Sunday, December 27, 2009

Twelve Years Ago Today...

Today is my husband and mine 12 year anniversary. It seems so hard to believe that it has been 12 years since I walked down the aisle and married my WONDERFUL husband. To celebrate we went to dinner at the Rodizio Brazilian Grill in downtown Fort Collins. It was fun to have dinner without kids for a change. We just got to sit and eat, enjoy the food and the atmosphere. I am rather fond of meat, so this was a great choice. They bring skews after skews of meat to your table for you to try. They had glazed ham and bacon wrapped chicken and tenderloin. It was VERY TASTY!! I bit expensive, but we had saved and knew that going in. They also have a salad bar that had one of the best crab salads I've tasted. After dinner we went to Barnes and Noble (our favorite store) and wandered around (again without kids). We were able to actually look at books rather than just run in and out, as the kids get a little bored just looking a books, unless it to books for them of course ;).

The general manager came over to our table and asked how our meal was and told us happy anniversary, since we had mentioned it and they had given us a dessert of our choice at 1/2 price. He asked what the secret was to a good marriage and I really didn't have an answer for him. I thought about it after we left and I guess I would say patience and understanding, because you need this to get through all the ups and downs of life and to work through the differences you may have.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are enjoying some downtime after all the hustle and bustle of the season.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Day of Remembrance

This past week my brother-in-law's mother Donna Francis left this earth for a better place. Today was her funeral and unfortunately since it was in Florida my family and I were unable to attend. It brings to mind just how fragile life really is. Donna was diagnosed with cancer in July and battled bravely for many months. She was only 57 and we will miss her terribly.

My sister and brother-in-law have only been married for about 2 years so I was just getting to know Donna, but I could see that she was a devoted mother and wife. I'm sure she would have been a FABULOUS grandma and although she is not physically here I know she will be a wonderful guide to her future grandchildren, as she continues to be a guide to those she loved.

As I think about the time we spent together my mind is drawn to two specific instances. The first was a shopping spree with my mother, sister and Donna. My sister and mother are "power shoppers" and were busy shopping ‘til they dropped. At the time I was 9 1/2 months pregnant with my son. Shopping is not my favorite anyway, but I was especially not enthused about tons of shopping. I remember sitting in a particular shop as my sister tried on outfit after outfit. Donna sat with me and commented on the none stop shopping power both my mother and sister possessed. Then as we sat there I started to notice different items around the store. Pretty soon my mom and Donna were running around the store providing my sister with things I picked out from my seat in the middle of the store. It was a great memory I will cherish always.

The second memory would be at my house not long after my son was born. I took a moment to call Donna on my cell phone to thank her for the things she had sent for Blaine. We ended up for talking nearly 2 hours about kids and life in general. This is another memory I will always cherish.

As I said I hardly got to know Donna, but she was a gentle wonderful person who graciously welcomed my sister into their family. She loved everyone and had a gentle spirit. We will miss you Donna. God bless and keep you! May those who you loved, know that you are with them always even though they cannot see you.

God bless all of you this holiday season. May you enjoy the time with your family this holiday season.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

...And the Stocking Were Hung.....FINALLY!

Hello all! I am SO happy because all of my Christmas decorations are FINALLY up! The tree is decorated, the little village is up and all the associated little figurines, my nativity, and the outdoor lights (this one is all thanks to my dad). I am so happy I decided to take last Wednesday off while my parents were here. They helped me get it all up and it took no time at all!! The stockings and cookies are awaiting Santa's arrival!

I just LOVE Christmas, but I must admit that I have a little trouble getting in the mood until all of my decorations are up, and since that consists of about 20 medium size Tupperware containers, and five Christmas trees (three are small and require no decorations (not sure if they count)), this is no small task. But with help I was able to get it all done and we are no longer the Bah Humbug house on the block! Yippee!!

Well I must run, I have to finish up some last minute shopping. Hope all of you are enjoying the season!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Preparing for the Holidays - Steps Three, Four and Five

Hello my very wonderful followers! I'm back! :) I finished a few of those holiday musts. First I got all my Christmas cards mailed! YIPPEE!! This takes quite some time as I send nearly 80 cards and they all include a Christmas letter, photo, and the occasional special item for a few family members. I am also advocate for writing all the address on the card. There is something impersonal about printing the address on labels. I just can't do it. So they all got stuffed, addressed, stamps and return address labels affixed and mailed!!

I also finished all my Christmas shopping. I think!?!? I say I think because inevitably I forgot something or this is just one more thing we want to get for so and so. So YIPPEE, again.

Yesterday I spent all day in a baking extravaganza (about 300 cookies) for all the people in my office. It took so long that my husband actually took over and finished them for me, because my son was not happy unless mommy was holding him. This is fairly typical when I come back from a trip and have been gone for a week. I bagged them up 6 in a bag and added a candy cane for decoration! And with that all my coworkers have a little something from me for Christmas.

So I only have a few steps left:
1. Put up the Christmas decorations (intend to do this on Wednesday)
2. Deliver all gifts to teachers, and other special peeps we won't see on Christmas
3. Wrap all Christmas gifts
4. Frost the few extra cookies left from the baking extravaganza

I think that's it! I hope you all are doing well and I will try to continue to be more inspired and continue to post! I think I was just in a funk last week because I was away from home and stuck in a hotel for several days. I don't know about you all, but when I get stuck inside my mood just goes straight down. So I am feeling much better today and looking forward to Christmas! Happy Holidays to EVERYONE!!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Stuggling

I have to admit that I have been struggling writing my blog as of late. I have started about three or four blogs, but have ever published them. I am feeling very uninspired. I think some of that is due to stress in my life with the holidays coming and finances being tight. I hope to get back on the blogging train very soon. I hope you all can understand and will continue to follow me. Thanks to all of you! Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Holiday Frustration - Finding the Right Toy

First let me apologize for not posting in so long. I am not sure where all the days go, but they sure do go by quickly. I just had to post today to get out some frustration. This year our money to buy our kids Christmas was dependent upon if I got a Christmas bonus or not. Now it has been a tradition where I work, but with the economic downturn I wasn't so sure. I am very thankful for the fact that my company was generous enough to continue this tradition. So once it was direct deposited (today) I could start my Christmas shopping.

I headed out to the Toys R Us website to get the stuff I had planned on my Christmas spreadsheet. (I know who keeps a spreadsheet of their Christmas presents....nerds like me... that's who!) Anyway I started out and couldn't get my son's GeoTrax Grand Central Rail & Road System Station into the cart. I was finally successful and then went to find that the iCarly 9-in-1 Kit for Nintendo DS for my daughter was sold out. So I instead I replaced it with an iCarly CD player and iCarly CD and went to the check out. I completed the entire process and when I clicked the final button it informed me that the GeoTrax Grand Central Rail & Road System Station was no longer available and had been removed from my order and I would not be charged. My first thought was that is mighty nice of you not to charge me for something you are not going to send me! Then after the frustration subsided a bit I decided to look at other sites for the GeoTrax Grand Central Rail & Road System Station. Upon further investigation I found the only other site was Amazon.com and they had it at TWICE the price! What a racket!!

So I decided to reside myself to a similar, but different gift, the GeoTrax Transportation System Remote Control Timbertown Railway. I knew that this was at the Toys R Us store, so I went over my lunch break to the store. Before I left I noticed at Target.com that it appeared the same item was $10 less. So off to Toys R Us I went to see if by chance they had the Grand Central Rail & Road System Station in the store. Of course they didn't and I so I picked up the Timbertown Railway, but then I thought...$10 is $10, so I'll just run over to Target and get it. So I left Toys R Us empty handed and headed to Target. When I got to Target and found the toy department I discovered that they weren't the same after all. The one at Target was not remote control like the one at Toys R Us and the remote control was the whole reason for buying the GeoTrax and not another train in the first place. At this point I had wasted my ENTIRE lunch break and hadn't had a morsel to eat.

I got in the car, ran through McDonald's and headed back to my office. When I got back to my office I discovered they had given me the completely wrong sandwich!! UG!

Ok...I feel better now... venting done. Thanks for listening. I am still on a quest for the GeoTrax and will wait to see if Toys R Us gets it back in stock. Hope all your holiday endeavors are working out as planned!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Poor Teacher Part III

As I mentioned last Friday we had a meeting with the principal about moving our daughter into a new 1st grade classroom based on the incompetence of her current teacher. Well after a bit of a lashing about how it was our entire fault that he had to move her to a new classroom, he agreed to and our daughter started the new classroom on Monday.

I cannot express in words the difference we have already seen. For starters the new teacher ripped out a BUNCH of pages in our daughter's workbook. Apparently the other teacher had them do the pages, but he NEVER looked them over to see if they were done or if they did them correctly. In her class she walks around the classroom to make sure that they are doing the work correctly.

