Disney World!

We rang in the New Year in quite spectacular fashion this year — at Walt Disney World!  On New Year’s Eve, we flew down to Orlando where K was waiting to greet us at the Grand Floridian.  Over the next several days, we racked up the miles at Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Magic Kingdom, and at the resort itself.  It was a wonderful trip — Nell loved absolutely everything, including the animals, rides, parades, princesses, and pools, and Guy was all about the roller coasters.  (Unfortunately, Guy was about an inch too small for most of the roller coasters, which means he wanted to ride the same roller coaster over and over and over and over…)

Here are some pictures from our trip!

The safari at Animal Kingdom, which the kids loved because it featured all the animals from the Lion Guard so they were already familiar with many of them and SO excited to see them up close in real life

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One of the absolute highlights for Nell was meeting Rapunzel — this was one of her requests when she first found out we were going to WDW.  It was a precious moment, and I guarantee you that look of adoration that she gave Rapunzel while Rapunzel was fixing her hair is NOT the same look I receive every morning before school when I try to wrangle her hair into a ponytail.

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Costume Change (because it’s Nell and KK spoils her!)

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A special surprise that KK planned for us was breakfast with Mickey and the Clubhouse characters.  We joined K’s friend who had two daughters, 3 and 5.  Nell and the other 5 year old had a wonderful, fabulous time.  Guy and the other 3 year old were NOT fans of the characters and refused to take any pictures with them.  Guy scrambled into my lap or under the table any time one of them came by.

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Another character encounter — Olaf at Hollywood Studios after seeing Frozen Live Sing Along

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Strangely enough, this is the only picture I have from Epcot…

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Random pics from Magic Kingdom.  I promise that Guy is not only in the first picture, but he’s driving!  You can guess how well that went!  

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Not a bad way to start the New Year!  Happy 2017!

Christmas

Sally Brown was a bit of a mischief maker last night, so we’re cleaning up Christmas early in perhaps our fastest transition from holiday to not holiday. But while the tree and the train and many of the decorations are already gone, we’re definitely still filled to the brim with holiday excitement around here.

We had a magical holiday that started with Christmas Eve at Mom and Dad’s house, where the kids pulled out new bikes that they enjoyed for hours before dinner.

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After putting out ten pounds of reindeer food in the form of glitter and carrots, we finally got the kids settled down for bed so Santa could come. Nell would not even let me read on Christmas Eve — “Mo-om, Santa won’t come if you’re awake.”  Right, of course.

But everyone finally fell asleep, and Santa paid us a visit.

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Santa brought wonderful things for everyone including clothes, toys, dolls, and trains for the kids; a new soundbar for G; SUP stuff, jewelry, and a new GoPro 5 for me; earrings galore for K; yoga and fishing items for Mom and Dad; clothes for Great Grandma Nelll; and special bones for the puppies.  Nell’s only disappointment was that Santa didn’t bring snow, so we did have to explain that Christmas =/= snow, despite what all of her favorite shows might have her believe.

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A few pictures from my Christmas SUP outing yesterday with new boots, gloves, and wetsox. Ahh, warm toes and fingers!

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Of course, we’ve got another special day today — it’s G’s birthday. Plus we’ve got a few more holiday tricks up our sleeves that we’ll be rolling out later this week.  Let the celebrating continue!!

Hello.

Ah, where to begin? It has been so long.

At the end of the summer, I put the blog on the shelf for a little while. For a lot of reasons. Some obvious reasons, like how busy we are and how time flies by before I have a chance to write about our days or my thoughts. Other more complicated reasons, like thinking about how my blogging needs to change as the kids grow older, and how or whether I should share these moments in our lives in an online space.

I still don’t have answers for a lot of my questions. I don’t want the blog to end, but I also feel like it needs to shift, as we do each year as the kids grow. I also haven’t found a miracle pocket of time to write, but the blog is important to me — it always has been — and this holiday season, I decided to kick it back into gear (perhaps a slightly different gear) so I could look back on these memories as I do all the previous ones.

As a parent, it goes without saying that the holidays become more magical as your kids grow into the magic.  This is really the first year that both kids are old enough to truly get into the spirit of the holidays, and we are having such a wonderful time with it.  It has already been a season of firsts.

First time on the Polar Express (on the B&O railroad)

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First time the kids got really engaged in the hunt to find the perfect Christmas tree (at the uncles’ farm)

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(I’d like to say the first time the kids decorated the Christmas tree all by themselves, but nope, they definitely lost interest about two ornaments in.)

Not our first trip to NYC…

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…but our first time enjoying breakfast with Santa at Rockefeller Center, which was such a wonderful treat from K. All you could eat breakfast with hot chocolate, mimosas, a chocolate fountain (we spent a lot of time there), gingerbread cookies, Santa and his elves, and even Christmas carolers!  All at a table looking out at the ice rink.

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After breakfast, we had VIP passes to skate at Rockefeller — our first time not at Bryant Park.  The rink is a little smaller, a lot more crowded, and way more hazardous as there is less skating than there is selfie-taking, but it was absolutely a bucket list experience!  Nell is a pro these days, but it was Guy’s first time on ice skates!

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This is also the first holiday season I am doing an Advent calendar of good deeds for Nell. I filled her calendar with slips of paper full of good deeds and nice things she could do for others.  For her good deeds while we were in NYC, I filled her purse with coins, which she put in Salvation Army buckets across the city as she found them. She even got to ring the bells at each stop!

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We’ve got more adventures planned for the holiday season, and I look forward to sharing them here.  (I am hoping one of those adventures is getting four elegantly-dressed people — ideally our family members, but as my holiday card deadline approaches, I am flexible in that regard — to smile at a camera at the same time in front of a festive, holiday background.  Is that too much to ask?)

 

It’s Beach Party Time!

Today we celebrated Nell’s 5th birthday at her annual party on the beach. This year’s theme was a luau, which the kids celebrated with grass skirts, leis, coconut cups, and all the usual beach party toys we provide each year — buckets, shovels, nets, bubbles, beach balls, etc.  Nell also wanted to bring her paddleboard so she could show her friends how she can paddle and let them try.  The kids were thrilled to try her board, and Nell was proud to show them how she could stand up and paddle.

It was a long day at the beach — Nell was there from about 8am-3pm, though Guy took KK home much earlier for his nap and some snuggles. But we lucked out with beautiful weather — probably the hottest, least windy birthday party she has had since we moved to the beach — and she declared the day a success.

Gorgeous morning on the beach as we were setting up

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Luau ready!20160731_084458 20160731_084530 20160731_084600 Nell wanted coconut cups and grass skirts. Check and check.20160731_092523 IMG_8067 (Large) IMG_8068 (Large) IMG_8075 (Large) IMG_8082 (Large) IMG_8085 (Large) IMG_8088 (Large) IMG_8090 (Large) IMG_8096 (Large) IMG_8099 (Large) IMG_8101 (Large) IMG_8102 (Large) IMG_8111 (Large) IMG_8112 (Large) IMG_8114 (Large)

Nell wanted to show all of her friends who she could stand up and paddle. I was not allowed to touch her board!IMG_8124 (Large) IMG_8125 (Large) IMG_8134 (Large) IMG_8143 (Large)

Hula girl cake and presents!IMG_8148 (Large) IMG_8153 (Large) IMG_8162 (Large) IMG_8173 (Large)

And just in case you still don’t quite feel like you were there: