m4s0n501

The countdown is on. Our Disney trip is just around the corner.

We have dining reservations (too many, actually. I need to narrow it down). We have a (fairly loose) itinerary—a plan for which days we’re spending in which parks. We have our Fast Passes (wasn’t able to get Elsa and Anna. booooo). Our Magic Bands came in the mail.

http://parksandresorts.wdpromedia.com/media/disneyparks/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/fwk111002LARGE.jpg(Image Source: Disney Parks Blog)

I’m starting to panic a little. I’m so, so excited, but also kind of nervous.

Vivienne is the wild card. She’s what I think is a typical toddler with wildly unpredictable moods which can change at the drop of a hat. Typically, she’s a pretty good kid but if she’s hungry or tired or wants something she can’t have… watch out, world. Our pediatrician used to tell us that Nora was a “spirited child,” but now that I have Vivienne… no way. Nora has her moments but she is quiet and reserved and mostly well behaved. Vivienne is the definition of spirited child—loud and vocal, stubborn and determined. Nora observes and proceeds with caution. Vivienne flings herself into the world with reckless abandon.

I cannot imagine her falling asleep in the stroller the way we used to get Nora to do, at least for cat naps. CANNOT.IMAGINE. She is just not that kind of kid. If it happens, it will be some sort of miracle.

To say I’m nervous about traveling with Vivienne—on the plane, in the parks, in the restaurants, in the hotel—is a little bit of an understatement. Who knows what she’s going to do. Michael and I have discussed it at length and we are going to try to roll with the punches. Go at their pace. Go back to the hotel for naps if we must. But the problem with all of that is that we don’t have just one child… we have two. Vivienne isn’t our only consideration. We have Nora, who would likely be fine to be out and about having fun most days. We hate to ruin her fun for the sake of her baby sister. But I suppose there’s a life lesson to be had in there. We’ll do the best we can.

Side note: What were we thinking getting a standard hotel room? We’ve all slept in the same room before—in the Poconos and even this summer in the Outer Banks—but in those instances, we had other places to hang out if we weren’t ready to sleep when they were sleeping. We were only ever in the room all together to SLEEP. This should be interesting. I guess Michael and I will be seeing some early bedtimes. LOL.

I know people do this all of the time and we made the decision to go now for good reasons. We’re going to have fun. It’s just that when we made the reservations, Vivienne was nine months old and I had no idea what kind of toddler she would actually be. Now I know, haha. To be fair, when we spent a day at Disneyland with Nora when she was about 2.5, she presented her own set of challenges. SO… rolling with it. Relaxing. Breathing. Woo-sah.

Moving along… packing and preparing. I could definitely use any last-minute tips that you all might have. What to bring, what to leave at home. What to buy in advance, what to buy on site, etc.

We are staying at Coronado Springs.

Instead of lugging ours, we are renting a double stroller in Orlando, which will be delivered to our hotel before our arrival. But then for the airport, we’re wondering—do we bring our umbrella stroller? Carry Vivienne in the backpack carrier? But if Michael is carrying Vivienne in the backpack carrier, then we lose a backpack for carry-on “stuff” (since he won’t have a free back to carry it on). Thankfully, we are flying an airline that offers a free checked bag for every ticketed passenger, so we get to dump three suitcases at the ticket counter, freeing up valuable arms and hands. Suggestions on all of that?

We’ve already received some good advice and have some ideas, but what about keeping a 15-month-old busy on the plane? We have a direct flight, so it’s a little over two hours. Vivienne likes electronics as much as the next toddler, but she isn’t quite “into” apps and movies yet. She will busy herself for a while by pressing Apple devices’ “Home” button a million times, but I’m not sure that’ll cut it for long.

Speaking of cut… thanks to a few readers who suggested it, I scheduled Nora’s first-ever haircut at the Harmony Barber Shop in the Magic Kingdom. I get a pit in my stomach whenever I think about someone taking scissors to her curls, but as I mentioned in my post last week, the ends of her hair are really not healthy right now. Dry and frizzy. Something needs to be done and a cut is in order. I know it’ll still be beautiful regardless of whether the curls stay or go, but there’s also something really weird about them cutting off the hair that was on her head when she was a baby. And the curls are leftover from that babyhood, too. It hurts my heart a little.

http://tombricker.smugmug.com/Disney/Magic-Kingdom/i-frXp7P6/0/M/minnie-mickey-mouse-disney-world-christmas-parade-M.jpg(Image Source: Disney Tourist Blog)

We’re debating about whether or not to go to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. It’s an extra expense that I’m not entirely sure is worth it, but mostly we don’t want to spend the money and then have Vivienne turn into a beast at the party start time—7:00 p.m., which is usually her bedtime. We’ve wrestled with it, and are even contemplating me taking Nora and Michael staying back at the hotel with Vivienne. But then maybe we just take our chances with the cost of Michael’s ticket (Vivienne is free) and see how it goes. I don’t know.

