Friday, May 19, 2017

Logistics and stuff

I have been blogging. A lot. In my imagination as well as on various platforms. I have blog posts started, some finished, many in my head, but somehow they don't make it here. I wish there was a decent app that I could open and blog, offline, and set to post when I am back online. But it doesn't exist. I am never on my home PC anymore. Never. One of the kids is always on it and I am too busy. But I have my iPad ready handy many times.

Anyways, I have e-mails written to myself. I have posts written on my iPad. I am going to try and get them all pulled together and posted over the next few weeks. AB is headed to Alaska, then he gets back and I go on travel again back to Albuquerque. I am hoping to have some time where I can sit and get things caught up here because I have been in a real funk lately.

Blogging used to help me see things straight. I miss writing a lot. I have had a lot of tears lately and while AB has been good about helping me through some part of me feels as though if I had this outlet active, I might have less frustrations and hurts? Maybe not. But I'll try.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

You wouldn't believe what happened...

Seriously. I didn't believe it.

I was promoted this cycle!

And I hadn't even taken to whining about my job yet! That never happens. It is a well known fact that you don't get promoted without being just totally pissed off and overdue for a promotion that you don't even want to celebrate when it does happen.

I figured I had little to lose last fall when I told my team lead that I wanted to be considered for a promotion this coming year (nearly a year ago). I reminded him mid-year and then I made it pretty easy for him to make my case for me by arming him with tables and written materials stating my case.

I was actually a bit worried because my group manager (who I adored) left a few months ago to take a temporary assignment (betting she doesn't come back) and the guy who took over for her lacks that something. Oh and not to mention that I had even had one of those "come to Jesus" meetings with him as his program manager just a few months prior.

So when he was announced as our interim TGM I felt a bit sick to my stomach. I knew that recommending me for promotion had been put forward as he called two meetings with me within the last month to "just get things straight".

Last week he shook my hand, told me congratulations on the promotion and let me know that it was actually an easy sell. I was blown away. He read off glowing word for word reviews from people I work with that actually made me tear up. It has been a hard fought year with a lot of travel. But worth it.

I haven't told many people. Truth is, I have few people in my life who really care about my career or my getting a promotion. I don't mean that to sound bad, I know many people care about ME, which is what counts. And I DO have the people who I told. And really, I don't mind it, it is just a fact of life in what I do for a living that not everyone buys into it, sees value, many think I should do something different or have taken another path. And most, frankly, don't even know what I do on a day to day basis. I am in introvert, I am not the person to scream up and down and shout it from the mountains. I find satisfaction internally, not from other people patting me on my back.

I did need to change some cost estimates and I gasped a bit at what my new charge out rate is. I had to tell one colleague why I was presenting her with a new request that was 20% larger for the year than my previous estimate. So it was a bit of a sticker shock, but she was tremendously supportive.

So here it is, putting it out there. I have rocked this year. I helped bring in a new $12-18M/year program and have a lead position on that program, I co-managed an existing program and brought many changes to how things are done, I ran one proposal call, landed a few smaller proposals, continued serving on my graduate universities advisory council, was offered a research associate position at one of the nation's most prestigious nuclear engineering university programs (UT Austin), despite never having taken a nuclear OR engineering class, I mentored other staff, I was the hammer, I resolved staff conflicts, I endorsed others, I was compassionate with what my staff were experiencing, I made connections, I was invited to speak, I became one of the "good old boys" (or so I was told, I tell myself I have infiltrated their network), I have made my colleagues proud, and I have supported my country in our mission space. I am proud of what I have done.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Skadi Update

Skadi is at that really fabulous age. Not yet a tween. Totally a pleasure to be around. Enjoys interacting with people around her. Always has a smile for everyone. Takes every broken or bent being under her wing. I wish I were more like her.

She struggles academically, which is hard for me to admit as someone who has always succeeded. This year we put her in Sylvan (freaky expensive). And we are actually seeing a lot of growth in her both academically and socially. We ended 3rd grade in the dumps. She hated school. She felt that she wasn’t liked. It was horrible.

I don’t want to think it was because she had a horrible teacher. I felt as though her teacher was “just there”. She wasn’t a leader. She was a warm body in the classroom. She was lenient to start and then when Skadi pushed, she had no where to move to. She became exasperated (my impression) and then Skadi ended her year on a suck-ass note. Skadi wasn’t happy socially, she felt that her teacher wasn’t her friend (and maybe her teacher shouldn’t be her friend, but maybe she should stand behind her?).

