Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cupboard organizing

I hereby interrupt the Disney recaps to tell you...I cleaned out the cupboards. Really just one so far...

The great couponing deals I got at Dillons this week inspired me, I had to make room for my new stash of stuff.

Plus, honestly, I was so tired of the fact that every single time I opened the cupboard with the spices in it, one would come diving out at my head or into whatever I was working on!

I saw an idea on Pinterest to put your spices in the drawer next to the stove. Of course, that insanely organized woman put them all in glass jars that had cute little labels on top. Today I thought, "I wonder if all my spices will fit in there in their original containers?"

Yes, America, they will.

So on the left you see the "before" cupboard. On the right, you see the cupboard reorganized (so all my baking stuff is on the bottom two shelves instead of half of it being where I can't reach!). And the bottom right picture, all my spices in a longer in danger of falling on my head.

Hmmm. What next? Hope you are having a fun and somewhat productive or just über fun weekend!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Disney 2012 Post 3: Doing it Our Way

So it's day three in Orlando, but the second day at the parks. I agonized for months over how to do our touring schedule 'just right.' Epcot is my least favorite park.... but it still has a few things that you always want to 'try' to do....namely, Soarin. Test Track is usually a must as well, but it was closed for refurbishment. Nonetheless, while I was not going to devote a long day to Epcot, we did want to pop over there for a bit at least.

Besides, this was our vacation and we were going to do it our way.... which, for this trip, was going to be 'get into the park early, hit the highlights, eat lunch, and go swimming' for the daily plans.

Fortunately our girls are not ones to sleep in.

A quick ride on the monorail and we were at Epcot. As we did for Toy Story at Hollywood Studios, I sent Matt off to Soarin to get fastpasses once we got into the park.

The girls and I dawdled along, soaking it in. We love fountains, so we had to stop and check every one of those out as we went by.

Fastpasses weren't going to be good for about an hour or so, so we hopped on Nemo! My pics in the actual ride never turn out that great. We cruised through on our clam mobile, and then ended up in the aquarium area. We spent a lot of time checking out the sea life!

Hannah was not real thrilled that I made her get in Bruce's mouth.  

Look! More fountains. These jump from one planter to another, right over your head. The girls were taken by surprise the first few times! of course, it took me about 15 tries to get the picture of the water shooting over them! :)  

We went on Journey into the Imagination with Figment, an old classic. Always gotta watch out for the part with the sense of smell!

We headed back to the Land building and rode 'living with the land'...typically a snoozer in my book, but some of the gardening stuff was quite interesting. Brooke's class made these cool Ecosystems before we left (fish on bottom, roots in the middle, plant life/dirt/rollie polies on top) and on this ride we saw a giant version. Brooke was excited to see what she has learned this year put into use right there at Disney World!

Finally it was time to go on Soarin. Brooke LOVES this ride. Hannah made the height cut off, and soon we were soarin over the California coast, feeling the breeze in our hair, smelling the orange groves, and the pine trees on the ski slopes, and right through the fireworks at Disneyland. Hannah LOVED it too. It really is a great ride!!! (Simulator, don't be scared!).

We snagged some lunch there at the Sunshine Seasons, then bailed out of there and back to our hotel for usual rest time/swim time. Some people might think we're crazy for having rest time while at Disney World, but let me tell you this. Besides the fact that it is so easy to do because of where we stay, I will tell you honestly that we did not have ONE SINGLE MELTDOWN at the parks, restaurants, etc. The ONLY meltdown we had was when we woke Hannah UP from a nap, because she just doesn't wake up well. When you are at Disney, you see parents getting so frustrated with their kids for lagging behind, or throwing a fit, or whining. It's because they are TIRED. Or, HOT, HUNGRY, and TIRED.  It is soooooo worth it for us to have that time to refresh. It results in a much more peaceful trip, and so much more relaxing. I always encourage my clients to have some chill time in their days too, and I've not had one person come back and complain about that suggestion ;)

Anywho.....! Dinner that night was back at Hollywood Studios. We got there early enough to catch the Muppets in 3D before dinner. Phineas and Ferb were there near our restaurant, but the line was long, so we just waved. We did, however, pose with Mater and Lightning real quick.