The new teacher also reads with during class. So our daughter gets reading time in her reading group and with her teacher. The new teacher also sends home additional activities to do with the books she reads. For example, she sent home a sheet where they write five facts about the non-fiction book they read.

I could go on and on, but I must get to bed because I am falling asleep writing this post. In the end we are so THANKFUL that she is moved and in a class that will challenge her and make her enjoy school so much more. I guess if they have painted us the "bad" parents we can take it as long as our daughter is getting what she needs out of school.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Disappointment

I must confess I've been keeping a secret from my blog followers. For about the past month my husband has been going through the process of becoming a police officer in our local community. He got past the application process, which was not small feat since nearly 500 applied and they only passed about 100 through to the testing process. He then passed the test and was moved on to what they call the board interview. Today was his board interview and he did not make it past this round. We are all VERY disappointed.

However, with our disappointment comes a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel. The gentlemen who were on the board told my husband that he would be a good police officer he was intelligent, and had the necessary attributes, but he just needed a better understanding of what a police officer does. They suggested he go on ride alongs with the local police department. So he is working on scheduling a ride along and learning more about the day to day activities of a police officer.

We are really hopeful that he can get this experience and that they will repost the police officer position in about 6 months. Please keep your fingers crossed that he is able to try again in the near future.

Hope you all are having a good week! God bless!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Preparing for the Holidays.....Step Two: THE Christmas Card

A few weeks ago I began to prepare for Christmas by having the annual family picture taken. Now I have completed step two, I have designed, ordered and received this year's Christmas card. I say "THE" Christmas card, because over the last several years I have taken it upon myself to design out Christmas card. The keys have been to include not only a picture of the family, but also pictures of all our animals. This is a big challenging as we a number of animals to include.

For the past 2 years I have done the traditional 4x8 photo card, but this year I decided to tackle the 5x7 Christmas card. This card included designing the front and the inside. It was a lot of work, but in the end I really liked the final product. I received them in the mail last week and they look great! I got they printed using VistaPrint. (BTW I have not been asked by VistaPrint to endorse they products and I am not being paid to do so.) I love VistaPrint! I always get great quality at a reasonable price.

With the Christmas cards here, I have "spruced up" my Excel list with all the addresses for the people who have received cards, I have ordered and received postage, I have ordered new return address labels (should be her tomorrow) and I have purchased a new pen for writing all the address. The only thing left to complete this year’s cards are wallet size photos of the kids to a few family members, business size card magnets with 2010 calendars and pictures of the kids for immediate family, and the ever popular and desired Canfield Chronicles Christmas Letter that was established in 1998.

I can hardly believe that Christmas is only 5 weeks away, but I am one step closer to being ready. Hope all of your holiday preparations are going well!

Friday, November 13, 2009

My Daughter Moves on Geologic Time

I am not sure if this is all 1st graders or if it is just my daughter, but she just moves SO slow. When you ask her to walk quickly it looks more like a saunter and when you say "Hurry!" she says, "I am!" I have tried getting her up earlier so that we don't have to rush, but she seems to take up every available minute regardless of how early I get her up.

I have put a clock in her bathroom to help her with time. I thought that if I told her you need to be out of the shower by this time and have your clothes on by this time that she maybe could meet those times. Well I was wrong. I put her in the shower and gave her 15 minutes to complete her shower. When I came back in to check on her 20 minutes later she said, "Mom the clock moves faster than I do."

I try to encourage her along and give her ample time to do things, but she is just slow. Does anyone else have kids like this? What has been your solution? I am looking for some help here. Thanks and have a great weekend!

P.S. As a follow up to the Poor Teacher posts, we are meeting with the principal today to hopefully move my daughter.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Poor Teacher Part II

So I am sorry, but I must rant some more about the process my husband and I have been going through trying to move our daughter into another 1st grade classroom. After our discussion with the principal, he required a meeting with the teacher. So we agreed to it. Last week we met with the teacher and the principal. In this meeting the teacher:

  1. Admitted he didn't know how the other teachers were managing to fit art into their days and also did not know how they were integrating their classrooms. The new rules the district had placed on him made it so he could no longer include these things.
    ACTION PLAN: Talk to the other teachers to basically learn how to teach 1st grade.
  2. We stated that our plan was to remove our daughter from his class, to which he replied "If you are going to be riding my back all year, then you might as well move her now."
  3. Finally, he changed his story about the incident with our daughter and missing reading group. Our daughter has always maintained that he physically pulled her out of line. When I confronted her teacher the following day he said he didn't pull her out of line he talked to her at her desk. Then when we brought up the event at the meeting he stated that he did ask her to come out of line and over to where he was standing. What kind of teacher lies about these types of events? And if he is willing to lie about this, what else is he lying about or not telling?

The meeting took an hour and 30 minutes. When we were finished my husband was FURIOUS. We proceeded to write the principal an email stating we wanted our daughter moved as soon as possible. We are awaiting the result.

In summary, I am shocked that there are teachers out there just riding the wave, waiting for retirement. This teacher is just doing the bare minimum and calling it good enough. I am mostly sorry for the kids that will suffer because their parents trust the teacher to provide their student with a good education. Unfortunately, in the world today and I venture to guess always, parents must be vigilant in ensuring that their child is receiving a quality education.

I hope you all are having a great week. I will let you know if we succeed in moving our daughter.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Mental Wellness

As I write this post I am gathering as much information as I can about the shooting at Fort Hood and I am doing so with tears in my eyes. My brother-in-law is stationed at Fort Hood and to my knowledge he is OK and has not been injured in this incident. We are very thankful for that.

However, I am sickened by the entire event. I am shocked that soldiers could shoot soldiers. Why would someone begin shooting soldiers that were getting ready to deploy at the readiness facility? This is a truly tragic event. So many lives have been tragically changed.

Being a resident of Colorado and at the time attending the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, I was very near to the tragic events of Columbine High School. This event brings back awful memories of that day and the poor families and children who were forever affected.

I am not sure of the motive behind the shooting today at Fort Hood, but it brings to mind a topic that I think is very important and that is the topic of mental wellness. Very often we are harped upon by friends and family to lose that weight or exercise or go to the doctor to get our heart/liver/etc. tested. However, there isn't any way encouraging us or making sure we are staying well mentally. We all stay home when we are sick, but I am a proponent of taking "mental health days". Sometimes we are just not at the top of our mental game, so take some time for yourself. If you wanted to take a painting class, find out where you can take it and do it. I think us as mom's especially feel guilty when we really desire something for ourselves that has nothing to do our family. I know that I personally struggle with this. I have always wanted to do oil paintings, because it is something my grandma did. About a year ago, I found a Bob Ross class. The class was one whole day and when you were done, you had your very own masterpiece. I decided to do it and took the whole day for me. It was very refreshing and made me a more enjoyable person to be around. It just let me relax and enjoy my day without my kids or husband. I want to say that you are NOT a bad mom for wanting to do something for you, by yourself. Please be aware of your mental wellness. If you need to go and talk to your doctor. Believe me you are not the only one and you are not the first. Mental wellness is just as important as physical wellness. Take the time to check and make sure you are feeling well mentally.

I would like to request that all of my followers say a prayer for all of those who are affected by this shooting.

To those of you affected...I am so sorry for all of you! My God Bless and keep you! You are in my thoughts and my prayers.

Monday, November 2, 2009

What Do You Do With a Poor Teacher?

Since the beginning of the year my husband and I have had misgivings about my daughter's teacher. To begin with on the second day of school he had the students come home and beat on their chests while spelling the word "the". When we asked Makayla why she was doing this she could not explain the purpose of beating her chest and to top it off she was hitting herself so hard she was getting hurt. The next day he proceeded to ask the students which of the parents thought he was crazy. Makayla raised her hand because we thought that the act was rather strange and we could not figure out the point. When she told us he asked the class that, we were quite upset and thought this an odd line of questioning for 6 year-olds.


For this next bit I need to provide some additional information. For her class, the teacher uses green, yellow, and red cards to indicate how the students are behaving. If they have one small infraction, like talking too much they have to change their card to yellow and if they continue then they change their card to red. When we saw this, we thought it was probably quite useful for disciplining students. However, when Makayla came home and told us that if the students had to go to the bathroom during class time they were instructed to turn their cards straight to red, regardless of if they were on green or yellow. Along with a red card you also get 5 minutes on the wall during recess. We did not like the idea of students being punished for using the restroom. I can understand that there may be students that abuse bathroom privileges, but you cannot determine that on the first day of school.


