Thursday, May 17, 2012

Birthday Magic

It takes a lot of magic to create happiness, and a lot of money and effort to make magic; every good fairy knows that. Pixy dust doesn’t grow on trees (it’s some sort of weird lake underneath one, according to the latest shows). Planning for a visit to The Most Magical Place on Earth made me think of magic, and for some reason that made me think of The Prestige.
So may I introduce our Disney World plans; a grand show unto itself.

The Pledge

Planning for the trip began in January. There was some internal debate about whether to do a Disney cruise, or yet another beach trip, or shingle my house in gold plate (approximately the same cost). Since Jelly is about to turn that special age of four, when a girl’s heart turns to whatever her daycare friends are talking about, she has been asking for The Mouse for what seems like a hundred billion years. So be it. I did my research, I plotted my schedule, I booked the character meal reservations – and I paid. I convinced myself that I’d be able to put it out of my head for 5 months. I lasted almost 2.

The Turn

It began innocently enough.  I thought I might want to do a little research, check out one of the AllEars or DisBoard forums. That led to poking around for some trip odds and ends that were deemed OMG DON’T  LEAVE HOME WITHOUT THIS. Rain ponchos. Glow sticks. Segways. Then I decided she needed a couple little gifts for while we were there. And maybe a special outfit or two. Before I knew it, I was stockpiling those free stickers I was always getting from the Disney DVD Club and trying to gauge how many non-$12 bottles of water I could get in my checked bag. And as each day dragged slowly by, desperately clawing its way through the end of winter and the early days of spring, I lay in bed and thought… ‘this is how she’ll look when we do this’. ‘This is what she’ll say when she sees that’. I got tired of saying 'We'll see' or 'Maybe' so I told her I was planning a Birthday Adventure, and she wouldn't know what it was until the day of. One of our favorite car games the past few weeks has been making up silly things it could be; a hot air balloon ride, an underwater car, dinner with a king. I'm pretty sure she thinks it's a beach trip. I hope she's not disappointed.

The Prestige

I have gone back and forth on the reveal. There are a billion stories and videos of how parents told their loved ones they were going to The World, some touching, some lame, some tragic (the kids who are burst into tears, unhappy ones, because they really aren’t going to Grandma’s or camping or whatever the double-cross is). For a long time the plan was to take Disney-themed cupcakes into Jenny’s class, and present her with the customized birthday ears. A week ago I discarded this idea – I decided it was stupid to drive her to daycare for just three hours, when they wouldn’t let the kids have the cupcakes until after nap anyhow.
So a few days ago I came up with my new plan. This afternoon I spent $100 on balloons at the party store; #4 balloons, and foil balloons, and Princess and Toy Story and even an awesome Perry balloon. And the BEST ‘floating Mickey’, taller than Jenny.  I got Mickey plates and a cup and napkins. Everything is currently in my pantry, and tomorrow morning while she’s watching cartoons, I will make Mickey pancakes and then call her in. The video camera is on the table.
I don’t expect the screaming and jumping up and down and tears like you see from other kids; Jenny is too young and too cool for that noise. I think it will hit later – likely when I’m not able to get away, strapped in an airplane seatbelt – I need to prepare myself now for the non-stop talk that is going to blast me all the way to humid Orlando. Sunny/rainy, Star Wars-weekend-crowded Orlando.

The Transported (Wo)Man

I woke up at 5am this morning and wanted to throw up. I am so freaking excited/nervous/freaked out about the whole thing I basically twitched all day. Thank God I never got married, I would never have been able to stand it.
So after the fancy pancakes and the obligatory ½ lb of bacon, we’ll get on our new shirts and head to the Fast Park and Fly.  We’ll get on a plane (hopefully) sometime around 1:30. We’ll land in sweaty Orlando and skip happily to the Magic Express bus. It will whisk us away to the All Star Movies (Toy Story building requested) Resort. And thus will begin the Great Disney Birthday Adventure, Friday May 18 through Tuesday May 22.
Monday she turns four. I can’t even start to believe it. Wait til I get around to posting some of her 4-year pics (look for those around November. When she’s five). You won’t believe it’s the same kid. She’s still funny and tender to all animals and stubborn and a little loud sometimes. She still cracks me up with randomness and kid drama, and she still wants me to lie in bed with her at night for a few minutes before she goes to sleep. I marvel at the depths of emotion I feel when I smell her hair or see her draw a picture of herself, hand-in-hand with me, big smiles and bright colors.

