Friday, October 31, 2008

The Degrees Of Mom

As we go about our daily lives, we see all different sorts of parents. Some are the ones we aspire to be, some we feel sorry for, some we shake our heads at, and some well some just shouldn't be parents at all (see the ones driving from Iowa to abandon their teenagers "legally" in Nebraska). How can we really tell which mom is which kind? It's easy:

Ideal Mom:
This mom created her child's Halloween costume from scratch (and yes, she's also throwing the class's party). She started on the costume back while summer vacation was still in full force, browsing catalogues for ideas before running them past her child. Her child may have chosen the most complicated idea, but she's going to go through with it anyway. In fact, when the costume is completed on the third day of school back in September, you can't see any seams, and it looks professionally made. While we aspire to be her, I'll admit that I also hate her a little bit.

Great Mom:
This mom talked to her kids in September about what they wanted to be for Halloween, and immediately found the perfect costumes online and ordered them. When the costumes came and the kids changed their minds (not that this ever happens), she calmly returned the costumes -- because she smartly kept the receipts -- and bought the new costumes.

Good Mom:
This mom helped her children decide what to be for Halloween based on their interests. She may have steered them to the more approporiate and cheaper costumes, but she let her children choose what they wanted to be for Halloween and went with the flow. It's possible that one of two of the favored Halloween costumes were gone by the time she went costume shopping, but everyone is happy.

Creative Mom:
She puts together a totally rocking costume with just a bit of this and a bit of that already sitting around the house. She takes an old sock, some gum, a belt, and an electrical cord and all of a sudden, her offspring look like a working microwave oven. These moms baffle me, to be honest. I look at those items and see the words Goodwill flashing in front of my eyes. Personal issue, I know.

2003 - I borrowed a costume from a friend with children and dressed Mister Man in a borrowed pumpkin costume. At three weeks old.

2004 - Mister Man was a dog. The costume was made from felt, and the hood wouldn't stay on his head. All in all, it was a pretty cheap costume.

2005 - I found a lion costume on sale after Halloween 2004 and bought it for $5. Mister Man was a lion. Oops, the costume was too big. I tied up the tail so that it didn't drag on the ground and trip him. Again. Little Miss wore the borrowed pumpkin costume.

2006 - Mister Man was the lion again (for school). It's possible that his ankles were exposed due to a growth spurt. Fortunately, he received a train engineer dress up costume for his birthday, so he wore that trick or treating. Little Miss was the puppy.

2007 - Mister Man was the engineer again. We lost the plastic walkie talkie somewhere on our trick or treating route, and I spent an hour with a flashlight retracing our route with no luck (I get points for that, right?). I'm silently cheering that this costume is one size fits all up to 8 years old! Little Miss was a witch that I found for $5 somewhere. It's possible that the dress was long enough that she tripped over it. Repeatedly.

2008 - Little Miss is steered into being Tinkerbell because we have a Tinkerbell dressup costume in our dressup trunk. She's thrilled as she's absolutely obsessed with Peter Pan. Mister Man refuses to be the engineer again (drat!). He wants to be Spiderman. I talk him into being a baseball player -- we already have a jersey, shoes, a mit, jock (1st birthday present from a friend of mine), and glove. And he can use Daddy's eyeblock. Since we're planning to have him play tee-ball next summer, we can get the pants now when they're cheap! Whoo hoo!

Oops. I went to Costco with Mister Man. He saw a Spiderman costume for $19.99. He never asks for anything and generally finds things he wants to buy for other people. He asks if he can please, please, please be Spiderman. I think back on my Halloweens prior and agree.

Last night, I pulled the Tinkerbell costume from the dressup trunk in preparation for today. She begs to try it on, and I tell her she can wear it for just three minutes. We put it on, and it slides off. Hmmm. I put it on again and redo the Velcro. It's loose, so I check the size 4-6X. It's long enough, but she's only 26 pounds at 3 years plus (and 38 inches tall). Hmm. I try pinning it. It requires pinning an overlap of almost seven inches. I put the wings on, and they immediately fall sideways. As she turns around to look at me, I see that a nipple is showing. I instigate a tantrum by explaining that the costume is too big for her, but maybe she can be Tinkerbell next year.

