Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's all about the Hamilton's, baby.

I took Nugget and Strip (and two additional kids) to a birthday party at a bounce place today. 11:30-1:30. We made it another hour+, then I hit my wall and we had to GO. I dropped the additional kiddos at their house, then headed over to Hobby Lobby (I need some camo face paint for work (don't ask!) and HL seemed to be the ONLY place that had any in stock).

Both kids were over tired (and so was I), so I'd called ahead to make sure they had some. I told the kids we were going in and right out, so as soon as we walked in the door, I asked the cashier where we could find it.
Oh! You just called didn't you? See those two ladies right there (pointing to a sign on the back wall)? Just head right there and you'll see it with the kids paint.

As we walked to the back, Nugget kept saying, "Der are two ladies! I don't see the paints, though..." every time we passed two women shopping. We found the paint and started making our way to the front of the store, but I wanted to look for a shadowbox frame for something I want to do for the house. As we walked by some frames, Strip looked down and spotted a $10 bill crumpled on the floor.

Strip: Oh! Mommy, look! $10!
Me: Is that real?! Yup it is!
Strip: Can I keep it?!
Me: What do you think the right thing to do would be?
Strip: Umm I don't know?
Me: Well, if you dropped $10, would you want someone to just take it, or turn it in?
Strip: Turn it in, I guess.
Me: Remember when you lost all your tickets today? You were sad because you couldn't get your prizes, but then that lady turned them in and you got your stuff? That felt good, right?
Strip: Yeah. You're right.

We went to check out and Strip told the cashier, "I found this money on the ground and wanted to turn it in just incase someone lost it."

The cashier was stunned.

"I have no idea what to do with it! WOW! Ummm hang on, lemme find the manager and see if she knows what to do..."

At this point, the guy in line across from us piped up with, "I think she should get to keep it!"

The manager came over and KeKe explained what happened, and the manager was flabbergasted. She didn't know what to do with Strip, either! KeKe took Strips hand and asked her what her name was. She told her that was the nicest thing she had seen and since she had such a good heart, she thought Strip should get to keep the money.

The manager agreed and said, "I think you should pick something special out and spend that money!"

No thanks! I'm going to take it home and put it in my savings!

Double stunned faces again.

Thanks, Hobby Lobby! We are now ten bucks closer to an over-priced American Girl tiki hut!

Saturday, July 16, 2011


When Hubs and I got married, we attended premarital counseling. The first thing we had to do, really before the counseling sessions even stated, was to take a test. I'll admit, I am a HORRIBLE test taker, so even though this scantron was all about us, I was still a little angst-y. Most of the questions, I breezed through, but I did pause when I got a few questions into it.

How many children do you want to have?

Crap! I knew MY answer (4-6). I come from a family of 2 kids and always wished I had more siblings. Hubs (fiance at the time) and I had talked about kids, and while I knew he didn't aspire to be a Duggar, I knew he wanted more than 1. But what if I put 6 and he puts 2? Or what if I put 2, because I think that's what he wants, and he puts 6, because it's what I want, and our numbers are WAY off and we have to spend half of our sessions discussing children we may not even be able to have anyway AND explaining that I lied on our test because YES I want more than 2?!

So I split the difference and just put down three (which would have never worked. I like even numbers).

And Hubs? He was having the same dilemma. So what did he pick? 3 as well.

We were lucky to have Strip and extremely lucky to have Nugget. After many shed tears and many chats with all doctors concerned (including a last minute, 12 hours before surgery emergency call to my nephrologist), we made the decision to end our biological family at 2 kids. Any more, and we'd be facing earlier preemies and possibly permanent damage/death for me.

Seems like a pretty slam dunk decision? Looking at the options of 2 more kids or 2 failed kidneys, you'd think closure would be the least of your worries. But I grieved the loss of 2-4 kids I never had for about 3 years. The solo Disney trip did wonders for me. Being a mom of 2 was very manageable. Taking vacations are easier and more enjoyable and we look forward to doing more fun things now that the kids are older (snow skiing, big city fun, cruise, etc).

But there was still that empty little hole. That "what if" spot.

