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The P and O cruise

22 May

“How many more days?”  Hannah asked me every morning for weeks.  She and Daniel were so excited for our cruise with Aunty Jess, as was I.  It was our last hurrah before everything change, before she has a baby.  That’s not for another 20 weeks, but cruises have surprisingly early pregnancy cut off dates.

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I have been potty training Daniel vigilantly for a couple of months, but it was all in vain.  He wasn’t allowed at the kids club.  Not because he wasn’t potty trained.  Contrary to what P&O’s website says, kids who aren’t potty trained can go in the kids club.  Their parents just have to respond to the pager given out by the kids club asap to change a soiled nappy if needed.

He wasn’t allowed in the kids club because they don’t take kids who are a day under 3.  I thought that when Jess said if he’s potty trained and speaking well, maybe they’d take him, that she had actually spoken to P&O, and that’s what they said, but it was just her wishful thinking.

We didn’t think it would matter so much though because of the group child minding service. Sure we’d have to pay $5 an hour, but it would be totally worth it, we could be kid free for a couple hours, relax, hang out, see a show.  Except the group child minding service turned out to be only for kids 3 and up and only after 10:30pm.

Kids under 3 are allowed to play in the kids club if an adult they came with is supervising them. That seemed fair.  We could all go there, the kids could play, Jess and I could sit in a corner and hang out.  Jess, Hannah and Daniel and I all went in and the kids excitedly started playing, happy that they could be in the kids club AND that we were there with them. Jess and I sat near Daniel, but in the corner out of the way.

“Sorry, only one of you can stay here with him.”  A kids club employee told us.

“What if one stays with him and one is here for her?” We asked her, pointing to Hannah.

“No, she is over three and enrolled in the kids club, so she can’t have an adult with her.”

There was absolutely nothing, apart from playing on the stairs, in the lift, and in our room, for kids under 3 to do.  Everything for kids was at the kids clubs (different clubs for different ages).  We thought the pools would be something fun for all of us to do together, but as soon as we got in, we got straight back out again because it was so cold.  Why would you not heat a pool on a cruise ship?  So for the kids to have something to do, The Jess and I couldn’t hang out together.

The window in our room. There was a side ledge under the window where the kids liked to play.  They could close the curtains and it was like having their own fort right inside our room.

The window in our room. There was a side ledge under the window where the kids liked to play. They could close the curtains and it was like having their own fort right inside our room.

The kids club itself was rather disappointing too.   For Hannah’s age, there was one main room with a little room inside the main room.  In the main room were a couple of craft tables, a TV with Wii games, a heap of duplo, and a few toy car ramps.  There are scheduled activities every half an hour, such as dancing, duplo building, craft, etc, which is great, except all kids in there have to participate.  We’re talking about 3-6 year olds.  Sometimes 3 year olds don’t want to do group dancing, they want to play duplo, or watch their toy cars go down ramps.  I witnessed lots of whingy, unhappy kids when they were told they couldn’t play with the other toys during activity time.

Straight from P&O's website

Straight from P&O’s website

On the other hand, when it was free play time, I saw lots of kids fighting over toys, snatching from each other, pushing, etc., but the kids club employees weren’t really paying attention and didn’t do anything about it.

Daniel playing in Duplo corner.

Daniel playing in Duplo corner.

The other little room inside the big room contained some Playstation consoles, a few books (some with all of their pages missing.  Daniel found a Thomas book, opened it up, and was very upset to find no pages inside for him to look at), and play kitchen stuff.  Most of the time though, that room is shut.  Only during scheduled Playstation time are they allowed in there.  Unless the child is under 3 and with an adult, then we have to go in there when the other kids are doing group stuff because under 3’s are not allowed to participate in group things no matter how much they want to, and we’re told to go in the other room.

I didn’t actually see a kid who knew how to use the Playstations.  Most of them picked up the controllers, mashed a bit, and then lost interest.  We are talking about 3-6’s.  Since when do 3-6’s play Playstation?  According to P&O’s website, there are iPad activities, which would have been more age appropriate, but there were no iPads to be found.

 

The playstation and play kitchen room in Turtle Cove (the 3-6 year old kids club)

The playstation and play kitchen room in Turtle Cove (the 3-6 year old kids club)

There was also a little outdoor area for the kids clubs (with gates to prevent escape), but they would be taken outside for a group activity like mini olympics, and then quickly herded back inside.  They didn’t really do any free play outside even though there were heaps of tricycles, a couple of cubby houses, and a giant connect four game.

Daniel on one of the trikes in the outdoor area of the kids club.

Daniel on one of the trikes in the outdoor area of the kids club.

For the mini olympics, girls were on one team, boys on the other, and they had to get in a sack, hop around some cones, hula hoop 3 times, then hop back.  They loved doing it, but there were about 10 girls and 10 boys, or more, so after their turn, the little ones quickly lost interest and wanted to ride around on the bikes.

They weren’t allowed.  They all got herded back over to watch the olympics instead.  Except Daniel,  he was with me, so we continued playing on the bikes.  He wasn’t supposed to be participating after all, but I waited in line with him and made sure he got a turn, then helped him through the course.  There was another family outside with a kid under 3 playing on a bike too.  Hannah came over to play with us, but she was told to back to the other side, as “she is in the kids club, so she has to stay with the kids club kids.”

I quickly signed her out, and she played bikes with Daniel and me.

One afternoon, the kids club had a “family remote control car race.”

“Since this is a family event, does that mean both Jess and I can come with the kids?” I asked them.

“Yes, you can all come, but you have to sign up.  If at least 2 kids are signed up, the event will take place. If not, it will be cancelled.”

“That’s fine, I have 2 kids right here.”

I signed one of us up with Hannah and the other up with Daniel.  It did say family.  Maybe it was only supposed to be for kids club kids, but whatever.  Apart from a sideways glance, they didn’t say anything.  No one else signed up.

We arrived right on time, but everyone was group dancing.

“No one showed up, so we cancelled it.”  They told me.

I looked at my watch, then at the lady.  Nope, we weren’t late.  Not even 1 minute.

“Er…we’ll do it when they finish this activity.” She said.