I head out to do some costume shopping. The night before Halloween, and I go costume shopping at 7pm. Party City? It's a madhouse with full-price costumes that are primarily for adults and nothing cute, so I walk out. Target had nothing (Target let me down!). Wal-Mart's next. They had literally three costumes in a 3T size. All of them were really flimsy, and I couldn't justify paying the $12.88 for a costume even I didn't like. Instead, I bought a turtleneck and some tights so I could maybe keep her warm (and covered). I start thinking that if I put a winter coat under the costume, it might fit.

This morning when Little Miss woke up, I explained that she could either be the witch from last year to school or wear a golden princess dress that we have in the dressup trunk that I know fits her. After some pouting about Tinkerbell, she decides on the witch. Oops, the hat is missing. Fortunately, she doesn't remember that it had a hat. And instead of dragging on the ground, it's now a calf-length dress. She's happy enough, and I'm planning on the winter coat Tinkerbell outfit for trick or treating.

It's now 2:35pm and 73 degrees. This is warmer than it was the last two days I spent in Orlando. We're not wearing a winter coat under the costume. In fact, I may not even make her wear a turtleneck to keep warm. Now what?

Nope, I don't even fall on the mom scale for Halloween. I'm going to go hang my head in shame, as I start planning on costumes for next year.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hired and Fired

David Letterman heard that I've been spending my time in Orlando, and he asked that I provide a witty, non-political Top 10 list. Oddly when on vacation, I don't tend to sleep well, so the witty part I may fall a bit short on, but I can at the very least do the non-political part, right?

As this may be my only gig for the beloved Mr. Letterman, let's get a good drumroll going, shall we?

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Top Ten Things You Need To Figure Out Before Going On Vacation:

Number 11: (ok so I thought of an extra one; I'm getting fired already!)
Check every clock in the room.
I've failed to do this before and been woken up at obscene hours by very loud radio alarms due to someone's really poor sense of humor. When I checked the clocks in our room this time, one was on the wrong time altogether and every other one had an alarm set to go off between 2 and 4am. Yeah, really funny, people.

Number 10:
Does where you're staying provide the typical hotel amenities?
Lucky me, the hotel I stayed at had a washer and dryer in the unit, including detergent. That meant I had to pack way fewer clothes than I would have otherwise, and with the way the airlines are jacking up fees on everything, less luggage is a good thing!

Unlucky me, the hotel provides shampoo and soap only. No conditioner. No lotion. Whoops. I was sort of counting on using the good Marriott products, as I love the citrus smell they have. See above on the less luggage part.

Number 9:
Find something to do if the weather isn't exactly what you planned.
"Record lows" droned the tv weathermen the last two days we were in Orlando. Granted, record lows for Orlando aren't quite the same as they are for, say, Anchorage, but when you're planning on spending your days outside at the pool... well, let's just say we didn't spend our last two days at the pool. And Orlando is sort of an outdoor kind of place.

Number 8:
When traveling, bring along a jacket and long pants, even if you don't think you'll need them.
See above on the record lows thing. And honestly, even when you're traveling in a climate that stays warm like it's supposed to, indoor places like restaurants tend to accidentally turn the air conditioning down to meat locker. As my mommy always says, Don't forget your restaurant sweater!

Number 7:
Don't forget a thermometer and Tylenol, especially if traveling with children.
So you all heard about Little Miss's ER trip for her burst eardrum. I didn't mention our other incidents with her. While on Zithromyacin for six straight days -- not missing a dose, mind you -- Little Miss had a fever of at least 100 degrees. I have a feeling a visit to the pediatrician is in my near future. And on Tuesday morning, she was flying like Tinkerbell with my mom. I didn't realize it as I bent down to pick up a dropped piece of paper, but she was flying to me. I figured that out when I stood up right into her mouth. My head still hurts. Fortunately, as we all know by now, mouth injuries bleed a lot, but that doesn't always mean they're serious.

Number 6:
Travel with the magazines and Pull-Ups in your suitcase.
When you pack for your trip on the way to vacation, you always pack well. Things fit. It isn't too heavy, and it's all good. Somehow by the time you make it to the end of your vacation and try to repack, it's a different suitcase. My like the pants you wore on the trip down, it somehow magically shrunk. By traveling with magazines that you read and then discard and the Pull-Ups that are well used and discarded, you've suddenly created extra room and relieved weight in your suitcase. But shhhh don't let anyone else in your traveling party in on your secret.

