Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Things which are Thingish

"When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out in the open and has other people looking at it.” - A.A. Milne

I have, as I've said before (though not in that great of detail), many things. You know, things - if you were kind, you might call them quirks or idiosyncrasies, if you were not so kind, you might call them aberrations or neuroses. It's all in the phrasing, I suppose...

Anyhow, my things are things that I generally don't discuss much in public, lest someone begin to back slowly away from me, reaching for their cell phone to dial up the nice, young men in their clean, white coats to come and take me away. At the very least, I'd be afraid that folks would point and laugh. (You know you laughed, I heard you laugh!) It's all well and good to have folks laugh with one, but not so much at one, after all. Especially as my things are a little less Pooh Bear and a little more Howard Hughesian in their levels of quirk/neurosis.

The other day, however, a dear, bloggy friend of mine posted about how she recently locked herself out of her house. Margaret (who, okay, might not necessarily think of me so much as a dear friend perhaps, rather she is someone who writes a blog that I adore and stalk, leaving endless rambly comments upon it, as well stalking her on Twitter and Facebook...fortunately, she has yet to call in a restraining order on me) responded to the endless, rambly comment I left on this post and suggested that perhaps I ought to blog about what I commented about. So, as she is a much better writer and more fantabulous blogger than I could ever hope to be, I decided to take her advice.

Here, now, are some of my things, aired for the first time in public, or at least on my blog.

The thing which I wrote about over at Nanny Goats was my thing about locking myself out of my house. As I said over there:

Oh, I have such a THING about the possibility of locking myself out of my house and/or car. I even have a wristband on my keys so I can feel them dangling from my arm and *know* I haven't walked out the door without them. (I also have a carabiner clip on my purse that I attach them to at times instead of dangling them like so much gigantic bling from my forearm.) I also am sure to have my cell phone with me at all times, just in case I manage to somehow still misplace my keys, thereby locking myself out of somewhere.

Like, take for example, 25 minutes ago, when I exited my home to walk my daughter up to the corner to catch the bus to kindergarten. I was wearing my jammies with a Mickey Mouse baseball cap jammed down upon my bedhead, with keyring-bracelet dangling from the wrist above the hand in which I clutched my cell phone.

Also? I left the front door not only unlocked but open, in case, you know, the cat managed to push it closed, grow some opposable thumbs and then lock the deadbolt in the 4 minutes I was outdoors.

Also also? I actually thought to myself as we headed up the sidewalk "well, if *that* happens, the window over the kitchen sink is open." You know, so that if (a) I dropped my keys and they were sucked into a magical black hole that suddenly opened up in the sidewalk before me and closed before I could dive in after them, (b) the cat managed to implement her Evil Feline Plan and shut and lock the front door and (c) my cell phone suddenly spontaneously combusted and/or died, I'd *still* be able to get back inside, albeit by clambering through the smallest window in my home via the deck in my backyard.

Yes, I have such a thing about locking myself out that I actively plan alternate entries into my home.
Other things of mine? The list is endless....... For example, I won't eat Oreos or any Oreo-containing product in public, since I have a thing about Oreo bits getting stuck in my teeth. (They invariably do, mind you - this isn't a totally irrational fear. I can basically *look* at an Oreo and WHAM, brownish-black bits magically wedge themselves between all my front teeth, top and bottom.)

Here's a good one: I have a habit of safety-pinning any zipper fly's zipper shut. Okay, not so much a habit as yes, a thing. Suffice it to say I've been out in public with an XYZ situation occurring one too many times. Fool me once, shame on you, see London, France or my underpants twice and shame on me. Therefore, if I am wearing any type of pants or shorts or skirts - any bottoms with a zipper fly - odds are good I've got 'em pinned shut at the top just for good measure.

Speaking of clothing, I also have a thing about tags sticking out of shirt collars. You know how that happens, right? I have a thing about it to the degree that I will cut the tag out of any garment I own where it might poke up above the collar, and I've been known to reach out and tuck the tag back in to the top of random strangers in the produce section of the grocery store or the row in front of me at the movie theater... Thank heavens more manufacturers are making the tagless shirts - saves me a lot of "What on EARTH are you doing touching the back of my neck, you strange woman?!" encounters.

Should I go on? I've lost a couple of followers in recent weeks, is this now going to drive the rest of the faithful few away? Or is this going to be a place where you can come for affirmation that "Wow, I'm nowhere NEAR as thingy as Heather. Whew, I must be normal!"? Maybe I'll stop now and throw the comments open to you to share your things which are Thingish and make me feel a little less wonky. Or, you know, just so you can point and laugh. Whichever you prefer...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

(Mostly) Wordless Wednesday: Great Way to End a Trip

On our way back from NJ today, Kiddo and I stopped off in Syracuse, where we ate at one of my favorite places from back in the day (Best Chocolate Milkshakes, EVER as well as some mighty tasty pizza) with one of my favorite people (well, two if you count Kiddo). A wonderful way to end our trip!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Update from the Garden State

Kiddo and I arrived safely in NJ early Sunday afternoon. (Side note to Pennsylvania: What the HECK is the deal with closing every *single* highway down to one lane for 20 miles, then having a mile or two of open road, then another 20 miles of one lane with 45MPH speed limits? Can't you just do one stretch at a time? YEESH.) When we got here, the sun was shining, skies were blue, and it was a balmy 67 degrees outside. Kiddo and Grandma's puppy (a 6 month old Standard Poodle) frolicked in the back yard for hours, then went on a pine cone gathering expedition with Grandpa all around the property. Kiddo needed that exercise after being strapped into her booster seat all morning on the drive down, glued to the DVD player.

Yesterday morning she woke up bright and early, excited to spend the day with two of her cousins. I headed out with my aunt to go check out the kitchen cabinets we plan to order for the new house down in King of Prussia, PA. (Side note to King of Prussians: that sure looks like one heckuva mall y'all have got yourselves there. Wish I could've shopped!) The weather went from icky to downright miserable as the day progressed, culminating in thunder and lightning storms by evening. This meant the kids were stuck inside all day. They also watched a couple of movies over the course of the day.