After dancing finished, they gave Jess and Hannah a car, and Daniel and me a car.  Hannah’s didn’t work and she had to get another one.  Daniel’s didn’t work if it went 2 feet away from us and he quickly got bored and wanted to manually push it around.  All the other kids tried to steal the cars and/or remotes as they didn’t get any since they didn’t sign up.  No one said anything to them, except for Jess and me.

Some of the kids stood right in front of Hannah’s car so she couldn’t drive it.  Again, no one said anything to them, so it was up to us.

One day, they had face painting in the kids club.  Hannah patiently sat in a little chair behind the girl who was having her face painted at the time.  She was the second quickest to get in the queue.  The face painter took ages painting the first kid’s face.  So long that all the other kids waiting behind Hannah lost interest and went off to play.  Hannah waited on, silently sitting there as the minutes ticked by.  We wanted to meet The Jess for the scheduled deck boules at 4:30 and time was quickly running out.  Hannah had been sitting there 20 minutes by the time the first kid was done.

Instead of happily greeting Hannah and asking her what she’d like on her face though, the lady stood up and walked off.  Another lady came in with an older kid from the kids club next door trailing behind her.  They both sat down and she got to work, leaving Hannah sitting there, still unpainted.

“I’m really sorry sweetie, you’ve been so patient, but we’re running out of time, I don’t think we’ll have time to get your face painted now, so you might as well play for a bit.”  I said to her loudly from across the room.  One of the other ladies got the hint and sat back down again, quickly painting a flower crown on Hannah’s forehead.

As soon as she was finished, we left the kids club and walked to where the deck boules were supposed to be, arriving just in time.  Except no one was there.  No balls were there. Nothing was set up, and no one else was waiting, there was only a ping pong table with a couple of guys in the midst of a game.  Contrary to what the daily schedule told us, deck boules were not happening.

Instead, we let the kids play on the stairs.  Up and down.  Up and down. Sliding on their bottoms, sliding on their tummies, going down in the lift then climbing up the stairs.  We killed nearly an hour with the kids happily playing on the stairs and in the lift.

Hannah and Daniel at the top of a set of stairs.

Hannah and Daniel at the top of a set of stairs.

P&O would probably be fine if you don’t have kids, or if they are older kids, but travelling with anyone under 3, there just isn’t enough for them to do.  Not to mention the beds were the most uncomfortable I’ve slept on in my entire life.

We had fun on the cruise, but there were also a lot of things that were quite disappointing.  I definitely want to do on another cruise, but it will be with a different cruise line.

playing in the window

playing in the window

Part of our room.  We moved one of the ladders to the ledge under the window so the kids could play up there.

Part of our room. We moved one of the ladders to the ledge under the window so the kids could play up there.

Daniel after the lifejacket drill

Daniel after the lifejacket drill

Me and the kids the first night on the ship

Me and the kids the first night on the ship

Hannah at the kids club

Hannah at the kids club

Daniel drew and played iPad during bingo

Daniel drew and played iPad during bingo

Hannah drawing while we waited for bingo to start

Hannah drawing while we waited for bingo to start

playing bingo

playing bingo

Pasta.  Delicious.

Pasta. Delicious.

eating at the restaurant at off the proper menu

eating at the restaurant at off the proper menu

Spaghetti face

Spaghetti face

my salmon.  It was delicious.

my salmon. It was delicious.

Jess eating at the restaurant (as opposed to the buffet)

Jess eating at the restaurant (as opposed to the buffet)

Daniel and Jess watching Frozen from bed

Daniel and Jess watching Frozen from bed

playing on the stairs

playing on the stairs

At kids dinner time (4:30), the tables have colouring in and colouring pencils.

At kids dinner time (4:30), the tables have colouring in and colouring pencils.

kids dinner.  Nothing healthy on the menu.

kids dinner. Nothing healthy on the menu.

Me and Daniel at kids dinner

Me and Daniel at kids dinner

Hannah having dessert

Hannah having dessert

Keeping Daniel busy at dinner.  They already had dinner at kids dinner time.

Keeping Daniel busy at dinner. They already had dinner at kids dinner time.

One night I had a cocktail and Jess had a mocktail

One night I had a cocktail and Jess had a mocktail

It was sunny on Moreton Island for us for about 5 minutes, then it poured for the rest of the day.

It was sunny on Moreton Island for us for about 5 minutes, then it poured for the rest of the day.

Hannah on Moreton island

Hannah on Moreton island

We got a towel animal one day.

We got a towel animal one day.

The captain trying to put his hat on Daniel.  Daniel was not impressed.

The captain trying to put his hat on Daniel. Daniel was not impressed.

The captain came over to us at lunch one day and talked to the kids.  Hannah got to wear his hat.

The captain came over to us at lunch one day and talked to the kids. Hannah got to wear his hat.

Hannah and Daniel loved looking at the colour changing fountain on the ship

Hannah and Daniel loved looking at the colour changing fountain on the ship

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Hannah and Jess with the remote control car at the kids club

Hannah and Jess with the remote control car at the kids club

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Windows are fun to play in

Windows are fun to play in

Mr. Cheeky playing on the ship

Mr. Cheeky playing on the ship

Cruises are tiring.  Hannah rarely naps, but she was so tired she curled up on me and went to sleep.

Cruises are tiring. Hannah rarely naps, but she was so tired she curled up on me and went to sleep.

Hannah and the bear from school at breakfast (they each get a turn taking the bear home for a week.  She got to take it on the cruise)

Hannah and the bear from school at breakfast (they each get a turn taking the bear home for a week. She got to take it on the cruise)

Hannah and on a deck chair

Hannah and on a deck chair

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There’s pee on the floor

24 Apr

“Choo Choo!!!!”  I say as excitedly as I can possibly force myself to whilst moving my arms around my sides like that straight thing that goes across old train wheels to make them go all at the same time.  “It’s potty train time.”

“I DON’T WANT TO!”  Daniel yelled.

This is Daniel's <a href=

I try numerous tactics to make going potty (and getting to the potty) fun:  potty train, bug potty (he really likes bugs), bribery, etc. but none of them work.  Instead, Daniel prefers to wear no underpants  or nappy and then pees on the floor.  Or the bed, or lounge, wherever he is at the time, really.

