Disney: It’s Happening

The pitiful paid time off that I was given during my various jobs as a nurse never left much wiggle room for vacations. We were very luckily able to make a Parents-Only-Romantic-Vacation happen not just once, but twice, during the last few years thanks to going at really random times, saving up a year’s worth of paid time off, and, most importantly, amazing, phenomenal, grandparents who were willing to watch Alex while we sat on beaches. Other than that, it was a rarity for me to even manage a few days off around the holidays.

Each and every time I got sick, which sadly was pretty often, meant that I had to use paid time off. Every day I spent at home nursing a fever, my own or Alex’s, meant a day that I couldn’t take a vacation. Every time I needed to go to an appointment, deal with a household situation, fix my car…

(And I shouldn’t even complain. I had a paying job. I had paid time off. It was just…not well done where I worked.)

Now that we only have to worry about Zach’s time off, and getting Alex out of school, it became pretty obvious that we had to do something special. Something pretty amazing. Something that the whole family would love.

Disney World. It’s happening.

Disney 2015

We leave next month for four nights in Disney, after which we will spend three nights with my wonderful grandparents who live a few hours away. Being able to combine two trips that we have been meaning to take for a long time is pretty awesome. Disney World will surely be intense, and then being able to spend a few nights recovering by a pool, leisurely reading, walking around, and generally relaxing with family? Pretty amazing.

Disney 2015

Needless to say, we are pretty stoked. I’ve never been to Disney World, and Zach hasn’t been since he was a child. Alex has obviously never been, and, if you ask him, he’s “the only kid EVER” that hasn’t taken a trip to Disney World.

It’s going to be awesome.

Disney 2015

(Disney World lovers, people who have been only once, and people who have any level of opinion on these things: What are the Musts? Must See? Must Do? Must Eat? Must Watch? Must Skip?)

Not What I Wanted To Pass Down

Alex is a mini Zach. He looks so much like him. They have similar attitudes and personalities. Their interests are aligned. They are just two peas in a pod, and it’s wonderful.

I love to watch them together. They are so meant to be an amazing duo and it’s evident in nearly every interaction they have. Between the wrestling, Lego building, and comic book reading, they are just the best.

But! Alex is my kid, too. He isn’t only a mini Zach. He’s a mini Me, too, although it’s not always quite so obvious. We actually do look pretty similar as kids. He is very sensitive to the material his clothes are made of, something that surely drove my mom nuts when I was a kid, and is something I still, to this day, deal with. (Wool? ACK. MAKE IT GO AWAY.) He’s not particularly coordinated, so, sorry, Kiddo.

It turns out that he got one other thing from me. A tendency for cavities.

Alex has a cavity. It’s between two of his teeth, so I couldn’t see it. The dentist seemed really surprised, given that he never has had any issues and his teeth are “spotless!”…except for the cavity, clearly.

Needless to say, I was heartbroken. I felt like I had failed my child. “You had one job!” kept ringing through my head in an admittedly jokey way. Alex has a cavity and it’s my fault. I’m the one who is supposed to keep him healthy. I’m the one who is supposed to protect him.

I know it’s not my fault. I know that there is likely little to nothing we could have done to prevent it. And if we had prevented it, it probably would have happened eventually. We use a Sonicare, floss daily. He eats very few sweets, nothing gummy on a regular basis. He’s tasted soda maybe four times now in his life. Juice is a very special treat, and usually just when we are out. We do everything right. But it seems he may be like me and just, well, prone to cavities.

Fortunately, he’s not upset about this at all. “It’s a little bit of a bummer,” he told me after the dentist appointment last weekend. “But it’s okay. We’ll be even better!”

He’s not even nervous about them fixing it tomorrow. (I am.)

February 2015

Home Again, Home Again

She knew what I was going to say before I even said it.

I had just asked for a minute of her time. I guess that was enough of a hint.

“You’re quitting, aren’t you?” she asked.

I smiled, laughed a little, and nodded in agreement.

I quit my job.

