Thursday, June 30, 2011

June Adventures

Here are some things I didn't want to miss this month:
  • As noted, we spend most of our free time at the pool. We all LOVE it and I'm pretty sure that's how the rest of the summer will go.
  • In the middle of our cleaning extravaganza yesterday, Jared packed his backpack to get ready for a 'campout.' He loves to pretend to go camping and usually he doesn't tell me where he goes; that day he told his destination: Florida.
  • One Sunday, I repainted mine and Annabelle's toes. After I was done with our toes, she looked at me and then put her hand in my face. She wanted her fingernails painted. I'd never painted mine in front of her and I couldn't help giggle because our little girl knew she needed her fingernails painted too.
  • Jared and Annabelle love to play together. It's hilarious. The last couple of days, Jared will call for Annabelle to come and play and she'll quip back, 'okay, I will.' So funny to hear their conversations.
  • Annabelle started to pray this month. She's been listening to Jared say prayers multiple times a day and started asking her if she wanted to. The first few times, she wouldn't talk at all. Then one night, she repeated what Greg said. It. was. adorable. She's said one or two since and it's always super cute and excited when she's done.
  • Jared had his first lesson about the power of prayer this month. While getting ready for bed, he couldn't find one of his toys he likes to sleep with. He was really distraught about it, so Greg and I mentioned we should ask Heavenly Father to help you find it. With that, he said his prayer and went to bed. The next morning, while playing upstairs, he yelled down to me "mommy I found my toy!" So I went upstairs, we celebrated and I sat him down to say a prayer to thank Heavenly Father for the help. I told him how I felt the Spirit with us; it was sweet moment to be apart of and I hope he felt it too.
  • Bellie can also count to 10... give or take a number. She does really well, if prompted, but if not she'll do the 6 to 9 numbers over and over again. The same goes with the alphabet. She can sing a lot of it, but she really likes Q through Z and will sing that section 'til the cows come home. ;)
  • Jared is fast turning into a smart little boy, but even he has moments (Jared, if you're older and reading this, I'm sorry but it was too funny not to document). One morning Jared got dressed like he normally did; I stopped supervising him because he's really good at it and super smart. We had to run out to Hobby Lobby that day and he ALWAYS has to use the restroom there (not kidding--- and he really does use it). This time, he had a difficult time getting redressed after doing his business. So, I went to help him and that's when I noticed why he had problems. He had two pair of underwear on. He forgot to take yesterday's off while getting dressed that morning. It was then he noticed, looked at me with a serious gaze and said, "Mommy I have two underwears on." We removed the extra one when we got home. Such a funny kid.
  • Both kids really really REALLY love music. They both have songs to sing and I'm starting to think we need to be on the look out for a piano on Craigslist. Some of the current hits include: Star Wars and Indiana Jones theme music, Row Your Boat, Jesus want me for a Sunbeam (classic), Army of Helaman, and the list can go on and on.
  • We took Jared to his first real theatre experience. I say his first because he was actually paying attention, not sleeping (like the other times we took him). It had nothing to do with the fact that the movie was Cars 2. We left Annabelle with some friends to have Princess Party fun and then the three of us went to see the movie. It was a fun movie and Jared was GLUED to it the WHOLE time. Impressive for a three-year-old.
We end the month today, with Mema and Deda coming to visit for the Fourth of July weekend. I've got a few more things to do before they arrive, so here's to more adventures in July and always!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where You'll Find Us

Since vacation, the weather has been nice and toasty; in the last month, we've had one day under 90. That's what happens when you live in South Texas, right? Since it's hot, we've taken up a second residence at our neighborhood pool. Over the last month, we've been there AT LEAST once a week.

Annabelle cannot get enough of the water. She's a little fish. Over Father's Day weekend, we bought her some arm floaties because the girl constantly wanted to swim by herself. They were a HUGE hit. She proved my theory of her fish-like tendencies and started kicking herself all over the place. This girl will definitely get swim lessons, especially since they're really big in South Texas. Funniest thing about her swimming is that she sings "Row Your Boat" as she's kicking around. 19 1/2 months old and already has a great sense of humor.

Since I didn't have my camera with me, I brought it the next time we went to the pool and she loved her floaties even more. With Daddy:

Video proof:

Jared started the season off as apprehensive about the pool as he was last year. He'd always wear his Buzz vest and scream if we took him away from the little steps. Then, he saw Annabelle enjoy herself and started to get more adventurous. During one of these adventures Greg and I realized that Jared was tall enough to walk around the shallow-end. Once we convinced him he could touch the bottom (and it took some bribing with cookie funds), he thought it was awesome. Here he is the same day as the Annabelle video:

After I shot the videos, Jared kept looking at Bellie's floaties. We were almost done with our outing that night when he asked if he could have his own pair. I was so excited because he's never been too fond of the water. So, later that week, we got him some and our last pool time was a huge hit with both the kids. They both practiced their swimming skills and loved going out into the deep end.

So--- if you ever need to find us during these long summer nights, check the pool first. Chances are, we'll be there.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Video: Kiddos in a Box

With Mema & Deda's visit approaching, they sent us a super-duper mattress topper to help poor Mema's back on the guest bed (a.k.a. futon). It came earlier in the week, in two large boxes; the one it shipped in and the packaging box. These boxes happened to be just the right size for two mischievous kids to play in.

She KNOWS she's cute!

See, I told you!
Where did Jared go?
There he is!
Our two crazy, cute, awesome, hilarious kids!

Here's the video (watch out it's a long one):

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day Weekend 2011

We had a great past weekend, but I, to show the doofus that I am, forgot to take pictures. Whoops.

It all started Friday night, when we volunteered to chaperone at a Youth Conference dance. With Greg's calling in the Young Men's presidency, this should be the first of many chaperone experiences. We arrived a little late (only 10 minutes) to help out with dinner, only to find out that dinner was pretty much done. They told us to come back for the dance at 830; it was 510. We did what anyone else would do, we went on an impromptu date to dinner and a movie, Green Lantern. Greg and I both enjoyed the movie; He's Greg's favorite superhero and he enjoyed the movie, so take that critics!

