Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We had a pretty low key Christmas since we did the whole Disney thing this year. On Christmas Eve we went to Dave and Pam's with the rest of the family and had a yummy Christmas dinner of Rudolph roast, I mean, deer roast :) and tamales, and all kinds of goodies! David had parking work at church, and Riley was not feeling well, so we just had an easy day. I did however, decide to go on a baking-palooza, and made Paula Deen's toffee butter bars, mint chocolate chip cookies, gingerbread rice crispy treats, pumpkin spice rice crispy treats, mint Oreo cookie fudge, chocolate chip marshmallow pillow cookies, and cranberry nut bars. Makes me tired again just thinking about it all! But, I wrapped most of them up and sent them to all our friends in the neighborhood, and still had plenty to bring to Christmas dinner!

So on Christmas morning, the kids each had a gift from Santa, and one from Monty and Princess, and one from each other. Not much, but it ended up being a really nice day. They liked what they got, and there wasn't a huge mess. We had put the tree upstairs before we left since we had to have the downstairs empty, but we didn't have time to decorate it until the night before when the kids realized Santa wouldn't want to see a naked tree! They didn't even put all the ornaments up, just enough to look okay, so at least taking it down should be easy this year!

Monday, December 19, 2011

House Update

So here are some before/after pics of the house with the wood floors! Some of them have spots since I used my flash. But you get the idea :)

Of course, the floors look so nice, we can't put any furniture back in until we paint, so we're working on that now! The last picture is the new paint color. New house by New Year's!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Today is a Very Sad Day

Caribbean Beach Hotel

Last day at Disney, we are all sad. But, I think we are all wiped out also. Even the kids asked if we could skip Hollywood Studios and sleep in and take our time heading out. Sounded like a good idea to me!

The kids slept most of the morning while I packed all our stuff. David brought our bags to the lobby and got us checked in for our flight, and they take care of the bags (awesome). Then we loaded up our backpacks and went to the food court for lunch. We still had 2 quick service meals each, and about 13 snack credits left! My plan was to use our snack credits around the World Showcase in Epcot, but that didn't work out so well.

So, we had lunch, then took our leftover fries to the sea gulls outside by the lake and fed them. They were funny, and Riley would put a fry on his hat and the birds would swoop down and grab it! After we ran out of fries, and any other food the kids could find that birds would eat, we hit up the gift shop, getting all our last minute gifts and letting Riley spend the last of his souvenir money. Then we went to the bakery and got brownies and cookies for the trip home with our leftover snack credits! I was NOT going to leave money on the table!!

Then we headed to the front to wait for our Magical Express bus to take us to the airport. Somehow it seemed much faster going back than coming in. We had a direct flight, with a quick stop in Houston, so that seemed to take forever. We finally got home around 9PM, and picked up Princess and Monty from Mimi and Papa and headed home to our new wood floors! It was so nice to come home to!

Overall, it was a great trip. I'm glad we could go while they are young enough to appreciate the "magic" of a Disney vacation, but tall enough to ride everything! It might be a while before we get a chance to go back, but we certainly had a great time, created a lot of memories and it's something the kids will remember for the rest of their lives.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hollywood Studios

Hollywood Studios

This was the day the kids had been looking forward to for the entire trip! Riley remembered the Tower of Terror from our last trip, and he was SO looking forward to riding it again.

But what we didn't plan on were the crowds! Holy Moley that park was crazy! I guess because it was a Saturday and Christmas break had officially begun, it was a madhouse. We got there early (not quite rope drop, but still pretty early) and had done what our planner recommended, ran straight to Toy Story Midway Mania to get our Fast Passes, and it's a good thing we did, they were time stamped for 8:30 that night!

We had an early lunch planned at the Sci Fi Diner, we ate there last time and the kids enjoyed it, so we decided to give it another try. You sit in these "cars" that are all inside, facing a giant movie screen, and it looks like a big drive in theater. They play old alien movies and cartoons on the big screen too, mostly black and white. It's a lot of fun.

And this was where we had our first melt down of the trip. We had done really well up till this point, but I guess the long days finally caught up with us, and the kids were getting into it. It took a little while to sit and talk things out, but then we were finally ready to get about our day. First we got some FP's for Star Tours, the new and improved ride, then we went to the Lights! Camera! Action! Stunt Show. I thought at first it was a "Cars" themed thing only, and it was a little bit, but they had cars doing stunts, giant explosions, people catching on fire, it was really neat and the kids liked it a lot.

After that we tried to do the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground, but it had a long line, so we skipped it and headed to the Muppet Show. Now, I *love* the Muppets, but Riley is indifferent and Regan HATES them with a passion. I have no idea why and it's my mission in life to sway her to my side. This was step one. It's a cute movie, and I think she liked it. Success!

We tried to finish up everything on one side of the park because I knew once we got to the Tower of Terror and Rockin' Roller Coaster, there would be no going back to the rest of the park! And sure enough, we finally headed that way and it was so crowded, still. There were 90-110 minute waits for each ride. Well, David and I told the kids to go ahead and line up for Tower of Terror, we would just sit and wait, we got FP's for it, well, the kids got in line, and someone handed them 2 FP's so they were able to ride it right away, they were so thrilled! Then they got in the single rider line for Rockin' Roller Coaster, and were able to ride that one pretty quick too, so we all decided to do the single rider line for that, and when we were done with that, our FP's for Tower of Terror were up, so we got to walk on to that one also. Do we know how to work it or what?!

By then it was dinner time, so we booked it back to the 50's Prime Time Cafe. I had heard a lot about this place and was really excited to try it out. It is like stepping back in time to the Leave it to Beaver Show or something. Everything looks like it came from the 50's, old black and white TV's at each table, the decor is all 50's, it's hilarious. The waitresses are supposed to like "mom" and fuss at you for putting your elbows on the table, tell you to take your hat off, etc. but our waitress didn't seem to be in on the game. The waitress at the table next to us though, she was a hoot and those people were loving her. The food was decent, but it was taking forever and by that point, I just wanted to get out of there.

