Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day weekend has, surprisingly, been more relaxed than most weekends with toddlers are!  I’m sure much of that is because Jason’s parents were here on Saturday and Sunday.  We had a cookout on Sunday night and Nannie came too.






This morning we went to a pool we like.  It’s a public pool.  I would love to join a private pool at some point, but for the cost, it wouldn’t really be worth it to us right now.  I can’t imagine taking the kids to a pool by myself with the ages they are now, so we will only be going when I have an extra pair of adult hands!  But I’m hoping to go to this or another public pool once a week in the summer.

It was busy, and Jason and I were busy with the kids, so I only got a couple pictures.  Snack time for Meredith!


A view of the pool – Jason and Russell are in this picture somewhere, but I couldn’t get a closer shot and keep an eye on Meredith with her snack!


Most importantly, thank you to our dedicated military and veterans for all you do!  Happy Memorial Day!

Friday, May 25, 2012

13 months old!

(Quick cell phone pictures – nothing fancy!)


I wasn’t going to do a 13 month update on Meredith, but she’s doing some new things that I don’t want to forget!

The biggest news: Meredith is really starting to talk!  Most of the time, I (and possibly Russell and Jason) are the only ones who would understand these words, but that’s how talking starts.  So far, her words include:

  • Hello: she will put a phone up to her ear and say it.
  • Bye: usually after I say it to someone (on the phone or in person).
  • Uh-oh: when something is dropped.
  • Balloon (“boo”): her favorite thing!  She points them out everywhere – you wouldn’t believe how many balloons there are in everyday life that you wouldn’t notice unless Meredith was with you Smile

I love and am so relieved that she is talking.  I didn’t think she had the problems that Russell did, but you just don’t know until they start talking.


She has also started signing!  I’ve been trying to teach her signs for a while, but it suddenly clicked.  She is signing “more” and “all done.” She has also signed “please” and “thank you”.  I’m working on “help” so she can do that instead of screaming!  She has quite a squeal!

Meredith’s gross motor skills are developing as well.  She is a fearless climber and we have caught her on top of the train table several times.  She experiments with walking backwards and walking in circles.


Meredith, you are curious, independent (but still a Mommy’s girl), and definitely have an opinion of your own!  We love you so much!

Last Day of Preschool

Yesterday was Russell’s last day of preschool for the school year.  He will be attending their summer class 1 day/week as well, but yesterday was their big end-of-year program. 

Class picture of the “Hootin’ Tootin’ Twos” (Russell looks mad but he just gets that look sometimes – I doubt he was really upset.  He is on the front row, 2nd from left.)

At the program yesterday, they sang “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” “This is the Day that the Lord Has Made,” and some other song I’d never heard of.  I don’t think Russell had heard it much either – he just stood there for that one.  But he really sang and did the motions for the others.

Updated: I got some great pictures from a friend who sat in the front row!  Russell is in the blue and white striped polo.

Itsy Bitsy Spider :)

They also sent this home with him.  I can’t believe how much bigger he is than he was in September!  And he looked like a baby in the first picture!  He is growing up so fast!

He never tells me that he wants to go to preschool – in fact, usually he tells me “no preschool or church today.  Just play at home” – but he always has fun when he’s there, and comes back telling me about all the fun he had.  He never cries when I drop him off but always runs to the door excitedly when Meredith and I pick him up.

I have signed him up again for 1 day/week in the fall, and next year, his friend Eliza will be joining his class!  I know he’ll like that.  We still haven’t decided if we will homeschool or send him to school, which is why I’m sending him 1 day/week (instead of none or two, which I would do if we had fully decided!)  We still have some time!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Disney World: Magic Kingdom, day 2, and Downtown Disney

We were awakened bright and early (6:45?) by my dad on Thursday morning so we could take advantage of the Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom.  (EMH are hours that are only available to those saying in Disney resorts – on that day, Magic Kingdom had an EMH from 8-9 am.  It makes the park much less crowded.)  My dad is like me on steroids.  For those who think that I’m organized, itinerary-ized, a planner, and efficient – well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!

Once we got to Magic Kingdom, I was really glad he had gotten us moving do to this EMH.  There was no crowd, there were no lines, and (sadly) I took practically no pictures because we were so excited to get on all the rides as fast as possible!

Here are some photos I did take:


After the Winnie-the-Pooh ride – this little house was so cute and the picture doesn’t really do it justice.


Terrible picture on the Buzz Lightyear ride (that’s what I get for taking my cell phone but not my camera on that day).  Side note: the Buzz Lightyear ride was pretty cool – it was like being in an interactive video game.  You were supposed to shoot at the aliens on the ride with your laser gun.  My dad got 800,000-some points!  (If you get 999,000 you win a button – not a big deal but it would have been cool!  We didn’t know that until the ride was over, though.)


We also went on the Peter Pan ride, the Astro Orbiter (similar to Dumbo but with rocket ships instead of elephants), the jungle cruise, and the train around the park, and visited the Swiss Family Robinson treehouse.  We were done with everything on our agenda by 11:30!

