Surprise! SeaWorld :-)

Because we got in so late last night (early this morning), we didn’t get up and out too early. We were given coupons for complimentary breakfast when we checked in, so we took advantage of a nice room service menu and ordered breakfast. Eilis got a fruit plate, and we split scrambled eggs, sausage, and potato casserole. We also ordered a side of hash, which was spicy but tasty. We then checked the weather and our plan to head to the beach was discarded, since rain was predicted. We checked the newspaper and decided to go to Sea World for the Halloween Spooktacular. I’ll review that separately, but we have never done this before and it was really nice, a lot of fun, and Eilis enjoyed going to Sea World. She’s been asking to go back since summer camp.

We left Sea World about 4 and headed back to the hotel to wait and hear from my in-laws about meeting up for dinner. We debated going to the Marriott World Center for Jim’s favorite seafood buffet, and it seemed like a good idea, but I thought if we stayed here, after dinner we would have time to come back to the room and sit and talk for a while and no one would feel rushed out. We went down to Tradewinds restaurant in our hotel to check out the menu, and they seemed to have a little of everything – sandwiches, salads, seafood, a pasta dish, steak, even pork chops – so Jim said we should suggest eating there. When Russell called, they were already over this way shopping, so we agreed to meet in the lobby in about half an hour. That was enough time to change into jeans in case it was cool downstairs – which it was. Jim ordered an appetizer to share of pita bread chips with three dips, hummus, an olive tapenade, and spinach dip, and we all ordered dinner. The waitress was really nice, and after Jim and I had discussed ordering or not ordering King Crab macaroni and cheese, we opted not to order it. She brought a small sample of it anyway, and everyone got to try it. It would not be something I can eat a whole dish of because I can’t eat pasta, but it had a sharper cheese flavor in a light cheese sauce, and chunks of the King Crab in it. Nice dish.

After dinner, we found out the only way to get to our room was via the glass elevators, which make my MIL nervous, or up a large flight of stairs to an employee elevator, which she could never climb. I had already taken Eilis upstairs, so Jim and Russell came up and I went back down to sit with my MIL. We had a nice conversation, despite the best efforts of hotel employees who seemed determined to have us move out of their way.

After a late night snack of cheese and crackers, we finally turned in around 11, and no one was awake after more than a few minutes. We want to try to get an early start tomorrow at Universal.

Surprise! The Airport

I picked Eilis up at school, and then Brighid, same as every other day. We headed down to my mom’s, and while they entertained the kids, I brought in Brighid and Granuaile’s bags for the weekend. Eilis didn’t seem like she noticed I was bringing in anything more than a diaper bag and some toys, so that was great. I told Eilis, who really wanted to stay with Dram and Pop-pop that we were going to pick Daddy up at the airport and I had a surprise for her. We headed over to Philly, and all the way there, I debated where to park. I had made a reservation at a place called Pre-Flight. Ann had given me a coupon for the parking there, and the big advantage to their service is that they had indoor parking. It was raining, and waiting inside for a shuttle to come seemed preferable to waiting in the pouring rain. I thought about using the airport lot in case we were running late – it would be right there next to the terminal. But, again, the rain thing was a factor, and the lot there is HUGE. The shuttle there runs every 15 minutes, so we potentially could be waiting a long time in the rain. Lastly, I brought directions for Pacifico. My qualms there is that you just show up, no reservations, and they bring you in your own car to the airport. But what if there is a long wait? There’s not a lot of time between my flight and my airport arrival, so I don’t want to add too much extra with waiting for a ride over. I settled on Pre-Flight and I’m so glad I did! The coupon Ann gave me makes parking here the same price – actually about .50 less – than the airport lot – and it’s inside with shuttles every 5 minutes!

We arrived, pulled into the parking lot, and I was so glad we were on the first level. There are a ton of cars here and it’s going to be so easy to find my car! We were the only ones there, and I didn’t see a shuttle, so I got a little nervous and was going to wander outside to make sure we just waited by our car for a shuttle, but as soon as I made the decision to walk, a shuttle came – less than 3 minutes from when we arrived. The driver was VERY nice, welcomed us, asked if he could help with bags (we had none, as Jim took them with him), and gave me a red slip of paper on which he had indicated where I was parked. The ride to the airport was about 5 minutes, and he pulled right up to the Southwest terminal. Easy peasy 🙂 Eilis was beyond thrilled. She loved riding the bus, and thought she was quite the hot stuff being the only one on the bus. This was shaping up to be a great surprise!

