Friday, May 31, 2013

Ellie: 10 months old

Dear Ellie,

On May 16, we celebrated ten wonderful months with you!  And this picture was about the best I could do: 
Because you are a girl on the go, and you aren't interested in having your picture taken, and you are interested in paper only if you can crumple it up and then tear it to pieces and put it in your mouth.  Here is only a little of what happened:
You are, indeed, my spunky little monkey!  You make me laugh on a daily basis.  You make us all laugh!  It's been ten months with you . . . seems like only yesterday . . . and yet I can hardly remember what life was like without you.

Ten months was off to a rough start.  You had another ear infection.  So back to the doctor we went for more antibiotics.  I also realized this is probably part of the reason naptime is difficult, and nighttime ends earlier than it should.  I've learned that you actually nap really well when your ears aren't bothering you.  And I think you would actually sleep through the entire night if your ears weren't bothering you.  But that's okay.  We'll figure it out.

And speaking of sleeping . . . your new thing is sleeping on your stomach with your arms and legs tucked under you.  As soon as I put you down in your crib, that's the position you go to.  And that's usually how I find you when you wake up.  Your head is always in the corner of the crib.
At ten months old, you wear a size three diaper and size nine to twelve months clothes.  You barely tip the scale at 16 pounds.  Everyone always comments how "little" you are, but you are my big baby girl now.  You're growing taller, and those fat rolls that were once at the tops of your thighs aren't as fat anymore.  Your hair is growing out a lot now.  It's a cotton-top so you can barely see it.  And it looks like your hair is going to be straight.  That surprises me because both your brother and especially your sister have a lot of wave and curl in their hair.  But yours doesn't seem to curl, not even in the south Louisiana humidity.

You still love to eat.  I tried table food a few times, but you weren't a fan.  You prefer the smooth texture of your baby food.  Your favorites continue to be butternut squash, carrots, spinach, corn and any and all fruits.  You also really enjoy your finger food snacks.  And . . . guess what?!?  You are STILL nursing!  That's not really a milestone for you so much as it is for me!  There are times, though, when I have to give you a bottle, and I do think you prefer that because you can sit up and see everyone and everything.  You don't want to miss anything.  We've spent many nights at the ballpark lately watching Mason play baseball.  Here you are all kicked back in your big girl stroller and enjoying your bottle.
And you still don't have any teeth yet!  I just love your gummy smile.  But all of your little friends your age have four or five teeth.  Of course, they all weigh 22 pounds, too, as compared to your 16!  But I think you are absolutely perfect!

During the last week of your tenth month, you started pulling up A LOT.  You haven't shown any interest in walking yet, but you do enjoy standing up like a big girl.  One of your favorite things to do is to stand up and look out the window.
And, of course, you also took your first trip to Disney World!  Now, I know you won't remember it, but I promise we're going to take you back when you get older.  You were such a good girl!  You did great riding in the truck, even on the 14-hour trip back home when we didn't stop over night.  You really do love to ride, especially since you can see Hannah Kate sitting beside you and Mason in front of you (since you are facing backwards, and he is sitting in the third row).  You absolutely loved strolling all around the Disney parks.  You even got to ride a few of the rides.  You loved the sights and sounds, especially the music and the pagentry of the parades.  And then you would get tired and take a nap.  I was so proud of you!
Hannah Kate picked out this Minnie Mouse stuffed toy for you as a souvenir of our trip.  And, of course, we got you the 2013 Disney onesie, too.
Even with all the fun we had this month, my most favorite moment with you was when you called me Ma-Ma!  Yes, you did!  It was the Monday morning (April 22) we were at Disney.  We were in the hotel room getting ready to go, and I was making sure everyone was dressed with teeth brushed and sunscreen on.  You toddled around and followed me everywhere I went.  I guess I wasn't paying you enough attention because you finally yelled, "Ma-Ma!"  Everyone heard it, and everyone knew exactly what you were saying.  We all stopped for a minute, and Mason said, "Ellie just said Mama!"  And, oh how my heard melted!  I stopped what I was doing and scooped you up into my arms for a big hug.  The same thing happened the next morning, and you've called out to me several times since.  At times I have found myself a bit sad at how quickly you are growing up and how very soon you will no longer be a baby.  But I can honestly say that during this month, I found true joy at watching you grow up, and I am so excited to watch you learn and explore your world.

