Wednesday, May 30, 2012

At Your House After The Mouse: Breakfast

We got home late last night from a trip to Birmingham to celebrate Minnie's first birthday. It's a 12+ hour journey when traveling with little ones so a grocery run doesn't sound like much fun on this very rainy morning.

On some past vacations, we've dropped by the grocery store for milk, bread and fruit once we arrived in our town but before going to the house. This time, I stocked up on items that would let me feed my family but would also buy some time. We have milk boxes and juice boxes in the fridge, frozen waffles, instant oatmeal, fruit cups, applesauce packs and also uncrustables for later today. This should allow me to stall the grocery shopping until this afternoon when we go get my dog from the vet.

And if all else fails, we still have birthday cupcakes.

Photo Flashback! The American Adventure

The American Adventure is a favorite attraction of the Growing Up Disney family and it seems appropriate to highlight it on this Memorial week.

Click here for other photos and stories about this fantastic attraction.
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Focused on the Magic

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

Enjoy the day and thank someone for their service. Pray for those that have given the last full measure of devotion.

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Friday, May 25, 2012

DVC Report: Disney's Old Key West Resort

OK.  I admit it.  I like staying at Disney's Old Key West Resort.  No, I LOVE staying at Old Key West.  I was a little worried when they started "remodeling" last year.  I was not thrilled with the pictures I had seen of the changes to the rooms.  I liked the look of the "old" rooms.  The door mats say "Welcome Home" and you don't mess with my home.  Well for the first time in over a year, I visited my "Home" with a trip the first of May.  For this trip, we had booked a one bedroom villa.  It was originally going to be a trip for Mom and me, but at the last minute Amy and our two granddaughters, Tink and Minnie, joined us.  This is pictures of our room and our reactions.

We checked in about 1pm and our room was ready.  We didn't go straight to the room.  Today Olivia's was our first stop for some lunch.  Then it was off to find our "Home".

Building 35
Our Home

We  found our villa in short order, after all we have been calling OKW home since 1993.  (I always find it  funny when I am asked if we have stayed there before when we check in.)  When we walk in, OKW always feels like Home, but this time it was a little different and we had to get use to the new look.  Gone was the carpet in the living room, replaced by a hardwood-look floor.

view from the front door
The furniture was much the same with just a change in fabric and colors.  Also added to the living room was a braided rug under the coffee table and a new large chair and ottoman.  The chair makes out into a single bed with very little effort and was perfect place for Tink to sleep.  Once we stayed in one of the Family Suites at the All Star Music Resort.  There was a similar chair that Ridge sleep on during our stay. After one or two nights, he sleep in the chair rather than making out the bed as it was very uncomfortable for an adult.  The one at OKW, however, seemed to have a different mattress and it appeared to be much more comfortable.

Dining area
The dining area table and chairs had been refinished and reupholstered in a new fabric.  The look was ultimately the same even with the dark color of the table that matched the color of the headboard in the master bedroom.
Also new in the kitchen was the granite counter tops.  The tops should be very durable, but once again made very little difference in the overall look of the kitchen.  The kitchen is still very functional and with its full-size appliances lends itself well to preparing a meal or just storing snacks.  One thing we did do on this trip as well as our trip to Disney's Hilton Head Island Resort in January was to bring our Keurig coffee maker.  The coffee pot went up on top of the refrigerator until after the trip was over when I moved it back to the counter.

Living Room Lamp
My favorite change in the decorations was this living room lamp.  It is a lifeguard stand chair with the Mickey Mouse logo cut into the back.  I would have liked to have brought this one home with me.

Master Bedroom
The Master Bedroom has new carpet and exchanged the open metal headboard and foot board for a dark wood headboard.  The side chair was upholstered in a different fabric but was otherwise unchanged.

Master Bath Jacuzzi

 The bathroom appeared unchanged and to my wife's enjoyment kept the large Jacuzzi tub.

Master Bath shower
While I enjoyed the large shower, that was also unchanged from the original.

Minnie enjoyed the location of the pots and pans, but in her PJ's had a problem walking on the slick floor.

Tink found the size of the room just right for spinning and spinning in her pink tutu. While Minnie liked the new flat screen TV.

Without carpet, Mickey Mouse stickers wound up everywhere.  But Disney appeared to have done their homework and the adhesive on the back of the stickers did not stick well to the floor.  It did not take much to peel them off, much like a sticky note.  One thing I did notice was that the new floor was already showing marring and scratching from having to move the ottoman or coffee table to be able to open the bed in the chair or couch.

All in all, even with the new decorations and colors, Old Key West still maintained most of what made us fall in love with the place when we first saw it in 1992.  The updating was nice as some of the furniture was beginning to show its age because of the constant use.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

View from the Back Seat

It's road trip time again and, while I am riding shotgun now, earlier I had to sit between the two car seats. I thought I'd share a few of the things we love on the road.

Baby Minnie, heading to her first birthday party

I got a two-pack of Tommy Tippee insulated straw cups at Target. We hauled them all around Walt Disney World and they worked well. Finally cups that don't leak! I had to watch the instructional video from the company in order to put them together correctly but once I learned the trick, they became my favorites.

This is an Avent formula dispenser. Mine is from Amazon but I've seen them at brick and mortar stores too. I don't really care for it for formula but it is terrific for small snacks. Mine currently holds Cheerios, baby goldfish and yogurt puffs. I've mentioned the dispenser here before and my dad posted a picture of Tink using it to share her snacks with Mulch, Sweat and Shears at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The inner divided bowlcomes out and on occasion I've given Tink the "big bowl" and kept the food to share between both kids.

We don't keep the DVD player in the van all of the time but it's a lifesaver for long trips. When we moved from Oklahoma to North Carolina, we drove for four days. Tink watched Mary Poppins over and over but she was happy. And at home, I hadn't realized the beauty of Fast Play on Disney DVDs. Now I love it since I don't have to wait for the disk to load for us to be able to hit the road.

It doesn't show up very well in this photo but the navy blue is a lap tray for the car seat. It was about $20 from Amazon. I purchased it before our Hilton Head trip in January. It is great for holding snacks, books, toys, etc. Tink isn't quite big enough to use the mesh pockets that are on either side but I can see those being handy in the future. The tray itself wipes clean easily and is firm enough for the items I mentioned but it is mostly foam so I would think it would be safe if we had an accident.

Tink was too busy watching Pooh to smile for me.

And this is completely random but it passed while I was taking the other pictures... Are those the biggest tires ever or what?

I hope you have a fun and safe Memorial Day weekend. Many, many thanks to all who have served this great nation.

Magical Blogorail Special Edition: Minnie Mouse Birthday Party Attire

Welcome to those of you joining me from Disney Donna Kay and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 3rd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

My Baby Minnie will soon turn one.  I'd like to thank my blogorail friends for joining in on the Minnie Mouse birthday party fun!

Big Sister Tink, on her first birthday in 2010, meeting Minnie Mouse at Chef Mickey's

My "Baby Minnie"

Since I have the current birthday girl, I am covering attire options for such a soiree.

Of course, you could always go with the classic Minnie costume.  This one is a Disney Store dress I picked up at a consignment sale a couple years ago.  I think I got Minnie, Aurora and Tinkerbell for $15 total that day so I've never worried much about the girls playing in them.  I don't have a picture of the baby in this Minnie dress yet but Tink is wearing it on our Minnie Moms page.

I'm taking the Minnie dress with me as a possibility, but I know my Minnie will be wearing this t-shirt.  Our color scheme is hot pink, black and white polka dots like Minnie wears on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.  I was thrilled to find one in the right size for both of my girls.  It doesn't really show up in the picture, but there is glitter on the bow.  They are very cute in person.

For some, these aren't fancy enough options.  Well, look no further than  It is full of creative folks selling all sorts of items.  Searches for Minnie Mouse dresses, shirts, tutus, etc, will provide nearly endless choices.  This is a little fussy for a party in the park but I especially liked this one

Baby Minnie doesn't like wearing hats, so I doubt I will keep her in any of the following for long, but here are the birthday headpieces we have.

I got this cute soft first birthday 'tiara' at Target around the time of Tink's first birthday.  Here she is wearing it while waiting on the monorail.