Finally I am able to coax him into wearing undies after I buy a pack of way overly priced Thomas the Tank Engine underwear. They do nothing to get him to sit on the potty though.  He still pees where he stands and then walks around with wet undies without a care in the world.

I can see that he knows exactly when he needs to pee.  He stood in the bath one day, looked at his penis, and then watched as he soiled the bathwater.  After that, I notice the he often stops and looks at his crotch region, even though it is now covered in Thomas underpants, before peeing all over the floor quickly followed by walking away as if nothing happened.  He is just being stubborn and won’t sit on the potty.

Time is running out, so I lay down my nice-y nice-y tactics and go for something I know he will respond to: threats and bribery.

“Potty time,” I tell him cheerfully.

“NO, I DON’T WANT TO, ” he yells stubbornly.

“Well, you can either sit on the potty, or go in time out, your choice.”

He stands there for a couple seconds deciding his best course of action, before happily stating that he’ll sit on the the potty like it was his idea in the first place.  He runs to the bathroom with a smile on his face and sits on his little potty with glee.  Why didn’t I think of this before?

He sits there while I read him an entire Thomas book, but nothing happens.  We repeat the process every hour.  I know that as soon as he pees in the potty once, he will get it, so I wait patiently, reading the same 10 or so Thomas books over and over again for days. He’s finally happy about sitting on the potty, and I’m happy because that is progress.

One day, Daniel runs to the bathroom, opens the door by himself, and then stays in there for a while.  At first, I think he’s going potty, but he comes out saying nothing, so I say nothing too.  He must have been playing with his bath toys.

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“Come on buddy, time to sit on the potty.” I tell him a few minutes  later.  We get in the bathroom and I open the lid on his little potty.  “There’s pee in there!” I exclaim.  “You did a pee in there all by yourself!”  That’s when I notice that his dark blue undies are wet at the front.  The wet patch blends in so well with the dry that it’s hardly noticeable.

“Yeah, I did.” He said, as if it were nothing.

So what that he forgot to pull his undies down, he actually peed on the potty!

I make a big fuss and give him a lollipop which he is delighted about. Plus, I’m right, it only takes one pee in the potty and from then on, he consistently pees in there.

It’s so nice not having to clean pee off everything all day.

Poo is another story.  He has no problems pooping in his undies and then walking around in it as if it’s not sticking to his butt and smelling disgusting.

He still likes running around with no undies on sometimes, which sometimes equates to pooping on the floor.  Usually he waits until we go out to poop because he is wearing a nappy.  It’s kind of a running joke with the creche ladies at church.  Every time he is in there he poops.  They only have to come out and look at me and I know they want me to come change his nappy.

We only have 18 days left.  18 days to somehow get Daniel to poop in the potty.  18 more days, other wise he can’t go in the kids club on the cruise the kids and I are going on with a pregnant Aunty Jess.  18 more days or he’ll either have to tag along  with Jess and I all the time on the boat (which means Hannah probably would too), or I’ll have to pay for a baby sitter, which wouldn’t be nearly as fun as kids club.  They won’t be in kids club all day everyday, just for a few hours each day.  It’s fun for them, they love stuff like that, plus Jess and I can relax without worrying about kids falling overboard, in the pool, or running off with strangers.

18 days.  Fingers are crossed.  Bribes are being upped.

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Adelaide without kids

14 Mar

I turned 31 last week.  Thirty one.  Turning 30 is a huge deal, it’s kind of a milestone of sorts.  But 31?  That just makes me feel old.  I became friends with The Jess’ (my sister in law) friend Romana 5 years ago when we were both pregnant at the same time.  Hannah and her daughter Violet are now best friends, and we’re good friends too.  For her birthday, she decided to visit The Jess in Adelaide.  Without Violet.  She asked if I wanted to go too.  A girls weekend away, seeing The Jess, and a break from the kids…how could I say no?  Plus my birthday is a day after hers (although she is 3 years younger than me), so we made it a birthday weekend away, all by ourselves. Yep, I left the kids at home for another round of Daddy daycare.

Our plane

Our plane

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Originally, we planned to don cute dresses and go out dancing.  Not that I’m good at dancing, I don’t have a rhythmic bone in my body, but I still love doing it, and don’t get to very often.  Dancing and morning all day sickness don’t really go together very well though, so we gave the dancing a miss.  No, I’m not the pregnant one, that would be The Jess.  She and Jim are expecting their very first baby in October.  Or maybe babies.  Twins do run in the family….

Instead, we giggled way too much playing Cards Against Humanity whilst downing copious amounts of chocolate.  Romana and I also giggled like school girls at a sleep over when we went to bed.  Air travel gives me gas, gas is funny, and I had lots of it all night.  Hence the giggles.  I’m not sure why I just shared that with you, but I am sure that many of you are secretly laughing and/or sympathising, so why not?

The next day we went to the beach, but not to swim because we both forgot our swimsuits.  Plus the water felt like it was about 0 degrees, and who wants to swim in freezing cold water?  Excuse my photos, they were all taken on my phone (so they are not exactly of high quality).

The Jess' "oh-my-gosh-this-water-is-freezing" face as she puts her feet in the water

The Jess’ “oh-my-gosh-this-water-is-freezing” face as she puts her feet in the water

Pregnant women need rest, so we watched Bridesmaids at Jess’ house after having lunch and decadent dessert at a chocolate cafe.

My bailey's mousse and ganache deliciousness

My bailey’s mousse and ganache deliciousness

The Jess eating her dessert

The Jess eating her dessert

The Jess and Romana at the chocolate cafe

The Jess and Romana at the chocolate cafe

It just so happened that the Fringe Festival was on whilst we were there, so in the afternoon, we headed into the city to have a look.

Jess decided to join the circus

Jess decided to join the circus

Me and The Jess.  We couldn't help ourselves.  I'm still not sure why Hoe was randomly written on a wall

Me and The Jess. We couldn’t help ourselves. I’m still not sure why Hoe was randomly written on a wall. I don’t normally wear leopard print, but Jess and Romana wanted me to, so I did.  It’s Jess’ dress.

I’ve seen freak shows in movies before, but I didn’t know they actually existed.  Guess what? They do.

Lizard man.  He shot an arrow and another guy caught it blindfolded.  As you do.

