Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I'm in the middle, dressed as Annie
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. When I was a kid, there was nothing better than getting dressed up and going trick or treating. I never outgrew loving costumes though as I got older I started enjoying the spookier parts of Halloween, like horror films.

Tonight we’ll be taking Emily out trick or treating at the mall. She’ll be dressed up as Sophia the First and I’ll be wearing my American McGee’s Alice costume. Once she’s in bed, Todd and I will probably watch a scary movie.

I hope everyone has a safe and spooky Halloween!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Disney Trip 2013 - Magic Kingdom Part 1

This is the third post of my Disney Trip report – click for post #1 and post #2!

Magic Kingdom has always been my favorite park. I also think it’s the most magical park since it’s the one with the giant castle in the middle of it. Because the trip was for Emily’s birthday, I wanted to do something really special for her. I gave her some options and she picked getting turned into a princess at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. My travel agent scored us an 8 am appointment on a day that the Magic Kingdom didn’t open until 9! So both Emily and I were really looking forward to this day.

We got up early because we had wanted to get to the buses by 7 am. The dresses at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique are very expensive so I had gotten Emily a Sophia the First dress before we had left home. She was very excited and very awake due to a
good night’s sleep.

We didn’t have to wait too long for a bus and we were on our way to the Magic Kingdom. It was a little bit of a walk to get to the front of the park and then we took the walk down Main Street. The park was very empty since the only people allowed in were people with reservations. It was getting close to eight so we just made our way to the castle. I got very teary eyed as Emily saw the castle for the first time. I had been waiting for that moment for years!

Once we were in the castle and at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, it didn’t take too long for Emily to be assigned a fairy godmother-in-training (FGIT) to do her hair. She picked the hairstyle that was a bun because it was the one that came with a crown.

I was concerned that her hair wasn’t going to be long enough and that she’d want to take it out right away. Luckily I was wrong on both counts. The FGIT teased her hair and was able to get it into the bun. While she was working on the back of it, another FGIT came over to do her makeup. Finally a crown was put in her hair and a Mickey head barrette in the back. Then came the glitter. Lots and lots of glitter hairspray in her hair.

She was so excited to see herself in the mirror once she was done. It was only about 8:30 when we were all finished. Since the park didn’t actually open until 9 we had some time to kill. Luckily there was a gift shop right behind the castle that was open. They did have photopass photographers there, but Emily didn’t want to get her picture taken. She wanted to look at the toys. She spotted an Ariel / Eric dress up toy like the Minnie Mouse one she bought the day before and she just had to have it.

Once we were done in the store, we just waited by the rope and looked out at Fantasyland. I went to the front of the castle to see about taking some pictures but then I heard the music start up. I hurried back to Todd and Emily, and a few minutes later we were on our way.

An aside here, planning and knowledge is really helpful when you go to Disney World. There is so much to see and do, plus some rides / shows fill up really fast. Even though we used a travel agent, I like reading up on Disney World. So I knew some things that really helped make our trip go smoother.

Because I had read up on all things Disney, I knew that we should head to Enchanted Tales With Belle first thing. I’d heard that this attraction could get backed up with long wait times really fast. Since we were already in the middle of the part, we were one of the first people in line. It’s more of a little show than a ride, because the premise is that we are going to go
back in time to the day that Belle and Beast fall in love through a magical portal in Belle’s father’s cottage. We surprise Belle by acting out the story of how she and Beast first met.

Emily and I had watched the YouTube video of this attraction so we knew what to do. We were taken through the portal and into Beast’s castle. The cast member in charge helped the Wardrobe give parts to everyone. Todd was picked to be a knight and because of my lovely soprano voice I was picked to be the wardrobe. Emily wasn’t picked but was able to get a part and she was a dish. We did the story and then we all got our picture with Belle (I didn’t get mine on our camera and we weren’t using Photopass +).  I had to rush to the back of the room so I could get Emily’s picture with Belle.

From there, we went walked onto It’s A Small World and Dumbo. We also got to ride on the new Little Mermaid ride which was cool. Emily wanted to ride on the Tomorrowland Express, so Todd took her on that because I

had no desire to ride one of those little cars by myself. Apparently, Emily is not a very good driver and kept
crashing them into the walls.

For my Fastpass + selections, I opted to use them for meet and greets. Our first one was over at the Fairytale Hall to meet Snow White and Rapunzel. It was neat to touch our magic bands to the Mickey head and have it turn green. We had a very short wait before we were taken in to see the princesses.

