March 31, 2009

Hiding and seeking

I played more games of Hide and Seek tonight than I can count. It's a fairly easy game to play when the hider hides in the SAME PLACE every time.

As a parent, I know that my 22 month old cannot understand the concept of hiding and remaining quiet so that he won't be found. Yet, I spent 15 minutes trying to explain it to him. Once I got past trying to play by the "rules," we had a lot of fun.

On what seemed like our 100th round of this game, I decided to video tape the whole thing. I tried to keep the video camera on him no matter which way I was looking, so it gets a little shaky in parts. You might not want to watch if you're prone motion sickness.

My favorite part was every time I found him when he would say, "Awesome! More again!"

Jack playing hide and go seek from Sara on Vimeo.

March 30, 2009

In five minutes or less . . .

:: This weekend was a good one . . . and perhaps the best part of the weekend was the awesome play structure/swing set we scored for a fraction of what it's worth. We just have to figure out a way to get it to our house now . . . we're still working on that.

:: I had my sixteen week check up today and everything seems to be going well. I've always been extremely pleased with the care I've received at U of M and I was a little disappointed today. It wasn't a bad experience, but I just felt like it was a little rushed and that the doctor I saw wasn't as personable as some of the others. The doctor listened for the heartbeat, asked me a few questions about how I was feeling and that's it. OH! And we also had to see psycho Sandy. Do you remember me writing about her when I was pregnant with Jack? While she didn't offer me pamphlets on the hazards of using illegal drugs while pregnant, she was more psycho than she was the last time. I definitely didn't ask her any questions about DHA supplements, that's for sure (which I am taking again, by the way). It's hard, because I really like the hospital, but I wonder if I could find another doctor that I'd like more. I definitely want to deliver at U of M no matter what, but maybe with a different practice? I don't know. I suppose with a practice, I might end up seeing a nurse practitioner a lot, which I might not like either. I guess I should wait and see how my next appointment goes.

:: After my appointment we met Kyle's parents and Jack, his sister and brother-in-law, and my niece Emma at the Treehouse. When we arrived, Jack pretty much pretended like he didn't know us. Hmmm . . . I felt the love. He was such a stinker tonight, but we had a great bathtime and bedtime tonight. He goes to the potty two or three times a day, but still has wet diapers in between. We're not pushing it at all because he's only 22 months. We ask him every night if he needs to go, and the other times he just lets us know. His newest phrases? "Holy Cow" and "What her name?" or "What his name?"

:: Kyle's working on beautifying our front porch and back deck. I'm hoping we'll have enough money this spring to put a patio on attached to our deck, but we'll see.

:: Kyle's really enjoying coaching baseball this year. No parent problems and good kids on the team. They lost their first game, but only by one run. It's amazing how low-stress baseball season is for our household when there are no parent issues.

:: Speaking of stress free, I am shocked at how the stress in our house drops right before dinner time if I let Jack watch Little Einsteins or Veggie Tales. I can get stuff done and he's not hanging on me or opening every drawer and cupboard in the house. I'm not a proponent of tv for kids (especially at his age), but seriously . . . it's what keeps me sane during that 30 - 40 minutes before dinner.

And I would tell you more about my new etsy project, but my five minutes has turned into seven and Kyle's waiting on me to finish a movie . . . more about that later!

March 28, 2009

Look what I did!

This week brought so much frustration, but I do want to keep in mind a few of the good things that happened this week. The best relief of the week was that our scale had a low battery, which means that instead of gaining 9 pounds in the last 4 weeks, I've only gained 2. Well probably more like three now. And it also means that Jack is not approaching 40 pounds. I feel much better.

Oh, and Jack's quote of the week? I was on the potty and he came in and said, "So poud of you! Poud of you!" And I think he really meant it.

I started out the week by getting crafty last Sunday. I'm not a naturally crafty person. I think I could be, if I had the patience. I think I have an eye for that stuff. But I'm usually bored pretty easily. This accounts for the 25 half-finished projects I have in the storage area of our basement.

But my card orders were slow last weekend and I was restless. I started organizing my office and found a pack of shrinky dink printer paper. Earlier in the day, I had been talking about how the tag on Jack's diaper bag was a little too girly and we needed something different, so I decided to make him a new one. I used one of my birth announcement designs and went from there. I printed it, cut it out, baked it and voila! I think it came out pretty well.

