VIP Squared

Posted in Travel on July 24th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Every year, my husband and I are very lucky to get a week-long break from being busy parents of 4 kids when Grandma takes the kids to her house for a week.  For the past two years during this vacation, we traveled downstate to King’s Island, an amusement park near Cincinnati.  King’s Island offers a VIP Tour, which means that for 9 hours, you get your own personal park employee to lead you around the park and to the front of all the park rides of your choosing, even holding your stuff if you really want him to!  In case you’re interested, a VIP Tour at King’s Island also includes an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, unlimited fountain drinks all day, a ride photo, an ice cream cone, a behind-the-scenes tour of The Beast, and $25 in park souvenir money – which can be spent on carnival style games, buying more food (if you need it after the buffet!), or in the park’s gift shops.  While it may seem expensive up front, if you do the math, the VIP Tour ends up being a great deal all things considered, and we highly recommend it; especially if you’re a coaster enthusiast!

Being able to walk to the front of any ride line of one’s choosing is really cool – it’s hard to imagine, until  you ride coaster after coaster without pause!

We began our day on The Beast (only because the Diamondback was not functioning, but luckily our fears of it being broken for the entire day were dispelled and they were able to fix it before long).  The Beast is an almost 5-minute long journey into the desolate forests of southern Ohio on a wooden roller coaster!  As we learned from our behind the scenes tour (included with the VIP Tour as I said), prior to its unveiling in 1979, The Beast was built on-site and follows closely the terrain upon which it is built.  It was not pre-ordered and shipped to the park in segments like many modern roller coasters.

The Beast follows its native land's terrain and disappears into a tunnel at the bottom of its first drop

After riding The Beast twice in a row (almost 10 minutes worth of roller coasters right there!!), we moved on to the Vortex, an old-school steel roller coaster with more than a few high speed inversions.  I had printed out my blog post I had written about the VIP Tour a year before, and it served as a helpful guide for this year.  And I have to say, everything was much more enjoyable this year – last year I had written in my blog that I didn’t like the Vortex much and that the Backlot Stunt Coaster was lame, but this year both rides were much more fun than I had remembered – perhaps because I knew what to expect from the park, and so the element of surprise was minimized.  I’m a person who likes to know what to expect rather than to be completely taken by surprise – I have 4 little kids, so I have enough surprises throughout my average day, thank you 😉

But whatever the case, whichever the reason, this year’s VIP Tour was even more fun than last year’s!  All of the rides we rode were better than I had remembered they were, and the Whitewater Canyon water ride was even more fun when riding with friends!  Of course, I think it helped that this year’s temperature was almost 90º instead of the unseasonal 70º we had during last year’s tour – getting soaked last year left us near frozen!  And I learned a little bit from last year’s tour – no blisters from walking around in wet shoes for me!  I brought a little bag and put a change of shoes in it.  As much as it may have annoyed my co-VIPs (but then again, I was the only gal in a group of men), I changed into my flip-flops every time we got on a water ride.  Not only did I save my feet from blistering, but I got to order our guide to carry my shoes around the park!  Ok, so I actually felt pretty badly making the poor guy carry my shoes around, but it was kind of like being a queen for a day, and –  carrying our stuff was his job after all…