Anyway, I’m all (Mickey) ears. About anything. Everything. Except for things we can’t really change at this point (like hotel, dining reservations and Fast Passes). Share your wisdom, my friends. If I survive this, I’ll be sure to pay it forward when I get back! :)

 

Happy Halloween, everybody!

Love,
Anna & Elsa

(Vivienne, 15 months & Nora, 4 years)

My mom made the costumes; my mother-in-law made the Anna hat/braids. They turned out sooo cute and it was so fun to see them in action on Halloween. Nora had a Halloween “parade” at her preschool, so we took Vivienne in costume as well. The class sang us a few songs and recited some Halloween rhymes. It’s awesome to hear and see firsthand what she’s learning.

{Doing her Elsa moves a la “Let It Go”}

When Nora walked into her classroom before the parade, all the little girls ran and gathered around her. This one little girl (dressed as Tinkerbell, REALLY cute) put her hands on the sides of her face and very dramatically exclaimed, “I *LOVE* that costume! I want to be Elsa for Halloween!” It was hysterical. Also? I was shocked to discover that Nora was the only Elsa in her entire class. What? How? I’m still baffled. There were, however, two Annas. Maybe those girls had bossy older sisters going as Elsa (that was certainly the situation in our house! LOL).

My one contribution to the costumes was to paint all of the snowflakes onto Nora’s “Elsa” cape. A finishing touch!

The costumes will see another day when we go to DISNEY! Although I don’t think I’ll be able to get Vivienne to wear the hat in Florida… :)

 

I don’t think it’s any secret at this point that I’ve lost a bit of my flare for blogging. Very little time, struggles with motivation, lack of things I really want to write about. We’re great, our kids are great. They’re growing up. I want to write about all of the things they’re saying and doing and take a million pictures and document it all, but at the same time, I kind of just want to LIVE the life we’re living. Anyway, I’ve been wrestling with all of this for a while. I keep coming back to throw up random posts here and there, but this blog certainly isn’t the chronicle of my life that it used to be. I don’t know if I can ever get back to that. I don’t know if I want to. It’s a tough spot. I’m still trying to figure it out.

In the meantime, there are some little tidbits to share. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve probably already seen all of these (or most of these) glimpses into the last few weeks, but here’s a little round-up.

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I want to do one big fall recap where I share a bunch of pics I’ve taken of leaves and fall activities. I just haven’t had time to go through all of my pics and weed out the ones I want to show you. And my computer’s hard drive is FULL and I am having trouble with backing up my images to Flickr so I’m afraid to delete anything. Which kind of makes my computer useless for anything more than the Internet and email right now. Not awesome.

But we have been getting out and enjoying fall as much as we can. We went a few weeks ago to a local ski resort to get my mom, Nora, and Hunter their season passes, and the foliage was amazing so we spent some time walking around the lower part of the mountain.

On the way back home, we stopped at an apple farm and Nora got to ride a pony for the first time ever. (Thanks, Grammy.) She really loved it, even though she did tell us the horse was stinky.

Vivienne loves riding around in our structured backpack carrier—the Osprey Poco Premium. It’s pretty awesome, and she likes it a lot more than the Ergo now. I think it’s more comfortable, she’s not as squished, and she sits higher up so she can see more—a winning combination for our “spirited” Miss Vivienne. We’re trying to figure out a good way to get it to Florida with us for Disney World, even though we’re far more likely to use the double stroller we’re renting, I think. We’ll see.

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Speaking of Disney World… our Magic Bands came in the mail! Even though I got a shipping notice for them when they went out, I completely forgot about them. I had no idea what the mystery package was that arrived for us last week, until I opened them and SQUEEEEEEEE! So fun. Nora picked her color (pink, of course). I was originally going to do red or something for Viv, but then Nora insisted that her sister match her. It won’t be for much longer that Vivienne will allow her sister to dictate her choices, so I’m going with it for now.

We leave in less than three weeks. We made a paper chain for Nora to use to countdown, with a big Mickey head on top. I’m nervous about tackling a week in Disney with two kids—and all of us in one hotel room, ahh!—but I’m trying to go into it with a laid-back attitude and level head. It’s for them. We’re going to go at their pace. Let’s just go with the flow and have fun with it.

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Also in Florida… I traveled to Fort Lauderdale for a work retreat last week, Thursday-Saturday. It was fun and it was really nice to get out of town for a few days, but I missed my family at home. Palm trees are good for the soul, though. So is the ocean. There was also gelato and beer.


