Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pre-K or K...?

So Lilly is a summer baby, birthday June 20, 2006. She'll turn 5 this summer (right before I turn 30 and Jon turns 35!) and so we're getting ready for Kindergarten.

Or are we?

We found our great Catholic school in Maryland that she'll start at in August, and in theory she can go into Kindergarten or we can hold her back and do pre-K.

We had to meet the other day with a NY psychologist at a local school to do her IEP for next year, even though we're moving. And I mentioned that we were leaning towards doing another year of pre-K before Kindergarten.

And the psychologist was saying how in her opinion, since so many kids aren't even coming from being in school, and Lilly's doing so well in so many areas, why would we hold her back? Even though Lilly has delays in some areas, in her words Lilly will "catch up" when she starts kindergarten.

I understand what she's saying, but I know Lilly. Trust me, Lilly is brilliant. But it's unfair to Lilly to say that she'll just catch up in certain areas. The beauty of raising her is to let her guide us on what she can do and what she needs help with (or what we need patience with). In so many things, she will catch on just a few months later, she'll take her time, and she'll do it perfectly.

This is not to say that we don't work with Lilly. Oh my goodness. Since she was 2 weeks old she was in therapy. She's had speech, OT and PT since she was born. She did music therapy and music classes. She's done ballet and hip-hop, swimming and gymnastics. She's even done hippotherapy (horse back riding). She's been in day care and preschool since she was 6 months old. She's had tons of play dates and friends, and her parents work with her nonstop on educational activities.

In some ways, we have total faith that Lilly will be the best Lilly she can be. And in some ways, we give her every opportunity to strengthen her skills, encourage her growth in every area.

I do think that Lilly might be perfectly fine in Kindergarten. But no, I don't think she's a kid that will just "catch up" with the entire kindergarten curriculum with no issues. We've worked with her nonstop and she is where she is - bright, fun, smart - but with delays in some areas. Sometimes a person just needs to learn and develop at their own pace, and no amount of intervention can circumvent that.

So we're going to do Pre-K next year, and give Lilly an extra year to fine-tune her skills. She knows her alphabet perfectly, and her shapes pretty well, but she needs more time to work out her colors and her numbers. She's social and is a great classroom kid (she knows and follows the rules, anticipates what's coming next in the schedule) but she can use an extra year to work on her speech and communication.

I'm happy with where she is - and trust me, she's a joy - but there's no reason to rush her. She'll start kindergarten being the oldest instead of the youngest, but she'll have confidence and be off to a great start next year.

You Are What You Eat

One of the things I've tried to accomplish since becoming a stay at home mom is nutrition.

Lilly's favorite foods have always been carbs and fruits - especially bread, crackers, cantaloupe, and pineapple. And I've always made an effort to get her to eat vegetables - she likes carrots (with dip) and peas; and she's happy to eat pasta pizza, chicken nuggets, and cheese.

But in the past few months I've really wanted to get her involved with cooking and trying new foods. And, I've become much more aware of the type of foods we're putting into our bodies.

For example, Lilly loves bagels. But for the past couple months we've been getting the multigrain bagels at Trader Joe's with lots of seeds inside, and only giving Lilly half a bagel for a portion. And for snacks, instead of regular crackers, we've been doing lots of fruit - grapes, cantaloupe, pineapple, clementines (she loves peeling them herself) - and for a special treat she gets a few flax and soy tortilla chips.

Last week, I was making vegetables of yellow squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes. As I was cutting them, I had Lilly sit in the kitchen with her own kid friendly knife (which doesn't really cut but she loves being involved). As she "helped" me, she was really interested in snacking on the vegetables - of course she loves carrots, but she also tried a few pieces of raw squash and didn't hate it.

She also helped to make pizza last week, and instead of pre-grated cheese I used a whole block of mozzerella that I grated myself. She loved trying to grate it too, and took a few bites out of the whole block of cheese, before I gave her a little bowl of cheese to eat. And when I make homemade pizza I mix spinach with the sauce and she gobbles it up.

And while Lilly loves pasta (especially penne), she doesn't usually love ravioli or stuffed pasta. So, last week I bought ravioli stuffed with spinach and tortellini stuffed with arugula. I made peas and a mixture of peppers and onions. And I heated up a marinara sauce and an alfredo sauce. I laid everything out on the dining room table, and Lilly got to create her own pasta. Normally she wouldn't touch ravioli or tortellini but the fact that she got to make her own dish inspired her. She chose the ravioli with red sauce and peppers and onions. She didn't end up touching the peppers and onions, but she did eat a couple raviolis stuffed with spinach and thought they were good, and tried a few of the tortellini that were on my plate. And then she ate the bowl of peas seperately.

Another thing that I do is, before dinner, I'll give Lilly an "appetizer" of vegetables, so we get those out of the way before she gets to see the good stuff. And I let her eat the peas, carrots, broccoli, etc, while sitting on the couch watching tv - even though I know in theory she should be eating at the table, I'd rather her be slightly distracted and eating good nutritious food. Then when the main course is ready she sits at the table with me.

Lilly hasn't really been eating much processed food lately. And the carbs she eats are all whole grain. I gave up sweets for Lent so she's not around candy, chocolate, desserts. We don't deprive her of sweets or fun snacks when we're out - like at a friend's house she can eat goldfish crackers, or if she and Jon run out to the playground she can have ice cream on the way back - but in the house we're so much more aware of what we're all putting in our bodies. She only drinks milk (without hormones) and water (she's never liked juice so we've never pushed it), and a special treat for her is her gummy vitamins (she takes a multivitamin and DHA every day). And she eats a ton of fruit.

What's interesting is that Lilly has been so happy lately - not that she's ever a total nut, but we've noticed that her behavior has been so good. She doesn't have mood swings or tantrums, and she's easy to negotiate with if she doesn't want to do something. She's eating such healthy foods that I think her body is happy and so is her mind, and I do attribute it to not eating processed and sugary foods. Which reminds me - I need to go to the grocery store. :)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Weekend Away

A great weekend spent with good friends from our former life. My old best friend in Charlottesville now lives in Connecticut - but more importantly, her son was Lilly's first boyfriend.

We met when we were both pregnant, and she had her son a few months ahead of Lilly. And when Lilly was born, she and her husband and their little baby showed up at the hospital. Jon and I quietly shared with them that our girl had Down syndrome - and without skipping a beat, my friend looked at me and said "I can't wait for Julian to meet his girlfriend Lilly."

This is what friendships are made from. As much as we were head over heels in love with Lilly from the moment we met our girl, we didn't know how our world would react to our new and slightly different situation. And thank God for friends who stepped up and were excited and didn't treat us any differently. As we set the pace for showing everyone how much we'd love our girl and how proud we were of her, people responded by being excited with us, and we ping-ponged the love back and forth until we were comfortably thrilled with our new world.

Not to mention, Lilly and Julian are still in love, almost 5 years later. It was a successful laid back weekend of kids playing and friends catching up.

