Sunday, October 27, 2019

Less Than Professional Racheal

Hello there!

It's an absolutely beautiful fall Sunday afternoon, which means Dan is napping after church and an Aldi date, the girls are at Grandma Frankie's after a trunk or treat, and I am reclined and caffeinated while watching football. Does it get any better?

I returned home Thursday night from a week long conference in Orlando, where I was equally intimated and motivated. Intimated by all of the genius modelling work scientists/mathematicians/statisticians/engineers are doing. Motivated to light a fire under my career, which admittedly has been a little stagnant after birthing and caring for three babies in five years.

This was a pharmacometrics conference. As you might assume from the name, many of the people there were a pretty big deal. I tried to put on my most professional self, but of course the true unprofessional Racheal came out a few times. I happened to meet the gentleman whose book I had been reading the few months before and talked to him for about 20 minutes, only to realize I had a huge chunk of lettuce in my teeth.

I was excited to have the chance to only get myself ready for the conference each day, without having my usual household and parenting morning responsibilities. On the third day of the conference I was feeling pretty put together, but when I sat down for lunch I felt something scratch my leg and realized that a baby doll dress was stuck by velcro to the inside of my skirt. Super professional.

Then, on the plane ride home I opened my full water bottle, which apparently is a hazard with so much pressure. Water sprayed three feet up in the air and soaked me, the people next to me, and the two rows behind me. I was so surprised, it took me a good 5 seconds to realize what was going on and close the lid. Lesson learned.

Being away from the girls and Dan for that long was hard. Other than Cora wearing the clothes I had set out for Mira to school and Mira screaming for me a few times in the middle of the night, I think they all did great. Dan's mom helped a lot in the morning, she was a life saver.

The day before I left we celebrated our friend Brad's 40th birthday.

Although the picture might suggest Dan ran a 5K, he was really just playing a few intense games of pickle ball and then subsequently injuring his shoulder, the day before I left him for a week to care for three children.

We were able to catch up with some friends we hadn't seen in years! Courtney pretty much had Mira (who doesn't really like anybody) won over by the time we left.

We were right back in the swing of things on Friday with work and tacos for dinner. The girls had friends over to play in the basement and drag out every toy I had successfully hidden down there.

I worked Saturday (yesterday) morning and then Grandma Frankie picked up the girls to take them to her annual Trunk or Treat.

I tried hard to get them to be Elsa, Anna, and Olaf, but they wanted to be something "scary." Aren't you scared? 

With the girls away, Dan and I had no choice but to play. Ha!

We met with Carrie, a blog friend for almost 10 years!

Carrie and I have talked back and forth for years reading each others' blogs, and when she told me she and her husband and her friend Jenny would be in Kansas City for the Green Bay game, I was so excited to finally meet her face to face. I have to say that this was a first - meeting someone I only knew from the internet, but it was like talking to an old friend. We had an absolute blast walking around Cross Roads and downtown. The blog world has changed so much since I started writing, and this blog has changed right along with it, but I am so thankful for the friendships I have developed and maintained along the way.

Once Dan and I said bye to them we headed to our friend Mike's house for a super fun (and delicious) birthday party where Dan and I played cards and ate monster cookies. We saw 1 AM, which is so unlike us, but was so much fun.

This week we have our usual fun, along with parent teacher conferences and Halloween, so it should be a good time. I hope you have a great week! <3

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Mommy Left Me!


(Cora eating ice cream that matches her shirt is my idea of perfection.)

It's Saturday morning and the fall rain has gifted me some time to blog by postponing our family pictures and tricking the girls into thinking the sun is still asleep, so they should be too. Our dog woke me up at 4:45 on my one day to sleep in and I have spent the last two hours listening to my audio book and doing laundry- obviously living it up.

We returned from vacation in full force with school and dance and swim lessons and small group. Well, mostly full force, with a tad bit of sleep deprivation from an apparently traumatized Mira waking up at approximately 2:45 am for 5 days in a row screaming, "MOMMY LEFT ME!!" at the top of her lungs.

I suppose I should thank my lucky stars that she doesn't know I left her for Disney? Or maybe ask why she isn't crying about Daddy, Ina, or Cora leaving her? Why is it my fault?

All kidding aside, I feel horrible, and she knows it, and only uses my guilt to her advantage.
Me: I love you Mira. 
Mira: No you don't, Nonnie does. (Nonnie kept her while we were gone.)

The first day after we came back I dared to go grocery shopping without her and when I returned she stopped playing and surprisingly screamed, "Mommy! You came back!"

So, this is what I have been repeating to her 24/7: mommy always comes back. This is necessary because I am leaving again tomorrow for a 5 day pharmacometrics conference in Orlando. I'll admit, the proximity of the two trips was poor planning on my part.

You better believe she will be getting a lot of extra baby cuddles today.

It is particularly hard to believe we are back from vacation because of all the fun things we have been able to do this week.

Last Saturday morning we went to Gibson's 5th birthday party to paint pumpkins and eat donuts. (I find it very hard to believe he is five. I still have a vivid memory of going on a run with Danielle and discussing the possibility of her having another child. Now that child is in kindergarten.)

