Saturday, November 22, 2014


Halloween always ends up being such a crazy day, as it is also Audrey's birthday.  Plus, it was a school day for Audrey this year.  It is a long day for everyone, but we fit everything in.  We postponed most of Audrey's birthday celebration until her party the next day.

Audrey decided a long time ago that she wanted to be Belle for Halloween, because she had also decided that she wanted to have a Belle birthday party.  She also asked if she could have a Belle dress that went all the way down to the floor.  I started looking for long Belle dresses.  I found a lot of beautiful dresses, but they were expensive!  Until one day, I found one on Zulily for just $12.  Score!  It is definitely a cheap dress, but it went all the way to the floor and had a little hoop in it.  Audrey thought it was perfect!

I had Isla pick out another one of the $12 dresses that were on sale, and she decided to be Snow White.  Easiest Halloween costume year so far for us!

Isla's typical picture scowl.

But Daddy got her to smile for the camera!

It's a tradition to go trick or treating with our friend Cael.

Audrey had a hard time walking in her dress that went all the way to the ground.  She only tripped and fell one time though.

Audrey was a bit shy about going up to the houses to trick or treat.  We found out at the end of the night that she was afraid the houses would have dogs inside them.  The girl is deathly afraid of dogs!  However, she was willing to set aside her fears for the sake of getting candy.

Isla and her broken leg were wheeled around in the stroller all night.  She thought it was great!

It's also a tradition to stop by our friend Lisa's house.

This year Audrey's teacher (the one in the hat) went trick or treating with us.  I thought Audrey would love it, but she seemed shy and nervous all night.  She wasn't quite sure how to act around her teacher outside of school!  We also stopped by her assistant teacher's house (the one in the purple shirt) to go trick or treating.

Trick or treating is a fun tradition for us, and so we keep doing it, even though it would be easier to just skip it and focus on Audrey's birthday instead.    We have also tried to carry on a tradition that my mom used to do when we were kids.  We usually only trick or treated at the houses of people that we knew, and my mom would make treats for us to deliver while we went trick or treating.  I love the idea of giving treats to others at Halloween, so I have been trying to do that ever year with our family.  It's always crazy with Audrey's birthday, but this year I managed to make some caramel apple popcorn to deliver around our neighborhood.  It was yummy.  I was lucky to have some left to give to the neighbors, as I kept eating it myself!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Isla's Broken Leg

Time to play the blogging catch up game, yet again.  I still have a few more posts to write about Disney, but I am going to try to catch up on real life first.

Just over a month ago, Isla broke her leg!  She was just walking on the wood floors in our dining room, and she slipped and fell.  And boom!  Broken leg.  It's just crazy how easily it happened.  I really didn't think it was broken, but she wouldn't put any weight on it, so we took her into the doctor right away.  Sure enough, it was broken.

It was so so horrible watching them put the cast on her.  She was not happy about it. I think she was in a lot of pain, obviously.  But then she also hates going to the doctor and screams when they take her temperature.  Or sometimes just when they look at her.  Getting a cast on was traumatic to say the least.  After the cast, the first few days were ROUGH!  She did not want to move at all.  It was hard to tell how much was pain and how much was fear of pain or fear of the cast.

For a while, she wanted to keep her leg covered with a blanket at all times.  She did not want anyone to see her cast.  She did not even want to see it herself.

We eventually ventured out of the house, but only if she had her fuzzy green blanket with her.  And Doc McStuffins.  A friend gave her the Doc doll when she first broke her leg, and it was her security toy for several weeks.  We couldn't do anything without Doc.

After the first week or so, Isla gradually started to move around more.  By the third week, she was even walking a little bit on her own!

We went back to the doctor last week, and Isla's cast was removed.  She now has a walking boot that comes up to just below her knee.  She can walk around a little more in this boot, but it is still big and tall for her.  So she can only hobble around unsteadily with it on.  The good news about the boot:  She can take it off for bath time!  No more sponge baths!!

She will wear the boot for about three more weeks, and then hopefully she will be all healed up and good to go. I'm ready for my little girl to be able to walk freely by herself again!

One bit of good news in all of this.  Isla is still not potty trained.  It has been a huge source of frustration for us, as she is extremely stubborn and determine not to use the toilet.  However, it turned out to be the best thing ever that she was not potty trained when she broke her leg.  I can't even imagine how annoying it would be to have to carry her to the bathroom and put her on the toilet every time she needed to go.   I never thought I would say this, but I am so glad she is still wearing diapers!  But when her leg is healed...potty training boot camp will begin!

Sunday, November 9, 2014

I will be back!

I refuse to give up on this blog, no matter how sporadic my posting may be.

I have so much to write about:  Isla's broken leg, Audrey's 6th birthday, Halloween, Audrey's adjustment to kindergarten, and a few more Disney posts!

I'm headed to Vegas this week with a few friends for the Leading and Loving It Conference.  But when I get back, I am determine to make catching up on the blog a priority.

So...see you soon!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Disney Trip 2014: Hollywood Studios

We spent Day 4 at Hollywood Studios.  For the whole trip I followed the recommendations of as far as which parks to attend each day.  This was the only day that I chose a non-recommended park.  And that ended up being a mistake.

Touring Plans had predicted a crowd level of 4/10 for this day at Hollywood Studios. So even though it was not recommended, I thought a 4/10 shouldn't be so bad.  And a 4/10 wouldn't have been so bad!  But the observed crowd levels for our day at Hollywood Studios ended up being 8/10!  It was insanely crowded!

When we got back from the park that night, I immediately did some research to figure out why it was so unexpectedly crowded.  It turns out the Frozen Summer Fun was coming to end, and this was the last weekend for the parade and fireworks and some other stuff.  The Frozen Summer Fun was supposed to end at the beginning of September, so when I planned our trip, I wasn't even planning for any of it.  I had to redo our whole touring plan to fit in the Frozen stuff.  I guess everyone else redid their plans to fit in the Frozen stuff, because they were ALL in the park on this day!

It also was Dapper Day at Hollywood Studio.  There were tons of people dressed up in old Hollywood glamour style outfits, posing and taking pictures around the park.  Turns out it was an organized event called Dapper Day, where people are encouraged to show up in costume to celebrate "sophisticated fashion."  

However, even with all the extra people in the park, we still managed to have a good day.  And we still didn't really have to wait in line at all.  So here's how our day went!

8:20 am:  We arrived at Hollywood Studios.  We could have gotten into the park at 8:00 am, as this was an Extra Magic Morning Hours day.  I was so tempted to get there at about 7:30 am, and try to ride Toy Story Midway Mania first thing.  It is one of the most popular rides in all of Disney, and I think it might be my favorite too.  At rope drop, there is a massive stampede of people who walk straight to Toy Story to try to ride it.  I wasn't sure if I really wanted to deal with the chaos of the stampede and trying to park our stroller and get in line with the people.  I've heard it is just insane how people can act about getting into line for the ride.  I wanted to try it, but decided it probably wasn't worth the stress and chaos.

So we walked into the park at 8:20 (still 40 minutes before the public opening).  It looked like this as we walked in, pretty empty!
We decided to head towards MuppetVision 3D first.  But on our way we spotted Chip and Dale with not much of a line.  So we stopped to meet them.  

One of my favorite pictures from all our Disney trips was a picture of Audrey with Chip and Dale in 2011.  I thought we needed a little side by side comparison of then and now.

After Chip and Dale, we walked to the MuppetVision 3D show.   I think it's an entertaining little movie, but my kids are just not big fans of all the 3D special effects!  It was a little intense for Isla at least.

9:00 am  The park was now officially open to the public.  We headed over to Wanderin Oaken's Trading Post and Funland.  This was set up as part of the Frozen Summer Fun.  I'm not sure if it is still going on now or not, or if we were there for its final days. They have a store featuring all things Frozen (which was really lame) and a snow/ice play area.  They have real snow that you can play with for free for 10 minutes.  I suppose if you live in Florida and never see snow this might be fun, but I don't really see the appeal.  Audrey liked it, but Isla was afraid to touch it.

They also have ice skating.  You can rent skates and ice skate for 30 minutes for $10 per person.  We did not do that.

There are also several Aurasma photo opportunities set up in this area.  You download the Aurasma app to your smart phone, then use it to take a picture against a backdrop.  When you point your phone at the backdrop, a character will appear in the photo and you can "pose" for a picture.  It was really cool.  Here is Audrey with Sven and Olaf.

We stopped in a few stores and did some browsing (the girls had a little money they had saved to buy a souvenir) and then we went to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid to use our 9:40 Fastpass.  I really should have read this post that I wrote after our 2011 trip about this show should be skipped with small children.  I remember it being a little scary for Audrey at that age, but I forgot just how scary and intense it was.  With our Fastpass, we were seated in the front rows.  Most people would probably consider this to be a good thing, but being close just made it even more intense.  Audrey was okay with the show this year, but Isla was terrified.  I ended up covering her eyes and ears until the scary part (with Ursula) was over.  Note to self:  the Little Mermaid show here is TOO scary for the 3 and under crowd!!

After the Little Mermaid show, we were planning to stop by the Starring Rolls cafe for a snack as we didn't really eat much breakfast.  But the line was CRAZY long!  I knew it was a popular spot, but I had no idea the line would be so long.  This was my first hint that the day was going to be much, much more crowded than I expected.

10:30  We wandered around for a while to find a snack, then took it with us to find a spot for the Frozen parade.  All of my research led me to the steps in front of the (former) American Idol Experience.  I had read from several sources that these steps are always empty until right before the parade starts at 11:00.  Well, at 10:30 they were starting to fill up, and by 10:35 the steps and all the area around them were completely full!  Another sign that this was going to be a super crowded day at Hollywood Studios.
When we sat down here, it was cloudy.  But by the time the parade started, the sun was out.  And it was hot!  Probably about the hottest it had been on our whole trip.  I felt so bad for all the parade performers who were fully decked out in their Frozen winter gear.  So hot!!

After the parade, I was hoping we could run over and catch the Disney Jr. show that started at 11:20, but we just missed it.  Instead we went to explore the animation building.  Wreck it Ralph greets here, and Audrey thought she wanted to meet him.  But then she saw how big he was and how he was stomping around, and she changed her mind.  I was glad because his line looked really long.  Instead we just explored a few of the exhibits in the building.  There were a couple of interactive computer games that the girls enjoyed.

11:45 am, We still had about 30 minutes until our 12:15 lunch reservation at Hollywood and Vince, but we decided to try to check in early.  And we got right in!  Just in time, because a huge rainstorm came out of nowhere, and it poured shortly after we were seated inside.

The lunch at Hollywood and Vine was another buffet, with food very similar to 1900 Park Fare and Chef Mickeys.  At this point, I was getting a little sick of all the buffet food.  Plus the atmosphere here was loud and a bit obnoxious.  Lots and lots of little kids there to see the Disney Jr. characters,  If you have older kids or no kids, I would definitely skip this place.  But the girls loved it, so Daniel and I took one for the team and enjoyed it with them.  This meal features Doc McStuffins, Handy Manny, Sofia the First, and Jake (from Jake and the Neverland Pirates).  My girls watch all those shows, so they thought it was great!  Here are all the pictures:

1:10 pm  After lunch, we decided to continue on with the Disney Jr. fun and go see the Disney Jr. show.  We got in line at 1:10 for the show that started at 1:30.  I wish we would have waited just a little bit longer to get in line.  For this show, everyone sits on the floor.  And the way the room is set up, those closest to the stage have the WORST seats.  People with Fastpasses sit in the front, as do people who are first in line.  We ended up sitting in the first third of the audience, and it was not the greatest seat.  Being in the back is better.  So I would get here closer to the start of show time, so you can sit in the back!  This is a fun show for kids, as it features their favorite Disney Jr. characters and stuff falls from the ceiling, which is pretty cool when you are in preschool.  It's not so fun for adults, as sitting cross legged on the floor for 30 minutes is not comfortable.  Daniel and I felt really old when we had to stand back up again.

2:00 pm  Time to use our Toy Story Fastpass!  Since we didn't ride it at rope drop, this was our only chance to ride for this trip.  The wait time was 95 minutes!!!!  That's the longest wait we saw anywhere.  I timed our Fastpass wait, and it was 10 minutes from the time we walked in until the time we got on the ride.  I cannot believe all those people waiting in the 95 minute line.  It is a cool ride, but I don't know that any three minute ride is worth that kind of wait.  Yet another sign that this was not a typical September crowd level at Hollywood Studios.

When we got off the Toy Story ride, it started to rain again.  It looked like it might be a big downpour, so we got all set up with our ponchos and stroller rain cover.  It was still only lightly raining, so we decided to start walking and look for a covered place to sit down and have a drink.  The next thing on our plan was to check out the Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area.  But it was still raining lightly when we got there and packed with people, so we kept walking.  Isla fell asleep in the stroller.  Every single snack stand we passed had a huge line.  Then Daniel found us the perfect place.  It was a quiet little coffee shop called The Writer's Stop.  Only a handful of people were in there, and they had open tables!  We crashed here for a while and let Isla sleep in the stroller.

3:15 pm  It was about time to use our Fastpass for the Frozen Sing a Long show.  There are several different ways to get tickets to this show, and we opted for the Fastpass route.  Those with Fastpasses were seated on the far left side of the auditorium.  A few people were complaining (loudly) that we should get better seats with Fastpasses.  However, the Fastpasses just guarantee you will have a seat, not necessarily a good one.  The seats really weren't that bad; we could still see fine.  The theater was completely packed, and there were even people standing along the sides who did not have seats.

The show was much better than I expected.  I knew it was a sing a long that showed clips from the movie, and I was thinking it would be lame.  But they interspersed the songs with some live action that feature two humorous narrators and guest appearances from Kristoff, Anna and Elsa.  Combined with some cool special effects, it was a really cute show.  We all enjoyed it a lot.

4:30 pm  We were pretty tired by now, so we decided to call it a day.  The girls were anxious to spend their souvenir money, so we did a little shopping and then made our way out of the park.

We spent the rest of the evening swimming and hanging out at the resort.  More details on that later.

Next up:  Our last day at Disney, which we spent at Magic Kingdom and a new resort!