SciFi Mama

Adventures in raising a geeky child

WOW October 3, 2011

Filed under: friends,Mommy,vacation — scifimama @ 8:47 pm

I can’t begin to say how wonderful this past weekend was. I’ve been friends with these ladies since we were pregnant with our now 5 year olds. So for the past 6 years we’ve known each other online. a couple of them I had already met in person. That tends to happen when you meet online and realize I live 2 miles from your parents. I had met 3 of the 5 other women going. I had technically never met Caroline in person. But I had talked to her on the phone, texted, emailed, even sent care packages. I gelt I knew her pretty well going into the trip. One of the other ladies hadn’t really had tons of contact with, but was excited to get to meet as well.

We all arrived on Friday afternoon. There wasn’t any awkwardness it was just 6 women chatting and heading out to dinner. We spent the weekend talking, shopping, and eating among other things. Books were read. Blankets were partially crocheted. Beaches were walked upon.

Getting to spend the weekend with my Internet friends was wonderful. It was so much fun we’re doing it next year in New Orleans. This time we decided to let our husbands come too. That may have something to do with my husband cooking for us but I’m not sure.

I went back to work today with Vacation Hangover. Now on to the next vacation. For Thanksgiving me, Ronnie and Paige are going to DC to meet up with others from that same Mommy board.

 

Vacations are good June 29, 2011

Filed under: Family,vacation — scifimama @ 4:51 am

We had a really good time on our mini vacation.  We started at the Gulf Shores Zoo.  It’s a nice zoo and very small.  After some time playing and petting the baby animals the girls, Paige and our niece Emily, each rode a camel.  After a quick lunch we headed back to the hotel.  We spent some good quality time in the pool before doing a small bit of shopping.  It was Ronnie, Paige, me, our niece Emily, Ronnie’s mom Nancy and his grandmother Emo.  Ronnie and I snuck away for some window shopping that turned into me getting a nice new purse.  It was just a relaxing day all around.

Sunday morning we offered to bring Emily back home with us.  She and Paige were playing well together despite their age difference (13 and 5) so we thought more time together would be good for them.  Nancy’s house is just a couple miles off my usual route to work, allowing me to drop Emily off Monday morning before making it all the way in to work.  It seemed like a perfect arrangement for all of us.  Thanks to Nancy picking Paige up on her way to the beach we drove out with no kids, and came back with two.  Adding the second kid was wonderful!

Emily and Paige played together, peacefully, for hours.  Literally, for hours.  They were playing so quietly in her room that we almost forgot they were even there!  About the time we were getting used to the quiet one of them would come in the living room headed for the kitchen and some sort of snack.  It was so quiet I was even able to clean and reorganize both the pantry and the fridge.  I cleaned out some canned goods we won’t use and took them to the food drive at work.  I even baked cookies and blueberry muffins!  It was amazing to get so much done.

It was so nice that we’re getting Emily back.  Friday evening I’ll pick her up on my way home from work and we’ll keep her for a week.  Her other grandmother lives in the same town as us so she’ll go visit with her during the day and stay with us in the evenings.  That way she’s not sitting here at the house bored all day with nothing to do.  I should find something else to call her besides kid.  She’s 13 now and definitely no longer a kid.

 

The Weekend Vacation June 24, 2011

Filed under: Family,vacation — scifimama @ 8:04 am

This year we aren’t taking one big family vacation. Instead we are taking several weekend vacations that are within driving distance. This weekend we are driving down to Gulf Shores.

We’ll spend the weekend going to the zoo, the beach, and hanging out at the pool. Nothing huge but a nice little get away. It’s meant to be a relaxing trip not a go nonstop trip. I come back from those trips needing a vacation to recover from my vacation.

Later this summer Ronnie and I will take a longer trip to Tampa. We’re planning on taking a 4 day trip down there in September to see the Red Sox play. We’re both big Red Sox fans and can’t wait to go. Then the last weekend in September I have my girls weekend trip to meet up with some friends.

