Thursday, September 29, 2011

What Do You Think Thursday with Skinny Scoop: Do You Think It’s Important to Take Family Vacations?

I’ve been back from Disney World for almost a week now, and I *still* feel like I am trying to recover. My last post showed the photo op moments (well, a few out of the 198 + that I took). Although those photos depicted real parts of the experience, it didn’t present the whole picture.

The operative word being “experience” because anyone who has ever been to the Magic Kingdom with little ones knows it is no vacation. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever worked harder off-site than I did at Disney.

Even though there were five adults to two Babes, it was still tough. Thomas wanted to be carried. They didn’t want to share the stroller. I had to take Marie to the bathroom a gazillion times. Thomas needed his diaper changed. So just picture it, 95 degree heat with 214 percent humidity holding either a thirty-four pound toddler or pushing a stroller with a gigantic bag full of “necessities.” (We all took turns).

I won’t even begin to tell the story about how I thought Thomas had finished taking care of business in his pull-up when half-way through the change (outdoors, in a secluded alcove meant for strollers, right before a massive downpour) it becomes obvious that he was, in fact, not done.

Then factor in trying to figure out what park to go to that day, checking the wait times for each ride, then checking the wait times for the Fast Pass, looking at a map for the most direct route while trying to explain to a two and half year old why licking monorail windows and eating bus seats (which, if you ask him, tasted like chicken) took a lot of brain power. A. Lot. (I did all that checking with an app, which was awesome)!

So, yeah, it was a lot of work. And those photos I shared with you show none of that.

You know what else they don’t show?

They don’t show how Marie lit up inside when she saw a replica of the Eiffel Tower in France (World Showcase in Epcot). The pictures don’t show how excited she was in the Impressions de France movie that she grabbed my arm and said, “Thank you so much, Mommy!” then gave me a kiss.

They don’t show the time that just Thomas and I played with his new Buzz Lightyear doll while I pretended to be Zurg on the monorail while the rest of the crew stayed at the park.

Are family vacations a lot of work?


Did I think I might have a meltdown?

Yes, I did. Only two minor ones, which I don’t think is too bad for a seven day adventure.

Do I think family vacations are worth all of this?

Yes. And then some.

There is just something about traveling with your family that is undeniably difficult, but through those challenges, memories are created that bond us together.

The importance of traveling was instilled in me at a very young age. For that, I am grateful. Those memories are some of the strongest and most favorite ones that I have. And I want to be able to give that to my Babes as well.

Check out my Skinny Scoop survey. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My Disney Vacation

I have a lot to say about my Disney vacation – some magical, some not so magical. However, it is going to have to wait until I get this family back on track to living a regular life and get the laundry under control. Easier said than done, especially since I am trying to nurse my Disney hangover with whole foods and soothing tea. In the meantime, here are some pictures of our magical time at Disney World. Enjoy and see you soon for What Do You Think Thursday with Skinny Scoop!

First plane ride!  It went really well. . . until it didn't.
And then it went really bad.  But only on the landing
on the way home.
Downtown Disney - loved it!

First ride - the Tea Cups. 
Lots of fun!

At the highly coveted Chef Mickey . . .
all the main characters at one time
with the most delicious waffels ever.

Work function with Harrington's work.
Are these not the cutest Babes?!
Animal Kingdom after the safari.
Quite possibly the hottest day of the vacation.

We were getting ready to leave, and *poof*
a parade in the middle of the day.  We decided
to stay, even though I thought I was going to
melt into a puddle of sweat.  The Babes
loved it! 

We were in line for just Jesse when, all of a sudden, she
left and came back with Woody.  I thought they were
going to explode with happiness!
Marie at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Is that face guard something else or what?!

Even though I was opposed to this
experience, Marie had a great time . . .
I mean look at that smile!

Epcot fireworks . . .after the longest
day EVER!
Meeting Belle in Epcot.

Thomas was starting to go deep into this
Disney hangover.  Aladdin handled this
with much charm and humor.

