Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Schwartz's vs the Animal Kingdom

I mentioned this before when we took Sarah to Disney on her first birthday but I am incredibly lucky to have a fantastic Aunt Sarah who works for Disney and is generous enough to share her Cast Admission pass with us.  That's why 2 weeks before my birthday I can suddenly say to my husband, "I want to go to Disney with Sarah and my best friend" and he can say, "Ok, call your Aunt and see if it's alright with her."  So I did.  And she said it was ok.  And then I was bragging to my mom and she said, "I want to go."  So I said "Great! Let's do it!"  And the whirlwind trip was planned on a whim and was a TON of fun.  It was exactly how I wanted to kick off my last year in my 20s.  

Disney vacations are definitely not relaxing but being there just makes me happy and seeing the joy on Sarah (and Cam's) face made the 13 hour (16 with stops) drive done in one day worth it.

The first park we descended on was Animal Kingdom.  And we had to get there early because I firmly believe the only way to do Disney is to open the park.  You gotta get in there and get to the main ride or rides you want to do and get them done before the lines get ridiculous.  It is not uncommon for rides at Disney to be 60 to 90 minutes, especially for the really popular rides like roller coasters.  

When we got there we were really surprised they were letting people into the park early.  But they were just holding everyone up near the tree.  So we took that opportunity to snap a quick picture with the tree of life in the background.  Then it was time to execute my opening plan.  I sent Mom and Cam with Sarah to go get in line for Expedition Everest and I boogied over to the Safari to get a fast pass.  
I met back up with them in time to get Sarah out of line and grab a parent share pass.  (I love that Disney does that for parents with young kids!)  Then Sarah and I hung out and played while we waited for Mom and Cam to get done riding the "train" as Sarah called it.  We actually happened to be in the right place at the right time and were able to see Grandma and Cam come down the mountain, hands up in the air and screaming like fools.  

 Then courtesy of the Parent Share Pass, Grandma took Sarah to play while Cam and I hopped right onto the ride.  Awesome!  I love roller coasters and Expedition Everest is a good one.  It's got a nice surprise (spoiler alert) where halfway through the ride they send you backwards down a different track.

After we got the coaster out of system I didn't really have a go-go-go plan for Animal Kingdom and took it at a leisurely pace (though others would disagree).  I just wanted to make sure we saw some shows Sarah would enjoy and met some characters.

As we headed over to the Safari we saw some drums and let Sarah out to play.  I'm sure they have some street performers who put on a show with them throughout the day.  But I thought it was really nice they have them set out in the park for kids to play on.  Sarah loved it!
 The safari was a really good ride!  I've done it before and wasn't that impressed but this morning there were a lot of animals out and close to the road.  Plus they dropped the stupid plot they use to have in the ride where you helped chase down poachers.  I didn't like that because you wound up speeding through various parts of the ride and not able to really see the animals.
 Grandma, Auntie Cam, and Sarah on the Safari ride.
 Admiring how close the giraffes were to the car.  Both Sarah and I love giraffes. 

So not really having a game plan next we headed over to Camp Minnie Mickey.  I really like how Disney has set places where characters are all day.  They just keep switching them out for new people.  It makes it so much easier to get good pictures and autographs.  In Animal Kingdom they have different characters in these cute little huts.  The first ones up where Chip and Dale.  I was a little worried about how Sarah was going to do with these big headed characters.  It can be a little overwhelming.  But she did great!  And Chip and Dale were just wonderful!  I think they may get a post of their own because they had so much personality and I have a ton of pictures of just them that I want to show off.  

On the way to the next hut one of the street performers was out.  His name was Guitar Dan and his job was to sing random songs about people in the park.  Since Sarah is so darn cute and her name was clearly labeled on her outfit Guitar Dan stopped us so he could sing a song about Sarah from Tennessee who loves to dance.  It was so cute!  Sarah had a huge smile on her face the whole time.  I wish I had thought to get my cell phone out to record it but I'm not that cool.  I really don't take a lot of pictures with my cell phone so I don't think about that kind of thing.  I need to get instagram apparently.

