Saturday, February 15, 2014

5th birthday party, check up, and school plans.

Since we did the trip to Orlando, we weren't going to have a party for Aubrey's birthday. But, she kept asking us to plan different things for her party and she was so excited about the idea of a party, so there was no way we could skip out on a party. About a month before her birthday, I saw that our local Sweet Frog frozen yogurt shop was offering a birthday party package so I thought that would be perfect for Aubrey since she loooooves Sweet Frog. We decided to keep it pretty small and invite just a few friends because the pocketbook strings would be a little tighter after the trip.

It turned out to be such a good party for Aubrey. 4 of the 5 friends she invited showed up and they had a such a good time eating frozen yogurt and opening presents. It was a little crowded in the shop and I'm sure the other customers were deaf after listening to 4 preschool girls squeal, but none of that mattered to the birthday girl. 

Todd took Aubrey to the doctor for this year's well child check since I had to work. She weighs 39 lbs (45th%) and is 3' 5.75" tall (35th%). She has dropped a bit from her usual growth curve, but Dr. Little didn't seem to be troubled by that for now. She passed all of her screenings with flying colors and Dr. Little said she is on track for everything. The bittersweet part of the exam included Dr. Little completing her kindergarten physical paperwork and giving us a copy of her shot records for the school. 

Kindergarten is such a hot topic amongst the parents of 4 and 5 year olds. Discussions started at preschool around Christmas last year about what our plans were for Aubrey for school. While we are ok with our local elementary school and middle school we are not quite so fond of our appointed high school. Its not terrible, but some things I've heard do not make me feel quite so happy about sending either child there. So, we've been researching charter schools in the area and decided to apply for 3 of them. All of the charters have lotteries, so we should be finding out in the next few weeks if Aubrey gets a slot in any of them. If she does, great. If not, we will be just fine with sending her to the public school, but will continue to apply for charter schools until she can hopefully get a seat. I know high school is a long time from now, so hopefully if we have to stay in the public schools, we will have moved into a better high school district before we need to worry about it.

So, our season of birthdays has ended for the year. It is always fun to have the birthday excitement, but after what usually turns into at least 3 weeks of birthday celebrations, we are ready for some quiet and relaxation. 

Turning Five in Orlando

It has taken me so long to write this post because it is so bittersweet. My sweet Aubrey Grace turned 5 this year and I'm still in a little bit of denial. Since Aubrey was born, we've planned to take her to Disney on her 5th birthday. It seemed like such a long time away when she was born, but before we knew it, it was July 2013 and time to start booking the trip. We kept the whole thing a surprise until a few days before  when we told her we were going on a trip to Florida for her birthday, but didn't say what we were doing in Florida. We made the looong drive down there the day before her birthday and told her we were going to a big park the next day. So, on her actual birthday we woke her up and this is what happened.

(Short version, she wasn't very excited at first, but warmed up over time.)

We got to the park and got on the monorail and of course, Mason was in heaven since its so much like a train. Aubrey still wasn't too sure about the whole Disney thing until we got into the park and she laid eyes on Cinderella's castle. This was my 5th trip to the Magic Kingdom and I was still excited, but nothing beats watching a child experience it for the first time. We got to enter the park before it opened since our breakfast reservation at Cinderella's Royal Table was for 9:05. We got to take a few pictures in front of the castle before the park opened and then got sprinkled with "pixie dust" (AKA, a crap ton of glitter that will survive the apocalypse since it took 4-5 washings to come out). We walked into Cinderella's castle at 9:00 and before we knew it, Cinderella herself walked out. We still weren't sure how Aubrey would react to the characters themselves, but she surprised us completely by giving Cinderella a huge hug and even talked to her. She got a glimpse at some of the other princesses before we sat down and was disappointed when they left before she could meet them. We ordered breakfast (which they were amazing with Mason's dairy issues by sending out the chef to discuss what he could and couldn't eat) and then they re-introduced each princess and Aubrey was in heaven. Each princess walks to every table and spends a few minutes with the children before moving on to the next table. She got to meet Snow White, Ariel, Aurora, and Jasmine and I thought she was going to break their necks hugging and loving on them. The Disney princess absolutely rock at their jobs and they treated Aubrey and Mason like royalty. It was just as amazing as we hoped and worth every single expensive penny we paid for that breakfast.

After breakfast, we spent most of our day in Fantasyland since that was where most of the rides for Aubrey were.  We did spend some time in the other "lands" during the day, but with our Fast Pass schedule, we spend most of our day running back to Fantasyland for our ride times. We met Cinderella and Aurora again in the Hall of Princesses, participated in and met Belle in her show, and met Ariel again (this time as a true mermaid). We thought our day had been topped in best experiences by Cinderella's Royal Table until after we met Ariel. As we were leaving Ariel's Grotto, these 3 Disney staff members come up to Aubrey and start talking to her. They asked her if she had done everything she wanted to do on her birthday and she looks at us very confused by their question. They reworded their question to ask what she had done over the day and she told them about the rides and meeting the princesses. They asked her if she'd met all the princess and she said all of them except Rapunzel. We wanted to see Rapunzel earlier in the day, but chose the wrong line in the Hall of Princesses and by the end of the day the wait was over an hour to meet her. So, the staff asked if she would like to meet Rapunzel and Aubrey nodded yes so they asked us to follow them. 2 of the staff grabbed Aubrey's hands and she talked their heads off the entire walk. Todd and I were still a little confused and shocked about this whole thing. We weren't sure what was happening but we were curious what they were planning for Aubrey. They led us back to the Hall of Princesses and basically fast passed us through the line to meet Rapunzel. Then, they gave Aubrey an autograph book (yes, we were super slack and forgot about that earlier in the day), pen, a Cinderella collectible pin, and another Fast Pass for us to use on another ride of our choice. Todd and I were almost in tears at this point. We couldn't believe they were so sweet and doing this for our little girl. So, we got to go through the Hall of Princesses again and meet Rapunzel and Snow White (again). It was just amazing and awesome to see Aubrey get her wish for her birthday and I can't thank those unknown Disney staff enough. She used the Fast Pass to ride the Peter Pan ride, which she said was her favorite ride of the day. After dinner, we had to dodge a few rain showers before we watched the Electric Parade. Another magical moment happened during the parade. We were a little late getting to the parade because of dinner so we were standing about 3 rows back when the parade started and it was hard for Aubrey to see. This very sweet mother was sitting on the front row and noticed that Aubrey was struggling so she asked us if it would be ok if Aubrey sat on her lap to watch the parade. So, Aubrey got front row for the parade and was so excited to see more characters in front of her. After the parade, they used Cinderella's castle as a backdrop for movie clips and fireworks and it was amazing. We finally left Magic Kingdom around 8:30-ish, completely exhausted from such a fantastic day.

We got back to the condo and sang Happy Birthday to Aubrey before letting her dig into a cupcake (yeah, I understand the hype about Publix' cupcakes now. They are good.)

We originally planned to spend our 2nd day in Animal Kingdom, but late on Sunday we decided to change to Hollywood Studios so Aubrey and Mason could do some of the Disney Junior things. We met Sophia the First right off the bat and then watched a few shows, including the Disney Junior puppet show. That was another magical moment of the trip because Aubrey and Mason were both fascinated watching the characters in person that they see on tv everyday. There weren't quite as many rides for the kids at Hollywood Studios, but the kids seemed to enjoy themselves. We did meet Minnie and Mickey Mouse at the end of the day and both kids enjoyed that.

Our 3rd and final day of the trip was spent at Islands of Adventure at Universal Studios. This was more for Todd's benefit because he really wanted to visit the Harry Potter attraction. There was a Dr. Seuss attraction that both kids enjoyed, but the rest of the Islands of Adventure park is really geared for adults. I will admit the Harry Potter area was awesome, though. Todd rode the castle tour and we all drank some awesome, yummy butter beer. I wish we had had one more day to do the other side of Universal Studios so that is one of our priorities when we go back for Mason's birthday.

Wednesday, we had to drive back following the ice/snow storm in Georgia, SC, and NC. We had so many people try to convince us to delay our trip another day after the drama in Atlanta, but I had to go to work the next day so that wasn't an option. The drive back was not too bad and we didn't see any snow until we were almost in Columbia, SC.

So, it was a whirlwind trip and we learned quite a few things for our next trip. I can't wait to go back in 3 years and do it all over again.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The 2nd Birthday Party

We decided to have Mason's 2nd birthday party at home and keep it pretty small. Even though it was small, I wanted it to be fun and 2-year old geared so we went with the construction theme. He loves trucks and dirt, so it was perfect for him. He seemed to enjoy it and I think that is the most important thing.

The spread

No construction party is complete without dirt cake

His little serving of dirt cake

Dirt cake mustache 

Sharing his favorite present with his buddy Tyler

And then he was TWO!

I swear, the birthdays really snuck up on us this year. And that's crazy since I have a full year to think about them. I started getting early ideas in my head about Mason's birthday in late fall, but going back to work and the hustle and bustle of the holidays took so much of my time that it was the day after Christmas before I really started putting firm plans in place. Luckily, the busyness kept me from drowning in the bittersweetness that is having your baby turn 2. It means he's really not a baby at all anymore. He's full on crazy, but lovable little boy.

I kept us busy on his actual birthday by going to Discovery Place Kids, getting cupcakes, and wrapping his presents. These were good distractions that still focused on him and reminded me that I am so lucky to be his mom and glad that we were blessed to have him in our lives.

Another bittersweet part of him turning 2 is this is my last monthly post. Ever. Sigh....

Milestones this month:
*No teeth came through this month. I was a little surprised because I thought a molar was pretty close last month. But, no dice.
*We argued and debated for weeks before we finally made the tough decision to turn his car seat around. I really wanted to keep him rear facing as long as possible, but it was becoming a hazard to drive with him because he would scream the second  you put him in the seat and would scream off and on the entire trip. The trip to Atlanta was our final straw because he screamed most of the 4 hour trip and we just realized it was time. Sadly, the day I actually turned the seat around, he was quite a grumpy little man, so he didn't give me the happy reaction I hoped for. But, the screaming has completely stopped and driving is much easier now.
*We took him to McAdenville for the Christmas lights and decided to walk the tour this year and he was amazed. He kept saying "Lights. Mommy, Daddy, look. Lights." Over and over again. It was so cute.
*Christmas was a blast with him. He enjoyed opening presents, but was really more excited to be in the playroom and able to play with those toys.
*Speaking of playroom, after we took the tree down we decided to leave the gate off the playroom entrance so Mason could go in. He was thrilled. For the first few weeks, he wouldn't leave the playroom and insisted on playing with the kitchen set and Aubrey's other toys. We bought a new toy bin to put in the room and were able to clear the toys completely out of the living room. After 2 years, it is so nice to have our living room back again.
*He had his 2-year check up on the 20th. His stats were 24 lbs, 7 oz (10th%), 32.5" tall (13th%), and 47.5 cm head circumference (20th%). The first thing Dr. Little brought up when he came in was his concern over Mason's drop from his growth curve. He seems to think Mason is not getting enough protein and fat from the hemp milk and that is why he is not gaining like he should. I also shared that we are struggling to get Mason to eat much of anything except his same handful of choices (pb&j, hot dogs, waffles, fruit). He has been refusing most protein and all vegetables. We discussed that he has continuing issues with dairy products, but not so much soy anymore. He wants to see if he has possibly outgrown the milk protein intolerance, and now has some lactose intolerance instead. So he encouraged us to make an attempt with lactose free products and Lactaid so see what happens. Otherwise, he said Mason is perfectly healthy and developmentally on track. So, we've started a trial of the lactose free stuff and we'll see how it goes.

One of my favorites from his 2-year old session.

Seeing his birthday cupcake for the first time.

Testing out the birthday wheels.