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We survived Disney… you can too!

We survived Disney. More than that, we dominated Disney. But don’t think you can stroll into the happiest place on earth unarmed and make it out alive. Here was our game plan-

5052120C-246F-4611-9240-A7A9B0362E5D Disneyland is expensive. If at all possible, find a Disney outlet- if you’re road tripping, there is one south of Portland or north of LA in Camarillo. Buy all your souviniers here. Evelyn saved money for the trip which we then put on a Disney gift card. She bought two toys, shirts for her cousins and a coffee mug for her day care lady,for less then $40.

You can also bring food and drinks in to the park. We brought in high-protein snacks – nuts, peanut butter pretzels, jerky- that would help us avoid the $8 popcorn. We had a sit-and-stand stroller to accommodate Elijah and the occasional Evelyn which also helped pack snacks and water bottles.

Make or buy coordinating shirts or at least Disney apparel. Walmart and Target has them for cheap, Etsy has them for God-awful amounts of money and if you’re lucky find a friend with a cricut or a silhouette machine.

It sounds cliche and awful but I loved every minute of Ava and Evelyn wearing matching shirts at all times. Micah and Elijah also had multiple days of Disney apparel. Even Shann and Joel appeased me and wore the family shirts. Half the people in the park have Disney shirts and half of those people have shirts that look just like their families. Embrace it.

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Fast pass / max pass-

Disneyland is kind of like the secret menu at In and Out Burger. It’s great, but once you know how great it can really be, it’s awesome. Fast passes are a special way to decrease wait time for popular rides. You have to take each persons entry ticket (which looks like a hotel room key), and enter it in a machine near the ride. It will print you off a ticket telling you what time to return and then you get to jump in the fast pass line, which is typically half the wait time or less. Max pass is the same deal except you pay $10/ticket and you skip the process of physically going to each ride and you do it on the app. The  app is a must-have! You can check wait times for rides, order food or make reservations and there’s a map of the park.

Rider switch- another ingenious trick at Disney is the rider switch. This enables an adult (and up to two others) who are unable to ride because they are staying with little kids, to ride as soon as their party gets off the ride (and another adult assumes care of the littles).

There were some rides- Indiana Jones in particular- that all of the adults and big kids wanted to ride. But Evelyn and Elijah weren’t candidates. So Shann took the first shift staying off with them. We took his ticket, asked the cast member at the fast pass line to rider switch. She scanned his ticket plus Ava and Micahs who were going on the ride with 5e first group. The first group rode, got off, and then Shann, Micah and Ava got to get back in the fast pass line. This way, no adult missed out and the big kids got to ride multiple times. Win.

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If you can swing it, stay at a Disney hotel or a hotel really close. Staying at a Disney hotel gets you in to the park an hour early- known as the Magic hour. It switches days between Disney and California Adventure so plan according to what park you’re going to. Staying close also allows you to leave the park, go back and take a nap or a swim and refuel for the evening. In our experience, the park was great before noon and chaos after that.

We only did Disneyland. The park hopper ticket was noticeably more expensive and with it being the kids’ first trip, we really wanted to exhaust Disney. When we go back, we’ll probably do California Adventures.

There’s a sponsored blog- Magic Kingdom Mamas- that I gathered most of my tips from. These mamas live in SoCal, have stayed at each hotel and go to the parks at least weekly. Their blog is gold.

I could probably blabber on for a few more paragraphs but this is where I quit. Joel and I had both been to Disney as kids and it might have been even better to go as an adult and see the magic through the eye of our kids- yes, even Elijah loved It’s a Small world- and niece and nephew. We’re already saving our pennies for a return!

 

 

