Currently, Oct 2014

Current Book – I just read Roald Dahl’s “Danny, the Champion of the World”, which is probably meant for 10 year olds. I’m also reading “The Naked Roommate: For Parents Only: A Parent’s Guide to the New College Experience: Calling, Not Calling, Packing, Preparing, Problems, Roommates, … Matters when Your Child Goes to College” by Harlan Cohen.

Current Shame-Inducing, Guilty Pleasure – Facebooking when I should be working out.

Current Drink – water

Current Favorite Blog – Lorahogan.com because I have known her for years but I always learn new things about her when I read her blog posts. And because we empower each other.

Current Song – Marry You by Bruno Mars


Current Wish-List – a few lbs off

Current Needs – well there’s that empty light on my dashboard…

Current Triumph – Met Anna and Elsa at the Magic Kingdom TWICE in one day!

Current Indulgence – Musicals. Les Miz in Gainesville, #CinderellaTour at the Straz and Anything Goes at my kids’ school

Current Outfit – PJs

Current Banes of My Existence – loud sounds waking me up around midnight.

Current Excitement – College acceptance letters showing up in our mailbox for my daughter!!!!!

Current Mood – enjoying the ride.

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Currently, July 2014

Current Book – In June I read “Into the Forest: A Novel” by Jean Hegland because I heard Ellen Page was going to make a movie out of it with Evan Rachel Wood. I give it a B. Maybe a B-. Very “Flowers in the Attic”. I was hoping for more. It did make me want to start my garden soon, though. I also finished reading “Banking on Burlesque“, which was like Pop Rocks for my brain. It’s written by a woman who was a banker in the UK and on the side for fun was occasionally a burlesque dancer, about a woman who was a banker in the UK and on the side for fun was occasionally a burlesque dancer. It’s fluff, but she expands to much on the work scenes and work drama than she needs to. You might want to just eat the Pop Rocks instead.

Current Shame-Inducing, Guilty Pleasure – apparently it’s still sugar because my clothes are getting tight. I’m getting it under control starting yesterday!! Had quite a power yoga class this morning – phew!

Current Drink – water

Current Favorite Blog – http://dadscribe.com. Because I think I O.D.’ed on mom blogs for a couple years, why not try reading a dad blog?

Current Song – Pharrell Williams – Happy (I still like to start my work day with the Official Music Video)

Current Wish-List – A housekeeper. And to find the manicure gift card that I misplaced when I moved.

Current Needs – I’m content right now…

Current Triumph – Started my new job in my new office with fun people, a great attitude, and support from my family and friends.

Current Indulgence – Lots of time with my daughters… except right now as I’m typing instead of watching “Full House” reruns with them.

Current Outfit – Ed Hardy jammies and new leopard print slippers that I got SO ON SALE at Bealls!

Current Banes of My Existence – I dreamed twice recently about fighting with DD2 and slapping her 🙁   I don’t slap! Also, I had to lay concrete with my husband a few weekends ago and I know another slab is coming soon! Wheelbarrows and I don’t do well together.

Current Excitement – My cute new purse that I bought with birthday money from my mom. It’s polka-dotted on the inside 🙂

Current Mood – excited to learn a few new techie tricks with this new job!

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Push Away the Screen – My birthday

Things are about to shift in our household. I start a full time out-of-the-house job on June 30. That means I have to take vacation time when I want time away for the first time in about 10 yrs. My older daughter starts senior year of high school so she will be working on essays, scholarships, standardized tests, etc. And my younger daughter is learning to drive.

No matter how big she gets, she's still mini-me!

No matter how big she gets, she’s still mini-me!

Brian decided it was time for a family vacation before any of that kicks in – and within 2 days of mentioning it to us at dinner he had the whole thing planned. One night we were talking about where we might want to have dinner near Disney, and the next day he had an itinerary ready, down to a Fast Pass for the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride.

We decided to go back to the Caribe Royale, where we stayed last Sept. We liked their pool with slide and waterfall, food, poolside cabana and room amenities (the pool bar even has the same friendly bartender). We also learned that they now have “dive in movies” – family-friendly movies out by the pool at night (“Madagascar 3” and the new-to-DVD “Frozen” while we were there) and they have their own award-winning pastry chef who makes all the sinful goodies on property.

Smoothies by the pool after getting wisdom teeth out - PERFECT!

Smoothies by the pool after getting wisdom teeth out – PERFECT!

