Saturday, September 29, 2012

Anaheim Staycation Recap

Our end of summer Anaheim Staycation back in August seems so long ago now. All the relaxation and pampering has gone to the wayside as we've entered full-force into school, homework and activities. Regardless, I know you were waiting on pins and needles to hear how our little staycation actually went.

On Saturday mid-day, we drove up to the Anaheim Marriott and started things off right by valeting. I felt comfortable as a big family unloading all our kids and gear knowing we were so close to Disneyland and I'm certain they've seen it all before. They didn't bat an eyelash at our chaos on wheels!

The first thing we did when we got to our executive suite, aside from bouncing off all the furniture (kids), we ordered room service and turned on the TV. We also brought a bottle of champagne from home that we enjoyed - it was so heavenly!
Room service - family style
After watching the tail-end of an up-beat movie, Titantic, on the big TV (what a fun way to educate kids about water safety), we hustled out the door to catch the Anaheim Angels games. We had excellent seats and service. I ordered several margaritas that went down so smooth. The chickadees were psyched to get free Angels backpacks.

Let's go Angels!
Unfortunately, even though the game started out strong and the Angels were winning, we left early and they proceeded to lose to the Rays. Back at the Marriott, the chickadees loved the spaciousness of our suite and having their own room and beds. The l'il chicken hawk slept in a crib in the same room with them too so me and Daddy-O had our room to ourselves. Nope, there was no hanky panky, but I bet that's what you were thinking... What is more important to a tired, buzzed mom - sleep or sex? Hmm...tough call...

Daddy-O said the pillows were too soft, but I didn't have a problem whatsoever with the bed, pillows, sheets or comforter. I thought the bed was complete bliss and slept dreamily.

Sunday morning we went to partake of the Cafe del Sol breakfast buffet. Party of 5 with a high chair please!
I have to say without exaggeration, it was the most delicious breakfast ever. So much variety with beautiful displays of fresh food. I ordered eggs benedict made to order and thought I'd died and gone to heaven.  Above all, all the staff in the hotel were extremely courteous, friendly and responsive. They made it very easy to travel and relax with small children without worrying about annoying anyone.
Cafe del Sol Anaheim Marriott
Photo Credit:
We ended our staycation with a trip to the pool and hot tub. Since we are early risers (not by choice), we beat the typical crowds and had no trouble getting lounge chairs and splashing around without running into people. The water was clean and warm; part of the pool is covered and protected from the sun and the other is in full sun, which is good for those of us who crave sunlight.

I would definitely return to the Anaheim Marriott with the family (or without) again. Two days wasn't nearly long enough, but it was better than spending the weekend at home doing chores! Perhaps I will have to win another drawing in order to experience this level of leisure again. When's the next OC Blogger Bash?!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

20 Year Reunion Recap

To follow up from my Reflections on My 20 Year High School Reunion, I had such a good time!! I'm so glad I went! It was so good seeing so many familiar faces after 20 years has passed. Except some people were harder to recognize because of aging and my faulty memory. It was like a sensory overload to my brain!

Seeing my old friends again was the best. Laughing, reminiscing, catching up, getting drunk... It was fuel for my soul. Friday night we went to a martini bar for a casual gathering of those that could make it, which many people showed up to. My friends and I got a lot of attention from the guys for our youthful looks and nice physiques - which of course felt good for my wounded ego.

I miss being home for family, friends, beauty and greenery AND because I get more attention up there. No one pays any attention to me here because there are millions of pretty faces and great bodies. I don't exude the superficial, materialistic aura, so perhaps that isn't a turn-on to the So Cal guys. Not that I'm looking for a date, but I just miss getting glances here and there.

One of the guys I always joked around with in high school showed up looking good and wearing Drakkar Noir, which was a great touch. Drakkar totally takes me back to high school! I spent a lot of time catching up with him and his friends and they were very complimentary to us. We closed the bar down that night and were supposed to go to an after party, but the last time I did that at the 10 year reunion, I was worthless the next day, so we just went home.

For the reunion on Saturday night, I was so nervous and anxious, I drank heavily right away (like everyone else), so now the conversations I had and the antics are a little fuzzy. I had such a great time though talking to old friends and joking around. I wish there was more time to really find out more about people, but it went by too fast. My friend and I couldn't get enough of flirting with our old guy friends while our husbands mingled amongst themselves and the other husbands. I think they must have gotten a rise out of it.

But now, several months later, I am melancholy again. The years just rush by and they are all a blur. I'm aging, becoming more serious and mature, stuck in a rut, more bitter, losing my youth and cool-ness and I feel very isolated from friends; both here in California and Washington and beyond. Everyone is busy with their families, kids, activities. It's hard to foster friendships. It's hard to even foster a marriage because we both work and have a big workload at home. It sucks. I want to 'carpe diem' but I don't know how.