Baloo and King Louie from the Jungle Book

 My favorite character picture so far!
Sarah was very excited to meet Donald Duck.  She gave him a huge hug.  But sometimes Sarah leans into hugs too much and can knock you off balance if you are perched.  She's knocked Chris and I over many times.  And well, Donald Duck is now a victim of a Sarah hug.  He sold it though and acted like he was knocked over by her love for him, clutching at his heart as he went down.  Then Sarah "helped" pull Donald back up.

Of course we had to meet Minnie Mouse who was nice enough to personalize her autograph card for Sarah.  I'm telling you, if you go to Disney clearly label your child.  It makes the place so much more special.  A lot of cast members would talk to Sarah calling her by name.  Face characters that can speak called her by name.  Minnie wrote Sarah a nice note on her autograph card.  I love it!

 Then we got really lucky.  While Cam was holding our place in Mickey's line, Grandma and I saw Pocahontas pop up.  She's a rare character so I grabbed Sarah and Cam and headed over to met her.  At first Sarah was pretty upset with me because she knew she was in line to meet Mickey.  But she soon got over it and had a great conversation with Pocahontas.  They talked about her necklace and shoes, 2 of Sarah's favorite things.
 Then it was back in line to meet the Mouse.

 After we spent a good amount of time hanging out with all the characters in Camp Minnie Mickey it was time to grab some lunch and discuss plans for the rest of the day.  We talked about going to the Nemo show but I thought Sarah would enjoy the Festival of the Lion King more.  One of the cast members at the park suggested the 3:30 show.  She said it was the least busy since the parade was going on then.  So that's what we decided we'd shoot for and then plan on leaving.  I really wanted to be done at Animal Kingdom by 5 since we all had a really early day the next day.  So while we waited we decided to head over to the Dinosaur part of the park to ride the kiddie ride and Fast Pass the Dinosaur time travel ride (I can't remember its name).  I also thought Sarah would enjoy playing in the Bone Yard (playground and fossil dig area).

On the way there we were side tracked by some more characters.
Doug from the movie Up was out and didn't have a line so Sarah got to meet him.  She was excited until we got up close to him then she freaked out a little.  So I showed her how he likes to be scratched behind his ears and she warmed up to him.

After he got done taking pictures with us Doug went to go find Russell.  And sure enough next time we passed by both of them were out there meeting and greeting people.

Then we saw some random cast member standing near a very unnoticable walk way and there was a sign that said something like Character Spot.  So I asked who was down there and when they told us Pooh and Friends we decided to head on down.

It was definitely a good choice.  As soon as Sarah saw them she just lit up and exclaimed, "Oh look!  There are my friends!"  And she tried to sing the Winnie the Pooh song.  

We think Sarah may have realized there was a person inside Eeyore because she kept getting under his nose and looking into his mouth.  

But it didn't faze her because she still gave him lots of love and was quite convinced that, "Eeyore was really happy to see me."
 Tigger was great and definitely full of bounce.  Sarah giggled as she bounced with him.

As we were heading over to Dinoland Aunt Sarah got a hold of us.  She had just gotten off work so she joined us for a turn on Triceratops Spin.

And offered to take Sarah over to play in the Bone Yard while we attempted to ride the Time travel ride.  (It broke just as it was our turn to enter the Fast Pass line).  But that worked out for the best because we were able to get over to the Lion King show and get good seats.  And we were able to use our Fast Passes after the show when the ride was working again.  

We did a little window shopping on the way out of the park and headed home for a home cooked meal, showers for everyone, and a decent bed time.  

