Tag Archives: family

Now.

13925349_10154008702583860_4145260599955505736_nMy kids started school two months ago. As per usual, they surprise me. I figured my little guy would mostly sail into kindergarten but it’s been a really hard adjustment for him. The long days are tough (8:15am – 2:45pm) but mostly he misses me terribly. The first month, he cried almost every day in class. I tried to make it better by joining him for lunch one day but it only made things worse. No fun for anyone, I’m afraid. We had long talks, mega snuggles, and once he was familiar with the extensive routine, he  settled down a lot. At first, they were covering shapes, but now they’re onto numbers. He’s a numbers kid, has always loved them, so this makes him happy and he now really likes his teacher.

I expected my daughter to push back some with a new teacher, since she adored her teacher last year, but she’s settled really, really well. Her new teacher is very light on homework which is in stark contrast to last’s year’s hell. This makes us all happy. There’s a calmness in her classroom, a peaceful atmosphere which I truly appreciate. I love her teacher something fierce. She understands that school is for school and home is for play/family/relaxation and not grinding out ridiculous hours of homework (can you tell I’m traumatized from last year??).

Me? I’m stupidly happy. I’m frigging Mary Poppins happy. Now that I actually have time to myself, my nerve endings have had time to repair themselves. I can breathe, eat, go to the bathroom, all at a leisurely pace. I have immersed myself back into my writing & drawing and it’s great to have the time to devote to that. I can pop over to the grocery store and it takes 10 minutes rather than two hours after a NATO negotiation. I feel awesome. I do actually miss my kids when they are at school. I find myself going to the carpool line a little early so that I’m somehow in the first set of 20’ish cars for pickup. I love picking them up and chatting to them about their days.

The most extraordinary thing happened once they started school – they’ve now become best buddies. They’ve been at each other’s throats for two solid years. I could frequently be found curled up under the couch, rocking back and forth, for the arguments that went on between them. But from day 1 of school, suddenly a new tolerance, nay, a new enjoyment, of each other surfaced. I then realized something that I’d completely not seen. The anger and frustration my daughter had towards her brother was a direct result of her going to school and he got to stay home with me. Even when he did VPK last year, it was only 3 hours a day, and then he was still home with me.  I had never factored in that she would be jealous of him for that. But apparently she was. Now, they’re both in the same boat. They are dropped off to school together, their classrooms are just across the hall from one another. Both have homework now, both have uniforms now (love those!) – there’s nothing for her to be jealous of or feel slighted from.

I figured the peace would only last a day or two but they’re still going strong, joining forces to play games or read to one another. It all feels so very surreal but I’m loving the hell out of it. The harmony has made me a much nicer and more patient mother too. The most significant thing for me is I have to the time to stop and look around. Stop and enjoy. Stop and appreciate. I find myself living more in the now than I ever have before. I listen to the laughter of my children and it sounds like music. I see them cooperating and I am grateful for all those years of struggling to stay sane because they now have each other. I snuggle my boy in bed every night, stroking his face, his hair, his back, and look down at the marvel of a little human being he is. I recognize very strongly that he’ll be all grown up in 10 minutes, and he’ll tower over me. So I try to gaze at his tiny, round face and kiss the heck out of it. I tell him how much I love snuggles, and in that contented moment, he murmurs back, “I love snuggles too, it’s my favorite thing,” or “I love you too, Mommy.” It just doesn’t get better than that.

My daughter is entering a new phase of life, more aware of things around her and her feelings. We talk about people, reactions, how she’s feeling. She told me the other day while we were driving home that she has a boyfriend. He’s a lovely boy from her school. Before I crashed the car, I had the foresight to ask her had she told this boy he was her boyfriend and she said no. 🙂  All that is coming down the line, like a train blaring. I hear it off in the distance and know eventually, it will catch up to me. I will deal with that then. For now, I glow in this morning’s conversation on the way to school where she told me her fairy, Pearl, sits on her ear and whispers to her. That Pearl loves PE because it’s like a roller coaster to her. Her eyes light up that her fairy watches over her, and because we have four fairy doors in the house, she told me this morning that she’d witnessed a meeting of the four fairies. I guess someone in school told her fairies don’t exist but she informed me this morning that those people can’t see the fairies because they don’t believe. Only people who believe in them can see them. She turns 8 next week, inching ever so close to exiting that precious child stage but I feel so much more ready for whatever is coming.