I have to admit that I have no actual idea how Skadi is doing this year. We have a very different teacher who is from the dark ages. (Seriously, she could have been my 4th grade teacher.) She doesn’t communicate, no e-mails, no “newsletters” home. But you know what? Skadi adores her and reports that she is actually on “grade level” by her tests. WTF? Grade level is not a phrase we use with Skadi typically.

Conferences are coming up and we will find out the hard truth. Skadi has worked her tail off. I so hope it has paid off.

Skadi was in tae kwon do – but has decided her priorities lie elsewhere. I really kind of wish she would have continued. And maybe she will at a later date. What has really driven home for me was the confidence builder it has been in her own body. The girl knows how to take down a grown man. No joke. You don’t want to meet my girl in a dark alley – and she is only an orange belt. I asked her one day to show me what she would do if someone attacked her. I was astonished.

Skadi really enjoys swimming – like her dad. She has her goals set on joining the swim team at our health club this spring.
She has a lot of passions she wants to pursue - but until we get her lined out and on a solid path academically, we don't have a lot of time to pursue other activities (which makes me sad). She is in Leadership Club at school and came up with the Club's motto for the year on her own. Well I found the website of "quotes for kids" and she picked the one she wanted:

"Be somebody that makes everybody feel like a somebody." Kid President

This embodies Skadi. She is tender hearted and wants everyone to be included and have fun. There is a boy in her class from Korea that speaks little English. Skadi has been nice to him and offers to partner with him a lot - we have learned that the boy has a pretty serious crush on Skadi now. Instead of backing off (since she doesn't like him "that way"), she continues to be nice and warm to him.

I love her so much.

One thing I love is seeing the interactions between her and her brothers. Yesterday we went to pick her up at Tchoukball (afterschool PE activity like handball). She is the tiniest child on the teams and the boys tend to ignore her. Leif was outraged. He knew some of the boys from last school and was SO upset that they weren't getting the ball to her equally. I loved seeing him stand up for her!
 

 

 

 

Silas Update (from September, never posted)

Silas is at that funny age where his memories are starting to form and he is defining his own world around him. He is nearly 3.5 and is a typical preschooler for the most part. A bit more intense than my other two were. And more so than many of the kids around him in preschool. He is intense and over the top, but loving and snuggley and caring.

It is really fun to see his world evolve around him and him act as an independent participant in the world we are not a part of. The Mystery Bag is his thing. What is the Mystery Bag? For sharing in his preschool class the kids get a canvas bag that comes home with a big question mark on it. The kids get to put a secret item in the bag, bring it in and give hints to the class, while the classmates guess what might be in the bag. It is a huge highlight for Silas. He LOVES the Mystery Bag. He gets so excited when he finds the Mystery Bag in his locker and then we all get to practice guessing for him all night before he takes it in. 

Silas is a huge fan of music. He has eclectic tastes in music, and very much goes OCD with one song. So much so that he wears everyone out on the song. He gets the song completely memorized. (Everyone else is forced into complete memorization as well.) He sings the song, he plays it on piano, guitar and whatever other instrument he can find. And is absolutely insistent that no other song can play on the TV, in the car, anywhere. And if you try, he screams. 

I kind of hate to give in to musical preschool terrorist tactics. But keeping the peace is also a priority in the house. 

Silas is also at that age where he is starting to fib and try to get out of things. He wasn't the one who hit someone at school, it was another kid in the class. The reason Skadi was pushing him away wasn't because he was throwing the arrow in his hand at her. "It wasn't because I threw this arrow at her mom." He self-incriminates pretty regularly. And it's always hard to keep a straight face as he tries to get himself out of trouble. 

The big trouble comes from Dad though. He pretty regularly gets in trouble at daycare for something, the teacher tells me, he insists it wasn't him. Then begs and pleads for me not to tell dad. Dad will be "Soo mad at me!" Sorry that AB has to be the bad guy all the time, but we play it up pretty good. 

Silas had his first stitches two weeks ago. He and Leif were playing when Silas slipped on the floor. When he looked up there was blood all over. Split chin. AB took him to the ER and he did great there and was home in record time. Stitches dissolved and we thought all was good.

