Saturday, September 3, 2011

So, I've been a real P.O.S. blogger...

... but not the P.O.S. you might be thinking of - no, I mean a Prisoner of Summer, as coined by my friend Ash last year. I posted before Armageddon (and, btw, did you hear it's been rescheduled? Apparently now Armageddon is back on for sometime in October) and then poof, three months went by and here we are in September.

So, to do a recap for those who might be interested........

In May, we went to Walt Disney World for Kiddo's 8th birthday. Our trip coincided with Star Wars Weekends, which had two thirds of the Smith family extremely excited. As for me, I enjoy SW all right - I mean, I've seen all the movies more than once and have a good grasp of the fundamentals, but I still had to be corrected by my second grader - "No, Mom, that's not a Storm Trooper, that's a Clone Trooper. Sheesh." A girl after her Dad's own heart.....

(Immediately prior to this picture, Chewbacca gave me a hug. Following this picture, I spent the rest of the day plucking long, coarse Wookiee hairs out of the inch-thick layer of SPF 60 and sweat that coated my body after waiting in line for close to an hour in baking, steamy, central Florida sun. Seriously, Chewie sheds like crazy.)

The kid took part in the Jedi Training Academy, and managed to successfully battle Darth Maul. (She'd previously been very nervous about facing anyone other than Darth Vader, so when we found out her group was getting Darth Maul instead, I was giving even odds that she would bail. Her Jedi strength and courage stood her well, though, because she did it. Our home video of the duel has me cheering wildly and audibly from across the area from where Hubby was standing, which cracked me up when I heard it. It was just one time when I uttered my signature WOOHOO over the course of the trip.)

Other Star Wars fun included riding the new and improved, just reopened Star Tours several times (it is SO much cooler than it was before, though I did get a bit motion sick a couple of times) and waiting in line so the kid could meet-n-greet all sorts of SW characters.

(Several of the other women with whom Kiddo and I waited in line were gushing about how dreeeeeamy pre-Darthified Anakin Skywalker was. He spent a good four minutes chatting with Kiddo as they grumbled in line behind us - apparently the Force was stronger with the 8 year old than it was with the cougars......)

We did do other, non-nerdtastic sorts of things while we were there too, of course. Kiddo wore her official WDW "IT'S MY BIRTHDAY" pin for the entire week leading up to and then the days after her birthday, so she was fĂȘted most lavishly everywhere from the restaurants to the parks to the birthday serenade by the Dapper Dans, the barbershop quartet that performs in the Magic Kingdom, right in front of Cinderella's castle. So, clearly she is a girl after her mother's heart as well, since we all know how much I love to celebrate my birthweek!

(Only eight more years until that driving picture becomes a reality - GULP. Kiddo most gleefully pointed out to me that she is "halfway to a driver's license" and I immediately felt twenty new silvery highlights sproing out on my scalp at the thought.)

The next picture was taken at Teppan Edo, which is the kid's favorite restaurant at Epcot. Towards the end of our (awesome) meal, the staff came in with this hat and did a whole birthday song and routine. (This happened at just about every restaurant we went to, but not with a complimentary chapeau.) We had to preserve the hat to bring home with us. Try going through security with one of these sometime...

(Poor Gramma, who came from Tampa for a few days. This was the first time she'd experienced the Mad Tea Party spinning teacup ride with us. She wisely opted out when I did after my traditional one turn, and we watched from solid, nonmoving ground as Hubby took Kiddo for a second whirl.)

The Padawan went pirate, thanks to Captain Jack Sparrow's pirate tutorial:

We always enjoy the scenery at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Kiddo spent quite a while sketching the critters on the savanna from her vantage point on our balcony -

For her actual birthday, which was the sixth day of our trip, we surprised Kiddo by taking her to the luau at the Polynesian. She got to go up on stage twice to do the hula (see if you can pick her out... she's the one in the Hawaiian print......) and also cross off one of her bucket list items: to drink a drink out of a coconut. Pretty good to have ticked off an item on her bucket list by the tender age of eight!

