Thursday, February 26, 2009

Not Only Did All Our Dreams Come True . . .


Our week in Los Angeles was absolutely filled with dreams come true, especially for Benjamin. Before we went to Disneyland, I asked Ben what he wanted to do most, and he said, "Meet Mickey Mouse and see the Princesses." This turned out to be not quite as easy as it sounded, but by the end of our trip, our mission had finally been accomplished.

We met both Mickey and Minnie Mouse--and toured their very interesting homes--at Toon Town during our first day at Disneyland. Ben got his new Mickey shirt on the way in (to be explained in the following post), and he was so excited to actually meet his friend.

Janae kept her cool for most of the day, but when we saw Winnie the Pooh, she really got excited. After meeting him and giving him a hug, she said, "I like that," and "Winnie the Pooh is nice." This was definitely the highlight of her day (you'll hear about the low point later!).


The line to meet three Princesses at Disneyland was 2 hours long, and Janae was about to fall asleep only 30 minutes into the wait. We decided to leave the line . . . but a mother always finds a way to make her children's dreams come true, doesn't she? So I had to pull out the good old Visa card again to make reservations at Ariel's Grotto at California Adventure a few days later (we had to postpone and book again--you'll see why if you keep reading!). Here we were guaranteed an opportunity to meet, visit with, and take pictures with at least FIVE princesses during lunch.

Benjamin could not stop smiling the whole time--and it didn't help that the princesses called him a prince, invited him to dance, gave him hugs, and told each other that they "had to meet that cutie named Benjamin" who was smiling and waving at all of them. Dear me! After we left the restaurant (much, much poorer), Ben kept saying, "I want to see Snow White again!" Janae is still talking about all the princesses, too. This was a great experience--and we've got lots of pictures to show for it!


And yes, even Jason had a dream come true. When we went to Hollywood, we saw the Kodak Theater, and walked down Hollywood Boulevard. I swear Jason saw and recognized the stars of EVERY actor and actress to ever take part in ANY of the Star Trek series. He was most excited to have his picture taken with William Shatner's star (He sure looks like a Trekkie in that picture, doesn't he??). The best I could do for myself was a picture taken with the hand and footprints of the actors from Harry Potter, but my enthusiasm was no match for Jason's :)


It was so nice to spend time with Anita's family and to see their home in Los Angeles. We were there for Jordan's baptism, too, which is something we've been looking forward to for an entire year!

. . . Some of Our Nightmares Did, Too . . .

A description of our trip to L.A. would not be complete without a mention of the "darker side"--which started on our way to Disneyland.

Ben was really quiet in the car, and we thought the sun in his eyes was bothering him--or maybe he was just a little excited . . . or nervous . . . or carsick. Whatever it was caused him to throw up all over the shirt he was wearing--and into Jason's hat (which Ben had borrowed to shade himself from the sun). Ben was so embarrassed, but luckily he had a jacket he could wear--and it turned out okay once we found a gift shop (not too difficult at Disneyland, as you might imagine) and got him a Mickey Mouse shirt :) Janae got a super-sparkly Princess shirt, which she could not stop looking at. . . .

The day went pretty well--it was sunny and full of fantasy, adventure, and LOTS of rides. Ben even went on all the "big kid" rides like Splash Mountain, the Matterhorn, and Star Tours. He was so happy to be with his cousins and to experience all the excitement of Disneyland.

By the end of the day, we were getting tired, but Ben wanted to go on a few more rides. We thought we'd end with the carousel, which seemed like a nice, calm, happy ride that both Ben and Janae would enjoy. I was sitting with Ben, and Jason was looking for a spot for him and Janae. When the ride started, I noticed they were standing off to the side. I smiled really big and waved enthusiasitically, only to be met with a scowl from Jason. When we came around to the unhappy pair again, I realized Janae had thrown up--all over Jason, her sparkly Princess shirt, the sidewalk. This "trend" continued--with Janae being sick every day from then until the day we left. Poor girl!


Jason and I also ended up with the stomach flu, and our family generally proved ourselves to be probably the worst imaginable house guests for Anita and Mike. For example, no-one wants to hear their guests telling you another member of their party is now vomiting, or to ask any of these questions:

Can your bathmat go in the washing machine?
Do you have any more pillows?
Could we have another one of your bowls to take upstairs?
Do you have any more bedsheets?
Where do you keep your plunger?

I don't know if we'll be invited back any time soon, but I did offer our place to Anita if her family ever gets sick while they're visiting in Canada :)

Despite our weak stomachs, we decided to go to California Adventure on Wednesday (our last day in L.A.) as opposed to Tuesday, as we had planned. We didn't want to waste our tickets, or miss our Princess lunch. Anyway, Benjamin and Jason braved the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror--after which Ben said, "I don't want to go on any rides like that again!" (Of course he was asking to go on it again about an hour later.)


Finally, at 2:00 this morning (the day we flew out of L.A.), Ben came down with the stomach flu. I think we used every air sickness bag on the plane, as well as all the bags our souvenires had been in while we were at the airport. Poor little guy. I definitely don't recommend air travel while sick with the flu.


We left sunny California for a surprisingly snowy B.C. Janae wasn't impressed that she had to wear her coat again. Our time in Los Angeles went by way too quickly, especially with the time we "lost" being sick. We missed so many things that we wanted to do--a bonfire at the beach, Jamba Juice with Jordan (which I'm still craving!)--and I was really sad to leave.


I guess you have to take the nightmares if you want to have the dreams--we had some of each, and they definitely made our trip one that we'll remember for a long time!

Monday, February 16, 2009

No Rest for the Chronic Insomniac?


I don’t think it is an exaggeration to call myself a chronic insomniac, even though I realize I am self-diagnosing . . . which is a bit risky, since I am also somewhat of a hypochondriac (also self-diagnosed, of course).

But I have trouble sleeping pretty much every night, and I’ve gone through long stretches of time (i.e., over a year at one point) where I could count my “good nights’ sleeps” on one hand. I remember teaching a 7 a.m. class when I wasn’t getting to sleep until 5 a.m. . . . my recollection of that time period is pretty fuzzy, but I think I somehow still managed to convince my students that Shakespeare was fun and that they really could write research papers. I thought I was about as tired as a person could get—and then I became a mom and was up all night with babies . . . only to have trouble sleeping once they had been rocked to sleep.

I’ve never fallen asleep in a class (and I took Old Testament from 7-10 p.m. one semester . . . as well as sociology at 7 a.m., and a upper-level linguistics course where I don’t think I understood a word of what my professor ever said), I’ve never fallen asleep in church or while watching TV—I was always the last one to fall asleep at sleepovers or on long car-rides as a kid. There just seems to be something wrong with my “off” switch when it comes to losing consciousness (unless you count fainting at the sight of needles. . . .).


Over the years I have tried all the natural remedies for insomnia, and some of the unnatural ones, too—warm milk, counting sheep, baths, more exercise, less exercise, yoga, going to bed later, visualizing relaxing scenes or concepts—for whatever reason, nothing seemed to help. Once I even tried my dad’s suggestion and took Nyquil (I did have a cold), but it left me so alert that I used the rest of it up by taking it before work in the morning—never a drowsy moment from that.

I was always afraid to try something “stronger” like Ambien (which, I've been told, "works like a dream"), because I wasn’t sure that I’d ever wake up (I’m also a bit paranoid, I guess. . . ).

The ironic part of all this is that I actually do love to sleep—and have a hard time getting up in the morning once I have slept. I feel like I’m being tortured if I have to stay up past 10 p.m. . . . in fact, my ideal sleep schedule would be “early to bed and late to rise”—if only it didn’t take me hours to fall asleep.


Recently I’ve started to worry that my insomniatic outlook will rub off on Benjamin and Janae—when I put them to bed they take an average of 1-2 hours to go to sleep; whereas if their much more laid-back father puts them to bed, they’re down in about 10 minutes. It is as though something about me says, “Don’t sleep . . . you’ll miss something,” or “You can’t sleep until you solve all the world’s problems.”