We came back to the dance just as it started. Greg and I come from two different Youth dancing experiences. Greg can count on ONE hand how many dances he went to; I don't remember how many I went to and they were always so fun! It was really different to be there as a leader. It was fun to see how some things didn't change, the crazy way to enthusiastic youth leader, the 5'9" girl dancing with the 4'9" guy, the mass boy exodus to the food whenever a slow song came on, the group of girls in the back always dancing even if there wasn't a boy around. To see the awkwardness of youth as a bystander was really amusing. It also made me really glad to be out of that stage and where I'm at. A couple nice surprises of the night were running into SOTW cast and crew members and getting Greg to slow dance with me for the FIRST time SINCE our WEDDING! VICTORY!

Saturday was a pretty typical Saturday, things around the house, errands to run until we went to Birthday Party for our friend Nick in New Braunfels. He and his family moved out of our neighborhood almost a year ago; it ended up being the ol' neighborhood gang back together again. This is really when I kicked myself for not having a camera. They live in a complex right next to the river, so we were able to rope swing, tube and skip rocks into the river. Greg did a pretty good swing into the river, while I did a little something that was meant for America's Funniest Home Videos (go figure). Annabellie took the river really well; she went out on a 'tube date' with Caleb and Parker. The river group then spent some time in a bank across the river skipping rock and stepping on wasps (GREG!).

Jared wouldn't go anywhere near the river, at first. He didn't trust it at all, so he and I, along with some other non-river swimmers, went up to the pool. He was having a grand ol' time doing what he normally does in the pool, until he saw Bellie and Daddy across the river and realized what he missed. Until they came back, he asked me every few seconds if he could go in the river now. I wasn't about to wade with a non-life-vested three-year-old across the river all by myself; just kept asking and tried to escape a few times. At one point, I even threw him back in the pool, with adults close by, of course. Tough lesson, but I think he might try the river next time. After swimming fun, we had dinner and dessert and then had to make the trek back home. We had a great time and I'm super bummed I didn't get pictures!

Sunday was DADDY's DAY! The kiddos gave him hugs and kisses and said their cute Father's Day wishes. Then, Jared sang a couple Daddy songs they had been learning in Nursery--- so cute! At church, they were all given cookies (seriously!--- Memo for Mom's Day) and Jared kept saying "happy father's day Daddy." We spent the rest of the day relaxing and we worked together to make some yummy Chili Lime Steak with Mango Pico de Gallo. After the kids went to bed, we ended the evening with a little bit of Raiders of the Lost Ark, only to find the man o the day fall asleep half-way through because he's so tired. I'm so grateful for Greg and the things that make him an incredible Daddy and husband. One of the highlights of my day is when Greg comes home, not just because he's home but, because Jared and Belle cannot wait to get downstairs to say hi to him. They literally shake with excitement when they hear the garage door because that means Daddy's home! They get to play, laugh, wrestle, read, fly and be more loved. I'm grateful to be the Mommy to his Daddy.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Master Makeover: Part One

Back when I was in the middle of SOTW, we finally decided what colors to paint our room. We bought the paint thinking we'd have time in between rehearsals to actually do some painting. This past weekend, we finally got to it. Saturday was the room itself and Sunday was the bathroom.

Luckily, we were able to get most of it done while the kiddos were sleeping; once they woke up, we played tag-team. One on parental play duty while the other painted our room. The bathroom took longer than expected because of ALL the extra trim and shelves to tape and paint around. We finished the whole suite around 1130 Sunday night/Monday morning. It felt so good. We LOVE it. It's only the first step in a series to get our room to the serene zen-like atmosphere we want, but it's nice to have the colors done and it definitely helps the feel of the room. It's big time motivation to save for the rest of the bedroom makeover. One day... one day...

Jared helped us prep the room before nap time. He went upstairs to get his tools so he could help take the blinds down.

The room in all it's prepped glory.

Our helpers keeping a lookout for 'pirates.'

I think Jared found someone...


The finished product.

The bathroom suite.... going in...

Bathroom... coming out...
Seriously excited to see it come together... as it comes together, so will the updates. :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

MM Day 7: Downtown Disney & Home

Since our flights didn't leave until early evening we still had half a day to spend together. We had a half-day to make EVEN MORE memories for me to blog about... it's like the vacation that never ends... in a very good way...

Turtle-hunting & Downtown Disney
After seeing how much Annabelle LOVED the Nemo ride and Crush exhibit at Epcot, we decided at Hollywood Studios that one of her big soveniors could be a stuffed Crush... too bad HS was the only WDW park to NOT sell Nemo merchandise. So, we spent the morning hunting. First, we tried the discount outlet store; it was almost as cool as Meg's store. Almost. Then, we decided to enter the resort one more time and go to the largest World of Disney store in the world at Downtown Disney. As we entered DD, we walked past the Lego store and they had these Larger-than-life Lego sculptures set up around the store. A scene from Toy Story & Sleeping Beauty, a family of vacationers and a Sea Serpent; all made from Legos. It was impressive.

Even more impressive was the World of Disney store. I'm seriously not kidding; this. store. is. HUGE. I almost cried when I walk in, either cause I was overwhelmed or excited; I'm still not sure. If I was a little dog, I would have peed all over the floor. Anything you could imagine related to Disney is in that store. After we found what we were looking for, plus a couple last minute things, we said our first byes to Megbo (I have the world's COOLEST sister) and were off to the airport.

Airport Fun
Going through the airport this time around was a breeze, mostly because we had three other people to help carry our crazy load. We had purposefully scheduled our flights to have close departing times, so once we got through security we all parked in the comfy chairs and enjoyed a little bit more time together. Jared played with Z & Oba while Bellie cuddled with Jiji and the V-reader.

As always, when the time came, it was hard to part ways and I finally figured out why. Since my folks live in Seattle it's really hard for either of us to visit each other. It's a long, hard day of traveling, it's ridiculously expensive, and it's hard for either side to get vacation time. So, our visits with them are now once a year. Twice, if we're lucky. I loved my parents before, but since I've become a parent myself, I understand and appreciate even more what they did with the four of us. The last time we sawt them before this vacation was when Park left for his mission; skype has made it easier, but I look forward to a day (crosses fingers) when the distance is shortened. Back to the story...

