Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Annual Easter Egg Hunt At The Lake.

The girls got dressed up in their Easter best and paraded out the front walk to the awaiting John Deere tractor and hay ride. The Easter Bunny conveniently comes every year while we are on the 20 minutes ride around the neighborhood.
Then the Easter Egg hunt was on!
After the hunt of over 200 eggs, it was time to find a comfortable place in the shade, to go through all the loot...
Carter seemed to find a lot of the "golden eggs" with cash this year.
Addie was fascinated with the balloons in the eggs and wanted to blow all of them up...
My favorite of the day...
What a relaxing and low key Easter weekend.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

My Bunnies Keep Growing!

Easter 2011
Easter 2010
Easter 2009

My Favorite Time Of The Year!

Don't worry, after I turned around to find out my handsome 4 year old had picked a flower for me, we gently explained why we can't pick these special flowers.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tips To Remember That Helped Make Our Trip Great!

With the amount of preparation Julie and I put into this trip, I'm not surprised that everything really did go incredibly smooth for the 15 of us. All our hours upon hours of reading and taking notes from websites and friends resulted in not having to worry about what we needed to plan or schedule next but rather just enjoy the moment and more importantly be able to enjoy the little down time we had each day!
For our next trip to Disney, I want to have everything written down so we can literally pull out a suitcase and jump on a plane in less than 24 hours!

For anyone that knows me well, you know I pride myself on getting good deals. It doesn' t mean I am cheap and Blake will definitely tell you I like a lot of expensive things but I HATE buying things when I KNOW I can get them for 40% cheaper with a little pre-planning. I like to look at like the money I am saving can go towards the really cool and unique expensive items I love! :) So here are just a couple of things I want to remember for our next trip! This was the perfect bag for me for easy access to everything! Man... it got a beating all week but the 4 pockets up front were great for fast access to Kleenex, chap stick, my FLIP camera and cash!
SHOES: Our Teva's were the PERFECT Disney World shoes! (2 adult pairs for $78.00 total at Rackroom Shoes - who knew they had such great brand names?!?) They were a very last second purchase for both Blake and I and they were the shoes we wore almost EVERY SINGLE day. All the other ones stayed in the bag after seeing how comfortable and water proof they were for any of the water rides.

STROLLERS: This was a big decision for me. Bring my own single, double? Rent one at the park each day? Rent one at private stroller company that delivered to the hotel? I put way too much thought into this but it was worth the thought and personally, for Carter (4) and Addie's (2, almost 3) bringing our own 2 single lightweight comfortable umbrella strollers was my decision and I am 110% happy that we did. 2 reasons - First, I liked the singles because we could maneuver SO MUCH easier than the folks with the doubles in the crazy crowds. Second, I liked having the strollers outside the parks and couldn't imagine having to give it up each day before we left. We got some of the MOST BENEFICIAL use between the park and our hotel room. Third, I liked not having to even mess with picking it up each morning once we got there and were headed to the biggest ride in order to beat the crowds.

WATER BLADDER and COLLAPSIBLE WATER BOTTLES: Blake picked this up a month ago for his fancy new backpack he was taking to Disney. I kinda rolled my eyes when he showed it to me thinking it was stupid but again I WAS WRONG and this "stupid" little $8 bladder saved us around $150 easily on bottled waters and drinks all 7 days! I brought the individual Gatorade and Lemonade packets and we mixed those in the bladder each day and left them in the refrigerator overnight to get nice and cold.
I also found these collapsible reusable water bottles at Target.com and got them for the kids and LOVED that hung from the stroller, backpack or my purse! So brilliant and we refilled them multiple times a day!

HANGING HAND SANITIZER - best invention ever and we used it non-stop.

PACK YOUR OWN NICK KNACKS!
At all the night time parades and shows, there are tons of temptations to buy $15 light up toys that they play with for what, 30 minutes and if you are lucky, on your way  home? Julie and I had been stocking up on little gadgets like this for 6 months and cost us about $2 bucks a pop vs. $9.99 for the identical item at Disney World! My kids had NO IDEA where it came from and were just happy to have it for the 30 minutes!

BUY and BRING YOUR OWN PRINCESS DRESS! (Surprise your kid so they don't know you are bring it but you seriously could save a BUNDLE and again Addie and Carter had no clue where it came from.) Aunt Erin had given Addie a Cinderella dress from ToysRUs that had been on sale for $17 and similar dresses were going for $59.99 at Downtown Disney and at the parks. We also brought TONS of fun makeup, hair and face glitter and special hair clips to do our own princess party before Cinderella's Royal Table!

