Saturday, December 22, 2012

Trevor growing up

Since the wonderful Monday luck that I had a little over a week ago, many things have changed.  Mostly our luck...but we'll start with the first big event.  Trevor had a well-check for being 9 years old.  Not really surprisingly, the kid is growing up, literally, quite fast.  I was asking if he would please start to slow down, at which the doctor explained that no...he goes faster before finally slowing down.  So he's now less than a foot away from over taking me.  92nd percentile for height and 76th percentile for weight.  Not exactly a string bean, but he's leaned out over the years.  We had a little conversation about how he'll probably be the tallest one in our immediate family and I don't think the idea really makes sense to him.  I'm guessing its one of those things you can't really imagine what it would be like to be that big.  I don't know that I ever really thought about it.  I was usually one of the tallest girls in my class. was a good appointment and we had some good conversations about what is expected for his age.

Then, this past week, the kids have been pretty pumped to get close enough to Christmas to see it coming within a week.  Unfortunately, Gwen got a bad cold starting on Monday night.  She had a low grade fever, and didn't have any energy on Tuesday.  So I explained she wouldn't be going to school.  She was SO mad at me.  She was crying "Mommy, PLEASE can I go to school.  I REALLY want to!"  Man, if I could have recorded that conversation to play for her later.  It really gives me a peace of mind that we made the right choice for her this year.  She got better that day and night so she was able to go to school the next day.  So on Wednesday when she went to school so was so happy.

As a side note to all of this:  Russ and I volunteered to help with the winter party in class on Thursday.  They were playing a game that put the kids in a line to hand the game to the player sitting behind them.  The class spontaneously chanted "cha-cha-cha-cha-cha-CHA" while sitting down and their teacher remarked...."this class is so fun...they will be remembered as the class that spontaneously breaks out to cha-cha."  Russ and I see it too.  The kids get along very well as a class, have fun and still know how to get down to business and do what is expected of them.

So on Wednesday, our traditionally busy day, we went from school to swimming to religion class.  Trevor reported that he got two rocket rewards that the beginning of the school day.  The kids got their last day of swimming classes in, and we had to run to church after eating a quick dinner in the car so they could practice for Christmas Eve mass: bringing the nativity characters up to the manger.  We made it just in time to practice and then get back home for a half hour before religion.  This religion class was really just their Christmas party, which I volunteered to help for.  When I got to his class, it turned out that they had more than enough people to help organize the snacks for the party.  So we tried to get as much done as we could, but there was a lot of waiting around.  Then my special time happened.  The religion leader came in looking for someone to help drive a person that came in for confession, but broke their key off in their car lock and needed a ride back home to get their spare set of keys.  I jumped at the chance.  It was a perfect opportunity to pay it forward since I was the one in need just a week prior.  The woman offered to pay me for gas, but I declined.  She then said that she would pray for me and my family, and that was something I could accept.  She needed a ride about 5 miles away and back, but we got back in plenty of time to do what was needed to help for the party.

I had a chat with Trevor about how lucky I felt to be able to pay my help back to someone that needed it.  Because of his day of rocket rewards, and my luck he thought maybe it was just a lucky day for the Johnson family.  I said that because of Gwen being able to get back to school that day, I knew she would agree that it was a great day for her as well.  We decided that because Russ was in town to enjoy the day, that would be his lucky day as well.

So the kids are now off of school until next year.  It started off with Gwen having a difficult sleeping night last night with her cough but she seems to be handling it ok.  Trevor has been playing Ninjago/Lego Friends with her nicely for most of the morning and we have activities to get them through most of the next week.  Christmas will be here quick!  Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, December 14, 2012

One of those days

There actually haven't seemed to be that many unlucky days in my life.  So maybe I was due for one.  Regardless, last Monday was it.  It started on Sunday afternoon when I went to try out a refurbished snow blower that was given to us since our one that we had been using was also broken.  I wanted to make sure I knew how to use it since Russ would be traveling that week.  Well, after 4 runs of the driveway, I broke it.  Russ tried to fix it, but when he did, the auger didn't move.  Boy did I feel bad that I had already rendered it useless in the middle of a big snowstorm.  Thankfully, Russ finished the job with a shovel.

Then, in the morning, when I was getting ready to take the kids to school, the van was starting funny.  I thought it was due to the temperature, and just that it needed to warm up.  I was able to get Trevor off to school before Gwen and I were off to run our errands.  We stopped at a local bank, then went across the street to do our grocery shopping.  After the groceries were back in the car, the car decided to not start for me.  *Sigh*  Getting the car looked at was on the list of things to do this week, because it was also in need of an oil change.  But of course it had to happen right after a snow storm.  So when I called roadside assistance, they were backed up.  I started off asking for a jump because they said it would be quicker.  But when they quoted two hours and said I had to be with the car when they came, I cancelled the service.  I had them tow it, instead.  That was another 4 hours but at least I didn't have to be with the car.  I had them tow it to the service dealership so it could be serviced for other things as well.

Then we went in the grocery store to see if we could get a cab to take us home.  Nope.  The cab companies the grocery store suggested were booked and not taking any calls, or disconnected.  Then I made the call list through my phone book and found a willing friend to pick us up and drive us home.  Since we had another car, I got reorganized and took Gwen back to the car so we could pick up our groceries.  Got those, got on with the day, and when the dealership called, I was told that it was the battery that needed changing and that once that was fixed, it was fine.  I asked to get the key automatic door openers looked at, and an oil change.  

When I went to pick Trevor up from school after chess club, I made the mistake of putting the mail on top of the car and forgot to take it off.  It blew all over the road and I didn't recover all of it.  So I decided that that was my three things that were going to happen to me that day.  Unfortunately, on Tuesday when I went to get the car, they didn't understand about the key and said I would need to leave it there longer, (to which I said no thanks), the car still isn't starting like it should, and two of the tires are low on air, which should have been taken care of with the oil change.  *sigh* So that means another discussion with the service station.  Hopefully someone will listen to a dissatisfied customer.  And hopefully the car continues to actually start until next week.  Russ is home until the new year, so we need both cars during some scheduling conflicts.

On to Christmas!  I want some more fun times please!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Starting our Christmas season

This year, we have just started our Christmas season, but already done so much in the way of changing things a little bit here or there.  First off, on Black Friday we happened to go and see Wreck it Ralph at a nearby mall, and when we came out, we noticed Santa's line was really short, so rather than find another day to come out and visit, we went and saw him.  I put the photograph in the frame this weekend and noticed that we only missed one year, the year Trevor was 2.  But we've seen the same Santa for all but one year.  Usually it is some time in December but I'm happy not to have to make another trip out there.

Speaking of Santa, I finally gave in to Trevor's asking about Santa.  I have read about parents writing a letter to their kids about Santa and have a blogging friend that used one last year for her daughter that seemed to fit well with us (Thanks Erika!).  Here's what it said:

Dear Trevor, 

You asked a very good question: “Are you Santa?” 

I know you’ve wanted the answer to this question for a long time, and I’ve had to give it careful thought to know just what to say. 

The answer is no. I am not Santa. There is no one Santa. 

I am the person who fills your stockings with presents, though. I also choose and wrap the presents under the tree, the same way my mom did for me, and the same way her mom did for her. (And yes, Dad helps, too.) I imagine you will someday do this for your children, and I know you will love seeing them run down the stairs on Christmas morning. You will love seeing them sit under the tree, their small faces lit with Christmas lights. 

This won’t make you Santa, though. Santa is bigger than any person, and his work has gone on longer than any of us have lived. What he does is simple, but it is powerful. He teaches children how to have belief in something they can’t see or touch. 

It’s a big job, and it’s an important one. Throughout your life, you will need this capacity to believe: in yourself, in your friends, in your talents and in your family. You’ll also need to believe in things you can’t measure or even hold in your hand. Here, I am talking about love, that great power that will light your life from the inside out, even during its darkest, coldest moments. 

Santa is a teacher, and I have been his student, and now you know the secret of how he gets down all those chimneys on Christmas Eve: he has help from all the people whose hearts he’s filled with joy. 

With full hearts, people like Daddy and me take our turns helping Santa do a job that would otherwise be impossible. 

Before you go around telling your sister, or friends that there is no Santa, be careful because believing in Santa is all about believing in a Christmas miracle, and destroying someone else’s belief is a very sad thing to do.  If someone asks me if I believe in Santa, I honestly say “YES” because I do believe in all the Christmas miracles that the idea of Santa brings.  I don’t know if this helps you understand why there is a belief in Santa until you are a parent, but hopefully it is a start.

So, no. I am not Santa. Santa is love and magic and hope and happiness. I’m on his team, and now you are, too. I love you and I always will. 

Love, Mom

He didn't get the letter before we visited him, but he also didn't say anything that I'm aware of.  I also didn't give him the letter before his sleepover party on Thursday night, but I did hear the boys talking about it that night.  I hope Trevor didn't ruin anyone's Christmas spirit!  So when he read the letter, he seemed very happy and told me that he wouldn't go spilling the beans to anyone else.  He thinks that when Gwen knows, we'll stop doing a lot of the traditions that make Christmas fun.  

What is interesting about this whole thing to me though, is that we still have our Elf on the Shelf (Frankincense) that comes around and I his toys, he still has a hard time fully believing that they don't come to life when we aren't watching.  A few months ago he told me that he can't throw away his character toothbrushes because of what happened in Toy Story 3.  He has such an imagination that while he has loved to create his own stories with his toys, its hard to switch off that imagination switch when it comes to seeing the toys portrayed as real things when no one is watching.

