Thursday, December 19, 2013

Catch Up

Since I spent over 2 months recapping our Disney trip, I’m pretty behind as far as blogging goes.  Here’s a quick recollection of our fall.

#1  Hiking

Rob and I both got sick of spending the majority of our weekends indoors.  We decided it was time to get out and enjoy some of the beautiful trails around us.  We dragged the kids to the trail by the MN River and forced them to walk the trail.  Fortunately for us, after about 20 steps they thought it was awesome and the complaining stopped.

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Austin led the charge.  He found some fun trees to climb all over and we had a great time.

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I told Rob he absolutely could not go out any further on this.  It was too cold for a swim.

This hike reminded me that I’ve always wanted to try geocaching which brings us to

 

#2  Geocaching

When we got home from the walk the kids and I checked out the app and realized there is a cache right by our house.  The boy scouts put one in the park across the street so we headed over to search for it.  Austin found it right away.  The kids were each delighted to sign the log, leave a bracelet we made, and take a toy frog.  I was excited that we maybe have an activity we can do together next summer.  I also told my dad about it, who has always been my outdoor partner in crime with trips to Taylors Falls and what not.  Of course he was game so we went off on a hunt the next day for a couple caches located near his house.

Dad found the first one hidden in a pine tree.  The next cache took us a long time.  But we finally found it.  A tiny test tube wrapped in camouflage, secured with wire in the folds of a hollowed tree trunk.

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Here I thought, “oh, look at dad getting all techie trying to find the details for our next cache!”  and then he popped his head up:

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“Mom wants us to go to Lund’s for some lettuce.”  He texted her back and said “what are the coordinates?”

#3  Glasses

As an attempt to figure out what causes Ellie’s eye migraines, we took her to get her vision checked.  At first Ellie did NOT want glasses.  Then once she tried a few on for fun she started hoping she would need glasses.  Well, her prescription came back 20/25 so she probably does not need them.  However, it was only $25 for two pairs so I thought it was worth a shot if it would solve her migraine problem.

Her favorites:

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My favorites:

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And, as it turns out glasses aren’t any fun and she hardly ever wears them now.  They didn’t seem to improve the migraines anyway so no big deal.  Given my horrible eyesight and Rob’s bad eyesight, all our kids will need them someday anyway so now we’re ahead of the game with Ellie.

And finally

#4  Repurposing

I think that’s what the new trend is called.  When you take your old furniture and give it a make-over?  Well, after 13 years with our old blue couch we finally retired it for a newer model.  But, our new couch is light brown, our other chair is light brown, as is our carpet, walls, wood work, etc.  We needed some color in our family room so I took the old end tables:

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And turned them into this:

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I tried that new “chalk paint” technique.  But of course, I used the frugal version.  Annie Sloan chalk paint runs almost $40/quart.  So, I did a little research, bought some Calcium Carbonate (chalk) and mixed it with some regular ol’ paint from Home Depot.  Voila!  Chalk Paint.  Worked just fine.  The hardest part was the waxing you have to do afterwards.  Rob and I tackled that part together.  I’m happy with the results and glad to have a little color in the room now.

 

Phew!  That’s it.  That brings us up to Thanksgiving which will be another giant post.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Disney World–Day 8

Phew!  I didn’t think I’d ever get here.  It only took me 2 months, post trip, to get these Disney Blog posts done!

Our last day was pretty short.  By the time we finished packing items up, it was time to head down to grab the Magic Express back to the airport.  We had enough time to snap one last shot:

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I think the whole family will agree that Disney World was an amazing vacation for us!  In summary, our kids were fantastic ages to enjoy the “magic”.  Austin was maybe not as interested in the characters as the girls were, but there were plenty of age appropriate activities for everyone.  We went back and forth on whether or not we should bring our double stroller but in the end we used it a lot and I think it saved the trip.  Our hotel room was awesome.  Rob said he would never attempt the trip without the suite-style hotel room we had.  We did leave 3 unused meals on our dining plan but we would choose to go that route again.  We learned a couple tricks at the end of our trip that we could use next time that would assure we would use up our whole dining plan.

