Yellowstone Under Canvas – Glamping at It’s Finest

Those that know me  know that “camping” for me means a standard view room in a value resort at Walt Disney World.  No room service?  That’s like being on Survivor with a group of people who can’t light the fire and don’t know how to cook rice!

When Jim suggested we make a stop at Yellowstone National Park on our way home from Seattle, I was excited!  I love Yellowstone, and I love my kids when they’re at Yellowstone.  But when he said we’d stay overnight, in a tent, where there are bears, I started thinking he’d lost his mind.  Obviously, the man was off his meds.

Then he showed me the pictures.  They call this “Glamping” – a luxury version of camping.  My first introduction to the place was this

Okay, talk to me.

The tents are set up cabin style.  You’ll have beds, rugs, drawers to store your clothes, and solar lights.  The deluxe tent also gives you a tipi tent with a private bathroom and shower (heated!!), a raised wood floor (will that save me from rattle snakes?), and a private patio.

We booked the “Sundowner”, which gives us a place to watch sunset that includes snacks and drinks – which, by the way, are not allowed at the campsite.  Bears.  Oh my.

I’m actually a little bit excited!  The kids are going to be thrilled – well, except Brighid, who refuses to turn in her girly girl card and hang in with us for the camping trip.

If I get eaten by wolves or coyotes or trampled by buffalo, I’m leaving my Cinderella Castle Suite bathrobe to the person who doesn’t say, “I told her so.”

Set in Stone – Summer Roadtrip 2012 is Finally Taking Shape!

Stone may not necessarily be the right word.  We have established a game plan, booked hotels, and projected where we’ll be when as we journey to Seattle to board the Disney Wonder for our cruise to Alaska!

The plan going out –

Leave June 21st – well, at least some of us.  Brighid and Eilis are going to fly out later due to work obligations (in Brighid’s case) and obligations not to have to endure a four day road trip with her crazy parents (Eilis’ case).  The plan has us leaving at some outrageous hour of the morning – like before Starbucks is even open.  Who does that?  We’ll drive like lunatics and end the first day in Racine, WI.

Day 2 – This is an interesting day.  North Dakota is our ultimate destination.  Did you know there really was a North Dakota?  Apparently, very few hotel chains knew.  We originally booked a Marriott in Fargo, but when Jim realized we wouldn’t be completely bleary eyed by the time we hit Fargo, he decided to bump us ahead to Bismarck.  Kelly Inn, Bismarck, ND – here we come!

Day 3 – Ummm, did I mention we want to be in Seattle in only four days?  By this day, I anticipate nerves will be fried.

After another wake up call at NoOneShouldBeUpThisEarlyUnlessTheyAreGoingToMakeTheDoughnuts o’clock will give us time to get to Missoula, Montana by just after dinner.  If we arrive earlier, we’ll do something touristy.  Is there anything to see in Missoula, MT?

Day 4 – My well rested, well relaxed older children will be arriving in Seattle around 10:30 AM.  We don’t expect to arrive until closer to dinner time.  I’ll probably take the time when we get there to do laundry, because everyone who has spent four straight days in a car wants to do laundry.

Of course, this plan is subject to change.  Well, except the doing laundry part.

I’m so glad our first day of the cruise is at sea.  My behind will be so sore, I won’t be able to sit up to see anything!

The Skinny on Why Our Kids Are Fat

I have always packed school lunches. I am not the best cook, so lunches are where my culinary excellence shows – dinosaur cut sandwiches, rosette strawberries, little melon balls.  I’m the Wolfgang Puck of the lunchbox set.

In September, we sent Eilis to public school for the first time.  In January, we sent Granuaile.  The schools have real cafeterias, not Burger King one day and Papa John’s the next – this is real, government regulated food.  So it’s better for them, right?  Michelle Obama wouldn’t let the school serve unhealthy lunches, would she?

Oh – and did I tell you this part?  Because my husband is disabled, we qualify for reduced price lunches.  The cost to feed my children lunch each day?  80 cents.  For both.

But wait, there’s more!

Granuaile’s school began a breakfast program!  This is a busy mom’s dream, right?  The kids can sleep in an extra 15 minutes, and I don’t have to scramble to get breakfast ready.  Bonus – Reduced price for breakfast?  40 cents.

I browse the menu each week when it comes out, and it looks like there are all sorts of healthy options.  There are salads, fruits, vegetables.  But the reality is that I’m not there when my kids go through the lunch line.  I hear the salads smell funky, or the vegetables taste bad.  And breakfast, where there are no options, feature things I’d never feed my kids.  Granuaile on Monday had PopTarts.  How is that healthy?  I’ll tell you the school answer – it’s a whole grain PopTart, and it has a serving of fruit inside.  Let’s just disregard the fact that the fruit is steeped in sugar and the whole grain is frosted.

And gym class – remember that?  I do, because as a fat kid, I hated it.  And one reason I hated it so much is that it was an every day thing.  EVERY DAY!!  Granuaile has PE once a week, and they don’t even ask them to dress in PE clothes – they just take them outside to play.  Eilis has it once a week, and the class time is so brief, I’m not even sure why they bother to make them change.

I’ve ranted on kids meals before.  Why, when you go to McDonald’s, is there no kids sized salad?  Because kids don’t want them, McDonald’s won’t sell them, and parents (especially in cash strapped times) are going to opt for the $1 double cheeseburger over the $4 healthy option.

We put televisions and computers in our kids’ rooms, expecting them to use them for homework or occasional entertainment, but when was the last time you saw a game on your street of kick ball or street hockey?  I don’t mean something organized by the school – I mean just random kids playing a game outside.  It doesn’t happen in my neighborhood.  We bought out kids a basketball net, and it was stolen out of our driveway.  I went through the neighborhood to see if I could find it, then convinced myself that it was a conspiracy of neighborhood families to steal it because my kids were outside, laughing, playing and having fun.  I’m pretty sure that’s not legal anymore.  It was a message to get my kids back where they belong – in front of an XBox game or on Club Penguin!

Commercials aimed at children don’t pitch fresh fruit and vegetables.  They pitch the things kids love and moms love to hate.  But I buy them.  You buy them.  How can you look at those tiny, pleading faces and walk past the ice cream aisle or the cookie display?  And places like Costco and Sam’s Club allow us to buy three boxes of cookies at one time – cheaper!

Did you know that less than 10% of parents seek treatment for their child’s obesity?  Why is that?  Do we not want to acknowledge our kids are fat?  Do we not want the doctor to point fingers at us?  Do we think it’s going to go away?

Time to step up, Moms and Dads.  If it’s too late to help ourselves, we have to do something to help our kids.

I think I’m going to go pack a school lunch.

 

Bryce Dallas Howard, You Are My Hero

I cannot tell you how many times I have nearly tossed my cookies (literally, threw my Oreos at a TV screen) when I see a rail thin celebrity doing an interview about getting her body back after having a baby.  As a mom who is still struggling to lose the baby weight from my first baby (although she’s only 249 months old, so cut me some slack), it makes me feel so inadequate that in a matter of weeks after the birth of a baby, I’m not in a size 0 pair of jeans.

Thank you, Bryce Dallas Howard.

I know there are celebrity followers who are going to say something nasty about this girl, but I want to just hug her.  She has spent the four months since welcoming her beautiful baby girl being a mom.  There’s no trainer turning up on her doorstep at the crack of dawn to help her work out while her private chef is whipping up low fat, low calorie protein shakes, gourmet soups and salads, and other starve yourself thin foods to help her get back to her svelte self.  And I totally love her for that.

