Tuesday, September 13, 2016

16 months & full of trouble

Preston is 16 months & wired for trouble. We are in the tantrum & seeking independence stage and it can be rough. Preston basically thinks he's 4 like Eloise and wants to do everything she does - use utensils, drink out of cups & play like a big kid. Some days it feels like we are playing this crazy game of "Preventing  Preston from killing himself." For example, it's super fun to fall backwards off the couch, right? WRONG. Good thing I've got a great hair stylist because Mama is getting more gray hair everyday! 
One of my favorite times with Preston is bed time because he's cuddly and sweet. Even he has a bookshelf full of books, he loves these 2. He grabs then every night. It's so cute when he laughs at the funny parts too. 

Photo proof of Preston's antics

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Disney Vacation 2016

Our Disney trip was so full of memories and I did my best to capture all of it. Believe it or not, I did not bring any of my cameras.  I just had my phone and we purchased the photo package from the cruise and one of the days at Magic Kingdom.  Trust me - it's worth it!  I had close to 500 photos from the trip so there is no way that I could put all the photos into 1 blog post so I made a slideshow! Click HERE to watch it and you can read below all of the highlights. Enjoy!

Saturday 8/27
We left Chicago bright & early in the midst of a huge rain storm.  I highly recommend doing curbside checkin when you've got kiddos.  It was super fast and allowed us to get rid of our bags so much faster.  We basically ran thru security as it was not that busy.  Once we were back at the gates, we passed the time with the moving walkway. It was a hit! Preston was fascinated by the takeoff & loved looking out the window.  After Preston settled down a bit, he slept for 1.5 hours of the 2+ hour flight. Eloise did great as well and loved watching her movies. 

The first part of our vacation included 2 days at Magic Kingdom and staying at the Art of Animation. Thanks to Brad and his charm, we got upgraded to family suite in the CARS area.   We had 2 bathrooms. 3 sleeping areas with 1 being a master suite.  Eloise slept in the Murphy bed or "secret bed" and loved it. 
After getting settled in our room, we had lunch and then headed to the Magic Kingdom.  We did the meal plan for food and it was great.  I would highly recommend it.   As we were entering the Magic Kingdom, I was so excited for Eloise to see Cinderella's castle.  She was in awe when she finally saw it.  We opted to do the Fast Passes for some rides.  The 1st ride we did was the Tea Cups.  Because of some earlier rain storms, some of the outdoor performances were cancelled but Disney still delivered with the Rainy Day parade.  Eloise was so excited when she saw Mickey & Minnie.  The rest of the evening was pretty great too because we go to meet Daisy Duck, Minnie Mouse & Ariel.  We wrapped our long day by watching the Electric Parade.  

Sunday 8/28
We returned to Magic Kingdom for round 2.  It was a hot day but we were armed with lots of water.  Eloise & Brad did the Dumbo ride to kick off the day.  Next up was the Barnstormer roller coaster where Eloise told me, "Mommy! Put your arms up!"  We did the obligatory train ride around the park and ended up over by Splash Mountain.  Eloise has turned into a little dare devil and insisted on riding it with Brad.  After a long day at Magic Kingdom, we opted for pizza back in our room for dinner followed by some nighttime swimming.  

Monday 8/29
We left the resort and headed out to Port Canaveral to board the Disney Dream.  As we checked in, 
Eloise got a birthday button to wear everyday.  To top it off, our stateroom was decorated with birthday decor. Eloise was most excited to sleep in her bunk bed that came out of the ceiling.  Preston was disappointed that he did not get to sleep up there but was happy just to climb up and down the ladder. 
Tuesday 8/30
Nassau, Bahamas 
We opted to skip the excursions this Port and just walked around seaside. Everyone enjoyed some fresh coconut water right out of coconuts. Back on the boat, we hit the pool areas. Eloise went down the water slide. She's fearless! Preston loved Nemo's Reef.  While Preston was napping, Eloise went to the Bippidi Boppidi Boutique. On our way, we ran into Minnie in the elevator. She escorted Eloise to the boutique. Jess was her fairy godmother. She picked out the Anna coronation dress.  After dinner, Eloise participated in the princess procession where she was introduced to all the passengers with Princess Belle. That night, she met Minnie, Mickey & Rapunzel.         

