Archive for the ‘Summer Activities’ Category

Practice Week 2013

So if you have read my blog before, you will know that this isn’t the first time I have written about this subject. If you haven’t read my blogs, then allow me to explain….

Ever since I was in high school, I would use the week before school started to sort of condition myself for the early mornings of going back to school.  I would (try really hard) to go to bed on time and wake up at my normal school time.  Since then I have been practicing this method with my children since my oldest started Kindergarten. It not only allowed us to practice (and get used to) getting up early but also to make sure we labeled everything, made our lunch list, bought our lunches and had our uniforms cleaned and ironed.

So, HEAR YE, HEAR YE, I hereby declare August 5th the official start of…. Practice Week!

This year is a little different, because my baby is starting Kindergarten. For the first time, both of my girls will be going to the same school! So we are on double practice duty this week.  And honestly we are going to struggle a little this week. There are still some end of summer events. For instance, Malia’s soccer training camp is this week Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 6:30-8:00PM. So making sure everyone is in bed at 8:30 will be a little difficult, but they will still be getting to bed earlier than they have. AND we really need to get up at 6:00am, however I’m getting them up at 7:00am; still a struggle…. One day last week, Malia didn’t get out of bed until 10:45!!

So in addition to our practicing waking up and going to bed on time, we will also be getting our backpacks ready and labeled, school clothes ironed, make a lunch list, etc.  This will be a great practice week, because I think the girls are truly excited to get back to school. Me, well, I’m just excited to get back to a routine!!

If you haven’t read my previous years “Practice Week” articles,  you can find them here:

Back to School already… where did the summer go?

I declare this “Practice Week”

Its that time of year again….


Just for a Monday Laugh, here is that scene from Billy Madison:

Orlando Staycation Part 2: Dining

Hopefully you read Part 1 of my Orlando Staycation series. If not, I’ll catch you up real fast.

This summer we decided to do a staycation at Walt Disney World for my daughters 9th birthday. We stayed 5 days 4 nights at Buena Vista Palace, a resort across the street from Downtown Disney.

In this blog, I’ll be talking about all our dining experiences from eating at the hotel, room service, Downtown Disney restaurants and eating at the theme parks.

Now with two kids, I tend to overpack. For this trip we went out and bought some snacks and drinks for the hotel room. Publix had some buy one get one free deals so we took full advantage of that. Here is our little grocery list of items we took to the hotel:
– Water bottles
– Little soda cans (Sprite zero and coke zero)
– Juice boxes
– Little muffins
– Oranges
– Doritos and cool ranch
– Granola bars
– yogurts

The hotel had a little fridge in there. I figured if we could at least have breakfast BEFORE we went to the parks that would save some money.

When we checked in on Wednesday, we had planned on going to Magic Kingdom and eating dinner there. Each of their restaurants have some kind of theme and offer different menu items. There is a pizza restaurant called Pinocchio’s Village Haus that overlooks the guests getting on the Its A Small World ride. We like going there because they have pasta, pizza and salads.

Since we weren’t leaving to go to Magic Kingdom until 6:30 we all had a snack in our room knowing we weren’t going to eat until later. Once we got to the park the girls decided they wanted to do Pirates of the Caribbean and Thunder Mountain Railroad. Both waits were not too long when we started, however, Pirates had a malfunction and we ended up waiting about 20 minutes in line longer than the estimated wait time of 20 minutes. Thunder Mountain Railroad wait was 30 minutes (that’s the least we have seen in forever), however, they got a giant crowd of Fast Passers and our line leader let them all go through instead of doing half and half. We ended up waiting an hour to get on that ride.

With that said, by the time we figured it was time for dinner (around 8:45) we were stuck in Frontier Land. Note to everyone out there, when that Parade starts wherever you are is pretty much where you will be until it is over. The parade started at 9. There was one place in Frontier land but my little picky eaters did not want to eat there. So we figured we would wait it out until we go to Pinocchio’s Village.

Once the parade was over we hiked it over there only to find that the restaurant closed at 9pm. Most of the restaurants inside the park close at 9pm and most of the carts are already broken down.  Some sit down restaurants serve until the park closes but you can’t get in there unless you have a reservation. There were some quick service places open on Main Street, however, everyone in the park that was hungry at that time was there and the line was so ridiculous.

We decided to head back to the hotel and either get room service or see if the Kooks Family Sports Bar was still open.  Once we got back, we looked at the room service menu. They had a summer special that was 2 medium 2 topping pizzas, with drinks for $19.99. We decided to do that. Ordering in the room was fast and easy and by 11:10pm we had our dinner. Needless to say there was not much left of those pizzas.