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An open letter

Dear Superintendent,

I don’t need to introduce myself. I met you during your first month as Superintendent in Clarkston and I was asking you to approve a job share position so I could have a job. I was optimistic about Clarkston School District, enthusiastic and so thankful to get a job.
During the past four years, I’ve won a local teacher award, organized community events- which brought positive publicity to my school and our district, was on the core team to help pass a school bond and helped supply my classroom through two crowd-funding projects. This job is more than just my pay check.  It is my livelihood, my passion and my calling.
Some jobs are 8-5 and then you go home. You get an actual lunch break, you get to use the bathroom whenever you want. Teaching is not that job. It is a school carnival, late IEP meeting, come-in-on-the-weekends type of gig. And I love it. But it’s wearing.
This was a long week. There are 10 days until summer break and I’m tired. But more than tired, I’m defeated. Today, I was hit, screamed at, called parents for support only to receive none and was disrespected. My students experience trauma in multiple forms but in turn, they create trauma in my classroom. I’ve been yelled at and blamed by parents to the point of tears,  spit on and suspended five-year-olds from my class for my own safety. But I’m resilient. I come to school every morning with an optimistic attitude. I greet my students with a hug or high-5. I do my best to teach them something amidst the screaming, chair kicking and disrespect that I endure.
But you don’t see this. You hear about it second hand and think a wellness committee and a discount to the aquatic center is going to change something. You bring prospective teachers to my classroom and I bribe and coerce  acceptable behavior out of my students in hopes of hiring someone good. Because, let’s be honest, the good ones rarely stay at a school like mine.
You preach a lot of #beValued and #beTogether and so as our union heads into bargaining salary and benefits for the teachers in the trenches every day, my hope is that you’re singing the same tune. I hope you recognize the value of the teachers in your district and use the state-allocated million dollars towards teachers’ salaries. And beyond a pay raise, teachers also need support. This year, we had three kindergarten positions and next year we only have two. Smaller class sizes have been an educational golden ticket for years and we’re moving away from it. Support your teachers by hiring more teachers, hiring support staff and being present in your district.
Respectfully,
a tired,
hopeful,
teacher
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Miscarriage

Tonight as I was leaving the house, I got a text from a friend. She went in for a prenatal appointment and got news that no one ever wants to hear. You rarely go in to a routine appointment -especially past 12 weeks- and expect to hear, “your baby has no heart beat”. But this mama heard just that.

I cried. My heart hurts so much for this mama. She takes care of herself and loves her babies with her whole heart. She will have to deliver the baby and recover from giving a birth but she will have no sweet child to hold.

Although I’ve had two miscarriages, I’m still at a loss as to how to support this mama. Words seem empty. Prayers seem useless. I will bring her family food. I will hold my baby boy and have patience and love for my daughter.

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Bella turns one

Sometimes, you just need an excuse to throw a party. You want to plan a menu, let your four year old make invitations and decorations, and have three large canines tear up your backyard. Did you ever think you’d be reading a post about me throwing my dog a birthday party? I know that the initial “we got a dog” aka pigs are now flying was a bit overwhelming formsome folks. I am a self proclaimed animal dis-liker. And yet, here we are.

A few weeks ago, we let Evelyn write the guest list for Bella’s birthday. My parents and Joel’s parents both have dogs but they’re both old. So although we love them both- the humans and the canines- they didn’t make the list. This was in all aspects, Bella’s party. Bella’s bestie is by far Micah and Lauren’s crazy bird dog- June. Katie’s boyfriend has a part lab part bear part horse type dog, Tap, and although he didn’t make an appearance, Nora’s dog Marley- also a cranky old dog- rounded out the invite list.

The menu included homemade pup cakes- mostly apple and peanut butter based- dog bone shaped cookies, puppy chow and hot dogs.

Evelyn was a little upset that Bella didn’t get any presents. We told her that the experience of playing with her friends was present enough. And I think Evelyn quickly forgot about Bella as she and her friends and cousin pulled out half the toys in the back room. For me, I got a clean house and an afternoon with my friends. Bella’s party was definitely a success!

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So much stuff

We’re slowly figuring out life with a newborn, full time jobs and a four-year-old. And by figuring out, I mean sleeping enough so we don’t constantly feel like zombies, not feeling constantly behind at our jobs, paying attention to both kids and maybe hanging out with just my husband (once in awhile). The other night, Joel and I were talking about if we didn’t find new renters for the basement -anyone want to live in our basement apartment???- and he said that the kids don’t have a lot of stuff so they could move in. Wait, not a lot of stuff?! babies require So much stuff.


We borrowed this swing from my friend Layci. Elijah hates it. We had to borrow a swing because the swing we used with Evelyn suspiciously stopped swinging after Evelyn (at current weight) took a ride on it.

Joel’s brother and his wife had a baby boy about 8 weeks after Elijah was born. They have the best swing collection and were nice enough to share. This little guy vibrates and is portable.

Also on loan from uncle Micah and Lolo, this beauty that Elijah is completely content sitting it- it vibrates and swings.

