October 29, 2014

Top Disney Tips.

I am by no means an expert on all things Disney.  Since we were just there, I thought I would write up some notes for the next time.  IF we ever get the opportunity again.

1.  Plan ahead.
You need to decide first, what kind of vacation you want.  Do you really want to do it up and stay in a resort (trust me, just as magical as the theme parks but just as expensive)?  Do you want to be more budget minded and stay off site?  There are advantages to both.  If you stay in a Disney resort, you get those perks like extra magic hours, and no parking--you just hop on a monorail.  If you stay off-site, you can save a lot of money in food and personal items.

Inside the Grand Floridian lobby.  Awesome finger in the photo.
This was a work trip so we didn't pay for it--we just enjoyed it.
I wish we had taken more pictures of the inside!
Disney really does a wonderful job.
On the balcony of our room.  Can you tell I don't feel well?
I was pregnant with Nathan and very very sick.
2. Buy ahead.
Well, we didn't really do this.  BUT if we had ....we could have saved some money.  There are quite a few discount ticket sites that offer a few dollars off a person, especially if you are wanting to do a 3 or 4 day pass.

One reputable site is:

3.  MyDisney app.
If you have an iphone (my BIL couldn't seem to find it for his android phone--but still, look, you never know), you can install the MyDisney app.  Super awesome!  It tells you wait times for rides and you can sort by area, which ones are closest to you, etc.  You also can use this app to make reservations for dinner, plan your Fast Passes, and so on.
My Disney app from my phone.
Check out the wait times!
4.  Fast Pass It!
The Fast Pass is key--especially if you followed #2 and bought ahead.  You enter your ticket numbers and can schedule your Fast Passes for certain rides up to 30 days in advance.  This pays off if you really want to Fast Pass character meetings.  Just be aware--you can schedule up to 3 rides at a time HOWEVER--you either have to use them all, let them expire or cancel them all before scheduling the next three.  Our first day at Disney, we had Fast Passes scheduled for 5pm and later.  Which was all we could do.  Being more prepared for our second day, we had passes scheduled for 9 am and just kept on rolling from there.

5.  Rideshare.
Travelling with a baby?  No worries!  Disney accommodates!  There are a lot of rides that everyone can go on, even an infant.  For those when they can't, you just see the Fast Pass attendant (both parents and baby have to be together) and they will give you a Fast Pass.  One parent stands in line, with whoever is riding with them, when they are done the other parent can FastPass their way through the line with up to 3 children with them.

6.  Pack It.
If you are trying to be economical--pack it.  Soft sided coolers are allowed in the park.  So we packed water bottles, lunches, and snacks.  We opted to eat dinner in the park simply because our stroller wouldn't have held much more.  There are water fountains everywhere so refilling bottles is easy.
Jacob circa 2007 at Disney--isn't he adorbs?!
We didn't pack it that time and we learned our lesson.
I would also recommend packing gear.  Ponchos, especially if you are going off-season.  We've been to Disney in February and just now in September and the weather is fickle.  Stuffing the $2 cheapie ponchos in a diaper bag is well worth it, I promise.

Again--we came wielding one teensy umbrella.
Ponchos were a necessity.  And a fortune.
7. Have Fun.
The best thing you can do for a Disney trip is have fun!  Yes, have fun!  Go with the flow.  Don't be too focused on ALL. THE. THINGS.  Determine what is most important and do those things first.  Then, everything else will be icing on the cake.  Go into your time there realizing that there will be elements out of your control--weather, crowds, moods of your family.  Just enjoy it for what it is--spending time together--and you will come home with great family memories.


October 26, 2014

Punkin' Patchin'.

Today was an absolutely be-u-tiful day!  We took the last opportunity to hit up our local, friendly pumpkin farm for some jack-o-lanterns-to-be and soaked up some Vitamin D.  Once again. oh so many photos....so few words.  Going with the idea that a picture tells a thousand.
Caroline is getting in some Grandpa time.
Makes up for crying every time he looked at her in church.

These things were fun--new this year to the little farm we go to.
Cornhole with two little people.  Peter won.  Uh huh.
I just want to say that Pinterest isn't fair.  I mean, we go places.  We take pictures.  I can't ever get everyone to look at the camera.  How do all those Pinterest photo takers do it?  Do they train their children in special photographic abilities from day one?  I need to take a class, I guess.  On how to make everyone look at the camera always at all costs.