The final straw for me was when we went to reading night at the school. This is an event that you sign up for so that the teachers are aware of which parents are coming. The idea is to allow students and parents to work together in the classroom a few nights a year. I love the idea and we signed up. When we got to Makayla's classroom her teacher proceeded to tell us that he did not know what level Makayla was reading at. Please note that Makayla goes with a Para professional for reading because she is a bit higher than other students in her class, so her teacher is not directly working with her daily on reading. However, if I were the teacher, I would have contacted her reading teacher knowing that we would be there to find out where she was at. Because he did not know her level, I found the contact information for the Para professional she reads with and contact her to find out her level, so that we can get appropriate reading material. She happily provided the necessary information.


The following Monday finished off my patients. Makayla did not go to reading group because her cue all year to go to reading group was when kids showed up at the door to get her. On this particular day no one came to get her and she assumed that she did not have reading. After afternoon recess, her teacher pulled her out of line (physically by the arm) and asked why she missed reading group. When Makayla said she thought she didn't have it because no one showed up he told her it was just like missing the whole day of school because she didn't go to reading group. When Makayla got home she told her dad she "had done something AWFUL!", and told him the whole story. The next day I went into the school and spoke with her teacher and he just couldn't understand why I was so upset because she wasn't in trouble. I know she wasn't in trouble, but she thought she was and that was why I was so upset. It was his responsibility to make sure that she got to reading group. She is just learning time and does not know how to read a clock yet.

In addition to the incidents above there is no art or student work in the classroom or displayed on the hallway bulletins. This was terribly upsetting to Makayla on reading night, as she had nothing to show us and many of her friends were showing off their work. It was so upsetting to her that she commented she didn't want to go to school the next morning because of it. Please note that my husband and I didn't make a big deal out of it, so as to encourage her behavior of not wanting to go to school and being upset.

With all of this, my husband and I decided to go to the principal and advocate for Makayla being moved from the classroom. It appears to us that his teaching style and classroom structure will not work with the things Makayla needs. We have had the initial meeting and go this Friday to meet with the principal and the teacher.

I am hopeful that we can move her into another class. I know some of you may think that I am being a bit over the top here, but I know that Makayla is not getting what she needs to be prepared for 2nd grade and I feel it is my responsibility as her parent to make sure that happens, even if I have to "stir things up" at school.

Hope you all are having a good week!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Oh...How I Love to Travel

In case you hadn't heard Colorado is getting a HUGE snow storm that will last Wednesday and Thursday. My home town is expected to get between 12 and 24 inches of snow. Needless to say I was not sure if I would be able to leave for my meeting in Atlanta. When the flight still showed "on-time" this morning, I packed my bags and began the SLOW drive to the airport.

As I watched the time pass by as I drive ever slowly I wondered if I would make it. When I got on the road that takes you into the airport it showed that the garages were full, which meant I had to park outside in economy. Then it took FOREVER just to find a space. I think the economy lot was nearly full as well. As I got out of the car, I saw the shuttle that takes you up to the main building. I quickly grabbed my suitcase and ran through snow and wind to get to the shuttle before he left. As I was running and just before I got the bus, I thought "Did I lock the car?". Well since I couldn’t' got back, I am just hoping I did.

Once the shuttle dropped me off at the main building, I ran to the ticket counter to check in. Once I checked in I was informed by the Kiosk that my flight was delayed 40 minutes. So all the hurry for nothing! After waiting to board the plane we were told that there was a line for the deicing process and we would need to wait 20 to 30 minutes before we could even push away from the gate. We finally pushed away after a 30 minute wait, but then we waited at least another hour before we actually took off. I guess the best part was I kept falling asleep, probably because of the Dramamine I have to take to fly. So the time past quite quickly for me!

Because of all this delay I did not make it to Atlanta in time to set up my table for the meeting and now I must get up extra early to get over to the facility to set up. I hope that it won't take me long to set up.

I just love traveling, especially with weather. You never know what is going to happen and so you are just along for the ride. I hope when I fly home on Friday that the trip is less eventful.

As a side note, I got the book "The Shack" in the airport, because I forgot to bring my book in my haste to leave for the airport. I will write a review of this book when I finish.

If you are in Colorado I hope that you are safe and dry at home. For the rest of you I hope you had a GREAT Wednesday.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Happy Halloween! (Early)



For Mindless Monday I wanted to share a photo of my little Frankenstein and Pioneer girl. They had a great time at 2 safe trick or treats this week. Hope you all have a safe week!

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'm not a baby anymore....

This morning I was helping my 6-year old daughter get dressed as we were in a hurry. She is a bit of a slow poke and so if we want it done quickly we have to help her. She has school pictures today, so we had chosen a green striped turtleneck sweater for her to wear. As I pulled the sweater over her head I said, "Where's Makayla?" and then when her face appeared I said "There she is." She quickly replied, "Mom, I have not a baby anymore. That is something you say to babies."

I was shocked and even though I realized she is 6-years old, I didn't expect that kind of response from her. To be honest I almost cried. She is growing up so fast. This morning I looked at some older pictures of her. What a cutie she is (not that I am biased). As I took a walk down memory lane I found pictures of her taking pony riding lessons 2 summers ago. She had a great time. I took lunch early so she and I could do it together. We got to brush, saddle, and ride the ponies. She was just going into Kindergarten then. How much she has changed. Not only in how she looks, but in the things she says. I catch myself laughing sometimes as she tries to use the "big words" and sometimes doesn't use them quite correctly.

I must admit I miss my baby. Even though my son is only 20 months only, he really isn't even a baby anymore. I guess I will have to take joy in cuddling other people's babies. This means getting over my fear of holding other people’s babies. I know you may think that sounds strange as I have had two babies myself, but I am afraid I will somehow hurt someone else's baby. It is kind of a paralyzing fear and prevents me from holding any children under the age of about 6 months. So in order for me to enjoy little ones again, I will have to "conquer" this fear.

My babies are growing up! Every stage in their life is a joy, but there are days I miss just being able to hold them in silence and enjoy the peace that surrounded us.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Casa Loma - Toronto, ON Canada

So I'm brining back Travelin' Thursday and this time I'd like to highlight a BEAUTIFUL castle located in the heart of Toronto, Casa Loma. This one of a kind castle was built at the beginning of the 1900's by a wealthy businessman. It has a wonderful story and because of the bad business dealings was never finished. Make sure to plan plenty of time to see the entire facility (at least 4 hours) and the audio tour is a MUST.


The property includes the castle itself, 5 acres of gardens, a stable, carriage house, green house, and potting room. The audio tour takes you through the entire residence, through tunnels and outside in the gardens. The story behind this home is fastinating a real riches to rags story of love, life and the whole darn mess. The castle was constructed over 3 years with nearly 300 workers. Be sure to stop by and view the 10-15 minute video presentation before beginning your tour. It provides background on the gentleman that build the home and the construction details.


I have included several pictures below that I took while visiting the castle. I have been there twice and it was fabulous both times. A place the enitre family can enjoy. It does include an onsite cafe with adequate food and drink. If you are in or around Toronoto this is a MUST see.


Here is the link for the Casa Loma website. http://www.casaloma.org/Visitor/









Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Why I Have the Greatest Husband in the World (and yes I am biased)


I have had a rough couple of days. I've been a bit depressed. When I get in this mind set I like to try and think of all the wonderful things I have. One of those wonderful things is my husband of nearly 12 years. So, today I'd like to provide a list about why I have the greatest husband in the world. So here goes a short list.

1. He cooks ALL meals!
2. He is a stay at home dad that has to balance working with his dad and taking care of our two kids.
3. He keeps the house running while I am traveling on business.
4. He puts up with my need for LOTS of animals.
5. He loves me even when I'm cranky.
6. He brings me flowers to try and cheer me up.
7. He does the laundry and although it is my job to fold it, even folds it sometimes when the kids only want mommy.
8. He keeps me balanced when I (occasionally and I'm not saying that I do) overreact.
9. He can always make me smile when I'm grumpy.
10. He is the best father to my kids.
11. He vacuums the house.

This is just a short list, and I'm biased, but I believe I have the best husband anyone could ever have! I'm sure you all have some "keepers" too, so I hope this post makes you think about all the wonderful things your special someone does for you. Have a great Wednesday.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Special Time

Over the past several days I have had the pleasure of spending special time with my husband and my daughter.

Today was a GREAT day! My daughter and I had time with just the two of us. We went to a local pottery painting shop and each picked a piece to paint. My daughter painted a little bunny and I painted my son a blue and brown checked piggy bank. I will post pictures when I get them back.

It was so nice for just the two of us to do something together. I think we need to do this more often as lately I think my daughter feels like her little brother is getting extra attention. In fact I have already scheduled our mother/daughter time for the month of November. We are going to see The Lord of the Dance. She is very excited about this as she and I take clogging lessons. We are planning a full evening including dressing up! While dressing up is not my thing, it is my daughter's thing and for her we will do it together.