That was until I was chatting with a friend at the grocery store and Silas was messing around near my feet - slipped and fell. The ER visit that time wasn't so easy. Hours later he came home with butterfly closure and no stitches and one irritated dad. Multiple doctors, multiple injections, doctors constantly pulled away for other emergencies. It sounded awful. And the final doctor slapped some steri-strips on it and sent them on their way. Amazingly the chin has healed, but not without a decent sized scar.





Silas Update


Excuses? It isn’t that I don’t have the absolute best intentions. It’s that I don’t have the time. I have jotted down a gazillion things that I want to record regarding Silas. I want to blog about my work life – because that is crazy. But I just can’t seem to stay on top of things. There’s no time like the present, I guess. My goal over the Thanksgiving holiday is to blog everyday. Maybe this will push me back into the habit? I always take the week of Thanksgiving off - but this year I saw that the Friday before Thanksgiving had no meetings scheduled - and Silas was in need of some mama time - so I extended. Now we are kicking off 10 days straight of "hanging out" (Silas' words). So in theory that would be 10 days of blogs. I have a few days in there we won't be around or connected, so I hope for a few days of double blogs.
So Silas. He is a ball of love, but a superior pain in the rear at the exact same time. Knock on wood – we haven’t had a bad report on him from daycare in a week and a half. Seriously, I would knock on wood.
He is at that phase where everything he says is hilarious. Or completely scary and I worry about my safety at night. But mostly just loveable. He is struggling at daycare. The child does not really like other children. At all. He thinks they are evil or something. I don’t really know. He doesn’t want to be near them, he doesn’t want them to make noise. He doesn’t really want them to exist. If they make noise, say things he doesn’t like, exist in his space, basically – he freaks out. And sometimes (but not always) that freak out entails a more vampire like attitude.
Yesterday Silas was pushed down and bonked his head pretty hard. They decided to keep him up for nap as a concussion precaution. For some reason they sent him off to kindergarten with the 5 year olds. When I picked him up I got rave reviews. He loved sitting there in kindergarten, was not distracting, loved participating. I felt a bit vindicated because we keep telling them to push him intellectually.

Silas is my book kid. I FINALLY GOT ONE!!! After having two reluctant readers, I finally got my kid who enjoys passing his time with a book laying on his bed.

He is freaky smart. He counts above 20, counts objects by rote, he memorizes songs and books completely. He will sing entire songs – “Sound of Silence”, “Lampshades on Fire”… not easy songs. He also memorizes books. AB and I have taken to trying to trip him up. But he catches the slightest word and corrects us. If I say “beast” instead of “bear” in his favorite (and freakishly long) Merida book, he will correct me. It is a LONG book and he can recite it from front to back and doesn’t miss an adjective.

We have thought about taking him in and having him “tested”. Though I am not sure for what. Can they tell if a preschooler is a genius? Or are we just the same as every other parent and shocked at the things that we, as adults, don’t seem to be able to do anymore because we have our brain power devoted to other things?

It’s probably the later.
------
Silas' favorites:

Spiderman
Curious George
Captain America
Finding Dory (refuses to watch Finding Nemo)
The Grinch book
Merida book
Too Many Toys book
Buzz Lightyear
Monsters Inc,
Beethoven (our dog)
Lucky (our cat)
Calling people "buttheads" (hanging head in shame - my fault, I call Odin this. Correction, I used to call Odin this.)
Singing
Jingle Bells by the Barenaked Ladies

Cooking - cracking the eggs specifically. Silas calls it "making". When I am cooking dinner he yells, "I want to make with you". He is a hard worker in the kitchen.

He is also my good eater. He eats lettuce! An unknown in my house with the kids. I actually get to send salad in for his lunch.

One other thing that Silas nailed that the other kids still lack is knowing where things are. He remembers. And when he loses something (or Dad loses something that was bought at the Chinese Lantern Festival) he remembers the item months and still holds grudges.

------

Me: "You're out of time out. Now what are we going to do?" (I was thinking something along the lines of apologizing to Skadi.)

Silas: "You are going to return me back to the Brother Store where they will put me back in my cage and I will have to wait for another mommy and daddy to decide they want me."

And so now I AM the one who feels like crap.
 -----
Silas: "Mom, when we get home can I have a feather?"
Me: "We can probably find a feather, what do you want it for?"
Silas: "To call it macaroni."

-----
Silas asked the other rainy day why we didn't have more gorillas as he wanted to take one to school and certainly Skadi would want to take one too.

Tonight while reading to him, I found out that gorilla is umbrella. And his world makes a little more sense.