Then it was off to Mama Melrose's for dinner. I had gone back and forth on whether to keep this reservation several times. I ended up keeping it because my friend Chuck said it was good, and I wanted the priority seats it gave us for the Fantasmic show later that night.

I was not disappointed. We had to wait a little longer for a table than was typical for us, but it was worth it. Matt and I both had steak with some kind of augratin Macaroni and cheese. I don't remember what the girls had, but they loved it.

For dessert, Hannah got a 'spaghetti and meatballs cupcake'.

Matt and I got some fancy dessert of some sort that was good.

Brooke was a little offended I didn't make a big deal out of her dessert choice...yogurt parfait! I was impressed she chose something healthy but she doesn't have the sweet tooth we do! I did snag a picture of her yogurt though :)

After we ate, we had thought we'd catch an attraction or two before heading over to Fantasmic. That didnt' work. The last show of Disney Junior Live on stage had already started. The 'Draw with an Imagineer" at the Animation building was going to run later than we could stay given the show time. We didn't think our tummies could handle Tower of Terror after our awesome dinner.

So we just wandered on over to the Fantasmic Arena. And walked a long ways into there to our seats.

I embraced my inner super mommy and bought the girls these battery powered glow necklaces, and cotton candy too. They loved me.

Fantasmic was another thing on my 'must do' list....another show we had not been to on any of our previous trips. It was not at all what I expected, but it was really cool! A lot of the show was clips projected onto these huge fountain plumes of water, which was hard to photograph. Mickey had to conquer the villains of his dreams and triumph in the end.

This boat came by, and it was like character-palooza. Kinda fun to see so many in one spot!  

In the end, Mickey triumphed over his nightmares!  

We were so glad to see the show, but I wouldn't do it without the priority seating. People line up 90 minutes ahead of time for the general seating. Not worth that wait I don't think. Exiting was a like a  herd of 5000 people plodding down the cow path. That was a little crazy.

The bus gods were smiling because we got out of the park and to our bus stop and only waited a minute or two. It was butt-to-nut crowded on the bus, but the girls sat and talked holes in one lady's shirt all the way back to the resort.

Another successful day, doing it our way!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Disney 2012 Post 2: A talking potato and a plummeting elevator

Sunday morning burst forth with sunshine and it was time to hit the parks. We gnoshed on the breakfast items we had packed, threw all our stuff in our suitcases, and sent them with Bell Services to be transferred over to our home for the rest of the week, Bay Lake Tower.

Then it was off to the dock to catch a ferry ride to Hollywood Studios! I love this park!! Now, our plan/goal for this trip was to take it easy, do our favorites, and some new things, but also to be sure to have some 'chill' time every afternoon. There is a lot to do at Hollywood Studios...and we just did not get it all done! But we tried some new stuff and had a great time!

Toy Story Midway Mania is the most popular ride at HS in the sense that it's line is always the longest, and the fastpasses usually run out by about 1p.m. Travel tip: when you go to HS, be there at opening, and send someone in your party ahead with all the park tickets to get fastpasses for Toy Story. I had Matt do this, and we caught up with him there. Our fastpasses were for 10:30-11:30, but it was about 9:05 a.m. and the line hadn't really formed yet, so we went ahead and hopped on for our first spin.

The line area in this ride is so fun. 

"What? You've never seen a talking potato before?"

Giant tinker toys and lincoln logs 

If you have the TSMM Wii Game, this ride is pretty much like riding right through it. It's a fun ride for all ages, hence the popularity. While I wouldn't say it's the BEST ride at this park (I'd say that is Rockin Roller Coaster), it's the most popular because it's fun and for everyone!

After our first spin on Toy Story, we went over and caught the Voyage of the Little Mermaid show. We had not been to it before, and it was cute. The girls liked it. I tried to get some pics but they weren't fabulous. Part of the show they had these brightly colored sea puppets that were illuminated with black light. The people running them were all in black, so all you could see were the fish 'floating' around, etc. It was cool.

We hit the Great Movie Ride (which isn't bad but the girls don't like it), then went back to Toy Story to use our FPs.

