15 hours of magic in the kingdom

Monday, December 14, 2015

Our Monday started early.  After all, Extra Magic Hours opened the Magic Kingdom to us at 8am.  Our goal was to make rope drop in the front row for a prime view of Mickey and friends as they arrived on the Walt Disney World Railroad.  
We didn't quite make it,  but were going through security at that time and got to see the action from a distance...does it count?

One quick photo to start the day and then we were off...

We were people on a mission to head toward New Fantasyland, but you're never in a too much of a hurry to have a quick conversation with Goofy at the edge of Town Square.

We had kids 'helping navigate' in two ways.  

One somewhat successful by map...though frequently the map would get turned upside down.

And one who constantly tried the 'follow me even though I have no idea where I'm headed' method.

And then of course the obligatory castle photo.

The crowds were so light that there were several other photos I wanted to get, but the crew would have no further part of that.  They were ready to GO!

I had done enough reading to know that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was the place to hit before the crowds caused the line to grow, so it was Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho for us!  Awesome coaster...easily in my top three ride list at Disney.

And for those that wondered if Mom still had her love of thrill rides...

(my prediction?  she'll be a 'hands up' coaster junkie well into her 90s)
...well, I'm glad Disney takes photos mid-ride!

From there we walked right into Maurice & Belle's cottage and experienced our first bit of princess magic.  Nat was utterly spellbound.

Caleb may have been as well, but he was too busy playing the role of Beast dancing with Belle for us to verify.  He was a bit giggly though which implies that our hunches were correct...

Even the big girls who proclaimed being 'too old to like the princesses' were happy to stop for a photo with Belle.

We also learned that just because you are older doesn't mean you can't enjoy a good carousel ride.

Of course what venture into Fantasyland would be complete without getting the most loved...or hated...Disney song of all stuck in your head?  It's a Small World remains one of my very favorite rides, there's just something about knowing this was Disney in the beginning.

By this point our granola bar breakfasts had worn off, so we decided to take advantage of our free dining plan to get a mid-morning pick me up.  I'm pretty sure a waffle has never tasted so good.  We sat and enjoyed made to order waffles spread with a thick layer of Nutella and then smothered with strawberries and bananas within view of Cinderella's castle.

If only all snack days were so good...

As we headed toward Frontierland we happened upon a chance to meet Tiana.  Chocolate was hurriedly wiped off of faces could smile our best.  My favorite part of the interaction was when one of the crew asked, "So do you like kissing frogs?"

And then we were off to Big Thunder Mountain.  Several members of the family declared this their favorite ride at Disney.  I lost track of how many times we ended up riding.  My only regret about this coaster is that there are no hidden cameras to catch you in action.

Lunch at Columbia Harbor House refueled us all and then a few character meet and greets we next on the agenda.

And this seems like a good time for a little comparison from our last trip to Disney in March of 2012.





taken on DQs 5th birthday...Caleb was asleep in the stroller when I took these three back

I die.

After we got our fill of meeting princesses for the day, we headed on over to Splash Mountain to cool off a bit.  Daniel was SO EXCITED as he had been turned away from this one at launch time on our last visit because he was right at 40 inches back then.

As you can see, some of us enjoyed the thrill more than others.  Mom proves that even Grandmas LOVE Disney World!

Well, she did.  Until she was drenched on Splash Mountain.  I mean, water was dripping from her pants for an hour.  Thankfully she was a much better sport than I was when I got a second shower for the day on Pirates of the Caribbean.  Mom, Ky and I got so wet on that one that Kylie and I have vowed never to ride it again.

Nothing that a Dole Whip, a Jungle Cruise, Flying Carpets and the Enchanted Tiki Room couldn't fix though.

For dinner we decided to get off our feet for a while and so after heading back to New Fantasyland to ride Dumbo and the Barnstormer we took the Railroad back to the entrance and then a boat to the Wilderness Lodge to enjoy Roaring Fork cafe.  Bonus is that they have the largest Christmas tree I've ever seen in the lobby.

One of our kids may have reported their favorite part of the day was riding the boat across the lagoon between the MK and the Lodge, so I'm glad we took the extra time for a meal.  Besides, a bit of sitting down was welcome at that point...

Upon our return to the Magic Kingdom we caught the end of the Electrical Parade, viewed Wishes and of course, what's a day in Disney without hanging with the mouse?

All in all we logged 15 hours of magic.  Not bad for a group ranging from 6 to 70+...
And we were just getting geared up for the rest of the week!


and a half

We have a new 'halfer' in the house.

