Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ultrasound Results: Turtles, Heartbeats, and the Whole Kit and Kaboodle.

Today was a huge day: ultrasound day. Finding out information that will affect us every single day for the rest of our lives.

Dan and I were both up by 4:30am, unable to sleep with nerves and excitement. For me, the creeping anxieties I've had - which are completely unfounded- that something may be wrong with the baby were laying heavy on my heart. We were just incredulous that by the end of the morning we would know so much more about this little baby we are halfway to meeting.

I showed up first for the appointment and promptly announced to the office staff that I was so nervous I felt like throwing up. They laughed very graciously and kindly pointed out the available wastebaskets should the need arise. Dan came a short time later and looked about as bad as I felt- I could see the anxiety seeping out of him. He, in particular, wanted this baby to be a boy so badly he had done all he could to prepare himself to be ready for whatever news came his way.

They finally called my name and we went in and I got comfortable on the table. "We want to know what sex the baby is and we have two girls already," we started right out with. "O-kay," said the tech. "We'll see what we can see."

She gets the first views of the baby and it's curled up in a little ball. I've never seen an ultrasound picture that looks like this: the baby actually looks like a little turtle, head almost touching it's knees. "Mmmm," the tech says. "It may be tough to see anything."

And I immediately feel like a total nimrod because I've told approximately HALF OF OUR ENTIRE COUNTY that we're finding out today.

But she starts with the head and I am thrilled that there is a brain, everything measures perfectly, and looks great. She checks out the face, nose and lips- all there, all beautiful and perfect- and the rest of the spine.

I start to breathe easier.

She gets to the heart and measures the heartrate. It comes back as 138. And that's when I knew it was a boy.

Michaela and Jenna never had heartrates below 155. Something in the 130's is a totally different animal to me.

"Well, if you're looking for a boy, that's a good sign... that's low and boys run low," the tech says.

"IT IS???????????" Dan practically shouts. Honestly. He was LOUD.

She moves down to look at the stomach, kidneys, legs, arms, bladder, and again, all measure perfectly. I am just waiting for her to find the kit and the kaboodle that will confirm that it is a boy. The baby thankfully changes position and all of a sudden she says, "Yup! Look! There's the scrotum!"

"REALLY????????!!!!?????" Dan says, practically on top of me looking for this glorious image of his son's kaboodle on the screen.

"OH MY GOD!" I say, with a huge smile on my face.

"Yup... that's a boy!" she says. "Let's look a little bit more... oh yes. Here it is: it's a penis. 100% positive. That's a boy in there."

"A BOY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" says Dan.

"OH MY GOD!!!" says I, my brain so thrilled for him and us and our families and the millions and millions of little details going through my head.

Dan is kissing me and beaming.

The tech wraps things up, says that everything looks great and measures perfectly. We leave the office, stunned and happy and... well, just stunningly happy.

And that's when Dan, with an incredible amount of self-satisfied smugness, says to me:

"Well, my work here is done."

And I think I will laugh about that for the rest of my life.
A boy. Can you believe it? A BOY!! With the whole kit and kaboodle.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Signs of Spring.


After a long, cold, snowy, nauseous winter, nothing feels better than seeing signs of spring.
Here are the sights from around our house:

The forsythia is blooming.

I love how the early hosta growth looks like little soldiers standing at attention.





Michaela bought this little fan for school, which is roasting in our 88 degree mini-heat wave. She also wore it all through dinner last night.


The red maple leaves are also sprouting out.

Waiting for the bus this morning. Jenna's pretty decked out for preschool: pearl necklace and two bracelets.



We got this outfit for Jenna on Friday and she has insisted on wearing it almost every day since. She especially loves the shoes.

Of course Bitty Baby and her bag is never too far from Jenna. This is a retake of an earlier picture because "Bitty wasn't loo-ting at the tamera" in the first shot.

Happy Spring!!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Random Thoughts, Postscript.

I forgot to add two items to my previous post.

... Jenna is on Augmentin, an antibiotic, for a bad ear infection. I read the labels on the side of the bottle and one said, "WARNING: This medication may interfere with some forms of birth control." Hmmm... I better check with her and make sure no accidents happen, if you get my drift.