Because I had no luggage and had printed my boarding passes, we could proceed directly to security. Thank goodness! The line for security extended nearly all the way back to the baggage claim area. Eilis mentioned a few times how she was not having fun and she hoped her surprise was not having to wait in line all this time. We finally got through the line, and I headed to gate E8, where our flight was supposed to depart from. We were about 1 hour from our flight, and I know with the cattle call lines at Southwest, we might be cutting it close to wait in line at Burger King for dinner. When we arrive at the gate, it’s not our flight number on the board, and I don’t see it on the TVs that tell you when your flight is. I walk over to the lady at the podium and find out that everything is delayed, and my 7 o’clock flight is now not leaving until at least 8:10. Plenty of time for that Burger King line.

We pick up dinner for Eilis, and I decide not to brave the line to get a cup of soup at the next food counter. The airport is mobbed and everything is crowded. We have Eilis’ dinner after about 20 minutes, and we walk back to see how our gate seating is, and we’re glad to find two seats together. She happily tucks in and is soon finished her burger and fries, and I have eaten a protein bar. We find out that ours is the third flight out of this gate, and by 7:45, the one ahead of us hasn’t left yet. People are getting agitated, but the weather is bad, so there’s not much anyone can do.

Eilis still doesn’t know what’s going on, and is bugging me about when Jim is arriving. She has done all of the puzzle pages in her coloring book and we’ve played a bunch of tic tac toe, and she’s getting tired and very bored. They finally call for boarding for the flight ahead of us so we move over closer to the window so she can see the airplanes coming in and taking off. We are also closer to the line for group A over here, and that’s the line we’ll need to be in.

An announcement comes over the PA to let us know that our plane will be boarding shortly, and I tell Eilis let’s call Dram and Brighid and tell them that she’s at the airport going to Disney World. Well, she thinks we’re playing a joke on them, but whatever their reaction was to her, she sits straight up and says to me, “Wait a minute. Are we going to Disney World?” Yes. “On a plane?” Yes. Well, the phone went down and she starts jabbering away about how excited she is and how she can’t believe it. She has a grin on her face that goes from one side to the other and she is beyond excited, but she has now just abandoned the phone. I tell her to pick the phone up and she’s yelling in about going and now she is really excited.

They finally board the flight ahead of us, and we hop into line A. We are behind a single woman who is drinking beer and a group of 6 Drexel med students taking a weekend off to go to Orlando. We should have no trouble getting a good seat up front, and when we finally board at 9 o’clock, we are in the second row. Eilis is playing with the windows, playing with the pull down tray, looking outside, looking behind her – she can barely contain her excitement. There is a bit of delay as we prepare for take off, but I show her that she can see the line of airplanes ahead of us waiting to take off.

You can’t complain about the Southwest in flight service. I’ve always had a great experience with them, and this time was no exception. They very promptly took drink orders and we were served the drinks, Ritz cracker chips, and a bag of peanuts in no time. Eilis’ cup came with a lid and straw, which I didn’t even know they did on an airplane. Eilis drank a few sips and ate her crackers, and was asleep in a matter of minutes. With all the children on the plane, our attendant checked on Eilis, asked if I needed any other drinks or snacks, and was really very pleasant.

We arrived in Orlando exactly at midnight, and Jim was waiting for us outside with our rented Jeep Liberty. Eilis got excited all over again, and I really feel optimistic that the trip is going to go great. Eilis has such middle child syndrome, feeling like Brighid gets to do everything and go everywhere and Granuaile gets all the attention. This will really make her feel special.

SURPRISE, Eilis!! Pre-Trip Trip Report

I am leaving in about 15 minutes to pick the kids up from school. After dropping Brighid and Granuaile off at my mom’s, I am taking Eilis to meet Jim in Orlando for a long weekend. Just for her.

The trip came about a couple of weeks back when a DING fare popped up on my computer. DING is a downloadable program through Southwest Airlines that allows you to put in the city you normally travel from, and then when special fares come up from that city to any other, your computer DINGS and you can access the special rates. The DING came up that day to Orlando for $49 each way. I knew money was tight, but having just had Brighid’s big Sweet 16 party, and Eilis feeling a bit like Brighid gets all the special things in life and she gets none, I felt we could come up with the money for at least Eilis and I to fly down. I would look into using DVC points to stay so that wouldn’t cost us anything, and we would go to Universal on our annual pass. If there happened to be a few extra dollars in the budget, we’d book Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Since Jim had just been talking about taking Brighid down to Orlando for Halloween Horror Nights, I thought we’d be okay coming up with a few dollars, and I set about booking the trip.