The Diamondback Roller Coaster

Being led around the park by a guide all day, slipping in front of the ‘regular guests’ to get to the front of the lines (and picking whatever spot you choose on all the rides!  Note to self for next year:  front car on The Beast rocks, back row on the Diamondback is sweet, and the back is ideal and technically the front for Firehawk…) gave us plenty of time for ‘extras’ in the park: things we don’t normally do in theme parks, usually for lack of time like souvenir shopping, playing games and seeing shows.  The show we chose to see this year – and it’s strange, I know, that I keep promising myself a theater break but still I continue to find myself in a theater audience – was called ‘Too Much TV’, and it was actually pretty fun!  It began with a ‘host’ who went around the audience asking for them to ‘name that tune’ as different tv show theme songs were played.  I thought I would be good at this kind of thing, but apparently my brain had been scrambled upon one (ok, a dozen) too many roller coasters earlier in the day because I couldn’t get any of the answers correct.  But it’s ok, I didn’t raise my hand too high- unlike a fellow VIP who was called upon, but he answered correctly and won himself a Too Much TV button – way to  go!  Despite a fleeting regret in the beginning of the show (am I really watching yet another stage show?!?), I did enjoy myself.  I recognized 100% of the show titles and about 80% of the lyrics since I used to be a huge tv fan and had watched many of the shows when I was a kid (many in reruns; I’m not THAT old!)  The show included 6 dancer-singers, and it began with TV shows from the 50’s – 60’s (a few of these I watched like Patty Duke and Mary Tyler Moore – um, in reruns of course 😉 while the rest I just knew the themes since they were very famous like the Andy Griffith Show) and continued to shows from the 70s (3’s Company, Brady Bunch, Partridge Family, etc), 80’s-90’s (Full House, Perfect Strangers,  Growing Pains, Friends, etc).  LOTS of fun, especially for a former TV junkie like myself.  The singers / dancers were pretty good, and I have to say that one of the highlights of the show  was that during the Brady Bunch theme, they showed clips from the episode where the Brady’s actually visit King’s Island!!  I had totally forgotten that episode (I used to be a huge Brady Bunch fan; I watched it every day in syndication after school, and I had the book / episode guide written by Mr. Greg Brady (Barry Williams) himself – I used to check off the episodes I had seen – ahem, NERD!!), but anyway, I will have to dig it up on or somewhere and watch it again now!!

Miraculously, the rain held off until minutes after our guide was dismissed for the day –  we had been watching the storms move in all day the day before our tour, hoping it wouldn’t affect our trip.  We had promised our guide an email depicting our thoughts on what riding The Beast was like in the dark, but as I said, it began to rain, and we were forced to take a break.  That’s when we realized just how tired we really were – too tired to wait for the rain to stop and the rides to re-open, so we’ll have to experience The Beast at night next year.  And I could not be looking forward to it more!!

On the way home, we found a White Castle (don’t have them way up here in the bufu northwestern corner of Ohio), or at least that’s what the sign said.  But the White Castle location was connected to a gas station, and the sliders did not taste quite the same…  I thought they were just old until I brought some home and re-heated them, and they STILL were a bit off…  hmmm….  Normally these things reheat really well, and I’m sorry to tell the White Castle newbie in our group that he still hasn’t really tried an authentic slider.  They hit the spot at the time and had we taken the time to stop anywhere else, we would have gotten home even later than the 1 am-ish that we did and would have been even more exhausted.  My bodily soreness from being beat up by various coasters all day was less than last year, but it also lasted a day or two longer than I remember.  Oh well, more to tweak for next year!  Maybe I will bring TWO pairs of shoes for Mr. Guide to carry around for me, haha!

And one final note…  We have a running joke with a member of our group – we went to Disney World with him almost two years ago, and it seemed that every ride which he rode stalled; including rides that didn’t usually stall.  At King’s Island, only one ride stalled while we were on it, but we got stuck in what I am sure is the most precarious position in which a person can get stuck at that park – flat on our backs, under the great blue sky on the Firehawk.  Here is a picture of how we were stuck; note that these people are in the station, which would have been better since there were people around to help.  We were stuck flat on our backs outside of the station for about 10-15 minutes, and I couldn’t help but notice how sympathetic the ride operator seemed during her announcements directing us to stay calm.

Also noticeable were the extremely red faces and disoriented nature of our fellow riders who were finally returned to an upright position and allowed to leave the ride with us.  For the record, our park guide happened to be on the Firehawk with us (on the VIP Tour, you can also make your guide go on rides!) and said that he had never seen it stuck like that before.  So yeah, while we were only stuck on a ride once during our day, what a place to be stuck!!!

And surely I don’t want to leave you with a bad impression of the Firehawk, nor of King’s Island, so here are some fun youtube videos from other riders:

Firehawk (you lie on your back and then are flipped after the lift onto your stomach.  Like Superman, you fly thru a series of loops, inversions, and open track):

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Next, not one of my favorite rides at King’s Island, though still fun, the joy in Invertigo is watching the person’s face who is sitting across from you.  Ride with a friend sitting across from you, and experience the g-forces backwards first.  Then watch your friend’s face as they experience the same thing backwards you just did – It’s priceless!!