Sarah did a great job at the Animal Kingdom.  It was the first of many long, hot days with no naps but she was a trooper and had a great time.  I know we spent most of the time meeting characters but it was worth it.  She had so much fun giving them hugs and kisses.  I think the only thing I did wrong at the Animal Kingdom was I took her to the 4-D show It's Tough to be a Bug and it was a bit intense for her.  We happened to be sitting right next to where Hopper appears and it scared the mess out of her.  I think that should have been skipped and then we might have been able to take the train out to the petting zoo.  But who knows.  There was more stuff to do then we had time for.  (That's always true for every park.)  And we probably could have stayed later but I didn't want to burn Sarah out on the first day there.  So we've just saved some stuff to do next time.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Schwartz's vs Cody's 10 Months Old

Here's how you've grown.

* You love to dance.  It's adorable.  When I sing or there is music on you bounce on your bottom and smile real big.  It's adorable.
* You are a fantastic shopping buddy.  You love to just look around as you ride in the cart.  You never complain.  It's great.  When we need to divide and conquer to get errands run your dad and I always fight over who gets to take you.
*  You are starting to do a much better job playing by yourself.  There have been a few times when we've been playing in Sarah's room and you've crawled off to your room by yourself to play with your cars.
*  Your favorite toy right now is the Little Tykes car ramp that the Friskillos gave us.  You like to drop cars down the lift and shove them down the slide.
*  You love to pull up to stand but don't cruise all that often.  When you pull up to stand now you will let go of whatever it is with one hand but haven't braved letting go with both yet.
*  You tolerate trips to the pool.  You don't seem to love it because you don't splash around or anything.  But you don't cry so I guess you don't hate it.  You just chill out sitting on someone's lap and chewing on your green rubber duck.
*  You like Daddy more than me but the only word you clearly say is "mama".  Go figure.
* You've switched completely over to bottles but don't eat any better than when you nursed.
* You still are a horrible and picky eater.  You don't seem to like any fruits of vegetables.  But you'll eat  an entire hot dog.  You also really like buffalo chicken ranch casserole, and pizza.
*  While you still have moments where you scream bloody murder for no reason, for the most part you are a really laid back little guy who is just happy to be here.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Schwartz's vs Sophie's Goodbye

Sophie was the 3rd cat we adopted, but really she was our first, last, and only pet.  She was one of a kind and the perfect addition to our family.  We adopted her around Easter in 2003.   I was an RA so I had my own room and I smuggled her into the dorm where she lived with me during the spring semester before it was just too hard to hide her anymore so she went to live with Chris.  I'd leave my door unlocked so my residents could go and play with her while I was in class.  Her favorite thing to do was hide under the bed and wait for someone to sit on it.  Then she's start super kitty attacking their ankles.  She also loved to run around the room in the evening during what we called her "crazy kitty time".  

When she moved in with Chris she became his little companion and was so small she could sit on his shoulder.  They use to play fetch.  Chris would shoot a toy suction cup arrow down the hall and she'd run and retrieve it and bring it back to him.  

I know Sophie had a bad rep and we have plenty of stories when she was less than hospitable to guests and hosts.  But she truly was a great cat with a sweet disposition.  She was just right for our family.  She wasn't an in your face kind of pet.  But she wanted to be in the same room as us.  She endured whenever I was in the mood to smother her.

But really only ever wanted to cuddle in the winter.

Sophie was great with our kids.  I mean she was just great.  I honestly think the only reason why our kids learned to crawl and pull up to stand was because of her.  Sarah and Cody both loved to crawl after her.  She never hissed or bit either of them.  Even when Cody recently started pulling out big hand fulls of her hair whenever she came near.  She use to play with them.  Cody thought it was hilarious when he'd pull up to stand and Sophie would play smack at him.  He would fall down laughing and then pop up to see her again.  She never hissed.  It was always in good fun, like their own little game.  

This was just last Monday.  She let Sarah play dr with her for 15 minutes before she had enough and walked off.  She was so patient.  

Sorry, I don't know how to turn it.  But here's Sophie and Cody playing.

