Archive for the ‘Celebrations and Milestones’ Category

On your Second birthday- A letter to my daughter   Leave a comment

To my sweet baby,

You are two!

I wonder how long I will be able to get away with calling you sweet baby. If you ask me to stop I promise I will…

….at least out loud…

…. or at least in front of friends.

We had quite a year! Last year I marveled how you went from a tiny, squirming bundle of love to a stiff, legged baby toddler beginning a great adventure. I thought I knew how subtlely time marches on… but this year… oh, this year taught me a thing or two about subtlety. You took your first steps shortly before your first birthday and by my birthday a few weeks later you were fully mobile. Every day you lost some of the stiffness in your walk, your gait became smoother and more confidant.  Now when you are excited you run! And you don’t just run… no boring run from here to there for you… you gleefully dance and run at the same time, your arms waving wildly in the air.

There is pure joy about your every movement! (You run so much like Phoebe the character from one of my favorite television shows I have to wonder if I taught it to you somehow in the womb). Of course Daddy says I have a funny run too so maybe you learned it from me… but you definitely have me beat!

Your joy is not just in running…. you are so full of happiness and sweetness! It just radiates off you.  You love life and those around you so much you glow… and you make others glow. You are so kind and giving with your beautiful energy you make me so proud of you. When we were at Disney you bravely walked up to a woman you didn’t even know and threw yourself in her lap and hugged her for a good five minutes.

This woman, this total stranger, laughed and cried confessing that she had been watching you and missing her own children. She said that she needed that hug so badly. How did you know? I stood there twisting my fingers, so proud of you for knowing and so scared that you were so trusting of a stranger.

And you love your friends. You cried in my arms when the bad guy took Elmo’s blanket when we watched Elmo in Grouchland calling “Mo! Mo!”…because he was upset, so were you. You love to visit your friends and shower them with kisses, whether they want them or not. And you take such good care of your “baby”… so sweet.

You are happy to take the hand of a stranger or a friend to show them a flower, Elmo, music, or anything else that makes you happy. You are a happy child and you just want to share it with the world. Out of all the things about you that amaze and delight me this is the biggest. Because to me this joy, that you so willingly share, is a glimpse I get of your beautiful soul. It’s who you are, fundamentally, and I couldn’t be prouder.

It also terrifies me because I know the world and I hope it never puts a damper on your light. I hope some stupid, ungrateful boy never uses it against you. I hope you keep your love of others but learn to protect yourself a bit because I will not always be able to stand by and stand guard you. Although, I am more than willing to follow you around and do so, but I strongly suspect you will not want that.

So no matter what the big world throws at you my little LA please always remember how good and kind and full of light and love that you are. And that’s who you are at your core and it’s a rare, beautiful thing to see. Daddy and I are both so proud of how happy and loving you are, we hope it is the love we give you reflected back… it is a lot of love by the way.

You are still so brave… this year has taught me that not only are you a ray of sunshine but a little monkey in training. You certainly like to keep me on my toes. You arrived the day after the midwife said you would most likely be late. You always liked to do the unexpected. Sure enough, just after Daddy and I gained confidence that we had the house appropriately baby proofed you went vertical!

Scaling couches, climbing tables and toys and any other option to get you higher in the air became your favorite pastime. And clever, you knew that if you climbed on something and called my name I would come rushing to you. So diabolical, you would wait until I was working and climb on something and proudly shout “Mama!”  with a look of pure mischief on your face. You knew that I would come to sweep you into my arms. And you were always right.

You are so amazing physically. Daddy and I have joked many times about how you are sure to make the gymnastic team of 2024!!! You have been going airborne in your jumps since you were 16 months and when you started taking gymnastics lessons you were swinging on the rings so long you even impressed your teacher. But I know I will tell the reporters how I knew you were in love with the sport when we were late for our first class because you were so busy hanging from the bar in the car that I couldn’t get you dressed!

Still not much of a talker yet but I enjoy getting to see little glimpses of how your mind works. You know over thirty signs so that we usually know what you want or think. At 15 months you told me that the planes in the sky were birds and just last week you rushed in to blow on the stove because I told you it was hot! I cannot wait until you are willing to tell me more about what you are thinking!

When I think back on this year I picture you flashing by me, pigtail flying and giggling maniacally. I remember you rolling over in your sleep, giving me kisses and then rolling back saying “mama” as you drifted off to sleep. I picture you curled up in your daddies arms as you make him hold you like a hammock to watch Elmo. I think of laughing with you as you made Elephant and animals noises and how you pretend to be a cat so you can eat your food from a bowl on the floor.

I’ll always remember how you curled against me and stroked my back (something I do for you) while we watched Tangled for the 437th time.

You are even more than what I listed here… artistic, compassionate, funny, unique, stubborn, clever… the list goes on. Everything I could have dreamed a daughter would be… and blessings I never would have expected.

I feel the same as last year about you growing up. It is a strange bittersweet journey to be a parent. I strive and reach every milestone with you and I am so happy for you, so proud, and yet a part of me mourns the loss that goes with the achievement. Every achievement is wonderful but means that another part of your babyhood or toddlerhood has passed…. and I’m not always ready. To be honest I still miss your toothless grin 😉

Part of me just wants to keep you this way forever and another part can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for you next. I do want to keep you my dancing, singing baby toddler and yet I’m so excited for you when you act like a big girl. Especially since a sweet, clever, kind big girl. Watching you put on your helmet to sit on your tricycle in our living room made me positively teary.

I feel so honored to be your mama. You keep your Daddy and me laughing every day and we both talk about how lucky we are to have you. It sounds trite to say, although it’s true, you reaffirm my belief in this world. You are so pure and so good and I am so proud that I had anything to do with you.

I love you so much baby girl…. I hope you always know how special you are.

Love-

Your Mama

PS…. thank you so much for my first flower gift… it is safely pressed in your baby book.

A lot of adventure…

What a smile….

Learning and loving…

What a sweet goofy girl you are…. I love you

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Posted September 19, 2012 by etainl in Celebrations and Milestones, Mommy-hood

Lessons from a One Year Old – Year Two of Parenting   Leave a comment

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I wrote about the 50 things I learned in my first year of parenting. Rereading it made me tear up a bit, in a good way. And I was surprised by how many of the lessons still apply for the second year 🙂

I actually wrote most of this list as things happened throughout the year. After reading last years list I have repeated myself! Totally unintentional. I guess that just makes it all the more true! (and I deleted some of the ones that were repeated… so I could get that magic 50 number. Wouldn’t want an uneven blog post list!)

