Friday, May 31, 2013

Hershey: Part 2

After a really fun afternoon in Hershey (check out this post) and a comfy night's sleep in our hotel, we were so excited to visit the park. 
We headed to the park at 10 (that's when it opened.) Even though Gia doesn't love to sit in her stroller much anymore, we brought it anyway. The walk from the car to the park is a bit long, so she sat. They have a tram but we missed it somehow.
The park is absolutely adorable. It looks like a little village straight out of a fairy tale. When you first walk up, there are a few shops selling chocolate and other cute souvenirs like Christmas decorations and t-shirts and stuff.   We saved those till the end of the day because we were just so excited to get started.
We paid our entrance fees (Gia was free bc she's still 2) and off we went. Like Disney, the park is divided into areas where there are clusters of rides and different food options. The map and rides are both clearly marked with information about who can ride that particular ride. Little kids (the 2-3 year old crowd who are under 36" tall) are called Mini Kisses. Kids who are a little bigger (36" to 42" tall) are called Kisses. So, you can either look at the map or look at the ride to see if your child is tall enough to ride that ride.
 The first area is called "Founder's Circle" and there's a huge carousel right in the middle. Gia took one look at it and decided she was in heaven. 
She rode the carousel and about 5 other rides just in that one small area. She was a huge fan of the Mini Himalaya and the helicopter ride.

Because it was a weekday and schools are not yet out, the lines were minimal. There were several schools on day trips there, but the kids were middle schoolers for the most part. They definitely didn't want anything to do with the kiddie rides, so many times if Gia wanted to ride again, she just didn't get off the ride and they let her go around again.

We spent the day moving from area to area, letting Gia pick what rides she wanted to ride on. Some of them she could go on alone and some required Daddy to accompany her. 
Below is a picture of the pirate ship ride. You know those pirate ships that swing back and forth and go really high? Well this was a mini version of it (I thought it was so cute that they have mini versions of so many "adult" rides.).  Gia was dying to go on it. The first half of the ride was glorious...
And then she got a little scared at the speed and height. But she hung in there like a trooper and was excited and proud of herself when she came off.
Easily her most favorite ride of the day was the mini log flume. She called it the boat ride and she was so happy to be "in" the water. 
 She & Jon rode it and there was a line, so she had to get off, which she was not happy about. Jon had to carry her off and down the ramp.  She was exhausted and we planned to put her in the stroller to nap for a little bit. She did NOT want to get in her stroller, even with the promise of a fruit pouch. With a little coaxing she got in and promptly said, "I wish this stroller was a boat".
She napped for a while and we woke her up and let her go on the mini log flume 2 more times. It was getting late and we were all tired and hungry, so we made our way out of the park, stopping for a few more rides as we left.
Not the greatest family picture ever, but we were all hot and tired...
We went to dinner in downtown Hershey and then headed back to NJ. Next time we go back (hopefully next year) we'd like to do the Boardwalk part of the park (the water rides) and ZooAmerica. We didn't have a chance to check those out as we only had time for 1 overnight. It was a short, but very very sweet trip.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Hershey: Part 1

Mmmmm chocolate. Even though I don't generally crave sweets when I'm pregnant, I always have room for chocolate.
So the earlier this week we went to Hershey, PA to get some chocolate. Kidding--we really went as a fun little family trip.  We wanted to do something special with Gia before this next kiddo is born, and since the belly is only getting bigger and the weather is only going to get hotter, we decided now was the perfect time.
We left on Tuesday around 1 pm and arrived in Hershey a little before 4 pm. We went straight to Chocolate World and started with a chocolate tasting. It was excellent. Jon and I tried 5 different kinds of chocolate. Gia was free, but they gave her a small Hershey bar which she devoured. And then she leaned over and took one of mine. Girlfriend loves chocolate.

Coloring while we learned about chocolate and did some tasting.

our tasting "menu"
Next we went on the free little ride that's like a tour of the factory. Gia had so much fun on the ride we went around twice. There was no line so we just didn't get off.
Gia LOVED the singing cows behind her in this picture.
After our second ride it was approaching dinner time, so we headed out. I've never been to Cracker Barrel and have always wanted to try it, so we found one about 20 minutes away.
Oh my yummy goodness. I loved everything from the Country Store when you first walk in, to the menu full of delicious country food options. I had a buttermilk-dipped oven-fried chicken breast with a baked sweet potato, candied carrots, one biscuit and one corn muffin. Jon had the chicken and dumplings with fried okra, green beans and cheesy hash browns, and Gia had a cheeseburger and fried apples.  We shared bites of all food and it was heavenly. Just writing about it makes me want to go back. We were hoping to have berry cobbler for dessert but we were too full.  Oh well! Just means we'll have to go back. Very soon. (We also had about 6 Hershey bars waiting for us in the car.)
The last stop was our hotel. We got a great rate at the Hilton Garden in Hummelstown. We were very impressed with it--small but very pretty and clean. We checked in, let Gia jump on the beds for a bit and then we all went to bed.
 Next up is Hershey Part 2: all about our day at Hershey Park.

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Saturday, May 25, 2013


  It's freezing here. After the crazy winter we had, I was really looking forward to an awesome spring. I was totally ready for warm days: playing outside with Gia, BBQs for dinner, ice pops for dessert. And I love those cool nights when you can sleep with the windows open, but still need a little blanket to keep warm.
Well those days have been few and far between around here. It warmed up for a bit -- and we definitely enjoyed ourselves when it did. But then it got cold again, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend, aka the kickoff of summer. And, Jon is working pretty much all weekend. The thought of 3 days inside this house with a very active, nearly 3 year old was daunting to say the least.
Gia having a mini cone from Trader Joe's

  Yesterday morning I was watching Kathie Lee & Hoda (What? Don't you love Hoda too?) and they were reviewing this weekend's biggest blockbusters. They featured a kids movie first.  The movie was Epic and the consensus was that it was a very cute movie for both kids and adults. So last night I bought tickets and we decided to take Gia to her first movie!

We bought our tickets ahead of time and got there a half hour early. We picked seats close to one of the big lights on the side wall of the theatre because Gia wasn't so sure of the huge dark room with the big screen. (As usual, I prepped Gia ahead of time and told her what to expect, but she was still a little apprehensive.) The theatre provided booster seats, which was great. She climbed up and sat for a minute and then decided she had to check out the bathroom.

Jon took her and while they were gone they got some popcorn. I had some candy and two small water bottle stashed in my bag.

She happily munched on popcorn and we kept reminding her that the lights were going to go off soon. The theatre filled up almost completely and then the previews started. It was a little loud at first and Gia look surprised. But she got used to it quickly and seemed to enjoy how big the screen was.

from my iPhone...not the best quality but you get the idea!

Finally the actual movie started. The animation was amazing and the characters' voices were nearly all recognizable, which was fun for the adults. The story itself was super adorable and really kept our attention.

Overall Gia did really well. She sat nearly the entire movie and ate her snacks (which were a lifesaver). At one point, when she was tired of popcorn, had consumed nearly all of her water and quite a few Sno Caps, Gia turned to me and said, "What else do you have in that bag, Mommy?"

There were a couple bathroom trips, a few times when she hopped off her seat just to wiggle around a little and climb back on, and a few times when we had to remind her to whisper. But, everyone in the theatre was dealing with the same thing, so it certainly wasn't a big deal.

On the way home in the car (and a few times since then) Gia randomly said, "I had fun going to the movies!" It obviously made a positive impact on her, which I love. Overall I'd say it was a highly successful first trip to the movies!

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

We're loving the spring:

She loves bubbles.

SO happy to be outside!

I love the next picture. It's not perfect -- it's actually kind of blurry -- but it's so Gia.  Running with everything she's got...

This is what happens when you see a bug (or buggie as Gia says).

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Photography Friday

I haven't been using my camera much lately, which usually happens when the weather is crappy. I don't love taking pictures indoors, so it usually sits around till the spring. And since we haven't had much of a spring, my poor camera was neglected more than usual. Add to it a belly that gets in the way and a busy spring work schedule -- forget about it. My camera hasn't seen the light of day in months.
For Mother's Day my mom requested a photo mug. So Gia and I had a little photo shoot in our backyard a few weeks before Mother's Day. I've been dying to share these pictures but couldn't because I didn't want my mom (or any other family members) to see them before Mother's Day.

I also made photo magnets for the other special ladies in my family: my grandma, my aunt, Gia's godmother (my cousin), my mom and my husband's mom. They were a big hit!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mom or MacGyver?

The past few days I've been feeling like I'm MacGyver Mommy. We've had a few, um, situations where I just needed to act fast and with stealth to avoid either a meltdown or a really, really bad mess. 
The other day Gia and I were on the way back from a shopping trip. We were on the highway and had just passed through a busy area with lots of shops and fast food restaurants and were in a more barren stretch of highway, when Gia said, "Mommy, I have to go pee pee." Except, she didn't say it so much as she whimpered it. I knew she had to go badly. There was no way we'd make it 5 more minutes up the road to the next stretch of stores with bathrooms. I told her to hang on for 1 minute while I merged and pulled over to the side of the road.
I kicked off my shoes, unbuckled Gia from her car seat and told her to pull her pants down. Then I did my best to heave my pregnant belly into the passenger seat of my car so I could lean into the back to set up our portable potty (we have THIS ONE and we love it.). Somehow I scooped Gia up and put her on the potty. Let's just say she must have been holding it for a long time. 
Once she did her business, I used a random napkin from the glove compartment to clean her up and then she pulled up her own pants and climbed right back into her car seat. She even buckled herself in while I cleaned up the potty and, then we were on our way again less than 5 minutes later. I was so proud of both of us: me for being thinking fast and being calm and her for holding it for a minute and then just going with the flow (pun intended) and not fighting me at all. 
Then today we were out and about, even though Gia has a cold.  Before we left the house Gia told me she felt fine, and didn't need any medicine, but I brought it with us just in case. When we got to our destination she felt so warm to me. I had taken her temp a few hours earlier and it was fine; at this point though, it was clear that she had a fever. She was still refusing medicine, so I gave her a some water and a snack. 
An hour later we were on our way home and Gia was all snuggled into her car seat. I asked her how she was feeling and she said she was ok. Again I asked if she wanted medicine and finally she said yes. Too bad I was driving around Union City NJ trying to get back to 495 & Rt 3. At the next red light, I seized the moment: I poured a tablespoon of Tylenol into the itty bitty cup, passed it back and told her to drink it up, and not to spill it. She gulped it down and passed the cup back like a little champion, all before the light changed. 
It's moments like these--when difficult or potentially messy situations are figured out quickly and easily--that I think I've got this mommy thing down! But don't hate me for saying that because not 10 minutes later the universe will remind me that no, I'm not really in control: my kid will be the one nearly throwing a tantrum because she doesn't want to wear her brand new sneakers.  
My little sickie felt good enough for some frozen yogurt!