Once we said goodbye, the kiddos requested a movie and Beauty & the Beast was the pick. Jared sat transfixed, besides when we picked up dinner, until it was time to board, which ended up being 45 minutes longer because we were delayed. And once portable devices were permitted, he watched the rest of the movie and started another one. Gweg was again on Bellie duty and she was better than our flight out. Yay for the simple joy of having a nice flight.

Back in Texas & Memories Made
Once the plane started the descent, Jared got excited, yelling 'back in Texas, yay Texas, etc.' I guess he was ready to be home. He definitely showed it on the way home when he had a breakdown in the car. It took a while for us to adjust back after having the trip of a lifetime. The kiddos still love to sing all the Disney songs they learned. Any time a Disney movie starts now they shout 'Disneyworld!' They even recognize the Disneyworld commercials; Jared has told me numerous times he wants to back.

It was so magical. Yes, there were lines. Yes, there were arguments. Yes, it was definitely HOT. But, it was fun, silly, and brought out the kid in all of us. We were able to let go of EVERYTHING that recently happened and heal much faster. I did have a couple hard days right after we got back because I finally had to face what happened before we left, but that was the ONLY negative. We, obviously, came back with new adventures and stories to tell. We loved it so much that we're already talking about next time... we'll see when that happens but we do know it will happen.

Friday, June 10, 2011

MM Day 6: Hollywood Studios

Monday was our last day at the parks and we saved it for Hollywood Studios. This park gets the 'most thrills in one park' award. We also didn't get to everything in the park (you think a day per park is enough---- no way!) Another thrill waited around every corner and here's why:

Since we enjoyed a day of rest before our HS day, we actually got up in time to arrive when the park opened. We just had to go pick up Meg at her apartment and head over to the park, nothing we hadn't done before that week. Except Jared wanted to bring his new lightsaber in the car. We figured it would be okay since he'd be in a car full of adults to keep an eye on hit; the problem came when the adults sitting next to him haven't become parents yet, so they haven't developed the 'sixth sense' of 'knowing' when someone is about to do something naughty.

While driving from Meg's apartment to the park, Jared decided the best place for his lightsaber would be down his throat. Since he inherited Greg's gag reflux, he prompting puked all over his front. So instead of making the turn to Hollywood, we went for the condo. Jared & his seat got a quick hose down and luckily we had done laundry the night before so he could have new clothes. He was a little bummed about not wearing his Star Wars shirt. Well, next time don't put your lightsaber down your throat.

May the Force be with You

Both Star Tours rides at WDW and DL have been closed for an overhaul. The one at WDW reopened the weekend we were there. We actually wanted to go during the weekend because Jared is already developing a love of Star Wars (not too hard when it's one of his Mommy's and Daddy's all-time favorite movies) and he was so excited to see the characters they place all around the park. Unfortunately, the Star Wars Weekend dates were blacked out for Meg to get us in, so we had to move Hollywood Studios to Monday; specifically to go on the new Star Tours.

Greg, Z & I went on it first. It. was. awesome. It's less jerky, in 3D, and the locations vary with each ride. While waiting in line, you see walk under an AT-AT, go through space security, and Artoo and C3PO. We went to Kashyyk (the Wookie planet) and Coruscant; Meg, Oba & Jiji went to Hoth & Naboo.

Muppet Vision
While we were taking turns on Star Tours, the counterparts took the kiddos to see Muppet Vision 3D. Jared thought the whole thing was hilarious; he'd try to get the 3D images and even pointed to all of the 'live' puppets. Annabelle played the same tricks she was up to during Pirates the day before. She sat still when Sweetums came out, but that was about it. ;)

Indiana Jones & His Stunt Show
Another fun highlight of the day was the Indiana Jones' stunt show. It used some of the stunt sequences of Raiders to show how they're actually pulled off. Z was really bummed when he wasn't picked to be in it. Jared got really nervous each time they did a stunt, but then said 'whoa' when it was done. One of Jared's favorite songs to hum now is the Indiana Jones' theme.

Beauty Tower Rocks!
We did a boys/girls rider split for the first time on Tower of Terror; so while the boys went to the ride, we took the kiddos to see the Beauty & the Beast show. They were mesmerized the WHOLE time. The only time Jared even said anything was when he saw the characters for the first time and when Gaston stabbed Beast, he asked if the Beast would be okay. Bellie's funny moment came when she finally recognized Princess Belle at the end, when she changed into her yellow dress. :)

After the boys came back, Meg and I went on the Tower together. We had a great time and I totally understand now why that Tower is better than the California one. I ended up getting the corner seat and it did not help for trying to a get a grip before the fall.

We finally got the hang of using Fast Passes and Rider Swaps to work together (better late than never), so we were able to all go on the Aerosmith's coaster twice. The first time, Meg, Greg and I went together since he had to take her to work soon thereafter. Oba & Jjii went while Z & I took the kiddos to watch the Pixar Parade (we barely missed McQueen) which they were both able to recognize every character and get excited (I think, maybe, we watch the Pixar movies in our house...)

Toy Story Mania

Before they left to take Meg to work, we were able to use our Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania. It's the most popular ride at HS; late in the day the wait can be 2+ hours, so we knew Fast Passes were a must! It's so much fun! First off, the ride attendants' badge said she was a BYU-I student, so we were able to talk to her for a bit about school.

Jared specifically wanted to ride with me, so we had some fun. The gun was just a step above for him to operate; you needed to be able to aim the gun with one hand and pull the shooter with the other and he wasn't strong enough to do both. Plus, he was SO excited to see all of the Toy Story characters. Basically, I spent the whole ride trying to aim for both of us and shoot for me. I can't wait to take that game on again!

