Sunday, September 29, 2013

Disney Day 1 - Hollywood Studios

We checked into our resort around 9, picked up our stroller which we was delivered to the resort by the rental company, Kingdom Strollers, and headed to Hollywood Studios. (I'll talk more about the stroller rental later...I'm going to do a tips and advice post after I cover all our days at the parks.) It poured on the way to the park but stopped about the time we got there...yay! The girls were pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing and not sure what to make of an amusement park but about 2 minutes into the park Emmie spotted Donald and she was SOLD. She was so excited and wanted to go over and get his autograph. (I had purchased some cute Disney autograph books from Etsy and before we left I explained to Emmie that she could get the characters to sign them and then when we got home we could add pictures and she would have the book to look at whenever she wanted.)  I was so impressed that Emmie walked right up to Donald with her pen and book in hand. I wasn't sure how Ellie would respond to the characters but she was quite happy to be right next to Donald as long as I was holding her which I thought was pretty good for a 2 year old!
We got picked to trial Disney's new Magic Bands (I'll explain more about that later) and part of having the Magic Bands is that you can pick 3 attractions each day to get Fast Passes for before,  you ever get to the park and once you're at the park you can change your selections if you need to (which I did a number of times so I found this feature quite useful). When all was said and done we ended up with FPs for the Beauty and the Beast show, Toy Story Midway Mania, and the Little Mermaid show. We actually just walked in to the Little Mermaid early because there wasn't a wait and we used the FP for Beauty and the Beast but didn't really need it as there was plenty of seating but it was nice to know before hand that we would have seat since I didn't realize how big the theater was where the show was held. I will say we were very glad to have the Toy Story FP. I had read before I went that this was a super popular ride and often it had a wait of over an hour.
So here's what we did at Hollywood Studios:
Characters: Donald, Daisy, Sorcerer Mickey, Jake (from the Neverland Pirates), and Sofia (from Sofia the First). Sofia was our longest wait, probably about 20 minutes but we got in line before she came out and once she came out the line moved quickly.

(For some reason Emmie decided she didn't want to get in the Jake picture.)

So excited to meet Sofia!

The first time we stood in line to meet Daisy she had to go take a break before we got to the front of the line so we stalked her "spot" the rest of the day and eventually got to meet her!

She LOVED getting signatures. She would stand in line the whole time with her book and pen in was so cute!

Ellie blew Mickey a kiss.

Attractions: The Great Movie Ride, Toy Story Midway Mania, and Muppet Vision 3D 
       - The Great Movie Ride is definitely geared toward a little older audience but the girls loved the boat ride and they liked the part of the ride that focused on the movies such as Mary Poppins and Singing in the Rain. I think the scarier parts just went over their heads so that was good.
       - In Toy Story you ride in a little car and shoot slime (maybe?) at the bullseye on a screen (kind of like a carnival game). This ride is also in 3D. I rode with Ellie and spent most of the ride holding her 3D glasses on but it slings you around a little and she thought that was great. Paul said Emmie also enjoyed the ride. I don't think either girl really understood the objective but they thought it was a fun ride.
    - Muppet Vision 3D is one of my favorite things at Hollywood Studios and I was just sure Emmie would love it. Nope, it was the only thing the whole time where she cried because she was scared! Crazy! She was fine until the little bug in the show "popped" way out of the screen. I guess the characters were a little too close for comfort!
Entertainment: Disney Jr show, Beauty and the Beast show and Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Enthralled with the Disney Jr show.

      -The girls both loved all the shows. They really got into the excitement of the Disney Jr show which featured many of their favorite characters. The Beauty and the Beast show was also a hit because it has a Broadway feel to it so of course Emmie just loved all the singing and dancing. We sat for a while later in front of the Sorcerer's Hat and let them play and Emmie spent the whole time organizing a show of her own starring Ellie, another little girl who was also named Emerson, and of course herself!
Taking a break in the evening by the Sorcerer's Hat. For some reason Emmie kept asking if we could go play over there. I have no idea why, maybe because it was sparkly, but once we were over there she had a great time running around and directing her "show".

