Tag Archives: family

War Crimes

21 Apr

I like to tell my kids this is a benevolent dictatorship…and I kind of run a communist style ship around here, if I’m being honest. Everybody shares everything, too bad if you don’t like it, no soup for you, I’m not sorry.

 

So, seeing as I’m basically my family’s Vladimir Putin and all, I thought I’d take a little time to charge some folks for some war crimes. As one does.

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Maggie, age 6

 

Charged with Inciting Panic. You know that hour right after dinner when you’re completely exhausted from being an adult all day and the act of pretending like you’ve got your life together is really taking its toll? You know…it’s the hour when you feel as though all the life blood has been sucked from your body by a parasite and you’re about to fall into an unbathed pile of exhaustion. This is the hour in which she strikes. She will sneakily lure unsuspecting younger siblings to the stairs and whisper potty jokes to them, convincing them that screaming “poopy diaper head” in the faces of your dinner guests is a good idea. She will laugh maniacally while forcing you to listen to yet another knock-knock joke. Under the guise of entertaining her little brother, she will start a game of “chase” in which someone most certainly will be tripped and maimed. She will insist on leading the others in illegal games of “jump all over the damn couch even though Mom told us eight thousand times not to” and “let’s all violently wrestle until Lily’s hair gets pulled and she shrieks like a banshee.”

 

 

Lily, age 3 

 

Charged with Harassment and Stalking. She’s kind of the least offender because I truly believe that her intentions are pure…but she’s always there. She’ll demand to help with every single task ever of all time. Have some strong chemicals you want to clean with? She’ll pour. Have a sharp knife you’d like to chop with? She’ll show you how it’s done. Have some detailed sewing to be done? She’ll hold the needles. Have to finish your taxes? She’ll file ’em for ya. Have some sleep you’d like to get? She’s in your bed. However, if you actually ask her to help with a task she’s so uninterested it’s not even funny. Chores to be done? Nah, she’ll sit an observe the other fools and cry rather than comply.

 

Also, she’s an accessory to every other crime committed. She’s not usually the mastermind (…yet. Kid’s brilliant, so once she realizes her powers I have no doubt that she’ll use them for evil), but she’s usually coerced into helping, so we’ll let her off with a lighter sentence and call it good.

 

 

Everett, age 2

 

Charged with Aggravated Assault. Even his hugs hurt. Gentlemen visiting our home are advised to wear an athletic cup in order to protect themselves from the colossal skull that will crush their testicles approximately ninety-seven times during their visit. Also, watch for flying dump trucks being launched down the stairs, blocks torpedoed toward faces, and strategically placed Hot Wheels that were definitely not under your feet a second ago, but most certainly are under your feet now that you’re carrying a lot of stuff. The perpetrator has been known to climb basically anything with an elevation of…off the ground. So, watch for falling boys, as well.

Also, while we’re at it, let’s charge him with Indecent Exposure and Disorderly Conduct. You know, for good measure. And ’cause he never wears pants.

 

Remy, age 8 months

Charged with Disturbing the Peace. Bro doesn’t sleep. Or rather, he sleeps, but only long enough to give you the illusion that you’re going to be able to get something done. He’ll nap juuuust long enough for you to get right into the deep disgusting middle of finally cleaning out the refrigerator and then he strikes. It basically goes on like that ad nauseam.

 

Alright, so that’s my legal work done for the day. Time to go dole out punishments! Mwuahahahaha!

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How to do Disney with Small Children

22 Mar

Okay, friends, here’s my Disney How-To post at long last! So, I’ve geared my info/advice toward those traveling with small kids because that’s my most recent experience and my particular area of expertise. Obviously, if you don’t have small children, ignore the parts about breastfeeding and naps and carry on.

 

Here we go!