We still had our Toy Story passes, so we headed there, via the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights! That was really cool, there are lights on EVERYTHING and they dance to music and it was really neat to see. We were kind of in a hurry, and it was again, super crowded, so we didn't linger, just made our way down the street, and over to Toy Story.

And surprisingly, Toy Story (unlike Soarin') lived up to its hype! It was a great ride! You get to shoot things along the way and try to get a higher score than the other people in your car. It was like being IN Andy's room, everything is huge so you feel like a little toy. It was really cute, and the lines were LONG, i was so glad we got our FP early!

And then we headed back. By this time the park was closing anyway, so we just made our way back to the hotel. The plan was to come back the next morning since we had a late flight home. We got back to our hotel and decided since it was our last night, we hit up the pool and hot tub one last time. But, there were a million high school kids swarming around so we didn't stay long (we're getting old).

Friday, December 16, 2011

Epcot Part Two

The plan for today was simple. Downtown Disney first, playing at Disney Quest, with lunch at T-Rex Cafe, and then back to Epcot for the World Showcase, and dinner in England.

So we got to Downtown Disney, had about an hour or so at Disney Quest, we played some old school games, I showed Regan Frogger, Q-Bert, and Pac-Man, and they have these cool bumper cars, they are two person, Buzz Lightyear bumper cars, one drives while the other one loads rubber balls in a canon and shoots the other cars. If you hit them in certain spots, their cars spin around and light up. They have a lot of virtual reality games, like one where we went on a virtual raft ride, a virtual magic carpet ride with Aladdin, and a Pirates of the Caribbean ride where we shoot other pirate ships and steal their booty!

Then we walked down to T-Rex for lunch, it was really cool. The same concept as Rainforest Cafe, but with dinosaurs. We sat under a giant glowing jelly fish, right next to the ice room, where a meteor shower would hit every 15 minutes, lighting the place up! There were all kinds of dinosaurs all around that would stomp and look around every once in a while. It was a neat place, and the food was pretty good too.

Then we went back to Disney Quest, while the rest of them played, I found a quite booth upstairs (this place was 5 floors of gaming goodness) and I put my feet up and took a little rest! By this time my feet had blisters on top of blisters, and there was no end to the walking! I was more interested in resting my feet than playing the games, so I just waited patiently for everyone to finish up and then we headed over to Epcot for the evening.

We grabbed some Fast Passes for Mission: Space, hit up Club Cool again, and then got Regan a Kim Possible mission. This was pretty neat, they give you a "cell phone" device that tells you all about your "mission". Her mission was to go to France and look around for clues for an evil mastermind that was trying to take over the world. There would be shop windows you would have to look in, and press the button on the phone and then a hologram looking thing would show up in the window with your next instructions. It was neat, and Regan really enjoyed it, and we all got a really good tour of France!

Then we headed back to England and checked in for our dinner at Rose and Crown Pub. We asked for a patio seat so we were prepared to wait a little while. While we waited, we browsed the Twinings Tea Shoppe, and let Regan practice her "British". Finally, our table was ready, on the patio like we wanted, and we had a great waiter from Windsor, England, who we enjoyed talking to. We had a great meal, and the sticky toffee pudding for dessert was one of our favorites! Also, our waiter told us that to get a great spot for the fireworks show, to just go down to the edge of the patio, where we were sitting, and we would have a great view.

While I settled the tab, David went down to secure our spot, but then was told we couldn't be there by a worker. So our waiter went over and told her we COULD be there! It was awesome. We had like, the BEST view of the whole park. We were right on the water, the only people there, front and center! The fireworks shows there are just epic. It was definitely one of the best fireworks shows I have ever seen.

By this time, we were all pretty wiped out, and it was Extra Magic Hours at Epcot so it was swarming with people. I had never seen a park that crowded, and we just weren't up to dealing with the crowds anymore, so David ran to Norway to get School Bread (something I had read about online and knew we had to try, and I was right, it was awesome!) and we headed back to our hotel room, and back to the pool and hot tub!
Downtown Disney

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Epcot Part One

Epcot Day One

We actually slept in a bit, had a leisurely morning. Our plan for the day was to do the front half of Epcot (Future World), and then head to Downtown Disney, maybe Disney Quest for a while. We got to Epcot, got our Fast Passes for Soarin', the ride we had been hearing SO much about, and the line was short so we went ahead and got in line to ride, only to find out we all thought it was the most boring ride known to man. Seriously, I don't know who thinks this is a great ride. I guess if you want to take a short snooze or something, but I don't know why you would waste valuable time, and a Fast Pass on it! As we were leaving, we found a family of four and gladly handed off our Fast Passes! They seemed happy, maybe they hadn't ridden it yet either.

Then we made our way over the Mission:Space, which still makes me sick to my stomach and dizzy as all get out. The kids liked it though, especially making fun of me for being so dizzy. Then we got Fast Passes for Test Track and decided to hit up Morocco for lunch. They have a pretty good quick service restaurant, we each got the chicken plate, with grilled chicken, tzadziki, tabouleh, hummus, and cous cous, pita bread and baklava for dessert. They actually gave us an extra plate, so David was VERY happy we made the trip to Morocco. It was decent food too. And while we ate, the kitchen staff gave us a musical treat while banging drums and singing some traditional Moroccan songs while they worked. It was very entertaining. That's one thing I love about the World Showcase of Epcot, learning about other cultures and meeting all the people!

