Sunday, April 28, 2013

Color Dash 5k

You probably already know that my hubby is a runner (mentioned here) but surprisingly, it took some convincing and a pleading 6-year-old to convince him that we should sign up to run the Color Dash.  The Color Dash is a 5k where throughout the run people throw “color” at you.  The “color” is corn starch dyed with food coloring.  When we registered, we anticipating a blend of running and walking throughout the “run”.  The day of the race, we had a little boy still battling a stomach bug who managed to walk about 1 mile and then spent the remaining 2 miles on top of hubby’s shoulders. 

Here are a few crummy photos from the Color Dash (we had hubby’s iPhone in a Ziploc Bag – which was necessary!):

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Anthony and I before the Color Dash – we had some extra “color” and had been having some fun throwing it at each other! 

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In the photo above you can see we are each holding several bags of “color”.

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We ran into one of Anthony’s school friends and together they enjoyed throwing the “color” and going through the color stations.  This is obviously the green station! 
I’m pretty sure they rolled on the ground through this one!

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They definitely rolled on the ground through this one!  That’s Anthony on the ground with his friend climbing over him.  I’m walking right behind them with the black and green shoes.  Each station was like a color explosion!

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Heading into the pink station! 

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After the run…. Sunglasses are necessary during the Color Dash,
as you can see by Anthony’s face above!  Poor guy wasn’t feeling too great here.

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Quick family shot just before heading home – fun stuff!  I love hubby’s blue ear!

The Color Dash definitely messy!  Would we do it again?  Absolutely - especially if everyone is healthy!  My only complaint is the laundry mess.  Wow!!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My First Attempt… {Digital Scrapbooking}

The last couple weeks have been busy!  I have been working way more than half-time, hubby was traveling and day-to-day life just took over.  I’m not done posting about our trip to Florida (I have several more parks to write about!), I just ended up a little side-tracked.  Still focused on Disney though!

I have a friend who creates digital scrapbooking products and I have been curious about it for years.  She recently collaborated with another digital designer and created an entire series of digital scrapbooking products that they have called Project Mouse.  I couldn’t resist – I decided now was as good a time as ever, so I downloaded their freebies and purchased a few of their designs.  I also purchased a couple Project Life digital templates to get started.

Here’s my 1st ever digital scrapbook page! 

Disney 2013 v2
I'm definitely a rookie with Photoshop, but this was SO much easier than I thought it would be!  The best part?  No mess!  I worked on this while snuggled in on the couch with Anthony at my side.  Perfect!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Animal Kingdom {Disney World}

Animal Kingdom by MomsGonnaSnap
After spending a FULL day (15+ hours!!) at the Magic Kingdom on Monday, we got up early again on Tuesday to spend the day at Animal Kingdom.  I LOVE going to zoos and was REALLY looking forward to exploring this park.  It sounded so much more relaxing and low-key than the Magic Kingdom – the perfect day to follow up our big day at the Magic Kingdom.  Or so we thought...  More about that later.

We started our morning by getting up at 6:15am and catching the 7:15 bus to Animal Kingdom, so that we would be ready and waiting when the park opened for Magic Hours at 8:00.  The morning started out perfectly!  We were there, excited, and ready to go!

When we entered the park we watched the crowd split into two directions.  One group was heading to Asia for Expedition Everest (a big roller coaster) and the other group was headed to Africa for the Kilimanjaro Safari.  We followed the group to Africa, because we knew Anthony would go on the safari, and we were not too sure about Expedition Everest.

The Kilimanjaro Safari was fun!  They take you out in an oversized jeep-like truck and drive you around throughout the safari.  We saw hippos, rhinos, giraffe, long-horn cattle, flamingos, lions, cheetahs, etc.  The animals appeared to be essentially “in the wild”. 

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It was neat!  I had heard that every time you go on the safari it’s a little different because the animals move around (sometimes really close), so even before our safari, we grabbed FASTPASSes to come back later.  (They were our first FASTPASSes of the day)

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After experiencing the crazy crowds at Magic Kingdom, we decided that if there ever was a time to ride Expedition Everest, the time was now, since it was still early in the morning – during the Magic Hour.  We decided to leave Africa and walk over to Asia to check it out.  It sure sounds funny to say that.  We walked from Africa to Asia. Ha!

