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down the shore

November 2, 2014

We spent nearly two weeks in July “down the shore” — which is Jersey speak for “at the Jersey Shore”.  Here are a million pictures.  The shore is beautiful and I just couldn’t really resist getting out the camera and taking 3.2 million pictures of the girls.


We drove, the 14 hour trip was fine.  Somehow on the way back we ended up only stopping twice. TWICE! Which was, in fact, probably a small miracle.  The girls were GREAT in the car both ways, and I was surprised that I didn’t really have to break out any of the toys from the emergency oh-crap-this-is-terrible toy stash.


Jason’s parents rented a sweet house just a few blocks from the beach, and it was really a perfect size for all of us!  And so close to Jason’s aunt, cousins, etc, so there was much socializing with family that we don’t get to see very often.  Jason’s college-aged cousins Lauren and Emily were a HUGE help to us, and Lilly and Elli loooovvveeeeeddd their big girl cousins.  It was also cool to see Lilly play with her cousin Maezie.  They were pretty sweet running around playing “long long long hair” with shoelaces tied around their heads and trailing behind them, blowing bubbles on the porch, or digging in the sand and splashing in the water.  The two girls got along really well, and that made the week so enjoyable.

My kiddos loved the beach.  I’m not sure that my pre-child self could have sat at the beach for 10 days in a row, but since “sitting at the beach” with kids = not at all sitting, unless Eleanor is nursing or sleeping on me, this was a welcome break.  I actually managed to finish an entire book while E slept on me — and it’s been an embarrassingly long time since I’ve actually read an entire book without losing interest or being interrupted by other activities.



I will say that I hit my limit on sand a few times… there’s nothing like a completely sand-covered baby snuggling up to you, getting sand all over you… in your bathing suit when you nurse her, on your face as her little sandy hands grab at your cheek.  Ugh.  It sounds sweet when I type it here, and I never thought I was really like that, but ugh.  SAND EVERYWHERE is just more than I can do.


The girls LOVED the sand, though.  Elli P loved crawling in it, eating it, just running her fingers through it.  And she especially loved it when we’d bring her buckets of water to splash in and pour over herself.  I don’t think she was as sure of the water – unless someone was sitting in front of her to block/ease the waves, she seemed a little nervous about it.  Understandably.






Lilly had fun building in the sand with cousins – or actually she had fun SMASHING whatever castle you’d try to make.  And of course digging in the sand is great, especially when the cousins dig GIANT holes that are bigger than you!  So fun to climb in!


One evening, we dressed the girls in white and took them to the beach for pictures.  They posed politely for a few pictures, and then it somehow turned into a trash-the-dress shoot, with Lilly and Maezie running into the ocean in their dresses.  And actually those pictures are even better than the posed ones — there’s something about the unleashed JOY of these kids when they’re doing something so very fun.












We also visited the boardwalk a few times for pizza (mine without cheese — I think El has a dairy allergy/sensitivity/thing), caramel popcorn, ice cream, etc.  I was so SO surprised that Lilly went on some of the rides at the boardwalk – she is usually a very hesitant kid, especially when something is new or involves motion.  Her aunt & cousin were kind enough to take her on some of the rides, and she seemed to really love it!  She even braved her first rollercoaster, daddy by her side!  I’m so very proud of her for trying something new!




Our friends visited from Philly for a day, and that was great.  Our girls played together really nicely, and though it was overcast and a bit cold, we had a great time at the beach and boardwalk!  It’s always nice to see friends that we’ve had such a history with (Jason has known them since high school!), and fun to see friends turn into parents, little ones playing sweetly together.

Jason and I also managed to escape by ourselves a few times.  It’s really strange to suddenly be able to eat a meal without interruption, or to not worry about whether anyone else has to use the bathroom while you’re out.  Of course, we end up talking about the girls the entire time.  They are so sweet and happy and wonderful that I sometimes feel guilty for feeling like I need a break.  But!  Having family around is a great excuse to leave the kids with loved ones and to shower/use the bathroom alone.  And, hey, if I can work in a morning or two of sleep, that is like a trifecta of wonderfulness.  Certainly traveling anywhere with little ones is more work than just being home, but it’s worth it to see the relationships that the girls are building with family, and to grab any of these little breaks as they come.  We are so glad that we had the opportunity to spend time with family this summer, and the location (the beach!) really couldn’t have been beat.  Just a perfect location for the ages/interests of our girls right now!

