Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goals For 2017

I don't do resolutions, I do goals. My goals last year were to get healthier (check!) and write more (kind of check).

For this year, it's more of the same. My main goal is to get a finished draft on my first novel so I can start figuring out querying to get an agent or if I want to self publish. All that good stuff on the road to becoming a published author.

Working on my health is an ongoing thing. I kind of fell off the exercising wagon at the end of the year. Once we got back from Disney World, things got so busy! So I need to go back to the gym more again.

Other than that, I also hope to have some new costumes for the cons I'll be going to this year. 
Tina from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Princess Leia (white dress and buns) and Anna from Frozen are all on my list.

Beyond that, I'm hoping that 2017 will be kinder than 2016!

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 - Year in Review

This year has been an interesting one. The celebrity deaths have been hard to watch. The ones that have hit me most have been Ron Glass and Carrie Fisher. The election was a shitshow all around and I can't deny that I'm not frightened by what may happen in the years to come.

But on a personal level, 2016 wasn't too bad a year!

It was a Disney year, and Disney years are always good because of going to my favorite place in the world. I also didn't need to go to the ER at all this year which is huge!

We joined the Y on January 1st of this year and I started weight training a few months after that. I didn't lost a lot of weight but I gained a lot of strength and stamina, which was something I really needed! I'm hoping to build on that in 2017.

Girl Scouts became a huge part of our lives this year. We went through our first cookie season and Emily got to go camping for the first time ever! We actually have gone camping with the Girl Scouts three times this year.

Both Emily and I made new friends thanks to scouting! And Emily was very excited that her two best friends ended up in her class for 2nd grade.

Emily worked very hard in school to become a much better reader. She has grown so much - including in height. She's almost as tall as I am! In addition to Girl Scouts, she also got more involved with church. She is in the children's choir and active in the elementary youth group! She was also in our church's Christmas pageant as Innkeeper #1 and an angel.

 I'll post about my goals for 2017 in a different post, but while I'm not glad to see 2016 be gone soon, it wasn't too bad of a year for us.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Final Thoughts!

This is the final post of my Disney trip report! To start from the beginning, click here!

The whole reason I started planning this trip was an incentive to recover after I got very sick and had a bunch of seizures. It was a scary time for me and having just the thought of Disney World helped me along. It also helped me get stronger. I spent a lot of this year at the gym, walking and doing weight training. It really paid off because even though I was walking many miles in a day, I wasn't really sore the whole week.

Of course, we also celebrated Emily's birthday since she happened to be born in my favorite month of the year. She got a lot of attention from her birthday button and she loved that!

This trip was a lot of firsts for Emily. First time at Epcot, first time on a roller coaster and first time going to the Halloween party. She enjoyed it all which made me happy!

My favorite part was finally getting to wear my Tightrope Girl costume to the Halloween party. I got a lot of compliments on it, especially from cast members.

Even the hurricane was interesting. It was a little scary but I hoped that Disney would do their best to keep us safe. And they really did and did their best to keep people entertained while the parks were closed.

I also want to give a shout out to my travel agent, Sara Varney at Mouse Fan Travel. This is the 2nd trip she's helped me plan and she's a really good travel agent. She got all of our dining reservations that we wanted and even called us the day before the hurricane was suppose to hit to make sure we were ok. Fabulous customer service right there!

All in all, Disney World still retains its place as my most favorite place in the world! I can't wait to go back hopefully in a few years!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Magic Kingdom and Departure Day!

This is the 7th post of my Disney trip report! To start from the beginning, click here!

Our day dawned very early because I wanted to get to Magic Kingdom as close to rope drop as possible. We got dressed, finished packing up the car and checked out of our hotel. We hopped on a bus and got into Magic Kingdom just as the morning rope drop show was finishing up.

We headed right to the Crystal Palace and got seated very quickly. The food was good and the characters were really great! Emily had especially wanted to meet Eeyore, but loved Tigger, Pooh and Piglet too!

From there, we to Fantasyland. Emily wanted to ride on the Carousel and there was no wait for it. Then we went to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Since this is the newest ride in the Magic Kingdom, it's a long wait for standby. I had had a fast pass for it on hurricane day, but sadly none to come by on the
day we actually got to the Magic Kingdom.

Thankfully the queue was pretty cool so Emily was amused. But it was the longest line of the whole trip since we waited over an hour. The ride was cool and Emily loved it. It was her first roller coaster! I'll definitely want to ride it again, but not with an hour wait!

We did a few Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom stops. Emily loves that game and had fun fighting the baddies. We headed to Adventureland because I had gotten a fastpass for Pirates of the Caribbean. This was Emily's first time riding pirates and she loved it.

While in Adventureland, we also rode the Magic Carpets and had our very first Dole Whip! It was getting close to noon and getting really hot out. It was honestly the hottest day of
our entire trip. So we headed back to the front of the park.

We did one more Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom stop and then rode our last ride, which was The Haunted Mansion. We left my favorite place in the world behind and got back to our car to begin the long journey home.

Because of the hurricane, we took the longer way home through Atlanta. I use my GPS on my phone to get directions and I was a little freaked because it took me on a toll road and I had no change. Thankfully the tolls had been suspended because of the hurricane.

I really wanted to get back home so we drove the whole way back to NC. I did manage to hit my head pretty hard. I went to the back of my car which has a hatch, and misjudged the distance when I was closing it and brought it down on my head. It hurt a lot and once we got home, I spent the next few days in bed. Afterwards, I'm pretty sure I managed to give myself a minor concussion.

Besides injuring myself, I managed to get us safely home. We got home right around midnight so at least I had been awake for 18+ hours. It was a long day!

Up Next - Final Thoughts About the Trip!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Girl Scouts and the Christmas Parade

Last year, our Girl Scout troop marched in the Fletcher Christmas parade. We didn't have a lot of prep time so it was just our girls wearing their vests with Santa hats on, walking down the street. After last year, the parents  / leaders decided we were going to do better this year.

The parade has a theme every year and the theme this year was "Christmas in Candyland". We started working on it over a month ago. The girls were involved in every step - from planning to creating. But of course, us parents had to do quite a bit as well.

The main focal point of our float was our Gingerbread house. I was really sick with a migraine the day they put it together so I sent Todd in my place. He ended up being a much better help than I was because he used his engineer's mind and designed the house. I heard praises from the other parents about it afterwards!

Last Friday we put everything together and put it on the float. The girls crafted jingle bell bracelets while us parents did the heavy lifting, as it where. The float ended up looking great!
Saturday was the parade and it was an extremely cold day. I put several layers on Emily and myself in order to stay as warm as possible. We got everyone we could on the float, including my kid. Some kids walked and a couple road in the back of the truck. Some switched out in the middle of the parade.

The girls looked cute with their gingerbread aprons which thankfully could be worn over coats. They handed out candy, jingled bells and waved to the crowd who had braved the cold.

It turned out very well! I think for our first float it was awesome. And the girls had a lot of fun with the whole process!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Disney Trip - Hurricane Part 2!

This is the 6th post of my Disney trip report! To start from the beginning, click here!

Emily and I woke up a little before 8 am on Friday. The worst of it, as far as I could tell, happened overnight while we were sleeping.

The curfew was still in effect and it was still pretty rainy and windy outside so I gave Emily some Pop-tarts and I went back to sleep for a while. The hurricane had given me a pretty bad migraine. We still had power and internet, and they were still playing movies on the resort tv station so Emily watched that and played with her new toys.

In the afternoon, the curfew was lifted so we ventured out to go to the main building that has the food court and arcade. It was packed and there was a long line to talk to someone at the desk. I actually got in this line to make sure I had the
dining credits I did. Thankfully it wasn't that long of a wait.

When we got there, Rafiki and Dale were doing meet and greets in the lobby. But right as I was finishing up with the cast member, Jessie from Toy Story came out! Emily's favorite Toy Story character is Jessie and we missed her on her last day at the Magic Kingdom on the 1st.

Needless to say, we got right in line and it didn't take long for Emily to meet Jessie. From there, we went into the arcade where all the games were free! It was crowded and you had to wait for the games, but Emily had fun. Everyone was polite about waiting.

Plus two of the Green Army men from Toy Story were wandering around in the arcade and playing with the kids. Emily got her picture with one of them too! It was a great time and awesome of Disney to make that available for
everyone who was stuck at the resort.

Disney worked pretty fast on clean up. Disney Springs actually re-opened for resort guests in the evening. The Big Blue Pool at our resort was also opened back up in the evening after they cleaned up.

Emily and I went back to our room and ate some of our bag lunches. We also spent a good part of the afternoon packing up. I packed everything except what we would need in the morning and got it into the car. That way we wouldn't have to do much in the morning before checking out and then heading to the Magic Kingdom for our last bit of magic.

After night had fallen, we took a walk. Emily had wanted to see the Cars area of the resort at night time. It was pretty cool and it was a nice evening for a walk. Once we got back to the room, we headed to bed early. The next day was going to be the longest yet!

Up next - Magic Kingdom and Departure!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Three Nights of Santa!

The end of last week was a Santa-paloza for Emily and I. We had three events over the course of three days that all involved the man in red!

On Thursday, it was the Fletcher Tree Lighting at Fletcher Park. It was freezing out so we got in line to meet Santa right away. The line was long, but thankfully one of Emily's best friends and her family got in line right in front of us. That helped pass the time.

Because it was so cold out, all we pretty much did was meet Santa and consume cookies and cocoa. We left to the warmth of our car after that.

On Friday, it was Cookies and Cocoa with Santa at Emily's school. We actually got there a bit before it started because I wanted to get an actual parking space. Sadly the school's lot isn't big enough for
events like this and I didn't want to have to park in the grass.

We got inside a few minutes before it started. We went to see some friends of Emily and I's (Girl Scout moms and their kids) who were selling things. I got a rice bag (which works really good!) and Emily got a hair tie from one of them.

As soon as Santa got there, we got in line. We were the 2nd group in line and I wanted to do it early because I knew the line would get long. After we met Santa, we went to the holiday shop the school had set up. Emily proceeded to spend the rest of her money on stuff she 'needed'. We also met Elsa, who is actually one of my friends and a fellow Girl Scout troop leader.

Most of the rest of the time we were there, we were hanging out with our friends. One of the moms had to leave early because of a sick kid so I volunteered to help watch the table. Emily mostly just hung out and played with her friends, which she loved. It was a good evening!

The next day, I actually woke up feeling pretty sick with a migraine. So Todd took Emily to help with
building a gingerbread house for her Girl Scout troop's float for the Christmas parade. Once they got home, I had gotten up and got dressed so we could go to the Biltmore Park tree lighting.

