Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Vegas, baby?

On Friday, I am going to Las Vegas without my children.

You'd think I'd be ready to have a parade. I've only been away from Baby B a total of 2 nights (one overnight to NYC when Baby B was with dad and one "romantic" overnight with dad to scenic, nearby Greensboro. My mom watched the kids). I've been away from the WG only once or twice for a weekend. And it was blissful for the first 12-15 hours and torture after that.

I miss them so badly. After years of staying home with them, my identity and my happiness are so wrapped up in the children. I miss their little bodies, their voices, their laughs, even their cries. I miss the ritual and routine - the same things that make me long for a getaway when I'm home. I know I'll have fun in Vegas, but this part - the dreading leaving them - is the worst.

So, I'm busing myself getting the house ready. I'm scheduling manicures and pedicures for myself so that I'm super busy and don't have to think about leaving them. I've typed ten pages worth of notes for the wonderful women that are taking care of them. I've recorded videos of me talking for them on the computer. I've wrapped a gift for each of them for each day. I've bought a portable webcam so we can Skype them while we're gone. I've got their outfits chosen for each day, their meals planned, and tomorrow I'll start baking the muffins and cooking the dinners they'll eat while I'm gone. If I can just squeeze in enough activities that I don't think about how hard it will be to be away from them, maybe then, I'll be alright.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

You're Going to Disney World Again?????

My name is Corey Williams, and I am a disneyacholic.

I admit it. We don't go for the children, we go for me. And even though we went last December, we're planning another trip for May and I can't stop thinking about it. Luckily, my best friend and partner in crime, Allison, has the same weakness. In fact, we just got off the phone (a 131 minute phone call, by my phone's meter) discussing just what's we'd do this time.

Here's what makes our highlights:

1. Pirates and Princesses
We're a huge fan of the Disney after-hours parties. They shut the park down just for the party guests, have extra shows, parades, and character meet and greets. Plus, the lines are super short and lots of people dress up for the occasion. We've done the Not So Scary Halloween Party and the Very Merry Christmas Party before - very, very fun.

2. We're taking babysitters!
Our longtime babysitters (who are great friends) are coming with us on this trip. We're splitting the cost of their rooms, covering their plane flights and tickets, but in exchange we'll get something we've not had before - flexibility. The sitters can stay home with the littlest ones while they nap. The sitters can stay with the kids after their 7pm bedtime and we can go out for grownup dinners. Victoria and Albert here we come!

3. Mickey's Backyard BBQ
We've done lots of character dining, but my family hasn't done this one. Allison and her crew love it. All you can eat BBQ, watermelon, ice cream, beer and wine. Plus, dancing with the characters. I'm really looking forward to this one.

4. The Little Einstein's Breakfast at MGM's Hollywood and Vine
One of my favorite character experiences thus far, the kiddos had an amazing time dancing with Leo, June and Quincy. Plus, we had table visits from all three Little Einstein's there that day and Jo Jo and Goliath as well. The food was good (we were there at transition time, so got a little breakfast and a little lunch) and it was super easy.

5. The New Playhouse Disney Live on Stage
My kids are Mickey Mouse Clubhouse junkies. So, they've seen lots of promotional material about the new Live on Stage show featuring Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Handy Manny. I mean, seriously, I think they're going to freak when they see Manny.

So, that's really it for me. That's what gives me the rush about Disney. I remember the way I felt as a kid when I went there - that there were happily ever afters, that magic was real and that dreams do come true. And I just melt when I see it written all over my kids little mouse-ear topped faces. It's so delicious. And boy, does it ever take me back.

Pictured above, mommy and her best friend at Disney in December, 2005 at the Beach Club buffet.
Pictured below, WG and her best friend at Disney, December 2005 at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

"Corey Williams, Is That You Planting a Flower?"

Last Sunday, I must have been channeling Martha Stewart. Because I embarked on a project in an area in which I have no skill or natural ability (okay, there's more than one).

I planted containers next to my front door.

Let me start by saying that I am one of the people that silk plants were invented for. Don't get me wrong, I think flowers are lovely. I ogle plants at the arboretum and lust after the vegetation at the nursery, but when it comes to a real live plant living in my own home - it's another story.

