You have been warned by the title–this is most certainly a photo dump.
We had a wonderful time at Disney. We took our time and let the kids dictate what we did. There was a lot of the traditional favorites that we did not do, but they did not miss those rides and we can always go back!
Mason was so funny! He is usually really reserved but he kept asking to ride roller coasters. He road the Barn Stormer three times, then even road Thunder Mountain in the front seat, laughing the entire time.
Miss Julia liked the rides, too, but she cried on Pirates of the Caribbean. She was all about seeing the characters. While Mason was on Barn Stormer, Sam and I walked her over to meet Daisy and Minnie. The look on her face when she got to meet Minnie was worth a million dollars. It was precious!
Mason was also pretty excited to see Woody from Toy Story…Goofy, not so much. He asked his Daddy and David to bypass him and head for Donald.
We waited to see the princesses as we were leaving. I wish we would not have, because Miss Julia was exhausted and not looking her best. However, I could not leave the Magic Kingdom without letting her meet “Cinderelli.” Again, it was breath-taking seeing her face light up.
I also have to include this picture of Mike and me. Mason took it, so I will always treasure it. I love to see the world through his eyes.
PS, I like to think that huge, random orb in front of my face is mom. It is only fitting that she was with us in spirit on this trip. She loved Disney–Her favorite movie of all time was Finding Nemo.
I now have my mom’s fairly new camera, but it is bulky and Mike did not really want me to carry it around all day in Disney. I am glad I decided to, however, as both of our iPhones died around lunch time. I would have been devastated without pictures of our kids’ first trip to the Magic Kingdom.
I thought I would share some of my favorites.
Our First Character of the Day–Miss Julia Was Not So Sure About Mary Poppins!
We Decided to Stay Mostly in the New Fantasy Land. Big Mistake! It Was Super Crowded. But Miss Julia Could Have Ridden the Carousel All Day.
Mason Ran Over to His Fairy Godmother and She Was Spectacular!
Thanks to Tips, We Hit the Line at Belle’s Castle at 10:15 for An Early Lunch–Perfect Timing and Worth It! The Dining Experience Was Spectacular.
I Love Seeing Smiles.
Our family took its first trip to Disney last weekend in honor of Mason’s fourth birthday.
Growing up, we went to Disney a lot, but only on day trips down or we would stay at inexpensive hotels nearby. We also went on school trips fairly often. While I always had fun, I have never been the fanatic that some of my friends are. But it is a rite of passage of sorts, and I always said that we would take Mason at four when he could remember it.
My friend Kaitlin read several blogs for tips and others gave me advice, including my friend from college, Steve, who works there. In the end, we stayed in one of the value resorts, The Art of Animation, which happens to have a Cars section of suites that literally makes you feel like you are visiting Radiator Springs! This happens to be Mason’s all-time favorite Disney movie, so he was in awe. The hotel is new and fresh and our room actually had a queen and two pull-out beds. The size made me miss my mom. Normally, she would have been on the trip with us; however, for some reason, when I ordered the tickets before Christmas, I did not include her in our plans. This was definitely not our usual practice and makes me a little unsettled about the timing. Anyway, we all loved the hotel!
We drove down on Friday after work and kept the trip simple. We went to the Magic Kingdom on Saturday and stopped by Downtown Disney on our way home on Sunday.
While at the Magic Kingdom, we aimed to keep things simple and our expectations low. We did not want to put too much pressure on the kids, because we know we will go back. We filled Mason’s back pack with water, juice and snacks, and set out to be there as the park opened.
Luckily, my niece Sam and her fiancé David drove down from Jacksonville to join us. It was awesome having family with us and it certainly helped having extra hands to help with the kids.
I grew up on the St. Mary’s River and had a fantastic childhood. My cousins and friends and I were always playing in that muddy water or camping (not my favorite but good memories) or riding someone’s boat and wake boarding or skiing. Now, I think I’d be terrified of the gators and moccasins; and, yes, I had one drop on the steering wheel of my then-boyfriend Kevin’s boat once as I was driving it. But I do miss the cool, damp smells and beauty of that river.
The closest thing we have here is the Wacissa. There is a boat ramp about 20 minutes south of town, and it is lovely. The water is clear and cold, and it is shallow enough that the kids can play without having to worry about them getting over their heads. But there are usually people loading and unloading their boats, and I do not know the locals well enough to feel completely safe by myself.
Last week, mom and I took the kids for a couple of hours and had a great time. The area is fairly shaded, and I took a cooler with snacks and drinks. We did not see any snakes, but we heard a LOUD bellow over and over and were told that it was, in fact, a gator. Duh! This girl spent plenty of time on the Okefenokee. I know all about gators.
On Sunday, we went site-seeing in South Central Kentucky. Our first stop was the Abraham Lincoln birth place. The park was lovely, and I liked the movie about Abe Lincoln’s life, since I got to enjoy the air conditioning.
We climbed to steps to the Greek Revival monument and went inside to see the 1840s cabin which has been placed on the actual plot where the Lincoln cabin once stood.
The park ranger was nice and asked if I would stay and work with him. I almost did, until I thought about Mason back home. I would miss my buddy.
From there, we went to Mammoth Caves National Park. I was too little to go on the cave tour, so I stayed with Mommy’s Aunt Kathy and hiked around the beautiful shaded trails.
Here is a picture I took of Mason’s family.
