Monday, October 5, 2015

Disney 2016

We took a family vacation in June of 2013. It was our first time to Disney World!

I had been to Disney when I was 5 - 1 day at Magic Kingdom with my mom. And I had been in Sept of 2012 for a conference - which made me realize that we needed to come as a family.

And while the trip wasn't without times of frustration and whining, it was really a great week of family fun.

We've been trying to figure out the best time to go back. We were thinking of going when school got out this year but all the crowd tracking websites I obsess over indicated that crowds would be pretty high at that time in 2016 (Star Wars Weekends and unofficial Gay Days are going to overlap).

On a whim, I checked the dates for our spring break. And they look good!

So the family is going back to Disney!

And we haven't told the kids. Last time, we told them from the moment I started planning. It was a family mission. This time... I think we might want to save it for Christmas. Or maybe not even tell them until it's time to go!

I have to admit that I get caught up in over planning when it comes to Disney. We have a subscription to Touring Plans and I will tweak plans for each park over and over and over again as we approach trip time. I have made spreadsheets with info on the resort, dining options, which park we will visit on which day. I am eager to apply the learning from our first trip there - and the learning Jeff and I did when we went without the kids last year (and they still don't know- shhh!). But all my over planning means I can let go once we get there. Plus, over planning now just keeps me excited for it!!

And we wouldn't do this planning without Hi Ho Vacations and our awesome travel agent, Katie!! All I had to do was choose dates and resorts. She put together the quotes for me. Then I could easily choose what we wanted. Next, because we booked right before the 180 day window, I went ahead and figured out dining and she made all the calls/pinged the website/got us the reservations we wanted - I had a message this morning that we got everything we requested!

The focus on the next 6 months will be on the budget (because we use Hi Ho, I can make payments to them instead of having to pay everything up front), we will be pushing Disney movies at home, and it's time to get more fosued on being able to walk and walk and walk! Time to put together a new Disney Training Plan!

And if there are any gift opportunities coming up... Disney gift cards are VERY welcome! Or cash towards the trip. Also VERY welcome. Just don't tell the kids why you're giving them a Disney gift card until Christmas, please!!

I think the over planning also helps me justify the cost of a vacation. Vacations cost money. No matter where we go - a weekend just a few hours away, a week a few more hours away, a full blown Disney vacation - it's always going to cost money. That's the stressful part for me. But the planning, knowing the fun and memories and experiences we will have together... that makes the expense worthwhile.

Be prepared - I'm in Disney focused mode for the 6 months!!

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Friday, September 18, 2015

Kidz Bop 29 and 30

My kids are big fans of Kidz Bop.

We listen to the radio sometimes. But like a lot of us, my kids prefer to not chance what may or may not be on the radio. They like to choose the music they're going to dance and sing to!

Kidz Bop 29 was our summer jam:

Shut Up And Dance is probably our favorite song. Well, Teagan would disagree. She's a huge fan of Sugar. But Zach and I totally get down to Shut Up And Dance!

Kidz Bop 30 is going to be released soon! Just the other day, walking through Target, Teagan asked if 30 had come out yet. And then she wondered how long Kidz Bop would go on. She hopes they're still around when she has kids!

Teagan is my child who is very sensitive to what is and is not appropriate. She gets very uncomfortable when friends show her videos on YouTube that she thinks are too mature or too violent.

I want to hold on to that sense in her for as long as I possibly can.

If she prefers the "cleaned up" versions of the popular songs, I am all for it.

Kidz Bop 30 will be released Oct 16!!  I'm eager to hear Kidz Bop very first original song - Make Some Noise! The kids will be very excited - this album has a lot of their current faves on it. Bad Blood, Fight Song, and Watch Me.

All opinions are my own. I am provided with free copies of these CD's. 

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Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Cat Advice from Morris the Cat! #MorrisFeeds

Move over, Dear Abby... 9Lives' Morris the Cat is here to reveal advice on the issues you really care about, like yarn unspooling, feather chasing, and more. 
A bona fide celebricat since he began doing commercials in the 1970s, America’s favorite ‘charmingly choosy’ feline has launched a “Dear Morris” column to help cats and humans alike make the most out of playtime. What’s more, Morris is also giving Eternal Lizdom readers the chance to win a one-of-a-kind, customized 9Lives bean bag toss game at his website:

From Morris’ Mailbox:

