To Disney We Will Go

My girls will be three soon.  And with most things, when a kid turns three, the freebies go away.

No more free admission to festivals or amusement parks or swimming pools.  We will have to pay the rate for kids under 10 or 12 or whatever the age is.

The same goes for Disney World.  Before their birthday, they are free.  After, they are not.  Before their birthday, they don’t need fast passes for rides as long as an adult who is with them has one.  After their birthday, they will.

So, here’s the deal.  A 5 day theme park ticket for adults (or, visitors over the age of 10) costs $304.  A 5 day theme park ticket for children ages 3-9 costs $284.  Add Park Hopper and that’s another $60 per ticket.  A child 2 and under is free.

I have twins.  Do you see the economy in changing our trip plans from the March AFTER they turn 3 to the week BEFORE they turn 3?  I realize that my kids are small and I could PROBABLY pass them off as 2 year olds for another 6 months to a year (if not longer) but I wouldn’t be able to do that.  I can’t lie to Disney!

So here I am, planning our very first family trip to Disney (along with my best friend, her husband and his daughter, and my best friend’s brother and his girlfriend).  The first thing I did was what any sane mother of twins would do.

I asked my mom and mother in law to go with us.  Because I need babysitters.  I need extra hands.  I need help.

Then I called a travel agent.

Disney makes it easy to NOT need a travel agent, but Disney travel agents are also free.  So I could use her to help, even though I didn’t “need” her help.  I took it.

We got our reservations.

Generally, I’m a Marriott/Ritz kind of girl.  I don’t stay at Quality Inns or Sleep Inns or whatever other Inn you usually find off the scary exit on the interstate.  I look for big, brand name hotels, preferably with a spa.

But Disney is different.  Sure, there is the “Marriott” of Disney (aka the Grand Floridian) but I weighed the pros and cons.

Pro: Super nice hotel.

Con: Super expensive hotel.

If we were going anywhere other than the happiest place on earth, which I imagine to also be one of the safest places on earth, I would have probably chosen the more expensive place.

Instead I looked at pictures.  And read mom blogs and online forums.  And I talked to friends.  And everyone I spoke to said “It’s a hotel room.  It’s at Disney.  No matter where you stay, it will be nice, but if you want something your KIDS will enjoy, stay at Art of Animation.”  AoA is a “value” resort.  So by Disney standards that means you can get a room with two double beds or a king bed for around $120 a night.  Or you can get a suite for less than $300 a night.  A suite has room for 6.  Me, the husband, the twins, my mom, his mom.  This saved us from having to pay more than $300 a night for multiple rooms.

Perfect.

Also perfect is the decor.  We could choose between Finding Nemo suites, Lion King Suites or Cars Suites (the single rooms are Little Mermaid).  First choice was Nemo but they were sold out for our dates.  So we went to Lion King, which was good since the twins have become OBSESSED with the Lion King recently.

We also considered a suite at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge but it was more than double the cost and, quite frankly, it wasn’t nearly as cute.  Plus, let’s face it.  We are going to be at Disney.  Chances our we will be in our room to sleep and that’s it.  I remember going to Disney when I was 12 and we were NEVER in the room.  EVER.

So, Disney does dining reservations 180 days out.  Which is a long time when you think about it.  We started planning our trip about 182 days out.  So my agent had to do our dining reservations IMMEDIATELY.  And she did.

We wanted a lunch at Cinderella’s Royal Table.  Lunch because it’s cheaper (and the same food) and CRT because my kids are obsessed with all things Princess.  What my kids DON’T know is they will have a special birthday surprise while eating at CRT.  Tiaras, balloons and a special Ariel Cake.  I think I’m more excited about this part than anything.  We got a late lunch – after 2 pm – but it will work out perfectly because that evening we will be attending…..

Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! 

The late lunch will give us the ability to go back to the hotel after we eat and put the kids down for a nap (and maybe even put ME down for a nap).  After the nap, we will get dressed in our costumes and head out.

My girls are Anna and Elsa.  Much like every other female child under the age of 12 this year.  I will be Olaf (sort of, I will be wearing an Olaf shirt).  My Husband (and my BFF’s husband) will be the PPA – Princess Protection Agents.  The grandmothers are going to be the Fairy Grandmothers in their special carriage shirts.  We will also have another Elsa.  The others I’m not sure of yet.  Regardless, we will all be adorable, of course.

