Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Joy to the world,
The LORD has come,
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart, prepare him room
And Heaven and nature sing!

Merry Christmas and many New Years blessings,
Jacob, Kristen, and Avery Terkelsen

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Disney Day 5 and 6

Sorry for the moment of pause with the Disney recap....our little family has successfully passed a stomach bug around and now I've got an upper respiratory infection.  And not to mention non stop working and such.  Whew.  I'm glad to have a moment to sit down and type...even if it is with a box of kleenex and nose spray as my typing companions.

Anyhoo.  Day 5 started with a trip to Animal Kingdom.

Now.  Hate me if you must, but I'm just not that huge of a fan of Animal Kingdom.  We only spent the better part of a half a day there.  I just felt like I was at the zoo....and I can go to the zoo at home.  Avery is in a stage where "aminals" are the bees knees so she had a blast- which is all that mattered.  We had fast passes for the safari, Finding Nemo on-stage, and Expedition Everest.  All were great choices.  The safari was a lot shorter than I remembered from 10 years ago, but still really entertaining.  My brother did make a name for himself on the bus, however.  We were driving by the pride of Lions and he busts out with the introduction song for the Lion know the one... "NAAAAAAAAAASEEEEBEEEEENNNNYEEEAAAAHHHH".  The bus driver stopped the bus and said, "There's one on every bus."  I was in tears laughing so hard.

A somewhat artsy shot...elephant, reflecting pool, you get it.

The Finding Nemo show was something straight off of Broadway.  It was awesome.  About 5 minutes in you forget you are watching people act with puppets on stage and all you see is the character.  It was awesome.  Avery even got into it and started saying, "Nemo!  Nemo!".

After the show, mom and dad took Avery back to the room for her nap while the big kids rode Expedition Everest.  It was awesome.  I somewhat expected the backwards part to last longer (they didn't consult me for ride design, obviously) but other than that it was worth the 2 minute wait via Fast Pass.  After we rode this, I started feeling a little off.  Like exhausted met motion sick met hungry met off.  Everyone was kinda over Animal Kingdom at this point and we elected to meet mom and dad back at the hotel to regroup for the afternoon.

On Expedition Everest

After obligatory nap times we chose to go back to Hollywood Studios to see the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  It's like the best neighborhood you know of at Christmas time (lights, etc.) but on super doses of steroids.   So naturally I'm in heaven.  Christmas.  Lights.  Music.  The whole 9 yards.  Avery wasn't quite sure what to make of it but she pointed at various aspects of the display and said, "Yites!  Yites!  Hi yites!"

The original 4.

After hanging out with more lights than we've ever seen ever, we decided to head back to the hotel and get ready for Day 6- return to the Magic Kingdom.  EEEK!  :)

Day 6: Magic Kingdom (MK)

We somewhat slept much as Avery would let us.  I wish I had an internal clock as spot on as hers.  We got back to MK and had Fast Passes to meet Ariel, ride Journey to the Little Mermaid, and Enchanted Tales with Belle.  

Another one of the Warren favorite attractions is the Enchated Tiki Room.  Believe me, if you want to get a song stuck in your head other than It's A Small World, the Tiki tiki tiki tiki room song is the song for you.  We got in line to get seated and waited about 5 minutes for the door to open into the theatre.  We got our seats, started pointing out the different birds to Avery, and then were promptly told that the lead bird had "lost his voice"....AKA- it was somehow broken.  So, as soon as we sat down, we were up and leaving.  I seriously thought it was a joke- as did everyone else.  Just outside of the Tiki Room are the Flying Magic Carpets from Aladin.  It's the same thing as Dumbo...but just with Magic Carpets.  Originally these were supposed to be closed for refurbishment during our 7 day visit but they finished it a couple of days early.  Jackpot.

"I can show you the world...."

After flying around in a circle, we tried to back to the Tiki Room but the birds still had laryngitis.  Boo.  Hiss. 