Lizard man. He shot an arrow and another guy caught it blindfolded. As you do.

Rubber man.  He makes like Gumby and gets his whole body through some tennis racquets.

Rubber man. He makes like Gumby and gets his whole body through some tennis racquets.

This guy has like 26 world records for swallowing things.  That balloon he's holding? Swallowed the entire thing, followed by a sword which popped it, followed by a giant pair of tongs which retrieved the popped balloon.  Gross yet fascinating.

This guy has like 26 world records for swallowing things. That balloon he’s holding? Swallowed the entire thing, followed by a sword which popped it, followed by a giant pair of tongs which retrieved the popped balloon. Gross yet fascinating.

The next day, we went home.  I wish I could have stayed longer, but you know, a family, and uni stuff awaited me back home, so it was just 2 nights and 1.5 days and then a flight back home.

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The suicidal pigeon

22 Mar

“Mommy, can I go to the plaza with Aunty Jess?” Hannah asked me as we drove down the road.

I glanced over at The Jess, awkwardly giving her my best how-do-I-explain-to-a-3-year-old-that-you’re-getting-lasered look.  “Um…I don’t think you’re allowed to go in with Aunty Jess while she gets lasered sweetie.”

“It’s ok, she can come, it only takes like 5 minutes. She can come in with me.  Then we can go play.” The Jess told me.  Our local shopping centre (which everyone calls the plaza) has an indoor play area, which is quite handy for bribing children to be quiet and not jump out of the shopping trolley whilst we shop.

“YAY!!!!!” Hannah exclaimed excitedly.

BANG!

It came out of nowhere.  I put the brakes on, but there were cars behind me, so I didn’t slam them as I would had it been a person running out in front of the car.  It was only a pigeon, not really worth getting rear ended for.  But still, I thought he’d make it if I braked a little.

I saw him coming, only he was flying above the car before he got to the road, so I didn’t think to alter my driving.  As soon as the stupid pigeon reached the area in front of my car, however, he decided it would be a grand idea to dive and fly low.

He didn’t quite make it.  The majority of him flew off to the side, but other parts, presumably from his head, since I saw his body keep going, splattered all over the front of the car.

I sat there, still driving forward, but in slight shock for a moment, my eyes wide as saucers, my hands slightly shaky, staring at the road in front of me. The Jess sat in the passengers seat, also silent for a moment.

Oh my gosh, the kids are going to be traumatised. I thought to myself.

“We’re going to have so much fun Aunty Jess! You know what they have at the plaza? McDonalds!  You can buy me some nuggets, and we can go play….”

The Jess and I looked at each other.  Clearly the kids were oblivious to the slaughter that had just occurred at the front of the car.

As I kept driving, I could see a chunk of bird sitting on the hood out of the corner of my eye.

I slowed to a stop for a red light and The Jess and I couldn’t help ourselves, we started laughing.  I’m not really sure why.  Maybe it was nervous, shameful I-just-hit-something laughter, or maybe because it was so crazy that the kids had no idea what had just happened even though the horrible thud noise was plenty loud enough to be heard from the back seat.  Maybe it was the fact that Hannah was still going on and on about going to the plaza with Aunty Jess whilst we were a bit shaky and driving down the road looking at guts.

I don’t know, but we laughed.

“Why are there yellow bits in it?” I asked rhetorically to The Jess through my ridiculous giggles. I kept driving whilst trying not to stare at the guts just below the windscreen.

We laughed some more, trying to stifle it so Hannah wouldn’t ask us why we were laughing.

“It’s on the car.” I muttered to The Jess, so Hannah couldn’t hear me.

We laughed harder.

I pulled up to a drop off zone in front of the plaza to let The Jess and Hannah out of the car.

“There is an eyeball looking at me!” The Jess said as she looked at the front of the car.  “Seriously, I think it’s an eyeball!”

I had to see for myself.

“It looks like the car hit a bowl of porridge!”  I told the Jess. “If the porridge had feathers in it.”

“This bit looks like someone threw a bit of chicken casserole on the car!” It really did.  There were yellow corn-like bits in it.  You’d never guess it came from freshly hit pigeon.

It was disgusting, but still kinda funny in a disturbing kind of way.

Before I scrubbed all the pigeon brain (I’m assuming that’s what it was) from the car, I took a couple photos, just so I could show all of you.  A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

The bit I could see out the windshield. The orangey bits looked more yellow in real life (taken with an iphone, so what do you expect).  And what are all the green bits? Seriously, what sort of weird insides are these?

The bit I could see out the windshield. The orangey bits looked more yellow in real life (taken with an iphone, so what do you expect). And what are all the green bits? Seriously, what sort of weird insides are these?

This bit looks like porridge with a side of feathers.  At least it did in real life.  I should have gotten out my good camera, but that would have been a little too weird.

This bit looks like porridge with a side of feathers. At least it did in real life. I should have gotten out my good camera, but that would have been a little too weird.

Why do birds always fly low over roads?  I mean if they just stayed high in the air, they’d be fine.  Are they really that dumb?

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The Spartan race

19 Mar

Four friends and I signed up for the Spartan Race quite a while ago.  A few of us knew before sign ups were even open that we were going to sign up.  Needless to say, I’ve had plenty of time to train for the race.  I was going pretty well with my training – running further than ever before, doing pump class at the gym….  But then I started uni and my gym days sadly fizzled down to one day a week.  I can only go to the gym when the creche is open, and the creche is only open from 9-12 on weekdays and 8-11 on Saturdays.  Now that I have uni, the kids or I have something on every single weekday morning, leaving only Saturday for the gym.

Point being, I went to the race is less than par condition.  Plus I had the tail end of a nasty cold.  After getting our numbers and leaving our bags at the bag drop, we wandered over to the start line that was counting down until our 11:20am start time.  We’d been eating red frog lollies and chocolate hot cross buns in the car, so we were hopped up on sugar and ready to go.   A photo with Commando from The Biggest Loser Australia provided us with further race excitement.