By nightfall last night, I could tell Kiddo was getting disregulated. I did some deep pressure and had her do some heavy work, but she was still off. She was wound up at bedtime and woke up during the night (scaring the bejesus out of me when she appeared in the pitch dark at my bedside at 2:15am). She slept in a little bit this morning, but was wound up from the second she woke up.

These are the pitfalls of traveling with an SPD kid - get her off her schedule and there are consequences. As we clearly aren't just going to stay home forever to avoid this, we have to try to compensate and provide enough sensory input to keep her regulated 'til we're back on our normal schedule. At this point today, Kiddo is still wound up but holding it together pretty well. It's still wet out, so I'm not sure we'll be able to get outside again today. Two more of her cousins are here so she is entertained at least, and my sister and I have decreed it to be a No TV Day, which should help. I am expecting there to be a meltdown either tonight or tomorrow morning, though.... tomorrow morning when we're getting back in the car for 6 hours to drive back home. Hubby reports it is supposed to be sunny and warm at the end of this week at home, so that will be helpful as we'll be able to get Kiddo outside and running around.

In the meantime, I'm just trying to help her hold it together and get her extra sensory input where I can. I may have her sleep with me tonight to try and get some deep pressure into her before tomorrow. Of course that will mean less sleep for me, as she tends to turn into a creature made of naught but sharp elbows and jabby feet when she's asleep... but that's what caffeine is for, right? Keeping tired mamas awake?

I wish it were easier on her (and subsequently us) to travel without complications. At least when we're with family, they understand the SPD and that it isn't just Kiddo flying off the deep end. *sigh* At least she's having fun with her cousins right now...

Send good, calming sensory vibe type thoughts our way as we trek back through the construction that are the Pennsylvania roads to get home tomorrow, will you please? I'd appreciate it!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Here we go!

Portable DVD player, remote and many, many DVDs - check.

Headphones for DVD player, that may or may not actually get used (but Mommy can fervently hope) - check.

Snacks, water, Mountain Dew Code Red (for Mommy) - check.

Back-up batteries for Leapster - check.

Crayons, coloring books, and Play-Doh - check.

Select members of Stuffed Animal Entourage - check. (So I don't leave any behind for the way home, they are Ectobert, Roary, Sniffy, Pico, Pinks and Joey.)

Fully charged cell phone and hands-free earpiece - check.

Cash pilfered from Hubby's wallet because I forgot to go to the bank - check.

Fully charged iPod for the brief moments when Kiddo will use the headphones for her DVD player - check.

Luggage - check.

I think we're ready........................................ Here we go! Garden State, here we come!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Bonus Phriday Photo Phun - KGW edition!

Yep, it's officially the start of Spring Break for us. Also known as Kindergartners Gone Wild!

As evidence, I give you my own Wild Child, recently returned home from Caribbean Beach Day at her elementary school, rocking out to her Boyz in the Sink CD in her room:

Oh yeah, it's kuh-RAZY up in here! We will be road-tripping for the first half of Spring Break, not to some southern, sunny, sandy shore someplace, but rather to NJ, where we will be hanging out with my side of the family. Hubby isn't coming along, as he has to golf work and all, so it will be a Smith Chicks Road Trip starting bright and early Sunday morning.

Right now, though, Hubby's out on the deck manning the grill and I'm sitting here with all the windows open and the sun still shining in and we're thinking after dinner, we may head up to the beach for the first Abbott's of the season. (Oh yes, Abbott's is the best stuff on Earth as far as "frozen dessert treats" go. Well, Del's Frozen Lemonade is pretty good stuff, too, but we only had access to that when we were living in New England, and Abbott's is a hometown treat for us now.)

If you too are Spring Breaking this week, hope you have a great time, and wherever you are, I hope you are having as lovely a day as we are in our corner of the world! (Except for you, Em, what with your rain, hail and tornado warnings, etc... I just hope you have good weather watching but nothing dangerous going down!)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Phriday Photo Phun - Phun and a wee phiasco

Today was one of the first honest-to-goodness, feels like SPRING days we've had this year, so after collecting Kiddo from the bus stop after school, I threw her in the car and we took off for one of our favorite playgrounds.

You can tell Kiddo wasn't excited at all to be out in the sun and fresh air at the playground:

This picture cracked me up because it looks like she was posing, but it was completely candid:

I thought this shot came out kinda cool, the way only her face is in sharp focus and the rest is blurred by motion (we were bouncing on the see-saw at the time. Yes, *I* was on the other end. This seesaw has an industrial-strength spring and also is made of construction-grade metal girder-esque pieces. It can take my considerable bulk without a whimper!)

As always, I caught a shot of Kiddo completing her first slide run of the year...

Now, this park actually has two separate playground areas. The shots above were from the "younger kids" playground, and the ones below are from the "bigger kids" playground. Kiddo has played on the "bigger kids" playground for a couple of years now, with me growing slightly less nervous about a major disaster with each passing year. You see, the "bigger kids" playground has many more bits that seem like a surefire way to blacken an eye, skin a knee or two and possibly knock out a few of the burgeoning adult teeth as well. I tend to be a bit overly cautious about "spotting" Kiddo on such equipment, between her previous gross motor delays and her klutziness inherent to her SPD (her sense of where her body is in relation to space and everything around it is messed up; fortunately this has gotten better over the years thanks to her OT - there was a time when she couldn't even walk through a doorway without slamming into the edge of it, I kid you not), and a general neurosis about my one and only, precious daughter killing herself in a freak playground accident, well, let's just say I tend to be a bit more hover-y than the average playground parent.

This year, I watched from a greater distance than usual, trying to keep my heart down in my chest and not entirely in my throat as Kiddo dashed about the "bigger kids" play area. I did okay when she was over on this:

and didn't feel the same compulsion to keep a hand on/under her while she scaled this:

and I even stayed well out of "catching" distance while she successfully ran on top of this for the first time in her life -

Now, all of those are spots where I previously would've definitely kept myself within catching/spotting distance in the past. I just do not tend to relax when Kiddo is in a spot where there is such added potential for injury. But, like I said, I'm trying not to be such a helicopter mom and I was trying to back off a bit. By the time Kiddo had worked her way over to the swings, my heart was fully back in my chest and I was mentally patting myself on the back for not hovering and Kiddo surviving anyhow.


Silly me.

