Friday, February 27, 2015

Coffee Date Friday: Snow Bust Edition

Hi there! Welcome to (virtual) Coffee Date Friday! We had cancelled/delayed school every day last week. We had cancelled/delayed school two days this week. So. Yes. You could say I need some coffee this morning, and likely, with a little healthy splash of Bailey's. ;)

On that note, I would first ask about YOU. About what your weather has looked like the last two weeks. About what you've been up to since we last chatted. About what the weekend holds. After being properly saturated in all things you, I would share the following:

...that Monday was a good day. Monday was dinner out with girlfriends on a cold night. It does my heart GOOD to have Momma Nights Out, and we have now started a monthly MNO, where we dine out, drink wine, share advice, laugh a lot, and enjoy the joy that is great girlfriends. I'm already looking forward to our dinner next month.

...that we started the week with a little snow. Which is funny, because we had no snow all last week and yet the kids had cancelled/delayed school every day, yet we actually got snow this week but school was still in session...the first day at least. This meant that Harrison and I got to enjoy his first ever snow together, just the two of us, and then Banks and Raleigh joined in the fun and made grass snow angels as soon as we pulled in the driveway from preschool pick-up. I just love a (temporary) winter wonderland.

But then? Then Wednesday night happened. Then the BIG SNOW of 2015 was promised. Five to eight inches they said. Get your sleds ready they said. So. We did what an good Southerner would do: hit the liquor store and made plans for lots of snow fun with neighbors. And then woke up to this:

Womp Womp. I was seriously SO bummed. But. I wanted to make sure the kiddos still had a fun day at home with Momma. So. I busted out a couple new toys I had secretly confiscated immediately after they unwrapped them on Christmas morning. We logged lots of reading time and play time together. And then, while they napped/room-timed, I set up a little surprise in the playroom...their own streamer-beam obstacle course. It was a hit! Take that snow bust of 2015. 

...That I have a new obsession. I've mentioned it before but I'll say it again: Pure Barre. The absolute best workout I've ever had. I've been hitting it hard the last week and I can't get enough. I've never felt my muscles burn so much I want to cry. About mid-way through each class, I swear I'm never coming back, and then as soon as it's over, I can't wait for the next one. If you live in the vicinity of a Pure Barre, I HIGHLY recommend you give it a try. And it's even more fun when you go with a group of girlfriends! 

...That the super-duper fun and exciting news I keep annoyingly mentioning will be revealed by the end of the weekend. Make sure you check back here. It'll benefit YOU!

...And, last but not least, my baby boy, who stole what was left of my heart with the first breath he took, just so happened to turn 10 months this week. 

My sweet, sweet Harrison is just growing up before my eyes. He absolutely adores his big brother and sister. The feeling is mutual. Banks cannot WAIT to see his little brother each morning, and Raleigh wants to hug him first thing. In the last week, Harrison has done a great job of eating finger foods for every solid meal (mainly soft breads and muffins). HOWEVER, he will NOT feed it to himself. He sits back, relaxes, and insists on momma feeding it to him. He will play with the food. He will feed bits of the food to momma. But he will NOT feed himself. He also refuses to use a sippy still, despite multiple daily attempts to show him, model for him, teach him, etc. Oh, this boy. He does things at his own pace, which ultimately reminds me to chill out and stop putting pressure on him and myself. In other news, Harrison is making great strides with walking--he cruises like a champ and loves pushing his walker. He is also great at throwing a small ball! Seriously-it's pretty awesome! He loves to try and mimic what we say, too, and has that sweet, backwards-hand-clenching wave down pat. He is amazing, and we adore him.

And with that, I would wish you the happiest of weekends. This is the only weekend for awhile that we have ZERO plans on our calendar. And my hub has a good deal of travel coming up; so, I'm hoping we can relax and play and go wherever the weekend leads us. I hope your big plans, or no plans, weekend suits you just as well! Have a great one! And remember to check back over the weekend for the big, fun reveal!

