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!