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We Have Da-Da!!

It was a weekend of firsts for Gracie.  She has had her first really bad cold – snotty nose, hoarse voice, coughing, sneezing, waking me up so I can’t rest kind of cold.  Lovely. 

Then we took her to the diner for dinner Sunday night (11/20) after we took Brighid to her party.  She got to sit for the first time in a high chair there – using a floppy seat (awesome invention, wish I had one for the other two http://www.floppyseat.com/.  She thought it was the coolest thing.  Up until now, she has been taken into the restaurant in her car seat, so she’s limited as to how much she can see.  She was spinning her head so quickly to see everything around her in the diner that she looked like Linda Blair in the Exorcist.  She stared at waitresses and patrons, looked at the various decorations, stared out the window – it was a great experience for her.  And in addition to her jar of baby food, she got to enjoy apple sauce and mashed potatoes. 

And during the dinner, clear as a bell, for I don’t know what reason, she said, “Da-da”.  Jim has been waiting for it since she was 10 minutes old, and I’m so glad he was there when she said it for the first time.  She has been saying it over and over since the first time, probably because it got such a big response the first time she said it. 

She’s trying hard to crawl, but does this sort of thing where she gets on all fours, then stands on her feet – like she’s playing Twister.  So cute.

I get sadder and sadder over the fact that she will be my last 🙁   I know it’s in the best interest of the family, but there is just such magic in small children.

Eilis’ Parent Teacher Conference, Fall 2005

I was so dreading going into this thing by myself and Jim could not get off from work.  Last year, I left crying, so I was holding out hope that I could at least make it to the car before I broke into tears.

All my concerns were quickly put at ease.  Eilis’ teachers described her as upbeat and optimistic.  She comes into class every day and says that she is “great”, and is very quick with hugs for everyone.  She plays well with the other children, she shares, and she seems to really enjoy school.  She participates in things, unlike last year, and she has fit right in with everything.

She does her numbers very well, with the occasional stumble at 7 and 8.  The only thing we need to work on is her letters, which she doesn’t seem to know very well.  They want her to know them all before she finishes preschool so she is ready for kindergarten.

It was so nice coming out of there, knowing that she’s doing well.  I always worry about Eilis.  I worry that I don’t give her enough time and attention, I worry that she will grow up to resent Brighid and Grace for various reasons, and I worry that she won’t know how much I love her because she is too busy trying to be somewhere where she feels like she is the center of attention all the time.  She has come so far.  She is still an independent little soul and a challenge sometimes, but from last year, when I was crying over how difficult she was, the tears this year were for a much better reason.

Your One Time Ticket to the ER Has Expired

Eilis only had one day of school this week, so Dram and Pop-pop got the brilliant idea that they would keep her for the week.  I dropped her off on Monday, to be picked up on Friday.  Of course, Eilis didn’t want to come home, because Dram’s house is full of anything but rules,  meals in bed in front of the TV, milkshakes for breakfast, and ice cream cones round the clock.

On Monday evening, after Eilis spent a full day working outside in the leaves with Pop-pop, Dram phoned to say Eilis was limping.  It didn’t look like anything was wrong with her foot, she wasn’t complaining of pain, but she was definitely limping.  I told them to call me on Tuesday and let me know how she was or see if she could remember how it happened.  On Tuesday, it seemed a little bit better, but she was still limping, so I called the pediatrician.  They told me to wait 24 hours with her on motrin or tylenol, and call back if I felt like she needed an x-ray.  The thing is, she wasn’t really in any pain. 

So, Dram took care of her, had her soaking her foot in that age old only for old people tonic – epson salts and water – and on Wednesday, she really didn’t notice much limping.  On with the week.

I picked her up on Friday, and I didn’t notice it right away, but she still had a slight limp.  It seemed to vanish through the day, and we went out to dinner with Nanny as a special treat for Eilis getting a good report from her teachers this week at the parent/teacher conference.  When we got home, Jim had a bunch of prizes unwrapped for his 12 days of Christmas give away, and he gave Eilis the bubble wrap.  She proceeded to jump all over it, bouncing like a Tigger on speed, paying no mind at all to the injured foot.

Now it’s Saturday.  Of course, Eilis sleeps until 11, so when she finally gets up and I notice she is REALLY limping, the peds office is getting ready to close for the day.  They tell me I can keep her pinned down until Monday, when I can run over there, pick up a prescription for an X-Ray, and then they’ll take it from there, or I can risk waiting 4 hours and take her to the ER.  Knowing that the ER close to my mom is usually not too busy, I head there.

She has a sprained ankle, Dr. Personality tells us after two times on the x-ray table.  They try to give her crutches, because they want her to keep her weight off of it a few days so it can heal.  That didn’t work, as the crutches were too big for her, and it’s so hard to teach crutches to a little kid.  They wrapped her like a Christmas present in an ace bandage and sent her home, loaded down with stickers, lollipops, coloring books and crayons.  She wants her next birthday party there 😉

I pray every night when I go to sleep that I never have to take my children to the hospital.  And I pray that if I do, make it a one time thing, not too serious, something we can deal with.  Eilis used her one time up today.  I guess that means I have to pray a little harder for her from now on.