After a full day of adventures, including seeing some of the places that Mommy’s Grandparents had lived, we decided to head South. Along the way, we made several stops including the Corvette museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, and a winery in Monteagle, Tennessee.
The truth is, though, I was very excited to get home! I love my best buddy and wanted lots of hugs and kisses from him.
My buddy Mason missed me, too. He met me and Mommy at the door and was all smiles.
There really is no place like home.
On Friday morning I left for a last minute trip to Kentucky for a family reunion. The last time I went was with my late grandmother 10 years ago. I really wanted to see my Bomba’s home and to spend time with family, and Mike encouraged me to go.
I left just as Mike was loading up the kids for preschool. We stood together and prayed for safe travel, then Mason handed me his beloved Reindeer Baby. “I don’t need this, mama. You do.” I cried and promised to bring Reindeer Baby home safely.
So, here are the great adventures of the very popular Reindeer Baby:
We traveled the back roads of Tennessee. It was a long day, but we finally made it to Paw Maw, home of the famous WWI hero, Sgt. Alvin C. York. The movie about his life is one of Mommy’s and Granddaddy Mitch’s favorites!
We loved the beautiful park which featured the York family mill. Here I am with Mommy and her Uncle Jerry.
Even a refreshing swim at Sgt. York’s mill could not change the fact that we were tired. It was sure great to see the Kentucky state line.
The next morning, we went to the family reunion. Afterwards, a Moxley cousin drove us around showing us family landmarks. We even got to see the farm where Mommy’s great-great-grandfather Moxley used to live in Casey County, Kentucky. It’s for sale.
To be continued….
On Friday, we took the kids to the 2012 Watermelon Festival Kick-Off dinner at the Opera House to get their trophies for winning the baby photo contest. We got there literally as they were calling Miss Julia’s name. It was crowded, so we snuck over into a corner for the remainder of the presentation and visited with the Browns.
Mason was very excited to get his trophy. He is not the attention-seeker that Miss Julia is, but he had a rough week of change. I think it did him good to be praised.
Miss Julia was more focused on the Watermelon Pageant queens sitting near us. Like Suzanne Sugarbaker, she set her eyes on those crowns and would not take them off! Lord have mercy, I see a future in the pageant circuit ahead of us! One of the girls, Kaitlin Jackson, was sweet enough to pick Miss Julia up and play with her. It was adorable watching them together.
I tried to get a picture of both babies with their trophies, but this is the best that I could do.
I have no idea how, in all the times I’ve been to Atlanta, I have never visited the World of Coke! This is especially bizarre since it is pretty much my favorite product on the face of the Earth, ever!
After Julia’s meltdown at the American Girl store, Mike was nervous about another public outing with her; however, after breakfast on Sunday, traffic was amazingly light and the weather perfect. We did not want to rush home, so we decided to give it a try.
We had absolutely no expectations about the World of Coke, but we were pleasantly surprised. The staff was friendly and accommodating, and the exhibits were exceptionally well done. I am teaching about WWII now and learned some great facts about Coke’s contributions to our troops.
The kids were entertained throughout and were well-behaved. Our favorite part was the tasting room. It was hilarious watching everyone’s faces as they sampled exotic flavors from around the world. I let Mason and Jules taste a few, too, and then Mason got to pick out our complimentary bottles from the conveyor belt.
We had a great time and I highly recommend this landmark if you are planning a trip to Atlanta.
Miss Julia Dressed in Her Coke-Cola Red
Here are some more pictures from our family’s recent trip to Amelia Island.
My niece Samantha and her boyfriend David dropped by the first night we were there. I used to take care of Sam when she was a baby, and it blows my mind that she is in college now! Miss Julia looks so much like her when she was little. Genes are amazing things.
Then Charlotte Nelson and her daughter and precious grandbabies came over for an entire day. They are family, and I love watching Mason and Walker play.
On Thursday night my best friend Krissy and her family met Mike and me for dinner in historic downtown Fernandina. My mom watched the babies so that we could enjoy a dinner out. Afterwards, Mike and I strolled downtown, enjoying ice cream from Fantastic Fudge. Perfection!
One thing I had forgotten about–salt air does not like my hair. When I worked one semester at Amelia Island Plantation in college, I cut my hair really short, almost in a pixie, because I could not get my stringy mop to cooperate. Having bad hair is worth the wonderful breeze and sounds of the beach, however. My sinuses even enjoyed a little break from the Tallahassee crud.
I am a little late posting about our recent vacation, but it was wonderful and worth sharing! Mike made all the plans, and all I had to do was pack for our family. We spent four days in a beach-front condo in Fernandina Beach, an area I consider home.
My dad and Uncle Mike kept Jackson and Molly for us while we were over that way. It was nice not to have to worry about them. And Steve checked in on Sadie Mae.
The kids had an absolute blast! The weather was perfect, and the water was just cold enough that we did not have to worry about them diving in. We fished, went out to eat, shopped, explored, swam, flew a kite, and visited with family and friends.
Charlotte and Cheri brought over Mason’s “best friend” Walker and his new brother Blake one day to play. My niece Samantha and her boyfriend David stopped in for a low country boil, and my beautiful friend Krissy, her husband Noah and their daughter Taylor met us for dinner one night while my mom kept the kids. Can I tell you that nothing is more beautiful than historic downtown Fernandina at night! Except, of course, watching the sunrise over the ocean while snuggling with your sweetie.
Life is great.