Raising Ferdinand

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Remember Ferdinand? No, not the new version that just came out. Kids might not realize, but we adults know, that story has a wayyyyyyy longer history than that. I’m not even talking about the book. If you were raised on The Disney Channel like my brother and I were, you may remember a little short film called “Ferdinand the Bull,” which actually was released in 1938!? Anyways, it took a few decades and a viewing of the “new” Ferdinand to 1) Make me question eating a burger again (this resolution lasted all of 12 hours) and 2) I might be raising a Ferdinand. ❤️🐂

We often joke about the very chill and laid back nature of our 3-year-old son. In fact, based on vacation experiences with the little man, he has earned himself the moniker of “Island L.” The kid fell asleep in a wagon, for crying out loud. Vacations and disruptions in routine can totally slaughter (no pun intended) a kid’s day. It’s one of the reasons that parents with little kids will laugh after vacation when someone asks if they feel rested and rejuvenated. That’s a big HELL-TO-THE-NO, people. Vacationing with kids is fun and adventuresome, and it is the opposite of resting or rejuvenating (or any of those fun words associated with relaxation).

But not Island L. He can meld right into any situation. His older sister has the characteristics and tenacity to become a great leader (or evil genius; jury’s still out) some day, but don’t dare mess with her shut-eye. L is….. content. I admire him for it, and I envy it immensely. After all, I have a blog with the word “worrier” in the title. Definitely no sense of “chill” in this soul too often. Motherhood definitely didn’t help me unclench, so there’s that. He definitely gets this from his dad. Just like his sister, L could do anything he wants, including be a great leader, but if he is he will probably teach surfing on the side just to maintain some balance and Zen. 🏄

We have the kids in soccer right now (an American requirement for anyone whose mom drives a fly minivan), and while I really thought he would love it and be all about it, turns out he is not at this point in time. I thought perhaps he just didn’t enjoy the first practice, because to be honest I didn’t either. (It was cold and our feet got wet. Yuck!) But then the first game came and he was just not having it. My son is clutch at exercising his right to peaceably protest. His favorite method? The Sit-in. At one point, he professed his love for the clouds (“I wuv clouds”) and literally stopped to look at some flowers.

My sweet Island L is like Ferdinand. He doesn’t have time for conflict or stress (or the bureaucracy of organized sports, apparently) . He just wants to sit and smell the flowers. He wants to watch the clouds go by. He wants to smile and laugh and sleep in a wagon if the mood hits him. He is …. content. Oh, that sweet, sweet boy. Make no mistake, the child is every bit the definition of a Threenager right now, but in comparing this stage of life between the two kids, he is different. He’s enjoying the Island Life everywhere he goes. What a lucky guy!

It can be difficult as a parent to allow your little ones the proverbial time to “stop and smell the flowers.” Lord knows I’ve let out my share of exasperated sighs and hurried him along. But now I realize that this characteristic is something I want him to hold onto. Sure, there are times when we have to hustle for some reason for another, but I am making the conscious effort to be mindful of this beautiful trait he possesses as this fast-paced world will surely try to beat it out of him as he grows. So for now, just like Ferdinand’s mother, I’m going to embrace it. Maybe I’ll even manifest my own inner Island Holly and go with the Island L flow.

A Resolution Worth Keeping

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It may seem a bit odd to post about New Year’s resolutions (NYR from henceforth) in early April, but if you think about it, it’s actually a good check point to see how you are doing. For me, NYR have always been a bust. (It’s only taken me about 20 years to realize that this isn’t an effective avenue to “lose weight.”)  So this year it seemed to me that the more comfortable choice was to approach my self-betterment from a different direction: Reading!

My NYR this year was to read one book a month, and while that may not sound too daunting to some, I felt like it represented a nice balance between self-improvement and enrichment. I love to read; making time to do so is always the problem, and since we live in an era of “self-care,” I set my mind on success for this resolution. Being a working and fully-scheduled mom of two young and energetic kiddos, fitting in time to read is hard! But I’m passionate about this goal and I want to achieve it.