Of course the exact moment I relaxed completely, thinking what could happen to Kiddo on the swings? - I mean, she has swings at school and goes on them all the time - she went from this:

to a full-on face-plant right into the mulch. She overbalanced, grabbed at the swing and thusly didn't even have her hands out to protect her. Of course *I* was standing a good 4 feet away, out of swinging feet reach, so I couldn't even dive to save her.

And thus, the first Major Playground Fiasco of the year occurred approximately 36 minutes after Kiddo first set foot on the playground. I was picking her up before she even began crying. Her face was FULL of mulch - mouth, nose, ears, hair. Thank goodness she wears glasses now, because I cringe to think what might've happened to her eyes otherwise. She was dirty, covered in mulch slivers and bleeding, but stayed remarkably calm for one who typically busts out her best mini-diva when injury occurs in public. (And we had an audience, too - the park was pretty crowded for a weekday afternoon, including one threeish year old boy who stood six inches away from us as I was trying to dust off the mulch, rinse out Kiddo's mouth and assess the bleeding and damage levels and repeatedly yelled "WHY IS YOUR KID CRYING?" to me. Even Kiddo gave him a "WTF?!" look through her mulchy tears, I mean, it seemed it should be fairly obvious, even to a 3 year old...) We headed back to the car for a more thorough round of first aid (I keep a well-stocked first aid kit in the van for just such a scenario) and then decided to head home where we could get some ice on her rapidly swelling lips and nose.

Oh yes, the damage level was pretty darn good. Two fat lips, swollen nose and a plethora of scratches, especially on her chin and left cheek. After further medical attention and a cold pack (actually, two) at home, Kiddo posed for what Hubby called a "mug shot" when he saw it:

Oh, my poor, sweet baby. Fortunately, she bounced back quickly enough to kick my butt at a consolation round of Mario Kart Wii, and was back in her typical great spirits by bath and dinner time. Also fortunately, she is a remarkably fast healer, so there is a fairly good chance that she will look mostly normal by morning. (She did wish aloud in the car on the way home from the playground for a playground surface that was softer than mulch. I asked her what she thought would be better, and her answer was "Pillows. I mean, they wouldn't have to be *everywhere* you know, just at the bottoms of things where kids might fall. Or jump. That's all.")

Oh, for the record, I take pictures *every* First Trip to the Playground each spring. For example, here is last year's First Slide and First Seesaw, taken exactly one year ago today (on a day that was clearly much warmer, as looking through the folder of pictures I saw not only short sleeves in abundance, but Kiddo enjoying her first ice cream of the year, which reminds me how nice a day it actually was last April 16th!):

I also found First Seesaw of the Year from 2007 - boy, Kiddo just keeps on growing.....!

I hope that you and yours get a chance to enjoy some nice weather this weekend! (Assuming Mother Nature cooperates in your neck of the woods...) TGIF!!

Want to check out more Phriday Photo Phun? Head on over to Candid Carrie's blog for the Phiesta!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Hakuna Matata!

Well, that was quite a weekend we just had here in the Smith family. One of those "I need a weekend to get over my weekend" type deals. It all started bright and early Friday morning, when we loaded up Ye Olde Minivan and headed west to Lansing, Michigan. Why'd we do that, you ask? Because Lansing is where the national tour of The Lion King happens to be playing right now.

You see, Kiddo is a bit of a musical theater nerd, just like her mama. Kiddo also is completely obsessed with The Lion King. She claimed my OBC soundtrack for her own years ago, and has since memorized every word, note, grunt, roar and snort therein. We own the movie, which she has watched at least a million times. We have the storybook version of The Lion King, which she has read at least two million times. She has not one, but two Simba stuffed animals. Every year when we go to Walt Disney World, we see the Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom, and Kiddo is rapt throughout. So, a few months ago, Hubby and I were talking about how much we thought Kiddo would enjoy seeing the actual stage production. Our first thought was, of course, Broadway, where we had seen TLK many, many moons ago ourselves. Hubby hopped online and quickly discovered that these days, a ticket to TLK costs approximately four arms and three legs, especially multiplied by three. On to the next thought - perhaps the national tour would be coming back to our fair city sometime soon? Hubby looked into it and discovered that sadly, no, it isn't going to be stopping back here in the near future. That was when he discovered that the tour would be playing in Lansing in April. Some further research led him to the conclusion that we could get three awesome seats and a hotel room overnight for less than what it would cost us to see the show on Broadway (which would include free lodging at Chez Grandparents in Jersey). Furthermore, Google Maps informed him that driving from our house to Lansing takes almost exactly the same amount of time as driving from our house to Chez Grandparents. Seemed like a no-brainer to us, so we ordered the tickets, made the hotel reservation and put a big star on the calendar.

So there we were, setting out Friday morning, Kiddo watching the first of her vast Veggietales DVD collection, Hubby and I overcaffeinating with Wild Cherry Diet Pepsi and Mountain Dew Code Red, respectively. Now, the thing about driving mostly due west from our home is that it takes us a bit out of the country:

And it turns out that this is the more direct route than staying in the US and going the long way around the eastern Great Lakes. We had renewed our passports and gotten Kiddo her very first passport a few months ago in anticipation of this trip, so we weren't sweating it. We made good time over the border into Canada, stopping for a quick bathroom break during which Kiddo had to go sit next to "the really shiny guy" on the bench inside the Duty Free shop...

We continued on our way through what must surely be one of the most boring stretches of eastern Canada (no offense intended to the lovely inhabitants of this section of the country; I know anyone would have the same impression should they be driving along the NYS Thruway in our neck of the woods as well). It was so boring that I promptly fell asleep, as I am wont to do whenever I'm in a car anyhow. I was awakened from my midmorning nap a short while later by the energetic and loud serenade of a bunch of singing vegetables - Kiddo had decided to remove the headphones connecting her ears to the portable DVD player (and seriously, was there ever a better invention for the sanity of all adults on long car rides than the portable DVD player? I know that as a child, we made several long car trips - I'm talking NJ to Florida and back length trips - and I know that I certainly would've appreciated the opportunity to gorge myself on repeated viewings of Dirty Dancing or Pretty in Pink or A Chorus Line, the Movie instead of playing endless rounds of Herbie Car - what my family called Punch Buggy - or "Mom, she's touching me! She's on my side!" and praying that my Walkman batteries wouldn't run out before lunch....). The Veggietales crew might provide wholesome and often humorous entertainment, but they certainly do not provide good lullaby-esque music by which one can nap, especially when the portable DVD player is strapped to the headrest directly behind one's head.

