Tuesday, May 19, 2015

One year

A year ago, my wife and I, still very tired from a long plane flight yet unable to sleep from excitement, boarded a bus outside our hotel with two other families and took a short trip into forever.

What can I say about the year that's gone by?  Magical?  Miracle?  Wonderful?  There aren't words enough in the English language.  Caroline - our daughter - has been nothing short of a blessing for us.  She's playful and affectionate and loving and smart and adventurous and sometimes obstinate.  A smile from her makes my day.

Almighty God, thank you for my little girl, and make me half as good a father to her as she is a daughter to me.  In Jesus' name, Amen.

Friday, May 15, 2015

What she's up against (pt 3)

I have in the past written about the problems with "beauty" I expect Caroline to face as she grows older.  At risk of once again sounding like an old fudd, I wonder about the pressures that girls face to be "sexy" and worry about what my daughter will face in another ten or fifteen years.  For example:

Female students at a Connecticut High School are furious that dresses bought for this weekend's prom are being banned because they have exposed shoulders, backs, sides and legs. One mother—whose daughter had two dresses rejected—said, "They've suggested the girls wear T-shirts under their dresses. My daughter won't wear a T-shirt. She would be mortified."*

I leave it to the interested reader to look at some examples of the prohibited dresses in the linked article.  Some, frankly, I didn't find too objectionable, though I might feel differently if it was MY daughter wearing them.  Others... "Not only are you NOT leaving the house dressed like that, young lady, but consider yourself grounded for the next ten years!"

It's a pity that girls feel - are MADE to feel - that they've got to make displays of themselves (though I confess that the ghost of the eighteen year-old Jim is saying - rather loudly - "More display, please!").  Chrystal and I have talked about this sort of thing, and we both think that it's possible not only for a girl to dress attractively without dressing provocatively, but also that we HOPE to teach Caroline to do the former without referring to us, so that Ol' Baba hasn't got to tell her that she's NOT leaving the house dressed in a certain way.


(*) Via Hot Air.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A month

I see that a month has gone by since last posting.  What a month it's been!  We took a family vacation to Disney in Florida, took Half-pint to the local science museum for a day trip, and have celebrated my wife's first official Mother's Day.


I now understand why we never took many family trips when I was a child as they are EXHAUSTING!  Caroline, I'm happy to say, does well in a car: keep her in snacks and water and give her the occasional DVD to watch, and she's pretty content.  I add at this point that I'm very glad that many gas stations have coin-operated vacuum cleaners!

She also did quite well at Disney.  We were afraid that she would not enjoy the rides (more exactly, that she would throw a screaming fit at the very sight of one), but, happily, this was not the case.  Far from it: she seems to enjoy rides and, in fact, demanded to ride them.  Funny thing: I would have to say that her favorite ride was the parking tram! (She thought it was a train)

A few of the many pics from the trip:

Ready to go on the first day.
Our first major event was breakfast with several of the Disney characters.  Caroline LOVES the cartoons "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" and "Minnie's Bow-Tunes", so we thought that she would love to meet the characters.  Well...

"I know who that is.  But... he's a lot bigger than I thought!"
She quickly got used to seeing them.

"I love Minnie Mouse!"
We were lucky that another very special guest was able to attend breakfast with us.

My grandmother and her youngest great-granddaughter.
After breakfast, it was time to hit the park for rides and the Moment of Truth: would Caroline be terrified of them, rendering our trip to Disney a sleeveless errand?

"Why don't you come with me little girl
On a magic carpet ride"
I'm happy to report that, though she had a little initial trepidation, she enjoyed the rides.  We were especially gratified when she saw the "Barnstormer" roller coaster from the "Dumbo" ride, pointed, and said, "Ride that!" Indeed, there were several rides that she wanted to try but is still too young.  Given that her grandmother is already planning a return trip in a couple of years, I think she'll get her wish.  Eventually.

