February 28, 2012

Our Doll

Yesterday I got a package in the mail that I had been eagerly anticipating. It was the headbands I ordered for baby girl and I. Pink feathers on a stretchy headband for the girl and white feathers on a thin white metal band for me. I had ordered them from Two Little Wrens on Etsy.

Honestly it was a little like Christmas when I saw that the package had arrived. I threw on the first dress that matched her new pink headband and stepped outside to take pics. I was so excited! Unfortunately, the boy was wearing pajama pants when I stepped outside and because apparently he knew not to go outside in PJs, he took them off and put shoes on, nothing else, just shoes. Yup. He stepped outside wearing nothing but his Buzz Lightyear underwear and a pair of crocs. Since we were in the front yard and that's not how we roll, I had to redirect him inside and upstairs to his room to get some real clothes on. He came back out in a pair of jeans that were at least two sizes too small and on backwards but my window for pics with the girl is always so small, I didn't care. While he rode his tricycle in front of our house, I got to play with our little doll...

Here she is......

February 27, 2012


Normally, I'm not one to post twice in a day but I was looking at the calendar and it dawned on me that Joshua left for deployment a year ago today. He left for training and although we saw him for a few days in March and the boy saw him again in June for a few days (I was too pregnant to travel) before he left the country, it's been a year since he's lived at home. I don't really know what to say and I'm not entirely certain why I thought I should blog about it which is odd for me because I usually only blog when I have a clear idea in mind or I need to vent. Neither is the case today. I'm not upset by the fact that it's been a year. I don't have any pearls of wisdom. It just seemed like it was something that shouldn't go by without at least an acknowledgement. It has been both the hardest year of my life but not entirely bad. I feel closer to Joshua than before he left. We have a beautiful daughter who was born healthy and happy. Our son is thriving. I feel weird saying it but it's been a good year. Of course, every single good moment was bitter sweet. It's been a year. We're almost done.

Disney World Value Resorts

We're continuing our series on Disney World Resorts. Check out last week's post you're looking for information on staying off property (specifically the Shades of Green military family resort) or you want a balanced look at the pros and cons of staying at a Disney owned and operated resort.

This week we're going to cover Disney World's Value Resorts. In case you're new to this whole world of Disney vacation planning, Disney World divides their resort properties (hotels...not to be confused with the proper, full name of Disney World which is Walt Disney World Resort) into value, moderate and deluxe categories. Just to make things complicated, there are also DVC (Disney Vacation Club) resorts which is a timeshare sort of program we'll cover later.

Value resorts are the most economical rooms. They're also the smallest and usually the busiest of the resorts-often hosting larger groups like the annual cheerleading competition families and coaches. They're set up sort of like a motel with the room doors facing the outside rather than inside a hotel lobby or hallway. The amenities include pizza delivery, luggage delivery (hourly), food courts, pools and of course Disney transportation. 

The value resorts include the original All-Star series...the All-Star Movies, All-Star Music and All-Star Sports resorts. The All-Star Resorts are all full of huge icons like Buzz and Woody, a giant jukebox and even Goliath-sized football helmets. One of the most common criticism of the All-Star resorts is that all three often share the same buses...so that when you board a Disney bus at the parks to go back to your resort, you may have to stop at two other resorts before finally making it to your stop. Usually at the end of the night and all day during busier times of year, the buses are separated by resort. I can't speak to whether or not this is really an issue because as an adult, I've only stayed at the All-Stars once and we used our own vehicle. 

In addition to the All-Star resorts, Disney has a fourth value resort named Pop Century. It has five sections divided by decades from the 50's to the 90's with each section themed with giant icons like rubix cubes, yo-yos and bowling pins. Originally, earlier decades were to be built across the hourglass lake with a bridge that was to be named the "Generation Gap Bridge" but instead Disney built their most recent Disney Resort, the Art of Animation...now taking reservations for late 2012 vacations. 