As luck would have it, I was discussing my NYR with another ballet parent and she graciously invited me to join her book club. PERFECT! Not only do I get to digest a great read, but I get to discuss it with a group of intelligent and interesting women, and there is wine involved. Win-win!

So far, I’m ahead of my pace of one/month. I want to try to keep this post alive throughout the year as a collection and a quasi-review of the books I have read. Here’s a start:

  • House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner: Strong writing and a good book – the author really paints a beautiful and sometimes magical picture of this island that kept me entranced and interested. One drawback: It is VERY long. This is a beautifully written tale about a boy/man who ends up living his life on a little island off the coast of Italy, beginning in the early 1900’s. The interesting part of this talehouse edge was the perspective from a remote island as the world developed and experienced wars and revolutions. Living in WV, I can certainly relate to technology and “stuff” in general getting here later than everywhere else; we always seem to be a step or two behind. So I could certainly empathize with this little remote island that was always a little behind the times.

 

 

  • The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin: This was my first Book Club read, and right off the bat it showed me how fun and enriching a book club can be as I never would have chosen this book for me, but I’m so glad that the book club did. Much like House at the Edge of Night, there is a historical aspect to it as it is about the Lindbergh family and their journey through life told from the perspective of Anne
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    Morrow Lindbergh, Charles’ wife. It really brought forth some raw emotions during the chapters about the infamous Lindberg Baby told from a mother’s perspective. Once I got into this book, I couldn’t put it down. They were an interesting and dysfunctional family to read about. This book is classified as “historical fiction” and the author did a good job of outlining the parts that were factual and those that were simply for storyline.

 

  • Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng: Book Club read #2. Holy cow. Couldn’t put it down! Quick and firesdevourable (is that a word?) read about some kids coming of age in the 90’s, which made it even more fun as these “kids” are technically my age based on their ages in the 90’s setting. There are a few intertwined storylines that really had me wondering how this was all going to play out. It touched on a few hot topics, such as adoption and abortion and parenting rights, and you could feel the very-relatable teen angst, as well as the struggle their parents faced. This would be a great spring/summer break or beach read! It’s fast and easy to read, and I really could not put it down. The characters were amazingly written, and the author’s attention to detail was amazing. And, oh, the drama of being a teen in the 90’s (without social media)!

 

 

  • The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty: I love books where I learn something interesting about a topic that I had never really contemplated before, such as hypnotism. This was another one I had trouble pulling myself away from as it had a hyplovelittle streak of “creepy” to it (in the form of a crazy-ex-girlfriend/stalker! Yikes!) It takes place Down Under, which added a bit of interest to the story line as I have always wanted to go to Australia, save the ridiculously long flight(s). Definitely put this one on your summer reading list!

 

 

  • Sometimes I Lie by Alice Fenney: I’m on a streak right now because my last two reads were SO good, and then this one comes along and WOW! I love a good liepsychological thriller, especially ones that involve a little bit of the medical field. Without spoiling too much, this main character is telling the story from a comatose state. There were twists and turns I did not see coming at all. This was my Book Club read for the month of April, and I cannot wait to discuss. I finished it in the first week. It’s one of those books with shorter chapters, and as a busy working mom, to me that is appealing so that I don’t have to stop in the middle of a chapter and can catch a quick snippet of the book easier. (I hate to stop in the middle of a chapter; I usually end up starting it over because I lose the whole train of thought.)

 

  • The Other End of the Stethoscope by Marcus Engel: This book was sent to me by stethMarcus himself as he is a motivational speaker I was researching for work. My job requires knowing and teaching a lot about empathy in healthcare, and Mr. Engel put together what is almost a manifesto of his healthcare experience after a devastating trauma. So, yes, it is technically a book for work, but he does such a great job illustrating what it felt like to go from a healthy teen to a completely helpless, blinded, and (literally) broken patient lying in a hospital bed, completely dependent upon his team of healthcare workers and unable to see a thing. If you’re in healthcare and want to know more about empathy and a patient’s perspective, go to his website and check him out! https://marcusengel.com/

 

  • Coming Soon:  Sometimes I Lie, and What Alice Forgot, and also a little quick read on leadership called The Five Temptations of a  CEO. I’m also getting ready to start The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. I’m also occasionally working through a very satirical book called Stuff White People Like. (I cannot emphasize enough that this book is purely satire. And it’s funny as hell.)

