Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Want Candy!

Although I've made some creative costumes for my kids in the past, this was not one of those years. I have had WAY too much stuff going on lately and despite the unique ideas I came up with in years gone by, I fear the creative part of my brain has ceased to function. Truth be told, I'm sadly lacking the Martha Stewart gene. I know people who can take a dirty diaper, a can of gold spray paint, and some pipe cleaners and create a lovely centerpiece. I'm not one of them. I would take the diaper, toss it toward the garbage can, miss , and knock over the whole can, spilling trash across the floor. The little kids would grab the can of gold spray paint and do some redecorating on the family room walls, and the older kids would take the pipe cleaners and stab each other with the sharp wire ends. Nope, taking a pile of junk and turning it into art is not something I encourage at my house. I guess they could've gone as Crazy Pickle Arm Man - "Look at me! I have a pickle for an arm! Now give me some candy!"

So here are the notsocreative costumes of 2007.
"You dress me up in this stupid outfit, you stick wings on my back AND you expect me to smile? I think not."

"You've got to be kidding me. You want me to leave this thing on my head too? You're pushing your luck, lady."

OK, so we walked to our neighbor's house. The kids went up to the door and rang the bell. Brooklyn stood, a look of confusion on her face.

"Let me get this straight - you put this ridiculous outfit on me, you took me outside in the cold (because it's always 30 degrees on Halloween in Chicago) and now we're standing here at the neighbor's door? Why? Why would we be doing this?"

Just then the neighbor opens her door, exclaims how cute the kids are and gives them candy.

"Candy? I got CANDY? Just for standing here in this silly costume? Wow! I can get into this! Why have we never done this before???"

Remember that little crying princess? Here she is with candy...


Amazing how a little chocolate can put a smile on your face, isn't it? I know it works for me.

After the first "score", she happily ran up to each door. She never quite learned how to say "trick-or-treat", but she got really good with "thank you". She ran to the house yelling, "Thank you!" She yelled, "Thank you!" as candy was dropped into her bag. And finally, one more "Thank you!" was shouted out for good measure as she walked away from the house.


Ummm, I don't know. She wore her softball uniform (Yay, I didn't have to buy or make anything). Then she gave herself a "black eye" and "bloody scratches". What can I say? Softball's a dangerous game.


Here we have the Mermaid Man costume. This thing has had four years of use now. I think it's time to retire him. He sponginess is flaking off, his eyes have several rips in them, and it looks like he's growing mold.


My little monkey.


Cinderella


A scarecrow


A really creepy scarecrow! This is my oldest. He sat out there and waited for big kids to come by. When they did, he jumped and scared them. When little kids came by, he took off his mask and passed candy out to them. I think he had more fun doing this than he's ever had trick-or-treating.

Oh yeah - I want to apologize for deleting a couple dozen comments today. I inadvertently hit the "reject" button instead of the "publish" button. I'm sorry if your comment was accidentally rejected. Oops!

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Back to Reality

Well, we're back to reality here. While I was going through my mail, Clay, Lex, and Brooklyn (collectively known as "Notme") poured water on the couch. Clay threw a pair of scissors at Lexi and cut her cheek. It's awful. I may let him out of his room sometime next year. At dinner, Clay "fed" his plastic toy lion some pasta. I don't think the noodles will ever come out of its mouth.

Actually the plastic lion is part of my oldest son's animal collection. He used to be obsessed with animals. One year, for Christmas, he asked for a warthog. That's all he wanted for Christmas. Just a plastic warthog to add to his ever-growing animal collection. He even wrote Santa a letter asking him for a warthog. Let me tell ya, Santa looked high and low for a warthog. He looked at every toy store, every learning and teacher supply store, Lincoln Park Zoo, Brookfield Zoo, The Milwaukee Zoo. You name it, Santa looked. This was several years ago before Santa owned a computer, so he couldn't just find one out there in cyberspace. He ended up finding one at via the telephone, at the San Diego Zoo. The woman I spoke with told me that they didn't ship things from the gift shops, but she made an exception for me after I told her my story. My son was one happy boy come Christmas morning when he got his warthog.

Anyway, I hear my baby in the kitchen sneaking marshmallows for the Rice Krispie treats I'm supposed to be making for the Halloween parties tomorrow. My oldest daughter just called across the house to tell me that there's chewed gum on the bookshelf, my middle son is screaming and fighting with everyone and my oldest son is asking me to help him solve 7=5/6c-8. Welcome home!

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Monday, October 29, 2007

Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes

DAY ONE
We had an absolutely awesome time in Florida! The limo picked us up bright and early Thursday morning and took us to the airport. I haven't flown anywhere in years and didn't realize just how much security had changed! I didn't know you needed to take off your shoes. So, this is how the whole security run-down took place. Joe walked through carrying Brooklyn. Ta da.