The Art of Animation is Disney's response to the need of larger families to have an economic place to stay on property. There are family suites in the All-Star Music Resort but not many so Disney dedicated over 1,100 rooms at the Art of Animation resort to family suites. Here's a list of the differences between standard rooms and suites in the value resorts...

Standard rooms have approximately 260 square feet each...Suites are about twice that

Standard rooms hold 4 people (and one child under 3)...Suites can hold 6 people (and one child under 3)

Standard rooms range from $92-194/night...Suites range from $199-375/night

Standard rooms have...
-either two double beds or a single King
-in-room wall safe
-32" TV
-ironing board
-vanity area with one sink and a separate bathroom area with toilet and tub/shower
-bedrails and pack n plays are available free of charge upon request (it's a good idea to call ahead and request it so that you don't arrive to nothing)
-mini-refrigerators are also available upon request for a fee...$10.60 (with tax) per night

Suites have...
-separate living room and "master" bedroom
-both rooms have a 27" TV
-the master bedrooms have a queen size bed and desk
-the living rooms have a sofa that opens to a double bed and a chair/ottoman that each open to a single bed
-kitchenette with an under the counter refrigerator (much larger than the mini you can add to a standard room), microwave, sink and coffee maker
-two bathrooms-each like the standard room's bathrooms...a vanity area with one sink each and a separate toilet and tub/shower

In the end, the value resorts are well-themed, well-staffed and a great place to stay if you're a family on a budget...especially if it's your first time to Disney World because chances are you'll spend most of your time in the parks and just use the resort to sleep, clean up and change clothes. If, however, you have very small children and you KNOW they will not sleep in their strollers in the parks, be aware that the value resorts are all some of the furthest away from the parks-up to twenty minutes by bus so an afternoon nap at the resort will really cut into your time in the parks. It's doable but it's something you should consider. 

On a personal note, I've stayed in value resorts both as a kid and as an adult. I remember playing in the All-Star Sports pool as a kid and it never crossed my mind that I was missing out because the value pools don't have slides like the moderate and deluxe resort pools. I wasn't big into sports but I thought the resort was "so cool!" because of all the huge icons. The thing I remember most about that trip was walking down Main St in Magic Kingdom and I don't think that would have changed if we had stayed somewhere with more amenities. As an adult, I've found Pop Century to be my favorite of the values (although I'm excited to check out the Art of Animation Resort soon!). 

Finally, if you're a large family, consider booking two standard value rooms instead of just one suite. It's the same amount of space, basically the same amenities (minus the kitchenette) and you can request adjoining rooms...we've done this countless times when we went with friends and family and although they won't ever guarantee the request, we have never been disappointed. It would hold 8 people plus two children under 3 (one in each room) so if your family's too big for the suites but on a budget that prohibits the larger Disney Villas, two standard value rooms might be the best option for you!

Next week we'll cover Moderate Resorts...including our personal favorite, Port Orleans Riverside!

February 21, 2012


I wouldn't necessarily say it took having a daughter for me to fully embrace all things girly but it certainly hasn't hurt. 

Tonight has been full of fun girly-ness. First, one of my favorite friends had her gender ultrasound today and they found out they're having another girl! Super excited for her!

Then, since I was in a "retail therapy" sort of mood, I bought the CUTEST hair accessory for our little princess from an awesome Etsy seller.

(this is the one I bought)

(this is the seller's image of what it looks like on a baby that might just be the second cutest baby I've ever seen)

Of course, now I have to post a pic of my little princess because she is the cutest baby ever (my apologies to our son but really...I'm not wrong)...
(this was her at the pediatrician last week...it's a cell phone pic so it's not the best but don't you just want to snatch her up!!!...don't even think about trying to though because her big brother will take you out)

Since I was buying something fun for the girl, I went ahead and bought one for me too and decided to coordinate with my little girl...
(it's a bit hard to tell with the background being white too but the headband itself is much thinner than the baby one so I can curl my hair and have it down or put it up)

Can you say homecoming ceremony?


