That La Kid

wishin' an' hopin'!

so glad that you asked!

Okay, here’s my essay, I’ve been looking for an excuse to post this for a long time, anyway:

Sorry the pictures are so crappy.  I was too excited to wait and take them in better lighting.

I am decorating my house as much like an Imagineer as I can.  As it turns out, it’s kind of like a muggle attempting wizardry, but anyway…. I looooove Disney.  Odds are you already know that.  So, without offending the Mickey fanatic decorators in the audience, red, black and yellow and Mickey silhouettes don’t do anything for me.  It’s kind of too obvious.  Where’s the subtlety in that?  The art?  The true fandom?  I love Mickey, don’t get me wrong.  But that’s so one-dimensional.

You know what I love?  Fort Wilderness.   Tom and I went right after we got pregnant and it was magical.

My dining room is probably my favorite room in the house, themed around Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground.  The previous owners of our house used sticks from their yard as curtain rods in the dining room, with burlap draperies.  We didn’t notice until the day that we got the keys.  We both looked at it, and at each other and thought, “Gee, what can we do with that?”  Fort Wilderness.  It was difficult to not include Frontierland, or even Wilderness Lodge, but to limit the room specifically to Fort Wilderness.  I’m a stickler for authenticity.  Fort Wilderness, to me, is Daniel Boone, and early east coast forts built around the Revolutionary War, just as we new Americans began to venture westward.  Frontierland conveys more of a Wild Wild West theme to me, a post-Civil War/Gold Rush era, and Wilderness Lodge pays homage to the great lodges of the Northwest and in my opinion brings us basically into the 20th century.  I could have done a lot with geysers, National Parks and totem poles, but I decided to stay true to Fort Wilderness, specifically.

There’s not much to go on in the world of Imagineering Fort Wilderness.  So my design is based primarily on personal experience.  For the record, I don’t have enough horse stuff.  Let me just clear the air and get that out of the way right now.  The Tri-Circle-D Ranch is a big part of the Fort.  I need to incorporate the horses in some capacity at some point.

But for now…

The first installation in the Fort Wilderness dining room was the black Mickey icon chandelier.  Didn’t I say I wasn’t into mouse-ear silhouettes everywhere?  I did say that, didn’t I?  Well, I’ve made and exception in the form of Mickey’s head over my dining room table.  I bought the chandelier at a Disney Character Outlet (in Woodbridge, VA I think) before I even had a house because I knew I had to have it.  It’s very versatile.  It went with the house in Virginia, and it works here in the Fort.  I want to get a Mickey Mouse cast iron trivet to go with it, but we’re still a work in progress.

Mickey Chandelier

 

The centerpiece of the room is the table.  We found a gorgeous table at Nadeau.  It’s huge!  It seats at least 8.

Nadeau table

 

We knew we wanted a bar to store wine and a buffet to store entertainment ware (punch bowl, chip/dip plates, etc.).  I happened upon the Verona Bar and Verona Buffet at World Market.  I did some research and discovered their annual dining room sale, so we waited several weeks and bought them at a discount.  On top of that, we caught a store Grand Opening not too far from us for even deeper savings.

World Market Verona Buffet

The table, bar and buffet were easy.  We met and fell in love immediately.  Seating has been difficult.  We knew we wanted benches.  Where do you eat when you’re camping?  At a picnic table.  We bought benches to match the bar and buffet, and would you believe it, they are exactly ONE INCH too long to fit under the table.  We went ahead and set them up so we’d have something for Bruce’s party, but the search continues.

But I digress.  I’m getting away from what I wanted to be the meat and potatoes here, Fort Wilderness.

It’s nice to be an artist.  It’s not necessary to pull off a decently designed space, but it helps.  I wanted something that deliberately brought my campsite into the dining room, so I created a casual charcoal sketch on newsprint and framed it in a rich wooden frame that I found at Michael’s.

Fort Wilderness Campsite Sketch

 

Did you know in “The American Adventure” at Epcot, they only use the technology of the time to display various periods throughout American history?  For example, we don’t see photographs until the Civil War era.  Prior to that the story is told via paintings.  (I guess Audio-Animatronics count as real people.)  I tried to adhere to this rule in my post-Revolutionary War fort, but I broke my own rule with a photo that I took of Reception Outpost.

Reception Outpost

 

On the other side of my charcoal sketch is another work of art that I created.  I thought pioneers venturing out into the wilderness might return with sketches and descriptions of newly discovered flora and fauna (and Merriweather! Wait…).  Bearing that in mind, I drew a picture of the Dusky Seaside Sparrow.  This tragic character is extinct as of 1987, and the last known living Dusky resided at Discovery Island on Bay Lake.  His legacy lives on in my dining room.

Dusky Seaside Sparrow

 

When I was researching Fort Wilderness, I found one image.

Fort Wilderness Train

 

So I was tickled to have received this for my birthday:

Train Print

 

I’m sure it’s actually Frontierland, and I’m aware that rail travel came much later than my assumed Fort era,  but I’m willing to let that slide because it’s so similar to the image of the Fort Wilderness train (which was decommissioned and turned into ticket booths at Pleasure Island).  The lush greens could really go either way.  It’s not like it’s a Big Thunder print.

Here are some other little touches from around the room:

Fort Wilderness Dining Room

 

I’m still on the hunt for a hand-woven Native American table runner, so if you know anybody…

And here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the whole shebang, my pretty subtle Disney Dining Room:

Fort Wilderness Dining Room

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adventure is out there

I’m so excited about this that I’m downright giddy.

I’ve been cooking it up since Bruce’s first trip to Disney World in December. I have no idea how many times I’ve been to Disney World. I wanted to commemorate and remember each of Bruce’s trips. When he’s 10, I want him to be able to say, “I’ve been exactly — times.”

Pictures are great, and we take a picture of Bruce on Gaston’s chair each time. But you know, pictures are hard to display in large quantities. It’ll be tough to have something cute but unfinished or not full. Not to mention, at any moment Disney could pull Gaston’s chair. It may be a while, but they could decide to refurbish Gaston’s Tavern anytime. What happens when we have 38 pictures of him in one spot then the spot disappears? Plus, we don’t make it to Magic Kingdom, or any one spot, every trip.

At any rate, here’s a shameless picture of the most adorable kid in the village sitting in Gaston’s chair. Awwww.

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So, I need something that will never be inaccessible. I need something that will be as cute on his first trip as it is on his 50th trip. Whatever it is, one has to look as good as one hundred.

I started looking at creative guest books. I kept coming back to a tree with thumbprint leaves. How can I Disnify this idea?

BOOM BABY.

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Pretty self-explanatory. I drew Carl and Ellie’s house. We add a balloon for each trip as soon as we get back, using Bruce’s fingerprint. Whether the trip is 1 day or 10, it gets one balloon. It’s been sitting on my desk in pieces since December, but last night I decided that I’m tired of having so many projects up in the air (HAAAAAA, no pun intended). I bought a frame and painted the background. The balloons and house are gingerly glued to the background so that if I do run out of space, eventually, I can pull it all apart and glue it onto a new bigger background.

I am so ecstatic! It’s so cute!

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DIDNEY WERL!

We just got back from Disney this morning at 3:02 am.  We were shooting for 2:30, and were making perfect time but had to stop to give Bruce a banana.  Would you believe that added a half hour to our trip?

I drove about half way, which was, like, a miracle because I never drive anymore.  It was nice, though.  I think Tom and I both managed to come home more rested than last time.

Bruce was fussing a while ago, and I couldn’t figure out what his beef was.  He didn’t want the cheesy grits that I was force-feeding him, and he had just woken up and was wearing a fresh diaper.  I put him in bed out of sheer frustration.  He cried.  I brought him a bottle.  He was calm, and now he’s out.  So, I guess we’re all pretty tired after our long trip.  Dude’s only been out of bed for like an hour and a half today.

On Friday, Tom, Bruce and I went to Hollywood Studios.  It wasn’t crowded, but boy was I cranky.  I don’t know what the problem was.  I even told myself not to ruin my own day.  It didn’t work.  I found every little thing, every individual that crossed my path, to be irritating.  We went to Playhouse Disney.  Walked up at 4:12.  Show started at 4:10, doors were shut.  We had to wait until 5.  Usually there’s a line outside all day.  So, I was surprised that they weren’t at capacity with a line for the next show.  We came back a few minutes before 5 and got in line.  We found a spot on the carpet in what would be considered the second row.  I told Tom he was leaving too much space between him and the people in front of him, but he wanted Bruce to be able to jump around without hitting anyone.  Admirable, but he left too much space.  One minute to showtime, two snot-nosed brats got all up in our space, blowin’ up our spot.  No parents.  Just a 6 and 8 year old.  An obnoxious 6 and 8 year old.  P.S. Playhouse Disney is for preschoolers.  It’s my fault.  No.  It’s Tom’s fault.  I told Tom.  I was SO MAD.  In Voyage of the Little Mermaid, the people behind us wanted to talk, in Spanish, through the whole show.  Uhm… we went to eat at 5:35 and the place we wanted to go (because they had veggie sandwiches) closed at 5:30.  Tom bought me a drink, which did nothing to bring me back to earth.  We went on the Backlot Tour.  That was actually really nice.  After the pre-show, they have a restroom so we stopped and changed Bruce.  The changing table is situated in such a way that, although there’s not really any privacy to keep the general public from seeing Bruce’s man-parts, Tom could attend him from the mens’ room, while I helped from the ladies’ side.  It was pretty fun.  It put us in the back of the line.  (Ugh, the line.  Everyone was looking at us like we were criminals because we brought the stroller through the line because THEY’RE stupid and don’t know that you CAN bring a stroller on the Backlot Tour.)  When we got to the vehicles, the cast member directed us to a lane, and then said I’ll do ya’ one better.  He put us alone in the back row so we could prop the stroller up in front of us.  #WINNING!  I felt like I was sticking it to all the dumb f*cks who were eyeballing me in line.  They all had to wait for us to get on.  They all had to sit there next to each other all stinky and sweaty and wait while we mounted the back, our own private car.

We went to Fantasmic and got there about an hour early.  I never do that, but we’d done everything that we could with Bruce, so I figured why not at least go where we can sit down.  There was a huge line, and an even longer line for Fastpass+ and the Dinner Package.  It was insane.  We were all the way on the far side of the amphitheater.  It was very discouraging, although Lindsay said when she was there with the Gonsalveses last week, it was practically empty at the second show.  That made me feel better.  There was only one show Friday night.  It was a good day, that was the only place that we encountered any kind of line or crowd.  The family of four in front of us each had their own camera and decided to all take flash pictures of the entire show.  I don’t know why they kept trying.  Their pictures were sh*t.  I know.  I saw them light up on the review screen every single time.  Just a railing hit with the flash, and a foggy white blur of fountains or fireworks in the background.  I just watched the show.  Didn’t take a single picture.  It was nice.

The Beauty and the Beast float was missing from the Princess Medley.  And it broke my heart to hear some kid say, “who’re those people?” when the Indians came out in their canoes.

Friday night we stayed at the Maingate Lakeside Resort.  Our go-to off-property place.  We found a Winn-Dixie and bought a rotisserie chicken, crackers, and cheese, as well as cheap fruit and made spinach/kale/fruit smoothies in the room.  Bruce had a horrible night.  He woke up over and over and over until we put him in bed with us in the wee hours of the morning.  He was very, very tired on Saturday.

We managed to make it out of our room right at check out time, 11 am, I believe.  We headed over to Port Orleans to check-in.  Usually I sit in the car and let Tom do the leg work, but I wanted to see the lobby.  It was really nice.  We had requested a high room, but they were able to put us on the first floor immediately if we didn’t want to wait.  In hindsight, it worked out to our advantage.  It was a parking lot view, but easy, easy, EASY access to the truck.  We parked right in front of our room, 9608.