So this year, in addition to writing about what we’ve learned as parents I wrote about what having a one year old in the house has taught me about life… You can learn a lot from a one year old!

We have learned as parents:

1. I have to say it, even though I said it last year, you will be amazed by how much you can love.

And just when you thought you couldn’t love any more….

….you do.

2. A two day runny nose for a 1 year old will turn into a deadly lieonthecouchalldayandsuffer week long cold for Daddy. (and sometimes mama too)

3. Be prepared for repetition. Be prepared for repetition. Be prepared for repeition.

If Wheels on the Buss was annoying for you/fun for her the first time…. just wait till you have heard it 50 times!

4.  Poop still happens, less frequently but more stink and stick!

5. Just when you think you think you’ve got a handle on this walking thing they go vertical… Or at least mine did. Little monkey!

6. You have to reevaluate your baby proofing when your toddler becomes a mountain goat and a hanging monkey.

7.It is  amazing how in the middle of the night you will find yourself in your childs room and not even remember getting there. And if you are like us and room shared for the first year, it is amazing how far away their bedroom seems when they begin to sleep in their own room. So very, very far away….. sniff…..

8. It’s incredible how excited you can be for the sound of pee hitting a toilet!!

9. They will make you laugh…

again and again….

….. and again…

and again….lol

10. Toddler’s are a lot less easy to change than they were as a baby. Which means when they have a poopy diaper it still gets ALL over!

11. If it was your child’s favorite food last week and you just purchased/prepared a lot of it…. they probably don’t like it anymore.

12. You will find yourself more excited than a child to go to Disney world (or theme park or zoo)…. only because you know what is coming (and they don’t!)!
And it will probably be the last time that you are more excited than they are!

13. Someone will say something like “Oh you have a little girl?” When she isn’t around. You will marvel at their perception until you realize your shirt is covered with flowery stickers.

This will also happen to your husband and his golf bag earning him the nickname Princess from his buddies.

14. If a crawler shows you just how dirty your floors are a walker shows you just how slow and old you’ve become!

15. Nothing in the world is sweeter than a full body, baby monkey, toddler hug (you know if you’ve had one of these… if you haven’t, you are missing out!)

16. It would be easier to try to put an octopus in a tuxedo than to fully change, wipe and dress a toddler who doesn’t cooperate.

17. Your dogs are no longer just dogs, they are pillows, pony substitutes and excellent toddler lunch clean up devices.

18. You brush your dogs hair to discover that the root of the matt is….. a sticker!

19. Tears and tantrums are an excellent way to reduce stress… This explains why they are so smiley immediately afterwards. It sometimes works for moms too 🙂

20.   Those things you said you’d never do. You’ll do at least one of them.

We are still holding pretty firm on the no junk food, but sadly have relaxed a bit on the TV rules, although from what I hear we are stricter than some 😉

21. Mama spit works.

22. Just when you think “I’ve got this” they will change it up on you.

23. You suddenly are sure that she will be a veterninarian or a doctor because she loves to play with a stethescope!

24. Sleeping through the night feels so good.

25.  Not sleeping through the night feels even worse when you have recently been reintroduced to sleep.

26. As they develop that amazing personality you will also run into some differences of opinion….

…And you learn what a tantrum is.

Oh did I mention tantrums already…. get used to them. They happen, more frequently than you’d like.

27. You learn that it doesn’t make you a horrible parent if you find some tantrums kinda funny.

28. You hate when they get hurt but you love how they immediately come to you for comfort.

29. You will marvel as you see their own unique personalitites develop. They are truly their own person… my little one has a “thing” for sunglasses 😉

Class……

…. and unique…

…and oh so cool 😉

30. You’ll want to swoop in and do things for them, but if you give them a minute they will do it…..

31. They will amaze you with what they can do. 🙂

32.  I know I said this last year but watching your husband bond with your child just makes you love him all the more, especially when he puts aside his dignity to do it…

and just for how he loves her…. and how she loves him…..

(And housework is still an aphrodisiac… in case you were wondering. Men take note!)

33. I can’t speak for little boys but little girls will start being little girls. LA now has her baby that she carries around and kisses. She wants to brush my hair, daddy’s hair and the dogs hair… she is just so very girl 😉

34. You will want to beat another child for taking a toy, hitting your child, or just being a “bad” kid.

35. You will cringe and want to crawl under a rock when your child takes a toy, hits or just generally is misunderstood 😉

36. If you planned a meal made up of things that they previously loved to eat and that has some nutritional value they will not touch it. Here is an actual example….

 btw… this is an after picture… notice how it is completely untouched.

and this is a bowl of apples she attacked, just a few bites each 😉

Oh and you will spend weeks trying to get them to try something (in my case chicken) only to have them crawl up on their Poppy’s lap and down his chicken curry of all things.

I swear to get her to eat more I should just leave food around on the floor… then she’d be sure to eat!

37. You will learn all of the characters on their favorite show. In our case we know all of the Sesame Street characters. Steve jokes that he now knows what a gerbicorn is, he never knew he would need that information.

38. You will find yourself thrilled when an episode of Sesame Street (insert your child’s favorite show) comes on that you have never seen before.

38 part two… you will also become very appreciative for all that Elmo (or other character) teaches your child. Here is LA wearing her helmet, she has to have it on because Elmo does…. Go Elmo as good role model!!!!

39. Your house has been hit by a TOYsunami! It’s amazing how one little person can make so much mess.

 We have about 497 balls in our house… we live with a ball addict 🙂

40. In your pre child life you got catchy songs from the radio stuck in your head. Now you will wake up singing “There are Three Primary Colors,” “The Wheels on the Bus” or “Potty Time”… or something else hip like that.

41. I did know I had OCD until puzzles entered my life. It drives me crazier than I can describe wanting to keep all the pieces together.

42. You will come to hate stuffed animals.

43. If you have just cleaned a room and/or put all the toys away understand that to a toddler this is the equivalent of waving a red flag before a bull. Try not to cry as they trash all of your hard work (or at least try to cry privately).