------
Silas channeling my mom: "If you want to make pie, you make pie!"
This is actually a common Silas refrain. "If you want to have a hang out day, we have a hang out day."
Or, "if you want to go to school, you go to school".
He is a very matter of fact kid.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Nakey butt

Silas is in the "fascinated with his body stage". Or actually we will change that to "fascinated with everybodies bodies stage". 

The locker room at the Court Club after swimming is my most feared place right now. In and out as fast as possible. House of Horrors. 

He is very well versed in genitalia presently. He calls his "penis" and Leif has helped him out with the "balls" one. Leif didn't ask about those until much later. But he is also fascinated with "Basheenas". It sounds an awful lot like Sheena. Which is also the name of the daycare director. And I haven't told her that when she says it is cute that he asks everyone if they have a "Sheena", that it is actually not her. 

Anyways. He has this naked dance. It's the "naked butt" dance. He gets naked, pats his head with one head, pats his head with the other does this sideways slide thing and sings "naked butt, nakey butt" while prancing and dancing. The older two fight over who it was who taught him this as though it is a badge of honor.

Yes, I have video. No, you can't see it. Well ply me with a glass of wine and I might show you. 

The other day Leif went to change his clothes. Silas knew where he was going, followed him, stripped naked with Leif and started singing "we're just two naked guys! Doo doo!"

Leif yelling (and simultaneously laughing his ass off) "MOM! Will you come get him. Or do something. Or videotape him? Or no, because I am naked. I don't know. But maybe you just need to come see this!" 

Hilarious. Yes. We were dying as Silas danced around Leif naked singing "we're just two naked guys, doo doo". 

Daycare told me he is fascinated with genitals. 

I asked them not to tell me anymore. 


Thursday, May 19, 2016

My big fat whiny post

Ever have one of those days when your frustrations just build up? Nothing, in itself, that's huge. Just little things. Things that bog you down and get inside your brain? I have a series of them. Let's see how far I get and if it is at all cathartic.

#1
I had a friend. She was a decent enough friend and works where I work. Then one day somewhat recently I noted that it was always on me. We were having lunch on a somewhat regular basis and I enjoyed it. Then it dawned on me that I was always the only one that set up lunch. And I started getting paranoid.

"Maybe she doesn't actually like me."
"Maybe she doesn't really want to have lunch with me?"
"Maybe she only does this because she doesn't want to hurt my feelings?"

So I quit initiating lunch. That was over a year ago. I haven't had lunch with her since.

Lunch is just an example. It extended beyond lunch. Occasional dinners with my family. Never at their house. Occasional glasses of wine . Not at their house and never initiated by anyone other than me.

I'll admit it. My feelings are hurt. And I kind of feel like I have been an idiot all this time assuming I had a friend. Yes, sometimes I am the most insecure person around. But I have stopped initiating get togethers with her and the friendship is gone. Not valuable to her is my take away. And frankly, at this point it would take a lot to rescue the friendship probably because I have let it sit for so long waiting to see if she ever reciprocates.

#2
This leads me to #2. Reciprocity. Based off of #1 I have started questioning several of my friendships and trying to understand where they go off course. I have my areas where I am sucky - I haven't been to my best friend's house in ages. And I feel guilty about this. But with three little kids and a professional career that is requiring me to travel right now, and a husband with a job with suck ass hours, escaping for girl fun is just really, really hard. I promise promise promise I will make it up. I have faith that you will be there at the end of this phase!

But here locally I have noticed that AB and I initiate and invite new couples over for dinner and never get invited back. At first it is easy to say, "they are too busy" or "someday it will work out". But then it becomes "what did we do wrong?" And AB and I wrack our brains. Was it this? Or that? And we finally come down to, "well I love you and you are perfect to me, so screw it".

The fact that people come to our Halloween party every year and seem to have a great time is indicative that some people enjoy hanging out with us. But of the people who come, there is one. occasionally two couples, who host us back. Every year I threaten to not host the Halloween party. But our kids love it and it creates fun memories for them. So I suck it up. And we all have a great time.

I wish I knew what it was. Maybe it's my kids - and if it is - well go suck an egg. Maybe it's the raucous dogs. And if it is, I am sorry, but I wouldn't bring them over or out to dinner. Maybe it is just me. Or AB. And well, if it is, I guess that's just what we have to live with.

But still... I wish I knew.

