Friday, June 14, 2019

The Dynamic Dental Duo

Ya'll, I have a confession.  I had a major "mom fail" and allowed my children to eat gummies before bed EVERY NIGHT until about a year ago.  I thought I was treating them to an easy snack after baths, but it turns out that it's the worst thing you can feed your kids because it gets stuck in their teeth and can cause major cavities.  As a result, both Eli and Ellie had to have crowns.  Bless Ellie's prissy little heart, she was thrilled about getting a "crown" until she realized it wasn't the kind you wear on your head. 

There are two kind of people in the world. They call them Type A and Type B, and I have somehow managed to birthed one of each.  Ellie pulled her crown out eating taffy so she had to have it replaced on the same day Eli was getting his.  He was near tears in the waiting room and asked about 30-million questions.  Meanwhile, Ellie sang to herself in the car.

When it was time for the actual procedure, Ellie hopped up in the chair and had hers replaced without gas or even being numbed.  Yes, I realize this was because the hard part had already been done but she was so, so brave.

Eli not so much!  I thought they would have to sedate him.  Every time someone came into the room, he gave them the third degree wanting to know what they were doing and whether or not it would work.  It was pitiful! When we got home, Ellie played all day but the trauma was too much for Eli.  He had to rest on the couch in an upright position. 

The silver lining in this whole thing is that they are now super motivated to practice good oral hygiene. 

Thursday, June 13, 2019

The Ride of Her Life

This summer, Ellie is participating in Summer Literacy Academy.  It's an incredible resource provided by our school district to help students grow their reading capacity.  I was a struggling reader as child and I can remember being so intimated by my slow progression.  I was tutored through second grade and truly despised reading.  Then when I was in eighth grade, I found a book series I loved and to this day, I ready constantly.  Anyone who knows me will tell you that I rarely watch TV but my nose is almost always stuck in a book.  Because I know what it feels like to struggle reading and the lack of confidence that comes with it, I want to make sure that I stay on top of my kids' growth.  Ellie is on grade-level but I felt like she could benefit from some additional intervention to make her stronger and most importantly, more confident. With that in mind, she started Summer Literacy Academy  on Monday.

She will ride the bus to and from daycare each day, which is another major blessing! For some reason, I had a weird feeling on Monday even though I took her and all she had to do was ride back.  I completely trust the faculty and staff, but it was just maternal intuition.  The whole way there, we practiced telling teachers her name and the name of her daycare...just in case.  She had it down, but that feeling was still nagging me all day.  After lunch I texted daycare to make sure the had gotten off the bus ok.  Assuming I was overthinking it, I didn't really expected the response that I got back.  Luckily, I left my phone on my desk while I was elsewhere in the building so I didn't see the texts until it was all resolved.

Text One: said the bus hadn't arrived.

Text Two: said the bus had just gotten there but Ellie wasn't on it.

Text Three: said they found her and she had boarded the wrong bus.

Bless her heart, she was headed to the other side of the county.  The driver was gracious enough to take her back to daycare at the completion of her route, and I am so grateful!  Bless her little heart, she had no idea she was even lost.  She just thought it was a really long bus ride.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Holiday World 2019

This past weekend, Eric's work hosted its annual company picnic and we were treated to Holiday World!!  One of my little "goals" for the summer is to camp once a month.  It's fun, relaxing, and a great way to unplug and enjoy some family time.   For a few years now, we have been talking about camping at Lake Rudolph right next to Holiday World, so this was a great opportunity to go ahead and book our site.

If you ever find yourself in the middle of a drought and in need of some rain, just have me book a camping trip or baseball tournament because it never fails to pour.  Of course, this weekend was no different.  We left work early, picked up the kids, ate a quick lunch and hit the road.  We were lucky to get there between rain showers and quickly set up camp before the next round arrived.  

Typically, we cook when we camp but knew it would be a hassle since it was such a quick trip.  Instead, we trusted online reviews and found ourselves at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant a few towns over. I'm proud to say that it more than lived up to its hype.

After dinner, we went back to the camper and settled the kids in for bed.  Our normal routine is to bring some movies for them to watch while Eric and I sit outside and read, play games or talk.  There was supposed to be Wifi at the campground so we we skipped the movies with plans to stream something.  Turns out you can't stream videos!  Luckily, they were tired so after a few minutes of Netflix on the phone data, they were out!

Saturday was supposed to be a total washout, but it was dry in the morning so we headed straight to Holiday World after a quick breakfast.  The campground had a complimentary shuttle, but we opted to drive and were lucky enough to get second row parking.  We walked right in and were created by a charming little village with Santa waving from the balcony.

This was only my second trip to Holiday World and the first one was nine years ago.  I barely remember it, but it is quaint, clean and very well themed with attractions centered around holidays.

Disney has really spoiled our kids, but they loved the theming so much and kept saying it reminded them of certain aspects of Magic Kingdom such as the walk into the park.  It was also similar to rope-dropping at Disney, only much less crowd.  Similarly, we started by hitting up as many rides as possible.  Before noon we had enjoyed:

Old Fashioned Cars 
Star Spangled Carousel (Merry-Go-Round)
Frightful Falls (Log Flume)
Raging Rapids (Water Rapids)
Holidog Express (Kiddie Coaster)
Rough Riders (Bumper Cars)
Tippie Canoe (Kiddie Ride)
and the Eagle's Nest. (Adult Swing)

This also included several breaks to enjoy the free drinks and time to play and explore the children's area.  This is where Disney could learn from visiting other parks.  They have a fairly secluded area in the back of the park called Holidog's Fun Town.  The area boasts a large playground with a soft, rubber landing area underneath.  There is also a splash pad area, several small riders, a kiddie coaster, family restrooms, character meet and greets and benches for parents to rest. Because it was so secluded, it was easy to escape the heat and rest while the kiddos played.

As for lunch, Eric's company was hosted in a shelter area where we were treated to hotdogs, hamburgers, veggies, beans, mac n'cheese, and dessert.  Holidog also made an appearance but we were a little late catching him and didn't get a picture.  It was nice catching up with Eric's co-workers and getting recharged for our afternoon at the waterpark.  I am so grateful that we quite literally spent no money inside the park.  His company took care of all the details so that we were able to just enjoy being together as a family.  

After lunch we headed to Slashin' Safari, and as luck would have it, the sun decided to make a brief appearance.  I left my camera in the locker, so I don't have pictures to prove our fun, but it was a blast! We started with the Racer Slides at which point Eli somehow let his mat go down the slide.  He had to walk down the steps by himself while the rest of us rode down. He was not a bit happy about, and I think it will be a point of contention for years to come.  You see, Eli is a little hesitant to ride things while Ellie jumps in head first...both literally and figuratively. Anyway, he doesn't want to be outdone by a girl, so he makes excuses for bailing.  In this case, he "accidentally" let his mat go. Or so he says.

In any case, we headed to some kiddie slides after that fiasco.  The kids had a blast while Eric and I propped out feet up to relax and people watch.  After a good deal of time had passed, we headed to the wave pool and eventually made our way to ride the Wildebeast and the Mammoth.  They were amazing and each had relatively short lines, which I'm sure can be attributed to the weather.

After getting off of the Mammoth we were in route to another kid area when a major storm blew up.  It was torrential downpours, cloud to ground lightening and lots of thunder.  We took shelter under a picnic area and enjoyed talking with people from Bowling Green who we kept bumping into.  Thankfully, Eric had the foresight to look up the raincheck policy before leaving and saw that if operations suspend for more than 90 minutes prior to 4:00, all guests would receive a free ticket.

As luck would have it, the first storm rolled out about an hour after operations first shutdown and another storm was right on it's heels.  We could tell the staff was slowly closing things down, so we took our time changing into dry clothes and and browsing the gift shops.  We asked an employee in guest relations about the raincheck and she directed us to the front gates. On the way out, we stopped to pose for pictures and meet Santa.  We were thrilled when we spotted someone handing out tickets and even more thrilled to learn that the raincheck was good for any day this season! We contemplated going back the next day but decided against it once we saw the weather.  We play a baseball tournament in the area next month and decided to hold on to them until then. 

After leaving the park, we were famished and decided to head back into town for dinner. First we stopped to check on the camper and make sure there was no damage from the storm.  Finding everything well, we trusted the online reviews and headed to The Chateau.  Once again, the reviews were spot on the the buffet was delicious!  The kids particularly enjoyed the dessert and made multiple trips back through the line.

Back at the campsite, we let the kids play for a bit while we relaxed. Honestly, we did not get to enjoy the campground amenities as much as we would have liked because of the rain. There was a pool, two playgrounds, and putt-putt.  Thankfully, the smaller playground was right across from our site, so the kids could run around it a bit. Ellie and I were more than ready to shower when night finally came and found the facilities to be both warm and clean. We were so worn out that once the kids were asleep, Eric and I were right behind them.

