Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas was good - where are the pictures?

The girls had an awesome Christmas. We made it through all the parties, activites, and performances. The weekend before we stayed in all weekend after having gone to the Nutcracker and Disney on Ice previously.

Christmas Eve we went to the Children's Mass at Green Hope High School. Grandpa Dave joined us this time. We had snacks at Grandma Sherry's and opened up gifts there on Christmas Eve. The girls' favorite gifts there were a microphone stand and a dance mat.

Santa visited us and must have thought the girls were super nice this year. Lily got her prized Rapunzel Tower (noting that the dolls were sold separately) along with Bendaroos. Madeleine was excited to get a real drum, the Rapunzel doll, and her favorite - popscicle sticks and Scotch tape. They got a few movies and a Mobigo game player.

And why no pictures up yet? Mommy got a Adobe Lightroom along with a new Speedlite for her camera. But I want to read the book before importing pictures. Who knows when I'll get around to it.

Around noon Christmas day we headed to Oak Ridge to visit Grandma and Poppy. The dolls that were sold separately appeared under their tree along with some Mobigo games, a sit and spin, and a hippity hop.

We spent a couple of snow-rific days there and were able to come home on Monday.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Santa Claus is coming to town

The girls were in their first school "play" on Friday night. Their daycare center does an annual Christmas play where all the kids sing songs along with reading the Night Before Christmas. They were excited about the songs, but they were also looking forward to new Christmas pajamas.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Don't Be Late

This weekend kicked of the usual round of pre-Christmas activities. For the first time we went to the Town of Cary's "Santa's Workshop" at the community center. The kids got to do all kinds of crafts that they were very excited about and visit with Santa.

On Sunday we decorated our tree, then the girls decided it was time for cookies. We did gingerbread men first. Last year they didn't eat gingerbread, but this year, they do.

They really got into the cutting out and decorating and made it through the hour and a half.

Of course there was some tasting involved.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Au revoir

With nothing left we really HAD to do Friday, we went to the Magic Kingdom. It was a lot more crowded than Monday and Thursday. We got autographs from Tiana and Prince Naveen and managed to catch Aladdin and Jasmine as well in the morning. Lily was scared of the boys and wouldn’t be in the pictures unless I was with her for some reason.

We walked back over by the castle and stood in the middle of the roundabout for the Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It parade. The cool part about this parade is that they invite you to come out and dance with them block party-style. The girls were all about getting their groove on, provided I was participating as well. It was much hotter Friday, and the girls were worn out from all the dancing. Two Disney employees approached us after the parade and gave the girls certificates and a stuffed Mickey and Minnie for being such good dancers in the parade. While they were excited to get stuffed animals, Madeleine was upset that Lily got Minnie.

From there the girls and I went to stand in line to see the Fairies while Eric picked up a Fast Pass for Buzz Lightyear again. This was the only time on our trip we used the Fast Pass service for a ride. The wait for the Fairies was close to 80 minutes, and I’m not sure why it takes that long. There are only 3 of them (just like there are 3 princesses), but for some reason it takes longer. We didn’t really visit any longer with them than we did with the princesses. Maybe some other families do.

We hopped on Buzz for another turn. This time the ride stopped often, so it was easy for Mommy to rack up 999,999 points.

We went to Casey’s for lunch on Main Street, and the girls wolfed down their hot dogs. After using up our last snack points on some ice cream, we headed back to the hotel for more swimming.

We went to Downtown Disney for dinner to use our last table service credits for dinner. We ate at Capt’n Jacks. The food was okay – same things as everywhere else, but the service was super slow. We had wanted to do some shopping at the World of Disney store thinking that many of the items we saw in the parks would be available there. Of course, they weren’t, so we ended up buying nothing there. The girls wanted to go back to the souvenir place at our hotel instead, so we ended up back there for t-shirts and such.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Magical Thursday

Warning - princess overload.

Thursday brought AM Magic Hours to the Magic Kingdom, so that was our destination for the day. I didn’t know that when planning our trip, but I’d also booked their makeover in the Bibbidi Bobiddi Boutique and lunch at Cinderella’s Castle for Thursday as well.

We started off in Tomorrowland and waited in line for the speedway. I rode with Madeleine. She was excited to drive, but got tired of hitting the rail in the middle and asked me to take over after about 5 minutes.

