Thursday, June 20, 2013

Weekend Away: Dutch Wonderland

(photo courtesy of
I am always looking for ways to generate more family time so this Father's Day was no exception.  I had heard of Dutch Wonderland (located in Lancaster, PA) last summer, but with an infant it was too crazy to consider!  I decided that now would be the perfect time for a getaway.  I organized it (albeit at the last minute) and it was a go!

Preparing for this trip seemed a bit easier than other trips, I am assuming because we were only going for a weekend!  I had things relatively organized and just had to wait for Hubby to drop our Copper dog off to a friend and then we would be on our way.  Of course, there was one item I could not locate for our journey: the activity tray for T's car seat.  I looked where I thought it would be, to no avail.  When Hubby returned he looked.  We spent a good twenty minutes looking for this stupid thing and never found it.  Grr.  I HATE losing things!  

Our trip was going pretty smoothly until Mad Man lost it!  Seriously lost it.  Screaming, kicking his feet, inconsolable.  He only napped for about the first hour of the trip, so initially I thought we were golden.  Boy was I wrong. I attempted to deactivate his meltdown by climbing back to sit next to him.  That was clearly not enough.  So, we got off the nearest exit and I nursed him, which calmed him down until I had to put him back in his seat.  Ugh.  More screaming.  He earned a new nickname this trip:  Monster Baby.  He did finally calm down when he realized he was stuck in there. Poor little guy.  Then our directions became a bit confusing and with the fussiness it looked like our ship was going down!  Thankfully, Hubby has a fantastic internal GPS and was able to find the hotel in spite of my less than stellar navigational skills.  At one point he asked if I was even paying attention at all to the directions. The sad part was that I was trying! 

We made it to Lancaster, and met up with Mima, Poppi, and Auntie.  Dutch Wonderland has a cool policy that you can "preview" the park from 5:30 until 8:30 if you buy a full priced ticket for the following day. Awesome!  So, even though it was almost 7:00, and we had not had dinner, we figured we would get as much as we could out of it.  I'm so glad we did.  T had a blast.  We put off dinner and went ride to ride to ride.  There were virtually no lines, which was fantastic.  The kiddos were able to meet the Dutch Wonderland Princess, Prince, and Duke the dragon as well.  The thing that is so cool about this park is that it truly is designed for young children.  There are numerous rides for all heights.  Mad Man could even go on many of the rides (of course helicopter mommy would have to step aside for a few moments to allow this to happen!).  

When the park closed we headed to Red Lobster for dinner.  Both kiddos were beyond tired and hungry, but we decided to try anyway.  T did a great job, where as Mad Man had serious difficulty.  Luckily I only ordered a salad, since I am still unsure as to whether or not I am allergic to seafood (something that seemed to pop up a few years ago) so I was able to wrestle him.  Actually, I think everyone took a turn trying to entertain him.  Poor guy just wants to be on the go!  Then it was time to settle in.  It was probably around 11:00 before the kiddos passed out, but Hubby was out when his head hit the pillow.  Figures. 

We were staying at the Wingate by Wyndham right in Lancaster, and they had a yummy complimentary continental breakfast.  T had a minor meltdown because there were "too many people" eating there, but we were able to diffuse it and had her go back to the room with Poppi.  After breakfast it was off to Dutch Wonderland.  The weather was beautful and we were ready for some fun!  The park did not disappoint.  We spent the morning going on ride after ride.  T absolutely loved the giant slide - she and Hubby went on it countless times.  I even let Mad Man go on these two little rides; one of which T had to help him with because he was so scared.  At one point he was holding on to her shirt with one hand and the side of the ride with the other.  Poor little dude.  We all went on the Double Splash Flume.  Mima and I were not fans (any log flume scares the life out of me!).  Mad Man was scared, but didn't freak out; he actually fared better than Mima and I!  We also watched the Adventures of the Frog Prince water show, which was really cool; although T was scared of the "bad guy".  After lunch we went on a few rides, Mad Man fell asleep, and we headed for Duke's Lagoon.  T and Poppi were the only two that brought bathing suits, so they were ready to go!  Mad Man woke up and was also ready to go as he is truly an Aquarius baby!  He and T loved the water geysers and little slides.  Then T discovered the humongous water slide - Pipeline Plunge - that she and Poppi could go on.  This child has no fear!  They rode that enclosed slide probably five times.  Her little lips were chattering, but she wanted to continue!  We managed to get both little ones away from the water and headed back toward the rides.  We only made it on a few and decided that everyone needed a little break. 

Pipeline Plunge, Turtle Whirl, Frog Hopper (photos courtesy of

We left the park and went to dinner at Miller's.  This place is huge!  It is a smorgasbord restaurant (although they have other options) which serves fresh food.  It was delicious!  I particularly enjoyed the desserts (shocking, I know!).  Now, Mad Man is in that stage of not wanting to sit for a meal, much less a long drawn out smorgasbord meal.  So, after he was full he was ready to go.  Mima attempted to take him to look out the window and somehow lost her balance and fell to the floor.  She landed on her rear, somehow threw Mad Man, and sat there.  As I am writing this I am fighting back the laughter (although at the time it wasn't funny).  These are the moments I love about family vacays - you cannot predict the memories you will make!

After we gorged ourselves we returned to the park to soak up as much fun as we could before closing!  T got to go on all of her favorite rides one more time.  She dragged me on the roller-coaster - The Joust - countless times!  Auntie even convinced me to go with her, Hubby, and Poppi on the large roller-coaster:  the Kingdom Coaster.  Big mistake!  I am not a roller coaster enthusiast at all.  This coaster was super fast!  The little sneak said it would be fun! The tears streaming down my face from the fierce adrenaline coursing through my veins did not scream fun!

The next day we decided to go on a horse and buggy ride - Amish style (thank you Aaron & Jessica's).  Unfortunately, it was Sunday so we were unable to witness the full Amish experience, but we enjoyed our little jaunt with the horses.  Next time we will definitely plan it better so we can go through an Amish community, and stop at an Amish house.

We, of course, hit the outlets (which are right there!) on our way out.  T loved both the Disney outlet and the Toys R Us Express.  Other than getting lost a few more times (okay, my navigation skills need work...I know), we had an uneventful trip home...thankfully.

Overall, the weekend was a success.  I love discovering things about my kiddos, and allowing them to try new things too!  I learned that T is truly a dare devil.  She is not afraid of any ride!  Mad Man on the other hand is more like me, he didn't even like the merry go round.  T Bear and I loved the Turtle Whirl; I finally found someone besides Poppi to endure the tilt-a-whirl type rides with me!  The screams we let out are truly priceless, especially since I think she was screaming to go along with my reaction...too adorable!  T did not like the bumper cars - I can't blame her there; I never understood the enjoyment of ramming into another car.  Watching them discover new things is amazing.

High:  The pure sounds of joy coming from T.  Witnessing T taking care of Mad Man on the kiddie rides.
Low:  The drive.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Disney Vacay: Day 3

Our third day of vacation was certainly a full one.  We started waking the kiddos up early, getting them dressed and ready, and heading to the bus to go to the Animal Kingdom.  Hubby grabbed breakfast for me, which I was able to somewhat scarf down as we raced out the door.  It is no easy task getting two little ones ready, plus worrying about a group of teenage girls and coordinating all of that!  Thank God for Pop Tarts, which is what I fed the kiddos on the bus (hey, no judging allowed!).  It was a very cold morning - not something I was really prepared for in Orlando!

(photo courtesy of
We arrived at the Animal Kingdom with so much excitement.  Hubby wanted to go right to Kilimanjaro Safaris, but I wanted to wait for Auntie and her boyfriend.  So, we headed to DinoLand U.S.A..  We discovered that there were not too many rides for T, due to the height requirements, so we had to deal with that!  T certainly did not understand!  We found a few rides (T really enjoyed TriceraTop Spin) and then went to an attraction called The Boneyard, which has things to climb and slides.  Hubby, his right hand man, and Mad Man stayed in one area while I took T over to a bunch of slides.  Now, I am admittedly a helicopter mommy.  I don't let her run free at the playground; I am always right with her.  So, this was no different.  I walked her up to the slide and then ran down to catch her at the bottom.  This worked a few times and then we headed to a different slide. Well, with this one there was no way for me to make it up the stairs and then back down to catch her.  So, I told her to climb up the stairs and I would meet her at the bottom.  There were kids everywhere running around with no real visible parent involvement.  I waited at the bottom, a few kids came down, but no T.  I looked up to the top, but couldn't see anyone.  Then a few more kids came down and still no T.  My stomach started to knot.  I looked around and didn't see her.  So, I ran up the stairs and realized there were several slides for her to choose from up there and she was not near any of them.  I ran to the other side screaming her name.  I was beyond freaking out.  I happened to see her dart around near the stairs looking panicked.  Thank God for the Rapunzel dress she was wearing - she was easy to spot.  I ran down the stairs a few at a time and screamed for her.  She was just about to exit the attraction when I grabbed her up.  The poor girl was so scared.  She was crying and didn't understand what had happened.  I held her so tightly, my heart still racing.  That has to be one of the worst feelings I have ever felt.  We are very fortunate because that could have gone seriously worse.  I shudder to even think of the things that could have happened.  My advice to single parents: do not attempt this attraction on your own!  We found Hubby, who obviously had no idea what had happened, but I have to say I was irritated with him that I had been doing this on my own while he sat chatting - I'm sure about softball.  Needless to say we left that attraction and T was safely in my arms.  She was definitely shaken by the event and kept asking me questions about why it happened. 

We did another ride and then went to the Finding Nemo musical show.  We all loved it, and then headed to lunch.  The softball team met us there.  Pizzafari - it was a super busy restaurant!  Loved the flatbread pizza. Yummy.  Then Auntie and her boyfriend arrived!  We spent the rest of the day exploring the Animal Kingdom.  We did a lot of walking!  It was fun!  Seeing the Tree of Life is always impressive.  Mad Man really enjoyed our stop at Harambe Fruit Market - very yummy fresh fruit!  The safari was awesome - the best I had ever seen.  We were able to see so many animals. Truly incredible.  We also saw Festival of the the Lion King.  Amazing!  Even if I had to nurse Mad Man during the performance!
 Auntie, boyfriend, and I went on DINOSAUR!  I love that ride...truly exhilarating!  T met Minnie Mouse at Camp Minnie-Mickey, and even though she was disappointed by Minnie's safari outfit (she wished she had her pink dress on), she was excited to meet her.  She actually picked up flowers on the ground as we waited.  I wouldn't let her give them to Minnie fearing that they would reprimand her for picking their flowers!  T did not care for It's Tough to be a Bug!  Actually, neither did Mad Man.  I had to nurse him in that show too!  We had a quick dinner and headed back to the hotel.  We were exhausted, but overall it was a very fun day!

High:  Auntie's arrival!  Seeing how excited T is to see her Auntie. 
Low:  Losing my baby for those terrifying few minutes. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My Naughty Ballerina: Did It!

Leading up to T Bear's first dance recital I really did not know what was going to ensue.  There were so many questions.  Would she perform?  Would she freak out?  Would she refuse to go on stage or get off stage?  So many possibilities!

The run down of her recital weekend was Friday night dress rehearsal, followed by catching the last bit of Daddy's softball game.  Saturday, Auntie was coming, then a trip to Dairy Queen, followed by a 6:00 performance.  Sunday had a 2:00 performance and dinner with the family.  Quite a lot for a four year old!

On Friday we didn't have the best day.  I tried to maintain my composure, but I'm sure my anxiety was rubbing off on her.  She definitely was not the best listener, but looking back I'm sure she was super nervous too.  We picked up Mima and had her take Mad Man while we went to the dress rehearsal.  I volunteered to be a back stage mom for all three days since I figured T wouldn't even attempt it if I was not there.  Plus, I am definitely a bit of a helicopter parent!  There was a lot of time to sit around.  So, I took my time getting her ready.  How sweet she looked in her pink tutu and bun.  We even put a little sparkly eye shadow on!  The final piece of her attire was the sticker I put on her hand, and kiss that accompanied it, so that she would know my love was with her while she was on the stage (once again thank you to The Kissing Hand).  She clung to me pretty much the whole time we were backstage.  If I had to take one little one to the bathroom T for sure was accompanying us.  She started to get more comfortable and played with the other little ones as the evening progressed.  Then we lined them up and one of the backstage helpers did little sing-alongs (so cute) and quiet games with them.  T loved it.  I promised her that I would be in the wings when she went on stage, so that she could see me.  As the little ones made their way to the stage, the door closed and I wasn't able to sneak in.  My stomach was literally churning!  I was convinced that she would come barreling through the stage door at any moment.  It felt like an eternity, but the door opened and I was able to sneak in.  T looked over at me and waved!  Oh, so sweet.  She was doing it - she was dancing on the stage!  Well, my tears were certainly flowing now.  I was absolutely overcome with pride, relief, excitement, and awe.  Aah, I love that little girl!

When she got off the stage I picked her up and told her just how proud of her I was!  I could tell that she was very proud of herself too!  She told me that the sticker worked and she looked at it and felt better.  Oh, she is too sweet sometimes!  The rest of the evening went well.  She played with the other girls; she had brought a bag of her favorite squeaky Disney princess dolls.  She did an awesome job sharing too (I was super proud of her!).  She went out and bowed (of course I went backstage to witness that too!).  Success!

Saturday was a very full day.  T was super excited to see her Auntie, but she was a bit whiny!  It was a long day leading up to the show, and I am sure, once again, that I contributed to it.  We made it through the day, with a little help from Dairy Queen.  T was a bit difficult once we got to the high school, but I was able to get her dressed and ready.  I could tell that she was nervous, and a bit tired!  She got to see her Daddy, because his softball team was selling refreshments at the show!  She was much more interested in playing with the other girls, rather than getting ready to dance.  She did it though!  I was in the wings watching and once again the tears were flowing!  She did a great job, and once again she looked over at me and waved!  For not having been in class many times, she seemed to know the routine pretty well for a four year old!  She came off and said she had so much fun!  Another success!

By Sunday I think we were both done.  My patience was thin, and her whines were in full throttle.  We survived.  She did an awesome job dancing on stage - actually the best of the three!  The sheer look of joy on her face was priceless - she especially loved the parts where she skipped around in circles!  Daddy, Mad Man, Mima, Poppi, Auntie, and Gramma were all in the audience too!  She was so excited when she was showered with flowers and gifts!  We got to watch the rest of the recital this time, and she was dying to get back on the stage.  Success!

For the first few days after the recital T did not want to wear anything but her costume!  She continuously asks me when her next recital is!  Perhaps I have created a performance monster!  It is still to be determined whether or not she will take classes next year (she claims that she wants to, but we all know that has gone!).  I am proud of her for making it through and performing without a major fit!  I am also proud of myself (not something I generally advertise or necessarily buy into!) for not giving up on her, finding a reserve of patience, and pushing forward.

High:  Watching T dance on stage fully engrossed in the performance and having a blast!
Low:  The anxiety leading up to each performance (I need to chill!).

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mommy Wonder: Protective Big Sister

As I have previously mentioned, T Bear did not take right away to becoming a big sister, but let me say she has become an incredible big sister.  Mad Man is truly lucky to have her in his corner.  This past week Mad Man had his fifteen month check-up.  T doesn't usually come with us to the doctor appointments, but this time we had some other stuff to do so I dragged her along.  I told her ahead of time that he was going to have to get at least one shot, because she has become super sensitive to anyone getting shots.  She was so sweet to him when we were getting ready to leave the house, explaining to him that she would be right there for him. 

Once the pediatrician came in Mad Man was very nervous.  He wouldn't sit on the table (even after Dr. B put T on the table to help him!).  So, he sat on my lap on the bench in the room and T sat next to us.  Dr. B asked T if she could examine her to help ease Mad Man into the exam.  T was quite compliant!  She let the doctor check her out, which I think did help Mad Man.  Then it was time for his shots.  Poor little guy had to endure four shots.  I put him on the table and got him dressed.  T came over to me and I moved her closer to his head and I explained that she had to stay out of the nurses way.  The nurses came over, I grabbed Mad Man's arms and tried to chat with him while they stuck his poor little legs with four needles!  He screamed, of course, and I scooped him up.  What I didn't realize was that T was clinging to my shorts and crying, because she felt so bad for him.  She was almost more inconsolable than he was.  I was able to calm them both down, thankfully, but T was obviously still upset by this episode.  She continued to ask me questions like: "Did that really hurt Mad?"  "Is he okay?"  "Why was he crying?"  "Did that nurse do a good job?  Was she good at giving shots?"  She was being so sweet.  Honestly, it warmed my heart to see her genuine concern for her little brother.  I think she is developing empathy, which I am privileged to witness.  As Poppi recently said, "I hope she can keep her sweetness in this world we live in."  God, I hope so too.