Saturday, November 30, 2013

22 Months!

 

  • He weighs 28 lbs
  • He wears  2T tops, 18-24 month bottoms, size 5 diapers and 6.5 shoes
  • He sleeps from 8 pm - 6/6:15 am.  Some mornings he starts talking to himself at 5:45 but we still don't get him out of his crib until 6:45.  I keep hoping he'll start sleeping later but so far my plan is not working.  He sings to entertain himself.  This week's selection has been "hullabaloo caneck caneck" over and over (Aggies will get that one).
  • He naps from 1pm - 3pm
  • He has the same food favorites: turkey, eggs, pasta, bananas, cheese and graham crackers.  He also learned what lasagna and jambalaya are, and has been asking for them specifically.
  • He is talking so much more and has so much to say, but sometimes we struggle to understand him.  He's added lots of phrases: If he falls, he'll say "I'm fine" or "I'm ok."  When him and Madeline are fighting over something he'll say, "my turn."  If I get him out of bed in the morning (rather than Jon) he'll say "Daddy work?"  If he doesn't like what's for dinner, he'll say, "I tried it" because he knows Madeline  has to try everything even if she doesn't like it. 
  • He brought me a toy and said "fix it."  After I fixed the toy he said, "thanks Mommy."  Seriously, I could eat the child up.
  • He is such a sweet boy.  He loves to run up to me and give hugs.  His teachers at school tell me how sweet he is.  They had also never seen him throw a fit until I was there one day for his Thanksgiving party and he didn't like me telling him what to do.
  • Speaking of school: He loves it.  When I drop Madeline off on Fridays he cries when he realizes he's not going to school that day.
  • He'll go up to Madeline and hug her, but then he tries to tackle her.  Sometime she lets him and laughs, other times she screams at him.  Sibling love at its finest.
  • He loves to play outside.  He'll drag a kitchen chair to the back door so he can look out the window and say, "Outside? Play?"
  • He FINALLY got his top vampire teeth
  • He likes to count to ten then clap for himself.
  • His current favorite book is "Green Eggs and Ham".  His favorite toys are Little People Sets, books, puzzles and playing with Madeline's doll house.  He sets the people up like they are eating/sleeping and talking to each other.  It's cute. Luckily Santa is bringing him some boy toys.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Disney World: The Big Reveal and Day One at Epcot

We decided to wait to tell Madeline about Disney World for a few reasons: First, in the event of a freak late season hurricane/illness/etc, I didn't want to crush a 3 year old's dreams.  Second, I didn't want her asking about it 54506874 times a day.  On Thursday night before we left, we sat down as a family and watched the WDW Vacation planning DVD, since it's a broad overview of the entire place. 

We pointed out specifics, and said things like, "Would you like to go there?  Would that be fun?"  At the end of the DVD we told her. "Guess what, we're going to fly on a plane and go to Walt Disney World!"  Her reaction was a little underwhelming.  She said, "WHAT?"  We repeated it, and she said, "That sounds like fun." The picture below was her exact face.  Looks more like a kid who was just told they get to go to the grocery store.  I showed her the suitcases we had packed and it started to sink in.  She insisted on going through her costume box.  We ended up taking 7 princess dresses, 3 tiaras and one wand.  I nixed the fairy wings.
 
Friday morning we had a fun breakfast on Mickey plates.

 
Saturday morning we were up bright and early to be at the airport at 6:30 am for an 8:30 flight.  As previously discussed, our seats were not guaranteed to be together and I wanted to get that situation figured out.  Luckily the Patron Saint of Seat Assignments was looking out for us.  The two back rows of the plane were empty so we were all able to sit together.

 Waiting for our flight.  It was still dark outside.  Granny made all of the appliqued shirts you'll see.  I was OCD about the kids having matching shirts (big surprise) and Granny pulled though big time!  THANK YOU!
 
Walking to the plane.  I find this one ridiculously cute. 
 
Good news:  Seats together in the back row.  Bad news: no windows.  Luckily Madeline didn't know any better.  The kids were great on the flight, thanks to colors, markers and a 1000 sticker book.
 