And just as exciting, was the fact that the three of us got to ride out to Connecticut in a rental car - which to us city-folk is a big deal. I never thought before this year I'd hear my girl shout "Yay! A carseat!!!" And it was an SUV, which felt wonderful to drive in compared with the typical tiny economy rentals. And I did my routine "I'm out of the city let's stock up on essentials at Target" run - which includes water, some groceries, paper products, and of course a new pair of sandals for Missy Moo.

Picture was taken at the end of an exhausting weekend of playing hard. And Julian now has a younger brother so in theory Lilly can have her pick of boyfriends - but we all know that she'll marry Julian in the end.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

City Mouse

I think the most interesting part of our journey in each city we live in is that Lilly gets assimilated into each different way of life. She adopts a "When in Rome" attitude. It proves her strong adaptability.

In New York City, we live in a high-rise 36 story apartment building. And while it still is strange to me, Lilly is not phased. Each morning we get ready in our small 2 bedroom (they actually call it a junior one bedroom apartment because it's only one bathroom; Lilly's room is actually a converted den or dining room). She eats her NY bagel while she gets dressed (compared with New Zealand when she ate a scone every day). And as we walk out the door, she makes sure we each have a hat and a purse, of course.

We walk down the long hall to the elevator and Lilly always manages to step on our neighbor's newspaper - on purpose. She pushes the down button, and when she's being cheeky she pushes "up" as well, although she knows where we're headed. When we get inside the elevator, she pushes "L" for "Lilly" (and lobby). It's amazing that I don't even have to think to tell her what to do anymore; she knows exactly what the routine is.

When we get downstairs, she puts her arm out to block the elevator door from closing too fast - just like the adults usually do - and holds it there until everyone gets off and on - then Lilly gets off. She looks at herself in the mirror opposite the elevators, and makes sure she's pretty enough and might even give the mirror a few cream cheese kisses.

Lilly walks into the lobby like she owns the place. She says hi to her doormen - sometimes in English, and sometimes she says "hola" and "adios" instead. When we sit in the lobby to wait for the bus, she greets all the business people walking buy: "hi morning!" We look out the door and wait for her school bus, and sometimes the public bus comes by - usually with a big "Mary Poppins" advertisement on the side of it - and Lilly gets excited about that. She talks about "Broadway" and Mary Poppins, Mamma Mia, and Lion King. She tells me she wants to go back to see Mamma Mia with mommy and daddy, but that she only wants to see Lion King with daddy.

Some days I pick her up from school, like on Wednesdays (soccer) and Fridays (dance class). When we leave school, Lilly always tries to hail a cab by sticking out her hand and yelling "taxi!" Even though most Wednesdays we walk home across Central Park, and Fridays we take the subway downtown. When we do walk across the park, Lilly knows it's Central Park. She loves seeing the horses pulling the carriages, the bikes, the runners. She's satisfied when I tell her it's too cold to play on the playground, but can't wait for warmer weather.

Her daddy usually takes her to the park on the weekend. Central Park is just 4 avenues away - a 5 minute walk - but usually we go the other direction where she likes the playground better. It's still so odd to me to see a great playground surrounded by tall buildings and traffic, but it's normal to Lilly. With daddy, she usually gets an ice cream or a cookie at some point in their adventure.

Another "When in Rome" thing is the pizza. If you ask Lilly what she wants to eat for dinner, she'll most likely say "pizza." Which is interesting since last year in Charlottesville she didn't like pizza. But I guess NY pizza has converted her. We don't actually eat pizza every night although Lilly would prefer it; and the one or two nights a week we do have pizza we usually make it homemade. I sneak veggies by mixing spinach with the sauce. I can't wait for the three of us to try "real" pizza in Naples this summer!

New York City isn't an easy place to live for a year, but we'll definitely miss these things when we leave in 3 months. I think what I'll miss the most will be the convenience of being able to go down an elevator and walk outside and have bagels, pizza, coffee, and anything else you'd want a second away - definitely a big convenience factor there, although so many other things are very much not convenient. But what Lilly will miss is definitely the Broadway shows - she so appreciates big productions and great performances.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Happy World Down Syndrome Day...

Happy World Down Syndrome Day. 5 years ago I didn't know how much I would mean that. Happy. So happy that my beautiful daughter has Down syndrome and has made our world a brighter lovelier place.

I would not change her for anything. I would not take away the Down syndrome. I do not regret a minute of our journey. Lilly has made us the happiest most proud parents and it is an honour to be blessed with the ability to raise her every day - to teach her and to love her and to have her make me laugh every day.

I think one of the most rewarding things about being a parent is to learn from your child as much as you teach her. And certainly most days are filled with both learning and teaching by us both.

Down syndrome is not sad, it is not negative. It is not the focus of our lives, either. Lilly is a normal fun-loving beautiful child, and she has Down syndrome. It is part of her, part of our family, but we are more concerned about getting the right size jazz shoes for her hip hop class than to dwell on what Down syndrome is or isn't. I'm much more concerned that she has the proper adorable wardrobe for Barcelona and Rome this summer, and making sure she has the best Sunday spent with her mommy and daddy, and that she learns how to make the perfect loaf of Irish Soda Bread on St Patrick's Day.

To a new parent beginning this journey, to an expectant mom wondering what this might mean in her family, and to all the people who aren't personally blessed with such an amazing gift such as we have: life is beautiful. Lilly is amazing. We are blessed. We've had such an incredible journey and I look forward to such a bright future ahead.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I lied.

There are three things, three constants, in my life that make each move, each transient year, each new school, new job, new life, more enjoyable. Last week I talked about church and my soaps.

My sister told me during my first year of college, when I was homesick and having a hard time adjusting, that each day you need to have something happy to look forward to.

11 years later, I've realized throughout every easy or hard time in my life, through the moves to Athens and Macon GA, Charlottesville VA, Auckland NZ, and now New York City, I've loved falling in love with the characters in books. With their stories, their happiness, the angst. Whether I want them to entertain me, make me fall in love with them, learn from them, discover history, books are so important in my life.

When Lilly was born and she had Down syndrome and we knew next to nothing about what that meant, I told my mom: go to Barnes and Noble and buy me every single book they have with the words "Down syndrome" in the description. And in the days following her birth, I bonded with my girl, reading these books, learning what to expect, and reading out loud to her from children's books as well to share my passion. (During those first few weeks I also read out loud to her from Soap Opera Digest, I swear. Why she didn't develop my love for soaps, is a sad mystery I hope to someday cure.)

I remember the first book I read all by myself: Go Dog Go. I still love it!

When we moved to Atlanta, I read Gone with the Wind for the first time. It changed my life, as I fell in love with the characters and the South.

In high school, I transferred to a new school Junior year and had a hard time adjusting; I subsequently read every Danielle Steel novel that year.

And in New Zealand, I read every book I could find, settling on the odd genre of American Civil War history. As the NZ libraries understandably had quite little in this subject, I ordered books from the US to satisfy my curiosity about what Abraham Lincoln was really like, and what happened during the last few months of the Civil War.