When we got over to Expedition Everest we grabbed FASTPASSes for later and jumped in line.  Anthony was a little worried, but we kept telling him that it would be similar to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Ummm, it’s not.  At all.  Much bigger.  But we didn’t know that at the time, so we forged ahead.

Here’s the boys, right before our turn -

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Anthony looks happy enough, right?  He was pretty excited at this point!

Here are a few pictures that I took from the ride.  I sure wish I could have seen Anthony’s face!

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Going up, up, up!

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Zooming around through the mountain

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and then we reached the end of the track! umm…

Here’s where the ride started to get really awesome, or super scary, depending on which one of us you ask...  The track changed behind us, so when they pulled the brakes (we were “frozen” when I took this picture) we begin zooming backwards along the track.  Up and down, through the mountain, in the dark, etc. Then we came to another halt and we were suspended pointing forward and down.  Then a yeti flashed up on the wall of the mountain and appeared to be wrecking the track (this was while the track was changed in front of us) and off we went again, on another different path.  It was fun for us big kids, but pretty scary for Anthony.  Definitely his biggest roller coaster to date!  We were super proud of how brave he was during the ride.  Afterwards he was super scared and we just relaxed for about 15 minutes right near the exit of the ride while Anthony caught his breath.  Hubby and I sure enjoyed it though!  Wish we could have ridden it again!

After riding Expedition Everest, we knew we needed to take a break and find some more activities suited for littler ones, so we headed to DinoLand U.S.A.  Here we found a much more kid friendly ride – the TriceraTop Spin (a ride appropriate for any height).

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Anthony was so excited to be on a smaller ride that I think we rode it 3 times in a row.  At that point, we were willing to do anything to help him relax, because we had pushed it pretty good by taking him on Expedition Everest.

Then we headed over to find the Dinosaur ride.  I had heard that it was scary, but people were telling us that it was fine.  He was more than tall enough for this one, so we thought it would be okay.  Anthony was pretty worried that Dinosaur was going to be super scary and he wasn’t going to trust anything we said.  Somehow we got him on the ride though, and at least 2 out of 3 of us enjoyed it!  The picture below should give an idea about who maybe didn’t enjoy it as much…

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This ride drives through a track making while you look for dinosaurs.  Around the point of the photo above, I’m pretty sure there was a big dinosaur.  It was pretty noisy too, so Anthony kept his ears plugged most of the time through this one.  He clearly was not a fan of this ride either.  We struck out twice in one morning.  All within about an hour.

We decided it was time for a quick snack on our walk to see Finding Nemo.  This was a longer show than we had watched the day before, but it was cute!  The actors all had stuffed animal characters that they carried and they sang throughout most of the show.  I like musicals, and the movie Finding Nemo, so I thought this was cute.  I would go see it again.  If you have kids that like bubbles, sit up front.

After the show we decided to start walking towards Africa to try and use our expired FASTPASSes for the Kilimanjaro Safari.  We were also hungry (eating breakfast so early = eating an early lunch), so when a bench was open in the sun (did I mention it was cold on Tuesday too?) we snatched it up and sat down to eat our lunch.  We packed our lunch and snacks again (we did this every day of our trip ) – SO easy and cheap to have food ready when we want it.  No lines.  No major expense.  It was perfect!

On our walk to the safari we took a detour and did the walking tour in Asia.  This was an area that you could control your speed and walk through at your leisure.  We thought this was a good idea – no rush, just casual, and we hoped to enjoy it.

Unfortunately, our traveling and long hours at the Magic Kingdom had Anthony pretty tired out.  He started to get pretty grouchy and we made the decision that it was time to leave the park.

I have to admit, I was bummed.  There were so many unfinished things on my to-do list!  Here are some of the things I was really hoping to do/see:

     Tree of Life (we barely saw it from a distance)
     It’s Tough to be a Bug
     Lion King Show
     Camp Minnie Mickey (for character signatures)
     Another Safari ride
     Take pictures – I didn’t take nearly the amount of photos that I would have liked.  Had I known we would be leaving at 12:30, I would have taken TONS more throughout the morning.

Once we were on the Disney bus on the way back to the resort, Anthony’s eyes instantly started closing – he was TIRED!  He eventually curled up in my lap and just crashed. 

