Monday, December 31, 2012

Our Christmas Eve

As usual, we spent Christmas Eve at my parents' house.  Because we spent the week before Christmas battling a stomach bug and catching up from being out of town (no worries, I will finish updating about Disney soon), we spent the last few days before Christmas rushing around like maniacs.  We thought we were so prepared before we left - and we were thank goodness.  If we hadn't gotten the stomach bug we would have been in great shape! 
On Christmas Eve Brian had to run out for stocking stuffers, and then I had to go grocery shopping.  We finally made it to my parents house around 4.  After we ate the lasagna, we all headed to the den to open presents.  We also watched Christmas with Vince Gill for the twentieth consecutive year.  Yes, it's that good.
Reese decided to pass out the presents that she made for everyone first.  She spent her special day with my mom before Christmas making door hangers for the family, and she was very excited to give them to us.
Wyatt entered the world of Legos this Christmas. Very exciting stuff!  He is so into building the Lego contraptions, and this look captures his excitement!  He got this helicopter first and my parents also got him a fire truck set.  He loves looking the instructions and putting things together when he can...otherwise he asks for Daddy's help.
Hudson checking out his Elmo DVD's and his new monkey. He was definitely overwhelmed by the excitement of Christmas.
Finley spent her first Christmas Eve sitting on the couch with Brian and I.  She could barely contain her excitement.  Ha!
The kids spent the rest of the evening running around the house and playing with their toys.  We had a great Christmas Eve, but we needed to get home before they were too sleepy to stay awake on the ride home!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

A little late (so far behind on blogging, but the stomach bug got us ALL when we got home), but I had to share!  The pictures were taken by Sarah Halstead at a Christmas tree farm.  I love how they turned out, and I think Sarah did such a great job with the set up of the bed and cookies and milk! 
I'll be back on to update about Christmas of course, and the rest of our Disney trip at some point!  Merry Christmas!
And for fun, the last two years of Christmas cards are here.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Epcot, Wilderness Lodge, and Magic Kingdom - Day 4!

As I alluded to in my last post, things did not go well for us after we got back to the hotel.  Everyone went to bed okay.  Well, I mean, not Hudson.  He basically tried to become a Pack and Play escape artist last week.  And when he wasn't running out to us (with his sleep sack still on), he was jumping up while everyone else was laying down shouting "Surprise!"  So that was, you know, loads of fun.
Anyway, everyone in the room was asleep by 9.  I decided to take a shower, and get everything prepared for the next day at Epcot (backpack, autograph books, clothes...I need a real vacation).  That was all finished by 10, so I turned on the TV quietly, set on the closed caption and legitimately thought I was going to get to watch (and apparently read) the Parenthood sob fest in peace (if you aren't watching that show you are really missing great television).
I made it 20 minutes before Reese started crying.  And then she immediately got sick.  All over our bed.  And the carpet.
At a hotel.  At 10:30 at night.
I'll let that sink in.
So, Brian and I are kind of semi-pros at handling children's vomit.  If there was a gold medal awarded for team work in these situations, we would totally deserve it.  Our kids have sensitive stomachs.  While I got Reese into the tub and cleaned her off (while she was miserable and tired and grossed out), he called housekeeping and did as much cleaning as he could. 
The housekeeper came and changed the sheets and the mattress protector, but we were kind of stuck on the carpets.  Fortunately I packed bleach wipes for us to pick it all up with by hand.  GROSS! We spent the rest of the night waking up every two hours with Reesie.  Poor girl was miserable. 
She could barely move the next morning, and Brian and I decided the very best decision was for him to take the boys  to Epcot while I stayed at the hotel with the girls.  It was very tough for us to split up, but we didn't want the boys exposed to it anymore than they already had been, and the idea of keeping everyone locked up in the room seemed impractical and kind of torturous for us and them.
Finley and Reese slept the morning away (I know Finley was very happy to have her routine back).  After I called the housekeeper to deep clean the room and steam clean the carpets, I settled in with the laptop to watch some shows online.  I guess you could call it my vacation "spa day"!
Once Reese woke up she showered, changed her jammies, and then settled in with special coloring books we bought her from the hotel gift shop to keep her busy in the hotel room.  She also drafted a note to Santa with her only request for Christmas.  This is not a joke.