Now, I'm there with the other five kids, trying to position two car seats up on the conveyor belt so they'll pass under the x-ray, attempting to fold up the big double stroller and lift it up so it'll fit in the x-ray thingy. Meanwhile I'm getting all the kids to take off their shoes, put their five backpacks, my tote bag, the diaper bag, my purse, and all our sweatshirts in little trays on the conveyor. A gentleman from security stops the machine and asks me if I have a DVD player in the bag.

Why yes, I do.
Can you take it out for me?
Oops. Sorry I didn't know it was supposed to be taken out.

OK, that's all fine. Then he stops it again and asks me what the round thing is in one of the kids' backpacks.
I have no clue what he's talking about.
He pulls the backpack out and Austin fishes around it and finds a baseball. Duh. What else would you take on a plane to Florida? You never know when the opportunity to play a little catch will arise.
In case anyone's wondering, it's OK to take a baseball on the plane.

After an hour and a half of regrouping and redressing, we caught up to my husband who innocently says, "What took you so long?" He not so convincingly told me that security made him walk through the metal detector and wouldn't let him come back to help us.

We flew Southwest Airlines which was fine, however I really don't like their boarding process. Parents traveling with little kids don't get to board first anymore. When it was our turn to board, we scrambled to find seats together for the eight of us and we held up the line while furiously trying to buckle in car seats and stow everyone's backpacks under the seat as if we were being timed. I don't know why they don't let families with little kids get on first to ensure they get seats together and to let them get situated before letting everyone else on.

Anyway, as we started to take off, Clay asked, "When is it going to start flapping?" He thought the wings of the plane moved like bird wings! After about three minutes in the air, he announced, "I want to go down now." I quickly grabbed out the portable DVD player I borrowed from my sister and bil and wouldn't you know - I either didn't charge it like I thought I did, or I inadvertently turned the power on after charging it and drained the battery. Anyway, it didn't work. The kids were all awesome on the plane despite the lack of movies. They hardly made a peep the whole ride and I needn't have worried anyway because there were several kids on the plane and even if mine had been loud, they would've blended in with the others.

We arrived in not-so-sunny Florida, got our nice 15 passenger van, and headed to the Marriott Grande Vista. Our hotel room was amazing! It was bigger than our house. Literally! It had three big bedrooms, three bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room, 2 sitting areas, 3 TVs, and 2 balconies overlooking some beautiful pools! On the dining room table was a "Welcome to Florida" note along with a gift basket full of goodies, snacks, bottles of water, candy, and a disposable camera. There were stuffed dolphins, whales, and Elmos for all 6 kids. There were Discovery Cove hats and Shamu backpacks for each of the kids as well. WOW!


(The view of the pools from our balconies)

The kids immediately changed into swimsuits and we went down to the pool where five of them swam. The sixth one spent most of his vacation looking for lizards which apparently run rampant in Florida.


(Jackson's new friend "Can we bring him home please?")

We met Angie, her husband and adorable little girls at the hotel and we all ate outside at the poolside bar and grill. The weather couldn't have been more perfect! I'm ready to move! That's where the toothless man with a beer in one hand, a bird in the other and poop down his back met us. :)


(Me and Angie from Mamaslike)


(The hotel bird-man)

DAY TWO
This is the day we went to Discovery Cove. From the pictures, I knew we would like this place, but I had no idea we'd love it so much. Of course, we were given the total VIP treatment, but looking around it was easy to see that all guests were really catered to and pampered. When we first got there, we met our guide June, a wonderful, sweet woman who hails from Georgia and has the quintessential genteel southern drawl. She escorted us to where the breakfast buffet was located and we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast outside in cloudy, but perfectly comfortable, warm weather.


(The gang with June, our guide extraordinaire)

After breakfast, we were fitted with wetsuits.

So June holds up this wetsuit that I think will fit my 6 year old perfectly. She tells me that it's for me. I eye the suit. I look at June. You have got to be kidding me.

It took me 45 minutes, but I squeezed into the wetsuit and walked outside to be laughed at by the world. June took one look and said, "I think that one is too big. Try this one."

Too big?!?!?! Well, I somehow managed to squish myself into the smaller size, walked outside and informed June that I would be definitely be needing the jaws of life to get out of the tight fitting garment.

After we were all outfitted in our snazzy wetsuits, we walked over to our private, secluded cabana which was surrounded by tropical foliage. It was filled with sand toys, lounge chairs, a table, canopy, plenty of towels, masks, snorkels, and a stocked refrigerator. WOW!


(Our private cabana - note the dune buggy stroller!)


(The view of the dolphin pools from our cabana)

In our cabana we met a two toed sloth named Lucky. No kidding he's lucky. He gets to live in paradise with his girlfriend sloth, he's fed lettuce and carrots every day, and he only needs to come down from the trees to poop once every two weeks! Imagine the time we could save if we only needed to use the bathroom once every two weeks!