Ok. In related girly news, my favorite blogger (and one of my favorite real life friends) JG from Me and My Soldierman posted an AWESOME response to that ridiculous pic going around facebook of the Disney Princesses and all the supposedly negative things they teach with her own version which I love and had to steal...

February 20, 2012

Disney Resorts...on-property vs off-property & Shades of Green

One of the biggest expenses and first decisions you need to make with a Disney World Vacation is where you decide to stay. So this week we're starting a series covering the many options.

First, let's talk about Disney-owned versus non-Disney resorts. Often referred to as the "on-property versus off-property" decision but that's a bit of a misnomer because there are a handful of resorts that are technically on Disney property but are not owned or operated by Disney employees. The one resort that falls into this quasi-Disney category that I think most of you who read my blog regularly would be interested in is the Shades of Green...aka the military resort. It is an AFRC (Armed Forces Recreation Center) and as such requires a military ID and current LES print out upon check in. Price-wise the Shades of Green nightly fees are based on military or civilian grade (in addition to active duty, Guard and Reserve members, some DoD employees and foreign military service members are eligible to stay). To make a reservation you can either go to the Shades of Green website or just call 1-888-593-2242. Although, Shades of Green is not owned or operated by Disney their guests can still enjoy some of the same perks of staying at a Disney-owned and operated resort. Speaking of which, below are a list of the benefits to saying at a Disney-owned resort.

*Package delivery...when you buy a souvenir in the parks but don't want to carry it around all day, you can have Disney send it (FOR FREE) back to your resort's gift shop

*Extra Magic Hours...every day ONE park will EITHER open an hour early OR stay open up to three hours late only for resort guests (Shades of Green guests are eligible for this perk...they are the ONLY non-Disney-owned resort guests eligible for extra magic hours)

*Disney's Magical Express...if you fly into Orlando International Airport (from another airport within the continental US) and stay at a Disney-owned resort, Disney will mail you luggage tags a few weeks before your trip to attach to all your checked luggage so that when you arrive in Orlando, all you have to do is get on a bus. A couple hours after you arrive, your bags will be delivered to your room. This is FREE resort amenity offered, just be sure to let Disney know your flight itinerary if you don't book your airfare with your Disney package 

*Free parking at all Disney Parks...otherwise it's currently $14/day but if you hop from one park to another, the original fee is all you pay...one price per day regardless of how many parks (Shades of Green guests are eligible for free parking at Disney parks with a valid SoG guest ID)

*Disney's internal transportation system...they'll bus you from your resort to any of the parks. The buses come frequently enough that, in our experience, it's been rare to wait more than 10 or 15 minutes for a bus and usually it's closer to 5 minutes. There's also the monorail between Epcot, Magic Kingdom and the transportation/ticket center as well as boats to and from Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney for resorts along the water way (Shades of Green and many other "off-property" resorts also have a busing system to get their guests back and forth from their resort to the parks)

*Disney Dining Plan is ONLY available to resort guests staying at Disney-owned and operated resorts. Also, it is offered from time to time as a FREE package inclusion for their guests which can certainly offset the additional cost of staying at a Disney resort. To be honest, the dining plan is probably the biggest reason we stay at Disney-owned resorts. Whether or not it's included as a free package inclusion, it's just really convenient to go and know we don't have to budge X amount of money per day for food...it's already been taken care of

*Convenience. It might sound silly but when you stay at a Disney-owned resort, everything can be on your "Key to the World"...it's your room key, your dining card (if you are on a Disney Dining Plan), your charge card (if you decide to add charging options to it-not required and not recommended on kid's cards) and during extra magic hours, it's how you show you're a Disney resort guest

There are only three real downsides I can see to staying at a Disney-owned and operated resort. 
1-Price. You can almost certainly get the same amount of space/amenities...if not more, for less than you will pay for a Disney-owned and operated resort. 
2-Inconvenience to other non-Disney parks like Universal Studios or Sea World. Unless you bring your own vehicle or rent a car, you'll pay a significant fee for taxi service to another non-Disney park. 
3-Finding someplace to stay if you have a large family. There are suites for families of six or less, some villas in the DVC resorts can hold those extra large families ($$$!) and you can always book multiple rooms but Disney really doesn't have many options especially for larger families on a budget.