This is why I stay up worrying about global issues like poverty or child abuse—or personal decisions like where Ben should go to kindergarten or how to curb Janae’s obsession with princesses—and the later it gets, the less rational my problems and solutions become. Something in my brain won’t allow me to rest until everything is understood, solved, analyzed. . . . it really is a sickness.


So after all these years of insomnia and sleep research, I happened to start taking an anti-nausea medication called Diclectin. The drug information listed drowsiness as a possible side effect, and I thought, “Right.” But, you know, I have actually had the best two nights of sleep after taking it yesterday and the day before. I don’t know if fatigue is finally kicking in, or if my time on bedrest just made me a more tranquil person—but Diclectin seems to be enhancing my ability to sleep.

Now that I’ve written about this, I’m sure the effect will disappear, but I’m going to head off to bed and see what happens. Maybe my immunity to drowsiness is starting to wear off . . . and I’ve definitely got some catching up to do.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Our Highly Anticipated Disney Vacation

When Benjamin was two, I told him all about Disneyland. He already loved watching movies like Cars, Lady and the Tramp and Peter Pan, and he had some books that featured Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald and Daisy Duck, etc., so I thought it would be fun for him to hear about a place where all these characters and stories came to life.


Well, it wasn't long before young Benjamin started wondering if WE could go to Disneyland . . . and if so, WHEN. I told him it took a long, long time to drive there, and I told him we'd have to save our money--because Disneyland was very expensive. But, I said that Disneyland was fairly close to Auntie Nita's house, and that one day--when we went to visit her--we might be able to go.

Since then, Benjamin has put coins in his piggy bank--saving up to go to the “Happiest Place on Earth.” Sometimes after asking for a treat he's changed his mind and said, "No, we need to save our money for Disneyland."

Ben has also informed me that when he grows up he wants to have "the same job as Uncle Mike" so he can live close to Disneyland.

About a year ago I ordered a free "Disney Vacation Planning DVD," and lately when it's been Ben's turn to choose his one video of the day, he has requested this DVD. He now knows all the rides and attractions at the theme park, and often tells me about them. The other day he said, "Mom, there are lots of things to do at Disneyland. You can watch a show, have some dinner, or go on some rides. They have rides for grown ups and rides for kids. . . ." This guy knows his Disneyland!


He does have a couple of minor misconceptions (he somehow got the idea, for example, that Anita lives at Disneyland, rather than just near it), but I think they’ll be easily cleared up once we get to California.

So, now our trip to visit Anita and her family is only a few days away.

Ben, who always thinks of everything, is preparing Janae so that she, too, will be able to get the most out of her experience. She has recently discovered the movie Cinderella, and Ben has taught her the names of all the princesses (there is a picture of Cinderella with Belle, Sleeping Beauty, Ariel, Pocahontas, Sleeping Beauty, and Mulan on the back of the DVD).

The other day they were listening to a song on Cinderella's bonus features titled "Every Girl Can Be a Princess," and I heard Ben telling Janae, "See, Janae--you can be a princess and live at Disneyland someday."


It is so sweet to hear her sing “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes” and funny to watch her pretend to be Cinderella’s step-sister Anastasia.

These kids are going to have so much fun at Disneyland . . . and Jason and I can’t wait, either!

Finally . . . I Can Say Happy Valentine's Day

I have to admit that I haven't always been a fan of Valentine's Day. I have a couple of ideas about why this is so:

1. I didn't get married until I was 30, so I had lots of sad, lonely Valentine's Days before then.

2. I spent 8 years at BYU, where you couldn't walk 5 minutes on campus without seeing at least 10 people holding bouquets of flowers or balloons, carrying trays of pink-iced doughnuts, or kneeling down to propose. If Valentine's Day happened to fall on a devotional day, you couldn't find a single person in the 20,000-seat auditorium who wasn't wearing pink or red. BYU-Hawaii was the worst--Valentine's Day was a bigger holiday than Christmas . . . my ward even had a Valentine's fireside where a newly engaged couple spoke about how much they loved each other. I'm getting nauseous just thinking about all of it (although it's probably time to take some more Diclectin anyway. . . .)

