Saturday, November 24, 2012

A belated re-cap of the rest of our Disney trip

Better late than never... right?

Wednesday (10/17) was probably the highlight of our trip! Today was a fairytale.... Pirates & Princesses

Today we had special events for each of the kids.  Our day started by dropping Cole off at the Grand Floridian for a Pirate Adventure Cruise.  He received a bandana and a lifevest and set sail with other 4-12 year old kids (without Mommy, Daddy & Summer) on a 2 hour search for buried treasure around the Seven Seas Lagoon with 4 pirate cast members.  He was shy when we first arrived, but I was pleased that the "pirates" were great at making him comfortable enough to get on the ship.  He had a blast!  Best part for him.... when they returned with the treasure chest, they each got a treat bag from the treasure chest to take home with them. 

After lunch Summer got to go to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique to get styled like the princess that she believes herself to be.  When we got there we were escorted to a changing room to change into her princess dress.  Then her fairy godmother got to work styling her hair.  Summer was a bit overwhelmed and playing shy at first.  I can't say that I blamed her... there were a LOT of girls being styled and all of their adoring fans were with them as well.  Thankfully Mom-mom knew just how to get her smiling for the photographer and both her fairy godmother and the photographer picked up on Mom-mom's tips right away.  This really helped Summer open up and enjoy the rest of her pampering!  She got some shimmery make-up and her nails painted.  After we were finished, she remembered that Mom-mom owed her a souvenir and decided that it would be the princess wand that matched her Aurora dress! 

Then we had the Princess Dinner in EPCOT!
I have to first say that while we did go to this dinner on our last trip to Disney, Summer did not get overly excited to see the princesses and was rather annoyed that Snow White was wearing a dress that matched Summer's! 
What a change on this special night!  Cole was tired and a bit cranky when we arrived and said he did not want any pictures with the princesses, but he quickly changed his mind once inside.  We first took pictures with Belle before being shown to our table.  When Aurora came into view on her way to our table, Summer shrieked, grabbed her autograph book and nearly flew off her chair before we caught her and told her that we had to wait for Aurora to come over to our table.  She waited as patiently as possible with book in hand and eyes GLUED to Aurora!  As you can see by all the smiles below.... we had a MAGICAL night!
Princess Summer with Princess Aurora

Snow White

 I brought our marker coloring sets to dinner to occupy the kids during downtime and Summer decided she would color a Cinderella picture.  When she was finished, she wrote her name on the back and wanted to give it to Cinderella.  Well Cinderella had already been to our table, so I wasn't quite sure what to do.  I saw that she was nearing the end of the tables before heading into the back room, so I took Summer by the hand and headed in her direction and told Summer we would wait for her to finish and see if we could quickly hand her the picture.  I didn't notice that Cinderella and Ariel's assistant was standing close by and asked me what I needed.  I explained that we already had our turn with Cinderella but Summer had colored a picture and wanted to give it to her.  She was very understanding and told us to stand by her and when Cinderella finished the table she was visiting she would call her over to us.  As we waited Ariel talked to Summer and told her that Cinderella loved presents and would so excited by Summer's picture.  Cinderella came over and was very surprised and happy to accept Summer's gift and told her she would hang it over her fireplace when she got home. 
Summer colored a picture for Cinderella
Giving the picture to Cinderella
To top off the night, Summer was able to get a special non-dairy dessert of Raspberry Sorbet.  Did I mention how much this girl LOVES pink?!  She was beaming and ate almost every last bite until the dish fell on the floor and broke.
Ecstatic that they had Raspberry Sorbet (dairy-free)


Thursday (10/18) was an impromptu down day for us.  We decided to head to the pool in the morning and then make sure the kids got a good nap after lunch since Jim & I would be heading out for a dinner on our own leaving the kids with Mom-mom & Pop-pop for the night.  We had a blast at the pool with Uncle Chris. 
Jim and I had a fabulous dinner by ourselves at Narcoossee's in the Grand Floridian and then headed over to the Top of the World Lounge in Bay Lake Tower to watch the fireworks, while the kids enjoyed dinner and the pool with my in-laws. 
Friday (10/19) was our last day in Disney World!  We spent the whole day in Magic Kingdom.  We did mostly characters and a few of the kids favorite rides (Dumbo, Goofy's Barnstormer and the Teacups).  We finished up buying souvenirs with the money left on their gift cards and had dinner at Tony's.  Cole fell asleep on me at dinner and Summer's was super excited that they had dairy free ice cream with mickey sprinkles for dessert!  After dinner Jim and Uncle Chris took the kids back to the hotel so that I could do some rides and watch the fireworks with Michele.  

