Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 5 : Magic Kingdom

I was almost at my wit's end when I checked the forecast this morning. Yet another storm-filled day and the radar map was more colorful than the past two days. Not good when you have a date with the new Fantasyland. 

Our ferry rides from Ft. Wilderness have been extremely peaceful compared to other forms of transportation. Not that the bus system is bad by any means, but having a friendly captain pick you up, the diesel fumes replaced by the water's breeze is really nice. 

The second day at Magic Kingdom was planned to be spent at Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. We happened to take a path there that for whatever reason few others were taking and stumbled upon a family favorite, Merida! The set where pictures were taken and autographs were signed was beautiful. Just a little nook, but so many great details from the movie, Brave.  Merida was so sweet with Mere (and the boys) telling her they must be twins with all the similarities of hair and name and brothers. Meredith was in heaven. 

We also met Alice in Wonderland and she was a lot of fun. For whatever reason I don't have pictures here, but she was definitely one of the best characters we met. Great personality and wit. We rode the Speedway once, but Ben didn't get to drive so the boys all went again while Mere and I got Dumbo fastpasses and then rode the tea cups. She loved it! She had me going faster and faster and I can't believe she wasn't getting sick. 

This is reminiscent of my trip to Disney. My two great-aunts stood where I did and took pictures of us driving our race cars. I love that I have this and a picture of Charlie driving, too. 

The kids are still on the lookout for hidden Mickeys and thought this might be one but later we discovered that there's a parade that shoots out this Mickey confetti and yes, after the parade the kids joined the crowd I picking some up :)

I love Belle. I love that she reads; I love that she kind of does her own thing in her village; and it was a movie that my Grandpa Roebel bought me (he's my godfather), so there are many reasons I was pumped to visit Belle's Storybook Cottage. But I didn't realize (Kevin neither) how great it would be. First, they went the distance in making it as authentic as the movie, even including a painting in the living room of Belle and her (presumably deceased) mom. 

But the attraction isn't just Belle sitting there reading the kids a story. Each kid (who wanted to) got to have a part! I was impressed with how much the newer Disney exhibits actually involve the kids, which was completely unexpected but thoroughly enjoyed. Charlie played the part of Maurice, Belle's father; Benny played something that Kevin and I can't remember; and here is a picture of Mere playing Mrs. Potts and her job was to hop everywhere she went. Louie didn't play anything and we think he may be at the age where he kind of wants to, but may feel "too old" for it. It made me sad, but it's something I need to come to terms with. 

And I didn't even touch on the "experiences" the kids had. After lunch, Mere and I headed to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique while the boys joined the Pirates League. Believe it or not, the kids loved every moment of their experience. Mere got to pick one of four hair-dos (she got the "diva princess" kind), nail polish, and makeup (apparently she and Cinderella have the same taste in eye shadow). The boys picked their facial hair style, and were given a head bandana, jewelry, and a sash with a sword. This picture shows you the results. I have to say that this was my favorite day at Disney World. There are so many things that I haven't typed up for you that I wish I had time to do because they add so much to our trip, but I don't have time time right now. Good night.  

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Day 4 : Epcot

We woke up to another day of forecasted not-fun-ness, otherwise known as lots of rain. Luckily we're not the people deterred by some thunderstorms so we headed out with our ponchos and smiles, or at least that's what we're telling you. 

There are a lot of people who don't care for Epcot, especially for little kids but Kevin and I are not them. We both have good memories of the park when we went as kids and were excited to take our kids there. It did not disappoint. We started out at Test Track, Lou with Ben; Char with Dad; and Mere with me. First, you design a car and take everything from body type to engine strength into consideration in making the best vehicle possible. I'd like to announce that the pink car with stars beat out the two boy cars!