We zipped along through Canada, feeling like we were driving much faster than we actually were thanks to the cute, metric speed limits (100 KPH? Wow, we must be flying!) and in no time, we were circling 'round Lake Huron and approaching the US Border once more. We were getting hungry, but Hubby refused to stop at any of the Fifth Wheel Truck Stops we'd passed for lunch despite my begging (come on now - they had HUGE signs proclaiming BREAKFAST ALL DAY, and we were in Canada, where they surely have maple syrup instead of Aunt Jemima or Mrs. Butterworth, right?). We pulled up to the bridge back into the US and promptly came to a



It turns out that many, many Canadians really wanted to head into Port Huron for Good Friday. Who knew? We sat on the scary, heart-stoppingly high bridge over the lake for a good ninety minutes. Plenty of time for me to get this shot of the beautiful view of the sparkling, clear blue waters of Lake Huron out my window:

When we were finally back in the US of A, we stopped at the first Golden Arches we came across that we could see from the highway. That is one of Hubby's Road Trip Rules: it isn't enough to see a sign telling you there is a Mickey D's or Wendy's or gas station at the next exit, the actual building itself must be visible from the highway or you do not pull off the main road. This rule came about after one too many frantic attempts to get gas or change a blow-out diaper where we found ourselves traipsing about the dark, back woods of Nowhere, PA, driving further and further from the main road and in some cases, unable to get right back on to the highway where we exited. So, after a later-than-we'd-planned-for lunch, we trekked onwards, finally arriving at our hotel in West Lansing.

We stayed at a Residence Inn, which meant we had a suite with kitchenette instead of just a room. Kiddo was extremely excited to learn that she was sleeping on the magical sofa that would transform into a bed just for her. We didn't disabuse her of the idea that it was a special treat to sleep on the pull-out bed, either. Kiddo and I changed into swimsuits and headed down to the pool (excellent sensory input for her, as well as a way to stretch and burn off some energy after spending almost 8 hours strapped into a booster seat watching animated veggies frolicking about). Unfortunately, we were not the only people enjoying a late afternoon dip. It seemed that the West Lansing Residence Inn was the gathering point for someone's large family function. Could've been a wedding or maybe a large family reunion, but there were fifteen adults and at least two dozen children who all were related/knew each other well already occupying the relatively small pool and hot tub area when Kiddo and I arrived.

Now, when I say "large family reunion" I am not emphasizing it quite the way you'd expect. What I mean to say is, it was a LARGE family. As in "Biggest Loser" large. Now, I am not a small woman. The words "slender" or "svelte" do not ever apply to my person, especially when my person is squeezed into any sort of swimming gear. I freely and openly acknowledge this. However, I was the smallest adult woman in the pool area by at least half. The men were even bigger, and most of the children were equally rotund. Oh, and they were all REALLY, REALLY loud, too. It was insane. Despite the fact that the deepest part of the pool was only 4ft 2in and there were impressive NO DIVING signs on every available surface, the Large Family was diving with abandon. Come to think of it, the amount of water that was being displaced by cellulite and cannonballs probably brought the water down to closer to the two feet deep level, and made a "lazy river rapids" sort of effect all the way around the pool, as well. Consequently, Kiddo and I didn't stay in the pool area for more than 20 or 25 minutes before heading back up to our room, where Hubby had set up the computer (yay, hotel with free WiFi!) and located a nearby Domino's with coupons online and ordered us some pizza for dinner.

Soon enough, we were all bathed/showered and fed and tucking ourselves in to sleep in our respective beds.

Now, remember how I said our suite came with a kitchenette? That kitchenette included a fridge/freezer that had an ice maker as well as a cute, miniature dishwasher. We'd started up the dishwasher after dinner, thinking it would provide a bit of white noise for Kiddo as she was in the front part of the suite, closest to the hallway, and the Large Family were no quieter moving about the rest of the hotel than they were in the pool. Turns out that the teeny-tiny dishwasher operated via a very loud engine. A loud, slow engine that clanked and roared for a good hour after we'd turned it on and tucked her in some eight feet away. Whoops. Eventually, though, the dishwasher wheezed to a halt, the Large Family stopped thundering past our door in the hall, and peace and quiet settled over our suite. Everyone drifted off to sleep, and then the ice maker in the freezer began to work.

This was a Very Special ice maker. When we'd first arrived at the room and were investigating all the features therein, I peered into the freezer and noted the lack of any cubes in the tray below the ice maker. Hubby subsequently jiggled a few bits in the freezer and proclaimed it broken. Not quite. In the wee, small hours of the night, the ice maker decided the time was nigh to produce a cube. One cube. But not just any little cube. The effort required by this machine to produce one cube started off with a noise akin to the Space Shuttle gearing up for blast-off from the launching pad. After ten minutes of this machinery grinding away, building to an ever-crescendoing roar, it popped out its cube with a resounding BANG that sounded like a shotgun being fired, again from mere feet away from my sleeping child. Needless to say, the noise woke me up. The ice maker continued to "work" in this manner irregularly throughout the night, the Space Shuttle crescendoing roar leading up to the shotgun blast of the cube shooting out into the tray. If I didn't know how quietly water actually does freeze, I'd completely believe that this level of ferocity and sound was totally required to fuse those Hs and Os into a solid, cold mass. I do know better, though, so I was not impressed or amused.

