Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Disney Cruisin' on The Dream!

Between preparing for our 2,000 mile move, prepping William for a new school, and putting our house on the market, Dada, William and I took a Disney Cruise!  I've had every intention of blogging about our vacation, but we've been a little busy around here.  It might be a month late, but the excitement has yet to wear off!

When I was pregnant with Adeline, I told Dan that I wanted to take William on a special trip after her arrival.  I knew William was excited to be a big brother and without hesitation, he transitioned into a family of 4 seamlessly.  But I anticipated loosing so much one on one time with the little boy who held my full attention for 4 years.  So I guess in a way, this trip was more about me needing a dose of time with just my boy.
That said, we had heard the Disney cruises are lots of fun for children as well as adults and having cruised before, I knew this would be a really relaxing trip for everyone.  So, when I was around 5 months pregnant, we booked our trip for Oct. 23rd aboard Disney's newest ship, The Disney Dream.  Of course at the moment of booking we had no idea we'd be moving 5 days post vacation.
We arrived in Orlando the day before The Dream's departure and stayed in the airport's hotel.  I bought the Disney transfer package which allowed us to hand over our luggage to the hotel and not see it again until 4pm the day we boarded the ship.  It also secured us a reservation aboard the Disney buses to and from the Port of Call.  YIKES!  But, Disney does EVERYTHING TOP NOTCH and we had absolutely no trouble.  I highly recommend the luggage transfers and bus transportation.

On Sunday the 23rd, the three of us boarded the "Goofey" bus and headed to Port Canaveral, FL where the Disney Dream was waiting....and A DREAM IT WAS.  This boat is AMAZing!  It's 14 stories tall and as magnificant as you can imagine.  Like I said, Disney does it right!  William was pretty stunned and kept looking at the boat and asking me, "how are we going to float on that huge boat?"  I don't think he really "got it" until we were on the ship and exploring The Dream's incredible facilities.  He was SO EXCITED for this trip!
We went through the check in process quickly and William got his GPS wristband for the kid camp aboard the ship.  The kid camp is awesome.  It's about half a deck and FULL of activities for children ages 3 and up.  The kids can come and go freely and parent's can pick up and drop off the kids for as long as they want.  The GPS band is a safety procaution which enables staff members to find your child and pinpoint their location in seconds.  TOTALLY GREAT.
And so we boarded the boat and headed to our stateroom to check out our digs.  Our room was plenty big for 3 people and William's bed was a pull out couch.  We had a veranda with an oceanview and I highly recommend this too.  It gave us a nice breeze and sunshine when we were in our room.  Each day our steward would make different animals for William using the bath towels.

  He made a monkey one night and gave him my sunglasses for a cool look.  William got such a kick out of it.

Dinners - We signed up for the late dinner - 8pm, and the early show - 6:15pm.  I did this on purpose for a few reasons.  First, I knew William would care more about seeing the Disney show (stage shows with characters and songs) than sitting for a long meal.  Second, at the 8pm dinner, the restrauants have "dine and play" where the kids eat first before the parent's food comes out and then the camp counselors pick up the kids and take them to the kid camp while the parents have a nice, leisurely meal.  Third, you can eat anywhere on the boat at anytime of the day.  So, I knew we could feed William at 5pm on the pool deck and he'd be satisfied as to not wait until 8pm to eat dinner.  So, it worked for us and turned out to be the right choice for our family.  William is a night owl anyways, so he doesn't have any trouble going the distance.
Day One (arrival on the ship) - We spent most of the afternoon exploring the boat and watching William full of great anticipation for EVERYTHING you can do aboard the Dream.  We hit the swimming pool (SO CROWDED) and William took about 30 turns on the Mickey water slide.  We signed up for the mystery detective game that you can play at your convienence throughout the boat, and we got the lay of the land - where to eat, where to find ice cream, where the kid camp was located and how to operate the boat issued cell phones.....you know, the important stuff.  We went up to deck 14 around 4pm for the big send off party where the characters sing and dance and kids wave streamers.  William was confused at first and burst into tears because he didn't want to leave and say good-bye to his friends.  My heart broke for him because he thought the boat was leaving for good and he didn't really understand the cruising concept.  I assured  him we would be coming back and explained that instead of a hotel, we were on a boat like a floating hotel.  He seemed to get the idea after awhile and perked up.