Last Thursday, my husband and I went to the movies, for the first time since I can't remember. (Oh wait I do remember, we went to the opening of the last Harry Potter movie that came out.) We went to see Couples Retreat. That was a GREAT movie and I would recommend it to everyone. It was hilarious and a real “feel good” show. It was very true to life and that just made it even better. If you are married with kids you will find this show hilarious as the interaction with the children is classic.

Just as with my daughter, my husband and I have got to reinstate date night. Our goal will be to have date night once a month. I think that is very realistic and with our hectic daily lives this will be very helpful for our relationship. We bowl together on Friday night and my in-laws watch our kids, so it is a mini date night every Friday night.

I am a firm believer in date nights, especially for those of us with kids. Kids require much of our attention and sometimes our spouses get left out unintentionally. I hope everyone can take a little time with their special someone away from your children to just enjoy each other. Even if all you do is have the children watched while you take a walk together. It's not how much you spend on your time together, but the time together that counts!

I hope you all had a great weekend.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Why Can't I Find Time to Exercise

Like most moms I have been trying to lose 15 lbs for about well I guess 14 months now. I say that because my son is now 20 months old and it takes at least 6 months for me to get to a "normal" weight again. What it boils down to is I need to exercise. Not just to lose weight, but to be healthy for my kids. My biggest problem is finding the time.

It is amazing to me that exercise and taking care of me always seems to fall to the bottom of the list. I find time to reorganize my daughter's clothes moving summer clothes to the Tupperware containers and winter clothes onto hangers. I have time to watch my favorite program on TV. I have time to do all sorts of things, but no exercise.

I keep telling myself that the best and only time is EARLY in the morning. As an FYI, I am NOT (I repeat NOT) a morning person. But I only need to get up about 40 minutes early for a 30 minute workout. I have even TiVo'd a number of workout programs off of FIT TV. And yet, I have not even watched/done one of them.

I thought well maybe I just can't get up. We always go to bed so late. However I proved that theory wrong on Monday. I had forgotten to buy a microphone of a WebEx we were giving at promptly at 8. So my task was to get up and ready, get to Wal-Mart, get back home, and get my daughter up, ready and on the bus. In order to accomplish this I had to be up by 4:30 am. And guess what, I was. I got up and did it all. So why can't I do this to work out. Apparently, work and sleep come before working out. I think I need to try and reorganize my priorities a bit. If I can get up really early just to get something for work, I can get up really early to exercise.

My mission, whether I chose to accept it or not, is to exercise 3 -4 days a week in the morning. I intend to start tomorrow. Wish me luck!

P.S. Thanks to my new followers for reading my blog!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Watching the Snow


For mindless Monday I wanted to share a picture I actually took last February, but I just love it and since it snowed over 6"inches here over the weekend I thought it appropriate. Here are my daughter and son watching the snow fall! I think this is just a precious picture! Hope you all had a GREAT Monday!


Thanks again to all my new followers! You all are WONDERFUL!


Friday, October 9, 2009

It's Confession Time - I'm NO Chef

First I'd like to say "HI" to all my new followers. Thank you so much for following my blog!!

So I must confess that I cannot cook. I often think to myself what kind of mom can't cook, and occasionally I feel bad about this. If it weren't for my husband I think my kids and I would have to live on cereal. So people say, oh you can cook, you just don't try. Well let me tell you a little story about my first beef stew.

My husband and I had been married maybe a month and I decided I would be the perfect wife and make a stew that would be ready when he got back from choir practice. So I pulled out the cookbook. (A good place to start, right?) It called for stew meat, which we had. So I pulled it from the freezer, and thawed it a bit in the micro and then floured it and placed the meat in the bottom of the stew pot to cook.

I then looked at the rest of the recipe, and I was missing a few things. I did not have any potatoes, but I did have a can of peas. So I would substitute peas for potatoes. Perfect! Next item: carrots. Again, no carrots, but I did have a can of corn. So another substitution corn for carrots. This is going rather well I thought. Finally it called for green beans, which I did have. Whew! No substitution needed. Moving on...beef bouillon, got it....Worcestershire, got it. Finally I came to something I had not heard of "3 cups of vegetable juice". I must admit I still don't know where you find that in the store and I most certainly didn't have any on hand. What to substitute? Well I had 3 canned veggies, each with juice in the can, so I'd just add in 1 cup of each veggie juice. Problem solved!

So I did just as I described and when Chad got home I had my "delicious" stew all ready to eat. God bless my husband for eating an entire bowl. I thought it was pretty good, but I'm sure that's because I made it. I distinctly remember saying we should save the leftovers for another time, and then Chad making up some reason as to why we would not finish it time and it didn't make sense to do that. That is the kind way of saying, "That is the most awful thing I have ever tasted."

Needless to say that was pretty much the first and last time I ever made any meal with the exception of cereal or eggs or something that can be prepared in the microwave for my husband or family.

In fact, about 2 years ago my daughter go VERY scared when I took out a pan and began to brown some meat. My husband was on his way home and he was going to make his chili when he got there, so he asked me to brown the meat for him. As I got out a pan and the meat, my daughter's eyes got REALLY big and she said "Mom do you know what you are doing?" When I reassured her that is was OK, she then proceeded to say "Have you talked to dad? Does he know what you are doing? Did he tell you what to do?" Nothing like giving me a boost in confidence. LOL.

So there you have it. I feel so much better now that I have confessed my inadequacies in the kitchen. Hope you all have a great weekend, and cook something good for me!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

To stay or not to stay...that is the quesiton



I know I said that I was done blogging about WDW, well I was wrong. I got to thinking that aside from the actual parks there are additional considerations to be made and that was the source of today's blog, whether or not to stay on the WDW property. I have actually done both. For our honeymoon we stayed on WDW resort and for this last family vacation we stayed off the resort.

Let's start with staying on the WDW property. This is a GREAT option with several benefits. First of all, you can get all of your transportation needs taken care of, which is the primary reason my husband and I chose to stay there. We were married at 19, so we were too young to rent a car. A WDW van picked us up from the airport, we rode the WDW busses to all the property locations during the week, and a WDW van took us back to the airport when it was time to leave. This is a very big perk, because you don't have to try and find parking at the park and at the end of the day you typically don't have to walk to far to the bus stop.

In addition to transportation, WDW gives those staying on the property extra hours and benefits at all the parks. This can be nice, especially with little ones. You can hop on the bus back to the hotel for a while and then back to the park for some extra hours! Perfect for little guys who run out of steam. The parks also open earlier for guests staying on the property, so if you have an early bird you can go and enjoy the park before others can get in. This brings me to another perk for staying in the park, location, location, location. By being close to everything it does not take long to get back to your hotel and then back to the park. I find this especially useful with little ones. As I said they will probably need a break and they can get some good rest back at your hotel instead of a quick nap in a stroller. Since your hotel is so close and you don't have to drive and park and drive and park, this is a real time and life saver.

So what is the down side, I'd say cost. That was the sole reason we did not stay on the resort when we went on our family vacation last December. We could not make the math work out.

Let's look at staying off the WDW property. When we went last December we stayed at the Nickelodeon Hotel. The reason we chose this hotel was twofold. First, we got a GREAT deal on Travelocity and second my kids LOVE all things Nick, so it was a perfect fit. Although we had to rent a car to get around, this worked out great for us because it enabled us to see other Orlando attractions, in particularly NASA. One of our main objectives outside of WDW while we were in Orlando was to visit NASA and staying off the property with our own car enabled us to do that.

I would say another perk to staying off the WDW property would be to experience something other than Disney while you are there. Like I said my kids LOVE Nick, so we did a character breakfast with all their Nick favorites on our last day.

If I was to choose and money was not a factor, I would definitely stay on the WDW property. You just can't beat the added convenience or perks you get for staying there.

Below are a few links with some additional advice on this topic.
http://travelwithkids.about.com/od/disneyworld/ss/wdwwherestay.htm
http://www.solarius.com/dvp/wdw/onsite.htm
http://www.articlesbase.com/hotels-articles/seven-benefits-to-stay-at-a-walt-disney-world-hotel-930217.html#
http://disneyworldforum.disney.go.com/questions.aspx?sort=&page=&qid=57688&pid=80&cid=81

I hope you found this post helpful!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Preparing for the Holidays....Step One: Family Pictures

This past weekend we had the annual family picture taken. I am sure most of you moms are familiar with the event. You go clothes searching for three or four months to find the perfect set of clothes that all match and come in the appropriate sizes. Then you fret and worry about how to get everyone ready and how make sure the little ones have been napped and fed appropriately so they are happy at the time of the appointment.

