30 April 2011
28 April 2011
27 April 2011
Julia loved Cinderella's castle even though there was not much in it for her to see.
Waiting and busing and waiting some more. Julia worked on her Leapster. What thrilled me was that she was doing the first grade program sometimes not just "Pet Pals."
More drums. It seems that there is a drum station in every park, and Julia tried them all.
A friendly dinosaur to pose with.
This was the automatic picture that was taken on the dinosaur ride. Julia was the one who was really frightened, but somehow I look a whole lot more scared than she does.
"Riding" to dino-land with some friends.
26 April 2011
21 April 2011
19 April 2011
We found the flatten body of our new friend. Julia picked out the heart and also the sound box which says "I love you." Then, she helped the dino maker blow in the stuffing and Julia watched carefully as the dino maker laced up the dino real tight to keep all the stuffing inside.
Julia was pretty happy with the result.
Julia washed her new dinosaur under the dino "shower."
And found a lovely pink dress and matching shoes. We registered our dino, gave her a name, and they packed our new Lizzy the T-Rex up for take home.
There was one more dino to pet before we left the store.
Julia and Lizzy.
Lizzy came out with us that evening, as we walked around the boardwalk, stopped to roast some marshmallows, and have dinner in a cool cafe.
Lizzy also enjoyed the street performer. She was very enthusiastic about cheering the juggler on!
18 April 2011
17 April 2011
Saturday was lovely -- a bit overcast or not intensely sunny which made for pretty pleasant walking around. We did Epcot, hitting most of the big rides, -- no space adventure (?) for us and none of the country movies -- met some classic character which again impressed Julia, and finished the evening at the Mexican restaurant from which we watched the fireworks show. Julia showed a bit of strain after hours in the world of the future but that place was crowded. I had read that Epcot is terrifically spread out (and that was my memory of it as well) and there were obstacles, like breeze-blown water from fountains. It was also just not as much fun for Julia as Magic Kingdom. Still, she was quite a trouper. We went back to the room in the late mid-afternoon, Cheshire and I to nap a bit, Julia to color or play on her leapster, and that reset Julia’s tolerance for more.
Yesterday, Julia broke out in a very itchy skin rash from the sun screen that Cheshire applied on Friday. Julia had the same problem a few years ago and I changed sun screen. I thought I had brought the right one on this trip. We have not been in intense sun for hours yet, but today was planned as our “quiet” pool day and I had hoped to hit the beach for a short time on Tuesday or Wednesday when we visit grandpa.
The rash did not show up until 24 hours after it was applied -- as we were ready to go out the door yesterday morning. Thankfully, applying sunscreen was the last thing before leaving that we intended to do and just were ready to do it. Julia complained of itching and the rash seemed to bloom before our eyes. I stripped her immediately and put her in a bath and fed her benedryl. This helped but wore off at our late dinner at the Mexican restaurant. Poor kid, itched, scratched, and tried to refrain from scratching during the whole meal. The very sweet waiter brought us ice wrapped in a napkin and we applied it to various parts of Julia’s body that bothered her the most. She seemed much better when the meal came -- she ate all of our rice and some of my very delicious pork mole. She also tried and liked guacamole for the first time! She had tried it before at home and never like it -- I thought it was mostly texture as she doesn’t really enjoy thick pasty food. Oh, what an awful description for some of my favorite foods. Last night, she ate some that I fed her and then dug in herself. So nice if we have a new food that I enjoy.
We continue to battle the rash which erupts every few hours on different parts of Julia's body. I found more benedryl, and Julia has either in the pool or bathing a few times today. Poor kid looks swollen and is trying her best not to scratch.
Snapped by Cheshire on the bus going to the Magic Kingdom. Do you think she was excited??
First sighting of Cinderella's castle. Ah, the magic.
The wild duck!
Ears, ears, sequined mouse ears. Do all little girls look splendid in mouse ears?
