Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Disney in a Day

Passing Notes Today:  Mrs. Kelly

Hey girls,

Guess where we went recently?
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Yup.  The happiest place on earth.  And we had an amazing time (even with gray skies)!  Funny thing is, we made the decision to go about a week prior to our visit. I think some people plan their Disney trips a year or more in advance but I'm not that girl.  I tend to fly by the seat of my pants--which is great for lots of things--but when you spend the kind of money that Disney requires, I realized (okay, my husband told me) we should have some sort of plan.

Here's what we did to make the most of our trip:

1. We signed up for Mousesavers.  It's a newsletter that comes once a month and provides information on discounts and offer codes along with helpful tips.



2.  We signed up for a subscription to Touringplans.com.  This site allowed us to make a customized plan for the park and minimize our wait times.  We used the Magic Kingdom One Day Touring Plan for Parents with Younger and Older Children.  This plan cost us ten dollars but it was money well spent.  We had a plan that we could reference for the day.  We accessed the plan through an app for our Iphones.  Occasionally, we did deviate but it was helpful to have a guide.  
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3.  We used a free app called Undercover Tourist.  This app provided updated wait times for every ride in the park and told us the return times for our fast passes.



4.  We strategically used fast passes.  Where were these things when I was little?!  The passes allowed us to plan around the popular rides.  We would swipe our pass in the fast pass kiosk and then return at the designated time.  In between, we would tackle other rides.
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5.  We packed a lunch.  Well, my mother-in-law packed lunches.  She's so smart.  That way, we could eat on the earlier side and then go on rides when other people were eating!

6.  We made lunch and dinner reservations ahead of time (even though we ultimately didn't use the lunch reservation).  You can make dining reservations right on the Disney webpage.  It allows you to sort available reservations by park and price.  Then, you can look up the corresponding restaurants on allearsnet.com.  A friend of mine (thanks Zoe) told me about this website!  It was helpful to view the restaurant menus ahead of time and read what others said about it.  It was also good to know we had a reservation in case the weather was awful or the kids got overheated.  Better to have it, right?  
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7.  We brought rain jackets and ponchos.  (Thanks Auntie for giving me your rain gear).   Those Florida skies can turn on you faster than the Kardashians churn out reality shows.
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When we left, I felt giddy and exhausted.  I also felt satisfied that we had made the most of our day.  I can't wait to go back!
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Turns out Jiminy Cricket was right:  when you wish upon a star, dreams DO come true. 

As Mickey would say, "C" you real soon.





Note from Mrs. Gosling:  Oh Disney .. how I miss you!  We were there 3 years ago and it was magical.  The best part, the fireworks.  What a wonderful memory for you and your extended family!


Note from Mrs. Williams:  Thanks, Mrs. K.,  for sharing all the great tips and tricks for managing the happiest place on Earth!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Weekend Vacation

Passing Notes Today:  Mrs. Williams

Hey Girls -

This weekend we packed overpacked the car and headed to the Adirondacks.

Our destination...a beautiful cabin along the lake.  The cabin nestled in the woods has hosted family gatherings, tennis round robin tournaments, swimming the channel competitions, boat rides on the lake, canoe races, and walks through the camp for over 101 years.  This weekend it hosted our family.  From the second I heard the gravel rumble under our car wheels as we drove down the winding driveway to our friend's vacation home, my stress level dropped and I found myself saying, "It's so beautiful," ad nauseam.  But really, it's so beautiful.  Take a look.

Here's a peak at the house.
This is the view of the house from the sandy beach.  It has six bedrooms and 3 1/2 baths.


Huge wrap around deck, screened-in porch, flowers blooming...paradise.


Two balconies extend off second floor rooms at the back of the house.  Perfect spots for lake views and drying bathing suits.


Here's a look at the dining room.  The decor in the house is historic and true to the time the house was constructed.
Check out the Adirondack items that decorate an elevated ledge at the stairs' landing.
My personal favorite spot in the house, the sleeping porch - complete with three double beds all in a row.  Oh, and panoramic views of the lake.