Gwen has been loving the Christmas changes in our house and taking full advantage of the new music selections on both the radio and the CDs that we have.  Her favorite is a Kids Bop Christmas CD that we have already listened to 5 times and it has only been out for 3 days.  Her dance class is starting to prepare for their Winter Show in January, and they are performing "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" but if she hears the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, she actually still remembers most of the moves from that recital as well.  

We have only seen 2 movies of our Christmas collection - both Grinch movies.  She has been playing with the Christmas ornaments and as a side note, we were putting the ornaments up and Trevor opened his Lightning McQueen and Toy Story ones, and saying that they didn't have hooks on them.  I explained that he never let us put hooks on them because he always played with them instead, so he took them out of the box and put them by the doll house to be used as a toy.  Gwen, of course, picked up right where he left off.  She undecorates and redecorates the tree.  She has a lot of princess ornaments and so with the lights, they put on a show...usually some kind of dance number.  Now that Frankincense is here, she also wants to give him part of her Advent Calendar chocolate the way Trevor has the past few years.  At least, that is what she said this morning...and then she ate both pieces.  

She also is enjoying the books that come out too.  I somewhat forgot about those and got more library books so I've read her favorite books, but she has some other new books (American Girl Doll books) that we have been reading as well.  

So with all that, I believe we are in the Christmas spirit.  The kids are again slotted for bringing up Mary and Joseph for the manger scene at church on Christmas Eve.  This will be Trevor's last year bringing a character.  He can bring other things, but they listed pre-k to 3rd grade.  His comment is, why does church have to be so long that day?  He's used to Children's Liturgy where the kids get to go out of the service to have their own discussion about the readings.  It's a nice break for them so that they don't have to be still for the entire hour.  But that doesn't happen on Christmas Eve.  Hard to believe it's only 3 weeks away.  I gotta get on the shopping bandwagon!  I'm probably very behind!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Trevor's parties

Well, we had three of them.  Technically, I don't know that you would call his actual birthday a party since it was just the family. was something else I had to organize.  We had his family party on Sunday prior to his day.  It was a day for the Bears vs. Vikings football game....glorious game.  We watched it and when the Bears won, Trevor quickly removed his Vikings jersey only to prove that he was cheering for both teams and had his Bears jersey underneath.

Trevor wanted his traditional spaghetti (two years now) dinner instead of pizza or lasagna.  We ate, sang happy birthday and opened gifts.  After that, it was time to clean up and get ready for school the next morning, so he didn't really get a long chance to play with his gifts.  He opened his character Ninjago sets because those he could put together quickly and play with.  This Sunday was the last day of the kids' 5 day break from school.  So we had to make sure we were ready to go the next day.

On Tuesday, we had spaghetti again, and he got his gifts from us.  This time, he had to run to hockey practice and since Monday is going from school to chess to dance class (for Gwen, not for Trevor), he hadn't had any chance to play with his gifts until Thursday (Wednesday is swimming and religion class.)  But wait...Thursday was the last school day of the week for him, so we decided to have his sleepover party with 3 of his friends since they didn't have school and he didn't have hockey on Friday.  Turns out, two of the three boys had never had a sleepover at a friends house before, so it was somewhat of an experiment.  One of the two did have a hard time falling asleep, but finally did so right around 11:45.  Then they were up again at about 5:30am.  I suppose at some point, I will have to do this with Gwen to keep it all equal, but I can guarantee I'm not doing a group of guys again.  I can handle one at a time.  Its not a big deal at all.  But wrangling and keeping all 4 of them busy and entertained was not all that easy.  Perhaps I should have pushed it away from the other parties because I was seriously burned out by this point in the month.

The one saving grace through all of this was that the boys were saying the next day how awesome of a party it was.  That was my hope....Trevor had been to a sleepover party earlier in the year which was where he got the idea.  So I'm glad he got to feel as special as he did having more than one friend over to stay over night.

And with that....this weekend we were finally able to get out the Christmas decorations.  His birthday celebration is done.  Time to get reorganized and ready for the incoming gifts this month.  I'm finally feeling like I can start to cross things off the list now.  Here's hoping!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Such a big kid

Today's the "real deal".  The day when my baby boy turns 9.  He has been excited to get another year older, but he also knows it isn't exactly a new thing anymore.  We had his family birthday celebration on Sunday, and he was correcting everyone so that they knew he wasn't 9 yet.  He has school on his birthday, so that allows him to bring cookies for his birthday to share with his class.  He usually gets about 2 per 6 or 7 years and starting next year, he's going to have a stretch of a few that he doesn't get to school for.  Regardless, it's always a special day when you get to celebrate your birthday at school.  Or at least that's what I've been told ;-)

He has decided that he wants to have a sleepover party this year, but he also wants to be able to play nintendo, so I explained that he can't have more that 4 people and that's what he's doing.  Hopefully they will be able to get to sleep at some point and everyone will have a good time.  Then we can full out decorate for Christmas.

He has his doctor appointment in a few weeks to get his measurements...I'm pretty sure he's on the tall end of the spectrum.  And he's proud of that.  He's catching up to a lot of his least he's within a head of a few of them now.  Part of the getting bigger means more responsibilities.  He can stay home by himself for short periods of time, which Gwen is not all that impressed with.  Thank goodness we have the idea of babysitters almost being someone to play with, rather than someone to watch over you.  He's never put up a fight to have someone watch him.

He's also having a lot of activities that he enjoys.  Baseball, hockey, swimming, golf, chess, religion class, and piano.  With school this year, he just starting hitting some subjects where it doesn't automatically come to him without thinking.  To which he said last night, "I think they gave me 5th grade homework or something.  I don't know how to do this yet."  Granted, he has been learning a lot in his other subjects, but I don't know that he has understood that there are different things and rules to learn with new topics in math.  I guess I'll have to sit down with him again to help him through the new stuff.

While he does love his video games and computer time, I'm SO happy to say that he enjoys his time away from the screens just as much.  He spends hours outside throwing the ball around during baseball season.  He still gets out his diecast cars and plays around with them.  He writes in his journals and reads a few different books for extended periods of time.  And I LOVE to have heart to heart conversations with him.  I know he has already stopped believing in Santa, so I'm prepared to have that conversation with him but he has never been ready to give it all up.  Which for me, is very nice.

I hope to continue these wonderful memories the next 9 years.  It's time to celebrate today!  I love you, my 9 year old!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving dinner

Well, we made it through another event of this part of the year.  We are a little over halfway done with the busiest four least from my perspective.  I decided to not go out into the Black Friday abyss because there wasn't anything on anyone's list that we had to have, so it made the day a little less stressful.  Since stores are now opening Thursday evening, there seems to be a little pressure to get everyone home to get back out the door to the stores.

I am off topic, yet again.  The kids only had school Monday and Tuesday this week.  Gwen had her usual dance lesson, and both kids had their swimming lessons on Wednesday evening, but no chess or religion.  Plus, Russ was home all week so it didn't seem so unmanageable, but as always, time flies by.  As sort of a treat for the kids, since we didn't have to rush out of swimming lessons, I let them play in the leisure pool area for a while after their lessons.  Both kids were really looking forward to that.  Gwen passed her shallow water swim test, so I didn't even have to be in the water with her.  She was THRILLED!  She is to the point now where she can float on her own and swim about 5 yards unassisted both on her front and back and loves to be in the water.  I don't know if she will need her swim vest in Florida...although I'm guessing she will want it for confidence-sake.

The school also had its family breakfast, bright and early on Tuesday morning.  Gwen got a taste of eating a meal at the cafeteria, which I think she is really looking forward to doing next year.  I don't know what of the lunch meals she actually will feel like eating, but she knows its an advantage of being in 1st grade or older.

So Thursday comes....with the help of my mom, the house is reasonably organized and clean.  I only had to go to the grocery store 3 times that week.  And one more this weekend because of Trevor's birthday gathering.  Apparently, the turkey I got could have been larger, due to the fact my daughter decided she was going to eat practically all the dark meat off of the bird by herself.  "More Butterball Turkey, please!" she said more than twice.  Trevor ate a bunch of mashed potatoes, which I have never seen him eat and I believe he also ate a slice of banana cream pie?

We all fit at the large table....a little snug, but at least we didn't have a kids table this year.  Perhaps next year, as Trevor's birthday falls on the day before Thanksgiving, so for the next two years we are going to have to have his party on Thanksgiving.  Just something to think about for next year, family ;-)  But it was a good time.  I was thinking back....I believe that was my 11th turkey I had made.  Would have been 12 but I had a little surprise turkey of my own that foiled those plans.  But I must say, it has finally become easier and I have a certain level of confidence about it.  I know how to make the stuffing, and know about how long it will take to cook the turkey and clean it....I don't think I will ruin it anymore.  Yes, a disaster could happen, but my nervousness has decreased over the years.

So thank you to everyone who was able to come and join us this year.  We are blessed with so much health and happiness and have a great time.  There are two more celebrations - one as a big gathering, one as a small family for a certain birthday kid.  More to come on that.  Bottom line....I'm not willing to admit he has now hit the age where he is halfway to being an adult....*sigh*  Doesn't help that both kids have been breaking out the old photo albums and remarking how young everyone looked.  Well that it's been 8-9 years since those pictures were taken.....

