Sunday, July 29, 2012

Family Vacay Part II: The Fun Stuff!

The plane ride = not fun. But everything other than that was a blast! The resort was lovely and provided tons of stuff to do, and we just had a really, really good time following Sweets' lead. We basically did whatever he wanted to do and it worked out great. At the last minute we bagged the Magic Kingdom - I just didn't think he was ready after the local zoo debacle - and it was the best decision we could have made. My conference was fantastic too, though it was challenging to sit in all those sessions knowing Sweets and Hubs were having such a good time out at the pool! Instead of describing all the fun, I'll let the pictures do the talking:

We began each morning with a trip to the resort's awesome playground while it was nice and cool out.

The grounds were sprawling and we often could entertain ourselves just by walking around.

After the playground, it was time to hit the pool! Or should I say poolS? There were probably about six of them to choose from, including this 1 foot deep kiddie pool, which Sweets loved.

We did take a shuttle over to Downtown Disney one afternoon to get our Mickey fix. Sweets was not impressed. Doesn't it look like he's having fun? ;)

Again, looking so thrilled.

"Mom, seriously, enough with the hats."

Outside the new T-Rex restaurant (which absolutely terrified my son, by the way).

These dogs made out of Legos were much more his speed.

Aaaaaand then there was our ill-fated dinner at the Rainforest Cafe. I knew going into this that it was going to go one of two ways for Sweets: love or hate. You can guess which way it went. He may look content here, but that's only because the first thunderstorm and its accompanying frantic rainforest animals hadn't struck yet.

The rest of the meal was spent in one of the following ways: a) reassuring him that the animals weren't real and couldn't hurt him, b) trying to distract him with his overpriced Cars souvenirs, c) walking around the gift shop with him, or d) trying to convince him to eat his $9 dino nuggets. 

Each evening we walked on the lakefront beach. Soooo relaxing!

Do they come any cuter? I think not.

Family foot portrait :)

Hubs managed to catch this super fast little lizard. Isn't he cute?

On Friday evening, my brother and sister-in-law drove up to see us and we all went to Universal's Citywalk, where we dined on some mighty tasty shrimp and gelato, and had a great visit! This photo was taken like a minute after Sweets totally blew out his diaper while waiting in line for a water taxi. That was fun.

It is my goal in life to stay at the Portofino Bay Resort someday. Does it look like we're in Orlando, FL, or Portofino, Italy? You decide.

While we were walking around, Sweets found these little paved walkways and kept referring to them as train tracks. All he wanted to do was drive the "J train" around on them all night!

After our evening out, Sweets was BEAT. He fell asleep in Uncle K's car and slept all the way back to the hotel, up the elevator, through getting changed into his PJs and until 8:30 the next morning!

Our last morning at the hotel :( But, um, how stinkin' cute is Sweets taking in the view for the last time?

Killing time before our shuttle to the airport.

So long, Disney Dolphin Resort. We thoroughly enjoyed you!

For a few days after our return, I had that bittersweet "our vacation is over and I'm so sad about it but so happy to be home" feeling. It didn't take long to slide back into our little summer routine, though. I'm so behind on blogging - we've done so much in the last month! - but hopefully will be able to catch up now that life is back to normal. Have I mentioned lately that Sweets turns TWO on Wednesday? I can't handle it. At.all. Where have the last 24 months gone???

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Family Vacay Part I: Flying with a Toddler

I recall, with an unappreciated-at-the-time level of fondness, when flying meant a carry-on bag full of fashion magazines, my current book, an ipod with a new playlist, and perhaps a new movie on my laptop. 2, 3, 4 or more hours to do nothing but relax, catch up on my celebrity gossip, maybe grab a quick nap. Ahhhh, those were the days. Because now that I've experienced it, I can tell you that flying with a toddler is about the least relaxing thing you can do. Seriously, it ranks right up there with taking the MCATS, or having a double root canal. Except at 30,000 feet and in a 2x2 foot area.