Wednesday 8/31
Happy Birthday Eloise!
We woke her up singing Happy Birthday and she asked, "where's the cake?" We spent the day at Castaway Cay. What beats swimming in the ocean & making sandcastles on your birthday? Preston loved the sand & sea. He loved kicking up the sand as he was walking into the water. 
At dinner, our waiter had a special birthday cake for Eloise.  One of the best parts of the Disney cruises is the Pirate night. We all dressed up. Preston looked so cute! Eloise got to meet pirate Daisy. Eloise enjoyed the pirate dance party until past 11pm. 

Thursday 9/1 
We did the Princess Gathering where we got to meet Cinderella, Belle, Rapunzel & Snow White. We also did the Frozen Gathering and got to meet Elsa & Anna.  We had an afternoon full of water sliding & swimming. Our final dinner was at Animator's Palate and it is my favorite restaurant.  Crush, the turtle from Nemo, sang Happy Birthday by only using the word "Dude." Eloise was so amazed by it she said, "Hey! It's me Eloise!" 

It was great trip!  Can't wait to do it again! 

Here are some more videos from the trip. Click HERE to watch. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Eloise is 4 & Fabulous

Dear Eloise,

How is it that another year has passed and you are 4 years old!  It was only fitting that we celebrated your 4th Birthday on the Disney Cruise and you were made into a real Princess to celebrate.  Everything about that experience captures the best parts of you - your wonderful imagination, love for all things girly, and a flare for drama!  This past year, you've turned into this tall, strong, bruise-shinned, beautiful, articulate little lady.  There is not a day that goes by that you say or do something, I just shake my head and smile and think, "who is this kid?"  How did I get so lucky to end up with a little girl like you?  You love so hard and have such excitement for life that you inspire every day to be a better mommy for you.   

One of the best things is about you is how much you love everyone in your life.  I will never tire of the random times throughout the day that you will say, "Mommy?.....I love you."  Sometimes there is quite the dramatic pause in there after you say my name and I wonder, "Oh, God, what is she going to ask me."  9 times out of 10, you simply say, "I love you."  It's so precious.  I don't know remember when you started doing it but I will surely miss it if you ever stop.  I know first hand how frustrating it can be at times to have a younger sibling that gets into all of your stuff.  So, thank you for being kind to Preston.  He loves you so and just wants to be like you.  Thank you for singing to him when he cries in the car and making goofy noises to make him laugh.  Thank you letting him mess up your books and toys in your room so that he will keep busy while I do your hair in the morning.  Thank you for reading to him in his room while I put laundry away and get the bath ready.  Thank you for loving him so much that you have to give him a hug & kiss every day when we drop him off at school.  Thank you for being a mama's helper every day.  I don't know how I would do it without you. 

I think I had it said it before but in some ways every day with you is like playing a game. Your love for a little fun or a little drama has led us to create a lot of fun games or routines around every day activities.  For example, when it is time for dinner, we have to say something about you to get you to come sit down.  We say, "if you have yellow hair, come & eat!"  You promptly say, "Oh! That's me...that's me!" and run to the table.  Your favorite thing is if Daddy pretends that I'm talking about him and you two race to the table.  Preston has now caught on too and likes to play along.  Every once in a while, we switch up and say something like, "if you have pink soccer shoes, come & eat!" or "if you are going on the Disney Cruise, come & eat!"  See, a never ending game!  The only reason why it is so fun to do this is because you have such a great imagination and playful heart.  It blows us away with the stories you come up with when you are playing.  All of your teachers have said the same thing as well.  I've often said that I should record some of your playtime stories and turn it into a book.  It would probably be a best seller!  The only thing that I can hold a candle to your imagination is your memory.  I swear, you never forget anything! It blows my mind how you can recall things with such detail that happened when you were 2.5 years old or that only happened one time and seemed so insignificant.  You know the route to school, which is impressive for a 25+ mile trip.  If I take a slightly different route or make a stop somewhere, you immediately notice it and comment on it. 
This past year you have really displayed your independence.  You often ask if you can unbuckle yourself...brush your own hair...get your snack or water etc. Just last week, you started trying to completely dress yourself for school.  That's no easy task to take off the nightgown and put on a whole other outfit.  I'm impressed!  I thought you putting on your own shoes & socks was great but this is going to be awesome.  We figured early on that you had your own fashion sense and opinions about what you were wearing.  For easily a year or so, you pick out your clothes for the next day right before you go to bed.  It has made mornings so much easier.  Of course, the outfit of choice remains to be dresses.  No complaints here!  You look adorable in dresses with leggings or just by themselves in the summer.  The struggle now is shoe choice.  If it was up to you, you would wear fancy shoes or party shoes every day.  As much as I agree that your cute shoes complete the outfit, the amount of time you spend running on the playground requires a gym shoe.  At least we know better and buy the hot pink Nikes. 
Now that you are 4, you are moving up to the Pre-K class.  You absolutely love school and all that structure and fun that goes along with it.  In some ways, you remind me so much of myself with this.  I always loved going to school and learning new things.  My parents have told me stories of how many questions I would ask, especially the "what if" questions.  Well, karma is a real thing because you are full of questions for me!  You often start your questions with, "Mommy, what happens if..."  Sometimes, I literally have no answer for you and yet telling you I don't know is not acceptable.  One question often leads to another question that almost always harder than the first.  Brad and I joke how challenging it is to watch a movie with you because you ask so many questions!  Sometimes an entire conversation will center on going down the list of everyone we know and asking what they are allergic to.  I have no idea where this weird obsession came from though.  You get weirdly excited when someone is actually allergic to something and I'm pretty sure you make a mental note of it.  For example, you &  Daddy went to the pet store and there were kittens.  You adored them and asked Brad if we could have one.  I'm allergic to them to the answer was, "No, Mommy is allergic to them."  Now every time we drive past that pet store you tell me that I can't go there because there are cats and I'm allergic.  A few weeks ago when we were headed to get her hair cut, you excitedly told me that you couldn't wait to ask Carla (the hairstylist) what she was allergic to.  Lord.  Future nurse or doctor in the making?  Over the past few weeks, the following topics have come up:

Where do babies come from?
How do babies get in their mommy's tummies?
Did you eat me & Preston?
Where was I when you & Daddy were kids and in school?

What happens to your body when you die?
Why did you get put in the ground?
When do you become alive again?
Why do people bring flowers when people die?

As hard as some of these questions are, I'm glad you are asking us.  It makes me realize how smart you are and observant to the world around you.  You make me so proud every day to see how smart you are and thirsty for knowledge.  I hope you are always this excited for learning new things.

My Favorite Conversations with Eloise

I asked Eloise to pick up a diaper that had fallen out of the diaper bag. She looks at me with a straight face and says in calm yet slightly irritated voice,  

"Do I look like a mommy? Do I have hair like a mommy? Eyes like a mommy? Those glasses like a mommy?" 
I had no words.  I picked up the diaper.

Eloise was wearing her Elsa crown in the way home from school...
M: "Do you want your snack?" 
E: "No. Queens don't eat snacks."
M: "Do you want your water?"
E: "No. Queens do not drink water."
M: "What do Queens do?"
E: "Queens sit on their thrones. They also turn people into frogs."
10 minutes later, she asked for the snack & water. 

Eloise had on some makeup on for her ballet recital...
E: "Mommy, are my teachers going to know who I am? They might think I'm a mommy because of my makeup. "

E: "Mommy! The rain is going to ruin my makeup!" 

That moment when you know your kid uses too much technology...
"Alexa! Put on, Can't Feel my Face on YouTube." 
"Alexa! Put on Justin Beaver (aka Beiber)!"

Your personality is so dynamic these days.  You are bossy yet sweet, loving and gentle, sensitive and curious.  Happy 4th Birthday to the most amazing little girl that I will ever know.