October 2, 2013

Why We Love Disney

We love Disney. It's pretty obvious to anyone who knows us for any amount of time that it's our favorite vacation destination. Most of our friends accept it, many even share our Disney obsession joy but still from time to time we're asked why we go to Disney World...or rather why do we go repeatedly. Our answer is always a little lost on those who have never been or those who have only gone in the middle of summer with little to no planning. The answer is simple...it's the atmosphere. We love the Disney bubble. 

I could go into the nerdy details about the park's architectural engineering and how Disney has made it almost impossible to see the outside world while in their bubble but it's more than geographic. Where else in the world can kids dress up every day as pirates and princesses? Where else do grown men wear R2D2 ears with pride?

But it's even more than that. It's the culture. It's the customer service. And it goes beyond the parks. While at Disney World last week with his grandparents, our son lost his Woody doll (from Toy Story). It was a BIG deal. It's been his favorite toy for quite some time and when they realized it was gone, after landing at the airport near Grandma's house, he teared up. He's not the kind of kid to cry easily or be attached to his stuff. In fact, we usually have to convince him NOT to give away his things but Woody is different and when Grandma tried to comfort him by suggesting they go straight to the Disney Store, his heart and the dam holding back his tears broke. He didn't want a new Woody. He wanted HIS Woody. So Grandma called her local Disney Store and told them what had happened. The cast member (Disney's word for employee) told her not to worry, he would call Mickey and they would have the Disney Resort housekeepers (called Mousekeepers) find Woody and send him to their store immediately. When they got to the store, not only was there a Woody waiting behind the counter for our son (tags off) but he was wrapped up in a box with tape and "RUSH DELIVERY/PRIORITY MAIL" written all over it. Inside a note from Mickey himself that told our son Woody had been accidentally caught up in the sheets and had been cleaned professionally. 

That is why we love Disney. They go above and beyond and magical things happen.

September 30, 2013

Becoming a Big Girl

I've had a great time the last week and half with the Princess while the boy's been on vacation with his grandparents. One of my favorite outings with the Princess was when we went to the Botanical Gardens for some pictures with her new kitty cat fascinator (we found it at Claire's) and her Marie dress.

She's a fun one but don't let the cuteness fool you, she's a handful. We've made some big steps to getting her ready to be a big sister. Some of those big steps have come with growing pains. Potty training was attempted and abandoned-we'll try again in a couple months. Her big girl bed has been set up and she's accepted it...for the most part. Every once in a while she'll still try to insist on sleeping in the crib but buying her new Minnie Mouse bedding went a long way to convincing her that the big bed is the way to go. Lastly, time outs are now a regular thing...it probably sounds odd to throw that in with potty training and a real bed but in our house, discipline is viewed as a good thing. She's old enough to be corrected, to be held accountable and to grow as a person. It's not easy or fun for any of us...today a two minute time out for putting clothes from the hamper into the toilet turned into a 20 minute time out because until she sat on the step for two minutes without getting up or playing, her time kept resarting. But in the end, she did it and more importantly, she apologized. The icing on the cake was when I asked if she would make good choices, her answer was a loud "yes, ma'am" instead of the quiet mouthing of the words she's tried to get away with in the past. She's independent and bold and I wouldn't change that for anything but she's also going to be respectful and kind even if it takes us 20 minutes to do a two minute time out. Meanwhile, I'm hoping the blue dye we have in the toilet water comes out of the clothes she dumped.

September 27, 2013

I'm Back...again.

I'm probably the worst blogger ever when it comes to unexplained blogging sabbaticals. I haven't written since JULY! How crazy is that?! Here's the thing, stuff happened. I probably won't go into great detail on all the "stuff" but I'm back and here's a quick run down of what we've been up to...

*Most importantly, I'm still pregnant. We had a couple complications  (given my history, no real surprises there) but everything is going well now and I'm already huge which is good...mostly. 