But this love of reading has a downside. I am the fastest reader ever; which means that once I open a book, I can't put it down.

I procrastinate everything. I read while eating, while watching TV, while taking a bath, while cooking, while hanging out with Lilly. I can finish a Danielle Steel book in under 24 hours. John Grisham takes about 48.

Once I start reading, I just don't want to stop. I just need to find out what happens next, and next, and next, until I finish the story. And so the house, and our lives, get put on hold.

So I try not to read. If it takes me a day or two to read a book, I'll only read one a month; otherwise nothing would get done.

Yesterday I bought the book "London" by Edward Rutherford. I had read his book "New York" a couple months ago and completely fell in love with this historical novel. It took me about 2 days to read and even then it was pushing it. I don't think I ate or slept.

So, armed with a new book that I'm dying to devour, I'm trying to regulate before it gets out of hand. Yesterday, I read chapter one. And today I read chapter two. Maybe if I can savour each word, each story, each character, I can take exception to my excessive compulsive reading and actually have a life in addition to becoming immersed in the character's lives.

Which is why I'm blogging at midnight. I just so want to open up chapter 3 and find out what happens next so instead I'm distracting myself...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Phone + coffee = happiness

There are about a million reasons why I love my little girl. But today let's add a couple more to the list.

Every night, Jon manages to find my phone (which is not always easy!) and plug it in to charge it. And every morning he sets up the coffee machine so all I have to do is turn it on. On his days off, he actually makes my cup for me with cream and sweet n low and delivers it to me. These things mean a lot.

Well, Lilly's been taking notes, apparently. Lately if my phone beeps (because of a text) or if it rings, she finds it, picks it up, and brings it to me. "Phone, mommy." What a good little girl.

And today, I was looking for my cup of coffee. Where did I set it down? "Where's my coffee" I said out loud to myself. Lilly promptly answered - "right there!" - it was on a little table, she must have seen me put it down a few minutes before and was happy to help me out. Ten minutes later, as we were getting our jackets on for school, she stopped and walked over to the table and picked up my coffee cup and handed it to me, so I could have one more sip before we go downstairs (which perhaps I usually do? I haven't really paid attention but I guess Lilly does).

My little girl and my husband have discovered that mommy is a happier person when her phone is being taken care of and her morning coffee is always within reach.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day!

Lilly in our lobby - she loves posing near signs. :)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How much is Lilly worth?

About 25 cents less than we thought yesterday, apparently.

My girl loves money. Two days ago she got her High School Musical purse and pulled out a $20 and a $1 bill - no idea where she got that money from! She loves our wallets, she loves credit cards, she loves coins, and she loves paper bills.

Last week she was playing with some coins, sorting them, and after a couple minutes she came over to me and said that she "ate money." She explained that she swallowed a quarter. Now, she's 4, and I'm not sure if she actually swallowed it, or if she just put it in her mouth, or what actually happened - I didn't hear her choke or cough or anything. But she said clearly that she ate money, and she had money (and typically she doesn't put non-food things into her mouth to the point of swallowing them), so we weren't sure what actually happened. Let's just say, I've known Lilly for 4 1/2 years, and nothing she could do would surprise me. :)

So, I worried but Jon talked to some of the doctors and nurses at work and they all said not to worry: if she did swallow a coin, it most likely would come out, and she wasn't having any signs of it bothering her or being stuck.

But for the past week, it hadn't "come out" - which led me to either think that a coin wasn't swallowed in the first place, or that it was stuck or still in there somewhere. A couple days ago Lilly said a few times that her belly felt sick, so I got a little more concerned. (Although, I think this was after being around another child who said she was sick and then threw up. Besides Lilly saying she felt sick, she had no symptoms of being sick.)

We went for an x-ray of Lilly's belly yesterday. She was nervous - "no pictures!" she said in the waiting room. But of course the x-ray tech taking the picture made her feel at ease, and she happily lay on the table and gave a big grin as he took the x-ray. Of course, due to liability he couldn't say whether or not he saw anything.

But we just got back the results: no quarter in her belly. Thank goodness, another worry to cross of our list. I'm not sure if there was a quarter in there that actually came out at some point in the past week, or if she didn't swallow one to begin with. Either way, Lilly's worth 25 cents less today than we thought she was worth yesterday. :)

Monday, March 14, 2011

Team Umizoomi

The only tv show Lilly watches that is educational is Sesame Street, and sometimes Signing Time. Otherwise, she's into musicals and Disney-esque drama, which is fine by me - but there's only so much Jonas Brothers and Annie and Aladdin that we can watch.

Recently Lilly turned on the tv (she knows every function of a remote control, of course) and found a show called Team Umizoomi. She's never watched random regular tv shows before, usually it's me putting something on that she's requested - but this day we sat down together and watched a show she's never seen before. She's never been into animated tv, but this peaked her interest (there's a birthday cake in the opening scene which I think made her want to watch!). And I think we've found our new favorite show.

It's a show about helping someone accomplish something, with educational steps along the way. Shapes, numbers, problem solving - all areas that we're working on. And for some reason it's capitvated her attention and when they ask a question, she loves the long pause and shouts out her answer. I sit right next to her when we watch it, and if she needs help with a question, I pause it and we talk about how to figure it out.

Some examples of recent show topics were how the subway works (and what to do if it's stuck!) and the steps it takes to get an airplane ready for takeoff - certainly interesting to Miss Lilly, and throughout the show there are great questions and learning opportunities about skills so appropriate for Lilly. So I'm really liking our new favorite show - mostly because of the way it challenges Lilly's brain and teaches her really important skills (instead of how to do new choreography like her favorite movies - although those will still be in rotation).

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Soap Stars, Broadway, and Charity - what could be better?

Every once in awhile we do something non-Lilly-centric.

Since I was 10 years old I've watched ABC daytime soaps, thanks to having an older sister who came home from college every summer and convinced me to fall in love with the characters and the outrageous plotlines. My first soap moment was when Tad came back from being dead, and then he was with Dixie... and Brooke... and couldn't make up his mind. And time went on and the Todd Manning/Marty Saybrook storyline was crazy but somehow had me hooked. Bo and Nora were like the aunt and uncle I always wanted, and I totally wanted to be friends with Bianca. I remember the day Starr was born, and was pregnant at the same time as Babe. I've even yelled at my screen when Tess took over Jess, and those painful moments when they added on Bess.

It's odd because the two constants I've had in my life - through changing schools, moving cities, new life experiences - are God and my soaps. I always find a new church when I move to a new city and I always start watching my "shows" to feel like I haven't really moved that far, I'm still near the people I love in Pine Valley and Llanview.

So when we got the chance to get tickets to the ABC Daytime Broadway Cares event, I jumped on it. (Of course, being that we're on a strict budget, I accounted for it and got the cheapest seats.) But I was thrilled to go to a night out with my humoring husband and watch the soap stars that I've grown up with and who still entertain me on a daily basis perform Broadway hits for a charitable cause. Sounds like a nice night out to me!

