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Hello 30's

on
Thursday, December 31, 2015
I turned 30 yesterday. And you know what it feels like? Pretty much just like 29. Funny how that works. My body has not failed me and I have not had the sudden need to start wearing my pants high, white keds or switch my multivitamin (wait...are you supposed to take those?) to Centrum Silver.

I have gotten to celebrate the milestone a couple times already with family as we did our Christmas celebrations and got to spend my entire birthday yesterday with some of my favorite people on a fun adventure in Nashville. We played...and ate...all day long. And it was perfect. Ann was able to come with us for our day of fun.


The day started early. We all piled into the car and headed out just after 8:00 and made a quick stop in Franklin for a craigslist deal. Then it was on to our first stop...brunch at the Pfunky Griddle. I've been wanting to check this place out because it is such a cool concept. Griddle cooktops built right into the center of the tables so you can make your own pancakes with toppings and eat them straight from the griddle. Seems like a good birthday treat.






We all picked our toppings and ended up switching and sharing them all around. Between us we were circulating M&Ms, sprinkles, peanut butter, banana, berries, and pecans. Can you guess which two were P's choices?

It was so fun. We left so full and happy and ready to go play off some of those carbs and calories.

Next stop was the Gaylord Opryland Hotel to see Ice! the huge exhibit made from 2,000,000 pounds of ice sculpted beautifully into scenes and characters from the nutcracker. It was spectacular. And it was cold. When the website says they keep it at 9 degrees and you should wear layers like you were preparing to be in Alaska....believe them. And believe me there is not enough clothes in the southerner's closet to prepare you for hanging around in 9 degree weather. They do give you big, long parkas to help cut the cold and keep you dry. We also came with gloves and scarves and ear muffs and jackets. And couldn't feel our extremities by the end. Totally worth it though.





Loved seeing all the pretty sculptures and sliding down slides sculpted from ice. The ice slide room had 4 slides, three big and one small child one. Perry slid down the little one 3 times all on his own. He got braver and faster each time. He loved it.




Andrew and I also went down the big ones once. It was super fun. Just proving being 30 is fun!

Outside the Ice! exhibit was a little train going round and round. And if you know Perry you know he hasn't met a train he hasn't loved, and really really wanted to ride. So we figured we had time, and $3, so we let him (and me) go for a spin. Loved that little train ride and fun goof off time with my boy. He just lights up the world.


We also walked over the hotel for a little while to gaze at the pretty decorations and continue to walk off those breakfast carbs.

Then we were hungry again of course so we went to The Pharmacy Burger Parlor for a little late lunch/early dinner. We picked really yummy, but popular, restaurants so both places we had to wait about 30 minutes to be seated which was no big deal. We had our fill of yummy burgers and sides and even got to try real old school phosphates.

After that we headed home after a really full and fun day. We all dozed a little on the way home except Andrew who was driving...cause that would be bad. It was a perfect birthday playing with my people. Bring it on 30...I'm ready for you.

Take me out to the ol' (foot) ball game

on
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Things are going to be a little schizophrenic here on the blog for a while as I try to play catch up from the last couple months...and keep up with current life so that I don't just live in a perpetual 3 months behind status on here. So bear with me. We have been busy so there is lots to share.

Perry and I spent today in Birmingham for the Birmingham Bowl. Auburn finished this football season a not so respectable 6-6 and we were lucky to be invited to any bowl. You don't really aspire to be playing in Birmingham before New Years in a very old (but they say historic to make it sound fancy) stadium, but the silver lining is that it is close by and easy to spectate.

Andrew had to work today so me and P got up at the crack of dawn and trekked down to the 'Ham for the game. We had tickets to the pre-game alumni breakfast (because that's the sure fire way to have a nice place to eat and a chance to meet Aubie) so we were up bright and early.

Breakfast did not disappoint. We had a walled tent to block us from the drizzle happening outside, food, and entertainment from the Auburn Marching Band, Cheerleaders, and Aubie.