Here’s how you can take advantage of this Hot Spot all summer:

Summer Splash Package

  • Valid for travel June 1 – September 30, 2014
  • Rates start at $129 per night, plus tax for one bedroom suites
  • Breakfast buffet for two people daily in Tropicale
  • Daily high-speed internet
  • Guaranteed 1pm late check out
  • DOUBLE Stash Points (must be a Stash Rewards member)
  • 25% off every 3rd night
  • Terms: Package and rates are subject to availability. Blackout dates may apply. Package is available for suites and villas, but villas may be sold out over certain dates. In order to receive Stash points you must be a Stash member.

We had a 2-room suite this time. The room we walked in to from the hall had a pull-out sofa bed, desk, fridge, microwave, mini-bar, tables and chairs. The 2nd room had the bathroom with sink outside (which we like so 2 can do hair and makeup while the 3rd showers), and 2 queen size beds.

Once they learned it was my birthday, we came back to our room to find a decorate-your-own-cookies platter with chocolate chip cookies, frosting and mini M&Ms. 🙂

Milk & Cookies for all!

Milk & Cookies for all!

For the first time, we ate at Sanaa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Village. It’s not at the theme park or the main lodge, but if you bus to the main lodge you can stroll the path to get there. It is Indian and African food at its best, and most of the meals are you-pick-two so you can try a variety of flavors. For the 4 of us with 4 desserts (we never do that!) and drinks for Brian, it was about $130, which is our typical expenditure for 4 “adults” at a Disney restaurant, only this one was over-the-top delicious! 

The restaurant opens at 5pm, and our reservation was for 5:30, but we arrived at 4:30 so we could watch animals out back and shop without feeling rushed. Grazing zebras, giraffes, and other fuzzy friends were just a few feet away, and tortoises were visible through a window by the restaurant as well.

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Seen in gift shop - a book made from Poop.

Seen in gift shop – a book made from Poop.

At 5pm, a short drumming show announced the start of meal time, and at 5:20 we put our names in with the hostess. We were seated quickly, and our server, Ken, was funny and gave great recommendations.

We started our meal with 3 flavors of Naan bread and 3 dips to spread on top. Alice, who had just had her wisdom teeth out and only wanted mushy foods, ordered Potato and Pea Samosas and Chana Tikki – chickpea patties. I think she had soup too. Brian had Butter Chicken and Spicy Durban Shrimp with basmati rice, and Wendy had lamb and the kids dessert of Peanut Butter Mousse and Eggless Chocolate Cake. I had Paneer Tikka, Chana Masala and basmati rice. Everything was superb!

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My birthday dessert

My birthday dessert

After Sanaa we went to La Nouba, the Cirque du Soleil show that is based at Downtown Disney. Brian and I had seen it years ago when it first opened, but we are Cirque freaks and really wanted the girls to see it. Although we were in the 2nd to last row of the audience to save some $$, there’s really not a bad seat in the house. We loved strolling the south hall and stairwell, looking at the wall of framed clown photos! What a way to spend a birthday!!

For the first time in 17 years we decided to return to the Living Seas restaurant at EPCOT. We thought the girls would get a kick out of the HUGE aquarium inside. The menu there, however, was unimaginative and none of us left feeling like it was anything special – for the same price tag as Sanaa without desserts. So not worth it.

That weekend at Disney was also Gay Days and Star Wars weekends. The lines were LONG, and we were thankful that Brian made our fast passes online in advance. We also spent mornings in poolside-cabanas reading and splashing, and hit the theme parks later in the day when younger children might have already melted and gone home.

A friend let us know that The Studios might be too full on Sunday to enjoy, so we went on Saturday. For the first time, Alice and Wendy were old enough to volunteer for the show before the Backlot Tour ride. They starred in the 1pm showing of “Harbor Attack”, and we got plenty of photos and videos. It was another throwback to our honeymoon, when Brian and I were in the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular.

Harbor Attack Extras

Harbor Attack Extras

We also took a little break in the A/C in the back of the studios where you can take a drawing class, and we all drew Winnie the Pooh. Then Alice beat me at Toy Story Mania.

Pooh bear drawing class

Pooh bear drawing class

blogtoystorymaniaWe rode Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Roller Coaster – thankful that Alice’s sore mouth wasn’t bothered during the fast-paced Aerosmith ride. We also saw Boba Fett, Darth Vader, Sand People and many other Star Wars characters wandering even though it was not our intention. Added bonus!

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I was teaching him to say “Selfie”

We also brought a game for the hotel room, so we could come back and shower, eat sugar, and play a family game before bed.

Once, while in line for The Pirates of the Caribbean, we were talking to the young man running the ride, and he said he had never seen any of the Johnny Depp Pirate movies! I was shocked!

Sunday was out last day in Orlando. We checked out of the Caribe Royale and headed back to EPCOT, where we met up with our friend Grayson to graise our way around the World Showcase countries and munch on whatever we wanted.

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Grayson has a Disney pass too, so we could play all day!

