Sunday, September 25, 2011

Ethan is Eleven Months Old

Today Ethan turned eleven months old.  I can't believe we've already reached this milestone and that I'm going to be planning a first birthday soon!  He is the sweetest little boy and is getting good at letting us know what he wants (without using words).  Here are some things he's been up to in the past month.
  • He has three teeth now (2 on the bottom and 1 on top).
  • He likes to grind his teeth - he really seems to love the noise even though Cayne and I hate it.
  • He can pull up to standing and "cruise" from object to object as long as he is holding on.
  • He likes to give cuddles.
  • His favorite game is bulldozing daddy.
  • He also likes pushing his walker around while crawling...I'm sure one day he'll try standing up behind it.
  • Another favorite game is "Up and Down"...when Ethan pulls himself up to standing when we say "Up" and then sits back down when we say "Down".  This game can go on forever!
  • He doesn't call us "mommy" or "daddy" but he knows that's what we are called.  He will "go to" or "come to" whichever one we tell him to.
  • His favorite word is "Haa-Dah".  We don't know what it means but he says it alot.
  • He loves pointing at new things.  Since Cayne likes to read him The Nose Book, Ethan will point at your nose if you ask "Where is my nose?".  Sometimes he gets confused and points at your eye, but he usually gets it right!  
  • He has started eating some mushy finger foods (bananas, avocados, pasta, green beans) and Stage 3 chunkier foods.  He will finally eat just about anything we give him.
  • He has started trying to eat everything he finds on the ground...paper, carpet fuzz, dead bugs.
  • He went to Disneyworld!
  • He likes swinging in our little neighborhood playground.
  • He started his Kindermusik "Sign and Sing" class.  He doesn't do any signs yet but hopefully he'll learn some soon! 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ethan's First Trip to Walt Disney World: Epcot, All-Star Sports, and Time to go home

On our last full day at Disney, we headed over to Epcot.  Ethan fell asleep (of course) just as we entered the park so Cayne and I played around in Innoventions for a while during his nap.  I made my own roller coaster and Cayne made his own video game.  When Ethan woke up we rode Journey Into Imagination (he loved it) and let Ethan make his own figment before heading to Chefs de France for lunch.  The french waiters coo-cooed over Ethan (and Ethan behaved very well) while we ate some delicious onion soup.  Chef Remy from Ratatoiulle even stopped by to say "hello" to Ethan!
Cayne playing around at Innoventions
Ethan loved "Journey into Imagination with Figment"
He loved seeing the Figment posters too
Chef Remy wasn't as big of a hit as Donald, but he was still fun!

After lunch, we walked around the World Showcase and rode Maelstrom at the Norway Pavillion before running into Donald on the way to Mexico.  Ethan loved seeing his buddy Donald again and was even more excited to see Donald on the Gran Fiesta Tour (the boatride in the Mexico pavillion).

Who do you see, Ethan?!

It's Donald Duck!

Since we were right next to the test track after riding the Gran Fiesta Tour, we decided to ride test track again and visit the GM employee lounge with dad.  In the lounge we had a great view of Epcot and a neat view of the inside of the ride too.  Ethan was disappointed that he is still too short to ride but we told him he's halfway there!

In the GM Lounge at Fast Track
You'll be tall enough in the blink of an eye, Ethan
After a stop in the Baby Care Center and taking a while to wander around the World Showcase a little more, we gave Ethan to the grandparents to take to our new hotel for the evening, All-Star Sports, while Cayne and I had dinner in Morocco at Restaurant Marrakesh.  It was a delicious dinner and afterwards we caught the bus for our new hotel.  We had to wait a little bit for the bus, but it was shorter than any of our other bus waiting times and even though the bus was crowded, it wasn't any worse than the Beach Club buses were (hence, we were very impressed with the Value Resort transportation in comparison to Deluxe Resort transportation).
Cooling off and playing at the Baby Care Center

At the China Pavilion 

Model trains at the Germany Pavilion

When we got to the hotel, we still needed to check in.  I waited in the short line for folks who had done their "online check-in" while Cayne went to bell services to pick up our suitcases that we had let Disney transfer for us.  We were very pleasantly surprised to find that bell services had already put our suitcases in our room for us (awesome!) so we didn't have to carry them.  Unfortunately, the crib I had requested in advance wasn't already in our room and it took about 45 minutes for them to bring it.  We picked Ethan up from his grandparents' room and got him ready for bed and asleep in his crib once it finally arrived.