One thing Disney does well is details, and a place we really saw it was on the Nemo ride. Waiting in line (which, that in itself should be remarked upon: when there is rain like what we've been dealing with, you walk right on to rides. Feel sorry for my kids if they ever go to Kings Island and have to wait 30 minutes to get on a roller coaster!) (and back to the point:) there are such neat effects that give you the impression of being under water with Nemo, but then you see the bars that create queues to walk rough and you realize that they looks as though they've been under the salty water for the past 100 years, all rusted and corroded. Very neat. 

Of course our first stop in the World Pavilion would be China! We saw the 360-degree movie that I somewhat remembered from my trip in 1986, and Kevin confirmed when he said that the Shanghai they depicted barely resembled what he knew, at only a fraction of the size. Also, Kevin came up with the idea for this pic, showcasing the beautifully intricate decoration of the theater. 

We travel along to some different countries and it gets close to our reservation at Germany's Bier Garten and that's when the downpour begins. Yay for a late afternoon lunch! We had live music, a delicious buffet, and a flight of beers. The kids enjoyed trying different things and we all loved the feel of an authentic Biergarten. That's something I really like is that the employees of each country are actually from that country. Nicolai, our host, gave us some history about Cologne, where he is from, and Lisa, our server, was able to give us advice on the menu based on her hometown preferences. 

The kids loved the "Kidcot" stations at each country where they could do an activity, learn about the county, and even get their name written in the language, like here in Japan. Luckily, the rain subsided and we were able to enjoy the countries, albeit it some intense humidity. 

This was a fun surprise.  We were walking through Morocco and the kids were at the Kidcot I saw Jasmine and Aladdin in a room next to it. We got in the room after a but of a wait, but it was worth it. The boys weren't thrilled with the situation because they believed it was a "princess" experience, but I think they got even more out of it than Mere! Not that Jasmine wasn't fantastic, but Aladdin knew exactly what to say to engage the boys nod they loved it. 

We spent the day exploring each of the countries and seeing cool shows like the classic 1986 3D movie "Captain EO" (the kids were blown away when I said I was in 2nd grade when it came out!). Epcot has a night light show called IllumiNations so we decided to get diviner and wait for the show. While I was in line the rains came back full-blast. This was probably the worst moment of the trip so far. We were tired, hungry, there was no place to take cover, so what could we do? The food was ordered so we ate, although Charlie and Meredith were miserable throughout and even though we planned to watch the light show we decided to leave as it was starting. It wasn't a bad thing. We were able get back to our cabin more quickly than if we stayed and basically we had reached our threshold for sogginess. Overall the day was great and I think the kids will remember the good parts. Me, I'm thankful for such a great husband. The rain is pouring, and we're in a sauna in our ponchos, in the second day of rain on our vacation, and Kevin turns to me to clink our plastic cups of Dos Equis and smiles. I am a lucky gal :)


After a day of sore feet and sogginess, we went to bed right after Epcot. I hope to have a 2-for-1 later today. Almost a guarantee if this forecast doesn't change. The radar is looking pretty bad this morning :(

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day 4 : Magic Kingdom

In the guidebooks and helpful website information it says that if you can avoid going to Magic Kingdom on a Monday you should. We didn't, and it worked out just fine for us. We didn't get out the door as early as we (read: I) wanted, but it was fine. I was so caught up in the worries of getting all that was planned done, but we kind of wandered around just taking it all in and had some very special experiences. I'm not sure if this can be done during all seasons, but we took advantage of the September crowd.

One of the things we just happened upon was the Mickey's Magic Show which was not a show, but turned out to be pretty magical. I love this picture.  Mere, in the past, has been terrified of characters. She adores Rosie Red yet she has wanted nothing to do with her. She went straight up to Mickey with open arms and he reciprocated. The whole experience was awesome. He interacted with the kids, "talking" about baseball. He signed an autograph and we took multiple pictures with him. What a great way to start of a day!

(The boys were pumped to find another Hidden Mickey.)

In the "Countdown to Disney" included facts about the different parks. One was that this oak tree in Liberty Square has over 500 offspring trees through its acorns. We thought that was pretty cool so we took a picture. 

