site updates and random thoughts
About Us Blog Books Games Movies Music Photos Trips

The Sunday Somethings, 12oct14

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: Fall! We didn’t have the best weather, but we did one of my favorite fall activities with the kids today – the pumpkin patch. I’m thinking about doing another pumpkin patch this year to make up for our not-so-great weather today.

Something I’m thinking: Gabe and I are thinking about where to eat for our 8th anniversary coming up soon. That’s another reason to love the fall.

Something I’m hoping: I hope to get the motivation to finally finish my 2014 WWDC book. I worked on it this weekend with the crafty day with Michelle and Paula.

Something happening around the house: Our dishwasher is still broken.

Something I’m reading: I read Attachments, Fly Away (book 2 of Firefly Lane), Necessary Lies (for October book club), and When You Reach Me (also for book club). I’m now reading Goldfinch.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished Ghost Brigades, and he is now reading Red Seas Under Red Skies.

Something I’m watching: Fall TV is starting up! We have been watching Amazing Race. Gabe has watched Gotham, Sleepy Hollow, and Arrow and I pay some attention to those. The Walking Dead starts tonight! I also watched a marathon of Gilmore Girls (season 2) during our crafty day.

Something I’m playing: Gabe is starting to play with some friends in a regular games night a couple nights a month. He played Caverna the first time, and they are playing Terra Mystica next time. We had a games night recently, and I played Splendor, Lords of Waterdeep and Russian Railroads. Gabe played Splendor, Concordia, and Castles of Burgundy that night.

Something I’m creating: I’m working on the 2014 WWDC photobook. It’s much longer than last year’s. We had quite a few photos, and the bike ride across the Golden Gate Bridge takes up about half the book!

Something tasty: Funnel cakes and ribbon fries from the farm fun today. Ooh, and pumpkin pancakes on Gabe’s birthday at our favorite breakfast place.

Something about the grownups: We got our flu shots. I barely felt the shot, but my arm was sore for the rest of the day. Fingers crossed that it keeps us healthy this year! The flu was no joke when I had it last winter. Gabe and I have both enjoyed volunteering some in Maddie’s classroom, and we watched Cullen at bike day at his school. I had my September book club meeting. Gabe started a regular board gaming group. We are quite excited that we are planning a bonus trip to DISNEY! We are trying to decide when to tell the kids or whether we just want to surprise them on the day that we leave. Melissa, Jason, and my parents are joining us. It went from a vague idea to a planned trip within a week. Now that we have it planned, I’m so glad that we’re not waiting another 2 years to go to Disney (as we had originally planned). It has been 2 years since our last trip. The kids are going to love it! We celebrated Gabe’s birthday on the 5th, and the kids and I surprised him with a tiger striped Bengals cake. Unfortunately, it didn’t help the Bengals win their game on that day.

Something about both kiddos: Both kids are doing swimming and music lessons. Maddie continues with swimming twice a week and piano. Cullen is doing swimming once a week and loves his Kindermusik classes. I’m excited about both kids doing music classes, and they both seem to love it. Both kids went to their friend Elizabeth’s birthday party where they had a great time playing in their awesome backyard. The highlight of the party was the confetti eggs (who says these are just for Easter?). Today, we went to the pumpkin patch! As I said, the weather wasn’t great. It was misty and cool, but we still had fun. The kids played in the colorful maze, the hay bale maze, the cornbox, the giant slide (well, Maddie), the hay jump, bounce houses, and hay ride. We all watched the hilarious pig races. We each picked out a pumpkin. Maddie and Cullen also recently got their flu shots, and neither of them cried a bit. The nurse said they were her easiest patients of the day.

Something Maddie is doing (6.5 years old): I volunteered to read as part of the Outstanding Otter Literacy program where we read about a character trait. I read about loyalty last year as well, and both times some kids thought that we were going to be talking about “royalty.” I’m always impressed by what some of the kids can express (and have greater respect for the teachers every time I visit the classroom!). Gabe read to a smaller group in Maddie’s classroom for Literacy Lunch. That program is weekly, so we will probably both be reading for that here and there. I also volunteered for Apple Day, which was a fun time in Maddie’s class. I was able to run the science experiment station where the kids predicted which liquid would slow browning of the apple slices. We were all surprised that milk worked better than lemon juice (though I’m not sure how that would taste!). Maddie loves having us come to her classroom! She’s very into getting her hair put into a ponytail lately. She requests that almost every day. Today she asked for “Anna braids” and continues to grow her hair so that one day she can have an “Elsa braid.” We haven’t gotten into a good routine with piano practice, but Maddie does seem to enjoy her lessons. We don’t want to push her too hard this young as we want her to enjoy it. Her class has been working on “how to” writing, and Maddie wrote about how to be a grandparent: “First, you have to be old. Next, you have to have kids. Last, you have to have a name.” My parents thought that was amusing! We had our first quarter conference with Maddie’s teacher, and she seems to be doing well. She’s been doing some pull out enrichment/AG classes for math. I was surprised that they weren’t doing the same thing for reading, but they don’t have any kids in the class at a high enough reading level. She is doing well with her reading and still has been enjoying the Arthur chapter books. Her spelling has been improving, and she does well on her weekly spelling tests. Maddie’s favorite thing to do outside at our house right now is to climb one of the trees in the front yard. The other day, Maddie very sternly pointed at herself in the mirror and said, “Hey! You’re a copycat!” Maddie still loves her Daddy, but she has shown some preferences towards me again lately. I think she’s evening out her parent preferences a bit. Both kids fight over who gets Mommy at bedtime these days.