For this year we decided on dark green, brown, and oatmeal for the colors. Then I decided it would be fun to put my daughter’s hair in sponge rollers so she had curly hair for the pics. Finally we had planned to have our pictures taken outside because in Colorado we have such beautiful fall colors. So the clothes and the hair worked out perfectly, but the weather did not cooperate. When I awoke Sunday morning is was cloudy and drizzly and the grayness stretched from north to south and east to west. PANIC!!! Where to take the pictures now? Luckily my mother-in-law's office has a nice waiting area with a fireplace, so we decided to go there.

Once inside and with adequate lighting we began to shoot pictures. The only problem now as my 20 month old son, even though he was appropriately napped and fed, he decided that he was NOT having his picture taken and he was "afraid" of the photographer. So we worked with him and in the end we got some good shots. And so I say "YEAH! The family pictures are done!!!".

I'm not exactly sure why I put myself through this every year? Is it just for those Christmas cards I send to everyone and their brother to show them my WONDERFUL family? Yes, I think that is it. LOL. I love sending out those cards!

So, on the long list of things to do to prepare for the holidays I have one check mark. Family pictures....CHECK!

Monday, October 5, 2009

My Little Pony



Today I had to post a picture of my "little" pony, because all I want to do today is go out to the barn and brush and groom her. Magic is small for a horse. She is only a little over 14 hands, but her "mareish" attitude makes up for her small size. Magic is a beautiful black and white paint. She is about 7 years old. All my life I have loved horses and having her is the fulfillment of one of the items on my bucket list.


Have a wonderful week! Enjoy the fall weather!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Where Did We Go So Wrong?

I am totally befuddled (not sure on that spelling). My 6-year old stole money from her Grandpa's truck last night so she could buy some books at the school library sale. I was totally mortified and wondered where I have gone so wrong in raising her. How could my child ever steal? Did we tell her that was the wrong thing to do? I think I have totally failed as a parent and she is only 6!

Only the "bad" kids steal right? Only the ones whose parents don't care a lick? But we do care and we do want her to be good. We try so hard to make sure she says Please and Thank you and is kind to others. We make sure she does her homework and read with her every night. So where did we go wrong? Why when she knew where the money was did she say, "Grandpa won't care. Just take some." She admitted she knew it was wrong and did it anyway. I suppose that is what is most upsetting is that she didn't care it was wrong. I am SO upset I just don't know what else to say.

To punish her we are not allowing her to watch TV for 1 week and for two of her recesses at school today she had to stay inside and think about what she did wrong. I sure hope this works. I am still so upset that she even thought about this in the first place. Is there anyone out there who has had a child do something like this? I need some reassurance that I'm not the worst mom in the world, or maybe some confirmation that I am.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Why Marriage is Work

I am simply amazed at the divorce rate in this country. I am not sure what is happening, but I think it is the simple fact that no one tells you that marriage is work. I have been married for nearly 12 years, and while we have had some wonderful times, neither my husband nor I are perfect and it has taken a good bit of work on both our parts to make this marriage work.

I feel like in this day of instant satisfaction we expect that in every aspect of our lives including from our spouse. When the "new" wears off we just get rid of it. Right? With your cell phone company you only have to keep that phone for 2 years and then you can trade it in on a brand new fancy one. When you want information, you go out to the internet and get it NOW. And so it goes instant gratification.

Well I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but when the "new" of being married wears off the work begins. (I have to jump on my soap box now.) When you and your spouse looked at each other you said "For better or for worse". It is the "for worse" part I think that gets lost. Life is ever changing and while at this moment in time it may seem like the worse is only getting worse and things just won't get better, in reality they will. I have found that it is the worse times that make the better times even sweeter. On your wedding day you made a promise to your spouse that no matter what you'd be there for them and they would be there for you. A promise! What does that mean these days? I guess not much since about 50% of the population is divorced. I'd like to see us go back to a time when a promise meant something and people genuinely work on making their marriages last. You promise to make your mortgage payments, to stay with your cell phone carrier for so many years, and all other types of promises that you keep because they are tied to your credit score or will cost extra if you break that promise. What about breaking someone? What does that cost? I believe that cost is more than can be fathomed and is something to truly consider if you are thinking about breaking your promise.

I know that some couples just can't make it. Maybe they have tried and it is just not going to work for them. To these people I'd like to say, there was something that brought you together in the first place. Try to go back to that and figure out why you even wanted to be together. If this was only a physical attraction, then you may not be able to save your relationship, as I believe that a relationship only based on physical attraction is on shaky ground to begin with. However, there was probably something you had in common or you always make each other laugh or one of you can see the sunshine in all things which balances the gloom and doom of the other person. Try hard to think of why and then look at where you are today. Try to rekindle what brought you together in the first place.

Keep in mind that most problems are only temporary and while they may seem like a mountain today, they are probably a mole hill in the grand scheme of life.

I empathize with those of you whom just could not make it work. I realize sometimes you get married and either you change or you never discussed the important life goals before getting married and the paths you and your partner are on or want to be on are just too far apart to ever make it work.

For those of you in the grey area, remember it is WORK. Love will only get you so far and then you must put your shoulder to the grind stone and work. I believe love holds you together, but work keeps you together. (I'm now off my soap box.)

I wish all of you the best in all of your relationships! God bless and good luck!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I'd Like to Dig a Hole

Today is a day I'd just like to dig a hole and lie in it. I got up extra early today so we could go to school to look for my daughter's book bag. For your information my daughter has a nightly "book bag" that she brings home with her books to read for that evening. It also includes a sign off sheet which we sign and send back the next day to prove she did her nightly reading. When Makayla came home yesterday her books were not in her usual bag. When I asked why, she said it was because she didn't have it. SO we searched the house high and low and uncovered nothing. As I began to think about it I realized it was NOT in her backpack on Friday. So I assumed it must be at school (the reason for getting up early).

Even though I got out of bed 40 minutes before I usually do and got Makayla up 40 minutes before her usual time, we were still late out the door. I went in the school with her and we looked all over to no avail. Then I had to talk to her teacher, who informed me it was no big deal! Which it really isn't, but he had told Makayla her card in class would be changed to yellow if she did not bring it back. (In her class they have green/yellow/red cards to indicate how they are following the rules and behaving. Every day the kids start on green. I'm sure you see where it goes from there.)

So because I had to take the time with the book bag I was about 5 minutes late to work and of course there was a 8:00 am teleconference I had to be on and of course my boss was sitting right there giving me the evil eye and looking at the clock as I walked into the meeting and sat down. AH!!!

He never sees the good stuff I do. Only when I'm late or screw something up. It just gets OLD! I am sure you all have had the same experiences in your life and today I'm just frustrated with all things work related!

I hope all of your days are going better! If you are somewhere warm, get out and enjoy some sunshine! :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

Casa Loma Flowers

For mindless Monday I thought I would share some pictures I took of some flowers at Casa Loma in Toronto, ON Canada. This is a beautiful place and a must visit. Maybe I should highlight this location for Travelin' Thursday? Enjoy and have a great week!








Thursday, September 24, 2009

Disney Hollywood Studios (Walt Disney World)



Our final park is Disney Hollywood Studios. When we visited this park we were focused on riding the two key rides, Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller coaster. Consequently we missed out on some of the other attractions at this park. I will write about what we and visited and I will also highlight some of the things we missed.

To start we talked this park counter clockwise, because of the location of the Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller coaster. Both of these rides had fairly short lines upon arrival, so we got in line and once we were done with the ride we went and got Fast Passes for later in the day.

I'll start with the Rock 'n' Roller coaster. This is the BEST roller coaster in the Disney Park. You are catapulted through a loop and several spirals in the dark as you listen to Aerosmith. During the development of this ride the engineers worked tirelessly putting the music to the ride. They did a FABULOUS job and this ride definitely ROCKS!!

Next we went on the Tower of Terror, which my husband and I remembered from our visit to the Disney Park on our honeymoon. This ride is lots of fun and provides a nice story line as you get on the ride. The theme here is an elevator hit by lightning that crashes to the bottom of its shaft. You then get into your own elevator and are dropped down, then raised back up and then dropped again. This is a great thrill ride.

Note: Both Rock 'n' Roller coaster and Tower of Terror have height requirements.

After we finished these rides we went over to the Animation Courtyard. Here we participated in the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. This was great, because it includes a session where you work with a cartoonist to draw your own Disney character. The day we went the character was Jimmie Cricket. We spent a really long time at this attraction because we were fascinated with Walt Disney and the way the pictures are made. The attraction ends in a store (as most attractions do), but this one is particularly unique as there is an artist drawing in the store and they will draw a picture and personalize for you (for a fee of course). We thought this was a great souvenir and had one make for our daughter and one to commemorate our anniversary.

After we finished at the Animation Courtyard, we headed over to the Lights, Motors, Action! Stunt Show, because it was the last show of the day and this was a must see on our list. The show was very entertaining and showed some "movie magic" especially when cars are involved. I would highly recommend that you make sure not to miss this attraction.

