Sunday, June 30, 2013

From Oranges to Apple

Something really exciting, crazy, fun, adventurous, and daring is about to happen here on "This and That".

It involves a change of address for our family. 

Pete, the monkeys and I are trading in the oranges of the Sunshine State for the Big Apple! And you get to come along!  

Don't worry, we will only be gone for the summer, and you'll be back in plenty of time to soak up the Florida sunshine before school starts again.  

For now though, pack your bags, because, "This and That" is spending the summer in New York City!

This next month will be full of a little bit of this....

A LOT of this...

and this...

 and that...
And definitely that...

 Lots of that...
 And this...

And most, certainly, with out a shadow of a doubt, this...

See you Monday!  Can't wait, it's going to be great!




We received quite bit of swag at the blogging conference that I attended last week.  The companies that sponsored the conference were very generous.  One of my favorite freebies was this super, cute cloth coloring page from the SquareSpace web designing company.  Really cool company, by the way.


Little Monkey has really enjoyed coloring in all of the NYC icons.  It has been fun to watch him pick out just the right color of washable marker for each little picture.

The taxis had to all be yellow.  I love that the page has little bagels and even rats.  Those definitely represent New York.  NYC rats don't play. 

Purple for the subways.  Not sure why.

The really cool thing is that it gave Little Monkey and I some great fodder for conversation. We talked about the most famous tall buildings in New York.  He has been designing the Empire State building with his Legos for a while now.

We talked about all the sights, smells  and sounds of NYC.

We talked about the bridges as we colored them in.

The really cool thing is that after we talked and colored, we washed the coloring page because it can be used again and again.  Next time maybe Little Monkey will color the rats pink.  That might make them less scary.

Great teaching tool, great craft, and great idea!  It reminds me of this t-shirt.



Friday, June 28, 2013


Anyone here in Orlando been to Universal to ride the new Transformers-The Ride 3D? What did you think about it?

I rode it last May when it first opened out at Universal Studios in Hollywood and LOVED it! It was the perfect mix of totally terrifying and absolutely exhilarating. My kind of ride! And it sounds fantastic!

Of course, I am a little bias because Pete did all of the sound design and mixing for both Transformer rides. Actually, there is another Transformers' ride in Singapore that he designed sound for and mixed too.

His sound pallet included unique, original sound effects that he created especially for each of the Autobots. Sounds that include layers of whooshes, whirls, and amped up motors.

I love it when Pete records elements for custom sound effects. Like the time when we were in the Bahamas and he whipped out his portable recording device to record a jack hammer. People always stop and wonder what he is doing. Or like the time when I was nursing our youngest daughter and ahem...using a breast pump...and he recorded the swishy, sucky sounds of the pump motor. Strange? Unique? Art?

And I have an insider source that leaked (no pun intended) that the breast pump motor sounds were indeed utilized to create the Autobots. Just a little bit of trivia for you on this fine Friday evening.

And now, go forth and ride Transformers. Try not to think about my breast pump as you listen to the awesome sound design.



Thursday, June 27, 2013

To Our Daughter, the Camp Counselor - Ditch the Bread Crumbs, Use the Glitter Instead

Our eldest (or am I supposed to say oldest?) monkey girl is a camp counselor this summer.  At the end of this week, she will celebrate the half way point of camp.  We wanted to give her some encouragement and a little "taste of home", so we sent her a care package full of snacks, stuff for crafts, pictures, and letters from all of us, including the letter copied below.  I hope after reading the letter she doesn't get too weirded out.  We really do want her to come home.  

Hey There Sweet Cheeks!

We are sending you this care package for many reasons.  I will list them now:

1. So that if camp is too fun and you are even slightly entertaining the idea of becoming a permanent camper and never coming home, forget about it.  Because once you eat those chocolate chip, oatmeal cookies you will be begging to catch the next bus back to Orlando. Plus, I think that at the end of the summer if you don’t leave they may have you arrested for trespassing. Just a hunch, but I wouldn’t push it.  Just eat a cookie, okay?

2.  We love you, plus we like you too.

3.  To remind you that your real home is in the Sunshine State where oranges grow and orange blossom honey is made from orange blossoms by buzzy little helper bees. Your fake home is Georgia where they grow boring old peaches and their bees aren’t as cool.  I mean really, have you ever heard of peach blossom honey? No, didn’t think so.  Boom!

4.  I’m sure by now, that you are low on Vitamin C and Vitamins D, E, F, and G.  Plus iron and iodine.  Gummy Bears and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups should help. 

5.  If you don’t want to get lost in the woods, just bring the glitter that we are sending out hiking with you. Here’s what you do:  Sprinkle glitter along the trail that you are hiking on.  Then later, when you are making your way back to camp, the glitter will sparkle and shine and help you.  The only problem is that it might not show up very well in the dark, unless you use a flashlight.  But hey, it’s better than bread crumbs, or cookie crumbles or other such nonsense, because we all know that the birds eat those anyway. Plus, glitter is so way cooler and “sparkly” (sing song voice here) than bread crumbs any day. 

6.  Tea bags are included in this package because they are so versatile. Make tea with them, put them under your eyes to relieve any bags that you may develop from the lack of sleep due to homesick, flu sick or love sick campers, place them on bee stings (or is it blisters or bunions?), use them to freshen up your underwear drawer like mini potpourri sachets, but DO NOT use the honey vanilla chamomile tea bags for this purpose, otherwise you might attract bears.  They can sniff out honey from anywhere, even your underwear.  Just saying.

7.  Gum and lip balm are always useful.  McGiver always used these when he was in a pickle.  If you don’t know who McGiver is, don’t worry. It’s just another example of the generation gap.  Have you ever heard of Jordache jeans?  Never mind.

