Thursday, August 1, 2013

Disney - 2013

Here we are!  We have reached the final post about this Disney vacation!  I know, you have laughed, you have cried and you have said "OMG! How many posts can this girl write about one vacation!?" This is it. I think.  ;)

In between our days in Magic Kingdom we had two full rest days and a day in Epcot.  We staggered the rest days a bit so the second one landed on Thursday. It was perfect timing and was just at the point that we really didn't want to get up and fight the crowds that morning.  We were all ready for a break.  The fun part is that right before we left for Florida one of my very best friends (she introduced Cliff and I) from college and I chatted and I realized just how close she was to Orlando.  We hadn't seen her since graduation and her husband is in the military so she has moved from state to state since then.  Long story short, we planned on going to her house for a visit until mid afternoon or so then moving on to Downtown Disney after that as our day away from the parks.  It was AWESOME!  We showed up at her door and it was like no time had passed at all.  Well, besides the fact that there were now 5 children between us.  haha!  It was so amazing to hug her again and get to meet their children.  SO CUTE!  The kids played, we had lunch, we talked, and had a great time.  
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Of all of the toys in that room, Natalie chose this one to play with.  You can take a girl out of Disney...

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Her little man.  Oh the cuteness!!!!

It was also super great to be able to relax in a home for a few hours in the middle of a busy vacation like Disney.  We had been living in the resort and although it is an AMAZEBALLS resort, nothing can compare to the comforts of a home.  The kids all had a great time and at one point I walked in on S and Alyssa cuddled in S's bed giggling and talking.  
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It reminded me so much of her mama and I chilling in her room giggling and talking until all hours of the night way back in the day.  Full circle!  You know I live for that stuff!

After what felt like about five minutes (in reality it was hours) it was time to go.  They were just getting prepared to move again so we hugged like it may be our last.  Goodness knows how long it will be before our lives cross paths again.  There are some people who come into your lives that you may not think about every day, but when you do, you miss them terribly.  Stacia is one of those people for me and I kind of hate that we live so far apart.  sigh
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Wipe the tears, sniffle, sniffle.  We headed out and went to Downtown Disney.  I mean c'mon, did you really expect us to go a whole day without anything Mickey related?  Nope....just nope. The two main reasons we went were to shop at the largest character store in the country and to get ice cream, for dinner of course, at Ghiradelli.  No pictures from the toy stores since we were all too busy playing like five year olds and I never thought to snap some pics. haha!  

Ghiradelli however....
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This might be the hardest place in the universe to have to wait for your order.  

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I of course had to get the infamous sipping chocolate.  See my Disney posts from two years ago when I went with my mom to read more about this drooltastic "drink"
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***I need to take a moment here to give props to our Disney planner, Kristen Betit. She did EVERYTHING for this trip for us.  I planned NOTHING besides telling her what we wanted our vacation to look like.  She got all of the latest deals, moved rooms to get meal plan bonuses as needed, booked all of our character meals, kept in contact with me, made herself available anytime we needed her including during the trip, typed up entire packets about the parks with added info on which rides and shows we may want to avoid due to Natalie's sensory issues. I didn't have to plan or do anything for it. Everything we needed arrived in the mail along with embroidered bags for the kids.  SO ADORABLE! Now, I KNOW me some Disney but I do not enjoy the nitty gritty of planning vacations.  I want to just go and have it handed to me. haha!  Well, that's exactly what she did for us.  If you are ever planning on going I HIGHLY recommend her.  I will never, ever go without her help again.  Also, did I mention that she is free?  YES! FREE! As in NO COST!  Here is a link to her fb business page in case you would like to use her for your vacation too.  Just click her name: Kristen Betit  

