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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Disney World 2016: Polynesian Review

We went to Disney World at the end of May and stayed at Disney’s Polynesian Resort for the first time. I previously really didn’t get the draw to the deluxe resorts but when we scored an awesome deal we couldn’t pass it up. Needless to say, I now FULLY understand the draw to the Monorail resorts, especially with kiddos who are still in strollers.

Let’s talk reviews because I have a lot to say!

Kingdom Strollers – we rented the CitiMiniGT and it came with a cooler and rain cover. I want to buy this stroller now, I loved it so much! And the rain cover came in handy at least once. The stroller was simple to order and pick up/return is right at the front desk.  We didn’t miss the stroller at all on our travel days – I wore Vivian in the airport and Aleesia and Gianna did great at holding our hands/navigating the airports. I could easily push any combination of girls with no issue, which was a double bonus.

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Garden Grocer – We got a delivery credit from renting our stroller and it was great. We got almond milk, a case of water, gateroade and some snacks. In all honesty, I over-ordered on snacks and if we could have had 1/2 a case of water that would have been ideal. But again, ordering was so easy as was picking up the stuff that I would do it again in a heartbeat. My only “negative” was that I found their website kind of hard to navigate as far as figuring out some specifics on products before ordering, but it wasn’t a huge deal. I had also packed snacks, which I probably won’t do next time.

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We did the Magical Express and were the first stop, which was really nice. We stepped off the bus and the kids were amazed, as were Mike and I. The theming and decor is beautiful, I really felt like we were stepping into Hawaii!

We had kind of a haphazard checkin process – but we did online checkin so our room was ready as soon as we got there and our bags arrived relatively quickly. We didn’t get a balcony room, which I was a little disappointed about but our room in the Aotearoa longhouse was wonderful. We had a lagoon view and the doors opened to the outside and the view was perfect – we could see the magic kingdowm fireworks from our bed and we were so close to the Grand Ceremonial House and pool. We didn’t notice much extra noise from Luau Cove except when the last show ended as the guests walked right by our room, but it wasn’t a huge deal.  The walk to the TTC wasn’t bad either.

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The kids LOVED the pool! Gianna couldn’t get enough of the Volcano slide and everyone loved the splash pad. We specifically planned pool time into our days and I am SO glad we had the opportunity to enjoy the hotel and the pool. We never visited the quiet pool or the sand area, but that’s okay – everyone was happyily cooling off in the main pool area. It never felt overcroweded either, even on Memorial Day.

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We did the dining plan this time (as we have in the past). Probably my only ‘complaint’ about the resort is that the Captain Cooks (quick service) had more limited options than at the moderate resorts. We ate lunch there a few times and felt like we were always getting the same things. We also have picky eaters, so that was part of it. The flatbread though? WAS AMAZING. Honestly, all the food was so good there – the service is a little slow so don’t be starving when you walk in.

I had a polynesian pearl drink from Trader Sam’s which was super good and the awesome pineapple drink (pictured above). The iced coffee from Kona is something I’ve been craving since we left.

Other restaurant reviews:

Kona Cafe – this is my favorite breakfast in all of Disney World, so no surprise that I loved it once again. Tonga Toast is where it’s at!

Ohana – we had breakfast at Ohana our last morning and it was SO yummy. The juice was wonderful, the fresh fruite platter was a hit and I loved all the warm food. They were so accomodating to our crabby kids! Vivian called Stitch (who is all over the hotel in the gift shops and stuff) a bunny the whole time and was so excited to see the bunny in person! She, at the end of the week, had finally warmed up to the costumed characters and loved Pluto!

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My biggest regret is forgetting to buy our MemoryMaker/Photopass pictures in time (the day I went to purchase all of them, the first 2 days had disappeared and I didn’t realize it!)– there were just a few that I really wish we had, although I am lucky enough to have captured a version of every picture taken on my own camera. I have always discouraged against paying for MemoryMaker, but I have to say it really is worth it especially if your family splits up and there are some great ride pictures that get captured (I’m bummed not to have the pictures of Aleesia and I on the Mine Train).

 

More resort/dining reviews coming soon!

 

We’re already ready to plan a(nother) return trip….

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A letter to my {first} daughter: Seven!

Gianna!