...I've read some really good books in the last month, and highly recommend the following:
- Lisey's Story by Stephen King: Remarkable, intimate portrait of a couple and secrets kept.
- Testimony by Anita Schreve: I love Anita Schreve and this is her newest. It's about a private school rocked by the discovery of a sextape involving a freshman girl and senior boys. The consequences for all are poignant and harrowing. I cried and cried while reading it. Sooo good.
- Run by Ann Pachett: Great family story of grown children, adoption, and discoveries.
-A Mercy by Toni Morrison: Not my favorite of Morrison's (my all time favorite book is her brilliant and incomparable Beloved) but an interesting little book. Tells the story of a slave girl given up by her mother in the 1600's New World. The last chapter is told from the mother's point of view and tells why she did what she did.
- The Senator's Wife by Sue Miller: Excellent, satisfying book about two marriages, one starting out and one coming to a long, hard ending and how they intersect. One couple copes with infidelity in sort of an interesting fashion.
Check them out and if you read any, let me know what you think.

Random Thoughts Edition.

Happy Monday! I have lots of little things to talk about today, but not one would fill a whole post, so I'm mushin' 'em all together. Here's what's been going on at the Libutti Household as of late:

... I am carrying this baby so high that I may choke on it. Perhaps when labor and delivery time comes, I can just clear my throat and cough it out. The last week has been one of explosive growth for my girth (what a great phrase- I'll be saying that to myself all day!). Most nights I am uncomfortable just because everything is so tight and trying to stretch. But I am feeling great overall. Ahhhh... second trimesters rock.

... Only three days until we find out the sex of the baby!!! No one seems to have a strong feeling either way, including me. I can't wait to find out. I am beside myself with excitement. The joy of finding out has been a great distraction from worrying that the baby may not be 100% healthy, which we have no indication that it is not. But I have come a long way in my anxiety and feel sort of prepared now to deal with whatever comes our way. The power of prayer!!

... Entering the second trimester, and feeling better and flooded with maternal-type nesting hormones, is like waking up from a 3-4 month nap. You wake up, look around, and say, "What the hell happened to my house? Why is everything such a mess? Why hasn't anything been DONE?" and you rip into fairly ridiculous projects, like cleaning out the laundry room. Next up: reorganizing our home office, which needs to be able to handle many, many more toys currently living in the girls' rooms. And at least now I have the energy to tackle some things.

... I did have to wimp out a bit and started grocery shopping on the weekends so Dan can help me carry the bags in and up the stairs. The last time I went, last Monday, I dreaded it all morning and then it took me honestly about three hours to recover from the lifting. It doesn't help that the girls want to come with me and during the school break, both Jenna and Michaela wanted me to push them in that ridiculously large car-type cart, so right off the bat I'm shoving at least 95 pounds around the store. By the time we were in the frozen food section, I was ready to pass out and I kicked Michaela out of the cart. It's just too much for me. So yesterday I went by myself and Dan helped me carry and I was able to lead a normal life for the rest of the day.

... We came awfully close to getting the minivan last week and then decided against it for now. We would take just too much of a loss on Dan's one year old car to be comfortable with the trade in. We'll re-evaluate after the baby is born and again in a few years. We did get the baby seat out- Jenna's old one! Such memories!- and put all three car seats in the back seat of the Pilot and they did indeed fit.

... Dan and I went to three Open Houses yesterday; one house we totally fell in love with. It was spacious and airy and a new kitchen and four bedrooms and great details throughout. Oh, and a HUGE patio surrounding an in ground pool. We could easily fit almost EVERYONE WE KNOW in the downstairs of the house for a party. But the upstairs needed lots of work and new bathrooms and new flooring and new doors and lots of painting and sprucing up. So, alas, we are staying in our own house for another week. Sometimes going to Open Houses makes you appreciate your own house even more.

... The girls have discovered the deliciousness of sherbet this week. And they are in love. Michaela, especially... she tried to weasel FOUR BOWLS of it out of me the other day. I told her three was way more than enough. She keeps saying, "But it's just SO DELICIOUS!!!" I giggle at her passion for certain foods. She and I are engaging in a long term battle over Ring Dings. I bought myself a box- which I never buy, ever- and have one maybe twice a week. And I don't let her have any. And she has writhed around on the floor, whining and moaning about the unfairness of my Ring Ding hoarding. Literally. On the floor. It's not FAIR!

... The other morning both girls were in their own room, getting dressed and both were singing nonsensical songs to themselves. They sounded so cute. I tried to grab my camera so I could record them both and post it but didn't get to it in time. They both do a lot of singing around the house.

... We are all enjoying this gorgeous, warm, sunny weather (except for my ankles, which have swollen in protest... soooo attractive). There is no time like spring and summer to be barefoot, pregnant and not working.
I've got the life of Riley and I'm loving every minute of it.
We are blessed!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Disney Flashback.

