Friday, October 30, 2009

Our Family Trip to Disney World: Day 2, Magic Kingdom

After a very restful night's sleep at Coronado, we were up and at 'em by 7:30am. I was so excited because Jonathan was flying in later that night and we all missed him terribly! Today was Magic Kingdom and I'm not sure what I was more excited about: that feeling you get when you are standing at the beginning of Main Street with that amazing castle out in front of you OR seeing our girls in their custom Minnie outfits made by Melissa, owner of Jam Clothing Co.

We headed to the bus stop to meet the crew to head over to the Magic Kingdom. I love the look on Mary Elizabeth's face as she looks at Anna at the bus stop.

As we walked towards the Magic Kingdom, we realized we were there in time for opening or "rope drop" as they call it. The show was really neat and as security checked our bags and strollers, we were getting more and more excited about getting into the park. We stopped at guest services to get Josh's GAC card (for medical emergencies) and then we went straight to Crystal Palace for our 9:30 breakfast reservation. This pic was taken right before we headed into the nice, air conditioned restaurant for breakfast (it was HOT!)

Crystal Palace is a buffet style character dinner so on our dining plan, this counted as our one sit down meal of the day (we got one sit down, one quick service and one snack) We enjoyed a wonderful breakfast of Mickey pancakes, eggs, sausage, bacon, fruit, blah, blah, blah. I even had a bowl of Frosted Flakes cause I'm on vacation too! Pooh and all his friends came around to greet the children, sign autographs and take pictures. Pooh was first and got a pretty warm reception from Maggie, not so much from Mary Elizabeth. She enjoyed them from a distance, but heaven forbid they got close to her. She would start screaming, "No! No!" and swatting her arms. Hence, the pics are sans Mary Elizabeth.

After breakfast, we were ready to ride some rides. We headed straight over to Dumbo and stood in line in the heat. We were all gross by the time we got up to the ride and actually got on. Keep in mind, the crowds weren't that bad, but still a 20 minute wait in hell type temps can make anyone feel gross after a while. Everyone loved Dumbo and then we headed to the carousel where we walked right on. Then it was on to It's a Small World. The kids LOVED this ride and even though that adorable little song would be like a death wish were you to get trapped on this ride, it is awesome to see all the little children chanting that adorable little song. Here's a pic of Anna and Maggie I snapped from behind on IASW:
After IASW, we headed over to the Haunted Mansion. Not everyone rode this ride and when we came out after the ride, everyone who had been waiting on us was literally melting. Mary Elizabeth literally drank two full glasses of ice water in the 20 minutes we were gone. We decided it was time to cool down and do Splash Mountain. I should mention that this is Isaac and Luke's favorite ride so it ended up being me, Isaac, Luke, Anna, Uncle Josh and Papa Eddie. As we headed to the ride's entrance, we noticed that the stand by line wait was 45 minutes. I asked Josh to show the cast member at the front of the ride the GAC since that is what they told us to do at guest services (up until this point, we just waited in line). The cast member pointed us to the fast pass line and told us to go ahead. Wait, what? We don't have a fast pass, we have a GAC. Well, I guess in Disney's eyes it's the same thing. We literally were on the ride within 10 minutes. No melting Uncle Josh. It was amazing and we felt so blessed to have that little card. Splash Mountain rocked and we met back with the rest of the crew.

At this point, it's 1pm and we were hot, hungry and tired. We decided to head back to our resort and hit the pool. Papa Eddie, Juju, Aunt Ali, Uncle Josh, Maggie and Mary Elizabeth headed back to the room for the girls to nap while I took the rest of my crew to the food court at Coronado for lunch. It was AWESOME and we enjoyed our counter service meal of the day. From there, we headed back to the room, changed into our suits and hit the AMAZING pool. This sign was on the way back to our room and my kids loved it (talked about the sharks every day)
The great thing about Coronado's pool is that they have an awesome water slide that even I enjoyed! The pool is HUGE and they even have a baby pool so there are activities for the entire family.

We headed back to the room to take showers and get freshened up and then we decided to hit Epcot. If you stay at a Disney owned resort, every day you qualify for extra magic hours at one of the parks. It just so happened that Epcot, which normally closes at 9pm, was open to midnight that specific night for extra magic hours. We headed to the park and immediately went and rode the ride in the big ball (sorry, can't remember the name). From there, we went straight to Soarin', which is one of our favorite rides. Then, we went straight to Test Track which was not working so we decided to head over to the Food and Wine Festival in the worlds part of Epcot. Wow, was it packed. We were also starving because my crew had only eaten lunch and no dinner. At this moment, I opted for the bad mom card and let my kids eat ice cream for dinner. They were so excited and I was very thankful that they stopped whining. We watched the fireworks show and then decided to head back to the hotel.

