Jackson goes to Disney World

After our day at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (and subsequent day of rest by the pool) it was finally Jackson’s turn to go to Disney World! He’d been counting the days and the day had finally come.

My brother-in-law fixed him up with a lanyard for pin trading, which he’d already worn the night before to Disney Springs. An affinity for Donald Duck has grown in recent months so he decided to decorate his lanyard with Donald-specific pins. From what I understand, he was diligent about keeping to his goal.

A character lunch ensured he met the Fab Five – including Donald Duck!

Jackson loves fast rides, so Space Mountain was one of his favorites!

Jeremy had a hard time knowing what he was missing, but he understood it was his brother’s turn and he had already experienced Disney World with his cousins.

I love this photo of him passed out asleep with Donald Duck on his lap 

Fortunately, after getting back to our house late Friday night, our family spent Saturday with us and saved Sunday for the long drive home to Chicago. That meant there was time for Wizard Chess.

Donald Duck pin success!

Thank you, Becky, Jeff, Jacob, and Owen, for taking Jackson to Disney World! To use his words, the trip was MAGICAL. (And thanks for all the cell phone pics!)

A second spring break

As homeschoolers, we do what we want. It’s glorious. It’s magnificent.

Our first spring break was spent at home, and truth be told, we still did math and reading while on hiatus from our homeschool cooperative. It wasn’t a full respite because we knew we had a second break coming – one that involved travel and excitement beyond compare.

Several years ago my sweet sister decided that she needed to take my children to Disney World since we weren’t going to. NO PROBLEM, I said, and threw some money her way. In 2015, Jeremy joined her family at Disney, and eventually, it would be Jackson’s turn.

This was his year.

On top of the Disney adventure, we decided it was also time to fork over the cash and visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, somewhere I’ve wanted to visit since it was built. Both Jeremy and Jackson are fans of the books and movies, so we’ve been counting the days until we could finally head to Orlando.

There is much to say about the experience, but in this particular post, I’ll be brief. I was overwhelmed to the point of tears, and not I’m not exaggerating. (Chuck has photographic proof, which I won’t be sharing publicly.) Since reading the first book in 2001 and seeing the final film in 2011, to watching both of my children fall in love with the series and love it as I do, going to Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley was an experience that spotlighted nearly two decades fandom. 

The impeccable detail of these two scenes left me fully satisfied, feeling like I’d actually walked into a magical world and lived there for one full day. YES, I bought a wand (Professor McGonagall’s). YES, I bought a Chocolate Frog. YES, we rode the Hogwarts Express. YES, we tried Butterbeer.

There is much to say about how it all felt, but I know what you really want is to see photos. They’re coming. I’ve got a few things to check off my to-do list before I tackle editing them.

Chuck, Jeremy, and I returned home late Wednesday night, leaving Jackson in Orlando with my sister and her family. He still had Disney World to experience, after all. From what I’ve seen in texts and Snaps, he’s living his best life. He’s loving every minute. Two magical experiences in one week is too good to be true for an 11-year-old. 

And yet, it’s all real. 

Besties in Atlanta

Our Atlanta weekend getaway was long overdue. In fact, we were supposed to go in January, but Salem’s last hospitalization nixed that. Instead, we capped off our spring break with a few days with some of our best friends.

Corey and me March 2016

We ate good food, went bowling, and hung around the condo. Corey and I escaped to Ulta and Nordstrom Rack, and some of us napped. The boys played Nerf and video games, goofing off and not showering. We went to IKEA, where the boys nearly died of boredom. It was a close one.

Waiting around IKEA

As usual, I love how the boys reconnect so easily after so much time apart. We don’t force their friendship but rather facilitate it. Eventually their relationship will look and function differently, but for now, it works.

A word about Jeremy’s face in the photo below: He’s being a goofball. This is what happens when your mother is a photographer and says, “Smile” way too often. I think he looks like a Muppet (and promptly told him so).

Jeremy Alex and Jackson 2016

My favorite photo from the weekend, however, is this last one. Rarely does my husband let me take his picture, but when he does, it’s always a good one:

Chuck is awesome

A Week of Yes

It’s spring break, friends! Can I get an amen?

We aren’t at the beach, we aren’t on a cruise. We aren’t across the country on a Rocky Mountain excursion. Those things would be nice, but we have summer plans and other plans, so spring break is simply that – a break. It’s a break from school and early bedtimes and formal meals. Ultimately it’s a break from routine, and there is no better way to break the routine than with a sleepover.

We have three extra boys in the house tonight. They played outside, ate junk food, played outside some more, and now they’re burning their eyeballs on electronics. The laughter is fantastic. I’m saying yes to ALL THE THINGS because that’s what a break is all about.

Playing outside

Tablets

I forced them to bathe, but I’ve insisted upon precious little. Yes to cookies, yes to chips. Yes, you all can sleep in the living room.

Xbox time

Even without the sleepover, I’m saying yes to extras. I bought sugary breakfast cereal and let them have Sprite with their lunch. They can play Minecraft first thing in the morning and again in the afternoon. Fruity Cheerios before bed? Yes, yes, yes.

When poor attitudes materialize, all it takes is a gentle reminder that toilets always need cleaning, bedtimes can be restored, and electronics can be unplugged. Miraculously, they straighten right up.

This Week of Yes is important because our day-to-day life is fairly rigid when it comes to all the things I mentioned above. We don’t allow video games on school days or sleeping anywhere else but their beds. We eat mostly healthy and have dinner at the table each night as a family. Structure and boundaries are important, but so is letting loose.

Besides, after a few days of indulging like this, my boys self-regulate and put themselves to bed early, choose healthy snacks over sugar, and even tire of screen time. It’s a process I love to watch. We binge, then we retract.

