Moana

Holy crap the music in that movie SUCKS!

“Remember the Coconut, remember it’s trees!” “Don’t mess with Maui when he’s on the breakaway.” and a never ending circle of “where you are, where we are, who we are…”

So, having a toddler is totally rad. And watching the same movie over and over is super cool. Particularly this new garbage on the internets. I mean, I am sure that if I go back and look at The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast I would likely roll my eyes just as super hard if I can remove the nostalgia for a minute and just listen to and watch the story. But at least the music was interesting. I mean right? Or am I totally gooping nostalgia over that too? “The seaweed is always better in somebody else’s’ lake…”

We’ve also been watching SING on repeat which is equally irritating because it’s all pop music. Designed to get into your brain. Worm into your ear holes and then get stuck bouncing around in your subconscious underscoring everything you do. But it makes her booty boogie with the beat. Which is so damn adorable. And her face lights up. And apparently, she has recently decided she has a lot of opinions on the story (as she keeps pausing [yes actually pushing the pause button because our freakin genius daughter knows how to do that] the story to postulate complete with hand gestures before unpausing and continuing with the movie).

Anyway. That is really just to say that I am at rehearsal with a loop of “Remember the coconuts…remember the trees!” combined with “Cuz baby you’re a firework!” running underneath the play “Life Sucks” by Aaron Posner which I am definitely sure is not the score the director or sound designer had in mind for this production.

 

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All Things Considered

We had game night. We went to a festival. We threw a party.

I know, what the heck right? From nothing ever to three social events in one weekend? Back the truck up Shemanda. Save some fun for the rest of the world.

We went out for game night Friday. Beth came over to babysit and Hannah tricked her into letting her stay up until almost 11! But it worked out ok, she slept all through the night and until about 10 the next morning.

Beth decided to stay the weekend with us to help out with the party prep and child wrangling and just have some good old fashioned friend time. It was invaluable. She and Hannah played. She took Hannah on walks. She helped in the kitchen. Beth even made her signature dip and deviled eggs!

I spent most of the day Saturday mowing the lawn and attempting to get things organized. I made trips to Lowes and Kroger, got more plants and a kiddie pool and sprinkler, and a couple of other necessities. Then showered up and headed out to the middle of nowhere!

A friend’s band was playing an outdoor gig out in the country. It’s usually a pretty small affair, a few arts and crafts stands, a few farmer’s market type stands, a few food trucks. There’s a covered stage that faces a pretty low sloping hill that is usually packed with blankets and birkenstocks. Also a slip n slide made out of two giant uninflated outdoor pools. Anyway, we went to hear our friend sing and tooled around the little stands. Hannah danced and scurried. We stood in line for the slip n slide but it was a little slow and though she would have had a great time, she started to move on and I was totally OK with encouraging that.

Sunday I spent most of the morning repotting plants and cleaning up the outside areas for the party. We were prepping the outdoors but also trying to prepare ourselves for the fact that it was probably going to rain. We rearranged furniture, steam cleaned carpets with Shelby’s brand new steam cleaner, and then went out to dinner so as not to dirty all the dishes before the party. But then Shelby and Beth stayed up late working in the kitchen making gigantic messes anyway. So make that 4 social events. We went out to dinner!!!

Monday we officially started at 4 but invited people as early as 2. the first carload (and I do mean carload) arrived at about 3:30. The last person left at a little after 9:00pm. All in all, I think we had a success! Everyone seemed happy, chatty, well fed and content. It didn’t rain. The mosquitos weren’t too aggressive. We had another little girl come and she and Hannah spent most of the time in the pool. They did take breaks from splashing every once in a while to run through the sprinkler with some adult or other. Hannah also took occasional breaks to wave at her adoring public. (She was totally being paparazzied all day.)

Oh yeah, and our neighbor called the cops on us. WIN!

Date Night

Shelby and I have had very few date nights since Hannah was born. And we haven’t really had the most traditional dating life anyway. OK, let me back up and tell you about a time BB (Before Baby).

When Shelby and I first started dating, we did the traditional thing. He’d pick me up, we’d go for food, take a walk around campus (college town though very thoroughly not college people), go dancing, go to the zoo…It did not take long before we were just completely comfortable sitting around a house watching TV or playing games or hosting parties where others had to come to us.