Once we arrived in Orlando we walked off the plane and Madeline says, "Wait, this isn't the same place!"  She was so confused and didn't understand that the plane took us to a different airport.  We retrieved our luggage and made a very important Starbucks pit stop.  It was about this time where the handle of one of our suitcases broke, so Jon had to squat to basically drag it around the airport.  Then I got us lost for 30 minutes looking for the "Magical Express" (the bus that took us to the hotel).   Apparently there is an "A" and "B" side of the airport.  I took us completely around the "A" side before someone pointed us in the right direction.  By the time we got to where we needed to be, Jon was not the happiest of campers.  While we were waiting in line to be checked into the bus, he was trying to shove a bag into the bottom of the stroller and an elderly lady working for Disney tells him, "Sir, the only attitude we have here is a magical one."  I just about died laughing.  The fact that she said it with a straight face was impressive. While we waited in line for the bus my mom and Madeline had an impromptu dance class.

Once we boarded the Magical Express to take us to the hotel, it became evident that the word "magical" should be turned into a drinking game.  Everytime your hear the word "magical", take a drink.  The only problem with this is that you'd be passed out in 5 minutes.  Seriously, I was over the word on day 1.  Once we reached the Art of Animation resort we were able to check into our Finding Nemo suite.  I think I was more excited about this than the kids.  I was even more excited to find out that our building and actual room was closest to the food/bus stops.  Seriously....out of almost 3,000 rooms, there were maybe 6 that were closer than ours. Score! We changed clothes and headed to Epcot.
 
Little man passed out as soon as he hit the stroller.  I was SO glad we brought our stroller from home.  It's a Bumbleride Indie Twin that we got off of Craigslist, and the thing is amazing.  I could push it with one hand, loaded down with both kids and a basket full of stuff.

We were pleasantly surprised to find many classic Disney characters at Epcot.  Madeline's first "meet and greet" was with Pluto.  This was the first of 32 character greetings.  I counted. At WDW, kids carry around little autographs books for the characters to sign.  After our trip I put together a photo album with each autograph next to a pic of her meeting that character.  

 
After Pluto we noticed that we were right by the building where Mickey, Minnie and Goofy were.  Talk about an awesome start to the trip!  I mean, seriously.  Look at her face.  The kid was in heaven.  She put on this "shy" routine with them all and it was so sweet.


The mean mommy in me wanted to wake up Andrew to see his reaction to Mickey Mouse in his face.  The good mommy in me let him sleep.  It was a tough call.



 
Next, we set off to find some "kid" things to do, which can be difficult in Epcot.  I immediately became thankful for Fastpass +, and the ability we had to make selections ahead of time.  We were able to hit up almost all of the popular rides with little wait times.  We rode The Seas with Nemo and Friends, went to Turtle Talk with Crush and Test Track.  Test Track is a "crash dummy" ride, where you take a thrill ride on a track and it ends with a 60 mph lap.  Jon, Gerilyn and I took Madeline.  When were there 7 years ago it was a fun, lighthearted but fast ride.  Apparently things have changed since then.  It was dark, loud and the only thing that hadn't changed was the 60 mph loop.  Now would be a good time to discuss how my child loves fast rides and roller coasters.  She'll ride anything she's tall enough for (although I nixed any ride I thought she might fly out of).  She loved the Test Track, and held her arms up and screamed with a big smile on her face. 
 
We had some time to kill before dinner, so we started to walk around the various Epcot countries.  In researching places to meet characters, I found out that "China" in Epcot was the only place in ALL of WDW to meet Mulan.  Knowing Madeline would ask about it later, we tried to track Mulan down, only to find out that we had missed her for the day.  Whenever someone asks about the Disney trip, she just loves to mention how she didn't get to meet Mulan or Pocahontas.  Rub it in, child.  We did get to meet Alice in Wonderland, who told us to watch out for rabbit holes.


Clearly I have a problem.  Let's just say I had finished off a (plastic) glass of wine before this picture was taken.

 Pre-children, Epcot was my favorite park, hands down. 
Now it's a toss up between Epcot and Magic Kingdom.
 
For dinner we had reservations at Akershus, also known as dinner with the princesses.  Our own princess had decided to dress as Aurora for the evening.
 
Belle's dresses were always the most beautiful.

 
 
 Both boys liked the restaurant.  It was a partial buffet.  Buffet = Jon is happy.

 
 It amazed me how all the characters made each greeting SO special for the person they were meeting.  All conversations were specific, made reference to their movies and they never broke character.  Trust me, Jon tried.  He asked them lots of questions.  After Cinderella left Madeline realized she forgot to ask Cinderella if she was wearing glass slippers.  Cinderella was standing behind Jon with her back towards us, so he went to lift up the bottom of her dress to look at her shoes.  Luckily I was able to squawk loud enough before he did it.  I did not want to be associated with the person who was kicked out of WDW for lifting up the bottom of Cinderella's dress.

