Fearing Mr. Claus

This year marks Audrey's third Christmas.  The past two years Santa has been a non-issue.  Audrey couldn't care less about the guy.  Last year when we took her to sit on his lap, she just looked at everyone like, "what on earth is this all about?"  We didn't buy pictures due to the scowl on her face but she didn't cry and wasn't scared of the guy.  This year, however, is a totally different story.  We've had to work pretty hard at making Santa a welcome idea in our home.

I'm not sure how or when it all started, but I think it was seeing a huge yard inflatable of Santa that did Audrey in.  Starting in October she's been simply petrified of Santa.  She wouldn't let me go anywhere near the Christmas section in the store (which I was fine with -- it was OCTOBER).  I didn't understand this fear of Santa and didn't intervene until I realized how bad it really was.

Audrey was at dance class and they began working on a Christmas routine set to "Up on the Housetop."  Audrey heard the word "Santa" and booked it for the door.  Before I could even realize what was going on she had opened the door and sprinted down the hallway, screaming.  She was absolutely terrified and refused to go back in to her classroom.  We had to wait until they were done working on the song before she was willing to participate again.  Her fear got so bad that Audrey would literally tremble with fear at even the mention of Santa's name.  When we told her, "but he brings all of the toys at Christmas!"  She firmly stated that if that was the case, she wanted no toys.  I needed to help her realize he was really nothing to be afraid of.

One evening we sat down and I showed her some YouTube videos of kids visiting Santa.  That helped.  We read a book about Santa.  She started warming up to him.  We talked about him for a very long time.  I told her Santa was a fun Christmas character that we all loved and that she didn't need to be afraid of him.  She was comforted and I was happy that she wasn't scared.

After our talk she would mention Santa now and then and tell us how silly he is or that he's "a nice grandpa guy."  We saw a man at Wal Mart with a white beard and Audrey was sure it was him.  She asked me to walk in the opposite direction, but she was intrigued, I could tell.  Even though she was more okay with Mr. Claus, she asked me if Santa could put our gifts on the porch instead of in our house.  I told her I would ask him nicely to do so ;).

It's been a long road teaching my poor, anxious little Otter Pop that Santa really isn't something to be afraid of, but today I think we can officially say that her phobia is cured.

On Tony's lunch break we went to the mall to see the big guy, and although she was hesitant at first she did it.  She visited with Santa and told him exactly what she wanted:  a Sofia the First amulet.  She got her treat and has not stopped boasting about how brave she was seeing Santa.  She keeps telling us what a nice guy he is, and that he gave her a hug.  She is in full on Christmas mode now, and can even sing all of the lyrics to "Up on the Housetop"  without a hint of fear.


A Royal Halloween

This is a bit late, but I need to be better at blogging about things like Halloween.  I'm a slacker mom and never kept a baby book of Audrey's firsts and life events, so I count this blog.  Hopefully when she asks me to see her baby book, blogger will still be around so I can pull it up to show her that somewhere I documented some parts of her childhood.

Anyway, Halloween.  The past two years Halloween has been more for me to parade Audrey around in a cute costume than it was for her to get candy.  She's been a spider and a duck and this year she actually had an opinion on what she wanted to be for Halloween.  We knew that she wanted to be a princess, but choosing which one was quite the process.  Audrey was not a big fan of the dresses they sell at the store.  She could tell the colors weren't exactly right.  I decided to make her costume.  I have fond memories of homemade costumes my mom made for us and I wanted something challenging to do.  So, off we went to Hobby Lobby.

I presented Audrey with the pattern envelopes for Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel.  She initially picked Cinderella but as we were walking over to choose our fabric she frantically informed me that she had changed her mind -- we needed to get the Rapunzel pattern.  I got the Simplicity Rapunzel dress pattern because I knew that it would be easy enough for me to follow.

I gave myself PLENTY of time to work on this thing.  I started in the beginning of September.  It was a good thing I did because 1) I don't have tons of free time to just throw together entire dresses and 2) because I'm not a seamstress by any means, so I had to re-create the bodice of the dress several times.  By the way, satin sucks to work with.  If you ever make anything with satin, do yourself a favor and splurge on the good stuff.  "Costume satin" ironically is horrible for costume making.

The beginnings of the dress.  I was so proud of those eyelet things.  
After a few weeks I finished the dress.  It turned out quite well for my skill level, and Audrey loved trying it on during the process.  I kept it hidden from her for a long time because I knew she'd want to wear it non-stop.