Since moving, it seems we've stumbled on MANY friends who are either about to have a baby or just have had one. And that little what if spot started to turn into a gaping hole.

I'd already checked and our insurance covers nothing for adoption. ZERO. We can grow a baby in a petri dish, implant it into a friend or stranger and they'd cover a good chunk of it, but help us get a baby that's already cookin'? Forget about it! (NOTE: Anyone struggling with IF, please do not read this as a knock. I'm glad our insurance, and others out there, covers and assists couples struggling with this! It's an extremely costly and emotionally exhausting journey. But, it's not something we would pursue seeing as how I can get and stay pregnant, it's the whole carry them to term and not have failing body parts I struggle with).

So when a co-worker of mine needed someone to watch their baby baby today, I jumped at the chance. Hubs had taken our two kiddos to visit his dad and family, so it was just me and Zoe. Their sweet girl is a little over 2 months old, and she is sooooooooo cute.

I prepared myself for baby fever. Heck I was ready for baby malaria. For the mom and dad's sake, I'd hoped the afternoon would go well (nothing more stressful than leaving your first born with someone you've only known for a few months!), but for my sake, I hoped she would scream hysterically, puked on me, poop all over herself, me and whatever we were sitting on and leave me frazzled.

She didn't go my route. I told mom and dad to enjoy an early movie and grab a bite to eat if they wanted. Enjoy this fun day date! Sweet Pea and I settled into watching ceiling fans, looking at ourselves in the mirror, bottles, tummy time, cleaning bottles, changing diaper and basically getting nothing done. She was hanging with me for about 4 hours, and I was able to fold a half of a load of laundry and drink 2/3 of my cup of coffee. That was it!

I could see myself spending the rest of the afternoon mocking up blueprints on how to expand the house, contacting lawyers and greeting Hubs with my wild plans of how to expand our family. But when she left? I was ok. I played with the pup (who would go to the door every time she made a noise as if to say, "I think it's barking? Should we put it outside?!)", made dinner and did a little work to prepare for the week. I thought about my kiddos and thought about our future as a family of four (plus a dog) and was ok with it.

And while I think that "what-if" spot will always be there, I don't think it's going to rule the rest of my life. I'm not going to keep start aggressively pursuing adoption or be tempted to ask strangers for their kids. Would I turn away a baby or four left on my doorstep? Absolutely not! But I'm not going to let my family suffer because of something I can't control and will never be.

So thanks, little friend, for being a sweet baby, but also for reassuring me that our family of four is perfectly complete!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

How do you unwind?

After the solo Disney trip and sans-Hubs camping trip. It would have been nice to unwind, right? Oh if only! The kids went to Camp PaPa and Ma's and I got busy on a project at work. I'm part time, so normally bill about 48 hours per pay period. Between the added project and the added part-time summer job, I billed a little over 100 hours over my normal.

Yes you read that correctly.

Hubs was out of town, so we were ready to get the fam of four back together, celebrate our great work weeks and relax. I had penciled in "Run away from home" on my calendar and was ready to go out of town.

If you were in my shoes, how good does the above picture look?!?

But that's Tahiti. And we are in FL. And that's a long drive. I was thinking beach, but Hubs suggested....

The mouse.

I booked a last minute hotel and we packed up the car and kids. I was SO SO SO tired and out of it, half-way down, I thought, "Wait. What day is it? How long are we staying? Did I pack enough clothes for us?!"

Luckily, I can Disney pack in my sleep, so we were ok, but "Disney Vacation" in this house is an oxymoron.

We got down there Friday after lunch. I was thinking we'd hit DT Disney or just hang out, but Hubs? "Who has late hours? Let's go to a park!"

Yikes. I twisted his arm and convinced him to at least go into the room, drop off our stuff and make sure everything was ok before we hit the parks. And Magic Kingdom? Ghost town. We walked on to every ride with no wait. It was creepy. I kept flashing back to when we went in 2008 over the 4th of July and vowed we'd never do it again. I knew the crowds were coming.

