Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Part 4 Disney World!: Magic Kingdom

Anyway as mentioned earlier when we arrived at Magic Kingdom it was raining.  After a potty break at the bathrooms next to City Hall and getting checked in (which is not necessary unless you have special circumstances), we made our way to the Castle for pictures. By the time we got there the rain had started to break to a drizzle so wanted to get our pictures in.  I think I must tell you this was one of my biggest mistake ever. Ever I tell you!  Ever!!!

We had JUST gotten to Disney and the kids wanted to just kind of roam around and check things out, not be wrangled to stand like this, do this, smile.  Plus we were soaked; clothes stuck to us, soaked.  Emma changed from her Crocs into her nice red satin shoes that matched her dress just for pictures.  Also the kids were starving, Nick and I were hungry, but I didn't want to risk food stains on their outfits.  All around it was a bad idea.

Our pictures came out nice enough.  But the kids don't have big smiles of happiness but forced ones.  I feel bad I did that to them.  I wish I had just waited until later in the day and taken them then.  Some of you may be wondering why we didn't just try to take more later, and let me tell you, we tried.  But by then the kids remembered the first picture time so there was no way they were going to cooperate with us again.  And Nick was just getting plain fed up with me (he paid thousands for his kids to have fun, not me force them into pictures again!!!)

So I didn't win. Boo.  But it's my own darn fault.

Afterwards we grabbed lunch at Cosmic Ray's in Tomorrowland.  We went in September and snagged the free meal plan deal.  We upgraded to the Deluxe Dining plan for I think an extra $400.00!  I must tell you, I think the upgrade to the Deluxe plan was totally worth it!  I had oodles of friends warning me against this saying "all you'll do is wait to eat" but we really didn't.  Plus we are major foodies so getting to eat at some really fancy places was super exciting for us!  We ate at Cosmic Ray's which was a Quick Service meal.  Our meal was $65.00 and it tasted like horrible cafeteria food.  After that I was so glad we had upgraded to Deluxe meals.  *I highly recommend a meal plan!  It made it feel so much like a vacation.  All we did was give them our card and everything was taken care of.  Voila!  I didn't have to plan meals to take, or pack, or worry about finding meals to fit out budget, or even tip!  It all was on the card!

Oh and by the way, to explain: Quick Service Meals are basically where you go up to a counter and order.  Think burgers, wraps, etc. Sit down service is a restaurant either with a menu or a buffet.  On the deluxe meal plan we could order from anywhere.  It was so nice!

*A tip is to stay away from Cosmic Rays (or any quick service restaurant I'm guessing) at all cost during high traffic meal times.  There were so many people we literally could not get out of the restaurant.  It was a jam packed nightmare.  I'm not sure if it was because it was raining and people just ducked in or what.  It was our only experience with a quick service and it was so crowded.  Yeesh.

*Another tip: you can bring your own food in to Disney Parks.  I am uber cheap.  I mean tight wad extraordinaire but this trip I brought nothing.  But you can totally pack your own snacks or meals and bring them in.  If you're not on a meal plan I think this would definitely be the way to go.  Cosmic Rays (as I mentioned, the only quick service meal we had) was over $65.00 for the 4 of us to eat!  Nothing fancy: a couple of burgers, sodas, and kids meals.  It was quite a shock!

After that we were amped up, Mom had gotten the dumb pictures out of the way, our tummys were full, so now it was time to Disney it up!  We stopped at Merida's place where we could have a meet and greet with her and get her autograph.  Do you get Autographs?  Autographs are so fun!  I'll write about that in a later post. I wonder how many times I can fit autographs in here in this paragraph?  Autograph.  Ha!

Next it was time for some rides!  We decided to ride on the Iconic teacups and it was fabulous.  We had so much fun!  The children loved it and so did we.  Well, I did.  And Nick loved seeing the kiddos enjoying themselves.  But after the ride he felt sick.  That's right ladies and 34 year old husband got sick on the teacups!  Ha!

For the rest of the day he couldn't tolerate anything. He almost tossed his cookies on the train.  That's right folks, the scenic train that goes around the park at an alarming slow snail's pace was too much for him.  Oh Lord, help us all!  Geesh! 

 We managed to cram a lot into the day...the Dumbo ride, the Swiss Family Robinson house, the Aladdin ride...we tried to experience a lot.

By late afternoon though we ended up with these kind of kids...

So we headed back to the hotel for naptime before we had more fun.