I actually liked (most of) my job. I enjoyed the work I did and I felt, day to day, respected and like I was doing something important. My work was interesting, and I was actually good at it.

But you know what’s more important to me right now? Zach and Alex.

So, I quit my job.

To stay home. For the first time since Alex was two.

(And no, it didn’t happen just like ::snap:: that. This has been a long discussion over many months, many spreadsheets, many concerns, many budgetary considerations.)

DSCF4698

The first time I dropped him off at daycare felt amazing. It was only two hours, and we did it once per week to transition him from the only thing he had known: being with me all day, every day, except when he was with Zach or his adoring grandparents. This was the first time he would be with strangers. Strangers who would feed him, change him, play with him.

He loved daycare. And once I went to school on a more-than-full-time basis, he went to daycare full time.

He did great. And I have to admit, it was great for me, too. Two years with a baby, one who refused to sleep, meant that some time away, doing things with only other adults, felt pretty awesome. So, I did just that. Spent more time with other adults every week than with him. Spent more time with other children every week than with him.

I impressed people, made a name for myself, and now I’m quitting.

Alex is very excited. I’m anxiously psyched to begin a new routine. A new day-to-day. Domestic, picking Alex up after school, being there with him on sick days, not having to wake up at the crack of dawn to get to work.

Not having to do every single chore and every single errand on the weekend? I can’t begin to imagine how different that will feel for all of us.

We are lucky. Immensely lucky. It won’t necessarily be something we can do forever, but for now?

I quit.

Little dude cuddles before a few nights away.

If I Had A Flower For Every Time I Thought Of You…I Could Walk Through My Garden Forever

My lovely little Alexander,

Alexander eating bananas. I screwed up this year. I didn’t complete your slideshow or yearly letter on time, so this year you get something a week late. I have a lot of guilt over this, but I have a sneaking suspicion that you don’t mind one iota. Instead of spending time on this around your birthday, we spent a wonderful five days together. With your birthday falling on a Thursday, and camp ending the day before, your Dad and I decided to take Thursday and Friday off to spend the last few days of summer together. And Monday being a holiday? Bonus! We had an amazing five day weekend full of back to school shopping, birthday day fun, and a very small amount of relaxing.

Seven days ago? You turned seven. Seven. Can you believe it? I certainly can’t. When people ask me what age you are I find myself stumbling over the words. “He can’t be seven!” I think. FrenchBakery

Seven days ago we spent the day doing some of your favorite things. Other than the obligatory yearly well-child visit, the day was about you. We went to your favorite french bakery, the toy store, and a second viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy. Needless to say, the bakery, toy shopping, and movie were a big hit. And the whole day I kept looking at you, staring at you, saying, “Buddy! I can’t believe you’re my seven year old now!” You would smile every time in this way that you do, with a slight flush to your cheeks, your eyes bright and knowing, and the corners of your mouth attempting to not spread out too wide in a grin.

“Seven, buddy! Seven!” I would grab you saying, amazed at the fact. But seven you are! And what a year it has been. What changes we have seen in you! And what an amazing young man you are becoming.

While you were six, you started and completed Kindergarten. It was not an easy start, and really it wasn’t easy at the end, either. But you did it! You graduated from Kindergarten, and learned so much along the way.

First Day of Kindergarten

You continue to be a very sensitive, loving, kind person. We frequently discuss your feelings, of which you have many, and how various things in life affect them. It’s a struggle for you to not take everything personally, and to not be very worried about how you are doing in life. While this causes you some pain, it also means you are a very conscientious young kid with a big heart. I have never once been concerned about you being mean to another kid.

And now you are beginning first grade, your first time in a full day learning environment as Kindergarten was a half day program. First grade is going to be The Big Serious, at least relatively speaking, and I am nervously excited to see how the year turns out for you.

