Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mmmm... Burgers.....

Upon Addison's request, we had hamburgers tonight.

Addison's burger was the most "well done". He takes a bite and looked up at Jeff. "I don't like my hamburger. Mine is burnt".

Jeff, in typical Dad fashion (which, by the way, comes upon you effortlessly after having kids) says, "It's not burnt, that's just flavoring".

Addison takes another bite and looks up again, with a slightly puzzled-unhappy-bad-taste-in-mouth look on his face. "Well, this isn't a very good flavoring." He looks at his burger slowly and then back up to Jeff. "It tastes like 'burnt'".

Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 5 & 6

The last two days we spent with half days at Magic Kingdom & Epcot and then MGM and Epcot. The Kim Possible missions made Epcot a winner on this trip. The boys loved them! Soarin' is also one of our all time favorites. Addison was a little freaked out with the fireworks at the end... I don't know what's up with him this trip!

By midday, we were in need of a little rest. Well, some of us were... and only one of us actually got one. Jeff crashed in the room while the kids and I went to the pool. Ivey loved the water! She splashed and splashed and squealed. I'm going to have to get her in those ISR swim lessons before too long!

We saw the fireworks at both Epcot and Magic Kingdom in the same night... with three kids in tow. That's a feat! Ivey was wide awake during the Epcot fireworks. Much to my surprise, she loved them! She was bright eyed and soaked it all in. She didn't flinch... not even a little. When my head would get in her way she would grunt and move around to get a better view. My little girl is a trooper!

By the time we made it over to Magic Kingdom, she was asleep and slept through the fireworks over there. She slept while Jeff and I took turned riding rides with the boys. Hal called me at about 11:15pm to see how the trip was going... not expecting me to be in the line for Thunder Mountain with Asa and Addison! Those two stayed up late and enjoyed every minute of it... and so did I!

Thankfully, we had yet another fabulous, magical Disney vacation... even with a baby in tow. I think the keys are: flexibility, rest when needed, and don't sweat the small stuff!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Day 4

Today, Jeff and the boys headed to MGM, which is no longer MGM but is now called Hollywood Studios. Ivey and I stayed back in the room to get a little rest. I caught up with them a couple hours later. Jeff darted off as soon as they got there in order to get a fast pass to the new Toy Story Ride: Midway Madness. The fast passes were completely out for the day by 11:00! Jeff and the boys rode this first and LOVED IT. They were lucky enough to get to ride it twice in a row... without getting off. It was the "extra magic hours" so the park opened an hour early for Disney Resort guests. I rode later on in the day, and they were right- it is an awesome ride!

The boys really enjoyed the stunt car show and the Indiana Jones show. For some reason, Addison was scared of the Tower of Terror! He used to LOVE this ride and now he was nervous about it. He rode it once, but he swore he wouldn't ride it again. Who knew! I drew the short straw and rode Star Wars with the boys. If they had been 7 years old, I could have sent them in without me. It's not a bad ride, it just makes me a little sick.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Day 3

I waited too long to post this, so I have forgotten a lot! This was the day that we went to Epcot. Everyone tends to think that Epcot isn't fun for kids. My kids don't agree! We were lucky enough to be there during the Flower and Garden Festival. If we hadn't had kids with us, I would have liked to hit the gardening workshops and classes that they had going on, but I was happy just to walk around and see all the gorgeous topiaries and flowers. There was even a butterfly house and a fairy garden that we could walk through. As if Epcot wasn't pretty enough!

The new ride for us was Mission Space. Jeff and I were terrified of this ride... we had heard how rough it was. It puts you in a spaceship simulator. It makes you feel as if you are blasting off from Earth to Mars, and creates the feel by spinning you in a centrifuge. I didn't plan to ride it, but Jeff went on with the kids. Much to Addison's disappointment, he was too short. For some reason, he was 44" in the other parks, but not here. I think they raised it a little bit higher just for this ride, but who knows. There were warning signs everywhere trying to get people to either not ride it at all or ride the "green" version, which does not spin. They even made you hold a card that lists all the warnings while you stand in line. I tried to convince Addison that he really didn't want to ride it... and while Jeff and Asa blasted off to Mars, Addison, Ivey and I went to Innovations and played a recycling game. My competitive little Addison was happy. Jeff swore that I had to ride Mission Space before we left.