*Mom tip...get your kids to nap!  Your schedule will not be the same as at home, just know that going into it.  You may be up until midnight some nights (the horror, I know!) so if your kids need to crash and burn at 5 for an hour, let them.  They are having so much fun, just make sure they get rest during the day.  It was nice for Nick and I to get off our feet and just relax in the hotel room while the kids either played quietly or slept.  And honestly (not making this stuff up!) they sometimes begged to go back to the hotel to have play time or to sleep.  It was hot, they were sticky and very sensory overloaded!

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Friday, March 8, 2013

It's a Fun and Silly Time We're Having Here

Well I've been posting my blog series about Disney but haven't blogged lately about our day to day life.  Here's just a peek at what's been going on around here...

 What can be more exciting than Sonic's happy hour?  Not much according to these little guys.  They love strawberry slushes...I love Dr. Pepper with Vanilla added.  Yummy!
 This guy has been over the moon lately about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!  He went to a Birthday party where he got this headband which he wears ALL of the time.  The other day his Lego magazine arrived and was so excited that it had the Turtles on it!  Turtle Power!
 The other day Emma was hanging out on her bed and I was tossing her clothes for her outfit of the day.  As you can see, this is what happened....poor dear :)
And so of course when Daddy came home she had to tell him about it.  As a result, they both thought at bedtime it would be hilarious to put unders on their heads.  They came downstairs for story time looking like this, singing a song they made up called "we love underwear".

Oh dear.  I love these two so much.  So cute!

Hope you have a Happy Weekend!
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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Part 3: Disney World! : Arriving at Magic Kingdom

Well being the meanest Mommy ever we settled into our room before hitting up the actual Disney part of Disney.  I had to get everything unpacked and ready to go.  I also had special little outfits that my friend who owns a business made for us.  I was able to send her a picture of a pair of matching outfits I spotted on Pinterest and she was able to recreate them.  And I loved them!  So we got ready to go and set out for the shuttle stop right outside of our hotel room.

And then the ominous clouds rolled in. * If you've never been to Florida just know, it rains almost every afternoon!  Be prepared!  Rain ponchos are a must!  I bought a ton of them from the Dollar Tree to take because who in the world would want to reuse a poncho??  I don't even know how you could?  It's all wet and you have to try to fold it back up?  For the birds!  Just consider buying them as one time use only!  They come two to the pack for a buck.  They were also useful for throwing all of our stuff in the stroller and then putting one over the stroller.

Anyway, the shuttle came and away we went.  I don't think I've ever been so excited in my life!  Is that pathetic of what????  I'm going with not pathetic, cool!  I kept squeezing Nick's hand in excitement!

As we were riding there big, thick drops started to wet the windows and by the time we got there a Monsoon had ensued.  Thunder, lightening, the works.  As the weather had warned us the week before, we were in for not the normal Florida showers here and there but rain all week, every day.  And not just rain, storms.  I have no beef with rain.  I do have beef with lightening as I'm holding an umbrella and pushing an aluminum stroller carrying my child.  That seems to logically pose a threat in my mind somehow.

So we waited at the station where the shuttle drops off.  And we waited, and we waited, and we waited.  Ugh.  Probably about 45 minutes later we decided it just wasn't going to stop.   So we made a run for it.  Magic Kingdom was right there and we were just holding it at an arm's length from our children.  Poor little dears.

So we went.  We ponchoed up, we ran.  We laughed.  In the end we made a memory and had fun.  And the mom part of me is still a little ticked that it rained.  Their little custom ordered outfits were a bust, Emma's shoes were ruined and everything was just blah and wet.  But I think that's just to me.  To the children they had a wonderful time and were in Disney!!!  And that is all that matters :)  I just need to remind my memory bank of that occasionally, lol =)

 Can you see the rain falling?  This is the first area you see in cute!  I just kept squealing (in my mind, of course!) We're here!!!  We're finally here!!!  Eeek!

 Poncho clad cute!  See Cal's? We had to tie it behind him it was so big on him!  Getting mad that mom and dad are trying to wait out the storm...grrr.  It was comforting to know that all of the flags on buildings there are actually lightening rods in disguise!  They've thought of everything!

 I hate being wet.  Nick knew I was sucking at enjoying this time.  So he started taking my picture.  Going to kill him!  This is my I'm appeasing you at the same time I'm plotting your death smile.

Welcome to Disney!  It's raining!  But we finally made it!!!

Here's our little rain soaked little boy.  I dragged him into the City Hall and he was freezing! Isn't he adorable???  

As we've talked about before, Cal is Autistic.  This did make me a little worried because there are so many things that he has a really hard time dealing with.  Put all of those things together away from home with tiredness and hunger factored in and well, we could very well end up in a very bad situation.  

