Thursday, February 27, 2014

Gender REVEAL party!

The kids have been SO excited to welcome a new cousin this upcoming summer.  Auntie Carrie and Uncle Sam hosted their 'gender reveal' party tonight!
 Everyone had to guess whether Baby Mason (see the jars....get it?) would be a boy or a girl.  We cast our gumballs into the baby Mason jar.
 Pizza, wine, family-- what more is there in life?
 Oh-- Rock Em Sock Em Robots...how could I forget?
 In what I deem the "coolest gender reveal party" of the century, Sam and Carrie pre-purchased fireworks.  Blue for a boy and Multi-Colored for a girl.  They had their ultrasound technician seal the gender in an envelope and then gave it to their brother-in-law Kyle so he could choose and ignite the right one!

Here we go!  Is it a BOY or a GIRL???


It's a GIRL!!!  Congratulations, Mama and Papa Mason!  We can't wait to meet her in July!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Magic Kingdom

 We got to the Magic Kingdom bright and early for our last full day in the parks.  We had an 8:15am breakfast date with Winnie the Pooh and his friends at the Crystal Palace.

I had all the characters we met sign my Disney Marathon shirt....how cool is THAT for a souvenir?

While the buffet was nice (and Alex even got fresh gluten free waffles made just for her), it ended up taking longer than we anticipated, and it threw us off our RideMax schedule for the day.  I SHOULD have just jumped ahead in the schedule, but the first few rides were still zero wait time, so I tried to push them all together.  We were doing fine until it was time for us to do the Jungle Cruise.  Had I followed the plan, we would have had a 15 minute wait-- since I went rogue, we waited in line for 45 minutes!  That's FOREVER for us!  

We survived, though, and got everything on our list done, including the new Ariel ride, which was a lot of fun-- Alex knows the songs and enjoyed 'seeing' them come to life.

 Details from Prince Eric's castle-  it was really gorgeous



 Meeting Rapunzel...and being totally confused when the Princess asked Alex about details from the movie...like her little friend "Pascal"....should have prepped Alex a bit more for that one.
 Trying to pull the sword from the stone-- no luck this time, but maybe next visit...
 Enjoying the sights and sounds of the Tiki Room.....such fun!





I had to let go of some control this afternoon-- Alex had a Disney gift card which she could choose to spend *gulp* however she wanted to.  Her original idea was to buy an Elsa dress, but it soon became apparent that they were nowhere to be seen.  She then had a decision to make-- either wait and order on online when they were back in stock, OR choose a different dress.  We WERE at the Cinderella castle dress shop, and she made the decision to go with another dress.  So now I have TWO Disney dresses in my house!

My afternoon snack-- a caramel apple!  Yum....and I needed the sugar boost to get me through the last evening.  We headed back to EPCOT, because Alex wanted to ride the Figment ride again...and again....and yes, again.  We also went on the Land ride, which gives you a tour of the EPCOT gardens, and then ate at the Seasons cafeteria, which uses a lot of the produce that they grow right there.  A great, healthy dinner to counteract the 'apple' that I inhaled earlier.
We had a wonderful few days-- I have a delightful daughter who is a fantastic traveling companion.  I look forward to many, many more mama-daughter trips in the future!

Monday, February 24, 2014

EPCOT


 After our daily afternoon rest (another invaluable Disney Tip-- do that if you possibly can!!), we headed to EPCOT.  We had a date with the princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet, but before we had two important stops to make (per Alex).

 Club Cool-- the Coca-Cola tasting station where they have flavors of soda from all over the world.  They range from a bitter digestive (Beverly from Italy) to a sickly-sweet Kiwi-Melon from Japan.  Alex decided that she really enjoyed the Raspberry flavored soda from Zimbabwe.  I decided that we'd ingested altogether too much soda and it was time to move on before we got sick!


The first time through, Alex was excited, but a little nervous.  We'd watched the youtube ride-thru (if you have kids like mine, those ride-thru videos are worth their weight in GOLD!), but things are always a bit different when you're experiencing them.  She loved it.  She was so excited about all the things she'd seen that she couldn't stop talking about them--

I haven't mentioned it yet, but by this time (2 days into our adventure), I was absolutely marveling at how well Alex was processing and handling everything.  She had had NO behavior problems, was courteous, polite and patient the entire time.  I just felt so lucky to be able to have such a wonderful vacation with my special girl (especially when kids were melting down left and right....this is Disney, folks, the LAND of the over-tired, over-stimulated meltdown!).  She never even ASKED me for anything from any one of the countless gift kiosks or shops we'd wandered through.  So as I watched her pick up a Figment toy, hug it and put it right back down, I followed behind her and picked it up again.  That Figment was coming home with us!

By then it was time to get changed into princess-wear (remember the costume that Santa brought Alex this year?) and go to dinner.  We managed to catch a glimpse of Ana and Elsa in their character meet and greet spot, but the line was 2 hours long!?!!  so we decided that we'd just put them on the "next time list" (also a great tip if you have a kid who trusts you enough to buy into it!)
Apparently Ana and Elsa have the 'must have' dresses for the season.  We got more than a few questions about WHERE she got ahold of that dress, as the Disney stores are completely sold out- apparently everywhere!
Princess Cinderella and Alex (she wants a shirt for next time that says "I am not a princess!"-- she got a little self-conscious and embarrassed when all the cast members addressed her as "Princess" , as they are supposed to do!)
After dinner we stumbled across the lighted fountain as we headed back to the hotel to get a good night's sleep- we were in bed by 8:30!

More Disney World Tips!