Our current plant inventory consists of one peace plant that just won't die. We've put it in the back of a moving van from Boston to NC and it didn't die. We left it for two weeks on our honeymoon with no attention, and it bloomed. This thing is like the cockroach of the plant world.

We've also managed to keep a plant given to me by Tom Westmoreland alive, against all odds. I can only credit its continued life with the spirit in which he gave it.

I digress. Sunday morning saw me and my whole clan wandering the garden center at Lowes. WG searched for the perfect rose - a la Princess Belle. Baby B stuck his hand in every water feature displayed. Mel paced in big strides up and down the aisles with furrowed brow, looking for replacement shrubs for those lost in the drought.

I fretted over plants for the containers. It was my fourth trip to Lowes to choose plants for the containers. Fourth, this season. Each time, I chickened out. How should I know whether my front door is in full or partial sun? Which plants grow at the same rates? How do you choose based on height, color, etc. I went home, I read lots of "beginner" gardening articles on sites like About.com (who knew that was still around?)

In the end, I left Lowes with eight plants for each of two pots, three bags of potting soil and a stomach full of nerves.

WG was all smiles and giggles when we got home. She was ready for gardening action immediately. Mel settled in to watch some basketball and with Baby B asleep, there was no avoiding it.

WG and I got outside and started unloading. My neighbor across the street, June, an avid gardener herself, emerged from her house and yelled, "Corey Williams, is that you planting a flower? I'm going to pass out."

Well me too. I got all the plants in pot number one before that I-have-absolutely-no-idea-what-i'm-doing feeling set in. And I told WG it was time for a consult. We retrieved June from her yard, and augmented with tools from her garage and some plant food, she came over to teach us the fine points.

With an expert in the wings, I was finally able to relax. As it turns out, I did a good job selecting different height plants. My flowering plant will likely need to be replaced in two weeks, but that's okay, says June with a smile. WG smiled. I smiled. It was good, really really good.

So, in the end, I have two gorgeous pots next to my front door. And I have a very happy WG, who dutifully waters both plants before going to school every morning. And she can't wait to do some more planting. And truthfully, neither can I.

Monday, March 17, 2008

My Craig's List Find

Inspired by my friend (and Charlotte Baby & Child Art Director) Danielle Anthony, I started hunting for cool furniture pieces on Craig's List. A couple hundred posts and about four hours later, I found the most adorable headboard for Baby B's room.

Saturday morning we headed to a neighborhood in Durham to see the bed. It was a delightful adventure. It got us out of our usual neighborhood, we got to meet some new people and the kids had big fun romping around the dealers giant back yard. Plus, the bed is terrific. It's a delicious lemon yellow color with bamboo like accents in white. Yummy! The best part, it was $50 from a local flea market/antiques dealer.

For those of you who wonder what happened to my nautical vs. wilderness theme room for Baby B - I've had a total change of heart. After nearly a week of sleeping on the floor next to the crib when Baby B had RSV, I decided that I'll definitely need a bed in the nursery. That means that Baby B needs to stay in his current room (the safari room below) because it doesn't have room for both a bed and crib.

Mel thinks I'm nuts for needing to plan the new baby's room and plan for Baby B's room before we even get pregnant. But the entire idea of introducing a fifth little being into this household makes me feel pretty out of control. I know that this is just my attempt to impose some order on a situation that is, be definition, quite unknown. But it's my nature. I'm an over-planner.

So, before I'm really ready, there's some serious work to do around this house. I have to get my office/craft room organized, the storage room cleaned out, the nursery and nursery closet ready for baby. At my current rate of progress, I'll be forty by the time we get pregnant. I better get it in gear or give up some of the goals. I'll let you know how it goes, but if you're putting money on it, I'd bet on a serious revamp of my priorities about the time the weather gets warm and the pool opens.

Friday, March 14, 2008

The 11th Hour

There are moments when being a magazine publisher is really glamorous. This is not one of those times. Danielle (Charlotte Baby and Child Art Director) and I are huddled together in my office/craft room/sewing room. We've been in here for what seems like days; adjusting the bleed on ads, placing last minute photos and churning out copy for holes as things fall into place. Our deadline was 3pm. It's now pushing 1:30am. I am actually hungry, because I ate dinner so very long ago. My makeup is off, hair is in a pony tail, and I'm two steps from throwing on my yoga pants. My bottom is tingly from sitting too long. Have I complained enough? I better send this issue off in a hurry before I fall out of love with it.