At any rate, despite the Thundering Herd of Larges and the World's Loudest Ice Maker, we all managed to get some sleep, if not of the highest quality. (I forgot to mention the West Lansing Residence Inn also featured the World's Worst Pillows. They seemed promising enough, all fluffy and big, but they were of the Insidiously Evil Feather variety, whereupon you rest your head waaaay up on top of a pillow or three, and in mere seconds, your head is down on the mattress with pillow puffed up around your face in a most suffocating-esque way.) Morning arrived, and Hubby took his turn taking Kiddo to the pool. Luckily for him, the Large Family had bypassed the early-morning exercise option in favor of the free, full breakfast offered by the hotel, and he and Kiddo were the only people in the pool area. I opted to surf the 'net and take a super-long shower (yay for endless hotel hot water!). Hubby checked out the breakfast scene on the way back from the pool, and reported upon their return that there was no room at the inn, or at least in the restaurant area. Yep, he'd met the Large Family. He made a few trips from the restaurant to our room instead, bringing us some very tasty breakfast (though I bet not as tasty as breakfast-for-lunch would've been at the Fifth Wheel). We had some time to kill before heading out to the show (remember the show? I know I've spent paragraphs here on the hotel, but really, we were there for the show) so Kiddo watched some TV (including more Veggietales, which are in the Saturday morning cartoon line-up apparently), Hubby "worked" on his computer and I watched vintage Law and Order (oh Jerry Orbach, how I miss you) and napped a bit in the other room, then we nuked some leftover pizza for lunch before packing up our stuff when it was time to head out.

We bid the Large Family and the Residence Inn a fond farewell (Kiddo, in the parking lot, blowing kisses to the building: "Goodbye, Michigan hotel. I'll miss you. I'll come back soon! *mwah*") and made our way to Michigan State University, where TLK was playing, while Kiddo watched our Lion King DVD in the back seat. We drove around campus for a bit and then did some parking garage strategizing to optimize our chances of a quick exit after the show. We paused in front of the theater to get this shot (after Hubby graciously offered to take the same picture for a family that had thought of the idea first)

and then it was showtime! Well, not quite. We couldn't even get into the lobby yet, and stood in the entrance way as Kiddo looked longingly through the doors at the lady setting up the Official Lion King Souvenirs Stand a few yards into the lobby. Finally we could enter the lobby, and we made our way past several OLKS Stands (as well as a few Roasted Nut stands, oddly enough) and up to the balcony level. We found the right set of doors and were told that we'd need to wait a bit more before we could go in, so wait we did. When the doors opened, we discovered that the front row of the balcony at the Wharton Center is not only very high up (I know I've mentioned my utterly incredible fear of heights before) but had a long, sloping ledge off the front down which one could easily slide before plummeting to the orchestra level below. My palms are sweating as I type this just from thinking of it, I kid you not. We settled in for the show, which began after at least a dozen more announcements reminding us in no uncertain terms that photographic or other recording devices were most definitely prohibited.

Finally, finally, finally it was showtime. The lights dimmed, the curtain rose, the music swelled and The Lion King began. We had great seats despite the sickening height, as it turns out. Kiddo was transfixed, and Hubby and I were as captivated by this production as we'd been when we saw the original on Broadway. I briefly regretted not choosing an aisle seat in the orchestra section when the actors made their entrance at the beginning of the show, but at the beginning of the second act, one of the bird actors stood not ten feet away from us, swooping and soaring his bird in circles directly over our head. It was awesome. Kiddo did not like the strobe light/exploding bursts of steam and smoke effects that accompanied some of Scar's "villian" scenes, but was not the least bit upset by the wildebeest stampede (which we'd thought she might find scary). At the intermission, Hubby went off to find some snacks and Kiddo announced she had to use the bathroom, level "emergency" so we joined the line at the ladies' room.

Now, it appeared the balcony seated maybe 800 people or so. It was a near-capacity crowd. There was exactly ONE ladies' room for the entire balcony section. We were maybe 40 or 50 people back in line when Kiddo, who was growing increasingly frantic, told me that she "could feel the pee starting to come out" and I had to make a snap decision. I hoisted her up by the armpits, and bearing her aloft in front of me like a shield, I cut to the front of the line. The woman who was at that point next (along with her maybe 10 or 11 year old daughter) most graciously allowed us to go ahead of them, and I got Kiddo into the stall and on the seat with not even a millisecond to spare. I didn't even bother closing the stall door - I was peeling her tights down as we hustled into the stall. Whew, that was a close one. Since we had cut the line, I didn't feel right using the facilities myself, so I opted to rely upon my Bladder of Steel and we exited the stall as quickly as we could when Kiddo was done. She was apologizing and thanking everyone in line behind us as we washed our hands and made our way back out of the bathroom (and I would like to extend my own apologies and thanks to all the women and girls we cut in front of as well; I know you all had to go, too, and I appreciate your allowing us to avoid a pants-wetting incident that doubtless would not have been pleasant), where we rejoined Hubby who had managed to acquire a small bottle of water, 2 mediocre and very dry chocolate chip cookies and a small bag of chocolate-covered peanuts for approximately $15. That boost of sugar was enough to get Kiddo bouncing, and before we knew it, the show was over and the actors were taking their third (well-deserved) curtain call.

Back out to the garage, where Kiddo changed into her jammies and strapped in to watch yet more Veggietales DVDs (I swear to you, we brought many, many NON-VT DVDs with us as well, but Kiddo was on a veggie kick) and Hubby's pre-show parking strategy worked like a charm, getting us out of the garage and on our way back to Canada in less than three minutes flat. With a few quick stops for bathroom breaks, food and gas, we were back in New York and approaching our town by a little after 11:00 Saturday night. Oh, and for the last hour and a half or so of the ride, we were wowed by the sight of the moon rising low on the horizon. It was so darkly orange that it resembled the setting sun more than the rising moon, and I spent a good twenty minutes trying to take a decent picture of it through the windshield. Sadly, this is the best I could do:

and it doesn't nearly capture the orangey-ness or largeness of what we saw. The higher the moon rose, the less colorful it became, but trust me, it was an amazing sight.

Once we arrived back at the homestead, Hubby carried Kiddo up to bed and I began assisting the Easter Bunny in basket prep and hiding. (Yeah, I know, I should've done that before we left. Idiot.) Thankfully, the late night and excitement of the trip meant Kiddo slept in until 7:40 yesterday morning, instead of being up and in search of baskets at the crack of dawn, as is customary. She found her basket and promptly surveyed the loot brought by Mommy and Daddy the Easter Bunny.

