Not for a brusin', though that did happen, too.

This morning (hey look, I'm caught up!) we had a leisurely breakfast downstairs at the hotel. Tim made sure
that they could hold our bags after checkout and scheduled our complimentary cruise ship drop off for us. Then we headed back upstairs to our room to hang out, relax, repack, and generally just chill until check out at 11. After stowing our bags at the Bell Station, we headed out to the post office where we mailed some post cards. The postal lady was very nice and even let the kiddo put the stamps on the post cards (not all postal workers will do this). Then we wandered around a bit, stopping by the Canuk stadium (it was near the hotel) and then making our way to A&W for lunch. (They have lots of A&W restaurants in Canada - they're nearly as visible as McDonald's. I can't think when the last time I saw an actual A&W at home was.)

Then we headed back to the hotel to reclaim our bags and catch the shuttle. There was another family also heading for the Disney cruise (amusingly they are four or five staterooms down from us, what are the chances?) This family, however, does not believe in the minimal packing that both Tim and I were raised with. We had 4 bags: two suitcases, and two carry ons (one backpack, one laptop sized bag). They had approximately 14 bags, the smallest of which were carry on roller bag (you know the ones, you can pack for a week in them if you try) size. The shuttle driver played a rather impressive game of bag Tetris and managed to only have to put one bag up front (it was, apparently, a carseat wrapped in a black plastic trash bag. Yet another reason to not have been lugging the thing around). The trip to the ship was very fast and unloading considerably smoother than getting everything into the van in the first place. We grabbed our carry ons and Tim set his timer.

When we cruised last year on Royal Caribbean out of Norfolk, it took us close to 4 hours to get from drop off to on board when all was said and done. Now some of that was because we had to park cars, but that was maybe only an hour. So let's call it 3 hours from curb to ship. And those hours were a disorganized pain in the rear. Disney, on the other hand, was a 35 minute process of incredibly streamlined and smooth sailing from point A to B to C to get on the ship. I attribute a large part of this to the fact that when you do your online check in, you choose a boarding time slot. So everyone isn't arriving en masse, and they actually control how many people are coming at any one time and they have the staff available to handle the crowds. So we quickly went from customs to check in to kiddo check in to picture with Minnie Mouse to on board.

Once aboard, we wandered about a little, stopped by the Oceaneer Club (where the doodle can go play as much or as little as he desires), and then our room was ready. So we headed to the cabin - and here is again where Disney wins over RC -- the cabin actually looks like the picture in the brochure! (Imagine that.) The doodle's bed is the sofa, but it does a fun little flip over into a twin sized bed (so you're not just sleeping on a
futon type thing, it's an honest to goodness twin mattress stowed in the underside of the couch seat) and the
Navigator's Balcony has a compass and other fun little gizmos to play with, should you so desire. And, get
this, the toilet (with sink) is separate from the tub/shower (with sink!) so a family of 3 or 4 can actually
get ready in a reasonable amount of time.

As we explored the room, the kiddo got excited and forgot about the big sill you have to step over to get onto
the balcony. He then of course managed to whack himself well enough that he bit his lip and has a bruise under his eye. He's all boy, that one. (After a few minutes of crying he was fine and wanting to go back out on the balcony, so all is well.)

Tim was able to get our dinner seating switched from 8:15 to 5:45, which I think will be much better, all things being equal. We were going to try and make it work, but really, keeping us and the doodle sane during a
late dinner is something I'd just as soon not try and tackle. We ate in the Parrot Cay dining room this evening (that's another thing I think will be fun, you rotate around the various dining rooms each night). Tim had a tomato mozzerella salad (with yellow heirloom tomato), then cold mango cream soup, followed by a mixed grill containing lamb, filet, bacon wrapped sausage, and shrimp on a bed of mashed potatoes with asparagus. For dessert he had a trio of bite sized samples including creme brulee cheesecake, lemon meringue pie, and a chocolate cake. I had seared ahi tuna, cream of asparagus soup, grilled ribeye with twice baked potato and corn on the cob, and a french toast banana bread cake with coconut ice cream (honestly, it tasted like German chocolate cake with a hint of banana - it was awesome). The doodle had watermelon and mac and cheese with fries and corn and broccoli, followed by a Mickey Mouse shaped ice cream bar.

After dinner, I had to rush back to the room to do office hours (working on this trip is going to bite. I thought it wouldn't be too bad, but I'm already going to have to basically miss dinner tomorrow to do seminar
because we're 3 hours behind). Tim and the kiddo came back as well, we gave him a bath and let him run around and play for a bit before finally tucking him in for the night. Now we're flopped on our bed relaxing and considering another earlyish night.

Grouse Mountain

I imagine the title being sung to the tune of Rock Lobster, but you can do as you will with it. After we finished at the Capilano Suspension Bridge we got directions to take the public bus up to Grouse Mountain (which is conveniently located on the same road as the bridge, which was one of the factors in me thinking it would be a fun addition to our visit. For the very reasonable cost of $2.50 each (Canadian, obviously. And adults only - under 5 ride transit free) we were able to take the bus (the stop was across the street and then maybe 50 feet up the hill) all the way to Grouse Mountain - maybe a 15 minute ride. Once there, we purchased general admission (again just the adults -- seriously, sightseeing with a 3 year old rocks. More often than not, he's been free. On the other hand, we're reasonably sure that he's not actually going to remember much of this, but we'll have pictures to prove he was there.) and got on the tram up to the lodge area on the mountain. (During the winter, it's a ski resort.)

