blink

On a daily basis I am reminded of the "blink and it's over" of it all. Each day I spend time with someone who touches my soul, who says something poetic as if they are speaking directly to my heart. I hear warnings in their stories, memos to go home, and soak it all in. The time between my arrival home to complete paperwork and steve's with the kids is the calm before the storm, full of anxiety and anticipation. Finish that note. Make that phone call. Get dinner on the stove. Change the laundry. Get changed out of your work clothes if you value their cleanliness. And then they come racing in the house and it's almost as if the temperature changes. Sometimes there are tears, usually there are, and I am not sure why, but with one on each knee, heads on my shoulders, they calm and quiet and our evening begins. It's fast and chaotic and when we finally release them to the playroom after dinner is cleaned up and lunches are packed, they attack their playthings. They make messes I will have to clean up and I know from my patients that there will come a time all too soon that they will eat dinner and retreat to their bedrooms, behind closed doors. I will be forced to knock and interrupt their angsty teen evening to get a glimpse of them. I'll be left with just memories of this crazy time and when I think if that I think of my parents, their two person household, with two empty bedrooms, a well-worn family room left empty, with faint shadows of evenings spent with popcorn and the Olympic figure skating coverage.

I watch daughters care for parents and wonder what I would do if I was needed at home, 90 minutes away. I sit with lonely souls whose family they have lost connections with or cannot count on to help and I wonder what could possibly be more important that being here as this person's last bit of sand slowly runs through the glass. I try not to think about a time when I might need to be caregiver, but in this business it is hard not to. In my head I always reassure myself, we have a fourth bedroom, we have a bathroom on the lower level, it would be ok. Then I always think 90 minutes is not too far. There is no question in my mind that if I was needed, for anything, I would be there. The social worker that might be sitting across my own family would not have to ask, where is your daughter?

This work keeps me grounded in a way that would not be possible with another profession. Maybe it would be better to not consider the future so much, maybe it would be better left as something to deal with if and when it happens, but I like my daily reminders. I like hearing from patients that they are looking forward to being reunited with their spouse in heaven, that they know they are preparing a room for them, and that it will all be ok. I like hearing from patients that looking back, say they would not change a single thing, that they had a life well-lived. My heart breaks for those who have no faith, or who see only our staff, and especially for those who cannot accept the circumstances of their illness.

Each night I carry all of this home with me in my work bag, I gaze upon it as I finish my work, I breathe it in as I watch the kids play, Connor kicking a ball over and over again, and I glance at it over my shoulder when I carry Caroline upstairs for bed. It's presence in my life does not overshadow the present, but it's there, reminding me to soak it in, to not will it away, even the crazy, even the hard. It won't be long before it is all gone.

More texts from Disney

Again, I'm green, steve is white

Texts from Disney

I'm green, steve is white

and the videos continue

because WHY NOT?

I took the music out of Part II and made it a bit longer because the kids say some cute things and you couldn't hear it. I'm pretty much just putting it here so I have it in the blog, not to force it down your throat again... though a few seconds in Connor will SLAY you with his cuteness



Characters we met along the way. Steve had to do some fancy work solo with Tink and Rosetta over in the fairy area.



Special Time with Aurora and Cinderella



Chef Mickey's Breakfast



Saying Goodbye

allow me to make you smile on this depressing rainy afternoon

I dare you to watch this and not smile at least once! Double Dare, Triple Stamp it, no take backsies.

Sure, the camera work is shoddy, there are moments where we are sprinting along and you might get a wee bit sea sick, but it's magical. I tried extra hard to capture the kids' expressions, so there is some camera flippery that is annoying and I DON'T CARE.

Here is just a little taste of our trip.

My own personal favorite moments - Caroline dancing outside the gates to Magic Kingdom, Steve and Caroline on Dumbo, the shaky castle shot (we were cutting it close for breakfast with the princesses and didn't want to keep them waiting), Caroline during Fantasmic, and me needing to "Wow!" all the fireworks at Illuminations while Connor frantically Maggie Simpson'd his paci because the lights, the booms, it was all just too much.

I hemmed and hawed on the music. Not only will it get a big GOLD star from Uncle Marc, but I think it sums up how all parents feel taking their kids somewhere so magical, so full of excitement, you just don't want them to stop believing.



and because I was on a roll...







Fantasmic

Meeting Mickey

Steve is so sick of listening to my editing process with all the videos from our trip. I had hoped to have a really sweet montage prepared for the end of this week, but 168 videos is a tall order. It will happen, I just need more time. I've never put together a video montage before and my learning curve appears to be quite severe.

In the end, I'm making not one montage, but at least two or three. I cannot bring myself to edit the character's in character banter out.

