Friday, October 20, 2017

Hollywood Studios, Arrival, Magic Kingdom, Sep 2017

When we first decided to go to Disney over Labor Day weekend for the Halloween party, it was only going to be for Friday through Sunday.  However, we get so excited when our trips get close, that Patrick always starts looking at his work schedule to see if he can get off a little earlier and on the road to vacation sooner.  On this particular trip, we ended up leaving home Tuesday around noon.  By the time we stopped Tuesday evening, we only had 4 more hours to go.  If you've read any of my previous trip reports, you know we always try to open the park.  Patrick decided that this trip shouldn't be any different, so we got up at 4:30 on Wednesday morning and headed straight to Hollywood Studios.

We arrived in the parking lot just before 9:00 and by 9:05 we were on Sunset Blvd.

 Even though we made great time, we knew we wouldn't be at the park before the opening rush, so we had decided to make way first to the Hollywood Tower of Terror.  Littlecjc backed up against the height chart and we all cheered as her head brushed the 40" marker.  She was so excited to finally be tall enough, and Twilight Zone Tower of Terror became attraction #1.  She took it all in and as the elevator dropped, her little legs shook violently while she gripped our hands for dear life.  When the ride came to an end and started to back away from the drop track, she asked if that was the end.  When we said that it was, she exaggerated each word of "That. was. CRAZY."

We took our time in the gift shop when we got off the ride and bought Littlecjc a new pin to commemorate her first time on this big kid ride.  As we walked past the ride entrance to get our stroller back, Littlecjc begged us to ride it again.  We were a little surprised, but eagerly obliged making attraction #2 Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.  This second ride must have been a little more intense, because she decided afterward that she didn't want to ride it again.

Since lines weren't too bad this day, we crossed the park and decided to wait out the standby line for Star Tours, attraction #3.

I think Littlecjc enjoyed this ride, but wasn't overly impressed.  After our galactic tour, we walked past the red carpet meet and greet and noticed that the line wasn't very long.  So, we met Minnie, character #1, and Sorcerer Mickey, character #2.

By the time we finished visiting with Minnie and Mickey, Littlecjc was begging to ride Toy Story Mania.  We had fastpasses for this later in the day, but Littlecjc decided she was willing to wait in line to ride Toy Story Mania, attraction #4.  While on the ride, as we were moving towards the third or fourth screen, our vehicle came to an abrupt stop and all the lights came on.  We were instantly informed to remain in our seats and that a castmember would be along shortly to get us out.   When they did arrive, it was a little funny as we got out of our vehicle and then stood in the formed line to move 10ft to the next vehicle until we had made the full circuit and reached the emergency exit.  Although Littlecjc was upset, I found it very interesting.  We were able to spot so many more details since this ride is usually dark.  One of the castmembers even pointed out a hidden Mickey that will always stand out to me now, but which I never would have noticed while moving past it in the dark.

Anytime you are escorted off a ride, you are given a fastpass so that you are able to come back.  So, as we left the ride, two castmembers were there to scan a new fastpass onto our magic bands.  

We decided to try to cheer up Littlecjc with some pizza from PizzaRizzo's.  While here, we realized that our extra fastpasses never showed up in our app.  We were a little upset obviously, but we did already have fastpasses for the ride a little later and we figured that was why it never showed up.  (Remember this logic, as we will come back to it later.)

After lunch, we made our way to the Disney Jr. land area.  First, Littlecjc wanted to meet Jake, character #3.

Lines were thankfully very short at this time, and within 6 minutes, we were meeting character #4, Sofia the First.

Again, we quickly moved on to Littlecjc's next pick, Doc McStuffins, caracter #5.

At this point, we moved inside the Star Wars Launch Bay and stood in a short line to meet Chewbacca, character #6.

This meet and greet is always fun, because we never know what to expect from Littlecjc.  The first time she met Chewy, she loved him and called him a big dog.  Since then, though, she's always been a little more cautious.  On this particular day, Chewy really wanted a hug from her, but she was putting up a fight against this.

We ended up with some cute pictures regardless, so I was okay with this.

Chewy even got his hug from her. 

 Before leaving the launch bay, we took advantage of our Disney Visa credit card special meet and greet.  Every time we have done this, we have always met Kylo Ren, character #7, and always without a line.

We knew we'd be back for BB8 later, but by now, we needed to make our way back to Toy Story Mania to use our fastpasses, which made Toy Story Mania attraction #5.