By that time, Meredith was none too happy (on the train)…


…so my mom and I took her back to the villa while the guys stayed to do a couple more things.

Later that afternoon, after lunch/naps, we decided to visit Downtown Disney rather than going back to Magic Kingdom.  Downtown Disney is basically shops, restaurants, and entertainment.  We rode a ferry from our resort over to the Downtown Disney area:


and visited the Lego shop – this is the first time Russell has ever shown interest in legos/duplos!:


We then stopped into the Disney store to get souvenirs for the kids (Russell picked cars – shocker – while Meredith got a Minnie Mouse light-up thing), and then back on the boat to the resort.

And that was it – our Disney trip!  The next day was filled with travel: 7 am bus to the airport, 10:20 flight, noon arrival, but because of some snafus, we didn’t end up at home until 4 pm (yikes!)  I’ve almost never seen Meredith happier: she walked around giggling, picking up all of her toys, walk-running from room to room.

And Jason and I fell into our couches and began planning a real vacation – one where the kids will stay home!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Disney World: Epcot


Again, not wanting to wake up Meredith early, we were a bit late getting to Epcot on Wednesday morning (meaning around 9:30 – which is pretty late when you know you’ll have to leave by noon at the latest for naps and lunch).  Of course I appreciated the free transportation to and from Disney on the buses, but when you factor in waiting for a bus, riding and stopping to pick up more people, and going through the line to get in to the park, it sometimes took an hour to get from our villa to the park.  Meredith was not super happy about this arrangement.  Russell liked the bus rides and is still talking about them Smile

Anyway, by the time we got to the line for the Epcot entrance, Meredith was already having such a fit that my mom offered to take her back to the villa before even entering Epcot.  (The all-day rain that day probably didn’t help M’s mood.) I declined.  We were at Epcot, and we were going to have fun, dang it! Smile

She started enjoying herself when we got to our first ride, the Finding Nemo ride.  (Russell has the goofiest “cheese” face – can’t get him to stop making it!)


After the ride, the kids (and Jason and I and Pops and Mimi) enjoyed looking around the aquarium a little bit.


Next, we went on the Livin’ with the Land ride.  It was a fun little boat ride.

Those were the only two rides that Meredith (and Jason) got to go on.  She was completely melting down at that point.  Oh well.  He took her back to the villa while the rest of us stayed a bit longer.  It was just as well, because I think she would have been bored with the rest of it.  Epcot was a little old for both of the kids.  Russell did go on the Spaceship Earth ride with my parents while Jef, Sejal and I rode this TERRIBLE (to me) astronaut simulation ride – another thing I’m apparently too old for: simulation rides - and then hung out with Uncle Jef and Sejal while the rest of us rode Soarin’. 

I think this photo was after Soarin’: me, Kelly, Jon and my mom.


After we took Russell home, Jason and I were able to go back out and visit the countries of Epcot.  Because of all the rain, I didn’t get any photos.  But we had a delicious gelato concoction and cappuccino in Italy!  The countries were Jason’s favorite part of the whole trip.

We came back in time for baths and bedtime:


and that was our day!  One more day in Disney: Magic Kingdom part 2 coming next!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Disney World: Magic Kingdom Day 1

We decided to do 2 days at Magic Kingdom and skip Hollywood Studios.  There is just so much to do at Magic Kingdom, and not as much at Hollywood Studios for little ones.  I’m really glad we did this because Magic Kingdom ended up being my favorite park.  I think it was the kids’ favorite too.  (Jason’s was Epcot.)

We had a character breakfast reservation at 8:10 am at the Crystal Palace, which is where you meet the Winnie-the-Pooh characters.  It was definitely tough to get there so early – in fact, we were about 15 minutes late, I think.  I’m really glad we did this breakfast!  The food was good (which it better be for $60) and each of the characters stopped by our table.  Our kids LOVE characters – Meredith nearly cried when each one left and wanted to follow them around the restaurant!

While we waited for our table, I had someone take our picture outside with Cinderella’s Castle in the background.


It was a little bit hard to do a buffet with the kids.  Jason was the “food runner” while I cut up food, filled cups, made sure no one was turning plates over or spilling syrup, etc.  Someone asked later what we ate and I said, “I don’t know.” We were too busy with the kids – normal day Smile I definitely did get coffee, though!


Eeyore visited us first, then Piglet, then Tigger.  Russell missed Pooh because he and Jason were in the bathroom – sad!




After breakfast, we looked at our handy smart phone app that told us the wait times for all the rides.  The wait for the tea cups was only 5 minutes, so we rode them twice.  (Well, I only rode them once.  Apparently 30 for me means my balance/tolerance for spinning is not what it used to be!)


