Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Here I sit knowing I still have several days of Disney overviews hanging over my head to write. Honestly, they take a lot of work because my OCD and ADD mix together too strongly when I am writing these trip reports. The ADD side of me wants to start writing about one day and then jump to another. The OCD side wants to make sure that every detail in every post is perfect. This whole mess takes about a week to make a clear blog post that everyone else in the blogging world could do in about 2 minutes. J tells me I'm just ODD (OCD and ADD put together). I just reply with "well, it always gets done and when it's done, it's perfect!" He gets a big kick out of my antics I'm sure.

Since I am adding lazyness into the OCD and ADD, I really didn't feel like working on another Disney post so I thought, "hmm, what should I blog post about" and like the other millions of bloggers, I immediately thought "Thankfulness"

So, if your blog surfing tonight, I'm sorry in advance that mine will be yet another "what I'm Thankful for this year" blog. Of course, mine are never really cheesy and you might find that you actually enjoy reading about Brea's thankfulness. So, my faithful readers of this blog, I give you Brea's Top 10 Things She's Been Thankful For in 2009.

Brea's Top 10 Things She's Been Thankful For in 2009
1. People that invented sleeping pills (like prescription strength-those silly over the counter things don't work for me): Although I have done many unfortunate things after taking the sleeping pill (including cutting off all my fingernails, calling my mother in which I remember none of the conversation, etc.)I would like to say I have slept like a baby the last two weeks. Whilst during that sleep, I have also had some pretty amazing dreams that have given me some good laughs this week. So the number one spot goes to the makers of those pills, because without them, I was pretty sure I was headed to the loony bin by my lack of sleep.

2. Encores and More North Children's Consingment Sale: Although there are many times when I want to run screaming from that place, I finally realized this year that God truly did call me into this line of business and not because he wanted to bless me financially, he wanted me to SEE HIM bless others through something that he created. The amount of cards and notes I received from families thanking us for providing a place to not only create income by selling old goods, but also by being able to purchase new stuff at great prices was simply overwhelming. I am thankful for each and every person that walks through our doors whether a consignor, worker, shopper, cleaner, cook, etc. Any person that contributes anything to the sale, please know we couldn't do it without you and Brea is thankful for you!

3. My husband's new job at Smith Travel Research. Probably doesn't seem like something that should rank on the top 10, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE that my husband now works 15 minutes away and doesn't have to fight that God awful traffic going back and forth to Brentwood anymore. We had taken for granted the simple things like him being able to come home and have lunch with the kids. How cool is that? So thank you to STR for being a stable, debt free company that takes great care of your employees and their families. Without you, we would have two less hours of daddy at home a day.

4. My mom and dad taking us to Disney last month. They probably didn't know how badly our family needed a break and for them to pay for the trip really was like a breath of fresh air. The family time spent together was fabulous. Being de-stressed enough to really get to watch the excitement in my kids faces-that's what vacation is all about. It was a wonderful time and we truly needed some time away.

5. V and T: Josh and Mary Elizabeth's moms. Right now, I have no clue where either of them are. I hope they are doing well. I am so thankful for them because they continue to challenge me to be a better mother (and I bet they don't even know that). They gave us children that I feel based on what I know, that they themselves could have parented quite wonderfully. What an honor to know that someone has picked me to raise her child. I hope I make them both proud. I hope they know how much I love them both and I do....I love my children and I love their other moms. My prayer is that someday we are sitting around a big table all loving on one another. I believe God could do that.

6. Saint Barbara. For those of you that don't know, Saint Barbara is held in the same high esteem as Saint Cindy (our house cleaner) My mother in law literally is a saint. When she told me one time that she felt she was put on this earth to be a grandmother, well, let's just say I believe her. She LOVES her grandchildren and is helpful to me. Constantly supporting me and my favorite is when she calls out of the blue and says "so, when can I have them" I never feel like I am wearing her out with requests for childcare because I know we have such a great relationship that she would just say, "can't do it then" and it's no big deal. The kids love going to visit and I literally never worry when they are in her care. She was definitely put on this earth to be a Saintly Grandmother.