On Sunday morning we slept as late as possible before packing up and hitting the road.  Again, we dodged the rain and made it home in enough time to enjoy a quiet Sunday.  It really was a nice trip despite the rain.  I mean, how can we complain after we put in a full-day at the park and still got a raincheck.  We can't wait to go back!

Monday, May 27, 2019

These Are Life Lessons

Have you read the poem "When You Give A Boy A Baseball?" If not, you should. It's sweet and sentimental and the kind of thing that will have a t-ball mom in tears just thinking about Senior Night.  

It's also true, but if I'm being honest, it's just a picture of the sport through rose-colored glasses.

You see, I grew up in a football family and am far from an athlete myself, so my only exposure to sporting events was under the Friday Night lights of high school stadiums where it was perfectly acceptable to yell things like "Break their legs," or "Knock their heads off."  Trust me when I say that those phrases do not translate well into the baseball world, so it's advisable to omit them from your vocabulary.

My first experience with baseball, other than my brother's  t-ball team (which by the way, was played on fields at the local airport) came during my engagement as I accompanied by sweet husband-to-be to watch to his nephew play in the Kentucky World Series.  For starters, it was mid-July and I wore blue jeans.  I took no water, no snacks, no sun screen. I took nothing other than a tube of lipstick for touch-ups and a tiny baggie of grapes that I pack into my purse in case I got hungry during the game. Clearly, no one prepared me for the fact "game" was actually plural.  Let's just say that I was less than impressed with this thing they call "travel baseball."  As luck would have it, my nephew's team won and advanced into the next round.  This meant we got to stay all night.  But we had no clothes, and I had the priviledge of sharing a hotel bed with my mother-in-law since Eric and I were not married at the time. All is well that ends well, but let's just say that I was "baptized by fire" into this baseball world and none too impressed with the sport.

But that was all changed by a scrappy little blonde boy whose first word was "ball."  He carried bat and glove on every outing we took and was known to improvise with a walnut and stick.  He once threw an orange across the grocery store while I was shopping and has broken a tv while also putting a few holes in the drywall. He spent hours playing in the "sandlot" in our back yard and watched movies like "Rookie of the Year" and  :Angels In The Outfield" obessively.

He loved the game, so I loved the game. 

He could throw rocks into the air and hit them with a bat before he turned three years old.  He was a standout in t-ball, which basically means he knew which direction to run bases, and his Pee Wee team made it to the finals where they played on a college campus.  At seven he was asked to join a travel team, and through it all, he never stopped loving the game.

It's what made is momma cheer and his sister proud.  It's the bond he shared with his daddy.  It was the "normal" in our lives when things were anything but normal.  It's what drove him through the injuries and the batting slumps, through the losses and wins.

And then, that light slowly dimmed. 

It dimmed as voices of influences became harsh in the name of the almighty win.  It dimmed as the batting slump turned into team losses and team losses turned into personal doubts. And in the middle of it all, I've caught myself yelling in the name of motivation instead of encouraging him through the hard part.

Yesterday, I was expressing my frustration at this whole charade as the dugout started to clear out, and that's when  I looked cross the field and saw a defeated young man standing where that confident blonde boy had stood not so long ago.  After after taking a few minutes to catch my breath, I looked into  eyes of a nine year old and asked him if it was time to walk away from the game.  First he said, "yes," but no sooner had the words escaped his lips before doubt shadowed his eyes.  The emotional struggle was written all over his face when he grabbed by hand and said, "Mom, I don't really want to quit.  I just want to do better."

And that's when it clicked.  Baseball (or any activity for that matter) isn't about the wins and losses. It's about everything that happens in between.  We say it all the time, but do we mean it?  

One day, he won't be standing at the plate waiting to swing his bat.  He will be standing in the conference room waiting to share his project.  His team won't be made up of dirty-faced little boys but of tie-wearing colleagues hoping for success.  He won't stand on the mound taking a deep breath to focus before he throws a pitch.  Instead, he will take those same breaths as he focuses on meeting a deadline or presenting a project.  The WE will be more important than the ME, and he will have baseball to thank for that.

