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The Best Laid Plans Jul 01

Summer is halfway over in our neck of the woods, and it hasn’t gone anything like I thought it would.

It started in the middle of May, two weeks before school would even be over for the summer with my youngest catching adenovirus. Her pediatrician also confirmed that there is still fluid in her ears, eight months after we first found it. Then my oldest got an ear infection that, even after 10 days of antibiotics, didn’t go away. We returned to the doctor for another round of antibiotics not just for an ear infection, but for some extremely huge and nasty looking tonsils. At this same visit, my youngest was having her ears checked again for fluid. If fluid remained, she would be referred to a pediatric ear, nose and throat specialist.

Well, guess what? They both got referrals. And are both scheduled for surgery the end of July. The youngest is having tubes put in both ears. The oldest is having her tonsils and adenoids removed.

I’d started dreaming about this summer months ago. I was feeling brave. With no requirements to be anywhere, I was considering many trips to visit friends and family. The kids would have grand adventures and we wouldn’t get bored staring at the walls at home.

Instead, we’re staring at the walls at home.

Now I’m afraid to take the kids anywhere because even just walking outside in the central Florida heat and humidity is hard on a body, and my oldest daughter has lost a lot of weight due to the swelling in her throat. She’s on a mostly soft food and liquid diet and will be for at least a week after surgery. The kid needs to hang on to every calorie that she manages to ingest.

My youngest is the opposite and needs an outlet. She needs to run and jump and play to make sure she eats three meals a day instead of randomly snacking.

How do you handle having two kids that need totally opposite things? Anyone have encouraging words about their upcoming surgeries?

Category: General  | Comments off
Summer Has Arrived Jun 06

Here in Central Florida, we have a different way of knowing when summer is here for sure.

It’s not the last day of school (May 24), or Memorial Day weekend, or even the first time the thermometer hits 90 degrees (WAY back in April, might even have been March).

It’s when we deal with our first tropical depression/storm or hurricane.

Today Tropical Storm Andrea pushed its way across the northern part of the state and dumped several inches of rain across parts that needed it desperately. The storm brought some random crazy wind gusts and tornado warnings.

And the official start of summer.

Category: General  | Comments off
Blogging From My iPhone May 30

I’ve had an iPhone 5 for 6 weeks now. One of the reasons I was excited to get one was so that I could blog on the go. Napping kids in car? No problem, write a blog post! Cute pic on the phone? No problem, schedule a Wordless Wednesday!

But, like many other times, I got distracted by life and a houseful of sickies and never got around to it.

Now I’m giving it a try and I’ve already “lost” a post. My birthday post (which was already late) says published, but in a category titled failed. Anyone know how to fix this? Are there any tips I must know to get the most out of blogging from my iPhone?

Category: General  | One Comment
5QF 4/26/13 Apr 26

I not only liked the questions this week, but they were easy to answer! 🙂 Link up with Mama M!

1. Who drives when your family is together, you or your spouse?
My husband. I hate to drive, and he gets car sick if he doesn’t drive, so it works out well.

2. Are you an introvert or extrovert?
Introvert. While I enjoy people, I am happiest at home playing video games, reading, cooking or crafting. Or at the library looking for new books.

3. Are you married to an introvert or extrovert?
This isn’t as clear cut an answer for him as it is for me. He is more extrovert than introvert, however some days he is on so much that the only way for him to recharge is at home coding or cycling.

4. What’s your favorite type of social media?
I mostly stick with Facebook and Twitter, and neither can take the prize. I like Facebook for family updates and pictures. Twitter helps me with current events and gives me access to other moms who can commiserate with me over the difficulties of raising kids.

5. What’s your favorite way to “recharge”?
Reading. Hands down. If you want me at my best, give me 4 hours and a book.

Now, to see what the deal is on this blog award that appeared in my comments… 😀

Category: General  | Comments off
Shoes Apr 15

As a female, I’m supposed to spend my days lusting after super high sparkly heels that are far more pretty than comfortable.

However, I’m a mom of two. I spend my days at home or at the playground, barefoot or in flip flops.

But some days require footwear other than flip flops, and then I have a problem.

Not with the days that require fancy shoes. Nono, on those rare occasions I actually enjoy shopping for those shoes. It’s the activities and locations that require sneakers that stump me.

