Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween 2010: Cowboy and Cowgirl

From the ZooBoo to Grant's first real trick-or-treating (last year we were under with the swine flu), we had a blast this fall season. Here are pics from the zooboo, trick-or-treating and from a fun day at the farm (and, yes, I did make them wear those hats!).

Monday, October 25, 2010


Here are the things that I have learned as a stay-at-home mom in the last two months that no one ever really told me:

1. You will lose your voice and your sanity if you're traveling by yourself with two toddlers. I was walking through the Orlando airport with a stroller, a car seat, and three backpacks (as the kids had stop wearing the backpacks they had insisted that they needed) saying, "Grant, you're too close to the stroller. Grant, you're too far from us. Grace, stop dragging your hands on the floor. Grant, where are you? Grace, can you hold your pee until we get to the potty? Grace, don't you go potty in your pants! Grant, you just have to take your shoes off; it's a rule. Grant, it's a rule because... (how do you explain that one?). Grace, don't you go potty in your pants. On and on and on and on for hours and hours and hours. I know why they serve drinks on a plane, and it has nothing to do with wealthy business men or people who are scared of flying.

2. All the insecurities you had in junior high resurface when you volunteer to help at your child's first classroom party. I haven't experienced such rudeness in some time. It quickly made me feel like I was 13 again, far too tall for my age, pimple-clad and stuck at a really bad school dance.

3. There are lonely moments--really lonely moments. There are days that I don't have an adult conversation until Bret comes home. Those are long days.

4. I have friends who are really big on not ever lying to their kids, and I respect them immensely. But, I lie to my kids all day long, every single day. There are simple lies like "because I said so," which isn't the answer to their questions at all. It's the "I don't want to answer your question" response. That's a tiny lie. There are a whole slew of lies that really are just regurgitated wisdom our parents used like "don't stand too close to the tv because it'll hurt your eyes" or "if you keep talkin,g the pilot is going to put you out on the wing of the plane" (you didn't get told that one?). And, then there are bigger ones: like when I told Grant that if I caught him doing "x, y or z" again, he wouldn't get to ride Thunder Mountain. I don't think I intended to enforce that one, but he thought I did, so he responded (thankfully) in kind. Or, that Santa might bring lots of presents to other kids, but at our house, he only brings one present, it just costs more than those other presents. Or, that Sponge Bob makes your brain look like swiss chesse with huge holes. In the end, I've made peace with my lying.

5. Sometimes, toddlers talk all day long. They fill every single potentially silent second with constant chatter. Constant. Incessant. All. day. long. Usually, the height of this conversation comes just as you need to do or to remember to do something important. It's inevitable.

6. And, your talkative toddler repeats everything you say at the most inopportune time to the most inopportune people with no ability to provide the correct context. So, "I'm going to box your ears" which you said while you were having a play boxing match, and "You are exasperating today" which you said after your child purposefully poured water all over you, becomes "My mommy said I was exasperating and was going to box my ears" to the pharmacist while you're waiting in line. Nice.

7. The kitchen floor is your worst nightmare. Ever. You can sweep and mop three times a day, and it's still no match for your two toddlers, chocolate pudding, raisins and goldfish that are great to stomp on after lunch.

8. Reading a book is a thing of the past. Suddenly, magazines, even trashy celebrity ones, look good because you can feel a sense of accomplishment when you are finally able to get through some reading: even if it is only a recipe or a "who wore it best?"

9. You will start to hate the question, even from your husband: "What did you do today?" He'll have interesting things to talk about: work dynamics, problems he solved. Your answer will probably be that you cleaned the kitchen floor a few times, wiped a few noses and bottoms, stopped several near death leaps, and refereed a few sibling fights. If you're a really good mom, you've read your kid a book, but if you're like me, you just admit that they watched TV. And here's the kicker: you have the same answer every single day.

10. The kisses, the hugs, the taking care of your kids while they're sick, the play-do, the puzzles, the long afternoon walks where you tell them to avoid the dog poop (and they don't) are fleeting. It goes so quickly, and even for all the craziness, it's worth every single moment.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Our Last Disney Hurrah!

On our final day, we headed to have breakfast with the Disney characters. I'm willing to pay a small fortune to eat Mickey Mouse waffles if it means that I don't have to stop in line after line in the parks to take pictures with the characters. I consider the trade-off highly worth it.

Grace had been looking forward to the event all week, but her first character meet (Goofy) went a little south when Goofy accidentally hit her in the head with his big plastic nose. She sobbed and was a little leery of him from that point on (smart girl).

We've been back several days, and it has been hard to get back into the swing of things. But, we're looking forward to some fall days full of midwest fall fun. Cheap. Easy. No waiting in line kind of fun.

Directly after the "hit"

Goofy's return (to a less than enthusiastic Grace)

A few more shots

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Magic Kingdom

Open to close. Feet still hurt. Kids had a blast.