The rest of the trip looked like this:

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We hope to go back some day to experience everything again with older kids.  I’m certain it’d be a whole new trip!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Disney World–Day 7

Monday was Austin’s favorite day.  We spent the whole day at Hollywood Studios.  We briefly visited this place on Friday night when we met the Haefner’s, but we didn’t get to see everything it had to offer.  And, this visit was a bit stressful to start.

Austin (and Ellie, but mostly Austin) really wanted to do the Jedi Training Academy.  During this show, the child gets pulled up on stage with about 10 others and they are given padawan robes and light sabers and are trained on how to fight Darth Vader.  Then, Darth Vader arrives and each kid gets to battle him one on one.  As you can imagine, it’s quite popular.  If your child wants to be in the show, you have to go immediately to the Jedi Academy to sign up as soon as the park opens.  So, when they opened the gates, Austin and I took off, at a jog, to sign up.  We were told 3 times to stop running, and each time another parent/child combo zoomed passed us so I started ignoring the warnings just like everyone else.  Isn’t that a good lesson I teach my kid!?  Austin did not feel right about it….he likes to follow rules.  When we got there, there was already about 40 people in front of us.  I felt pretty good about our chances because there are several shows.  Rob and the girls showed up about 10 minutes later and the line was out the door.  We did manage to get both Austin and Ellie signed up for the 1:00 show.

Moving on.

My all time favorite ride of the trip was Toy Story Mania.  I could have ridden it 20 times, but we only had one fast pass and all the others were sold out by 10am and the wait was well over 2 hours long so once was enough.  Ride outside the ride we ran into this guy:

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I also got to finally ride the Rockin’ Roller Coaster.  Rob went on this ride back in 2004 when I was pregnant with Austin and could not go on it.  He said it was awesome so I was glad to have my chance.  Zero to 60 in 2.8 seconds is definitely awesome.  However, even with a fast pass, the wait was not.  Sorry kids.

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I think she kind of looks like she’s on set waiting for her dance number for some teeny bopper Disney show.

By 12:45, when it was time to report for Jedi training, it was 110 degrees.  I’m not joking.  I looked at my phone app.  Rob took Austin and Ellie to the air conditioned room to get ready and Riley and I headed to the stage to get good seats because the show right before ours was completely filled and I wanted to make sure we were able to get some good pictures.  That was a mistake.  Riley and I immediately began to melt.  There was no shade to be had and I was drenched in sweat.  I don’t typically sweat so when Rob saw me he was shocked.  But, I digress, our kids were eager to get started!

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Ellie was almost the youngest, but that cutie on the left was a year younger (and she did a wonderful job!).

The Jedi trainer took everyone through the moves they needed to learn.  Austin soaked in every word. He’d already been in training (in his mind) for a few years.

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Ellie was enjoying herself too and really studying the moves.

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However, once Darth Vader stepped out, the game was over and he was far too real looking for her.  She cowered to the back of the group and was rescued by a cast member who brought our tear-filled daughter back to us.

Austin avenged her.

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Everyone received their diplomas and I immediately passed out from heat exhaustion.  Okay, not really, but I was definitely feeling faint.  Imagine how Darth Vader felt….that costume cannot be cool.

We took it easy the rest of the day since it was so warm.  We visited a couple other characters:

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We rode a couple more rides and all enjoyed some ice cream treats before we called it a day and headed back to our pool.  That pool felt amazing!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Disney World–Day 6

On Sunday, after a relaxing day at the pool with the Haefner’s, we headed back to Magic Kingdom.  There was no way to tackle that whole place in a day so we devoted another day to the place.

We re-rode a few favorites.  Aladdin’s magic carpet ride was one of the favorites for our kids:

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We went on that ride 3, maybe 4 times.  We also hit up Pirates of the Caribbean.  That wasn’t a fan favorite (unless you’re talking to me).  And I’m pretty sure that Rob and Austin managed another go round on Buzz’s Space Spin (or whatever that one is called).

While Austin and Rob went to check out the Haunted Mansion, the girls and I waited in line to meet Chip and Dale.

