Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Disneyland Photo Dump

We planned this trip months ago, thinking that poor Averson last went as a baby and is the most perfect age and disposition for DisneyLand. We also thought that with Eli getting to be (so, so very) teenager-y, our window of opportunity was closing. Given that it was likely going to be our last hurrah, and the last couple of years have been...rough, we went all out. We stayed at a Disney hotel, splurged on a couple big experiences, and planned to approach the whole trip with an attitude of YOLO. If you're planning to try a Disney vacation, I HIGHLY recommend using a Disney travel agent (thank you, Danielle!). She made it so, so easy and even gave me some insider tips (like bringing our own backpacks for the droids so we could save some money.) 

Turns out no one is over Disney and Sydney, our most over-everything of all the kids, said on our last night, "I think we might be Disney people?" So now I'm exploring annual passes and matching t-shirts...

Our pool had a water slide and C showed all the other dads up by FLYING down it. A mom asked if he was covered in baby oil, which I think was more of an innuendo than he gave it credit for. 

First ride! The Haunted Mansion, which is my absolute all-time favorite

This was the last time we took the kids to DisneyLand
And on this trip, multiple people mistook Syd for an employee

We planned the trip thinking that this might be the last time Eli would be into it. We were totally wrong and he is ALL IN

The girls built droids in StarWars Land. Eli and C built light sabers and C is still on a high from it. 

This is the face we make when the ride is lamer than we'd hoped AND it gets stopped because someone took off their seatbelt (and by "someone" we later learned that their names rhymed with Schmeli and Bldney)

My brave girl wanted to try the Ferris Wheel and since letting 8 year olds ride with strangers is frowned upon, I ALSO had to be a very brave girl

The only meltdown of the trip happened right after this picture was taken. Art is hard and wrought with emotion

OMG. SO MUCH FOOD. One night we had reservations at Storyteller's Cafe, a fancy buffet dinner, and I off-handedly mentioned to Eli how much each person cost. I don't know if the kids had a staff meeting or what, but they approached that dinner with a work ethic I didn't realize that they had. Averson ran the numbers and by the end of dinner she proclaimed that they had eaten 18 plates of food, not counting dessert plates. There were a lot of dessert plates. YOLO. 

When your teenager asks to take a picture with you, you don't ask questions

Radiator Springs Racers. Note Sydney's vacant look of terror. She spent the entire hour in line reviewing videos on-line to decide whether she wanted to try it or not. Ultimately she went for it, and was happy that she did. My favorite memory of this ride though is Eli freaking out because he didn't have a shoulder belt. I was teasing him and said, "I'm sure this guy [the random biker guy covered in chains that filled the empty seat on the ride] will hold your hand if you're scared." The guy offered his hand and without missing a beat, Eli grabbed it and proclaimed "I'm confident in my sexuality, but less so in my stomach right now" and his new BFF replayed, "Me too, Man. And even less so in my choice to eat a green chile burrito." I nearly died laughing. 

A successful trip should be measured by how long three kids can sit in the backseat without bickering. The drive was seven hours and no one complained, so I think we did alright :) 

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Crafty post: It's been a while

 I think I overdosed on crafting in the early pandemic but we did one last weekend that was 1) super easy and 2) came out SO CUTE. I got the idea originally from a TikTok video (I still don't know how to use it but I do love me some instagram reels so maybe I'm getting closer?)

These came out so well and the final result is something that the girls were really excited about. And just in time for spooky season! We started with plain black cotton t-shirts (3/9.99 at Joann's, BTW). I bought a few packs of holiday foam cutouts and at the last minute threw in a couple of the unfinished wood shapes. I think all told I spent about $10 on shapes and $10 on the shirts. So NOT an expensive project. 

We laid our shirts out on a drop cloth on the driveway. I think you could skip the drop cloth and just put the shirts on the concrete? We laid the shapes on top of the shirts, and then spritzed them with a mix of 50/50 bleach and water. And right before our eyes we watched the black turn orange where the bleach had been sprayed. We played with various amounts of bleach spray (Averson was a little heavy handed, I was more conservative.) Once the bleach dried, which took literal minutes, we moved the shirts to the washing machine and ran a load on its own. 

They're the perfect October shirts and now we're thinking of non-seasonal options like doing jeans (you may recall my sister buying bleach-dyed jeans off the street in San Francisco) or other shape ideas. This, like most crafts in my house, will likely get out of hand. 

A few tips: Less is more. I'd start with light sprays and add. 