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Man she would have fit right in to the 80s....

Ah you have really shown your true colors and how interesting it is for me to watch.  SO many things you like have to do with what was "cool" in my childhood.  Also interesting enough, when there haven't been things that I have kept, or able to pass down, they are back in style so I can go out and get them for her.  Part of it does have to do with her wanting to be older than she is...for example when we went to the pumpkin patch a few weeks ago, I broke out my heeled boots, and Gwen whined: "When can I get high heels?"  The kids ones, sandal-like with about a half inch are not good enough.  High heels are the one guilty pleasure I allow myself.  I know I wasn't even kind of interested in them until I was in high school yeah, she's ahead of the curve on that one.  She also just asked me the other day to teach her how to braid her hair.  She knows she isn't quite strong enough to do what she wants to her hair, but she is doing everything she can to become as independent as possible.  She picks out her clothes, brushes her hair and teeth at night and puts her pjs on.  

That goes to one of the things that remind me of the 80s....she was invited and went to a Halloween party a few weekends ago.  In her gift bag, she got a Halloween hair scrunchie.  Once she remembered she got it, she wore it every day.  Hair pulled back into a ponytail, with the scrunchie.  Since we are past the time of Halloween, and rather than wear that all year, I found a pack at Target.  Man was she in heaven!  They didn't have bright colors, but I at least found a purple now that is the scrunchie of choice.  Her "style" of clothing also is typical 80s....leggings, ruffle skirts...I'm tempted to do her hair in big bangs, but thankfully her bangs have finally grown out.

Toys....she has seemed to pass by her princesses in order to play with my old Barbies....yeah...I kind of forgot about those.  I knew they were going to be kept around because my grandma made a TON of clothes for the dolls.  I never really got into them.  When I had friends over, sometimes they would play with them.  I think I had more fun organizing the collection than actually playing with the dolls.  But lo-and-behold we have a winner with Gwen.  And yes, the high heeled shoes are probably the biggest hit.  I'm guessing we'll have to get a Ken doll with a tuxedo since I have two barbies with two different wedding dresses.  She's right now using her Aladdin doll, but he isn't in his wedding garb.  She has been talking about cabbage patch kids...she got one on one of her first birthdays and I have one that I can give her as well.  So I'm guessing those will make a comeback.  She has been hearing a lot about American Girl Dolls, so I went to borrow a book from the Library (I have a few of them in my old book box) but it is a little too old for her.  We are still reading one-sitting books.  I think next year is when the teacher starts reading chapter books, so I bet she might be more receptive next year....

Back to her style choice....she was wearing a long sleeved shirt today, and I don't know what possessed her to change, but she put a t-shirt over her long sleeved shirt.  Now all of Trevor's "winter" shirts are like this.  He can't wear sweatshirts without getting so hot, he wants to take it off.  So he has long sleeved shirts that look like a t-shirt over a long sleeved shirt.  I don't know if she is noticing other people with the same style or not.  But she so knows her styles.....

What a little girl she is.  And how fast she is becoming a little young lady.  Maybe if she gets all of her style choices now, I won't have to fight with her later???  Something tells me her teenage years are going to be very interesting......

The election

No...this will not be a stance on my political views...only an interesting night as seen from a mom's perspective.  I like to listen to what the kids are saying, and try to see if there is a teaching moment.  So Tuesday evening came, and while the elementary school had their student council elections, I had thought that  by 3rd grade they would at least talk about the electoral college.  Not so, I found out.  I told the kids we were going to watch the returns to see who would be the president.  I printed out the electoral college map and explained it to Trevor as best I could.  Trevor really didn't understand why we were watching it.  Bottom line, I explained that it was only something that they reported on every 4 years.  The next time he would get to experience it, was when he is in 7th grade.  YIKES!!!  I remember the last election and Trevor being in preschool.  Yep...seems like yesterday.

Anyway, the returns started coming in, and Gwen was completely uninterested.  Not really something I would expect a 5 year old to grasp.  I became entranced, the way I do when I see numbers rolling across the screen.  And numbers adding to other numbers?  Whoa....WAY too much excitement for me.  Trevor was hoping for an Obama win, so when Romney came out with an early lead, he got scared.  I tried to explain that states like California were yet to come, and he seemed to settle down.  I could tell he was also getting entranced by the numbers and the news kept up to date on countdowns to pole closings and such.  He started to color the states each candidate won and noticed trends like how Obama won the entire east coast and Romney had most of the south and central regions.  I let him stay up later than normal, and he had to give up his reading time, but like I only comes every 4 years.

He finally went up to bed at 9:30 with the promise that I would color in the states as far as I stayed up.  The race was called shortly after, but I was still entranced by the amendment voting that was taking place in our state.  Again, watching those numbers count upward was so mesmerizing!  Two nights after the Madonna concert, where I stayed up to 1:30 on a school night, I stayed up past 11:30 on election night.  As I figured, Trevor woke up at 6:30 and needed to know right away who won.  He completed his map, and brought it to school to explain to everyone what he learned that night.

I think it was a pretty educational night!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fun times

Coming back from our Disneyland trip, the fun for the kids just doesn't seem to have slowed down at all.  Because of Halloween, and the part that the school does not do a costume party during school hours, that left for a lot of "parties".  Trevor got to wear his costume at the school's Costume Party that took place the Friday before Halloween.  I was with Gwen during the party where she met up with two classmates and spent most of her time dancing at the dance party.  They also had a photo booth set up to take pictures, so now she has a photograph to remember the event by.  I have to say, it really made me want the time to slow down because it really was very easy to see her just a few years older going to a middle school dance.  She behaved exactly like those kids do...giggling and running around, dancing to the music.  I don't even know if they have dances like we did in Jr. High.  I do remember how much fun it was though.  After the party, Gwen was excited that she became good friends with one of the classmates she doesn't usually see.

Then last weekend, Trevor had his hockey tryouts.  This is his last year of mites, and he is hoping to make the advanced mite team.  Last year he was in intermediate.  He made the callback scrimmage on Sunday, and we found out on Tuesday, he made one of two advanced teams.  He was overjoyed.  So was I.  I knew it meant a lot to him to be able to progress every year.  The team already has 4 practices this let the hockey begin!  Also on Saturday, we headed to an Apple Orchard/Pumpkin Patch with Derek, Kyrsten and Adam.  It was a little chilly, but we got our warm cider, apple doughnuts, pumpkins, pictures and a hay ride.  Harvest time complete!  I couldn't believe what a well-behaved kids Adam was!  It was so nice of him to let us play around while he enjoyed snuggling in his warm clothes.

Gwen was invited to a classmates Halloween party last Sunday.  She was REALLY excited to go, because she had yet to have any actual playdates since school has started.  We know the girl from both school and she is in her dance class for the past two years.  It was a two hour party and when I picked her up, she didn't want to leave.  So we'll have to have the girl back over to our house sometime in the coming weekends.  Unfortunately, her parents work during the day, so she attends a daycare place when she is not at school.  Weekends are the only time.  So Gwen was able to get out her costume again for that party, and she got out her Jasmine costume again for her dance class costume party.  It was nice to be able to use that one again and I know it was much easier to move around in, than in her Merida dress.

Then, last Tuesday was the All-Star lunch.  I'm not sure if I mentioned this in my previous posts or not.  This lunch was set up by the school as a prize for selling their goal amount of fundraiser product in September.  The school's top 2 sellers were to be at the lunch and 5 more were drawn from the entire school.  At the lunch, would be Tony Oliva, who is a former Minnesota Twins baseball player.  The lunch was catered by TGIFridays and they had candles, flowers, a nice tablecloth, plates and made it all fancy for the kids.  After the lunch, the kids got to ride in a limo to Dairy Queen for a blizzard and back to school.  I made it a point to order all the product from family and friends through Trevor's name because I wanted him to have as many chances as possible to go to this lunch.  I did buy one ticket for Gwen so she could be in on her class drawings for treats.  So the drawing happened, and Trevor was one drawn!  I was so excited and so was he.  Shortly after, Gwen was drawn.  I was shocked....well, not really since I know she has a wild good luck streak.  Her odds were something like 1 in 400 or so.  I was just so glad that Trevor was already going, or I'm pretty sure there would have been a quick Hunger Games situation:  "I, her brother, nominate myself in her place to go to the lunch!".

I made sure to lay out the expectations for both kids, in order to behave at their "fancy restaurant" and had Trevor think of some questions he wanted to ask Tony.  He did, and I also said he probably would want to get his autograph.  Because both kids were at the lunch, I asked if I could go to take pictures and really to observe Trevor and his awe.  The other 3 kids that were drawn were two second grade girls and one first grade boy.  The two top sellers were two 3rd graders that Trevor has had in class before.  Yes, Trevor was in his element.  He sat across the table from Tony and chatted his ear off as much as he could.  He asked him if he remembered him from when he met him at the Metrodome.  I guess he did a meet and greet there when Trevor was...4???  Tony politely said no.  Trevor asked him what it was like to play for the Twins.  He said that he was very lucky.  He came from Cuba and didn't really know what it meant to play professional baseball.  He just knew he liked to play it, and loved the people he was with.  Although Tony has retired from playing baseball, he has had a lot of different roles with the Twins.  I believe he was a batting coach during one of the times the Twins won the World Series, so he had a World Series ring on.  He passed it around so the kids could take a look at it.  Trevor's eyes lit up.  Then he started rattling off all the baseball facts about the world series that he could remember:  How many times the Twins the Twins weren't always the Twins....then started veering off into history lessons...why WWI eyes started rolling at this point, but Tony was a good sport.  He found out that he was my son, and he told me that I must have raised him right because he really knows his baseball stuff.  He would love to sit down with him more to chat about it.  Trevor was giddy at this point.

Tony had brought some pictures that he signed for the kids, and on the picture had some of his stats.  It stated that he has had 220 career home runs.  Trevor was again, in awe.  I felt bad that I didn't have him study up on Tony Oliva before we got there.  But all was good....the lunch ended, we got some pictures in front of the limo, and the kids were off to have their ice cream.  I knew Gwen enjoyed that part the best.  Limos are cool!  The principal was riding along with them, which was good since the kids were contained.

The kids got back to school at 1:00, and Gwen headed right to class.  We carved more traditional pumpkins than we had in many years.  And then the next day she got another treat:  Another kid from her class asked if we would like to have a standing playdate on Wednesdays where every week they would go to each other's houses - trading off.  That week it was her friends house.  And it was the day was extra special.  I was able to get my windshield replaced on my car and have it back before the kids were done with school.  I made sure everything was set, and we headed out for the night.  It was chilly so I rode in a car while the kids walked.  We were able to hit a lot of different neighborhoods and get plenty of candy.  I was glad when that day was over.

Too much fun!  It should be illegal.  It sure is tiring on a mom.  It is now November:  another birthday month, and party month.  Less than 8 weeks until Christmas...I guess I should be starting to organize the Christmas stuff as well.  Happy Holidays everyone!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Day 3 parks

Well we started the day knowing that we bought park tickets with an extra morning hour that we could use and Saturday was going to be the only day we could use it.  That meant getting up and out the door a little earlier than usual.  We made it to the gates at 7:30, so we got a half hour start on everyone.  It was drizzling, and I let Russ take the kids to go on some early rides while I took the passes to get a fastpass for Radiator Springs Racers.  One of the big bonuses to being in nearby parks!  We had our only character dining reservation that day at 2:50 in the California Adventures Park, so we could spend most of the day at Disneyland making sure we got all the rides in we wanted.  I also wanted to check out the Jamboree where they had a place to meet a Villain.  Russ and the kids went on another round of Star Tours and the Nemo Submarine ride that always gets packed.  I met up with the family at Pixie Hollow where the kids got to meet Periwinkle (the new Disney Fairy that turns out to be Tinkerbelle's sister) and then Tink herself. 

I had wanted to go on the Alice and Wonderland ride because there wasn't one in Disney World, but the ride was down for the morning.  So we ventured over to its a Small World and grabbed some popcorn on the go.  That ride was working, so we went on it.  It goes part of the ride outside, and seemed to be a longer ride than Disney World.  It seemed like they tried to put at least one Disney or Pixar Character in each theme which was cool.  So the only other ride I wanted the kids to try was Big Thunder Mountain Railroad coaster.  Gwen was tall enough, and I knew there weren't any big dips for her.  I didn't remember there being any dark tunnels for Trevor's fear, but apparently there were too many for him.  So Gwen loved it and Trevor hated it.  I wonder if it was after too many days of not enough sleep for him that he was just tired of being apprehensive about going on a new ride.  If that was the first ride we went on, I don't think he would have cared as much. 

So then we went up to the Jamboree that they put on during the Halloween season.  They had a band, people carving pumpkins, special food, arts and crafts, and a Villian conjuring station.  They take a group into a tent, cast a spell and a villian comes out you can get your picture taken with and talk to.  So we did that, and the first time it was Cruella De Ville.  She was AWESOME.  She was so interactive, snotty, and exactly like the character in the movie.  But she wasn't mean at all.  She asked Gwen what her favorite color was, and she said purple, to which Cruella said, "well, that makes one of us."  She also asked her what her favorite animal was, and Gwen said a cat, and Cruella said that she loves dogs.  If Gwen happened to see Pluto, tell him that Cruella is looking for him.  Gwen laughed at that and will laugh and tell anyone that asks about it.  Then they kind of put on a fashion photography session.  Cruella had Gwen get into her coat, and then the picture was taken when she opened the coat.  Trevor got his own time with her, and she asked him to show her some of his model poses.  That's the pictures that we got.  Trevor had to strike a bunch of poses, and Cruella evaluated them...most of the time saying that they were really good poses.  When she signed his book, she signed it on the first page, because she knew he saved that spot just for her, the most important person. 

I took Gwen over to try to get some time with Rapunzel, but the wait was 90 minutes.  So she settled for the Merry go round and a walk through Sleeping Beauty's castle.  They had a story to see about Sleeping Beauty.  So we decided to go back to see another villain.  Russ wanted to try to get on Space Mountain, but the fastpass was already past 8:00.  Our villain this time was the Queen from Snow White.  Gwen was the one that got to wave the magic wand to conjure her, so she was pretty psyched.  Unfortunately, this one wasn't as interactive.  Just kind of quiet and thinking she was the best thing ever.  So we did get her autograph and picture and met the boys outside the park to head over to California Adventures. 

They stopped in for ice cream to tide them over until the 2:50 lunch/dinner meal.  I went and got fastpasses for Trevor's favorite rollercoaster - California Screamin.  We rode on Radiator Springs Racers, and luckily got the other track so this time we got Luigi's tire shop and changed tires instead of Ramone's to change the paint job.  We didn't get a racing partner, so we still "won" and got a picture with my bangs in my face, but Gwen was still completely blocked from the picture.  We knew that the last day at the park meant to get a gift for each of the kids.  Trevor looked all over the Radiator Springs gift shops to see if he could find a prized Miguel Cabraro (I think that's his name) racecar from Cars 2 movie.  Unfortunately, there wasn't one that they could find.  So I found a reference book...all about the diecast cars.  I believe the cover boasted something like over 300 diecast cars listed.  Immediately Trevor was sucked in.  He learned about the cars he had and cars he didn't have yet.  It probably was somewhere right at his level for I don't know that it will stand the test of time, but for now, it had his interest. 

We decided to head across the street to go on Mater's junkyard jamboree one last time.  Trevor read his book the entire ride wait time.  He pointed out to me facts like "Jeff Gordon was the voice of Jeff Gorvette in the movie!" and how many Mater cars he doesn't have yet. 

That reminds me...I did miss one event on our first park day.  Before we went on Radiator Springs Racers for the first time, we ate at the real Flo's V-8 Cafe.  They served diner food.  I had beef with gravy, mashed potatoes, grilled corn and pasta salad.  I was worried that Gwen wouldn't eat anything, but she had her beef, bun, and fruit.  Trevor wasn't too thrilled with the meat...but I thought he would be.  I got a cute picture of Gwen in front of the cafe.  Another one of those things they really got just like the movie. back to day 3....we had yet to go on the Ariel Undersea adventure ride.  Gwen enjoyed was very Peter Pan or other storybook rides Disney does.  Since we were right there, we headed over to our lunch/dinner place.  We were a few minutes early, but nothing we couldn't wait a few minutes for.  First up was to get our picture taken with Ariel.  Then get our 3 course meal....antipasta, salad, main meal, and dessert.  Gwen got spaghetti and meatballs and Trevor ate Russ's fish while Russ ate some of his side dishes and some of Trevor's spaghetti.  I got more meat and gravy....yummy.....and dessert was great too.  Cookies, white chocolate, flourless chocolate cake, 4 different kinds of cupcakes and fruit.  During the meal, our princesses came out to visit:  Cinderella, Belle, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. 

After the lunch/dinner the boys went to go on the roller coaster their last two times.  I took Gwen on the Ariel ride again.  Outside was the Phinneas and Ferb dance party that we saw the first park day.  She joined right in to dance again.  Then we walked over to meet the guys again over by the front of the park.  We missed a different dance party that I know Gwen would have enjoyed, but I never saw it advertised anywhere, so I'm wondering if it was super secret or something.  Instead we decided to do the Monster's Inc ride again.  This time, at the end, the Roz talked to Gwen.  She said, "Hey girl in the second row, I like your hair!"  Gwen still had her hair done up with the black Jasmine hair extensions.  And of course, just like the Mr. Potato Head a few days ago, she was just shocked that the character could see and talk to her! 

I checked my phone to see that Alice In Wonderland had a 30 minute wait (at least it was operating) so we decided to trek one more time over to the other park.  We waited in line, went on the ride and then knew it was close to the end.  I believe it was close to 5:30 or so.  I had asked if Gwen wanted me to run over to the Haunted Mansion to pick out a Sally shirt for her but then I knew I wouldn't be able to pick out what she would like.  Two shops later, her choice was a soft Sally doll, similar to her soft princess dolls she takes to sleep with her.  She LOVED that thing.  I'm glad she was able to get something she too would like and remember the trip by.  She also had a new Jasmine costume from the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, so she wasn't just leaving with Sally.  Disneyland was very packed at this time, the busiest by far we had seen since we had been there.  I'm so glad we got to the parks when it was significantly less crowded.  I was also seeing a lot of groups that day at the parks.  I bet a lot of locals go during the weekend. 

So we were back to the hotel, although it was already getting dark...we needed a little bit of food which we ordered from the hotel restaurant, and started packing.  Our flight was 8am on Sunday, so we packed as much as we could, got up at 6, on the road by 6:30 and made it through security by 7:15.  Flight back was uneventful and most of Sunday was spent organizing and cleaning up, ready for school on Monday. 

