Friday, November 24, 2017

Thankfulness And A Behind The Scenes Look At Our Christmas Tradition

Every year at this time, I'm thankful that I don't have rabies.
Well. It's hard to come up with a new blog post introduction sometimes, and that was the best I could do. Now I can move forward without the pressure.
Dawson and I look for a 1,000 piece Christmas puzzle to do each year while shopping at Hobby Lobby with the intent to start it while he's on Thanksgiving break. But this year we got a little anxious because the puzzle was just sitting around in the box and it was getting upset. I think we actually finished it before Thanksgiving break started. Then I was going to open the puzzle I got my mom for Christmas and do that one and ship her this one, but I changed my mind because I'm her favorite and I didn't want to impede on that.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving. I got up, made cupcakes, went for a 3 mile run in order to earn my turkey badge, then made frosting for the cupcakes, took a shower and made green bean casserole. That whole sentence was just to over use commas. 
Jason was determined to frost the cupcakes and he ended up choosing a frosting tip that made the design look like brains. Brains with caramel ooze.
We celebrated at my sister-in-laws house, which is perfect because the kids all go downstairs to their basement and play and we don't see them for hours. I asked her if we could just move in and she said no.
After our Thanksgiving feast we all moved into the living room to settle on a Christmas movie or just any movie really, that would calm the kids down because they ate 3 cupcakes a piece and the aftermath was a display of crazy we couldn't tolerate in our state of turkey slump.
 Dawson got to fulfill his dream of becoming a merman when his cousin let him borrow her mermaid cozy. 
All of my other Thanksgiving Day pictures went on FB so I guess now I have to move on to our "day after Thanksgiving decorate for Christmas" tradition.
First. It was very hard to get into the Christmas spirit because it was 72 degrees and sunny outside. If I were back home in gloomy Indiana, this would be a non-issue and I would have seasonal depression by now. 
This is me annoyed with said weather.
Second. The holidays have sabotaged my good eating habits this year. Just before we left for Disney, I was at a weight that I hadn't seen since before having children. It was all because of this awesome high fat low carb eating plan I was doing. Today when we went shopping I was starving and decided to really hop back on that band wagon and came home with this. Success.
 The boys were surprisingly patient this year, while waiting to decorate for Christmas. Ordinarily I'd threaten all manner of "no Christmas presents for you this year" dither to demand compliance to my "we can't decorate yet" blabbering... but they stayed busy doing other things all morning so it was moot.
Third. Evan was watching Shaun The Sheep, rather than a Christmas movie which didn't help the 72 degrees, sunny outside bah-humbug feeling I was having.
Down in the deep dark recesses of our basement is a blue curtain. Behind this curtain is OZ a random assortment of items that we have no other place to put, including Christmas decorations.
 For you, my valued blog reader, I'm prepared to pull back the curtain and give you a glimpse into the organized chaos of our basement shelves.
 Yes. I'm available for your small space organizational needs. 
We pile all of the decorations on the floor and have the boys carry them up to the living room. This is the living room before decorating:
This is the living room during decorating:
Yeah I was pretty proud of the way the boys lined everything up all color coordinated by staggering the silver ornaments with the maroon ornaments. It's aesthetically pleasing.
Jason sets up the tree, and he doesn't let me help with that part, because he likes to bend all of the branches a certain way in order for it to look full. Apparently I skinny up trees.
So while he's doing that, I set about loading the CD player with Christmas music. Dawson didn't tell me he was going to take my picture during this important part of the festivities.
 Since I'm all about thankfulness, I can share here that I'm grateful my butt crack wasn't showing.
Currently, my 2 favorite Christmas albums are these:
Eventually it was time for the mess. My least favorite part of this tradition.
 Evan found his stocking and said "Why do they have to be socks"? Jason and I couldn't answer that question.
 Dawson found the art project he made for me when he was in kindergarten. I'm not a hoarder. He's lucky I kept that.
Finally it was time to decorate the tree.
No one bothered capturing the memory of me decorating our tree, so I took it upon myself and got photo bombed.
Even fake trees leave behind a wake of irritating pine needles.
It wasn't long before Evan got mad about something and pouted, so Dawson snagged a picture.
 And then... the decorating was complete. Maybe that's why he was pouting.
I don't collect snowmen, but I have these guys that come out every year:
We hang our stockings up on the fireplace mantle. I need a santa hat for the fish.
 The boys loved each other for one photo snapshot.
My newest addition to our Christmas decorating is this miniature Nativity. We've had several nativities over the years, all of which have not exceeded my standards and have been sold. Which is what might happen to this set as well. Especially because I feel that I put the figures too close together and it's smothering the baby Jesus. If he or Mary were claustrophobic, I imagine they would have had to enforce visiting hours, your know?
There you have the 2017 edition of our Christmas tradition. 
Tonight, I'm breaking out The Elf On The Shelf for the first time. Let's hope the Elf doesn't die between now and Christmas.