I found a wig at Target for only ten bucks (it was an actual Disney Rapunzel wig) and Audrey LOVED IT.  I didn't think she'd like it and was worried she wouldn't wear it for Halloween but I was so wrong.  She wanted to wear it every day.

It looked so nice, and then Audrey wore it a couple times and it knotted up into a gross fake-hair ball.  I had to soak it in fabric softener and comb it out for an hour to get it looking even close to what it looked like fresh out of the package.  Lucky for us, Rapunzel sports a lovely braid in the movie Tangled, and so I got away with braiding it up and keeping it nice and tidy.

Audrey was thrilled with the entire ensemble and proudly wore her costume.  We even had Pascal and she carried around a frying pan (for a few seconds) to complete the look.  She was so pretty and the wig looked like her real hair!  Several people asked us as we were trick-or-treating if it was her real hair, haha!


She looks pretty believable, right?

Audrey had a blast trick-or-treating.  Every time she would get some candy she'd come running from the house, shake her pumpkin, and say, "listen to how many treats I got!"  Then start running toward the next house.  She was not shy to go up and say "trick-or-treat!" and thought everyone was inviting her into their homes so she'd just walk right in.  No matter how many times we told her, she just didn't get it.  She would get so upset when we'd make her come back outside.

Tony dressed up as one of his co-workers for Halloween (more as a joke for his work party) and I didn't have a costume.  Feeling a bit left out I decided to see what I had.  Hours before we had to leave for trick-or-treating, I looked through my fabric box and my closet and I came up with something I feel was pretty clever, especially for not spending a dime and having seriously like an hour to whip something up.

No picture of Tony, unfortunately.

Audrey thought it was so funny that I was Cinderelly (what she calls pre-ball Cinderella) and kept commenting on it all night.  I was surprised more people didn't know who I was.  One person asked me if I dressed up like a slave (?!?!) I guess I sorta did?  

I'd say Halloween was a success for Audrey.  She keeps talking about it and doesn't seem to understand that it's over.  Every time she sees Christmas decorations in the store she says, "it's Halloween time!"  I'm so glad she enjoyed it.  Celebrating with her around makes things so much more fun!

I hope everyone had a fun Halloween! 


I'm Already THAT Mom

As you're all aware, Audrey is very much into Disney princesses.  Mostly their songs and dresses.  We have a CD that she got for her birthday that's a collection of songs from all of the various princess movies.  We listen to it at least once a day (mostly so I can cook dinner while she "dances").  I find myself singing along as I do my chores, but my favorite is when the song from Snow White comes on.

I've always thought Snow White's voice was super annoying, and I think it's great fun to sing this song in the highest, nasal-iest voice I can.  Audrey hates when I do it.  Actually, I think she thinks it's half funny, half annoying.  She always says "Mama, you're not Snow White.  No singing."  Oh, I should mention I also sing the prince's part in my manliest voice :).  I do it every time and Audrey gets so bugged.  I think it's funny.

Audrey had dance class on Halloween and they all got to wear their costumes.  It was a class full of princesses.  Audrey was having a blast, and all the moms were hanging out in the studio waiting for the teacher to show up.  One little girl walked in dressed as Snow White.  Audrey turned around, looked me dead in the eye, and said ever-so-seriously, "Mama.  DO NOT sing that song."

I couldn't help but bust up laughing.  I already embarrass Audrey, and she's only two years old.  Awesome.


Gus Gus

We've recently learned about Audrey's "baby brudder*."  She brought him up one day by telling me, "mom, I have one baby brudder."  "Oh?" I said.  "What's his name?"  Without skipping a beat she answered me...

"his name is Gus Gus."

She's quite sure that she doesn't have a baby sister anywhere, and will usually correct you if you ask about a sister.  The one time I got her to slip, she told me her sister's name is Lucifer.

Audrey talks about Gus Gus every day, and I am constantly learning new things about him.  For example, he is two inches big.  He also has blue hair and brown eyes.  He really loves Minnie Mouse, and he sleeps in our cat's bed.  Today I asked Audrey if I could see Gus Gus and she got very upset with me and said, "No Mama!  He's TOO STINKY."  Of course.  How silly of me.

Perhaps one day I'll get to meet my only son, Gus Gus.  He sounds like an interesting little fellow.

*DISCLAIMER:  I am not pregnant.  Not even a little bit.  Audrey is making this stuff up completely on her own.