#3
This kind of leads to #3. RSVP people. I invite you somewhere, I suggest we go do something and ask when a good day is, let me know if it will work for you. Let me know you aren't interested in going. Common courtesy. Three times within the last month I have invited a few people to do things with me or my kids.

::crickets::

WTF? Seriously you can't bring yourself to respond to me?

Then let's take it to the small set. What's wrong with my kids? I mean, I know they have flaws. But if I invite a child to a birthday party, tell me if they are going to be there. And if they are, and then your plans change, let me know. My daughter's birthday party still bugs me. We invited several little girls along with all our good friends and their kids. All our good friends and their kids came. And all but one out of about 8 of the other kids bailed. Skadi had a great birthday party. But she still on occasion will mention "but I had invited her to my party and she didn't come". I was shocked at the number of people who RSVP'd and then didn't show up. Further shocked at the number of people who were invited and couldn't bring themselves to even RSVP.

Then there was the other one that pisses me off even more. The lying family. The daughter tells Skadi the truth at school as they play a lot. But the mom texts me lines of crap so deep I wish I hadn't left my hip waders in Alaska. I don't want to punish the girls, but freaking be honest. The next time a text comes across on why the girl can't come over after school that contradicts so vastly what the girl told my daughter and is obviously the truth, I think I am going to call her on it.

"We are going out of town this weekend, I am sorry my daughter can't come to the party."

"No problem, I understand that you don't like this other girl who will be around, she is a sweet kid, really. But no problem! I'll see you in your front yard when I drop off your neighbor on carpool tomorrow."

Along the lines of the common courtesy of the RSVP is the "thank you". I sent you a gift, at least tell me you received it. Easy one.

I am kind of feeling done right now.

#4
Feeling done right now. Feelings have been hurt. Friends I am now calling lost. Done.

AB and I are hanging on here in this region by a thin thread right now. That thin thread is my job. And how well it is going and future exciting positions that are all but promised to me. Hell, I have exciting current positions in hand. I love my work. Largely. Most days. Two good paying jobs and mine with extreme flexibility? Bird in hand.

We have talked about going overseas for a few years to an available position. What keeps us here right now is not knowing what we would do with the dogs. Ok, and the house and the cars. But largely, the dogs. I have made a commitment to them and they wouldn't be easily rehomed. But at the same time taking our kids and packing up and going overseas sounds like a dang good idea.

So there it is. Blah blah blah.

Now I can move on and be my normal happy self!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Poop gun

So Silas potty trained pretty easily. We were slow though. Part of it was that we had a big vacation last fall and didn't want to deal with it at all on that trip. So CHristmas hit and we went full in. And no real issues after his first week of rebellion. 

Then one day he quit pooping in the potty. We mentioned it, but didn't push. We encouraged. No dice. We knew that we couldn't push really hard after Leif had years of issues with encopresis. So I bought some toys. Little surprises for successes. And not terribly surprisingly, it came back pretty easily. 

The lasting effects though are that he has latched onto his "poop toys". And has named each one. 

We have: 

Poop gun
Little poop gun
Big poop gun
Poop gabloons (balloons)
Poop Man

Silas: "Leif, here is my poop gun!"
Leif: "Umm Silas, do you think that we might be able to call it just 'green squirt gun'?"

Checker at the grocery store: "Oh, that's a nice squirty toy."
Silas (in a deep voice)': "It's my BIG poop gun!" 

At swimming lessons at the top of his lungs: "I NEED MY POOP GUN!" 

At Tae Kwon Do with a huge group of people around us: 
Mrs. Rose: "Silas, look at that..."
I was rude, I cut her off. 
Me: "Don't acknowledge the squirt gun!"
Mrs. Rose: "Oh?"
Me: "See, he got it for pooping in the potty and so now he proclaims it his 'poop gun', loudly!"


Well babies

Ok. So neither are babies anymore. But I finally got around to the well child exams for Silas and Skadi. Well child visits are my favorite. Our Doctor talks to the kids as adults and the responses are often hilarious. 

Silas: "What is she doing to me?"
Me: "The nurse is taking your blood pressure."
Silas: "Oh. Ok." (Nurse finishes.) "Are you happy now?"
Nurse: "Umm yes."
Silas: "Did you suck all my bones away?" 
Nurse: (Laughs) "Umm no."
Silas: "Yeah, ok. I can still feel my bones in my elbows and knees. I guess you are ok now."
She enters the information into the computer.
Nurse: "Ok, just a few questions. Does he know his name?"
I just looked at her blankly for a minute.
Me: "Yes, he knows his name."
Nurse: "Does he speak in complete sentences?" 
Me: "Well..." (Pause.)
Nurse: "Ok, so he did to me, so I am guessing that's normal."
Me: "That and more."
And Skadi is busting up laughing. 