Because of the dining disaster on Wednesday night, I wanted to make sure that we had plenty of time to eat on Thursday. The original plan was to go to Hollywood Studios and have lunch there and then have an early dinner at the T-Rex cafe at Downtown Disney and then see the fireworks at Epcot. Most of that happened except the fireworks. Weather was horrible :(

We all ordered some chicken nuggets from the BackLot Express, which is located right next to Star Tours. I made the girls eat around 11:15 BEFORE the lunch rush and since we were planning on eating dinner early. The food was OK, can’t expect much from chicken tenders.

For dinner that night we went to the T-Rex restaurant in Downtown Disney.  That was a fun experience. If you’ve ever been to a Rainforest Cafe’ it is owned by the same company and almost the same concept except with Dinosaurs. We were sat in the Ocean room and had several aquariums within our view.  Every 20 minutes they have a meteor shower where the thunder rumbles, meteors start falling and the lights start to flicker. The dinosaurs come to life and roar and growl.  The food can be pricey so if you are staying at a Downtown Disney hotel, check the book they give you at Check-in. Most times they will have coupons in there. We had a 15% off coupon that we used.  Kaili had Macaroni and cheese, Malia had pasta alfredo and I had a cheeseburger and a Sam Adams Oktoberfest! Our dinner was very good and a great experience.

For Friday evening, We had decided to celebrate Malia’s birthday. Since she loves STEAK and we happened to have a steak restaurant in our hotel, we made reservations there. Its called the Outback (but is not the chain restaurant). My husband and I have had dinner there several times and haven’t had a bad experience…yet.  Remember to check your coupons if you are staying on property or close by. Even though we had 1 free kids meals, I also had a coupon for 15% off the entire bill. We figured the 15% off would outweigh the free $8.99 kids meal, so we used that coupon.  For appetizer, we had sizzling bacon with root beer glaze. It was good, the cut of bacon was a lot bigger than I thought it would be.  Malia had a kids portion of prime rib, I had the prime rib and my husband had a bone in ribeye.  His ribeye was very chewy and my prime rib was over cooked and very dry. Again, this was the first time we were not happy with our meal. Most of the time they have been spot on!

Saturday we hit the parks early, first stopping at Hollywood Studios and then onward to Animal Kingdom.We felt we should eat lunch early before the real lunch crowd. So before we got too far into Animal Kingdom we stopped for lunch at the Rainforest Cafe.  It’s very consistent and everything was great! Tom and I both had salads and Malia had a cheeseburger. Can’t screw those up too much :)

For dinner, we didn’t really know what we wanted to do. We got back to the hotel around 4:30 with the intention of going to the pool but it started to storm.  When we decided that it was Saturday night and would be crazy, we got ready for dinner. Since it was still drizzling we decided to use our hotel coupon for the Kooks Family Sports Bar. This place is fun. They have TV’s set up all around the restaurant with high tops, lounge chairs and bar stools. Upstairs they have a Wii and X Box setup for FREE play. There is also darts, Foosball, air hockey and several other arcade games.  We found a spot and got a couple of drinks and looked at the menu. As the name of the restaurant says it was all bar food. I wasn’t too interested in eating that for dinner so we decided to get a few appetizers now and then walk to Downtown Disney for dinner later (hoping the mad dinner rush was gone).  We got some chicken tenders and a triple play; wings, mozzarella sticks and jalapeno poppers.  It was good and filled us up.

For our actual dinner we ended up ordering some late night pizza back in our room since no one was hungry for dinner after walking around Downtown Disney.  Room service is great though, and you don’t have to go anywhere! We found Harry Potter on TV and ate some Pizza. Malia said it was a perfect ending to her Maliapalooza!

Orlando Staycation Part 1: The Hotel

Recently we became tourists in our own town of Orlando. If you have read some of my previous posts you will notice that 1. We have season passes to Walt Disney World and 2. We recently celebrated not one but TWO aplooza’s.

For Maliapalooza she decided she wanted to do a weekend at Disney. Since it takes a small mortgage to stay on property at Disney, we always stay at a hotel in Lake Buena Vista right across the street from Downtown Disney, called the Buena Vista Palace. Its a nice hotel and close to all the attractions and most importantly very reasonably priced. Our room rate was $119 for a Downtown Disney view. You can pay just $10 more and get what they call a Fireworks View. We have stayed there before and at 9 o’clock on the dot you can see fireworks from Epcot AND the Magic Kingdom. It is really cool. I decided not to get that room this time since one of our objectives was to see the fireworks actually at the park. So I figured we wouldn’t even be in the room at that time, why spend the extra $10.

Our trip was to be for Friday and Saturday night, however, upon research with prices, Buena Vista Palace was offering a summer special. If you stayed 3 consecutive nights you would get the 4th night FREE. I had used a similar program for one of their sister hotels in Sanibel and it was a very reasonable deal. With this special the kids ate free at all the hotel restaurants plus you got 20% off any services at the spa. I will talk more about our dining in Part 2.