Kristina, Romana, Lauren, Commando, The Jess, and me right before our start time

Kristina, Romana, Lauren, Commando, The Jess, and me right before our start time

5…4…3…2…1 BEEP (airhorn)! Everyone started running.  And by running, I mean leisurely jogging.  For about 20 seconds when it turned into walking.  We all wondered why, until we got to the top of the hill and found everyone in front of us making their way down into the water, inhaling the giant cloud of dust as they went.

the first obstacle

the first obstacle

On the other side of the creek, a giant grassy hill awaited us.  We jogged half way up and then walked.  Good golly, I should have done some hill training.  Instead, I ran on the treadmill with the elevation set at 0 the entire time and concentrated instead on eventually running 7km’s – the length of the Spartan race.

After the giant crazy hill that left a lot of us fairly winded and wishing for a drinks station, the ground levelled out and we started jogging again.

Kristina and me looking rather puffed after the very first hill

Kristina and me looking rather puffed after the very first hill

As we turned  a corner, we found a mass of people crawling on their bellies under low barbed wire. Oh, so that is what Commando meant when he told us to roll under the wire.

Unlike the masses before us, we heeded his advice rolled.  It was much easier.

Rolling under the barbed wire.

Rolling under the barbed wire.

We ran/walked some more up and down hills until we came to a large wall with a rope attached to it.

Romana scaling the wall aided by a rope

Romana scaling the wall aided by a rope

We all successfully scaled the wall and continued on our way, with a  much needed drinks station within our sights.

excitedly running towards a drinks station

excitedly running towards a drinks station.  Yes, I have double jointed elbows. Feel free to cringe.

When we got there though, there was a big arrow pointing us in the opposite direction.  The drinks station was actually later down track, the paths just nearly crossed at that point.  Perhaps rounding the bend towards the drinks station was later, but you know what? It was 7kms, heaps of obstacles, and a hot day, so I don’t remember exactly.

Up and down some more grassy hills with cow poop (the whole event was in a cow pasture), we came to a series of muddy hills with troughs of muddy water in between them.

sliding on my bum down a slippery mud hill into a giant mud puddle

sliding on my bum down a slippery mud hill into a giant mud puddle

Some people landed in the pit so hard that their head went under.  Lucky for me, I managed to keep my head above water…er…mud.  My contacts probably wouldn’t have fared so well if they were full of mud.

Me and The Jess in a mud pit

Me and The Jess in a mud pit

It was quite hard getting out of the muddy pits as the hills were so incredibly slippery.  Successful exit required help from team members and finding foot holds along the slippery slope.

me climbing out of the mud pit

me climbing out of the mud pit

“Romana’s butt looks like it’s crying.” The Jess told me after the mud pits.  Her shorts had big mud patches on the butt cheeks and muddy water was trickling down her leg.  “I bet we all look like that.”

“Yeah, you do.” The guy running behind us said.

“Oh, so you’ve been looking at our butts, have you?” The Jess asked him, accusingly.

“I have to look at something while I run.”

He ran past us as he we laughed.  Awkward Turtles was written across his back.  Yeah, that was a bit awkward.

Next we came to a huge row of zig zagging balance beams.  If you fell off, you had to do 30 burpees.

Me and Romana tackling the balance beams

Me and Romana tackling the balance beams

They were a lot thinner than the standard balance beams at gymnastics centres.  Plus they wobbled since they were not so firmly stuck in the ground.  I made it almost to the end and started wobbling.  I was about to come off when Mr. Awkward Turtle ran over grabbed me until I re balanced myself, saving me from the 30 burpees.

“He owed you for looking at our butts.” The Jess said.

We ran/walked up and down some more hills before coming to some very muddy looking water.  It was swimming time.  Proper swimming time, this stuff was above our heads.  It was so refreshing as we got in, and I’m a decent swimmer, so I enjoyed our little river swim.

swimming across the river

swimming across the river

The Jess looked like a dog fetching a stick since she carried her camera in her mouth and doggie paddled across the river.

Finally, we came to the drinks station, where we were only allowed one little cup of water.  I think I could have drunk 3 litres by that point.

I haven’t been on the monkey bars since I was a little kid, but somehow my entire team and I managed to get all the way across.

Me on the monkey bars

Me on the monkey bars

Next we came to a giant wall.  Since The Jess has crazy like-a-monkey (I’m trying to say that without sounding derogatory) climbing skills, she went first, scaling that wall like it was nothing.  She stayed at the top to help the rest of us not-so-good climbers get to the top.

I decided to go second.  I planned to stay at the top to help as well.

Scaling the wall with help from my team

Scaling the wall with help from my team

Until I got there.  Then I realised there wasn’t much to hold on to on the back of the wall and I just wanted to get down.  I held on to the top of the wall and got my feet to the second board that was nailed to the back of the wall, providing a very small foot hold.  To get to the next one, I’d have to hold on to the first board nailed to the wall.  It wasn’t very thick, and we were quite high up.  What if I fell?

I stayed where I was, not knowing quite what to do.  I’m not sure if she scaled the wall whilst I was trying to figure out how I was going to get down without falling to my death, or is she just walked around the said of the wall to help me, but Lauren walked over and offered a hand.  I needed more than that.  My fear of falling outweighed my embarrassment and Lauren physically carried me away from the wall.  Thanks Lauren, I’m still grateful.

More running up and down hills brought us to the javelin throwing area.  I’ve never thrown a javelin in my life.

Me throwing the javelin

Me throwing the javelin

I missed.  Just.  My javelin even touched the straw bale, but it didn’t stick.  Neither did the other girls, which means we all had to do 30 burpees.

This is why I shouldn't dance. I can't even synchronise burpees for a photo

This is why I shouldn’t dance. I can’t even synchronise burpees for a photo

At least we got a photo of us molesting our javelins.

javelin molesting. As you do.

javelin molesting. As you do.

Not very far from the javelins, were the…um…I don’t even know what you call them, but there were a few walls with chunks of wood nailed to them that we had to get all the way across without holding on to the top of the wall, or touching the ground.  It wasn’t very high up, so I was fine with it.

Turns out, I was really good at it.

like a spider

like a spider

I was not so good at the rope climb.  Neither were the rest of the girls, or anyone else who was there at the same time as us.  Except the Jess.  She climbed that thing like it had knots in it or something.

The Jess (pink top) owning the rope

The Jess (pink top) owning the rope

The rest of us had to do 30 more burpees. Sigh.

On the side of the rope climb was a very slippery high ladder that we had to climb up to get to a couple of cargo nets that we had to get down.

