Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Who has time to blog?

Not me, apparently!
The holidays hit as well as a birthday and I never got around to posting Disney pix, let alone anything else!

Since there's NO WAY these photos will see a physical scrapbook this side of the boys' teenage years, I'll post them here for them...and for the grands and great grands enjoyment! (*disclaimer: this trip left no time for setting up a shot. it was all about keeping up with 3 boys. i should have brought leashes. bear with me on the poor photography!)

We arrived in Orlando and headed to Downtown Disney for dinner. My friend Summer had told me that T-Rex was a must for us. I knew it would be packed and we'd not been able to get reservations. However, when we arrived the wait was only 20 minutes, so we were able to get in! A fun surprise and blessing to kick off our trip. I highly recommend it. Each dining area has a different theme (Ice Age, Coral Reef) and is larger than life. Every few minutes the lights would dim in our dining area and a meteor shower would commence on the ceiling (as well as the dinos coming to life and roaring). The boys loved it!

Our first full day was spent on the Future World side of Epcot. It was great to see the "big golfball" for the first time! The boys' favorite ride (and mine) was Soarin'. The ride simulates flying over California and you even smell oranges as you fly over the groves....very well done. For lunch, we headed over to Cantina San Angel on the other side in the World Showcase. We ate outside by the lovely Lagoon and then headed back to our resort for a rest. Future World was fun, but we liked the World Showcase side better overall.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Happiest Place on Earth!

That's what they call the place and I believe it!

We just took the boys on their first trip to Walt Disney World and kept all the planning a SURPRISE!
Jamie and I were so giddy about surprising them. When we woke up the morning of the trip we felt like a couple of kids on Christmas morning!

I am so thankful for all the help I received planning this trip. I couldn't have done it without the help of friends who had recently been and planning forums. So, I thought I'd post my experience in case anyone is looking for resources themselves (and so I remember myself!)

We had thought about taking them in Feb, but found a house sooner than we expected and were busy w/ the initial renovations for months. We then looked at the Fall for a trip, so I didn't really get down to the serious planning until 2 or 3 months ago. There is a science to it, let me tell ya! We also used to plan the itineraries. It was an invaluable resource! It is a hard site to navigate (they need to hire my husband!) but so worth it. Mike was a VIP tour guide so he knows the ins and outs backward and forward. For a small fee to join, he discloses sample tours w/ the best times to ride attractions, predicted crowd levels so you know what day to hit what park (so important!), where to get the best spots for parade and firework viewing, etc. etc. We will use TGM for all our trips. He was spot on! is also a great resource, especially for first timers, as it has photos of the resorts, attractions, lodging, menus, etc.

The trip was truly magical for all of us. Such a blessing to enjoy with our family. Rounding the corner on Main St. USA and seeing the castle for the first time was breathtaking! I literally felt like a little girl again! We loved being there in November because we were able to see some of the Christmas decor and the weather was perfect! It wasn't too cold to enjoy the pools and it wasn't too hot in the parks.

Character spotting was a really fun part of the trip and made it even more special because you never knew who you were going to see when. We got lots of autographs! Nana made adorable autographs books for the boys to open on the trip. She did a great job designing them!

Most people asked if we were taking Meade with us--and we did! We are so glad we did! There were a few times when it was difficult with an almost 2 year old, but honestly, overall, it was such fun for him and US to have him there! The joy and excitement on his face was something Jamie and I will never forget. I loved having him there at an age when he was so into the characters! Everywhere we went, whether it was to a cast member or character, he would raise his hand and say, "Kigh!" which translated is "High Five!" He gave the characters Eskimo kisses and hugs. It was precious. Sumner is a little past the characters so he was more interested in the thrilling rides and the educational attractions. Grayson was very much into the magic of it all and was really cute about it. Jamie and I really enjoyed watching each boy experience the whole thing from different perspectives.

We traded off on the rides Meade wasn't ready for and when we couldn't, one of us would just walk around w/ him and enjoy the surroundings. It can be easy to get caught up in the go, go, go and not just stop and experience where you are! Of course, everyone is different, but that is what worked for us.

I'll post pictures for the family members later :) but for now here is a list of our faves:

Spectromagic Light Parade (runs a few times each week, not every night) was our fave night event! Jamie and I literally both teared up during this one between all the beautiful lights, music and characters old and new. Not to be missed! We loved it so much we saw it twice and rearranged one of our dining reservations in the Magic Kingdom to position ourselves to finish eating as the parade was beginning...and for a top viewing location!

Wishes! a beautiful fireworks show over the castle. You HAVE to see Tinkerbell fly from the top of the castle. One of my top 3 magical moments of the whole trip! TGM told us just where to be to view it best!

Each park has it's own parades either during the day and/or at night. The best daytime parade was Animal Kingdom's. Very unique characters and floats here.

Our favorite dining of the trip: Chef Mickey's character b'fast (brunch)-there are lots of character dining options and we loved this one the best. The food was great and you get lots of time w/ the 5 main Disney characters-Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto!
Whispering Canyon was great fun for the boys, Flaming Tree BBQ-beautiful scenery/views, Liberty Tree Tavern feels just like eating Thanksgiving dinner in a large colonial home-loved it!, Crystal Palace for Pooh Characters and right across from the castle. I recommend getting the Dining Plan, too!

