The Cliche Note to My 18 Year Old Self…

lori and me

My 18 year old self…

I know, I know…everyone is writing one of these in their blogs.  They’ve become cliche…BUT…

I have been thinking a lot this week about perfecting time travel and going back to warn my teen self about the years to come. I would have laughed at you if you’d told me just a few short years after high school graduation I would be dealing with a close family member being incarcerated, cancer, strokes, the death of a parent, creating a multi-generational household all while managing to stay married, finish a PhD, getting tenure and the most amazing journey of parenthood.

I know, I know…we grow through our trials.  We become stronger people.  We learn how to handle the world effectively when we are challenged.  There are some days I just call bull crap on that line of thinking. Suffering sucks.  This idea of getting no more than we can handle is a joke.  And, I’d like to knock out the next smiling, happy go lucky person who tells me that garbage.  The truth is that pushing through wears you out.

I’d first warn myself not to make myself crazy wondering why. There is no “why.”  There is no rhyme or reason to the way some events unfold.  Some is just bad genetics.  Some is just bad decisions.  Bad decisions made by you, bad decisions made by others, bad decisions made by the man on the moon pulling all the strings.  Hell, I don’t know–there just is no why so don’t ask.

I would also say you are going to be scared–a lot–18 year old self.  That’s the thing about challenging times.  They do not come with instruction manuals.  No one can tell you everything is going to be ok and if they do they are lying because they have no clue.  You will be scared on that first trip to visit your family member, you will be terrified with every new doctor’s appointment for your father with cancer, you will be scared making big decisions about the future of your father, you will be terrified as you try to parent a precious daughter.  You will be scared that your spouse is secretly considering putting you in a straight jacket when you become just a little too much to handle.  Fear comes with the territory.  It is normal.  Just do not let fear paralyze you.  Push through…whoops…just had to slap myself for saying that one.

Sleep is overrated.  Don’t expect to get a whole lot of that over the next 18 years.  Whether it is late night worrying, cramming and writing for your PhD, caring for your parents, up and down with Munchkin and just taking the only minutes you can with your husband even if that means it is 2:00 in the morning–just don’t expect much sleep.  Enjoy it now.  Savor it.  I envy you.

Keep your circle of people tight.  You will need each other.  Not everyone deserves to be in the circle.  This is going to be a hard lesson.  This will break your heart because there are people who are going to let you down.  People you never thought would let you down will.  You will learn who is truly there for you 18 year old self.  You will also learn who is sucking you dry and only want you when you can do something for them.  Cut them out.  Cut them lose.  Say goodbye and just go on.

Keep your family closer.  Do not take for granted that they will be there the next day.  Call, text, Facebook, Instagram, send letters–just do whatever it takes–stay in touch.  They will be your backbone, sounding board and cushion.  They will love you unconditionally.  Your aunts, uncle,  and cousins will circle you with love in the hard days ahead.

Marry the guy you meet in the bread aisle at Wal-Mart.  Trust me.  Marry that guy.

Finally, 18 year old self, you will survive.  Not only will you survive but you will thrive.  You will become freaking Super Woman.  No matter what comes your way you will figure it out and you will handle it.  You will take care of business.  In 18 years you will be sitting on the couch of the house you bought with that guy from Wal-Mart, mother to a wonderful 4 year old daughter, caring for your mother, mourning your father, cheering your sister on and doing a job you love.  You will also start daring to see a calmer future.  You will start to see more light in that tunnel.

Most of all, you will feel hope.

Oh, and surprise that you freaking survived it all…

Little Miss Fix It

cookie

I don’t think there has ever been a time in my life that I haven’t been Little Miss Fix It.  Even as a child, I wanted to “fix” whatever problem arose.  The roots of this are clear to me.  Not that I’m “blaming” my parents, but for me, this need to fix things came from playing peacemaker before their divorce and then during the rocky time after their divorce.  I think a lot of first born, divorced kids probably fall into this role.  For better or for worse, I am Little Miss Fix It.

