Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Disney World


Caroline has officially enjoyed her first trip to Walt Disney World and it could not have been more fun  and exhausting for all of us! I decided I wanted to take her over the summer and my sister planned our trip for us. You can visit her page here and have her plan your trip as well. It doesn't cost any extra for her planning services and I didn't have to do a thing besides show up. She had all of our dining reserved, our fast passes booked and everything was a breeze when we got there. 

I have been to Disney probably around ten times, most of which for UCA Cheerleading Nationals over my years of involvement with the sport. It was always fun going with my teammates and my kids I coached, but seeing it through the Caroline's eyes was next level amazing. 

She had no idea where we were going. All I told her was that it was a surprise trip for her and that she would be so excited when she figured it out.  We left here Wednesday afternoon and drove a little more than halfway, spent the night in middle Georgia, then headed the rest of the way Thursday. We got to WDW around 4:00 and unloaded the car after checking in and activating our Magic Bands. Caroline and I immediately went to the pool for about an hour, then headed back to get ready for our dinner reservation. We had dinner at the Captain's Grill in the Beach Club resort. We had a very sweet waiter who brought Caroline TONS of Mickey stickers and a big picture of all of the characters in front of Cinderella's castle. She still had no clue where we were, so she just thought we had the greatest waiter ever :)

Friday morning, we were up and at em bright and early, because I wanted to get to Magic Kingdom for the rope drop.  If you're there by 8:45 am, the Mayor of Disney comes to the train stations to welcome you, a bunch of dancers perform and sing, then Mickey and all of the traditional Disney characters ride in on the train, then get off and welcome you to Disney before doing a countdown to opening the park. Caroline's face when she saw Mickey Mouse was so precious, I will never forget it! At first she was confused, then smiley then just tensed up because she was so overcome with excitement. I cried happy tears, can't lie. 

The moment she finally knew where we had brought her was when we entered the Magic Kingdom and walked onto Main Street USA spotting the castle. I got her reaction on video and I will probably watch it every day.


My sister had us booked for Fast Passes in the attractions that she thought would have the longest lines, so after riding Peter Pan's Flight, It's a Small World and Dumbo, we headed to meet some characters. I swear, Caroline meeting all of the characters ranks among the top three cutest things I have ever seen in my life. You never know what your child will do in a situation like this. Will they be excited and go right to them, or will they scream bloody murder and refuse to go anywhere near the characters? Knowing my child, I really thought she'd be excited and I was right! Cinderella was her first meeting and we never told her going in to meet the characters who she would see, we let everything be a surprise, so every time she saw who she was meeting, it's like she was star struck and it was just precious. She'd hold out her little autograph book, cock her head to the side like a puppy, then take their hand and walk on to chat with them.




I can't say enough about how amazing every single character was with my child. I know it's their job, but every single one made her feel so special. They'd compliment her pig tails or dance her around or sing with her. It just absolutely was the most special thing to watch. I am so glad we took her. Juston wasn't convinced that she was of an age to be Disney ready, but as usual, I was right ;)

Friday night, my Mom had given us tickets to go the the Boo for You Halloween party at the Magic Kingdom, so after a short break back at the hotel, we dressed Caroline up in the costumes that used to be my nieces and headed back out. She was originally dressed up as Tinkerbelle and looked so dang cute, but she said it was too itchy, so she ended up going as Belle. Thank goodness I grabbed a backup costume at the last minute. 

It poured on us for about an hour right after we got there, but we just rode the People Mover and did a few indoor things until the rain slacked off. We also rode Aladdin's Magic Carpets, did the Swiss Family Robinson tree house and hit up the trick or treat spots. We were able to catch the Halloween parade with the villains, then get back to the castle to catch the Hocus Pocus Sanderson sister's show right before the first set of fireworks, set to Disney Villain music. Every single thing about our first day was amazing. We were tired, hot, sweaty and just plum tuckered out, but already looking forward to day two. 




We started Saturday at Animal Kingdom with fast passes to the Festival of the Lion King. Caroline LOVED the monkey's in the show and the music. That is always a fun show to watch. As soon as that was over, we were off to meet the first couple of Disney, Mickey and Minnie. Again, Caroline never knew in advance who we were meeting, so her face every time she'd round the corner and see a character was probably my favorite part of the whole trip. 
We then headed to our lunch reservations at Rainforest Cafe, my favorite eating spot I have found so far in Disney, which Caroline just thought was the coolest place ever. We walked around and did a scavenger hunt for different animals while we waited for our food. Once we were finished, we had a fast pass for Animal Safari. After that, Caroline crashed and we headed back to the room.



