I'm Dreaming of the White Mountains…

So when dh and I decided not to vacation this year the biggest surrounding reason was due to “certain things” we were saving money for. Well, house aside, we aren’t saving for “those things” anymore, and the more I looked at our upcoming savings budget, the more I realized there was no reason we couldn’t afford at least a small vacation (i.e. Disney is unlikely but a short road trip could be ever so in). I also realized that this is the last year that MLM will get in free to some of the places we’ve had on our wish list, namely Storyland in NH (So vacationing this year could save us money? Huh?).

So I went about pricing the trip to see what it would come to (because if I don’t have something major to plan at all times I start feeling useless and boring). Originally I was looking in the fall, say October, thinking it would be cheaper than the summer and less crowded with OPC (Other People’s Children), but in the White Mountains Area it seems that fall is actually more expensive than summer for lodging (maybe for cost of heating reasons?) and reminded myself that MLM might enjoy OPC. Crazy, I know.

So anyway, the area we were looking at in NH is supremely expensive so I started looking into campgrounds that have cabins (I’m not up  for tenting it with a two year old, sorry) since I had no idea if that would be a cheaper option or not and I came across this: The prices for their motel were very inexpensive compared to everything else I’d looked at in the area and it looks FUN. See: new awesome looking pool, family friendly events all the freaking time, picture perfect vacation for camp loving husband and playground loving toddler (and “activities loving nerdy momma”). This “resort” as they call it looks like a vacation in and of itself.

Then looking at the price range throughout the year I realized that the October rates (and major weekends throughout the year) were twice as expensive as even September or August. Given that the rates at Storyland are $24 per person all year, there is no other major advantage to going in October now. August may even be prefferable because Storyland at least will be open all week in August, but weekends only starting in September (Are you all asleep yet? WAKE UP! hehe j/k you can go back to snoozin’ sleep heads).

Another drool worthy feature of this area is Santa’s Village, where, again, the rates are around $25 per person and again Michael would be free this year (we’re just cashing in with this 2 year old) – so in amusement park tickets alone we’ll save $50 going this year and by going in late summer / early fall we’ll save half the cost of lodging. So I’m starting to come to the conclusion that a trip this year might be a good idea and that waiting until October might not make any sense whatsoever. Word.

Anyone else taking a vacation this year? If so, where are you headed?

Signs of Affection

Valentines Flowers, originally uploaded by jennifereggleston.

I’m not normally a flower person – I don’t necessarily like the idea of giving someone flowers which inevitably die – especially if they would have lived in the ground otherwise. I mean I get that you should enjoy things, but I guess in an ideal world, when we have our own home, I’d prefer flowers I can plant in my garden, which I will then magically know how to upkeep.

But I was thrilled this Valentine’s Day when my husband brought home a gorgeous bouquet of pretty pink tulips and I decided that if I took a few pictures they could essentially “live on” indefinitely. The first few pictures were kind of blah, just a picture of a flower and ugh, my messy apartment was in it, so I decided to get closer…. and closer… until I came up with this. And I just love it. It’s my intention to do something like this with all flowers given to me from now on.

Things My Son Likes To Wear on His Head

So this morning I decided on the whim to take my son to the library, because I was craving something new to dive into after I finish Jane Austen in Scarsdale ( hopefully soon ::crosses fingers:: ). This post isn’t really about the library though – what I’m about to tell you happened in the library parking lot, on the way home after checking out The Sweet Far Thing by Libba Bray and The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot (because this growned ass woman has an obsession with young adult novels – deal with it).

We’d gotten ourselves into the car with little issue – he even climbed in himself for the first time like a big kid or something. I’d literally just turned the key when he began hooting and howling like a banshee. I turned around to see if he’d dropped his beloved toy of the moment and found to my surprise that he had somehow gotten his head stuck in a toilet. Or rather a Toilet Training Seat we bought a month or so back to keep in the car when we actually begin potty training – you know, a quick fix for pottying on the go when your tush is too small to prevent falling in.

Since my adorable two year old’s tush has not yet met this cute little seat, we haven’t forced him to stop playing with it when we’re taking a drive somewhere – I figure if he wants to make friends, for now, it won’t hurt him. Apparently I was wrong. There he was in all his glory, with an original potty hat, that he couldn’t get off. And he was not happy!

