Thursday, June 30, 2011

Alexis at 22 Months!

I am just going to jump right in since I am so late on this update! Life just gets fuller and more busy everyday!

*Our sweet girl is talking so much! She can be heard clearly telling any of us to "Stop it!" when she doesn't like something. She will tell us she's sleepy or that she wants wat-ah ! (water), or for you to play with her. When she wants something she says, "I have it?" She is very polite most of the time saying "Please" and "thank you".

She still adores her "Annie's, which is what she calls The Little Einstein's. She carries those four little beat up, scratched up figurines around everywhere. It's a full-time job just making sure we don't lose them. Literally at least 90% of her day she is carrying them around! This past month, the night before we left for Florida, I gave her a little Minnie Mouse. She took one look at her, cradled her, made sweet little awww sounds, gave her kisses and just held Minnie to her face. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever seen and was definitely love at first sight! And it's been like that every since too! She goes around saying, "Minnie, Minnie, Minnie" in the cutest voice! Whenever she sees her on something she gets so excited. And she can be found carrying her Minnie with her Annie's most of the day!

*She flew to Florida for her first trip to Disney World. This was her second time on a plane and it was a lot harder this time then the Denver flight. Nice for mommy to have some help but hard for her to sit so long. She did pretty well though all things considered. And she did really well in the parks. She loved the Princesses we were able to meet and getting to meet her "Annie's" and Minnie were definitely highlights! She did not like the bus transportation though and early on started to freak out when we would board one. Most of the time it took so long to get where we were going with all the stops around our resort that she didn't have much patience for it...and really neither did I!!;0) But she liked the rides and would start pointing to them and saying "Ride!" and I would ask if she wanted to go on one and she would say "Yeah! Yay!" She also thoroughly enjoyed playing in the kid ares at the water parks, especially the one at Typhoon Lagoon!

*She loves music!!!! She dances and nods her head when she hears something she likes. She still loves Maroon 5 and starts smiling right when she hears them!

*She's wearing size 5 shoes still but moved up to a size 4 diaper for a little more room. I'm not sure how much she weighs since we haven't been to a Dr in MONTHS thanks to no ear infections as of late!! I am SO happy about that and am glad that I went with my gut to wait it out! Her clothes size is still some 9-12 months but mostly 12-18 months.

*She's a little bruiser, always falling and scratching herself up! It's been a long time since I've seen her poor little knees clear of scrapes and bruises! She wants to run so fast, and really does run so fast at times she's almost a blur, that she also falls much of that time! It makes it very hard for mommy and daddy to keep an eye on her and is especially unnerving in busy places.

*She likes to dress up already. I put a Princess dress on her from a set that I've had well before she was even born. I broke that out, put the dress and little crown on her, and she loved it! She kept everything on all morning and walked around so proudly. I think I had just as much fun (OK maybe even more!) as her! She also loves to put on bracelets and rings and anything pretty!

*She likes to play outside. She loves to swing. She tries to ride Jacob's little 3 wheel scooter. She enjoys playing in the water and she LOVES slides! If she can find one her size she will go down it over and over and over again!

*Her love for shoes has only grown. She attempts to put them on all day long....her shoes, my shoes, the boys shoes...anything she can get hold of! This past month she especially took a liking to a pair of water shoes she has. So much so that when we would try and take them off her to leave the house she would have a melt down. Most of the time we just let he keep them on...pick your battles right?

*I love that when she says "Pooh" for Winnie the Pooh, she says "Poop!"...I have no idea why she adds the extra "P" but it really is hilarious. She gets the boys and I to laugh every time!

*When the boys practice for karate she does too. So adorable seeing this tiny little girl with her arms out saying "Hiiii!!!" and counting along with them!

She is so much fun to be with. She plays so well with people and by herself. She attracts smiles and attention everywhere she goes. It's a lot of fun being Alexis Joy's mommy!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Making Disney World Possible!

I have been wanting to write the story of how we were able to plan a trip to Disney World for months now. So hoping to get this all down in one attempt!

