Sunday, April 28, 2013

Disney World with 2.5 Kids in 2.5 Days! part II

On our second full day we went to Animal Kingdom.  We lasted from 9:00-5:00 and Jack found this park just as captivating as Magic Kingdom. 

Jack's favorite ride was the Kali River Rapids which we went on twice.  Big Papa's favorite part of the trip was watching Jack giggle every time someone got wet.  My favorite part of the trip was leaving the ride the second time and hearing someone in the other line, say "Wowww, look at that guy" and pointing to Jacob, who was drenched and not loving it - hahaha!

I second guessed myself taking Jack on the scary/realistic dinosaur ride at Animal Kingdom.  He was sitting beside me and as we jerked around in the dark with realistic dinosaurs looming at us and loud, panicky voices directing us away from an incoming asteroid, I kept squeezing his arm, saying "It's just pretend; it's just pretend."  I couldn't see his face in the dark, but he seemed perfectly fine afterward.  Still, this would be the one ride I think we shouldn't have taken him on.  Too realistic.

Cora spent her time between the Ergo carrier, in loving arms, or in the stroller.  She was very friendly, waving and saying "hi" a lot, and, overall, was a trooper.  She fell asleep pretty easily but also woke pretty easily, so she didn't get the greatest naps and was starting to get fussy the second day.  Luckily we had lots of help.

Take away #5: Make sure you have a very favorable adult: child ratio.  Ours was 3:1 adults: in the flesh children (just to be extra clear, the half child is my sister's baby boy, due in July!)  

This was just plain AWESOME.  And with Grammy not wanting to get her hair wet and Aunt Kristen unable to ride roller coasters, it also meant that Jacob and I got to experience most rides with Jack, while Cora was being loved on by others.

I also found nursing Cora to be extremely easy at Disney.  Rather than sit in the heat and nurse or ask everyone to wait while I fed her, I would nurse her as we rode on calm rides (i.e. Peter Pan's Flight) or on rides where we were supposed to be quiet and she was not (i.e. The Carousel of Progress) :) 

We explored our hotel the last night and then Grammy and Big Papa took over kid duties, while the siblings went out to dinner.  Our hotel was exceptionally kid friendly so the final morning was spent at the hotel pool and playground.

Our adult: child ratio had dropped to 3:2 at this point since my parents and Kristen had left earlier in the day, so Jacob and I took big kid Chris and little kid Jack to Downtown Disney to the LEGO store.

Takeaway #6: Don't enter the ultimate toy store without a game plan. 

Jack immediately zeroed in on the elaborate fire LEGO kits and we had to negotiate him down to the paltry $10 and $7 boxes.  Big kid Uncle Chris was rationale enough to say no to the $400 Star Wars LEGOs that he wanted :)

And, as all vacations do, ours then had to end.  We said good-bye to our last adult companion/baby-holder/child-entertainer and went through security alone (or as alone as one can feel with two small children, a stroller, a baby carrier, a bookbag and two carry-ons since Jacob Landry doesn't check bags.)  Our over-tired children did NOT sleep on the flight home as is the habit of over-tired children.  Jack was actually entirely docile, whereas Cora alternated between big flirt (smiling and waving) and tired baby (screaming).

Jack was excited to see his stuffed animal, "Regular Monkey," waiting for him in the car and Cora also seemed happy to see her comfy carseat.  (She fell asleep 5 minutes from home.)  We then enjoyed a dinner of oatmeal, since that was the only food we had in the house, and got ready to go back to real life!

But Disney World, I hope to be back!  You were a fun excuse for carefree time with my family!  Thank you to my parents for this trip - it was an awesome memory for all!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Disney World with 2.5 Kids in 2.5 Days - part I

After hearing comments like "You will need a vacation to recover from a Disney vacation" and knowing that just because something IS wonderful and fun does not mean that a 3 year old will ACT as you think appropriate for said fun/wonderful thing, I was excited, but not exactly sure what to expect out of a Disney vacation.

Well I learned a lot last weekend, Disney and non-Disney lessons, and am happy to share!

Jacob, Jack, Cora and I joined my parents, big kid Uncle Chris, and pregnant Aunt Kristen last Friday in Orlando.  (CPA Uncle William had to miss this mid-April trip.) My dad and Kristen had just completed their company's convention.

Cora in her "Minnie" skirt, ready to go!
We bought our plane tickets but my parents generously treated us to a room at the Coronado Springs, a Disney property, and bought us park tickets.

Take-away #1: I imagine Disney is a lot more enjoyable when you aren't feeling like you are bleeding money the whole trip! Thanks Mom and Dad for this gift!

We took advantage of left over convention after 4:00 passes and decided to visit Epcot the day we arrived.  We figured this was the least child friendly park, but, being Jack's first taste of Disney, on day one would seem entirely novel and fun.

Jack's fun had actually started hours before.  Ride a bus from the airport parking lot to the airport?  Sign him up!  He was grinning from ear to ear and we had a great busmate, a 20-something year old guy who guessed where Jack was going and was happy to share with him just how cool Disney World really is.

Take-away #2: I will consider myself a successful mother if I raise my son to become a 20 year old who engages with a small child, treats them like they are important, and genuinely enjoys the conversation.  Kudos to this guy's mom - I was impressed.

Other exciting moments of the day: free pretzels on the plane, riding Disney's Magical Express to the hotel, complete with a welcoming video, a free Mickey sticker, hugs from Grammy and Big Papa, as much fruit as you could want at lunch, and even spending 30 minutes at the hotel bus stop, eagerly anticipating the arrival of the EPCOT bus.

Take-away #3: Don't view the Disney trip as just about the parks.  We were able to stay relaxed and keep things at a leisurely pace, and, as a result, every part of the trip seemed like part of the fun.