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Me, A to Z

Hi all! From time to time, I have posted little tidbits about moi (here and here) as a way of saying, "Hi! This is me! Flaws and craziness and all!" Since you take the time out of your busy day to read and support my blog, I think it's only fair that I am honest about who I am, at this stage of life, even though it does feel a little silly and, honestly, somewhat egotistical. So. Feel free to stop 

Still here? Okay then. A couple weeks ago, my sister "in law" posted this cute blog idea, which she originally saw from another blog (gotta love the blogging connections), and I thought I'd give it a whirl, too, as a different and fun way of re-introducing myself. So. Here's me, from A to Z:

A - Age - 34. I love my 30s. I feel more confident in who I am while recognizing there is still much to learn and many great ways I can grow. My favorite decade yet. ;)

B - Bed Size - King. We bought a new bed, and one of those super comfy mattresses, about a year ago, and I absolutely love being able to sprawl out and sink in, even with having a hub who is pretty tall. 

C - Chore you hate - Loading the dishwasher. My hub says, almost daily, "You're great at many things, but loading the dishwasher isn't one of them." Ha! 

D - Dogs - We have one dog, a miniature yorkie named Cooper. He was a wedding gift and will turn 11 on May 6th!

E - Essential to Start Your Day - Is this a joke? Coffee. I have a LARGE cup in the morning and, usually, another splash in the afternoon; however, I make sure not to drink any caffeine after 4:00 pm so that I can fall asleep easily and not toss and turn all night.

F - Favorite Color - Navy blue, with hot pink coming in a close second.

G - Gold or Silver - Gold.

H - Height - 5'7". Although I think I'm shrinking... ;)

I - Instruments You Play - None. Although I would LOVE to play the drums. Actually, my hub gifted me with a drum lesson for a wedding anniversary gift one year, and I loved it!

J - Job Title - For now, stay-at-home momma. We'll see what the future holds...

K - Kids - Three. The little loves of my life: Banks (age 5), Raleigh (age 3), and Harrison (almost 10 months). There are many times I think that I would love to have a fourth, but this shop is closed.

L - Live - In Fort Mill, South Carolina, where we intend to stay. We absolutely LOVE our new home town. We think it's an incredible place to raise our children and have made some very dear friends here. I am always recruiting (can you tell?) and could sing the Mill's praises over and over again. I was born and raised in South Carolina (with the exception of living in Toronto, Ontario for two years as a child) and lived in Atlanta, Georgia, for 9 years before relocating to Fort Mill 2.5 years ago.

M - Movie - Fried Green Tomatoes. Oh, how I love this movie!

N - Nickname - Linds, Lindser, Lu, Meek, Meekster.

O - Overnight Hospital Stays - Thank the good Lord, only my postpartum stays after having my babies. And I do love that newborn "hospital bubble." 

P - Pet Peeve - People who are habitually late. 

Q - Quote - "What doesn't kill us makes us stronger" has always rung true for me. But. I also saw this the other day and it made me giggle. My hub could attest to this one: "I'm not arguing. I'm explaining why I'm correct." Ha! 

R - Righty or Lefty - Righty.

S - Siblings - 3.5 and 2. Confused? Let me explain. I have three--biological siblings (an older brother and two younger sisters). We are extremely close. <3 I also have an older half-sister who is no longer in touch with myself nor my siblings. And I have two step-siblings (a younger brother and sister), who have been a close part of my family since my momma married their daddy over 13 years ago. 

T - Time You Wake Up - Most days, sometime between 5:00 and 6:00 am, on my own, with no alarm. I like to get up, eat my breakfast, drink some coffee, do my devotional, and get myself dressed and ready for the day before the rest of the house stirs. On the rare occasion I "sleep in," I'll wake up at 6:30 am and will have to forfeit much of that solitude and quiet time since my kiddos tend to be early risers.

U - University You Attended - Clemson. Woot! Woot! It's where my hub and I met and fell in love, and we are proud alumni.

V - Vegetable You Dislike - None, really. I could very easily be a vegetarian.

W - What Makes You Late - I try to very, very rarely be late (see above), but when I am, it's usually because a last-minute diaper change is needed for my littlest guy.

X - X-Rays - Just dental, although I had a CT scan of my brain last year to address some sinus/allergy stuff I had going on and make sure there want anything scary lurking. There wasn't. 

Y - Yummy Food - Mashed potatoes and gravy. Crab legs. Don't make me choose! 

Z  -  Zoo Animal - To be honest, I don't really like animals all that much. Maybe a Clemson Tiger? 

