Thursday, June 15, 2017

Week In Review

This is for the week of June 4-10.

The highs of the week were:
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  • Making some progress on organization in our house on Sunday. John tackled a couple problem areas in the garage (that wall behind the girls in that picture), and I knocked out some overdue projects in Charley's room. Both areas look so much better and make my organizing heart happy!
  •  Taking Charley and Laney to the lake Saturday. John and I spent many, many days at the lake in our dating years but sold our boat prior to having kids. When our friend offered to let us come out WITH our kids, we couldn't wait to take them out. They both LOVED it so much and Laney woke up the next morning asking to go "ride boat?" again.
  • Some of our regular friend time Friday night in the basement after kiddo bed time. Always a fun time!
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The lows of the week were:
  • I had to stay at work late two days this past week. As always, it isn't too bad since it isn't the norm and it also wasn't too crazy or too late, thankfully. 
  • However, the second work-late day was on gymnastics day so I needed to pick Charley up by 6:45. I got caught up in something last minute at work which made me have to run to my car and race to the gymnastics place to get there on time. I realized I wasn't going to make it on time (Waze showed me arriving about 4 minutes late) so I called them to let Charley know as I KNEW she would panic. When I arrived (only 3 minutes late!) she was sitting down next to her teacher and I could tell she'd been crying. Ahhh! My poor baby! Made me feel so bad!
The best money I spent was on:
It was time for John's phone upgrade and he wanted to get the iPhone 7 like I currently have also - I upgraded last fall. However, I recently regretted my upgrade decision because I wanted the 7+ instead that has Portrait mode. John, being the awesome husband he is, offered to order the 7+ for me with his upgrade and he took my iPhone 7 for himself....my PINK iPhone 7. So, the best money spent was on the taxes we had to pay for the phone. I'm IN LOVE with this phone!

The book I am currently reading is:
I didn't get to read any of it this week, but I am sort of getting back into the habit of reading! Yay! The book I'm reading is The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney.
The TV shows I watched were:
We finished the last season of Bloodline. The last two episodes ruined the entire 3 seasons. SO disappointed in how they finished a good show. 
The dinners we had were:

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It was a very busy take-outty week...
Sunday: A Sunday usual - chicken and dumplings.
Monday: John and I both worked late and had my dad pick up the girls. As a thank you (and because our fridge was empty) we got take out Jim N Nicks BBQ for dinner.
Tuesday: Hello Fresh meal of Cherry-Drizzled Pork Chops. I did not cherry-drizzle my serving, thank you very much.
Wednesday:  Take out from Five Guys. 
Thursday: Swim Lesson night, so after swim lessons Charley, Laney and I ate at the dine-in Pizza Hut. John, who did not go with us, ate something at home.
Friday: The girls and I went to Chick Fil A on the way home so the girls could play in the tubes and eat dinner. John made another Hello Fresh meal - the Vietnamese Marinated Steak and I HATED the smell of it. Bleh. So, yeah, glad I did not wait until we were home to eat because I would not have eaten that. 
Saturday:   Ate dinner on our way home from an afternoon at the lake. Went though the Zaxby's drive through which hasn't been my favorite in the past, and ordered something different this time. I got the Cajun Club sandwich and it was SO GOOD. 

My favorite picture from the week was:

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Taken with my new phone, of course!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Campground Review: Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground

In May we were lucky enough to spend a week at the mecca of all campgrounds: the DISNEY campground called:


We had an amazing time and will definitely be back. It is hard to NOT have a good time while anywhere on the Disney property, but I'm going to try and only review the campground here. Maybe if I get my crap together I will tell you about our whole Disney trip in another post. Don't hold your breath though.

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This was actually our second visit to this campground. Our first visit was in 1995, so OVER TWENTY YEARS AGO. We had very fond memories of our first trip and had always wanted to return so we finally made it happen. Quite a few things changed in those 20 years, but both times we left certain that we would come back again. 

We made our reservations online through the Disney website. As a telephone hater you know this is something I prefer. Not many campgrounds have the ability to make online reservations so this is a plus. We bundled our park tickets and campground reservation all together and we were able to make payments on it for the year leading up to the trip. It had to be paid off 30 days prior to check-in, just like if you were to make reservations at any other Disney resort. So this is not so much a campground specific item but a convenience nonetheless so I'm including it.

