Wednesday, December 3, 2008

My Journey to The Moms Panel - Part 2

Ok, yesterday I left off with the phone interview, so I'll pick up there.

Waiting for the decision was so nerve wracking. After I knew that all of the interviews were over, it was just a matter of time. I was cautiously optimistic, but I still kept telling myself that I probably didn't make it and I should just be proud of how far I had come. All of the people who moved on to the third round had to do a background check. When I sent my forms back, I worried that I hadn't filled everything out or that I had forgotten to sign - even though I checked a million times before sealing the envelope! I was also replaying the interview in my head, thinking of things I could have or should have said. Basically, it was torture!!!

Then, on election day I received an e-mail that they would be contacting everyone the following day with the results - good or bad. Talk about being stressed out! I sat up watching the election results roll in, but my mind was consumed with what my fate would be the next day. That night I hardly slept as I thought about the possibilities.

The next day I carried my cell phone with me everywhere. I didn't dare risk missing this call! Finally at around 2:30 or so, my phone rang. I seriously almost passed out! I answered the call and braced myself for what I was sure was going to be bad news. When everyone on the other end of the phone yelled "Congratulations!!", tears immediately popped into my eyes. My hands were shaking and I just started crying like a baby. I think I even asked if they were kidding me, lol! I could not believe it. Actually, sometimes I still can't believe it. I was chosen to be a panelist on the Disney World Moms Panel in 2009!

I called my mom and husband with the good news and floated around my house like I was on a cloud for the rest of the day. The only bad thing was reading the posts on the DIS boards from all of the people who weren't chosen. I almost hated to write about my good news and how excited I was because I knew how disappointed others were. Luckily, everyone really seemed supportive and happy for those of us who had made it onto the panel. It was so great to share the anticipation with everyone there.

It's hard to believe that I got that phone call about a month ago. Back then it seemed like the training trip would never come, but here it is - the day after tomorrow. I am so excited to meet all of my new friends who I've been talking with these past few weeks on facebook. It has definitely made the time go by quickly and I am so eager to meet these wonderful people who I already feel as if I know.

Anna, Diane, Diane, Jo, Joanne, Jennifer, Doug, Cathy, Karen, Margaret, Kay, Jodi, Whitney, Jackie and Tanya - can't wait to meet you all in person! See you REALLY soon!!!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Journey to The Moms Panel - Part 1

Disclaimer - This is a pretty long post - way longer than I expected it would be, and it's only part one.

Wow, was it really way back in September when this whole thing began? Actually, it was way before that for me. I missed submitting my application last year by just a few days. By the time I found out about the search for the panel, it was too late. When I read a thread on one of the Disney boards that they would be looking for a new panel, I circled the day they would begin accepting applications on my calendar.

The day came and I excitedly read the essay questions. I typed in my answers in between changing diapers, filling juice cups and playing dress up. The maximum amount of words was 100 per question and I think I used all 100 words for two of my answers and 99 for the third. I looked over what I had written and hit submit. I didn't run them by anyone or second guess myself. Honestly, I never thought anything would come of this and I was just proud of myself for giving it a try.

Fast forward a few weeks. I checked my e-mail and saw an update from the Moms Panel. I assumed it was a "thanks, but no thanks" reject letter. I was shocked when I read that I had made it to round two. I had tears in my eyes when I showed my husband the e-mail. I immediately read the round two questions. This time I wrote them down and spent some time thinking about what my answers would be. I stayed up late that night writing my responses. I had pages and pages of scribbled sentences with scratched out words, arrows and circles. Trust me, only I would ever be able to make sense of what was on those pages and even I had trouble at some points!


This time I read my answers to my husband multiple times and listened to his advice. The next day I typed my three essays and looked over them once more. I felt butterflies in my stomach as I hit the submit button. In a flash, my answers were sent - hurtling through cyber space and I sat at my computer wondering if I had said the right things. I did second guess a few things, but I eventually told myself that it was done and I would just have to wait and see.


