2013 Anniversary Trip

October 31, 2013 0 comments

We decided this year that we would "try out" a Disney cruise for our anniversary with the idea that we would take Adam on one in the future. We try to get away on a trip without Adam every year about this time, and it is something I highly recommend doing. It is a great opportunity to reconnect, and we are blessed to have my parents close by to take care of Adam.

We took a three-day cruise to Nassau and Castaway Cay (Disney's private island) on the Disney Dream. I went on the "Big Red Boat" in 1985, which was Disney's partnership with Premier Cruise Lines before they started their own cruise line. As with everything else Disney does, they have gotten cruising right, and no detail is too small. Plus, it's like cruising with our best friends - Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto.

We also spent a day at Epcot and Magic Kingdom after the cruise. It was our first opportunity to try out Magic Bands, and I was pleasantly surprise with how well they worked.

Here are the pictures!

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first day of kindergarten reflections

August 1, 2013 0 comments

I wanted to get my thoughts down about today while they are still fresh in my mind. Adam woke up

at 5:30 this morning, and so I'm winding down fast.

- Last year at preschool, Adam was in the oldest group, and so he looked big and I felt like I had a big kid. Now, he looks tiny again.

- We have been preparing Adam for kindergarten for a long time, and I think it really paid off. He told us he wanted to ride the bus this morning, and so we let him and told him we would meet him at the school to take pictures. I really don't get very emotional about these things, but when that giant bus rounded the corner and the lights started flashing, reality hit me. I know we're not sending him out into the "real world," but that's what it feels like sometimes. Thankfully, I held it together. He got on the bus and didn't look back. I had to get him to turn around so I could take his picture. I was so proud.

- The staff at his school was amazing. I know it was stressful for them and that not everything went perfectly, but they handled it very well. Being greeted by the principal as we walked up (without Adam since he was on the bus) meant a great deal.

- I'm glad we have a long weekend to regroup before heading into a full week.

- I am immensely grateful I felt good today and was headache-free so I could be fully present for the experience.

- By far the greatest blessing of today has been all the people who have asked about Adam and told us how proud they are of him and how happy they are for him. This morning I was getting texts faster than I could respond to them. We are incredibly blessed to have so many people who care about our little family.

- Adam's education will have lots of challenges, but I'm glad we got a good start today. I'm trying not to think too far ahead into the future, and trying to enjoy the small, sweet moments while they last.

The day he was born, we began the process of letting him go. Today was just another step of that process. 

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Adam's First Disney Trip

April 22, 2013 0 comments

People have asked us since before Adam was born, "When are you going to take him to Disney?" (He went four times in my belly.) Our answer the past couple of years has been "Whenever he goes to the potty or can pay for himself, whichever comes first." Well, let's just say we paid for this trip. Seriously, we've been enough times to see plenty of kids there who are too young to appreciate it and would rather be somewhere else. Adam is also 43 inches tall, which means he can ride pretty much everything, height-wise.

We decided a long time ago that we wanted Adam's first Disney experience to be at Disneyland, and so he needed to be able to handle at four-plus hour flight. There are several reasons for this:

1) Disneyland was the only park Walt Disney ever saw completed. You can feel him there. There is something more nostalgic, more pure, and maybe even more magical there. 

2) Size and scope. In California, there are two parks instead of four, and they are a few hundred yards apart. It is much less overwhelming. Off-property hotels are in walking distance of the parks. The hotel where we stayed in a two-room suite was in the $88-$150 range and closer to the parks than the Disneyland Hotel. We never had to ride a parking tram, ferry, or monorail to get to the parks. If you've ever asked us for advice on where to stay at Walt Disney World, we will always say stay on Disney property if at all possible. It is a totally different situation there.

3) Cars Land. Several years ago, Disney decided to spend a BILLION dollars on Disney California Adventure and make it the all-day park it should always have been. You can tell. Basically, they recreated Radiator Springs from the Cars movies in real life. It is amazing. Adam has loved the Cars movies since before he could talk. All the parks have princesses a-plenty, and now there is finally something for boys. We didn't tell Adam about Cars Land before we went, and he was pretty excited when he figured it out. If you have a boy, it is worth the trip to California. There is talk of putting a Cars Land at Disney Hollywood Studios in Florida, but it would be several years away.