I had arranged the Fastpass + so we had another one to meet the other pair of Princesses, Cinderella and Aurora. All the Princesses were really sweet, though my favorite (and Emily’s) was Rapunzel. After we finished with the princesses, we got some lunch.

Since we were still in Fantasyland, we went to Pinocchio Village Haus for lunch. I think I’ve eaten there every trip I’ve ever taken to Disney World. Emily was starting to hit that wall, so we decided to head back to our room. Emily napped, Todd vegged out and I took a swim. We headed back over to the Magic Kingdom in the late afternoon for more park time.

Up next post – Magic Kingdom Part 2!

Monday, October 28, 2013

The Day of Halloween Events

I love Halloween, I always have. Once my mom passed away, Halloween vaulted over Christmas to become my favorite holiday. Mom loved Christmas so now it’s really bittersweet for me.

When I was not a child but was single, Halloween did become a bit of a drag. I never had any Halloween parties to go to. When we moved into our house, I stayed home and handed out candy. We got maybe three kids each year.

Then I was blessed with my own October baby. She was two weeks old on her first Halloween so we didn’t do much that year. The first few years we would just go trick or treating, but the last few years have been filled with Halloween goodness. Last year, we went trick or treating twice and Emily had a Halloween themed birthday party.

This year we have done a lot more. We went to Disney World for her birthday and I went to the Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party by myself. Last week we went trick or treating with our church and last Saturday was two Halloween events.

I worked Saturday morning and then I started to get costumed up. Emily had requested I wear a costume but most of my costumes weren’t going to be warm enough. Todd had suggested I wear my Hogwarts student costume which is pretty warm. Emily was Periwinkle, though I put a layer of long sleeve shirt and pants underneath it.

The first event was the Fletcher Halloween Carnival. They had a bouncy castle, a bouncy slide, games and a costume contest. Emily bounced first then dragged me all over to play the games. When you won a game (which was pretty every time because the people running it let the kids play until they won) you got some candy. I didn’t think to bring a candy bucket, but luckily they were giving out little bags.

Emily also wanted to sign up for the costume contest. There were
lots of kids in costumes, but not a lot of other adults besides me. There was one four year old little girl dressed as what looked to be a Burlesque dancer, right down to the fishnets. I found that to be in poor taste, but the other kids were cute.

We played nearly all the games, Emily got her face painted like a kitty and she did a craft (a spooky necklace). Then it was time for the contest. Once she did her walk through, I didn’t make her stay over there. We did a few more games and then I let her do the bouncy castle one more time. At that point the carnival was over and they were shutting things down.

From there we headed over to Gerber Village in South Asheville. Gerber Village is just a shopping center but Todd had heard that they were doing a pumpkin wall. We weren’t sure what to expect, but when we got there we did see a pumpkin wall. They also had some games, a lady doing hula hooping (with extra hoops for the
kids) and there were snacks (popcorn and cider). We got there a little before five and they were just opening up.

We got a little treat bag when we came in since the games were giving out prizes. Emily played the games right off and then found the hula hoops. She hooped most of the time when we weren’t doing other things and she got pretty good at it.

Once the event really got going, they had a scavenger hunt where each kid got a prize at each station. They had a cake walk, which Emily was one of the winners. She got a prize bag and later a cupcake. Then there was a costume parade and then a costume contest which Emily participated in.

After she showed off her costume, she went back to hooping. Originally she had left her wings in the car, but got them back out for the contest. She was able to still hula hoop pretty well with her wings on. It was getting cold, though Emily kept saying she was fine (and she probably was because she was moving around a lot more than I was).

Finally it was the big moment and the lit up the great pumpkin wall. It was really cool to see, but I was sore, tired and cold at that point so we got out of there and headed home. I’m glad we went to both because Emily had a great time.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Disney Trip 2013 - Animal Kingdom

This is the second post of my Disney Trip report – click here for post #1.

When we were planning our trip, we decided to skip Epcot. We felt that Emily would enjoy Animal Kingdom more this time. Since both Todd and I feel that Animal Kingdom is a half day park, we thought it would be a good starting park.

We met my in-laws in the lobby at 8:30 so we could all ride to the Animal Kingdom together. Emily was a little grumpy; we don’t think she slept a lot on the drive down. But she looked adorable in her Alice costume.