At this point, we were excited to see that Star Lord and Baby Groot were still meeting at One Man's Dream.  For some reason, I thought that this meet and greet was such a limited affair that it had already left.  I was never so happy to be mistaken.  We eagerly met Star Lord and Baby Groot, characters #8 & 9.

Baby Groot was so adorable stating his one line over and over and dancing around.

Littlecjc reminded us that we still hadn't met BB8, so we headed back to the Launch Bay to meet BB8, character #10.

We were feeling pretty accomplished for everything that we got done in this park and thought we'd head to the hotel to check-in.  Before actually leaving, though, we made our way back to Toy Story Mania.  Remember those fastpasses that never showed up in our app?  Well, their was either a big delay or else the system was smart enough to not give us the free fastpass until we had used the one we already had.  Either way, the fastpass was now there, so we took advantage of it before leaving the park which made Toy Story Mania attraction #6.

With a quick stop in at the Trolley Car Cafe, also known as Starbucks, we made our way to the All-Star Movie Resort.  We had completed our online check-in, so we were able to head straight to our room.

Littlecjc was excited to use her band to open the door.  For this trip, we were in the Mighty Ducks area, which happens to be the furthest buildings from the lobby and food court.  However, these buildings are very close to the bus stops at All-Star Music, so it kind of evens out.

We had hoped that Littlecjc would take a nap, but of course she had no interest in that idea.  We knew we wanted to go to Magic Kingdom that evening to see the new Happily Ever After fireworks since they were only shown on certain days during our trip due to the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween parties.  Before heading out, we decided to grab some food from the hotel food court.  Patrick was very excited to try the Reuben Burger.  

It was pretty good, and big enough for Patrick and I to split.  I don't remember what kid's meal Littlecjc picked, but between the the two meals, we were all stuffed by the time we walked over the the bus stop at the music resort to head to Magic Kingdom.

As soon as we entered the park, we could tell that it was going to be a very busy evening.  Littlecjc was very eager to ride something, but almost all fastpasses were already gone.  We decided to head to one of those classic rides that almost never has a line, that my kid loves.  We rode Mad Tea Party, attraction #7.

With this ride done, and long lines all around the park, we headed to another classic attraction that usually doesn't have too long of lines.  Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, attraction #8

We really enjoy this very simple ride.  When we got off the PeopleMover, we decided to ride Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin.  I think that we had fastpasses for this ride, but it still took us a while to actually get on the ride vehicles since the fastpass line tends to get backed-up here a lot.  Either way, Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin became attraction #9.

We decided we really needed to find a spot to watch the fireworks at this time.  

For some reason, the park seemed extremely crowded to me this evening.  We enjoyed the new show and Littlecjc made it to the very end before falling asleep.

Although the park had extra magic hours until 11 this evening, with a sleeping child and the large crowds, we decided to call it a day and head back to the hotel.  Not to mention, that we had gotten up at 4:00 in the morning.  It was such a great day, considering we were originally planning on spending the day in the car.  We may have only ridden 9 rides, but we met 10 characters and had a lot of fun.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Hello Monday

Weekend Update
This weekend was actually a very lazy one for us.  Patrick ended up working on Saturday and Littlecjc and I were pretty lazy.  I think we all just needed a break.  On Sunday, I was able to get in a lot of reading, out of a physical book, which was amazing.

Hello Monday
Here's your peek at my week:

It's an Up kind of week, because "adventure is out there."

Hello Gatlinburg
Our adventure this week is our trip to Gatlinburg.  We're taking a little extended weekend trip with Patrick's family.  Back at the beginning of September, we surprised Patrick's dad with the trip and we're all excited.  We have a cabin rented and plans to go to the Comedy Barn.  The rest of our weekend is open, so if you have any suggestions of what we should do, let me know.

Hello Fall
It officially feels like fall outside and I surprisingly couldn't be more happy about it.  Within the past week, I've started having the pumpkin drinks, (I know, I'm late to that party) pumpkin donuts, and yesterday we even picked up pumpkin Oreos.  (Those may just become my breakfast here in a minute.  I'll let you know if they're amazing.)  For the first time in three years though, I don't think we will make it to any of the local orchards/farm markets that offer fall activities.  With the drop in the weather though, hopefully the trees will look awesome this weekend from our mountainside cabin's porch.

