Geeking Out – Disney!

Dear Erin,

School has started, so summer must be over. I’m glad about that; for a lot of reasons, September was welcome this year. We’ve had a few days recently that have even felt a little like fall here.

But before we trade in popsicles for jack-o-lanterns, there’s one last entry in the summer series to go. What’s the last interest I have a history of geeking out on? Why, Disney, of course!

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that my interest in Disney is nothing compared to a lot of people you can find on the Internet. But I could – once upon a time – sing every word to every song from Disney’s major animated releases from The Little Mermaid to Mulan and plenty from before then.

And you could, too, fellow Disney geek, so don’t pretend otherwise.

We all have our ways of expressing our love. Some people dress in costumes, some Disney-fy their normal wardrobe, some memorize the movies, some memorize the songs, some create their own works in response (see: WAY too many things on YouTube).

And some lucky stiffs get to go to the parks on a fairly regular basis.


One of the benefits of growing up in the Sunshine State and still having family there is that I have been to Disney World more than I probably should have – not that I’m complaining – enough that at one point, it got a little boring. (First world problem, I know.)

But it’s not boring any more!





A fantastic first trip for the boys. But it makes for a bit of a long day:


Bring on the Disney! It’s going to be fun to geek out in a whole new way.


Geeking Out – Everything Austen (or almost)

Dear Kristen,

I hope that your Fourth of July was a blast!  Full of fireworks, flags, and sunshine.  It rained here.  And since the kids go to sleep before it gets dark, there were no fireworks that we saw – though we definitely heard them!  Our dog, who used to be unfazed by anything but who now barks at the scratching of a beetle on the side of a tree one mile away, went a little crazy.  But…that’s not what we’re here to discuss.

As you’ve mentioned, our summer series this year is “Geeking Out.” And being self-identified nerds, its completely appropriate!

So I’m starting us off with one of our favorite authors: Jane Austen.

Why do I love Austen?  Can’t even come up with words that will do justice to the skill of that lady with the pen.  How can you, I ask?  And its good that I ask, because there are a lot of people who have tried to add to the worlds created by her genius, and I’d like to prevent tainting my perspective of those worlds by reading those books.  (I mean no offense to those who have loved Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but its not my thing.  I like my Austen like I like my coffee – absent of weird flavors.)

So yes, the novels are sitting on our shelf – worn, disheveled, alphabetically catalogued, and begging to be read. Again. And again. So imagine my surprise and utter over-the-moonness (I couldn’t think of an appropriate adjective) when on vacation, we stumbled on an exhibit that featured dresses from many of the Jane Austen films!

Matt and I went to the Biltmore (another thing to geek out about another day; that and the Gilded Era, of course) and there was an exhibit on dresses, many of them wedding dresses, from many, MANY films.  It was AWESOME!!  Had NO idea they were there, so it was like an extra, extra bonus!  If it had been socially acceptable, I might have squealed.  As it was, near the end of our tour, there was a lady who admitted her disbelief that anyone would want to wear these dresses as they were “ugly and unflattering.” Gasp.

In my mind, I gave her a scathing speech that would have done justice to Lizzie Bennett’s monologue to Lady Catherine de Bourgh.  Except it wouldn’t have been as eloquent or even understood, as I am not Austen, articulate when angry, or desirous of yelling at a stranger.  It would have come out something like…”You are an idiot!” And that would have been that.

But, for your enjoyment, here are the dresses! (I only took photos with my phone in the home, so they aren’t the greatest.)

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Dear Erin,

Yesterday we had a crisis at church. And by “we,” I mean Little Mister and me.

But let me backtrack and set the scene. Our church just opened the new children’s building – like, last week they opened it. And it’s a really nice, really functional space with all new everything. Gorgeous. They haven’t quite gotten to all the landscaping yet, perhaps because there are plans for putting in a playground in the not-too-distant future.

And it rained here all weekend. Rare, and much appreciated, rain. Lovely stuff; couldn’t do without it.

Well, three days of rain + a space that has recently been a construction site =


Mud, mud everywhere. Not a problem for someone with common sense, but who ever said that 2-year-olds have any common sense?

So he was chasing a friend around on the sidewalk in front of the building and decided to take a detour into the more “natural” area just beyond the sidewalk. Result on shoes:

mudtastrophe 2

The mud just sucked those little feet down; he tried and failed to get free and ended up:

mudtastrophe 1

Luckily he sat down in it instead of face-planting, so it was just his pants, shoes, and hands that were covered in yuck.

