Thursday, October 30, 2008

Trick or Treat?

Saturday morning I discovered a mystery package addressed to Banks and Mary Reese on a front porch from the UPS man...would it be a trick or a treat?I could tell it was from Williams-Sonoma, so I knew it was probably a TREAT! {Excuse our hair...we had just gotten up and we are really into wearing mix-matched pjs}
It definitely was a treat! I was these fabulous Halloween suckers from Baby Carter: Thanks Baby Carter! We have LOVED our Halloween Treat!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

3 Peas in a Pod

Saturday, October 25, 2008

HSM 3 - Senior Year

Monday night I bought these: That is why I love this place:
I love being able to buy the tickets and picking out our seats online days before we even go to the movies! Plus it is new and very us it is the only place to go see a movie!
So last night, the family loaded up and we headed to Huntsville. We stopped by Rosie's to eat before we headed to the premiere of this:
Jody and I have never heard so many pre-teeney-boppers squeal when Troy or Chad appeared on the screen. It was hilarious! The kids LOVED it and were glad to see it on opening night!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Disney Vacation - Day 6

After breakfast and a packing session, we headed to the pool for one last dip! Banks was the first kid up the stairs and down the slide, so he became the Keister Coaster Kid of the Day! He got a clown wig, glasses, clown nose, necklace, coins and a diamond ring! We all enjoyed the perfectly heated pool before heading upstairs to finishing packing and showering!

Before checking out of our home away from home, we left the swapped stroller with the concierge to store for the next person in line! We grabbed our rental car {they didn’t charge us for parking because of the lost key fiasco} and headed to Downtown Disney to spend our earned “Disney Dollars”! We found most of our prizes at the World of Disney. Mary Reese got to make her own princess crown there while Jody and Banks headed to Once Upon a Toy to make their own Light Saber! We grabbed a delicious sandwich at Earl of Sandwich before stocking up on some goodies from Goofy’s Candy Company! We all picked out a new Christmas ornament from Disney’s Days of Christmas before heading to the airport!

We got to the airport in plenty of time to catch our flight! Only one disaster on the plane ride home…Mary Reese pitched a major fit in the middle of the aisle because Banks got to sit by the window and she had to sit in the middle seat! She sat by the window on the way there…so it was his turn, but she didn’t like it! We arrived in Birmingham just before 5:00 and grabbed some always delicious Davenport’s Pizza with Debbie, Christopher, Stacey and David before heading back home! We truly had a magical trip and can’t wait to go back in a couple of years!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Disney Vacation - Day 5

We decided to sleep in since we had been out late the night before. We got up and headed straight to Hollywood Studios after breakfast {our mission…Fast Passes for Toy Story Mania}! About the time we got to the gate I realized Mary Reese left her blanket on the boat, so Jody sprinted down to claim it before the boat took off for their next trip. Hollywood Studios was pretty crowded, so we headed straight to the new Toy Story Mania ride to snag Fast Passes {mission accomplished}. We stopped by the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground on our way to the sorcerer’s hat to meet and greet Minnie and Daisy. Then we decided to head to Epcot since we had not ridden one ride there and Jody was dying to eat in Mexico!
Somewhere between leaving Hollywood Studios and Epcot, we lost Mary Reese’s blanket again {this time it was gone for good…thank goodness for a backup}! As soon as we arrived in Epcot, Jody grabbed us Fast Passes for Soarin’! Then we ate at Cantina de San Angel and rode the boat ride through Mexico. Jody decided to ride Test Track since the single rider line was only 10 minutes while the kids and I made our own paper in Innovations East {they did do something educational while we were gone}.
We decided to go ride Living with the Land since it looked like the bottom was about to drop out at any minute. Just as we reached The Land…the bottom dropped out! By the time we voyaged through the greenhouses and fish farm, the rain had stopped. Then we headed to the Seas with Nemo and Friends ride. After you ride, you can walk upstairs and view the aquarium. Banks even got to give one of the scuba divers a high-five through the glass! Before dinner we had time to ride Spaceship Earth {through the giant ball} and watch the Honey, I Shrunk the Audience 3-D movie. We tried to email postcards home from Spaceship Earth but our pictures never came up on the screen!

We left Future World on our way to Japan for dinner at Teppan Edo! The food was delicious, the chef was very entertaining and it was probably our second favorite meal behind Le Cellier! After dinner we debated about walking all the way back to The Land for our Soarin’ Fast Pass ride. We decided we would regret it if we skipped it…so off we went! We ended up running into Alice from Wonderland in England on our way. After we got off Soarin’, we all decided the extra steps were well worth it!

Since we had already seen IllumiNations, we decided to head back to Hollywood Studios because they were open to midnight! We thought about catching the last Fantasmic show but decided to ride Star Wars and Toy Story Mania instead. We were very grateful for Fast Passes to Toy Story because the standyby line was still estimated at 45 minutes! When we got off the ride…we realized why everyone wanted to ride this one so bad. We all had a blast and wished we had another Fast Pass! It definitely put the Buzz Lightyear ride in Magic Kingdom to shame! We ended the night {and our time} at the parks with Mickey Mouse Ice Cream Sandwiches!

Once we got back to the Boardwalk, Banks and Jody finished up their Arcade Card while Mary Reese and I headed to bed! Tomorrow’s plans: packing, more pool time and a shopping spree in Downtown Disney…

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Disney Vacation - Day 4

We caught a cab to the Animal Kingdom for our before-the-park-opens breakfast reservations with Donald {Mary Reese was infatuated with Donald the entire trip}! I was really excited about this day because it would be the first time any of us visited this park! We got some pictures made in a virtually empty park on our way to Tuskar House in Africa! The breakfast and the jungle juice were both delicious and delightful {just as Amy Jackson promised}! We got to see Donald, Daisy, Mickey and Goofy! This is the only opportunity we had to get Mickey’s autograph during our entire trip!
After breakfast, we grabbed Fast Passes for Kilimanjaro Safari before walking through the Pangani Forrest Trail! We then rode the Wildlife Express Train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch where we received another “Magic Moment” {special ears commemorating the “Year of a Million Dreams”}! We took the train back and hopped on the safari ride with little wait thanks to our Fast Passes! The ride was wonderful…we got to see so many different animals! Both the lions were asleep but we could see them perched on top of their rock!

After our safari ride, we decided to brave Kali River Rapids! We met a really nice family in line who we ran into again several times during the rest of our trip. All four of us came off the ride SOAKED! Jody grabbed him and Banks Fast Passes for another rapid ride and for Everest before heading to DinoLand USA!

The kids really enjoyed DinoLand. We rode TriceraTop Spin, played Fun-Fossil {carnival-style} Games and played in the Boneyard! {Primeval Whirl was closed for refurbishments.} After all this riding and playing, we had worked up an appetite!

We decided to try out Flame Tree Barbeque and snagged a great table outside with a wonderful view of the Tree of Life. After lunch, we had just enough time to catch the 3-D It’s a Bugs Life movie before the Jammin’ Jungle Parade!

We headed over to the entrance to Africa to watch the parade because we wanted to ride the safari ride again after the parade was over. It was the perfect spot to watch the parade…the kids sat in the stroller and Jody and I had a rock wall to sit on! After the parade was over, we headed for another safari ride using our Fast Passes! This time we got to see the black rhino {he wasn’t out earlier}, the male lion {he was awake} and a baby giraffe! Banks and Jody rode the rapids again while Mary Reese and I watched from the observation bridge. Jody then went to tackle Expedition Everest! We headed back to the Boardwalk to recharge before heading back to the Magic Kingdom to enjoy the extra magic hours {they were open until 1:00 am}! We got to the MK right before Spectromagic started, so to avoid the crowds we caught the last WDW Railroad to Toontown because Mary Reese was dying to drive an Indy racecar! Both of them got to drive cars…she about slung me out several times when she decided to turn around to talk to Banks {while still driving}. We then rode Buzz Lightyear and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority again. We decided to try out the Astro Orbiter for the first time! We were so excited we did because we caught the finale of Wishes while waiting on the observation deck to board our space ship! It was the perfect spot to watch the fireworks! I will admit that ride made me a little nervous but Mary Reese LOVED it! We then headed over to ride the carousel, Dumbo and It’s a Small World one last time before catching the bus back home! Mary Reese was acting like such a big girl on the way home. She looked and me and said “And what was your favorite ride today?” Hers was driving the race cars and Banks said his was Buzz Lightyear!

Tomorrow…another round at Hollywood Studios and Epcot!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Disney Vacation - Day 3

We all sleep in, ate a leisurely breakfast and then headed down to the pool for a dip! Banks loved the clown slide and Mary Reese loved all the elephants squirting water around the pool. We headed back to the room to get ready for our big date with Cinderella and her princess friends!
Since Banks was dying to ride the monorail again {and we had plenty of time}, we walked through Epcot to catch the monorail to the Magic Kingdom. We were the first people on the platform, so we asked to ride up front with the drivers {they let up to 4 people do this each ride}. They both loved being "Monorail Co-Pilots" of the Orange Monorail and even got a special card to commemorate the occasion! The Magic Kingdom was PACKED {attendance was over 44,000 at noon that day}, so we made our way straight to the castle for our lunch reservations at Cinderella’s Royal Table! They call your party when your table is ready, then you have your picture made with Cinderella before heading upstairs to your table. The girls are given a magic wand with a wishing star and the boys receive a sword with a wishing star. The Major Domo’s Pie {shepard’s pie} and Chocolate Buckle dessert were both delicious! We got to see Belle, Snow White, Jasmine and Sleeping Beauty upstairs. I wish you could have all seen the excitement on Mary Reese’s face – it was PRICELESS and worth every penny I paid to eat in the castle! After lunch they had a wishing star ceremony and both kids wished for a night in Cinderella’s Castle {it didn’t happen while we were there…but it didn’t hurt to wish}!
Wishing for a night in the castle
We decided to ride the Walt Disney World Railroad around the park twice! It was really nice to just sit and get out of the crowds for a few minutes. We disembarked the train and rode the raft to explore Tom Sawyer’s Island. Mary Reese had been dying to tour Mickey and Minnie’s houses, so he hiked it on over to Toontown! After the tour of homes, we walked to Fantasyland to ride Snow White’s Scary Adventure, play in Ariel’s Grotto and to ride Peter Pan again. By that time we knew we needed to go claim our spot for Spectromagic and Wishes!
We finally found a spot right in front of the castle but it was wall to wall people {it was super crowded and they weren’t kidding on the message boards about finding a spot an hour in advance}! I tried to get us some popcorn to snack on but the lines where ridiculously long! Spectromagic was an updated version of the Electric Light Parade they had when I was growing up! All the floats and characters were so neat all lit up! Wishes was fabulous and getting to see Tinkerbell fly from the top of the castle to somewhere else in the park {it is a big secret where she actually lands} was wonderful!
After the fireworks, we made our way back down Main Street and caught the bus home! Banks and Jody went to the ESPN Zone for a really late dinner while Mary Reese and I opted for ice cream at Seashore Sweets. We all hit the hay to get our beauty rest for Donald’s Breakfast Safari the next morning…

Friday, October 17, 2008

Disney Vacation - Day 2

We woke up early and grabbed quick breakfast in the concierge lounge before headed to the Magic Kingdom for the kids Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique appointments. Our appointments were scheduled before the park opened, so we took a taxi from the hotel to the park and caught our first monorail ride of the trip to the park gates! We got into the park a little after 8:00 and it was so neat seeing a virtually empty park! We stopped and took some pictures in front of the castle before heading to the boutique.
Look how empty the park is!
Princess Mary Reese chose the Cinderella ensemble while Prince Banks got a Cool Dude hairstyle. The Fairy Godmother even made an appearance during their appointments to check on her Fairy Godmothers-in-Training.

After their transformations, we hit Cinderella’s Golden Carousel, Dumbo and It’s a Small World with very little wait! We then headed over to the Haunted Mansion ride. The kids did fine {the lights do go out briefly in the chamber before you get on the actual ride, so make sure you hold their hands}. We ran by and got a Fast Pass for Peter Pan’s flight before heading back to the room for a rest since we were coming back to the big Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party that night. On our way out, we ran back into the Fairy Godmother behind the castle. We were able to get her autograph and a photo session! We also stopped by the Exposition Hall to have Mary Reese’s BBB photo session before leaving the park. I had to bribe her with a Lady dog {from Lady and the Tramp} in a purse to even have her picture taken. Lady ended up going everywhere with us from that point forward!

After a quick lunch at the ESPN Zone and a rest, I grabbed the kids Halloween costumes and we headed back to the Magic Kingdom to catch the Dreams Come True Parade. We ran into Chip and Dale right outside the entrance, so we stopped for their autographs. We secured a seat right in front of the castle for the parade. They had so many cast members “entertaining” the kids while we were waiting on the parade to start. The kids loved seeing the parade…all their favorite characters were there.

After the parade we headed to Peter Pan’s flight to us our Fast Passes, then made our way to Adventureland to do Swiss Family Robinson, The Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin. Jody talked {Banks would say “forced”} Banks into riding Big Thunder Mountain…he wasn’t a big fan but he survived!

By that time it was time for our dinner reservations at Liberty Tree Tavern for a family-style meal which included salad, ham, flank steak, turkey and dressing, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, green beans, rolls and apple crisp with ice cream! We got to see Chip, Dale, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy all decked out in their Halloween costumes!

After dinner, we all decided to ride Splash Mountain together. Everything was grand until the huge plummet at the end! The kids then changed into their Halloween costumes and we found a spot for the special Boo To You Parade. After the parade was over, we ran to ride the Mad Tea Party Teacups, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Goofy’s Barnstormer Rollercoaster. We caught the HalloWishes fireworks show from behind the castle and then jumped on the Indy Speedyway cars, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. We ran into Buzz after we exited his ride…so Banks stopped for his autograph!

By that time we were all exhausted so we decided to head out to beat the crowds! We were glad we paid the extra money to attend the party…we got to ride so many of the popular rides with little or not wait! On the agenda for tomorrow, a 2:25 lunch with Cinderella in her castle…

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Disney Vacation - Day 1

Thursday, October 9th – Stacey and David dropped us at the airport for our 6:25 am flight to Orlando. We were on the same flight as another family from Decatur {which would be the only time we saw anyone we knew the entire trip}. We got checked in and through security in perfect timing to board the plane. Once we were in the air, both the kids colored the entire time. Neither one of them seemed nervous about flying! We arrived in Orlando a few minutes early, grabbed our luggage and rental car then headed to The Boardwalk Inn {our home away from home for the next 6 days}. Mary Reese kept looking for Mickey Mouse at the airport…I think she thought we would literally be in Walt Disney World with Mickey Mouse there to greet us as soon as we got off the plane!
Don't we all look tired?
We had to make a pit stop by the Port Orleans Riverside to pick up our swapped stroller. No one could find it and I couldn’t get the girl before us on the phone for the baggage claim number, so we moved onto our hotel and opted to just rent on for the day until we could locate the other one.
They told us when we pulled up at the valet that our room probably wouldn’t be ready this early. I still had to check in with them because our room keys were also our tickets into the park. Surprisingly our room was ready when I got to the desk and we received a “Magical Moment” as a part of the “Year of a Million Dreams” that upgraded us to a concierge level room {Room #4254}! This proved to be a fabulous added bonus! The rooms at the Boardwalk have just been completely renovated and were equipped with wonderful beds/bedding, a flat screen TV and a small balcony. The bellhop brought our luggage up and we quickly settled in before heading out to our first park!

We took the Friendship boat over to Hollywood Studios. I was feeding the tickets through the machines and was not paying attention to which ticket I fed through. Now when you put your ticket through for the first time, you place one of your pointer fingers on a scanner and it scans your fingerprint. I put Jody’s ticket through and placed my left pointer finger on the scanner. Before I had realized what I had done, it was too late and the lady working the machine said it couldn’t be changed and it would have to remain that way the entire trip…so Jody’s ticket was my left pointer and my ticket was my right pointer!

One of the big things now at Disney is pin trading. I had bought the kids lanyards before we left for our trip. Jody and Banks immediately got into pin trading with the cast members for their pins which have “Hidden Mickeys” on them. Banks learned to spot them quickly!
We were all famished by this point because none of us had eaten anything all day. We found the Toy Store Pizza Place Arcade and inhaled some pizza! After lunch we headed over to the Muppets 3D movie. We then tried to get Fast Passes for the new Toy Story Mania ride but they had all been given out for the day and the regular line was estimated at 1 ½ hours {tip: learn how to use the Fast Pass System…it is the only way to survive}. We opted to move onto Playhouse Disney. The kids both enjoyed watching the characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and the Little Einstein’s. We even got to meet Handy Manny himself after the show! We had just enough time to ride The Great Movie Ride before securing a spot for the Block Party Bash Parade with all the Pixar characters. After the parade, we headed back to the Boardwalk for a little rest and a snack from the concierge lounge.

I had also gotten the baggage claim number from the stroller swappers in front of us and the concierge helped me locate the missing stroller. When we got to the valet to get our car so we could pick up the stroller, we discovered they couldn’t find our car keys! We told them we really didn’t need the car…we just needed to pick up a stroller from a different resort. We told the concierge what was going on and he sent his assistant over to pick up the stroller for us!

We headed over to Epcot around 7:00 that night for our 8:50 dinner reservations at Le Cellier Steakhouse in Canada {the lady working that ticket scanner cleared out Jody’s ticket so his fingerprint could be associated with his ticket}. As soon as we got into the park we checked in at the restaurant and luckily they could take us early {we were very grateful because it was threatening rain}! It was one of the best meals of our entire trip. We highly recommend trying to get reservations there…they do book up fast so you have to make them as soon as you can. The cheese soup was just like the one they serve at the Brick and the pretzel bread was delicious and delightful! Jody said his New York Strip was one of the best he had ever had and my prime rib was wonderful! We finished with dinner just in time for the IllumiNations show {in the rain}! Jody and I were both soaked by the time we made it back to the hotel {the kids had ponchos but we didn’t}. We all crashed for the night! The agenda for the next day: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party...