44. You may have spent big money on that gift you just got them but it is guaranteed they will prefer the Styrofoam it came in. One of LA’s favorite things at the moment is a rock she found at the park, she carries it around and kisses it. Baffling.

 This looks like a loving picture of the two of us…but is actually kissing a rock, her new best friend.

45. You will learn about creepy toys. Toddler toys start to sing in the middle of the night… for no good reason!
You will struggle between wanting to hire an exorcist because you are just THAT creeped out that Oscar the Grouch is asking if you want to play at 2 am and being seriously angry that it may have woken your toddler. And you are angry enough that if it is some malevolent force playing with your child’s toys it should really run and hide….

46. You learn what toddler problems really are. At the beginning of the year LA decided she had to have her pony to go to bed. One pony quickly became two…..

…. then we added baby….

…. another pony, a baby Elmo, a stuffed doggie, and now a musical baby Minnie Mouse. Other animals make the “list” from time to time. Remember when I said you will hate stuffed animals, yeah, well your child will not. They will develop problems concerning how to hold all of their precious babies in one go. Or even bigger crisis like how to carry them all!

Thank God we have not had to deal the tragedy that is losing a favorite friend. Knock wood!

47.  I cried watching the Olympics because they had those adorable/sappy commercials concerning how the parents supported their child to get there. And how to a parent they still look like a two year old standing up on the high board, track,etc….

For the record my LA is currently training for the Olympics 2024… or so she thinks. 🙂

48. You will appreciate your parents more… and love watching your family and friends love your child.

49. Having a child will teach you the true definition of pride, love, wonder and definitely joy.

50. You get to do fun things because you are with your kid! Steve and I love jumping on the trampoline and going to the bounce house place 😉

…. apparently I stink at sticking to 50… here are a few more….

51. They will develop a skill you don’t love. LA has the ability to ignore me (or anyone else) that rivals the most petulant teenager. I shudder to think how this skill will have developed in 10 years or so.

52. You won’t mind sharing your favorite foods (at least not as much!)

52. They will want help. When this involves helping put lotion on me (or her) I smile and laugh. When it involves helping me “sweep” or writing on my work pad I struggle to smile 🙂
…. although it is still pretty darn cute.

53. They will force you to think outside the box!!

54.  They will teach you a sense of wonder you didn’t know you had forgotten.

….and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t learn from your child. Just watching her grow up has taught me so much about life….

What my one year old taught me about life:

1. If you’re happy show it!

2. If it was exciting to do the first time…. do it 50 more times!

 This is LA washing her hands for the gazillion-th time in a day….the girl loves clean hands!

3. Even if you look or sound silly people will be happy if you try (example  when mama sings “lalala”  and LA sings “Wawawa” everyone is delighted, even if it’s not “right”)

4. Toddlers don’t hold grudges … Neither should we. They forgive.

5.  If mommy or daddy like it… I must have it.

6. It is just as exciting to see your good friends (the dogs, the fish, Imma, Poppy) today as it was yesterday…why not show it?

7.  Do everything at full speed and 100%!

8. It doesn’t have to be a real toy to be totally awesome! (i.e. water fountains, pens, boxes, water bottles, pans, etc)

9. Forget mistakes and just move on.

10. Nothing is better than snuggling with one of your favorite people.

11. Life is one big adventure… enjoy it!

Just like I said last year parenting is an amazing journey. I can’t even begin to describe how blessed I feel. Parenting is a rewarding experience for all of the joy and love you receive. It is terrifying because you want to protect them so very much. And it is bittersweet as you look forward to the future while missing the past. I wouldn’t miss it for the world!

But how did we get from this…..

to this….(a year)….


To this little girl who breaks my heart with her beautiful heart and smile….

Happy birthday baby girl!

Family Traditions   4 comments

I wanted to write about some of our family’s unique traditions but in the meantime I was wondering what are YOUR family traditions?

I love a good tradition… I love the familiarity of knowing what will happen on Christmas Eve or my birthday evening. My family was big on traditions and I want to incorporate them into our family life as well as create our own.

Since I’m looking to create some of our own I’d love to steal hear what some of yours are. So here are some of the ones we had growing up so that you can steal enjoy hearing them.

– We did the advent calendar every Sunday leading up to Christmas and on Christmas Eve we would light the last candle and sing Happy Birthday to baby Jesus.

– During the holiday season a little empty manager would appear and my brother and I were to put a piece of straw in the manager every time we did something kind or loving or that Jesus would approve of. It was a nice reminder that the season was about more than gifts and glitz. I remember my brother doing something nice for me and telling him excitedly, “You should go put a piece of straw in!” It was the honor system and not punitive, we were never told to take any out. On Christmas Eve we would put a little figure of baby Jesus in the manger after singing Happy Birthday and we’d also sing Away in a Manger. The kinder we were the softer his bed.

– Of course we left cookies and milk out for Santa and we always got a letter back from him the next day. We also left an apple or carrot for Rudolph 😉

-On Christmas Eve we were allowed to open ONE gift… that my mom picked. That was inevitably new pajamas or slipper or something adorable like that.

– Every year my grandfather or father would need to run to the store to get milk and then Santa would call to tell us he was on his way and to hurry to bed. I always felt so bad that Dad or Poppop missed that call …. 😉

– My father would always read Twas the Night Before Christmas on Christmas Eve… to this day I have the entire poem memorized.

— We had Santa “peepers” owl shaped binoculars and right before bed we would go out and look for Santa’s sleigh and/or Rudolph’s nose. Inevitably one of us would “spot” him and this would be my parents queue to rush us off to bed before he arrived.

-We had to have our letter for Santa that said what we wanted for Christmas ready by the weekend after Thanksgiving, so he had time to make everything. We’d lay it in the fireplace before bed and in the morning it would be gone!!!!

-Christmas morning we were not allowed to get up until the sun was up, this rule was implemented as my brother and I got up progressively earlier. But we were allowed to hang out in each others room…. I would always keep the gifts I got for him in my room so when he’d sneak in I’d have something for him.

-My mom would freeze maraschino cherries and sprite into ice cubes on Christmas and Easter… some were red and some were green. It was the most awesome thing ever!