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When we got back to the resort, hubby carried him through the resort to our room (of course it was the farthest building in the back) and we were able to lay him down without waking him up.  He slept about 3 hours!!  He definitely was tired, and the crazy schedule we were keeping wasn’t helping any.

After a long nap and a walk around the resort, Anthony enjoyed going for a quick swim.  I chose to stay bundled up in my jeans and long sleeves and relaxed in the sunshine.  It may have been chilly, but at least the sun was shining!

More posts about Disney World
     Countdown to Disney
     Downtown Disney
     Magic Kingdom

More posts yet to come:
     Hollywood Studios
     Universal Studios
     Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Magic Kingdom {Disney World}

On our first full day in Florida we decided to start with the most classic of all the parks – the Magic Kingdom!  We had so much fun at the Magic Kingdom that day that we decided to spend our last day in Florida there too, so the photos in this post are a blend from Monday and Saturday. 

Magic Kingdom by MomsGonnaSnap
We got up at 5am so that we would be ready to walk down to catch the bus just before 6am so that we would be at the park to get our tickets and be at the opening show at 6:50am.  Yes, we are those crazy people that got up super early while on vacation.  Trust me, it was worth it!!  As you can see, it was still dark as we walked by the castle (it was only 7am!) but that didn’t stop us! 

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The opening show is cute – Mickey and friends ride in on the train and welcome everyone to the park. It’s the perfect way to get all the little ones excited about spending a day in the magical world of the Magic Kingdom.

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Disney World offers Magic Hours for each of the parks on different days.  Because we were there during spring break, an extremely busy time, the Magic Kingdom had Magic hours every morning from 7-8am.  They had evening Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom too, but they were super late (something like 12-3am!) so we didn’t take advantage of those hours. The parks are only open to Disney resort guests during Magic Hours and for as busy as it was later in the day, we found it was totally worth it to have a “quiet” first hour at the park. 

As we entered the park we were really not sure what rides Anthony would be comfortable with.  He’s right at the age where many kids transition from the “little kid" rides to the “bigger kid” rides and he seems to like to dabble a bit in both, which makes it a bit challenging to know what to try.

Space Mountain is one of the most popular rides at the Magic Kingdom, but we weren’t sure he was ready for it, so to start our day, we headed to Fantasyland and rode Peter Pan’s Flight on standby with no wait (later in the day there was an 80+ minute wait for this ride!).  This was the perfect warm-up ride – not scary at all and it helped to build up even more excitement (if that’s even possible!).  Since we were right there, we also went on It’s a Small World, which both of the boys really disliked.  Anthony quickly declared it was a “girls ride” and wanted to know when it was going to end.  I think it’s neat to hear the song in so many languages and the décor is cute, but it was not a favorite ride for any of us.  We rode the Mad Hatter Tea Cups on the way to Tomorrow Land, and if you know me, you know that I was not a fan of the spinning.  In fact, I may have been holding my legs tightly up under the “spinner” to keep us from spinning as fast as the boys were trying to make us go…  Ha!  In Tomorrowland we rode Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin on stand-by and thought about riding Space Mountain.  Anthony wasn’t quite sure about that so we rode a couple more rides in Tomorrowland before heading over to Frontierland. 

During the Magic Hours they opened Fantasyland and Tomorrowland from 7-8am, but Frontierland and Adventureland did not open until 8.  We timed our last ride perfectly so that we were waiting on the bridge when they opened the rope to let us head through Liberty Square to Frontierland.  Unfortunately for Anthony, Splash Mountain was closed and they were not giving out FASTPASSes because they were not sure when it would be open.  Luckily for hubby and I, we headed straight to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and rode it twice on stand-by with no wait (we love roller coasters)!  The best part, Anthony LOVED it!  We rode it approx 4 times that day!  They also opened Splash Mountain during this time, so we picked up a FASTPASS for later – it was too cold for a water ride that first morning!

We were confused at first, but became very quick fans of the FASTPASS.  What a great idea!  Most of the rides (at least the popular ones) have the option to insert your ticket for a FASTPASS – a ticket that gives you a specific time to come back later and use the fast line to ride the ride.  We had heard that Disney only enforces the start times of the FASTPASS and not the end time, but that was not our experience – it worked the first time, but that was it.  When we used a FASTPASS, I don’t think we ever waited more than 5 minutes in line for a ride.  You can get a new FASTPASS every hour.