I don't know how I failed to get pictures at Tower of Terror. We had spent months measuring Hannah to see if she would be tall enough for the 40" rides. Well, she made it! We had also bought the cheesey movie "Tower of Terror" so the girls could learn the story of the ride and not be so scared. I gotta say, Brooke is pretty much just a chicken no matter how much you prep her, but I'll give her kudos for trying it once.

We went on Tower of Terror, all four of us. And it was the BEST drop sequence Matt and I have ever been on! Perhaps a little too good for the girls' first experience?! I didn't buy the photo but in it Brooke and I are looking over at Matt and Hannah, and they are looking over at us. It was pretty classic. Brooke had an "oh shit" look on her face and Hannah had one of shock.

We got off that ride and Hannah said "I want to ride it again!!" Brooke said no, but it was about time for us to use our Fastpasses for Rockin Roller Coaster. So Matt and Hannah went and rode Tower of Terror AGAIN while Brooke and I went to Rockin Roller Coaster.


SO So SO fun. Brooke didn't mind it but was not thrilled and wouldn't go again. :) Go figure. Maybe in a few years she'll be a thrill junkie.

Matt went to take his turn on the coaster, and the girls and I sat down to have a popsicle and cool off a bit. It was getting toasty pretty fast!

After this, we had hit most of our 'must do's' for this day, and were hot and hungry. We decided to take a bus over to Bay Lake Tower to see if our room was ready. The long travel day from the day before still had us kinda tired. We got to our home away from home, and God Bless America-our room WAS ready. We hit the Contempo Cafe for a yummy lunch before we went up to the room.

Since we were on the Disney Dining plan, all of our 'fast food meals' included a dessert. The Contempo has some AMAZING desserts. I got a dulce de Leche cupcake that day....and let me tell you, it was the BEST cupcake I have EVER EATEN. And that's saying a lot, because I make some good stuff! :) And then they didn't have it the rest of the week. Seriously that cupcake may have been the highlight of my day, it was so fabulous.

After some rest, and maybe a little swim (can't remember), we changed our clothes and headed off to the Grand Floridian for dinner.

Here is Hannah's attitude about that time. She was tired and she needed some food.

Funny how she chippered right up when her favorite Princess came to see us!  

The step-sisters were hysterical. 

After dinner it was off to the Magic Kingdom. Of course, this is our favorite park. It was a gorgeous evening and it wasn't too crowded. First week of May is a great time to go to Disney.

I love taking pictures of the girls walking in front of me. I always do it at the pumpkin patch too.

What is it about a Carousel that is so magical?! It makes everyone smile!

But not as much as the TEACUPS!!!! The girls and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the teacups. I love to spin them a lot!

All four of us squeezed into one teacup on the first go round. Mistake! There was NOWHERE for our legs to go! I think my feet were sitting on Matts. Funny.

We then went over to check out the new Dumbo ride! They are expanding Fantasyland (a lot), and making Dumbo into a double carousel ride, which  is good becuase there is always a line for Dumbo. It looks so pretty at night, and love that it is over water now.

After Dumbo, we decided to catch the train at the new Fantasyland train station back to the main gate. While we were waiting, I had one of those "What would you do" moments. You know that TV show? You should watch it, it's on Fridays. Anyways, we were standing behind this couple that had about a 3 year old boy in a stroller. The Train Cast Member came down the row talking to people and told the couple "You'll need to get him out of the stroller and get it folded up before the train gets here, because we can't have strollers out on the platform". She was very nice, just giving them a heads up so they could get their crap together, you know? Well the mom goes "I am NOT getting him out of that stroller now" and the worker said "Well, you do need to please before the train arrives at the station." The mommy got really pissy and said "Well, then YOU can hold him while he's screaming!" The girl just said "sorry" and walked back down the way. The mom then went on a tirade to her husband as they were gathering their stuff and their son "Did you hear how she talked to me? She told me I HAD to take him out RIGHT NOW. Why does she get to tell me what to do? I'm going to complain. That's just ridiculous. Oh that makes me so mad"..... she totally blew it out of proportion and was so very rude to the worker. I told Matt "I feel like I'm on 'what would you do' I should lean over and tell the lady that she was just explaining the procedure and policy to make boarding the train smoother for everyone".... and news flash. The train was there like 2 minutes later, and the kid didn't fuss AT ALL while they were holding him and waiting. It really was crazy. Why do people act like that?!

Anyways, one of the three things on my list of things to do this trip that we had not done before was catch the night time parade. We made it to the Main Street Station about 10 minutes before it started. I thought "oh,'s late, we're tired, whatever, we just won't do it' but Matt said "well we are right here where it starts and there's a spot up on the balcony where we can watch it!" The girls were not falling apart yet, so we decided to go ahead and watch it. The pictures were only so-so because i don't have a very fancy camera and the balcony rail was kind of in the way. But I'm glad we stayed, we loved it! Everything is more magical when it's lit up with lights! And one thing was officially checked off of my 'must do' list!

The Dwarfs loot 

As soon as the last float came by, we snuck down the stairs and got out of the park before the crowd. I imagine most people stuck around for fireworks, but we knew we'd catch those another night. It was a nice walk from Magic Kingdom to our hotel, and we crashed quickly!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Disney 2012 Post 1; aka the Cricket Exterminator has arrived

I know, I've been a bad, bad blogger. First, I was getting ready for vacation. Then I was ON vacation. Then I suffered a week-long Post-Vaca plague that involved antibiotics, steroids, and misery.

But I've called the 'cricket exterminator' and here I am, back and ready to blog.

(or so I say!).

It's time to start the 2012 Disney Vacation Recap!

I know, how much joy can the human body stand, right? I promise, it'll be a rip-roarin...well, at least detailed and fun, good time.

It's been so long since I've blogged, the format of blogger has changed and I have no idea what I'm doing! Bear with me. started on a Friday afternoon. April 27th to be exact. We busted the kids out of school a little early, loaded in our rental van, and took off to Kansas City. We were set to have a 'fun vacation in Kansas City' as far as the girls knew. It was going to involve a night in a 'little hotel' (ie, the airport Holiday Inn), Great Wolf Lodge (ie fabulous Disney resorts), a trip to some mueseums (parks) including an aviation museum (the airport). Yep, this was the tale we spun for the girls for months on end. So we drove to KC. Ate box lunches from McAllisters. Romped around in our hotel rooms, and put the kids to bed early.

At 5:30 on Saturday morning, we gave them a book I wrote, and asked Brooke to read it to Hannah. Here is a link to that video. You must watch. It really is cute.

After the big surprise, we loaded up in the airport shuttle, and were off to wait for our flight.

Looking a little tired, perhaps a little nervous (always, before a flight), and still in shock.

Hannah checking out our plane. She was pumped.

We had a nonstop flight (AWESOME). When we arrived, our room was not ready yet (typically ready at 3 or 4p.m.). I had prepared for this by packing a swim bag in one of our carryons. So we changed into our suits and flipflops, bell-checked all our other stuff, and were off. By 12:45 we were eating burgers next to the pool. Hello, vacation!

We had flown in a day earlier than originally planned so we could spend one night at Disney's Beach Club resort. It's a Disney Vacation club property and we used our points for this part of the stay too.

It was WONDERFUL I have to say. It even smelled good.

This may be Hannah's version of heaven. A POOL with a beach/sand bottom. It was WONDERFUL. We hung out for HOURS. They had a huge slide that Brooke went on a ton. They had a little slide that Hannah went on a ton. They had a lazy river.

Did I mention they had a sand bottom pool? Did I mention it was HEAVEN?

When I was not taking these pictures, I had the camera stowed in a free locker with a few of our other things. And when I didn't have the camera in my hands, I was laying right there in that sandy shallow water with the kids. I was a happy mommy. Hallelujiah.

We got a text that our room was ready just about the time we were ready to get out of the sun for awhile. We headed off to our villa, but stopped to snap a pic with Ariel first. I think I had to threaten Hannah that if she did not LOOK AT THE CAMERA that I would eat her cookie that night at dinner. I'm all about motivation.

I believe I failed to take a picture of our room. It was a studio. And comfy. With a little balcony.
We vegged a little while (it'd been a long day already), and then hopped on a bus to go to Downtown Disney for dinner.

We had to have our first stop at Wolfgang Puck Express.

I had some Creme Brulee to eat, you know?  

We didn't hang out at DTD that night, we just ate and went back to the hotel. With the awesome pool area, we had to go swimming again before bed!

Vacation was off to a GREAT start.