Doctor: "Silas, what do you like to eat?"
Silas: "Cheese."
Doctor: "Anything else?"
Silas: "Yogurt."
Doctor: "Anything else?" 
Silas: "Cheese."
Doctor looks at me.
Me: "He speaks the truth."
Doctor: "Silas what is your favorite thing for breakfast."
Silas: "Most definitely pizza."
WTF? The child has never had pizza for breakfast in his life.

Doctor: "Skadi what is your favorite thing for breakfast?"
Skadi: "Captain Crunch with CRUNCH BERRIES!"
WTF? I buy Captain Cruch ONCE in a moment of weakness. Trying to appease Silas at the grocery store so I can finish getting groceries and now it bites me in the butt! She thinks I give my kids pizza and sugar cereals for breakfast. GAHHH!!

Skadi grew two inches last year and remains in the 26th percentile for both height and weight. 

Silas was 32 lbs and 38.5". About 50-60th percentile for both. He's a lightweight because he eats nothing. Nothing but mango nectar, cheese and yogurt. I need to compare stats, but I am sure he is lighter than both the other two, but height is a forgotten unknown for me. I am pretty sure Leif was taller. Probably not Skadi though at age 3. She was starting to show her shrimpiness at that point. 




Thursday, January 14, 2016

Vacation-ville Part 4: Disneyworld


Finally! The last installment. Yes, it was quite a trip. Now that I have quit swaying from the cruise and we are all home safe and sound I look back on it all quite fondly. There really is something truly magical about taking your kids on vacation. And it doesn't have to be a 2 week crazy multi-destination expensive trip either. My kids love going out in the trailer too. We love going over to Seattle. Or up to the mountains. Staying in a small, confined space (trailer or hotel) with the kids can be both maddening and full of love. 

By this point in the trip I was seriously lacking clean clothes. There were laundry facilities on the cruise ship, but there was some serious competition. And hauling your laundry ALL over the freaking ship to find an open machine was hard. Before departing on the plane a week and a half prior, we knew that doing laundry was going to be an issue and that we weren't packing boatloads of clothes - truly nearly everything we packed was worn at least once. We had thought we would just pay and turn over a big laundry bag to some smiling Disney employee. Well at $2 a shirt... Not exactly. We were recycling. And standing in line for laundry facilities - when we would much rather do something else. 

But now we were off, freed from the constraints of the boat! We hadn't eaten breakfast and I think we were all sick of the ship food. We got off, drove a bit and found an iHop. iHop had never tasted so good. We actually ordered a ton of food, paid little to nothing (it seemed a steal after all the money we had just forked over for the last 7 days) and EVERYONE - picky Skadi and Silas included - chowed. 

I had spent time in this region before on travel for work, so I dragged everyone over to the Ron Jon Shop. I like this place. I guess where I come from, where I grew up, we just don't have a huge warehouse devoted to swim suits and swim gear and all things water. We shopped a bit, AB rented a boogie board and we hit the beach. 


Waves! A lot of waves actually. 


Reno of Cocoa Beach. Skadi will never let us forget this photo as she was not there to hold the bird. And he left before she got back. Many curses on me.    


Thankfully Skadi had just bought a swim suit at the Ron Jon Shop. 


Kids having fun!


Leif sitting and being contemplative. 

AB had a great day. He claims this was his favorite day of the trip - hanging out on the beach, just us and riding the boogie board. Our hard deadline was the rental car return time in Orlando. We had to get to a grocery store to stock up on necessities (we were actually running out of diapers), drive to Orlando, get checked in at the Port Orleans Riverside and then get the car back. Lots to do. We packed up. Found a public restroom to change and headed towards Orlando. All things being equal and I had to do it all over again, I think I would have planned to spend the night here in Cocoa Beach. 

So we drive - actually I drive and everyone else konks out given the late night, early morning, day on the beach experience. Before we know it we are in Orlando and checked in at the Port Orleans Riverside. 