Asa and Addison had a great time playing in the water fountain. One of my best Disney memories is of me and my cousins playing in the jumping water, which we could not locate on this trip. One of the new things that we did on this trip was the Kim Possible Mission in Epcot. I found this to be complete genius. You go to a station and pick up a Kim Possible phone/communicator. You then head to the country that they instruct you to. Once there, you help Kim Possible save the world by listening to the clues and completing the missions. It was very interactive. The game used the GPS in the phone... as you found and stood near a clue and pressed the button on the phone, it would trigger action right there in front of you. For instance, in Japan, the were told to find the windchimes outside of a shop and sit underneath. When they did, they pressed their phone button and a gust of wind came down, the chimes spun, and the phone explained that the gust strengthened their signal or powers or something. At one point, they found a gong they were looking for, which normally looks just like any other decoration in the park, but it made a loud 'gong' noise when they pushed the button. They went from clue to clue until they solves that country's mission. Jeff says that the UK had the best one. You had to go into a phone booth, which had a little door that let out a golf ball... you had to take the golf ball to a shop and put it in a golf ball washer... which revealed a hidden computer. They also had to go up to a certain tea shop and say to the server, "Danger is my cup of tea". She gave them a tea bag that had the secret code "chai" on it.. that they had to enter into the computer in the shop. Very cool. We saw as many adults playing as kids! What an excellent way to get the kids to enjoy going out around the lake. It also got us back into parts of the countries that we'd never seen before!

We ate dinner at our favorite Epcot restaurant, and the reason that we even booked this trip... Le Cellier. We weren't really thinking about coming back so soon, but Jeff just called to see if we could get a reservation... and if we could get reservations at all the good restaraunts, we'd come. So, we came! We even got them to bring out more of our favorite pretzel bread. Yummm.

I did end up riding Mission Space with Asa. It was an awesome ride... great concept and great simulation. I did spend the entire ride concentrating on not throwing up. The g force was so strong that I had to squint my eyes and after trying unsuccessfully to move my arms I decided to just focus on keeping control of my gag reflex. I was an awesome ride... that I won't do again!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 2

Today we spent the day in the Animal Kingdom. It was an 'extra magic hour' day, which means that if you are staying in a Disney resort hotel (we stayed in the cheapest one this trip), you can stay in the park for an extra hour or two.. sometimes it's in the morning, sometime it's after the park officially closes. Check the website and see which parks stay open later or open earlier in order to plan your trip!

Because the extra magic hours meant the park would stay open later, we slept in and watched a little tv in the room before we left. Watch the Disney World channels. We did this and learned that the Animal Kingdom was having a "picnic int he park" that day. This meant that we could use counter service credits to get a picnic to take and eat at one of the many picnic spots in the park. We chose baked chicken (it came with more than we could eat) and it came with 3 sides to share, desserts for everyone and drinks. It even came in a reusable bag- like the green reusable grocery bags. Cute. It was a great lunch!

A little tip about water. I brought a pallet of bottled water ($2 at Target) and took a few bottles into the hotel room each night to chill in ice. We took 3 bottles to the park each day, along with a few snack bars. We drank the water and then filled the water bottles at water fountains all day long. I brought lemonade and Koolaid packets to mix in for the kids. A lot of the time, they chose this instead of the drink that came with the meal. You need to stay hydrated, and keeping bottles of water in the stroller does that for free. Bring hats. Wear sunscreen. Bring sunscreen.

Here's what I packed for the park each day: sunscreen, hats for the kids, a change of clothes for the kids (let them play in the water... it's a blast!), bottled water, packets of drink, a few little snacks, camera, some days the video camera, no money... just the key card, Ivey's disposable bibs, food, spoons, and place mats, diapers, wipes... that's about it).

Everest was the big attraction. Asa was so excited and Addison swore he would not ride it. I convinced Addison to see if Asa survived and then make a decision. We did the baby swap trick and Asa and Jeff rode first. Asa came off the coaster bouncing like Tigger. He loved it! Addison, Asa and I rode it while Jeff waited with Ivey... and then later on we rode it again. I thought it might be a little much for the boys, but no! We also rode the River Rapid ride over and over. The boys got wet, but not as wet as when they jumped into the fountain outside of the ride! They were completely drenched... and happy as clams.

(Notice in the picture Asa has his hands up!!)

We were very lucky that our Spring Break was later than most other Spring Breaks. I would not go during a normal Spring Break time. This is a big plus to our homeschooling decision! If I wasn't homeschooling, I would suggest using another break, especially if it falls at a time when other schools are in.

We saw the new Nemo Musical, which was absolutely great! It was nice and air conditioned, I could nurse Ivey, chill out and the performers were top notch. I have no idea how they sing like that all day long! I highly recommend this show, as well as the bird show, which we see every time we go. We missed the Bug's Life 3D show in the Tree of Life, but it's a great one- don't miss it!

We had dinner reservations for Boma, which is at the Animal Kingdom Lodge (when making your reservations, don't discount restaurants that are in the other Disney resorts or you will be missing some great dining!). We drove over and enjoyed one of our favorite restaurants in the park. Dallan and Kyle from Jeff's office were down for work and met us there. It was another buffet, and the boys were thrilled. We had late reservations, so Ivey slept in the stroller while we ate. Next time, we will try to make our reservations earlier in the evening. These were a little late.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Day 1

Instead of hopping back and forth park to park like we typically do, we spent the entire day today in the Magic Kingdom. You just have to start and end every Disney trip there. We did not try to get there when it opened, but we were there before lunch. Space mountain was going to be our first ride, but it was closed for refurbishing (closed for 8 months). You can check out to see which rides are down on which dates on the DisneyWorld website. You can also check to see the height requirements for the rides. 40" is a magic number, as is 44".

Thunder mountain was one of the boys' favorites. Addison was so excited that I thought he might burst! I sat between them and as we climbed the mountain he yelled, "What comes up... must. go. down!!" Ivey was alert and excited the whole day! There are a lot more baby-friendly rides than you'd think. She rode Peter Pan, Pirates of the Caribbean, Buzz Lightyear and more. Pretty much every ride in FantasyLand is baby-friendly! We used our fast-passes wisely. I suggest figuring out which fast pass ride you want to ride most and heading straight for it as soon as you enter the park. Split up. Let one adult hightail it over to grab the passes and meet you back at another ride. Check the time on the fastpass that says when you can get your next FastPass. As soon as you can, grab another one. You'll be glad you did! Jeff and I took turns running across the park getting fast passes. We didn't stay in any line that was longer than about 20 minutes or so.

We used Ivey's highchair cover as a liner for the stroller, so that it wouldn't take up any room in our bag or in the bin under the stroller. This worked out really well making a comfy bed for her to nap in, also. You need that highchair cover for the restaurants! I nursed Ivey often and she stayed nice and hydrated. I don't know how on earth I would have done it if I had to deal with bottles or formula. For me, it was perfectly easy to just nurse her when she needed it while parked in a corner waiting for the guys to ride a ride, while riding a slow boat ride, or even while walking. If you don't have one, get a breastfeeding cover. It makes things much easier and calms the fear of flashing the world. I just thought to myself a) no one cares b) if they do they are idiots and b) they can think I'm European.

