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

family vacations, Kate, Lexi, William

2018 Florida Vacation

Dear Kiddos,

This week was full of a lot of firsts for everyone. We took our first family vacation, you took your first airplane ride, saw the ocean (or the Gulf) for the first time, Kate went swimming for the first time and we had so much fun!

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Day 1 (Sunday):

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We woke up pretty early because of the bright sun shining through the blinds and the forecast looked promising; 70s, no wind, calm waters and sunshine all day. Grammy and I went to Walmart to get some diapers, clothes and necessities for the week. When we came back Lexi, William, Daddy and Papa were done on the beach setting up some Survivor challenges. Lexi’s competitive side came out and William loved pushing his trucks in the sand.  In the afternoon, we swam in pool and it felt amazing (80+ degrees) We rounded off the day by watching the sunset from balcony, eating William snacks (pickles rolled in cream cheese and salami), drinking Yingling beer and kiddie cocktails for the kiddos.

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Day 2 (Monday):

Dad, Bill and I started the day off on the golf course. I played 9, they played 18. floriday vaca 2018 4

When I came back, Grammy had just taken all 3 of you kids to the beach and were playing in the sand. We had a little picnic lunch on the beach of cheese and crackers before migrating to the pool. Mom’s cousin Kelly was down here with her family visiting her parents. Lexi and Ruby started to become fast friends and spent a lot of time playing mermaids.

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We walked down to Schooners for a sunset dinner and to hear/watch the cannon get shot off.

Day 3 (Tuesday)

It was pretty overcast today and rained from 11-3ish. Mom, Dad, Lexi and William went over to visit the big Alvin’s Island. What a disappointment this was. There was barely and merchandise and they didn’t have the shark tank or the alligators that they did when I was growing up. The kids ate lunch and played. William and Bill napped. Lexi, Grandma and I went to find mermaids and by the time we got back it had stopped raining. We went down to the pool to swim with Kelly’s family. Lexi shared the mermaids with the girls and they had so much fun with them in the pool.

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That evening, they planned a movie night, which is absolutely hilarious considering that is what Kelly and I used to do growing up.  While the girls watched Little Mermaid, Daddy and I went out for beers with Kelly and Josh. Although overcast, temps were in the high 60s and pretty windy/wavy.

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Day 4 (Wednesday)

We woke up early from sun again, but it was deceiving as it was pretty cold! We had a high of 63 and it was very very windy. All 7 of us headed inland a little bit to a conservatory to see if there was a good spot to take pictures. We didn’t find anything but had a nice little walk. We came back, ate some lunch and Papa took Lexi and William swimming.

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Bill and I went to St. Andrew’s park to scope out picture locations and found a few good spots. We came back got the kids ready for pictures and took them down by the Pier in St. Andrews park and watched the sunset.

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After dinner, we did a ‘midnight’ swim and Lexi went over to Ruby and Pearl’s for an ice cream treat.

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Day 5 (Thursday)

Similar to Wednesday, the sun was shinning but it was cold (high of 62) and windy. Daddy and Papa went golfing in the morning so Grammy, Mama and the kids checked out Pier Park, but didn’t get out as it was just shopping and then headed to Bayou Joes for lunch over the water. Afterwards, I took Lexi and William swimming while Kate napped and then had a low key night with any early bedtime.

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Day 6 (Friday)

Papa, Daddy and I golfed at 7:30 and it was chilly (45 degrees). I headed home after 9 holes and Papa and Daddy continued for another 9. When I came back, we headed down to the beach to dig for some shells.

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It was a beautiful day. Sunny and no winds (finally!) We had a picnic lunch and walked to regency for ice cream/beer/visit with mommy’s Uncle Joe, Aunt Micki and cousin Brian. Walking back on the beach, the waves had created these sand walls and William LOVED to walk along the edge of them as they would crumble before his feet. After more swimming at the Summer House, we ate some Pizza for dinner and the kids both feel asleep very early (William at the counter). I packed to get ready to head back home tomorrow.

Then Saturday morning we headed back home which concludes our first (of many) family vacations.

Love,

Mama