When the deadline came for all of the people in round two send their answers in, I started wondering when we would hear back. I began looking for information and came across a great thread on the DIS boards where I found a large group of people who were waiting just like me. I admit, I lurked for a long time before I ever introduced myself. I think I was nervous about opening up to a whole new group of people. When I finally did join the discussion, I was so relieved at how friendly and welcoming everyone was. It was really great to have the support of so many others in the same boat.


Once again, I had convinced myself that I would probably not make it on to the next round. I didn't want to get my hopes up too high only to be crushed. When I finally got the e-mail, I just looked at it in my inbox before I had the nerve to click on it. I closed my eyes and when I opened them, I almost fell off of my chair. I had moved on to round three!! I called my mom and my husband and shared my good news. This was so completely unbelievable. I quickly submitted my contact information so that I could get my phone interview set up.


Before I knew it my phone was ringing! I didn't want to seem unavailable or a pain so I said I would take any time. I ended up with the second interview on the first day. Yikes! On one hand, I was glad because I would get it done soon and not have to worry about it any longer, but I was also worried that they would forget about me because I was one of the first ones. I spent all weekend thinking about what they might ask. I made my husband ask me sample questions and basically I drove everyone crazy with my constant interview talk!


Finally! The day of my phone interview. My time was 2:15. My husband left for work around 2:00 and took the kids to my neighbor's house so that she could watch them while I did my interview with no distractions. I was so nervous! I sat at my desk and waited for the call. When the phone rang, I answered and waited to get connected to Laura, Leanne and the others conducting the interview. I say "others" because I can't be quite certain who was on the line because as soon as Leanne started introducing everyone, my two dogs started barking like crazy at something and I couldn't hear a thing. I was beyond mortified!!! Luckily, they all laughed and the dogs stopped barking.


The actual interview seemed to go by so fast. I felt like I answered the questions as best as I could. Some of the things they asked I expected and others made me stop for a brief second before replying. The time flew by and before I knew it, my interview was over. When I hung up, I just stood there for a few minutes replaying everything over in my head. The only thing I regretted was my answer to who my daughter's favorite princess is. I said that she goes back and forth between Cinderella and Belle. I blabbered on and ended with this - "I would say that she is an equal opportunity princess lover." OMG. Seriously Amber?? As soon as I said that, I was thinking to myself - how stupid are you? Other than that, I had high hopes that my interview had gone well.

Well, I know this is dragging on and on. If you are still with me, thanks for reading, lol! I will continue the saga tomorrow. Please stay tuned!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Pumpkin Family

Today I was out in the yard with the dogs and I looked into our garden. Our poor jack o lanterns are nothing more than a shrunken heap now. After Halloween we threw them in the garden as compost for next year, and they sure do look pathetic! At one time they looked pretty nice.

This year we had four jack o lanterns - one for each of us. Between the ones we grew in the garden and the ones we got at the pumpkin patch, we were able to match the size of the pumpkin to each member of our family. When they were fresh, they were very cute - except for Levi's - he tried to make his scary looking, lol!

For Sophie's first Halloween back in 2005, my brother gave her a pumpkin. We saved the seeds from her very first pumpkin and planted them the following spring, and we've been doing it ever since. I think it's pretty cool that the pumpkin she was given as a one month old baby has started this little tradition. We refer to them as Sophie's pumpkins and she loves helping Levi plant and take care of them during the summer.

Here are some photos of our family of pumpkins from this year. I won't post what they look like now because that would be pretty gross. I'll let you use your imaginations on that one if you want to!

Me, Levi, Aiden and Sophie

Aiden and his little pumpkin.

Sophie with her happy pumpkin.





Friday Feast - #2

I know! I'm late with this again. I may have to rename it the 'Saturday Feast' because that seems to be when I'm doing them. I'll try to stay on top of this!

Appetizer: Where do you plan to go on vacation this year, or where would you want to go?
That's an easy one - Disney World of course! We go to Disney at least once every year, and sometimes throw in a trip to the beach. There are also the occasional long weekend trips as well.

Soup: What color is your bedroom? If you could redecorate it, what would you change?
Our bedroom is a caramel color. It is a Tuscan inspired theme.

Salad: Do you have a bumper sticker on your vehicle? If not, make one up!
No bumper stickers here. If I were to have one it would probably just be something related to Disney World!

Main Course: What's the worst pain you've ever been in?
Childbirth! That is absolutely the worst pain I have ever felt - until the epidural, lol. I would go through it all over again in a heartbeat though. My kids were worth that pain and more!!

Dessert: Who is your favorite celebrity? What do they do that inspires you?
I honestly don't have a favorite celebrity. I prefer to be inspired by people I know and can relate to. The person that inspires me the most is my Mom. She is the greatest mom and is also my absolute best friend in the world.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving in Retrospect

I think my favorite part of Thanksgiving is watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year Sophie was really into watching the parade too. She loved watching all of the dancers,bands, and huge helium balloons - namely Snoopy and Dora. Of course Santa was the biggest hit! Watching my daughter's face light up when she saw Santa waving to the crowd was a highlight of my day. It was so wonderful to cuddle on the couch and share one of my favorite Thanksgiving pastimes with my her. Aiden was there too of course, but he fell asleep halfway through.

It was such a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had a delicious meal with my parents and two younger brothers - Aiden was a bit fussy so I held him on my lap and he grabbed a handful of mashed potatoes off of my plate, lol! The entire time he stared at all of the food on the table with wide eyes, but he had to settle for some sweet potatoes and corn baby food.

After dinner, my husband, brothers and I played a rousing game of Monopoly. I knew from the get go that it was going to be bad for me. Everyone else had at least three properties before I landed on the first one that was available for me to buy. Oh well, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. (Of course, I always want to win!!) Sophie wanted to play, so we gave her a game piece and some money, and she had a great time moving from space to space and building houses, lol!

This year, Thanksgiving was perfect - from the parade in the morning to the late night leftovers before bed. I was so happy to celebrate with my family and reflect on everything that we have to be thankful for. Yes, life is good.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Magic Words?

I had to post this funny exchange between my three year old daughter and myself.

Sophie: "Can you get me some more juice?"
Me: "Sure, but what's the magic word?"
Sophie: (pause) "Ummm.....Oh yeah! ABRACADABRA!!!!" (She said this with much enthusiasm!)
Me: "Well, yeah, but what's the other magic word?"
Sophie: "Oh, ok. HOCUS POCUS!!!" (Said like she was a magician herself, lol.)
Me: (laughing) "Ok, you're right, but what about please?"
Sophie: "Ok, please?"
Me: "Sure thing."

I know she has manners and knows her p's and q's. I'm not too sure if this conversation helped at all. I guess "please" isn't quite as magical as abracadabra and hocus pocus to a three year old. LOL!

Giving Thanks

It seems like each year I have more and more to be thankful for. This year I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy who is growing so fast and learning so much every day. My daughter turned three this year, and I am just amazed at her innocence and love of life. I am so thankful that my children are happy and healthy and that I have been blessed by having them in my life.

I'm thankful for my wonderful husband, who works hard every day so that I can stay home with our kids. I may not show it enough, but I really admire him for giving me opportunity to be a stay at home mom. I am blessed to have a warm home, food on the table and a happy, loving family to share it all with.

In addition to all of these and the many, many other things I have to be thankful for, there is one more thing. I think everyone knows where I'm going with this! I am incredibly humbled and so grateful to have the opportunity to serve on the Disney World Mom's Panel. I really think I'm still in shock because it doesn't seem quite real yet. I am one of sixteen people chosen out of thousands - wow. I get to help people plan their magical trips to Disney!!

Last but certainly not least, I am thankful for the 15 new friends I will be meeting in a little over a week. Talking with everyone has made me feel less nervous and more excited to begin this adventure. I feel like I know everyone already!!