After breakfast we played a little bit in the fan zone and headed into the stadium to find some decent general admission seats. Which we did...right up at the top of the lower section so we had concrete to rest our tired backs on. Things were wet inside the stadium so we did our best to dry off the bleachers and got settled in.



The game had highs and lows (I'm talking about you 3 interceptions). Thankfully the highs won out and Auburn solidly won 31-10. Rain wasn't actually that much of a problem, it drizzled off and on and we kept ponchos on, but we ended the game dry and happy.

pre-game

post-game


Memphis fans were not so happy. Must say they were a pretty disgruntled bunch as a whole. They boo'd. A lot. And at some point, maybe end 3rd quarter, someone(s) thought it would be a good idea to start the wave in the stadium. Well what happened when the wave got to the royal blue section? Nothing. At all. The wave skipped right over those curmudgeons. Also can I just say our tiger is so much better than theirs. Aubie wins that hands down. I am sure there are some really sweet Memphis fans out there...but they were overshadowed. Icing on the cake was the idiot player that decided to come over and field tackle an Auburn equipment manager after the game to steal a game ball and run away. I assume we got our ball back...and he was promptly dismissed from the team. Craziness.

Perry did great through the game. And the hour it took to then get out of the parking lot. We grabbed a bite to eat and headed home and he has been asleep ever since. Poor boy was totally wiped out after a full day of Auburn football fun.

And with that we have a winning record. And we will take it and move on to next season and a blank slate. War Eagle Always!

Yes we are alive, and more importantly Jesus is too

on
Sunday, December 27, 2015
I don't even know where to begin about the last few months. Fall never fails to be the busiest season of our lives, at work and at home and I have been totally remiss in my blogging.

We survived our first Christmas without Grandaddy. We jokingly have said "well at least we will get that over with pretty quick." This season also comes with it a whole bunch of family birthdays...Kate in mid November and then Emily and I clustered around Christmas and Perry not far behind on January 3. We have had a lot of activity which has kept us busy and distracted, but we have a lot of family times where we are also very aware of what (who) is missing.

We have been focused even more than ever this Christmas I think on the real reason that we celebrate and the reason we have hope despite earthly sadness. A little boy born in a manger who took away our sins and sealed our home for eternity. And that is worth celebrating. We indeed did have a Merry Christmas and I hope your family did too!


I am out of work this week (hallelujah) and hopefully will have a little more margin to blog and clean up the house from the wrecking ball that is the holidays and get some much needed party planning done for a certain almost 3 year old. We have also got some fun adventures planned to Nashville and Birmingham. And I don't even want to talk about the fact that I am no longer going to be "in my 20s" as of Tuesday. Nope. Not going to think about it.

Rest Sweet Granddaddy

on
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Our beloved dad and granddaddy got to meet his beloved Jesus last night. Gary’s hard fought battle with cancer has come to an end and he is now cancer free, pain free and resting in the arms of his Savior. We are oh so thankful for the time we were given with him on this earth, more time than was predicted when he was diagnosed 30 months ago, and know that we will see him again one day in Heaven.

Our hearts are heavy and we are grieving. But we are rejoicing in the place we know he now finds himself and that he has found much earned peace and rest. The place around his hospital bed over the past few days was filled with a lot of tears alongside laughter and sweet moments.

We covet your prayers as we walk through the days and weeks ahead, that we will feel the arms of Jesus wrapped around us and that we can be a light and show the hope and joy we have that can only come through Him.

“Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Luke 2:14



Mickey's Not So Scary 2015

on
Monday, December 7, 2015
Our trip ended with a bang with a night of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party. It was not a perfect night in that in rained off and on the whole time. Thankfully we got in the park and got some pictures of our Neverland selves before the rain began.


We hit up a couple Magic Kingdom fastpasses first: Jingle Jungle Cruise, Mine Train, and Pirates was the line up. While Andrew and I took turns riding mine train the other parent helped Perry eat some candy can soft serve.