Rides/Attractions the boys loved the most in the 4 parks and (rode most multiple times): Kali River Rapids (AK), Splash Mountain (MK), Primeval Twirl (AK), Toy Story Mania (H'wood Studios), Star Tours (HS), Mickey's Philharmagic 3D,
Playhouse Disney Live! (HS), Turtle Talk With Crush (Epcot), Soarin' (Epcot)

A few classics to do simply because they are classic Disney: Dumbo, Peter Pan, It's a Small World, the Hall of Presidents -my history buffs liked that one...(and it's been updated to include Pres. Obama)

Rides we could have skipped that are only so-so: Imagination/Figment (even though it's been re-vamped), Buzz Lightyear

Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom were by far our favorite parks. We liked the World Showcase portion of Epcot best of the 2 sections. Hollywood Studios was only ok, but we knew that going in, just wanted to experience a couple things there. Definitely a half day park-relax by the pool for the rest of the day!

Shows/Attractions my boys liked even though they had a "girly" factor: Voyage of the Little Mermaid and Minnie's Country House (her kitchen was cool!)

Disney is a very hard place to leave. I'm already going through withdrawals and I'm writing this en route to home! Everyone greets you with "Have a Magical Day" (not to mention everyone seems truly thrilled to be there!), parades pop up in the middle of the street and the characters you've loved since childhood greet you around the corner with a hug. Aaaaaah. We are already planning our return!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

twenty two months

M turned 22 months on the 20th. When I look back at baby pictures of the big boys and then at his I see such resemblance...
but yet, he is different in many ways than his brothers.
One being that he took the paci for maybe 6 months. Those who know my boys know they love their pacis and rarely want to part with them even at age 2.
The big boys never had lovies or stuffed toys they were overly attached to, but M walks around constantly with an animal or his "Nigh Nigh" blanket. He isn't really particular about which one it is (which I know makes things MUCH easier!) He is so sweet and affectionate and he's just so cute when he gives his animals "Five" or points out their eyes, ears, etc. and gives them kisses.

Most of our conversations start with "Maah Mee?!?!"
To which I answer, "Yes"
And he replies, "Ummmm...."
(hilarious how he already picks up on the flow of conversation)
Then he'll start all over or tell me that he wants to "Wok" (walk)
or he wants something to eat "Chee!" (cheese)
or he points out all the ball shapes he sees everywhere...."Bah! Bah!"

He is so very fun.

Monday, September 07, 2009

the school year begins

Summer passed quickly and the school year has begun. We did have some last minute, and I mean last minute, changes to the school and MDO that Grayson and Meade attend and it was really neat the way it all worked out.

They were both signed up to attend the school Grayson attended last year. We knew it would be a half day program for G which we felt would ease him in to full days next year. As the date approached we were just uneasy about having the boys in two schools in two different towns with completely different schedules, not to mention all the gas we'd be burning up! We really wanted G to be in a school that fed the school he'll attend next year. He had a precious class at the school he attended for K4, but I really felt that another year with them might make it sadder for him to leave in the long run. He is still at a flexible age and was content to attend school wherever.

This was literally a week and a half before the school we were registered with was to begin.
That Saturday I was out with a couple of friends antique-ing. One of them had previously taught at one of the more sought after preschools in our town. I asked them if I was crazy to try to get Grayson, much less Meade, a spot at one of these schools at such a late date. They encouraged me to try as most private K5 classes in Homewood are small due to the fact that the public school is great and most parents end up sending their kids there.
We prayed about it over the weekend and as the doors of the one within walking distance of our house opened on Monday, I was there!
Upon asking about the longshot of their having a spot open, the registrar told me they indeed had ONE!


Needless to say we were thrilled! It was definitely an unexpected gift from the Lord.
Meade didn't have a spot at that time in their MDO program but was placed on the waiting list.
Two weeks later and 2 weeks before he was to start at the other MDO, the school calls to say that a spot opened up for him.

The whole experience has been wonderful so far and I write this more for myself and for the boys to reflect on God's providence and timing. I was so surprised by the spots opening up, but He wasn't.

That wasn't the only blessing. Sumner has done better than we hoped in the first few wks at his new school. We had some tears through the summer because he was understandably anxious starting a school where he knew kids in other grades, but not really his own... other than a sweet, little girl third cousin. We prayed God would send encouraging friends to him. We've had neighbors set up playdates just for him to introduce him to boys in his grade, one of which ended up in his class, is from a great family and is now a buddy he considers a great friend..AND his cousin is in his class!
We have much to be thankful for....

Monday, August 24, 2009

at sea

time is few words here, but many photographs. they say it best really, anyway.
these are some of my favorite images from the beach this summer.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


can you tell this shot was taken BEFORE the ceremony and dinner?

with their favorite aunt

with Nerny-who, as always, was a huge help all weekend so Jamie and I could enjoy the festivities.

Mimosas backstage

Grandaddy Alton at the start of the service

Meade and Uncle Michael

loved the creativity the florist used. and i love detail shots at weddings :) so fun. aren't the colors delicious?

corraling the party animal

getting his groove on

Father/Daughter dance

Cousin Jenny and Lydia

Jamie and Becca..we love our baby cousins!

they're hitched!

(we took a LOT of photographs all weekend, so i had to break this up into three posts!)