Woody & Buzz

Across from the entrance to Toy Story Mania in an air-conditioned meet-n-greet with Woody & Buzz. Jared saw this before we even went on the ride and got really excited. He kept telling me "Mommy, I want to go in there to meet Woody & Buzz." So, while we waiting for Greg to come back after taking Meg to work, we went to stand in line. Besides the princesses, it was the only character line we stood in all week. Here's what happened when we met the adventurous duo:

Studio Backlot & Running into Mike... literally
When Greg got back, we decided to take the Studio Backlot tour which was cool until we realized it replaced the last showing of the Cars stunt show... whoops... we already have a To-Do list for next time we go. After we finished the tour, it dumped us out through two gift shops, the second one being right next to a Monsters, Inc. door. As we were waiting there, Mike came out to say hi. Since the line was super-short, we decided to wait and meet the little green eyeball:

Pizza Planet, More Force & Princess Time

For dinner we continued the Toy Story trend and took Jared to Pizza Planet. He was in little boy heaven; we were lucky we ate even a little bit of dinner. Everyone took a turn at playing some games. Jiji, Gweg, Z and the kiddos were pretty occupied with the games, so Oba & I slipped away for some girl time at where else... Star Tours. We rode it again because it changes with each ride. This time we went to Tattooine and Naboo. And again, it. was. awesome. Once the boys finished playing games, they decided to follow that up by going to The Little Mermaid show. I'm pretty sure that's the definition of awesome guys, when they'll go sit through girly show for the kiddos. Apparently, it was pretty cool and everyone LOVED it.

Stroller Pass Out & Replacing Fantasmic
After a fun-filled week of Disney, 730 hit and this is what happened:

The kiddos passed out on their own; one minute awake and ready to move to another ride and the next minute they are both GONE. Since the kiddos were asleep, we decided to take advantage of early seating for the fireworks show, Fantasmic. The only problem was we had to park the stroller. Uh oh. They literally had just fallen asleep, so we made the decision to skip the show, add it to the growing list of 'To-Dos' for the next time, and re-do Tower of Terror and Rockin' Roller Coaster.

It ended up being a BLAST! For both ride Gweg and I we ended up with front-row seats. For Tower it was ridiculously cool and scary all at the same time. Cool because it was the front, we were able to see everything during the ride part; scary because we could see down (when eyes were open) during the drop. Seriously, so fun. Rockin' was fun because we were able to see the track more than anyone could in the dark setting. Plus, we made ridiculously goofy faces before the launch. And, I think we were able to cheer up the ride attendant who was pulling a double :p.

After we swapped, it was closing time and we were all excited to get some rest but really sad our awesome vacation went so fast.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

MM Day 5: Day of Rest

*Pictures from this day and other travel days will be with the last day post*

We took the next day to rest, explore the 'cast member' side of WDW, and take our first trip to Downtown Disney.

Slow Morning & Golden Lunch
I guess the full three days before finally caught up to everyone because the whole condo took it slow. We ended up relaxing, reading, playing and waiting for Meggie to wake up after her crazy late shift.

After she woke up, she picked her up and went to Golden Corral for lunch. I only where we ate because Annabelle was apparently still really tired and fell asleep on the way there and then spent most of lunch time napping on Jiji's shoulder. It was really cute. She woke up just in time to have a little bit of lunch herself.

Cast Connection
After lunch, Meg took us behind the scenes to a cast member store called Cast Connection. We were able to get most of our souvenirs there for deep discount. It was pretty cool to go places most guests don't go on a Disney Vacation. Jared even somehow conned his Aunt Meggie into getting him a lightsaber for 25 cents.

A Pirate's Life for us...well most of us...

We then had to drop Meg off for work, and had a half day to spare. So, why not use it to explore Downtown Disney? We actually didn't explore too much because we decided to go see the new Pirates movie--- with the kids! Jared was a great movie goer; he sat in his seat, ate his popcorn and whispered, until the trailers came on. Then he'd say "Mommy look a "fill in the blank" movie. He was really excited; which gives me hope for taking him to Cars 2 later this month. When the movie started, he got all excited about it being a pirate movie then... he fell asleep. He laid down and napped the whole movie. Annabelle was a different story.

Being the fun age of 'new toddler' she is always on the move. It makes pretty much anything difficult, especially sitting still. For the first few minutes, she'd try to sit in mine, Jiji's or Obas lap, then she'd get bored and try to escape. Finally, Oba the Saint took her out to walk around the theatre. I felt so bad like I should be the one walking the halls; I mentioned this to Greg and he reminded me that Oba & Jiji could go on a date to see it again way easier than we could. True. Oba did try to bring Bellie back in, but yet again, she wouldn't sit still. After the movie, I started apologizing to my Mom and she told me the same thing Greg said. Okay... maybe I shouldn't feel too bad... but for future reference: Belle doesn't do movie theatres.

We ended our relax day with the condo pool, pizza and more movies. The day definitely helped us recharge for Hollywood Studios...

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

MM Day 4: Animal Kingdom

Saturday was Animal Kingdom day. This park gets the award for being the 'physically largest park on resort but fastest to finish.' We were able to get most of the park done and still have a little bit of relaxation time before we passed out at the condo. Here's what made Animal Kingdom memorable:

Cranky line attendant
Our gate attendant wasn't the nicest. To be fair, she does deal with A LOT of people in a day. However, my pass wasn't working (we didn't realize until later that your fingerprint is matched with your pass and we had all been using them---whoops). She asked to see my ID, even though my name wasn't with my pass, and then she had a change of heart and let me in. I felt bad that she was cranky already in the day but we were worried for a bit because I left my ID at the condo.

Kilimanjaro Line
The hottest line ever had to be this line. It was the only line we were able to bring the stroller in, so it was also the most difficult to get through. We also had a few girls behind us verbally complaining about the size of our stroller and then complementing it (really, you're at Disneyworld, there are strollers everywhere). We had just barely got to the park and we were already snacking and the kids were already using their spray fans. But it was worth it to see...

The Kilimanjaro Animals
The 'safari' was really impressive; it's like what the Jungle Cruise would be if it had real animals. Our driver was pretty fun which made it all the more fun. Jared, being the animal enthusiast that he is, was excited to see so many animals. He really liked the crocodiles, Hippos, elephants, rhinos, and giraffes. The rhinos got pretty close to car and Jared called him BIG. He and Bellie also spotted the giraffes first walking around; they both got excited and pointed them out. If we thought about it, it would have been a good idea to do it again later in the day, but we were all so tired.

Humid with a capital H
Even though Epcot was hot, Animal Kingdom felt way more HUMID. I honestly don't know how people vacation down there in the summer. More crowds, more hot.... I shudder to think about it. Definitely wouldn't mind going back during the 'more-off' season. Anywho, the best way we tried to beat the heat was to get a frozen treat each day. AK was frozen lemonade. What was Jared's reaction to the paper straw (to 'protect' the animals). Jared kept telling us it was broken and exclaiming 'oh no.' We had to convince him it was okay or at least try to get him to drink it out of his cup.

Tough to be a Bug
Another fun stop was the "It's Tough to Be a Bug" show underneath the Tree of Life. Flik shows us a bunch of different bugs from the bug world and Jared thought it was hilarious. He wasn't even scared during the 'scary' parts; he actually shouted 'mommy look spiders, whoa!' and 'it's a really big 'glasshopper' (for Hopper when he comes out)'. Apparently he's got more backbone then his Mommy (but that's a story for the Dinosaur ride).

Bats, Tigers & MORE Tigers
On the Maharajah Jungle Trek, it's just like a zoo loop. Jared was really looking forward to the giant fruit bats. Jared's reaction said it all, he gasped and said "wow, really really big bats.' They were seriously HUGE bats; like nightmare-size bats if they weren't vegetarians. One of the great parts about it was the fact that it was open. It made it that much cooler seeing them up close.

After the bats, there was a seriously impressive tiger encounter. When you first walk into the encounter there is only one tiger visible; it's pretty cool, but it seems like any other zoo tiger exhibit. As you walk down the path, you suddenly realize that the tiger exhibit keeps going. For example, we thought the tigers were done, so Jared started running ahead to the next animal. We turned the corner and there behind the glass were TWO tigers sleeping less than 20 feet away. Jared was so impressed by their size; he wouldn't stop saying, "look TIGERS... MORE tigers... WOW!' The last one we saw was taking a dip. All in all, they have six tigers and each morning the tigers have a choice out of three habitats to spend the day it.

Expedition Everest

Unlike Test Track from the day before, this ride didn't disappoint (although the Yeti didn't swipe at us). It was lots of fun; Greg, Meg, Z, and I had lots of fun. The best part about Disney rides is how they make stories out of them; Everest is true to form as our trip up to base camp goes awry. It's definitely a multiple-rider.

Boneyard Dig
Since the kiddos did some waiting for us, we decided to let them have some fun in this huge play area. It's basically set up as a Dinosaur Dig which, of course, Jared loved. Greg followed him on the more adventurous areas while Bellie found some slides just her size (and yes, I made her shirt--- it matches Jared's pants):

Dinosaur Ride
After eating dinner at Restauarantosaurus and almost losing a bag (whew--- good thing Disney staff is effient at picking up after tables), we tackled the Dinosaur ride in rider switch-a-roo groups. All I have to say is: ridiculous. I knew about this ride and knew there would be surprises around corners, so I purposefully sat in the middle. I didn't want to look like too big of a sissy; well, that was impossible on this ride. First off, it's dark and lit by black lights, so you really have no idea what's going on. Then, around each corner you meet another Dinosaur and every time the dinosaur is a carnivore it jumps out at the car. Even though I was in the middle, it freaked me out. And the last time a dinosaur jumps out, he jumps from above and gets closest to the middle passengers. Yep, I cowered; I cowered like a little girl. I will always maintain it was that scary; fun, but scary. Now that I've been on it, I think would handle it better the next time. Greg, Meg, and Z left the ride laughing at me and I had to defend me reaction. Oh well...

Poop Accident
While we waited for Oba & Jiji to take their turn on the Acid-fueled Dinosaur ride, Meg and I decided to take Jared and Bellie on the Triceratops Spin (basically Dumbo but dinosaurs). We're about half way through the line when Jared turns to me and whispers 'Mommy, I have to poop.' Oh no. After asking him if he's sure, we rush out of the line and try to run back to Gweg until I realize we're running away from the bathrooms.

So, I turn around while Meg drops Bellie off with Greg and gets me the emergency supplies. Jared and I rush in the bathroom, pick a stall, I bend over to put him on the pot when he lets it go. AH! Just a minute too early! Luckily, it was easy to clean, so we spent the next little while cleaning him up and making sure he didn't have more. Looking back, I think this helped him turn a corner because he hasn't had any 'poop' accidents since... here's hoping.

If you're wondering, we did go back to the ride because I wanted to show him I was proud of him for almost making it to the bathroom. I know that sounds weird, but it took us like 5+ minutes to get to the bathroom, if we would have gotten there sooner, this would be a much different story.

Private Pool Party
We left the park earlier than closing time one, to get Megbo to work and two, we were all exhausted from three straight days of park. We spent the extra time playing in our condo pool, watching Disney movies, and passing out on the couch. It was a good thing we had a rest day planned next.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

MM Day 3: Epcot

Epcot was next. It was fun, but definitely gets the 'hottest day of vacation because of ALL the open area and concrete', 'the weirdest ride' and the 'still missed a bunch of the park' awards. There's lots off the top of my head which we didn't get to (Spaceship Earth, Mission Space, the triangle building) AND we still hadn't figured out how to use the Rider's Swap and Fast Pass to work together. I guess we'll have to go back... ;)

Nemo & Friends
After getting fast passes for some of the big rides, we started the rides off by going to Nemo. Finding Nemo is one of the kiddos' favorites and it was super cute to listen to them exclaim the characters' names. They LOVED the ride and we spent most of the morning in the Nemo & Friends pavilion.

Turtle Talk

One of the highlights of the pavilion was Turtle Talk with Crush. While you wait for Crush, they have a couple tanks of sting rays and Annabelle was mesmorized by them. She would have stared at them all day... which is her timeline like 30 minutes. Neither of our kiddos wanted to go sit in front with the bigger kiddos, but they were SO excited to see Crush. Jared thought it was hilarious when he talked and did 'fin.' He even told me that Crush was silly and funny.