Dinner with princesses = Madeline eats broccoli.  I need to hire these ladies to feed my kids.
 
 Andrew was more interested in the food and was not amused when Ariel interrupted his meal.


 The highlight of Madeline's dinner was the Princess Parade.  The kids paraded around the restaurant with the princesses and waved as if they were greeting their people.

After dinner we headed back to the hotel and crashed.  It was an 18 hour day for us and we had to gear up for day 2!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

8 Year Anniversary

I've had the privilege of being married to this dude for 8 years (as of yesterday). 

 Now for an anniversary flashback.  Oh, how things have changed since anniversary #1. We were living in Chicago at the time.  It fell on a Sunday, so we spent the weekend downtown at the Intercontinental Hotel, ate at nice restaurants, shopped and went to see Blue Man Group. 

(Ignore my half open eyes.  Apparently I'm incapable of taking a decent pic when a flash must be used)

Then we forgot to eat the top of our wedding cake.  Jon woke me up and made me go downstairs to eat it (and it was gross).
 
This year, on the morning of anniversary #8, we discussed what to get the kids for Christmas/Birthdays while Mickey Mouse Clubhouse was on TV.  And wiped runny noses 460244 times (thank you, cold front).  And I wouldn't have it any other way. 
 
Last night we went to eat at 17 Restaurant in the Sam Houston Hotel. 
 
It was VERY small and quaint.  Like everyone could hear your conversation.  We enjoyed the food and atmosphere.  Until the waiter made us take this picture, and I wanted to punch him (I kid, I kid). 
 
Peter, Niki and my mom watched the kids.  When Jon and I got home we all watched the dancing outtakes of our wedding reception, and laughed hysterically.  I'm sure some of you reading this would be mortified (or proud) of the dancing skills you possessed 8 years ago (I'm talking to you, Mark. :)  We watched the outtakes because I couldn't find the "real" DVD.  I better get to looking so I can find it by year #9!  I will spare you the sappiness, only to say that there is total truth in the saying that "people are made for each other."  There is no one else in this world that would put up with my antics like he does and make me laugh along the way.  Thanks, Babe!  Love you!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Disney World: Overview

At the end of October we had the most wonderful, fabulous trip to Disney World (WDW) in Orlando.  Before I start my overly detailed recap and picture overload, I wanted to share some resources and notes for anyone who might be thinking about taking the plunge.  A few friends have asked, so here's what I have to say while it's all fresh in my mind:

1. Kids' Ages: Before the trip, I was questioned by many people if we'd made the right decision by taking an almost 2 and almost 4 year old to Disney World.  I can 100% say I don't regret the decision at all.  Even better, Jon agrees with me.  Both kids were such troopers and did SO much better than I anticipated for all parts of the trip: flight, hotel, parks, etc.  I feel like Madeline's age is so great for that environment.  She knew ALL the characters and totally believed in the magic.  Do you think an 8 year old is *really* going to believe that Cinderella lives in that castle, or that you're meeting the real characters, not just actors?  She bought into it all, and the looks on her face were priceless.  I was more concerned about Andrew, but there wasn't one activity he did not enjoy. He even sat still through the shows and we saw LOTS of them.  There is plenty for a 2 year old to do.  He knew many of the characters and loved meeting them as well.  The only issue we had with him was that on day 2 he decided he'd rather walk/be carried than ride in the stroller.  Disclaimer: Both GiGi and Granny made the trip with us.  We loved having them there and that they were able to experience the kids' first trip to WDW.  They were also a HUGE help with the kids and for that we will be forever grateful!  Jon and I could have taken the kids by ourselves and been fine, but it was so nice to have extra hands to help with the kids. 

