Happy Thanksgiving to all of my friends, family, and followers! I hope your day is full of food, fun, and football! I’ve got a few posts in the works, including more Disney and something about my latest adventure. And my Facebook page (Loving Lemonade) is full of words of wisdom and inspiration, if you’re looking for a little reading in the meantime! Have a safe and wonderful holiday!
When one thinks of Disney World, what park does he or she think of first? Magic Kingdom, of course! The iconic Cinderella’s Castle is always the first thing I want to see. Then I know I’m in Disney and not just dreaming!
We spent more time at Magic Kingdom than any other park, 2 full days, plus an additional evening for dinner. And we STILL didn’t do everything there is to do. But we were on our own speed, and as much as I personally enjoy the Carousel of Progress (There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow…), I know Carlene would much rather ride the teacups.
With the exception of Peter Pan’s Flight, Magic Kingdom was fully operational. Last time we were at Disney, Fantasyland was completely under construction, so Belle’s castle area and Ariel’s grotto were brand new to us this time! As of our trip, Snow White’s area was still under construction (it looks to be some sort of roller coaster set in a cave!), so we look forward to seeing that completed next time. The Storybrook Circus area was also open now.
Enchanted Tales with Belle, one of the new attractions: THIS was probably my most magical Disney moment on this trip. Belle has always been my favorite, and the tradition has continued with Carlene. I didn’t know what to expect from this, but I noticed the wait times were very long each day, so we used one of our Fastpass+ allowances towards it. But after seeing it, I totally understand why you’d wait in line an hour for it. Children and parents are involved in Belle’s tale, and after storytime is over, Belle takes photos with the children one by one! The setting is small and intimate, and there is a Disney PhotoPass photographer present to capture the perfect shot. Whatever you do, DON’T leave Magic Kingdom without seeing this one!
Speaking of Fastpass+… have you heard of it? You can pick 3 attractions for each day and book your Fastpass time before even hitting the parks. Carlene and I chose ours about a month before vacation. This works with the MagicBands currently being tested as well as Keys to the World. I read they are making changes to the Fastpass+ system, so I can’t promise your experience will be like mine, but I loved it. It really helped us make the most of our time.
Other big ride pluses: Carlene got front row of Splash Mountain TWICE! Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was even more fun than I remembered. Blake really loved Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Ariel’s Grotto put a big smile on all of our faces. And you can’t go to Disney and not ride It’s a Small World. It’s an unwritten rule.
Besides the rides, don’t forget to check out the Dream Along with Mickey show in front of Cinderella’s Castle, and the Captain Jack Sparrow Pirate Tutorial across from Pirates of the Caribbean, both performed multiple times throughout the day. And stay late for the Main Street Electrical Parade, Celebrate the Magic show (which is when images are amazingly projected onto the Castle), and the Wishes fireworks show (watch for Tinkerbell!). Oh, and if you get there early enough to see the park opening, you’ll catch a brief but fun show featuring Mickey Mouse himself!
Food is aplenty at Magic Kingdom. Our first night, we dined at Cinderella’s Castle. It’s a nice experience, and if you’ve never done it and you are the parent of a young princess (or if you are a princess at heart!), you should do it at least once. The food was good, the service was good, but really, we only did it for the Princess experience. We’ll probably skip it next time.
We had dinner at the new Be Our Guest restaurant one night. Now THIS. THIS was awesome. I was in awe. Like I said before, Beauty and the Beast has my heart, so maybe that’s why I was stunned. But it was just like going into the movie. The food was delicious, and yes, we tried the grey stuff!! We also got to take our picture with the Beast. The West Wing is very cool, watch the portrait! My one question I should have asked… Anyone know the story about the baby faces on the cherubs on the ceiling of the ballroom? I highly suggest putting this on your reservation list.
We also had dinner at Tony’s Town Square, the Italian Restaurant centered around Lady and the Tramp. I made this reservation because we had never eaten here before, and when we got to Disney, I found myself disappointed that I hadn’t booked Liberty Tree Tavern instead (I looove that place). But how pleasantly surprised I was at Tony’s! It was so yummy! It’s right near the entrance to Magic Kingdom, so do yourself a favor and don’t pass it by!
And I can’t forget our Pooh and Friends breakfast at the Crystal Palace! One of the best breakfast buffets you’ll have anywhere on Disney property, AND you meet Pooh, Piglet, Tigger and Eeyore!
So what didn’t I like? I was a little disappointed at how short the Barnstormer ride was. I know it’s meant for smaller children to be able to ride a coaster, but Carlene even said, “That’s IT!?” once it stopped. Not worth waiting in line for a long time.