Kyle thinks I should sell them on etsy. But it took a lot of time for this one little tag, so I'd have to charge a lot more than people would pay to make it worth it. HOWEVER, it did inspire a different etsy idea idea that I'll be sharing in a week or two.

Here's the design printed on the paper:

Ready for baking:

I got a little nervous when I saw it curling like this:

The finished product:

Just for size comparison, before:

And after . . .

March 27, 2009

It's Friday, right?

I've dealt with my share of mean people and stressful situations this week. Every day there has been something or someone. Some have stressed me out. Some have hurt my feelings. Some have made me cry and some have even made me laugh a little bit.

I know that being pregnant is contributing to my stress level and emotion, but the truth is that it's been a hard week. That's actually a little bit of an understatement. I'm ready for a break.

But we have our Crop 'Til You Drop Retreat at camp this weekend and I'm in charge of it. The irony of it all is that I'm not a scrapbooker. So I'm hoping for some time to just take care of these women and find some relaxation myself.

March 25, 2009

Every word he says

Yes, I'm becoming the sterotypical "mommy blogger" . . . posting, seemingly, every word that comes out of my child's mouth. But it's my blog. And someday, I'll want to look back and remember this stuff. Either that, or someday I'll look back and make fun of myself . . . that's a distinct possibility.


Jack's favorite expressions:

"Ai yai yai"

"So escited!"


"Oh, buddy."

"Oh my gosh" and "Oh my goodness" Though, we're trying to keep him from saying these things. I don't know why, but they just don't sound great coming from a 22 month old.

"Sorry, obey . . . sorry, obey!" He's usually saying this as we walk him to time out.


Kyle: What time did you wake up from your nap, buddy?

Jack: Midnight

Um, no, but how does he even know what midnight is? Where is he picking up this stuff?!


The typical conversation between us and Jack goes something like this:

Jack: Jack have hertithith?

Me: What did you say?

Jack: Yeah. Have it

Me: No, I don't know what you're saying. What do you want?

Jack: Yeah.

It's so frustrating for both of us.


Here's another conversation we had from yesterday in which I was totally busted.

Jack: More hot dog, please.

Me: No more hot dog, but you can have more broccoli.

Jack: More hot dog, please.

Me: Jack, the hot dog is all gone. We don't have any more. But you can have more broccoli.

Jack: (Scanning the room and then pointing toward the 1/2 hot dog that I had forgotten to put away) There hot dog! Found it, mommy!

That's what I deserve for lying to my child, I suppose.

March 24, 2009

A happy post

So, I woke up this morning and found that everything had successfully backed up to my external hard drive. So, I restarted the computer, only I missed my window of time to boot from the Vista disk because I was distracted by the news. I suddenly looked over at my computer and it had STARTED UP NORMALLY. As if nothing had ever happened. I don't know if some of the fiddling I did last night fixed it, or if it's just a miracle. Either way, I was THRILLED!

So moving on to lighter (more interesting) things . . .

I don't really like ribs, mainly because they're so messy to eat. But boneless ribs are a different story. This is one of our favorite recipes and it's really quick and easy. The meat can be on the pricey side, but we often find it on sale.

  • 1 large onion, sliced into rings
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs (for the three of us, we make one pound and cut the recipe in half)
  • 1 bottle barbecue sauce . . . Sweet Baby Ray's is our favorite (I think it's usually 16 oz - we use a little over half when we're just making a pound.)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

1. Put onion in a layer on the bottom of the slow cooker. Top the onion with the ribs.
2. Mix the barbecue sauce, syrup, mustard, salt and pepper in a bowl and pour over the ribs.
3. Cover and cook on low for 7 - 8 hours. We turn the meat once during the day and will uncover it for the last 30 minutes or so to let the sauce thicken up a little.

The meat is so tender and delicious! I sometimes do one of the steam-in-the-bag veggie and rice sides and rolls or baked potatoes and a salad. I'm getting hungry just writing about this!

March 23, 2009

I didn't even say it out loud . .

I was had such a productive morning at work. I left for lunch feeling great! I picked Jack up at my mother-in-law's house today and it went really smoothly. Usually he fusses as the thought of leaving her and his cousin, Emma. But today, he went willingly. When we got home, I gave him a glass of milk and he told me he was tired and wanted to rest. Wait, what? My child was asking for a nap?! Unbelievable!

I put him down and I made my lunch, preparing to head to my office and continue my work day. As I was putting the chicken salad onto the bread I thought to myself, "Wow . . . this has been a really great day. Glad I didn't say it out loud because that might ruin it." Those were the exact words going through my mind.