Lilly turns THREE!

September 7, 2014

I don’t really understand how it’s possible that I am the mother of a THREE year old!

This girl brings us SO MUCH JOY. We are so very thankful that she is ours.

At three, our little Lilly has a HUGE imagination. Everything is princesses, singing, her daughter (who constantly runs away and needs to be tied to her with a rope – and yes, she came up with this on her own, and YES it is so very embarrassing to walk through Target asking Lilly to tell her daughter to stay in the cart, or yelling “daughter! come back!” or tying the rope on the cart just a little tighter so that daughter doesn’t run away. Also, I don’t know where she gets the idea to rope her daughter to begin with — this is not something we do at home! :) ). Outside, we play in the playhouse — ahem, the PRINCESS CASTLE — and we have to put our pretend princess dress, glass slippers, earrings, and crowns on, and then we grab sticks and we’re OFF TO FIGHT THE DRAGONS! Lilly usually ends up fighting them with her own fiery breath. More recently, she’s been asking to play princess school, and I get to be the teacher. I suppose this is good training for when I really begin to do some schooling activities with her this fall.

She is very sensitive, and has a big heart. She does not like being told no, and she does not like hurting others and then having to “make it right”. We ask her to “make it right” instead of forcing “sorry” — there is so much more she can do to fix problems than just a “sorry” and this has gotten her to think out of the box a little. Also, we’ve come to realize that she needs to DO something to make it right before she’s ready to say “sorry” – a hug, getting a bandaid, whatever; and once she’s done something for you, then she’ll throw out that little sorry, and I’m fairly certain she means it. I was really impressed the other day — we had friends over and her friend fell off the swing. Lilly immediately said, “I know! I’ll get a bandaid!”, and I think this is because we talk a lot about what we can do for people when they get hurt (whether it’s accidental or a purposeful action — luckily in our case it is rarely purposeful).

Lilly tells us often “I love you!” It’s pretty amazing.


Lilly seems to have missed out on the toddler tantrums. When she does cry, we’ve found it effective to either empathize (“I know you feel sad when mama tells you no, but we simply don’t eat cookies for breakfast”), or if the crying is a bit more persistent, just repeating what she says does the trick (“you want a cookie. you said that you want a cookie.”) until she calms down (she still doesn’t get the cookie… can you tell that cookies for breakfast is a frequent request?). We’ve also learned that if she’s acting out/annoying, she’s usually 1. tired, 2. hungry, or 3. in need of some hugs. Knowing this makes the few times that things do get crazy MUCH easier to resolve.140628untitled11951.jpg

She’s a great eater and a TERRIBLE sleeper. TERRIBLE. (one more for emphasis) TERRIBLE. She no longer naps. We hope she’d just sleep 12 hours at night, but occasionally, she likes to take 2 hours to go to bed or wake at 3/4am and be SO AWAKE AND HAPPY AND PLAYFUL for like 2-3 hours before falling back asleep. It’s insane, and none of us really know what to do about it. And actually, this happens once week/fortnight, and otherwise she mostly sleeps through the wee hours of the night, which is a HUUUUGGGEEEEEEE improvement over last summer/fall/winter/early spring when she’d wake several times in the night screaming for one of us. We decided to move her bed into baby Ell’s room, and that made a huge world of difference. I think our sensitive girl may have felt a bit left out since mama and Eleanor were sleeping in just the next room. Also, it’s a bit easier to consistently walk her back to her bed when I’m in the room. And actually, she sometimes comes to crawl in bed with me first thing in the morning and cuddle for a bit before we start our day, and that is really sweet.


My favorite thing about Lilly at this age is her enthusiasm.  She’s overwhelmingly thankful and excited for the littlest things — “Mama, can I be Cinderella?’  “Of course, Lilly” “OH! FANK YOU! FANK YOU MAMA!”  It takes so very little to make her happy.  She can entertain herself in her own imaginary world for hours… that is, until it’s time to put Eleanor to bed, and then she’d like to be in the same room thankyouverymuch.  She is so fun to just watch and I’m often very entertained by what she comes up with!


So, of course we had to throw a tiny shindig for our favorite three year old.  The theme? Princesses, OBV.  We invited just a few friends, most of whom have kiddos Lil’s age, and mentioned that the kids could wear their fave royal clothing if they were so inclined.  I made a cardboard castle complete with paint sample card flags (Jason likes to say that if they start charging for those, it’ll be my fault! I’ve used them for a few projects recently… :) ).  Lilly styled the orange flower pot out front!