Aladdin and Jasmine were the BEST!

Anything with Zurg and Toy Story made
Thomas very, very happy.
I was a bit surprised when I began to
feel emotional when I heard
 When You Wish Upon a Star
while the fireworks exploded.
by the castle.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop: What’s Your Favorite Part of a Family Vacation?

By the time this post goes live, I will be near the end of my Disney Family Vacation Adventure. (Yes, I’m classifying it as a Proper Noun).

I think by Thursday, my feelings will include, but will not be limited to the following:






So here's my question for this week's edition of What Do You Think Thursday with Skinny Scoop:

I will look forward to posting all about my vacation adventure when I get back!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop: Things to do in Disney World

In less than two days, my family, my parents, and I will be making the pilgrimage to The Happiest Place on Earth: Disney World.

It seems like the craziest time to go since Marie just started school, and Thomas will be missing his first Come Play With Me class. But this amazing opportunity came up with Harrington’s work, and we could not pass it up.

Everyone’s super excited, and so am I. . . .but it’s a lot to juggle now. So this is going to be a super short post so I can get back to laundry, packing, some more laundry, and maybe running a quick vacuum so we come home to a clean house.

Instead of a poll for this edition of What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop, I made a list of all the things we plan on doing. Let me know if I am missing anything to make this family vacation the most magical family vacation in the history of family vacations.  Be sure to click on the list so you can see all 17 of my magical memory-making ideas.

Also, I found this list on Skinny Scoop for first timers at Disneyland. Totally helpful stuff!

Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

LG LuV400T Kompressor Vacuum. . .With Commentary on Grace and Good Manners

If motherhood has taught me anything, it has been the quest for balance. (Please note: key word is “quest,” as in it is a challenging effort to find something perfect yet so elusive as balance).

In the past, I would teeter between never saying anything and saying too much. Now when something bothers me, I try to evaluate if a situation is something worth making a fuss over or not. I like to think that within the past five years, I have refined my technique to incorporate a bit more grace than gruff.

Case in point:

Last year at BlogHer10, I attended the Mouthy Party put on by the wonderful Mouthy Housewives. One of the sponsors was LG. At their station, guests were invited to try out a LuV300B Kompressor Vacuum, and LG would send us the vacuum. I could NOT believe it! How awesome would that be?! A brand new vacuum! Yes, please!

So I waited. And waited and waited.

I read some blogs and their reviews of this awesome piece of machinery. I watched the front door like a hawk. I knew it had to arrive soon.

And then I waited some more.

Finally, in December, I gave up.

(Side bar: My mother-in-law felt so bad for me that she bought me a new vacuum. How sweet)!

To be honest, I was unsure how to navigate through this situation. I didn’t want to tell the Mouthy Housewives because I had a great time at the party, and I didn’t want to appear to be all about the swag. I enjoy that blog and the contributors’ individual blogs; I didn’t want to make a fuss. I also don’t think it was their responsibility either.

I did contact LG through email, but to no avail.

I could have blogged about it or made a scene on Twitter, but that didn’t feel right, either. I had been blogging for just over a year, and I thought that maybe this was par for the course.

This year, at BlogHer 11, I saw some reps from LG out of their suite. I introduced myself and explained the situation of the vacuum and the failed attempt to rectify the situation through email. I told them it was not my style to cause trouble, but if there was some way to look into this, I would greatly appreciate it.

The reps stood up, shook my hand, and thanked me profusely for not making a scene on Twitter. They took my information and promised to get back to me.

I was a cautiously optimistic.

On the following Monday, a rep had emailed me for the details of the situation.

On Tuesday, he determined there was a mistake with data entry, and my information had been recorded incorrectly. He promised the LuV400T Kompressor Vacuum (an updated version) would be delivered by Fed Ex on Friday.

On Friday, Fed Ex showed up with the LuV400T Kompressor Vacuum.
LuV400T KOMPRESSOR® Total Care Upright Vacuum
Now tell me that is not a totally awesome
piece of machinery.  It looks like it
deserves its own parking space
in the garage.

