Saturday, January 30, 2016

2.5 Years with (Not so Baby) E

It has been a while since I did an E update. As she gets older, it seem like the changes from month to month are less, but then all of a sudden I look at her and she seems to be so much older. I am not sure where the time goes, but some days I just want it to stop. (Other days, not so much, but more on that later.)

When did my baby get so big?
Right now we are at a fun age. She mimics just about everything that we do and wants to help with everything. She loves helping Daddy make coffee and Mommy cook. (It may take us twice as long when she "helps," but it is pretty fun.) 

My mind is constantly blown by all of the words she knows and uses. I still can't believe the things that she comes up with. While enjoying some Mickey shaped fruit snacks on the cruise, E picked one up, looked at it and said, "this is Mickey. He's my boy." I cracked up laughing. We have full blown conversations and I love listening to her, even when she is talking just to keep herself awake.

E loves running, jumping and climbing. She still loves being outside. Cooking in her kitchen and watching movies are some other favorite activities. She is a big fan of Mickey, Minnie and the Disney Princesses. Cinderella is a favorite. We are over her fear of characters and less than 24 hours after getting off the Disney Cruise Ship she was asking to go to Disney World. (We made her wait a week.)

Riding one of her favorites

My princess

She is full of sass and the girliest tomboy I know. She will fearlessly climb and jump off of just about anything, all while wearing a dress. My heels are another one of her favorite things to play with.

Who cares about modesty?
I have my heels and my keys
We are right in the midst of the toddler-teenager phase. It is not uncommon for E to turn into a puddle and role around on the floor if we are doing something she doesn't want to do. Brushing hair, changing diapers, getting dressed in appropriate clothes and putting shoes on are all common causes of an E puddle. The hardest thing is that she is getting stronger and it can be hard to hold her when she is tantruming.

Taken just minutes before the first photo.
 Potty training is in the works. We need to step up our game a bit, but I was in no hurry until after we got back from vacation. Going to bed, and staying asleep, are some of the biggest challenges. We took away her pacifier at the beginning of the year and that created a whole new bedtime. (More on that in another post.) 
While we have our share of tantrums, I couldn't ask for a more loving and compassionate toddler. She still likes to snuggle and hug. (On her terms of course.) If she sees me sad, she will tell me it will be okay. Her teachers also tell me she helps other kids in the class if they are crying. 

Time Flies (Thanks Timehop for the reminders)
Happy 2.5 to my not-so-baby E!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Adventures in Parenting - Our Disney Cruise Part 1

We recently got back from a long anticipated Disney cruise. It was 7 nights packed with a lot of fun and some great memories. This was also the first real vacation we have taken with E. (Vacation has a whole new meaning with a 2-year old.) Here is a little about our trip.

On embarkation day, I was so excited that I was up before my alarm. (Anyone who knows me, and my level of sleep deprivation, understands how excited I was.) Once everyone was up and ready, we loaded up the cars to head to the port. It is amazing how much stuff we had.

The weather had been gross during the week leading up to the cruise and it was super foggy on our way out to port. You couldn't even see the ship when we were pulling in to unload and park. The check in process went smoothly and we were one of the first groups allowed to board the ship.

Once on board we got tickets for the Disney Junior Breakfast, Elsa and Anna and the Disney Princess meet and greet. We also made reservations for a couples session at the spa. (This was sold out in pre-booking, so I was super excited they still had availability.) After all that, it was time for lunch and then our rooms were ready.

That evening was the sail away party and E's first chance to dance on the deck. Dancing would be a theme for E this sailing. After the party it was time for dinner and then bedtime for E.

Bye, Bye FL
Our first full day on the ship was a day at sea. We were up early for a breakfast with Characters from Disney Junior. Then my husband and I snuck away for a little adult time at the spa. (This was amazing and a huge thanks to my Mom, Sister and Brother-in-law for watching E for us.)

She wasn't real sure about Doc

Then it was back to back princess time. First it was the frozen princesses and then some of the more traditional princesses. Unfortunately, E hadn't napped yet, so she was a grumpy princess.

Holding tight to Daddy

She did give Cinderella (her favorite) a hug.
Finally a little sun!
That night was formal night and the Aladdin show on the ship. This was the one show I wanted E to see and after a lot of discussion we decided to go to dinner and the later show. (This may have been a bad idea because there were lots of tears at bedtime, but she still enjoyed the show.) 

