Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Disney 2016

We went to Disneyworld!!

It was hot.
It was crowded.
It was awesome.

Here are some pictures from our trip, and some things I highly recommend.  FYI I am now fluent in 'Disney' and would be thrilled to help anybody plan their trip. My google search history may or may not contain searches for 'how to become Disney travel agent' and 'how to live in Cinderella's castle.'

First step:  fly. I don't care how much it costs; it's worth every penny when you've got small children. We flew from Pittsburgh to Atlanta, then to Orlando and we were there by noon after about 3 hours on planes and a one hour layover.

We spent 6 nights in Pop Century resort. It was simple and clean. Somewhere to shower off the sweat and sleep at night. The resort restaurant was quick, easy, and tasty. Transportation was available from our resort to all Disney parks.

Day one, waiting for the bus to Magic Kingdom. We needed food fuel. We ate our first meal at Tony's (spaghetti and pizza) which was fun.

Make sure to buy matching shirts / themed shirts for each day. It's Disney!!  Go cheesy or go home. And also be sure to buy the memory maker photo package. This way you can grab all photographers and have them take your picture, then they scan your magic band and your photos go into your account. This includes character meet and greets and ride photos too!

Wear comfortable shoes. I can't emphasize this enough. We walked 18-19,000 steps per day in the heat. These Sanuk slings are amazing and I also wore my sneakers for a couple of days. The heat and humidity in Florida is miserable. Dress for comfort or you'll ruin your trip. You can dress cute when you go home. 

Go find Mickey!  And all of the other characters. But especially Mickey. It all 
began with this mouse. 

Ride the rides. All of them. And learn where the cameras are located so you can stage epic faces. This was on Splash Mountain. 

Even my mom rode everything. The teacups and Expidition Everest (in Animal Kingdom) almost killed her, but she did it.  This is on Seven Dwarves Mine. 

If you have a daughter, Bippity Boppity Boutique is a must. Morgan (age 7) was able to choose which princess she wanted to be, and they gave her the Belle dress, crown, wand, shoes (these cost extra), manicure, makeup, hairdo (Morgan went with the 'princess mullet' since her hair is short), and then they do a photo session!!  The only complaint I have is that they don't offer this to adults. 

Breakfast at Cinderella's Royal Table in the castle is a must. The food was good, the atmosphere amazing, and we got to meet Snow White, Auora, Cinderella, Ariel, and Jasmine. The difference between my daughter and son when they saw a princess...Jack doesn't like princesses. Neither does his daddy; that's why he married me. 

Magic Kingdom at night is a MUST. It's beautiful. The fireworks are fun but the light show on the castle is amazing. And the Main Street Electric Parade!!!  I've decided the music is the soundtrack of my life. You will have to google it to see it unless you plan a trip to Disneyland where it will be returning next month (October) after 20 years in Magic Kingdom. 

Buy ponchos.  It IS Florida and it will rain.  We bought a box of ponchos from Amazon to avoid spending $$$ on Disney ones and thank goodness only needed them one day.  You can see the joy on the face of my children.

Eat a Mickey ice cream thing.  They taste better than a Klondike bar.

Try on ALL of the ears everywhere you go.

Go to the Grand Floridian and dream about staying there.  Be sure to check out the little bath shop on level 2 near the exit to the monorail.  Let your children smell all of the soaps.  FYI they will ship it all to your home for $5.99.  We now own over $80 in soaps, scrubs, bath bombs, and bath salts.

Eat at Chef Mickey's. It's a buffet and the food is okay, but you get to meet ALL of the famous Disney characters...even if you don't want to.

Get into character for Hollywood Studios if you're a Star Wards nerd.  This is a modified version of Rey's 3 buns.  I'm not great at styling hair...

Meet Chewbacca.  He will even roar for you.

Ride Star Tours and then shop the gift store.

In Animal Kingdom be sure to hit the safari in the morning when the animals are having breakfast.  My kids especially loved seeing hippos.  Expedition Everest is never as busy as the other Disney coasters.  We rode it 3 times in a row!!