This is a slightly delayed (and by slightly, I mean by 3 months) letter to you for your birthday. I wrote you one in our letter journal (albeight it last month) and somehow never got around to putting anything here. Life, as has been the case for the longest time and will probably for the next many years, passes by without me being able to take a few moments to put all the things swirling around in my head down in writing.

Enough about that – let’s talk about you!

The past year, the age of six (now the beginning of seven), was one that was FULL of changes in your life.

We moved twice, you went to a new school, changed dance studios, lost a lot of teeth, made a lot of new friends and your confidence is growing by leaps and bounds. Little babies grow rapidly as they develop, but big kids it seems, grow just as rapidly but differently. For example, I realized sometime in the spring that i hadn’t tied your shoe in weeks – because you learned how to do it yourself! Sometimes Idon’t even realize how much you’ve grown and learned until I’m doing something for one of your sisters and it hits me that I don’t need to do the same for you.

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You are such a little girl, who sometimes wishes she wasn’t so little (and that’s okay), but I think you also don’t want to grow up so fast (I appreciate that!). There was a moment a few months ago, you and your sister were getting ready for bed and I was brushing your hair – I forget now what was so funny, but you were CRACKING UP – all I could see in the mirror was a little girl in the middle of a giggle fest – I tried so hard to burn that image into my head: an image of innocence, sweetness and laughter – it was perfect.

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It amazes me how helpful you can be – how much (at times) you want to help your sisters, to help me, to have responsibility of your own. I’m greatful for your kind spirit and your big emotions. You’ve always felt everything with such magnitude and the only thing that has changed about that is how you recognize it too. You’ll often say to me when you are upset about something “I just have a lot of feelings!” to which I tell you it’s okay to have a lot of feelings!DSC_0293

One thing you REALLY REALLY wanted for your birthday was an ipad. We debated and finally got you a new-to-you ipad – you would have thought we bought you a pony! You were so so happy! Technology isn’t something I always put a lot of emphasis on, but the world does, so we need to embrace that a little here with boundaries and responsibility/responsible use. So far, so good. (Also, facetime and iMessaging are her favorite things to do!)

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Confidence growth, I think, will be the name of the game going foward. Confidence in your ability to do anything you want (practice and work hard!), confidence that you CAN, confidence that you can learn anything. You’ve shown this in the way you’ve learned to read even when it was really really hard, in the way you’ve made new friends when you were shy, in all the new things you have tried this year, in the way you’ve grown in dance and just in life. I’m so proud of you and I am really loving all of the big kid firsts happening in your life!

 

Love you much, my little G!

Mommy

Monday, April 25, 2016

Punked

If I didn't write this stuff down, I wouldn't remember to laugh about it later. Or something.

Truth is, I feel like I've been stuck in an episode of Punked the past few days. I don't know who I pissed off along the way, but I'm sorry for whatever I did/didn't do and/or said/didn't say.

Let me recap:

Thursday evening Aleesia had a problem choosing a towel after her shower which ended in a giant tantrum, her barely putting her PJs on and just general ridiculous threenage attitude.

Friday afternoon during her "nap" Aleesia got into perfume that was in Gianna's room. She spilled the perfume on herself & her blanket which she then wanted to wash. Thankfully I came to check on her before she figured out how to open the new bottle of detergent!

Later that same day, when I thought she was coloring a picture, she was actually coloring on HERSELF!  Arms, legs, hands in black marker because she wanted to be like Cat Girl.

While I was handling her, the dog was then a muddy muddy mess who also needed a bath!

Saturday & Sunday were super crazy and filled with only minimal tantrums and minimal terrible things.

Monday, however was tough. The highlights include a dog that escaped & ran around the culdesac for 25-30 minutes while the older kids screamed & cried that she'd be gone forever while I couldn't chase her and had to make dinner.

Then  a tantrum over washing hands (which had literally just been washed)
And the icing on the cake? Vivian vomited all over herself on the way to dropping Gianna at PSR. It was the. Worst.

After I got everything cleaned up, kids asleep, etc. I stubbed my toe on the baby gate and just decided the day was over! I grabbed some Reese eggs and went to lay in bed!