Number 5:
A flashlight makes a great tool while on vacation.
Inevitably, your room will have a light that inconveniently doesn't work. Voila, flashlight! Or you need to find a way to keep the wee ones quiet while others are sleeping -- flashlights into a darkened bedroom for a "monster" search! Or better yet, go on a Woozle hunt at night to sneak in some exercise!

Number 4:
Find out if your hotel is at all under construction when you'll be there.
The hotel we stayed at has some neat features. They have the duck shaped paddleboats that you can go out on the lagoon with and burn off some of those traveling calories. And they have surrey bicycles that are great for the whole family to use when it's getting too chilly for the pool. And they have one of those huge climbing mazes that are a great way to burn off excess energy after dinner and before bedtime. Yeah. All but the boats were closed due to construction. And the boats were in a different location that some people had a difficult time locating. It's a good thing that no wee ones remembered this and had been promised some of these activities. And if you believed that, I've got a bridge to sell you!

Number 3:
Figure out where the pools and activities and restaurants are around the hotel.
This one I figured out when staying at the Luxor many moons ago. I had requested a pyramid room because that just sounded so cool. I went to the desk bleary eyed early the next morning to request a move to a tower room, as the noise never stopped. When I look around at some of the rooms by the pool, or when I listen to the karaoke and bar music, I heave a big sigh of relief that I made sure our room overlooked the golf course instead. Granted, there are vehicles running by outside our room regularly all night long, but any room would hear those.

Number 2:
Make sure you liberally use that "Do Not Disturb" sign.
Wee ones need to nap? Stick that sign in the door. You're taking a shower? Stick that sign in the door. You're eating breakfast? Stick that sign in the door! I have a huge pet peeve of being interrupted by housekeeping, especially on the day I'm checking out when I clearly haven't checked out yet and it's 8am. Of course that also means that we went without housekeeping service for three of our eleven days, but that's a small price to pay. No comment on housekeeping actually calling our room at 3:30 to see if we wanted housekeeping service that day. Guess who had been sound asleep at 3:30. Maybe I should add a tip about turning off the ringer on the phone!

And the Number One Thing To Know Before Going On Vacation is....
Always travel with grandparents.
I have not had to take a single child to the nasty, yucky, putrid public bathrooms in and around Orlando. For one who detests public restrooms, this is a major blessing. And I think I brushed only one set of teeth the whole trip. The best part? The Disney Classics book that was read 18 kajillion times? I only read one of those stories.

And there you have it. My very own top 10 -- ok, 11 -- list! And now you understand why I've been immediately relieved of my duties by Mister Letterman. Sorry, sir! I know this wasn't up to snuff, but I tried.

PS We had a full kitchen in the hotel, and I could see where people would leave a lot of stuff behind -- their pool toys, extra food, souveniers they forgot, etc. I had noticed that when I saw housekeeping carts in the hallways, I noticed that frequently some of what guests had forgotten included soft-sided coolers. It took until Day 8 before I realized that the housekeeping staff owned those coolers. And that they put whatever leftover food they wanted to keep in those coolers. In one way, I was sort of hugely creeped out by that. On the other hand, I'm really glad that some food at least isn't going to waste!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mmmm Mojito Granita

Sounds yummy, doesn't it? It's shockingly easy, too. Really. Granita in general is a great, totally overlooked, dessert. It sounds so fancy and tastes so heavenly, yet it's super simple to make. I do strawberry, watermelon, expresso, or whatever I have on hand granita. I've never had one turn out badly.

In my efforts to return to summer, bring on Mojito Granitas!

You'll need:

2 1/2 c water
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c lightly packed fresh mint leaves
8 limes, juiced
Zest of 3 limes (use the zest from the limes you juice and zest first!)
4 T rum

Add the water to a nonreactive saucepan.

Pour in the sugar.

Zest the lime directly into the pot. Then turn on the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Stir periodically until you have all the sugar dissolved.

Set aside a half dozen or so mint leaves for later in the recipe. You don't want to be like me and forget and have to fish out mint leaves! Place the larger portion of mint leaves into the pot and turn off the heat. Cover and let it stand for 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Chop those reserved mint leaves finely.

I find it easiest to place the mixture into a measuring cup at this point.

Pour the cooled mixture through a strainer and into a 9x13 metal pan (don't use nonstick). I freeze my pan for awhile beforehand to make the freezing process go faster. Press on the cooked mint leaves to get all the yummy goodness out of them.