– Of course we dyed our Easter eggs….can’t think of anything beyond the usual for Easter. We were allowed a few minutes to check out our baskets before church and allowed to hunt for an egg or two for breakfast. When we got home we got to do our Easter Egg hunt for the real eggs. After lunch we did a Nana and Poppop search for the little plastic eggs full of goodies.

-When we were sick we had a special sick blanket and sick cup. Mom would make us a bed on the couch or on the floor of her room and would always make whatever we wanted for lunch.

– On our birthdays we always got to pick the restaurant, within reason, that we went to for family dinner. This became a HUGE decision that resulted from weeks of conferencing together… especially because my brothers birthday and mine are 10 days apart.

– We got to select ANYTHING we wanted our birthday cake to be and mom would attempt it. This resulted in my brother issuing some pretty crazy challenges for her.

-On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day we either made breakfast in bed for them (and they pretended it was good) or we took them to McDonalds (which they pretended was good as well).

-On Mother’s Day my mother and Nana got an orchid corsage to wear. All the ladies got them for Easter.

– We always took our photo in the same spot in front of the fireplace for the first day of school and any other big event.

– If we saw my mom or dad shopping for a gift and asked what they were getting they would tell us “Kitten britches” or “Kitten mittens”… that when when an overexcited 4 year old would blurt out “Daddy I know what Mommy got you for your birthday!” It was funny rather than ruining the surprise.

-On random days my mom or dad would show up to school to eat lunch with us, or take us to lunch. Either way it made me feel special.

-On random days my mom would leave a card or note in my lunch box 🙂

-On New Years Eve my parents would make pillow beds on the floor of the living room for us and we’d watch family movies of the previous year until it was time to watch Dick Clark… if we didn’t make it to midnight and fell asleep… no biggie, we were already in “bed.”

-Tuesday night was No TV night and Family Game Night.

-In the summer we tried to have picnics once a week.

-On vacations my brother and I would take turns buying each other gifts or souvenirs. We rarely bought ourselves anything but always got what we wanted 😉

-My mom always made our Halloween costumes…

(This was both my brothers favorite and my favorite costumes ever… Tiger and the Princess)

Oh man… I am just sure I am forgetting some things….
Oh well, my mother reads my blog so I’m sure she’ll remind me.

There are also some things I remember my parents, particularly my Dad, always saying…. not quite traditions but they stuck.

-When we’d leave for vacation, finally, after finding the last bag, remembering to turn out the lights etc he’d always say “We’re off like a herd of turtles”

-When driving he’d tell us whoever saw a cow first owed him $10…. If you’ve ever driven through Florida you realize this was a clever way to keep us hunched over and quiet with our eyes covered for a while. We never did pay him….

-Eventually as we got older and cleverer we would say they weren’t cows they were short necked giraffes or long legged pigs or what not.

-When we got in the mountain and inevitably saw sings that say “Watch for Falling Rock” my father would tell us the story of Princess Falling Rock. How she ran way from home to be with her one true love and her father was still looking for her to this day, thus the signs.

His First Coffee Mug   Leave a comment

So the week before last I took LA to a paint your own pottery location to create a mug for Steve for Father’s Day. Conveniently this also counted as my “something cool and unusual” for her because of my resolution (in case you were keeping track).

I figure he will get lots of crafts and probably lots of mugs but this will be his first.

When we first walked in I immediately panicked a bit inside because there were SO many breakable things in the ceramics store… go figure!

Of course, she immediately wanted to run around and play. This was SO not happening.

She helped me pick out a mug and the lady brought us our paint and we went to town. I had an idea in my head of what I wanted it to look like… good thing I’m flexible because it ended up looking totally different.

LA was happy to paint and switched from color to color. She saw me painting the bottom inside of the mug (which I was trying to do as prep for her to have a base to color on… this did not work) so she tried to do the same. The inside of his mug may even be more decorated than the outside.

She concentrated really hard on her artwork.

At one point though she saw some ceramic painted pumpkins. The child is obsessed with apples so naturally she assumed they were apples and had a mini meltdown because I am mean and would not let her have them.

(oh yeah, we aren’t perfect… we have tantrums because mama won’t let us eat ceramic pumpkins disguised as apples)

Thankfully a nice lady who works there saved the day by providing a cookie… crisis averted.

Her favorite part of the project was when I painted her hands and she got to do hand prints on the mug.

A very successful project for Daddy. He liked it.

By the way, I really wanted to post this earlier because I think it’s such a great idea for something to do with really little ones for gifts. But since my husband reads my blog I couldn’t risk it 😉

Also, for this past week I did keep my resolution for us both. Steve had a conference in Miami and we tagged along. For me I got to take a nap by the pool when LA did and enjoy room service. LA and I got to have nearly two days of just us, no distractions, no cleaning and no work. She also got to be the center of attention every time a hotel worker came around… seriously she was the belle of the ball so to speak and she loved it. I think she got totally used to the pampering even though we were only there two nights!
I got used to it… I’ve officially decided that we should be rich. I like room service and pool boys who bring me cool drinks and amazing views.

AND we made French Bread today from scratch… so this counts for LA because she got to make a bit of a mess (although she cried when she couldn’t get dough off her hands) and it counts for me because I am a bread a holic (although I cried a bit when she got dough in her hair and I couldn’t get it out!).
PS I am not seeking help for my addiction, it is too delicious.

For the Dads   1 comment

When I was pregnant with LA Steve was a very attentive father to be. He anxiously awaited word that I was craving something  and quickly delivered whatever “sounded good” to me.  I actually felt bad that I didn’t crave more… he was ready to spring into action.

He is not a reader but it made me love him all the more to see him lying on the gurney reading the Baby Book for Dads as he awaited his back procedure.

Every night he would talk to my belly and play games with Zygie (as we called LA when she was “on the inside”)… in the morning he’d wake her up to say goodbye before work- shining flashlights, tapping what we figured was her bottom. She would always turn to whichever side he was on and  press her hands against his mouth. (Side note- when she was born she immedately took her little hands and put them to his mouth just like she’d done before… so amazing).

In other words, he was a great, very involved dad. He even joked that I was “hogging” the baby.

We did everything as a team that we could. He even went to the breastfeeding classes with me. We read, together, the progress reports for our baby. He wanted to know all that I was going through. When she was born he was right there… I felt like I couldn’t have done it without him. He was even going to “catch” her if she hadn’t, in his words, “shot out like a torpedo.”

