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Thursday, July 09, 2015

So-Cal Vacation!

Guess what! It’s July.  That’s stinkin’ nuts.  Tomorrow will be October and then the next day Matthew will be graduating from high school.  It just all goes way too fast!  But we’re doing our best enjoying every moment – especially of summer vacation! 

June 25th, we awoke at the butt-crack of dawn (no, really, 3:45am!!!) and – along with my brother and mother – headed to SeaTac Airport where we caught our plane to San Diego.  I started our vacation with an inhumanly horrendous sore throat and worries that I’d feel like dooty for our entire trip, however, miraculously said throat-pain-of-Satan only stuck around for a couple of days.  Thank goodness! 

On Friday, June 26th, we – all of us, along with Mike’s dad Jim who joined in (and eventually Mike’s sister Kathy) – went to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park.  Highlights: the bird show (seeing the ginormous California condors fly right over head!), riding the tram around the park (and feeling like you’re suddenly on the Savannah plains of Africa) and watching the cheetah sprint – reaching 60 miles per hour (0-40 in three steps alone!) and covering 100 meters in 5.24 seconds.  It was a hot but enjoyable day!  We went back to our hotel where Mom, Chris and the kids hung out and rested while Mike and I attended the first night of our Engaged Encounter Convention.

Saturday, June 27th – Mike dropped Mom, Chris and the kids off at SeaWorld for the day.  Now, my dear mother, had managed to hurt her leg just a couple of weeks pre-California departure and has been on a cane/crutch and in pain ever since.  With threats and bribes we stressed good behavior to the children.  I even said, “Pretend she’s not Grandma.  Just a nice lady who you are to help for the day.”  A Disneyland souvenir hung in the balance.  Kayli – apparently- repeatedly asked mom, “Am I on my best behavior?...Am I still being so good?”  Thankfully, threats and bribery are the key to parenthood and the kids were - supposedly, as far as we were informed -  well-behaved and they had a great time at SeaWorld.  

Meanwhile, Mike and I attended our Convention and that night partied at the Luau and Dance. Super fun!

Sunday, June 28th – we all attended Mass at the end of the Convention and then drove up to Anaheim.  The 1.5 hour long trip took 3.5 hours thanks to the infamous So-Cal traffic.  We managed to arrive at our hotel in time to drop stuff and then head to Bubba Gump for dinner with Mike’s sister, her hubby and cute grandson (who was Kayli’s age.  We were ALL happy that Kayli found a captive audience to whom she could talk through all of dinner).  We got to bed as early as we could for our big day at Disneyland.

Now, if you’ll recall, we went to Disneyland in February 2014.  It was a difficult trip.  Just 6 weeks after dad died, I was (obviously) miserable (and sick, since I was sick like 9 times in the first three months of 2014).  We also had a frustrating time at the Parks – tons of rides closed and several breaking down on us.  I wrote a letter, (“Dear Disneyland…”) and, in response, they gave us tickets to come back for two days!!

So, Monday, June 29th, we woke up early and I ran to the park (literally…started the hot day with a jog) and went to Guest Services to retrieve our tickets and then wheelchair rental to score a rolling seat for mom.  There’s no way we (she) could’ve done all that walking.  And, as I’ve heard, Disneyland is amazingly accommodating to those in wheelchairs.  We were able to cut a lot of lines.  (The boys were maybe a little TOO happy about it and even said, “Thanks for hurting your leg, Grandma, this is awesome!”  They even turned into whiney butts when we had to occasionally wait in a little bit of a line – NOTHING compared to the waiting we would’ve done without the wheelchair).

Disneyland got off to a bit of a rough start though.  The ride we’d most been looking forward to on the last trip (Thunder Mountain Railroad) had been closed, so we were determined to do that one first.  Well, it’d been a LONG time since I’d done that ride and didn’t entirely remember it.  Despite his hesitation, I encouraged my brother Chris to give it a go thinking it wouldn’t be TOO much.  BIG mistake.  He was NOT a fan (to say the least) and I felt awful.  Thankfully, he rallied fairly quickly and as Mike said, maybe if we hadn’t started with that (and gotten ‘the worst’ out of the way), Chris would’ve been more overwhelmed by everything else.  After that it was smooth sailing. 

We did Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion (which Zach sat out and Chris declared was his favorite ride), Jungle Cruise, Tiki Room, It’s a Small World, Finding Nemo, Star Tours, Buzz, etc., etc.  Basically, we got to do ALL the rides that we weren’t able to do last time and in record time!  In the evening, we found a great spot to watch the special 60th Diamond Anniversary night parade.  (Kayli screamed at Mickey like a psycho-super fan…when he was still a block away).  And we watched the spectacular fireworks display.  Seriously the best, most amazing fireworks I’ve ever seen.

