Sunday, January 30, 2011

Starting the celebrations early

photo (1)Last night we met up with Ilene, Michael & April for a delicious dinner at a new Chinese/Japanese/Mongolian grill place to do an early Valentine’s and Chinese New Year celebration.  The girls had a blast playing and giggling together and the adults enjoyed our time together too.  Getting out with friends was a perfect ending to one very-long-week. 

So what made our week so long?  Getting back into the swing of school and gymnastics after essentially seven weeks off really kicked not only Maisie’s tush but mine too.  A full week of school and her new schedule at the gym of 3-three hour gymnastics practices per week was a shock to our laid-back schedule.  We made it through the week even though a couple of nights found me crawling into bed to do night time with Maisie and not getting out again until the alarm went off in the morning.  Maisie’s new schedule has had one positive outcome, my girl who fights going to sleep like nobody’s business was asleep within minutes of getting into bed each night as she was one tired little girl.

I did have one night that I stayed up late as I decided that I needed some adult time out so I did a ladies night out dinner.  It was nice meeting up with a group of new ladies as well as a couple of ladies whom I’ve know for a number of years but haven’t seen in ages.  I’m looking forward to doing this again next month as it was good fun.

IMG_5069In addition we’ve had people working in the house everyday still doing repairs from the water line that broke back in December.

IMG_5070Also being repaired are some nail pops in our cathedral ceilings and the boxes and edges around all the new skylights, both from when the new roof was put on back in November.  So with seven skylights in the house it meant that work was being done in most rooms and in the other rooms is all the piled up stuff that was moved from where the water line burst.  Needless to say, right now it’s like we’re living in a combination of a construction zone and a storage shed with the icing on the cake being the nice little coating of plaster dust which seems to be everywhere and getting rid of it, well that’s near impossible. 

One day soon I know my dream of an organized and clean house will become a reality…oh the dream!

Monday, January 24, 2011

May I have white please…

IMG_5046While out today I found these cute pink plastic champagne flutes which I thought Maisie would love to have in her play kitchen and since they were two for a dollar I figured that I would be a big spender and get some for her.  I couldn’t wait to give them to her so when I picked her up from school I told her that when she finished her homework, I had a surprise waiting for her.  Once home Maisie blew through her homework and couldn’t wait to see her surprise.  I brought out the flutes and her eyes lit up.   Pink, a heart and best of all “adult” glasses for her kitchen… What more could my little-who-thinks-she’s-grown-girly-girl want!! 

Maisie knows that the items in her kitchen are just for pretend and that we never put them to, or into our mouths but she asked if she could actually drink out of these glasses and I said sure, that I would wash them and she could use them at the counter.  Once I washed the glasses I asked her what she’d like to drink thinking that she’d say ice water but instead she said, “may I have white please.”  That sort of caught me off guard as I don’t even drink alcohol so hearing those words come out of Maisie’s mouth made me laugh as I know where she got that one…Anne!!!  My response was “white what?” to which she responded, “milk.”  If that’s the white she’s asking for, I have no problems at all.  She did ask to clink glasses and we said cheers and then she happily drank her “white.”  

IMG_5050Between when we arrive home from school and when she has to be changed and out the door for gymnastics, we only have an hour and ten minutes.  Because she blew through her homework so quickly we had a bit of additional time to play and what did she want to do?  Well another glass of white and more glass clinking, cheers and of course pinkies up, she’s one funny girl.

Maisie’s first day back at school (in what seems like forever), followed by a three hour gymnastics practice made for one knackered little girl tonight.  We arrived home from gymnastics practice at 7PM, she ate dinner, got washed and dressed for bed, read a chapter in her book, did nighttime with both Eammon and I and was fast asleep by 7:45.  Hopefully she’ll get a good night’s rest because she has one busy week ahead of her.  I was looking at her school schedule for the week and she has four tests this week, what a return to reality!!  Tuesdays test is phonics, Wednesday is English and Thursday she has both a social studies and a spelling test.  I’ll tell you her spelling test is a bit tricky this week as they’re doing “ight” and “ite” words and it’s not always easy to remember the difference between words like “right” as in right hand and “write” as in to write your name especially when they’re on the same test.  We went through her 15 spelling words during homework time and she got 13 of them correct the first time through so by Thursday she should have no problems at all.  But still for a first grader, four tests in one week (shoot I don’t remember *any* tests in first grade) and especially after not really being in school for seven weeks, crazy I tell you but I guess it’s back to the grind.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Disney Y.E.S.