Happy Birthday, Jellybean, my great big almost-four-year-old girl. I can't wait til tomorrow.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jelly Parties All the Time

Oh, hey, look, there's a blog here! Whaaa, it's February already? Who knew?!

Well, the good news is, since I'm not on Topamax this go-round, despite the crazy hours at my crazy job, I am not horrifyingly depressed without even realizing it! Cool, huh? I am actually keeping my house (relatively) clean, happily cooking away, planning lots of ridiculously fun things, and generally you know, being fairly stable. Relatively speaking, again.

Since the housing market is still in the crapper I made the official decision to put off moving for another year, which means I have to figure out what to do with Jelly in the fall and for reals start to think about packing/moving. She is still very happy at the daycare, but it's a combined 3's/4's room and is definitely not a Pre-K program. We went and toured another location that runs a true Pre-K, and she LOVED it - has asked daily when she is going to start there. So I'll check out a couple other places, but it's a strong contender. In the meantime she's got a boyfriend, Evan, who is 5 and absolutely adorable.
He had a bowling birthday party recently - all family members, and Jenny.
And, also, a little weird in the shudder-omg-someday-I-will-meet-in-laws-who-matter way.

She is keeping me busy and is as hilarious as ever. When people ask what grade she's in (yes, she's THAT TALL), she likes to say she's 3 1/2, 'but almost 3 3/4'. The birthday extravaganza this year will be - wait for it - a surprise trip to Disney World. 4 fun-filled days (Fri evening-Tues morning) of the most expensive mind-blowing preschool activity a 4-year old could dream of. I decided to bite the bullet and do it because, well, it's not going to cost a whole lot more than what I usually spend (I have air vouchers and a Disney Visa Rewards that I've been collecting since she was born), and four is my favorite age. I freaking love four, that's what I taught when I did daycare. Plus I've never been, so I'm totally excited as well.

Otherwise it's pretty much business as usual - planning our first camping trip of the year for next month (if this weather ever warms back up), getting Fresh Beat Band concert tickets, booking another Easter in Cincinnati; basically packing every weekend full of zany antics.
The Chinese New Year Festival.
Jenny can't stop saying, "I know Kung-Fu!" like Keanu Reeves, it cracks me up.
Her latest thing is the living room sleepover party - I haul the spare room mattress downstairs, shove everything out of the way, and scatter various pillows, sleeping bags, and stuffed creatures everyone. She adores it - I usually last a few hours and sneak up to my bedroom.

It's interesting to see how she's changed as she's shot up and out of 4T, then 5T sizes; she can now follow directions with five moving parts ('go here, get this, complete this action, return item, come back') which I think is pretty impressive; she can undress/dress herself, turn on/off light switches, knows the Pledge, still sings damn Christmas carols, and is increasingly aware/interested in time concepts; how long, what day etc. I finally hung a damn calendar in her room.
We did swimming lessons again - she didn't wear floaties! I didn't have to get in the pool!

Knock on wood we've been pretty healthy, except for Saturday when she barfed because she ate two pieces of pie at the diner at lunch. She had a cold that spread to pink eye and an ear infection, where I learned one of her tubes is finally on the way out. Annual dentist appointment is next week, we'll see what he says about the finger-sucking. She got her hair cut kinda short, and it's hella cute. I kinda wish she would ask for pierced ears.
Hard to believe she'll be four in three months!

Friday, December 16, 2011

No Place Like Home for the Holidays

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, whatever you celebrate I hope you have a safe and wonderful end-of-December type thing with lots of over-indulging, minimal squabbling, season-appropriate weather, and above all, some damn sleep.

I know, right?!
She's so effing awesome.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Sir Jelly

Just stopping by long enough to remind you all that I TOLD YOU this new job was going to destroy everything. Lunch breaks, bathroom breaks, laundry, blogging - there's no time for any of that nonsense now. It's been over a MONTH since I've been here! That's disgraceful. So many exciting things to report, and no time to tell mah stories. And don't expect that to change any time soon - we're in the snowball-to-New Year's as far as our weekends go, where there are festivals and birthday parties and parades and Polar Express train rides and Trans Siberian Orchestra tickets... well, if you've read my blog for longer than a post or two, you know how I like to plan things out. And planned they are!