Add the lime juice to the pan.

Mmmmmm and the rum, too! Did I mention adding the minced mint leaves?

Your pan should look like this. Good job, wasn't that easy? Put it in the freezer. Carefully!

After a half hour, remove the pan from the freezer and use a fork to scrape the ice. This will force it to fluff up and form nice small(er) crystals.

Keep doing this every thirty or so minutes, until it's totally frozen and fluffly, like below!

Keep it in the freezer until you serve, as it melts quickly. If you like more or less lime flavor, adjust the juice and zest appropriately. Don't put more rum than this calls for, however, or it won't ever freeze!


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Halloween, Neighborhood Style

Halloween where I live now is a big deal. This is only our third Halloween, so we're still getting it all figured out, but it's definitely been a blast so far.

We were lucky that the first year our next door neighbors -- the ones with no kids, so they'd think about the importance of this -- warned up that they'd given out a couple hundred lollipops the year before. My husband kept a tally last year of trick or treaters. Grand total? 342. Seriously. And he didn't count parents or double count the few groups that came through twice. Oh, and yes, I had to dip into our collected candy to have enough for everyone who came to the door.

How do you get so many? It's actually pretty simple. We live in a neighborhood with 118 houses. We have sidewalks. Oh, and the rest of our school district -- or at least the vast majority of the elementary school district -- lives on acres. Literally. Two of the five towns nearest us have a five acre minumum, and the others are one or two acres. That doesn't make for good trick or treating. I'll have to take a picture this year of the cars filling the streets with people who hop out to trick or treat where I live. And yes, we only give one small bar to those people while giving three or four to the ones who live in our neighborhood.

I've also started hearing a lot about places that do trick or treating not on Halloween. That seems odd to me, and luckily it's Halloween only for us. The elementary buses drop kids off right around 4pm, but we start seeing middle schoolers are early at 3:20.

I'm only mildly disappointed that I'll miss out on one of the more disturbing sights this year. One street over, there's been a woman who year after year has dressed as a slut-witch and been drinking at neighbor's within shouting distance of her house. As you approach her house, she shouts "The candy's on the truck! Take just a couple! The candy's on the truck!" over and over again. This is the mom of a high schooler and a college aged kid. You can imagine how she looks in the slut-witch costume. It's kind of like driving past a car accident. Unfortunately, she moved this year and a middle school teacher now lives in her house.

On the plus side, we have neighbors five houses south of us who cook hot dogs as their treat every year. I missed this the first year when Mister Man was three and Little Miss was in the Baby Bjorn, but I heard about it just after I returned from trick or treating from my husband who was anxious to know what I thought of the hot dogs. While I briefly considered walking down to get a hot dog, it wasn't quite worth it. Last year, we planned it so that we got there about halfway through trick or treating so everyone got a snack before we continued on the inner ring of houses. And they were actually good hot dogs! Here's hoping the economy hasn't put the kibosh on that one.

There is a darker side to Halloween in our neighborhood, though.

I'm consistently disappointed by the language and behavior that I hear from the older kids who are allowed to trick or treat on their own. The way they talk about other people -- including those within earshot -- is deplorable. And the amount of swearing is really sad. I hate having the wee ones exposed to that. I've unfortunately never caught up to them to discuss it with them (I'm stupid like that but you'd be amazed how frequently it works), so we frequently have a sit down break to "count our candy" which gives them a chance to get out of earshot.

And last year, we had a disaster. Every year (ok, except this year because we're in Orlando until the day before Halloween), we carve pumpkins. Essentially that means my husband painstakingly carves his single pumpkin for about five minutes while I spent hours completing the three for me and the wee ones. They go out on our porch to avoid putrefying in our house immediately and stay there until I need to toss them.

Trick or treating ends at 7pm by us, although we still have teens coming until almost 7:30. Turning out the lights is the time honored way of saying you're done with Halloween, but being a schoolteacher and teacing middle school in district, my husband won't turn off our lights until everyone around us already has. He has a huge fear of being egged or worse.

Last year, the lights went off, and we started putting the wee ones to bed. Unlike this year where a certain body part of witches is already freezing off, it was fairly warm, so we had the screen door open. We could hear laughing in the street as a band of kids wandered around. Then we heard silence for a moment, assuming they had moved on. Nope. Shortly thereafter, we heard a HUGE splat. It was pretty unmistakeable.