And they sure did deliver. Bobbie Eakes and Walt Willey (Krystal and Jackson on AMC) hosted and did an incredible job - funny, talented, entertaining. A huge part of the OLTL cast was there, and Hillary B Smith, Bree Williamson, Kassie DePaiva, Melissa Archer, Kristen Alderson, and Brittany Underwood (Nora, Jessica, Blair, Natalie, Starr, and Langston) did an insanely good version of "Cellblock Tango" from Chicago (in character, which made it even better). I was impressed by the talent of so many of the performers (too many names to drop here) but each of the 25 or so actors that participated were all so talented, it was so much fun to watch. It will make watching the soaps even more interesting, after feeling like I've gotten to know an additional side to these people. And they genuinely seemed to all love each other and be a happy group, which warms my heart (and is unexpected considering how many times they've all killed and cheated on each other - on the shows of course).

And the big suprise at the end was La Lucci herself - Susan Lucci (Erica Kane on AMC) - surprising everyone in the audience and the cast by flying in from the West Coast. As this is the last time in a 7 year run that they're doing this event, who knows if I'd ever get another chance to see all my favorite people in the same place. Unless I move to Pine Vally, of course.

For a Soap fan, it was a great night. And for a husband, it was a good night of great music and the chance to pay it back to the wife who's tolerated a few sporting events now and again.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Last Day of Disney (February 2011)

Monday morning we woke up at 7am, and took a bus over to Polynesian for breakfast at Ohana. (using our meal plan credits) We had an 8 am reservation (originally thinking we’d hit Magic Kingdom right after, but changed our plan based on having a great night the night before; we had checked everything off our list, which mostly included seeing Princess Tiana). But, we kept the reservation out of lack of other options. There is a “breakfast” bus that takes the early reservation people where they need to go. We thought we’d have to go to Magic Kingdom and then take the monorail to Polynesian but instead they dropped us off (after stopping at MK and Wilderness Lodge first). We checked in, and were seated a few minutes later. Mickey Mouse, Pluto (who Lilly – and I – sometimes call Goofy), and Lilo and Stitch are there. Lilly has no idea who Lilo and Stitch are, but she was happy to take pictures when them anyways.

The breakfast itself was delicious though. Disney has the best scrambled eggs (or maybe just the Polynesian – because Kona café has them too). Coffee was good, special juice, breakfast potatoes, Mickey waffles, etc. A huge plate of fruit was served to us first and Lilly took it ALL in front of her and wouldn’t share. That’s my girl. There was an incident at breakfast that resulted in them giving us an extra dining credit back, so we were going to use it later that day somehow.

We left the Polynesian, took the monorail to Magic Kingdom, and took a bus to All Star. Lilly and Jon went to the pool while I packed (second day in a row of packing everything!). The nice thing about staying on property is that we could check in for the airline at the hotel, including our luggage/checked bags. So we had our plane tickets in hand at like 11 am that morning.

Next stop: Hollywood Studios. Which turned into arguably Lilly’s best day ever, in terms of quality fun experiences back-to-back. We got off the bus right before noon and bolted down to American Idol to catch the noon show. Lilly kind of likes American Idol – she doesn’t watch regularly this season (she’s watched in the past) but she’s seen a few minutes here and there – but she generally knows what American Idol is, she knows what the sign looks like, etc. She was thrilled to be there. Even though we were there right as they were shutting the doors, we magically got put in the second row. Lilly could see perfectly.

Lilly LOVED the American Idol Experience. Not overstating it, she loved it. I’m not sure if there was another person in the room that loved it as much as she did. She was so enthusiastic – clapping, laughing, excited. The loved each of the three contestants. She shouted out things, which sounded like heckling. She danced when appropriate, standing up and doing funny moves. And at different points in the show, she made eye contact with each of the judges as they waved at her, danced along with her, smiled at her. Wow, it was a moment to watch.

But it was over and we had places to be! We ran through the park to the Disney Channel Rocks show (formerly a High School Musical show, but now incorporates Camp Rock and some other shows). Lilly saw it a mile away and jumped out of her stroller literally landing on her feet running towards the stage. She snuck her way front and center in the audience, and danced hard, like a little girl should. She sang along, knowing all the words to the songs they sang. And when it was audience participation time, Lilly was picked with a few other girls (much older) to dance with the dancers. My girl was not shy, not nervous, not scared to be up in front of a huge crowd of people. She danced her heart out, and mommy loved watching her little girl shine. She was in her element.

By this time it was HOT but we were having such a good day! We decided to sneak into the cool air-conditioned theater of the Little Mermaid – another classic “good reaction out of Lilly” show. She loved it, of course.

And then we went to Beauty and the Beast, which is more of a Broadway style musical performance. And Lilly (again) loved it. (When I say she loved it – I don’t say that lightly. She was enthralled with each of these things this day.)

But something bad happened as the show was starting. Both Jon and I got emails and voicemails that our flight was delayed 3 hours!! So instead of leaving at 7, it was now leaving at 10:30, and not getting into NYC until 1 am! I mean, I’m all for postponing the end of a vacation, but this was ridiculous. Our Magical Express pick up was scheduled for 4 pm, so we’d be at the airport 5 hours early, which was crazy. So while Lilly had the time of her life watching Beauty and the Beast, Jon and I were stressed. Also, around this time Jon lost the plane tickets (since we had already checked in) and Magical Express tickets, etc – but we found them 10 minutes later. Apparently, Lilly has become a pick pocket.

We called the airline and tried to get any other flight that day; they were all booked. We tried to get a later Magical Express pick up; they wouldn’t switch us. So, we made the best of a bad situation. We scheduled a taxi to pick us up at 7pm. And we got dinner reservations at Cat Cora’s restaurant at the Boardwalk.

While we figured all this out, Lilly watched the 3 o clock parade, and loved it. Usually we’re not in a park during “nap time” but we had no hotel room to go in anymore so there was no nap this day. Under the original plan Lilly would fall asleep for an early bedtime on the plane at 7pm. Now, we’d keep her up even longer! Or maybe she’d fall asleep while we walked around…

So my plan was that we’d walk from Hollywood Studios to the Boardwalk and maybe Lilly would fall asleep. After all, she did go to bed late the night before, and wake up early this morning. But I’m a naïve mamma. Lilly was going strong.

Did I mention it was hot? I was feeling winded. Lilly was exhausted though she wouldn’t admit it. We had an hour before dinner, so we did the only thing that made sense (for the Sherman family, apparently): we went in one of those double bike things with Lilly sitting in the basket part. And we rode it around the Boardwalk, past the Yacht and Beach club, Swan and Dolphin, and back to where we started. Lilly was ringing the bell, waving at people: “Hi everybody! Hi everybody!”

But when we got off, she was restless. Tired, hungry, hot, thirsty. We had water bottles but apparently Lilly is the Princess and the Water: it was “warm” and she wanted “cold.” She was so upset that our water wasn’t cold (especially after seeing cold water in a store and trying to take it!). We still had 10 minutes before the restaurant opened, and so Lilly and I went to the pizzeria and got a big cup of ice water – Lilly was thrilled and it made her feel so much better.