Anyway, you'd think all that would have changed when I found Jason. My hubby tried to make Valentine's Day special with dinners at the Keg, bouquets of roses, breakfasts in bed, and chocolate hearts, but my cynical outlook on February 14 was so deeply entrenched that I still had trouble getting into Valentine's Day.

Enter Benjamin.


As we all know, Benjamin LOVES holidays. I have never seen a person go so crazy for Halloween, and then, of course, there's his Santa obsession at Christmas. I didn't really tell him much about Valentine's Day until last year . . . but once he heard about chocolate hearts and showing our love for others on a special day, it didn't take long for him to start to radiate Valentine's Day enthusiasm. So, we made heart-shaped cookies, heart-shaped grilled cheese sandwiches . . . we invited Grandma and Grandpa over for heart-shaped pizzas. It was a lot of fun.


This year I actually looked forward to Valentine's Day, and started getting Ben excited about it a few weeks ago. Every day he would ask, "Is tomorrow Valentine's Day?"

Then Jason surprised me with my first very own video camera--which he said was a Valentine's/birthday present--just in time for our trip to California next week.


So, now I'm saying what's not to like about Valentine's Day???


It took a while, but I've finally got the Valentine's Day spirit. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Look Mommy!

The first word Janae ever spoke was "Look"--actually it was "Ook," but we knew what she meant. She would point at anything interesting and say, "Ook, ook." This was especially fun when she was pointing to a book--because it was as though she already knew two words . . . such a smart girl :)

Now that Janae is almost two, she is quite a talker--but I still love it when she says, "Look Mommy!" and then shows me something interesting or something she is doing. Here are a few of her most recent "Look"s:

Janae loves to climb, and she is pretty much fearless. We are having trouble keeping her in her highchair at dinnertime . . . she's got a new routine of hoisting herself up above the tray and saying, "Look Mommy."


After months of wrestling with Janae to get a clip or elastic into her wild hair, I have finally convinced her that ponytails and barrettes are "pretty." On Sunday Janae even let me put a bow on top of her elastic . . . although according to Jason, she ripped it out during the first hour of church and went to the nursery as a wild woman. Oh well. It was pretty while it lasted--look!


The other day I was sitting in front of our hall mirror, putting on make-up. Janae is always really interested in make-up, but this was the first time she put any on. Watch out for teenage Janae! "Look, Mommy--I'm wearing lipstick. . . . Did I mention I know how to use the eyelash curler, too?"


And, finally, the dancing dress. Janae always insists on wearing a dress, no matter what she has on underneath. But now she knows how to put one on all by herself.
What a big girl! "Look Mommy!"


There's never a shortage of "Look Mommy"s around here :)

The Known and the Unknown

My ultrasound on Thursday revealed that Baby #3 is right on track. I thought I would share a few things we know about the miniature teddy bear.


There is only one baby in there.
The baby measured at 8 weeks 4 days.
The baby's heart-rate was 169 beats per minute (within normal range).
The baby was moving around.
The baby wants me to eat dill pickle chips (I am sure of this!).

We really don't know much else about this little one!

The unknown is what's pressing on my mind (that must be why I have such a headache!), but there is so much reason to hope that this baby will be okay.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tough-Guy Landscaper or Mr. Mom?


We all know the image of himself that Jason likes to present to the world: rugged outdoorsman--into big trucks, noisy power tools, and getting covered with grass, dust, tree clippings and mud. He loves to play video games, listen to classic rock, watch action movies, grow out his beard, and he can single-handedly lift a piano. Pretty tough guy.

But don't let the grey shirt and dirty jeans fool you. Jason has a flip side, and I think my week on bedrest has really brought it out.


Whether it's a result of his strict upbringing (not allowed to sit on the "good couches," etc.), his desire to please me, or his fear of Benjamin (who is even more strict than I am about keeping the house dust-free so his asthma stays under control), Jason really does know how to keep the house in pretty good order.


He's not afraid to wash dishes, vacuum, do laundry, or even cook. I'm not saying he does it just the way I would, but I'm not overly worried about how I'll be able to catch up on everything when I come back to all my old chores. The house is actually pretty presentable. And I'm really grateful.


So grateful that I think we should all encourage Jason to continue to explore his inner domestic self . . . don't you?