And within five minutes, my computer crashed. Well, not crashed, exactly. It won't boot up. So I think I have to re-install Windows, but Mozy hasn't backed up in 28 days. And there is no way I'm going to lose my 200+ templates, PLUS the files for the customers I've been working with over the last 28 days whose files haven't been backed up.

So, I have customers waiting patiently and I have a tearstained face from the frustration. I've now spent about 10 hours working on this and have figured out a way to back up my files without actually booting up. I've got everything I need to reinstall Windows tomorrow once I'm sure my files are safe and sound. I just hope everything goes as smoothly tomorrow morning as I'm envisioning it.

My biggest disappointment is that the time I had carved out for Jack tonight was completely overshadowed by my stress. On top of that, my house is a wreck because Jack just kind of had free reign while I was hunched over a computer. It's shocking how much mess a toddler can make in an hour. Especially one prone to moving stools and chairs wherever he needs to if he can't reach something.

I'm trying not to let this get me down (anymore than it already has). Here's to a better day tomorrow . . . but I'm certainly not going to wish for it out loud.

March 21, 2009

As heard after four riveting rounds of the game "Don't Break the Ice"

Me: Do you want to play again?

Jack: No, restin'.

Me: Ok, you need a break?

Jack: Takin' turns. Workin'.

Me: Oh, yeah? Are you tired?

Jack: Sweaty.

March 20, 2009

Conversations with Jack, Month 21

So, I had this idea to sit down with Jack and the video camera once a month just to talk to him. I thought it would be neat to look back month by month at his development.

Well, this month it was a bit of a disaster. Getting him to sit still was impossible unless he was sitting in his high chair. Getting him to sit in his high chair anymore is impossible unless I offer him a toaster waffle. Nutritious, I know. Also, he totally freezes in front of the camera. SO he'll just be yacking away, but when the camera comes out, he just stares.

So, here's a compilation of all of the conversations I tried to have with him. Just a warning . . . it's over 4 minutes long. And you'll get some great shots of chewed up waffle. You should also know that I turn the screen so that Jack can see it when I talk to him. So those blank stares directly to the right of the camera are more than just pensive gazes.

I only wish I had included all of the times when he put his index finger up and said, "Hold on a minute."

Conversations with Jack, Month 21 from Sara on Vimeo.

March 19, 2009

Toddler memory verses

I'm trying to come up with some sort of "system" for teaching Jack Bible verses. Seeing as how he repeats EVERYTHING (he just walked into my office and said "OH MY GOODNESS! MORE TOYS!"), I thought it would be good to get him repeating scripture.

I thought that surely someone online would have shortened toddler memory verses somewhere. But I've been searching and coming up short. Any ideas for resources on these things? Or have you done this already? I'd be glad for any advice/tips.

I did find these few another mom's blog (I don't know her . . . google just introduced us a few minutes ago):

God loves me. John 3:16
God made me. Psalm 139:13
I do good things because I love Jesus. John 14:15
Share what you have. It makes God happy. Hebrews 13:15
Be kind to one another. Ephesians 4:32

I know that I can take verses and shorten them, but I thought if someone else had already done the work, I'd borrow. I was really hoping to find some sort of curriculum that had stories and a verse for the week. Maybe I just need to write something. But that would be getting a little too close to actually using my master's degree . . .

March 18, 2009

Keeping it real

I have a dozen half-posts waiting to be published, but I can't put any of them out there for the world to read. First, I can't think in complete thoughts right now. Second, it's been an ultra-frustrating week and there are some things that I can't say online without being cryptic and vague. So they're better off not posted. Maybe it's just the pregnancy hormones talking. Or, maybe things have really been this frustrating. Or both.

Instead of telling you about all of the things and people that are driving me crazy and raising my blood pressure with their ignorance, selfishness and total lack of moral compass, I'll tell you what I'm thankful for this week.
  • I had a really good haircut yesterday. I've found a stylist in Jackson that I love, and it's so nice to not have to drive to Ann Arbor anymore. I mean, my hair still pretty much looks the same as always, but she does a nice job and doesn't leave my hair looking uneven (a common problem). And, it doesn't cost me a full day's paycheck to have it done.

  • I found a box of 96 crayons that are probably about 15 years old . . . I didn't even know I had them. It was like Jack's own little Christmas when I pulled them out on Monday.

