Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Best of the Best 2009 Awards

I am a total sucker for anything that is a year end wrap up. I caught myself watching some memorial on the news and couldn't believe I had forgotten that Micheal Jackson had died. I also used to collect the Time Magazine Year End in Photos editions back as a kid until I finally parted with the collection.

So along that thinking here's my Best of the Best 2009 list:

Best Movie- The Hangover. Seriously in love with Ed Helms since his stint on the Daily Show. I actually fell onto the floor I was laughing so hard. (Worst- Funny People, I hope I kept anyone from watching this train wreak. Not since I was forced to see Vanilla Sky did something suck SO bad)

Best Book- 2 categories Fiction and Non-Fiction-

Non-Fiction- Raising Cain. Have referenced it several times this year in raising a boy during the trying Threes. Bad Mother also HAS to get an honorable mention. I think I found my mom-soul mate in Ayelet Walman.

Fiction- Tortilla Curtain. I am on a mission to read at least 3 TC Boyle books in 2010. I still can't decide who I sided more with by book end. Great recommendation!

New Restaurant Tried- Ginza Sushi. What's not to love sushi for me, Hibachi for Bill, and a great show for Ben. Must find a reason to rent out the back room for a celebration at some point.

New Family Outing Location- Durham Science and Life Museum. Will be getting a family pass next year as this was a favorite during all four seasons. The new Dinosaur exhibit is a must for cooped up children and I MUST get pictures made in the butterfly house at some point of Ben and his sibling.

Best (Cheap) Kid friendly item- Refillable juice boxes. Since I pack Ben a lunch everyday and feel bad about the amount of disposable items I include these help my wallet and my conscious. I also must rave about my Haiku bag. I never have had purse envy but I love the functional use of this mom bag.

Best Children's Toy/Book Purchase- Book How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight and the piles of cars that seem to permeate our drawers, pants pockets, cars. Even found one in a pull up while changing poopy pants. They are so often used as time out fodder or catalyst to get going by allowing them to come along for our daily journey. Yes I am a boy mom and yes I am planning on celebrating my birthday next month by taking Ben to a monster truck rally in Raleigh.

Biggest Time Saving Mom Investment- Freeze ahead cooking. I am now trying to make something every week while TAL is on on Saturdays to freeze in triplicate. Getting the blog up in 2010 is going to happen!

Existing TV Show- Once again I got to give props to both Mad Men and In Treatment. Both went to prove that later seasons can trump the first. Both (miraculously for the latter), are back in 2010. Please stop me from asking Bill to reconnect cable.

New TV Show- Flashforward. Something Bill and I can watch together that doesn't involve goo pods or conflicted lead characters. oh wait I think you can make a arguement that the show has both. SOLD anyway!

2009 Experience- This again is split for very different reasons.

Chance in a lifetime to be in the middle of history in the making at the Inauguration

2nd Chance to be pregnant when I had convinced myself that it was not going to happen. Chosen to be 1 of 30 teachers nationally has to count somewhere and since I wrote about the inauguration to land my spot and then had to do so many of my shots while there it's some how making the list. Disney, you are a fun but distant 4th!

Bill and I were watching spring/summer movie previews last night and I have to wonder if Hot Tub Time Machine might make my 2010 list.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Warning: Millions of Disappointed Tots!

I had to laugh when I walked into a store and saw one of my many dud toys of yore displayed for even more children to know the intense disappointment of the failure of their Snoopy Snow Cone machine. They would have been better off (likely had more fun) with an ice pick, box of food coloring, and a non-observant parent.

I did find some niffy gifts along the way to Atlanta including an air fresher in "bulldog scent" for my brother and this little beauty of an inspirational butter cover at the Clemson, SC Cracker Barrel in the People of Faith Corner. Seriously, do I need a Precious Moments Bible Cover while driving to my destination? Note to self, the folk in GA were just as scary and as Bill often says, get outside Atlanta and all bets are off in the gene pool. After all Deliverance starred REAL Georgians.

We got back late last night from the weekend in Atlanta primarily for a annual family reunion for Bill's kin. Nice trip and a relief for a normal family, even if it's not mine. Lots of people complementary of Bill's massive weight loss and questions about our genderless baby and the chance I might break the Evans family boy lottery. Note that drinking was expected as there was NO non-alcoholic beverages available outside of tap water. At least one of the cousins didn't bring the promised tequila. Somehow the idea of Autie Wylene (real name) eating the worm evokes some scary, scary images.

I got a chance to take a nap one day and see a movie, alone, so that was worth the trip. Bill talked me out of staying on Christmas day in SC at the hospital to spend the weekend with my mom who as of the 23rd has another broken leg. I could go on, but why? I'll leave it at the fact I didn't even tell Bill until we were at the exit for the hospital to not ruin Christmas and Santa for Ben.

Christmas wrap up is a mixed bag. Lots of fun leading up the the big day, Ben's excitement and daily musical mixes of Ben version carols were memorable. Crafts were attempted with decent success. Ben loved his garbage trucks and even the baby doll to practice holding a baby (note that I said practice). Good that we did Christmas early with my mom given the circumstances for Plan B for yesterday as a back up.

I was a little disappointed that I had nothing to open on Christmas Day or that I counted my vacuum cleaner and fire safety box as part of my Christmas. But I did get a half used bottle of lotion, more inappropriate notepads, and after the Atlanta trip a new cutting board, so the surprise factor was defiantly in tact.

After all the Christmas is not about the stuff, but rather the experience and the look on Ben's face at Santa reveal was worth the whole season.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

It doesn't really feel like Christmas as we spent the majority of yesterday at IKEA buying a new bedroom set for Ben, but we walked away with a new bed, dresser,bookshelf, shelf, and mattress. Funny that for the same $1,200 that I saved couponing and shopping at the same grocery store rewards card over the course of 2009 bought a completely new bedroom and are getting it shipped to Raleigh next week. Fair trade I would say!

Today after the great Santa reveal, we are heading to Atlanta where we will be meeting Bill's family for their annual family reunion. We are also planing a trip to Stone Mountain for the Christmas events (fake snow, decorated train, laser show). Throw in seeing the new Disney Princess movie (yes, Bill wants to go and take Ben) as well as a trip to Dave and Busters for video game paradise and you have our weekend.

Over the past few days I finished the greeting card place mats, easy sew mittens with old holiday cards garland, and finished another garland with pomanders and apples for the mantle. Needless to say I have enjoyed sitting on my couch, smelling my new carpet with everything decorated. Nice illusion of perfection.

Merry Christmas and wishing all friends a relaxing day surrounded by the ones you love and lots of yummy food.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Own Personal Taco Party

I already wrote up my best (and worst) of 2009 and I would only add to Bad Mother by Ayelet Walman to my original list of Favorite Books 2009:

The Tortilla Curtain- T.C. Boyle
Raising Cain-Dan Kindlon
Possible Side Effects-Augusten Burroughs (Audiobook)

Honorable Mention- Outliers- Malcom Gladwell

37 books attempted to be read, 31 finished and hopes to start A Girl Named Zippy to round out the year. Given that I will have a baby next year, but also not have papers to grade, my 2010 goal is 40.