At dinner time on Saturday night we all shared our favorite parts of the day.  There were eight of us in total and each of us had a personal favorite.  Check out our highlights:

Swimming the Channel:
It's a camp tradition that any child who swims from the dock to the island and back again can earn $5.  This year my six-year-old was set on earning that five bucks.  And ten minutes into our bathing suits, he did!
Minutes before I handed over the $5.

Enjoying the View:
From any vantage point, at any time of the day...absolutely stunning.



Riding the Pink Lady:
Sure, there are speed boats and jet skies on the lake, but the best boats are the barges.  Practically every family on the lake has one.  It may look like a dock with a motor to you (well, it kind of is), but the ride on "The Pink Lady" was my favorite part of the day.
If you think this picture is of a deck, you'd be wrong.  It's the Pink Lady, the water barge, in all her glory.


Swimming at the Sand Bar:
All the barges meet up at the Sand Bar (a shallow area in the lake).  If college campuses floated, this is exactly what they would look like.
Why yes, that's a beer pong table in the foreground.

Hanging out on the Deck:
After breakfast we spent some time coloring on the deck.  Not a bad place to color Spiderman red.




Catching Fish off the Dock:
Oh man, this was my kind of fishing.  The fish practically caught themselves.  Every kid caught at least one.  Good thing, because they swapped fishing stories (like old men) all afternoon.
"Here fishy-fishy."




Roasting Marshmallows at Open Face:
Open Face is an Adirondack lean-to.  It could probably fit fifteen people.  There are pillows and blankets and views of the lake and campfire.  Did someone say campfire?  Bring on the S'Mores!

So GOOD!

Jumping off the Diving Board:
Does a diving board ever get old when you're a child?  

Can you believe we packed that all into one day?  Can you believe our kids still woke up at 6am?  

This Adirondack camp is beautiful!  It is special in a way that none of these photographs or words can capture.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  Perhaps it's the fact that this house has hosted one hundred years worth of families and friends vacationing together, escaping the stresses of their lives to spend time jumping into the lake, catching fish, enjoying the view, sharing a laugh or adventure, and feeling collective gratitude for the enormous good fortune that brought us all there...together.
I'll just write it one more time...it's so beautiful!


Feeling less stressed, 





Note from Mrs. Kelly:  This place looks AMAZING.  Oh man.  I think I'd never leave...especially that sleeping porch and "Pink Lady."   Thanks for sharing.  And thank your friends for letting us "crash!"

Friday, July 26, 2013

Embracing My Inner Kris Jenner


Kris Jenner's Christmas Kitchen (Complete With Mackenzie Childs)

Passing Notes Today:  Mrs. Kelly

Hi Girls,
Last weekend I channeled my inner Kris Jenner (sorry) and made a trip to Aurora, New York for the annual Mackenzie Childs Barn Sale.  If you remember, I went last year for the first time.  This time, my mom and I went on a Saturday afternoon.  It was a gray day but the grounds were as lovely as ever--talk about flora and fauna!

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When we arrived, the parking lot was busy enough.  I didn't start twitching though.
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Here's a shot of the farmhouse:
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Doesn't a wrought iron fence make everything look more charming?


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And here's the wait line....ahhh!  Bliss!  No lines.  
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Flowers, flowers everywhere.
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Hydrangeas for Mrs. G.
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"Honey, I'm home!"
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And here's an inside shot of the barn.  Lots of happy shoppers.
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My strategy with my baking is to put the baked good on something lovely.  I figure if it only tastes adequate, at least it looks pretty.

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The cushions were marked an extra 20% off that day.  
Each day they mark something else down a little more.  

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I loved this mailbox but the price tag was still a bit steep for my blood.

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Some of the other great features of this sale include an awesome band, delicious food and stunning views!
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More greenery!  What an amazing backdrop.
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Doesn't this look straight out of a Jane Austen novel or something?
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I didn't go crazy at the sale this year. I picked up this welcome mat (which was also discounted an extra 20% that day), some salt and pepper shakers and a gift.  I'm hardcore...frizz and all.


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There's Seneca Lake in the background.  I want to go to there.
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Check ya later...get it?  Check?






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