In the end, it comes down first to what you can afford as a family and then what you want. Staying "on-property" certainly has it's perks and rooms start around $100/night but if you're a larger family or a family on a tighter budget, staying "off-property" might be a better fit. One of my favorite planning sites, Allears.net has a list of preferred "off-site" properties with some great discounts.

Over the next few weeks, we'll cover your various Disney Resort options starting next week with Disney Value Resorts.

February 16, 2012


Normally I'm not a fan of just whining blog posts but yeah, basically this is just going to be a big ol' vent about today because today kicked my butt.


I had my annual lady exam...that's always fun.

I found out I'm anemic. Again.

I tried to take a nap...failed.

The boy broke a window. I knew it was only a matter of time but really I thought he'd be a little older than three and a half. Thankfully, it was our window and so I don't have to pay for someone else's window AND bake something as an apology for my crazy child. In his defense, it wasn't malicious and I'm actually pretty impressed with his engineering abilities but that's a pretty long story in and of itself. Anyway, I bought some plastic and tape and did the best I could to "fix" it until I either have someone come and replace it or Joshua comes home and does it himself. Thankfully it was just a smaller window in an alcove in his room that faces the backyard.

The girl was running a low grade fever all day and not napping...whether from a vaccine yesterday or teething I have no idea (please no emails or comments on the merits or evils of vaccines...we've made our choices and we respect yours whatever they are).

After hours of low grade fever/no napping delirium, I decided to give the girl a little tylenol. I opened it in the kitchen, measured the correct amount and since the boy was napping upstairs, I left the bottle open and unattended to take it to the girl. On my way back to the kitchen to clean up and put the medicine away, I stopped at the bathroom which apparently gave our dog just enough time to knock the bottle over and lick up what I estimate to be about a tablespoon of children's tylenol. 

Called the vet...for the second time this week...a couple days ago he ate almost my entire box of Tagalong Girl Scout cookies...it's a miracle he's still alive today because they're my favorites and they were my last box. He'll also survive the tylenol and the vet said he didn't need to see him which is good because I'm pretty sure if I had to take the dog into the vet today after everything else, I would have had a total breakdown. 

Yeah. So, venting session over. Thanks for listening. Next post will be much less whiny I promise.

February 14, 2012

My Heart Skips A Beat

I hadn't planned on blogging today but this morning I woke up with a migraine that has made it almost impossible to do even the easiest of things. I'm not focusing well (I apologize in advance for the inevitable typos to come), I'm nauseous and have no appetite. All of which has lead to heart palpitations. Don't worry. It's normal...for me.

When I get dehydrated, overly hungry, eat too much sugar or any of about a dozen other triggers, I have palpitations. A simple head cold like what I assume I'm experiencing now can bring it all on. I have what's called SVT...or super ventricular tachycardia. Sexy, right?! In a nutshell, the electrical current is messed up and my heart skips beats, it also speeds up and pumps before it actually has a chance to fill with blood...which hurts. It's not so debilitating that I have to go to the hospital...not normally at least. There are tricks to reverse the tachycardia and ways to avoid defribulation. It's not generally considered a life-threatening condition in and of itself. It is a giant pain in the butt when I'm pregnant (which of course I'm not) but more than anything on deployment days like today, it makes me miss my husband.

He doesn't baby me when I have "an episode." He doesn't ignore me either. He knows what will make it better and he knows that I hate it. I hate being weak. I hate being broken. But most of all I hate that I did it to myself. I don't talk about it much because it's literally my heart and it's difficult to admit. I damaged my heart by not eating. Anorexia. It's not a word I like to use because it congers up images of bony, damaged girls. I'm healthy now...well, apart from my heart. I eat. I love to eat. I still don't always see myself the way I should but it doesn't stop me from making healthy choices. It's just another thing that's easier when Joshua's home. Really everything is easier. I'm more myself when I'm with him. I'm more confident. I can relax. Ironically, one of the tips my cardiologists have repeated over the years is to meditate and relax as much as possible because stress only aggravates the condition. I try but honestly, I won't fully be able to relax until he's home. He's my best friend. He makes my heart skip a beat in a good way and I miss him.