  • Bethany couldn't babysit for Jack this week until Thursday, so I thought I'd have an fairly unproductive week. Fortunately, SAU had spring break so Jodi was able to fill in. Awesome. This alleviated a lot of would-have-been stress. She was here Tuesday and Wednesday and Bethany will be here Thursday and Friday. These girls have saved my week!

  • I've had some really sweet customers this week. Cute kids and really nice to work with. That always makes life enjoyable!

  • I bought some of those wire mesh shelves for Jack's toys in the basement. I feel like we have so much space back now that they're not spread everywhere.

  • I've been feeling little flutters that I'm almost positive is the little guy living inside of me. Not kicking . . . just shifting. It's a familiar, comforting feeling. Which I'll need to be reminded of in 20 weeks when he's using my internal organs as a punching bag.
Ok, I'm going to put Jack in bed and do something to readjust my attitude. I'll be back when I'm more cheerful.

March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Prayer for the faithful

May the Strength of God guide us.
May the Power of God preserve us.
May the Wisdom of God instruct us.
May the Hand of God protect us.
May the Way of God direct us.
May the Shield of God defend us.
May the Angels of God guard us.
- Against the snares of the evil one.

May Christ be with us!
May Christ be before us!
May Christ be in us,
Christ be over all!

May Thy Grace, Lord,
Always be ours,
This day, O Lord, and forevermore. Amen.

Here's a link to his more famous breastplate prayer.

March 15, 2009

Ai yai yai

Jack's new favorite thing to say is "Ai yai yai!"
  • He knocks over his cup of water: "Ai yai yai!"
  • I'm trying to balance him precariously while changing his diaper in the car: "Ai yai yai, mommy!"
  • Murphy chews up one of his toys: "Ai yai yai!"
It might be the cutest thing I've ever heard. I can't imagine where he gets it from . . .

In other news, we had a pretty good weekend. Jack and I went shopping Saturday morning and my parents came to visit Saturday afternoon and evening. We went to church this afternoon and then Kyle took Jack on an "adventure" consisting of the playground, petting farm and to Freddie's for ice cream. It killed me to not go along, but I got a lot done at home.

This afternoon, I was trying to figure out what I did with all of my extra time when I was pregnant with Jack but had no etsy business and no child to chase around. And then I remembered . . . my thesis. Typing the word "thesis" still strikes panic in my heart. I'm so glad that's over. Though, I'd be lying if I said I don't miss school at all. Hmmmm . . .

March 13, 2009

Second least favorite . . .

Today, I have to call many college-aged applicants and either offer them a job, or crush their dreams of counseling at SBC this summer. This is number two on my list of least favorite job responsibilities. Number one? Dealing with situations like this.

The thing that makes it most difficult is that if we had more positions available, there isn't a single applicant that we wouldn't have hired. They are all phenomenal. But we had all but two of our spots filled by February and we only have one female and one male position left.

Ugh. Here goes nothing . . .

March 12, 2009

So, how are you feeling?

There are a lot of people out at camp today, so I was asked that question a lot. I always replied, "I'm feeling good." Because that's a lot nicer than saying, "Tired and hormonal, thanks for asking."

I really am not feeling too bad. But I do feel like I'm losing my mind sometimes. I've noticed a lot of mood swings this week, and an increase in fatigue. I thought the second trimester was supposed to bring relief from some of these things, no?

We didn't have a babysitter for Jack today, so I had him all day. I had a whole list of errands to run. First, I went to the local mall because I wanted some very specific items from The Children's Place. I put Jack in the stroller, walked all the way down the mall corridor (it's a small mall) and then realized that this mall doesn't have a Children's Place." I knew that. I just wasn't thinking. Lovely.

Then we took Jeanette's photo CD to her

After that, my plan was to go to the fed ex drop off place in Jackson, go to the post office and then head to camp for lunch, so that we could eat before Jack's nap. I knew I had to pay close attention to him so that he wouldn't fall asleep in the car. I headed in the direction of the Fed Ex drop off. I had only been there once before, but I remembered the general location. 10 minutes later, I was driving around the hospital parking lot looking for a parking spot.

Wait, WHAT?!

I have no idea how I ended up there or why I went there. I never go to that hospital for anything. I don't have doctors that use that hospital. I think the last time I was there was when my niece was born 1 1/2 years ago.

So, shaking my head, I continued on to the Fed Ex drop off. I know that it was on Michigan Ave around K-Mart or Meijer, but I drove up and down that street 10 times and never found it. I was in tears by the time I decided to just head home.

By this point, I decided to skip the post office and head straight to camp. I was doing a great job keeping Jack awake . . . until there was a tractor I needed to pass. I spent maybe two minutes concentrating on finding an opening to pass the tractor. By the time I passed, I looked back and he was asleep. I woke him up for lunch and that was it. Today's nap was over.

I'm actually coping much better than I did yesterday . . . but let's hope that Friday will be a little better . . .

March 11, 2009

In which I'm stripped of my mother of the year award

I just made a batch of this, and I'm pretty sure I won't be eating anything else until it's gone. It's amazing. And I deserve it after a day of malfunctioning computers, a disobedient, shrieking child and a disobedient, puking dog.

I spent my entire morning at camp, trying to figure out a minor computer problem. Well, it seems minor know that I know what was causing it. At the time it was major.

I'm using the television as a babysitter right now until Kyle gets home from practice. You may call it bad parenting. I call it my coping mechanism.

Jack said, "Dang it!" when I saw Murphy puking on the carpet. Nice. I know it could be worse, but it's not exactly what I wanted to pass on to him. And it pretty much cancels out every "I love you" and "thank you" that he said today.

I want to take a picture of my belly at 13 weeks, but I'm embarrassed. Because it's half 13 weeks pregnant and half 21 months post-partum baby fat.

When Kyle gets home, I will ask him to take care of bedtime, and clean the kitchen, so that I can go to bed early. Like at 7 PM. And I will pull out the "I'm carrying your second born" line if that's what it takes. But I don't think it'll get that far.

I'm about to start my second apple's worth of taffy apple dip. We'll call that dinner, I guess.

March 10, 2009

As heard on our drive home tonight

Jack: Dess what?! MOMMY! Dess what?!

Me (shocked that he knew what "guess what" meant): What?

Jack: Wuv you!

Me: Aw . . . I love you too, buddy!

Jack: So much!

Me: I love you so much, too!

Jack: No, Sammich!

Me: I love you sandwich?

Jack: Yeah! Dat's so silly!


I don't really get it, but I love it!

March 9, 2009

Make-shift dinner

Ok, I tried to pull a dinner together tonight with what I could find in the kitchen and I thought I'd share it with you because it turned out so well.

  • I thawed the last two chicken breasts we had in the freezer
  • I found a jar of Bertolli alfredo sauce
  • We have four boxes of multi-colored bowtie pasta that I got on sale a few months ago . . . they need to be eaten!
  • Whole Milk (we're out of skim)
  • A partial bag of the frozen broccoli and carrots with the frozen garlic butter sauce - probably about 4 servings left
  • A little bit of leftover mozzarella . . . Probably around 1/4 cup.
1. I thawed the chicken by putting it in a bag and immersing it in a sink full of water. This is my favorite way to thaw, though I'm sure there's a more efficient way. I'm not crazy about thawing in the microwave, because I lose track of time and always end up leaving it in there too long. And the little "automatic setting" on our microwave is a joke. I diced it up and lightly browned it with olive oil in a sautee pan. You could use that pre-cooked frozen chicken and save some time.

2. The next three steps all kind of happened simultaneously:

a. Then I cooked the pasta according to the directions, but drained it about 2 minutes early so that it was extra al dente. Since I put it in a casserole, I figured it would cook more in the oven and I don't like mushy pasta.

b. I mixed the jar of alfredo sauce with the milk. Maybe about 1/2 - 1/3 cup of milk? I know that jarred alfred sauce has a bad name, but I really like the Bertolli sauce. If you were feeling inspired, you could make it from scratch (half butter, half parmesean . . . melt and stir over medium heat) or buy the tubs that you get from the dairy section at the supermarket. But I like the jar. I heated the sauce over low heat while the water boiled and the pasta was cooked.

c. I microwaved the veggies according to the package directions. I really wanted to add peas, but I didn't have any. You could use fresh veggies, too. ALthough, I think the garlic herb flavor added a little something.

3. I mixed it all together in a bowl and then put it in a casserole dish that I sprayed with no-stick spray. Although, I'm not sure I needed to spray it. I topped it with the little mozzarella cheese that I had and baked it (uncovered) at 350 for about 30 minutes. If I had fresh parmesean (which I originally thought I did) I would have added a little to the sauce and would have topped the casserole with A LOT more. I like cheese.