Usually the Biltmore Park tree lighting is at night and they start with the lighting of the tree. This year, the event went from 1 pm to 5:30 pm and the tree lighting was at the end. We got there about 3 pm and went right to meet Santa. In years past, Santa had been joined by Mrs. Claus but he was solo this year.

The line wasn't long and Emily met the 3rd Santa who she says is the real one. From there, we wandered around. We got cocoa and went from booth to booth. Emily did science experiments, got to make a 3D ornament (that will be printed out on a 3rd printer!), got cookies and even got to decorate a cookie! It was a lot of fun especially since it was on a Saturday so Todd could come with us. Our Santa days had come to an end though - at least for this year.

Of all the events, I liked the Biltmore Park one the best. Lots to do with lots of entertainment. I think that is the one that Emily liked best too but Cookies and Cocoa with Santa would be a close 2nd for her because she got to play with her friends for several hours.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Animal Kingdom & Hurricane Part 1!

This is the 5th post of my Disney trip report! To start from the beginning, click here!

It was a bit rainy as we got up to head to Animal Kingdom early. On the bus ride over, we heard that all the parks would be closing at 5 pm and would be closed all day on Friday because of the impending Hurricane.

While we were still on the bus, I canceled our dining reservations for Friday and managed to get a Crystal Palace reservation for Saturday morning. We were leaving on Saturday and I had planned on just checking out and driving home in the morning. But I didn't want to miss out on the last park ticket we had, so came up with a plan to spend the morning in the Magic Kingdom on Saturday, provided that it was open.

Even with the Hurricane coming, I was determined to have a good time while we were in Animal Kingdom. Thankfully for us, Animal Kingdom has always been a half day park especially since neither Emily nor I wanted to ride the roller coasters and Dinosaur was down for rehab.

We went straight to Kilimanjaro Safari which was excellent even in the rain. We still got to see lots of animals! After that, we went to see Festival of the Lion King which is thankfully indoors. It's a great show and we had really good seats!

After the show was done, we booked it to Finding Nemo: The Musical. We had fastpasses for that and we made it into the also indoor theater just before the show started. Neither Emily nor I had ever seen it before and it was so cool! The songs were great and the puppets were very unique! I think it's now an Animal Kingdom must do for both of us.

Emily wanted to go on TriceraTop Spin (which is basically Dumbo with dinosaurs) and then play some of the carnival games at Chester & Hester's Dino-Rama. She actually won
two of them and got some stuffed animals as prizes! She was really excited about that!

She played in the Boneyard for a little bit and then started on her Wilderness Explorers trek! There are different stations around Animal Kingdom where kids can do activities and earn badges. Emily thought this was a lot of fun.

While we were in Dinoland, the rain had stopped. But it looked as if it was going to start again anytime. We had a reservation at Yak and Yeti for dinner but both of us were hungry so we went to see if we could get seated several hours early. It wasn't very crowded and they honored our reservation.

We had a great table on the 2nd floor. We were able to see all the people out in the rain since the rain had picked up at that time. The food was very good and once our tummies were full we went back out into the rain for one last ride.

I had to convince Emily to ride Kali River Rapids, which is one of my favorites. We were already
wearing our ponchos because of the rain so when we rode the first time, she hide her face in the hood of her poncho. But she decided she liked it!

We rode it again because it was getting to be in the afternoon and the park was getting empty. We had no line and we even got to stay in our raft after that to ride it one more time. Emily was especially geeked about that!

After we got very wet on Kali River Rapids we headed out. We stopped to get our picture by the Tree and Emily did one more Wilderness Explorer stop. We got back to our resort about 4:30-ish.

We went right to the food court because I wanted to get us dinner and something for the next day as well. The lines for all the stations were super crazy but there was also a spot that was selling box lunches. The line wasn't very long so we got four of them with some of our dining plan credits. We also
got four drinks as well to go with them.

The box lunches had a sandwich (we got 3 ham and cheese and one peanut butter and jelly), a piece of fruit (all apples I think), a cookie and a bag of chips. It was $8, if I remember correctly. The sandwiches all were good with a decent amount of meat and cheese and the fruit was fresh as well.

We only waited in line for maybe ten minutes. It took longer to get to a cashier to check out. From there, we headed back to the room. I went back to the food court and got our refillable mugs filled up and then we started to do what we could to get ready for the hurricane.

I filled up the bathtub and the sink with water just in case the power went out. I made sure the tablet and my phone had a full charge and also charged up my portable chargers. The cable went out that afternoon but we still had internet access so we watched some of Tangled on the tablet.

Someone from the resort came around and gave every room a flashlight, which was nice. Though it
scared me when he knocked on the door. I also put a bunch of towels in front of the door as well.

I stayed glued to the because there was a huge thread about Disney and the hurricane. From there, I learned that the resort TV was showing Disney movies so we turned off the tablet and started watching that. Emily ate her pb&j bagged lunch but I was starting to get a pretty wicked migraine because of the incoming storm.

When we went to bed, we still had power. It was very windy and rainy out, and the whole area was under a curfew. We had been instructed, via a voice mail, to stay in our rooms until the curfew was lifted.

I had no idea what we were going to face the next day but there wasn't anything we could do but get some rest.

