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!

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?)

 

Camping and the Beach

(But not camping at the beach.)

Summer is in the air.  It’s 86 out, our washing machine is stuffed full of beach towels, and we just went on vacation.

Though this is a bit of a short-lived summery air, as it will be in the 50s tomorrow.  But still.  There are signs that, yes, summer is definitely coming this year.  I worry about that each winter.

Last week, we took the kids on a new adventure — camping down in North Carolina.  Armed with a big tent, lots of sleeping bags, no healthy food whatsoever, and two toddlers, we drove down to Wilmington — where my wonderful, wonderful parents were waiting in their motorhome.  (I mean, we’re not crazy!)

We enjoyed the best of both worlds.  Nell slept all of the nights in the tent with me.  Guy enjoyed the tent one night, and the motorhome with G and my parents the other nights.  We roasted marshmallows around a campfire but also had the opportunity to microwave breakfast burritos in the morning.  It was the perfect balance of roughing it and glamping, and the kids loved every minute of it.  The campground also had a ton for them to enjoy, like a freezing cold pool (Nell’s favorite), playground with swings (both kids were obsessed), and a jump pad for working off those marshmallows.

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Outside of the campground, we spent our time down in Wrightsville Beach. More than just the waves, the ocean has such a different feel to it than the Bay, so we had a great time spending a couple of our mornings at the beach.

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The beach was also our home base for the SUP portion of the trip.  This past weekend was the Carolina Cup, the world’s largest stand-up paddle race, the first elite race of the season, and the most elite race on the east coast.  Paddlers from all over the country come to paddle, including the world’s top professionals, and it’s a really unique opportunity to spend time with them and learn from them.

I took a footwork clinic from my professional paddler hero, the #2 SUP female in the world, Candice Appleby; in fact, the opportunity to do so was what really nudged me to go to Carolina Cup and make this trip happen.  It was such a valuable experience!

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I also got to meet so many of the paddlers I network with online in my SUP challenge group — these folks came from all over the country, and we had an afternoon set aside for all of us to get together.

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And finally, I entered a 3.5 mile race on Saturday morning around Harbor Island and had a great time competing. It was my first beach finish, which was a blast. I missed my goal time by 2:01, but I was still really happy overall with how I did, and look forward to the next race when I can try again!

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I have tons more pictures and videos from the weekend — in fact, these are just the ones I have on my phone and don’t include the photos we grabbed on the real camera — but I have discovered that an incomplete post is better than no post, and too many of my blogs lately have gotten left in the “almost finished” and then “wildly outdated” state.  But we had a really great time on a fabulous new adventure, and I hope we get to do it again next year.

Maybe with less overnight rain.

After the party…

…are all the other parties!

Christmas is just the start of a whole lot of celebrating that we do around here.  The next day is G’s birthday (for one sweet month, he is an extra year older than I am!), and this year, K was nice enough to watch the kids for us so I could surprise G with a night in Annapolis. Dinner, drinks, some football, and a night at the Annapolis Waterfront Hotel.  We had a great time, and it was so nice to be away — this was actually our first time leaving Guy since he was born.  (And if we are being honest, the kids were probably more okay with it all than I was!)

Our friends joined us for the night, and we all took some quick pictures in Snowflake Alley before finding the best ice cream shop in town.

annapolis greg and erinannapolis dan and caseyOnce we got back, we celebrated at Mom and Dad’s house with dinner and chocolate cake!

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We took advantage of the kids going to school last week to clean up Christmas while they weren’t home, which gave them plenty of room to pull out their new Christmas toys and make all new kinds of messes.

Bye bye, Christmas…

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Hello new toys!  Like Nell’s fairy garden!20160101_105735 20160101_153531 20160101_153538

And Mickey Mouse Play-Doh!20160103_144429

And Perler beads!20160103_150934

And plasmacar races around the house!

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(Don’t be fooled by her innocence — she is smiling because she is winning!)

We are definitely not ready for Monday and the return of 4:30 am wake-up calls.  Yegh.  Is it bedtime yet?

 

NYC at Christmas Time!

This weekend we took our annual holiday trip to NYC to visit K and see the Christmas sights around the city.  Everything was festive and beautiful, and we crammed as much as possible into our quick weekend trip.

On Saturday, we got into the city early to catch the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.  K got the kids twirling Rockettes and Santa Claus toys, and we enjoyed kick lines, Santa Claus, choo choo trains, and camels parading across the stage.  It was awesome.  And the light show around the walls and ceiling was really impressive.

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(What you’re not seeing in this post is all of the amazing food and drink we had across our trip. Like the restaurant we went to after Toys R Us, where we enjoyed pear and black currant champagne cocktails, and absolutely amazing brunch food.  Unfortunately, I was too excited about all the meals to remember to take pictures!)

On Sunday morning, we were up early again to get to Bryant Park and ice skate.  We discovered on our last trip that the trick is to get there when the free skate opens on Sunday morning, and the timing worked out well again.  K, Nell, and I skated for the entire morning session until they closed the rink to resurface the ice, and Nell had such a wonderful time!  She has been talking about ice skating since our trip last December, and this was definitely the highlight for her!

20151206_083115_resized 20151206_083116_resized download_20151206_130746 download_20151206_181909 download_20151206_181927 download_20151206_130806 download_20151206_130802After ice skating, we went to Lord and Taylor to see the store windows and then on to Herald Square to see Santaland.  (We did not wait two hours to see Santa, but we definitely enjoyed seeing all the beautiful decorations around the store!)  Guy and Nell adored the store windows — they were whimsical bakery-themed with cupcakes and gingerbread men and more. The kids were enamored with the show behind the glass.

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Guy loved walking around the city in general — or rather, running in his own funny little way.  Luckily most people in NY wear black, so he was easy to keep an eye on in his bright red sweater “running” along the sidewalk. (Pic next to K. He was not alone, lol.)

20151206_100439After visiting the department stores, we returned to Bryant Park just in time for the carousel opening, which we went on until at least two of us were dizzy.  One little Guybug sobbed when it was time to finally get off.  He loved it so much.

download_20151206_130817 20151206_110738(0)_resized 20151206_110003_resizedWe rounded out our holiday NYC traditions on Sunday with lunch at Bryant Park Grill under the tented Christmas patio for lobster rolls, crab and shrimp cocktail, and red wine.  The kids ate mac n cheese from the gourmet mac n cheese vendor in the Christmas market (of course there is one), which they loved.  And then we were on our way — back to K’s ,and then on the road home a few hours later.

We’ve had our share of bumps this holiday season with germs and winter ailments — in fact, G was way under the weather for the trip, and I’m down for the count since we got back — but this trip was (as it always is) such a highlight of the season and so much fun.  Each year gets better, and maybe next year the kids will understand how to use “indoor NYC” voices in places with shared walls…