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

And now for my favorites, The Beast (start watching at a minute and ten seconds into the video for the real action):

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

And the Diamondback:

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

All this watching the POV cams on the coasters makes me want to do it all over again…   But unfortunately I have to wait…
So until next year…

A Not-So-Cynical Look At The 2009 Holiday Season

Posted in holidays on December 29th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was thinking about our family’s 2009 holiday season, now come and almost gone already, and I was envisioning words to describe this wonderful season, despite the fact that this year ours was peppered with unpleasant familial dramatics.  But about a week ago, I made what was a conscious decision to pull myself up from the depths of despair I had fallen into after losing a beloved family member just one week before Christmas.  So, in my good humor, I chose 24 of the best words to describe my holiday season, each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet.  Here goes…

Avatar – Saw it and actually liked it, despite my typical sci-fi reluctance.  But I liked Avatar so much that I’m really hoping the timing and budget work out so that I can see it again in 3D at a more technologically savvy theater.

Big Family Christmas – We traveled to Illinois on Christmas Day and got to take part in a huge gathering of my husband’s large extended family.  His 92-year-old grandmother, who speaks with a thick east-coast Connecticut accent (and who smoked 3 packs of cigarettes a day from age 16 until age 70!) told many of her infamous stories that had everyone in stitches!  After hearing one of Monie’s stories, I could have used the words Blue Boob for B, but I will spare you those details…  😉

Christ Was Born – We went to a beautiful church service on Christmas Eve to celebrate and reflect upon the entire purpose of the Christmas holiday.

De…  There are two words that come to mind for this letter based upon certain recent events in my life, but I’m not going to go there; this is to be “A Not-So-Cynical Look…” blog post.  So here, D will stand for Dumbledore, since I’m almost halfway through my first Harry Potter book and lovin’ it!

Elf – My favorite holiday movie, and we actually had time to watch it this year!  It, unlike a few other favorite Christmas experiences, did not lose any magic this year.  I still felt that warm and fuzzy “Christmas Magic” feeling after I watched this movie – I’d pull it out more often, but it’s not the same unless it’s Christmas! 
“I love smiling; smiling’s my favorite!!”  – Buddy The Elf

Friends – We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends, and I can’t thank them enough for the things they did and just for being there during this bittersweet time.

Grandparents –  We were able to visit 3 of our grandparents this holiday season!  Even being in our 30’s, we have 3 surviving grandparents among my husband and I –  we were blessed to be able to spend time with all of them this year!

Homemade spaghetti – Best.  Christmas.  Gift.  EVER!!  My mother-in-law sent us home 4 huge frozen batches of her out-of-this-world spaghetti sauce!  AND a large bag of grated Asiago cheese.  AND…  something I’ll save for another letter…

Ice – Drove through plenty of it to reach IL and get back to Ohio on Christmas day.  Luckily, traffic was light and travel for us was smooth and safe.  The kids were good as gold and slept for the majority of both drives.

Jill – Screwed us over again!  This little story begins with Walmart.  Since this is “A Not-So-Cynical Look…”, I won’t go off about Walmart, but I will simply state the facts:  the pump in our windshield wiper cleaner fluid dispenser stopped working after the last time we got an oil change at Walmart.  We didn’t really need it until Christmas night, when we were driving past the city of Chicago, and apparently smog + snow = some sort of disgusting pollution paste.  So visibility is limited, and we still don’t know exactly what happened since we’ve driven this route dozens of times, but basically the express lanes on I-90 seemed to suddenly dissolve into city streets.  So now it’s 10:30 on Christmas night, and we’re wandering around in the city.  We can’t see out the back of the car since there’s tons of Christmas presents, and we can’t see out of the front of the car because of the pollution paste.  This is where Jill comes in – and she directs us straight back to I-90.  Only problem is, our van can’t just jump guardrails; we needed an entrance ramp, and Jill was only directing us to streets that crossed over the expressway and didn’t actually intersect with it.  So we crossed bridge after bridge, and we criss-crossed I-90 until one of those streets had an entrance ramp.  Then Jill freaked out and tried to get us off of the expressway again, but she got her power button pressed – we knew our way from there.

Kalachkies – I have a fun memory of a Christmas years ago when my forgetful Polish grandmother was sitting in her wheelchair, instructing my equally Polish uncle and myself how to make kalachkies, a usually delicious Polish cookie.  The end results were inedible and referred to as “hockey pucks”.  This year at Christmas, my husband’s cousin made homemade kalachkies – real ones, no hockey pucks, and they were delicious!  Thanks Lilly!

