April 28, 2016

Disney Recap

Disney World is magical. Truly. I hadn't been since 2004, and I think they've done a great job making it even more magical. Amazing.

Our trip was a smashing success. It was a tiring rather than a relaxing vacation; but we had a wonderful time, and we all got to do the things we were most excited about. The weather cooperated, only raining once and that was during dinner one night! The sun was hot, but that only made pool-time more fun. It was crowded, but the mornings were nice, and we headed back to the hotel each afternoon to relax (or ride the water slide). It was a great routine; and every day since we got back, when 3 o'clock rolls around, I feel a little sad that I don't get to go sit by a pool with a fruity drink in my hand.

A few of the highlights that I want to be sure to remember:

  1. On the first night, we went to a character buffet for dinner. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, and Pluto all walked around the restaurant.  When Goofy stopped by, I took a picture with Kevin and my MIL. He pointed to the kids, and I said, "Oh, thanks, but they want to wait for the duck."  Nathan was indeed waiting for Donald Duck, but I obviously offended him, and it became a running joke throughout the trip.  "No thanks, we're going to wait for the duck."  Ha!
  2. That first day at Magic Kingdom, we arrived before the gates opened, and we headed straight for Space Mountain, as planned. The boys were running, and the squeals and laughter of excitement as we ran through the park and got on our first ride (with no line!) was everything. Magic. 
  3. Pool-time was especially nice, because the boys are independent and can swim and ride the water slide by themselves. It was fun for them, and relaxing for us. Perfect.
  4. Epcot was the toughest day - the boys were tired, and there wasn't too much at Epcot that they were excited about. However, our dinner in Italy and the fireworks afterwards made for a very nice evening. 
  5. I had never been to Animal Kingdom before, and I loved it. It's very cool. Getting there first thing and having a Fast Pass to the African Safari made it even cooler. The safari is so impressive, and it definitely exceeded my expectations.
  6. Hollywood Studios = Star Wars. Star Tours, pictures with Kylo Ren, a Star Wars stage show, and Jedi training. We ate lunch at the Sci-Fi Drive-In restaurant, rode Toy Story Mania and the Tower of Terror too, but when we think about Hollywood Studios, we will remember Star Wars.  
  7. We capped off our Hollywood Studios day by watching The Force Awakens on the beach at our resort.  Nice.
  8. Splash Mountain = the consensus favorite ride of the family. 

I probably won't ever be able to drag Kevin there again, but this trip was worth it, and we definitely made memories that will last a lifetime. 

Seriously, the African safari was amazing!

Jedi training was really, really cool.

Watching Star Wars while sitting on a beach is not a bad way to spend an evening.


The happiest place on Earth

April 19, 2016

Disney Rules

We are off to Florida today. I am so excited, as well as admittedly a little nervous. This will probably be our one-and-only trip to Disney World with the kids (I'm basically dragging Kevin there), so I have expectations that I'm working to manage. I love Disney World. I want good weather and happy kids with a lot of energy; but I know there will be thunderstorms at some point, and all of us will get tired. We will take breaks and play games in lines and go back to the resort when we need to rest and want to play in the pool.

I also recognize that we can't do everything, so I asked the boys what they were most looking forward to, so we can make sure we set our priorities correctly.  Aaron:  Everest, breakfast buffet at least twice.  Nathan:  Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Kevin:  Relaxing by the pool, Jedi training.  Me:  Seeing smiles on my boys' faces, African safari, Space Mountain, and the Haunted Mansion.

We have also discussed rules that we all plan to follow.  Here are the main ones...

1.  No whining
2.  Stay together (and have mom and dad's cell phone #s memorized just in case)
3.  You have saved allowance money.  You can spend it on anything you want, but when it's gone, it's gone.
4.  If you ask for something and we say "no" - don't ask again.
5.  It's okay to admit you're tired. Remembering rule #1, let us know and we will take a break.
6.  If we all can't agree on what to do, it's okay for us to split up.
7.  We will take turns riding with each other - because we are an odd number, one of the adults will have to ride by themselves at times.  (My mother-in-law is coming with us, and she may be the most excited one of all.)
8.  No fighting. If you need a break from each other, we will split up for a bit.
9.  When it's time to sleep, sleep. We all need energy for the next day.
10.  Always, always, remember rule #1.

April 18, 2016

Happy Patriot's Day

I have mentioned many times before:  I love Patriot's Day. It's the best day in Boston. There's such a feeling of community and optimism in the air. I love going to our town common - located around mile 10 - and watching the runners go by.  It's a tradition that I know my boys will remember as they grow up in this area. After the horrors a few years ago, the day has taken on even more emotion. It's always had a huge importance in this area, though. It's a day when everyone comes together. We are one community. Cheering for the runners, rooting for the Red Sox, enjoying each other's company. We are one.