The tram reminded me of the tram up the Matterhorn that we took when my folks took us to Switzerland (and
other various European countries) in middle school. Mentioning this to Tim, he pointed to the plaque above the windows at the front of the tram that indicated it was Swiss made. Guess that's why it seemed so familiar. I will say, they packed it full. There was very little possibility of falling over when you got to the two towers (which cause a distinct rocking) because you simply couldn't move. It reminded me of the Orange line on the Metro at rush hour.

Once we got to the top, we took a pass on the informational movie (would have loved it, but, well, 3 year old), and started wandering up the mountain to see what we could see. There were lots of really nicely done
wood carvings, and the doodle wanted his photo taken with each. At this point, we realized we were nursing the camera battery along - so you could take photo or two, then you needed to turn it off for a bit and then you could take another photo or two, and so on and so forth. This made all the carving poses rather amusing.
Still, I think his favorite was the one of the grubs and bugs (go figure - though really, one has to wonder  *why* someone felt the need to make said wood carving.)

They were just about to start a lumberjack show, but as we've paid for a lumberjack show excursion on the
cruise, we decided to skip that and instead headed to the bear enclosure where they said they have two grizzlies. We walked all the way around the thing looking for said bears and had just basically decided they
were having us on, when as we got back to the lumberjack show area, there was one of the bears just happily
munching away right at the front of the enclosure. He (She? No idea, we didn't get that friendly) didn't seem
phased by the throng that amassed rather quickly upon his emergence and just placidly ate grass. On the one
hand, it was cool to get photos. On the other hand, it makes me a little sad that it's clearly no longer a wild animal. (Not that I want to hop into the pen with it, mind you, just that it's used to people.)

At that point, we decided to see if the doodle was tall enough to ride the ski lift to the tippy top of the mountain. He was, so we did. It was a delightful ride up because we went through some clouds (we'd gone
through even more on the tram ride initially) and got some incredible vistas of mountain tops with a layer of
clouds like whipped cream surrounding them. the top of the mountain has several of the ziplines (Tim was
annoyed that I hadn't included them as options, but the doodle was too little and I didn't want to miss out
either, so we'll have to come back when he's old enough and go) as well as an enormous wind turbine. It wasn't moving at the time we were up there, but it was very cool to look at. It was an additional fee to go up in, and given the cloud cover we didn't think there would be much more to see from the extra height, so we skipped that and went back down on the ski lift.

We got back to the main area just in time for the birds of prey show (Grouse Mountain is a wild life refuge - thus the bears, wolves, and birds of prey. We didn't get to the wolf enclosure because the kiddo decided he
was too scared.) I thought it was neat that the birds they used in the show are not resuces or rehabbed birds
but instead birds that are hatched solely for that purpose. Just seems to me that's much more fair for the
animal to not know freedom vs. having had it and then ending up a show bird. They started with a non-native to the British Columbia area, the Hudson Hawk. I have decided I need one as a pet as it is one of the few natural predators of the diamond back rattlesnake. (And really, if it can win against a diamondback, it should be good for any other snake varietal).

Next up was the horned owl - a native to the area and incredibly cool to see up close. It was fun because this
one, though grown, still made baby owl noises. The trainers said this is because they had been the ones to
raise it, so it thought of them as his mom and dad, and so would always call to them like that. The other
interesting fact was that the owl's skull is about the size of a tennis ball and their eyes take up 2/3 of
that, so the idea of a "wise old owl" is really not a good one as there's very little room left for brain.

Then came the turkey vulture - several cool things about them that I did not know (and really, this one caught
the attention of the doodle, because the cool things are very little boy cool). First, its head has no feathers because that allows it to stick its entire head into the carcass (so as to reach the tasty bits) without getting messy. The gunk just dries and falls off rather than being matted into feathers. The other fascinating (and repulsive) fact is how they defend themselves...they projectile vomit. We seriously need a superhero whose special power is projectile vomiting upto 8 feet. On a slightly less disgusting note, the turkey vulture can process most poisons, so if they eat a sick carcass, their waste does not perpetuate the poison.

After him was the final bird, the Bald Eagle. It was incredibly cool to see a bald eagle so close - they're an incredibly beautiful bird. Interesting things we learned about them are that their coloring allows them to be
mistaken by fish for a log floating on the water, thus making it more possible for the birds to get food and
the fact that their nests can weigh up to 2 tons. They're also an indicator species, as they sit at the top of
a food chain, so if they start to have problems it indicates problems in the entire food chain that need to be

We all really enjoyed the bird show, as you see.

We grabbed a quick bite to eat back at the lodge before taking the tram back down. Again we caught the bus, this time to the quay where we transferred to the Sea bus (exactly what it sounds like - a ferry that takes
you across to downtown). By this point, the doodle had fallen asleep, so he missed the whole boat ride. He
woke up enough to make the walk back to the hotel (though Tim had to carry him after a few blocks) where we called it another fairly early night.

I'll post pictures when we're back home -- ship Internet is slow.


Answer Me These Questions Three

Yesterday dawned bright and early, with all of us sleeping til the late, late hour of 7 am. (Hey, we got to sleep til 10, finally...just in the wrong time zone.) When we were biking around Stanley Park, we saw several gaggles of Canadian Geese and I asked Tim, half-joking, half-serious if they were simply called geese here (as the Canadian seemed a bit redundant.) He commented then that it was probably also just called bacon, and what we call bacon was probably called American bacon. We had a little laugh and moved along. Then, we toddled down to breakfast and they had scrambled eggs and bacon in the chafing dish. I opened it up to get some and, lo and behold, their bacon was in fact Canadian bacon...simply labeled bacon. Aside from laughing to myself, I was rather disappointed, because eggs and ham is not really my style for breakfast. When I see bacon, I start thinking bacon (like *our* kind of bacon). So it was a bit of a let down. For the record, the doodle also does not like bacon in Vancouver...mostly because he also is not a big ham eater.