Patrick posted on Facebook what we learned about doing Disney with a kid:

So, after my first trip to a Disney park with a kid, I COMPLETELY understand how there are people that say, "I hate going to Disney." Here's how to avoid that:

- Set expectations. Do not go in without a plan. Do not walk in the gate and allow your child to be the driver for what you do. If you approach each day with a TouringPlans, you will get tons of fun in a short amount of time. Make them a part of checking off the list. Explain to them that if they see something that they want to do, you'll take a picture of it with your phone so that you can remember. Then, when you've done ten rides in ninety minutes, you can branch out and do things you missed.

(I've heard lots of arguments about why this is not a good idea - lack of spontaneity being the top one. Here's the deal though: I'd rather trade four non-spontaneous hours to have eight truly happy spontaneous ones any day.)

- Give yourself enough time daily, and for the length of your stay. Set alarms and reminders so that you are ahead of schedule all the time. An unrushed morning, nap time, or meal can go a long way to rejuvenate. Add a day more to your vacation than you think you're going to need.

- Budget. Don't complain about the costs of things. Or, if you feel like you have to complain, do it in advance and zip it for the trip. In fact, save up more than you think you need for the trip, and then be happy when you have money left over. This was my first trip to REALLY do that, and we are underspending by a long shot.

- If you have multiple kids, divide and conquer. Let the preschoolers go with one parent and the grade schoolers with another.

- Pack snacks. For everyone. An 8 oz can of Coke is a great in-line boost for the parents, and a juice box can reset an attitude in a second (or at least silence a whine.)

- If your child is under 40 lbs, plan to have him/her on your shoulders. A lot. Work out beforehand. Do squats. Little legs get tired faster than big legs. Face it.

- Don't tolerate whining. Explain that whining results in leaving, and that will help. Don't hesitate to "stop the car" in the middle of the park and have an eye-to-eye conversation with your preschooler.

- Understand there will be times when you do things that seem counter intuitive, like hiking through Tarzan's Treehouse when there are better rides right next door, or not using your Radiator Springs Racers fast passes at the end of the day, or a three hour nap when you paid $80 a day for park tickets. Not the end of the world.

- Enjoy your kids enjoying things. Put down the camera, and put down the smartphone, and put down your agenda, and be amazed at the amazement that they are experiencing.

Bottom of Form- One more tip. There is exactly no rule of thumb when it comes to what your kids like, and you have no way of anticipating it. For instance, Adam has decided that he is not a fan of dark rides. So no Peter Pan, no Snow White. He did, however, surprise us with roller coasters. What's important is that we listened and found this out. With multiple kids, this is where "divide and conquer" is vital.

The weather was pretty cool when we were there, and so you won't see any of the cute t-shirts I took for Adam in the pictures. We were wearing coats and hoodies pretty much the whole time. Somehow, in Southern California, even cool temperatures are more pleasant.

Also, because of the time change, we didn't do any of the nighttime shows. Adam did a good job of telling us when he was done for the day.

Enough talking. Here are the pictures.

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Things I need to remember the next time I reinstall OS X from scratch:

July 29, 2012 0 comments

Reinstall Google cloud print. Figure out how to keep my iPod/iPhone I'm acting like it's a new computer. Figure out how to keep Google play from wanting to re-upload everything. Not much else, really. I decided to do a clean install of Mountain Lion this time because our 2007 iMac was really getting pretty sluggish. The neat thing is that there are a lot of iCloud preferences that just magically reappeared when I launched the new operating system. I didn't have to use "migration assistant" or anything. As far as snappiness, it appears about the same, except we have less beach balls. I do feel like I've shoveled quite a bit of data through our pipe, so I'll be interested to see how close we are to our cap this month.