Well, it didn’t all fall into place as smoothly as I had planned out. There are no DVC units available, which stinks. But, Jim stepped up with Marriott points and we were able to book the Renaissance Sea World. It looks nice online, and since we’re not doing a completely Disney weekend, it should be fine. And there’s a Starbucks in the lobby 🙂 Jim’s flight from Milwaukee to Orlando is double the cost to fly into Philly, but he books it anyway. He gets reimbursed from work, but he’s nervous about it costing more than normal. And to add one more kink in the works, of course we want to see Jim’s mother and step-father, but I am afraid it may conflict with a visit from her sister. That worked itself out, fortunately, as we arrive the day she leaves 🙂

So, my plan is to have Eilis go with me to the airport to pick Jim up. This is not uncommon, as she has done it before, just her and I. When we get there, I’ll suggest we go inside to meet Daddy. I have no luggage, so we don’t have to check in, we just go straight to security. She won’t know what’s going on until we’re walking onto the plane!!

Then reality starts to set in. I’m dropping the other two off at my mom’s. Eilis wants to go there. Eilis doesn’t want to ride to the airport. Eilis doesn’t want to go to dinner with me. Eilis wants to go to Dram’s for a sleepover.

So that’s where we are now. I’ll let you know how it all plays out. We’re Orlando bound either way, but the experience will either be one she’ll always remember or one she’ll never forget 😉

National Honor Society Inductee

Dear Parents the letter begins. You’re never sure when you’re a parent if it’s going to end up good or bad, and you’re already nervous just by seeing your kids’ school’s return address on the envelope.

On the recommendation of the Faculty Council, it is my pleasure to inform you that your child has been accepted into the Reverend Marco Martorelli Chapter of the National Honor Society.

Whew. We can take a breath. It’s good news 🙂 Brighid is going to be inducted into the NHS on Thursday, Nov. 1st at her school. She was super excited, and I’m happy for her. She’s working hard, studying hard, and trying to keep her grades up. I’m proud of her.

Now if only she can parlay this into a scholarship or two…

The Class Ring – Yay or Nay?

My father wore his high school class ring just about every day of his life. It wasn’t until he was much, much older that his ring was replaced with a ring from the Knights of Columbus, and I don’t think that happened until after he married Ann. I just always remember the Bishop Neumann class ring as a permanent fixture on my dad’s hand.

So when it was my turn to get a class ring, not only was I excited to get it – it is, after all, a right of passage in high school – but my dad was excited to purchase it for me. I think it may have been a Christmas gift for me that year, but I was so over the moon thrilled to get it. I wore that ring often, and even when I stopped wearing it, I used to pull it out once in a while and reflect fondly on the good memories I had of high school, my friends, and the day I got that ring. I would reminisce about how many times I had it turned, how many times I polished it after someone left fingerprints on the stone when they turned it, and I would think about how I felt like I was growing up to have earned that ring.

When Brighid came home yesterday with the information to order her ring, I got that same rush of excitement that my dad must have felt. My little girl really IS growing up, and she has reached the point in her life where she gets to meet the right of passage that is the class ring. In a couple of months, there will be a special Mass said and a special dance to commemorate the receipt of the class ring, and it will be one step closer for her to finishing high school and moving in to a whole other phase in her life.

And it was with that excitement that I mentioned to her father today that Brighid got her class ring order form and packet. He mustered up about as much enthusiasm as one would over opening a can of tuna fish. It seems my husband did not get a high school ring. I don’t know if that was his choice or if it was a financial decision made by his parents, and he does not remember. I know it was a HUGE purchase for my dad back in the day, at $85. It was the most expensive thing I had ever owned up until that point. Jim would have gotten his ring right around a year or so later, so I imagine the cost was around the same. Maybe it was out of the budget for his family at the time. It’s certainly reasonable to accept that.

But apparently, his lack of a high school ring has put a damper on the whole experience. He sees no reason for Brighid to get a ring, and I see it as important as paying tuition each month. And believe me, these rings aren’t cheap now, either; and I completely understand, especially after the big Sweet 16 party we just had, that it would be a stretch for us to buy one. The ones that are just metal – meaning no real gold in them at all – start at $189, and that’s before you engrave her name on it or anything! But I just feel like it’s something she HAS to HAVE!

So, I’m looking for comments, and for people to rally around me. Did you get your class ring, and how important was it to you then? How important is it to you now?

And does anyone want to buy a slightly used but in good shape kidney so I can pay for the darn thing LOL!!

