Monday, September 17, 2012

My Little Girl Turned 5

Well, it's been about 6  weeks, but on August 1st my little girl turned 5. I mentioned we celebrated her birthday in Florida at the Magic Kingdom. That was just our family celebration, and she really wanted to have a party with friends. Since we had done the big Disney celebration, I told Emmaline that we could do a small celebration at the park in our neighborhood with a few friends. After just getting back from vacation I knew I wouldn't feel like having my house trashed by a bunch of kids or feel like making a ton of food. We had the party the weekend after we got back, and ended up doing it on a Friday evening. She was fine with having it at the park and it ended up working out perfectly!

We went with the Minnie Mouse theme this year since just returning from Disney. I really wanted to do cupcakes and keep it real simple at the park, but I ran across a cake on Pinterest (don't you just love Pinterest?) that I fell in love with and Emmaline loved too. So I knew my little girl had to have it for her party. I had the teacher that made Evan's Tigers cake last year make Emme's cake. It really turned out fabulous. I was very pleased, and it tasted delicious too! Here's the Minnie Mouse cake!

Isn't it fabulous? I loved it and so did my little "Minnie Mouse." Emmaline had 7 friends come and they played at the park first, then we had a few light snacks, and presents and cake time. It was a nice little celebration, and I was so glad we decided to do it at the park. It was nice and close to home, and after the party we came home to a clean house and no mess to clean up. I joked that Evan might have to wait and celebrate his birthday in the summer so we can go to the park too. Haha! Here's a few pics from the "Minnie" celebration at our neighborhood park.

My little Minnie Mouse and her birthday cake. (We had a bit of a wind issue at the park and the box caught the top of the ears so they started to fall.)
The kids piling up on the slide!
 Emmaline and her best bud Chloe
 Opening presents with friends!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Florida Family Vacation

As I mentioned in my previous post. We took a family vacation over the summer that I wanted to share a little bit about with you. We went back and forth about when and where we were going to go on our summer vacation. We thought about going to Hershey, Pennsylvania or Orlando and doing the whole Disney thing. Since both kids had baseball/t-ball the whole month of June, we knew we couldn't go until late July or sometime in August. After finally figuring out when we would go, we decided on where to go. As most of you already know from seeing all my pics on Facebook, we ended up doing the whole Disney trip.

We planned to drive down to Florida and knew it would take us two days. We left on July 28th (Saturday) at about 6:30am. Greg and I have driven to Florida many times and always go down through Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and into Florida. This time though we decided to go a different way. I ran across a new route while on Google Maps and discovered we could go through Ohio, the Virginia's, Carolina's, Georgia, and into Florida that way, and it took about the same amount of time. We've never been to many of those states so we figured, why not head that way and check it out. It ended up being a beautiful drive through the mountains and we absolutely loved it! We made out first day the long day and drove until about 9pm that Saturday night. We stayed in South Carolina. On day two we stopped in Jacksonville Beaches to see my dad and step-mom. They were on vacation there and were leaving to go home that day, but we got there early enough to see them at the hotel they were staying at. It was right on the beach and the kids got to visit the ocean for the first time ever! They dipped their feet in the Atlantic Ocean and collected some seashell. They absolutely loved it! We stayed for a couple hours and then headed onto our hotel in Orlando. Here's my two travelers checking out the salt water.
My dad graciously got us a hotel for the week at the Marriott Springhill Suites which was only 5 minutes from Disney. We got settled in and then decided to take the kids to Downtown Disney that evening. We ate at Planet Hollywood, the kids first time there, and then toured some of the shops at Downtown Disney. We had a busy week ahead at Disney World, as well as a stop at Legoland, and SeaWorld so it was early to bed that night. Our first full day in Orlando, Monday, we headed to Hollywood Studios. The kids absolutely loved it! Much was the same as I remembered from 11 years ago, but there was also a lot of new things. Tuesday, we made a 45 minute drive south of Orlando to Legoland in Winter Haven. Evan really wanted to go to Legoland ever since he heard about it opening last fall. Since it ended up that we would be in Florida for Emmaline's birthday we figured we should do the one thing that he really wanted to do. Legoland was fun, and the kids enjoyed it. I personally have seen it/ done it and if we were to go back I'd rather do more at Disney or go to Universal which we didn't get the chance to do. Wednesday was our big big day. We planned to go to the Magic Kingdom since it was Emmaline's birthday and celebrate her big day turning 5 there. Dreams came true and she got to meet many of her beloved princesses. It truly was a magical day for her, as well as Evan. As a parent, I loved loved loved being able to see all the joy that Disney brought to them. We had a full day at the park and I made reservations before we left for vacation to take Emme to a dessert firework party that night for her birthday. We all were able to finish off our wonderful day and Emme's birthday, and enjoy a buffet of desserts and watch the fireworks over Cinderella's Castle. Awesome!