We’d stayed at French Quarter before, but this was our first time at P.O. Riverside.  If I was going to pick, I’d have probably gone with FQ again, but since it was only for one night, I thought I’d splurge on a Royal Room.  I’ve always wanted to stay in a Royal Room.  The idea is that this is the place where Tiana’s princess friends all stay when they visit, and the room is littered with personal touches from each princess.

OH MY GOD IT WAS AMAZING.

My whole cranky-pants mood turned completely around at the door to our Royal Guest Room.  It took my breath away.  There were little “hidden Mickeys” or “hidden princesses” everywhere.  The faucets looked like lamps from Aladdin, and Carpet was on the carpet.  There was a framed picture of Tiana that had been made by the Seven Dwarfs.  Under the picture, was the footstool from “Beauty and the Beast.”  There was a small shelf with hooks by the door decorated with the carriage from Cinderella.  Ariel single-handedly owned the bathroom.  The shower curtain was printed with dinglehoppers and snarfblats.  It was a Disney fan’s room.  Portraits of Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Tiana and Rapunzel graced the wall.  The headboards held a super-awesome secret surprise.

I felt like I was staying in the Cinderella Castle Suite at the Magic Kingdom.

We had to leave.  We had things to do.  We had to get to Animal Kingdom — or so Tom thought.

As it turned out, there was a Martial Arts competition at the Wide World of Sports that same weekend.  So, for my birthday, I took Tom to the competition.  He totally geeked out.  It was outstanding.  I told him I wanted to get to AK the quickest way possible, so I’d do the GPS.  I (thought I) turned the volume all the way down on my phone only to hear Siri say, “STARTING ROUTE TO ESPN WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS COMPLEX.”  Crap.  I just kept acting like I was directing Tom towards Animal Kingdom, and he obediently went straight when I told him to.  Despite the big entrance that says, “ESPN WIDE WORLD OF SPORTS COMPLEX” he thought we were on the way to Animal Kingdom up until we turned into the parking lot.

Tom’s expression was priceless.  I think he said, “really? What? Really?”  I was geeking out, too.  It was nice to see him so happy.  It was awesome to be able to surprise him.  We took lots of pictures, and made it into the building where the competition was around 1, I think.  Bruce was restless, so we  went to the car and got his blanket.  He fell asleep on the walk there, so I sat outside with him while Tom went inside the arena.  It was a bummer to not be with him, but I know he likes to talk to coaches and stuff.  I’m confident in his ability to fly solo at these things and what could we do?  We had a tired kid.  I wanted Bruce to be in a good mood at our special dinner.

I texted Tom at 4 as a thunderstorm was rolling in.  I was like, “let’s get out of here so we don’t get stuck.”  We went to the room to get our ponchos and the rain stopped.  But honestly, I’d rather take the time to get the poncho and it not rain than try to make a run for it with just enough time to make it to our reservation with no poncho and get soaked — because in that case, it would absolutely have rained on us.

We got to Animal Kingdom at 5:10.  Lindsay called.  “Where are you guys?”  Tom confidently said, “we are walking up to Animal Kingdom right now!”  (Because we parked right at the entrance.)  I don’t know how that conversation went, but she was outside the restaurant at Downtown Disney.  I guess I never mentioned to her that we could only get reservations at the AK one.

She made it by about 5:35.

In honor of my 20th birthday dinner at Rainforest Cafe in Tyson’s Corner, at which Tom showed up and I fell in love, we took our little baby that we made and met Lindsay Kaye and had dinner celebrating my 30th.  It was pricey, and the food was just okay.  But holy crap, Bruce LOVED it.  He LOVED watching all the animals and was situated so that he could watch the gorillas whenever they became animated.  THAT was awesome.  Never would have thought that in 10 years I’d have been back at Rainforest, with my husband and our son.

After dinner, Tom went back to the competition for the grand finale and Lindsay and I took Bruce for a walk around the resort.  It was so awesome.  I felt bad about sending Tom alone, especially since we had a babysitter.  But he came back just grinning ear to ear, wearing Lindsay’s Disney CM name tag, and talking about how much fun he had hanging out with the security guards.  I had a lot more fun on my walk than I think I would’ve had at the competition.  Riverside is pretty sweet for a Moderate Resort.  It’ll be very tough to go back to a Value Resort after this.  From 5:30 pm – 9:30 pm, they have horse-drawn carriage rides.  The grounds are perfectly manicured, and lush.  We walked along a path by the water as boats passed on their way to Downtown Disney.  We went by the pool, it was big and nice and on an island, so I assume you could swim at all hours and not disturb anyone.  (Although I hear that policy will be changing.)  In the main building off the lobby, they have a singer/pianist in a bar.  That place was packed!  He was hilarious.  It was just a really fun atmosphere.  I can’t wait to go back.

We all slept a lot later than I had planned.  I had hoped to get to breakfast at some ungodly hour, because Tom kept talking about breakfast buffets.  We all woke up around 10.  We showered and decided to eat in Epcot.

I had a creme brule (sp?) in France and a glass of Bordeaux.  Tom and I split the Lucky Combo in China, which comes with a pork bun, curry chicken pastry thing, egg roll, strawberry red-bean ice cream and a Coke.  $10.  I think it’s the best deal at World Showcase.  We walked all of World Showcase, all the countries, which was all I really wanted to do.  As a bonus, we hit Journey into Imagination, and Living with the Land.  Actually, the whole reason that I started writing this post was to tell you about Living with the Land.  When we passed the farm house, you know, there’s that dog on the porch barking.  Bruce barked back.  It was SO COOL!  He’s so smart.  I love that little boy.  Bruce was so cute the whole trip.  He really looked around and watched stuff.  We planned to leave at 4.  We actually left Epcot around 4, but didn’t leave Disney until 7:24, according to Tom.  It’s his own fault.  Tom said that we should eat and then go.  So, we went to Port Orleans.  We’ve never had the Food Court there before, so that’d be something new and different.  We walked by Boatwright’s, the table service restaurant at PO Riverside.  They opened at 5, and it was about 4:50.  We went to the food court, but Tom just kept talking about the other place.  So, even though leaving sooner rather than later was for his benefit, he opted for Boatwright’s.

