Friday, January 31, 2014

Animal Kingdom in 30 Photos

Hello again, I know, I've been away for awhile. Work has been insanely busy. Too busy to relax and blog. My poor students have been neglected for some critical I.T. projects this week. And I've neglected more than my classes... my sanity perhaps. And tomorrow's February. Well then! Time to play catch up. We only went to the Disney parks 5 days and I can't seem to get it together to write about those 5 glorious days. And here is when I try and redeem myself for lost time.

Saturday, January 4th, the polar vortex I was descended on Maryland while it stayed a beautiful 60 degrees in Florida. But Animal Kingdom felt more like Africa or Asia (the two countries the themes are based on and for the record there is also dinosaur land, but we blew past that part of the park). Animal Kingdom was less crowded then the other parks and a favorite. The Tree of Life which is a work of art in itself is at the center of the park and breathtaking. The scenery / vibe of the park is surprisingly authentic. I've never been to Asia or Africa but the park definitely didn't feel like we were in Florida. See pictures below for a better visual than I could ever describe. 

We had an excellent morning in Africa where we went on the not to be missed African Safari ride which is pretty incredible. Bumpy but fun. All our pictures are of the animals and it looks any well kept zoo with appropriate habitats. I think the 20 crocodiles or giant hippo was my favorite. The savanna was incredible and the trees / plants were just as beautiful. The Asian tiger trek was pretty cool too. We got to see a pair of female tigers up close and enjoyed walking through the jungle. 

We had a character lunch at Tusker House and the food was delicious! We met Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Safari Mickey! Besides the characters at Tusker House, in Animal Kingdom we met: Pocahontas (only park you can meet her in), Baloo and King Louie (Jungle Book), Rafiki, Tigger and Pooh, Mickey and Minnie and Chip and Dale, whew), But I think the best part of Animal Kingdom were the shows! We went to Finding Nemo the Musical and had "bubble zone" seating. It was a great show! And then we ended our day (3:30pm show) with the Festival of the Lion King. We had "priority seating" with our FastPass (it is in a round theater with four sections around for seating). We sat down but a family with a dad in a wheelcahir sat in the handicap seating right in front of us. The family made such a big deal out of it (they didn't want to block the views of you two) that a cast member moved us up to a special "reversed" seating bench in the front of our section. We sat basically on the stage. We easily could have tripped or touched any of the performers. It was simply... magical! Daddy was chosen as our section elephant representative and was part of the show and then at the end Lucy was chosen to dance and play an instrument and she paraded around the whole theater with one of the performers. I have a video because it was simply precious! The memories will last a lifetime. We laughed and sang and enjoyed the 30 minute show; a perfect way to end our day at Animal Kingdom. 

There are 30 photos of this day for your enjoyment. I have 100 more to choose from but I did my best to capture our memories from this day. 

Tree of Life rest stop.
Pooh in his Christmas attire.
The wonderful thing about Tiggers...
Lucy loved reading the map. Waiting for Nemo to start.
The costumes were incredible! We were so close!

Tiger! Sister in the background. 
See what I mean about the scenery? Asia, I think! 
This was the water fountain at the end of the jungle trek. 
Safari Mickey!
Matching elephants!
Rafiki from Lion King!
Pocahontas spent time talking to you two.
Daddy trying to high five King Louie! Look at those long arms!
This is the reserved bench we were moved to for the Lion King show. We sat in front of the audience on the floor.
So cool!
This was taken from our seat, you can see we are in front of everyone!
The show happened all around us!

Lucy, you loved it! That's Simba in the background!
Mickey and Minnie together! Lucy- you hugged Mickey for a long time!
Lunch with Donald!
Nora cradled baby Simba!
Lucy- you held Tinker Bell!

Chip and Dale. Somehow you both went to the 'appropriate' one. 
Another good day together at Disney! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Polar Vortex II

We were lucky to miss the first polar vortex when we were in Disney. Unfortunately, there was no escaping this one. We are on day 5 of being home-bound... school has been off first for a three day weekend and then for 2 snow days. I am ready to return to our normal schedule. Why haven't I blogged more? Well there are these two people who live with me that are quite demanding for attention and need to be fed periodically. But that's all the time!
Your father turned 40! Happy Birthday Nels! We love you!!! We also tried skiing for the first time this season and we were moderately successful. Nora, you would only go on the magic carpet (no lift) but that was 100% better than Lucy who didn't even put the skis on! She played in the snow for an hour but refused to wear the skis. It was freezing too! But not compared to the temperatures today. And your father decided to finally (after 4 years of promising me) install a new kitchen floor this past weekend. EXCEPT! When we went to demolish the current floor to lay the new floor, we found beautiful original 100+ year old hardwood. I think restoring an old floor is harder than laying a new one. Which deserves a post of it's own... I know I need to pick up with Disney Day 3 first. But for right now, I shall tide you over with pictures of the Polar Vortex II... which needs to end as I found a bag of unused candy cane Hershey kisses left over from the holidays in the art bin and haven't stopped eating them... get me out of here!!!!