Monday, November 6, 2017

The Great Colorado Adventure

A little over a month ago, my Momma surprised me with a call asking if she and her friend could fly out and visit.
My mom is 80 years old and has never flown commercially. 
Of course I told her no.
just kidding.
She was able to sweet talk her good friend Yolanda into flying out here with her because Yolanda has traveled quite a bit and is comfortable bossing people around in airports. Yolanda was celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary while she was here and her wedding present from her husband was to let her come to Colorado. 
Which is why I'm expecting Jason to let me visit long lost relatives in the Canary Islands for our 50th anniversary. Now it's in writing.
There was a reminder on my calendar that set off an alarm on the 24th of October letting me know that my mom was arriving. 
I jumped all over the airport arrivals waiting room while the TSA agent looked grimly at me like he was ready to taser me if I tripped and fell onto the forbidden side of the hallway where people were rapidly filing off of the plane. In all of my excitement, I forgot to snap a selfie of me jumping up and down while the friendly guy was wheeling my mom closer. 
So I did the next best thing and got a picture of us as soon as we got home. See:
I made a little sign to hold while I waited for mom at the airport but I sort of forgot about it while I was jumping all over. 
I had the entire 9 days planned out. You know. Because I like to make lists.
I let them sleep right after they arrived that evening because I'm a good host.
The following day was a super warm sunny day so we visited Glen Eyrie Castle
Garden of the gods (lowercase 'g' because it's always bothered me that they didn't properly name the place "Garden of the God" because there's only one true God. Just ONE! rant over).
Mom did exceptionally well considering she could hardly breathe at our altitude and I kept her so busy. 
We had just enough time to visit the Compassion building before picking Evan up from school. 
Aren't they cute?
Spending time with "Gramma KK" as she's known to all her grandkids, was very special to Dawson and Evan. There was one time though, that Gramma told an exceptionally LONG story to Evan and he let her know on several occasions that she could keep the stories to a brief time frame.
 We booked a ski resort in Keystone for the weekend because it wasn't ski season yet, so we could afford it.
Jason and I spent a considerable amount of time speculating how they were able to get a hot tub inside the condo which was located on the second floor. I said a helicopter hovered over the unfinished building while firemen hung precariously from the landing gear guiding it into place and a construction worker with an orange hard hat went plummeting to his death because the hot tub cover wasn't securely fastened knocking him off the platform. I won.
There's a beautiful bridge crossing over a brook and a bench located behind our condo.
We went to the Outlet shops in Silverthorne and I got chocolate covered caramel apple at Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
This is because Jason nixed my idea of going to the Coach Outlet. I super annoyed that I had side swept bangs added back to my hair. Just needed to vent.
Lake Dillon is nestled somewhere between Keystone and Silverthorne and I'm just guessing about that because I wanted to use the word nestled in a sentence. Regardless, this picture doesn't do it justice:
On Monday, we made the drive back home to our house.
On Tuesday we went to The Arc Thrift store because Tuesday is Senior Citizen Day and all tags but one are marked 50% off for all senior citizens. So I loaded mom's cart up with all the stuff I wanted and she told the cashier she already gave me the money for her stuff. We're a great team.
On Wednesday I took them by our church and we stopped at my office so that mom could see where I previously used to stand all day long before standing at work was cool.
Bright and early on Thursday morning I dropped them off at the airport and I promptly told them to make a pouty face for our photo opportunity.
I called my mom later to make sure she made it home okay and let her know that she's welcome to move in with us.
I've decided to call her every 5 minutes until then so that she knows I miss her.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Walt Disney World Family Vacation: Epcot + Melbourne Beach