She was a great kitty.  We loved her so much.  But Sophie was sick.  And she wasn't getting better.  She had periods of remission where she was eating and doing good.  We even had about 2 years without her showing any signs of being sick.  In April 2012 she had a relapse.  After running every test we could the Vet still couldn't tell us definitively what was wrong.  We started her back on medication and watched as ate less and less and lost more and more weight.  But she was still pleasant.  She still loved to sit and watch tv with us and sleep curled up on the corner of our bed.  She never became lethargic or changed her disposition, so it was hard to know how sick she was.  But Sunday she was done fighting.  She was tired and done so while I was out of town and Chris was at his parents' house for dinner she curled up on the kitchen floor and went to sleep.  Chris buried her alone since I was gone and then he called me.

We miss her terribly.  The house seems empty knowing that she's not just in one of her favorite places sleeping.  We won't get another pet.  Losing her is too heart breaking.  We loved her dearly.  And while I'm sad she's gone, I'm glad she didn't suffer.  I'm glad she gave up and went peacefully instead of us having to watch her suffer and then make that horrible decision to do what was best.  I'm not sure I could have made that call.  We had 9 wonderful years with her full of great memories.  We loved Sophie and took good care of her.  She will be missed.  

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Schwartz's vs Our Herd

Today was a very special day for me.  It combined many things which I enjoy: silly fun, free food, and Chick-fil-a.  Today was Cow Appreciation day.  And this year if you wore a cow accessory you got a free sandwhich, but if you dressed from "head to hoof" you got a free meal of your choosing.  So how could I not go for the head to hoof option.  I've seen other friends post pictures from years past but this was the first time we celebrated Cow Appreciation day in our family.  Mostly because we finally have a Chick-fil-a out here in Millington and I actually knew what day it fell on.

Are you ready to see our herd?  I set the camera up on the deck's ledge and used the self time to grab a quick picture before we headed to enjoy dinner.
I stopped by Walmart on the way home from the gym today looking for black contact paper.  They didn't have any so I settled for fabric.  I spent $1.50 and an hour of nap time on our costumes.  I used spray glue to temporarily tack down on spots on some white t-shirts.  They peeled off nicely and are neatly stored away in an envelop to use next year.  The ears and tails (on our backsides of course) were printed off Chick-fil-a's website where they provided costume kits.  Moooo!

Chris took a short lunch today so he got off early and I was starving since I used my normal lunch hour for this craft project.  Sarah was excited to show him all of our cow shirts and kept saying, "Yook!  They match!  We a cow!"  She fought me a little when I was trying to fit her for her cow ears but after she saw how cute daddy looked in his she not-so-patiently waited for me to finish taping hers together.  While Chris played with Cody, Sarah and I snuck off to mommy's bathroom to get our cow noses on and I decided to go a little crazy and give us a spotted eye as well.  (Washing it off later was not as fun.)

Not knowing how crowded it was going to be we got dressed and headed to Chick-fil-a around 5:15 before the dinner crowd started coming in.  We were the first ones there for dinner that were dressed up.  The other people eating chuckled quite a bit at our get up.  But the employees all made a big stink and came out to tell us how cute our kids were.  Sarah was grinning ear to ear and mooed for the employees.

I snapped some pictures with my cell phone while we were there.
Daddy and Cody

Daddy with our calves (Cody is now eating his cow ears.)

Chris enjoying the spoils of our costumes.  He's such a hoot.  He totally looked at the menu and ordered the most expensive entree they had.  He figured he would get to most out of this.  =)

Mommy and Sarah

Since Cody was dressed up he even got his own kids meal.  He's a picky eater and right now he pretty much only likes meat.  He won't touch regular fruits and veggies offered finger food style (he'll still eat them pureed).  But he thought his grilled chicken nuggets were yummy!

After I got home I was floored by the snide responses from my facebook friends on the pictures I posted while we were there.  I was actually a little annoyed and got irritated because people were missing the point.  Mostly they were giving crap about Chris's picture.  A few OMGs and implications that Chis is whipped and was forced into doing this.  A lot of comments telling me I don't know how lucky I am to have a husband who would put up with that. 

