Monday, January 27, 2014

Disney Day 1!

Let the adventures begin!
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Our first full day in Disney was spent at Animal Kingdom. The kids loved seeing all the animals there and watching the AMAZING shows.  We tried to break up our days by riding several rides and then watching a show and so on.  It gave all of us some downtime and a time to just chill before moving on to the next big adventure. :) We were able to see the Festival of the Lion King and Finding Nemo musical type shows.  Wow.  They were so great!  The singing, stunts, and sets were out of this world!
Here we are at finding Nemo!
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Some of our ride highlights included...Primeval Whirl, Tricera Top Spin, Expedition Everest, and Dinosaur. On Expedition Everest, Ansley was tall enough to go, but the whole time I wondered if it was too much for her (it went really fast and backwards) and it turned out.....my DAD of all people got sick on it.  Ha!  After that, he took it easy on the rides. :) We also rode on Kilamanjaro Safaris which was an open-air vehicle ride that takes you on an expedition through an African savannah.  This scored MAJOR points with the kiddos.  They loved it.  However, the Dinosaur ride was NOT for Ansley!  She kept her head in my lap the entire time and almost broke a few bones in my hands.  She is STILL talking about that scary dinosaur ride. :(  We ate at a quick serve lunch at Restaurantosaurus while Charli slept a little bit.
This was the scene after lunch.  They were whooped!
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We loved Animal Kingdom and could have explored more of the park, but we had some REALLY important reservations at the Bippity Boppity Boutique in Downtown Disney. 
She was so excited!
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They put on eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick!
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They got every single tangle out of her curly hair.  She was so tough about it....she didn't even grimace.
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Seeing herself for the first time after all the pampering.
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She was on Cloud 9!
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After her appointment, we explored the Downtown area, watched an awesome dance show, and ate dinner at Earl of Sandwich.  My sandwich (roast beef and cheese) was seriously amazing.  Can't say enough about it...it was seriously yummy.  As if the day hadn't been exciting enough....that evening we jumped back on the bus and headed to Magic Kingdom to watch the Christmas Parade of Lights.  Wow. Just wow.  That parade is just one of a kind. 
Here's a few pictures from it.  Pictures DON'T do it justice!
Just imagine, thousands and thousands of lights covering these floats.  It was magnificent!
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We had the best seats!  We were the first to see them come out of gate.
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Cinderella up close and personal.
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Watching the parade!
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Charli kept yelling "Dat!" (in Charli language- look at that!")
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And this was one of the most magnificent sights I've seen.  This castle was breathtaking.
And the fireworks were AMAZING!  This is when Ansley's love for the Frozen movie started.  Some of the movie was projected on the castle and she was in awe and so were WE!  
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Magical Day 1....check!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

DISNEY! Here We Come!!!!

I can't even believe I'm posting about a Disney vacation! AHHHH! I thought the possibility of us going this soon seemed IMpossible.  I always imagined us waiting until Charli was a little older to go, but I KNEW Ansley was at the perfect age to really enjoy it.  So when my mom mentioned that they wanted to spend their credit card rewards on a Disney trip for the whole family, I was excited about this possibility ACTUALLY becoming a reality.  Turns out....it paid for more than 1/3 of our trip!  Yay!  Because we were going around Christmas, we overwhelmingly agreed that it was an AMAZING Christmas present for all of us from my parents, so absolutely NO presents allowed under the tree (they totally broke that promise, but at least they peared it down!).  We didn't decide on all this until the end of September.  Now, if you look at all the Pinterest boards for Disney you will see that you should always book your Disney vacation 120 days before you plan to go for optimal reservations.  Well, we didn't quite make that cutoff, but it turned out great regardless!  After talking with my friend, Ashley she suggested using a Disney travel agent to get the best deal.  I tried to book my dining plan first because apparently that's the hardest thing to get on short notice.  They were right!  I basically called and said..."I need some character meals stat!" and after several LONG phone calls with some really sweet Disney representatives...we had our dates.  Whew! That same week, Southwest had some great deals on flights so I booked everyone's flight for super cheap ($300 RT and nonstop).  It just seemed like things were falling into place. 
WOO HOO!!  Disney here we come!
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Our flight there was so great.  The plane was barely occupied, so we had rows and rows of seats in the back to ourselves.  This was good for a slightly anxious mom of 2 that had never flown with the littles before.:/
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This is my crazy brother acting like there are people sitting next to him so the oncoming passengers stay away.  He apparently didn't get the memo that it was an empty plane. Ha!  We laughed about this until we cried! His face!!! Hilarious...
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The kids got to see the cockpit before takeoff.
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Mom and Dad ready for takeoff!
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Charli was set with her little board books.  She was so good!
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And this little girl couldn't have been more excited to fly.
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She called the window seat next to Daddy. 
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After our flight we were escorted by Magical Express to our hotel that evening.  When we got to our resort (Art of Animation) it was AMAZING!!!  Let me just say...Disney thinks of every little detail.  Just our walk IN the resort was magical! They had everything decorated for Christmas in every fun color you can imagine to match their current d├ęcor.  It was beautiful. 
This was the pool area. 
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And the girls DIED when they saw their Mermaid room.  Ansley kept screaming from one surprise to another....look mom!  Look dad!  It's Ariel and Flounder, and Prince Eric!!!  Charli was amazed too.  She kept going from one Ariel detail to the other and she LOVED our mermaid shower curtain!  We still were all hungry so we went to the restaurant for some dinner and then hit the sack before our first exciting day at Disney.  Who in the world could sleep with so much excitement ahead! 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Our final Christmas festivities of 2013!

We did several fun activities during the Christmas season and it's been so busy I haven't been able to post about it. So here goes....
 
We attended the Parade of Lights the first weekend in December.  This is always a great way to kick off the Christmas season and the girls love to see the many floats covered in lights.  This year there were a few camels too....that was a big hit! 
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We tried to get a family pic....that never works out so well (at least everyone was looking including Ansley's baby). :) Afterwards, we went to Pam and Rick's for soup with the whole Bandermann and Pingel crews. So fun! 
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The Road to Bethlehem is also something we look forward to doing every Christmas season.  It's a great way to teach the girls and reflect on the story of Christ.  Ansley looks so forward to buying goods in the marketplace and Charli enjoyed eating the goods (especially the grapes and cheese). We spent all our shekels on the food. Ha! 
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Here's Charli looking around at the different items to buy, aka...looking for her next snack :)
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When we finally made our way through the marketplace to see baby Jesus, Ansley was so giddy.  She didn't want to leave, so they asked if she wanted to sit by the baby (which was really just a doll this year because it was so cold...it was actually sleeting when we were there). 
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After some chili, hot chocolate, and cookies we headed home after a great evening.     
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Another fun activity was gingerbread houses!  While we were at the cabin one night, we broke out some activities for the kids.  Somehow I didn't realize how TINY these houses would be!  They were nearly impossible to decorate, but Tanner and Ansley did a great job regardless.  Charli watched and enjoyed eating/sneaking some of the decorations they put on.  
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Almost the final product.
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Here are the happy decorators. They were so proud.
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The holiday festivities are slowing down around here. Ready for a great 2014!