epic adventure: animal kingdom

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Our first day in the Disney Parks was Animal Kingdom. It used to be Magic Kingdom always, but I think the crowd calendar or dining reservations or something factored into my decision to start with a different park this time. It was a fun, but short day, even though Animal Kingdom stayed open until 8pm that day.

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We got there and immediately headed over to the dinosaur section, where we hopped on to Primeval Whirl and Triceratops Spin. Aidan was excited to ride Dinosaur again. That ride is fun but it has a lot of jump scares which I am not a fan of, but I’ll take that over Tower of Terror any day (which I used to LOVE).

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He didn’t want to see the Finding Nemo show (“I don’t like musicals”) but I dragged him to The Festival of the Lion King because I wasn’t going to miss it. He liked it. We ate Pizzafari for lunch, went on the safari, and took the train over to the Conservation Station where I made him hold the elephant poop.

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We watched the Flights of Wonder show and that was really cool. I’d never seen it before. I got selected to sit on stage with my camera and *try* to photograph the owl coming at me. I couldn’t do it. It was fun being on stage though!

We had a minor emergency! After using our FastPasses for a second go-round on Primeval Whirl, we marveled at how much faster and spinnier it was compared to that morning. We walked along and I noticed that Expedition Everest had a 10-minute single rider wait. Aidan has no interest in riding that coaster, but it’s one of my favorites. He sat down to play on his phone…and there was no phone there. He’d had it before we got on Primeval Whirl, so I deduced it had to have come out in there. Back to Dinoland USA we went, and we talked to some cast members. Sure enough, they found his phone in one of the cars. The ride was so much more spinnier it spun the phone right out of Aidan’s pocket! But we got the phone back and all was well! And I got to ride Expedition Everest with only a 5-minute single rider wait.

Animal Kingdom is undergoing a lot of renovations, so a lot of what makes the park so beautiful was masked by tall fences and signs. There were some pretty parts, though.

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We didn’t have a very long day at Animal Kingdom. We did everything we wanted to do, and I had a phone call scheduled, so we made an early day of it. It was a super fun day, though. Not too tiring or overwhelming. After my call, we hung out at the resort. I sunbathed by the pool and sent Snapchats. Then at 7:30, I watched the Movie Under the Stars (which was Wall-E) and ate a turkey sandwich and Doritos. It was a relaxing night. We knew we’d need to rest up for Magic Kingdom the next day!

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So obviously, my next vacation post will be about Magic Kingdom! So, till next time!

epic adventure: getting there.

Earlier this summer, Aidan and I embarked on an epic three-week vacation, just the two of us. We were both super excited. We were going to do new things, and I was just happy to have all the time to hang out with my {awesome} kid. The trip started off smoothly enough. We got to the airport, we got to go through TSA-precheck, and we were at security in no time. Things were going great until a storm rolled in and we got grounded just as we were pulling from the gate. Two hours we sat in the plane. And I was freaking out. I’d arranged for a limo to take us from the airport to the resort as a surprise for Aidan and I was worried we’d get tagged as a no-show. The flight status wasn’t updating (it said we were in the air and on-time!) and I was so worried I’d miss this limo surprise for Aidan.

We did get off the ground eventually, though. Thank goodness. I was starting to feel like Chicago wasn’t going to let us go.

On Our Way!

We finally got to Orlando, and the limo guy wasn’t there! I called them and they said not to worry, there was some sort of back up. They’d gotten my message and the flight info and he’d come find me by baggage claim. Meanwhile, Aidan was standing there with HIS bag. My enormous purple bag was no where to be found. Cue more panic! All my cute outfits and hair thingies and OMG nooo!

After a lot of running around and freaking out, we found out that the bag had come in on another flight, so it was on another carousel. Meanwhile, this limo guy, who had finally found us, was so patient and helpful. And when we went out to the limo…the look on Aidan’s face made everything worth it!!!

Riding in Style!

The limo ride included a 30 minute grocery stop, but Aidan and I had a list so we were done in 15. We’d also packed a bag full of snacks and brought that with us on the plane. This trip, we were doing food differently. Instead of eating all of our meals and snacks in the park (I didn’t buy the dining plan), we had a few sit down meals, a few counter service meals, and we ate breakfast and snacks (except special Disneyfied snacks) that we’d brought with us. Every morning, Aidan loaded his bag with granola bars, chips, Pop-tarts, and a bottle of water and a bottle with an energy drink. I did the same. When we got hungry, we’d snack on our bars. Ice water is free in the parks if you get it from a stand with a fountain, so we’d just drink down our energy drinks (I know!) and then fill the bottles up with the free ice water. Instead of sneaking to the food court and dropping $10 on a pizza when the late night hunger pangs hit, I just made myself a turkey sandwich and ate it in my room. Or the night we got back early, I took it to the Movies Under the Stars, and watched Wall-E while I chowed down.

