Disney Vacation 2013 - Day 1 Universal

We just can't stay away from Disney for too long!  At Christmas we surprised the kids with a short trip over their Winter Break.  The BIG part of the surprise was that we were also going to Universal Studios Islands of Adventure to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for our big Harry Potter fans!  I finally got a big "Disney" moment when the kids figured out we were going they screamed with excitement & jumped up and down. Emma even cried a little being so excited about Harry Potter.  So cute - melted my heart!   And I didn't have it on video.

Anyways the plan was to leave on Friday night and stay at a non -Disney resort and then check into Disney on Saturday.  Another big part of the surprise is that we were flying!  We didn't tell the kids until we got to the airport!  Hehehe..pretty sneaky!  They were so, so excited to fly!!  

We got into Orlando about 4:30 on Friday.  We were renting a car for that night so we could go to Universal.  We had an easy time renting the van and found the hotel fairly quickly.  We dropped our stuff and headed out for dinner at Don Pablo's.  We knew we had a big day the next day!

Saturday morning we woke up and got ready to get to the park.  Our goal was to be at Universal Islands of Adventure right when the park opened at 9am.  We were actually successful and made it through the gates about 5 min early!  We headed straight to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  We knew the quickest way there and didn't make any detours.  We arrived at the Forbidden Journey at approximately 9:05 to find a 90 minute wait.  Sigh.  But..that's why we were there so we sucked it up and got in the queue.   The kids did pretty good considering the long wait and it actually "only" took an hour.  Lily LOVED the ride, Emma was scared to death.  But I think she loved being in Hogwarts.  After the ride we checked out the wands and Jacob & Lily just had to have one.  Then the younger three rode the Flight of the Hippogriff while Emma and I checked out Hogsmeade.  Then it was Butterbeer for everyone!!  We did a little more exploring in Harry Potter and then headed over to Seuss Landing.  

Seuss Landing is a super cute Dr. Seuss themed area.  The rides are perfect for little kids.  Unfortunately this is the only area at Universal geared toward little ones but it was fun.  We rode a couple rides, got a snack and decided to head to Super Hero Island. Also unfortunate?  We hit Universal on a Busy day.  Really busy.  We went to the Spiderman Line where the posted wait time was 80 min.  Too long but we could all ride it so we sucked it up.  It ended up being the slowest line EVER and we waited for about 2 hours by the time it was said and done.  Jacob literally took a nap in the middle of the wait.  It was hot and we were all a little irritated by the end!  Needless to say we had to leave shortly after that since we had to return the rental van and catch the Disney bus to our resort.  

We made it back to the airport, returned our car and hopped right on the bus for the Magical Express.  It was great how fast it all was.  This trip we were staying at Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort.  We had a 2 bedroom with a Theme Park View.  Oh. My. Goodness.  It was magnificent.  Literally from every window in our room we could see the castle and Space Mountain!  It was unbelievable.

We got settled but then had dinner reservations at The Beach Club at the Cape May Seafood Buffet.  Kids were dying to ride the monorail and we thought that would be a quick way to the Magic Kingdom.  After just missing one we decided just to walk to the Magic Kingdom buses.  Thankfully we didn't wait too long and rode the bus over to Beach Club.  What a beautiful resort!  We enjoyed our seafood dinner (crab legs - yes please!) though we've got to teach these kids how to crack their own crab legs!  We headed back to our resort and got off the bus just as Wishes - the Magic Kingdom fireworks show - was starting.  We were treated to an amazing view of the fireworks as we walked back to the resort.

What a wonderful start to our family vacation!  We all couldn't wait for our next day at Hollywood Studios!


Fall Break!

Didn't school just start?  Seriously..now I'm writing about Fall Break?  That was the fastest 9 weeks ever for the girls!  It's really hard to believe the first quarter of the school year is done.  Phew!

The girls had a great first quarter.  This year seems to be a little more challenging with the new Common Core standards that state is using but the girls are doing great.  Jacob is having a great start to the Preschool year too.  We have a teacher we've had for Julia & Lily so we know her well and she knows our family well.  This year Jacob gets to do carpool for the first time and let me tell you - it's a little slice of heaven =).

So the girls are on break.  We're right in the middle of the 3 week break.  Last week we went to the beach, Emerald Isle, for a few days with Auntie Erin.  She and Tom had rented a GORGEOUS home right on the ocean and they were very generous in offering us to come for a few days to hang with them.  Unfortunately it rained and rained and poured and stormed most of the time we were there.  And even more unfortunately Erin pulled her back and was pretty much bed-ridden our entire visit.  But, we got to use the homes pool & hot tub quite a bit and got a little beach time in.  It was nice to be away for a few days.  We came home to soccer and dance and soccer and dance!

This week we're just hanging around the house.  Enjoying some playdates and sleepovers.  Apparently October didn't get the memo that it's supposed to be warm and gorgeous.  The past 3 days have been gloomy and COLD!  I had to turn my heat on!  In October!  What?!?  Anyways, the weather people have promised warmth will return tomorrow.  I hope so!  I usually love this track out because the weather is awesome!  Hmpf!


Soccer Saturdays

Three of our kids are playing soccer for our town's rec league this Fall.  This seemed like a brilliant idea back in the Spring when it was time to sign up.  Two the kids would play at the same park so surely some of their games/practices would overlap.  And soccer is always on Tues/Wed/Thurs so we shouldn't have too many conflicts.  Turns out I was wrong, dead wrong, about that!  Ha!  Turns out they got rid of an age group, added t-ball teams and a t-ball field and consolidated two soccer fields.  So the only practices that are ever at the same time are the ones at different fields.  Sigh.  Thankfully there are a couple neighborhood kids on Emma's team and we've got a carpool going.