Off to meet Ariel in her grotto.  Again, if I've said it once, I'll say it 5 more times.  Use your Fast Passes to meet characters if at all possible.  Avery FREAKED OUT (in the best way possible) from excitement when we got into the room where she could see Ariel.  She literally screamed, "ARIEL!".  Precious.  The poor kid didn't know what to do with herself when I sat her down next to Ariel.  Her eyes were as big as saucers.  Ariel grabbed Avery's hands to hold them and all Avery could do was stare at her hands being held by Ariel.  I could almost hear the internal dialogue of, "Oh my gosh she's real.  Oh my gosh she's real" going on in Avery's little mind.  It was precious.  Jacob and I finally sat down with her and Ariel and we got a smiling picture.

Here's an insider tip for you- if you want to meet Belle in her yellow ball gown, this is the best place to do it.  When you are with her at Epcot, she's typically in her blue dress from the beginning of the movie, and, on the day we saw her at Epcot, she had on a massive cape that covered the dress because it was cold.  I know that she will have on the yellow dress at Character dinners, but this is the cheapest way to see her the way that most people know her.  The key is to get a part in the "play".  My brother and I both lucked out and got parts in the play.  He was a knight and I was the singing wardrobe.  Appropriate.  2 things I love...singing....and a wardrobe.  If you get a part in the play, you get to have your picture taken with her at the end of the show.  I had Avery run up to me right before it was my turn so she could see Belle too.  It worked like a charm. 

Nap time came quickly after we met Belle.  While Avery was resting, the big kids went and got a Dole Whip.  Yum.  Yes.  Yum.

....and then got suckered into walking up about 5849q54030826 (yes, q, it's a new numerical notation) steps to walk around the Swiss Family Robinson tree house.

I had a few things on my list that I needed, yes needed, to get while we were at MK.  One of them was Avery's first pair of Mickey ears.  Jeremy and Valerie also got ears for their wedding in February.  Aren't they cute?!

Avery's first Mickey ears!

Jacob and I got some alone time in the park after we picked up Avery's Mickey ears.  We went to go ride It's A Small World and The Haunted Mansion again.  

Avery, Gigi, and Granddad met us back at the park at this point.  We had changed out some of our Fast Passes to ride the race cars in Tomorrowland.  While waiting on them to return, Jacob and I got a chance to just sit for a few minutes in one of the restaurants in Tomorrowland.  One of the ladies was washing the windows right next to where we were sitting.  Let me tell you, I'll be washing my windows this way from now on.

That would be Cinderella's Castle- complete with fireworks- out of window cleaner.  Yes and amen.

Avery and her Granddad on Main Street after nap time.

Trying on sparkling Minnie Mouse ears

Avery got to ride with Granddad on the Tomorrowland Speedway!

We all survived!  It's a wonder I passed a driving test!

Our day at MK came to a close and we headed back to the hotel...dreading what the last day meant.  It would be our last full day at Disney World...but we would be spending it at Magic Kingdom.  :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Disney Day 4

EPCOT has historically been my Dad's favorite park.  Lots of things for bigger kids to do there.  Where else can you travel the world and only walk a little over a mile??  Just like in MK with "People Movers" there's a ride in EPCOT that we always ride more than once- "Spaceship Earth".  It's the ride that is in the big ball that EPCOT is known for.  There's also a great attraction called "The Seas with Finding Nemo and Friends" which Avery absolutely went crazy over.  Literally.  Running in circles crazy.  Of course we went to see Figment.  Avery went running in circle crazy over this attraction to.

Love this place.  Just love it.

The Seas with Finding Nemo

Mesmerized by all of the fish...and the divers.  There are giant tanks in the attraction where you can scuba dive if you have your certification.  There were a handful of divers in the tank and they would come up to the window and wave at you, make crazy faces, or bring a sting ray up to the window to see.  It was awesome.

Where else can you crawl in a giant, smiling shark mouth and get your picture taken? :)

My brother and I have this same picture from 10 years ago.  Every time we go to EPCOT we will have this picture done. 

Avery and I on Spaceship Earth.  She wasn't quite sure what to think about it but I'm pretty sure she enjoyed it.