 

 

Go Ahead, Take ‘Em When They’re Young – Everyone always says they want to wait to take their kids to Disney until they’re old enough to remember it. I get it, Disney is expensive. But kids 3 and under are free…so go ahead and take ’em when they’re young if you want. In my opinion, I don’t think a trip is any less valuable if my kid doesn’t remember every single detail in a few years. Did we have fun in the moment? Did we enjoy each other at the time? Did the entire family have a good time? Do I remember how cute they looked riding Dumbo with their wispy baby hair blowing in the breeze? If the answer is yes, then I’m cool. Now, you may differ on this if you’re only going to go to Disney World one time in your whole entire life. But if you’re like us and you know you’re probably going to be back at some point, just go ahead and take the babes.

 

 

Do it Big – If you’re going to go to Disney, my suggestion is to do it big. Go into it knowing that it’s going to be expensive. Trust me, the convenience is worth your money. Disney has a reputation for making things super convenient for guests. They’ve thought of everything, and while it might cost a little more money, take advantage of it. It truly makes for an awesome vacation. Disney isn’t cheap. I know that there are cheaper ways to do it, and if that’s your thing, go for it. But, in our experience, it just made for a better experience if we budgeted a lot of money ahead of time, paid for as much in advance as we could, and didn’t stress about money once we got there. Mickey Premiums for everyone!!

And speaking of snacks, go ahead and get the meal plan. This lets you prepay for all of your meals and it truly makes feeding a horde of toddlers a lot easier.It’s just one less thing for you to think about. You’ll get two quick service meals, one sit-down meal, and a snack per ticketed person per day. That’s a lot. You can also use it however you’d like. So, in our situation, we didn’t buy a ticket for Everett, so he technically wasn’t covered under the meal plan. But we could use an extra kid’s meal every day for him if we wanted to and then split our sit-down meals into extra quick-service meals or snacks later on. Basically, it’s fairly flexible and it was plenty of food for errabody. (Edited to add: There are a few different choices as far as the dining plan goes, this was just the option we chose. Make sure you check out all the different meal plans when you book your fantastic vacay!)

As far as where to eat, the one place we think is not to be missed is Whispering Canyon at the Wilderness Lodge. Aside from the fact that it’s located in my favorite resort, this place is SO fun. They have stick ponies that the kids get to ride around and there are lots of surprise shenanigans I won’t spoil here. Basically, if you can handle a joke and like a big breakfast, this is your spot. We love it!

Stay on property. The Disney resorts have amazing amenities and buses will take you wherever you need to be. If you’re flying, they’ll pick you up from the airport and drop your bags at your room for you. AND you can check your bags and get your boarding passes right at the resort, when it’s time to leave.

Stay for a week. It’s probably still not enough time to do everything but I think a week is the right amount of time to get the most out of an experience without pushing your kids too far. A week gives you time to spend at least one day at each park and then a couple of extra days to go back and redo the things you loved or pick up stuff you missed.

 

Don’t Do Everything – A huge part of our culture is consumed by Fear of Missing Out. We’re also ruled by scarcity, that feeling that there’s never enough time, money, whatever. If you let yourself be sucked into these mindsets, your Disney trip will suck. Say it with me, “I don’t have to do everything in order to have a good time.” Y’all, it is physically impossible to do everything that the Disney parks and resorts offer in one vacation…unless by “vacation” you mean, “I’m moving to Disney World and living there for five years.” It’s just not doable. So, borrow from Brene Brown and write yourself a permission slip. Yes, physically write a slip that says “I give myself permission to not do everything at Disney.”

On our trip we did not see fireworks once. Not one time. Also, we didn’t meet Mickey Mouse. Or the princesses. Nope. We certainly didn’t. Were those things that we kinda wanted to do? Sure. But doing those things was not worth pushing our children or ourselves to the point of absolute misery. It just didn’t work out and that’s okay.

Before your trip, make a list of your must-do’s, your maybe’s, and your whatever’s. Book your fastpasses for the things that you’re absolutely dying to do and then let. it. go. Some days in the parks just don’t play out the way you think they will. Sometimes attractions are closed, shows get cancelled, kids/parents meltdown, lines are long, lunch takes more time than you anticipated…whatever. Just release yourself from the idea that you have to do everything and be flexible. I promise you’ll have a lot more fun.