We decided to grab a bite to eat as it began to downpour, so we missed the majority of the bad rain. And beat the rest of the crowds to a restaurant table. After dinner we did a little bit of character meeting. This is where the weather really impacted things. So many of the special characters that are out during the holiday parties meet outside and can't meet when it is raining. So none of that was happening until late in the night (which then made lines reallllly long when they did come out). So we focused on the indoor characters like ariel and Tinkerbell.


Tinkerbell loved our little Perry Pan. They had a good long interaction about shadows and Peter. She was very concerned that he was walking around with Hook and Smee.



We took a spin on Dumbo and then found a place atop the Main Street train station to watch the parade. Partly for the view and partly to escape the misty weather outside. The pictures are not great due to said mist, but the parade went off anyway. It is always a fun one!



By this point Perry's fleece costume was just a bit much so we changed into some much cooler clothes before doing a little more park exploring.


Our evening ended with Hallowishes fireworks which is spectacular. Slightly less spectacular looking when it has been raining and the air is thick. It was hard to see through the fog. The firework booms and the music was impressive as ever though. Here's a little video snippet. Pictures turned out just terrible with all the smoke and fog.


And with that, that is a recap of our incredible Fall 2015 Disney vacation. We were gone 10 nights in all and had a blast every minute of it. 

Now back to regular blog programming, of which there is lots to catch up on with Halloween and Thanksgiving and lots of other fun stuff. Thanks for putting up with a month of nothing but Disney. :)

It's the ostrich's fault

The last real play day of our fall Disney vacation was spent at Animal Kingdom in the morning, some rest time in the afternoon and then a full afternoon and evening at Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween Party. First up: Animal Kingdom.


And first order of business was a ride on the Safari followed by a bite to eat and some parental riding of Expedition Everest. Safari took longer than expected. Apparently a disgruntled ostrich was stubbornly standing in the road not wanting to move. Thats when you know you are on a real safari with wild animals. We got to see plenty of animals thought!


While Andrew faced the roller coaster yeti I took Perry to go play some midway games in Dino Land. There was nearly no one there and it turned out to be a magical moment. The cast members let him "practice" playing the games without paying anything and upon moderately successful completion even gave him stuffed animal prizes. Perry was so proud of his stuffed dinosaur and turtle, which he has named Jack and Shelly respectively. He sleeps with them to this day. 


Our Animal Kingdom time ended with lunch at Tusker House with Donald, Mickey, Daisy, and Goofy. Loved the food and seeing the characters in their safari wear. 



Then it was time to head back to the hotel for some rest time before a big night ahead at MNSSHP.

Pirate and Pals Fireworks Voyage

Ok. Time to finish off that Disney trip that happened a month ago. lol. Just a couple more fun experiences to get through. We were super excited to try out the Pirate and Pals Fireworks Voyage on this trip. It's a little tough to book because you have to do it over the phone by calling the recreation line and it doesn't open up at a super predictable time window before your trip. It is around 180 days, but they open up periodically with big chunks of days at a time so you have to just keep calling until they have opened it up. But we eventually snagged a spot.

It was a great night. It departs from the Contemporary Resort which was just a short monorail ride away for us. When you arrive you get checked in and wait for them to open the doors to the party room. Which held a multitude of food and drinks for you to snack on. All healthy things like cake, cotton candy, ice cream bars, popcorn, etc, etc.


Hook and Smee also arrived to the party for some meet and greet action.


After we were sufficiently full of junk food we all boarded our boats to go out and see the fireworks. There were two boats (with namesakes Hook and Smee) with a pirate captain for both who led the way, told stories and sang songs while we boated our way out in front of the Magic Kingdom. I have heard from others that this particular experience gets some of the best positioning out in the water for fireworks viewing.