Since we did pull her out of school for four days, Kiddo had homework that she had to do each day in the hotel room -

So, that was Disney World. In June, Hubby and I decided it was time to let Kiddo dip her toe into the world of internet communication. To this end, he set up an account for her via a texting app on her iPod Touch that she can use to send and receive texts from a very elite group (Daddy, Mommy and one of her grandmothers at this point). She is further restricted by only being able to text where there is wifi, so though she'll text right up until the bus rolls up -

As soon as it does, she hands over the iPod and goes off to a texting-free day.

Also in June, I started my new job. It requires me to dress up -

but other than not being able to wear yoga pants and my Birks to work, it is an awesome gig. The people at the church are super nice, everyone has been very welcoming and seems happy to have me there, and I'm so glad I found this job. So, woohoo for being back in the working world!

The weekend after school got out, Kiddo and I went on our annual Smith Chicks Road Trip to NJ. We spent one day at my aunt and uncle's house, which is on Lake Hopatcong and included fishing, swimming, kayaking, picking water lilies, throwing balls for my aunt's and mom's dogs, and going for a ride on the lake with some of her cousins - my uncle even let the kids take a turn steering the boat. (Kiddo's turn was rather abbreviated, as she was an enthusiastic but dangerous driver.)

We also went down the shore for a day with my mom, both of my sisters and their kids, and while we didn't have a Snooki sighting, we did encounter a massive beaching of millions and millions of baby jellyfish. SO gross. (That's what Kiddo and my niece are holding up for the camera in that one shot.) I got stung a few times as I stood waist-deep in the water on boogie-boarding patrol, in which I was on the lookout for any child related to me coming off their board in the water and going under. After getting out of the water, I noticed what I first assumed was a splotchy sunburn on my calves, but turned out to be jellyfish stings. Um, OW.)

Other fun things we did this summer included dogsitting a few times for Barkley, aka the Fluffy Pup, playdates galore (note to self: the joy experienced by kids in the three minutes it takes them to throw the entire jumbo-sized laundry basket full of water balloons you've arduously spent the better part of an hour filling, covering yourself and the walls, floor and ceiling in a five foot radius around you with water as you did? NOT worth it), trips to the zoo, and the like...

(I thought I was taking the kid to walk the dog. Apparently, I was actually taking the cat for a walk with the dog.......)

In July, as we have since the very first movie opened a decade ago, my BFF and I saw the last Harry Potter movie. This time, in IMAX 3D, obviously. We got there early enough that we were the FIRST ones into the theater. Woohoo!!

Other momentous achievements included Kiddo learning how to blow proper bubbles with proper bubble gum (taught by her mom). Here's her first-ever actual bubble:

Kiddo also mastered her two-wheeler sans training wheels (though with much protective gear - at her insistence). Bubbles and the proper way to sing Bohemian Rhapsody may fall under my purview, but biking was all Dad. Well, up until the point when she was confident enough to go pedaling around the neighborhood, and I was forced to hop on my own bike and go pedaling along with her. Me on a bike? Yeah, not pretty. I haven't had a heart attack yet, though I was secretly a teensy bit relieved when Hubby came in from the garage one night and mentioned my front tire had gone completely flat. He has since repaired it though, so my reprieve is over.

Kiddo even got Grandpa to go for a spin with her when my folks came up from Jersey for a visit -

I have been extremely fortunate to have Kiddo's grandparents watch her for the majority of the summer when I was working, and friends who hosted her for playdates for the majority of the times when her grandparents weren't available. There was one day when I did wind up doing a "Take Your Daughter to Work Day", but as we were the only ones in the building, it wasn't a big deal (also - I had talked to my boss about it beforehand and she was cool with it). Sadly, the busy work type tasks I'd saved up for her, thinking they'd keep her occupied for a good hour-hour and a half, Kiddo knocked out in a cool 20 minutes. I wound up raiding the Sunday School classrooms for arts and crafts things to keep her occupied while I worked.