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But one of my personal highlights of the whole trip came later in the afternoon.  We had fast passes for Enchanted Tales with Belle.  I didn’t really know what it was but since Belle is one of Ellie’s top two princesses I made sure we got passes for it.  I was not disappointed.

We walked into a little room with a small group of 20 or so people and the cast member handed out parts of a play that the audience was going to act out for Belle because it was her anniversary with the Beast.  Rob was picked as a knight, Riley was picked as the horse (how appropriate!), and Austin was the little footstool dog.  Then Ellie was picked to be the Beast.  Kind of weird that one of the smallest girls there is the Beast, but she of course was delighted to have a part.  The kids had a blast acting out their parts for Belle.  Then, for the grand finale, “the Beast” got to dance with Belle.

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The look on Ellie’s face for the entire song was priceless.

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Belle talked to her the whole time they were dancing and Ellie just kept staring at her with that goofy grin.  I asked Ellie what Belle said to her and Ellie, still smiling, said “I have no idea.”

Each of the kids got their own moment with Belle.

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There was no flash photography, so I did my best in that poorly lit room.  It made my day to see my kids so awestruck.

Before we left Magic Kingdom we waited in line to visit with the big man, Mickey Mouse.

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Then we headed back to the hotel in time for a light saber fight by the pool.

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It was definitely a magical day.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Disney World–Days 4 & 5

We decided to sleep in on Friday and head to Animal Kingdom later in the morning.  I had read a lot of reviews on Animal Kingdom, and have been there myself many moons ago, and none of the reviews regarded it at as place that needed a full day.  Plus, we had a surprise in plan for later that afternoon.

We walked around Animal Kingdom a bit, took in a Finding Nemo musical which was great, and headed on the Safari which was nice.  We got to see some animals pretty up close.  I had Kerry’s fancy schmancy camera, but didn’t even use a zoom for these pictures:

 

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That giraffe is almost hard to see with the tree in the background, but I was half expecting him to just come a couple feet closer and lick me.

By 3 o’clock our kids were done.  They were hot, tired, and eager to get back to the hotel to rest.  Unfortunately, we had a date to keep that they didn’t know about.  Rob convinced them he wanted to ride the Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Hollywood Studios and then we could go back to the hotel.  So, they begrudgingly got on another bus to another theme park.  Then they trudged into the park and we sat down underneath the giant Mickey Hat.  After about 10 minutes Austin said “Dad, go ride your ride already!  Why are we just sitting here?”  and I said “Just relax, sometimes it’s just fun to people watch.  For example, I see someone we know.”  This perked them up a bit and they all started darting their heads back and forth looking for someone.  Across the way I saw a little girl doing the same and then she stopped dead in her tracks:

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That’s Mia.

Her and her parents drove down from Georgia to meet up with us for the weekend!  We didn’t tell any of our kids it was going to happen (in case it didn’t and because surprises are fun!).  They were definitely surprised!

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These kids went from grumbling little beasts to crazy happy in mere seconds!  It was awesome and one of the main highlights of our trip!

We spent the rest of the night hanging out at Hollywood Studios, where we rode Star Tours:

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The kids loved this ride.  Especially Austin and Riley.  Rob loved the idea of the ride, but he came out sweaty and clammy.  He tried once more but was no better off.  Apparently motion rides are NOT for him!

We ended the night at Epcot around 10pm.  For 4 kids who were exhausted by 3pm, that was a late night.

Saturday, Day 5, the Haefner’s joined us at our hotel pool.  We spent the day relaxing and the kids spent the day playing.  It was fantastic.  We headed to Downtown Disney for dinner at the T-Rex restaurant.

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The service was crazy slow, but Austin and Mia spent 3 hours just playing together with some little lizards they won at a pool party earlier in the day.  Those two can just pick up wherever they left off no matter how much time has passed.  True friends!

We ended up walking around Downtown Disney and the kids found a stage to just dance the night away.

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It was an awesome addition to our trip.  We were sad to say goodbye Saturday night.  Chrissy has since told me that every time Mia catches her texting me she is certain we are planning another surprise get together.  Wouldn’t that be nice!