For starters, here is the main event - the mouse and his lady friend.

revisiting

I recently revisited this and I want to try to attack this list with absolute gusto.

101 in 1001

I updated it with things that silently got checked off without note and I smiled thinking of accomplishing these things in the next year or so. There are some seriously amazing things on this list and I feel it is 100% doable. I'm making a committment to check on the list more often, as a way to be sure I finish it, but moreso to be sure that I keep family life as interesting and fulfilling as possible. Apple picking next week could potentially check off that "apple pie from scratch" item. Langham Chocolate Bar? um, YES PLEASE! Caroline will technically only qualify as free for a few more months and I refuse to let that one pass us by. We are more than halfway through teaching Caroline to spell her last name. Helping them raise money for something that is important to them. I think that would be a really amazing thing to tackle this holiday season and with that I already have a new holiday tradition to organize.

We knew he was tall

Connor had his 18 month physical this week and I was shocked to see he stayed right on his weight curve and scooted way up on his height, all the way to 90%. This we did not know. No wonder those 18 month pants fit his waist, but not his legs.

He was declared perfect, right down to those pesky ears. I was able to proudly share the skyrocketing vocabulary, his parroting of everything we say, and he was an eager participant in name that body part. He bravely took a shot to each arm and when I later told Steve about his bravery, he pointed to the sticker on his shirt, such comprehension, such a... Big boy.

The Doc asked me if he could throw a ball, catch a ball, kick. Laugh with me will you? I told her that he would happily kick or throw a ball for 20+ minutes, I have kept track on the clock because it just seems like the game never ends and for a kid his age isn't that a ridiculous amount of attention to one single thing?? He just loves it. I know most boys do, but we can't help but think we have a little athlete brewing here, who holds his hockey stick the proper way without instruction, who instinctively holds a bat on his shoulder and turns to the side to hit a tossed ball. It's mind-blowing to me because I lack most athletic ability, have you seen me run?

We signed Caroline up for an instructional "learn to hockey" in town. She needs pads, a stick, a mouthguard and I can't help but gulp. The girl who vascillates between ballet and hockey. She expressed interest with gusto and having no experience with sports for my kids yet, I'm not sure what to expect. She is the my emotional one, the one more apt to get frustrated, but we know from her learn to skate last spring that this girl has tenacity and a desire to do and I have confidence that this will be a good experience for her. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I am pleased as punch that her little brother can't play yet.

Here is where I admit something publicly that I might not even say out loud to a friend. My brother, uncle bubba, was a natural athlete, heck he probably still is. He could play anything and everything and he was so good at it. I worked my little tush off to hit corner shots in field hockey for a few seasons. It didn't come as naturally to me, I was the dancer, the graceful one. I want to give Caroline the opportunity to do these sports before Connor. I want her to feel confident in her abilities before he has the chance to skate right past her. I might be wrong, she might be a natural herself, lord knows she proved me wrong with skating lessons. She fell and fell and fell and got right back up time and time again. I don't know. Does that make sense? I want them to both have the opportunities in their own time, with no comparisons, but is that possible? I haven't enrolled her in dance yet, I'm holding back, I want her to try sports first, make a long commitment to a year long dance program later if she still expresses an interest. There is just something about a team sport, the sum of individual efforts, that seems more important right now. I want her to have success in this arena before Connor cannot be held back for a moment more from charging the ice. I want her to be able to show him how to lift shots into the corner of the net, or if she follows in papa's footsteps, how to defend that goal to the death, fearless.

I'm excited for her, but keenly aware that the other one is not far behind.

and there were princessess

I've been itchy to write this up, but distracted by a sweet free 8x8 photo book coupon from Shutterfly, which seriously could not have been timed better. My mission the last few nights has been to somehow manage to fit 200 photos on 20 pages of Shutterfly layouts. Mission accomplished. Free photo book awaiting review by my other half.

I'm sure the interwebs have been waiting with baited breath for my review of our trip to Disney. The details can be found among several dozen facebook and twitter updates. It can be summed up as follows, "We flew, we chewed, we rode, we met, we signed, we ate some more, we smiled, we napped, we swam, we can't wait to do it again."

Going to Walt Disney World with two children under the age of 5 might sound like a very special kind of torture to some people. I assure you, it was not. There was plenty of challenge, oodles of altering "the plan," a shake here and there of "this is so not how I thought this would be," and a smattering of the most absolutely amazing thing you can do for two kids that truly believe that the four foot tall person they are meeting is really honest to God Mickey Mouse.

