Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Break 2015-Disney World and Universal

Last year we went to Washington, DC for Spring Break as a family and had the best time. We decided then that it made sense to have our family vacation during Norah's spring break each year. This year...Disney was picked and it was Norah's first time there. I started researching information and got great advice from friends about the trip. I want to document what we did each day so we will remember everything so this post is for us and will be lengthy. The main thing is that we had a wonderful time! Everyday was fun and an adventure. Norah loved it and already wants to go back!

I've also uploaded all our pics from the trip onto Shutterfly and can be viewed HERE.

I used this book to help plan some (this is the website that goes with the book) but I was also told this book is great. I had already bought the first one so didn't order the Birnbaum's book but may purchase it if we go again for some different insights. Also posting on Facebook asking for advice/suggestions from friends was a big help! The "My Disney" App was key to seeing schedules and wait times. Also I had asked Norah when planning trip if she wanted to meet any characters and she stated "no" so that made it easier to eliminate character meetings. I loved the MagicBands and not dealing with the card ticket. We also lucked out as the weather was sunny and in the 80s the whole time we were there.

We stayed at the Blue Heron Resort and this was fantastic for us! Having a kitchen and den separate from our bedroom was just what we wanted (and needed!) and the view everyday was fantastic. It was a super easy drive in to the parks and I would stay here again in a second! We also did all our laundry there so we didn't come home with any dirty clothes...win!

Okay...prep/packing: Thought we did great. With Norah's diet right now of gluten free, I made food up ahead and took it down with us. We ate Breakfast and dinner everyday in the condo except one dinner out. I packed sunscreen but only lotion kind and wish I had picked up the spray kind. I also packed a hat but forgot to take it into the parks and wish I had worn it. We packed comfy clothes and shoes which worked out great for all of us.

Day 1: Travel Day. We boarded our dogs here in Pawleys Island and left around 9 am on Easter Sunday. It was an easy drive down and once we arrived at the condo, we unpacked and hit the pool.

Day 2: We got up around 6 am, ate breakfast, and headed to Animal Kingdom right when it opened at 8 am. Easy drive in and the park was not nearly as crowded as I expected which was a positive. I actually never used my +FastPasses this day because we did not have to wait for any attraction other than one (Rapids.) Here is what attractions we did at Animal Kingdom:
Expedition Everest (Norah's first ride and how I knew she then could ride anything!!)
Primeval Whirl
TriceraTop Spin
Face Painting
It's Tough to be a Bug
Met the characters from the movie "Up"
Flights of Wonder
Kilimanjaro Safaris
Festival of the Lion King
Lunch: Yak and Yeti (Tuna nachos were awesome but the rest we had was just ok. They had gluten free buns for a cheeseburger for Norah and they fry their french fries separately for allergies so she had those too.)
*The only ride we waited for was the Rapids (an hour wait) and we were about to get on the ride when it broke! Norah was disappointed.
**We stayed in the park from 8 am-4 pm. The park definitely got more crowded as the day went on and when leaving the attractions started having long wait times. The lunch reservation which someone told me to make one each day was awesome. It was so nice to sit away from people in air conditioning each day for a break. We all loved Animal Kingdom but I especially like it as I loved the shows and safari since I'm not really a "ride" person. Once we got back to the condo, it was pool time and dinner.

Day 3: Again, we got up around 6 am, ate breakfast, and headed to Magic Kingdom right when it opened at 8 am. Easy drive in and the park was not nearly as crowded as I expected which again was a positive and surprising. Here are the attractions we did this day:
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Peter Pan's Flight
Barnstormer
Dumbo
Mad Tea Party
Splash Mountain
Jungle Cruise
Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade
The Walt Disney World Railroad
Show at Castle before parade (not sure what this is called)
Lunch: Tony's Town Square (awesome...had tomato/mozzarella salads and then Jeff and I split a flat bread pizza. Norah had gluten free pasta and meatballs with fruit)
*Rode Bus into park from parking lot and monorail back to lot at end of day. Bus was super fast but monorail had issues so took forever
*Again left around 4 and did the pool, etc. back at the condo.