The bus ride was short and we were soon at the Animal Kingdom. My mother-in-law and I went through bag check while Todd and his dad went to get the tickets. I had ordered the tickets from Disney’s website a few months before and it was really easy to pick them up.

Our entry into the Animal Kingdom was the first chance we got to use our Magic Bands as a park ticket. It was cool to see the Mickey head light up. We got our maps and headed toward the Kilimanjaro Safari. The wait was pretty short and soon we were seeing a lot of cool animals. Emily was very excited to get to see a
Waiting for Festival of the Lion King
baby giraffe.

After we were done with the Safari we were walking by the Festival of the Lion King. The first show was starting soon so we decided to all go do that. I’ve heard a lot of good things about this show but we never got a chance to see it on our honeymoon. It was an amazing show though! Definitely a must see from now on!

An aside here – we got Emily some Disney gift cards so she could have her own spending money. She wanted to get one thing when we got into the park and she picked a baby Simba stuffed animal.
We tried to keep her from going to hog wild because we knew she’d burn through her money fast that way.

Since we were already in Camp Minnie-Mickey, we decided to go see Donald Duck. Donald was awesome – he asked for Emily’s Simba and then he lifted Simba over his head like from the beginning of the Lion King. It was so funny!

From there, Emily was getting worn out already. So we stopped for a snack which was the Mickey bar that she had been talking about eating for months. It made quite the mess and ended up with a trip to the bathroom. Luckily she didn’t get a lot of it on her dress.

We headed over to Chester and Hester’s Dino-Rama in Dinoland so we could play in the Boneyard. Emily liked going down all the slides and wanted me to go down some slides too. In the process of going down the slide, I lost my phone. This lead to a freak out
but Todd went to talk to the cast members at the front of the play area and thankfully someone had turned it in.

From there we went to Triceratops Spin, which is basically a Dumbo clone with dinosaurs. Emily enjoyed it but was getting crankier as her normal naptime approached. There wasn’t a long wait for the Primeval Whirl roller coaster so Todd rode that while Emily and I shopped. I got some pins and she got some princess gummy candies.

Todd was kind enough to volunteer to take Emily back to the hotel for a nap so I could stay and ride some more rides. I walked with them on the way out and we passed by where Pooh and Tigger were meeting. We asked Emily if she wanted to meet them and she did.

I love Pooh Bear in part because of my own bear. He was one of the only characters I went out of my way to meet. Pooh and Tigger were really sweet. But it was extra awesome because Pooh came over to give me and then Todd a big hug. The Photopass photographer got
the shot so I was very happy with that.

From there, we went to see Mickey and Minnie in their safari clothes. Emily was happy to see them again, but really didn’t have any desire to stand in line to meet them again at the other parks we went to.

I walked Todd and Emily to the front of the park and then went back to Dinoland so I could ride Dinosaur. This was the longest line of the day for me – about 40 minutes. I played on my phone a little but I didn’t get great signal and my phone was dying.

Dinosaur was a lot scarier than I remembered! But it was still a lot of fun. I thought briefly about riding Expedition Everest, but chickened out. I headed to the only other ride I wanted to do at Animal Kingdom - Kali River Rapids, which is a whitewater raft ride.

The post wait time for Kali River Rapids was 20 minutes but I walked right on. The ride was fun and I didn’t get too wet. Since I hadn’t waited at all, I decided to ride it again. This time I got soaked! So I thought it was time to go back to the resort. At the bus stop, I met up with my in-laws who were heading back

After I got changed and Emily got up from her nap we met the in-laws in the lobby again. We got Emily’s
carseat into their car and all rode over to the Polynesian to have dinner at Ohana. This is my all-time favorite Disney restaurant from our honeymoon. We got there early since we had to wait a long time for a table on our previous trip.

We got checked and want went over to the gift shop. We had made one pressed penny and then our buzzer went off! It was so fast! We were seated near the window, which you could make out Cinderella Castle through the trees.

When I gave my information to my travel agent, I had her notate that I am allergic to shellfish and to tree nuts. Nearly every table service restaurant we ate at, the chef would come out and advise me what the safe dishes to eat were. It was very nice to know which ones could cause my issues. Thankfully the only thing I couldn't eat at Ohana was the shrimp.

There was course after course of meat on skewers that had been freshly cooked on a huge fire pit on the other side of the room. It was so good, and even Emily liked it, though she mostly ate the noodles that were
part of the side dishes.

