Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Keeping the Magic Alive

I announced yesterday on my Facebook page that my husband and I were very recently given an opportunity to go to Walt Disney World this weekend without the kids. We could have said no, since we're going as a family in November... or because the kids aren't able to go... or because it's for such a short time, or any number of excuses...

Or, as we decided, we could find excuses/reasons why we should take this opportunity and run with it! Sure, it would simply be fun to get away for the weekend, but the more we talked about it the deeper it went.

We both stay very busy with work and other obligations. Our daughter plays softball (2 Fall Ball leagues right now) in addition to other school functions; our son is joining scouts. My husband works a lot of overtime; and I'm pretty busy between my full-time job and my blessing of a second job. I'm a caregiver to my Nana who lives on her own but is becoming more dependent on others. It's hard to squeeze in personal time, but we're both also trying to take better care of ourselves by exercising regularly and eating better. There just aren't enough hours in the day, let me tell ya.

We may not be a well-oiled machine, but we somehow make everything work.

There's certainly no trouble in paradise here, but as you can imagine with such crazy schedules, sometimes you get in a funk. I'm sure others can relate. The grind of the day-to-day takes over, and it seems like your head is no sooner hitting the pillow than your alarm is going off. You simply start going through the motions. Living your life for others- working countless hours, school/daycare drop offs, practice pickups, late games, grocery shopping, doctor appointments, meal prep and pharmacy runs, late night quotes, laundry... the list goes on and on.

When do you get the time to focus on the two of you again? To focus on each other and the magic that created this beautiful chaos? I'll tell you when...

When you make the time! That's when!

As I said, we're not in bad shape or anything. We love each other very much and are very fortunate to have these crazy schedules. It means we have people in our lives whom we love deeply and are blessed to care for. It means we're able to work and can provide for our family. It means we have a home to call our own. These are our privileges and we couldn't be more grateful.

Things don't have to be going wrong in order to make the time to focus. Sometimes you just need to make that time to keep the good going. So, when presented with this opportunity, we talked about it for an evening or two, realizing how nice it would be to share a couple days together. We could adventure together and laugh and play. We could be on our own time and not watching the clock for our next appointment. For two whole days we could be present with each other without distraction from the real world.

Let's do it!

What better place to keep the magic alive than Walt Disney World?! It's been several years since we've been to Disney without our kids (yes, we've done it before!), so we're quite looking forward to this adventure. We haven't done FastPasses or anything. We're just going to wing it and see where the day takes us! I can't wait!!

Follow along via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram as we work on
#KeepingTheMagicAlive this weekend!

Custom button by CrowleyCastle on Etsy

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Wordless Wednesday: Shadows in the Porthole

I know this is supposed to be wordless, but I just have to say... these were some of my favorite photos when looking through my 11 year old's photos from our cruise. She's such a creative photographer. She sat in the porthole and took a picture of her shadow. I never would have thought to do this.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tip Tuesday: License Plate Game

We love the license plate game when taking road trips. You know, where you try to spot as many of the 50 state plates as you can. On our last road trip we downloaded a really cool app to help us keep track (rather than writing them all down or checking them off our paper list).

This one, called "Plates Free" in the Play Store, not only included Canadian and Mexican plates, but it also showed pictures of the most common plate for the state! It put a star next to the ones you've seen and keeps count of them, too!

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Monday, August 22, 2016

Disney Cruise Line Stateroom Review

Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah
Room 8540
on the Disney Dream
Back in April, my family of four went on a 4 night Bahamian cruise with Disney Cruise Line. My husband and I had been before, but this was our kiddos first cruise. We sailed on the Disney Dream and opted for a Deluxe Oceanview Stateroom with Verandah. The 4 night itinerary has a day at sea, and we figured it would be nice to have the verandah to enjoy the view.

Here's a review of our room with some photos.

This was a category 05B stateroom located on the Starboard side of Deck 8, toward the front.

  • This room is 246 sq. ft, including the verandah
  • Sleeps 4 people max
  • Queen bed, single convertible sofa, upper berth pull-down bed
  • Split bath with tub and shower
We were located very near the elevators, which I'd often heard could be disruptive, but we never had any problems. As you can see here we decorated our door (that'll be another post). In addition to the fun, this also makes it easy for the kids (and adults) to spot your room.

Coming in the door the split bath is on the right (sink and toilet first and then the sink and tub next). There was ample shelving in the units for everyone's toiletries. The split really worked nicely for us. One could shower then move into the next bathroom to get ready while someone else showered.
To the left behind the door were two very nice sized closets with shelves. We were able to put our shoes on the shelves and hang dresses, shirts, and slacks. There was also some additional storage space at the end of the closet.

Next you walk in to see the bed and then the desk and sofa before the sliding glass door to the balcony. Let me just say, this bed was so comfortable. Like, I should have asked what kind of mattress and pillows these were!

The bed has a lamp and night stands on both sides which was nice, and the privacy curtain hangs nicely between the bed and sofa area.

The desk area had plenty of storage in the form of drawers and shelves. It also hid the mini fridge nicely. The tv was on the end and could be swiveled toward the bed or the sofa. In addition to the stateroom phone on the nightstand, you'll also find two wave phones per room, which can be taken anywhere on the ship and Castaway Cay. DCL also provides you with some postcards and other typical hotel stationery.

In front of the sofa is a nice chest, which provided some extra storage. We used it to put our beach bag and swim stuff in.

On to the verandah. Oh, the verandah. I was so glad to have chosen a verandah room. While it was so, so dark out on the ocean at night, it was wonderful to hear the waves lapping as we surged through the water. It was a beautiful sight to see the vast open waters as we sailed through the day. Seeing the ports as we pulled in to turnabout... so cool. While I'd gladly take an inside room again just to be able to cruise, I would definitely choose to upgrade to a verandah anytime I'm able. It was worth it. There were two chairs and a small table. It made it nice to sit outside with a little snack from room service while getting ready.

Our stateroom host took care of setting up the upper berth pull-down bed each night while we were out for dinner and put it back up while we were out for breakfast. He would also draw the privacy curtain at night. The kids took turns sleeping on the top bunk. This worked out quite nicely.

Overall, we were quite pleased with this room. It fit our family of 4 just fine. We were out checking things out most of the day, but when we were in the room, we still had plenty of room to spread out. The split bath was really nice when getting ready. There was plenty of storage (I forgot to take a photo of our suitcases under the bed). I'd say there was even more storage than in a hotel room. We liked the location being near the elevators and never had any problem with that. We would certainly book this category, and even this specific room again. The furnishing were modern and very nice, and everything was very clean. We were thoroughly impressed.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I'd be glad to go over anything I missed or just discuss our cruise in general. We had a blast and can't wait to do it again!

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Friday, August 19, 2016

Foodie Friday: T-Rex Restaurant

Foodie Friday presents a review of
T-Rex Restaurant
at Disney Springs.

 T-Rex Restaurant, as the name suggests, is a large dinosaur themed restaurant in Disney Springs Marketplace. The menu here consists of American favorites such as burgers, salads, steaks, pastas, chicken, seafood, and more. This is considered a Table Service meal on the Disney Dining Plan.

After our cruise in April we decided to go back to Pop Century for a night before heading back home early the next morning. Because it was a last minute decision, we had no reservations. After doing some resort hopping, we headed to Disney Springs. Because many of my clients often request T-Rex and I had never been before, I thought we should check it out.

The crowd surrounding was pretty deep, but I made it to the host's stand to put our name in. Surprisingly, the wait was only expected to be about 50 minutes. We were given a slip of paper with our "Call By" time and were told we could roam around and should come back about 15 minutes prior to the time shown.

We walked down to the Star Wars Galactic Outpost and Super Hero Headquarters to pass a little time before heading back. We had only found a spot to sit down when we'd heard our name called, about 20 minutes early! Once we were called though, we were placed in a line to be seated. This only took about 5 more minutes. It was while waiting in that line that we discovered the cool dino dig they had there for the kids to do. This is actually in the Paleo Zone as they call it where they can dig in the sand or play in Discovery Creek.

The restaurant is split into themed sections, an ice cavern, an underwater scene, a triceratops's midsection... We were seated in the fern forest. The scenery is over the top here. I can see why so many clients with their little dino-lovers would want to check this place out! Lots to see with all of the life-size dinosaurs and overgrown creatures everywhere.

It was crazy busy, but our server was on top of everything. We got our orders in and were just checking things out. Aside from being pretty packed in here (the tables are really close together), we were all enjoying everything until the "meteor shower" started.

The meteor shower is an interactive display where the lights dim down and all of the animals in the restaurant come to life at once with roaring and rumbling. Lights flash across the ceiling and the ice cavern changes colors. This is a lot to take in. It can be very overwhelming for someone who doesn't like loud noises or may have sensory issues. My little guy, 7, is sensitive to noise at times. This definitely didn't go over well for him. It lasted just a few minutes, but he was not a happy camper. We thought we may have to leave, especially since we found out this would happen about every 20 minutes. He agreed to stay through one more to see how he did, but he had to lay down in my lap with me covering his ears.

I tried to take a video for reference to show clients and readers what to expect, but this really doesn't do it justice as to just how loud it was.

The food came not long after, and while it was nothing fancy, it was good! Craig got the Bronto Burger, plain. Colten chose the kids Paleo Pizza, and Tessa and I decided to share the appetizer, Colosso Beef Nachos for Two. Yum!!

We weren't on the dining plan, so we paid about $52 out of pocket for our food and drinks, before tip. I didn't think this was bad for a dining experience like this for the four of us on Disney property.

I would certainly continue to recommend this restaurant as long as you don't have anyone who may have any sensory issues as I mentioned before. It was a very neat experience, but I'm afraid it was a one-time deal for us unless Colten outgrows his sensitivity to noise.

On the way out the kids we excited to check out the Dino-Store, their gift shop. Kids can build their own stuffed dinosaurs, like Build-A-Bear, or choose from lots of other fun toys.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Tip Tuesday: Passing the Time in Lines

Those wait times can get pretty lengthy in busy months at Walt Disney World, so why not make passing the time a little more fun...

Ever heard of the game Pictopia? It's a fun picture-trivia game using 2-sided cards with questions and pictures. Guess what?! They have both a Disney edition and a Star Wars edition!!

We have both! We pack the cards into ziploc bags and put them in our park bag. We pull them out when it looks like we may be in line a while, or are waiting for our name to be called at a restaurant.

We each take turns asking each other questions, and before you know it we've made it through the lines with lots of laughter and fun no complaints or fighting.

Sometimes we let the person who gets the most correct pick the next ride! You could also let them get a snack or get another fun treat. It's a lot of fun!

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