8.  The crayons and shells are little extra touches that you may or may not utilize.  You could decorate the shells with the glitter and give them to your campers as momentos of you, the girl who LIVES IN FLORIDA. It depends upon if you use all of the glitter when you are hiking or not. The crayons say they are non toxic, so I guess, in theory, you could eat them if, you run out of food or if you don’t like what they are serving in the mess hall.  Just don’t bring them out on the trail because they are made with bees wax, and bees make honey, and bears eat honey and they have a keen sense of smell.  

Love, hugs, kisses, and all that, 

Mom, Dad, and the Monkeys

How about you, friends?  Do you have kids away at camp?  Any camp stories to share from your childhood?  Let's gather round the proverbial campfire, make some microwave s'mores and swap stories.  The good news is, there will be no mosquitos to swat.  Maybe just a pesky internet ad or two. 



From Uterus to University-Rome Wasn't Built in a Day and Neither Was My Kid's Bladder

It's 1976, I am four years old.  My mom, grandma, baby sister and I are out shopping at JC Penney in the Cross Creek Mall in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It's summertime and it's hot, hot, hot.  After we shop, my grandma has promised to take us to Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour for a treat.  That place is amazing! The paper straws magically stick to the wet shake glasses and somehow the waiter always gets the balloon that he rubs on his head to stick to the wall.

My mom has my sister and I dressed to the tee. Pigtails in the hair (check), matching little sun dresses (check), matching ribbons that match the matching sun dresses (check), white leather sandals (check), my overactive bladder (check).  Whaaaat?  Over active what? Hold it right here!  Actually, that is the problem.  I am four years old and I can't "hold it" right here, right there, or right anywhere.  When I have to "go", I have to "GO"!

So, as we are shopping, I suddenly have the need to use the bathroom, but because my toileting needs go from non-existant to emergency urgent I end up peeing on the floor of the department store.  My mom and grandma look on horrified as a puddle forms and flows into a tiny yellow river that runs between the rack of gingham baby doll style dresses complete with bloomers and the Sesame Street one piece swimming suits in sizes 2T to 4T.

Mom scoops me up and takes me to the bathroom to clean me up.  Grandma drives the baby buggy frantically over to the basics section to find me a new pair of unsoaked undies.  In the meantime, an unwitting Penney's employee suddenly happens upon the Little Yellow River nestled between the Lands of Bloomers and Bathing Suits.  Only she doesn't exactly see the river before she slips, slides, and falls flat on her rump onto the floor and into the river.  Oh, good golly Miss Molly, or Miss Smith, or whatever the poor gal's name is.

My mom and grandma are both way too embarrassed to say a word or owe up to being the cause of the  mysteriously appearing puddle.  So, we leave the store and go have some ice cream at the magical ice cream shop where the only thing wet now is the side of my soda glass with the straw magically adhering to it.

So, the whole point to this embarrassingly weird story, where I have once again shared TMI, is that all kid's are different when it come to potty training.  In my case, it turns out that I indeed did have anatomical problem that made my bladder run on overdrive.  A few years after the "Watershed Incident" at JC Penney, I had surgery to dilate the urethra tube, which essentially solved the problem (until later in life when my bladder became a trampoline for multiple babies, but that's a horse or bladder of a different color).

Some kids are relatively easy to potty train.  They take very readily to the idea of going in the "big people potty".  They are eager to be done with diapers.  They are ready emotionally and physically to meet this milestone. Other kids are not.  There are books, websites and doctor's lectures devoted solely to potty talk. There are normative age ranges, statistics and countless methods of toileting instruction. I think that it is important to remember that our kids are not cookie cutters.  Each one of them is uniquely created from their head to their toes and their bladder in between.

As a mom, I have had had to resist the urge to compare my kids' potty progress to other kids'. I have to remind myself to consult and not compare when I speak with other moms.  My biggest encouragement has actually come from my kids themselves.  Seeing that each of them reached the coveted status of "Potty Trained" at a different age and in their own unique way, was all the confirmation that I needed. After all, as one wise mom once told me, "I've never met a college kid who wasn't potty trained.".  All in good time, friends. All in good time.

And just for the record, I would like to apologize to the poor, unsuspecting JC Penney employee who slipped and fell in my pee, thirty-six years ago.  If it makes you feel any better, over the years, I have also slipped and fell in various and assorted puddles, rivers and streams left around my home by monkeys, puppies, and other assorted creatures.



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fifteen Years Ago Today...

Today we celebrated our middle monkey boy's 15th birthday.  15 years full of this...

Lisbet Photography
Lisbet Photography

Lisbet Photography

Words would never do this kid justice.  You have to see him to believe him.  To see him is to love him.  He has a dynamic personality.  Where ever he goes, he has an energy that he brings with him.  He walks into a room and the party begins. He is charming and sweet, compassionate and passionate, hysterically funny and wisely serious, he is a champion for others and he never meets a stranger.

I remember when I was in labor with him, about an hour before he was born, the mood in the room suddenly became very serious.  As the nurses were putting an oxygen mask on me, they were explaining that our baby's heart rate had dropped to a dangerously low level.  The room was buzzing with activity, but life seemed to be moving in slow motion.  My doctor flew into the room, but for me time was standing still.  

I just kept thinking about my baby, and how much I already loved him.  We were connected.  He was a part of me. With every kick, belly roll and hiccup I loved him more.  I talked to him that night and told him that he needed to be strong.  When the doctor placed an internal monitor into his tiny scalp and rubbed his little head, his heart rate went up.  He liked the physical touch.  At that moment, before he was even born, I knew he would be a people person.  

Fast forward to today, and I will wholeheartedly confirm that he is indeed a people person. People love this boy.  Especially this momma person. 

Happy Birthday, Monkey Boy!


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