It was GREAT!  Bruce had cheesy-grits, one of his favorites.  Lindsay had a chicken caesar salad.  For a couple of dollars more, she could’ve had an amazing catfish instead of an alright salad.  Next time.  I had the catfish, Tom had crawfish.  His was kind of like a stew over rice, Etouffe.  Mine was crusted with something that was a tad spicy, but I weathered it.  Considering the theme of the resort, everything was a bit on the spicy side.  It came with that Disney corn bread that we all love.  Tom and I both thought it was among the best food that we’ve had on property and just furthered the case for another stay in a Royal Room in the not too distant future.

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idiot

Hey, if you sell your 6 year old car seat, which is expired and does not conform to safety standards, to two innocent brand-spanking new parents who barely know which end the diaper goes on, YOU SUUUUUUUCK.

Likewise, if you decide you’re not going to pay retail anymore and you’re going to do this baby thing on the cheap and you think, “Wow, what a bargain! Those fools! How dumb of all the other noobs out there to be buying all new stuff!” YOU SUUUUUUUCK!

Yeah. Did you know car seats have expiration dates? Apparently, they do! So, special note to any moms to-be who may be reading this and wondering if they can save money by buying used: just buy a new stroller, for heaven’s sake.

We registered for this: http://www.target.com/p/chicco-cortina-keyfit-travel-system-vega/-/A-13206365#prodSlot=medium_1_24&term=chicco

Image

I remember seeing it in a store display once when I thought I was pregnant but just had a huge cyst. Love at first sight. It was so pretty. So cool. But you know what, it’s not sold in stores. I didn’t see it in a store after that. It’s expensive. We didn’t get it. So, we got this:

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It’s not bad, and it was $75 on craigslist. What a bargain! I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it. It gets the job done. (I know what you’re thinking, and I couldn’t locate the expiration date on it, but it was manufactured in 2011. So worst case scenario, it shouldn’t expire until 2017. We actually bought it in 2012, so I still think we got a good deal.)

I continued the search for a used Chicco KeyFit in Vega because I love it. Found a Chicco KeyFit that was black and green. Not as cool as the Vega, but still pretty cool. AND it matches the diaper bag that Great Aunt Dee Dee gave us (which I LOVE). So, it looked like a win all around. They asked $100 for the stroller, car seat and two bases.

Everything was going fine. We even test-drove the new (OLD) Chicco stroller at Disney World. I loved it. Downside: it has one cup-holder. My old (newer!) Graco stroller had two. But it’s so pretty and in essence is the travel system that was on our registry. Then, for some reason this morning I woke up with a wild hair up my butt to check out what the dealio is with this whole expiration thing.

It makes me mad. The sellers told us that the people who looked at the car seat before us didn’t take it because the base was expired. If the previous people knew to check the base, surely they knew to also check the bottom of the seat. (Although, we didn’t. But, I mean, CLEARLY we are idiots because we knew the base was going to expire and bought it anyway. It expires in October, so I figured at that point he’d be a year old and we’d upgrade to a bigger seat.) So, the sellers had to be lying to our faces. Dangit. They seemed so nice. They said it was all a scam by the car seat companies to sell more car seats. And, “oh, back in my day we just rolled around in the back of the station wagon with no seat belts…”

Well, it’s not a scam by car seat manufacturers. It’s a plastic-becomes-dry-and-brittle-after-sitting-in-the-sun-in-you-car-for-6-years legit thing! I’m sure it’s a conservative estimate, but how can I put Bruce in it now that I’ve seen the label that says, “DO NOT USE AFTER 02 FEB 2013?”

expiration date

Other than this, I’ve had such positive experiences on craigslist! I hate that my constant quest for the best quality at the best price has cost me more money. Our family has spent $315 on strollers and car seats! I could have bought a brand new travel system for $300! To top it off, a new one might have lasted through several kids without expiring! Dangit!

I forget that you are not in my head, so as I write and re-read and re-write this, I am wondering what backstory I need to add or clarify. I love the Liteway. Maybe I shouldn’t count it in my tally of money wasted on strollers because that one is a keeper either way.

I also have a new liteway stroller, so maybe I should just buy a convertible car seat, new, like, from a store, and be done with it. Contrary to what Tom thinks, Bruce is getting too big and too heavy to be toted around in the car seat as a carrier. He’s starting to sit up on his own. (Oh yeah, that happened! Brand new this week!) Maybe he can sit up in shopping carts and high chairs from now on, and if he needs pushing, we do it in the Liteway.

So. I’m new at this. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Love to. I’m feeling very overwhelmed. Can I get by with just using the Liteway, which is a very glorified umbrella stroller? I guess it all depends on my lifestyle? My only issue with the Liteway is that it doesn’t have a huge basket underneath for the diaper bag. It has a cup holder for mom, but no tray or cup holder for Bruce. I don’t want to buy a new travel system if we’re on the cusp of not using it as a system anymore. How long did you use your big stroller? Did you have both a regular stroller and an umbrella stroller? Bruce is almost 8 months old. How long to babies ride backwards in car seats? When do we need to get a bigger seat? The car seat, it seems, goes to 22 lbs. I forget what he was at the last check-up. I want to say it was around 17. Okay, yeah I just checked. He was 17 lbs. at his 6 month check-up. So, he’s 5 lbs. away from growing out of the car seat anyway, which I am guesstimating will happen at about the one year mark?

I am thinking we switch back to ol’ reliable, the old newer one. Well, I mean, definitely we do that first because this new OLD one isn’t safe. But, I mean as a long-term plan, do I just go back to what I have or should I just buy a new Chicco car seat and continue to use the prettier Chicco stroller? Or should I buy a convertible seat and use the big Chicco travel system’s stroller and the Liteway depending on the situation? Or do I just sell the new OLD stroller to recoup my loss because I’m mad at it? Or do I sell the used crap for what I paid for it, buy the Chicco KeyFit in Vega, because that’s what I wanted all along, use that car seat for a couple of months, hoping I’ll have another kid in the next 5 years that can use it for real?

