Happiest Place on Earth

Where is my teleportation device? Don’t you think by now you should easily be able to step on a disc in your living room and reappear anywhere in the world you want? It would definitely help solve my dilemma of living so far away from my brother and brother-in-law. Our trip to Disney World highlighted how awesome it is to be together in one place at one time. When Boston, California, and Southern Florida all descended on Disney for three days, it was overwhelming, chaotic, busy, but awesome and I want to hop on to my teleporter and do that again and again and again.

Seeing the kiddos together was by far the best part of our ten crazy days away from home. It took no time at all for Henry and Owen to become totally transfixed by their cousins! From nonstop cuddling to laughs and playful imaginations, the trip felt like a total success watching the littles together. Disney with everyone was intense and my feet ache still from walking over 45,000 steps in three days, but it was so so so sweet seeing the magic in their eyes and watching them bond together over their sweet playfulness.

But, I promise this won’t be a total mushy post about love and family (you know my constant emotional go-to). Instead, I was thinking of sharing some insights into doing Disney with little kids and weird observations from inside the park. Like, did you know if you were planning to go on any of the Avatar rides you might as well start training your dog to do your calculus homework? Seriously, unless you fastpass that thing 6 months in advance we saw wait times upwards of 295 minutes! Who is able to stand that long in line? Well, maybe a parent who needs a break, but otherwise I don’t know if any ride is “worth” a five hour long line. Or maybe I am only saying this because I did not experience the ride. Before heading to Disney get your elbows sharpened or practice your “New Yorker wide stance”. The park was so full of visitors for the holidays and everyone is so distracted by their companions and looking all over the place to take in the sights  that is it treacherous to walk. I dare you to walk from one end of the park to the other without getting rammed in the back of the ankles by a stroller or rascal. Drinks on me if you succeed in this mission impossible!

What makes Disney the happiest place on earth?

  1. Open Carry for parents. Yes, after your have withstood your third or fourth tantrum at Epcot head on over to the Bavarian Pavilion for a nice cold adult beverage. It changes your whole experience.
  2. Do NOT eat the frozen chocolate dipped bananas. It looks weird but it also doesn’t taste great. After a few days of eating too much, I thought heck this is “sort of” good for you. But, it was not that tasty so I want to prevent you from wasting $5. Just go all in for the Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Bar instead.
  3. Pay attention, parents everywhere are surviving and thriving in Disney through an array of false promises to their kiddos and empty threats. Just about every second you hear some parent say, “If you don’t….” or “If you do….” and then throw knowing glances at each other.
  4.  I dare you to leave without a Banshee or two? Yes it might be $65 but when you see a kid or an adult walk by with two or three of these creatures on their shoulders, it is hard to resist their allure. I am not going to lie, it took all of my willpower to walk away from the kiosk as mesmerized as I was!

But all kidding aside, it was a super fun and funny visit. I think every member of the group had a blast and we did SO much thanks to beautifully timed fastpass rides organized by my SIL, Jessie. I had hoped to do a ride in a park depending on the kiddos and by the end of the experience we did so much more than I anticipated: Mission Everest, Kali River Adventure, the Safari ride, Gorilla walk, Tiger walk, Nemo, Frozen, Mexico’s river ride, BuzzLight year, the people mover, the carousel of progress, dumbo, flying dinos, the tea cups, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Small World, the Seven Dwarfs roller-coaster, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, the Speedway, and met up with so many Disney characters too. You know those Disney commercials where the music plays, the family has smiles plastered to their faces, and everything bakes in a warm beautiful yellow light….it was sort of like that. Also vacationing with little kids is just parenting somewhere else.

My mysterious “illness”

Since Owen stopped nursing, I have had a mysterious illness. It doesn’ happen everyday so sometimes I can forget about it. When it does strike it feels super unsettling. In the middle of class, sometimes while driving, or when sitting on the floor doing legos it can hit me. Then I worry. What exactly is wrong? Is this seemingly odd and small and not always occurring phenomenon something much more serious? In the first few weeks of post-nursing life back in April, I just shrugged it off and said it must be that “nursing sickness” that mommas talk about. A lot of the signs were there. But, now I am 6 months out and still get shaken by it, so maybe it is something else?

What does it look and feel like? Intense dizziness, a feeling like if I don’t sit down I will pass out and faint, waves of nausea that are so bad I run into the bathroom to get sick, heart palpitations at times, the inability to focus, and vertigo that has me brace against a wall or sit down as fast I possibly can out of fear.

When it hits, it lasts for a few days. Then it disappears and I forget I ever felt this way.

You might be thinking, why don’t you see a doctor? Well, I did and I do. In April, she tested a lot of hormone levels thinking it might be connected to my cycle and my body coming back to “usual” after having kids and nursing. Over the summer, she checked my thyroid and blood sugar, kidney and liver functions, all my metabolic numbers. This fall it has been my blood pressure (which is low! but maybe that is normal for me?), more checks on my glucose for diabetes or hypoglycemia another round of thyroid blood work. I have been checked for lyme disease and lupus and even rheumatoid  arthritis (although I don’t feel achy in my joints?). There were more tests of my lady hormones and everything came back “normal.” Which is great! I am glad that these things are good and healthy but saddened that we still don’t know what it could be. The best way to describe it is when you have had TOO much to drink and lay down and the whole room spins out of control but this time around I am not drinking. Now I am waiting to see a Neurologist in December to check for these tiny crystals in my inner ear that might be floating around causing this acute vertigo and/or I am sure they will check for other things.