Beating “The Blahs” – Cincy Style

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As a family, one of our favorite places to visit is Cincinnati. It’s a quick trip for us and there are so many things to do for both family/kid and adult entertainment. We have been there so many times that I cannot possibly describe in detail all that we have done or recommend there, but I will give some highlights for anyone wanting to check it out!

But, first and foremost, I have to give a HUGE shout-out to my husband, Jeremy, for his stellar driving in the treacherous winter conditions we encountered. He handled our F-150 like a boss, and also managed to put up with my incessant paranoid backseat driving and squealing. Well done, Babe. Well done.  The kids were in the backseat with their iPads and awesome new headphones, therefore making them ideal travel buddies (translation: occupied and quiet!).

Last weekend, our itinerary included the Newport Aquarium and Great Wolf Lodge. It was my first time at Great Wolf Lodge, but I love that aquarium and was so excited to see they have added to it.

During the winter months, the Newport Aquarium runs a great ticket special where you get a free kid ticket with any adult ticket purchase. That was almost a $40 savings for us! (Which I promptly spent on a private penguin encounter for Jeremy and C.) Jeremy and C both love penguins (who doesn’t, though?), and C had just finished a study on these adorable creatures at school the previous week, so it was well-timed. C’s favorite fact:  Penguins poop every 10 minutes! Hence, we will never own a penguin as a pet.

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They have a coat check for winter time, and adjusted hours. I always recommend buying tickets in advance (coupons at the bottom of them!), but that’s because I’m a worrier and worry it will sell out on our day of arrival. Plus, I hate waiting in lines. At first glance, I think the ticket price can seem steep, but there are so many interactive and hands-on activities that I truly feel we all got an “experience” out of it. Our favorite part was Sting Ray Bay. I think these creatures are fascinating. Years ago (before kids), Jeremy and I went swimming with sting rays in Grand Cayman and it is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Jeremy even got a hickey from one of them; a fact that he will NEVER live down. LOL! (Sorry, Babe.) We spent the bulk of our time with the sting rays, partially because there is a very tropical vibe in that area – reggae music, sunlight, and a warmer temp than other areas. The only thing I was missing was a margarita.

There is a little cafe’ in the aquarium. Overpriced as hell, of course, but we were able to score a little snack there to keep the kids’ Hangry Instinct from taking over. I just love aquariums, and Newport is impressive. In fact, if I ever hit a MAJOR lottery, mark my words that Huntington, WV, will have its own aquarium. I HEART FISHES (and other aquatic creatures)! Last tip:  Take a dry shirt for the kiddos. Between the touch tank and the sting rays (yes you can touch them!!), my kids were soaked, and since it was 5 degrees outside, we ended up buying crappy clearance sweatshirts.

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Lodging:  If you are planning to do just the Aquarium/Newport area, there is a brand new Hampton Inn right across the street. It is very walkable, and the hotel has a little pool and clean, spacious rooms. Great property!

After a day at the aquarium and a night in at the Hampton Inn, we ventured up to Mason, OH, to Great Wolf Lodge. (It is literally right next to King’s Island.) All I can say is WOW! I wish we would have had more days there, because I honestly don’t even feel like I can give very good info about it after just one night. I’m sure there are other experts on that place, but I can tell you it is overwhelmingly fun. We sprung for the room upgrade so the kids could stay in a little tent with bunk beds, which I think added to the experience and it also gave a little separation. The water park is clean (thank God), and the lifeguards there mean business. As a perpetual worrier who really goes psycho around water, I appreciated their diligence and commitment to water safety. Oh, and I was able to use my (Super Hip & Cool Mom) Sunny Tag waterproof pouch!