After the evening's performance of La Nouba. Some cool hats, huh?
David and I, and admittedly more David than I, came close to despising places like Disney World. Nothing is real. Out of swampland rose a “magic kingdom” with rides, amusements, restaurants and more stores than in the Mall of America. It was in no way organic -- people did not gather for pleasure in a simpler time at a beach or a lake here in Orlando. The beach and the lake were dug and sand imported. No natural beauty was demanded attendance, no ancient religious rituals gathered natives from far and wide to celebrate yearly festivals. But 20 years after our last visit, which was our third (excused, at least in our own minds, that we were visiting David’s father and Claire and so might as well experience what so many people talked about), Julia, Cheshire and I allow ourselves to be embraced by the magic of this ersatz kingdom.
And magic, in very carefully controlled terms, it certainly is. And I have the pictures to prove it.
But it all takes time -- I forgot, or never knew, how spread out it is. Transportation takes forever, and although incredibly friendly, the “cast” will direct you to walk in the longest way possible between any two points and will parade you in front of every retail establishment known to man or beast helping you get to your destination. Just what part of frustration don't they understand?? (And of course, this is why the Unofficial Disney tour book and others like it exist).
So, I channel the curmudgeon spirit of my dear David and let it go to enjoy what certainly is magic.
And it is magic.
We are staying in a lovely room, in a very lovely resort -- paid for in part by the conference that I attended, and helped along by the “conference rates” for everything from room to park tickets that we are entitled to use. Boardwalk Inn is a lovely, if not almost too big, resort. Every room has a balcony for early morning and late night sitting -- ours faces a very quiet internal garden which is not at all exciting in the evening (thank, goodness!). It is big enough, lush enough, and efficient enough to feel vacation as a noun and a verb.
There are some strange things -- no map at check in. Hence, the necessity of bringing something from home, or of course, buying it on arrival. And although everyone is helpful, solicitous, generous with advice and help, it is on a need to know basis. As in, the cast member who checks you in will not recommend a particular restaurant but will direct you to a plethora of possibilities which can be mind numbing, and for which you had better have made a reservation for two months. (Again, thanking the gods, the cheat books and my cousin in London for that advice).
I went conferencing yesterday -- content will be discussed later -- in a lovely conference center in which all needs were met almost by magic -- a faulty mike replaced almost before a speaker finished her sentence, an additional table appeared and was set without one attendee looking rather lost as he realized his hands were full from the buffet and all the existing seats full. Even my small challenge getting on the internet our first evening here was taken care of first by a tech support phone call (the best tech support since my federal court days and those guys were the best!) and the next day, by an early morning visit which took care of whatever problem there was.
And so, with creature comforts taken care of, and beauty everywhere -- look at “green” Julia told me as we entered the property on Thursday, an apt exclamation for our garden-starved, spring-Wisconsin eyes -- we eased into vacation.
While I conferenced yesterday, Cheshire took Julia to the Magic Kingdom. The pictures say it all -- hours of rides and characters and kid fun. Julia was kissed by Pinocchio and proclaimed her eternal love. She loved her sequined ears and was savvy enough to ask for ear plugs and head phones when the noise got too intense. Although on that last note, Julia did not use plugs and phones during the day and Cheshire assured me that it was sufficiently loud to require them. Julia did need auditory remission at the very loud Puck’s restaurant, touring the Disney Marketplace, and certainly at the Cirque du Soleil show. But again, she was in charge of when to put these things on. Julia is learning to control her environment or just to control the effect that the environment has on her.
The Cirque du Soleil show, La Nouba, was spectacular. Cheshire loved the music; I was thrilled by the visual elements which incorporated an eclectic mixture of French cinema, Comedia Del-Arte, shrill institution, and circus. The "acts" incorporated into the show -- trapeze, juggling, trampoline, uber-biking, tiny Chinese girls with two handed yo-yos, and a few more -- were all very well done and many times so imaginatively conceived as to make me really giggle. It was very loud and intense and too much was happening at the same time -- Julia was, for sure, over stimulated, but did great and was very excited.
It might become the theme of this vacation -- transportation within the "World" sucks. We were misdirected and not told about logical or short cuts getting from place to place. Friday night it almost cost us our dinner reservation, and produced a lot stress as we wolfed down food and ran to our show.
For me, the day was incredibly long, intense -- like at least three days in one.
Still, sweet day, good show, we all fell into bed exhausted with alarms set for Saturday.
On the flight to Disney and my conference. We will arrive in the early afternoon and Cheshire will get there tonight. Can’t wait to see her.
Disney travel feeds into my planning compulsion. I’ve always micro-planned vacations, David would have said I over-plan and it was always a bone of contention between us. Still, I claim that we saw more, did more and knew about more when we travelled. Don’t know who was right.
Disney encourages compulsion! On site guests can make meals reservations 180 days before they arrive. Even I am not that compulsive, but . . . given the opportunity, who knows. I did get at least a meal a day reserved almost a month ago. Of course, that means that I had to commit to a park within which we’ll eat. So, I did ask Cheshire about a month ago which park she would want to take Julia to on Friday -- the day that I will be in conference.
And deals expire on certain pre-travel dates and so encourage planning. Having the conference at Disney entitles us to a slight discount on entry tickets -- a deal that expires the day before travel. When I bought ticket, I had to designate where I would pick them up and when. Again, more of a plan put in place.
Hopefully, we get a pass to avoid some of the long lines. It is offered to parties that include a disabled person. I have a note from our doc, and Julia should qualify. I really don’t know how much time this will save, but more important, we can usually wait on one long line a day. So, either we will zip from ride to show to ride without lines, or we will choose a very few long line rides or shows and do that for a day and spend the rest of the time at the pools or walking around.
When David and I went to Disney before Cheshire was born -- as part of a vacation to visit Dad and Claire in Deerfield Beach -- we reserved a hotel and check out park tickets, and we may have arrived early at one or more of the parks, but that was the only planning we did. We wandered around rather aimlessly, skipping long lines and going back to some of those ride or shows later. And I think, we saw most of the attractions. “They” say that doesn’t happen anymore.
This time, I have refrained from making and ordering the customized attraction maps of the parks that are available online at Disney.com. Too much feeding of my compulsion; too much enabling.
Julia and I had a hard morning on Tuesday. It was foolish and unnecessary and this time I was the one who dug in my heels. I wound up yelling at her. All over the way she flushes the toilet. Granted, she tends to flood or not completely flush. And her jiggling of the lever drives me nuts. Still, doing an ABA-style discrete training during which I made her repeat a feasible way to flush - something she was almost unable to do, especially with my yelling in frustration - was awful. Julia almost missed the morning bus, and only made it running out the door and calling for it to wait. I threatened that I would let her miss it if necessary. Foolish, foolish. And I did not like myself afterwards.
However, the spirit of this child rises and roars. When she got off the bus in the afternoon, her first words to me were, “Are you ready to apologize to me?” And I did. That was a phrase right out of my childhood, and I never use it with Julia. Where did she hear it? Is she channeling my mother? Now there is a scary thought.
Later on that day, I had a phone session with Ellen, my energy healer, and we talk about the twin towers of guiding principles that have long plagued me. I believe in both structure/tradition/establishment and free thought/creativity. On one hand I would have loved to spend my whole like in my village of birth -- okay, my suburban Jersey town of birth. I would have loved to follow the rules, and live according to the customs of church, family, and the middle class. But I never could. As much as I longed for it, the basic decisions that I instinctively made tore me away from that life. On the other hand, I wanted to be wild and crazy -- live the extravagant, self-indulgent artist’s life in NYC. But again, I was pulled from that by the gut feelings that bound me to my internal suburbia.
