Monday, June 29, 2009

Disney - Continued

Lilly in the car early in the morning on our way driving from Atlanta to Orlando...
she was so excited but so tired!

Two weeks ago, Jon updated you about our first day of Disney, which as I will remind you, was definitely magical. An easy drive down, a beautiful hotel room, a High School Musical Parade (twice!) and American Idol (which was probably Lilly's favorite show the entire trip) at Hollywood Studios (formerly MGM), a magical dinner & fireworks experience at Cinderella's Castle, and a few rides, including Lilly's first roller coaster, Goofy's Barnstormer. We got back to the room at almost midnight, after a completely wonderful day. Which means, of course...
... our plans for the next day were ruined. Not ruined, actually, but we had to switch gears.

Originally, we were planning on hitting Magic Kingdom first thing (arriving at 8:30 for a 9 am rope drop opening), riding all our favorites, and back to the room by lunchtime. Yeah, right. Lilly was still getting used to the 8 hour time difference from New Zealand, plus the late night out... So we decided that in order to make this the most perfect trip, we had to be flexible. Plus, we did 5 rides during our late night the night before (It's a Small World, Winnie the Pooh, Goofy's Barnstormer, Carousel, and Buzz Lightyear), so we were already ahead with what we had accomplished. Looking over the schedule in my head (the actual Excel spreadsheet schedule never had to be consulted because I had memorized it), I knew that our only deficiency was that we didn't have a solid block of time at Hollywood Studios due to the stupid Star Wars weekend that we wanted to avoid. So, Wednesday was a sleep-in day and then on to Studios.
Unfortunately, I didn't get the memo regarding sleeping in, so I woke up at 6:30, walked down to get a cup of coffee, and walked around the entire lake of the resort. I sat in a hammock, strolled by the pool, and called the two people who might be awake at that time of day (Melanie, and my mom). Finally, Jon & Lilly arose, they went down to breakfast (Pepper Market) while I got ready, and then we were off. We arrived at Hollywood Studios around 11 am and went directly to Toy Story Mania to get fast passes (it typically has a 2 hour wait, and our fast pass was not until 5 pm). From there we went to the Backlot Studios Tour, as most everything else had a long wait, and then on to Mickey's Clubhouse for the 12 pm show (Lilly loved singing and dancing along). By the time it was over, it was 12:40 and about 100 degrees, but I really wanted to catch Beauty and the Beast (a broadway-style show), so I sent Jon ahead and stopped for an ice cream bar to tide Lilly over until lunch, and cool her off. The pro's of this decision: she loved the ice cream, and we caught the once a week version where they have sign language interpreters, which I loved seeing. The downside: it pushed our entire schedule back, and Lilly was not only a big mess eating her Micky Bar, but she also didn't pay attention to the show because of the ice cream. Oh well. After it was over, we got lunch at a nearby bakery (great sandwiches, chips, cookies, etc.), and skedaddled out of the park so that an overtired Lilly could catch a nap.
We arrived back at Coronado Springs by 2, and Lilly took a nap by 3. We all fell asleep, but had to wake Lilly up by 4 so that we could get to our dinner that night. Which meant, Lilly was a cranky girl, bless her heart, for the next hour until we got to the Grand Floridian for 1900 Park Faire for dinner with Cinderella, the stepsisters & stepmom, and the prince. She had a great time before dinner dancing to a band upstairs (and we went up to wave to them for awhile), and finally we went into dinner. Cinderella is her absolute favorite, so Lilly was very impressed that she saw her two nights in a row. The prince swept Lilly off her feet with his charm. But the hit of the night was one of the stepsisters, who made us laugh and Lilly loved. The food was great too - a buffet with lots of options, including a variety of salads, international foods, a kids buffet, and a dessert bar. Lilly especially loved the endless supply of cantaloupe.

Lilly charming Prince Charming...

Lilly loved Cinderella except she was a little shy up close in person.

But she was totally impressed by the stepsisters!

After dinner (around 6:30), we were all exhausted from the heat and the late night the night before. In order to not push ourselves too much so that we could keep early hours the rest of the week, we decided to head back to Hollywood Studios for just one ride (using the hard-to-get Toy Story Mania fast passes). As we were parking the stroller, I handed the fast passes off to Jon and... one dropped into a grate in the ground. Just our luck! I played the good guy and said I'd sit out (even though it's a new ride we all wanted to ride), but Jon told the ticket-checker about the situation and they waved me through. Yay! So we all rode after all. It was actually a pretty cool ride; although I would certainly not stand in a 2 hour line for it; but certainly worth riding using a fastpass. We got back to the room by 8 and went right to sleep.

Next up... will our early night mean that we'll have a relaxed and refreshed
experience the next day at Animal Kingdom? To be continued...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Lilly's Super Sweet Third Birthday!

Today was Lilly's Super Sweet 3rd Birthday, and it was such a great day I was almost in happy-tears throughout the day. God has given us such a blessing in our little girl and she sure exploited all her charm today. As background, we've only been back in Charlottesville for 2 days, so we are half-unpacked and the house is a mess. But this morning when we woke up, we decided the organization can wait, because today is about Lilly. None of our NZ boxes have arrived yet (we just have the 5 suitcases we took on the plane so far) so Lilly doesn't have many toys set out; but we went through our bonus room storage and found some age-appropriate things for her to play with and set up her playroom downstairs. She now has a play kitchen, table, pretend stuff, blocks, and, most importantly, a karaoke machine set up. We played for awhile with all her "new" (old) things, and she also got to open her gifts from daddy - a "my first" t-ball set and golf set. Oh what a lucky girl to be swinging bats and clubs at balls and mommy & daddy. But we survived.
Then Lilly and I decided that, since it was her birthday, we would go shopping. I know I have a reputation but really we haven't bought much in the year we were gone, and I've barely been in a clothes store since I've been back. So, we went out to buy Lilly and I new dresses for her birthday party tonite. Lilly was an excellent shopper, and managed to talk us both into two dresses each instead of one. Oh well, it's her birthday. :)
So then we went to Giant Food to pick up her princess birthday cake. She got a balloon and a free cookie. What a lucky girl! We drove home, ate lunch, and she took a nice nap while we cleaned up for the party.
After her nap, Lilly and I decided to have a dance party. She is an incredible dancer, and follows directions really well, so I was making up little dance routines and she was copying me. Like, "twirl, twirl, twirl, then jump up, come down, and clap your hands." She loved it. We put in Christine & Chris's cd from their wedding, and we danced for about an hour. It was one of the most precious moments I've ever had with my daughter. Since Lilly was in such a great mood, I decided she should try karaoke for the first time (well not really the first but first time since she was really little). We dusted off the old karaoke machine, found a high school musical karaoke cd that we just happened to have (it came free with one of her dvds), and spent the next 20 minutes singing & dancing. She knows all the words to the songs, but was shy at first, but then started getting into it.
By this time, her boyfriend Jack and his parents and adorable baby sister Erin came over (we hadn't met her yet as she was born while we were in NZ), and we celebrated Lilly's birthday with pizza, ice cream, and cake. Lilly opened her big present from us (well, from me - Jon's gift was the sporty things), so my gift to Lilly was appropriately a Cinderella's castle that's like a dollhouse - it opens up and comes with 5 princesses and their princes, and lots of furniture, etc. What a lucky girl! After our friends left, Lilly, mommy & daddy karaoke-ed some more, and this time Lilly sang along to all of it. If you look at the pictures, Lilly & Jon are totally mouthing the same exact thing at the same time.
The day ended with me putting the princess to sleep, in her new "big girl bed" (it's her 3rd night to sleep in it, and is doing well besides some late night wandering and sometimes waking up across the room instead of on the mattress). Of course I get emotional and start telling Lilly about the day she was born, and she interrupts my heartfelt story to sing "where is thumbkin." She was so cute with the hand movements for it (and I love when she sings on her own) but she couldn't get that song out of her head, as she did it about 100 times before falling asleep. Oh well, it's her birthday.
We did all our favorite things today - eating, shopping, playing, dancing, and singing. We were so fortunate 3 years ago when Lilly arrived in our lives. Lilly is the best little girl a mommy could ever hope for.
***I promise that I will get to writing the rest of our Disney Trip Report. Not trying to make it a huge cliffhanger; we had a wonderful time but there are too many memories and pictures for me to tackle! I will get the next installment written this week.***

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Disney - No rest for the weary

To say that is has been a busy time since we returned from New Zealand would certainly be an understatement. Actually the busy times started before we even left NZ. Despite Cathleen's best efforts and all the time she put into getting us ready for the US to NZ trip, I managed to wait until the last minute as usual. The few things that I was responsible for literally were completed as we were throwing bags into the cab that was bringing us to the airport. Even with the last minute packing, we manage to get all of our stuff onto the plane and 24+ hours later we were heading to Cathleen's parents house in Norcross, GA (Friday 1am). By Friday evening, Cathleen was off to New York to spend some much needed family time with her sisters. I spent the weekend getting Lilly adjusted to a new timezone and getting her to see as much of both my and Cathleen's family as possible. Cathleen flew back into Atlanta Sunday night just in enough time to pack for our much awaited Disney trip. At this point the only thing that seemed to be holding us down were the colds that we all managed to catch since arriving in the US.