Potty Power

This week we started potty training Audrey.  She was showing all signs of readiness and seemed pretty excited to get started.  With the help of my good friend Alli, I began on Monday with these tools in hand:

Potty Power DVD

2.  The ebook 3 Day Potty Training by Kaylee Collins

3.  All kinds of princess panties, hand-picked by Audrey

I followed the book almost exactly, with the exception of night time training.  I wanted to conquer day time training first so Audrey wears pull ups at night and at nap time.  The author of the ebook says to make them wear underwear to bed and just wake them up - YEAH RIGHT!  Other than a few changes to the plan, we jumped in with both feet.

Day 1 - Monday
Today went as expected.  We woke up, made a huge deal about her new big girl underwear, and put away all of her diapers.  We turned on Potty Power and I kept her contained in one room to minimize the damage to our carpets.  I set out lots of fun drinks on the coffee table so she would have to go more often (creates more teaching moments if they have to pee a lot).  She loved wearing her underwear and loved that darn Potty Power DVD!  I would say the DVD was the biggest help in our potty training endeavor.

The first time she peed, she looked at me like, "what the heck is happening?!"  I simply told her "uh oh!  Pee goes in the potty!"  Wash, Rinse, Repeat. :)  Like I said, as expected.

Day 2 - Tuesday (aka false hope day)
Audrey really seemed to get this whole potty training thing.  She was telling me when she had to go and we had minimal accidents.  They were usually as she was running to the bathroom.  I stupidly bragged to my mom and sister that I hadn't cleaned up a single poop accident because she had gone in the toilet!  (Just wait...)  Accidents went from four the first day to only two the second day.  I was certain I had a potty training wiz on my hands.

Day 3 - Wednesday
We woke up and as usual made our way to the toilet right away.  Suddenly Audrey HATED it.  She screamed and cried and refused to even sit on the toilet.  I didn't want to push it so I let her go and told her to tell me if she needed some toilet time.

Long story short, I ate my words about the whole "no poop accidents" thing, and we didn't have a single success in the toilet that day.  Ugh.

Day 4 - Thursday
Audrey did great in the morning.  She stayed dry at dance class and went potty before nap.  Please note that this pre-nap potty was our last success of the week.

Thursday afternoon through Saturday were NOT GOOD.  I think the novelty of potty training wore off and Audrey just decided it wasn't fun anymore.  She didn't seem to care that she was having accidents left and right, and I had the most horrible time cleaning them up.  (I'll spare you the details.  I know I'm talking about pee and poop, but I don't want to be THAT person.)  I was ready to give up, stressed out, and Audrey was in a horrible mood.

I took the night off, put Audrey in a pull-up, and Tony took her on a date.  It was what we all needed.  I think we were just all feeling a lot of potty training pressure and taking a break seemed to help.  I emailed my friend Alli, and she reassured me by saying they went through the same things.  (Seriously, Alli, couldn't have made it through this without you!)

After Saturday's set back, we decided to change our approach a bit.  Audrey is a lot like me - we're finding out - where the harder you push her and make her feel bad about messing up, the more she resists.  The whole "I'm so sad you had an accident!" stuff was making her feel bad and not want to even try.  So, we decided to keep it all really positive and encouraging.  I first asked her if she'd rather switch back to diapers.  If she wasn't into this yet, I was fine to wait a couple months.  I said, "Audrey would it make you feel better if you wore a diaper?"  She told me, "NO MORE DIAPERS FOR ME!  I don't like baby diapers.  I like big girl underwear.  I can go potty in the toilet!"  So we went with it.  It was really nice to hear that she was still on board with all of this.

We went from treats as rewards to a potty sticker chart.  I decked it out with princesses, got princess stickers, and hung it on the bathroom wall.  We told her that when she filled it up, we'd take her to the store and let her pick a brand new toy. When she had an accident, we'd approach it very matter-of-factly.  Instead of saying how sad or upset we were, we'd simply say "uh oh!  You peed in your underwear.  Where does pee go?"  Audrey would tell us "in the toilet" and we left it at that.  We had confidence that she knew what to do, she just needed to feel encouraged, comfortable and unafraid of messing up.