Leftover from Evelyn’s days as an infant, this used to have a small attachable unit that vibrated. It’s long gone which almost renders this chair useless. Is it still sitting back in my craft area right in my walking path which means I almost trip on it regularly? Yes.

This bassinet lives in our room and both kids slept in their first few weeks. Correction, was meant for both kids to sleep in. They didn’t. They both hated it. We put heating pads, warm rice bags and extra blankets. Not much helped either of them sleep while in our room. We didn’t sleep either.

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I’ve read about the magic of the dock-a-tot before but at $180 plus there was little chance we were going to invest in our own. Thank goodness for Loris’s assistant Lexi who offered up hers. Last week, Elijah woke up 3-4 times a night. Joel and I were both getting up once or twice a night to feed, change or sooth baby boy. Since swaddling and putting him in the dock, it’s once between 1 and 4 am and randomly at 5:30. So.much.better.

We also invested in a Nested Bean swaddle sack. I think he was too young when we bought it. He still sleeps better if we swaddle him up tight. We also have a boppy, a play mat for the floor an$ a co-sleeper that kind of Fits in our bed. Again, no one really slept. Babies require so much stuff.

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OOTD

I’ve been documenting Evelyn’s latest outfit choices. They’ve been pretty epic. Oh, and here’s some pictures of baby boy too. We use church as an excuse to dress him up. And all the old folks at church really appreciate it.


Elsa dress, goodwill vest, the awful fruit covered cropped leggings and a solid hip- pop. Oh, and tall white socks.


Gap peplum top, denim skirt, tights and pink sparkly shoes. Great combo but the colors aren’t exactly on the same palette.

This outfit is okay but she’s posing with the Arnold looking statue at the library.


This outfit I really like and I love any photo outside of daycare. Look at that view!


Baby button down from Target.


Evelyn wore this sweater for family pictures her first Christmas. It’s from the boy section but I put a bow on her and called it good. Elijah sports it like the little old man he thinks he is.

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Read Week

This week was my first full week back at school and also happened to be Read Across America week which is based around Dr. Seuss’s birthday and promotes literacy. Although Dr. Seuss’s died in 1991, and his real name was Theodore Geisel, he still has an impact on childhood literacy. Although his first published books are long and complicated to read, he developed a series of early readers in the 1950s to encourage young children to read. He also drew some liberal leaning political cartoons that I appreciate but that’s off topic. To celebrate his birthday, we read books in our pajamas. It’s so great!

A few years ago, I gave myself the responsibility of making Read Week a big deal at my school. We decorate the office, have dress up days and I invite community members- athletes from LC, city council, school board, police and fire department and most of my own family- in to read to our classes. Over 40 people signed in to read on Friday! This year was a bit of a challenge as I wasn’t at school during most of the planning stages. I started back in October getting sponsors for a staff shirt and meeting with the other Read Week committee members. I set up a schedule for each classroom teacher with readers throughout the day, gave our secretary a master copy, bought myself an extra caffeinated coffee and prepared myself for a chaotic, wonderful day of reading. Here’s how it went…


Evelyn chose the books that Joel read to my class- Put Me in the Zoo and a mermaid book from Grandma Barb. She was a little frustrated that Joel had to show the students the pictures and wasn’t reading just to her. She might have only child syndrome.

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My dad came to read and I might have taught my students to call him Papa Wayne. He read two Pete the Cat books that he and Evelyn read together. I’m not sure if it’s the lack of male role models in the lives of students from poverty situations or just that Wayne is so darn charming, but they really loved Papa Wayne.

These two gems- along with P1FCU and CCI spear, where Joel works- donated to Highland which helped purchase books for all of our students and these rad shirts. The quote from Dr. Seuss’s says, “you can find magic wherever you look, sit back and relax, all you need is a book”.

I work with a great staff. I know I’m supposed to say that. But I really do. We have a tough clientele and these people really show up for kids.

As much as I love Read Week and all the fun activities, it was a long week. Joel got up with Elijah last night so I could sleep and then I took a two hour nap this afternoon. Four of my students were out with fevers last week and I’m determined not to get sick! Back to the Gonzaga game and then off to bed!