But here's what I'm looking forward to....

Our Contributors: For the first time, control-freak Corey has decided to loosen the reigns and let a few other writers contribute to the magazine. And the pieces are great. Tonya Harrington wrote a terrific piece about BPA and why parents should be paying attention to the debate about this chemical. Courtney McLauglin interviewed lots of faith leaders in Charlotte to learn how kids raised in faith-oriented environments see the world differently. And one of my favorites, my best friend Allison Murray (a first time writer!) contributed a hilarious musing about motherhood.

Our Pictorals: I decided to make this our biggest birthday party issue ever! Many of you know that I'm working on a book of children's parties, and I pulled one from the book to share with our readers - My Baby B's first birthday party. And there are three other parties! I can't wait to hear what readers have to say about them. (Oh, and the nurseries are to die for!!!!)

The Layout: Danielle has busted her hump making this issue our most beautiful yet. The design is super clean, terrifically consist ant (because someone I know is a stickler for that) and deliciously whimsical.

And of course, I snuck my kids into a few corners of the magazine. Mr. B filled in for a model that had pneumonia. And the WG posed for an ad for Persnickety, an adorable boutique in Gaffney, SC. (Here's a peek at a shot we didn't use that Danielle blogged without telling me. I'm watching you D!)

Danielle has just sent off the pdf to our copy editor. So, we're wrapping it up for the night. I guess I'll be in bed by two after all! That is, if we can quit talking about the things we love in this issue.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A Quick Spring Break in the Middle of Crunch Time

The magazine is at T-minus three and counting. We're scheduled to be at the copy editor's this Friday and if we don't make that deadline, things start to get sticky. Of course, I still have ads and images coming in, I have two articles left to write, and LOTS of proofing to do. In the middle of all of this, are my children! Of course, my deadline week overlaps with the WG's spring break. So, not wanting to shortchange her, we took a quick trip to DC for a long weekend.

We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton, which is decidedly different from most Four Points properties. It is a full service hotel and recently remodeled. The rooms were TINY, even on the upgraded "Starwood Preferred" floor.

On day 1, we hit the Air and Space museum. WG enjoyed going in the planes and she likes the hands on exhibits. Even Baby B got into the IMAX movie: The Sun 3D. We grabbed lunch in the museum cafe (McDonald's has a near lock on it) and are now the proud new owners of a dress up space suit.

Naps followed, and that night we headed to Open City on Calvert and Connecticut. It's a great, kid friendly spot where you can get lots of veggies and homemade mac n cheese.

Day 2 we headed up to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. Well worth the trip, the kids just LOVED the huge sting ray open tank. There are HUGE rays living there and Baby B couldn't stop squealing at them. WG discovered a love for digital photography on this trip and took about a hundred photos of fish in tanks. We all enjoyed the dolphin show, which was truly amazing. But if you have preschoolers, avoid the aquarium's 4D movie. We tried it because it was described as "scary because it uses strobe lights, etc." Actually, the seats are very interactive -little plastic things whip around your feet to simulate snakes, the seats buzz and hum when bees are on the screen, and they even shoot water. It was WAY too much for the WG and we left with her in tears. It was nothing that a few minutes in the gift shop couldn't solve, but the aquarium doesn't do a good job describing why the movie is so scary. If you have preschoolers, this is definitely one to avoid.

That night, we had dinner are Lauriol in Adams Morgan, which was really terrific. I had the Cuban stead (amazing, the chimmi churri was to die for), hubby had two enchiladas, rice and beans (his standard) and the kids devoured quesadillas. They make their own tortillas and chips on premise, and you can even watch them make tortillas. The restaurant manages to be both upscale (linen table cloths in a Mexican restaurant) and kid friendly, a combo which I adore. We'll head back to Lauriol when we're next in town. FIVE STARS on this one!

Then, it was back home for us and now the kids are playing in the playroom (which they missed dearly) and I'm churning out the last of the articles. Wish me luck!