We dragged our tired butts back to the hotel to bed….and did California Adventure the next day.

Tuesday, June 30th Overview: Started with the cars ride – Radiator Spring Racers - (Chris sat that one out. Mom LOVED it – we all did!).  Mike took Matthew on the rollercoaster California Screamin’.  Then he took Zach on the Tower of Terror (which terrorized Zach despite wanting to do it).  We all watched the Aladdin stage production (like a mini-Broadway show – it was awesome).  Kayli’s fatigue started to kick in and we dealt with a couple of required amusement park meltdowns.  We all loved Soarin’ Over California (Chris didn’t want to do that one…and we’d obviously learned not to push him).  Then in the afternoon, all of sudden, it clouded up and got really cool.  There were a couple of claps of thunder and then huge raindrops began to fall.  They closed rides and I was worried that we wouldn’t be able to enjoy our dinner at Ariel’s Grotto and special viewing for World of Color.  Thankfully, it all worked out – the crowds cleared out a bit, the sun came back out and we thoroughly enjoyed the rest of our evening and our last night at the Park.  We were even able to watch the fireworks again as we departed the park and went to return the wheelchair.

Wednesday, July 1st, my mom’s brother Phil (aka “Uncle Phuzzy”) and his wife Helen drove a couple of hours to see us at the hotel.  We played a game that Zachary had created called “Fantasy Storybook Fun” – you create a story using different cards that you draw from a pile.  Not to brag, just speaking the truth, but that kid is a creative genius.  We had a ton of fun!  We had lunch with them at the Cheesecake Factory before we began our 2 hour drive back to San Diego.

We’d almost made it.  We were nearly in the clear.  Off the freeway and just five minutes from returning the rental car when Zach said that thing that parents dread  hearing most (while in a car…or nearly anywhere), “I’m going to throw up!!”  I wasn’t able to get him a receptacle in time and he proceeded to fill the back of the van – cup holder and console area.  Oye.  Yup. 

As mom said, “Well, it’s not a family vacation without someone throwing up.”  Mike argued that that is NOT, in fact, a requirement of the Martin family…but alas, it’s a Buckley tradition (that I frequently upheld as a child) and that sometimes rears its ugly head.  


Despite the pukey end, we had a really, really great trip! J

On the way to the airport & family vacation - people are still happy! So far, so good.
 Getting up at 4am to fly to San Diego was a tad exhausting.
 Matthew working those famous shades of his!
 At the Safari Park



 3 Little Lemurs
 SeaWorld!


 Engaged Encounter Convention Luau

 We made it!!!














5th Grade Graduation

June 17th, 2015 - Our baby graduates elementary school!



 Matthew and his awesome 5th grade teacher, Mr. Laing.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Denying Change

I’m totally in denial.  I cannot believe that this is the last week of school.  A few more days and school’s out for summer! And I really can’t wrap my head around the fact that tomorrow – June 17th – Matthew will be graduating from elementary school – moving on to middle school.  This doesn’t even make sense.  Not even a little.  I joke that middle school was yesterday for me.  It really does feel like it wasn’t THAT long ago.  (Yes, I’m in denial).  But, really!  How is it possible that I’ll have a kiddo there?  The drama, the teen angst, school dances, the smelliness, lockers, the acne, the girls…the part that I’m dreading the most though?  The 6:42am school bus pick-up.  That’s just stupid.

Matthew seems ready for middle school.  He says he’s excited about it (but also totally dreading the early mornings).  He’s excited to have a little more freedom and time to himself.  (He’ll get a whole hour at home before Zach gets home from the bus).  He’s ready for the change.  But am I?!

He came down the other night while I was doing dishes in the kitchen and proudly said, “Mom, I’m becoming a man!”

“Uh, yeah?” I asked nervously.

“I have armpit hairs…like THREE!”

“Oh, really, let’s see ‘em.”

He raises his arm and Vanna White-gestures to said hairs.  (I’m not gonna lie, I didn’t actually look closely ‘cuz I didn’t REALLY want to see said armpit hairs).  In my best talking high pitched talking to a baby voice, I said, “Oh wook at those wittle hairs.  They’re so cute!”

With a perfectly executed eye roll, Matthew put down his arm and (trying not to grin because – for the record – he did think it was funny) 6th grade huffed on outta the room.