Jonathan arrived around 11pm to a room full of sleeping kids and a sleeping mommy. Isaac and Luke were so excited to see their daddy that they all decided they wanted to stay in our room so we literally had 4 kids in a queen bed. It was quite the sight. We were just thankful to have daddy there! Next post: Hollywood Studios (my favorite park!)

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Magic Kingdom Picture

Yes, I know I haven't done my second day at Disney yet, but I plan to work on Day 2 tomorrow. Until then, I thought I would wet your appetite with this pic that Uncle Josh took at the Magic Kingdom. Yes, he took this. Looks like a postcard huh?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Our Family Trip to Disney World: Day 1, Animal Kingdom

*My last post in this series will include lots of planning resources, websites, etc. that I used to help plan our vacation* There were 11 of us on this trip: my immediate family which includes me, my husband, 11 year old daughter, 7 year old twin boys and 2 year old daughter. My sister's family which included her, her husband and their 2 year old. Last, but not least, my parents: JuJu and Papa Eddie.

Our trip to Disney World in FL started on a Tuesday morning. We had decided to fly Southwest airlines simply because we wanted a direct flight since we were flying with 2 toddlers and we didn't want to have to pay for our checked baggage since we had a total of 11 bags between the 11 of us. It just so happened that the rates for the time we wanted to go were VERY high, especially for our return flight, so I would definitely recommend you try to plan your vacation further out than we did (6 weeks) and I would set yourself up to receive dings from Southwest if your travel dates are flexible. I have heard that you can get flights pretty cheap if you just continue to watch.

Since our flight was at 8am, we got to the airport around 6:30am. Southwest in Nashville is great in that they have seperate check in lanes for families with small children, so we were able to walk right up to the counter, get our bags checked, and get through security with no issues at all. *I will also take this pause to tell you to read through all your Disney paperwork that they send you beforehand. They provide special tags for you to not only identify your luggage, but it also tells them what hotel you will be staying in* They do this so that you literally don't touch your luggage again until it arrives in your room a few hours after you land. You should keep this in mind and not pack anything you will need right away because if you plan to go straight to the parks like we did, you won't have access to your luggage before you go. Here we are on the plane:

Sorry you won't find a picture of Papa Eddie and the boys, it didn't turn out good.

The flight is pretty quick, I think about 1 1/2 hours so we really didn't have an issue with the kids getting bored. Matter of fact, Mary Elizabeth curled up in my lap and took a nap which was perfect.

We arrived at the airport and headed straight for B1 where Disney's free transportation check in is. If you have already registered for all of this in your reservations, you literally have your info book stamped and walk straight to the bus for your hotel. You load onto a nice motorcoach that takes you to your resort. This typically takes about 45 minutes but because my children were fascinated that the bus had a restroom, this kept them occupied for most of the trip. That, and the fact that they show a video about Disney on the buses.

Disney has three levels of resorts: basic, moderate and deluxe. Because our flights were more expensive than we had originally planned, we ended up staying in a moderate resort. This basically means that it has no direct access to any of the theme parks, but does have a pretty amazing pool and bus transport to the parks. We chose Coronado Springs based on a friend's recommendation and I have to tell you, it was NICE! Matter of fact, we had previously stayed at Polynesian and Beach Club, and the only thing this resort lacked was monorail access. The food court was amazing and the pool was REALLY nice. We got to the resort around 11am (remember, they are an hour ahead of Nashville) and were pleasantly surprised to hear that my room was ready. It was great to be able to go and dump our carry on bags, etc. before heading to the parks. If you plan to stay at Coronado, I would highly suggest you stay at the Cabanas. The resort is HUGE with multiple areas, but the Cabanas area not only puts you close to the bus stop, but also to a fabulous pool with an amazing waterslide, play ground, arcade and snack bar.

After we dropped our items off, we immediately headed for the bus stop. Here's a pic of everyone (minus Mary and I) at the bus stop waiting for our bus to Animal Kingdom:

We immediately headed to Animal Kingdom. This was our favorite park last time so we decided to start there since we only had a few hours prior to our dinner reservation. We got there and realized it was HOT! Like 95 degrees with it feeling like over 100. Thank goodness we had checked the weather long before we came and had planned our wardrobe accordingly. I will also take a minute to tell you that my kids love pin trading, so we immediately found a cast member with a lanyard as we entered and the kids were so excited to start trading pins. Here's some pics of the kids as we entered the park:

We immediately searched out lunch, as by this point, we were all starving. We had gotten FREE dining because of the time of year we had booked and it was an incentive. Basically we received one snack, one counter service meal and one sit down dining meal per night we had a room. Disney does a great job with their maps so we were able to quickly find a counter service meal that everyone agreed on. A counter service meal allows you to pick a main course, a drink and a dessert so it's actually quite a bit of food. While we ate, the kids loved that all the animals roamed around our feet. We had ducks and various other birds that were very anxious to see if they kids would drop any food.