Star Tours - The Ultimate Star Wars Thrill Ride was a fun ride. You are your own little compartment in which a crazy droid is in the cock pit. You have a number of near misses and make a wrong turn into a combat zone. This is fun for all, especially those Star Wars fans and kids!


To be honest that is about all we did a Disney Hollywood Studios. We went back and rode the Tower of Terror and Rock 'n' Roller coaster another time, and then the park was closing. We missed the following attractions and that was OK because we got to see what we wanted, and we just ran out of time. My suggestion would be to plan 2 days at this park and as always prioritize so that you can get in what you want to see.

The Backlot Tour is something that my husband and I took on our honeymoon trip in 1998. This was a lot of fun as it showed some of the houses that were used in a variety of sitcoms and also showed some "movie magic". This is a fun attraction and definitely worth the time.

Jim Henson's Muppet Vision 3-D is a 3-D movie show. I have not seen this show, but I'm sure that it is quite entertaining. I'm sure it is a must for all Muppet fans.

Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular is another stunt show with limited number of showings. If you want to see this make sure you plan! You will need to be in line early in order to get a good seat. As is indicated by the title it is based on the Indiana Jones movies with explosions and many stunts.

Sounds Dangerous with Drew Carey is a show that is done in the dark, which was our main reason for not going as we thought our daughter might be scared. It is my understanding that you are in the dark and you hear a number of different "scary" sounds.

Fantasmic! is the nightly show at Disney Hollywood Studios. We heard that it could be scary for small children and since we had two small children, we opted out. However, this looks like a WONDERFUL show! The lasers, lights, music and animation look spectacular. So if you are traveling with older children on just adults I would not miss this. It is my understanding that the line begins to form quite early for this show, so you may want to delegate someone to stand in line and get seats. The theater opens 90 minutes before the show, and they recommend you get there 1 hour before to get good seats.

Beauty and the Beast — Live on Stage and Disney - Live on Stage! are both shows that have dedicated showing times. If you want to see them make sure to look at your map early and figure out which show times you want to attend.

I think the most difficult part about this park is that it has so many attractions with dedicated show times and limited show times. This makes it particularly difficult to get it all in one day. If I had to do it again, I would set aside one day to see all the shows and one day to ride the rides and see the other attractions without dedicated times.

Disney Hollywood Studios is a LOT of fun. The Animation Courtyard was particularly interesting as it showed how the films are made and gives you the opportunity to try your hand a cartooning!

Here are some links for Disney Hollywood Studios:
http://www.kingdommagictravel.com/disneyworld/theme_parks/hollywood_studios.htm

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/hollywood-studios/

http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/guides/mgm/st-overview.htm

This concludes my Travelin' Thursday series on Walt Disney World. I hope you all found it informative. If you are going to WDW I would love to answer any questions you may have! Have a great weekend. I am traveling and going to the mountains this weekend, so I probably won't update my blog until next Monday. Go Broncos!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Why do I “cycle” through hair lengths?

I often wonder why I feel the need to change my hair, which inevitably results in a style only my stylist can fix. I will just get my hair grown out and then I will decide that is looks “awful” and just needs to be cut. A pony tail is not a style! So then I get an appointment as soon as possible, because I “just can’t stand it anymore” and hurray to the store to get a new hairstyle magazine. I then spend hours going over and over the pictures in the book picking out several that I like. Then I take those to the stylist and ask her which one will work and we proceed to “whack off” what I’ve been working on for the better part of 2 or 3 years! At the end she whirls me around and whal-la all is fixed right? No more “awful” hair. And for that brief moment that is correct. I feel so much better and my hair looks great.



Then comes the morning after. I wake up the next day and it begins in the shower, as I shampoo my hair I realize just how much hair I got rid of yesterday. Did I go too far? Is it too short? Well, what’s done is done. The next dose of reality comes as I begin to try and style my “new do”. I remember what my stylist did the day before, but my hands cannot perform the task at hand. Finally, by the time it is dry it just looks like a mess on top of my head. It looks nothing like it did when I walked out of the salon yesterday and now I am beginning to regret my decision to cut my hair and at the moment vow to begin to grow it out again. And so the cycle begins again.



For a long time I thought I was the only one who participated in this madness, but after talking with other women I found out I am not the only one! I am thankful this seems to be a common occurrence. Whether it is the length or style or color it seems like the feminine sex just can’t leave our hair alone. What is it about changing our hair that is so satisfying? I am really not sure. All I know is that changing my hair is usually quite satisfying and results in a bit of a “new me”.



I am looking forward to the final edition of my WDW series tomorrow! We’ll visit a GREAT park Disney Hollywood Studios. See you tomorrow!

Monday, September 21, 2009

My Wonderful Husband for Mindless Mondays

I thought I would put in one of my favorite pictures of my husband taken at Animal Kingdom during our visit there last December. My husband is simply wonderful. He is a working/stay at home dad. He takes care of everything while I'm away on business trips. He makes me laugh when I'm all "wound up". He picks up Makayla at after school. He does it all!! I can't ever thank him enough. So I post this pictures instead. It shows he fun loving personality.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Thanks!

I just realized I had not thanked Thais for this BEAUTIFUL blog. It is just wonderful and I can't thank her enough! If you need a blog redesign be sure to contact her (http://olivinadesignhouse.blogspot.com/). She takes all of your visions and makes them a reality.

I am struggling to get followers and I am not sure how to make this group grow. Any suggestions?

I think that is it for today. My grandpa is having surgery on an aneurism, so extra prayers would be greatly appreciated.

Happy Friday! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Animal Kingdom (Walt Disney World)

This week I am featuring Animal Kingdom. This is a fabulous park. Keep in mind that this is largest (in total area) of all the parks and it has the shortest park hours.
This park is divided into 7 areas:
  • Oasis
  • Discovery Island® area
  • Camp Minnie-Mickey
  • Africa
  • Rafiki's Planet Watch® area
  • Asia
  • Dinoland, U.S.A.® area
We decided to tackle this park based on the rides we wanted to do and the wait times associated with those rides. For that reason we went directly to Asia, because it has both the Kali River Rapids and Expedition Everest. We decided to go on Kali River Rapids first for two reasons:
  1. The wait times can get REALLY long, even though they do offer a Fast Pass.
  2. The ride gets you WET and wanted time to dry off.
As a side note, this ride gets you REALLY WET. It turns out my daughter does not like to be wet. So, if you have a child that doesn’t like to get wet I would advise against this ride. My daughter complained for hours about being wet. We eventually had to purchase her a new shirt.

We then rode Expedition Everest. This is a GREAT roller coaster! It takes you through a track forward and backward. This attraction also has a fast pass. We got in line for the ride, as the wait was fairly short since we went their first and then we got Fast Passes for later in the day.

Note: Expedition Everest broke down later in the day. You may want to get there early to make sure you get to ride it!

To finish off Asia we went through the Maharajah Jungle Trek. This was a lot of fun! There are many types of animals and Disney staff around to answer questions. My daughter found the bat exhibit particularly interesting as there was some fruit hanging for them to eat. This is a great area for pictures!

Our next mission was to go on the Kilimanjaro Safari, so we went from Asia to Africa. The wait was not long for the Safari, so we hopped right inline. Be aware the last Safari ride goes out long before the park closes, so move this to the early part of your day so that you don’t miss out.

Note: I know I’ve said a couple of times “the wait wasn’t long” and you are probably wondering how I knew. So here is a little secret. The wait times for the ride are displayed that the beginning of the line. In addition, the times for which the Fast Passes are being distributed are also shown above the Fast Pass machines. We would always look at the wait time first to see if it was 30 minutes or less. We felt that 30 minutes was a reasonable wait time as even with Fast Passes the wait can be as much as 20 minutes. Plus if the wait time was short and the Fast Passes were in later in the day, we would have one of us got get Fast Passes while the others stood inline.

The Kilimanjaro Safari ride is lots of fun. The animals are just moving around freely and provide for some great photographic moments. In addition to the animals, Disney puts their own spin on it by making it feel like you are on a safari adventure, even with the inclusion of chasing some poachers. My daughter loved this ride and was really into “getting the bad guys”. This is a must ride during your visit to Animal Kingdom.

The additional attraction in Africa is Pangani Forest Exploration Trail. This is similar to the Maharajah Jungle Trek, as you are walking through an exhibit with a variety of animals. This particular attraction includes gorillas and hippos. Fun for all!!

After we finished in Africa we traveled to Rafiki's Planet Watch® area. You must travel there by train. So look for Wildlife Express Train from Africa. As you travel along the train you get to see some of the animals night time sleeping quarters and other behind the scenes goodies. Once you get to Rafiki’s Planet you must go to the Affection Section. This is a petting zoo and is great fun for kids of all ages. Have your camera ready and watch out for the goats. My mother set down her backpack and they began to rifle through it (see picture below).


