340,000 miles

There was a time in our lives when Alex and I were saving his airline miles for a trip to Fiji. I figured we should use all his hardworking miles to get as far away from our everyday lives as possible. I pictured myself sipping cocktails in our oceanfront bure overlooking the seas of the south pacific. It was going to be the vacation of a lifetime. And then we had three children; and I remembered that I'm not a ba-jillion-aire or a celebrity whose life you read about in US Weekly. So instead...WE'RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD! And we're taking the children with us.

If you recall, this time last year we were gearing up for our first family trip to the Wonderful World of Disney. The vacation was such a hit that we decided to go back again this year...or that's kind of how it happened. Alex was asked to work a basketball tournament in Orlando the week of Thanksgiving. Over the years we've spent many Thanksgivings apart due to his work schedule. While I've grown accustomed to our holidays being cut short by business, I didn't know if I was up for a solo gig this year. One thing lead to another, and the next thing we knew Alex was on the phone with US Airways burning 340,000 miles to get the children and me to Disney. Although it meant putting my dreams of Fiji on the shelf for a while, the decision was a no-brainer. With Alex's "cast member" status we get free admission to the parks and we can all get cozy, hostel-style and cram ourselves into his fancy hotel room (fancy for Orlando, FL anyway).

I may regret this all on night four of sleeping in the same room with our exhausted children during one of Disney's busiest weeks of the year. But, then again, it is the happiest place on earth. Cue the music...When you wish upon a star...


look of the week

Yes, dear readers, I am still here (or there). The past two weeks have been busy as I adjust to my new working life as a part-time teacher and full-time mom. I used to think I would have all this free time on my hands when Scout started kindergarten and Tillie was in preschool. All that imagined "free time" has turned into planning for classes and grading papers (along with school drop-offs, PTA meetings, cooking dinners and doing the laundry and helping with homework and shuffling the kids between soccer and piano...and all those other chores busy moms like to remind you they are constantly juggling). Honestly, though, I don't know how full-time working moms manage this shuffle every day.

And then there's Sweet T. Miss Tillie has quite the personality, and that personality has been shining like a bright star this week. A bright star that came down to earth and scorched my ivory skin. She is a hot-headed little three--excuse me, three and a-half--year-old who insists on getting her way. Even when that means squealing at the top of her lungs and flailing her body about. I lost count of the temper tantrums as the ringing in my ears kept me dizzy all day, but I got a text message from her teacher saying "Tillie was great today!!!" at the exact moment the little lady was clinging to my body in hysterical tears because we were picking up her siblings from school. Maybe it's me. Needless to say, we're going through an adjustment period.


catcher defends

He didn't score any goals on Sunday but Catcher defended (like the true thinking man that he is), and even reminded his goalie where [on the field] he can and can not touch the ball with his hands.

For the fall season Catcher and several of his friends have embarked upon the world of Jr. Academy Soccer. Sure, it sounds fancy, but what it means is "we can charge you a bunch of money to have you think we're making soccer stars of your children." I'm kidding (sort of). The coaches are actually great; it's the parents who need to realize that their 7 year-old child is just a child. I'll save my soap box speech for another day. In the meantime, let's have fun, people. Call me when your son makes it to the World Cup. (Too harsh?)

I mean...look at these little guys. They are so cute!


scout scores

School started [check]; Labor Day has come and gone [check]; the air has chilled from a balmy 100 to a slightly-less balmy 90 [check]. Soccer season must be upon us.

This year Scout and her preschool BFF join a team of four boys as they tear up the brown, crunchy fields of North Austin's elementary schools on Saturday mornings. Although Scout scored two goals during her allotted 16 minutes of play, her favorite moment of the morning by far was running through the "tunnel" at the end of the game. I think she's in it for the snacks and tunnels.


poker face

A bit of friendly competition is always a good thing for the children. Yesterday morning these three card sharks put their skills to the test in a heated round of Crazy 8s. Although Tillie looks like she's taking an eye exam in one of the photos, that's her "Oh, man!" gesture when she draws a card she doesn't like. Scout's tactic is to distract her opponent by chatting him/her to death, and Catcher just wants to make sure everyone plays by the rules.


a mouse tale

We recently inherited an aged, out-of-tune piano that is currently sitting in our kitchen. With the piano came a piano bench, and with the piano bench came used and worn years' worth of piano books. This afternoon I had the bright idea of moving the piano bench to Catcher's room, where we keep the digital piano that the kids actually use for practicing (it has no bench of its own). This was the perfect opportunity to go through the music in the bench to see if there was anything worth keeping.

The Christmas books were a "yes," and Catcher found a song book with music from Superman and Star Wars (obvious yes). There were a couple random hymn books (no), and at the bottom of it all we found someone's old music bag. The bag was unzipped and in the corner there was a big ball of what appeared to be dust. Upon further inspection, however, and a strange smell accompanying our discovery, Catcher and I realized that ball of dust was actually a dead mouse. This is true. I saw its hollowed out eyes and its tiny rows of teeth. Catcher and I looked at each other in horror as, at the exact same time, we both figured out what we had stumbled upon. I dropped the bag back into the bench, and Catcher ran from the room.

As I was recovering from my shock--and also harboring a disposal plan in my head--Catcher paced around the dining room saying, "My stomach feels funny." I hear you, kid. My stomach felt funny, too. Thank goodness the critter was inside the bag, so I didn't have to look at him or sweep him into a dustpan with that dead face glaring at me. I'm giving myself the chills thinking about it now.

After the little mouse was properly disposed of in the garbage outside, I figured it was time to tell Catcher my other mouse story--the one where I cooked a mouse in the oven the first time I ever used the oven in the first apartment I rented in New York City. They say thing happen in threes, but I hope they don't mean random encounters with a dead mouse.


bring your daughter to work day

So here's the thing: next week I'm starting a part time job teaching at a private, college prep school that's associated with a local tennis academy. It's somewhat confusing when I try explaining it to people. Here's what you need to know 1) I'm not teaching tennis 2) I am teaching English and US History and 3) this is not your normal "College Prep" academic environment. Both classes I'm teaching have the same ten students who range in age from 13-15 (or grades 8-10), so that means they were all born in the 21st century. These students are amazing athletes with phenomenal grit, determination and competitive spirits. And they also spend a lot of time with each other and know one another very well, so I'm the odd girl out.

Here's a great way to not impress your class during student orientation: bring along your three year-old daughter who clings to your legs and buries her head in your thighs screaming "No Mommy! No Mommy!" while you're trying to introduce yourself and get through the course syllabus. That happened. And because I'm teaching these--same ten--students two classes, I had the pleasure of presenting back-to-back orientations. I was definitely getting looks, and I'm sure the helicopter parents attached to these student-athletes heard all about it at dinner tonight. There will probably be a pinecone on my chair and a jar of spiders in my cubby when our first class meets next Wednesday.