Hello Books
So what book did I get to read this weekend?  The Fiery Cross by Diana Gabaldon.  This is the fifth book in her Outlander series, so it's huge and I have a long way to go still.  I've also made my way through two audiobooks last week: Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan.  If you remember, I preplanned most of my reading list this year, and I'm running low on the books offered by my library in audiobook format.  I think I'm either not going to complete my list again this year, or else I'm going to need to change up my list.  I guess we will see.

I think that is all for this week.

Happy Monday!

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hello Again

It's been two months since my last post.  How does that happen? It appears that I stopped writing about 2 weeks before our last Disney trip, and it's taken me an entire month to attempt to get back to you all.  Sorry for that.  I'll of course update you on that Disney trip as soon as I can, but for now let's update you on everything else.

Homeschool Update
A few of my last posts were dedicated to my preparation of beginning homeschooling preschool with Littlecjc.  I spent so much time and effort in my preparation and both Littlecjc and I were excited to begin.  However, once Littlecjc learned she was only going to the basement for school instead of anywhere else, she was less excited.  She humored me and participated in my planned activities, but she didn't really seem to care all that much and she never asked to do it again.  I'm not sure if she wasn't quite ready or if I just gave up too easily, but we only ever completed one day.

August Update
In August, Littlecjc started back in her Kindermusik classes.  She also experienced her first solar eclipse.  It seems a little funny talking about it now, because there was so much hype leading up to that August 21 event (that's right, I even remember the date) our day of darkness, as our local news station reported on it for  months on end.  Although we were only around an hour away from the totality path, we decided to watch from home and viewed it at with our 98.something percent of coverage.  It was fun and I'm sure I'll watch the next one in 7 years (when we're in the direct path of totality) but in all honesty, I had already forgotten about it until I started looking back at everything I missed here.

September Update
As you know, we started the month at Disney World and Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party to be even more specific, but more on that later.  I will say that we of course had an amazing time.  I know it usually takes me a little while to get back in a normal habit after a trip, but looking back at September, it's no wonder it took so much longer than usual this time.  Our September was busy.  Littlecjc and both her papaws celebrate birthdays this month.  So, after only 3 days home from Disney, we got back on the road for a weekend at Bedford.  The next weekend, I helped my mom host a baby shower for my brother and sister-in-law.  If you've visited my party page, you know we tend to go all out.  Hopefully I'll get around to writing a post devoted to that shower, but here's a little something to hold you over.

It was an adventure theme, and it was beautiful.  Amazingly, the family was able to get together again the next weekend to help us celebrate Littlecjc's 4th birthday.  We had a Moana themed lunch gathering.  With all the craziness of this month, we didn't go all out and we only invited family this year.  I did of course though, serve somewhat themed food and I made a Moana cake.  We had a lot of fun, and as usual, our family spoiled our little girl.

In order to get everything in this month, the boys all left Littlecjc's party and headed over to my brothers for dinner and a diaper party with more of his buddies.

On Littlecjc's actual birthday, we went out to lunch to her choice restruarant, McDonald's, and visited a local mini golf course.

 I guess we really saw a lot of my family this month, because we were all together again the next weekend for dinner at the boat club to celebrate my dad's birthday.  Patrick and I were also able to sneak in a date night this last week of September, when Thomas Rhett came to town and we went to his concert with Kara and Eric (Patrick's sister and brother-in-law.)

Somewhere in the midst of this month, Littlecjc also started back in classes at the dance studio.  During the first week of classes, we learned that they were going to have a tots competition team this year.  When they asked if she wanted to join, we went back and forth for a little bit, but ultimately we decided to join the team.  So far, we are thrilled with this decision, as we love the new teacher and the structure of her class.  They've also already started working on their dance, and it's so cute.

October Update
Although we are only 11 days into October, so much has already happened.  We have an amazing local organization (which Patrick teases is a fraternity for grown men) known as the West Side Nut Club.  This organization donates so much money to local groups and our schools in particular, year after year.  They also host different events each year like an Easter egg hunt and the opportunity to meet Santa at their Santa Land.  What everyone really gets excited for, though is their Fall Festival.  This event is huge and it's a great money maker for many local organizations as well as the Nut Club.  They line the street with 136 food booths, where every one of them are local non-profit or not-for-profit organizations.  That's 4 blocks and a large parking lot full of food options.  One block is also filled with carnival rides and games while another large parking lot is filled with just kiddie rides and games.  Every day different entertainment is provided between two stages, including a king and queen contest, a lighthouse parade, the nightly amateur hour contest, a pet parade and main parade. With the event being so large, organizations also make money by taking over nearby parking lots so that you can even support your cause by paying to park.  Since we live about 2 miles from this festival, we usually attend almost every day and I refuse to cook this week.  My family loves the amateur hour and we meet nightly to watch.  Littlecjc rode a lot of the rides, but her favorite this year was the froggie jump one that bounces up and down.