Day 3 Park: Epcot
We chose 3 parks for our Disney vacation: Magic Kingdom, Hollywood Studios and Epcot. We opted out of Animal Kingdom because we were under the impression it was more of a glorified zoo. I'm sure there are plenty of people who have gone there and loved it, we chose to do Epcot instead because... FOOD. We did have a blabber mouth lady in line behind us at Magic Kingdom tell us the boys would be bored at Epcot because there was nothing there to do for children. But our boys liked it. So we win.
 It just so happened we were there during their annual Food & Wine Festival, so we didn't realize what we had gotten ourselves into.
The place got crowded quickly with people wearing shirts that had Mickey with a beer in his hand. Mice drink water. So those shirts are dumb.
The side of the park where all the food is located is set up to emanate different countries and I did find it fascinating. The staff members who work at these locations are all from the country they represent.
The grounds are huge, so we spent a lot of time walking on this day.
We had enough time for Jason to purchase a chocolate croissant in France before our first FastPass ride.
They had an area where kids could sit and color in the little shop where Jason bought his croissant. I was quite relieved by this because the shop had tons of glass replicas of the eiffel tower and tea sets and I began to think it was a conspiracy, knowing that children would pick them up and break them and poor families like us would have to pay.
TestTrack was our first FastPass ride. I'm sure Chevrolet is as happy to represent at Disney as Coca-Cola is.
Before you ride, you can create a concept car that will be "tested" on the track.
We got stuck for about 10 minutes at the end of the actual ride. We just sat there and couldn't move. But apparently it happens so often that they didn't even bother to offer us a free FastPass. So I'm writing a letter to Chevrolet sharing my concern for the welfare of children and their fun in hopes they will comp me a few free Disney Park tickets. Or maybe a Corvette Grand Sport. Whatevs.
After this we went on the prowl for food. It was our last day at Disney, so we had to use up all of our quick service meals and snack credits.
We ate lunch at Liberty Inn. While Jason and Dawson were getting our food, Evan and I snagged a table because the eating area was filling up. When we sat down, Evan said,  "mommy, you look like a superstar today". So I took a selfie of me at that moment. You're welcome.
After lunch we were back on the movea to find more food and snacks. We call that second lunch and third lunch.
Jason found a lobster roll at Hops & Barley.
Ladies, I've got a fine man. Just felt the need to say it.
We stopped in Germany to get me a pretzel, and the pretzels there didn't count toward snack credits! I contacted the German authorities and they said guten tag.
The only other food I had my heart set on was a taco from Mexico and baklava from Greece and I got both. There was a bone in my taco though and I spit it out in the middle of the street while we were walking because I was so shocked by it. I was wearing my Broncos shirt though...people wearing Broncos shirts get away with everything.
 We walked through this little path that had a miniature train traveling through it.