Late night drive – One night, we took the kids out in the car in their pajamas with some snacks, and we drove through the snowy countryside to a town  about 30 minutes away for a drive-thru lighted display that’s just wonderful.  Late night drive could also refer to my husband’s and my peaceful drive home (after the unscheduled tour of the city) while the kids were asleep all the way from Illinois to Ohio – nice.

Mashed Potatoes – My mother-in-law is a great cook!  I guess it’s been  awhile since the last time I had her mashed potatoes, because I  didn’t remember how they tasted.  But I told her the truth after Christmas dinner – they were the best mashed potatoes I’ve ever had!

Noodles – My mother-in-law’s spaghetti sauce also came with EIGHT pounds of whole wheat gourmet organic pasta!  I love whole wheat pasta – it actually tastes better, and you don’t get the pasta-stomachache / horrible stuffed feeling that can accompany pasta over-indulgence.

Onions – One of my favorite holiday dishes is creamed onions, and it was a nice surprise to see this dish on the Christmas buffet.  Fortunately for me, my husband can replicate the taste of his mother’s creamed onions –  yum!

P.A.S. – Pompous Ass Syndrome – my poor brother-in-law is a victim.  Enough Said.

Quiet – With 4 kids and Christmas celebrations spread out over 2 weeks, there really wasn’t much of this.

Revenge – My brother and sister-in-law gifted our kids 3 little gumball machines.  Cute, but not when you realize how many gumballs needed to be pried out of our candy-obsessed toddler’s little hands, for one thing.  Who would give little kids gumball machine gifts?  Wait, isn’t that what we got her 3 kids last year?!?  I’m all for re-gifting; I really think it’s a smart thing to do.  But maybe next year I’ll choose our Christmas gifts more carefully…

Snow – It’s been snowing on and off for a week and a half here in Ohio.  The Chicago area was unexpectedly blanketed with about a foot of snow on Saturday – thank goodness we left for Ohio on Friday night!

Turkey – We ate it and it was good.

U-Turn – see “J” – Jill the GPS.  Besides the time we were lost in Chicago, Jill caused us to make at least one other U-turn on this trip.

Vile – Odor in Gary Indiana – I don’t care what the Music Man had to say – Gary Indiana STINKS!  Literally!!!

Weather  – I was worried about it all week, but thankfully, it didn’t impede our journey in the slightest.

X-changing gifts –  Ok, that’s too generic?  What else could X stand for, the rating of Monie’s Blue Boob story?  We x-changed gifts many gifts, and that’s all I’m going to say.

Yellow Puppy – When our friends heard about our family’s heartbreak, they gifted us a gigantic (stuffed) dog.  This cute puppy’s headband wouldn’t even fit on my head, and she wears a sweater that could probably fit me – or at least all 4 of my kids in it together…  so cute and so thoughtful, and the kids LOVE her!

Zoo lights – With everything that was going on during this December, I’m so thankful that we were able to make it to  one of our favorite Christmas destinations this year –   the Toledo Zoo for their Lights Before Christmas displays.  Beautiful lights in a peaceful atmosphere, and if you get there early enough, you can see some zoo animals, which is probably my favorite thing to do in the whole world!

Hope you had a Merry Christmas, and best wishes for a great New Year!!!

Parenting Pickle

Posted in Everyday Life, Kids on November 23rd, 2009 and tagged , , , , ,

My almost 10-year-old daughter has a friend I’ll call Kathy.  Kathy has been over to our house to play with my daughter for years, and we’ve never really had much of a problem.  We’ve noticed lately that Kathy isn’t as well behaved as our daughter’s other friends, and she also is not as tolerant of my daughter’s younger siblings.  Yesterday, Kathy spent about 6 hours with our family, and it was a fun yet tiring day.  It was one of the few times we’ve had an extra kid around and I’ve noticed extra chaos and strife; usually the extra kid(s) blend right in and sometimes even help out with the little ones.  We took Kathy to the mall which is about 20 miles away, and we ate a Mexican buffet, bought the kids candy at the $ store, and took the kids to the pet store.