While I was salivating at the sight of Cadbury mini-creme eggs and the giant Gertrude Hawk Chocolate Dinosaur Egg, Kiddo was most excited by the arrival of Pico, the Chihuahua (or Chewawa who is "so cyoot" according to the various odes Kiddo penned later on, during church and afterwards). Kiddo took Pico up to her room to meet the rest of her Stuffed Animal Entourage and I decided the time was right to hide to have the Easter Bunny hide our eggs in the back yard. Hubby was watching golf on TV at this point, so I left him in charge of making sure I the Easter Bunny was not discovered. Imagine my surprise when I came in from the deck to find Kiddo standing in the living room! Shooting Glares of Death at Hubby (who returned them with the Shrug and Raised Eyebrows of "What did you want me to do?"), I quickly explained to Kiddo that I had noticed the empty egg carton in the fridge when I went to start breakfast, so I'd gone outside to see where the Easter Bunny had hidden her eggs this year - in the front or back yard. Kiddo bought the line and insisted upon immediately going out to find the eggs, so we did. Well, by "we" I mean Kiddo and I, as Hubby wisely opted to stay inside where it wasn't a wind chill of 29 degrees. I wound up giving Kiddo "you're getting warmer/colder" type hints just to hurry things along (and because she was really not doing that spectacular a job of finding not-very-concealed, brightly colored eggs) before any of our extremities blackened from frostbite and fell clear off.

Once that was done, we returned inside to thaw and enjoyed some Easter omelets cooked by Hubby, then it was time to get ready for church. (Yay for church that doesn't start until 10:45!) After church, Kiddo played with Pico and the rest of her SAE, Hubby watched golf and I took an Easter nap. But, not before I got a few shots of Kiddo (and Pico) in her Easter ensemble....

Any girl knows that dresses - especially ones with crinolines! - were made for twirling...

In conclusion, Hakuna Matata and He is Risen, hallelujah! Hope you and yours had a wonderful weekend, and a happy Easter or Passover or whatever you may celebrate. Now, stay out of my way as I hit the post-Easter candy clearance bins, okay? At least, stay away from the Cadbury Creme Eggs, as they are MINE!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Phriday Photo Phun - Eggstra Eggciting!

Ye Annual Dyeing of the Easter Eggs, 2009!

Kiddo's getting better at dyeing just the egg, and not her hands/shirt/pants/the table/the floor anymore:

I seem to remember the Paas egg kits coming with a "clear" crayon for marking the eggs before dyeing, so the writing would
magically appear when the egg was lifted out of the cup. There wasn't a crayon in this kit, but we made do with a white one out of Kiddo's vast crayon collection. Worked like a charm.

Kiddo is old enough now to manage the trickier egg-dyeing maneuvers, like the two-color egg, without any difficulty:

Ta da! The artist and her finished work!

Okay, okay, I confess - I dyed three of the dozen myself, including the dark yellow one third from the right on the bottom row. Two I dyed as exemplars for Kiddo (for the double-dipping and crayon techniques) and the dark yellow one was in homage to my childhood. (If this were an early-season episode of Lost, this is the point at which we'd zoom in for an extreme close-up of my eyes as I did the Flashback Stare.....) See, back in the day (that day being in the mid-70s), my next-oldest sister and I would watch those classic Rankin-Bass Easter TV specials each year (you remember, the ones that had this at the beginning:

Man, that always got us SOOOOO excited!) and our favorite of all the Easter programming (sorry, Jesus) was Here Comes Peter Cottontail. Now, in HCPC, there was a Bad Bunny who sabotaged Peter and turned his eggs all a horrible, dark green at one crucial point of the story (sorry if this is a spoiler, but come on now, the special is as old as I am....). Anyhow, that was our favorite part of the special, and each year when we were dyeing our Easter eggs, my sister and I would try to dye one so dark green that it would come out like the Bad Bunny's egg. (Wikipedia helpfully reminds me that the Bad Bunny's name is January Q. Irontail, and he was voiced by the fantabulous Vincent Price, just in case there was any doubt as to his villainy.) Anyhow, each year when we had finished dyeing our dozens (yes, plural - we usually did 4 dozen, though some years we did only 3 dozen) of eggs, Mom would start to collect up the dye cups to pour them down the sink and thusly discover our Irontailesque attempt. Invariably, she'd chastise us and toss that egg out, but one year, one glorious year, we hatched a plan (hatched! an egg pun! woo!) wherein we ever-so-generously offered to clean up after ourselves when done with the dyeing. Mom, who should've known enough to be suspicious of any such offer from the likes of us, was apparently sleep deprived enough that year (as my youngest sister was then just a baby) that she agreed and summarily left us alone in the kitchen. Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha! We proceeded to pour several of the darkest dyes together - green, blue, purple - and dunked the last undyed egg, which we'd hidden away (easy enough for Mom to lose count when there were so many eggs being colored), into the cup. We then hid the cup on the back of a shelf, tucked behind the flour canister where it wouldn't be discovered. After dinner, I snuck back into the kitchen, retrieved the egg from the shelf and stuck it in the fridge with the rest of its brethren to await the arrival of the Easter Bunny.

It was a total triumph - the Easter Bunny (who may or may not have borne a strong resemblance at the time to our dad...) never noticed the peculiar dye job on that one egg and just hid it along with the rest of them the next morning. During the Easter egg hunt that year, my sister and I could barely contain our glee as we searched for the egg. It came out a most putrid blackish-green, as you might expect, and we were positively cackling when we came upon it in the back yard. My mom (again, in all probability rather sleep-deprived) went to peel it in the kitchen after the hunt was over and was horrified to discover that the dye had penetrated through the shell, rendering the white and even the yolk a nasty grayish green color (and yes, that egg did get tossed and was not eaten). (Though, there were other years when we wouldn't manage to find all the eggs - even with Dad's "list from the Easter Bunny" of where things had been hidden - and then weeks later, one of the dogs would find and eat that missing egg, only to return it to us in the form of voluminous vomiting a short time later, usually inside on a carpet.)

Anyhow, we wound up telling Mom what we'd done, and surprisingly enough, not only were we not reprimanded, but from that year on, we were allowed to try to dye one egg as dark as we could, always trying to outdo that first year (we never quite managed) and that egg was thereafter known as the Heather Egg.
So, in honor of the Heather Egg, I dropped one egg into the yellow dye and left it there as long as Kiddo would let me. Once she grew impatient with my dye-hogging, I pulled it out. It still got fairly dark, though, dontcha think?

