Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Happiest Place on Earth

This week I was forced to face a decision that, frankly, I've been dreading since the moment they handed my oldest child to me back in the delivery room in 2008.

Yes, folks, I decided it was finally time to take Snoodie to Disneyland.

We live in Southern California, and so the lure of Disneyland is ever present. Billboards call to us from every corner, reminding us each day of the joy and wonder that await a mere 40 miles to the South.

I'd been planning to hold off on visiting until Snoodie was at least 4, but last week I had a cousin visiting from New York who was itching to go, so I decided to take the plunge. 

Some thoughts from our 10 hours inside the Magic Kingdom:


I think I might be a hundred years old because I honestly believed that taking one adult and one three-year-old boy for a single day at an amusement park might set me back about $75 bucks. 

That was incorrect. 

A child's ticket to Disneyland runs $81 dollars. An adult ticket is $89 dollars. Add $15 dollars for parking and consider the fact that they confiscate any food, drinks or snacks treats that you try to smuggle in and accept that your looking at a $300 dollar minimum for a single visit.



We started our day with an exciting development.

As we pulled into the parking lot a grinning and ponytailed woman approached our car and announced with unbridled enthusiasm that we had been randomly chosen as "Mickey's Guest of the Day!" She waved away the money I'd taken out to pay for parking insisting that as "Mickey's Guest of the Day!" our parking was taken care of. Next she handed us some cool, "I'm Celebrating!" buttons before hopping in a little golf cart to lead us to a super-exclusive parking spot. As we followed her car my cousin and I began to ponder what cavalcade of delights might await us now that we'd been chosen as 'Mickey's Guests of the Day!" 

  • Would Mickey himself be escorting us around the park?
  • Would we get to skip all the lines as we rode attraction after attraction on the arm of a beloved costumed character?
  • Would there be free snacks?

We exited our car and our friendly greeter leapt from her vehicle to sincerely wish us a great day in the park.

Then she drove away. 

And that was kind of it. 

I'm not gonna lie, we were a bit disappointed that being "Mickey's Guest of the Day!" really just amounted to free parking and a space closer to the tram. Don't get me wrong, it was nice, but it seemed like ole Mickey could have given us a bit of a sweeter hookup after selecting us for such an honor.

We made our way through the park announcing to anyone who would listen that we were, in fact, "Mickey's Guest of the Day!" but I can't say we got much traction.


When I went to Disneyland as a kid the whole "meeting the characters" thing was an all out free-for-all. You just kind of wandered around hunting for, say, Donald Duck. Then, when you found him, you would just sort of push the other children out of the way and mug him for a photo-op.

But those days are over. Now the characters stand in one place as park workers oversee orderly lines of guests who wait patiently to greet them. Snoodie has a little difficulty understanding the system. Our 15 minutes in line #1 was dominated by Snoodie screeching at the top of his lungs,

"Hi Mickey! I'm ready to see you!!! Mickey!! Hi there!!!!!"

In classic fashion, by the time was actually reached the oversized mouse, Snoodie was overcome with terror, barely stood still for a picture and then spent the rest of the day fleeing in terror from each of beloved Disney favorite we happened upon. 


We visited Disneyland...

  1. on a Wednesday 
  2. in May 
  3. during the school year 

..and the place was PACKED! PACKED I tell you! 

The lines were long, the restaurants were overflowing and the shops were teeming. 

I am seriously considering abandoning all my other pursuits in favor of calling every school principal in the nation and sternly berating them for letting their charges run wild at Disneyland while school's in session.

*insert fist shaking*

Those children should be in class!!! Not in Southern California getting our way as we try to enjoy Disneyland!!!


For a day I was really not all that enthused about I have to admit that Snoodie and I had a pretty great time at Disneyland. We bailed on the place before the nighttime festivities started and we took it a bit easy on the rides as the lines were long, but we still managed to squeeze in a lot of fun during our short visit. 

Was it $300 dollars worth of fun? Hard to say, but I will tell you that ever since we returned the bedtime story that the Snood wants to hear every night is, "The Time I Went to Disneyland" in which I provide a minute-by-minute retelling of our time in the park.

We end the story each night by saying,

"And finally they left the park to come home, knowing they'd be back very soon. And they were happy."

The End

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Power of Three

When Snoodie was around 6-months-old my brother called to find out how everything was going.

I told him that there were good days and bad days.

My brother (a father of four) laughed before telling me,

"You should have another one. Then you can have good days and bad days on the same day."

Now that I have three kids I gotta say - the guy was onto something.

When you have one child there are plenty of things that can go wrong. Any given outing can be marred by a lost toy, felled by a diaper mishap or derailed by an ill-timed meltdown. But when you have three kids (I have realized too late in my child-producing journey) you've TRIPLED your chances of any given day going spectacularly off the rails.

Just yesterday I was having a wonderful day with my two boys. In what can only be described "The Great Mid-May Miracle", the two of them played together for close to an hour (an HOUR people!) before I had to reprimand them for beating each other about the face and neck over a disputed toy.

Later, they ate their entire dinner with nary a complaint before enjoying some leftover birthday cake. They even said thank you before marching off to the bath without incident.

It was pretty much the best day ever.

Except for the fact that my possibly teething or alternately just irrationally furious 3.7 months old spend the entire afternoon and evening in an unrelenting rage spiral.

A good day and a bad day indeed.

My father always cites the old adage that a parent can only be as happy as their least happy child. I always assumed this was said in reference to parents of grown children but I've come to realize that it is just as true for toddlers. I've accepted the fact that my day is only going to go as well as the worst day one of my children is having.