I bought the baby a personalized Minnie ear hat a while back when was running a good sale.
And for everyone else, I could not resist purchasing these Minnie Mouse bow headbands.  They haven't arrived yet so I hope they are as cute as I think they will be.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Can Do It Mom.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ Delightfully Disney with Minnie Mouse Invitations
2nd Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay with Minnie Mouse Decorations
3rd Stop ~ Growing Up Disney with Minnie Mouse Attire
4th Stop ~ Can Do It Mom with Minnie Mouse Inspired Drinks and Snacks

5th Stop ~ A Disney Mom’s Thoughts with Minnie Mouse Games & Crafts
6th Stop ~ Disney Babies Blog with Minnie Mouse Cakes
7th Stop ~ Pursuing the Magic with Minnie Mouse Gift Ideas
Final Stop ~ Disney In Our Blood with Minnie Mouse Favors

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Photo Flashback: Where the Wild Things Are

They are right out side your door!!

When we first checked into our ground floor room at Disney's Old Key West Resort on our recent trip to Walt Disney World earlier this month Amy opened the blinds so we could see out.  The window shades made a noise that must have been something like a duck call because we soon had a dozen ducks outside our door!  Mom wanted us not to scare them off, but it soon became obvious the Ducks had been this way before and there was not much that would scare them.  They hung around for a while, but after we didn't we feed them anything they soon lost interest in us and flew the coop.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Technical difficulties.

I'm always suffering from one technological malady or another. So this trip it's not being able to get my tablet to connect to the hotel wifi or email pictures and you know good and well I have pictures to share. So I'll show off a few things that I have on my phone.

You are not seeing things, this is a bird outline on the window at AKL. I happened to just be looking in the right place to see it and asked a CM that was passing by if that was normal. She said it happens more than you would think. I'm guess crows... They are in the windex commercials after all....

I took out for adventure at Animal Kingdom this morning and saw these jewels. Think Dr. Dre makes some Beats like this?

I took the obligatory trip to see the Yeti and the Safari. Then I was pretty well done just shopping my way back to the exit. Also at the age of 30 mailed my first postcard (ever) from the park. I felt like I should have remembered how to do that since when I was in elementary school.

Dinner at Fulton's Crab House was last night and you'll have to wait for the review.

This post took me all afternoon and night to get up cause I have been moving so much. In the next few days I'll have pictures and stories going up. As for me it's packing and travel today.

Have a Magical Day!

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Minnie Moms: Do Not Forget to Pack...

This month I asked our Minnie Moms this question: "What can you absolutely not forget to pack for your family's Walt Disney World vacations?"

Amy: When I asked this question of the Moms, I was thinking in terms of tangible items but now my best answers to this question are your sense of humor, a good night's sleep, and a hot cup of coffee.  You can get just about anything else at a Disney gift shop or at the local superstore.

Keeping your sense of humor is essential.  I am guilty of letting myself get too tired or hot or hungry to deal well with little ones.  I've given myself a "do better slip."  Learn from my mistakes.  Guess what? Meal times are crazy at home with small children and they will only be worse when you are off schedule and in a very busy new place.  Just roll with it as best you can.  If your child makes a mess, bring an extra set of clothes, clean up the table as best you can and offer the Cast Member who helps you the biggest thank you.  If your child doesn't want to eat the meal you have paid too much for, maybe next time get yourself only a salad or a soup and share the kid's meal.  (That worked great.)

It's so tempting to run as hard as you can at Walt Disney World.  I frequently try to share the message of SLOW DOWN!  If you are taking very small children to a Disney park, you are more likely to be a frequent guest so don't try to see it all.  This last trip, Tink did more than she has on her previous trips but still far less than an adult could do.  Baby Minnie didn't take in many attractions at all.  I am looking at it as adding a little each visit.

And along with the slow down idea is getting everyone into bed at a decent hour.  Even more than the kids, you need your own rest.  They can always sleep in a stroller but you will be the one who is really busy.  Patience and sleep go hand in hand.

If you can't accomplish the sleep request, at least fake it with a good cup of coffee.  Many thanks to my father for bringing his Keurig along on our Hilton Head and WDW vacations this year.

Corby: This topic comes at the perfect time for me as I am packing today to head to Disney World! There are quite a few things that I can't go without and each time we go to Disney, I learn more and more about what needs to come with us and what doesn't. I'm a very light packer (my husband packs way more than I do). I try to keep things to a minimum because I don't want to schlep the kids, luggage and other miscellaneous objects to and from the car/hotel/parks. I figure if I need something that badly, I'll be able to find it in Orlando nearby. So, as I was packing, I narrowed it down to 3 items I simply cannot go to Disney World without. There are more items on my packing list but in order to keep this list condensed here we go with my top 3 all time favorites!

