Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sick and tired

Poor little Olivia spent the weekend sick with a double ear infection and upset stomach. We are all pretty wiped around here, as Olivia hasn't slept well the past week so neither did we. So a quiet, restful weekend was just what the doctor ordered!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

San Antonio

For Labor Day weekend, we took our Dean family vacation to San Antonio. The main draw was the big Sesame Street exhibit there that I thought Olivia would like, but I also thought she would enjoy all the acquatic animals.

To start off the trip, we scheduled a breakfast with the Sesame Street characters. In the weeks before we left, we started talking up the breakfast to get her excited about it. Lately, she has a one-track mind focused on “Dis-a-ney Land.” Her bff Cate is heading there for Christmas and now Olivia is OBSESSED with going too. We’re working on that one, but we had this Sesame Street planned so we really tried to get her pumped up. After a few comments about how she did not want to see Elmo and only wanted to see Elsa, I knew I had to do something to turn the ship. The last thing we wanted was an angry toddler screaming for Elsa at a Sesame Street breakfast that we paid way too much money to attend in the first place! And, knowing my daughter as I do, I knew a sure fire way to get her excited was with a new dress. So….one Abby Caddaby sparkly tutu dress later, I had a very excited little one on my hands.

We headed up on Friday afternoon during naptime. Luckily, we had a morning playdate with Aunt Yazzie that wore her out, so she fell asleep basically as soon as we pulled out of the driveway and slept most of the way there.

We headed to the Riverwalk and enjoyed a delicious dinner at Acenar. If you’re ever looking for a place with good guacamole, we highly recommend this place! Olivia was literally eating it with a spoon!

Once we got back to the hotel and settled in, we enjoyed some smores + a evening swim.

The next morning, we woke up bright and early and headed to Sea World for breakfast with Sesame Street. We ended up sitting right by the door where the characters entered.

As soon as Olivia saw them lining up, she got a HUGE smile on her face and watched them enter with big, bright eyes. (As a side note, this breakfast was pretty awesome. There were only about 6 families there, so each kid got lots of time with the characters. It was pretty organized with meeting/pictures/games. And, the food wasn’t terrible either! I highly recommend it.)

She had a few minutes of timidness, but quickly warmed up and then, couldn’t get enough of her new friends.
Clearly, the biggest thrill was Abby. I had already been reprimanded that morning for forgetting the wings/wand at home (major mommy fail!), but luckily Abby was kind enough to share her wand with Olivia. Olivia was on Cloud 9 and just kept yelling “we’re matching, we’re matching!!”

Zoe is another big favorite of Olivia. She’s got a tutu and jewelry – what’s not to love? She and Olivia practiced their ballet twirls together.

And the rest of the characters were great too! Cookie Monster took Matt’s sunglasses which Olivia thought was hilarious.

And, even Matt embraced his inner kid and got in on the action!

After all the kids got plenty of pictures and greetings with all the characters, it was time to play a few games. First was hide-and-seek where the characters hide. Olivia took the instructions to close your eyes very seriously.

And then ran straight to find Abby.

Then it was the kids turn to hide. In an unprecedented twist, Olivia chose the exact same hiding place that Abby did. And she was thrilled when Abby found her! ;)

Next was a little game of Red Light, Green Light. Not sure Olivia fully understood the rules, but was just thrilled to be holding hands with Abby.

And, much to her dismay, the breakfast was then over and it was time to go.

But, this left us inside the park just as it was opening to the public. We quickly headed over to Dolphin Cove, as I read it gets crowded early. Now, I haven’t been to Sea World since I was a kid, but I don’t remember them just letting all these random people stick their hands in a giant pool with dolphins. You can literally lean over the side of a pool and stick your hands in. I was a little bit unnerved and had a death-grip on Olivia. But Olivia loved it. She kept yelling at the poor dolphins to “Come here!!! I need to pet you!!!” Sadly for her, the dolphins were not responsive to her demands and we quickly got out of there to avoid a melt-down.

Thankfully, we made it in time for the Shamu story and got a good seat. Much to my delight, Olivia was enthralled with the show and squealed with delight when Shamu “popped out” of the water. She loved it so much that we went back again for an encore viewing.

We headed back to Sesame Street land to check out the rides and get our picture taken with the Count.

 "Do you like my pretty dress?"

As you can see, by the time she got on the carousel with Matt, this little one was pooped! By the end of the ride, she had laid her head on Matt’s lap and was moments away from being unsuitable for public consumption.

Luckily, we made it back to the hotel for naptime without any injuries and, after a good long nap, she was ready to go back.  We went to Azul, a new show that combines acrobatics and animals. There were a few belugas and dolphins that interacted with the trainers, but mostly it was diving and swimming by these awesome trainers. Unfortunately, Olivia was not a fan (but, for the record, this was Matt’s favorite show). All she wanted was to see Shamu “pop out” of the water and she was not afraid to loudly voice her disapproval of this show.

So, we then headed back to Sesame Street. We were just in time to catch a show and were lucky enough to sneak in to a front row seat!