And then we got married and were both heavily into theatre. We spent most of the time at separate rehearsals and then would meet up at the bar afterwards. Or we’d get home as fast as we could to sink into the couch and melt each other’s stress away. Our “dates” were primarily theatre based; go to see the other’s show, go to a show together…we’d still take day trips to the beach and maybe try to find a hotel to stay in if we were too tired to drive home.

And then I got pregnant. We were both still into theatre, but it is a lot less fun hanging at the bar when you can’t drink and you’re tired and either no one knows you’re preggers yet and you feel ginormously fat or you’re about 2 months from your due date and are actually ginormously fat. And we were trying to buy a house. And our cat was sick. And it just made more sense or maybe it was nesting but I would just come home from work, pop some netflix on the iPad and pack boxes.

Enter baby.

Hannah was born November 4, 2015. The first time Shelby and I left the house at the same time, together, without Hannah was March 17, 2016. I think the second time was September 17, 2016 when I went to watch Shelby perform and then rushed home right after. I’m not really sure if there has been a third time. So that would make tonight the third time.

It’s no big thing. Some friends invited us over for game night. It will be casual. We won’t be too far. Beth is a fantastic babysitter. Last time (I mean apart from the time she rescued us when we had the flu), Hannah had such fun and then fell asleep and slept all night which was rare at that time. This is a good thing. And I am trying to convince myself here, this is a good thing. Social adult time together as husband and wife. Blah.

Zoo 2.0

We joined the Zoological Society. I don’t know if I mentioned that before but it seemed logical given our child’s deep devotion to all things animal. The membership basically rocked our socks the first time we used it because one of the perks is your own fancy pants entrance. We foolishly went on a Saturday and the line to get into the park was almost to the parking lot. But not for us, we strolled right on up and right on in.

This zoo is broken into two regions; Africa and North America. That first time, we started in Africa. But there are two loops, one for the big game animals and one for the little guys. We kinda did it wrong and ended up going through the monkeys and bugs a couple of times before linking up to North America. It got late and the park was getting ready to close so we tore through North America kinda hurriedly. We also missed some of the animals that had already been put away for dinner or whatever they do behind the scenes when the tourists are all gone. Still, we walked back to Africa and got to glimpse the giraffes and elephants which are my favorite animals by far.

This time, we started in North America. It was hot. Most of the animals were asleep far away in the shade but we did get to see a lot of the aquatic exhibits that we missed the last time. The sea lions were out and being very photogenically compliant in their swimming around in front of all the windows (I mean for those who are halfway decent at photography unlike yours truly). There were lots of fish of course. We saw the otters being silly. But once again, the polar bears were not available. They haven’t been available the last several times I’ve been to the zoo. Methinks they may no longer be residing in the zoo at all, and the teams are just buying time until a new pair arrives, but that is mere speculation. We may just have fantastically bad timing.

sea lion
Unimpressed

They also have several kid zones throughout the park. Animals are cool n all, but all that walking gets kinda boring. Let’s SLIDE! I let Hannah loose in one while Shelby rejuvenated with some french fries and shade. I’m fairly certain we could have just stayed there all day and she would have been pleased as punch. Instead, after about 20 minutes of playing I lathered her in sunblock and strapped her back in the stroller to continue our trek toward Africa.

And that’s when it all started to go horribly wrong.

It was hot. And though the paths offer a lot of shade, they also offer a lot of hillish type walking. Particularly up to the exhibits. Oh yeah, did I mention that Hannah had one of her UP UP UP nights the night before and didn’t let us go to sleep until 5:00am? So everyone was already kinda edgy and raw from being up all night. Hannah was tired of being in her stroller but could not be counted on to stay on the path. Shelby was hot, tired, and soooo not interested in chasing Hannah and the subsequent hysterics when we tried to wrangle her back into the general direction we were attempting to walk. I was hot, tired, and trying to balance humoring Hannah and appeasing Shelby.

And then Hannah started sweating sunblock into her eyes. Which she tried to rub out with her slippery sweaty sunblocky hands. And she would only eat a bite of one snack before getting upset and requesting something else. And Shelby ran out of ice cold Diet Coke. And then Hannah just had a complete meltdown about shoes and heat and stinging eyeballs and WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT PARENTS? ALL I SEE IS A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT COLORED ROCK BECAUSE THERE IS NO WAY MY BRAIN CAN CHANGE THAT INTO A SLEEPING GRIZZLY BEAR.