But check out the bravest knight in the house...

She was so effing cute. The photographer thought she was a boy and kept calling her 'buddy', it was hilarious.

And now I must run off to another client call, and more project timelines and budget updates. Apologies for being so neglectful, please forgive me. And Happy Halloween!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Bravest Mama

I have skied black diamond runs in the mountains of Colorado. I have dived the depths of St. Maarten, surrounded by sharks. I’ve flown in a private jet, and I’ve danced on the stage in a strip club. I’ve ridden a horse, a camel, an elephant, and an Ohio River steamboat. I’ve been stuck in a cave twice, once underwater off a small Columbian island, and once trapped by ice. I’ve sipped tequila in Mexico, eaten lobster in Nova Scotia, and bought strappy heels in New York city. I’ve been spit on by Shamu, lost money in Vegas, and ridden the trolley in San Francisco. I got kicked out of Graceland.

Last Saturday I ate a cricket.

Oh, the things you’ll do to show your child it’s good to be brave, and try new things.

The cricket was awful, all legs and antennae and the stuff nightmares are made of.

Jenny loved the worms. To be fair, they were crunchy and Thai-flavored, so it wasn’t exactly a hardship.

We both had a blast, and despite the pathetic drizzly weather enjoyed BugFest immensely.

My precious bug.

We are crossing our fingers hoping the rain stays away this Saturday so that we can go to Pride 2011. We do love a parade, and since a kindly gay man gave me my Jellybean, I want us to get out and show our support. Especially with all the insanity going around with laws being revised and rights revoked and all those things.

Can you believe it's Fall already? Yes, it's still warm here, but I am ignoring it. I am still going to make chili for dinner, even if it's 83 degrees. We have already got one farm visit under our belts, in preparation for the month-long Halloween season. Yes, as a matter of fact, I have already carved a little pumpkin and roasted pumpkin seeds. Look, if the stores can have Christmas stuff out already, you can't judge me.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Plan C

Alrighty, so the whole post-migraine treatment plan wasn’t working for me, and the preventative Topamax was a little disappointing, so here we are at Plan C. I figured since most of the baddies are hormonal, I’d see what happens if I can level out that hormone shift that happens twice a month. I finally got in to see my gyno, which was just as pleasurable as I expected, and not only got a scrip for the have-a-period-once-every-three-months Seasonale, I got a bonus estrogen patch. Crazy! The biggest side effect of the patch is, well, cancer, but I’m only going to wear it a couple days/month, since it’s not like I’m going through the change and wearing seven at a time every day. Or licking them (seriously, one of the warnings is not to ingest them. WTF is WRONG with people?!).

So I’ve got the patch on, and I’ll let you know how that goes, and will be starting the pill in the next few weeks. Statistics give me a 33% chance of success – 1 in 3 people get worse, 1 in 3 people don’t experience a significant change, and 1 in 3 feel more like rock stars. And, you know, they note a decrease in migraine occurrence. We’ll see how this works out.

If you’d like a work update, well, it’s a shitload of work. The team is so shorthanded that I’m thrown a new project pretty much hourly, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for the whole ‘product training’ thing. You know that annoying phrase, ‘fake it til ya make it’? Yeah – that. But interestingly, there are some things about project management that I really did miss, so it might not be as terribly horribly nightmarish as I anticipated.

This weekend is the Labor Day holiday, so that’s pretty cool. And then the weather will start to be a little cooler, and Jelly and I have a few little camping trips already planned, and her Halloween costume is already in her closet (hello, I’m a planner, remember). We’ve had a few pleasant mornings that are 68 degrees, it’s quite the teaser. I’ve prepared by joining a Crock Pot group on Facebook, I think I’m ready.

Someone else is, too.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Ok, let's put this summer thing to bed, shall we? I know, I know, going to the beach and the lake is fun and all that, but I'm over this heat. This morning it was 67 degrees and I almost wept I was so damn happy. All I want to do is wear jeans and start making soup and using my oven again; I'm tired of shaving my legs every five seconds and of blow-drying my hair in 115% humidity (ok, that last one is a lie, I NEVER blow-dry my hair anymore).