It was delicious! Jack had three helpings and didn't even notice the brocolli. I had two and Kyle had a full plate. I had three pieces of frozen garlic bread that I popped in the oven, and a frozen cherry pie that I baked while we ate dinner. Most of the stuff I used was cheap or free thanks to coupons.

I was dreading dinner tonight, but it turned out to be pretty good!

March 8, 2009

In ten minutes or less . . .

::: One reason that I love this time of year is Girl Scout Cookies. They're so, so delicious. My only regret this year is that I didn't order enough. We've gone through a box of Samoas (excuse me, caramel delites I guess they're now called) and a box of Peanut Butter Patties. I'm working on the Thin Mints as I type.

::: When I was putting Jack to bed tonight, I was rubbing his back, up and down. He kept grabbing at my wrist and shaking my hand back and forth so I was hitting him. "What are you doing?" He kept doing it and saying "Like dat!" So, I started patting his back instead and he said, "I like dat!" He's getting really demanding!

::: Up until now, I'd been avoiding anything having to do with Jack and the potty . . . mainly because potty training while traveling would have been hard. Or so I would believe. So tonight, when I was getting him ready for bed, I said, "Do you have to go potty?" And he said, "Yeah." I thought maybe he was just trying to delay bedtime, but I sat him down and he went. Like he had been holding it all along. This is the second time he's done this, but I'm going to start asking him more regularly now. Or maybe that's not the way to do it. Maybe I should read a book on this or something?

::: I feel like I've been gone from camp so long and the work has PILED up. Even after two full days in the office on Thursday and Friday, I don't feel like I've made much progress. Three months from now, I'll be in the middle of staff training. We still have two program staff positions to fill and a dozen high-quality applicants . . . which makes for a difficult selection process.

::: Today was our first time back in church in SIX Sundays. Between winter retreats and vacation, we were gone during most of January and all of February. It was so good to be back. The sermon dealt with the idea of gratitude, and that if trust and obedience aren't a part of it, our gratitude is just lip service. You'll eventually be able to download it here. It addressed a lot of the financial turmoil that we're experiencing as a country and had a hopeful message. Not necessarily an optimistic or a positive message. But hopeful.

::: Right now, Jack's upstairs jumping in his bed shouting "Toly Awesome" over and over.

::: I haven't really watched TV in over a month. Seriously. It's a little because we've been busy and mostly because I started to see that it was a distraction in my life. I'm not giving it up altogether, but I'm not really following shows anymore. I just watch the morning news and might eavesdrop on whatever Kyle happens to be watching. It's kind of freeing. Although I do wonder what's happening in LOST and 24. Anyway, more about that later.

My time is up . . . off to finish some orders and head to bed.

March 6, 2009

One more thing . . .

I've had lots of questions about our Disney trip and I hope that my previous post answered some of them. But when answering another question this morning, I realized there was one HUGE tip I forgot to add:


We saw so many crying kids and screaming parents at Disney World. We heard lectures being given on how much money was spent on tickets and on how ungrateful kids were. We heard spouses arguing about which ride the kids would enjoy the most. Moms yelled at kids for not walking fast enough to get in line. I even heard one mom say, "We would have been all the way up there in line if you had gone to the bathroom when I asked you the first time!" As we were trying to find our hotel room for the first time, there was one mom standing on a balcony screaming at her kids at the pool below . . . and using language that I was not excited for my ultra-repetitive toddler to be hearing.

I know you spend a LOT of money to take a vacation like this, but you really need to decide what you're paying for. Are you paying to do every last thing that the park has to offer? Or are you paying to have a fun as a family, or with friends? Leaving the park for naps might cost you a few rides, but if your kids are less cranky in the long run, it might be worth it. You need to decide what your ultimate goal is and direct all of your efforts toward that.

And don't yell at each other. After all, it is the happiest place on earth.

March 5, 2009

I waited too long . . .

. . . and I've started to forget some of the things I wanted to write down about Disney.

So, here's what I remember. Remember, this was just our experience . . . and while I hope it's helpful to you, it's mainly so I can look back and remember some of our thoughts the next time we plan a Disney vacation (and there will be a next time)! This is long (and there are lots of typos and grammatical errors . . . guaranteed) but I've thrown in some pictures to keep you entertained!
  • We stayed at one of the Disney All Star Resorts. It was pretty basic . . . but perfect for a short stay. We weren't in the room much, so it wouldn't have made much sense to spend more on a hotel room. If we were to stay longer, we'd probably do shorter days at the parks and stay in a moderate level resort since we'd be there more.