Cal's doctor was EXTREMELY helpful with this.  She gave us helpful situations.  She prescribed a fast acting anxiety medication for him.  And she wrote a doctor's note for Disney explaining his condition.  So here comes my tip...

*If you need special arrangements or accommodations made go to City Hall at Magic Kingdom first (you may be able to start at any of the parks but I had read that getting a special accommodation at, say Animal Kingdom would not necessarily be valid at any of the other parks.  But if you get it first from Magic Kingdom you are in like Flinn at all of the other parks...hope that makes sense).   You do not need a Doctor's note (they wouldn't even think of looking at mine) and the person you are getting accommodations for needs to be there (so little Jacky can't go ride teacups while you get it for him, just an fyi). 

Anywho, Disney was very understanding.  They gave us a special pass for our stroller that allowed us to use it somewhat as a wheelchair.  That if he was freaking out and we needed to keep him in the stroller, we could wheel it on in to rides and things when strollers usually are not allowed.  *TIP: if they offer something, take it!  I thought, he doesn't really use a stroller so we don't need that. But the lady encouraged me to take it "just in case" and I am so thankful because by the end of the trip he was pulling the shade over him in the stroller and refusing to come out he was so overwhelmed.  Eek.  

Also, they gave us a pass which could basically be used as a Fast Pass.  I will say that Calvin is not severely Autistic.  We are very blessed.  So when we got these things I felt almost silly, he was such a sweet boy just having fun.  But crowds and small spaces cause him to freak, so when he started stimming and yelling, we would pull out the card and be able to use it.  It was so nice to use when we had to and a comfort to know we had it if we should need it but we thankfully didn't need to use it the entire time.  By the end of the week though we were having to use it a lot more but again, it was so, so nice to have when we needed it.  It truly made our vacation magical in times it could have become absolutely horrific.  (Seriously sometime when Cal stims he chokes me and that's just not fun folks!) 

Sorry this is taking so long, but it's my blog and I want to write every dab nabit thing down!  Did I say that right?  This may take months :)

Here are this posts blogged in a nutshell:
* Know it rains...a lot (I think.  Everytime I've been to Florida it's rained in the afternoon)
*Buy rain ponchos at Dollar Tree.  I bought enough to have four per person.
*If you need special accommodations on rides and things just ask what can be done.  City Hall at Magic Kingdom is a great place to start.

I'll continue with my blog series next week...stay tuned!
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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Part 2: Disney World! :Pirate Room at Caribbean Beach

As I mentioned in my first post, we stayed at Disney in the Resort, the Caribbean Beach.  There they have Standard Rooms as well as Pirate Rooms.  We opted for the Pirate Room in hopes that it would keep the kiddos occupied while we were.  Although it wasn't considered a suite, it was a nice upgrade from a standard room for not a lot of money.  We opted for a Pirate theme because Emma loves Ariel the Mermaid and Cal likes pirates so we thought it would be a good compromise. And it was.  There was so much girly stuff Cal had to endure that it was nice he got this.  And Emma likes to pretend she was on Eric's ship :)  And she likes to play pirates too!  Those two are just precious!!!
When we first got there, I ran ahead of the kids and Nick to "find the room" but secretly I was running like a mad woman to get to the room first so I could throw their personalized Mouse Ears on their bed as a surprise!  Above they had just discovered them and they really did think that the hotel had made them and left them for them.  It was so cute! I tried to do a lot of little things that didn't cost a lot of money to personalize the trip for them!  My secret wish is that they will go to Disney one day with their families and realize that all of that fun stuff that showed up was actually their old mom working behind the scenes to surprise them :)  

Anyway, check out their pirate bed!  How fun, right?  About two weeks before we left I was researching our room since my OCDness dictates apparently that I try to find out how  many hangers are in the room and how many washcloths there are, etc, etc.  Yes I am crazy.  Anywho, I was researching and found a kajillion blogs that explained that the pirate beds have specially made prison-like mattresses that are the most ungodly uncomfortable things ever.  Ever.  Like can't get out of bed because your back is in so much pain uncomfortable.  I was kind of freaked after that.  I kept calling Nick, debating if we should try to change rooms or if we even could so late in the game.  In the end we decided that we would just stick with the pirate rooms because the kids would love it.  In the end I am glad that we did.  Yes the beds were uncomfortable but we were so exhausted by the end of the day that it didn't really matter. And they weren't that was bearable. Which leads me to my next tip:

*Try not to let the research get the best of you.  I am a researcher and I know a ton of moms who are too so I know I am not the only one.  Don't let a lot of nit-picky people's opinions steal the joy of your vacation.   Remember that a lot of people nag things to death and so take everything with a grain of salt.  Also remember that this is the happiest place on earth so they aren't going to try to kill  you with the mattresses (I don't think, ha!) 
Here's Kazoo trying on her ears. She's checking her ears out in the mirror?  Isn't she just a doll?   Isn't she cute?  