The girls loved the Mad Hatter teacups to my surprise. We rode the People Mover and checked out all the attractions, and we were inspired to try the Buzz Lightyear ride. Lily LOVED getting to shoot all the targets, and the girls were very excited by getting a score at the end. We skipped the Stitch 3D movie based on our previous 3D movie experiences. I wanted to catch the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, but it didn’t open until 10am, and our boutique appointment was at 10:30

Lily picked out Cinderella, and Madeleine surprised me with picking Jasmine. I’d been asking them for a while which princess they’d like to be. Lily had been consistent with Cinderella, and Madeleine was leaning toward Sleeping Beauty. They sat very still while their hair was styled, and were excellent in their photoshoot afterward.

We had a 1:15 reservation for lunch at Cinderella’s Table in the castle. It was pretty busy and fairly crowded. While you’re waiting to be announced, your party can have their picture taken with Cinderella. They bring this picture to your table during your lunch. The girls ordered the pizza while I had the vegetable cassoulet, and Eric the roast chicken. Ariel, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Belle all made appearances during the lunch and stopped by the table to visit. The girls were given magic wands and a wishing star.

We rode a few rides in all our gear – the Carousel, It’s a Small World, the Jungle Cruise. We tried to get Jasmine’s autograph in the afternoon but just kept missing her as they closed the line when it got too long for the time allotted.

We had dinner back at the hotel food court. Lily and Madeleine joined the staff for line dancing – the Macarena and Cha-Cha Slide specifically. They used their new light-up princess wands to guide us across the island during our walk back.

Neither girl wanted to sleep with her hair styled, so they had their first showers that night. I washed their hair 3 times each and figured that was enough to get out all the magic “potions.”

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hooray for Hollywood

Wednesday morning there were no AM Magic Hours, so we took our time in the morning and headed over to Hollywood Studios. Eric and I spent the least amount of time in this park in ’97, and it would be the same this year.

We got some character autographs right away and then headed to the back of the park to the Muppet 3D movie. Of course, we thought Lily would like this one since it had Muppets, but no luck. The girl just doesn’t like anything coming at her.

The Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground was awesome, and we could have spent all day there. Madeleine made friends with another girl, and they ran around together holding hands. Lily got mad because she didn’t have anyone to play with, and Madeleine didn’t want to do the same things as her.

We stood in line for Buzz and Woody for quite a while and looked out the window at the line for the Toy Story ride. It was 3D, so we opted to skip it this trip based on Lily’s current preferences. We tried to go see the Little Mermaid show, but they were experiencing technical difficulties and kept telling us to check back later. So we hoofed it over to watch the live Beauty and the Beast stage show, and the girls really liked that.

We grabbed some lunch and headed back to Ariel. No luck. So Mike and Sully from Monsters, Inc. were way in the back, so we stood in line to see them before exiting the park. All that was left we hadn’t done was the Indiana Jones show, and it was going to be another hour before the next one, so we just left to go swimming at the hotel again.

After swimming, we took the bus over to the Magic Kingdom and hopped the Monorail to the Polynesian for the Spirit of Aloha dinner show. I highly recommend it. It had a subtle “Lilo” theme, but not overpowering. Dinner was rolls, salad, pineapple, chicken, pork ribs, broccoli, and Hawaiian rice. The food was good, and they kept bringing beer/wine as long as you kept drinking it. The girls liked the roast chicken and broccoli, and while they didn’t like the taste of the chocolate mousse volcanos, they were amused by the concept. The venue was nice, and the show was entertaining. The only thing I was disappointed by was that they took our family picture beforehand and told us they’d be bringing a picture to our table, but I never got it. I saw them pass out pictures to other tables and would have liked one of all of us together in our leis.

We took the boat across the lagoon back to the Magic Kingdom and watched the Wishes fireworks while waiting for the bus back.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Tuesday was Magic Hours day at Epcot, so we headed there a little after the opening at 8. One thing I learned about the Magic Hours is that not everything is open that early, so you may just wander around for a while figuring out what is open.

We went into Spaceship Earth first. It took some time to convince Lily that it wasn’t going to be fast or scary. They enjoyed the trip through time and were able to place some of the historical scenes with what they’ve read about in the Magic Treehouse books.

After that we went over to the Energy exhibit with the dinosaurs. Again, Lily was scared. But the girls somehow survived the 45-minute presentation with minimal complaining. Then, what to do next? We schlepped the girls over to see the Living Seas – or where they have Nemo now. The girls enjoyed that ride and the “Talk with Crush” presentation afterwards. Then we hoofed it to the Imagination pavilion for the Figment ride and activities. Eric and I were very disappointed to see that there weren’t as many activities after the ride as there used to be when we were kids. It looks like part of the building had been replaced by the CaptainEO movie or something.

So, we dragged the kids to the World Showcase just long enough to have Fish and Chips for lunch in the “UK” and have a picture taken with Alice. So, we’d been there almost 5 hours and only had managed to do 5 different things. We knew we’d be back later, so we just headed back to the hotel.

It had warmed up from earlier in the week, so we took the girls over to the resort theme pool. They LOVED it. They must have played on the kiddie pirate ship by themselves for an hour. I was worried they’d not like getting splashed, but they actually ran into the water every time the large barrel emptied on them.

I brought their floatie suits, so in the big pool they could go down the real water slides, and Madeleine quickly wanted to do nothing else.

After a short nap, we headed back to Epcot for dinner in “Mexico” at the San Angel Inn. One of my favorite places to eat in the world, they girls enjoyed it as well. Madeleine had her fill of tortilla chips, and Lily scarfed down the chicken tacos despite being worried the fake volcano on the wall might erupt at any moment.

Then we headed out to walk the World Showcase. Between the Food & Wine Festival crowd and those wanting to see Hanson, it was pretty crowded. The girls found it pretty boring overall, but enjoyed the belly dancing in Morocco and coloring their Duffy bear in France. We parked for the Illuminations fireworks over in Canada, grabbed some popcorn and a beer, and watched the show.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Lowdown on the Bathroom Situation

Needless to say, I was pretty much the one in charge of taking the girls into all the restrooms while on vacation. I made sure I asked frequently and scheduled breaks when it was convenient for everyone. Kudos to Disney to having large, fairly clean restrooms that can be easily found.

However, I'm sure part of the reason the restrooms are so clean is the automatic flushers. Because of a few incidents two years ago at the RBC Center, my girls are terrified of auto-flush toilets. They are scared to death of what will happen if it flushes while they're on it. I know the trick of bringing post-its to cover the sensors, but of course, I failed to bring any on our trip.

What this led to is the three of us squished into a single bathroom stall. One girl on the toilet, the other in the far corner, and me leaning over the girl on the toilet with my finger on the sensor. Quite the sight. Then we'd all rotate positions when the next had to go.

I was tired of it after 4 days or so, so I created a new game. If the toilet flushed while you were on it, I'd buy the injured girl a toy from the closest available gift shop. I never ended up having to fulfill on this promise luckily.

By the end of the week, the girls quit asking, so hopefully this has cured them of the auto-flush fear. Until we take them to a Hurricanes game that is.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Monday morning it sure looks fine

On Monday we hit the Magic Kingdom – getting there right at the 9am opening. The girls wanted to see the castle first and foremost, so we headed up Main Street. Madeleine immediately wanted to go in the castle, so it was hard to explain to her that you don’t really go IN it. Luckily we’d made reservations for Cinderella’s Table later in the week so we would get to be inside it for a bit.

So, we hit the rides first: the carousel, Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Peter Pan, and It’s a Small World. All had really short lines, and we got right on. Then we had a snack and headed over to Mickey’s Toontown Fair. Lily’s favorite was Minnie’s house, and we stood in line quite a while to see Mickey and Minnie. The line for the princesses wasn’t very long, so we checked them out too. The only thing that wasn’t a big hit was the Barnstormer roller coaster. Madeleine liked it, but Lily yelled about getting off pretty much the whole time.

We had lunch at Tomorrowland, and Lily entertained the crowd with her hula hoop skills before heading over to Tom Sawyer Island. A huge favorite of mine, the girls really liked it too, especially the fort with the guns and cannons.

After checking out the Country Bear Jamboree, the girls had their Mickey ice cream-on-a-stick and caught the afternoon parade. We rode Pirates of the Caribbean before heading out for the day.

Back at the hotel, I made last-minute reservations at the hotel restaurant – Shutters. This was our first experience with meal plan “table service” dining, so we quickly learned not to eat at the resort restaurant. The girls didn’t eat at all, and our “dessert” was merely the prepackaged fast food cake put on a plate.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sunday - Animal Kingdom

Not only was this the girls' first trip to Animal Kingdom, it was ours. It hadn't opened yet when we visited in 1997. The first thing the girls wanted to do was buy stuffed animals. As we passed every gift shop and/or stand, we had to promise them we would visit them again before we left the park.
Our first "ride" was the bug presentation in the Tree of Life. This is where we learned that Lily HATES 3D Interactive movies. She does not like anything that jumps out at her or sprays her with water. She spent the entire show screaming "I want to go home."
Africa was better. On our way to the safari, we stopped to listen to a band of musicians. Madeleine learned the magic of the birthday button when they stopped to sing just to her and told her she was from "heaven."The petting zoo over at Rafiki's was another big hit. The girls could have spent all day brushing the goats.We skipped the walk through "Asia" to head to Dinoland USA. The girls did not want to ride the Dinosaur ride, but loved the play area and the excavation of the mammoth bones. Again, they would have spent all day there if we'd let them. We left the park around 3 and went back to the hotel for a late nap.
Dinner Sunday evening was at Bongos Cuban Cafe in Downtown Disney. Eric and I had eaten there in 1997 and had fond memories. The dinner was just as good this time around, but neither girl was particularly interested in their hamburger or nuggets. We learned that to go to Bongos we should have gotten off at the SECOND Downtown Disney Bus Stop rather than walking all the way in the cold. We also learned that there is no direct bus from Downtown Disney to the parks.
We tried to get from Downtown Disney to watch the Epcot fireworks at 9pm. Their best advice was to take a bus to a resort close to Epcot and then try and catch an Epcot bus there. They suggested Old Key West or Port Orleans. We picked Port Orleans and sat there in the dark FOREVER before a bus picked us up and drove through the whole resort.
We made it to Epcot around 8:45 but couldn't find the one way in that was still open. We found it about 5 minutes til 9 and ran with the girls on our shoulders in the park. We caught the show but couldn't see any of the fountains or lights on the lake. Lesson learned later in the week - we could have seen just as much from the parking lot at the Carribean Beach.

A Disney adventure years in the making

I'll sum up our trip in a number of posts - but we recently came back from a 7 day trip to Disney. We had a great time, and it was the *perfect* time to bring the girls. One of the reasons it was so perfect was that they had no real expectations of what "Disney" meant. They'd heard some of their friends talk about it and a few pictures on Facebook, but that was pretty much it.
So we decided to keep it a surprise as much as possible. We told them they were going to Florida, but being five years-old, they didn't know that Disney was in Florida. Of course, some people asked them about Disney, so they kind of had a suspicion.
We put these name tags on them for the trip. I couldn't write out "Disney" because that's one of the 4 words they can read.

We got a lot of smiles in the airport because of them. The girls did ask about them, and I told them it was Mommy's information in case they got lost.
Finally, in the Orlando airport, Madeleine told us that she'd heard Disney World was in Florida at school. So, if it wasn't a problem, could we stop by while we were there? So, we told them in the shuttle train that we'd be spending the whole time at Disney and doing nothing else. They were excited, but not shrieking up and down excited.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

5 Year Stats

Lily - 43 1/4" tall, 36.5 lbs
Madeleine - 43" tall, 41 lbs.

Both girls are in the 50-60th percentiles for height. Madeleine matches on weight, and Lily's in the 25th. Crazy girl. I attribute the extra 1/4" to eating vegetables without a fight.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Last assignment - kids at play


Madeleine and neighbor Abby decorate the sidewalk. I was lying on the ground getting all nice and dirty.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Little models

A few weeks ago my friend Laura asked for help with her photography. Her twin boys are four years-old and are not particularly interested in cooperating with their mama's photography skills at this point. Since the girls are pretty good through all my silliness, I volunteered us and got some awesome shots. I was worried the girls would be all photo'd out with everything going on this month, but I shouldn't have worried.

I can't wait to get some of these on the wall.