Last night we had our bookclub holiday party. It's kinda a blowout meal with gifts exchanged, all books of the the year given awards, and then selection of books for the coming year.

I was happy that I didn't take home worst book of the year as I have twice in the 6 years I have participated. I did take home most depressing. The Glass Castle beat out a novel about the Holocaust I might add.

I picked Everything Matters for my 2010 book in part of the rave reviews from friends, desire to read it (somehow putting it on my bookclub list elevates importance), and in general thought it would spark a good discussion.

BEST part of the night was gift reveal. Eileen got me again and after David Sedaris tickets a few years back, I knew this would be good. She made my OWN Taco Party Bag complete with the book, audio of the famous reading, body bags for the 2 fucking fuckers that will DIE at this party, even sparklers (although I don't think they are from KY, more like SC, any state where blowing off an appendage = fun)

Truly one of the best gifts I have ever received complete with a promise that she will read it at my eulogy, even if I'm 80.

Too bad that picking this book for the entire group would most likely get me booted.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Project Enlightenment- Round 2

You could say that we are starting family therapy early at Casa Vinson, but then I feel a little pressure to make progress, any progress on potty training before the baby arrives. I am already fearing major jealousy issues and regression behavior. One of the recommendations from the on site observation was for us to come in as a family for us to sit down with one of their counselors for a longer session. Ben came too which turned out to be a good thing as the counselor was also able to talk to him in person and watch our interaction.

It was a little weird to have some complete stranger watch you take your child to the bathroom, or listen intently to you and critique your parenting style when you interacted as a family.

But we came away with some new suggestions to try and combat the hiding, the lying, and escalations into tantrums. She also gave us some advice on making transitions as getting out the house many mornings has also become a testament of wills. We are looking into taking his picture in all the various transitions throughout his day that he then can physically move on a Velcro board and then do it with out argument. The site Do2Learn has an example.

Most telling to me was a very pointed conversation she had about being more firm in telling him and not asking him to do something. She felt this was part of the potty training issues and outright nailed my typical MO of trying the nice route, becoming frustrated and then either doing it myself or becoming overly angry. I was kinda surprised at this quick observation but when I think about it I can justify it as I feel like for 8 straight hours I have to be a badass with my students to get them to do anything, and once home I just want to change gears. I would also attribute some aspect of wanting to parent in the polar opposite way I was. Bill and I were parented in very, very different styles and thus coming to a consensus is a continual work in progress.

Just having some new options to try while at home over break is a start and I am very thankful for the time they have already taken with us. both Ben will have a follow up observation and we will go in again in early 2010. I am not expecting that any of the suggestions will come without conscious effort, but change doesn't come without work and practice. It's a place to start, start-over, continue, whatever you want to call it to better parenting.

Monday, December 21, 2009

If you don't plan for it they will come

Bad parenting award (again) for picking Ben up Friday as one of the last parents there before their 2 week break. I underestimated that good parents would drop everything and come get the kids with the hint of a snowflake. Actually I got caught up on paperwork, called a bunch of kids who are failing my class, and posted an extra credit assignment online in hopes that the failing bunch will take advantage of a gimme exta chance. Actually I doing a little CYA as I have been hauled down every single semester for % of failing students.

Getting Ben away from school requqired McDonalds bribery. Let me add that at our new McDonalds, they don't heat the area where the play space is. Let me also add that I was waited on my student who turned in a project earlier this semester in which he refers to Asians as Ching Chongs, for real. I told him in person about the extra credit.

We stayed as it was still not sleeting outside and I fell asleep at the table watching Ben play.

Thinking that there was no way my family was going to drive up on Sat I decided to go to bed early once home. Uh.... no, they called very early saying that since the roads were clear THERE they were heading up. So I cut what my mom requested I make in half, called Chick Filet and ordered a tray. Scanned the fridge and freezer and pulled a meal together.

Yeah, the food could have been better. I spot cleaned the house, and even managed to get some errands run before they arrived. One of the best things I did this year was to buy my own gifts for both my mom to give Ben as well as to us. I even wrapped them and took them to her back in October.

Ben loved his car rug, more cars, Ugly doll, pjs, and books

I loved my Target Gift Card and Cover and Bake Cookbook.

I loved even more the insane, crazy gifts my mom seems to think up. In another lifetime she should open a white elephant gift store.

Brian and I exchanged the worst gifts we could find, keeping an alive that my dad and his sister did for years, only with the SAME box of Chocolate Covered Cherries. Brian got me an Elvis CD in Spanish. I wanted a Chuck Norris poster but alas Walmart was out. Guess I will have to hit a truck stop on our trip to Atlanta later in the week for some finery for him.

I packed 2 coolers full of freezer meals for her, we had a nice brunch, they saw Ben's school, and then I went home and took a nap.

Friday, December 18, 2009

No Pic today, Instead a Very Appropriate Song, Valium Lick Needed Today

I had tons of cute pics to post of the crafty-craftiness to alas I forgot to upload them but once at school this day has lent itself to my own version of the 12 Days of Christmas. Want to know personal hell? Take 104 hormone-crazy students, hype them up on sugar, just try to get them to pay attention to anything (even setting something on fire) to no avail. Yes, it's against the law (really) unless you have a doctors note to be out the day before or after a major break thus this is always, always a day I look forward to just getting through the day with a double something by the end.

So in that vain I give you a song I hate with the most appropriate lyrics:

12+ Uninterested students

11 More recommendations to write over break for NHS students

10 Sick days taken already this semester (by ME)

9 More weeks once back then hoping to be out a year of leave

8 Students failing with NO parent contact information

7 Irate parent emails in my in box this morning about a recent project

6 Students I just warned to quit laying in the floor unless they wanted hepatitis

5 Student gifts on my desk... more cookies and nothing of unusual sort, like the black urn on wheels I once got, coded gift you think?

4 Projects left to grade before I leave today

3 More times to give the bureaucratic, hoop-jumping exercise in giving a state exam

2 Former AP Gov students that returned from their appointments at Air Force Academy and West Point respectively dressed as Freshman cadets. The first time I have ever cried in front of a student

1 The best gift ever, 1 hour early release due to impending snow

Bring it 2010 with my final 3 packed repeating Freshman classes for 9 weeks.

Yeah, what a way to end it all.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Snoopy Snow Cone Machines and Ass-Cream

My friend Eileen posted on FB yesterday something about not having stamps in the house. My reply was as follows, " I have some 39 cent Chinese New Year ones that my mom no lie, put in my stocking from last year. This along with a collection of notepads from her Dr office advertising prescription drugs. I am betting on ass cream from her this year"

Eileen's reply was she was betting on a Stuckeys Pecan Log. Thanks Eileen you are my inspiration to think of my worst gifts.

As a kid we got to ask for 3 things each Christmas. Undoubtedly one was always a total dud and was relegated to toy purgatory by January.

A Snoopy Snow Cone machine that literally just tumbled 2 pieces of ice without crushing them to be covered in blue nasty syrup.