The Rainforest Café is so much fun and makes a nice break in air conditioning.  There is one in Animal Kingdom and another one in Disney Springs.

Sleep in when necessary!

T-Rex Café is so much fun!!

A dessert served with smoke and lots of spoons.

A shoutout to Starbucks locations.

Nemo themed shirts for Epcot.  Turtle Talk with Crush was fun.

Starbucks to the rescue.

Would you believe we only waited like 5 minutes to meet Anna and Elsa?!!  And had fast passes for the new Frozen ride.  Big thumbs up to the renovations in Norway.

Mission Space:  the only ride I've ever been on that supplies you with barf bags.

This little boy HATES having his photo taken, but in Hollywood Studios he surprised us all by wanting his photo taken ALONE!  So the photographer made it special.

Mimi and Jack on the tea cups.  Then she rode Space Mountain.  Then Mimi was done.

When your kids are done with the day, it's okay.  Keep going.  They can rest at home.

Honestly, I have to brag on my littles.  They did awesome.   We walked so much, and it was very hot and crowded.  They stayed right with us and barely complained.  We didn't rent a stroller.  I did have to carry Jack at the end of each day because those 'wittle feet' just couldn't walk another step, but overall they both did great.  The very last evening we went to Magic Kingdom and stayed late to watch the Electric Parade one last time at 10:00.  Both of my kids put their sweaty heads on my lap and rested, then I had to carry Jack all the way to the bus, then both kids sat in the floor of the crowded bus and fell asleep against my leg and my feet fell asleep, then I had to carry Jack to the room, then after all of the showers I didn't make it to sleep until 1:00 and we had to be up at 6:00 for checkout to make it to our flight.  BUT IT WAS WORTH IT!!! 

Disney is fantastic.  My kids and I would go back right now if we could.  This morning when Jack was whining about being sleepy for school I asked him "what about Disney, would you go to Disney right now?"  and he said "I'm never too tired for Disney."

DC 2016

Summer 2016 is coming to an end. It was a good one. We made a lot of great memories. The theme of the summer: how much heat can you take?

Michael and I kicked off the summer with a trip to Key West. It was amazing. The heat was overwhelming but almost welcome after a cool spring.

In July we took th kids to DC to visit my family who live nearby and to do the DC thing. DC in July is miserable. We knew this, but had no other option.

Here are some photos to summarize our trip:

We HAD to go to the American Girl store because it makes me feel like a 10 year old again but a 10 year old with a credit card. Morgan (age 7) picked out a doll from the new AG Well Wishers line and Jack (age 4) picked out two Bitty Babies that I carried around until he wasn't looking and stuck them back on the shelf. Not that I don't let my son play with dolls, but we already have a Bitty Baby at home that he ignores.

We rode the metro into the city and the kids were thrilled to walk around in the heat as you can see from this photo. They recovered in each museum, I promise. We visited American History, Natural History, and Air & Space. We were extremely disappointed that the dinosaur exhibit was closed for renovations in the Natural History museum.

We took a tour of Mount Vernon. I hadn't been there since middle school. Somehow it was even hotter there than it was in the city. We waited in line forever because they had to shut part of the house down to deal with a 'protein spill' - somebody barfed in George Washington's house!!!  Once we went inside, then back oitside, then back inside, then back outside during the tour, I started to feel a bit like a protein spill might be in my future as well...but I survived. My kids enjoyed the tour and really enjoyed the air conditioned museum and the fact that Pizza Hut was in the cafeteria. 

That evening we went back into the city because Morgan really wanted to go to the top of the Washington Monument. It was closed for renovations so my kids temporarily died a little from disappointment. 

We walked down to the Lincoln Memorial where it started to rain. One of my kids favorite memories was getting to use umbrellas in the city. 

So Pizza Hut at Mt Vernon, getting to use umbrellas, and learning to use the phrase 'protein spill' are some of the memories my kids have from our wonderful DC trip. 

Monday, August 29, 2016

Organize those drawers!