You can get these little "passport" books that have stickers in them with the names of the little stands and shops where you get snacks and food. Then you put the sticker on the appropriate place in the book to show that you got something there. I thought it would be a great idea to give one of these books to Evan to keep him busy while we walked forever looking for food. It worked.
 At some point along the way Dawson decided to do a jump and I was the greatest mom to capture it on camera.
 Just look at Norway everybody. I mean who doesn't want a grass roof now?!
 It was getting super hot out and I found a stand for shaved ice. Jason and I got into a bit of an argument because I told him to get one blue raspberry for Dawson and one strawberry for me. So he got one blue raspberry for Dawson and one Tiger's Blood for himself thinking I said Dawson and I were going to share the blue raspberry. But he's sort of a selective listener.
Eventually we had to make our way out of this side of the park to catch our second FastPass ride which was Mission to Mars.
This was a simulator ride and you stare at a screen while the ride moves you up and down and around. I was totally good with that until the very end. Jason had to grab a barf bag but managed to make it out unscathed. I typically don't get queasy on rides like that, but there's a wee tiny slight bit of a chance I'd had too much food before I got on it. Teeny chance. Minuscule.
At some point among all our walking and eating, I saw a sign declaring that it was a station to meet Belle. The Beauty and the Beast Belle! So I promptly got in line. I mean, I'm basically Belle, and this chic is my stand-in. I was officially the last person in line because they had to close the line since she had lunch reservations with Mrs. Potts. I used this to my advantage and decided right then and there that I was going to make her listen to me sing the first half of "Little Town" from the original motion picture for her so that she could see that I'm spot on, and also let her know that I have the movie memorized. All before getting our official picture taken. Brilliant.
Jason told me that Dawson was mortified that I sang for Belle and he was so embarrassed he had to walk away from us. Well. HE embarrasses ME when he goes to church with holes in his shorts. So. Even!

I can SO totally do that little hand pose she's got going on, by the way. Just sayin.
I thought you'd all want to see the back side of the round ball thing. You're welcome.
Our final FastPass was for the Finding Nemo ride. The ride was slow and it was air conditioned in there so I was good. Singing to Belle wore me out.
We rode one last ride. I forget the name of it but you sit in a boat and it takes you through the area where Epcot grows some of the herbs and fruit that is used in some of the food sold at the stands. It's all about sustainability and such. 
At the end of this ride, we were done. It was 3 pm and even though Jason secured another FastPass for us, the majority vote was to go back to the resort and spend the rest of the day swimming. We had already walked 6 miles by this point and it was hot out. Since this was our last day at Disney, we wanted to make the most of it. The boys were happy, I was happy. So that's how we ended our stay at Disney.

Days 4-7 were spent at Melbourne Beach which is about an hour and half from Orlando.
We stayed at the Double Tree hotel because Jason had hotel points that we were able to use to stay for free. Yay. We had never been to this beach before.
I always love the view from the entry to the ocean:
Beach Time!
 I'm pretty sure I should live somewhere tropical. I told Jason we can get me a home in the tropics and he can get his cabin in Alaska and we can visit each other.
Jason got the call that our room was ready, so we went to go check it out.
The view from our balcony:
That's the cool thing about going to Florida in October... you pretty much have the beach to yourself.
Evan is too much awesome and reads magazines on the balcony.
I love the sound of the ocean.
There's this huge window at the entrance to the hallway that led to our hotel room and I was quite enamored with the view.
 The boys spent way more time in the pool than in the ocean though, and I was fine with that due to sharks and other deadly ocean life.
 The boys wanted to show me how they jump in. If you scroll down really fast, it's like a stop motion film.
Dawson is a goof ball.
Jason and I relaxed poolside.
It was alarming when I remembered that we actually had to pay for food here.
Speaking of food, I was really wanting doughnuts for some reason. So on the first morning when we got up, we set out looking for some. The Krispy Kreme that was 7 miles from us was closed! So I wrote Krispy Kreme and told them I was concerned for the welfare of all beach people and their love of doughnuts. Maybe that will earn me a life time of Hot Now. Eventually Jason found a suitable replacement and I had a salted chocolate espresso glazed doughnut. Yum.
My friend Stephanie's parents live only about 25 minutes from Melbourne Beach, and it just so happened that Stephanie and her family were on vacation with them during the time we were also vacationing in Florida. So that evening we had dinner with them -and no one thought to get a picture! Boo Hiss. But her parents invited us over to their house after we had to check out of our hotel on the day we had to head to the airport. So we got pictures then:
The boys got to go fishing in the pond near their house so they were happy.
It was finally time to bring our awesome Disney vacation to a conclusion. I could cry just thinking about it. We decided we hope to go back in 2019 when Star Wars Galaxy's Edge is completed. I'll probably go dressed as Rey.
Evan was completely exhausted by the time we got to the airport and when we stopped for dinner near our gate, he was out.
He slept while we waited for the plane.
And the whole way home.
I'm still waiting to catch up on sleep from vacation. Hopefully by 2019.