We had grilled food, and Lilly helped me make some fruit wands (thank you, pinterest!).  I cut slices of watermelon and let her use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out smaller pieces.  Then I showed her how to put grapes on a skewer and top them with the watermelon slices.  And she worked for about a half hour, but she also ate for a half hour, so I didn’t get very far until she left the table to play outside!



And finally, the little princess needed a princess cake.  A few carefully placed oreos and frosting- and sprinkle-covered ice cream cones made this little cake look a bit more festive, though next time I’m not sure I’ll go with bright blue frosting — blue everywhere!




Our little princess was quite pleased with her little party!  (Not as pleased with the blowing out of candles — she recruited Jason to help her on that one).



The invites to her royal ball were also castle themed (of course!):



(The party info is underneath the drawbridge.)  These were quick and easy, and I discovered Lilly’s love of glue sticks when making these with her.


All in all, ’twas a wonderful little royal ball.  I think the kiddos had fun, and we had fun catching up with our fellow parent/friends.  And we’ve gotten SO MUCH MILEAGE out of that cardboard castle this summer!

July 4th (only a month late on this update, guys!)

August 11, 2014

Making progress on ye olde family story. :)

This summer we decided to undertake another major remodeling project — we removed the flooring on our first floor and had hardwood floors installed instead.  Well, by “we” I really mean “Jason removed the flooring on the first floor”.  The girls and I went to Nanee and Grandpa’s house to avoid the mess. (Leaving Jason alone in the house for the 4th. I don’t know if I felt sad for him — alone on a holiday — or totally jealous — what is 8 hours of solid sleep like?)

And also, we went to see one of my fave high school friends who was in town from Utah!

And also, Uncle Robby was in town, so how could we miss that?


So we went, and we dressed in our best red, white, and blue, and watched the parade.  Lilly is still a bit timid with the candy, but we made out decently anyways.  Once again this year, I was all, “WHERE ARE THE FLOATS!?”  I mean, I liked the candy, but it was just group after group of kids throwing candy, a few church groups with popsicles, two marching bands, a dance troupe, and old cars.  We for sure needed some festively decorated trailers, some chicken wire and TP creations, and the random strange vehicle to celebrate our country’s independence.  I feel like I complain about this every year, and one of these years I’m just going to need to devise a reason to enter a parade and make one myself.  I hope pinterest will be able to supply me with some good ideas when the time comes.

After the parade, a little pool party at Nanee’s!  I feel like I missed half the party when I was putting E down for her nap, but Lilly sure had an awesome time swimming with everyone and anyone who would get in the pool with her!!


And we rounded out the night with a visit to grandma and grandpa great’s lake house.  The Yacht club has a party every year, and we took the girls over for a few games.  I remember going to this party every year when I was a kid, so it was fun to take the girls.  Also: they had a bounce house, and Lilly, who had just learned to jump the month before (and now JUMPS EVERYWHERE OVER EVERY LINE AND CRACK) was in bounce house heaven.  She even impressed (and terrified!) me by taking on the big kids bounce house — I didn’t know if she’d be able to do the climbing, and I was worried that she’d get knocked over and hurt by one of the bigger kids in the bounce house.  She seems to have a pretty good idea of what she can handle, though, and I don’t like second guessing her abilities, so I said “go for it!” during a particularly calm moment in the bounce house.


When we returned to my grandparents house, it was nearly time for fireworks!  Lil curled up on Auntie Ashley’s lap for the fireworks.  I think she liked them at first, and then wasn’t quite sure about how loud they were.  (The same thing happened during the fireworks at Cinderella’s castle – the first few were cool, after that, not so much).


We enjoyed the rest of our weekend in Milwaukee, but as usual, it went too fast.  We spent the day after the fourth on the lake watching Uncle Trevor sail. I made the world’s creepiest cake so that we could celebrate Lil’s birthday with my family. She had seen one of those barbie cakes in the grocery store and requested it since it was so very obviously a PRINCESS CAKE AND SHE LOVES PRINCESSES. So that was my plan, only I did not prepare for this AT ALL, and my grandma and I were unable to find those little doll tops on such short notice in the town nearest to their lake home. My grandma did find this doll in the basement, though, so we went with it. Lilly was thrilled. But it is admittedly not my best work. Creepiest cake EVER! :)




We visited the zoo with my high school BFFs and their kiddos.  It was soooo fun.  My love for the Milwaukee Zoo is no secret… and sharing the zoo with old friends is even better!