The view out the window as we ate let us see some of the beams for the stadium rising into the sky. There was a man doing some repair work on one of the beams way up high that I pointed out to the kiddo. He was thrilled and amazed and asked, "Why is he so small!?" I bit back the reply that he was an Oompa Loompa and instead explained distance and perspective a bit, but we chuckled about that for a good bit of the day.

After breakfast, we came back up, got ready (yes, we're that family that comes down to the hotel breakfast with bed head in clothes that have clearly just been thrown on in order to be presentable) and, after considering our options, decided to walk to the nearest pick up point for the free shuttle to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. It was only a 15 or so minute walk, and given that we had to wait 20 minutes for the hotel's free shuttle anywhere in downtown to take us to the sea bus (which would then take us to the bus terminal wherein the public bus would take us to the bridge) we figured it was a reasonable use of our time. Plus, as I mentioned yesterday, Vancouver is a nice city for walking.

We got to the Hyatt just as the shuttle turned the corner and zipped away. Missed it by that much. We wandered down to the stop anyway to see where we could wait (it being on a 15 minute schedule) and there was a young man (being all old and everything, I can now call people in their early 20s young people with a slight quiver to my voice) who worked for the Hop on Hop off buses who was able to sell us our admission to the bridge and call ahead to reserve us a spot on the next shuttle (which I guess just guarantees that it stops to pick us up). We wandered up to the Starbucks on the corner (yes, they're on every corner here, too) to buy some water to carry with and then made our way back to wait for the shuttle. I was actually pleased that we got the shuttle we did, because the one we missed was just a regular old bus. The one we rode was a trolley.

The drive to the bridge is about 30 minutes and it takes you through Stanley Park and then across the Lion's Gate Bridge. As you cross the bridge, you get this lovely view of Vancouver.

If you look closely, you can see Tim's reflection in there as well.

I expected the bridge to be in a wilderness type area on the side of the mountain far removed from civilization. It is, in fact, in the middle of a really pretty residential area (which probably costs a pretty penny to live in, but still) and not all that far from the city, so probably considered suburbia. Still, once you enter the gate, you'd never know you were anywhere other than the great outdoors.

As is my habit, I sat us down for a picture in front of the big sign saying where we were. Tim has perfected the art of holding the camera out and up and snapping reasonably good photos of us and the background, so we were all set to do this...and the camera wouldn't turn on. A quick look showed the happy little phrase "change battery pack" flashing across the bottom of the screen. Swear words I wasn't sure I remembered flickered through my mind because I had thought about charging the battery the night before but figured it was fine and so didn't. Tim was calm and said surely there was a gift shop that could sell us a disposable camera. I wanted to whine about how then we'd just have real pictures not digital ones and all the various annoyances this would cause, but instead I just stomped after him trying very hard not to sulk (which is tough when you're as mad at yourself as I was). Our old camera could also take AA batteries...not so this one. On the other hand, this one fits in a pocket and the old one did not. Still, Tim took the battery out to check that this was, for sure, the case (it was), we found the disposables, and then the camera started working just fine because apparently the battery just needed to be reseated. I bought a disposable anyway, just to guarantee that we wouldn't need it and we went back for our picture in front of the sign.

From there, you get a little tour of the history of the bridge that I would have enjoyed spending more time in, but, well, 3 year old. They do make it fun for kids in the wordy parts by giving you a passport map with six stamps that you have to find and collect. So we found the history stamp and then moved on to the little Totem area where they talk about the native culture a bit. I'm unclear how, exactly, this figures into the bridge, but everyone in Canada seems particularly proud of the native cultures and totems, in particular, so that's fine. The doodle loves the totems. Stamp acquired.

Next up is the bridge.

If it looks like it's long, narrow, and sways a lot, that's because that's all true. We strapped the doodle on my back in the Ergo (which I brought along for the sole purpose of this stop on our touring) and weeble wobbled our way across. It's absolutely breathtaking.

When you reach the other side, they have a little rain forest expedition with wooden trails and walkways that take you through and up and over and then they have a tree house that the Swiss Family Robinson would envy. They also have some birds of prey in aeries (and they have ranger talks, but we missed those). We spent about two hours on that side of the bridge.

We crossed back over the suspension bridge, this time the doodle wanted to walk. So we let him (holding mommy's hand while mommy tried very hard to shake the vision of the bridge flipping over from her mind. Why I had no problem with him on my back but very nearly hyperventilated while he was walking I have no idea.) Then we had lunch and made our way to the cliff walk.

The cliff walk is even better than what it sounds like. It's an 18" (or so, definitely less than 24" though) walkway that arcs out around the side of the mountain. You walk over seeing various gorgeous views, some of them straight down as several areas have glass bottoms for you to stand on. The doodle was in heaven.

After that, there is a fun walk through another rain forest-y area with a focus on water conservation (Canadians are very eco-conscious, you see that just about everywhere you look) and then we hit up the trading post and some ice cream before collecting our certificate (that you get for finding all the stamps on your passport) and making our way to the public bus up to Grouse Mountain (for the last half of the day.) I think, perhaps, I'll do that as a separate post - stay tuned.


Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Yesterday (I'm a day behind in our vacation reporting - maybe I'll do two days tonight, we'll see), we got up super early and took a taxi to the airport. (I called down to the front desk to ask for a taxi at about 5:45 and the front desk lady was incredulous, "You want to go now? In the early morning?" I explained that our train left at 7:40, so yes, we really did want a taxi for 6 or thereabout. She was happy to oblige, just surprised. It started the day off with a chuckle. We were all bright eyed and bushy tailed as our bodies were pretty certain it was 9am.

The doodle couldn't get over how cool it was to be in a taxi. With a meter! And he's driving us! Honestly, sometimes I think we could just go downtown at home and take public transit around and he'd be just as happy as if he'd been taken on a big vacation. Me, not quite as much.

We got to the train station and it took exactly 7 minutes to get checked in and have our bags checked. I mention this only because Tim was mocking me for wanting to be there an hour before departure (or more). Apparently you don't need to treat trains like planes. Who knew? (Possibly everyone who is not me.) So we sat for a bit and then wandered about for a bit and then stood in line to get our seat assignments and then sat some more and then, finally, we boarded. Because the train was not sold out, the very nice train engineer (I was going to say train lady, because I think the engineer is just the person who actually drives the train, but I'm not sure) gave us a set of four seats to ourselves rather than sitting a fourth person with us. So we had two sets of two seats facing one another with a table between. And may I just add now that the seats in "coach" on a train are about the size and cushiness of the seats in first class on an airplane? I see now why some people (hi dad!) prefer trains to planes when given the choice. Plus you can walk around (heck, they encourage you to walk around). The doodle was in heaven. Tim and I were close - the scenery was amazing the whole way up and living in the Pacific Northwest is now on my bucket list.

The above is just one small example of the gorgeous views we had the whole trip. And really, I'm not sure the photo does it justice.

Regardless, after about four hours, we pulled into the station in Vancouver, BC. It was just about lunch time and the doodle had been mentioning his hunger for the past, oh, hour, so we were planning to hit the hotel first and then get food, but there were golden arches spotted by Mr. Eagle Eye himself and so, figuring that we were pushing it to check in that early anyway, we caved. Amusingly, the toy he got in his Happy Meal was the exact toy he'd gotten a week previous at home. Now they are twins and they fight. (It's really rather amusing.) (Also amusing is the fact that Canadian McDonald's have a red maple leaf in the middle of the M and their milk jugs are called Lait's Go - if you know French, you'll get the humor.)

From there we caught another taxi (oh, the rapture!) to the hotel where we were lucky enough to be able to check in and get our room right away. They also let us know about a free shuttle the hotel has to take us just about anywhere downtown. I had planned to use the bus system and had even researched how to do so, but a free shuttle sounded just about right. So after dropping off our luggage upstairs, we headed back out to rent bikes and toodle about Stanley Park.

In preparation for this bike renting extravaganza (wherein I'd hoped to rent a tandem with a ride along extension for the doodle), we had gone up to Old Town Alexandria to rent bikes (hoping for the same set up) to see how it went. They said they couldn't add the trail-a-bike to a tandem (makes the bike too long), so we did a trailer and two bikes instead. In Vancouver, though, we decided to do the trail-a-bike with Tim's bike rather than the trailer because the doodle had been sitting for so much of the trip so far and he needed to wiggle. He enjoyed being able to pedal along and "help" daddy drive the bike. I enjoyed riding in front of them much more than behind where I had to see just how often his feet came completely off both pedals and he leaned precariously to the right (always to the right).

Stanley Park in Vancouver is magnificent, and if you ever go, you really need to rent bikes to see it. They have incredible bike paths around the perimeter and some that break off to wind you through (we rented from Spokes and found it a reasonably priced, enjoyable thing - and if you are more adventurous and less clumsy than I, you can choose to rent roller blades instead) to see the sights in the interior. We spent about three hours tooling around, did the entire perimeter and then wandered around inside looking for the miniature railroad (that we never did find, we finally gave up because we were getting tired and hungry and hot). Along the way we stopped at several playgrounds and saw two fabulous public water park / pool type places, along with several beach areas. Since it was Sunday afternoon, it was a tad crowded, but everyone had lovely manners for passing slower moving bikes and so on and so forth. Even the folks who were clearly there for racing/exercising purposes. (Which was not so much the case when we rode at home.)

Along the sea wall portion of the ride, there is an artist (perhaps several artists, that much was unclear) who make stacked stone sculptures on the rock beaches - they were fascinating to look at and a beautiful natural art installation.

When we were finished with our ride, we returned the bikes and decided to walk back to the hotel (the free shuttle is drop off only). Vancouver is a lovely city for walking - we ended up choosing a primarily residential street for most of our trek (it was about a 40 minute walk) and it was quiet and clean - honestly it didn't feel like we were even in a city, it felt like we were in one of the small towns that make up the Chicago suburbs (if you've ever walked through Wheaton or Glen Ellen, you'll know what I mean). Along the way we were looking for a place to grab supper, but didn't see anything that met the criteria of probably having something the kiddo would eat and being fit for people who had been on a train and then bikes for the majority of the day. We did see lots of ethnic food that if we were still childless would definitely have been on our radar (or perhaps if we'd somehow managed to unlock adventurous eating in our child - still working on that one, but it's not going super well). Ultimately, we landed at a pizza place two blocks from the hotel, where we got a pie to go and sat in the room with our feet up to eat. It definitely hit the spot. (Amore Pizza on Robson, if you're wondering. Very tasty.)

The doodle crashed and snored in bliss the entire night (which engendered great rejoicing from his parents who are rather tired of waking up with him several times a night. Still. At three.) We headed for bed around 9, which made us feel like old folks, but we decided that since it felt like midnight to us, we could get a small break.