Anyway, before I get into the true details of the trip (a post for another day), I have to point out the absolute best part about planning a Disney trip….picking out what your kids will wear!

I know, it’s not a requirement but let’s face it, few things in life are as fun as dressing up kids for special occasions.  As with most things in life, I went overboard.  It’s ok, I know I do it.

I started out looking for the girls Halloween outfits.  They told me they were Anna and Elsa (as in, “Mommy, we are dressing as Anna and Elsa. We ARE Anna and Elsa!”)  I searched far and wide, or, more accurately, ETSY and found these:

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I ordered them from this shop: LoverDoversClothing and I will 100% be going BACK to this shop to order every single princess dress we ever need.  They are THAT good of a quality.  The girls will also wear these trick or treating here on Halloween.  I did, however, get them capes for that night.

Next I thought it would be cute to have first trip to Disney shirts for the girls.  I found these:

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Which feature mouse ear versions of the twins favorite princesses, Elsa and Anna.  Once I found these I discovered the cutest store, BellaRagazzi.  She makes custom Disney shirts and I thought it would be REALLY cute to have shirts for the whole family.  I don’t have a pic of the shirts the grandmas are wearing but here are two more shirts I had made for the twins PLUS the shirts my husband and I will wear:

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The grandmas have Daisy Duck and Snow White mouse ears.  If you want shirts like these, I highly recommend contacting this shop – HOWEVER do it EARLY!  She gets super busy (especially in the summer months) so you want to order 8 weeks or more in advance.

Ok, so now that that was handled (and my husband agreed to wear the mouse ears shirt when I agreed to put his alma mater on it), I was off searching for more outfits for the girls.  We will be there for 6 days which meant 6 outfits, plus Halloween costumes PLUS changes of clothes just in case.

A Disney staple for all little girls seems to be the Minnie Mouse pillowcase dress.  So I had to get those.  I found this shop which had some very cute dresses:

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After finding those I kind of just searched for other Disney themed dresses and I found the PERFECT dresses for our trip to Cinderella’s Royal Table:

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For good measure, I also ordered two more dresses from this shop because the girls need dresses for their birthday party and an extra set of Elsa and Anna outfits is always appropriate.

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The shop can be found here.  She does a ton of cute halter dresses.

I decided on some additional princess dresses as well, using the twins other two favorite princesses, Ariel and Rapunzel.

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I love how the shop used mouse ears for the princesses on the dresses.  Super cute and SUPER fast shipping.  I was very pleased.

But wait, there’s more (Like I said, I go overboard but, with the exception of the first trip to Disney shirts, my girls will wear these outfits over and over again).  058

A shorts outfit in the event the girls don’t want to wear dresses all week (which I doubt will happen – these girls LOVE dresses).  I found these at Lil’ bug Clothing.

Then the other “extras” in case we need changes of clothes.  I found a shop on Etsy, which is now closed, called DaffeDesigns.  They now operate off their own website, which can be found here.  I ordered a couple shirts from this shop as extras:

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So, there we go.  All the clothes my girls will take to Disney (obviously there are some shorts and leggings that will also make the trip with us, but that’s the main outfits).  We are so excited.

A Book A Week: 50, 51, 52…I’m Done.

So I finished 52 books this year already.  It’s just the second week of September but I’m done.  Of course I’ll still be reading some and maybe if the books are good I’ll write about them

Book 50: Jane Was Here by Sarah Kernochan.

Not much to say about this one.  It wasn’t great but it was free so there’s that.  I don’t even know why I finished it other than I have that need to finish reading things.  It’s about a girl, Jane, who randomly shows up in a town claiming to be Jane – who lived in that town over a hundred years prior.  Eh.  It was what it was.  I wouldn’t read it again and I doubt I will read anything by Sarah Kernochan again.  It just wasn’t enjoyable.

 

Book 51: Don’t Try To Find Me by Holly Brown.

Holly Brown is a therapist so she was able to write about things that would be very real and very heartbreaking to families – mothers especially. This book was basically my worst nightmare.  It’s the story of a girl, Marley, who leaves a cryptic message on the family white board – “Don’t try to find me.”  The story is told by the mother, Rachel and the daughter, Marley.  It’s not a suspense novel in the normal sense.  But it is suspenseful.  Why did this 14 year old run away?  Who did she run to?  How many secrets does this family HAVE exactly?