(All of us with Lucky the sloth and a sweet girl from Discovery Cove)

Saying goodbye to the sloth, we headed over to watch a short video in preparation for our dolphin encounter. This part was amazing!


All of us (Jackson's behind Brooklyn) petting the dolphin


(Me kissing Natasha, the dolphin)


(Austin with the dolphin)


(Lexi kissing the dolphin)


(Joe and Jackson with the dolphin)


(Savannah swimming with Natasha)


(me swimming with the dolphin)

We also got to hand feed sting rays while wading in a pool with them. We snorkeled with tropical fish and rays in a coral reef, and we swam and floated in a lazy river of warm, freshwater. The river meandered through Discovery Cove. It ran through the aviary, home to tons of exotic birds. The river drifted by waterfalls, beautiful plants and trees and even through a cave. It was so relaxing that Brooklyn fell asleep while floating!


(Sleeping on the lazy river)

Here she is sleeping again. This time she fell asleep after Savannah fed her some chocolate cake.


(Note the puddle of chocolate drool)

Speaking of chocolate cake - the food was delicious there! I had yummy, yummy lobster salad on a buttery croissant and Joe is still talking about the salmon he had for lunch! The cool thing about Discovery Cove is that it's all-inclusive. Breakfast, lunch, snacks, and drinks including Anheuser Busch beverages, are included in your admission. You don't need to bring money for anything but souvenirs. And unlike many parks, there are not souvenirs stands and shops every five feet at Discovery Cove.

I really hadn't planned on writing tons about Discovery Cove, but I was honestly so impressed that I just had to share. The people there totally take care of you. I don't remember the numbers, but there's a really high staff to guest ratio so there is always a staff member nearby ready to help in any way they can. Every time I walked into the bathroom, there was an attendant sweeping the floors so they were dry and sand-free, or emptying bins of washcloths used to dry hands, or stocking more towels, or filling dispensers with Crabtree and Evelyn shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel. Every time I walked with one of my kids to the snack shop, a friendly person greeted us and offered drinks, hot pretzels, animal crackers for the baby, or other yummy snacks. The life guards stationed all around the water were attentive and friendly, offering to take pictures of us with our cameras. This place gets an A+ for service, atmosphere, food, and overall experience!

DAY THREE
We started the day bright and early at breakfast with Elmo and friends at Sea World.


(The gang with Bert and Ernie)


(Me and Cookie Monster, the character I can most relate to!)


(The gang with Elmo)


(Us with the Count)

After breakfast we went to a seal show where we got separated from Lexi. We found her just a minute later, but she very upset and cried for some time. :( We walked over to a ride called Journey to Atlantis after the seal show. I went on the ride with Austin, Savannah, Jax, and Lex. Lexi did not like it. At all. She started crying about halfway through the ride and didn't stop for the next half hour. Every time she even looked at the ride, she started crying again. Note to self - in the future, even though Lexi insists she wants to go on a ride, do NOT let her go!


(Journey to Atlantis ride)

We met Angie at Sea World and hung out for a bit while our little ones went on some kiddie rides in Shamu's Happy Harbor. This sign cracked me up. I know you can't read all of them, but do you see how many rules there are for going on this ride?


(I think there are 11 rules for going on this ride)


(this one especially cracked me up - "You must not ride if you are unable to understand safety procedures.")


OK all those rules and regulations were for THIS ride. It's a boat that rocks gently rocks back and forth .


(while I was watching the kiddos on some rides, Joe sat down with Brooklyn to try and get her to take a nap. Uh huh. WHO'S taking a nap?)


(Shamu up close and personal while we had dinner behind the scenes of the Shamu show, which by the way, has a really yummy bananas foster - the dinner, not the show)

Oh yeah - if you choose to sit in the "soak zone" at the Believe show with Shamu, you WILL get wet. Even if you're sitting at the very back of the "soak zone" twelve rows up! Trust me.

Oh and if you need medical help while at Sea World, just head over to Key West and the sting ray pool. First Aid is located right behind there. Skipping across a bridge that was slippery and wet from the rain, Clay fell and bit through his lip, bruising the gum around his tooth at the same time.


(this picture doesn't do it justice. It was nasty.)


(nighttime view from our room. We didn't want to leave.)

As I was taking a shower the night before we left, the kids came and started banging on the bathroom door. I ignored the banging and finished showering. When I got out, the kids ran to me and said, "Austin threw up!"

Let me get this straight. Austin threw up, so you thought it would be a good idea to bang on the bathroom door while I was in the shower? Did you think I was going to run out in the middle of my shower, dripping wet, shampoo in my hair, to clean up his barf? Have you ever seen me clean up barf? Ever?

