Father’s Day Mad Lib 2015

By Marion, age 6.5

1. My dad’s name is Josh

2. He is 37 years old, 6 feet tall, and weighs 107 pounds

3. His favorite foods are Reece’s cups

4. My dad is really good at racing

5. He loves to spend time with me

6. My favorite thing to do with my dad is snuggle him

7. I’m just like my dad because we are part of the family

8. What I love most about my dad is that he loves me

9. It makes daddy happy when I listen

10. I think my dad is a great dad

By Eliza, age 4.5

1. My dad’s name is Josh

2. He is I don’t know any big numbers old, very tall and weighs 50 pounds

3. His favorite foods are green beans, cereal and carrots

4. My dad is really good at making dinner

5. He loves to rest and watch TV

6. My favorite thing to do with my dad is go on dates with him

7. I’m just like my dad because we both have short hair

8. What I love most about my dad is that he makes good eggs

9. It makes daddy happy when I tickle him

10. I think my dad is good

Eliza added Tori to our family, just so you know that Kristie!

Graham’s version is coming in a few years :)

2011 version
2012 version
2013 version
(I guess I was too busy getting ready to have a baby in 2014 to do one!)

Posted in Eliza, Graham, Josh, Marion | Leave a comment

Magic Kingdom – Day Two (Brunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table)

It’s only 10:20 a.m. and already we’ve been at Magic Kingdom for four hours! This was probably if not the thing I was most looking forward to, one of the things that was at the top of my list.

Eating at Cinderella’s Royal Table inside the castle.

I remember being a kid and walking through the tunnel at the castle. And it was so cool and so neat but I always wanted there to be more. I knew there just had to be a way to get inside and a mere twenty years later, there is! See kids, don’t ever, ever, give up!

Another piece of travel advice. Just about all the Disney websites out there tell you to book your ADR (that’s advance dining reservation) for before the park opens because then you’re already inside the park when it opens and have a head start on the rest of the sheeple waiting to get in. “They” think that stopping in the middle of the morning to eat is a waste of prime riding time. And they may be right, if you aren’t traveling with littles and if you didn’t get to the park before sunrise.

So, if you’re using the extra magic hours and making an early morning of it, getting one of the last seatings for the breakfast meal is a great way to wrap up the morning in the park. And an added bonus, our server let us know that there wasn’t another crowd after us, that they had to flip the room for lunch service and we were welcome to stay as long as we wanted. Then he refilled our coffee cups to prove his point.

Quick dining review:

This was our first character meal. I knew we would meet Cindy first, then the other princesses would come around once we were seated and eating. What I didn’t know was that the line to see Cindy (even with our reservation) would be insanely long. I think we waited longer to see her than any of the rides we did without a fast pass. It might have had something to do with the fact we were about the last people she saw that morning but still, it was kind of ridiculous. The other disappointment/something I didn’t realize beforehand, was there were no photographers for the princesses you met while you were inside. That was a big bummer. It was incredibly difficult to actually try to eat your own meal and get decent pictures at the same time. I quickly realized though that we had already met Anna, Elsa, Tiana, Belle, Ariel and Cinderella and gotten pro pictures with them. So I relaxed and just made it a point to work meeting the other girls in a pro picture setting later on in the trip.

Not going to lie. It’s insanely and ridiculously expensive. Our server was good but I can see how some people (especially if you were paying cash and not imaginary Disney money like we have with the dining plan) could feel it was sub par service. But again, let’s be honest, you aren’t here for the outstanding service and exquisite cuisine, you’re here because you have children, probably young girls, that are absolutely princess obsessed and you’re taking them to meet Cinderella inside her freakin’ castle. So just roll with it.

The food was super yummy though (Josh got the lobster and crab crepes. I had the stuffed french toast.) They brought Graham some sort of sugar dough concoction thing even though technically he wasn’t on the meal plan which was nice. The girls also got plastic wands that have survived the month since we’ve been back and Graham got a sword. Just what every 10 month old boy needs.

Enough words, on with the pictures:

They had the front side of the castle closed to get ready for a show. Which actually provided a great place for Graham to stretch his legs.

Side note: If your kids think the princesses are the REAL DEAL and you’ve just met one or two of them, avoid like the plague any parades or shows because your kids are going to want to know how they got from one place to the other so fast.

One of my favorite pictures from the trip, nursing Graham inside Cinderella’s castle.

Despite the wait, Marion was so excited.

Eliza, not quite so much.

Cinderella’s shoulder puffs need to be yanked down.