I have to laugh at this stuff because this is life and life happens (& because I would cry or scream too much otherwise) but really, white flag is flying over here! I always felt fairly put together and like life was decently organized/structured but increasingly I just feel like I am a hot mess 98% of the time and that's totally fine as long as dogs stop running away and kids stop puking in their car seats, because cleaning those things are just awful.

Plusandalso, thankfully the kids are still adorable despite their antics!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

A letter to my {second} daughter: You are THREE!

Aleesia -

I know that when you are old enough to buy-in to the whole “middle child” characteristics you will give me a TON of crap for the fact that your third birthday letter is two months and eight days late. I don’t have a reason for why it took me so long to get to this other than, life is busy my sweet girl and YOU keep me busy!

Three is an age that is notoriously difficult – full of spunk and excitement, trials and learning, snuggles and independence. You, my darling, are full of SO MUCH spunk and snuggles that I can barely handle it some days.

You love your pink blanket (pink bankie) and it is usually not too far from wherever you are. Pink blanket becomes a cape, a comfort, a pillow, a coat and many other variety of imaginative things. You are a master negotiator and your favorite case is to just snuggle for a few more minutes, and you drive a hard bargin. There are a lot of moments of a lot of days where your stubbornness shines through – you hold your ground with every ounce of determination you can muster up and I am sure this is going to come in handy as you get older but right now, sometimes you really do just need help opening your yogurt!

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Watching you take on your roll as a big sister as Vivian gets older is very fun. You love her, you want to always know where she is and what she is doing but as she starts to play more you don’t always know what to do with her! In fact, the other day you saw she was playing so you brought her a baby doll. If she cries, you are either really concerned and want me to help her or you get very angry because she is hurting your ears! You definitly still think Gianna is worth hanging out with and are always asking if you can have sleep overs in her room.

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I have to say though, Luci is probably your favorite person.

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You’re a free spirit. You do what you want, when you want the vast majority of the time. You love to be outside. You wanted nothing more than a dog and when we got you one, I think it made your year. Bell is very much your favorite, you love to play with her all day and to snuggle her.

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One of the most exciting things that has happened since your birthday is that you started preschool and you LOVE it! You also LOVE dance, both your own class and watching Gianna’s classes. Another tiny dancer, no doubt about it.

You love Anna (from Frozen) and every time you see an airplane you tell me you want to go to Disney World. You are going to be one happy, surprised little girl next month because we ARE going to Disney World! I can absolutley not wait to take you there! You get super super excited over things that I would never think were that exciting, which really teaches me to look at things a little different and see the excitement that exists. You love makeup and picking out my clothes.

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Aleesia, you are the sweetest snuggle bug. I can’t believe the way you can make me feel better with a little hug or a random “I dus love you, mommy” and when you ask for me to lay with you at nap or at bedtime. I love the way you talk, the words you use, the way you say certain things (ooze instead of use is probably my favorite).

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(the fact that you aren’t looking in this picture says SO much about your little self!)

There are a lot of difficult days and moments but that is par for the course. For every hard moment in time there is a sweet and/or funny one coming up to take its place. You are joyful, hilarious, sometimes shy but usually very social and honestly light up my day, every day.

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I can’t imagine life without you and your piercing blue eyes.

Love you,

Mommy

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Arty Party: Aleesia is 3!

Aleesia turned 3 on February 1st and we had an art party! I had WAY too much fun planning this and it ended up being such a fun morning with our friends and family! A quick run-down on the party and a few pictures to share!

 

Decorations – This was actually really simple to put together.

I grabbed a pack of aprons from Amazon, put up some of the kids artwork in the entry way to make an “art gallery”, covered the tables with brown craft paper and that was pretty much it!

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We grabbed canvases and paint from Hobby Lobby – all of the kids LOVED painting! And we had a face paint station, too! Everyone painted away, or colored on the tables, and it was just a really fun time.

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Food – I kept it simple, again! Sandwiches, fruit cups, dip and dessert!

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The birthday girl insisted on a Minnie cake, so that is what she got!

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The girls enjoyed themselves!

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Everyone sang happy birthday (and Aleesia refused to blow out her candles!).

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And she was so dang happy about this Anna nightgown!

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But she loved everything, per her usual style!

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But this picture just makes me smile, best grandparents ever!

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Three looks good on this girl, if I do say so myself!