Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas! Here is our THANKSGIVING post~

To continue Isabella's birthday celebration.... we treated her to a character breakfast at Disney!  Every other year, we head to Florida for Thanksgiving.  Two years ago while there - dad and Charlie watched Isabella while we took Mercer to Universal Studios.  Two years before that (before Isabella), we took Mercer to the newly-opened Lego Land.  This year, we tackled Disney.

People plan out multi-day excursions to explore Disney.  It all seems overwhelming (and extremely expensive)... so we planned one day "around" the park + one day in the park.  Our first day around the park started with the character breakfast.  Isabella got a "It's my Birthday" pin to wear and was presented with a cupcake while the staff sang Happy Birthday to her.  The best part, however, was seeing Minnie, Goofy, and Donald.  BOTH kids were so excited anytime that one of the characters walked by.  The cool thing about the character events.... they will stop by your table and hug on the kids / pose for pictures / etc.  It was a nice way to wrap up her birthday celebration last month.

After Isabella's nap, we went to Downtown Disney (now called "Disney Springs").  We wandered the shops -- spending the majority of our time in the LEGO store.  Afterwards, we watched a comedy show and "dance-off."  It was really fun to see Mercer getting into the entertainment.    Mercer has an awesome, hearty laugh... it was awesome to hear him bellowing so much!

The next morning, we headed to Disney's Magic Kingdom.... our first visit.  (We each got a "1st visit" button to wear.)  A mom-blog suggested making an appointment for a kid's haircut as soon as you get into the park.  We tried it out and were able to pretty much walk in with minimal wait.  Isabella had her first haircut...  AT Magic Kingdom!! 

She did well (thanks to a bunch of stickers placed all over her and a spinning doll they loaned her). Her haircut was finished off with glitter treatment + Mickey ears!  Once that was all done, we figured out the fast-pass / charted out a path to make it to certain parts (little kid parts) of the park.   We rode It's a Small World. 

Before the ride, however, Isabella wasn't acting like she felt well (you can sort of seeing her sad face in these photos).  She just wanted to be held and wanted to go to sleep.  What?!  We're at Disney!  No time for sleep......wake up - we're going on rides!  But, after the ride we realized why she was acting this way. She threw up.  No fever.  No anything else.  There was a major lack of energy for our very energetic girl.

We tried to take it easy.  But, she did it again.  <<  OK - this was bad.  What to do?  Take her back to the hotel... and one of us stay with Mercer who was having a blast??   >>   As mentioned, she only wanted to be held... to sleep on one of us.  We kept debating what to do while we kept watch.  We could either hold her at the park or hold her at the hotel.  This is how we spent the majority of our time at the park... holding a sad, lethargic little girl.

Mercer, on the other hand, was soooo happy.  He really had a blast at the park.   He knows that there are people inside of the characters -- however -- we were on Huck Finn's Island and he saw the parade and he HAD to get off the island / chase down Mickey!  We were behind thousands of people, but we snaked in and out of people and made it to the dance party at the end of the parade.  Whew.  

We rode a handful other rides including the one that was highly recommended to us:  Peter Pan.  it was a pretty easy-going ride where you're hanging in these cars running along a track in the ceiling.  the premise is that you're flying above the towns and vignettes stationed throughout.  One of the *best* lines of the day:  Mercer said "this is what I'm writing about on Monday!  This right now!"

LOVE LOVE LOVE!  As mentioned - he was so happy that day.  And - what he was referring to:  he has a writing assignment on Monday's at school -- he writes about what he did over the weekend.  It made my heart so happy that the moment he was flying in the Peter Pan ride is what he wanted to write about!

We wrapped up our visit with the light show on the castle, the electric parade down Main Street, and a fireworks show.  All the while baby girl was comfortably resting in our arms... while her big brother was absolutely amazed and mesmerized by the "magic" of Disney.   He was the exact right age to go.  It was a great trip for him.  (We'll have to do a re-do some time for Isabella!) 

Overnight, Isabella had a high fever and kept crying out for us.  We monitored her and let her sleep.  When she woke up (very late) ... she was 100% back to normal.  Who knows?!  Instead of going to our next destination, we laid low and watched her / worked on her recovery.  The next day was Thanksgiving.  We went to visit family... feeling "OK" about her not being too sick or contagious.  