Up next - Hurricane Part 2!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Fire, Smoke and Rain

It's been an interesting Autumn here in Western North Carolina thanks to the wildfires. My house was never in danger, but places that are relatively close to where I live, like Lake Lure and Chimney Rock, were evacuated because of wildfires.

Since the fires didn't reach us, at first I didn't really think there would be much going on where I live. But as the fires and the drought continued, our air quality got very bad. Depending on the way the wind is blowing, we can get smoke. 

Last week I was taking Emily to an appointment, and the further we got into Asheville, the smokier it got. It's been making my migraines worse and I can't imagine how bad it is for people with breathing issues. Emily has often complained that they weren't allowed to go outside and play during recess because of the smoke.

Finally after months of little to no rain, we got some the other night. It was a very welcome sound and the fire closest to us was able to be 100% contained. But then I saw the news that Gatlinburg was on fire. It's still on fire with three people dead, the entire town up in flames and thousands of people evacuated. 

I've never been to Gatlinburg but it's one of the places I've wanted to visit. It's only a few hours away from here. We've passed by a few times on our way up to Michigan in years past. The pictures from there are horrifying to say the least.

So I continue to pray for rain. Rain to come wherever the fires are still not under control. 

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Browncoats Cry Tonight

This year has been full of death and despair. Most of the celebrities that have died haven't had a huge affect on me. Some made me sad, some made me feel old and some made me feel nostalgic. But as I was in line to get my ticket to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, I saw on Facebook that Ron Glass had passed away.

I fought the urge to cry right there. For those who don't know, Ron Glass was a wonderful actor. He was Shepard Book on Firefly, among other things. Firefly and the fandom surrounding it has been one of the most tremendous parts of my life. I've met so many wonderful people and formed lifelong friendships because of it.

My husband, who likes Firefly, but isn't a Browncoat doesn't really understand why I'm so sad tonight. But I know thousands of fellow Browncoats are just as upset as I am.

I was lucky enough to meet Ron Glass at my very first Dragon Con in 2007. He was very sweet and I'm so glad I had that opportunity. For now, I'm going to go watch the episode "Out of Gas" and try not to cry too much.

Rest in Peace Mr. Glass - you are very missed!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Thanks for Being Alive

Thanks to my Timehop, I figured out that two years ago today was the day that I had my seizures. I don't remember the seizures, but thinking about fills me with dread. Just the fear and confusion that I do remember upon waking in the ICU the day before Thanksgiving is something I wouldn't want to go through again.

So I'm feeling thankful to be alive. I don't think the seizures would have killed me, but it's possible. It's more likely that my demise could have been brought about by all the falling down I did. I had a bunch of bruises that I didn't really notice until I got home from the hospital and one in particular was huge.

Sadly, because my many doctors still have no clue why it happened beyond the mass that was in my brain. And because they don't know what really causes the stupid masses that pop up every once in a while, it's hard to predict if or when another attack might come.

But I forge on, living my life. I'm in a lot better shape than I was even last year at this time. I try to do my best to be able to take care of myself and make myself stronger. This year, I started weight training and that has helped a lot!

There are a lot of things I'm thankful for this holiday season, but being alive is pretty near the top!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Rest Day!

This is the 4th post of my Disney trip report! To start from the beginning, click here!

Since we hadn't gotten back to our room until midnight, we slept in until about 8 am. I've been to Disney in October several times before and I've always scheduled our rest day for the day after the Halloween party in order to sleep in.

After we did wake up, we got moving because Emily wanted to go to Disney Springs (formally known as Downtown Disney). We took the bus there, and walked a bit to get over to the World of Disney store.

My husband, who we called several times a day while we were gone, decided to give Emily an extra $20 in spending money and it was burning a hole in her pocket. But the first thing we saw when we walked into the store was that there was a visiting princess doing meet and greets. 

I had read about this before our trip and knew it was a fairly new thing. Because we were curious who it was and because there was no wait, we went to see the princess who turned out to be Aurora. Emily got her picture taken with her and then went off to look for something very specific she

She had seen a little bear stuffy from 'Brave' and she had to have it. I had to ask a cast member but we were directed in the right place, and Emily got her precious bear, that she named Bear. I got some pins, and was tempted by the Captain America ears, but decided not to get them.

From there, we went to the LEGO store. Emily played with some Legos and I got new lego keychains for my keys. We also had to get pictures with the different LEGO statues, which are all very cool!

We didn't really have much else we wanted to look at, so we headed back to the bus. Thankfully everything was well marked so we could find our way back. The whole area had pretty much changed a ton since our last trip.

Once we got back to our resort we had some lunch in the
food court. I had given Emily the choice of mini golf or swimming for after lunch and she picked swimming. Since we had quite a bit of time, we opted to go to the Big Blue Pool to swim. Emily also played some in the Nemo splash pad. 

The hurricane was coming closer but we only had a few sprinkles so far. The sky was a bit dark while we were swimming but thankfully no bad weather - yet. After swimming for a while, we headed back to our room to change for dinner.

We had reservations at the Whispering Canyon Cafe which is located at the Wilderness Lodge, We took a bus to the Magic Kingdom and then we rode a ferry boat to the resort. At this point, it was raining some so we had to ride on the inside of the boat. No-one could be on the outside.

It took us a bit to figure out what way to go but we got some help from some lifeguards that were standing around, waiting for the pool to be able to reopen because of the weather. The resort was beautiful! I would love to stay there someday.

