Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Natalie's Birthday and our Disney Extravaganza!

Natalie turned 3! I can't believe it. I really feel like she is no longer a baby at all. It's bittersweet! We had a very small (just the 5 of us) celebration on her actual birthday. I ordered cookies, we sang happy birthday, and she opened a few presents. We kept it simple because the next morning we were leaving for Disney World with Papa and Bebe. She enjoyed getting phone calls from family members on her birthday as well.

Our first stop at Disney was Magic Kingdom. I can think of no better way to begin! Y'all, we powered through a wonderful (but very long day). We spent 15 hours straight in the Magic Kingdom. We got there early to ride seven dwarves mine train. Charlie and the big kids and I did that one while Natalie rode Dumbo about 3 times in a row with Papa and Bebe. By midday it was sweltering (actual temp of 94 with a heat index of 105), but that didn't stop us from sitting in the blazing sun to watch the Festival of Fantasy Parade. We rode Peter Pan's flight (all of us) in the late afternoon, and did a number of other rides, character meetings, and shows all in the midst of that. We powered through to the fireworks which were amazing!

Somehow after our insanely long first day at Magic Kingdom, we still managed to get up by 6:30 to arrive early at Animal Kingdom to hop on some popular rides. Bebe decided to splurge for Animal Kingdom, and she signed us up for a VIP tour! We used Stone VIP tours (for anyone that is interested). Basically, having a VIP tour meant that we had a wonderful guide assigned to us for our day. Her name was Salina, and she was awesome! She totally structured our day (constantly working on our fast passes) in a way that allowed us to walk onto every single ride! We got to do everything in Animal Kingdom and we were done by 4:30. She never made us feel rushed, she helped entertain the kids, pushed our stroller, helped Bebe navigate her ECV rental, went in search for lost water bottles, helped us get food etc etc. We loved the kilamenjaro safari ride and the Kali river rapid ride, and Charlie and I rode Expedition Everest just the two of us, but hands down my, Charlie's, and Callie's (I think Coleman was a bit scared) favorite ride was Avatar Flight of Passage! This was not just our favorite ride at Animal Kingdom, it was our favorite ride in all of Disney! Thanks to Salina's expertise, we walked right on this ride as well! Can I just say it was the best ride of my life?! Seriously! Amaaazing simulator ride. It takes simulator rides to a whole new level. We decided by 4:30 that it was time to leave. We had literally done everything in the park and we just didn't have energy to stay much longer. We needed a slower evening because we still had Epcot/Hollywood Studios to do the next day.

Finally, our 3rd morning, we headed to Epcot. It was yet again an early morning. We needed to arrive at Epcot by 8 to be at the front of the line for Frozen Ever After. Natalie wanted more than anything to meet Elsa and Anna and do the Frozen ride. We all loved the Frozen ride and right after the ride, we went next door to meet Anna and Elsa. We probably waited 40 minutes, but it was worth it for Natalie (and I think Callie liked it too!) After that, we rode the Nemo and Friends ride and then did Soarin'. Coleman loved Soarin. I think it was his favorite ride. He and I rode it twice back to back because we had enough fast passes. We walked around world showcase a bit in the afternoon. We got ice cream in France and saw a mime giving a show in Italy. We sampled some caribbean food from the food and wine festival, and then hopped on a boat to head from Epcot to Hollywood Studios. We had managed to secure a popular fast pass at Hollywood studios (we had learned a thing or two from Salina!) called toy story mania. We wanted to make sure we had time to ride that ride before we went to see Fantasmic (the evening light show at Hollywood Studios). After Fantasmic, it was back to the hotel. We left the next morning for the airport. Hats off to Papa and Bebe for treating us to a fabulous vacation!!!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Summer Trips!

We just finished the second of our two planned summer trips. Our two vacations did NOT disappoint. We were blessed to have enjoyed so many beautiful places. The older I get, the more I appreciate the beauty of all that God has made. First up, are pictures from our beach trip. We adventured to an unknown (to us) coast this year. We went to the Florida panhandle, and stayed in Inlet Beach (right at the beginning of 30a). It was a great spot, complete with gorgeous water and not too many people. One day we rented a pontoon and toured a nearby island (shell island). It was fun to spend an entire week at the beach with extended family. It rained a good bit, but thankfully we had our fair share of sunshine too! I really loved this beach spot, and I would be more than happy to vacation here again in the future.

Our next trip (the one we just returned from) was another first for us. We went camping! This was actually our 3rd time doing a vacation with the Deal family. Our previous vacations with them were at Dewees Island, but this year we did something different. We headed up to Lake Jocassee in Oconee county South Carolina. Can I just say, this lake is a hidden gem?! I have visited the lake multiple times before, but have never had a boat on the lake. The lake is gorgeous, but being able to explore the lake by boat was amazing! There is a panoramic view of the mountains all around the lake, and the water is the prettiest lake water I have ever seen. It is bluish green and super clear. You can perfectly see 6-10 feet below you when you are in the water. We saw fish swimming all around. They actually train scuba divers in this lake because of the water clarity. Perhaps the most amazing thing about Jocassee is that with a boat (and a good map), you can explore and find about 6 different waterfalls spilling into the lake from the mountains above. It was so fun for us to discover a waterfall and then anchor the boat while we swam around it. It felt magical! There were even a couple of smaller waterfalls that we hung out at all by ourselves for a couple of hours. I love beautiful, remote (uncrowded) places!