I don't think I shared with y'all the absolute screaming, crying fit Jenna had while waiting in line for the "It's A Small World" ride. I mean, how can you go to Disney and not ride the fun little boat and listen to that infernal song 396 times while watching the small animatronic dancing children? It's a classic slice of Americana.

It was our last day, Jenna was waaaay overtired, overstimulated and over-everything and totally not into the ride. She almost threw up because she worked herself up so good. We sort of forced her to go on it- because, really, it's just a gentle boat ride- and though she cried the whole time she did get over it. Eventually.

As we were disembarking, a very helpful "It's A Small World" Disney ride operator mistook her tears about being on the ride for tears about having to get off the ride and she offered us another go around, which we quickly declined.

So fast forward about two weeks. The other day, out of seemingly nowhere, Jenna says to me with a very high level of irritation in her voice, "Why do they tall it a SMALL WORLD??? It's not a SMALL WORLD!! It's a BID, BID WORLD!! Why do they tall it that???"

"I'm not sure," I answered as vaguely and lightly as possible.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Transitions, Part 2.

Ever since we found out that we're having another baby, Dan and I have been trying to wrap our brains around the implications- both joyous and complicated- of adding another person to our family of four. (God was just so smart to give us humans 9-10 months to digest all of this.) Some are very emotional... will we have enough attention to give each child? Enough patience? And some are very practical... will we save enough for three college educations? Possibly three weddings? And some are dealing with our day-to day life... where will all these children sleep? Will our car hold all of them? How will we fit around the dinner table? Will we have an interruption in the almost 12 YEARS of diapers we're looking at (yes, it's true; but think of it this way: we're already seven and a half years done)?

So our heads have been swirling. The largest-scale things we've talked about are looking for a new house with four bedrooms and more bathrooms and storage and looking at minivans to cart all these children around in. And this has sparked very interesting reactions from people who we talk about this with.

We can certainly fit another child in our house; two of our kids will have to share a bedroom since our fourth bedroom is downstairs and being used as an office/playroom. We are in no hurry to move. I don't relish the idea of all the work and hassle involved in packing and moving and unpacking, either 5+ months pregnant or with a newborn. Dan and I are both committed to staying within our elementary school boundaries, so that limits our search pretty severely. But we both get a little giddy thinking about having more space to stretch out in, host family parties in, having a finished basement for the toys to be kept in, and another bathroom to get ready in. And while nothing is imminent nor necessary, we both clearly have felt this pressure intensify on us since finding out about Baby #3.

People we talk to about this seem to have one of two views: they either say, "Oh, how exciting that will be!" or they point out that they know families who have raised SEVEN children in houses HALF our size. And I think the subtext of those stories is not nasty in any way, just It is possible and don't feel the pressure if you don't want to.

And this causes some angst for me, I must admit.

I have no problem staying in the house we live in. We have poured thousands of hours of work into it as well as thousands of dollars. We have it almost exactly the way we want it. I think we could easily raise our children here until they leave home with some careful clutter management and patience. I think that sharing a bedroom is a character-building exercise and teaches wonderful lessons about accommodating others, sharing space and building bonds.

But is it wrong to want a bigger house? Is it excessive to want my children to each have their own space? Is it selfish for me to want my own master bathroom, free from Spongebob toothbrushes and bath toys? If we have the money to pay for it- and trust me, ain't nothin's happening unless I am able to sleep like a baby knowing we can afford a new house- are we spoiling our children in some way by giving them more space and more privacy?

And the same holds true for our car. We can fit (I think) two car seats and a booster in the back of our Pilot. Dan has offered to trade in his beloved Acura and get the family a new Honda Odyssey minivan. (I know... he's amazing.) We have talked with his brother, who sells Hondas, and we can get the minivan for about $60 more per month than what we're paying for his car with nothing else down. The minivan is gorgeous- leather seats, a sunroof, power everything, and a DVD player. But is it necessary? Do we NEED a DVD player? We can easily afford this car. It will be super handy for getting our own children around comfortably and safely as well as having room for extra people, like grandparents, aunts and uncles, and friends to ride with us.

