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December 30, 2005

Happy 80th Birthday Grandmom

We visited grandmom today -- the day before her 80th birthday -- for a pre-birthday celebration. We did a quick lunch then headed out to a local park. What better way to celebrate than to watch your 2-year old great-granddaughter run around on the playground? Grandmom never took her turn on the swing, but she did have a lot of fun watching Kate enjoy herself.

I love these pictures of the two of them together. They sure do look like they're having fun. That last picture is of Kate tickling Grandmom's arm with "spiders." Spiders or not, Kate had no problem putting a smile on Grandmom's face.
Posted by Jean-Marie at 08:07 PM

December 26, 2005

Christmas Day

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We arrived home pretty late after our Christmas Eve celebration. Everyone was very sleepy, even Santa's elves. Luckily all of the presents were wrapped, and the only real labor that needed to be done was the assembly of Kate's new kitchen.

So after we all bathed and got ready for bed we only had one last, imperative thing to do: leave out some cookies and chocolate milk for Santa and a carrot each for the reindeer. Kate and I set it up but it was Kate's job to select the location of where to put the tasty treats. She was very certain that it should be at the dining room table in front of a chair so Santa could sit and eat. I guess she wanted him to take a load off during his long, busy night.

Christmas morning was so thrilling. First we checked to see if the snacks had been eaten and of course they had. Oh! The big man was here! And then when Kate saw the gifts...my goodness...the excitement. She was so overwhelmed that she didn't notice any one gift in particular, like the big kitchen sitting in front of her. Here she is checking out a Dora backpack and she still doesn't notice the kitchen. Look how excited she is over the backpack.

One of her favorite gifts was this cash register. The little microphone really works. Kate and I enjoy keeping Daddy busy with "price checks." And Kate just loves to give everyone change whether they purchase something or not.

And finally...the kitchen. Wow. Is this for me? And it has a phone. Maybe I should give Santa a call right now and let him know how great this whole Christmas thing is. And there was food for the fridge, even bacon. Salt and pepper. Check. Boiling water. Check. Ice cream. Check. We're all set.

Other exciting gifts included princess gear. So now Kate can get all gussied up, go to the supermarket, use the self-check out aisle and be a happy shopper. Using that cash register, though, is some pretty serious stuff.

And once Kate's gifts were all open, it was time to help Mommy open her gifts. What's this? An emergency window breaker? Hmmm...next year I'll have to let Santa know that a princess dress for Mommy would be so much more lovely.

Finally, present fatigue began to set in and it was time for a nap before a visit from Grandpa John and Uncle John later that day.

Thank goodness for that nap because Grandpa John, Margot and Uncle John came with even more gifts. Kate and Mommy opened a castle from Margot. Kate really dug it because it was all part of that princess/Cinderella castle theme. But apparently toys aren't only for the kids. Grandpa John and Daddy enjoyed playing with Kate's new castle as well.

Uncle "Prince Charming" John had some good bonding time with Kate. They made each other laugh the whole night. And he even helped her put on her glass slippers. By the way, glass slippers are this season's "it" shoe. As a matter of fact, tiara, wand and slippers should be a staple in every girl's wardrobe. Oh and maybe a backpack too.

And finally we were back to the cash register. Everyone got change. Margot. Grandpa John. But from the look on Kate's face I believe we may need a another price check, Daddy.

The holiday season was just so much fun this year. Between the decorations and the trip to Disney and visiting with family and watching Kate "get it," I just can't imagine it can get much better than this.
Posted by Jean-Marie at 11:38 AM

December 24, 2005

2005 Christmas Eve

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This year for Christmas Eve we went to Edi and Monika's home to celebrate. Edi and Monika are Kate's great aunt and uncle. They hosted a lovely gathering with a delicious meal.

This holiday season Kate was really spoiled. With gifts? Yes. But also by attention. Since she's the only small child in the family, she got lots of attention.

Kate spent some time with grandpa watching the train go around the Christmas tree. She also had lots of fun opening gift after gift after gift with Omi and Monika. And after the gifts were open it was, of course, time to play. Kate spent a lot of one-on-one time with her Omi. Omi even taught Kate how to play with Mr. Potato Head.

Since Ken and I are usually the ones taking the pictures, we rarely get a picture alone with Kate or as a family. This year we really tried to do "Daddy and Kate" and "Mommy and Kate" pictures. First up was Daddy. Kate was much more interested in Edi and Monika's German bear and statue carousel pony. Kate and the bear look good, but where was Daddy? :-) So Daddy was out and the bear was in.

When it was my turn I was a bit wiser than Ken and tried to peek around Kate and the bear so you could at least see my face. Forget about my face, though, what's up with Kate's face? So Mommy was out and the horse was in. Hmmmm...so much for those family pictures. Kate seems to pose to the beat of her own drum.

December 19, 2005

Kate and Jillian At The Playground

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Today Kristen and Jillian stopped by for a play date at the playground. Since Kristen's birthday is only a few days away Kate and I surprised her with a little impromptu celebration which included a small banner, a few gifts and birthday cake. The girls enjoyed eating cake together at Kate's table and then entertaining Kristen with some tunes on the piano.

Kate and Jillian also exchanged Christmas gifts. We got Jillian a Cinderella dress-up set -- dress, shoes, tiara and wand. (Since I'm a little late making this post I can also say that I know Jillian has slept in her dress at least once since getting it.) Kate received a cute little Ariel jogging set and faux CD player and CDs, which she loves. You can see the player in this picture slung over her arm and the CDs in her hand while she's playing the piano. We've already had to change the batteries once since getting it. (I can say that since I'm really posting this in February...boy am I behind!)

So after cake and gifts we headed out to the playground for more excitement. Kate and Jillian had a blast playing together. It's too bad that Kristen and Jillian live a couple of hours away. They're so much fun to play with. We wish we could see them more often.

We only had "trouble" twice during our playground visit. The first time was when a little boy decided to bother the girls on the slide. They pretty much ignored him but it was hard to do since he kept working them for some attention. It didn't seem to get his mom's attention much either. Hmmm? I wonder why he's like that?

And the second time was when Kate decided to take Jillian and make a run for it. Jillian kept pausing and looking back at Kristen. She knew she was up to no good. Kate on the other hand just kept running...until...I yelled to her that she was heading to Crocodile Lake (a map location from Dora the Explorer). At that point she dropped to the ground, reached out and whined to Mommy to come and get her. Jillian, like a good friend, followed along. I don't think she knew what to make of Kate's shenanigans.

Following our outing I made a little Shutterfly book out of our playground pictures entitled Jillian and Kate At The Playground. I purchased 2 copies: one for Kate and one for Jillian. It's one of Kate's favorite reads. She can practically recite it from memory at this point. She also loves watching the short little videos I made of the girls clowning around...and in some cases...around and around and around. :-)
Posted by Jean-Marie at 06:23 PM

December 18, 2005

Mickey's (and Kate's) Very Merry Christmas

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At the start of December we took Kate to Disney for the second time. This time, though, we went specifically for two things: 1) Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party and 2) The Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights. And needless to say, since it is Disney after all, we weren't disappointed. Quite the contrary. We had a blast!

It was a brisk night (brisk for Florida) on the evening we attended Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, and the chilly weather made it all the more excited. Disney went all out on the details. A holiday themed parade. Characters all decked out in holiday gear. Lights everywhere. Snow on Main Street. It felt so Christmas-y! Ken and I really enjoyed the complimentary cocoa, while Kate loved the cookies. We couldn't have enjoyed ourselves any more. It's definitely on the list of things to do in 2006.

On the second day of our vacation we headed back to the Magic Kingdom. We went on all of Kate's favorite rides, as well as some new favorites. We also visited with all of Kate's favorite characters: Mickey, Pooh, Eeyore and Tigger. This time she enjoyed taking her picture alone with each of them. It was hard to get her to look at the camera sometimes, since she was so in awe of them.

That same evening we went to MGM to see the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights...and what a spectacle it was. It was just amazing. We had never seen so many lights. Kate enjoyed trying to catch the snow, as well as more picture with 2 more of her favorite characters: Goofy and Pluto. See what I mean about being in awe of the characters. Kate was much more interested in checking out Pluto's doggy whiskers than posing for a picture with him.

On day 3 we took Kate to Animal Kingdom for the first time. She loved it even more than I thought she would. Here favorites were: The Festival of the Lion King show, The TriceraTop Spin, The Wildlife Express Train and The Kilimanjaro Safari. Ken, Kate and I also spent quite a bit of time at The Boneyard. Any place with slides is a big hit with our family. Kate was also excited to see one of her favorite Playhouse Disney characters, Stanley, and his goldfish Dennis.

That evening we went to Downtown Disney to wear Kate out just a little bit more before bed. :-) We strolled around and she posed for pictures with inanimate characters, like The Princesses (with Daddy too), Mickey, Minnie, Buzz Lightyear and Mr. Potato Head. That was definitely enough excitement for Day 3.

On our 4th and final day at Disney we went to Epcot for brunch with the characters, as well as for a few rides and attractions. Besides the characters of course, Kate's favorite part of her brunch was dessert. She got to meticulously decorate and eat her own little cupcake. Yum! And I guess Bruce the Shark felt a little jealous and left out on the cupcake action, so he had Ken, Kate and I for dessert instead. :-)

By mid afternoon that was all of the excitement our little Kate could handle, so we got in our car and headed back home. This is what we found in the backseat just minutes after leaving the park. No doubt she had visions of Mickey Mouse dancing in her head.
Posted by Jean-Marie at 10:20 PM

December 17, 2005

The Wiggles Live!

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On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving (yes I'm a little behind on my entries), our little family of three headed down to the American Airlines Arena in Miami to see The Wiggles. Kate really enjoys The Wiggles so we knew it would be quite the event. Although we had been talking about seeing The Wiggles for weeks, Kate wasn't really sure what to expect, especially upon entering the huge arena with the little stage down below and all of the seats up above. It wasn't quite like the theatrical stage shows we had seen in the past with her, nor was it like meeting Mickey Mouse at Disney World.

At first she didnít really get it. She heard their music and saw them on the big screens hung on either side of the stage. It wasn't until she saw Murray and Jeff in the audience that the lightbulb went on -- that we were watching The Wiggles perform live.

To her defense it was a little bit confusing because Greg, the singer, was uanavailable for the show due to illness. Therefore he had his understudy there in his same yellow shirt. Since Greg IS the singer of the group and the stand-in looked and sounded nothing like him I can see where Kate would be a little thrown off.

Nonetheless, when Kate saw the other Wiggles -- Jeff, Murray and Anthony, as well as their friends Captain Feathersword, Wags, Dorothy and Henry -- she started to really get into the show. It was a great show, although without Greg it wasn't quite the same. It was also a little disappointing that there was so little space for the preschoolers to get their groove on. Our knees touched the backs of the seats in front of us.

As you can see in the pictures and video, Kate had a fabulous time and "wiggled" in any space she could find. This included mommy's lap and daddy's lap. I took the video with our digital camera. Sometimes I forget that when I'm in video mode I must keep the camera in the horizontal position. Actually I always forget this, which is why Ken shakes his head and laughs at me when finally realize I've done it again and straighten out the shot. Perhaps I'll get it right for Kate's college graduation...but I doubt it.
Posted by Jean-Marie at 10:56 PM

December 16, 2005

Want me to take your picture?

One of Ken's favorite ways of entertaining Kate during waits is "Want me to take your picture?" He'll pull out his camera phone and snap Kate's picture. She loves to pose for the picture, most of the time, and especially loves to see the tiny real time pictures on Ken's phone.

Ken forwarded these pictures to me back in October and I thought they were worthy of a post. Can you guess which one I find most entertaining? It's probably the same one Kate liked too. :-)

December 15, 2005

Kate "Nancy Drew" Maier

This morning while I was in the bathroom putting on my make-up I heard Kate in the hallway saying, "What's this?" I looked out and saw her in the hallway near my closet pushing around a shopping cart that Santa had gotten her. This cart, may I add, was hidden way in the back of my closet behind all of the clothes. Ken didn't even know it was there. I knew that eventually I'd have to get smarter with hidding stuff but I didn't realize it would happen so soon. Time to get a lock for my closet door!

In any case, she loves her newfound toy. At one point she pushed it back into my closet and ran to her room looking for something. She was looking for things to fill it with.

I spoke with Ken at work. He thinks I can hide it again during naptime and she'll never be the wiser. What do you think?