1. My beloved City Mini Stroller. I can't say enough good things about it. It's lightweight and collapses easily when we are getting on and off buses/boats. It has ample storage space and perhaps most importantly it can maneuver easily in the parks. My rule for children traveling to Disney is if they can fit in a stroller, even if there legs are dragging on the ground, bring a stroller! They may look ridiculous but if it keeps me from listening to whining then I say it's well worth it!

2. A small backpack is a must do. I need something that will carry items needed and leave me hands free for dealing with kids.

3. A changing kit. I randomly came upon this on our way down to Disney at a Walmart. I love it because I LOATHE public restroom diaper changing tables. Ew. At least with this kit I can put my daughter on it and have wipes, diapers and ointment all located inside the kit. It even has little plastic diaper bags to place soiled diapers in. It collapses easily, has a handle easy for carrying and can fit in my storage space under the stroller.

Natalie: For the past 6 years, I have fiddled with, hated and loved a wide variety of strollers for my son. My son's first visit to Disney World was when he was 3 months old. I brought along with me a baby carrying harness but quickly realized that even a 3 month old child was too heavy to carry for very long.  Quickly I realized that I would always need a stroller to help me out with the gear and my son. I looked to rent a stroller from Disney but found that the price to rent a stroller was too high for me per day. Instead, I brought along my stroller from home.

As the years have passed, my mother often asks me why it is that I still take the stroller for my 6 year old son. However, it never fails that somewhere along the day, my son becomes very tired from all of the hours of walking and asks to sit in the stroller for a while. If I was not still pushing around the stroller, I would need to return to the room or actually sit down instead of head on to the next attraction!

Now that my son is actually approaching the time when he may state, "I am too big to ride in a stroller", I am beginning to reevaluate who really needs the stroller! I admit it! I use the stroller to hold my stuff that I simply must have at the parks. The list of items hung on the stroller includes but is not limited to a camera, cooler, lunch items, a handbag, purchases, etc. If I am not taking a stroller to the parks, where will all of these items go? I suppose it will have to be carried by me! I guess I will worry about that later when my son declares he is too big!

Janine: The really boring answer to the one thing we couldn't forget (well, can I make it three?) are our passports, airplane tickets and credit card. Without these we wouldn't even get past London let alone into the US.  But everyone travelling into America needs those so it's not very personal.

I thought about saying our camera, but although I'd be upset, you can always use Photopass and even buy a new one if you really needed to.

Suntan lotion and hats, sun glasses and water misters are imperative when you're used to the dreary English weather, but again, could easily be bought Stateside.

It would be annoying to leave our 14 Day Disney Ultimate tickets at home as they are only available in the UK and it would be expensive to re-buy them at the TTC, but not impossible.

I wouldn't like to be without my itinerary as it is precisely planned using good ol' Touring Plans and the busy day guide on UK Disney Forum, The Dibb. But as we mainly plan to go with the flow, again, it wouldn't be the end of the World.

So, what one thing could I not forget, could I not even imagine being without at The House of Mouse?
My family :-)  Although DH has joked about sending me off to WDW on my own, I couldn't go without him or Tink.  He is the very reason I visited in the first place and, to me, a holiday in our Happy Place just wouldn't be the same without my husband and daughter.

Danielle: What is the one thing you can’t forget to pack for your family for a Walt Disney World vacation? For my family and I, that’s an easy one: hand sanitizer! Now this may be of varying degrees of importance for different people, depending on your level of, shall we say, germ “sensitivity”. I will be the first to admit that my husband and I are slight germophobes! So, what are two germophobes doing taking their children to Walt Disney World, you ask? Well, our love for the Disney magic that WDW promises outweighs our mutual phobia. What makes touching an infinite amount of lap bars, high chairs, play structures, and public transportation easier on us, though, is our hand sanitizer! BUT – you don’t have to share our “sensitivity” to see the benefits of hand sanitizer. When Suzie is demanding popcorn RIGHT NOW, hand sanitizer steps in where a bathroom would to clean her hands before eating. When the bathroom is out of soap (I know, I know, this is almost unheard of in WDW, but still!), hand sanitizer assures you at least that partial feeling of cleanliness after using the facilities. Did that man just cough all over the lap bar after getting off the ride and now you have to sit in his seat and use that same bar? Hand sanitizer will be there for you when you exit that ride! Ok, ok, so maybe these instances aren’t of critical importance to everyone, but why risk getting sick when you’re in the most Magical Place on Earth? Even if you don’t have a fear of germs, doing your part to ensure a healthy rest of vacation for you and your family surely must be at the top of your list! ;)

