Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thoughts from the One Changing the Diapers

In no particular order...

-- I spent some time this week with my friend Christine. She's from Canada. She fascinates me. I know, be careful right? If I spend time with people from other places, I might learn to think outside the box..

--Busy weekend ahead-- *Science day at Emma's school tomorrow. *Kenny Payne, long friend and missionary from Ukraine will be coming tomorrow and spending the weekend with us and speaking about the work that he's doing at the orphanage in Ukraine at church on Sunday. *Meal and service at the local mission on Sat. evening. * Service activity with the kids at church on Sunday morning..

-- I do not pride myself in being busy. It just happens often, that a lot of good, busy things fall at the same time and there is nothing that can be moved.

-- Boundries-- I do often find myself busy with things I shouldn't be. I don't understand why I feel like I'm responsible for making other's dreams come true. I think deep down my need to do that is a fear that God won't do what I think He should. I'm pretty sure that God responds to that by saying, "you were made in my image. I was not made in yours".

-- I fear that my children will inherit the above trait from me. I want much better for them.

-- My sister-in-law, Jan, recently recommended the book, Boundries: by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. I ordered it.. She's right. I need it.

-- I Love God, so passionately much.. Love and trust are not synonyms. I long to fully trust Him.

--there is a difference in bi-partisanship and compromise..
Bi-partisanship, sets opinions aside to do what's best for the whole.. Compromise tries, but fails, to meet everyone's desires and succeeds at meeting nothing.

--I think I'm a member of a bi-partisanship church.. for these purposes, see my definition above, not any other you may have heard.. I think our government could learn a lot from them.

-- My church is the closest thing I've ever seen to what I think God wants the church to be.. In one way, I hope they see that about themselves. In another way, I hope they never do.

--I'm glad we don't call ourselves a "bi-partisan church" the word is becoming tainted.. I'm sure it won't be long before it makes me nauseated to hear it.

--Our neighbor lost her mother unexpectedly this week. My heart aches for her and I can't get her off of my mind. I don't even know her that well but from the little interaction we've had, her family has come up a lot.. I can tell she loves them deeply. Please pray for her.

-- I haven't talked to my mother very much this week. Maybe I'm trying to lure her to visit.. When I did talk to her I rambled on about how I was born in a generational gap and that's why I have such a hard time figuring myself out..

-- Figuring myself out--- self-reflection is good... Too much self-reflection is actually self-centeredness. I feel like I've been teetoring on that edge lately.

--I want everyone to like me. I also want to not want everyone to like me.

--God couldn't have picked a better mate for me.. We compliment each other well.. It did not start out that way. Time and endurance has made that possible.

--My children are no where near perfect.. I thank God for that.. But I do think they are a perfect mix of Adam and me.. I would not change them if I could.

--I had a serious conversation this week with a kid that was in our youth group at one time. Kid isn't a good description because she's actually a beautiful adult. But still, I feel an indescribable closeless to those kids. I think it's because I witnessed a very raw part of their lives. It blesses me when they share it with me still today. I hope that continues to happen for the rest of my life.

--I think potty training Chloe will be hard.. I'm not really sure because I haven't really given it an honest try.. She'll soon be old enough to change her own diapers. I think it's part of my anti-mommy pressure stance. That and I don't want to have to think of a new name for my blog.



Saturday, February 20, 2010

When Heaven Touches Earth

It's not that I haven't had anything to write lately.. But that I've had too much to write.. In the past week, I've developed a marketing plan for K-mart to become a real competitor of Walmart, for Sixflags to rebound in it's industry (neither of these things did anyone ask me for or is paying me for but I'm sure I'd give it free to anyone that was willing to listen to me). I've tossed around ideas about heaven and contemplated if I'm focusing my life in a direction in which Heaven will feel like home to me. I've dreamed up different paths our church should take and wondered which path would be God's favorite and I'm working on a new mom blog with one of my favorite people, and I'll be sharing that with you soon. But as you can see, none of these things go together so every time I sit down to write about them, I find myself typing, deleting, typing deleting.. Not knowing where to start..

But, there was a moment tonight that I would like to freeze in my mind forever.. The girls beg to sleep with each other all week. We only allow them to do that on Friday night because they giggle or fight,depending on the Friday night, and they keep each other awake. This works out nicely on a night when we can sleep in the next day so on Friday nights, we throw them in there together and let them keep each other awake. Before I came to bed tonight (currently laying in bed, got to love a laptop)I went to check on them and saw this..

It's funny to me that sometimes we go through life making it so much more complicated than it has to be and waiting for that one huge moment. Yet, it's moments like these that I look at my children and it takes my breath away and I know that I've caught a glimpse of Heaven.



Monday, February 15, 2010

Disney Planning Post-- Part Two--- Things I'm glad I took

I'm definitely not one to think that stuff can make you happy but I do think there were a few things that made this trip go smoother and so I thought I'd throw out a few suggestions.

I realize that this shows how anal I can be. But keep in mind that the last trip we made to DW, I took our 18 month old straight from the hospital where she had been under 18 hours of observation with fluids for a stomach virus which the doctor assured me would "make her as good as new" and totally ready for DW. HE LIED!! But anyway, it was so rushed that I forgot her shoes and had to stop and buy shoes on the way there. And not that taking a stomach virus along to DW with you isn't stressful enough, it was even more stressful because I was in no way prepared for that trip. But more on that later. For the record, no one is paying me to advertise these items. I just really like them. But, where I could find it, I included a link to Amazon.

Our electric cooler

The rooms at the Value resorts do not include refrigerators. You can have one brought to your room to use for $10 a day. Or, you can buy one of these for around $100 and it'll pay for itself in just a couple of trips. Adam's mom got us this for a gift several years ago. It made many youth ministry trips and has served to stock drinks in our spare bedroom when we've had guests. It has been used A LOT and is still working as well as it did when we got it. Plus, it also has an adapter that plugs in in the car so you can go ahead and stock it and keep stuff cold on your way there.

*A Backpack for me-- Disney World is one of the few amusment parks that will allow you to bring food into the park. They will even allow you to bring in a soft sided cooler (I didn't go through that trouble since there are plenty of places that the meal plan can be used inside the park). However, I took a backpack with things we might need in it, including: water bottles, camera, some high protein snacks in it, a first aid kit, pull ups and wipes, hand sanitizer, a dollar umbrella from the Dollar tree for each of us and etc.

These handy Eddie Bauer backpacks that I found at Target for 13.99

I know what you're thinking.. I too once turned my nose up at the the thought of these things and remarked that I would never put my children on a leesh like an animal. But that was before I actually had children and knew that they could actually act like animals. And as a man said to me as he walked by and saw my children enjoying their freedom and me, enjoying their security, "Those things are totally kosher now"! Plus, these have the added bonus of the marker board and markers so, on the car rides and the rides on the trolley, they had a built in activity. I filled these with Disney coloring books and crayons and sticker books along with their own personal booklight and tied them on the car seats in front of them for the ride there and it kept them entertained for several hours of the trip. I even got a very impressed exclamation from Emma, "Mom, you're are so totally prepared"! And, it kept our van all tidy and neat which makes for a much better trip for me!

And speaking of crayons.. I searched high and low for this thing... I knew that someone had to have had the idea before me and I finally found the 8 in 1 crayon made by Alex at Learning Express.

Thank you Learning Express for saving me the headache of searching the car for crayons. Definitely a worth while investment at $2.99 a piece.

These neat water bottles with filters by New Wave Enviromental

I got six of these, and wrote our names on them. This way, we didn't have to haul a bunch of bottled water and, we could carry the bottles empty until we needed a drink. Then we would fill them up anywhere we wanted. Plus, they are made out of corn and are biodegradable.

I also went to the Dollar Tree and stocked up on glow sticks and necklaces and cotton candy. That way, when they asked for those things in the park, I could pull them out of my backpack and save myself about ten bucks. I also took our own princess dresses and equipment to do do fancy hairstyles because the Bippidi Boppidi Boutique is expensive and takes a lot of time.

Since we're already talking about the things that I took on the trip that were helpful, I'll go ahead and include the things that I was wishing I had with me but didn't.  Really, there are only a couple but if I ever go again, I will be investing in these two items:

The Combi Flare Stroller

I took our sit and stand stroller.  And while it was nice to have a place for both of them to sit, I don't think they both ended up in it at the same time more than twice.  I think a big stroller would be necessary if you have more than one child that isn't walking but, I think it would have been a lot less work for us to have a single, compact, lightweight stroller.  Because, though I love my sit n' stand and it fits just fine in my van, it was pretty big to be getting on and off Disney World's transportation.  And we were waiting for the trolly one night and I saw a guy walk up with this stroller, take a baby out of it, hold the baby in one arm, fold the stroller in the other and then throw the strap over his shoulder in all of about three seconds.. I don't think I've ever been so envious in my life..  If I had known that this thing existed, it would have been my travel system with the girls.  The stroller weighs 11.5 lbs.  But will hold up to 55 lbs.  It has a longer handle than you normally find on a compact stroller.   It folds super small and has a strap to hang it on your shoulder.  And even with being so compact, it still works with an infant carrier. 

And last but not least:
The Stroll'r Swivel'r

Our friends Susan and Tony and their two kids live in Lakeland Florida. They met us for a day in the Magic Kingdom. Susan had this handy little hook on her stroller and it held their backpack totally keeping it out of the way but making it very accessible when she needed it. I was a little aggrevated at myself on this one because it seemed like something so easy and inexpensive that I totally missed. I will definitely be investing in one of these soon.

I have one more planning post to make about a couple of things I would do differently. Please e-mail me with any questions that I might be able to help with. I love this stuff and would totally get a job planning these trips if I could figure out how to do that from home.


Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Disney World Tips-- Part 1 things I'm glad we did

I must admit, that when it comes to spending a fairly large amount of money on a trip, I am pretty particular about the planning. And after our disastrous trip to Disney World last year, I was on a mission to get two trips worth of fun out of one trip. So, I read everything that I could get my hands on to make our trip just a little bit more magical. And though there were a couple of glitches along the way, it was nothing compared to the trip last year. But, I will spare you and save the vomit stories for later. And instead, I will share the info that I learned in planning our trip so that maybe, I might spare someone a bit of work in research.

Things I'm glad we did:

Stayed on Disney Property:
We stayed at the All Star Music Resort. This time of year, the rooms are at a low rate of $69 dollars a night. I was a little concerned with my sheet snobbiness that I would be disappointed with the sleeping accommodations but I was pleasantly surprised to see that we had Sealy Posterpedic beds and the sheets weren't luxury but, sufficient. I did take my own sheets just in case but didn't end up using them. Staying on site also entitled us to the Extra Magic Hours. The parks rotate opening one hour early and staying open three hours late for only resort guests. I planned our days in the parks according the extra magic hours at night. We cleared out of the park during the middle of the day when the park was the busiest and went back to the hotel for naps so that we were well rested for the night time fun. And, flashing my card to show I had access to be in the park made me feel like a VIP :). Staying on property also entitles you to Disney's bus service that runs at least every 30 minutes and drops you right off at the park's gate. So much better than trying to find our own way around, wasting our gas and time trying to find a parking space.

Requested a connecting room to my parent's room:
This was so helpful because the girls could run back and forth to their hearts content. Much better than having to go outside to run back and forth. IMPORTANT! THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ADJOINING ROOMS AND CONNECTING ROOMS. ADJOINING JUST MEANS THAT THEY ARE SIDE BY SIDE. CONNECTING MEANS THAT THERE IS A DOOR BETWEEN THEM ON THE INSIDE. If you want that feature, I would recommend calling and talking to someone on the phone and making sure they know you want to be able to go back and forth without going outside. I also requested rooms far away from the lobby. This gave us quite a walk to catch the bus but the closer buildings are also closer to the pool where there is a lot of noise and I wanted to insure the ability to get a good nap.

Used the Disney Meal plan:
I'll say up front that I think if you worked really hard at it and did some of your own food, you could come out cheaper. But for us, the meal plan was the way to go. We ate like royalty and for me, one of the most stressful things about vacation is feeling like things are adding up as we go along. The meal plan is 39.99 per night per person a day and it includes 1. Table Service meal 1. Quick Service meal and 1. Snack per day. Our meal at Cinderella's Royal Table was 253 dollars for five adults and one child (chloe was free). I would have had a heart attack if I hadn't known it was already taken care of. A quick service meal for four adults one night was $84 (the kids shared). Since the character meals were such a big part of our experience, I wouldn't change the decision to go with the meal plan. Though we paid more up front, we spent less than $150 on the whole trip, gas and meals on the way included. If you count the energy we saved not being at home, that will come in under budget for the week. And, I wasn't scared to look at my checking account total when we got back home. If you are really interested in the bottom line figures, here is a great post on the Breakdown of the Disney World Dining Plan

Took advantage of the fast passes:
For further information, read about the Disney World Fast Passes. The site I just linked you to explains it real well so why do it double time.  So let me summarize by saying, you'll want them, you'll use them, you won't regret it. 

Scheduling of the Royal Table Dinner:
This happened completely by accident but the only reservation left for Cinderella's Royal Table was a very late one at 7:45 p.m. Since, the ending ceremony and fireworks were at 8:00 p.m., this gave us window seats to the fireworks as well as the dinner show with the fairy godmother and the mice. NOTE: Cinderella's Royal Table dinner includes a photo session with Cinderella and a show with the fairy god mother. It does not include dinner with all the princesses as the breakfast and lunch does. You will also read about this in my hindsight's twenty twenty section.

Made reservations for the character meals:
This is a great way to get to see the characters without having to wait in line. This time, we ate at Cinderella's Royal Table, Hollywood and Vine and Chef Mickey's. I had been told that Chef Mickey's was the best character experience and it didn't disappoint. All of the classic characters were there except for Daisy Duck. These dinners book out quick so make your reservations early. To make sure you don't miss the opportunity to see your family's favorites, I'm linking you up to a listing that tells where each character can be frequently found. Disney Character Appearances

Made friends with the Disney World employees:
Chloe's favorite princess is Snow White. Since Snow White wasn't on the schedule of character greetings, I was on a mission to find Snow White after a show or parade or something so Chloe could have her picture made with her and Emma could get her to sign her autograph book. We asked an employee where we could find Snow White. He sent us to the City Hall at the front of the park. When we got in the City Hall, they made a phone call. A few minutes later, Snow White met us in the flower garden next to City Hall for our own little meet and greet.

Making friends with the Disney World employees also earned us a spot as the "First Family In" in the "Play House Disney" show. Certificate and front row seats to boot. It's also the thing that covered my ignorance on the connecting/adjoining room issue. The guy at the desk nicely switched things around for me without a problem. In Short, the Disney staff is awesome and it can't hurt to ask.

---And the most important thing we did----

Took two extra set on of hands:
It's Disney World.. Lot's of miles + not a lot of sleep + plus live action cartoon characters = Crazy Children. Plain and simple. Man on man defense is not good enough. But, a 2:1 ratio worked quite nicely. Thank you mom and dad for tagging along and going along with my anal plans that included all the kiddy activities without a single complaint. I totally had my cake and ate it too.

Since this post has gotten quite lengthy and I'm severely lacking in sleep, I will come back with a Part 2-- Things I'm glad we took soon.

And may your night be magical and may your prince always kiss you goodnight.



Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Sad, sad, sad... How did I get here?

I had to take a break from the Disney World posts to share a sad, sad realization that I have come to.

Here recently I have found it has become increasing difficult to deny the fact that I'm an adult. For so long, I found myself in situations when I was buying or selling a house, making a decision about a preschool, purchasing life insurance, spending the night in the hospital with my child, wearing the vomit that put my child in the hospital, and etc, there has been this overwhelming feeling: "I really don't feel like I'm old enough to be handling this, shouldn't my mom and dad be at least watching over my shoulder to make sure I'm doing it right"? More recently, those thoughts have shifted to, "how did I get to this place". Very recently, a conversation that I had with Emma drove the point home and I declared it official. I AM OLD. There is no someone that is 70 being older than me. No Freshman or Senior status. We all have to feed our kids, pay the bills and be concerned with what's going on with our government. WE-ALL-ARE-JUST-OLD. Deal with it and move on. In a way it's a liberating realization as I no longer have to fear getting old. But, this conversation deemed it official and that there is no turning back.

I'm pretty certain that I should be in therapy over the fact that I find it liberating to be self-deprecating the way I do but there is something so freeing, to me, to know that I've set low expectations of myself. Like I said, "in need of therapy". But, none the less, I shall share one of those stories that I really should keep to myself. But hey, life is nothing if you can't laugh at yourself right?

Emma was supposed to dress up for career day at school the other day. Now, even though I would never choose another path for myself, I put up a strong resistence to Emma simply wanting to go as a mother. Now don't get me wrong, I think the job I'm doing is the most important job I'll ever do. But I found myself tossed around in the throws of wanting so much more for my child than what I am. This really isn't the sad part. It actually was very sweet. So after offering up every career that I could think of, every costume in our dress up box: doctor, dancer, teacher, pirate... She was set on being a mommy. So we decided that this would be the one exception that she would be able to take a baby doll to school. And then came the decision of what to wear. And this is how that conversation went.

Me: Now, we must figure out what you will wear. We could grease your hair up, put on a pair of yoga pants that you really shouldn't be wearing and send you barefooted.
Emma: [Looks at me in her typical, come on mom look] Hey, can I wear one of your fancy dresses that I use to dress up in?
Me: NO
Emma: Why not?
Me: because they are not dresses, they're night gowns (IE lingerie)
Emma: Oh, well then why don't you ever wear them?

GRREAT... I'm that mom.

And, to add insult to injury, she wouldn't even wear an apron saying, "why would a mom wear an apron? That's what a cook wears".

She settled on a simple shirt with a feux camisole underneath, a pair of blue jeans and tennis shoes and a non-greasy ponytail. Which I must agree was so uninterestingly me. I guess I've managed to pull it off well enough to make her want that life. I have a sneaky suspicion that she has no plans of wearing an apron either but, is quite certain that she'll wear tons of fancy night gowns. I was too, when I was six.