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Life jackets and (crappy) towels are provided, and there dozens of ways to spend hundreds of your hard-earned dollars at the various games in the arcade, mini golf, shops, etc. They have restaurants on-property too, but we only had pizza during a swim break. Parents:  There is a well-stocked bar! Hallelujah.  And they carried one of my favorite beers, Kona. Due to my recent surgery, I really couldn’t do much, so I spent a lot of time in the “little kid” area with Leo. I loved this area because he could splash and climb the stairs to the mini-slides while I kept an eye on him. It was nice not feeling like I had to hover. I’m excited to go back another time when I can be more active with the kids because I love water parks and water slides, but just could not do that stuff this time. Check Groupon for specials, and also check with your workplace to see if any discounts are offered. Most important:  The kids had a blast! And the smiles on their faces are all I wanted. (Oh, and have I mentioned that penguins poop every 10 minutes?)

There is SO much to do in the Cincinnati area. We go several times a year and do something different every time. I am trying not to be too lengthy, but I want to highlight some fun stuff we have done in the past in the Queen City, therefore I will fail at that attempt. Bear with me.

Duke Energy Children’s Museum:  Wow! Worth the small entry fee and definitely a great way for kids to run off steam. It’s clean, and things work. There are several different play areas, and a special gated area for little kids with stroller parking. It is well-staffed, and a quick little drive from downtown. Last time we were there, the kids’ claimed their favorite part was riding in the golf cart (shuttle) from the back of the parking lot to the entrance, but I know they also enjoyed the water tables, tree-house, and little village. NOTE: Right now their website has notice that they are closed through Spring 2018 due to construction, so check before you go! I’m excited to see what this new construction brings, because it was pretty awesome to begin with.

EnterTRAINment Junction:  Now this place is just a little gem of an experience! Located north of the city, it is the WORLD’S Largest Indoor Train display. Basically, it is a huge model train that is laid out chronologically by period and historically accurate. One nice little touch they offer:  Small step stools as you enter so our little shorties can see the display and carry with them throughout. There is also a little indoor play area and a funhouse. They do have a little concession area and a gift shop. When the weather is nice, they also offer some outdoor train rides/activities, but we have not been there when those were available. Leo absolutely flips out over trains, so we were bummed to miss out on that, but both kids just absolutely loved this place. Tickets are very reasonable, and kids 2 and under are free. If you’re looking for something to fill a few hours in the Cincy area, check this place out!! You’ll be impressed, I promise. Like I said, it’s a little gem!

Cincinnati Reds Game:  Just like Great Wolf Lodge, I’m hardly an expert on this place, but what I love about this experience is Great American Ballpark itself. First of all, I love baseball:  Any sport that allows day drinking in broad daylight without judgement is A-OK in my book. Plus, the whole atmosphere of a baseball game just feels so American and hearkens back to a simpler time. This stadium though: Breastfeeding suite; clean bathrooms; lots of activities for the kids including an awesome roped off playgound…. Yes! Plus, it is very walkable from the downtown hotels and across the street from a brewery (Yay!). You can get tickets for a reasonable price, and if it is your little one’s first time, the customer service desk will make you a little certificate to commemorate the event. It is definitely a very family-friendly environment and a great spring/summer activity in Cincy.

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Cincinnati Zoo: I admit, I was on Fiona-Watch because nothing can be cuter than this baby hippo! While I didn’t get to see her, I did see her parents Bibi and Henry (RIP!), and this zoo was just awesome. Easy to navigate and lots of great exhibits. It was hot when we were there last summer, but the animals were still out and about. We paid the extra few bucks to feed the giraffes and it was absolutely worth the money (and waiting in a little line). The kids just squealed and thought it was the coolest thing ever. Fun fact: Giraffes have black tongues! We rode the train and watched a great bird show (a parrot flew right over our heads!), and we were able to beat the heat in a couple indoor exhibits along the way. We rented a 2-kiddo stroller, which I think was a smart move because it kept me from having to pack ours and drag it around.

OMG this is getting way too long and I’m sorry, but one other thing I want to mention is Rhinegeist Brewery. Again, I’m not an expert on this place, but I know someone who is (my bestie!) and I want to encourage you to check our her blog, Wild and Wonderful Me, to learn more about this cool beer-drinkers destination. While you’re at her blog, check out the other awesome stuff she gets into. She’s one cool cat! (Love you, Michele!)

99 pounds of kid

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“99” rolls off the tongue. I graduated in 1999…. 99 bottles of beer on the wall….. C weighed 9lb 9oz….. when she was little, her classmates called her “Nine-Nine” when they couldn’t pronounce her real name. And last week, my kids were playing with the scale and they realized, through some seriously choppy math, that their combined weight is 99lbs. 99. If I held both of them, that’s what I’d carry, and I’d do so happily when necessary. We snuggle and love and carry them for as long as we possibly can, right?

There’s a [super depressing] saying that goes something like “one day you will put him down, and never pick him up again.” It’s a haunting reminder of how quickly they grow. Many folks don’t realize when that day is; it’s not exactly something you put on the baby calendar, but for me, I probably know.

Last week, I made the decision to have a procedure that, while elective in nature, will certainly positively impact my quality of life. I had things made, ummmmmm, smaller that were too big, and had some tissue removed that was just plain-old “in the way” and not conducive to what I wanted to do. Vanity? Maybe a tad, but I did it for me, and so that I could get a reset back to levels of activity from days of “yore” (before two large babies stretched, yanked, and tugged their way into this world). So really for me, it was about quality of life. *I will not get graphic, but if you have questions about these procedures, feel free to contact me. I’m a pretty open book who wants everyone to live their best life, and this procedure is part of my journey.

Knowing this is major surgery, with lots of abdominal/chest work, I knew it would be limiting on my lifting of the babes. So last Wednesday night, on the eve of the surgery, I lifted both my “babies” (all 99lbs of them) into bed and tucked them in, knowing very well it could probably be the last time I could physically do so, at least for a while. Healing takes time, and during that time, they will continue to grow, so I set that expectation with myself and the quiet room unceremoniously that there will be other ways I can “lift”or hold them up, if not physically. Prayer…. encouragement…. guidance…. accountability…. positivity…. setting a good example…. independence.

So while I’m not physically lifting them these days, they aren’t missing out on much, except for maybe a couple grunts and groans from mommy that “ohhhhh you’re growing up too fast” ❤️

Get the Funk Outta Here: Carolina BalloonFest

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Even after all the trips and flights I’ve taken in my life, I still want the window seat, and I still look out the window in pure awe. At the risk of looking like a newbie flier (heaven forbid), I just cannot help taking the occasional picture. But it never fails that the picture doesn’t do it justice anyways. Maybe it’s the cold meds I’m on right now, but how can we img_8032not look at this beautiful, amazing, world and not gasp sometimes?  It can affirm or maybe even make you question everything you know and believe all at the same time. Regardless of beliefs on how this universe and all of us came to be, can we all agree what a beautiful world this truly is!?  (But Lord help the jerk who tries to take my window seat; I’m here for the scenery, not the opportunity to give you a lap dance should I need to use the lav. Namaste and Amen. 🙏🏼) This was a pic from this morning. Again, the pictures never do it justice but the sun had lit up the clouds in a stunning array of colors over our beautiful state of WV as we departed.

I know travel doesn’t entice everyone, and there are many influencing factors such as cost, anxiety, fear of unknown, in a funk, etc. But some of our own most memorable trips have been mini-adventures that haven’t required much money, setting foot on an airplane, or going anywhere remotely glamorous or getting crazy. And there are some folks who fear flying or are just afraid or paranoid to travel in general. I get it. Sometimes the news does not paint the most beautiful picture that would entice one to travel, but we have to do it anyways. We have to get out of that bubble. We just have to expose ourselves and our kids to all the awesomeness that is out there.