We didn't have to wait very long to be seated. I had heard good things about this restaurant, not just for the food but for the fun games they play. Before we left for our vacation, I was told by several people to ask for ketchup. So I did that right away.

Our server yelled for ketchup and people brought us about 20 bottles of it! It didn't take too long before another table needed ketchup so Emily and I took our bottles over. Though Emily did keep one and hoarded it like it was her precious.

The food was really good and our server brought Emily a cupcake with a candle in it for her birthday. Then the entire restaurant sang 'Happy Birthday' to her. She was thrilled about that and still talks about it.

As we waited for our dessert, it was time for some fun and games. Emily took a horse on a stick and parades around the room with the other kids, as everyone else twirled our napkins in the air. It was a blast!

Once we were done, we decided to look around the resort a bit. It is beautiful! I'd love to stay there sometime. There was a bit of a break in the rain, so we headed back to the ferry to get back to the buses to get back to our resort.

It was really easy and not that long of a wait to use the other transportation options after we took the bus to the Magic Kingdom. Of course, all our meals that were at other resorts were at Magic Kingdom resorts. But it was nice not to have to use my car at all during the week.

Night was falling when we got back to our room, but the rain had stopped and it was clear and warm out. Since I knew the hurricane was coming, I asked Emily if she wanted to go swimming which she did. She really thought swimming after dark was a blast!

After swimming, we got to bed at a decent hour because we had to be up fairly early the next day since we were going to go to Animal Kingdom!

Up Next - Animal Kingdom & Hurricane Part 1!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

My Ghost Adventures - Knocks in the Night

To start at the beginning of this series, click here!

Even though I live in a haunted house, we have periods were there is no activity at all. And usually the activity we get isn't very scary. But a few days after Halloween, I did get a little scared.

It was evening and Emily was already in bed. I had been in the bathroom when I got very cold all of a sudden. It's been really unseasonably warm here in NC, so I knew at once that it was a cold spot. The hair on my arms started to stand on end so I finished up quickly and went back to my room.

I love to cross stitch but I generally only do it in my bedroom after an unfortunate experience where one of my cats got my threaded needle in his mouth. I got it out before he swallowed it, but it freaked me out. If they eat even the thread, it can give the cats issues.

So on this night, I was sitting up in bed watching TV and cross stitching. My orange cat, Sam, kept scratching at the door, trying to get in. I got up several times to shoo him away, but one time amid the pawing at the door, there was an actual knock.

It was 'knock knock' like a human would do. It wasn't a noise that Sam could have made. I got up, turned all the lights on in my bedroom and opened the door. No-one was on the other side besides Sam the cat. It freaked me out enough that I didn't go to sleep until Todd came home from work!

Up Next - Ghostly Whispers!

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!

This is the 4th post of my Disney trip report! To start from the beginning, click here!

Our day dawned bright and sunny, which made me happy. Today was the day we were going to go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and I didn't want it to rain. I've been to the party twice and had good weather, but I had heard horror stories about trying to do the party in torrential rain. In fact, that had happened earlier this Halloween season. This was what Emily was most looking forward to so I wanted it to go well.

But the party wasn't until the evening. We slept in a bit and then headed back over to Ohana for our breakfast with Lilo and Stitch, since this is the only place you can meet Lilo. It took us a while to get seated but we were pretty much in the same spot we were when we had dinner a few nights previously.

The food was very yummy, and we had a chance to eat before the characters arrived at our table. It took them a while to make their way around. Emily was very excited to meet Lilo and Stitch. Mickey and Pluto were also there in their finest Hawaiian attire.

After we had eaten our fill and met all four characters, we headed back to the resort. Emily swam a bit and then we both took a nap. She tried to tell me that she didn't need a nap but I knew she wouldn't make it halfway through the party without some sleep.

I dressed up in my Tightrope Girl costume and Emily put on her Jasmine costume, then we headed off to the bus stop. We had to wait a bit, but then we were on our way. We got into the Magic Kingdom a little before 4 pm and got our wristbands for the party!

We got our picture taken with the Castle behind us, and then used our Fastpass to meet Tinkerbell who was really sweet. We also went to get our special party Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card.

After watching some of the castle stage show, we went to Fantasyland. We rode on the Teacups, which made me very dizzy, and then went on the Pooh ride.

Then it was time to go to the Haunted Mansion. I had Emily take pictures of me outside of it while I was Tightrope-d up. I got compliments on my costume all night which annoyed Emily a little. She had gotten used to get all the attention!

It was nearing party time but Emily wanted to ride on Dumbo. It's one of her favorite rides and I love the view as we soared way up high. The music tolled while we were in that area of the park to let us know the party had officially begun. The gift shop right by Dumbo was the one that was selling the pins you could only get at the party.

They had several to pick from, but I chose the Hocus Pocus one. It's really awesome! We headed to the hub to get a spot for the parade. We nabbed a really close one that was right in front of the castle. Emily held our place and I went to get us a snack.

Thankfully the weather held out and we got to see the Headless Horseman take his ride in front of the parade. Emily loved the parade even though Dr. Facilier talked to her and freaked her out. I thought it was interesting since he's from one of her favorite Disney movies.