The evening at Epcot was enjoyed by all and was a good first park to see.  We happened upon a food stand in "Germany" and had meatloaf sandwiches and potato pancakes for oodles less than we'd have paid at a restaurant.  And the food was surprisingly good!

We had been advised not to miss the opening of Magic Kingdom, so the next morning we arrived just in time to see the characters open the gates.  This was such a magical day.  At 3, Jack probably thought he was walking in a hybrid real life Cinderella/Mickey kingdom. His innocence had him taking everything at face value, so at this point, I'm sure he thinks all the characters he saw are real life beings.

All 6 adults were up for adventure and without an agenda (exception: Grammy was not willing to get her hair wet), so we went from one person's ride suggestion to the next seeing Splash Mountain (Jack = smiling), Pirates of the Carribean (Jack = wary), Jungle Cruise (Jack = stoic), Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse (Jack = intrigued), Aladdin's Magic Carpet Ride (Jack = having a great time), Thunder Mountain Railroad (Jack = laughing), Haunted Mansion (Jack = no nightmares as of yet!), It's a Small World (Jack = truly enjoying himself), Peter Pan's Ride (Jack's favorite of the trip), and the new Little Mermaid ride (also a hit).

Pirate Baby

Takeaway #4: Go with a mature group! I laugh to think how much my siblings and I have matured since our last family Disney trip when we spanned the late teens and early twenties.  I remember there being grumpiness and a little sibling stressing, but this trip everyone seemed happy just to be together.

We watched the Main Street Character Parade and I, the sap, was tearing up every time a character winked, waved, or high fived Jack because he was just so enraptured by it all. 

We felt like naps were needed (by Big Papa just as much as Jack), so we took a 3.5 hour park break and returned, rested, for Tomorrowland that night.  Jack repeatedly asked to ride the People Mover, which I don't think any of us had ever ridden because it doesn't look all that special, but it was actually fun to ride around/above/through Tomorrowland.  Jack rode it a few times while small groups of "big kids" went on Space Mountain. He then opted for more rides rather than watching the fireworks.  We closed the park down at 11:00.

Jack & Cora at a Tomorrowland concert be continued...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Cora at 10 months

Cora is a-growing and a-changing over here!

- Pulls up, but doesn't cruise
- Crawls all over; she has a normal crawl and a modified army crawl that she pulls out when she's wearing a dress :)
- She just started liking to pull up on the toilet, but otherwise, she's ignored the stairs for the most part (with the exception of this picture) and isn't too destructive

- She continues to nurse frequently (like 7-8 times each day), loves her a sippy cup of ice water, and has moved into a pretty good phase with solids.  She went through a period around 9 months where she seemed to lose interest in solids, but now her appetite is back.  Favorite foods as of late are bananas, sweet potato wedges, ravioli, cheese, bread, butternut squash, and oatmeal (she can feed herself with a spoon if we load the spoon for her).

- This has been another rough month.  We resorted to letting her cry it out because we would put her down, pat her backside, and then as soon as we backed away, she'd pull herself up in her crib and start crying.  For the first week or two, we were going in every 5-10 minutes and she would only ultimately fall asleep in those intervals where we were in the room.  This past week she will actually fall asleep within about 5-10 minutes of crying and without us laying her down, so I guess that is progress.
- She is waking 2-3 times a night.  We have tried having Jacob go in and try to get her back to sleep and this occasionally works, but usually she's insistent on nursing, so most nights I just nurse her since then she'll go right back to sleep.  Our perfect sleeper has majorly regressed in the last 3 months, but there is no obvious reason (we've tried varying bedtimes, sleep routines, feeding her more, etc.), so we just are hoping she'll turn a corner soon!

- First definite word was "Jack-Jack" (or dja-dja) followed in the last day or so by definite "ma-ma" for me and "da-da" or "da-dee" for Jacob.  She's made those sounds for a while but now she is saying them for us.  Her favorite word/sound is "hi" and she waves and says it to most people.  She was a flirt at Disney World and we were like a welcoming committee everywhere we went with people waving and saying hi back :)

- I no longer think of her as a peaceful, easy going baby.  She is outgoing, very determined, and very social.  She loves to interact and is 100% confident with others as long as her momma or daddy is close by.  She is happy and a smiler.  She loves, loves, loves to be near her brother and to watch him play and pick up the same toys he has.   She has a cute way of craning her neck around to look you in the eye and she will often stretch out to watch something happening, so I'd call her curious too.

A few months back it was so hard to imagine Cora growing up and being a PERSON like Jack is.  That is starting to change as I see her becoming her own, unique being.  To me, she is the most beautiful, sweetest little girl.  At night, it's hard with the bedtime battles, but the rest of the day, she is full of so much joy!!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Brotherly & Sisterly Love

Thank goodness for video cameras! Jacob thought to capture Jack & Cora's first meeting and we captured a big dose of brotherly love and 2 year old preciousness for posterity.  She cried, he sang, and she stopped!!!  Be still my heart.

10 months later, Cora repays with some sisterly love. Her first "for sure" word?  "Jack-Jack"!  She says ma-ma-ma and da-da-da all the time but never for sure names us. I'd thought for a few days she was actually saying Jack-Jack, but this week when we arrived to pick up Jack from a playdate, as soon as she laid eyes on him, she quivered with excitement and said a clear "Dja-Dja".

In the intervening 10 months, there has been lots of mutual adoration, giggles, smiles, hugs (gentle and not-so-gentle), slobbery kisses, a few slaps and pushes, and two unfortunate scratches :(  So certainly not all perfect, but the beginnings of a real relationship with its highs and lows.

I love, love, love watching these two interact and am so happy that they will have each other throughout life!