There were games for the kids (though Emily opted not to play) and a lady who roamed around the room singing songs and giving out leis. Once we were done, I took Emily over to the lady so she could get some leis. The lady saw Emily’s birthday button and gave her extra leis in the form a lei crown. 

We made one more stop to the gift shop. There was a Minnie Mouse dress up toy set that Emily had seen and decided she wanted. The price was pretty good, especially since we were at Disney, so she got it with her gift cards. It was a great purchase because she still plays with it daily.

It was time to turn in for the night so we headed back to the resort. Emily got a bath and went right to sleep. I didn’t stay up too long either because we had to be up early the next day.

Up next post – The Magic Kingdom, Part 1

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Disney Trip 2013 - Travel Day

 After years of waiting, earlier this month it was time to go to Disney World. Todd and I had honeymooned there and I had been dreaming of taking Emily to my favorite place in the world since I found out I was pregnant. Originally we had planned on waiting until 2015 when Emily would be turning six. But I convinced Todd that this year would be better because she’d be turning five but still in pre-K preschool because of the way her birthday fell. He agreed and I started planning about 18 months in advance.

I worked with Sara, a travel agent with Mouse Fan Travel. She was excellent – answered all my questions quickly, got us some great reservations for dining and helped me with getting our Fastpass + fixed. Finally it was midnight on October 11th, so it was time to go.

Since Todd had switched jobs a few months ago, he wasn’t working on that day so we were able to leave earlier than we had intended. We packed up the car, got Emily up and we were on the road before 1 am. The drive was pretty uneventful. I slept some and Emily slept a little. Todd opted to drive the whole way even though I did offer to do some driving. Around 11 am, we arrived at our resort.

We had picked the new Art of Animation resort because they had family suites. Todd’s a night owl so the
Trying watch cartoons and smile

separate rooms were really appealing to us since we wouldn’t have to go to sleep when Emily did. The outside was so bright and fun, and then inside was as well. I’d see lots of pictures and videos but it was even more awesome when we got inside.

Despite it being early, we went to check-in. Right next to the check-in stations there was a little room that had couches and a TV playing Disney cartoon. There was also a table set up that had free lemonade and cookies. Emily wanted me to watch cartoons with her, so Todd handled most of the check-in. I wasn’t surprised to hear our room wasn’t ready, so we left Disney World to go see my in-laws.

My in-laws had come down to Florida in part to see Emily around her birthday but also to visit some friends who were snowbirding in Orlando. Their hotel was actually pretty close by, maybe 15 minutes away. They were staying in a hotel in Kissimmee right next to Old Town. They were happy to see us, especially Emily. We visited for a while, then got some lunch.
Lunch at KFC!
We were going to go to the arcade in Old Town, but it wasn’t open yet.

We all went back to Art of Animation and we played in the arcade there. Todd got enough tokens that he was able to get Emily a stuffed puppy. Finally around three, our room was ready and we got to see it.
It was a great room, nice and big with a kitchenette and two bathrooms.

After we got the car unpacked and got Emily changed so we could go to Chef Mickey’s. Emily was so excited to meet all the characters, but especially Minnie Mouse. We had a lot of fun and the food was decent too. The only bummer was I had used my camera to take the pictures and for some reason when I transferred the pictures to the laptop later that evening they disappeared after a moment. I was very upset but figured all the characters we had met, we could meet again. I finally gave up trying to find the files and went to bed.

Up next post – Animal Kingdom and Ohana!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Trick or Treating - Church Edition

I’m still recovering from our Disney trip but I’ll be posting about that soon. Now that we are home, we are trying to get back into the groove of things. But with Halloween right around the corner, we have several Halloween activities we are taking part in.

Tonight was the annual trick or treating at the retirement community that is associated with our church. It give all the people who live in the retirement community a chance to see all the kids in their costumes and give a safe place for the kids to trick or treat at.

Emily’s been looking forward to it all day. After dinner, she donned her Cinderella dress and we headed off. The actual trick or treating was first. All the kids looked cute in their costumes and Emily had a great time filling up her bucket.

After everyone finished trick or treating, we all went to the community room so the youth choirs could sing for everyone. Emily didn’t want to sing, just eat her candy and sit in my lap. The songs were lovely.

We headed out after the singing was done, though stopping briefly for punch and a cookie. Emily skipped all the way to the car. It was a lovely way to spend the evening.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Browncoat Ball is Coming to Greenville!