We may add something else to our weekend vacation schedule before the summer is out. I’m pretty sure I see a trip to New Orleans in our future as well. These smaller trips are easier on our budget and are just enough to give us a change of pace and enjoy ourselves.

 

Packing Tips December 30, 2010

Filed under: vacation — scifimama @ 5:35 am

There’s a few things I’ve learned over the past several months.  I’ve traveled a lot in my life.  The majority of those times when I was single and didn’t have a child.  I could toss most of what I needed for a day out in my map case I’ve had since my Army days.  I can still do that from time to time depending on our activities for the day.  And technology has definitely changed since the early 90’s when I started my adventures on my own.  How and what I pack has evolved.  As I downsized to a smaller vehicle it became more important to pick what to take very carefully.

Do I need it or do I want it?  There’s some things that we take on vacation with us thinking it’s something we just have to have.  That’s not always the case.  How many pairs of jeans do you really need to take?  At home I usually wear my jeans twice before washing them.  When I’m on vacation I do the same, for the most part.  I do like to pack an extra pair just in case.  Typically I pack one extra set of clothes for me and Ronnie, and two extra sets for Paige.  She’s a very messy child who can get filthy just by looking out the window.  We keep toiletry bags mostly packed.  I manage that by using travel size shampoo and conditioner that don’t need to stay in the shower, and by using old items.  When it’s time to buy new face cleanser there’s still probably a weeks worth still in the old bottle.  I put the new cleanser in the shower and put the old one in my toiletry bag.  It’s still perfectly good and can be used.  Another advantage to taking the almost used up cleanser is that if I leave it at the hotel by accident, I haven’t lost a full bottle of Clinique cleanser that’s more expensive to replace.

Technology has definitely changed the way I pack.  Who needs an atlas anymore?  I just use the GPS built into my iPhone.  I’m behind the times in not having a separate GPS for my car, but I don’t need it that often.  Or at least not often enough to justify actually buying a GPS, I would rather upgrade to iPhone 4 instead.  I print out a map from Mapquest then put it into my phone.  That way someone else can help navigate while I drive if I’m on the phone. Other things have changed as well, like my camera.  I don’t have to worry about having enough 35mm film, just enough space on my memory card.  My 4 GB card ran out of space on the trip to Disney and I was forced to delete pictures.  It’s a good thing I took the laptop  to download pictures every night.  I was worried about having to delete pictures and losing them, or even dropping the camera on a ride and losing it all that way.  I don’t have a lot of extra memory cards laying around, so I packed the laptop.  Every night when we got back to the hotel I downloaded the pictures from both cameras so that we would be OK if we had to delete any.  Never bothered using the laptop to get online.  I was on vacation and wanted to relax without it.  It was just very nice to know that when I deleted pictures from our first day we had them safely tucked away on the computer in the room.  Another of my favorite things to do is download apps for my phone for where I’m headed.  I was able to download apps to tell us wait times for rides and what each restaurant served.  We were able to see at a glance if we were willing to wait in line to eat there or if we needed to move on.

My day bag is the hardest to pack.  What will I actually need for a day out and about?  Now that Paige is older I don’t have to worry about diapers, bottles or sippy cups.  Hand sanitizer can be attached to the strap of the bag but there’s other things to think about.  For Disney I needed my autograph kit, a Sharpie fine point, scrapbook pages (4×6 size) all in a pencil case to keep the pages from getting messed up.  It was cold and windy, then it was warmer.  I needed to carry hats, gloves and lightweight jackets for both me and Paige.  Add a couple of bottled waters and that bag got heavy and bulky fast.  When preparing to walk over 2 miles a day pushing probably 50 pounds of stroller and child, you have to figure out what’s important and what’s not.  All of those things were important as was the medicine, phone and camera that I tossed in as well.  By the end of the trip I was carrying almost the same things in the bag as I did the first day.  That showed me that I had packed well for each day, even if it was a bit heavy to carry.  And yes, we did use it all each day, otherwise it would have been taken out.

