Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sara's Words of Wisdom

This is what Sara wrote for a homework assignment. Interesting take on what has been happening to her lately. My kid is no saint but she sure has a good heart. These are her words on friendship: I think it is important to show our friends we care and appreciate them because we love them and we don't want them to feel sad or lonely. If you don't pay attention to your friends or if you are unkind to them, they might feel unwanted and they won't want to be friends with you. Then you will feel lonely and unwanted. If you are a bully, you won't have any friends because no one likes a bully. If you don't have any friends, nothing will be any fun. If you show you care and appreciate your friends, more and more people will want to be your friend. To show you care and appreciate your friends, be kind to them and don't tease them or hurt them. Don't puppy dog them either. *** That scares them and will make you seem crazy. Being kind to others will also make you popular among the other kids. Don't be a bully. Be kind to others. In other words, be a friend. *** When Sara gets excited when friends come over, she jumps up and down, hugging them (much like a little puppy). We've told her to be considerate and give people their space.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dear God

Dear God, I know you have a Plan, even if we cannot see it or understand it. People are struggling, even in the light of your love. A child gone too soon. A child struggling. A child in pain. Parents grieving, worried, scared. Our hearts are heavy. Our burdens are great. But, so is our faith and love in You. Please, show us your Plan. Ease our pain, our struggles, our grief. We believe in You even when we don't believe in ourselves. we are strong because we believe in You. Our strength is being tested. Please help us through these difficult times. Please be strong for us.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Understanding My Daughter

I am dreading the teen years with my daughter. For many reasons. She is already madly in love with a boy in her class. In addition to typical teen girl angst, drama, crushes and mood swings, we will be dealing with her ADHD. Diagnosed in 2nd grade, it has been a roller coaster. Medication has not helped tremendously. Listening, focusing, paying attention, sitting still are extremely difficult for her. She will sit for 2-3 hours reading a book. But, getting her up, dressed, fed and out the door to catch the school bus is an exercise in frustration. Patience and reminders are needed in huge quantities. We hand her clothes to put on and she dances around. We put her breakfast on the table and she stares out the window. Tell her to brush her teeth and she stands there looking at the kitchen sink. Tell her to put her coat and shoes on and we find her wandering around the house like she is on a scavenger hunt. She is always moving, fidgeting, twirling, dancing or skipping. Cute, at times. Irritating at others. If we tell her to go upstairs to get something, we will find her playing Legos or reading a book. She is the world's youngest absent-minded professor. Most days, getting homework done is not a huge problem. Other days, I feel like strapping her to a dolly with a face mask and straight jacket a la Hannibal Lecter. Sunday was one of those days. Her homework took 3 times longer than it should have. I am the complete opposite of my daughter. Friends and family accuse me of "flitting". I call it "quirky OCD". Incomplete or unfinished tasks eat away at me until they are completed. I thrive on the sense of accomplishment that comes with finishing a task. I breathe a little easier when there is no clutter, no bills to be paid, dishes to put away. I cannot sit down and relax until I get everything done. I cannot start a task then walk away. I hate the idea of something hanging over my head, waiting to be completed. Dishes in the sink must be dealt with immediately. I've learned to never try to rearrange a few things in a closet late at night. The entire contents come out, get reorganized and put back. Laundry must ALL be folded and put away. I cannot clean just one kitchen counter. They all must get scrubbed. I can't stand clutter of any kind. It physically bothers me. My husband has to hide his mail piles from me or they get purged. Sara does not even notice clutter. Her desk, night stand and dresser all resemble the leaning tower of Pisa, but made out of books, toys, puzzles and paper. Her coat and shoes land by the front door in a haphazard pile rather than the closet. Sara starts a project but walks away as soon as something else catches her eye or fancy. She is a smart, funny and imaginative girl. She is bright and perceptive beyond her years. Yet, her ADHD makes her seem younger and more immature at times. Despite all the media surrounding ADD and ADHD, people in general are not very understanding. They think she is spoiled and indulged. They think we are not firm enough. If she had a physical disability, they would be more patient and understanding. I find myself impatient and frustrated with her sometimes. But, I have to take a deep breath and overlook the clutter. She is a whirling dervish. She is kind, funny, ironic, sensitive, fiercely loyal and caring. I need to remember that she is the sum of her parts. And love all parts of her.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Loveable Labels

