Monday, January 18, 2016

Putting On My Big Girl Pants

Michael and I had one full day to ourselves in Orlando.  The second and third day I had to put my big girl pants on! I went to two amusement parks all by my lonesome.  It is a much different experience when you are going solo.

It was surreal to be back in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter without children or a husband.  I wasn't sure what to do with myself.  I looked in every shop, people watched, and indulged in a frozen butterbeer  I took the Hogwarts Express between Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley.

In the afternoon, I took a break from the heat and humidity.  I strolled over to the HardRock hotel and had lunch in the cool, air conditioned restaurant.  I didn't want to leave.  It felt so good...and in reality, I had seen everything, not only in Harry Potter, but all of Universal Studios....both parks.

One thing was the same without the family, most of the rides were still 4D. 4D equals vomit for me.  Other than the Hogwarts Express, I did not go on one single ride.  I swear I walked every corner of Universal Studios. 

Sometimes I thought 5pm, my shuttle pick-up time might never arrive, but it did and I arrived safely back to the hotel.

My third and last full day in Florida was spent in the Magic Kingdom.  I arrived before the park opened.  Did you know that there is a ceremony that opens the park every morning?  Yeah, me neither!

It is amazing how fast one person can visit every ride without child distractions of bathroom and food breaks.  I went on almost every attraction that I cared about within three hours.  Three hours! 

I felt guilty, knowing how much my kids would want to be where I was, doing what I was doing. 

I didn't take any pictures that day.  It was so incredibly hot and humid.  I couldn't even think about using any energy to find my phone and snap a picture; just thinking about it made me sweat.

What is up with temperatures and humidity like that in November?  I was wilting.  Disney was just beginning to adorn Main Street for the holidays, but how can anyone feel "merry and bright" when sweat is dripping down your face and chest? It definitely did not feel like the "Most wonderful time of the year."

I spent my obligatory eight hours at the Magic Kingdom.  When I felt like Disney had earned my park ticket, I boarded the shuttle back to the hotel.

Michael and I ended the day early.  I had a 7am flight the next morning back to Utah.  BLEH!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Orlando Getaway

This past fall I did something absolutely unheard of for me.  Michael had a business trip to Orlando, and I went with him...without the kids.  I can only remember one night in twelve years (Susan's birth) when Michael and I actually spent the night alone that was somewhere other than our house.

It felt so weird leaving the kids in someone else's care for five days.  I knew my niece was capable, but I have NEVER been away from all three kids for that long.  I felt guilty, but also relished the idea of walking around Disney World without anyone complaining about hunger, thirst, fatigue or bathroom issues.

Michael and I only had one day together before he started meetings.  We knew immediately where we were going to spend our day, Epcot Center.  When we were in Orlando the previous spring, we skipped Epcot.  I had an inkling the kids would be bored.  I was right!  It is a beautiful park.  The grounds at the Epcot World Showcase are glorious.  Canada was breathtaking. 

Michael and I have never taken this many selfies before, but what do you snap when there are no kids?  Why yourselves, of course!

Michael and I spent our day leisurely perusing shops and visiting "countries".  We had a scrumptious authentic Italian meal that our three picky eaters would have certainly hated.

There were a few times, I felt guilty that the kids were not with us.  This was quickly followed by remembering how they would be complaining about how bored they were; complaining about the lack of rides; and etc....

I am amazed how Disney can immediately make you feel like you are walking down a quaint street in a small English town.  It was magical!

This Mary Poppins was perfect in every way.  She was firm with the children, but always kind.  Julie Andrews would approve.

This day was the perfect way to start off my Orland getaway.  The next few days I was on my own, doing something absolutely foreign, navigating the parks by myself!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

East High Wild Cats

When Jordan was here this past summer, we were running all over the place.  One afternoon I took Suze and Jordan to Park City.  We came out of the mountain and were driving through Salt Lake City when Jordan screamed, "It's East High!"

For all you High School Musical crazies, "Yes, that East High School."   Jordan was completely beside herself.

"Stop, stop now!"

I knew Jordan liked High School Musical, but had no idea it was still at a fevered pitch.  She was five-years-old when the first one came out.  She couldn't get out of the car fast enough. 

What really surprised me was that we were not alone.  There were, at least, a dozen other people snapping photos of the school.

What is it about that franchise that enamors people still?  No, really, somebody tell me because I don't get it.

Jordan made us go to the back of the school and sneak photos of that famous school cafeteria.  Jordan tried to open every single door, but alas the building was tightly secured.  She had to settle for smudge marks on the glass.  It was as close as Jordan could get to her beloved Troy.

What a thrill for her.  It was one of the highlights from her Utah trip.  I tried not to take that too personal.