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Fun in the Smokies

July 15, 2012 0 comments

This year, Patrick's grandparents will celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary. They decided that instead of a party, they would like for us all to get together for a few days. So, we rented a cabin in Gatlinburg, and fifteen of us - our family, Patrick's brother and his family, Patrick's sister and her husband, Patrick's parents, his aunt and uncle, and Pop and Polly (the grandparents) all gathered for some laid-back fun in the Smokies. The cabin had seven bedrooms and a game room, which was a big hit with the cousins, ages 3, 4, and 7, and plenty of room for adults to talk and work a jigsaw puzzle. Monday was spent exploring Gatlinburg and resting at the chalet, and on Tuesday, one group went to Dollywood, while another group went outlet shopping and out for lunch. It was a great time to visit and enjoy being together!

Click here for pictures!

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over the river and through the woods

May 31, 2012 0 comments

We went to Dayton, Ohio for a Memorial Day weekend visit with Patrick's grandparents. Adam is very interested in planes and rockets now, and so we thought it would be a good time for his first visit to the National Museum of the United States Air Force. Pop (Patrick's grandfather) has flown many of the aircraft displayed there. It was even more special visiting there on Memorial Day weekend.

We played at Pop and Polly's house on Saturday afternoon and went to Oinkadoodlemoo for supper. They have really good barbeque, and the name is fun to say. They even have something rare in Ohio - sweet tea!

On Sunday, we went to church at First Baptist Kettering, where my friend from my youth group days, Chad Keck is pastor. Adam had such a good time in Sunday School there that he didn't want to leave!

We headed back on Monday morning fueled by Timbits from Tim Hortons and making the usual stop at IKEA in West Chester.

Also, we discovered that Adam's understanding of the word "target" is limited to the retail establishment:

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Merry Christmas 2011!

December 7, 2011 0 comments

We hope you have all had a wonderful 2011 and are looking forward to great things in the coming year. Adam is growing and learning more every day, and keeping us very busy! He will turn four at the end of January.

Adam continues to enjoy preschool. He went from two days to three days a week this fall, and his favorite things at school include feeding the gerbils and playing on the playground. His teachers say he is a smart kid and are pleased with his progress. He really wants to read... he knows some words and is writing with help and wants to know what everything says. His curiosity is wonderful and exhausting at the same time!

At church, Adam has lots of friends and many gifted teachers. Adam frequently asks to go to church when he wakes up, but many days we must explain that there aren't any activities for him there that day. Nashville's new convention center is being built directly behind our church, and Adam has enjoyed seeing the construction as it progresses. We continue to be involved in the music ministry at church and teach a newlywed Sunday School class.

In June, we all were able to attend the Waggener family reunion (Patrick's grandfather's side) in Martin, Tennessee. Adam got the award for the youngest family member present (3 years old), and Patrick's grandfather (Pop) got the award for the oldest person present. (91 years old).  We visited sites relating to family history and were able to spend quality time with relatives.

We had some more family time in July when Patrick and Lydia went to California for cousin Stephanie's wedding. Adam stayed in Nashville with Lydia's parents. We even managed to squeeze in some time with Mickey Mouse over the long weekend in the Los Angeles area.

Also in July, Patrick and Lydia had the amazing experience of attending a U2 concert at Vanderbilt Stadium. It was incredibly hot, but we had a great time and will never forget that night.

Patrick continues his work as the project leader for lifewayworship.com and has taken on an additional challenge this year working on a special project with LifeWay's technical development team. Outside of his day job, he has also worked with Keith and Kristyn Getty on their marketing and social media, played keyboard for a musical at the private school attached to Adam's school, and for our church's production of Celebrate Life! this past spring.

Just before Thanksgiving, we entered into a major home renovation project when we had our kitchen countertops replaced. It was quite an inconvenience and disruption, but we are now enjoying our beautiful new countertops and sink.

While we can't see all of our friends and family as much as we would like, we love keeping up with people through Patrick and Lydia's Facebook pages. We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and blessed new year!

-Patrick, Lydia, and Adam Watts

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