We didn't confine ourselves to Disney.  We drove over to Clearwater to see the aquarium and the tailless dolphin, Winter.  About this trip I will say little beyond that the traffic caused me to announce my intention to write to my senator about exploring the possibility of getting Spain to take Florida back.  Honestly, when you've got less than a mile to go and the trusty GPS tells you that it's going to be ANOTHER twenty-four minutes... Well, I may have threatened that, "If I'm in a turn-only lane, so help me, I'm gonna lose my sh!t" at one point.  Suffice it to say that I'm trying to put Clearwater behind me.  On the plus side, Caroline petted a sea urchin and tried very hard to pet a stingray.  She's pretty fearless.

We also visited the Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa for their Chinese Lantern Festival.  It was gorgeous, especially after dark.  Well worth a visit.

The weather in Florida was generally good throughout our trip: cool, sunny, and usually a nice breeze.  Quite a pleasant difference from other Florida trips we've made when the weather has been hot, muggy, and hot.  And hot.  Did I mention hot?  We did get a bit of rain for two days.  On the second, while Chrystal was stuck in the hotel room doing work (it's very hard to own your own business), I got Half-pint wrapped up and headed for the park.

First boat trip on the Magic Kingdom ferry.
Honestly, I might not have gone (the sky DID look quite threatening), but we had lunch reservations at Be Our Guest.  I will give Disney full credit: while they charge premium prices for food, it's very good and they don't stint on the portions.  Caroline had a double-chocolate (what else???) cupcake for dessert.  It was a thing of beauty... for about five seconds.

Naturally, what Disney vacation with a little girl in tow would be complete without princesses?  We had two breakfasts with them, one in the Castle, and the other at the Norway pavilion in EPCOT (again, I must compliment Disney: the meals were not cheap, but the food and the service were both absolutely first-class).  Caroline didn't quite know what to make of the princesses at first, and we were... a little worried.

"Look, blondey: there's only room for ONE princess in this kingdom, and you're looking at her!"

But, our fears didn't materialize, and Caroline eventually became almost as comfortable around the princesses as she did the other characters.  I was gratified to find that her favorite character is also my favorite.

Unlike at their first meeting, she RAN to see Donald when we were at the Mexico pavilion in EPCOT.

During our last few days in Florida, we were joined by my niece, on leave from her military service in Washington State.  My grandmother was very happy to see her two youngest great-granddaughters.

And, eventually, it was time to head home to No. Carolina.  The trip was good.  It was also very much a learning experience for me and Chrystal.  Caroline, as I have indicated, is a pretty easy-going child: keep her in Goldfish crackers and something to drink and she's usually content.  We DID learn, however, that a mid-afternoon nap is a must.  Otherwise, she gets punchy in the early evening, and punchy quickly gives way to whiny, which rapidly turns to screaming and crying.  Happily, our hotel was not far from the parks, so it was fairly easy - once we learned the warning signs - to zip back to the car and get her to bed so that the evenings would go well.  We had to give up several dinner reservations, Fast Passes, and other events simply because we knew that we'd be pushing the Red Line if we went.  Well, such is life.  I'm pretty sure that Caroline enjoyed the trip, and that's the important thing.

Even if it meant that a certain long-suffering Ol' Baba had to endure "It's a Small World" FOUR friggin' times in a row.

Long-suffering, but oh-so-proud of his little girl!


Nothing to say here but Happy (first) Mother's Day to my wife, with hopes and wishes for many, many more to come.


(*) I would like to put in a plug for our hotel.  We have stayed twice at the Sheraton Lake Buena Vista Resort in Orlando, and I definitely recommend it as a good family hotel.  By using our hotel points, we were able to stay for a very low cost, and they let us up-size our room to a small suite at no extra charge so that my niece didn't have to get a room of her own.  The hotel is very convenient to Disney and is surrounded by a number of restaurants and shops.

I add that one of the nearby restaurants is Sweet Tomatoes.  This is an all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar that provides a pretty reasonably-priced way to get a meal heavy with fresh fruits and vegetables while on vacation.  Even I get tired of McDonalds.