The porch light immediately went on, and we could see all four of our pumpkins smashed in the middle of the street. Needless to say, I wasn't happy, but the perpetrators were long gone, although my husband did go in search of them. From talking to people I know, ours were the only pumpkins targeted.

Thanks a lot, boys. And yes, I'm going to make the radical assumption that it was boys. When the wee ones woke up, they were devastated that their pumpkins were smashed. I still get periodic questions about why someone would smash their pumpkins in the street. Of course, my plan had been to tell them that Halloween was over so we got rid of their pumpkins, but my mom told them what happened before we could warn her.

This year... it won't be so easy. This year, my husband will stand in his costume -- a dark Scream outfit, sans mask -- in the landscaping in front after the lights are turned off. This year, we'll wait. We know it's coming. They don't. When they approach our house, my husband plans to scare the crap out of them. My hope is that he gets a chance to let them know that they're crushing small children's imaginations when they do things like that. Or at the very least that he sees who is doing it and goes to their parents -- except he's already told me that he won't. *I* might though if I know the parents.

So be warned. Halloween may be over when the lights go out, but that doesn't mean it's ok to smash pumpkins. Ever. And as the wee ones get older, they'll continue to have conversations from me about what proper Halloween behavior is -- language, attitude, etc. Anyone want to guess how often we get a simple thank you? And once they're done trick or treating? Come on inside to eat some pizza and watch movies with your friends. Roaming bands of kids is not ok. Here's hoping that other parents (particularly those in my neighborhood) get on the stick. But with the ding dong ditching making a comeback, I'm guessing that isn't going to happen.


Monday, October 27, 2008

Happy Birthday, Rosie And Vince

So this is the kind of mom I am.

Mister Man announced to me on Wednesday last week that it was Rosie's birthday that day. Rosie was turning one. He asked if we could have a birthday party, and after giggling internally I agreed. A half hour later, Mister Man announced that it was also Vince's birthday. We agreed to celebrate both at once.

Luckily, we were running low on some staples -- milk, tortillas, pasta, cheese, fruit -- and had to go to Publix anyway. My dad and I found the bakery section and their cakes awaited us. Mister Man had informed me that Rosie wanted a chocolate cake with vanilla icing.

I don't like chocolate cake. I'd decided that Publix was conveniently going to "not have" any chocolate cakes, knowing that he'd deal. I sifted through cake after cake, rejecting many because they were chocolate or because they used dark blue or red frosting -- and those bitter aftertastes gross me out. My dad pointed out one that was mostly white frosting and just a tiny bit of light blue icing on the flowers.

I picked up the cake and asked the nice lady in the bakery section to write "Happy Birthday, Rosie -- R-O-S-I-E" and she started to turn away "And Vince!" I called out to her. She sort of turned and looked at me oddly, but went to do her writing. I got my cake back.

Have I not introduced you to Rosie and Vince before? Sorry, my bad! Meet Rosie (blue) and Vince (brown).

Go ahead. Make your comments now.

Unfortunately, while I did remember to buy candles, as you can see, I didn't think about matches. Remember, we're in a hotel in Florida. I'm actually pretty happy that they don't stock matches in the rooms. Fortunately, Mister Man was a good sport, and we were able to sing and blow out the not lit candles without a fuss.

We all enjoyed our cake (and ice cream), and Mister Man let me know that Vince really loved his special chocolate cake. Oh, did I mention that in my fluster of trying to find a cake that didn't have bad icing I forgot to check what kind of cake it was? Oops. That's ok; I really don't need the cake anyway!

So of course, what do you suppose the next words out Little Miss's mouth were? Yep, Snowy is also celebrating a birthday. That day. How do you say no to a face like this?

Ok, maybe it could be Friday. We actually ended up celebrating it on Saturday, thanks to some leftover cupcakes that Dawn left me from Joe's birthday -- which yay saved me from another trip to Publix to buy more cake and sweets none of us need.

And that, lady and gentleman, is the kind of mom I am.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Everyone Has A Job

In Florida, I was told by two oh so precious and precocious children, everyone has a job.

So what are the jobs, I asked innocently.

Wellllll, Grandpa is in charge of food.

Here, we made the mistake of allowing my dad to go to the grocery store by himself. To pick up some chicken for dinner. He came back with three 8 piece fried chicken dinners, a container of potato salad, and a massive cherry coffeecake. You don't want to know the experiences I had going to the store with him. Egads!