Here's a good view of our room.  Everything is pirate-ish.  And I can't find pictures of it but our room came with a fridge that was hidden in a keg and our dresser looked like a stack of cargo...super cute!  The carpet even looked like planks of wood to give it that authentic pirate feel :)

 Here's Captain Calvin setting sail on our bed.  How cute is this little mate?  I so love that we were able to give them this trip and all of these memories.

 This was carved on the wall of our shower.  It was neat and everything is Pirate themed.  Seriously, everything!
 I will say that this was probably about the only thing with our room I didn't like.  This skull was on a large curtain that separated the sink area from the bedroom.  When the vanity lights were on the skull appeared to "glow".  The kids were freaked out by it and especially as they were trying to fall asleep with that looming over them in the room.  With the curtain opened it wasn't an issue so it really wasn't a big deal.  And what was behind that you might ask??

Ta-da!  Behind Curtain Number 1...

In the door to the right was the bathroom of the toilet and shower but the sinks were outside.  This is what was behind the creepy, scary skill.  Behind Nick in this photo was a closet area with a safe, closet rod, and long shelf.  It was a really, really nice set up.  With the curtain you could dress behind it away from the kiddos, I could get ready at the sink without waking everyone and someone else could be taking a shower or going potty.  Loved the layout!  I also loved that the closet was right there and there was tile in that area because I could hang wet suits, put my makeup on the shelf over the clothes; it was just plain convenient.

So there's a little tiny tour of our room.  Hope that helps answer some questions regarding the Pirate Rooms if you are considering them for your trip! Please let me know if you have any questions...I'd love to try to help :)
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Monday, March 4, 2013

Part 1: Disney World! :Arriving & Caribbean Beach Resort

Five months ago we visited the most magical place on Earth: Disney World!!!  I cannot believe I haven't posted about it.  I thought for sure I did and then as I was going through past posts I couldn't find any of the I must not have ever gotten around to it!  To be honest with you when we got home we had thousands and thousands of pictures from multiple cameras to sort through and it got a little overwhelming, to say the least!  

Plus on the first day of our vacation Cal got sick and by the end of it we were all we all came home battling illness and the massive laundry piles!  

I know I did post about our stay in Tifton, Georgia on the way to Disney.  I would highly recommend staying there if you are traveling an extended amount of time to Disney.  Tifton was about 4-5 hours away from Disney so it really helped us break up our drive.  Disney is about 20 hours away from our house and we knew we absolutely did not want to spend 20 hours driving and arrive to Disney with the adults exhausted and the kids raring to go.  Stopping in Tifton broke our trip up in that we drove about 15 hours the first day, crashed for the night, then woke up and left about 5 in the morning...getting us to Disney before 10 am...perfect!!!!

But now onto the pictures and about our trip!  I am going to try to post the annoying tourist shots I took too since there may be lots of you out there like how I was: someone who had never ever been to Disney.  It was  a little terrifying exciting planning a trip to Disney with no previous experience!  Here we go: 

 We arrived Tuesday, September 18th to Disney World...this is the site you are greeted with upon arriving.  There were huge signs telling us not to stop but luckily I have a husband who will boldly break rules when I beg him to stop!  First time Disney lady with a brand new camera...make way!
 Here's Emma's face upon arriving.  She doesn't look excited or anything, right? :)  Love our beautiful girl!  Alright and the stupid blogger isn't letting me comment below the next picture but I'm sure you can see that this Cal is below and this was his face upon our arrival. So excited!!!

Here is the site upon us entering the Resort part of the adventure.  Now to find our's gotta be around here somewhere...
Here was Hollywood Studios...

And The Swan Resort...excuse the bluriness as my husband is driving probably 60ish miles per hour...he wants his kiddos to get to Disney!
 *One of the things I wish someone had told me that Disney has roads and interstates all it's own. It's nothing like welcome to Disney and you're here! It's more like Welcome to Disney now follow this map and half an hour later you'll find (hopefully!) your destination.    There are a lot of signs but it's easy to get turned around!