Shark Excitement & Dolphin Spook
As part of the Nemo & Friends, there is a MASSIVE aquarium FULL of sea creatures. Jared a blast pointing out different animals and telling us. He just wouldn't stop when we were in the exhibit. His favorites seemed to be the sharks and dolphins. "Mommy, mommy, sharks wow!" is what I heard a lot. When he stood by the dolphin part of the tank, he went up to the glass when the dolphin was swimming on the other side. Jared couldn't see the dolphin and didn't know it was swimming in a circle and would pass right over him any minute. When it did, it freaked him out. Only enough to startle him, he looked at us all, giggled and then went right back staring into the tank. Annabelle was just so excited that Jared was excited that she kept giggling and yelling 'fishy.' Too cute. I think our kids like aquariums.

Test Track
After Nemo, we went back to use our Test Track passes. It was a pretty fun ride, except it ended way too soon. It felt like it needed just a little bit longer. We did girls and boys ride, so it was fun to ride with my Mom and sister. To keep cool while they waited the kiddos played with their new water bottle fans. Oba went to get one at the part, but it was 18 dollars, so we waited the next morning at our local grocery store and got two for the same price. Belle and Jared ended up having a squirt bottle war. The video starts just after the giggles stopped, really bummed about that, but you can see how much fun they had with it. The noise every few seconds is the Test Track car going by:

Jared the Bug Buffet

When Jared passed out the night before at MK, it took us a while to think to put a blanket on him. Before we did, the mosquitoes must have gotten to him because he woke up the next morning with 20+ bites all over his body. They didn't seem to bother him until he got hot from being outside in the morning. So, while crossing over from Future World to World Showcase, we had to make a stop at the First Aid center. They gave us a few packets of topical benadryl and we gave him time to rest. I felt so bad for my little boy, especially because I knew that I passed 'Bugs love blood;' I always came home from Girls Camp with 60+ bites. I knew how he felt, and I knew I really couldn't do anything about it. So we went to the first indoor thing we could find: Mexico.

Mexico Stickers
Mexico had a nice cool ride featuring Donald and the other two Caballeros, so it was a great place for Jared to cool down and keep his mind of the bug bites. The best part of the ride was the attendant at the beginning. She must have seen how wore the kids looked all ready and she gave Jared and Belle, both, a huge stack of Mickey stickers. Belle proceeded to place them all over her body. Then, she'd point at them and say Mickey! It was hilarious.

Norway needs an Update

The other showcase with a ride was Norway and oh man, is it in need of an update. The line was a nice time for Belle and Bug to get a nap, but sheesh, the ride! The ride itself is very psychedelic and then there's a 5 minute movie about the beauties of Norway at the end; the problem there is that it was made in the late 80s/earlier 90s. It was all very strange and I don't think we'll stop next time, unless it's been updated.

Japan, Matsuriza, & Shopping
Naturally, we stopped for dinner at the Japanese showcase. Of course it was yummy and we enjoyed a nice coi pond and a performance of Matsuriza, old school Japanese drumming. Take a look:

We then spent some time (and money) in the Japanese store getting goodies. Among the group spoils were pineapple gummies, a beautiful wall hang, a kimono, popped peas (really good---that's crazy coming from me since I HATE peas) and a grow your own Bonzai tree (we got that for our bedroom).

French Fountain & Pastries
We made our way down the World Showcase row and stopped in France to get some of their pastries ( we had a source tell us they were oh so good). While Gweg stood in line for the pastries, and the rest of the group went looking for Uncle Z's phone, I hung out at the fountain with the kiddos. They loved placing in the water; I had to convince Annabelle numerous times that it wasn't a pool, but only a fountain. FYI: the pastries were fantastic. A must every visit.

R2D2 Spinner
While talking to Guest Services about Z's phone, Jared noticed one of those nightlights' vender, where they sell the glowsticks and light toys. He seemed to go straight to a specific toy and then we noticed what it was: R2D2 from Star Wars. He was so excited to see Artoo, we splurged and got it for the both of them. After Jared fell asleep Belle had some fun with it:

Seeing Lightning and Mater

The week before we arrived at Disneyworld was the International Flower Festival at Epcot and all of the floral sculptures were still up. Bellie noticed Woody as soon as we entered the park and when we left World Showcase, Lightning and Mater were there to say goodbye. The way Jared and Annabelle reacted you would have thought they saw Mickey Mouse. Bellie kept yelling 'Maymer' and "Queam" while Jared kept trying to say hi to them. It was really cute and they LOVED it.

Mommy, Oba, Bellie, and Nemo
Near the end of our Epcot night, Jared passed out and most of the adults had gone on Soarin' while we waited outside for them. Oba & I were getting kind of antsy, so we decided to take Belle back over to Nemo. Since I rode with Jared the first time, it was really fun to hear her get excited about Nemo and friends. Before the trip, I was worried that she might be too young to enjoy it all; I was wrong. She LOVED the trip as much as anyone else because she gets super excited when she sees anything Disney now. One of the cutest thing she did was while we were wasting time in the gift shop. She picked up a stuffed Crush and did "fin, noggin', dude' with him. She loved Crush so much that she ended up getting one before the end of the trip... but that's another day's adventure...

Sunday, June 5, 2011

MM Day 2: Magic Kingdom

Instead of giving a play-by-play recap of exactly how each day went, I'll just revert to my standard list of highlights. The day after arriving, our first stop at Disneyworld was the original Magic Kingdom. MK gets the 'busiest day' and 'best overall park' award. Next time we come we're staying longer so we can devote two days to MK & Epcot.
Monorail RideThe whole ride in Jared was so stoked. He kept saying, "disneyworld" and erupting in giggling fits. I can't say I blame him because I was doing the same thing inside. When you arrive to MK, you have the choice of taking at ferry boat or straight monorail to the park. We opted for the shortest line and took the monorail through the resort hotels. It was fun to see a couple of the hotels, but it also made me secretly jealous that we weren't staying on resort. Maybe one of these years, when we win the lottery. ;)

Peter Pan and Small World
After getting our first-timer badges and fastpasses for the princesses, we went to Fantasyland. MK's Fantasyland is in the middle of a huge overhaul, so half of the land is closed, but it was still great fun. We went for Peter Pan first because the line is usually long, but not first thing in the morning. Jared was so excited standing in our first line of the vacation. He was outwardly expressing how we all inwardly felt; it was awesome. We also figured out why this ride is so popular, because it's lots of fun! Since our trip, Jared really LOVES Peter Pan, the movie--- I can probably guess where it came from. Definitely a must in any Disney vacation now.

