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A fine lunch

Even though I don't find Winter Park restaurants overly kid friendly (I know I'm generalizing), I still like the atmosphere around there, so I visit the area from time to time. Last week we grabbed the 2 boys, and went to Hillstone Restaurant (former Houston) for lunch. We grabbed a table outside (a must if the weather is nice) and enjoyed fancy burgers and a great view. I just love the back area at Hillstone – the lake, and the trees. After we were done with our meal we 'explored' the outdoors with Owen as the lead. We ended up at their little herb garden, where for some reason we were on a mission to find basil.



The trip to Legoland was a happy one. I had a smile on my face the whole time. The rides are all new and shinny, and most of them are geared towards little ones. 36 inches seems to be the magic number. We only waited in line once – for about 15 minutes. The weather was awesome. Since the park is located on what used to be Cypress Gardens, the trees are grown, and there's even a few water falls. And if you walk through the part labeled "Cypress Gardens" you'll get to see a really amazing giant Banyan tree.

Owen is a big Lego fan, so he of course loved it all. And, baby Kellan didn't really get to ride on anything, but he loved the Baby Care Center, where he could enjoy some alone time with mom and eat in peace. I do wish some of the rides would allow for babies to ride on your lap, like at Disney. But no biggie – Will and I just took turns riding with Owen.

After a full day there, we decided we were likely to be back before the end of the year, so on the way out, we upgraded our tickets to annual passes. We did one of them as a "Plus" so it'd include parking. Since we had our receipt in hand they refunded us for that day's parking. A friend had also given us the tip to google "Legoland coupon" before we went. I don't know how long that will work for, but our child's admission was free that day thanks to that.

As far as favorites for me, I'd have to say Miniland USA. It was noon, and seeing all those cities built out of Legos made me forget how hungry I was. Only something really amazing can do that.

BTW, I think the Legoland website has lots of good info, but I don't think the pictures and videos there truly reflect how nice it is. 



HeyHey Colors for the iPad

We love this coloring app by street artist Bue the Warrior. I really like the way it looks – the contrast between the distressed wooden backgrounds and the clean vector icons. And my son just loves to color page after page. You can find out more about HeyHey Colors here.


Blood Tests...

These pictures are of the Quest Lab on Maguire, OcoeeOk, this is NOT a fun thing to do in the Orlando area. But unfortunately, there comes a time in every parent's life when the pediatrician will hand you an order for a blood test. Usually at the baby's 9th month appointment. Our first order was for Quest, so I took my baby to the Quest Lab closest to our house at the time – the one on West Colonial. They couldn't get his vain, so it was a long and traumatic experience. Not to mention, I didn't find that lab at all pleasant, especially for a baby. So, the next time we had to go get a blood test I took my boy to the Arnold Palmer Hospital. What a huge difference! It only took a second and Owen never even realized there was a needle in his arm. Going to the hospital was a bit more of a hassle. They don't take appointments there, so there might be a long wait sometimes. But, I still think it's completely worth it.

Now, if I had to take my child to Quest I would go to the one on Maguire in Ocoee. It's new, very clean, and I've never had to wait longer than a few minutes. I did all my pregnancy screenings there, including glucose tolerance, and I have to say, I love this lab. Especially when Janelle is there. She's on top of things, and she's super nice.

*You might need a specific order form depending on the lab you're going to, so make sure you check with your doctor. You may also want to check on insurance coverage.


Mickey Mouse Birthday

For his third birthday my son asked for a Star Wars party; for his fourth – Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. It seems a bit backwards to me, but what do I know.

I decided to keep it small this year since we have a newborn at home. Wanting to make things easier on myself I looked into purchasing the invites. I found lots of options online, especially on Etsy. Most were scary though, and probably not even Disney approved. So I ended up designing them myself. They were printed on really thick textured paper and then taken over to my friends at Lure Design to round the corners. I'm really happy with the way they turned out.

The night before the party my mother-in-law and I made Mickey cookies. Well, at least they looked like Mickey heads before they cooked. They kind of turned into giant blobs afterwards. Oh well, they were tasty, and the kids loved them. The main attraction though, was the cake. My friend Lindsay, with some help from her husband Adam of Hobo Press, made a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cake that the kids gathered around and played with, as if it was a toy. Our son loved it (and protected it too).

Finally, I got some Moleskine sketchbooks from the local Barnes & Noble and customized them with a Mickey stamp and a band. We gave these out to all the children when the party was over. I figured they'd encourage drawing and creativity, after all, that's how my son's very beloved Mickey Mouse came to exist.

I've already been thinking about next year's birthday party. I'm hoping my son will like my ideas.



Happy Valentine's Day!