We then headed to Dinoland where you will find the most little kid friendly rides, although their isn't much in this particular park for small children. Pair that with the heat and our little ones were pretty miserable pretty quickly. We did ride a few rides, including Dinosaur. My parents kept the 2 little ones while the rest of us rode. It is an awesome, scary ride but my older children are thrill junkies like me so we all enjoyed it. By the time we were finished with that ride, my sister's family and JuJu and Papa Eddie were ready to head back and get checked in to their room. They took Mary Elizabeth with them but my older three and I stayed at Animal Kingdom for the parade, which we had never seen. It. was. amazing. The detail that goes into these parades is amazing and we really enjoyed it even though it was so hot. I literally took about 40 pics of this parade so here's just a sampling:

From there, we had to book it to make our dinner reservation at 5pm. We had dinner booked at Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge, another resort on Disney property. We had heard about Boma from the same person who told us about Coronado so we were really excited to try the food. My older three and I were able to hop on a bus from Animal Kingdom over to the lodge, but everyone else who had gone back to the hotel quickly found out that you can't go from resort to resort via the bus system. You must take the bus to a park and then catch the other bus over to the new resort. Needless to say, we finally started dinner about 45 minutes late because of how long transportation takes. The food at Boma was WONDERFUL. It is buffet style with lots of African themed dishes, but they still had a great selection of "normal" food as my kids call it. The dessert section was wonderful.

After dinner, we headed back to Coronado Springs to take a look at the pool area and then it was time to turn in for the night. One of the great things about Coronado is that it is the only moderate resort that features two queen beds, so it was very comfortable for me and the girls to sleep peacefully. Isaac and Luke stayed in Papa Eddie and Juju's room. Mickey (aka mommy) also brought special gifts to the room for Isaac and Luke. You see, we had special outfits made for Mary Elizabeth, Maggie and Anna that had Minnie Mouse on them (THANKS Melissa!) so Mickey felt bad for the boys and bought them Wall-E shirts. It's little things like that help spread the Disney magic, so I always try to plan souvenirs long before we go because it saves us so much money and my kids never beg to buy anything while in the parks.

That's it for our first day, next post will be on Day 2: Magic Kingdom!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Our Family Trip To Disney World

I know I've been bad at blogging lately, but between fall break, our family trip to Disney, coming home to sick kids and a zillion other things, it honestly hasn't been a top priority. I decided today that it's time to catch up the blog and the best way to do that is to tell you about our trip to Disney World 10/13-10/18 in a day by day blogfest. I will be including pics, details of what we did, what we wished we could have done and what we would do different. I am doing this because I know how helpful it is to me to read others personal experiences with vacations so I'm hoping it will help out another family. Even if it kills me, I will have our first day post up tomorrow night so stay tuned!

Monday, October 12, 2009

What We Did Do When M.E. Turned Two

Mary Elizabeth turned 2 on August 7 but since we were starting consignment sale madness we decided to hold off and do her party on August 29th here at the house. We went with a Dr. Seuss theme because she loves the books and because we thought it would be cute.

Melissa from Jam Clothing Co. made her beautiful Dr. Seuss dress.
She also made a coordinating skirt for Anna and as an added surprise, an adorable THING 2 shirt for Joshua. Her eye for detail is amazing and I highly recommend any of her custom clothing!

We held the party late afternoon/early evening and decided to serve breakfast for dinner. We originally planned to have green eggs and ham, but then decided people wouldn't eat it because it looked gross so we just fixed scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, biscuits, and potato casserole. Angie V. brought cheese grits as well. Here's a pic of the spread of food:

Mary Elizabeth loves to eat...seriously, it's one of her favorite hobbies. She was so excited to eat all that yummy food sitting that she could see in front of her on the table:

After "dinner", it was time to open presents and boy, did we have a ton of them to open. This pic shows our table where we had the goodie bags on top and all the presents for Mary underneath:
Almost everyone we invited to the party got to come, so although our house was packed, it was so much fun to see all the little kids running around! Mary Elizabeth got loads of cool stuff: toys, doll accessories including a doll pack and play and a doll stroller, clothing, etc. She had so much fun ripping into presents.