I am not sure how to put it into words but I felt like even though it’s a painful, messy business we women have the better end of the deal because we get to have the full experience.

I remember thinking that sometimes it must be very hard to be a dad. As involved as Steve was he could not experience all that I felt. Everything was through me. We did the best we could… he was right there every step of the way but he didn’t get to lay awake at night feeling our child turn inside. And after she was born he had to go back to work while I spent my days with her. He would always remind me to have the camera ready for first steps or words. At night he’d remind her that she should wait to do those things for when he was home.

Not sure how men would feel about that sentiment.

Some would probably vehemently disagree and some might agree, at least a bit. It’s gotta be tough to be the dad.

So this article that recently came out was great. It talks about how many fathers feel they receive mixed messages. They are encouraged to attend everything but they feel in the way. More men actually get post partum depression than women, which is fascinating. Father’s have it tough too!

No matter how much a child loves their father 9 times out of 10 a child will call for mama when they are hurt, tired or sad. While Steve was there doing everything he could LA still wanted me 75% of the time when she was under a year old. Mostly because I have the “magic boobies” (as they are called in our family) and because I was the one home with her all day. I kept thinking that must be hard for dads because they love them just as much as mama does.

I have loved seeing their relationship change as LA grows. She has to show him everything. I love watching her drag my huge husband around the house to show him her block tower. I love even more watching them build something on the floor or seeing him help her color. She loves her Daddy. He is the first person she looks for in the morning and when he’s already gone to work she walks around looking for him, as if he’s hiding.

When I was pregnant I gave a little talk to the health class at the high school where I taught. In one of the classes I said something like, “When my husband and I found out we were pregnant..” about that time some punk boy snickered and said something like, “Like He’s pregnant too.”

Usually when people say something stupid like that I’m pretty quick with a snarky comment. In this case words left me, I will blame pregnant brain. What I wish I had said to him was:

Yes… when WE found out we were pregnant. We… as in both of us. Because while only I am carrying the child we are both going to be parents. Because he is a real man and intends to be a real father his life will change too when this baby arrives. And because he is a good man he is just as involved in the preparation for this baby’s arrival. If you grow up to have half of his integrity someday you will understand that any man can make a baby but it takes a true, quality man to become a father. So yes, WE found out that we were pregnant.

Sometimes the kid gets called a punka– in the little speech in my head, but that wouldn’t have happened in real life.

Being a dad is a tough job. And many of the fathers in our generation have taken on even more. They are committed to helping in the house and being a more involved parent than many dads of yesterday.  They are staying home and raising children, either while mama works or on their own. They are setting aside their dignity and being silly with their children. They are working so hard … and sometimes I think Dad’s get a bit overlooked because Mama is just so glamorous 😉

So this weekend celebrate all the good dads. All the daddies who dance and sing silly songs with their daughters. The dads who build castles and racetracks on the floor. The dads who lead their sons into being quality fathers themselves someday. The dads who show their daughter what they should expect someday from their own husbands.

I know in our house we will be doing all we can to make our special daddy know how very loved he is.

Love at first sight

I think this is my all time favorite photo of him with her. The look on his face makes me fall in love with him all over again every time.

 

And, by the way, this commercial makes me both laugh and tear up every time. I look forward to the day I see Steve dancing with LA like this… but I promise not to post the video 🙂

Posted June 16, 2012 by etainl in Celebrations and Milestones, Culture, my cool husband

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Theme Parks… The fun   1 comment

So previously I posted some of the nitty gritty of what worked for us at the parks.

Here is a ride run down of what LA loved and what the lines were like etc….

At Magic Kingdom

It’s a Small World– Be prepared to be singing it the rest of the day! I was so excited to take her on it… she pretty much sat rapt and unmoving through the whole thing. Occasionally she’d wave at a child or sign swing or bird or what not. I think she enjoyed it but I also think it was a lot to take in. But a definite one to do.  The line isn’t too bad and if you go by and it’s long just try again…. plus the line goes pretty quick.

Peter Pan LA reacted much the same way as It’s a Small World… she showed a bit more enthusiasm. This line is VERY long… possibly a good one to use a fast pass on. It’s also a slow line…

Prince Charming’s Carousel This very well may have been LA’s favorite of all…. we have tried to take her on other Carousels at the fair or parks. She screams and refuses to ride. However, for this carousel she points and laughs and can’t wait to ride! She signs pony over and over again…. I mean really, she loves it. And most of the time the line is both short and quick!

 Before her first ride… with the Magical Auntie C

I mean, really, look at the face! Totally worth the trip right here…

Dumbo  The classic… a pretty long line at times. LA really liked it… once it started moving. On our first trip there she was cranky and ready for lunch and was not happy until it started moving… then she was most happy.

 Can you see her screaming her head off here? 😦

They have now actually moved Dumbo and  made a new one. The classic is not open yet but the new one is awesome. Here is a tip… ride it once it gets dark… because it looks like this!

And she loved it…

The Rapunzel meet and greet- We really wanted to do this one because our LA LOVES Tangled…. but this is probably the longest, slowest line in the whole park. Really, really…. even Auntie C said we should either get there super early and get in line or just forget it. So if you want to do it head there first… otherwise just wait until your daughter is older and do a Princess breakfast, that is our plan 😉
The line also looks uber boring 😦

Winnie the Pooh- We did it the first trip but didn’t bother the second time. She liked it but wasn’t super excited. Maybe if your child is older or more into Pooh.  VERY long slow line, good to use for fast pass… but an interesting lines with things for the kids to do while they wait.

The Tea Cups We did this both times and LA loved it 🙂

That’s about it for Fantasy Land… we totally skipped Snow White… that thing scared me till I was like 10!

Frontier Land

We skipped Haunted mansion… it says you can bring your little ones on. I didn’t think it was worth the risk of scariness… we did it while she slept.

The other two big ones here are Splash and Thunder Mountain….. obviously not for kids.

Hucks island has some kid stuff… but a lot of it looked like stuff for older kids so we skipped it.

However we did do the Country Bear Jamborie…. And she LOVED it! She clapped and laughed and pointed and shouted Nay Nay (her word for cat) to the bear to tell him he had a raccoon on his head. She just loved it… and bonus no real line. Plus it’s nice and cool inside. We used it both times when we needed a break to slow down and relax a bit.

Adventure Land

We skipped Pirates of the Caribbean which made me sad… it’s one of my favorites. She was allowed to go on but I was nervous about the drop and the scary skeleton stuff in the beginning. Otherwise I think she would have liked the characters and singing. If you are brave enough to take your little one, tell me how they do.

We skipped the Jungle Ride, although I totally think she would have loved it.  REALLY long line.

But she adored the Tiki Birds in the Tiki Room. Steve has sworn he will never go back in there because the song and the singing drove him crazy but LA thought it was fantastic. I thought it was nice to sit and relax in the cool… the line wasn’t bad at all 🙂

Tomorrow Land

Monsters Laugh Floor This was more for us adults… didn’t seem to impress her too much. But we adults laughed and again… nice and sitting and cool and the line wasn’t too bad.

Just a note the first time we went she woke up from her nap and we were in Tomorrow Land… when she realized we were still there she laughed and clapped and was so excited. It was cute.

We were going to try her on the People Mover but we didn’t bother

Main Street

On Main street she liked the shops… we got her some illicit candy and we tried on silly hats. The shops are SO expensive… those adorable Disney dresses you see so many girls wear cost 79$…. WOW… I hope by the time she wants one I can make a really cool one.

Character meet and greet- I like how they have some set character meet and greets so if you really want to meet someone you know where they will be. Back in the day we had to hope we bumped into Cinderella or Mickey or whoever…the downside is that it makes for really long lines. We decided not to wait for Princesses because the line was like 45 minutes or an hour, I don’t remember. I figure in the future we will not have this option. We chose to go see Mickey and Minnie, their line was twenty minutes. I couldn’t help but think how times have changed…. Mickey and Minnie used to be the longest lines. LA wasn’t too impressed…. she’s not super familiar with Mickey Mouse because she’s only seen the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse a handful of times, because she has a wicked mother who limits her TV to an hour or so a day. She was wary… but I was glad we got pictures.

On our second day we started to wait to see Snow White, who was on the street, but it turned into a 30 minute line so we left. We thought about waiting for Goofy but LA was terrified of the statue of him so we skipped it.

At Animal Kingdom

We did the Safaari Ride… which I thought she’d like. But she was overly tired and in some sort of strange mood. She pointed at a few animals but otherwise didn’t seem to care. Daddy and I thought this was AWESOME! The animals are so close… this is definitely one that if you want to do you have to go early and get in line. The line gets REALLY long plus if you wait till later in the day the animals have all taken shelter from the heat and aren’t as active or close.

We went over to the kids area and the Petting Zoo…. which was nice. She liked seeing the animals in the walk through display.

We didn’t get to do anything else at Animal Kingdom…. it was so hot and crowded. Then baby had melt down so we cut our losses and took off. But I really want to go back now.

I will tell you that several parents told me not to do the Bugs Life show with little kids because it gets scary… so you’ve been warned.

Hollywood Studios

We enjoyed Hollywood Studios way more than expected.

As mentioned Mama and Daddy loved Rockin Roller Coaster… not for wee ones though.

We went on the Little Mermaid Live show…. really short line, not a bad wait if you catch the show just right. LA was absolutely enraptured. She sat on Steve’s lap in a trance. Bubbles come down from the ceiling, there were fish, and singing and music, the girl was in heaven. Steve is now suggesting we show her Little Mermaid but I’m a little worried Ursula is a bit intense.

We took her on the Hollywood Movie Ride.… she enjoyed the Wizard of Oz portion and the Fantasia clip… otherwise she didn’t care much. There is one alien part that I was worried about but conveniently she asked to nurse and as it was a dark seated area I took that as a perfect opportunity to distract her and let her finish. Oh and the line was nonexistent.

The Toy Story Ride was really cool…. LA liked it but didn’t really fully enjoy it. First of all she would not leave her 3D glasses on for very long. She enjoyed the occasional spin on the ride. But basically you get to use a “slingshot” and do arcade shooting…. we really liked it. It is a terribly long line without a fast pass… and get the fast pass early if you can!

See how impressed she was with the ride 😉

Ok here is I reveal some geekiness… I adore the movie Splash… and look, it’s the fountain from the movie!!!

And here is some more geekiness… I’m such a Star Wars Nerd…. so the fact that we put my daughter on a speeder and she immediately assumed the properly position, well, it just about stopped my nerdy little heart 😉

 (This will totally be on my wall btw… Yes I am that much of a nerd)

We got fast passes for Star Tours and then got lunch…. it was perfect by the time we were done eating lunch it was time to go on. I totally recommend Star Tours, it’s different nearly every time you ride it and even the line is awesome. However, you cannot take your child in the line nor can they go on the ride. But you can tell them at the front of the line your dilemma and they will let one adult go on and give the other a pass to come back and jump right in the line.

So one of you has to wait with child. At this point in the day I was trying to get LA to go to sleep… but next time we’ll just go around the corner to the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground. When the other parent is done they can just come and switch so both can ride the awesomeness that is Star Tours 😉

Plus it was one of LA’s favorite things…. and to be honest, it is quite amazing.

Next time we’d like to see the Indiana Jones show or the Stunt show…. when LA is older they have the Muppets in 3D but we already knew she wouldn’t wear the glasses.

They have a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show/experience that she might have liked but we didn’t do.

We really did love Hollywood Studios, which I still call MGM lol

Epcot

We didn’t do it but we knew there had some neat Living Sea exhibits and some hands on lights/technology things for little ones to play with.

So there is our little run down of what we did and what worked for us…. I hope it helped and if I didn’t answer a question let me know and I’ll do my best. I’m no expert but we had a good time and it was relaxed which equals success in my book!

Theme Parks…Tips   1 comment

We had a lovely vacation recently involving two fantastic Disney days and one blissful do nothing hotel day. Because my husband is fabulous I spent over an hour just enjoying this….

And we both got to relax because LA knows how to properly enjoy a vacation and did this….

He’s great… and that’s why we were celebrating four years of marriage … see how cute we are?

But enough about the relaxing portion of our vacation… I’m writing about the nitty gritty of taking a wee one to the most Magical Place on Earth. Which will also help you if you are taking your child to a really fun place that charges an exorbitant amount of money to ride their rides, stand in line and over pay for glorified fair food 😉 (but dontcha love it!)