So far, the vacation is off to a fantastic start.


Sleepys in Seattle

On Saturday we rushed around the house battening down various hatches while simultaneously crossing all crossable appendages that our flight would, in fact, take off. I blessed the people who urged us to take a non-stop flight many times during that process, because had I decided that the money a stop would save us was worth it, we would inevitably have not gotten to leave, as all our options routed us through New York. As it was, we headed to the airport mostly sure that we would, in fact, be taking off but still harboring a very slight dread that that would not be the case.

I have, clearly, not flown out of Dulles in a long time, because wow, it's changed. (For the better, mind you, but honestly, it's like a whole different airport.) They moved the security lines, which makes incredible sense, so the lines now no longer wind all the around check in booths. The doodle and I went through with no issues (just standard screening in the metal detector, no pat down or anything), Tim now has naked x-ray pictures of him online somewhere. (I kid. Mostly. You know those images are stored and that they'll inevitably get out at some point.) Anyway, our plane did leave and, keeping in mind the new era of flying where if they could figure out how to make you pay for having your seat pressurized, they would, we stocked up on snacks from a deli in the terminal before getting on board. At the last minute I grabbed a few extra bags of chips - this turned out to be a very, very good thing.

The doodle is 3.5. I know this. I know his attention span. I stocked up on lots of little books and coloring things and toys at the dollar store and didn't let him see them until on the plane to try and keep him interested and quiet and still 3 hours into the flight he was ready to be done. ("Mama, let's get off the airplane now. I'm done.") It didn't help that the air was ever so slightly choppy (the whole trip, not just as we snuck out of Irene's reach), so while the captain turned off the seatbelt sign, one flight attendant with an incredibly snippy attitude kept coming by and insisting that we rebuckle him. Honestly, if he'd been able to wiggle in his seat he (and we) would've been much happier, much longer. Regardless, those extra bags of chips kept him happy and us sane and we only got one glare from someone around us when he accidentally kicked the guys seat one time while shifting around. (Now, I'll be honest, I've given kids behind me the look when they continuously kick my seat, but this was one kick. Dude reading Game of Thrones, you need to get a life.)

We got our bags with relative ease and then went in search of the courtesy shuttle to our hotel. We are doing this whole trip sans personal transportation - it's an adventure, but honestly I didn't want to lug a carseat around with us and, when I priced out rental cars, it really kind of made me choke with how much it was going to cost between the rental and the various parking etc. So we're trying something new. And hey, courtesy shuttle, so why not?

45 minutes waiting for them to get there. That's why not. See, the first time we saw the shuttle pull up, we hurried over and got there right behind a group of women that appeared to be some sort of family reunion based on bringing everything you own and anything your neighbor will let you borrow with you. Maybe they were some kind of urban Bedouin group? No idea. All I knew is that the luggage area of the shuttle was full before all the women had even made their way into the shuttle, so some of them had to wait while the driver got the rest of the luggage belonging to the women who did fit on the shuttle smushed into the shuttle aisles. We figured we'd wait for the next shuttle.

Except there was no "next shuttle". There was just this one lonely shuttle person. (But even given that, he had to have stopped to smoke a pack of cigarettes or something before coming back around, because the time it took him to get us from the airport to the hotel was considerably shorter than 1/2 the time we had just finished waiting. With an overtired, hungry, cranky 3 year old. Which made it feel 4 times longer than it really was.)

We dragged our exhausted selves to the room, dropped the bags, and just went to the restaurant downstairs for dinner where we tried to get said overtired child to eat at what felt like to him roughly 11pm. For that time frame, he did well enough, and we scooted him off to bed and crashed ourselves shortly thereafter.

Things we learned from our first plane ride with a small child:

  1. Take what you think their attention span is and halve it. 
  2. Take the amount of activities you think you need and double it.
  3. Then double that.
  4. Then pack an iPad with movies on it just in case.
  5. Bring lots of snacks.
  6. Give up on the "I don't want my child drinking soda at this age" idea. Ginger ale keeps him happy for 20 minutes.
  7. Plus it makes him have to go potty, which takes up another 15 minutes or so.
  8. Don't explain that you got to go see the cockpit and got pilot wings on your first flight. He will get neither and it's just mean to bring up. 
  9. Give up on the idea that you get to read or rest or in any other way enjoy your flight. You will be solely focused on keeping your Tazmanian Devil from terrorizing the rows around you.
  10. If all else fails, smile, apologize to the person giving you a death glare and mouth the words, "He's three."


Old Mother Hubbard

I have, perhaps, done too good a job emptying my refrigerator for our upcoming vacation as I'm now not sure exactly what will be for dinner, breakfast, or lunch tomorrow. Cereal and PB&J, I guess.

That said, at least nothing will rot.

And also, I'm very able to avoid the current mass panic runs on the grocery stores for the up coming hurricane. (This turns out to be good as a friend assures me that there is pretty much nothing left on the shelves right now anyway.)


You Can't Be A Mom *and* OCD

Or at least, I can't. My mom has started remarking on the fact that my OCD tendencies have taken a vacation since becoming a mom (though I should clarify here for the record, I do not *have* OCD, however, when I get stressed, I organize. It helps me cope. Also, disorganization for long periods of time makes the back of my skull itch. But I do not even enter the same planet of Howard Hughes or Adrian Monk.) And you know, for the most part, she's right.

