Friday, January 4, 2019

Disney on Ice - Fifth Time as Fun as the First

As we headed out to the Webster Bank arena in Bridgeport last night for Disney on Ice, we did our normal recap of previous shows. The very first year when we got a meet and greet with Mickey and Minnie. The year when everything was "Dream Big" princesses (and a huge hit), but we were able to see eight skaters forming a dragon that breathed fire. The year that we thought wouldn't happen due to an issue with the ice, but which ended up being one of our favorites. Last year, when Frozen dominated the show and we realized how perfectly Frozen fits in with an ice performance. And then I realized, this is the fifth show we've gotten to see.

I was provided with a four pack of tickets in exchange for this review, but all opinions are my own.

Five years, five different shows, five different experiences. From a not-quite two year old on wiggling on my lap to an almost seven year old dancing in the aisles. From a three year old who considered herself a princess expert, to an eight year old who is still entranced by the spectacle. It's been five years, and the show works just as well for toddlers as it does for big kids. That's Disney Magic right there.

Each Disney on Ice show has its own theme, and this year, the show we saw was "Worlds of Enchantment". Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy introduce us to four different mini-shows: Toy Story 3, The Little Mermaid, Cars, and Frozen. Four very different shows, some of which I wondered how they effectively would translate to ice (Cars? How would that work? And how would the size of the people and toys translate in Toy Story?).

The show was great, as we've come to expect. Each mini-show was about twenty-five minutes and managed to get both the gist of the story and the crucial musical numbers. The girls LOVED watching the Barbie and Ken interactions at Sunnyside Daycare, and I really enjoyed all the green toy army men skating in their formations and parachuting in. Under the Sea, with the colorful costumes and props is an amazing spectacle, and, like I've said before, Frozen was just MADE to be performed on ice.

As for the cost, tickets are definitely affordable. I always think the best views are from above when you're looking at this grand a production. Yes, there's something to be said from being close to the ice (we've done that too), but you can get seats with a great view for as low as $15.

Bridgeport is a GREAT arena to see a show, because it's right off two major highways, and there's plenty of parking. Very easy in and out. We've parked in the garage, but the past two years we've opted for the big outdoor lot. Both are $10, which is about what I've come to expect for any show parking. We arrived at 6:15 for a 7:00 show and there was plenty of parking. Leaving is always a bit of a mess of cars, but we were out of the lot and on the highway within 10 minutes.

The add ons are what can get you every time. Last year I told the girls they could each get a light up souvenir, which are expensive - averaging about $30. This year I told them - in advance - that we weren't doing it. They're fun at the show, they're fun for a short time after, but now that my girls are older, they're forgotten (or dying) within a few weeks. In fact, during our last toy clean out, we purged a few of those types of toys. But the great part about Disney on Ice is that the concessions come with souvenirs too, and I'm much more likely to ok those. I got each girl a cotton candy ($15) that came with a crown with Mickey ears, and four of us split a $12 popcorn in a Mickey tote bag. Lemonade and sno cones are comparably priced (average of $15) and come with take home cups.

NOTE: It is COLD in the arena. I mean, duh, it's ice. But we've noticed that the past two years have been exceptionally chilly. I wonder if some of that is due to the snow that falls during Frozen. Still, be prepared. We wore our winter coats the whole time and were kind of wishing we'd brought a blanket.

Reagan loved it, but was a bit disappointed at the serious lack of princesses (she's not into princesses like she was a few years ago, but she was definitely anticipating them and figured they'd be out for the finale as always. If you have a princess lover, be prepared for that with this particular show. The Toy Story and Cars segments were great and Reagan definitely enjoyed them, but I think she had a picture in her mind and it didn't quite line up.

With Madison, I'm starting to wonder if she's getting too old for certain things. Although she was by no means the oldest kid there, she did notice how many toddlers and preschoolers there were, and she wasn't jumping up and down in her seat like she was four years ago. Although she always loves the opportunities, I'm wondering if she's starting to wish I got tickets to Kidz Bop or JoJo Siwa (and let's face it, she is definitely wishing that). But once the show starts, she's finding new things to be excited about. She GETS what a big production should look like, and she's impressed with all the talent. It isn't "babyish", it's a show, and the production value of anything Disney is spectacular.

Disney on Ice is at the Webster Bank arena for the rest of the weekend (today, tomorrow, and Sunday) with tickets still available from or the box office at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport. Next weekend the production moves to Hartford, so there are plenty of chances to catch this fun show in CT!