Somewhere around this point I lost track of the order we did things, because we had already done 75% of the “Must Do’s” on my list and it was not evening 9:00 yet! We walked around and rode lots of other rides – the Haunted Mansion, Astro Orbiter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Tomorrowland Speedway and then rode many of these again.  We also went to see Mickey’s Philharmagic show, walked through the Swiss Family Treehouse, went to the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (fun!), and the Carousel of Progress (we did not enjoy this one at all).

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When we made the decision to go to Disney World, we knew the trip was going to cost a lot more than we had initially planned on spending on a vacation.  In an effort to save some money, we not only drove to Florida, but we also packed a cooler and brought food for breakfasts, lunches and snacks.  This meant that we only had to purchase 1 meal per day – major savings at any theme park!  Our best guess is that this saved us around $300 for the week, as well as a ton of time not wasted waiting in lines for food and tables.  This did mean that we had a backpack with us everyday, but we decided that it was worth it!  We had meat and cheese sandwiches or PB&J every day. Yes, every day.  It was fine though!  We had apples, bananas, grapes, carrots, chips, etc. to go with our lunches, and I had purchased a Thirty-one thermal lunch tote, which worked perfectly to keep our lunch cool with a small bag of ice from the hotel.  It was especially great that my hubby made our lunches every day!  We also had water bottles with filters – the water from the fountains is awful and we all drink lots of water regularly, so these worked great!

For dinner we decided it would be best if we tried to eat a little early to beat the lines.  Around 4:30 we were close to the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café and just walked in.  While we may have been beating the big rush, we still ended up waiting at least 20 minutes to get through the line and get our food.  I ordered a grilled chicken wrap, hubby ordered a taco salad, and Anthony ordered a cheeseburger with fries.  When our food came up, there was no cheeseburger and 2 taco salads.  They quickly fixed this by adding the cheeseburger and leaving us with all of the rest of the food.  Extra free food is always a good thing when you are hungry and cheap at a theme park!

We attempted to go on the Jungle Cruise before the evening festivities but after waiting in line for about 40 minutes and hearing that there were people in line who had waited over 2 hours, we climbed back out through the line.  Yes, we were those people, and I’m glad we did it.  On Saturday morning we did ride the Jungle Cruise and it was terrible.  Definitely wish that we hadn’t waited in line for it early in the week, and thankful that we didn’t spend our entire evening waiting in that line.

After leaving the Jungle Cruise line, we stopped in Adventureland for a Dole Whip (YUMMY!) and then headed out by the castle to find some seats.  Once we found a good spot, I went in search of snacks.  Anthony really wanted cotton candy, but I couldn’t find it – they were sold out!  I found a super lollipop instead and it kept him busy for hours!

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Once the sun went down, it was COLD!  Luckily we at least had light-weight coats with us (that backpack paid off again).  We enjoyed the Main Street Electrical Parade, even though we were all pretty cold by that time.  As soon as the parade was done, Anthony declared that he needed to use the bathroom.  There were so many people there that we didn’t dare separate or we would never have found each other.  We watched part of Celebrate the Magic on the walk to the bathroom and then just stood and watched from farther away.  The images they project onto the castle are pretty incredible.  We stayed for most of the Wishes nighttime spectacular (fireworks), but ended up leaving just before the end.  More about all 3 of these below.

When we went back to the park the second time (Saturday) we were only there from 7:00-11:00 and we still had time for Peter Pan’s Flight, Prince Charming Regal Carousel, Tomorrowland Speedway, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin (twice!), Splash Mountain (three times!), Pirates of the Caribbean, Jungle Cruise (do NOT waste your time on this ride! Disney can, and should, do better than this!!!) and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  We thought this was pretty good considering these rides are spread throughout the park and we were walking around with a 6-year-old!

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We tried to come up with our family’s top 5 favorites at the Magic Kingdom but we couldn’t stick with just 5, so here’s our list of the Top Ten Things to do/see at the Magic Kingdom:

1. Splash Mountain – This is an extremely popular ride, so having a FASTPASS is a must!  This ride is also super long – somewhere around 15 minutes!  It’s a typical log flume ride that blends a log flume with a ride like It’s a Small World.  There are moments of rush and moments of peace.  It’s fun, but be prepared, you will get wet!

