Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year

It's the end of 2011 and I have three sleeping children. Last year at this time I think I had one sleeping child, one awake, and of course one in utero. Last year we were able to get away; this year, of course, we had been away already and were not about to go anywhere else.

So what's new? Obviously, the baby. That's the biggest new item. The other boys are so grown up by comparison!

Last year Musical Daddy was working a temp job that was clearly a short-term assignment. This year, right around the time that school would have started, he was picked up for a temp-to-hire gig. No word yet on the "hire" part, as he does have to stay a temp for a certain amount of time as part of the contract. But a job that might be permanent with a company that does good business and is growing is never a bad thing. Don't like the hours much and I lament the loss of family meal time. Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday dinners. Monday and Friday (and sometimes Saturday or Sunday) breakfasts. Lunch is usually a catch-as-catch can for everyone, although The Bear and I usually dine together when only The Boy is in school.

I've started to get more musically involved with my congregation. It's been fun. And it's been a great professional opportunity.

Musical Daddy has his chorus job. You know, the one where he can go out with 50 or 60 women, come back with makeup on his shirt, and I just say "how was the show?" The chorus makes me want to get back into barbershopping, but seeing as how his involvement with the chorus isn't going anywhere, we hope, I might be able to get involved sometime later. Orchestra happens at the same time, unfortunately.

This evening, we went to visit with friends. They moved here over the summer, but I had known her for years. We did a lot of the same things in college, including Sigma Alpha Iota (Alpha Chapter!), marching band euphonium section (although I didn't last long), university choir, and a summer program where we were counselors (and later I was an instructor). She has a daughter who just turned 2.

I have to kvell from their house a bit. It is the perfect size and layout. It has a gorgeous kitchen and the open layout from the kitchen to the dining room. I would love to have a kitchen like that or like the one here. They also have just the right amount of toys, not too many as I feel we have, and the furniture is great. It's in a very nice suburb, and they live about a mile outside of the city.

I'm hoping for a little more direction in 2012. Perpetually hoping for more patience. And I am going back into healthy cooking mode and fewer meals out. I don't know what I weigh right now, and it's not about a number, but I feel better when I eat real food. Beyond that, New Years is a bit of a reboot. Feels good. Let's hope we all have a good one.

Vacation wrap up

This was supposed to post 2 days ago. Here it is:

On Day 6, The Boy woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Just cranky and grouchy. The thought of going to Disneyworld with him that morning wasn't a pleasant one. Instead, we remained at the village and planned on a leisurely morning. Good choice--they had a little carnival that morning as the Notre Dame and Florida State football teams came to visit. It was great fun. Highlights included The Bear dunking a basketball, big burly football players on the carousel, and The Boy spelling out "Go Noles" in blocks.

Our last trip to Disneyworld was to Hollywood studios. That is new since my last visit in the late 1980's! We did the Toy Story ride twice. We saw the Osborne family lights, had dinner at the Sci Fi drive in theater, and had an enjoyable evening that we wisely ended before there were any meltdowns.

We packed that night and woke up nice and early for our plane. No problems with the return travel and everything even fit in the car. Musical Daddy should offer services as a car packing consultant.

Today at home was low-key and somewhat restful. We are bummed that vacation is over, but hopefully the trip served as a recharge. I have already made lots of homemade food--I missed it, even though the cafe meals at the village were nice and we had some fun food at the parks.

We have hundreds of photos! Will be sharing soon.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Day 5 -- SeaWorld!!

In the words of Daniel Tosh, in response to sweets with nuts put in them: "Quit trying to healthy up my dessert!" That was my initial reaction to SeaWorld--seemed like an awful lot of education for an amusement park. Except there was so much more interaction than what you get at the zoo. We got to touch stingrays and see dolphins. We saw the "One Ocean" whale show which was lots of fun.

I had read the book Whale Done Parenting, written by a couple of whom one is a whale trainer at SeaWorld. Basically, the book takes the model of rewarding and encouraging the positive and ignoring or redirecting the negative and compares it to children vs. whales. Interesting part of the book was where they described how to train whales to pee in a cup.

Anyhow, I remembered that as I watched the show, and I was amused.

The fact that it was rather overcast today and not too hot, and having brought Grandpa with us as well, really made this a fun outing. Before and after the show, we spent much of the time at Shamu's Happy Harbor, which was the kid's area. We did Shamu Express, and while The Bear was tall enough, he was a bit scared by it. He loved the flying jellyfish ride, though.

There was a large webbed structure with tunnels and such, for climbing and playing. The Boy did the whole thing. So did The Bear. As such, we the parents did too. Good thing we are in good physical condition with working knees.

In general there was a lot less complaining today and it was also a lot less crowded. Since SeaWorld also exists closer to where we live, we shall have to return using our GKTW passport.

Oh--that's another neat thing about the magic GKTW button. For a year after you leave, you may visit participating parks for free. That includes a LOT of places. Kennywood ( our local amusement park), Hershey Park, Sesame Place, and, I think, SeaWorld. And you can do whichever ones you like.

Although I think I'm amused enough for awhile, after tomorrow.

Day 4 (which was yesterday...)

Christmas does not stop people from descending on Disney World! We started yesterday at Animal Kingdom and stayed until late lunchtime. I brought food, which did at least save us money and some time (although I think we just broke even, time-wise).

It was a fun morning. We did another 3D show called "It's Tough to Be a Bug" which The Boy loved and The Bear found a bit scary. We did a walk through the jungle to see some animals (bats, for example, as well as tigers). We spent a bunch of time in DinoLand, where The Bear was all about the Triceratops ride.

The return to the villa for a nap was complicated by the fact that The Bear slept in the car and was put in bed of to be awakened by his nap was shot. As was Daddy's. The Bear and Ender stayed with Grandma and Grandpa yesterday evening and The Boy and Daddy and I returned to the Magic Kingdom. It was at capacity earlier in the day and was pretty darned crowded when we were there.

Magic Kingdom at night is gorgeous. No question about that. The castle is all lit up and they have trees lit up everywhere this time of year. And yes, it snowed on Main Street.

We did a few parts that we hadn't do e yet, including a Safari ride and The Haunted Mansion. Dinner was a fancy meal at The Liberty Tree Tavern, served family-style. It was an amazing festive meal. Turkey, roast beef, pork which we didn't get of course, along with stuffing, potatoes, green beans cauliflower, macaroni, and bread, and salad. And dessert was apple-cranberry cake with ice cream. Expensive, but well within our "budget."

Getting back to our car in the midst of the electric light parade took forever. And the monorail took forever. Definite drawback of the whole Disneyworld thing--it takes quite awhile just to get to the parks.

When we returned to the villa, I watched a silly Christmas chick flick with my mom. Not sure why.

Disneyworld may be a happy place but the sheer crowded nature of the parks combined with the heat and the cranky kids makes for a little too much stimulation. Even so, the special button that we get to wear makes everyone treat us extra-nice. Little to no wait. I'd go nuts if I had to wait an hour with the boys for anything!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Day 3: different plans

Today I sent Daddy, The Boy, and Grandpa to Universal Studio's Islands of Adventure. They arrived back a bit before 3PM and had a great time.

The Bear was in need of a more low-key day. He's 2. And 2 and 4 year olds have different needs and wants sometimes. After breakfast and sending off the park-goers, The Bear and I headed for the big Candyland playground here at the village. Following that, we stopped back at our place to get Ender settled back in with Grandma and we headed for the splash pad (spray park) and pool. We had such a great time, just us again.

We had lunch of leftovers, and then Ender and I went to pick up sandwiches with our lunch credit, to take with us tomorrow.

After spending some time hanging out, it was naptime. Everyone else arrived while I napped, and I was awakened by The Boy kinda landing on me.

We hit the playground and other on-site activities in shifts. Then it was dinner time, and while we were disappointed that the Gingerbread House wasn't open, we still enjoyed our meal from the on-site Boston Market.

The evening event was Mayor Clayton's birthday party. Complete with cake, and who cares if we had ice cream before dinner?

It wasn't a late night out at all for our boys. But that's okay.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Day 2--Disneyworld!!

Morning orientation after breakfast, where I was given more tickets than I could possibly use.

We spent late morning and afternoon at Magic Kingdom, the boys and Daddy and I. Grandma and Grandpa had a lovely time with Ender...they said it was so relaxing and he was such a pleasant little person.

Being on vacation means no obligations and no stuff to do. So there was no rush and no concern that the baby was going to keep anyone from getting things done.

So...Magic Kingdom was magical in a lot of ways for the two older boys. Winnie the Pooh and Tigger saw them right after stroller rental and the GKTW button got us right up front for photos.

We did the PhilharMagic show once we got in. It was 3D, which was cool except that The Bear didn't want to keep the glasses on.

As I'm writing this, I have discovered that the hearing aids went through the wash. CRAP. Will let you know how that turns out.

We did the carousel and, The Bear's favorite, Dumbo the Flying Elephant. Lunch was unimpressive. We did Small World, which was the only ride we had to wait for. Next was Peter Pan, and we were pretty much cooked after that.

Daddy and The Boy returned to the park after resting and eating dinner. And of course, stopping for ice cream.The Bear and Ender and I, along with Grandma and Grandpa, stayed at the village for Pirates and Princesses. We also went swimming and played at the splash pad. The Bear needed a low-key evening, and needed Mom even more.

Rise and Shine

With 3 kids under age 5, you would not think I'd get to sleep past 6. And you'd be right.

There are two bedrooms here, plus a sofa bed, a fold-out bed, and a crib. We ruled out the crib for any regular use because, frankly, what would our baby do with it? Grandma and Grandpa actually took the room with two littler beds, because those beds looked the most comfy and they were not about to sleep on the sofabed. The sofabed was ruled out altogether, then, because we were not about to sleep on it, nor were we going to assign children to sleep on it.

The king-sized bed held our entire nuclear family with the exception of The Bear, who slept on the fold-out bed jammed in next to the king-size. Although he was scared to go to sleep initially, he was fine after some extra time in there with Daddy.

We would have sent The Boy to bed earlier, but again, it's his trip, so he gets to do what he wants.

So, everyone else is sleeping, and I'm out in the living room with a wakey baby.

Looking right at a very innocuous Christmas tree. Which my kids see, so far, as just decoration.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Traveling south: so sweet...

Finally, we are here at Give Kids The World resort in Kissimmee, FL. We have been looking forward to this trip for over 2 years...pretty much since that first relapse treatment hospital stay for The Boy. And in some of our darkest hours, we thought of making it through to this trip and this experience.

Some guidelines to which I'd like to adhere, if I possibly can:

Naps are a must.

While I know we have lots of things we can do, we don't have to do everything and the kids will not miss what they didn't know was there.

If the only solo time I get is a bath in the whirlpool tub, I'll still be pretty darned happy.

My parents are here to help us but we want them to have a wonderful time too.

The Boy is the guest of honor. Even though you wouldn't know it to look at him, he was the cancer patient. As such, he gets to do whatever he wants, within reason. But the same goes for The Bear. He wasn't sick, but his entire infancy was lousy as a result of The Boy's cancer treatment. So we are going to play it fast and loose. But with naps included in the schedule.

Tomorrow we get our tickets for the parks and have an orientation. As it turns out, we "only" get 5 days here. Today was a travel day, as will be Wednesday. So we will have to choose activities wisely.

I'm glad we waited to do this trip. The Boy is so much older and is really able to appreciate it. Complete with being able to read the literature that says "you're going to Disney World!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's here !!!

Tomorrow afternoon we leave for Disneyworld. It seems like so long ago that we said we'd go, right when The Boy started relapse treatment. When he was done and all better, we'd go and celebrate. 2 years and 2 kids later, it's time.

I'm glad we waited to go. The Boy and The Bear are both at great ages for it. We also have awesome cameras on our phones and can take pictures galore.

I will try to do a better job of documenting and journaling, because I know I will want to remember this.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Wipe out

Nothing like a 101 degree fever to knock me on my behind and ruin my plans for today. Fortunately, the fever broke pretty quickly, but I'm still feeling ill. Ender has something going on too. Same congestion and cough. He has been sleeping poorly and only wants to sleep ON me. Next to me is not enough.

Snaps to my parents for taking care of the boys for me. Musical Daddy is at work doing his first-ever Saturday shift. It's once a month, and for now, it is six hours of pure overtime.

We are starting to get ready for our trip to Disney World. I'm not looking forward to the kids' first plane ride. They will be excited, but the novelty will wear off pretty quickly. Good thing we have non-stop flights.

I've been looking at some of the old photos from when The Boy was on treatment, to remind myself why we get to go on a Make a Wish trip. He is a different person now, yet still the same. He always had such enthusiasm and was always very affectionate. He is still bright and curious.

I'll never forget the time that we were in the hospital with his first chemo-related infection, and we were lying on the bed together, and he suddenly started saying "happy!" He was 20 months old and had plenty to say, but it seemed so odd that he would say that, being in bed, weaker than he should be, on strong antibiotics that upset his stomach, also working on his first C-Diff infection...and he was happy. He said it multiple times, too. It was so very sweet.

Anyhow, I'm hoping to feel better soon. Staying in bed instead of going out to play when it is still so nice out is a real drag.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Still NED!!!!

The Boy remains cancer-free!!