I will lap up that innocence now. I recognize my appreciation of their amazing selves now and I’m grateful I can live it. I look in awe at those tiny, wonderful humans now.

I’m happy now.

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MTHFR!!! (No, I’m not cursing)

Several weeks ago, I noticed my 7-year old acting a little out of character. Forgetting things easily, strange sentences coming out of her mouth, exhausted. Most of it, I put down to school – at this point, she’s trudged through almost all of 1st grade and is tackling schedules and workloads that rival a 12-yr old just a decade ago. When I asked her how a test was one day, she told me it was terrible “because the windows of my brain were open and I couldn’t remember anything.” It was the oddest thing. There were enough weird things going on for a few weeks that my husband and I began talking about it, and on a whim, I emailed her teacher to see if she’d noticed anything. She responded with gratitude that I had contacted her because she’d become quite worried about my girl, that my daughter was extremely low on motivation and seemed to have “checked out” of school.

Sleep was the first item on our agenda. Making sure she was well rested. A few days later, as Spring Break began, I took her to the doc because my next line of questioning would be to check if there was any nutritional deficiency. After all, fruits were relegated to the horror house several years ago and it’s only lately that vegetables have reappeared on her horizon. There, her pediatrician asked me if I was interesting in getting some genetic testing done, specifically, to check the MTHFR gene.  What? As I learned, the MTHFR gene is responsible for the absorption of folic acid in the body and not only is this critical to just about everything, any gene mutation can cause the absorption of regular folic acid to be a very bad idea!  Currently, over 40 point mutations of this gene have been identified. Of these mutations, C677T and A1298C seem to have the most clinical significance, and a defect in these genes can lead to abnormal hormonal metabolism, higher rates of breast cancer, prostate cancer, heart disease, dementia, migranes, miscarriages, difficulty getting pregnant, and abnormal production of the dopamine neurotransmitter. It can also increase the risk of developing ADD/ADHD.

Guess what? My girl has one mutation of C677T. It’s not a difficult or hard-pressing reveal. The treatment is lifelong but simple. It’s also quite common. Up to 60% of the general population has some form of mutation.  She now cannot take any unnatural form of folic acid and must supplement with the correct form of folate. Methylfolate to be precise, and needs to avoid any artificial folic acid. That could bring me onto another tangent of all the crap that’s added into our foods these days, but specifically, she now must avoid anything “fortified” (e.g. pasta, breads, most cereals, etc) as it will do the opposite of what you’d think it would do. I find it stunning how something so simple can be so wide-reaching, and it really does have me wondering if this is the cause of her mental malaise. This gene discovery is recent in scientific circles (within the past decade) but we are learning more and more how vital it is.

I’m actually dying to get this genetic testing done myself. My daughter can’t have the gene mutation without it coming from either/or my husband and I. So one of us has it. So for now, new vitamins are on the way and hopefully my girl will get back to being herself.

Extra info can be found here:

 

Leaving the Mental Hospital.

12631297_10153509880098860_2696837959808520265_nIt feels like there’s a shift in the tide. My 7-year old paroled mental patient has officially been discharged. It’s fascinating watching her as she’s changing so much, both physically and mentally. She lost her first three teeth within the last month. She tells me while she’s flossing that it’s harder to get in between some teeth now, and I know it’s because her teeth are shifting now that her adult teeth will make an appearance soon.  And then there’s the emotional change. I can’t label it a personality change because she’s still the same dynamo she’s always been since 12 months old, but she’s calmer. She knows she can ask questions and even understand the answers. She appreciates things more, there’s less of the psychotic preschooler, and now she is leaning towards a logical human being who has learned so much.

It’s awesome. It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy sharing humor with her, she understands my sarcasm so much more now. One day when she was coming home from school, we were talking about something and she said “oh I’m so stupid!” and I had an immediate mental panic attack – how will I reverse this? What gave her that ridiculous notion? She’ll absorb this for life! AAAGGHHH! I told her she wasn’t stupid at all, and that she is incredibly smart. I gave it little credit (not to feed any negative attention) but the next (and last) time she said that to me, she said the exact same thing in the car, it went like this:

Lilly; “I’m so stupid.”
Me: “I have wings.”
Lilly (utter confusion): “WHAT?!?!?”
Me (very seriously): “I have wings.”
Lilly (baffled) ” . . . ”
Me: “Lilly, you saying you are stupid is as true as me saying I have wings. Do you see wings on me? No? There you go.”