B.K. (before kids), Kevin and I had the camera turned on ourselves when we took trips, so I thought I'd include one for old time's sake. Don't mind the drowned rat look we have going on. After lunch today it started raining. And. Did. Not. Stop. Ever. By 7pm it was spritzing, but it never stopped. We missed the Electrical Parade because of it (canceled) and it definitely made the day more soggy, but amazingly, it didn't put a damper on our spirits. In fact, the kids kept singing "Zip-i-di-doo-da" through the downpour. The already smaller crowds were shrunk even smaller and we were able to get on everything in the part of the park we wanted to see in 10 minutes or less. We went on Splash Mountain twice in a row just walking on and I had to say no to a third because I was quite water-logged. Our slow start to the day ended up not being so bad since we were able to make up for it all with the lack of crowds. 

This is a specialty photo Kevin took showcasing our favorite restaurant of the day, Casey's Corner. Not surprising that we'd like a baseball-themed restaurant (the decor was awesome!), but the food was really good and by the time we left the monsoon was downgraded to a trickle. I didn't include our lunch restaurant, but that was pretty good, too.  We ate at the Liberty Square Tavern and had some traditional American fare. It was neat to be called by our hostess as "The Hesses from Ohio,"  like the classy family we are. It was kind of crazy that the family next to us didn't speak English and asked the server for someone who spoke Portuguese and he was able to bring out an employee who did! The staff at Disney World has been amazing, needless to say. 

Someone has been visiting our cabin and leaving towel animals and gifts. Tonight when we returned we found this elephant along with T-shirts that the kids will be wearing tomorrow to Epcot! It's funny hearing the kids discuss who this "mystery"person is. And it was great that Charlie's unhappiness (wet, tired, fell twice on the way home) turned to giddiness when he found his gift. 

Tomorrow is a very early morning as we get an extra "magic hour" at Epcot. Wish us luck in getting out the door!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day 3 : Ft Wilderness Cabin, Pioneer Hall

We finally arrived at Ft. Wilderness around 3:30pm on Sunday and we were greeted with gray skies and rain. Not exactly what we were hoping for, but maybe that means we're getting it out of the way!

We had big plans for our first night: dinner theater at Pioneer Hall called the Hoop-de-doo Revue. We don't know anyone who has done it, but on the Disney boards it's gotten rave reviews! 

We were not disappointed. People off all ages were laughing and singing and clapping along with the entertaining performers while we ate our salad, corn bread, fried chicken, barbecued ribs, cowboys beans, and corn. Believe me, no one goes hungry from this meal. It's topped off with a really good strawberry shortcake. 

The performers go out into the audience and there are lucky ones who get to participate, but even though we didn't have the spotlight shine upon us or be called up on stage, we did have Flora Long come up to chat with us. 

Afterward we were waiting for our family picture to print and Kevin took the kids around the area. The kids found their first "Hidden Mickey!" We hope to post more as we find them. 

This is a sentimental shot for me. We went to Disney when I was Lou's age, Billy was Benny's, Joe was Charlie's, and Joanie was Mere's. we got this exact shot, except I photographed in agony because my finger was pinched between two rockers just as the picture was taken! I loved Ft. Wilderness as the kid and think my kids will have just as much fun!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Day 2 : Charleston, South Carolina

Lou got sick overnight again! He has a bite on his side that may be a spider bite that he came home from camp with, and we're wondering if it's contributing to his sickness. He has no fever, it takes a while for him to get going in the morning (he joined us at the beach around 1pm), but overall seems fine. Oh, and Aunt Cassie painted Mere's nails "Minnie Mouse Red."

I'll probably comment on the weather more times than you care to hear, but I couldn't get over how we lucked out: mid-80s temperatures with steady breeze and blue skies. Perfect for heading to Sullivan's Island! Some neighbors lent us sand toys (and even a princess beach chair!) and we all spent a good portion of the day building castles. 