Something Cullen is doing (4.5 years old): Cullen had bike day, and we realized that we really need to get him a bigger bike. He did great at bike day and loved having us cheer him on. Cullen is doing very well with his music lessons. He is demonstrating good rhythm and demonstrates his singing voice well. I’m so proud of him. He has always been very musical, so I’ve been excited to see where this adventure takes him. I hope that he enjoys music for a long time! Recently at school, Cullen said to one of his teachers, “I smell chicken nuggets.” The teacher said that they weren’t having chicken nuggets, but they were having a different type of nuggets. Cullen said, “Fish nuggets?” The teacher said, “yes, what kind?” Cullen replied, “Dead fish.” Cullen is doing a Lego class during the preschool day once a week, and he had his first one this week. He said that it was fun, and they learned about camels and made a little camel. A few days after a fire drill at school, Cullen woke up in the morning and said, “Last night, I dreamed that there was a fire on the playground at school. That was NOT a good dream. That is a dream that I think I’ll delete.” Cullen has been very sweet and loving with me lately. He also wants to be very tightly tucked into his bed where he looks like a mummy. Cullen is now able to operate the Wii U on his own, as we discovered one morning. He had taken out Gabe’s game and put in his own. He was playing on the game pad without the TV. He’s getting better and better at video games.

Something I’m looking forward to: For the rest of the month, we have…more swim lessons and music lessons, Gabe’s game night, a movie night with my book club friends, Cullen’s Lego class, our neighborhood block party, a chocolate 5k for Maddie and me, our 8th anniversary, some kid birthday parties, my book club, Halloween, pumpkin day at Maddie’s class, the fall parade at Cullen’s class.

Something captured: They really do love each other.

Maddie is 6.5

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

I always have a tough time getting myself organized for Maddie’s letters since they are “due” less than a month after Cullen’s. Here it is…Maddie’s 6.5 year old letter, a little over a month late. (more…)

The Sunday Somethings, 21sep14

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Something that makes me happy: That Board Gaming Thing. I think this was the best year yet…plus it didn’t hurt that we had an extra day of games and friends. I love seeing so many wonderful people that I only get to see at TBGT (and now the winter gaming event).

Something I’m thinking: I’m quite bad at writing these lately. It’s been 4 weeks since the last update!

Something happening around the house: Our dishwasher has been broken the past couple of weeks. Gabe tried a few things to repair it, but we’re going to have to either get someone to fix it or buy a new one. Hand washing dishes makes you really appreciate modern appliances!

Something I’m reading: I finally finished Words of Radiance. I felt like I was reading that one FOREVER. I loved it. Now I’m reading Attachments by Rainbow Rowell.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe also finished Words of Radiance. He’s now reading Ghost Brigades.

Something I’m watching: We haven’t been watching much, but we did enjoy Guardians of the Galaxy.

Something I’m playing: At TBGT, I played Giant Takenoko, Splendor (several times), Speculation, Castles of Mad King Ludwig (several times), Among the Stars, Whacky Wit (several times), One Night Ultimate Werewolf (a new playtest expansion), Trains, Steampark (twice), Istanbul (several times), another playtest that I am not supposed to reveal, Fury of Dracula, The Hanging Gardens, Diamonds (twice), La Boca, trivia contest, Imperial Settlers, Times Up, Camel (C)up, Dead of Winter, Concordia, Concept, Cards Against Humanity, Subdivision, and Tragedy Looper. Lots of great stuff this year! I can’t wait until the winter gaming event. My favorite game of TBGT this year was Castles of Mad King Ludwig. I also quite enjoyed Tragedy Looper but I am not sure how often I’d be able to get people to play with me. Gabe played Splendor, the playtest I mentioned, Castles of Mad King Ludwig, Istanbul, The Hanging Gardens, Imperial Settlers, Times Up, Camel (C)up, Dead of Winter, Concordia, Concept, Cards Against Humanity, Subdivision, Templar Intrigue, Terra Mystica, Tobogo, Galaxy Trucker, and Space Hulk Death Angel. We also played Splendor with Earl and Michelle, and Maddie has played Carcassonne: Hunters and Gatherers twice now. She’s so excited to be playing grown up games!

Something I’m creating: I have been working on Maddie’s letter (only a month late). I spent the day with Michelle and Paula doing crafty things. They were quilting most of the day. After I finished most of Maddie’s letter, they taught me how to use the sewing machine! I made a very cute, purple wallet! I’m excited and hope to make a pouch for the new iPhone the next time I get together with them.

Something about the grownups: Let’s see. Gabe’s been working the new consulting gig, and they haven’t given him too much work to do yet. Fortunately, he has a guaranteed number of hours that he can bill them, so that works for him! I had my trip to the NIH “for science” as part of the GEMS study for first line relatives of MS patients. That was interesting and boring at the same time. It was mostly like visiting a hospital, but it was fun to see the enthusiasm of those doing the study. Everyone also seemed grateful for my participation since this is a study that has no direct benefits to the participants. It was a long, full day of poking and prodding, questions, and tests. Some of the tests were interesting to me, and I got to see some advanced photos of my eyes. I still haven’t gotten the test results back, and I’m interested to see the MRI results. The MRI was 2 hours long with no music or TV. That machine is loud, even with the provided ear plugs! We both attended That Board Gaming Thing. We juggled the kids for the few few days, and then Kristin came to stay with the kids on Friday and Saturday nights. It was nice to be able to play games together while she was with the kids. We had a great time. I love that TBGT falls on or around my birthday every year. I call it my 5-day birthday party (well, this year, it used to be my 4-day birthday party). Gabe is happy for the start of football season, and he hopes to watch games with friends on some of the Sundays. I am excited that fall is starting up – my favorite season of the year! I ordered a new iPhone 6+. I hope that I won’t regret getting the giant phone!

Something about both kiddos: I really shouldn’t go so long before posting these. It’s so much harder to look back over the past month and figure out what has been going on. We went to the beach over labor day weekend. We had some bad experiences with the hotel itself, but we had a great time on our vacation. We met Gabe’s parents there, and we all had fun playing at the beach, eating tasty foods, and swimming in the pools. Both kids loved all of it. Gabe’s parents brought the ingredients for bubble tea, so that was a great treat as well. We are going to have to look for a new location to visit next time. We decided that we are NOT going back to the hotel after some rude experiences with hotel staff and the unfortunate experience of leaving expensive electronics at the hotel (and the trouble of getting those back). The kids had a great weekend with Kristin while we were at TBGT. Kristin had them doing all kinds of playing in the mud and rain, and they went hunting for handfuls of worms. The kids have been playing together pretty well lately! They have been playing happily for most of the morning today. Both Maddie and Cullen love tacos now, so we have taco night about once a week. It’s everyone’s favorite family meal! They both attended a friend’s birthday party at a park this weekend.

Something Maddie is doing (6.5 years old): She is now taking swimming lessons twice a week, and we’re already seeing a lot of improvements with her lessons. She loves it. She’s getting more confidence, and she has said that she wishes that she could take swimming lessons every day. I’m glad that she has found something that she wants to stick with (for now, anyway). When we were at the beach, she swam halfway across the pool by herself quite a bit. She gets a bit nervous at about that point and starts to flail a bit. I’m guessing that she’ll be doing really well the next time we go to a pool! Gabe said that she made it look easy swimming across the lesson area at her last lesson. She played in the waves some at the beach and always loves playing in the sand. Maddie is so happy at the beach. Maddie had a week of track out at her favorite art camp where they explored Egyptian art. We got Maddie’s Elsa dress, and Maddie is excited to be Elsa for Halloween. Maddie started taking private piano lessons, and that seems to be a much better fit for her than group lessons. We set up my old keyboard from my childhood with full sized keys (though it doesn’t have the full 8 octaves). She is very excited to be able to do her practice on it and play with it. We were glad that our first week back at school was homework free, but we’re now back into the regular routine of homework and nightly reading. I volunteered at her class this week, and I read them a book called Ish about loyalty. The class was a bit crazy, but it was fun to read to them. Maddie surprised me when I got back from TBGT with a very special birthday present – a board game that she had made herself! That seems to be her thing lately. She’s made several board games with different designs and mechanisms.

Something Cullen is doing (4.5 years old): Cullen had so much fun playing in the waves at the beach! We had wished that we had brought the little belt float for him so he could swim a bit more in the pool. We had to carry him most of the time, at least when we were in the deeper sections. He’s probably at the point where the belt float would give him a little more confidence. He just started swimming lessons once a week at the same place that Maddie is taking them. We didn’t want them in the same class, but they are currently in the same level of classes. Cullen started taking general music lessons aimed at young children. I think that the kids in his class are ages 4-6. He’s learning about various instruments, rhythms, music terminology, and singing. He loves it. He was a little nervous the first time. I’m excited that both kids seem to be enjoying their music classes. Cullen hasn’t been playing devices as much lately, so we’re glad to get him to do other things. We got Cullen’s Halloween costume as well. He tried it on this morning. He’s going to be Superman. As soon as he put on his costume, he wanted to show us how strong and fast he was. He’s excited about it.

Something I am struggling with: Writing up these (and Maddie’s letter!).

Something I’m looking forward to: Let’s see…this afternoon we’re having a playdate and dinner with Austin and Elizabeth. We have the usual swimming and music lessons. I have my book club this week and we’re discussing The Husband’s Secret. The kids have a birthday party to attend next weekend, and we’re having the first games night in a long time. October brings Gabe’s birthday, dinner and games with friends, our anniversary, a visit to the pumpkin patch (hopefully!), Halloween, and more fall fun.

Something captured: So much to choose from when there’s a whole month of updates! Here’s Maddie and Cullen with Maddie’s first game, The Ice Cream Hunt.

Cullen is 4.5!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

It’s time for Cullen’s next letter…he turned 4 and a half on July 22nd. (more…)

Disney Cruise 2014: Getting to the Ship

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

We decided due to airfare and schedules that we would drive to Port Canaveral. The drive is less than 9 hours, which isn’t much different than our drive to Kentucky. Maddie wasn’t too thrilled when she learned that we would be driving on her birthday, but she got over it. We made sure to emphasize how special it was for her to be on her way to a Disney cruise on her birthday!

Maddie and I spent most of the day together as she had two different appointments. In between her appointments, we went to the toy store so that she could pick out something for her birthday. She decided on a Frozen set with younger Anna and Elsa ice skating figures. We had only started to realize how much Frozen had influenced Maddie by this point! She got a special balloon for her birthday, and we headed to breakfast at her favorite place (where she always gets chocolate chip pancakes).

We ran back to the house to put all the luggage in the car, and then headed to her next appointment. After that appointment, we picked up Cullen. The cleaners were scheduled for that day. I liked the idea of coming back to a clean house, so this was fine with us! They were finishing up when we got back home, ready to pick up Daddy and hit the road.