The relationship between these two ideals was all out and total war. If one was right the other was wrong. And that was the only way it could be. I come by this idea of the black and white of right and wrong honestly. It sounds so much like my mother. It is my mother.
What Ellen talked about was a middle way, and more importantly, an end to the fighting. Ending this war holds the promise of eradicating the feelings of frustration, the feeling that I never get anything done. I was reluctant to fully engage with Ellen this time. It was harder work than what we have done before. It felt closer to some core-principles.
I cried long and hard after I hung up, not even sure why but feeling the raging battle of structure versus creativity welled up and overflowed. Then, thoughts of David came up and I realized that David lived with much the same dilemma and walked the line between the two much more gracefully than I do. Not perfectly, by any means. And not without plenty of time and energy pumped into the battle. However, before the end of his life, he had managed to find some middle ground, some mutual solution, using both sides without compromising some essential part of himself. I am seeing it as I spend days and weeks going through his papers. I did not know and could not describe what I was looking at but I see now. I also saw it in the last theater piece he wrote -- written between the transplant and his death and performed in February.
And so, plenty of tears as well for missing him -- my partner, my teacher. We would have talked about this. I know that like Dorothy in Oz, that I had to discover the idea of mutual solutions myself, and I know that I am learning this lesson when it was time to learn it. But this learning is really moving on from David. This is discovering something new that I did not know before. And I miss not telling him. Not as my physical, right here, partner and friend.
It took an entire day to release some of that hard work and bad feelings. Still, yesterday (Wednesday) I was caught in my own trauma, dealing with the UW clinic that prescribes Julia’s ADHD meds. I needed a few extra of her Adderall to get me through next week. After two days of getting in touch over and over, and being assured each time that it would be taken care of and that I would be called back, I was told at 5:30 p.m. that there was nothing they could do because state law would not allowed the pharmacy to release these meds more than 7 days ahead of time. And yesterday, was 7 days ahead. Of course, that was the last of several stories I had heard during that day, and the problem really began because my doc did not get back to me or respond to my message at all. Some serious flaws in this system, and it is about as user unfriendly as it gets. Frustration does not describe the process.
I did lose my cool. I was the ugly patient, or ugly mother of a patient. But even in the cool light of the next day, when controls and rationality have been firmly re-established, I cannot see any way that I could have improve the process and see all too many ways that the clinic was inefficient, ineffective, and just plain wrong. I don’t think that Julia’s state health insurance will allow me to change providers which I would like to do. This was not the first frustrating, inefficient encounter I’ve had with this clinic, but this was the first time I had to travel without the medication that I needed.
The clinic office manager who stayed 30 minutes after the clinic closed to try to sort out the inefficiencies and mistakes pointed out how much she had tried to help me. She apologized. But still did not get me the meds I needed. It wasn’t her fault -- it was the doctors’ faults, the receptionists fault, the pharmacy’s fault, and the new state law.
Yes, by the end of the day, I was a bitch. Thank goodness, I was not a bitch with a weapon. Sometimes the good judgment of believing strongly in a gun- free citizenry really pays off.
Julia and I spent the evening packing and getting ready to leave before 6 this morning. While I was packing, I gave Julia the job of making my bed. She had to figure out how to put the sheets and quilt on the big king bed and put on all of the pillow protectors and covers. It took her a long time -- 45 minutes or so -- but she did it. And she was tired enough afterwards to want to get into that bed and go to sleep.
Another interesting Julia thing, she is insisting on taking a book to bed with her every night. Right now, it is “The Merry Postman” She is so much a part of this family! How amazing that she has absorbed this -- yes, here is something that she has learned without our, now my, direct teaching.
I have been and will be spending time working on my trauma presentation which is due in class in two weeks. I only have 10 minutes to present and I’ve been trimming it down over and over. My rough draft probably represented a 45 minute presentation, and there is so much that I would like to share. But the focus is good for me. Maybe an all-important part of this leadership project.