My life has truly been blessed this year and I do not let a day go by without reflecting on all of the things I have to be thankful for. I am looking forward to watching my children grow, and all of the exciting things coming up in my life. I am positive that I will have even more to be thankful for next year!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Doctors and Disney

Today was my son Aiden's six month well check-up. He is doing great! His favorite part of the appointment had to be playing with the crinkly white paper on the exam table. Obviously, his least favorite part had to be the shots. He had to get four, which included the first of the two part flu shot. He also had another oral dose of the vaccine for rotavirus. He didn't seem to mind that one and sucked it right down! Of course, I could not watch the nurse stick my poor, poor baby with all of those needles. I just held his little hands in mine and looked the other way. He screamed at first, but as soon as the nurse finished, I scooped him into my arms and he settled right down! He's such a tough little guy and so brave. I think it's almost always worse for the parent.

At the beginning of the visit, the doctor came in and we discussed how Aiden was growing. When the subject of his appetite came up, I asked how many ounces of milk/formula babies this age usually eat. Since I nurse him on demand, I have no idea how many ounces he eats in any given day. I just know that he is well fed and satisfied. I explained to the doctor about my upcoming solo trip to Disney, and told him how I have been pumping non-stop to freeze enough milk for Aiden to have in my absence.

Well, the doc was really impressed by my news on making it onto the mom's panel. Although, I have to say like a lot of other people, I don't think he quite "got it" if you know what I mean! He then went on to tell me that he and his family just returned from a nine night stay at the Contemporary. I have to say, I don't think our pediatrician is a Disney guy because he said it wasn't his choice to go and his wife basically made him, lol! We talked about Disney for quite some time and I almost forgot the reason we were there in the first place. Well - not really, but I was trying to convince him that Disney is awesome and his wife had the right idea, etc. etc. I'm positive I can convert him to a Disney believer by Aiden's one year check-up! I'll keep you posted. . .

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Traditions: New, Old and Different

This time of year is always all about family. Not that I'm not all about my family all year long, but I think you know what I mean.


My Grandma is really big on everything staying the same - for years we always go to my aunt's on Easter, my mom has Thanksgiving and my uncle has Christmas. Last year I really caused a stir when I announced that Levi and I decided to stay home on Christmas morning and get together with everyone a few days later. I was pregnant with Aiden and it was our last Christmas with Sophie as the only child. I was hormonal and feeling guilty that "things would never be the same" once Aiden was born and I wanted to soak up every minute of Sophie enjoying the spoils of Christmas. My family got over it and we are all still speaking, but I guess that's the thing about traditions - sometimes they change, especially when families are growing and evolving.


I know everyone might not agree with me, but it worked for us and I felt it was the right thing for my family. I guess my logic is that staying home on Christmas Day and getting together with family a few days later extends the holiday and makes everything less chaotic and more enjoyable for everyone. Instead of rushing to open presents from Santa so we can get to brunch on time, we were able to enjoy our time together. Sophie actually got to play with her new toys, and when we met up with our extended family the next weekend, it was much calmer and memorable.

Other than the traditions of who cooks for each holiday, Levi and I started some traditions with our kids that we hope to enjoy as long as we can. Every fall we visit a local farm on the Sunday the Steelers are on a bye week (so far it's always been before Halloween), and we go on a hayride and choose pumpkins to carve. We always put our Christmas tree up on the Sunday after Thanksgiving and we each open one present on Christmas Eve. When we go to Disney World we always go to Hollywood Studios on our arrival day to see Fantasmic, and we spend our last day at the Magic Kingdom.

There are other things we do, but these are some that stand out the most to me. I know that someday my kids will get older and they may not want to go on hayrides, and when that day comes I'll be ok with it. I know that traditions aren't carved in stone and that everything changes. I'm glad to enjoy these things while I can and I know that someday there will be something new to replace them and I can accept that.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Friday Feast - One Day Late!!

Ok, I know it's Saturday, but I want to start doing these every week. So, here goes:

Friday Feast: Feast One

Appetizer: What time do you usually wake up each day? If you could choose your wake-up time, when would it be?
The kids usually wake up around 7:30 - 8:00, so that is when I have to get up too! If it were up to me I would sleep in to at least 10:30 like I did when i worked nights and before the kids.