Dear Morris,
I’ll be the first one to tell you I’m a playful guy. I like yarn, stuffed mice, boxes… you name it. But my human is never in the mood. Something about ‘work’ or ‘being tired,’ blah, blah, blah… meow, meow, meow. I try to tell her that a piece of string doesn’t wiggle itself! Alas, since my human will not play with me, I’ve taken to reading Proust… and trying to catch my own tail.
Furry and Frustrated
Dear Furry and Frustrated,
I’ve seen your case all too many times. Humans are often tempted to blame their unplayful attitude on ‘being too busy,’ but that’s rarely true. (Even the president plays golf!) What many humans don’t realize is that we cats don’t require a long, drawn-out play period. We like small bouts of play interspersed with two of our other favorite activities, resting and napping. So gently remind your human with a head-boop or a soft meow that you’re ready for some action—she can start off slow with Level 1 of my “Official Guide to Amusement, Entertainment, Playtime & More”( Also, tell your human to be on the lookout for when your tail is in an inverted “U” shape (like in the photo below). That’s a tell-tail sign (get it?!) that she should bring out the toys. Remember, fun is contagious... once your human sees what a blast you're having, she'll likely take some more time to enjoy herself as well.
Yours truly,
Morris the Cat
Dear Morris,
I recently went to the pet store and came back with tons of new toys for my cat, Marvin. I was so excited to share some quality playtime with him that I could hardly wait for him to eat dinner! After he finished his 9Lives Plus Care (he’s a huge fan, by the way), I started waving his new toys around, but he just stared at me blankly—I got zip, zero, zilch! Morris, where did I go wrong? Does Marvin not like playing… or worse, does he not like me??
Thank you,
Confused in the Catskills
Dear Confused in the Catskills,
You’ve got nothing to worry about. I’m sure Marvin loves playing and I know he loves you. This was merely an instance of poor timing. You see, cats are often reluctant to play after mealtime. No one wants to jump around on a full stomach... even if you’re eating healthy with 9Lives Plus Care! The best time to play with Marvin is after he’s had a nice, long nap, and if he loves napping as much as I do, you’ll have many opportunities! And remember to make time for fun human games as well, like checkers, cards—or my personal favorite—cat's cradle. The two of you will have mastered Level 5 of my “Official Guide” in no time. 
Yours truly,
Morris the Cat
Dear Morris,
I’ve always considered myself a “cat’s cat.” I’m a champion napper, an expert invisible bug chaser, and my hairballs? I can cough one so big you could use it as a toupee. That’s why I’m so distressed by what I’m about to tell you: I’ve never once caught that feather that dangles on the end of a stick. I see it, I lunge for it, and just when I think it’s within paw’s reach, it darts away again. It frankly has me questioning my cathood. What should I do?
Purr-plexed and Paw-ndering
Dear Purr-plexed and Paw-ndering,
It’s not your fault you haven’t caught the feather. What I’m about to say may come as a shock… there is a human on the other end of that feather, manipulating it like a marionette. It’s a conspiracy of gigantic proportions. You’ve never caught the feather because your human has never let you. If any of you humans out there are reading, please let your four-legged friends ‘win’ some of the time. It's great to have a competitive streak playing a board game or on the ball court, but let us felines experience the sweet taste of victory (it actually tastes a lot like 9Lives). Besides, catching the feather, ball, or string will get your cat one step closer to their ultimate goal: world domination.
Yours truly,
Morris the Cat
For more Morris tips, including his “Official Guide to Amusement, Entertainment, Playtime & More,” go to And, if you tweet #MorrisFeeds, Morris will donate a bowl of delicious 9Lives cat food to a hungry kitty at the ASPCA.

This is a sponsored post. I don't have a cat due to allergies but I do love cats just the same. 9 Lives sends me cat food when I share these posts and I donate that food to local rescue groups in the Indianapolis area. Plus, the posts really are fun!

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Saturday, September 5, 2015

I'm Broken.

Learned a tough lesson today.

We've been considering getting a dog for several months now. We've had a few serious attempts. But today, we found a very well suited dog for us. Small, laid back, playful at time but mostly just wants cuddles.

And when it was time to make the decision and make the commitment - I couldn't do it.

It tore me apart to finally realize what my problem has been.

I haven't really mourned or healed from losing my Sassy. Even after 2 years.

If you aren't an animal person, this might not make sense to you. Heck, I am an animal person and this has totally surprised me.

We picked this 6 year old little chihuahua mix named Bandit. He is an amazing little dog and would be a great fit for our family. This was the perfect logistical time- a long holiday weekend to spend a lot of time at home with him as he adjusts to us.

We were ready to do it. We were going to hit the bank for cash for his adoption fee and then the pet store for basic supplies. And something clutched my heart, tightly, and wouldn't let go.

And I was frustrated because I couldn't place the feeling. I didn't know where this anxiety was coming from.

It hit me.

I'm afraid to love another dog because I know I will face his death. And I miss Sassy. More than I've admitted to myself. And I just can't open my heart right now. Not until I really can let her go.