It was pretty early on that I realized I was not going to be able to keep up sane mothering (which, by necessity means that kids can play and the cushions get taken off the couch and there's dog fur on the floor pretty much within 2 seconds of having just run the vacuum) and a neat house. I continue to periodically toy with the idea of hiring a house keeper, but honestly, though I enjoyed coming home from work to a clean house, there were too many things that weren't cleaned the way *I* would clean them (which thus needed to be recleaned) that really, there's no point. Though if I could find someone who would come every week to mop my kitchen and bathroom floors and scrub showers - and that's it - I would willingly pay them to do that.

The most recent remark came this evening as my mom commented on how surprised she was that I am not yet packed for our vacation. In days past, I would totally be packed by now. And I'll admit to a small amount of stress about not at least being started, but it just hasn't worked out that I've had time (between printing, signing, faxing and then emailing reams - and you think I kid, but no, really, reams - of paper to our attorneys, trying to shop for fall clothes for the boy because it occurred to me that he will need warmer clothes than what I currently have in his size, and Tim working crazy hours leaving me with the basic "keep the house running" functions, well, packing has moved down the list considerably.) I do have some lists made, so that's good. This evening I packed the kiddo's backpack full of fun things to occupy his time on the airplane (hopefully both rides) and I think there is more than enough to keep us from being the scourge of the air. But really? It'll get taken care of tomorrow and Saturday before we load the car. And whatever we forget, we'll have to just buy when we get there.

Four years ago I would have been in a purple panic, and most likely staying up all night so that I could get it taken care of. Tonight I plan to go to bed at a reasonable hour because I'm just plain exhausted. And really, whenever I start to get annoyed at having to take my Zoloft every morning because I feel fine, I hope that I can think back to this and realize that sometimes, there really is better living through chemistry.


First, Let's Kill All the Lawyers

Or something like that, I fear I've butchered the quote. That said, oh my goodness. I have finally realized why law school exists. It is for the sole purpose of teaching you how to use 100 words to say something that should only take 5. And they're all nice big words like "pursuant" and "heretofore". (Rue the day? Who talks like that?*)

So, if you notice your oxygen supply diminishing, just know it's because I am single handedly bringing the wrath of the Lorax down on this part of the world by printing out all the various forms that our attorneys are sending our way.

I don't remember being buried in paper last time.

*Spot the quote.


Why Facebook Hasn't Killed My Blog (At Least Not Completely)

On Thursday, the kiddo and I packed up our various swim gear and headed to the pool with some friends whose neighborhood actually has a pool. (Honestly, when we moved here, I didn't think not having a pool in the 'hood would be a big deal. Now that the doodle is on the scene, I kick myself all summer long. On the other hand, I really like how cheap our HOA dues are in comparison, so there's that.) While in the pool, I just turn off the cell phone and don't worry about anything like that because, really, how often do I actually get calls that matter? (Answer: hardly ever.)

You can probably see where that's going, right?

So we get out of the pool a little ahead of our friends because the doodle has decided he's all done. And we go and get clothes on and then settled onto a lounger in the sun to wait for them to be finished. I grabbed my phone to let the kiddo play games and noticed I had a voice mail. So I figured I'd check it before moving on to games, and lo and behold...it was our attorneys. I skimmed through the email they'd sent about the opportunity and fired it off to Tim, then tried to get him on the phone. Lo and behold, he actually answered his phone at work (this is very unusual these days) and he read the email and we agreed that it sounded like a good fit. So I called the attorneys back, said yes, we'd like to be considered.

Pretty much these days when this happens we let our parents know and that's it. We know our parents will pray with us and beyond that, there's just too much possibility of us not being selected to bother letting the whole world know only to have to turn around and say that they didn't choose us. So I let our parents know as well and then essentially put it from my mind thinking that it would at least a few days before we heard anything else.

So the afternoon consisted of nap time (with grading for me), and then a mad rush up to a park near Tim's office for his company picnic. Well, while we were getting on the highway my phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID ready to just ignore it, but it was our attorneys again, so I figured it was a reasonable idea to answer and see what was up. Totally expecting, honestly, to be told that the birth parents had decided they wanted characteristics that we didn't meet.

In fact it was quite the opposite.

The attorneys thought we were such a good fit that they asked the birth parents to look at our portfolio while they worked on getting some other options together. And after that, they decided they didn't need or want to look at anyone else.

So at this point, we're expecting a new baby sometime in the early part of 2012 (I do have a more specific due date than that, but I've decided I'm going to keep those details off the blog for the time being.) I think Tim is still in shock - and honestly, I'm close to still in shock. And since the due date is so far off, we're not letting everyone know as of yet (though we did tell Tim's grandparents who then let it slip to a few other people, so we did send out an email to extended family to let them know so it was at least coming from us rather than the grapevine.) So it's not going up on Facebook for now, but Tim said I could talk about it here - and that is why I continue to love my blog.

The detail that most people seem interested in is, sadly, one we don't yet know: gender. It's still a bit early for that (and hand in hand with being too early for that, we're trying to keep our minds cognizant of the fact that things can still end up with a different outcome - it's a long time til the new year...but we're still totally excited).


T-8 Days, and Counting

That right there is the vacation counter.

I'm really looking forward to having some good, relaxing family time. I suspect that will occur sometime around when we're off the airplane. Because the flight is terrifying me right now. (Last night I had nightmares and while I can't remember the whole of them, they were very clearly about flying with my little boy.) I think he's going to love it. But I also know that sitting still for that length of time is going to be a challenge. And then I have visions of him being that child who can't get his ears to pop and thus spends the whole time screeching at the top of his lungs.

I'm sure he'll be fine. I really am. I just need the anticipation of it to be done.

