Friday, August 28, 2009

Random Summer Fun...

I have a few pictures of the kids from back in June that I wanted to post before summer is officially over (maybe it already is?) Collier has really gotten into playing with her baby dolls...it's so sweet to see that nurturing instinct! Yesterday she was walking around the house with a baby under one arm and her "purse" under the other! She loves to give them kisses...

She gives them a bottle...
She feeds them...
The boys LOVE to play pirates! They put on pirate hats and come out to their fort and let their imaginations run wild. It's so much fun to watch them! One day I looked over and they had brought their little table and chairs to the top of the fort, and they were having a pirate meal on their "pirate ship." What will I do when they're too old to be my little pirates? Curse the thought, me hardies!
Captain/Cowboy Griffin!
Both of the boys are dirt magnets, but Anderson seems to be especially drawn to the stuff. Even if he's not out long he comes in covered from head to toe! Check out this sweet face!

Anderson and Collier cuddled up!
One day we went to the lake for the day to visit Granny and Papa Dave. The kids had a great time swimming with Bryce and Elise!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

So what about Collier?

You'll be happy to know that she had a delightful week with Nana and Poppy! I know she loved having one on one attention for a week, and I think Nana and Poppy enjoyed it too! I'm going to make my second attempt at posting a video of her--she has become quite the "ham" and entertainer! This was about a month ago when we were supposed to be having a family movie night, but she's not much into movies (it's amazing how the boys can zone out when they're watching a movie). And you can see I've been teaching her some of my dance moves...
video

That just makes me laugh every time I watch it!
Those are just a couple pictures Mom took of her while we were gone. She loved playing with their dog, Rusty!

My Disney Tips...

Well, this is my last official Disney post! Here are some things I thought I'd share for any of you planning a trip to the magical place!

· I looked at a lot of guide books, and my favorite was Walt Disney World With Kids 2009 by Kim Wright Wiley. It doesn’t have the most information, but it has the most important information for people going to Disney with kids. It’s really easy to read and laid out well.
· Have a quiet week before you go…we planned way too much the week before we left, and I think we started our vacation “tired.”
· We weren’t able to do the Dining Plan because we were with a group, but if you can do it I think it’s worth it!
· Unfortunately, most of the character meals are buffets. If you’re not on the Dining Plan, try to limit the buffets to the ones w/ your favorite characters—it’s $100 for two adults and two kids. We loved Chef Mickey’s, but we ended up cancelling most of the other ones. I’d recommend picking the one with your favorite characters.
· We got to the parks early each day and then came back for ALL of us to take naps in the afternoon.
· Our boys loved the pool at the hotel so much that we tried to work in time for that most days after our nap—even if it was just 30/45 minutes.
· We spent one entire day at the pool and were SO glad we had planned that—it satisfied the boys’ pool longings and gave us a day to relax (since the parks are not relaxing ). We did it our last day, but I think it would be great to do it in the middle of the week too.
· If you can possibly take two days for the Magic Kingdom I think that’s the way to go! We did Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland the first day and Frontierland and Adventureland the second day. Also, if you are able to go two days I would spread them out and go to either Animal Kingdom or Hollywood Studios in between.
· I checked our local Disney store from time to time before we went and bought some things on sale to bring with us. I just packed them in my suitcase, and every now and then I’d pull something out to surprise them. I think this really helped curb their desire to stop for those expensive souvenirs at the parks. They actually didn’t even ask for much, so I brought a lot of the stuff back with me and returned it when we got home.
· Make reservations for T-Rex and Rainforest CafĂ© before you go—when we went to T-Rex for dinner the wait was very long, but with our reservation we sat down right away.
· Dollar Tree ponchos came in handy and were much cheaper than the ones at Disney.
· We let the boys wear swim trunks to the parks because they are cool and they dry fast after wet rides.
· At Animal Kingdom, I’d recommend skipping the animal exhibits if your family goes to a zoo at home. We wish we had spent more time at the rides and shows. We ate lunch at Pizzafari—it was very reasonable (a fairly small pizza and Caesar salad for around $7).
· Obviously the summer months are not the ideal time to go, but with St. Farm that was our only option. Although I know the other months would definitely be cooler and less crowded, it really was doable. I think you just have to be a little more strategic about getting to the parks early and getting fastpasses, and if you’re prepared it’s not THAT bad. Disney has done a good job of making the lines for most attractions in shade or air conditioning, so we never felt like we were just out in the blazing sun for a long time. As far as the crowds, we never had to wait longer than 20 minutes for a ride, BUT there were mobs of people walking around the parks and sometimes the Disney transportation (buses, boats, monorail) were totally packed!

My last tip is to ask everyone you know that's been to Disney for tips! I did that and loved hearing many different opinions. When I first started planning our trip I was very overwhelmed, but talking to many people and doing research was actually fun! Thanks for humoring me with all my Disney fun!!! Now, to catch up on the rest of the summer...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The last days of DISNEY!!!