Grandma is in charge of the dishwasher.

Mommy is in charge of cooking the food. No picture, of course, because when is there EVER a picture of a mommy?

Mister Man is in charge of putting his trains away before we leave the room each day.

Little Miss is in charge of being a good mommy to Snowy.

And, I was informed on the way to dinner, Grandma is also in charge of Margaritas! (And yes, I had a picture of Grandma at dinner with four margaritas in front of her -- the 2 for 1 special where they have to deliver the second when they deliver the first in Florida -- but someone deleted it.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Many Faces Of Sybil

Little Miss is quite the drama queen. She can change her mood in a moment, and she proved it to me at lunch the other day.

Little Miss, can Snowy (her favorite teddy) sleep with Mommy tonight?

Who's the prettiest girl in the whole world?

Do you have to go potty?

I don't think you finished your milk yet, did you?

Hey Peanut, should we skipping swimming lessons today?

And yes, that's tomato juice on her chin. She's one of those people who likes to eat whole tomatoes. With nothing on them. Like apples. Really, I have no idea where this comes from.

So is it mean of me to play with her emotions like this? You're lucky I didn't press the issue with the potty. That one frequently ends with Little Miss on the floor whining that she doesn't have to go. Of course her face is usually buried in her arms facedown, so you can't see it so well anyway then.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Whose Life Am I Living?

Have you ever felt like someone is following you everywhere you go? Or maybe that you keep running into the same person over and over again, completely unintentionally? Welcome to my life this week.

Last Friday night, I made an offhand comment on Because I Said So wishing Dawn a good vacation at Disney and mentioning that we would be going there for one day but that we were staying at a non-Disney hotel. She emailed me asking which hotel, and it turns out that ... we're staying at the same hotel. At the same time. Hmmm....

She flew United from Chicago to Orlando, and (ok, so this part isn't a surprise) so did we. Same flight. Phew, we were one day later... and our gate was one gate off.

When we arrived, we both ended up paying $200 more for our rental cars than expected. Granted, mine was because my dad insisted that a 7 passenger minivan for five people (ok, six for the three days this weekend my husband is with us) isn't big enough and that we need an 8 passenger minivan.

We got to the hotel and had to change rooms. We meaning both our families. Our room smelled weird, and it wasn't near a pool that had somewhere for kids to play. We both switched to a room that was a bit more amenable to our needs. Fortunately, we aren't in the same building. That would have been a bit much for me (and I think for her, too!).

Although Dawn went to Disney much more than we did, we did end up going on the same day to the Magic Kingdom. Although we criss-crossed paths much of the day, we did end up in Tommorrowland at the same time near the end of her day there (and what we thought was near the end of ours). Weird how far you have to go to see someone who's so close (we're both in suburbs of Chicago). She's a very sweet and nice lady, I must say. And her family is so cute and sweet, too.

After Disney that day, we both came back to the hotel to eat spaghetti and meatballs. That wasn't planned. The spaghetti for both of us was from the local Publixx -- the grocery store down here we both got our essentials from.

See? If only I had four more wee ones and wrote a really funny popular blog and had a book deal, I'd think we were living the same life. Oh, and the clincher? Both of us are now sick. I had almost no voice this morning and could really go for a nice cup of tea wrapped up in bed. Sounds eerily similar, doesn't it?

The good news is that we all enjoyed Disney. Some high and lowlights of the day at the Magic Kingdom for me:

Mister Man was a great sport. The couple rides that he didn't like so much afterwards, he was really good during the ride. The Haunted Mansion, which he insisted on going in, he decided would be better when he's six or seven. He also wasn't a fan of Goofy's Wiseacre Barnstormer (or whatever) roller coaster. It was the first roller coaster he'd ever been on, and he decided he'd rather wait until he's six or seven -- sensing a theme here? -- to go on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I was mildly bummed because that meant I had no one to ride my two favorite rides with and thus couldn't go on them.

Little Miss was a scaredy-cat, and I blame my mom for that one. She freaked out on the Dumbo ride, so we were stuck at the bottom until the end when they make every elephant go up to the top, at which she panic-mumbled "I don't wanna, I don't wanna" over and over. She also hid during the Snow White Ride, Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan (or at least when Captain Hook was visible), and Pirates of the Carribbean.