After getting off Spaceship Earth, we ran into a short line to meet Chip and Dale.  Avery did awesome with these guys.  She's obsessed with noses.  Like grabs them.  Like grabs them so much I was afraid she was going to behead a Disney character and we were going to a) ruin the Disney magic for ourselves and others or -b) traumatize Avery in such a way years and years of counseling would be in our future.  Moral of the story- Avery is into noses.  If you're around her, guard your nose.

Again with the meal plan.  Holy cow. We didn't eat a horrible thing all week.  #struggleisreal

After lunch Jacob took Avery back to the hotel for her nap and let my mom and dad stay at the park since it's dad's favorite.  I stayed with them and we went to venture around The World Showcase.  

Admiring all of the teapots in England.  I appreciated all of the authentic European food/snacks they had for sale in the shops in this section.  Took me back to my incredible trip to London earlier in the summer.

I ran into Sleeping Beauty in France.  She said she knew a princess when she saw one.  Homegirl is spot on.

Avery and Jacob returned in time for our FastPass to meet Mickey, Minnie, and Goofy.  Piece of advise- if you're going to Disney with young ones, use your fast passes for character meet/greets if at all possible.  I understand this is totally dependent on when you go to Disney but I will also tell you that Avery had a hard time waiting in line for more than about 5 minutes without getting upset.  No one wants a picture with Mickey with tears running down their face.  The fast passes saved us because the longest we waited to see a character was 5 minutes- tops.

We got photobombed by Goofy.

We decided after seeing our favorite characters we would head back to ride the Monorail to MK.  On our way out, my brother snapped this candid photo.  This is how Avery preferred to ride in her stroller:
...holding both of our hands.  She would say, "hands, hands". 

Right outside the gates we stumbled upon a short line to meet Pluto.  Let it be known that Pluto is one of my personal favorites.  I remember last time we were at Disney World (like 10 years ago), we met Pluto at Hollywood Studios and I told him that he was my favorite.  He then proceeded to take my hand and walk off with me.  It was hilarious.

After dinner at MK, my dad, brother, and Valerie (Jeremy's fiance) rode the Monorail back to EPCOT to see Illuminations.  We had preferred viewing for Illuminations and it did not disappoint.  I'm also sure that my hearing was damaged by how loud everything was.  It was probably for the best that Avery went back to the hotel with Jacob and my mom.  It would have scared her for sure.  

We struggled back to the bus bay to make it back home to the hotel.  This was the only day that I walked myself into a blister on the bottom of my foot.  We was tired.  Tired I well you.  We made it back just short of crawling and went to bed only to get up and go for it again early the next morning.  Up next:  Animal Kingdom

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Disney Day 3

After finishing up our night at MK, we went back to the hotel and got ready for the next morning's adventures.  We stayed in a family suite that ended up working out pretty well, all things considered.  It had 2 full bathrooms in it (because hello- imagine sharing a bathroom with 5 other adults in the morning....) as well as a separate bedroom which was super convenient for Avery's crib.

Day 3: Hollywood Studios (HS)

Historically HS (previously and forever known to me as MGM) has been a personal favorite although nothing can top MK.  There's just something about old Hollywood that intrigues me.  Probably the glitz and glamour of it all.  Where else (besides Hollywood) can you go have lunch at the Brown Derby?  HS.  That's where.  :)

HS is also home to a huge Disney Junior section of awesomeness. Avery is currently quite intrigued with Doc McStuffins.  Come to think of it, she's been into Doc McStuffins for nearly a year now.  She can name you all of the characters and will "help" sing the introduction song if you'll let her.  We always let her.

On our way to the Disney Junior Live Onstage show, we happened upon Donald and Daisy Duck!  One of the perks of getting to the park when it opens is being able to meet some of the characters and not have their lines very long.  Donald and Daisy were a prime example of this.  It only took us about 10 minutes to meet and stand in line to see both of them.

Donald expressing how much he loves Avery. 