I also missed a beautiful fall day at home on Saturday—it was 82 degrees and sunny in Florida, so it’s hard to complain! But we still hadn’t picked up our pumpkins. So after I got home late on Saturday night, we headed out early on Sunday morning to the pumpkin patch, despite the cold and a little rain. It was at least an opportunity to get a few photos of the girls for posterity. :)

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I think I’m finally building up the courage to cut Nora’s hair. I still would rather not, but the fact is that the ends of it are really dried out and frizzy now. I’m still worried it’ll mean the end of her curls, but I can’t hold onto them forever, and they’re already not what they used to be—and that might be largely due to the unhealthy ends she’s got going on. Or it could just mean her hair is changing. She still has days where her curls are incredible, but then there are others where it seems like she only has a slight wave to her hair. It’s weird.

I don’t want to do anything drastic, and I’m pretty sure she doesn’t either (she loves her “Rapunzel” hair), but she could definitely use an inch or two cut off the ends, at least. So now I just have to figure out who I actually want to cut it, and make an appointment.

Hold me.

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I’m co-hosting another Essential Oils 101 webinar tonight (Thursday, 10/30)—it’s meant to be an introduction for newbies or those who are interested in learning more about some of the most popular oils and their uses. Whether you’re looking to makeover your medicine cabinet with more natural remedies, make your own natural personal care products or household cleaners, or even if you don’t really know where to start, this webinar is geared toward you.

Tonight, we’ll also be discussing doTERRA’s supplements. They aren’t something that people really expect from doTERRA, but they’ve been clinically proven to support the immune system, cardiovascular health, and digestive health, help with stress management, and so much more. There is a promo going on where new wholesale account members can get these for free!

We’ve had really great feedback on our first two webinars, so as you can probably tell, we’re doing them pretty regularly now. If you haven’t yet had a chance to attend one and you want to, please give me a shout. I’d love for you to join us. Send me an email at heatherdriveblog at yahoo dot com and I’ll make sure to get you an invitation to the webinar.

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We’re prepping for Halloween tomorrow. My mom made the girls’ costumes (she’s so amazing), but I’ve been putting the finishing touches on Nora’s. It’s supposed to be in the 40s tomorrow night which is not awesome. I was frantically searching earlier this week for an extra layer for Nora to wear under her costume.

Upstate New York and Halloween do not mix. We had one year maybe three years ago when it was freakishly like 70 degrees, but typically, we’re fighting the urge to throw our kids into snowsuits. Or it’s raining. Boo.

Nora has a Halloween parade tomorrow at preschool, though, which should be adorable. I’m sure there will be a hundred Elsas. I can’t wait to see the madness. Hopefully I’ll be able to throw up a quick post tomorrow with the girls in their costumes.

If not… HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

 

I’ve seen so-called “one pot” meals that shouldn’t really be included in that category.

Sort of like how Orange is the New Black was in the running for “Outstanding Comedy Series” at the Emmys. Say what now? Great show with some good laughs, but most definitely not a comedy. It’s dark and twisty. Like Meredith Grey. Or Breaking Bad. But I digress.

The thing is—many times, these “one pot” meals still require a bunch of other dishes. But not this one. It truly is a one pot wonder. Its simplicity and deliciousness has landed it a spot in our regular meal rotation.

You chop up the veggies, you measure out the water and spices, and you literally throw it all in the pot at the same time. Heat it all up to a boil, stir it a few times, and boom. It’s done.

It’s surprising how much flavor this has, given you don’t use broth or anything, and it doesn’t cook for very long. Garlic and dried spices are amazing things. And onions.

The first time I made this, I followed the recipe exactly and it had a bit too much water to cook off. It took a long time to evaporate so that it wasn’t soupy, and as a result, the pasta was definitely overdone. The second time, I made adjustments. I kept the amount of water the same, but I added slightly more pasta and a couple of chopped broccoli crowns. I also used less garlic—the first time, it was so garlicky that it kinda burned going down!—but that was more a matter of my garlic cloves being huge than it was the number of cloves called for in the recipe. Just be careful about huge cloves of garlic. :) If they’re big, use only two instead of four. Your breath will thank me for it later!