Then Meredith and I waited while Russell and Jason rode the Tommorowland Speedway.  And then we met up with Pops and Mimi, and Pops and Russell rode it.  Of course Russell loved that!  (In the pic, Jason and Russell are in the orange car on the left.)



Next, we went to see Mickey’s PhilharMagic (3D movie).  It was great – much better than the scary bugs movie at Animal Kingdom!  I was very impressed with Meredith – she was entertained the whole time during both 3D movies – I was expecting her to get bored and want to walk around, but she stayed very still.

Waiting in line (Jason stayed out – 3D movies make him sick):


Jason took Meredith back to the villa after this – it was about 12:30 and she was done.  The rest of us stayed to ride It’s a Small World and Dumbo, and Russell and Mimi and I rode Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel a couple times.  For the record, the wait for Dumbo was the longest wait we had during the entire trip at around 25-30 minutes.  Most of the time, we only waited between 5-15 minutes for each ride.




We got back to the villa around 3.  After dinner, Mimi graciously watched the kids while the rest of us went back to Magic Kingdom to ride the “adult” rides – Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, Snow White’s Scary Adventures – and watch the fireworks.  Fun, busy, tiring day!

Disney World: Animal Kingdom

I suppose I should start by giving our overall plan for the week.  We bought the 4-day single park passes (for Jason and I; the kids got in to all parks free because they are under 3.)  The loose plan was to go to a park in the morning, stay for a couple hours, come back for lunches and afternoon naps, and possibly go out again in the late afternoon.  This meant Meredith missed her morning nap every day (since she doesn’t sleep in the stroller).  It made her quite cranky!  We had an itinerary set with the rides that are rated the best for preschoolers at each park.  I like having a plan!
Anyway, on Monday, we went to Animal Kingdom!  My parents and brothers and girlfriends took Russell with them at 7:30 am.  Jason, Meredith and I got there around 9:30 I think – we wanted to let Meredith sleep in.
First stop was the safari!  Here are Kelly, Russell and Jason waiting in line.
Meredith hated waiting in line, but she loved all the rides, including this safari.  Both of the kids love animals, so they were excited to point them all out.
Taking a snack break with Pops and Mimi:
We then watched a little bit of the African drummers/dancers, and then stood in a super long line to meet Mickey Mouse.  Not worth it!  That was the only character line we stood in all week.  Next time, I think I’ll do one more character breakfast (Chef Mickey’s) to meet the characters easier.  But, I did get this cute picture of Russell and Mickey:
And I almost forgot to say this, but then we saw the scariest 3D movie ever marketed for kids - "It's Tough to Be a Bug."  Seriously, they shouldn't let kids under 13 in that show!  Russell and Meredith did well, but there were kids crying all over the place.  I didn't get any pictures in there.

We didn’t end up doing a whole lot at Animal Kingdom.  We were still trying to figure things out on that first day.  I was thinking we could have lunch and naps and head back out, but it just didn’t work out that way.  We did end up checking out the playground and pool at Old Key West in the afternoon…
…for about 15 minutes, until it started to rain!
We got into our groove the next day at Magic Kingdom and got to do a lot more!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Disney World! Travel Day 1

We went to Disney World last week!  With a 13-month-old and a 2.9 year old!  Are we crazy?  If we weren’t before we left, we are now!  It was fun, but quite exhausting.

Sunday 5/13 – day of travel.  Itinerary: 1 pm – drive 2 hours to the airport (so that we could get a direct flight).  4:20 – fly to Orlando.  6(ish) – land in Orlando.  After that – take a 45-minute “Disney Magical Express” ride to Old Key West Resort on the Disney property!

We knew this would get hairy.  I wasn’t worried about Russell; he has become a great traveler – actually, just an all-around great kid.  Meredith, however, pretty much hates traveling.  I was most concerned about the flight, just because I didn’t want her to disturb everyone.  Needless to say, I got few pictures that day; I was busy concentrating on keeping Meredith happy!  It basically worked – she only cried for about 10 minutes on the plane.

We got to the airport long-term parking and it was pouring.  We sat in the car for a few minutes deciding what to do.  (The kids were just happy to be out of their carseats.)


We soon made it inside the airport and it was crazy!  We barely got to our plane on time.  They were boarding zones 1 and 2 when we showed up.  Side note: the only time Russell freaked out was when he had to give Fuzzy over to go through the security conveyor belt.  And then Jason had to get patted down and that didn’t help the situation.  (Apparently a case of baby wipes can cause a big commotion.)

No pics of the kids’ first flight.  I really meant to, but all hands were on deck making sure the kids had food, drinks and entertainment.

After the flight, while we were waiting for the Magical Express, the kids were so happy to get to run around the airport a little.


I think we made it to the resort around 7:45.  We were greeted by Uncle Jon and Kelly, Uncle Jef and Sejal, and Pops and Mimi!  What fun!  More running around, then some dinner and bedtime.  Everyone was exhausted and we had to get ready for Animal Kingdom on Monday!  Maybe I’ll write about that tomorrow Smile