Tuesday, 13 May 2014


parade watching
I'm finally FINALLY getting around to posting pictures from Disney. Yes Disney World, the Weibels got up the nerve to take on the Walt. I had always said I wouldn't go 'till my oldest was 5 since he or she wouldn't appreciate it before. I had also always said we would not NOT turn into one of those families who were constantly going to Disney as if no other place on Earth existed to take a vacation. Well, Wugs is 3 1/2 so I fell flat on my face with that point. As for the latter, we're not becoming yearly passholders (yet) or anything but man, those people are onto something. There's just something about Disney World. Magic. Warning, I'm about to write the word magic an obnoxious amount of times.


I'll start from the beginning.  I'll keep it to Magic Kingdom only for this post as we also went to Hollywood Studios; I wrote down some things and tips that worked for us so will regurg that here more for my reference than anything else. 

Every year Disney does a deal for Florida residents, a 2- or 4-day pass. We had talked about going, it just felt like a good time. Last year on New Year's Eve day we had ended up in downtown Disney in search of a photobooth (we're so nutskis). We walked around a little bit and from just that little taste we could tell Mila was smitten. She was ready. Then for Valentine's Day Marmousch surprised us with tickets...and upgraded to the 4 day pass! We were so grateful and excited. Thank you again Marmousch for such incredible memories. 

Baby Mine on the carousel
We broke up our 4 day pass into two separate 2-day trips. Orlando is 1 1/2 hours away, so it's a nice perk. We thought it would be nice to get away for a couple days, experience WDW, come back home, process it (I'm talking about Mila here), get a gauge for what works, what we'd like to change, and then do it all over again before the June 6th deadline.  And actually as I write this we're headed on part 2! Seeing these pictures is getting me excited all over again. 

We stayed at the Coronado Springs Resort, which was great. Most likely when we go to WDW in the years to come we'll go for the day (Florida perks!); that's what we always did growing up. For the girls' first time though AND since they're still so young and it's tough for us to mobilize quickly--we figured being on-site would set us up for success. Also, then we could take advantage of magic hours, when parks stay open an hour earlier or later just for Disney hotel guests (it varies from day to day). Oh I'd certainly recommend this. There were a few hotel advantages, namely free parking, shuttle pickup and drop-off allowing you to bypass the monorail, three fast passes/day (this is HUGE), and that magic hour was a big perk. Yes, we took full advantage and were there when the cannon went off and the park opened. Magical! We had also wanted a hotel room thinking it would be a 'day base' where we could come back to if the girls were tired so they could nap. That didn't end up being the case and I'm so glad it wasn't because let's face it, that would have been a huge chunk of the day. I'm sure it has nothing to do with our parenting but for whatever reason our girls are troopers. Dani napped on the go, Mila held her own and Steve and I just went with it. We ended up staying until 10:00; as the bus was pulling away from the entrance we could see fireworks beginning (another magical moment!). That's 14 hours at Magic Kingdom! Like I said, troopers to the max.


Also! Mila had no idea we were going. It was a big ole surprise. She thought we were going to Orlando for IKEA (which for us is a totally normal, nearly-monthly thing). Then as we got closer Steve, ever the actor, started playing up this headache, and he got "lost," and wanted to stop for directions at the hotel. Very much not rehearsed between us and it was damn comical to watch it unfold. When we pulled up to the hotel guardbooth, Steve was jerking his head in the direction of the backseat and whispering. The look on the guard's face: priceless. 

When we got to the room (which we told Wugs we were just going to stay for the afternoon until Papa's headache got better, a by-the-hour place! Haha) there were mickey-shaped balloons, Mickey ear hats with the girls' names on them, a card...all orchestrated by Steve. Apparently he was smitten too. And we slowly revealed our plans to Mila. She was all hands-jammed-in-mouth giddy, which is the Wugs way. She was excited. Don't let some of those non-smiling pictures fool you, she had the time of her life. I know because she HAS NOT STOPPED talking about it ever since. Mila's play at home now either revolves around her going to Disney or going to a Disney hotel. 

It's funny, having grown up in Florida we went to Disney quite a bit. Not like crazy Disney people but I'd say at least once a year we went to one park or another, more if we had houseguests from Italy visiting. I knew what to expect. But seeing Disney through the eyes of your children? Incredible. Even without the more thrilling rides, which I didn't partake in for the first time in decades...no, it was all teacups and Small World and dumbo sort of hokey parental fun. We'd come full circle! I wasn't prepared to fall head over heels in love with the Disney experience the way I did, and I credit Mila and Dani with that. And Walt. Thanks Walt. See you very soon!





when I think of Disney I think of rides. But for kids, the parade is right up there! We hadn't scoped out parade information because up until that point Mila hadn't watched a huge amount of Disney movies and really had only gotten into Frozen (along with every other little girl in North America, nay, the world). We got in line at a cafe for lunch and saw that the sidewalk was already being cordoned off for the parade. Then I heard that Elsa and Anna were going to be in the parade. And....duh. Steve and I didn't even have to communicate on this one. I grabbed the girls and our stroller to stake out a front-row spot, Steve waited out the line for the food, and the rest was h-i-s-t-o-r-y. Definitely one of Mila's highlights and Dani was mesmerized as well. So, a very very happy accident by way of the parade.