I'm happy to say that our new approach to all of this seems to be working!  Tony was a rockstar yesterday at getting Audrey to go.  He was so positive and encouraging.  It's so nice to have a husband who is willing to help out and who is supportive of my crazy methods.  I think Audrey prefers that he help her go now, because he makes her feel so good about herself.  Potty bonding.  Precious, isn't it? ;)

Audrey proudly put the final sticker on her chart before nap time today.  When she was done she turned around and said to me with all the seriousness she could muster, "You can take me to Target now, and I can buy Merida princess."  I agreed and off she went for her nap.  I'm really proud of her, and while she's still not totally accident-free, she's getting the hang of this potty training business.  We just have to work on her telling us before its too late.  In typical kid fashion, she gets too distracted when she's playing to think about going.  I'm not worried though, she'll get it.


My Little Ballerina

We recently signed Audrey up for dance class.  We wanted her to have a structured activity and get some good exercise in, especially in the winter when we can't go to parks or play outside anymore.  I found a studio in Orem that has a toddler combo class for 2-year-olds and so far we've loved it.  It's a mix of ballet/jazz/singing. I think Audrey's favorite part is that they play Disney princess songs for warm up and stretch time.  I thought Audrey would be too nervous to go into class without me but she's done great!  She always tells me, "we have to say bye to mom for dance class!"

She is enrolled from Sept. to May, and she'll have a recital this spring!

Ready for class!

Sorry the pictures are bad, I had to take them through two-way glass.

Stretching with Miss Cassie

Our Trip to the Happiest Place on Earth

When we found out that kids under 3 are FREE at Disneyland, we jumped on planning a little family vacation.  When we first put our down payment on the trip Audrey was really just into Mickey and Friends.  We weren't sure if she'd enjoy the entire Disney experience and I was nervous that it would be one big tantrum.  That was when she first turned two.  Fast forward a few short months and we have a Disney Princess fanatic on our hands.  At this point, we knew Disneyland was going to blow Audrey's little mind.  We knew she'd love seeing the princesses and all of the characters.  She was even excited for the rides!  Our only thought at this point was that maybe she'd be too shy or embarrassed to talk to or approach the characters.  Regardless, we were all excited to go on our trip!

We decided to drive to Anaheim.  It was a little bit cheaper than flying for us, plus we had the luxury of stopping and seeing lots of things on the way there.  We are so fortunate that Tony's family has a house in St. Gorge.  This allowed us to leave Tuesday evening after Tony got off work, drive the 4 hours to St. George, and stop for the night.  Audrey did great sleeping in the "big bed with mama."  We woke up the next day and started the last leg of our journey to Anaheim.  We stopped in Vegas for lunch, and didn't feel like going on the Strip, so we decided to just stop at Excalibur.  It's at the very end of the strip and it is a castle, for crying out loud.  Perfect for Miss Princess Audrey.  She was pretty excited to go in the castle, but once we got in she did not appreciate the over-stimulation of lights, noises, smoke, talking, people, etc.  (Neither did I, let's be honest)  We ate a quick lunch and got out of there.

I was really concerned about Audrey getting a good nap that day, because the next day was our first day in Disney.  If any of you know Audrey (or have a toddler) you know that no nap = no fun for anyone ever.  This girl NEEDS her nap.  She's not one of those kids that can deal with it for a day.  No way.  Plus, she wouldn't nap the day before.  I was SO happy when I looked over to see this sweet girl asleep.  She slept for two hours of our drive, and my stress was completely gone! :)

We finally got to our hotel, checked in, and went to the pool.  It was nice to have some time to just chill before our big day the next day!

Audrey woke us up bright and early to get ready for our first day at Disneyland!

Brushing her teeth, getting ready for the day

She loved this waterfall in the lobby of our hotel.  It was one of the highlights of the trip :)

When we got to the park we knew where we had to head very first.  Fantasy Faire - where the princesses are.  

...BUT WAIT....

She spotted Minnie Mouse!
Audrey saw Minnie right at the entrance of the park and we had to stop and say hi.  Audrey was SO excited to meet Minnie, and it was the perfect start to our day.

...Okay, now we can head to Fantasy Faire.

We were pretty lucky and got a really good spot in line.  We only had to wait 15 minutes to see the princesses!  The rest of the day was no different.  Wait times were minimal and it was great.  The park didn't feel crowded at all!  We did some research as to which times were least crowded, and we picked well!  With the Disney Wait Times app on our phones, and the lack of crowds at the park, we hardly waited for anything.  I think our longest wait was for Dumbo, around 10 minutes.  Anyway, the princesses that were there that day were Cinderella, Ariel, and Aurora.  They stayed the same the whole three days we were there, so Audrey didn't really get to see many other princesses.  She didn't care at all.

