family vacations, Kate, Lexi, William

2019 Florida Vacation–Day 2 Animal Kingdom

Today started bright and early for all of us. Daddy and I woke up around 5:30 am to get ready, and pack the car before we woke you kiddos up around 6. Daddy brought all of our stuff to the car, we quickly got changed and headed down to get in the bus line around 6:30 am. The first bus was supposed to start to pick up people around 7, but it arrived around 6:45 and we arrived to Animal Kingdom around 7.

While waiting in line for the part to open (@8), we learned what we are doing is called gate crashing :). Around 7:30, they opened the gates and people RAN in a mad dash for Flight of Passage. Never have I seen so many adults running towards something that wasn’t an organized race. If you would have been watching from a drone, you would have thought they put a million dollars out and people were racing to get to it first. We got to the ride (in a much slower but still walking in a fast manner) and weaved our way through the line. Daddy, Lexi, Papa and Mama went on the ride while Grammy hung back with William and Kate. World of Avatar (where the ride is located) is AMAZING! There are beautiful plants everywhere, huge unexplainable boulders that appear to be floating in the air. Waterfalls all over the place.

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I wish we weren’t rushing to get on the ride so we could have observed it more. The ride itself was pretty cool. You were strapped into something to made it feel like you were riding a horse-like-creature. You put on glasses and watched a screen as you dove through forests and jungles and saw whales jumping before your eyes. They created a full sensory experience changing the sents as you went throughout the ride, sprayed water in your face or felt the mist and humidity of the jungle. Lexi was pretty nervous throughout the ride and screamed a couple times but I was proud of her for giving it a try.

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Following this ride, we high-tailed it up to the Kilimanjaro Safari to see the animals while they were still active. We saw lots of giraffes, white rhinos, elephants, gazelles, hippos, cheetas, crocodiles, antelope, kudo, ankole-watusi and much more. Highlight of this was having a giraffe pass our truck about 6 feet away.

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Once this was over, it was about 9:00, when the park opened to the public and became a little busier. We were all pretty hungry as we hadn’t eaten any breakfast. Unfortunately, that was the same thing on everyone else’s mind as all breakfast places were packed. We explored Gorilla Falls and saw lots of birds, fish and gorillas and went to find food.

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On our way to find food, we passed the bug’s life showing in the Tree of Life and decied to watch this as there wasn’t a line. I forgot how cool the tree of life is and all the animals that are carved into it all the way through the roots and the base of the trunk that we walked passed on our way into the ride.

Initially, the 3D show was a big hit with William and Lexi. They thought it was very funny. Kate was half laughing/half crying the entire show. Then, the spider appeard from the ceiling and scared the daylight out of William and Kate. Both were screaming (along with every other small child). I was about to take them out of the show when it ended.

It was about 10:30 around this time. We got a quick bite to eat and saw this cool looking bird.

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Then made our way to Dino land. First, we went to meet Scrouge McDuck (a rare character sighting).

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Then William went to play in the Dino Park and Lexi went to meet Daisy Duck–which was the only character we didn’t meet in Disneyland, so she was pretty excited.

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Lexi then joined William at the park and they had so much fun exploring, climbing up all the ropes and exploring the hidden slides, while Kate slept

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We then made our way to the triceritops ride–which was also a big hit. We grabbed some lunch (ordered all of our food on the app–so convienent to not have to wait in lines!) before heading over to the Dinosaur ride. I thought this was going to be a quite leisurly ride like A Small World. I was very wrong. It was scary and frightening and never have I ever seen William so scared in his life. He was screaming like he was about to be eaten by a dinosaur. Bill pulled him into his chest so he wouldn’t see anything and hopefully not have nightmares. #MomFail

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I did redeem myself by finding Pluto upon exisiting the ride and William thought he was pretty silly.

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After getting some pictures with Pluto we wandered around a little bit before heading to the 2:30 show of Finding Nemo. The kids thought it was OK, but weren’t as excited about it as they were about Frozen in Disneyland.

After the show, I had promised the Birthday Boy an icecream treat and there was no way he was forgetting about it.

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Next, we headed over to the area of India to see some Tigers and other Indian animals. Kate feel asleep again while we walked. While exploring one of the bird zones, I said, Oats–look at that bird right there (about 3 feet away) to which he screamed like a little girl and made me giggle a little.

We had about an hour to kill before our fastpass on the rollarcoster Mt. Everest was available and the line to meet Mickey and Minnie wasn’t too long. To our advantage–we were able to somehow use a fastpass and get to the front of the line. Lexi and William were pretty excited to meet Mickey and Minnie together and in their jungle attire.

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After that, we headed over to redeem our fastpasses for Everest. Originally, I told Lexi that I thought this was too scary for her but she was insistant upon going. It was one of the craziest rollar coasters I have ever been on. (no spoiler alerts here). While going down one of the big drops, I the force of gravity had gotten Lexi and sucked her to the outside of her seat. I pulled her back in but I think that was a little too much for her. She said she liked it and it was fun, but didn’t want to go again. So Daddy and I used the rider switches to go one more time.

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By this time, it was around 5:30ish and everyone was spent. We made a quick pit-stop in the store to look at souviners before heading to the bus.

Upon our arrival back to the hotel, we packed up the cars and began our 6.5 hour drive back to PCB. In hindsight, we should have stayed another night to enjoy the hotel a bit more, swim etc… but we all made it back to the condo by 1:30 am or so to begin our next phase of vacation.

Love,

Mama

family vacations, Kate, Lexi, William

2019 Florida Vacation–Day 1

I have been looking forward to this for months. Literally months. I was so excited to get away and enjoy some nice warm vitamin D and forget about routine and work and everything else.

We were scheduled to get out of dodge at 6:40 in the morning on Sunday the 24th. The previous Tuesday/Wednesday, reports of another snowstorm to hit us on Saturday evening into Sunday and just knew it was going to be an issue (We’ve had a large snowstorm at least twice a week this month). I called Southwest several times trying to proactively change our flight to get out sooner to avoid it all. They weren’t having it and said I could only change if I wanted to pay the difference. The challenge was, Southwest only flies to PCB on Saturday and Sundays in Feb, so the next flight there was the following Saturday, which was the day we were supposed to come home.

Sure enough, Saturday rolls around and I get the email that our flight was canceled. I get on the phone and start trying to figure something out. They said we could only fly to Pensacola or PCB, but there were no options, so I asked if we could fly into Orlando…which they said yes. So, we booked to leave at 9:40 on Sunday morning and head to Orlando. Given that we were in Orlando and the following day was William’s 4th Birthday, I wasn’t going to pass on the opportunity to take the Birthday boy to DisneyWorld, so I found an affordable hotel–which happened to be onsite at Disney (Pop Century) and gave us the ability to have Magic Hours and get into the park early, which was a huge win considering we didn’t have any fastpasses. Grammy and Papa also decided to join us on the Disney adventure and each drove a car (theirs and the rented one) 6.5 hours from PCB to Orlando. The situation wasn’t ideal, but at least we were going to get a little something extra out of the inconvenience.

Saturday night, I did some research to learn about Animal Kingdom to have a game plan, but was still very skeptical that our flight was going to take off. And by skeptical–I was a ball of nerves and kind of edgy on to whoever I was talking to.

We ended up getting about 1-2″ of snow that evening and had no challenges in taking off. Kate completely shocked me and feel asleep for a good chuck of the first flight and all was good.

We arrived in Atlanta and grabbed some lunch quick while I figured out the Disney Magical Express. We somehow we misread our tickets or the time hadn’t changed on our phones and when we showed up to board our flight to Orlando, the gate had already closed. AHHH! I was SOOOO mad and frustrated. Still am, a month later. The woman at the gate wasn’t the most helpful and put us on standby to the next flight, which was at 5:30…3 hours from now. Thankfully, another employee herd me complaining and gave us tickets. While we were waiting, Kate pooped twice…which always sucks changing a poopy diaper in public, but twice. Then, William had an incident and pooped his pants a little so Bill was cleaning out his underwear in the sink in the airport. Oh yeah, we were those people. Other than that, the kids were amazing. Amazing. They colored and didn’t complain at all.

Kate was fairly tired, and I spent about an hour and 15 min just walking the terminal with her hoping she would fall asleep in the stroller. No such luck. After a slight delay, our flight took off at 6:00.

Upon arrival in Orlando, we boarded the magical express  and arrived at Pop Century to great greeting from an excited Grammy and Papa.

We eventually arrived in our room around 9:00. We ate some pizza quick, before I headed down to the concierge to get some of our luggage and ticket stuff figured out. After about and hour and a half and two very helpful cast members–I’ve learned a couple of things:

  1. It is VERY important to make sure you list everyone that will be staying in your room when booking a hotel room at Disney.
    • If you don’t, you will have challenges getting everyone onto the Magical Express
    • You may not have the correct number of beds (even if you provide a request)
      • Which will require them to give you a different room, which will delay the arrival of your luggage (which by the way, pack swimsuits or any items that will require immediate use in your carry on as it can take up to 5 hours for your luggage to arrive in your room)
    • You will have a heck of a time getting magic bands for the unlisted guests and then connecting them to your mydisneyexperience in the app

Finally, around 12:30 am, we were back in our room, had all of our luggage. I spent the next hour going through everyone’s bags and pulling out the things we were going to need in the park and re-packing the bags so it could make for an easy departure to the park the following morning.

Love,

Mama

Lexi

Lexi is 6

Dear Lexi,

One of our family’s favorite books is The Hungry Caterpillar. We love to read it and watch the caterpillar explore all the different foods, build a cocoon and morph into this beautiful butterfly. That book is a perfect metaphor for you over this last year.

Your shy, scared and reserved personality diminishes a little bit every month and you’re blossoming into this brave, friendly and adventurous little girl. It is so fun to help guide and encourage you through these milestones and watch you transform before my eyes.

In October, you were Star of the Week at School, and you colored this amazing poster, all about you, and I think it is pretty accurate.

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Your big heart and nurturing personality couldn’t be any clearer in your relationship with your brother and sister. You adore them and they look up to you the way a mom could only dream about.

You are gentle and kind with Kate. You love to give her hugs and read books to her, make her laugh and generally make her happy. You beg to go see her the moment you hear her rustling in her crib.

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William is your BEST friend. The two of you play together for hours everyday and are pretty much attached at the hip all day long. Rarely do you two argue. You have figured out how to play with each other and integrate each of your toys into whatever you are playing. You will be playing with your Hatchamals and he will be playing with his Transformers, but you’re always playing in the same scene or house (doll house, Micky garage, magnatiles creation) and each of your toys interact with each other.

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While playing, you are definitely the ring leader and suggest where you are playing or what your characters are doing and 90% of the time William just follows your lead.

One thing we are working on is including your brother when others are around. When other kids are around, you have a tendency to ditch him for others or even play games where ‘he is the bad guy’ or just run away from him. I don’t think it is intentional and you’re not doing it to make him feel bad, I think you have such a strong desire to be liked and fit in, you’re willing to leave him out so others will like you. We spend a lot of time talking about what it feels like when others are running away from you or other friends leave you out and how that must feel to William when you do that to him. So far it hasn’t really sunk in yet as it happens a lot, but hopefully as you continue to grow and mature you’ll get it and start to stick up for him–or for other kids at school who may be getting picked on. This is by far my biggest worry for you as you get older. I worry that this desire to fit in is going to lead you down a bad path or get in the way of making decisions that are going to emphasize your strengths and get in the way of your happiness. I pray that Daddy and I and will be blessed with the right words and stories to help guide you on a path that is the best for you.

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Another fairly surprising characteristic to emerge this year is your competitiveness. It feels like everything is a competition with you. ‘Want to race up the stairs?’ ‘Who can do it faster?’ and, when we complement William on something, you always follow-up with ‘Well I did XYZ?’ or ‘What about me?’

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You are also quite the talker and can be bossy from time-to-time. It is rarely quite when you are around as you are always always talking about something (I blame your daddy on that one).

Activities

Last winter, you got a pair of ice skates for Christmas and spent a good chunk of time skating on the rink in the backyard.

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Last winter and spring you took Swimming lessons and can legitimately swim. You love to swim underwater, but still have a hard time making it down to the bottom of the pool to reach diving sticks or rings

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You completed your 2nd year of recreation dance and performed in another recital

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This summer, you played on your first soccer team and really seemed to like it. You even scored a goal (1 of 3 kids on your team)

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You also took gymnastics classes during the summer as you were begging to learn how to do a cart-wheel

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School

You participated in your first Christmas program at pre-school.

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Went on field trips to the Children’s museum and Como Zoo

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Graduated from preschool

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Then in September, you started kindergarten at St. Vincent’s. You made friends quickly, are learning to read and complain about how you don’t like Math. When you found out your teacher’s name, Mrs. Burke–you weren’t thrilled. You automatically envisioned her to be old, grouchy, with black hair and wrinkly hands (like Grandma T–as you described). She is the complete opposite and you adore her and she adores you too.

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Trips

We took our first family vacation to Florida to visit Grammy and Papa. You were giddy with excitement to ride on an airplane for the first time. You loved seeing the ocean (or the Gulf) and splashing around in the waves and swimming everyday.

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We went to camping to storybook island in South Dakota and you had so much fun exploring all of the different nursery rhymes

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Of course there were several trips to the Bothwell cabin which you just adore and a week spent with the Sampson’s up north.

lexi-sampson-cabinThen the big trip of a the year was a surprise trip to Disneyland in October. We had the BEST time and you loved the rides and meeting the princesses and characters and relished the magic that Disney brings.

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Favorites:

  • Reading & writing
  • Anything arts and crafts related
  • Legos–specifically Lego Friends (the toys, the books, the show)lexi-and-william-legos
  • Hatchimals
  • Dit-Dat (your giraffe)
  • Pajamas
  • Sweets/treats
  • Rice, chicken wild rice soup, Avacado
  • Watching YouTube
  • Swimming, riding your bike, playing with other kids
  • Being loud
  • Doc McStuffins

Lexi, you are growing into this thoughtful, helpful heart-led little girl. You are imaginative, animated, nurturing, smart and beautiful in every way imaginable. I am so proud of you and honored to be your mom.

Happy 6 sweet girl!

Love,

Mama

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