My foot has a slightly unusual shape for an woman since I spend so much time without constricting shoes. My feet are a narrow V that doesn’t seem to translate well to sneakers.

I keep looking at minimalist shoes, hoping they’ll be closer to what my feet need and will be comfortable in, but how can you tell which shoes are right for you?

I’ve been looking mostly at Brooks Pure Cadence, Pure Cadence 2, and Adrenaline.

How do I decide? Is there an easy way to find ONE store that has all 3 styles for me to try on?

Category: General  | One Comment
#UBP’13 The Party is Here! Apr 10

Ultimate Blog Party 2013

I’m excited to participate for a 4th(!!!!) year in the Ultimate Blog Party hosted by 5 Minutes for Mom. 😀

Welcome to my humble abode! I’m the mom of two girls, ages 4 and 17 months. I read, crochet and play World of Warcraft and Star Wars: The Old Republic when time and money allow. I love to cook and have recently started using my freezer to take the stress out of dinner time.

This little slice of the blogosphere is where I do my dreaming or try to make sense of the randomness inside my head. I also try to document happenings in our family life, but it is more important to me to LIVE it than blog about it. So I get around to things in my own time, for example my Story of Prague that took me six months to write. (And the pictures STILL aren’t up due to various difficulties!) 😉

In addition to all those quiet, at home activities I mentioned earlier, we are HUGE Disney fans. Since we live in Central Florida, it just made sense once we had kids to become annual passholders, so you can find us there about once a month. We usually stay at Fort Wilderness with our popup camper, but we have stayed at several of the resort hotels (Animal Kingdom Lodge, Boardwalk, The Dolphin, and The Yacht and Beach Club).

Speaking of Disney, we just returned from a Friday through Tuesday stay at Fort Wilderness! Our girls just love the Aquatic Play Area at the Meadow Swimming Pool and riding around the campground in a golf cart. I think they would be happy if that was all we did. 😉 But we did spend some time at the Flower and Garden Festival and let them play on the Oz playground as well as visits to the other parks. Those pictures will also appear for Wordless Wednesday one of these days. 🙂

I also love to travel in general, but it’s a lot more difficult with 2 young kids in tow. With the help of obsessive planning and our popup, we hope to get back to trips other than Disney in the near future. St. Augustine’s Anastasia State Park is next on my list, and we’ve already stayed at one of my other personal faves, Fort DeSoto Park.

One last note about me and my blog. At the time of this writing, NONE of the reviews that I have on my blog were sponsored and any time I talk about a product or location it is because I either loved it or hated it. I do occasionally use Amazon affiliate links, but those are few and far between. While I wouldn’t mind receiving free products, I find that reviews requiring me to blog mean my posts aren’t genuine. I want to write when I feel like writing about whatever I feel like writing about.

Let the party continue! 😀

Sometimes I Freeze Mar 27

Lately I’ve really come to understand what other parents refer to as the “witching hour.”

My older daughter is so mellow that she’s more inclined to burst into tears and throw herself into bed than into a screaming tantrum in the middle of the room, but not so the younger. The closer it gets to her bedtime, the more clingy and cranky she gets and some days when it’s time to make dinner, I just can’t bring myself to listen to the screaming. So sometimes I freeze in an attempt to save my sanity.

This caused us to spend a lot of money on take-out or unnecessary trips to the grocery store for something that could easily be re-heated. Once a month cooking has been a thing for awhile now, and together with a friend of mine who’s a new mom, I think I’m embracing it.

Due to time constraints (it’s hard to have your really young kids somewhere else for an entire day), we’ve done two cooking days so far, making 3 dinners, and 2 breakfasts each time, as well as 1 lunch during our first go-round. These meals, in combination with our regular “quick meals” such as spaghetti and hamburgers, lasted both of our households two weeks and took around 5 hours each time.

It is a BIG commitment to be organized enough to purchase everything and power through the cooking of so many meals. I have yet to find a good way to save as much money with this method as I do otherwise, but practice makes perfect, right? I’m surprised at how much I HAVEN’T saved, despite my extensive pantry.

Does anyone know how to SAVE money by doing freezer meals? Does anyone have a freezer meal recipe they’d care to share?