Day 4: Same morning routine and we got to Universal at 8 am opening. We did preferred parking which was recommended and it was super easy to get in and out. Worth the extra $8.00. Now we went to Universal to see Harry Potter World. To do this...you must buy a park to park ticket as half of Harry Potter is in Universal side and the other half is in Island of Adventures side plus that is the only way to ride the Hogwarts Express. We all thought the Harry Potter world was extremely well done and all of us loved riding the Hogwarts Express (even Jeff who doesn't really know much about Harry Potter thought it was cool.) Seriously I was giddy with delight to see everything in person. However, Jeff and Norah waited about 20 minutes to ride "Flight of the Hippogriff" and then that was the only ride...the two other Harry Potter rides... "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" and "Escape from Gringotts" both had 2 hour waits in the 8 am time frame! Norah did not want to wait that long so we opted not to do those rides. I used Universal's app to check wait times and all of them were extremely long early. Jeff ended up waiting 40 minutes for a roller coaster and did it by himself. We tried for the Despicable Me ride but it too had a two hour wait. Needless to say, it was decided to end the day early at Universal. We found it not to be the best for younger kids like Norah but more of a place to take 12 and up. We did have the best lunch at "Cowfish" before leaving as it reminded us of Charlotte! I think Universal is geared towards the older child/adults and I think beside Harry Potter (which I still think about!)...we were not at a stage to enjoy Universal as much as we thought. Leaving early also helped let Norah have more pool time in the afternoon and allowed Jeff and I a little bit of a breather for the week so it worked out nicely.

Day 5: We headed back to Magic and literally got there before the gates even opened! We felt really prepared today having been there before...we were like Disney professionals at this point. ;)
Here are the attractions we went to:
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Astro Orbiter
Stitch's Great Escape (Worst thing ever...wish I could have gotten those minutes back...yuck!)
Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
Space Mountain
Tomorrowland Speedway (Norah drove me and I laughed so hard...it was awesome!)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
PhilharMagic Movie
Swiss Family Treehouse
Sorcerer of Magic Kingdom (We happened upon this and so wish we had found it the first day we were there. This is a magical scavenger hunt throughout Magic Kingdom and Norah loved it so much! She honestly wants to go back to just play this!!)
Walt Disney World Railroad
Lunch: Liberty Tree Tavern (meh...nothing great...we had burgers. Norah actually said her gluten free bun was the best gluten free bread she had had so win for her!)
*We took the bus again in the morning and ferry back that day. We were sad to leave this day and I actually wish we could have had one more day in Magic Kingdom...and Norah did too!

Day 6: Travel Day. We left around 8 am and traffic was worse the whole time compared to our trip coming down. Still an easy drive and we got home, picked up dogs, and crashed! :)

I must say that I went into this trip a little hesitant since I'm not a "rider" (I really enjoyed people watching while Jeff and Norah rode most of the rides...and being outside in the beautiful weather while waiting was a plus too!) but I can truly say that we had an amazing time. I actually will admit that I would like to go again with Norah...we will see! I think the biggest thing is planning and really talking to Norah about the trip and what she wanted to do. Of course you tweak as you are there but having a plan really helped us do all we did. Norah loved it all and the excitement she had the entire trip was amazing. She was so happy!

Yesterday was spent getting back in gear and back to the normal routine. We did get to go to a friend's last night for oysters, crab, fish, various apps, wine, and lots of adult time...which was needed! Plus Norah enjoyed playing with kids! Now I'm off to run errands and work some before our Spring Break comes to an end. I hope I covered everything!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Super Busy and Movies/TV...

I hate that it has been a month since I posted as I have forgotten all the little cute details of Norah's life and slacked on pics. It is that time of year that becomes very busy at school...come on Spring Break! Plus there is always something going on anyway when you have a family...so here is a brief recap. Unfortunately...I know I'm leaving things out but hopefully I will do better in the future.

Norah's class dressed up and 2nd grade did a program regarding a book they had read. Her class was to dress to represent China by wearing red. They sang a song in Mandarin which Norah thought was so cool. I was glad that I got to see her in it!
They played a game that was a Chinese version of "Duck, Duck, Goose"

This is Norah and a cute friend in her class. Norah loves all the kids in her class! She went to a birthday party for this sweet friend at MagiQuest and had a blast!

Jeff and I squeezed in a date during Happy Hour one Friday and it was really fun!