  • The two words that are most important to know for anyone visiting a Disney theme park: FAST PASS. They're free. They're convenient. If you don't get a fast pass, you're just wasting time standing in line. You can only get one at a time (or one every two hours, I guess), but it was so nice for the rides we had them for to just walk right on. We didn't get to the Magic Kingdom until Friday afternoon, but we grabbed a fast pass for Peter Pan right away. We hit a few other rides, and then grabbed a fast pass for Winnie the Pooh. We went to a few more rides, and were able to walk right on to Peter Pan and then Winnie the Pooh at the end of the day. It was so nice to end the day that way! There are quite a few sites that will help you plan a strategy for where to go first and which fast pass to get first. I'd recommend searching for those and developing a plan that works for you.

  • Bring a stroller! The lines for stroller rental were outrageous and the lines to return them were just as bad. Luckily, Kristi clued us into this on the first night we were there. Quite often, you have to park the stroller and walk to rides in the area, so make sure yours is marked, in case someone else has the same one. If you're flying and don't want to bring a stroller on the plane, buy a cheap umbrella stroller in Florida (thanks for that tip, too, Kristi)! Getting on and off the bus with it was a little cumbersome though . . . and we only have one child, which made it a little eaiser.

  • If we could do it all over again, we'd spend the extra $10 a night to have a refrigerator in the room. We would have kept milk, juice and fruit in there so that we wouldn't have to buy breakfast. Plus, Jack could have had his breakfast while we were getting ready, which would have kept him occupied and would have saved us some time and money.

  • Meals in the park are expensive, but not as bad as I thought they'd be. Probably a little cheaper that buying meals at Comerica Park. We ate lunch at Epcot in Mexico on our first day. All three of us ordered a kids meal (chicken & cheese quesadilla, nachos and a small drink or milk) and it was less than $5 each. Along with the snacks we brought with us, it was plenty. OR, you can share a meal because some of the adult meals were HUGE. If we were going to be there for 3 or 4 days, we would probably take advantage of one of their dining plans because it allows you to eat whatever you want. But if no one in your family is that big of an eater, it might be cheaper to just eat kids' meals all day!

    We ate breakfast at our resort on the last morning, and it was only $4 more than our breakfast at McDonald's the day before. Plus, it was healthier and more filling.

  • Epcot with a 20-month old
    • We went straight for the Finding Nemo ride. It was a little dark and I think Jack might have been clinging to us at times, but he seemed to enjoy it.
    • Turtle Talk with Crush would have been perfect if Jack were a little older, but he still enjoyed it. Kyle and I did too!
    • The Donald Duck ride in Mexico was, well, boring. But it was a great precursor to Jack's nap.
    • Jack fell asleep within seconds of getting in the stroller after the Donald Duck ride. So we walked around Epcot while he napped. Older children can get passports and have them stamped in each Epcot country. I would have liked this as a kid.

  • The Magic Kingdom with a 20 month old
    • Jack freaked out at the nighttime parade and completely lost it during the Mickey's Philharmagic Orhestra. So, if you have a younger child . . . or one that scares easily, beware. Also, we were front and center for both of these things, so it might have been less traumatic had we been a little farther back.
    • We all LOVED the afternoon Block Party Parade. Jack was mesmerized. It's one that we definitely won't miss when we go back. Here were the most successful rides/attractions:

      Pooh's Park
      Winnie the Pooh
      Jungle Safari
      Peter Pan
      It's a Small World (Jack kept saying "more, more" when this was over . . . which was the exact opposite of how Kyle and I were feeling)

  • Hollywood Studios with a 20 month old
    • Jack loved the 3:00 parade at Hollywood Studios. There are so many characters in it and it was a lot of fun. It's a must-see.
    • If your child watches Playhouse Disney (or even if he doesn't) this is a neat show. It would be even better if we didn't have to sit on the floor!
    • Hollywood Studios is the place to go to get pictures taken with characters! They were everywhere! Even the most obscure characters from movies that had just been released!