I think it's a reflection of a larger societal debate going on, as the Depression era generation fades away. These poor people worked like dogs and had barely anything, but were so appreciative of what they had. They gave way to the Baby Boomers, who also worked like dogs and raised their standard of living tremendously. Us Generation Xers were born not knowing real poverty or real want and having lots of extras. So here we are, working like dogs (again, props to Dan... that man works hard and works smart to get ahead and provide us with an amazing standard of living, as well as supports me staying home 150%) and having children who are obese with extras and opportunity and luxury. These children have the highest standard of living in modern history. Are we ruining them? Is there intrinsic value in going without something? Or do you have a better opportunity to grow and develop as a person when your basic needs are more than met and you have exposure to this higher standard of living? I know these are gross, gross overgeneralizations but I hope you get my point.
What is necessary? What is extra? What are we teaching our children?

So for the time being, we are keeping our eyes open for a house but not moving anytime soon. And we're probably going to get that minivan.

I hope we're not ruining our 2.5 kids.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Adventures in Dinnertime Eating

Dinner is often an adventure at our house. Dan and I put lots of energy in doing dinner the right way- a sit down family dinner at the dining room table, featuring homemade foods and engaged conversation between all of the family members. No television. No take out. No distractions.

Except, of course, for the children.

We fight a constant battle here to get them to the table, to sit on their bottoms, eat what's on their plate and use their best manners. Those are the rules and the expectations and they are spelled out very clearly several times per week.

But what actually happens is the girls ask, "What's for dinner?" and unless the answer is spaghetti and meatballs, much grousing and carrying on ensues. The girls are starch junkies, gobbling up the rice or pasta or couscous I've prepared and shunning most meats. How much do I have to eat? they cry. The veggies are hit or miss... some are just more popular than others. Broccoli goes down well. Jenna loves green beans. Carrots are a hit. Peas... not so much.
So in an attempt to throw in some education about WHY their cruel, mean and unreasonable mother practically FORCES them to ingest more than three bites of brown rice, I have started explaining in very simple terms what each food does: meat helps you grow big and strong, veggies have lots of good vitamins that keep you healthy and the starches... well, the starches give you quick energy and fill you up. I know that at 3 and 7 they could really care less but I do think it starts them on a good path to understanding why we eat what we do and having a good relationship with food.
Add onto all of this education/ expectation reminding/ manipulating portion sizes/ serving and cutting of food the fact that all of us are sort of trying to talk at once-usually to Mommy- and there's a bit of chaos going on until we get into our groove.
So we were doing our regular thing tonight: Michaela was trying to "claim" the rest of the pasta in the pot while trying to see exactly how much chicken she HAD to eat, Jenna is verbally evaluating each item on her plate, and Dan is telling me about the Bible Study he attended this morning at church. He and I are talking, Michaela is interrupting, I am keeping an eye on how much she is eating and Jenna interjects with, "What does pasta do?"
"It fills you up," Dan says.
Jenna is quiet and continues munching.
We keep talking.
"What does filthy mean?" Jenna suddenly asks.
"It means very, very dirty," I answer, thinking that I must have used this word with her earlier when she was playing 'digging' out in the front yard today.
Michaela lunges for more pasta, I push toward her three more pieces of chicken she needs to eat, and Dan continues about The Church and how Peter was called The Rock.
"I want to be dirty!" Jenna says enthusiastically, again out of the blue, as she shoves a huge spoonful of pasta into her mouth. We all stop and look at her, puzzled, and then Dan and I realize at the same time that she thinks Dan has said that the pasta makes you filthy, not fills you up.
We all laughed and laughed and laughed.
And I guess for all the chaos and the negotiating and the teaching and the limit setting, that is really what dinnertime is all about.
Being together.
Eating good food.
Laughing.
Growing together as a family... both physically and emotionally.

Good stuff.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

No Doubt: She's a boob girl.

So Jenna, who is in love with my boobs, is watching me get dressed the other day. Though I try to turn away from her, giving myself as much privacy as a Mom can muster, she circles around me like a lioness on the prowl and stares at my chest.
"Mom... why are your boobs so bid (big)?" she asks me.
"Well," I tell her, trying desperately to pull some clothing on, "when mommies are growing babies in their bellies, sometimes their boobs grow, too."
"Do your bibs (Jenna's word for bra) still fit?"
"Uhh, yes, Jen. They still fit. My boobs aren't that much bigger." (I begin to become incredulous that I am having this conversation about boobs- particularly my boobs- with my three year old.)
Jenna continues staring, obviously giving this lots of thoughtful consideration.

"Well, I think your bibs are too small. You need bidder bibs."

Yeah, okay, Jenna... you and I can go wisk off to Victoria's Secret and pick me up a few bidder bibs. We'll get right on that.

"So where are your bibs?" I ask her.
"What? I don't have bibs! I don't have boobs!"
"Well, you will when you get bigger... they'll grow just like Mommy's."
"Oh, Mommy... THAT'S DISGUSTING!" Jenna says to me, laughing with how PREPOSTEROUS that is, like I've just told her her hair will turn green and she'll grow extra limbs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Watch out for the wily Claus character.

We're riding in the car the other day- me, Michaela and Jenna- and the girls are singing songs from their choir at church. I am listening, enjoying the music and I realize Michaela is slightly off in her lyrics. While singing "This Little Light of Mine", she has replaced the phrase

Don't let Satan (blow) it out; I'm gonna let it shine

with:

Don't let Santa (blow) it out; I'm gonna let it shine, let it shine let it shine, let it shine.

Yeah, Santa... don't even THINK of squashing my evangelism.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter Sunshine.

Yes, it was technically sunny here on Easter, but certainly not warm... the temp at 9am was about 35 degrees and made the carefree light-as-air halter dresses I made the girls seem quite ridiculous. Jenna decided to be in a foul mood all morning, screaming and crying through her bath and hair-dry, then flat out refusing to wear the dress. That of course set Dan (who was ushering at church and was a little ramped up about getting there super early) and I (who had already promised the girls that I will never, ever make them dresses again if they were going to be so ungrateful and cranky about trying them on the day before) off to the point that five minutes before we left for church we were all yelling at each other.
Here is the only picture of the girls in their dresses. Notice the happy face on Jenna.



He is Risen, indeed! Hallelujah!

But things got better from there and we really enjoyed the service. The girls sang at church and did a great job. We spent the afternoon with Dan's dad, my parents, and our aunt and uncle, who hosted a delicious, traditional Easter dinner. The girls were thrilled with all the candy and egg hunts and treats and DVDs and goodies bestowed upon them. And they got to take off those ridiculous dresses.

The day before we colored Easter eggs with my mom, which is one of the highlights of her year. Seriously. We colored 15 eggs and then I helped decorate the bunny cake she made for Easter dinner. Super cute. Because what is Easter without coloring eggs and a bunny cake?




Jenna was quite concerned about the Easter Bunny coming into our house (see previous posts about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy) and I am not egg-sagerating when I say she asked us about 20 questions on Easter Eve, which included: Where does the Easter Bunny live? How does he get inside our house? Does he stay a long time? Will I hear him? What if I wake up and see the Easter Bunny? What does he wear? Does he hop in the house? Does he have big feet? Does he wear shoes? Is he nice? Does he like children? Is he mean? ... and on and on.

And last but not least, as promised, here is an artfully done pregnancy pic of me, heavily cropped out and edited so I look okay and so you can't see the pregnancy growth of my tushie. 17 weeks and counting!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thoughts on Easter.

I love Easter.

I love the let's-start-it-off-with-a-bang of Mardi Gras, the solemnity of Ash Wednesday, the sacrifice of Lent, and the crescendo of Holy Week. It's not only the highlight of the the church year, let's face it: it's great drama.

Palm Sunday has always been a favorite of mine and I look forward to it as much as Easter Sunday. I find the images of the crowds following after Jesus, waving the palm branches, straining to get a glimpse of this miracle worker on a lowly donkey riding into Jerusalem, throwing down their coats for the donkey to walk on just such a stirring image. I am also a huge fan of the music of Palm Sunday, with it's air of celebration tinged with bittersweetness and the sad knowledge of what is to come. Ride On, Ride On in Majesty floats in my head for days afterwards. (Ride on, ride on in majesty, in lowly pomp ride on to die...Ohh! So beautiful. So poignant.) I told Dan last weekend that Palm Sunday was one of my favorite Sundays and he said, Really? And I said, Sure... it's the only time Jesus sort of gets the praise and pageantry he deserves. Hosanna! (Save us!) Hosanna to the Son of David!