We didn't have to wait too long before the Hocus Pocus stage show started up. Even though I'm pretty short, I could see fine. Sadly, Emily is still a kid and she couldn't see very well. So I had to pick her up. My kid is eight and she's heavy! But I managed to hold her for most of the show (I had to take some breaks), so all that weight training I did paid off in a big way!

There was some time before the fireworks were going to start, so we went to Tomorrowland to have some dinner. When we had entered the park, we had been directed to a treat or trick spot and we got a special bag that already had candy in it. So Emily wanted to check out her loot as well.

After we ate, we had a bit of time left so we went on the Tomorrowland Speedway. Those cars are really hard to get in and out of when wearing a hoop skirt and a corset. Emily is a very poor driver, though she started getting the hang of it. She had a blast being able to drive, though I had to push the pedal because she's too short.

We got back to the hub right as the castle projection show started. It was really awesome, and neither
Emily  nor I had seen it before. Then it was time for Hallowishes, the fireworks show. This is my all-time favorite fireworks show ever, and Emily loved it as well.

I had wanted to ride the Haunted Mansion but Emily said that it would be too scary. So we pretty much hung out in Tomorrowland. We hit some trick or treat spots, a couple of them several times. At one, the cast members gave her several big handfuls of candy because she was wearing her birthday button.

We did pretty much all the rides we wanted to in Tomorrowland. We went on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, which seemed dated to me, but Emily loved it. Partly because she ended up kicking my butt by a large margin.

I wanted to ride the PeopleMover but Emily wasn't too sure. Once we were on it, she loved it! PeopleMover is really really relaxing, and the views of Tomorrowland are really great especially that late at night. We got to see the dance party from up high, which was fun, though Emily didn't want to go and dance with the characters from Monster's Inc.

The last thing we did was the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, which was funny. Emily thought it was much funnier than I did but it was enjoyable. There was about a half hour left of the party at that point but Emily was tired and wanted to go back to the resort.

I was actually surprised at how well she had done because it was well past her bedtime. The party was wonderful, and we didn't get rained on at all. I'm really thankful that I had picked that party because the ones later that week got canceled because of the hurricane.

Up Next - Rest Day!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Hollywood Studios!

This is the 3rd post of my Disney trip report! To start from the beginning, click here!

Even though we were in the Disney bubble, and enjoying ourselves quite a bit. I was still keeping an eye on what Hurricane Matthew was doing. I'd check the weather channel app at least several times a day. I truly hoped that we could continue to enjoy our vacation while staying safe.

We headed off to Hollywood Studios and made it right after they opened. Emily got to walk the red carpet because she was in her Elsa dress. I sadly didn't get any pictures because she was being shy and wanted me to hold her hand.

Every single time I go to Hollywood Studios I get turned around and lost. Mostly because of the way the park is laid

First thing we did was Toy Story Mania. Last trip, we were in line for over an hour. It's a fun ride but not worth an hour's wait. This time, we only waited about ten minutes. It was fun and Emily ended up beating me!

After that, we headed over to Star Tours. The waits were still short so we rode it twice in a row. We did have a fastpass the first time. The Jedi Academy show was also going on, but Emily did not want to watch it. Despite loving Darth Vader at home, and having just bought a Kylo Ren tsum tsum, she was afraid to be anywhere near any Sith Lords.

So we left the Star Wars area and headed to Hollywood and Vine for our lunch reservation. We don't have cable at home anymore, but Emily still watches the Disney Junior shows on our streaming devices. Last trip, Sofia the First was just starting to do meet and greets and Doc McStuffins wasn't doing them at all. So Emily had requested that we do the Disney Junior character meal, even though she thought she was too old to go to the Disney Junior show that they have at this park.

We got there before our 11 am reservation time but got seated
right away. The buffet ended up being a combination of breakfast and lunch because they were doing the changeover, so that was yummy. Emily was excited to see all the characters and we both got filled up.

After we were done eating, we headed back to the resort to take a break. We watched TV and Emily changed into her Star Wars dress because she was getting too hot in her Elsa costume. After a bit of rest, we headed back to Hollywood Studios.

We went to the Frozen Sing-A-Long show, which was really fun. And then we met Olaf, which was one of Emily's favorite meet and greets we had this trip. He was really cute!

Then we had to go to the Muppet 3D show, which was awesome as usual. Both Emily and I love that show. From there, we went on the Great Movie Ride, which was interesting.

Now when Emily was 4, almost 5, she wasn't scared of the Great Movie Ride at all. Not even the
scene when the Alien comes down. But this time, she was freaked right out. What scared her was when the gangster took over our car. She was seriously afraid this girl was going to shoot us, even though I kept telling her it wasn't real.

But we made it through and she was fine. Great Movie Ride is one of my favorites so I was a mean mom and made her go on it. Especially since she had liked it just fine when she was much smaller!

We had done everything we wanted to and the sun was starting to set. So we headed over to find a spot to see Fantasmic! I had never seen this show because events always conspired against me. On my honeymoon, we were seated in the arena and were being rained on. Because of the weather, they canceled the show that night.

On our last trip, Hollywood Studios was our last park day and Emily was just worn out. So even though I had a fastpass for Fantasmic, we didn't see it because she was too tired.

So I was determined to see it this trip! I planned our Hollywood Studios day earlier in the week and I
watched the weather like a hawk. It paid off this time! While we were waiting for the show to start, the Star Wars fireworks went off behind us. We couldn't really see anything beyond the higher shooting fireworks but it helped pass the time.

