Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jack-o-Lantern Time


I've been underwhelmed with my ability to post pictures and stories after my so-called renewed commitment to the blog. Although I started out wanting to make a timeline of the day-to-day activities and events of my kids, that's just not going to happen. I've decided to randomly post pictures when I get time and write about what memories I have of them. Bear with me.


The Sunday before Halloween we had people over to carve pumpkins, a tradition that was started back when Joe and I were living together and Kevin and Erin would come over to make jack-o-lanterns that we would then place out on our balcony...and then forget about until they decomposed and we'd play rock/paper/scissors to see who had to clean it up. Good times. And oh-so-long ago!


Meredith has a Disney princess book of patterns to use for carving pumpkins. They are not easy, but the tools that come with it make it somewhat doable for an adult. That's what we're doing here, carving out Merida from the movie "Brave."


Charlie, at 7 years old, is about the right age to handle the cutting, scooping, and carving on his own. The younger ones lost focus pretty quickly


I get frustrated with Blogger because I don't have the ability to edit these pictures, particularly I don't get to change the direction of this shot of Charlie and his pumpkin. He did a great job and was proud of his carving without the aid of a stencil. It was a lion that looked great with a candle inside!


As with most great things we are in possession of, this jeep is a hand-me-down that recently was given to Mere. In its first life, it was a Barbie jeep, but was passed down to a family of boys who spray-painted over the pink and purple with red and black. Years later, it's a mix of all sorts of colors and there are plenty of kids at our house to continue the fun of riding in it.


These girls just don't see enough of each other. Gracie and Meredith started Kindergarten this year and Maggie is in Preschool. They all wish they were still in Isle of Palms, living down the hall from each other.


The finished jack-o-lanterns, complete with flying baby in the background. Ellie was dressed in her Labyrinth-style "Babe with the Power" striped outfit.


I already told you that Meredith had a Merida pumpkin, and Charlie carved a lion. Benny used a stencil to create a really sweet skull with flames that looked awesome that night but quickly caved in on itself due the the thin lines of pumpkin flesh. Louie, no surprise to anyone, did a baseball-themed pumpkin and carved a Yankee pinstriped jersey with the number two emblazoned on it for the retiring Mr. Jeter. 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Stubbing

I over-think stuff. Every. Little. Thing. I cannot think of a situation where I don't analyze it to death. And that's what happened when I first started teaching. I wanted to get every little bit of the teaching process, the school day right and when it didn't go as well as I had hoped I was devastated. I felt like a failure. A fraud. I remember getting advice from a guy who started teaching a few years before me. I envied his laid back nature and his easy way with the kids. He didn't have the outgoing-Robin Williams-type teacher personality, but how realistic is that anyway? No, he loved what he taught; he loved the kids; and he felt confident enough in his skills that regardless of whether you classified a day as good or bad, in the end the kids benefited. A decade ago I didn't have that. I wasn't remotely close.

Today, I have four kids in elementary school, ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade and I have begun subbing at this same school. I feel incredibly grateful to be given this chance, especially to work at this specific school. Not only does this make logistics easy, but I have gotten to know the staff and students over the years and I have a major stake in the community. I'm excited to be a part of it.

The boys...well, they don't seem to be all that excited about it. The avoid eye contact in the halls and on the playground. I've only had Louie in class so far and I think he would prefer it if that didn't happen too often. Mere on the other hand, each day she asks, "Are you STUBBIN' today??" The boys try to correct her, but I stop them because it's so stinkin' cute and I like her enthusiasm ;)

My anxiety from when I first was teaching has returned, but I am learning to let it go. A sub steps into a teacher's shoes for the day and it is almost impossible to live up to the standards that teacher has set, or to fulfill what the perfect day at school would accomplish. And I'm learning to be ok with that. The kids are safe, I smile and give hugs a lot, and I'm enjoying getting to know my kids' friends and being a part of an educational community that I think is fantastic. I'm not sure how long I'll be "stubbing," but for right now it feels like a good fit and that's what matters.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Never too late, right?

So much of parenting can be a guilt trip, but I feel like I'm starting to move away from the point where it completely envelopes me, where I question every decision I make. I've learned a thing or two apparently after a decade of parenting.

When I started the blog I wanted it to be almost like a digital scrapbook, filled with shiny stories, bons mots, edited pictures...you can see I had very high expectations in my younger days, and that was a completely unreasonable expectation to set. Now I have allowed almost three years to pass without sitting down to remember the day-to-day tidbits that make parenting so great. I want to resolve that.

From here on out I am going to type in stories and post pictures so that I can remember and the kids can know what a special time this was for me, and hopefully, for all of us. As So-crates says about the unexamined life...I am now ready to spend more time reflecting on our time, rather than allowing busyness to dictate what path I take.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 5 : Magic Kingdom

I was almost at my wit's end when I checked the forecast this morning. Yet another storm-filled day and the radar map was more colorful than the past two days. Not good when you have a date with the new Fantasyland. 