Note: If you like your broccoli on the crunchy side, you might want to consider waiting a few minutes to throw it into the pot. I was experimenting and threw it in at the beginning with everything else (which preserved this recipe’s ridiculous simplicity). The broccoli wasn’t overly mushy, but it was definitely soft. Next time, I might wait until the pasta and stuff is 3-4 minutes into cooking, then throw the broccoli in only for the last few minutes. It’s only one extra mini step, and doesn’t dirty any extra dishes! :)

One Pot Pasta
(Source: Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

Ingredients:
- 14.5 oz. whole grain pasta (one entire box of Barilla Whole Grain)
- 12 oz. cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 2 broccoli crowns, chopped (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 2 sprigs fresh basil (or 2 tsp. dried basil)
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 4 1/2 cups water
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Directions:
1. Combine the pasta, tomatoes, onion, broccoli (see note above), garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, basil, olive oil and water in a large stockpot. Heat over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

2. Continue to boil, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente and the liquid has almost all evaporated. This time may vary slightly depending on the type and shape of pasta you use, so just keep an eye on it. But for us, this took about 8-10 minutes.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan.

 

Recently, I’ve seen comments on Facebook birth announcements that many people might just pass right over:

“Congratulations! Now you have the perfect family.”

“He’s beautiful! You’re done now, right? You have the perfect family!”

Let’s back up for a second. In case you’re wondering:

perfect family
[pur-fikt fam-uh-lee]

noun
1. a family consisting of two parents (must be a man and a woman, mind you) and two children—one of whom is a boy, and one of whom is a girl.

I’m fully aware that I might be in the minority here; maybe I’m too sensitive. But what the eff is this crap? As a society, what are we saying here? I want to be like, Oh, it’s just an old-fashioned idea from say, the 1950s, that has stuck with some people. Let it slide. But then my soul screams, BUT WHY WAS THIS EVER ACCEPTABLE THINKING?!

The people who say these things don’t mean any harm. The intentions are good, of course, and I’m sure they haven’t even stopped to think about what they’re really saying. But now that I’m a happy, fulfilled, proud mother of TWO girls (and probably done)? These comments get on my last nerve.

I mean, shit. With the above standard definition, there sure are a lot of screwed up, imperfect families out there. You have an only child? He or she must be so lonely. Two boys? Those poor parents. Two girls? But don’t you want to try for a boy? You have stepchildren? Well, they’re not really YOURS, you know. You have 3, 4, 5+ kids? What are you? Mormon? Irish Catholic? Just crazy? Two moms or two dads? OHMYGOD.

Apparently, for those of us with any family configuration other than the “perfect” one mom, one dad, one girl, one boy… SCIENCE HAS FAILED US, y’all.

It’s funny, though, because I look at my husband and my daughters and I feel lucky. Blessed. And every other family should be confident in feeling this way, too. Why are we made to feel like our families are “incomplete” because of what society believes is “perfect”?

After Vivienne was born, we started getting the questions almost immediately. Admittedly not a ton, but several peppered here and there—”Will you have a third? To try for a boy?” And to Michael in particular, they ask, “Don’t you want a boy?” as if a dad isn’t a dad unless he has a boy. And as if it’s a given that the third would even be a boy!!

Again, I say… what.the.eff.

I’m of the mindset that “trying for a boy” or “trying for a girl” is not a good reason to add a person to your family. I think it’s fine (and natural!) for some people to have a preference about what they’re having, or to hope for one or the other, but are you really going to let chance dictate your family planning? And why put that kind of pressure on yourself and/or your unborn baby? What happens if you have another girl? Or another boy? My mom once had a friend who kept having babies because she wanted a girl so badly. She ended up with eight boys. EIGHT CHILDREN, simply to keep trying. I don’t think she originally set out to have that many—in fact, I know she didn’t—but she was so desperate for a girl, they kept going back for more. In these instances, I believe it’s not about trying to achieve perfection, but trying to give ourselves the opportunity to experience a certain type of relationship (e.g. mother/daughter, father/son, etc.) that we otherwise would not have. But you know what? None of those things are ever guaranteed, even if you do end up with the “perfect family.”

For those of you out there with one boy and one girl—I’m not saying you aren’t actually perfect. You’re wonderful. But maybe you’re actually NOT, because you plan to add another baby to your family. *gasp* Imagine that. Don’t you worry… the decision about when you’re “perfect” is in your hands. Only yours.

All of our families are perfect. Perfectly imperfect, actually, because realistically, I know we all have our challenges. But if you’re happy, your children are happy, everyone loves each other and is doing their best to live life, surviving the daily grind… your family is perfect. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.

Can we please agree that there is more than one definition of a “perfect family”? Expand your horizons, open your eyes, and look around the world. That “one boy and one girl” thing is bullshit. So let’s stop saying it. Stop perpetuating it every time someone gives birth to a boy after a girl. Or a girl after a boy. Think about what you’re really saying.

We have two girls. If we do by some chance opt to have a third baby some day, we’ve already discussed how we wouldn’t have a preference. Another girl? Awesome. Truly. Another sister to add to the bunch. A boy? Wonderful. We’ll have a brother in the mix.

Embrace the imperfection. I think you’ll find it’s perfect.

 
m4s0n501