We had a few last minute errands to run, so we didn’t get going quite as early as we had hoped. We picked up an adorable cake for Maddie to celebrate her birthday on the road. We were driving about halfway to Savannah, and we had very little traffic for most of the ride. We stopped for dinner which was subpar, but we enjoyed the cute cake! Maddie loved it.

We had a very easy time until about 30 miles from our hotel when we witnessed an accident that was a bit scary! Two 18-wheeler trucks smashed a small car between them right in front of us. Bits and pieces of debris from the car were flying everywhere. Thankfully, the smashed car didn’t lose control and ended up pulling over after pulling ahead of one of the trucks. We were shocked that neither truck stopped to be sure that they were ok. They had to have known that they smashed the car! That was crazy. We called the highway patrol to report the incident with all the information that we had. That left me shaking with adrenaline until we got to the hotel.

We stayed at the Savannah Airport Embassy Suites, and we were impressed. The suites were similar to another Embassy that we’ve stayed at that is tailored more to business travelers. It worked out fine for us, and the kids settled pretty quickly. They had both slept in the car a little bit.

In the morning, we had breakfast at the hotel. We were less than impressed with the breakfast, but it was “free” and adequate. We ran into more traffic issues on Friday between Savannah and Port Canaveral. We also encountered heavy downpours quite a few times, and the kids needed to stop for the potty numerous times. We arrived at The DoubleTree Hotel Cocoa Beach Oceanfront around 5pm. We chose this one because it was the most expensive option that we could pick for the same number of HHonors points. We weren’t impressed, but it was fine for one night. We didn’t take advantage of the location on the beach since it was rainy and overcast during our short stay (not to mention that we were exhausted from the drive).

We decided to get dinner in the hotel. The kids were definitely getting restless from all the driving in the car. They were pretty good on the drive down, but they were really trying our patience in the evening! We had two double beds. I shared a bed with Cullen while Gabe shared a bed with Maddie. I don’t know how often we would want to repeat this tactic! I didn’t sleep particularly well, though I’m not sure it was all Cullen’s fault. He was snoring, talking in his sleep, grinding his teeth, and taking up most of the bed, so that was certainly part of it! I had forgotten to put my phone in “do not disturb” mode, so I think some notifications kept waking me up, too. And I think I was just generally excited about the trip! I ended up being awake for the day and unable to go back to sleep by 4am.

Once everyone was awake and ready, we went downstairs for a free breakfast that we had been comped when our room wasn’t quite ready upon arrival. The “free” breakfast was pretty pathetic. Some fruit, cereal, pastries, and toast. The options were quite limited. I’m glad we didn’t end up paying for that breakfast! We knew we’d have plenty of food once we got onto the ship!

It was a dreary, drizzly morning, but we were all excited. We repacked some of our bags as we decided we probably wouldn’t be taking advantage of the swimsuits before getting the rest of our luggage later in the afternoon. It was good to lighten our load a little with our carry on bags.

We weren’t sure exactly where we needed to go and took a little longer to get there due to some wrong turns, but we made our way to the terminal right on time for the earliest check in time. It was exciting to get glimpses of our ship as we neared the terminals. We parked right across from the terminal in a spot that was less than 50 yards to the entrance. We were very pleased with the convenience, and parking was $120 for the week.

We registered up as early as we could, so we could board as early as possible. We were able to get the first boarding time. We always like to take advantage of the lunch on the ship as well as give ourselves a chance to get to know the ship a bit before departing. We had some lines to wait in to get through security, and some more lines to check in and get our boarding number. We had some time to wait until they started calling the boarding numbers, and the kids were antsy. Just as we experienced when waiting to get into the parks, the kids were bickering and fighting a bit. We wandered around, snapped a photo with Olaf (from Frozen, of course), and tried to keep the kids from driving us crazy.

We were excited when Minnie Mouse showed up in the terminal, and we made our way to her and got in line to meet her. This meant we were in another line, but it helped the wait for the ship go by quicker. While we were waiting for Minnie, Gabe’s parents showed up and were able to hop in line and get their picture, too. The timing was perfect as they showed up just as we were about to be next!

I like how the photographers are nice about suggesting different group shots (kids only, grandparents with kids, parents with kids, whole group) rather than making us feel guilty about doing multiple shots.

Gabe’s parents went to get checked in and get their cards. While they were in that line, they started calling boarding numbers. Ours was #2, and they go through the numbers very quickly. We went through the ears and had to wait in another line to get our boarding photo.

I’m a fan of these types of pictures, and we already knew we were going to buy the photo CD at the end of the cruise. Our boarding pictures turned out pretty well, too!

After our photo, we were able to board the ship…and I’ll save the rest of the official parts of Day 1 for the next post!

Happy 6th Birthday to Maddie!

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

A bit more delay getting this one out, but at less than a month after her birthday (and a cruise right after), I’ll take it. Here’s the latest letter to Maddie. (more…)

The Sunday Somethings, 09mar14

Sunday, March 9th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: A sunny springlike weekend. I’m so very done with winter like every other sane person.

Something I’m thinking: I need to get Maddie’s letter done, and then I can start working on fun summary posts from the cruise.

Something I’m hoping: I hope that Maddie’s tracking back into school this week goes smoothly.

Something happening around the house: Gabe and I went through every nook and cranny, closet, and drawer this weekend in our master bedroom and master bathroom. We purged a ton of stuff to give to friends, donate to charity, or just throw in the garbage. I’m not sure we’ll have the energy to do this during the week, but we’re going to try to go area by area.

