"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Sunday, February 28, 2010

dream vacation

It wasn't so very long ago when the words "Dream Vacation" conjured up mental images of white-sand beaches; hot, tropical breezes; pools with swim-up bars; cabana boys with frosty drinks in hand..........I imagined sleeping in only to wake up and take a nap by the pool. I imagined going to far-off, tucked away villages and eating in tiny, yet undiscovered bistros. The waiters and chef would fall all over themselves trying to ensure that I was enjoying my meal and my stay in their hometown. I imagined exploring large, cosmopolitan, city centers and the sense of pride I would feel when I successfully navigated the public transit system. I could imagine going anywhere, really. But I didn't actually go anywhere, really....a trip to the Caribbean here, trip to Mexico there, a few short jaunts around the U.S. And I'm not quite sure why. Was I thinking that travel would become more convenient? That I would have more time? That I would have more disposable income?

We "travel." We hop on I-95 and head up to my parents' house. Our families go to the beach every summer. We've gone to the mountains and even went on a cruise when my Big Boy was 8 months old. But I still hang onto my dreams of The Perfect Vacation......only, the images conjured up are completely different than they once were.

White-sand beaches have been replaced by a sprawling concrete jungle of games, rides, and attractions.

The pool with the swim-up bar now looks like a pool with a shallow end and a kiddo in swimmies.
Sleeping in? Yeah, right. Up at the crack of dawn so we don't miss a second of fun!

I'm sure those hot, tropical breezes are still there, but I don't notice them with the incessant loop of "It's a Small World" rattling through my brain.

And that cabana boy? He's still there. But he's a giant mouse holding a balloon that can be yours for only $10!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I'm dreaming of a Disney World Vacation.

We had always figured that someday we'd take The Kids. But we weren't in a rush. Evan doesn't know what he's missing yet. He can't tell you who Buzz Lightyear is or pick Cinderella out of a line-up. He's seen Lightning McQueen, but only at his cousin's house. He's never seen a Disney movie or sang a Disney song. He has, somehow, miraculously avoided the commercial explosion of all things Disney.

And then I read about Dining at Disney World. Apparently, the people over at Disney really DO fall all over themselves to ensure that you are enjoying your meal and your stay there! And, they're pretty smart. They have figured out that, to Food Allergy Parents, the real dream vacation would be one in which their kids could.....wait for it......Order Food off a Menu at a Restaurant.

Imagine a kid who has only eaten One thing at One restaurant in his whole life (of three whole years). Imagine a kid who has never stepped foot into an ice cream parlor and won't in the forseeable future. Imagine a kid whose parents follow him around everywhere we go as if he's standing at the edge of a pool--only, scarier than 6 feet of water is that cheese tray over there. That's my kid.

Now, imagine that kid ordering anything he could ever want off of a restaurant menu. Chocolate chip cookies with no dairy or eggs? Sure! Allergen-free waffles that look like Mickey Mouse? You got it! DAIRY-FREE MILKSHAKES AND ICE CREAM SUNDAES?? No problem!! This is, apparently, what Disney Dining is all about.

And to me, it sounds like a fairy tale.

Lesson Learned:

Time to start renting the Disney classics.
The real words to "It's a Small World" do NOT include:
There's a time for laughter,
A time for tears,
A time to go
and get Dad a beer.

But nice try, Dad.

Friday, February 26, 2010


So, I admit it. Sometimes....very infrequently....practically never....but sometimes, reading books before bed becomes dull. Maybe it's because by Books Before Bed Time I'm worn out. Maybe it's because I'm just a teensy bit concerned that I'll miss the first few crucial minutes of The Bachelor (there may be something that I missed in those clips from last week's episode!). Maybe it's because we've read Big Machines, Big Buildings roughly 72,000 times. Regardless of why, I'm big enough to admit it. So, I had found a little solution to my problem.

I'd skip a page or two.

Not a lot....and not consecutive pages (THAT would be obvious). But just a page here and there. I had already, of course, memorized the book so I knew which pages I couldn't skip (the pages we had to "discuss" each time: "What's that construction man doing, mommy?" "He's the jackhammer guy." "Oh. And what's that guy doing, mommy?" "He's the shovel guy, sweetie." "Oh. And what's THAT guy doing, mommy?" "He's STILL the bricklayer, honey. Just like he was last night. And the night before that. AND THE NIGHT BEFORE THAT.") But some pages we could just read and move on from. And these were the pages that somehow, very discreetly, became stuck to the page before.

The first time I did it, I looked at Evan out of the corner of my eye as I read the new "next" page. He didn't even furrow his brow. Brilliant! I thought. The next time I did it, I got a little bolder, skipping two pages in the same book! He had no idea! I continued this small deception for weeks. I was shaving seconds off bedtime routine without any consequences! I was still reading the agreed upon Two Bedtime Books, still having quiet snuggle time with my Big Boy....it was a win-win.

Until a couple of nights ago.