April 14, 2016

A Few Things on Parenting...

A collection of essays and articles about parenting that I've recently read... I think we are in a pretty sweet phase right now, and we're doing okay so far; but I will never let my guard down. 

A Reconsideration of Children and Screen Time.  These kinds of articles always catch my eye, because we find ourselves flying blind when it comes to managing the amount of technology available to our kids today. Ten years ago I didn't own an iPhone or iPad. The world changes rapidly, and we're working to stay informed to know how to navigate as parents. I'm finding that it really comes down to trusting my gut, and then reading and talking to others to confirm my instincts.  The boys are now doing a lot of their homework online, so our old rule of "no screen time during the week" has now changed to "no games during the week - educational sites only". We react and adjust and try to keep up. Stay vigilant, everyone. It's only going to get harder as they get older, and it's important.

How to Stop Sibling Fights.  I wish there was an easy answer to this one. My boys swing so wildly from love to hate. I know it's harder in the winter, and this one was particularly tough; and I'm very ready for summer to take them back outside to play - and hopefully play nicely - together.

Our Push for Passion, and Why it Harms Kids.  I think about this a lot. I have friends and family members who are so identified by their passions.  I think of my one of my cousins - when you think of her, you can't help thinking of yoga and ultimate frisbee and her children. Another friend often says that he loves music, New Orleans, his friends and family, and that's about it.  As kids in today's world, they're on a path where there is a pressure to define themselves this specifically and to become an expert in their chosen field. College applications demand it. It feels at odds with my desire to raise well-rounded boys who have the opportunities to become exposed to so many things. I think about myself, too - I am interested in many topics, but I'm not sure I ever found a "passion", and I certainly didn't have one when I was younger.

Another essay on parenting - Are we getting a raw deal?  I liked this one.  I like any reminder that while we should give our kids the freedom to be kids, we should also remember that we're raising them to be independent adults. Adults who know how to clean a toilet and pick up their room and mow the lawn. Adults who can appreciate what they have and all that their parents do for them.

Where's the magic in family dinner?  I loved reading this.  Many nights, our dinnertime lasts about 10 minutes and involves a lot of me coaching manners.  "Sit up!" "Eat over your plate!" "Chew with your mouth closed!"  But when the boys look back, I want them to remember that I cooked dinner for them and I took the time to eat dinner together as often as possible.

It Goes So Fast (Not a Parenting Essay).  In the midst of all the parenting, don't forget that you have your own life to lead.

Oh, and I meant to include this great one from Jenny at Dinner: A Love Story.  I'm putting Catastrophic Happiness on my to-read list.

April 7, 2016

The Bright Side...

The biggest benefit of maintaining this blog is that it forces me to practice optimism. It is my gratitude journal. I may whine a bit every now and then, but it's usually in the act of allowing myself to let it out so I can move on. I am a natural pessimist, so I have to work really hard to maintain my optimism. Life is so much better that way. This week was tough, but I'm putting in the work and focusing on the positives.

On Monday morning, we woke up to a snowstorm. In the above picture, you can see our daffodils buried in snow. It was cold, the roads were bad, and our power went out for a while on Sunday. It came back, but our cable/internet/phone service did not. When I look at that picture - and out our front windows - I'm trying to focus on the blooming flowers rather than the snow.

On Monday afternoon, I got a call informing me that our sitter was in a car accident. I had to walk out of a meeting that I was facilitating to leave work immediately to pick up the boys from school. I reminded myself to focus on the facts that nobody was hurt, the boys weren't in the car, and my current job is not too far away. I got the boys and called into my next meeting from home. I'm grateful to be able to do that.

Did I mention the lack of cable/internet service? And the need to work from home? As well as the desire to watch a certain basketball game Monday night? It was an extremely frustrating day, but in the end, I was able to use my phone hotspot to connect to WiFi and get some work done. Oh, and I watched the basketball game, too.

Speaking of the basketball game - we lost, which was the cherry on top of a really crappy day. But I woke up Tuesday morning feeling nothing but gratitude at the opportunity to watch a great group of guys win a bunch of games and play an amazing championship game, losing to another great group of guys. It was satisfying.

The weather has now turned to rain, and although I hate cold rain and spring in New England, it seems like an improvement. The first week of soccer has been canceled due to the fields being covered in snow, but it will start next week. And the week after that, we are headed to Florida, to spend time in the warm sunshine at DisneyWorld.

Until then, I will do my best to keep focused on the good stuff.


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