Romana and me on the cargo net

Romana and me on the cargo net

At the triangle things, I ran towards them, grabbed leap frog style, and spun straight over.  The series of them took my about 3 seconds.  I’m much better at the obstacles than the actual running.

Just hold on and spin, you'll get straight over.

Just hold on and spin, you’ll get straight over.

Unfortunately, after the triangle things came the sandbags.  8kgs of sand which had to be carried up a giant hill and down the side.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t fall over a couple of times on the way back down.

My team going up the hill

My team going up the hill

It felt great to get the bags off of our shoulders, but the race was far from over.  There were a couple walls to go over, and one to go under.

I had a nice bruise from this one the next day

I had a nice bruise from this one the next day

We trekked through a muddy creek, sometimes up to our waists for about a kilometre.  By then, it was really hot and the sun was beating down on us.  I desperately wanted a drink, but none was to be found.  Unless you counted the muddy creek we were walking in, but I didn’t want to get any weird diseases.  I’m sure half of the mud was actually cow poop.  We hadn’t had a drink since just before the monkey bars.

trekking through the creek

trekking through the creek

When we finally came out of the creek, scraped up from tripping on submerged rocks, we crossed back through the triangle things, this time crawling through them.  Most people had to shimmy along on their bellies, using upper body strength to pull themselves along.  Not us short people.  We got to do a proper crawl.  For us it wasn’t really an obstacle, just a fun tunnel that would could giggle through as we watched everyone else labouring so hard to get to the other side.

Being small also allowed me to turn around at the end of the tunnel so I didn’t have to go face first into the muddy cow poop water like most people.

The swim was refreshing, but then we came to another barbed wire obstacle.  This one seemed never ending and was on very muddy ground, not grass like the last one.  Everyone seemed to have realised that rolling was the way to go.  I guess it would be too hard to belly crawl under barbed wire for about 400 meters in the mud.

Look way back into the photo, see how crazy far that rolling goes for? And to the right hand side, you can see the sand bag hill

Look way back into the photo, see how crazy far that rolling goes for? And to the right hand side, you can see the sand bag hill

Let me just point out that I don’t do spinning well.  I can’t even go on the teacup ride at Lollipops.  Spinning makes me feel like puking, and we all know how I feel about puking (vomit phobia remember?).  By the end of that barbed wire roll, I could hardly stand up straight, and I felt like I was going to lose my breakfast.

Needless to say, it probably wasn’t the best idea to put the fire jump straight after 400 meters of rolling.  I’m just lucky I didn’t land in the fire.

We jumped that smouldering log pile.  It was actually on fire and licked at our heels as we jumped, you just can't tell from the photo

We jumped that smouldering log pile. It was actually on fire and licked at our heels as we jumped, you just can’t tell from the photo

After pushing our way through some half hearted gladiators with big sticks, we were done.  We made it.  We finished the Spartan race.  We were covered head to toe in mud, scraped and bruised, parched, and tired, but we did it.

We finished the spartan race

We finished the spartan race

Hannah did the kids spartan race, but that’s another post for another day.

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The thing about running

3 Dec

I’ve talked about how I used to hate running. Ugh, I loathed it. I get so bored and after a while my lungs burn and my legs hurt. But then I discovered I could be distracted from all of that by putting my iPod on the little shelf of the treadmill at the gym, and watch The Amazing Race as I run. Since I don’t really get a lot of time to myself to watch things I want to watch (kids, hanging out with husband, housework, blog, etc.), it’s like a 2 for 1. I get fit and I get to have some me time and watch whatever I want to watch.

When I was away, I ran with The Jess on the beach (because she lives across the street from the beach). Not boring, at all. It’s so nice running at the beach. The first time, we ran 2 kilometers on the sidewalk from the pier near her house to the next one down the beach. And then back again.

sunset over beach

Taken with iPhone whilst running 4kms. I’m surprised the horizon is as straight as it is.

I’d never run 4km’s all in one go in my entire life. 3.something was my previous max. As I said, I’m just not a natural runner. Running is quite hard for me and takes a whole lot of effort even for short distances.

run on beach

Our run and stats as seen on my Runkeeper account

By the end of the run, I was pretty buggered. I tried to do some sit ups when we got back to The Jess’ house, but nearly threw up, so I  had to wait a few minutes.

The second time we went for a run, we ran barefoot on the waters edge. Seriously, if I could do that everyday, I would. There’s something about running on the sand that is amazing. We only ran under 2km’s as it’s so much harder running in sand. Plus we wanted to do a faster paced run.

beach running

Our barefoot on the beach run

We made pretty good time considering we were running barefoot on sand. The Jess sprinted the last 50 meteres to get a better time. Not that she could show her better time, since it was me timing it on my phone with Runkeeper. She hoped I would sprint with her. And I would have. Except I really had to poop, and I think had I sprinted, I would have pooped my pants. Yes, you read that right. I’m gonna let the cat out of the bag on this one: Something that people who don’t run don’t realise about running is that it makes you need to poop. Not when you go on a leisurely jog, but when you really go hard, even for short distances. According to a Dutch study, 45% of runners experience the urgent need to poop when running.

Have you ever seen a running race? There are portable toilets not just at the beginning and end, but during the race as well. Before I started running, I always thought they were for peeing. HA! Think again people! Those toilets are for urgent runners poop.

“Why didn’t you sprint?” Jess asked me when I got to the pier a little bit after her.

“I would have, but I also would have pooped myself. We need to get to the bathroom fast!”

“Uh-oh, I need to go too.”

We planned to have a nice leisurely walk back to the pier near her house on the waters edge, talking and splashing our feet as we went.

Instead, we went on the sidewalk above the beach in near silence as we both used all of our concentration on clenching as tight as we could to not poop ourselves.

The bathroom was halfway down the beach. 1km away. We walked as fast as we could whilst still maintaining optimal clinching. Finally, we saw the toilet block.

“I really hope no one is in there.” I said to The Jess.

A girl came out just as we went in.

Lucky for us, there were two stalls. And no one else in there. Phew. Unluckily, we weren’t wearing shoes and had to brave the dirty public restroom barefoot.

“Don’t listen.”

“You either.”

I felt so much better afterwards. I reached for the toilet paper. Crap.

“Jess, there’s no toilet paper! Please tell me you have toilet paper over there!”

“I do.”

She couldn’t pass it under the side because the wall went all the way down.  I had to wait until she was done and out to pass some under the door.

“Oh crap. No soap either.”

We walked down to the beach and scrubbed our hands with sand and salt water, whilst trying not to let the phone I stashed in my bra fall into the water.

At least we got half of our leisurely walk in.

On another note, there is an art exhibition in Sydney from 6-8 December called Alpabetica  which has been designed to raise funds for the Dandelion Support Network – a not-for-profit organisation started by mums, that provides much needed baby equipment to less fortunate families in NSW and ACT.

26 local and internationally renowned artists, illustrators and typographers, including the likes of Jeff Rogers (US) and Steve Wilson (UK) have each created their own unique interpretation of a single letter of the alphabet, which will be displayed and on sale between 6-8th December at Sydney’s ‘He Made She Made’ gallery in Darlinghurst. I bet kids will love it! (I did not receive anything for this blurb, I am just supporting the cause and think it’s a great idea).

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Radelaide

29 Nov

I’m back from Adelaide! I could have done some blogging when I was over there, but I couldn’t be bothered. Sorry. I didn’t even check my emails. I was too busy spending time with Jess and the kids.

We walked around the airport before departing to expend some of the seemingly endless toddler and preschooler energy. Both kids LOVED looking at all the planes.

“Is that our plane? Is that our plane? Can we get on it now Mommy?” Hannah kept asking me.

Hannah was very good on the flight. She ate her snacks and looked out the window. Only at the end did she start with the “are we there yet? Are we there yet? Mommy when are we going to be there?” questions. Daniel on the other hand….

Daniel was quite tired. I got the flight that departed just before his bed time, if you remember. Unfortunately, he didn’t sleep a wink, and instead was very grumpy. Luckily though, he didn’t scream. As long as I was rocking and/or bouncing him. The. Entire. Time. Sigh. My back was killing me by the time we arrived, but at least I didn’t have a screaming child and all of the plane staring at me with annoyance.  Although I’m sure the poor lady who got stuck sitting next to us must have been annoyed with all the bouncing. And with Daniel reaching behind himself to push buttons on her keyboard without my knowledge. Cheeky monkey.

I’m so glad the flight was pretty fast. It even arrived 10 minutes early.

Getting off the plane

We were going to ride the bus everywhere during our stay, until we found out that the bus to the zoo cost $20 per person per direction. Hiring car seats cost $35 per seat for a week.

Chasing Meerkats that were running from side to side in their enclosure was a favourite activity at the zoo. Apparently Daniel LOVES animals. Even the cardboard cut outs of animals.

The meerkat was not very cooperative with the camera, but the kids were running after it as it ran from one side of it’s glass sided enclosure to the other.

We went strawberry picking at Beerenberg Farm where Daniel tried to eat green strawberries and had tantrums when I wouldn’t let him.

The Jess, Me, and the kids strawberry picking

The Jess lives in a swish new apartment in a brand new building right across the street from a beautiful beach. Daniel had a blast chasing seagulls back and forth along the beach (hmm…I sense a pattern here) and playing in a tide pool while Hannah enjoyed making sandcastles and collecting sea shells.

Daniel playing in the water

The Jess and I even got a couple of runs in whilst the kids were asleep (don’t go calling CPS/DOCS, Jim stayed in the apartment with the kids). I think I’d go running everyday if I lived at the beach. Beach runs are awesome. 

The view from our run. This photo was taken while I was running….

The Jess’ apartment is crazy long, so the kids had a ball running up and down the crazy long hallway, chasing each other and giggling. She had her birthday while we were there (the purpose of our visit) and Hannah and I made her a super delicious black forest brownie cake. My own creation.

The Jess blowing out her sparkler candles

The one day The Jess had to work while we were there, I took the kids on the bus to a shopping centre. I got their hair cut (Daniel’s for the very first time!), and then took them to the little playground inside the centre.

And then this happened:

The egg on his head.

Daniel was so excited about the little toddler sized slide in the play area that he would go up the stairs, down the slide and then run around to the stairs again. On about his 10th pass to the slide, he tripped and went forehead first into the pointy end of the wall on the side of the slide stairs.

I had to find a doctor, convince him to see us even though they didn’t have any free appointments, and pay some money because they didn’t bulk bill.

Then, because I had to take Daniel to the doctor, my two hour bus ticket expired and I didn’t have enough cash to pay for another ticket.

“I’ll just go to the ATM and get the next bus.” I told the driver.

But everyone is nice in South Australia (everyone I encountered at least), and he let me ride the bus for free.

The Jess sometimes refers to Adelaide as Radelaide. Because you know what? It’s pretty rad. People are nice, it’s clean, there are really awesome parks all over the place, great beaches, etc., etc. I really like Adelaide. Maybe I’d be singing a different tune if I’d visited in the height of summer where they have heat waves for days on end with temps over 40 degrees (104f). Ick.

Hmmm… WordPress seems to have changed their media uploading page. I can’t find the slideshow button, so you get a gallery instead. It’s so annoying when they change stuff and you have to relearn how to do everything. Humph.

Anyway, the verdict on flying at bedtime or when fully awake? Fully awake hands down. On the way home, we went to the airport straight after Daniel’s nap. He sat in my lap nicely the whole time, eating snacks, playing with his dinosaurs, and watching Peppa Pig on the iPad. Not a whinge was heard, nor was he at all restless. I didn’t even feel bad playing Peppa Pig without headphones because there was a family sitting in front of us, and guess what their kids did the entire flight? Yep, Peppa Pig on the iPad.

Sorry if there are spelling mistakes or sentences that don’t make sense. I’m tired, so I’m going to bed without proof reading it. Oh well. Also, please click the banner and vote for me. My rank is falling since I haven’t been posting. Pretty please? Thanks.

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Easy, or completely horrible

20 Nov

Remember when I went to the U.S. with Hannah all by myself when I was pregnant with Daniel? Flying with a toddler was hard. 

And now I’m about to do it again. Except this time, I have a toddler and a preschooler. I’m not going so far away though, only to Adelaide to see the Jess. Still, the thought of flying with both kids by myself is rather terrifying.  I’m trying not to think about it as I pack our bags for our flight.

Our evening flight. My hope is that the kids will both be super tired because the flight departs at nearly their bed time, plus all the running up and down terminals looking at planes. Daniel’s never seen a plane before. Not close up anyway, only as a speck in the sky as they fly past. Add to the tiredness Peppa Pig episodes on the iPad, and I’m desperately hoping it’s a recipe for calm, quiet, non-fidgeting, sitting still the whole flight, awesome flying kids.

On the flip side, the almost bed time flight could mean overtired, whingey, cranky, kids who spend the entire trip screaming in my ears, Daniel desperately trying to free himself from my lep, kicking the person next to me, so he can get down and run wild up the aisle. I’m obviously gunning for the former.

Either way, I’m sure all of the other passengers will hate us. Option one requires them to listen to Peppa Pig for an hour and a half, since I can’t give both kids headphones to watch the same iPad. Option two requires them to listen to ear popping screams for an hour and a half from one child, possibly accompanied by bruises from kicky little legs. Not to mention the approximately one million are we there yet’s from Hannah. Oh well, at least I’ll never have to see my fellow passengers again. I hope. 

Easy, or completely horrible, it’s happening tomorrow.

Wish me luck.

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Weekend with The Jess

29 Oct

I know, I haven’t written much on the blog lately. Sigh. But I had a good reason. The Jess (aka The Sister-in-law) was here. If you remember, she moved to Adelaide over 3 months ago and I haven’t seen her since. Until Wednesday when I picked her up from the airport at almost 9pm.

Speaking of which, when I was there, in that little car park that gives you 10 minutes for free, I saw a woman wearing a fluffy pink bathrobe walking around looking for people. Clearly she was there to pick them up, but come on, is it that hard to put clothes on? I wonder at what point/what age you think “Hmm… I’m picking someone up from the airport. Eh, I’ll just wear my bathrobe,” and that seems perfectly ok and reasonable. Or maybe she is just a huge prankster and thought it would be hilarious.

The 10 minute car park seems like a good idea, but I got there a bit too early (I left myself some getting lost time. I may be prone to such things…) and didn’t really want to drive the entire airport loop while I waited for The Jess’ flight to come in. I didn’t want to get lost after I somehow managed to find the tiny car park entrance in the first place. Needless to say, I had to pay for my parking spot. I was there for about 15 minutes. They used to give you 15 minutes free. Sigh.

Usually on Thursdays, I clean the house and go to the gym while Hannah is at preschool and Daniel is at daycare. But you know, that would be kind of rude while I have a guest. So I took the day off. We went to the shopping centre (where I applied for my Australian passport!!!), went out to lunch, tried on some clothes, got a few groceries. We were done by 12:30.

“What do you want to do now?” The Jess asked me.

“Um…I have no idea.” Spoken like a true mom who rarely gets spare time. We were thinking of going to see a movie, but they are so expensive these days (and I’m cheap frugal) and it was such a beautiful day, we didn’t want to waste it being shut in a giant room with no windows. “I just want to enjoy the sunshine.”

We ended up going to Grandma’s house, filling up the kiddie pool, and reading books in the sun as we ate ice blocks and dangled our feet in the pool. It was awesome.

She stayed for 3 short days and then flew home again. I miss her, and can’t wait until next month, when the kids and I fly to Adelaide for a visit! Ok, I can’t wait for the visiting part, the flying with 2 kids by myself part…. Not so much.

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Maybe I’m crazy

5 Oct

I’m excited and terrified all at the same time.

The kids and I are going to visit The Jess. You may remember The Jess is my sister in law, who also happens to be my best friend (besides my cousin Jennifer, but I haven’t seen her in 4 years). I used to see The Jess at least once per week. Her husband thinks we’re co-dependant. At least he did. Before they moved to Adelaide. Sigh. I miss The Jess.

It’s been a couple of months since she moved. I haven’t seen her since. At least I’ve been busying myself with going to the gym and bible study, and junior jivers (a playgroup), and kindy gym.

The Jess’ birthday is in November, so it’s the perfect time to visit. She lives across the street from the beach by the way.

I’m terrified of the plane ride. Ugh. Visions of flying with Hannah by myself to the U.S. are filling my head. I had nicely repressed those memories for the last year.

She hardly slept the whole flight, we spent half of it walking the aisle, and she wouldn’t eat anything. On the way back, she vomited all over me during turbulence, and everyone spent the rest of the flight smelling it and wondering loudly where the smell was coming from. As if I was going to tell anyone it was me. How did I not write a blog post about that?

Anyway, that was hard enough with 1, but now I’ve got two. Daniel doesn’t like to stay put for 2 seconds and I can’t exactly walk the aisles on a domestic flight. People don’t really do that.  Even if I could, what would I do with Hannah? Leave her by herself at her seat watching cartoons? Make her follow me up and down the aisles? What if Hannah has to pee? We’ll somehow all have to fit in the tiny bathroom as I try to make sure Hannah doesn’t fall in the toilet at the same time dissuade Daniel from shoving his hands in the bin, unrolling the toilet paper, banging on the door, and causing all sorts of mischief I haven’t even thought of.

What if he won’t hold still and spends the whole flight screaming and writhing around in my lap, kicking and pushing on my hands that are trying to keep him from getting off of my lap? What if they both decide to be cranky and scream the whole time?

I guess then I’d be that mom. That person that everyone looks at with disgusted looks on their faces, wondering why, OH WHY did she bring 2 little kids on their flight?

I think Hannah will be easy. Just give her the iPad and let her watch Mickey Mouse. She’d love that.

But if Daniel sees Hannah with the iPad, he’ll want the iPad. Because, you know, computers, iPads, and phones are like the best thing ever when you’re 1. He will whinge and point and throw himself towards that seemingly magical iPad that he so badly wants to poke. When he isn’t allowed to have it, he will throw himself backwards, bashing his head against my face, whilst screaming. Seriously, that is what he does.

So yeah, I’m sure we’ll have a great time in Adelaide, but getting there (and home again)…. Sigh. Maybe I’m crazy to even try.

How do you fly by yourself with 2 little kids? What is your secret?

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