Our ferry rides from Ft. Wilderness have been extremely peaceful compared to other forms of transportation. Not that the bus system is bad by any means, but having a friendly captain pick you up, the diesel fumes replaced by the water's breeze is really nice. 


The second day at Magic Kingdom was planned to be spent at Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. We happened to take a path there that for whatever reason few others were taking and stumbled upon a family favorite, Merida! The set where pictures were taken and autographs were signed was beautiful. Just a little nook, but so many great details from the movie, Brave.  Merida was so sweet with Mere (and the boys) telling her they must be twins with all the similarities of hair and name and brothers. Meredith was in heaven. 


We also met Alice in Wonderland and she was a lot of fun. For whatever reason I don't have pictures here, but she was definitely one of the best characters we met. Great personality and wit. We rode the Speedway once, but Ben didn't get to drive so the boys all went again while Mere and I got Dumbo fastpasses and then rode the tea cups. She loved it! She had me going faster and faster and I can't believe she wasn't getting sick. 


This is reminiscent of my trip to Disney. My two great-aunts stood where I did and took pictures of us driving our race cars. I love that I have this and a picture of Charlie driving, too. 


The kids are still on the lookout for hidden Mickeys and thought this might be one but later we discovered that there's a parade that shoots out this Mickey confetti and yes, after the parade the kids joined the crowd I picking some up :)


I love Belle. I love that she reads; I love that she kind of does her own thing in her village; and it was a movie that my Grandpa Roebel bought me (he's my godfather), so there are many reasons I was pumped to visit Belle's Storybook Cottage. But I didn't realize (Kevin neither) how great it would be. First, they went the distance in making it as authentic as the movie, even including a painting in the living room of Belle and her (presumably deceased) mom. 


But the attraction isn't just Belle sitting there reading the kids a story. Each kid (who wanted to) got to have a part! I was impressed with how much the newer Disney exhibits actually involve the kids, which was completely unexpected but thoroughly enjoyed. Charlie played the part of Maurice, Belle's father; Benny played something that Kevin and I can't remember; and here is a picture of Mere playing Mrs. Potts and her job was to hop everywhere she went. Louie didn't play anything and we think he may be at the age where he kind of wants to, but may feel "too old" for it. It made me sad, but it's something I need to come to terms with. 


And I didn't even touch on the "experiences" the kids had. After lunch, Mere and I headed to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique while the boys joined the Pirates League. Believe it or not, the kids loved every moment of their experience. Mere got to pick one of four hair-dos (she got the "diva princess" kind), nail polish, and makeup (apparently she and Cinderella have the same taste in eye shadow). The boys picked their facial hair style, and were given a head bandana, jewelry, and a sash with a sword. This picture shows you the results. I have to say that this was my favorite day at Disney World. There are so many things that I haven't typed up for you that I wish I had time to do because they add so much to our trip, but I don't have time time right now. Good night.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Day 4 : Epcot

We woke up to another day of forecasted not-fun-ness, otherwise known as lots of rain. Luckily we're not the people deterred by some thunderstorms so we headed out with our ponchos and smiles, or at least that's what we're telling you. 


There are a lot of people who don't care for Epcot, especially for little kids but Kevin and I are not them. We both have good memories of the park when we went as kids and were excited to take our kids there. It did not disappoint. We started out at Test Track, Lou with Ben; Char with Dad; and Mere with me. First, you design a car and take everything from body type to engine strength into consideration in making the best vehicle possible. I'd like to announce that the pink car with stars beat out the two boy cars!


One thing Disney does well is details, and a place we really saw it was on the Nemo ride. Waiting in line (which, that in itself should be remarked upon: when there is rain like what we've been dealing with, you walk right on to rides. Feel sorry for my kids if they ever go to Kings Island and have to wait 30 minutes to get on a roller coaster!) (and back to the point:) there are such neat effects that give you the impression of being under water with Nemo, but then you see the bars that create queues to walk rough and you realize that they looks as though they've been under the salty water for the past 100 years, all rusted and corroded. Very neat. 


Of course our first stop in the World Pavilion would be China! We saw the 360-degree movie that I somewhat remembered from my trip in 1986, and Kevin confirmed when he said that the Shanghai they depicted barely resembled what he knew, at only a fraction of the size. Also, Kevin came up with the idea for this pic, showcasing the beautifully intricate decoration of the theater. 


We travel along to some different countries and it gets close to our reservation at Germany's Bier Garten and that's when the downpour begins. Yay for a late afternoon lunch! We had live music, a delicious buffet, and a flight of beers. The kids enjoyed trying different things and we all loved the feel of an authentic Biergarten. That's something I really like is that the employees of each country are actually from that country. Nicolai, our host, gave us some history about Cologne, where he is from, and Lisa, our server, was able to give us advice on the menu based on her hometown preferences. 



The kids loved the "Kidcot" stations at each country where they could do an activity, learn about the county, and even get their name written in the language, like here in Japan. Luckily, the rain subsided and we were able to enjoy the countries, albeit it some intense humidity. 


This was a fun surprise.  We were walking through Morocco and the kids were at the Kidcot I saw Jasmine and Aladdin in a room next to it. We got in the room after a but of a wait, but it was worth it. The boys weren't thrilled with the situation because they believed it was a "princess" experience, but I think they got even more out of it than Mere! Not that Jasmine wasn't fantastic, but Aladdin knew exactly what to say to engage the boys nod they loved it. 


We spent the day exploring each of the countries and seeing cool shows like the classic 1986 3D movie "Captain EO" (the kids were blown away when I said I was in 2nd grade when it came out!). Epcot has a night light show called IllumiNations so we decided to get diviner and wait for the show. While I was in line the rains came back full-blast. This was probably the worst moment of the trip so far. We were tired, hungry, there was no place to take cover, so what could we do? The food was ordered so we ate, although Charlie and Meredith were miserable throughout and even though we planned to watch the light show we decided to leave as it was starting. It wasn't a bad thing. We were able get back to our cabin more quickly than if we stayed and basically we had reached our threshold for sogginess. Overall the day was great and I think the kids will remember the good parts. Me, I'm thankful for such a great husband. The rain is pouring, and we're in a sauna in our ponchos, in the second day of rain on our vacation, and Kevin turns to me to clink our plastic cups of Dos Equis and smiles. I am a lucky gal :)

Postponed

After a day of sore feet and sogginess, we went to bed right after Epcot. I hope to have a 2-for-1 later today. Almost a guarantee if this forecast doesn't change. The radar is looking pretty bad this morning :(

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day 4 : Magic Kingdom

In the guidebooks and helpful website information it says that if you can avoid going to Magic Kingdom on a Monday you should. We didn't, and it worked out just fine for us. We didn't get out the door as early as we (read: I) wanted, but it was fine. I was so caught up in the worries of getting all that was planned done, but we kind of wandered around just taking it all in and had some very special experiences. I'm not sure if this can be done during all seasons, but we took advantage of the September crowd.


One of the things we just happened upon was the Mickey's Magic Show which was not a show, but turned out to be pretty magical. I love this picture.  Mere, in the past, has been terrified of characters. She adores Rosie Red yet she has wanted nothing to do with her. She went straight up to Mickey with open arms and he reciprocated. The whole experience was awesome. He interacted with the kids, "talking" about baseball. He signed an autograph and we took multiple pictures with him. What a great way to start of a day!


(The boys were pumped to find another Hidden Mickey.)


In the "Countdown to Disney" included facts about the different parks. One was that this oak tree in Liberty Square has over 500 offspring trees through its acorns. We thought that was pretty cool so we took a picture. 


B.K. (before kids), Kevin and I had the camera turned on ourselves when we took trips, so I thought I'd include one for old time's sake. Don't mind the drowned rat look we have going on. After lunch today it started raining. And. Did. Not. Stop. Ever. By 7pm it was spritzing, but it never stopped. We missed the Electrical Parade because of it (canceled) and it definitely made the day more soggy, but amazingly, it didn't put a damper on our spirits. In fact, the kids kept singing "Zip-i-di-doo-da" through the downpour. The already smaller crowds were shrunk even smaller and we were able to get on everything in the part of the park we wanted to see in 10 minutes or less. We went on Splash Mountain twice in a row just walking on and I had to say no to a third because I was quite water-logged. Our slow start to the day ended up not being so bad since we were able to make up for it all with the lack of crowds. 


This is a specialty photo Kevin took showcasing our favorite restaurant of the day, Casey's Corner. Not surprising that we'd like a baseball-themed restaurant (the decor was awesome!), but the food was really good and by the time we left the monsoon was downgraded to a trickle. I didn't include our lunch restaurant, but that was pretty good, too.  We ate at the Liberty Square Tavern and had some traditional American fare. It was neat to be called by our hostess as "The Hesses from Ohio,"  like the classy family we are. It was kind of crazy that the family next to us didn't speak English and asked the server for someone who spoke Portuguese and he was able to bring out an employee who did! The staff at Disney World has been amazing, needless to say. 


Someone has been visiting our cabin and leaving towel animals and gifts. Tonight when we returned we found this elephant along with T-shirts that the kids will be wearing tomorrow to Epcot! It's funny hearing the kids discuss who this "mystery"person is. And it was great that Charlie's unhappiness (wet, tired, fell twice on the way home) turned to giddiness when he found his gift. 

Tomorrow is a very early morning as we get an extra "magic hour" at Epcot. Wish us luck in getting out the door!