Ok, now onto Epcot! 
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We got there pretty close to opening and immediately got going.  We did all of the things we wanted to do in the main part of the park first including watching the fountain for what felt like 5 lifetimes.  Memories people!  This was one of those "it's not about us and it doesn't matter if we aren't enamored by the fountain".  They were enamored...and that's what mattered that week.  After the shows/attractions at the front of the park we started to the left of the loop of the World Showcase and went into Mexico.  
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We went into every single country that day.  We meandered and stopped to look over the water at Spaceship earth.  We shopped in shops and stopped to smell the roses, or rather, played the drums.  Anyone who knows our girl at all knows that she loves her some drums.  They stayed here and did this for about 30 minutes or more and it might just have been their favorite part of the day. haha!
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As we kept walking we happened to run into a meet and greet with Donald.  Bennett was completely taken with him and didn't want to let go.  It was so dang adorable! Do you think he thought Donald was the biggest stuffed animal in the world?  That's kind of how amazed and in love he seemed.
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I think the best part of the day for me was when we came upon the carpet ride (Aladdin) that they show in the Disney World commercials and the girls eyes bugged out.  We waited in line and when it was finally our turn it was round and round of me gazing at this face.
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My child who used to be terrified of anything that moved under her, anything that was unpredictable, and anything unknown, climbed into that seat like she owned it and had the dang time of her life.  I may or may not have shed some inner tears on this ride.  

When we got to China we saw something I never thought we'd see in a Disney park...emptiness.  We were there early enough that most people hadn't made it that far yet.  It was such an odd sight that I just stood there for a minute after I took it. It was only empty for a few minutes but how cool is this pic!? 
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We had one of our character meals at the Norway pavilion (don't send me emails telling me that I am posting these countries out of order.  My memory is horrible when it comes to the exact timing on what we did when, this is just our day in a nutshell.  Just enjoy the recap) so we made our way there for our reservation.  It was another princess one so the girls were a bit giddy.  Alyssa was able to meet Belle again which gave her perma grin for the rest of the day. 
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I could not love Natalie's face here more if I tried.  HA!  It looks like she's giving Belle a stern talking to. "No funny business Belle!" Alyssa in contrast is about to leap out of her skin with excitement. I love little kids in Disney World!

The food there was amazing and the kids did great! The air conditioning was kind of nice too. ;)
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After lunch we headed back out into the heat and walked at a 4 year olds pace through the rest of the park.  Alyssa was the only one not in the stroller so we just kind of went at her speed.  Bennett was so done and completely passed out at this point.
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When we got to Italy she immediately ran up onto the platform. "Alyssa, stand up there and smile so I can take your picture"...
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God I live for her personality!!!

France was another fun one because Cliff had been there (the real one haha!!!) and got to tell Alyssa a little about it.  She now thinks she has actually been to all of these countries by the way so if you talk to her and she is all "I'VE BEEN THERE!!!", yea, she hasn't.  haha!
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Around this point Cliff was a bit ahead of me and Alyssa (bathroom break possibly?) and we got separated on opposite sides of this parade.  Random parade that we just happened to walk up to as it started.  Can you guess which country we were in here?  ;)
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We turned the bend near the end of The World Showcase and all of us were just about done.  It was hot and this park is a big one to do in one day with three little kids.  It was fun, but we were just wearing out.  We headed to England because I knew there was a garden in the back that a lot of tourists just kind of bypass.  It's a great place to catch your breath and sit for a few minutes away from the craziness.  There was a gift shop right there so Alyssa and I being us, went in just to look around.  We got near the back of the store and there was Pooh and Tigger.  Just hanging out in a corner decorated to look like Christopher Robin's room.  There was only two people in line so we jumped in and got a shot.
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Then we had to run out to get everyone else because OMG POOH AND TIGGER ARE IN THAT STORE!!!!!  Cue Bennett and his uber love of giant, moving stuffed animals. haha!  This by the way was the beginning of his obsession with Tigger.  He sobbed and cried and reached out for him as we pried him away to leave the store.  Poor baby.  I would have let him stay all day if I could have.
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Ignore the wonky colors, the lighting was really weird and I was not a photographer at that moment.  I was the mommy trying not to miss moments.