He’s ready.


I’m not.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

SPORTS!

Super relieved – Matthew has finally broken the curse.  He has started swinging the bat again.  AND not just swinging but making contact!   AND our little ‘Bad News Bears’ team has, at last, realized how to play ball (at least better, anyway).  They’ve finally gotten to feel that winning is a lot more fun, so, now that it’s the end of the season, they’re starting to do it!  We ended up very last place in our in league tournament.  But now we’ve won our first two games in the city tournament.  It makes games way more fun and yet, ridiculously more intense, too. 

One problem was quickly replaced with another though.  Now, that it’s tournament time, the rules become less strict (in terms of equal play-time).  Meaning – coaches can play their best players in the same positions and don’t have to rotate everyone around, etc.  Matthew spent 4 of 6 innings on the bench at the last game.  I understand where the coach is coming from – Matthew really hadn’t done a whole lot to prove himself through the majority of the season.  But it’s also a bummer since Matthew’s finally getting in to it and playing better. 

Yes, Mike and I are obviously the parents (and coaches) that want everyone to have equal play time.  Yes, I come from the good ‘ol (lazy) American philosophy of ‘everyone gets a trophy’.  And, like I said, I understand where our Coach is coming from at this point in the season.  It’s just sad that Matthew peaked late and is now devastated every time he’s benched.  Maybe that will push him to practice more before next year…

Although now he’s saying he wants to give ice hockey a try.

Ice. Hockey.  Kid has never been on a pair of skates in his life and has cried over a hangnail.  Plus, it’s one of the most expensive sports out there.  (At least we did just get Dental Insurance through Mike’s new job)!  

Meanwhile, I've been having Kayliana practice t-ball.  She's a natural.  Every time she hits the ball I yell, "Home run! You're amazing!" And make her run a small diamond. Now whenever anyone's discussing baseball she announces, "I'm AMAZING at baseball.  I only hit home runs."  Watch out!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Second Party!

And that makes two!  Yesterday, I got to do my 2nd Elsa appearance/birthday party.  This time, it was at a preschool in West Seattle – a Spanish immersion preschool.  (Sadly, this Elsa doesn’t habla espagnol…no one seemed to mind though).  When I started the whole princess party biz, I was picturing being in people’s homes with maybe 12 little kiddos at your standard birthday party.  Funny that my first two events have been much bigger than that – my debut was at an arena with 20ish kids plus parents (including beer-drinkin’ dads) and then yesterday was at a community center preschool with 30 kids, 5 teachers and all of the parents.  Sheesh!

A classmate of mine from high school had contacted me on Facebook to see if I could come.  Her daughter was one of three girls being celebrated for having a May Birthday.  (I had to refrain from telling the girls that I, too, have a May birthday…as I’m not sure when Elsa birthday is).  The students knew that I was coming and many of the girls had dressed appropriately in Frozen attire.  The teachers had even decorated the classroom!

While my first party’s attendees were chatty and full of all sorts of Frozen enthusiasm and the desire to interact with Elsa and tell me all sorts of information and hug me and admire my dress and my hair and my ice-power cold hands, yesterday’s party kiddos were the complete opposite.  (Granted, they were at school and not a sports arena where they’d been jumping in big bouncy houses).  Yesterday, the kids sat at my feet in complete shock and awe.  They were shy and tentative and most didn’t want to come get a picture with me at the end.  They sat there like Elsa is in my preschool. Mind. Blown.   After I did my few short snow songs, sang Let it Go and blew bubbles, they sat at tables for their snack.  I waited for kids to come up to have individual photos taken with me.  When one of the moms or teachers asked if they wanted to come see me, many of them vehemently shook their head but then coyly glanced at me and shyly smiled and waved every few minutes. 


One thing I’ve GOT to do is figure out my hair.  Despite having a wig cap on covering the majority of it and attempting to use temporary ‘platinum’ spray to lighten the edges, too much of it shows under the wig.  I’m like trashy Elsa who needs to get her roots touched up – like big time.  I’ve ordered one of those bald head wigs that will hopefully fit super tight like a swim cap.  Oh my gosh, it’ll look amazing! Ha!  But, ideally, it’ll cover the hair that the wig doesn’t.  We’ll see.  I know the kids don’t seem to care, but I don’t want the parents thinking they’ve hired lame dark-roots Elsa!  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

First one down!

I DID IT!!!! 

I did my first birthday party as Queen Elsa of Arendelle.  And for my first character appearance it was a real doozy – it was at an indoor sports complex/inflatable/bouncy house place.  Talk about being thrown into the deep end. 

