Friday, December 23, 2011

Home again

So we went to Disneyland and it was awesome. It was artificial and manufactured and crowded and expensive and freakishly clean (think downtown Salt Lake City) and all the things I expected it to be but it was SO MUCH FUN. We had a blast and I already want to go back. There is so much to do and so much to see and the rides are great and the entertainment is great and the kids were happy. I cannot say enough about what a great time we had. Even through the few meltdowns (though not a lot!), and losing Mr. T for a scary moment, and the long lines, it was clearly one of the best trips we've taken as a family. I can't thank my in-laws enough, it was great. I'm going to go back and do day by day posts as I have time so I'll remember the trip but overall, it was great.

Also? Flying was totally the way to go. Driving would have been so exhausting and flying into Long Beach was the easiest thing ever. Love that airport, love Jet Blue.... it all went so smoothly.


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Airplane kids

Those who know me know that I have a lot of anxiety about flying. To say that I hate it would be an understatement. But I also don't want to limit the size of my world to driving distance so I do fly. Occasionally. I was very conscious about not transferring this anxiety onto the kids and for some reason I wasn't as nervous about the flight this time. Maybe because I know about 500 people who have flown to Disneyland, maybe because it was a short flight, maybe because I flew all the way to Spain this year, or maybe because I can't imagine anything awful happening to my babies. Whatever the reason, other than take -off, the flying didn't bother me much. The kids both did great. Mr. T didn't like it just because he didn't want to sit still for so long but there were TV's on the plane (highly recommend Jet Blue airlines) so he was fine. Aside from spilling two drinks on me but hey, that's traveling with two kids.

When we got to Long Beach an old friend picked us up and we went to her house to visit and so the kids could play. Then she took us to our hotel where we rested and met my in-laws for dinner at the Rain Forest Cafe. The kids were really extremely tired at this point since they got up at 4, but they pushed through. Then it was back to the hotel to put the kids to bed and Peter and I headed to the bar for a drink (we had adjoining rooms with my in-laws, which was a brilliant idea on their part).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Onward to Disneyland and Christmas

THis week has been one of finishing things up. The presents are bought. My photo class is over. Cards are mailed out and we are ready to relax and enjoy the week of Christmas. This weekend we are boarding a plane for Disneyland! It's going to be a big trip. Both the kids and I have never been before and the kids have never been on an airplane before. I'm crossing my fingers that they are both Ok with it, Miss E will be fine but I could see Mr. T freaking out and crying a bit. I have tried to prepare them best I can by just factually explaining, in a no-big-deal way about the security procedures and what the plane will sound like when it takes off and what it will be like in the air. I have done very good at keeping my own anxiety in check - those who know me know that I HATE to fly - and honestly I've been so busy that it hasn't had time to hit. Going to Spain earlier this year helped as does knowing that if I'm stressed out about it, there is no way I'll be able to truly hide that from the kids, especially Miss E - she just picks up on everything I'm feeling. So far, they are both pretty excited about the trip. And who wouldn't be - it's Disneyland!

When we come back, it will be Christmas time with my family! We found out last week that Peter's Christmas shift filled, meaning he gets to be home for Christmas! This is great news. The main thing that is really hard about being married to a firefighter for me is the working on the holidays. Now that the kids are older, the long work hours are no problem. We can handle a 48 like it's nothing. But having Peter be gone every Christmas morning? That sucks. Even the years when he works CHristmas eve, he doesn't get home until 7:30 Christmas morning and the kids are already up and opening their stockings. When he works Christmas, he leaves the house at 5:30 before the kids are up. I have offered to keep them upstairs longer or wake them up early but Peter doesn't want everyone's schedule to change because of him but still, he has maybe twice since Miss E was old enough to get Santa, seen the kids faces first thing on Christmas morning and that, to me, feels like a huge price to pay for a job. So while he is home this Christmas because some blessed new kid wanted to work overtime, I will be thinking of all the firefighters and police officers and military personnel and hospital personnel that are missing Christmas with their families because truly, that is a big thing to give up.

And that's it! On to packing and Disneyland!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Mr. T's room

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but our house is small. Not quaint small, but really really small, like 950 square feet. This would be perfect for a couple who doesn't like to entertain much but for a family of four, well, sometimes it feels pretty cramped. Especially in the winter when we can't use our fairly large back yard as an extra room. There are many good things about our small house: it's easy to clean, I can always keep an ear on the kids, it's affordable and in a good neighborhood with a great school. It's safe and cozy and warm and we are fortunate to not worry about making payments or being upside down in our mortgage and, as I previously mentioned, the back yard is huge and fenced in, which I think is great for kids.

Still though, when all four of us are here and the kids are rambunctious I find myself wishing for a basement or a playroom or a 2nd story where they could go. To offset this smallness, I made sure that the kids got their own rooms. This may seem counter-intuitive but when you spend all day or all your time at home WITH the family, it's good for them to have a place they can go that they can call their own. Plus their personalities are not conducive to sharing a room. We have 2 bedrooms, which are decent sized,  one is ours and one is Miss E's. When we bought the house, we weren't expecting to be here with two kids.