When he strikes out again and again as he works his way through life, he will know how to adjust.  He won't "choke up and get on it early," but he will know how to battle.  He won't let the fear of striking out get in his way. He will know that there are others who are more talented than he is, but that hard work makes the victory so much sweeter.

He will know that sometimes the calls go in your favor and sometimes they are flat out bogus, but you respect who's in charge and adjust. Most importantly, he will know that  no matter how many wins or how many losses, no matter how many home runs or how many strikeouts, he will always have one fan who never stops cheering, never stops showing up, and never stops reminding him how amazing he is.

So as we battle through this season, I will choose to see the teachable moments because after all, the nine year boy will soon be a man.  Win and losses won't matter but the lessons learned on the field will carry him through a lifetime.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Slow Down

Here’s to you 

You were pink or blue 
And everything I wanted

Here’s to you 
Never sleeping through 
From midnight till the morning 
Had to crawl before you walked, before you ran.
Before I knew it, 
You were trying to free your fingers from my hand 
‘Cause you could do it on your own now 

But do you think somehow, you could...
Slow down 

Here’s to you 

Every missing tooth 
Every bedtime story 

Here’s to Barbie cars, light saber wars 
And sleeping in on Sunday 

Had to crawl before you walked, before you ran.
Before I knew it,
You were teaching me 
The only thing love can...

Hold hands through it. 

When it’s scary, you’ve got me

But slow down 
Won’t you stay here a minute more 
I know you wanna walk through the door 

But it’s all too fast 

Let’s make it last a little while 

I pointed to the sky and now you wanna fly 

I am your biggest fan 
I hope you know I am 
But do you think you can somehow...
Slow down

Thursday, May 2, 2019

May Day Or Mayday?!?!

Do ya'll remember way back in January when I promised to be a better blogger?  Yeah, I know. Basically, I have totally failed at that little commitment.

Two things happened today that made me realize I need to step up my "mom game." For starters, Ellie got sick at school and when Eric picked her up, she told him that I had to send her because I am too busy at work to take off.  Talk about a dagger to the heart. I rarely have "working mom" guilt, but ya'll, that was kinda brutal!!

In full discloser, she told me her stomach was upset but I ignored it and instead told her the story of the "Boy Who Cried Wolf."  Eli chimed in as well cause the Watsons are "suck it buttercup" kind of people. Ellie whines so much and complains of tummy aches anytime she has to do chores, clean up her room, wake up before she's ready or participate in any activity she deems unworthy of her time, so I really didn't think much of it. Apparently she threw up just a few minutes after I dropped her off...Mom of the Year right here.

Later I was putting school activities on my calendar and realized how out of the loop I've been since I stopped blogging consistently. There are just so many gaps, so many memories that haven't been preserved.  It's time (once again) to change that. I know, I've heard the same empty promises before, but this time, it's for me.

It's because I woke up and realized my kindergartener thinks I work too much and my fourth grader is almost out of elementary school.  It's because when I blog, I take time to see the beauty in the ordinary moments, commemorate the big moments, and find joy in the tough moments.  It's because whether good or bad, these are my memories, my days, my babies, and I don't want to look back and realize that I missed one tiny thing.

So here's to blogging, spring and summer days spent making memories and a little memoir of how it all played out...the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Disney World 2019: Day Four

Tuesday was our first park day with the entire family, and I must say that traveling as a group of 10 was easier than I expected.  Last summer we all went to the beach.  It was wonderful and we can't wait to do it again, but it was also difficult to separate and do our own thing because we worried about offending someone or others being bored.  With Disney, that just wasn't the case.  We had things we did together as a large group, other times we kinda paired off into smaller groups, and sometimes we were we separated by family unit.  No matter what, everyone was entertained and that was key to a relaxing trip. 

We ended up walking nearly 11 miles on Animal Kingdom Day and left the park completely exhausted but in the very best kind of way! Every time we visit this park it grows on us a little more and our kids absolutely agreed that this was one of the very best days they had this trip.  Suffice to say, my advice is to ignore what you read about it being a "half day park."  Disney has done an amazing job making it more of an all-day adventure than it was even a few years ago! I suggest to slow the pace a bit, take some rests, enjoy the scenery and have fun!!

Just like we did every day of this trip, we started off by rope dropping.  We timed it well because as soon as we entered the park, we headed to Pandora-World of Avatar.  We had Fast Passes (FP) for Flight of Passage, so we skipped that impossibly long line and went straight for Na'Vi River Journey.  There was absolutely no wait and we walked right on the ride. Back out in the parks, it was virtually crowd free thanks to the early morning hours and large masses of people headed to Avatar Flight of Passage.