We took our BOB stroller (it's a single but Mila will hop on the front from time to time if she's tired of walking) and the ergo. Dani slept in the ergo throughout the day. Amazingly, she slept through the entire spinning teacups which Steve was turning with all of his might (pre-shingles, ha!), the Little Mermaid ride, and the very jerky/jostling Toy Story Mania ride at Hollywood Studios the next day. Ergo's still got it fo sho.

We also had a two backpack system that worked well. One was lighter and smaller that just had a few diapers and small wipes container. This way if I had to change Dani there was no fumbling around for anything, just grab and go. The other backpack, the beast--had snacks, our camera, sunscreen, a couple bandaids, water bottles...this is what we'd take while waiting in ride lines. In our stroller, the workhorse, were more diapers, changes of clothes, the beast if one of us weren't wearing it...you get the picture.

Of course, when Disney-ing with littles, it's helpful to slow down your pace a bit. Sometimes more than a bit. In past times Steve and I had raced through parks trying to strategize and avoid lines. This time, we walked like normal people. Took breaks (diaper changes). Spent 30 minutes hanging around a fountain eating a le feu brew (more on that below). There were more snacks. Lots of grazing.

Dani's sleeping, we're snackin'
Characters. This is a big thing with kids but ours aren't quite there yet. Certainly a lot would depend on their personalities and how familiar they are with the movies. Dani outright screamed when poor Tigger startled her and Mila, while interested, wasn't exactly sidling up to them. It was more like character-mama as barrier-Mila in all our character photos. Maybe in a few years.

speaking of snacks! In order to make it on time for our 'magic hour' that first day in the Magic Kingdom, we ate breakfast on the go while waiting for the bus. Our favorite things that we'll be taking this time around were cereal bars, fruit and veggie squeeze pouches, applesauce squeeze bottles, and juice boxes. Those snacks also carried us through the day, when we weren't stuffing our faces with park goodies. Snacks and my favorite vitamin C lollipops got us through a few long lines.

park goodies! pineapple dole whip, mmmmkay? and nutella waffles at the Spooky Hollow Inn--this is also where we stumbled upon the parade. but my favorite park snack, a le feu brew at Gaston's Tavern. It's like this passionfruit smoothie drink thing, soooo delicious. We did a character dinner at Crystal Palace (I think that's the name?) with Pooh and Co. I wasn't expecting anything special at the buffet but it wasn't bad. A step in between cafeteria and wedding food, if you will.

and random: that footpath that goes around the outside of (not through) Cinderella's castle should really be appropriately labeled as Tobacco Lane on the WDW map. I don't think that would take away the magic or anything. Okay maybe it would. But it would save your lungs so I think that's a legit tradeoff. Be weary of Tobacco Lane folks.

And, just a few of the happy little moments that I loved and want to remember. You know, because this whole childhood thing is flying by much too fast. 
* at the souvenir stores we'd go into Steve would bypass all the stuff he usually would make a beeline for (like t-shirts) and go straight for the Frozen merchandise. For his girls. I thought that was so sweet. 




*we got caught up in parade route detour after detour in the evening ("we just want to ride the carousel for crying out loud!") that first night. And suddenly we found ourselves once again in the path of the nighttime light parade. Steve threw Mila up on his shoulders (Dani was in the ergo, relaxed and heading to sleep) and once again we marveled at how special it was that the parade had seemingly found us.
*the carousel ended up being our last ride of the night, Mila's choice. I nearly started crying when it started turning and Baby Mine from Dumbo began playing. I used to sing that song to Dani when she was an infant. Bittersweet. It always comes back to bittersweet, doesn't it?
*Mila has stood by her statement since we went that her favorite ride was It's a Small World. Dani loved that one too, bopping along to the music. Now that's a memory (and iphone video) I want forever.

Mother's Day

I still remember where I was the first time someone said happy mother's day to me, and yes it felt weird. I was about six (almost seven?) months pregnant with Mila, was tagging along with my parents as they went to Lowe's before we headed out to dinner, and a very cheery sales associate said it to Marmousch. Then she turned to me smiling, "And to you, too!" Whoa. Like I said, weird. Obviously I felt very pregnant already and had been getting the 'when are you due' comments already from people I didn't know--but to acknowledge me as a mother, THAT was something else entirely. It was like a fist bump welcoming me into an honorary tribe.