When there was a problem with my sister.  I got the call.  When there was a problem with my father.  I got the call.  If there was a problem with my mother.  I got the call.  And, I always went.  Dropped everything and went.  Drove across country a time or two, but I always went.

I have mixed emotions about being the family Little Miss Fix It.  I know that the curve balls I’ve been thrown have made me a kick ass woman.  I know I can deal with just about any situation given to me.  And BELIEVE ME, I’ve had some situations in my short life that if you would have told me 15 years ago I’d have to deal with I’d never have believed you.  The responsibility has made me motivated, driven and goal orientated.

On the other hand, it can be a very lonely place.  The people around you assume that because you have handled so much and have been successful that you don’t need the encouragement, the “how are you REALLY doing” questions, or even to ask me, “Can I help YOU with anything.”  Even Little Miss Fix It needs the out of the blue, “You’re doing a great job”  to help them keep going.  Just because it’s perceived that we don’t need as much help and can handle everything know that we get worn out too.

Being Little Miss Fix It is also hard when there are situations that no matter what you do you cannot change the outcome.  It can’t be fixed. I couldn’t fix my Dad’s cancer.  No amount of phone calls, knocking on doors or bargains could have fixed the outcome.  It is a hard pill to swallow.  A very hard, bitter pill indeed.

I’m thinking about this need to fix things tonight because my Mom is sick.  She’s been sick all week.  It started with a sinus infection that her meds didn’t take care of and now she is pretty weak.  I hate this helpless feeling of not being able to fix her.  Even though I know we will see a doctor tomorrow, my imagination runs wild with, “What if I can’t fix this either?  What if it is something major and I have missed it–AGAIN?”

I’m happy to have Mom living with us.  But, I do find myself watching everything she does so very closely to make sure she is “normal” and healthy.  I live in fear of another “I can’t fix it moment” with a parent. I guess I will probably do that for some time.

Being a part of the sandwich generation brings on a whole host of fears and new problems that I never thought of when it comes to taking care of a parent.  So, if you know a “Little Miss Fix It” take some time and reach out to them. Tell them they are doing great.  Ask them if they need anything. Send them a little happy out of the blue.  Believe me, they will appreciate the gesture more than you will ever know.

Our Normal…

grinch“Mama, can you stay at home with me for a little while and Daddy work?  Just for a few days and then we can go back to normal.”  –Munchkin Age 4

When J and I made the decision that he would quit his job to stay home with Munchkin I was thrilled.  There was never a question of whether I would quit my job.  I didn’t want to.  I have a rewarding career that I love.  I also have a demanding career and we had concerns about juggling two careers.  We made a decision that worked best for us and the family we were creating.  J and I both knew there would be pros and cons of the family structure we were settling on.  What we didn’t really expect were some of the reactions and comments we’ve received from people.  As a Sociologist, I find the comments we’ve received fascinating.  I’m going to share some of the most common comments we’ve had over the last 4.5 years and our reaction to the good, bad and perplexing things people have said to us.

1.  Munchkin was born in the middle of the recession.  Hubby, at the time, was employed in one of those hard hit fields.  We were fortunate that he had a job, but when he quit many people made the assumption that he was only home with Munchkin because of the national economic situation.  Now, for many men during this time this was true.  They were home with their children because they were unable to find work. They were actively seeking to reenter the workforce.  People were seriously perplexed when they learned J had made a conscious decision to become a “stay at home” Daddy.  We’ve had people who really just did not know how to respond to our situation.  The look on their face is priceless.  You’d think we were swingers the way they reacted to us.

2.  The next comment really kind of pisses me off.  Now, I think J is father of the year.  But, I know he would be the same involved father whether he had a job in the labor force or not.  I get really riled up when people put J on a pedestal like he’s some alien concept only found in museums–“OOO, over here we will see the involved father who does everything–his daughter’s hair, plays princesses, paints toe nails.”  These are things that, I am SURE, fathers all over are doing with their daughters and that mothers also do ALL THE TIME.  I’m sorry.  If he was not an involved and active father and family member, I’ll be honest, we’d have a REAL problem.  I EXPECT involvement from my partner and he expects that from me.  Do we really think so little of the men who are out there being great Dads all the time?  Wait, I know the answer.  I only have to watch TV commercials that still make it on TV making Dads out to be incompetent.

3.  “We know who wears the pants in THAT family.” This one is a dig at me.  I am driven.  I am ambitious.  I’ve been called a bitch because I have a very direct and no nonsense approach to work.  J knew every single one of these things before he ever married me and LONG before we made the decision he would quit his job to care for our child.  I did not marry a limp noodle.  I married a strong willed and intelligent man.  I resent when people assume I have somehow dominated him because I bring home the pay check and he stays home with our girl.  But, as a sociologist it is a fascinating look at the still strong gendered family expectations, norms and roles.

4.  “I just don’t think I would want to miss my child growing up.”  This one too is directed at me.  The last time I checked the majority of women are in the labor force.  I do not understand this level of guilt we place on women who work when 70% OF WOMEN WITH CHILDREN UNDER 18 ARE WORKING OUTSIDE THE HOME! (United States Department of Labor)  Many, many women do not have the choice–they MUST work away from home or their children do not eat.  Yet, we hear all the time from the media, well intentioned and ill intentioned friends, family and acquaintances, and even our politicians that our children will be socially damaged because we work away from home.  I call bull not only because I am a work away from home Mama but because the research does not support this notion either.

5.  J is hounded all the time with the question, “When are you going back to work?”  My initial response is, “When he damn well decides thank you very much.”  What if we decide it is best for him to stay home even when she is in school?  Will people look at him like a bum because he is a man that is not “working” and his wife is bringing home the bacon?  But, I think the first time he got that question Munchkin was only a few months old.  He now tells people he is working on his degree (which he is) and people have a response that works for them because he’s not “just” staying at home. Because, you know, keeping track of and teaching a preschooler is so easy.

I could go on and on about this subject.  The family structure we’ve created has been one of the most fascinating sociological experiences of our lives just in how people react to us.  I’ve said for a long time my next research project will be with families like ours because given the number of times we’ve encountered the exchanges above, I know they are getting the same questions and reactions.

Our normal works for us.  We are all just trying to make it and raise kids who are not little jerks.  We should be supportive of each other because raising a family is hard enough without the added guilt, comments, critiques and just down right dumb things people can say to others who are not doing things like they do.

I Will Be Here…

wedding 1

Oh Happy Day!

Time for the mushiest gushiest blog post of 2015!  I am going to make you nauseated with this post.  So, take your Pepto and read on!

J and I celebrate 13 years of marriage this month.  We met when we were 19 and 20 years old.  Three years later he popped the question while I was in my bathrobe cooking rice (only because he was too excited to wait until our dinner plans that evening–kind of sweet!) and I said yes without a hesitation.  Boy, we thought we had it all figured out.  We had a five year plan of exactly what we were going to accomplish.  I believe that first five year plan also had a monthly calendar to keep us on track.  Isn’t that too funny?!

Needless to say our five year plan never materialized because life happened.  Amazing experiences, deep pain and events we could not have fathomed came to our door.  In 13 short years we have dealt with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.  We have adjusted our plans many times over and we have somehow managed to not only stay married, but keep laughing and loving each other through all life gives us.  I’m not the easiest person to live with and love at times and he certainly has his moments too.  We fight, pick, nag, irritate and get on each others nerves.  However, there is no one I’d rather fight with and no one I’d rather share my joys and problems.

When I say my hubby is the glue that keeps us together I mean it.  This doesn’t just mean he keeps our little family together, but he is there for my family as well.  Anything my mother, sister or father have ever needed he has not hesitated but has jumped in and done what was needed.  When we cared for Dad last year there were just certain things that a father doesn’t want his daughters to have to deal with.  J took care of my Dad with such patience and tenderness it made me cry and still makes me cry.  When it was decided Mom needed to move in with us–he never hesitated.  He just started figuring out how to best arrange the house.  And maybe one day I will share all he has done for my sister, but that’s another story.