*Joshua has a new civi job...this one takes a little explanation. His old civi job fired him. Yup. Fired. He's never been fired before and despite the fact that they always gave him glowing reviews and he's never had a complaint, they fired him...basically, they were tired of having to work around his Guard schedule and responsibilities so when he came back from his two week AT, they let him go. I wasn't surprised because they've been anti-military since day one but I was angry and if I think about it too much now, I'm still angry...but I'm also grateful. He hated that place. They were HORRIBLE. Not everyone who worked there of course but yeah, horrible is the only word for it. Just to give you an idea of the atmosphere, before he deployed they were interviewing people for an open position and he overheard one of the managers say that there was "no chance in hell we're hiring that guy-he's another Guard guy and that's the last thing we need." Then, when Joshua returned from deployment, several of his co-workers thought it was funny to surprise him with loud noises just to see if they could make him jump. Classy, right?! Anyway, I say I'm grateful because his new job is better. I mean it's not hard to be better than his old job but it's WAY better. Like God did an awesome thing better. The hours are a little odd but we're good with odd and he enjoys the work.

*We've started with our new homeschool group and curriculum-Classical Conversations if you're interested. It couldn't be going better. I'm tutoring the 4/5 yr old class which has been a blast and the boy is amazing us with how much he's learning. Actually, our little 2 yr old princess is even trying to get in on the action sometimes.
(1st day of CC-our homeschool group which meets once a week and our 1st day of homeschool at home-yup, in pjs)

(our favorite project this semester...we created a multi-level eco-system...I plan to write a post with more details to come but if you want to build one yourself, you can find the step-by-step tutorial we followed here)

*I was asked to be a pattern tester for a new "ruffle top" which I loved making but unfortunately in the process my sewing machine died :( so now I'm at a bit of a standstill when it comes to sewing.
(here's the finished project...once the pattern is available for purchase, I'll post a link to it)

*The boy is, at this very moment, on vacation with his grandparents at Disney World. I'm jealous. I'm really jealous. But I'm also really pregnant and on travel restrictions...kinda going crazy with cabin fever. I have, however, enjoyed the one-on-one time with our princess. We switched some of the kids furniture around in preparation for Baby 3.0 so now the princess is in a big girl bed and loving it-still waiting to find out the gender but Joshua's trying to convince me not to wait so we'll see if that changes.

That's been us the last couple of months. I plan on spending the next week reading all the blogs I love and have been missing to get caught up on your lives!

PS>I just got a pic from Grandma of our little man and a couple of his cousins at Disney World's Pirate's League...so wish I was with him!

July 17, 2013

A Heart-Wrenching Good Day

Two years ago tomorrow I was in a hospital in Oklahoma with my mom while my husband skyped from Afghanistan for our daughter’s delivery.

It’s been on my mind a lot this week. In part, of course, because our baby girl is turning two but also because Joshua is once again-thanks to the Army, out of town. He’s not deployed-it’s just a short (anything less than a month is considered short in my book) training separation but he’s still gone. He’s going to miss her birthday and being pregnant again (read: super hormonal), I can’t help but remember the overwhelming feelings of that day two years ago.

I say overwhelming because even now, two years later, I don’t have any other words. I don’t know if there even is a word to describe that sort of emotion. When we first found out I was pregnant, we knew he was going to deploy “soon” but with the Army soon is relative. For a short time, we believed he would still be stateside and would be able to be home for the delivery. Then, the deployment dates changed-or at least our understanding of them changed. Lastly, we were told he would have the option, if we chose, to come home for his R&R during the delivery. It was an agonizing decision. If we had him come home, most of his time would be spent with me and our baby at the hospital and relatively little with our son. Plus, we’d see him for two weeks and not again for over nine months.

We made the “logical” decision. He missed the birth and met us two months later in Florida where our son would have fun even if Daddy was engulfed with the baby. It was the best thing for our son. Daddy didn’t come home and leave again. Daddy wasn’t spending all his time with the baby.

But the logical decision didn’t mean so much when I was alone in the hospital with a newborn. It was  hallow for the next two months as I thought about the worst case scenario…desperately hoping, even praying that if something was going to happen, let it be after R&R-let it be after they met. Morbid, maybe but it was my prayer.

Her birth was the most emotional day of my life. More than when Joshua returned. More than the day I got married. More than when our son was born and I became a mom.

It was a heart-wrenching, good day.

July 12, 2013

Surprise Announcement!

The reason for my frequent absence lately...

To say this pregnancy came as a surprise would be a MASSIVE understatement but after 12 weeks, 4 ultrasounds, 15 blood draws and a visit to the cardiologist (one I actually like-shocking in and of itself), looks like this one is in it for the long haul.

As shocked as we were...still are...we're also very excited! The boy couldn't be happier and the girl has really no clue.