I also miss being chased by guys - the thrill of the hunt. The roller coaster of emotions that accompany dating. I feel like that aspect of life is O-V-E-R and that bums me out. Am I old news to my husband? Who would want me, with 3 kids and a weak pelvic floor?  Jellied hips and abs to boot. The positive attributes I do have going for me it seems (according to others' compliments of me and my own assessment):
  • Good sense of humor
  • Wit
  • Smart
  • Youthful
  • Fun
  • Slender
  • Athletic
  • Well-rounded
  • Good mom
  • Nice legs
  • Pretty eyes, face and hair
  • Down to earth/authentic
  • Creative
Things I wish I could improve on:
  • Melancholy
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Motivation
  • Sexual drive
  • Emotional connections
  • Romance
  • More spontaneous
  • Better organized/clean
  • Less of a complainer/nagger/task master
  • Not so angry/bitter
  • More of a cook/meal planner
  • More energy and enthusiasm
  • More optimistic
But there are things, as a woman, wife and mother that I absolutely just am NOT interested in. Meal planning, recipes, coupons, mini vans, SUVs or other 'practical' family vehicles (blech), scrapbooking, entertaining/dinner parties, stereotypical couples activities, mommy competitions, posturing, hum drum monotony I mean, matrimony, etc. Am I an alien for feeling this way?

I'm just so independent and I tend to go against the social norm I think. Perhaps this is a mini mid-life crisis. I am planning on finding a therapist to discuss it. But I dread having to explain myself to a dead-pan faced, ineffective person who doesn't get me. Plus, I don't want to face my imperfections and limitations. I already struggle with my esteem as is. I need a swift kick in the ass to get motivated to make the changes that need to be made. If I wasn't so exhausted...

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rage Against Kids Bop!

Two New Kids' Music CDs Released in October

Recall that I recently wrote about my love of Kindie Rock and since then, I am discovering more and more fun kid music that we all love. Daddy-O even stumbled on a new (to us) kids' music channel on Directv's Sonic Tap called Playground and it has really cool family friendly music. Did you know that Wayne Brady (Who's Line is it Anyway) sings kids music?!

Now I have two new CDs in my hot little hands - one playful to lift us up, and one mellow and soothing to bring us down at the end of the day.

For our upper, introducing Vanessa Trien and The Jumping Monkeys!Their new album is called Bubble Ride and the most exciting song on it for me is their remake of Free to Be You and Me! I can't believe that one of my favorite musical legacies from the '70s is continued in another generation - hooray! Here are the other songs on the album: Moomooheehawbaabaaneigh
Peacock Walk
Spinning Around
Tickle Monster
One Fine Day
Train Dance
Bubble Ride
Yo-Yo Song
Hey Ho
Mama Dada Blues
Deep in the Jungle,
What Am I To Do?
Free to Be You and Me
Bye Bye Song
Laila’s Rainbow Colors
I am not exaggerating when I say that when I first playing this in on our dance floor living room, the chickadees started dancing and bouncing around. Even the l'il chicken hawk too! Vanessa's music is so melodic, happy, creative and fun. Not to mention extremely catchy! We really loved Tickle Monster, but the whole album is "Kid tested. Mother approved."

Vanessa Trien has been crisscrossing musical borders for as long as she can remember. While grounded in the acoustic folk genre, Vanessa has assimilated her own style, shifting effortlessly through an eclectic bag of influences: folk, blues, country, rockabilly, jazz standards, Latin, Caribbean, and '70s and '80s pop.

Expanding her horizons to include kid-friendly music came naturally when Vanessa became a parent.  Indeed, her debut kids' album, Hot Air Balloon (2006), gestated right along with her first child. Both baby Ellis and the CD were deemed first-rate at birth.  Vanessa’s second kids' CD, Carnival Day (2009), accompanied baby Laila into the world. Vanessa Trien’s first two albums have been honored with two Parents’ Choice® Awards, a NAPPA Award, and two iParenting Media Awards.
If you're in Virginia or Massachusetts, you could actually go with the family to see Vanessa Trien and The Jumping Monkeys perform. 

September 26th - Alden Theatre in McLean, VA
October 14th - Coolidge Corner Theatre in Brookline, MA 
November 3 - Regent Theatre in Arlington, MA

Otherwise, Bubble Ride will be officially released October 2nd.

To take us down in the evening, which is an absolute necessity in our house, let me introduce you to Sukey Molloy's bedtime album, I Am Sleepy!  

Sukey Molloy
Photo Credit: Dyana Van Campen
I started listening to Sukey's bedtime CD after the chickadees and the l'il chicken hawk were already in bed asleep and I wanted to give it a test run. On my first listen, I wasn't able to get past the first two songs. I fell fast asleep - no joke. Her music and voice was so soothing and beautiful! It has a glorious Celtic sound to it - irresistible.