Spend a little extra time on shape placement. Sydney tried to "redo" a few sections and was frustrated. 

I really liked how the wood cutout worked. The Halloween cutouts were 50% off when I went and it was totally worth it. Also, we used both big and small foam shapes. I'd use big ones only next time. 

Don't forget the backs if you're going for an all over look! I flipped ours over and did a quick spritz so it didn't look like they'd face planted into bleach. 

Friday, October 1, 2021

Random memories of kindness

 My dad, (who admittedly was the king of planning age-inappropriate activities), became obsessed for a while with the Hearst Castle. He loved the Hearst Castle. He went far more times than is reasonable, and loved to take other people with him.  When we went to visit he wanted to take us and he was just so excited that we couldn't say "no" even though it would be me, my toddler, my infant, and my exceptionally enthusiastic dad.  

I started to realize my mistake as soon as we entered the visitor center. There would be a long bus ride up the hill to the castle, where we would then tour the property, which has been maintained and staged to highlight it's opulence. There were no strollers allowed. But we were here and we were doing this. Sydney was nestled cozily into her sling and Eli was pretty well behaved generally. 

The bus ride was great, as I remember it. There's wild zebras and Eli was riding in a bus. What's not to love? That was the last moment of calm. As soon as we disembarked, we were greeted with dozens of "do not touch" signs. DOZENS. I'm an anxious guest as is, and now I had to manage to keep a three year old from touching gold plated everything while also trying to keep the baby quiet so as not to disturb the rest of the tour. As you can imagine, it did not go well. It was so miserable that I think I truly would have abandoned ship, except that we'd taken a bus. To the top of a mountain. To a castle where no one was allowed to be unescorted. I had no options but to suffer and try to avoid the glares of the other tour members who'd paid a ridiculous amount of money to see the real life version of Gatsby. 

About halfway through, after the 27th dirty look from the tour guide and a near constant refrain of "Please don't touch that. No, it's not real food. No, you can't touch that. Please just put your hands in your pocket. We're almost done", a rogue docent quietly approached me and asked me to follow him. I could have died right there. Not only had I been trying obviously in vain to be inconspicuous, now I was getting kicked out of this tour. 

But no. This kind, kind volunteer ushered us off of the tour and into a huge kitchen behind the scenes. He showed Eli all the fake food that was stored back there and let him touch it all, encouraging him to try to pour out the drinks and crack the eggs. He showed us the wall of ovens and talked about how what it was like when there were parties. He walked us through the ballroom and told us how the volunteers had Christmas parties there, and once a year were allowed to swim in the pool. From there he took us to a garden NOT filled with breakable antique Roman artifacts and showed us the koi pond full of fish. It was amazing. Eli was enthralled. Sydney was quiet because we were actually moving so she was lulled into a nap. I could breathe. And my dad and my step-mom were able to take the tour they'd wanted. 

I'm not sure what made me think about this today, other than lately life has been peppered with small acts of kindness that it seems always mean more to the recipient than to the giver. I'm sure that lovely docent stepped in mostly to avoid disruption of an over-priced tour full of affluence-enthusiasts, but to me it meant enough that it remains a vivid, and fond, memory fifteen years later. 

I tried to find a picture but this was in the age before selfies and I'm sure that there was no way I was juggling both kids AND the camera. So I'll leave you with a few pictures of the cute little disruptors instead

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Strong girls

 I know it's sappy, but this video means so much more to me than just sharing something that I love with my kids. This girl is already so strong, physically and mentally, and the pride she feels when she does something hard, something adults are struggling with, gives me so much joy. It feels like for all the times I screw up this parenting thing, sometimes it works out too.

Like most women my age, my upbringing was riddled by small, benign comments that colored my relationship with food and my body. It's the benign part that makes me so nervous about raising two girls who will definitely be sturdy but likely will never be described as lithe or willowy. It's just so easy to misstep. My dad sent me off to a birthday party when I was in third grade with an off-handed comment to not eat too much cake so I wouldn't get fat. The class mom then brought me a fruit platter to every class party for the next three years. I think she thought that I was diabetic maybe? I remember being eleven and having a well-intentioned teacher point out my hips during a talk on development. What if I hadn't incorporated that message as "you have something that makes you different" and instead had been told "you have really strong muscles"? What if I had known food as fuel instead of as a necessary evil to be constantly monitored and managed? What if strength and health and ability were the focus, instead of size and comparability? What if, instead of trying to achieve the literally unachievable, we focused on what makes us awesome? 

