My last night having a two-year-old

I can not believe that Alex is turning three tomorrow. I can’t believe that I will no longer have a two-year-old. I am in denial. Perhaps if I keep Alex awake ALL night her birthday won’t come and I can freeze her at this age forever? Not likely. I know. But you can’t blame a girl for trying.

To celebrate Alex’s last night as a two-year-old, I took her to Chic-fil-a for dinner, ice cream and a round of playground exploration. She never ceases to amaze me. When we first got there she refused to climb into the playground because she was scared. She would go up one layer, cry for me, and scramble back down. Then she started following other children up higher, but she would inevitably crawl back down before she reached the top. She has climbed in other playground before so I am unsure why this one terrified her, and normally I have a twenty minute attention span for watching playground playing, but today I was feeling generous, so we stayed for a little over an hour, and I am SO glad that I did. By the time we left the playground, this child was climbing ALL OVER that playground. She was racing older kids up the slide (yes, UP the slide). I didn’t even yell at her for doing it wrong because I was just so excited that she worked up the nerve to get up there. Had I left at my usual 20 minute mark I would have denied her the thrill of making it all the way to the top around minute 40. When she finally reached the top she yelled down to me with such pride, “Look Momma!”. I melted. I clapped. I neglected to snap a picture (I was so caught up in her moment of glory).

Watching her tackle that playground today reminded me about the inevitability of time. Alex will continue to grow up. Alex will have these mini-moments through her whole life. I want to be there to cheer her on for each and every one of them. This three-year-old mark is a big deal. I am the mother of a little girl. Not a baby. Not a toddler. A little girl.

I am excited for three. I am not sure how three differs all that much from two, but I am excited to find out. Hopefully it contains lots of giggles and good days. Certainly we will still deal with mid-night wake-ups and occasional temper tantrums (Lord, please let them be seldom). I now mark my years based on Alex’s birthday. New Year’s Eve and it’s resolutions have taken  a back seat to Alex and her loveliness. This next year will be one where I slow down and enjoy the small moments that don’t necessarily get to take photos of.

It took 12 tries to get this picture. 12! But, this is Alex on her last night as a two-year-old. we come!

It took 12 tries to get this picture. 12! But, this is Alex on her last night as a two-year-old. Three…here we come!

If Only I Could Keep Up…And Slow Time Down All At Once

I am not sure when Alex decided that sleeping like a baby didn’t apply to her anymore. I am so incredibly exhausted after Alex’s 3am wake-up call that I can barely function. I know that this must be a stage. I know that it won’t last forever. I know that eventually this child will sleep through the night. I know that I vowed to cherish every moment of this little girl’s child-hood, but right now, I simply want to sleep. I was looking through old pictures of baby-Alex and I came across this gem and realized that Alex still sleeps in the exact same position every night. I would love to know why she is waking up so early. I would love to know when she will start sleeping in (teenage years?). But, until that day, I am going to try (so very hard) to be nice at 3am. I am going to remember this super-sweet sleeping picture and remember that this little girl will grow up too quickly. I WILL embrace my 3am wake ups. I WILL. I WILL. I WILL.

Baby Alex

Celebrating the Big Moments: Alex’s First Sea World Trip

I learned a few things during the past 72 hours.

1. NEVER forget to bring your sunscreen into a theme park. It is a seven mile hike back to the car and the price of sunscreen in the park is a 300% mark-up from even the most expensive stores.

2. Shamu IS just as big as he seems. And his babies…adorably massive.

3. Kids pee in the pool at hotels. Then they tell you they did it. People flee. (And Alex wasn’t the one who peed and told, which made it SO much worse).

4. Kids CAN skip regularly scheduled naps and stay up late when they are constantly entertained, swimming in pools, watching dolphins, or being bribed with expensive toys at themed restaurants.

5. I am no longer young enough to enjoy spinny rides. I’m not sure when it happened, but sometime in the last three years I got old. I’m pissed.

6. Rooms on the 14th floor with a balcony are ONLY cool before you have kids. Once you have kids you barricade the sliding glass doors with coffee tables because you are convinced that the balcony is a death-trap. We went on the balcony for exactly four minutes while Alex napped. We saw sea world from the balcony. We took one picture. We went back in for fear of being caught by Alex who would then think balconies were cool and fun. Here is the proof we went out there. Once.20140719-171740-62260494.jpg

That is the short version of our trip.

Here is a full version.

Ballet and Whale Riding. Clearly a great combination!

Ballet and Whale Riding. Clearly a great combination!

We left Thursday morning and came home a few hours ago. Alex is tucked into her own bed. Mike has sought solace in the woods. I think he needed to wash the smell of city-living off of him with a good dose of camp fire and bug spray.

We took Alex to Orlando to visit Sea World. She was in LOVE with the dolphins (next time we plan ahead and schedule a chance to actually feed them).