Kathy’s mother was supposed to come at 6, and since the kids had a late lunch, we were waiting to feed our kids until Kathy was picked up.  Kathy’s mother was late, and the kids got hungry, so we tried to stretch our planned dinner for 4 kids into one for 5.  It didn’t really work, there was some squabbling about food, and Kathy’s mother finally showed up around 6:25.  On her way out, I called to Kathy who has asthma, “Do you have everything?  Do you have your inhaler?”  To which she responded, “I still haven’t found my inhaler.”  (like she had told me she was missing it, but she hadn’t!)  I unlocked the car for her to look in there, and I went up to her mother’s car and explained that this is the first I had heard about the missing inhaler.  Her mother was extremely rude to me.  We didn’t find the inhaler, and they left, and I vented to my husband because I don’t like when people are upset with me!  He was sure that I had misunderstood; that Kathy’s mom was upset with Kathy for losing her inhaler.  After all, if her mother had told me at any time that Kathy has a tendency to lose her inhaler, she could have asked me to keep a special eye on it, and I would have!  But not one word was said – I only know about the inhaler because I’ve seen  her carry it; it was never explained to me.

So then today, our cell phone had some missed calls, and they were Kathy’s mom.  When my husband called her back, he was sure she had called because they had found the inhaler.  No such luck.  The frantic phone calls were Kathy’s mom asking if we had found it yet and informing us (quite rudely) that if we did not find it, we would owe her $47 for a new one.  So my husband, now knowing that I had NOT overreacted to the rudeness last night, calls the mexican restaurant, and sure enough, they have it.  He called Kathy’s mom, who basically told us we would have to drive back out the twenty miles each way to get it.  But it’s Thanksgiving week, we have 4 kids, and my husband works during the day.  So she hung up on my husband, and now I’m upset and writing a blog post about it.  Here’s the pickle:

Kathy is the real victim here.  Her mother is mad at her and her friends and their family, and her mother’s erratic behavior is going to isolate her daughter.  As it is, Kathy calls our house about 20 times every weekend and is pushy about being invited over – it’s hard not to feel like our house might be the only place to where she gets invited.  But as a parent, I did not like the negative influence I saw Kathy having on my younger children yesterday, and that was before any conflict was had with her mother.  My daughter’s birthday party is coming up, and I feel badly for both Kathy and my daughter if she isn’t invited.  On the other hand, I feel this is more than just a parental conflict that can be overlooked for the sake of the kids.  I feel a little bit taken advantage of – after all, we invited Kathy to spend the day with our family, and her presence did incur some minor costs.  Nothing I would have thought twice about, until I was given flak about our fun day… and I’m 95% sure we told her mother we’d be heading out to the mall ahead of time also, so it wasn’t as if it came out of left field!  Also, my husband and I are concerned about what Kathy’s mom might hold us liable for should we have any further incidents with Kathy at our house or in our care.

So do I let my daughter invite her to the birthday party?  Should I say anything to my daughter about this conflict?  Do I pay any bills I might get from Kathy’s mom for gas, etc?  It’s just a shame this had to happen; my daughter has plenty of friends whose parents are on the same page with us; we take their kids out all the time without incident, and they even usually say ‘thank you!’.  I honestly don’t feel like we did anything out of the ordinary here…  Should I have gotten a babysitter and driven the 40 miles to get the inhaler myself?  Honestly, if I had done that though, I might have THROWN it at her when I got back!

An Old Friend, A New Perspective…

Posted in Everyday Life on August 17th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , ,

A few weeks ago, we learned a friend from way back was going to be in the area on his way from Illinois to Florida with his family, so he came by and brought the fam.  That in itself was very unusual – after 10 years of friendship and various business associations and partnerships, we had somehow never gotten around to meeting his family in person.

But on this day earlier this summer, they all stopped in, and his wife and two kids (the oldest was off on some kind of school function) were really very nice, fun, and interesting people – we had a great day together.  Their kids, although quite a bit older than my kids, were nonetheless kept entertained by my kids, especially their pet rats.  Overall, it was a great visit with a nice family –  we really should have gotten together sooner!

And I have some advice for our friend: appreciate what you have, buddy.

I don’t know why he does some of the things he does, but he sometimes acts, um, I’ll call it restless, and now that I know how awesome his wife and kids are, it’s going to be that much more difficult for me if I continue to hear about any more dumb choices on his part.  He seems to be going through some sort of mid-life crisis, so I can only hope that he finds what it is he’s looking for without hurting those wonderful people who love him!