Billy dug a hole and buried Charlie, then Charlie had to use all his muscles to climb out. He succeeded!  Luckily Benny and Charlie had Uncle Paul and Billy to take them out to ride the waves. As much as I love being at the beach and building sand castles, getting flipped by a wave and getting a suit filled with sand is not something I enjoy. This beach is great in that it's shallow for so far out that the kids are relatively safe while wrestling the waves. 

I was so glad Louie was feeling up to coming out to the beach. The salty air was good for him and of course I was glad that we were all together. He seems to have gotten over whatever was idling him and now we'll be all ready to enjoy our week in Orlando!

Day 1: Charleston, South Carolina

I feel so fortunate to be able to stay withUncle Paul and Aunt Cassie before going to Orlando. It gives us some much needed rest and relaxation before the frenzy of Disney World. 

We arrived in Mt. Pleasant close to 11pm Thursday night. This was the state of the back seat by then! We got the kids in bed and sat up with Uncle Paul and Aunt Cassie for a bit, but we were dead tired and hit the hay not long after. 

Over the night Louie must have gotten sick (twice) and Aunt Cassie was was his kindly nursemaid while Kevin and I slept! I felt terrible for them both. When I woke up on Friday and I could tell that Louie was out of sorts and decided that if disney was going to be fun for him,he was going to have to spend the day resting. 

Unfortunately, that meant missing out on the boating trip around the harbor.  But Benny, Charlie, Meredith, and Kevin had a blast as Uncle Paul showed the sights such as Ft. Sumpter, Rainbow Row, and even some dolphins!

Louie and I spent the day the way a sick kid should: watching unlimited Looney Tunes and some baseball, once the Cubs-Braves game started. 

When the boaters returned we had lunch (all but Lou) and they all headed to the pool. But not much longer and Louie was feeling better and took a shower and we played a board game that was missing the dice but Lou was able to make up new directions. 

(This is a scene from lunch to show how the master bedroom opens up to a screened in porch. The weather has been incredible--low 80s with zero humidity! Benny and Mere wanted in on some Looney Tunes action.)

Before they returned from the pool Lou and I were using Uncle Paul's binoculars to study the birds in the bay behind their home. The tide goes in and out through the day and so it makes for some interesting activity in the water. At this point the tide was out so you could see mounds of clams and herons and seagulls using the shallow water to their advantage for catching fish!

Before dinner we walked down to the water before dinner to enjoy the sunset and the breeze. I swear, there may not be a more relaxing place to be this time of year than South Carolina!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Little things

- this past weekend Benny was gone overnight camping and Louie said that our house seemed empty without him here. 
- Louie has been at Camp Kern since Monday and Benny said that it's not fun when Lou's not here and our house doesn't feel "right". 
- it's really nice to hear them say these things when I was feeling like they were fighting more than getting along lately. I tend to forget that neither of them remember a time without the other, so naturally  they're going to feel a void when one is gone. Melts a mother's heart. 
- when I go to a meeting or have an evening function Mere gets pretty upset and makes sure Kevin has me go up to give her a kiss when I get back. Last night she told him that I need to give her a tight hug and a tight kiss so that she feels it. I complied and what did she say this morning? Mom, why didn't you come up and give me a tight hug last night?!

We leave tomorrow and are debating whether to pick up the boys from school after lunch or at dismissal. We're leaning toward after lunch because the trip to Charleston is longer than we anticipated but who knows if we'll be ready by then. As of right now, we are most definitely not. 

With the wifi at Disney my goal is to use my iPad to update each evening. I'm not sure anyone will be checking in with us, but I do want to remember all the little details of our days and I'm afraid if I don't  type them up every night when we get back it'll all be a blur! Be aware, those of you out there who like pleasing layouts: this blogger app has gotten terrible reviews is not very user friendly so the posts that include pictures may be pretty cluttered. Now, it's time to start packing! :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Counting Down the Days

Testing...seeing if this still works. Maybe I'll keep you updated while we're at Disney World. Interested?