I'm crazy obsessed about organization. I am getting better as I get older (and more tired). Like I totally don't stack the blocks in the storage bin anymore; I just throw them in. Wild, I know. For me, organization helps me feel like I can somewhat control this chaos called life. It makes my life easier. My mom likes to tell people about my drawers. I've taken photos for you all so you can see the brilliance (and madness) of my methods. Feel free to try this at home!

Morgan will only wear leggings, and I'm addicted to shopping for leggings, so she has a lot of them. In order to see all of her gorgeous legging collection (she's got a nice little section of Lularoe leggings too!) I have her leggings drawer arranged like this:

The old me would have this arranged by color, but like I said, I'm getting better. It really does make life easier when you can open a drawer and see all the pants!

Other drawers:

All of the socks side by side so you can see them all. They used to be organized by color but my kids don't respect my organization skills so whatever.

Folded underwear side by side so she can easily find her favorite pair with donuts on them without having to dig and mess the entire drawer up.

Shorts lined up in drawers for both kids. You open the drawer and see every pair!  

Do my kids mess up my organized drawers? All the time. Do I redo do them?  Yes; it's worth it!  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Beginning of the school year vs the end

The beginning of the school year vs end of the school year:

The beginning of the year we go on a 'school lunch shopping trip,' pick out a brand new lunch box from the Disney Store, and I pack as many food groups into my picky eaters lunch, cut the crust off her bread, tuck in a little note reminding her that I love her. The end of the year I toss in one of those crustable sandwich things and hope it's thawed by lunch, plus whatever else I can dig out of the cabinets (why hello there squished granola bar), fight with the zipper on that stupid lunch box, realize I forgot a napkin, don't want to fight with the zipper again so I figure she can just wipe on her shirt, and pat myself on the back for 100+ days of packed lunches.

Over the summer I start shopping for that perfect 'first day outfit' for both of my kids. I coordinate hair bows, shoes, and it's a bonus if the kids match one another. I write out all of their current hobbies and favorites on a chalkboard in different colors of chalk markers. I take lots of pictures. On the last day of school the kids end up in a random t-shirt and gym shorts, bonus if the top matches the bottom, I grab a highlighter and piece of paper for a last minute 'last day of school sign' and shove it in their hands for a quick picture.

The beginning of the school year I grab that book bag as soon as the kids are home so I can dig through all the papers. I get excited that they have to wear purple for anti-bully day and I remember to send money for the book fair.  The end of the school year I give that book bag stink eye, then several hours later dig through all the papers. Oh great, I've got to find a purple shirt for Relay for Life and dig up some quarters to send for the latest whatever is going on.

The beginning of the school year my kids are leaping out of bed, excited to see their friends. The end of the school year I am pulling them out of their beds hissing 'it's 13 years, I did my time and now it's your turn!'

The beginning of the school year my daughter loves riding the bus. The end of the school year she's asking to move to a different house so she can ride a different bus because she's 'over having an assigned seat and seriously mom why can't you just pick me up from school?'

The beginning of the year I'm all like 'oh let me know if you ever need me to come in and help!  I love being a part of the school!'  The end of the year I'm like 'yeah that slip that asked for volunteers...I lost it...I guess I won't be there...'

The beginning of the school year we sit at the table every night to work on everything in the homework folder, go over spelling words, read the library book. The end of the year we sit at the table and cram all the homework for the week into one night, we practice spelling words on the way to school, and the library book stays in the book bag so it can go straight back to school without getting lost.

The beginning of the school year projects we map out a plan, make lists, go shopping, and create. End of the school year projects we forgot about until last minute, run through house on a scavenger hunt, throw something together and pray.

The beginning of the school year the school supplies are purchased and replaced when needed. The end of the school year I'm like 'just because that pencil is an inch long doesn't mean it won't write!'

The beginning of the school year we meet our new teacher and begin new friendships. At the end of the year, we thank our teacher and enjoy the memories.

Here's to wrapping up one more school year!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

What's inside your purse, mommy?