I struggled for quite some time, trying to angle it so it might slide off without hurting him (which he not too happily informed me I was failing at), hoping desperately that we wouldn’t have to drive to the ER and explain our situation to strangers (although truth be told I was also considering driving down the street to my husband’s office so he could share in the moment – and I might have except I didn’t really want to drive around with a toilet on my son’s head – it just didn’t seem like a safe idea in the event we got into an accident… yeah…).

Well by the grace of god I managed to get the darned thing off his head without ripping his scalp off and all was well. Except when I then took the seat away for the drive he was LIVID. The crazy loon still wanted to play with his beloved potty even after all that and could not be convinced as to why it wasn’t okay! Seriously?

So that’s my story – I must say if I hadn’t gotten two fun new books to read out of this situation it would have been a pretty miserable waste of an outing, so, thank god for books, if I do say so myself. And I do.

Top 10 Imaginary Family Vacations

This year we’ve opted not to take a vacation in an effort to save some well needed moolah – but that doesn’t stop a woman from dreaming – if we were taking a vacation and money was no object, these are the places I’d most like to go, probably in no particular order:

1. Sesame Place – located in Pennsylvania, though a bit expensive this park offers my son what few other amusement parks will – Elmo – it’s also in the same state as Amish Country and Hershey Park, already tried and true favorites for our family.

2. Disney’s Fort Wilderness – It combines the magic of Disney with my dH’s love of camping and wilderness – and it’s on the cheap side as far as Disney is concerned, at least if you use the campsite instead of the cabin – we’ve talked about renting an RV if we do this and making a big trip of it, with stops along the way to Florida.

3. Storyland – Located in New Hampshire this will probably be our next major vacation. Where a ride in a pumpkin coach, an antique car, or a pirate ship are only just the beginning – this one seems perfect for a toddler or preschooler and I really can not wait. Talk about bringing childhood storybook favorites to life!

4. The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden – Right in Springfield, MA – This one may have to wait until my son’s a bit older, the trip would involve walking through a park filled with bronze statues of Seuss characters and trips to the local Springfield museums of science, arts, and history – a ridiculously good deal where one low price gets you admission to all four museums. I’m a nerd and this all sounds so great to me, but again, I think my 2 year old is still too young to appreciate this one.

5. Beaches Resorts – If you are really willing to shell out some cash you can get a real deal – a Caribbean vacation WITH Elmo, and the other Sesame characters – this trip is drool worthy and amazing and again, expensive. Expect to pay $3,000-5,000. But it is all inclusive (mostly) so this may make it a good deal if you can afford it.

6. Disney Cruise – While we’re dreaming a Disney Cruise, or heck any cruise would be fun, too. I’ve never done the cruise thing and while truth be told, the prospect of a cruise gives me an untold number of things to worry about, it also sounds like a lot of fun – assuming I can get the whole Titanic thing out of my mind.

7. Italy – We are dreaming right? I’ve been out of the US once, to see my grandfather in Germany and traveling Europe has always held infinite appeal to me – Italy seems like it would be up there at the top of my list. I’d definitely go in Spring or Fall when the weather is optimal and probably prices are better since most people do big vacations in the summer.

8. Niagara Falls – Preferably in Canada since again, I’ve never been. I’d also probably want to go to Jellystone Park since I’m a mom and all – it looks like a really cute idea for kids and again we could combine camping with the whole shebang.

9. The Grand Canyon – Doesn’t everyone need to go to the Grand Canyon? At least once? And again, how have I never done this? I am seriously lacking in the travel department, despite my constant wanderlust and family history of moving once every 2.5 years or so.

10. Mohegan Sun – I’m not a big gambler – I don’t buy lottery tickets or bet on races, but I feel as a grown assed woman, I aught to go to a casino someday and Mohegan Sun after a bit of research seems like a clear winner. Possibly a good just me and husband vacation we could spend a few minutes in the casino and then go see a good show and maybe pamper ourselves with some spa and pool time and eat some good food while we’re there.

Oh The Thinks You Can Think: Seussical: The Musical

Yesterday, as most of you know, was Father’s Day. You may not know that it was also the day of the final performance of Central Mass OnStage‘s production of Seussical: The Musical. And all of this is relevant because, for me, it was also my first time seeing my father perform on stage – talk about a Father’s Day treat!