Since my oldest was an infant, and each birth thereafter, we've always listened to a favorite lullaby album at bedtime. But the past year, the iPod hasn't worked, so we've had to bypass the bedtime lullaby routine, which really bummed me out. I didn't realize how much until I started up the routine again. The chickadees love being back in the routine too - it definitely helps relax them better.

Sukey says of her new CD, "I wanted to give parents a recording that they could use to help create a peaceful, soothing, beautiful atmosphere that would nourish a sense of comfort and joy for a wide age range - toddler, preschooler, or a mother with a newborn infant." I would like to add my age range and demographic to those that benefit from her music. Better than Calgon.
PR: "I Am Sleepy! blends traditional (and not often heard) lullabies, original songs that Sukey composed especially for nighttime listening and stories and poetry she created with the intention of bringing a sense of both security and mystery at bedtime. The album weaves its way through a calming, quiet, yet always engaging and sometimes playful nightime "under the stars" tapestry imbued with the sounds of crickets, owls and lambs. Sukey's gentle storytelling and vocals are complemented by the contributions of her classically-trained musician friends on harp, recorder, violin, dulcimer, guitar, bass and piano."
I have very fond memories of learning to play the auto harp in elementary school. How cool is it that she plays the auto harp?! Extremely. I admire that Sukey and her husband both delight in the wonder of childhood. I aim for creating that in our family too. She says of her music, "I have fond memories of my mother singing and reading to me at bedtime. I wanted to bring that same warm, cozy sense of security and wonder to listeners young and old, creating a reassuring atmosphere for 'children's bedtime' that could be shared by the entire family. I hope that I Am Sleepy! will take adults back to their childhoods and give children memories to cherish."

I'm certain she will achieve just that with her new CD, which will officially be released on October 16th.

Tracks include:

The Moon Shines Down
Hush My Little One
Evening's Coming
Quiet Night Poem
Twilight Song
The Story of Twinkle Little Star
Night is Falling
Early in the Evening
Sleep So Gently
Shadows Dance Upon My Wall
Scottish Folk Song
The Story of Little Lamb
Little Lamb's Song
Wind Through My Window
Sleep Now and Rest
Russian Lullaby
All the World is Sleeping

I hope your family is able to experience the fun of childhood by listening to superior-quality kid music such as Vanessa Trien and Sukey Molloy. Someone needs to give our elementary school's after school programs some music guidance because the Kids Bop crap they insist on playing isn't cutting it. I cringe every time I do pick up. They are providing a disservice to masses of unknowing innocents.

Disclaimer: I was given copies of both CDs to facilitate this review, yet unpaid for my opinions.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

After Hours Party in Da Crib

My new favorite toys my chickadees received at their recent joint birthday party were these adorable, spunky Lalaloopsy dolls. I'm almost inclined to say they are even cuter than Strawberry Shortcake and Friends dolls, which is hard to top!

Lalaloopsy dolls caught partying in our dollhouse after hours

The other evening, in one of my rare attempts at tidying up the toy clutter that has invaded our home, I stumbled on these discarded and neglected little gems. I scooped them up, admired them, clutched them tight and took them upstairs to our mega-mansion dollhouse, so they could be more comfortable.

I almost found myself diving into 'Dolly Dialogue' like I did as a kid and how my chickadees do now. But I stopped short of that and just set them up sweetly on our toy chaise lounge and took their picture. I'm certain they stayed up all night after that chatting, giggling and getting hammered on Boones Farm wine coolers. Girls after my own heart! Aren't they just "SEW CUTE"?!

The fun thing is that the next morning, the chickadees discovered them in their dollhouse and instantly launched into playing with them. It was fun to see their joy and excitement as they stumbled on my little surprise. I need to do that more often. Maybe I can set a ridiculously funny or scary scene even. Sky's the limit!

A Birthday Gift Every Mom Would Love

WOW! 10,000 Beads!
My oldest chickadee just celebrated her 7th birthday and one of her friends gave her this most excellent gift - 10,000 beads jewelry making set! From the exterior of the box, you know she's going to have a blast making bracelets and necklaces - for all of 10 minutes! Inevitably, the box will accidentally get knocked over, bead spillage everywhere, she'll skip off to play with something else that strikes her fancy, then the l'il chicken hawk will pick up a stray bead, put it in his mouth, choke on it and die.

But mainly, I'll be left to clean up these 10,000 beads! Does my friend, the gift purchaser, have it out for me? Did I do something to anger her that she would curse our house with this? Does she want to push me completely over the edge of sanity?

To be honest, I look forward to sitting down with my chickadees and working on some high fashion jewelry - in a controlled environment. It will be a good bonding experience as well as practicing fine motor skills, I'm sure. But I really know how it will all go down already and it frightens me.

Perhaps I shall invest in some of these kid's sweeper shoes for ultimate bead sweeping. Reminds me of Pippy Longstocking's approach to cleaning.

"Let the Slipper Genie Do the Cleaning for You!" :)