We don't have too many pictures, as we spent the day weaving in and out of crowds (it was surprisingly busy) and riding as many rides as we could manage.

Grant's favorite ride: Thunder Mountain
Grace's favorite ride: The Speedway
Mommy's favorite ride: The Peoplemover (which I rode back to back to back with my feet up)
Daddy's favorite ride: Splash Mountain (but, mainly because Mommy got soaked)

Here are a few pics.

Today, we're off to have breakfast with Minnie, Donald and Goofy, and then, it's relaxing by the pool, packing, and taking Daddy to the airport.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Things I Learned At EPCOT

1. Apple Computer provided the "next great innovation" in 1976 with the creation of the Apple I computer. This achievement followed neatly in line with the discovery of fire, the creation of the Phonetic alphabet, and the development of the printing least according to the "Spaceship Earth" ride. I suspect that Steve Jobs is also lobbying to have the iPad as the next achievement shown on the ride.

2. Simulated hang gliding makes my mother-in-law wet herself. "But Deb, it's just a giant screen showing a movie of you hang gliding. We're only a few feet off the floor!" Some people are more susceptible to "simulations" than others.

3. Foreign ladies are very, VERY proud of their natural gifts. I'll say no more.

4. "Magnetic strip down and to the right" apparently means you should continue to try to insert your ticket in the same orientation at least 100 times (mostly with the magnetic strip on the left) before screaming about how broken the machine is and calling for an EPCOT employee to help you.

5. "International Food and Wine Festival" == "Disney finally provides enough alcohol and spicy food to make seeing grown adults trade pins with six year old children tolerable."

6. You can present hydroponics to a toddler, and he will think it's the coolest thing since the iPad, as long as it is presented using a boat on a track and animatronic scientists.

7. Not even cute little mouse ears can overcome the fact that you have a tattoo of a butterfly with a dagger through it on the center of your back.

8. There needs to be a FastPass for the French bakery which allows me to get there when it opens and have them pour the cream from the cream puffs directly into my mouth via a garden hose.

9. It's a good bet that the handful of people milling around the "Oh Canada!" exhibit in the World Showcase are, indeed, Canadian.

10. And finally, there were no mentions of government bailouts surrounding the GM exhibits at Test Track. But somehow, a Kia version of the same ride just wouldn't feel the same.

EPCOT and Rest

We dived into a day at Epcot yesterday a little bit limp from a long day at Sea World the day before, but despite our tired bodies and sore feet, we enjoyed our day at Epcot.

Grant liked Epcot more than we anticipated, mainly because he could ride Test Track, Soarin' and many of the other "rides." We spent the morning touring Future World; we left mid-day for naps, and we returned to the World Showcase (and food and wine show) for the evening.

Just when Grant started to bore of the World Showcase (okay, read: stops for "beer flights" and chocolate crossaints), a lady came up and gave him a sword she had found. If you know Grant, you'll know that he loves his weapons, and so this was an ideal gift that occupied him for the rest of the evening. In fact, Grant has three new swords from this trip, only one for which he has paid. In addition, two different ladies at the pool dropped off all of their pool toys before boarding their respective planes, so Grant's been playing with his free toys (including two huge super soaker guns) all week. He is starting to think that toys materialize on demand.

Aside from the rides and free sword, a highlight for Grant was a kiss from Mulan (about the only decent princess, in my opinion). The highlight for us was the sunset dinner at the new Hacienda de San Angel. Yum.

Here are some pics from Epcot.

Today, we're taking it easy by the pool. We have a great pool complex, complete with pirate ship with five slides, a massive splash park, and "big kid" water slide too. Grant's had a few meltdowns this week--the biggest when he missed riding the "big kid" slide by an inch.

The Magic Kingdom tomorrow!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sea World

We spent yesterday at Sea World, and thanks to some friends, we scored four free passes, which made for a much price-reduced experience. Grant and Grace loved the rescued pets show and the sea lion show, but because of a baby killer whale birth last night, there was no Shamu show, which was fine with us, as we were beat by late afternoon. It was Sea World's Halloween Spooktacular, so the kids stayed hyper thanks to the candy, which helped them both make it out of the park without a nap.

On the whole, it was a great experience, and we're thankful for a fun-filled day. Grant, of course, liked the roller coaster best, so he should have fun at Epcot tomorrow.

Grant goes for the roller-coasters; Mommy and Daddy go for the food and wine festival. Bring on Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Downtown Disney

We walked around Downtown Disney last night and looked at overpriced merchandise (including princess dresses for $60!) before heading to the T-Rex restaurant. Most of the time at the T-Rex restaurant (as with most themed eating venues), you go for the atmosphere (in this case, prehistoric animatronic dinos) not the food, and for most people in our party, this adage proved correct, but I (Erin) had the best salad I have ever had, and I only paid $18 for it.