It was nap time but I couldn’t stroll Hannah fast enough to get her relaxed and sleeping. (She falls asleep in the stroller often, but really only if she has consistent movement at an up pace. Not super fast, but also not general meandering.) We never made it to Africa. We got as far as the center junction before we finally decided to call it quits and catch the tram back to the North America entrance. I took Hannah to the restroom while Shelby started the car and got the AC blasting. Hannah found contentment sitting in the sink and turning the water on, completely dousing her shoes and legs but thankfully not her outfit as I had stupidly not packed her a spare. A quick and loudly protested diaper change later, we buckled her up in the nicely cooled backseat. Within seconds, she was napping peacefully and stayed that way the whole drive home and then some.

I’m glad we paid for the membership. I would have been frustrated and harbored resentment if we had driven the almost 2 hours to the zoo and paid full price for about an hour and a half inside only to then drive 2 hours back home. But as it was, we recorded some valuable lessons about what to pack, how to manage time and expectations, and what times to shoot for given the kid’s temperament. I look forward to further exploring presentations and feeding times to increase our likelihood of a) seeing active animals at all and b) showing Hannah something super cool. (I mean, this trip she seemed to be the most fascinated by a large bird that sat fairly closed to the exhibit viewing area cleaning it’s wings. So sleeping lions and tigers and bears lose out to something that actually moves. Imagine how cool it would be if we actually saw lions tigers and bears moving! [I don’t think this zoo even has tigers.])

We’re also planning a quick trip out to the coast this summer as our Zoo membership includes access to several aquariums as well. I think that will be a more successful trip what with the indoorness and air conditioning and water. But then again, she may just have a meltdown because we won’t let her in the tank with the fishes.

Toddlers. It’s a darn good thing they’re cute.zoo

 

Magic Kingdom Indeed

Things are different with a kid. Everyone says it. Everyone believes it. But no one KNOWS it until you have a kid.

I am a coaster kinda girl. I love riding Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain (c’mon Disney, what’s your fixation on mountains?) and the like. I will happily stand in lines for upwards of an hour and a half just for the 4 minutes of wind in my hair, butterflies in my tummy, and bragging rights. And then I will run across the park to stand in line for something else, and go back to the first side for my fastpass. Lots of ill-planned cross park running to minimize wait times and maximize thrills.

Enter baby. Who does not like to wait in line for anything. Who does not meet the minimum height requirements by a long shot but would probably love all the mountains as much as I do. But who is also equally entertained by climbing on benches and making faces at her daddy to trick him into giving her popcorn. (She is spoiled though, so there is not a lot of tricking that needs to happen.)  The park opened at 9 and we were safely and happily inside by 9:30. We headed directly to Tomorrowland so Shelby and I could get in line for Space Mountain. We’d use the wait in line time to develop a plan for maximum coaster time and baby enjoyment and the Magic of the Magic Kingdom would rain upon us in all its super parenting glory.

Or Not.

By 9:30, the wait time for Space Mountain was already 2 hours. how is that even possible???? So we headed over to the terminals set up 500 feet away to load our tickets with fast passes which is when I discovered the fastpass system is completely different than it was 3 years ago AKA the last time I was at Disney World. All fast passes are loaded into the terminals, so you can fastpass any Magic Kingdom ride from the terminals in Tomorrowland unlike before when you had to actually go to the ride you wanted to fastpass. Feelings and opinions and GRRRRRR. Blah, long story short, there were no more fastpass times available for Space Mountain. THE PARK CLOSED AT 11PM. 30 MINUTES INTO THE DAY THERE WAS NO POSSIBLE WAY WE WERE GOING TO SPEND LESS THAN 2 HOURS IN LINE. I mean I like coasters, but not that much.