The All-Star Sports room was nice.  It was very small...not roomy but seemed pretty clean and in good condition.  I wouldn't mind staying in one of the family suites at this resort (where you get 1 bedroom with a queen bed and a living room with a sleeper sofa), as long as I had my own car to get me to the parks and restaurants without needing to use the Disney buses.

Our trip home was pretty uneventful.  The Disney Magical Express was awesome again...we got to check our bags at the hotel and then didn't have to deal with them again until we got to Nashville.  All in all, we had a very fun trip!
Time to go home...on the Magical Express

Ethan's First Trip to Walt Disney World: Back to the Magic Kingdom

The cast members at the Polynesian made us feel right at home
On our fifth day, we planned to go to the Magic Kingdom.  As I mentioned, none of us wanted to brave the awful Disney Magic Kingdom Transportation system again, so dad drove us to the Polynesian for a delicious breakfast of Tonga Toast and then we caught the monorail to the Magic Kingdom (much nicer than a bus!).

First ride on the monorail

We headed back for Fantasyland and watched Mickey's Philharmagic while Ethan slept and then rode the carousel, Small World, Peter Pan's Flight, and the Enchanted Tiki Room.

Mouse ears!

Mesmerized by "It's a Small World"
There's even a New Zealand part on Small World...with a Kiwi!

By the time we were finished, we were hungry and took the monorail over to the Contemporary Cafe for a delicious and relaxing late lunch.  From there, we went back to the Polynesian and our hotel to get ready for our early dinner at Cape May Cafe.

The Clam Bake Buffet at Cape May Cafe was wonderful.  Very good food with great variety.  We took longer to eat than we expected and by the time we finished, we only had about an hour before the Main Street Electrical Parade started.  I had to feed Ethan and get him to sleep before we left and even if we drove, I'm not sure we would have made it in time to watch the parade so we decided to save it until our next trip, when hopefully Ethan can stay up to watch it too.

Mom and dad went to walk around the Boardwalk and when they got back, Cayne and I went for a nice evening swim in Stormalong Bay.

Ethan's First Trip to Walt Disney World: Animal Kingdom

For our fourth day, we headed to Animal Kingdom.  We got there right after the park opened and headed straight for Kilimanjaro Safaris.  I loved that ride -- we saw so many animals!  My favorites were the baby elephant, baby giraffe, and baby Mandrill baboon.  They were all so cute!  I would love to go back one day and do the safari tour that Disney offers to spend more time watching the animals.

Kilimanjaro Safaris really wore Ethan out!
We then met Sarah and Nathaniel for a ride on Expedition Everest.  We took my brother's advice and waited for a seat in the very front car and it was worth it (especially since we only had to wait for one train to go before our ride).  We also rode Dinosaur and Kali River Rapids and walked through Pangani Forest Exploration Trail.  Ethan liked seeing the bats and tigers on the trail.  He also had fun playing with the dinosaur statues while Cayne and I took turns on Dinosaur.

Trying to get a good view of the tigers

We grabbed a delicious quick-service meal at the Yak and Yeti counter and took it to the baby care center to eat (so we could feed Ethan in an air conditioned area).  Again, the baby care center was super nice and it was a relaxing way to take a break from the park.  After our late lunch, we headed back to the room.

Ethan didn't want to take a nap (because of all the construction noise) so instead of leaving him in the room we decided to try to tire him out some more by taking him swimming.  He loved swimming in Stormalong Bay and playing in the sand and waterfalls.  We ended up letting him take a short, super late nap after construction had stopped.