Then came the wonderful Mr. T, and the crash of the housing market. And when he was about 8 months old, we realized he needed a room. So we took the one car garage, which had been enclosed into the house already, split it in half and made half of it his room. One half of a tiny used-to-be garage in a 1930's house. It's small. To make matters worse, you step down about three stairs from the main part of the house to the laundry room and the door to his room is off the laundry room. The walls are drywall, the floor is regular flooring, but there is not much disguising that it's sitting on a cement slab in a largely uninsulated part of the house. In the laundry room is a door to the outside that no amount of weatherization can fully keep the cold air from flowing in through. Long story short, in the winter, Mr. T's room is a bit cold. His bed is covered in flannel sheets and down comforters and the floor has a thick wool rug but in the cold part of winter, it's pretty chilly.

Last night, after his bath, he and I were down in his room and he was shivering as I was rapidly trying to help him get his pj's and socks on. In the sweetest, littlest voice possible he started this conversation:


"what honey?"

"Next time, when we get a new house, can my room be upstairs by yours and Miss E's?"

"Yeah sweetie, it can."

I felt so bad for him at that moment. He never complains about how small his room is, or having the closet with the water heater in it in his space, but somehow this plaintive little request for a warm room in the main part of the house broke my heart. Now I know his room is fine, but this is just one of those things that makes me really realize that sometimes, through no fault of anyone's, the second kid gets short-changed a bit. The older kid gets short-changed in other ways and we have a saying in our house "not everything has to be fair" but I still felt pretty bad that we can't offer him something nicer than his cold tiny room.

Monday, December 5, 2011

busy busy blah blah blah

I hate to bitch and moan, especially about the consequences of choices I've made, but allow me to do it for a minute. Here we go: I'm too busy and wah so are we all. It's busy with blessings and wonderful things, but I have been feeling frazzled. A few days ago, though,  I kicked into "high stress, start getting crap done mode" and it's feeling better.

Here's what we've been up to:

1) Thanksgiving. Not our best. I had one sip of white wine and got a migraine, Miss E didn't eat all day because she didn't like the food and had the mother of all melt-downs that nigh. Let me amend that, until about 4, we were ROCKING thanksgiving. 4 kids playing nicely and independently, adults cooking and chatting and watching football (go pack!). Best Thanksgiving ever, until 4. But hey, compared to all the years when the adults didn't even get to sit down and eat together, I'll take it. And Thanksgiving isn't about perfection.

2) Friends visiting.

3) School and school and room parent duties.

4) Getting our tree.

5) Playgroup holiday party - the kids partied until 9 this year!

6) More room parent duties.

Fantasy football. I'm competing for the last spot in the playoffs and could not be more proud of myself. I started this league 2 years ago, not really knowing much about football and am competing with guys who have been avid football fans all their lives. Next Sunday determines if I get in but whether I do or not, I think I've done pretty good. It's fun to have something that you can be super cut-throat competitive with. (full disclosure - I know how geeky this sounds.)

Disneyland planning. We were stressing and stressing about driving to Disneyland over Christmas. It's a 15 hour drive each way, which basically equals 2 full days of driving. The longest the kids have ever been in the car is one day of 7 hours of driving. I had visions of arriving there tired, with the kids having eaten restaurant food for 2 days and it just being a mess. With the kids I feel like we have a limited number of "good" away from home nights. Each year it gets to be more, but right now we are on about 4. That means vacations are fun and awesome and everyone is having a great time until about night 4 when the tiredness and lack of routine and weird food catch up to us, not to mention the fact that neither of my children likes to poop anyplace but home. So driving to Disneyland equals first two good days in car. Plus Peter has to work on Christmas (boo) and we were worried about making it home in time for that. If there was snow on the mountains and we couldn't get through, he wouldn't make it home and that results in another firefighter being ordered to work on Christmas which is UNCOOL. Cannot happen sort of uncool. Ahhh..but the plane tickets so close to Christmas are super expensive which left us with driving. Until I started hearing about these crazy cyber-monday week deals on airfare and found direct flights for a reasonable price. Not crazy cheap, but doable. Still I waffled all day Sunday while Peter was at work I texted him about 30 times - which looked something like this:

me - should we do it?

him - I don't know. yes. Maybe.

me - it's so much money. but i don't want to drive.

him - me neither. Maybe we should do it. can we?

me- clay matthew TD (packers game was on)

him - this game is going to be rough and tumble

me - pros -  minus 4 days of driving and travel wearyness/hotel fatigue, no surprise cost or worry about getting stuck in snow, no wear on car. Cons - money would be tight.

me - it would be a really lean month for us.

him - just returning from a dude who had his head shut in a pickup tailgate. bloodbath.

me - .......nevermind

And there you have it. Plane tickets purchased. Because life is too short not to fully enjoy your only trip to Disneyland and you never know when someone is going to get their head shut in the tailgate of a pickup. (Seriously though, how does that HAPPEN????)