Motherhood is so huge, it's so weighty. It transcends boundaries and generations and cultural differences. It's complex yet simple, paradox after paradox. It's the quiet moments that don't get instagrammed, the middle of the night loneliness and worries. It's rubbing their back as they're throwing up into the toilet. It's having your heart in your throat as you watch your daughter interact with another child on the playground; not wanting to helicopter, but wanting so much to let them know I'm here! I'm here! I'm here whenever you need me!, an over-spirited cheerleader.  It's changing the course of your planned productive afternoon when you realize you're going to be holding a clingy little one for every single task. It's ordinary one minute and magical the next. Sticky fingers, spontaneous hugs, multiplying crumbs, open-mouth kisses, emptied drawers, clothes strewn about, wasted bandaids, calico critters found in your makeup drawer, spill after spill after spill. The worrying and the second-guessing. My God the second-guessing. Worrying you're not good enough. Worrying you're trying to squeeze too many things in one day. Worrying you're not doing enough in a day.  Motherhood often exhilarates me. Equally often it exhausts me. But I know with complete certainty that this is the most fulfilling thing I have ever done. Raising these girls, being their best buddy, trying to teach by example (all the while they're the ones teaching me); I love it so much. These two little people who collectively weigh less than 50 pounds make me a better person. I feel so lucky, so privileged to be theirs. In many ways I was born on August 29th, 2010-the day Mila was born, and another part of me was born again on November 9th, 2012 with Dani's birth.

And maybe a huge part of why I love mothering so much is because I won the lottery with my own mama. She has been led by faith, selflessness, and love every single day of my life. She loves my babies as her own and I lean on her heavily for support. She has always been there for me, never with judgment, always with love and compassion. I am so grateful to have her nearby, something she never had with my grandparents living in Italy, and I can't imagine how heartachingly difficult that must have been for her (and for nonna!). Mila and Dani have a special bond with Marmousch that is so beautiful to watch.

Sunday was lovely and sweet for me, and I hope it was for Marmousch too who spent the day with us. Breakfast in bed. Steve, who lately has been zonked in the mornings because of strong, strong pain medications,  purposely didn't take anything the night before so that he'd be able to wake up at six to surprise me with breakfast in bed. Just writing that brings tears to my eyes, the sacrifice it must have been. There was also a very appreciated nap, homemade macarons, muffins, bagels, mimosas. Marmee must've gotten up on a freaking ladder to pick magnolias off her tree for me after I commented how much I love them. I got her a cactus garden and she got me...a cactus garden! Like I said, my mother and I...well, I hope my adult relationship with Mila and Dani is just as powerful.

Happy (belated) Mother's Day. And try not to be too hard on yourselves, even though I know it's part of the job description ;) We're all doing an amazing job.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

right now

I mentioned in the last post that Steve has shingles. It was definitely a fluke thing, him getting it. He's home with us until he's totally in the clear; we're going on week five. Important side note: shingles sucks. There was a long(ish) period in March where he didn't work, and now this is even longer. Wish the circumstances were different but . So I'll become a card-carrying member of the early crew while Steve tries to recoup a little sleep. Right now we make pancakes with berries swimming in maple syrup. Dani almost always gets a little cupful of yogurt and it mostly ends up all matted and crunchy in her curls, since she hasn't allowed herself to be fed since she was 11 months old and insists on doing it herself. I love her independent streak. Right now we're heading into summer and are already going to the beach a few times a week. Towels and our beach blanket are permanently in the trunk, ready to go; sunscreen, ready to go. Cornstarch, ready to go. (cornstarch after a day at the beach. takes away all the sand. MAGIC.) A gallon ziplock bag filled with watermelon wedges and every time I look up it seems like Mila's devouring one, eating it down to the rind. Right now, our other go-to snack is apple slices with a little almond butter and teensy bit of maple syrup drizzled on top. And Himalayan sea salt (it's pink, so it's a hit). Not a good snack for the beach, FYI. I know I'm getting long-winded here.

Today I played "the straining game" (don't ask!) with one and held on tight to another as ocean water ebbed and flowed at our ankles. I remind myself that I am just where I need to be. There are a million little projects I want to get done for our home within the next month, but I need to wait until my partner in crime is more able-bodied. I mind in some moments, and then there are others when we put a record on and I spin around with Dani on my hip, share a giggly look with Mila, and watch Steve do his thing on the dance floor in our living room. It's more than okay.

At the end of 2014 I'll reflect on this past year and already like to think I'll see April and May as our resting, recuperating, calming and quiet time. Marred by shingles, yes, but not completely eclipsed by it. Soon summer will fully hit, and we'll be off, one adventure maybe two, trying to soak in all the sun and swim, bubbles and ice cream. Then fall will start and with it my firstborn will start preschool. I think. I'm still wrapping my head around the idea of Mila, my baby, this girl whom I know inside and outside, being in a school setting. Or to get to the heart of my anxiety, being away from me. If motherhood is all about your heart walking outside of your body, like that famous quote says, then my heart feels like it's gearing up for a marathon. I know preschool is just the beginning. But it's an awfully big beginning.