 

Be Kind – On our first full day on vacation we witnessed a woman freak out on her husband and in-laws at the bus stop. Her father-in-law accidentally told the bus driver that they were taking another bus. I’m not going to pass judgement on this girl. I’m sure she had put in months of planning, weeks of packing and organizing, and had dealt with whiny kids and long breakfast lines that morning. Also, we all know it’s hard to travel with a big group. But, guys, it completely broke my heart to see her be so ugly to her family. We’ve all done it, though. We get wound too tight and just snap and lash out at people.

If you find yourself being ugly, feeling indescribably grouchy, or just generally being a hag, you’re probably trying to do too much. Take a step back and chill out. This is your vacation. It seems like it’s high stakes because it’s Disney and you spent a lot of money and you’re tired, but it’s just a vacation. If you’re wound too tight, it’ll suck. Your family wants to remember that time you all got soaked in the rain and then rode Splash Mountain and got soaked again, not the time you wigged out on Grandpa at the bus stop. Give yourself some grace and be nice.

 

Take Advantage of Playgrounds – Kids implode if they don’t get unstructured playtime. It’s a fact. So take advantage of the awesome playgrounds on Disney property. I promise you won’t be “missing out” on anything by taking some time for free play (see above).

Most resorts have at least one small playground and several pools. The “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” playground at Hollywood Studios is awesome, as is the Boneyard in Dinoland at Animal Kingdom (it was actually closed when we visited, but I do know that it’s been renovated and is amazing). I’ve overheard people in the parks telling their kids that “you can slide at home,” and while that may be true, these playgrounds are way better than the one that’s down the street from your house.

Things to know: These playgrounds are big, y’all. Like, I sort of got nervous that I’d lose a kid in the “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” one because it’s all tunnels and climbing webs and there’s just one of me and four zillion kids, so try to plan this when you’ll have an extra set of hands. Know that children are never allowed to exit the playground area without an adult; there are cast members at the exits to ensure this, so that’s good. My observations were that a 5 or 6 year old would probably be completely fine on their own in these playgrounds. Lily (3) was cool to hang with Maggie, but that was contingent upon Maggie slowing down for her. Vin followed Ev (2) around, and they handled the thing just fine (says the woman who didn’t have to bear crawl through tunnels).

 

Split Up – If you’re traveling with little guys, odds are you’re not all going to be able or want to do the same things for the entire trip. That’s okay. Really. We ended up splitting up quite a bit of the time. Now, we have a bit of an unfair advantage at Disney because we know the parks like the back of our hands, having worked there. You can just study up on some maps and be cool, I bet. Either way, we had a great time with Vin taking kids to do bigger or scarier rides while I hung onto the guys who either weren’t tall enough or were scared or otherwise uninterested. This basically means that everybody gets to do fun stuff at the same time without feeling like they’re being held back. While Vin and Maggie waited for Tower of Terror, the little guys and I saw Voyage of the Little Mermaid (during which Ev fell asleep and I ended up carrying him out while wearing Remy and herding Lil…I get a Mama Merit Badge for that one!), changed diapers, and saw some characters. While the big guys did Mine Train, we met Merida, rode the Teacups, and did Small World. Split up and everybody wins.

 

Don’t forget that you can get Rider Switch passes that allow one parent to wait with smaller kids and then go through the fastpass entrance and ride when the other parent returns. Easy peasy.

 

Breastfeed During Shows – If you’ve got a baby like mine, nursing under a cover is basically like trying to feed a greased squid under a tarp. Also, Florida is hot and humid. So basically, as far as nursing covers go, ain’t nobody got time for that. Here’s my perfect solution for you. Get yourself to Voyage of the Little Mermaid or Country Bear Jamboree or whatever show you’d like and just nurse the baby in there. I’ve gotten really good at nursing modestly without a cover, but the extra privacy of sitting in an actual chair in the relative darkness is pretty great. Obviously, this won’t work every single time your baby needs to eat, but when you can time it right, nursing during a show is gold.