So, today, while everyone is enjoying their chocolates (and other caffeinated, overly sugary yummy stupid things that I can't have-no bitterness really) and holding their husbands, I'm holding my breath (vagal maneuver) and waiting for mine to return. A year from now I hope I remember today. I hope I remember how lucky I will be to eat chocolate and hold Joshua.

February 13, 2012

Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue

The last but certainly not least (in our opinions) of the signature dinner shows is the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue. I've already covered the Spirit of Aloha Luau and Mickey's Backyard BBQ but this week I'm going to tell you about our favorite Disney World dinner show.

The Hoop Dee Doo is one of the longest (if not the longest...can't seem to get a straight answer on that one) continuously running musicals in American history. It's a an old-fashioned, foot stomping musical comedy with buckets (literally) of food. Something like 10 MILLION people have been to the Ft Wilderness show. The show includes some audience participation and is a favorite with older kids who will be able to understand some of the jokes. The last time we went we had a 7 yr old girl, 3 yr old boy and two infants. Of course the infants had no opinions. The 3 yr old loved the food and thought the dancing and clapping was fun but after a full day in the parks, he didn't have the attention span to actually watch the show. The 7 yr old enjoyed it but was sleepy towards the end.

The show starts out with a song and as the servers take drink orders. Unlimited draft beer, sangria, wine, coffee, tea, milk, juice, lemonade and soda pop (the root beer is excellent and served in a frosted mug) are all included in the cost of the show...specialty drinks and bottled beer can be purchased separately. 

On the menu:

Bread with honey butter (so good!)
BBQ Ribs
Fried Chicken
Baked Beans
Mashed Potatoes 
Strawberry Shortcake

Something I want to point out is that although the food is served family style, you can always ask your server to bring more of one item or less of another. Our family doesn't eat pork ribs so whenever we go we just make sure to mention it and that we'll just like more chicken instead. Also, this is one of the most accommodating restaurants when it comes to a food allergy. I've seen the chefs come out personally and talk to a table to see what they can do. I have heard that it's not uncommon for the head chef to call you at home before your trip if you mention a food allergy when you make the reservation so that they can be prepared to give you something that not only works with your food allergy but also is yummy. I've see the gluten-free food (people next to us a couple years ago had a young girl with celiac's disease) and it looked great. She was served everything the rest of us got, she just had gluten-free versions served separately. 

Show Times
There are three shows nightly that each last just shy of 2 hours. Recently show times have changed and are now daily...

 Reservations are accepted 180 days in advance and although it might seem crazy to book a dinner show six months out, it really can be necessary especially in the busier times of year when the shows book up fast. 

Because the show is at Ft Wilderness, you can either get there by boat from Magic Kingdom or by vehicle (your own or Disney bus) but remember if you drive or take the bus, you will then have to take the internal bus system at Ft Wilderness from the parking lot to the pavilion. The internal bus ride will take about 10-15 minutes depending on how many stops along the way are needed for other passengers. We've never had to wait more than 10 minutes for an internal bus to  pick us up but since it can add almost half an hour to your travel time, be sure to leave the parks or your resort with enough time.

If you attend the earliest show, you'll be out early enough to hop on the ferry boat and head back to Magic Kingdom for Wishes, the nightly fireworks show in Magic Kingdom. If you opt for the second show, you might make it out in time to go to the beach at Ft Wilderness where the ferry boat docks. There are hammocks and white sand to lay out on and watch Wishes.

Any one of the three dinner show times can be purchased with either credit at at the time of booking or you can opt to use Disney Dining Credits. If you use credits, remember that the show will charge TWO table serve credits per person because it's a signature meal. If you're paying out of pocket for the show, there are three price options based on where your table will be in relation to the stage. 