I don’t personally know Bryce Dallas Howard (although, Bryce, hit me up, honey, anytime), and she may very well be struggling on levels I completely understand, I so admire her for coming out and about in her brand new mommy body.  This is what most moms look like four months after giving birth.  We’re tired from being up all night feeding new babies, and we probably order more take away food than would normally be healthy, but our focus is on our babies, not our bodies.

Bryce, you are so gorgeous – at this size, and every other size.  I can’t tell you how much better you make me feel about wanting to spend those first precious months with my baby and not my fitness trainer.

And if the time comes that you want to lose weight FOR YOU, cash in.  If Jessica Simpson can get $2 million from Weight Watchers, see what Jenny will do to top that.

Are YOU Mom Enough? Time Magazine Puts Themselves Back on the Map at Mom’s Expense

If you haven’t seen the Time Magazine cover yet, you’ve probably been on a remote desert island, with your head in the sand, in a cave, where you never see the light of day.  With one picture, Time Magazine has brought print media back in the public eye, after years of dwindling readership and lackluster subscription.  But who is the butt of this joke?

The article, which I won’t go into, regards attachment parenting, where extended breastfeeding is more common than among other “sects” of moms.  There are qualities of attachment parenting that I completely embrace, and my own children benefitted from co-sleeping and some of the other tenets subscribed to by parents who practice this type of parenting.

But I feel bashed.  Am I Mom enough?  I feel like this cover – and this article – is telling me that if my three year old was getting milk the old fashioned way (in a cup, with an Oreo), I was somehow failing as a Mom.

Let’s for a moment disregard the fact that I bathed my daughters, dressed them, held their hair back when they puked, wiped hinies on floors of places I was afraid to step on because potty emergencies  know no hygiene.  I’ve nursed them back to health from ear infections, strep throat, UTI, URI, and a whole slew of other medically disgusting initials.  I’ve sewed patches on a girl scout vest, stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to put finishing touches on a poster or a diorama, attended school plays, sat through dance recitals where my kid was the last class dancing, and driven hours to dance competitions.

But.

My oldest daughter was fed exclusively formula for her entire life.  My middle daughter was given breastmilk until she was only six months old.  My youngest daughter was only about three months old when she switched to formula.

And I feel like this article is trying to make me feel like I’m not Mom enough.

Well, damn.  I’m not sure I feel compelled to buy Time Magazine.  Now or later.

Mother’s Day, Keurig Style – A Single Cup Coffee Brewer Review

Yes, I know Mother’s Day is still a week away.  But if you know me, you will be well aware of my Starbucks addiction.  We’ve been considering making this purchase for months, and have browsed the coffee maker aisles of every store in South Jersey.  I almost bought one this morning at Target, but, as I have every other time, I walked out without one.

Then we went to Costco.  And there it was – the Keurig deal too great to walk away from.  So we took the plunge!  And tonight, for the first time, I made coffee!

Now, even if you know me, you may not know that despite  my frequent (sometimes twice daily) trips to Starbucks, I do not like coffee.  My drink always has extra pumps of coffee flavor killing syrup.  That was my biggest concern with the Keurig.

I have seen the light!

With the enormous variety of flavors, I was bound to find some that I liked, and in the variety packs that came with my purchase, I found a French Vanilla that was tasty.  I didn’t want to have to figure out the coffee maker and the milk foamer with company here, so I just added cold milk and some Splenda, and it was a reasonable facsimile of my beloved latte.  With a little practice, it will be perfect!

The machine was super easy to use, and I had coffee in a matter of seconds.  Costco had a great deal – the Keurig Platinum B70, 60 K – Cups, and a personal K – Cup reusable filter (for brewing your own coffee) for $149.99.  It was a great deal compared to the ones we looked at elsewhere.

I’ll probably post another review in a few weeks, just to let you know if I’ve been avoiding Starbucks in favor of my Keurig, but I can’t imagine needing to hit up the ‘Bucks once I become a pro at this Keurig stuff.

I’ll be saving so much money – it may mean more trips to Walt Disney World!