I love summer, don't get me wrong - it's when my birthday is, and I love to swim and be blonde and tan, and have pina coladas by the pool, and all that. It's just that I'm ready for the next thing. This time of year always makes me anxious - maybe it's part of growing up in a household with teachers, and then being one; I'm anticipating change that I don't get any more as a Project Manager. Although I did just start a new job, so that ought to count. And yes, I DO habitually change jobs at summer's end more than any other time of the year.

How about you nice people? I know my mum almost slapped me when I said it was only four months til Christmas, but that's because she lives in the land of 7 months of winter, and it's not the wear-a-heavy-sweater-outside kind of winter like it is here, it's the wear-a-parka-and-still-freeze-your-effing-ass-off kind. Do you guys want to hang onto summer, or are you ready for pumpkin patches and corn mazes, a ridiculous slew of Halloween parties and thick hearty stews, snuggling in bed on a crisp morning?

We do have one last warm-weather beach trip coming up, don't freak out. The Ta did some more traveling, and got some more points, so it looks like we'll be returning to Wilmington for our annual Labor Day event. This is totally awesome, don't get me wrong, I am sure it will change my mind and make me want summer to hang around a little while longer.

But man, could I ever go for some molasses cookies and a cup of cider.

Oh, Canada! My favorite pics from our trip, in absolutely no kind of order:

My mum and my Jelly. My parents live in a little itsy bitsy town that is so damn cute, they have free weekly concerts in the park in the center of town. It's one block from my parents' place. We walked over one lovely evening and enjoyed some music. Things like this make me really miss living in town. And, you know, Canada, where you can sit outside in August and not pray for death because of suffocating heat.

Jellybean and her cousins. They are all nut bars, and this pic captures them quite nicely. My mum got them matching shirts and threw them on this bench, desperate for a cute picture of the three of them. I was upstairs working so missed the fun, but I know Jelly was having a great time. She misses them lots - she refers to them as 'my friends' when she talks about them.

Jenny has a special relationship with her uncle, my brother Jim. When she was a baby he would do crazy dance moves to make her laugh, so he was nicknamed Uncle Dancey, and that's what she calls him. He plays with her, and is patient with her, but also doesn't let her push him around. I love that she's got him for a male role model. His illness is a little confusing to her, since his schizophrenia meds mean he can't usually get out of bed til noon and I have to correct her that he is not 'having a lazy day'. He has good days and bad, but is always awesome with her.

My sisters. I am the eldest of four; my sister N, on the left, is three years younger, and my sister M, on the right, is 13 years younger. My brother is the youngest, a year younger than M. We are about as different as three sisters can be, and have gone through a lot in working through how we relate to each other. But I have never once doubted they'd have my back. Or, you know, 'support' me. Ha ha (this was funnier at the time).

Only in Cottage Country, the tourist region known as the Muskokas in Northern Ontario, would you find a kid in an elf hat and a life jacket. This look says, 'I love Christmas, and boating'. There's a little theme park a couple hours from my hometown called Santa's Village - there are only about a dozen mostly lame rides, a few food vendors, and some prize stands. But there's also Santa, and his 'summer sleigh', this crazy boat that does 360s in the water, and you know what, that amount of rides is perfect for this age group. And they have reindeer! She freaking loved it.

My girl, the cowboy. We put her up on a nice brown pony, and he took 15 years off my life by spooking and bolting, throwing my kid off. She handled it like a champ, no tears, and got right back up on this much calmer pony, Fancy. I play a LOT of games with Jelly now where one of her toys is Fancy, or she is, or god forbid, I am. The horseback riding fund may replace the beach trip fund next year.

I like this picture because it sums us up nicely - there's my sister's bra hanging right there, and my mum is outside in plain view of several neighbors in her bathrobe, and we're missing half the people because they're running around doing other stuff. But there's a great breakfast on the table, and eventually we'll all be seated eating together, and the kids are now at their own table on the deck below hollering at us. And it's a beautiful day! Look, my sister is even wearing a sweater! Seriously, sooooo ready for cooler weather...