Dan and I attended Good Friday service last night and I am always, always moved by it. Our church does a Tenebrae Service with readings from the Gospels and music and hymns. After each section, part of the church goes dark until the entire sanctuary is blacked out when the story of Jesus dying is read. Each section of the Passion of Christ has a passage or two that just kills me each time I hear it... Jesus finding the disciples "sleeping for sorrow" at the Garden (and, incidentally, I always thought Sleeping for Sorrow would be a great band name) while He sweats blood of agony, Peter's denial of Christ and hearing how "the Lord turned and looked at Peter"(I mean, really think about that... in the midst of all that chaos, all that pain, knowing what is quickly approaching Him, Jesus hears and knows Peter has denied him and stops to look at the disciple, His Rock... can you imagine? The betrayal! The disappointment must have been crushing... yet He knows this is what has to happen. It just pierces me. For awhile I entertained the thought that maybe the Lord the passage talks about is really The Big Guy Upstairs and that just terrified me. But at some point it was clarified to me that no, the passage is referring to Jesus)... the cryptic, stilted conversation with Pilate: "Are you a king?" "My kingship is not of this world..."... the chants of the crowds asking that "His innocent blood be on our hands and the hands of our children"... the ripping of clothing, the rioting people, the bloodlust, and of course the mocking, the ridicule, the scourging, and the actual crucifixion.

Since I've had children, the image of Mary watching all of this unfold has been especially harrowing to me. I remember when I saw Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ for the first time: the part that really made me weep- openly, uncontrollably- was when Jesus starts to carry the cross and Mary says to Him, "I am right here with you" and she has a flashback to when He was a child and fell and she scoops Him up and comforts Him by saying, "I am right here with you." And you think of how many countless times you do that as a parent. And all of a sudden she is not a saint-like person in a book but a real, loving, terrified, frantic parent watching her son go thorough the most awful torture imaginable.
Can you imagine watching your baby be lead to die?

Last night I was particularly moved by the section where Jesus, being lead to Calvary, hears the women following Him mourning and wailing and says to them, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, 'Blessed are the barren women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!' Then they will say to the mountains, 'Fall on us! and to the hills, 'Cover us!' " As someone whose womb is full of her third child and who has nursed her children waaaay longer than she'd care to admit, let me just say that passage hit a little close to home.

No question: Good Friday is a horrible event to have to relive every year. But it is so much part of the Arc of Holy Week and Easter... if you don't have Good Friday, can you really feel the joy of the Resurrection? Do you really feel the promise, the hope, the redemption, the peace? Easter is always done so perfectly at our church: full of loud music, shouts of joy, filled to the rafters with people just thrilled that He lives. It's a party, a celebration, and of course all the kids dressed in their finery just add to the fun and smiles.

Ahhh. Easter.
I can't wait.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Long and Short of It: Disney Edition


Our first moments at Magic Kingdom


Ahhhh.

I have just finished sewing Michaela's and Jenna's Easter dresses (and it's only Thursday!!), I have shopped for their baskets, I am almost caught up with the laundry, I have edited all 300 pictures from our trip, I have a big plate of spaghetti next to me, and Jenna is deeply engrossed in Peter Pan.

I am now ready to tell you about our trip to DisneyWorld.


It's all about the weather. Like I said before, we had a great time. We had awesome weather, which I was most excited about: warm, low humidity, and mostly sunny. A few passing rainstorms dumped some rain on us, but for less than an hour each time. It was glorious to be comfortable and in our flip flops and sandals and shorts.



Sunset at Epcot: and we live in the frigid Northeast because...???

Getting there is NOT half the fun. While our flight to Orlando was uneventful, we did experience and little... tension upon landing. We had secured seats on the Disney Magical Express, which drives you from the ariport to the Disney Resort you are staying at. As we were exiting the tunnel that brings you to and from the plane, I spotted a big sign that said: "Disney Magical Express Passengers: Bypass Baggage Claim" and I'm like, Awesome! We don't have to get our three suitcases that were juuust under the legal limit and drag them across Terminal A to Terminal B where the Magical Express Check-In is. So I tell Dan this and he's all, How will they know which suitcases are ours? That makes no sense. And I'm all, LOOK, It's Disney, I don't know really how they do anything but it's all magical. Let's try it. So against his better judgement, we dragged the girls, sans suitcases, to Terminal B and of course immediately were asked where our suitcases were and whether they were marked with the yellow Disney Magical Express tags. Oooooh. Right. That would be NO.

So we went back to Terminal A, got everything and made it fine onto our bus. By the time we got to the All Star Sports Resort, we were tired and cranky and it was late and I'd already had enough of everyone. We had a little trouble finding our room, towing our three suitcases and two very cranky children around an unfamiliar place and Dan and I had a little argument about where exactly Room 110 was.

And honestly, this is what we were saying to ourselves in our heads (we told each other later):
Dan: I can't believe I'm taking directions to the room from someone who can't even get to our dentist's office without getting lost.
Cheryl: I AM NEVER GOING ON VACATION WITH MY FAMILY EVER AGAIN. EVER.