After lunch, we took the boat back to Future World, and finished up the rides and pavilions we wanted to do there. One of our favorites last time and this time was Club Cool, a place where you can get samples of sodas from around the world. The worst is called Beverly, from Italy. I don't even know how to describe it, but it's nasty! There's aqua fresca from Mexico which is good, a Ginger-Ale from Germany I think, that's pretty good, the Israeli one isn't bad, a honey, lemon type, and there's a watermelon one from China, but I didn't try that. It was fun watching the kids try all of them and then hit the Beverly!

One of the neatest things of the day was The Seas pavilion. This is a Finding Nemo themed area, where you can see very large, intricate salt water aquariums. But they have a show called "Turtle Talk with Crush" and it was very cute. Crush, the sea turtle from Finding Nemo, comes on screen and talks to you, answers questions, and even plays with the little kids in the audience. It was a lot of fun, and Regan really enjoyed looking around the aquariums.

We finally left, early for the day, and Regan and I decided we had enough for the day and went back to the hotel where we changed into our swimsuits, had dinner at the hotel food court, and then swam and sat in a hot tub that we found kind of hidden out of the way, behind the water slides. I really loved our hotel, the Caribbean Beach. Even though it was huge, I would stay there again in a heartbeat. The pool was awesome, the rooms were nice, and the walk over the bridge each day to the food court and pool was very pretty. They had a playground along the way, with hammocks, and several beach areas where you could swim when it was warm enough.

David and Riley headed to Downtown Disney again and hit up Disney Quest. It was the one thing David really wanted to do on our last trip and we never got around to it. He and Riley were there for HOURS! They loved it, as I figured it would be right up their alley. Then as they left when Disney Quest closed, what so happened to be right across from them but another Wolfgang Puck, so that's where they ate again!

By the time they got back to the hotel, Regan and I were in bed, cuddled up and watching Finding Nemo! (which was cool because we were staying in a Nemo themed room!)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure (Hogwart's!)

Universal Studios

Truth be told, this was the day I was most looking forward to. I'm a huge Mickey fan and all, but to actually walk inside the pages of a Harry Potter book, well, it was my dream come true! I'm a HUGE Harry Potter fan, have read all the books multiple times, seen all the movies (multiple times) and just could NOT wait to walk through Hogsmeade, and let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint!

First of all, we called a taxi, the kids were probably equally excited to be riding in a taxi as going to Universal! We ate a small breakfast of Pop Tarts and GO energy drinks in our hotel before getting the cab, and headed on our way. Once in the park, I knew from my research, to head straight to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in order to ride The Forbidden Journey without a long wait.

We got to Hogsmeade and there was already a crowd starting, but I saw the Hogwart's Express train, and all the shops, and then, off in the distance, rising up into the clouds, there it was, Hogwart's Castle! I couldn't wait to go inside, to see every room, every detail. First, some muggle told me I had to get a locker for my backpack, so I did that while David waited with the kids. Then, in my haste to see the castle, we walked off, unknowingly leaving Riley behind while he was looking at his cell phone and not paying attention to his parents who had other things on their mind at the time! We got all the way down the line (said to be a 20 minute wait at this point) and turned around and realized Riley was no where to be found!) I started to panic a little bit, but figured he would be right behind us, and we tried to call him but the reception was bad, my phone was in my locker, David was mad that Riley didn't keep up, it really took the enjoyment out of the tour for me.

But, we got a call from Riley, he was waiting for us in the gift shop, so we finished the tour of the castle and rode the Forbidden Journey, and let me just say, it was AWESOME! The castle looks just like in the movies, there are pictures that have people talking to you, and moving around, at one point you see Ron, Hermione and Harry talking about ditching class, Ron tries a spell and it makes snow fall on you in line! You go through the greenhouse where they grew plants for potions, through Dumbledore's office, and the Sorting Hat is there talking to you also. And the ride, I have never ridden anything like that, ever! You are in a row of 4 seats, and it takes you on a trip with Harry, just like you are on a broomstick. You play Quidditch, dodge the Whomping Willow, face to face with giant spiders that spray acid on you, and fly with dragons! It was so cool. Each time I rode the ride I had my mouth open the whole time, in awe that I just flew around with Harry Potter!

I know, I'm a kid. Anyway...after we rode the Forbidden Journey, we rode the Dragon Challenge, and the kids rode the Flight of the Hypogriff, and then we had lunch at the Three Broomsticks. We had the feast, which was grilled meat and corn on the cob and salad, and of course, Butter Beer!! It was SO good too.

Afterward we just walked around the shops, Honeyduke's where they had chocolate frogs and Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Zonko's Magic Shop where they had all kinds of tricks, even an Extendo-Ear! They had a Hogsmeade post office where you can send mail with a real Hogsmeade post stamp, a cauldron shop, Ollivander's Wand Shop, it was really like walking through the pages of the book.

As we left Hogsmeade, there was a magic show going on that Riley really wanted to see, so we sat in on that. Riley hadn't spent any of his spending money yet so of course, at the end of the sales pitch, I mean, magic show, he was ready to buy all of the kits! We told him to hold off, think about it, and we would make our way back to that store before we left if he really couldn't live without something.

We finally made our way out to the rest of the park, through the Dr. Seuss kiddie section, onto the Superhero section where we rode the Hulk coaster and Regan and Riley enjoyed it so much that they rode it many, many times while David and I sat and relaxed a bit. Then we went to Dudley Do Right's Buzz Saw Falls or something like that, and we saw how wet the people were getting off the ride, but the kids wanted to ride so bad, so David and I got out our panchos and decided to ride with the kids. We did pretty good, basically got my face and feet wet, but the kids did not fare so well, they were drenched solid!

Then we went to the Jurassic Park area, and that was fun, they had a great ride like you were going through the movie. Regan got scared at the end when the T-Rex jumped out at us just before you go down a big drop, but they rode it again anyway. It was another pancho ride for me and David so we stayed pretty dry, except for the face full of water I got when David bent over at the last second!

By this point, we were magically back at Hogsmeade, where we rode the Forbidden Journey a couple more times, Regan bought another stuffed animal (a unicorn she named Lightning) and had one last glorious drink of Butter Beer (in a souvenir cup this time). We stopped back by the magic shop and got Riley these red lights that he can play tricks with. Then we headed back towards the front to ride any rides we missed, or that the kids wanted to ride again. The crowds were perfect that day, we really only had to wait for a few minutes for the Forbidden Journey but the rest was walk on, all day long! As we walked back through Seuss-ville, we met Cindy Lou Who and a few other Who's, they seemed to take a liking to Riley and he was a little freaked out by their dog-looking faces!

Then we grabbed a taxi and headed to Downtown Disney again, for another yummy dinner at Wolfgang Puck's, and then back to the hotel (after a short walk back to WP where Riley left his gift bag) where we headed down to the pool so the kids could swim in the heated pool while David and I sat in the hot tub soaking our aching feet for a bit!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party


I was so excited about the Christmas Party! I didn't know what to expect, but I had heard that if you want autographs from some of the rarer characters, this was the place to get them. Thank God my kids aren't into autographs, cause the line for the Seven Dwarves was HOURS long!!

We got in early (after a worker told us our party passes were for the day before, uh, buddy, I have my vacation planned down to the minute on my excel spreadsheet, don't make me whip it out here!) He was wrong, we got in...and headed for the rides. Splash Mountain HAD to be ridden again. I tried to find a souvenir from the ride for Regan but they don't make anything anymore. Which was sad because Regan would just LOVE a Brer Rabbit doll!

Then we headed back around through some of the rides we missed the day before, most of them were too "kiddie" for our kids, but they enjoyed them. The spinning tea cups, the Peter Pan, Snow White and It's a Small World rides (Regan declared Small World "creepy"). We ended up back by Space Mountain where the kids rode it again, and again, and again. There were no lines since people were busy watching the early parade, but we decided to stay and see the late parade. David and I found an arcade where they had a game that you lay down in, so we just laid there for a while waiting on the kids.

Then we headed back to the castle in time for the Castle lighting show, and it was super cool. They had these laser lights (I'm not even gonna pretend to know how they did it) but it would make the castle look like a giant gingerbread house, or a big Lego house, or have people's pictures on it, it was really neat. Then they did a massive fireworks show right over the castle. They had this long zip line from the top of the castle, where Tinker Bell in a light up costume, got on the zip line and rode it all the way down, it was so neat! Riley just kept telling me I was the best mom in the world for bringing them, and they loved the fireworks show!!

The best part of the evening was free cookies and cocoa, and they were good, not some cheap nasty stuff! So each time we saw a stand, we would stop and get a cookie and a cup of cocoa. We were wearing shorts and short sleeves, so it wasn't exactly cocoa weather, but it had cooled off some, so it was nice. Then we made our way to Main Street to get a spot for the late parade. We found a great spot and had a seat on the curb and just people watched, and castle watched! The castle Christmas lights are AMAZING and so nice to see it all lit up with dripping icicle lights and it would change colors and it was just so neat to sit and watch.

Then the parade started and it was AWESOME! My family is not into parades (and I love them!) so I had to do a bit of arm twisting to get them to agree to let me see this one. It was so neat though, and I know they all loved it. They had really cool toy soldiers, and gingerbread men, and all the Princesses on this HUGE float, and it was just so great. After the parade, we made our way down Main Street, with the fake snow falling on us, and slowly made our way to our bus. It was a magical Christmas party and we enjoyed it so much! It was another late night, but again, the kids sat in bed filling out their journals and talking about all the great rides we rode that day.

Animal Kingdom

Animal Kingdom

Today was Animal Kingdom day! We had a late breakfast with Donald Duck, so we weren't in a huge hurry to get up and at 'em. But, it was WAY more crowded than I had expected. I guess the free dining plan brings out a LOT of people!

We got to the park around 10:30, and our breakfast was for 10:55, but I had heard that the Expedition Everest ride would run out of Fast Passes, so while I hustled the kids to Africa to get checked in for breakfast, David ran to the opposite side of the park to get Fast Passes for the ride. We met up again at Tusker House, while the kids had their picture made with Donald Duck in full safari gear!

The breakfast was a buffet and it was awesome! Another one of our favorite meals of the week. The buffet was huge and Riley comes to the table with a plate of three donuts! They had ham that was some of the best ham I've ever had! The juice was a delicious orange-guava, and they had biscuits and gravy, bacon and eggs, fritattas, pastries, potatoes, all kinds of yummy breakfasty things. And while we ate, Mickey, Daisy, and Goofy all came to our table and signed autographs, and Goofy passed out noisemakers and had the kids dancing around the room! It was cute, but my kids were being party poopers and wouldn't get up and dance with me and Goofy!

After breakfast, we decided to get Fast Passes for the safari, and we headed to Rafiki's Planet Watch. It's like a conservation area and petting zoo, but you have to take a short train ride there. Regan got her first souvenir of the trip there (I gave each of the kids $50 for the week to buy what they wanted) and Regan picked out a baby Simba wrapped in a giant leaf blanket, it's cute, but she wouldn't hear of us having him sent to our hotel, she carried him around ALL DAY. The petting zoo was lame, not too many animals out yet, so we headed back to go on our safari.

The safari is always cool, especially when it's not too hot to see any animals. We got to see a lot of really cool animals, a baby elephant, an Okapi, which looks like a cow wearing zebra pajamas, some monkeys, an ostrich, a cheetah, rhinos and hippos, and some really cute giraffes. It was a bumpy ride and at one point, Regan was convinced that she was almost tossed out of the truck! It was funny, but she held on tight after that.