Waiting for Aladdin! (Notice the no shoes,
this was a common theme.)
Day two was Cozumel. It was rainy, so we didn't do much in port. Just a little shopping and a stop at Starbucks. (I know, we were tourists.) E napped in her stroller and the rain cleared enough to hit the splash pad back on the ship.

A boat in the rain

Getting my tourist on
 This was also Pirate night. I made E a super cute pirate dress that she wanted nothing to do with. We ended up with a puddle of tulle throwing a tantrum in the lobby and an outfit change. (At least our room steward had a sense of humor and the monkey wore the dress.) It was raining after dinner, so the pirate party was moved inside and we ended up missing most of it.

Day three was Grand Cayman. We didn't get into port until late, so I took a spin class before we left the ship. It was a good time and one of the hardest spin classes I have taken. The sensation of biking on a moving ship is an interesting one. (So thankful I don't have motion sickness issues.)

Once off the ship we hit the beach for a while. We got there right around when E normally naps and this lead to her falling asleep on my shoulder in the ocean. She must have been tired because she has never done anything like that before. I eventually moved her to a beach chair.

Cruising is hard work!
  The rain started just as we got on the tender back to the ship. It made for an interesting trip back, but we were coming from the beach so getting wet wasn't an issue. 

After getting cleaned up, it was time for dinner and then dancing toddler style. The theme was princess night and E was all about wearing her Cinderella dress.

E went to bed and we hung out on our veranda. (The veranda room was really nice because we could sit and chat while E was inside sleeping.)

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2016 - Looking for Balance

With the start of the new year, I have been thinking about what I would like to accomplish this year. It seems like every year I set out with big plans, only to have life or other things get in the way. Part of this is that I haven't really been setting SMART goals (See examples from 2014 and 2015). The goals I tired to set have been more I really want to do this, but don't really have a clear path or plan to accomplish it. Everyone knows that type of goal setting doesn't work.

I wanted this year to be different. So I decided to select a guiding principle for the year. It will provide a foundation and be my guide for choices and decisions during the year. My guiding principle for this year is Balance. 

Balance has been a struggle for me since E was born. I tend to say yes too often, and this leads to being overwhelmed. Part of it is because I don't want to miss out on anything and I am thankful for the opportunities I have been blessed with. There are so many things I want to do and it is hard to remember that I can't to everything all the time.

By having balance as my focus for the year, I hope to make smart choices and take on the things that are important and learn to let the not so important things go. My goal for this year is to look at each opportunity I am presented with and ask what it does to the balance in my life. If I can do it and not feel crazy, then it is good, if not it is time to say no.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Adventures in Parenting - Surviving a Road Trip

Some people love to road trip. Unfortunately, I am not one of them. As an adult I have I have adopted my father's motto--"the farthest I want to drive is to the airport." E has flown a ton in her young life and is in the car on a daily basis, but it is normally for short trips. This year we went to go to south FL after Christmas to visit family.

I know we are not the first people in the world to take a road trip with a toddler, but I was not excited about spending 3 hours in the car. So, when Ford offered me the opportunity to chat with Dannie Fowler from The Etiquette School of Florida and get some advice I was excited to take it. Here are some of her tips (spoiler...they worked really well):

  • Set Expectations - I sometimes forget how good E's memory is getting and how much she understands now. A couple days before the trip we started telling E what we were going to do. We also told her that we would be in the car for a long time. (She still will tell me that we have to be in the car a long time to get to Aunt Pattie's.)
  • Travel when Tired - We left to head down during nap time and started back about bedtime. This worked exceptionally well and she slept for an hour on the way down and the whole way back.
  • Make Frequent Stops - We did this on the way down. Shortly after she woke up, we stopped for food. A full belly and burning off some energy helped with the rest of the trip. Going home we didn't stop because E was asleep, but I would have welcomed the opportunity to stretch my legs.
  • Be Prepared - We let E pack a bag for herslef, but the car was stocked with books, snacks and other activities. Her favorite was the new Magna Doodle she got for Christmas. While we had it with, I was excited we didn't have to bust out the tablet the entire trip.
These things made the experience of being trapped in a car as close to pleasant as possible. (I still don't like road trips.) We had a great time while we were there and a few uncomfortable hours is worth it for the memories we made and views like this.

My Beach Baby