Then, because we are traveling with Bret (and this is how most evenings end with Bret), we headed to the Ghirardelli ice cream fountain for grossly huge ice cream sundaes.

Of course, I forgot the camera, so you're left with a few "before" pictures, namely: Grace in her Minnie Mouse dress (to die for cute) and Grant with his new sword (a gift from the condo place).

Today, it's off to Sea World--camera in hand.


I've discovered that in the time since I got married (an event unrelated to the rest of this post), I've become a water snob. Except that unlike most water snobs, I'm not so much concerned about my drinking water. It's me bathing water with which I have issues.

I've been truly fortunate to have traveled all over the world, and almost without fail, the first thing I seem to notice when I go someplace new is the water, and Orlando is no exception.

Orlando's water smells like the sea and appears to be incapable of being absorbed by human skin. It just sort of hits your body and rolls off into the drain, leaving behind a kind of gray, scaly film.

We have fairly nasty water back home. It frequently exits the faucet looking a little bit like the hot dog au jus that you see brats being boiled in at a ballgame. But we have a good water softener and drinking water system which makes it all OK. Unfortunately I don't have these luxuries while on vacation.

Even the notorious water in China didn't both me all that much compared to Orlando. I suppose I spent so much time worrying about keeping it out of my mouth that I neglected to notice how oily and weird it was otherwise. And if I did manage to swallow some by accident because I started brushing my teeth and accidentally used the water from the tap because I was keeping an eye on the giant insect crawling along the baseboard, I would spend all of breakfast seated in close proximity to the bathroom, waiting for the inevitable attack. But at least the water didn't smell...most of the time.

I guess what surprises me is that the fine folks at Disney seem to be able to control everything from robotic mice to thousands of people in a theme park to the atmospheric conditions over their parks, so why can't they fix the water down here? Perhaps old Walt liked it this way. There had to be SOMETHING which suggested that moving to a swamp like Orange County, Florida was a good idea to him.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Orlando, Orlando

Ah, vacation. We all made it down here safe and sound, and we've set up camp in a beautiful two bedroom condo. The condo complex is amazing; the condo gorgeous, and our fridge is stocked. It's a good start.

Grant has already found the two pirate themed swimming pools, and he has charmed the staff into giving him multiple gifts.

Grace is mostly concerned about a balloon that went floating off into the sky (or to Jesus, as Grant says).

We're off to the pool complex all morning, and then, we'll be off to Downtown Disney and the T-Rex (a must stop for Grant) tonight.

Here are my favorite pics of yesterday; they are a welcomed site to a mom traveling by herself with two toddlers.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Big girl

Two words: diaper free. Four words: even through the night. Five words: just in time for Disney.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Summer Cleanup

Since it hasn't rained in Indianapolis in approximately three months, I went out this weekend to examine the dusty remains of my lawn and assess whether it needed to be mowed one last time. In reality, it did not, but I needed to drain the gas out of my riding mower (plus the weather was cool and doing donuts at 5 mph on a mower seemed like it might be entertaining), so I proceeded to mow.

After I was done, I decided that I would tip the mower upright in my garage for the winter. This would save space and provide a thrilling challenge for the kids if they decided to try and get out of the way as the two ton mower came crashing towards them.

I called my father to get advice on the most dangerous possible way to store my mower, and he concurred that standing it upright would do just fine. He also informed me that I should drain the oil from the mower before doing so, lest I end up with a recreation of the Gulf of Mexico on my garage floor. (And really, who likes a greasy duckling stuck to a concrete floor?)

I decided to drain the oil while the mower was still parked in the lawn. I quickly located the drain plug, which required me to lacerate both of my hands in order to even touch it, let alone get enough torque on it for removal. After using a variety of improper tools to beat on the plug, it finally came free.

I had prepared two containers in which to catch the oil -- an oil pan (imagine!) and a milk jug (imagination!). As the oil began to flow, I tried to move the oil pan into place, only to discover that it was too tall. So I grabbed the slightly taller milk jug instead, and as oil ran into my yard and onto my Ralph Lauren fuzzy pullover, I mangled it into position such that it was catching approximately 1/3 of the oil. Another 1/3 was running down my sleeve, and the other 1/3 was forming a nice bubbly crude on my side yard.

After mopping up as much oil as possible (and grumbling about why I couldn't just park the mower over the storm drain to drain the in the olden days...) I moved the mower into the garage. In the end, Erin and I decided that we love our children, and seeing their legs sticking out from under the mower like the Wicked Witch of the West didn't seem like much of a Christmas photo op, so we parked it horizontally in the corner.

My dad informed me shortly thereafter that I hadn't needed to drain the oil to park it in this configuration. I told him in reply that there was now a lovely, shiny baby seal and several species of crane now soaking in oil in my front yard, who otherwise wouldn't have had the opportunity. Take that, Al Gore.