Sunday, December 27, 2015

A Peek at Life Right Now

  • We recently returned from a family vacation to Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando. It was the first time at a Disney park for my kids. We went with my sister and her family and my parents. My sister got us a great deal on a condo for the week that was pretty centrally located. Despite uber sore feet each night (on my part), we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We stupidly, amateurishly packed too much into the week, going to a park per day, which ended up being way too much, and left no downtime for relaxing and enjoying each other's company. My poor dad came to Orlando on antibiotics for bacterial pneumonia, so I pushed him around the parks in a wheelchair. My niece also came to Orlando unknowingly with pneumonia, so she ended up on meds in a wheelchair too. We were sad when the week came to an end and we had to say goodbye.
  • We drove to Orlando, leaving our house at 11p.m. on the 10th of December and arriving in Orlando in time to pick up my parents from the Orland International Airport at four something the next afternoon. On the drive to Orlando, when it was my turn at the wheel, I listened to Chime by Franny Billingsley. Susan Duerden narrates fabulously. I've read it before but this is the first time listening to it. My kids and husband couldn't figure out what was going on and quickly went back to listening to their own things on their Kindles or sleeping, in the case of my husband. On the drive back a week later, Todd and I listened to half of Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham. Susanna listened to the first book of The Land of Stories by Chris Colfer at Karina's urging on the drive there, and On My Way and I'm Still Scared by Tomie dePaola (both part of the 26 Fairmount Avenue series) on the way back.  Karina listened to Summerkin by Sarah Prineas on the drive there and What a Year by Tomie dePaola (another 26 Fairmount Avenue book); on the way back. Olivia didn't listen to anything on the drive to Orlando, choosing instead to crochet. On the way back she listened to Tomie dePaola's I'm Still Scared because she couldn't remember it from when we read it aloud. (This series of books has been a favorite with all my girls. They make great read-alouds. The audiobooks make for fun listening too, because Tomie dePaola narrates most of them, and he is wonderful.)
  • I didn't get tons of reading done in Orlando, but I managed to complete one book: Ivory Ghosts by Caitlin  O'Connell. I appreciated the walk down memory lane, having spent four years in southern Africa, but I found the writing awkward and the story not especially compelling, though the subject matter is important. I've read O'Connell's compelling non-fiction books about her elephant research, and love them, but she seems uncomfortable as a fiction writer. That's not to say she can't/won't grow into it.
  • Olivia dropped her camera on the tile floor of the condo we were staying in in Orlando and it broke something inside. She was devastated, since she uses it all the time. When we got home, feeling she had nothing to lose, she opened up the casing to see if she could see where the problem was. She couldn't find anything broken, and on a whim, took a picture with the case open. The picture was normal. So she closed the case back up and the picture was bad again. She started to crack the case back open with the camera on, and as soon as she cracked one side, the picture on the display cleared up again. Long story short, she figured out that there is a wire that was jarred loose by the drop. Somehow she fixed it, and now her camera takes pictures as if never dropped. That's my clever girl.
  • Our dogs survived their week in the boarding kennel. The kids survived the separation too, though that was doubtful when we dropped the dogs off. Many silent tears were shed. Even by people who claimed to be relieved to be getting the break. The day we picked the dogs up, they saw us coming and got super excited. The staff provided us with a Santa picture in the out-processing paperwork when we paid the bill. Those perky heads mean there were treats involved.
    Wishbone is in front; Lego behind. Poor Santa thinking, "What the heck did I get myself into?!"
  • When we got the dogs home, they gamboled around in joy. They have developed colds, and are in turns more clingy and more standoffish than usual. Wishbone, who's quite the mama's boy, alternates leaning into me for extra loves and standing at a room's distance away from me, with his back to me, pretending to ignore me, but really looking at me out of the corner of his eye. He's gonna hate me for putting him back into the kennels in a few days when we go to Nashville. Lego just can't get enough love from everyone.
  • The girls were glad to get home, despite the fun they had in Orlando. The night we got home they disappeared into their rooms to their various activities: Susanna to her imaginary world with her posse of animal friends that she had to leave behind; Karina to clatter away on her typewriter, working on her spy novel; Olivia to crochet.
    Susanna's posse of friends: (L-R) Brisk, Ash, Katie, and Puppy.
    Brisk the stick horse and Ash the dragon are the ones she carries around all the time at home. Other friends join them occasionally.
  • For Todd's birthday, we went to see the long-anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It was good, but also kinda disappointing. It seemed to have many story elements of the original Star Wars movie, and there was a lot of backstory missing. 
  • Christmas was low-key. Back when we planned and arranged the trip, we told the girls that Orlando was their Christmas, which they were fine with. The girls put up our tree on the 21st, two days after we got home. (They are solely responsible for putting up the tree each year, which they love. Todd and I come to ooh and agh when they're finished.) We did get them three small presents each, 'though we skipped the stockings this year. Karina and Susanna got two small Lego sets and a field sketch watercolor set. Olivia got one small Lego set, the Star Wars crochet kit that she'd been pleading for and the field sketch watercolor set. I loathe wrapping paper both for it's wastefulness and for how time-consuming it is on the wrapping end of the timeline. I opted instead to stack their presents on the sofa in a separate pile for each girl, covering the stack with a colorful tea towel. On Christmas morning, I just had them stand in front of their prospective stacks and counted "one-two-three-GO," upon which they pulled the towel from off their stack. (It is a family tradition that the family goes to the Christmas tree all together on Christmas morning, no early looky-lous, after Mom has first turned on the tree lights and Christmas music.) They declared themselves thrilled with their haul and happily went off to start their various Lego or crochet projects while I made French Toast for breakfast.
The mandatory picture on the stairs before they're allowed to go to the tree.
We actually got decent smiles out of them this year!
  • Here is the Chewbacca figure that Olivia has started from her kit. She still has to complete his arms and other small details. You'll notice the arm in the picture is being held on by pins until she gets a chance to sew it on (hence the trailing brown yarn.) She creates the hairiness by brushing the finished body and arms with a wire slicker brush.