(Last year before the cruise I had visions of him tumbling overboard and being ill and so on and so forth and he was fine and the nightmares were unwarranted...so at least I don't have to have those again.)

I meant to grab the suitcases we're borrowing from my sister when I was at her house yesterday so I could start packing some things. Yes, it's early to be packing. But we're going to be taking clothes not currently in use, so why not? I thought it might ease my mind. Now, having forgotten to get said suitcases twice I am simply beginning to wonder if my mind is slipping.

Still, I am quite looking forward to our trip. As I'm going to have to teach while we're away anyway, expect updates intermittently.


Rantus Interruptus

I logged into dear old Blogger with the sole purpose of complaining about how lately (today in particular), every time I check Facebook it's post after post after post of what, in my current mental state, just feels like salt in the particular wound in question (e.g. having lost boodles of weight by making the simple changes that a normal body responds to by losing weight, or having kids that are wonderful sleepers, or whatever.)

But you were all saved from this delight by Google's sense of humor - right there on my dashboard it says, "It looks like your blog is popular!" and then it continued by asking me if I wanted to monetize it with ad sense. It was a good thing that I was not drinking at the time, because I did most assuredly laugh out loud when I read that.

Out of curiosity, I clicked on the stats link (and honestly, this was the first time I noticed said stats link - when did Blogger start doing stats, I ask you? Clearly I need to pay more attention to my platform's announcements. Or not. But hey, good to know.) and I actually get more page views than I anticipated. Yay for me! (Really it's more "Yay for you, whoever you are. Thank you for swinging by." I thought about an exclamation on that last one. And then maybe a "Please come back again", but I don't want to seem needy.) (Even though it totally made my day.)

And so my mild funk was busted. Who says blogging isn't good for you?

(And no, I won't be monetizing my blog anytime soon. Fear not.)



So I joined pintrist because I enjoy browsing what other people have pinned and I thought hey, why not?

Today I realized that I just don't do a lot of web surfing these days - so there's a lot less catching my eye, and so I have these vast empty pin boards that kind of mock me (just a little), wondering when on earth I'm going to pin something that is interesting. (Also I've realized that I really suck at category names. You can tell that from my blog categories, but gosh, it's even suckier on my pinboards.)

On the other hand, I have realized that there are a lot of people out there who pin really interesting things. So there's still that.

In all, it's a really cool idea...I just wonder if I'm not tiptoeing toward social media-ed out.


This Should Be Interesting

So the class I'm currently teaching ends this week. The next class starts up next week. Which means I will have to (get to?) teach two live sessions while on vacation. On a boat. In Alaska.

It should work. But. Well. We'll see what happens.

We could definitely file that under not thinking things through all the way when accepting an assignment.


If It's Not One Thing

Seeing the name of your adoption attorney show up on the caller id sends 1,000 thoughts through your brain in a flash So it was with a racing heart that I grabbed the phone yesterday afternoon Turns out it was just a quick call because they were updating their files to see if we had a current homestudy still, since that is a prerequsite for being eligible for last minute placements (parents who decide on adoption at the hospital after the birth) When we last updated our study, our state had just changed their law to make home studies good for 36 months This was a super cool thing, in our mind, because it cuts down on the amount of money that you have to throw out year after year after year

So I assured the attorney that yes, our homestudy was still valid, then shot off a quick email to our social worker to verify that I was remembering that correctly When I got a reply that yes, I was correct, I shot off a quick email to our attorney to that effect and then spent the evening trying to remind myself that they were just updating their files and there was no hidden meaning to it

And then there was today - when I get an email from the attorney letting us know that for their state, the homestudy has to be current within 12 months

Le sigh

So now we're looking at having to update our perfectly good homestudy - to the tune of nearly $600 - because of state differences. And ok, sure, it's probably worth doing, but it's so frustrating because it's not like spending that money means anything other than that we could get a short notice placement, it wouldn't really be necessary for a normal length placement (we'd have plenty of time to update the thing with expedited fees in that time frame) Then you couple that with the fact that in the past 2 years of them having our paperwork, they've had exactly one possible match for us (that obviously didn't pan out)  - so really, is this even worth it? Or should we, in addition to updating the study, be looking for a different place to work with?

And then in the back of my mind, I start to wonder if we ought to explore international adoption again - though I'd want to do a South American country at this point and I haven't been keeping up with how those adoptions are going at all - I guess I should do a little research

It's just so frustrating, especially with the emotional rollercoaster of the last 24 hours thinking that they had someone in mind for us going to being, essentially, totally ineligible at this point in time even if they did


Wednesday Ramblings

A few thoughts before I go and wake the little one from his nap, because I'm not having a ton of luck stringing together a fully formed post:

  • I'm both excited and bordering on antsy for our upcoming vacation. I need to start making some lists. Lists always help make me calm.
  • I was tidying up the kitchen table this morning (it gets strewn with coloring books and toys and other random detritus of a 3 year old and usually I let it just stay for a while because the minute I put it away, he wants it out again) and the boy looks at me and says, "Mama, who's coming over?" Maybe I need to be just a bit more strict about putting things away when we're done playing with them on the table.
  • He totally refused to believe we were expecting company when I next started in on the kitchen island and dining room table. 
  • I refuse to contemplate exactly what that says about my housekeeping. Other than to just agree that my home won't be appearing in any magazine features anytime soon. Which is just fine with me - we live here, and I think houses should look like homes, not showplaces.
  • I finished reading Ready Player One last night. Love love love. It was a fantastic story with lots of great 80's trivia/nostalgia mixed into a good future/cyberpunk-light story. Well worth a read if you're in the market for a book these days.
And I think that wraps it up, because I hear the pitter patter of feet above my head.