The Great Pumpkin Debate

Last year, inspired by the many gruesome and grotesque pumpkin pictures being emailed over and over on the web, Jim decided that we needed to adorn the front of our house with the sickest, most gory pumpkin display the world has ever known.  Small children were afraid to trick or treat at our house last year.  Limited to only two pumpkins due to the late approval he got from yours truly, Jim created a scene on our front steps that has scarred scores of kids in this neighborhood.  One of the gory gourds had his eyes crossed in x’s, mouth wide open, spewing pumpkin seed vomit all over himself and our front steps.  The other equally gruesome gourd held with invisible hands a small handgun to his head on one side, and the other side showed the effect of the pumpkin suicide, with pumpkin brain spilling out of the side of the pumpkin head.  Forget the trauma to the neighborhood kids – I may need therapy for life after seeing that one.

This year, our house is for sale.  It’s bad enough that we live next door to a cemetery.  Getting people to get out of their cars, in the dark, this close to Halloween, is going to be challenging enough with the possibility of ghoulies and ghosties drifting over from the cemetery.  But to have someone want to come up to our door, explore our house, AND place an offer on the place after they witness the pumpkin massacre on the front steps seemed too much.  I put the kibosh on pumpkin death row this year.  I did not want people to walk away from viewing our house wondering what kind of satanic rituals were taking place INSIDE if there was such a disturbed scene outside. 

I want our house to look friendly, warm, and inviting.  We are decorated for Halloween, and we do have two pumpkins, one painted by Granuaile, the other by Eilis.  I figure we are already driving away some orthodox Christian groups who oppose Halloween because of it’s satanic overtones and maybe a few other religions who don’t believe in Halloween.  Why should we now risk driving away the people who LIKE Halloween by scaring the bejesus out of them with Nightmare on Pumpkin Street.

Jim was very disappointed.  He even took his appeal to the website www.wishuponahero.com – hoping that some benevolent soul would turn up at our house, bizarre pumpkins in hand, and plant them around our yard.  I think all he got out of that was, “The wife is right”. 

So when you drive by our house this Halloween, look for the sweetly painted pumpkins my little girls did to help make our house festive and welcoming.  And then look in the window to see if you see Jim, standing there pouting.

Two Day Roller Coaster

So, I got a phone call yesterday afternoon from an agent in our real estate agent’s office.  Someone wants to come see our house today at 11 AM.  Plenty of time to spic and span everything, make sure the world inside our house is shiny, sparkly, and smells like love.  Then he calls an hour later and says that someone will be out that afternoon at 4 o’clock.  Well, crap.  I’ve been keeping the house clean, but that leave no time for the extra touches – like freshly baked cookies, fragrant flowers (the ones we got at Wegmans a couple of weeks ago were AMAZING), or even a quick mop of the kitchen.  I run through each room, make sure the beds are made, the clothes are all in the hampers, the trash cans are all empty, etc., and then I leave to get Eilis from school.  There is only time to get her home, change her for the birthday party she was going to, and get out the door before the prospective buyers show up.

We ran to Walgreen’s at 3:45 to fill a prescription and pick up a card and gift bag for the birthday gift Eilis is bringing.  We wait for my prescription, and drive by the house at about 4:30.  No cars.  I take Eilis to the birthday party, and we do her homework in the car in the parking lot of the farm where the party is being held.  I get home about 6.  No business card.  No one showed. 

You would think they would leave a message saying their client cancelled.  At least let me know that they acknowledge that it might be an inconvenience to get out of the house for an hour or more, especially at that time of day. 

And now I have to find the motivation today to get it done all over.  At least I had time to mop the kitchen – only to have the dog come in muddy.  That’s okay, I had time to re-do it.  And I’m not making cookies.  I’m spraying the baking spray I have that smells like the real thing, and if someone does show up, let them live with the disappointment of not having freshly baked cookies waiting for them. 

But as disappointed as I was last night, I manage to be hopefully optimistic today.  I hope they show up.  I hope they like the place.  I hope they make an offer.

Remember Me

The day will come when my body will lie upon a white sheet neatly tucked under four corners of a mattress located in a hospital busily occupied with the living and the dying.

At a certain moment a doctor will determine that my brain has ceased to function and that, for all intents and purposes, my life has stopped.

When that happens, do not attempt to instill artificial life into my body by the use of a machine. And don’t call this my deathbed.

Let it be called the Bed of Life, and let my body be taken from it to help others lead fuller lives.

Give my sight to a man who has never seen a sunrise, a baby’s face or love in the eyes of a woman.

Give my heart to a person whose own heart has pain.

Give my blood to the teenager who was pulled from the wreckage of his car, so that he might live to see his grandchildren play.

Give my kidneys to one who depends on a machine to exist from week to week.