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A busy weekend of Halloween Activities (last weekend)

I know that I haven't finished blogging about our vacation yet, but we had such a jam packed weekend followed by a crazy hurricane that I had to jump ahead and then I will complete Disney later.

Saturday (10/27) morning kick started with my SJMOMS group's Halloween Parade.  This is a really great activity that we hold at a local park with crafts and trick or treating and then playing on the playground if the weather cooperates. Thankfully the weather was BEAUTIFUL (last year it actually SNOWED!).  The kids had a great time and I'm happy to say that at this age, I don't feel like I have to be as constantly on top of them as they play.

After the parade we decided to head to Johnson's farm to pick pumpkins.  We were supposed to go before vacation, but it was rained out and the kids missed their field trip while we were away as well.  They decided not to change out of their costumes and guess what??  Since they were in costume, their hayrides were FREE!  I sometimes worry that Jim thinks I'm going overboard by dragging us on another outing, but even he admitted having a great time.  Once on the hayride, they told us that we could get off at the first field to pick popcorn, sweet potatoes and broccoli and the second field would be pumpkins.  I thought it sounded fun and popcorn pretty much sealed the deal for Jim since it is probably his favorite food.  

Once in the pumpkin field, Cole really wanted a big pumpkin until he realized that he wouldn't be able to carry it himself.  Even though I offered for me or Jim to carry it for him, he opted for one that he could carry himself.  
Summer led Jim way back into the field in search of a small pumpkin and I had to smile at what she returned with.  So her.... she actually selected a tiny pumpkin like gourd!  

Once returning back and paying for our pickings... we did the bounce house, got apple cider donuts, lunch and then headed home

After a nap we headed to the local Starbucks to check out their kids' Halloween party.  It was really nice... crafts, decorate a caramel apple, popcorn and face painting.  All free while I sipped my delicious coffee!  
Decorating their apples

Summer the butterfly

Cole the Batman
As if this wasn't enough excitement.... on Sunday as our area braced for a hurricane I needed to get a few items at the grocery store.  More or less because I hadn't been grocery shopping since before our vacation so I really had NO food.  Jim was out so I had to take both kids with me (which I try to do as seldom as possible). 
I have never used one of these car shopping carts! I will admit.... I'm kind of afraid of them.  They are awkward to push.... I did nearly take a few people out rounding the corners.  The kids are far from me and able to touch each other and if you are a parent.... you know what kind of trouble happens with those two factors involved!  Overall they did pretty well!  The only thing that wasn't on the list that they asked for was noodles... and I let them have them since there was much worse they could have asked for. 
As the rain from the hurricane began we had dinner at Mom-mom's and carved jack o' lanterns!  Pop-pop & Aunt Chele even thought to get one a bit bigger than Summer's gourd in case she wanted to carve too!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Meeting Cole's Heroes

Tuesday (10/16)
Let's face it... what characters do most people want to see when they go to Disney World?  Mickey & the princesses?  Well, not today my friends.  This morning Jim & I had the morning off of kid duty (thanks to my in-laws) and everyone else on the trip headed into Hollywood Studios for breakfast with Jake from the Neverland Pirates, June from Little Einsteins, Handy Manny and Special Agent Oso. 

I think that you can tell by the photos that a blast was had by all and luckily... Cole decided that he liked the characters today.  And Summer was super excited to dance with ballerina June! 
We met up with everyone after breakfast and attempted the Disney Junior show, but partway through Summer got scared of Captain Hook (and really this show is not scary at all).  I left with her and Cole followed me and we left all the adults inside to finish the show! When we exited the show, who did Cole spot again but Jake! And even though he had just seen him at breakfast he wanted to stand in line to see him again, so that is exactly what we did.  I have tried to take the approach of letting the kids' interests guide our trip as much as possible as it leads to less meltdowns and creates a better trip in my opinion.  We've been there many times before kids, so I don't feel like I'm missing anything by doing this.  After Jake, we saw Handy Manny, Buzz Lightyear & Woody from Toy Story.
Jake comparing boots with Cole

Holding hands while waiting in line

Posing with Buzz & Woody
Being out a little too late Monday night soon wrecked havoc on Cole's mood and he began to lose it a bit.  We headed back to the hotel for a nap and wound up changing our dinner plans.  Instead of heading into EPCOT for dinner in Mexico, we opted for dinner at Raglan Road in Downtown Disney.  This would enable us to park close to the restaurant to get in and out more easily and could do a little shopping if the kids decided to cooperate (which they did).  This is one of my favorite restaurants.  All pieces of the restaurant are from Ireland and they have AMAZING food and often have live entertainment.  On the night we were there they had Irish dancers.  Summer was fascinated to watch and even got to join in and try some steps herself.  It was so cute and she got a little certificate for participating.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Returning to the Happiest Place on Earth...