If you have a TV-loving kid, flying could actually be something of a breeze - cue up Toy Story on the old ipad and you might even be able to peace out to napland while Junior gets his movie on. I, however, do not have one of these children, and on a normal day, I am quite grateful for that. What I have is a kid who is constant motion 12 hours a day, and what I heard 10 minutes into our flight was "all done airplane!" Now, I have to say that on the way there, Sweets actually did very well, all things considered. He loved the wrapped up toys ("more presents please?"), played happily with them for most of the flight, watched some Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the ipad, and ate his weight in airline pretzels. Descending into Orlando he was given his very first lollipop, ever, and he thought that was pretty special. All in all, a successful, albeit not relaxing in the slightest, flight.
Checking out our plane with Daddy

.2 seconds before he ripped off the headphones and refused to wear them anymore

2 1/2 uneventful hours later, we arrived at the Happiest Place on Earth!

One shuttle ride after that, we reached our final destination: The Disney Dolphin Resort

We were psyched: who wouldn't want to be here?

To wrap up travel day 1, we grabbed a quick dinner and got the lay of the land.

We arrived at the airport for our return flight not anticipating anything other than what we got on the way in. After all, Sweets had slept fantastically well for the week, and was in a great mood. We had a snack, saw the sights, and boarded the plane. And what we got, for the ensuing 2 hours and 15 minutes, was this:

Toddler hell at 30,000 feet. We were totally that family with a screaming, miserable, can't-reason-with-him two year old. Surprisingly, I wasn't that concerned with what other people thought about the situation, because anyone could see that we were working our arses off to pacify our kid, but I did feel pretty darn sorry for myself. I was a human jungle gym who got snotted on, kicked, screamed at, and finally, contorted into a most inhumane position when Sweets did finally manage to fall asleep. I wanted to jump out the window, but barring that, I managed to hang in there, juuuuust barely, until we touched down at home. I was nauseated, with a pounding headache and no nerves left, but while we taxied to the gate, Hubs and Sweets had a little chat that ended with Sweets saying "Sorry, Mama," ever so adorably, and all was forgiven ;) 

More to come on the fun stuff we did in Family Vacay: Part II!

Monday, July 16, 2012

See Ya Bye!

As of tomorrow, this family is officially on vacation (well, total vacation for 2 of us anyway. One of us has a conference to attend)! This is what it takes to get two adults and a toddler to Orlando and back:

I was determined not to check more than 1 bag, since I find the checked baggage fees absolutely ludicrous, and I did it - I crammed everything into one large suitcase. Of course, we'll also be toting Hubs' duffel bag, my rolling carry-on, my shoulder bag, the diaper bag, and Sweets' little backpack. Ohandprobablyalso - our spare car seat. This was a last minute decision based solely on the fact that the airline has decided to have pity on those of us brave enough to travel with little ones and allow us to check car seats for free. We are not renting a car, but my brother and sister-in-law are coming up to meet us on Friday and we'd like the freedom to travel outside the Disney bubble we'll have lived in for 3 days. So, these pack mules are off to catch some zzzzzzzs for our day of travel tomorrow. Wish us luck!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Prepping for blast-off!

Just 4 days until we leave on an "airpain" for our Disney getaway! I'm getting very excited, and definitely entering insane preparation mode. You know all those lists I said I was keeping back in my post about cloth diapering on the road?  I think I've purchased pretty much everything we'll need, and perhaps some things we won't, but I'm one of those people who would prefer to be overprepared rather than underly so. Is underly a word?

Anyway, here are some of my travel purchases:

I love my Vera Bradley diaper bag, but I didn't want to travel with it for fear of it getting lost or ruined. So I grabbed that JJ Cole on close-out from - it will be great for travel because it comes with stroller straps and the outside is laminated for easy wipe-downs (like after it's been set on the floor of a public restroom - ew!). I also nabbed a cute little Cars backback for Sweets to haul some of his own stuff through the airport and he looks totally adorable wearing it. OMG. Also pictured are a set of Mickey Take n' Toss cups, a Munchkin toddler sports bottle, a travel sound machine (we've learned the hard way that Sweets sleeps best with his ocean sounds on), and a pack each of disposable placemats and disposable bibs.