I hope that giving her this, which admittedly she may decide to hate two weeks from now, will help to temper all those missteps that I've likely already made. I hope that she continues to be frustrated that there aren't weights on her bar (literally or figuratively) and know that she controls her progress. I hope she gets comfortable acknowledging both her strengths and areas that she's not strong in, so that she feels confident in asking for help. I hope when she looks in the mirror, she sees the same strong, capable girl that I see watching this video. 

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Endless Summer


You guys? We are living an endless summer and I am NOT okay with it. I was GIDDY when the forecast for last weekend was 77 degrees and had such big plans for a cozy day, which was stupid because 77 is still shorts weather and I missed my window to wear a hoodie to soccer in the morning because it has been summer for the last 8 thousand years and I'm out of practice. By the time I thought about any reasonable cozy accoutrements, it was hot and sunny and beautiful out again. I had planned to make soup for dinner. Like, put a lot of thought into what would be the "first soup of the season" (FYI: it was between chili, sopa fideo from Not the Worst Mom, or Superfoods soup). But then it was close to 80 and soup seemed silly, so we had tacos. AGAIN. On Monday I sent Averson to school with a sweatshirt and we literally clapped with joy. 

I was tempted just to crank the AC to fake fall, but then the electric bill showed up and our stupid pool cost us more than a car payment. BECAUSE IT'S HOT AND ALWAYS WILL BE AND THERE'S NOTHING TO DO BUT SWIM IN THE DUMB POOL. Life is hard, guys. 

I want soup and rain and to sit on the couch reading a book under a blanket. I'm gazing longingly at my sweater shelf every morning and my joggers every night, while I make do with breathable blouses and shorts. Any time I turn on the AC in my car, I mutter swear words under my breath. 

Send cooling thoughts. And rain. 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Free therapy from a stranger

I make it a rule never to work for free, but I’m going to throw these out here. Over the course of the week, I’m finding that I say the same things many times. If it’s coming up that many times in my little corner of the world, it occurs to me that there might be a lot (or 2) more people who could use to hear it. 

1) The world is really hard right now. If you’re finding yourself exhausted, distracted, or more emotionally raw than usual, it’s possible that it’s because you are continuing to function while the world is literally and figuratively burning around you. 

2) Kids are jerks. And they’re honest and sometimes they’re mean. It’s not personal and it doesn’t mean you’re failing as a parent. In fact, if they’re being jerks it usually means that they feel secure enough to know you won’t reject them. It’s also okay to stick them in front of a screen so you can have two fucking minutes of peace sometimes. 

3) Prioritize rest. We’re not as complicated as we think we are. You need sleep. I promise. 

4) Take the shortcuts. No one can do all the things. Do the things you care most about half-ass what you can. I realized that no one died if I let the family figure out their own dinner a couple nights a week and it’s freed up so much emotional energy. Get the groceries delivered, skip being Team Mom, cut yourself some slack. 

5) Every day is a chance to reset, and every day is only 24 hours long. If today was a dumpster fire it’ll be over soon and the sun will rise on a new day tomorrow. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Practicing an attitude of gratitude

 Blergh. Even just writing that made me throw up a little in my mouth. 

I'm not doing great this week. I mean, I'm fine, we're fine, everything's fine, but I'm not especially excited or happy. And I'm being whiny. The world is on fire, both literally and figuratively. The California wildfires are terrible and closer than we like (they won't reach us city folk, but still.) The smoke is awful, and with COVID you get the added "Does my throat hurt because the AQI is literally 500, or because I have COVID?" One of my children (who shall remain nameless because I am kinder and more benevolent than they probably deserve) has been especially capricious lately. And while I can appreciate that children take out their vitriol on the safest attachment they have, much more of this and I'll have bitten a hole right through my tongue. I'm sick of making food (and planning food and buying food and basically anything having to do with meals) and yet, for some reason, all these people still expect to eat regularly. My job is fine, but it's not particularly fun or exciting. That was the trade off for stress and burnout, but... And a whole host of other things that I feel a little weird about putting out on the internet, and that individually aren't huge life-changing problems but cumulatively? It's just a lot. 

And yet. There are things that I'm grateful for. I went through my phone looking for pictures to post and I was reminded that in the midst of the fire, there are small pockets of joy and fun and peace. So I'm posting this as a reminder to have an attitude of gratitude (ugh. It happened again. I need a better phrase.) 