I've breezed through most of the Flip videos and so many of them make me laugh or tear up because the magic is so alive in so much of that tape. My daughter could meet Ariel on day 1 and not realize that she didn't look exactly the same that afternoon in the parade or a few days later as she looked over a railing with her to see if Flounder was swimming in the Adventureland river. The same characters signed her book time and again and it did not matter one single bit to her. The highlight of her entire trip was day one at the Magic Kingdom where she met Cindy, Aurora, Ariel, Snow White and Belle at Cinderella's Royal Table.

This trip was clearly a "character seek and find." Things at WDW were ranked as follows:

1. PRINCESSES
2. Characters
3. Shows (Voyage of Little Mermaid, Monster Laugh Floor, Mickey's Philharmagic)
4. Parades
5. Fireworks
6. Ice Cream
7. Rides and Attractions

This totally blew my mind. Granted I am quite certain that a great deal of this had to do with our serious mistep on day one when Steve convinced me one ride in that Snow White was a good idea. Do not make this error in judgement. Dark rides for the rest of the day, even Winnie the Pooh with his cute butt stuck in a hole trying to get honey were tough thanks to that one short dark "dream sequence." I'm almost positive she thought that mean ol' queen was hiding behind every corner. Peter Pan, long a favorite of mine, was also too dark and yeah, to say I was upset about Snow White is the biggest understatement ever to be uttered. Moving on (but clearly not because a week later I am still upset about it).

Caroline rode Thunder Mountain twice, fearless. She shrugged her shoulders, no big deal, at Test Track. Girl could have tackled Space Mountain had it not been, you know, dark! Maybe in a couple years she will be more into the thrills? Maybe not.

For Caroline this visit was all about the characters. She wanted their name in her book as soon as she caught sight of them... until it was her turn and she would instantly hide behind her hands and need a parent to help her approach Donald or Chip or even her beloved Ariel.

I'll say this, for what really was our first official family vacation, this was a total and utterly amazing experience. Our kids spend so much time at their beloved beach, where everything they need in their everyday life is at their fingertips and they are surrounded by people they know and the rules still seem to apply to daily living. They did not know what to do with this Florida thing. For one to have never flown before and one to have no memory of her first flight, they did alarmingly well and as far as getting used to their surroundings, well, that left a bit to be desired. I have never been sassed more, pffftttth'd more, or as shocked at surprisingly 'not my kids" behavior. It was comforting to see that every other parent of young children was also dealing with sass and frass and some weren't coping as well as we were. I don't want to make it out that Caroline and Connor were terrors, because they were far from it, they just weren't themselves. They have no reference point for travel and vacation. What to do with all.this.excited.energy.OMGisthatAurora!?!

I think Steve and I can agree that doing this, despite the kids being so young, was a great decision. Yes, these memories will be mostly ours to carry for Caro and Con, but I know that when I look back on our family life, maybe as we drop one of them off at college someday, I will forever picture us four on the teacups, spinning around together, smiling, laughing, being us. Us four. Our little team. I will never shake the image of my daughter's face, her hand waving, to the princesses during Fantasmic. or the way she looked when Ariel was announced into breakfast and she followed her with an adoring gaze across the room. (I have it on film, wait until you see THAT!) I can see her hands up on Dumbo, "I'm flying!" I still shake my head in disbelief that the boy who feared the Hoop de doo review with every fiber of his being, stood in absolute awe of the German Band the following night... dancing. With the help of two pretty awesome wonderful people in my cousin Vic and his spectacular lady Julie, this trip will be something our family will cherish forever. Nothing can replace it. There is no way to appropriately thank them for all that they did to make this trip so special. "Vic, Julie and our friend's Dad." I know to them this was no big deal, but it was. It really, really was.

It will never be as magical as it was this time. It will never be as challenging to recover from. We didn't ride everything. We didn't see everything. We did just enough, of exactly what the kids wanted to do, and if you have a boy or girl approaching 5, you better get there yourself. Remove all expectations. Let your kids lead you. Get a Dole Whip before the parade, eat a Mickey Bar for me, stand on the bridge while 2 people eat 4 popsicles watching the Splash Mountain cars go over the drop, stand in line for 40 minutes to meet Tinkerbell, GO TO PRINCESS BREAKFAST, and above all, hold your kids hand and watch it all through their eyes.

Tuesday

Chef Mickey's and Travel back to MA day. Mickey waffles.

The last day was the first day Connor was brave enough to face the characters, high fives all around.















Monday, 9/12

The day we packed in as much as we possibly could. Holyywood Studios and Magic Kingdom.


Playhouse Disney.


Toy Stroy Mania.

Carpets of Aladdin, back to MK.

"Opsicles" and some sass

Fun with Ariel

a parade

tea cups

prime parade viewing

forego the fireworks? only for this...