie along with me, out of the slop and back to the parking lot full of trucks. I felt him pull away and I took a few steps forward before turning around to get him to follow me. When I turned I immediately looked down to find a smiling Augie, arms and legs spread out, sinking into the muddy slop. Every adult in the area just stood with their mouths agape, awaiting my reaction. And what did I do? I just laughed. It was hysterical. My kid was COVERED in mud from the back of his head to the bottoms of his feet… and he was having a blast.

So, after a morning of trucks and mud I completed Augie’s awesome day by sending him off with Dad to Hocking Hills where they would sleep on a Caboose with his best friend, Hudson, and his dad, Uncle Craig. Sleeping on a caboose!?!?! To a four-year-old this is only second to… well maybe nothing. It’s AMAZING!

Meret and I stayed home for the weekend to attend a bridal shower and have some girl time (read: window shopping after I put her in a cute dress). But the boys had a blast hiking, roasting marshmallows, sleeping in bunk beds and generally being little dudes. I am so happy they loved it.

The truth is, I love that my kid is in that period of his life where everything has the opportunity to be magical. I hope he holds onto that for a long time.

boys by waterfall 2 Caboose steps Caboose Sign 2back of caboose 2Caboose shotCaboose Sign 2Robot

Fire Truck

Helicotper 2 Trolly with mom

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Easter

by sarah on April 24, 2014 · 0 comments

What a wonderful Easter… so wonderful that I am still catching up (you should see our bedroom floor). The weekend held everything from landscaping to planetarium star watching to weddings to the ER (more on that later) to a beautiful Easter service at church to TWO family Easter dinners. I’m done.

Friday night Mike and I had a date to the OSU Planetarium to see their Spring Night Sky show. It was great… nerdy… but great. We ended up being done earlier than we thought, so we walked around a grocery store. Yep.

Saturday was full of mulching and weeding and throwing dirt around our yard. I wore Meret in a hiking carrier on my back while I mulched and spread dirt over tree roots. In theory this was genius – watch the kid, keep her happy, get it all done. In practice it hurt my back, took two times as long (at least) and at one point I just fell over… kind of like a turtle. Meret thought it was hilarious. Maybe it was.

Saturday night we were excited to see a long time (like, 30-years-long-time) friend say “I do!”. Another post to share how the night played out… but she was a gorgeous bride and her wedding was beautiful.

Sunday was all about celebrating Easter! We rose to find the Easter Bunny had left his loot. Then we headed off to church where Augie and Meret both made it known that sitting through an hour long service is not on their to-do list (usually they are in Sunday school and the nursery). Alas.

We followed church with a great lunch at my Dad’s house and then made the impromptu decision to head down to Cincinnati to catch the Kuhnell Family Easter Dinner! Yes, it was exhausting… but so worth it to see Augie running around with his cousins and having fun (Meret too).

Easter was wonderful.

The truth is I really am still tired. I feel like we are about a week behind on sleep (tack it on to the years we have racked up). But I wouldn’t change a thing. Cramming it all in has left us with great memories and smiles on our faces.

Here is some proof:

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The state of the world…

by sarah on April 17, 2014 · 0 comments

Augie and Meret Egg Hunt1 Augie Egg Hunt image (2) Augie and Meret Egg Hunt 3 Augie and Meret Egg hunt 2I’m in one of those times where I am going through the motions and getting it done. It’s not at all that I am not appreciating the journey; it’s just that the time to stop and smell the roses along the way is written into a schedule and then given a check mark once it’s completed. Life is busy. Life is good.

As with life anywhere on the planet, ours has been dealt some ups and downs lately.

Up – My kids are growing like little weeds. Vocabularies are blossoming. Meret loves to say “booof booof” every time we pass a dog and her “bye bye” is the sweetest sound my ears can hear. Augie is cracking himself up daily (sometimes hourly) with hilarious phrasing like calling me “shamPOO” … with added emphasis on the poo. He’s four. Nothing is more hilarious than the idea of saying the word poo.

Down – My 33-year-old cousin, John, passed away in March after suffering a series of strokes. It was sudden, it was unexpected and it is still very sad. We had a wonderful celebration of his life last Friday. People say it every time it happens, but it’s really too bad that it takes a funeral to pull all the family together at the same time. Nonetheless… it was wonderful to see so many loved ones at one time.

On a related note — a little story. The night of John’s Memorial Service a group of his cousins and his brother, Grant, went out to toast John at his favorite local bar. We sat around sharing stories and laughing. I think he would have enjoyed it.

John and I disagreed on any number of topics, but we always loved each other. One area we definitely did not share a position on was politics – ever. So, we are at the bar and wrapping up the evening when I go to pay for part of the tab. I reach into my wallet and the first bill I pull out has a little note written on the bottom (I love finding bills like that!). I start to read…, “A dead Reagan is better than any living Democrat. Reagan 2012″. BAM! John did it. Even in his absence he had somehow made his presence known. That Republican heavy dollar bill had ended up in his liberal cousin’s wallet — one last nudge. It made me smile.

Up – We have SPRING! I won’t lie, this winter really hurt my spirits. It turned into a day by day survival plan for me. I don’t think I have seasonal disorder… but I definitely don’t have winter happiness affliction. So to see leaves and flowers popping up has done my heart a lot of good. We even had three trees planted! My dad gifted us some wonderful trees as a Christmas gift this year (awesome gift by the way). I went out last week and picked them out at the nursery and they were installed on Monday. They are evergreen trees and they are wonderful.

Down – Money in, money out. That is how it feels. Doesn’t it feel like that for everyone? In two days I have spent over $400 on doctor bills knowing that more are coming. It know things in the world aren’t free. I am grateful we have such wonderful medical services to benefit from — but it still pains me every time I have to hand a card over to swipe away they money… for things I never want to go through in the first place. And I feel like they always happen at the beginning of the year. I seem to have medical procedures done in the early winter and spring (probably not helping my loathing of winter).

Up – It’s Easter! While Thanksgiving and Christmas (nearly tied) are my favorite holidays to celebrate, Easter is my favorite holiday for WHAT we are celebrating. It’s been interesting watching Augie pay more attention to the meaning of Easter this year. It’s a hard concept for adults to really wrap their heads around, so I can only imagine what he is taking in or missing at this point. We celebrate the Easter Bunny in our home, but he doesn’t trump Jesus and the price he paid for our lives.

Last Sunday I paraded around the sanctuary of church with holding Augie’s hand while he waved his palm branch. And this Sunday I look forward to singing with my kids as we celebrate the gift of life that Jesus gave us. Easter is a definite “Up”.

Down – … Oh who needs more downs…

Up – I get to work from home most of the time for the project I am currently completing for work… which means that bathroom breaks and making lunch and any time I want, I can pop my head out of my “office” (read: bedroom) and give my kiddos a hug. While this also has it’s down side, I like to look at it as a huge positive. Plus they are getting some great bonding time with my mom right now while she babysits them. They love their Grammy.

The truth is life is always full of ups and downs. Sometimes it’s so easy to get sucked into the whirl of negative and sadness, but there is always an up somewhere. I am incredibly thankful for my ups today.

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