June 27, 2013

San Antonio Fun: SeaWorld & The Alamo

We're home from a long weekend/mini-vaca to San Antonio. It was a really good time but it's been a bit chaotic to get back into the swing of things.

Originally, we decided to go because SeaWorld is offering their one day free military passes-which we had used at the Orlando SeaWorld two years ago while we were at Disney. As summer got closer, it became more clear that we were going to run out of weekends so we had to start combining a couple things. Our boy turned FIVE last Sunday and he loved when we went to the Orlando SeaWorld so it was an obvious mash-up. 

We were SO thrilled that some of our son's favorite friends managed to make the trip with us. First, the L family...mom, dad (Air National Guard) and their three boys carpooled with us from Oklahoma. And then, just before the trip, my oldest friend and her family (her hubby and 2 yr old daughter) decided to drive up from Houston. 

We all had a blast at the hotel...swimming, pizza, cake...what could be better?!
(we hadn't even unpacked before they wanted to head to the pool)

The next morning we were up and ready to hit SeaWorld with the L family. We had a great time but if I were entirely honest, I would say we enjoyed SeaWorld in Orlando more. The Orlando park seemed cleaner more themed-but I'm sure having to compete with Universal and Disney have some influence on that.

We saw some shows...

Rode some rides...

Had a dolphin experience...

And got really wet!

(not all of us were thrilled about the getting wet part...this was our princess just after the Shamu show soaked her)

By the end of the day, we were all wiped out! Getting to the hotel, taking showers and getting to bed seemed at the time to be monumental tasks but we did it and we all slept really well that night.

The next morning, the boys went swimming again (our princess isn't much of a fan of the water) while I packed us up. We checked out and headed to our (sort of) last stop...The Alamo.

(on the door to the Shrine)

(a plaque on the ground in front of The Alamo Shrine)

Joshua and I are history nerds and had a great time. For the record, we absolutely recommend stopping by if you get the chance...The Alamo itself is free. You pay for parking and there are paid tour guides or audio tours available but we feel that we got just as much out of just talking to one of the employees (Amelia) than we could have with a tour...plus we had the freedom to move at our own pace...or rather our children's pace.

As I said, The Alamo was supposed to be our last stop but as we headed out of town back toward Oklahoma, we stumbled upon a Tanger Outlet Mall...two hours and more money than I should have spent later, we were officially on the road again. It was a great weekend, a memorable birthday and a fantastic time with good friends.

June 17, 2013

Our Minivan Weekend

Father's Day weekend brought an unexpected adventure. We had a minivan...more accurately we "tested out" a minivan. For a couple of months now, we've been discussing the possibility of selling my Suburban. For the record, I love my Suburban but it's big-possibly unnecessarily big. And more importantly, let's face it, minivans get better fuel economy than SUVs and saving money would be nice. So, with a little humility, we borrowed a minivan from the dealership in town and went about our regularly scheduled weekend.

The minivan itself was a Dodge Caravan...we have friends who own a Honda Odyssey and other friends who own a Nissan Quest. I'm a little crazy when it comes to researching things so it was kind of nice to get the various perspectives. Overall, our friends seem to get about 22 mpg (on average) and that was almost exactly what we were able to get with the Caravan (I think it ended up closer to 23 by the end of the weekend but still in the same range). 

To be honest, I wasn't impressed. The captains chairs in the middle row were nice-no bench to climb over, but I have the quad captains chairs in my Suburban too so that one's kind of a wash. The doors opening with the click of a button pretty much define awesome but that's sort of where the awesome ended for me. I usually average 18 mpg with my Suburan-which, I have learned, is a little high for a Suburban but my husband is always on top of it...fuel additives and oil changes and blah, blah, blah...I usually tune out after he says something mechanical and just wait to hear when he's taking it and I have to use his car. Also, my Suburban has TONS more storage room. I can tow more than just an itty bitty trailer with it. And, I can drive it in more difficult situations than a minivan could attempt (ie-out at the farm when we want to go fishing or shooting).

Although it would end up saving us some money in fuel costs, it's just not worth it to give up the space, towing and off-road capability (and general awesomeness) of my Suburban. By the end of the weekend...actually by Saturday night, Joshua had announced he was vetoing any further discussion of buying the "bloated car."

Disclaimer: Please don't take this post as an attack on minivans or anyone who drives them...they're just not for us but we know, love and respect many friends who love their minivans.