She was still a little restless during dinner, but inhaled the bread and pita. Dinner was delicious. Half of it was free due to our extra dining credit. Jon and I were happy with a glass of Sangria each. His meal came with a delicious dessert. It felt like the calm before the storm of going through the airport, getting to our delayed flight, getting to NY at 1 am, finding a ride home…

After dinner Lilly went to the potty and we jumped in a cab headed towards All Star, where we needed to pick up our two carry-on bags. The plan was for the cab to bring us on to the airport after, but when we got to All Start there was a Magical Express bus sitting there. Jon asked the driver if we could get on with our earlier passes, and he said yes – so it saved us $50 to have the free transportation.

When we got on the bus Lilly went to sleep. And she was o-u-t! We got to the airport and she didn’t wake up getting in her stroller. We walked through the airport, went into stores, she didn’t budge. It was 9 by the time we decided to go through security and wake her up. I was also nervous because she wears a pull-up at night when she sleeps and we didn’t bring one (they were in our checked luggage, because we thought we’d get in much earlier). But Lilly didn’t have an accident at all that night, which was helpful.

Finally we got on our flight and we were all so exhausted that we all fell asleep, even though I rarely sleep on a plane. But it had been a long day and a long trip! We finally landed at 1 am and got our luggage and called for the car we had reserved to pick us up, and after 10 minutes realized he wasn’t available. But luckily there was no line for taxi’s (it’s such a crapshoot that we’ve learned to reserve a car anyways; sometimes the taxi line is an hour long) and we were at our apartment by 1:30.

And yes, I made Lilly go to school the next morning. I’m such a bad mom. :)

A Revelation at Trader Joe's

It hit me this morning, as I was checking out at Trader Joe's. A big shopping cart full of good deals led to 15 minutes of the employee scanning everything. As she took her time and carefully packed up my bags (it is NYC after all; I had to carry all these groceries home somehow), I started sharing my life story. Telling her how my four year old is going to make Irish Soda Bread with that flour. How we're only in NY for a year. How it's our fourth move in as many years. How I stopped working a few months ago, how I love doing cooking projects with my daughter, how I love the much cheaper prices at Trader Joe's compared with the high priced city supermarkets.

She was so nice listening to all this, but she must have thought I was a little too open. Or a little needy, a little desperate. Or maybe that I just needed a friend to talk to.

I wouldn't trade my life for anything. Lilly is the best girl I could ever ask for. Jon is a great husband and partner. I have good friends in places we've left behind, and great family that is so good to me and my girl.

But I don't have a friend in the city. It's been 9 months since we moved here, and I don't have a single local friend to chat with. The couple girls nights I've had have included friends coming in the city to visit from other places. Jon has some friends, but no one with a nice counterpart who wants to meet a new friend.

It's difficult, this "moving somewhere for a year" thing. Without having local employment, without having a network of people, it gets a little lonely.

And so I share a little too much with the check out lady at Trader Joe's. I talk to other moms - at Lilly's dance class, and moms I pass by in our building - trying to find common ground, but realize while they're nice to chat with, their lives are much busier than mine and they're not really looking to meet new people, especially when I'm leaving as quick as I came. At Lilly's school, at her speech therapy, at the playground - there are tons of women but they're all nannies paid to raise these children - not really looking to meet friends either. And in Manhattan, many of the women my age that I pass on the streets are much busier trying to build a career and find a husband than find someone new to hang out with.

I'm not exactly lonely - this has been my best most fulfilling year with Lilly and Jon. But there is that absence of being able to call someone up to meet me for coffee or a walk through the sales racks at Ann Taylor Loft that makes me feel a little isolated, at least in the girlfriends department.

But it's fine. 3 more months to go, and we start over again. And I'm excited about what the future holds for us.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sunday: Daddy/Daughter Day at Animal Kingdom; and a Magical Night at Magic Kingdom

First, a couple random pictures because I can't get them in order:

Now onto the beginning of Sunday: We sadly said goodbye to my parents and Cassidy and our beautiful room at the Animal Kingdom. And as I took care of packing and getting checked into our next hotel, Jon took Princess Lilly over to Animal Kingdom for a fun morning! (Can I just say, Jon and Lilly have fantastic adventures together. Jon is such a great dad, and loves to spend one on one time with Lilly; and she adores spending special time with her daddy.) The following was written by Jon about their morning:

As Cathleen prepared for our move to the All Star, Lilly and I took
advantage of the morning and went to the Animal Kingdom. We jumped right on the
bus and hit the park with what it seemed like a few others that morning. From
the start, Lilly was very agreeable and excited to get the day going. Our first
stop was FastPass for Kilimanjaro Safari. Lilly sat patiently in the stroller
has we walked at a brisk pace. We then walked right across the park over to
TriceroTops, Lilly’s favorite ride. She lit up when she saw the ride coming into
view and we walked right on. As the ride started going, her expression was like
a kid opening presents on Christmas morning. When the ride was over, she jumped
right into my arms and we were off.

We walked right over to Festival of the Lion King. In typical Disney
fashion, we saw both Pocahantas and 2 Bunny Rabbit friends while we waited to be
let into the show. Lilly didn’t even have to wait. The characters appeared what
seemed out of nowhere, Lilly walked right up to them with a big grin and posed
for pictures. We then walked into the show and sat right on the floor level of
the elephant section. Lilly and I practiced our best elephant impersonations as
the show started. She loved every minute of it. After the show we walked over to
Kilimanjaro Safari with our FastPass and jumped right on. In the past, Lilly had
really no interest in seeing the animals even to the point of falling asleep.
However, today was a different story as she asked about the animals and kept a
keen eye out for the next group of them.

After the ride we had an important potty break and Lilly was once again as
agreeable as ever. I then purchased a bagel for her and we walked over to
Finding Nemo the Musical. We managed to get great seats on the first row of the
second level. Lilly loved seeing all of the character run through the walkway
right in front of us. She also liked that I snuck in the bagel and let her snack
on it during the show. After the show, Lilly gave a standing ovation and we
left. Once again we took a potty break and Lilly was as easy as ever. We then
headed out of the park. All in all a very magical and very productive 3 hours in
the park.

While Jon and Lilly were having a great time at Animal Kingdom, I packed our bags at Animal Kingdom Lodge, had the luggage transported to All Star Movies, stopped at the other lobby to pick up our photo cd, took two buses to All Star, and stood in an hour long line to check in.

Luckily our room was ready though, even though it was just 1 pm. Jon dropped off Lilly, and headed over to the Wide World of Sports to watch the Braves play the Mets (the Braves have their Spring Training camp at Disney World and Jon was lucky enough to watch their first game!). Meanwhile, Lilly took a nap and I read a book. I wanted her to be totally rested for our evening…
Around 4 Jon got back from his event and Lilly and I were waiting for him. We got on a bus headed towards Magic Kingdom, and when we entered the park, the flag retreat ceremony was happening – we stopped and Lilly loved the patriotic music. Then we walked straight towards the castle for our big event… dinner in Cinderella’s Castle!