They loved the Mad Teacup Party. The first time we went on it, my dad came with the wee ones and I. My dad doesn't like to spin and stopped us every time I got more than a mild spin going. We went on again for our last ride of the day without my dad, and we spun so fast I could hardly stand up at the end. They loved it! And Mister Man and I had to do a repeat on Buzz Lightyear because we loved that one so much.

Driving the Indy Cars was a challenge. Little Miss came with me and started out upset that she couldn't reach the steering wheel when I had us buckled in tightly. Then she was upset when she couldn't steer perfectly without bumping the track guide. I ended up steering from the passenger seat, which wasn't too effective but got us through.

We saw Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Eyore, Captain Hook, Mister Smee, Alice in Wonderland, and the Mad Hatter at various places throughout the park -- oh, and the monkey from the Jungle Book but I don't remember his name. The wee ones thought that was so cool. It wasn't how I remembered though where the characters wandered the park and shook people's hands and paused for brief pictures. Now, they had a designated space where people lined up with their autograph books and waited in line for a half hour to spend a couple minutes with the character. Call me mean, but we just saw the characters from afar, waved at them and moved on.

We also found some rides that were real favorites that the wee ones truly enjoyed. I think Little Miss would go on the Winnie the Pooh and the Peter Pan ride (hiding during Captain Hook, admittedly) over and over again. Seeing their faces as they experienced the rides was worth every penny.

It was a gorgeous day! It was sunny but not too bright. We had just a little breeze, and it was just warm enough without being too hot or at all chilly. My mom's jacket went unused. And the crowds weren't bad. Most rides for most of the day were either five or ten minutes long. Some were twenty to twenty-five, but we were able to fast track the majority of those, so we went on tons of rides without having to deal with too many yucky people.

I accidentally grabbed the wrong princess dress for Little Miss. You'll see that she's wearing a "normal" yellow dress with two princesses pictured in hearts on the chest part. I had brought down a pink Sleeping Beauty princess dress for her from our collection of dress up clothes in the basement. However, since I'd packed at 11:30 the night before we left, I didn't check too closely. The dress is a 6X, I think. No matter what size it was, it was so big that it fell off Little Miss constantly and was pretty indecent. She was not happy that I wouldn't let her wear the way too big dress to Disney. Bad mom!

We took no naps when we went, and the wee ones were great. No meltdowns all day. For all the walking we did and all the stuff we saw, we had remarkably few disagreements the entire day. If only every day were like that.

No one cooperated for pictures. I couldn't get anyone to sit still and look at me the entire day. I tried for awhile to get some cute pictures but then gave up and just focused on having fun with the wee ones. In the end, I think that's the right theory.

My mom insisted on shoving food in their faces every time they got off a ride. Granted, these were snacks she'd brought along, but let the wee ones eat when they're hungry so they learn the signals their bodies are sending them. They don't need to eat constantly. It wasn't my worry that the food she was giving them was unhealthy but that the message she was sending them (and she does this regularly -- including this morning shoving (literally) strawberries into their mouths) isn't a good one. When we stopped for lunch, Mister Man didn't want anything to eat bceause he wasn't hungry. Grrr!
All in all, I could do more Disney. My mom's not a theme park or ride person though, so she doesn't get why you'd want to go back. I'm glad we aren't there today because it's chilly -- relatively -- and rainy, but I could definitely do this a few more days. But learning from Dawn, I'd definitely intersperse some pool days in between!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Step Away From The Golf Club

Spending time in Florida with my parents and the wee ones has been interesting so far. Luckily, we've had no more repeats of blood coming out anyone's ears. But it reminds me of some times growing up. When I was younger, my parents had a condo in Florida. Granted, it was near Tampa and not Orlando, but whatever.

We would spend most of the month of August there every year. Do you remember being a teenager? A moody, brooding teenager? Who was spending an entire month in great proximity to her family with friend far, far away? No? Can you pretend?

My dad reminded me of this lovely experience yesterday. Perfect timing for Momma Kat!

Remember that I'm somewhere in the neighborhood of 12-14 at the time. And it's hot and sticky, and we've been stuck with each other for a very long time already -- since we always drove from Minnesota to Tampa. You wonder why I will now not do road trips.

Admittedly, I'm a bit of a perfectionist. And I might be just a tiny bit competitive. Maybe.