And with that...our trip to California was over.  Russ stayed back to do laundry, get a nap in and go back to work on Monday in San Diego.  In looking back, I think both Russ and I were surprised at how neat it was.  We had both been to Disneyland before, but it had been about 20 years ago.  Especially since we knew Disney World really well, I don't think either of us were expecting much.  It was nice to be able to visit Carsland while Trevor hasn't hit his teenage years yet.  But everything on top of that was spectacular.  We have even mentioned, maybe we could do that again sometime.  It was so convenient to be able to park hop...and completely unrealistic at Disney World.  Rides - they were both really equal.  The Land doesn't have Epcot and its rides...except the family's favorite ride - Test Track has been transformed into Radiator Springs Racers....better than Epcot, in our opinion.  The Pirates ride was better in the Land.  We got to experience the changes that they do at Halloween, decorations and rides.  I will say the one big difference they don't have is all the different food options.  If you want to eat at the World, you have at least 100 options.  I'm pretty sure you have half that at the Land.  Epcot has so many different cuisine options, not to mention the other parks.  That was my biggest challenge.  I was glad to make a reservation at the princess dining place, but the other ones, I wasn't sure.  "Next time"...if there ever is one....I want to eat at the Blue Bayou.  The smells were sooo good riding on Pirates.  I would love to stay at a hotel that really was within walking distance.  We were able to stay at our hotel completely on points, but it wasn't within true walking distance.  It was probably a half a mile away...which wasn't too bad, but I knew coming back at night wouldn't be fun to carry Gwen that far. 

And next is finishing up all those pictures....that may take a while.....   

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Disneyland Day 2 - Our Halloween

I learned that because this was a Friday, the parks opened an hour earlier and even an hour before that was extra magic morning hour at California Adventure for hotel guests.  We were there on Thursday at 8:30 before the park opened, and we made it just a little after 8:00 to Disneyland for the day.  I brought our costumes in the car, in case we weren't going to go back to the hotel to change, but that was the goal.  To get a little rest before our "Mickey's Halloween Party" started at 7:00.  That was when the park closed to guests not having a party ticket.  They were sold out for the evening, so we expected a crowd. 

But first, I sent the boys to get a fast pass for is a car ride around a track, like the old time cars at Valleyfair, or the similar ones at Disney World.  Gwen and I went to look at Sleeping Beauty's castle and get her picture taken in front of it.  Then we went over to meet Merida (from the movie Brave).  She was about to open for the day, so we were one of the first ones to get her picture.  Afterwards, we went right next door to meet 3 of the princesses.  Gwen saw Ariel, Belle, and Tiana.  Trevor wasn't all that interested.  We met back up with the boys in time to go to Toontown.  I had had the kids watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit a few weeks ago so they knew what it was about.  We rode Roger Rabbits ride, with Trevor complaining the whole time.  He didn't like how dark and unsure of what was going to be around the corner.  It wasn't exactly like a pooh ride, but I wouldn't say it was scary either.  Just one of those things you could scare yourself about if you were 8.  Gwen had a good time though.  Outside, they had a bunch of characters....goofy, pluto, and Mickey and Minnie in their houses.  They also had a bunch of gags...Trevor found the TNT lever that blew up the house only 25% of the time.  The other time it made funny noises.  He had a good time finding all the funny things that happen when you push buttons or pull door handles or such.  It was outside, in the sun, so he didn't mind.  Then he would try to gag someone else with it.  There was one roller-coaster ride, and we all went on it, but Trevor wasn't even kind-of impressed.  Gwen loved it.  It was for younger kids.  So we moved on.

We had an appointment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique for 11:30, but it was only 10:30 so I figured first thing was to eat.  We found someplace where Russ could get a breakfast burrito, I got some eggs, bacon, and breakfast potatoes, Gwen got fruit, and Trevor got french toast.  While watching the cool Jedi Training Academy, we ate, and Trevor explained, he's already a Jedi Knight, so he didn't want to essentially be demoted to Padawan again.  Fine by me!  After eating, we used the fastpasses for the Autopia since we were nearby and I took Gwen over to the BBB to pick out her outfit.  I admit, in Florida, I picked out her hairstyle and dress since I knew I could buy it cheaper at the Disney Store and bring it with to the appointment, but I figured she had some time to think about which princess she wanted to be, and while she is going to be Merida from the movie Brave for Halloween, the dress was too warm to wear all day, so she got to pick out a new princess outfit.  Of course she picked out the skimpy Jasmine outfit.  I figured, she is 5, I'll let her win this one, but if she pulls it at 13, I'm hoping Russ won't allow her out the door.  She also picked her hairstyle, which included black hair extensions, called "pop diva princess".  Good grief...there went my cute little toddler.  I asked Trevor if he wanted to do his knight makeover again, and he was all for it, because that meant getting another sword and shield to play with.  A big difference between this BBB and the one in Florida is the space, the "reveal" and the photo studio.  Much better than in Florida.  When you are done, they have birds that pull the curtains always over the mirror while your makeover is happening.  It makes it much more dramatic.  Then the photo studio has fake animals, and a coach for the princesses to ride in.  Pretty cool set-up.  So now that that was done, Gwen was set for her Halloween costume for the evening.

We decided to make our way across the park to Pirates of the Caribbean.  The way they built the ride, you sail in and around their restaurant where the smells are wonderful.  I believe it was the Blue Bayou restaurant.  It wasn't the same ride as Disney World and I liked the little changes.  It seemed to be longer as well.  Since we were right nearby, we decided to head to the Haunted Mansion.  Disneyland changes this for Halloween through Christmas to put it into the theme of Nightmare Before Christmas.  I borrowed the movie from Netflix because I wasn't sure what the kids would think of it.  I had never seen it before.  I was amazed that they loved it.  I thought it was ok.  I have boycotted Tim Burton films because I thought they were too dark.  I had stayed away from the Disney movie Ponyo because I didn't think it would be interesting enough for the kids.  I was wrong on both counts.  And when I explained after watching the Nightmare Before Christmas movie, that it was how the Haunted Mansion was decorated for Halloween, both kids were excited to go on it.  It wasn't perfectly harmless, in that there were a few dark and jump-out parts, but I rode with Trevor, and he remembered where they were so he "shielded" his eyes (with his shield...har har).  It was significantly less scary.  Both kids wanted to go on it again, but we didn't have time.  We decided to take an hour break back at the hotel to get in our costumes and take a little down time before coming back to the park for the Halloween Party. 

So we got checked in to the party with our magic wristbands and headed for a ride on Star Tours since we had fast passes.  We were a little early since the party started at 7pm.  After the Star Tours ride, we used the map that had all the treat stations out.  Trevor was set on hitting as many of them as possible.  I brought the gang up to where I thought we could meet the villains, but it turns out they were only there during the daytime. facts were goofed up.  So we hit some treat stations then saw that Dumbo's ride and Pinocchio's ride had almost no wait.  Trevor hated Pinocchio's ride because it was too dark and scary but was ok with Dumbo.  At least we got those off of the to-do list.  Dumbo's ride was down when we were in Florida.  The kids said they wanted to do the Haunted Mansion again, so we started making our way over there, but still hitting the treat stations as we walked.  Russ made it to the meet-and-greet with Jack Skellington (main character of Nightmare Before Christmas) and called me to see if we wanted him to stand in line.  The kids said a loud:  YES, since they didn't get their picture with him before.  We went through two treat lines before meeting up with Russ, and the line didn't move much.  45 minutes later (the longest we had to wait in line all weekend) we made it to Jack.  After the kids got his autograph, suddenly, his girlfriend Sally appeared.  Gwen was in HEAVEN.  She LOVED Sally from the movie, and got her autograph.  After a few pictures, we asked if Jack wouldn't mind moving out of the picture, to which he said that his feelings were hurt.  But he did it.  I cannot tell you how much that picture and meeting with Sally made Gwen's whole trip. 

We only ended up spending 2 1/2 hours at the party, but it was really neat to see all the decorations, and to get a better feel for what it is like....if we ever do something like this again.  Pictures of the day included:  Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, family picture in front of the Mickey Pumpkin with our costumes, Tianna, Belle, Ariel, Merida, Jack, and Sally.  There were fireworks going on when we left, but they really aren't the kids' thing.  They needed sleep, and wanted to sort their candy....They got so much that we had to say they could carry two kinds of their favorites home, but the rest had to stay in California.  I have to say, after this "Halloween" at Disney, I never thought I would enjoy a Halloween celebration like I did when I was a kid.  But again, Disney surprised me.  I LOVE how Disney does Halloween! 

Monday, October 22, 2012

A truely magical MEA break Day 1

Well who could pass up an opportunity like this.  Russ was traveling to southern California, home of Disneyland.  I could get my ticket paid for by Russ's job since he wouldn't be flying back home for the weekend.  Russ could comp both kids tickets on miles and our hotel would also be used on points.  We had a large amount already saved up from Disney Rewards Dollars even though we used a lot on our trip out to Disney World this year.  The kids were off Wednesday through Friday instead of just Thursday and Friday for MEA break.  So except for the park tickets, this would be a low cost Disney trip. 