I’ve been a Browncoat since the first episode of Firefly aired. It took me until after I moved to North Carolina to get involved with a Browncoat group. There wasn’t a group in Asheville, but there was one in Greenville, SC which is about 45 minutes away. I started going to meetups in Greenville and made some great friends.

I also got to meet some of the Charlotte, NC Browncoats too and went to some of their gatherings. In 2009, it was announced that Charlotte would be holding the Browncoat Ball in 2010. I signed up to be on the planning committee. It was a lot of work but it was a ton of fun especially at the Ball itself.

I’ve wanted to go back to a Ball since then, but I haven’t been able to. This year, the Greenville Browncoats put in a bid and got the Ball for next year. I’m on the planning committee again and I’m so excited!

2014’s Browncoat Ball is going to feature a Firefly-themed murder mystery. We are already have a Facebook page up if anyone is thinking about joining in the fun. It’s one of the best shindigs of the year and I’m looking forward to helping make it really shiny.

Monday, October 7, 2013

I'm Going To Disney World!

I’ve been neglecting this blog and I’m sorry for that. I’ll be neglecting it more since we go on vacation on Friday. Last week was a comedy of errors with all kinds of weird things happening. And I still have a cold and having packed a thing. But all that doesn’t matter, because I’m going to Disney World this week.

Someday I’ll finish my honeymoon recap, but I wanted to share some thoughts I was having about this trip. First, even though we leave in four days, it doesn’t seem real.

I think it doesn’t seem real because I’ve been dreaming of this trip since I was pregnant with Emily. That’s been nearly six years. And we’ve had to nearly cancel our trip twice this year because of different things. I don’t think I’m going to feel like I’m really going to Disney World until we see the sign as we drive in.

Even though it doesn’t feel real, it is. I’m going to Disney World and I need to pack. Because I was sick all last week, I didn’t get anything done. Now this week I’m working extra-long shifts and also need to do laundry and pack. I did manage to get to the post office on my lunch break and got my mail held for while we are gone. But I have a lot left to do.

I’m really hoping that this vacation is awesome. I’ve been waiting for it so long that I can’t wait until I get to see Emily see the castle for the first time ever. I’m going to cry – a lot! My in-laws are joining us for a few days and I’m looking forward to seeing them too.

If you follow me on Twitter, it’s going to be a lot of Disney for the next week. But I’ll be live tweeting when I can and I’m planning on taking tons of pictures to capture those special Disney memories.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Sickness, Power Outage and a Lack of Sleep

I took an unexpected blogging break due to some illness issues in my family. I’ll probably be slow on getting new posts up for the next week or so as I get ready for Disney. After that, there will be no posts from me for a week while we are on vacation. If you want to see pictures and such from our Disney trip, I’ll be tweeting from @ChaosMandy on Twitter.

Last week didn’t go very well for me. It started with a wicked migraine on Tuesday that was so bad that I had to call in sick to work. I slept most of the day and felt a bit better the next day. My job is really good about me taking time off if I’m having a flare, but generally I have to make up the hours by working on my day off, which is Sundays.

On Friday, Emily and Todd napped since Todd works from 7 pm to 7 am on the weekends. Emily got up before Todd did and said that her tummy didn’t feel well. She was acting fine otherwise, so I just kept my eye on her. When it came time for dinner, she had one bite and then was racing off to the bathroom to get sick. This was the start of a very long night since she got sick every couple of hours until 2 am.

She was really upset, so I had brought her in bed with me since Todd was working anyway. We both didn’t get a lot of sleep but I dragged myself to work in the morning.  My pain levels had been lowering since the flare on Tuesday, but they spiked up again after a night of no sleep. I did a whole lot of nothing on Saturday after work, and though Emily was feeling better I had her sleep with me again since I wanted her close so I could keep an eye on her.

The only problem with having Emily in bed with me is that she moves a lot in her sleep. So even though we got more sleep, I didn’t sleep very well. Sunday I had to work and it was a rough shift. The combo of rough work days and little sleep made my pain levels flare up again.

So Monday night I decided to go to bed early in order to hopefully feel better. Right after I went to bed, our power went out. Emily freaked out and was really upset, so she ended up with me again. She tossed and turned for a while so another night of not a lot of sleep for me.

Thankfully the power did come back on and thankfully Emily didn’t get sick again after that night of throwing up. But I’m still tired. We have nine days before we leave for Disney World and I have a lot to do. Hopefully there will be no more issues between me and sleep for the next week.