The fireworks were awesome and they pipe the music into the boat. Pictures just don't do it justice. Here is a little video snippet too:



After fireworks ended we made our way back to the Contemporary dock where we were met by a crowing Peter Pan. He helped lead the way off the boat and stuck around for a little pier side meet and greet too. Perry was so excited to meet Peter Pan again.


It was an incredible night. And a pretty good value for all you get: food, boat, fireworks, entertainment and meet and greets with Hook, Smee and Pan. Certainly has more to offer than lots of the other in park fireworks experiences that have been popping up all over the place down at Disney.

Surviving a Magic Kingdom afternoon

on
Monday, November 30, 2015
We generally avoid afternoons in Disney Parks during the crowded heat of the day like the plague. We go early...very early...and tour hard until lunch and then take a good break during the crazy part of the day.

Well by the time we made it to the Poly and got checked into our room it was nearly lunch time. Since we only had two days in Disney World we were not going to miss out on some play time so we boarded the monorail and headed to the Magic Kingdom during peak hours.


Walking into the park and seeing the castle at the end of Main Street just never gets old. And given it was September, the park was all dressed up in it's Halloween best. Pumpkins. Everywhere.

As long as you have good expectations and know what you are doing...it is totally survivable. We pretty much went in expecting that we would get to ride three big rides thanks to pre-assigned fast passes and then we would just ride small rides with low waits. And it worked. Thankfully Perry thinks the TTA people mover is as thrilling as Space Mountain. lol.

We rode the TTA over and over and it is now known as the "Mickey mover" by Perry. Andrew and I traded off and did get to ride Space Mountain with a fastpass. We also had fastpasses for Peter Pan and Haunted Mansion I think. Something like that. We also did some general wandering and photo taking and being silly in gift shops.


Perry had not napped all day so he eventually passed out in the stroller. We wanted to get out of the heat so we went to go meet Donald and Goofy in their air conditioned spot. Donald was quite amused at the toddler sleeping in his stroller.


We have done Disney enough that we can do little short jaunts in the park without getting overwhelmed and frustrated that we can't get it all in. We know we can't. So we pick some things we want to do and then just spend the rest of the time being immersed in the culture.

We didn't stay in the park too long. We had a very special night ahead aboard the Pirates and Pals fireworks cruise. 

Updated Polynesian Village Resort

When we disembarked the boat in Orlando we boarded a bus to the Polynesian which would be our home away from home for the next two nights. It definitely helped temper the "cruise is over" blues knowing we had a couple more days of Disney fun in store.

We are Disney Vacation Club members which means we can stay on WDW property on our points. Our home resort is Animal Kingdom Lodge which is beautiful, but we are having fun using our points elsewhere as well and exploring all the different DVC properties.

We were so stoked when we came off the waitlist to get our two night stay at the Polynesian Village. Because number one it is on the monorail and number two it is finishing up a long renovation and the rooms are all new and shiny.

The lobby of the Great Ceremonial House is stunning and has the coolest lanterns hanging from the ceiling. The area is all opened up now and you can literally see Cinderella's castle through the back windows when you walk in.


We didn't take nearly enough pictures of the resort. To busy just taking it all in. We loved the DVC studio rooms. First off they have two bathrooms. In a standard hotel room. One has a bath, sink and toilet. The other has a shower and a sink. Awesome for getting multiple people bathed and ready to go at night or in the morning.



The rest of the room is beautiful but pretty typical of what you can expect from a DVC studio. I love what they have done with the new color palettes to lighten up the furnishings and linens.



Except there is the cutest little pull down bed under the TV. Perfect for a Perry-sized human (or even a bigger kid). Perry loved having a bed of his own that appeared from the wall. It has a sweet Lilo and Stich theme painted on the side and a little light that the child can control.



P was a fan. I heard him fall out once, but he climbed right back in bed without waking up. We told him not to get used to that level of freedom because he is still sleeping in a crib at home.

Despite one bad night of transportation...where the boats and monorail were backed up till Kingdom come...we loved our brief stay at the Poly.

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