A while back as I was digging through my purse, or 'mom bag' as I affectionately call the giant tote I lovingly drag around filled with everything from band aids to water bottles, I uncovered rocks, a pair of Mario underpants (not necessarily mine and hopefully clean), and a half eaten peanut butter cracker. As I do with everything, I posted about it on Facebook, where other moms shared the random crazy things they have found in their handbags over the years. I then asked moms if I could share their findings on my blog, so here we go:

Allison:  Hot Wheels, socks
Amber:  house phone
Amy:  potato
Heather:  a suppository
Amber:  a wet diaper
Merritt:  hard boiled egg
Angie:  fork
Beth:  half an Italian sub
Chelsea:  dirty Buzz Lightyear underwear
Wendy:  wooden spoon
Melissa:  athletic cup
Holly:  busted packets of Polynesian sauce
Stacey:  crumpled up Taco Bell napkin with chewed gum inside
Katie:  aluminum foil
Jessica:  house phone, remote control, sock, screwdriver, half eaten Poptart
Sarah:  My Little Ponies, half eaten orange, batteries
Amanda:  Louisville slugger nubs
Holly:  GI Joe named 'Ripper'
Jannell:  fork, house phone
Randa:  Doc McStuffins stethoscope
Jamie:  lava rocks, vending machine plastic ducks
Kellie:  3 week old banana
Whitney:  used bandage
Jennifer:  corn cob pipe, rocks, acorns, leaves
Jessi:  toy wrench
Aimee:  baseball athletic cups
Kathleen:  tape measure, cold pack, Ace Bandage
Pam:  unused doggy poop bag

It's amazing the items that find their way into our bags!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Buddy Binx Balls Stupid Cat Little Kitty

So last fall a little black kitty literally showed up at our front door. Michael was outside and texted me 'look on the porch.'  I turned in the light and this little black kitten with big yellow eyes was staring at our house like 'Yep; this one will do.'

I yelled for the kids and we tumbled out onto the porch...and apparently the sight of two noisy children in their underwear (my kids never have clothes on at home, fair warning) was overwhelming so kitty ran away.  My kids cried and wailed over the loss so Michael lured the kitty with food from the woods into our cat carrier. He brought the carrier to the porch where the kids squealed and oohed over the little cat. Morgan cried 'please please please I will do anything to keep it!!' 


The problem is, we already have two black cats. Ironic eh?  And they aren't related. Both are boys. The little kitty actually looked like a combination of both our black cats. I swear a huge pile of their hair somehow made it outside and got struck by lightning, creating little kitty. 

So we started feeding little kitty on our deck and he slowly got used to the kids. The day Morgan got to hold him, she decided he needed a name. 

I was like well it's a boy so give it a boy name. She asked 'how do you know it's a boy?'

Uhhhh how do you explain these things to a six year old?

Oh yeah. Science. 

I told her boys have balls. 

'Okay, well I want to name him Balls since he's a boy.'

Wait...what?!  No!

I tried to talk her out of it. But after seeing me laugh for 20 minutes over her choice of name, she knew it was a keeper. 

What about Sirius?


Darth Vader?

For a short while (like a day) I talked her into naming him Binx after the cat in the movie Hocus Pocus. It didn't last. 

And unfortunately Jack loved the name too. 'We have a new cat...his name is Balls.'  Both kids had to tell everybody. 

Thank goodness people who know us are used to our weirdness. 

We tried to find a home for Balls but nobody wanted him since he wasn't a small enough kitten. So sad. He eventually found his way into our house where, surprisingly, our adult male black cats just love him. Especially the one Morgan renamed Mean Kitty, because he hates everybody other than Michael. 

Michael was like 'we gotta do something about his name. I think Buddy is a good name for him.'  I agreed. We tried to encourage Buddy, but the kids actually started referring to him as Little Kitty. That nickname works out great because Morgan renamed both cats when she was two; Calvin is 'Happy Kitty' and Shiner is 'Mean Kitty' so Buddy is 'Little Kitty.'  

Well he was until Michael started calling him Stupid Cat...