We went to Florida 3 years ago. Craig had to attend a conference in Orlando for work and we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to tag along and finally full-fill one of my life long dreams of going to Disney World. Our house and car rental were paid for by his company. We paid for flights and Disney tickets. What I didn't bargain for was the insane heat. We ended up only having a few full days to explore the 4 main parks, 2 water parks and Disney Quest. After our 10 day stay we had hardly explored anything! I vowed we would find a way to go back in three years and "do it right" with a "real" vacation!

Fast forward 2 years and the full on planning for Operation Disney World began! I have never researched and put so much time into something before. I looked at airline tickets daily trying to find the lowest price possible. I tried to figure out how to get even more points out of our Amazon rewards card and saved them up until we had two full free flights! I started buying the kids gift cards in August to spread costs out. We had them earn other cards as part of our reward system at home so all of their spending money would be taken care of before we even left. I looked on Disney's web site daily waiting for a summer deal to pop up.....just hoping there would be one! I researched every resort on property and even looked at staying off property again. The dining research was a whole thing in itself....and then figuring that into our daily schedule once we were there...insane!!!! I had multiple books and subscribed to an awesome app where I was able to ask a ton of questions and get almost an immediate response from the very seasoned Disney World visitors. I was able to prepare for so many things that way and get more opinions on dining, resorts, what to bring, etc. Many times throughout my head was spinning from so much information!

The day I finally saw a deal for the time we were going was an awesome day!! I raced downstairs to joyfully share with Craig my findings...FREE DINING for all 6 of us for the entire length of our stay!!! Unbelievable! That would be a free sit down, quick service and snack per person, per night! The only catch was that the offer ended on June 2nd...the boys last day of school. But realizing that there would be no other offers during summer, and that we would literally be saving thousands of dollars AND that their last day was only going to be about 3 hours it wasn't hard to decide that we would be heading there on June 2nd!

Booking the airline tickets was very exciting but also stressful as well. I tried to research when they would be cheaper but tickets are so hard to predict. We had to book a layover flight since it was so much cheaper too. I would have loved a direct flight as stopping makes for a very long day of travel! Using our free ticket reward points was pretty easy and I was surprised to find that the $400 limit also covered tax and awesome! And since Alexis would still be under two years old, we ended up only paying for 3 tickets out of the SIX of us!=0) To pay for those 3 tickets I little by very little sold clothes and such on Ebay. When I went to pay for the tickets I had almost the exact amount saved up in my PayPal account which covered the costs of the remaining tickets completely! So neat!

So with all of our food, snacks and plane tickets covered that left lodging and park tickets. Craig worked very hard almost nightly for about 4 months on a side job. When the check came that almost exactly matched the rest of the costs! We were set! And when staying on Disney property, all transportation is included so there was no need for a car rental which saved us a ton!

Another great little freebie was signing up for a Disney Visa. I had been looking at the offers over the years and never signed up. Around the time I started planning I came across the best offer yet...a $100 Disney gift card just for signing up and putting any amount on the card. So Craig and I both signed up for one and received $200 in gift cards!! There was any extra spending money we would need while there! And having the card came in handy later when I found out Disney Visa cardholders could attend a special Meet and Greet with Mickey and friends and receive a FREE picture of our choice!! Double score!

One of the craziest parts of planning was figuring out where to eat for our sit down meals. With the free dining we had the amazing opportunity to eat at places we could never have afforded otherwise. At least that many of them!! Character meals alone would cost our family over $100 a pop! Crazy! and thankfully due to all the research I found that you had to make reservations for many of those places a full 180 days in advance...which in return requires a lot of planning on spreading out which park your in, which park your near if the restaurant is in a resort, etc. And trying to narrow down where to go with SO many great options was no easy task either! I had everything all lined up and called exactly 180 days in advance...and got everything I had planned for with almost the exact times I had written down! Very exciting!

We told the boys about our trip at Christmas. I wrapped a box with a paper that told them where we were going and how long we would be there! I added Disney shirts, a kids guide book, an autograph book etc. They were over the moon excited! As extra surprises I left Phineas and Ferb characters on the boys beds the night before we left and Alexis got a Minnie (which she absolutely adored and which started her Minnie Craze!) I had also ordered pins off of Ebay for the boys to trade once there. And I bought Disney Pez Dispensers for another surprise once there.

Up until the day we left I read and planned and read some more. Asked questions by the dozens and painstakingly packed our bags. After a full year of intense planning, the trip was set and we were on our way!!