He is a phenomenal father.  I came home yesterday and he’d taught Munchkin the wrestling move the “ground and pound.”  There I was watching my little girl in her Rapunzel costume doing wrestling moves.  It was hysterical.  They do fun science projects together, lots of outside play time, reading time, cuddling time.  To me, he is father of the year every day.

He is my best friend.  He is my confidant.  He is my rock.  He is the kick in the butt when I need it.  And somehow, he still sees me as the 23 year old he married and not the nearly 40 year old with new lines, curves and bumps.  I also love his newly graying hair.

On our wedding day we had a family friend sing a Steven Curtis Chapman song, “I will be here.”  He has lived up to this song in every way over the last 13 years.  Happy Anniversary, J.  I love you more than I can put into words.

“I Will Be Here”

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the sun does not appear
I… I will be here
If in the dark we lose sight of love
Hold my hand and have no fear
‘Cause I… I will be hereI will be here
When you feel like being quiet
When you need to speak your mind
I will listen
And I will be here
When the laughter turns to crying
Through the winning, losing and trying
We’ll be together
‘Cause I will be here

Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the future is unclear
I… I will be here
As sure as seasons are made for change
Our lifetimes are made for years
So I… I will be here

I will be here
And you can cry on my shoulder
When the mirror tells us we’re older
I will hold you
And I will be here
To watch you grow in beauty
And tell you all the things you are to me
I will be here

I will be true to the promise I have made
To you and to the One who gave you to me

And just as sure as seasons are made for change
Our lifetimes are made for years
So I… I will be here
We’ll be together
I will be here

       July 20, 2002

family water

My precious family…

How do I find the words?

veterans

2010

My Dad was a five time commander of our local American Legion.  Working on veterans issues was a real passion for him.  We found out a few months ago that the leadership of our Legion decided to name a room in the building after my Dad.  I get to speak words to honor my Dad at the ceremony.  I’ve been working on the speech for a few days.  I have so much I want to say, but I can still hardly believe I have to write about him in the past tense.

“My Dad was…”

“Dad would have been so proud…”

“Dad loved being around each and every one of you…”

I read those phrases with a feeling of disbelief.  How can I possibly be talking about him in this way?  I know it is all too real yet the words are written in a dreamlike state.  The words for this speech are much more difficult a year later.  In writing and giving his eulogy I was dealing with the loss on pure adrenaline.  Now, I am in the midst of truly grieving him.  I’ve had a year to mourn all of the firsts–first day of a new semester without my pep talk, first Father’s Day, first Christmas, first birthday.  I am now going onto the seconds and then the thirds and then the fourths.  My heart hurts as I think of how many more monumental moments in life we will have without him by our side.

But, having this room named after him is truly a remarkable gift.  A year later and he has not been forgotten and there will be a piece of him forever immortalized in a place he loved dearly and served for many years.  A year later people outside of his family miss him and want to make sure he is remembered.

A year later…it seems so hard to believe.

A year later…it is still a deep, deep pain A year later…it still seems like a bad dream

A year later…A year later…A year later…

How in the world can it be a year later?

The Little Green Pill…

cloudy day

I was in a cloud…ready for the sun again…

There are so many messages out there about how to appropriately deal with grief.  Talk to someone.  Find an outlet to channel the energy.  Just deal with it.  Face it.  Don’t be afraid to cry.  Don’t cry too much.  Take as long as you need.  Be mindful of the stages of grief.  Pray.  Meditate.  Give over the grief.  I’ve heard it all from articles I’ve read, been sent or suggestions that have been made to me.  But what happens when you have tried all of the above and none of them worked so you take a route that isn’t as openly discussed?