My father and I have always been fans of the theater – as an English major, of course the best things for me were always the intricacies of the plot lines, songs, script and basically just losing myself in a good story that happened to be right in front of my eyes for a change. My father, who has done a lot of woodworking, has always been fascinated with the set design and not too long ago, after years of saying, “I wonder how they built that,” he joined the ranks of Central Mass On Stage as a set designer. Meanwhile, I spent college getting my kicks in reviewing plays for my school newspaper and thus, we were both happy.

Then this year he really knocked my socks off – he told me he’d auditioned for Seussical a musical based on the works of Dr. Seuss, and he was going to be in the play! I’d never known acting held any appeal for him, so you can imagine I was surprised and elated! My father is a man who never ceases to amaze me, he’s proved to me countless times that anything is possible, with time and hard work. It always amazes me the things we can do when we put our minds to it (oh the thinks you can think) – and it really is never too late to try something you’ve always wanted to do (like approaching your long time crush of an elephant). So it was truly fitting that his acting debut be in Seussical, a musical which seemed to frequently announce that “anything’s possible” along with the general theme of learning to believe in yourself and the world around you.

Seussical was in a word, outstanding. The cast was incredible – from the big parts like the Cat in the Hat, played by Brian Scannell, to the little parts like young Paul Farrell who played a tiny elephant bird hatched by Horton the Elephant (Jim Catapano) for the bird, Mayzie (played by Donna Williams) at the tail end of the play. My favorite characters were probably Gertrude McFuzz (played by Stephanie Sarkisian) who really brought to life the story of Gertrude, which I only just recently began reading to my own son; and of course my father, who played a Who from the Whoville military who once dared to have an opinion.

The show tells a story of love, a story of war (over toast!), a story of families, and again, a story of believing. The beloved characters of Dr. Seuss came to life that afternoon to teach (or re-teach) me and the rest of the audience lessons in life with a classic Seuss-like humor and relive some of our favorite stories, and maybe some new ones, too. They made me laugh (a lot) and nearly made me cry a few times as well.

After the play I had a chance to meet some of the cast members and got a peek into the life behind the scenes of Central Mass OnStage. They are a great group of people with a real family oriented mentality. As their website will tell you, “the main goal of CMO is to have fun while providing the whole family with something they can do together… For over 25 years Central Mass Onstage has been bringing families of all shapes and sizes together.” They really are an incredible group of people, giving numerous opportunities to people of all ages and backgrounds. I feel privileged in knowing them and proud of my father for being a part of such a great group of thespians.

Next up for CMO will be the production of Life With Father, which according to Wikipedia, “Clarence Day wrote humorously about his father, Clarence “Clare” Day senior to portray a rambunctious, overburdened Wall Street broker who demands that everything from his family should be just so. The more he rails against his staff, his cook, his wife, his horse, salesmen, holidays, his children and the inability of the world to live up to his impossible standards, the more comical and lovable he becomes to his own family who love him despite it all.”

Favorite Moments from Father’s Day Weekend

This weekend was a large, hectic, busy blur that left me more exhausted than the Friday I woke up to it. It began with a long overdue date night in which my husband and I went to see the new Indiana Jones movie and ended with me snuggled on the comfiest chair in the apartment watching the latest disc of Bones that we received via Netflix the day prior. Sounds pretty relaxed and cozy huh? Yeah I haven’t mentioned the whirlwind in the middle – a wedding in RI, the fastest grocery shopping trip of our lives, and the strangest Fathers Day I’ve ever had.

But I won’t bore you with my whining about things that went bad, no for this blog, I will focus on the really really good – my favorite moments from the weekend – I bet there were more than I realize as I type this.

These are in no particular order, at least not intentionally:

1. The yummiest salad I’ve ever had was enjoyed at Uno’s Chicago Grill – behold the GORGONZOLA WALNUT SIDE SALAD: Mixed lettuces, tomato, red onion,  cucumber, walnuts,  Gorgonzola and croutons with a blueberry pomegranate  vinaigrette drizzled on top. You know it’s a good meal when the entree comes and I don’t immediately abandon the salad that I was somehow possessed to order in spite of previous good judgment. This salad was delicious!