Once our idea of our day at the Magic Kingdom exploded we had to recalibrate. Let go of preconceived and formerly experienced Magic Kingdom of our Youth and focus on Newly Experiencing Magic Kingdom for our Youngin. We were reluctant to believe it, but we ended up having a really nice time. We just sauntered around like old people. Went into that door because Hannah could and it was only 20 minutes until the next showing. Nevermind it was probably boring and awful cuz Hannah could go in and it was only a 20 minute wait (spoiler alert. We were at the Magic Kingdom. Nothing is boring and awful.) Then we’d saddle up and keep cruising around the park. “Are you feeling a little hungry?” “I could eat a thing.” “OK, let’s see what they have at this place we are conveniently standing outside of.” “Nah.” “OK, let’s grab a bag of popcorn at the cart right there and keep sauntering along.” “Yeah.” “Country Bear Jamboree in 10 minutes. Wanna?” “Sure.” And so on and so forth.

It was relaxing. It was surprisingly eventful. Hannah got to ride several rides and see lots of shows. She got to meet Goofy and Donald. She was terribly excited the whole time we stood in line, pointing and giggling. She just in general seemed to be real into the idea of meeting a giant dog (?) and her current favorite word “Duck”. But as soon as it was our turn she was all “Nope. Where’s dad? Must clutch Dad’s leg! Where’s dad?! Giant DOG THING IS PLAYING PEEK-A-BOO!!! DOES NOT COMPUTE!!! DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA.”

We rode the ferry and the monorail. We walked more than 16,000 steps. We had dinner at Epcot and got to watch the fireworks from the warmth of the restaurant window. Hannah got some souvenirs. Everyone was well tired and felt pretty good about the day’s accomplishments. I snapped a very cute pic of Hannah’s silhouette on our way home.

Epcot

It was magical.

2017 Thus Far

While Christmas had it’s ups and downs (fun, flu, family), New Year’s was equal parts forgettable and disappointing.

It used to be so fun. We had an uncle who’s birthday was the 31st or 1st (can’t remember now and not sure if I ever knew). We’d pack the family van and drive to Pennsylvania, birthplace of my parents and current abode for almost their entire families still. We’d spend Christmas at my Grandfather’s mobile home park and have food and family time in the rec center where we exchanged gifts. The week would be spent drifting in and out of aunts’ and uncles’ homes. We always spent New Year’s at Uncle Steve’s setting off fireworks and chasing each other around with sparklers.

The years we didn’t make it PA, when we lived in California or Louisiana or Pap had died, we’d still stay up late and celebrate the close of one year and welcome the next. I went to parties. I had friends.

And then I became an adult and went to “better” parties and had different friends. And it was always Natalie’s birthday on the 31st so we always made plans to get together. We even drove to Asheville for celebration and frivolity when she moved.

And then we had a baby. Last year, I barely made it to midnight with a sleeping Hannah on my shoulder. I had returned to work by that point but Hannah was still only 2 months old. This year, at 14 months, I hoped and prayed I’d be asleep and that Hannah would stay that way no matter how many fireworks the neighborhood deployed. Not to mention, the Christmas flu that took out my parents and daughter caught up to Shelby and I on Thursday so we were still pretty exhausted come Saturday night from a weekend of parenting a toddler while flu-y.

I think I fell asleep at about 10:30? I know I fell asleep on the couch and then hoisted my behind up to bed. At not quite midnight, Hannah awoke with her typical (these days) shrieking and I didn’t have the energy to get out of bed. Shelby marched up the stairs and started pacing around with her. She quieted quickly. He brought her into bed and that is how we spent the changing of the year; husband and wife with a tiny life nestled between them.

She was fast asleep by 12:30 or so (I think. Honestly all the days/nights run together anymore) and I was able to sneak her back into the crib. She slept until 8:30 New Year’s Day.

And since then, the flu appears to have left our house. I’ve returned to work. We’re piecing together some semblance of normality after the closing of the theater and the family vacation. Hannah cut another molar. We have yet to take down decorations or unpack the bags.

I’m hopeful that 2017 will be better than 2016, but I’m not setting any expectations. I’m hopeful my moods will stabilize and Hannah will continue to be happy and healthy. I’m hopeful that Shelby can find something outside of the home that will make him happy. I am hopeful.

Christmassy Things

Christmas “break” started out just dandy. I took Friday off so we could spend a stress free morning snoozing, prepping, and packing before our short 3 hour drive to Williamsburg, VA. I had intended to leave around 1 to get there early and check in, steal the best room in the suite and get started on the Christmas decorations. Instead, it was nearly 3:00 before we got on the road but it worked out perfectly anyway. My sister made a pit stop at my house to return some old patio furniture and the cousins got some advance playtime. All of the drivers descended upon the hotel at roughly the same time to find my mother and father “engaged” in some timeshare upselling talk that I was very happy to have missed.