The treatment of mental health issues through medication is still a taboo topic.  Society makes jokes all the time about people who need their “crazy pills.”  Or, someone needs a, “chill pill.”  Hey–no judgement from me.  I will openly say I’ve been guilty of this myself over the years.  I really started to think about this taboo when I realized none of the touchy feely articles of how to deal with grief were working for me.

I had severe anxiety after my loss.  I would wake up in the middle of the night with a panic attack.  I’d terrify my poor hubby with those episodes.  In the middle of the day another attack may present itself while I was doing something as simple as grocery shopping.  To top it off I was under a tremendous amount of pressure at work.  I was going up for promotion and tenure.  That is an extremely stressful time in the life of an academic.  I knew I needed professional help, but something was still stopping me from making the appointment.

Two of my dearest friends finally told me if I didn’t make the appointment they would make it for me.  They were witnessing my deterioration and they were very afraid for me.  They followed up with me daily to make sure I made the call.  But, I was still nervous about that first appointment and then this idea of “being on drugs.” In my mind I kept thinking, “I am a strong woman.  I have dealt with so much in my life.  Why can’t I just handle this?  Am I weak?  I am not THAT person” In turn, the appointment itself was causing anxiety.

A full five months after my Dad’s death I saw my primary care giver.  Heck, I was already self medicating with food. What did I have to lose?  My primary care giver never batted an eye when I told him all I had dealt with in the last months.  He was reassuring and walked me through several options in a clear manner.  We made the decision to start with two pills–one for everyday and one for emergency anxiety attacks.  He wanted to see me at two weeks, six weeks, and then six months.  I felt so reassured.

Now, let me shout from the mountain tops, I LOVE MY MEDS! After seven months of combining the medications to work on my anxiety and then relying on the coping skills I’ve used for years I finally feel more like myself.  I don’t know why I waited so long.  Wait…I do.

We need to have more open conversations about the necessity of proper mental health.  We need to call people out when they make fun of people who have mental health challenges.  We need to hold the entertainment industry accountable for their portrayal of people with depression, anxiety, etc.  We need to be mindful of those dearest to us and reach out to them if we notice drastic changes in behavior.  We also need to demand adequate coverage from our insurers for the treatment of mental health.  WE need to take away the stigma attached to mental health and the medications used to help people.

Because of two concerned friends I am well on the road to recovery and I fully attribute that to finally seeing my doctor and pairing coping strategies with a medication.  I encourage you–have the hard conversations with either yourself or maybe with a loved one.  Do not hesitate.  Do not delay.  Do what YOU need to do to be healthy again following loss.

34.5

muffa

Eating my way through NOLA in March 2015

34.5 miles ran?  Nope.  34.5 minutes until bedtime?  Nope.  34.5 is the amount of weight I’ve gained in this year of grief.  What have I learned about that 34.5?

1. Stress and grief are two different things.  Prior to the loss of my father I equated the two.  With stress I lose a tremendous among of weight.  By the time I defended my dissertation in 2009 I was 25 pounds underweight.  I looked sickly.  I can admit that freely.  I do not stress eat.  But, low and behold food has been my greatest source of relief since Dad died.  The outcome?  34.5 pounds.

2.  Food and insomnia = lethal combination.  Awake at 4:30 a.m. with no one to talk to, bored from too much online time, read all my new books or watched all the bad TV I could handle?  Food was the solution.  I’d cook damn near full meals at all hours of the day or night.  Whatever I wanted.  It didn’t matter.  If I wanted it.  I ate it.  34.5 pounds.

3.  34.5 pounds = all kinds of fun new numbers:  Apparently rapidly gaining weight relates to poor health outcomes.  At 36 I’ve entered into high cholesterol and triglycerides, tiredness from the extra weight and some blood pressure issues.

4.  Previous behavior is irrelevant.  Pre-2014 I was a cook from scratch, healthy food focused woman.I snacked in a healthy way.  I even exercised.  Post June 2014, none of the above applied.  Even if I saw the worst kind of Frankenfood, if I wanted it I ate it.  Grief clouds all previous behavior.  34.5 pounds.