First time playing in the sand!
That evening Cayne and I went to the Hoop De Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness.  The show was wonderful...very campy and fun...and the food was great too.  I was impressed at what a great show the actors put on for such a small audience though (the room was only about half full)!

Ethan's First Trip to Walt Disney World: Hollywood Studios

For our third day, we had a character breakfast at our hotel and then headed to Hollywood Studios.  The character breakfast was so much fun.  I wasn't sure what to expect with Ethan but figured we might get some cute photos.  Well, the photos didn't come out so great but Ethan absolutely LOVED interacting with Minnie, Donald, and Goofy.  Donald was his favorite but he lit up whenever one of the characters walked anywhere near our table.  It was so cute to see him giggling and smiling at Minnie, Donald, and Goofy...especially since he had never seen any of the Disney characters before our trip.

After breakfast, dad, Cayne, Ethan, and I headed to Hollywood Studios.  We decided to walk since it was a nice day and I had read online that the walk from the Beach Club is not too long.  To make sure we headed on teh right path, I asked a cast member in the Beach Club Marketplace.  She had no idea how to walk to Hollywood Studios but asked two other cast members before one told me the only way to do it was to walk along the road and that I'd know I was going the right way when I passed a "Hess" gas station.  That didn't sound right to me, so we decided that we'd walk to the Boardwalk Resort and that from there we would see signs directing us.  Well, there weren't any signs but after taking a pretty round-a-bout way we found the walkway to Hollywood Studios!

Ethan fell asleep along our walk after all the breakfast excitement so we headed to the thrill rides first.  We rode Tower of Terror and Rockin' Rollercoaster and when Ethan woke up we rode The Great Movie Ride.  After that, we rode Star Tours a couple times and decided we'd had a day and headed home.  As we were walking to our boat, it decided to leave so we had to figure out if we wanted to walk back or wait 20 minutes for the next boat.  Since the walk to Hollywood Studios (going the wrong way) took about 30 minutes we decided we could get to the hotel faster if we walked.

We grabbed a late lunch at Hurricane Hannahs and cooled off in our room for a little bit.  It was Ethan's naptime, and even though the construction noise was pretty loud, we left the baby with the grandparents so Cayne and I could have a short swim in Stormalong Bay before the grandparent's dinner reservation.  The pool was great...the slide was tons of fun and I was really impressed with the eagle-eyed lifeguards.

After mom and dad got back from their dinner and Ethan was asleep, Cayne and I went back to Hollywood Studios to meet Sarah and Nathaniel and rode Toy Story Mania, saw Muppet Vision 3D, and rode Star Tours and Tower of Terror again.

Ethan's First Trip to Walt Disney World: Magic Kingdom Transportation Nightmare

Today we headed over to the Magic Kingdom!  I was super excited about taking Ethan to Fantasyland for all the fun rides there.  It was a hot day but we did pretty good getting lots out of the way.  Unfortunately, this day was the worst Disney transportation day ever.  Our bus to the park was packed (I was lucky enough to get a seat and hold Ethan but everyone else had to stand) -- not a big deal but it all went downhill (transportation-wise) from here.

When we got to the park, we made a beeline for Fantasyland...though we did stop for some pictures in front of the castle.  It was cute to see the Main Street cast members waving a people with their mouse gloves as we walked down the street.  We went through the castle and into Fantasyland, stopping to ride "Snow White's Scary Adventures" first because there wasn't any wait.  Ethan liked it, but he did suck his thumb a little through the scarier parts.  Next up was "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" where again there wasn't a line to wait in but we stopped anyway just to play with the cute interactive exhibits.  We also rode "Dumbo" and by then, Ethan was sleepy so we took him to some air conditioning to nap with his Grandma while the rest of us went on some non-baby-friendly rides.  Splash Mountain was closed so we rode "Big Thunder Mountain Railroad", "Space Mountain", and "Tomorrowland Speedway".  After that, it was lunchtime and Ethan had woken up so we had a quick-service meal at Pecos Bill's Cafe (yummy burgers).
In Pooh's house

Ethan loved the interactive honey drips!

He's pooped!

