Monday, March 31, 2014

Our Home Away From Home ~ At Disney World

After Darren and I finalized our travel dates, for our Disney trip, I had the HUGE responsibility/task of deciding where we should reside for those 6 days/6nights.  Planning a trip to Disney World, if you really do it right, is no joke. It can also be a full time job.  I narrowed down our resort selections to 3 choices, all "deluxe resorts".
The Animal Kingdom Lodge
I was SOLD on the Animal Kingdom Lodge.  It was my top choice.  I loved the idea of our resort room being surrounded by safari zoo animals, such as lions, giraffes, and zebras etc. Not to mention, trip advisor ranked this resort #34/368 hotels in Orlando, Florida.  It was just a no brainer to me. After speaking to people who have personally been there, I realized that, for our FIRST time visit to Walt Disney World, the Animal Kingdom Lodge may pose some daily travel issues.  I am doing all that I can to make this trip pleasant.  Apparently, the resort is fairly "far away" from the parks.  The only way to get to and from the resort to the parks is via bus (unless you have a vehicle) and bus transportation is one of the least enjoyable ways to travel to and from the parks, due to wait times. I was very sad that the Animal Kingdom Lodge was possibly NO longer a viable option. However, I can also say that, if you are planning on staying there, the people I spoke to, said the Animal Kingdom Lodge was "by far the nicest and most enjoyable resort" that they have ever stayed at in Orlando, but keep in mind, these are Disney gurus. They go multiple times a year.
The Contemporary Resort
My next top choice was the Contemporary Resort.  Before getting the "ok" from Daren, to begin planning our trip and not having looked into other resorts, the Contemporary Resort was my first inclination.  Darren and I are all about a sleek, modern, contemporary resort.  For some reason, this resort is not "top ranked". It is ranked #133/368 resorts in Orlando, Florida. The Contemporary resort is considered a deluxe resort, but for some reason, there are many varying opinions/reviews. I think the biggest issue, that I kept reading about this resort, is that this resort is the very first resort built in Disney World, so the plumbing is a tad out dated aka "loud", but the rooms have just recently been renovated, so it has a fresh, modern look. In addition, not everyone is a fan of a contemporary look. I know the resort, "Grand Floridian" is one of the top ranked resorts and I am not sure you could force me to stay there. It just isn't my style at all. It has a grandma feel! Very traditional/victorian. So, if someone isn't into a modern look, naturally the complaints are going to be there for the Contemporary Resort. What I love most about this resort are two things 1. The monorail is attached to the resort. It actually drives directly through the resort.  So, we would basically have our own personal "train" that would take us to and from the parks and 2. The Contemporary Resort is the closet resort to Disney World.  So, we can walk to Disney and be there in less than 8 minutes.  This resort is for those who rank convenience as one of their most important requirements.  With (3) children and a less than patient hubby, convenience is a TOP priority. Let me make sure I stress, it is NOT a punishment to stay here. Quite the opposite; a total luxury. 
The Polynesian Resort  
Finally, the Polynesian Resort.  This is a resort that is well loved by many, but surprisingly, wasn't even on my list. It just didn't appeal to me at FIRST.  It is ranked #96/368 hotels in Orlando, Florida.  After reading a ton of reviews and speaking to many Disney World gurus, I realized what a huge error I was making in NOT considering this resort. It is well known for it's Hawaiian feel, the on-site beach, palm trees, the pools, as well as the customer service.  After a ton of back and "forthness" (is that a word), AND after discovering that the "CLUB LEVEL" (best level possible, you get treated like royalty) was available at a Spring Discount Rate, I knew I had to consider this resort.  For two weeks, I had two rooms reserved in two different resorts. My final choice was NOW a "no brainer".  "The Poly" was going to be our final choice.  I cancelled my reservations at the Contemporary Resort and within two weeks, news was flying in, of massive construction taking place at the Polynesian Resort.  The resort's grounds were starting to look like a construction war zone, instead of a Hawaiian getaway.  SO.... I cancelled our reservation at the Poly (giving up club level was very difficult) and ..... drum roll.....


I am so excited!!! We have been granted the "Theme Park View". So from our room, we can see Disney World/Cinderella's Castle as well as the fireworks each night, if we chose NOT to watch them on the grounds of Walt Disney.  

A small description of our resort: "retreat to this ultra-modern Resort hotel and discover award-winnning dining, white sand beaches, spectacular views and dazzling pools.  Walk to Magic Kingdom park, or catch the Resort Monorail as it breezes through the iconic A-frame Contemporary Tower."

Here is a sneak peak into our "home away from home" for 6 full days and 6 full nights.
The Lobby
The Fireworks
"Chef Mickey" - One of the Resort's Restaurants
Check out the monorail that runs directly through our resort.
We actually do have reservations at Chef Mickey's.  It is considered "character dining".  So rather than waiting in line, in the hot sun, to meet Mickey and all of his pals, he will come to us as we eat dinner in the air conditioning.