We decided -- we being my parents, my sister and I, and the two friends we had brought down to entertain us -- to go mini-golfing one afternoon. Mini-golf is a great activity. It's easy, everyone can do it, and it has some funky things about it that keep it interesting.

Well, maybe for those people who can get the ball in the hole. Did you know that you're only allowed 8 swings in mini-golf? I do.

Hole one... pretty much everyone got a hole in one or at least under par. I was five strokes before getting the ball in the hole. Bummer.

Hole two... more holes in one. None for me. This was, I think, my first 8 shot of the day.

Hole three... seriously, more holes in one? This game is not that hard. What's the problem? Why am I the only one ending up with the stupid high scores? I've outscored people's entire games on just this hole alone. I start grousing and possibly stomping to the next hole.

Hole four... yeah, more holes in one for others. I start to get what feels like incredibly patronizing advice from my mom and turn my ire on her. And I didn't get the ball into the hole, no matter how hard I tried.

Hole five... I've given up by now and am just randomly swinging my club. The friends make a comment, and I snap back. They're now irritated with me, and I get a warning of some sort from my mom. Whatever.

Hole six... I hit the ball -- not on purpose -- out of the mini-golf hole area. It takes me some time to find it and start over. They make me count that shot but also make me tee off again. I'm very crabby.

Hole seven... Again, I don't get the ball into the hole while EVERYone else gets a hole in one.

This is where my dad intervenes and tells me to quit playing and that I'm ruining it for everyone else. Looking back, he's right that I was ruining it for everyone else, but I was so frustrated. It's a stupid easy game and yet I can't do it no matter how hard I try or don't try. And other people were making fun of me, which isn't exactly easy on a teenager.

Looking back, it's possible I may have been slightly PMS'y. Maybe.

I wasn't allowed to return to the car, nor to wait for them at the entrance of the mini-golf area. I had to follow them around with all their stupid holes-in-one while I couldn't do anything. And when they got to hole eighteen, wanna bet as to whether or not they won a free game? Yeah, I thought you'd guess right on that one.

Luckily, my mom had some sense and convinced them to let us come back another day for the free game. Maybe looking at my face and my attitude (I vaguely remember tears at some point along with a "it's just a game" speech) may have helped to convince them.

On the way home, my dad forbade me from ever playing mini-golf again. I wonder why he came up with this edict. And I never played mini-golf again. Ever. Actually, that's not true. I played once about three years ago. It wasn't horrible. I wasn't great, but I did get a couple holes-in-one. And I won a free game. I never turned in that free game token though.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Step Away From Your Food

Trust me on this one; you'll be glad you're not eating when you read this.

I've mentioned before that my work has a ban on food except in the cafeteria and in the break rooms on each floor. The thought behind this (to my unknowing mind) was to avoid having the smell and crunch of food when the workspace is so open and every sound and smell is hugely magnified.

I was wrong.

I noticed a few weeks ago at work that there were fruit flies or some little pesty guys flying around. While I don't eat at my desk, I do hold food that doesn't get refrigerated there. I'm not putting my apples or tomatoes or grapes or whatever into the fridge, as I don't like the feel or taste of cold fruit like that. And those little pesty guys zoomed right on in.

I mentioned this to some friends who explained further. One of them explained that he had a banana in a drawer that ended up covered in them. They all put things in Ziplocs now if they keep them at their desks.

So where did the pesky things come from?

Well. My workplace wants to be green. They really do. We'll pretend the eight kajillion plasma tvs everywhere that are on 24/7 don't count.

All of our food gets composted. The food waste is put into great refrigerated units in the basement somewhere. Every week, trucks come and haul it away to be composted. In theory, that sounds like a great idea, doesn't it?

Unfortunately, the refrigeration units broke at some point (or so the story goes ... I'm sure this is twenty-fifth hand). They were broken for almost two weeks before the right parts could be procured and put in place. Think about what that much food looks like after two weeks. And how many fruit flies are hanging around.

Have you ever had fruit flies in your house? The little buggers are impossible to get rid of.

And now, a couple months later, we still have them flying around. I'm on the top floor of the building, as far from the pre-compost matter as you can get, and they are still hanging around. I go eat lunch in the break room, as prescribed, and they fly around and try to land on my food.

I'm almost to the point of bringing in dry crackers and nothing else, but that just won't do. This is where I get really thankful that I am only in the office one day a week. And hey, if anyone's having a bad day, just think about the fruit flies we have. It could be worse.

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