Maisie and I just returned from our time down at Disney participating in the Disney (Y.E.S.) youth education series.  Our days at Disney were fun, educational and exhausting and though we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves it’s great to be back home.  Last Sunday Maisie and I drove down to my parent’s home, spent the night and then Monday in the pouring rain Maisie, my Mom and I headed over to Disney where we checked into our hotel.  We decided that it was too rainy to do anything at one of the parks so instead we headed out for lunch, did a little shopping on International Drive, checked out the Animal Kingdom Lodge and tried to make it an early evening as I knew that Tuesday would be a full and busy day.

photo (7)Tuesday morning we were up bright and early and our park for the day was Magic Kingdom.

photo (2)The children were divided into small groups of five and then we were off to start their first program.

photoThe class at Magic Kingdom was How Things Move.  For three hours the children were led through the park and were shown, observed and experienced how things moved.  They learned about how wind, solar, water, mechanical and chemical energy make things move and work and observed and experienced the motion whilst riding on some of the attractions. 

photo (2)Maisie loves merry-go-rounds and after we rode a number of attractions with her class and then did almost every other attraction in the park, to end our day Maisie wanted one last ride on the merry-go-round. 

It was a fun day at Magic Kingdom but it was a long day, between the class and our free time we were at the park for over eight hours.  We went out for dinner and then it was early to bed as we were all tired and Wednesday was going to be another early and long day.

photo (3)Our second day of class was at Animal Kingdom for the Wild by Nature program.  The children took part in an interactive survival game being a pride of lions as we moved through the park.  They learned about animal survival behaviors and how their natural adaptations to their environment help them to survive.  They also learned how human behavior can aid or strain an ecosystem and affect the animals. 

photo (5)The group this day had fifteen students so the children paired up and Maisie was with her friend from school and gymnastics, Kaity.  I’ll tell you, Kaity was so cute with Maisie as she always made sure to position Maisie so that she was upfront and able to see everything as Maisie is a good head shorter than all the other students.

photo (6)During the three hour class we covered a lot of ground and at a relatively rapid pace so the children and chaperones alike were dragging by the end but my Mom, Maisie and I decided to spend the rest of the day exploring the park.  Maisie enjoyed the affection section where she was able to pet and brush different animals and she also really enjoyed the Kilimanjaro Safari which we experienced twice.  Mid-afternoon though we went into see It’s Tough to be a Bug but complete exhaustion had set in with Maisie and it totally freaked.her.out, so-much-so that now anything which requires the use of 3-D glasses puts the girl into a panic.  By 4PM all that Maisie wanted to do was to head back to the hotel as she was d.o.n.e.  I knew that once we were back at the hotel we wouldn’t be going out again so before we left the park we stopped for a quick dinner at Rainforest Cafe.  It was truly a quick dinner as Maisie had no interest in being in the fun restaurant and the noises were just too much for her.  Once back at the hotel she was happy to change into her pajamas and by 7PM she was fast asleep even as all the lights were still on and my Mom and I were still up and making noise.     

P1200013aMaisie had a fitful night, overtired and nightmares from the little bit of It’s Tough to be a Bug that she saw but Thursday was a new day and first thing in the morning it was a Synergy in Science class at Epcot.

P1200011Look at my poor girl’s tired eyes.  The children were taught to be Disney Imagineers, to see how things worked together, how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and how to think outside the box.

P1200017After viewing a 3-D movie (well everyone but Maisie and one other girl because well, it involved wearing 3-D glasses and that was *not* going to happen for my girl after the previous days terrifying experience) the children were taught how the 3-D glasses worked and how our eyes and brain experience where the image appears. 

P1200022A final demonstration of how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts as each child had one little part of the Mickey picture before it was all put together.