2. Finding that there were movies on this planet that my husband has seen and I have not. A serious strange anomaly that rarely occurs. I took dh to see the new Indiana Jones movie, in spite of never having seen the others (didn’t even know for sure how many there were) and found I loved it, and my husband demanded that I find a chance to watch the first three movies with him. I happily agreed and look forward to it. A lovely 40 % off coupon from Borders then magically gave us the perfect excuse to buy the box set for a steal of a price that very night. The coupon was one I’d read about a week before and forgotten about until 1 hour before it expired – what are the odds?

3. Chasing two adorable toddlers around the Fort Wetherill State Park in RI as one of my long time besties exchanged the vows of marriage on one of the most gorgeous days of the month. Perfect.

4. Seeing my father perform on stage for the first time (at least that I’m aware of) on Father’s Day – I was so proud of him and as a fringe benefit got to see an amazing musical and later meet the cast and crew of the Central Mass Onstage – a group my dad’s been doing behind the scenes work with for a while now and finally decided to take the plunge and audition for a show – and not just any show, but Seussical the Musical. I watched with my aunt (his big sister) and her family and we had a great time catching up and sharing in my dad’s big moment together. Again, way more on this later.

And that’s it. For once I won’t try to think up a 5th favorite moment just to make it an even list – these were the top of the crust for this weekend which will go down in history as a good one, an exhausting one, and a first in many ways.

People Say We Monkey Around

Just Monkeying Around, originally uploaded by um me.

On Mother’s Day this year, my husband took me to Roger Williams Zoo in RI (moms got in half off with a child!) – the weather was gorgeous and so was my son. We got him this cute green hat (because of the sun) and this cute orange monkey because even though my husband and I have seen a million stuffed animals that velcro at the hands and feet, my two year old – this is his first one ever! And he was amazed! And it’s bright orange! Aren’t we clever?

My Favorite Author: Janet Evanovich

Man I love books – If I could live, breath, eat and sleep books I might. I wouldn’t marry a book, but I am married to another book lover so that’s pretty good, too. So what book or books do I want to talk about today? I want to talk about Janet Evanovich, whose newest book in the Stephenie Plum series, Fearless Fourteen comes out JUNE 17.

I began reading the Plum series shortly after graduating college and getting laid off from my first out of college job (good times) – ironically, the series begins with Plum getting fired from her job as a lingerie buyer in Jersey and embarking on the fun life of a bounty hunter (almost as much fun as the life of a SAHM, am I right?), while trying to get the rest of her life, love life included, in order.

Evanovich began writing this series in the mid 90’s after spending several years writing romance novels (which admittedly are not as good as her Plum series but ARE fun fluff reading if you need a fix in between Plums hitting the shelf). Over the years she’s managed to keep things fresh and new, and with the times without feeling forced. She keeps the world’s hottest love triangle from getting stale and keeps Plum always, always relateable to the real women of the world, even while she’s out fighting crime like a bad ass.

I’m a pretty big fan you could say. As a woman, I relate to Stephanie Plum a lot – her imperfections and quirks remind you that we’re all human, we’re all figuring this out as we go. As a writer, I admire Evanovich’s style – she’s found a formula that WORKS for her and she’s good at keeping that from feeling forced or sell out-ish. She’s even written a book about writing that I just loved. It makes me feel like someday I might actually write something of worth and figure out how to do it well. She is a legend for me and just fantastic.

My point? If you haven’t given this series a chance yet, do it! Do it now!

Top 10 Books Read This Year (so far…)

So far this year I’ve read almost 30 books – my goal was to make it to 50 by the end of the year and I’m thinking that won’t be much of a problem. So what have my favorite books been so far? Well, let’s see…

10. Masquerade by Melissa De La Cruz ( finished April 30 ) This is the sequel to the first book in a new series, the first book is called Blue Bloods and okay yes it’s a teen vampire novel, but it’s so much more – it’s about angels and demons and romance and history – it has a lot of intriguing takes on New England history and more. Just a yummy yummy novel, even when it’s being terribly teen cliched.

9. Extras by Scott Westerfeld ( finished March 30 ) The fourth book in what was intended to be a 3 book series, this is the final installment of the Uglies trilogy – a sort of “so what happened next?” for all the readers who couldn’t put Tally Youngblood and her world behind them – it steps forward a few years from the close of Specials and shows you how much Tally’s actions really did change the world and how much they didn’t. It took awhile to get used to a new main character, but it was interesting to see the legend they had turned Tally into in this society, and how false it was from actual truth. If you loved the trilogy, you’ll devour this one.