I love you SO BIG!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Disney Day 5: Pure Magic!

Alas.  It was our last day at Disney.  And I wanted to make the most of it.  So I woke everyone up early so we could go to the Magic Kingdom and spend the entire day and most of the night there.  That didn't quite work out the way I'd planned.

We ate our Mickey waffles for breakfast and then headed to "the Kingdom."  No one was more excited (okay, so maybe I was!) than Hannah Kate because this was the day we were going to visit the Princesses.  Now, of course, Mason had no interest in that and decided he was much too cool for any kind of character meet and greets by this point.  So us girls stuck together while Mason and Daddy went off to do some "man" things.

We met up several times during the day, including the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade. 
The line to meet the Disney Storybook Princesses was always 1-2 hours long.  So we got a fast pass for that so we could come back later in the day without having to stand in that long line.  In the meantime, we met Mary Poppins.  She was, after all, "practically perfect in every way!" 
Ah yes . . . the foliage figures were not just at Epcot.  We had to stop so Hannah Kate could have her picture made with Alice.
And then we met Mickey Mouse.  Now, I'll be honest.  I didn't expect Hannah Kate to be as excited about meeting Mickey as . . . say . . . Cinderella.  But she could hardly contain herself!  She was just beside herself as soon as we walked into that room, and she saw him.  When it was her turn, she walked up to him and gave him a big ole hug.  And I thought she was never going to let go!  She was all smiles.
And then we met some of the princesses.  And they were just as you would imagine a princess to be!  I couldn't believe it, but Hannah Kate was a little shy with Cinderella.  Oh, and she insisted on wearing those sparkley mouse ears for her pictures with the princesses.
And then we met Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty . . . most may call her Aurora, but Hannah Kate has always called her Briar Rose).  She took so much time with Hannah Kate.  I have no idea what they talked about, but she just kept on talking!  Hannah Kate, on the other hand, was just frozen there with a smile plastered on her face, trying to make sure that Mommy WAS NOT missing this. 

And then we met Rapunzel, who was just the most delightful little thing.  If Hannah Kate smiles any harder, she's going to pop a blood vessel!
And this sweet baby just enjoyed strolling around all day and taking in the sights and sounds of Disney!
It's so hard to resist all of the themed sweets and treats.  They enjoyed Mickey suckers during the afternoon parade.
After the parade, we all went to watch Mickey's PhilharMagic.  It was a really cute 3-D movie.
And then we split up again so Mason could go do more "man" things . . . which meant he rode his favorite ride, Splash Mountain, at least 6 times and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad 4 times!
Hannah Kate then had the pleasure of meeting Ariel in her grotto.
As Hannah Kate, Ellie and I continued to walk around and explore the park and meet princesses, all I could do was soak it all up.  I'd been to Disney before but not like this.  Experiencing Disney through my kids' eyes was an unforgettable experience.  After having been with them, I can't imagine going back to Disney without them.  I wouldn't want to.
And then we visited Enchanted Tales with Belle.  It was one of my favorites!  The children were picked to play the parts of different characters in Beauty and the Beast.  They got to act out their part with Belle.  Hannah Kate was chosen to be Chip, and she was so excited!  These pictures are not the best because I had to park the stroller so a squirmy, tired baby was in my lap, the lighting was poor and I didn't have the best angle for pictures.  But you get the idea.
And, really, yall . . . Mason had a blast at the Magic Kingdom, too!  I just don't have as many pictures of him because you can only take so many pictures of Splash Mountain!  But here he is outisde of Pirates of the Caribbean, which he also really enjoyed. 
Slowly, the sun begin to set on our Disney vacation.  It had been a really warm day, and the crowd was getting bigger.  We were tired.  We were all tired.  But it was our last day, and I was trying to make everyone push through it.  We'd planned to stay for the nightime Electrical Parade and the Wishes fireworks show.  I was MOST EXCITED about seeing Tinkerbell come flying around the front of the castle and couldn't wait to see Hannah Kate's reaction.  But it was not to be.

Mason was very tired and hot.  He kept rubbing his eyes, and the sunscreen eventually began to irritate his eyes.  He'd gotten bitten on the underside of his arm by an insect the day we were at Animal Kingdom, and he had scratched it so much that it was obviously infected and had created a huge red welp on his arm.  Things were quickly going downhill.  We found a cool, shady spot to sit down for supper and take a little break.  And then we were headed to grab a spot for the nighttime parade, but Mason was ready to go.  He was most pitiful.  I knew he did not feel good. 