Things that don't suck:

Free school lunches: The kids eat the school lunch. It's been SO NICE to not have to pack (and plan and buy ingredients and remember) lunch everyday. We had a shift in our drop-off system so Averson eats breakfast at school too. It's nice to have that emotional labor taken off my plate (ha!) and if the kids don't like what's on the menu they are welcome to make their own lunch. Which none of them have done yet, even on nacho pretzel pocket day. 

Snapchat filters on my dog:

Need I say more?

Video Games: C and I have been trying to buy a PS5 FOR-EVER. It's been impossible, and we basically gave up. Then randomly one day last week my brother texted "Are you guys still looking for a playstation?" and forwarded me the Treasure Truck text. I clicked the link, added to cart, and three days later I had a very, very happy husband

Teenagers with jobs: Eli has his first job and it's so awesome. He loves it, and regularly tells me what it's like working in food service. I keep reminding him that I waited tables for years, but maybe the entire industry has changed? It's fun to see him excited, and he's so well suited for customer service. People love him

Middle School: This girl. She was so nervous about middle school and has totally blossomed. She's got friends and routines and it's just so fun. Also, beer. 

Ridiculous games and television: Right now I'm big on Kingdomino and Schmigadoon

The gym: I still love it so so much. And the girls are starting to be interested too! Our class was really small last week so my favorite coach (who's leaving at the end of the week :( ) let Averson join. Here she is sumo deadlifting a kettlebell like a beast. I love that she loves it and I hope that the girls take away from it all the amazing things that their bodies can do besides fit in clothes. It's a nice lesson, and even better if it doesn't take 40 years. 

Tell me what doesn't suck in your life right now, or if you have a better way to phrase focusing on the not-suck. Because as a shrink I should be able to say that without gagging

Thursday, August 12, 2021

First day of school!

It's happening! All three kids left for real life, all day, no Chromebooks in sight school today. I have feelings, given the political climate of our area and the huge surge of the Delta variant, but I'm trusting that the kids are good mask-wearers and that the schools are enforcing all the mandates. 

This year we have three kids at three different schools. Averson is in third grade, Sydney started middle school (with her Dad), and Eli is a sophomore. It was weird to drop Avery off all on her own, and made her seem suddenly so much older. But then she was 100% judgey about all the kids getting walked to their classrooms and practically leapt from the car, so maybe she's ready to be more independent. 

I noticed when I took the picture that they all matched, but didn't say anything because I didn't want to break the magic of a relatively stress-free morning. Averson told me later that they did it on purpose, and then my heart exploded. 

Let the chaos begin! 

Monday, August 9, 2021

We went to Vegas and survived

 OMG. I was looking for inspiration on what to write about (the struggle is real, y'all. Any good tips?) and I realized that I never wrote about our Vegas trip! I think it was because we came back to the Delta variant and in hindsight it seemed like maybe not the best decision we've ever made. But now we're ten days out and symptom-free, so I can confidently document it. Honestly, it wasn't terrible. Masks were required indoors by everyone and provided at every entrance. Most people were pretty conscientious about it, and the crowds were WAY smaller than usual. 

We planned this trip to celebrate my friend's 40th, and all the 40ths that were under-celebrated during the pandemic. It was three couples: us, our friends, and her brother and his wife. We knew we were going to a fancy steakhouse, but other than that we had no agenda. 

C and I don't take a lot of trips sans kids. I think this was maybe the third since Eli was born? The kids were thrilled to be on their own with my mom, who has made it her mission to be as bad of an influence as humanly possible whenever she can. 

We had a blast, and it was so fun to hang out with C without all of the adult-y/parent-y negotiation that usually colors our time together. The last time we went together, it was for my 21st birthday, with my dad, so there were not a lot of shenanigans. It was nice to go as adults with a sense of reasonable shenanigans and a little bit of disposable income.

 In true Vegas fashion, I didn't take a ton of pictures, so here's a Vegas retrospective in the medium of selfie. 

Taking ridiculous pictures in a ridiculous lounge where C's ridiculously priced drink tasted like liquid smoke. 

I don't know what's wrong with my eye, but I think this picture was taken very, very late in the evening

Shameless thirst trap. I have no regrets. 

I love this dress SO much and found it on Amazon, of all places. I loved it so much that I got dressed way to early and had to casually lounge in the room waiting for everyone else to get dressed. 

That face is equal parts cute kissy face and excitement that we're finally heading out :)