Stroller Details:  As I mentioned before, we rented a stroller from Kingdom Strollers, who have some great strollers to choose from.  For this trip with my six year old who never usually rides in a stroller, I requested the City Mini Elite.  It was big enough for Alex to ride (and nap, if she ever would) comfortably- no feet dragging on the ground.  The other nice feature of this stroller is that it folds up SO easily- just a one hand strap.  The only downside is that you can't keep your stuff in the basket underneath when you fold it (well, at least not much more than a few flattened ponchos).



How I jazzed up my stroller for Disney World:  Wrap your handlebar with a brightly colored ribbon.  It makes it INSTANTLY pop out of the sea of similar strollers in the massive stroller parking areas.  Disney cast members will move strollers around to maximize the area, so your carriage might not be exactly where you left it.  This ribbon solves that problem instantly, without the annoyance of a balloon tied to the handlebar (which I saw there, too-- same idea, more of a hassle).

 I snagged one of our velcro stroller-clips to add to the handlebar-- came in handy for the things that I didn't want to keep getting in and out of my bag-- namely hand sanitizer and a little led keychain light (which we brought for dark rides, but didn't actually use).

 Last tip:  Instead of a backpack or baby bag, bring a large see-through plastic bag that fits under the stroller when you're not using it.  It saved us MUCHO time in the security line (and several guards thanked me for using a plastic bag).  This one I recycled from my RunDisney race, and it lasted exactly three days before a hole appeared in the side-- so bring a couple if you have a longer visit.

In our bag (for those who are interested):
-Sunscreen
-Tiara and Princess Dress (this was our EPCOT Princess dinner day)
-Gluten-Free Pretzels and applesauce
-Small Medical Bag with children's advil, bandaids, neosporin, excedrin migraine and tums.
-Two rain ponchos
-Alex's ear protection (we used these with great success)
-a bottle of Powerade and a refillable water bottle
-one top layer and one bottom layer for Alex, who got pretty chilly in the morning and at night.

Hollywood Studios

Well, it was down to just Alex and Mama for the next two days.  We had a grand time-- I don't know why I EVER thought just having one child was hard!  What a breeze (although I do admit to having pre-panic moments of "where is the little blonde one?!" that set in every time I did a quick head count!).  Alex and I headed to Hollywood Studios this morning-- it's a park that we really only went to because we had Park Hopper passes and Alex wanted to see the Beauty and the Beast Musical.
It was worth it!  We started the day off by rushing to get to Toy Story Mania and were rewarded by 0 wait time (as opposed to a 15 min and rising one when we exited the ride).  Alex had fun 'playing' midway games from the moving car-- I thought it was ok, but it wasn't my favorite.  Too digital for me.  After that ride we wandered around a little and caught the fantastic film about Walt Disney- "Walt Disney- One Man's Dream".  It was inspiring and I loved every minute of his story!
As we exited, Alex caught sight of a Disney Jr. live show-- we didn't really know what to expect, but went in and found a seat.  It was a puppet-based show with singing and dancing-- it definitely would have helped if we knew who any of the secondary characters were!  It looked like the target demographic was the 2-4 year old crowd, but it kept Alex entertained.
Our next stop was the one I'd been waiting for-- the Art of Animation, where we were led in a character-drawing demonstration.  Even though I'd prepped Alex with lots of "you know, this is only for fun" and "it's not going to be perfect-- it's just for practice", she still got pretty frustrated when her version of Tigger didn't measure up to the professional artist's.  Honestly, I think she did an AMAZING job!!  Don't you??



We stopped and played at the Honey I Shrunk the Kids playground and then caught the first showing of the Beauty and the Beast Musical, which was delightful!  Just as we were leaving the park, the skies started to darken and open up.  We had perfect timing, and arrived back at the hotel the moment the rain stopped.


Alex has never seen the movie, but absolutely loved the shortened stage production presented at Hollywood Studios!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Main Street Electical Parade

 After 'resting' and taking a quick dip at the hotel pool (it looks like a Mayan ruin, so we HAD to try it out, even though the water was pretty chilly), we repacked our bags and headed to Magic Kingdom to catch the Main Street Electical Parade.  I've heard a rumor that they're going to be phasing this one out soon, so we had to make sure to get it in.
 I officially have the BRAVEST daughter in the world.  We have spent some time watching ride-thrus of the Pirates of the Carribean ride, just because we all like the song at the end.  But the beginning of the ride is pretty dark and scary-- Alex insisted on going on the ride (as long as her Mama and Daddy were with her) and she enjoyed it!  Tip for enjoying Disney #253:  Bring hearing protection for sensitive kids.  Some of those rides are loud-- Alex was able to relax and enjoy when her headphones were on!
 We managed to snag a great spot while Daddy ran and got some street-food for dinner.  Alex cheated from her gluten-free diet and had some french fries and chicken fingers.  Fingers crossed that her tummy is ok-- it's been looking like we can slowly re-introduce some non gluten-free items!

 Sitting on Daddy's lap is the best place to view a parade.  We also brought a light-up wand from home ($7.95) and warded off the "i wants" when the $15+ light-up goodie cart made its rounds.  Yes!
 After the parade, we jumped on Small World, because there was no one in line.  Alex loves that ride, and was delighted to see all the colorful dolls from around the world.
 We exited Small World just as the fireworks show had started.  Luckily, Alex had her hearing protection, otherwise we would have had a very rattled 6 year old on our hands.  As it was, she did NOT like being as close as we were (we got kind of 'stuck' between the Castle and Fantasyland-- fireworks were going off on either side of us), but she was a trooper, and we made our way out of the craziness as soon as we could.

Time to finally get back to the hotel and get some sleep!  Goodnight, Magic Kingdom!