We took full advantage and headed to Dinoland USA where Eli and I walked straight onto Prime Evil Whirl while Eric and Ellie took a trip on the Triceratops Spin.  For good measure, we took a family ride on it as well before heading to Expedition Everest. We actually had a FP for it later in the day, but there was no wait, so we hopped on.  It was a first for both kids.  Eli absolutely hated it, but Ellie thought it was one of the greatest things she had ever ridden.  She's such a dare-devil!

We had just gotten off the ride when my brother and his family walked up to use their FP, so we watched Austin while they rode. While we waited, we enjoyed a popcorn refill and then headed as a group to Kali River Rapids.  Again, there was no wait and I can't remember the last time I had so much fun on a single ride.  We had the time of our lives laughing at the kids who were all experiencing the ride for the first time.  I got SOAKED and the kids loved it.

We all met my sister and her family at Kilimanjaro Safaris.  The kids once again loved everything about it, especially getting to ride it with their cousins.  It was a FANTASTIC first experience for Austin and Beau because I don't recall ever getting to see so many animals up close.  Even the lions were moving around.  It was a blast and I would say that it's a must do every year!

After our little adventure, we split up and the Watson clan went to enjoy a FP on Avatar Flight of Passage.  It was a "first" for both Eli and Ellie, and they loved it.  I think the story line in the Stand-By Que had Ellie a little nervous, so Eric and I set her between us.  In true "Daddy" fashion, Eric held her hand once the ride started and she was fine. If you do nothing else at Disney, this ride is a MUST!  It can't be missed.  It's our very favorite in Animal Kingdom and we're all still talking about it! 

We headed back to Asia after Flight of Passage and tried Yak and Yeti.  To clarify, there is a sit down restaurant and a quick-service counter.  We chose the latter and Eric ordered while the kids and I staked out a table. I will say that the seating area is outdoors and would be almost unbearably hot in the summer months. It was fine for a spring visit, but just and FYI for any summer travelers.  The meal was good, but not the best I've ever had at Disney World.  Of course, I will recap that a little later. 

Here's a fun little tidbit about the table area near the restaurant.  When we went back in 2015, Eli was five and Ellie was two.  They were both much too small for several rides, so Eric and I would take turns riding stuff. We swapped on Kali River Rapids and while we waited, I took the kids to a little fountain area where Ellie napped in her stroller and Eli played with a leaf in the water.  To date, it is once of my favorite Disney memories.  We were just taking in all in and my babies.  Look how much this sweet boy has grown!

After lunch we tried to get in at Festival of the Lion King, but missed the seating by a few minutes.  While we waited, we headed to It's Tough To Be a Bug.  I knew Ellie wouldn't remember it, and the little prissy thing was so wigged out which was part of the fun because Eli was scared of everything else we wanted to do.  In true big brother fashion, he aggravated the snot out of her trying to make her thinks bugs were crawling all over her.  

The timing worked out great and we took our time making it back to see Festival of Lion King.  Ya'll, do NOT miss this show.  It's unbelievable!!  I get emotional every time we see it, and the whole family loves it.  It's amazing, interactive, a dark place to cool off and just an incredible experience. 

The show ended in plenty of time for us to watch the Up! A Great Bird Adventure Show.  It's basically the same type of show they've always had but they do a good job incorporating the characters of Up!  It's just ok in my opinion, but my kids enjoyed it and it was a nice place to sit while we rested and enjoyed some frozen treats. 

By this point in the day, it was the weird time it's too late to leave and come back because if you sit for even one more minute, you'll crash.  But it's also a little to early to leave for the day.  So we just kind let the kids tell us what they wanted to do.  They both wanted another trip on Kali River Rapids, so we agreed. After that, I took Eli for some quality time Prime Evil Whirl while Eric treated Ellie to our favorite desserts at Satu'li Canteen in Pandora. He texted me a picture while we were in line, and I was so jealous!  Lucky for us, he got me and Eli one when we met them after the ride.

That was about the point we all agreed we were done, so we grabbed a photo in front of the Tree of Life before heading out of the park.  We ended up running into my siblings and their families on our way out and made a plan to grad pizza back at the resort and then meet for an evening swim at the main pool.  It was such an exhausting day, buy also so wonderful!!