After three mornings all of Maisie’s classes were finished and we were free to play.  The first thing we did after Maisie’s final class ended was to head over to Test Track as I knew that Maisie would enjoy the ride as she loves coasters and going fast.  Maisie loved the ride but the poor girl was tired and since we wanted to spend the remainder of the day at Epcot I thought it would be a good idea to get her stroller so that we could wander through the countries.  So after Test Track my Mom and Maisie headed over to get fast passes for Soarin’ and to sit down to have a little snack while I headed out to the car to get Maisie’s stroller.  Once back we all enjoyed Soarin’ and then Maisie was happy as a lark to park her tush in the stroller as we wandered through the countries. 

Since Maisie and I did all the character breakfasts and Princess teas when we did our Disney cruise back in April I didn’t plan to do any of those meet-and-greets this trip.  As we were going to the countries though, we happened upon some of the characters and since there weren’t any lines and Maisie wanted some pictures, we took pictures.

P1200026Maisie and Mickey.

P1200027Maisie with Minnie.

P1200028It’s Donald Duck.      

P1200029Daisy and Maisie.

P1200030My Mom getting into the picture with Maisie and Goofy. 

P1200031Maisie and Pluto.

P1200034We walked through all the countries, ate sushi and udon soup in Japan and then Maisie colored a fan in China.  Before leaving the park we picked up some pastry in Norway and by then we were all good an tired so after another 8+ hour day at a park we headed back to our hotel.  We were all exhausted but I hadn’t really slept during our trip and it all caught up with me that night.  Maisie got in bed with me but I was the first to fall asleep, probably just before 7:30 and Maisie was sound asleep minutes later.  My Mom may have made it to 8PM…maybe. 

All the classes that we participated in were excellent, informative, fun and Maisie got quite a bit out of them and really learned a lot.  Also, how cool to be able to take classes at Disney where riding on the attractions reinforces what you’re learning.  Maisie’s school is planning on making Disney Y.E.S. a biennial event so it will be fun to see what classes we participate in next time and I know that Maisie being older next time, she’ll hold up better and get even more out of the program. 

Friday was our final day at Disney and since we had 4-day park hopper passes, even though we were all sort of Disney’d out and exhausted we decided to spend the morning at Hollywood Studios.  I thought that Maisie would enjoy Toy Story Mania! but that involved those stinkin’ glasses so Maisie was miserable.  She did enjoy Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage! as well as Beauty & the Beast – Live on Stage but she did not want to see or go on anything else, Maisie was stick-a-fork-in-her-done and didn’t want to be there.  While Maisie and my Mom did the two shows that Maisie would see, I wandered off and rode on my favorite ride, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, so much fun!! Since Maisie didn’t want to do anything and I rode my favorite ride and my Mom was done and ready to go home we left the park early, headed off for some Chinese food per Maisie’s request and then headed back to my parent’s house to spend the night.

We had plans to spend Saturday day & night with some of our China travel mates but unfortunately they were sick with the flu.  We’re sorry that we didn’t get to see them and hope that they are all healthy again soon and hopefully next time we’ll be able to meet up.  So instead of driving home Sunday we headed home Saturday which worked out well as we’ve had today to settle back in, get unpacked and laundry done and now we’re ready to get back to school, gymnastics and a regular schedule.  I’m hoping that this week goes smoothly but I’m thinking that this is going to be a rough week trying to get back on schedule.  In the past seven weeks between two weeks in Aruba, two weeks off for Christmas, one week off because of snow and ice and now one week at Disney, Maisie has only been at “real” school three days and same with gymnastics, only three days in 7 weeks!!  Wish me luck this week, busy days and early bedtimes and we should make it though!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Snowcation ~ Day 4

Our day started at 12:02am when Maisie awoke starving and begging for dumplings.  So it was dumplings at midnight!

IMG_4974bMaisie ate the four dumplings on her plate…and five more before saying she was full and ready to go back to bed.  Unfortunately she wasn’t able to go right back to sleep so she read for a while and then finally around 2:30am she fell back asleep…No wonder I’m tired all the time!

We “slept-in” until about 8am and then K & A came over to play while Steve and Anne ventured out to her office to pick up a few things.  They returned home and said that the roads were still quite bad with huge patches of ice and turning lanes completely iced over.  I needed to run out to pick up our tickets for Disney and Steve was kind enough to drive me as he has a mambo 4-wheel drive SUV which is a lot safer on the roads than my Prius.  Once home again everyone ate lunch and then the children went out to play in the snow.