I was a bit nervous to travel with the kids by myself, and our seats weren't all in the same row.  Trevor sat in the middle seat in front of us.  When asked though, Trevor preferred to be away from me.  HA...guess that's a test of his independence.  I was slightly worried about how much he would chat up his neighbors...and yes, he did to a business guy on the aisle, but he seemed very understanding and helpful.  Trevor for the most part just wanted to play his Nintendo DS.  Gwen was entertained by coloring, reading, and chatting with the teenage girls behind her.  They passed notes and drawings and candy through the seats.  Gwen loved it. 

We got in right on time, and because Russ checked a bag free, we didn't check any bags.  We got to the hotel around 5:30 and were in the outdoor pool by 6:00 California time.  It was a good way to burn off some energy.  I figured it wouldn't work all that well because we were not going back home to Minnesota until Sunday and that wouldn't give us time to re-adjust.  So the kids fell asleep between 8 and 9 but were up right at 6am all three mornings.  I tried to do a quick breakfast of cereal in the room and off we went to the parks.  We decided to drive and park with a rental car.  We were close enough to walk, but to walk home at night was going to be draining.  I learned where the real walking hotels are. 

We got to the parks before they opened at 9 (M-Thursday non-summer hours).  We were let in at 8:30 so I could get our photopass card to have the photographers scan when we took pictures.  Russ stood in line for the Radiator Springs Racers fastpass.  When the park opened and he got through that line, he went over to get a show pass for World of Color that night at 8:15pm.  I had a loose plan for the rides we should go on and when and we headed over to Carsland to take that all in.  It was awesome!  They have two less popular rides, one like bumper cars but on air called Luigi's flying tires and a spinner ride called Mater's Junkyard.  Next we headed to do Toy Story Mania which is identical to the ride at Disney World, but still a fun one for the kids.  Then we did Mickey's Fun Wheel where you can choose to sit in a stationary Ferris wheel car, or they have spinning carts that swing in a loop depending on where you are on the wheel.  Gwen was a bit freaked out at first, but ended up going on in a few times.  Trevor was a bit nervous at seeing the big Roller Coaster there, but when we got fast passes, he decided to give it a shot.  It starts out by slinging you up a hill...I think it gets you going from 0 to 60 in 2 seconds or something....and then runs you around and you do one loop upside down.  Thankfully it is all outside and no tunnels to throw scary thoughts into your head.  I went on it with Trevor first (it was the only ride Gwen wasn't tall enough to ride on) and he was hooked.  Especially since we got fastpasses for 4 rides instead of just 2.  Then he could go on it saved him 30 minutes of waiting in line every time. 

I have a phone app that was able to give me ride wait times, and this new Cars ride is so popular that waits averaged 120 minutes while we were at the parks.  The other thing that was extremely helpful was that it was also a ride that would shut down due to animatronics issues.  So I could see when it closed.  Even though our fastpass window was for somewhere around 1:00, we didn't have to stay within the 1 hour window.  As long as we waited until the start of the window, we could go on the ride anytime later that day.  We decided it was time, and waited around 30 minutes even in the fastpass line.  The kids favorite ride at Disneyworld was Test Track, where you are in a car "testing" out car things like wheel traction, heat and cooling, suspension...etc.  Well, this is similar except they put it all in Cars theme.  You leisurely drive through Radiator Springs just like Sally and LMQ do in the movie...same music in the background.  You suprisingly come across you do in Test Track to a honking Semi.  You go into either Luigi's to get a tire change or Ramone's to get a paint job. race.  You quickly go through the track against another car.  The first time we went, we "won" which I'm pretty sure Trevor was thrilled about.  He said he wasn't thrilled that they used their tactics to "scare" you with Mack and Frank the Tractor but I always like how Disney does things extra Disney...Test Track really didn't have any Disney characters, and this one was all out Cars.  Maybe next time we should try to do the ride at night, if we go back during a time it gets dark earlier. 

So after RSR (Radiator Springs Racers) we went over to nearby Bugs Life rides and area.  It was much more geared towards young kids, so we went on a chew chew train (Heimlich) and looked at the clock and knew it was time to hit the Aladdin show.  They did the Beauty and the Beast show at Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida, but I would say that Aladdin was better.  It was in an enclosed theater, lots of lights, and special effects.  The genie was up-to-date on humor....talking about binders of women and all as well as the length of RSR wait lines.  This was another thing we did that Gwen said was amazing.  After Aladdin, we went on the Monster's Inc. ride and came out to find we were just in time for the Pixar parade.  Russ grabbed some popcorn and we watched it come down the street.  We didn't plan this one, and it ended up being the exact same parade as DHS in Florida.  Its cute, but not necessary if you've seen it once.

We walked over to grab Soarin' fast passes, which is another identical ride found at Epcot, but an enjoyable ride at least for the kids.  The return time started at 7pm so I wasn't sure if everyone was going to make it.  We rode one last ride:  Goofy's flight school which is like the 4 person roller coaster at Valleyfair that Gwen couldn't go on because of her height this summer.  Well, she went on this one and didn't like it.  She wasn't a fan of the drops.  Of course that is one of the best things about a roller coaster...but at least she tried it.  We decided to go to the burger and fries dining place to grab some food before walking back over to see Carsland in the dark...or I should say lit up with its neon.  Really cool...exactly like the movie.  Totally Disney.

So I went down to save a spot for us at the World of Color.  I didn't get a perfect spot, but we were able to get a decent view.  Gwen was exhausted and ready to fall asleep, but the music and animation were enough to keep her awake.  So she made it until 10:30 MN time that night. 

Throughout the day, we had many pictures taken...the kids got their autograph books first thing and got Donald, and Woody signatures.  We have pictures taken from the Carsland sign, Neon'ed Radiator Springs, the ride photo from RSR, with Donald, Lightning McQueen, Flik from Bugs Life, Red from Cars, Woody, Jake, Handy Manny, and the rollercoaster ride California Screamin'.  When we asked Gwen what her favorite part of the day was, she said it was when Mr. Potato Head talked to her.  They had an animated MPH outside of Toy Story Mania.  Somewhere there was a camera to show who was looking or talking to the character.  Soon after Gwen said hi...MPH said to her:  Hi!  Girl in the white!  I see you!  Who is your favorite character?  She said "You Mr. Potato Head".  He says, "aww...thank you.  You are so sweet."  She was amazed that he talked to her.  Gotta love that Disney Magic! 

More to come from days 2 and 3!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Gwen's week

I should say, that before the continuation of Gwen's week, we did have a day where we had to give the kids equal treatment.  Gwen's birthday was last Wednesday, and the next Thursday we had the kids' school conferences.  I was a little bit nervous, seeing as how I had hoped that both kids were making a good impression on their teachers this year.  My concern for Gwen was simply that we had made the right choice sending her early.  From what she has told me, she loves it and wants to go all day.  I was hoping that the teacher would feel the same way.  With Trevor, he had a bit of a rough year last year, and I was just hoping this year would be a little bit easier on him.  Similar to Gwen, he was remarking how well he was doing, and I was hoping his teacher would say something similar. 

With both kids, I was blown away.  With Trevor's teacher, she didn't focus on his "issues" simply noted how Trevor was also aware of them and working to minimize those things.  She had wonderful things to say about him and has done a wonderful job of complimenting him on the things he does very well in order to build his self esteem.  With Gwen, her teacher wouldn't have even known that she was young compared to her classmates except that she was telling everyone the day before that she was turning 5.  He had to ask her a time or two to be sure.  She has been conducting herself very well and in line with the other classmates.  He also remarked at how well her class gets along with each other and that it is a really fun class to be a part of.  It was so heartwarming!

So after that meeting, we picked the kids up and told them that we had been planning a trip to DisneyLand!  We had just planned it a few weeks before, but wanted to make sure that they were doing well at school first.  Russ was expecting yelps of joy and utter excitement, but in reality they weren't exactly jumping up and down.  NOT because they were bored with the idea, but kind of like me, they needed time for the information to set in.  That weekend, I got out all of our pin trading that we had done in March, and the kids got PUMPED for that.  I never would have guessed that part would be really exciting, but it was.  Kind of like a little treasure hunt for them.  I got a bunch of pins sold in bulk off of ebay and they picked through them to decide which they were willing to trade and which ones they wanted to keep. 

On Sunday, it was Gwen's family birthday party.  We did have a small recognition for her on Wednesday, with just Russ, Trevor and I to sing Happy Birthday, blow out her candle on a brownie and open her Merida (Brave) costume and big Heartlake City Stables Lego Friends that had over 1000 pieces.  We got her Olivia's house that had over 600 pieces around Easter and she has put that together by herself.  She got about the same distance through the stables before she handed it over to me. 

So Sunday, we had burgers, brats and hot dogs for dinner with french fries and chocolate cake for candles and singing time.  Gwen was PUMPED for her excited that everyone could come, that she got to play with and see both of her cousins....she did want to play party games, which was a little difficult given the age range of the guests...but she did have a windfall of gifts.  More Lego Friends again...I believe she is 2-3 sets away from the entire Heartlake City.  And she got a wonderful Barbie-sized Merida doll and horse that she is able to play with when she wants a little break from her Lego Friends.  We were able to complete all 6 sets within 4 days but now she has in the teens, the number of Lego Friends characters.  It is because we have so many friends, that I cannot throw away the boxes that the sets came in.  She can look at the faces of the characters and know which set they came with, then will look at the box to remember the name.  It is very confusing.  Especially because none of the names are also friends of hers.  It would be easy if their names were Megan, Ellen, Elizabeth, etc.  But they are Stephanie, Sophie, Ella, etc.  Cute names, just hard to remember. 