We took William to the 6:15pm show which was called "The Golden Mickeys" and all the characters came out on stage.  William loved seeing them in person (on the stage, not next to him of course) and really liked the song and dance.  We went to dinner at The Enchanted Garden where we learned that we'd spend our dinners with another family who have one child, Marcus.  Marcus is William's age and they had a great time every night at dinner.  Marcus' parents are lovely and Dan and I had fun catching up on the events of the day with them. 

Day Two (Nassau) - The boat arrived at Nassau and we did not get off.  Most of the passengers did exit the boat for the day, but we didn't sign up for any excursions.  And, we knew that less people aboard the boat meant more space on the pool deck.

So, we spent our day bouncing back and forth from the pool to the kid camp to the dining room to the kid camp to bingo to water slides to kid camp...and well, you get the idea.  William LOVED the kid camp and wanted to spend so much time there.  That was fine with us because we knew he was having fun, we could check on him and Dada and I could hang out on the adult only pool deck and experience our own little quiet vacation too.  Dinner was in the Castle Dining room that paid tribute to the Disney Princesses.  As usual, William and Marcus took off for kid camp after their meal and the adults got to hang out.
Later that night, I went to the movies.  We also made time to hit the pool deck around 11pm for a dance party and the HUGE fireworks display.  The fireworks were incredible and it was really cool to be on a cruise ship and watch a fireworks show that could rival The 4th of July.  William was a little hesitant at first because fireworks are so loud, but he held his hands over his ears and hollered out with a great "wooo whoooo" anytime there was a big rocket firework to hit the skies.  VERY cool part of the vacation.
Day Three (at sea) - Because we were at sea, William only swam for a few hours (pool is very crowded on sea days) before he wanted to explore other areas of the ship.  So, we did the Mickey Detective game.  You register at a kiosk and get a playing card that has a puzzle piece on it as well as a treasure map.  You hold your piece up to framed pictures all over the ship (14 decks worth) and watch the pictures come to life.  Each picture tells you a short story and provides a clue that helps you try and solve a mystery.  William LOVED this game we played two versions of it while on vacation.  You play at your leasure, so we'd do a few pictures and find something else to do and then do a few more.  William also went to kid camp and timed his arrival for the face painting party.  He was first in line and told the staffer, "I like airplanes a lot but I want to be painted like an army guy in camoflauge."
He was so proud of the results and paraded all over the boat in his face paint.  The show that night was "Villians" and this was our least favorite show.  Could have skipped it.  We had dinner in Animator's Palace which is a dining room devoted to animation.  There are big screens on every wall which come to live with classic Disney animation.  The chairs at each table look like Mickey's red shorts with white buttons and the feet of the chairs are Mickey's yellow shoes.  VERY cute.  Each night for dessert, William ordered a Mickey ice cream on a stick. This was also "Mickey's Pirates of the Carribean" theme and everyone was encouraged to wear their pirate gear.  William was ready to roll and loved watching the characters act out the pirate sing along on the top deck. 
Day Four (Disney Island) - The last day of the trip was spent on Castaway Cove, the private island owned by Disney and used exclusively for their cruise ships.  It was FANTASTIC.  Done the complete Disney way! You board trams upon exiting the boat and they drive you over to the resort part of the island.  We had no trouble finding lounge chairs in the shade and William was REALLY eager to try out the water slide.  We rented a life jacket for him and then I showed him how far away the water slide was from land.  He wasn't worried a bit and made the LONG swim all the way over to the ladder where he climbed right up and got in line for the water slide.  I will admit that I was so nervous watching him swim out to the ladder.  It was far, I am not kidding. 
It was a tiny moment where I felt like William was officially a big kid and not just my timid little guy anymore.  I was so proud as I watched him kick and paddle his way out into the distance.  alone.  The water slide was really fast and William bobbed under and of course, he wasn't ready for salt water.  He was brave and swam right back to me, but when he got in my arms he told me he was not interested in going down that big ol' fast slide anymore.  I assured him it was ok to pass it up a second time but to be so proud of himself for trying something new and above all, for being so brave as to swim that far and go alone.  We spent a few more hours on the island and had lunch, watched a crab race and played at the spray park before calling it a day.  Once we were back on the ship, we finished up our detective game, hit the kid camp and enjoyed dinner and a show. The final show was "Believe" and it was by far the best of the best.  It paid tribute to all of Disney's most classic movies and highlighted the most beloved songs.  Mary Poppins and Peter Pan flew through the air, Beauty and The Beast sang "Be Our Guest," and there were tributes from Lion King, Snow White and other shows.
Last Day - We wrapped up our trip with an early breakfast and said good-bye to our fabulous servers - Marie and Pong.  They were just lovely and made every effort to go above and beyond our needs.  They loved William and taught him magic tricks too.
  We departed the boat around 10am and made our way through customs pretty fast.  We took the Disney transportation back to the airport and had plenty of time to make our flight back to DC.

I am so thankful that we were able to take such a special trip with only William.  We both needed the one on one time together and I really needed to relish my time with my first born.  He's my DREAM.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tulsa Philbrook Museum Light Display

 Saturday night was the 3rd annual Philbrook Garden and Glow event which is a light display at The Philbrook to kick off the holiday season.  The event was free for families and full of kid friendly activities.  We decided to try it out and loaded up the kids for an evening of fun.

The Philbrook is beautiful and lights were glowing in all of the trees, luminaries lined the walkways and all the lights reflected down into the ponds that surrounded the property.  It was crowded, but enjoyable.  We walked around the grounds and William had a good time log rolling down the steep backyard hill.  

We made our way to the craft stations for the kids.  One station was outside by The Philbrook Christmas tree.  William made an ornament bird feeder out of bagels and bird seed.  He thought long and hard about where to put his ornament on the tree and insisted that Adeline watch him hang up.

William also made a cute Gingerbread Man with sparkle shoes ("just like Elin") and stopped by an art table to draw a few runways while Dada checked out the gift shop.  

I passed by a table display of The Philbrook Kids Club and it turns out that the museum has an art club for kids.  It's free.  All you do is register your child and every month you drop by the museum and pick up a new package of art supplies courtesy of the kids club.  How fun is that?  And, since WBB LOVES to draw, this was the ticket!

We stayed about 1.5 hours and hit the road.  It was too crowded to really tour the museum at length, but we plan on going back soon. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adeline is 8 months old!

Miss Adeline Hendry Barron,

You are 8 months old!  Wow.  You are showing so many signs of growing up already, but you are still my little baby doll.  You are about 20 pounds, wear a size 5 diaper and 9-12m clothing.  Your hair is thicker and your eyes are slowing turning a hazel shade.  Your mouth went through a growth spurt and you got 4 teeth at one time.  They never seemed to bother you, but you chewed on ANYTHING you could get your hands on. 
We nicknamed you "Busy Body."  You NEVER STOP MOVING and love to explore anything in your path.  We wish you were a cuddler, but you are not.  We aren't complaining, but it would be heavenly to snuggle up with you when you are still....but you are rarely still! You are so curious about the world and talk to things, study objects, and bang around to hear what things do.   The only time I seem to snuggle is when I hold you and bounce you around to help you fall asleep for daytime naps.  You'll drift off and put your head on my shoulder and believe me, I relish it.  I hold you for a long while because I know it's the only time you'll be still in my arms.  
You are still a fantastic eater and enjoy every jar of baby food that I have given you.  I decided to give you the Stage 3 baby food now that you have so many teeth to help you chomp!  You usually tell me you are hungry by smacking your lips together.  It's really cute and funny too.  You are a big fan of puff cereal, yogurt melts and your favorite - the ol' graham cracker.  I think William might give you a run for your money on the graham crackers.  I can't seem to stock enough of them.  I also started giving you water in a sippy cup and you figured out how to suck on the cup quickly.  You like water and take several big swigs when I offer it. 
Adeline, you are ON THE MOVE NOW!  You want to crawl SO BADLY and get up on all fours only to crash land on your belly.  So, you figured out how to roll around rooms to get what you want.  It's pretty impressive to watch and slowly but surely, you are gaining ground on the crawling concept.  You reach out for things and if you cannot roll towards them, you swim on your belly until you reach the object. 
And the big news - YOU SAID MAMA!!!  YIPEE!  Be still my heart!  Dada was holding you and you reached out to me and said, "MaaaaaMaaaaa!"  I was so excited and very proud of my love bug! 

You learned to play peek-a-boo and will initiate the game whenever you find something to cover your eyes.  We'll ask, "Where's Adeline?" and right on cue you pull the blanket off your face and bust out laughing.  Simply precious.  

Dada taught you how to wave by waving back at you in a mirror.  This is a game you guys like to play every morning before Dada leaves for work.  If someone waves at you, it takes a second to register, but you wave back with a big smile on your face.  Clapping is another milestone that you almost have figured out.  