2013-03-30 (145)e                            The boys gave Splash Mountain a thumbs up – over, and over and over!

2. Peter Pan’s Flight – What a sweet, calm, and cute ride!  Peter Pan is a very smooth and slow ride, perfect for little kids.  You fly along in a magical ship and see the world of Peter Pan.  The details are spectacular!  My favorite was the little cars you could see driving along the roads.

3. Meeting Mickey Mouse  - What a fun moment!  Throughout the week Anthony was not very interested in meeting the characters.  He would see them, smile, look at the long line, and go “eh” and continue on.  On our last day we each picked the one thing we really wanted to do, and meeting Mickey Mouse was mine.  We timed it perfectly, and only had to wait about 5 minutes to meet Mickey at the Town Square Theater.  Anthony was pulled right into the magic when it was his turn to meet Mickey – it was awesome!  He was able to get Mickey’s autograph and have pictures taken with Mickey.  We joined in on the fun too!

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4. Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin – This was fun!  The perfect little boy (and girl!) ride – you get to shoot lasers at Zurg (and various targets throughout the ride) to earn points and compete with whoever is riding with you.  Three can ride together on this, which we did multiple times.  On the last day we decided to ride separately so we could all have a laser gun – Anthony loved riding alone in a car so he could control both laser guns and the spinner!

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Heading into Tomorrowland to ride Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin

5. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad – The idea of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is that you are on a runaway train.  It’s the perfect roller coaster for kids that are ready for some excitement – you only have to be 40” tall to ride!  It does go quick though, so I’m sure there are many children who are tall enough, but just not quite ready for a ride like this.  We loved it!

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6. Meeting Woody and Jessie – When we came off of Splash Mountain on Monday we walked right by the area where Woody and Jessie were signing autographs.  The line was not ridiculously long (maybe 20 minutes?) so we decided meeting Woody and Jessie would be fun for our first character meeting.  It was so fun!  Anthony gave them both super big hugs and got autographs from both of them.  Woody played some tricks on Anthony too – he held the autograph card just up out of reach so that Anthony had to jump around to try and get it.  There were LOTS of giggles!  Later in the week we heard that if you yell “Andy’s Coming!” the characters will fall to the ground for a photo with you.  We went back to try this, but decided it wasn’t worth waiting in line for it.  We did see a picture of it though – funny stuff!

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7. Mickey’s Philharmagic – While I love a good show, I also LOVE theme park rides, so taking time out to watch a show was not something I would have initially suggested.  I had heard great things about this show though, and knew that it was short, so we gave it a try.  It’s a 3D movie and super cute!  I would definitely go see it again!

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8. Haunted Mansion – Anthony was super excited when we started heading to the Haunted Mansion, but as we got closer, he started getting pretty nervous.  When we walked into the haunted mansion and the doors closed, he was instantly scared.  I’m pretty sure hubby and I were both having flashbacks from our trip to Wisconsin Dells last summer, when Anthony cried and whimpered throughout a haunted house, and it wasn’t even the super scary one that he had wanted to go to!  Once the actual Haunted House ride started, it was much better.  Disney did a great job with the simulations on this ride!  Very cool!

9. Main Street Electrical Parade/Celebrate the Magic/ Wishes nighttime spectacular – Since you will spend your evening in front of the castle for these, and we had so many other favorites, these all count together as one.  All I can say is, WOW!  It’s a super LONG day, but definitely worth staying for all of the evening festivities.  I had heard to go find a seat (on the curb near around the castle) around 8:00 to get ready for the Main Street Electrical Parade that starts at 9:00.  Because it was so busy, we headed over around 7:30ish with plans to relax and have some treats.  We were not the only ones with this idea – the sidewalks were already filling up with people getting ready for the parade.  The parade was exactly what it sounds like – an electrical parade!  The floats were all FULL of lights, as were many of the costumes.  There was a little girl next to us that screamed out the name of every princess that came through – she was so excited and her excitement was contagious!  Even hubby appreciated her squeals of delight!  We missed part of Celebrate the Magic because Anthony needed to go to the bathroom (poor planning on our part for not enforcing a trip at 8:30 right before the parade started) and ended up watching most of Celebrate the Magic from a distance, closer to the bathrooms.  We stayed for most of the fireworks, but ended up leaving before the grand finale.  Insert my disappointment here. I LOVE fireworks, especially grand finales, and seeing the fireworks behind the castle was amazing.  The evening was super cold – yes, it’s Florida, but the weather was not great when we were there.  The boys both wore shorts, which were perfect during the day, but by the evening it was around 50 degrees – cold for sitting/standing around in the dark waiting for a parade, light show and fireworks.  We had also been at the park for over 15 hours, so it really was time to go, even if the fireworks show was not over yet.  Maybe this should be my excuse to go back sooner than later?!?