Sassy was my first dog. I got her in late 1998, she was 8 weeks old. She went through my first marriage, my divorce, my remarriage, the births of our babies, the sadness of our miscarriage, multiple moves. She was my baby for 16 years. And she still owns my heart.

She was small and had a little bit of a fiesty streak to her - just enough sassiness to let you know when she wasn't happy. She won the heart of any person who met her. People afraid of dogs weren't afraid of her. She could sense if someone had pain - she would have been a great therapy dog.

And not having her - and now realizing how much I miss her and loved her and never really grieved when she passed - I am feeling this hole in my heart and it is painful.

I'm crying big sad tears a lot today. I feel like a failure as a mom because I set my kids up for the excitement of finally having a dog.

But realizing that I've locked away this sadness... is making me realize that I've had a lot of stuff locked away. I've put up some serious walls around my heart. And I need to pull them down and feel stuff in big ways like I used to.

Here's the amazing thing about this hard and sad day.

There is love and compassion and support streaming from my kids. Teagan has cried. She is heart broken and disappointed. But more than that, she is feeling my sadness and I am feeling hers. I hate that this is hurting her and I am determined that I will fix it.

Teagan has been so brave and loving and tender. To me. It's been incredible. She has every reason to be mad at me, to stomp and get angry and pitch a fit. But instead, we are holding hands and hugging and staying close.

Zach has been sad. But he has also brought his sense of humor in at appropriate times to bring joy and laughter to our tears.

Jeff has been my rock. He has been the voice of reason - even if, like me, he didn't know what the reason was.

Our time for a pet will come. But for now, we have each other and we are proving how strong we are, what love really means, and realizing our priorities.

I'm broken and need to fix it. And I am blessed with a family that will help me and will fill me and will love me through this.

I also have to give props to Heaven After Hell Rescue. Amazing volunteers that we really connected with and who helped us through the process. And staff who understood when we came in with tears and broken hearts. We made a cash donation to support their work. They understood and will hold on to our application and suggested maybe being foster parents when the time comes. If you feel so inclined, you can make a donation to support their work.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Blue Belt Motivation

It's been about 1 year since our family got involved in tae kwon do. We had thought we'd found a sport for Zach but it ended up being Teagan who took the plunge. We had met this TKD school at our local Farmer's Market on a day geared towards what the community has to offer kids. Zach broke a board and seemed really excited about it so we signed up both kids for a private lesson.

I was out of town, Jeff took them. They still both loved it. He didn't sign anything that day since I was out of town. When I got back home, I called to find out about pricing and was invited to an open house happening in just a couple of days. We went... and that's when Zach backed out. He realized that other people would be in class, other people would see him and that was just too far outside his comfort zone. But Teagan was still all in!

So for the next 2 months, we all went to class and fell in love with the school, the Masters, and everything Teagan was learning. In early November, I signed up for a free 4 weeks of classes.

And 4 weeks after that, the entire family became full on TKD students with a goal of becoming black belts.

It's really hard to quantify everything that I've learned in this past year - about myself, about my husband, about our family culture, about my kids, about TKD, about Korea.

And now we have finished the lower belt program. We are all "high belts" now and that carries additional responsibility.

And work.

It's been made clear that now that the family class is divided into low and high belt times (meaning you won't have low belts and high belts in class at the same time), the high belt family class will be harder. Because the expectation is higher. We have the foundation and now we have to work harder to learn higher level skills.

But here's the thing.

While I've certainly made the commitment to regular exercise - we attend class 3-4 times per week for a 50 minute workout that includes stretching and a lot of sweating and cardio activity - I haven't made any dietary changes.

I've lost a couple of pounds but not because I'm trying.

My flexibility has improved. I am seeing that I am stronger and more flexible because of the consistent exercise.

But I'm still fat and old and out of shape.

If I really want to excel as I continue to proceed through the belts, I have to find the motivation to start making some serious changes to my healthy living. I need to be active on my days off from TKD - walking a couple miles, finding a yoga class. I need to make smarter food choices. I need more fruits and veggies and less fast food drive thrus. I need to drink my morning coffee and then stick to water or unsweetened iced tea.

I know the change I need to make. I've done it before. I have a reason to do it - so I can become better at my sport.

But my willpower is still weak.

How to you carve out motivation???

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Finding My Place

I've been struggling with words lately. Which is really weird for somone who enjoys writing and sharing ideas and experiences. But I've been processing lots of "stuff" and sometimes writing helps with that. And sometimes writing is too daunting and I just have to keep experiencing before I can capture any of it with words.

Now don't get your hopes up. I haven't had some huge life altering event happen. Not in the way you might be thinking, anyway.