There are some additional attractions in this area including Habitat Habit, which shows you all about cotton-top tamarins. This is an exciting and interesting exhibit. The final attraction is Conservation Station. Unfortunately, we missed out on this exhibit during our visit.

To continue our journey we headed back on the Wildlife Express Train to Africa, where we then proceeded to Dinoland U.S.A. Here we first acquired Fast Passes for the ride DINOSAUR. We then went on the Primeval Whirl ride. This is a lot of fun, but beware if you get motion sickness. I have this problem, and I had taken medicine before going to the park and I still was feeling a bit woozy once I got off the ride. We went back with our Fast Passes and rode DINOSAUR. This is a GREAT ride. Lots of fun with a little bit of thrill. Not too scary and just enough excitement to keep everyone laughing and screaming. This is a MUST RIDE in Animal Kingdom.

Dinoland also includes:

  • Cretaceous Trail
  • Finding Nemo - The Musical
  • Dino-Sue
  • Fossil Fun Game
  • The Boneyard
  • TriceraTop Spin

We did not ride these rides or view the attractions due to time restrictions. At the time, we had Fast Pass tickets for a second ride on Expedition Everest and had to head back to Asia. Unfortunately, when we got there the ride was broken, so we didn’t get to go again.

We finished off our day with in my opinion the best attraction in the park, It’s Tough to be a Bug. We visited this attraction at night, and the line was not long. In fact, we were basically able to ride it back to back, which my daughter loved because she loved this attraction. It is a 4-D “movie” with great “extra” effects. This is a must visit.

We ran out of time so that concluded our visit to Animal Kingdom. Unfortunately, we missed out on Camp Minnie-Mickey which included two shows (Festival of the Lion King and Pocahontas and Her Forest Friends) and a character greeting trail.


Because this park has shorter hours due to the animals, I would STRONGLY suggest if you have one extra day to spend it here in order to be able to enjoy the entire park.


Here are some links for Animal Kingdom:


http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/animal-kingdom/


http://www.kingdommagictravel.com/disneyworld/theme_parks/animal_kingdom.htm


http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/guides/animalkingdom/ak-overview.htm


Next week I will conclude this series with the final major park at WDW, Disney Hollywood Studios. Have a great remainder of the week!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Why Pay Your Bills on Time?

As we all know paying your bills on time is key, especially for your credit score’s sake. However, I wanted to share a little experience that I had. Our family is a paycheck to paycheck family. Often times I am a little short or waiting for money to come in when a bill is due. At first I sacrificed everything for the bill to be there on the due date, but in the end I usually would pay many overdraft fees on my other transactions just to get the bill paid. Please do not think I am advocating not to pay your bills on time, but if you find yourself between a rock and a hard place these things in mind:

  1. Most of the time the late fee on a particular bill is less than the sum of overdraft fees you would be charged from the bank for additional transactions coming in. For example, most late fees are a small percentage (2-5%) of the bill, while overdraft fees are usually $25-$35 per transaction.
  2. Late payments are usually only reported to the credit bureau if they are 30 days overdue. So you are probably OK if you are only looking at only a few days late.
  3. Put your family first. If you are like us and have no credit cards, I have made the choice that my family and the food and necessities we need come first. I always try to pay all my bills on time, but if I have to choose paying a bill on the due date and getting some food for the table; I put food on the table. In our case most of the time the money we need to pay the bill is usually 1-3 days out, because my husband is a contractor and gets paid sporadically.

I want to reiterate that I am NOT advocating for not paying your bills on time. I just wanted to share that being 1-5 days late on your bill is not the end of the world, as I once thought it was, and making sure that your family has what it needs is really key.

Do any of you experience this financial juggling? How do you handle it?

As a side note, I am SO excited about continuing my posts on Walt Disney World. Tomorrow I will feature Animal Kingdom! Have a great day!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Work/Kids Out of Balance

The title says it ALL the balance between work and my family is out of whack, and last night topped it off for me. We had our business partner in town for a meeting. They had brought people from all over the globe in for this meeting. As is common for the business world, at the end of the day we all went out for dinner. Since I get to set the schedule, we set dinner start time for 5:30 pm in hopes we would be done early. Well I was WRONG! We didn't leave the restaurant until after 8:00 pm!!! By the time I got home my daughter was in bed asleep.

That is when it really hit me. I did not get to talk about her day. I wasn't there to help with homework. I wasn't there to read with her. I just WASN'T THERE PERIOD!!! This really upset me, but I can't see a way to change. I have to work and since I'm in sales and marketing, these dinners and the travel are part of my job description.

I guess I am just feeling like I'm missing out on a big part of my kids lives because I have to make money and I wish that I could have both and not have to choose.

And now that I have posted this in the back of my mind there is a voice saying, “OK enough whoa is me. My kids are healthy and really you can't ask for more than that. And life isn't fair, no one said it was. So I just need to dust myself off and be thankful for what I have!” So I’ve just that and I continue to battle the world of mom versus working woman.

I hope everyone is having a good week. Stay tuned for tomorrow's Why Wednesday featuring "Why Pay Those Bills on Time?"

Friday, September 11, 2009

EPCOT (Walt Disney World)


I must admit that EPCOT is my FAVORITE park. I love learning about all the cultures, eating the food and seeing the performers. That being said here are my suggestions in regards to the EPCOT.

When we went last December, we had my daughter who was 5 at the time. If you have a little girl, then the lunch with the princesses is a MUST. You have to make reservations for this and even though we called 5 months in advance, there was only one time remaining on the day we were going to EPCOT. Before you are seated you get to meet a princess, get their autograph, and have a picture taken. For our visit this princess was Belle. We had purchased a princess autograph book for our daughter and a princess pen. She LOVED it and got all the princesses autographs throughout the lunch and during on entire visit at Walt Disney World. While you are eating four different princesses visit your table and pose for pictures. Our princesses were Jasmine, Sleeping Beauty, Alice, and Cinderella. Here is a link about the dining with the princesses.

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot/dining/akershus/

EPCOT is divided into two sections: The World Showcase and Future World. Because the World Showcase is open later and there are really not any lines to get in, we focused the start of our day on Future World.

Future World is broken up into several Pavilions.
The Seas Pavilion
The Land Pavilion
The Imagination Pavilion
The Energy Pavilion
The Space Pavilion
Test Track Pavilion


We decided to tackle Future World counter clockwise, but we did send my husband and father-in-law off once again to get Fast Passes for Test Track, while we rode The Seas with Nemo and Friends in the Seas Pavilion. This was a nice starter ride as there was NO line. From here we went to Turtle Talk with Crush. This is a GREAT min-show. The kids sit down front and Crush takes questions. My daughter was mesmerized by the "movie magic". This is definitely a MUST!

We then walked over to the Land Pavilion in Future World where we got fast passes for Soarin'. If you want to ride Soarin' I would highly suggest a Fast Pass and you must get one early. I believe we were in the Lands at around 10am and we ended up with Fast Passes for 8pm that night! Wait time for the ride was also around 90 minutes. (As a side note: When we got back to the ride that night with our fast passes, the wait time for the ride was 190 minutes!) We didn't end up doing any other rides in this section as it was time for our Fast Passes at Test Track and we just ran out of time.

Test Track is a MUST for your visit. It is A LOT of fun! You get to experience what a "test dummy" goes through while testing a car. Again this is another ride I would STRONGLY recommend a Fast Pass.

After Test Track, we headed to the Imagination Pavilion, because we want to ride Journey into Imagination with Figment. This is a VERY fun ride for kids, and even adults. Once you complete the ride you go into a room with all kinds of hands-on activities brought to you by Kodak. You could easily spend 30 minutes to an hour in here taking in all the activities.

After this point we decided to head into the World Showcase. We did this for 2 reasons. First, we had lunch with the princesses at 2pm and we were getting close to that time and second, we had decided to forgo the other big ride in Future World, Mission Space as we had read that this is the ONLY ride in the entire Disney park that provided barf bags. I don't know about you, but I get motion sickness VERY easily and I was not interested in "yawning in Technicolor" while at the park. So we skipped it.

We also missed the Energy Pavilion which has a show called Ellen's Energy Adventure. This looked very interesting and is something we would have like to see had we had time. We also missed "Honey I Shrunk the Audience", which also looked very interesting

To keep the information grouped together I will tell you about the Spaceship Earth ride now, even though we waited until evening to ride this one. This is the ride in the "BIG ball" which is the signature piece of EPCOT. This is a seated ride that goes through the entire ball and talks you through a walk through time from the early dawning to the future. A great ride for all ages, with a special interactive bit at the end!