Sad thing is I have $100 in giftcards. Plus the $175 I spent on craigslist… Yeah. Absolutely could’ve had exactly what I wanted from day one with about the amount I’ve spent so far. In my defense, though, I had every intention of selling the $75 Graco when we bought the new OLDER $100 Chicco.

I feel bad, because when I bought the shiny new OLDER one, Tom said, “I like the one he has, but if you like this better…” *facepalm*

We were good! Why did I have to — whatever. Doesn’t matter. It’s really just a $100 mistake. $100 Stupid Tax. I keep thinking that it was a $315 minstake, but it wasn’t. If we can get rid of the new OLD stroller for $100, then it’s a $0 mistake. Even if I unload the new OLD stroller for $50 and throw away the car seat, I’ve only paid a $50 stupid tax.

AND it smelled funny! I should have known. The new OLD car seat that we bought always smelled weird. I immediately missed the smell of my old newer one.

Wish Ikea sold car seats.

***UPDATE 6/29/13***
We sold the stroller a week or two ago. The guy said “what can you do to help out a Mexican guy?”
To which Tom replied, “Make me an offer.”
“$80?”
“Sounds good.”
“Aw, man. You see, I should’ve said $50.” It worked out, because before the dude showed up we talked about going as low as $75.

We also bought a convertible car seat, brand-spanking-new, for about $90 and I have fallen back in love with the original Graco travel system that we bought. I have a new respect for the thing. The sellers were wonderful people and we got a great deal.

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some things

I keep meaning to update, and in the midst of it all I also keep writing posts about myself and not having the courage to post them – AIN’T NOBODY GOT TIME FO’ DAT!

Some things that I don’t want to forget:

  • Bruce has been shuffling across the floor, but he’s really gaining momentum this week especially.  I think I can can count a little maneuver he did last night as legit crawling.
  • Just after we got back from Virginia for Sunny’s graduation, Bruce would open his mouth on my cheek and say, “muh.”  They were sweet but short-lived kisses.  I’m not losing hope, though.  The dancing thing started out the same way.  He did it once, then forgot.  But now he does it all the time.  Particularly when Momma wants a kiss.
  • On April 20, about a week before Gran & Grandpa’s wedding, Gran found two little bottom front teeth.  I’m an idiot – didn’t know that was, like, a thing.  Apparently, your first tooth, or two together in Luong Jye’s (sp?) case, is a big deal.  No sign of the upper level dudes.
  • We went to Walt Disney World after the wedding.  It rained, and it rained, and it rained.  But we wrapped our precious infant in a plastic bag and carried on through the cold, damp night.  And the parent of the year award goes to….
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Seriously, how stinkin’ cute is he?!

We started with one adult poncho to cover the stroller.  Then, I decided that I was tired of being damp.  Then finally Tom got one when the rain just wouldn’t let up.  And eventually, we were like, “well, Bruce likes fireworks… we should take him out of the stroller for that… and keep him dry… and also keep the stroller dry…”

So, this family of 3 has 4 ponchos.

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Show ’em how it’s done!

We did all the normal stuff.  Just wetter.  And wrapped in plastic.  Oh, and we crashed Gran & Grandpa’s honeymoon.

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But look how happy Gran was to see Bruce!

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Playing with Gran & Grandpa’s cake toppers.

Grandpa didn’t even mind it all that much.

It was nice.  It was just a nice dynamic popping in to visit, and then going back to our ratty off-property “resort.”  Gran and Grandpa were so happy to see us.  We kind of felt like guests.  “You guys want some soda?”  “No, thank you.  We don’t want to drink all your Dr. Pepper.” “No big deal, help yourself.”  I washed my glass when I was done instead of just dropping it in the sink because, you know, I was a guest in their “home.”  We went to dinner Tuesday night, then left them alone until Sunday when they disembarked the Disney Dream.  (At least, I think it was the Dream this time.)

I told Bruce that he’s so fortunate to be on his third trip to Walt Disney World when so many other little boys haven’t been once.  Lucky boy!  He didn’t seem to care either way.

He was happy though.  I’m constantly surprised at how happy he is all the time.  I like it.  As soon as I got knocked up, I said we were replacing Mr. Nasty with Lil’ Happy.  (Thought it was going to be Miss Happy, but anyway…)  I don’t know where the name came from, why I thought Happy and not Healthy, Adorable, Cutie, Sweetie… but he is SO happy.

This last trip, I decided that Bruce’s first birthday party is going to be New Fantasyland, Storybook Circus. We had an “it’s a small world” shower, Storybook Circus first… we’ll just work out way through the parks until he’s 21 and we drink around Epcot.

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We got to visit Lindsay at her house, too.  It was our first time there.  (Although I’ve become very familiar with the living room since skype-guarding it.)  I didn’t want to make Lindsay about-face as soon as she got home and take us to Shutters, so we went to Jack somebody’s something Shack at Royal Palm Pointe, right on the water.  It was nice, I couldn’t stop geeking out over eating on the water, but the food was meh.  We all would’ve preferred Shutters, but at least now we know.  I assumed Riverside would’ve been crowded, but we didn’t even check.  Should have checked.  Well, I mean, I guess we didn’t know any better.

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Sarah let Tom, Bruce and me sleep in her bed.  That was awesome.  Awesome!

I almost forgot!  Bruce started riding around in his stroller like a big boy at Walt Disney World.  I don’t know what I will do not looking at his wittle face anymore.  Tom still likes to keep him in the seat, and it is taxing buckling and unbuckling him all the time, but I think his car-seat-stroller days are numbered.  Now that he’s getting used to the sitting thing, he’s also more inclined to let us push him in the red stroller, which is nice because it’s like a fancy umbrella stroller, so it’s lightweight and folds up much smaller than the travel system.

I think he enjoys the view.

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I’d like to know what this little boy has done with my little baby.

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disney “pros”

HEY!  If you have a Disney Theme Park Podcast – you better know what the heck you’re talking about!

So, I’m listening to this podcast… I’m not sure why – because they’ve let me down before.  They’re talking about Top 5 Epcot attractions that they miss.  Okay, fine.  I’ll listen.  (Even though their website says, “Your Disney NEWS” and attractions that have been boarded up for a decade are hardly news.)  They all list the same ones.  Yeah.  Each person lists their Top 5.  It’s not a cumulative and well-researched list of the absolute best… 4 people each come up with their Top 5… up to 20 things.

Really?  Would you REALLY rather have Food Rocks than Soarin’?

In the same conversation, they poop on Ellen’s Energy Adventure being dated.  But Food Rocks, yeah, we miss Food Rocks SO HARD.

I should have quit when one of the hosts said, “Supposeably.”

Towards the end of their Long Lost Epcot Top 5, they’re talking smack about the Sorcerer Mickey hat at Disney-MGM Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Look, NO ONE likes that friggin’ hat.  No one likes it.  They have to have it… they have to cover the Chinese Theater.  DO SOME RESEARCH.  I don’t have official sources, but these podcast folks don’t even bring it up – they don’t even mention, “Oh, by the way – rumor has it Disney didn’t want to continue paying for the rights to use Grauman’s Chinese Theater on promotional materials, so they had to block it.”

I listened to the dribble for almost a solid hour!  Talk, talk, talk… saying nothing.

Tom says I should start a Disney blog, but I’m aware of my limitations.  As much as I know about Walt Disney World, there are people out there who know more (although not these people).  Why would people come to me for news and updates when I’m getting my news and updates from DisneyParksBlog.com?  Why do they need me to tell them that Thomas Jefferson is the Sheriff in the old west on the Great Movie Ride when they could learn it for themselves on a YouTube video of Jim Korkis?

I was listening to some Disney-Mommy podcast and they were talking about where they use their Disney Dining Credits, like, which restaurants are worthy.  If you’re paying full price for your hotel and tickets and are rewarded with free dining, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.

If you’re hardcore with Disney, then you are a Disney Vacation Club Member.  If you’re a DVC Member, they don’t offer free dining plans – but that’s okay!  You are already saving thousands and thousands of dollars on annual vacations by being a member of the club.

If  you are a person who’d like to take their kids to Disney at some point in their life, perhaps DVC is not for you.  If that’s the case, you might book your trip at regular retail and get free dining (although I still can’t make it make sense to me).  Maybe in that scenario, you would want to hear this podcast about which places are most worthy of surrendering your credits… but if you own and operate a WDW podcast then YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER.

Not all uber-fans are DVC Members.  Tom and I are not DVC Members.  (Yet.)  But we’d still NEVER use the Disney Dining Plan because we are real, hardcore Disney addicts that make it down there as much as we can.  We have Annual Passes, and as a result we’ll never ever book a vacation package that includes our room and park tickets at regular price.  If you are a real Disney know-it-all, I would think you’d have an annual pass and go more than once a year.

That’s another thing – there are always special discounts offered on rooms through Disney’s website.  They ALWAYS offer some kind of end-of-season deal for up to 30% off room rates.  Disney Annual Passholders get room discounts.  AAA members get room discounts.  Why would you ever pay full price for a hotel room at Disney just to eat for free.  Quick service dining package retails for $35/day per person.  You get two quick meals, a snack and a refillable mug.  Well, let’s start right there… bring the mug from your last trip.  I don’t know if Tom and I ever spend $70/day at WDW on quick service meals.  We might (but don’t) each spend $15 for lunch, $15 for dinner.  That’s $30, which leaves $5 for a snack.  ::shrug::  It’s a wash.  You’re not saving some incredible amount of dough by buying into the dining plan.  I don’t think a Dole Hhhhhwhip even costs $5.  I mean, the Quick Service package says right on there, “Save 10%,” so it’s definitely a waste of time if you’re not getting it for free.  (P.S. Annual passholders get discounts at restaurants anyway.)

A Value Resort Package for Tom and I with “free” dining would be $1200.  That includes tickets for 4 days and a hotel for 5 nights.  Those tickets aren’t hoppers, so you have to commit to a park and stay there.  Even if it’s crowded because it’s the Extra Magic Hours Park.

So, alright – let me take the same 5 night trip Tom & Wendy style.  Based on the cost of my AP and the number of uses, it costs me $30/day to get into the parks, times 4 days and two people that’s $240 for tickets.  I’ll save a measly 25% on my room rate.  $75/night at Pop Century times 5 nights = $375.  That last night might cost more since it’s a Friday night, so we’ll round that up to $110, which makes the room for my stay $410.

Room $410 + Tickets $240 = $650.  We would have to eat $550 on two quick service meals and a snack each per day to break even with the retail cost of our trip plus “free” dining.  It’s total BULLCRAP.  I know we don’t eat as regularly as most… assuming we did, $30 per person on lunch and dinner, $5 each on a snack… times 6 days = $420.  We’re still losing $130 with “free” dining.

Our typical cost looks like this:

  • Tickets, $240
  • Room, $410
  • Food, $13.50 theme park meal for lunch x 2 people = $27 x 5 days = $135
  • Food, 2 Incredible Dining Experiences (Cali Grill or Artist Pointe) $50 pp per meal = $250 after taxes and gratuity.
  • Snacks, $50

The grand total on that comes in at $1035.  I just can’t justify $1200 for two free quick service meals per day.  We sleep in.  We relax.  We snack at the hotel.  We eat once in the park at about 3 in the afternoon (except AK).  We don’t stay late a couple of days because we have a big amazing dinner planned at some place awesome.  We’ll have leftovers from those amazing dinners and eat them in front of the fireplace at the Villas at Wilderness Lodge in the late morning before we go to the parks.

I’m not saying EVERYONE should have APs and avoid the dining plan like the plague.  I’m just saying that if you report on a Disney Blog or Podcast then you damn well better.  If I’m trusting you as an authority on the subject, you better be a freakin’ PRO!

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fiiiiiiiinally!

Guess who’s baby’s finally got a car seat?!  Woo hoo!

I hate posting twice in one day, but in my defense we are getting awfully close, I didn’t post at all over the weekend, and these are exciting new developments (if you consider shopping for the bare necessities exciting).

Here’s the thing… love this because it goes all the way.

No, we didn’t buy this one.

Look at it.  It’s like a throne for an astronaut.  Love the color.  One purchase lasts from birth to booster seat.  Love it.  But, it’s $185.  I’m also kind of confused about how to use it, because I remember when my cousin Amy would bring her baby, Kyle (“baby,” who just got his drivers license), to Gammy and Papa’s house she’d bring him inside the house in the infant carrier.  I just feel like that’s more convenient for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, restaurants and all that kind of stuff than taking him out of the car seat and carrying him in.  I got a stroller that’s super lightweight and reeks of awesomeness.  It is perfect for Walt Disney World – it folds up pretty tight but it doesn’t have the infant seat component.  It just reclines back enough for a newborn.

At some point, I am going to be rolled out of the hospital and they’re going to need to see a car seat before they’ll let me leave.  Even if I had the dough for the Alpha-Omega… I don’t know if I can pull the trigger on it while I’m still confused about the carrier situation.  I have also registered for a really cool Chicco Travel System, but it all comes back to the same thing – okay, it’s $300 and I HAVE a kick-ass stroller already.  Do I want to spend all that money on this thing when I really just need the carrier?  I love the stroller part, too, but I hate how big and bulky those things are even when they’re folded down.  It would take up the vast majority of the back of the 4Runner.  And while we could probably fit a few duffel bags back there with it, I don’t know whether or not we could fit a few duffel bags, a Pack ‘n’ Play, a baby tub, a diaper bag, and a dog.

Enter craigslist.  We bought a Graco Travel System for $75.  For $75, I don’t mind taking a risk on a travel system that includes a bulky stroller that we never use.  I was really hoping to spend $25-$40 for a used infant car seat/carrier that would carry us through the first few months while we decided what we liked, so I don’t mind dropping $50 on a stroller that it will click into.  That’s fine.  If we hate it, we can sell it on craigslist.  Maybe we’ll enjoy the travel system.  Who knows?

Our “new” stroller and car seat!

Now, Pack ‘n’ Plays… they are so advanced.  It used to just be a cloth/metal/plastic playpen.  Now it’s that, but with different heights, a bassinet, a changing table, side storage and a character mobile.  Forget it.  I don’t want all that.  Once I get all of that put together I’m never going to want to take it back down and go anywhere.  It’s not temporary enough.  I do, however, LOVE the super-pricey Baby Bjorn Travel Crib.

Only $279!

Stream-lined.  Simple.  Portable.  TWO HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-NINE DOLLARS.  And you’re probably going to want a crib sheet for that, and that’ll set you back an additional $43.  Yowza.

Enter craigslist.

I know Dragon Kid needs a place to sleep while we’re in VA.  I know I don’t like Pack ‘n’ Plays.  I know I don’t want to spend $200 on something I don’t like… but $40… I could go $40 on it.

Retail: $189.95
Because I’m so smart: $40. Boom baby!

Look at that.  Little happy can sleep right next to Papa Bear and Mama Bear… assuming he can sleep through the two of us sawing logs all night.  I don’t have to get up to feed him.  Just grab him and pull him into the bed.

All this talk about baby travel has made me really want that Puj tub.  Someone listed one on CL here in Charlotte, and I found a couple in DC.  If I could get my hands on it for $20-$25 I’d be one happy camper.  Cross your fingers for me.

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head down

Hook Hand Thug: Head down.
Flynn Rider: HEAD DOWN!
Hook Hand Thug: Arms In.
Flynn Rider: ARMS IN!
Hook Hand Thug: Knees apart.
Flynn Rider: KNEES APA – Knees Apart?

Little Happy’s head is down… “That boy has assumed the position!”  I don’t know how anyone can tell that by looking at my stomach, but apparently Dr. Wolanski can.  Feeling kind of crampy, but now that I think about it, it’s not as bad as regular period cramps, but it is a sign that my body’s getting ready to get this wagon train a-rollin’.  Everyone says when it’s labor you will definitely know – so I’m not worried about that.  Dr. Wolanski said he’s 95% sure this week will be uneventful and it’s safe to go back to Charlotte, so that’s what we did.  Doc also said that if the worst should happen, you know, if my water does break – we have plenty of time.  Just call him, tell him what’s happening and he’ll tell us what to do.

So, this week will be spent packing and cleaning and packing some more.  I need to buy a car seat, probably from Craigslist for the time-being.  I also need a solid name.

I want a really good name, like Thomas Andrew La or Wendy Michelle Johnson.  I had so many excellent girl names.  Oh boy, what am I going to do.

I think I also need to print and fill out one of those birth plans.  How does that work?  Does anyone in the hospital actually read/honor those?  I spent a lot of time telling Tom my demands last night on the way home.  It’s nice to have that dude in my corner 24/7.  An example is, okay, there will be hundreds of thousands of photos taken of this kid throughout his lifetime… I want Daddy to take the very first one.  I can’t think of other things on the birth plan.  Drugs, yes.  Water birth, no… although I really would like an excuse to get in the Jacuzzi in my MJH birth room.  Keep the placenta, HELLLLLLLL NO.

I get updates from different baby websites in my inbox, today: “Especially for you this week on thebump.com: CRAZY Labor and Delivery Stories!”  Really, thebump.com?  Why the HELL would you think I want to read that right now?

Uncle Haley turned 22 on the 22nd.  Dee Dee came and it was like, “Birthdays all around!”  She brought me a birthday present and Mom a birthday present and Haley a birthday present and Baby a birthday present!  She had some things off the registry including the first thing I registered for (back when I thought we were pregnant in Sept. 2011):

 

It makes me SO happy, and is going to look great in his room next to his orange lamp.  It reminds me how devastated I was when my period came that time, and how elated we were to finally get that positive test a few months later.  She bought a Finding Nemo sleeper that features Bruce and the other sharks, it really makes me want to name him Bruce.  That thing is SO much cuter in person than online!  It’s no longer in stock, and I feel like I want to find it in every size now.

I need to finish the changing table.  It’s almost all sanded… and I need to paint it.  I was always planning dark blue and lime green, even back when I was sure my baby was a girl.  I never bought newborn cloth diapers.  I think I’ll just have to use the disposables while we’re in VA and work out the cloth when we get back home.