Now, I just spend my time hoping that all three of them don't have bad days on the same day.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Children

Being a mom is hard.

In fact, according to some wildly misguided people (who have never been in the employ of, say, a South American mine) it's the hardest job there is.

In my estimation, the main difficulty of being a parent lies in the profession's vast unrelentingness. I mean, these kids are ALWAYS looking for something from you. They're forever needing to be dressed or demanding to be bathed or OH SWEET LORD is it really time for another meal? I feel like I fed them like 20 minutes ago!!!

I have three children, and I tell you the requests of me begin around 6:30 in the morning and often don't wrap up until sometime after 9pm. On some unfortunate evenings, the demands continue well into the wee hours as David and I are called upon for water procurement, pacifier replacing, and the occasional battling of monsters under the bed.

When one is on the receiving end of such an epic barrage of child-based need, it can be tempting to curl up in a ball on the couch, put one's fingers in one's ears, and rock back and forth while fervently praying that the children will magically remain silent until it's time for them to leave for college.

Unfortunately, I am here to let you know that this path is highly ineffective. 

In better news, I have discovered a method of interacting with one's children that actually does seem to help. After much experimentation, I happened upon a truly extraordinary fact:

I enjoy my children more the more I pay attention to them.

Take a moment. I know it's shocking.

Now, I consider myself an expert at ignoring my children lest they drive me insane. I freely admit to the times that I've sat in the corner of the playroom, willfully ignoring their cries of

"Mommy it's mine!"

"It's broken! I need you to fix it!"

"Milk! I want MILK!!!"

and the always haunting

"I think I pooped!"

as I obsessively hit the refresh button on my Facebook page.

But I've come to understand that this just isn't as effective as simply getting off my butt and getting involved. Rather than hiding away, desperately attempting to deny the fact that I have produced three children in four years, I've found it is actually better to attempt to engage said children in gleeful fun time. 

And so I use funny voices to convey the danger Thomas the Tank Engine faces as he heads towards the ravine. Then I gather everyone in the backyard and play several dozen rounds of "I chase you around in a circle while you laugh hysterically". Later I supervise the baking of several dozen muffins, fully realizing that this will mean scraping batter from the ceiling at some later date. If things get desperate enough there is a rousing sing along of "The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round."

All of us, myself included, thoroughly enjoy ourselves. We laugh a lot, I get some exercise, and amazingly enough the entire experience proves vastly preferable to pretending the children don't exist.

By 6pm or so I'm exhausted but guess what? So are the children! This means they no longer have the will to attack each other violently over toy disputes; they lack the verve to destroy the couch while watching Dora; and they can barely summon the energy to call my name 1,000 times in a row, thus causing me to wish to drop them off in a basket in front of the firehouse.

Folks, all I can tell you is that in my house this playing with the children racket seems to be working. 

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some batter I need to scrape off the ceiling.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Inside the Husband Triangle

I have a lot of needs.

When it comes to making me happy, my husband must complete a complicated series of feats in which he is part home helper, part mind reader, part amateur psychologist, and on some days, part rabid bear wrangler.

I think it would be fair to say that approximately 96% of all the discord in our marriage originates from me. This is because it is remarkably easy to keep my husband happy, as long as I stay inside what I've come to think of as my husband's "happiness triangle".

What is the happiness triangle, you ask? Well, allow me to spend 64 seconds using my wildly limited word processing skills to illustrate:

The above represents the three key aspects to my husband's overall personal contentment. 

Back when I was dating David I remember spending a lot of time wondering what he was thinking. Now that we have lived together for over four years, I've come to realize that there is an excellent chance that the answer to that question is

"Gee, I really wish I had some brownies."

Which brings us to the opening point of the happiness triangle:


That old saying that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach? The person who came up with that was clearly some sort of crazy genius. My husband and I have seen some hard times in our short time together, and it never ceases to amaze me how effectively I can soothe my husband's heartaches with a well-timed baked good. It's nothing short of astounding.


The second part of the happiness triangle is words of encouragement. Now, when I need encouragement, I have a tendency to just scream things at my husband like, 

"Look at my hands! Do they look like crazy old lady witch hands to you? DO THEY?"

My husband takes a different approach in that he never ever complains about anything and rarely gives voice to his concerns. Still, I know that it's important every once in a while to give him a totally unsolicited pat on the back, to tell him what a great job I think he's doing at home and at work, and to reassure him that every little thing is gonna be alright. Sometimes, on very rare, special occasions, I will even use his most-beloved phrase, "Honey, you are right."


This is a very important part of the happiness triangle that I will not be explaining in detail due to the fact that my Dad reads the blog. I trust you to figure this one out for yourselves, K?

And that's THE WHOLE THING. I mean sure, there are other things my husband enjoys: he's a reader, he's ambitious in his work, and he loves it when his favorite sports team wins. There are plenty of points in the overall happiness mosaic, but as his wife, if I stay firmly within the above triangle, I know that my husband will be reasonably content for pretty much, like, ever.

Seems simple, right? Unfortunately, like most things, living within the happiness triangle is easier said than done. I carefully explained the triangle theory to a girlfriend recently. She agreed that her husband had similarly simple needs, and we came to the conclusion that the rest of our marital lives would be defined by "post happiness triangle revelation" married bliss.

Earlier this week she texted me:

  • FRIEND: Are you inside the triangle?
  • ME: Not exactly, yelling at husband b/c he 4got to tell me about upcoming weekend work plans.
  • FRIEND: Oh no! Where does this fit in the triangle???
  • ME: Oh, we are FIRMLY outside the triangle at present.

It turns out that knowing and doing are two different things. But all I can tell ya is that at least I have a goal...