After about a 15 hour drive and an overnight stay in Florence, SC.... we made it to the Animal Kingdom Lodge in Disney World last Sunday.  Check out the view from our room....

Giraffe & Ankole Cattle from our balcony

We thought about heading into one of the parks for a bit, but when we asked the kids what they wanted to do first the resounding answer was THE POOL!  We had a quick dinner at our hotel and then went swimming. 

MONDAY (10/15)
Monday morning we headed out to Animal Kingdom for Donald's Safari buffet breakfast.  Cole decided that he did not like the characters and did not want autographs or pictures with any of them.  Summer on the other hand was a major ham with all of the characters and was super excited that the chef made her special non-dairy waffles and brought them out complete with a scoop of non-dairy butter and a little pitcher of her own syrup.  (I really can't say enough about the food allergy program here at Disney, but will probably make a separate post about that later). 

After breakfast we all went on the Safari and then split up in a couple directions afterwards.  Everyone wanted to go on the rapids except for Princess Summer who doesn't like to get her face wet!  (Cole had an absolute blast on the Rapids and then at Festival of the Lion King)  She decided on her own that she wanted to go shopping and reminded me that she had her own money to spend.  They have been saving money in the banks for our trip and received some additional money from family for the trip.  I loaded this money on gift cards with their names on them and the deal is that they can buy what they want, but when the money is gone they get nothing else.  We went through a store with loads of little girl toys and she like a lot of things.  I kept reminding her that we should look at all of the choices before making her final decision.  We did find a Princess Castle that she loved but was more money than she had on her card so we decided to put that on her Christmas list for Santa.  Here are her final picks for the day:

After shopping we decided to hit up some characters while everyone else was doing rides & shows. 

Summer & I really had some great Mommy/Daughter time and it was really fun for me to watch her do exactly what she wanted to do.  She also got so excited for me when we saw Eeyore... she squealed, "Look Mommy.... It's Eeyore your favorite!". 
Cole had an equally fun time with everyone else! 

After some rest at the hotel we headed into the Magic Kingdom for the evening.  Jim and I were super excited because we learned that they were having a dress-rehearsal for portions of the new fantasyland!  We got to go on the new Ariel ride (which Summer & Cole were scared of because they thought it was going to get dark) and look at the new castle and sampled a LeFou's Brew which was a delicious frozen treat.  After dinner they finally got to take Mom-mom on the teacups and rode some other rides before heading back to the hotel for the night. 

I'll try to get caught up on the rest of our adventures this week. 
PS - I know that it appears from these pictures that I only have 1 child, but Cole DID NOT want his picture taken on the first day or two of the trip.  Don't worry he overcame this and is in many more pictures later in the week.  

Sunday, September 30, 2012

We made it 4 years!!!!

It is true... I can hardly believe it but 4 years ago we started this crazy ride of becoming parents to not just one, but two babies at once.  Two babies that came just a little bit too soon, but did great and today when we take them to the doctors they exclaim every time... well you can't tell they were preemies!
It's so hard to believe that these tiny babies, less than 6lbs each... came home attached to monitors and now are in Pre-K.  They know the alphabet, they can count, they can spell their names and even WRITE THEM!  They are little sponges soaking up so much knowledge every single day. 
They have such an incredible bond with each other, a bond that I honestly never thought I'd see form (you would only understand this statement if you endured Summer's biting phase... which before daycare started her sole victim was Cole).  It's not always perfect... they definitely get upset with each other.  When she gets her temper up and I can't calm her down, he soothes her and convinces her that it is alright.  She is his other mommy, taking care of his every need.  In fact now when they play, I'll hear him calling me.  When I respond, he says "no, Little Mommy" meaning Summer. 
Cole is always running full-force.  He's my bull in the china shop, always falling, running into things, not looking before he leaps.  But he needs his cuddle time with Mommy and lots of it. 
Summer is bossy, but silly.  She almost always wakes up on the happy side of the bed.  She's gracefully and typically walking on her tippy toes.  Loves her Mommy, but knows that she has Daddy wrapped around her finger and DOES use that to her advantage. 
There are so many people that have helped us make it through these last 4 years.  From the bottom of our hearts.... we thank you all for whatever you have done for us.  

Friday, September 28, 2012

It's so hard to say goodbye...

I know it's been quite some time since I've written and I will update you all on how we spent our summertime soon....