We are lucky enough to have a wonderful Auntie in the family (by adoption) who takes us to Disney… she is wonderful and we love her. LA is going to love her more than me someday because she is lovely and sweet and fun … oh, and did I mention she takes her to Disney 😉

So, after some inquiring questions from friends, I figured I’d offer up what worked for us and what didn’t…. I also have another post just a bit about the rides and lines and such here.

We went back in October when LA was 14 months old. I was terrified about her having a meltdown while we waited in line… that was my number one concern. So I packed our back pack with a ton of snacks and small distractible toys, several new junk things from dollar store. There was also our camcorder and camera. A change of clothes for her and all the diaper paraphanelia. Plus snacks for Daddy and me. I also brought our Ergo carrier, the plan being that when we had to hold her still I could try to back carry her if she got wiggly. She wasn’t yet at the stage where she wanted to walk all the time but if carried she prefers to be moving. However, at that stage she was very against the Ergo (now she loves it) but it did not get used a lot.

Both trips were a success but I think our second trip went even smoother because we learned more. Much more streamlined and prepared… and there was only 4 months really in her age so even though she’s grown up a bit I think it was because of how we prepared.

It seems the easiest way to tell you what worked for us is to make a list…. so here you!
1. Stroller- We had a brief debate on taking the quick little stroller vs the big snazzy stroller. We went with the big snazzy because really the only time it was a pain was getting on the tram at the beginning and end of the day…. otherwise it was nice to have the little shelf underneath and a stroller with a recline for nap time. I felt bad seeing some kids laying back in very uncomfortable positions in the Disney strollers that do not recline. Also, I don’t think LA would have slept as long in that type of stroller.
While she slept we took turns going on more adult rides 🙂
So for us big stroller was the way to go… better/longer nap, happy baby, and room to carry some of our junk.
So if you don’t mind a brief struggle on and off the tram the big stroller is the way to go!

2. Claim it– No matter what stroller you have identify it! I clipped a bright monkey toy thing to the handle of the stroller. This made it SO much easier to find when coming off a ride. The Disney associates move your strollers sometimes so you cannot guarantee that it will be where you left it.
I know it was a good idea because on the second trip to Disney we forgot the monkey toy and it was MUCH more annoying to find the stroller.

3. Bring a carrier!

Ok so for our first trip we hardly used it. LA was in a stage where she didn’t like it very much, so we definitely could have done without it for that trip.
And for our second trip we only used it a little bit…. but it was nice for me to know in the back of my mind that it was there as an option. We did use it a bit and I was glad we had it. If your child is happy in one you could even have them nap in it! (but then you can’t sneak on adult rides! )
There are probably even some children who could do the whole day just with a carrier and not a stroller. Personally I like having something to dump my stuff in and LA likes to have her on space on occasion so we needed the stroller. But I liked having the Ergo.

4. Leash them?  Personally, I’m pretty opposed to those leash-y things that you put toddler in so they can walk around but still be “attached” to you. Not judging anyone… I’m just not a fan (especially when I see parents use them at random locations and seem to use it as an excuse to ignore their child)… but that’s just me.

I wrote previously about how I broke down and bought one for our Texas trip because I had images of having to chase her through and airport and leaving my luggage behind, not good when you are on your own.

However, Disney would be another place I could see them being useful. The bonus is that if you have a super independent child it can let them walk a bit and wander in some areas. BUT Disney is so crowded they could still be run over or hurt…. so it’s a catch 22. But there are areas that it could be helpful.

LA is pretty good about holding our hands, she seems to understand it is the price she pays for walking on her own.

btw this is her adorable new little walk… she walks/runs like Phoebe from Friends (if you haven’t seen that episode check it out, it’s hysterical)

And walking with Daddy at 14 months 🙂

5.Bring some distractions but not too many! The first trip we were overflowing with distractions and we really only used a fraction of them. So for our second adventure I packed far less and was wise enough to pack smaller ones (stickers, beads, etc)…. Disney is so full of stimulation it’s really not too hard to distract them with what is around you. We mostly used them when we were trying to buy ourselves some extra time to eat in the restaurants.

And even in the restaurant there are things for distractions…. like straws… LA loves straws!

6. Bring snacks! The greatest toddler distraction of them all!

I tried to bring some that were healthy. I knew there would be very few veggies at Disney so I bought some of the pureed veggie pouch things. LA loves them and we don’t have them often so they are kind of a treat. She also loves apples and pears so we had those. Cheese was good. Crackers and goldfish, obviously. But we were on vacation so she got some illicit pleasures…. like cheese puffs and M&M’s. LA loves M&M’s…. this is her face when she first realized I had them…

And the relief on her face when she realized I was going to give her some….

M&M’s are our big guns…. if we need more time or a big distraction. I do not recommend this trick for all occasions but it works for Disney because it’s a. a matter of survival and b. it’s supposed to be the happiest place on Earth 🙂
So whatever your big guns are… bring them

7. Pack water… the night before I put a couple bottles of water and a sippy cup with water in it in the freezer. They slowly thaw out during the day time so you have cold water… for free! Not to mention it will keep your fruit and cheese cool in your bag.

8. Pack lunch/dinner!! I always forget that Disney lets you bring in food. We totally did not do this in October but we did this last time. Just some easy sandwiches and chips but it was worth it. It meant we only had to buy one meal at the park a day. That saved us like 30 bucks… worth it! Plus as you eat and snack your bag gets lighter!

9. Getting there- The first time we went we drove over in the morning and got there about an hour after opening. It worked fine for us… LA slept on the way over so she was fresh and ready to go. We were a bit tired.
The second time we went we stayed overnight at a hotel the night before. That was obviously nicer 🙂

10. Leaving- The first time we stayed all the way through the end. We watched the Electric Light parade and the fireworks afterwards. LA really liked both. I really think she would have liked them even more the second time we went but we didn’t stay until closing that time…. we were so tired.
But the other reason we didn’t stay was the horror that happens after the Electric Light Parade…. so BE WARNED! here is what happened.