Then we let her cool off in the splash pad. As you can see, she didn’t like it at all! ;) (Note: one mushy moment just for the memory book – Matt and I split up a little here so I stayed with the stroller and bag, while he went with Olivia. If they stayed fairly close, I could still see them. At one point, Olivia was sitting on a fountain, water spraying all over here, singing the “Hello song” from music class at the top of her lungs. As I smiled and chuckled, I looked over to see Matt with the biggest grin on his face just watching her too. Melts my heart!)

We dried off, grabbed some dinner and headed home!  That night, Matt and I were lucky enough to get a babysitting recommendation and leave a sleeping Olivia in the hotel room while we went back downtown for a nice dinner. Such a treat!

Sunday, it was same song, second verse. We headed back to the park for a little more fun. We saw Shamu show (again!), tried (unsuccessfully) to pet some more dolphins, and then headed to Sesame Street one last time.

Cotton candy for breakfast while waiting for Shamu...

Unsurprisingly, Sea World has this awesome marketing campaign, so throughout the past few days, we had been constantly rejecting Olivia’s requests to buy her various Shamu-related gear and toys with the promise that she could go to the gift shop before we left and pick out one thing. So, we headed to Elmo’s gift shop and she immediately ran and picked out a Zoe doll. Matt tried in vain to get her to pick a Shamu or other acquatic-animal toy, but she refused.


(Note: Another story for the memory book – this one is not mushy at all, but just plain embarrassing! As soon as Olivia saw the shelf with all the Zoe dolls, she immediately ran over and grabbed one. I expected that. I did not expect what happened next – she then shoved Zoe under her shirt, and said “Oh look, I’m pregnant!” Then…she grunted a few times, pretended to “push” Zoe out, turned her over and patted her bottom, pretended to clean out her mouth, and then pretended to breastfeed her. She then looked at me and Matt and asked “Do you want to hold my baby?” We hastily refused, apologized to the horrified patrons around us saying “sorry, her aunt is an OB,” and rushed to pay and leave the store!)

We ended the trip with one final “meet-and-greet” with the Sesame Street characters. Olivia was the second kid in line and made friends with this sweet little girl in front of her. She was 5 and fancied herself as an old pro.  She told Olivia exactly what was going to happen and what to expect.

Grover was the first character out and he sat down on the stage waiting for the others. I noticed that he was whispering to the Sea World helper guy who was there to make sure none of the kids went too crazy and they kept looking at Matt and I. A few minutes later, the guy comes over and says “Grover says hi and he remembers your daughter from yesterday.” We laughed nervously and waved to Grover. I’m not sure whether it’s good or not that your daughter makes such an impression that the guy in the Sesame Street suit who presumably saw 100 kids yesterday remembers you, but we’re going to pretend it’s a compliment! At the very least, Grover snuggled up to her right away and she was happy.

 She then showed her new Zoe doll to Zoe and left with a huge smile on her face.

After another good nap, we headed out to meet up with my dear friend from law school, Lawrence and his family. Throughout my 3 years at law school, I hung out with the same group of basically 4 guys. They got my through those difficult years and, although I wouldn’t consider the experience a “fun” one, I have such good memories and adore these sweet guys who took the journey with me. We have stayed in touch the past 10 years and now we are all married with kids of our own. Lawrence and Marissa have 3 daughters – ages 6, 4, and 2 and they invited us out to their house for dinner. They have a huge, amazing house that is basically like Olivia’s dream house. Each daughter has their own room straight out of Pottery Barn Kids catalog and they have a huge playroom with every doll, dress-up, kitchen, and princess toy you could want. The girls immediately bonded and I’m pretty sure Olivia was holding at least one of their hands the entire night. We played inside for a bit and then went outside to swim in the pool and grill for dinner. After swimming and eating dinner, the girls then showed Olivia their awesome trampoline and we finished the night with some ice cream and cupcakes. So, as you can imagine, it was no easy task to get Olivia to leave. Both she and Lawrence’s youngest daughter were crying. But, we assured them we would get together again soon.

Last story of the trip – during the visit, Matt and I both had some major house-envy. But, during the drive home, Olivia all of a sudden announced, “We need a new house. With a pool and a trampoline.” Both Matt and I immediately reprimanded her, saying that our house was perfect and she should be happy and grateful that we have such a nice house. Unimpressed by our attempts at teaching gratitude, she knew the way to get me “Well, we have some bugs at our house. Huh, mommy?” I agreed that sometimes we have bugs but that I think that was more a factor of living in Houston and less the house itself. Frustrated, she exclaimed “Well, our house is messy!” She did not appreciate the laughing response that she was the main reason the house is messy. The next day she again tried to persuade us that we need a new house.

We drove home on Labor Day and, thanks to Olivia's early rising, we were back in Houston by 11!

So, despite the fact that my little toddler needs to be taught some lessons in gratitude (I’ve got some plans for this!), we had such a great trip! Olivia really was super well behaved and sweet, which made it even more special to see how happy she was.  Such a good way to end the summer! Now, onto our VERY busy Fall....