Now, I didn't fully explain why I was hogging the yellow dye to Kiddo, but I did tell her it was something her aunt and I used to do when we were kids. Goodness knows, Kiddo has already heard her share of "back when I was a kid" stories out of me. Heck, some of them she can even repeat back to me, like the story of How Mommy Got That Scar on Her Cheek (subtitle: The Time Mommy and Aunt A Didn't Listen to Grandma and Scratched Their Chicken Pox Spots) though I have plenty more saved up for future use... I mean, Kiddo isn't quite six yet, I can't burn through my whole repertoire now, or whatever will I have to pull out and use during the teenage years?

I wonder if that special is still around - maybe it's on DVD......... off to Google it I go!

For more Phriday Photo Phun, drop by Candid Carrie's, and wish her congratulations on the adoption finalization of her youngest two kids while you're there!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Random ramblings from my muddled mind...

It's snowing. Has been all day. Woke up to a world of white. Hubby and I tried to convince Kiddo when she first got up that we'd gone back in time and that this Sunday is going to be Christmas, not Easter, but she wasn't buying it. I am seriously, seriously sick of the snow.

Tomorrow is Kiddo's CSE meeting at school. A draft of her IEP for next year came home in her backpack today for our review before the meeting. I'd been worried that they were going to pull her one-on-one aide (remember? the aide that they didn't get in place properly until DECEMBER of this year?) but from what I can tell from the draft, that piece is still in there, which is good. Kiddo clearly is much more successful when she has the aide to consistently help with her sensory diet each day. Maybe tomorrow won't require my Big, Bad Mama cape after all, but I'm going to bring it just in case...

A person in my extended family is in the hospital right now. He went to the ER in the wee, small hours of the morning and will likely be in the hospital for at least three or four days. Depending on how he responds to the drugs, he may or may not require surgery. Surgery would not (obviously) be good, as there would be some long-lasting side effects during the recovery period. Please keep J in your prayers, those of you blog readers who are the praying sort. And while you're praying, another one of my friends has been having what very well could be the worst month EVER, and could use some prayers and comment love. Her blog is here.

In house-related news, we've found out that the town rec center for the 'burb to which we're moving has a summer camp program that is *much* more reasonably priced than any of the alternatives we've looked into and is located in the school she'll be attending in the fall. I spoke with the department supervisor and found out that it will not be a problem for Kiddo to have her OT during camp, either, which is good as that means one less thing to juggle. That is assuming, of course, that Kiddo will be receiving OT over the summer (we think she definitely SHOULD but who knows what the school district will say)...

An old friend of mine mentioned to me today that she is thinking of starting a blog. Y'all, if she does, you will TOTALLY need to read her. I'm not just saying that because she's my friend and would be a new blogger, but because seriously? She is one of the most interesting people I've ever known in my entire life. When we worked in the same office, she would tell me stories about things she'd done over the years and I'm telling you, each one was more fascinating than the last. She is an amazingly awesome person besides, so stay tuned because if she does start blogging, I will be plugging her blog like mad!

I don't know if it is because of the snow or what (I'd hate to blame it on my old friend PMS but let's just say I've eaten more Cheez Doodles in the past few days than anyone ought to eat...), but I've been in quite a mood all day. First I watched the 3 hour ER finale that had been hogging valuable DVR space since last Thursday, and I bawled my eyes out. Repeatedly. Then, (after brushing the Cheez Doodle crumbs off of my fleece blanket, which is decidedly not a Snuggie, alas), I was blogsurfing and wound up weeping while reading various blog posts. Also, I haven't changed out of my jammies all day. (I did take a shower, but then I put jammies right back on again.) All I want to do at this point is curl back up on the couch under my fleece non-Slanket (which Hubby read somewhere - Consumer Reports, maybe? - is far superior to the Snuggie) with perhaps a big bowl of popcorn or ice cream (or both!) and watch American Idol tonight. Although, I'm guessing that I'll be a wee bit depressed when all the contestants sing songs from the year they were born and more than likely, I'll remember each and every song from when I was in college or even after college. Yep, I'm definitely feeling a wee bit like Crotchety McGrump today for sure!

Last but not least, let me get some opinions from you, dear readers (and random Google Searchers who wind up here for reasons I'd rather not talk or think about.....). See, Kiddo once again wants to invite her entire class to her birthday party. With the upcoming move, we have been researching alternative locations to our house for a party. You know, places like Chuck E. Cheese or the zoo or one of the local bouncy houses. Well, the zoo has a "Radical Rainforest" party that sounds awesome, and would be within our budget (barely, but still within), and Kiddo would LOVE to have her birthday party at the zoo.

Here's the catch: The zoo has a maximum number of attendees and that number is 15. There are 17 kids in Kiddo's class, plus her 2 best friends from outside her class, so we're looking at a total of 19 kids. I called the zoo and found out that the 15 is a firm number, due to maximum occupancy requirements for the room they use for parties.

So, what do we do? Invite all 19 kids and hold our breath and hope that at least 4 don't show up? Make Kiddo *not* invite her whole class? (Which I'm really not a fan of on the one hand, having been the kid that didn't get invited to things back in the day myself, though the budget certainly would appreciate a smaller crowd...) The other thing is that the party could potentially be Memorial Day weekend (which is the weekend right before her birthday) and I don't know if that is a good plan or a bad plan. We don't want to do it the weekend after her birthday, since that is theoretically the weekend we'll be moving, but then again, we might be moving the weekend before if the closings come together quickly enough. The other alternative is doing it either two weeks before or two weeks after, though two weeks before would mean I'd definitely be skipping my 20th high school reunion. (I'm undecided on that one, as I haven't exactly lost a bunch of weight and gotten into crazy good shape as I'd intended, and also I don't know how many of the people I'd actually want to see at a reunion will even be there...)

What do you think? Invite the whole class and hope that at least 4 kids don't attend? Just keep looking for a different venue that would be able to accommodate up to 19 kids (to which our wallet says OUCH)? We can't do an "all girls" party because one of Kiddo's two best friends is a boy, and he wouldn't want to be the only boy there, and we can't just not invite him as his sister is Kiddo's other best friend. Hmmmmm. If anyone has a brilliant idea on this one, please let me hear it! Thanks!