Passed out on the couch

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day has always been one of my favorite days of the year--even before I was a mom myself.  My birthday (May 11th---today!) always falls on or very close to Mother's Day and, as a kid, my family always had fun celebrating the two together. Or at least I did. My poor mom was often robbed of a proper Mother's Day because she was busy hosting a houseful of family that was over to celebrate my birthday and Mother's Day.
Now that I'm an adult and my birthday is more of an "extra fun day" than something I long for and dream about for months, I get to spend the appropriate time and enegery dedicated to my mom. And nothing makes me happier than doing little things for the most special woman I know.
And then, just a few years ago, I became a Mama myself, and now I have two days so close to each other that I get to celebrate. And you know me--I love celebrating life's little moments.
When I think of Mother's Day now, I think of my mom and I think of Gia. One of them showed me how to be a mom and one of them made me a mom. Both of these things are priceless.  And, I'll never be able to say either of those things about anyone else. And that's just so awesome to me.
Happy Mother's Day to all the moms, moms-to-be and mother figures out there. You are so incredibly loved!
Gia painting a birdhouse for Nanny

And painting a picture frame for Yadi

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I forgot...

The beginning of this pregnancy was no fun. I was sick, tired and chasing around my very active 2.5 year old. At one point, I was complaining so much that even Gia started to randomly say, "I don't feel good."  When I'd ask her what didn't feel good, she didn't have an answer for me. It took me a few days to put two and two together and realize that I was, in fact, the reason my kid was going around saying she didn't feel good. (There were a few times in there when she'd say and actually mean it. Like the day she had a fever.)
Gia with a fever.
Suffice to say that was enough to shut me up and cut way back on the complaining. That and the fact that I know I don't have it that badly. In the grand scheme of pregnancy issues, a little morning sickness and nausea is not a big deal. At all. 
In the middle of all my moaning, I kind of forgot about all the good pregnancy stuff. I didn't totally forgot (check out THIS POST), but it was definitely on the back burner.
Well, so far the second trimester has been really, really good to me. There's so much less nausea and so much more energy. So many more foods sound good to me, so eating healthy has been much easier the past few weeks. 
And then, last night, it happened.
I felt the baby move!
It was an awesome moment--one I had forgotten all about. I remember the kicks and jabs and dance parties Gia used to have in my stomach (she was active even in the belly), but I forgot about that special moment that is the very first time you feel movement from the little person growing in there. To me it feels like popcorn popping on the inside. Or like a butterfly flapping its tiny wings. I felt it three times last night (after drinking a cold glass of water) and then one time this morning after some juice.
This is like the icing on the cake that is the 2nd tri. I'm already feeling good and now I get to experience this.  And I know there are so many more amazing moments to come, like when Jon and Gia can feel the kicks from outside my belly, and when we find out if this baby is a boy or a girl. Ahh the miracle of life is alive and well in this house!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Not so WW: Who does Gia look like?

One of the questions I'm asked most about Gia is where she got her curly hair. The short answer is: me. But, Jon has super thick, somewhat wavy hair too. So while it's probably mostly from me, he had a hand in it too.
In general, people tend to think Gia looks like me. The same thing happens with me and my mom. People say we look alike all the time. My mom and I are both petite, dark haired women, and we certainly have the same mannerisms. So, yes, there are major similarities but, in reality, I have many more features from my dad. I think the same thing happens when people see me and Gia. They see one thing that looks like me and, because she's a girl, they tend to see all me. I think there's more Jon though!
So, for Wordless Wednesday, I'll let you decide.
Jon at age 3:
Me at age 3:
Gia, nearly 3:
And, a side by side:
So, what do you think?
PS. I just showed Gia the side-by-side pictures. I pointed to Jon and asked "Who is this?" Her answer: a boy! I told her it was daddy when he was a baby and she smiled. When I pointed to my baby picture she said, "That's ME!"  So I guess she thinks we look a like too!