We did a deluxe meal plan for that one night because it saved money if we were eating at Cinderella’s Castle and one additional meal (and we had saved money staying at All Star), so there’s the justification. Plus, this is our last trip to Disney World in the forseeable future – we have our big Mediterranean cruise this summer and I don’t anticipate much traveling after that with Jon starting work, Lilly starting school, etc. And our annual passes run out in a couple months. So (justifying again) this might be Lilly’s last time eating in Cinderella’s Castle as a “little girl.” Justifying complete.

Even as an adult, there is something magical about eating at Cinderella’s Castle. First of all, the castle is so pretty. And, it’s so hard to get a reservation (mine was an elusive 5:30 dinner reservation that magically popped up a month prior to the trip – how could we not take advantage of that?) so eating there feels even more special. We checked in, and they were immediately ready for us. We stood in line to see Cinderella and take a picture. Lilly was so excited. “Princess!” “Cinderella!” She loves her. She’s so shy with the princesses face to face – although when other families are taking pictures she’s happy to shout “Hi Cinderella!” But even being shy, Lilly knows what the real deal is: she eagerly stands and poses and knows she’s getting her picture taken so that we can remember this moment.

After the picture, our name was immediately called to eat upstairs. We had a table in the center of the room, and our enthusiastic waitress brought me diet coke (me) and water (Jon) and we ended up having 3 refills of each! Plus two refills of bread; can’t help it. We ordered our appetizers, entrees and desserts, and the service was so efficient – perfect timing on everything. As we finished our main course, the princesses started getting announced: Snow White, Aurora, Belle, and Jasmine.

Jasmine is less frequent at the princess meals so we were happy to see her – it was the only time we saw her all trip. And by the way, since we got back Lilly has started really loved Aladdin. The funniest story: tonite Lilly wanted to watch Aladdin after her bath. (She usually watches about 10 minutes of a show while I get her pj’s on.) And she’s sitting in the bathtub, we’re just chatting, and I say to her: “Do you want to watch Aladdin on tv, or a special Broadway Aladdin on the computer?” (There’s an Aladdin production at Disneyland in CA that Lilly was once when she was 23 months on the way to New Zealand and even that young she LOVED it – until she fell asleep! But we totally forgot about it, until we were talking about Aladdin tonite.) Anyways, Lilly’s face lit up and she said: “Aladdin? Broadway show? Yay!!!!” I love that my 4 year old daughter knows what I mean when I say the word Broadway – that it will be a huge production musical version of whatever show she likes. Her New York year has definitely made an impression. And after she got out of the bath, she watched 2 songs from the Disneyland musical performance of Aladdin and was HOOKED. I think we’ll be watching a little more in the future, she loved it so much.

Anyways, back to Cinderella’s Castle. The princesses were gracious as always. Lilly was so excited to look around the room and watch them greeting all the other tables and was so excited when it was her turn with each one.

After dinner, we hit the potty and then walked over to see Lilly’s speech therapist from when she was a year old, who just happened to be at WDW that weekend running the Princess Half Marathon. Lilly hadn’t seen her in years! We watched a parade with her family and caught up.

Then we went to the Aladdin Magic Carpet ride, which is like Dumbo, and Lilly had a blast.

Afterwards we were walking for a minute to figure out what to do next and all of a sudden, Tiana and Prince Naveen showed up and Lilly got to be the first person to take pictures with them! It was like one of those magical moments – I had given up on seeing them this trip (they’re hard to find) and they’re not even usually in Adventureland. So it was a very lucky moment for Miss Lilly. I’ve said before that I love all the characters’ interactions with Lilly, especially the princesses. But Naveen and Tiana from Princess and the Frog are probably my favorite. Both this trip and last trip, they paid so much attention to Lilly. They were funny, personable, just great experiences. So even though they’re hard to find, I highly recommend them. That moment probably made our night.

Then we went to Peter Pan to use fastpasses, but Lilly didn’t want to go on it. So, we went on the Tomorrowland and went on the Transit Authority. It’s such a nice relaxing ride around Tomorrowland; and there are a couple times when it speeds up and goes in the dark that make a 4 year old happy. Then we saw the Carousel of Progress. It’s probably been a year or more since we saw it last; Lilly didn’t really have a good reaction (or bad) the last time – just neutral – so we didn’t really make it a priority. But this time Lilly actually liked it (not loved it) and laughed and paid attention and sang the song and pointed out the dog in each scene, etc. So it was good.

Then, we called it a night. It was after 10pm at this point, and we had to get up early the next day. We were home just before 11pm, and Lilly went straight to sleep.

Saturday: Epcot, Downtown Disney

Saturday morning we had our photography session at 9 am, which I wrote about a few posts back. The downside is it “wasted” a morning to get to the parks early and take advantage of “no lines” but in actuality we planned this as an Epcot day and really it’s hard to justify getting there early when the girls aren’t interested in riding anything with long lines at that park.

We ended up going over to Epcot at 11 am, and then realized that we left a ticket in the room. My dad went back to get it, while the rest of us “killed time” but riding the monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center… then walked to the Polynesian… then took a boat to Magic Kingdom… then took a monorail to the Ticket and Transportation Center… then transferred to another monorail to Epcot. It took awhile but the girls had fun on all the different types of transportation. And I got to see the Polynesian, which I love.

We finally were walking around Epcot around 12:30 maybe? Jon took off to get fastpasses for he and I for Soarin and Test Track. The rest of us went to the Seas to ride Nemo and see Crush. As we were about to get on Nemo, Lilly said “potty!” and I was nervous from the day before. But luckily a cast member directed us towards really close bathrooms and told us how to get back and skip the line. (There wasn’t a “line” anyways, it was basically walk-on, but if you’ve ever seen the queue at Nemo, you have to walk like a mile to get through to the front!) We got back to the front with no problems and Lilly happily sat in her clamshell. Then we all went to see Crush, which Lilly likes – she basically likes any “show.” And she’s funny because you don’t think she’s paying close attention and then she answers a question or laughs or says something and you know she absorbs everything. Someone asked Crush what his favorite color was, and the rest of the show (and the day!) Lilly was asking all of us what our favorite colors are. And every time the audience laughed, Lilly cracked up.

When we were done with Crush, we started walking to the countries, it was 1:30ish. We stopped in Mexico to ride the Donald Duck boat ride, another favorite of the girls. Then… our favorite part – lunch with the princesses in Norway! I have to say that my parents are such good sports about humoring the girls (and us) with all the character and princess stuff. But when you see how excited the girls get with them, the expressions on their faces, the way it makes them feel so special, it’s worth it. Plus, the food is good. 

Norway didn’t disappoint. Belle was the princess at the front who greeted us, the appetizer buffet was good, we saw Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Ariel, and then our main courses were good as well. Another parade around the room, and Lilly got to hold Snow White’s hand the whole time.