I always say that I try not to give unsolicited advice but I love to recommend products that we have found and enjoyed. We found these fabulous labels when Sara was in preschool. They have sticker labels for anything and everything - clothes, shoes, bags, etc. They are great. What I really loved was the Velcro ID wristband. When she was 4, we went to Disney. We put her band on her every day and taught her to show it to a worker if she ever got lost. Luckily, we never had to use it. We had many families approach us to inquire about the bright pink band - families with special needs kids, autistic kids, etc. It is scary enough to imagine our kids getting lost. But, imagining a lost child who cannot give his or her name, phone number or address is even more frightening. My son now wears his 'special agent" band when we go out. He loves it. If you need labels for camp, school, household, etc. Please check here: I get no compensation for this blog. I just really like their products. I love when my friends clue me in on anything that makes my life just a little easier.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

There's No Crying In Baseball

Sara is in her 2nd year of softball. Last year was "instructional". They learned the basics of catching, hitting, throwing and running the bases in the proper order. The girls were more concerned about their 'costumes' and snacks than the finer points of the Great American Pastime. They played "games". Each girl got to hit and run all the bases. No score keeping and no tears. A brilliant strategy for a team made up of 6 and 7 year old girls who fussed at the prospect of getting their shiny new pink gloves dirty and shrieked in horror if the ball came anywhere near them. This year they play for real. Scores are kept. Outs and strikes are counted. One team wins and one team loses. I am all for this. I am not a new age parent who thinks that losing a softball game will ruin my girl's fragile psyche. She needs to learn about sportsmanship, team spirit, winning and losing gracefully. Softball may not be the best choice for our high octane child. I'm no jock and know little about baseball. Turns out there is a lot of downtime in baseball. Especially if you play right field. Not many 8 year olds can hit one out of the park. So, at practice, my kid is usually making a dandelion crown and twirling to her own beat, oblivious to the happenings on the in-field. (In-field is a real term. I googled it) When her team is "at bat", she is playing in the dug-out with her new friends. For a kid who has trouble maintaining focus under the best of circumstances, baseball may not be the best sport for her. However, at her first game, she surprised us all. She had laser beam focus. She listened, followed the ball and did whatever else it is that the big league players do during a game. Her team lost the game and Sara did not lose her cool. We were proud of her. She didn't get mad or upset. She didn't cry or over-react. She was an involved member of the team who enjoyed the game, regardless of the score. In my playbook, that is a homerun. Or a touchdown. Or a goal. Doesn't matter. She had fun and looked darn cute in her 'costume'.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Growing Up Catholic

I grew up in a typical Irish Catholic family - tons of kids very close in age. About a quarter of a mile from our house was our whole world - church, grade school, boys high school, girls high school. For those of you unfamiliar with the Catholic faith, let me educate you. You are born into a large family. You are baptized. You attend a Catholic school with other kids from large families. The nuns spend their days terrifying you into obedience. Misbehaving won't just get you in trouble with your parents. It will get you in trouble with God. Scary, yet effective, stuff for a 7 year old. The neighborhood behind the church and school compound is called the "ghetto". It is not, I realized at age 18, truly a ghetto. Non-Catholics do not brag about living in the ghetto. Out in the real world, the "ghetto" has a very different definition. Your home has lots of plaid in it- drapes, furniture, carpeting. All to match the uniform you will wear until you are 18. You will attend Mass weekly where a celibate man wearing a fancy gown will lecture you about marriage and parenting. You will nod, smile, genuflect, sing and read the church bulletin. Some of us even attend Catholic colleges. Out in the real world there are other belief systems and religions. In college, I went through a typical rebellious phase. I lived in an all-female dorm with a curfew. But, I went a little crazy. I dated Protestants. It wasn't my fault- they looked and talked like Catholics and attended the same Jesuit college. How had they sneaked in? Eventually, I got my rebellious phase out of my system. It wasn't hard - there were only a handful of them at the college and only a few were interested in dating a girl with a Jesuit great-uncle who used to be a dean at the school, 5 older brothers (one who attended the same school), a best friend who was a priest and a firm belief that girls get pregnant through close contact. Let's just say my dance card wasn't always full during college. After college, I met a wonderful man. He was even Catholic, although he did attend 'public' school. Being raised a good Catholic, I was willing to overlook this failing in his upbringing. When we were engaged, we were invited to attend a Jewish wedding. Let's just say I was out of my element. First, it was outside. Ok, it WAS California. They do wacky and crazy things out on the left coast. As we sat outside on a beautiful Saturday afternoon waiting for the ceremony to start, I was getting ansy. Why hadn't it started? Where was the groom? People around us were chuckling. My fiancé explained to me that they were waiting for sundown. Why? Because it is the sabbath. Excuse me, it is Saturday, therefore NOT the sabbath. Now people were openly laughing at me. In the Jewish faith, Saturday IS the sabbath. Face red, trying to redeem myself, I ask about the MIA groom. More laughter from behind us. Again, he explained that the groom walks down the aisle with his parents. Now, I am completely confused but I've learned to be quiet. Sort of. After the ceremony, someone mentioned that the bride and groom actually see each other before the ceremony. Now I think they are just testing me to see what I will believe. Turns out that a part of the beautiful ceremony is the signing of some sacred documents before the wedding ceremony. See what happens when you take the Irish Catholic girl away from the ghetto? Ten years into our marriage, he accepted a position at University of Notre Dame, the mecca of Catholicism outside of the Vatican. Now, it's my turn to laugh when he tries to start a business meeting without an opening prayer. Now, he has an app on his phone that helps him find a prayer for any and all situations. Now, he brags about his wife with 16 years of Catholic education under her plaid skirt.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Our Nellie Olson