Soup: When was the last time you bought groceries? What store did you go to? Name 3 things you purchased.
My last grocery trip was a week ago at Giant Eagle. Three things I bought were: milk, toilet paper and a york peppermint patty.


Salad: How many books have you read so far this year? Which was your favorite and why?
If you count childrens books, then it's hundreds! :) As far as grown-up books, I think it's about 10. Wow, I just realized that's not that many this late in the year! I guess my favorite was probably "Double Yoi!" by Myron Cope. He was such an icon here in Pittsburgh, and when he passed it was a sad time for the whole community - not just football fans. He was an inspirational man with a lot of wit and his book was quite good!


Main Course: What is something you consider to be very elegant? In particular, what about that item/place/person conjures up the feeling of elegance?
Umm....Honestly, I am not elegant at all. I guess everyone's definition of elegance is different. I guess champagne? caviar? a limo? Sorry, I'm really at a loss here, lol!

Dessert: Who taught you how to drive?
Well, I like to think I was just a complete natural! I did take drivers ed in high school, so I guess mostly my teacher - Mr. Falvo. My dad did try to teach me to drive a standard, but his patience is not his finest attribute, haha. My husband also tried to teach me, but I still am no expert. I can drive both, but I much prefer the automatic transmission!!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Running Errands....Ugh

Why, oh why do I put everything off until it just can't be put off any longer? Why is it that the day we finally run out of milk it is cold and pouring rain? Why do my husband and I get our prescriptions filled at different pharmacies?

These are just a few of the questions I asked myself this morning. Today I have no choice but to drag myself into the shower and brave the downpour outside to do one of my least favorite things . . . errands. Now, I know that most people don't enjoy grocery shopping and the like, but there are days when I really don't mind so much. (Like when it's not raining!) It also doesn't help that my husband works weird hours and Saturdays - this means I have a small window of opportunity to go at it alone before I will have my kids along for all the fun.

Anyone who has gone to any store with their kids know all about the "I wannas". My daughter will want cookies, candy and all of those toys that are so conveniently placed at the eye level of children riding in shopping carts. My son, is still too young to say "I wanna", let alone have a case of them. However, he will give me a small amount of time - to be determined by him - before he begins to cry endlessly until I take him out of his seat and carry him through the store while pushing the cart and trying not to forget anything. Haha!

So, hopefully I can get my husband to accompany me before he has to get to work. I think my kids know when they have me outnumbered - seriously!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Just Surviving?

I never really thought I would have a blog of my own. Sure, I have read friend's blogs and even blogs of complete strangers that I've come across, but I never really had the urge to create my own. I guess I never thought my life was interesting enough to blog about. I mean, who really cares about the life of a stay at home mom with 2 small kids?

Recently after putting my kids (ages 3 and soon-to-be 6 months) to bed for the night, I thought to myself, "I feel like I'm just surviving through each day - not really living it". What I meant by that was between all of the dirty diapers, meals, laundry, etc. etc. I felt like I didn't have the time to actually enjoy my kids. I was so busy taking care of the basics that it seemed like I was missing out on all of the fun. Looking back, I know that there is more to my life than "just surviving", but some days are definitely harder than others!

I guess it was then that I decided to maybe start a blog someday. I figured it would be a good place to write down some of the crazy things that sometimes happen that might get lost in the jumble. I want to be able to look back in a few years and say, "Oh yeah! When Sophie said that it was hilarious!" about something that I would have long forgotten had it not been recorded. Who knows? Maybe someone will stumble across my blog and find something funny or insightful - or maybe not and that's ok because someday when my life isn't quite so crazy and hectic I can look back on this and remember it all.

Well, I didn't want to get all philosophical and sappy! I guess right now my life is getting a little more interesting. My daughter is 3 and says the darnedest things. My son will be 6 months old in 1 week - where did that time go?? Last week I found out I was chosen to be a panelist on the Disney Moms Panel next year. . . So, I think I will have lots to blog about and I hope if you have stumbled across this, you may come along for the ride! It could get interesting. . .