Kiddo was given her very first American Girl doll, whom she named Isabelle Hermione, by her godmother for her birthday -

We went on our first overnight camping trip with a group of people from our church to Stony Brook State Park. This is us midway through a hike of the insane gorge trails in the park -

and kiddo playing by one of the waterfalls we'd hiked our way down to:

The hike down wasn't nearly as bad as the hike back up the gorge. It is a 400 foot change in elevation, and several hundred helpful-yet-killer stairs. It's like going to San Fransisco, I'd imagine, but with less Golden Gate Bridge and fog and more sweat and mosquitoes. Overall, we had a good bit of fun - s'mores! playing in the stream! potluck campout supper! - but between the insane amount of noise overnight and general sleeping conditions in our campsite, the bathrooms that were so gross I refused to shower or to wash Kiddo off in them, and the horrific storm that was due to arrive overnight the second night, we opted to pack up and head for the comfort, cleanliness and quiet of our own home instead of sticking it out the second night and then trying to pack up in the downpour the last morning.

The not-so-fun part of summer hit us a few weeks ago, when Kiddo needed to have eye surgery again. This time, it was just one eye, which was good, but her post-surgery recovery period was a lot rougher. It took the doctors three escalations of her pain medicine before she was feeling well enough that we could take her home. By the next day, though, she was rallying from her sickbed on the family room couch -

(that's Domino, a get-well gift from one of the ladies at our church) and within a few days, she was feeling well enough to be chafing at the total movement and activity restrictions that she was under for the past two weeks. A rousing game of checkers was about the most excitement she was allowed.

(Side note: I got into an interesting discussion on Facebook about letting kids win. I don't, for the record, but Grandma apparently did because Kiddo complained quite loudly about how she always beats Grandma but never beats me. Hearing the news that I was the fourth grade checker champion back in the 70s didn't do much to mitigate her despair.)
As you might imagine, having a major sensory seeker-type SPD kiddo be forced to be utterly still for an extended period of time has led to one extremely disregulated kid. When the restrictions were lifted two days ago, Kiddo went nuts (and not entirely in a good way). She had a lengthy playdate this afternoon, and we're going to do some bike rides and running around the park with our canine house guest tomorrow and Monday (weather permitting...), and hopefully by the first day of school on Tuesday, she'll be closer to her normal. It sure doesn't make a terribly good first impression to have a kid who can't keep still and can't focus.....

So, that just about brings us up to speed. Whew. I'd say I'm looking forward to things quieting down now that school is starting in mere days, but then I think about what I'm doing this school year -

- co-Chair of the school PTSA
- class mom
- 3rd grade volunteer for several school programs and events
- Brownie troop leader
- working three mornings a week at my paid job (woohoo!)
- church choir member
- Sunday school teacher

and suddenly, it doesn't seem like the fall is going to bring me much more peace, quiet or free time after all!

But, I promise I'll be blogging more regularly now that I'm no longer a P.O.S. Hopefully there are still folks out there reading..................


My name is Andy. said...

I am SOOOO Jealous of your DW trip!! Liam would die to have been able to do half of that! He lives for all things Star Wars and POTC!

I'm tired just having read through your list of activities. It sounds like you had a great summer and have a great year to come!! I'm looking forward to more blogging from you too!

Givinya De Elba said...

So much news! I have missed your blogging a lot - often worried that my blogroll has kicked you off (it kicks off friends from time to time) but when I've clicked over it's been the Armageddon post, so I've been relieved that I haven't missed anything. I'll be reading whenever you post! :)

Emily Sue said...

So nice to see you back! I'm dreaming of being a POS blogger... we've officially hit Spring now but it's not what I'd call warm.

Emily Sue said...

ps... I also work in one church and attend another. I like it that way - it means I can enjoy my Sunday without anyone hassling me about photocopying or asking me to let them into the office or whatever other "urgent" matter crosses their mind when they see a member of staff. Hope the job is going well for you!

Anonymous said...

Oh wow looks like a GREAT summer - I too am totally jealous!!!!

Anna Lefler said...

Heather, your vacation photos are fantastic! I loved looking at them.

I'm so glad you had such a wonderful summer. Ours flew by, too, btw. What's up with that?!?

Hope all is well and talk soon!