The Caribbean Beach Resort!  We're finally here!!!  One of the things I love is how Disney makes so much effort to make you feel like you are really at whatever destination is designated for your hotel.  Since the Caribbean was our theme there was tons of calypso music, umbrella drinks, and palms.  They even bring people in from whatever country your hotel is from.  It almost felt like we were in Disney at the parks and at the Caribbean when we were at our hotel...very nice! 

Here's Emma upon arriving at the hotel.  Fresh out of the car after 4 and a half hour.  And I was dismayed to see that the poor dear inherited my Islandy hair.  It only gets worse from here kiddo!  

Here's a random shot of what the hotel rooms looked life.  Each resort is HUGE!  Ours was seperated into Caribbean Islands with each cluster of that islands' buildings being a different color.

At the Caribbean everything is really spread out which I loved!  There is a seperate building just for checking in and out.  Here we are getting all checked in!  Oh yes, and make sure you tell them you are first timers!  They had buttons waiting for us and these balloons!  I'm sure they will give them to you without telling them ahead of time but it made the kiddos feel super special that all of this stuff was ready for just them! 

*Another tip: Can you see in the picture above that the three of them are all in pink?  I do that on purpose in case I ever lost one of them.  I always try to get them to match either Nick or me. It helps me spot them in crows.  Plus, It's a good practice for when you have lost your child and your mind turns to goo and you can barely remember your own name (if this has never happened to you, praise God for that!). Anyway, if that happens I can look at my outfit or Nick's and think they are wearing either blue or pink...and that usually jogs my memory.  
Here was our hotel room's building.

*We worked a lot with the Disney planning people to ensure we had a good room and location for us.  Explaining Cal was Autistic and HATES being upstairs got us a first floor room close to the parking lot and the shuttle so we could dash quickly when needed.

*Again this is the most magical place on Earth so if you have special requests, make them known!  The worst that can happen is that they say no, but it never hurts to try.  I talked to tons of friends before we went to get a sense of what I would be up against mom wise and I knew I would be leaving things out in the car, needing to get a screaming kid down for a nap, and so for us I for went the water view in favor of a parking lot view that afforded me the luxury of dashing out to the car when necessary.  Just my viewpoint. :)

This picture is more for me just to remember that we stayed in Trinidad South, but it also shows you that they give you a cute map of the resort...see how big it is?  The Caribbean has a lake in the middle of it with beach and boat fun!

Okay tomorrow I will be posting more...stay tuned :)

Summary of my tips for Disney in this post:
*If driving try to stop for the night somewhere before you get to Disney so when you arrive you are all on the same playing field, sleep wise.
*Disney is huge and there are a lot of roads and streets, ramps and exits.  Be a good co-pilot for your husband because it can be easy to get turned around.
*Color theming your wardrobes comes in handy for spotting a child in a crowd or, God forbid, you need to tell security what your child is wearing.
*Be specific about what you want in your room.  Want a ground level floor? Ask for it?  Want to be close or far away from the parking lot?  Ask for it.  Close to a shuttle?  Ask.  The worst that can happen is that it won't happen.
*Try to cover all of your bases in thinking through how your family operates.  We are leave your junk in the car people so we like to be close to the lot.  If you don't have your car with you maybe you'll benefit better from a water view :)

Happy Planning!

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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Ice Fishing

This past Sunday we went up to Nicholas' Grandmother's house to go Ice Fishing.  She lives on a lake which she assured us was frozen enough so off we went.  

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house we go...
 There was no way in this whole wide world that I was going to go on the ice.  I stood on the pier with my mom parts all in a ball of worry as my children stood in the middle of a frozen lake with 40 degree temperatures warming the earth.

I was so, so scared the ice was going to crack and just envelope the whole fold of them.


The picture above is Emma and a friend of Nick's Grandma's, Keith, who was taking them out.

 Nicholas and Calvin making their way.

 Calvin on the ice....allow me to interject an EEEEK!
Here they are doing the actually fishing. Nick had the camera.  So at this point my beautiful children, my hot hubby, and my uber expensive camera are all standing on ice in the middle of the lake.  Oh joy.
Here's a picture of Nick's mother and me standing on the dock.  At this point I think we were both yelling at them, trying to entice them inside with hot cocoa.  Heehee.
They are pretty cute ice fishing though :)
I mean, seriously, look at all that water!!!  Freaking out looking at these photos!  And they are safe in our living room right now, ha!

They finally came inside and I was okay.  I stopped hyperventilating a few hours minutes later and realized they had a lot of fun and got to experience something interesting!
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