I split a delicious avocado margarita with Brain in Mexico, had an egg roll in China, got perfume samples and rode the Maelstrom in Norway, shopped in Germany and Japan (Kiki comics!), had apple pie in America, got slushies for the kids in Morocco, shared fish & chips in Great Britain, listened to Off Kilter in Canada, got photos with Pooh and Tigger and rode Test Track. I think we headed for home at 3:30pm.

blogpoohhug blogpoohfriendsWe’ve been to Disney a zillion times. It seems to me that there’s been a huge shift in the last 2 years where fast passes and restaurant reservations are much more of a requirement to avoid 90 minutes lines than ever before. But we have lots of tips and tricks if you are planning a vacation there. And if you don’t need to rely on Disney bus service the whole time, check out the Caribe Royale, especially if you have a large group or want a full kitchen and laundry. Their suite options are wonderful! Enjoy your stay!

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Currently, May 2014

I’ve been away from blogging for a while because I have been working all hours of day and night lately. Just as I was easing into a new job, the Director above me quit and I have been handling a lot of responsibilities. I am determined not to let a ball drop.

To ease back into blogging, I figure an update on me would be the easiest way…

Current Book – I just finished “Every Day” by David Levithan. This is a young adult novel that my daughter has to read this summer. I’m pre-reading so we can discuss it later. It deals with lots of issues that teens face every day, and very matter-of-factly tackles gender issues and sexuality – which is where many of our conversations have been lately. (My younger daughter went to prom with a girlfriend, and my older daughter went to prom with a boyfriend.) Best of all, the author was a co-author on “Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist”. Bam!

The book is about a main character who wakes up in the body of a different person every day. Just for one day in their skin. But then suddenly falls in love and wants to stay in one place…

Current Shame-Inducing, Guilty Pleasure – sugar. I’ve been eating any dessert I want. After a day of protein, fruit, nuts and veggies, I’m usually OK with a scoop of ice cream at night. But yesterday I could feel it on my tongue. Time to cut back.

Current Drink – water, but not enough

Current Favorite Blog – I’ve been spending a lot of time linking to the updates made from the Tampa Bay Bloggers Facebook page because I can do that easily from my phone while other stuff loads on my computer at work.

Current Song – Pharrell Williams – Happy (I like to start my work day with the Official Music Video)

Current Wish-List – keeping track of all the details without letting someone down.

Current Needs – weekend getaway with my husband. But we’re taking one as a family soon, so that will suffice. Time to search more scholarships online for my daughter.

Current Triumph – I’m going to live vicariously for a moment and say that my daughter’s boyfriend can hold a plank for 6 minutes! I gave him 7000 extra boyfriend points for that!

Current Indulgence – spent last weekend reading by the waves of Siesta Key Beach. Have you been there? It’s in Sarasota. The sand is like powdered sugar 🙂 I finished “Every Day” and started “Banking on Burlesque”.

Current Outfit – satin bathrobe. Shhhh

Current Banes of My Existence – People airing out all that bugs them on one long, ranting Facebook status. Unfollow.

Current Excitement – Keeping my cool under pressure and getting lots of compliments for it. I like being recognized for successes. Excited for my daughter’s high school senior portraits this summer!

Current Mood – excited to learn with a little anxiousness.

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Liebster Award Q&A

My bloggy friend Crystal of Thrifty and Frugal Living nominated me for a Liebster Award. I had never heard of this award, but it brought a smile to my face as I was playing on Twitter and Instagram on my phone this Saturday morning, debating if I was ready to get out of bed or not. (I wasn’t…)

(I’m ignoring the 200 followers rule, like she did…)

This award will basically give you some insight into who I am. Here are the questions I was given:

1. Who are your top 5 all time favorite bands/artists?

I would have had a really thoughtful answer for this in High School, when I was just starting to seriously get into music. 9th grade introduced me to Billy Joel and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Senior year I wore headphones and a Walkman between classes in the hallways listening to Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith. In college I interned at Mercury Records and “Rolling Stone Magazine”. I was up with the latest and greatest bands before you knew they were cool. 😉 My dad was a classical music guy and my mom was a pop music girl, and I had a set of my own records (I think I still have most of them) including soundtracks from Annie, Shirley Temple, Saturday Night Fever, a few Disney movies and Sesame Street. But these days I’ll stick with…

  • The Beatles
  • REO Speedwagon
  • U2
  • Bonnie McKee
  • Aerosmith? Mozart? Madonna? Belinda Carlisle? Billy Joel? Simon & Garfunkel? Huey Lewis?

2. What is the one beauty product you can not live without?

There are 3 items that came to mind right away, so I’m going to cheat and tell you about all 3 of them.