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10. Pin Trading – This was a new one for me, but lots of fun!  Some friends of ours had told us about it, so we gave it a try.  The kids (and some adults too!) wear lanyards with Disney pins on them and whenever they see a Disney employee wearing a lanyard with pins, they can ask to trade a pin.  Buying pins at the park gets expensive quick – they are around $8+ per pin, unless you buy the starter pack.  You know that we were trying to make this a cheap vacation, so we watched eBay and purchased some Disney pins that way.  I’m sure we overpaid due to our timing (spring break), but we bought 25 pins for about $20 – less than $1 per pin!  Some of them were ugly, which was just fine because they were for Anthony to trade for pins he liked better at any of the parks.  It was fun!  I was cheap on the lanyard too – $3 for a small spool of ribbon at JoAnn Fabrics and I had a homemade lanyard (in blue ribbon) with lots of ribbon leftover.  Plus, when I made the lanyard, we weren’t sure if he would even be excited about trading pins.  He traded all of the ones he wanted and then put them away by the end of the week.  Also, something to note – the pin backs do fall off.  He did lose a few pins in the park, but luckily it wasn’t too big of a deal.

Other things to try at the Magic Kingdom?

Characters! Anthony was not overly interested in waiting in the long lines to meet the characters, which was fine, but when he did meet characters, he LOVED it and it quickly became one of his favorite parts of the day!

Pirates of the Caribbean – Obviously a pirate themed ride, but super calm and perfect for little ones.  Anthony really liked this one too!  He even bought a couple swords from the shop to bring home too – thanks to all the souvenir money he had from family and friends.

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Space Mountain!  I rode this when I was in high school and thought it was pretty fun.  We almost rode it on the first day, but our FASTPASSes had expired and they wouldn’t let us through.  We tried.  Twice.  I tried to encourage hubby to grab a FASTPASS and ride without us, but he wouldn’t have it.  This was a FAMILY vacation and he didn’t want to go off and do things on his own.

Tom Sawyer Island – I was curious about this and heard it was neat, but we just didn’t get to it. On Monday the lines were extremely long and on Saturday we had a list of favorites to re-visit again and again.  Maybe next time?

The Magic Kingdom really is pretty impressive.  I think hubby said that about 5 times during our trip – love it!  As a 17-year-old, I didn’t find the Magic Kingdom very exciting, but as a mom, with my 6-year-old, the magic was definitely there, and it was amazing!

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More posts about Disney World:
     Downtown Disney
     Countdown to Disney
     Animal Kingdom

More posts yet to come:
     Hollywood Studios
     Universal Studios
     Universal’s Islands of Adventure

Click HERE to see my first ever digital scrapbooking page - all about Disney's Magic Kingdom!

Friday, April 5, 2013

A Month in Photos {March}

March 2013 v2
March came in quietly and went out with big bang – a family vacation!!
We FINALLY made it out of the cold and all the way to Florida!!  We did other fun
things in March too, this month’s collage just focuses on our trip to Florida.

Road trip to Florida
Friends and family visiting for the weekend
Trips to Cherry Berry
Cub Scouts Blue and Gold Banquet
Celebrating Gotcha Day
St. Louis
A week in Florida
Installing fireplace stone
Disney World
Universal Studios

**Want to see more photos? I’m @MomsGonnaSnap on Instagram

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Fireplace is Finished! {Basement Progress}

I have been sorting through pictures from our vacation every night this week (and I'm loving every minute of it!). While sorting through pictures, I realized that I haven't posted an updated photo of the fireplace stone now that it's finished. The last update on the progress in the basement was also related to the fireplace.

There are many skills that we have learned while working on the basement, and learning how to install fireplace stone has definitely been one of the trickiest.  It took some trial and error, and a few stones falling off (yes, falling off...) for us to figure out how to move forward with the stone.  A couple of tricks that we learned were to use more water in the mortar, spray the back of the stone, and spray the wall. 

Here is hubby putting on the scratch coat.  At this point I was pretty convinced that this was not a project we should be attempting to tackle.

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He did the scratch coat on a Saturday morning, we started with the stone late afternoon on Sunday and finished the stone approx Thursday night that week.  We still had to grout, but we were pleased to have the stone up in less than a week. The photo below is after 2-3 different evenings of installing stone.  I joked that I was moon-lighting as a stone mason that week...  In a couple of these photos you can see the stone on the floor in the bottom of the picture.  I spent some quality time laying out the stone for the entire fireplace wall on the floor so it could be quickly and easily transferred to the wall. Since we mixed two different colors of stone, this was definitely necessary to make sure the color was balanced.  It also helped to make sure the joints of the stones did not line up (we wanted a staggered look).

Fireplace Stone - MomsGonnaSnap
Right before leaving on our trip for Disney we finished the fireplace by grouting. We didn't grout between every stone, just filled in the gaps using a grout bag.  Two days before leaving for Florida we had the fireplace company return to complete the set-up of the fireplace – it works!

Fireplace By MomsGonnaSnap
You can read more about the fireplace install here.

The best thing about this fireplace? It kicks off some serious heat, which is important in Minnesota!  In the end, we are pretty proud of our work!

Linking to: Thrifty Decor Chick, house by hoff, Remodelaholic

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Downtown Disney {Disney World}

After driving all day Saturday (with the exception of our stop in St. Louis), we made it to Atlanta before stopping for the night. When I started calling for a hotel from the road, I found the hotels were all booked. In the end I called Hilton and let them find me a room. The good news is that they found us a room, the bad news is that it was downtown in Atlanta. Getting to the hotel, checking in, unloading the car, getting into the parking garage and getting an overtired 6-year-old to bed at 11pm eastern time was tricky, but we did it.

Yes, it was raining as we arrived, but the rain was done when we
unloaded the car and that was the only rain all week!

We decided to sleep in a little the next morning and hit the road about 9:30am for the approximately 7 hour drive to Orlando.  We checked into our resort (Disney’s All Star Music Resort) and made it to our room at about 4:30pm. Not bad!  Once again it was a little frustrating getting our things to our room – no luggage carts!  We definitely could have packed lighter, but since we drove and had entertainment for the road, clothes for bizarre weather (which was good – there were a few record low temp days in Florida), and food (breakfast and lunch for the entire week), we had a lot of things to carry in.  Total pain, but having all that stuff with us was worth it.

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Once we knew we would be at Disney sometime Sunday afternoon we decided to make reservations at a restaurant in Downtown Disney. This was easier said than done! Having never been there before, we didn’t know what restaurants to try, but after some quick online searching, I attempted to make some reservations at a handful of different restaurants without success. Everything was busy!  In the end we made a reservation at Bongos Cuban Café.

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 No trip to Bongo’s would be complete without playing the bongos!

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The funniest thing happened when we arrived at Bongo’s… Hubby started laughing, leaned over and said, “I’ve been here before!”.  He was at Disney World for a work conference a few years ago and didn’t even remember going to Downtown Disney!  Once he walked into the restaurant, he recognized it though!  Funny stuff!

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Dinner was…okay.  Would I go back? Honestly? I would try somewhere else.  It was not the best meal I had during the week.

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After dinner we walked around and checked things out.

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A man working at one of the kiosk’s thought Anthony needed a Mickey Mouse sticker. Somehow that turned into 6.5 stickers, because Anthony is 6.5 years old!

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Anthony needed to run around a bit, so he raced up and down the sidewalks along the lake with hubby.  We checked out a few stores and we also ventured over to Lego Land for a little fun before heading back to the hotel. 

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 I think it’s a requirement to build a few guys every time you go to Lego Land!

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The Incredible Hulk was awesome! There was a line for pictures with him, and Anthony didn’t want to wait, so I just snapped a pic quick. As you can see, the little boy below thought Hulk was awesome too!

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We were off to the Magic Kingdom the next day so we decided to head back to the hotel early to attempt to get some sleep.  Magic Hours at the Magic Kingdom were starting at 7am!!