Something I’m reading: I’m still reading the third book of The Demon Cycle.

Something Gabe is reading: He’s still reading Pandora’s Star.

Something I’m watching: We caught up on The Walking Dead and The Amazing Race, but we are behind on other shows.

Something I’m playing: Sadly, Candy Crush.

Something I’m creating: I’ve been working on finishing up Maddie’s letter. I started it a few days before our vacation, but I haven’t had much energy to work on it since then.

Something tasty: I’ve been eating just about anything I see this week. I haven’t gotten out of cruise eating mode, and I’ve been comfort eating.

Something about both kiddos: We had Maddie’s birthday party today, and both kids painted a big birthday cake on an art canvas. All of the paintings turned out cute, and I loved seeing all the different styles. Since getting back from the cruise, we’re doing a ticket system with the kids. We are rewarding good behaviors with tickets, especially areas that we’re trying to improve like dinner table manners and staying in their beds all night. They can turn in their tickets for device time. Maddie also proposed that she could get a new toy if she traded in 50 tickets. Considering that they have many opportunities to earn tickets during the day, this seems reasonable. The system is working really well for Maddie. I’m not sure it is working that great for Cullen, but we will see. He’s going to need some tickets if he wants to play that iPad!

Something Maddie is doing (6 years old): Maddie was a little nervous with the painting instruction at the party. I haven’t seen her do her usual art camp classes, so I don’t know if she always has a hard time getting started. I know she’s always afraid of doing something wrong or making a mistake, so she doesn’t dive right in. She did great, though, and she had ideas of how she wanted it to be. She’s not the best party host. Her friends seemed excited to see her, and she didn’t do much to greet them or tell them thank you for coming at the end. We’ll have to work on that. I know it is because she gets overwhelmed in those situations. It was even overwhelming for me towards the end of the party! I think Maddie had a great time, and of course she enjoyed opening all the presents when we got home. She’s less excited about working on the dreaded thank you notes, of course. Maddie had track out camp this week at the drama camp. They do a lot of art projects with making the sets and costumes, and then they perform a play at the end of the week. The camp has been pretty smart at giving Maddie only a few lines so far. We were proud of her, and I think she really enjoys it. We enjoyed seeing the play with other families. Maddie went to her first gymnastics class with Sophie, and she did so well! I was surprised at how well she participated at her first class, and she already wants to take gymnastics for a long time so that she can learn the uneven bars like the big girls. The place that we picked seems to focus on recreational gymnastics, which is what we wanted versus competitive gymnastics. Maddie’s first day back at school is tomorrow, and they will be celebrating Dr. Seuss this week with a different theme for each day (crazy socks, pajamas, wacky clothes, etc).

Something Cullen is doing (4 years old): We were glad to get Cullen back to his regular routine, though the week was a little out of routine due to more winter weather early in the week and sickness at the end. Cullen so desperately needs naps, but we cannot get him to take them at home. He stayed up too late last night (which was partially our fault), and then he woke up way too early for the daylight savings time change. We expected that they might sleep a little later after being up late, but he didn’t. He was up around 6am, and we were REALLY not ready to get up yet. Really? 6am? I mean that is like 5am before the time change, right? I don’t know. I can’t do time change math. Cullen was sent home early on Thursday due to a fever. His fever got pretty high on Thursday evening, and we took him to the doctor on Friday morning. He was diagnosed with strep. He was much better within 24 hours of the antibiotic. He’s been in another one of his sensitive moods. When he gets unhappy about something, he immediately starts to throw a fit. We’ll have to watch for times when he doesn’t react poorly and start rewarding those times with tickets. Maybe that will help?? His outbursts are loud and frustrating. I think a lot of his outbursts have to do with not having naps.

Something I am struggling with: Well, I’ve discovered that a lot of my dizziness, fatigue, and related symptoms two years ago was likely due to that cruise. I’m experiencing the same things again. It’s frustrating, and it means that I won’t likely be able to cruise again. When I found information on Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, I related to every bit of it (more information here). It’s been frustrating and depressing…and we’re all disappointed to never be able to cruise again. We had so much fun on the Disney cruise!

Something I learned: Unfortunately, all about Mal de Debarquement Syndrome.

Something I’m looking forward to: Maddie’s gymnastics place has a break this week, so we don’t have gymnastics this week. It will pick back up next week. Gabe has more fantasy drafts over the next couple of weeks. Most of them are online, at least. We have games night this weekend.

Something captured: The artists at Maddie’s party!

The Sunday Somethings, 02mar14 and 23feb14

Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

Something that makes me happy: A wonderful vacation with my family!

Something I’m thinking: We are thinking about when we can go on another Disney cruise.

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping that we can get the kids back into routine this week. We had some challenging moments in the last few days, especially today during our recovery from the trip.

Something happening around the house: Well, it was clean when we arrived home, but we fixed that with just one day home.

Something I’m reading: I didn’t get any time to read while on the cruise, so I’m still reading the third book of The Demon Cycle.

Something Gabe is reading: He is still reading Pandora’s Star.

Something I’m watching: We’re catching up on The Amazing Race since it started while we were on vacation. While on vacation, we watched Disney live entertainment and the Frozen Sing-a-long version.

Something I’m playing: We did a lot of the Mid Ship Detective while we were on board the Disney Fantasy. Gabe and I participated in several trivia sessions on the ship.

Something tasty: We had a lot of tasty food on the ship, though no one thing in particular stands out.