So I shall say it as nicely as possible: Get the funk outta here. See what this amazing world, or your state or region have to offer. Go off the beaten path and try new things. Even if it turns out to be a flop of an experience, at least you gave it a shot. Eat a weird food (i.e. Canadian Poutine), hike some lakeside paths, kayak a local lake as smooth as glass before the fog even lifts and embrace the total silence, snorkel somewhere with water that is clear for miles, or scoop your first born out of a dolphin tank in the Bahamas (ok that last one I don’t recommend, but you get my drift). Watch for local or regional events that spark your interest, and just go for it. As the cliche says, life is too short.

The very same happened to me recently. Facebook “suggested” (in the creepy way it knows everything) that I would be interested in an event coming up in North Carolina. Creeper Facebook was RIGHT! So we loaded up the family truckster and embarked on a quick little turnaround trip to the Carolina BalloonFest in Statesville, NC. It was everything we hoped for and more, not to mention budget-friendly and easy. (A few years back, some of my best buds and I took a hot air balloon ride in Napa, CA, and it was one of the coolest things I’ve done, and I wanted my family to experience that as well, but perhaps closer to the ground and without having to fly cross-country.) After a quick MapQuest to see how far away it was – about 4 hours from Huntington, WV, and a little hotel research, we decided this could be a fun and unique little weekend trip for all of us to experience.

Knowing that the balloons would not fly in any kind of inclement weather, we waited until a handful of days out to purchase our tickets while watching the forecast for that area. Adults were $20 each; kids under 12 free admission. We also sprung for VIP parking (another $20), and I would have paid double for it, maybe even triple. If you take only one nugget away from this post, let it be that VIP parking is the way to go. Otherwise, there after shuttles and lines and waits involved. The weather ending up looking pretty good in the days leading up to the event, so tickets were booked! They warn you ahead to take cash, and that was wise advice as only a couple vendors took cards, and ATM’s were hit or miss. Cell service is also splotchy (the event takes place in a massive field near the Statesville airport).

The festival was basically a fair/bazaar on steroids, but the balloons made it just magical. As I’ve said, pictures just don’t do it justice, so do yourself and favor and check it out personally next year! The balloons fly in the mornings and evenings, so we were sure to get there early to see the morning ascension. It’s a 3-day long festival, and we made it to Saturday/Sunday. We originally booked a Hampton Inn, but got “walked” (hotel-speak for “bumped”), but it worked out hugely in our favor. We were moved around the corner to a newer Hilton Garden Inn, and our whole stay was paid for. Breakfasts too. Woo hooooooo!

They had Kid Zone with several inflatables for kids, mostly free. Some things charged extra (i.e. Bungee jumping trampoline thing and balloon animals). There were tons of food selections (not free, but very yummy), and GREAT live music! We loved the bagpiping, didgerigdoo-playing group from Scotland called Albannach. We stayed to watch them twice! Adults: fear not…. there is a wine and beer garden. $20 got you unlimited sampling from some of my favorite NC area wineries and breweries.

And then there are actual hot-air balloon rides. Jeremy and the kids did the tethered ride. If I was gonna put all my eggs in one basket, literally, they were only going up about 40 feet. It cost $10 for adults and $5 friends for kids. And for shorter kiddos, like my son, they had a peep hole to look out of toward the bottom of the basket, so no need to lift over the edge of the balloon so he can see (whew!). The kids were enthralled, and now we are 4/4 as a family for having ridden in a hot-air balloon, and it was close and affordable and FUN! You can also do an actual balloon ride (untethered and floating around in the sky), but those were about $250 and you had to make separate arrangements with the pilots.