Norah and her dogs! Finn turned 4 years old this Month and Darcy will be 4 in April....kinda hard to believe.
Another thing that has kept us busy...Disney World planning. It is almost time and we are all excited about having a vacation!
We live in a great neighborhood and it is nice to have a last minute get together! Oysters, beverages, kids playing....and burning trees! Always fun!
Jeff and I were talking the other day that this April we have been together 13 years...seems long and short all at the same time. :)
There have been other things...Norah still going strong academically and loving school. We were in a little fender bender (not my fault and everyone ok), Norah had her physical for camp and still off the charts, and embarked on the Gluten Free way for her which we are figuring out. Norah has a new playroom set up which she is loving including her own "couch" and new TV. Jeff and I have been busy at work and trying to get some house things done. We have been trying to get back in gear going to Church more regularly and find that going to the 8 AM service is a better fit for us lately as it allows us to still have the day to do the usual run errands, work, etc. Anyway...on to a few fun things I actually remember! ;)

We have seen some great movies lately. First one..."McFarland USA" which Norah actually picked. This movie is fantastic! Every family should go see it and I think schools should take kids to see it...wonderful story. I hope I can instill half the work ethic, team spirit, perseverance, etc. in Norah...the kids prove that hard work pays off.
My mom came in town which we enjoyed! So she, Norah, and I went to see the new "Cinderella" movie and it was done right! First....I do love all things British so that is a major plus. Effects, wardrobe, acting...it was all great!
Today we had standardized testing at my school so we watched "Big Hero 6" in the afternoon...another super cute movie! I love all these movies lately where a character is so selfless and kind. (Baymax reminds me of Groot in "Guardians of the Galaxy.")

Now I admit that up until this weekend...Jeff and I have been non-stop with "things" to do. But this weekend we actually had some down time which was extremely needed. So instead of reading (which I am behind on!) I watched some Amazon.com via Roku. First up, "Death Comes to Pemberley"...which not only do I love all things British but Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice characters...yep...love it. Of course Matthew Goode and Matthew Rhys are not bad to look at either! :)
Jeff did not watch the above with me but we did watch two episodes of "The Affair." Once it started...I admit it was nothing like I expected. I find the set up of the show split into two segments where Noah retells the memory and then Allison retells the same memory from her perspective...and to see the differences an incredible way to do a show. I think that is fascinating how people remember certain details differently. I also wondered if their names, Noah and Allison, related to names in the book/movie, "The Notebook"...anyone know? Oh well...hope to watch some more of that and still saving "House of Cards 3" for binge watching soon!

Hard to believe it is April next week but I'm excited for warmer weather and soon summer!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Tuesday things...

Well today we are home (no school) as it was predicted that we would have gotten some snow/ice but instead it is just cold! That is how we roll in Pawleys Island, SC. :)

Norah as cute as always!

We had a very low key weekend...maybe too low key in productivity. ;) There was a couple games of Apples to Apples which was a lot of fun!

Norah and I made the front page of a local paper about our new library...I'm even quoted on page 4. Kinda fun!

I did not watch the Oscars but did check out some dresses the next day...here are some of my favs. Had to put a guy on there for the perfect tux! (Jennifer Aniston's dress would have made the list if the bottom half was not see through...because color and fit were great.)


Well I was in a small car accident yesterday. A young driver reversed right into me so I have to take my car in for an estimate. Such my luck! Norah and I are also debating whether to go to the movies today...she wants to see the movie "McFarland." Well here is to hoping that the week warms up and March brings the spring weather!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Five for Mid-week...

1. "Gilmore Girls" Yes...I watched all seven seasons and then have started re-watching (or really just have it play in the background when at home) as there is nothing on TV these days. I really like it. I must admit that I'm a little more Team Chris and not Team Luke and I love Logan. I do hope they make a movie like they did for "Veronica Mars" as there is a lot they could do with it. We will see!




2. Books...so behind on reading (I blame #1 above for this!) Our new library opened in town and it is fabulous! (Lesson learned about going places with no make-up and stuff early in the morning...)I hope this is motivation to get back to reading! What I'm reading and what is up next...


3. I have decided not to return to my current school for next year. It has been hard this year to handle Norah's schedule with mine. I am really sad to leave my school kids but know it is the best thing to do right now. I think I will do something in a work capacity next year on a part time basis but not sure what that means right now...I also know that I will go back to "work" on a more full time schedule once Norah gets older. Right now I feel like she needs me more before, during, and after school and I know I will never get this time back.

(I just wanted to add that I have always taken my job as a teacher seriously (even though it is my passion and second career...I know it is not looked upon as prestigious as other professions to some people) and I was told by an adult the other day not to worry so much about the kids and school stuff...after I was stressing about getting my school kids ready for next year, etc. This kinda makes me sad because don't we all want our teachers of our own kids to care too much? Otherwise what is the point? Anyways...I hope all my students know that I really care that they learn and grow and I constantly have ideas run through my mind of ways to help them not only in math but with life skills. I also hope Norah has teachers who feel the same way. But on a happier note...thank you to the parents who have asked me to stay next year...that means a lot and I will miss your kids more than you know. I also want to note that in the 4 years of my teaching...I have had the best "teams" of teachers...the Mountaineer team to my Middle School Triangle of teachers at my current school...everyone has been amazing!)



4. Norah has started Speech Therapy at school for "R" sounds which I'm really happy about and I think she is too. Staying on the Norah topic...she is going away to Camp Seafarer this year which she and I are super excited about but at the same time...I know I will cry and miss her terribly!! Any advice on camp (for her) and how I'm to survive without her for the week...I'm all ears!




5. Tomorrow we are on a 2 hour delay for school due to cold weather. This could lead for the same for Friday. Only in the South do we close for cold weather...no sleet, freezing rain, or snow. Funny but it does give our Southern ways our true personality... :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lately...

Well we have been a house of germs for the last few weeks (hence, lack of pics and posting.) It started with Jeff, then Norah, and finally me. This week is the first week in a month that we are finally all well. Today was a teacher workday for me (loved a three day weekend!) and Norah had school. Last week we enjoyed Valentine's Day...The middle school teachers I work with are awesome and we had a Middle School party with our kids. We even made them a special Valentine...see pic below!

The kids spoiled us too with flowers, candy, and cards galore. So very sweet! Norah also had a Valentine's Party at her school and she loved it! The week prior...Norah had a Daddy/Daughter dance and it was precious. She loved having time with her Daddy!





A couple weeks ago a friend of Jeff's family let us use their beach house for the weekend. It was awesome! Especially seeing the sunset and sunrise...what a view!



I found a few pics on my phone from our night at the beach house...here is one of them. Ha! I think the kids had fun!
Around my birthday time...a student gave me "butter beer" since he know my obsession with ole' Harry Potter. Love my school kids!

Well it is cold here but no snow for us...boo! I see Charlotte schools are closed again tomorrow and I am a little jealous...I mean if it is going to be super cold here...I want the white stuff!

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Norah time and my birthday...

So Norah made the BEACH program which we are still ecstatic about...then she got all As which is principals honor roll for second quarter, and hit the next point club in accelerated reader. So she got a new Lego Friends set she wanted. Love to see her concentrate in putting it together. I'm also the proudest parent ever when it comes to Norah!

Norah did her second swim meet this weekend. It was a 6 am-3 pm kinda day...but she did great! We were so proud of her! We volunteered since it was held at Georgetown and Frankie, Denny, Susan, and Bill came to cheer her on which she loved. She had the best time...so fun...and we loved watching her!







Saturday night we had family dinner at my moms but then crashed early as we all were exhausted from swim meet. We did do a just us family dinner night on Friday as I really wanted sushi for my birthday. 700 Modern delivered!


Well today is my actual birthday! I've chilled with lots of extra coffee, "Gilmore Girls" on Netflix, and online shopping!


A little Tory Burch from my sister and lighting fixtures from my mom, step-dad, aunt, and uncle. All things I love!

Then a last minute outing to a local restaurant for music and chill time! Thanks Wilcox Fam!


And from my favorite girl Norah...she gave me a clay sculpture she made and is writing me a book...she is the best! Well I'm excited about 2015...even if I'm actually 37 instead of 29...girl has got to dream!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

A little break...

Last week we headed to Charlotte for the weekend. We got to stop by our old 'hood and visit our neighbors. Norah was beyond excited to see William and I think he was happy to see her too! Too cute! I loved seeing my neighbor Sarah and her cute kids! We miss y'all!
We stayed with Jeff's mom and look what we saw out her window ...that is a lot of deer!

Gotta have a family selfie!

We got to spend a lot of time with family...lunch with Jeff's mom, brother, and sister-in-law which was great. Dinners with Jeff's mom. Norah loves all the family time too! We also went to the movies. Jeff met up some buddies and watched "American Sniper" which he said was awesome. Mrs. Hoppe, Norah, and I went and saw "Paddington" which I thought was super cute and really liked. I now want a pet bear that talks with a British accent. :)

It was such a great trip but it went by so fast! I always wish we could see more people and do more things but I guess that just means we need to go back soon! We did eat Panera for breakfast on Sunday as Jeff is obsessed with it! :) I was cracking up as they were both reading the paper...

This was the view from Jeff's mom's back yard on the day we left...she lives on a golf course and it was so pretty!

Basically I "Heart" Charlotte!
We got home and it was so nice to have Monday off too! We have new neighbors here and they have three kids...Norah loves it! So she went over there to play some...I found a new series that I have never watched before... "Gilmore Girls." Yep, new addiction...on episode 10 in first season. It is really cute!
Well the ole' birthday countdown is on...just 5 more days! :)