Rolling right into Monday, we went to her 5 year check-up.  Because we had already gotten her immunizations for Kindergarten, it was a very "boring" check up.  They measured her height at 43.5" and weight at 44lbs.  She's still a square...virtually.  Both her height and weight measured at the 75%.  The doctor told her she won't have to get shots until she is 11, which hopefully she believes him rather than asking me every week if she has to get more. 

And then to round out the week, the kids' school did their drawing for their Fall Fundraiser.  The "big" prize this year is a lunch with Tony Oliva, followed by a ride in a limo to DQ to eat a blizzard and drive around for a bit.  They had a mid-range prize that was given to the top seller in each class, and one drawn student from each class.  I had chosen to put all our purchases with Trevor so he could have more of a chance to be drawn for the drawings, because I figured, Gwen being in Kindergarten and only half-day wouldn't really care a whole lot about the lunch, or even pay that much attention to it.  Found out that Trevor was not the top seller in his class, by about $50, but that he did get drawn for the classroom drawing.  The overall lunch was drawn from the entire school, and Trevor was SUPER excited that he got drawn for the lunch with Tony Oliva.  Would you believe Gwen got drawn too?  Her name was in the bucket one time.  I gave a cash donation in her name so that she could be included in the drawings, but like I said, I wanted Trevor to have more of a chance.  Trevor's name was put in 5 times.  Gwen was put in once.  The entire school drawing, only 5 names were drawn.  I'm pretty sure her odds were around 1 in 750 at least.  That girl has always been crazy lucky.  But I'm very thankful that Trevor was drawn too because I don't know that he would have been very happy had Gwen gotten to go, and he couldn't. 

Regardless....we will be in warm California next week enjoying the company of Mickey and Lightning McQueen.  I can't wait to be warm again!  I know its only been a few weeks but I don't want to have to wait until March before I feel warm again!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby Girl!

Yep, it was that old starting phrase....5 years ago today....I remember where I was.  Strangely not a lot had been going on at this time in the morning.  I had a fast labor.  First contraction at about 11am, born at 3:33pm.  But I remember feeling I was sick and tired of being sick and tired of being pregnant with you.  I had a doctor appointment to see how the pregnancy was going and being a week past my due date I had just about had it.  As with your life, you are your own person with your own ideas of how things should go. 

It has been a great 5 years, and so different than your brother when he was the same age.  Different interests, different friendships, different communication.  This year we started you in Kindergarten, a year earlier than is the norm.  But you were ready.  If you had your way, you'd be in first grade this year.  You love school and all things about it, which is why you would prefer to be staying as long as you can.  You love dance class and all things music.  I think in January we will start you on your own piano lessons.  I know you are ready for that as well, but we need to get through our busy season first.  You love all things girl/woman/princess.  You love getting your nails done (as long as they don't use the clippers!!!), you love having your hair done.  You want to wear as high heeled shoes as possible and have asked me to keep the ones that I wear for you when you are older.  You want to wear make-up and thankfully are ok with chapstick on your lips as a substitute.  You enjoy telling people about all your boyfriends and talk about who you want to marry.  You are accepting of being carted off with me on our many adventures.  Granted, they don't end up being especially exciting adventures, but are accepting of bringing a book and some dolls and making do.  You love to help, whether it is baking, cleaning, or running errands.  If you think there is some way you can help you are all for it.  Yesterday was spent raking leaves and while you liked to jump in them, you were very eager to help put them into bags when it was time.  At age 4, when asked what your favorite subject was, you knew it was reading.  You do have a love for reading already.  You don't get frustrated easily so reading has a lot of joy for you.  You are willing to spell out words so you can keep reading to yourself.  We still have our nighttime reading sessions where I read to you, but other times you are more than willing to read to me or to yourself. 

I feel as though you have grown up so much in these first 5 years.  I cannot wait to see what this next year brings as well as the future years.  You have taught me so much because although you may look a little like me, I have learned how to embrace my inner "princess".  Thank you for being my teacher darling girl!  Have a wonderful birthday with all the fun activities we have planned! 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Getting geared up....

Not as though I had any time to gear up for was a weekend where I had two nights of something going on.  It was then followed by a Sunday of family time at the last home Twins game of the season.  Unfortunately, that left little time for anything else.  And we have a birthday in 3 days.  I have not yet even planned her friend party.  Thank goodness she hasn't even asked about it, because as I said previously, I think she would just prefer to have a bunch of her friends over for a playdate at her house.  We will see how it all works out after this week. 

Friday night, I hosted our 3rd annual wine party hosted by Vicky and Richwood Winery. I have a wonderful group of mom friends.  And a wonderful excuse to get us all together for a very fun time!  It was great to see everyone again!

Saturday night, I invited myself to the Upper Midwest Regional Emmy awards.  Brian was nominated so I asked if I could come along as his "plus one".  Guys were in suits and ties, girls were in dresses.  They had it all ironed out so that the actual handing out of awards were done in groups of 5-6 at a time.  Not everyone was allowed their 15 second acceptance speech, so really it didn't take very long at all.  Unfortunately, their group didn't win as they were a city cable High School football broadcast up against FSN Twins, FSN Wild, and FSN Timberwolves.  Maybe one of these years they can pull out a win!  It was a fun time to be downtown all fancied up.  Funny thing, I ran into one of our golf pros at the course we play at up on the rooftop of Crave that night. 

Then Sunday, it was Kid appreciation day at the Twins game and we called and found out that their autograph session was not worth being there early for and headed out to the game.  Russ won the tickets for a contest he entered at his work and he picked that day's game.  Unfortunately he had to fly out to San Francisco that evening so he couldn't stay until the end of the game.  Because it was a Sunday, they invite the kids to run the bases after the game, which the kids both wanted in on.  Sadly, the Twins lost but being able to be on the field was pretty cool, I thought.  Trevor jumped up on the wall in center field so I got a picture of that in mid-jump.  Running the bases was more of an experience than getting a picture was.  There weren't very many good places to take a picture but I got what I could. 

This week its back-to-school with the little one's birthday on Wednesday.  She can bring treats for her class, we will have a special birthday dinner, dessert, and opening of presents before her family party next Sunday.  She is very excited, and actually after the kids conferences on Thursday, we plan on telling them about our spontaneous (at least from my perspective) trip to Disneyland in the middle of October for MEA break.  Then I'll have to get those last minute details finalized. 

So on the list of things to do, I can check off:  first day of school, first PTA meeting, and fall fundraiser.  Unfortunately (only kind-of) I have to add many more things to the list including:  Disney plans which include lots of reservations and tickets needed to make the trip a success and finalizing costumes for both kids.  Because we are going during the time we are, we are also going to attend Mickey's Halloween Party.  It will be a trip to remember because we don't plan on doing it again!  It just worked out so nicely with Russ traveling to San Diego and the kids being out of school for 3 days before a weekend.  I love planning for Disney, I just hope I don't mess it up too bad!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Another few weeks of school

Time always seems to fly on by once school starts...for me it goes from school to birthdays to holidays to the new year.  So while I know Trevor's birthday and Christmas are a ways out, I am already thinking of things that involve those two events.  Tonight I even double-checked with the kids on what they wanted to do for their "friends" party and I think both of them have changed their tune a bit.  Gwen had been saying Chuck E. Cheese for a bit, and while I would be fine with that, I think she still likes the idea of having a bunch of friends over to her house to play.  So that might be a change.  And then Trevor has said he wanted to do a sleepover, but when he came down to his guest list, I suggested maybe doing a waterpark birthday and having a few friends sleep at the hotel if they could.  I just don't know many of the kids well enough to know if they would even want or have been on a sleepover.  A different choice may be an option for more of them.  Oh well, it is a ways off, and we have time. 

Gwen is loving school, although not loving her quiet time after school.  She thinks that if she gets homework, she shouldn't have to go upstairs since Trevor has to do his homework right after school.  She has just started to get a cold, and this morning Trevor woke her up before 6:30 to see the planetary nebula from his window....I have no idea what he was talking about but Gwen has been pretty crabby ever since.  Hopefully she can get some better sleep tonight to keep the cold away.  But after her rest time, she is free to do her homework...which really isn't homework, it is just activity pages and books she didn't completely color at school.  To watch her work, it is amazing the complete difference between Trevor and Gwen.  She has yet to complain, she has a huge amount of patience (in order to do her "quality work" - as directed by her teacher), and she genuinely loves doing it.  I still remember Trevor's work, which even now, he prefers speed to accuracy so as to get it done with as fast as possible so he can move on to the things he wants to do.  I remember the fights we would get in just to get him to complete his reading of a book.  So I would say she is loving school right now. 

Trevor is off to a wonderful year so far.  He has gotten two rewards from school for being kind to his fellow students and won a drawing at the first school assembly.  The school has introduced a new planner system as well as an academic coach that has already given us one seminar on how to encourage and teach the kids to succeed by staying organized and owning their job as a student.  I'm struggling on letting it all go, and letting him find his own way, unless he asks.  So it seems this year he really has grown and is having a highly successful year...I'm hoping his conference in two weeks is along the same lines.  It would be such a relief to feel as though we really have turned a corner for him this year. 