Thank you Corby, Natalie, and Janine for joining me on today's post.  And please help me welcome Danielle, the newest member of our Minnie Moms! 

Friday, May 18, 2012

Magical Blogorail: What Would You Do with Three Hours Alone at WDW?

Welcome to those of you joining me from A World View and those of you just hopping aboard. I am the 2nd stop on our Magical Blogorail.

Today the Magical Blogorail answers a very interesting question...

What would I do with three hours alone in Walt Disney World? Well, when I traveled by myself to meet my brother in 2007 and had an evening alone, I strolled from Port Orleans Riverside to PO French Quarter for some dinner. Then I took a few pictures and enjoyed a boat ride to Downtown Disney. There, I splurged on a Precious Moments Disney bride and groom figure. I also bought some bath bombs from Basin and a couple of glasses and tiny bottles of wine from Mickey's Kitchen. After my boat ride back to my resort, I concluded the evening with a nice soak in the tub, a glass of wine and a good book.

On my trip last week, I had a couple of opportunities for brief breaks from the kiddos and my parents. In those cases, I did some shopping, took photos for future blog use and enjoyed coffee and part of a carrot cake cookie.

As a stay-at-home mom with no family nearby, the thought of three hours all to myself, at Disney or otherwise, is quite a luxury. The first thing that comes to mind is the Wild Africa Trek at Animal Kingdom. Everyone who has gone says it is amazing. That's a pricy option, though, so my second choice would be a photo stroll through World Showcase. I just love it there and having the time to really set up shots and play with settings on my camera would be lots of fun. And maybe I could finally try a grey goose slush.

Thank you for joining me today. Your next stop on the Magical Blogorail Loop is Disney Donna Kay.

Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail should you happen to have to make a stop along the way and want to reboard:

1st Stop ~ A World View
2nd Stop ~ Growing Up Disney
3rd Stop ~ Disney Donna Kay
Final Stop ~ My Dreams of Disney

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lunch Time. Sanaa

As one should expect when they travel to such a busy location my room is not ready. So I'm trying Sanaa. I'm going to come back and take some better pictures of the restaurant but in the interest of not passing out I sat at the bar. Breaking my heart right? More people should, bartenders are fun people that like to cut up.

I tried the Tandoori Chicken because really I've had it lots of places it should always be a solid item. Verdict: it was. Served on a piece of naan with minted veggies and a very savory taziki sauce. Hard to go wrong here. Had I not been dining alone I would have gotten the bread appetizer. Choose three kinds of bread and dipping sauces....mmmmm

If you know me you'll also know I had a beer. Tusker from Kenya. A nice amber lager from Kenya. Very crisp and refreshing.

Since I'm on a "working" vacation I had to try a desert. I tried an African answer to a banana split. The Banana Kulfi Sundae. Banana Kulfi (African ice-cream. Very dense) chocolate syrup fresh whipped cream, raspberry sauce, diced strawberries, spiced cashews and a dried piece of pineapple. Please try that.

After lunch I have been sitting outside watching the cattle. It's nice to have nothing pressing to do for a few minutes. I'll go meet some friends later.

It might be nap time while holding for my room and watching my zagg sparq charge.

Bonus pic: not so hidden Mickey.

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Back Home Again!

Hiya folks. Yep I'm back in WDW. I didn't advertise this trip as much as previous ones. I'm back and on the Magical Express heading to Animal Kingdom Lodge!

I see a new addition on the bus, seat belts. Good job but so far they are for your discretion. There hasn't been any notice about having to actually use them.

Not sure what my afternoon plan is but don't worry kids. I'll keep you informed.

I'll leave you with a couple pictures from my flight.

9:30 AM bloody Mary;)

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