We left the party early to head to Rondez Vous, Dan's dad's camping/dutch oven cooking extravaganza, which still holds the record for being my favorite eating day of the year.

I am fairly certain Cora had four servings of peach cobbler and Mira, who couldn't be bothered with utensils, was eating beef roast from my plate by the fistful.

If you are wondering if my jeans fit after six days of cruise eating and coming home to this, you are not alone. Miraculously, they are holding on by a thread.

After enjoying the delicious food we sat in camping chairs and talked while the sun was going down.

The next day we went to church and then to Grandma Frankie's family reunion.

We don't get to see these lovely people often, but every time we do I am reminded how absolutely amazing they are. They aren't biologically related to Dan, but have always and continue to accept him into their family with open arms.

Cora mostly played at the park, Ina mostly climbed trees, and Mira mostly scowled at anyone who dared to tell her she looked cute.

(Exhausted, after being awake since 3 AM.)

The week ahead was difficult, as Nonnie had the week off from helping me with the girls and I quickly remembered just how much I need her in order to stay sane. Sleep deprivation combined with less help and playing vacation catch up made for an incredibly difficult week and I was so happy when it drew to an end.

On Thursday Ina and I were able to sneak away to the homecoming parade to watch Logan (our neighbor/friend/Brooke's son), who won Homecoming!

All the candy Ina caught was icing on the cake.

Today we have family pictures, our friend Brad's 40th birthday party, and then me packing all the bags (suitcase! backpacks! dance bags! swim stuff!) and prepping all of things (food/clothes/detailed instruction lists that I am fairly certain on one will read) for my family to function without me for five days.

Pray for us.

I haven't spent a whole lot of time in the kitchen since returning from vacation, but I can recommend:

- This taco soup. 

- This pork ragu. Always. 

Have a great weekend! <3

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Our First Disney Cruise

Hello and Happy Saturday!

We returned home on Thursday at 2 am from a 6 day cruise out of San Diego to Mexico. Our bags are mostly unpacked, the laundry is mostly done, and I mostly have my life together again (although the bar for that is quite low), so now I can document this great trip!

This is a long post and I know that only my mom will read to the end, but I wanted to get every detail down before I forget.

Months ago our friends Brad and Chessa mentioned they had booked their second Disney cruise after loving their first one and we couldn't ask to tag along fast enough. Their son Silo and their daughter Edie are good friends with Ina and Cora, so we knew the timing was perfect.

We waited until 10 days before we left to tell Ina and Cora, which was painful, but a smart decision, because they asked how long until we left approximately 10 times a day for 10 days. (You will quickly notice that Mira did not join us on this trip. The price of the cruise would have doubled to add a 5th person due to the cabin restrictions and she would not be allowed in kids club until she turned 3 years old. Although leaving her was a hard decision, I think it was the right one, as we could truly take advantage of everything this vacation had to offer. I also promised her I would take her to Paris when she turned 18.)

We left bright and early Friday morning for the airport. I had spent most of the night before looking for things I was convinced we needed and once again swore to clean out the girls' closets organized when I returned.

We breezily checked our bags and went through security and arrived at the gate minutes before they started boarding. We had the sweetest flight attendant who made the 3.5 hour flight fly by by making the girls "pink princess" drinks and even letting the kids watch a movie on her iPad. I love Southwest airlines.

Brad also packed us all breakfast burritos for the flight - what a guy!

The port in San Diego is right next to the airport, so after grabbing our bags and a 10 minute taxi ride, we were at the ship - 5 hours before our planned port arrival time. We decided that was more of a guideline and went through the process of boarding and checking our bags, going through security, and getting our room keys, but had to wait for about 3 hours to actually get on the ship. (Lesson learned - next time we will go grab some chips and salsa and wait for our actual port arrival time.)

When we boarded the ship they announced our name and the ship crew clapped for us. We remained absolutely spoiled for the next 5 days. After dropping off our bags, we headed to the lunch buffet and then explored the ship until we started leaving San Diego.

During the "Sail-a-wave" party, I noticed that my Facebook account was hacked and was trying to fix it. Dan was upset with me for being on my phone, which I understand, but I also didn't want people putting creepy things on my Facebook account, so we proceeded to fight about this for the next hour. I am mentioning this just to acknowledge that there are stressful moments in family vacations too.

That night we had dinner at Tiana's Place.

There was a live New Orleans style band with a huge bass and a saxophone. Tiana and Luis the alligator made their rounds as well. The spiced sea bass was absolutely amazing. After dinner everyone was exhausted from the day of travel and went to bed early, except for me and Chessa. We drank a cup of coffee with dessert and rallied to watch the first of three excellent Broadway quality shows the ship had to offer - The Golden Mickeys.

I woke up before my family most mornings on the ship and walked around Deck 4 while listening to my audiobook and watching the sunrise. When the kids woke up and were ready to eat we chose the restaurant style breakfast over the buffet - a much more relaxing way to start the day.

Cora was in heaven with unlimited bacon and Mickey waffles and I loved the made to order omelets and fruit bowls.