So far, Once A Month Mom has been my go-to site, but they haven’t let me down yet! 🙂

Category: General  | 2 Comments
The Story of Prague Mar 12

I’ve hinted several times that my husband and I had an opportunity for international travel, and even wrote about the carry-on I bought and my experience with international flights, but have yet to write about the trip itself.

Strangely enough, it’s been a little over six months since we got on the plane to Frankfurt and then to Prague. It took me an entire month to relax after the flights and then it was time for a first birthday, the holidays, and then a fourth birthday. Part of me still feels like Prague was just yesterday.

When we first returned, I wasn’t sure what to think about my time in Prague. I wasn’t sure what the big deal was about the city, and why I should convince friends to go there. It’s an old capital city, with some beautiful historic locations, and a great location within Europe. It took quite awhile for me to “get” it.

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic, and the people primarily speak Czech, along with German, Polish, and English. The food is hearty meat and root vegetables served in a variety of savory ways. The Czech version of a German strudel and tart are found in every food place you visit, and coffee and beer are available on every corner. My husband and I both fell in love with Kozel dark beer, which is a lot like the brown ales my husband favors. I drank more alcohol in our 8 days in Europe than I had in the 8 months prior and was never drunk or even buzzed. Beer is cheaper than water at restaurants and stands and is always served with food.

The city is split into several districts – Old Town, New Town, Little Quarter, Jewish Quarter, and Prague Castle. We stayed at the 987 Design Hotel which was a stone’s throw from the train station, the university where my husband spoke, and city center. We were just barely located on the typical tourism map. It was a great place to be. We could walk or hop a bus, tram, metro or train and be anywhere in the city without issue. And we covered most of the city by foot while we were there.

I live in central Florida, home of Walt Disney World. And unless you are on WDW property, public transportation is nearly non-existent. If you want to get somewhere in this town, you drive. Not so in Prague. We could have taken the metro instead of hotel shuttle to the airport if we’d desired. The only city in the U.S. that I’ve been to that even begins to compare? Our own nation’s capital. Prague has far more history and connection to its culture than Washington D.C., but it the closest comparison I’m aware of.

Prague has wonderful parks and greenery on most street corners, and some of the more tourist-y areas have parks in the street median. Roads begin and end at museums, because there is just that much history. Nearly all buildings are a business at street level and then two or more levels of residences with parking hidden in interior garages and courtyards.

It feels as though every restaurant offers outdoor seating, and food carts are set up near the established parks to create seating. Everyone who works in the hospitality realm speaks English, although there was one location that didn’t like that we didn’t speak their language. I got the impression that they thought we were snobby Americans, but my husband and I both speak conversational Spanish, and if I had to, I could stumble through reading some Portuguese. Oh, and we looked up some Czech phrases before we went AND had a friend give us some German basics in case we needed help in Frankfurt. There just isn’t time for a standard short vacation to learn an entirely new language. Now, if you’re going to spend more than a month in any country other than your own? Put forth the effort. Otherwise, a few phrases go far.

I’m going to use the next few (Wordless) Wednesdays to post pictures from Prague. Words just don’t do justice to the combination of history and modern day that is found there. If you have the opportunity, I’d recommend it.

Category: BIG DEAL, Getting to know me, travel  | Comments off
5QF Mar 08

Since I was a contributor, I feel it appropriate to do my own 5QF this week! 😉

1. Does your family coordinate clothing for church on holidays like Easter?
No. We don’t attend church very often, and have family pictures taken even less frequently, so we don’t have a need for all 4 of us to match. For various reasons, the girls will have coordinating outfits, and if we feel so inclined and have the clothing pieces to do so, my husband and I have been known to coordinate ourselves to them. But will you ever see me searching for 4 coordinating outfits for a holiday? No.

2. How do you get out of a funk?
Music or dessert. Cheesecake or fresh baked anything with ice cream are the big ones.

3. Online friends – real friendships or not?
Oh, I’d love to say that they are REAL real, but there is enough pessimist/realist in me to know that some of the most offensive people in this world put personas on the internet for years in hopes of turning someone into prey. So I kinda like to say be cautious and if you do physically see these people and your instincts were right and they’re not looney tunes? Give them even bigger hugs and enjoy it all the more.