After Peter, we went on Small World because we all forgot how silly that ride really is. In all honesty, it was fun but we were bummed it wasn't overhauled with Disney characters like the one at Disneyland. Jared must have like it because I still catch him singing the song... yeah, I don't know how to feel about that.

Fast-Pass Princesses

It was then time to go back and meet the princesses. I'm really glad we got Fast passes for them because of how the kiddos ended up reacting to them. Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Belle (Beauty & the Beast) and Cinderella (uh, duh!) are always in available to meet at MK. It's really cute seeing all these little girls excited to meet them. While in line, we told Jared & Bellie who we were about to meet and they seemed excited. It didn't really sink in until we got in the same room. Jared was terrified and Annabelle was transfixed on Belle (no joke).

Cinderella was first and when it was our turn, Jared refused to meet them, he just stayed in a safe spot, right next to Oba. Annabelle freaked and threw a fit while she graciously posed for the sillest picture of Gweg, a princess and a freaked out toddler. Belle was next. Annabelle seemed to trust Belle the most; she didn't hide or scream, which was a victory. Aurora was last and Annabelle was definitely nicer to her than to Cinderella, but Annabelle wouldn't stop looking over her shoulder to Belle. As we were leaving, Annabelle finally found some courage and said 'bye bye' to them while Jared still wouldn't go near them with a 10ft pole. Boys.

Waving to Mickey & Woody
While walking around the castle, we ran into a parade and we happened to see Mickey. I pulled Jared out of the stroller to show him and he got all excited and started waving and saying 'hi mickey!' Mickey must have seen Jared because he pointed at him and waved back. The parade also had Chip, Dale, Goofy, Pluto and everyone was dancing a storm. I started dancing with Jared, but had to soon stop because I still wasn't 100% from my ordeal (it came back to haunt me later).

Later in the day, Jared was resting in the stroller when we saw Woody up ahead. I bent down to tell Jared and he pulled back his sunshade, sat up as much as he could and said, 'where?!?!' When Jared found Woody, he had the biggest smile on his face, but we didn't meet him until later in the trip.

Dumbo with Oba & Jiji
We hit Dumbo around lunch time and the only people willing to go on it with the kiddos were Oba & Jiji. The rest of us played bystanders while they stood in the hot line and rode the flying elephants with the kiddos. Apparently, Jared is still very fond of making him go up-and-down. When they were done, Jared came to me and said, "Mommy I rode on Dumbo!" I guess he had fun.

Haunted Mansion Pep Talk
Next stop was the Haunted Mansion. One of the classics. After Jared's reaction to California's Mansion, I decided to give him a pep talk while we were in line. I didn't want him to freak out while in line or on the ride, so I reminded him that this was a house full of funny ghosts. They just wanted to sing and have fun. Jiji and I rode with him during the ride and watching us during the ride would have been a site. We were dancing and being downright goofy to keep Jared happy. It worked because he kept telling us about the ghosts (like the ones eating, dancing or singing), he also told us at the end that they were all very silly. He even tried to get the hitchhiking ghost off of our car.

Yo Ho, Yo Ho!
We then made our way to our first Pirate ride of the day. It was fun to see ride laid out a bit different, but I definitely like the Disneyland one better. Don't get me wrong, it was still loads of fun because it's Pirates; we all (including Jared and Belle) sang to the song and had a merry old time. Jared even got a late Birthday present from Oba & Jiji while we walked through the pirate store.

Jungle Cruise or not?
Next stop, Jungle Cruise. It was while we were all in line that my body said 'time to rest, remember I'm still healing!' So, Oba & I jumped ship, got some pineapple floats and had some Mom/Daughter time. We also met up with the rest of the group (grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins) while waiting for the Jungle buddies to come back. When they came back, Annabelle was passed out. Apparently she decided that the Jungle Cruise was the perfect time to nap.

Spitting Camel
While Bellie snoozed and some of the group went back to Pirates, Oba & I got antzy so we took Jared on Aladdin's flying carpets; basically Dumbo, but with flying carpets. The best part of the whole ride was this huge camel statue facing toward the carpets. It may look like just a statue, but it actually spits water out every few minutes. Well, due to Jared's mad piloting skills, we met the spitting camel at the right angle and time because he and got wet while Oba, in the back of the carpet didn't. It was really funny and Jared wondered why he got so wet.

Monsters, Inc & Buzz
We herded our 16 person group next over to Tomorrowland for some Buzz fast passes and while we waited for those to come up we went to Monsters, Inc. Laugh Factory. It was hilarious; it's an interactive joke show. At one point, a one-eyed nephew of Mike asked the audience what he should be when he grew up, Gweg shouted 'a private eye' and the nephew actually responded back to him, 'that's funny because I only have one eye.' So, it's really a responsive exhibit. After Monsters, our FPs were up for Buzz and again, Jared was excited (sense a theme) to see Buzz and shoot Zurg. Jiji and I sat together and had a blast (pun, get it?) trying to shoot the Zs and sabotage each other.

Space Mountain Line--sheesh
Space Mountain was on the radar next. A few of the adults who didn't want to ride, went with the kiddos to wait for the advertised 40 minute wait time. 90 minutes later, we finally got on the ride. This was the only time on vacation, a wait time was grossly underestimated. I loved how the SM was similar and different to the DL SM. It's one of my favorite all time rides because of the spectacle of it all. I also loved seeing, in person, the outfits my best friend had to wear seven years ago. ;)

After we rode Dumbo, Jared kept asking about the teacups, so we finally made it after we got out of SM. We were all hungry for dinner and KNEW we had to do the teacups before we went to eat; it was a good thing too. Our little family occupied a teacup; it was the one ride I absolutely wanted us to do together since I knew Jared was so excited about it. Foolishly, I let Gweg be in charge of the spinning. Boy, was that a mistake and here's the proof. (if you can't tell which one we are, I'll give you a hint, the super-sonic pink cup).