I'm not going to be articulate, insightful or inspiring right now. I am one mad mama. The hits just keep on coming. Sara had a bad day at school (brought on by her own actions/inactions). But, THIS she did not need. There are some home school kids who live down the street that Sara plays with from time to time. Nice girls that Sara enjoys playing with. I noticed they had not been over lately but didn't think much of it. Well, mystery solved. Sara saw them playing outside when she got off the bus today and asked if they could come over to play. After we chatted about her day at school and she wrote an apology note to her teacher, I called the mom. The mom could not have been nicer. She said she had been meaning to call me about a situation. I groaned. Situation? We all know what that is code for. But, wait. My kid hasn't even played with her kids lately. She couldn't have done anything terrible. A classmate of Sara's who lives in our neighborhood and actively dislikes Sara also plays with these girls. Turns out the classmate was telling these girls NOT to play with Sara because SHE doesn't like Sara. They were warned that if they play with Sara, then they cannot be friends with her!! Really, kid? It isn't enough that you have ostracized most of the 3rd grade and the kids on the bus from my kid? Now you are trying to start a street war? Luckily, this mom has 7 kids and knows how to spot and stop this nonsense. And, her girls know how to choose their own friends and told this girl that. I really hope this is resolved. I'd like my child to be able to play with neighbor kids without fuss and drama.

These are not spouses. These are friends. You can have more than one. This is not the jungle. We don't need an alpha kid on the block.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Good Mother

We all want to be good mothers. It hard to define and even harder to be. I've been a mother for 8 years. It gets harder every day. I wanted to be a mother since I can remember. I loved babysitting. I was cool aunt Barb for years before I decided I was ready to be a mother. I read everything. I asked a million questions of every mother I encountered. I thought I was ready. Throughout my pregnancy, it was always in the back of my head that post-partum depression was a real possibility. My biggest fear was not that I would suffer from it. No, it was that I would suffer from it and not even know it. So, being a Type A personality, I prepared my husband for that possibility. I was partly right. I had it. Big time. But, I KNEW I had it. I was terrified to be alone with the baby. I made everyone and anyone keep me company. I was overwhelmed by everything. I wouldn't take the baby anywhere by myself. I couldn't shower if I was alone with the baby. My sister-in-law sacrificed her lunch hour to watch a sleeping infant while I showered without asking a single question or passing judgement. I cried if I was taking a bath and Paul brought her into the bathroom. But, I had no idea I was crying or why. I kept an immaculate and detailed chart of her sleeping, eating, peeing, pooping and my pumping. It gave me the illusion of being in control. I thought if I could convince everyone I was in control they would think I was a good mother. Adding to the hormonal war raging through my body was mastitis. This was a double blow. I had struggled with breastfeeding and reluctantly decided to pump. Breastfeeding is the most natural thing a female can do. I got pregnant, carried and delivered a baby but could not nurse. Add that to my sense of failure and incompetence. The doctor prescribed heavy duty antibiotics and rest. In my sleep deprived post-partum depressed mind, I felt like a bad mother for sleeping upstairs while my husband and 3 week old baby played downstairs. I demanded that Paul help me downstairs and pull out the hide-bed so I could be in the same room with my newborn during the day. Isn't that what good mothers want? To be with their babies all the time? I felt like a failure all the time. I was sad all day and night. I had a beautiful and healthy baby but I was terrified, sad and overwhelmed. When she cried, it was not because that it was babies do. It was because I was a bad mother who couldn't make my baby happy and couldn't appreciate her. At one point, my mastitis got so bad, hospitalization was discussed. I was relieved. Almost hopeful of the respite because it meant that my daughter wouldn't have to sense my failure and unhappiness. Eight years later, I can remember calling a friend because I was proud of myself for putting my baby in her car seat, putting her in the car and driving to the store .8 miles down the road by myself. Life a good friend, she recognized what an accomplishment that was for me.