The boys spent the morning at Epcot (we only do two things- Nemo and then Test Track), and then they headed to the Magic Kingdom.  How precious are these two?
It looks adorable, but they were actually shouting "Shark!  Shark!" and then diving on the ground.  Because that's what boys do.
The boys saw this rainbow from the Magic Kingdom and I could see it from our hotel while the girls took their afternoon naps. 
Reese went the entire day without getting sick, and she had all of her energy back by 5.  I asked if she wanted to take the short boat ride to the Magic Kingdom to meet the boys, and she said she was up to it, so we decided to head out!

We stayed for a few hours to see the castle light up and just enjoyed the park.  We didn't ride anything, but we looked in a few shops and then watched the Electrical Light Parade.

My little trooper.  I can not tell you how good she was all week.  There were moments where I know she was just thinking "I just want to get wrapped up in my swaddle-me, lay in my comfy bed, and enjoy the quiet!"  Poor girl!

While I could have done without the stomach bug, I am very thankful that Reese still got to take advantage of a little bit of fun at the Magic Kingdom!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hollywood Studios - Day 3!

On the third day of our trip we ventured to Hollywood Studios (as evidenced in the title).  The day started with drama.  Wyatt wasn't being particularly obedient at the hotel, we got off the bus, got to the bag check, and.... we left our backpack on the bus.  While not particularly earth shattering (we still had the camera, diapers, and autograph books), the backpack still contained the kids' Columbia fleeces, changes of clothes, and my nursing cover.  While I am hit or miss on my use of the cover (I prefer the modesty it allows, but hate to see my baby sweat because someone else might be offended by the sight of her eating), I still like to have it as an option!
After Brian called the hotel to report that the backpack was left behind, I ventured to Toy Story Mania to get Fast Passes for later in  the day, and Brian headed over to sign Wyatt and Reese up for the Jedi Training Academy.
The next two hours were a blur - I ended up leaving the park to check buses for the backpack, checked with Guest Relations, and they still hadn't found it.  But lo and behold, after I had been back with Brian and the kids for 30 minutes they called to say that it had been found and was waiting at the front gate!
We visited with an army guy while we waited for Brian to come back with our backpack!
Pretty classic Hudson face.  He's probably in the middle of saying "Da-ddddyyyyyy!"
Reesie begged me to get her face painted.  I resisted at first because she was about to fight Darth Vader, and she wanted a Tinkerbell design.  Then I decided it was a battle that wasn't worth the fight. She is only going to get once chance in life to fight Darth Vader with Tinkerbell face paint!
If you ask Hudson now what the highlight of his trip was, he will say "Jake."  He loves Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and he was very excited to meet his buddy.  We went to the Disney Junior show afterwards, and while it was nice, it features some shows that aren't as popular in my house - Mickey and Jake are our favorites, but we aren't big on Handy Manny or Little Einsteins. I read an article on the day we got home that said they are taking out Manny and the Einsteins and adding Doc McStuffins and Sophia the First.  That will be a huge bonus for us on our next trip!  Even Hudson asks to watch Doc!
These kids had a blast fighting Darth Vader!  Reese was very, very excited.
Brian and I enjoyed the show, so we didn't take too many pictures (Disney Photopass did it, so we will get some)!  They had so much fun!  Wyatt and Reese both got light sabers later in the week, and they pretended that he was the Jedi master teaching her.  He basically followed the exact script they use on stage!  Ha!
He wanted his face painted, too (of course).  Fortunately we waited until after the Jedi Training Academy.  I don't think Darth Vader would have considered a boy with Darth Maul face paint to be a credible threat :).
Hudson passed out while we were at The Little Mermaid show.  He ended up "shopping" with Finley and I while Brian took the big kids to the Indiana Jones show.  It started to rain, so we did our best to avoid it.
We went to see Wreck It Ralph and Vennelope.  It was nice and dry inside, so it was a good stop.  They also provided coloring tables for the kids, and Reese took full advantage.  She loves to color!
And after looking at this precious picture (I love Rapunzel's rainbow hair), I'm starting to wonder if those colored pencils and the germs they spread set us up for our next adventure - a stomach bug on vacation...dun dun duuunnnnnn.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Animal Kingdom - Day 2!

We spent the second day of our "Disney Vacation" at Animal Kingdom.  Our first stop was the Safari.  Wyatt went into near panic mode when he realized that the "poacher" story line is no longer a part of the adventure.  He's been asking for years why Animal Kingdom keeps letting the poachers back in at night, but he was actually bothered that they weren't there anymore!
Hudson loved it!  He is much more into animals this year, and he loved seeing the giraffes, elephants, lions, and zebras.

