Life on Cottage Hill: PAGES

Monday, February 29, 2016

spring fever!

Spring has - dare we say- arrived early this year!?
I'm certain I just jinxed us, BUT the past two weekends have given us the most beautiful weather, making us crave spring even more. It would be nothing short of heartless if winter showed up again. 

We spent both weekends entirely outdoors which is precisely where our souls seem to fill back up most quickly. 

Last weekend found us kicking off off kayak (and swimming!?) season. It's true. My family is not normal.While kayaking Dan announced to the rest of us on the dock that he was going in for a dip and then tipped himself over in the kayak and swam to shore. Keep in mind that the ice had JUST thawed from the lake that very week so the water was COLD, cold, cold. 

We decided later in the day to hit up the beach to play in the sand. While packing up the peanut somehow convinced her daddy that it would be entirely appropriate if she were to wear her bikini (you know- to the beach, in FEBRUARY!). It was warm out so I went with it. I also "just went with it" when Jackson announced that he too was taking a dip in the lake. It was pretty funny, actually... those little feet so bravely running into the water and then being coaxed back in to REALLY jump in the lake. If you're going to do it, Jack, just DO IT! Crazy, crazy people, I tell you. 

This weekend I was finally feeling about 80% of the way better after battling the flu and subsequent sinus infection, giving me the energy to clean out all the cars and garage while the babies built forts in the yard with "The Skyview Gang." We balanced out the time at home with hiking at Shawnee Lookout. It was the first time we let Jonah attempt a stroller-free hike. I had full expectations of having to carry him at least part of the way, but he was a rock star! He hiked the entire thing except the last 5 minutes when he rode on my shoulders. Those little legs worked HARD, announcing, "I yike hi-king!" Oh, and yes, Audrey is wearing her new Elsa pajamas on the hike... just warming them up for PJ day at school Monday! (note: it's now late Monday night and she has yet to wear anything else)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

so, this is happening...

If you're looking for Jonah, you'll find him on his "big boy potty." All. day. long.
Just sittin' on his potty and putting on/taking off his undies. 
And when he goes potty? He has two of the biggest cheerleaders who erupt in applause. 
Way to go, Bear!!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

...the last of disney.

On our last day at Disney we hit up The Animal Kingdom. The park I just KNEW Jonah was going to love. That is until we arrived and the safari was broken down, the crowds were a bit shall we say crowded and everyone was just tired from a week at Disney... he did love seeing the animals, but then napped through the last part which was just fine with us :). 

One highlight for the bear was the train ride to the part of the park where all the veterinarians take care of the animals. There was a petting zoo there along with the facility where they organize the food for the animals, give them medical care- including surgeries which you can watch (!) and a ton of other educational stations. But, first up was taking their "Lion Guard" oath, vowing to join the efforts in protecting lions around the globe. What a cast of characters these three were that day... 

Next up was lunch time. We were bordering on being h-angry so we hit up the first restaurant that we found, later realizing it was a "table service" character restaurant. Thankfully, a quick call to the reservations center let me exchange our lunch for reservations we had later that night somewhere else. It ended up being a good swap. The food was great, we were able to meet all the non-princess characters and it helped free up time later in the day to relax at the pool. Some of us enjoyed lunch more than others (we're looking at you, Jonah...). 

After lunch we continued exploring for awhile, learning about animals. It's pretty amazing actually how Disney staffs each park. In Epcot each country is staffed by people native to those places and in the Animal Kingdom it's obvious that every worker has extensive background and education with animals and they loved taking the time to talk to Jackson and Audrey, answering their questions and teaching them along the way.

We spent the rest of the afternoon into the evening doing what Jackson had been asking for ALL week... hitting up the pool at our resort! Ahh... relaxation. The weather was perfect, the kids LOVED swimming and met lots of friends and of course we were at Disney so it was no ordinary pool. There was an enormous mickey slide, a "fun coordinator" singing songs with the kids and playing games and afterwards we walked to the bonfire to roast s'mores... the perfect end to our week away. 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Our last day in the Magic Kingdom was one of my favorites. 
We started out by getting into the park before it opened (so cool!) and took advantage of zero crowds to get some photos while walking to Cinderella's castle for breakfast. 
Apparently the Indiana winter has given my children the inability to smile normally in the sunlight ;). 

Then, off to breakfast! In Cinderella's Castle!

....then on to the rides! We hit up all the classics- the tea cups (many, many times), flying elephants, some roller-coasters (Audrey was NOT a fan), the haunted mansion (surprisingly both JP and AD braved it) and obviously more princess time. 

Jackson, Audrey and I stayed late again, exploring the park at night including dinner at Gaston's Tavern and watching "Wishes" which was amazing. So, so amazing. After a long, LONG day we headed back to the resort to rest up for our last day at Disney. 

epcot: land of princesses.

Continuing the story of Disney so we get it all captured for memories and all that jazz...

Day three started off slowly after being up all night with Audrey and Jonah who unfortunately had a version of the stomach flu I had before our trip. Thankfully they recovered much more quickly and were ready for some action by mid-morning so off we went to Epcot. 

One of Jackson's most favorite rides was at Epcot. He and Pop rode in a race car that "went more than 80mph and was totally sideways!" as Jackson explained. He was pret-ty proud of himself for doing it. 

Next up and on the complete opposite end of the spectrum was lunch in "Norway" with all the princesses Audrey could dream of. This is also where we learned of Jonah's fear of princesses and characters in costume in general :) 

After lunch Nanna, Pop and Jackson stayed to explore for the afternoon while I took the younger monsters back for a much needed nap. In the evening Jackson, Audrey and I went back for Epcot round 2, staying late for "magic hours" and exploring every country and watching the fireworks. 

We had special treats in Mexico, Germany and France and we picked up gifts to give to Emma someday in celebration of The Chinese New Year. On the fan if you look closely they wrote "Engel" for us in chinese characters. I wanted to write "Emma" but Jackson said he's just "not sure that's what HE wants to name her." :)