After our busy zoo day, we headed back to Michigan.  Our trip back was the WORST TRIP YET, with Elli P starting in on the crazy crying at the halfway point, me stopping at every other exit to figure out what was happening in the back seat, her giggling as soon as I pulled her from the car seat and then screaming when I put her back into the car seat.  Repeat for the next 1.5 hours.  And that is when I gave the ipad to the baby.  And she stopped crying and watched Frozen, and five minutes later she fell asleep.  CUE BIG SIGH OF RELIEF from yours truly.

strawberry picking

August 7, 2014

Last year’s strawberry picking was such a hit that we spent the following 12 months going strawberry picking in the living room with a basket and imaginary strawberries.  So it was a total no-brainer that we had to return this year.  We went to the same U-pick place again this year, and we brought Jason and Eleanor with us.  The strawberries were smaller (and the weeds bigger!) than I remembered from last year, but we managed to pick enough to make mama a strawberry margarita (and Lilly her first “kiddie margarita”), and that’s really all that matters.  Our picking process was only slightly impeded by two tiny hands plucking the freshly picked strawberries from the baskets and taking a bite or two before returning them to the basket, but that is part of the fun, right!?

Some pictures from what turned out to be a pretty fun afternoon:













Happy Graduation, mama bear

August 6, 2014

My mama bear has been working extra hard these past few years — not only is she working, keeping up with her kids and grandkids, but she’s also been taking a full college courseload on top of it (and getting straight A’s!).  We are all really proud of her for checking off this bucket list item!!! 140607untitled11708.jpg

(Not only do I post twice in the same week, but I feature super-insane photos of myself!  What a treat!)

We celebrated with a tiny get together.  It’s rare enough that all 3 of my siblings and I are together with my parents and grandparents these days that we hoped surprising mama bear with all of her little chickens for a weekend would be party enough for such a momentous occasion. So the girls and I packed up and headed to Milwaukee for a weekend in June!  These kids are so amazing in the car.  Really. 140606untitled11645.jpg   EP had her first boat ride while we watched their Uncle Trevor race his sailboat.  She was not really impressed that the lifejacket was blocking her pretzel-eating abilities.  Luckily she fell asleep on the boat, or I think she may have been too annoyed with the jacket to last very long on the boat. 140607untitled11696.jpg   The girls had lots of quality time with aunt Ashley and the uncles, Nanee, Grandpa, and the GREATs (two gramma greats and a grandpa great!).  Lilly was particularly smitten with my grandma’s fairy garden and climbed her little self up on a narrow garden ledge to play with it.  I didn’t catch her up there the first time and was SO PUZZLED as to why (how?) the tiny fairy furniture and rocks were all moved around. 140607untitled11704.jpg   Lilly’s DIY haircut is pretty apparent in the above picture.  She grabbed and cut and grabbed and cut some more, all on the back right side of her little head.  I know you’re all, “and why are you leaving a three year old unsupervised with scissors?”  And for that, I have no good response other than, IT TAKES ONLY A SECOND.  Turn my head to look at Eleanor and CHOP! her hair is gone.  And actually, she cut a piece of MY hair, too, so that should be an indication of her speed.  (I was on the floor playing with El and she was combing my hair… two seconds later – SNIP – and I’m all “Did you just cut my hair?!” and I probably giggled since it was so random and unexpected, and FYI: laughing does not get the “don’t do that again” point across very clearly.  At least she was sweet about it — “Mommy, it feels better now!”  which is exactly what I was telling her the night before when I trimmed her hair in the bath — her hair would feel better and be easier to comb once I trimmed the curly little knots out of it!  So silly!)

Also, this baby. 140607untitled11710.jpg 140608untitled11743.jpg   These are my two fave pictures ever of my grandpa and the girls.  He looks like he’s actually smiling here, though I can assure you he is probably saying something because he doesn’t like to smile for pictures – he likes to talk right through them! :) 140608untitled11751.jpg   This baby is so sweet and cuddly!  In May/June she started really signaling that she wanted to be picked up (holding out her arms!) and leaning her head into you to cuddle, and it is just the best. thing. ever. because in that moment, I think that *maybe* she likes me as much as I like her. 140612untitled11761.jpg 140612untitled11767.jpg   We did manage to get some swimming in at Nanee and Grandpa’s house!  Lilly is a little fish, and luckily Nanee was happy to get in and swim with her (or “boat” around the pool on a raft). 140612untitled11774.jpg   Oh yes.  And she scrunches her nose now.  Can she get any cuter?  I mean, I know I’m biased, but really… that scrunched nose KILLS me. 140612untitled11777.jpg

Spring 2014

August 5, 2014

A few of you have mentioned that my blog is dead.  Well, it’s summer break,  so no course prep for me after the kids are asleep… why not try to breathe a little life into ye old blog!?! (with a crazy, rambling post!)

The only problem is that my memory has been wiped completely clear.  This is probably what happens when it’s been nearly a year since the last time you actually slept a solid 8 hours.  Spring, as a whole, was fairly rough for us on the sleep front.  Elli still wakes several times each night and she’s so very tiny still that I have no intention of night weaning her anytime soon… anything we can do to get a few more calories in my still-too-small-for-the-charts baby!  Lil has also been waking more, sometimes inconsolable (nightmares?), sometimes WIDE AWAKE AT 4AM (these nights she will finally fall back to sleep around 6am, when we’re ready to get up for the day).  We may have worked out a solution, but I’m not blogging about it until I’m sure.  Don’t want to jinx things too soon.



These girls are growing so fast!  I don’t want to blink or I might miss something!



Lilly has gotten so hilarious and imaginative.  She sings nonstop, often made up songs with elaborate hand gestures.  We have entire conversations in song.  Actually, if I can’t convince her to do something with words, song can usually persuade her.  There is a constant soundtrack to our lives – it’s ongoing, and the verses change as what we do changes.  “Please will you use the pottttttttttttyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?”  Seems to get more cooperation than just saying it, so I go with it.  Gotta put those voice lessons mom and dad gave me in 7th grade to good use somehow… :)



Her giggle is so sweet, and she’s quiet expressive.  Of course, her tiny sister also has a very sweet giggle — and no one can make tiny sister giggle like Lilly can.  The two of them together are so sweet, probably the best sound I’ve ever heard.



Eleanor is getting so big.  She happily sits and plays/explores toys for longer and longer every day.  She’s been paying more attention to her surroundings — the dogs and her sister are her obvious faves.

Spring brought visits from Nanee (twice), Trevor, and Grandpa, who collaborated on a giant play structure in the back yard.  Jason keeps adding to the structure, and the girls really love playing on the swings and up in the “princess castle”.  (Have I mentioned that EVERYTHING at my house is princesses lately?)



I had a conference for work the day before Easter, so our Easter festivities were small – just the four (six, counting dogs!) of us.  We dressed and went to church, took the obligatory family phot, had a small egg hunt in the yard (note to self: do NOT put chocolate candy in the eggs… such a melty messy mess), and did some things around the yard (cleaning out the garden with the baby strapped to my back).






Yes, EVERYTHING here is princesses.  Not a day goes by that SOMEONE in my house is wearing a crown and glittery get up.  Jason has even been a willing participant in these shenanigans, and FYI: he looks fab in a crown.  When asked, “what do princesses do?”  Lilly responds “sing” and then there is more singing.  I’m totally cool with princesses who sing.



We took a field trip to Grand Rapids to check out the butterfly exhibit at the botanical gardens.  We prepared by reading butterfly books, making tissue paper butterflies, and acting out the life cycle of the butterfly.  Lil was really impressed by all of the butterflies flying around and continually asked about them landing on her.



Given that toddlers are totally movement-prone, we didn’t expect that any would land on her, but we did tell her that it was a possibility if she sat very still.  And! A butterfly did land on her!  She was obviously freaked out in the moment, but to this day, she will proudly tell anyone that a PAINTED JEZEBEL BUTTERFLY LANDED ON HER DRESS! when asked about her butterfly visit.  (It wasn’t actually a painted Jezebel, but some sort of Zebrawing, and how exciting that I now know the difference between these two and also that butterflies make CHRYSALIS’ — NOT COCOONS.  It’s like I’m homeschooling myself here, folks!)



The highlight of the day for EP was most definitely the tea set at the children’s garden.  I put her in one of the child-sized chairs and she was obviously SO SO thrilled to be included in the big kids games.  You can see it on her face — she was just so happy.



Another big fave around these parts is “tiny baby” – an imaginary game in which Lilly puts on her baby sister’s clothes, pops in a paci, and begs to be put in the crib.  It’s quite funny since she never did sleep in that crib when she was a tiny baby.  We are still thinking about working on putting our actual baby in the crib, but she still wakes a million times a night and I am too tired/lazy to deal with this.  (Also, sleep training and laying flat on her back are not options at this point thanks to reflux and slow weight gain!)



Have I mentioned that princesses are all the rage here?  Thank goodness baby E is a good sport!  Poor little thing!


The girls and I usually go swimming once/week.  It’s been a fun activity that we can all do together.  Both girls seem to LOVE the water, and once strapped into her little froggy jacket, Lilly is totally independent in the water.  I keep El strapped in a water sling for most of our time in the pool — that way, she can splash with her hands, but I still have two hands to rescue big sis if she needs help.  (Of course, the lifeguard on duty could help if she REALLY gets into trouble!)


And finally, late in May, this one started waving.  If it’s not the CUTEST THING EVER, I don’t know what is.  Here we are swimming at our friends house (I take the girls swimming at least once/week), but this kid will wave ANYWHERE and at ANYONE.  I am sure we’ve made a few random people’s days this way, and probably confused others.  It’s really sweet, though.  She is turning out to be such a sweet little thing!


And that is our spring — or what I remember of it — complete with too many unedited photos.  Man, TIME JUST NEVER STOPS MOVING, does it?  Hopefully I’ll be back before long with updates of our summer vacay and birthdays!


Disney in March!

June 22, 2014

This is about that one time we randomly went to Disney World on the fly.


Mama bear and I had been dreaming of a warm spring getaway, but I have commitment problems.  It’s nearly impossible for me to give a definite “yes! I’ll be there!” to anything in advance — even FL after a long, cold winter.  But when mama bear suggested she was still into planning a trip just four short days before we’d actually leave for said trip, I thought, “yes! I’ll be there!”  And so, the girls, my mom, and I drove the 24 hours to Orlando where the rest of my fam met up with us a few days later.  (Poor Jason was left at home to work and take care of the dogs.)

Surprisingly, 24 hours in the car over two days with a two year old and 7 month old wasn’t terrible.  We made great time on the way down, and hardly used the in-car TV/DVD system.




We spent our first day in FL relaxing by a pool.  It was kind of windy and chilly, but that didn’t stop Lil from enjoying the pool.  She swam all around and made a few new friends.  Two preteen girls were kind enough to follow her around the pool for at least 45 min.  I didn’t catch their names, but she referred to the older, red-headed girl as “my mermaid friend”.  Eleanor and I did a bit of swimming together, but we got a little cold and weren’t as into it.  We also made a midday trip out for food and princess dresses/shoes/crowns.



On our second day in Orlando, we picked up my brothers, sister, and dad from the airport, and headed to the Hard Rock Hotel.  We messed around for a while getting hotel rooms (the place was booked but the room they first gave us reeked of smoke so we switched).  We ended up in a nice room on the top floor, which gave us access to the little clubhouse that served free drinks, apps, and desserts (score!).  After happy hour, we ate at Margaritaville, which was exciting because a plastic model of Lilly’s fave shark – the hammerhead – was hanging from the ceiling.  But Lil started feeling sick partway through dinner, and ended up running a temp later in the night.  We left dinner early, but fortunately my bro and sis stayed out a bit later and were kind enough to run to the store for Tylenol before coming back to the hotel.



We spent the following day at Universal Islands of Fun.  My siblings, dad, and I went over early to check out the Harry Potter ride (awesome, but nearly made me motion sick) and go on a few rollercoasters before my mom showed up with the kiddos.  Luckily, Lil seemed to be feeling better.  We played on the Dr Seuss playground for a while, and Lil found a little “house” and made herself right at home (note her shoes off above!).  We rode the carousel, and Lil was sufficiently freaked out the ENTIRE time.  We had a brief brush with fame, riding the carousel with no other than AC Slater, who is as terribly tan in person as he is on whatever celebrity talk show he hosts (Extra?).  Eleanor was her usual sweet, quiet little self, just taking everything in from her happy little Ergo perch!

Later in the day, we headed over to Disney, and checked in to the Port Orleans hotel.  Lilly seemed better that evening, but was running a temperature the next day, and vomited (twice!) in the restaurant when we went for breakfast.  So the girls and I hung out in the hotel room watching Disney Junior for the rest of the day while my fam had a relaxing day by the pool.  That night we visited Downtown Disney, where grandpa spoiled Lilly with a very lovely Cinderella dress!  She. was. THRILLED.  Like dancing her way through Downtown Disney THRILLED.  It was too cute!

The following day, we made reservations to see the princesses at the Magic Kingdom.  These pictures pretty much sum up exactly how our princess-visiting went.  Yep, I have some very -ahem- lovely pictures of myself with the princesses.  Also, baby E did her share of posing adorably (while I hope hope hoped she didn’t spit up on their dresses).  Tiny sister had to take one for the team — because we were there, and SOMEONE was going to get a photo with the princesses!







This last photo makes me laugh so much.  Ariel was a very hilarious princess to visit, and she was really sweet about the fact that she was terrifying my toddler.  Later Lilly told me that she would not sit with Ariel because she needed her mermaid dress and we did not pack her mermaid dress.  Which makes perfect sense since she had just visited Cinderella while wearing her Cinderella dress.


The stroller situation at Disney is insane.  They keep moving your stroller, too, so you’re never really sure where you’ll find it.  A million points to my sister for climbing in there and finding the cheap umbrella stroller we bought just days before.  If we went again, I’d be tempted to just baby/toddlerwear and pack as little gear as possible.

Unfortunately, we arrived at Disney midmorning with approximately 3.2 million of our friends, and it was HOT out there.  So we ditched the crowds and heat around noon, heading back to the hotel instead.  We rallied after dinner – Lil took a nap in the stroller and Elli slept in the Ergo on the way back to the Magic Kingdom.  We walked the park, riding our fave rides — both kids slept through Pirates of the Caribbean, then Lil woke to enjoy It’s a Small World, the new Little Mermaid ride (three times!), Winnie the Pooh, and Peter Pan.  Lil had a BLAST riding the rides, and we had the benefit of cooler temps and no lines!  I think that we’ll have to attempt this strategy again next time — nap in the afternoon and stay late into the evening.  We saw the fireworks over Cinderella’s castle (still talked about to this day) and fit in another princess visit – Belle.


She got over her princess fears for this picture, and then told me she wanted to go back to see Cinderella “to tell her I’m feeling better.”  Very sweet and a little sad!  (Also, seconds after this picture was taken, E vommed all over me in front of a room full of people. Classy!)  We went on a few more rides, then watched the light up parade and left as the park was closing.  It was a really fantastic time!  I can’t wait to bring both girls back when E is a little bigger and knows what’s going on.



We stayed at Disney’s Animal Kingdom resort the last two nights of our trip, and it was amazing.  We were somehow upgraded to an amazing two-story suite with three bedrooms, four baths, a two-story living room, and a kitchen/dining room.  It was very lifestyles of the rich and famous.  So that was awesome.  And the view from our patio was even better: tons of different African animals moving through the large courtyard — zebras, giraffes, oh my!  I think we were all pretty captivated with the animals, and it was so cool to hang out on the patio just watching.  Lilly was fascinated.  She was also drinking from a plastic cup that she placed on the patio ledge even though she was warned that it would fall down.  So moments later, no one (except Lil) was surprised when it did fall into the animal enclosure and I had the distinct pleasure of calling the front desk to let them know so they’d send someone over to find it.  I was pretty impressed when an upset Lilly suggested that she could fix it if she got a rope and climbed down… it was the first time I’d heard/seen such problem solving from her!



We spent much of our last two days at the hotel pools.  Elli was my tiny buddy, swimming with me and napping on me.  She is such a sweet, content, happy little thing!  And while E was cuddling up a storm, big sister Lilly was swimming her little heart out and mastering the water slide.  She had such a blast!  And made a few friends while she was at it.




On our last afternoon in town, my mom, the girls, and I headed to Animal Kingdom.  We had time to quickly go on the animal safari, but didn’t get to see many of the other animals.  We quickly walked the park, saw a 3D bug movie in the tree of life, ate some popcorn, and hopped in the car to make the long, long drive home.  Lilly cried – she didn’t want to go home.  I didn’t really want to return to snowy, cold MI at that point either, but we were missing Jason and it was time to get back to reality!



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