Afterwards, it was almost 4 pm and the girls hadn’t napped! Which is normal for Lilly on a regular day but Disney is exhausting! My parents brought them back to the hotel while Jon and I did our fastpass rides. Also, we got to ride Segways in Innovention, which was a cool experience – it was easier than I expected but I would be scared to ride one in “real life.”

When we talked to my parents a couple hours later we found out Lilly took a short mini-nap on the way home, which meant she didn’t nap in the room when they got there. She laid down for awhile but never fell asleep. When my mom and Cassidy woke up, they headed over to Downtown Disney and we met them there. For us, it was tricky – Epcot doesn’t have direct buses in Downtown Disney. We had to go to another resort first then transfer. We should have gone out the back entrance of Epcot and taken a bus from the Boardwalk, but didn’t think of it until we were at the front, so we took a bus to Old Key West and then another bus.

After an hour on buses I was tired and thought Downtown Disney would be kind of boring for the girls but when we met up with them they were in the middle of a dance party! Lilly loves a good dance party, as we all know. There was a great DJ playing all the best dance music, and he taught all the kids (and some adults) all the right moves. I’m pretty impressed watching back the video of Lilly vogue-ing. Lilly has such a keen eye on watching moves and copying and anticipating what’s coming next. The girls even loved watching a dance competition, and clapped for the contestants they liked, and Lilly shouted out encouragements to the dancers. Both girls had a good time, and it was late when we headed back to the hotel. The dance party was definitely one of my favorite moments of our Disney trip – and those surprise moments of “I didn’t realize this would be magical” are even better than the planned ones.

The night ended with everyone packing up. Lilly, Jon and I were headed over to All Start Movies the next morning. While my parents would drive to Savannah to drop off Cassidy and then go back to Atlanta. It was sad knowing that our trip was nearing it’s end.

My beautiful daughter with bread in her mouth...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Pride, Accomplishments, Reading, and Healing

I've totally felt this way. The way Beverly feels when Landon does something new and amazing. In our house we use words like "accomplishment" and "proud" and "amazing" more than a lot. And I'm so impressed when Lilly knows that she's done a new and totally cool thing as well. That she knows to be proud of herself, when she does something new that it's a big deal and that mommy will clap and laugh and cry, just a little. I wonder if other parents feel the way I feel - over the moon excited and completely in love - over accomplishing an every day small task? Or do they take it for granted?
I don't know, but nothing gets taken for granted around here.

Lilly loves her aunt Jenny. We spent time with my sister Jenn and niece Cassidy in Savannah a couple weeks ago when we were doing our tour of the south for Lilly's February break. And each night before Cassidy goes to bed, Jenn reads her a story, and Lilly got to sit in on their routine. They sit in Jenn's bed, and Jenn (a fantastic teacher) reads them a story the way a teacher would - asking questions, pointing to things, etc.

I have to admit, in our lives we've been lazy about books. Lilly is constantly reading on her own, but she doesn't like us to read to her anymore - she already knows what she wants the story to be, and she reads the books to us in her way. She does it a lot - we definitely are interested in books - but she doesn't want to be "read to" anymore.

Except after we saw "Aunt Jenny." When we got back from Disney World, the first night I asked Lilly: "Do you want me to read you a book the way Aunt Jenny does"? And she said "Yes! Aunt Jimmy!" (Ok, so her pronunciation of Jenny is a little off. She also calls her uncle Brian "Byron." But each night before she goes to bed, we sit in her bed and read a book "just like Aunt Jimmy."

It's the first time in a long time when she lets me read an entire story to her. I ask questions, I point to things, we talk about the plot of each page. And she loves it. She's like a sponge soaking it all in. And after I read, she reads the story. And she is so proud of herself as she learns the story, anticipates different parts, tells me what happens. And when I ask her questions, she gets them right and is so proud.

For the past 3 nights Lilly's wanted to read the book "Pete the Cat" which was given to her by Jon's parents. And not only does she love me reading the story, but she's so good at remembering the story, and telling me which colors are which (which makes both of us so proud), and singing the song that goes along with it.

So we can thank "Aunt Jimmy" for introducing Lilly and I to a new and improved bedtime routine. (And each night Lilly literally asks to read the book like "Jimmy" because she loves this routine so much.)

A few days ago, I said to Lilly: "Look at my mouth." (and I pointed). "Jennnnnny." Lilly said "Jimmmy." We did it a few more times and Lilly then said "Jennnnny!" Wow was she excited and I was too and we were so proud of ourselves for Lilly saying it the right way and me helping her to say it the right way.

I'm no speech therapist, but I do work with Lilly on pronunciations quite a bit. Like, another word she's been trying to say is "Welcome!" (Because in Annie, Daddy Warbucks' staff welcomes her to the house and shout "Welcome!" at the end of "I think I'm going to like it here" song. Anyways, Lilly has a hard time saying it, and we practice so much on her saying "Welcome!" And when she focuses, she can totally say it perfectly. And we are both so proud.

In unrelated news, Lilly was really concerned for me yesterday. I had ashes on my forehead from Ash Wednesday. And, I wasn't feeling good (we've all had a cold this week. And did I mention this is Lilly's first cold of the entire winter? She's been such a healthy girl!). So Lilly associated the ashes with me being sick and came into my room and brought out her doctor's kit. She did a full check-up on me and pronounced me healthy.

The following pictures are not from last night but from a few weeks ago, when Lilly played doctor with us. Note the real stethescope - one of the perks of having a daddy as a doctor.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A little of this and that

Today is Ash Wednesday. Which means, mass at 12:15, getting ashes on my forehead. And fasting today until dinner. And giving up Facebook, eating out, and sweets for the next 40 days.

So I'm a little grumpy - I get so hungry when I can't eat! (And it doesn't help that I'm sick, and that I did my taxes this morning - federal, VA, and NY - and for some reason can't get NY to e-file which was stressful and made me more hungry!) And while I kind of miss the ability to hop on facebook and see the latest status updates, I'm kind of relieved that I won't be on for the next month+. As I was about to sign off for the last time last night, someone on FB said that giving up FB for Lent is stupid, especially when I continue to blog. Well, I guess that's their opinion - but it is a sacrifice and my time will be much better spent not on it. And I'm not giving up blogging because I love keeping track of Lilly's life on here. And who knows who it might help along the way - I would have loved to read a blog about an adorable little 4 year old with Down syndrome when we were new in our journey. But regardless, the negative comment last night just further indicated that FB is not necessarily a positive place all the time and I'm glad to give it up for awhile.

I don't have much self-control over giving things up that I enjoy. Like, I can't diet because once I start restricting something then all I want to do is eat whatever it is. If I gave up pizza, I'd all of a sudden eat it every meal for a week straight. But, for God it is different. If I give something up for Lent, it's not me giving it up for me - it's me giving it up for God, and that's a hard guy to disappoint.