A pottery wheel that ran on a single AA battery. Think the movie Ghost, now think not

Scented Markers that were destroyed by the fireplace. Ever mix Bannaberry Twist with melted plastic smell for the duration of winter?

As an adult:

A 3 set of cookbooks titled: Best recipes for Baking Soda, Salt, and Vinegar. Last time I checked I don't live on Little House on the Prairie.

Tired-Ass Soaking Bath Crystals. No lie, the name really was "Tired-Ass" and reeked of a hospital antiseptic

Stamps all .39 cents (when postage is .44) all of Chinese New year pattern

A collection of nesting boxes with a handpainted Santa motif, all it looked like was he had gone on a 10 am bender

Best of all, last year's contribution of a collection of half used notepads from my mom's dr office advertising free drug samples.

And you wonder why I offered to buy and wrapped my own gift this year?

Ok... would love to hear someone else's! God help me if there is a Pecan Log for 2009, at least that could be eaten in a dire emergency.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Reasons # 471, # 827, and #1001

#471 As always best of intentions turn into good enough. My attempt to try and keep Ben from losing clothes at school went from pic 1 to pic 2. Granted it took almost an hour and 4 Target employees to find mitten clips. This after hitting 3 other stores first. I would have even settled for non-matching baby puke green just to not loose any more clothes. Seriously what are those hippies doing, making a quilt?

#827 Attempt to try and get a haircut, take a load to a charity, break down the gazillion boxes down for recycling, dinner and tomorrow lunches made and oh yeah a cookie tray made for Bill's work tomorrow went well until I realized that I threw out a $20 gift card with the trash. Add to the list of afternoon fun dumping garbage all over the garage floor to find it. Dinner wound up being half of a chick filet bun after Ben ate his dinner and mine while I looked. I'm sure the dog was involved.

#1001 Don't let two moms with a soundtrack of screaming children in stereo try to make plans to do anything other than invent new curse words. Good that the gifts we bought their children are likely going to be used in a hostage event. At least whenever we do get together there will be KFC chicken.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

More Bang for My Buck

This should be two posts but somehow they fit the title in very different ways. Busy day teaching a basic tax form to a room of disinterested students very ready for break. I can't help thinking this is the last time to teach this or that lesson and how much my daily life will change without the constant of work next fall. I have some serious soul searching to do about returning and if so where or to pursue something else. Onto the post-

Obama is about to pass the one year mark and why 2010 midterms are a better barometer of his success I look back to the insurmountable hurdles that he faced coming into office just months ago as proof that the right person is leading this country. My desk calendar this week is an apology to the 44th President from his predecessor for the giant mess created. The calendar is called Pardon My President and contained 52 postcard apologies to such items as the English Language, Ann Coulter, Evangelicals, the Environment, God.

Obama's stance on Afghanistan was a surprising policy shift and after watching the West Point Address,recent statements in Copenhagen. Why does this sound like past US involvement that then escalated into something much more than we bargained for. One of the memorable things I learned from a Military History course was the underestimation of the sheer will of native peoples to defend their land at any cost and for any duration.

With a key vote to change what 7 administrations have failed to do for the millions of uninsured Americans, or the chance to take on real global leadership on climate change, or even to attempt to begin to shrink the widening gap between the wealthiest and poorest citizens Obama need to remember that the American public will only buy in for ___ # of priorities. All this in the face of an economy that is not responding as promised to the massive amount of stimulus and tax cuts already on the table.

Now is the time to remember "that bitch of war ruined all my hopes for progress at home" as LBJ learned that inheriting a war doesn't mean you must continue the same bellicose attitude. I'm watching and hoping that in one year Obama will make the right call, sooner if realization that we need to cut our loses if that is evident we are not making progress. I also hope beyond hope that supporting escalation of war is not a political maneuver to get Congressional War Hawks on the side to support domestic legislation. This would be log-rolling at the expense of human life and surely not his motivation.

On a much, much, much lighter note. I tried Real Simple's 10 ideas from One dough to make holiday cookies. The best results I have ever had in the Christmas cookie department in part due to the multiple options by just adding or changing a single ingredient. They beat my pink phallic candy canes disaster of last year hands down

Monday, December 14, 2009

Lucky 13

You are all my reasons.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Phone Friday- Extra Protection

Long week that ends in NEW CARPET being installed today. Seriously ready to roll around and put the upstairs back together. Earlier in the week I stopped at Target to price glucometers and test strips. I suddenly heard Ben counting and realized that he was head first into the Pleasure Plus Rainbow pack. Nice son, just about 15 years to early. Here's to making me laugh when I really needed it. Onto to some freeze ahead cooking, addressing Christmas cards and wrapping as many gifts as have been bought while the 6 hours of banging brings me a great Christmas gift upstairs.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tales from the Little Potty- Callling in Reinforcements

I met with a counselor from Project Enlightenment last Friday to go over her findings from shadowing Ben for a morning. Specially the school asked us if we would consent to having him evaluated since progress in the pooping dept is minimal since he started. I would actually say it's actually gotten worse as now I have a daily cycle of pooping, lying, hiding, then tantrum to clean up.

The tantrums are now involving hitting, spitting, and in general the best a 3.5 year old can come up with to prove that he is in control. They found and I expected that this is indeed a control issue and that he is developmentally ready to sit and go. Face it, we have been working on poop potty training since Sept of LAST year. I am simply ready to move on to another issue like keeping him from getting people pregnant. On their recommendations we are:

1. Check out their extensive library of books. One of the recommendations is titled, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline. NICE title, I think I am raising an inmate. Her belief that stopping the lying and hiding would be key to the overall solution.

2. Work with a one on one counselor for 3-5 sessions. Got the first appointment I could in January. Some are with us to discuss overall parenting style the rest with us and Ben. Nice that we are starting family therapy ahead of the pack.

3. Consider a series of workshops when offered again in 2010 again with a focus on discipline. She thought some of our techniques used were helpful, but wanted us to increase what other items we could also do to start and stop behaviors.

I do feel that like all other struggles that given time this is going to resolve. I have tried most everything in the book to no avail. My major concern now is stopping this escalation of behavior before it develops into something worse.

Can a 3.5 year old make a voodoo doll? I hate feeling a sense of dread of what the witching hours between 3-8 are going to bring each day. I also hate that it feels like everyone has the solution because this didn't happen with their kid or if it did this was the one thing that worked so why am I not doing _____. On some level I failed that hurdle of parenting but I also know that I can only offer positive support to him not learn this for him. I fear that in my "just get it cleaned" up rush that a degree of learned helplessness has taken hold.

In all honesty Ben was an easy baby by all accounts. I needed him to be an easy baby going into a new school with difficult working conditions 3 years ago. I say this not to make anyone feel bad, but that we were due for a real parenting challenge. I am thankful that if I had to choose a time to be at my wits end of frustration it is now when work is much easier.

I do hope that before the baby comes that we will have made some progress, even if it's not full on going alone, but ending tantrums. Just getting him to sit with or without success would be a nice place to be. We were once there, briefly so I know we can return.

I am willing to give this a try and believe that they may be able to help us turn the corner and for that I am very, very thankful for this resource in my area.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

This Old House Can SUCK IT!

Or make that Tim Allen from Home Improvement or people who get off just walking into a Home Depot. We are are week 2 of almost nightly work to get our entire upstairs ready for new carpet. I think I totally underestimated what was going to be involved with this process. I erroneously thought I would enter into the Mecca of folk that like to spend their time ogling over wet-dry vacs, I would pick out carpet, they would come remove the old and install the new. I didn't think about the fact that since we had cats that we would have to remove the old ourselves, scub every single part of the room down as well as everything once in the room to avoid the same cat smell from ruining the new carpet and Ben's new bedroom.

We have also taken on painting all the floorboards and wood on a built in bookcase unit to seal in anything remaining nasty before Friday install. Everything including things on the walls have to be removed from each room and stored for them to come in an install. This brought up having to clean out our walk out storage just to have a place to store things.

We have had LOTS to go through and clean out. I tossed all but a couple of boxes of anything that came with me from SC, Bill on the other hand had to keep a bag that looks like a pig that he made in middle school home ec. As you can imagine home improvement projects are not good for our marriage so we have spent much time doing things separately in hopes of not pissing each other off.

It's not like we didn't know this and for the most part try to avoid home improvement projects like the plague. Let's see in the 15 years together we have repainted a kitchen and dining room with wagon wheel wallpaper with red paint and hung boarder. Put a ceiling fan in after having to use an axe to install... don't ask, repainted bill's office, repainted a bathroom and hung border, prepped for hardwood instillation, built a brick patio.

During every project we are both on our worst behavior not matter how much we try to make this project different. Tonight we will be pulling out the pee soaked parts of the staircase carpet since Lowes refuses to touch anything involving animal fluids. How about human? Can I pee on it just so you will remove it? Just what every house needs, bare floorboards and exposed tack strip on the stairs. I bet if try really hard we could wind up in the ER with a puncture wound for someone by night end.

Please God let Friday get here, I simply cannot more anymore boxes or haul anything else up and down the steps. I'm telling you I am going to roll around on that new carpet come Friday night. Want to come watch and tell me it was all worth it?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Short post... I might forget to write it unless you are on fire

I have a severe case of pregnancy brain to the point that in the last couple of weeks my snafu count has got to be pushing triple digits. Yesterday I realized that this is interim report week. I totally forgot that I have 94 reports to update and print with personal comments by tomorrow. You can imagine the grading hell I am going to be in the rest of the day trying to make tomorrow's deadline.
Some papers may decide to take a trip to the great grade book black hole, kidding.

Tell me a story, now tell it to me again, one more time. Ok... I forgot it already so I can make you think WTF when I ask you some stupid question like, "didn't you tell me that while our kids were kicking the wall at soccer." It's bad folk and getting worse. Even a massive to do list and my calendar on my phone are no help for the afflicted.

One more...please don't ask me anything else unless you are on fire or bleeding from both eyes. Please handle it by yourself, as you look capable. I will likely forget you asked me that in about 5 mins anyway. My actual words to students yesterday. Think this would work on Ben?

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mommy, It Looks Like a Christmastime

Ben had a much better weekend than the events late of last week. I took Friday off and got much done, got the house cleaned (which not surprisingly always help me get my groove on), and over the weekend we got both the inside and most of the outside decorated. I also had a evaluation meeting with Project Enlightenment which is a post later this week

Ben was totally into getting up the tree this year. Everytime we pass a tree lot, Ben asks to stop so we can look at the trees. While we were out of the house at soccer, Bill got up our fake tree along with MORE cleaning in prep for the new CARPET Friday!!! I'm telling you after 18 years of going with my dad to an actual Christmas tree farm in Pickens, SC to cut down our own tree phoning it in with a fake tree is much easier. My childhood friend recently brought up on Facebook how the Hendricks family tree had some massive bare patch, had to be tied off the the wall, and best ever had a hornets nest that then filled out house with the smell of RAID. Just for the record this SAME friend has been in two wrecks in her life, both with my mom.

While Bill was at the gym later that day and Ben got up much earlier than expected from nap, we turned on the fireplace, started a big crock of soup and homemade bread cooking, and started decorating the tree. As you can imagine all of ornaments that Ben hung were all put at eye level in a 1 foot space. That was when he wasn't pulling them off to play with them. I think if I heard the hot wheels "music" on his 2009 chosen ornament once more I was going to hid it, actually I did yesterday. I also later found 2 robot ornaments in his bed.

I love that our tree is filled with ornaments made my 10 year old Billy Vinson or 2nd grade Heather Hendricks. These are the ones that mean the most to me year after year. No Hallmark ornament can top this monstrosity I created as a Brownie. Want to date those suntan brown pantyhose? I'm thinking 1982 We are shooting for a much more positive week, armed with the evaluation input and a commitment to finishing off the cleaning, sanding, painting in the new bedroom before the carpet installation.

Tomorrow, out comes the holy grail of outside decorations, a lighted animated polar bear I totally forgot I got on clearance last year. I can't wait to surprise Ben and Bill. And to think I almost bought a race car inflatable on Black Friday!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Bad Mojo hijacked my Friday Pic Post

There is some BAD mojo going down this week with all 3.5 children. The Nasty fairy made a pit stop yesterday I promptly have kicked them out the door with the mounds of leaves.

As always I seem to think pushing one more thing will not result in some type of backfiring in the general cosmos of life thus I am to blame for part of this fun.
After a long, trying day at school with disinterested students, followed by a parent conference, followed by marathon of getting Ben away from school, make that dragging him out of a series of puddles that he was rolling in, not just jumping I should have called it and just gone home... uh, no.

Onto changing his clothes on the nasty bathroom floor at which point he spit on me. We did time out in the bathroom with a major threat that if he did it again we were going straight home. Against my better judgement we headed to a make up soccer class. I thought we had finished them all and when I checked, yep one more to go. For various reasons THIS was the week to make up if at all and frankly letting someone else deal with him for an hour while I zoned out alone on the bleachers sounded better than a double Dewars right about now.

Then onto pick up premade meals at a meal prep place only to get there and have half the order not ready. Had I not been splitting the order with someone else I would have bailed, but I was already there.... yada, yada. We stayed and Ben just about tore the place apart with a monster truck he had (yes this is true), stuffed down the front of his pants making him let's just say, giving him truck nuts would be an appropriate gift this year.

Just as I expected Ben pooped on himself on the way home and then proceeded to start shrieking about his red hiney. The crying/shrieking continued all the way home despite pulling over twice to calm him down and try to regain composure. He refused to take a bath once home after I literally had to drag 40 lbs of dead weight kicking and flailing up the stairs. Good I didn't have the energy to do a bath anyway and plus you now smell like a bus station because I was lazy mom Wed night too and didn't give you a bath either plus I let you wear the same pjs that the dog was sleeping on because I still haven't put up 6 loads of laundry from Sunday.

There I said it, I am bad mother and let me tell you how glad I am taking today off just as soon as I can drop him off at school. Even going to the optometrists and getting fitted for a bra has to be better than the last 24 hours in preschool hell.