Rapunzel’s tower is anchored by bathrooms. Really?! It’s constructed beautifully. I mean, I know Disney needs plenty of restrooms, but I was hoping it would be Rapunzel’s meeting area.
The area in front of the Castle is ridiculously congested during parade times, to the point where you can’t go forward or backward. I know it’s not necessarily Disney’s fault, but it sucks when you can’t go anywhere, nor can you get a good view of the parade because you are smooshed far back. You are better off trying to get on the parade route near Liberty Square.
Waiting for a quick service meal at Cosmic Ray’s one night took far longer than it should have. We were simply getting a PB&J for Blake because he had slept through dinner, and we waited 20 minutes. For an Uncrustable, a bag of grapes, and a milk. All prepackaged. Blake was pretty pissed. I normally wouldn’t complain, but it really wasn’t busy, and people behind us in line were getting their burgers before we got our order. Just a mini, truthful vent!
Well, that’s Magic Kingdom in a nutshell! Agree? Disagree? Comments? Questions? I’ll see you at Epcot (via words) in the near future!
Where have I been? Disney World! Remember that time I told you that Carlene convinced us to go? Well we did. We had a blast! We stayed in the new Art of Animation Resort, hopped around from park to park, shopped at Downtown Disney. And Carlene was tall enough to ride just about every ride!
So this was my 8th (I think!) trip to Disney. My 2nd as a mom. My 1st as a mom with a dreaded double stroller. I’m a planner by nature, so I planned the entire trip myself, had our dining reservations made 6 months ahead of time, made FastPass+ choices a month in advance. My husband swore I stayed up at night in the hotel and memorized the maps of the parks, but I promise, I sleep. Disney vacations require PLENTY of sleep. I just love the place so much that I remember exactly where I need to go! I really should be a Disney travel agent, or just work in Disney World. Hmmm…
Anyway, I want to share my pluses and minuses so that you can have the best Disney vacation ever too! And once I started writing them, I realized I was writing a 10 page essay, so I’m going to break this up into multiple segments so I can really share everything I want to share.
First up, Disney’s Art of Animation Resort. This resort was FANTASTIC for families. Most of the resort is family suites (in themes of Cars, Finding Nemo, and The Lion King), but we stayed in a Standard Room with a Little Mermaid theme. Carlene couldn’t have been more excited about the room, or the resort. Statues of all your favorite characters from the themes decorate your walkways, with the main pool surrounded by Finding Nemo friends.
I checked in online while we drove down, so checking in once we got there was a breeze. We were greeted as soon as we walked in the door, and all set to go within 5 minutes, with no line to wait in. Definitely check in online! And since the check in process is so quick, you can take the time to check out the awesome sketches on the walls in the area. You have got to see how scary Ursula was originally drawn to be!
Our room had been meticulously prepared, even with a towel Mickey on the bed. To our surprise, there was also a mini-fridge, which was so great for us with having a 1 year old who drinks milk. The downside to the mini-fridge is that you are limited to just 3 drawers in the room, total. But there is ample space to hang clothes in the sink area. Or if you are lazy like me, you just throw random crap in the drawers that you gather as the week goes on, and you keep your clothes in the suitcases. Hey, I’m on vacation here.
Our room continued to be meticulously cared for as the week went on, so thank you to the housekeeping staff for that! We did get to meet our housekeeper one morning as we were returning from the pool. I didn’t catch her name, but she was very sweet, and I’m glad I could personally say thank you for helping to make our stay great.
Speaking of the pool, there are 3. Two smaller ones, and one Big Blue Pool. If you stay here, go to the Big Blue Pool, and make sure you duck your head under water and keep your ears open! There’s also a cool sprinkler area that the kids were able to run around in. And there are a few playground areas throughout the resort, perfect for letting them stretch their little legs.
There were some things you’d wish for better, of course. The food court is your standard Value Resort fare, and the food was just eh compared to some food you can get in Disney. We ate dinner there on our first night, and breakfast there one morning, and otherwise steered clear, besides hitting it up for our refillable mugs that came with our dining plan. And as a quick FYI- the resort refillable mugs now have a sensor which activates the soda fountain for the length of your stay. So if you are used to bringing your mug from last time to use again, it’s not going to work.
The shower in the Little Mermaid room was made to look like Ariel’s treasure trove. Very very cool, until you attempt to shave your legs in a navy blue dimly lit shower, or if you are the kind of person who likes to wake up with a shower. It’s dark in there. But that’s minor in the big scheme of things. Also, the walk from the Little Mermaid area to the main building is a small hike, but this was no surprise to me, as we did opt for just a Standard Room. Just be aware!