Knowing I Love You Man

Posted in Movies on March 30th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

I’m going to take a break  from my New York Trip Diary to write up a few movies.  All I have left is the World Trade Center site post anyway, so that’s just one thing on a trip of hundreds!  Besides, writing up these 2 movies should be easy, since I don’t have much to say about either one…

Last week for date night, we saw Knowing, a movie we had been looking forward to.  Not that we’re Nicolas Cage fans (quite the opposite actually); the movie just looked intriguing.  It’s about a guy whose son gets a piece of paper with hundreds of numbers on it which was buried in a time capsule for fifty years.  After some investigation (and A LOT of liquor!), Nicholas Cage discovers that the numbers correspond to the dates, places, and the number of fatalities that would occur during certain calamities – they have all occurred already; except for the 3 left on the list.  And that’s about it.  Cage’s acting was no better than usual (why did I think this would be one of his better movies?  Can you tell he is Francis Ford Coppola’s nephew?), and I don’t want to spoil the ending for you, but I found it cheesy and actually kind of dumb.  I was entertained, but barely, and I did doze a tad during this one, although the action sequences awoke me with a start.  Feeling unsatisfied after this movie, we decided to make it a double feature and sneaked into I Love You Man – no, I’m kidding, we went back to the cashier and paid for the movie legitimately – besides, we needed a refill on our pop and popcorn, though the latter was quite regretful.

I Love You Man looked like kind of a dumb comedy, but we’ve been appreciating the actor Paul Rudd lately (he is SO funny in Role Models and Friends reruns), so we decided to check it out.  What we got was kind of a dumb comedy, but actually not as bad as I thought.  It wasn’t entirely predictable, and there were some funny moments that they actually hadn’t spoiled in the movie’s trailers.  If you like silly comedies and Paul Rudd, check it out.  It’s not nearly as funny as Role Models, but it is much less crude.

Sick Of Being Sick

Posted in Everyday Life on January 30th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The past week and a half in our house has been awful.  It all came to a head last Friday when our two-year-old got sick in the car.  Last weekend, when she wasn’t sleeping, she was throwing up or in the words of Chandler, played by Matthew Perry on the tv show Friends, “visiting a town a little south of throwing up…”.  Later in the weekend, her baby brother was afflicted with the same illness, and now we had huge messes x2.  Big sister Sammie got it later in the week, but luckily, the little ones started feeling better.  Add in a snow day and a couple of weather delays, and our house was chaos for what seemed like forever.  On top of everything, I had some sort of extreme fatigue.  I was so worried about it that I even made a doctor’s appointment and went in, where the doctor ran some blood tests and even gave me a neck xray since I had a strange achiness accompanying the fatigue.  I guess it didn’t occur to me that I could have the same virus that struck down the kids, mainly because I didn’t have the same (disgusting) symptoms they had, but I did look up some stuff on the internet in an attempt to scare diagnose myself.  The good news is, my xrays and blood tests came back normal (well, I’m actually still waiting on one of the tests, but it’s Friday and the nurses are out to lunch and won’t be back until Monday afternoon – what is that?  Can I have a job like that?), but the tests that did come back show that there is nothing wrong with my thyroid or my iron levels, both of which I thought were possibilities.  So that’s good…  I guess.  If there was something wrong with my body chemically, we’d be able to fix it, and then I’d have the energy I need to keep up with my 4 little kids.  Now that most things came back normal, I don’t know where to start to feel better…   Although I do feel much better today, but still no where near normal, and that makes me think it might be the illness my kids had after all.  But it was a bizarrely lengthy version of the stomach flu, and it will take us weeks (at least!) to catch up on all the work that didn’t get done in the week and a half of illness, sigh.

My husband had to take off from some of his work so he could watch the kids while I rested, and especially with all the laundry we’ve had to do around here, Mt.  Washmore is once again threatening to take over the second floor of our house.  All this catching up, and I’m still exhausted…  My husband seems to think I have sleep apnea, mostly because I snore often and loudly and I’m always needing more sleep.  I forgot to bring this up to the doctor, but if I ever get ahold of her and that last test comes back normal, maybe we can go from there…  I do seem to need an awful lot of sleep to function.  Well, anyway, that’s my story – sorry if I grossed anyone out (especially body-function-joke-hater Derek), but I thought people should know where I’ve been for the last two weeks.  At least the kids are feeling better – it was beyond sad to see them crabby, lethargic and not able to keep anything down…  Is it time for summer yet?!?