The rates at this campground aren't really comparable to other campgrounds but let's be real. This is DISNEY. You don't expect them to be comparable because your experience won't be comparable. I still thought they were very reasonable though - ranging from just $53-$90 a night. They have four levels of campsites - the cheapest being for tents our pop-up campers. The Premium sites are the most expensive   and are large enough to park your biggest RV. But, the difference in price between their top two tiers of campsites was only around $5, so in our opinion there was no need to NOT select the Premium sites. These sites are fully paved and are mostly all surrounded in trees and shrubs so you have privacy. 

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Forgot to take a picture of our site until we were packing up, so the trailer and golf cart take up a ton of our space and make it seem so much smaller. We had plenty of space though! This is site 1447.

One thing you are not able to select online, however, is which loop or site you prefer. I am certain that you can call and request a certain area but I did not do that. I read some reviews which suggested the best loops for premium sites to be within loops 400-700 so that was what I had in mind to request upon arrival. However, our really friendly gate agent told us our site was in the 1400 loop and instead I decided to just go with it.

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I'm actually really glad I just went with it! After checking in and doing some exploring, we did make note of a few favorite sites to request for the future (sites 725, 407, 423, 1410, 1419, 1421 if you are interested), but we were really happy being where we were! Our loop was very close to the pool and Meadow Recreation area and was close to the Settlement area and a playground too.

In a campground this size transportation is important. There are nice sidewalks throughout, but sometimes you need to move quicker than that to catch an early morning bus to a park or to get the overtired children home ASAP. We brought my parent's golf cart to be our main source of transportation and that was perfect. They also rent golf carts and there are several areas where golf carts have their own parking area. If a golf cart isn't available, you won't be stuck walking around the massive campground. They actually have 3 different bus routes within the campground to get you where you want to go. These buses stay within the campground and just do different loops all day long. There are bus stops outside of each loop but we never actually used these buses during our visit. There are also boats that take you directly to Magic Kingdom or to a couple other resorts. SO awesome to be able to hop on one of those boats after a day at Magic Kingdom when the line for the tram or monorail has thousands of people in it.

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(One thing that did change from our first visit 20 years ago was that the bus stops are for internal buses only now. Before, the buses for each park made loops throughout the campground so you just walked to the end of your loop and waited for the bus for Epcot, for example. Now, you would need to catch an internal bus, walk, or golf cart it to the front of the campground to transfer to the buses that take you to other places within the Disney resort.)

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The amenities here are endless. Of course there are pools (we just visited the main pool in the Meadow area, but there is another one in the cabin area also) which has a fun slide and there's also a splash area. There's a sand volleyball court and tennis courts near the pool, and tether ball and basketball courts and playgrounds all around. We took advantage of the pool/slide/splash pad on several occasions and visited the playground (which we had to ourselves) a couple times in the cooler evenings.

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There's an area for horseback rides, and at the other end of the campground a ranch and stable you can visit where the smallest visitors can take pony rides. Charley had a pony ride one afternoon. It was only $6 (I think), cash only, and I had to lead the pony around myself. It was a quick and fun little activity. My one complaint though is that it was hard to find! The horses up front are easy to see so I assumed this would be the location of the pony rides also. But, these horses are just for the horseback trail rides. The ponies and bigger horses are at the complete other end of the campground. If you take an internal bus there, they would be easy to find. But if you are on a golf cart or bike, it was really hard to find which parking lot was near them and exactly where to go. No signs, no direction, nothing. After we finally found the ponies, we couldn't figure out WHERE to go to pay and get our own pony ride. Another parent leading his child around on a pony was finally able to tell us what to do.

After we did that we were able to go into the large stables to see some of the horses that Disney uses for parades or wagon rides or to pull Cinderella's coach.

There were tons of other rentals and things to do though. Here's one menu board of some of the stuff you can rent or do:

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Let's talk about food. Normally while camping you cook your own meals each day, but Disney's campground actually has several other options too. There are two dinner shows hosted here that you can visit whether you stay in the campground or not, but there's also a buffet restaurant which has a separate entrance for take-out. We utilized the take-out place a couple of times for dinner or for a quick pizza. Food was good and prices were as you'd expect at Disney. Pizza wasn't that bad in price or taste. Not that good, either, though. Ha.

Something we believed that the campground was lacking was a place to get a sweet treat! The restaurant had a couple of small options which we were not very impressed with. There's also a food truck each evening at the campfire singalong thing, but it had NO DESSERTS. There are two camp stores which each stock the same things so the best we could do when our sweet tooth called was to get a candy bar or a packaged ice cream. Meh. If Disney allowed us to open an ice cream shop within the campground we would be millionaires.

There was an arcade near the pool and by the restaurant. Charley and I spent an hour there, spent $10 and played every game. Not too shabby for an hour's worth of fun!

We never did the campfire singalong and outdoor movie thing. It started at 8:30ish each night and since we did theme park days every other day, we were either at a theme park at that time, or getting to bed at a decent hour to gear up for the next day's theme park. An 8:30 start is pretty late for my smaller children.

The entire campground is very wooded and nature-y and therefore you'd assume buggy. My children and I are BUG MAGNETS. We are eaten alive all summer long. But, Disney won't have that. They spray for mosquitoes often and none of us ever got a single bug bite. It was amazing! And, if you are still getting bug bites they would supply you with insect repellent for free!

The camp stores weren't my favorite. It was hard to find prices on so much of it, for one, and for two we were unable to find what we were looking for on 3 different occasions. One time we were looking for a forgotten ingredient for our dinner and they didn't have it. Another time I wanted dive sticks for the pool and despite having a section of pool things there were no diving sticks so I had to find something else in the store that would work. The third thing was camper lights (the decorative ones you hang from your awning). We saw another campsite with Mickey lights and thought they would definitely have them in the store. But nope! Nothing like that at all. Tons of souvenirs and things like that though so you don't have to waste time in the theme parks shopping.

The picnic tables at the site were very nice. They were that molded plastic material, square with 4 benches and sat 8. I wanted one for myself until we Googled it and saw they were around $700. (speaking of Google - WiFi was also great here!)

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Some sites even come equipped with themed clothes lines! ;)

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Since the campground is very close to Magic Kingdom, you are able to see the Magic Kingdom fireworks from the beach each night. Even without being able to see the lights on the castle, that fireworks show is pretty great so that's another perk. They play the music that goes along with the fireworks from speakers along the dock. There's a little electrical parade out on the lake each night which is pretty cute too.

All in all, I give it a 10 out of 10! Charley proclaimed that this was her best vacation ever and I know we will be back when Laney gets a little older too. (That 8+ hour drive was brutal with at 2 year old that doesn't nap on the go very well.) I don't think you can go wrong at any Disney resort, but I do love the outdoorsy aspect of this one.

Have you been here? I felt like there was so much to do that we couldn't get to it all. What was your favorite? I feel like you either need to be counting down to a Disney vacation, on a Disney vacation, or need to be planning the next one. I'm ready to plan the next one!

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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

This is Two

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I love all of the baby stages as I'm an equal opportunity baby stages lover, but age two is one of my favorites for sure. They are learning so much every day and it's exciting to see them turn into little humans with opinions of their own. The exciting parts are nestled right in between the tantrums, but, it is exciting nonetheless.

Laney turned two a couple of weeks months ago and the vastness of her personality is astounding to me! So much packed into those 25 pounds. For those that know us personally - Charley is me through and through. Laney, rightfully so, is John. And John also has a ton of personality. It's fun (and admittedly sometimes frustrating) to parent a child that is so much like my husband. And of course, she's TWO, so some of the frustrating parts may just be because she's two and not that she's inherently difficult. We'll reassess the difficult factor once we move out of the toddler years.

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Laney likes things done her way, on her terms, and things need to be her idea. Even if her way is exactly the same way you just did yourself. She will undo what you did and redo it on her own. Whether that is moving her drink back from the edge of the table, putting a bite of food on her fork, picking up a toy off of the ground - all things she has undone just so she could redo them herself.