We picked this hotel because it is one of the few moderate priced category hotels where you can have 5 to a room. I am learning this is a big deal with a family of two parents and three kids. You either lie about having only 2 kids and a total of 4 people - or you pay for a suite or two rooms.  It isn't AS big of a deal with Silas being under 3 on this trip - as we didn't have to pay for his park access or anything. But over 3 years old and it becomes a pain in the butt to try and work around with hotel stays. 

We had previously stayed at Caribbean Beach and Coronado. So now we were at Port Orleans Riverside. Skadi loved her fold out bed. Silas got a crib and Leif lucked into a queen bed to himself. Skadi was thrilled at not having to share her nifty fold down. You can see why Leif had no interest...


That night we ran over to the resort for dinner. We had thought about taking the boat over to Downtown Disney - actually now it is Disney Springs - but the line was long and we had some hope of hitting the pool after dinner and before bed. 

This is where I think the Port Orleans Riverside let us down. We had come to the restaurant once before on our first trip - Boatwrights - and had a poor experience. Boatwrights was a no go at a 90 min wait. And so we went to the cafeteria area. The selection was not great and was not made better by the kid who puked in the middle of the floor. Truly I feel for the parents. It could have been us. But it didn't help our appetites. We all got our mugs set up, had a refresher on how to use the meal plan (offered reluctantly) and then sat down. We had mugs swiped nearly immediately while refilling - yes, seriously. There was a dancing/instrument/parade thing for the kids and they didn't come over to our wing. And the food was kind of like Denny's. Just not good. 

I could go into it more, but we will probably go back to Coronado next time. We enjoyed their food selections and particularly the breakfast bar. But we also had huge issues with shuttle buses at Riverside. We actually had to miss/reschedule one Fast Pass because of lack of shuttle buses. This was annoying because our next option for Soarin' was at 7pm that night. No chance at getting more than our three FP+ in. If it was just once, it wouldn't have been a big deal. But two days of our three there we waited and waited and waited for buses. They had an attendant (intern) there who kept radioing for shuttles both days to no avail. Or at least that was what they were telling us they were doing - we had never seen attendants at the shuttle stops before. In talking with other people they complained about shuttle accessibility with both this trip and prior trips staying at the Riverside. No thanks. 

Ok enough about Disney Riverside - on to Hollywood Studios!


We love Hollywood Studios for Star Wars and the Buzz Lightyear ride. Super fun. We rode Star Wars a number of times, waits weren't terribly long. We only got on Buzz once. It is shocking to me how long the waits are for that ride. 

Unfortunately Silas isn't tall enough to ride many of the rides. But he likes posing on things and seeing characters thankfully. 



Oh and the Osborne Spectacle of Lights. Really magical. 


We loved the lights. So did everyone else. Hideous crowds. 


Getting ready to get snatched up. 


We were about ready to let them snatch HIM up. He wanted to see Buzz so bad, but waiting for 40 minutes in line was a bit much to ask. Or he was just being a pain. 


Fantastic. Truly one of the best shows. We love it. I tried to get them to redo their photo from years ago. It was like pulling teeth. But I got some semblance of it. 


Fantasmic


Oops, Buzz pictures are out of order. I always told Leif he didn't have to see the characters, but some he willingly saw, though with a smirk on his face like I made him. I, in no way, made him see Buzz or Woody. 


Miss Bean - or KK. I am not supposed to call her Bean. 


The whole crowd. Psycho toddler changed his mood once he got to the front of the line. Silas called Buzz Lightyear "To bitty and beyond". Silas talks: "I met to bitty and beyond!"


Us. Note that the Mickey hat isn't there anymore, which is kind of sad. 


Found a photographer while AB and the kids rode Star Tours. 


He looks all sweet and innocent there, but we know better. 




It was a late night at Hollywood Studios. Silas was NOT a fan of Fantasmic - many tears. There weren't as many rides for him, and even the things we thought he would enjoy, like "Buzz Lightyear", were "scary". But we had a great time. 

The next morning was Magic Kingdom day! We were all excited for the new Fantasyland and made a plan to beeline it to Fantasyland for our Little Mermaid Fast Pass - after cinnamon rolls at Gaston's. We were waylayed along the way... 


Silas' favorite Disney hero. Merida. He LOVES Merida as can be seen by his grin here.


The boy was SO SO happy and still talks about meeting Merida (and Elsa). 




She's already a pro actually. But always good to have pointers. 