7. Anna. She's a very bright girl who is radiating hormones from her body. She changes outfits 15 times a day trying to figure out which bra doesn't show, if her hair looks best with a bow, wanting to use the phone and singing to every song that plays on the radio while J and I look at each other and say "what is this song?" Frightening, I know. She's also a wonderful Christian young woman who has seemingly surrounded herself with good Christian young women. My prayers for years is that Anna would be surrounded with Godly friends that she can go to church and school with. ANSWERED PRAYER! I'm excited about watching her friends grow up now because I know chances are they are going to be sticking around more and more ofteh. Anna's a great gift to us, always amazing us with her beauty inside and out.

8. Craigslist. No, I'm not joking. I am thankful for Craigslist. I no longer get THE eye roll from J when I come home from weekend yard sales with the truck loaded full because he knows that most of it is going on craigslist and there's a pretty good bet that I'll make money on the stuff. I am even more thankful that Craigslist charges me nothing (right now) to sell or buy stuff. When you've bought two cars, most of your furniture, home decor, etc. off craigslists, who couldn't be thankful!

9. Jonathan. He's a rockstar. Seriously, what guy do you know that comes home from work and actually wants to play with his FIVE kids. He does all the laundry in this house and he is even a pretty dang good cook. He is so freakishly smart computer wise and you would be blown away if I listed all the work he has done for FREE for non profit organizations. It was eye opening to me to be at a recent conference where the speaker got choked up when presenting Jonathan because of all the work he had done for them for FREE and how much it had impacted the non profit. On top of that, he does his normal 8-5 job, works extra hours for his old boss, AND maintains everything on Encores and More North website including the fact that he built the tagging system. His strength amazes me and I love him more than the day I married him.

10. The little stuff. Like having warm socks fresh out of the dryer when my feet are cold. That they make meds for migraine headaches that make them go away (sometimes). I am so thankful for my wonderful, small house and the fact that our family has never felt more at home and together than we have living in this house. For our yard, with all the trees and things to do. I spent hours each day as a kid exploring and I love seeing my kids do the same. Being able to go to a doctor the same day I start having symptoms and getting treatment that day. Clipping coupons and using them and then using the money I saved to support 6 kids monthly in Ethiopia (no, we aren't adopting them) I was thankful yesterday when I sold my Bumbo off craigslist and when the lady came to pick it up, I got misty. I got misty because it's the last Bumbo we'll have in this house which signifies the end of the "baby" era. I am so thankful I got to experience that many of my friends are currently searching out options because their bodies can't make babies. I am thankful I'm alive and I get to see this life HE has laid out for me. I get to see all the bad choices I made (which were devastating at the time) be turned into some of the most beautiful moments of my life. I have gotten to check so many things off my bucket list which is also something I'm thankful for, because that shows me that I am out there LIVING and not afraid to try new things and meet new people. I am thankful for the sushi guy at Publix deli who can rock out some sushi for my family in under 5 minutes flat and dinner is done! I am thankful that we have money in our checking account, central heat and air, food in our pantry, warm beds for us to crawl into soon and last but not least, that our family is ever growing and changing and I get to be here to witness it all. This time last year, Josh was a dot on a radar far, far away. Tomorrow, I will be eating turkey with my 6 month old Joshie on my lap with a tear in my eye as I remember his mom and wonder how she is spending Thanksgiving Day with her family.

So, that's it...I'm just thankful.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Our Family Trip to Disney World: Day 4, Magic Kingdom AGAIN!

We had decided that since we had already done a bit of Epcot, we wouldn't need a whole day at that park like we had originally planned for Friday. Instead, we decided another day at Magic Kingdom would be great, especially for the little ones. We decided to meet at 9am at the bus stop, with everyone getting breakfast on their own. I noticed on this trip that the buses seemed to be few and far between. We waited almost 30 minutes for a bus.

We arrived at Magic Kingdom and headed straight for Toontown. I took Mary Elizabeth and Anna to Minnie's house (which I don't think I had EVER been in) and then we headed on to Mickie's house.

I *think* everyone else was hanging out at the play area. After we all got back together, we decided it was time for the train. These pics were taken as we waited for the train to arrive.

We enjoyed a wonderful trip all the way over to Adventureland, where we thought we were going to ride Splash Mountain, but it wasn't running. We also thought we would attempt Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but it was PACKED so we decided to head over to Pirates. Everyone loved Pirates and when we got done, we were definitely pretty hungry. We had a quick service meal planned for lunch so we pulled out the map and decided on Pinocchio Village Haus, which is right near the carousel and Dumbo. As we got near the restaurant, we saw Peter Pan so the girls got their pic made with him. We got our lunch and found a beautiful spot on the upstairs outdoor patio. We were the only ones up there and really enjoyed our awesome view.

NEXT POST: More of Day 4

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mary Elizabeth's Hair

In case any of you are wondering how much Mary Elizabeth's hair has grown since we started styling it a year ago, these pics were taken on Friday when it was time to get a new "do". Her hair has been braided with beads for Disney, so after almost four weeks it was time to take it down and get some puffs. Here's before:
Here's after her hair was taken out of braids and this pic totally cracks me up:

Here's the final "do" which I love. Can't believe how big she looks:

Our Family Trip to Disney World: Day 3, Downtown Disney at night

We had originally planned to do Downtown Disney on night four, but since we were already mixing the plan up a bit decided it was a perfect night to head to Downtown Disney after Hollywood Studios. We didn't have dining reservations for dinner, so we decided to just wing it knowing we could find something yummy.

For those of you that haven't been to Downtown Disney, it's basically a huge area filled with shopping, restaurants, etc. Many people assume Downtown Disney is another name for Main Street at Magic Kingdom, but it's actually a whole area. Some of the things we love about Downtown Disney are the MASSIVE Lego store, the MASSIVE Disney store, the MASSIVE pin trading store and the atmosphere. My boys love all the different life size displays made out of Legos.

We took the bus over and found some great photo ops.
Now, two things you might notice about this picture. First, Mary Elizabeth in her Snow White costume. Adorable, I know. I had found this at a yard sale earlier in the year and had grand visions of her wearing it at one of the parks, but then reality set in and I realized it would probably be uncomfortable, not to mention hot. I decided Downtown Disney was the perfect place for her to wear it and sure enough, many people commented on what a precious Snow White she was. She liked twirling in it which was adorable. Second, you are probably wondering where Luke is. Well, look carefully, he is next to Tigger. This is probably an appropriate time to tell you that after we returned home from Disney, I noticed Luke wasn't acting "right". I took him to the doctor twice and basically told the doctor I had a "mother's instinct" that something just wasn't right. Sure enough, we found out he has had mono. Looking at these pictures, I can't help but feel like a bad mom that we drug his little mono butt all over Disney world for five days not even realizing the reason he was so pooped was because he was sick.

After the photos, we decided it was time for some serious pin trading. The cool thing about the pin shop at DTD is that outside they have little tables set up where you can trade with the general public. Our family had all split up so we took some extra time in the pin shop and then traded a bunch of pins with two different traders outside. Isaac and Luke both picked out some pins to buy and then we decided it was definitely time to find some dinner.

The kids were starting to get frustrated because they couldn't agree on where to eat. We finally settled on McDonald's. Yes, we are on vacation and my children decide their ideal meal is McDonald's. J and I decided it wasn't worth the fight so we battled the crowds and ordered Mickey D's. We proceeded to sit down and eat in the loudest, nastiest McDonald's I have ever been in and I was immediately reminded why I avoid these places like the plague. I could literally feel my hips expanding as I ate the cheeseburger. Then, one of the boys spilled a drink which resulted in total meltdown of our entire party. Mary Elizabeth screaming "MORE PLEASE!" because she is hungry and can't figure out why we are all scrambling around trying to clean up sprite, Jonathan trying to calm down the boys who are both crying because they are afraid they are in trouble, Anna trying to find napkins, and me trying to tell Mary Elizabeth to be quiet. It was the darlings doing dinner.

After the stressful dinner, we decided to walk around some more and do some window shopping and quickly decided we were exhausted and were ready for bed. We found the rest of our group and headed for the buses. We got back to the room and were all quickly asleep, excited for another day at Magic Kingdom in the morning!

NEXT: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and back on Day 4.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Our Family Trip to Disney World: Day 3, Hollywood Studios

I will admit that I woke up even more excited on Thursday than I had been the day before. You see, Hollywood Studios (AKA MGM) is my FAVORITE park. I'm not sure why other than the first two trips to Disney (that I actually remember) both involve magical memories at MGM. I will never forget my first experience on Tower of Terror or seeing that wonderful Ms. Piggy fountain by the Muppets. I LOVE THIS PARK! Here's Jonathan and I before we headed to breakfast:
I should also take a minute to give a big shout out to Aunt Ali who made us ALL matching Mickey Mouse shirts (see ours in above pic) She was so generous in doing this for all of us and I can't even begin to tell you how many compliments we got on the shirts throughout the day (even from people who WORKED at Disney) It also made it very easy to spot everyone in our big ole group.

We had decided that it would be best for everyone in our group to do breakfast on your own and meet at the bus stop at 9am to head to Hollywood Studios. We opted to do a simple breakfast using our snack credits on the dining plan. We did cereal, muffins, etc. which was fine since we had a big lunch planned.

Here's our group as we got to Hollywood Studios. Notice all the adorable Mickey shirts.

We immmediately headed towards Tower of Terror. We didn't get far though because we kept popping in and out of gift shops and that is when I found THE Princess Tiana costume. It was simply stunning and I KNEW I had to have it for Mary Elizabeth. We had the costume delivered back to the hotel as I didn't want to lug it around all day.

We got to Tower of Terror and Uncle Josh, Papa Eddie, Jonathan, me, Isaac and Luke decided we wanted to ride. I was giddy with excitement and even more excited that Uncle Josh had never rode on it before. The line wasn't long at all and before you knew it, we were heading up in the elevator. We had a blast and then headed back to meet our crew. After we met up, we decided to do Rock n Roller Coaster. This time it was me, Uncle Josh, Jonathan, Anna, Isaac and Luke. I was really excited because even though this was my third time to Disney in three years, both times before this ride had been closed. It definitely met my expectations and has definitely been moved to the top of the list of my favorite rides.

We got back to find the rest of our family cracking up. The street performers had started chatting with Papa Eddie and this lady fell in love with Papa Eddie. Here's Papa Eddie (my dad):
Here's the actress who fell in LOVE posing with Anna:
She told Papa Eddie she instantly knew he was from Tennessee because he was the only "ten I see!" The street actors and actresses are top notch at Hollywood Studios and I've decided that would be one of my dream jobs. Dressing up, taking on a different persona and talking to tourists all day (especially picking on them and cracking jokes).

We then headed over to the Playhouse Disney area and decided to see the show. It featured Little Einsteins, Pooh and Friends, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. This was probably Mary Elizabeth's favorite part of the trip. You sat criss cross applesauce on the floor and all the characters were puppets (which was just fine with Ms. I'm scared of anything full sized in a costume) and the music was loud. Lots of kids sang and danced along and Mary clapped a few times with excitement. Here's Aunt Ali and Maggie enjoying the show followed by a pic of the stage:

Now it was time to eat (again!) so we headed to our sit down meal of the day on our dining plan: italian food at Mama Melrose's. We had decided this would be our BIG meal of the day and I must say, it hit the spot. I got the tomato and mozzarella salad (aka caprese salad) and a ceasar salad. It was SUPER yummy and our service was awesome. This was one of the few sit down dining places where we didn't have to wait past our reservation, which was extra nice considering it was about 3 degrees cooler than hell outside.

After lunch, we headed to the Muppet store gift shop where the kids traded pins and we browsed around. Anna also purchased her first (and I think only) souvenir. Mom and dad decided to split off and head back to the pool. Ali, Uncle Josh, Maggie, and our entire family decided it was time for TOY STORY MANIA. Not only did we have a great time, but my boys enjoyed it so much they are now asking for this game for their Wii from Santa. From there, my family split from Ali's family and we headed to the animation place near Playhouse Disney. We waited inline, watched the awesome movie at animation at Disney, and then got a sneak peek at lots of memorabilia from The Princess and the Frog movie that is coming out December 11. As we walked out from this area, we noticed that their was an animation class and some character spots. We decided to stand in line to meet Mickey. We were a little unsure at how this would go since (as mentioned before) Mary Elizabeth was NOT A FAN of anything life sized and in costume but she did surprisingly well. Here's a few pics:

After Mickey, we decided it was time to head back. I stopped at guest services as the clerk from the store with the Tiana costume had accidentally kept my debit card (which I noticed and freaked about over lunch), so I had to go there and claim it. As we were approaching the guest services, the sky opened up and it POURED. We put on our Walmart ponchos that mom had bought for everyone before the trip, headed to guest services and hung out there for a while during the monsoon that occurred outside. The kids traded pins, we chatted with an awesome cast member named Les, and then finally decided to brave the rain and make a run for the buses. While we were waiting for the buses, Aunt Ali and her crew walked up so we were able to ride back to Coronado with them. We got back to the hotel and decided as a group we would do Downtown Disney. We decided to meet at the bus stop after everyone had time to freshen up.

UP NEXT: Downtown Disney