Something about both kiddos: We had an amazing week! We drove down to Port Canaveral, stopping at Savannah overnight at a hotel on Thursday. We went the rest of the way on Friday, and we went to the cruise terminal on Saturday morning so that we could get onto the Disney Fantasy with the first groups of passengers! The kids did great in the car on the way. It’s a relief that they are decent travelers. We listened to the Frozen soundtrack over and over. Our whole family has been excited about it. We saw the sing-a-long version of the movie on the ship. I’ll have to write up all of the summaries for our days. Highlights included the beautiful beach in the US Virgin Isles, the Aladdin stage show, the pools and Aquaduck, midship detective, meeting so many characters, pirate night and the fireworks, and getting so many awesome photos. And then there was the incredibly lucky, special thing where we were selected as The Magical Family of the Week. This meant that our special friend in guest services showered us with gifts every night of the cruise. That was amazing. We were thrilled that the kids had so much fun playing in the water at the pool and even in the ocean. I see a trip to Great Wolf Lodge in our future! They both loved the hot tub, and I appreciated that as it often wasn’t warm enough for me to want to swim in the regular pool! Another great thing about Disney is that just about any Disney movie ever made is available on demand. Cullen and Maddie mostly wanted to watch Lilo and Stitch (either the first or second one). I’m not sure why they are so fascinated with Stitch. The kids went to the kids club once, and they had fun. They didn’t want to do it again (and it was challenging to talk them into it the first time). Oh, well. Maybe they will be ready for it next time.

Something Maddie is doing (6 years old): Maddie absolutely loved the Aquaduck. She did it about 10 times, and she even wanted to go with Grandpa on it (though Grandpa never did it). Maddie couldn’t wait to meet Anna (from Frozen) and Sofia the first. She was very excited about both of them, and she was able to meet both of them twice. Anna was one of the most popular greets on the ship. Maddie’s birthday was the day that we left for the trip. We celebrated with a tiny 4″ cake on the way down to Savannah. I spent the day with her before we left, and I took her to her favorite restaurant (Shiny Diner) and to the toy store to pick out a toy. She picked a play set with Anna and Elsa as young kids. She acted out the songs with her figures in the car, and she used them to explain the movie to Grandma. She also wanted to show Anna her dolls. The nightly Mickey bar was another highlight for Maddie. She still didn’t like being called a princess some of the time, but she accepted it other times. Plus, she was dressed as Sofia twice, and she absolutely adores Anna. Shockingly, she agreed to get her picture with the four princesses that Cullen wanted to meet.

Something Cullen is doing (4 years old): Cullen says that the Aquaduck was one of his favorite moments of the trip, but he never did want to go again. He said he might do it again when he’s a grown up. From the looks of his photo taken on the Aquaduck, I think he was quite scared! He is funny about things like that. He’ll say it’s awesome, but clearly he has no intention of getting on it again! Cullen didn’t really nap on the trip, but he fell asleep a couple of times at shows or other random moments. We tried to get him to take a nap a few times on the trip, but it was futile. He just won’t nap, but he sorely needs it. By the last few days, the trip definitely caught up to him. Cullen loved swimming in the pool and playing in Nemo’s reef splash area. His highlight for characters was probably Stitch. He seemed to really enjoy the midship detective. He always loves meeting the Princesses, and we did the line where he could meet four at once.

Something I am struggling with: We’re trying to figure out a token/rewards system to curtail device time and reward good behaviors. The kids are particularly troublesome at the dinner table.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: we tried a Disney cruise, and we can’t wait to go on another!

Something I learned: I learned why people want to cruise with Disney over and over again.

Something I’m looking forward to: It’s hard to think about getting back to our regular life! Maddie is starting gymnastics this week. I hope that she will like it. She definitely needs some type of physical outlet, and rollerblading isn’t going to work with our schedule this time with so many Saturday snow make up days. Maddie’s birthday party is next weekend. Gabe has some fantasy drafts in the next two weeks. We have dinner and games with friends. We don’t have too much going on next week, except for games night next Saturday.

Something captured: One of our many, many photos from the trip.

The Sunday Somethings, 16feb14 and 09feb14

Sunday, February 16th, 2014

Something that makes me happy: A weekend of playing games! I wasn’t sure how the weekend was going to work with the logistics of the kids, but Gabe and I both were able to play quality games last weekend.

Something I’m thinking: I’m glad that it didn’t snow last weekend and make a mess of the gaming weekend…

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping we’re done with snow for the year. Two big snow events is more than we can handle in the south. We now need to make up 5 more days of school, and the make up days are running low. I’m wondering if they are going to add time to our daily schedule versus make up the days.

Something happening around the house: Twice this month, we’ve been stuck in the house all together for several days waiting for snow to thaw.

Something I’m reading: I finished The Returned. The book wasn’t all that great, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the show. I’m now reading the third book of The Demon Cycle, The Daylight War.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished Sand, and now he’s reading Pandora’s Star.

Something I’m watching: We’re keeping up with Hart of Dixie, The Walking Dead, and Downton Abbey. We’re also watching Elementary and Sleepy Hollow, but I think we’re behind on those. We are still recording S.H.I.E.L.D., but we are about 10 episodes behind on that one. Oh! And we went to see The LEGO Movie yesterday, and we all loved it!

Something I’m playing: Gabe and I have sadly been playing Candy Crush (as have the kids). I swore I wasn’t going to play that game, but here we are. We played a ton of games last weekend. Gabe played Lords of Waterdeep (with expansions), Bora Bora, Amerigo, The Cave, Freedom: The Underground Railroad, Spyrium, and Geistesblitz 2.0. I played Shitenno, Village (with 5 players, but without the expansion parts), Village (with 5 players and the expansion), Glass Road, Rampage, Belfort, Lords of Waterdeep (with expansions), Lords of Waterdeep (without expansions), Bora Bora, and Spyrium. Lords of Waterdeep was our favorite game of all the ones we played.