All of us were SUPER dizzy after this little experience, but Jared quickly asked if we could do it again. I guess we found another Jared favorite. It's definitely one of the silliest memories of the vacation. Plus, Bellie's look of terror is super funny and sad all at the same time.

Philharmagic Laugh
After dinner at Pecos Bill's (so good and recommended) we enjoyed Donald's musical adventure. Jared and Bellie both kept their glasses on and Jared could. not. stop. giggling. He even brought out his I'm-having-the-time-of-my-life-this-is-HILARIOUS laugh which is SUPER contagious. Afterwards, the people in front of us told us that their favorite part was listening to Jared laugh. Chalk another one on Jared's favorites list... this list seems to be getting long!

Electrical Parade & Sleepy Belle
It was about time for the parade to begin, so we found a spot and waited for the lights to turn off. What I LOVE about this parade is that it's one of the things I remember about going to Disneyland for the first time. I remember thinking how magical it was and I got really nostalgic sharing it with my kids, now as a mother. It moved Annabelle so much that she fell asleep on her perch atop Jjii's shoulders. I guess she had a full day and didn't want it to end.

Jared not Tired
Jared had about the same experience falling asleep. Just after the parade, we put him back in the stroller and asked him if he was tired. He quickly told us no and we started to discuss what we wanted to do before leaving. Not five minutes later, we look back at Jared and he's passed out. I guess he was tired.

Big Thunder Splashing Pirates
Since 3 of the 4 kiddos were asleep, we decided to pass the fireworks and do a couple rides we hadn't got to yet. First up was Big Thunder Mountain. I highly recommend it at night; it takes on more of a Space Mountain feel because it's not well lit. What made it even better and a MAGICAL end to our day was that the Fireworks started just as we started the climb up the first hill. It was the perfect way to say 'yep, you're at Disneyworld.'

After that, we couldn't let the fun end, so it was off to Splash Mountain because it's the perfect 1030 at night ride... wait... I blame awesome family peer-pressure. We kidded ourselves onto the ride by saying 'we won't get that wet.' That ended up being true for some of us, not all. First off, Greg, Meg and I stuffed our butts into one row; that was feet in and of itself. Second, we all got wet. I had the advantage of being in the middle of Gweg and Meg so my front was the thing wet. The ones in the front row weren't so lucky.

By the time we finished with Splash, it was 1045. The park closed at 11 and we had to walk by Pirates in order to get out. So, the people who wanted to ride it again hurried as fast as our legs could carry us to get in line before 11 (if you're in line before closing time, they let you ride the ride). Our group barely made it, but again, it was great to finish the day with just one more ride.

This day was, by far, the most exhausting. It was the only day we stayed from opening to closing and we all felt it when we tried to get up early for Epcot the next day...

Friday, June 3, 2011

MM Day 1: Traveling

Oh my goodness, this day was CRAZY! It all started with packing. Being only two adults and two toddlers, you'd think we wouldn't have a lot to pack; well, you'd be wrong. I started packing the day before, but with my whole miscarriage ordeal, I didn't finish. Actually, I kept trying to do some more but Gweg would quickly scold me before I could get anything done. So, we got up earlier than usual for our flight and got to finish packing.

We got out the door with everything in tow, or so we thought, in order to be at the airport with an hour and a half before our flight. After a friend dropped us off, we started to take inventory. Two carseats. check. Two kids. Check. Carry-on entertainment. Check. Pack-n-play. Check. Four..three suitcases.... uh oh. We were missing a suitcase. It was the suitcase with ALL the kiddos clothes, nightlight, lovies. THAT suitcase. We quickly call our friend and realize the worst; somehow it was left at home. A couple calls later, we had another awesome friend, go to our house to pick up the suitcase and meet Greg and our first friend half-way to the airport.

Leaving me to go through security with the kiddos. When the guys left to go get the suitcase, I totally thought I could handle it; then my crazy hormones and cramps kicked in. I had a 'poor me' moment because no one could outwardly tell what I was inwardly facing. With time ticking away, I had to face the fact that less than 24 hours after a traumatic physical event, I might have to travel across the country by myself.

After surving security because of helpful TSA agents (I know, lucky!) I tried not to freak out; especially since Greg wasn't answering his phone. About 10 minutes before boarding started, Greg was still no where to be seen. I was literally about to breakdown because of how physically and emotionally spent I was... and then he showed up to save the day.

When we boarded, we were able to sit near the front of the plane and the kids were great. I guess the better assessment is that Jared was great; Annabelle was the terror her age requires while traveling. Nothing would keep her entertained and it was basically up to Greg to keep her occupied because her favorite thing to do was bounce on our laps; not good for my recovery. So, Jared and I spent the plane ride trying to color, play toys or watch movies. Funny Jared note: He was really into the whole ride. You could tell he tried to wrap his mind around us going up and down in the sky and flying over the ocean. When he remembered he randomly would exclaim, "mommy/daddy we're flying over the ocean." And he was SUPER excited when we landed because he thought we were at Disneyworld right then. We then had to break it to him that we weren't going to Disneyworld until tomorrow.

Between landing and finding the rental car shuttle, Gweg and I performed the greatest balancing act you'll ever seen. We had: four suitcases, two carseat, three carryon bags, a pack-n-play, and our awesome double stroller. I still don't know how we got it all safely into the shuttle. It was the downfall to staying off-resort, but it didn't make up for the money saved.

First thing we did once we picked up our rental car (a Toyota Sienna---which has fully convinced me that I can be a mini-van mom when the time comes--- it was awesome!) was find my sister's place. My sister is doing the whole College-Internship Program this summer, which is why we were able to afford the vacation; she got three of us in for free. Plus it was way for us to spend time together since we sent off my missionary brother LAST July.

We caught up, went shopping and found our little condo home for the week. It was a great place. 3 bedrooms, 3 bath and it has a small private pool on the back patio. Definitely a great place to stay if you want to save money while going to WDW. We spent the rest of the night waiting for the Seattle crew to arrive; they had 12 hours of travel compared to our 3 hour straight flight. So, they didn't arrive until late evening, just in time to say hi and get ready for the Magic of the next day...


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