Marley’s dad starts a media campaign to find his daughter.  Facebook, Twitter, etc.  FindMarley.com.  What he doesn’t know is that Marley doesn’t really have great access to the internet.  She wasn’t kidnapped.  She was seduced.  Through Facebook by a guy who knew a guy she knows – or so he says.  He’s 20 (he says).  They’ll get her a new identity (he says).  Things will be better (he says).

But things aren’t what they seem.  We all know what it means to be catfished at this point.  As Marley finds out who her new boyfriend, B, really is, she can’t decide what to do.  She doesn’t believe she can go home but she knows she can’t stay where she is.  She moved all the way across the country for him and now she’s alone.  Writing in her journal.  As the secrets of Marley’s family come out, her mother is a suspect in the disappearance.  It’s a web of lies.

It’s a good read.  But if you’re a mom, it’s so damn scary.

 

Book 52: Haunted by Kay Hooperhaunted_cover.

I love Kay Hooper and her Bishop/SCU novels.  This is book 15 and although you CAN read them out of order, I don’t recommend it.  Go back to Book 1 (Stealing Shadows) and read them in order.  The entire series will make more sense.  This book will ESPECIALLY make more sense if you read them all – there are many story lines that come together in this one book.  Honestly, I want to reread the entire series.  That’s how much I love these books.

So this is the story of Trinity, a small town sheriff, who lives in a town that is completely safe.  Until the first murder.  Then the second.  Someone is killing her friends one by one.  She calls Bishop for help – she already knew him and his unit of psychics.  I know, I know.  Psychics.  I don’t know how much I believe in psychics but I like reading books about them.

This book has my two favorite Bishop psychics – Reese and Hollis.

There are some parts that were weird – some things that are said and then simply not followed up on (or that are completely misleading for the book).  Regardless Kay Hooper is a great story teller.  Read her books so she will write more.  ;)

A Book a Week: Books 46 through 49

Ok, I have four books to talk about.  Three are part of a series and a standalone.

The Standalone was called Dead Again by Tracy Cooper-Posey.  It was ok.  not worth talking about.  It was predictable and somewhat silly.  Not on a must read list.

The other three.  Wow.  These are must reads – or better yet, use audible and listen to them.  Because I think listening to these is totally worth it and you’ll be like me, walking around carrying your phone so you can just listen for a few more minutes.  The best news?  These books are being made into a tv series by Fox.  Fox says it’s a ten episode “event.”

I was looking, quite frankly, for a cheap audio book because I had used my credits and would be on the road a lot.  so I settled on Blake Crouch‘s novel Pines.

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This is the story of Ethan Burke.  A Secret Service agent sent to Wayward Pines, Idaho to find his missing ex-partner and ex-lover, Kate.  He wakes up confused.  He’s somewhere weird, not sure where he is, all he knows is he doesn’t remember things.  As the story progresses he discovers he is in the town where he was looking for Kate.  But not only can he not find her, or anyone who knows anything about her or her partner who are missing, he also can’t leave.

There are two books after this one.  Wayward and The Last Town.

I wanted the Last Town to continue.  It ended and I was sad, which let’s face it, THAT is the sign of a good story.  The sequels were as good as the original in this, which is hard to do.  Read them all (or listen to them all).  In order.  Don’t miss a word.

And then let’s all watch the tv series.

 

 

Isagenix is not for me

Ok, maybe that’s a strong statement.  It MAY not be for me.

You see, I hear all the success stories – including my own sister – people who have lost 10-20-40 pounds doing the 30 day Isagenix system.  I wanted to lose 10 to 15 pounds so I thought I would try it.  With two two year olds it’s hard to find time to go to the gym and at night I just haven’t felt up to exercising in awhile.  It’s not that I’m heavy.  I just want to get back down to 120, maybe 125 (which is what I weighed two weeks after the twins were born).

Ok, a year.  It’s been a YEAR since I’ve really exercised.

The truth is, there is no “easy” way to lose weight.  Scratch that.  There is no easy way to lose weight and NOT GAIN IT BACK.  It takes hard work, dedication and a lifestyle change.  It does not take two shakes a day.

Here’s how it works.  You buy Isagenix (which, btw, is a MLM strategy to begin with).  They have a 30 day system which includes:

2 shakes a day (for breakfast and lunch or breakfast and dinner)

Natural accelerator pills (twice a day)

IsaFlush (1-2 pills at bedtime)

Ionix Supreme (In the morning)

and then a cleanse which you should do one or two days a week.  On cleanse days, ALL you do is drink the cleanse (and some Ionix supreme…and you are allowed the Isagenix “snacks” in moderation).