I was reading Big Machines, Big Buildings for the 72,001st time and got to the page before the super-boring page where the workman build a super-boring wall. Yawn. So I skipped the wall page. Evan turned to me, blinked a heavy blink, let out what sounded an awful lot like an exasperated sigh and said, "Mommy. You skipped a page. Again."

Oops. Busted.

So I laughed a little Just Got Caught laugh and said, "Yup, sure did! Just wanted to make sure you were still awake!" He just looked at me once more before turning back to the book and turning the page back to it's rightful spot.

Lesson Learned:

Time to sign up for DVR so I don't miss a second of The Final Rose Ceremony.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

toddler nutrition chart

A mom on the Food Allergy bulletin board posted this link. It's a chart that shows the recommended daily values of protein, iron, calcium, Vitamins A and C, fiber, sodium, cholesterol, fat, and calories for toddlers, kids, and teens.


It's a great resource to check your kiddo's staples against to see if there are any glaring holes in his or her diet. One glaring hole in Evan's diet that I didn't need a chart to tell me: Foods that are Green. Besides guacamole (I know, doesn't even count) and the occasional spinach leaf hidden inside that meatball, his diet his completely devoid of green.

Lesson Learned:
Yay! for Gummy Bear Multi-Vitamins!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


You know how they say "Necessity is the mother of invention?" Well, I for one believe that mothers are the inventors of all things truely necessary. She may not have gotten the credit, but Mama Edison probably had a pretty heavy hand in the whole lightbulb thing. From time to time I'll share my favorite Mama Tips, Tricks, and Tools of the Trade. I can't take credit for most of these. I learned them from other moms and from other teachers back in my former life. Some are common sense (but maybe forgotten), some are "Now why didn't I think of that?" and some are pure genius.

Juice box handles: Flip up the triangles on the ends of juice boxes. Kidd0 holds handles = kiddo can't squeeze the box = no more spills! (Until kiddo uses handles to hold juice box upside down to watch the juice pour out of the "hose.")

Stainless steel fridge and a billion letter magnets that just won't stick? No problem! Cookie sheets work just as well as the old school 'fridge....and better yet, it's portable! No more kiddos under-foot while you're trying to get dinner together.

And while those cookie sheets are out, get out the shaving cream! Just about every kid likes to smear the stuff (except mine: Evan's not big on mess.) but it doesn't "clean" our kitchen tables like it "cleaned" our classroom tables, does it? Cookie sheets contain the fun! (Bathtubs are great for this, too.)

Picky eater? Serve a snack tray! Put a few bites of different snacks in a muffin tin or in silicone cupcake cups. Make sure some are tried and true favorites along with the new snacks. You don't get to pick what your kid eats, but once the faves are eaten up and the belly is still rumbling.....guess what?! Yup, tears and begging for more pretzels. But stick to your guns, mama, and someday that picky kiddo just may try something new.

We need to carry Evan's Epi-pens and Benadryl with us at all times. The clear, plastic toiletry bag that came with our luggage is perfect for a take-along first aid kit. Those pencil pouches you used to clip into your 3-ring Trapper Keeper are great for this, too.

It's way more fun to drink applesauce through a straw than to use a spoon.

Don't you hate it when the sidewalk chalk gets so little that little knuckles get scraped? Me too. Crush those odds and ends up (put them in a ziplock baggie and hit it with a mallet), mixing colors as you wish. Put the chalk dust in a little tupperware container and add some water--mix until you get a tempera paint consistency. See where I'm going with this? Get out the paintbrushes and let the kids make-over the driveway!

My Big Boy loves trucks. He loves construction trucks, garbage trucks, fire trucks...basically anything big and loud that has a Big Job to do. So, he has lots of trucks. It's fun to play with front loaders and dump trucks in the sand box, but what about when you're stuck inside All Winter because it's Obscenely Cold and Snowy? Pom Poms! Fun to scoop and dump, easy to clean up, and very, very quiet.

Bigger kid and smaller trucks? Buttons!

I was looking for a growth chart that really grew with my kids, and didn't look like it belonged in a nursery (even though we're still in the nursery stage.....). Then I saw an idea for this do-it-yourself chart. It's just a seamstress' measuring tape hot-glued to a board and nailed to a wall.

Lesson Learned:

Who said anything about "Mommy Brain?"

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

the beginning

I make up stories to tell my little boy at bedtime. I write essays for magazine-run writing contests with no intentions of actually submitting them. I get a little rush when my high-school- and college-aged brothers and sisters ask me to edit their papers. I was that kid in college who did the secret, internal happy dance when I saw "three 10-page papers" on the list of class requirements at the beginning of the semester. (Bet you didn't even know there were those of us out there.) I'm a wannabe writer.

I'm also the proud mom of two of the most handsome and hilarious little boys. They give me reasons to laugh out loud and, because of them, I really do learn something new everyday. In the three fast-as-lightning years I've spent in this role, I've learned enough to know that once you think you've got it figured out, the rules of the game change entirely. Parents are, in the truest sense of the words, lifelong learners.

So I'm a proud mama that likes to write: this blog was inevitable. Stay tuned for stories and pictures as we share how we live, what makes us laugh, and lessons we learn along the way.