Vacation Part 2: Disneyland

The second and third days of our trip (and the original reason for going) were spent with my brother Christopher, his wife Jenny, their two kids Miles and Hannah, and Jenny's parents. We went to Disneyland! And it was super fun. There was a fair bit of walking around, deciding what to do next:

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Miles was really excited to go to Cars Land. This is Jenny and him riding one of the rides there:

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Aaaand those are the only pics we got of the family we drove all that way to visit. Oops?

For the most part, we stuck to kiddie rides that everybody could go on. Heather's favorites were the splash pad in A Bug's Land (where she basically chased the water around) and the carousel. Over the two days, we actually rode carousels six times!

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Her least favorite rides were Pirates of the Caribbean and Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Both actually scared her quite a bit. She recovered easily, though, once it was all over.

Our second day we actually split from the rest of the crew. Christopher got food poisoning and wasn't up for Disney. They were all staying a day longer than we were, so they could put it on hold for a day. We could not, so it was just the three of us! The day started out chilly and drizzly, but it was lovely once the rain stopped. Nice and overcast.

In the carousel picture above and the first picture below, you can see Heather's Ride Face. She'd be looking around, laughing and pointing, right up until a ride started. Then her face went completely blank and she just looked around, as if studying and trying to figure out just what was going on. As soon as the ride stopped, she'd become animated again. Silly girl. (Regarding the first picture below: No, I am not a crazy person. The ferris wheel car was sliding around.)

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Heather also enjoyed Dumbo, because she likes elephants.
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I just want to put in a comment about the Baby Care Center in Disneyland. Of course, the bathrooms all have changing areas. But the actual Baby Care Center was fantastic! We popped in to change Heather's diaper just as we were leaving, and man, it is posh! The staff are dressed up like old-school child attendants (I don't know how better to describe it, but think of a traditional nursemaid, I guess) and the whole place is so cozy. There are areas for nursing and places to warm bottles/heat up food for toddlers and the changing tables are deluxe. They actually change the paper liners every time they're used! It's also where they take any children who get lost in the park, and I honestly can't imagine a more soothing atmosphere. And now, moving on to more elephants:

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This is the parade. She really liked the floats and even mimicked the princesses' arm movements. But I think what she's really pointing at in this picture is those balloons. She went crazy-go-nuts every time she saw one: pointing, babbling, laughing, and running after it. We didn't get her one because we figured it'd be a pain on the car ride home, but she sure loved them.

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I was, of course, nervous about how Heather would handle this trip. Long car rides and sleeping in hotels are not the norm for her. But she was a champ! I think that most of the success of the Disneyland days was due to the fact that we were very mellow about our time at the park.* We got up and went in the mornings, but returned to the hotel for Heather's nap in the early afternoon. Then we went back to the park for the evening, until Heather needed to go to bed. We certainly could have seen and done more than we did, but it wasn't worth making Heather miserable over. So we did what we could and were satisfied. Our real reason for going wasn't to see the parks, after all, but to see family. So it all worked out.

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The day we left town, we met up with the whole crew again for lunch in Downtown Disney. It was good to see everybody again, especially since we'd missed them the previous day. All in all, it was a really good trip. Yay Disney! Yay fun! Yay family!

*And the binkie. As always when Heather is on the edge, that was key.

Vacation Part 1: Aquarium of the Pacific

We went down to southern California for most of the week on a short vacation.  We drove down on Sunday and met up with Josh (of Project Runway fame) for dinner.  On Monday we met up with him again to go to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.

Traffic in the Los Angeles area is notoriously bad, but what makes it even more fun is when they hold a Grand Prix event on the blocks that surround the place you're trying to get to.  The Aquarium had been closed over the weekend for the race, but reopened on Monday.  However, they were just starting to take down all of the fencing, barriers, stands, etc. from the race.  So roads were randomly blocked off and everything our GPS unit wanted us to do was simply not possible.  We finally wandered into a member of the event staff at yet another intersection where our only allowed movement was a U-turn.  They were able to tell us how to get to the aquarium.

Heather thought it was pretty great.

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Being my daughter, she loved the penguins.  Mainly the penguin statues though; which she, of course, felt the need to kiss.
Turns out that having a third pair of hands with us made things much more manageable: one to handle Heather, one to push the stroller, and one to take pictures.  Thanks again, Josh!
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For somewhat unknown reasons, the aquarium also has a lorikeet exhibit you can walk through.  You can buy a little cup of nectar to feed the birds.  This wasn't any of us, just some random other person feeding this bird.

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Jess finds the jellyfish to be mesmerizing.

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Here's Heather playing in a touch pool:

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Josh meets up with a sea turtle:

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And this is Jess' other favorite thing at aquariums, sea dragons:

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And this is where we part ways.

josh and us at aquarium of the pacific

A Long Overdue Update on Heather

Okay, the last real update on Heather was around Christmas, I think. [shame] Here goes!

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She walks and runs like a pro these days. And dances. And laughs.

As of her 15-month doctor's appointment, Heather did not say one single word. Not even "mama" or "dada." But now, I count 30! For the record, her first word was "eye," said while poking me in the eye. The second was "bubbles." Some are very clear, like those two, but others are a bit trickier to decipher, like "flower" (row-ee) and "cheese" (gee).  And although she's been saying "dad-ee" for a while now, she's just barely starting to say "mama" or, sometimes, "mommy."

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I have an app on my tablet that plays animal sounds, and she loves to imitate them. She's pretty good at it, too! My favorite is her rooster: "ock-oo-oo!" On a semi-related note, she is convinced that giraffes neigh (they look like horses?) and snails hiss ("snail" sounds like "snake"). I can't convince her otherwise because I have no proper sound for those animals to teach her.

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Let's see, what else? I completely weaned her around 13 or 14 months when she started biting and refused to stop. We'd been down to only nursing before bed for a while, but with the biting, it stopped being a soothing part of the routine. So I stopped and she really couldn't have cared less. So we haven't looked back! She's a pretty good eater, too. There's not a lot she won't eat, though she will sometimes decide she doesn't want a certain food for a while. A week or two later, she'll be back to scarfing it down. I would say that her two favorite foods, though, are easily eggs (fried or scrambled) and macaroni & cheese. She'll eat astonishing amounts of either.

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Oh! She now goes to sleep entirely on her own. I don't think I can communicate how much my life improved when I stopped having to get her to sleep. At her 15-month appointment, Heather's sleep had gone completely haywire and I was at my wits' end. Her pediatrician recommended a modified cry-it-out method (with frequent checks) and addressed my concerns about it. I decided to give it a shot, and it worked great! I can now put Heather in her crib and just leave. She puts herself to sleep. It's fantastic! Although, in the last month or so, she's started taking a really long time to fall asleep. Like, over an hour. She doesn't cry--she plays happily in there, and does eventually go to sleep. So I don't know if I should adjust her nap/bedtime, or if she actually needs that time to herself. We'll have to see.

Lousy Pics

You guys. I can't even tell you how freaking adorable Heather is. And I feel horrible that I've done such a rotten job of sharing her charms with the world. Fortunately Kyle has put up a couple of videos in the last several months. All I've got are a few not-very-good pics from my phone.

This is right after Heather discovered her belly button. She has to pull her huge pot belly out of the way to get to it.

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Stacking books. One of her favorite pastimes.
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This child loves to be outside. Here she's helping Kyle rake up leaves.
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On this day, Heather was sick. Or majorly teething? I don't remember. Either way, we were spending some quality time snuggling on the couch.
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I'll do a separate post with more update info.