Turtle Trek was a HUGE hit. She adored the sea turtles and we got some great photos (on the camera…will be downloaded tomorrow, have patience). Watching her face light up as she watched these hundred year old turtles swim was such a fantastic experience to have as a parent. She took delight in everything she saw. I haven’t ever heard her giggle as much as I did on this short trip (which makes me realize that I don’t give her enough chances to just be silly without an agenda).

Alex was awesome at standing in lines…but the longest one was 15 minutes. I am not about to delude myself into thinking that an hour long line would be as successful. At one point in the longest line (15 minutes), Alex made a frienenemy and the two little girls were fighting over who would put their hand on a specific part of a railing. Granted, there were eight thousand other railings all around them, but THIS  spot on THIS railing was the holy-grail of spots and they both HAD to have it as theirs. It was intense. AND, there was a language barrier and the other little girl and her family spoke no English. So, they were arguing over a spot in different languages, but their body language said it all. Then, when it was time to get on the ride and they had to separate into different cars, they didn’t want to leave each other. Insanity! The other parents were just as confused as we were.

Alex got to see Shamu and baby (name?). Alex saw manatees, flamingos, dolphins, alligators, countless fish, stingrays, and tons of ducks.  What did she want to see? A hippopotamus. What does Sea World not have? You guessed it. A hippopotamus.

Shamu and baby! (And Alex and some little punk who wouldn't leave her side the entire time and kept trying to nudge HER away as if SHE was the problem. Ugh!)

Shamu and baby! (And Alex and some little punk who wouldn’t leave her side the entire time and kept trying to nudge HER away as if SHE was the problem. Ugh!)

Sea World is the only theme park we did during our three days. Day two consisted of the pool and Downtown Disney. The evening culminated with a 9:15 dinner reservation at The Rainforest Café. I convinced Mike she would love it. I convinced him that the whimsical animated elephants and monkeys would delight her. I convinced him that it was worth the $103 dinner. I convinced him that this HAD to be the place we ate (as we drove by over 20 suitable dinner options). Alex convinced me I was SO wrong. She was terrified. Fortunately we had gone into a store just before dinner and bought her a little Mickey mouse light up and spin toy because I convinced her it was a magic wand that kept scary things away. Every time an animated animal made ANY noise, she held that light-up toy to her chest and looked around, eyes wide, just making sure her magic wand worked and that those animals stayed in their placed. I will NOT be getting mommy of the year (or wife of the year).

Meet "Shampoo" the whale!

Meet “Shampoo” the whale!

Alex ended up with some serious loot during these 72 hours:

  • A “Shampoo” the whale stuffed animal (she just wasn’t grasping the Shamu concept so she calls him her “Shampoo” whale. Nobody had better correct her. 
  •  A pink pony on a stick from Bass Pro Shops.
  • A spinny light-up Mickey Mouse toy.
  • A Minnie Mouse baby doll that wraps in a blanket (by far her favorite purchase).
  • A Minnie Mouse tote bag (I wanted it…I convinced her she wanted it to).
  • A bag of rocks from The Rainforest Café (she spent over 20 minutes playing with the display while we waited for our reservation time. She just moved the rocks from one location to another over and over and over again. It was amazing to watch her spend so much time getting absolutely nothing accomplished).
  • We spend twelve million dollars. (Not really, but it felt that way. How do people take more than one child on vacation?)

Overall though, this kid was a champ. She was sweet. She was a good listener. She cuddled and played and giggled and we had a fantastic time.

The worlds most fascinating rocks according to a two year old.

The worlds most fascinating rocks according to a two year old.

Alex was using her magic wand to protect Minnie from the terrifying animals at The Rainforest Café.

Alex was using her magic wand to protect Minnie from the terrifying animals at The Rainforest Café.

The Ankle Woods

We were traveling today to go spend time with my younger cousin and her adorable baby boy, and on the ride there Alex asked, “Where we are?”
“We are driving baby.”
“No. Where we ARE?”
So, now I realize she wants a location. Okay.
“We are in Englewood sweetie.”
“No Momma. That is not right. We are not in ankle woods. We are on a ROAD!”

Yup- that is my kid.

Alex LOVED baby Michael and when she woke up from her car-nap on the ride home she cried because she wanted to go back to his house and play in the "cage".

Alex LOVED baby Michael and when she woke up from her car-nap on the ride home she cried because she wanted to go back to his house and play in the “cage”.

Escape Artist with an Attitude

Alex's first trip around the lazy river! I want one of these going around m house!

Alex’s first trip around the lazy river! I want one of these going around m house!

We had a real “first” today. Alex went to her first water park. I thought that perhaps I was more excited than she was…until we got there and she wanted to go on EVERY slide. She begged to go on the slide that is an almost vertical drop resulting in giant wedgies. She settled with the kiddie slide…and went down it no less than 70 times. She also made 8 loops through the lazy river (swimming frantically the entire time, feet flailing, arms pumping, refusing to believe that “lazy” is the operative word).

The joy on her face was absolutely fantastic. The first time we went around the lazy river she kept saying, “This is So COOL!” I was enthralled with her sense of wonder and excitement.

90 percent of our day was awesome, and I could end the story there and let everyone know that I am a great mom, Alex is a great kid, we had no issues and life was grand. Perfect first water-park trip. But, there was 10% of the day that was less than perfect…and since my best friend Kindra was at the park with us…I need to share that lovely 10%  of the story as well (friends keep us honest).

So here it is. Alex is NOT the best listener. After going down the slide for the first 15 times or so, I wanted to go back into the lazy river to cool off so I warned Alex that she could go down one more time and then we would go swimming. We would come back to the slide later. So, she slides. I put her floatie back on her (they make them take it off for the slide which I find bizarre), and then off we go, hand in hand, towards the lazy river. Then Alex shoots away from me, her slippery wet hand easily slipping from mine, and she is sprinting up the stairs for the top of the slide again. She bypasses bigger kids, pushing them out of her way, I am chasing her (not as fast as I would have liked), and she then pushes past the sweet little life0guard who is yelling at her “come back sweetie, it isn’t your turn” and then down Alex goes. She gets to the bottom of the slide I turn around to run back down the stairs I had finally mounted, and Alex decides to start climbing UP the water slide. The lifeguard at the bottom was quick to blow his whistle (Alex has no idea that whistle blowing is a bad thing) and he snags her before she can hurt herself. When he gets to the bottom of the slide with my impish child, I grab her, spank her bottom and look at all the stunned parents around me and announce, “Spanking is legal in Florida”, just in case anyone was interested in sending me to awful mother jail. Alex spent the next 20 minutes out of the water having an attitude adjustment after her full on temper tantrum once I pulled her from the water. Kindra sat in a lounge chair, patiently waited, and relaxed (No…I’m not jealous….I swear…honest).

Wphew. Just writing that was stressful. Living it was worse. I felt like bad parent #1. I needed a sash and a crown that declared “I can’t control my toddler”.

The rest of the afternoon included a couple minor run-away attempts but when Alex realized she was pushing the limits she would stop running, turn around, smile sweetly and say “Sorry Momma, I’m just too fast” or “Sorry Momma. I forgot the rules”. Ugh, Does she have to be SO CUTE and SO BAD all at the same time? God made kids cute so we would keep them around. I am convinced.

And Kindra, don’t think I didn’t notice you smirking the whole time. Don’t worry. Your time will come. You will have twins! Muahaahaa! (xoxoxo)

This is the slide that Alex conquered...and then escaped to and climbed up.

This is the slide that Alex conquered…and then escaped to and climbed up.

Rain, Rain, Go Your Way

Yesterday Alex and I were driving home in the typical Florida afternoon rain storm, and Alex started singing, “Rain, rain, go your way” over and over again. She never got the words right, or got to the rest of the lyrics, but I  thought the sentiment was rather appropriate. We can’t change the rain. We can  try to predict it’s patterns and try to work around it, but it is going to go its own way no matter how hard we try to change it. In that way, the rain is very much like a stubborn toddler that I know and dearly love.

This picture was taken while we were in Gainesville, but I had forgotten to share it, so here it is now. My own little force of nature.

This picture was taken while we were in Gainesville, but I had forgotten to share it, so here it is now. My own little force of nature.

My grown-up little girl

I accidentally scratched Alex with my nail while I was putting her pajamas on tonight. I was expecting the end of the world- tantrums, tears, booboo babies. But I was surprised. Alex looked at me and said, “Momma. That was not polite. You scratched me. I am sad at you. You need to ‘pologize. Use you manners.”

I tried to keep my laughter in so that she knew that I was aware of the severity of my actions. After a genuine ‘pology on my part, Alex responded with, “I forgive you Momma. Good job.”

Then she went off on a five minute summary of what appears to have been her entire life. It went like this:

“Mickey has a river and a boat but stinky Pete took the boat and then he took Coco the monkey. Monkeys were at the zoo and one was missing a tail because stinky Pete stole it and the monkey was sad and I was sad and then I cried because I was sad. I can’t sleep when I cry and I need water in my bed. Then stinky Pete takes my water and I have to chase him in my Gator where I have to wear a helmet which is pink. I love pink, my pillow is pink and I want Dadda’s  pillow, can I go get it please (she leaps out of bed and steals her father’s pillow from across the house). Wphew, that was close, monkeys were going to get me but now it is bedtime and I am not tired and Momma are you tired? Do you like purple? I like purple and Catherine had the purple plate at school but I had one at home and I had grilled cheese and my tummy isn’t full and my motes (teeth) hurt and can I have pink medicine or blue  or purple because that is my favorite color.”

Just trying to remember all of that exhausts me. I never got a word in edgewise. I could just nod and listed and try my hardest to remember every little detail because it was so dang cute (and so typical of my adorable little girl).