This was the first time Jeff and I used the "baby swap" service. Let me tell you how this works... any ride that babies are not able to ride offers 'baby swap'. You go up to the entrance of the line with all family members and say you need to baby swap. They will give a rider swap pass to the parent who is not riding. One parent takes the other kids (or no kids) on the ride while the other parent waits with the smaller children. Once the taller kids and adult come back, the other parent gets to go and jump in the Fast Pass line... with up to 2 other people!!! This means that the taller kids get to ride twice in a row, as if they had two fast passes. Brilliant!

Although the old dining plan was vastly superior to the new one, we enjoyed it and worked it to its fullest. (They took away the dinner appetizer and, more importantly, no longer include the tip into the dining plan... which totally takes away the 'all inclusive' nature of the plan.) On the basic dining plan, you get a snack credit, a counter service credit and a table service credit per person per day. If you want to eat a decent dinner, you MUST make your reservations way in advance. Months in advance if you can. To us, this is non-negotiable. It is what makes the dining plan so great. You can go to the top restaurants and get a $34 fillet Mignon instead of eating hamburgers. Get reservations. If you don't you. will. be. sorry. If you want to know which restaurants are best, search the web. You can find reviews and menus, or let me know and I'll give you some advice! We use our counter service credits for lunch. There are kids meals that offer kid friendly meals. My suggestion, DO NOT GET THEM. The counter service credits are not separated into child or adult.. you just have a lump of counter service credits. What does this mean? It means that you can use ONE credit and get more food than two kids can eat for lunch... and it's better food. One day, the boys split a quarter chicken, black beans and rice, dessert and a drink. Save the extra credit for breakfast- where you can use some snack credits and some of these extra counter credits to fill up for no extra money. I know this may not work for all kids- some may pitch a fit about sharing. But, for our boys (who think that getting their own happy meal at McDonalds only happens on special occasions- the three of us just split a 20 piece nugget and small fry) it works well. Heck, Addison will even say, "I'm not all that thirsty so I'll just have water or a lemonade packet to save money". Let kids know how much things cost... most of the time they don't even realize things cost money at all!

We ate dinner at the Crystal Palace Character Buffet. It wasn't the very very best food at Disney, but we like a good character dinner. It gets those pictures with some characters without having to wait in any line for it. They come table to table for pictures. Brilliant. The boys loved that they could eat as much as they wanted, anything that they wanted. I told them if they ate well, they could have any and as much dessert as they wanted... making it a totally special vacation dinner! They ate two plates of good food and, as I figured, the idea of getting all the dessert they wanted was bigger than their ability to eat it all. Each meal, I fed Ivey using the disposable spoons, jars of food, disposable bibs and disposable table place mat. Was it saving the planet? No. Was it saving our vacation? Yes! Be smart on your expensive vacation and go for happiness.

This was the first trip that we did not use a rental stroller Instead, we borrowed a great stroller (which we will be purchasing one of soon) for Ivey. We brought a carrier for her, which we used when she needed to get out of the stroller, when she was having a hard time napping, or when Addison was too tired to walk and needed to ride. It worked very well. It did change our mode of transportation to the park. We usually took the bus but this time we drove from our hotel to the parks each day. With our stow-and-go seats in the van we had enough room to put the stroller in the van without having to collapse it, so the bottom bin could stay packed. When we had to ride the tram from parking into the park, we had to take the stuff out and fold it down- it wasn't completely simple, but it worked well enough. I even did it all by myself a couple times. You need to explain to the kids that although they may ride on the bus to the park in their own seats, at night when they ride back they will have to sit in your lap to make room for everyone. The buses at night are slammed... and the idea of not getting their own seat causes kids who are exhausted to spin out of control. We witnessed this before we had kids and made a point to explain this to the boys- and avoided all tantrums on each of the three trips.