BUY NEW DISNEY SHIRTS AT HOME AND PACK THEM for the kids and adults! I had 3 different people stop me and ask me where I got one of the shirts I wore one day. I didn't feel guilty at all when I told them - It was $7 bucks at WALMART of ALL PLACES! You can afford to have new shirts for each person in the family every day for the price you will pay for 1 new one in a park store that isn't even that cute.

CAMERA - Take a camera you don't really care about. I brought my old canon Rebel xti simply because it is old and the lens is even older and I don't really care how many times it gets banged around getting in and out of rides and shows. Next time, I will have a nice point and shoot and have it clipped to my lanyard for easy access.

LANYARDS - All adults must have one. They are brilliant for your tickets, your numerous Fast Passes, Photo cards to quickly have the professional cameras scan, etc...

AS YOU ARE SHOPPING ALL WEEK at the different parks - If you see something you have your heart set on, buy it then and there. Even the largest of the large stores in Disney World don't carry the exact same items.

LEARN THE FAST PASS SYSTEM like the back of your had and use it!

BRING TONS OF LITTLE ACTIVITY BOOKS FOR THE LINES: Addie LOVES Magic ink books. Bring a deck of cards for waiting at parades and shoes. Books, Stickers and puzzles. Carter LOVED Marshall's DS.

MAKE SURE YOUR CELL PHONE HAS GOOD GAMES: for emergencies when you need to kill time in a line. (Bug Squash always bought some good time!)

BRING POOL TOYS TO DIVE FOR at hotel pool.

SPF every single morning!

Light jacket for kids in the early morning in March.

SNACKS, SNACKS, SNACKS - bring them in or be ready to say good by to $25 a day easy!

Next time, If it is a busy time of year book the DINNER PACKAGES that allow to you eat at "off times" like 4 PM and have GUARANTEED seating for shows like Hollywood Studios FANTASMIC instead of getting there 2 HOURS before hand.

I brought SEVERAL 99 cent emergency ponchos for the 2-3 water rides like Splash Mountain and the River Rapids I didn't want to be soaked along with my camera. Or be prepared to shell out the 8 bucks each time for the one they sell as you enter!

I packed an extra duffel bag in my suitcase for our return purchases.

The ONE item I forgot to put in the bag on Saturday morning at 6AM, our portable sound machine since we 4 were sharing a room. The app on my EVO worked GREAT however it meant not having access to my phone anytime we had it on like during naps in the afternoons. Remember to bring a separate one next time!

NEVER EVER EVER got to Disney in June-September (if we can help it and especially while kids are young.) It was only 83 degrees as a high and by 2-3PM it was so uncomfortable and hot. I would rather go in November or December.

No matter where we stay next time, it must a have a small refrigerator like we had this time for milk to keep drinks and to have cereal in the mornings.

Blake - bring his golf clubs. There were amazing courses all around and he managed to sneak in 9 holes while we were there.

After 23 "Disney" Posts... This Is The VERY Last One! (I promise) ;)

More characters we met this week...

Pinocchio was the FIRST character we saw on the very first morning and he set the perfect tone for the rest of the week's character encounters!


Many times we got up close and personal....
And then there were times, we opted to for-go the long line and just wave hello...

Day 6 - Animal Kingdom With All 15 Of Us!

This last day in Disney Parks was at Animal Kingdom. This second trip for us was much more unplanned and at ease since we had just been here 4 days ago. We took it all in, did everything that we LOVED from the first day again and tried a few new things like the Everest Roller Coaster. This was the first big roller coaster I had been on in 10 years since the Rattler and  because of the 90 minute line avoided by the use of our Fast Pass, I didn't have time to second guess my decision to ride it until I was already belted in! I am glad I did as I had a great time and was ready to go again at the end.
We got to see even more animals on this morning... it is amazing to see them so close.
Addie got to ride the Kali Water Rapids 2 more times this day and is posing here, so proud of how wet she got on the ride!
A select group of us headed to...
While the young adults were on Expedition Everest, Grandpa and YaYa took the kids on the Jungle Trek.
In "Africa" you could stop and beat the drums.
While everyone else did A Bugs Life (C  & A were a little young for the creepiness factor of it) we more closely explored the details of the carvings of the Tree of Life. More than 250 animals make up the trunk and branches. We had a great game of "I Spy" going.
The Nemo Musical was INCREDIBLE and definitely a not to be missed event!
Our final group photograph in front of the the amazing Tree of Life...
Late that Friday afternoon, it was time to wave one last goodbye to Disney World. After 6 full days and a travel day on either side, I thought we would be more than ready to head home but I have to say, I was a little sad and not quite ready to leave. I felt like we only got to see about 60% of what Disney has to offer (and that was with our super schedule & planning!)
We'll be back before you know it!
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