Next, it was back to the kitchen for cupcakes! Mandy LeMay made these awesome cupcakes to match Mary Elizabeth's dress. Everyone raved about how great they tasted:

Last, but not least, it was time for the pinata. I actually found the pinata shaped like a number 2 at Encores North. Someone brought a brand new pinata in and had it priced for $3 so I was pumped. We brought it home, filled it up with candy, and the kids HAD A BLAST beating the fire out of it. When the candy came spilling out, all the kids kind of stood there for a minute not sure what to do. We yelled "go get the candy!!" and they were off.

I think everyone had a great time, especially Mary Elizabeth. It's hard to believe she is already two and even harder to believe how big she is now compared to how tiny she was starting out. She is such a sweet girl...her smile and personality immediately light up any room she's in. I am blessed woman to be able to be her mommy.

Friday, October 2, 2009

More Info: Beech Country Day October 3, 2009

Hot off the presses: I have the first copy of all the items to be auctioned during the LIVE auction at Beech Elementary's Country Day. For those of you that don't know, Beech calls their annual fall festival country day and it serves as the largest fundraiser for the school's PTO. Since we moved to Hendersonville, I have been so impressed with how well run country day is and if you are looking for something to do tomorrow, I would highly suggest bringing your whole family down to enjoy a fun day at our school.

Country Day runs from 9am-3pm with the live auction running from 10:30-12:30pm. During country day, you buy bracelets for your kids for $15 each and that allows them to do all the games/activities. The most any family will spend on bracelets is $45 so if you have a herd like us, don't fear, $45 is the most you will spend. Kids 3and under are free. There will also be extra paid activities like the dunking booth, a car you can smash (only in TN) and MASH. Food will be available for lunch and there will also be booths to shop at in the gym area.

Now for the best part: the auction. The thing I love about Country Day's auction is that the items that have been donated are things that you can and will actually use. I can't give you a detailed list of items, but I am excited to share with you more details of items to be sold. The best part? All the money goes to the school!

I can tell you that there are more than 60 lots being auctioned tomorrow. If you are a UT, Vandy, Predators, or Titans fan, you don't want to miss this auction. Lots of great packages that include tickets, hotel stays and other awesome gear! If you could buy a car for what you spend on your child's orthodontics, again, don't miss this auction. Awesome gift certificates donated by Dr. Doyle, Dr. Taylor, and Dr. Mary Kay Koen. One of my favorite items is a private shopping party at The Kids Clothes Basket where you and 10 of your friends get to shop with 40% discounts off your ENTIRE PURCHASE! You can even bid on a load of crusher run if you need to fill in some spots in your gravel driveway. If you are a Beech Buc, there are two baskets custom weaved by the Longaberger company in Beech colors so you can make all your friends envious while you tailgate. My other favorite item is so freaking cool: Chef Nigel Cox (former chef to Princess Diana) will customize a dinner party for 8. He will help you design your menu, shop, prepare and serve your meal. What an awesome Christmas party that would be. Don't forget we are auctioning off a BRAND NEW PT Cruiser so if you need a car, you need to come. Of course, I have to mention being the FIRST person to shop Encores North at the Spring 2010 sale. AND THERE IS SO MUCH MORE!

If you have questions, leave a comment and I'll be checking my phone. I plan to update tomorrow night to let you know what some of the items go for. THANKS FOR ALL OF THOSE THAT COME OUT TO COUNTRY DAY!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Want to be the FIRST person to shop at Encores North Spring 2010 sale?

Well, let me tell you how to do it.

In case you didn't know, the ONLY people that shop before the workers are me, my mom, my sister, my mother-in-law, and my best friend Angie who works about 200 hours per sale with me. Otherwise, the first shoppers enter at 5pm on worker day. Those workers either work or barter to be able to shop at 5pm and we value their 3 shifts plus sort to be worth $200.

This Saturday, October 3, at Beech Elementary in Hendersonville there will be a live auction that is held during Country Day, our annual fall festival. At that live auction, ANYONE can bid on a certificate that will allow you to shop at 12pm on worker day which is a full FIVE HOURS of shopping with no worries of someone else getting items you want.

The auction will start at 10:30am and the certificate will only allow ONE ADULT to shop and will be sold for the highest bid. All money from the auction will go to Beech Elementary! There are also tons of other items to be auctioned including a PT CRUISER so come check it out. Tons of games for the kids, food, live and silent auctions and other activities. Come out and see us and HAPPY BIDDING! I can't wait to see who wins!

P.S. Just found out a few more things that will be auctioned: Kenny Chesney autographed guitar, Miley Cyrus autographed guitar, Taylor Swift autographed guitar, night at Vanderbilt Lowe's with Ruth Chris gift card, Titans tickets, and Predator tickets. I think I also heard they are auctioning Disney theme park tickets!