This week I lost my last grandparent.  I count myself extremely blessed to have had as much time with my grandparents as I have.  Especially when I think of the fact that Jim only knew 2 of his grandparents and he lost his last one 10 years ago.  I learned so much from all 4 of my grandparents... so many things that I will never forget.  I enjoyed my time with Mom-mom until I was 20, with Grandma until I was 26 (just 1 day before my egg retrieval to conceive Summer & Cole), with Pop-pop until I was 30 and with Grandpa until I was 31.  It's funny though the stories that you never hear until after they are gone. 

Like these 2 that were left in the guest books in his online obituary:
To the Reilly family: My sympathies to you all. Mr. Reilly was my Principal at Hauppauge Middle School from 1971-1974. He was a good man and leader for the school. We appreciated his service to the community as well.
I remember in the late seventies, Leo,Carl Beck and Jerry Borrell and myself visited several school districts in upstate N.Y. that were including girls in their industrial arts program. It was a time when the subject of Industrial Arts was connsidered a program for only male students. Leo and his middle school administration recognized that the culture of America was changing that women were to included in all aspects of education. The visit made us extremely aware of the success the female students were having in these upscale school districts and why we should be proceeding in the same manner on L.I. Under Leo Reileys direction he implemented the first industrial arts program that included girls as well as boys. His insight into this is fondly remembered by myself since my close assoc. with him as Supt. of Instruction was to support his innovation. Once we implemented that program in Hauppauge it became a requirememnt throughout the state. 

I knew my Grandpa was a great man.... he raised 8 wonderful children with his wife of almost 60 years.  He loved and nutured 12 grandchildren and his 6th great grandchild was just born this month.  But it's so nice to hear that he touched those outside of his family as well.  Although his children tell stories of the stern disciplinarian (after all he was a principal) father, his grandkids know the real story.  He was a patient man who loved our Grandmother dearly.  He watched her soap operas with her, loved to golf and always made it to the early bird specials in Destin.  He made sure that the doors were double and triple locked to appease her and even remembered where she hid her real purse.  When we were young and in school, he would always ask about our teachers.  Every year he would ask, "what is your teacher's name?", followed by, "does she have 4 fingers and a thumb on her right hand?".... yes... "i know her". 

Goodbye Grandpa.... you will never be forgotten!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

The simple things that make kids happiest...

Today we visited some twinnie friends for a day of swimming, playing and picking some fresh corn from their farm.  Our day was complete with scooping some froggies from the pool before we could swim in it, swimming, floating, splashing, noodle races, snacking on popsicles and fruit, more floating.... several hours later we picked some fresh corn for lunch and played.  When it was time each of the kids were asked what their favorite thing about our play date was.  Both sets of twinnies (ages 7 and almost 4) said picking the corn... even the set that live on the farm!  An entire day of swimming fun and the 5 minute task of picking food to eat was their favorite part.  It's funny sometimes the time and energy we put into planning activities to keep our kids entertained and sometimes it is the simplest things that make them happiest!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Playing catch up

Oh we've been busy these past few months...

The next generation of cousins (The Hazletts, the Days and the Neals)

In our Easter finest
Aquarium fun...
A ride on the boat

Lizzie the Hippo

Cousin Sleepover...
My sister and I decided to try sleepovers with the kids.  But instead of having all 4 kids in one locations, I took the girls (Summer & Hannah) and Kim took the boys (Cole & Noah).  It was a HUGE success.  I have to say that I REALLY enjoyed myself.  I got to spend a lot of time with my nephew Noah was he was born and for at least the first 2-3 years of his life.  It was really nice to get to be an aunt before I was a mom.  Hannah was born when I was 3 months pregnant with the twins, so needless to say... I did not get this bonding time with her. 
I was a bit nervous because typically when all 4 cousins are together, Cole, Noah & Hannah play together and Summer plays tea party in the corner.  I wanted to plan some activities out of the house because I wasn't sure if Hannah would be thrilled with Summer's plan of playing babydolls and dress-up for the entire weekend. 
First up was painting pottery....  Summer picked a high heel cell phone holder (because every girl needs more shoes!) and Hannah picked a Lightning McQueen bank.  This was a huge hit for both girls. 

Once we were home, Hannah quickly got into playing dress-up (and it was the first thing that she asked me to get out on Sunday morning!) and daycare with the babies.

Saturday night was spent at Bounce U, which was another huge hit for both girls.  Check them out on the HUGE slide!  They probably went down 100 times! 

Then on Sunday morning, we headed to the aquarium with Aunt Yiz.  Both girls chose their own outfits.  But I'm glad that my girly girl daughter and my tom boy niece had a super fun weekend that they could both enjoy!  And I really enjoyed getting to spend some special time with my hilarious, fun, well behaved, appreciative niece.  It was so nice to get some quality bonding time with her.  

Cole also had a super fantastic time at Aunt Kim's farm.  She has a lot of built in entertainment at her farm.