We investigated the suites, assigned rooms, and got to the unpacking with a swiftness. Some decorations went up to give the place the Christmassy feel, and then of course a list was made and the first trip to Wal-Mart commenced. I drove with my mom out to the airport to pick up the last of our arrivals at roughly midnight, and crashed almost immediately upon returning to my room.

Day 2 was rainy and cold. We had intended a trip to Colonial Williamsburg, but most of us were still pretty beat from the journey the day prior, so we sat around and chatted instead. The kids played together in the adjoining suite with an adult rushing in every few minutes to make sure all limbs were still intact. (Thankfully, there were no hospital trips, broken bones, and shockingly few bumps, scrapes, and bruises.)

Hannah spent most of the trip not being able to decide if she was totally on board with her cousins. She followed them around, played with all the toys with them, climbed on all the things with them, ate all of their chocolate (I kid you not), but would often get over stimulated or stressed out or sad that so-and-so took her flying foam disk thing and would spend the next several hours glued to my legs. Her cousins usually weren’t far behind.

I really enjoyed watching them play together. She was so cute with them one-on-one. She and Jack seemed to be the most in tune. They communicated through silly faces and body positions. He’d squat then she’d squat. He’d squint then she’d squint. He was delighted by her completely. She and Liam shared toys the best. He would show her how to do something, then she’d take over and try. Sometimes she did it right, but almost always it devolved into flappy arms and throwing whatever it was she had in her hands but that didn’t seem to bother Liam. He picked up on what she liked and they did that thing together. She and Craig are the closest in age and are both still pretty self-centered. Mostly they existed in each other’s spaces. They acknowledged the other was there, but didn’t really share or play together. They were just content to play separately in the same spaces. Of course, every once in awhile one of them would want the toy the other was playing with. Sometimes Craig shared. Sometimes it went a different direction. I don’t think Hannah ever reeeeeally shared. She’d either take what she wanted, or decide she didn’t want it anymore and rush to my legs.

The nights mostly bleed together. Some assemblage of adult gaming and child taming. On different nights, Hannah cut a tooth (a molar! My little monster), woke up screaming with some pretty sudden and horrific diaper rash, woke up crying from a little too much fun happening in the adult gaming room next door. And then of course, there was the night of the flu.

My mom got it first. She spent so much time searching, booking and adjusting a nice lunch out for 15 people the day after Christmas and then was slammed by the flu the day we were supposed to go. By Monday afternoon, she seemed to be feeling better and Tuesday everyone seemed just fine. Tuesday evening, Hannah was fussy, but no more than usual. She woke up at some point crying like she was in pain, so I heated up a bottle, gave her a half dose of tylenol and laid her in the bed next to me. She snuggled into the crook of my arm and fell asleep halfway through the bottle. And that’s how we stayed until about 2:30 in the morning. I’m not sure if it was the sound or the convulsions of her tiny body or the wet warmth and smell that woke me, but I knew immediately what was happening. I tried to get her to the bathroom as quickly as I could, but I was on the wrong side of the bed and ended up just leaving a trail over everything in my wake. Shelby, for his part, caught on quickly too and set to work stripping the bed and starting the laundry. He drew us a bath and I got us as cleaned up as I could before the next wave hit. She was so groggy. That was the most terrifying. She could barely open her eyes or move her arms and legs. She couldn’t lift her head. We eventually caught a break and I took her out to sleep on the couch outside my parents room so Shelby could maybe get some sleep before our drive home the next day. Hannah and I were up every hour. And then I could hear my dad echoing Hannah’s sickness like clockwork. Tuesday night was horrible. A terrible end to an otherwise delightful family Christmas.

I’m happy to report that by the time we got home Wednesday afternoon, Hannah seemed fine. I read it could take up to 2 weeks for the healthy bacteria in her intestines to recalibrate.She’s had some epic diaper events, a few extra baths and has gone through a ludicrous amount of outfits, but she’s been just as giggly and active as ever.

And on that disgusting note – Shemanda Out!