Something I’m creating: I did a few more pages in our 2013 photobook. I have come close to finishing it before the cruise…something I was hoping that I could do so I’d be ready to work on the cruise book when we got back!

Something tasty: Snow cream! When it snowed heavily this week, we put out a bowl and made fresh snow cream. We all thought it was tasty (except for Cullen who liked it well enough but didn’t rave about it like the rest of us).

Something about both kiddos: We knew the winter storm was coming, so I think that we bought two of the last two sleds in the area on Monday. We got two of the saucer type. We ended up with over 6 inches of snow before it turned to sleet, and the next day we got even more snow (though I don’t think it added too much to the pile). We had more than enough snow to sled on the road. The kids had so much fun! Their first time sledding was a success. Then, we went next door for dinner to celebrate our neighbor’s birthday. We had a fun snow day. I was glad that the school system cancelled schools ahead of the storm, as that prompted me to work from home. We heard so many stories of people taking hours to get home or having to stay in hotels for the night. We were thankful to be safely home together. The kids were excited to make snow cream and especially liked the mini chocolate chips and sprinkles mixed into it. The kids loved being in the hotel for the games weekend. I can’t wait to see how they like the cruise ship! We all had fun with Cullen’s birthday party. We invited two of Cullen’s classmates to see The LEGO Movie and go out to dinner. We already want to see it again. That’s definitely one we’ll have to get on DVD. The kids had a good Valentine’s Day. Both celebrations were postponed on Friday. Maddie had hers on Saturday, and Cullen’s will be tomorrow. We gave them a sweet Teddy Bear Valentine’s Lego set that they put together in the morning. We also had heart shaped pink pumpkin pancakes for breakfast, and we ended the day with heart shaped chocolate chip cookies. Both kids are doing great with playing video games and have gotten better at playing Mario 3D Worlds. They also love watching us play, if we can stand the constant commentary from them. “Get the bell! Don’t fall into the lava! Daddy got dead!” The kids were both home for Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. They did a pretty good job entertaining themselves so that Gabe and I could work.

Something Maddie is doing (5.5 years old): Maddie’s 6th birthday is this week. At first, she was disappointed and thought it was “not fair” that we have to drive on her birthday. She has since embraced it. I mean what other kids get to drive to a Disney cruise on their birthday?? Maddie had one dance class from her hip hop / tumbling class, but they missed another one due to the winter weather on Thursday. She’ll miss both of the make up classes due to vacation. She also missed her last two rollerblading classes of this session. We wanted to sign her up for more rollerblading since she could sign up for the advanced class this time. Unfortunately, we’d miss too many of the classes for this session. We’ll have to try again for the summer sessions. Maddie is officially tracked out (after her Saturday make up day), and she’s going to art camp for a few days this week before our vacation.

Something Cullen is doing (4 years old): Cullen had fun with his birthday party and especially enjoyed getting presents from his friends. Cullen has been going to sleep each night in our bed, and then he gets carried to his room once he’s asleep. This has become quite the bad habit! We are going to have to do a reset on this after vacation. Cullen has been playing a lot with Legos, especially the minifigures. He also loves the Ninjago spinner game.

Something I am struggling with: I’m feeling like I’m not prepared for our cruise, but I know a lot of that is due to not needing to do all that much to prepare for cruising. So much of it is already mapped out for you! I’m debating whether we want to do an excursion on St. Maarten. Originally, we had decided against it, but I’m thinking we might want to do a tour.

Something I’m doing towards my goals: I’ve been working on the 2014 photobook, and we’re about to go on a Disney cruise! Two things on my goals list.

Something I’m looking forward to: Our Disney cruise!!!! Gabe has a dinner with a friend, I have lunch with a friend, and I have a rescheduled hair appointment. Maddie’s birthday is also this week. Big week for us!

Something captured: Silly kids at dinner last night.

The Sunday Somethings, 26jan14 and 02feb14

Sunday, February 2nd, 2014

Something that makes me happy: Seeing the kids play in the snow (but I’m not so excited about making up snow days!).

Something I’m thinking: I’m thinking usually this time of year isn’t too busy, but we’re crazy busy this year. Only part of it is the cruise that we’re taking in a few weeks.

Something I’m hoping: I’m hoping that we do not have any more crazy wintery weather. I’m officially ready for Spring.

Something happening around the house: The house has been in a perpetual state of disaster with all of us at home a bit more than normal. Poor Gabe is used to a nice, quiet house during the work week. He’ll be happy to get back to that!

Something I’m reading: I finished The Selection. I also finished Sand, and I didn’t like it was well as Wool. It was still entertaining enough. I’m now reading The Returned, and I want to see the show.

Something Gabe is reading: Gabe finished The Golem and the Jinni. He started and finished The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He’s now reading Sand.

Something I’m watching: I’m not *really* watching the Super Bowl, but I am rooting for certain point combinations since we played a squares game at the Super Bowl party.

Something I’m playing: We have played some new games with the kids lately. They received several board games at Christmas. We have been playing Robot Turtles, Max the Cat, Too Many Monkeys, and Gobblet Gobblers. I’m a little sad to report that all four of us are playing Candy Crush. All four of us have also been playing Mario 3D Worlds on the Wii U.