Category 1 seating is directly in front, center stage and costs $67.99 for adults (10 yrs+) and $34.99 for kids (3-9 yrs).

Category 2 seating is on the sides and behind the Category 1 seating and in the center of the balcony seating and costs $62.99 for adults (10+ yrs) and $30.99 for kids (3-9 yrs)

Category 3 seating is in the balcony on the sides and costs $58.99 for adults (10+ yrs) and $29.99 for kids (3-9 yrs)

The costs listed include tax and gratuity. As always, any children under 3 may eat for free with a paying adult. 

Although Category 1 seating is not technically allowed with dining credits, we've been on a couple different occasions during slower times of year when we booked Category 2 seating with dining credits but had a table almost directly in front of the stage. A lot of that sort of thing will depend on how many people on in your party and how early you book your reservations.

One of our favorite ways to do Hoop Dee Doo is to book it for our first night...especially if we're not going to make it into the parks that day based on our travel itinerary. It's a great way to kick off a Disney World vacation and a particularly fun way to introduce Disney to anyone going with us for the first time.

February 10, 2012

Stop Stirring and Start Talking

By now, many of you have probably read a certain Army Wife from Vermont's self-admitted blog rant about the differences she sees between active Army and Guardsmen. To say it was one-sided would be kind. She relegated the entire Vermont Army National Guard to no better than uneducated, step-child status...in fact, she made it clear that they are classless, prone to PTSD, sacrifice less and aren't even "soldiers."

I'm a Guardsman's wife so I clearly am biased but as much as I'd like to return fire for fire...and I could especially considering most of her contentions were factually wrong, it's pointless. She's clearly an "upper" and it wouldn't do any good. So, I'm ignoring her and addressing the rest of the military blogging community. Instead of attacking an entire branch of the US military, why can't we have a grown up discussion over the differences. 

Every branch is different. 

Every branch makes sacrifices the others don't. 

Every branch has perks the others don't.

As a Guard family, my husband will, over the course of his career, most likely deploy less frequently than an active duty Army family. We knew that when he joined. It's one of the reasons he went Guard. Although, let's be honest, the idea that it will be four years before he deploys again is almost laughable...actually it is laughable because once he returns he's only considered non-deployable for two and a half years. And then, of course, you have to take into consideration the bill proposed by President Obama which will shrink the military 10-15% over the next ten years. When asked how the military will compensate for the inevitable troop shortage, Obama has said the federal government will rely more heavily on Guard and Reserve components. Now, if you want to talk about how Guard units are first and foremost a state militia....how they should be at home protecting the interests of the state and not abroad fighting for the federal government, that's a valid contention. That's something we can discuss. But let's be honest, that's not the current situation. Right now, Guard and Reserve units fight and die next to active duty units every day.

Another difference: PCSing. We don't. Active duty families do. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to have to pack up and move every three years. How much of a strain that must be on children and the military spouse's career. But I can also see it as an exciting way to travel the country, even the world. As a Guard family, we don't PCS to another base...in fact, we don't live anywhere near a base. The two closest military installations are both Air Force bases and each over an hour away. To make it to a monthly FRG meeting my kids and I have to drive up to three hours each way...for a meeting that generally lasts less than two hours but we do it because our every day lives are surrounded by civilians who often just don't understand and that short window every month we're with people who know what we know and feel what we feel.

Which brings me to the last difference I'm going to write about today: civilian jobs. It's true active duty guys don't come home to civilian lives. They're surrounded by the Army their entire careers. When my husband returns from his deployment, he'll go back to work for a civilian company. He'll be at a job where people won't understand why in the beginning he might flinch when there's a loud noise. We live with the knowledge that although there's legal protection for his civilian job, there's also an economic reality and a Guardsman cannot always give what a civilian can give to a civilian job. The fact is promotions can be negatively affected. It's understandable too from the employers perspective.

We constantly live in two worlds. That doesn't make us classless. That doesn't make my husband more likely to have PTSD when he returns. That doesn't make our sacrifices any less. That doesn't make us less than an active duty Army family. It makes us different. 