I was lucky, in a way. I knew I had post-partum depression. I had the support of my friends, family and doctor. I got treatment. I was willing and eager to take the prescribed anti-depressants that made me feel just a little better able to cope. At any other job, 8 years would make you an expert. Not motherhood. I am still overwhelmed much of the time. I still feel like a failure when my kids won't listen to me or have a problem I cannot solve. Sara is struggling in school on many levels. I feel like this is my fault, too. Did I not teach her enough about respect, manners, listening, self-restraint and focus? Did I fail? Why is MY child having so much trouble when other kids seem to sail through school with tons of friends, play dates and sleepovers? What could/should I have done differently? Better? What does it take to be a good mother?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Road Trip!!!

My husband, by all definitions, is a very smart man. And not just in the work place. He actually has life skills. He can cook, clean, iron, and fix things. I can send him to the grocery store unchaperoned. He can style Sara's hair better than I can. When her Brownie vest needs a new patch applied, he does it. He doesn't "babysit" our kids when I go out. I don't need to leave 10 pages of instructions. So, why would a smart, well-adjusted, involved husband and father think that driving to Orlando from Indiana as a family would be a good idea? He adamantly denies it was just to torture me for his own sick amusement. First came the packing - clothes, shoes, hats, jammies, socks, swimsuits, snacks, water, books, stuffed animals, DVDs, games, etc. Then we had to load all that into the car AND strategically place it all so the kids had free access to some items but not others. Kids zoned out on movies, me loaded with my book and pillow we were off on our pilgrimage across the midwest and south (I think. I never looked at the map). I was a charming and delightful co-pilot. I read my book for 45 minutes then fell asleep. When I woke up, I had hoped we would at least be in another state. Nope, still the cornfields in Indiana. For another 4 hours! And people say that Texas is a big state. Just how much corn does the American population need?! We occasionally fed the kids, let them out to pee but mostly we drove. All day. Finally in some other state, I spot a sign for Dino World. I shout at my chauffeur to stop. He didn't. For two reasons (he claims). One, he was on an important work call. Two, we needed to arrive at some predetermined destination before midnight or we all turned into pumpkins. After 5 years of dating and almost 12 years of wedded bliss, how can my husband deny me a stop at a tacky roadside attraction? Around 9:30 at night after 12 hours of driving, we arrived in some other state (Tennessee, I think) and pass out. We spent the next exploring Ruby Falls and watching Sara do a zip line. It was a fantastic place to stop and explore and get over the trauma of being captive in a car for an entire day. The next day was more of the same - fights over movies, games, demands for potty and snacks (by me). As I am reading the book "Kids Love I-75 (awesome book, must have for travel with kids), I delightedly point out the original Whistle Stop Cafe is nearby. He indulges me on this one. We ignore the claims of starvation from the backseat and go hunting for it. Now I am positively giddy. Being in the car for 7 hours would pay off, finally. Nope, it was closed. Now I am feeling like Clark Griswold when he discovered Wally World was closed for the day. No, I didn't put a dead relative on the roof of my car, but I was tempted. We still got out and explored it. The next day, I discover that we are within minutes of the world's largest peanut. Now, we all know that we were going to see THAT. Who can pass that up? Turns out most people do. When I asked at the gas station, the cashier had no idea what I was talking about!!! Well, we found it. And it was as tacky and cheesy as I expected. No one else was as impressed. My daughter did indulge me and pose for a picture. My son couldn't even be bothered to get out of the car. Between finding the peanut and the Big Chicken KFC, my day was complete. Yes, the beak and eyes move!! Eyes rolling, patience worn thin, my husband announces that we really need to keep driving if we ever expect to get to Orlando. My eyes peeled for more tacky attractions, I agree. Luckily for my husband, my ability to stay awake as a passenger only lasts about 1.5 hours (tops).

