Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sweet Ellie

Eric took this portrait of Ellie on the swings at our favorite park back in early March, and somehow I never got around to sharing it. It slipped my mind until I was going through my pictures to put together my "March Catch-Up" post, but I didn't want to lump it in there, because it is one of my most favorite Ellie portraits.

This is my girl, at three years old, happily swinging at her favorite playground. Isn't she perfect?


Friday, May 1, 2015

Bedtime Prayers

We have followed the same bedtime routine with Ellie for some time now: after the teeth are brushed, pajamas donned, and so on, Ellie climbs into bed and Eric and I pray the Lord's Prayer with her. Then, we sing "Be Near Me Lord Jesus," which is the last verse of "Away in the Manger" and the prayer my parents sang with me before bed when I was a girl. Then Eric gives her a "smooch" and leaves, while I stay behind and sing "You Are My Sunshine."

I have known Ellie knows the words to "You Are My Sunshine" for a long time now, and she should, as I have been singing it to her since before she was born. Sometimes, she even sings it to E.J.

But it dawned on me a few weeks ago that with the nightly repetition, she probably knows our prayers, too.

So, Eric and I tested it out and said our prayers responsively one night. We would say the beginning of a phrase, then pause for her to finish it. And finish it she did, correctly, every time. Even the big words like "trespasses" and "temptation."

The sound of Ellie's sweet voice reciting the Lord's Prayer brings so much joy to my heart.

VIDEO: Ellie prays the Lord's Prayer (note: there is no picture. It was dark in her room so the video is just black!)
***If you cannot see play the above video, click here to watch it on YouTube***

And then came "Be Near Me." It was so special to hear her singing along to a prayer that has such meaning for our family.

VIDEO: Ellie Sings "Be Near Me Lord Jesus" (Again, just a black picture!)
***If you cannot play the above video, click here to watch it on YouTube***

She is one special little girl and I am so proud of her.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Final March Catch-Up

At long last! As of the end of this post, I will officially talked my way through our entire March 2015. The seemingly impossible has happened. Phew! What a recap rampage! Now that March will be over, I can get started talking about April...now that it's almost May. I'm timely like that.

Anyway. In addition to all the birthday party/Easter/Disney fun I've been sharing with you, we had other fun during the month of March, as well. Smaller fun, I guess you might say, but fun nonetheless. So let's look back at March.

Things started out crazy, with a big mock trial project for me to kick off the month. That, of course, is what got me so behind around here, because my work demanded all of my free time (and then some) for a couple weeks, and when that wrapped up, I had to go hardcore after my various projects for Ellie's birthday party. I have had a case/project to work on just weeks before Ellie's party for three years running now—yes, that's EVERY SINGLE YEAR that I've been throwing parties for her. Just to keep it interesting! Adding an infant into the mix this year added an extra twist, but hey, we managed! And it's always nice to have work come in.

Short nap + Eric still at work + I have a ton of work to do = let the baby keep himself entertained on my back while I get things done!
(Also, there's a half-completed project for Ellie's party on the table behind me!)

As for the kids, Ellie continued to exert her influence over her daily outfits, which has sparked many a conversation with chuckling onlookers when we go out in public. (Personally, I love that she rocks whatever makes her feel good at the moment!)

Daniel Tiger sighting at the playground

Sensible outfit she chose for naptime

E.J. continued to dream of a life on the outside.

He dreams of FREEDOM

We went to the zoo, because we always go to the zoo, but this time it was largely to see the new Titanoboa (prehistoric megasnake) exhibit. Ellie was unimpressed but E.J. became fast friends with a rattlesnake.

Titanoboa!

E.J., me, and a rattlesnake. Not pictured: E.J. trying to grab and eat the rattlesnake's head through the glass.

Doc Ellie was also on hand at the zoo to administer check-ups to the goats.

"His heart sounds good!"

We spent a lot of time and had a lot of fun at the playground.

Ellie and Eric running and playing

E.J. having fun, as always

Ellie learned to slide headfirst!

Ellie started napping with a few toys in her bed...

She's not lonely, that's for sure.

...and demonstrated impressive mess-making skills on days when she opted out of her nap.

Oh my.

We played at the new Imagination Station in Hemming Park.

Fun with blocks!

We made paper duck wings and silly faces at storytime.

She wore those duck wings till they fell apart.

At the storytime right before Ellie's birthday, we even got to meet Corduroy.

So happy!

We explored the new southbank riverwalk, which is quite nice.

Wearing all the babies for our walk along the river

Eric and Ellie made up a "run, hide and scare Mama" game

Riverwalk scenery

And, of course, the sibling love continued, as Ellie developed a fondness for "eating the baby."

They both love it.

And that was the rest of our March!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Disney Day 3: Swimming!

The title of this post is a bit misleading, because we didn't actually do anything Disney-related on the third and final day of our spring break Disney trip, but hey, this is better organizationally. So, forgive my poor labeling.