After we met the princesses, we took Audrey on some of the rides she's been talking about for months.

She loved Dumbo!  We rode it three times!

She's been talking about the Spinning Cups forever.  This was probably her favorite ride.  Although, she calls them "Minnie's Spinning Cups"  

On "It's A Small World"
 Rapunzel didn't show up for visitors until 11 am that day.  Audrey got pretty upset about it so Tony told her that Rapunzel had to eat her breakfast and brush her long hair.  She was very satisfied with that.  Makes sense, that girl's got some long hair!  Once we were done with a few rides, we finally got to see Audrey's hero.

After seeing Rapunzel it was getting close to nap time so we decided to go back to the hotel.  We couldn't get out of the park because so many characters were waiting around the entrance!  Audrey loved seeing Goofy, and loved taking a walk with Dale (who she refuses to call by his real name.  She's convinced his name is ChipandDale) ;)

We ate lunch at Carnation Cafe on Main Street, USA - expensive but SO yummy! - then finally headed back for a much needed rest.

Our initial plan was to return to Disneyland after our nap, but it closed early that day so they could decorate for Halloween.  We had to change our plans a bit so we headed to California Adventure.

Audrey loved the new Little Mermaid ride.  I must admit, it was probably one of my favorites, as well.  It was nice and cool and a really well done ride.

We got our carousel on and rode King Triton's Carousel.  It was all sea creatures and Audrey was thrilled to ride on a dolphin.  We tried to get her to ride an otter but she wouldn't do it.

We also rode the ferris wheel (or "ferrist wheel" if you're Audrey), Mater's Junkyard Jamboree (an Audrey favorite), and explored A Bug's Land.  Then we went back to our hotel room, ordered some yummy pizza, and called it a day.

Making some friends on our way out of the park.

We were lucky to have Tony's parents come and stay with Audrey while Tony and I had some time in the park by ourselves.  I told Tony it was by far my favorite date we've been on! We got to ride some of the "big kid" rides and got to spend some time together.  It was a nice, relaxing time and I'm really glad I got to have some time with just Tony.  We did Day 2 evening and Day 3 morning just the two of us.

Our second day in Disneyland with Audrey was one of our favorites.  Our plan was to head to Toon Town first, but when Audrey saw Fantasy Faire we had to do round two of princess visits.  It was the same princesses but we were first in line so they talked with her a whole lot more since no one else was there.

We finally made it to Toon Town only to realize it didn't open for another 15 minutes.  Tony had dropped us off and was riding the shuttle over so he was making his way over to meet us.  We were just sitting around, waiting for Toon Town to open, when we saw Merida skipping through the park.  Audrey sprinted for her.  Right before we left Audrey suddenly became way into Merida (don't ask me why!) so she was really thrilled to see her in person.

Merida was probably my favorite princess we met.  She was really great at acting the part.  When we saw her walking around she walked with that non-princess strut that she does in the movie.  Her accent was spot on and she just really did a great job.  

FINALLY we got to Toon Town, and we were there when they opened the gates.  Minnie, Goofy, Mickey, and Daisy Duck were all there to welcome their guests and Audrey got some VIP  treatment.  Audrey immediately ran to Minnie Mouse, who took her hand and walked her through ToonTown and right into her house. Audrey and Minnie played in her house in each of the rooms, and Audrey got to be first in line for pictures. She was thrilled!  We were talking about how Audrey didn't seem to realize how special it was because she loves Minnie, and sees them as friends.  Why wouldn't she take her hand, walk through town, and go to Minnie's house?  They're pals!

It was HOT that day, and Audrey and I were getting grumpy so after Toon Town we went to see the Disney Junior Live on Stage! show.  It was indoors and Audrey loved it.

Then, look who we found right outside the theater!

This was kind of the last day for Audrey in Disneyland.  We brought her back Saturday night because she was really sad she didn't get to see Pluto and didn't have his signature on her autograph frame.  Tony dropped us off, and Audrey and I sprinted to Toon Town.  I figured he would be there.  Tony called when he got to the park and informed me that he saw Pluto AT THE ENTRANCE.  So, we sprinted back, making it just in time.  Audrey was thrilled to see Pluto!  It was really cute.

It was a great trip and one we'll always remember.  We're so glad we decided to take Audrey.  She still talks about all of the things we did there.  It was so fun to see her experience it all!

Phew!  Mega post!  I'm proud of you for surviving that novel.