I make packing lists so that I know I’ve packed matching outfits for each day, including the extras.  Things like pull ups or wipes I’m always sure there’s extra.  But I don’t go overboard in packing lots of other things that we may or may not use.  There’s a Walmart or Target on the way where ever I’m driving.  I can pick up things that I forgot.  Paige goes through all her clothes and the spares?  Well, Disney sells more t-shirts.  Or, most hotels have a washer and dryer available for guest use.  I can buy or wash what I need.  I try to avoid that if at all possible.  But keeping that in mind has helped me to pack lighter.  I’m happy to say that I used almost every item I took with us on our last trip.  Paige did come back with her extra clothes unused.  Other than that, we used it all.  And I’m happy to report that Paige can travel with only two pairs of shoes and survive.

 

Disney Picture Overload December 27, 2010

Filed under: fun,Grammy,Holidays,Mommy,Paige,pics,vacation — scifimama @ 5:48 am

We spent 3 1/2 days in Disney World.  Honestly, I could have stayed longer.  Our trip in September was just one day.  And it was perfect.  Crowds were almost nonexistent, and Paige had a wonderful time there.  I was a bit worried that a longer trip would be too much and I would turn into one of those parents.  The kind that doesn’t bother removing the hands covering their head as they yell at the kids.  There’s only so much stress one parent can take.  I’m happy to report I wasn’t one of those. We did have to have a chat one evening.  I took Paige into the bathroom of the Chef Mickey dinner and talked to her about her behavior.  On the way back I apologized to another Mom for having to overhear our chat.  She said she applauded me for doing it in a quiet place and  she wishes more parents would do the same.  She had about had her fill of the parents who were just yelling at their kids and not really doing anything about the kids bad behavior.

There was lots of fun at character meals.  We had lunch with Handy Manny, Little Einsteins, and Special Agent Oso.  There was a breakfast with the Princesses (Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, Belle and Jasmine).  And my favorite, dinner with Chef Mickey (Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto and Goofy).  The food was really good and we had a blast singing and dancing with the characters.  I think my favorite part of the trip was Extra Magic Hours in the Magic Kingdom.  Those are hours where the park is open only to guests of the Disney hotels.  One day the park was fine in the morning, but by just after lunch it was so crowded we could hardly move.  All three of us were miserable.  After speaking to a cast member, we took his advice and went back to the hotel for a nap.  We got back to the park just in time for the Electric Light Parade followed by the fireworks.  At that point, most of the people left the park.  Over the next two hours we managed to ride: Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise, Aladdin’s Carpets, Tea Cups, Winnie the Pooh and It’s a Small World.  We also had pictures taken with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy and Donald.  The lines were almost completely gone.  In order to get on a ride you had to show your room key.  In those two hours we rode the rides that Paige wanted to ride and had an absolute blast.  It was cold and late, but we had fun.  And now for the picture overload.

Chasing Storm Troopers around Endor.

Visiting Wurzburg where I lived in Germany.

I really do love Coke.

Paige said good morning and good night to Ariel every day.

The Beast was very nice.

Goofy around 1:45 AM

Tea Cups around 1:30

The Castle at 2 AM and about 30 degrees.  I loved my hat that night.

The castle was beautiful.

And finally, Belle meet Belle.

 

Confession time December 6, 2010

Filed under: vacation — scifimama @ 5:54 am

I’m totally obsessed with planning our vacation in 2 weeks.  Totally, completely obsessed.  What I’m mostly obsessed with is making meal reservations.  Probably sounds odd to most people, but that’s what has me searching lately.  By staying on the Disney property we were able to get the meal plan.  Each of us gets 1 snack, 1 quick service meal (like fast food), and 1 table service meal (a sit down restaurant) each day of our stay.  The meal plan can save you a lot of money, if you use it to the maximum.  I’m using the meal plan to book restaurants I normally would not have afforded to eat at.

If we were having to pay menu price for our meals, it would be all quick service meals for us.  Fast food can get old, well, fast.  I like to be able to sit down and have a nice meal.  We can use the meals and snacks in any combination we want.  We get a total of 4 of each for each of the 3 of us.  If we want to use all snacks the first day, we can.  Or, we can spread it out.  I’m using the meal plan to book as many characters meals as possible.  I’ve been lucky so far and booked 3 character meals.  I have a 4th restaurant meal booked, but not with characters.