Take my bones, every muscle, every fiber and nerve in my body and find a way to make a crippled child walk.

Take my cells, if necessary, and let them grow so that, someday, a speechless boy will shout at the crack of a bat and a deaf girl will hear the sound of rain against her windows.

Burn what is left of me and scatter the ashes to the winds to help the flowers grow.

If you must bury something, let it be my faults, my weaknesses and all my prejudice against my fellow man.

Give my sins to the devil. Give my soul to God. If, by chance, you wish to remember me, do it with a kind deed or word to someone who needs you.
If you do all I have asked, I will live forever.

Robert Noel Test . . .

The Real Truth About Axe Shower Gel/Body Spray

Someone in this family (Jim) who shall remain nameless (Jim) has blogged on his blog (Jim) about my affection for the scent of Axe shower gel and body spray products for men.

Not true.

There is a picture on the bottle of the Axe products that shows a man, after spraying himself with Axe, finds himself flanked on each side by two attractive (we can assume they are attractive, as we only see a silhouette) women.  What they don’t show you is the next step, where they each grab an end and toss his stinky butt back in the shower to get the horrific odor off of his body before they let him in the house.

 When I think of the smell of Axe products, several things come across my mind – the smell of an old French hooker; a Hillbilly bath; oh my God, Jim, get away from me with that reek about you!

I have been suffering from allergies recently.  I had been blaming the dog, but now I have to wonder if it’s the Axe stuff.  I’ll gladly admit to an allergy to that if it means I don’t have to smell it anymore 🙂

Never Feel Entitled to a Crappy Day

I’m having a crappy day today.  I have a terrible headcold, which woke me up this morning with a pounding headache, a stuffed nose, and a sore throat.  I had gone to bed early last night – about 9:15 – after taking some Nyquil, hoping I woule wake up cured.  I didn’t.

Then Jim called this morning.  He wants to know why I’m not very talkative, not gushing over how much I miss him or love him, why I don’t have anything to say.  So I start to tell him.  He hung up on me.

It seems I am not allowed to have crappy days.  I am not allowed to ever be too tired – especially not this morning, with 8+ hours of sleep under my belt.  I am not allowed to complain that I have to get Brighid at school at 4:30 today, Eilis at cheerleading practice at 4, dinner on the table, kids showered and in bed, then tomorrow I have to get Brighid at 4:30, Eilis to dance class at 5, myself to a camera class at 7, kids bathed, homework done, and the whole list of other stuff I do during the day.  On Friday, after school, Eilis has soccer practice, I have to pick Jim up at the airport, then I have to get Brighid at Jen’s house later that evening.  Oh yeah, and still dinner, homework, and whatever else.  I’m also doing my best to keep the house immaculate – no dirty dishes in the sink, no laundry undone, no toys left out, no floor unswept.

Jim’s solution for my being overwhelmed?   Go get a job.  Put Granuaile in daycare and hire a housekeeper.  That way, instead of cleaning 7 days a week, I’ll only have to clean 6 days a week, because a housekeeper will be here on day 7.  And instead of having to take care of Gracie all day, I only have to worry about picking her up and dropping her off at daycare, in between all the other drop offs and pick ups I have to do and in addition to the job I’m supposed to go to.  And let’s not forget all the running around AFTER my job I still have to do – not to mention finding the job that lets me leave early enough on Friday to take Eilis to soccer practice and on Thursday to take Eilis to dance class.

When you add to the stress of my normal life the fact that it does not look like we’re going to be able to sell our house, I don’t understand why my husband can’t be more sympathetic.  Instead, he tells me he doesn’t want to hear how tired I am.  Or how crappy I feel.  He has the nerve to say that he doesn’t want to know that I’m tired while he’s out there, alone, working a regular 8-4 job for the most part, with every evening free to do what he wants to do.  And does he come home and help on the weekends?   No he does not.  He comes home complaining that he had no internet access at the hotel, so he’ll have to spend his weekend doing paper work and taking on-line courses required by his job.  Do I sleep in on Fridays while he gets up, packs the lunches, makes the breakfasts, and takes the kids to school?   Nope.  I still do it while he catches up on his sleep.  Do I get Saturday mornings off to sleep in?   Nope again. 

I get that I’m a stay at home mom, and some of this is really my job.  But being a stay at home mom without a dad here is really hard.  I truly get no sick days – and I feel like I could really use one today.  But the bathrooms still have to be wiped down, the baby still has to be played with, the meals still have to be made, and the kids still have to be picked up and dropped off. 

I guess I’ll have to have a crappy day some other time.  I have to have the same old same old kinda day again today.