Monday, January 11, 2016

McCafferty Christmas

Christmas Day was spent with Michael's family.  We were thrilled to have Michael's brother, Angle, spend it with us.  He lives out to state.  We don't see him often enough.

Grandma and grandpa bring out one garbage bag for each child.  The bags are filled with presents.  They are spoiled!

It is the only time these children are excited when asked to handle a garbage bag. 

This year is baby Ivy's first Christmas. 

It was a perfect, beautiful, white Utah Christmas.  Leo was in love with the snow and icicles, something rarely seen in California.

I should title this picture, "Bearded Men."  It is actually a recreation of another picture when the brothers were much younger with a little less gray hair.

Food and family were in abundance.  The tightness of my jeans testifies to the goodness of the treats a plenty.

Another Christmas for the books!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas Morning 2015

Santa Claus came to our house and, again, left way too much.  When will he learn?

Blast off  was 7am!  Two little bugs could not sleep  through the night.  Michael caught Suze and Eric at 3am with the light on in her room.  They were playing Sorry.  Sydney slept in my bed.  She did relatively well, getting up three or four times to use the bathroom.  Excitement will do that to your bladder.

They obeyed Mom and Dad's command and did not rustle us out of bed until the designated hour.  We always do stockings first.  It's like our coming attractions before the main event.  I will never tire of their smiles, discovering small treasures crowded into the overstuffed stockings.

Santa brought Sydney her fifth and final American Girl Doll.  My baby girl has decided that five are sufficient.  She is the proud mama of Sage, Isabelle, Grace, Kit and, finally, Mary Ellen.

Sydney's favorite gift:  All of them!

Eric's favorite gift:  Xbox 360

Suze's favorite gift:  Pogo Stick

As I surveyed the tornado of wrapping paper and gifts, I felt a bit gluttonous, but also very grateful. 

Another successful Christmas morning!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas Eve Din(ner)

Michael uses one word to describe my family, the Stewart's, "Loud".  Christmas Eve was no exception, only I would add sobbing and frustration to the list.

My sister, Julie, was the lucky host for this night.  Like any good host, she was anxious that things might be chaotic.  She hoped for better.  If I had known how the night was going to proceed, I would have assured her that indeed the night was going to be fraught with all manner of unfortunate activity.  Why worry about the inevitable?

The following is a rundown, in chronological order, of our hapless evening.

1. Within moments of arriving, Eric began complaining about his stomach.  He wanted to go home. Less than sixty minutes later, Michael and Eric left.

2. Shortly after that, Kevin and Dylan left because Dylan's stomach was not feeling so hot either.

3. After repeated warnings, my five-year-old niece refused to listen to instructions regarding the loose leg on the air hockey table.  It fell on her foot.  She wailed for over half an hour, resulting in Kenzie becoming a hot, sweaty mess.

4. One little person, name not given to avoid embarrassment, had an "accident" in his or her pants.

5. Sydney asked to go home because she could not handle Kenzie's screaming.  She stood by Julie's front door, impatiently waiting for Daddy to come and rescue her.

6. One teenager refused to participate in pictures with her family.  Suze acted as stand-in.  Blake is holding onto his neck, I think because he was in a great deal of pain.

7.  There was a misunderstanding over the exchange of gifts. Some of us thought a decision was made for no gift exchange, others of us came to the opposite conclusion.  People brought gifts with no one to swap. Oops!

8. My goal is always to get pictures of family groups.  This mostly did not happen.  Everyone was in a hurry to get out for one reason or another.  Some tempers flared. 

I was able to sneak in a few pictures.  Here is Brandon and his girlfriend.  He had to leave early too as he was flying out in the morning to spend Christmas with Jordan.

We are always happy to have Tyler and LaNette spend the holidays with us.

Sorry, the evening was a bit rough, Julie.  On the other hand, the food was delicious!  At least that fear of running out of food didn't happen. We will let you off the hook for the next holiday dinner.  I will take one for the team!

Merry Freaking Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas in Heaven

December hasn’t changed
This town looks the same
They still light their tree in the city square

There’s red, white, and green shining everywhere
And I wish you were here
And I wonder

Is there snow falling down on the streets of gold
Are the mansions all covered in white

Are you singing with angels silent night
I wonder… what Christmas in Heaven is like

There’s a little manger scene
Down on third and main
I must’ve walked right by it a thousand times

But I see it now in a different light
Cause I know you are there
And I wonder

Are you kneeling with shepherds before him now
Can you reach out and touch his face

Are you part of that glorious holy night
I wonder… what Christmas in Heaven is like

Is there snow falling down on the streets of gold
Are the mansions all covered in white

Are you singing with angels silent night

I wonder… what Christmas in Heaven is like
Scotty McCreery