Food: We ate lunch at a quick service restaurant which was pretty decent. The girls had some chicken nuggets and Paul and I had a cheeseburger. For "dinner" we ate at Hollywood and Vine. We actually ate about 4:00 because we did the dinner package where you eat and then get VIP tickets to Fantasmic, which is the nighttime show and in order to get the package you have to eat at weird times. The food was a buffet and was pretty decent (at the time we thought the food was great until the next buffet meal when we realized that all the Disney buffets are pretty much the same food) and they had an amazing dessert bar which the girls loved of course!
 I will say that I'm glad we did the dinner package because Fantasmic was PACKED. It started at 8 and we got there at 7:30ish since we knew we had reserved seats. The reserved section was already pretty full but we managed to find seats pretty close to the front. The great thing about the reserved section was that it was right in the middle of the arena so we could see everything. If you've ever been to a laser show a lot of the show was like that except the laser images were projected on a fountain. There was also lots of floats, fireworks, and appearances by lots of characters. I had read that some people thought this was too scary for small children because it involves a lot of the villans but my girls did great and I thought it was tamer than a lot of the rides and other shows at the parks.

Getting out of the park was a mess (but honestly the show was worth having to fight the crowds). We had to wait quite awhile for the bus since everyone in the park was leaving at the same time and then Emmie fell asleep while we were waiting and both girls started crying when it was time to get on the bus. I had to manage the girls by myself because Paul had to get the stroller. It was close to 10 before we were in the room with everyone tucked in bed and we were worn out! I don't think Ellie ever took a nap that day and Emmie closed her eyes for a few minutes before Beauty and the Beast but didn't really sleep.
Overall though the little girls were troopers and our first Disney Day was a success!

Disney 2013 - the journey

We got back from Disney World today so I have lots of pictures and stories to share! This post is about our trip to Orlando...

We left for Disney on Wednesday morning but we had quite the eventful few days before...Emmie started throwing up Saturday while I was at work. I called in Sunday to work and by mid day Emmie appeared to be much better. I thought we were in the clear. Until 2am on Monday morning when Ellie started throwing up. My late Monday she seemed all better. Both of my girls have only thrown up once in their entire lives and of course they pick up a virus days before going to Disney. I did the math and figured if Paul and I were going to be the next victims we would probably have it on Tuesday or Wednesday. We managed to escape, or so we thought, and the rest is a story for a different day of our Disney journey.

I have to brag a little about my girls. They were AWESOME car riders on the way to Disney. I had lots of books and other distractions packed and didn't even have to pull them out except for two books right at the end of the trip. The girls entertained each other the whole way in the of the advantages of having children 19 months apart! When we planned the trip we originally thought we would stay in Jacksonville overnight on the way down. Then after looking at our itinerary I decided that maybe we should try to get a little closer so we were aiming for Daytona Beach, which is about a hour from Disney. We decided to wait to get a hotel until the day of, just in case we needed to stop earlier. We'll surprise surprise we made it all the way to Orlando! The trip took 7 hours which included  2 quick bathroom stops and  a stop at chick-fil-a for lunch.
(This is about an hour into our trip. Apparently Ellie was tired of hearing Emmie talk!)

After we left lunch Paul and I decided that we could make it to Orlando so I got online and booked a hotel. I booked one based solely on price, a swimming pool, and free breakfast and totally scored! We stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites -Sea World and it was amazing! The pool had a wading area with a splash area and there were also a lot of other kids for the girls to play with. There was also a reasonably priced grill at the pool so we got dinner there and avoided having to get back in the car.


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

When the cat's away...

...the mouse will play!

While Emmie was at school today Ellie read Emmie's favorite book, lounged on her bed, and wore her princess apron. There are some good things about your big sister going to school!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

1st Day of 3K!

After a whole summer of anticipation Emmie finally had her first day of 3k today! We went yesterday so she could meet her teacher and see her classroom and she was so scared and nervous. It was really overwhelming for her because most of the kids were there plus their parents so it was pretty crowded in the room. Yesterday she dressed up in a Minnie Mouse dress and then sat in a corner and we read books as she looked around with big eyes. (Ellie meanwhile jumped right into playing with all the other kids!) 
Last night I laid out her clothes for today, including her bow and rubberband for her hair. This morning when I got up at 7:30 Emmie came running into my room all dressed, shoes and everything, and told me she was ready to go to school but she needed me to help her with her hair. So I went in her room and she had gotten her brush out and apparently tried to brush and fix her cute! Then she had to wait and wait until it was time to go to school as they split the class in half today and she was in the second group so she didn't go until 10:45. She was sooooo nervous on the way to school and had an iron grip on my hand walking in but once we got to her classroom she went right in and started playing. It was really nice that there were only 5 kids there at the same time so it was much less overwhelming. I'm pretty sure there were many more tears from the moms than from the kids! (Ellie, by the way, was not so pleased about the fact that she didn't get to go play again today and she spent the whole time Emmie was at school asking me when we were going to pick her up.) When I picked Emmie up she was all smiles and while she wouldn't tell me what she did at school she did tell me she liked her teachers and her new friends. I know she's going to have a GREAT year at school!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Labor Day Fun

Today Paul and I were BOTH home which hasn't happened in ages. We got up early and took the girls to the zoo which was lots of fun (and so much easier when there's another adult to help herd small children!).

When we got home from the zoo we ate lunch and then we all crashed for a few hours. I think even Emmie took a little nap! After naps we went hung out and played and then ate dinner. After dinner we took the girls outside to ride bikes. Emmie got a balance bike last Christmas and is starting to really get the hang of it and is getting a lot braver. My hope is that we can work on her balancing a lot this fall and she'll get it figured out and then we can get her a big girl bike for Christmas! This is a balance bike in case you've never heard of one.

I heard about them about a year ago when I was in the consignment shop one day and someone was talking about them. The idea is that they learn to balance on a bike that's low to the ground and then you buy them a regular bike with pedals and they never have to use training wheels because they already know how to balance. This is perfect for Emmie because as cautious as she is I'm pretty sure she would still be using training wheels in college if we started with them! (By the way, Emmie's is a Kazam bike and I highly recommend them...they have AWESOME customer service...the first bike we got had an issue with the seat and I emailed the company and someone called me within 10 minutes and talked me through some troubleshooting steps and when those didn't fix it they shipped us a new bike which we got within a few days!) After bike riding it was time for a little ice cream treat and then baths and bed!
It was so nice to have a relaxing day together as a family!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Mad Platter Camp

We have a pottery painting store in Columbia called Mad Platter and a few weeks ago Emmie went to a week long camp there. It worked out really well because they only have about four of them for her age each summer and it just happened that one of them was a week that I wasn't working on Friday. Each camp has a different theme and Emmie's week was "The Breakfast Club". They made the cutest pieces of pottery including a cereal bowl, a green egg and plate (they told the kids that when you "break" a green egg it has all different colors inside hence the different colors on the plate), 2 mugs, and a muffin plate which I think they did on some kind of spinner.
Emmie was very nervous the first day because she had never been to Mad Platter and she didn't know any of the kids in her camp but she very quickly settled in and made friends with the other kids (there were only about 6 kids in the camp which was perfect!). After the first day she couldn't wait to go back every day and she is still asking when she gets to go back!
Ellie was sad that she wasn't old enough to go (but next year she will be...yay!) so I tried to make the time Emmie was at camp special for Ellie. Camp was only 1 1/2 hours so we didn't have time to go home so some days we ran errands and we also did fun things like go to Edventure and the library.
The girls can't wait to go to camp next year and we're crossing our fingers for a "Fancy Nancy" theme (apparently last summer that was one of the themes and Emmie found out and keeps wanting to know when she can go to the "Fancy Nancy" camp)!