Then we made our way over to Everest, only to find out the ride was being worked on, so it was closed down. We waited a bit, then thought we would head back and let the kids ride one of the water rides, but before we could get there we saw that Everest was running again. So we headed back to Everest and they said it was almost about to open, but you could only ride if you had a Fast Pass. Well, we had ours and we were about 5th in line, so we were on the first ride once they opened it, we only had to wait about 5 minutes. Then, as soon as we got off, we noticed the single rider line was empty so we got in that and rode again right away. Regan got sat next to a British guy who talked to her some, and she loves the British accent, and apparently he asked her "Is it scary up there?" so all day she kept saying to us "Is it SCAR-EY up THAR?" in her best British accent! This was one of the kids favorite rides and they wanted to ride it again and again, but by then the line was super long.

So we headed over to the Dinosaur ride. It was great, it was one of my favorites last time and I knew Regan would love it. It did scare her, and the pictures they take of you during the ride, hers were hilarious! David always tried to look like he was sleeping, but Regan's were so funny. She was really freaked out on the Dinosaur ride, but she loved it.

By then it was almost time to head to the Christmas Party, but we had one last thing to do, the "It's Tough to be a Bug" 3D movie inside the giant tree of life. This was another favorite of mine on our last trip, and sure enough, it did not disappoint! At the end, when it's over, they tell you to wait and not leave the theater until all the cockroaches and ants leave first, and then you feel this rumble under your seat, like the cockroaches are running right under your butt, I swear, I never saw Regan move so fast, she FLEW out of her seat and across the aisle! I was laughing so hard and she was freaking out! It was the funniest thing I've ever seen.

Then we loaded up on the bus again and headed back to Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Magic Kingdom

Magic Kingdom

Cinderella's Royal Table

It was another rainy day, but again, we were blessed. We wore our panchos that I brought from home for maybe 10 minutes throughout the day. We got up, got dressed, headed out early, we had a date in the Castle!

We got to Magic Kingdom for "rope drop" which is when they officially open the park each morning. We saw Mickey waving at everyone and we headed straight to Tomorrowland, where we knew the kids would want to spend most of their time. We were early and there weren't many people in the parks yet, so we walked right on to the Buzz Lightyear ride, and grabbed Fast Passes for Space Mountain for later and were able to walk right on then also. Then it was time for breakfast so we headed up to the castle and checked in.

Now, I had heard about the "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique" for a while, it's a salon where girls can go and get their hair done in an up-do, with pixie dust sprinkled on them, and even get a Princess gown and slippers. I had tried asking Regan without giving away too much before we left, if she was interested in dressing up like the Princesses anymore and I got a huge thumbs down. She's not a girlie girl, she's not into that Princess stuff anymore, but let me tell you, after seeing all those little girls in Princess costumes with their hair all up and sparkly, even Regan the tom boy changed her tune! I felt bad, I should have seen that one coming and booked her a spot in the boutique anyway, but I didn't. As a result, I think we were the only ones having breakfast that weren't sparkling and glittering.

But, they called our name, we got in line, first up is a picture with Cinderella inside the castle. I don't know if it was being in the castle, or seeing Cinderella up close, or seeing MY daughter hugging Cinderella, but I teared up. This was the moment that made the trip worth it all. Regan had the biggest smile on her face and they took her picture and sent us on up to breakfast, I felt like a kid again. Breakfast wasn't anything remarkable, juice, eggs, bacon, sausage, etc. But they called David and I, Lord and Lady, and Riley and Regan were the Prince and Princess. They would announce each Princess and we were the first table she would come too, sign our autograph books (Riley's too) and then stand with both kids so we could get pictures. I was in heaven! First we met Snow White, and then Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), then Ariel and Belle. They gave the Princesses a magic wand, and the Princes got swords, and they all got a little star that said "Wishing Star" and at the end of the meal there was a "wishing ceremony" where you waved your wand or sword in the air and made a wish, it was too cute!

So after breakfast, we headed back to Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain again. Then we did one of my favorite things, the Laugh Floor with Mike and Sully from Monster's, Inc. It was the funniest interactive show, and they used people from the audience, and it was hilarious. The kids weren't too interested in seeing a show, but they enjoyed it. We spent some time knocking out the Tomorrowland rides, and then started heading off to see some of the other areas of the park.

The other favorite ride of the day was Splash Mountain. Regan had never heard of Brer Bear and Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit, but she loved it. I think that was her favorite ride the whole week. We rode it several times, and I mean several! Thankfully you didn't get too wet, I just got a face full of water a couple of times, but we stayed mostly dry. Then we back tracked and did the Haunted Mansion and a few other rides.

We had dinner reservations at Crystal Palace, where we had eaten before, with Winnie the Pooh and friends, but I had heard about a place called Whispering Canyon Cafe that was supposed to be a lot of fun, and inside the Wilderness Lodge and we've always wanted to see the Wilderness Lodge so I called and luckily was able to change our reservations! And around this time, we had some time to kill and sore feet so we rode the old steam train a few times around the park to give ourselves a break!

Then we took the water taxi over to the Wilderness Lodge. It was about a 10 minute ride and we all kind of decided that's where we want to stay next time we go to Disney! It looked like the inside of a great lodge in Oregon or something. HUGE totem poles inside and this massive Christmas tree. That was one thing, seeing all the holiday decorations was so neat. Everything was done in the same theme as the park or hotel, and it was very festive. We sat for a bit in front of the HUGE fireplace, they have a stream that starts INSIDE the lobby, that was cool. Then we got checked in for our dinner.

Dinner was awesome! Probably our best meal the whole week. On the dining plan you can have a bottomless milk shake as your drink, and or course, we could only drink one, but Riley was so sure he was going to have one of every flavor! We each got the skillet meal, all you can eat of grilled chicken, pulled pork, brisket and ribs, with corn, mashed potatoes and beans. Very yummy! And bread pudding for dessert (that we took back to our room because we were so full at that point!) But the restaurant would do stick horse races, and if you asked for ketchup, they would bring you about 15 bottles of ketchup, then when the next family asked for ketchup, you had to bring it to them! It was a fun place, and one that we will definitely eat at again!

By this time, we had high hopes of heading back to the park for Extra Magic Hours (the park was open till midnight) but we just couldn't do it. It was around 9:30 and we were wiped out. And we had another early morning/long day ahead of us the next day. The kids didn't even mind, that's how tired they were. We took the boat back to Magic Kingdom and then our bus back to our hotel.

I got each of the kids a journal and every night they enjoyed sitting in our hotel bed and filling out the journal with what rides they rode, what hidden Mickey's they found, and what we ate and where. It was a nice wind down time and time for us to all share our favorite things of the day with each other. We also enjoyed getting back to the room and seeing what little surprises Mousekeeping left for us in our room! The first night was a momma and baby bunny made out of hand towels! So cute. Regan left them a thank you note for the next day.

We're Here!!

We did it, we surprised the kids yesterday and got on the plane. They were so funny, they didn't really believe it till we got here. We got checked in to our hotel, the Caribbean Beach, and then went to Downtown Disney and ate dinner at Wolfgang Puck.  It was really good. Then we walked around and looked at all the neat shops and played with some toys. Today is Magic Kingdom! And breakfast with Cinderella!  I can't wait, I mean, the kids can't wait!

Sent from my Sprint EVO

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Big Reveal!

Here is the video of the big surprise to the kids! The story was...we were having wood floors put in while we were gone, so we needed to pack everything up and take the dog and cat, and go stay with Mimi and Papa for a few days while the floors were being put in. The kids were very excited about that, already declaring who would get what room. Riley said he was going to be sleeping on the couch in front of the TV, and we told him no, he would not be sleeping there. He was adamant, and made a bet that he would be sleeping there, or he would be David's maid until Christmas! Well, we knew that we were leaving town in a matter of hours, so we agreed to that bet!

We sat them down at the table and said we had some "house rules" to go over with Mimi and Papa, and I gave them an envelope that had the words, "We are going to D I S N E Y W O R L D right now" inside, scrambled up. They had to unscramble them. Regan started spelling out R I LE Y, and Riley got the Disney part pretty quick. He was so funny when they got to the "right now" part, he didn't believe us until I showed him plane tickets with the date on them! And Regan, realizing we are leaving RIGHT NOW, declares, "But I have to go pee!"

So, we load up back in the car, and Mimi and Papa took us to the airport. We had a direct flight which was nice, and got in around 5:30, went to our "Magical Express" bus and had a tour of a few of the Disney hotels before they got us to ours. We checked in, found our room, luckily it was exactly the room I requested, just a short walk over the lake to the food court and swimming pool.

We wouldn't be getting our bags for another couple of hours, so we just put our stuff down and headed right back out to Downtown Disney. I had been hearing wonderful things about Wolfgang Puck's restaurant there, so that was the plan for dinner. It was raining when we got in, but it was perfect, it rained while we were on the bus, and while we ate dinner, but not at all while we were walking around!

We ate at Wolfgang Puck, Riley is considered an "adult" by Disney standards, so he got to order off the adult menu all week, and Regan got to order off the adult menu at any quick service meals, but not at table meals, which worked out just fine. Wolfgang Puck was as yummy as I had heard about, the Creme Brulee to die for (we all got dessert with every meal, for free since we got a free dining plan!)

Then we walked around Downtown Disney. We went to the World of Disney which is one of the largest toy stores or something, and then to the Lego store where they had Lego races going on, we found T-Rex which is where we would have lunch in a few days, and then we headed back to our hotel to get a good nights sleep, we had an early breakfast with Cinderella the next morning!

The Trip

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christmas Cookies

Just showing off some Christmas cookies I made for Regan's Girl Scout Troop's Christmas party. I thought they turned out pretty cute! They are melted snowman cookies!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Christmas Picture

I always like to take pictures of the kids with the church's decorations cause they decorate so much nicer than we do! But of course, the kids don't exactly cooperate!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gingerbread Houses

It has become a yearly tradition that we go with our Girl Scout troop to our co-leaders church and build Gingerbread Houses. It's a lot of fun, they feed us and provide the houses already assembled, and if you ask me, that's the hard part! We split the house right down the middle, one kid gets the front and a side, one kid gets the back and a side. Riley decided to pay homage to Eminem and so his side is a lot of MM and "legit" stuff (whatever). Both kids were pretty minimalist this year, we normally have so much stuff on the house you can barely carry it out of there! But, it's a fun tradition, and one we look forward to every year. This was the church's 16th year of hosting this event, so who knows, maybe one day we will be like a lot of the people we see there, and be assembling houses with our own grandkids!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Regan's Surgery

Regan finally had her surgery, tonsils and adenoids out, and tubes in. We had to be at the hospital by 7:30, so I took her while dad got Riley to school, and I was surprised that we were in and out pretty quick. We did sit in the room for a bit, but they took her back around 9:30, and she was out by 10:15, and we waited in recovery for a while and then were home around 1. She had a fair amount of pain, but even the night after surgery she ate 2 bowls of rice with coconut milk, and on day 3 she ate a couple of bean and cheese burritos from Taco Cabana. She was never too content with just the ice cream. So, we were able to find her some soft foods that she was okay with.

Here are a few pictures of the patient while she recovered. She got bored after a couple of days, I had gotten her a cute book from Costco that we colored in, and she wanted to make a cake, a rainbow cake, and I let her mix the colors herself, and we ended up with a Mardi Gras cake! She wants to go to Louisiana so bad, so she was so happy to have that cake!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween


Our neighbors put on an awesome little Halloween party every year, the Saturday before Halloween, and I missed it last year since I was in Romania, but this year I got to go and it was so much fun. They totally transform their backyard into a Halloween carnival. They had a "haunted jump" and scary trail behind their shed, complete with fog machine, bobbing for apples, face paint, ring toss, and a ton of cute foods to munch on. All of Regan's neighborhood pals were there and it was a lot of fun for the grown ups sitting around the deck talking (and freezing) late into the night!

Then on Halloween we all went out with the neighbors and trick or treated together. Riley wasn't as into it this year, he didn't even want to wear a costume, but I told him no costume, no candy, so he settled on a scary clown mask. About halfway through, he and I went back to the house to give out candy (he really just wanted to scare some little kids). Regan had fun with her friends though, she was a Monster High Egyptian Princess and I guess we got our moneys worth out of the costume, she wore it plenty of times! Oh, and I decided to be a Zombie, so that was fun too!

Friday, October 28, 2011

School Halloween

Regan's school had a Halloween party and I brought cupcakes for the kids and they painted pumpkins and ate a bunch of cookies and cupcakes and left on a big time sugar rush. It was cute though.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Neighborhood Fall Fest

One thing I like a lot about our neighborhood (and it's not the ridiculously priced water that we're trying to fight) but our neighborhood often puts on parties for the kids. Back to school party, movie at the pool, Fall Fest, etc.

Tonight was Fall Fest, and the kids had a great time. They had sandwiches, chips and drinks and cupcakes for the kids to decorate, pumpkins to paint or carve, scary rings to decorate and a cake walk where both kids won candy!!

Then at the end of the night, they gave out awards. Regan won for "Scariest Pumpkin" (hers is the big one on the left) and Riley won for "Grossest Pumpkin" (his is the small one that is puking his guts out). And then they had 4 pumpkins lined up for "Best Overall Pumpkin" and the one that Regan painted was in line to win that prize also. They did an applause-o-meter and sure enough, she won (she said it was because I was so loud) but since the runner up hadn't gotten any candy, she gladly gave her prize to him. So, she technically won, but was sweet about giving it up. I think they did a great job, and I now have a cute collection of pumpkins by my front door, and I didn't have to mess up my kitchen to get them!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Longhorn Cavern

Regan's class went on a field trip to Longhorn Cavern. She was very excited about it, we packed a lunch and I met them out there. We had never been, and I'm of the opinion that "if you've seen one cave, you've seen them all." And well, I'm still of that opinion. But, it was fun getting to know her new friends and their parents.

And this cave does have a lot of history. It was supposed to be the hide out for LBJ when he was President if anything (like bombs) broke out while he was in Texas. The man who owned the cave in the early 1900's ran a Speak-Easy out of it, where they had food, drinks, and gambling (I can't imagine walking around that rocky cave floor in high heels. I could barely do it in tennis shoes!) And before that, it was the hide out for the notorious Sam Bass gang and even a place for the Indians to hold their council meetings.

So, all in all, it was a good field trip. I took Regan with me afterward since we wouldn't make it back to school in time to do anything, we stopped for lunch at a little place in Burnet, and then killed some time "antiquing". It was a fun afternoon, and then we had to get back to the school to get Riley. The last picture is Regan showing off her new wolf necklace we got in the gift shop. She told me sometimes she wishes she could be a wolf.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gateway Fall Fest

Well, it was nice to attend a Fall Fest where I wasn't running myself crazy working at booths and setting/cleaning up! I did volunteer for Book Fair though, can't seem to escape the Book Fair! I don't mind though, I get the good books before they're sold out. But, it was the first annual Gateway Fall Fest, I turned the kids lose with wristbands and tickets and they came back hyped up on cotton candy, kettle corn and snow cones. They had a good time, although it hardly felt like a fall fest since we all ended up nearly sunburned afterward. It was HOT! But the kids had a great time, and here are pictures of them doing the "eat the donut on the string" game and Regan bobbing for apples, and let me just say, she would NOT have done this if we hadn't JSUT finished a round of antibiotics! That water was nasty.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Month Later...

Can't believe it's been a month since I posted. I think it's because there's not much going on, but then when I look back at it, I have had a lot going on. I'll try to do better!!

So, the past month or so...I started a Bible Study at church, Lisa Bevere's Lioness Arising, and so far, I highly recommend it. It's been a little difficult to read at times (for me personally) but as usual with her studies, exactly what I need, when I need it. David and I joined 24 Hour Fitness. I go most mornings with a friend of mine. Monday and Friday is Zumba, Tuesday and Saturday is Aqua Zumba or Water Aerobics and Wednesday is the worst, Kickboxing. One day they had a substitute teacher and that was Nightclub Cardio and it made me realize just how long it's been since I've been in a nightclub. It was fun though, but I'm glad no one was video taping. Or maybe they should...I KNOW I could win that grand prize on America's Funniest Home Videos!!

I've been having a lot of hormone imbalance issues lately, and I went to my doctor, and she wanted me to go to an endocrinologist but there was a 6 month wait, and I finally told David one night, you know who I would *love* to go see, but he probably has an even longer wait list, is Dr. Glenn from church. He says, oh, yeah, I have coffee with him every Sunday. Uh, WHAT?! He sees him at Starbucks before church every Sunday and they talk. So he asked Dr. Glenn about me and he said sure, for me to come on in, he would see me before hours in 2 weeks. Talk about favor!!

So, I went to see Dr. Glenn and that was the most interesting, eye opening appointment I've had in my life! This guy is a medical genius. But, he put me on some supplements, and told me to try a low glycemic diet and started some preventative things since I have a pretty high cancer risk in my family. He even wants me to start Regan on it, to get her hormones off on the right foot.

In the midst of all of this, Regan has had strep again, and a stomach virus that she passed to Riley who passed it to David. I'm not going near anyone till it's gone, I absolutely hate to be sick.

I also had a consultation with Regan's teacher and principal and we decided it would be best for Regan to move her back to 3rd grade. She was pretty upset about it at first, but I can already see a big difference in her. She had pretty much shut down before and was getting so confused and upset that she couldn't keep up. But now, she's learning, she's involved, she's writing chapter books! She has made friends, another girl in her class also came from 4th grade, so they don't feel so alone now. She was a very young 4th grader, so age wise she fits right in, and her teacher is really nice. I like her a lot and she seems very loving, which Regan responds well to.

And then this morning, I took Regan in for a consultation to see about having her tonsils removed. With this last bout of strep, I had them check her records and she's had it 5 times in the past 12 months, so we got the referral and went in this morning. Before the doctor would even look at her throat though, he had some serious issues with her ears and sent us to audiology to do a hearing test. We had one done last year, so it was nice to have a baseline, and they could see that she's having some hearing loss. Her ear drums are retracting, from a negative pressure that is building up behind her ears. He said the ear drums are supposed to be taut, and hers are caving in and causing her bones to be misshapen. So, he wants her tonsils and adenoids out and tubes put in ASAP. The next available surgery, no waiting until a school holiday which is what I was hoping for.

So, on Friday November 4th, we will be having that done. He's hoping by removing the adenoids, that will reduce the pressure and she won't need tubes for long, the tubes he's putting in will last about 8-12 months and hopefully that will be all. But, I'm glad that I pushed for an ENT consult, and I'm glad we're getting this done now! We did all the pre-addmissions and they gave her a blanket from the Linus Project, a charity that makes blankets for kids who have surgery and it's adorable and she loves it!

And Riley, he's loving school, but he didn't get a great first report card. He's still having some issues with everything being on the tablet and so he's forgotten to log in and do some work, so we're working on that. He broke the screen on his tablet and the screen on his phone, and I can't believe he'll be 13 in just a few weeks. A bonafide teenager. God help us! Not really, he's a good kid, but man, I always thought it was an expression, beat the girls off with a stick, but not so in his case. He has girls lining up already. I'm scared!! He's too cute for his own good!!

Well, I guess that's about it. Next time I won't wait a month and then the update won't be as long. Hopefully!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My Birthday Miracle!

Around the weekend July 4th, Monte got out of the house. He had done this quite a bit, he would go out for a bit, explore the backyard, but wouldn't venture out too far cause he's a big scaredy cat. Well, for whatever reason, when he got out over the holiday weekend, he never came home. We have a big deck in our backyard and sometimes he would go under it, but we could never see him under there. We also live next to a greenbelt where there are racoons, rabbits, coyotes, and even a mountain lion has been spotted. So, we prayed about it, the kids prayed for him to come home, but honestly, as the days wore on, I gave him up as eaten by a coyote.

Then about a week or two ago, David and I were watching TV late one night, and heard a cat fight. Hissing, scratching, screaming, so we grabbed a flashlight and ran outside in time to see our little Monte run up under the deck. We called, we stomped on the deck, we set out food and water, but we could never get him to come in. David did almost grab a possum thinking it was Monte though, that was pretty funny, and gross, those things are really ugly!!

Then again, a night or two later, heard the cat fight, and saw Monte run across the yard. I don't know why he wouldn't come to us or come meow at the back door like he used to. But, we prayed for him to be safe and have food and water, and come home soon.

Then, on my 40th birthday (or, the 1st anniversary of my 39th birthday, as I prefer to think of it) David let Princess out, and when I opened the back door to let her in, who is standing there but Mr. Monte?! He was meowing and I gently walked up and grabbed him and got him inside ASAP, got him some food and water and sure enough, he walked right over to the dog food and started chowing down. He always did prefer dog food (he's a little special).

So, wow, after over 2 months living on the street, he's skinny, he's scrawny, he's dirty, and roughed up around the edges, but he's SUPER lovey, doesn't want us to put him down, he just sits on our lap all day if we let him. The kids are SO happy to have their Mont-ster home!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day Weekend

My cousin Christina and her 2 youngest kids, Jeremiah and Joy, came to visit us for Labor Day weekend! We were so excited. They came in Friday night, and so Saturday morning we got up and hit the road. We went to Chuy's for lunch (a must for any visiting guests) and especially during Hatch Green Chili Festival! I feel like a drug dealer, I got another one hooked on the Creamy Jalepeno (mwah ha ha!)

Then we went to the Capitol Building and took a ton of pictures. There were about 10 different Quinceneras there for photos also, so the girls loved checking out all the frilly dresses. Then we went to Big Top Candy Shop and got some good old fashioned candy, and an Italian Creme Soda (yum).

Then we went home, where David had been smoking a brisket all day, and had that for dinner. Sunday we went to church, and I had a Groupon for Texas Jumping Beans, so we took them there for a while to blow off some steam. And Kenzie and Eli joined us there so Tina could meet her newest baby cousin!

Then Tina's oldest son Josh, who is in the Air Force and stationed in San Antonio, came up for the afternoon. We went to Mighty Fine since we took Jeremiah there when he came to visit and couldn't stop talking about the "automatic hand washers" and the two-way mirror in the boy's bathroom! So we sat on the patio so the kids could play on the playground and eat their burgers and we ate Cajun food from Razzoo's!

It was over too quick, as Monday morning they had to get back to Houston. Especially with half of Texas on fire, they ended up in a lot of traffic and smoke was everywhere by this point. It was a good trip though, our kids love getting together, and I'm so glad they have cousins close by to play with.