8. So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld ( Finished April 8 ) Same author as the Tally Youngblood series but totally different world, plot, concept – but Westerfeld’s ideas and writing style are just so intriguing and well done that this short book was superb – a look at the world of marketing and what’s “cool” – I really really enjoyed it.

7. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen ( Finished January 4 ) A surprising gem in a sea of trendy young adult fare, this novel begins in 1899 at a funeral, and also ends with a funeral but is nothing you’ll expect – the novel reads like a mystery novel and also a romance novel with very Austen-esque themes of family and expectations and it will knock your socks off. I am eagerly waiting to read the next in the series, Rumors.

6. Trickster’s Choice by Tamora Pierce (& Queen) ( finished April 27 ) I list these both together because I read them in quick succession – this was different than a lot of the young adult books I’d been reading in that it is part of a much bigger thing – a varied series of sorts by Tamora Pierce and I seem to have started at the end so to speak, but still these two installments were so good and so timeless in their themes and yet so obviously dated – I intend to read the rest of the books in this series soon. It is full of fighting, wars, racial tension, gods and goddesses, magic, family, love, slavery and more…

5. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray ( Finished February 20 ) My friends and I are obsessed with this series, which we admittedly caught on to awfully late in the game – the first installment of the Gemma Doyle trilogy tells a story of secret societies, witch craft, magic, and another turn of the 19th century mystery – it has it all – and despite it’s “age” it’s very current – another novel that shows the more things change, the more they stay the same…

4. Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich ( finished March 25 ) I am an avid Stephanie Plum fanatic and as far as I’m concerned this may have been her best Plum book to date. I love all of her current events references – the cable company charade as well as a million other things I can’t remember anymore were fantastic. It was very now, very current, very good. The Morelli / Ranger thing manages to continue without feeling stale – ah, I just can’t say enough. It was terrific. Can’t wait for fourteen!

3. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philipa Gregory ( finished March 18 ) I fell in love with Tudor England and Philipa Gregory after reading this novel and waited with baited breath for the movie which inevitably disappointed me. This book was so amazingly good – better with every chapter, every added detail to this historical masterpiece. I don’t know who I felt for more, Anne Boleyn or Katharine of Aragon but this book was just so good words can’t even describe – if you have a chance to read it, please, please do.

2. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde ( finished YESTERDAY June 9, 2008 ) Obviously being the second best book I’ve read this year it was pretty good. This book was just fantastic in so many ways – the english major in me drooled and laughed my way through the entire book. It took me awhile to read it, just because the plot was a bit complicated – Fforde creates his own world within the confines of this great book, and it took me awhile to get used to the swing of things, but now I’m eagerly awaiting the next book in this series!
annnnnnnd

#1 book read this year is: is actually a series, a very well known series some of you may have heard of…

The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket ( finished series March 8 ) I can’t say enough amazing things about this series – the English major in me just drooled over the entire series – I think it’s amazing how he introduces new vocabulary to his readers without making you feel like you’re doing homework – I can honestly say I’ve learned several new words and phrases after reading this phenomenal story and I was in love every page of the way with the weaving of his web of wonder. I recommend this series to anyone.

Silly Songs Sunday

When I was in college I majored in English: Writing and Communications, which means I took a lot of writing courses, my favorite always being creative writing courses if only because the poems that I always seemed to write in class when I was supposed to be listening to lectures, I could then TURN IN for a grade! How genius! Some of my favorite poems, and often the best recieved by my professors were written in just this way, and were often rather silly in their subjet manner. My top three favorite silly poems were about : a pigeon, a wooden cork that accidentally fell INTO the wine bottle instead of out, and a girl in class that nobody liked. I’m not sure if anybody else knew that those were the actual subjects of the poetry, but it managed to give me a laugh.

Anyway, without further adieu, my first Silly Song Sunday will feature the first poem mentioned:

Pigeon-holed.

(the story of a pigeon who almost flew into a window, but didn’t

and apparently I was the only person who noticed)

Pigeon-holed
I glanced up
and saw you
-sneaky pilgrim-
fluttering so closely, I
felt aflutter, too
worried you
might fall through,
but you
ascended safely
to the nearest ledge
and now you’ve left.
and I’ve left, too.