Unlike Kindergarten, you were quite excited for the beginning of first grade. In fact, you were so excited that you “didn’t sleep at all!” the night before. You woke your father up at five in the morning, exclaiming your inability to sleep. When I picked you up after your first day of school, your eyes were glossed over and you told me you felt like you were dreaming all day. Your excitement kept you awake and had you wake up far too early in the morning, something I can relate to for sure!

March 1, 2014

For your birthday this year, you had very specific plans. You knew that on your actual birthday day, we would do something quiet, small, just you and your parents. But we discussed doing something bigger a few days later. We had talked about doing a party, but you wanted nothing to do with that. I must admit that when you told me your plans I was both surprised and yet not so surprised. Your plans were so very you.

This was your birthday plan:
Go out to breakfast and order peanut butter/chocolate pancakes
Go to the toy store and get toys (you knew there could be a lot because you chose not to have a party)
Have sushi for lunch, specifically sushi rolls with cream cheese in them
Go rollerskating!
Have Chipotle for dinner

We didn’t quite have that day exactly as you had desired. We went to Chuck E Cheese in the afternoon, had amazing pizza for dinner, and entirely skipped the toy store as you had gone two days before in between eating macaroons and seeing an IMAX 3D movie and the day before after back to school shopping when you got maybe the coolest costume yet.

And little man, I’m so happy that you still love costumes, superheroes, reading, and wrestling. I love that you have grown into an immense love of swimming. I love that you were so excited about starting first grade that you couldn’t sleep. I love that you still like to dress up sometimes, wearing ties and blazers. I love that you and Daddy have a love of comic books and Dr. Who and Adventure Time together, and that I can join in on the love in my own way. And I love that last night you told me you couldn’t help it, you just had to kiss me again and again and again…

July 12

I can’t wait to continue watching you grow up, Alex. You make me so proud.


I love you, Little Dude. Forever and ever.

Love,
Mom

When you turned one!

When you turned two!

When you turned three!

When you turned four!

When you turned five!

When you turned six!

The Surprise We Kept

Zach’s father just celebrated his 60th birthday. To commemorate the amazingness that is turning 60, Zach’s mother decided we should throw a surprise party.

But not just any surprise party. This would be extra special. Amazingly special. We would get family and friends from all over the country in addition to the family and friends that are close. We would have amazing food, a bartender (!), and lots and lots of fun. It would be hosted at our house, under the guise that Zach would make us all cocktails before a fancy dinner out in order to get Zach’s father, called Big D by Alex (and, let’s be honest, everyone else at this point because kids do that), to our place.

Somehow we managed to keep the secret. Somehow, even though Alex knew for months, no one spilled the beans.

Somehow we managed to get almost all of the many people who love Big D to Pittsburgh, staying in hotels, quietly facebooking so no one knew where they were, eating take-out at our house because we couldn’t go out and risk being spotted! Somehow we managed to absolutely shock Big D.

D's 60th Birthday Party

And, yeah, there were many (happy) tears shed.

D's 60th Birthday Party

At one point Alex asked me why people were crying. “Sometimes, people cry when they are happy. They’re happy tears!” I attempted to explain through tears. He looked at me like I was crazy and walked away, only to show up again when cake was served.

It is a funny thing to cry when happy, but I, along with at least ten other people, shed a lot of tears during this party. It made taking pictures a bit difficult at times because everything was so blurry and made me even happier to be the one behind the camera so I could mostly hide my ugly-cry-face.

All of Big D’s siblings were able to make it: three from New England and one flew all the way up from Florida!

D's 60th Birthday Party

Plus their spouses and kids, and kids’ kids!

D's 60th Birthday Party

The outtakes from the family pictures are, by far, my favorite pictures of the day. People who see each other not nearly enough having way too much fun.

D's 60th Birthday Party

And then there’s Alex making this ridiculous face in nearly all of the pictures:

D's 60th Birthday Party

He’s lucky he’s cute and was surrounded by so many people who love him and even more who love his Big D (and therefore have to be nice to him).

It was an amazing day.

D's 60th Birthday Party

We are all lucky to have someone as wonderful as Big D in our life.