The birthday girl is one of my students and her mom caught me after class on Monday (yep, just several days before the party) and inquired if there was any chance I was free to be Elsa.  This turned out to be a good thing because (rarely are we open on a Saturday) and it didn’t give me too much time to be stressed and freaking out about it.

I spent a good long while getting ready for the gig.  Kayliana got a little jealous of mommy’s costume and make-up so I did a bit for her too.  (She still wasn’t thrilled when I left without HER to go to this amazing sounding birthday party). 

I arrived in the parking lot with a few minutes to spare (which provided just enough time to readjust my wig and also get even more nervous and excited…and to question my sanity).  I texted the mom and she met me at the door.  (I was anxious about going into this huge complex, being lost Elsa and being potentially mobbed by children).  As I started walking toward Bday Mom, she said, “Wait! I’ve got to get pictures of Elsa walking across the parking lot!”  Uh, OK.  Not sure if I did the Elsa-walking-across-a-parking-lot walk correctly, but I did my best.

When you first enter the building, there are all these tables set-up along an indoor soccer field.  The tables were full of people.  A bunch of soccer games were happening.  It was a crowd.   I followed Bday Mom hearing “That’s Elsa” and “Is that Elsa?!” the whole way.

As we approached the inflatable toy area and party rooms, Bday Mom said, “Oh, Elsa, let me introduce you to my husband.”  I met Bday Husband and then Bday Mom said, “I gotta get a picture of you with the dads.”  Thus – my first photo op: Elsa and a bunch of beer-drinkin’ dads.  Kind of awesome. 

Next, I was escorted to our party room.  I set down my basket and was immediately swarmed by children (including the birthday girl and her sister.  I’ve had both girls in music class for a while…I really wondered if they’d buy my act).  They sure did.  The girls all immediately started asking questions  and telling me things.

“I love your sparkly dress…Your hair’s so pretty…Where’s Anna?” 

“She’s in Arendelle. Someone has to look after the kingdom while I’m here for Bday Girl’s special day!”

 “Do you have your ice power?”

“Well, of course I do!  Unfortunately I won’t be able to use it inside though.  I’m not allowed to make it snow.  Can you imagine the mess they’d have to clean up?! And these floors would get terribly slippery!”

Then, one of my students, looks at me and loudly says, “I know who you are! You’re the music teacher!”  There was a half second of silence as the kids all studied me carefully.

“Does your music teacher have long blond hair like mine?”

“No,” she says.

“Well, there ya go,” I say.

Another little girl asks, “Are you the REAL Elsa?”

“What do you think?” I ask her back.

“I don’t know,” she answers doubtfully.

“Do I look like Elsa?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Do I sound like Elsa?  I will, of course, be singing later too,” I say.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

Then one little girl reaches out and touches my hand.  She gasps and says, “Oh my gosh, you guys! Even her hands are super cold!”  (I honestly don’t think they were THAT cold, though I had just come in from outside).

They all immediately begin feeling my hands and, of course, not one of them wants to admit that they don’t think my hands are all that cold.

I take pictures with some of the kids and then Bday Mom ushers them out for their last 10 minutes of playtime while I set-up. 

I’m getting everything ready, when I hear, “We just wanted to come say hi,” behind me.

I turn around and see about half a girls’ soccer team standing there grinning.  I chat with them for a little bit.  (I point out that they look all hot and sweaty and, well, I prefer it cold.  One girl tells me not to try soccer then).

Eventually, all of the party kids are in our room, in their seats and being served pizza.  I mingle with a couple of the kids and wait for my cue to start.  Meanwhile, Bday Dad sidles up to me and says, “So, Frozen.  That was a big hit for Disney!”

“Yes,” I say, wondering if he’s making small-talk with me or Elsa.  “Disney’s even coming out with a Frozen 2.”

“That’s great.  Congratulations! You must be super excited!” 

I’m waiting for him to ask, “So, do you play a big part in the sequel?” and decide it’s time to get this show on the road.

 I get the kids’ attention and we sing a few short snow songs.  Between each song, the kids like to tell me things like “You hit your sister with your ice power and she got hurt.”  I respond with obvious remorse and gratitude that she’s OK.  Then another child will replay an entire scene from the movie and I’d say, “Yes, true story,” or “You’re exactly right.  That IS what happened to us!”

Eventually they serve cake (we sing Happy Birthday) and then I invite Bday Girl to come up to sing “Let it Go” with me. 

This was the moment I was MOST nervous about.  “Let it Go” is a monster epic ballad.  It’s right on my break.  It’s a challenging song for me on a good day and I’d – no shocker – come down with a cold two days before the party.  (NOT awesome).  Of course, we know, that the cold never bothered me anyway….BUT I was really nervous for singing it.  I’m (humbly) happy to say that (in my ever so humble opinion), I think I rocked it.  It went REALLY well.  One little 3 year old boy, Ethan, came up and stood next to me while I sang it – just gazing at me with such love and admiration.  It. Was. Awesome.  There were about 20 kids plus parents (and many of them took video) – so I’m hoping that Bday Mom will get me some of the pics and video.

I finished the event by blowing bubbles for them (SO not as cool as making it snow inside, but the kids seemed happy with the bubbles).  And then, finally, it was time for me to go.  After a last few photos, I said goodbye to the Bday Girl and all the kids and left the party room.  As I was approaching the exit, the two teenage boys sitting at the front desk said, “Elsa! Bye Elsa!”  Quietly (so only they could hear) I said, “Peace out, boys.”  It caught them totally off guard, and I could hear them laughing as I got close to the door.

Just as I was about to exit, a little girl – about 6 years old – was walking in with her parents.  She glanced up at me and her jaw nearly hit the floor.  I smiled and waved at her.  She waved back at me, still obviously in total shock.  Mind. Blown.

I got in my car, drove down the street a ways, pulled off into a shady spot and removed my wig and wig cap and felt SO incredibly relieved.  If I can handle that scene; I got this!

With my mini-Elsa

 Ready to rock...let's do this thing!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Little League is upon us

Baseball season is in full swing (slight pun intended).  Unfortunately, we’ve gotten off to a bit of a rough start for Matthew this year.  We think he sprained his wrist a while ago.   (Or he at least somehow tweaked it  – just did a ‘lil something to his right hand/wrist).  So that certainly hasn’t helped.  We’ve wrapped and iced it off and on, but we probably just need to take him in and have it looked at as it doesn’t seem to be getting a whole lot better.

We thought things actually started off great.  At game #1, Matthew was the very first batter of the entire season!  First pitch, he made contact with the ball (though hit it close to the pitcher who was able to snag it and get Matthew out at first).  Later that game, Matthew walked and then proceeded to steal 2nd, 3rd and then home too!  I gotta say (totally braggy-pants for a second); Matthew IS a smart, solid base runner…when he gets on base.  That’s where the roughness comes in.  Since that very first at-bat, Matthew has yet to get a hit.  We’re talking five games now of either striking out or walking.  What’s so frustrating is that his swing looks fantastic – like better than ever – but his timing has gotten completely wonky when he even swings.  And that’s the other problem.  This is kid pitch, people.  You can’t be that picky waiting for a perfect pitch as they don’t happen all the time.  We’ve also go kid-ish umps (teenagers) who are also learning the ropes.  They don’t call perfect games, but, for the most part, they do a pretty darn good job.  But Matthew’s just standing there watching decent pitches go by.  I’m not sure what’s going on, but we’re all getting frustrated. 

All Mike and I can do is encourage him (to swing the stinkin’ bat)!!  But I’m praying – PA-RAYING – that things start looking up or it’s going to be a.) a long season and b.) probably his last (since we had to strongly encourage him to play one more – with this different league). 

The different league that we switched to is fantastic though!  I wish we’d made the move years ago.  They have so many rules in place that don’t allow for all the drama, politics, and crap that we had to deal with through our smaller local league.  We definitely miss some of the families and Matthew getting to be on the same team with classmates, but so far everyone at the new league is great.  If only our kiddo were playing better.  Look, we all know it’s about having fun.  Totally true.  But we also know that it’s really hard to have fun when you’re just having a rough go of it. 


So, while I know there are way bigger issues out there – WAY more important things for God to be dealing with – I’ve selfishly begun praying for Matthew’s baseball playing skills.  And I miss being able to vent to my dad about Little League season.  Sure, I can still ‘talk’ to him about it, but it’s just not the same.  At all.

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Easter 2015

Happy Easter!  We had a really nice Easter weekend.  Matthew and I attended the Easter Vigil on Saturday night.  One of his best school buddies Owen (along with his two little sisters and their mom) got baptized!  It was such a beautiful service and so special to be there.

Mike, Zach and Kayliana went to Mass on Sunday and then we all headed to my brother Timothy’s and his wife Rebecca’s house for Easter goodness – a hunt and delicious food.  I’m just disappointed we didn’t get pictures of everyone!