And I have to say, the LuV400T Kompressor Vacuum was everything I hoped it would be. I LOVE IT! It makes my twelve year old carpet look new again.

Thomas dumped Marie’s snack of dried veggies all over the floor. There were peas and corn and crumbled up tomatoes and peppers *everywhere*.

LuV400T Kompressor Vacuum picked it up like it was dust.

According to LG, here’s why it can do that:

*LG’s patented Kompressor technology utilizes the world’s first motorized compression system and a larger bin to compress the dust intake to hold three times more household dust than non-compressor models.

*Its mattress tool allows you to loosen deeply embedded dust and allergens using a unique pulsating vibration system.

*LG’s DualForce Suction provides a wide suction area for better cleaning in hard to reach places, by adding air pathways to both sides of the vacuum head in addition to the traditional center suction.

*The Click 'N Go™ provides 15 feet of additional reach for easier cleaning of stairs, upholstery and other out-of-the-way spots. With a radio-frequency wand, consumers to control the unit remotely from the wand when it is detached from the base.

*The HEPA filter captures 99.97 percent of allergens such as dust mites and animal dander.

*The LuV400T has been certified asthma & allergy friendly™ by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).


I also think that this is a testament that grace and good manners can produce the desired results. There might be something to that saying that one catches more flies with honey instead of vinegar.

Thank you, LG, for making good on your word.

I love my new vacuum!

Tell me about a time when grace and good manners worked better for you than a harsh words.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What Do You Think Thursdays with The Skinny Scoop: The School Bus

This first week of school? Is exhausting! I am feeling totally fried. Fried! I fell asleep at 9:30p.m. because I was completely exhausted. Which sounds awesome, but I woke up six hours later ready to start my day. If you do the math, that would be 3:30a.m. So I was totally ready for my 5:45a.m. walk, but crashed by 11:00a.m. Yikes.

Please forgive me if this post is not coherent. I am treading water here to keep from sinking.

Originally, this post was going to be about our upcoming Disney trip, but the unexpected came up this week, and I just need to talk about this.

Actually, unexpected is an understatement.

On Tuesday, I was feeling good about Kindergarten. I drove her to school. I watched her go in to school. I was there when she got out of school. I did so well (after a month of crying, of course). Marie did so well. When she got out of school, her eyes were all twinkling! She did so well, in fact, that we had not even stepped foot into the parking lot when she looked up at me with her big, blue eyes filled with excitement and proclaims, “I want to take the bus tomorrow!”

What?! The bus!! Seriously?

I feel that I made peace with putting her in full-day Kindergarten three times a week because it would be good for her; she needs to be more challenged and is craving social interaction. Thomas needed some one-on-one time, too. Everyone was winning from this situation.

But the bus?!

The only people who have driven my baby girl are me, Harrington, my parents, and my mother-in-law.

The bus?!

It has no car seat! I used to be a teacher – crazy shenanigans happen on the bus!

But I let her. Even though it was pouring rain outside and my insides were churning.

And she loved it.

Today at the bus stop, she wistfully looked at the other kids playing at the bus stop. She looked up at me again, with those eyes, and said, “Mind if I go play with my new friends?”

Bravely and over enthusiastically I said, “No, no! Go play! Yea!”

I could hear the presenter in my head say, “And the Academy Award for Best Performance in a Drama goes to . . . Erin!”

Poor Thomas was all confused by his big sister hanging out with these older kids and not standing by him. He tried to fit in by acting like Surg from Toy Story, but his humor was lost on this bunch.

Bottom line: She loves the bus. I hate the bus.

But I am letting her go because it’s my issue. I am the one with very horrible memories of my limited time spent on the bus. Not her.

And because she is Kindergarten, she has to sit in the first two rows and the dreaded Danger Zone at the back of the bus.