The final day in Orlando was spent bumming around the hotel. We slept in (mind you, "slept in" refers to how late two small children "sleep in," so, like...7:00 a.m.?) then got dressed and grabbed the free breakfast at the hotel. It wasn't particularly impressive, but hey, we made do.

Rocking his resort wear for hotel breakfast

We then went back to the hotel where we put E.J. down for a nap (unsuccessfully) while we packed up our things. When we gave up on the E.J. sleeping idea, we all donned our swimsuits and made our way to the hotel pool.

This kid is ready to hit the pool!

There was both a regular swimming pool and a little kiddie pool, and we only made use of the kiddie pool. The water was a little chilly, but Ellie didn't seem to mind. She loved splashing! This was E.J.'s first time actually swimming in a pool, and he seemed to enjoy himself, too.

At the pool with the kiddos

E.J.'s first swim!

Ellie splashing!

Big splash!

Handsome pool dudes

Having so much fun!

Family shot!

Not surprisingly, Ellie didn't want to get out when it was time to go, but we were on a check-out schedule so eventually we did have to get dried off.

Drying off poolside

We changed into dry clothes, loaded up the car, checked out and hit the road back to Jacksonville. That was it for our spring break vacation!

From the looks of it, the kids fully enjoyed themselves!

We really had such a great time. Ellie keeps breaking our hearts because she loves reminiscing about all the fun things we did and characters we met. Since this trip, she has accumulated more princess dresses and accessories (wigs, primarily) and she keeps saying things like, "We forgot to take this dress to Cinderella's castle, to show Cinderella and Rapunzel this dress! Cinderella and Rapunzel will love this dress. We have to take this dress to Cinderella's castle!" She's just itching to go back, and I wish we could swing annual passes for her, but alas, this is not the year for that. It's so nice to know she had such a great, memorable time, though! We love making these memories with our little family.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Disney Day 2: Festival of Fantasy

Let's talk more Disney trip!

We got a bit of a later start than anticipated for our second day at Disney World, because E.J. ended up sleeping in a little later than we expected (after a rough night of sleep, so don't think we're all super well-rested over here or anything crazy like that). But, we got ourselves up and moving and soon were at the park for another beautiful day.

As we entered the park we ran into Mary Poppins, so we kicked things off with another character encounter.

Mary Poppins and a penguin

We also caught a little of the "Move It! Shake It! Dance and Celebrate It!" street party on our way up Main Street.

What a peppy start to the day!

We made our way back over to Fantasyland, where we had an appointment for our first FastPass of the day at Enchanted Tales with Belle. Ellie was sort of "meh" on the "storytime," but she was psyched about actually meeting Belle. She still talks about it, always pointing out that Belle gave her a bookmark.

Ellie and Belle

So excited!

After Belle, we walked over to the teacups and met up with Alice in Wonderland and the White Rabbit. Ellie was pumped about this meeting, too, and E.J. enjoyed playing peek-a-boo with the White Rabbit.

The whole gang

By then it was time for our next FastPass, for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rollercoaster. Eric and I took turns riding this one solo. We put E.J. in the stroller, and whichever one of us was not riding the rollercoaster was in charge of wearing Ellie and pacing around, trying to get E.J. to nap (unsuccesfully).

Super Dad!

The ride itself was great! The rollercoaster wasn't anything crazy but was fun, and the various theme features were on point. I didn't even notice the Evil Queen (as the old lady) knocking on the door to the dwarves' cabin at the end, but Eric did! He was also fancy and snapped some pictures on the ride. I'm too chicken to try such things!

Eric thinks he's soooo cool.

Inside the mines

Snow White dancing with the dwarves at the end of the ride

The Evil Queen at the door!

In light of his recent YouTube fame, I really wanted to see Gaston (from Beauty and the Beast) out by his tavern. The key to seeing Gaston is that you have to be in line for his next appearance before he ends his prior one. We saw that Gaston was there, and got in line even though the line was technically already "cut off," and waited for the next shift. We were about third or fourth in line for his next appearance this way, which is important because people really want to poke fun at him so their turns can run long. Of course, this meant we waited about 40 minutes to see him. We killed the time with a modest cinnamon roll, apples and caramel and a LaFou's Brew from the tavern.

Clearly, by "modest cinnamon roll," I actually mean "a cinnamon roll bigger than Ellie's head."

Ellie enjoying our LaFou's Brew

Ellie wanted nothing to do with Gaston when we reached the front, so E.J. and I were the lucky ones to meet him. He was very funny, though we didn't do anything crazy to try to get a reaction out of him. Even still, by the end of our meeting E.J. had quite enough of Gaston's egotistical, misogynistic attitude!

Gaston!

E.J. was quite offended.