5.  34.5 pounds = body image issues.  I do not look the same–at least to me.  And, as much as I HATE to admit it, it bothers me.  A change in self-esteem in the midst of grief is just hard.

I’ve emerged from the fog and now must find a plan to deal with this new consequence of grief–one I saw coming but just didn’t care.  That’s the thing about grief, the pain is so bad that everything else seems secondary.  Food comforted me and I’ll be damned if anyone was going to say something to stop me from eating my feelings.

And now the work begins.  It is my goal to lose the weight and be back at my pre-2014 grief weight.  I want this for me.  I want to remain as healthy as possible for my family.  And so the journey begins!

Ten Fold…

wild child

I should have known she’d be a handful…

You know, I’d go back and give anything for the terrible 2’s and 3’s.  In my household they were a BREEZE.  At that stage Munchkin was mobile, but I could easily scoop her up when she got away from me.  She sat still for more than 30 seconds.  But, most importantly, her vocabulary was not developed to the point that she could argue her case like an ace lawyer or ask me the same exact question 1,000 times in an hour.  Here are the top 5 phrases or exchanges that I can safely say I will not miss when she’s older.

1.  “Wipe your butt!  Why didn’t you wipe your butt?  Are you kidding me?  Do you know how gross that is?”  Seriously how many times do I have to say that during the day?  I don’t understand this conversation at all.  The other day she tells me, “She didn’t have time.”  She’s a preschooler!  What does she have on her busy schedule that she doesn’t have 30 seconds to at least do a quick wipe????

2.  “Watch where you are going!  There is a ______ (insert shoe, wall, PERSON) there!”   I’m not kidding.  The phrase, “Dazed and Confused” enters my mind more than it should when I see not only my preschooler but her little friends too.  They are just wandering around completely clueless of anything going on around them.  BUT, when my own kid does something, like, run into the wall she yells, “THAT DAMN WALL! IT JUMPED OUT AND HIT ME” as she bawls her eyes out. Yes, my child uses that particular curse word in context.  I have to fully take the blame for that one.  But it’s never her fault when she runs into something and causes mayhem.  EVER.

3.  “Can you just stand still from one minute please?  Stop jumping around! Stop hopping! JUST STOP MOVING FOR ONE STINKING MINUTE!”  They are always in motion.  ALWAYS.  I just don’t know how they do it.  It’s like they have a pogo stick rammed up their back.

4.  “Clean up your toys!”  This is where preschoolers try to play lawyer.  For example, my kid has started trying to reason and bargain with me.  “Mama, let’s do this.  How about we clean up first thing tomorrow morning.  I will get up earlier than you and have the room clean before you get up.”  or “Mama, how about I get one drink of water before we clean up?” or “Mama, how about you start cleaning up my room first and then I will help you.”  or “Mama, I ‘m just too exhausted to move.”  (She gets that one from me too).  But, I swear this child will drag out putting up her toys as long as she can.   She spends more time bargaining with me than it takes to clean up and I want to yell, “JUST CLEAN UP THE DAMN TOYS!”  See, she comes by it naturally.

5.  “Stop talking.”  The drastic increase from the toddler to preschool vocabulary and how much they want to talk is astronomical.  No one warned me about this.  Why don’t people tell you?!  My kid even talks in her sleep!  I can go by her bedroom and there she is just jabbering away a bunch of nonsense in her sleep.  At this stage, I also cannot believe the number of questions they can ask.  And, I’ll be darned most of the them are good questions that need to be answered.  When I try to say I don’t know the answer to the question these little ones know about the dreaded Google.  “Just Google it,Mama.  Just Google it.”

Hubby is wonderfully patient with her.  He distracts her, directs her activities elsewhere, grounds her to her room.  My Mom is just laying back thinking, “Ten fold, baby.  TEN FOLD.”  I was evidently quite the terror during the preschool years.