After meeting Donald and Daisy the Disney Junior Live Onstage show.  It was too cute beyond words.  The 4 most popular shows on Disney Junior were a part of the show via puppets.  Avery just about lost her mind when Doc and friends showed up on the stage.

She wasn't excited.  At all.  ;)

Again, the show was super cute. Avery loved it, we all did actually.  The only complaint I have about it was that we all had to sit on the floor.  No big deal for toddlers, sort of big deal for bigger kids (read: adults).  We aren't as young and spry as we used to be.  

After the show we went straight out of the doors and got in line to meet Princess Sophia from Sophia the First.  Avery has recently discovered Sophia the First and has quickly become smitten.  She kept pointing at her in line and saying, "Sophia, luh-yoooou".  Melt me.

We left Sophia to tend to her royal duties and went to our next scheduled item for the day, The Voyage of the Little Mermaid show.  Again, Ariel is one of Avery's personal favorites so she was mesmerized by seeing Ariel on stage.  The theatre was really dark so you're just going to have to take my word for how precious the whole thing was.   

After seeing Ariel it was time for lunch and then Avery's nap.  Let me take a moment and explain to you how awesome it was having a meal plan while at Disney.  As part of our vacation package, Disney added in a meal plan for free.  It was worth every free penny it cost.  We never had the same thing twice unless we absolutely wanted it....and some things were worth having twice.  Avery was still young enough that she didn't need a meal plan (or a park ticket for that matter) so she just ate off of our plates.  Some days we splurged and got her a kids meal (for a whopping $6) which included a number of good options for the kiddos like grapes, yogurt, turkey sandwiches or wraps, etc.  Again, meal plan is totally worth it.  I highly recommend going to Disney during a promotion time and taking full advantage of the free meal plan if its being offered.

I got a text not too long after we got off The Great Movie Ride following our lunch from my mom with a picture of Avery passed out in her stroller.  Apparently seeing Doc, Donald, Daisy, and Sophia is completely exhausting.  The big kids took full advantage of being baby-less and rode the roller coasters in the park.  Rockin' Roller Coaster was calling my name.  I chickened out last time we were in Disney and didn't ride it, but this time I was NOT going to let that happen.  For those of you not familiar with this particular ride, it's a roller coaster completely in the dark and launches you from 0-60 in like a blink of an eye.  The worst part of it was waiting to get on the dang thing.  The load you in the car (Jacob and I lucked out and got in the first row) and then pull you forward to sit and wait for like an eternity.  I immediately started screaming, "I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scare..." BOOM! Breath knocked out of me and now we are flying through this thing going 60 mph.  I'll let the official ride picture speak for itself....

Yep.  Like covering my eyes was going to do anything to soothe me in that moment.  Yeah right.  I'm typing to you today as a survivor.  I survived the Rockin' Roller Coaster.

After that little escapade we decided to keep it low key and go to attractions that didn't necessarily involve going from 0-60 in the blink of an eye.  The big kids went to see Muppets Vision 3D.  50% of us (*cough* Valerie and I *cough*) did or did not fall asleep in the middle of it.....  I'll admit it, I did.  Something about waking up at 4am 2 days prior to that and then walking 384716837 miles the day before had us all exhausted.  So yes, I fell asleep in the Muppets 3D only to awake to see this dude staring me in the face.  In real life.  Not on the screen.  Thankfully I we made a potty stop prior to this know.  It would have been a mess.
Note to self- if even feeling remotely exhausted and you choose to go to Muppets Vision 3D, don't sit on the front row and fall asleep.  You'll wake up in a nightmare.

Not too long after this, mom called and said that Avery and Granddad were still asleep and to just keep going without them for a while.  Our next FastPass was about an hour away and they weren't sure they were going to make it back in enough time.  No big deal.  We could find something to do- easy.  We wandered over into the back part of HS where all of the Toy Story things are.  The wait to meet Buzz and Woody wasn't but just 20 minutes, so that definitely happened.

Keeping ourselves entertained was easy.

Not sure what Woody was looking out...maybe Bo Peep walked by or something. 

Up next....Day 4: EPCOT

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