IMG_4985Steve built an awesome igloo and the kids had a blast slipping in and out of it on the ice.

IMG_4980Maisie peeking out.

IMG_4987Maisie inside the igloo.

IMG_4994Hard to believe that this is Atlanta…and that the kids are so big.  When did they grow-up and how do I stop this???  

IMG_5008Playing in the back yard throwing chunks of ice onto the frozen pond and watching them smash and slide.

IMG_5016Once inside it was time for over the top hot cocoa. 

IMG_5021Whipped cream, regular marshmallows, gingerbread men marshmallows, chocolate syrup and jimmies, yummy!

IMG_5027Maisie’s bed was turned into a fort.

IMG_5031Then it was time for popcorn and a movie.  They all enjoyed watching Singing in the Rain and especially the “Make them Laugh” skit.    

IMG_5035No day is complete without a little dress-up.

School is cancelled for tomorrow and next week we’ll be at Disney.  All in all Maisie will be away from school for 17 days…it’s going to be rough when it’s time to go back again.  I have really enjoyed all this time off and being housebound but I am looking forward to the warmer temps of Florida next week.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snowcation 2011 ~ Day 3

So here we are on our third day off from school and gymnastics and school has already been called off for tomorrow.  My friends up north who are currently getting hit with blizzard conditions and a lot more snow than we’ll ever see down here are probably laughing their tushes off that Atlanta has essentially been shut down for days after receiving what Northerners would call a dusting of snow.  I know that we only received about 6-inches of snow but snowplows here in the south are a rarity, shoot I think that Atlanta only has 8 of them.  The plows that are out there can’t keep up with clearing the main roads so neighborhood roads haven’t been touched at all.  So the snow combined with freezing rain, a bit of a thaw yesterday and now temps in the teens and twenties, no grit or chemicals on the roads, well it’s just a stinkin’ frozen mess out side.

it’s a good thing that I’m a homebody at heart because no cabin fever happening here.  With Eammon away it’s girl time and Maisie and I are having fun together.  We’ve slept in*, we’ve played together and with neighbors K & A, we’ve done some home school, lots of reading, we’ve cooked, relaxed and we’ve even been somewhat productive in tackling a few projects around the house which have been long neglected. 

Today Maisie asked if we could cook together and she wanted to make Toll House cookies.  When I started gathering the ingredients I realized that because of my Christmas stress baking binge I didn’t have any chocolate bits in the house and I obviously wasn’t going to the store to get any!  So instead of chocolate bits we used cinnamon chips with the back-of-the-bag Toll House cookie recipe and it worked, they tasted great and we had fun cooking together.

IMG_4947Maisie loves measuring and adding all the ingredients.

IMG_4952Watching to make sure that everything is mixing together properly.

IMG_4957Enough mixing already, let’s bake! 

IMG_4967Keeping busy while the cookies bake.

IMG_4972Enjoying the fruits of her labor.

Tomorrow, maybe a craft project or two.  Hope that everyone is safe and warm.

* Maisie’s been sleeping in a bit because each night she wakes anywhere between 12 and 2, absolutely ravenous.  Maisie eats a good dinner then just before bed she’ll eat two scrambled eggs or a two egg cheese omelet but still, in the middle of the night she’ll wake up and want a couple of slices of cheese or a few string cheese sticks.  She’s a growing girl and a new wardrobe may be hers in the near future.   

Monday, January 10, 2011

We live where?

I thought that I lived in the deep south where the winters were short, just a tad cold and snow was just something people wished for so that dreams of a white Christmas could be had.  Last night, here in Atlanta we were blanketed with about 6-inches of snow and then today we got freezing rain on top of it.  Anyone who knows me at all knows that I do *not* like winter, cold weather, snow, being out in the white stuff and shoveling… Fuggedaboutit! 

IMG_4900Check out the view from my back door this morning.  To some it’s a winter wonderland but to me, well I’m thinking that when I moved down from New England I just didn’t go quite far enough south.