Major takeaways/advice:

  • Take cash
  • Take sunblock
  • VIP Parking = MUST!!!
  • Take chairs and a blanket (maybe even a wagon for kiddos) so you can get comfortable.
  • Check the weather before you commit! Without the balloons it would have still been fun, but the balloons were the main attraction and kinda the main reason we made the trip.
  • Get there EARLY! You do NOT want to miss the balloon races and games. Awesome!
  • And if you want to take a tethered balloon ride, get in line for it FIRST thing.

They do offer a VIP Experience, but it ran $300 for our family, and even after scoping it out this year, I’m not 100% sure that juice is worth the squeeze. Hmmmmm…. we’ll see. They had a tent and food and beverages, and they also provided “upgraded” port-a-potties. I need to know more about this; seems steep. And to me, a port-a-potty is a port-a-potty. Not too many ways to upgrade that experience in my book.

The Carolina BalloonFest is always the 3rd weekend in October, so mark your calendars and watch the weather! Maybe next year, we will see some familiar faces! It was certainly a highlight of the fall for our family, and overall just the perfect “festival” for a family. We definitely want to go back.  At the end of Saturday evening, they did what is called an “All-Burn” and a “Twinkle-Burn” with the balloons where they all light up together or twinkle, respectively, in the middle of the vast field. This spectacle alone was definitely worth sticking around through the evening hours. To see dozens of massive and colorful hot-air balloons lighting up right in front of you was an amazing sight to see, but again, the pictures just don’t do it justice, so I guess you’ll have to go check it out for yourself!

 

 

 

 

Rice Krispie “Monsters”

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Before anyone hates on me too badly for this, please know that there are probably 5 loads of laundry that need put away downstairs and dinner for the kids has not even crossed my mind at this point. (But, I’m not sure I need to feed them because they looked like they were channeling their inner Augustus Gloop in The Chocolate Factory during this entire Halloween Treat endeavor.) Featured here is actual footage of Leo in the sprinkles and chocolate:

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I saw this little project on, you guessed it, Pinterest! And since I have worked with melting chocolate before, I thought this would be fun and easy for the kids’ Halloween treats for school and dance class.

And yes, I set it all up like a cooking show and took a picture of it like a total jerk. But I did it for you! ❤

I call this portrait, “The Calm Before the Storm.”

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Ingredients:

  • melting chocolate (I used bright blue, green, and orange; any colors will do)
  • sprinkles (any colors)
  • candy eyeballs (various sizes look cooler!)
  • candy corn
  • Rice Krispie treats Pro-tip: do yourself a favor and buy the pre-made ones. (Making them from scratch = Ain’t no one got time for that! Plus, they’re the perfect size and not floppy.)

Recommended additional ingredients:

  • kids who love to inhale sugar & make a mess
  • vacuum (Did I mention the sprinkles?! Sooooo many sprinkles.)

Instructions:

Unwrap the RC treats, and place them on pans that are lined with either foil or wax paper of some sort for easy cleanup. Melt one color of the melting chocolate and do it slowly in intervals in the microwave, making sure to stir it occasionally. Think of melting chocolate like a gremlin:  Do NOT get it wet. But you can put it in the microwave, so maybe that reference doesn’t work after all. Hmmmmm… Seriously though. Do not let any water or, in some cases (not ours), saliva come in contact with the melting chocolate. It will harden and become useless. [Enter dirty adult joke here.]

Once the treats are unwrapped and the chocolate is melted, the fun/disaster starts! Dunk one end of the treat into the chocolate so that it covers the upper 1/3 or so of the treat. Then, add some candy eyeballs, maybe some candy corn for fangs or a nose, and then some sprinkles in a fun color for hair/fur.

Get creative with the eyeball placement and colors. Do one treat at a time, then lay it on the lined sheet to dry. BOOM! Done.

This is a comparison of mine compared to the Pinterest OG (mine are on the bottom). Mine aren’t as neat, but I was basically fighting off a sugared-up octopus doing these, so I win.

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Happy Halloween!

The Dolphin Tank

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I’m having one of “those days” as a mom. Ya know… the kind where nothing stupendously wrong happens but where you still get to the end of the day shell shocked wondering what the hell just happened as your tights continue to dig into your waist because they should have been off hours ago.