The kids and I only had one day left on our non-expiration tickets, so on Saturday, we headed to DT Disney. We got there just before lunch service, so hit the T-Rex restaurant. How anyone can finish an entire entree there on their own is beyond me! We got our tickets, wandered around and headed to Hollywood Studios (the park formally known as MGM) and hit some of the favorites. We then went over to Epcot to wander around the world. We were waiting on friends of ours to come over and watch the fireworks with us, anticipating an early night. They texted us later in the evening, and the boys (Hubs and Friend Hubs) decided it was better if they just went over to Magic Kingdom and we met them over there.

So for those of you counting, as we hopped on the monorail, we'd conquered DT Disney, MGM, Epcot and were about to take on Magic Kindom all in one day. Now how good is that Tahiti picture looking??

And to add to that, we were delayed on the monorail because they were doing the special 4th of July fireworks a day early. We made it into the gates just as they were finishing. Friends texted us that they just got fast passes for Buzz Lightyear at 10:35. I looked at the clock, then at the crowd, and said we MIGHT make it to Tomorrowland by that time.

Cue Disney 4th of July Crowd:


Here's our texting conversation for the hour:

Yeah. It was awesome. Nugget fell asleep and Hubs and I befriended the only other non-angry family in all of Main Street who also happened to have a double stroller. We played a mean game of red rover and won. SO many angry people! The guy in front of us was SCREAMING at the poor girl attempting to direct traffic. How can you scream at an 18 year-old with a lightsaber and a giant Mickey-hand glove?! It took us about an hour, but we finally made it from Main Street to Tomorrowland. We rode some rides with our buddies then called it a night. Or morning? not sure at this point!

The next day was the 4th, and after seeing that crowd, Hubs embraced my idea of hitting a water park (something we'd never done with the kids at Disney before). We loaded up a cooler with lunch and drinks and headed to Blizzard Beach. We had a BLAST! The park is so big that even the rides (slides?) with lines weren't that long. My biggest angst was wandering around in a bikini all day, but after walking in the gates I immediately felt good about myself. WOW! So much skin and so little material. I'm 100% sure the first girl we saw at a pool was wearing a lacy bra and shorts and when we were in the Ski School pool with the kids, there was a woman just wearing a regular cotton tank top. Crazyness.

They do have delicious ice cream. Something about swimming all day just makes ice cream taste so much better! We all got a Pail (literally a sand pail full of ice cream and every topping they have in the shack), but Nugget was concerned that he wouldn't get any chocolate.

So this was his:

He finished it in about 3 minutes.

We showered off after a day at the "beach" and went to the Transportation Center to watch the fireworks (and saw an angry father almost get arrested because he "wanted to sit on the grass, damnit!") then went to hang out at Friends' house for the evening.

We hit DT Disney again the next day and took the kids to Disney Quest. I wasn't all that impressed, but they had fun! The biggest highlight was learning to draw Disney characters. I thought it was just going to be a coloring station type thing, but they have classes ever half-hour or so and everyone draws on computers. Hubs and Nugget got to draw Donald while Strip and I were writing and recording a song in the sound booth, so after paddling down a Dino-infested river and winning all the pirates gold we could capture, all four of us sat down to draw Pluto.

Nugget working hard at the animation desk.

The finished product: Donald, holding hands with Mickey (who is holding a balloon).

Strip's Pluto (with added sunshine) :-)

We headed home, and I was happy to have a couple of days off of work! I don't think I recovered from work on our vacation, but we had a blast! Now, who has a vacation hut in Tahiti we could use....

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Camp!

For Nugget's birthday, he got a bunch of camping stuff from PaPa, Ma and UP, so after school was out, we decided to put it to use! Hubs was busy working, so another mom friend and I took four kids on a little camping expedition.

We loaded up the car with 6 sleeping bags, 6 pillows, 12 bathing suites, 2 tents, 4 flashlights, a pack of hot dogs, a bag of buns, chips, snacks, marshmallows, Hershey's bars, graham crackers, boogie boards, sand buckets, oh the list went on and on. We took just the bare necessities and still had her car PACKED and my roof pack filled. We hit the road and made it to the campsites just after lunch.

But why pitch a tent when you could play on the beach!

Before finding our site, we unloaded the kids to burn off some energy on the beach. Oh how relaxing! We lost a pair of goggles and my dermatologist would be horrified at my tan lines, but jumping the waves and building sand castles were well worth the peel.

We let the kids play until they wanted a snack and then we headed over to find our spot. One thing about camping at the beach? Everything is sandy.

We found semi-shady spots for both tents, rinsed off the kiddos' hands, unpacked some snacks and started to assemble tents. J's camped a few times before with her kids, so she had no problem setting their tent up. Out tent? Never even opened yet. As I broke the tag thing off the zipper, all I could think was, "What if it's missing poles? Or a section of the mesh?" Hoping we weren't going to be sleeping in the car, I spread everything out and with a little help from Nugget, successfully assembled our little 4 man tent!

After an open fire dinner, we all hit the showers to clean off before bed. Unfortunately, we are at the beach and the beach is in Florida. And We got as clean as possible and headed back to our site, but looking at 60 clean piggies and the site full of beach sand and ash made me not want to let the kids touch the ground. Thinking back, most of my camping trips have been in the fall, so everyone's been wearing real shoes. Sweaty feet and flip flops don't mix.

So I said, "You drive, I'll buy!" and we headed to the ice cream shop. The ice cream was delicious, but no one in the shop spoke English and the samples that everyone had before buying our cones? They totally charged us for! We enjoyed the nice breeze and cold ice cream and headed back to the site. We decided the best dessert after dessert would be s'mores and let the kids take turns igniting marshmallows and getting sticky, then made one last trek to the bathrooms before calling it a night.

Me and my two opened the sides of our tent and said, "Good night, moon!" to the real moon. Without lights or books, we made up stories and dozed off. At some point in the night, Nugget stood up and wandered to the door of the tent. Happy I was snoozing in front of it, I got him to lay back down. When the sun, and every bird in Florida, rose, all three of us had moved to a different position in the tent.

We were going to hit the beach again for a morning swim, but the kids were so dirty after breakfast, I insisted on showering them before swimming. Nugget's feet were so dirty, he looked like a different race. After 15 minutes of scrubbing them, I figured the ocean would get the 4 other layers of dirt and we broke down camp.

After a few more hours on the beach, we loaded up our stuff (and about 15 lbs of sand) into the car, passed around a picnic lunch and hit the road.

I miss our old house, our old friends and Chicago badly, but I'll admit, it's nice to wake up one day, decide you want to go to the beach and actually be able to GO. As for the camping? I think we'll hold off on that again until fall when (hopefully) it's a little cooler. And Hubs can come along, too!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Back to the gym and back to the blog!

Yikes! My last post was in May. MAY! And I realized this today and then realized the last time I went to the gym was also in May. MAY!

It's now July.


So here's what's been going on since I last posted (and did side lunge presses).

Started out the summer kind of solo. Memorial Day weekend, Hubs headed to a golf tournament (that his team won!) and the kids and I headed to Disney. We had plans since we found out we were moving to meet some friends in WDW that weekend, so the kids were already pumped. Hubs got the invite to the golf tournament, but I figured I could meet my buddies down there and we'd be fine. Buddies found out they were moving to Cali, so we headed to see the mouse on our own!

And because we were using leftover days on non-expiration tickets, we decided to get the most out of our money. That means 4 parks in TWO DAYS!

We drove down on Friday and checked into our hotel. Some friends of ours here happened to be down for the weekend, too, so we met them at Downtown Disney for Dinner. The kids were excited to eat at Fulton's, but Nugget fell asleep in my lap waiting for our salads. He woke up later and said, "We waited all dat time on the boat, and we didn't eat nuffin!" Bless his heart!

The kids were excited about "riding rides" as soon as we got there, so I told them we could take the Disney bus from the hotel to DT disney. BIG mistake! After the big meal, and while carrying a still asleep Nugget, we huff it to the bus stop, hopping on JUST as the bus is about to pull away. Whew! I was feeling good about it until the bus made it second stop at DT Disney; right in front of Fulton's. Where we had just run from. Awesome. The bus driver then shut the bus off because at that time, it was the changing of the drivers. I've been to Buckingham Palace. I've seen the changing of the guard. That was like a high five compared to this. 25 minutes later, we were FINALLY heading back to the hotel. I managed to get both kids up to our room and at this point, Nugget emerged from his power nap. I remembered I left my razor at home.

I called the front desk only to find out that they have no razors at a value resort. So I looked at the kids and looked at the clock. We were approaching midnight. The next day was going to be an early start anyway, so why start it with a trip to CVS?

"Ok kids! Who wants to go for a ride?"
"I'd rather go swimming."
"Well, put on your suits and well go to the store. When we get back, we'll hit the pool!"

I called the front desk to confirm the pool hours (all night as long as you're not too loud -- so glad I didn't pay extra for a room facing the pool!) and we headed to the store. I was NOT spending the weekend with scratchy, velcro legs. We had a midnight swim then showered off and were out for the night.

The next day we headed to Animal Kingdom. Hot, hot and HOT! Every ride line is outside, every path is uphill and every road is paved with random groups of people, stopping in the middle of the road and staring at something. We started with the dinosaur ride.

Yup! That's us! In the back row. Nugget looking terrified and Strip with her head in my lap. GREAT start to the day! We hit all of our must do's, then hopped back in the car for a snack on our way over to the Hollywood Studios. We rode the Tower of Terror twice, headed over to the Toy Story ride, walked into The Voyage of the Little Mermaid right when it was about to start and then walked across to see the new Playhouse Disney show. They had JUST closed the door, so we scooted over to a snack stand and grabbed a box of popcorn and some water to snack on while we were in line. The new Playhouse Disney, well now Disney Junior, show is the same, but they took out Pooh and put in Jake and the Neverland Pirates. The kids loved it, but we had a nice family from France who kept telling my kids (in the front row) to sit down so their kid could see. I looked around and motioned to the 100 other kids standing and dancing. This was not the symphony. It's Disney World! Get up and move!

We wandered back over and did ToT one last time and the kids got hilarious Mater Teeth Suckers. I found them at World Market before we left

They almost look like pacifiers, but they are suckers with Mater teeth on the front. HILARIOUS! I noticed the Beauty and the Beast show was about to start, so my Maters and I scoped out a place to sit. We got half-way down the aisle and noticed some seats open on the other side. I asked the girl working there if we could cross over the very front row by the stage to get to the other side and she said, "Sure! But you could just sit in the front row if you want!" AweSOmE!

Mini Maters and I plopped down just as the show was about to start, and while it's nothing compared to Broadway, it was fun sitting right in front and watching the singers/dancers attempt to keep a straight face whenever one would catch a glimpse of my Maters!

It was getting close to Fantasmic time, so we grabbed a bite to eat and started walking up the big hill. The show starts at 9 and people had been standing in line since 6:30. That is just INSANE! The other option is to get a dining package where you eat at one of 3 restaurants (at 3:00 pm or something) and you get preferred seating. But the cost for the 3 of us to eat would be around $100. Cost of the three of us splitting snacks and a dinner? About $10. We were going to try our luck and see what happened.

Once we got to the top, the guys with the lights said it was standing room only. Ugh. I asked if we could walk down and come back if we weren't going to be able to see and the guy said that was fine. We got half-way down the hill and I thought that was silly and we'd just go back, get some ice cream and catch the 10:00 show. Just as we were walking back down the hill, or friends texted us that not only had they just walked in, they were sitting in the 3rd row and were looking at a spot in the first row! SCORE! We had great seats, and the kids loved the show. I loved it, too, just not $100 or 2.5 hours out of my life! We did a couple of more rides, then headed back to the hotel.

The next day, we headed to Epcot. We took the monorail, which was having some problems, so it took us a while to get over there, but we made it! Rode all the rides, walked around the world and enjoyed the nice day. The Must Do chick (looped show in the Disney hotel) always stops in Germany for Pretzel und Bier, so naturally, my 6 year-old wants a snack when we get to Germany. "Can we get a pretzel and a beer??" Thanks Disney!