I’d personally love to stay at Port Orleans, or the Polynesian, or the Contemporary. But when we visited the Polynesian for breakfast one morning, Carlene said, “I’m glad we didn’t stay here, this place is boring.” And you know, she’s exactly right. As an adult, these resorts are so beautiful. But as a kid in Disney, of course you want to be surrounded by your animated friends! So yes, we’ll stay at these others someday, but I definitely foresee us back at Art of Animation for our next Disney vacation!
So what would you like to hear about next?? Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom? Or do you have any specific Disney questions?
…none of which have anything to do with farming! This past weekend, we indulged ourselves in the October tradition of pumpkin picking at a local farm, complete with a hayride, animal farm, ice cream, even a bouncy house. We had a blast! It was a really great family day.
But no family trip goes without lessons learned. Here’s what our day at the farm taught me:
Lesson 1: Kids turn into line-cutters, because parents teach them how to be line-cutters. It must be a vicious circle! Carlene was sweetly waiting in the bouncy house line when some lady comes up with her three kids, and tells them to get in front of Carlene. Don was standing over there with her, and said, excuse me but she is next. The lady asks, “Oh, are you sure?” At this point, it’s much better that he was over there instead of me, because there IS a such thing as a stupid question in my opinion, and this was one. So anyway, a parent standing nearby confirmed that YES, Carlene was standing there. To which this line-cutting mentor responds, she didn’t see her there. Whatever lady, better hope your pants don’t catch on fire later!
Lesson 2: When you can’t control your 2 year old, just hand them a can of Mountain Dew. Another fantastic example of prime parenting! This toddler was crying. Why, I don’t know. But I see the mother return with a can of Mountain Dew, pop it open, and hand it to the kid. WHAT?!?! Okay, I’m sure some of you give your kids soda. I’m sure I drank a ton of it myself as a kid (and I still drink too much now). But Mountain Dew?! That kid’s not going to sleep for 2 days! Which makes me say to myself… well, maybe the parents will rethink Mountain Dew as a drink of choice by midnight tonight.
Lesson 3: If there is anything you can think of that you would enjoy in pumpkin flavor, they probably make it. Case in point on this trip: Pumpkin Soft Serve Ice Cream. Now, I’m not big on pumpkin anything (no, not even Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Lattes!), but Don loves it, so he ordered one topped with chocolate sprinkles. He said it was delicious. I’ll take his word for it. What next, pumpkin filled M&Ms or pumpkin meat marinade? Or do they already make those things too? Don’t you people get tired of all this pumpkin stuff?!
Lesson 4: Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, beats a day out with my family. NOTHING! Okay, so maybe this isn’t a new lesson learned, but it sure was a nice reminder!
I was way behind in getting an iPhone, which put me way behind some of the smartphone fads like Words With Friends. In fact, WWF was the very first app I downloaded when I got my iPhone. Thankfully, I know a few people who still played (and still play!) regularly, so I got to indulge in the fad after all.
I know that WWF gets some heat because you can try words over and over until you find something that works. Some may say it’s unfair- I say it’s one of the most fun elements of the game! You end up learning words you never knew before, like “agouti,” “trachle,” and “khat.”
But in the meantime, you also develop some words on your own which get rejected by the game. So I’ve started a compilation of made-up words that even WWF won’t accept. I’ve even defined them. Here’s my top 10:
1. Beering- The act of giving someone a beer.
2. Jacquet- A jacket from France, something so fashionable that I would never be able to pull it off.
3. Uptax- A significant tax increase.
4. Murfed- To have been a victim of Murphy’s Law.
5. Ebetion- Feeling incredibly idiotic.
6. Viara- A tiara and veil combo in one. (The next big thing to hit the bridal market?)
7. Guidium- A yet to be discovered element, most likely to be found at the Jersey Shore.
8. Thorf- An omitted character from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, this being has the strength of a Troll, the curiosity of a Hobbit, the lifespan of an Orc, and the height of a Dwarf.
9. Luigi- The 2nd most important person to Nintendo.
10. Hov- Jay-Z.
I know I’m not the only one who does this. What words have you created? Definitions are a must!
In July, I turned the big 3-1. Not a significant birthday. But I wanted to make some new goals and aspirations for me, myself, and I, and what better time than the start of my own personal new year? And if you put them in writing (or in the notes section of your iPhone), then you’ve gotta stick to them, right?
Alas, I bring you my already in progress 31-for-31.
1. Eat my fruits and veggies! I wish I could live on cupcakes, cookies, bacon, and soda, but I can’t.
2. Get outside every day. Fresh air works wonders. Who cares if it’s hot or cold? I’m not going to melt, and I’m not going to freeze.