Saturday evening, we were off to Epcot for a Royal dining experience. The Food and Wine Festival was going on that day, so Epcot was pretty much a madhouse, but once we were in the restaurant, it wasn't bad at all. As soon as we walked in, Caroline got to meet Belle, who was honestly probably my favorite to watch interaction-wise. She had met her the day before at Belle's Enchanted Story Time, a must do attraction for anyone taking their little lady. 
 

We sat down and ordered our food, not really knowing when the princesses would come out. Caroline and I had our back to the main part of the dining area, so when someone tapped her on the shoulder and she turned around to see Cinderella smiling at her, I think I was just as surprised as she was! Her little eyes just lit up and it was officially worth every penny I'd spent to get us there. She also got to meet Aurora, Ariel and Snow White at dinner. She was in Heaven. 




Sunday started bright and early with our breakfast reservation at Hollywood and Vine to eat with her favorite Disney Junior characters. Our waiter caught wind that this was a belated birthday trip for Caroline, so he brought her a card signed by the characters and a cupcake, then all the tables around us sang to her. 




I don't know who got more excited to see Sophia, Caroline or her daddy. hah! She'd his very favorite Disney Junior cartoon. We wondered around Hollywood Studios for a bit after breakfast and got to meet Pluto, Chip and Dale, and Daisy Duck before heading down to the Honey I shrunk the Kids playground. That was one of my absolute favorite movies as a kid, so seeing that playground replica of the movie set was so cool. The playground was probably her favorite thing we did that day. I'd say we spent about an hour in there. 




We headed back to Magic Kingdom to finish out our trip where we hit the rides we hadn't gotten a chance to do on our first day. We did Aladdin again, Buzz Lightyear, Dumbo, the Teacups, Tomorrowland Speedway, Carousel of Progress, Astro Orbiter, The Barnstormer (her first roller coaster, which she LOVED. Hands in the air hollering loved), the train and the monorail. Honestly, I feel like there was more, but I can't remember. 

I have to say, before we even left, Juston and I were already talking about when we could bring her back. The thing about Disney is that it's sort of a dichotomy. It's called the Happiest Place on Earth, but if you look around when you're waiting in lines or walking between attractions, parents look miserable, kids are whining and crying...it doesn't look so happy. But if you watch the little ones reactions to the rides, the shows and the character, that's where the magic happens that makes you crazy enough to want to do it all over again. And it's absolutely worth it. 

Again, if you're looking to plan your own trip to Disney, I'd definitely recommend contacting Paula with Ears of Experience. She can work with any budget and take the guesswork out of the planning for you.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Book Review: Porch Lights




Dorthea Benton Frank is an author that I always seem to gravitate towards, likely because the Lowcountry of South Carolina is a favorite setting for many of her books. Recently, I picked up Porch Lights and just finished it last week, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on it in case anyone is looking to snag a new read.  

Here's the synopsis from the back cover:
 
When fireman Jimmy McMullen is killed in the line of duty, his wife, Jackie, and ten-year-old son, Charlie, are devastated. Trusting in the healing power of family, Jackie decides to return to her childhood home on Sullivans Island—a place of lush green grasslands, the heady pungency of Lowcountry Pluff mud, and palmetto fronds swaying in gentle ocean winds.
Thrilled to have her family back, matriarch Annie Britt promises to make their visit perfect. Over the years, Jackie and Annie, like all mothers and daughters, have had differences of opinion. But her estranged and wise husband, Buster, and her best friend, Deb, are sure to keep Annie in line. She's also got the flirtatious widowed physician next door to keep her distracted. Captivated by the island's natural charms, mother, daughter, and grandson will share a memorable, illuminating summer.

Now, as usual, I don't want to give too much away, but I will say that I had a hard time getting into this one at first. The main reason being that I didn't really find either one of the POV main characters likable at all.  The story switches back and forth between Jackie and Annie's points of view. They are a somewhat estranged daughter and mother respectively. Initially, I found Jackie, the daughter to be too harsh, rude and just not very appealing. Annie read like a characture of what someone thought a Southern Belle would talk like and I sort of found that hard to buy into and a little annoying. As the story went on, I got more into it and feel like the characters evolved. Annie started to feel less one dimensional and Jackie, while still not very likable, at least more tolerable. By the end of the book, I was glad that I'd stuck with it an finished it. It's a light, easy read, and while not my favorite Frank book, I did end up liking it a lot more than I thought I was going to. I'd give this one a 3/5.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We had a super laid back weekend around our parts. I did a ton of cleaning and organizing around the house. Something about changes in the season make me want to organize and re-decorate. Speaking of redecorating, I'm almost finished with the little facelift on the Master Bathroom I started a few weeks ago and have started on a small project in the Guest Bathroom as well. I'm excited to share those once they're all finished up. I still need to get a storage piece and new faucet for the master and am waiting on some fabric to complete the guest bath. If it were up to me, I'd love to do new tile and shower areas, but that's just not in the budget.