The drive home was more of the same but with fewer (no) stops except the occasional bathroom/food stop. Kids fighting and demanding snacks. Me sleeping. Paul driving. Now, I can cross off driving to Orlando off my bucket list. Not that it was ever on MY list.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mama's Boy

I knew when we had our daughter that she would be a daddy's girl. I am still a daddy's girl. With 5 older brothers, the competition wasn't very fierce. When we had our son, everyone assured me that he would be a mama's boy. I would be the one he would run to, the hand he reached for, the person he would seek out for comfort. No such luck. I am 0-2. Both my kids prefer Daddy for anything and everything. I am a second class citizen when he is around. When he was 18 months old, we went to Disney. He went into full Daddy mode. He wanted Daddy to do everything. And he was vocal about it. I felt the need to reassure our friends we were with that I do NOT, in fact, abuse or neglect him. Everyone assured me that it was a phase. It's because he is home with me all the time. And the one that made my blood boil - it is because he loves me sooo much that he feels secure enough to act that way. If that is true, I fear for his future girlfriends. I am a halfway decent mother whose children, for some reason, seem to dramatically prefer their father. It happened again last week. My 'darling husband' thought it would be great to DRIVE to Disney. The one on Orlando. The one 68 states away. Surprisingly, we made it there in one piece with most of our sanity still in tact. Once we got to the 'happiest place on Earth", my almost 4 year old son went into full Daddy mode again. Loudly and violently. If he had to go on a ride with me, the resulting temper tantrum was mind-boggling. At 18 months old, I could almost forgive the behavior. At almost 4, I wasn't hurt. I was mad. Why would a normal child act this way? Is he doing it because he knows it gets under my skin? Why does he think it is ok to act that way? Why does he feel the need to lash out? Since we don't indulge temper tantrums of any kind any where, we were forced to step out of line and explain to him that he could either stop crying and go on the ride with the woman who gave birth to his 10.5 lb self or skip the ride. Do you have any idea how ridiculous I felt issuing THAT ultimatum? Anyone who knows me knows I second and third guess myself as a parent almost every waking minute. Having to issue an ultimatum to get my son to go on a ride with me didn't exactly bolster my parenting self confidence. When we are home, he is perfectly fine. My husband and I take turns giving his bath, taking him to the bathroom and putting him to bed. Something about vacation turns him into a mommy-loathing child. Let's just say I no longer find Disney to be the magical, dreams come true place. It has become my nightmare.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Make A Wish

Everyone at Disney has the same wish - to have a magical experience. The cast members order us to do so every where we turn. They cushion it in a smile while they are taking your money for a snack, souvenir, ticket, etc. It is quite magical how quickly your money, time, patience and energy disappear at Disney. Florida in April is hot. Disney in April is the 7th circle of hell. You are traipsing around a park with kids in tow. Your feet hurt. Your back hurts. You are sunburned. You are crabby. You are hot, tired, smelly and broke. Maybe that's just me. Anyway, I know no place is perfect but Disney does a pretty good job controlling crowds and chaos. They are remarkably organized and efficient. Today, Sara and I were waiting in line to meet Mary Poppins. An adorable little girl, her mother and grandmother approached us with a cast member in tow. We were next in line and the cast member told us the little girl is a Disney guest courtesy of the Make A Wish Foundation. Would we mind letting her go ahead of us in line? Of course not! We started chatting with the mother and grandmother. I was shocked when they told us that throughout their stay, most people have actually refused to let the little girl go to the head of the lines!!! How do perfectly healthy people refuse to let a sick little girl go to the head of the line? Do they really think she should stand in the hot sun? As much as I hate waiting in line anywhere, I think I can spare 2-3 minutes for an adorable and terminally ill little girl. Typical Sara, she had a ton of questions for the little girl. Not nosy ones. Polite, friendly ones. How old is she? What grade is she in? Where do they live? What was her favorite ride? Favorite princess? Then Sara had what she and I thought was a brilliant and sweet idea. She told the little girl they should just come around the park with us and that way she could always go ahead of us. I love how that girl's mind works sometimes. Then she asked the mother if it was ok to hug her new friend. I love that she was concerned about germs but really wanted to give her new friend a hug.So, here is my wish for the next few days- if you are in line anywhere at Disney and you see a kid wearing a Make A Wish button, if you have a decent bone in your body, please let a sick child go to the head of the line. Learn more about this wonderful foundation here -