As you may know, several months ago, we left our church of 11 years. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I never imagined we would be "those people" who left a church family and I certainly never imagined it would be under the circumstances that it all played out under.

I still strongly believe in God's purpose in all of it.

Faith is a journey. I know that my purpose is foundationally the same. I've known my purpose for a long time - LOVE. The interesting thing is that how my purpose plays out is constantly changing.

In my very early years, I had some spiritual experiences that confirmed for me that God is real.

I was raised in a traditional and conservative faith (Missouri Synod Lutheran). I was taught the beliefs and I didn't ever have doubts. Until high school when I began to meet and know people outside of my faith base and I discovered that they were just... people. It didn't jive with what I believed, what I'd been taught. So I began to question things a bit.

I still knew God was real. But I didn't know much else. I went off to college and stopped going to church completely. I prayed. But not regularly. I wouldn't say it was a crisis of faith but it was my first time realizing that there was a huge and giant world out there that was colorful and diverse and that it somehow was all created by Him. My little 20 year old brain and heart didn't know how to handle that.

Then I became an "adult." It was time to really take charge of my own life and I began to feel a call to go back to church. I had several friends that attended a church in my area so I went a few times and liked it well enough. But life changed and it hadn't ever really felt like "home." So I stopped going.

I met Jeff. We got married. We didn't go to church. It wasn't a thing we even really talked about.

And then we had a miscarriage. And I needed church. I needed a place to be close to God in a formal way, in a way that I would find comforting. And God provided that place. And we stayed there and grew there and started a family in this place.

In some ways, I really value the people who start in one church or in one tradition and continue on with it. But I also know my heart has always been very broad. I thrive on experiencing culture and food and music and faith from other people and places. I find ways of doing that - through food and festivals and other experiences.

It's an interesting thing to have left the church I called home for 11 years. I have had to do some really intense healing. There was damage and hurt - on all sides. But there is also just the weirdness of not being around the people you've seen every week for the past many years. People you've become familiar with, that you've called friends, that you've dined with week after week. I knew that some people would fade away. I knew I'd have to work harder to maintain some relationships.

Stepping into a new church and considering new relationships, building a brand new family, finding a new place in the culture... there are Sundays that I wake up and just don't want to face it. It's hard. And maybe that was a small component of why I needed to leave where I'd been - I was becoming complacent and too comfortable. God needs us to be uncomfortable in order to grow. I never dreamed He'd ask me to become uncomfortable in this way but He's made it clear this is His plan.

We have found a place that is starting to feel more and more comfortable. A place where my kids are eager to attend and I feel confident that they will be guided in faith education in a way that I fully support. A place where I am getting completely filled with my desire for artistic and hippy-dippy lovey stuff. A place where Jeff can ask questions, lots of questions, and express doubts and he's finding that he's not alone, others have questions, and there are people who have even bigger questions than him - and that questions and doubts, especially among the youth/teens - isn't just encouraged but actually embraced.

My heart feels like it's gone from being broken to being mended and now it's cracking OPEN. I feel like I'm starting to find pieces of myself that I'd forgotten about. It's funny to see these sides of myself - it's strange to me to feel a lack of confidence, to feel uncertain, to feel afraid. But what an amazing and important reminder... what a gift to have to be so vulnerable!

I'm not entirely sure the point of this blog post, to be honest.

Except maybe to just say - I'm still here. Life is good. I'm still journeying. My heart is being redefined. I'm learning to see beauty in new places.


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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Opening Day @IndyStateFair

The kids and I spent most of the entire day at the Indiana State Fair yesterday. And it was a nearly perfect day. We had the crankies at home and the kids were dragging their feet about going. I had originally planned on that day being just for ME - no kids. But plans changed.

I had a root canal on Weds and I'd had a lot of mouth pain ever since. I wasn't sure going out in the sun and heat was a good idea and I wasn't sure how much fair food I'd really be able to enjoy anyway.

So the day wasn't starting off with much hope of a great time.

Thankfully, I still believe in the magic of the Indiana State Fair!

We got there later than planned which meant we ended up parking on the north side of the infield instead of the south side. This meant starting our day by the Pioneer Village instead of the Dairy Bar. Which was odd because in the past few years, I always always always start my day at the Dairy Bar! But the change seemed to set us off on a good path!

Here's the "secret" to really enjoying the State Fair - just go with it. Start somewhere, interact with people, ask questions, let loose, and just see where the day takes you.

Here are a couple of highlights from the day.

And if you want to see more of our Opening Day at the Indiana State Fair, check out the album on my Facebook fan page.

But the best way to enjoy these adventures is to go and find your own fun at the Fair!!

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