With that, the conversation was shut down and she cracked up laughing. I didn’t need to do a whole reinforcement thing. I didn’t need to delicately tackle a ticking bomb. I knew it was ridiculous moment where she was probably just tired and needed a break. It didn’t need a UN intervention. I love that I can speak with her this way. I’ve learned to diffuse her temper with humor. She can still have her moments, as we all do, but I can usually eliminate them immediately with some odd comment or dry humor. She can’t help herself as she’ll smile or laugh begrudgingly, because she knows exactly what I’m doing, and it’s almost as if she knows I’m not going head-to-head with her so she’ll ratchet everything down 20 notches and just talk to me about whatever it is that’s frustrating her.

c4a50d9c-13e2-4697-a7ef-6ba404a13bb7Last night, as she was getting ready for bed, she told me that she seriously loves me. That’s big words from her. She can do I love you quite frequently now, but when she added in her “seriously” into it, I knew that it meant that at that moment, she utterly, from the bottom of her heart, her gut, her toes, was telling me she loved me to death. Oh what a feeling. This magnificent creature that came from me, whom is entirely a part of me and will be for the rest of my lifetime, was reciprocating what I’ve been feeling for her since her first breath. I’m keeping all her notes of love. I know this is a fleeting time and soon enough, she’ll been a tween wanting nothing to do with me so I’ll take all I can get now. This morning as I woke her for school, she was wearing a fluffy pair of jammies and once I saw that she was awake (but pretending to be asleep), I climbed on top of her, laughing that I’d found the cuddliest new teddy bear and was keeping it forever. She was practically purring with joy.

I love this.  I love her. My word, how she has stolen my heart and soul. Note to other mothers, if you’re not feeling all gooey inside about your child, don’t worry. I’ve had plenty of those days too. So cut yourself some slack. Good things are on the way.

My 4-year old escaped mental patient is making progress. He’s a little ways away from being paroled but he’s doing better. Still plenty of non-logical out bursts or demands that will never be met, but he’s still four years old so he’s got a way to go yet. However, he’s still the cutest little psychotic bundle you’ve ever seen. When he bounces his naked butt around the house because at that moment, he’s “vanilla bunny the boy,” I can’t help but smile wide.

Life is good.

Back to School and Alcohol.

I know I’m not alone here. I just know it.

It’s back to school week after Christmas break. The kids relaxed for a full two weeks, even my 7-yr old began sleeping in. I could see that she needed the break badly. By the last week of school she was d.o.n.e!!! So she loved every minute of the break and then headed back to school. She’ll still declare that she loves her school however there was a definite shift from enjoying Christmas vacation to not wanting to go back to school. And so began hell week. You may think I’m kidding. I’m not. From the moment of every pickup, she’s been a tornado of anger and frustration. If I didn’t know any better, I’d downgrade her back to an escaped mental patient but I know what’s going on so I handle it differently (and much more calmly, I proudly add).  However the schedule of the week was different for me.

Monday: I know she’s tired. I dragged her out of bed. A full day of school. She’s pissed. We’ll get through this.
Tuesday: OK, I know she’s tired, she doesn’t want to do homework, but dear Jesus, this attitude better change.
Wednesday: OMFG, I’m going to kill her. I keep it together (mostly) as she drags out homework over the course of two hours simply because she just doesn’t want to do it. As soon as she goes to bed, I make Baileys & decaf tea. Yes, that feels good!
Thursday: It’s the exorcist. It’s reincarnated and that’s just on the car ride home. Upon entering the house, she bee-lines for Legos and I pop open a Strawberry Ale. It’s only 4.30pm but I figure this might be her best chance at staying alive.
Friday: I don’t know yet but I’m scared. I may have an IV of alcohol attached to me during the carpool lane. At the very least, when I get home from picking her up, it’s PARTY time!! Ice cream for all and beers for Momma!

I remember this struggle the first week of the school year. The mega adjustment is hard to cope with for the little ones and she specifically takes it out on me because I’m her safe place. I get it. But as I bob and weave my way through the house looking for hiding places, praying for it to be bedtime, I can’t help but wish this week were over.