Your sleeping patterns at night are great.  You seem to know it's night time and dive towards your bed when I take you upstairs for your nightly bottle.  You rarely finish the bottle and many times I put you in bed awake.  You roll on your side, put your blanket by your neck, hold a pacifier in each hand and fall fast asleep.  You look like a precious sleeping angel.  Like clockwork, you are exhausted by 6pm.  You sleep soundly from about 6pm until 4/4:30am.  If I give you a small drink of milk, you will usually snooze until 5am.  But, that is about as long as you go.  So, Dada and I have learned to appreciate starting our days at 5am.  YIKES but we wouldn't have it any other way.  You wake up so happy, full of hugs and you have LOTS to say.  Mornings are some of my most favorite moments with you.  It's a peaceful time of day - just you and me downstairs in a quiet house.  We chit chat and play peek-a-boo. 
Naps are tricky these days.  We take William to school and pick him up at the peak nap time.  So, you tend to nap in the car. It's not ideal, but it's the only option so I roll with it.  That said, it makes your daytime naps in the crib SO HARD.  You just don't want to do it and it's mostly because you nap in the car.  Hopefully, as you get bigger the nap times might change and we can adjust them around the school schedule.

You love your Dada so much.  He's the first word you said out loud and when he walks in a room, your head  spins around and you belly laugh.  He brings you so much excitement.  He has introduced you to the ceiling fan, flies you around the room like an airplane (you beam with a smile, laugh and kick your legs) and plays with your Gymboree puppet.  You LOVE LOVE LOVE puppets.  It's adorable to watch your eyes and your big smile when you see a puppet.  You reach out and touch the puppet, give him a hug and are truly mesmerized by his song and dance. 
And William.  Oh William.  How he ADORES you.  He tells me every day how thankful he is that "I went to the hospital and got you."  He's proud to be a big brother and he watches out for you all the time.  He wants you to discover the world with him and he's the first person to ask for seconds for his little sister.  He can make you laugh in a way Dada and Mama cannot.  You follow him like a hawk and you know when we are about to pick him up from school.  You wave your feet around in your carseat and scream when he gets in the car.  More often than not, he'll reach for your hand and hold it the whole way home. 
We love you Adeline and cannot wait to celebrate the holidays with you.  They will be filled with so many "firsts" for you and the magic of childhood.  

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Secret Suitcase

Every Thursday, one of William's classmates is chosen to take home the "secret suitcase."  Apparently it is a big deal!  And guess who got the suitcase this week???????  WILLIAM!!!!!

He told me everyone sits in a circle on the floor and the teacher holds the suitcase up for everyone to see.  Then she says, "WHHHHHOOOO gets the suitcase this weeeeeeeeeeeeeekkkkk?"  When William's name was called he said, "Mom, I jumped up and I was clapping my hands so hard that I could feel my fingers hurting!  I was so excited.  You know, only one person gets to take the suitcase home and I GOT IT MOM!"

Such joy on my boy's face!

In the carpool line, Mrs. Overcash said William received the suitcase because he is a great friend and example to the children.  Makes this mom so proud!

The crux of the secret suitcase - The letter unit this week was "T" so William had to put one object with the letter "T" inside the secret suitcase and provide 3 clues about it.  He then had to stand at the front of the classroom and recite his three clues to his friends.

William picked the word "tooth" and decided to take his shark's tooth.

His clues:
  • You brush it
  • it's as hard as a bone
  • it's a dentist's best friend
He came home completely satisfied that it took 8 clues before the class guessed "tooth!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Our Thankful Turkey 2011

While in OKC, Aunt Rachie helped William construct his "Thankful Turkey" for 2011.  This is our second year to make Thankful Turkey and I think it's a worthwhile tradition.  I ask William what he's thankful for this year and then I write exactly what he says on the feathers of Thankful Turkey.  It is fun to watch him take this project seriously and think REALLY HARD about his answers.  Sometimes he's quick to respond and other times he's deep in thought for just the right blessing.  It will be entertaining to look back over the years and see what he found so special for Thankful Turkey.

2011 Thankful Turkey blessings
  • Little boy in the Bible who threw rocks at the giant
  • singing songs
  • grass!
  • Nathan, Campbell, Samuel, Ava, Trent, Austin, Sabrina, Bailey, Lexi, Caroline, Gigi, Sophia, Harlow, Lucy and Parker
  • Video games
  • Our guardian angels
  • Bebe and Pops
  • Birds
  • Rockets, heliocopters, and airplanes that take me places!
  • Christmas
  • people
  • my family
  • my little baby Adeline
  • we're moving!
  • Grace Episcopal School and my new school
  • things that you can build
  • Disney cruise
  • coloring
  • airplanes
  • hershey kisses
  • myself
  • mac and meme
  • my teachers
  • Bubba and Gram
  • our house we will move into
  • Jesus!
  • Ipad

Holland Hall Preschool in Tulsa, Oklahoma

 William's new school is Holland Hall in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  He has talked for weeks about starting school with new friends, new teachers and a new playground.  He's been excited and eager to wear the school uniform - white HH shirt and navy pants.  
 So once we got to Oklahoma, he counted down the days until he got to return to school and play with kids.  I took this as a positive note and I could feel his excitement within me.  The first day of school is always a treat. 

He also came up with the idea to make a poster about Washington, DC so he could show the kids where he use to live.  I thought it was an excellent idea and so William created a blue and red poster with pictures of the White House, The Capitol, the metro trains and the Washington Monument.  I am sick that I forgot to take a picture of it!
I asked him what he was going to say about the poster and he looked right at me and said in all seriousness, "I am going to say this.  My mom worked at the White House, My dad worked at the Capitol and I love to ride metro trains through the city."  I was so impressed!

Friday, November 11th was William's first day at Holland Hall.  He woke up bright and early and jumped into his uniform within minutes.  He was all smiles and just plain happy for school.  He loves to learn and play with kids, so I knew he'd transition well.  

But as a mom, you hold your breath on that first day of school. You say so many prayers that the day goes well, that your child makes a friend and that well, they just have an overall wonderful experience.  I'll admit, I prayed hard!!

We are renting a townhouse about 1 minute from the school which is such a blessing considering I hardly know my way around Tulsa.  We got to school and I walked him inside so I could help get him settled and meet his teachers in person.  Usually, parents just drop off and pick up within the carpool line.  

We were greeted by his teacher, Mrs. Overcash as well and the Head of Admissions who conducted our tour back in August.  William spoke right up and said, "I am excited.  Thanks for having me."  That's my boy!  We went to the classroom where Mrs. Overcash showed him his cubby and where to place his lunchbox.  Some of the children were already there and in unison shouted, "Hi William!"  Mrs. Overcash said they have all been asking when their new friend was going to join them at school.  That delighted my heart and put a big ol' smile on William's face.

William took his poster to the front of the room, but I had to leave before he gave his presentation.  Just as I was walking out the door, William looked back at me and waved.  He gave me a smile and looked so handsome in his uniform. I knew he'd be ok.  It a MOMENT stamped in my mind forever.  

And this little sugar plum is thrilled when she gets to reunite with her big brother in the carpool line.  She laughs and squeals when he jumps in the car!

A bittersweet farewell

On November 1st the moving truck came to pack up our lives and the precious mementos of 2526A South Walter Reed Drive.  The entire process took 2 days and operated in a timely, seamless manner.  
  8 years of memories tucked inside boxes, carefully padded with paper as to not break the bonds of time.  Our life together.
Was I ready for the big move back to Oklahoma?  Yes, very much so.  Was I ready to leave 1,200 square feet and 42 steps to my door?  Yes, more than you know.  Was I ready to move to a town where I know very few people and build a life for myself and my family?  Yes, but with the nerves of the "unknown."  Was I confident that moving to Tulsa was a great decision for our family?  Absolutely. For sure.
But was I prepared for the tug on my heart and the bittersweet heartbreak of saying good-bye to the little townhouse that built the Barron family?  No. 
2526A is where Dan and I started our life together.  It was our first home full of hopes, dreams, laughter, and adventure.  We put our own stamp on it and filled every inch with happy times.  We laughed, we cried, we celebrated holidays and embraced the quiet surroundings of living high up in the trees. 

But I think the part that makes leaving 2526A behind is that THIS is the place I brought my babies home too.  Where we planted our roots as a family. 
THE PLACE where I sat quietly rocking them to sleep, where William took his first steps - I can see it like it was yesterday,-where Adeline first smiled into my eyes and where I first felt my heart burst with more love than I have ever know.  

The walls of 2526A hold stories of our past and as I walked around my empty house, the memories came flooding back as clear as day.  There are simply no words to describe my feelings.  Too many stories to tell and yet most are remembered within my blog.  

But those walls know the secrets of my heart, my deepest prayers, my heartache and my profound joy.  And so how do you say good-bye to an old friend who knows you so well?  You just can't.

So until next time 2526A, take care of yourself and the people who love your walls in the future.  I am sincerely thankful for you taking care of my family and keeping us safe.  
You are the keeper of our beginning.

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