Back next week with pics my cute shirt I made for Ben. I would have taken a picture of him in it to post as planned, but at this point I want to burn it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A One-Way Train Ticket to Craft Hell

Yesterday was rainy, windy and nasty and I tried to make up a missed soccer class to give him an outlet from being cooped up all day. No room today so onto Plan B making the Gingerbread Train.

I now know why their are piles of leftover gingerbread house kits on Dec 26th marked down to $3.99. I think at some point all moms think "hey I can channel Martha" and have fun with the kids at the same time. Uhh.... No. I should have know it was not going to turn out at the holiday dinning room centerpiece 5 mins into the fun when Ben fed one of the wheels to the dog.

Random thoughts as we attempted to create some holiday fun...

"Damn, are you kidding me that the only directions is the finished, unrealistic picture on the box"

"the audacity for the manufactures to list a website to upload your finished 'creation' to share in other's ideas and creativity" Would they be offended if I spelled out profanity in candy on my train to share?

"No you may not use Cheetos to spread the icing"

"this candy tastes like ass, maybe I wasn't suppose to eat it"

"the box says Made in Canada, I never thought of them as masochistic people before"

"more icing will help cover up the crookedness of the caboose, maybe not"

"Ben, please don't put your chicken nuggets in the caboose"

"there is green icing everywhere, on me, on Ben, on the dog"

"better take a picture now before it implodes due to unsound structural integrity"

"where does this part go?... hell, where is the dog"

Realization that this is NEVER going to look like something we want others to see, lets dump all the remaining ass-candy and squeeze much icing as we can both stand before we go into a diabetic coma and then smash it to bits laughing as we take our "smash and crash" train to the trash can.

Best idea of the afternoon

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Christmas Countdown

Ben and I made the first of several planned holiday themed crafts or events. Keeping in mind that sometimes the best plan is watching TV specials in your pjs eating your weight in cookies under the lights of your tree. Yesterday we made this tear off chain to countdown to Christmas morning out of construction paper. I cut and Ben decorated the strips with Cars, dinosaurs, and Thomas stickers and sharpies. I was going for glitter and then decided against it.

We still have a gingerbread train to make this week that I hope to assemble by the weekend. No worries, it's from a kid friendly kit. I'm not that kind of crazy.

Other plans for the next 25 days include:
Making holiday placemats from old Christmas cards
Pullen Park holiday train
Live Nativity at church
Town Christmas Parade
Lights on the Neuse (River)
Making cookies with mommy
Trip to the Carolina Inn to see the 12 days of Christmas and maybe the Teddy Bear Tea
Make an ornament for each grandmothers
Driving around town to vote for the tackiest lights competition

My personal favorite from growing up in SC, no not a pork rind eating contest where you belch your fav Christmas song upon finishing. But rather reading a Christmas book under the tree with mommy and daddy each night. I have quite a collection purchased over time including my favorite, the Santa Mouse.

On the adult front Bill and I have an annual tradition of going to see the Messiah at Duke Chapel as part of our anniversary, writing up the holiday event in my Advent book, and listening to lots of Windom Hill winter solstice I-VI while in the car, at home, cooking. I want this holiday season to be my souvenir of a long, hard year that is coming to a close.

Monday, November 30, 2009

the little project that could,

and turned into a monstrous whole house clean out. At the beginning of the break I set up some goals for the 5 days away from school: help Bill clean out and then tear out all carpet in our bonus room in prep for our new 2nd flood carpet, scrub down floorboards and repaint, finish raking all leaves, make 5 freeze ahead meals, shop for a sleep bra, start working on a countdown to Christmas calendar, and if possible make a gingerbread train (from a kit) with Ben.

Starting on Wednesday here's what got done with pictures to prove I need ANOTHER 5 days to re-cooperate.

Wed- Ben and I hit several stores to see if anything looked good for Black Friday, hit the grocery, picked up a trial membership to BJs for the month of Dec, raking, starting cleaning out my stuff from the bonus room. We met Bill for dinner at the mall and did Santa pics. LOVE them, posting one tomorrow!

- TDAY!!! We started early cleaning and by afternoon all the carpet was up and being taken out of the house. YAY!!! What started as a one room project quickly escalated to also cleaning out our attic storage so we had somewhere to move all the bonus room stuff. Our attic has been the repository of last resort. We took time off to hit Cracker Barrel for T day lunch and then hit it again until about 10 pm cleaning, moving, carting stuff to be donated into our garage.

Friday- Like a total fool I decided to brave the crowds and be in line at Kolhs at 3:30 am to get $200 off a Dyson Vacuum cleaner. I have never thought myself crazy enough to brave pre dawn morning for a sale, but who am I kidding I am coupon crazy. I used to WORK this shift at a local dept store gift wrap department in high school, so I knew to expect shoppers on a mission. Kinda telling that the last song I heard before getting in line was Prodigy "Smack My Bitch up." Just what I needed in case I had to fight someone for that vaccum. I wound up with 4 items total including a king down comforter for 20.00 dollars, vacuum, hand mixer, baby doll for Ben(which I kicked the length of the store in line to check out)

I then got in a line of over 1000 according to the news at Target in hopes of getting a duel DVD player for the car. I figured that it was a long shot but I was pumped from my Kolhs trip. Yep... got it too and yes had to push my way into a massive crowd for it. Not a finer momement and glad I hadn't brough Ben along to see what I did for peace and quiet on our next long trip.

From there I hit Lowes when they opened for storage containers, a fire safe to replace the lock box we had drilled, and Christmas tree Bag. ALL on massive sale. For a brief, brief moment I thought about getting an inflatable for the yard, but passed. By the time I finally made it home at 7 am I was totally buzzed from the one cup of real coffee that I let myself get. Crazy insane given I'm not had coffee since May. I literally never crashed until that night and it was BAD!

Sat- On to the great Bra Hunt of '09. Ben and I drove to Chapel Hill to the granola birth center lactation store. Can I just say the salesgirl was utterly amazed that I was getting close to the A-Z split and politely mentioned they had nothing that went to that letter of the bra alphabet after fitting me. She did give me another store to try and was nice enough to do a little research for me. Ben and I then hit Babies R Us to price a toy box, BJs again for a toaster oven on sale and then finally home where I raked more freakin' leaves and yes more cleaning until the wee hours.

Sunday- Last dedicated day to clean, haul the nasty carpet and bags of padding to the dump, and did I mention the leaves (this picture is the 2nd week I raked this much to the street and STILL have more.) Needless to say what didn't get done was the cooking or the gingerbread train assmbly but with rain this week, I have afternoon plans.

We decided that we are hiring a contractor to pull up the damaged floorboards and help repaint the bookshelves as our gift to each other for going beyond a room to cleaning out the entire house pre baby V 2.0. Add to it 6 load of laundry and general getting ready for the week and I am mad tired. I can't wait until next weekend to get up all the holiday decorations as the majority of shopping is DONE and just ready to be wrapped.

I sure hope I didn't toss my stash of paper with the gazillion of leaves and stuff we hauled out of the attic. I did also make a paper list of Christmas activities and plan to raid my school stash of construction paper to make a tear off calendar for Ben to help decorate. Bring it December and Holiday season, I am ready to meet you with plans-o-plenty that don't involve leaves or carpet removal.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

So Many Reasons...