February 7, 2012

Sprint: The Screw-You Now Network

A couple months ago I was having trouble with my phone...actually I had been having issues with the possessed piece of crap pretty much since the moment I bought it. You may remember me venting about it but if not, basically, I was eligible for an upgrade but then Sprint changed their policies and took the upgrade away and between Joshua and I we had nothing but TERRIBLE customer service.

The ONLY reason I stayed with Sprint was because our plan just worked so great for us and really switching companies and dealing with new phone numbers and early cancellation fees for three different lines (two phones and an internet card) that all had different contract time lines seemed like an even bigger (and very expensive) pain in the butt.

And then today...while taking a nap I got a text from Sprint directing me to their website because there was an announced coverage change. I ignored it and went back to sleep because what company lowers their coverage area? That's not what they do...they expand their networks. Right? Wrong.

Sprint, I have since learned, has sold many of their towers in Oklahoma and some in Kansas to Verizon. The map is unbelievable and if you live in Oklahoma or Kansas and have Sprint, you need to be aware of the new coverage maps that will take effect March 1st. As a result we LIVE in what is about to be a roaming area. This is a problem for a couple of reasons.

A-we get our internet from Sprint and the roaming data usage max is dramatically less than 3G usage
B-we already spend WAY too much money every month with Sprint and so any overage charges would honestly be insulting
C-READ THE FINE PRINT...under the terms and conditions with Sprint, although you may think, as I mistakenly did that you aren't charged for roaming, you are...well, you are if you reach your max...meaning there's a limited amount of roaming minutes and a limited amount of roaming data allowed per phone line-obviously living in a roaming area with a deployed husband, reaching that max is going to happen all. the. time so just dropping the internet card is not an option

So in the last hour and a half I've gone from napping to contacting Sprint to cancel all three of the lines on our contract. All were canceled without an early termination fee...you bet I talked my way up the ladder to get out of that because at this stage in each of the contracts (mine was JUST renewed!) it would have cost us $790! We still have service (month-to-month I guess is what it would be called) on all three lines until we find a new provider and can "port" our phone numbers over.

Now the big question is who do we sign up with? Verizon since they're taking over the towers? T-mobile-we've had a ton of friends recommend them but what's their coverage like? And how do I sign us up?-I'm a stay at home mom...meaning no income to my name. I do have a power of attorney for my husband but I would SO much rather wait for him to come home and deal with it. Of course we're going to have to buy new phones and otterboxes. There's going to be activation fees and blah blah blah. Yeah. I'm over it. So wish I was still napping.

PS>Joshua doesn't know any of it yet! Deployment makes life so weird.

February 6, 2012

Mickey's Backyard BBQ

Our family has had the pleasure of participating in Mickey's Backyard BBQ twice so far. We love it and more importantly, our son loves it! The show includes rope tricks, country music from a live country-western band and line dancing.

Like Disney's other two dinner shows, the Spirit of Aloha Luau and the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue, the BBQ can be purchased with credits from Disney's Dining Plan or you can pay out of pocket when you make your reservations...up to 180 days in advance (highly recommended). If you're not using dining credits, the cost for the dinner show is $59.99 for adults (ages 10 and up) and $36 for children (ages 3-9). Children under 3 are welcome to share with someone else in the party. The BBQ is set up buffet style with long picnic tables around the room. 

The most important thing I can tell you about the BBQ is that unlike the other dinner shows, the BBQ seating is NOT pre-arranged...it's first come, first serve meaning that if you want a good seat, you HAVE to get there early...like REALLY early. The show starts at 6:30 but I would recommend getting to the pavilion no later than 5:30...5 would be better. Also keep in mind that the show is at Disney's Fort Wilderness resort and NOT at Wilderness Lodge (a common mix up). Once you arrive at Fort Wilderness, either by your own vehicle or by Disney bus, you'll have to use the resort's internal bus system to get to the pavilion. It WILL take longer than you expect to get there so be sure to leave early. Also, since the show is in a pavilion, there is a chance that it will be canceled due to weather. It's covered so there's some protection but just be aware of the possibility.