So now I'll move on to the World Showcase which contains:
Mexico
Norway (location of the princess lunch)
China
Germany
Italy
USA
Japan
Morocco
France
United Kingdom
Canada

There is a TON to see and do in these lands. I'll highlight a few.

In Mexico there is a boat ride that talks about Mexico and features the Three Caballeros. It is a lot of fun for everyone and provides some interesting information. In the area where you wait in line there is a small open market with a variety of Mexican made goods. This is a fun place to look around.

In Norway there is another boat ride, this one is focused on the Vikings and includes a minor exciting "drop". Again, some very interesting information to be gathered here.
In China there are some nice shops and a good restaurant. We got our daughter a Chinese umbrella with her name written in Chinese on the outside.

When you go to Germany you MUST go to the glass shop. They have FANTASTIC glasses and beer steins. You can have your purchased engraved with a name. We found these to be VERY reasonable gifts that had a lot of meaning.

In USA is the American Adventure. We missed out on this attraction as it was closed during our visit. It is listed as a "thrill to an epic theatrical event with authentic historical characters, magnificent music and extraordinary effects on stage and screen." There is also an amphitheatre where live performances happen periodically throughout the day. If you want to see one of these performances, send a family member WAY before showtime (I believe they were recommending 1 hour) to stand in line for seating. The line fills up fast and as seats are fist come first serve, the closer you are to the front of the line the better seats you'll get.

A MUST MUST stop is the bakery in France. The pastries are WONDERFUL! Sit down and enjoy a little piece of France! You won't regret it!

The remaining lands have interesting sites and shops and food stations. If you have a particular ancestry, be sure to stop by that land for acts, special items, and delicious native food. It is important to note that Disney brings in people from that particular country to work in the shops and restaurants. Be sure to look at their name tags to see exactly where they are from!

Finally, you must stay until the park closes, as they put on a FANTASTIC laser and fireworks display at the end of the day. We watched the show from the United Kingdom and had a nice view. Although I think they recommend viewing it in USA. People begin congregating along the fence which surrounds a big lake, which is the centerpiece of World Showcase about 30 minutes before the show. Please note that the pretty much turn all the lights out in the park during the show, so it is best to find a spot and remain there until it is over.

EPCOT is simply fantastic. In order to really experience it I would recommend 2 days. One day devoted to Future World, and another day devoted to World Showcase.

Here are some links for EPCOT:

http://www.kingdommagictravel.com/disneyworld/theme_parks/epcot.htm
http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/epcot/
http://www.wdwinfo.com/wdwinfo/guides/epcot/ep-overview.htm

As usual, if you have questions I'd love to here them! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Why?

Today for Why Wednesday, I'd like to post a poem I wrote called "Why?". My family is going through some struggles right now. Although these struggles are not serious, i.e. health, they are putting a strain on my family and although I know it will all work itself out in the wash, it is not making things any easier right now. I hope you enjoy my poem and that maybe it can help you through tough times as it has me.

There are times in life we question why,
A loving God makes us cry.

In these times the road of life,
Is filled with turmoil and strife.

And even though the times are hard,
We must remember it is in the cards.

The good times and the bad,
The happy and the sad.

Always in our times of grief,
The Lord is providing relief.

So when the times are more than you can bear,
Look up to heaven and know He is there.

Waiting for a simple prayer,
To ask Him for His loving and precious care.

-S. Canfield
Copyright 2007

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Black Magic's Story

I promised on my first blog to tell you the story of how I got my horse Black Magic. I can't find a better day than today to do that. From the paper work I have on her she was sold at an auction as a 2-year old with a puffy knee. The couple who bought her put her in a pasture with another horse. Some series of unfortunate events occurred with the couple and the man was removed from the location with the horses. It was my understanding that he did most of the work with the horses. The woman was no very familiar with horses and it turns out the Magic did not like her at all. Magic would chase the woman around the field biting and kicking at her. In the end the woman could not take it anymore and put Magic in the paper. The ad said "Free to anyone who can catch her." Thankfully this ad was read by the founder and president of Denkai Animal Sanctuary Floss Blackburn. Floss and her team went to the property and spent an entire day trying to get Magic loaded. They finally did and took her to the sanctuary.

I am not sure how long she was at the sanctuary before I came along, but I don't think it was very long. So here is how I got involved. I wanted to get involved with horses and began looking for some place in Northern Colorado that had this capability. I stumbled across Denkai on the internet and saw that you could sponsor horses. Well of course I was all over that! I looked through the list of available horses to sponsor and found Magic. I loved her just from her picture and contacted Floss about being her sponsor.

To begin with I would go out on my lunch break and as often as possible to just be near her. She would not let me too close at first and so I'd just stand and talk to her. Then one evening I went out to see her and she had a cut over her eye. Floss was not there, but I had her cell phone number and called her. By the time Floss got back it was dark and we had to work by the "light of the moon". One of the people who help Floss at the sanctuary is Darrin. He is VERY experienced with all types of horses. (He is also a VERY patient and wonderful farrier. His contact info can be found at the bottom of this post if you need a new farrier or horse trainier.) He had a rope halter that we need to get on Magic so we could treat her cut. Well she didn't want any of that. I was the only one who could get close enough to her, so Darrin gave me the rope halter. I had NEVER haltered a horse before. I understood the concept, but didn't know exactly what I needed to do. Magic let me put the halter over her face and then Darrin instructed me on how to tie it so it wouldn't come off. We treated her cut and she was on the mend.

I continued my visits and then Floss was forced to move the sanctuary, which meant haltering Magic and loading her into a trailer. Well we got her into a round pin and it took me ALL day to get her haltered. She was one of the last animals to be moved that day. Once Magic was haltered she was fine in the trailer and rode along quietly.

At the new location, I tried to work on getting her to halter easier, but it was quite a distance from my house and I wasn't getting out as often as I wanted. So I talked to Floss about adopting her and she thought that would be great idea. So in October of 2006 I moved her to a boarding facility near my home.

I have continued to work with Magic, although her training is not as far along as I'd like. But I love her and just spending time with her makes me happy!

So that's it. That's the story of how I came to have my wonderful horse Black Magic!

Darrin’s Contact Info
Darrin Hill
970-776-6816
Moondog66@gmail.com

Friday, September 4, 2009

Magic Kingdom (Walt Disney World)



First let me apologize for not getting this post up yesterday. Unfortunately I was sick (back to school germs makin' their way through our household). But I'm healed and ready to talk about travelin' to the Magic Kingdom!

This is a HUGE park with SO much to do. We were there from park opening to park closing and just barely got everything we wanted to do in. I would really recommend 2 or 3 days for this park! Here are a few tips for navigating Magic Kingdom:

1. Because the park is so large, do your best not to criss cross the park. Try to ride all the rides in one land before going to the next land.

2. The following rides typically gather LONG lines. Try to either get to them early in the day or get a Fast Pass to come back later:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Splash Mountain
  • Big Mountain Thunder Railroad
  • Space Mountain
  • Peter Pan' Flight
  • Small World
  • Ariel’s Grotto

Note: Small World, Ariel’s Grotto, and Pirates of the Caribbean don't have Fast Pass.

3. Don't be afraid to send someone for a Fast Pass. My husband and father-in-law were not interested in riding Peter Pan's Flight, so they headed to Tomorrowland to get Fast Passes for Space Mountain and Stitches' Great Escape. This worked out well. By the time they got back we were all able to move right over and ride Small World together.
Note: You can only get a Fast Pass every so many minutes (as I recall it was every 20- 30 minutes). So you may have to choose which ride you want a Fast Pass for first.

4. As I said before find out what everyone wants to see most and move those things to the top of your list. This way everyone will have a GREAT day at the park.

5. Use baby swap on those rides that have height restrictions. Baby swap enables one of you to hold the child while the other rides and then as soon as one of you gets back, the other one can get right on the ride!

6. There are several parades and shows throughout the day. If you want to see these, make sure to make time in your schedule and find you spot to sit early as good places to view the parade from fill up fast.

7. In Tomorrowland there is an attraction called Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor. Before the show you can text a joke and they may use it for the show (instructions are on monitors). I put in a joke using my daughter's name and she got a HUGE kick out of it when they said her name and the joke, making the trip it a really special experience.

8. If your family has no preference I would start in Tomorrowland, and then work counter clockwise through the park.

9. The Tiki Room is a great attraction with lots of music and fun for all! As a bonus it is INSIDE! So if you are there on a hot day, you can at least get out of the sun!


Below are a couple of direct links about the Magic Kingdom with some additional advice about navigating the park.


http://www.kingdommagictravel.com/disneyworld/theme_parks/magic_kingdom.htm

http://disneyworld.disney.go.com/parks/magic-kingdom/calendar/


Have questions? I'd be happy to answer any! Have a great holiday weekend!
Next Thursday I'll cover EPCOT!