As we round into the last month of 2009 the hope I had standing in the crowd at the Inauguration has returned. In January, it was both hope for a new beginning for the direction of our country's policy but also that by year end that we would have created new life in our own home. I'm glad at the time I didn't know that the next few months were going to be filled with tough decisions and many, many challenges.

This Thanksgiving I am most thankful for

this healthy pregnancy and looking forward to holding this beautiful child at Easter, the season of new life. I think we may go all the way not knowing the gender and given the trials to simply have this child, the gift of bringing new life into the world trumps all.

My beautiful and sweet son that reminds me daily that with parenting comes more sweet than bitter. I am so glad that by next Thanksgiving I will watch you become the big brother I know you were meant to be.

My inspiring husband who had made more physical and emotional changes this year ever never thought possible. I hope you do go for running a race at the end of this 5 K challenge. I will be your biggest (and most obnoxious fan) on the sidelines. For all the other ways you have made changes I also thank you for believing that there is a greater quality of life not maintaining the status quo.

An opportunity for work for which we are thankful for a network of friends/colleagues who have come to our aid this past year with leads and recommendations

Adult and childhood friends who have shown us support and love all year. May you all be repaid ten-fold for your kindness

The luxury of insurance and access to medical care. Over the past year our family has seen double digit doctors and specialists. None would have been possible without coverage. I wish the same for all families.

Our Small Extended Family for whom we wish health and happiness in the coming year. I think my Thanksgiving post last year echos how I feel regardless if we are together or not.

Blessings on all of our friends and family as we pass into the coming year and enter into the last month of 2009. I am hopeful for so many more good things to come.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Doing Disney.... The Logistics

If you are at all considering selling out to consumerism then keep reading if you want our account of Disney trip planning. I personally want that the trip I want my children to remember when they are adults more than anything is tour of the major National Parks, camping and paddling our way though some of the most beautiful places in the country. Or, maybe when the kids are teenagers, a trip overseas for a month long trip country hopping taking in culture. I am on the other hand, married to a total child at heart that balances out my cynical side. Bill has seen/owns every Disney movie, I on the other had didn't even know some of the characters. I would much rather hang out with Tyler Durden not Dumbo.

This trip starting coming together as we made the long 14 hour drive back from Florida in August. Bill had downloaded several podcasts detailing planning a Disney trip. The more we listened to them, the more we talked about how we wanted to do a big family trip one last time as a family of 3.

We decided to go ahead and plan the trip in hopes that by the time we went I would be carrying a healthy pregnancy and Bill would have a new job, and would be physically recovered from his surgery. We also decided on a general budget knowing that the markup for this trip is ridiculous. Knowing friends that have been before and heard details of 100.00 hairdos for your child to be princess, we knew without willpower, you can drop serious cash.

Ok... the logistics by topic. I linked places that were helpful in trip planning.

Time to Go- Between the two of us we have been in March, April, July, and Christmas. We decided to try for Fall given that it is Value season and hotels rate are at the lowest rate of the year. Weather is 70/80s so we could still enjoy the pool, maybe. We had great weather the entire time, only raining once at night. To do again I would have gone before daylight savings time had ended as I think once it got dark, it was hard to be motivated to get out again. The only day the parks were even remotely crowded was Veterans Day. We typically had a 15 min or less ride wait at every park per ride. Using the FastPass system (more later) was a lifesaver to not spend oodles of time in line. I did bring line-waiting supplies like bubbles in case we had a wait.

Travel- We opted to take the overnight Amtrak Silver Star Line train from Raleigh to Kississmee for around 200.00 round trip for all 3 of us. Flying was going to be triple this at least. Had we flown we could have used free transportation to/from the airport since we were staying on property, called the Disney Magical Express. We met Bill's mom at the train station, as it was in the same place as the bus depot and then hired a Town car with a booster seat for around 70.00 round trip. Once on property we took the shuttle buses to every park. The buses were often not packed and we didn't wait more than 10 mins (until the last day) to board and then ride 15 mins. Our hotel had 4 shuttle stops and we always were the first to pick up and last to get off.

Lodging- We wanted to stay on property for 2 main reasons: We wanted to be able to able to go back for daily naps/rest and we didn't want to have to rent a car. We started by looking at the general categories of resorts and narrowed it down to the Swan and Dolphin near Epcot that offered a 25% Teacher discount off the room but didn't quality for Disney Dining as it is owned by Marriott.

I just happened to see a commercial pitching "free Disney Dining" if you stayed at qualified properties. I researched the lodging on line at which has extensive review and lots of Disney advice. I also read the Unofficial Guide to Disney which was HUGE help and resource. We settled on Port Orleans- Riverside which is classified as a Moderate property. Our room had 2 double beds with an additional trundle bed in a super close building to the main building, shuttle stop, and pool. We stayed in building 14 in the Alligator Bayou side (not the Maison side which caters to honeymooners.)Outstanding staff throughout including our daily towel creations that Ben loved until he destroyed on the last day.

Food- We qualified for Disney Dining pass for every member of the party, including Ben. We estimated this saved us around 500-$700. I printed off the listing of restaurants, character meals, and options and then researched each restaurant we were considering. Bill made reservations which was a major help. We had two character meals which normally would have cost us $20-40 per person if we had not had the plan. I also researched where we could get the most "bang for our buck" and quickly realized that a $4.00 milkshake and a .99 apple counted the same in the credits.

I even marked on our map where preferred eating locations were and then tried to plan where we would be in the park when time to eat. If we hadn't had this meal plan I am sure Bill and I would have split alot of food as the portions were huge. We also would have only done one character meal. If you are thinking character meal, the holy grail of the Disney Expericne according to some, RESEARCH! Each has different characters, food, locations, and some you can book 180 days in advance.

The plan gave us drink, meal, and dessert twice a day once at a sit down restaurant and one at a counter service/quick service place, plus an snack option for each member of the party once a day. Needless to say having a fridge in the room was a huge help. We barely touched the snacks I brought with me except for juice boxes.

We ate at the following restaurants by location: I don't think we had a bad meal anywhere, but to do it again I would have gotten a Character Meal at Chef Mickey at the Contempoty Hotel instead of the Pooh Extravaganza/endurance test at Crystal Palace.

Hotel- Great food court that served 6am-11 pm with really good pizza delivery plus full breakfast everyday. Thy also had a onsite bakery with custom made desserts. We ate at least 3 meals there and never ate that same thing twice.

Magic Kingdom- Lunch at Cosmic Ray's Starlight Cafe, Character Meal-Lunch at Crystal Palace

Epcot- Biergarten in World Showcase for Dinner
Character Meal-Dinner at Garden Grill- OUTSTANDING FOOD much of locally grown

Animal Kingdom- Lunch at Yak and Yeti- good, quick Asian with lots of outdoor seating

Disney Hollywood Studios- Lunch at Sci Fi dine In theater. Food ok, but sitting and eating in a car was appealing to Ben.

