Monday, January 12, 2015

Day Two: EPCOT morning


 The kids found Chip and Dale pretty early in the day-- Chip was VERY pleased to meet Justin's plush Chip....he teased Dale with it a bunch because Dale didn't have his own mini-me!  The kids thought it was hilarious.
 We got the whole crew in to see the Disney Chase Rewards character spot.  It's basically a 'secret' meet and greet only for people who have Disney Chase Rewards visa cards.  The characters change frequently, and they are never posted....the only way to know who is currently there is to check it out!  We had virtually no wait, and since it wasn't crowded Minnie and Pluto spent a lot of time with the kids.
 Minnie found her page in the Character Encyclopedia very adeptly.  Alex was impressed with her page-turning skills!
Of course, we hit the Imagination! Ride--(twice) Figment IS my kids' all-time favorite character.  Justin even picked out a small Figment plush to spend his hard-earned Disney Dollars on!
 
 
We met Grams, Gramps and Andy for lunch at the Coral Reef restaurant-- which was a very nice and relaxing place to eat.   Everyone had lovely meals (Alex had a special basket of gf bread brought to her seat!) and we enjoyed resting for a bit before hitting the Finding Nemo ride on the other side of the aquarium.

Alex, Cathleen and I headed over to the Magic Kingdom for the rest of the day (we had FastPasses to meet some very special people).  Dave and Justin stopped for a last photo op as they headed home.  Unfortunately, while they were taking their photo, someone stole their bag from right next to the photographer!  She was horrified, Justin was distraught at the loss of his new Figment, old Chip and some monorail tracks he had spent the last of his money on.  I was just saying prayers of thanksgiving that Dave's phone, wallet, and rental car keys were NOT in the bag!  A good reminder to the rest of us not to feel too 'safe' leaving our valuables (and semi-valuables) in our strollers when we went on rides. 

 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Day One: Magic Kingdom

It was the morning of Marathon Sunday when we decided to try to get to the parks extra early to enjoy Winnie the Pooh & Friends' breakfast at the Crystal Palace.  Normally it would have gone great-- everyone (all 17 of us) were out the door an hour and a half ahead of time.  We knew the traffic would be a little hairy, but no one predicted the craziness that ensued when we hit the Walt Disney World Complex.
Our minivan followed our Waze app, and it took us through the 'back roads' to a super-secret entrance where we got to park for free (the first day only, because of the marathon).  Everyone else's GPS systems took them to the front entrance, where they got stuck in the backed up traffic.  The fun part was rolling down our car windows and encouraging the runners!
 
Justin REALLY enjoyed the monorail ride from the parking lot to the main gates of Magic Kingdom.  He was astounded to be going THROUGH a hotel on the way there!
Finally, we made it (here are some of our party above -- we were only about 20 minutes late for our 8:05am reservation-- not too bad, considering).  The original idea was to eat a huge breakfast (done) and enter the park a little before rope drop to get the inside advantage and ride a few popular rides before the lines got too long.  I am a convert to www.touringplans.com -- I did a side-by-side comparison between it and RideMax (my former recommendation), and I have to admit that being able to add in shows, FP+ reservations and dining reservations was really nice.  We did EVERYTHING we wanted to do, with no longer than a 15 minute wait!
 We met our fuzzy friends-- got autographs and took photos with everyone but Pooh (we'd just missed his rotation, and decided that we didn't want to waste valuable park time waiting for him to come back around).

 Did you notice everyone's matching shirts?  Sierra Trading Post (for the t-shirts) and my Cricut Explore pulled it off!  Everyone had a specific character on their back, because I really don't like having my kid's names displayed when we are out in public.
 Family photo with Tigger.  Justin was concerned he'd bounce all over the pancakes, but he was very well-behaved.
 Then it was off to ride some rides!  We started with Peter Pan, because the lines build up during the day.  Both kids loved it! (We may have 'crammed' by watching the movie a few days ago).
 Winnie the Pooh was soon afterwards.  Even though we didn't have to wait very long in line, they still enjoyed the interactive play area.

 We rode Dumbo separately, and Justin and Daddy even went on a second time!
 I went online exactly 30 days before our visit to procure FastPass+ reservations for a few rides.  Our whole group met to do the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Alex decided at the last minute to hold back and maybe try again tomorrow).  Dave and I were a bit nervous that we'd 'ruin' Justin and he'd refuse to do any more rides after experiencing his first rollercoaster.  Nope!  He had a blast and exclaimed "That was GREAT!!" upon exiting!  Unfortunately, the line was already up to 45 minutes by 10:10am, so we didn't re-ride.


We also met up with the entire group to 'take over' a Jungle Cruise boat.  Those boats seat a LOT of people, because we were only one side!  We had fun, though, and our skipper enjoyed having a responsive audience.


After a few more rides and shows (The Tiki Room being Justin and Alex's favorite), it was time for the kids to head back 'home' with Grams and Gramps.  Actually, I had planned for Alex to stay with us-- She had originally planned on spending her hard-earned money on a spa treatment at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique-- but the Sweet Escape was calling her name instead.  We cancelled our appointment and she picked out a new dress at the Castle Couture store instead.  With the saved money from the salon ($$$) she was able to buy a few more 'essential items' instead-- like the Frozen Mickey ears she's sporting.