After Gaston we walked over to the Dumbo ride, which had only a modest wait. Ellie and Eric rode that while I nursed E.J. under the big top tent nearby. (Fellow nursing moms - I was glad to find this spot! It was shady, with comfy chairs and couches and outlets for your electronics.)

Because we didn't have a FastPass for this one, Eric and Elie were given a buzzer when they entered. There's a big play area where you can kill time while you wait for your turn on the ride, and when your turn comes, they buzz you (like at a restaurant).

The play area inside. It was a little intense for Ellie, but looked pretty cool!

Eric and Ellie on Dumbo

Love that little hand waving!

We got in line to meet Donald and Goofy at Pete's Silly Sideshow, but Ellie changed her mind about that encounter and E.J. started fussing so we just left. E.J. fell asleep almost immediately thereafter.

Nap on the go!

We had a FastPass to meet Cinderella and Rapunzel, so we got in line for that. That was by far the longest we waited for any FastPass, and it was a long wait. E.J. woke up while we were in line, and we still had time to wait. When we finally got in, however, it was as worth it as ever. Ellie was, naturally, thrilled to see Cinderella, and they had quite a little conversation. I wish I could hear what they were talking about!

Ellie and Cinderella

Ellie also loved meeting Rapunzel. They "twirled" together!

Rapunzel!

We were all ready for something to eat by this point, so I nursed E.J. in the wrap while we walked to Casey's Corner for a little meal.

A babywearing win: Wearing E.J. in this wrap allowed me to discreetly nurse him on the go, while still having enough hands free to try my luck at the Sword in the Stone! Now that is multitasking.

I have to share a ridiculous story of something that happened at this point. When we got to Casey's Corner, Eric and Ellie went inside to get food while I stood outside and waited for a table to open up, still nursing E.J. in the wrap. While I stood along the walkway, a young girl (roughly 10-12 years old, I would guess) walked by me with her father. As she passed me, she yelled, "BIG BELLY! BIG BELLY! BIG BELLY!" and smacked E.J.'s back/butt in the wrap! Her dad laughed and said, "No, that's not a big belly, that's a real baby!" I just stood there in shock. I was appalled. I mean, look. I don't know this girl's story, or what might have led her to think that hitting a stranger (what she apparently thought was a pregnant belly) and commenting on said stranger's large size was appropriate. Perhaps there are factors at play there that I have no way of understanding from this brief interaction. But what really shocked me the most was her dad's reaction—or rather, lack thereof. I cannot imagine what would have to happen to my head that would allow me to watch my child do that to a person (and in this case, it wasn't actually a pregnant woman, even—it was a nursing infant) and not immediately stop and fall on my own face apologizing to the person. But instead of that sort of response, this father laughed and kept on walking. Unfortunately, I was unable to remove my jaw from the floor in time to say anything before they were lost in the crowd. But trust me, that father has since gotten quite an earful from the angry mama bear in my head.

So after this encounter I was still standing there waiting for a table, generally hating people, when a woman at one of the tables noticed me and motioned me over to take her table before they stood up. Thank you, kind woman, for restoring a little of my faith in humanity. Eric and Ellie returned shortly thereafter with our food and we had a delicious meal (and Puffs for E.J.).

Yummy snack, with the castle behind us!

After we ate there was only a short time left before the afternoon Festival of Fantasy parade, so we hung out on the grass while we waited.

These cuties!

Handsome W. men

The parade itself was excellent! The floats were beautiful and all of our favorite characters were accounted for.

Beauty and the Beast to kick things off

Prince Charming and Cinderella

Anna and Elsa

Rapunzel, with trusty frying pan in hand (Flynn Rider is on there, too)

Ariel and Flounder

The Maleficent dragon

These guys!

Pinnochio

Dumbo

Mickey and Minnie to finish things up

One notable story from the parade: the fire-breathing dragon from Maleficent was a major feature, and I was certain that my scared-of-anything-even-remotely-unsettling toddler would flip. So, I put in some effort to keep it out of her view as it passed us, especially when it was breathing fire. Later, however, she saw a picture of it on Eric's computer and said, "That's Stuffy!" So apparently I didn't have to worry, because she thought it was the dragon from Doc McStuffins. A common mistake, I'm sure.

The Maleficent dragon, as compared to Stuffy. The resemblance is uncanny!

By the end of the parade we were wearing down a bit but weren't quite ready to call it quits, so we rode the train around the park.

Sibling cuddles on the train

A sample of our train ride scenery

E.J. spent most of the ride leaning over the back of our seat, smiling at the girls behind us!

Then, we finally wrapped things up. We took the ferry back to the parking lot and returned to our hotel.

The boys on the ferry

We were beat!

Phew! Long day!

After getting the kids to bed, Eric and I relaxed with some dinner, TV and beer in our souvenir goblets from Be Our Guest/Gaston's Tavern.

That's more like it.

It was a perfect end to a perfect couple days of Disney fun!