You know, sometimes I think I’ve not developed great mothering instincts: I let strange dogs who seem friendly come up and sniff my kid’s face (thus worrying all the “real” adults close by), and I laugh at him in the mud instead of taking pictures instead of running immediately to somehow hose him off.

I didn’t make him wait very long, though, both because he was starting look distressed instead of merely confused and because I didn’t want Charles to notice that I was just letting him sit in mud. The trick was getting him changed and cleaned up without destroying the brand new furnishings in the brand new building in the process, but with the help of a good friend (who also had a convenient garbage bag in which to stash what you see above! Now that’s parenting instinct and preparedness), it was kept to a minimum. He had no socks, but wonder of wonders, we actually had an extra pair of shoes with us, so even that wasn’t a big deal.

So, short-lived mud-tastrophe. Dramatic but ultimately not too much of a problem. And highly amusing to me.

On Phones

Dear Kristen,

I love that Little Mister required boots for egg hunting.  If only you knew that was the magic component on those other egg hunts!  They are the cool kid accessory for all hunting adventures – next adventure, FROGS!

Do they have frogs in your neck of the woods?  Maybe its too dry?

I still think a fire truck is a good idea.

Easter here was delightful! We found eggs inside due to the rain and cold, enjoyed church, and drove to see family where there were more eggs to find.  It was a lot of fun – Munchkin found all her eggs, dutifully passing by the ones hidden obviously for Little Man.  And then Little Man stole her eggs and she was obliged to “find” his in retaliation.


And then I dropped my phone in the toilet.

Though certainly far from perfect, I’m the most responsible person in the house for maintaining important items.  I’m not “neat as a pin” (I like piles), but I’ve a pretty good handle on where things are.  I don’t typically lose things, break things, etc. and in fact am asked where other people’s things are when they can’t find them.  My track record is pretty good.

Not so much anymore.

I’m not even sure how it happened, really.  It was in my hand.  I blinked.  It was in the toilet.  Luckily, a clean one.  I grabbed it immediately and we set to work drying it out.  Except we couldn’t find the rice (we were not in our own home) so we had to make do with Easter grass.

Which isn’t the best for drying phones.

Well, to cut to the chase, the phone was fine except the sound didn’t work.  It kept assuming it had headphones stuck in it, so you couldn’t hear the videos we’ve recorded or my music or the ever important Apple trailers or the brushing teeth timer (aka the Disney app for timing your kids’ brushing.  Its magical.  Like rain boots.)

It also wouldn’t notify me if someone was texting.  So….it had to be on vibrate.  Which means I had a serious case of “phantom ringing” for awhile there.  You know, you feel a little vibration in your pocket and you dutifully take out your phone to respond, only to see that you have no messages.  And sometimes you feel the vibration in a pocket that has no phone in it?

Yeah.  I’ve officially gone crazy.

But we did have a Tuesday miracle.  The sound started working last night.  We celebrated with ice cream!


And then the brushing teeth timer was back in action!



A Night at the Opera

Dear Erin,

A day late and a dollar short, but as you know, there’s a weeping angel in this house (in the sense that he sucks up time and energy, not in that he can’t move when I’m looking at him. Not even close in that sense.)


But, guess what? We got away for a bit last Friday night.


The only picture I was able to take was of the lobby.

We went to the opera! Charles bought the tickets and arranged babysitting as a surprise for me, and what a wonderful surprise. We saw Carmen, which we had seen once before in Gainesville, but both of us had holes in our memories of the show, so there were parts that were surprising. (I hope the reason we didn’t remember wasn’t because we fell asleep last time. I do remember enjoying it, though, so that seems doubtful.)

The plot was of course melodramatic – a bit too much so for Charles’s taste, though my tolerance for that is sometimes higher at an opera than in a novel – but the music was really, really fun. This may have been the first time I’ve gone to an opera and seen it as a full theatrical production, as opposed to something entirely in its own sphere. So I could watch the acting critically and think about staging choices and thematic parallels, without being wrong-footed by the genre of the thing. Does that make sense? (This “first” doesn’t include Gilbert and Sullivan productions; those are always somewhere between musical theatre and opera, and they’ve always been accessible. Except for the production of Ruddigore that we saw in Scotland in college: I had no idea what was going on or what they were saying; it was the opposite of accessible to this audience member.)

It was such a nice night, remembering what it was like to just be a couple. I can’t wait to do it again sometime.