How Sweet It Is

Posted in animals on January 14th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Two different family members sent me an email forward with the following video because they knew I’d love it.  They were right!  The following is a touching story about the unlikely but very true friendship between a dog and an elephant – you have to see it to believe it!

If you can see this, then you might need a Flash Player upgrade or you need to install Flash Player if it's missing. Get Flash Player from Adobe.

Marley and Me

Posted in Movies on December 31st, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Reluctantly, I saw Marley and Me in the movie theater yesterday.  It’s not that it was a bad movie, but I didn’t want to see it in the theater because I knew it would be a tear-jerker since I read the book by John Grogan.  Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about the book since I read it a long time ago, and I do all of my book reading while I’m dozing off just before bed, which sometimes makes it difficult to remember what I’ve read.  But I know I really enjoyed the novel and recommended it to my family and friends.  The story is about a family who gets a puppy named Marley, and the novel follows his journey through life as the ‘world’s worst dog’.  But eventually, Marley charms his way into the hearts of his family, even helping them through life changes and tragedies.

From what I remember, I think the movie stays pretty close to the book, although I don’t necessarily agree with the casting choices of Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson as Marley’s masters.  I was a big fan of the tv show Friends, but every movie I’ve seen Jennifer Aniston in since seems like she’s still Rachel, her character from Friends.  She’s just not a very diverse actor in my book, which I also think she has in common with Owen Wilson.  But characters in this heartwarming family film were not very deep, so in the end the poor casting did little to sink the movie.  And you’ll notice that I crossed out family film.  Another thing that disappointed me was the PG rating Marley and Me received.  There are about 3 too many adult-themed scenes that I wouldn’t want my kids to see, and I’m really glad I previewed this film before I let them see it, which I usually do anyway.  This movie should NOT have received a PG rating, and it will make me more careful about making sure I preview everything before the kids view it, regardless of rating.

But overall, cute movie.  If you’re an animal lover or have ever owned a dog, prepare to cry.  Sorry if you consider that a spoiler, but it’s been all over the media and has dominated water cooler talk everywhere about how sad the movie and book are.  I’m sure you can guess what happens and you think you can prepare yourself, but you can’t.  I was a total wreck in the theater and have had a bit of a cloud over me ever since.  But don’t let that scare you away from seeing Marley and Me.  I think it just struck a chord in me because we own a dog who was once ‘The World’s Worst Dog’ and is now an old lady who has been a huge part of our family for over 10 years.  I probably would not watch this movie again, but only for lack of wanting to ride the emotional rollercoaster it provokes in its viewers.  The big screen version of Marley and Me was entertaining, and it made me definitely want to read the book again…  if only I had time for that.

A-Z’s of Me

Posted in Fun Forwards on December 6th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I received another ‘getting to know you’ email forward, and this one promises to be ‘different’ so here goes…

Here’s a new one & it’s much better than previous versions. Cut and paste and fill in the answers. Then, send to all your friends!
*A – Age:              30
*B – Bed size:      Queen
*C – Chore you hate:   drying dishes
* D    Dessert you love:   depends upon my mood
*E – Essential start of your day item:    yogurt
*F – Favorite actor(s):      Steve Carell, Tom Hanks
*G – Gold or Silver:          Gold
*H – Height:         5 ft. 8 in.
*I – Instruments you play:   little bit of piano, various percussion instruments
*J – Job title:    Homemaker
*K – Kid(s):   3 girls and a boy
*L – Living arrangements:  Husband, 4 kids, 2 dogs, and a parrot
*M – Mom’s name:    Phyllis
*N – Nicknames:     Mom, Lis
*O – Overnight hospital stay other than birth:  other than MY birth or any birth?  Cuz I’ve had 4 kids…  Also some ear infections when I was a baby.
*P – Phobia or fear:   frogs
*Q – Favorite quote: Until I can think of a better one – “Abraham Lincoln said, if you are a racist, I will attack you with the North.”  – Michael Scott 
*R – Right or left handed:    Right
*S – Siblings:    1 older sister
*T-  Talent:  multi-tasking
*U – Unique skill:    I can hang a spoon off the end of my nose
*V – Vegetable you hate:    peas
 *W   Worst habit:   procrastination
*X – X ray:    dental
*Y – Yummy food you make:  I just made a California blend soup yesterday out of leftovers that everyone loved
*Z – Zodiac Sign:      Cancer, the crab!

