A Weekend in Orlando

Basically since the day that we moved to the mainland I’ve been itching to get to Orlando to see some of our great friends that live there. Bringing the whole family just wasn’t in the cards for us right now so Alex stayed home with the two oldest and I had a getaway weekend with our baby girl. 

We flew direct from LAX on Friday morning. (Shoutout to Mimi for watching Lyla and Simon while Alex worked). Etta Rae was super into watching the activity outside. 

She was also super into my smoothie. 

Our flight was nice and uneventful, just the way we like it. Etta Rae slept for the first 2 hours while I watched a movie. She then spent the rest of the flight eating every snack that I had packed for the weekend. 

We landed, picked up our bag and walked outside just as Lisa was pulling up. The air was nice and heavy and it made me realize how much I miss the humid air in Hawaii. 

First stop was Tijuana Flats for dinner. We took our food to go and headed to Lisa and Kyle’s. We caught up while we ate and then it was straight to the shower and bed for Etta Rae and myself. 

A long day of travel wiped miss Etta Rae out because she slept for a nice six hour stretch (which she never does at home) and woke up all smiles.

We had some breakfast and got ready for our day. 

First stop was Publix to replenish our snack inventory. We found what we needed quickly and then, much to Etta Rae’s dismay, we got back in the car. She hates her car seat right now and starts fussing basically as soon as she sees it. If only she knew we were taking her to Magic Kingdom!

It was such a beautiful day to be in the parks! We hit up some of our favorites (Jungle Cruise, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh), got caught in a classic random Florida downpour, and took pictures at the purple wall.

We hopped on the Monorail and rode over to Epcot. Etta Rae was due for a nap so we strolled through the World Showcase just talking and enjoying the park. When she woke up, we spent some time in the DVC lounge and then introduced her to a classic attraction (and arguably me and Simon’s favorite) – the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros. I’m pleased to report that she loved it as much as we do and spent the ride pointing out and waving at Donald Duck. 

After the tour, we said “adios” to Epcot (see what I did there?) and hopped back onto the Monorail. This time, to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. We were lucky enough to score a last minute reservation at ‘Ohana. Ohhhh yea. 

Kyle met up with us here and, because we were early, we grabbed some drinks and headed outside to a grassy area to wait. Dinner was awesome, as usual, and we had great service too. Our server was from Hawaii and let us know that is family was from Ewa – with a house right near Hau Bush – small world! I think we both got homesick talking to each other 😉

Etta Rae loved her first ‘Ohana experience. Especially the noodles and the bread pudding. I guess we can keep her. 

After dinner, we rolled our full bellies to the car and headed back to Lisa and Kyle’s for bed. 

Sunday morning we grabbed a yummy breakfast at My French Cafe and drove over to Winter Garden for their Spring street festival. 

Winter Garden is the cutest little town! We grabbed a beer at Crooked Can Brewing Company and headed back to Lisa and Kyle’s. We had a nice, quiet afternoon. Etta Rae played with the puppies and we watched The Greatest Showman. It was my first time watching so I was excited! I enjoyed it but definitely think it was too hyped up. What did you think of it?

That evening, we headed to Yellow Dog Eats in Gotha. This is one of my brother’s favorite BBQ places and I was a little afraid that he would disown me if I was in Orlando and didn’t try it out 😉 Luckily, I was not disappointed. Soooo so tasty. A few of Lisa and Kyle’s friends joined us and it was so nice to meet them. 

Monday morning we took Etta Rae to the playground for a bit, went to Disney Springs and then picked up subs at Publix for lunch. YUM.After lunch, Lisa brought us to the airport and we made our way back to California via Salt Lake City. 

^^ Etta Rae on the last flight haha

We had such a great time visiting Lisa and Kyle and can’t wait to do it again! Hopefully with the whole family next time 🙂

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Summertime in Northern Michigan

We’ve been home from our annual Michigan trip for over a month now but am only now getting my photos uploaded. Not because of a lack of time or enthusiasm – I just wasn’t able to make it through all of them without crying! 

There are SO many photos that I want to share so I’m going to divide them into several posts. 

These are some of my favorites from around Grandpa K’s house (AKA the Chassell Castle) … 

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Favorite Toddler-Friendly WDW Attractions

Tell people you are planning on taking your toddlers to Walt Disney World and you will probably hear a lot of “Really? But they can’t ride anything.” to which I say “Ha! I beg to differ!” (except not really, I would never laugh in someone’s face like that, I’m far too polite) 😉

Sure, they weren’t lining up for the thrill rides that most adults consider the must dos of Disney, but they definitely weren’t bored. 

Here are some of our favorite toddler-friendly attractions from our recent trip to Walt Disney World broken down by park…

MAGIC KINGDOM

Pretty much everything we rode here, Lyla wanted to do again (with the exception of Pirates of the Caribbean). Our highlights were the Festival of Fantasy parade, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel and meeting Mickey Mouse at the Town Square Theatre (he talks!)

EPCOT

We had so much fun on our first day at Epcot that we decided to drop our second Animal Kingdom day and visit again! We loved Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo and Friends (and the aquariums that you can visit once you get off the ride) and Frozen Ever After but I think the real winner was the Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros in the Mexico Pavilion. Simon really took a liking to Donald Duck on this trip and every time we rode that attraction, he was dancing and laughing. So cute. 

DISNEY’S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS

When I think of Disney’s Hollywood Studios I think of lots of great shows (that my kids probably wouldn’t sit through) and the more “adult” attractions like Rock’n’Roller Coaster and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, so when I was planning our trip, I almost didn’t schedule a visit but I’m so glad that I changed my mind! I had made the kids an autograph book to take on the trip and we met a ton of characters at this park. The abundance of character meet and greets paired with Disney Junior Live on Stage and the fun Star Wars mini shows/parades throughout the day made for a great visit. We also stayed for Fantasmic (our only nighttime show of the trip) and the kids did better than I thought! Lyla thought some parts were a little scary and “too loud” but Simon loved it. 

ANIMAL KINGDOM

As I mentioned above, we originally had two days planned at this park but ended up dropping the second day in exchange for another day at Epcot. I don’t regret our decision at all, but unfortunately because we thought that we were returning to DAK, we didn’t hit up a lot of (ok, any) of the attractions that I thought the kids would love. No safari, no Festival of the Lion King, no Finding Nemo the Musical. It was our first full day at Walt Disney World. We only spent a few hours in the park with our friends who live locally but we still had a great time. The park is so beautiful and the kids were excited to be doing something besides sitting on airplanes for hours and hours. I did grab a couple of Fast Passes for Expedition Everest so that the big boys could ride, it looks like they had a good time 😉

 

So there you have it! Our favorite toddler-friendly Walt Disney World attractions. Are any of these on your favorites list?

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Strawberry Fields Forever

On our recent trip to Michigan, we spent one morning at a local farm picking strawberries with my grandma. Lyla wore a pair of my old overalls and picked berries like a pro. The sun stayed behind the clouds, leaving us nice and comfortable. We joked, we worked, we tasted sweet berries (shhhh, don’t tell). It really was a special morning and I found myself holding back tears numerous times. My grandma must have felt it too because she kept telling me to make sure I grabbed some photos, so I did. I’ll let them do the rest of the talking…

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