I decided this would be a nice little time away from home. So I booked the four night stay. We decided that the girls and I would head out on Wednesday and stay until Friday. On Friday we would trade daddy for Kaili and start Maliapalooza.

Upon arriving at the hotel I decided to do the Valet parking. The hotel area is really big and I knew that the girls and I would be coming back late from the theme parks. I didn’t want us to be walking across the parking lots alone that late so that is why I chose to do the Valet Parking. They were really nice and considerate there. Once we got there I told them that we after we checked in we would be leaving to go to the park, so they said they would keep my car up front. When I came right out the gentleman walked me right to my car and handed me the keys.

***Sidenote- The hotel does offer shuttle service to the theme parks, HOWEVER, the shuttle picks up and drops off at ALL of the Lake Buena Vista hotels causing the trip to be longer than expected. Since we have the season passes we get free parking at the theme parks, so it makes more sense for us to drive than to take the shuttle.

Our room was located on the 21st floor and we could overlook all of Downtown disney and the pool! It was so cool to see Downtown Disney and how small it all really looked.

One of the favorite things that my kids liked was the pool. They had two plus a kiddie pool. At the time of our stay one of the pools was closed, but that didn’t stop us from having a good time. The pool we were in, was so big. It had a waterfall and part of the pool was under cover. The kids thought that was a great feature.

All in all the hotel was great and we had a great time. We will definitely be planning another trip there soon.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of my Orlando Staycation trip: Eating out.

Orlando’s Red Hot and Boom

Published by admin on July 11th, 2012 - in Mommy Stories, Summer Activities

This year my sister in law invited our family to watch the fireworks from her Penthouse apartment in the Emerson Plaza. Her balconly directly overlooks the lake at Cranes Roost.  From there we could hear all the music, see all the behind the scense and most importantly; enjoy it from the comfort of air conditioning.

We arrived around 5pm and had to show our passes to 3 cops before we would even be allowed to park our car.  Once we were in, we knew we were there for the long haul.  At one point we were outside enjoying the musics when a giant rain cloud appeared and started raining, thundering and lighting. Lucky for us we were able to just walk inside and still enjoy our evening.  There was clearly a vendor down below selling blue ponchos because at that point the crowd turned a plastic-y blue.

Around 9:35 they started the fireworks.  Since I have a 3 year old, my sister in law warned me that being at or almost the same level with the fireworks they could get very loud.  I prepared Kaili for the noise, but she was in firework heaven.

It wasn’t until almost the end when she decided that she was a little afraid and asked to go inside. This time her and I went right in the sliding glass doors and sat on the floor and was still able to see all the fireworks.

It was such an amazing show! Once again, Red Hot and Boom has totally outdone themselves.

Sam the Ikea Dog

Published by admin on June 27th, 2012 - in Mommy Stories, Summer Activities

So for the past 4 days Tropical Storm Debby has put a big ole damper on Central Florida, causing all outside activities to come to a halt.  Fortunately for us, this gave us the motivation to put together the garage sale (that we’ve been planning for sometime) and to make some changes around the house. Basically starting Sunday we have just been working on the house. Changing out fan light kits, moving furniture, cleaning out closets, etc.

Well since we have about 90% completed we decided that a trip to Ikea was in order! We needed items such as laundry hampers, organization items, desk accessories, OH AND A DAMN STUFFED DOG. Yup you read that right. A giant stuffed dog.  Now I couldn’t dare think about buying it. Malia, my oldest, found the dog in some random bin (my thought is the kid wanted it, the mom said no and they dumped it). Alright so yes it was already an abandoned dog :(  Malia started carrying it around and asking me if we could get it. I kept my foot down and said NO. She begged and pleaded and just wouldn’t stop.  She even tried bribing me with “Mom, what is the one thing you want me to accomplish this summer?” I said “Why so you can bribe me???” She just smiled….

So finally after about 30 minutes of begging and telling me that her and her sister Kaili would ‘share’ the dog, she had convinced me to get it; with several provisions:

1. She would write more Book Reviews (for her website, she always knows this is the way to get me)

2. Her and her sister would share the dog (they already had a joint custody arrangement worked out)

3. They would KEEP their rooms CLEAN for the rest of the summer (since we just cleaned out everything!).

So YES we have a stuffed dog from Ikea named Sam.  I am more concerned about how the whole joint custody thing is going to work out.  I guess I will keep you posted…..

Oh and how can you resist that face? That was what I was told anyway…….

UPDATE as of July 16th

Surprisingly, there has not been ONE fight over Sam. They are both so good about taking care of him and they have their own schedule down. Last night Kaili had Sam and the night before Malia had him. One time, Malia even said YES when Kaili asked if she could sleep with Sam for two nights in a row. Amazing….. Hopefully this amicable joint custody holds up. LOL

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