The California Grille
Most reservations, at Disney's restaurants, are to be made 180 days in advance.  We only had 98 days to make reservations and STILL had trouble getting the times we wanted.  We were able to snag a reservation at this very popular and fine cuisine restaurant, but our dinner time is 8:30 pm.  Shhhh.... don't tell Darren.  LOL!
With sweeping views of Seven Seas Lagoon and Magic Kingdom from atop Disney's Contemporary Resort, 15th floor to be exact, the re-imagined California Grill features a new design inspired by mid-century modern California, and a new menu showcasing seasonal ingredients with a lighter touch. The sushi bar has been expanded with a display case and a 12-course omakase menu, which gives the chefs free reign to create innovative new dishes.

Known for its stellar wine list, the restaurant now boasts about 250 wine selections, 80 by the glass, an expanded sake list, eight kinds of craft beers and ciders and signature cocktails created by staff mixologists. A new wine display can be seen from the first moment guests get off the elevator, housing 1,600 bottles in a climate-controlled showcase.

The Pools

Cool off at (2) pools located on the shore of Bay Lake. Glide down the 17-foot-high, curving waterslide at the feature pool, and relax in one of 2 whirlpool spas. Children can even make a splash in the water playground designed just for kids. You can also escape to Bay Pool, the all-ages quiet pool that juts out over Bay Lake. Soak up the sun from a lounge chair on the deck, or rent a private cabana for added luxury.

The Room
The Bathroom
The Monorail

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Great Wolf Lodge's, River Canyon Run , Water-Slide

This is one of the Great Wolf Lodge's signature rides. You can pack up to 6 family members on this water-slide.  It's a great way to enjoy some family fun TOGETHER.  I wish you could have seen Cohen on this water ride, the FIRST time he rode it. It may have made this video go viral!!! We rode this water ride twice and both times the mommies and Jax squealed while cohen used the raft like a race track.
#greatmemories #greatfriends #greatwolflodge

The Great Wolf Lodge's Alberta Falls, Water-Slide

Ashely and I enjoyed a double, water-slide with our boys! This water slide is called Alberta Falls - four stories of fun, twisting and turning, in and out of the Lodge before dropping into the plunge pool.  Don't worry, the tube is enclosed so there's no temperature change. 

Jax's 5th Great Wolf Lodge Party!

Jax and Cohen patiently counted down the days, of the Great Wolf Lodge party, by using the paper chain that I included in their invitation. The day FINALLY arrived, hooray!!!! Ashely and I prepared for our trip a ton. What should we pack? Who will bring what snacks? Ashely  was going to create "travel gift bags!" (and boy were they cute and over the top). I was going to create "swimming gift bags" and "over night gift bags!" Where should we eat? When would we fit our shopping in? What stores would we shop at? Etc., etc., etc. The list was endless, but we did everything, as desired/planned, into our less than 36 hour trip. Ashely and I literally are like "two peas in a pod", when it comes to our ability to stay on task/be on time. We had our trip down to a literal science and we were always ahead of the game, not late, not on time, but EARLY. We even got up, in the early a.m., and studied the word of God, as best as we could, with two boys constantly interrupting us.

I am posting a few of my favorite photos from the trip, but feel free to double click on the photo album and youtube videos below, to get the FULL scope of our trip/fun/memories that will last a lifetime.

When I checked into the lodge, Ashely said that about 3 families came up to our van and commented on the graffiti messages written on the van's windows. They also asked her if they could take a picture of our van.  LOL!
What they've been waiting for for almost 30 days! 
Ashely takes a picture of me, taking a picture of her.  LOL!
Jax and Cohen meet Wiley!
After story time, at the Clock Tower, the boys in their McQueen Pjs, played their mommies PINK iPhones.

Just chillin!
Down the waterside Jax goes! So brave.
Goodbye Great Wolf Lodge!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Sweet Treat For Your Feet!!!

For Lilah's party, I created these fun and beautiful cozy cupcakes.
Supplies needed:
Cozy Socks 
Large Bubble Gum
Wooden Skewers
Scrapbook Paper
Insert skewer into bubble gum.
Cut the skewer to fit perfectly into your cozy cupcake.
Roll cozy socks.
Insert skewer into cozy socks.
Insert cozy socks into a cupcake "wrapper" made out of color coordinated scrapbook paper.
The morning after I made them, Jax came downstairs and said, "Oh, can I eat one?"  He thought they were real cupcakes!  That made my day!!!! It was my aim to make them look as realistic as possible.
I wound up wrapping these cozy socks in a clear, "snack" bag, in the baking section at Michael's Craft Store.

Rainbow Pencil Artwork

On St. Patrick's Day, it snowed, so the kids were out of school... A-G-A-I-N. I did my best to fill the kids' day with some green fun and some colorful artwork.  I snagged this rainbow pencil eraser artwork idea from my favorite blogger The kids had a lot of fun being creative.  Lilah was so into watching me and thought mine looked so pretty, that she kept starting over and over and over until she said, "Mine isn't nice like yours.  Can I just watch you and keep yours when you're done?" Poor thing is starting to become a perfectionist like her mommy.
Supplies needed: 
Basically, all you do is dip the eraser into the color paint you want to use, and start marking your paper.
 We had 7 different pencils, one for each color.
 Ty's artwork (above) 
 My artwork (above)
Jax's artwork (above)