I will leave you with a clip of a song that has been stuck in my head for days... The end result of being stuck home with Kiddo and her CD collection when she was sick!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Phriday Photo Phun - Phew!

This? A thing of beauty.

Four little letters atop our For Sale sign that make my heart beat faster........

Now, folks've been clamoring for house pictures of the NEW digs. Well, I don't feel comfortable posting pictures on my blog just yet, as closing hasn't happened and the current owners are still living there and have all their belongings in there and such. So, a few "won't invade the privacy of the current owners" shots are all I can give you here now. Consider this a preview, and then if everything goes well, I should be able to post loads of photos on or about May 30th (hopefully sooner)...

This is the upstairs bathroom. Kiddo thinks the flower-n-butterfly wallpaper is "just so, so beautiful" and thinks the pattern of the sink counter is fantabulous:

Didn't get a close enough look at the countertop? Check it out in its full glory:

Now, I know I said the biggest cosmetic EEEK on the house is the wallpaper. And it *is* the wallpaper, too - mainly because every. Last. Square. Inch! of the house is wallpapered. Well, except for the family room and laundry room - those are wood paneling. (Hubby really despises wood paneling, by the way. With a passion.) But the wallpaper (which looks like this in the living room, for an example:)

isn't the only thing that will need updating.

Oh, no. There is also some wall-to-wall carpet that will need removing. It is predominately a plush, plush mauve (living room, dining room, stairs and upstairs hallway) but downstairs, in the fourth bedroom (that will be our home office), lurks this:

I'm not sure the cropping enables you to fully appreciate the depth and color variations of the shag. This shag is longer than my hair (and better highlighted, too). Egads. I have a sneaking feeling that until we get that carpet out, I will feel compelled to don a leisure suit every time I want to sit at my computer. Yes, that'll be me, blogging while looking like a Studio 54 wannabe (or is that Studio 57, Kara?). I'm tempted to trade in the overhead light for one of these bad boys:

Bam chicka wocka chicka bam chicka wow wow! (Someone please cue Adam Lambert singing Play That Funky Music here for me, will ya please? Or just have him come on over and serenade me once we've moved into the Time Warp Castle..... I know I'm digressing, but boy do I just love, love, LOVE Adam. Totally my favorite Idol contestant this season. Maybe ever.)

Anyhow, things are going as well as they can be (*knocking wood*) thus far with the house selling and buying processes. Hopefully mortgage loan commitment letters will be secured soon and attorneys will diligently work on all their shizzle to get us closer to closing. Woo! We've been through the house at length twice this week, and even have met the current owners, who are a lovely couple and who, despite having lived here in our distinctively accented corner of western NY for the better part of the past half decade, still both strongly speak in the unmistakable tones of New Englanders (Massachusetts, to be exact, as it turns out). I was waiting for them to tell me about pahking the cahs and mowing the yahd... While I myself try not to speak in the dulcet inflections of my native New Jersey (hey babe, I'll cawl you and we'll go to the mawl, okay?), I suppose it could be considered preferable to the local accent... (Oh, those flat "a" sounds especially make me cringe when I hear them flying willy-nilly out of my mouth. And to hear Kiddo talking in the local accent also makes me shudder.... I swear to you now, however, that Kiddo will refer to "soda" as "pop" only over my cold, dead, soda-drinking body, and I don't care what everyone else around here calls it!) I certainly never picked up the New England accent during our time living there, beyond grabbing hold of their fondness for the word wicked and bringing that back to NY with me, but I have heard myself mention the pond out behind our house and having it rhyme a little too closely with hand...

But I digress again. What I wanted to say before going off on that phonological/anthropological tangent is that we really, really love the house, despite the gentle ribbing of the plush shag and acres of wallpaper and Pepto-Bismol pink tile shower in the master bath. (Oh, didn't I show you that? Check it out:)

Yes, this house is going to need a lot of work to bring it from the Brady Bunch era up to the late Aughties, but it has many pluses, too:

  • It is less than 10 minutes from Hubby's office.
  • It is in one of the best school districts in the area.
  • It has a lovely, flat yard with mature trees (they actually provide SHADE!) and the yard is significantly bigger than our yard now.
  • It has four bedrooms, enabling us to have an actual office and not a guest room-slash-office.
  • In fact, it is almost 600 square feet bigger than our current home. Also, it has a bigger garage and a longer driveway for Kiddo's chalk art/bike or scooter riding/rollerskating pursuits.
  • Kiddo's bedroom will be much larger, enabling her to have more of her things (table and chairs, easel) in her room.
  • Hardwoods! Almost all the house has hardwoods, and they're in pretty good shape from what we can see of them.
  • It has a family room with a wood-burning fireplace. (Kiddo is especially excited about that, as now roasting marshmallows won't only be a treat for when we're visiting Grandma and Grandpa in NJ, and Santa can enter our home the traditional way instead of through the door off the deck.)
  • It has a master bath (albeit with pink tile and wallpaper). That's one bathroom more than we have now.
  • There's a utility sink in the laundry room. I had no idea how much I'd want a utility sink until I didn't have one in this house!
  • It has a most delightful "Florida room" aka a sunroom or a three-season porch. (Even better, my mom told us we can have my grandparents' rattan furniture set from their sunroom, which is presently languishing in storage in their attic. Totally psyched about that!)
  • It has a garbage disposal. We always meant to put one in here, after living with one in the townhouse we were in before building our house, but somehow we never got around to it.
  • The house is about ten minutes away from the best shopping mall in the area.
  • According to the current owners, the neighbors on either side have high-school aged daughters who babysit. Woo!
  • The yard that appears to have actual soil, instead of clay masquerading as soil. Deeelightful!
So, while I may whinge and moan in upcoming weeks/months/years about the horrid datedness of it all (we will be redoing as we live there, since we can't really swing the dough to hire an Extreme Home Makeover crew to whip through everything and won't have a window of time to do much of anything before we need to move in), I am really, really, reaaaaaallllllllly happy!

Want to check out more Phriday Photo Phiesta Phun? Pop on over to Candid Carrie's blog!