Although this event is huge, it's not the biggest or best thing that has happened so far this month.  That award goes to the birth of this little guy.

My brother and his wife had their baby boy on October 6th.  I am so in love with this little guy already and I couldn't be happier for this family.  Their journey of parenthood has been a long one (you can read about it on her blog and it makes this birth announcement that much sweeter.

The same weekend this guy decided to join us, Littlecjc got to spend the weekend with Grandma while Patrick and I traveled to Chicago for his cousin's wedding.  I can by far say that this first weekend of October was the best one of the entire year.

Hello Reality
With everything going on I'm trying really hard to get back into better habits this month.  This includes eating healthier and cooking dinner.  Patrick and I started working out again this week. (Although, I have to admit that I already missed my second day after falling down some concrete stairs Monday night after working out.  I feel better already today though, so I'm going to at least attempt some type of workout still today.)  I'm writing again in my bullet journal.  (That's right, it wasn't just this blog that got dropped last month.)  Here's this month's mood tracker and this week's spread.

So, here's hoping I can continue to cross off those little to-do dots and get back to you real soon!

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Breakdown of a Bullet Journal

As I said in my last bullet journal (bujo) post, they are completely customization and you can use them anyway you want.  That being said, there are a few sections that are pretty standard in every bujo.

First up, the index.

As you can see, this is exactly what you would expect form an index.  This step is not to be skipped, especially if you include anything besides a calendar in your bujo.  Your index is where you can find all your random information.  It is also helpful if you run out of room on any page and need to continue your thoughts on a second, non-consecutive page.  You can easily find all this information if you've written down where to find it on your index.

The next common section is some type of calendar at a glance and/or future log.

Already, there are so many different ways to document this.  Some people choose to make this two separate sections as well.  For this first book, I chose to just create a future log so that I had somewhere to write down important dates and special events.  As if you don't already have enough choices, some people also choose to split this off even more and create special pages just for birthdays, or other specific calendars depending on what your life schedule is like.

From here, bullet journals really start to show their personality.  For the planner aspect of a bujo, there is usually some form of a monthly layout.  These can range anywhere from a straight forward calendar of boxes to a list of days where either and all options in between may or may not include goals, tasks, expenses, mini trackers, etc.  Although I like recording some of that information, I haven't included as part of a monthly spread.  At least not yet, as I can always change my layout every month if I decided to try something different.  So far, I have used this type of layout for my monthly layout.

Most bullet journals continue to break down after the monthly layout to a weekly spread and/or a daily log.  You can do a simple search on google, pinterest, or instagram and join facebook groups to see different layouts, but in my book, I sort of merge the weekly and daily.

If you're looking for a place to journal daily activities, I would suggest keeping a weekly and separate daily pages.

Before leaving the idea of using a bullet journal as a planner, here are the other pages that I include each month.  My monthly meal planner.

My mood tracker.

And a habit tracker.

I'm only in my third month of using the mood and habit trackers, but I like it so far, even though I'm still changing how they look.

The final section of almost every bullet journal is collections.  These collections are anything you choose to include in your bujo besides your calendar.  Seriously, anything!  Common collections include tracking books, movies and TV shows (to read/watch or have read/watch.) 

Of course, you can include any collection you'd like, but here are a few that I have included so far in my bujo.

My Whole30 journey.

Blog topics of a link-up I participate in, since I got tired of looking this up every other week.

A workout schedule.

A running log.

There are so many other ideas that I have wanted to include, but I haven't taken the time to include yet.  Although I have many mistakes and failed pages in my bujo, I still overthink almost everything I include.  So, even though I could theoretically quickly jot down all these ideas, I haven't done it yet since I want them all to look pretty.  Yes, I know this kind of defeats the purpose, but I also find making the pretty pages a little therapeutic.  Not to mention how accomplished and happy I feel after completing a pretty spread.  

If this sounds helpful and fun for you, take these standard sections and make them your own.