I was snippy with my kids and impatient. I couldn’t wait for bedtime. So here I sat with zero intention of doing anything but scroll through social media and drool on myself now that they are asleep. I kinda zoned out as I started to look through pics, and I stumbled upon this little jewel, and it inspired me. Not many know the backstory behind what appears to be a perfect little vacation picture . . .

I love dolphins, and so when we went on our Disney Cruise this past winter, I knew for SURE that my daughter and I would share a wonderful experience that she would remember for years and years and tell alllllllll her friends and teachers for years to come about how she and mommy swam with the dolphins. But in addition to loving dolphins (and lakes and swimming), I’m also a self-admitted Psycho Mom when it comes to water safety, so being on a little island in the middle of Blue Lagoon, my Mom Safety Sensors were set to “Stun” level. She is not the strongest swimmer at this point, though she thinks she is, and I was having zero of her strong-willed shenanigans during this Once In A Lifetime Perfect Mommy Daughter Moment.

We sat along the plastic buoyant platform waiting our turn to enter the water onto a walkway to interact with the dolphins as it was a shallow-water experience appropriate for minimum age 4. (Sweet! We made the cutoff!) We got in the water; the dolphin played with us; we got out and sat back down on the floating platform with slippery butts* to wait our turn again. *An important detail, I promise.

Well, Princess C couldn’t be bothered with a mere wait time for a dolphin and proceeded to wiggle her (slippery) butt to the edge and stick her little foot down into the dolphin tank below us.

“C, stop.”

“Mommy is serious. STOP.”

“C I am not kidding you’re going to fall in.”

“No I’m not!”

 

Then, I, Super Water Safety Mom, dare to look away for a split second and PLOP. The sound of a 50 pound-ish little blonde blob hitting the water.

I look and she’s sinking.

In the @&?!$ Dolphin Tank.

They aren’t kidding when they say something kicks in as a mother and you just do what you need to do. I slipped in after her (I have many imperfections but I’m a damn good swimmer) grabbed her, and with the help of a kind stranger, hoisted her back up on the slippery floating platform. Side note: it’s the Bahamas, but in February that water is far from warm. Yikes!

Oh, but wait…. now I am in said dolphin tank and there is no way in hell I can pull up onto this platform. It’s buoyant and flips when I pull it down. (Some kid offered to help pull me up, but I spared us both that humiliation. Did you know they film these encounters nowadays?! No one was getting that spectacle on home video.)

As she dramatically cried about the salty water tasting like fish and being “dis-gross-ting” (gross + disgusting; it’s just too cute to correct), I had no other course of action but to swim across the dolphin tank DURING THE SHOW and use the ladder.

Princess C continues to scream and sputter, and I begin my trek across the tank, only to be stopped by a friendly bottle-nosed creature named Salvador. I had to kiss him before he moved out of my way. And oh yes, she is still making a scene. And the camera is still rolling. And the kind stranger who helped pull her out of the tank is trying to console her unsuccessfully.

After the hoopla, and after I bought an overpriced/dry Dolphin Encounter shirt, one of the other excursionists came up to C and said “sweetie are you ok?” And her response? “My mommy saved me!”

So in spite of my planning and watch-dog/water safety parenting, the proverbial poo totally hit the fan. We are always going to have days like that, and days like the one I had today, where try and try and try as you might to be the perfect parent or create that perfect memory to make your kids happy, reality goes a different route. Now I look at that picture and realize, it was a pretty perfect day, and I know for sure we will both remember it. I just hope she also remembers that I was there for her when she needed me, and that Mommy is always right 😬

And today, after all the sweating and frustration and bribing and rushing from here to there and a fast food dinner (ugh!) and being out too late on a school night and panty hose that were on for way too long . . . . I put two happy kids to bed with their bellies full. Pretty good “picture” to end the day.

So trust me, you’ll get that perfect picture, it just might have a more interesting story behind it than you intended.