Tickets- Pay the extra and get "park hopper" passes. We got them with our package with the hotel and dining. We planned a daily schedule of one park when they opened and then another after naps. We never got out of the hotel for the extra hour that each opens early on given days, if it had been peak season we might have reconsidered.

Wingin' It
- The night before we planned the next day. I had printed out and Bill had researched ahead of time what rides were most appropriate for Ben's age and the scare factor (great table in the book I mentioned before). I was the map queen and planned how to see the most with the least amount of walking. We made a list of most important to ride to ok to skip it for each park, by area with an estimate of when we wanted to be back for naps in time to make dinner reservations.

We took with us a cheap umbrella stroller that I clearly marked as ours. You can rent them for 15.00/single per day at Disney too, but I hated the design of them. You can't take them on Disney transportation (even the train that encircles the park.) We also carried a well organized backpack that Bill and I traded carrying.

We took advantage of the Disney Photo pass system that allows Disney photographers to take group pictures at famous landmarks. They scan your card and then you view online up to 30 days after you return home. If you buy a pic package it's worth it, or you want to create an online book to capture your trip. We got a few great shots that we might order but only if we didn't also get a good picture on our own.

Using your cell/texting
. Many times Pam took Ben and Bill and I split up to go get Fastpass tickets for a ride we expected to have an line. We researched ahead of time which rides had Fastpass and tried using the system at the smallest park (Animal Kingdom) on our first full day there. I highly recommend learning this system and making it work to see the most and wait the least amount of time.

Many times Bill and I took a pic of a line, emailed it, and made a judgement call about getting in line. We also often saved a place in line while someone hit the bathrooms with Ben and then texted where we were to catch up. While we didn't use the pre-set touring plans in the book, I did look at them and if it was peak season I would have definately used them.

Souvenirs- I refused to spend a ridiculous amount on crap that once home was just going to take up space. Bill took Ben to the Disney store home at and let him pick our a plush Mickey to take with him on the train and sleep with at night. I went to Target the week before to get blister treatments and other first aid stuff, a glow stick/flashlight necklace for Ben to keep him occupied while waiting at night, and then the hit dollar bin where they had tons of Mickey themed things.

Each day I whipped out Mickey socks to wear, a pen necklace, notepad, stickers. Undoubtedly every ride spits you out into a gift shop so we let Ben often carry something around that he "wanted" and then made a big deal about putting it down so we could do something fun. Seriously bribed him at times with gummy bears to get him out of a store. We waited until the last night and hit the motherload of Disney Stores at Downtown Disney via a riverboat from our hotel and bought Ben a custom made ears hat that he picked out the patches and let him pick a t-shirt. I bought an tree ornament and Bill bought something Star Wars themed. Seriously, that was IT in the spending dept.

Overall I am really proud of the way we handled ourselves on the trip. We recognized that when Ben was starting to melt down that we didn't push it. No additonal ride was worth having to carry him kicking and screaming out of the park. While he did act like a typical 3 year old, having Pam along was often times the incentive that we needed. She was a major help and I highly recommend having not a whole family reunion at Camp Mickey, unless you are insane, but someone else along. It was amazing given this age what she could get him to do when Bill or I couldn't.

It was totally worth the money, time planning (esp on Bill's part). I typically over plan and I didn't this time which tells me that given next trip I need to trust Bill that he will do a fabulous job again.

As much as I joke that I hate all things kids related and Bill tells me I could be a Disney villain stand-in, I totally loved seeing the sheer joy and excitement on Ben's face. I totally get why parents want to do this trip for their kids. I hope that once the baby is about the same age and Ben is around 7 that we can do it again. Then I am planning that trip out West with the ground rules being you have to be able to carry your own pack and not poop on yourself.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fun Quota '09-The Disney Trip

I have been writing this post in my head for the last week but mounds to do at school + insane crazy tiredness = just now getting written. For those interested I plan to write a 2nd post tomorrow about the logistics of our trip if you are considering going to the dark side and doing Disney. I personally think we hit a balance of going with reasonable expectations of a often tired, whiny, pooping on himself 3 year old. We didn't expect that every moment was going to be rainbows and unicorns. Bill's planning was key to this trip along with my knack for winging it, got us through the non-Disney filled moments.

First off if you know me in real life either now or ever you might ask, YOU of all people drank the Kool-aid and actually enjoyed the trip. YES, I admit it I did. For for the most selfish reason of all, watching the shear joy and excitement on Ben's face was worth every minute suffering through yet another musical performance or another employee of Disney wishing me a "Disney Day" about 900 times. These employees must have a Valium lick at the time clock as no promise of health care equals this devotion to your job.

ok... the trip in my fav pictures with commentary

Friday night into Sat Am
we took an overnight Amtrak train from Raleigh to Kissimmee where we met Bill's mom, Pam. When Ben woke up around 6:30am his first words were, "mommy we are still on the train." Yes... and we will be for another FOUR hours!!! Note mommy sarcasm.

Once there we, checked into our hotel, the Port Orleans-Riverside and literally got not only the building we wanted, but a perfect room within an easy walk to the food court, pool, and shuttle stop. I loved this hotel and highly recommend for families trying not to spend your child's education at Camp Micky while wanting to be on Disney property.We requested a trundle bed for more room and Ben loved sleeping on a special bed giving Daddy a bed to himself.

Sat night after long naps we ventured out to the Magic Kingdom to watch the first of many parades and our only attempt at fireworks. As expected from the 4th of July, Ben was scared of the boom-booms so we bolted for Tomorrowland to ride race cars with no line.

Sunday we spent a half day at Animal Kingdom, new to all of us. We took advantage of the FastPass system to ride an African Safari as well as suffer through Finding Nemo-The Musical. Seriously, these people are not only smokin' crack but need to realize that there is a time and place for musical theater, high school.
That night we went to Epcot where it was the last day of the International Food and Wine Festival. I totally enjoyed my Irish cheese plate while Bill's mom, Pam enjoyed the largest glass of Guinness I have ever seen. Bill and I tried to ride the it ride of Epcot, Sorin' which simulates hang gliding, but with an hour wait we bailed. We had our first of two character meals. \This one served family style featured Chip, Dale, Pluto and Mickey. I have to admit I totally bought it and loved the experience. The food was great and each the characters hammed it up for the kids.

Monday we hit the Magic Kingdom again and took the train to the far side and worked our way specifically to Fantasyland where the most old school kids rides are still delighting the masses. Ben wasn't scared on any of the rides and thankfully, we had done our research and skipped the fear inducing ones. Later that night we returned to Epcot where we had reservations at the Biergarden in World Showcase. We got a table right next to the stage. The food was great and watching Bill minus over 100 lbs. living it up dancing with Ben still makes me smile.

We finished off Epcot and Bill and I got into Sorin' at one minute until closing. Yes I ran, and yes I felt like I was going to die after a heavy German meal. Pam took Ben back early to avoid the fireworks so we leisurely walked around Epcot together and enjoyed the only couple time we had on the trip.

Tuesday we spent the morning at Hollywood Studios where I kid you not we did the best thing on this trip: a stunt show involving car chases, people catching on fire, and in general a really bad parenting choice at it's best. Ben needless to say loved it and I think with our explanation that all was pretend we didn't set him back too much to want to go to a monster truck rally for his birthday. We also suffered through Playhouse Disney Live Action show. Did I mention how much I hate anything that resembles a musical?

Tuesday night called for rain, but fortunately we were all tired and needed a night off to pack and plan our last day. We did take the riverboat from our hotel all the way into Downtown Disney to get souvenirs and dinner. It finally started raining while there. Given the three straight days of cold, rainy weather at home we dodged a serious bullet in Florida.

Wednesday we slept in, checked out and hit the Magic Kingdom once more for our 2nd character meal.This was an endurance test for any reasonable person over the age of 10 to suffer through the adventures of Pooh and friends. While the food was good the loud, chaotic atmosphere was for die hard fans only. I would have been happier eating a corn dog and sitting on a curb than watching children and adults alike following the Pooh parade all over the restaurant to the mind-numbing music.

Of all the days of flawless transportation, little time waiting, of course us trying to get out of Disney Wed afternoon turned into something from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. At my worst I was running, yes running, through the food court getting food to take on the train to to use up our remaining food credits only to get to the train station for a 2 hour delay.

Once on the train we settled in and actually slept for a majority of the night, despite the man within ear shot talking loudly on a cell phone about the "price of rock vs power" on his cell phone as well as using profanity on a whole new level. NICE! Especially since he rode all the way to Raleigh with us.

At our post trip wrap up- aka we are waiting on our bags and need time to kill I polled everyone for their favorite part of the trip:

Ben- Riding on a train. We could have forgone the Disney part of the trip and just booked a 5 day train ticket.

Bill- Test Track and Sorin' at Epcot, eating/keeping down a plate of fav food Sauerbraten at Biergarden

Heather- It's a Small World, the hotel, having Bill's mom along to help, watching Bill interact with Ben.

Pam- Definately not the ride home via bus where someone had had a heart attack around Tifton, GA at 2 am. She hands down get's worst travel experience. I didn't poll her but my guess would be watching her son relieve childhood through her grandchild.

Our Vinson Family fun quota was totally exceeded for 2009 and I think we built up a reserve for 2010.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Phone Friday-A Trunk Full of Toys (and Underwear)

I have been swamped at work after being out a solid week from two back to back trips and I am behind on life! Needless to say at least 2 nights I have woken up still fully dressed at 3 am dead tired with all the lights on. Add to it a 6:55 am meeting this morning and the blog has been relegated to the end of the to do list. I DO have a super pic post about our Disney trip as well as the latest baby news, all coming next week.

Today my National Honor Society Students brought in their Operation Christmas child boxes to be shipped to one of 100 countries for children 2-10. The North Carolina based charity works to ensure that children worldwide receive a gift during the many cultural celebrations.

Last year my very ambitious NHS students raised over $5,000 for the International Charity Free the Children to build a school in Sierra Leone. Since I lost my inspiring President who is now a college Freshman as well as continuing solo as advisor to 61 students, we opted to let the officers choose the holiday project. I personally was pushing for a fundraiser to benefit the Harlem Children's Project after reading Whatever it Takes this summer.

As the boxes came in all week I added a little something to each box packed with toys, school supplies, toothbrushes and soap.... new underwear, socks, hats, and gloves. One thing I know well from teaching and working with teenagers is practicality is non-existent, so in came the first of our 2 family charity projects this holiday season. Ben and I went to Target earlier in the week and loaded my cart down with Princess themed training bras, Cars undies, socks in every style Target offers, and then I bought them out of dollar zone gloves and hats.

I drop off all the boxes tomorrow and along with a donation to cover the shipping I could not be more proud of my kids and smiled at my secret donation that went into each box.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Girly-Girl Award

Ever since I can remember I hate to carry a purse, bag, anything that simply by end of day feels like a giant shopping cart being lugged, collecting all the remnants of the day. I was that mother who hated cutesy things including most things baby. That is not to say that Ben channeled Mike Myers circa 1990 Sprockets at 6 months, but I didn't typically dress him in baby-baby outfits. If you look in my closet everything is neutral colors with the central theme being black. After all, being the fat girl doesn't give you liberty to look like a circus tent in brightly colored, garish clothes not then, not ever.

I digress as I often do, but it became abundantly clear over the weekend with my girlfriends that I needed a purse. I actually have a really nice Coach bag I got for high school graduation that I have carried very, very little. It has seen more closet space over 3 states that actual fresh air. One of my friends had a super functional Haiku bag that I decided to look into once home. I decided to pony up and get one as well as a matching wallet. Tomorrow I join the ranks of the other girly-girls with a purse to be carried when out.

This bag screams, "I am functional and can carry all the days necessities:" money/credit card, water bottle, keys, phone, pen/paper for to my ever present to-do lists, pull ups, and wipes. Throw in a Balance bar and a book and I am set to take on the world. That is or at least appear I am little more put together than shoving money in my pockets and depending on my "janitor-esque" key fob attached to 10 million rewards cards for local businesses, or best yet, creative use of ziplock bags to contain receipts.

What's next, matching shoes and a belt? Maybe a monogrammed beer koozie in my old sorority colors of kid you not, 80's kelly green and pink, I surely hope it doesn't come to that!

Monday, November 16, 2009

At Least No One Froze My Bra!

Since my boobs these days look more and more like a Vegas hooker I am SUPER happy the our girls weekend didn't involve any pranks, just lots of great times over a beautiful weekend in Blowing Rock. Check out Laura's fabulous post with pictures to boot of Moms Gone Wild. That is if you consider wild: sleeping in, eating way too much yummy food, hot tubbing for those who could, and lots and lots of endearing conversations. I think we ran the gamut from discussions of the importance of beer koozies to the many struggles to balance mommyhood with some semblance of a normal life.

Adult friendships are so much more different than any other I've had in my life. It becomes all to easy to find yourself too busy to keep up beyond elecronic means as you balance juggling your duties and responsibilities. I do believe that maintaining an ongoing friendship requires a different commitment. You are now making the choice to be with these friends often in place of time with additional time with your spouse and children.

I could not agree more that I love the picture of us laughing best of all. How appropriate to recall that of our time spent together it is endearing to know that you are loved for all your faults as much as what you bring to the group.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Phone Photo Friday- We Drank the Kool-Aid

I am planning to break our Disney trip into a couple of posts next week for those interested once we go through all the pictures. One with pics and the other with logistics.

We had a WONDERFUL time, seriously even with a tropical storm in the Gulf. We only had rain on one night on the way back to the hotel. This was the trip we wanted and Bill had planned. As always we went in with expectations of a cranky, over-stimulated, tired child at times and decided that resting each day, seeing the most important items of merit to a 3 year old should trump Mom's desire to see the Hall of Presidents and Bill's desire to ride more roller coasters. Having Bill's mom along also was a major help.

On our last night we let Ben make his own Mickey ears and pick out a t-shirt. I am happy to say that had contained fewer than the original 9 patches he wanted and my boy went old school with a retro Mickey shirt that features Mickey running no less. How appropriate for my beautiful boy.