 

Bring Extra Shoes and Socks  – It rains in Florida. A lot. So my advice to you is to take a pair of athletic shoes for everyone (with extra socks) and also to bring along some waterproof shoes. We’re a Croc family. Crocs are especially good in the parks because they won’t fall off as easily as flip flops and they dry a lot faster than most other sandals.

 

Maybe Skip Epcot – I love Epcot as much as the next guy. I worked there for a while and absolutely adored my time there. However, if you’re traveling with preschoolers, I’d advise you to think about skipping it or maybe just doing a half-day there. Lily’s face in the photo below is basically how we all felt at the end of the day.

 

There are a few things of interest to the preschool set at Epcot (The Seas, Journey into Imagination, Test Track if they’re tall enough), but there wasn’t enough to hold our kids’ interest for an entire day. We went early for Extra Magic Hours thinking we’d show them around the World Showcase…but that was closed. Sad trombone. There are some cool characters at Epcot (like Baymax and Mary Poppins) but the lines were consistently long and our little guys just didn’t have the patience for it. So, yes I love Epcot, but no I don’t love Epcot with preschoolers and toddlers. Spend another day at Magic Kingdom and be happy that you did.

So, there’s some insight into how we did Disney with the babes. Thoughts? What did I forget?? Hit me up in the comments!

xoxo,
Mary Susan

Bottle It

29 Dec

This Christmas season was (is) one of the best to date. I’m just so blessed, so privileged. And it’s funny because sometimes it takes a special occasion like Christmas to make me stop and realize just how fortunate I am. I’ve really enjoyed all of the cookie baking, gift wrapping and opening, seeing family, all the wonderful things that accompany this time of year. But if I could bottle a moment and keep it forever, it’d be Christmas Eve.

 

More specifically it’d be getting ready for Mass on Christmas Eve.
Big surprise, we were running late. I had planned to meet Vin’s family at the 6 pm children’s Mass and I was in the zone because our church is huge and seats fill up like Bono’s playing on Christmas Eve. Big surprise again, but Vin was called in to work instead of getting the day off, so the poor guy made it home just in time to change clothes, throw some dresses on the girls and load everybody up. I was frantically running around trying to wake people up from naps that were somehow going super-long (because why wouldn’t they nap longer when I need them to wake up?). Ev needed to be fed, so naturally I was rushing around like a crazy person in my dress pants and bra. (And by “dress pants” I mean the maternity pants I’m still convincing myself are acceptable to wear because they’re black and I’m pathetic. Don’t judge and whatever you do don’t tell Stacy London. I’ll stop, I promise.) By all counts this had a “Mary Susan Melt-Down” written all over it. This is the exact thing that sends me over the edge every. single. time.

 

But miraculously, the girls woke up from their naps in good moods. This isn’t normal. Usually Maggie is spitting nails when she wakes up from a nap. But Christmas Eve was different. Both girls were pleasant! Ev ate and was happy to be in his swing and while Vin got the girls wrangled into tights, I ran upstairs to frantically scrounge the floor for a semi-clean dressy-ish shirt to wear to Mass.

 

And that’s when it started. The Delagrange Dance Party. This is Vin’s signature move and one of the reasons I love him with all my heart. The man loves a dance party and he’s one hell of a DJ. As I ran downstairs, still shirtless because the floor was a fruitless endeavor, I was greeted with the sight of my half-dressed family dancing like maniacs to “Don’t Drop That Thun Thun” (the clean version, don’t worry hip-hop fans).

 

 

 

 

And, oh my gosh, was that a beautiful sight. All of my stress about finding a seat at church and meeting up with the family and having food ready for people after Mass and staying up wrapping presents and, and, and…all of that melted away. And we all danced like fools because that’s what we do.

 

And when Vin seamlessly segued into “Wake Me Up” and the girls grabbed our hands and led us in a circle complete with a Cinderella Barbie, it was the most perfect moment of all.

 

 

 

 

I just want to bottle that time. I want to be able to keep those minutes in a crystal vial like Harry Potter and dive into them whenever I want, just to feel the magic of it all again. I never want to forget what it feels like to stop caring about the pointless pressures I put on myself and just be with my family. If I had a bottle full of that moment I would sip it all the time so I could just take in that feeling of joy, fill myself up with the giggling and the exhilaration that can only come from dancing around in your bra – kind of wild, but kind of vulnerable, too. I would drink in that feeling of connectedness, of a moment when I just let go and enjoyed them and we held hands and Ev laughed at us all from his swing.