Something I’m creating: I finished Cullen’s 4th birthday letter and I’ve been working on our 2013 photobook. I really want to finish it before our cruise.

Something tasty: I’ve been using MyFitnessPal to track calories, but I gave myself a holiday today since we went to a Super Bowl party. We had all kinds of yummy stuff there.

Something about both kiddos: The kids were so excited about the snow. We got about 3 or 4 inches, which is more than we have gotten in more than 3 years. I don’t think either kid really remembers our last “big” snow. The snow was very powdery, so they didn’t get to make a snowman. They still attempted to make snowballs, and they mostly threw them at Daddy. It was hilarious to see the powder fly. They were so happy. The snow stayed around on our grass for a couple of days, so they were able to play the next day as well. Last weekend, the monthly book club meeting was a field trip to see a play. We saw Hansel and Gretel. The next day, we went to see the Pinkalicious musical. That was a lot better than we expected! Gabe and I even enjoyed it. It had some humor for the adults, and it seemed to be better quality than several of the other plays from the kid series. Since my last update, we’ve taken the kids to lunch twice in the cafe at work. The first time was on Maddie’s holiday for MLK, and the second was one of the “snow” days when our roads were clear (but roads in other parts of the county were not).

Something Maddie is doing (5.5 years old): Maddie was probably the most excited of all of us to get snow. She didn’t have to go to school on Tuesday in anticipation of the snow to start falling at about noon. Unfortunately, the snow didn’t start falling until 5pm Tuesday night. We got about 3-4 inches overnight, so of course school was closed again on Wednesday. Temperatures were quite cold, so of course that means ice on the roads in the south. Our roads were fine, so we weren’t totally stuck at home for four days at least. Maddie’s school was again closed on Thursday AND Friday. So now we have FOUR Saturday make up days. I guess that’s one disadvantage to year round school! The first make up day was supposed to be yesterday, but that day got cancelled for continued icy roads. Maddie has school for the next two Saturdays. This isn’t going to be very convenient for us, but we will figure it out. I’m disappointed that she is going to miss her last two rollerblading lessons. She has been doing so well in that class, and her coaches felt that she could move up to the advanced class. We definitely want to sign her up for that, but we may have to skip a session given the number of Saturday plans (and snow make up days) that we have. Maddie celebrated her 100th day at school. I had fun volunteering in the classroom and manned the fruit loop necklace station. The kids also had a station where they built towers from 100 cups, one where they made their afternoon snack (10 of each of the 10 items), one with a 100-day book (with 10 items on 10 pages), and one with a coloring, cutting and pasting activity. It was such a fun morning, and Maddie loves having me in the classroom. We went to lunch after where I watched her eat lunch. I love the opportunity to volunteer, and I know that we will have less and less opportunities as she gets older! Maddie has been enjoying her dance/tumbling class more, but she doesn’t seem to love the hip hop part of it. She looks so nervous and doesn’t participate in that part. She wants to sign up for a gymnastics class with Sophie, so I hope we’ll be able to make that happen after our vacation. Maddie has a project at school where she was supposed to interview a community helper. She decided she wanted to interview a teacher, so she interviewed our neighbor. She is supposed to dress up as her community helper and do a presentation tomorrow. I made her an id badge on a lanyard in a card holder so she looks more official. Otherwise, she’s just going to look like she does any other day!

Something Cullen is doing (4 years old): Cullen is now four years old! We brought cupcakes to his classroom for his birthday. He was so cute when his classmates were singing to him. They all surrounded him while they sang, and he was grinning ear to ear. I loved that. He loved having us there, and of course the cupcakes were a bit hit. That night, we went out to eat with his BFF. Melissa and Jason were able to join us as well. The kids got a little crazy in the restaurant. He requested Zoe’s Kitchen as he loves the “kid roll ups” there (basically a rolled up chicken quesadilla). We had a little cake, so Cullen had quite a few treats that day! The cake had chocolate frosting, and he got a little crazy after it. We’re going to avoid chocolate as well as we can for a while. He’s sensitive to it (maybe it’s the caffeine?). We’ve also made a direct correlation between strawberries and reddened cheeks. We have noticed this before, but it has been more than confirmed with his recent exposures. We’re not sure whether we will completely avoid them, but we are considering taking him to an allergist for their opinion. We know that there are other things in his diet that cause a rash type reaction, but we haven’t figured them all out just yet. Cullen said the other day, “when I grow up like a Mommy, I want hair like yours. No, wait, I want to be just like you! Then there will be two Kerrys.” Cullen always wants to sit next to the pianist in the cafe. He had a great time on Friday, and the pianist played some special songs for him. Cullen is still obsessed with playing Daddy’s iPad. We’re trying to limit his time. We’ve thought about coming up with some system where he can earn iPad time for good behaviors and tasks around the house. He’s been a sweet boy, and he will often tell me that he loves me. Every morning, when we leave the house, he tells Daddy, “Goodbye! I love you! I hope you have a good day at work.”

Something I’m looking forward to: We are thinking about the Lego Minibuild this Tuesday. I have a rescheduled book club meeting (since we had to cancel last Wednesday due to the weather). Maddie has another dance/tumbling class. We have a gaming weekend, so we’re trying to figure out the logistics of how we’re going to get to play games and manage the kids. Cullen has a birthday party to attend and Maddie has school on Saturday. Next week, I have a haircut, and Maddie has an early release day. She has school on that Saturday, and we are officially celebrating Cullen’s birthday with The Lego Movie with a couple of his buddies and their families. My parents are coming to visit and celebrate with us.

Something captured: