Tuesday, February 10, 2015


One night last week Sam came home from school and went right to the piles of Lego and paper and markers and tape that have recently engulfed our dining room table.  He told me he was working on a project and I wasn't allowed to know what it was until he was done.  He made a cone of paper and fed it through the hole in the center of his new wooden ruler, and then he balanced it on a tower of Lego and began forming little pans on either side.  He later explained that he wanted to be able to measure which is heavier when he compares various sized Lego bricks so it's a balance scale.  His first grade teacher said it was an interesting idea since they are currently learning about balancing both sides of an equation.  Sam keeps telling me he wants to be a singer when he grows up (despite having what he calls severe stage fright), but he also tells me he's smart enough to be an engineer if he wants to.  My little Renaissance man will, perhaps, be balancing his left and right brain his whole life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Animal Kingdom

Despite surviving the crowds of Magic Kingdom and a late night bedtime, I still approached day 2 with caution.  I lightened the snack load in the backpack (who were we kidding the kids were going to talk me into the quick and easy ice cream treats?) and added sunscreen and some water bottles, and we headed in to our second Disney park, Animal Kingdom.  From the second we entered the park the experience was different... shade and wide open space and a feeling that my children could run far ahead of me without me losing them.  We were greeted by a walking tree (a woman on stilts painted in green) and wound our way through a few animal exhibits before the Tree of Life appeared before us and we entered our first show.. The Bug's Life view of life from a bug's POV.  The dark, spooky theater with a 3D movie that had bees buzzing us and other insects poking us and squirming around beneath our seats got the kids excited for the adventures that were ahead of us.  Nemo's musical puppet show and Simba's theater in the round and a relaxing Safari mid day in which Sammy dozed a little on my lap.  Following the long day at Magic Kingdom, it was no surprise that the kids started to crash in the early afternoon, but a frozen coke and some exciting dancing in the streets and they were ready for the fun of Dinoland including arcade games and face painting.  The highlight of the day was the way Eva wanted to dance for hours with the Jamaican street band.  Is it any wonder she didn't make it back to the park entrance without collapsing in her stroller?  We will definitely go back to Animal Kingdom.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


I'm so behind in getting pictures up, but even without the pictures I'll never forget how it felt to walk along Main Street with TT and the kids, Cinderella's castle in view and It's A Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean and The Swiss Family Robinson Tree House waiting for us.  The crowds were tremendous, and we had a scary moment early on when Sam got lost (and showed a shop manager the phone number I'd written on the top of his leg in sharpie), but with so much magic and wonder and excitement all around, it would be hard not to love a day at Disney with my kids.  When we sat down on the It's A Small World boat for our first ride and Sam snuggled in under TT's arm and the little children's voices starting singing, I got tears in my eyes.  THIS was the moment I had wanted, TT and her grandchildren and the ride that started it all for our family back nearly four decades ago.  We spent a lot more money than I expected (when it's hot and crowded and you just want a break from the noise, kids can easily convince you that a Mickey Mouse ice cream bar or a $6 hot dog would be way better options than the snacks you've been lugging around in your backpack) and we stayed way beyond the time I thought we would, but we rode over 10 rides, ending with a dark and spooky Pirates of The Caribbean that the kids didn't quite understand (why are they acting silly?  what is rum?).  And when we returned to the park entrance at close to 9pm, Sam decided the one toy he wanted to purchase was the Mickey Mouse Wizard Hat he had picked out when we first walked in that morning.

 Sam's Wizard Hat

 It's a Small World

  It's a Small World

  It's a Small World
 Rope Bridge

 Fantasyland Carousel

 Flying Magic Carpet Ride

 Jungle Cruise

 Selfie on Madhatter's Tea Party Ride

 Riverboat Cruise

 Riverboat Cruise

 Riverboat Cruise

 Sam studies the water lifting operation in the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House

 Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse

One last look at Cinderella's Castle as we leave the Magic Kingdom

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Beachin' It

It is not possible to contain everything about our Florida trip in to one post, so we're going to have to do this in stages... starting with the day we headed to Nokomis Beach.  Before Sam and Eva entered my life beaches used to mean hot sun and cool drinks and laying on a clean, sand-free towel for long stretches of time that were broken up with a quick dip in the water to cool off.  Now beach trips are filled with running and shell collecting and lots and lots of sand.  Sarah came along and helped with kid watching and kid burying, and TT walked the sand to look for shark's teeth and interesting shells while the kids ran circles in and out of the water.  Eva is a master shark tooth hunter already, and sam still loves to run as far away from me as he can, and all three of us love the space and the wind in our hair and the time spent with family.  We oohed and ahhed over shells and coral and feathers, and we all laughed when Eva insisted that her sand mermaid have boobies and a long tail, and we only finally trekked back to the car when we started to get hungry.  Beach time has changed for sure, but it's never been so fun and magical, and as I told TT when the kids were ready to leave, I could spend all day there. 


Monday, December 22, 2014

19 Kids Rockin' with Chuck

When Sam told me he wanted to have his birthday party at Chuck E Cheese this year, I grimaced and tried to tempt him with Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells.  After all, I had managed to avoid having to attend any parties at Chuck E. Cheese, and all of my friends' statements about overly sweet pizza sauce and the smell of urine and out-of-control noise didn't really ever make me think I was missing out.  I had dropped Sam and Eva there a couple of times but the dinging of the arcade games and the long lines to pick up the prizes with all the tickets they earned had left me sure that I would never actually have my own child's party there.

"You don't want to bring some friends to Great Wolf Lodge?" I spoke to the rearview mirror.  "Remember how much fun that was?  I thought you wanted to bring just a few friends and have birthday weekend like last year?"

"But I have too many friends," he said.  "And I can't pick.  How many people can I invite if I have a party at Chuck E. Cheese?"

Not knowing how the whole thing worked I told him 10 or 15 depending on what it costs, and he set about making his list.  His best best best friends from St. Mary's that he misses all the time because they now go to St. Stan's and he's in public school.  His new buddies from The Y after school program.  All the new friends he's making in first grade.  Kids from the neighborhood.  How could he narrow it down to just 3 for a weekend at a water park?

He made his list.  We sent invites to all 11 boys in his first grade classroom and I emailed all the moms from St. Stan's, the moms who have been our community since the kids all went to preschool together.  A few invites by text or facebook to moms I don't know well, and we ended up with 19 yesses.  Add a 4-year-old sister and a couple of friends to keep her company, and you've got yourself a big party.

And you really are going to hear me saying this:  Chuck E. Cheese was an awesome choice.  The fact that they have security up front and kids can't get out without the adult that let them in was a godsend.  It allowed me to let the kids go and run and play and just be kids without me freaking out about having them in control and accounted for.  And we had a party coordinator who handled the timing and the pizza and the drinks and the buckets of coins and the ticket blaster machine.  ("Come on Sam.  You can do it.  We believe in you," the boys were saying as he put on the goggles and crawled in the booth to try to catch as many tickets as he could.)  And I got to briefly meet parents that I didn't already know and quickly touch base with friends I've known for years.  And the kids had fun!  All 19 of them.

A few kids didn't want anything to do with Chuck E so they hung back with the Moms, but here are all the crazy ones who rocked out with Chuck.

Pokémon Cake

Eva's Favorite

Sam's Best Girl Friend

Ticket Blaster