There was - of course - too much food... lots of sweets... football... and lots of family.  Isabella's favorite thing there, however, was the dog.  She loves that thing!  Mercer does too, actually.  We had a couple of smaller visits with dad, Charlie and Kinsey (the dog) before Thanksgiving as well.  Unfortunately, we did not get photos?!! ?!!  

After Thanksgiving, we resumed our "after Disney" plans.  We drove a couple hours south to Sarasota to visit 2 different children's playgrounds that sounded amazing.  They were!  The first was a home-grown kid's venue.... sort of hippie-ish.  Very organically formed.  Very free-range child.  Lots of ways to use your imagination.  They had so much fun.  We had to drag them away to go to the highly publicized playground @ the Ringling.  

The playground equipment is very architectural and geometric.  It was pretty cool.  There were also Banyan trees that were situated around the Ringling site and were off-limits.... except the one near the playground.   The grounds were gorgeous.  The Ringling home - amazing.  I imagine we'll be going back one day - when the kids are older?  There's a museum on the property which is supposed to be pretty spectacular.   

We were so close to the beach that we had to drive over and dip our toes into the water.   Isabella was sacked out / we did not want to wake her up.  So, only the 3 of us dipped our filthy feet (thanks to the playground) in the water!  

Even though it was close to 80 degrees, the water was cold - there was hardly anyone in the water, but lots of people sunbathing.     

We dipped and ran just so we could say we reached the shore.  

Despite the illness at Disney and the laying-low the next day.... we had a nice time meeting Disney characters, riding rides, visiting with family (part of the Florida family pictured below), playing outside, and popping over to the ocean.

This is such an incredibly busy time of year in general... but especially for teaching if I - the over-zealous teacher - assigns a research paper for the students that's due the day before Thanksgiving break.  

Last year, I had 40 something students and we did not travel for Thanksgiving.  I was grading a lot over break, however, papers were done at a reasonable time.    This year, I had 50 something students and we DID travel... so - I've been grading research papers at every chance I could snag and finished after the semester ended this December!  THEN I was able to move onto Christmas shopping, cards, etc.  

(Amazingly, somehow, everything got done!)

The next post will update some teaching-related stuff and some Christmas stuff too~
Merry Christmas to you and yours.....

But - before wrapping up, have to share the SWEETEST thing that Mercer did for me for my birthday:  he went to his piggy bank, pulled out 2 dollar bills and put them in a card for me - saying that I could spend it however I wanted to and that I could buy anything I want.   I - of course - have not spent those 2 special bills..... they are stashed away in a memory box.  But - had to share and document for the blog (so I can remind him of how sweet he is~)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Halloween and Isabella's birthday

ANOTHER long post.... coming up:

Isabella has been on this "Pirate Fairy" kick.  She wants to watch it over and over and over again.  So - when contemplating Halloween costumes - we thought:  of course... we'll get her a little Pirate outfit and put wings on it.  She's rough-and-tumble.  A pirate costume seemed perfect.  Unfortunately, that was a fail.  She wanted nothing to do with it, crying and kicking and screaming when we put it on her.  We tried several times, then took it back.  Plan B... try a fairy (Tinkerbell) costume.  As soon as she saw it, she absolutely beamed.  It was the "right" costume for her.  whew - she's rough-and-tumble, but also has a girly-girl side to her (and STRONG opinions!)

Mercer wanted to be Scooby Doo.  (We found a vampire Scooby costume for him.)  After our neighborhood party, Todd took the kids door-to-door while I rushed back to hand out candy.  He said at first, Isabella was seriously shy and would not say trick-or-treat.... but after watching Mercer saying it a few times and get candy, she was all over it.  She almost screamed trick-or-treat at people she was so excited! Afterwards, we went to a neighbor's bonfire and the kids played for a few hours -- running, chasing, laying on a giant fluffy white dog, and eating candy until midnight.

We had some fun with Halloween-inspired breakfast and lunch (spider shaped muffins, the famous "finger cookies" and monster face pizza) too.  Isabella seriously enjoyed eating the black-cat cookie that grandma from Florida sent her.  Check out these gooey black saliva pics.  (I'll spare you images of the blue-green poop that she had the following 3 days!)