Side note: I am currently stowed away in the bedroom watching election returns and listening to season two of the Serial Podcast. Thank goodness I made cookies today because self-medicating is a must.

Jeremy’s first trip to Disney World

Do I even have to tell you that he had a wonderful time?

Jeremy at the Disney castle

Jeremy is now suffering a post-Disney depression, which I’ve tried to mitigate by indulging stories about all the things he loved about Disney World and reminding him that he can go back when he’s older. “When I grow up, I’m definitely taking my kids to Disney World,” he says.

Jedi training

Fighting Darth Vader

I’m glad he went with people who know that place inside out (my sister and her family), so Jeremy’s time was well-managed and he was able to hit all the high points. He did Jedi training and ate breakfast with characters. He raced a car he created and rode all the big rides. He even went on the Tower of Terror. Jeremy did not want the week to end.

On a ride with Jacob

But of course the vacation ended, as they always do. In two years, Jackson will go to Disney World and I have no doubt his experience will be equally as magical.

Before our family headed back north, we made an evening trip to Menchie’s, where another patron took our photo. I hate that it’s blurry, but I’m grateful for the time spent with these precious people. The geographical distance between us is just too far.

Millers Przyluckis April 2015

We are now in the home stretch of the school year and you can tell this by our lack of enthusiasm. Truth be told, Jackson will be finished with his math curriculum this week and he’s already started fourth grade vocabulary… He could be done with third grade by Friday, but I can’t fathom that long of a break in school years – April to August? So we’ll spend the remaining time in review and working to master the skills he learned this year.

If you’re ready for summer, raise your hand.

To Charleston and Back

Since Jeremy went to Disney World, we decided to take Jackson on a mini-trip to Charleston so he could have a memorable spring break too. Not knowing what to expect, he reveled in being the only child for a few days and staying in a hotel. He kept his fingers crossed that we’d visit books stores and the Charleston library. (We did!)

Charleston is beautiful, and though the temperatures were not ideal, we were happy to have lots of sunshine and low-key crowds. Chuck fished, Jackson jumped waves, and I took pictures of all of it.

Here’s the first photo dump.

A walk through Charleston

Anchor house

Jackson at Folly Beach

Wing span

Sandy feet

Catching sting rays

Ships

cobblestone

Washington Square

There’s no way that Charleston can be compared to Disney World (which Jeremy is loving, by the way), but there is something very special about spending one-on-one time with your kids. They are much more enjoyable when their personalities are allowed to shine, when there isn’t competition for attention or sibling rivalry to cast a shadow on a family vacation. Jackson was a delight, happy to go here or there, a little tired after a lot of walking, but nothing that an ice cream cone couldn’t fix.

Blue Bicycle Books Late afternoon on Folly Pink and white pompoms Southern mansion

A walk through the college

No time to blog!

I’m too busy this week wrangling three boys and a four-month-old puppy to spend five seconds on the internet. (For the record, the puppy is harder to manage than the three boys combined. The cat is by far my favorite today.) Sincerest apologies to my Words with Friends opponents. I will get to all of you later tonight.

Corey, Gwen, and Alex arrived yesterday and the house went into complete chaos because the dog lost his mind and the boys were overjoyed to see each other. The noise was unreal. BUT, once the sun set, all boys calmed down – including Major – and the three adults were able to enjoy uninterrupted conversation. It was fantastic. I love this family. There is nothing like having your oldest, dearest friend in the same room even if it’s just for a few hours.

Corey and Gwen ran off to the mountains today and will head home to Atlanta this evening, leaving Alex to spend his spring break with us. It’s a very special treat for Jeremy to spend this much time with a long-distance friend, so there’s been non-stop action among the boys since yesterday afternoon. It is additionally difficult for them to stop chatting long enough to fall asleep. Benadryl, anyone?

Corey, Gwen, and me

Three boys

Phil’s a big fat hairy liar.

PhilIt’s so fabulous to have snow on our spring break.

Not.

The boys are playing Legos, which is great and all, but I’d rather they be outside in the fresh air, bright sun, and blooming daffodils. I’d rather they come in hours later sweaty and hungry for lunch, only to eat quickly and run right back outside. Then I want to have to call them in for dinner because they’ve been playing so hard outside that they’ve completely lost track of time. Then I want them to talk eagerly about all the things they’re going to do tomorrow outside because it’s spring break and they can’t get enough of that warm sun.

However, there is no warm sun. There’s only a frozen tundra for a front yard and a swampy, icy mess for a back yard. Hence, the Legos.

It isn’t all bad, though. For me, cold weather means a fireplace, a book, and another cup of coffee. When I finish Love Wins, I’ll begin the Resignation of Eve.

I declare spring break.

The six-year-old is projectile vomiting. The nine-year-old has reached an impasse with triple-digit multiplication. The dog won’t stay out of the cat food.

I declare spring break.

Today will be a day of reading, writing, making sure my littlest is comfortable, and giving my oldest yard work to do so he can raise money to buy Skylanders. I might even go for a short run.

Warm weather is coming, and we couldn’t be more ready.

Sunray

Ethan’s Turn

Tuesday night was our last evening with Alex, so they boys played to exhaustion. Chuck even took all three of them on in a wrestling match. (They never stood a chance.)

We met Corey and her mom for lunch in Chattanooga on Wednesday afternoon and then said our goodbyes. Thanks for coming, Alex!

On our way back we swung by Ethan’s house and brought him home with us. Within minutes they were savoring the hot sun and playing with the water hose.

I just adore this child. His happiness is contagious.

This morning we went straight to the park since the weather was nice so the boys could ride bikes. Jackson doesn’t ride a bike yet, but that didn’t keep him from running alongside the big boys.

Of course, they had to play in the creek and get muddy. Oh well! As you can see, Karin, your sweet boy is doing just fine.