And I got a little fed up.  The point was not to save $5.  Taking my family out to dinner at Chick-fil-a is not going to drain our bank account thank-you-very-much.  The point was to do something fun and silly together as a family.  To make memories together.  To laugh and play together.  To do something that Sarah would enjoy with her mom and dad and Cody.  The point was to have a good time.  And we did.  I understand that dressing up in ridiculous outfits and going out in public isn't everyone's idea of a good time.  But I have a 2 year old, it is her idea of a good time.  She's young, and sweet and doesn't care that she looks silly.  Can't we just embrace that and enjoy it together.  Have we become so cynical that we'll sneer at husband and wife who can still laugh at a little bit of whimsy.  Yes, I know I have a fantastic husband.  When I heard about this 2 days ago I called him at work and told him of my plan and asked if he wanted to go or if I should take the kids for lunch.  He was quick to say, "Yes! Let's go to dinner as a family!"  I don't need to be reminded that my husband is a "good sport" as if to say this was forced on him.  I have a husband who knows that family is the most important thing and treasures these times that we get to spend together.  Because before too long we'll have a couple of teenagers who won't want to go to dinner with us on a Friday night dressed up like cows or not.  So I'm going to do every crazy and ridiculous thing within reason with my children while I can.  If that's not something you care for, then just don't comment.

The Schwartz's vs Cody's 8 Month Photo Session

So I pay an arm and a leg to have Shannon Payne Photography do a "First Moments" package with my kids.  I love her work, I really do but seeing how it's pretty much doubled since I had Sarah our next kid will not be getting the same treatment.  Anyway, part of the reason I spend a fortune is for the digital rights to the pictures.  That's why I can use them in the blog header and on my facebook page and so on.  And it takes me forever to make decision on prints so this makes it so I can print what I want when I want.  Like right now I'm thinking of going back and choosing one photo from each of Sarah's first moments sessions to try some of those cool make your own canvas print tutorials I've seen and if it works I'll do that with Cody's as well.  Plus it makes it so I can have a huge mantel picture that I change out on a regular basis for $9 by getting a 20x30 poster print at Costco and then spray glueing it to a foam poster board.

Anyway, all that to say I got my CD in the mail yesterday.  We got 33 images this session and I loved each and every one of them.  But the pictures are huge files so I'm only going to post a handful of my favorites for you all to enjoy.

I wish I had a talent like Shannon.  It would save me a fortune.  Instead I'm determined to learn how to use photoshop since my sister-in-law has the photography talent in the family.  I figure if I learn the tech part we can trade services for each other.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Schwartz's vs Sarah's Big Girl Bed

Trying on her Minnie Mouse outfit for our trip to the Magic Kingdom.

We've come to the first of many milestones I'm not looking forward to.  I was really hoping to keep Sarah in her crib until she was 3.  Don't judge me.  Sarah takes 2 hour "naps" still, and "sleeps" 12 hours at night.  She goes to bed a 7 and isn't allowed to get out until 7.  Do you know how I accomplished all those wonderful things.  I had a toddler who didn't climb out of her crib.  That's how.  So I'm not really quite sure why we've made this decision, but tonight we changed her crib into it's toddler bed configuration.  

Well, I do sort of know how we came to this.  Sarah is a chewer. 
(Click on the picture, then you'll be able to see it.)

I know it's hard to tell but look at the rail under the words.  That's one of Sarah's many horrible chew marks on my pricey convertible crib that we invested in for her.  The front panel was even worse and that's the part that is the foot of the adult size bed.  

Sunday, Sarah didn't nap.  She doesn't always nap but she is supposed to have quite time.  So I don't get to bent out of shape if she choses to talk to her stuffed animals during her nap time as long as I don't hear jumping or loud playing.  However, this day she decided to chew a new hole in the foot rail of her crib.  I was livid.  LIVID.  She got in pretty big trouble.  Strike 1.

