Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Disney Magic.

I'm shivering away today in chilly, windy Michigan, slippers on my feet, hot cup of coffee in my hand, and it's hard to believe just last week we were enjoying sunny, 85 degree Orlando weather.

We spent a week there with my parents, brother & SIL, and my nephews and niece. We stayed off the resort in a huge rented house in Reunion (plenty of space for all of us, making it a really good deal). This was our kids' third time to Disney (Mady's second). We also visited the new LegoLand too.

Last time we went, Mady was just about to turn one so it's safe to say she didn't really experience much of the magic (I think she spent most of the trip passed out in the stroller). This time around, I think she was the one who enjoyed it the most. Everything was new and exciting, and they're not kidding when they say it's the most magical place on earth.

Disney seems to do so much right and as an adult I find myself marveling at the marketing and the guest relations which all goes into creating the magic that is unique to Disney alone. In no particular order, here are some of our favorite rides and attractions from the three Disney parks we visited {Magic Kingdom, Epcot & Hollywood Studios}.

Dole Whip // One of my favorite questions to ask in the van on the way home from the parks each day was what was your favorite ride? My mom chimed in on the way home from Magic Kingdom one day with "Dole Whip!" We told her that wasn't really a ride, but I think its cult-like following allows it to count in the attraction category. Dole Whip is basically pineapple soft serve that can be served float style with pineapple juice. The ice cream part makes it a treat, the pineapple juice means it can legitimately count as breakfast. You can find Dole Whip in Adventureland in Magic Kingdom.

Toy Story Mania // Easily one of the most popular rides at Disney (possibly because there aren't a ton of other kid-centered attractions at Hollywood Studios), Toy Story Mania is one of our family's favorites. This year, we arrived at Hollywood Studios around 10:30 in the morning, went straight to the Fast Pass line and the Fast Pass times were already well into the evening. Because we were at Hollywood Studios on our last day, Toy Story Mania ended up being our last ride of the vacation. I rode with Mady who is now tall enough to do most rides although I wasn't sure if she would like it (she's not always a fan of dark, loud, and jerky). Happy to report she didn't just like it, she LOVED it. As did my parents. Fun for all ages.

The Barnstormer // The Barnstormer is a new kiddie rollercoaster in the circus portion of Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom (parts of Fantasyland are still under construction but it looks like it's going to be pretty amazing). Mady was tall enough to ride, and again, I was waiting for her to kind of hate it, but it was one of the best moments of the trip. She laughed and laughed as the wind blew through her hair, pressed up against me. She promptly requested to do it again...and again... (and the lines weren't too bad either).

Dumbo! // Dumbo The Flying Elephant has always been a sentimental favorite because I once made my brother wait in line with me for an hour to ride (I was 6, he was 11). This time around, however, Dumbo is new and improved, part of the revitalized Fantasyland. In some stroke of Disney genius, instead of waiting in line, there is now a big play area that you enter. They give you a pager, much like at a restaurant, and then the kids can play while the adults can sit (in air conditioning) and then they page you when it's your turn to ride. There are two Dumbo rides now too which means more people can ride at once. We did this one twice and it was pretty magical, particularly at night.

Splash Mountain // Splash Mountain is always a favorite (found in Frontierland in Magic Kingdom) and it's been fun experiencing it all over again with Dylan and Ella. Ella is a thrill seeker...Dylan often has to be bribed. In the end, he was glad he went, and I enjoy how much pre-ride there is before the actual five-story splash. I'm also sentimental about the ride because I remember my mom taking us to see the re-release of Song of the South in 1986. Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee-day!

The Three Caballeros // It's official name is Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, and you're likely to miss it if you're not looking for it. My parents happen to own a VHS copy of the 1944 Disney film, The Three Caballeros, so we all find this ride particularly hilarious. You can find it in the Mexico section of the World Showcase and it's basically a boat ride through Mexican history featuring Donald Duck and his pals Panchito, the Mexican rooster, and José Carioca, a Brazilian parrot. I could go on and on, but I think you really must experience it for yourself to understand the magic. Don't let the fact that there's never a line fool you. This is one of the finest rides around.

Honorable Mention // Soarin', Peter Pan's Flight, Big Thunder Mountain Railway, Rock 'n' Roller Coaster starring Aerosmith, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror & Muppet Vision 3-D.

I'd love to hear: what's your favorite Disney ride?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Catching up.

I've been a little MIA in blogger world these last few weeks. After a season where I felt like I constantly had blogging on the brain, I seemed to have entered into a season of quiet. Life is still happening around these parts, however, and now I'm ready for a good old fashioned, catch-up post.

(For best effect, pretend this is all happening over a couple of cups of coffee at my kitchen table. And pretend we can actually converse because I'd love to hear what's happening in your neck of the woods!)

Further proof that Kindergarten is no joke.
No, thank you. With school-aged kids, fall has become a busy season of the year. With a couple of school years under my belt, I decided to try to slow the pace down just a bit. I said no to some really good stuff these past couple of months like MOPS, PTC (Parent Teacher Club), and kids' extracurricular activities. It's been a big transition these past two months for Ella getting used to all-day, every-day Kindergarten, and I'm thankful that we have no where to be after school and a few less commitments on our calendar.

Pumpkin pickin'. Saying yes to the little things.
Yes, please. A few things I've chosen to say yes to: Kindermusik once a week with Mady (a great bonding experience for us as she transitions from baby to big kid), our 365 blog (see, I'm still blogging, just in little tidbits rather than longer posts), and my "real" job (getting my hours in early in the day and while Mady is at Nana's so I can be more present when the kids are around).

I got so excited at book club, I lost control of my cupcake.
Bookmark it. Our informal book club wrapped up a couple of weeks ago, and our experiment into literary community was a smashing success. We discussed One Thousand Gifts as we read along thanks to social networking and met for one final discussion at Theresa's house. We laughed as we all met face to face, some of us for the first time. It was a perfect mix of old friends and new and while we made a somewhat unlikely group, I have no doubt that God put us together for a reason. We are working on our next book selection, coming soon!

Pure magic, Disney-style.
Home sweet home. We just returned from a week in Orlando, taking in the sights at both Legoland and Disney World. I love going, and I love coming home. I'm ready to settle back in to our cozy house, and hunker down for birthday season which is just around the corner! If I get my act together, I'll post a little later this week on our Disney experience as well.

I love the smell of fresh sawdust!
We've got walls! Also on the home front, our basement is on its way to being finished. We've lived in this house for five years now and while I've been itching to get this project done, we've also been cautious and waited until the time was right. We finally have a great builder to work with (if you're local, check out Chet Glass Builders) and while we were gone last week, the walls were studded. Next up: plumbing. The finished space will be general living space (a cozy TV and game area), office and crafting space, and a full bath (Dylan's future refuge as the girls get older).

My feet have never been happier. Who knew?
Let's get moving (again). Our workout challenge is still alive and well. I don't talk much about it anymore, as it's become part of my every day life (which was the original idea). We are starting Week 99 this week and our two year anniversary (of 5 workouts/week) comes around at the end of November.

I've been working through a heel injury (plantar fasciitis) leftover from my 25K training last spring, and I'm trying not to run on it which has been really, really hard. I went for my first run in weeks today on a sunny, fall Michigan afternoon and it was heaven on earth. I miss it. Praying that I will continue to heal as I love running not just for it's physical benefits but for it's mental ones as well. I've been slightly blue lately, and I know if I am able to start hitting the pavement again, I'll feel much better. On the recommendation of our PT friend, I've been stretching more frequently and sporting some of those newfangled barefoot kicks.

10 Ways to Live an Extraordinary Life.
The wind beneath my wings. Two shout outs here: one to Bob Goff and the other to Flower Patch Farm Girl. I've heard Bob Goff's name mentioned before but I never really connected the dots until this past week when I was paging through Matt's latest issue of Relevant magazine poolside. Please read this. I'd love to discuss it.

Secondly, Theresa turned me on to Shannan's blog, Flower Patch Farm Girl, and I can't stop reading. She is both ordinary and extraordinary, down-to-earth yet complex, on her way but still in the thick of the journey. I *might* have spent far too long reading through her blog one Wednesday night, post after post, knocking my socks off. I also may have narrowed down her location to Goshen, Indiana and we *might* be planning an ambush visit. (I'm SURE she'd be happy to see us.)

And, finally, a little Insta.Life. Oh, how I love this little app. If I hadn't just bought a fancy camera earlier this year, I think I could be convinced to record life exclusively via Instagram.

1) Scrapbooking, up to date! Always a good feeling. 2) Ella's owl. 3) Cheerleader pony tail. Happy to report, I've still got it. 4) Fooling around. 5) A trip with Daddy to the "zoo" (i.e. pet store). 6) Another successful annual outlet shopping weekend. 7) A great way to pass some time = Disney drawing. 8) The infamous taxidermy (nature center) field trip. 9) Getting geared up for birthday season!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Belated is the New Black.

For 33 years, since the day I was born, my birthday has been celebrated in the warm summer month of August.

This past August, we got so busy living life to the fullest that my birthday celebrating took a back burner to our North woods exploring, #CottageWeek relaxing, and Denver discovering.

And while I did receive a singing pirate 'stache card (every girl's dream), a super sweet new camera strap (thanks, T), a pizza night with 14 of my favorite people (big and little), the distinction of celebrating my birthday week and cottage week simultaneously, and a Feel-the-Zeel sort of girls' night...

I kind of missed out on birthday cake and sweet cards with tiny signatures scrawled inside and -- the one thing I ask for on my birthday without fail -- a picture with my precious little kiddos.

Now my friends and family know that I take my birthday very seriously. I have been quoted as saying, "If you don't celebrate you, ain't nobody going to celebrate you." 

And I mean it. I love my birthday.

But really, at 33, I am adult -- like really, really an adult -- so I put on my big girl panties and moved on.

Imagine then my surprise to return home from taking the kids for hair cuts on Saturday morning and told to wait in the chilly fall air ...just for a second.

I waited... and when I was allowed in, I was handed my first clue. {Matt's kind of a legend around here with his scavenger hunt designs.}

It led me up to Mady's room. Which happened to be dark. And quiet. With nary a toddler in sight.

Until suddenly the closet door flings open, and the cutest 2 1/2 year old you've ever seen, yells "SURPRISE!" and hands me my first gift: a card featuring a dog sporting pigtails and braces. A card only a toddler would pick and exactly what this mama would have wished for.

Next we went to Dylan's room... and out of his closet pops my first baby - my deep thinking, hard working, almost eight year old boy with a beautiful bouquet of fall flowers.

Our last stop was Ella's room. By now I know to go straight to the closet, and when I open it, I find my sweet, pretty, full-of-life girl holding a plate of fluffy, shaken-by-her-giggles cupcakes from one of the best bakeries in town.

We laughed and laughed from one room to the next. We jumped up and down.
I was surprised, really, truly surprised. The kids were delighted. I was delighted. We reveled in the silliness of it all.

I felt loved. I am loved.

So that's the story of how I found myself eating birthday cupcakes on a cold October Saturday (before lunch, no less), seven weeks after my birthday.

That's the tale of the time I was blindsided by belated birthday love.

And that's how I got my picture this year... un-showered and in my best errand running clothes... but I stayed in the picture.

After we finished wiping the frosting from our lips, we went and picked out pumpkins. (Because that's what you do in October.)

In the end, a birthday is just a day. And whether it's August or October, it doesn't really matter... the joy is in the celebration.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


I love Sunday nights.

I like to write in my planner, map out my week, pick up the house, put ALL the laundry away, and get ready to great a new week come morning.

Here's a quick goal-setting exercise I just discovered... jotting down three simple goals for the week: do, be, memorize.

{Thanks Printable}
Do... say "thank you". We're wrapping up our One Thousand Gifts book club this week with a discussion party on Thursday + I need to carve out some time to update my own list. Gratitude is a great exercise in perspective, and it always brings me back to where I need to be.

Be... flexible. I like to hit the ground running on Monday morning, but I will more likely than not still have a sick little Kindergartner when the sun comes up. Grateful that my To Do list can be shelved, and I will get to spend a day at home with my on-the-mend little yellow haired girl (a rarity these days!)

Mem... three sets of shoe sizes. My annual outlet mall shopping weekend with my mom and SIL is at the end of the week... and there's a Stride-Rite outlet. Enough said.

What's on your agenda this week?

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

#SheReadsTruth // Galatians

I just finished up a study on the book of Galatians along with the She Reads Truth community. It was a relatively short one, 15 days in all, with two weekends thrown in {Saturdays are for reviewing/re-reading the week's passages; Sundays are for committing a verse or passage to memory.}

I enjoyed this particular study because there was a devotional included with each days passage. And I know I've said it before, but reading a familiar text in a new translation {The Message} really made it come alive for me in a clear, bold, authentic way.

Galatians is a passionate letter from Paul reminding them of the true and beautiful Gospel. Here's a little peak into some of the truths discovered along the way...

 What's my goal? Popularity or following Jesus?

A central theme of Paul's letter to the Galatians: faith vs. works.
{Spoiler Alert: the answer is faith!}

Redeemed. Set free. Fully Adopted!

 Back to the basics: it all starts with love.

The Message's translation of this passage knocked my socks off.
The alternative way to live? Freely, animated & motivated by God's Spirit. 

A prayer: let us not become weary.

I love Paul's challenge here: live creatively.
The world wants us to live a certain way but God's way is so much better.

So, what's next?

If you're ready to get started with a new reading plan, the next She Reads Truth study is on Ephesians and it starts TODAY! You can find all the details on the "how" right here.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...