Book Review: Indelible

I read Indivisible by this author last year and remembered enjoying it, so when I saw the opportunity to review another book set in the same town (so with overlapping characters, etc.) I thought it might be fun. In general, that turned out to be the case.

Indelible follows the story of Natalie, a sculptor who recently moved to the town and Trevor MacDaniel, former Olympic athlete and owner of the adventure outfitter shop next door to her new studio. They meet when Trevor rescues Natalie's nephew from a mountain lion attack - the resulting publicity from the rescue draws attention from a murderous stalker. Much suspense, romance, and drama follow.

Overall, it's a quick, fun read. However, I was lucky enough (ha) to get this as an ebook and all I can say is that I hope when they sell the Kindle version they take the time to actually format it in such a way as to make it readable. The version I got (and it's not an ARC, but I didn't download it from Amazon, it was sent by the publisher, thus why it might be different) was horrid and incredibly hard to follow for several chapters until I could mostly figure out what was meant to have been set apart as a chapter topping quote. Also, the author skips from the standard telling of the story into the crazed ramblings of the stalker, and really, I think the story would have been better without said crazed ramblings. They really didn't add to anything. They didn't reveal the story better. And at least in the electronic version I had, they were hard enough to distinguish that it took a minute before I realized that the main characters hadn't suddenly started ranting, but that we had switched voice again.

If I assigned stars, I guess I'd give this one a solid 3...maybe 2.5.

In case you didn't catch it, this book was provided for review by Waterbrook Publishing.


I Can Already Tell It's Going To Be A Favorite

I just started reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret aloud to the doodle. I haven't read it yet myself, so it's risky, I suppose, to do it as a read aloud, but I can always edit as we go if needed. So far, it's delightful. And the pictures. Oh, the pictures.

There is a reason that there does not appear to be either a paperback or Kindle version of this book, and that is the pictures. But let me just say...so worth it.

We spend several minutes poring over each one, looking at the pencil lines and searching for the hidden details. Some seem so rough and hastily drawn, others are deep and rich with things to find...it's just glorious.

When I read on the cover "A story in words and pictures" I wasn't sure what to expect but now...It's so much more than an illustrated book.

They're making a movie (out soonish, if I recall - saw the preview during Harry Potter). Having found the delight of the book (and really, we're only about 1/4 of the way through), I have to wonder if it's even possible that they've done it justice.


PreK vs K

I'm sitting and looking at the calendar and realizing that the school year is nearly upon us. Now, this doesn't really have a huge impact on us as yet - the doodle being only 3.5. But I have decided that this year I'm going to be more intentional about the whole school thing as I've chosen not to seek out a pre-school for him to attend or anything like that. (This is predicated primarily on the fact that we're pretty sure we're going to home school in the long run, so really, why start him out in pre-school when we would then just pull him out of that environment in order to do school at home?)

So, since I'm a bit of a nerd, I started with looking at the standards of learning (SOLs) that the state has for Kindy. And...that was kind of what I had planned on covering this year because it seemed to me that that would be what they do in Pre-K. So now I'm wondering if I ought to just wait a year before doing anything intentional (though I don't really want to do that as he's very clearly ready to be learning and it's good to focus the sponge-like nature of his brain so that it doesn't fill completely with Phineas and Ferb, leaving no room for anything else.) 
It's not that I have a problem with him being ahead for kids his age...I guess it just seems odd to consider that, essentially, I'm going to be putting my 3.5 year old in Kindergarten. That just seems...obnoxious. And a bit like I'm pushing him to grow up too fast or something like that. Especially since given his birthday, he wouldn't be going to public school for 2 more years (he'd be 5.5 by the time they'd take him - and if I was putting him in a classroom with 25 other kids, I'd probably agree that that is a good plan, because of maturity development, not because of anything having to do with learning readiness.)

I suppose we could consider splitting the difference and doing a year of pre-K/K this year and another of K next year at home. Though realistically it would likely be K/1st next year. But then you end up with him being at weird grade levels and I don't want to end up like my friend who had to decide what grade her son was in, and the determination was fairly arbitrary. Though I guess in the overall scheme of things, that doesn't matter overly.

All that to say, it's time to put some loose lesson plans together and I'm actually really looking forward to that process. I think he's really going to enjoy having some school-time each day - I know I'm going to enjoy watching his brain soak up knowledge.



I suppose it's a sign of age, or something, but I am having a terribly difficult time wrapping my head around the idea that today is August 1st. That said, I am ready to start counting down the days til our vacation at the end of the month - where hopefully it'll be cooler than it's been around here.

I have a relatively big list of things that need to get done before said vacation - most of them relating to my plan to do pre-K/K at home this year and the various crafts for MOPS that I want to have ready to demo at our planning meeting on the 20th. And yet here I sit, blathering on about basically nothing.

In 12 short days, Tim and I will hit our 16th anniversary. We're rapidly reaching the point where we'll have been together longer than we were not - and that's a strange (yet completely delightful) realization. We started dating in October of 1993 - so really it's only another 2 years, though it's another 4 before we'll have been married for as long as we were single. (Still, it's coming along fast.)

With the advent of August has come the wads of school supply catalogs and ads and displays and can I just say I'm in heaven? I know I'm not alone in loving school supplies - in fact, it seems like it's a very common love, rather than the odd one I used to think it was - but still...I have this urge to go buy a notebook and a package of pens and a new tape dispenser. (I can't be alone in loving the smell of Scotch tape, can I?)

Happy August, people.