  • Animal Kingdom
    • At the Animal Kingdom, we got Fast Passes for the Safari Tour right away so that we were able to just walk on later. It says you shouldn't ride if you're pregnant, but I didn't have a problem. Just to be clear . . . I'm not advising anyone to ride pregnant, but I didn't see any reason why I wouldn't be able to handle it. It was like a really bumpy car ride. We did get to see a lot of the animals and it was really cool.
    • The Finding Nemo musical was fantastic. I was amazed and how well it was put together. Seriously amazing. Jack was mesmerized for the entire 30 minutes. And he was so excited to see all of the characters he knew from the movie.
    • The petting farm wasn't that great, but Jack talked all day about the train ride to the petting farm, so maybe there's something to be said for that!

March 4, 2009

Dear Jack, Month 21

Dear Jack,

While there were some rough patches to our family vacation (specifically, the car rides to and from) I feel like we know each other better because of our time together. It could be because of the vacation, but I suppose it could also be because you're suddenly having conversations with us. You let us know when you like or dislike something. You tell us when you're feeling sad, happy, silly or excited. You joke with us and you share with us. It's like we're becoming friends. We've been together almost non-stop for 2 1/2 weeks. You'll be with babysitter the next two days and I think I might go through a little bit of withdrawal. I don't want to miss anything!

You show so much affection, Jack. Your dad was putting you down for the night yesterday and you squeezed him and said "Love you, daddy" (which actually sounds more like, "Wuv you, datty). You've told each of us that you love us before, but adding that "daddy" at the end was really special for him and it was neat for me to hear, too. An hour later, we were both still thinking about it. It almost erased my memory of you jumping up and down in your pack and play, shrieking and spitting on the floor while I was trying to get you to nap yesterday. Almost. God bless the people in the room next to us.

You are definitely showing us that you are a boy. You think it's funny to talk about tooting and burping, but thanks to your dad and I you usually say, "excuse me" when you do either of these things. After you saw Mickey Mouse, you walked over to your dad, giggled and said, "Mickey tooted." Whether or not that was true, we may never now. But we got a kick out of it nonetheless.

Speaking of kicking, it's one of your favorite pasttimes. You like to kick, and while you know that you should reserve that for soccer balls and kick balls, you don't always adhere to that rule. Sometimes, you'll just point and declare something a soccer ball . . . something like, oh, my ankle . . . and give yourself permission to kick it. Which results in the inevitable "time out." You kick when we change your diaper, you kick the back of our seats in our car, you kick your toys, you kick Murphy's toys, you kick Murphy . . . I see a potential future in soccer, buddy.

You are changing so much every day. You say so many funny things and do so many incredible things that it's impossible to keep track of them all. I am so happy to be your mom, Jack. I thank God every day for the privilege. But even if I weren't your mom, I'd be honored just to know you.


March 3, 2009

1.6 pounds

I had my first prenatal appointment yesterday and all is well with baby and me. They did an ultrasound and I saw the little guy's stumpy arm waving at me. It took my breath away.

There's a baby in there. A real, live baby.

And he just got there all by himself. I mean, without the help of any doctors or nurses or really uncomfortable procedures. Amazing. The doctor again referred to this pregnancy as "spontaneous." For some reason, I giggle a little bit every time they say that. It makes me sound like I'm the Virgin Mary or something.

Anyway, they agreed with the RE clinic that I'm about in my 13th week. I've gained 1.6 pounds but it feels like I've gained 16 pounds. I'm going to try and not gain as much as I did with Jack, but I can almost guarantee that this will be the last update about my weight that I'll publish here.

As heard ten minutes ago in our hotel room

Jack: Currle mime? Mommy?

Me: Yes, we can have cuddle time, but no talking.

Jack: Tigger and pooh. And pigget. Watch.

Me: No tv. And no talking, Jack.

Jack: Tats silly. Daddy silly. Gamma silly. Murphy silly. Good girl, Murphy. Good girl.

Me: Jack, it's time to be quiet. No talking.

Jack: four, one, two, eight, six

Me: exasperated noise

Jack: Jack, you killin' me.

Me: (through stifled laughter) No talking, Jack.

Jack: grabs my face and kisses me

Me: I love you, buddy.

Jack: No talk.

March 1, 2009

Baby Eli

Here's a sneak peek for the Parkers . . . it was so good to spend time with you guys today!

As heard after watching Finding Nemo four times in two weeks

Jack: MommyMommyMommyMommy!

Me: What Jack?

Jack: More crackers!

Me: What's the magic word?

Jack: Duuuude!*

*This is funnier if you have the scene with Crush the sea turtle fresh in your head.