I swear to you, alcohol sales must spike more after Christmas than during it because I’ve decided that that’s the only way I’m getting through this. Am I alone? Oh I bet not!!!!

Excuse me while I pop open #2.

 

What Do I Expect from Elementary School? Not this.

Love this piece. “The children that I get off of the bus are exhausted. They are frustrated. They are over worked. They are burned out. I feel as if I should make them a weak whiskey on the rocks, hand them their pipe and slippers, and leave them alone for an hour to decompress.”

Summertime Funtime!!!

Kerry
Stunning Kerry, Ireland.

Kindergarten ended and we didn’t have a chance to be bored as two days later, I took the kids back to the motherland for a month. I rented a car and we went all over the country (at least the lower half). It was an experience that I am so so so happy they had. It was such a cultural difference from their norm. They got to meet so much family and made new friends. They survived roaming multi-hour car rides without the DVD player or iPad in sight. They watched out the window for different flowers, far reaching mountains, wild sheep, cows, and horses scattered all over the land.  We climbed to the top of (little) mountains – OK, mere hikes, but to a four-year-old, it was a mountain. We hopped over streams. We stared at beautiful landscapes. flower crownWe ran barefoot over the softest, greenest grass ever. They played hide & seek in forests. We made daisy & dandelion chains that then turned into flower crowns. Things that I remember doing as a child that neither of mine have ever experienced before. It made me very grateful that I could bring them there, open up their world to such new joys. Before one trip to Kerry, I stopped at the local shop, picked up a loaf of bread, some sliced ham, water, cheese, and a few snacks. Hours later, when hungry, we just pulled up a boreen, climbed some rocks, and had a picnic in the Irish countryside wilderness.

IrelandIt dawned on me several times that little things I take for granted that they would know about are completely foreign to them. My 6-year-old former mental patient (she’s been upgraded from paroled mental patient) was rendered speechless on our drive to Dublin when she spotted something on the road, attached to the back of a car, with a horse’s ass visible from the back. It was then I had to explain what a horse box was and how horses are moved long distances. I could practically see her brain whirring.  I brought them to Mitchelstown caves where her brain again exploded because she was walking underground and looking at the shapes made by thousands of years of nature. It was the same cave tour I took when I was a young child on a field trip from school.  She learned new phrases. The look on her face was priceless when a cousin asked her if she was telling “porkie pies.”

blarney castleWe hit more tourist spots, such as Blarney Castle where she climbed all the way to the top only to be denied the opportunity to kiss the stone because I wasn’t with her (her older cousin was) and they needed parental consent at the top!! We took a boat to Garnish Island in Kerry and watched baby seals resting on the rocks. We caught up with family and were so busy having fun that we didn’t even get to do a Pajama Day (which they really, really needed) until week 3. We spent a weekend in Dublin where we explored Dublin zoo (it’s awesome, btw). At a dear friend’s house, my girl was introduced to a Jack Russell terrier puppy and thus began the love affair with terriers.

I hope to be able to take them on this trip every year. I want consistency in cultural exposure. It wasn’t until three days before leaving that we didn’t have anything to do. Nothing planned. I had wracked up 2,000km on the road over the month and we were all exhausted. It was right about this time that my four-year-old mental patient turned into the exorcist. I think it was a combination of tiredness and my grave mistake of telling him we were leaving Ireland in a few days. Such a horror was he that I’m surprised my Dad even slowed the car down when he was dropping us at the airport to leave.

KatieWe made the long trek back across the Atlantic and I marvelled at the exorcist’s tiny little voice asking me if we were in space yet. Upon discussion with my husband about the little dog she met, we decided that we would casually look for a terrier dog, but I had strict directives on what was and was not acceptable. It needed to be a rescue dog. I didn’t want a puppy. It needed to be house trained. Last year, we had to say goodbye to our little chihuahua of 10 years, Alfie, and my daughter has been talking about a replacement ever since. Our other dog, Trillian, is in heart failure and it’s amazing she’s lasted this long. She’s on three different medications to keep her going but even so, I don’t think the time will be much longer to when we’ll have to say another goodbye.

Less than 24hr hours after landing back in the United States, I see a listing for a little terrier/chihuahua mix. Because she’s a rescue, time is of the essence and we ended up bringing Katie home less than 48 hours after we had returned. It turns out that the house training we were assured of isn’t as solid as we had hoped, but she’s a super loving dog, very patient and loves cuddling. My daughter finally gets a dog to snuggle with her in bed. I have to confess, I love the little thing already.

