Monday, April 28, 2014

Our Epic Florida Trip: Day 13- Magic Kingdom

On our first full day of vacation with my parents we decided to go big and start with the Magic Kingdom itself!  And let me just say that place was CRAZY!!!
I think it could best be summed up for us like this:  It was unbelievably crowded and it was hot, but the kids had a great time, my parents and I had a good time because the kids loved it so much, and it was pretty much Joe's worst nightmare (though he really did try)!
We thought we were getting there at a decent time in the morning (right around when it opened) except what we didn't know is that it would take us nearly an hour from when we parked in the lot to when we walked through the entrance gates.  There was a tram car, then the ticket counter, then the monorail, then the ticket collector, and the bag check and then finally we walked through the entrance...seriously almost an hour!

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We got our classic Disney photo shortly after entering the park...and you can sort of tell we already look a little disheveled (good thing Bubba was in line at Starbucks while we were taking this photo)!  We then made a classic mistake and separated from my mom while she got our Fast Passes for the day.  Honestly, as we waited in line for "It's a Small World" I wondered if we would ever see my mother again!  Thank goodness she found her way back to us and was waiting for us at the end of the ride!:)  Liam got a little nap in with Joe will we rode a few rides (The Little Mermaid ride that morning was Lily's favorite).  And all of us (except Bubba) got to ride the teacups...

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Magic Kingdom28 (1 of 1)  Those things can really spin!
And then we had lunch and got a break from standing in lines.  Oh my, the was crazy...a few of them weren't too bad, but many of them had wait times over a hour!
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Eli waiting in one of the many lines!:) We were so thankful for our Fast Passes- especially for this ride...

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My mom took these pictures of the pictures that the ride took of them shooting the aliens on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin!  I kid you not when I tell you that Eli actually shot more aliens on this ride than I did (but in my defense I was holding Liam)!  And I just can't get over my mom's face in the picture!!

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And then Eli insisted on meeting Buzz Lightyear! Buzz ended up being the only character we waited in line to see the whole vacation...and for Eli it was worth it! Meanwhile Joe was changing the baby's diaper and Lily and Bubba got trapped on some ride that stopped working so I think that mom, Eli, and I got the better end 
of the deal on this one!
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Then we battled some serious crowds, saw the Monster Comedy Show, and visited a few more attractions. With the baby due for a nap everybody else headed off for the Pirates of the Caribbean ride while Liam and I managed to find a little secluded spot in the shade where there weren't too many people.  It took a little work, but pretty soon...

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I was so happy that he finally fell asleep (and that I could sit down in the shade and rest too)! Magic Kingdom27 (1 of 1) 
Considering how crowded and hot it was this little spot (right near the back of the ride)was quite the find. Except that what I didn't know is that the Magic Kingdom has a pirate themed treasure hunt of sorts that had guests searching for clues. It just so happened that we parked ourselves near two of those clues. See those skulls in this picture? Every time somebody came in search of a clue those skulls would come alive and start talking! That was annoying, but not too bad. What was awful was that right across from us was another was some sort of carving and when people waved something in front of it it sort of came alive and made an awful sound like a loud air compressor being shot. It made the baby jump every time (but mostly stay asleep thankfully). There was really nowhere else I could see that was in the shade or not surrounded with people so we stayed put, but every time I saw somebody approaching I felt like offering to pay them money to skip those clues!:)
The family was in line for the Pirates of the Caribbean for a little over an hour (crazy, I tell you)! It was Eli's favorite ride, but I think it was sort of the last straw for Joe and Bubba!  Joe had been trying really hard all day to have a good attitude and have fun, but crowds, heat, and long lines are just about Joe's least favorite things.  Poor guy.  He was hanging in there until this ride.  Then we all needed a little blood sugar boost so we stopped for a snack.  While we were eating we could see Goofy and Donald Duck dancing around by Cinderella's Castle and Bubba decided to take Lily and Eli down to check it out.  Well, that ended up being very cool.  Turns out it was a whole show being put on with all of the major Disney characters including Micky and Minnie AND all of the Disney princesses.

Magic Kingdom9 (1 of 1)  It might look far from here, but it was actually decently close. Magic Kingdom10 (1 of 1) Magic Kingdom12 (1 of 1) Lily and Eli were totally engrossed in the show and it actually ended up being one of the best parts of the day (and one that we didn't even plan)! Magic Kingdom13 (1 of 1) Magic Kingdom14 (1 of 1) 
It was pretty great to see all of the characters so close (without even having to stand in a single line)! And that gave us enough energy to agree to one last ride...The Flying Dumbos! Magic Kingdom15 (1 of 1) The cool thing about this ride is that the area you wait in actually has a whole play place with slides and other things for the kids to climb on (they should do this for ALL of the rides)! Magic Kingdom16 (1 of 1) Even Liam got to ride Dumbo! Magic Kingdom17 (1 of 1) Magic Kingdom18 (1 of 1) Magic Kingdom19 (1 of 1) And then we loaded up and headed out (which might have been Joe's favorite part of the day)... Magic Kingdom21 (1 of 1) Magic Kingdom20 (1 of 1)
And then we tried to leave the Magic Kingdom...but apparently it's as hard to leave as it is to get in!:)  We tried to ride the monorail back to our car, but apparently the monorail doesn't operate during any of the afternoon/early evening hours (we were trying to leave at about 6:30p.m.).  So after going back and forth a few times we finally got in a massive line to ride the water ferry back to our car.  Honestly this is where I thought we might ALL loose it.  The line was SO long and I imagined that we were going to be there for well over an hour...but we didn't have any other choice.  But amazingly a few minutes later the next ferry came and much to our amazement we made it on that ferry (they hold an incredible amount of people)...we were so happy!
And that, in brief, was our day at Magic Kingdom!  Joe will in fact tell you that it is not the happiest place on earth, but all things considered it was a pretty good day!  The kids were AMAZING...seriously amazing!  Lily and Eli waited patiently in every single line without fussing or complaining or fighting (truly they fight more over which chair they will sit in at dinner when they are home)!  And Liam was incredible...barely a fuss out of that sweet baby all day long.  I couldn't have been happier with them.  And while the crowds and heat may have gotten to the adults a bit the kids really had a wonderful time and that was the most important thing!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Our Epic Florida Trip: Day 12- Grammy & Bubba Arrive

When we originally planned this trip we had something really exciting planned for this day.  We were going to swim with the manatees!!  We found this great place about an hour and a half outside Orlando that does really reasonable boat tours where you get to be in the water and swim with the manatees.  We heard about this through friends a number of years ago and knew we had to do it.  Sadly it's still on our "bucket list."  When I originally looked it up the website said that there is no age limit.  Obviously I knew that Liam wasn't going to go in the water...I just figured that Joe and I would take turns staying with him on the boat.  But when I went to book the reservation (after we were in Florida) I learned that they require children to be at least two just to get on the boat.  This would have been nice information to put on their website.  Oh well.  Joe and the kids were so excited about it though that after mulling it over a bit I decided to bite the bullet and let them go without me (and the baby).  But by the time we got back around to booking the trip they were already full for this morning...they also said that because of a warm weather snap there hadn't been many manatees around (so maybe we saved ourselves some time and money and effort in the end).  It was disappointing, but I have a feeling between work and family that we will end up back in Florida some day and this will give us something to look forward to!:)
So, suddenly we ended up with a pretty wide open day...which was really pretty nice.  Joe took the kids to the pool, Liam got in a good nap and we even found time to hit up the Lego Store in Downtown Disney.  Now, I don't know if it's because it was St. Patrick's Day (and they have a big Irish restaurant/bar there) or because it was rainy out (and people go shopping when it's raining instead of to the theme parks) but Downtown Disney (and especially the Lego Store) was totally nutso.  Honestly I didn't think we would find a parking spot...ever.  But after a while we did and then fought the crowds to check out the cool Lego creations.  It was so crowded inside the store that this was the best I could do...

Day1 (1 of 1) And then the kids each got to fill a small bucket with Legos they picked out themselves from a giant wall of Lego bins (this was one of the very few things we promised them)!  We made it home and spent the rest of the afternoon playing Legos until my parents arrived.
The Lego store was fun, but nothing trumped the long awaited arrival of Grammy and Bubba!!  And almost as soon as they arrived we were off and running with a fun dinner at the Whispering Canyon Lodge in Disney's Wilderness Resort. It was a tasty BBQ meal complete with bottomless strawberry milkshakes (maybe not as amazing as I had expected, but fun none-the-less). Day1-2 (1 of 1) Day1-3 (1 of 1) Day1-4 (1 of 1) 
And after dinner we got to wander around the resort. I have to say that Disney really has a way of making things special and over the top and this resort was a lot of fun. It is made to resemble Yellowstone National Park...complete with a fake Old Faithful, other water features, a boardwalk, and even the hotel is designed after the Old Faithful Inn. This is pretty impressive as long as you don't compare it with the real deal...I've spent three summers living in Yellowstone and one actually living in the Old Faithful Inn and even Disney can't compare to the real thing!:) But it was still lots of fun to wander around. And it also made us really want to take our kids to Yellowstone! Not a bad first day officially on vacation with Grammy and Bubba! Day1-5 (1 of 1) P.S. They were throwing coins into a water fountain here, but beyond that I'm not actually sure what was 
going on here!
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

7 Years!!!

Seven years ago today this sweet little babe made me a mama and my life hasn't been the same since...

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Couple of Notes...

Okay, so I'm about ready to finally getting around to posting about the rest of our Florida trip (though I might have to interrupt those for a few other posts, but I'll eventually get them all done)!:)
But before I get to that there are a few notes that I feel like I need to share about the second half of our Florida trip!

The first is that pretty much EVERYTHING that was part of our Disney/Orlando vacation was made possible by my parents!  Really, truly.  This vacation was the combined birthday and Christmas presents for all of us for a year...though to be quite honest they probably spent enough for 2 or 3 years worth!  They SPOILED us!  Not just the theme parks, but special activities for each of our kids, treats, meals out, and on and on.  One afternoon Lily got to go to the Bippity Boppity Boutique (more to come on that) and Eli stayed back at the condo with Joe and Bubba.  My incredibly thoughtful mother brought these fantastic light up remote control cars so that Eli would feel special that afternoon too and not feel left out while his sister got to do something just for her!  THIS is how this vacation parents pretty much thought of everything!  We could NOT have done this vacation on our own- there is just simply no way that we could have afforded it.  So a HUGE thank you goes out to my parents for giving our family this wonderful experience and sweet, sweet memories!  The kids are still talking about it all of the time!  And it's not just all about the expense of it...I love it even more that my parents were there with us, experiencing every ride and meal and laugh right along with us!  THAT is what made it even more special.  I love that our kids will forever remember that their grandparents did all of these things with them!

The second thing I want to note is that I didn't take as many pictures as I anticipated I would.  Let's be honest, I like to take a lot of pictures.  I sort of expected that I would take around 100-200 pictures each day.  Frankly I could easily take 100 pictures just around our house in a day if I wanted to.  And this was could I not take hundreds of pictures?  But I really didn't, not even close.  Looking back there are a few reasons.  First, I've realized how much harder it has been to take pictures since we had the baby.  We are outnumbered and my hands are often full (literally) with Liam.  My camera is big and heavy and there is no taking one handed pictures while holding the baby.  Even with two extra sets of adult arms this was still a factor in Florida.  Second, Florida was CRAZY crowded while we were there.  Most of the theme parks were a bit insane and it made it nearly impossible to get good pictures (there were people everywhere you turned).  Also, many of the rides were inside, dark, and in closed quarters (not good at all for my kind of camera).  I've decided that the next time I can upgrade my phone for cheap (every two years) I'm going to get an i-phone so I can use Instagram in these situations.  And third, somewhere along the way I just decided that I wanted to be a part of the fun more than I wanted to photograph the fun.  I wanted pictures and of course I did get some, but more often than not I decided to put away the camera and join in. Did I want that great picture of my kids on the flying Dumbo ride?  Sure.  But in the end it was way better to go on the ride with them and settle for a quick picture with my crummy camera phone.  It was a good decision!:)
So, we had a wonderful vacation and I look forward to sharing a few of the pictures I did get very soon!

Monday, April 21, 2014

8 Months!

Oh how I love him!

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