So what do you think of the school bus? Be sure to click on The Skinny Scoop survey below. I’d also love for you to tell me your opinion in the comment section.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

To Marie, On Your First Day of Kindergarten

Dear Marie,
This is it; your big day. I know that you are going to *rock* Kindergarten.  I have felt pretty certain of that since you were a baby.  At less than a year old, I saw your spirit emerging during those countless physical and occupational therapy sessions.  I remember when Marge said that you probably wouldn’t walk until you were two.  I also remember when Melissa said that you would have hard time writing and using scissors because you would not have the stamina.

Not only are you running and jumping and dancing, you are swimming. 

Writing stories is one of your favorite things to do, right along with making collages from old photos.

You showed them.  And not in a loud, demonstrative kind of way either.  You don’t make a production out of it.  You just do what you have to do in an unassuming way . . . yet with the fiercest sense of determination.

Simply said, you are a do-er that perseveres during difficult times and pays no attention to the negativity of naysayers. 

Quite a life lesson to be learned at the tender age of five, if I may say so myself.

Even though you are wise beyond your years, I want to tell you a few wishes that I have for you this year. 

You are special.  You deserve to surround yourself with friends that are kind.

Stay away from the drama of the mean girls.  Some people have a hard time believing that they are special, and therefore, they try to bring others down with them.  Just keep your distance.  Believe me, it’s not worth it.

Do your best and know your best is not the same every day. Please be kind to yourself when you are having a bad day.

Understand that no matter what, NO MATTER WHAT, you can tell me anything, and I will always love you.  ALWAYS.

You have amazing instincts: follow them.

Although it’s hard for me to believe that you will be going to Kindergarten, I am so excited to see all the wonderful things you will experience this year.  This may be the end of the baby /toddler/stay-home-with-me days, but it’s just the beginning of your amazing life.

I love you.



Thursday, September 1, 2011

What Do You Think Thursdays with Skinny Scoop: Full-Day Kindergarten

In five short days, my first born, my sensitive, sweet, extremely bright little girl will starting *gulp* Kindergarten*.

My emotions are a giant mixed-up grab bag:

Yes! She is going to have so much fun!
No! She’s going out into the scary world without me!
Yes! More me time and time with Thomas!
No! I am going to miss her!
Yes! She needs more social interaction!
No! I don’t want her to get hurt!
Yes! She needs more than I can give her!
No! I am going to miss her!
Whew! That ping pong match is exhausting, right? And to add another component to this conundrum, I had to decide whether or not to have Marie go to school all day. Our district offers a program called K-Plus, which is an extension of Kindergarten. The kids go to half-day Kindergarten and then go to K-Plus (or vice versa depending if they have morning or afternoon Kindergarten). You can also choose anywhere between 3-5 days a week to attend this program. In K-Plus, the kids have lunch, go to specials, and review more thoroughly the lessons learned in the regular Kindergarten class.

My first thought: “Absolutely not!” Kindergarten is supposed to be only a half day. Period. Marie is supposed to come home with me, and we’ll spend the rest of our day together before she goes to first grade.

My second thought: “Hmmm. Marie has trouble with transitions. That whole having lunch at school a few days a week might be good way to help her transition into first grade.”

I know my Babe. Transitions are hard for her. If I can have her go to school all day for a few days a week to get her ready, that might make next year easier for her. Going to lunch and adapting to different teacher’s routines will be good for her.

Also, this girl *craves* learning. She is already reading long books (think Golden Books or unedited versions of Disney Classics). I don’t know where to go from here. I could probably figure it out, but I have another one that needs my attention, too. On many different levels, it hurts to say this (and will probably have its own blog post soon), but she needs more socialization and direction with her education than I can give her. And Thomas is craving more attention now than ever.

So I am putting my selfish need of wanting her around and doing what’s best for her.

This is just another instance in which I have learned the importance of flexibility. I have these ideas of how I want life and parenting to go, yet I constantly need to reassess the situation and move forward in the appropriate direction.

With a box of Kleenex in hand.

What do you think about full-day Kindergarten?

*I checked everywhere, and I could not get a clear answer if “Kindergarten” should be capitalized or not. I apologize if I should not have capitalized it.