So. There you have it. Anything you want to share about YOU? :) 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Coffee Date Friday: Brrrrr Edition

Hi friends! Just a quick, virtual coffee date today, as I'm hitting the road bright and early to drop off Banks and Raleigh for a long weekend visit with their Nana and Pop and cousins. They are SO excited for all the fun that lies ahead, and I am SO excited to give my Harrison a little one-on-one attention after being away at Disney last week. 

Were we meeting for coffee, I'd want to hear about how you celebrated Valentine's Day last weekend and what you have planned for this weekend. I'd want to know if you had any of the FRIGID temps we have had this week and whether you capitalized on the cold weather by ice sledding or hibernating in front of a warm fire or both. I would then share the following tidbits about moi:

...That I just need to share a real God moment that I experienced this week: I was having a challenging day. While wrestling Harrison for the umpteenth time that day during our bajillionth diaper-and-clothes-changing and nose-wiping session (the kid is strong, fast, and persistent in his strong dislike for said sessions), I became frustrated. I was just physically exhausted from wrestling him all day. And I work very hard, every day, to be a hands-on, present, actively involved momma. This is my job. And I love it. I also spend a good deal of time most weeks helping other mommas out, trying to make this momma-ing journey easier and more enjoyable for them. Yes, I absolutely love it. But. My momma job can be thankless at times. And that's fine: I don't need a pat on the back for every boo-boo I kiss, every load of laundry I put away, every preschool social calendar I fill, every letter sound I teach, every momma I help. BUT. I had a moment of weakness the other day. I was sweating. I was tired. I was exasperated. I felt unappreciated. I felt like I was doing my best to help everyone around me but was selfishly wanting a little "Good job!" in return. Silly isn't it? I don't deserve applause for doing my job. I am paid in laughs and smiles and snuggles and joy. But, if I'm being honest, I wanted it in that moment. Without thinking, I pleaded, out loud, while sweating in the middle of yet another wrestling diaper changing session: "God, I just need someone to say thank you. I just want someone to appreciate all that I'm doing, every day, for everyone else that I can. 'Cause this is hard. I just need a little thank you." I literally said that out loud, in the middle of Harrison's nursery. Isn't that silly? Isn't that selfish? Superficial? But it was a tough day. And I was desperate for a little praise. And then. Guess what happened. Are you ready for this?

The next day, the VERY next day, after I selfishly pleaded for God for just a small little bit of completely undeserved gratitude, I received the most beautiful and completely unexpected letter in the mail, from someone who is very special and very, very important to me. It was a THANK YOU letter. Not only that, it was the best thank you letter I have ever received in my entire life. It was beautifully written and so genuine and just so lovely. There were tears. Followed by a fist pound to the Big Guy upstairs. You can't make this stuff up. God is listening. Even when requests may seem silly or small or selfish. He is listening. 

...That we had a fun Valentine's last weekend: We surprised the kiddos with some fun treats, festive decorations, and a special breakfast first thing in the morning. Raleigh and I then ventured right up the street to go to an adorable princess birthday party for one of her sweet friends, and Banks and his daddy went on a hike in the woods after that. Once they returned, several girlfriends and I hit up Pure Barre for an afternoon workout. OhmydearLord. I was sore for three days. It was the BEST workout, and I'll be hitting it hard over the next 4 weeks. If you've never been to PB but have one near you, go, go, go!!! It is so fun and the most amazing toning, burning workout! Anywho, we concluded our Valentine's with my sweet hub making me a full platter of crab legs while he and the kiddos dined on some scrumptious steak. I, being the wild party animal that I am, was asleep on the couch before 10:00 pm. You can take the girl out of the party... ;) Seriously, though, it was a great day, and we concluded the weekend by hosting some awesome friends and their kiddos for dinner. 

...That I was able to spend extra time with my kiddos this week, seeing as how we had President's Day holiday on Monday, no school due to ice on Tuesday, and delayed school opening (again, due to ice) on Wednesday AND Thursday (and today, as well, but the kids are skipping school today!). We basically hibernated and had so much fun doing it together: playing with this month's Kiwi Crate, reading lots of books, doing puzzles, practicing walking, playing marbles, having a special, non-Friday-night movie showing, playing Peter Pan, having dance parties, wearing princess dresses, etc. You name it, we did it. 