Last year I gave up facebook also, and enjoyed my time off of it. I also gave up clothes shopping (for all 3 of us) and diet coke, I think? The year before I have no recollection whatsoever; but we were in New Zealand and I felt like so many things I loved had been given up that year. In college one year, I went to mass a few days a week during Lent, which was a nice practice to get into. Another year, I gave up gum, which almost destroyed me. (It would be fine now, I'm not addicted to it anymore.) I have a vague recollection of giving up coffee, but maybe that was when I was pregnant! And one year I fasted every day until dinner, which was tough, and remembering back, I can't remember if I lasted the 40 days (or even the first week!) on that one. Maybe I just did Fridays? Not sure.

Anyways, I am all for reevaluating where I am in life, depriving myself from a few things that strengthen my relationship with God.

Speaking of God, we got the official letter of acceptance from the Catholic school that Lilly will be going to next year. So relieved.

It's interesting, our journey to find the right education for Lilly. I always said that I wanted Lilly to go to Catholic school. And I always wanted her to be in a regular class (as opposed to special education, not that there's anything wrong with that). And along the way, people told me she'd need a little extra help, maybe a regular class wouldn't provide that or support her. And then this year we see how well she's doing educationally with the extra help of really qualified special education teachers; although while she is learning so much it amazes me, I do wish that she had more social opportunities in school. (Not to worry, with her swimming, dance, and soccer classes plus her time spent with her cousins, she's well-rounded; but still). And from my experience being in a private Christian school for a few years, I really did see that as such a nurturing environment that would sincerely care about Lilly's success and well-being.

And with all that, and our hopes and prayers for Lilly's future, we suddenly found multiple options for great schools for our little girl. And I am so thankful that she has the opportunity to be in a Catholic school with a proven successful record of having kids with Down syndrome in regular classes with support where she needs it. It's a prayer answered, for sure.

And speaking of prayers: Yesterday I was in the subway while headed down to Whole Foods to pick up organic produce. In the NY subway, cell phones don't have signal, so once you go down the stairs you have absolutely no connection until you get back up on the street. Anyways, a guy gets on the subway and looks kind of suspicious - holding his jacket in a weird way. So of course I think to myself: what if he's holding a bomb in there? And so then I think to myself, this might be my last moment on earth; whatever happens I just want Lilly to be ok. So then I tell myself, Cathleen you need to pray to God that everything will be ok and to take care of Lilly if something should happen to me. And then my next thought is: I can't pray right now, I don't have signal so God wouldn't be able to hear me, since I'm on the subway.

Really? I thought that God needed cell phone reception in order to hear my prayers? Well, at least I realized what I was thinking right after I thought it, so then I went ahead and said my prayers anyways and the creepy guy got off at the next stop.

That's all for now... time to clean up the house, go to church, then walk across Central Park to Lilly's school to pick her up from soccer. I'm already counting down the hours until dinner tonite!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Magic Kingdom: Continued

So it was almost 11 on Friday morning. Magic Kingdom was starting to get packed. But we had already accomplished a few rides, a haircut, fastpasses for Splash Mountain and Winnie the Pooh, and a meet and greet with 3 princesses. Now that there were long lines everywhere, we easily made our way to Splash Mountain and got Lilly measured. Now, less than 3 hours after getting measured originally, Lilly was almost an inch shorter! But still measured tall enough, thank goodness – but next time we’ll make sure we always go on the height rides earlier in the day so she doesn’t shrink too much!

But Lilly wasn’t trusting us anymore. We’d already gotten her to ride Big Thunder, now she knew this wasn’t her typical laid back easy going magical day. As we were about to get into the fastpass line, Lilly said she had to go to the bathroom. I took her, and we were on our way again. Walked through the whole fastpass queue and as we were waiting to get in our boat, she said “potty!” I said, Lilly you just went potty. Then she said “wet!” Turns out, she was scared of new rides now. She was just a little bit wet, and I made the decision any mom would make… I mean, this was a water ride after all. I said “C’mon Lilly” and plopped her into the boat.

Anywho, she liked the ride. Loved Big Thunder more, but Splash Mountain was still good. She enjoyed the actual ride part more than the drop, but didn’t mind the drop – she was more concerned because she got a drop of water on her head, my little princess. But she didn’t absolutely love it enough to make it a priority in the future. I don’t totally love it myself, so that’s fine with me!

We bought the picture of me, Jon, my dad, Cassidy and Lilly going down the big drop, which was priceless.

Next stop was lunch at Crystal Palace. The good buffet with Winnie the Pooh characters coming around to each table. The salads were especially good, as were the desserts. As it was 11:30 am, none of us were starving but of course we left stuffed. The girls liked saying hi to Pooh, Eeyore (he came by twice!), Piglet, and Tigger. They participated in the parade around the dining room with the characters as well, although got a little lost on their way back to our table.

By now it was about 12:45, and we went to use our fastpasses on Winnie the Pooh. However, the ride had broken down so we turned around to go on It’s a Small World. Jon left for a bit to do some work, and my dad and I took the girls on the ride. Another favorite of Lilly’s, and I love hearing her sing the song.

We then went on Winnie the Pooh, which is one of Lilly’s favorites as well. And then decided to call it a morning.

We accomplished a lot in the morning – there wasn’t necessarily any “must do” that we missed. We got back to the hotel around 2, and we all laid down for naps. The girls easily fell asleep, as did my parents. I read a book, which was so relaxing to me!

The girls were up around 4, and we decided to go to the pool. Cassidy loved the slide, and Lilly loved playing in the water with Jon. Lilly went on the small slide a few times and the huge long slide once (she ended up flying down the end backwards and upside down, so note to self: maybe wait a year – but she wasn’t upset at all).

It started to get chilly, so we went up and changed and got ready to go back to Magic Kingdom for the night. I think we arrived around 7 or so. We went to Tomorrowland to ride Buzz Lightyear and the Tomorrowland People Mover; however when we were about to get on Lilly said she had to go potty so Jon and Lilly and I split up from my parents while they took Cassidy on those rides. After the bathroom Lilly went on Astro Orbiter, which is another absolute favorite of Lilly’s (it’s like Dumbo but it’s spaceships and it spins fast and you can see all over Magic Kingdom because it’s high up in the sky).

Meanwhile, Cassidy rode Dumbo with my parents (like a 20 minute line, not too bad especially for Dumbo) but it was after 8pm. Lilly danced a bit at the Tomorrowland dance party (she loves dancing!) and we watched the fireworks. She has a love hate relationship with them. She doesn’t like them being so loud (like me) but she loves watching them (like Jon). So while she watches them, you basically have me covering her ears and then when they take a quick break for a minute she claps so incredibly enthusiastically, it’s like the happiest moment of her life. Then Lilly went on the Carousel twice - she loves riding a horse on there – and she made Jon and I sit on horses near her instead of standing next to her. Meanwhile Cassidy did Snow White twice, including once with just Jon. Both girls were incredibly happy by the end of the night.

It was a great day at Magic Kingdom.