At about 9:00, Ivey and I headed back to the room while Jeff and the boys stayed out. We had to ride the tram from the park gate to the van, so I had to hold her, fold the stroller and grab the backpack to get on the tram. I'm glad I didn't let this deter us from splitting up. People are nice and will help out. I could *almost* do it myself and just needed someone to help me scoot the stroller across the tram's row. Since this is our third family trip here and I have been down here 2 or 3 times while Jeff was working on their systems, I have gotten very good at following the purple signs around the Disney property. I made it from the park to our hotel and Ivey and I were down for the night. I think Jeff and the boys took the bus to Magic Kingdom and came in at about 11:30.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Day 0

We spent the night in Fayetteville, woke up this morning and continued with the preparations. Roland and I went up to town and got haircuts for the boys... then I was able to scoot around town with Ivey while the guys went to Chick-fil-A. I bought new shoes for Jeff and went back to Target for the things I'd forgotten.

Jeff showed up at around 3:00 and we hit the road. I suggest buying brand new movies for the trip, so the kids will be totally excited about watching them... Jeff picked up Ghost Busters, Gremlins, etc and the boys were anxious to get in the car and watch them! Jeff actually squeezed in between the two carseats in the back and watched Ghost Busters with them on the way down. Another thing that worked is Mom stocked the kids up with a goody bag of coloring sheets, a dry erase board, etc. It kept them happy and entertained. Magically, we made it to Orlando with only one stop for dinner. At dinner, we put the boys in their pj's and it was lights out at 9:00. Ivey woke up and ate a few hours later... and couldn't go back to sleep. She wasn't upset or crying, just wide awake. She watched a baby Einstein movie- twice. Finally she fell asleep at midnight.

After a solid hour of being turned around in Orlando, we finally made it to Pop Century at 12:30am. The purple signs can be a bit confusing... just pay attention. Close attention. I have the hang of them, but it takes a while to be able to maneuver. While Jeff ran in to check us in, everyone in the car woke up. I sat in the floor of the van with Ivey and we all talked about how great tomorrow would be! None of us... none of us... went to sleep until 2:30!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day -1

What a whirlwind of insanity. Packing for a family of 5 to be gone for 8 days and be at Disneyworld for 6 of them is a major feat. My list was a full page, front and back... to do... to pack... it was unbelievable. Jeff was at work. I was to get ready and leave with the kids to stay at Mom and Rolands for the night- to take an hour and a half off our drive. Thankfully, Kierstin came by to help out with the kids and help me out! I was able to go to Target all on my own! Plus, she cleaned out my car!! Anyone who knows me knows that was an amazing accomplishment all by itself!

The baby made packing a lot more complicated. I took the pack-and-play, some sheets, a baby carrier, borrowed a great stroller, disposable diapers & jars of food, highchair cover, disposable placemats so she won't chew on the nasty tables, disposable bibs, take and toss spoons and bowls with lids, rice cereal and a ton of clothes. At home it's cloth diapers and homemade baby food... but a trip to Disney is no time to save the planet or be excessively frugal. It's all about prepping for the most stress-free happy magical time! I made sure to remember my Disney staples: meal bars, cereal bars, granola bars, little packets of lemonade and Koolaid (a MUST! Fill water bottles at the water fountain and make free drinks for the kids!), a pallet of bottled water (Target for $2!) and the little sippy sports tops that fit vartious sized water bottles. I collect these year round and bring them to make it easier for the boys to drink from the water or juice bottles. Make sure to get the small tops, they fit the water bottles at Disney.

I filled picture orders, paid bills, packed, cleaned house and made it out of the house with the kids and the chickens (taking them to Mom to chicken-sit) before Jeff came home from work! Whew!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

We the people...

I'm not homeschooling yet, but today was a great big lesson in US government. I was initially under the dilusion that I would be able to take off and attend the Atlanta TEA Party at the capitol building. Once reality sunk in, I moved to plan B- the TEA party at the Winder courthouse. The boys and I made signs and talked about the constitution, freedom, the importance of taxes, the current problems of huge spending and how wonderful it is to live in a country where we can go speak up about it. I explained that the politicians are supposed to work for us... and that they forget that and have to be reminded. How are the reminded? We have to get lots of people together and get LOUD. We talked about the Boston Tea Party and Addison showed me how well they are inundating the kids with environmental education as he stated that pouring all that tea in the ocean was not being good to the environment. It was a good day, and a good night. I hope it was an experience that they kids will file away in their memories, working to build a foundation of belief that they can get out and make a difference, make themselves heard and speak up for their God given rights.