Yesterday, Chris was at church doing a presentation for the cub scouts.  It was time for bed and Sarah threw an ever loving fit.  It was pretty horrible.  But since it was bed time I did her routine checklist, said her prayer for her since she was definitely not cooperating, kissed her and put her in her bed.  All the while she's kicking, screaming, and hollering at me, "no mommy wait!"  For the first time ever she climbed out of her bed.  I cannot begin to describe how angry I was when I turned and saw my toddler standing in the hall continuing her fit that I left her in her crib doing.  She got in pretty big trouble.  So much so she actually asked me to put her back in bed and didn't make another sound.  I went in after I got Cody down and talked to her about how dangerous it is to climb out of her bed and hoped we'd be done with that.  Climbing...strike 2.

Today during nap time she wasn't napping but wasn't being very loud so I let it go.  Then when I went in to get her one of her old chew marks was worse and still wet.  Then I lost it.  Lost it.   She went to time out for 45 minutes while I took all the toys and books out of her room and pretended to throw away her lion lovey (don't just me, I already know this was not my finest moment).  I pulled her mattress out of the crib and threw it on the floor and told her it was her new bed.  But you know every kid loves a mattress of the floor so she was fine with it and Cody thought it was great.  He climbed right up there and started playing.  That backfired.  Still chewing...Strike 3.

So when Chris came home we talked about our options and decided to put the toddler rail on.  I'm really worried about nap time.  I don't know what is going to stop her from coming out of her room.  I'm really not looking forward to waking up and seeing her in my face in the morning.  I'm just not excited about this freedom she has now.  I hope she'll use it wisely, because I am not above setting up the pack and play in her room and buying one of those crib tent things to put on it.  I'll do it.  I swear.

Since she didn't sleep during her nap time she went down easily tonight.  We made a big deal about her big girl bed.  She was excited to see it and rushed into it after her bath.  She didn't even get out of it to sit in my lap for her bedtime story.  Before I left her room I reminded her that big girls stay in their beds.  They don't get out.  I hope that information sunk in.  We shall see.  Tomorrow's nap time will be the true test.  Wish us luck.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Schwartz's vs Zip Lining

Elizabeth found a groupon for half off a 90 minute zip line tour and I'm pretty sure it's what Chris was looking forward to the most about our Gatlinburg vacation.  We saved that activity for Friday night.  And the group was so large we had to split into 2 teams.  Here's our group picture before we hit the lines.

So, funny story.  Mom is terrified of heights.  She was supposed to stay home with the grandkids so that us siblings and spouses could go with Dad.  Well, dad recently had back surgery to fix a herniated disc so his doctor did not clear him for zip lining.  Not to let the groupon go to waste mom decided she would take his place.  We had a really good time messing with her!

But she was a good sport and did a great job.  The tour guide got her pretty good when he pretended to shove her off once.  She screamed.  It's was hilarious!  The only time I think she really freaked out was on the last line.  She has 2 fears in life: heights and birds.  Well, on the line pictured above Mom and Melissa were racing and somewhere on the line a bird landed.  Mom freaked out and let go of the line and then started spinning around and wasn't able to break in time so she had a rough landing.  But it was tons of fun for everyone!

Here I am about to take off from the first platform.  I'm not going to lie.  The first tower was a little intimidating.  I'm afraid of heights in that I don't like ladders, but I can do roller coasters.  The main key to if I'll be able to handle it or not is if there is a railing or a bar.  The smallest safety measure is all I need to be ok generally.  Now, the exception is ledges.  I don't like to stand near ledges even if there is a rail.  So I knew that doing this zip line was perfectly safe.  Lots of hooks, heavy duty clips, double lines for safety.  But taking that step off was still a little nerve wracking.  And I was surprised by how fast you go on the zip line.
Here's Chris on the final line.

By the racing line I had gotten the hang of it and we were having quite a good time breaking all the rules.  I'm posing for the company's camera person here.  Break hand off the line leaning back and smiling big.  I would have bought it but it was over priced and not a great picture.  The person wasn't zoomed in enough.

I enjoyed the zip line adventure and Chris really had a good time.   Would I do it again?  Meh, probably not.  The harness is really uncomfortable and had me walking like a cowboy for a few days.  But I'm glad I went and now I can say I've done it.