Dave and I hung out on our own for a while, having a 'date day'.  We had the best view in town for the Festival of Fantasy parade (it was AWESOME) from the top of the Main Street train station. 
 After the parade we made it to the parking lot again-- to pick up someone else!  Cathleen had flown in that afternoon, and jumped in a taxi from the airport, declaring "I'm going to Disney World!"  She came along to be our personal nanny for the week (sweet deal, huh?), and it was so nice to have an extra pair of adult hands around with four kiddos and adults who wanted to 'play' too!
 I used an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation)= Sniper program (www.wdwtools.com) to secure a reservation at the hard-to-get Be Our Guest restaurant, located INSIDE the Beast's castle.  The sun was setting as we headed over, making for a dramatic photo op!
The details and theming of the restaurant were amazing--  from the enchanted rose in the dark and stormy West Wing to the giant music box in the Rose Room.  We dined in the ballroom, which was an exact replica of the movie-- complete with snow falling in the windows!
 Trying "The Grey Stuff"....verdict?  Delicious.

As we exited the park, we got to see the final night of the castle being 'frozen' with Christmas lights.  It was beautiful!
 What a long, exhausting and totally rewarding day.  I'm ready for tomorrow!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Sweet Escape to the Sweet Escape House!

The morning was pretty uneventful. Daddy is at school this weekend, so it was just Alex, Justin and me getting ready.  We loaded up Kolachi in the car, stopped for a 'fancy' breakfast at Breugger's (read: my fridge was empty!) and dropped the pup off at Miss Marilyn's house for her own version of vacation.  We met Auntie Rorie and Chris at the airport and made it through security just in time to use the bathrooms, buy a few drinks and visit for a little bit before boarding.  

After arriving, we grabbed our rental minivan and plugged in our destination to our phone GPS.  Roughly an hour (and three toll stations-- darn you FL!) later, we pulled up to what would be our home away from home for the next 10 days.  Wow.

If you haven't seen an over-the-top, unbeliveable vacation home recently, please enjoy the following link to the Sweet Escape House.  It was even BETTER than it looks on video!  The kids were a little disappointed to not being getting on "Mickey's Magical Express" bus at the airport, until I reminded them that those 'poor people' had to SHARE a splashpad and swimming pool......  lol!

Jusin checked out the playground and miniature golf course first thing-- it was really hard to pull him away from the train!
Spoiled?  Yes.  Yes we are.  We had a total of 18 people staying here, and it didn't seem crowded at ALL!

 This was INSIDE the kids' room:  Yep.  The floor was a ball pit.
 This was directly OUTSIDE the kids' room.  Yep.  My Waldorf kids got really good at video games.....really fast.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Disney Dollar round-up!

These two are getting really excited about our upcoming trip to Orlando--  the house has never been cleaner, rooms have never been tidier and bunnies have never been more 'taken care of'.  Today was the day that we tallied their stars from this week (and added them to their past three week earnings).  Justin ended up with $11.37 and Alex $25.50 to spend ANY WAY THEY WANT at Disney World.  Couple those earnings with their generous WDW gift cards from Christmastime, and they have a whole lotta Disney Dollars!  We leave tomorrow and they already have plans in the works---

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Three Kings Day

Yesterday we took some 'art' time to paint our crowns for Three Kings Day.
 

Today was a break from normal school (who am I kidding, we had approximately 1 day of 'normal school' after Christmas anyway), while we cleaned up our Christmas decorations, decorated for dinner, made a Kings cake and went to get haircuts (not exactly an Epiphany activity, but why not throw it in there, too?)
 
We set up the decorations-  three candles, crowns, and our Kings Cake (with three hidden gems!)
My Epiphany illustration in a really cool double frame I found at Goodwill!

 The most exciting part of the day was finding out who got the gem.  Justin found one right away!  I was so proud of Alex who was the epitome of a good sport.  She congratulated her brother and didn't get upset at all.
 
And then, in the final two bites of her cake...she found one, too! 

(Hint....we used glass 'gems'....they sink to the bottom, so if the server sneaks a peek they can tell where the prizes are--)  Two kids with good luck for the whole year!  Sounds perfect to me!


Monday, January 5, 2015

The Ballad of the Bunny Barricade

So-- six months into being a member of our happy family, Victor Cornelius has decided he wants the freedom to wander the house on his own.  Unfortunately, his lack of 100% potty training coupled with the fact that we have lots of carpet and wood to chew on means that he must be satisfied with his beautiful bunny run.  He begs to differ.
We've found him a handful of times outside of his fence.  We laughed about it and put him back in, he'd stay there for a few days until yesterday.  Yesterday he let it be known that he was no longer content to stay in his run.  Every time I put him back in, he jumped straight back out.  Enter the bunny barricade, a double-fence that is too high to scale.  The only problem is that it's too high for us to just 'hop in' and visit.  We need a better solution!  The next step is covering the whole bunny area with linoleum and reorganizing things to give him a bit more space.  If only he and his brother would just get along!  Sigh.....
 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Spinning our way into the New Year!

Alex received some hand carders, a spinning book and a drop spindle from Santa this year.  We took advantage of having Auntie Carrie over to get a quick lesson in spinning our bunny wool.
 Things we learned:  we need to be REALLY mindful of the quality of wool we harvest.  It is super hard to pick out tiny pieces of hay from wool.  Super hard.
It is easier than we thought it would be to spin-- but it will take lots of practice.  Also, we need a fiber that we can blend with the angora, as it does not have much give.
I ordered some raw sheep wool online.  I knew it would have to be washed.  I did not know it would be caked in dirt.  Yuck.  I'm not sure that I want to take this part of the project on quite yet.  We'll get some nice clean merino roving to start off with!