But then the Pixie Dust started working it's magic on our brains and nerves and we all liked each other again.

Eating Adventures. We bought the Disney Dining Plan, which is possibly the greatest meal plan EVER. For about $11 each per day (we got a slight discount), we got a full breakfast or lunch, with dessert and drink, a snack (we inhaled countless Mickey Chocolate-covered Ice Cream bars on a stick... soooo good!) and a full sit down meal with dessert at any of the Disney restaurants in the Parks or at the Resorts. It was such a great deal that by the third day, I was convinced it is just a huge marketing-research tool so they know everything about what and where and when you eat... because there was no WAY they are making money on it. I guess I'll just chalk it up to the Magic of Disney.


We had a great time checking out new restaurants and had particularly good meals at Tony's on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom and at the Whispering Canyon Cafe in Wilderness Lodge (which is worth going to just to see the resort... holy gorgeous). We had a character lunch at Ackershus in Norway and the food, while Norwegian-inspired, was actually very good. We also ate a quick service meal at Yak and Yeti in Animal Kingdom that was really good and different than the usual fare. But really, each place has it's own charm and I was thrilled to not be cooking and to be able to eat these big meals. Because Momma's eating for two and is huuun-gry.



Meeting Cinderella at Ackershus

Hitting the Parks. We went to all four parks (Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, and Epcot) and also went to Blizzard Beach water park. Blizzard Beach was AWESOME and I would recommend to ANYONE with kids to plan to pay the extra money (it's not included on a Park Hopper ticket) and spend the day there in the middle of your trip because it's a totally different type of pace and play for them. You don't really wait in lines, there are play areas for all ages, and we really had a blast. I think the girls did a lot of decompressing that day... it's a great break from the hurry-up-and-wait and overstimulation that can happen at the parks. Plus the theme of Blizzard Beach is super cute: a former ski resort finds all the snow has melted, leaving a water park instead. They even have a chairlift to take you to the slides that start high up. They play a mix of winter music (we heard Jingle Bells and Winter Wonderland) as well as more relaxing songs, like Jimmy Buffet. The lazy river ride is super relaxing and we just loved the whole park.


Michaela tries the icebergs as Jenna looks on

We went to Magic Kingdom three times and I'd have to say that Animal Kingdom was the girls' least favorite. Though they did get their hair wrapped there, and that was a big hit.




The main activity for Jenna was meeting the characters. We met Mickey, Minne, Pluto, Goofy, Donald (twice), Daisy, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle (twice), Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Pocahontas, Chip and Dale, and The Incredibles (Mr. and Mrs.). The girls both loved getting hugged and posing for pictures. Michaela also went on some big-girl rides with Daddy: Space Mountain, Test Track, and Thunder Mountain Railroad. She and I had an adventure on our own one night while Daddy took a very tired Jenna back to the hotel: we waited in line for an hour and twenty minutes (an hour and twenty minutes of my life I will never get back, I might add) to ride the Toy Story Midway Mania 4D Spectacular. She loved it and I... well, the important thing is that she loved it.



Meeting Donald in Mexico at Epcot




Legs Libutti and her sister, Tall One





Meeting Daisy on Main Street In Magic Kingdom


Lots to See at the Resort. We stayed at a value resort because all the Moderates were booked. It was completely fine: clean, fun, utilitarian, and CHEAP. But it did lack some of the small-scale details and amenities of the Moderate resorts. The major downside (and really only downside) to staying there is that it was flooded with high school students taking Senior Trips. 90% of the kids were fine but we heard some language I was not thrilled with and saw LOTS of FLESH. I mean, the girls wore SCRAPS of clothing: tiny little string bikinis and low cut tops and itty bitty cut off jeans. I actually felt bad for the teenage boys by the end of the week, all hormonal and surounded by all this flesh being flaunted. And they were all tanned up and manicured and belly-pierced and sported very carefully done "casual" updo's. The old fart worrying mother of two daughters in me kept looking around for the chaperones and wondering, "Who's SUPERVISING all these kids?? How do you know they are not all fornicating in the rooms?"
And the girls were all attached to their cell phones, texting away, and at least once a day we sat next to some poor girl who was angst-ridden with some kind of drama about a boy. We actually heard one girl say, in a fabulous mock-Valley Girl accent, "ALL I am gonna do today is LAY OUT at Blizzard Beach and SLEEP because I am so SICK of his CRAP!!" and I was suddenly, overwhelming, profoundly happy that I was married, fat and pregnant with my third child.