I’m slowly, and I mean slowly getting excited about seeing his face.  This surprise has been building for months and months… and is finally about to be revealed.  You know that I’m crazy and have only been cautiously optimistic all this time.  I start thinking about how “all this time” goes back to the Super Bowl.  Tom and I were both in the bathroom and just cried and cried.  Happy crying!  Really, I thought something might be up when Dad, Lindsay, Haley and I went to Daytona for the Rolex 24.

We went over to WDW and took this picture at Animal Kingdom the day before the race.  Look at my face.  I’m thinking, “they don’t even KNOW!”

Yeah. Right now it’s a cartoon lion baby. Give it 9 months.

I’m not sure why Dad’s yawning.

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your cadaverous pallor betrays an aura of foreboding

Who writes like that?  Honestly.  Amazing.  X. Atencio, Disney Imagineer… he’s “the M.F.S.” as we say in my family.  It’s just so well-done.  I wish that I could write like that.  Side note: at Disneyland, the floor in the stretching room goes down, at Walt Disney World, the ceiling goes up.

To tie it in to the blog… I’m anxious.  I bet you can see it on my face.  But, today’s a much better day than yesterday.  I’m puttin’ my behind in my past and moving on.  Reopened a lot of baby gifts from Courtney Ryalls… just feeling really blessed.  I bought giraffe thank you notes and sat them on the kitchen counter at the old house.  After 2 weeks of searching and not finding them, I broke down and bought some lesser thank you notes.  I didn’t want to do it, but I mean, c’mon… it’s been almost 2 freakin’ weeks.

I’m listening to a Disney Theme Park Audio radio station right now that happens to be playing the entire Haunted Mansion ride from Disneyland.  I think I sat down at the computer right as he said the bit about the disquieting metamorphosis.  I love that ride.  I am so homesick for Disney World.

The Disney Vacation Club Member Cruise is happening this week.  Dad wanted to go, but we opted not to because of the baby.  What if he came early, you know?  Of course now, sitting here, I can see we’re no where close.  He’s still up way high and everything.  The doc checked my cervix and isn’t worried.  We would have been fine.

Then again… we need to save Tom’s days off for the weeks after the baby and our anniversary in December.  So, I guess we really couldn’t afford it.

Now the music from El Rio del Tiempo in Mexico at Epcot is on.  Takes me back.  I can smell it.  If you’re not in my family, that probably makes no sense.  I think our new anniversary tradition is trying something new every year.  Last year, Tom and I ate at San Angel Inn for the first time and had priority seating for the Candlelight Processional.  It was so romantic.  Everything is romantic with Tommy, but it was just really neat.  I’ve ridden past our table countless times while I was on the ride and always wondered what it would be like.  Last year we got to find out.

Mexico at twilight… always at twilight.

Temple with Donald’s Gran Fiesta Tour boats passing. Tom’s ear.

Dessert! Natilla de Cajeta: Caramelized “cajeta” custard cream served
with seasonal berries and sugar powder.

One of these years I think we’ll do Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at the Magic Kingdom.  Maybe when the baby is 5 or so.  One of these years I want to do a private fireworks cruise.  One of these years I want to celebrate Christmas with a sleigh ride at Fort Wilderness.  I guess the new thing this year is that we’re taking another person with us.  I think I will wait in line for as long as it takes to get baby’s picture with Mickey Mouse.

While I’ve got you… WHAT THE HECK SHOULD I NAME MY KID?!  You may think that we’re being aloof.  We’re not.  I still don’t have a boy’s name that I love.  We’re dangerously close to Mickey if we don’t come up with something.

I just read a blog post that I wrote a while back hoping baby would be born on 10/11/12.  I had totally forgotten about that!  I’ve just been so excited to see what he looks like, I was hoping he’d come asap.  Now I’m thinkin’ it’d be cool to hold off.  Oh well.

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asian time

Tom has a tendency to run his life on something his best friend Nathan calls “Asian time.”  Basically, it means if he has to be someplace at 7 o’clock, he leaves the house at 7 o’clock.  I’m not sure if this actually has anything to do with being Asian.

I, on the other hand, cannot stand being late.  I think I was traumatized in my youth by choruses of, “well, look who finally decided to grace us with their presence” when we’d have to run from one family’s Christmas to the other.  I don’t know why – but we were always late to everything.  Fifteen minutes late to church, like clockwork – every week.  You’d think that we would have just started waking up 15 minutes earlier.  Nope.

I don’t like close calls!

I’m nervous the shower will fall into Asian time.  (Sounds so racist, we really should come up with another name for it.)

We have 2 weeks until the baby shower.  There is one weekend in between.  In those two weeks:

  • We need to buy bedroom furniture for the grandparents’ bedroom downstairs.
  • We need to have that room painted or paint it ourselves.
  • We need to unpack.
  • The Target registry is almost entirely online-only items.  So, do I wait until the shower to see what we get?  Shipping takes a while, so we’ll have to order what we don’t get and pray it gets delivered before our boy does.
  • I’ve got to buy some newborn size diapers.  (Cloth or otherwise.)
  • If I get newborn cloth diapers, I have to wash and dry them about 10 times BEFORE we put them on Jr.’s butt to increase the absorbency to full capacity.
  • My dad needs to hang my Mickey Mouse chandelier and move the light switch in the Bonus Room.  And we need to patch and paint the spot where the switch is now.
  • Tom’s Uncle Larry is coming to stay with us during the Democratic National Convention, the week leading up to the shower.
  • Pick out, figure out how to pay for, and purchase the most awesome rocking chair I can find.  (Special gift from my Baby-Daddy.)
  • Pack for a month in Charlottesville.

So, I.  AM.  PANICKED.

…to say the least.  I reckon I should go unpack instead of writing a whiny blog.

The planner in me is like, you can’t just do this on Asian time.  But… there is a little half-Asian boy inside me that is doing EVERYTHING on at least half-Asian time.

We are really doing this.  In about a month, I WILL HAVE A FREAKING BABY.

Hooooooooly cow.

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