And, for those of you saying she “needs discipline.”  BITE ME. I’m busy washing underwear and keeping my sanity together so I can gear up for another day.

Well crap, wouldn’t you know it?  As I’m sitting here writing this blog, I look out the window and there is my sweet preschooler helping our elderly neighbor pick up sticks from her yard.  So, yes, they go from terror to sweet in .5 seconds.

A Planning Obsession…

“A Child’s Dream” Photo by: The Crafty Professor

I realized this morning that I am slightly obsessed with our upcoming trip.  I love planning vacations.  I’m pretty detail orientated and love a good spreadsheet while planning a vacation.  My sister in law still teases me about the pages and pages of recommendations I sent for their weekend trip to New Orleans.  It is just plain fun for me to plan a get away from reality.  But, I’ve reached a whole new level with our next trip.

WE ARE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD!

This will be the Munchkin’s first trip.  She adores anything Disney.  Before she was born my parenting bible was “Cinderella Ate My Daughter” and I swore I would not have a princess obsessed daughter.  HAR! HAR! She wears princess costumes on a daily basis.  Her favorite movies are all princess.  In fact, right now we are in the middle of a princess palooza movie marathon.  She will be 5 during this trip and is just a prime age to enjoy all the magic.

Now, I must confess…when she was 3 the parents went to Disney World without her.  GASP!!!!  I had a sociology conference at the Swan and Dolphin Hotel and Conference center in Disney.  We decided to make it an adults only trip.  Our first one since she was born.  I was being selfish.  Because I would be in sessions all morning and afternoon, I did not want to bring Munchkin and miss major pieces of her first trip to Disney.  We didn’t tell her where we were going on our trip.  She stayed with Nana and her Auntie.  On the last day of our trip she found out where we were and had an epic meltdown on my sister.  That meltdown has scarred both Munchkin and my sister for life.  And now, almost 2 years later Munchkin tells people on a weekly basis that her parents went to Disney without her.  She’ll be telling her therapist that story one day I am sure.

bad parents

Bad parents ran away to Disney…without the kid!

But, in going by ourselves we realized how different a trip to Disney is these days compared to when we went as kids.  When we went 20 years ago as children and teens we didn’t have to worry about advanced dining reservations, fast pass reservations, customizing magic bands, maximizing ride times, and all the other things that are now crucial (or I see them as crucial) to planning a Disney vacation.  I realized that this trip will be my planning dream and hence the obsession began.

I think since the day I booked our trip I’ve read the reviews of every restaurant in Disney World, read every blog about traveling to Disney during the month we are going, joined multiple forums to talk with other Disney loving people, and then on the day we could book our advanced dining reservations I was up at 5:30 a.m. with my laptop, Ipad, and cell phone so I could book Cinderella’s Royal Table, Be Our Guest, Bibbity Bobbity Boutique and all the other necessary character experiences to make this a dream trip for her.  I’m still working on Be Our Guest and I stalk the reservations site on a daily basis trying to snag the coveted reservation.  I’m almost to the point of setting my alarm for the middle of the night to try for reservations.  And yes, I’ve read countless blogs on how to book a hard reservation.

Every night I read the chat section of a website that I am obsessed with WDW Lines.  They are my people.  They are my tribe.  They are just as obsessed as I am about planning the perfect rotation of rides so we maximize our time.  The planning tools even let me plan our break times and then it works with past Disney data to optimize the order of rides/shows.  For a sociologist the way this site uses data is a DREAM COME TRUE.

This is also our first vacation as a sandwich family.  We decided on two adjoining rooms so Mom can escape us when needed.  I’ve been using the chats to ask questions about traveling with the little motorized scooters since Mom will use one.  She’s got some bad feet and knees.  I tell you, all these strangers have been so completely helpful and letting me know how to navigate Disney with a scooter.  Now, we just have to make sure Mom isn’t one of “those” people who runs everyone over or becomes Mario Andretti with her new wheels.  I’m just so excited that Mom will get to experience Munchkin’s first trip.