My bag of tricks for the plane! I scoured the Dollar Store, Party City, and the dollar racks at various stores to come up with a sizeable stash of toys and activities that Sweets has never seen before. On the advice of other well-prepared mamas, we wrapped each one so that it would take up as many minutes as possible to play with. Hopefully this tides us over for our 2 1/2 hour flight (and maybe even gets us home)!

I abhor character clothing. But what trip to Disney is complete without a Mickey shirt? I spied an Etsy seller who made these adorable tanks for kids with a simple Mickey logo, but she was selling them for $25! No thanks. So I made my own, to the tune of about seven bucks. And since I had fabric left over, I made one for me as well. Hey, Disney brings out the kid in all of us ;)

I found a Garanimals plain tank top (and man, those are not easy to find!) and used fuseable webbing to iron Mickey on in a fun polka dot print. Then I used black fabric paint to secure the edges so they wouldn't fray. Can't wait to see him in it!

For my shirt, I just made a few rolled fabric flowers, stiched the smaller ones to the larger one, and then tacked it onto a red tank. I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

And lastly, my bargain Craigslist find. I love, love, love our Chicco travel system stroller, but like my Vera diaper bag, didn't want to subject it to the hazards of air travel. And I wanted something lighter and smaller for use on the many shuttle buses we'll be encountering along the way. One day while cruising Craigslist I found this: the Graco Mickey Mouse in the House lightweight stroller. Um, a Mickey stroller for our trip to Mickeyland? I couldn't text the seller fast enough. This stroller retails for about $120, and she sold it to me for twenty bucks! 

Not pictured are the copious amounts of snacks that I've been stocking up on to get us through the plane ride, the waiting in lines, the "I'm-hungry-and-I-need-to-eat-NOW" moments we're sure to encounter. That goes for me as well as Sweets - I'm not so pleasant when I'm hungry. 

What have I forgotten? Tell me now!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Old Navy and Dystopia

One has nothing to do with the other (I'm pretty sure), except that both are rocking my summer vacation. Seriously, my days since school ended have been spent in a delicious haze of morning stroller rides with Sweets (in my super comfy Old Navy duds), trips to the library (to find more dark, dystopian, young adult fiction), and reading on the porch while he naps (reading, of course, said dark, dystopian YA fiction). Oh, and scarfing ice cream sandwiches and pinning things I'll never get around to making. But those don't have a place in this post ;)

Have you been to Old Navy lately? It's my headquarters for comfortable, functional, stylish and affordable summer clothes. I don't buy myself nearly as many clothes as I used to - seriously, I had a clothing acquisition problem before Sweets was born - but I had some birthday money to use and it's always a thrill to go out and spend it on something for me. I picked up the following at good old ON, and have been living in them ever since:

Jersey-knit maxi skirt with drawstring waist. A few things set this skirt apart from its many competitors on the market - it has a drawstring waist, rather than a fold-over waist, which makes it lay much nicer around the middle (no extra bulk from the additional fabric a fold-over waist provides), it's cut on the bias, so it drapes and flows beautifully, and it's actually long enough for me to wear. At 5'8" I often have a hard time finding pants and skirts that are long enough, and this is the first "maxi" anything that I have tried on that is actually floor-length on me.

Perfect tank with stretch. I've long been a fan of ON's tank tops, but my one complaint was that they never had that hint of stretch that keeps them looking nice and fitting well wash after wash. This year they finally remedied that by adding a touch of spandex to their classic tank and now it's per.fect. I *may* have purchased a zillion a few colors (pssst, did I mention if you buy 2 or more they're only $7 each?).

Pieced-hem gauze skirt. So light, so swingy, so perfect for summer. I can totally get away with this for running errands, going out for dinner, or even work. It's awesome and will totally be making an appearance on my Florida vacation packing list! 

The tami. This is ON's term for their cross between a tank and a cami. Call it whatever you want, but it's darn comfy! It's a stretchy knit with thin straps, and what I enjoy most is that it's plenty long. It hits below my hips, which makes it great for layering or wearing on its own. I can't stand shirts that are too short!

So there you have it - my uniform for the summer. Tank top. Skirt or yoga capris. Done. Boring? Maybe. Stacy and Clinton would have a fit, but I'm ok with it ;)

And what am I reading, whilst wearing my functional summer outfits? Why, The Hunger Games trilogy of course. Let me be honest: I shy away from literature with cult-like followings. Refused to read Harry Potter. Wouldn't touch Twilight. I just have a thing about reading what everyone else is reading because I feel like it can't live up to the hype. And fantasy and vampires bore me. So I had no intention of reading The Hunger Games. I read the blurb on the back and it didn't draw me in, so I completely forgot about it. Then one day back in the spring I was giving my boss my diatribe about how I refused to subscribe to the hype, and she literally put a copy in my hands and told me I had to read it. It sat on my bookshelf for months, until I finally picked it up with a roll of my eyes and cracked it open, never thinking I'd finish it, much less blow through the entire trilogy in the blink of an eye. Yeah, couldn't stop. Every available moment I had was spent with my nose buried in those books. I just finished Mockingjay and am now suffering serious withdrawal. I want to start another book, but I'm missing Katniss, Gale, Peeta and even Haymitch too much! So I did what any normal person would do: I Googled what to read after the Hunger Games, when you're suffering withdrawal. So if you're like me and on the hunt for a good read, post-HG, here's what I sniffed out:   

"So you finished the entire Hunger Games trilogy in just 48 hours, existing only on Chinese take-out and your Peeta-loving tears? Congratulations! But not you're stuck in a post-THG depression, craving more dark, dystopian young adult fiction. Is it normal to want to read about angst-y teens fighting oppressive future governments while making out with each other? The answer is YES and I am here to drag you out of the darkness and into the arms of a whole new pile of thick books with giant fonts written for people half your age. Let's read!" -Courtesy of

My intention is not to provide any kind of synopsis on these books (that's what goodreads is for, after all), because they're all the same genre, simply to provide you some possible titles to cure your hankering for more futuristic teen oppression-fighting angst.

Divergent by Veronica Roth
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Matched by Allie Condie
The Mortal Instruments by Cassie Clare
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix*
Running out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix*

*Those last two were recommended to me by the true experts on YA fiction - my teenage next door neighbors :) So go ahead, grab a comfy tank top and an ice cream sandwich and get lost in a book!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

4th of July Photo Dump!

It sounds silly, but I'm always a little sad when the 4th of July is over. As a school counselor, I work right up until the 4th getting my kids set for summer school, reviewing transcripts, closing up shop, etc. So Independence Day for me means the official start of summer, and as soon as it's over, I can feel September creeping up on me.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we? Here's our holiday in pictures:

I know, Sweets' eyes are closed. We tried this shot a number of times and this was the best of the bunch (seeing as the others involved him picking his nose or looking like he was flicking the camera off).

My BFF/Cousin M was in town for the week from DC. We had a rockin' good time :)

Baby's first Sno-Cone! I let him eat this BEFORE lunch. How laid back am I?
(hahahahaha, if you know me, you know I am not laid back at.all)

Well, well, well. Look what my son found. This kid has tractor radar!

Parade + sun + running around = napping in the car. This never happens, and we should have left him there with the AC on because the attempted transfer to a crib did not go well and he ended up running on that 10 minute power nap all day.

Despite the lack of sleep, Sweets was full of funny energy! 
This picture is totally going in his senior year yearbook.

Last stop: the ice cream shack, where Sweets really, really, REALLY enjoyed his kiddie twist!