We went to visit with the characters next.  Hudson really warmed up to  the idea of taking his book up to the characters to get their autographs, but he was pretty scared to get his picture taken with him.
Doesn't Reese look thrilled to be standing next to Pocahontas?  I promise she was!  Even Wyatt was happy to meet her because she was a Native American.  He still believes that these are the "real" characters, but Pocahontas became a bit of an issue.  "Mom, if Pocahontas lived a long, long time ago with John Smith, why is she here?  I thought you told me she got sick and died?"  Damn me and my need to teach my children the historical truths behind Disney's animated films.
I soooo wish I had time the week before we left to get his hair cut.  It was in his eyes the entire trip.  I am taking him tomorrow after school because it is pathetic! 

How little does Huddoo look with Tigger?  So sweet.  The rain foiled our day a bit again, but we were still able to have fun.

Allow me to take a moment to tell you about what is probably the absolute best parenting decision that Brian and I have ever made

Wyatt and Reese spent the entire week before we left watching a Disney Behind the Scenes documentary on Netflix.  They talked over and over and over again about riding the Dinosaur ride.  Like, they were both so excited to try it.  Until we got there.  Wyatt was too scared, but Reese wanted to ride.  We decided to just go. Wyatt tried to back out, but he had been talking about it so much that we didn't want him to miss it.

A smart parent probably would have ridden the ride first.  Or actually listened to their kid. But we thought he'd be disappointed if he didn't ride.

We were probably about as wrong as two people have probably ever been in their lives.  Wyatt spent the ride with his head on my shoulder crying.  I leaned over him saying, "It's okay, Mommy's here."  Over and over again.  Thinking that since I wanted to punch myself in the face for making my poor little boy sit through this, he was probably already plotting his revenge.
Reese was apparenly fine until the end.  That's when she broke down and Brian basically had to do the exact same thing.  Seriously.  Parents of the year right here. 
Fortunately it was one of those rides that takes pictures, so we actually got to see the photographic proof of our terrible parenting.  I'm not sure why we didn't buy it.  It really would have been an awesome souvenir to hang up.  And a good reminder for us to listen to our kids.
Forunately, they forgave us and no longer seem to be holding a grudge.  Probably because we took them to Downtown Disney to eat at the T-Rex restaurant (it was bright and airy so they weren't terrified), and then we let them build their own dinosaurs.  Because after the day they had, that was probably exactly what the needed.  To snuggle up with dinosaurs at bedtime.
Hudson has basically been to Build A Bear so much that he's an expert.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Magic Kingdom - Day 1!

As you can imagine, we were very excited to get to the Magic Kingdom on Sunday!  Because we are "Disney People," it is always exciting to come in and walk down Main Street for the first time.  But it's also amazing because our visit this year coincides with the opening of the brand new Fantasyland expansion.  We were all very excited to check it out.  We got the park extra early because we had extra magic hours that day, so we started visiting some characters before the lines got too long.
We met up with Snow White first....
And then Mary Poppins. (Honestly, Mary is probably not a character she's entirely familiar with.  This is more for me :)).
 We visited with Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, and Rapunzel next.  The princesses are just so amazing with these kids.  They know what to say to each of them to make them feel so special.  Reesie loves meeting them.  Rapunzel was talking to them about her hair!  Doesn't Hudson look enthused?  Wyatt was kind of over visiting princesses at this point, so he didn't really jump in on the action.  It makes me a little sad because he used to love visiting with them, but I know that he's all boy now and doesn't want a kiss on the cheek from some girl!
How cute is Finley's Minnie Mouse outfit?  She doesn't look to happy here, I know!  She's just grumpy.  Which reminds me that Wyatt has come across two Grumpy shirts in the shops here, and he's suggested to both Brian and I that we should buy them to wear when we are upset with him.  Ha!
Hudson was soooo excited to meet Buzz!
Family shot.  Excuse my Ergo hanging down.  Although Reese keeps telling me I'm in fashion because it looks like Ariel's fins!
Trying to get the Sword in the Stone to come out again.  I guess that something that's a once in a lifetime opportunity
Hudson wanted to get on it, too.  Reese is sulking because she didn't get to go first (trust me folks, it's not always a picnic.  Not even at "The Happiest Place on Earth.").
When we ventured over to Fantasyland we visited with Gaston.  Let's just say, he's just like he is in the movie.  He told Reese that she must be very excited to meet him.
Ariel has a new section in the new Fantasyland as well.  It was very exciting for Reese because it's the first time she's seen Ariel in her mermaid get up!  She taught Reese a special Starfish dance!
Baby Minnie hanging out with Daddy!  She got to go on her very first ride on Sunday - Dumbo!  She was tucked in her Ergo the whole time, but she definitely seemed to enjoy it.  If falling asleep counts as "enjoying it."  Ha!
 Brian and I outside Gaston's Tavern.  They have a new Disney World concoction on sale - LeFeu's Brew.  It's frozen apple juice and mango and toasted marshmallow and it is yummy!  I also peaked my head into the new store and bought myself a wine glass with Belle and the Beast on it.  Because when I drink my wine, I want it to be Disney-fied.

It was a HOT day, but we had a great time on our first day at the Magic Kingdom!  I love that even though every day has it's own rough spot at some point along the way (can you say "meltdown?"), we're still able to have so much fun together.  One thing I love is seeing parents with their teenagers here.  It's just such a wonderful place to come and keep your kids engaged because they still have things that big kids like to do, too! 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sea World!

We had a bit of a crazy week last week!  After having the house painted and then trying to get it all put back together, I also had to pack us for a week long vacation to Disney World!

We decided to switch things up this time.  Instead of leaving first thing in the morning, we left after the kids got out of school on Friday.  It was kind of nice because I didn't feel particularly rushed to get out the door at 5AM! We drove down to the Georgia line Friday night, and then finished the drive to Florida on Saturday morning. We got to Sea World with enough time to enjoy most of the day!
I have a confession.  I totally used to judge people who put their kids on leashes.  Seriously.  But honestly, who wants to put their kids on a leash? I completely get it now.  I feel terrible keeping Hudson locked down in a stroller all day, but he also can't be trusted to stay with us while we're at a huge park if we let him walk.  And with 4 kids to look after, I'm not sure I could trust myself to watch everyone like they need to be watched if he were loose.  So yeah, he's on a leash.  He thinks it's a back pack (and he loves back packs), and he seems to like it just fine!
My sweet, wild, silly girl.
After checking out the aquarium, a sea otter show, and stopping for a million bathroom breaks, we finally ate lunch!  I love this little guy.  He's high energy.  Sitting still and being patient aren't in his DNA (just watch his Dad try to do either of those things).  He wants to move, he wants to do what he wants to do, and he's not a great listener.  But he is a little boy. Sometimes it's hard to remember that he's just 5 because he is so smart and athletic, and he is interested in so many things.  And because he has an exceptionally bad temper sometimes (that's also in his DNA. It's double coded if you catch my drift.) Brian and I keep reminding ourselves that while he is the oldest, and he does know better a lot of the time, he is just 5.  He's still unsure of himself, he doesn't always want the responsibility of being the oldest, and he really does have worries of his own. And while I used to think 5 was the most annoying age ever (sorry Katie), I definitely don't feel that way anymore! 
They have a whole "Polar Express" set up at Sea World. We've been on it before, and it's fun, but it was not a line we felt like waiting in on a Saturday.  Yikesabee was it ever long!  We decided to just take pictures instead.
Aaaah Hudson.  He gets smiles wherever he goes.  He is just so loving and cuddly.  He must have given Brian a hundred hugs and kisses that day.
Finley only stays in the stroller for small bits of time.  She definitely prefers being carried in the Moby wrap or the Ergo to sitting in a stroller (my back would prefer a bit more stroller time)!  I've started calling her Flipper.  You should hear some of the squeals that come out of this little girl. She sounds just like a little dolphin!
This is a rare moment. 
Tried to take a picture of the boys in their matching shirts.  No one ever looks at the camera at the same time!
After taking the kids to look at sharks, and then taking them on some rides we made our way to the dolphins pretty late.  They loved them.  It was definitely a highlight for Wyatt and Reese.  The dolphins came right up to them!
We didn't make it to see Shamu :(.  It is really incredibly hard to make it to the shows you want to see, and do the rides, and maneuver the park, and EAT all in one day.  We left the park around 6 to make our way to our "home" for the week - The Wilderness Lodge!