On Jungle Cruise

Ethan really liked the Jungle Cruise

After lunch, we took Ethan on "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "Jungle Cruise" before deciding we would head back to the hotel for a swim before our early dinner at Narcoossee's. We hopped on our Beach Club bus but before we could leave a bus caught on fire coming into the bus loading zone.  We were told that we'd have to wait a little while before our bus could pull out.  A little while later, we were told we had to take the monorail or ferry to the Ticket and Transportation Center and catch a bus to our hotel from there because no buses could get in or out of the Magic Kingdom loading zone.  We were all exhausted but braved the intense mid-day heat to get to the ferry, wait for the ferry, and then walk to the resort buses at the TTC.  The TTC was a madhouse by the time we arrived and lots of buses were going to the Value Resorts and other resorts but eventually a bus was designated for the Epcot resorts.  We hopped on as fast as we could but it was crammed full of people and worst of all, the air conditioning wasn't working!  I didn't realize that until we were on our way or I would have hopped right off.  The "sauna bus" stopped at the Swan, Dolphin, and then Yacht Club before we got to the Beach Club and the 93-degree outside temperature was a welcome relief from the "sauna bus" actually felt nice and cool outside!  Ethan was bright red after the bus ride (very scary) so we sprinkled some water on him and headed straight for our room.  Total time from leaving the Magic Kingdom until getting off the bus at the Beach Club was over 1.5 hours!  After that, we didn't want to take Ethan back into the heat at the swimming pool and we only had about an hour and a half before we needed to leave for dinner anyway, so our afternoon was swimming was cancelled.

Bus Fire!

On the ferry...trying to get back to our hotel.
Dad drove us to the Grand Floridian for dinner and it was absolutely fabulous.  Since we were in the first seating group Narcoosee's wasn't open yet when we got there but we got to see Sarah and Nathaniel driving a water sprite while we waited.  Unfortunately, we didn't get a window-side seat (we were right by the bar) but we had a great server and Cayne and I both had amazing scallops for dinner.  We let the grandparents take Ethan back to the room after dinner while Cayne and I went to the Magic Kingdom to watch the fireworks and take advantage of the evening extra magic hours.  Since we were right by the boat dock, we hopped on the boat to the Magic Kingdom.  I have always loved the boats that take you to the Magic Kingdom -- I think they are so cute and fun!  Well, this one started off was there when we got to the dock so we got to hop on and then we went to the Polynesian before heading over to the Magic Kingdom.  When we were close to the Magic Kingdom, the boat stopped and we waited for over 20 minutes in the water for another boat to leave the dock.  At first it was funny but then the mosquitoes started coming out over the water and it was just annoying.  Finally the other boat left the dock and we were able to get off our boat -- about 40 minutes after getting on!

Waiting, and waiting, and waiting...still waiting to dock
When we got to the park we rode the train to Frontierland and hopped on Splash Mountain, which was now up and running.  Sadly, they were still having problems because lots of the audio-animatronics looked "dead" because they weren't working and all the announcements about ride issues kept Cayne from being able to catch the "story".  We also rode Thunder Mountain again (it's fun at night!) and then headed to Main Street to watch the fireworks.  The Wishes Fireworks show was really neat with awesome choreography and we dashed to the ice cream parlor for ice cream as soon as the show was over.  Then we met up with Sarah and Nathaniel and headed to the Haunted Mansion to ride.  It was, as always, a fun ride and I really liked the updates they gave to the "hitchhiking ghosts" at the end.   It was a little after 10 at that point and even though we could have stayed in the park until midnight, we decided to head back to our hotel after our long and tiring day.

In line at the Haunted Mansion

This time, it took over 45 minutes to get home.  We finally walked in our hotel room door at 11:50 that night. We must have waited almost 30 minutes just for the bus to arrive (and we weren't even the first ones waiting in line)!  It was disheartening to see 2-3 buses for every other resort pass us by while we waited, and waited, and waited.  Finally, a Beach Club bus showed up and we packed in like sardines. I am so glad we didn't wait to leave until the park closed at midnight...we might not have made it back to our room until 2 am!