Grandpa Dix

Perhaps it’s fitting that the rain started shortly after you left us, grandpa. Maybe dad turned the rain on for you knowing we would miss you. But then again, if it was him, he probably would’ve made it snow to really throw us for a loop! Although I didn’t know it at the time, I had a feeling that you were gone before I finally fell asleep at 4am.

I was right.

As I laid down Tuesday night, following a dose of NyQuil to chase away this wretched cold, my mind was flooded with memories of you. Even NyQuil couldn’t cloud over those wonderful thoughts.

Memories of the first time we met, which was the first time I met Dave’s dad, brother, sister and, of course, grandma. You all were so kind and willing to allow me into your loving family with open arms right from the start.

Memories of the time you helped us move. Here you were in your 70’s and you came over with dad to give us a hand.

Memories of dancing with you at my wedding. I can only hope Dave and I have the wonderful marriage that you and grandma had. One where you don’t forget about each other even after raising 6 kids. You can feel how much love is in this family- that’s because of you and grandma.

There were numerous memories from Midnight Magic parties and Christmases. Who could forget your big anniversary party at The Voyageur {it was the perfect place where no one cared that there were streamers and signs hanging from the hallway ceilings. Or that everyone was as loud as can be. After all, you can hear Scott a mile away:)}.

You and grandma always asked how my family and Dave’s mom were doing. Always interested in what we were up to and how Dave liked his job or staying at home with the kids. It may not seem like much but when there are many grandkids and great-grandkids, it’s a lot to remember.

I’m so glad that we saw you last weekend, grandpa. We had such a good time. The kids ran around like their crazy selves and Asher kept bringing rocks to grandma or showing you how he blows bubbles. The kids loved that you shared your ice cream with them {Madelyn said it was the best she’s ever had} and in return, Asher shared your goldfish with you. 

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We are so grateful to have known you; to have had you in our lives. I know dad was waiting for you…hopefully with a drink in hand. Give him a hug from us.

Grandpa, you will be missed forever and loved always.

 

How We Did Disney World Better This Year

Here’s part 2 of our summer vacation! It’s the part we’ve researched the most and it’s the most chaotic part of our trip. But, I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

For anyone who has been to Disney with young children, they understand how frustrations can be at a high level, especially when the parks are super busy, the lines are long and the heat index is over 100. Last year we went right after Spring Break shortly after Asher turned 2 and Madelyn was 5 1/2 years old. We thought we were prepared with a double stroller, plenty of water, a backpack full of snacks, a detailed plan that stated what to ride at each particular time, and we brought over a friend to help us if 1 kid needed to go back for a nap or a break from the chaos. Shockingly, things didn’t go as planned. We didn’t realize how impossible it is to stick to a detailed plan with young kids. Before we knew it, it was 2pm and we had crabby kids, crabby adults and no one ate lunch. The stroller was a life saver, but they were so excited to see everything, we’d have to bribe them with snacks to stay in it. The good thing about our friend, Lacee, coming with us, was that Dave and I got to have a night out at Epcot alone. But, she also got to see all of our meltdowns.

When we got home, I told Dave that I didn’t know when we’d come back to Disney.  So, when he told me that he wanted to go back this year, I’m pretty sure I gave him the “you have to be kidding me” look. He started planning nonetheless and eventually we began talking about when to go and how we will go about it this time around.

So what changed this year from last year?

We were flexible. There were no plans set in stone.  Sure, we had reservations to lunch or dinner a couple of times and we had to make some fast passes, but we made a point to have time in the middle of the day to go back to the hotel and unwind or swim in the pool. We couldn’t be go, go, go all day. It wasn’t going to work.

Our first day was at Hollywood studios, but since we had to drive from the Gulf coast and check into our room, we didn’t get there until lunch time so we planned on just staying into the evening, if the kids could handle it. Once we got there, I wished we would’ve stayed at the hotel and gone in the pool! I felt like I was showering in my own sweat!!! We just shoved water, slushes and ice cream at the kids to stay hydrated and cool, along with trying to get on rides often enough to get into some air conditioning or fans. Like I mentioned though, we had to stay flexible. For example, we ended up missing the Disney Jr show we had a fast pass for because we got there late and the later show we missed because we decided to eat dinner instead. Last year we would’ve run for the ride/show without realizing what time it was. Not even thinking about when the last time the kids ate.

Instead of running around like a bunch of crazed tourists, we worked around meal times and the kids behavior. We met characters that we didn’t last year and we had fun waiting in lines.

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Day 2 and 3 we had set up for Epcot. Madelyn was really excited to try and eat different food at all of the countries {is this my child???} and Dave and I were exited to try and drink around the world:)

 

The kids had fun, tried new foods, played in the rain and helped out a mariachi band during their break. Madelyn had her first experience on Rockin Roller coaster and loved it! But she refused to go on Tower of Terror this year. She hated the dark part, so I ended up going alone. Maybe next time she’ll go.

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The kids were good until the 2nd day at Epcot; actually it was in the evening when Asher became unhinged. We realized that we didn’t throw in enough rides when we were walking around the countries. We needed to eat a little and walk to some rides, but instead we continued to walk around and go into stores. Oops!

We realized our mistake before we headed to Magic Kingdom the next day. Live and learn.

There was only 1 day that we had to be at the parks early- day 4. The rest of the days we were at Disney, we didn’t have to be at any of the parks until 10am at the earliest. This gave us wiggle room to get there early if the kids were up, but if they slept in, so be it.

Day 4 was for Magic Kingdom and we had to have Madelyn at the Bippity Boppity Boutique at 8:30am. Madelyn begged and begged to do there last year and I just couldn’t spend $100+ on a bun that gets put in her hair and a costume to wear. After Halloween last year, I made my annual trip to Target after my night shift and saw a nice, fluffy Cinderella and Snow White costume that I got for 70% off!!! I planned on giving it to Madelyn for Christmas, but by the time Christmas came around, we were already thinking about Disney, so we held off giving it to her. Instead, we brought it to Disney and gave her the dresses before we went to the parks. We ended up spending $65 on her hair which came with these really nice mickey bobby pins {they were far from flimsy}, 2 normal size bottles of nail polish, some makeup, a sash, and a small back pack to wear. Yeah, it’s still a lot of money, but it was worth every penny when we saw the Disney staff bow to her because they were in the presence of Cinderella. And I’m not talking about the boutique staff. I mean throughout the park. She was called “princess” and characters even yelled to her off of their parade float to say hi. It was amazing.

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 I should mention how nice it was having an early appointment at Magic Kingdom. The park normally opened at 9am that day but we were able to get into the park at 8am and take some really nice pictures in front of the castle without the masses of people that are normally walking around during the open hours. Next time we go to Disney, we plan on having at least 1 day with breakfast reservations in the park so that we can get in early again.

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We ate lunch and dinner on two separate days at the Be Our Guest restaurant. We originally had a reservation for dinner but ended up getting an email allowing some people to make a fast pass for lunch {something new they were trying this year, I guess}. Both experiences had their values, but the dinner was my favorite. Mostly because I was able to have a glass of wine, or two, with dinner {it was the only place that you can drink alcohol at Magic Kingdom} but also, because we got to meet the Beast! 

 

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I just have to add here that as much as we bring our own food to Disney to save money, it’s so nice that we don’t have to bring food in for fear of Madelyn having an allergic reaction while eating the park food. Every place we would go, the staff would show us the ingredient list and/or the chef would come out and explain what is and isn’t safe for Madelyn to eat. It’s such a huge relief that even though we carried her EpiPen with us everywhere, it’s nice to know that the chance is slim that we would have to use it. 

 

The kids loved meeting all of their favorite characters while we were at Magic Kingdom. Although, Asher was still a bit hesitant at times. 

 

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On our last day at magic Kingdom, Madelyn and I ran across a dance party by the castle on our way over to Space Mountain. It was wonderful. I quickly washed the chocolate ice cream off of Madelyn’s face and she hopped out of the stroller to be a part of this. 

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 Even Mr. Incredible wanted a dance with Snow White.

 

We had such a wonderful time this year. 

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Our last moments at Magic Kingdom were spent taking a ride on the carousel.  

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Before this princess fell asleep on our last night a Disney World, she watched the amazing fireworks from our balcony. Mesmerized. 

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Our Summer Vacation {part 1}

We’ve needed this trip. We’ve earned it, actually. I planned on having a relaxing summer, which would start out with a coffee and waking the kids so that we could spend the whole day outside. We’d go to the park, the city pool, or just hang outside in our little pool or sprinkler. But, our summer was far from it. Instead, we spent the majority of the summer working on that awesome looking kitchen from my last post. Not that it wasn’t worth it or anything, but since it took up a lot of our time, I wasn’t able to have the relaxing summer that I had longed for after the long winter we had.

We did do a few things, like go to the zoo, and we filled up the pool a few times and threw out the slip and slide. But, during those times we (Dave and I) didn’t relax. It was mainly to distract the kids so that we could paint trim, pull weeds, or do the hundred other things that were on our list to do. I think I managed to put on my bathing suit once or twice this summer. There just wasn’t enough hours in the day.

At first, I wasn’t really looking forward to this trip. First off, we were going to Florida in summer. This trip didn’t make much sense from the start. But, our summer in Wisconsin wasn’t as hot as it normally was so this ended up being not a bad idea. It will be nice to not turn the heat on in the car during the morning hours. Secondly, 22 hours worth of driving with two kids is never my idea of a good time. Last year we made the drive in two days and they were two very long days. You can see my hesitance. But after all the work this summer, I knew we needed it. We decided to make the drive in three days and to stop to do some hiking at a Civil War battlefield and explore a little bit of TN.

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Here, we made a stop in Nashville after a long day of driving to Third Man Records where Madelyn and Asher made a record in the Voice-O-Graph. They were really excited about it. But, now we need to by a record player so that we can hear their beautiful singing. Thankfully, we arrived before it was dark since this place isn’t exactly in the good part of downtown Nashville. Or at least it didn’t seem like it with the bottles of Colt 44 scattered on the street, the shards of glass on the sidewalk, the 50 gallon drum in the middle of an unused lot, and the bars on the windows of the buildings we passed by. But, maybe I was over reacting….

The next day, we headed out for a Civil War battlefield hike and a trip to Lynchburg for some Jack Daniels souvenirs. We planned on doing a 5 mile hike in the northern part of Georgia, but there was some bad weather on the way, so we choose to do a 3 mi hike in TN. Thank heavens we did a 3 mi hike, because one we passed about 100ft, the kids were whining about how l o n g this hike was and how h o t it is outside. Lets just say that Dave and I tried to sprint through this hike just to be done. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any ghost encounters and no orbs were noticed on our pictures. Darn. But, Madelyn did become a junior ranger, so I guess that makes it all worth it. :)

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Lynchburg was pretty neat and we had the BEST, and I mean the absolute best barbecue sandwich on the face of this planet. This place looks like a dive, but Dave insisted that we go. I’m so glad that we did. If you ever head over to Lynchburg, you must stop at Barrel House BBQ, you won’t be disappointed. They will even invite the kids to some free “putt-putt”. I had to explain to Madelyn that “putt-putt” was miniature golf. She was so confused.

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On to Florida! After a long drive, we stopped at my aunt and uncles’ house in around Tampa for a couple of days. We had so much fun swimming in the pool and just hanging out with family that we don’t get to see often. {thanks Wally for letting Asher borrow Kyle’s floaties:)}

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After our family visit, we headed to Redington Beach for a few days in the waves.

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We jumped waves. We ran away from waves. We accidentally drank the ocean water. We got said salt water in our eyes. We swam. We built sand castles. We collected seashells. We drank wonderful mojitos on the beach. We chased lizards in hopes of catching them. We relaxed. We got burned even with our reapplication of our SPF 50 sunscreen, which I learned was not a high enough SPF (so we got new sunscreen and wore shirts the next day).

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We loved every minute of each other’s company. It was the perfect beginning to the vacation.

Since this post is getting a bit long, I’ll write a part 2, which is all about the Disney part of the trip. Hopefully, you guys aren’t sick of reading all of this and looking at all these picture because I have more to share!!!