Saturday, April 20, 2013

Catching up....

Life has been nothing short of crazy around here lately.    I have not posted a thing since March 3rd which means I never even posted about my favorite holiday, St. Patty's.  My word....what has happened to this little blog??!!     I wanted to post a quick catch up to get us up to date because this blog is not only to share great ideas on decorating, crafting and organizing, but a record of my family's lives for me.

So, back to the beginning of March.....we had a great St. Patty's day and as always the little leprechauns made a complete mess of our kitchen on St. Patty's day.  Silly little guys.  They left some small toys and coins everywhere.  I didn't get a picture of the loot, but I did capture a picture of my own little leprechaun. (don't mind the MESS in the background).  I would generally try for a better backdrop, but I was lucky to get these and their shenanigans with them.

He also wore a crazy necklace and hat to school that day.  My boy LOVES St. Patty's.  My daughter has grown out of the "dressing for the holidays" gig unfortunately.

After years of asking to take Tae Kwondo repeatedly, I finally caved and my little guy started.  I was waiting and waiting thinking he would start and bag out of it like all of the other sports he had wanted to try, but HE LOVES IT!   Like loves it so much that almost every sentence contains the words Tae Kwondo or a "hi-ya".  Here he is in March receiving his yellow belt at his first belt testing.  I am so proud of him for how much he wants to practice and get better.   

Also in March was our middle school's play "Little Mermaid, Jr.".  I have to say I was quite surprised when my daughter told me she wanted to try out.  #1 because she's pretty shy with adults and she had to try out with teachers and #2 because she's always been my athlete and my son has been my "performer".   Regardless, I was thrilled when she got the part of the seahorse and was so amazed at the hard work and dedication that these children displayed.  It was a fantastic weekend and I couldn't be more proud of her!

Here she is before her first real performance with full makeup.  Yikes I am not ready for makeup yet. 

And here are a few from the play...

As for me, I have been busy with Poshed Up.  We had an extremely successful first season of Easter baskets.   Here are a few of my favorites!  I had a bunch that were not monogrammed as well, but I definitely love anything monogrammed.  These will definitely be returning to the shop next year!

And now we have started Beach Bag season.  Even though the weather is not cooperating, I am in full blown summer mode and have started our line of 2013 Beach Bags.  Here are a few so far...

I have tons more coming.   I feel like every day I find a new fabric combo I love and I'm excited to share the remaining bags by the end of April.

And last, but not least, we celebrated a fantastic Easter with family!

Thanks for still visiting this blog that I have so neglected.  I promise I have lots in store for the very near future.  We are headed on a trip to Disney very soon and I can't wait to share!

Poshed Up

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Planning a VACAY!!!!

We are getting really excited at our house as we are planning a family vacation to DISNEY!   We have been as a family three times in the last 4 years and it never seems to get old.  Every year we talk about trying new destinations and we all seem to fall back to Disney as our #1 choice.   Well, truth be told, Hawaii is at the top of my daughter's list, but as of right now it's not on our possibilities.  Maybe when they are a little older...for now we stay within a 3-4 hour flight distance only.

Even though we have been multiple times, we have had a very unique experience every time and I will share some of the things I've learned and heard when traveling to Orlando/Disney with children of from age 2 -10 years.

The first 2 times I visited with children were before my son was born and we did all things princesses.  My mom and I took my daughter alone and we had a ball.  Here are a few highlights.

She was 3 years old on this trip and I made sure we saw every single princess.  It was exhausting.  Some of the highlights to see the princesses were of course breakfast at the Castle and dinner in Norway at Epcot.  Great way to see many of them!   She was super shy around everyone, but she adored Jasmine and was thrilled to meet her.

The prettiest Belle yet...

My favorite Disney picture ever...pure joy!

We also made time for a few characters as well.  This trip was more about who we saw than what we did.  We fit in a few rides along the way, but we were all about the princesses.

The next trip was when she was 5 years old and we were still excited about the princesses much more about the rides this time.  I was pregnant with my son at this point so I didn't do too many rides, but thankfully she's not too much of a thrill seeker anyway.  She still loved the characters though...some highlights.

The first time we went as a family 4 years ago was unique indeed.  My son was only 2 years old and ended up with the stomach bug in a big way on day 3.  He ended up in the ER there and it made for a very sad end to our trip.  We did however have both Grandmas on that trip and we had a blast...for 3 days at least.

We spent Easter in Disney that year and had breakfast at Chef Mickey on Easter morning with one sick little boy.  He was such a trooper.

We also experienced Universal Studios for the first time that trip because my little guy was such a big Barney fan at the time, but he really couldn't enjoy himself because he was so sick.   We actually ended that day early to head to the ER when we saw that he was going downhill fast.

Some highlights from that trip included:

TRex Cafe at Downtown Disney
While the food here is not extraordinary it is good and the experience is great for kids.  It is the sister restaurant to the Rainforest Cafe and offers all of the same "effects" that it does with a prehistoric theme.   We really enjoyed this, but I would highly recommend reservations or you will wait.  We were able to walk right in with our reservation.   On a side note, my experience with any reservations in Disney and especially with character dining is to make them early.  It is also better to make them and cancel 48 hours prior than to miss out.   I know some people don't like to be tied down to a time and location, but I have found over the several visits that it is better than waiting with tired or antsy children who want to be enjoying the parks and not waiting on lines to eat.

We had a table in the main dining area, but I would recommend requesting the area where it looks like you're in a ice cave and it changes colors.  It was super cool.

Breakfast at the Hollywood & Vine in Hollywood Studios at the Disney Junior Play and Dine.

As I mentioned, I had been to Disney with my daughter 2 times previous to the trip when she was very into the princesses and we have done just about every single character dining experience Disney offers.  This was one of the best I have seen in terms of time with the characters and their interaction.

At the time my son was only 2 and he LOVED the Little Einsteins.  He had a BALL!  They put on a whole singing and dancing "show" and include the kids.   It was a great way to start the day and we were able to get to the park early and have a full day.  The characters come over to each table multiple times and are very interactive.  If you have a child who loves Disney Jr. shows, I would HIGHLY recommend this for a character meet & greet.

Chef Mickey's Breakfast at the Contemporary Resort

We definitely would have enjoyed this more had my son been feeling better, but it was nice.  It was a buffet and plenty of food.  It's a great way to see the original Disney characters (Mickey, Pluto, Minnie, etc) without waiting in line.  My only complaint was that the characters visits are extremely brief because there are lots of people in the room.  It was just long enough for a hug and a quick autograph.

Universal Studios Park

Again this would have been a better experience with two healthy kids, but for the littlest ones, this is fun.    There is a Curious George play area with water that was great, a Barney show and play area that was great and some other smaller attractions in addition to the bigger people rides.

I have to add that if for some reason you do have to visit a hospital while visiting Disney, they were fantastic. It was not crowded thank goodness and they were wonderful to him.

Our next visit was two years later and that time we also went over Easter break and stayed at the Nickelodeon Hotel.   While the hotel grounds were fun, we did not like the hotel at all.  As I've mentioned many times before, my son has very bad food allergies which require us to have a full kitchen to cook his food and refrigerate.   Although Disney is supposed to be fantastic for children with allergies, he has so many that it is just easier for us to pack it and bring it with us everywhere we go.    Back to the hotel....they had promised us all along that we had a "full" kitchen when in reality we had a microwave, refrigerator and toaster.  It made it very difficult without a stove.

In addition, we thought the hotel was WAY too crowded and not so clean.  It felt like Spring Break back when I was in college and barely noticed what my room looked like because I was out all night.  Here is a glimpse of the pool.

We definitely would not stay there again.   I felt like we spent a lot of time waiting on things or on a line at the hotel.  Not what you want on a vacation.  The only thing we did like was the character breakfast at the hotel with the Nickelodeon characters.

Some highlights from that trip included:

Beauty & The Beast Show at Hollywood Studios
This was the trip that my son (yes, my son) was OBSESSED with Belle from Beauty & The Beast.   If you have a Belle lover, I would highly recommend the Beauty & The Beast show.

It is like a short Broadway production and SO WELL DONE.  I have seen it multiple times and it never gets old.  It is also a great shaded place to sit after a lot of walking.