Eliza wasn’t all doom and gloom

And even Graham was a (moderately) charming little prince

Although he was much more interested in his muffins and sword than princesses.

First princess up, Aurora!

Eliza went in for the double hug

Snow White was charmed by Graham

And it appears the feeling was mutual.

Ariel, this time in her human form (surprisingly, the girls had no questions about how she was able to transition from mermaid to human so easily.)

MMMMMMM, swords are yummy

Ooooh, Princess Jasmine! According to every little girl ever, she has the best outfit.

She was kind enough to pose for a picture with Graham

And he was kind enough

To try to share his muffin with her.

Also that’s the greatest picture in the history of all tourist pictures from Disney.

The inside of the castle,

FYI, did not disappoint

So yes. It’s expensive. The service can be spotty. The food (at least for breakfast) is good, if on the small portion side.

The chance to see your girls pose inside Cinderella’s castle, as the commercial says, well that’s just priceless.

And then your husband gets to walk around with a sword strapped to his backpack which is also pretty awesome.

Posted in Eliza, Graham, Josh, Marion, travel | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Magic Kingdom – Day Two (AKA ALL THE PRINCESSES. EVER.)

Get ready as this is just part one of three all about just day two at Disney!

Of course, it was the 24 hour Disney event, so I’ll use that as my excuse.

We tried to be logical with our fast pass selections. I had absolutely no idea what the girls would or would not like to do when it came to rides. Half of my childhood favorites are around anymore and Marion tends to be very timid so I thought there was a good chance she’d be terrified. Our logic was as follows:

Day 1 – the classics. Get them out of the way and get used to rides in general
Day 2 – meet ALL THE PRINCESSES and test ride some of the bigger rides
Day 3 – all the big rides

Here’s a thing I didn’t know about Disney before we started planning our vacation. Their hours aren’t set in stone. They don’t publish a schedule on January 1 and then it’s set in stone. The hours are constantly changing (or at least it felt like that with planning.) Especially special things like the extra magic hours and opening times. We booked our trip after the 180 day food window had past but before the 60 day Fast Pass window. I was up at 1 a.m. trying to get Anna and Elsa and got some outrageously late time. I kept trying for a week and got a (not to our family) outrageous time of 6:30 a.m. I thought it had to be a typo. Nope, Disney had announced their 24 hour event to kick off the summer and the park was opening at 6 a.m. Which actually turned out to be fabulous for our ALL THE PRINCESSES DAY.

This is what it looks like waiting for the bus at 5:45 a.m.

Practically there for sunrise!

I love their tennis shoes under their costumes!

A funny side note, as most parents will know, costumes are so cheaply made. I bought the Disguise brand Elsa coronation costume from Amazon. It was so ridiculously well made. And I needed it to be cheaply made! The top was black velvet. High neck. Long sleeves. I know Eliza would die in it, so the best made costume I’ve ever bought, I had to tear apart! I took my seam ripper to and took the entire bodice off. Sewed up the zipper seam and added an elastic waist to the skirt. Worked pretty perfectly with just a black tank top and way more practical for a 90* day.

This boy, such a good mouseketeer

Even with a fastpass, we had to wait a few minutes. They were in the presence of royalty and suitably awestruck.

Worth a 5:00 a.m. wake up call after a midnight bedtime.

I think Elsa might have been my favorite princess to see them with. Some of the princesses had lines you could tell they just said over and over but Elsa seemed to genuinely listen to the girls and have an honest interaction with them.

Love.

Eliza took her Elsa modeling seriously.

How cute is Anna?

Eliza asked her what her favorite sandwich was

Graham needed a break at this point so I went to the baby care center (OMG. You guys. It’s worth traveling to Disney with a baby or toddler just to have access to the baby centers. Such a lifesaver.) I left Josh and the girls to a snack I think while I fed Graham and we met back up in Liberty Square.

And look who they ran into!

I think Tiana might have the best dress.

From the baby center to meet up with them, I got this gorgeous view of the castle.

After Tiana, we had a FP for Belle and her magic mirror

Marion got to be Phillipe and Eliza was Chip, which is really about the most perfect casting ever.

Enchanted Tales with Belle might be my most favorite “new” Disney thing

Day two of her princess hairdo and it’s still going strong

Star.

Struck.

My little Chip

Love this!

Another reason to get Memory Maker. Or else all you end up with is pictures like this!

Eliza’s little smirk smile makes me laugh

They asked Belle what her favorite book was. Apparently it’s the story of Sleeping Beauty.