Similar to his summer at the roller rink, he has already had a few chances to get to know girls a bit better to.  MAN does he have age 8!  What.the.heck?  We have had 2 swimming lessons already and although Gwen and he start the lessons at the same time, she ends 10 minutes earlier.  I told him on the first lesson he had to get himself out of the pool and into the locker room because I would be getting Gwen ready when he was done.  Didn't listen and went into the leisure area to have fun.  Typical Trevor.  So this week, I explained that he can't do it again, or he won't get McDonalds for dinner or his Nintendo for the night.  Didn't listen again...but this time, he was chatting up some girl.....probably in his class, who then walked by us and into the 10+ age women's locker room.  An older girl again?  Who does that?  Try to get older women?....oh wait.... it must be in his genes.  Well, its not from my side of the family anyway ;-) 

So that's it from me for the weeks of school so far.  I'm crossing my fingers on two wonderful conferences....It seems like it just might happen!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Week 1 kids are back in school!

Yahoo!  Mom's sure excited here!  We are a week down of school and everyone is still smiling!  Trevor had the least amount of change because most of his class followed into the next class, they just changed teachers.  There was one that transferred schools over the summer and three added, but only one from a different school.  I have already gotten notes home from his teacher on his classwork on how well he is doing and how impressed she is with his work.  And he is soaking it all up.  He told me he befriended the new girl in class that came from a different school.  Trevor said that she wants to write a book, and he said that he wanted to illustrate it with her.  At first, I thought it was a guy and then he clarified it was a girl.  Then I started to count back to realize that next year will probably be the year (if it was anything like my school) that kids started "going out" - meaning absolutely nothing except in name only.  Oh goodness.  Already???  REALLY????  I don't know that I am ready for that...but really I probably never will be so time to suck it up!  I'm looking forward to getting a good game plan on for Trevor to see how much he can learn this year. 

Gwen is so gosh darn excited for school every day.  The first day was huge, except that it is simply an hour and a half meeting with parents involved.  So technically the first real day was the next day, but from that point on, she has been telling me she wants to go all day, and when I told her that she couldn't be with her good friends that are in her class she said she still wanted to go all day, but that she would just bring them with her.  And the talks begin about how she can't wait until she is in first grade so she can go all day.  Now yes, there is a full-day option at her school, but I'm at home, and really Gwen has been looking forward to doing things with me and spending time playing with me and then gets amped up watching the clock to know when she gets to go to Kindergarten.  She also seems to think it is really cool to be able to walk past her classroom in the morning and peek in to see her teacher.  I'm glad she is having such a great experience!  I'm also so happy to know that she has an opportunity to expand her friends even though two of the girls she knows - one from dance and one from preschool - it will be great to be able to get to know their families better too. 

So this week, we are already in the thick of things with a PTA meeting, dance class, swimming lessons and I have been able to get some appointments for myself on the calendar too.  So this week, while hectic, it has been good to start to set a revised schedule.  Of course Trevor is already testing those rules to see if they still hold true, but I'm hoping that he'll come around quicker than usual since for him, the changes are virtually nothing.  I guess I should focus on gearing up for the upcoming birthdays/holidays.  I know those things pop up on me every year.  I'd love to actually be ready for them one of these years!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A beautiful end and a wonderful beginning

Thursday was HOT.  We spent the afternoon at a family friend's pool.  Everyone was getting ready for their back-to-school meeting the teachers evening.  So it was a great way to close out the summer with friends.  The kids did very well playing together.  As the kids get older it gets easier and easier to relax and not worry about them.  I love my mom friends and know that these friendships will be around for a long time.  Of the group that was at the pool, there are 6 families and none of us go to the same elementary school.  I've told a few of my friends that I think it works out REALLY well.  At least from my perspective.  My kids think it is a huge treat to be able to see these friends as opposed to seeing them every day at school as well.  I hope it continues into their teens!

So we made it to back-to-school night and unloaded the school supplies, met the new teachers, the kids saw their school friends, and I tried to keep it all together organizationally.  There is so much to try to keep track of and get ready for our first PTA meeting.  So not only did I play the part of parent, I also had to help with the PTA stuff too. 

As soon as Friday rolled around, we were off to the lake for a beautiful weekend of sun, water, golf, and fun family times.  The weather was nice and warm for me, although not warm enough for me to want to go swimming....but I was able to watch the kids if they did want to swim. 

Apparently, it was the weekend for Trevor to grow well beyond his years because he drove the boat by himself, could have been offered an alcoholic drink (which he could never drink if it was any form of carbonation...he tried it again and could not drink it), and then was asked to go behind the bar and serve a drink or two.  What got me was that Trevor didn't ask for ANY of it.  People were just willing to give it to him.  The kid already thinks he is the coolest thing out there, and I have no idea if it is possible, but if so his head grew even larger that weekend. 

I wanted to drive back home from the lake on Sunday instead of Monday so the kids could have two nights of sleeping in their beds, so we started back after dinner...around 6:15.  Gwen was so exhausted that she slept the whole way home and all the way until the next morning, around 6:30 and she was happily playing in her room until my required 7:00am time.  Trevor was ready to fall asleep before we got home at 8:30 but made it upstairs and asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow. 

And on the final day of our summer vacation, we were blessed with the arrival of becoming an aunt, uncle, and cousin to the newest Johnson boy.  I dropped Russ off at the hospital where he was delivered a few hours after we were back in town so he got to meet little Adam right away.  The kids love him and are excited to watch him grow.  I couldn't think of a better way to end our summer vacation than with the start of a new life in the family.   

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

State Fair...and we are READY!

Of course, here we are, end of the summer and HAD to get those last few things off the to-do list for the summer.  Well, it's not like you could do the State Fair during any other part of the year.  So last Friday, we went to the State Fair.  Russ was able to come with us this time, and we got to stay for a fair amount of time (pun intended).  I think I need to get a bit more familiar with where our favorite spots are before I go next time, because I didn't plan it all out very well. 

We did the animal barns as well as grabbed milkshakes outside the cow barn.  First thing into the fair, Gwen was hungry (at 10am) and decided on....a hot dog.  Trevor then wanted one too.  So at least we started out without the kids being hungry.  We got them through until the milkshakes.  After the milkshakes, we went on to the jumping trampolines.  That has been an annual event.  I don't know if it was because we had been to Valleyfair earlier in the week or not, but there was only one ride that the kids wanted to go on, and it was in the Kidway, so we didn't even buy tickets for it. 

Russ and the kids went on two rides of the Giant Slide, where Trevor was a little frustrated that he didn't go as fast as Gwen and Russ in their race, but it was a good lesson in what develops speed in a slide.  So from there, we went by the agriculture building which was right near the Skyride.  We took a round-trip ride before Russ had to head back home.  After the ride, we went to the food building to grab some cheese curds.  The kids enjoyed the fair cheese curds.  At this point, it was afternoon and getting REALLY hot in the sun.  There was enough shade where we went to stay cool and I knew we had to go over to the Twins tent.  Unfortunately, there wasn't any shade there.  Gwen wanted to do the jumping house and Trevor saw they were doing a home run contest with an inflatable fence.  I think the height was 7ft tall.  The distance was maybe 25 feet from where the kids were hitting the ball.  They had pretend bases and the pitcher was one of the workers.  They had wiffle balls and thin plastic bats.  I knew Trevor was pumped.  He had 4 chances, and as he was up the 4th time, Gwen was melting down....literally and emotionally.  I was able to watch him bat, and the first 2 times he hit well enough to get on base but not over the fence.  One time, he popped out to first base.  Finally, luckily his last time, he hit one over the fence.  Obviously he knew this really meant nothing as there was no prize, the event cost no money to enter, but the grin on his face was priceless.  This boy loves baseball. 

After the Twins area, it was time to head back to the other side of the fair, where our car was parked.  So we walked, being in the shade as much as possible.  We were home by 3, able to rest and cool down.

So on to this (Wednesday) was the day that I made sure to get our school-related to-dos done.  I double-checked the supply list and we are set.  Both kids needed haircuts.  Both kids needed a first-day-of-school outfit.  And if we had time, I needed a few things at Target.  So when I told Trevor the list of things we needed to do, I knew he wasn't going to be super keen on shopping for clothes (yep, he's my son).  But I knew I would be able to at least let him take care of the items he needed to get if I gave him a list and a size.  I was right.  So I hung around with Gwen and let her roam to see what she wanted to get. 

I heard Trevor ask the salesperson if they had Ninjago t-shirts and she was a bit puzzled.  I knew they didn't.  The shirt that he did pick out I think was a result of being forced to pick one.  He tried it on, and it was too big for him.  So we put it back and I told him we would check out Target.  He wasn't really thrilled with that idea, but when I told him we had other things to pick up anyway, he was ok with it.  Gwen found a nice shirt and skirt so we were off. 

We went into Target and split off again.  I told him to look for his t-shirt and Gwen and I went to the shoes.  Gwen's biggest thing lately is that she is proud to say she has changed her first favorite color from pink to purple.  So now clothes and in this case shoes, she is on the lookout for anything purple.  And we found some purple shoes.  That's done.  Moving back to where Trevor was, he had found a t-shirt but I didn't recognize the character on the front.  I directed him to the character t-shirts and wow...there was a Ninjago shirt.  Only his size left so it worked out perfectly.  He will feel all cool and excited for anyone to ask him about his shirt and Gwen will look pretty in her new clothes.  Mission accomplished.  Went over and got haircuts for the kids, lunch, and we are done.  Everything is set.  We have a pool gathering tomorrow, dropping off the school supplies, and to the cabin for the weekend!  That will be all that's left of the summer vacation!  This mom is glad school is coming....the kids and I need our schedule back!