Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Disney "Dream" Vacation

Well, we not only survived our first major vacation (including air travel) with Owen, but we had a blast! Can't say enough good things about the Disney Dream cruise ship. It was beautiful and amazing! I've never been on a cruise before, so I can't make any comparisons (I've never even been to a Disney park, for that matter), but everything just seemed so well thought out (and clean!)

We left last Wednesday on a direct flight from Moline to Orlando. I was very worried about how Owen would behave on the plane, but he did great! Thankfully, the flight was just under 3 hours long and actually seemed to fly by (pardon the pun). I relied on a few of the items out of his carry-on bag to entertain him, but by far, the most useful were snacks and the DVD player (with a Yo Gabba Gabba disc, of course.) Having his car seat on the plane (a decision we agonized over for a few weeks) proved to be a smart move. He seemed to understand that he had to stay in there and didn't even really fuss about wanting to get out.

We stayed in Orlando that day/night (hanging out at the hotel with the rest of the Peterson clan) and then caught a shuttle to Port Canaveral Thursday morning. Mickey Mouse was there to greet us at the port terminal and we were fortunate enough to see him show up just as a line started forming to meet him. We jumped right in and Owen was lucky enough to meet the big man nearly right away. Here he is holding hands with "Mimi."

Check out this amazing ship... It is gigantic!

It wasn't long before we started seeing more Disney characters. As you can see from this shot with Goofy, Owen was not afraid to just reach out and say hi!

Day 2 on the ship brought us to Nassau in the Bahamas. We debarked for a little while, but since we didn't have any excursions booked that day, we headed back onboard pretty quickly to take advantage of the ship's pools and water slide.

Owen enjoyed splashing around in the shallow part of the pools even though he was not technically allowed in them. (They have a rule against non-potty trained kids in the pools.) Only his feet touched the water (well, except for maybe once or twice when he decided to sit down and, really, what was I gonna do?) so I figured it was ok.

The ship (it is SO amazing!) has a movie theatre that plays various Disney movies (of course!), several restaurants and other dining options, nightclubs, kid zones designed for kids of different ages, a fireworks display one night, lots of different "shows" going on all over the ship, and a full theatre (which seemed to me about the size of the Adler Theater in Davenport). We certainly did not get to do or see everything there was to do and see (partly because it was only a 3-night cruise, and partly because we have a toddler), but we did see two of the three shows - Villains Tonight and Believe. They were late shows - 9:00, which is late for Owen anyway - but he seemed to enjoy them, particularly the music and dancing!

Day 3 took us to Disney's own private island, Castaway Cay, which was gorgeous and super fun! Right away, we met another old friend, Pluto.

We spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon on the beach. Owen did not care for the sand under his feet at first. When I tried to set him down, he would lift up his feet and say, "owwww!" as if it hurt (which I am certain it did not.) So I just plopped him down on his bottom and gave him a shovel and eventually, he started to play in it, piling sand up on his legs.

There was also a splash area for little kids where water shot up from lots of different spouts in the ground and, OMG...I mean to tell you, my kid was squealing with delight! He went bonkers for it! He was giggling and running around as if it was the greatest thing he'd ever experienced. I took him back a second time to try get video of the pure joy that so melted my heart, but of course the video did not accurately capture his giddiness, so I did not bother to post. But here's a pretty cute photo anyway. I think we will be getting out the sprinklers in the backyard this summer.

So, I'm skipping over a lot of other details aboard the ship - like the exquisite food, very comfortable (and surprisingly not as cramped as anticipated) living quarters, and extremely friendly and helpful staff. But needless to say, this was a vacation that we shall not soon forget (ok, well maybe Owen will. In fact, sadly, I'm sure he already has.) But we greatly appreciate the Petersons for splurging on this family trip and owe them a big fat THANK YOU!!!

We debarked on Sunday morning and, since our flight home wasn't until Monday, we had another day to kill. Completely unlike Ryan and me, we hadn't actually made any definite plans for how to spend that day. We'd tossed around a few ideas, but eventually decided that morning to just spend the day at Disney's Magic Kingdom. I am proud to say that after 30-something years, I have now been to Disney World!

Owen did not appreciate the long lines to get on the rides (does anyone?) and had a tantrum (or ten!) while waiting in them, but he did rather enjoy the rides themselves.

Despite his distant look in the photo above (he refused to smile for pictures that day), he enjoyed the teacups, It's a Small World ride, Aladdin's magic carpet ride, and a Winnie the Pooh ride, as well as pizza, hot dogs, and ice cream. It is "the happiest place on earth," right?

Sleep deprived as could be after several days of disruption to his normal schedule, he hung in there and did take a short nap in his stroller.