Monday, April 2, 2012

Happiest Place On Earth

The happiest place on earth is Disney, right? So far, my experience with the happiest place on earth has included packing for myself and 2 small children, driving for 3 days with said children, and traveling to and from the Magic Kingdom. For the 5 people on earth (and my father) who have not experienced Disney firsthand, here is a breakdown of a day at the Magic Kingdom. Drive to Disney World. Pay a small fortune to park your car. Schlep yourself, husband, kids, snacks, water and sunscreen to wait for a tram. Pile into the tram and ride to a secondary location. At this point, I'm remembering all the after school specials about kidnapping and thinking "hey, never let them take you to a second location. You are as good as dead if they do". Pay the equivalent of 2 years of college tuition to get tickets to Disney for kids who are now whining "where is Disney? How much longer/farther do we have to walk/wait?". Wait for a monorail or the slowest moving ferry to take you to Magic Kingdom. We are now waiting in a 3rd line to go to a 3rd location. At this point, the only ride your 3 year old has been on is the parking lot tram and he is wondering why his crazy parents drove for 3 days for that experience. Finally approach the Magic Kingdom and wait in another line to get your backpack searched. Convince the abnormally perky 'cast members' that the only lethal and/or dangerous things in your bag are the diapers and used Kleenex. Next you will experience Darwinism on vacation. To (finally) enter the park, you just push your ticket through an electronic machine that even provides pictures to guide you through the process. Standing over this process is a 'cast member' to supervise and assist. Your tickets even has arrows on it to help speed up the process. There is a 50/50 chance if getting it right on the first try. 85% of park guests will take 3-4 attempts to get it right. Now you get to experience the magic that is Disney. This will involve dragging tired kids from ride to ride and waiting 30-40 minutes for each ride. Along the path, there will be stands that sell junk food and souvenirs. Luckily, my kids know that I am the cheapest and meanest mommy on the planet. And the smartest. We bring food, snacks and drinks in so we don't have to spend a not-so-small fortune on snacks and wait in yet another line for the privilege of doing so. As for souvenirs, well, let's just say there isn't room in mommy's backpack or wallet. Faced with the prospect of paying for their own trinkets and lugging them around themselves will quickly disabuse them of that idea.

Waiting in line at Disney, while not enjoyable, usually moves along and the line almost never gets longer in front of you. It is orderly and efficient. This is my 4th time at Disney in my young life -3rd time with small, impatient children. This is the first time I have ever had someone blatantly decide they are above waiting in line. Sara wanted a picture of her attempting to pull the sword from the stone. It is a 12 second photo op and there were only 2 kids ahead of us. So, a little boy yanks, smiles, poses and makes way for an adorable little 2 year old girl. As she toddles up to the sword, some mom lets her 10 year old old jump ahead of her and grab onto the sword for dear life. I've held my kids with less devotion. For the record, I HATE confrontation because I always seem to confront angry and indignant people who refuse to admit even the slightest chance that they might be wrong about anything. Thank goodness I am not one of those people;). This time, I decide I'm going to speak up for my child and the poor little tot in her Cinderella gown. I politely inform the mom that there is a short line behind my daughter. The mom looks at me then sends her daughter up to pose!!! Ok, I was willing to give the benefit of the doubt for the first one because the line was small. Maybe she didn't see the makeshift line. But the second one took some gumption, to put it nicely. Now, Sara is looking at me to see what is going to happen. I've been in the hot sun all day, standing on my feet, listening to "It's A Small World". I'm hot, sweaty, tired, achy and crabby. And just a little passive-aggressive. So, in my best loud mommy voice, I tell Sara that it is a shame that people can't wait their turn. Why don't we use our best manners and show people how easy it is to do the right thing and wait our turn. Sadly, my message was lost because that chick was outta there the minute she got her photo ops. I hope her photos are blurry or her kids have red devil eyes in the photos. Even suffering from heat exhaustion, I noticed that Kodak mom from hell took her opportunity at one of the few places where cast members were not available to keep the line moving smoothly.

At the end of the day, when you have run out of energy, patience, money, and the kids are begging to go home because they are so tired they could not possibly walk another step, you announce it's time to depart the Magic Kingdom. Getting to the top of Everest is easier and faster. You have to navigate around all the family reunions around you towards the front of the park, return the stroller you waited in line for, exit the park, wait in line for the monorail or ferry back to the parking lot, take the tram to your parking area and find your minivan in a sea of other minivans. While you are doing all this, both kids will claim utter exhaustion and every limb in their small bodies will cease working. Both will demand that you carry them AND all their stuff. As you leave the Disney property, your kids will get a second wind and ask if you can stay for the fireworks.

Tomorrow, we are off to see the Animal Kingdom. Let's see who is the king of the jungle. Survival of the fittest, Disney-style.