On our last night, we were riding the bus back to our resort from Magic Kingdom and I said to Dan, "Don'y you think it's more crowded this week than last?" and a Senior Tripper girl, in a very helpful but unbelieveable self-centered way, says, "Well, it's Senior Trip!" And I thought to myself, "WELL, unless you brought about 500,000 students from your high school, I don't think YOUR senior trip is making the difference." But I really just said, "Oh, there were kids here last week on Senior Trip, too." and she seemed somewhat shocked by this nugget. It was really quite precious.


The Wrap Up. We were really sad to leave by Wednesday... if Jenna was not completely exhausted and overstimulated by the whole trip, I would have looked into staying an extra few days. It was a fantasic break from the routine, lots of fun together, and while every night one of the girls was quite cranky at dinner, we made it through and I think the girls really enjoyed it. Dan and I always leave Disney World with utter awe at the level of perfection demonstrated throughout the whole property: it's so clean, so fun, so big, so well-run, so incredibly pleasant, so magical. We plan on going back again when this baby is three or four, and we plan on bringing reinforcements to help us out.





Jenna in front of the gorgeous topiaries- they had every princess- at Epcot


I leave you with my favorite piece of video from the trip: Jenna on the Kilimanjaro Safari ride. We stopped for a moment, the driver was talking to us and Jenna, somewhat hopefully asks...




video


It just perfectly encapsulates her whole experience: yeah, I'm having fun, but can we go home now?






Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Baby # 3 Update: Week 15/16ish

I am happy to report that all is going well on the baby front. I am officially 16 weeks pregnant tomorrow (I think... these weeks are whizzing by and while I used to live and die by how far along I was in my first two pregnancies, I have to admit that I have lost track many times as to exactly how far along I am... just too much other info swirling around in my brain, I guess!)

I am happily in the second trimester and feel much, much better. I am now just hungry all the time and have to eat every few hours or my poor empty tummy aches with longing. I have been very careful with what I am eating, enjoying lots of fruit and veggies and healthy snacks, in an attempt to keep my weight in a good range. I am about even on the doctor's scale from where I started out- I lost two pounds my second visit and then gained two back today. I think this pregnancy looks more like Jenna's (smaller) but feels more like Michaela's (sicker).

I got to hear the baby's heartbeat, which is indeed one of the most beautiful sounds in the universe, and it was even and steady and strong. I did not ask what the heart rate was and the doctor did not offer that info. I asked for a refresher from my OB about anatomy because I couldn't figure out exactly where the baby was and what parts of me are starting to pop out. So he showed me where the top of my uterus was (whoo-hoo!) and said by 20 weeks it will be up by my belly button. I still am a little confused about what parts of my guts feel tight at the end of the day and what it is that is starting to "show" but I guess it's just my insides and my abdominal muscles doing what they are supposed to be doing. I am wearing my "ghetto-maternity jeans" today: my regular jeans with a rubber band through the buttonhole, keeping them from splaying open. I am not longer able to button anything anymore around my waist.

Now for the exciting part: mark your calendars for April 30th... that's when the famous FIND OUT THE SEX OF OUR BABY Ultrasound is!!!! Yes, in a mere three weeks we will be able to better envision this baby coming into our lives and nail down some specifics, like whether we can keep the nursery walls pink and green or switch over to a baseball theme which Dan has all planned out as well as smaller, minor details like what we are going to name it (we are 100% set on our girl name but only about 50% sure on a name for a boy). I am so excited to find out!!!! All of this just makes it seem more real somehow.

So, overall, it's a good report. I am hoping to post a baby-bump picture soon. (And I am working on the Disney vacation post, I promise!!!)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Teaser.

We're back from Disney and I don't even know where to start blogging about it.
Good Heavens.

We have been home for about 15 hours and I have gone grocery shopping and started sorting through the 350+ pictures I took as well as catching up on the 156 emails I had. I haven't even thought about starting the laundry. Stuff is in piles all over the house: mail, newspapers, clothing, souvenirs, toys, plastic bags of stuff and plenty of Disney ephemera. (Isn't ephemera a GREAT word??)

Overall, though, this is the bottom line: we had a BLAST. We had great weather. We met LOTS of Disney characters. We waited in LOTS of lines. We saw lots of shows.

We are happy, refreshed, sunburned, and warm.

Life is good.

More to follow in the next few days... I have a few really, really, really funny stories to tell you.