The last "ride" we took him on was the train, which he thoroughly enjoyed. Again, you'd never guess it from this photo, but he loved every minute of the ride around the park and stared wide eyed at all the scenery as it passed by, "choo-choo"-ing along the whole time.

Finally, we ended the day by watching Disney's electrical parade (and eating corn dogs and french fries!) - another favorite moment for Owen. He watched with glee as each lighted float passed by and he danced along to the music from his front-row stroller seat. They finished the parade off with an awesome fireworks display (which we watched from outside the park because Ryan was in a hurry to "beat the crowd"). All in all, a very good day.

Indeed, a very good vacation!

Monday, February 14, 2011

V-Day Update

Sorry for the sporadic blog posts lately. We've been busy around here! The weekend after our painting project, Ryan tackled a new one for us - kitchen tile backsplash. It took a little longer than expected, but otherwise went fairly smoothly. I give Ryan ALL the credit (he did awesome!), though I helped keep Owen away from the mess, which was a pretty big job in itself! We are delighted with how it turned out!

And for the big reveal....our kitchen is finally complete! (Oh, except for those shiny, new, stainless steel appliances we hope for someday.)

Here's a "before" from when we first moved in.
(Well, even this isn't a completely accurate "before" shot. We had already replaced the gaudy, brass overhead light fixtures and tacky cabinet hardware here, but I don't have an earlier photo of the kitchen than this one.)

In other news, Owen has another cold. (Dear winter, we are DONE with you! Go away already!) Apparently his cold symptoms manifest as gunk in and around his eyes, poor baby! He looks much worse than I think he feels, though.

He's into climbing now. He's expert at getting up on things, but hasn't quite mastered the getting down part. Ugh.

Getting jazzy with buddy Matthew (and Mom's pal, Mary with baby Owen [oh yes, it's true!] in the background.)

Two fun activities - coloring and eating Hershey Kisses - sadly, don't mix well.

We've recently discovered the joy of balloons!

And we attended Owen's very first Hawkeye sporting event - a (lost) basketball game.

He espcially enjoyed all the clapping and cheering. Fun stuff!

It's hard to keep up with all of Owen's new vocabulary because he will really attempt to say most words now, but here are a few worth noting:
  • Elmo - "Eh-Oh" (which is distinctly different from "uh-oh.")
  • Help - "How"
  • Kinnick - "Kiki"
  • There you go... - "Dehgo" (which, apparently, is something I say often, as in, "You can do it, there you go.")
  • Water - "Wah"
  • Thank You (sort-of) - "Day-day"
  • Please - "Peeeee!"
  • Snack - "Sack"
  • Color - "Cuh"
  • Bird - "Bird"
  • Car - "Car"
We leave for our Peterson family Disney Dream cruise on Wednesday. I am VERY nervous about the flight primarily, but think I've done as much prep work as I can at this point. (I have a bag of tricks fully stocked to hopefully alleviate any major tantrums aboard the plane.) Pictures and details to come upon our return next week.

Happy Valentine's Day all!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Painting project

As promised, here's the finished product after a weekend of major painting...



Here's a slightly better picture of the actual color,

but truthfully, the walls look completely different in all kinds of light. During the daylight hours, I get a little bummed because the color is so bland-ish and really not all that different from what it used to be (especially for all the work that went into it!) But in the evening when the artificial lights come one, I love the rich, but still subtle greenish "greige" (to borrow a term from my sister) that appears. It really looks sharp!

We painted the living room, kitchen, and hallway (our main living areas). All of that space has beautiful white crown moulding, two large window bays (7 windows total), two built-in shelving units, a fireplace, kitchen cabinets, and a total of 8 doorways, all of which needed to be taped and hand-painted around. The entire project took about 20 hours, including prep time (i.e. TAPING trim, spackling cracks, etc.) We used 5 rolls of Frog Tape (which I highly recommend. It is the BEST anti-bleed painters tape!), 4 gallons of paint, 2 roller brushes, and various other materials, much of which we already owned. Total cost was $145.72, not including the nine different sample cans (at about $3 a can) purchased in the weeks leading up to our color selection.

All in all, it was worth it. I am glad that we decided to do it ourselves instead of paying a professional painter. And, on the plus side, it makes all future painting endeavors (because I now officially have the bug!) seem like a piece of cake. A big thanks to both sets of grandparents for taking Owen off our hands for the weekend so we could get this done. There is absolutely NO way it would have happened with him around.

Here's the little guy enjoying an oatmeal raisin cookie, feet up in his high chair, watching Yo Gabba Gabba, no doubt. He truly rules this roost!