I've had the worst poison ivy on both of my forearms and MY FACE for the last almost two weeks now, so holding Caroline has been difficult at best. Mostly, I just have to sit still and try not to touch her when she climbs in my lap. I'd had it three weeks ago all over my neck, thighs and stomach, so you could imagine how delighted I was when it showed up again a mere week after the first bout with it cleared up. I'm super allergic to it, so it gets really nasty looking and spreads pretty bad once I have it. I probably should have gotten a shot, but it's mostly cleared up now. I'm just praying it doesn't show up again and I'm so thankful Caroline didn't catch it.


Caroline and I made one of our favorite breakfasts Saturday morning. Anytime someone is cooking or baking in the kitchen, she has to come and help. She loves to dump ingredients in and stir. I let her use the electric mixer from time to time and that's probably her favorite. We made bacon, pancakes and cheese grits with Palmetto Cheese. If you've never tried it that way, do yourself a favor and you will LOVE it!


I feel like she has started looking grown up a lot this summer. Her hair is getting longer and almost all of her little baby chub on her legs is gone. 


While I was working out at the gym and staining a table on the back deck Saturday afternoon, Juston took Caroline out to run some errands. I'd asked him to pick up a foddershock and hay bail while he was out for the front porch since I finally threw my ferns out and to my surprise, he came home with those and lots of extras. He picked up mums, pumpkins and gourds all on his own. He's learning :) And of course we have our little UGA on the porch for football season. Go Dawgs!


I love the way the little porch looks all decked out for a new season. I don't think I've shared the red front door since I got it painted either. I just finished sanding and staining the trim around it this weekend, so it's officially finished now. My favorite part has to be the pineapple door knocker I found on eBay a few months ago. My little ode to Charleston out front between the red door and pineapple knocker. I really need to pressure wash the porch now and would love to have a carriage lantern type of light fixture hanging down over the door as well, but I've got about ten other projects to finish up before I get to that :) Hope everyone is having a great week.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Our Weekend

We really packed the fun in this weekend! It's the first time it's really started to feel like fall around here, which to be honest, I'm still not ready for. It's always hard for me to let go of summer when the time comes. Friday evening, my sisters girls spent the night with us, so we went out for dinner and then headed to the annual Fall Festival a local church here hosts as a fundraiser. It had been pouring rain the whole time we were eating, but we managed to catch a break in the weather for about an hour, which was just long enough for all the girls to play the games at every booth and win tons of prizes and candy. We headed inside to see a few people and check out the Sweet Shop and wouldn't you know it started pouring again just as we were leaving, which wouldn't have been a huge deal if we weren't parked three blocks away. We made a run for it and all got soaked, but we had a great time at the festival. It's so funny when you have those full circle moments in life. I used to absolutely love going to the Fall Festival with my best friend, Amanda when we were in school. She went to St. Patrick (the private Catholic school that hosts the event) and so did a ton of the cute boys ;) So we always looked forward to the event. It was so fun being able to take my nieces and Caroline when I hadn't been myself in at least five years, maybe more. 

Saturday was another gloomy sort of day most of the time. Juston had to work the Rotary Club's horse show all day, so I got up early to workout before he had to leave, then cleaned most of the morning while the older girls entertained Caroline. I'm telling you what, having those nieces and nephew is a God send when I'm wanting to get things done around the house! Juston asked me to bring Caroline out to the Horse Show that evening for something fun. They have a stick pony division that kicks off the event each year. The children can bring their stick ponies, get a race number and go our in the ring to trot around. Luckily the rain stopped right as they were calling the kids out. The good Lord was on our side with the rain this weekend ;)

 

Caroline was SO PROUD of that medal she got! It was just adorable. Juston had to work the rest of the event on up into the night, so Caroline and I headed to Dairy Queen, then home to watch a little bit of football, Go Dawgs!


Sunday was absolutely beautiful. Sunny and mid sixties. We had planned on taking Caroline to Evans Orchard in Georgetown and my youngest niece asked if she could come, too, so we picked her up and hit the road. It was super busy, but such a fun time. If you're anywhere near central Kentucky, you should definitely check out Evans Orchard. This was the first time I had been and we will absolutely be going back. 



There was a huge fenced in area just as you came in that held so many fun activities for kids and buddy, we did 'em all. 


The big Apple Cider Slider area was definitely the girls favorite that day. They spent at least a half an hour just climbing the steps up and sliding back down again. Caroline's white britches didn't fare too well on the dirt mountain climb. Poor move on my part. 
 


They had a jumping area set up for younger kids as well as a separate one for the older kids, which I was really happy for.  And who could resist a pony ride on a cute little midget pony! It may be a Kentucky thing, but Caroline has loved horses since she could articulate about them. She could probably use a healthy dose of fearful respect, but never hesitates to pet them when the opportunity presents itself.