Anyway the practice schedule may be a nightmare but the games are going great!  I'm so proud of my kiddos for playing hard each week.  Emma is playing with a bunch of girls who have clearly been playing soccer for quite some time.  She played one season when she was 4, got in the face with the ball playing goalie and hasn't played since.  She's really hanging in there with those girls and is more aggressive than I would have thought!  She enjoys playing defense and she really likes the girls she's playing with.  So far, it's been a great experience for her.

Julia is in her 3rd season.  She's doing great - mostly interested in the game and she scored her first goal of the season on Saturday!  She seems to be more interested when she's playing offense..when she's on defense it's not unusual to see her trying her cartwheels.

Jacob is playing on a U4 team.  And yeah..it's just like you imagine.  Packs of kids chasing the ball.  Maybe one or two kids really getting it and scoring and the rest of them sort of standing around or just running.  Jacob's been up and down with his interest in it.  He's disturbed when other kids kick his ball during practice but he's doing OK.  He seems very curious about baseball so maybe we'll try t-ball when he's five.

So Saturdays you'll find us at the soccer fields, cheering loudly (oh wait..that's just me) getting our game on!


Back to School

My three girls are back in school after a very fast 4 week summer vacation.  My oldest is in 4th grade, the middle daughter is in 3rd grade and my baby girl started Kindergarten.  The 4th grader is thrilled to be back in school.  She's just one of those kids who just loves, loves school.  She was a bit worried going into this school year because her besties all ended up in the class across the hall but she's made some new friends quickly and she really likes her teacher.  The teacher is young and hip and fun.  Her homework assignments are wacky "read to a pair of pants for 20 minutes" and Em thinks she's funky and cool.  

The third grader is happy to be back but won't admit it.  She's that kid that loves to be playing with friends and school is a major distraction in being able to do that.  She does like her teacher a lot and she's made some new friends in her class so it's not awful.  But she's still counting down the weeks until the next break.  

And then there's the Kindergartner.  This was her first full week of school in her class (the first week is a staggered entry and they only go one day).  She's excited to have several kids we know in her class.  The teacher is new to us and she comes very highly reviewed so we're thrilled to be in her her class.  Here are a few highlights of Julia's first week of Kindergarten:

First day:  Me:  Julia, tell me about your first day?  Julia:  "Well..I tried to kiss Sawyer (he's our neighbor and her table mate) and he fell out of his chair."  And then there was the discussion that you don't kiss anyone.  Especially at school!

Other gems from the week from Julia:  "That girl doesn't talk, only to her family so I told this other girl just to stick with me." "Kindergarten is just like preschool - we put our folder in the box and sit down and color."  "The bad thing about Kindergarten is you can't do the monkey bars.  Not until January."  "I have homework!!!  I'm so excited..I have homework just like sissies!"  LOVE this kid!!


Summer Update

So here we are..one more week of summer vacation for 3 of my kids!  This summer break FLEW by though I think 3 weeks is the perfect amount of time off of school!  One more week will be fine but I think we'll be ready for school to start on Monday.

The summer break has been great.  The girls all competed in our neighborhood swim team (go Killer Whales!).  It was our exhibition year and a great experience for the girls.  Julia was quite a little competitor in her age group, getting to swim in a few main events.  There were A LOT of 7-8 year old girls but Lily held her own and definitely improved over last year.  Emma was one of 4 9-10 year old girls and she worked really hard all summer to get better.  Once school got out she did two practices each day.  We had our swim awards this past weekend and Emma got the Most Determined Swimmer award.  She was pumped!   Julia took home "Brightest Smile"  They also all got a medal which I don't think Julia has taken off since Friday!

Emma and Lily have done a few camps this month.  Emma did a So You Think You Can Dance camp at a local studio which she loved and Lily did an art camp with two of her besties so she was in heaven.  Also they both had the opportunity to go with our church to sleep away camp - Camp Kid Jam.  It was 3 nights long at Wake Forest University and they each roomed with friends from church.  They had an absolutely fabulous time and both have resoundingly said they MUST GO BACK NEXT YEAR!  I was skeptical at first about them going away but I'm so, so glad that they got to go - such a great experience for the both of them.

So this final week of break is another camp for Emma - Science in the Summer, a free (seriously!) camp at the library and filled with appointments - eye doc and dentist.  Hopefully we can squeeze some fun it too - a few more pool days, maybe a movie and some playdates with friends.

And only 7 more days of Julia asking how long until Kindergarten!


Summer's Here!

Since my girls in year round school our summer is finally beginning for all my kids!  We're a little late to the summer party and our party will be ending in just 4 weeks that's OK with me.  We have a lot of fun to pack into these next weeks.

This week Emma and Julia got to go to Ohio with Auntie Erin for a week of Auntie Camp!  They've had a blast and we've enjoyed some quiet while they've been gone.  It's amazing how much less laundry and dishes there are!  Lily has been moving from one playdate to the other and not having to share so she's been thrilled.

For the first time the girls are doing several camps.  Thanks to Groupon, Living Social and Twongo for making camps so affordable we've been able to take advantage of some great deals.  Next week Emma will go to a dance camp while Lily will go to an art camp.  The both older girls will go to sleep away camp for the first time with our church. Then they both have a science camp at our library.  (The little kids had camp in June and Jacob will go back in August).

So in between driving the girls to camps we have some fun planned - movies, pool dates and other playdates with friends.

They go back to school July 31st so it will be a short summer but hopefully a really good one!