Even Graham wasn’t left out :)

She called him a little teacup. He just wanted to touch her gloves.

Our last pre-planned fast pass was for meeting Ariel. Which also proved to be a great place for Graham to crawl around.

Ariel was pretty fantastic

If I’m recalling correctly, I think she spent more time with the girls than any other princess

Eliza asked her what her favorite seashell was and they spent a few minutes picking out the various shells in the grotto

I thought it was nice of her to chat with them like that.

So maybe my most favorite thing as a parent (besides the baby care center) was this great play area at Dumbo. You walk in, get a beeper and they let you know when it’s your turn to ride while your kids play. Brilliant!

Showing her Lane genetics, hands up all the time!

Even when you were just sitting on the ground.

How cool is this shot (the background at least!)

We split up again and Josh took the girls on Barnstormer while I nursed Graham who was overdue for a nap at this point. Conveniently, the ride is close by the train so while Eliza & Josh rode Barnstormer, a sleeping Graham, Marion and I rode the train back to Main Street.

Then we met back up because it was time for brunch at Cinderella’s Castle!

Posted in Eliza, Graham, Josh, Marion, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magic Kingdom – First Visit

(I know I’m dragging this out but I don’t care; it was that awesome)

So after the visit to BBB and the crash course in modeling, we were off to experience Magic Kingdom.

Did I mention the crash course in modeling?

Again with the modeling!

For anyone planning a trip soon, here’s a pretty detailed list of what we did.

After BBB, our first ride was Prince Charming’s Regal Carousel. Then we had a FP+ for Ariel’s Grotto ride. Graham completely and totally lost it on that and I nursed on my first (and not at all last) Disney ride.

Dinner was at Pinocchio’s Village Haus. We had no trouble finding a spot to sit and the food was great. This was around 7:30/8:00. The cool thing about that restaurant is that we could see out over Small World. It didn’t have a line, so after dinner, that’s where we headed. We rode it twice with no waiting!

We used our second FP for Peter Pan. It’s a super fun ride but I do not understand why the line was always an hour. Definitely use your FP+ for it!

After that, we had about two hours or so until the fireworks and lines were not at all bad. So we headed over to the Storybook Circus area and had a blast with zero waiting. So with Barnstormer, you can only sit two across and kids had to be a certain height (or age, I can’t remember) to ride by themselves.

So Josh took Marion on that while I took Graham and Eliza on Dumbo.

Then we switched and Eliza and I went on Barnstormer and Josh took Mar & Graham on Dumbo. Barnstormer is the shortest ride ever but super fun. Not something I would stand in line for, but since there was no line, it was great.

I was using the Touring Plans app to track line waits and again, super surprised how little wait there was for so many things.

We decided to do our first character meet and got in line for Minnie & Daisy. But apparently Donald and Goofy were bored with no one in their line, so we hopped on over to see them instead.

Graham was pleased with that choice.

She was a little starstruck :) (Also, can I point out that Marion’s hair hasn’t moved an inch and Eliza’s was almost already undone? That child’s hair is a force of nature.)

FYI, Goofy is really tall.

Side note, the photographers are so fantastic. Just about every one made sure to get pictures of me and Graham and those are so special to have.

Kisses for Donald!

More kisses!

Gimme that duck!

Our last FP was for the fireworks and it was a waste. I had read reviews that said you only need to show up about five minutes before, plenty of room to sit down, etc. Um, not true. It was an amazing viewing spot but we were standing shoulder to shoulder

Except for Graham who was racked out by this point!

Before we left, I purposefully deleted all social media off my phone (and even email) so I could focus on being more present blah blah blah. Sometimes (believe it or not) I even tried to put the camera (phone) down and just enjoy. Most of the time it worked out great. But the one thing I didn’t get that I wish I did (although I’m not sure any picture could fully capture it) was the absolute joy and awe on Marion’s face when Tinkerbell flew over us.

“Mama, oh mama, she’s really flying!”

Not going to lie. I cried :)

Another tip I had read (and this one was true) was that if you leave right after the fireworks, it takes forever to get back to your hotel. So you should take advantage of short lines, go back and ride rides again and leave an hour later and not have to wait for transportation.

So we rode Small World. Again. :)

By some sort of pixie dust magic, on our way out, we accidentally ended up with amazing spots for view the Electric Light Parade

So of course we had to stop and watch.

And even though it was almost midnight

It was totally worth it for that smile!

Posted in Eliza, Graham, Josh, Marion, travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magic Kingdom – Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

There’s nothing quite like kicking off a trip to Disney with a bang!