So six weeks into summer, I’ve only now had the time to sit down and say hello to you! Next week, I take my 6-year-old on our annual “girls with girls” weekend, where it’s just the two of us and the boys stay home. School starts in 5 weeks (eeekkk!!!) and the exorcist will begin preschool. For three hours every day, I’ll be on my own in the house. This. Is. Huge!!!! I’m delving into a new career adventure which I’ll talk about another time so I’m excited to get some alone time to work uninterrupted on it. Fingers crossed.

Hope you are having a good summer.  <3

 

The Precious Age

1000228_10151612210048860_473410485_nWe moved house 2.5 years ago. My daughter had just turned four the month before. My son was 20 months old.  He had been sick from months 6-14, and I called him my Velcro Baby. He couldn’t be out of my arms. Ever. When we moved house, it freaked him out and it was a solid 6 weeks before I could even walk out of a room without him freaking out. It’s all ages and stages, all phases that we pass through. I remember meeting my new neighbors. Kids hanging off me, explaining I’m a stay-at-home-mom. They always asked how old the kids were and always responded with “aww, such a precious age.” I’d look at them like they were insane. WTF was so precious, can you tell me? I still didn’t get to shower on any regular basis. Had 27lbs permanently attached me to me along with a four-year-old hurricane that went to battle with me at every turn.

Precious my ass.

I usually responded with my oblivious, socially unaware bluntness and got the shocked stares in response. Oh well.

But now, things are different. My velcro baby has essentially flown the nest and couldn’t care less where I am. My six-year-old has now realized that she’s her brother’s equal (in my  eyes) and I am able to devote time directly to her without a sick baby attached to me. I can kiss her goodnight and whisper in her ear that I’m so lucky I get to be her Mommy, that I’m so lucky I get to be with her every day and see that smile that lights up a room. I watched her purr in response, squeezing me tight and I know I’ve just given her the warmest, squishy feeling she adores.

Yesterday, my escaped mental patient (who just turned four, by the way) took a rare nap in the afternoon. As per my usual routine, I enter their bedroom before I go to bed to kiss each one on the cheek. Last night, the boy was still awake even though it was 9:30pm. “Mommy, is it morning?” he whispers. “No darling, Mommy is just going to bed.” But I first smother his face with kisses. I look at that perfect face and feel his little arms and hands wrap around my neck just so he can hold me.  I begin to tell him how lucky I am to be his Mommy and how much I love him. I hear back how much he loves me, and he means it. Because small kids don’t like or say things because they’re supposed to. They only say it when they mean it. And it hits me how precious this age is, including my 6-year-old hurricane’s age.

There’s a possibility that when she turns 7, I’ll have a slight mental breakdown. Seven just seems so old to me. Ridiculous, I know but seven is so much closer to a teenager than the small years that have just flown by. I get to sleep through the night now and can enjoy my kids more. I can appreciate them more. So yes, this is a precious age. Six and four are as precious as can be. Just don’t be alarmed if someone looks at you like you’re the devil when you say that to them because they have absolutely no idea what it’s like at that very moment for you, and don’t feel bad if you don’t immediately agree with them.  My first go-round with four was so rough. The second time, I’m able to stand back and realize how awesome this age is. I currently don’t have an emotionally clingy baby attached to me and he’s not sick anymore. I’m able to stand back and can now say that “yes, yes this is a precious age.”

Now. If only time would stand still.

Norwegian Nick Jr Cruise (A review)

IMG_0035I was lucky enough to do a 7-day cruise last week. It was the first real family vacation my husband and I have had with the kids and what better than to do it with a Nick Jr cruise. I admit our expectations were high going in. Hubby and I did a 4-day Carnival cruise on our own last summer. Carnival has the reputation for being the lowest of the budget cruises and not being good at all. We however had a fantastic time that weekend. No kids (this was a major factor) but we knew everything else was going to be average. Our first ever cruise was on Celebrity before we got married and boy, there’s where you are treated like a king and queen forever. So when it came to a Nick Jr cruise, I had high expectations. Not Celebrity high, but high enough that a major network would affiliate itself to it.  Unfortunately, we had one or two hiccups (meaning LOTS) on board. We embarked the Norwegian Epic Sunday afternoon and by Thursday, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut any longer and marched myself down to guest services. There weren’t huge things going wrong, just minor little things that kept adding up to a crappy cruise experience.

