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September 17, 2005

Quality Time With Grandpa


Today we spent a little quality time with Grandpa Maier at Lion Country Safari. Kate and I had visited LCS recently, so we knew what to expect. Ken and Grandpa, on the other hand, were surprised how much had changed since either of them had last visited. It wasn't the old dirt road safari that it once was years ago. There was just so much more to do and see. Except for the scorching heat, we had a great time.
Posted by Jean-Marie at 09:27 PM

September 16, 2005

Sesame Street Live! (or Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain!)


Rounding out our week-long vacation with daddy, Kate, Ken and I went to the Sesame Street Live! production of Elmo's Coloring Book. Kate had a lot of fun but I personally don't think it was as fun as the Winnie The Pooh - Disney Live! show. First, they wouldn't let the kids dance or hang out in the aisles of the theatre like they did at the Disney show. Although, Ken did take a picture of Kate breaking that rule. :-) Oh well. That's why we got aisle seats. Who can expect a squirmy toddler to seat for that long? Second, this show had A LOT less audience participation activities than Winnie The Pooh. And lastly, they had a lot more technical difficulties.

For example, all of the colors disappear on Sesame Street and the curtain is supposed to open to show us a colorless Sesame Street. The curtain only opens a crack...too small to see anything Then they use this machine of some sort to bring all the colors back. The machine is powered up and miraculously all of the colors reappear. The curtain is still only open just a crack. Not only did we not see a colorless Sesame Street but we never saw the colors reappear. This curtain problem happened too many times to count. And it was much worse when the characters were singing and dancing and talking behind the curtain and we saw nothing.

But the best was when the wrong curtain opened and there was a stagehand standing there like a deer in headlights backstage with all of the props and set pieces. Thank goodness Kate is too young too realize or understand. But the show definitely lost it momentum at times and left Kate a little more restless than the Disney show.

Ken took a few pictures during the show, which I'm sure was probably breaking some type of "flash photography" rule. They had lots of rules for this show (although it was in the same theatre as the last show). I also took a picture of Kate holding her Elmo next to a stand-up Elmo in the lobby before the show. She doesn't look very enthusiastic but that's because she was much more interested in getting into the theatre than standing around taking pictures. And I also took a picture of Kate in the backseat of the car after the show. She was playing with some streamers that shot out of the sky during the show's big finale. She's so silly sometimes. And what a ham to pose for the camera.

We purchased the CD of the original Elmo's Coloring Book soundtrack at the show. Did I also mention that Elmo sings very little throughout the show? Oscar the Grouch gets more stage time. Anyway, we play the CD often in the car. Actually we play one song over and over and over again in the car. Kate loves the song, A New Way To Walk. For the Sesame Street set, you may have seen the song featured on the show with Destiny's Child singing it. In the show, however, it is sung by the Palettes. We listen to it "again" and "again" and "again."
Posted by Jean-Marie at 10:41 PM

September 15, 2005

First *Big Girl* Dentist Visit


More than a year ago Kate had her very first dentist visit. It was more in response to a teeth discoloration scare than anything, but the dentist took a good look to make sure everything was a-okay and developing correctly.

With Kate nearing 2, it was time for a big girl dentist visit with a big girl cleaning and examination. You'd think Kate would be fussy and cranky (like most dental patients) during the whole process but instead she was perfect. Not a whine. Not a cry. Mostly smiles.

The day before Kate's appointment both Ken and I had our own dental appointments. We brought Kate with us to witness the process: what happens and how it all works. I think this is why Kate cheerfully accepted her time in dentist chair.

Kate is still a little smaller than most of the office patients so she had to sit on daddy's lap and lean backwards into the hygienist's/dentist's lap. She was also too small for the sunglasses they provide to the children to keep them comfortable from the glaring light. So, we used her sunglasses instead. I ran to the car to get them and her Elmo puppet we brought along for the trip. I pulled out the Elmo puppet when the cleaning was nearly over and had him talking, clapping and cheering Kate on over daddy's shoulder for doing such a great job while getting her teeth cleaned. She thought it was just so fabulous that Elmo was there.

Kate was really good through the whole cleaning. I don't think I saw her wince once. She actually seemed to enjoy that suction device. It must of felt funny sucking out the water the hygienist was squirting in her mouth to clean off the paste.

After the cleaning, it was the dentist's turn. He said everything looked great. Whew! But can you believe it's already time to start flossing? To tell you the truth I haven't even tried to floss her teeth yet but I will. She sees me floss every night and often pretends with her own strand of floss but we haven't officially tried it yet.

Once the whole appointment was over Ken asked Kate, "Was that fun?" Her answer, "Yeah!"

And like Kate's very first dental appointment, even though this was a lot less traumatic for her, she (and baby doll) had a really good nap afterwards....in mommy and daddy's bed of course.

September 14, 2005

Kate's First Trip To Disney

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After an exciting first trip to Disney World, Kate is huge fan of Mickey Mouse and all things Disney. And as great as the trip turned out to be, I can't say that it started off too smoothly. We had planned to leave for the 3-hour Orlando drive after an early lunch so that Kate would take her regular nap during the drive and recharge before her first theme park visit.

We thought she would be sound asleep within 30 minutes of being on the road. Instead, the whole drive she was crabby, fussy and demanding. When I say demanding I mean she wanted teddy grahams fed to her one-by-one by mommy or daddy. She refused to eat them on her own out of her snack cup. As for me, I was starting what would later become a 5-day bout with laryngitis and a sinus infection (the reason I'm in so few of our Disney pictures) and was definitely ready for my nap.

After trying about every trick I could think of to get Kate to sleep, she finally drifted off about 30 minutes prior to our arrival. We dragged out the 30 minutes to an hour by not turning off or removing Kate from the car. As soon as we tried to move Kate from the car to the hotel room she woke up, as suspected. She wanted to know where Mickey Mouse was, since one of my "tricks" was telling her that she could see Mickey Mouse as soon as she napped.

Our only real goal for our first trip to Disney with an almost-2-year old was to see the Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage! show at MGM Studios and all of its characters and to see a fireworks display. So as soon as we got our luggage in the room and got a quick bite to eat at the hotel we headed off to MGM. We probably could have turned around and went home after the short ride on the tram (which Kate called a train) from the car to the front gate. She loved the ride so much that she really didn't need too much more excitement after that. Little did she know what was ahead.

Although we missed the character meet-and-greets for the day, we were able to get into the Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage! show. Kate saw all of her favorite TV characters: Pooh, Piglet, JoJo, Goliath and Stanley. She waited, watched, laughed and danced. Again we could've just headed home after the show and all would've been great in her universe. She had a fabulous time, and the trip had only just begun.

We didn't do much else that evening other than meander around MGM and wait for Fantasmic! For Fantasmic! we got a seat near the aisle in the back so we could make a quick exit if Kate got nervous about the show. Neither Ken nor I had seen it before, so we didn't know what to expect beyond Mickey fights a few scary villains in his nightmare and it could get loud. We didn't need to worry though. Other than being a typical squirmy toddler, Kate really enjoyed the show -- especially the parts with Mickey Mouse and her other favorite characters.

After the show we were done for the night. And after another fun-filled ride on the tram :-) we went back to the hotel to wash up and get ready for a full day of Disney to follow.

On Day 2 pre-nap we returned to MGM to meet with our favorite characters that we had missed the day before because "they had already gone to sleep." I think the character meetings were the most fun for Kate. She met Piglet, JoJo and Goliath, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Winnie the Pooh. Seeing the characters up close and personal made her a little nervous at first. She definitely wouldn't take a picture without mom or dad by her side. But by the time she saw Pooh, she was giving hugs and kisses.

The only other thing we did at MGM was the Voyage of The Little Mermaid. Either it was too close to naptime or the show was very, very interesting. Either way, Kate sat on daddy's lap and closely watched the show without so much as a peep.

After our "family" nap we headed over to the Magic Kingdom for some dinner and the fireworks show. Kate has been on a train kick lately, so we took a quick ride on the Walt Disney World Railroad as soon as we got to the park. We all had fun saying "all aboard" at each stop.

We had a little bit of time after dinner and before the fireworks, so we strolled over to Fantasyland to try a few toddler-friendly rides. There were no lines to wait in, and we got to ride quite a few rides quickly before the fireworks. We went on The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh, twice, It's a Small World and Peter Pan's Flight. Kate and I also went on Dumbo The Flying Elephant ride together. That ride was a lot faster than I remember...for a kiddy ride. :-)

Kate was way too excited about all of the rides to go anywhere to see fireworks. Although we didn't get the perfect view, we got a pretty good show right there in Fantasyland. After the fireworks it was time again to head to the hotel room, clean up and recharge for the final day of our Disney trip.

For Day 3 we kept our plans very low-key. No rides, parades or fireworks. Just brunch at Chef Mickey's. Kate, though, was up and ready to go see her buddy Mickey Mouse. Apparently we kept the best for last, because Kate couldn't have had a better time unless maybe if the brunch was on a train. :-) She definitely got her fill of character meetings.

At first Kate was shy and reserved but, like the days before, she soon opened up and became quite friendly. Here she is coyly eating her eggs and pretending there isn't a giant chipmunk sitting next to her. And in no time at all she was playing peek-a-boo with Mickey and Pluto. She thought it was great fun. This picture with Kate and Goofy is one of my favorites. Just look at that smile. Kate's. Not Goofy's.

All of the pictures from our brunch were just so cute. Kate had a fabulous time talking and laughing and dancing with everyone. We got very little eating done. As you can see very few of the pictures were taken at our table. By the end of brunch I think she was hoping she could take all of her new friends home. Instead, we checked out of the hotel and headed home to try to resume to our normal routine. Luckily, Kate napped the whole way home...while visions of mouse ears danced in her head.

The three of us can't wait to return to the happiest place on Earth. Hopefully next time the ride there will go a little bit more smoothly and no one will be sick. Other than that we couldn't have planned our trip any better.
Posted by Jean-Marie at 10:19 PM

September 06, 2005

Labor Day Weekend at Omi's



We took the opportunity of a 3-day weekend to visit Omi and Jay. Omi is Ken's grandmother and Kate's great-grandmother. Kevin (Ken's brother and Kate's uncle) also joined us. Kate loved exploring all of the areas and items in Omi's house. We also had fun showing off some of our swimming skills to Omi and Uncle Kevin in Omi's pool.


We didn't take many pictures...only a few on our last day together. I love these two of Kate waving "bye-bye" to Jay off-camera, then leaning in to give him a kiss. She's so sweet.



After a big, exciting weekend and a little bit of a cold, Kate was ready to return home to her normal routine. She didn't make it far in the car before falling fast asleep for the whole 2+ hour ride home.
Posted by Jean-Marie at 10:17 PM