Despite lack of sleep, a new time zone, and flu-like symptoms all around, the car was packed up by Monday at 11 pm. Cathleen, Lilly, and I were on the road to Disney by 6 am Tuesday morning. All I can say is that it could not have been a better Sherman Disney Day. Well I guess that's not all I can say. We arrived in Disney's Coronado Springs Resort at 1:45 (with a 1 hour nap for Lilly along the way) and checked into one of the best rooms in the resort. We had a 1st level room with a kingsized bed, with a divider for Lilly's "room", looking out onto the lake, in short walking distance to both the bus stop and 2 pools. We immediately put Lilly into her bathing suit and went to the pool. She was so excited that before we had been in the pool 20 minutes we had to head back to the room for a diaper change. We gave Lilly a bath and then headed to Hollywood Studios. Lilly was decked out in her High School Musical t-shirt and as soon as we arrived at our destination we went straight for the High School Musical 3 street parade. The 4:30 parade was just finishing, but it certainly didn't keep Lilly from dancing her heart out. We immediately went to the American Idol Experience. In this version of the show, 3 contestants that have passed auditions sing for the audience vote. Lilly voted for her favorite and of course he won. We then went back outside to see the 5:30 parade for High School Musical 3. After a bunch more Lilly dancing we headed over to the Ticket and Transportation Center.

As luck would have it, the front car for the Monorail opened up and we road in style to the Grand Floridian. We spent some time in the air conditioning and let Lilly dance to some classic Disney tunes from the piano player that plays near the check-in in the resort. This gave us a chance to change Lilly into her Cinderella dress. As Lilly's Cinderella's Castle dinner was not until 8:25 we had some time to kill. By 6:30 we were walking around Magic Kingdom and Lilly put her head down on the stroller and decided that it was time to take a short cat-nap. Cathleen went with Lilly shopping as I went on a quick ride. By 7:30, Lilly was up and refreshed. We were off to It's A Small World not soon after her little head popped up from her nap. You've never seen a happier kid. We checked into dinner at 8:20 and took a family picture with Cinderella. Lilly could not get enough of this princess and even tried to cut back in line and get some more quality time with her.

Soon there after, we headed upstairs for Lilly's royal dinner. We were seated right next to the window in direct view of the carousel. Our waiter was hilarious and kept all three of us laughing. As we are celebrating Lilly's 3rd birthday all week, Lilly received a royal birthday dinner. The dinner started with the presentation of a magic wand followed shortly by a small cake with a candle. We all sang happpy birthday. The Fairy Godmother and 2 Mice came out from the back at about the same time to help with the song. I don't know if Lilly was more excited about blowing out her candle or taking pictures with her Disney friends. The food was excellent and by the time Lilly's birthday ice cream arrived (she did eat pasta and bread for dinner as well) the evening Magic Kindgom fireworks were about to start. It was an amazing scene watching Lilly enjoy an incredible fireworks display from the comfortable seats in the castle. By this time it was 10:30 and Lilly was not done yet.

Lilly could not stop pointing at the carousel from the dinner table, so we went there first. We then went to the Pooh ride and didn't even have to wait as we had picked up Fast passes earlier in the evening. Afterwards since the park was a bit slow, we headed over to Mickey's Toon Town Fair and put Lilly on her first rollercoaster: Goofy's Barnstormer. Lilly was just tall enough and to be honest it seemed a bit fast for her. But in true Lilly style, at the end she was clapping and had a grin ear to ear. We asked her if she liked it and she said yes. We asked her if she wanted to go on the ride again and she said NO. We then headed to Tomorrowland (on our way out of the park) and went on a Buzz Lightyear ride. As we were really trying to head out of the park we ran into the Spectromagic Parade. We stopped for the majority of it so that Lilly could wave at Mickey, Minnie, and the rest. It was 11 PM and Lilly was going strong. However, as any good parents we felt that it was time to head home. By 11:30 we were on the bus and Lilly quickly curled up in Cathleen's arms and went fast to sleep. While she may have been out late, she was smiling until the time she closed her eyes. It could not have been a better Sherman Disney Day. Who knows what the rest of the week will hold. I guess that its time to go to sleep and find out......(to be continued).