Baby Christopher’s Warm Fuzzies

Posted in Kids on June 4th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

When I was in high school, I was in a peer group called Snowball and one of our activities was to write “warm fuzzies” about each other.  Warm fuzzies are kind thoughts.  When we told family and friends we are now expecting a boy instead of a girl, we got lots of warm fuzzies, so I decided to collect them in one place so baby Christopher can read them someday.

How exciting to find out about your new son, we are so excited for you.
Love, Linda
I knew you guys could do it! Congratulations!!
Mary Beth
That is sooooo great. I can’t wait for HIS arrival. I sure Dad is as excited.
Wow!  No wonder you are in shock!  I’m excited for you.  I had 3 boys and the last was a girl, and I didn’t know till she was born – no ultrasounds in those days.  All I can tell you from my experience is the girl was nothing like her brothers, from day one.  For me, 3 boys were easier than one girl!  I’ll be interested to see how your experience is.  Can’t wait to meet little Christopher.  I have one of those as well. (He is and was the “toughest”, most bull-headed of my boys.)
CONTRATULATIONS!  I’m so happy for you – although it does turn out that I was wrong on the poll L  You are going to love having a son. I know I was very nervous about having a son because I wasn’t sure if I could feel the same way about a boy as I did about Abby.  Because she was a girl, I thought we had this unusual bond that couldn’t possibly exist between a mother and a son, but it turns out that gender has nothing to do with it.   I knew I’d love him, but I wasn’t sure that there’d be that “click” I had with Abby.  I’m glad to reports I was very wrong.  I’m positively in love with my son and couldn’t imagine life without a boy to raise.  I’ve often said that I’d have a whole ball team of boys before I’d have another girl, so if that tells you anything, you’ll LOVE having a son.  HOORAY for you!

Congratulations! Wow – will YOUR household change!!!! BUT, as a mother of 2 boys, I have to say that boys are EASY! I, too, was scared about having a boy – I had a sister, all girl cousins, even babysat for girls! But I soon learned that they are, in many ways, easier than girls! Still, I did go through a time from about 4th grade ’til college (or after) ’til they actually CONVERSED with me! Heaven forbid a boy would share an actual THOUGHT with a FEMALE in the house! But – I wouldn’t trade a thing – they were both healthy and happy boys (and now, grownups!). That’s all we can ask for, right?!  So – big CONGRATS to you all! Here’s to a healthy and happy Christopher Vincent Avell, soon to join a great family! Thanks for sharing your news~
Hugs, Dawn
how exciting – boys love those boys!!!!!!!!!!  can’t wait – now i can buy blue stuff!!!
Lisa & Chris,
Yea, a boy!  I’m excited for you and I guessed right!  lol  Just lucky! lol  I didn’t realize it was coming
up so soon.  You will have fun with a boy.  I’m glad you are naming him Chris. 
Lisa and Chris,  We are sooo exited for you!!!!   Way to go , You are in our thoughts and prayers.  Keith and Trudy
What exciting news – we are thrilled – but most of all that baby is happy and healthy – and family – God bless you all – Trudy and Keith
Don’t count your chickens… My second daughter was supposed to be a boy, at least that’s what the ultra sound picture looked said…. I’m pretty sure she came out a girl.  I’ll be a little jealous if you have a boy…. says the father of 4 girls….
                And, I love both names. I sometimes call Stephen, Nick, because his middle name is Nickolas, after my brother. He answers to Nick more than Stephen. It’s all good.  Boys are fun too!  Yahoo! Fun, fun, fun!  God Bless, and All my Love, Lilly
Congrats!   I picked boy, too, but didn’t e-mail it.  I told you at game night shortly after that.  I have to be around you to get a “feel” for it.  In case you didn’t remember.  I hope it’s right this time!
We are really excited for you guys! Little boys are a handful, but so much fun! Christopher and Ryan will be so close in age. When I told Austin you were having a boy, he said, “See, I was right all along.”. He actually told me a few months ago he thought you were having a boy. Very weird!
 Kim, Tim, and Austin