...That I have a SUPER-DUPER, fun, and exciting announcement coming soon! And it will benefit YOU, too, my dear friends and family, who are so kind to support me on my lil' 'ol blog. Stay tuned!

And that's it for me this week! We have plans to have dinner with friends tomorrow and keep the church nursery on Sunday, and I'll also be hitting up Pure Barre a couple times this weekend (have I yet mentioned I am in L.O.V.E. with this workout?! More on that in a future post). Above all, though, we'll be staying safe and cozy. And I hope you stay warm, enjoy that coffee, and I'll see you back next week!

Have a great weekend. <3

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Disney Tips, Take 2

Any momma who's been to Disney, or is planning a trip as we speak, knows how overwhelming and intimidating it can be. Fun, magical, special, awesome? Yes. All those things. But intimidating? Yes. Definitely. I think, for me, I feel overwhelmed during the planning, prepping, and packing stages because I want to make the most of our trip. So. I do a lot of those three Ps: planning (6 months in advance), prepping (several weeks in advance), and packing (several days in advance). 

I wrote a very, VERY detailed blog post right after we returned from our first trip to Disney two years ago, which includes links to several awesome resources to help others with planning, prepping, and packing. So. For the many people who have contacted me with questions or seeking help or guidance, I refer you to that post first. It's what I used as a refresher when doing my three Ps for this trip. Please make sure you read it!

However. Now that we're back from Disney trip #2, there are a few updated tips I thought I could add to hopefully make your trip planning more on the easy-breezy side and less on the oh-sweet-Jesus-help-me side. 

So. Here are a few new tips from me to you:

Make the travel fun! Although we flew to Disney for our last trip, we opted to drive this go-round. And honestly? It was really fun! We let the kids watch Disney movies the whole way there, and I prepared special, surprise car activity bags, which I gave them as soon as we were pulling out of the driveway. They loved them! The bags contained everything from color sheets and games to special car snacks and costumes. It definitely made the trip a special one for them. It was also fun for my hub and I, who were able to just catch up and talk, talk, talk while we drove from South Carolina to Florida. Oh, just like last time, we started a very special countdown 10 days before we left for our trip, which the kids just loved!

Help for the nursing momma: If you are a nursing momma, have no fear! Disney has special "Baby Care Centers" at every park. I didn't know this until a dear friend and Disney aficionado (her hubby used to be one of the Disney characters!) texted me when we were en route. This saved me a lot of worry about where I would be able to plug in my pump at each park. The "Baby Care Centers" were really nice: there was plenty of space for mommas who had their infants with them at the park and needed a place to nurse as well as for those of us who were infant-free but in need of a central pumping location. I opted to pump and dump my milk since I am so close to being done with breastfeeding (less than 3 months to go!). BUT. For those wanting to save their pumped milk, there were refrigerators for milk storage. There were also sinks to rinse and clean all pump parts, and the rooms were a really nice and comfortable environment. I also used my pump times as opportunities to charge my phone to increase my battery life since I was snapping pictures (and thus, using up the battery) all throughout the day. So. Remember to throw your phone charger in your pumping bag as well. Oh, and although I was told there would be a place in the care center to store your pump, this was not the case. It was no big deal for me: I have the bookbag version and just wore it throughout the park all day; however, there were lockers available for rent if other pumping mommas out there don't want to carry their pumps all around Disney. 

Dress for comfort: Clearly, this depends on what time of year you go. Both times we've gone so far, it's been February, with Florida temps ranging from 40s/50s in the mornings to upper 60s/70s in the afternoons. For me, this translated to jeans and a Piko top the first day (with long sleeves to keep me warm in the morning but lightweight enough to keep me perfectly comfortable in the afternoon) and a button-up, vest, and scarf the second day (key word: layers). As far as shoes go, Disney isn't the time to try to rock adorable wedges. As seen in the graphic I shared during my previous post, you'll be walking a LOT. For goodness sake, wear comfortable shoes (for me, broken-in flats the first day; tennis shoes the second). Same goes with your kiddos' clothing: make sure they have lightweight jackets/sweaters and comfortable shoes (as well as ponchos, if needed, as they were in our case).

You are what you eat: We get the Deluxe Disney Dining Plan when we go. This means all meals/snacks are ready and waiting for us when we arrive. However, try to make all meal reservations 6 months in advance for prime eating times and to ensure a spot at the highly popular character meals. Keep in mind, this means you'll need to know which park(s) you are visiting which days so that you can make your meal plans accordingly. I called and spoke with a Disney meal planner who helped me sort all that out based on which parks we would be visiting. Also, eat a LOT. No really. Most of the meals are buffet style. You'll be going full-speed ahead, most of the time, most of the day, so you'll need those calories to keep the energy up (and even more if you're a nursing momma--we all know how many calories all that pumping/nursing burns!).

Technology is your friend: Download the "My Disney Experience" app on your phone. No, seriously. Download it now! This thing is AWESOME! I had it linked with our meal reservations as well as our FastPass reservations (more on that in a minute), and it was so great to have those reminders readily available on my phone. Also, and this is amazing, I could see the wait times for different rides, LIVE, when using the app! Isn't that awesome? It really helped us decided where/when to go next (as did the detailed itinerary I  created in the weeks prior to our trip. See my 2012 post for more on that). And as far as FastPasses go, you can reserve three FastPasses per day, and they allow you to schedule these two months (I think? I can't remember but they'll send you a reminder in the mail beforehand) ahead of time. This is why it's good to have a good idea about which rides/shows/character greetings are high priority for you. Go ahead and reserve your FastPasses and then you can plan your day around that, as you'll know which areas of the parks you'll need to be in at certain times and can hit the rides around that area before/after. 

This is part of the flexible itinerary I created for our trip, which included our meal reservations and FastPasses. This helped us get the most bang for our buck BIG time!

Take advantage of the magic!: Make sure you are signed up to receive Magic Bands. These are new since our last trip and are incredible. Basically, everyone in your party gets one of these bands (you can select the color for each person-so fun!) and not only does it serve as your Disney resort room key (just hold your band up to the door and it unlocks-so cool!) but your credit card and identification are linked to it. What does this mean? YOU DO NOT NEED TO TAKE A SINGLE PHOTO ID, CREDIT CARD, NOR CASH into the parks with you. All you need is your Magic Band. No really! Your meal plan is linked to this, too. Want to buy souvenirs? Swipe your Magic Band. Have Fast Passes? Swipe your Magic Band. Need to pay for your meals? Swipe your Magic Band. It is the best!

Say cheese: There are professional photographers at every character greeting to snap your photo. Indulge them. They'll insist. But also? Ask them to take your photo with the characters using your OWN camera (whether DSLR or iPhone or whatever else you use). They don't mind and that way you get your photos for free. Plus, this will allow YOU, momma, to actually be IN some of the family photos. ;) 

Two birds with one stone: You know how I said to book meals six months in advance to reserve good times/characters? Well, keep in mind that when you book character meals (i.e., meals that have set characters assigned to be there, who walk around to each table to meet your kiddos and snap photos with them), you are freeing yourself from having to hunt down said characters in the parks and wait in lines to meet them. So. Book the character meals. Meet the characters. Snap the photos. ---> More time to ride rides, take in shows, and avoid character greeting lines. 

Plan for the unexpected: If it's not abundantly clear by now, I am a planner. An organizer. A prepper. I actually enjoy these things (what is wrong with me?). Thus, it probably comes as no surprise that the backpack my hub carried throughout the park (which is the only thing we carried [aside from my pump]), which housed our "good camera" and our jackets, also included a little first aid kit "just in case" we should need bandaids, chapstick, sunscreen, etc. There are certainly first aid stands available in the parks, but it was nice having our own kit readily available should we need it. And whatever you do, don't forget the hand sanitizer!

Take it all in: Yes, we all know by now I am a photo-taker. I took well over 200 photos during our whirlwind trip to Disney last week. But. I also took many, many more mental snapshots. I put the camera down and tried to memorize the magic that danced across my children's faces for most of each day; what it felt like to squeeze my oldest's hand as we traipsed through the parks; how my daughter's face looked when she felt like a beautiful princess after her makeover; how my hub never tired of each swash-buckling request made by his son. All of it. I took it all in. I took mental snapshots. And I just tried to enjoy the moment. It was awesome. I'll hold tight to those mental snapshots, the ones that only the four of us experienced together, forever and always. I highly recommend it. :) 

Whew. There you have it. Just a few new tips. I hope that helps! Enjoy the magic! We'll be heading back that way in just a few short years, and the countdown is already on. I can't wait!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Disney Does It Again

Where do I start? Where in the world do I start? Maybe by saying, yet again, that Disney is the most magical place on earth. That Walt D. really knew what he was doing! 

I started writing this post in the car on the way back home from our whirlwind trip to Disney last week--I just didn't want to forget a single, solitary, magical detail of our trip. We were busy, busy, busy during our time at Disney and made more beautiful, magical memories than I have even included here in this detail- and photo-overloaded (and I mean overloaded!!!) post. And now, a day by day account of our 2015 trip to Disney:

Day 1
We left our house at 7:00 am sharp Sunday morning and pulled into our BEAUTIFUL resort around 2:45 pm. Actually, "beautiful" does not do it justice. The Grand Floridian was exquisite: lush and expansive grounds, an elegant lobby area, amazing restaurants, and our room--oh our room! We had reserved a room with a view of the Magic Kingdom so that we could watch the fireworks show from the comfort of our room at night. But. Somehow we lucked into a corner room, which was not only huge and beautiful but had two balconies with two totally separate views--one of Magic Kingdom and one of the bay/pool area. Just spectacular!

A view of the Grand Floridian from the monorail 
The beautiful main lobby area

The kids quickly changed into their swimsuits and we hit the pools for the rest of the afternoon...

...before freshening up for a special dinner, our first of four character meals for the trip. We started things off with a bang-dinner with Cinderella and friends! Raleigh's face. Bless it. She was so funny the whole trip because she loved having her picture taken with the princesses but abstained from photos with any bad guys (e.g., evil stepsisters) as well as most male characters. And by abstained, I mean clung to me like a spider monkey. 

 The moment she spotted the first princess of the trip: Cinderella <3

 Taking it all in.

 The stepsisters told Banks they wanted to marry him. He informed them he was already taken.

Nonetheless, we met quite a few characters during our trip!

Just a FEW of the many characters we snapped photos with!

We headed back to the room where we played together for a bit before hitting the sack so we'd be ready for our first day at the park!

Day 2
We were up and at 'em early for breakfast with Mary Poppins and friends. One of the things we LOVED about our resort is that we were able to then step right outside and hop on the monorail, with Magic Kingdom being the first stop. 

A special thank you to Goat & Lulu, who were able to make the outfits I envisioned come to life! And they are now available in the shop, if anyone is looking for cute Disney outfits. :) 

 They loved riding the monorail

 Princess Raleigh was SO excited!

So. We got to the park right when it opened and crammed in a full morning o' fun. While the weather was gorgeous that morning, we knew the rain was coming by mid-afternoon so we raced around the park, hitting ride after ride and meeting character after character. 

 Ready for Momma's favorite ride of the whole trip: It's A Small World

 Their sweet faces were in awe for most of the beautiful ride

 Ready for Mickey's PhilHarmagic show

 Rals kept asking to ride the horses. So. Ride the horses we did!

One of Banks' favorite rides: The Tomorrowland Speedway

We then had another character meal, lunch with Winnie the Pooh and friends, at the Crystal Palace in Magic Kingdom. Knowing the rain was coming, we divided and conquered: the boys hit Adventureland and all things pirates while Raleigh and I went off to meet Anna and Elsa and hang with Belle for a bit. The rain started about that time; so, we threw on our ponchos and headed for our appointment at the BBB. OhmydearLord. Raleigh's sweet face while she was being pampered was priceless. She had one kind lady working on her princess up-do while another did her makeup and nails. She was sprinkled with fairy dust before being turned around for the big reveal: a beautiful princess! 

Y'all. Seriously. Look at that sweet expression!
 I LOVE this photo of the sweet, supportive Daddy and Big Brother waiting patiently for the Princess Raleigh reveal

 Ta Da!

Although we originally had reservations to eat dinner at Tony's, an Italian restaurant à la "Lady and the Tramp" in Magic Kingdom, the forecast promised that the hard, steady rain would not be ending before nightfall. So. We canceled our reservation, as well as the rest of our Magic Kingdom plans for the afternoon, and headed back to the hotel, where we ended up having our most delicious meal of the entire trip at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Two words: lobster burger. Two more words: Moscow Mule. Divine. 

 My sweet boy, waiting patiently for his food

Once again, we hit the sack, getting plenty of rest for what we knew would be the busiest day of the trip...but not before being entertained by our very own Peter Pan!

Day 3
Let me start by sharing this little graph my iPhone created for me at the end of the day after having it in my pocket from the time we walked out of our room at 7:00 am until the time we returned at 8:00 pm: 

Yep! We were a busy bunch! We headed straight to Animal Kingdom, arriving first in line for our 8:00 am character meal at Tusker House, this time with Mickey and friends. 

 My girl, waiting patiently for the shuttle bus at 7:00 am

We finished our scrumptious meal, and snapped the requisite photos, right as the park opened to the public at 9:00 am. We were able to be first in line for the Safari ride, which is one of my favorite rides of the whole Disney experience and one the kids loved! 

We spent the rest of the morning playing around Animal Kingdom, taking in shows, riding rides, seeing creepy spiders and snakes (Banks' request, of course!), and meeting new character friends, too! 


We finished up everything we hoped to just in time to board the shuttle bus and head over the Hollywood Studios, where we would spend the rest of our day, with a little bit of "Frozen," a splash of "Toy Story," a side of "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids," and more. We had a BLAST throughout the afternoon!

 Mesmerized by the "Frozen" sing-a-long show

 "Honey, I Shrunk The Kids" brought back memories from own trip to Disney as a child!

 My big boy. Pure joy.

 They had SO much fun together, and were so sweet to each other, the whole trip!

We enjoyed our last character meal, this time with the Disney Jr. crew, and used the afternoon to hit the rest of the hot spots of the Studios: 

Ready to go target shooting, a la "Toy Story" style


Our day ended with our most fun meal--at the Sci-Fi Diner. I had no idea what was in store when I made this reservation six months ago! We walked in at 6:00 pm and were blown away when we saw this:

A drive-in theater experience, with old school movie scenes playing while we sat in our convertible and dined on '50s cuisine. It was awesome! My hub and I let Banks and Rals have the front seat while we sat in the back, enjoying our burgers and beer. So fun! We then headed to our last show of the day before the park closed, Fantasmic, and then made our way back to our resort.

After quick baths and showers and jammies, we snuggled up on our balcony to take in the beautiful fireworks show over Cinderella's castle in Magic Kingdom. And then, the kids were asleep within 2 minutes of their heads hitting their pillows. 

Day 4
The alarm rang out at 6:00 am, prompting us to rise, shine, and pack up our room. Because my hub had a flight scheduled at 6 PM that night out of Charlotte, we knew we needed to get going to make our 7:30 am breakfast reservation and hit the road. We ended with a bang: Chocolate chip Mickey Mouse pancakes topped with Mickey Mouse sprinkles for the kids, with a side of chocolate milk, of course!

And with that, we hopped in the car and headed home to our sweet Harrison and awesome Bammy, who had a blast together while we were away.

And my hub and I got the best snuggles in the whole world from our sweet baby boy as soon as we walked in the door. <3

Yes, Disney was an absolutely AMAZING, fun, busy, memory-filled, magical trip yet again. And we already can't wait to go back again in just over 2 years when we'll take all THREE of our little Lus with us for the adventure. Until then, I'll just have to hang tight to a few of my favorite moments from the whole trip, like: 
  • Seeing Raleigh's face light up each time she saw a new princess:
  •  Banks saying, "Mom, take a picture of everything so I don't forget!"
  • Seeing my girl transformed into a real live princess and requesting that she be allowed to sleep in her special crown and Mickey barrette. Of course!
  • How very, very precious they were together. Best friends.
  • My sweet hub asking them each morning if there was anything they needed to put in the safe. And then watching them put their valuables in (super heroes and weapons, of course!)
  • The father-son sword fights that took place in our room each evening. 
  • Sharing knowing glances with my hub that meant (1) This moment right here is something we'll never forget, and (2) We need more coffee...stat.

Yes, thank you again for the memories, Disney. We'll see ya real soon!