I actually ended up taking him to First Aid because I thought he felt of a fever, and, sure enough, he did have a temperature.  So they gave him some medicine and even some cream for the insect bite on his arm.  I was hoping that would do.  We had only 2 hours to go.  But, again, he was done.  He wanted to go.  And I . . . well, I really wanted to throw myself down on the concrete in the middle of Main Street and kick and scream like I'd seen a little 5-year-old doing earlier in the day (literally) while her grandfather just stared helplessly motionless.  Yes.  I wanted to throw a fit.  We'd come all this way, been at Disney for five glorious days, and I'd saved the best for last.  I. wanted. to. see. Tinkerbell. fly. around. that. castle!

We found a spot in the midst of what had become a very thick crowd to watch the nighttime parade.  And it was an awesome parade.  We had an hour left before the fireworks.  As much as I wanted to make Mason stay . . . just suck it up and stay . . . I couldn't do that.  So we left.  Yes, you read that correctly.  We left an hour shy of the fireworks over Cinderella's castle.  Didn't see it.  Missed it.  Now, granted, the children have no idea what they "missed" because they'd never seen it before.  And I begged.  Oh, how I begged!  "Oh, please, don't you just want to stay and watch the fireworks?!  These are going to be the best ones ever.  You love fireworks!"  Even Hannah Kate was too tired to play along with me.  I wanted to cry.

In retrospect, I should've either let everyone sleep late and rest.  Or we should've gone back to the hotel for awhile in the afternoon to get some rest and then returned for the nighttime festivities.  But that just means that now we absolutely HAVE to go back so we can see the fireworks and Tinkerbell fly around the castle!  I'd said we'd wait until Ellie was five or six years old before going back so it would be a trip she would actually remember (it's not like Disney is cheap, you know!), but I don't know if I can wait that long!

And, by the way, Mason was absolutely fine the next day!  The fever was gone, and the insect bite looked much better.  He was also quite chipper during the 14-hour drive home!

Here were are at the end of the day on the last day of our trip . . . all looking a little worn, yes . . . but having the time of our lives!  

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Disney Day 4: Magic Kingdom

When I planned our trip to Disney, I "saved the best for last."  I knew the other parks would pale somewhat in comparison to the Magic Kingdom so not only did we visit that park last but we also spent two days there.

Hannah Kate was THRILLED.  I'd been telling her all week that we were going to visit Cinderella's castle at the Magic Kingdom.  So she woke up this morning and said, "Mama, I know where we're going today.  We're going to THE KINGDOM!"  She was so cute!  She also insisted on wearing the sequined Minnie ears she'd purchased the night before at the Disney Store.  She'd had her eye on them for a few days, but we made her wait until she saw everything else before making the final decision on what to buy.  And, of course, she never changed her mind about these Minnie ears.  And, just for good measure, they have a tulle veil in the back.  So here she is on the tram just a little bit excited about going to the kingdom!
I have to admit.  Mason was skeptical about the kingdom.  This picture says it all.  You're greeted by Cinderella's castle and all manner of princesses and Disney characters.  Those are not necessarily the things an almost 8-year-old boy is going to be interested in.
But as we made our way around the park, Mason quickly changed his mind.  He discovered Splash Mountain, and it was all over with.  That's all he wanted to do.  He also really enjoyed the Thunder Mountain Railroad.  I rode Space Mountain with him since it was an enclosed roller coaster in the dark, meaning Seth couldn't stomach it.  Mason decided that roller coasters in the dark just aren't for him so we only rode it once.  We also rode The Magic Carpets of Aladdin, the Jungle Cruise, It's a Small World and Under the Sea - The Journey of the Little Mermaid.  Seth, Mason and Hannah Kate also rode Pirates of the Caribbean and the Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin.  We saw the parade, the street party and Mickey's PhilharMagic 3-D show.