Monday, December 10, 2018

Winter Messes

Oh, I'm in my annoyed stage of December. I am trying SO HARD to be cleaned and ready for Christmas, and everything is fighting against me.

First of all, I'm bringing up about 900 new pieces of clutter (ok, fine, decorations). The girls are adding in all of these amazing projects and crafts that they are excitedly making and so proud of. Glittery snowmen! Button trees! Wax ornaments! Puffy paint kitchen towels! They have advent calendars that need to stay out so they can open them daily.

Then the cardboard. The sheer amount of cardboard, which feels completely disproportionate to amount of gifts we've purchased, but which is piling up ALL over the house, waiting to be cut down so we can recycle it. And since downstairs is what HAS to look nice, all the cardboard is ending up upstairs, cluttering up the hallway and our bedroom.

Then the projects. Projects came home from both co-ops. Projects came home from church. Big, elaborate, semester long projects that instill feelings of pride and desire for display by my kids. You know what goes beautifully with a cluttered table of snowmen? A giant diorama about animal classifications.

PLUS, I am 900 times busier with shopping and wrapping and Elf-ing and mailing and decorating, but we're also still homeschooling. And we have FOUR field trips (all to beautifully festive places and shows). So I have books and worksheets piled up as usual, and I am falling behind on my every day upkeep. And I have learned that if I fall behind, it is VERY hard to catch up. And I'm falling behind on the daily stuff every day.

By the way, when I brought this up, I learned that many homeschoolers take December off, for this very reason. I've always been more of a "follow a traditional calendar because we have so many non homeschooling friends and activities" person, but I am now REALLY feeling the logic.

Then there's the winter mess. Even on dry days, we have gloves and boots and hats and scarves and coats. After the first snowfall we ended up with the bath towel in the mudroom as a spot for slushy salty boots. And I'm still determined to keep my new car spic and span on the inside and NOT let winter salt and sand beat me.

But for all these messes I complain about, I love this season and I'm actually not outwardly grinchy at all. Don't tell me to cut back or not decorate.

After all, it's the best time of the year!

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Solstice Musings

We're almost there. Almost to the shortest day. Once we get there, the days will only get longer.

I don't mind the days starting to get shorter, back in the fall when darkness is falling around 6:30 or 7:00. But now we're firmly in the season of dark mornings and dark evenings, and my body just craves more daytime to feel energized.

Then there's the driving into the sun. I HATE driving into the sun. The other day, the girls and I were on a field trip for the day. In the morning, I felt we were driving right into the sun, still rising and low in the sky. By the time we were heading home in the afternoon, we were driving right into the sunset. The glare was unreal and within minutes, even with my visor down and my sunglasses on, I had a headache. It feels like there's no way around it this time of year. I've altered my routes and they ALL seems to drive directly into the setting sun.

Yes, I realize this is not possible. Still happens.  

You'd think the dark days would make the girls easier around bedtime, and in the fall, the earlier darkness does. But by mid-December, when it's dark from 4:00 on, they're immune to it. If it's dark in the afternoon, and THAT wasn't bedtime, then it's obviously not bedtime at 8:30 either. I mean, it looks no different than 4:00! Never mind that it feels like MY bedtime should be at 7:00.

But this also means that we have Christmas lights to see on our way to dance by 5:00. The girls got to play in the first snow in the moonlight, which they thought was absolutely amazing. And cuddling under blankets watching movies isn't exactly the worst way to spend an evening with my family, and in the winter, it feels like we have more TIME to do that.

And, as Madison said, once we get to the shortest day, we get to start having more sun every day again.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Surviving the Shopping

First of all, yes, I have the internet, and yes, I'm well adept at ordering things online in my pajamas. I've shopped from the bathtub, I've actively bought presents for my kids while hanging out with them. So all those memes about "why is everyone out on Black Friday, do you people not have wifi?" don't really apply. I love my wifi and my jammies. But online shopping will never replace in person shopping for me entirely. I need to hold things and see things and sort and tally in person.

So yeah, I contribute to the holiday craziness in the stores. In my defense, after my traditional Black Friday solo excursion (which I try to do at the lull in the predawn hours), I really try to stick to as many weekdays as I can, and as many off hours as I can.

That being said, I've waited in some lines. I've also walked into stores, seen the lines and walked back out. I've gone to three different Targets searching for a "RainbowCorn", that I saw all the time when I was with Reagan, but when I finally got my chance to shop without her, were nowhere to be found. I've signed up for at least one credit card, just for the ridiculous discount, and used it precisely once before paying it off, but I've also turned down at least six different offers.

But the WORST is the parking lots. I'm a big fan of parking off to the side, parking as far away as possible to get a pull through, and eyeing the cars next to me up and down to check for door ding potential. Because I swear, people completely lose their minds in December. I can normally navigate a parking lot, even a crowded one, with no issue. But so far this month I've almost been hit while driving and walking by people who seem to have lost all sense of how to navigate society.

The first weekend of shopping people seem to be pleasant and full of holiday cheer. They're polite, they're festive, and there's almost an experience feel about the shopping. But after that...nope. It's long lines of grumpy people who can't BELIEVE that the OG section of Target is looking picked over.

So to survive...I do the first weekend. Then I stick to off times and online.

And now, if I have to park, I park FAR away and walk in on high alert, because you never know who is going to tear around a corner at full speed.

And I know the January sales are going to be epic!

Friday, November 23, 2018

Why Do I Do This?

 Every year.

Every year we visit family, rather than host Thanksgiving dinner. I don't eat turkey, so I understand that people probably think it's silly to have me take charge of cooking one. Plus, the family on both sides who take the hosting role have been doing it for enough years that it would feel like a dramatic change.

So every year we bounce from one family to the other (dinner at one, appetizers or dessert at the other), I have to bring my contributions with me.

Because of course I have to bring a contribution. I would never show up empty handed, and I'm sure it would cause some raised eyebrows if I decided to do it. And I don't want to show up with a supermarket veggie tray or a bag of chips or cheese and crackers or a bottle of wine. Yes, that would be easier. But, to me, that implies that I'm not capable of anything beyond using a credit card.

It needs to be noted that this is entirely me. No one has ever said I should only bring things I can purchase. I'm sure both homes we went to would love if I took care of those things.

So when I'm charged with bringing the appetizers, as I was this year, I start trolling Pinterest and making shopping lists that include things like brie and goat cheese and fig jam and prosciutto and pomegranate seeds. I don't know exactly how much I spent at the grocery store buying appetizer ingredients for two locations, but I know it was much more than a turkey, stuffing and potatoes. And definitely more than a veggie tray.

Then, on Thanksgiving morning, I had all the stress of trying to put make and put together two beautiful platters that showed off my amazing culinary skills and creativity and figure out how to cover them and transport them in my new car that I did NOT want to smell like brie for the next year.

And then, while, yes, they did get eaten and complimented, people also spent plenty of times eating the chips and veggies and cheese and crackers that the hostesses provided (because I was bringing HOMEMADE apps of course), and I had well over half left over.

So, explain to me again, WHY do it to myself every year?

In a word, tradition.

No, it doesn't make sense, but tradition is tradition. Can't fight it!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Prepping for Winter

We've spent the last few weeks both preparing for winter and debating how long we want to stay in the northeast. We have no immediate plans to leave the state, but it's a discussion that we're having. There's a big financial perk to leaving, but we'd also have to do a lot to the house before we can sell it, and renovating a house we're not planning to stay in, and then selling it, all while homeschooling sounds terrible. 

But there is something to be said for not having to do all the winter prep. To put the driveway stakes out, to make room in the garage for the snowblower, to make sure there's gas FOR the snowblower. We need to make sure the cars are ready and have the right supplies, just in case. We need to make sure we have one eye on the forecast when we make plans.

Then there's the stuff. The heavy coats for outside stuff. The fleeces we wear out and about. The hats and the fuzzy boots for dry weather and the snow boots for gross weather. The hats and scarves and gloves, usually not where we need them at any given time.

We bundle up and go out, then we're inside carrying coats and sweating. We shiver our way across parking lots, then boil in the mall.

And yes, the snow looks pretty, until it's slushy and gray and the plow knocks down our mailbox (we live on a bend in the road and we seem to lose our mailbox every winter). The worst of the snow always seems to happen when Adam is traveling, and although I am a strong independent woman, I hate running the snowblower and would rather just hibernate and cross my fingers that our neighbor decides to plow.

So I sound pretty much like I'm ready to migrate, right?

But the thing is, when I think of moving to warmer climates, when I see friends of ours in shorts at Thanksgiving and decorating palm trees and taking a Christmas swim, not as a vacation getaway, but because that's the norm, I don't know if I can do it. I love the joy the girls have when it snows. I love letting them cuddle in fuzzy pjs and blankets. I like wearing sweaters and fuzzy boots.

Really, I like all four seasons. There are things that annoy me about each, but I don't think that I could settle on one climate that I'd like to have exclusively.

So we set out stakes and create new organizational systems to corral hats and gloves and boots, and get ready to hibernate!

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