New"er" Meet & Greet Area at Magic Kingdom

This was the year that the newer meet & greet area in the front of the park debuted (or so I think) where you could go in one of two lines to either wait to meet the traditional characters or the princesses.  Of course we did both.   If you go during typical dinner hours you will not wait.  We breezed right in.  Did I mention that my son was OBSESSED with Belle???  That ear to ear grin says it all.

And right after we met the beautiful Belle and several other princesses, we breezed right into the line for Mickey and Minnie.

Tom Sawyer Island at Magic Kingdom's Frontierland

I think this is one of those areas that people feel like they could either take it or leave it and I have to say that I honestly felt the same way originally.  My daughter begged to go and while my son took a nap, we hopped on the quick boat ride over to Tom Sawyer Island.  It was really neat and very shaded for the most part.  It's a great change of pace for the older children and fun to explore.  Give yourself about 30 mins though because you'll need it.

The afternoon parade at Magic Kingdom

We love the parades.   We found a great spot to watch the afternoon parade at the Magic Kingdom and as you tell from my pictures, we were super close and some of the characters came right up to us.   The spot is directly in front of the Frontierland Shootin' Arcade.  You'll need to get there about 30 mins prior to the start of the parade, but there are drink stands, ice cream stands, and benches very close by.  The only bad part is that there is not a ton of shade here, but it's a great viewing location!!

All in all, that was a great year for us with everyone healthy and tons squeezed into a very busy time of year at Disney.  Easter is VERY crowded but so fun.  The highlight of the whole trip for me was the Easter character breakfast at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian.  It is a great buffet, beautiful location and different characters that you really don't see anywhere else including  Mary Poppins and Alice in Wonderland and friends.   We got there early and were able to take part in the hotel's egg hunt on the back lawn which was so beautiful.  Mickey and Minnie were even there in the Easter adorable!!!

Last year was our favorite visit yet.  I don't know if it was because the kids were another year older or what, but we had a BLAST.  We stayed at the Orange Lake timeshares and LOVED it.  My husband's friends gave us their timeshare for the week for a great cost and it was perfect.  If you have the opportunity to stay there, I would recommend it for sure.  It was super clean and had tons to do for the kids!

Some highlights from that trip included:

Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom

On our first day we went to Animal Kingdom and I loved it.  The kids did too, but I think I loved it the most.  While there is a lot of walking at this park there are so many opportunities to see wildlife including the safari. You really need to get there early because it is less crowded and these say the animals are more active.  It was amazing.

Character Meet & Greets at Animal Kindgom

There are several areas to meet characters at this park and these seemed less crowded to me than the other parks.  Also, the characters were dressed differently and it made it a little different.  Again, dinnertime is a great time to see characters without the wait.

Yak & Yeti Restaurant at Animal Kingdom

Now as much as I love everything about Disney and the parks, I do not like the food choices.  I have to say that it is very hard to eat healthy at the parks and with my husband being a vegetarian, it makes it even harder.  But....we loved the Yak & Yeti restaurant.  We had an early lunch there and had no wait.  It was great!!  We sat upstairs and the kids loved looking out the windows too.

Epcot's Flower & Garden Show

We did not plan our trip to coincide with the Flower & Garden Show, but it was so great that it did.  It is absolutely beautiful and I just read somewhere that each display takes 3 years to plan and grow too I suppose.  It was so neat.  I only snapped a few pictures of the "key" Disney characters, but they were everywhere in Epcot.

And this was the garden at Canada.  Not sure if it always looks this incredible or was for the Flower Show, but it was breathtaking.  And especially so when it's still chilly at home where our trip originated!

Epcot's Character Meet & Greet Spots

Who would have thought that there would be so many great character spots at Epcot?   I certainly didn't many years back when my daughter was obsessed with the princesses.  You can see so many of them here at Epcot and still have so many things to do for adults.  

On a side note, we thought my little guy's love of Belle was past, but.....when we spotted her this past year he was beyond smitten.  True love never dies I suppose.  She was so sweet to him and kneeled down to him to chat.  The funny part to me is that he was not even fazed by the giant Beast standing right next to him.  While the Beast was hugging him he was staring at Belle...too cute!

His anticipation....

And in Morocco you can see Jasmine and Aladdin...

Universal Studios Islands of Adventure - Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This year we went back to Universal Studios, but tried out the other park Islands of Adventure specifically because we wanted to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  My daughter had recently become very interested in Harry Potter and had read the first few books shortly before our trip and my son had LOVED him for a long time.  Remember this costume for Halloween 2011???

To say it was cool is an understatement.  It was so realistic and you felt like you were right there at Hogwarts.  Even the employees dressed and spoke the part...accent and all.   We LOVED it, but it was ridiculously crowded.   We went straight there when the park opened and it was already mobbed.   If you or someone in your group is a Harry Potter fan, this is a MUST!

Butterbeer of course...

Suess Landing at Universal Studios

This was another very cool area with rides for the smaller kids and the highlight for us was meeting Thing 1 and Thing 2 and the Grinch.

Matching outfits were not planned...

His best Cat in the Hat imitation.

The Amazing Adventures of SpiderMan Ride at Universal Studios

This was my family's favorite ride.   I have to say that all of the rides at Universal Studios are bumpy and more thrilling than Disney's parks if you compare age and height requirements.  Let's just say my little guy would never have been able to ride this if it was at Disney.   But...he LOVED it.  He's my thrill seeker for sure.  It is a 3D ride and very bumpy.

Right around the corner from the ride you can meet SpiderMan himself.  The green screen is to buy their photographs with custom SpiderMan backgrounds.  After as many trips as we've experienced here those are the things we skip.

Star Wars at Hollywood Studios

Now that my son is older we were able to try out a bunch of new "boy" things at all of the parks and are slowly moving away from the princess things...BOO!   I have to say that the Jedi Training Academy was super cool.   You can try to have your own child involved in the "show", but you have to get there super early to sign up and we only spent a few hours at this park that day so it didn't work out.  Watching the show was equally as fun though.

We also loved the Star Tours ride next to the show and you can FASTPASS it and then go right after the show!   After the ride, as with all Disney rides, you are dumped into the store.  We let our son build his own lightsaber which he loved.  

Magic Kindgom's Pirates of Caribbean

I can't even begin to list all of the things I adore about the Magic Kingdom.  I literally get teary every time we catch our first glimpse of the castle from the monorail.  My family probably thinks I'm nuts, but I just love it there.  Thankfully we have 2 full days planned for our upcoming trip since I always feel rushed.  I don't know if it's the music, the amazing staff, the entertainment and rides or the fact that it's a big park and my 11 year old will actually hold my hand for fear of getting lost, but I just love it all.

We loved the Captain Jack Sparrow pirate training.   My son was picked to get on stage and it was so fun to watch.  Sidenote, it would appear that my daughter doesn't get to do anything, but she is not one to want to go on stage or be in the spotlight quite like my son.  But, she loves to watch.  We let each child pick 2 "must see" or "must do" things for each park each day and we make sure we tackle them.  This was at the top of my son's list!!!  Oh and the hair braiding was at the top of hers as you can see from every picture!

I still think this is Johnny Depp because it looked EXACTLY like him....

Mickey's Phillarmagic

I have seen this show a zillion times and it never gets old.  This is my "must see" and they always oblige.

Magic Kingdom at Night

There are no words....just magical.    The fireworks are amazing and there are street performers and staff to entertain you while you wait.  The electric parade is amazing too.  A tip I learned this year, stay in the park after the parade and don't rush out.   The park is much quieter on Main Street if you hang around!

Downtown Disney

This is always our first and last stop on the trip.  We generally head to Downtown Disney for dinner on our first night and then again on our last.  This last trip we had lunch on our last day at Fulton's Crab House and it was great.   It was super quiet during the middle of the day too because everyone is at the theme parks.  We spent a morning at a park and did lunch at Downtown Disney and the afternoon swimming at the hotel.  It was a great end to our trip.

Our favorite spot at Downtown Disney is of course the World of Disney store.  My children work like dogs around the house before we go to stash away a little extra spending money.  They spend some here and there throughout the trip, but they always seem to save it for this store because it has so many fun things.

We went home with many "weapons".....interesting for the airline going through our luggage I'm sure.

While she wouldn't be caught dead in this I was able to get a quick shot!

We have been blessed enough to enjoy many laughs and smiles on all of our trips and we are so excited to go again this year.  I'd love to hear any tips or ideas you have to make it even more enjoyable!

Poshed Up