It started on Saturday with a dusting...
Pjs at our neighborhood cafe.
Nora- this is what you wore to breakfast on Saturday. Elsa dress, winter shawl, "parasol" aka Doc McStuffins umbrella and please don't forget the muff. The rest of us were dressed in full out winter gear. Did I mention we walk down main street to get breakfast?
Monday was warm at 40 degrees enough for a impromptu picnic snack. 
After a brutal snow storm that lasted all day yesterday, today teases us with warm sunshine and bright blue skies. Except it is -12 with the wind chill. 0 without. 
I couldn't take it anymore. We walked to the cafe 5 blocks away just to escape the house. 
Nora- you had hot chocolate with whipped cream. 
Lucy- you had warm chocolate with whipped cream.
Then the antics began. 
Reading the latest Better Homes. Not disturbing the hipsters working around us... yeah right.
Crisp and clear, look at that sky! 

Who cares about the warnings of being outside for more than 10 minutes at a time?!?! Let's PLAY! 
That wood stove is working over time this week! 
The polar vortex is not suppose to lift for a week. Cold cold temperatures... in the single digits and negatives some nights. God help me. Maybe I will find a bag of reese's peanut butter cups to get me through the next few days... the kisses are almost gone.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Princess Explosion

Many people have asked me "Was it worth it to go to Disney?" Disney is expensive and enormous and overwhelming. As some have pointed out to me, it is highly likely that you two will not remember this trip. You're just too young. When thinking about whether to go or take on this type of vacation, I made some resolutions that I will cover over the next few posts about why we decided to venture to Disney World.
For today my first thought that made our decision to "do Disney" was that you both love characters, Disney princesses and cartoon characters. You love hugging and kissing and talking to them. The only place you can do this is in Disney World. I can take the two of you to any local amusement park to go on rides. The rides at Disney can (for the most part) be found at the "run of the mill" amusement park: roller coasters, spinning rides, trains, cars, carousels. There are of course "themed" rides from the Disney movies at Disney World like Ariel's Under Sea Adventure and Peter Pan Flying Ship or Winnie the Pooh ride. But going into this trip, I knew we would not spend alot of time on rides. We were mainly going for "character experiences" and to give you two face time with your favorite princesses and characters. Disney makes these experiences absolutely incredible. We did go on the Dumbo and Small World rides and a few other rides but for the most part, we sought out the princesses and characters. We had a princess lunch at Norway's Epcot after the eternal Frozen line and then the next day at the Magic Kingdom we spent the time looking for character interactions. I think we were quite successful! 

Cinderella hug!
Sleeping Beauty
Snow White
Merida, who spent a long time with you two.
Mulan hugs.
Mary Poppins was as sweet as a spoonful of sugar.
Eating in Belle's ballroom.
The Beast's Castle.
Belle hugs.
Ok, we could not, not ride Cinderella's carousel!
Front row seats for the Celebrate Today parade! 
Best seats right in front of the castle.
Almost all of the characters came up to us! Like Pluto patting Nora on the head.
Mickey and Minnie!
The only characters that you two would not interact with were the villains! Here is Jafar from Aladdin! Scary!
Cinderella and Prince Charming and Fairy Godmother, who we met personally later on!
After an afternoon rest on Friday, we came back for evening shows!
Same awesome spot right in front of the castle. 

Blurry, but I love your face, Nor. So excited. We loved the parades so much!
Projection on the castle with songs before the fireworks. Here the castle was changed into a gingerbread house!
So cool!

Magical time was had!
This isn't even all the princesses we met! More to come from Magic Kingdom when we went back for breakfast with Cinderella at her castle. Even Daddy said eating inside her castle was pretty special! But next up, was Saturday at Animal Kingdom. It was a wild time. Stay Tuned!