4. What is the one food you must eat in a restaurant (not make yourself)?
Cheesecake. Too much work, too many ingredients.

5. What would happen in your home if you ran out of ketchup?
Nothing. We’re not huge ketchup fanatics. Honey mustard or a sweet and spicy barbecue are our go to items. Or sometimes Boar’s Head Pepperhouse Gourmaise. Depends on what we’re eating! 🙂

Category: General  | Comments off
My Experience with International Flights Feb 12

My husband and I were presented with An Opportunity for International Travel that would test the boundaries of our flying abilities.

A little background before I get into the nitty gritty of our experience? At one time, my husband was working toward his pilot license, and has generally always enjoyed flying. His opinion has changed slightly since the girls were born, but would still prefer flying to any other form of travel. I, on the other hand, have never been a good flyer and much prefer to drive or possibly even travel by train than to fly. With that out of the way…

We flew on a Lufthansa Airbus A330-300 from Orlando, FL, USA to Frankfurt, Germany and then, (according to my husband) a 747 to Prague, Czech Republic.

We left home at 4:30pm for the airport. We took off out of Orlando at 8:20 pm on Friday and arrived in Frankfurt shortly after 11am (all times written are local time). We spent most of our time in this airport sleeping on benches. Our flight from Frankfurt to Prague left sometime around 3pm and arrived shortly after 4pm. Our hotel shuttle had us checking in to our room by 5:30pm. We were showered and dressed for dinner with a friend by 7pm. Did I mention we’d both been awake since 7am Friday? And that it is now 7pm Saturday?

By far, the most hassle we experienced was at U.S. airports. We were scanned, questioned, and a few were scanned again (luckily, not us). The lines were long and people were impatient.

In Europe, we walked off the plane with completed customs forms in hand, handed them and our passports to airport customs officials and then continued on to our next gate or to baggage claim. It really was just that easy. The longest we waited in line was 5 minutes.

For the return trip, we had the usual hassle of checking in. We probably spent the same amount of time in line checking luggage and getting boarding passes, except in the U.S. there were no less than 4 agents working, while in Prague there were only 3 and one was dedicated to First Class and Frequent Flyers.

After our baggage was checked, all we needed was our passport in Frankfurt and we were good to occupy the airport for a few more hours. When we finally landed in the U.S. (10 hours from Frankfurt and about 20 hours and counting in total travel time), we waited in line for at least 30 minutes to visit with customs, and it wasn’t until we were through that luggage started coming into international baggage claim (and we’d been in the middle of the group getting off the plane).

When it comes to amenities, these flights do rival domestic flights on JetBlue. The one MAJOR difference is that the seats are smaller. They are narrower than JetBlue and those falling in the obese category might have difficulty fitting into a single economy seat. We were provided with headphones, a pillow, blanket, and all seats have TVs for in-flight movies, TV and music. On both long flights, we were provided 2 meals and 2 snacks. Both short flights we were provided with simple breakfasts. Overhead compartments were adequate if you stuck to the guidelines (and I didn’t see anyone having to force anything into the bins). The bathrooms were well maintained and there were 3 sets throughout the plane. Refreshments (including a limited supply of alcohol) were distributed roughly every hour.

My one REAL issue with the long flights? Unless EVERYONE sits upright or EVERYONE reclines, you end up with people in your lap, and that’s not really an exaggeration. Both my husband and I on the return flight made several unnecessary trips to the restroom to escape the claustrophobic space that had been created when the couple in front of us reclined. Why didn’t we recline? Because we looked behind us and saw that both people were using their laptops on their trays, and if we’d reclined, would have closed their computers (which happened to my husband and his laptop).

It’s called common courtesy people.

Oops, sorry, end rant.

In short, any adult can manage an international flight. Just do your research and be prepared. However, I will not be taking my children on a flight like this until they are MUCH, MUCH, heck, MUCH older, because there just isn’t the space in economy to keep them distracted. IF, somehow, we can afford Business Class seats, I might consider the trip once they are both in elementary school, but definitely not as infants, toddlers, or preschoolers.

I hope this has helped anyone who might be about to take their first international flight. If there are other questions, feel free to ask, I know that having answers helped me handle the flight despite being claustrophobic and just generally not a good flyer.

Category: travel  | Comments off