Without writing a 5,000 word essay on the experience, I’ll simply give you the pros and cons.

Pros:
IMG_0021– Splash Academy where you can drop off your kids to get some free time. These people rocked. The kids loved it there (I was shocked). Every night had a new theme and toward the end of the cruise, I’d try to pick up the kids and they’d ask to stay longer.
– There is a good variety of restaurants on board (see below though).
– You’re cruising through the Caribbean with that gorgeous view around you. What’s not to love.
– Norwegian try to be very eco-friendly, so your key-card turns on the lights. Therefore, when you leave your cabin, you can’t leave all the lights on.
– The engineer arrived very quickly (see note below)
– Thursday, there were four cruise ships docked in the Grand Caymen Islands. So we elected to stay on board. Then we had a great time. No problem getting seats, quiet pool area, so much more relaxing. So that’s your tip, when you are in port, that’s the best time to be on the ship.
– The Ultimate Beverage Package. It’s pricey but you’ll need the alcohol to get through the cruise!! And it is unlimited. You may order a tasty cocktail for yourself as many times as you want. The only restriction is that you order one at a time. Fair enough.
– They are obsessed with hygiene. Before entering the cafeteria or buffet line, you are mandated to sanitize your hands. This involves a woman with a squirt bottle, giving Disney a run for their money by over joyously saying “Washy-washy!!!!”

Cons:
– We boarded Sunday afternoon and weren’t even so much as handed a map of this enormous ship. So we had no idea where we were, what deck we’d even walked onto or where our cabin was.
– The light switches in the cabin were less than intuitive (and really, how hard can this be). In trying to turn off the vanity lights Sunday night, my husband wondered if it was a touch light since there wasn’t a switch in sight. The bulb was so scalding hot that he badly burned his finger and had a huge blister on it the next day. So much for eco-friendliness. To show me how hot it was, he wet a face cloth and placed it over the bulb. The singe was very audible.
– Monday at sea. By 9am, every single chair on deck was “taken.”
– The layout of the ship was the most confusing thing ever. And obviously no thought went into the pool or splash pad because there were very large structures in between the kids pool and the toddler splash pad. That meant we couldn’t see either area at the same time without sitting in one of two very specific spots on the deck. To that end, while watching my 6-year-old, the 3-yr old wandered off and got lost. Yeah, that felt great.
– We went back to our cabin Monday afternoon only to find our key card didn’t work. We called for someone to come help us and it took a full 30 minutes before someone arrived. The Engineer arrived very quickly, took apart the lock and discovered that someone had placed a dime into our key card slot. Well thanks very much.
– We wandered to Spice H20 (adult only area during the day) to check out how to get some quiet time. Insanely, we were greeted with an amphitheater that had a huuuuuuuge screen on the very back of the ship. So in the adult area, you couldn’t even see the ocean thanks to that monstrosity and then you were bombarded with noise. With two days left on the cruise, we discovered a “quiet area” on deck 16 which would be great except it had nothing on it. No shade, no comforts, nothing.
– The family pool area was fairly small and the cruise line insisted on blasting music from 10am-6:30pm. When I say ‘blasting’, I mean a 747 would’ve made less noise. By the time Tuesday morning came around, none of us (including the kids) could stand it anymore.
– Monday night in The Manhattan Restaurant, I had French onion soup which was the worst thing I’ve ever tasted. Followed by the most bland linguine with clams. If I say it’s bland, then imagine this – black pepper is too spicy for me. If I consider something bland, it has to be completely tasteless. Our waiter said we should talk to some dude who took notes of our issues and that was it.
– Tuesday night, we wanted to try something different for food. We discovered that most of the restaurants there actually had a cover charge (ranging from $15-$30 per person), except maybe 4 of them. Oh, two of those four without a cover charge serve exactly the same menu every night. So while there is a good variety of restaurants on board, to experience them you have to pay an additional cover charge and/or pay a la carte. WTF!  In our quest for a different experience, we went to Taste which is where we found out that it had exactly the same menu as Manhattan. Just a little more laid back atmosphere. Unfortunately, it was so laid back that the waiter took our kids’ orders and we never saw him again. The food for the children was delivered and our order had yet to be taken. Then it was like hunting for Big Foot to try to get out orders in and get the hell out of the restaurant.
– It was in Taste that night that my poor mother-in-law began questioning why there seemed to be a lack of vegetables in all the meals.  In a quest for healthier food, she ordered a “Garden Spring Lettuce Mix” and underneath it was written “Crunchy Garden Vegetables | Chives.” Her plate arrive and she searched in vain for some vegetables. She asked the waiter where were the vegetables and he looked at her as if she was nuts, because the three slices of onion on top of the lettuce was supposed to pass for “crunchy vegetables.” No chives by the way either.
– We had brought two glasses of water and a mimosa to our room Sunday night. Tuesday night, the empty, used glasses were still left there.
– When at any of the restaurants, the kids are handed a kids’ menu. Superb. On the back of the kids’ menu is a coloring page. Excellent. However, none of the restaurants carried crayons. Seriously. For real. They didn’t carry crayons or even a pencil (my husband had been searching for one since he’d set foot on the boat). Why the flying f*&k do they give kids a coloring page without anything to color with?????????
– There isn’t any hair conditioner in the cabin. This sounds silly, it’s only shampoo. When both females in the cabin have long hair, and one of them is a child, the results are painful. When I complained about this, the manager tried to tell me it was a shampoo/conditioner combo. But it’s not. It’s labelled “Shampoo” and even my husband with short hair could tell me there was zero conditioner in there.
– My three-year old’s aim for the toilet isn’t the best. By the end of the week, our cabin bathroom reeked which told me that the staff don’t clean that area at all.
– I’m not sure if I’ve just got high expectations or what, but when the cabin staff were making the beds, they would simply throw all the pajamas into a pile on the stool in front of the vanity desk.
– Thursday, when everyone else was off the ship, we got those “special” seats from where we could watch the pool and toddler splash pad. But the pool was close for “maintenance.” Despite being assured that it would be open at 10am, at 11.45am, I was ready to explode. That’s when I just couldn’t take it anymore and marched down to guest services.
– Thursday night, we were approached by the Maitre’D of the Manhattan who offered his apologies for the service and would like to invite us to La Cucina ($15 cover per person) the next night as his guests.  Fair enough. The food was marginally better but not crazily better. So if I had actually paid $15 per person to get in there, I would’ve been crazy pissed.
– We went to bed Friday night, got the kids to sleep only to hear a thump-thump-thump throughout our entire cabin. Some architectural genius put the family cabins directly below the pool which meant that the Friday night pool party shook our cabin for two hours.
– Saturday was a day at sea and again, there wasn’t a seat to be found by the pool. My husband stalked chairs for an hour and a half before two became available. Mind you, over half the chairs were unoccupied by people. They simply had towels laid over them, in reserve. The chairs that we wanted (so we could see both children at the same time) was unoccupied for four solid hours. There was a towel and a bag there. Eventually, a woman came over, grabbed some sun lotion from her bag and then went to another lounge chair in the sun. Are you kidding me?? I asked the waiter what the time limit is for this crap and he responded that people could only leave towels there for an hour. But no where is this posted on the ship. When I informed the waiter of what was going on next to me, he told me I needed to speak to someone else. WTF. Meanwhile, a little bit away from me, I saw a woman struggling to get her young daughter into the shade because the daughter needed a nap and I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I told them the chair next to me was not only vacant for the past four hours, but the intended occupant was over there sunning herself somewhere else. At least on Carnival, there was a 45-minute rule (at least in the adult area) and everyone was within their rights to remove a towel from an unused chair after that. On Norwegian? Pheft.

IMG_0017OK, so it wasn’t a terrible time. But there were just so many little things that added up to being major pains in the ass that I have to say I would definitely NOT recommend Norwegian again, and not a Nick Jr cruise at that. We heard while on board that our particular ship, Epic, was heading to Europe after our trip. We also still had that spectacular view to look at which is always amazing and wonderful.  I did just want those people considering a Norwegian cruise to be aware of what happened to us.  We met a couple on board who had nothing but glowing things to say so it felt like there was a little dark cloud hovering over us specifically. In the end, we were making jokes about searching for vegetables and maybe the Mayan’s in Mexico had a pencil we could borrow. It was still a week away, a week not at work, a week with a glorious ocean around us. Just next time, I think we’ll be a little more selective. I’m hoping we just had some bad luck. 😀

In Four Short Days….

unnamedI had another stretch of time without my kids (see here for why). The calmness and freedom that ensues that alone time is great. This time it was almost two full weeks which is a very long time for a kid. However, due to the circumstances of my departure, I wasn’t thinking too much about them. I was enveloped in the moment at hand. They did great when I was away after Christmas, but signs of trouble were showing. Two days before leaving to return back to the United States, I got an email from the 6-yr old hurricane’s teacher that my girl hit a teacher twice in school. Whhhhhaaaaaattttt? I about died on the spot and was really confused. This was way out of character for her.  Aside from the immediate scare that she would get kicked out of the one darn school I was happy with, I was stunned to hear my girl had lashed out. And then, reality hit me and I knew I needed to be home ASAP. It actually made leaving the motherland a little easier. The oldest of my two was resorting to violence to work out her feelings and lashing out at those around her. She’s never done that before, but we’ve also never been in this situation before where I’ve had to disappear for a long time (to a child) with 10hrs notice.

Two days later, I walked through my airport and was literally tackled to the ground by the force of the hugs and love showered on me. I stayed on that floor for a few minutes, just hugging and kissing my two little terrors that encompass my heart, silently acknowledging to myself how lucky I am. But so began damage control.

I had a talk with her teacher the next morning and I am truly grateful that they were completely understanding of what happened, how hard my absence had been on her. When I first left to rush back to Ireland, I emailed her teacher to let her know what was going on. She was appreciative for the heads up and she told me that the tornado had been out of character all of the past week. Very little was made of her incident. It was recorded and she was given two conducts points, but nothing else was to happen. Phew. OK.

Not unexpectedly, the 3-year old mental patient is a mess. He’s been sick with a cough and snotty nose for a couple weeks now. We can’t seem to get rid of it, despite all attempts. Mind you, I’ve had the same thing for a month so I guess we have to let it run its course. But add to that my absence and I’ve had a little boy who has been a bit of a nightmare since my return. Basically, he’s now releasing all that pent up anguish and confusion that surrounded him for two weeks. We didn’t have this when I got back from South Africa, but that was for 10 days, hubby only had to work for three of those and Grandad was here most of that time, keeping them company. So a very different kettle of fish than the past two weeks. Either way, it’s all manageable and I’ll let that run its course too. Once he is confident that the old routine is back and isn’t stressed that I might disappear again, he’ll be back to his old cuddly self.

I’ve laughed over the things that can come out of their mouths though. For example, while in carpool lane on Monday afternoon to pick up the 6-year old, my son exclaims “Mom, my penis needs to come out.” Uh… what? He was strapped into a 5-point harness child seat. There is no way that he can maneuver what he wants to achieve.

By Tuesday, I was trying to normalize the routine by taking the boy to the park to meet his best friend. As I unstrapped him outside the park, my phone rang and I heard the dreaded words that it was the school secretary calling about Lilly. My heart sank and I wondered what she had done now. Instead, she told me that Lilly was at the front desk, they suspected she had ringworm, and I needed to collect her. Again, whhhhhaaaattt? Since it’s highly contagious, she wasn’t allowed back into the school until I could provide a doctor’s note confirming with treatment or denying the condition. In the end, the doctor’s office couldn’t work us in, but the nurse was kind enough to let me email her some pics of her arm, and then confirm it was ringworm, assign treatment and email me back a doctor’s note for the school. She definitely was going to miss the next day of school though. So much for the routine. I decided to turn it into a day of fun. We chilled around the house first. No rushing. Then to the park for a few hours, then onto their favorite – the numbers restaurant. Then off to Target to get some frames for the pictures of my aunt. A pretty simple and fun day for the kids and they needed it. The boy is still a little mess, ready to break down at the drop of a hat. That just means he needs lots of extra loving to make him feel good.

Today is Thursday. I’m still delirious from exhaustion and a little vertigo. Despite the eventful four days since I’ve been back, it has highlighted to me how much Mommy is needed. I’m their Mommy. Their well being, emotional and physical, is mostly on me since Daddy works god awful long hours. It’ll be good for me to get back into a routine too. The world turned upside down at the end of January for me and my stress level went through the roof.

So it’s time for us all to get back to normal and while our ‘normal’ can sometimes resemble the Addams Family, it’s still good to us.