Or, according to Homeland Security, I am creating a new breed of "right-wing extremists". Defending the constitution... the new extreme.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hoppy Easter!

We had a great Easter at Mim and Papa's house! Great food, beautiful weather & a whole lot of kids to hunt eggs with!

(and, the Easter dress that I stayed up until 4am making fit like a glove!)

Saturday, April 11, 2009


(After saving Jeff from a full day of watching all three kids... with Ivey who decided to resist any attempt Jeff made to get her to take a bottle... )

Jeff decided to go out and cut grass. Asa ran after him. Let's flash back to earlier in the season when Jeff tried to crank up his lawn mower only to realize that his battery was dead. Now, Jeff went out with Asa to cut some grass and Asa jumped up on the mower. "I get out here EVERY MORNING and turn your key and pretend to drive your lawn mower!"

Guess Jeff needs to keep his key in another location.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Animal Control

I know it goes without saying, but our boys are quite different. They think differently, they play differently, they have different likes and dislikes. Lately, we have noticed that Asa is constantly asking for us to play with him. Sometimes, we do. But a lot of times adult life gets in the way... or we are just fed up with being told that we are playing with Legos the wrong way. Jeff attributed his requests with a lack of attention from us... but this weekend he decided that Asa's increase in needy-ness is attributed more to his brother's lack of interest than ours. Most of the time, Addison doesn't like to play with Asa. Asa will want to play with Legos or play house or make art projects or play outside... Addison isn't interested. Addison is interested in, well, the number one thing he is interested is electronics- t.v., video games, computer games. We keep a reign on his t.v. and game allowance, which leaves him playing with his army men or running around the house, hiding behind doors, shooting us with nerf guns. Or moping around looking bored. If Asa doesn't want to play Battleship, army, checkers or chess... then Addison would rather sit in a chair by himself than play Asa's games.

While I was at a photo shoot, Jeff worked to get the two playing together. He asked them if they wanted to take turns playing what the other wanted to play. Asa jumped at the idea. No dice. Addison said he would rather just not play. Finally, after a lot of coercing on Jeff's part, they agreed that Asa would play Battleship with Addison and then Addison would play 'house' aka 'kitty' with Asa (basically just any pretend play that allows him to be the kitty in a scenario).

The game of battleship was a frustrating one for Addison, who pays very close attention, marking each of his selections with a peg. Asa, who has a hard time paying attention to games like this... especially ones that he really has no interest in in the first place, kept forgetting to mark Addison's selection, or else he would misread the grids. When I came home from my photo session, Addison's ships were spread out across the board, untouched by red pegs. Asa's board was a different story. He had grouped all of his ships into the lower left corner of the board... and dropped hints to Addison as to their whereabouts. Needless to say, it was like shooting fish in a barrell.

After the game, Addison slumped to go play 'kitty'. After a while, I heard Asa whining, "I don't like the way you play kitty!" I looked in and saw Asa with a blue fuzzy scarf tied around his neck for a leash (because every kitty has a leash) and Addison had in his hand a Lego creation that looked something like the Y of a slingshot. Closer investigation revealed that Addison had made a Lego taser (not knowing that this invention had a name, he called it the electric shocker thing). Addison was using said taser on the unarmed kitty, who was lying helpless on the floor. Sporadically, Addison would have to wait for it to recharge, stating that the longer it charges the more shock the kitty would get.... leading to Asa's whines about the injustice and lack of quality in the 'play' that he was getting from Addison.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Things I Can Do

Over the past week, Ivey has been working hard! I guess it's the new tooth that has motivated her to be a big girl. A few days ago she started getting up on her knees. She's working those abs and prepping for a future take off.

As if that weren't enough, she also started sitting up this week! She can hold herself quite well!