The show was worth the wait and went off without a hitch, even though it did start sprinkling in the middle. But's partly a water show, with barges floating around for the different scenes. I admit that I got tears in my eyes at the finale when Sorcerer Mickey shows up.

Unfortunately, we were about halfway down and all the way over because of having fastpasses. So it took forever to get out and back to the bus stop. Each resort has a queuing area at the bus stops. At the end of the night, the lines can be long, but nothing like it was once we finally got there.

Our resort's line was much, much longer than the other lines. And boy howdy, people were starting to get mad. Emily was tired and cranky, but she's a kid and she whined less than some of the adults in line.

What had happened was the Art of Animation bus that was at our queue had broken down. Since the park had been closing, tons of people were trying to get back to the resort which resulted in long lines. We did have to wait a while, but they ended up bringing a bunch of buses in from other parks to get everyone back.

Finally we got back to our resort and then our room, and we pretty much both passed out right away!

Next up - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Epcot!

This is the 2nd post of my Disney World trip report. To start from the beginning, click here!

We got up bright and early the next day to head off to Epcot. Emily was especially excited because this was her first ever visit to Epcot. We actually got on the bus early enough that we made it through bag check and the entrance gate before the park actually opened.

After a brisk walk, we made it to the Norway pavilion which is home to the new Frozen ride. Even though we made it there right about the time the park was opened, we still had about a 20 minute wait. That was ok because the queue area was very cool and it went by quickly.

Right now, Frozen Ever After is the most popular ride at Disney World. It was a great ride and of course, Emily loved it. As I would check wait times throughout the day, I noticed that for this ride the wait times went up and up and up. It was close to an hour wait when we got off the ride. I honestly wouldn't want to wait more than a 1/2 hour to ride it.

After we looked in the gift shop, we headed over to the line for the Anna and Elsa meet and greet. The queue for that was really cool as well, we were in their Summerhaus and it looked like a real house! Emily was thrilled to meet both Anna and Elsa for the first time. They were both lovely and Anna loved that Emily was dressed in an Anna costume.

We did some more shopping after that. Emily still had money on her gift card and it was burning a hole in her pocket. She got herself, among other things, an Elsa doll. She had to go and get Anna later that day.

After a snack we headed off for our fastpass for the Seas with Nemo and Friends. Emily loved the ride and she really enjoyed looking at the tanks once we were in the aquarium itself. What she loved most was watching a dolphin swimming around and around. I think if I had let her, she would have stayed and watched that dolphin all day!

At this point it was nearing lunchtime, so we headed back to our resort. After having some food and taking a relaxing dip in the pool we headed back to Epcot a few hours later. Our first stop was to see Baymax, whose line was really short. The line for Joy and Sadness, on the other hand was very long, so we didn't get a chance to meet them.

We had a fastpass for the other side of the Epcot Character Spot, so we used that to meet Mickey, Goofy and Minnie. From there, we headed off to World Showcase.  We had a little time before our dining reservation in China, so we went to go shopping in Japan.

The store in the Japanese Pavilion is amazing! Emily loved it because the first thing we saw when we walked in was Pokemon stuff. She got a stuffed Pokemon and some Pokemon cards. Then we went to get Japanese candy! Some pocky, some gummies and a few other things.

By this time, we were cutting it a little close so we hurried to China which was on the other end of the World Showcase. Our dinner at Nine Dragons was ok, but I don't think we'll be going there again anytime soon.

After dinner, we had some time before our Test Track fastpass so we went  did some things in World Showcase. We went back to Norway to get her Anna doll and she also went to the Kidcot station to color a Duffy which was on a stick. She also got a stamp on it.

Next we went to Mexico where she did the Kidcot station there and then we went on the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros ride. Emily loved this ride and I loved that it had no wait. Even though she wanted to ride it again and see Donald Duck's exploits through Mexico it was time for Test Track.

This was the ride Emily was most looking forward to. On the Disney planning DVD, it shows that you get to build your own car in the ride. We had fastpasses and we were quickly to the screens to build our custom car. It was basically Emily's car because she designed it without a lot of help from me.

The first part of the ride was doing tests and seeing whose car did the best. Emily and I's car did get number 1 for something. I don't remember what. I do know that our car was not environmentally friendly at all. Emily had a need for speed.

Once the tests were done, our car sped outside for the thrilling finale around the track. Emily wasn't scared at all and loved the thrill of it. Afterwards she declared that Test Track was her favorite ride ever!

Now we have gotten to the part of the day where I really screwed up. Emily really wanted to ride the Imagination Ride with Figment. I had checked the park
schedule earlier and didn't see that this ride closed at 7 pm. Which I didn't find out until we were walking to the ride.

I felt really bad for Emily because it was my fault. She has pretty much spent all of her money at this point, but had really wanted a Marie stuffed animal. So to make up for missing out on Figment, I bought her that toy. It cheered her up.

After that, we got in line to ride Spaceship Earth. I hadn't rode it since I was a kid because it was down for rehab when Todd and I went on our honeymoon. It was really awesome and Emily liked it so much that we went right back on. We had time to kill before our Soarin' fastpass and there was no line at that time for Spaceship Earth.

Our last ride of the night was Soarin'. Emily wasn't too sure about it but I really wanted to ride because it was the new Soarin' Around The World. Emily screamed a few times but said afterwards that she really enjoyed it.