She was itching to hop on a tractor and drive around as soon as she spotted them. This was probably the longest wait time we had all day to do something (besides the ladies restroom), and it only took about ten minutes before we could snag one for her to ride. 

Once we spent a couple of house in the activity area, we grabbed lunch at the cafe, (the BBQ was really good!) and hopped on the hay ride through the orchards. 

We were ready to pick some apples and call it a day after the hay ride. Juston got quite the upper body workout when we were apple picking. Most of the good ones had been picked over except for up high. Sometimes it pays to have a tall hubby :)


 It was just the most perfect day we could have asked for, made even better when we topped it off with some apple cider donuts for the ride home.




 


 









Thursday, September 10, 2015

Labor Day Weekend

 Still running behind over here...nothing new about that. Labor Day weekend was a pretty busy one for us! We packed in lots of visitors and fun. Friday, we had friends in from Charleston, so I made some appetizers and cleaned the house like a crazy lady in anticipation of our company. How is it that I literally clean every day, but when company is coming over, I look around and my house is trashed? It's completely mystifying to me! 
Saturday, Juston was gone before the sun came up since it was opening day for bow hunting. He spend the day in his deer blind so Caroline and I hung out with my family down at mom and dad's. We literally didn't see Juston at all. He came home right around Caroline's bedtime and had a buck to clean...welcome to hunting season around our neck of the woods. Daddy is missing most weekends and a lot of early mornings!

Sunday, I did something that I couldn't tell you the last time I did and spent the day with just my parents and sister. No husbands, no kids, just the four of us. I'm pretty sure it's been at least fifteen years since that has happened, maybe even longer. My brother-in-law gave my parents tickets to the Cincinnati Reds baseball game so they wanted to bring their girls along :)




It was an absolutely perfect day for a ballgame. A little bit hot, but we were in the shade so it was ideal. While we were at the ballgame, Juston took Caroline to the park to hit the playground and feed the ducks and sent me pictures. 


I think she had a big time with her daddy. We headed to the campground for a while that night and then I got to work cleaning the house again once we got home since we had Emi and Madison visiting on Monday from Lexington.  


Can you tell Caroline just never gets any attention from anyone? It's just a shame, isn't it. When she got up on Tuesday morning, she asked me who we were going to see that day. Hah! Well, that was about it for our weekend. I did get some great deals in some of the Labor Day sales for some fall clothes for myself and Caroline, too. What's a weekend without a little shopping?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Lex


I'm so behind on blogging, but I wanted to be sure to document the fun day Caroline and I had in Lexington early last week. I had a very dear friend in town from North Carolina staying with her daughter (our Goddaughter) at UK, so we made plans to meet up on my day off for some fun and catching up. I was needing to get to Lexington anyway to exchange some shorts at the Lilly Pulitzer store, so it all worked out great. We hit the Lilly store before meeting up with Missy.


I can't snap a decent picture of my child anymore, she's apparently passed the cooperative phase for the time being. Sit and smile no longer works. Anyway, Caroline LOVES the colorful dressing rooms at The Peppermint Palm and will just go sit on the benches and look in the mirror. She also loves the giant magna Doodle they have in their little play area, so she was great for me while I did a little bit of shopping. 

Once we had that errand taken care of, we headed over to meet up with Missy and grab some lunch. We picked a new place close to campus called Freakin' Burger. I know, they thought long and hard about that name. And ironically, I got the best fish tacos from the burger place. Go figure. 



These were seriously so amazing. Caroline at a little bit, but didn't love the chipotle sauce, so we ended up going to Chick Fil A later for her. If you're in Lexington, I would definitely recommend trying this place out. It's located where Hugh Ass Burger used to be across from Kennedy Book Store. 
After lunch, we headed back to the apartment to visit for awhile. Caroline was so excited that Missy brought their dog, Aubie. He's just the cutest, sweetest, boy and they typically play very well together. I used to dog sit Aubie when he lived in Kentucky :)


Caroline also had a great time re-arranging all the magnets on Emi and Madison's fridge for them. 


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After we visited and walked around for a few hours, Caroline and I headed to chick fil a to get her some grilled nuggets and let her play in the playplace before we headed to Morehead for her weekly gymnastics class. She had the playplace to herself which is always a relief to me. A lot of times, we get there and big kids are in there running wild all but knocking the littler ones all over the place. It takes all of my self control not to discipline those kids myself since their parents usually can't be bothered to come in and watch them, but I know Caroline is smart enough to get out of the way or avoid where the wild bunch is. I do get super annoyed when this happens though. 


I also saw something a friend of mine shared on their Facebook page this week that I wanted to share as well, because I thought it was a really powerful reminder of just how much impact our tone and words can have on our babies.