3. Floss daily. I do it sometimes, but not every day. Come on. You don’t either.
4. Exercise. The standard that must be included in any resolution list. But I have been! I’m even running a 5K in a few weeks!
5. Don’t quit my job! So, working from home and taking care of kids is far more challenging than I would have ever expected. Six months in and I’m still trying to get into a good swing. I have some days of heavy frustration where I’m sure I can’t do this not one more minute. But I do, and I will continue, and it will get better.
6. Take a stab at writing a murder mystery. Pun totally intended.
7. The Empty Sink rule. You will never see a dish in my mother-in-law’s sink. It’s quite remarkable. If something is dirty, it gets put in the dishwasher or washed right away. It’s her peeve, but I think it’s an awesome way to stay on top of a pesky chore, and I want to do it too!
8. Read to my kids more. Sure, we do bedtime stories. But why not wake up stories? Or after lunch stories?
9. 31 pounds. That’s how much I want to lose during my 31st year. In 2 months, I’ve lost 6 pounds. Not a huge number, but I’m going for the marathon, not the sprint, and that has me right on track.
10. Try Zumba! This one I’m happy to say I’ve successfully done! What a great, fun workout!
11. See friends. With us all being parents and working, it’s not as easy as we wish it was. But I hope my friends know their importance in my life, and how I wish we could see each other more!
12. Call family. In the world of text and email, hearing someone you love’s voice can be such a pleasure.
13. Become more financially healthy. Stick to our budget. Think before we buy. Keep heading towards a debt free life!
14. Stop biting my nails. I’m about to put hot sauce on my own fingers.
15. Happy Birthdays. Wish them to anyone and everyone. Each new year is a blessing!
16. Donate. Whether it be time, material items, or money. Giving back is one of the most gratifying feelings.
17. Have an adult beverage, or two. I bartend twice a week, but rarely ever enjoy a drink myself. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to have a glass of wine on the couch after a long day!
18. Drink more water. Before I was pregnant with Blake and during my pregnancy, I drank about a gallon a day. Now I’m drinking a lot less water and a lot more crap. Time to go back to water.
19. Cook. I’m never going to be a gourmet chef, but I do enjoy trying new recipes and preparing meals for my family. I just don’t do it very often. But I should!
20. Say hello to the neighbors. Another success! In the past 2 months, I’ve met neighbors who just moved in, and neighbors we’ve lived across the street from for 6 and a half years (who we had never actually met prior).
21. Start composting. What do I know about composting? Nothing. But I do know that I like my planet, and I want to do my part.
22. Take more pictures. I take a lot with my phone, but really should break out the camera more for some good quailty memories.
23. Organize the photos I take. I’ve always been terrible with this. I have plans to make family yearbooks dating back to our first year of marriage, as well as yearly kid books.
24. Read a book. Finding time to read isn’t easy, but I really should put the Candy Crush down and read a little more often.
25. Have a yard sale. We’ve been saying every single year that we need to have a yard sale. It’s going to happen.
26. More date nights. Don and I need a little more “us” time that doesn’t involve talking about work or falling asleep on the couch while watching sports.
27. Join Instagram. Did it. I like seeing pictures, but the amount of hashtags some people use is a bit much for my liking. #guiltyascharged
28. Do yardwork. I find yardwork to be incredibly calming. I’d like to work on some landscaping, or mow the lawn now and then to give Don a break.
29. Reuseable grocery bags. I have them. I just need to remember to bring them.
30. Make time for me. Maybe it means doing a Pinterest project. Maybe it means taking a nap.
31. Blog. And here I am 🙂
So the initial purpose of me starting a blog was just to get writing again. Maybe to some people I could offer a fresh perspective. Maybe to others I can provide a good laugh. Overall, maybe I can just be a break to the usual blogs we read about perfect parenting, deliciously well balanced meals, and meticulously organized and beautifully decorated homes. (No offense to any of those writers. It could be a bit of envy, wishing I could be as put together as you!)
I’m not any of these things. My home is a cluttered mess of unsorted mail, unfolded laundry, and toys all over the floor. But it’s my home. Our dinners sometimes consist of hot dogs and Velveeta shells. But our bellies are full. And as for parenting, well, my kids are usually smiling and always giving me hugs and kisses. So I don’t think I’m screwing that up too bad. I’m so far from perfect, and this is right where I’m supposed to be.
So I want to give this blog thing another go. But I have no idea how I am supposed to relaunch. Am I supposed to tell you all what I’ve been up to for the past 6 months? Am I supposed to just jump in as if I never left? I have no idea. I’m just going with the flow. Stay tuned!