Actually, Austin got sick in the garbage can and Joe took care of it. He continued to get sick all night. Lexi was also up all night with a fever, crying that her ears hurt. Unfortunately her ear drum ruptured on the way home. I took her to the doctor to get some antibiotics and ear drops. I took Savannah to the doctor again because, despite the antibiotics she started the day before we left, her ears are still infected too. I think Austin's done throwing up and Clay's lip is less swollen today. I have to laugh at those things. It just wouldn't be a Meehan vacation if stuff like that didn't happen.

Oh and on the way home, while in line to pass through security, we realized we'd left the car seats sitting at the ticket counter. Joe offered to run back and get them. Guess who went through security with all the kids again. I'm beginning to think he may have left the seats behind on purpose. ;)

We had the most wonderful time! Everything was awesome! The kids were great the whole time. I was really proud of them. It's amazing what a change of scenery can do for a person. They didn't misbehave at all. Of course, they were on a vacation of a lifetime and they (WE ALL) enjoyed every minute of it. I only wish we'd had more time to spend there.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

SeaWorld Update

Check out what's going on so far on Dawn's trip at MamasLike.com!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Murphy's Law is Back!

Murphy's Law is back! My oldest daughter went to the doctor today - ear infections. I still have a cold and fever and now I've lost my voice. How am I supposed to scream at the kids with no voice? ;) And here's the weather forecast for Orlando...

THU

80°F 26°C
70°F 21°C

FRI

85°F 29°C
71°F 21°C

SAT

79°F 26°C
70°F 21°C

SUN

80°F 26°C
70°F 21°C

I wish I could send that rain to southern California. :(

The only other time we've taken a family vacation (other than camping which is not so much like a vacation as it is work) was about six years ago when my oldest daughter won a trip to DisneyWorld. On this trip, she got an ear infection and I got a kidney stone while we were there. Let me tell ya, DisneyWorld is NOT the most magical place on earth when you spend half your vacation in the hospital doubled over in pain.

Although we're going to Orlando again, we're not going to Disney this time. I am getting the chance to meet up with my friend Angie though! (Maybe I can convince her to let me use her laptop to scribble out a quick update.) Actually, we're taking a very special trip, but you'll have to read about it here.

Oh yeah - I just have to brag for a moment because my oldest two came home with report cards today. All "A"s and a couple "B"s for both of them! See? The not-fighting-with-them-over-homework thing can work. I went to four parent/teacher conferences tonight where the teachers told me what great students my kids were and how happy they were to have them in their classes this year. Several teachers informed me that my kids were really quiet and they wondered if they actually talked at home. I, of course, just laughed myself silly over that one.

OK, I'm off to finish up my laundry and packing. Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Art 101

I'm presenting you with a short tutorial on art through the years.

STAGE ONE: The Body Art Phase
This involves using anything (i.e. yogurt, marker, diaper cream) as your medium and your body as the canvas.










STAGE TWO: The Spaghetti Phase
This involves random scribbling and can take place on paper or walls or furniture.


STAGE THREE: The Potato People Phase
The child draws people that basically look like potatoes with arms and legs coming out of the body. Eyes and a mouth are added at this time.

STAGE FOUR: The Stick Figure Phase
Now people have distinctly separate heads and bodies. Hair (sometimes really, really long hair), noses, fingers, and shoes are added. Girls may add, rainbows, stars, and hearts to their drawings at this time. Boys may add cartoon characters, blood and guts, or cars to their drawings at this time.


STAGE FIVE: The Macaroni Phase
This is where macaroni, sometimes colored, sometimes plain, is glued to various pieces of construction paper. If you're extra lucky, you'll get a necklace made of macaroni for Mother's Day. If you're not so lucky, yours will be the kid who likes to eat the glued macaroni off the page.


STAGE SIX: The Book Phase
At this stage, your child is excited that they're learning to read and write and they must make everything into a book. This is the second page in the famous book, The Friendly Ghost written by my son. This is where you have to really stretch your literacy skills and learn to read "kindergartenese". This says, " The ghost plays with his friends like the mummy."


STAGE SEVEN: The Picasso Stage
The pictures and color choices don't make a lot of sense, but they sure are fun to look at.


STAGE EIGHT: The Almost Realistic Portrait Phase
Here, the child starts getting some realistic elements into their drawings. This is a picture my daughter drew of me after I had collagen lip augmentation.


Here's something from the Pokemon Phase my son went through.


Here's something from the Star Wars Phase my son went through. Again, note the realism.


STAGE NINE: The Three Dimensional Phase
Here is a candle holder made for me by my daughter.


Here is vessel made by my son. It's perfect for holding cookies, pencils, or organs from mummified people.


There you have it. Art from one to twelve.

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