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The day was gorgeous and I was so happy that Kristen talked us into one day in Epcot.  Alyssa was a trooper and walked the entire 8 hours.  She was so worn out that she walked into their room when we got back to the resort and put herself to bed around 6:15.  We thought she was just being dramatic but we didn't see her again until morning and she didn't move when Natalie joined her at 7.  Meanwhile...
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I had a few of these "end of day" photos of Bennett because they just cracked me up.  Here are a couple from the end of a day at the Magic Kingdom.
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All in all Epcot was awesome, even if we did trudge through it all in a day.  They were veterans at this point so we all survived just fine. haha!

Character meal wrap up
Like I said before, we had 5 character meals in all.  Three I have mentioned in previous posts.  One of the last two was at Ohana and was a homestyle type meal.  All of the food came to our table on a platter and we just kind of took what we liked.  Eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes and fruit.  They introduced the characters with a conga line which Alyssa bravely jumped into.  She was a little hesitant but that girl found her big girl panties and didn't miss this possibly once in a lifetime opportunity.  Watch out world, this girl was born to move mountains!
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Looking back at her daddy one more time for encouragement

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They got to meet Mickey (FINALLY), Goofy (or was it Pluto?), Lilo and Stitch here.  
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Itching his nose.  Does this strike anyone else as funny? 

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He was working hard to get that lei on...and off, and on, and off...

Before we knew what hit us our vacation ended.  It felt like waiting to go to the electric chair.  To help ease our way back into the real world we planned our very last character meal for early in the morning on our departure day.  We packed the car the night before, got up, checked out and headed to breakfast.  It was much less traumatizing knowing that we would get to see Mickey one more time and fill our bellies with some amazing breakfast foods.  
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This moment...the one where he realized it wasn't just going to be breakfast, yeah, that was awesome.

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It felt like we were saying goodbye to close friends.  We all felt it.  sigh  
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None of us were ready to go home.  How on earth had it been a whole week already?!  It was the most amazing week filled with dreams come true (on so many different levels) and wide eyed wonderment.  It was filled with so much of everything we had wanted them to experience and we managed to do it all while keeping our biggest goals in mind.  HAVE FUN! Do not rush them, do not tell them what to love about it all, follow zero rules (ice cream for dinner, popcorn after breakfast, buy whatever they want until the money runs out) and no matter what, no matter the weather or circumstances that arise... remember that we will only live this time in our lives once.   

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 So we took it all in, and made us some memories.    

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Disney 2013 - Part 3

Confession:  I wrote most of this back in early March but never finished it.  The Disney vacation posts need to get wrapped up so I can get back to blogging about life with the mini's.  This post will be all of the days of Magic Kindom smushed into one post.  There are multiple days strung together as if they were one day. They weren't, but I am afraid of having 900 posts about Disney so we shall edit them together a bit. In between day 2 and three of The Magic Kingdom was a day in Epcot. That will be the fourth and final Disney post.  Stay tuned!!!  I promise not to wait a million months in between posts next time.  Pee now and refill your's going to be a good one!

We planned this vacation for a full week, but only 4 days were in the parks.  I know this place.  I know how exhausted everyone gets and I have watched families burn themselves out days before they are finished with their week.  Cliff and I both felt that this trip was for the kids.  It was go where they go, see what they want to see, touch, smell, feel, BE.  We decided to visit the Magic Kingdom three times and Epcot once.  It was the park we were there to show them and the one that they would get the most enjoyment from.  By making all of the days there we were able to really take our time.  No rushing, rushing, rushing in order to fit it all in all the while getting stressed and snappy with the kids.  We never had to say no to riding something more than once (or ten times) and we never had to rush them past details that they noticed in order to "fit it all in".  They got to do it all, many times, and it was fantastic.

Day two was an off day.  We hung out at the resort, took our time eating, had breakfast with the characters, did a little laid back shopping, and basically just relaxed while Cliff and I got our bearings and figured out how everything was going to work for the week.
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We had character meals sprinkled in throughout the whole trip.  There were 5 total.  Some were breakfast, some lunch and the one dinner at the castle. I highly recommend doing that as it was an awesome way to get to meet a ton of characters without standing in lines. This day started with a breakfast with Pooh, Tigger, Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter and Mary Poppins.  Bennett LOVED Tigger.  He was completely enamored by was the cutest thing ever!  They all did amazing.  This breakfast was at The Grand Floridian and it was so gorgeous and YUMMY!  It was perfect for the kids because it was a buffet so we could get the kids just what we knew they would eat, no more, no less, and filled them up for quite awhile.  PERFECT!