And I think he was pretty excited about it...

Actually the tipping point was last night.  But unfortunately a raging ear infection had him down for the count.  As in, he put himself down for a nap on the couch after school.

Thankfully a few doses of 'pink medicine' does wonders against an ear infection and tonight our guy was ready to stuff his face with donuts be celebrated.

Each kid got to choose two donuts for now and one for breakfast.  (I'm sorry teachers, but a half birthday is a special occasion you know).

My little squeeze chose to indulge in the chocolate 'kreme' filled, powdered sugar covered concoction tonight and save his vanilla 'kreme' filled chick donut for in the morning.

I think he enjoyed it.

And of course he was serenaded by his faithful companions.  Because nothing says 'Happy Half Birthday' like your siblings singing a rendition of Happy Birthday at the Krispy Kreme while everyone is licking frosting and powdered sugar off their fingers and lips.

It's a little silly, but it's what we do...


At 7 1/2 you are still as much my snuggle bug as ever.  You willingly hold hands with me in public and will still kiss me in front of your friends.  I recognize that this won't last forever and so I treasure each time you slide your hand in mine and each time I get a sticky syrup kiss.  
You still enjoy reading Horrible Harry, Ricky Ricotta and his Mighty Robot, and any of the My Name Is series.  You get along well (90% of the time) with all your siblings, but I especially love it when I get to eavesdrop on you and Natalie playing brothers and sisters.  Playing games is your love language and I repeatedly get schooled by you when we play Memory or Mancala.  You've played soccer, basketball and are now wanting to try your hand at tennis.  
I love to listen to you sing and explain each Sunday what your take home is from your lesson at church.  Your heart is a special one indeed and I'm so glad that I've been entrusted with raising you.  

I love you more than I could ever express!



the magic begins

A prelude to magic...getting a text before even crossing the Florida state line that says, "Your resort room is ready..." and then you just park the car, grab your bags, and use your magic band to open your door.

Oh, and it turns out that the pool is just outside your door.  Literally.  Outside your door.

seriously, I took this photo standing in the doorway of our room
It had been a long day in the car, so even though it was lightly raining, to the pool they went.

But not for too long.

Because bedtime.

After all, a pool at a Disney resort is fun.

But your first day at the Magic Kingdom is even better...

December 13, 2015


the great outdoors at Thanksgiving

My kids are a curious blend of 'little bit suburbs, little bit country kids.'  We live in a delightful neighborhood and enjoy the camaraderie of the community in which the kids go to the school and swim on the neighborhood swim team with many of the same kids.

But they also love going to Grandma's house...and I love helping them explore the land where I grew up.  Thanksgiving this year provided some delightful weather to spend time OUTSIDE!

There's the sittin' tree.

And the creek!

And the 'Big Bottom Meadow'...named because it is the big meadow at the bottom of the hill.

We climbed, splashed and explored.  And then when we got back up to the house and waited for the next meal, there were a few games of freeze tag.  Traci and I may have a few years on the kids, but it didn't stop us from claiming victory against the seven of them.

As always, we fully embraced our time in the country.  Good to know that it will always be there when we need a little break from the 'burbs.


one last visit

While I usually look forward to going home for Thanksgiving, this year I wasn't so ready for our annual trip.

That's because I knew that the day before we had a big job in front of us...clearing out Kathy's house. Ian arranged for some of our friends down there to meet us later in the afternoon to help load furniture onto the truck, giving us the morning hours together in the house.  I arrived before Ian and slowly walked through, crying and taking pictures in each room as standing there made me feel a bit closer to her.  Then Ian arrived after going to the bank and I cried some more, this time with him.  

Eventually the tears dried and we got to work.  The first several hours we worked quietly, chatting about how certain pieces reminded us of his mom, deciding what we wanted to keep and what would bless someone else if donated.  

It was mournful and emotional and yet beautiful at the same time.

Around mid-day Mom and Traci showed up with the kids.  Having them show up was a welcome break from the emotional task at hand.

They miss their grandma dearly.

But they are kids.

And there is great joy in a tire swing and teddy bears and just being together.

And while playing with them in the backyard set us back on the packing schedule, her grandchildren provided a breath of fresh air in the afternoon.

I suspect that Kathy was smiling down as we got the gang back up into her treehouse one last time, there was plenty of evening left after they headed back to Mom's for us to finish up our chore.