2: Planning Resources:
As discussed in a previous post, I spend tons of time researching and planning this trip.  For a detailed list of my OCD planning behaviors, see this.  Unfortunately, I do think a high level of planning is necessary for a successful WDW trip.  Once we got there, there were very few questions that I didn't have answers to, and I felt like all of the planning paid off.  My favorite resources were:
  • http://yourfirstvisit.net/ - This website was beyond awesome.  Dave, who runs the website, has enough charts and graphs to make my inner nerd dance with excitement.  We chose Oct 26-30 to visit WDW based on his rankings of the best weeks to go, and he was SPOT ON!  We didn't wait longer than 15 minutes for anything (except 1 activity to be discussed later) and the weather was FABULOUS.  I really believe both factors were instrumental in our trip's success.
  •  http://allears.net/index.html - TONS of Disney Info.
  • The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World with Kids 2014 - At one point I was feeling overwhelmed by internet research and decided to order this book.  It looks at all the rides, restaurants and more in great detail.  If anyone is planning a trip let me know and you can have my copy!
  • Our travel agent, Margaret Caffey of MEI & Mouse Fan Travel - Margaret was recommended by a former co-worker and she was SO helpful, and best of all, FREE!  Once we booked our trip, she was constantly checking with Disney to get us additional discounts.  Since we booked  the trip less than 180 days in advance, Margaret called WDW Dining every day to try and get us reservations at the most popular restaurants.  Her persistence paid off and we were able to get into every restaurant we wanted.  Her email address is margaretc@mei-travel.com.  We will definitely use her on our next trip.
3. Cost - Yes, it's WDW so it will be pricey.  However, it was not nearly as bad as I was expecting and with the proper planning it doesn't have to be expensive.  Choosing to go in the off-season can save you tons (see http://yourfirstvisit.net/).  WDW even hikes up their food prices during the busy seasons!  If your trip happens to fall during one of WDW's free dining promotions, you're in luck!  Our hotel did not qualify, so we got a room discount instead.  Before the trip, I ordered groceries from GardenGrocer.com that were delivered to our room the day we arrived.  Our room had a table/microwave/refrigerator so we ate breakfast in our rooms most mornings.  It was much easier for the kids and it was nice to have extra food/snacks in our room and not have to run to the restaurants when we needed something. We also packed lots of snacks to bring to the parks. 

Stay tuned for picture and WDW overload.  Once I deleted all the "not good" pics from my camera I had 376 pictures left.  We also came home with 71 videos, but lucky for you the files are too big for BlogSpot. :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

September / October Recap

Goodness, we've done quite a bit in the last two months!  Prepare for randomness....

A good friend of the family gave Madeline a VERY nice tea set from Paris that she is no longer using.  We celebrated the "passing down" of the tea set with a Tea Party at my mom's house.  Madeline loves tea parties and was in heaven.   Thank you, Mrs. GiGi!



The kids had grandparents' day at their school.  My dad came early and took Madeline to get a doughnut.  She felt so special.  (Notice Fergie in the bottom of the picture.  She obviously considers herself a grandchild and wanted to be in the photo.)
 
 
I hope my children do not inherit their parents' lack of athletic ability or inability to keep their mouths shut. I am, however, very proud of these sweet blue eyes. 

 
At the end of September I went with Jon to the JW Marriott in San Antonio for a conference he had for work.  I had a horrible cold/sinus infection and ended up at the CVS Redi-Clinic, but if you have to feel like crud, you might as well have a nice view and get spend the day at the spa.  At home I would have had keep up with kids/cooking/cleaning while dealing with migraine-like headaches.  Instead I was able to take a three hour nap.  It was amazing.  We also had dinner with our good friends, Kim and Huntleigh.  We have missed them dearly since their move to San Antonio 2 years ago, and it was good to catch up.


 
View from our room
 
In October, little man made the transition from his high chair to a booster seat at the big table.  He was using his high chair as a ladder so it was time to ditch it.

 
Our friends, the Karlsens, are moving to Norway for 3 years. We had a going away party for them at the Boessling's house.  We will miss them, but I'm sure 3 years will fly by! 


Kiddos
 
 Kids with their mommies
 
On one of the first "cool" days of fall my mom and I took the kids and our dogs to a dog park in Clear Lake.  I think Madeline and Andrew had more fun than the dogs did.




 
At the end of the month we carved/colored pumpkins...


 
We also had another successful Aggie tailgate with friends.  This time we made it to the Kids' Yell Practice, Spirit Walk AND the Corps March in!  The kids loved it all.  Major props to my friend Emily who knew every football player that walked by us.  Everyone else was like, "Where's Johnny?" Andrew LOVED the Corps march in.  He sat in my lap and took it all in.





Hopefully one day I'll have a picture of little man walking on campus as a college student. :)



 
We were able to catch Reveille while the Corps was momentarily standing still.  Madeline walked up to her, and her handler says to me, "Ma'am, we need to keep a perimeter around the dog.  Your daughter is fine where she is."  Oops.  And then she refused to smile.  Oh well.  We were able to see Miss Rev and that's what mattered.
 
And that's a wrap for September/October randomness!