Spotting the first character...Pooh
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This might just be my favorite photo from the whole trip.  BOOP!

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The next day in the parks came quickly and I was so excited to get back and go through it all again, only slower.  More than one day there was the BEST choice we have ever made in the history of choices ever.  Just sayin.
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This pic was on the last day.  We caught the show in front of the castle as we walked in.

Right off the bat we jumped in line to meet Tinkerbell.  Adorableness!!!  

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This one is from our second day at MK. (notice the different outfits)

We walked, we ate ice cream, we relaxed in the shade and observed Tom Sawyer's island, we stopped to see hidden Mickeys and tried to take in every single thing.  We were making memories people! Well, most of us were making memories... some of us were passed out and sweating to death against the mommy.

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All three days in Magic Kingdom were like this.  Just us, being us, enjoying us, taking it all in.

As we made our way around the park we ran into The Fairy God Mother.  It was random and just dumb luck that we were there when she was.  The line only had a handful of people in it so we jumped in.  
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At the time Cinderella was Natalie's favorite movie.  She was star struck by her....I think they had that effect on each other actually.  The Fairy God Mother gave Natalie extra attention, held up the line, handled Natalie being her handsy self and seemed to love every second.  Every so often the magic of "pretend" would wear off  for a minute and I would think "I wonder if this person loves someone with Down syndrome or some other special needs"  There were just so many cast members who truly got our girl.  Saw her, like, REALLY saw her.  I would have loved to have asked.
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Here is a bit more of our days in the park.
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Disney-ing like a boss!
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Waiting in line for the Winnie the Pooh ride...again. teehee
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They loved this ride just a tiny bit. 
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Side note:  They use a TON of hairspray in the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique.  Her hairdo lasted two days before we took it out...
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 Ok, back to our regularly scheduled post.

As we reached the other side of the park we happened to find Buzz!!! Again, totally by chance.  It was a good day! These kids LOVE Toy Story...Natalie's face kind of captures it all.
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On the last day we were on our way out for the last time and caught the beginning of the parade.  I didn't cringe this time like the last, I didn't fear having to run away with Natalie to a quieter place.  No sir!  This time we parked our tushies front and center and waited for the fun to begin.  This is what we waited for and had hoped for with everything in us.  This my friends is what Disney is about.  

Waiting for it to start:
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Our view when we turned around:
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The music starts and the parade turns the bend:
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I was still in denial at this point that it was our last day in the Kingdom.  As we left I snapped some pics of the things that I love to love.  There is so much detail that goes unnoticed in the parks by people who are working hard to "see it all".  I love it all, but the tiny details and extra eye candy is what makes Disney different from other parks.  Take the time to look up and around while you are there.  
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This bakery has been a staple at Disney for YEARS (since opening?) and it is closing.  It is being replaced by a Star.bucks and I kind of want to puke about it.  Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE Star.bucks but c'mon!  There is a place for everything and replacing a Disney staple for something I can get on any corner anywhere in the US is kind of horrific. 
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At the end of main street, right before you leave the park, is the most mouth watering candy store.  So of course Alyssa and I made a TINY detour and found ourselves in line. We drooled, we giggled over what to pick, she left nose prints... it was a great last memory before stepping back out into the reality of the real world.
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We walked across the street to leave the park.  It took all I had not to cry, for real.  I had dreamed about this vacation for so many years and I was just not ready to walk out of the Magic Kingdom for the last time this trip.  I turned around for one more look and one more pic of my middle mini in the happiest place on earth.
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As we walked through the gates she took my hand and looked up at me and said, I kid you not, "Mommy, I'm going to miss Disney so much, I just love it here" with this sad little voice.  She has this amazing way of capturing my thoughts at just the right moments. Sweet sigh