The theory is if you do exactly as they say, and do not change your daily routine beyond that, you will lose weight.  Which sounded good to me because of my severe inability to find time to exercise (I know, I know, it sounds like an excuse but I work a full time job, usually more than 60 hours a week, I’m raising twins, I have a house to take care of, a husband, dogs, life….I have life).

Ok, so on normal days, you have your Ionix Supreme, your morning shake and accelerator pill, your afternoon shake, an afternoon accelerator pill, a healthy dinner (between 400 and 600 calories) and your IsaFlush.  And you drink a ton of water.

Quite honestly, it’s easy.  I haven’t had trouble sticking with this system on the regular days.

Day 1: I lost 1.5 pounds.  Sweet.

Day 2: I was down another .3 pounds.  Eh, not bad.

Day 3: I was down another .2 pounds.  I had lost 2 pounds total.  Not bad for three days.  I did discover on day 3 that I felt dehydrated.  My lips were dry I was so dehydrated.  Which made no sense because I was drinking around 100 ounces of water a day in addition to the shakes.

Day 4: I decided I wouldn’t weigh myself again until Day 11.  Which is a weigh and measure day.

Day 5: I tried the cleanse.  That day was fine until around 5:30 PM when I got violently ill.  I was dizzy, nauseated, I could barely stand.  So I made myself a salad.  Just a salad.  And I took a couple bites of my daughter’s dinner.  Nothing more.  I had no more than 100 extra calories in what I ate.

Day 6-10: I kept going on the regular shake days.  On day 7 I cheated a little.  My niece had her birthday party so I had some chips and dip.  On Day 10 I did weigh myself.

Day 11 is today.

When I weighed in I discovered that I had GAINED half a pound from where I started.

Yes, you read that right.  I went UP in weight after losing 2 pounds.  So after day 3, I gained 2.5 pounds.

You cannot tell me that a handful of chips with sour cream dip on them caused me to gain 2.5 pounds.

I did measure myself and according to the tape measure I have lost some inches.  But I don’t know if I am measuring in the exact same spot as I measured on day 1 – basically, if you go down a little on your leg or waist or whatever, you might get a different measurement just because you aren’t exactly where you were the first time.  According to the tape measure I have lost an inch off my waist, 1.5 inches off my hips/butt and .5 inches off each thigh.  My pants disagree though.  They feel the same as they did 11 days ago.

So here I am with 19 days of product left.  I think I’m going to keep trying it just to see what happens but I also decided to add T25 back into my life.  This is the THIRD time I’ve started the program (I’ve never finished it though).  this time it’s hard.  SO hard to do.  Last time I started T25 after doing Insanity and it was easy.  This time I think I will do T25 and then maybe try Insanity again.

Also, another weird thing about Isagenix.  I have a Diet Mountain Dew habit – one a day.  I quit last year for about 5 months and in the first 3 days after I quit, I lost 6 pounds.  I quit on day one of Isagenix and, well, you know what’s happened.

I’ll update again after Day 30.  We’ll see how it goes with the added exercise.

A Book A Week: Books 43 through 45

I’ve been out of town a lot.  So I’ve been able to read some.  I finished three books recently.

First I listened to The Competition by Marcia Clark.

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Yes, this is written by THE Marcia Clark.  I’ve got to say that I wasn’t a huge fan of her when she prosecuted the OJ trial.  Honestly, I thought she (and her team) could have done a better job.  Regardless, I chose the book on Audible for my drives while working.

This is the story of a school shooting.  And it’s REALLY good.  There are things I didn’t like – I didn’t like that we never found out if Kristy lived or died (I assume she died based on how she was shot, but her friends kept asking and no one ever found out).  I did not like how she, Rachel, felt about her boss.  She called him names, made fun of him, complained constantly about having to talk to him.  It was all so juvenile.  Maybe if I read some of the earlier Rachel Knight novels I would understand the disdain for the boss but it was simply annoying.

BUT overall the story was great.  There were twists and turns and a story line that kept you guessing.  Actually, at one point (SPOILER ALERT) I knew who the mastermind had to be.  Just wait for someone to run away and you’ll get it.

Next I read what was quite possibly the worst book I’ve ever read in my life.  NO I am not being dramatic.  The book is Silence by Natasha Preston.

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Luckily I got it for free.  The story line was good.  I mean, it wasn’t horrible.  It got my attention so I kept reading.  But the writing was so amateurish.  I honestly felt like I was reading something that I would have written – when I was 12.  I can’t even explain how bad the writing was.  The grammar was off, the conversations sounded more like conversations between my two year olds than teenagers.  Well, what conversations there were – the main character didn’t speak until the end.  And there were so many story lines that were not properly wrapped up.

Maybe it is an accurate representation of how teenagers act and speak.  But, quite frankly, I don’t buy it.  I may expect too much of people though.

HOWEVER, I did get sucked in to a series.  AGAIN.  The good news is Broken Silence, which I also received for free, was a little better written.

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This is the aftermath of Silence.  Cole and Oakley are reunited.  The reunion was odd.  It’s 4 years later and Oakley’s dad is JUST NOW going to trial.  She left 4 years before and this is the first time they’ve seen each other.  There’s a small fight.  But then everything is fine.  (eye roll).  Another girl is in love with Cole but she wishes him the best when Oakley returns.  Again, not likely, but whatever.

I don’t want to say “Don’t read these books” because you might like them.  I’m just not sold on them.

The Wedding

My BFF got married on Friday.  I was, of course, the matron of honor.  Which meant I had to give a speech.

In my normal fashion, I forgot my notes.  I did remember a lot of the speech but I forgot some.  SO I pulled out my notes this morning so I could put here what I meant to say there.  Actually, I’m quite proud of how much I DID remember.  Here’s the toast I meant to give:

I think I speak for everyone when I say FINALLY.  Quite frankly, a year ago when Angie told me she was going to marry Ben, I thought “Sure you are.”  You see, about three years ago she told me she simply wasn’t the marrying kind.  Marriage wasn’t for her.  It just wouldn’t work.  I’m really happy right now that she proved herself, and me, wrong.  Because if anyone can make Angie the marrying kind, it’s Ben.

We’ve been friends for almost two decades.  That’s a long time to maintain a friendship.  And it’s hard.  There are ups and downs, like in every relationship.  There are the good times, like when we accidentally set things on fire.  And there are the bad times, like when we acted like the high schoolers we were and fought over, what else?  Boys.  But throughout it all, she and I have been able to make our friendship work.

And friendships are a lot like a marriage, just without the paperwork.  A lot of people are going to give you all marital advice today, and probably for the next 50 years.  It’s all great advice, really.  But marriages are not one size fit all.  Every wedding I’ve been to has included “Don’t go to bed angry” in the toast.  But you know what?  If you need to, go to bed angry.  Give yourself that time.  If you need to leave the house for a few hours or a day, you do it.  Ben, Angie will be in my guest room if that happens.  I’ll let you in to talk to her, even if she tells me not to.  The only people in this room who know and understand your relationship are the two of you.  Enjoy that.  It’s your own little secret.

Angie has grown a lot in the past few years.  And I think I speak for her mother, and my mother, and Whit’s mother and all the other mothers who gave us advice on how to live growing up when I say you have done it.  You’ve become the woman that they all hoped you would be.  And I am so proud of you.

There’s family we are born into and there’s family we choose.  And I think that this time, you did good.  Your new family, your chosen family, is perfect.

 

There it is.  The speech I meant to give.  Maybe next time I won’t forget my notes (not next time for Angie, just next time….I also forgot my notes when I was Whitney’s maid of honor).

Just a List (A Book A Week)

I tell myself I will do better at updating about the books I read, but I don’t.  So here’s the list.

39. The List by Jack Kilborn

40. Haunted House by Jack Kilborn

41. Just One Look by Harlan Coben

42. Defending Jacob  by William Landay

I honestly feel like this list should be longer but I guess not.

So the first two by Jack Kilborn.  I had to read them to finish the series.  And, honestly, I wish I had just read Endurance and been done with him.  It’s not that the others weren’t ok.  They were.  I just didn’t have a connection to these books.  They were disjointed and outlandish and just plain weird.

Everyone knows I have a love for Harlan Coben.  This book was one of his better ones (well…ok, they’re all good.  My favorite is whichever one I am reading or listening to at the moment).   This book will make you question EVERYTHING.  At times, I felt like our main character was a little stupid, but over all, it was quite compelling.

Defending Jacob was my first book by William Landay.  And it was a GOOD one.  If you have time to read it, do.  If you don’t, buy it from Audible and listen to it in the car (that’s what I did).  keep-calm-and-love-reading-64