Art by my husband Will 


Disney's Animal Kingdom - Top 10 at age 3 and under

The Animal Kingdom is my favorite of the Disney Parks. There are a lot of neat details everywhere and it just feels really authentic. Here are some of the things we like to do there when we visit with our 3 year old son:

1. Camp Minnie-Mickey - A great place to meet the characters. There's usually no lines, or they're short. For extra smiles get a soft serve ice cream on the way out.

2. Kilimanjaro Safaris - The best – in my opinion. You get to ride through the African savanna in a "Bumpy Jeep." All the animals are real, so the experience is never the same. We've gotten some really good views of the giraffes, elephants, and the other animals before.

3. Africa - We like to hang out in this area and look for the local street performances. There's also a set of drums for the kids to play, and a cart that sells refreshing fruit.

4. Pangani Forest Exploration Trail - A nice walk. Again, always different, but we've caught the gorillas doing some pretty fun stuff before.

5. Tricera Top Spin - Like Dumbo at the Magic Kingdom, but with shorter lines. 

6. The Boneyard - Really fun playground that even has a fossil excavation site.

7. Rafiki's Planet Watch - Ride aboard the Wildlife Express Train to get to the petting zoo. More fun things and characters inside too.

8. Finding Nemo – The Musical - A really great 30 minute show.

9. The Tree of Life - For a nice and quite time explore the trails around the tree and find all the animals carved into it.

10. Yak & Yeti Restaurant - Ok, this is just food, but it's good (and pricey too) If the weather is nice ask to sit in the balcony upstairs.

I also wanted to mention the baby nursery. Every Disney Park has one. They are nice, and have changing tables, an area to feed the baby, and even supplies you might need. If you're visiting with a baby these are worth checking out. The one at the Animal Kingdom is located on the left, before the gate where you enter Africa.


Bob the Builder in Orlando

Bob the Builder is coming to Orlando! The Project Build It Touring Exhibit will open at the Orlando Science Center this Saturday, January 28th. It looks like it might be similar to the Curious George exhibit they previously had there. That one was pretty fun. We are exhited about this one!


Letterpress Business Card

I'm so excited to have Hobo Press right here in Winter Garden. A couple of days ago I received my letterpress business cards and I couldn't be happier with the way they look. This printing process can really make something simple feel really special. The picture above shows Adam at Hobo Press while printing these cards.


Newborn Tips

So, soon we'll be back to doing fun things outside. As of now though, I have been spending a lot of time at home with baby Kellan. Having a newborn to take care of again has made me think of a few tips for future parents...

1. If you're having a boy and are planning on having him circumcised, buy a tube of Vaseline and have it at home for when you return from the hospital. You'll need to use it every diaper change.

2. Have alcohol and cotton balls ready too, or get some alcohol prep pads. You'll use these on the belly button to help the "yucky thing" (that's what my 3 year old called it) fall off. (It's umbilical cord)

3. I don't know about other hospitals, but if you deliver at Winnie Palmer, know that all that's in the baby's drawer (with the exception of the blankets) is yours to take home. DO take the little shirts with hand coverings. Baby's nails might be long from the start and you won't be able to cut them right away. With uncovered hands babies will scratch their faces.

4. Remember newborns don't have a neck. Keep this in mind when shopping for clothes. All those polo style oncies, thick hoodies, and any kind of outfit that's bulky around the neck will just make your baby uncomfortable. The ones with the simple overlaps over the shoulders or bottons on the side shoulder work best.

5. Socks and mittens fall off so easily. If it's cold opt for outfitls that have feet and hands coverings.


Baby's here!

So I've been wanting to post this for the last 2 weeks. I've been busy with baby and recovering from the not fun at all repeat c-section. 

Here's what happened; two weeks ago I went to see the doctor and he thought I was in labor so he sent me to the hospital. I was in denial but still called the husband and off we were. It turns out the doctor was right and the newest addition to our family was born just a few hours later. His name is Kellan and he's a beautiful baby. The four of us have been enjoying our holidays together at home. Starting tomorrow though I'll be even happier. I'll be allowed per doctor's orders to go up and down the stairs. And in 2 more weeks I'll be able to drive! That will make it a bit over 2 months of no driving. Hopefully I'll remember how 'cause honestly can't wait to get out!


Cool Gifts for Kids

Since I'm on bedrest, I've been having to do all my Christmas shopping online. I ran across a lot of interesting gifts for kids, so I thought I would share some. 

1. Twin Baby A/B: If I knew anyone having twins, I'd give them these!

2. Alphabet Baby Teether: I love type, hence I love this baby toy.

3. Create Your Own Puzzle Set: My kid loves puzzles, and he also loves drawing and painting. I love the idea of him being able to create his own puzzle. 

4. Airplanes Box Set: This is not only a really nice looking toy, it also packs up neatly. 

5. Educo My Backyard BBQ Set: Nicest toy grill I've ever seen.

6. Pita Pockets Lunch: Nice play food

7. Animal Alphabet Wooden Puzzle: This is both beautiful and educational.