Monday, February 22, 2016

Walt Disney World

We took our first family vacation last Disney World! It was a magical trip..:)
Audrey started asking about Disney world about a year ago after some of her classmates took trips and talked about it at school. I started casually looking in to the cost and exploring different options in the summer, and then once we'd saved up some cash I went ahead and started working with a travel agent to make reservations. There is soooo much that goes in to planning a disney trip  that it became a little overwhelming at times, but I think the extra research and planning I did really paid off.
We were supposed to fly out Monday morning and arrive at our hotel around lunch time, leaving us the whole first day to really explore the resort, swim, go to the various attractions at Downtown Disney...but the Blizzard of 2016 really threw a kink in things. After a lot of back and forth trying to figure out how..and IF..we'd even be able to drive off our street and out of the neighborhood, we decided to drive to Florida instead of flying. The airline had canceled our original flight out and the new flight they put us on just didn't make any sense and wasn't going to work for us (late flight, different airport, even a different arrival city - meaning we'd have to arrange a rental car and drive 90 miles to Orlando..). So we got up in the middle of the night and made the 14 hour drive down to Florida! Audrey was less than thrilled. At first she was just disappointed that she wouldn't be able to fly on an airplane, but then she was mad because she's done the road trip thing before (Texas 2015) and she's not exactly a fan. We stopped about half way down for lunch at Chick Fil A and so the kids could run around and get some energy out and that seemed to work just fine. They complained at times, but between movies, naps, coloring, and books they were entertained. We did get to experience our first incident of car-sickness. Yay! Making memories......
We were so tired and cranky that first night that we just had dinner and got to sleep around 9pm. We were up early tuesday morning and grabbed the bus to the Animal Kingdom theme park. We had reservations at one of the restaurants that does "character meetings" first thing, which we thought would be great. Turns out expecting three very young kids to sit still for a meal on their first day of vacation when all they want to do is have hard. Juice was spilled. Luxurious buffet was barely touched. Josh and I wondered why we did not order from the bar. We all walked away thinking "glad that's over" but I think we learned a good first day lesson - to just let go of our expectations. We were so irritable and not enjoying ourselves at that point, so we went ahead and canceled the rest of our dining reservations and opted for quick service meals instead and that worked out well. For the rest of that day we got to go on a safari ride (definitely the kids' favorite attraction), see The Lion King Musical, Finding Nemo musical, do a "dino dig", and ride the rides. And eat all the over priced food. My fav of course. 
Josh took Audrey on the big roller coaster - she was just about an inch over the minimum requirement to ride. She was so scared!! She has talked about it so much and she keeps saying she'll never ride that again! haha poor thing. We met a few disney characters that first day and the weather was beautiful (sunny and 75!) and it was a great day! Kids were beat and fell asleep quickly so josh and I shared a beer on the patio outside the room to unwind a minute before getting to bed ourselves. 
The next day things really picked up. This was our first day in Magic Kingdom. It ended up raining on and off all day, but we were prepared. The strollers I rented came with waterproof stroller covers so the kids stayed dry, and I packed rain ponchos for Josh and myself (this is where that research I did came in handy!!). The good thing about the rainy day was that we got to do sooooo much stuff and wait in almost no lines. Nathaniel and Joshua napped for a while in the stroller and at those times Josh or I would go off and do the bigger rides with Audrey. We met Anna and Elsa, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Buzz, Woody, and Jessie, and more. I think Audrey's favorite was Rapunzel and Joshua's was Buzz...Nathaniel also really liked Buzz but he doesn't really have an opinion on a whole lot yet.
This day was probably the most exhausting day of them all. We went hard all day and then around 5pm everyone started to get a bit cranky. But the parade was not starting until 7 and the fireworks would be at 8. We really wanted to see it all while we were there so we decided to just keep pushing and stay until the fireworks were over. That was probably the hardest part of the whole trip! It was still raining and we were just tired but we made it to the 'main street' a few minutes before the parade started, only for them to tell us they were canceling the parade due to the rain. Bummer. And we still had an hour to find something to do before the fireworks started! JJ was sleeping and so I decided to take Audrey and Nathaniel on a ride despite the long line. That didn't work out and we ended up bailing after 20 minutes and just walked the park until the fireworks started. It was a nice display but I do wish we could see it one day without the rain, fog, and clouds. I'm sure its even more beautiful with clear skies!
The next day we decided to sleep in since we'd done so much the day before and we weren't rushed to try to fit a bunch in the schedule. Audrey and I had breakfast at Cinderella's Castle and she loved it! We had originally planned for all 5 of us, but after the first day at the restaurant I cancelled that reservation and made it for just the two of us. It's really fancy - white table cloth type thing. We were seated at a really cute table overlooking the whole park and she kept calling it our "date". She got to meet not only Cinderella, but Snow White, Aurora (sleeping beauty), Jasmine, and Ariel. After that we rode some more rides and then had an appointment for Audrey and Joshua to be transformed into Pirates! They have this whole salon and the kids can pick from a pirate or a mermaid and they got their faces painted, jewelry, swords, etc. They both LOVED it and looked awesome. The rain was pouring down this whole second day...not the light drizzle it had been the day before, so that kind of sucked. Still we got to do a TON in the park with practically no lines so that was nice. We bailed around dinner time this night so we could all go back to the hotel and get dry. Some other highlights from these two days were meeting all the characters and Audrey getting picked to play "The Beast" in a Beauty and the Beast show. She got to slow dance with Belle and she was beside herself with excitement!! 
By Friday we were truly exhausted. We went to Hollywood Studios this day and we were so thankful the rain was gone and it was back to being sunny and 75! This park is a little different - more experiences and shows and less rides. That was disappointing for Audrey (she's never satisfied!) but it worked out well. Lots of meeting the characters and they spent more than an hour playing in the huge "Honey I Shrunk The Kids" play area. 
By about 3 pm Josh and I were completely out of gas so we went back to the hotel and packed up, had dinner, and went to bed around 9pm since we were planning to drive home the next day, leaving at 3am. The drive home seemed longer than the drive there...probably because everyone was so tired and overstimulated from the week of fun!!
When we got home we had the best surprise of all - Lauren and Cheryle had cleaned my house top to bottom while we were gone! Not only that but they stocked our fridge with food (and beer! and wine!) for the week! It was so wonderful to get home and not worry about what to make for dinner and cleaning up the mess we'd left the week before! We were completely unpacked with laundry being washed by the time we went to bed that night. It was the perfect way to end that vacation!
We had so much fun and can't wait to go back. It was a wonderful experience for the kids and for us too (and a lesson in patience and letting go!). Our next trip is to Texas over spring break - I'm driving out with my mom and josh is flying in the end of the week for a few days and then driving back with me. Then in May we are going to Puerto Rico for a week and I'm so excited for that trip! Its been in talks for a few years now and I'm thrilled that we are making it a reality!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Halloween and Fall Fun

Fall is always a busy time of year for us. So much fun stuff going on and we're trying to get out and about before the cold sets in. This year the kids wanted to dress up as the Paw Patrol characters from the tv show. They looked super cute and they were over the moon happy to see that Josh dressed up as the lead character as well. We went trick or treating with Liam, Kayla, and Alexis (Liams cousins),  and Aunt Cheryle and Katie. Our neighborhood was great for it - townhouses so we didn't have to walk too far to get lots of treats! Afterward we came back here and had a little dance party before heading the kids off to bed.

We didn't do Cox Farm this year for our fall festival like we have in the past. In fact I think this is the first year we haven't gone there. We went to Ticonderoga Farm instead, and Lauren and Liam joined us. It was an absolutely perfect fall skies, not too chilly or too warm, and not crowded at all! We spent several hours there before the kids started to get tired. They each got to pick out their own little pumpkin on the way out, so we put those out on the porch. We didn't carve pumpkins again this year, but we did paint pumpkins which the kids liked that.

We're into a good routine these days. Audrey's in school all day, and Joshua goes half days twice a week. Those two days I usually try to run my errands since I only have one kid with me. Then Thursday and Friday I try to fit in play dates and trying new places that are geared towards toddlers since we don't do those things with Audrey anymore. I'm also trying to make more of a conscious effort to just stay home one day per week with the boys while Audrey is at school. I started to feel like our life was always running, always trying to do more FUN stuff, and we were never just at home playing and reading. Maybe I felt that life just got too fast. So anyways, we're working on that. Less scheduling. Audrey said she doesn't like gymnastics anymore so we took her out of those classes. I'm not sure if she wasn't in to it or if it was just too much. It was an after school class and I admit, it was a busy and chaotic day - school all day, then straight to gymnastics, then straight home for dinner bath and bed. We also moved her swim classes to Saturdays - she's just too tired after a day at school to do any organized activities for the time being. More updates soon! Here's a little pic of Audrey and Joshua walking together into school!