We’ve also decided NOT to tell Munchkin about this trip.  We are still months away from this vacation.  My child is like a dog with a bone once she knows something fun is coming up.  We decided we didn’t want 5,000 questions a day about when we were leaving.  Since she is used to traveling with me for work trips we will just tell her we are going to one of Mommy’s boring work conferences.  We will tell her a few hours from Disney where we are really going.  I cannot wait to see her face.  You can guarantee I will video that special moment.

Now, Hubby and Mom know I’ve been doing a fair amount of research for this trip.  I’ve been pretty good about hiding just how much I read about Disney World on a daily basis.  J did find the 6 apps I know have on the Ipad for different Disney planning tools and blogs.  He looked at me a little strange.

Now, don’t get me wrong–I’m not going to be a military sergeant once we are down there rushing everyone through our trip.  No, I don’t want to make everyone miserable.  If we need to deviate from the plans we will.

But, for now, I am in my planning paradise and love every second of this new obsession. I have roughly 6 months until we enter the “Happiest Place on Earth” and I can’t wait!!!!

This isn’t a half bad arrangement…

mom and me

An oldie but a goodie…

We had the world’s worst road trip today.  We had horrendous weather.  Severe weather with thunder, lightening, torrential rain and hail nailed us three times on this trip. During the first storm Munchkin made up a Frozen inspired song that gave her “magic” that could stop the bad weather.  Because it was raining so hard she was singing the song at a volume that attempted to be heard over the rain pounding down on us.  It was just our luck that as soon as we drove out of the storm was just when she finished her song giving her the impression she is the one who stopped the rain and gave 2 more repeat performances.  The drivers around us were acting like it was a bright sunny day and flying by us and then slamming on their breaks.  Hubby was using colorful language that I am sure Munchkin will repeat at the first inopportune moment.  Needless to say, my nerves were shot by the time our 10 hour trip was over.

Mom wasn’t home when we pulled into the driveway.  She should be glad of that because we were a disgruntled crew.  We unlocked the house and it didn’t take me long to realize there are some definite perks to having Mom living with us.

First, when we normally return from a trip there is no food.  We’ve all been there.  You get home totally exhausted and try to cobble together a snack from cheese that you’ve trimmed the penicillin from and some partially stale crackers.  When we got home tonight there was food.  Real food.  Fresh food!  She even bought Pepsi for Hubby since that is his addiction.  There were bananas for Munchkin and so much other yummy foods.  My fridge has never looked so inviting after a trip.  Yup, definite plus.  No moldy cheese for us tonight and I’ll start back on my healthy eating plan right after I demolish a bagel with a pound of cream cheese.

We left the house pretty clean before our trip.  It’s a habit of mine to clean before a trip.  J likes to say that I make the house nice and neat for anyone who wants to break in. I just hate coming home to a mess.  But, we got home and it was clear she had also done some cleaning. My bed was even made!  Hubby thought someone really had broken into the house since our bed is never made.  Normally after 10 days away our house is in need of a good dust and vacuuming.  Nope, none of that for us this time around! I’m off the hook for at least another week!

We had paper products.  I’m REALLY bad about running out of things like toilet paper and paper towel before and trip and saying, “Eh, we are going to be gone anyway.  I’ll get it later.”  Yeah, not good after a long trip when you return home to no toilet paper.  Paper products were fully stocked.  Nice!

My flowers weren’t dead.  At the start of spring and fall I buy tons of flowers because I have this delusion that I have a green thumb.  But, we travel a lot and the flowers always end up dead.  She watered all my flowers and even managed to bring two back to life.  Mom always had a fantastic green thumb.  She saved my flowers from a certain death.

I was able to climb on the couch to crochet and watch Netflix after our horrific trip home.  It was bliss.  I’ll have to thank her once she gets home.  She is currently pushing her luck being out past curfew after attending a concert this evening.  I’ve even had to text her….Oh my…so much wrong with this reversal of roles.