After three full days at parks, we decided we needed a rest day. It was a lot for the kids to take in and we as well were tired! We took it easy on Thursday, and lounged at the pool in the morning. Then we decided to take the kids over to the City Walk at Universal so they could get a glimpse of what Universal/Islands of Adventure was like. Evan picked lunch at the NBA City Restaurant, and then we played mini golf and shopped at City Walk. Then we headed back to the hotel to chill a little before we went to a nice dinner that night (something that wasn't fast food or park food), and back to Downtown Disney for a bit. It was a much needed day of slowing down and relaxing a little to gear up for the rest of the week.

Friday we headed to Sea World and the kids really enjoyed all the animals. Once again we were at the park all day, and it was fun to watch the kids see Shamu for the first time. Saturday we headed back to Disney and went to Animal Kingdom. We headed straight for the Safari ride first and the kids really enjoyed it! So much we had to do it again before we left. One of the other favorite parts of Animal Kingdom was the Festival of the Lion King show. The kids were even lucky enough to be picked and be a part of the show. So awesome for them! It was nice that this park closed a little earlier, and were able to get out of there at a decent time.  We decided since we were done earlier than normal that we'd go check out some of the Disney Resorts. We walked around the Animal Kingdom resort which was fun to check out. Did you know you can get a room with a balcony that over looks the animals? Giraffes, zebras, etc. right outside of your room! Sunday was our last day and we spent it at Epcot. There were some things at Epcot that I remembered from years ago, but there were A LOT of things that I totally didn't remember or that were new! We had a wonderful last day and the kids had fun touring through the different countries.

Unfortunately Monday was our day to start heading home. We ended up kind of taking our time getting out of there. We made one final stop at Downtown Disney (I love that place) before getting on the road. The drive home seemed to be slower than the drive down. Mostly because we had to leave our wonderful vacation, but we did run into about 20 minutes of bad weather in Georgia that slowed us down. It poured like I've never seen before and I could barely see the road driving. SCARY! Thankfully it cleared up. We made it to Chattanooga, TN that night and called it a night. Our last day of vacation on Tuesday was driving the other half of the way home. We made one stop in Bowling Green, KY to meet another Emmaline. Yes, that's right. I met this gal through Facebook through another friend. Her name is Elaina and her daughter is also Emmaline Grace. Spelled exactly the same way. We never thought they'd meet, but since we were passing right through Bowling Green where they lived we figured it was the perfect opportunity. The girls enjoyed meeting each other. It was really nice to have the chance to do so. We made it home about 7pm Tuesday night.

I have to say the kids did a pretty good job two days in the car down, six parks in seven days (FULL DAYS), and two days in the car on the way home. They really are great travelers! It was such an amazing family vacation. Something I've always dreamed of doing with my kids. Greg really has never been a big Disney fan, but even he had a great time. It's something every parent should do with their kids! Dreams came true and wonderful memories were made! A big thanks to Greg's mom for helping us get there (she gave us money for Christmas last year to put towards vacation, and then she gave the kids money to put towards souvenirs their park tickets before we left. Also a big thanks to my dad and step-mom for redeeming some of their hotel points for us and getting us the hotel. Very much appreciated! And a huge thanks to Greg for making this possible for our family! I love that he let us choose Disney to go to! It will definitely be a vacation we'll never forget and a 5th birthday I'm sure Emmaline will remember forever! I took over 800 pictures on vacation so I'm just going to share a couple of my favorites here. :)

Our first day at Disney- Hollywood Studios (the backdrop if perfect!)
 Emmaline's Birthday at the Magic Kingdom!

The picture I really wanted of the kids in their Mickey/Minnie attire with Mickey & Minnie!
 Her favorite princess- Belle! I LOVE this pic. My favorite!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Kindergarten & Second Grade

Well hello! Gosh, it's been FOREVER since I've blogged. Like two months forever! It's crazy that my last post was about the last day of school, and now I'm back to talk about the first day of school. Yes, we've had a whole summer of fun things happening. Apparently my theory that summer went by way to fast is true, since I haven't blogged about any of it. I'm not going to even try to go back and cover all of summer, but there's a few highlights I really promise to share. Seriously I mean it. We went on vacation last month and I really want to share some of it. Plus my little baby girl turned five! Those will be my next posts, but for today I have to talk about the first day of school in 2012.

Yesterday was the first day of school, and it's a first day of school that I can't believe is happening already. I mean seriously, how did my two little bundles of joy grow up so fast? I'm still in denial that my babies are growing up, but it's true. Yesterday was the official day that both the kiddos are in elementary school! *Sniff, sniff. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were taking Evan to his first day of Kindergarten, and here we are taking my little baby girl to her first day of Kindergarten. Oh how time sure does fly! My little guy went off to his first day of second grade. I know, you can't believe it either right?

My little girl started her journey at the school Evan previously attended, Wilkshire Elementary. She got placed in Mrs. Mills class which we requested and are thoroughly overjoyed with. If you remember, Evan had Mrs. Mills for Kindergarten and we loved her! We are definitely looking forward to Emmaline's year in Kindergarten. This is the first year that Haslett has full day Kindergarten so totally different than when Evan was in Kindergarten. Because of this switch to full day, the first day of school yesterday was a little different for all the kindergarten classes. They went for about a half day and did what they call a "soft start." Parents went to school with their child in lieu of an open house before school started. It was a nice start for the first day, and I didn't have to leave my Emmaline ALL day. Today was the first full day for Kindergarten, and it was definitely harder on me than on Little Miss Independent. It didn't phase Em at all to leave mom and dad to head off to school for a full day. She was more than ready and couldn't wait to get her day started. That little stinker growing up so fast on me.

Evan as I mentioned headed off to 2nd grade, and with that brought a new school to attend. In Haslett there is a K-1 building and then the kids split off to a 2-5 building at either Ralya or Murphy. Evan is at Ralya, which is kind of weird for me. Ralya is where I did my student teaching 15 years ago. If you asked me back then if my kids would attend there someday, I probably would have said "No." It's weird to see how it's changed over the years, and see the classroom where I once taught. I'm delighted though that he's fortunate to be at a very good school. Not only is he at a great school, he lucked out getting the teacher we requested. I didn't know any of the teachers other than word of mouth from parents and other teachers. He is in Mrs. Zuke's class and two days in he already knows it's going to be a great year. He really likes his teacher. Evan had a full day yesterday which I was used to from him having a full day last year when he started first grade. I still missed him all day though since I was so used to having both kids home the last three months.

We experienced a first on the first day of school... RAIN! I always do the kids pictures outside before we leave for school on the first day, but this year we had to compromise and take them on the porch and inside. It was really dark out yesterday and raining. While I didn't get my normal shots, I did get some cute one's so I'll share a few with you.

My little Kindergartner
 My second grader
 Hugs for brother before we leave! (She gave Evan a big hug in the afternoon too when we picked him up because she really missed him.)
 Emmaline and Mrs. Mills
 Evan with Mrs. Zuke (this was taken at the Open House last week)
 And this picture... well this is when it was harder on me than Emmaline. Today when I dropped her off and waited for her class to leave the lunch room she was ready to go. She had this being a kindergartner down and was fine leaving momma. Ugh, how I missed her all day. She did great though and loved her first day. I'm sure over time I'll get used to it. I know she's in good hands, and she's going to have a wonderful school year!