Finally we were on our way to Fantasyland! Gaston's cinnamon rolls were perfect. As was LaFrou's brew. Voyage of the LIttle Mermaid was fun (only "just a little scary" was uttered once or twice). We all really loved the new Seven Dawrves Mine Train and managed to ride it a few times. We had to ride three people, which meant one of the kids was always by themselves. It became an ongoing joke about Leif's ride partner. One woman screamed and videotaped the entire time. Leif was annoyed. Another was the sweetest little old lady who thoroughly enjoyed herself, though was not the seat mate that Leif was expecting. And given the opportunity Skadi will always try to take the front seat and try to ride it by herself. She was thwarted. 


Best ride photo of AB and Skadi. 


The last ride - Skadi was holding on to her pride of not screaming on a single ride. I convinced her it was fun to scream your head off on rides. 

Love the little old lady next to Leif. 


Front seat - but not solo as she wanted. 


We did the Monster's Laugh Floor for Silas. Blah. Waste of time. Silas wasn't terribly interested. AB took Silas back to the hotel mid-day and me and the older two had fun. Space Mountain, Buzz Lightyear Adventure, etc. 


We all reconnected and did Pirate's, Splash Mountain (and the photo of me with the kids didn't come through, blah). AB wanted to do Space Mountain with the kids so we headed back that way. Teacups on the way. Then Silas saw it. HE COULD DRIVE A CAR!




Not sure about the teacups. 


Still not sure. But not screaming!


One of her favorites!





Silas' favorite. He was so excited to drive and about 20 second in the "Bang Bangs" started. Silas HATES fireworks. I am starting to wonder if he will ever like them, or forever have a fear. He was paralyzed and I had to lean over and drive us back while he sobbed in my lap. 


The castle is really a site to behold as it cycles through colors. 


We cracked up to find out Olaf had photo bombed us. (Christmas Card photo)


This was my favorite - loved that Silas was giving the thumbs up to the photographer. 

It was a late night, more so because I needed a Dole Pineapple Whip before leaving - at nearly 11pm. Tired kids. Back to the hotel to sleep. 

One more day... 

We slept. We were tired. The kids didn't get up immediately, our only constraint was our 10am FP for Soarin'. No problem. Figured we would get to Epcot, eat breakfast, have our day there and then get home early to pack and get on the plane early early the next day. Epcot is normally my and AB's favorite. Less so this time. The bus didn't come and didn't come and didn't come. I ended up MOVING our FP as we weren't going to make it. We stood and waited and waited. The intern kept saying "it's coming, it will be here in 3 minutes". He was wrong. We were starved starved when we got to Epcot finally. We hit Starbucks - not exactly the plan, but we were too hungry to find something else.


While we waited the kids found a lizard. It was entertainment at least. 
 
We went to the Nemo ride since we did make that FP. They had redone the exit and added aquariums since we were there last time. That would have been fun had we not lost Skadi. 20 mins, no idea where that child was. I finally contacted Disney staff and  they were all on the watch out for her. Finally, we found her, but after that I had a hard time enjoying the aquarium. 


This fish was staying put. Silas found a friend in him. "He says hi Silas." "He says I just sitting here." "He says I love you Silas!"


Leaving his friend. 



Spaceship Earth! So hokey - but a must do. 


We decided we were going to go to the left instead of the right entering the Countries Pavillion. Mexico here we come. Nachos and Skadi made a friend when she threw a chip in the water. 


A real NORWEGIAN sword!


Fell asleep. Dropped the sword. Mom back tracked and found a family carrying the sword that looked JUST like the one we lost. Knowing my son would be horrified and we would all suffer if he woke up without it, I went up to them and asked if they happened to have found that on the ground. Sword back and Silas was none the wiser. 


Skadi belly dancing at the Morrocan restaurant. 


So we paid extra for a dinner package to the Candlelight Ceremony hosted by Neil Patrick Harris. Really cool. I loved the music. We eeked through it with Silas. 

This ended our night and we headed back to the hotel. I stayed up and packed and at the crack of dawn the shuttle showed up to take us to the airport. I love Delta. I got to the Sky Miles calendar and he struggled to find us a better route home. But to no avail. Oh well. We flew home, Orlando, to LAX, to Salt Lake to home. 

The dogs missed us. It was good to be home. 

Now 3 months later and Leif is still begging to go back. Skadi is starting to speak fondly of the trip and isn't completely blinded to the whole trip by her less than happy experience on the cruise. We have recovered.