Don't worry about what to do to keep the kiddos busy when you arrive early...Disney has horseshoes, sidewalk chalk, hoola hoops and even some of the characters come out for meet and greets before they open up the pavilion. If it's warm/hot out they'll also serve lemonade to keep everyone well hydrated.

The biggest reason to arrive early is to get a good seat for the show but don't worry too much if you don't get a table right at the front because the best part about the BBQ is that the characters will dance with your children and not just in front of the main center stage. There are painted squares around the pavilion. Each of the squares is where the characters will all rotate and dance with kids in addition to the center area. The characters that come are Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Chip and Dale. They will NOT go table to table so be prepared to go to them. 

Warning: there will be children (and their parents) who are pushing and want to get autograph books signed-which btw, is not encouraged but they usually clear out early. There are three different "dance sets" so don't panic when the characters leave to take a break after the first set-they will come back. It's a good time to get some food and drinks. Speaking of which, the BBQ offers a couple different salads, cole slaw, beans, mac n cheese, corn on the cob, cornbread, bbq chicken, ribs, hot dogs and hamburgers. Dessert is terribly good...freezers FULL of ice cream bars. It's one of my husband favorite things. In addition to the lemonade, iced tea, beer and wine are available and included in the cost of the show. When you go to get an alcoholic drink, the table is on the far end of the pavilion, away from the other drinks and you are permitted to take two at a time but may return for more but please drink responsibly. Also, if you're on the young-ish side, you should know that the BBQ is one of only two places at Disney where I've been carded which at this point in life is a compliment but it can be a pain if you forget your ID.

One of my concerns the first year we took the boy was that he was going to be too intimidated to dance with the characters because he had only just turned two and hadn't had a whole lot of experience with things like that. He was a bit nervous but as long as we were with him, he LOVED it. Our friends went with us that year and they had two girls 8 and 6 and a 4 yr old boy who all really enjoyed it. 

This year we returned-the boy was 3yrs old. In addition to our son, our daughter (2 months) and two of their cousins (7 yr old girl and 6 month old boy) joined us. Our son (loud, typical boy) and the 7 yr old (who is a somewhat shy little girl) had a blast. As for the babies, our daughter slept through most of it because we had a table closer to the back and the 6 month old surprisingly loved it and refused to miss any of it by sleeping. We were able to nurse both babies at the show without a problem (although we both used nursing covers).

The show technically ends at 8pm but you're free to leave whenever you are done. It's a very laid back dinner show with some really fun entertainment. I recommend it especially if you have kids in the 3-9 range.

February 1, 2012


Sunday night I had a nightmare. It wasn't a big deal really. Not even that terrifying necessarily. The thing is I have a huge fear of snakes. I've always hated them...I blame Eve. Seriously though, it didn't get better when I almost got bit by a rattlesnake while I was working and living at a backpacking ranch in New Mexico the summer after high school. I was only really saved because a friend of mine managed to push me out of the way. Anyway, there was a picture floating around facebook of a really big snake and since I'm so much of a visual person, it stuck with me and that night my dreams were filled with the giant snake.

I tossed and turned all night but I woke up and tried to brush it off. Monday night's krav maga class (a self-defense/fitness class that I recommend highly if you ever get the chance) was the perfect outlet for the stress. Only this week's class we did a drill that was difficult. There was the physically strenuous part that happens every week (my legs are still mush) but then there was a mental side to it. One of the things we did was choking drills...more accurately we worked on how to get out of a choke hold. I guess I have to back up. A long, long time ago I was on a date. It ended up being a bad situation that could have been a really bad situation. The class brought up feelings and memories that are painful and the only person I wanted to talk to about it has been unable to call or skype with me. So, I'm comforting myself with girl scout cookies and the knowledge that I did it. I fought through the class while maintaining my composure and I learned how to fight out of a choke hold. And two days later I haven't had any nightmares.