Day 2 was a "day at sea", so after breakfast we headed out to the pool deck to try out the slide and lounge chairs. The kids swam while watching movies on the giant screen above the pool, taking breaks only for ice cream and pizza.

At some points we took the kids to the Oceaneer Club, a closed off section of the ship stocked with video games, art activities, slides, movies, characters, and 50+ counselors fully prepared to entertain the children. Ina ran to make some sort of slime and Cora headed to Andy's room to go down the slide and the adults made a mad dash to the adult pool for some lounging and card playing.

After a forced nap we headed to dinner at Triton's place in our Halloween costumes for a Halloween Party and Trick or Treating after.

While waiting for Trick or Treating, we were hanging out in one of the lounges listening to live music when a man approached us and started doing AMAZING magic tricks with cards, coins, and rubber bands. Dan and I are still trying to figure out how he stuck a coin underneath my Fitbit.

After Trick or Treating we tried to hang for the Halloween party, but by this point it was 10:30 PM San Deigo time (12:30 AM our time), so we called it a night and went to bed.

We woke up the next morning docked in beautiful Cabo, Mexico. Before breakfast we were able to meet Hook and Smee (I accidentally deleted our family picture!)

and then Mickey in his Halloween costume

and lastly Cinderella. I think at first the girls didn't know what to think about the characters and were nervous to talk to them. I encouraged Ina to tell Mickey a joke and that seemed to break the ice.

Cinderella was particularly patient and lovely with the girls. Somehow their conservation went to the snake we have in our back yard and their sister who hits and bites and yells. Cinderella joked that Mira and her cat Lucifer would get along great.

We did the breakfast and swimming thing and after feeding the kids a hot dog we checked them into kids club and tindered off the ship to Cabo.

We didn't have a plan other than to walk around, which was unfortunately somewhat difficult due to all of the salespeople standing around asking if you want to buy something or go somewhere. I totally understand that this is how they make their money, but as a person who doesn't enjoy saying no, I was quickly uncomfortable. We found a place to relax, drink Micheladas and margaritas and hung around until it was time to get back on the ship and pick up the girls.

Funny story - Dan was talking to a friend we met on the ship about how someone in Cabo offered to sell him drugs. Ina, overhearing the conversation, piped up, "My mom makes GOOD drugs!"

Embarrassed, I tried to tell him I am a pharmacist who does research and by "good" drugs she meant drugs that do good things for people, like blood pressure medicine. I don't know if he bought it.

That night was pirate night on the ship, which had a special pirate themed dinner and then a pirate party on the deck after, which consisted of dancing, Captain Hook capturing the good guys, Pirate Mickey saving the day, and ended in fireworks over the ocean.

Also - this is how amazing a Disney cruise can be - in between dinner and the party we checked the kids into kids club so we could watch the Chiefs game at the sports bar.

We started Day 4 (another day at sea) off with breakfast and a princess gathering. Ina and Cora danced for Belle,

told Ariel about their pool and swim lessons,

and discussed exactly how Cinderella summons her fairy godmother. Cora was also so excited to show Cinderella her gloves, which she had accidentally forgotten the day before.

We swam for a bit (partook in the traveling bloody Mary cart)

and then headed to our favorite magician's magic show, where he wowed us with his "tiny plunger" trick.

We then watched the matinee showing of the live, Broadway version of Frozen, which was absolutely beyond amazing. Dan, who has been forced to watch the movie hundreds of times, was the first to give a standing ovation at the end.

Dinner was at Animator's Palate, which was my favorite restaurant on the ship. The walls are covered with screens that show the animation process of many characters, starting with blank canvas and ending with a full on shot from a movie.

After dinner we had a show and then our waiter Jose did a magic trick for the kids. I should say here that the wait staff was beyond amazing and so patient with the kids. They cut the kids' meat every night and brought them special requests that weren't on the menu. They showed them how to do origami and how to fold napkins. They brought them their favorite juice in the morning and Mickey ice cream bars every night.

Our room was also cleaned TWICE a day with cool blanket folding every night. Add that to 24/7 ice cream and real life will never be the same.

After dinner we checked the kids into kids club and played cards. When we were done I tried to pick them up, but Ina was playing an intense game that looked like dodge ball, but involved puff balls instead, so Cora and I left and just happened to run into Daisy.

After I changed Cora into her PJs we saw Minnie was out, and even though it was waaay past our bedtime I decided YOLO.

The last day the ship docked in Ensenada, but we mostly stayed on the ship, enjoying the slide, pool, and kids club counselors for one last day.

Cora fell asleep under the table during dinner, so she and Dan headed back to the room, while the rest of us saw the last, (still fantastic) Broadway show.

Ina read a whole book on the trip. When she wasn't reading, she was making friends with the lifeguards and learning all of the rules for the slide. She is a little like her mamma, in that relaxing is hard.

We disembarked the ship the last time at 8:30 AM and our flight didn't leave until 8:00 PM, so we made the last minute decision to head to the San Diego zoo where we really enjoyed some family time and soaked in the last day of our vacation.

What a fun trip! I am already looking at our next one.

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