The Osbourne Lights Disney MGM Studios

Years back, a man from Arkansas tried to make Christmas magical for himself, his family, and especially his little girl, Breezy.  He had the most incredible spectacle of lights anyone had ever seen, and people came from miles, no, hundreds of miles to see the annual display.  Unfortunately, this man lived in Grinchville, and his neighbors complained.  A lot.  They didn’t like the traffic, the people, the mess the people made parking all over, walking on their lawns, and they demanded that this man take down his lights.  Not to disappoint his family and his beautiful little daughter, this man went all the way to the Arkansas Supreme Court before finally accepting the fact in 1994 that he would no longer be allowed to put out his Christmas display.

But wait!   In 1995, a Mouse came to the rescue.  And from that was born the Osbourne Spectacle of Lights, courtesy of Jennings Osbourne and Mickey Mouse.  The light display that made so many people happy would now be available for the world to see, as it transformed Residential Street at Disney MGM Studios into a Winter Wonderland, with colorful, twinkling lights and animated displays for as far as the eye can see.

Disney added lights and changed a few things over the years, and in 2003, due to renovations being made at Disney MGM Studios, the light spectacle was not displayed at all.  But it came back in 2004, on New York Street.  Each night during the holiday season, the lights go on in a short ceremony, snow comes gently falling down, and throngs of guests put on special effects glasses that make each light look like a snowflake, an angel, whatever they decide that year.  There are vendors through the display offering hot cocoa in holiday mugs and you can take as long as you like, roaming up and down, admiring the talent and effort that goes in to putting up so many lights.

Is this a must see?   I would rank this among one of the things not to miss if you are going to be in Disney World during the holidays.  I would say in terms of holiday spirit, if I had to choose between this and the Candlelight Processional, I would choose the Candlelight every time.  But this display is one of a kind, chock full of the spirit of Christmas, and a joy for the eye to see.

EPCOT Candlelight Processional

If you are spending any part of your holiday season in Disney World, this is a not to be missed event that will have you wishing you could come back to Disney every year at Christmas time.  This is a very popular, celebrity hosted event, and there are two ways to get in to see it.  Anyone who purchases a ticket (any ticket – annual pass, seasonal pass, park hopper, single day ticket) into EPCOT center, can go to see one of the three nightly performances that takes place from the day after Thanksgiving up until the day before New Year’s Eve.  There is no extra charge to go and see this spectacular holiday event.  HOWEVER…

Disney sells what are called Candlelight Processional Dining Packages.  These packages include your dinner at one of the participating restaurants and reserved general seating for one of the three shows.  The packages are sold at three different price levels, depending on the restaurant you choose.  For example, Tier I is about $30 per adult (not including tax or gratuity), and you are limited to the Garden Grill restaurant or the Biergarten.  Tier II is about $39, and includes restaurants like the San Angel Inn and the Rose and Crown Pub.  Tier III, the most expensive at about $46 per adult, includes the most restaurants.  With that package, you can dine at Chefs de France, the Coral Reef, and Le Cellier, and a few others.  The meal includes an appetizer, an entree and a dessert.  Alcoholic beverages are not included, and park admission is still required – this price does not include your admission to EPCOT. 

With the package, you will be able to enter the American Gardens theater, and everyone who has purchased a package is escorted in first.  There are no reserved seats, just the guarantee that you will have a seat in the theater.  As the line of package purchasers begins to dwindle, they then allow those people who have not purchased packages to file in to the theater.  People line up at least 30 minutes prior to the start of each show to get standby seating, and closer to Christmas, I have seen people waiting an hour or more.  You are NOT guaranteed a seat if you do not purchase the dinner package.  If you have your heart set on seeing a particular celebrity perform this event, I HIGHLY recommend the package.

The show itself is a 150 member choir, providing the music that weaves together a retelling of the story of Christmas.  The story is told by a celebrity narrator, and in the past, the narrators have included Gary Sinise (Forrest Gump, CSI:NY); James Caviezel (Passion of the Christ); Rita Moreno (Broadway); and other stars of stage, screen, TV and music.  The music is beautiful, the story is, of course, beautiful, and the experience is one of the best for your money at Disney World. 

If you plan on doing a dinner package, book it as soon as possible once the packages are available.  They do sell out, as the restaurants book up quickly.  You DO need to make an advanced dining reservation when you purchase the package.

And look for the CD of the Candlelight Processional when you leave.  We find ourselves listening to it at all times of the year!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

The beauty of living in Orlando was having the opportunity each year to enjoy the festivities at Disney World during the Christmas holidays.  There are spectacular things going on there, if you have never been, and one of them is Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

As if by magic – Disney Magic – Main Street in the Magic Kingdom is transformed into a Winter Wonderland.  The snow is falling, the Christmas tree stands tall and bright, the street is adorned with garlands heavy with beads and baubles.  The sights and the sounds bring Christmas spirit like you have never known.

A hard ticket event – meaning if you want to go, you have to buy a special ticket – Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas party takes place several evenings between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Included in the price of your ticket – which for the 5 hour party is around $40 – is the special holiday entertainment, including a fabulous Christmas parade, holiday themed shows (Country Bears Jamboree, Diamond Horseshoe Revue, and Mickey’s Night Before Christmas stage show), a fantastic fireworks display, complimentary cookies and hot cocoa, complimentary family portraits – you might even have them waiting for you in the mail when you get home! – and Christmas carolers. 

The event does sell out some nights, so if you know you want to go, I highly recommend purchasing your tickets in advance.  Many people deck themselves out in holiday sweaters, t-shirts, Santa hats, etc., which make for a nice, festive holiday photo. 

Can you visit Disney during the holidays and not do this event?   Absolutely.  You will still be awed and amazed by the beautiful and plentiful holiday decorations.  Does this make the trip and the holidays a little more special?   Without a doubt.