Even though it was time for fireworks, Emily was tuckered out so we went back to our resort. Emily loved Epcot a lot!

Up Next - Hollywood Studios!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Disney Trip 2016 - Traveling and 45th Anniversary of the Magic Kingdom

 It's been nearly a week since Emily and I returned from our girl's only Disney World trip. It was very interesting, in part because of Hurricane Matthew. I'll take you through each day of our trip through this trip report!

Though this first post is going to to include two days. Because I have never made the drive down to Disney without Todd, I opted to take two days to make the trip. I'm not a great driver and being in the car makes me sleepy. Plus we left on Friday, September 30th, and I wanted to make sure Emily was in school for the majority of that day.

I packed up the car in the morning, and then worked for a few hours. I picked Emily up from school a half hour early, mostly so I wouldn't have to deal with the car rider line of doom.

I had made reservations at a Ramada Inn in GA that was about 6 hours into the trip for that night. By the time we got there, I was pooped. The guy at the front desk was nice, but he kept telling me that there were other
hotels close by that were better. It was odd because he kept putting down his place of work which is a huge no-no usually.

I opted to stay there because I was pooped. The room was a bit musty but it was fine. Emily passed out right away and I got a decent amount of sleep. We were only there about 8 hours, just to sleep, because I had wanted to get on the road early.

Emily woke up around 6 am and her waking up woke me up. We were on the road again before 7 am. The reminder of the drive was easy and I was happy that we didn't run into a ton of traffic once we got to Orlando.

Like last trip, we stayed at the new Art of Animation resort. Since it was just me and Emily this time, we stayed in the Little Mermaid section which is the only part of the resort that has regular rooms instead of suites. We checked in and even though it was before noon, our room was ready! I'm really glad it was - that way we unloaded
the car before we headed to the park.

We had a great room. It was on the top floor of the Ursula building and we had a pool view! The room was nice. Not huge, but plenty of room because it was just the two of us. It made for a nice home for the week.

Emily had requested that we ride the monorail this trip so I decided that we would spend a little time at the Magic Kingdom before we used the monorail to go to dinner. 

It was also the exact date of Magic Kingdom's 45th anniversary. It seemed fitting that we go there. We got a free button for the 45th anniversary which was a cool souvenir. Since we weren't there for the park opening we didn't see anything else that was specific for the anniversary.

We used a fastpass to do Enchanted Tales with Belle. This was one of Emily's favorite things from last trip. It's not really a ride or a character meet - it's an experience. You are transported to the day that Belle and Beast fell in love. We meet up with Belle before she has dinner with the Beast and people are picked to act out Belle's story (to that point). After that, the actors get their picture with Belle, but no autographs.

Emily got picked to be Belle's father, Maurice. She was thrilled to have a part more than a dish. I didn't have a part but I just sat in the back taking pictures. There was a family there who got really
upset with the cast member who was working the show when they were told that Belle doesn't sign autographs here. They actually stormed out in the middle of it with their small kid in tow.

After that, we found a spot to see the new Festival of Fantasy Parade which was amazing! We had to leave after that, though we got stuck on Main Street by the parade before we could exit the park and use the monorail to head to the Polynesian Resort.

We had dinner at Ohana, which is my favorite table service restaurant in Disney World. We had a castle view, and I'm pretty sure we were seated pretty close to where Todd and I were 9 years ago on our honeymoon.

The food was delicious as always, and the bread pudding for dessert was so excellent I may have stuffed myself too much. We waddled our way back to Magic Kingdom where we rode
"It's A Small World.".

Our original plan was to stay in the Magic Kingdom to see the Main Street Electrical Parade, but after we got done with Small World the sky opened up and it started pouring! I had forgotten to put my umbrella in my bag so we got soaked. We made our way up Main Street, to our Fastpass with Talking Mickey.

Meeting Mickey and talking with him was magical but it was still pouring when we got done so we opted to head back to the resort for the night. I have no idea if the parade went on that night but I was soaked and I just wanted to take a hot shower. Plus we had an early day the next day.

Up next - Epcot!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Dragon Con 2016 - Sunday

Click to read about Friday and Saturday at Dragon Con!

Usually Sunday is our longest day at Dragon Con but we also tend not to get to the con super early. I wanted to see the panel with two of the members of N'Sync so we actually got down to the con before 10 am.

I got a pretty good seat for the panel and I even got to sit next to my friend Sandy! And her wife, Kathleen, got into the panel too so I got to see her too. Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone seemingly had a very good time at Dragon Con and their panel was quite funny.

Once that let out, I headed to the America's Mart to see some of my friend, Mikey Mason's concourse show. It was great but I headed out early because I wanted to get to the Legends of Tomorrow panel.

It was a really great panel that had four of the actors from the show. I laughed a lot as they told stories and hinted about things to come in the next season. Since I was already in the Hyatt, I stopped by the con suite to get some food. Todd attempted to find the con suite but failed, so I ended up going to meet him at the food court.

It was about this time that Todd started to not feel so good. So we opted to head back to my aunt and uncle's early. In fact, we decided to head back for home on Sunday to give ourselves all of Monday to recover.
The ride home was uneventful and it was really nice to sleep in our own beds. Thankfully Todd felt better after a day of rest. All in all, Dragon Con 2016 was pretty fun!