Mercer earned ANOTHER "Mercer Fun Day" for having good behavior at school.  We are seriously proud of him.  He chose to go to a place called Catch Air.  We popped in for a couple of hours the day after Halloween.  It felt like there were a MILLION Halloween-candied-up-kids there.  It was a zoo... quite overwhelming for me.  Isabella and Mercer loved it, however.  It was the perfect thing to do on a rainy Sunday afternoon!  As seen in the photos, lots of fun was had by the two of them!!

You may notice Mercer's new haircut that he got right before we went to Catch Air.  I almost cried when I saw all of the curls laying on the floor, but he really likes it.  I hope one day that he allows those beautiful curls to come back~

Isabella turned 3 on the 13th. Rose Marie came to town for a visit to help celebrate.  We went out to dinner at our neighborhood Mexican restaurant.  Isabella loved the attention of the Happy Birthday song being sung to her, the plate of sopaipillas they gave her, and getting to wear the sombrero!  

I have to add... Mercer purchased a book and plush owl from his school book club with his own money for her birthday.  What a sweet sweet brother!!

While Rose Marie was in town, she was able to partake in our neighborhood art event.  Here, the kids are completing a watercolor painting over pastel in one booth.  The inspiring "Nerdy Baby" creator was in another tent with hands-on kids stuff too.   Artwork, multiple bands, and food vendors were there as well.  We spent the majority of our time in the kids areas, though.

The next day, we hosted a little birthday party for Isabella at the house.  This year's inspiration:  those frozen ice cream cakes shaped like a Hello Kitty head.  We've never purchased an ice cream cake, so why not?  When Mercer turned 3, we had a play-doh party. That one writes itself.  You bring out pots of play-doh and a table full of tools / cutters / presses / etc... and the kids are entertained for the duration of the party.  

For Hello Kitty, we had to come up with a few things for the kids to do such as make-your-own pizza, creating a birthday cake craft with cut-outs and pin-the-bow on the Kitty.  Mostly, the kids just wanted to play in Isabella's room and play with toys.  All-in-all, that was enough for them to do! 

There's a photo in here with Rose Marie and I heartily laughing.  Mercer asked to take our picture and then surprised us by something he did as he was snapping the photo.  Only we will know what that was....  :) 

On Monday before Rose Marie flew out, we stopped by Isabella's school to take some birthday snacks (the ONLY thing she asked for was cheetos -- which I think they give her at school on a regular basis).  We then visited Mercer for lunch at his school.  It was a whirlwind visit, as usual... no rest - Rose Marie was exhausted when she left, but happy to have spent a lot of time with the kids~

She is a great joy to have in our lives.  She completes our little family unit. But - whew - what a fire-cracker she is!!!  She has an ENDLESS array of faces that she makes.  "Scary face"  "happy face"  "flirty face"  "big and strong"  "shy"  and this thing that she does by pulling her lower eyelids down or where she contorts her mouth.   She giggles endlessly anytime she accidentally burps or toots.

Here are some of the cute things she says: 
"I'll bebe right back" (instead of I'll be right back).
"alligator" instead of elevator
"macamole" instead of guacamole

"are you frustrated?"  - nothing cute about that.. she just knows that bif word for some reason~  hmmm...
"you're my best friend" when she's happy with you.  
"you're not coming to my birthday party" when she's not happy with you.
and - when you get invited back - you're OK in her book!

She LOVES LOVES LOVES to sing.  My most recent favorite:  "I love you in the morning and in the afternoon.  I love you in the evening and underneath the moon."  Also her rendition of "God Bless America" where she mostly knows the words, but actually hits those really high notes in her shrill little voice!!  

All of this sweetness is balanced out by this demanding, bossy little girl. She is VERY strong willed.  Several people have mentioned that this will serve her well when she's older / running her own business one day.  And - in the same breath - wish us good luck as we're dealing with the toddler version of this trait.  Even the pediatrician has mentioned how active and bossy she is at her last couple of well visits.  She has said that "your children are exhausting" before. On this most recent visit, she also wished me luck and threw in a "hang in there" as I was leaving.  

Isabella's 3 year stats from last week's well visit with the doctor:
Height:  ___  - 38%
Weight:  ___ -  37%

(Here's a photo of her with the doll that Mercer gave her the first day he met her.  Go back to the blog for November of 2012 if you want to see the difference between then and now!)  

She is healthy and happy.  She brings us so much joy.  We are thrilled to have this spunky little girl in our lives!