 

Gosh, that was a perfect moment.

 

One of my New Year’s Resolutions (because I love New Year’s Resolutions) is to be more open to moments like that. I know I shut down a lot of fun because of my own self-consciousness and obsession with societal pressures and expectations. I worry a lot about doing what’s “right” and what’s “expected” when I should really embrace the fact that we’re a family that dances in our underwear. We’re a family that blares hip-hop music on Christmas Eve. We’re late for Mass, when we actually get there. Our clothes aren’t the fanciest and some of us are still wearing giant elastic pants that we have no business being in. We’re so special and wonderful. We are so perfect for each other, it’s obvious that we belong to each other. I’d be an absolute fool to want to trade any of that for “normalcy” or punctuality or whatever it is I’ve convinced myself is necessary. An absolute fool.

 

I hope you had a perfect moment this Christmas. I hope you had a moment that made you pause and think, “This, this is what it’s all about” and vow to never forget that feeling. What was it? What’s the most recent memory you want to bottle up and keep?

Gloriousness

26 Aug

Some things are just good for the soul. I submit that using a clothesline is one of those things.

 

I can honestly testify that since the installation of my clothesline, my morale has improved tenfold. There’s just something incredibly satisfying about the act of using a clothesline. The time spent outside, the art of a neatly arranged line, the smell…everything about it is wonderful.

 

We’re doing our best to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle. Yes, I know, “sustainable” is one of those obnoxious words that gets thrown around by hipsters and politicians to sound cool and get votes. However, Vin and I have been doing a lot of thinking lately about the kind of life, education, and world we want to give our girls and sustainability is a huge part of our vision. We want to be as self-sufficient as possible, to raise children who know where their food comes from and who take an active role in growing/preparing it, to live as simply and frugally as possible, and to show our children that the world is their classroom. We want to encourage Mags and Lil to become life long learners…and to jump off their soap boxes as soon as they realize they’ve gone on a ridiculous tangent that leaves blog readers utterly comatose.

 

I digress. Back to the clothesline. Here are my top tips for using one…Go install one. Do it now!

 

 

 

  • Check the weather! I love this aspect of drying outside. It forces me to be more in tune with the weather, thus planning our day better. Plus, sometimes I like to risk it because I enjoy the high I get from racing a storm to get the sheets in. What can I say? I live on the edge, people.
  • Hang like items together. That way, A.) your line looks all snazzy so your neighbors can look at it and say, “How nice that clothesline looks! Methinks I shall install one, as well, and be in the Cool Clothesline Club! I shall also make club jackets and then hang them from said clothesline! Huzzah!” and B.) it makes life easier for when you…
  • …fold your clothes as you take them down. This step has singlehandedly caused me to do more laundry and to actually, gasp, put it away! It’s ridiculously efficient and makes me happy in my heart where Jesus lives.
  • Enjoy the spectacular smell of line-dried clothes. Enjoy those clothes longer since they’re not going through the wear and tear of dryer use. Do be careful with colors, though, as the sun can make things fade…
  • …including poo stains from cloth diapers! Know that I’m not lying when I tell you that I legitimately watched poo stains disappear from Lily’s diapers. It was kind of like those Magic Nursery Baby dolls (I had the twins because my mom and dad loved me so much and ohmygosh they came in a wearable preggo tummy that kicked and had a heartbeat and was incredibly bizarre now that I think of it.) who had that heart on their face that would fade with warm water only it was poo and the sun. Aaaanyway, white as snow, people. White. As. Snow.
  • Hang clothes from the part that will be least observed when worn. In other words, shirts from the bottom, skirts from the waist, etc.
  • Put towels in the dryer on air fluff for about ten minutes prior to hanging so they’re fluffy right off the line.
  • Dread the winter, which will ruin all your fun. Le sigh.
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