As the afternoon wore on, it was apparant that the littles were getting really tired.  And they were getting a little bit grumpy.  And I was also having a nearly catastrophic situation with my camera.  I'd been having problems with my charger so I made sure the battery was fully charged at the beginning of our trip.  I thought it would last me the whole time.  But I took so many pictures during the first three days that my battery was now dead.  So I have very few pictures from this day at Disney.  We decided to leave the park "early," which really wasn't early at all because we got back to the hotel at the same late hour as the other nights, to run to Best Buy and get a new charger for my camera battery and let the children go to bed.  We planned to arrive at the park when it opened the next day and then stay until it closed.  The good news is I found a charger for my camera battery so we have lots of pictures from the next day.  The not-so-good news is that by the time the night parade and fireworks rolled around that next night, we had to make a trip to First Aid with Mason because he began running a fever and was pretty much done.  So my plan to leave "early" today so we could stay "late" tomorrow for the night parade and fireworks didn't quite work out as I'd planned. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Disney Day 3: Animal Kingdom

What better way to start out the morning than with a Mickey waffle?  On this morning in particular, we got the four little Mickeys instead of the one big Mickey.  It was easier to divide in half for Mason and Hannah Kate since neither could eat a whole waffle.
And then we headed to Animal Kingdom.  I was really looking forward to this park because this was the only one I'd never been to.  I'd also heard it would be a little more relaxing and low-key than the others, which sounded good since this was halfway through our trip.  It really is a beautiful park!  We enjoyed it, but it didn't hold the kids' attention quite as much as the other parks, and I guess that is understandable.
The first thing we did was take the Kilimanjaro Safari Expedition.  It was a really neat trip through an unbelievable African habitat with all kinds of wildlife and neat vegetation.
 We continued to explore the park and its hidden trails around the Tree of Life.  We walked the Pangani Forest Exploration trail and rode the Wildlife Express Train to Raficki's Planet Watch.  Here we are with the Tree of Life in the background.
 Our most favorite thing at Animal Kingdom (children and husband included!) was the Festival of the Lion King theatrical show.  Oh my . . . the music and the singing and the costumes and the pagentry . . . it was stunning!  Mason and Hannah Kate didn't move the entire time.
Way off in the distance, you can see Expedition Everest.
We found a shady spot to watch the Mickey's Jammin' Jungle Parade.  I've always been a sucker for parades (now is probably not to mention that I've lived in Louisiana since 2000 (minus the two years we lived in Mississippi), and I've NEVER been to a Mardi Gras parade!).  I LOVED the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade as a child, and I still do.  Anyway, I absolutely loved this parade! 
This is one of my most favorite pictures.  You can see Mason at the bottom waving up at Goofy.  Watching my childrens' reactions to all of the pagentry and sights and sounds and rides, experiencing Disney World through their eyes . . . was absolutely AMAZING!  The looks on their faces each time Hannah Kate saw a princess or Mason spotted a roller coaster . . . unforgettable.
After the parade, we were hot and wanted to cool off a bit.  So Seth and Mason rode the Kali River Rapids.  I was hoping they'd get stuck under a waterfall, but they didn't.  They came out only a little damp.
And while Daddy and Mason were riding the rapids, Hannah Kate enjoyed a Mickey on a stick!
And all of the excitement was obviously too much for Ellie.  She fell asleep and took a nap.
And after the rapids, Mason had to have a Mickey on a stick, too.
We continued making our way around the park, coming ever closer to this monstrocity.
This is Expedition Everest.  I really wasn't too worried.  There was no way I was going to ride it.  And I figured Seth wouldn't ride it.  He was still recovering from the Star Wars simulation from two days earlier.  And I figured Mason wouldn't want to ride it either.  Well.  I was wrong.  Seth wanted to ride it because he "finally felt normal again."  And Mason wanted to ride it, too.  So they did.  And I held my breath the entire time until I saw their sweet faces again.  Seth said it was fine until the roller coaster stopped, and up ahead the track was mangled and twisted and broken.  At that point, Mason might've flipped out a bit.  So that's when they started going backwards, and Seth nearly lost his lunch.
We spent the rest of the day, which wasn't much since this park closes the earliest of them all, in DinoLand.  It's really a kiddie theme park with a few carnival-type rides.  One our way out we watched "It's Tough to be a Bug!," which was a really cute 3-D show.  As we were walking through the parking lot, my heart was really full.
We then spent the rest of the evening at Downtown Disney.  The kids visited the Lego store and the Disney store.
I had a hard time falling asleep.  I knew what we had to look forward to the next day.  We'd been at Disney World for three days, but the fun had really only just begun.  I was ready, more than ready, to see the castle and meet a few princesses!