Our first day we get to have lunch with Handy Manny.  Our third day I got super lucky and snagged a dinner reservation someone else had cancelled with Chef Mickey in the Contemporary Resort.  Our final day we’ll have lunch with the Princesses in Epcot.  I’m trying and hoping pretty hard to snag a meal with Winnie the Pooh, Piglet and Eeyore.  I troll the Disney website several times a day checking different dates and times to get the meal I want. I’ll take breakfast, lunch or supper.  At this point it doesn’t really matter to me.  I’m just trying to get that character meal.

I’ve heard how much fun these can be for the kids.  After all, they get to sit and eat a decent meal, and their favorite characters come by to see them.  It also works out well for Mommy and Grammy.  We can have Chef Mickey come to our table, and not have to stand in that line at the Magic  Kingdom to see him.  It’s a win-win for all of us.  The downside?  The price.  If we weren’t on the dining plan we could never have afforded it.  Dinner with the Princesses?  Yeah, that’s $60 per adult, and $36 per child.  Plus tax and tip.  That’s outrageous!  There’s no way we could have afforded that for just one meal.  That total is about half of what we paid for the dining plan for the entire trip!  And I’ve booked 3 meals like that.  Then you add in the quick service meals and snacks we’ll get.  When we went in September we averaged $35 per meal for quick service.  Snacks?  I think the Mickey ice cream bar was $3 or $4.

With all of these restaurant meals available to us, I’m trying to do book as many of them as I can.  Disney World is so expensive, that I’m trying to get as much as I can for the money.

 

Just not my day October 28, 2010

Filed under: Mommy,vacation,Whatever — scifimama @ 3:59 pm

We all have them, and for me, today was it.  And yes, I’m blogging this and publishing immediately, so it’s really about today.  Why am I blogging in the middle of the day?  Well, let’s just say the Immodium is finally working.  My day started off wrong.  The rain woke me up off and on all night so I didn’t get much sleep.  The leaking in my bathroom didn’t help either.  The thunder was so bad I was awake around 4-ish.  I dozed off and on until 5:30 then got up for the day.

I immediately started baking cookies for tomorrow and putting the last of the icing on the cookies for today.  Luckily, the icing was already made and colored.  All I had to do was pipe the icing on, wait for it to dry, and put the cookies in baskets.  The power went out while I was doing this.  Twice.  Paige got a little freaked out the first time it happened.  I finally gathered everything up and was about to walk out the door.  That’s when I realized my camera was dead.  It’s fried.  Never to work again.  I spilled water 3 days ago and thought I got it all cleaned up.  Nope, it got farther than I thought, and my camera has been sitting in water for 3 days now.  It’s not going to recover from this one.

I managed to get my cookies safely to school thanks to some creative transporting.  I went to put one of the baskets on the table and it fell over.  The cookies weren’t really damaged, but they weren’t as cute.  After the trick or treating I went to work.  I was only there a few hours when I started running a low grade fever and was spending most of my time in the bathroom.  I decided to call it a day.  The headache I had wasn’t helping matters any.

The only thing I’ve managed to accomplish this afternoon is booking meal reservations at Disney.  That trip is now the week before Christmas and 5 days long.  We’re now staying on property and purchased the dining plan.  Suddenly meals I couldn’t afford before, like lunch with the Princesses, are an option, since they’re part of the dining plan.  I managed to make meal reservations for all 4 days we’ll be in the park.  Only 2 of those are with characters, but all the restaurants are great!  Our plans changed yesterday when Mom got to MWR on base.  They had much better deals on a 4 day ticket than a 2 day ticket.  We got twice the days for half the price.  And they were able to book us a hotel on the property for $10 more a day than a hotel off the property.  Definitely worth it!  I have a 2011 Unofficial Disney Guide and I’m making plans.

 

 
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