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OOTD

What Evelyn wears is no longer a battle I choose to fight. Well, on major holidays it is. But otherwise, if she’s dressed appropriately for the weather, I let it go. Which means she comes up with some pretty hilarious outfit choices. Today for example-

Yard sale cowgirl boots- don’t call them cowboy boots because she’s not a boy, she’s clarified that point for me more than once. Hand me down Cat and Jack leggings- from Ruthie or Amanda, I can’t remember who- which, although you can’t tell because of the boots, are cropped and not appropriate for January. A baseball style Free to Be Kids shirt about feminism which I love and very few people in the LCV appreciate. And finally, because she runs warm like Joel, a puffy vest instead of a coat.

The cutest baby boy was wearing a baby Gap sweatshirt from Hansel and Gretel in Moscow and Nordstrom sweats. Nothing over the top but so cute.

I didn’t leave the house all day. Usually, I put on mascara. I didn’t. I wore a grey on grey sweat suit. And my awesome magenta Ugg slippers. For.the.win.

I’ll just leave you with that….

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It takes a village

This post has been bouncing around my head for a few days. It started out as a self care/ mental health post but morphed into a post about our village and how they support mental health and self care. The two very clearly go hand in hand. Like with all my posts, I wonder if it’s worth writing about and if people read it. But mental health is something we need to talk about more. We need to read about people asking for help and not doing it all on their own. So here we are.

Last Saturday, I got coffee and drove to Moscow. I got a facial at Ulta- which might be my new favorite activity and I made another appointment for February and am making Joel go with me- and walked around Old Navy. By myself. It was glorious. Joel is back to work full time and after having 2 weeks off for paternity leave, is playing catch up and super busy. He’s great about helping with dinner and hanging out with the kids when he gets home but 10+ hours a day home with the kiddos is a lot. I knew I needed a morning to myself.

This is my no-makeup face before I got my facial. Leaving the house without makeup is so uncomfortable for me.

These two soon-to-be parents are part of our village. They watched Evelyn and Elijah last weekend so we could double date with my parents. We saw a movie, went to dinner and never once worried if we were inconveniencing anyone, if our babies were safe or having fun. With any of our siblings, I don’t feel like we are imposing by asking them to hang out with our kids. Last week, Elijah got circumsized. I planned on him being fussy and holding him the majority of the afternoon. One text to Uncle James on his day off and a park date with Evelyn was immediately on the agenda.

Part of self care and mental health is asking for help. Or accepting it. It’s knowing your limit and reaching out. It’s calling your dad at 8:30 this morning to ask if he’ll play taxi and take Evelyn to daycare because you need to pump and didn’t want to leave the house yet. It’s paying the neighbor girl to walk your dog because leaving the house with an infant in a stroller, a four year old on her bike and a dog just isn’t going to happen by myself. It’s also pouring a glass of wine at 1:30 in the afternoon on a Thursday because you needed it for soup and why not.

So there you go friends, my darkest confssions of how I don’t do it alone. I accept help when it’s offered, I ask for time for myself and I drink cheap wine and buy expensive cheese when it fits in the budget.

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Mom life

A friend at church this morning told me that I was rocking it as a mom of two. She saw me walk into church on time, wearing pants -as opposed to leggings- with Elijah’s car seat on one arm and a coffee in the other hand. On the outside, I looked pretty good. What I neglected to share with her was that we woke up at midnight to Evelyn projectile vomiting all over her bathroom, Elijah being awake from 3-5am and then overeating and also projectile vomiting all over himself, and then Evelyn wetting the bed. Oh, and that my pants are three sizes different than what I normally wear and still have an elastic waistband. It was a chaotic night but all part of being a parent of young kids. Here are a few more fantastic photos that prove that mom life is ridiculous, never glamorous and doesn’t involve as many showers as you would hope.

With a puppy, a four year old, a dad who had to go back to work and cold weather, we play inside a lot. Like fetch inside my house. Evelyn and Bella also play tug of war and I watch a lot of Law & Order.


I’m exclusively pumping and therefore wash bottles 89 times a day. Thank goodness for the invention of a bottle brush and this neat little bottle drying lawn.


Being a typical helicopter, millennial, whatever type of parent you want to call my generation, I take a lot of pictures of my kids. Sometimes, they do not cooperate. I took about 20 pictures all very similar to this.


This little turkey goes in to get snipped tomorrow and I’m not at all excited. Joel is taking off work to take him and I get to hang out with him for the recovery period.

Well, it’s past 8pm and if I don’t pump and go to bed now, Elijah will be awake to eat again before I get a solid 3 hours of sleep. Good night!

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