Or, you know, mass chaos!

The girls were so looking forward to this (it was one of the few things about the trip they knew for sure we were doing) and had fun looking at pictures and videos online, picking out their hairstyles in advance and just looking forward to being fussed over.

And they were definitely fussed over!

This little sweet smile says it all!

Pro Tip Even if you book your appointments together, you probably won’t be worked on at the same time or even nearby each other. They did try to get the girls close enough so that I could watch both of them though.

This picture just makes me laugh!

Pro Tip If I haven’t said it before, I’ll say it now. Get the Memory Maker. So worth it. I was just able to be there and participate instead of worrying about getting everything captured in photos. Plus, the photographers know what they are doing and I don’t! Their lighting is spot on and they know how to work with the stylists without being all interfering.

Love this shot of my big girl

The stylists (or in Disney speak, Fairy Godmothers In Training) were so, so, so excellent. I know they have to be so tired of dealing with kids all day (and their parents!!) but you would never know it. They were so good with the girls and I loved seeing my girls get so awed that the FGIT “knew” the princesses on a first name basis! But they still took the time to admire Marion’s cat socks.

We got the package with hair, nails and makeup (the Crown package.)

Pro Tip The girls wanted the t-shirts but I didn’t want to double the price to include the t-shirt and a tutu that they’d never wear again. All of those add ons are available separately and really reasonably priced (for Disney money!)

Working in the infamous jellyfish jelly!

Fancy nails

And blue eyeshadow, of course!

Another fantastic shot

Jellyfish jelly is the real deal!

Pixie dust!

Ready for the big reveal!

She is so, so, so pleased :)

Pixie dust for Marion

I’m still finding glitter in her hair!

Love the mickey barrette (I may have worn it myself…)

Bibbidi

Bobbidi

BOO!

Y’all. Just. I love them.

This was such a fun and special experience to do with them

It even included this hysterically cheesy photo shoot afterwards

How can you not just love this?

You can guarantee these pictures will be revived when they are about 16 :)

Posted in Eliza, Graham, Josh, Marion, travel | Tagged | Leave a comment

Magic Kingdom!

Wait, I think it’s over there?

Where? Where?

There! I think seeing their faces as they saw MK for the first time might have been my very favorite moment of the trip. At least up until that point :)

Someone got a first visit button!

Doesn’t matter how crazy or crowded or anything, there is nothing quite as awesome as seeing that castle at the end of Main Street!

Although coming around the back of the castle and running in to your cousin is pretty awesome too!

Posted in Eliza, Marion, travel | Leave a comment

Exploring Wilderness Lodge

As mentioned, we had planned originally to drive to Orlando and then we changed our minds and decided to fly and then flights were cheaper a day earlier so we ended up arriving a day before we really had planned.  Anyone who has been to Disney in the past year knows you can’t just change up your plans without 180 days notice (haha!) so we decided to leave all our reservations in place, which is really just a long winded way of saying we had no plans for our first morning at Disney World.

The kids still woke up ridiculously early, I can assure you of that.

Let the vacation eating begin!

Eating bacon with her hands (while holding her fork)

Double fisting the hash brown casserole

The resort was so pretty with so much to explore and see and do. We really wish now we’d stayed an extra day just to have a hotel day.

This hotel is so incredibly themed; if you could ignore the Spanish moss hanging from all the trees, it would be really easy to believe you were at a turn of the century western national park lodge.

There was even a geyser!

But who needs a geyser when there’s a splash pad!

And it was a fantastic splash pad

Enjoyed by all

Even the big kids!

So begins the challenge of trying to get a family picture…

Seen in the wild, a mama + baby picture!

Planning note if you’re planning a trip to Disney any time soon, get the Memory Maker upgrade. It’s the one where you get unlimited photos of your trip from any photo pass photographer. I cannot tell you how worth it was to us. This was just a picture that Josh took, but I have so, so, SO many pictures of our whole family or pictures with me in them that I wouldn’t have if we didn’t get the Memory Maker. Do it. It’s one of the best things you can add to your Disney experience I think. It really let me just enjoy the experience instead of being so focused on capturing it in photos.

Meanwhile, Graham discovers the joy of toilet paper. Hello Mousekeeping!

Vacation dining, part two

And part three. Eliza fed him cupcake.

I guess the pool calories burned balanced out the cupcake sugar intake because it was then time for a post lunch nap.

Much needed by all because when they woke up

It was time to catch the boat to the Magic Kingdom!

Posted in Eliza, Graham, Josh, Marion, travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment