Monday, July 9, 2012

Happy 4th!

We celebrated the 4th of July  by having lunch at Nana and Papa's, as well as playing a rousing game of BINGO... Micah was the grand prize $20 winner!  In the evening we watched fireworks at a local high school with some good friends from church.  I forgot to take my camera :(  But, Micah captured this picture on his cell phone before we left the house... even the dog was happy to have his own glow necklace.  ha!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Disney World Vacation

After a 260-day countdown... it was finally time to go!

Thank you for the charts Bailey... the kids loved putting up their stickers every day!

We had an amazing week visiting Disney World in Orlando, FL.  My grandparents sponsored this trip for our entire extended family in honor of their 60th wedding anniversary, which was celebrated during the trip.  We were so grateful for the chance to go, and make memories that will last forever!  I have almost 200 pictures from the trip... but I am just going to post some of the highlights from our visit, since I doubt any of you really have time (or desire) to be looking through 200 of my pictures :)  Thank you to other family members who posted additional pics that I "borrowed" for this blog post!!


Thanks to a number of our extended family members being active or retired miliary, we all qualified to stay at the military resort on Disney World property.  It was SO nice... rooms were very spacious, beautiful Mickey-shaped pool, homemade ice cream shop, spa, golf course, restaurant, Starbucks coffee, and more!  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay :)



 The kids spent quite a bit of time enjoying the hotel swimming pool...


We spent four days of our week visiting the Disney World parks.  We were thankful to have Park Hopper tickets, as most days we spent the morning at one park and headed to a different one in the evening.  We had "favorite" rides and attractions at each one! :)

EPCOT
Favorite Attraction:  Soarin'
Summary: We spent a half day at Epcot with the kids, which was perfect for seeing the kid-friendly attractions and shows.  A full day there with young kids would have been too long.  We went back for an "adults only" evening at Epcot, and enjoyed touring the "World Showcase" and watching the Illuminations show.  

The aquarium was really neat... dolphins, sea turtles, sharks!
Dale took Eli's hat and became a DBacks fan!
Lunch with Grandma and Grandpa by the water
The Epcot "Ball"
We spent lots of time using the Disney transportation, so we got to know the monorail and bus systems quite well.  It was amazing to me how spread out the parks were from one another, and how large the property was!

MAGIC KINGDOM
Favorite Attraction:  Splash Mountain (Eli), Big Thunder Mountain (Mikayla)
Summary: The Magic Kingdom is a smaller version of Disneyland.  This tied with Animal Kingdom for being our "favorite park."  We love the atmosphere in the MK, and enjoyed so many rides, parades, shows, and characters here!

We enjoyed the Street Parade in the MK, as well as the electric light parade in the evening
You just can't visit Disney without riding Dumbo...

The kids enjoyed MANY character encounters during our stay, and filled their autograph books with lots of signatures... though I don't think they ended up with quite as many as our last Disneyland trip.  They still loved the characters, but this visit they were more into the rides than ever before.  The constant question was, "When can we go on another ride?????" (even if we had just gotten off of one) :)


And going along with tradition... Micah spun the kids like crazy on the teacups.  I was sick just watching them.
One of our favorite shows was an evening light show at the MK where they used high-power projectors to completely change the appearance of the castle, including portions that appeared multi-dimensional.  It was awesome!

HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

Favorite Attraction:  Toy Story Mania and Tower of Terror
Summary: Hollywood Studios was another park (similar to Epcot) that we only really needed to visit for half a day, due to the ages of our kids.  We could have stayed longer and taken in more shows, but instead we hit the big headliner rides and then spent more of our time in other parks.

Ready for Toy Story Mania!
I couldn't believe that the kids rode the Tower of Terror this year... can you spot them???
So proud that they conquered the Tower!
In honor of their 60th anniversary, our family was able to sit in the reserved VIP seating area for the Fantasmic show at Hollywood Studios.  We love this show at Disneyland, and loved it here too - it was fun to pick out the differences between the two :)

 ANIMAL KINGDOM
Favorite Attraction:  Safari
Summary: We really liked Animal Kingdom because it is unlike any Disney park you can find in California.  We loved the rainforest/jungle atmosphere, and the animal sightings were amazing!  


Yes, we did rent a stroller for the week for our 5 & 6 year old... and we were SO glad we did.
Benefits: carried all our stuff,  kids didn't whine about not wanting to walk anymore, and we could walk at "adult pace" in the parks :)
Eli's new "fish friend" (There was actually a hippo in this aquarium!)
Ummm... don't look now Mikayla, but there's a large ape behind you...
Mama and Baby
This dinosaur ride was pretty scary... the picture is taken right as a scary dinosaur comes jumping out.  I love Mikayla's face (she hated this ride), and I think Eli's eyes are closed :)  In the end, Eli said he loved it.  Go figure.
Another momma and baby :)
You can see "Mount Everest" way in the background... the kids rode the large Expedition Everest roller coaster, and let's just say they weren't quite ready for it yet.  It took them awhile to recover! :)
Doug and Russell!
Ready to watch "A Bug's Life"

CHEF MICKEY'S CHARACTER BREAKFAST
A number of us enjoyed attending a Character Breakfast at Chef Mickey's in the Contemporary Resort.  We were greeted by Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, and Pluto.  The kids (young and young-at-heart) all had a great time!



Is Grandma giving Donald a high five or shooing him away?



Waving our napkins for the party song!!!
We love Grandma!

 GOLF
Some of the guys in our group chose a golf outing at the award-winning Magnolia Golf Course, in lieu of the character breakfast...

Mickey-shaped sand trap!

Love the Mickey golf carts!!


WEDDING AND ANNIVERSARY
Congratulations to my Grandma and Grandpa who have been married for 60 years as of June 21st!!  That event was the reason behind this entire trip (my Grandpa gives all the credit to my Grandma for coming up with the idea for the Disneyworld trip... he says he just went along with it) :)  We had a lovely lunch reception to honor them, completely with a family trivia Jeopardy game, Maple Tree poem, a fingerprint picture, memory book, and much more.  It was so nice to have everyone together to celebrate and to honor them in this milestone.


60 YEARS
Love you guys!
Congratulations also goes out to my Uncle Rob and Aunt Diane, as they "got hitched" at our beautiful resort in Orlando.

The Newlyweds
Bricks in honor of the wedding and anniversary.... so sweet!



The WHOLE Gang... what a great week we had with all of you!  Let's do it again... 2013 anyone???

THANK YOU Grandma and Grandpa for blessing us with such a wonderful vacation.  We enjoyed every moment and will talk about the memories for years to come.  We are thankful for your example in marriage, and hope to one day celebrate our own 60th Anniversary!  Who knows, maybe we'll celebrate at Disney World just to keep the tradition going?? :)