  • Deodorant – preferably Secret powder fresh scent in invisible solid, which is supposed to glide on clear even when you wear black clothes, but that never works
  • Oil Free Oil of Olay with SPF 15 – I believe in sunscreen and daily moisturizer
  • Black Eyeliner – I’m not picky about brand. I find true black in a twist-up pencil at CVS and see which is cheapest that day with a coupon.

That’s not to say I don’t wear eye shadow or lipstick or perfume or hair product – oh, and nail polish – I totally do. But today I am in Yoga pants and just ran to the grocery store, and the 3 items listed above would get put on before anything else.

3. Describe your dream vacation

  • The 4 members of my family for 11 days in Hawaii with great weather, great food, and a different Cirque du Soleil show every night – the majority of time in Oahu, and I know there is not a Cirque show there, this is my dream… followed up by a week in France, a week in Italy and a week in Austria. And maybe 4 days in Hong Kong and 4 days in Israel. And some hiking in New Zealand. Then 4 days in New York City  to see shows and 3 days in New Orleans to eat. Then 8 days at Walt Disney World resort Florida and 4 days at Disneyland California to compare. Honestly, Austria is only on the list because I know Brian wants to go there.

4. Do you ever think about names for your future children (whether or not you have kids now)?

I say Isabella (“Bella”) is the girl name I never used and Scott Elliott (“Scooter”) is the boy name I never used. And I would change Alice’s middle name to Marie and let Wendy pick her own middle name.

5. Have you ever been in love?

Yes. I so love my husband!!!

6. What accomplishment of yours are you the most proud of?

When I catch my daughters curled up reading silently or when I catch the 2 of them quietly chatting, having a “sister moment”. It used to be when they said, “You’re the best mommy in the whole world!”

Recently, we moved out of our house on the same weekend Alice had to have emergency surgery. A few days later, Alice called me a “rock”. I was pretty proud of that.

I also decided in 2012 to make Half Moon pose my yoga bitch. When I nail it with my hips properly rotated and can lift my lower hand off the floor, I am more proud than a true yogi should allow herself to be.

7. What is one of your most embarrassing moments?

I’ve put my foot in my mouth a few times, and got my period on my light pink skirt in middle school, but it would have to be when I was making out with my boyfriend by a lake for the 2nd weekend in a row, and got a talking-to from the same cop for the 2nd weekend in a row.

8. What is your favorite movie?

I went through movie phases where I would watch the same video over and over until the tape wore down. It started with Annie, moved on to Stand By Me, then Some Kind of Wonderful. Now there’s the scene from Moulin Rouge! (just the scene, not the whole movie) when Ewan McGregor sings “Your Song” to Nicole Kidman, and I melt. I also love to watch videos of my kids growing up. I am happy to say I have transferred most of them to DVD.

9. Who do you admire/ look up to?

I admire different traits in different people. Right now I am home with my friends Tom and Debbie, and he can cook like nobody’s business and she can make cheesecake that is like clouds. My husband is a great adapter, and is self motivated and a great self educator. My Uncle Jerome embraces mindfulness – as does my father, but in a way that is harder for me to relate to. I admire my mother’s patience with her parents.

10. If you could have any job in the world tomorrow (without going through schooling or anything), what would it be?

If I could have any job, I would volunteer with children who are either homeless or in the hospital. I would read to them and play games with them. We’d paint pottery and play tag at the park. But I need an income, and so I have found something creative which I really enjoy – web design.

11. If you could have dinner with anyone (dead/alive/celebrity/normal person) who would it be?

I would enjoy dinner with my late Grandfather Harry Freedman again. I was lucky to have had many dinners with him as a child. Somebody new would be Drew Barrymore.

Paying It Forward

These are some of my favorite bloggers who now have to answer my 11 questions:

  1. Brian @ A Runner’s Blog, yep my husband
  2. Chasing the Kenyans, miss her
  3. Gingermantra, newly discovered
  4. Drawing Saudade, creative genius
  5. Abby’s Road to Amazingness
  6. Maker Mother Marathon Runner
  7. Mindy’s Fitness Journey, taught both of my daughters!
  8. One Twenty Five

Here are my 11 Questions:

  1. Who, what, and/or where does your blogging inspiration come from?
  2. What was your favorite book before you were 12 years old? Do you still own a copy?
  3. Where was your first kiss?
  4. Describe your dream vacation.
  5. If you were an animated character, who would you be?
  6. If you could run through the Magic Kingdom with anyone, who would it be?
  7. What is your favorite quote?
  8. Finish this sentence: Best Friends are…
  9. What is your dream drink / meal / dessert combo?
  10. What is a goal you have for yourself that you have yet to achieve?
  11. What is the best thing about YOU?
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