There is also a chance it might be connected to my diet (as in I may have food allergies which is not uncommon in my family). So I am starting something as a test between now and the new year to see if things change since I have a long wait for my next medical visit. Maybe this is all hocus pocus at this point but at least it feels empowering to be trying something that if nothing else will be benign and might give me some relief from these feelings that make me feel like I am simultaneously pregnant and drunk (and don’t worry I have peed on so many pregnancy sticks + the vasectomy that it would be a true act of God to be that). This is the point of the story where you may choose to stop reading if you would rather not roll your eyes at all the “crazy” pseudo-medicine/science I am going to try!

  1. In the morning I have started to dry-brush before hopping into my shower. What is dry brushing? It is exactly what it sounds like, you take a brush to your dry skin! You start at your feet or hands and slowly make your way up towards your heart. I have actually really enjoyed this process so far. Some mornings when I am particularly bleary-eyed, I struggle to remember this step to my “new routine” so leaving the brush out on the counter has helped jog my tired mind. It is a nice little way to check in on the body and slow down before the morning rush. Supposedly, it can help your lymphatic system, clean your pores, boost your energy, and, if nothing else, it helps to exfoliate.
  2. To support the gut which might be the cause of all these weird troubles, I am taking a probiotic. This might be the easiest step to include because I just take it along with my vitamin.
  3. I am going to slow down on the high impact exercises and take some time to revisit a more slow-flow form of yoga. Feeling literally out of sorts doesn’t seem to jive with high intensity work that might leave me even more light-headed than I usually am. So instead, I am going to slow things down but increase the consistently on some yoga and some pilates to help me focus, breathe, and stretch.
  4. And then the diet….So sad to say goodbye to sugar before the holidays but I think to see what is going on I need to start embracing a more limited sugar and limit my gratuitous carb diet. My doctor is flirting with the idea of food allergies and sensitivities so I imagine that needing to eliminate foods will be soon my reality anyway, so I might as well choose to start this work now and see if I notice any changes over time. (And that means limiting my caffeine too…saddest part of all).

Keep your fingers crossed and definitely let me know if you have felt these things too. I am hoping that by the end of December, I will have some good things to report back on.

Traveling with Toddlers

The last time we traveled as a family was in the summer to California. It was a long haul flight but the kiddos did great and that is making our next journey to Florida in two days feel like a piece of cake! We can do anything for three hours, right? Whether or not we have a smooth in-flight experience with our two toddlers is up in the air (hahaha) BUT I cannot wait to board that plane after a long first term at work and making my way through piles of grading, comment-writing, and lesson planning.

Also, traveling with the family to Disney World is just so exciting. Not only do we get to see the wonder and magic in Owen’s and Henry’s eyes but we also get to go with our entire family. My parents are traveling down with us from Boston, my brother is flying in from SoCal with his family, and my brother-in-law is driving north to meet us from the Palm Beach area. It will be the first time that all of the cousins are all together since Owen joined the team. I might be more excited to hug and hold everyone than to get on a single ride in Disney, although I do want to ride on that “it’s a small world” boat on repeat.

Tonight in preparation for the big adventure, we are going to start packing and I am noticing that for the first time we are “traveling light.” As the boys are getting older, we are getting better at streamlining our packing gear and also shedding gear we no longer need in general. Obviously the days of David and I fitting into one carry-on and each wearing our one personal item are long gone but this feels like the first trip where I am not anxious about making sure we remember all the gear and little baby things and figuring out how to carry all of it from the taxi to the ticket counter to our destination!

What are we bringing?

  • The MaClaren Double Umbrella Stroller: for easy travel through the airport, through the Disney parks, and in case someone decides to take a little snooze.
  • The Lotus backpack pack-n-play: yes, Disney has cribs, but we are also spending most of our time north by David’s family and will need a bed there for Owen so we might as well use it at Disney too. Plus it is so compact and lightweight (it’s seriously a little backpack!) and we check it at the ticket counter.
  • Owen’s Travel Carseat  (that we borrow from a dear friend who has let us hijack it since our California trip!) and Henry’s Carseat (Chicco booster with back) packed up in a single backpack which we will check at the ticket counter and which will help us to get from Orlando to David’s Dad’s place and back.
  • 1 checked bag for Me & Owen & Henry: with things from bathing suits to winter coats (because even though Orlando will be warm and we can probably swim everyday, up by David’s dad will be COLD at night and the kids are going to want to romp around the woods and be cozy for the annual hayride!)
  • 1 carry-on bag for David
  • 1 Backpack for the plane with some snacks, a few toys, and diapers

I know what you are thinking: WHOA, that is a lot of stuff. And you are right! But, remember this is air travel to multiple locations via multiple transportations (taxi, buses, planes, rental car) for over 10 days with two kids. Maybe I am delusional but I am pretty pumped for how “light weight” it feels this time!

What I am not bringing: Baby food, bottles, a breast pump, heavy toddler car seats (that weigh as much as me!), carseat travel wheels to roll heavy carseat through terminal, baby wraps/carrier, pacifiers, baby utensils, multiple extra pairs of clothes because someone is always pooping through an outfit, tons of cow milk for sippy cups, burp clothes, swaddle blankets, nursing cover, bibs, etc. etc.

While most days I  carry my sadness over not adding another little peanut into our clan, when it comes to a travel day there is a silver-lining to being a more mobile team toddlers and out of our itty, bitty babyhood. Safe travels where ever you may be going this Holiday!