We were heading over to Test Track when I remembered that Disney Visa card members get a special meet and greet and free photo, so we grabbed an autograph book and asked where to go. Surprise! LOTS of people at Disney world are Disney Visa card holders! So the line was kind of long, but we saw Minnie and Goofy in a room with just us, the photopass guy and the characters, so that was fun! When I went to get the picture, every one with Nugget, his eyes were closed. Thinking out loud, I said, "Geeze, you'd have thought they could have snapped ONE with his eyes open..." to which the photopass dude said, "Well, they took THIRTEEN!" Whoa. Someone's not having a magical day! And yes, that proves my point exactly. 13 pictures and not a single one with the kid looking at the camera with open eyes? So I just got one of Strip and Minnie. Because Visa was paying for it. And I went ahead and slapped a border and a date on it for good measure.

We hoofed it back up to the monorail which was, again, not working. So we did a quick change at the top of the ramp while we waited (my cousin opened her own sewing/embroidery/applique shop, so we had something to wear to every park!). We finally made it to the Magic Kingdom at about 7:00 when I realized I had the extra magic hours time written down incorrectly. They weren't open until 2 AM. They were open until 3AM!!

Nugget has always loved trains, and all the times we've gone, we've never ridden on the train before, so we did that first. We then hit all of our favorite rides. At the front of the line for Splash Mountain, they had to shut down the ride. No one would tell us why, just that they weren't sure how long it would take to get it working again. MAN some people get ANGRY about not riding the log! Lots of unhappy people around us! We hopped over to ride Big Thunder Railroad and then went back over to Tomorrowland to see if Nugget was tall enough for Space Mountain (not yet!). We were going to get ice cream and the kids were starting to fade. I asked if they wanted to call it a night, but NO!! WE WANNA STAY OUT UNTIL 3! As we stood in line, Nugget started swaying, so I picked him up. When I went to pay for the kids' cones, I set him down on the glorified granite check-writing ledge where he promptly curled up in a ball, leaned over and fell asleep! He perked up as soon as he saw the ice cream and they were ready to ride some more!

Sometime around 1, we went back to splash mountain which was working. Yay! Normally, after closing, they turn the big sprayers off, so I wasn't too worried about getting wet. I should have been. After the big plunge, I was sitting in a puddle so deep , the kids could have gone swimming in it! Nugget screamed, "I'm soapin' wet!!" We were all three drenched! My dress was so we, I could wring it out and as we walked, I could feel it stretching lower and lower in the back! We decided to start heading to the exit, but needed to do pirates for my little Captn Jack. NO line at all, so we hopped right on and BOY was that boat cold on our wet booties! We walked by Aladdin's magic carpet ride, and since it also had no line, we hopped on it. Then we let the camel spit on us and I suggested we head back to the hotel.

Strip: But what time is it??
Me: Almost 2.
Strip: But we were going to stay up until 3!!!
Me: Yeah, but mommy's tired! How about we head back and you can stay up at the hotel until 3?
Strip:Fine, but we really wanted to stay here until 3...
Me: I know, but I bet you $20 you'll both be asleep before we get to the monorail.
Strip: Nu uh!

One minute later, both kids are out cold. SO glad we had the double stroller! I managed to get them out to the car, loaded up, back to the hotel and up to our room.

We got up the next morning and spent and hit DT Disney for some shopping. Both kids had spending money burning a hole in their pockets. We had an early lunch at Rainforest Cafe then did some shopping. Both kids managed to spend their money on the things with the most small pieces. Yay. I told Strip I might as well put $20 in nickels on the floor and vacuum them up! But it was their money to spend, so we are proud owners of Tangled polly pocket-type set and a Captain Jack Sparrow/Barbossa action figures. I thought the pirates were ok until we got home and Nugget pointed out that the sword comes off! And the gun! And the hat! And the other hat! and the puppy! and his scarf! Ugh!

And while everyone thought I was crazy for taking 2 kids to 4 parks in 2 days alone, I must say it was the most relaxing and enjoyable disney trip we've taken! I hate that Hubs missed it, but it was fun just hanging out with the kids and taking things at their pace. It was also a nice reminder to me that this was totally doable with 2 kids. But if we had 4+ like I always wanted, there would have been no way it would have been relaxing and enjoyable. Win-win! Can't wait to do it another long weekend!