We waited to the left of the castle about 45 minutes before the parade. We thought that would be enough time… it wasn’t really. It was an ok spot for us to watch from because we could see a straight shot down Main Street but we were not close and there were a ton of people. Immediately after the parade there was chaos. It seemed everyone was either trying to get out of the park down Main Street or to go to the other side of the park. It was bumper to bumper strollers and people were NOT nice. I struggled to keep up with Steve and LA in the stroller. I worried about LA getting smacked in the face with people’s swinging bags so I carried her. Then Steve was paranoid about someone knocking me over with her in my arms (and rightly so). It was awful… it took us over a half an hour for us to get from the castle to the opening of Main Street.

We stopped at the Baby Station to change her and leave… but we had taken so long the fireworks started so we watched those. I then nursed LA and we tried to leave the park. More stroller deadlock. Then a REALLY long wait to leave the park with a ton of very pushy, tired people.

I’m not saying the fireworks and parade are not worth it… they are awesome. But either be prepared to deal with what we dealt with (and we were there in the off season) or plan ahead.

Here is what our plan will be for next time (when we are definitely doing the parade and fireworks)…. We will stake out a good comfy spot on the curb at the head of Main Street. A good spot near the entrance to the park with a straight view towards the castle. We will stake it out about one and a half to two hours before the parade is scheduled to start.

Mommy is going to bring a book and take one for the team while Daddy takes LA on another fun ride. Mama will hold the spot for them. They will come back with food and we will sit and eat until it’s time to watch. If baby gets fussy we will take turns looking in shops with her while the other holds the good spot. This way we can all see the parade and we are in a good location to just duck out and avoid the chaos afterwards. Feel free to steal our plan!

11. When to go- From my personal experience and our inside Auntie information October, February and the first part of March is the least busy time to go. It is also, coincidentally, the nicest weather in Florida… it’s a win win!

12. Know when to leave- If you are park hopping time your visit for nap and lunch. On our October trip we just did one day. This last trip we did Hollywood Studios and Disney on Thursday and then Animal Kingdom and Disney on Saturday. We left our lunch in the car in a cooler. LA napped and we ate between parks. Less to carry, a good nap… a little break for us. A win win.

If you can afford to stay on site go to the hotel and take a nap, it’s worth it.

If we had season tickets or several days I would probably recommend going over in the morning and exhausting the kids. Bring them back to the hotel for a nap and go back after dinner…. if you go back at all. All depends on what you can do.

13. Put your baby to bed! I made this mistake… on our between day we rested at the hotel. I should have put LA to bed at her normal time. But it’s vacation I stupidly reasoned and let her take another swim in our giant jaccuzzi tub in our room. The next day we paid for it. On our first day God was with us and we had a perfect day. Our second day, when we did Animal Kingdom/Disney it was the opposite. LA had meltdown after meltdown, the crowds were awful (it was a Saturday vs a school day), and it was so hot…. oh, until it rained. I really wish I’d just put her to bed.

Steve and I both feel like doing two days in a row would be suicide. He is sure that just doing two park days over a three day vacation is a bad idea…. I think it’s doable if you make sure to rest on the between day and put the baby to bed early the night before! Don’t make my mistakes!

14. Use those fast passes! They are amazing…. do some research when you go and don’t waste them. You can only have one at a time on your tickets. So don’t get one for something like Small World, which moves quickly and during certain times of the day has little to no line at all. Use it for the big scary lines.

15. Strategize!– Take some time and look things up. Apple has an iPhone ap that tells you what each ride is and who it’s aimed at. You can get an idea of which have longest lines because it posts wait times.

For example- When we went to Hollywood Studios Auntie C told us that Rockin Roller Coaster and Toy Story have the longest lines in the park. We arrived shortly after the park opened. Auntie C took LA to get fast passes for us all while Steve and I went and rode Rockin Roller Coaster. When we went in the line was 20 minutes long… by the time we came out it was over an hour.

Auntie C got us fast passes for between 11 and 12:30… we walked past the ride about a half an hour later and the fast passes were already being given out for 7 n the evening! So just be aware of which rides have the longest lines and will need fast passes and plan accordingly.

If you don’t want to do the research yourself I can be bribed for some nice cookies or a large Coca Cola to tell you all of my secrets 🙂

16. If you can… get a hotel- I really loved having the hotel… it made it feel more like a vacation rather than a really exhausting, fun day that still ends up back at home. Also, we live about 90 minutes from the park so it’s easy to drive over there and back in a day… in all probability the baby will sleep on the way there and back. So not much difference for them… but huge difference for the adults.

There are a TON of cheap hotel deals. We stayed at a nice one called Mystic Dunes Golf Resort… we had a one bedroom villa with a full kitchen, a hot tub in the bedroom, leather furniture, 4 pools, giant sandbox, free use of putt put golf, ping pong and bicycles for 85 a night.

If you keep an eye on groupon you can get some other amazing deals if you are willing to give some of your time.

There are websites for Time Share deals (search Time Share Disney deals or something)… I’ve seen ones that are two nights in the hotel and two Disney passes for 150 dollars… which is great. You juts have to commit to hear their 2 hour spiel or what not. You can usually only do this once a year, but that works for us. My husband, however, hates going to the spiel… I don’t love it but if you want to give me cash, tickets and a snazzy hotel so you can talk to me about something I cannot afford all while I munch on your free breakfast/lunch… by all means go ahead.

For example our hotel had a deal of they would give you 50$ cash, two tickets to their expensive golf course, and two more nights at their hotel for listening to their pitch. To me, that is worth 2 hours of my time….

If you don’t stay overnight before or after or both… bring PJ’s in the car for your children. Make sure they have a fresh diaper (if necessary) and are cuddled up with whatever they like to sleep with in PJ’s and head home. If you are lucky they will transfer to bed and you can pass out yourself!

17. Remember it’s supposed to be fun… I can’t tell you how many parents we saw shouting at their child or looking annoyed or run down or unhappy. I think there is pressure to get your money’s worth (and with good reason) and to make it this amazing time that it can get to you. You are trying so hard to make things perfect that you snap. Just make a short list of things in your mind that you’d like to do and everything else is extra… and relax. I know, easier said than done… but just remember you can always come back.

So…. those are the best tips I can think of…

This is a really long post and I actually wanted to tell you about the rides and lines and what not… I will put that in another post 😉

If I remember more tips I’ll post them… if you have more I’d love to see them.