I have spent a lot of time in the glider in her room over the last 6 years between Charley and now Laney. I think back fondly to falling asleep in that chair with a tiny Charley on my chest or rocking Laney back to sleep in it during the middle of the night, not to mention the hours and hours I spent nursing them in it. I've read books to both girls in it for 6 years, too. Nothing beats having one of their sweet, sleepy bodies in my lap and reading them their favorite books. They are at just the right height to get a million kisses on their heads and I just love every single thing about it.

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Well. Laney has her own ideas about how this time should work. She now sits in the chair BY HERSELF, usually lounged across the chair and both arm rests. I've been evicted to the ottoman and I now sit there to read books to Laney. I need to pick up a palm frond so I can also fan her each night as she winds down.

One of Laney's newest and favorite phrases is "No way!" and sometimes even "No way Jose!"

I posted a video on Instagram about the way Laney pronounces "Bunny" on April 15th. Bunny is the name of her lovey blankets and as long as she's been able to babble, she's called them "Duh Duh". Sounded very similar to Dada sometimes, so you had to use your context clues to figure out what she needed. In the video I am basically laughing at the fact that even though she can enunciate the two syllables of bunny very well, she refuses to put them together correctly and instead prefers duh duh.



Well. That backfired. She dropped that incorrect pronunciation only a few days after that and has never looked back. Bunny is now buh-nee and "duh duh" is down there resting in the Memory Dump with Bing Bong.

Rice is her favorite food. Fried rice, Mexican rice, white rice - she won't discriminate!

My goodness this child loves to sing. Favorites are Happy Birthday, Twinkle Twinkle, the ABCs, and the Itsy Bitsy Spider. She likes for you to sing along - until she doesn't - and will promptly give you a SHH!

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We are 0 for 3 on her enjoying carousels. One time I gave up and sat in the bench thingy - which was my first time ever riding the bench on a carousel. Another time I ran out of negotiation tactics too late so I ended up holding her on my hip while we stood beside a horse that she refused to sit on.

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But, give her a spinny dippy theme park ride and she LOVES it. This particular ride makes many adults feel sick and it is the one Laney loves the most. But don't dare put her on a carousel horse. Makes sense.

She still naps twice a day about 50% of the time I'd guess. We are moving away from the two-naps-a-day thing, but she's not all the way there yet. Bedtime is at 8.

She's wearing a 2T and is just about in a size 6 shoe. We are finishing up size 4 diapers and I'll buy size 5 next. It is time to start thinking about potty training, but she is adamantly against it. I still have the potty chair out and we talk about it a little each day, but she is very much against it right now. I'll give it some more time.

She HATES getting her teeth brushed. (I remember Charley being the exact same way at this age though.) STRONGLY DISLIKES having her hair brushed and a bow added. I can at least somewhat get away with doing that most days though. Currently HATES baths, so we have been showering with her instead. (Another Charley similarity because Charley also went through the exact same bath-hating phase.)


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She plays pretend pretty well, and mimics everything Charley does. 

Mornings during the week consist of me going in to wake her up and get her out of her crib. I always come equipped with a cup of milk and she always starts smacking her lips soon after she opens her eyes. After she's had a couple of swigs she always asks for the exact same thing - "See Daddy?" So I carry her to find her Daddy so she can get some snuggles from him each morning, too.

She's started saying "luff you" and I just melt into a puddle every time I hear it.

She tries to police what you say to her. For example, "Laney I like your dress!" can be met with "NO! Laney dress. You no like." Or if you walk up and say "Hi Laney!" you may be met with "NO! No hi Laney."

Time outs are not very effective with her. When she hits Charley and I send her to time out, that is usually met with a sweet "OTAY!" and she runs off to put herself in time out. She will sit there the entire two minutes and gives out "SOWWEE"s and hugs when it is over. She totally gets the concept, but I don't think it's doing much to prevent bad behavior.

But that tough exterior houses the sweetest little girl inside. She's SO cuddly and very lovey and despite most pictures, is a happy and smiley tiny girl. I can't wait (or maybe I can) to see how she does in preschool this fall. It will always be an adventure with Laney, but one that I am enjoying and can't wait to see where it goes.

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