Usually when it snows here in Atlanta it’s just a dusting and within a few hours it all melts.  Unfortunately we’re not expecting to see temps above freezing until maybe Tuesday afternoon if we’re lucky, and then just barely above freezing and for only a few hours.  It may be Saturday before we get above freezing so that the stinking snow and ice can melt! 

IMG_4903bI decided that it was better to only have a thin sheet of ice to deal with instead of six-inches of frozen solid icy snow so I got out early before the freezing rain started and cleared off my car, shoveled the walkway to the front door and cleared enough of the driveway to get in and out.  It may be a few days though before we actually venture out but at least it’s done.  So you ask where’s Eammon for all this shoveling?  Well  Eammon is sitting pretty and warm in a lovely hotel room in Houston…Okay so really he’s working hard and in meetings all day and night but he’s away from the cold and the snow for the week and didn’t have to participate in my shoveling adventure the southern way*.

IMG_4916Maisie was a huge bright spot for me in the dark bleakness of the snow.

IMG_4923Though I’m not a snow lover, all the children couldn’t get enough of it and played for hours outside helping Steve build an igloo.

dance1aAfter a morning playing in the snow it was time to warm up with hot chocolate and lunch followed by a few rounds of Just Dance.  Once all the children were full and warm they headed back outside for more playtime.

By 4PM, after being outside for seven+ hours, the children were done, tired and hungry.  Anne and I put together a nice dinner from food we had on hand and what we both had in our freezers so we all ate and played until it was time for bed. 

All the main roads are a sheet of ice and the secondary roads haven’t been plowed and are thick iced over snow.  School for tomorrow has already been cancelled and we won’t be venturing out anywhere so another fun day of play for all the children.

* Using a digging shovel and a push broom.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

This past week kicked my tush!

After a month off with two weeks in Aruba, returning home a week before Christmas to the mess resulting from one of our hot water lines freezing and bursting during the cold weather and stuff from the affected area all-over-the-house, then Christmas and New Year festivities, contractors in and out making repairs and more mess, along with Maisie and I having month long lingering colds so rough nights of sleep, getting back into the swing of a regular schedule again knocked the two of us O.U.T!! 

Maisie missed her gymnastics teammates and school mates so was happy to return to her activities.  Monday she returned to gymnastics and Tuesday school resumed.  By Tuesday night we were both knackered and crawled into bed together at 7:30 and called it a night.  Maisie’s gymnastics schedule has changed as she is now USA level 3 so instead of two-3-hour practices a week she now has three-3-hour practices each week.  Thankfully the gym is Maisie’s favorite place in the world and would spend 7 days a week there given the opportunity. 

On the Sunday before Maisie returned to her activities, Steve, Anne, K, A, Maisie and I headed into Atlanta for one last day of fun.  First we stopped for lunch at an Atlanta institution, The Varsity

photo1Maisie enjoyed a rare treat of onion rings and a hot dog.

photo (2)aA, K & Maisie, three good pals.

Next we headed to the Fernbank Museum.

photo (3)aMaisie enjoyed the water exhibit and they had this cool looking “waterfall” which you walked through right at the entrance.  

photo (4)aMaisie always enjoys when she can sit at a computer and play.

photo (5)aMaking huge bubbles.

photo (7)aWe ended our day at the museum by watching Mysteries of the Nile at the IMAX theater.  I love how Maisie just folded herself up in the seat.  We both really enjoyed the film and while Anne & K were getting a little queasy when we “felt” like we were flying, Maisie and I thought it wicked cool.

This past week Maisie received her report card and I’m so proud of my little girl as she’s doing oh-so-well in school and the fact that she loves it and looks forward to attending each day, well that’s the icing on the cake!



By the end of the week we were finally back in the groove but man was it hard and tiring trying to get there. 

We’re expecting a big snow and ice storm tonight into tomorrow and the snow has already begun.  School tomorrow has been cancelled so now we get to enjoy a nice long weekend together.   Maisie will now have another short week at school and then next Sunday she and I are heading down to Orlando for her classes at Disney, thus another off-schedule week.  I have a feeling that the next few weeks will be kicking my tush all over again but in the end, I’m having a great time with my best girl so tired we’ll be.

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