So, I didn't realize it but apparently we got our fill of taking pictures after the first few days, because I only have a few pictures from the last couple days of our trip. Our fifth day we went back for our second day at the Magic Kingdom to see Frontierland and Adventureland. Since Anderson wasn't tall enough for the big rides in Frontierland, we split up for the morning and I took Griffin to Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain while Michael and Anderson went back to some of Anderson's favorite rides in Fantasyland. Griffin and I got to ride each of the "Mountains" twice, and he absolutely LOVED them both! We all met up with the Meaghers in Adventureland where the kids got to ride Pirates of the Caribbean--the boys love pirates so this was one of their favorites. They also loved the Jungle Cruise ride--so silly but super fun! We finished our day by riding the train again, and it was another GREAT day at the Magic Kingdom! Here are the boys with Captain Hook... After going back for a nap and a swim, we came back to the Magic Kingdom that evening for dinner and to see the parade. We made a reservation at Tony's with the Meaghers so we'd have a great spot to see the parade--it would've been great, BUT--there was a tornado watch in the area so right when the parade was supposed to start someone announced that the parade was cancelled for the night! That was probably the only big bummer of our trip--we actually didn't see one parade the whole time we were there, but the boys didn't really know what they were missing. We decided it would just be something really exciting for them to see one day when we go back! We still enjoyed our dinner that evening and the fireworks show!

Here are the boys waiting for dinner...


Waiting for the parade to start (before we knew it was cancelled)... We did get some yummy ice cream cones with chocolate Mickey ears...

Riding the WDW bus back to our hotel...
We spent our last day just playing in the pool at our hotel--I didn't take any pictures there, but it really was such a great, relaxing day after such a busy week!


This Mickey boat was in the gift shop of our hotel--the boys loved looking at it all week!
You may have noticed that we didn't go to Epcot all week--we decided just to spend more of our time at the other parks this time since the boys are still so young. But, we did take the WDW boat from our hotel over to Epcot on our last evening to eat dinner and see the Illuminations Show. We were looking for a restaurant that would allow us to see the show, and God worked it out to make our last night the perfect ending to our great trip! We were seated at a table right on the edge of the lake, giving us the most perfect view of the show while we ate dinner! And, about 10 minutes before the show began the restaurant manager came over and told the boys that Mickey had gotten stuck on the monorail, and that he had asked for Griffin and Anderson to start the fireworks show!!! He brought them each these little wands and told them when to press the buttons to make the fireworks start--it was so cute to see how excited they were. It made them feel very special, and we were so thankful God made the last night of our trip such a blessing!!!

Here they are with their Mickey wands starting the show!

The next morning we flew home, back to reality. It would've been a sad day except we knew we were coming home to our sweet baby girl!! Overall, the week was one of my best weeks since becoming a parent. I know that sounds funny, but seeing our kids experience such a magical place just brought me such joy (I knew I was in bad shape when I cried during the Lion King Show at AK). For those of you that don't want to hear me say, "Disney," again for a long time, I promise there's only going to be one more post with some tips I've come up with!! DISNEY (sorry, just trying to get it in while I can :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Disney Day Four!!!

Our fourth day we went to Hollywood Studios, but we decided not to rush as much in the morning. Here are the boys having breakfast before we set out for the day!
One of the highlights of the day was getting our pictures with Lightning McQueen and Mater!


This was the boys' favorite thing at Hollywood Studios--the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Playground! I never would have predicted they would love it so much, but after we went there for a little while in the morning they asked the rest of the day to go back! We went back before we left the park and they played while Michael and I got to relax and watch!
For lunch that day we went with the Meaghers to Hollywood and Vine to eat with some of the Playhouse Disney characters! Here we are with Leo from The Little Einsteins!

Griffin doing a dance with Leo...
Mrs. Stacey, Collin, Charlie, and Griffin with Goliath!
Jojo and Griffin!
That night State Farm had a big buffet dinner for us and then we spent the evening at our pool. It was really fun and relaxing--I think the boys went down the water slides 100 times!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Disney Day Three!!

Our third day was one of our favorites--we spent the morning at Magic Kingdom! We planned two days at the Magic Kingdom, so the first day we went to Fantasyland, Toontown, and Tomorrowland. We loved all the rides in Fantasyland and the Philharmagic 3D show--that was the boys first time to see a 3D movie and Griffin was standing up trying to grab the things jumping off the screen! The Dumbo ride is super popular and the lines are usually long, so we were going to try to talk the boys into skipping it. As we were walking along, one of the cast members stopped to talk to us and ended up giving us a pass to go to the front of any ride that day! So, we went to the front of the line and rode Dumbo! We were so thankful God gave us that blessing!

(sadly this is the only pic i have of the boys in front of the castle, and my camera messed up!)
The boys favorite ride of the day was Goofy's Barnstormer Roller Coaster in Toontown! We rode it twice!!
Visiting Mickey's house...
...and Donald's Boat!
We also loved Tomorrowland's Indy Speedway where the boys got to drive the racecars! Griffin was very focused...
Anderson and I laughed the whole time!

That night we went to a really fun dinner at the Wilderness Lodge. We met some of our dear friends who used to live in Birmingham, the Meaghers, and their three boys. They all had a blast together! They had a table full of Lincoln Logs when you first walk in and hobby horse races a few times during our meal!

Anderson and Collin...

The servers are dressed like cowboys and they are really funny--when you want ketchup you yell loud throughout the restaurant, "DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY KETCHUP?" Then, a bunch of people from the other tables bring you their bottles and you end up with a ton on your table. Then when the other tables needed ketchup they would yell and the boys would bring them ketchup--they LOVED it!
Collin, Griffin, Charlie, and Anderson!
After dinner we took the ferry from the hotel over to the Wilderness Campground for a campfire/singalong/outdoor movie with Chip and Dale (it's all free)! It was a little complicated trying to find it, but all the boys had a great time running around!
Charlie, Anderson, and Griffin with Chip!

They got a few stickers :)

What a great day!!!