 Grandma went through the cornmaze with us even though she really doesn't like it.  Caroline was with her--lets just get out NOW.  Enough corn is enough corn already.  It was fun the first two seconds.  Patrick had a plan though to successfully navigate the maze--the rest of us thwarted his plan.  Maybe next year.
That is not food.
That would be decorative.
 We will pretend to look at you, Mom.  Because it is very sunny in our faces.  We are happy for a hayride, and humor you to take our picture.
 Again....sunny in faces.  No camera looking.  You should see the very next frame after this one.  Hilarious--everyone in motion.
 So we resort to the crazy.  At least we succeed at those pictures.  Now, moving right along to children with their gourd finds.

The sign may say hayride...but this is more of a pumpkin ride.  Caroline is ready to go!

Someday when we aren't so busy, I might have something really good to say.  Until then, thanks for humoring me and my photos.  :)

October 24, 2014

A John Paul II Feast Day.

We really enjoyed celebrating JPIIs Feast Day on Wednesday.  Did I ever tell you that I simultaneously wanted to name Caroline after JPII (Karol) and my mother (Carolyn)?  No?  Well, I did.  I wanted to name her Karoline.  Ken wasn't so sure.  He isn't down with alternative spellings.  And, maybe my mom would have minded.  I don't know.  We'll never find out.



We kept our feast day simple.

I had this book to share with the kids, which I couldn't find.  It is still killing me.  Because I still can't find it.  I bought it after his canonization, thinking I'd be allll prepared and stuff.  Serves me right.  For trying to be prepared.  What was I thinking????

So, because I am so lacking in preparation.... we watched this video instead:

Which is particularly awesome if your kids know all the Just Dance moves.  None of my kids would dance along.  What is really truly, awesome, is that every time we watched it I still cried.  JP is that amazing.  And Carrie would give me a hug.  BONUS!  (I'm not sure what was up with the hug thing but I'll take it).

And because food must always be involved....we had spaghetti with meat sauce for all the years he lived in Italy and Potato Keilbasa as a kickback to the Polish roots.  Really, the spaghetti was for all the kids who wouldn't eat the keilbasa.  It works.  Brownies with gummy worms for desert.
Elizabeth drew this wonderful picture for me from JPIIs holy card.  I'd say it was a great first feast day.

October 23, 2014



Fall is here...and gone?  It seems most of the trees are nearly bare of their leaves.  And though, I don't think the colors are as vibrant as last year...still beautiful to behold.

A walk in the woods with my littlest.  Very serious about which way we should go.

Some happy, healthy treats in the fruit bowl.  That lemon is giving the orange the stare-down.  Or so I'm told.  The speckled one on the far top left is Peter's.  He says it is awesome.

There is nothing like being photobombed by the dog.  And worried about being run over!  Look at her face!  I promise... no children were harmed in the taking of this photo.

This is funny...and just too adorable.  Funny chocolatey face.  Can't you just eat her up!?  Look at that curl!  I want to go squeeze her right now.

An attempted photo op with my mom.  This would have been so good ...if it wasn't just a tad fuzzy.  Ah well....

 A little engineer hard at work.  Building bridges in the bathroom sink.  Then fully testing the durability of said creation when flooded!

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October 22, 2014

Destination Destin.

After our day at Cape Canaveral, we hopped in the car and drove a mere 7 hours across the state of Florida to Destin.  As a kid, my family would often go to Panama City Beach (next door to Destin) and I had fond memories of the blue-green water and sunsets.  The bonus is that the drive time home was a little shorter than if we had chosen to go to Clearwater or another beach close to Orlando.

The first day we had on the beach was Sunday...and the water was warm and very much like a lake.

The day it was a lake was really nice.  We didn't even get the life jackets for the little ones out of the car.  Ken and the boys found lots of sand dollars.  A few fish, jellyfish, quite a few hermit crabs but no shells of any note.

This was the view from the condo we rented.  Not a far walk.  We did have to cross a street--which was only a problem once.   And alas...the onslaught of beach photos...

Carrie was hilarious--wanted to sunbathe with Nick and Liz.

Sand castle building and just enjoying each other was the order of the first day.  Which we topped off with Mass and dinner out at Bubba Gumps.

The second day the water was rougher--better for body boarding and still more castle building.  Evening found us looking for the sunset that was hidden by clouds.

The third day, our last day, gave us beach frisbee, a sea turtle sighting, and burgers on the beach for lunch.  
My only goal for the day was to catch that sunset.  And we missed it!  We went back to the condo to put on dry clothes and it took us too long to get back to the beach.  Still we had a great view of the moon rising and one pic in the glow left behind.  

Then we realized that the lunar eclipse was early the next morning!  How exciting!  We didn't get to see the whole eclipse--just the end (my timing was off because of the time difference) but it was pretty cool.

 We stuck around to watch the sky light up before heading back to pack up and ship out.  The end, finis!