Thursday, July 29, 2010

Sunny Days Chasing the Clouds Away...

Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?

So we finally took Leah to Sesame Place, which is in Langhorne, PA about an hour and a half from our house. The plan was for my husband and I to take both kids with my sister-in-law and niece who is almost two. At the last minute, I decided to leave baby Keith(BB) with my mother-in-law after a disastrous night at my husband's softball game. The deciding factors? I wasn't sure where I would be able to sit and nurse without distractions, how accessible this place was, and how hot it would be (BB turns into a cranky baby when it's hot). I am SOOO glad we didn't bring him, and we ended up having a great time, but definitely exhausting as I am writing about this now two days later.

Buy the Elmo Pass.
For $53 per person, you can go once or you can get the Elmo pass and go twice. Even if you end up hating it, you would have still paid the same price. Children under two are free, which is perfect for my SIL because my niece isn't two yet, but old enough to enjoy the park.

Bring your own stroller.
We were going to rent the double strollers they offer, but weren't able to reserve one online so we brought one. They weren't anything special, and if you need a stroller you probably have one anyway so just save yourself some $$$ and bring your own.

I haven't decided whether or not this is a good purchase at $15 for the locker plus a $5 deposit I got back at the end of the day. If you have a stroller, you can store stuff in the stroller (depending on the kind of stroller). I don't think I could get away without a locker, I always pack so much stuff. They are fairly large... we shoved my beach bag with three beach towels, a backpack, and a lunch box.

What's the deal with lunch?
Since I mentioned the lunch box... I need to mention that there was no lunch inside. Normally, I would be all for the bag lunch, but they are not allowed (even though we saw lots of people picnicking). There are requirements on cooler sizes as well if you are planning on packing beverages. Only baby food allowed (CRAZY!). I didn't get to see all of the food choices, but I'm assuming it's the typical kid favorites... mac 'n cheese, chicken fingers, pizza, fries, although my SIL did get a wrap and fruit salad, and we got an Elmo plate though to keep, so Leah was happy.

Wear your suits.
If you are planning to get wet, wear your suits to the park because the dry rides and wet rides are all mixed together. As soon as Leah saw the water rides she wanted to go on and we still had to change.

To wait or not to wait.
We only waited in line for two rides... the merry-go-round and the rambling river, both times Leah attempted to/succeeded at having a meltdown. There were plenty of things to do that didn't have lines. There were two long slides, a playground, Big Bird's "nest" for little kids, and bunch of connecting pools with fountains and such. However, if it's the rides you are going for, they have Abby's Magic Que, which when you pay $20-30 to skip to the front of the line, although we would have loved it on the rambling river because you can stay on without getting out.

And more waiting...
You also have to wait to talk to or have your picture taken with the characters. Lines would form immediately and would become really long. We skipped it and had the girls wave to the characters as we walked by instead.

There are three different types of lots, depending on how close you want to park; basic, premium, or VIP. We got to the park about an hour after it opened, parked near the front of the basic lot, and walked maybe a city block. Not too bad.

Remember that it's not about you..
You took your kids so they can have a good time, don't spend the whole day yelling at them. We didn't do rides for a reason. I knew I wouldn't have the patience to listen to that many meltdowns, and Leah doesn't know how to wait yet and would undoubtedly meltdown. So many people were yelling at their kids. Let them decide how the day goes (or if more than one take turns). IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU. My husband made the point at lunch that if he wanted to yell at his kids all day he could have "done that from my couch for free."

Overall, a really good day and I can't wait to take Leah back. She keeps asking us to take her back to Sesame Street. Even if we were really exhausted the next day... we just had some good quality family nap time.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Are veggies healthy if you deep fry them?

I'm so desperate to get Leah to try new foods (or old foods that she claims not to like) that I will take anything at this point. So tonight I decided to deep fry some zucchini, which my husband and I both love. I figured I would get Leah to help me make it and maybe she would try it. I'm not really sure of the nutritional value of deep fried zucchini. I'm sure the grease cancels out all of the good stuff in the zucchini, but as I said before... I'm starting to feel desperate.

Good news. She ate it with some marinara (I'll count that as a veggie since I had to discount the zucchini).

Bad news. I couldn't get it out of the fryer and cooled off fast enough. Then, it was too hot and she was afraid to burn herself and lost interest.

So it was short lived, but at least she tried it. I can't say as much for the rest of her dinner. Oh well. We'll just have to try again tomorrow.

Fried Zucchini Recipe (for those of you who want to pretend you are eating veggies)

2 large zucchini
2 eggs
1 Tbsp milk
2/3 c. seasoned bread crumbs
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan
1/8 tsp salt

We have a deep fryer so I set it to about 350F. You could also do this in a pan with some oil. I personally just have no patience for that and usually end up getting burnt with oil splatters. (Please don't let me deter you from trying it though.)

I cut the zucchini into coins, but I know other people cut it into strips. Again, personal preference.

Slightly beat 1 egg white and 1 egg with the milk. Put the mix in a Ziploc bag (gallon size worked well). Put the zucchini in and make sure they get covered.

In another bag, mix the bread crumbs, cheese and salt. Scoop out the zucchini pieces and place in the bread crumb mix and toss. This probably works better if done in batches. If it is done all at once (like we did), toward the end the zucchini doesn't have much of a bread crumb coating on it and comes out really, REALLY greasy. (I let Leah do all the coating of the zucchini.)

Put it in the fryer or pan in a single layer. We fried for about 5 minutes per batch or until golden. Then drained/cooled on a paper towel and served with marinara. You could probably make this recipe a little more healthy by baking... but truthfully... I enjoy the grease!

Any suggestions on how to get Leah to eat absolutely anything or any recipes for us to try are always appreciated!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Free Family Film Festival

Fun day today! I took my kids to the Free Family Film Festival at the movie theaters with my girlfriends and their kids (ranging in ages from 8 weeks to 4 years!) then came back to my house for lunch and to let the mobile children be mobile.

So what's the deal? Regal Cinemas and I guess any theater with the Regal Entertainment Group offers free movies during the summer on Tuesdays and Wednesdays that start at 10am. Absolutely free! No catch... unless of course your kids sucker you into popcorn, soda & candy (Leah usually suckers me in). Today I was smart and packed some baggies of Goldfish, juice boxes and some blankets (I'm always freezing in the movies!). Usually they offer a G-rated and PG-rated movie, although it looks like my theater is only offering PG for the rest of the summer.

Never taken your little one to the movies?? I have to say the first time I took Leah (last summer) I kept shushing her and was embarrassed she was making so much noise, but really... who's kid wasn't? This was actually baby Keith's second movie, not bad for an 8 week old. I think knowing that my kid isn't the only one squirming in the seat and talking much too loudly for a movie definitely puts me at ease now and I can enjoy it much more. I crack up at the things she says now or when she starts laughing hysterically. Even if I decide that her behavior is out of control... I didn't pay anything to see the movie so it isn't a big deal to get up and leave in the middle of the movie (which we did today).

Show up early... especially if you are picky about your seat. I always forget, and the theater is always packed and there is always a line for food and we end up sitting in the front row. I inevitably leave with a neck cramp.

Don't sit in the middle of the row. I am much more tolerant of people climbing over me when I sit in the aisle, than me dragging my toddler over everyone else for the quick potty run. If you feel the other way, than do the opposite... someone has to sit in the middle.

Grab a booster. Our theater has these awesome booster seats. Leah definitely won't sit on my lap anymore, and now that I have two it just wouldn't work. The boosters have two settings depending on which side you sit on (like boosters in some restaurants) and a cup holder on one side. They are even light enough that I make Leah carry it. The best thing about it... she doesn't get trapped in the seat because she doesn't weigh enough and it snaps up on her (this happened to my sister when we were little... I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time.)

So I might try to take my kids next week by myself, although it was definitely reassuring to know my girlfriends were there if I needed to leave with the baby. However, we did successfully get a feeding in during the movie without any issues. If you're interested, I attached the link to the title or you can check out the Regal Entertainment Website for more information and to find a theater near you.
*Image from Regal Entertainment Group.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

I thought everyone felt this way...

I logged on to Facebook today and my mom's status was this...

"Depression is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign that you have been trying to be strong for too long. Put this as your status if you are someone, or know someone who has or has had depression. It's mental health week, spread the word. 1 in 3 of us will suffer from depression at some point in our lives but its a highly curable disease if you take the right actions."

How appropriate for something that has been on my mind, but where do you start to talk about something that is so close to you?

I work at a high school that has earned the title of a "survivor school" and it's not something you're proud of or hang plaques for. Survivor school means you have survived a suicide or in our case a string of suicides. We now have several professional development sessions offered to us for suicide prevention. I decided to take one given by a recent graduate of the school who had suffered/was currently recovering from depression. She talked about wanting to die, thinking about how she would kill herself, and how she would talk herself out of it because it would be inconvenient to someone other than herself along with all of the other depression symptoms. I sat listening to her thinking "Big Deal! Everyone gets upset and down sometimes," but I started to look around the room and people were crying. After the girl was done, I was sitting with my colleagues and they were absolutely shocked that anyone could feel that way and that they didn't know she felt that way. I thought everyone felt this way... am I depressed?

This was my wake up call and hopefully the turning point. I had had mono in high school so whenever I felt down and worn out I just attributed it to a relapse. Even if that was the case, I had no excuse for thinking about wanting to kill myself or even worse... for planning it. I would think constantly about driving my car off the road. I would look for good ditches to crash into. I knew what parts of the highway didn't have a barrier so I could drive into oncoming traffic. It came to the point that I didn't want to be alone in the car because I knew that I wouldn't want to hurt someone else in the process especially my daughter. If it wasn't the car, I would lay in bed and try to remember what pills were in the kitchen, but it would come down to not having the energy to get out of bed or not wanting my daughter to find me.

Do I still feel this way? No. Not today anyway. My depression is like a roller coaster. Some days are just rough and I feel like there is no light at the end of the tunnel, but I haven't thought about dying in some time.

So how did I make it better? I don't know that I am better, or will ever be. Now that I know it isn't normal I am definitely more aware of those feelings. I never went to talk to or be diagnosed by a professional. I don't think I could tell a stranger (although here I am telling all of cyberspace). I did tell my best friend (my husband) and a close friend that I knew had her own struggles with depression. I think knowing they are keeping an eye out for me is enough.

Where do we go from here? Well... I'm kind of anti-drugs (Not like don't smoke and don't do crack... although you shouldn't do those either ... Sorry comic relief), but I try other things for headaches and other aches before I call the doctor. So what is my anti-drug relief for depression? My kids, my family and friends. I do anything to keep myself busy because when I stop and fall into a routine I start to feel down and have to change it up.

And the big question that most people will ask...

What caused your depression? I have no idea. Does there have to be a cause? No my life isn't awful, it's actually kind of great. I wasn't beaten as a child, I'm not a single mom, I don't have a shitty husband... That's the thing. There really doesn't need to be a reason, anyone could be depressed, and I am not looking for sympathy. I want people to know that really anyone at all could be depressed, and according to that statistic at the top, if it isn't you, 50/50 it's the next person you talk to.

What if it does happen to you? Talk to someone. Anyone. A friend. A spouse. A health professional. A colleague. Or call a depression hot line. There are two I found doing a national search (or you can do your own)...

1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433) or 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Now my PSA (in case the rest of this post didn't do it for you)...

You are not alone. There is always someone to talk to.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


Welcome blog readers!

I know absolutely nothing about blogging other than that I read some blogs occasionally. This should be interesting.

Anyway, a little about me... I live in Northwestern New Jersey with my family, but apparently this confuses people, so I just say I'm from the Lehigh Valley. I have two kids. Leah is three and Keith is almost 8 weeks! I'm always looking for something to do to get us out of the house and give Leah specifically a special experience. I try to be green, especially when it comes to cleaning. I can be a contradiction, feel free to call me out on it. (For instance, I say I like to clean green, but love, love, LOVE bleach. Crazy.)

I guess more will be revealed in future posts... until then...

Lehigh Valley Mommy (I need some kind of sign off... I hate being corny.)
PS. These are my kids ->
How stinkin cute?! Keith is brand new here... look at the smushy face!