But I’m getting ahead of myself! We got to the Resort (Pop Century) and because of their newfangled system, we didn’t even have to go to the desk to check in. I’d checked in online, and while we were at the airport, I got a text with my room number! We were able to go straight to the room!

And it was a nice room, with a nice surprise waiting for us on the bed:

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After unpacking our groceries and changing, we headed to Downtown Disney. Aidan of course wanted to go to the LEGO store, I wanted to do my own shopping, and I’d thought we’d have dinner there. But we ended up eating at the food court at the resort, which is fine by me because I happen to love that food court. Then it was bed time, because it was Animal Kingdom the next day!

That’s all for now. Next time, I’ll talk about our time in the parks, the awesome dessert we got at Garden Grill, and more. :)

all hail mickey mouse.

Disney World 2014 Collage

Guess who recently returned from a really cool Disney vacation? If you guessed ME, you’d be right! :) I didn’t post much about it here because well, it was such a random, sorta last minute thing. See, my brother-in-law Eli and his wife Melissa both work for the Disney company in California, so they get free tickets (four each!) and discounted accommodations for the parks. They also run marathons and crazy things like that. They came to Orlando to do the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and then to vacation a bit. Adam’s family was joining them, along with Melissa’s mom. That left one space for me! I just had to pay for my flight and contribute a bit to the room cost, which was VERY VERY reasonable, what they asked. And of course, buy my own food, etc.

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the gang!

The trip was from November 7-15. I had to be with Eli to get let into the park, and then I could do whatever I want the rest of the day. Sometimes I stuck with Adam’s family (his mom, dad, sister, and niece), sometimes I hung with Melissa, Eli, and Vicky. Sometimes we were ALL together. A lot of times I went off by myself. I took a lot of selfies! Ha.

Back at Epcot!! ???? #Epcot #disneyworld #selfie #disney

The Magic started right away, when I went to check in and the guy at the desk gave me a pile of stickers and coloring books and crayons and buttons! And it just kept continuing, with people doing nice things, my friend Joe getting us into Garden Grill for dinner even though it had been booked for months, big hugs from Mickey Mouse and the gang, and so much more.

Here are the things I’ve learned the times that I was on my own at Disney World:

1. It’s an interesting experience. I loved the freedom of doing what I wanted when I wanted. It was much faster and easier to weasel my way through crowds when I was by myself. I enjoyed just answering to myself. If I wanted to do something, I did it. I didn’t have to get approval or wait for people, I could just go for it. And single rider lines for rides are the best. I pretty much walked right on to Test Track more than once. And there are some really warm and open people at Disney World. I talked to one wonderful woman about ten minutes and by the end of the conversation, she was embracing me. Little girls seemed to love me–so many would just stop and smile and/or say “hi” to me or just start talking to me. Little boys, too! And I got a free churro because I was at the Christmas Party by myself. If I wanted to sit and people watch, it was OK for me to do that. I didn’t feel like I was putting people out when my tiny bladder made its needs known loudly and often. If people in the group were doing something I wasn’t all that into, I liked being able to say “I’m going to do [some other thing] and I’ll catch up with you later.” I loved that.

2. Eating was so cheap when it was just me! Before I left for Disney, I purchased $150 in Disney gift cards from Target (using my RedCard so I’d save 5%), and I didn’t use all of it. Granted, one meal was an expensive one and I paid for that NOT using the gift card, but the rest? Well, I came home with $20 left, and I’d even bought a souvenir with some of the gift card money. This was done with some extra help though: I had granola bars and Pop-Tarts in my room. I bought one bottle of water and kept refilling it, and I also bought a refillable drink mug (with a gift card!) to use when I was at the resort. Seeing as I was there so many nights, it was a good investment, especially on my resort day. I also have a small appetite, so many times, the kid’s meal was adequate for me. I also forgot about my gift cards and got a couple of Food & Wine entries with cash. So, truthfully, I probably spent about $180 to feed myself at Disney World for nine days, including a refillable drink mug, a fancy sit down meal, and novelty snacks. I’d say $20 a day isn’t bad.

3. During a long trip like this, a day in the middle to do NOTHING is a fantastic idea. I never knew the value of it until last week. I realized that I am absolutely capable of melting down like the toddlers at the end of the night (or morning or whenever) who have had ENOUGH. I was like that Monday night after the Christmas party. I was just DONE. Then I dropped my brand new phone INTO the Murphy bed that I was sleeping on (which was very comfortable by the way). I didn’t sleep well. By Tuesday morning, I was a mess. I got on my computer while waiting for maintenance to come and help me get my phone out. I took my medication, and tried to calm down. It worked. Maintenance came and my phone was rescued and unharmed. The meds kicked in. I pulled on my bathing suit and decided to stick around the resort all day. I hung out at the pool and had a drink, and talked to my mom and Aidan on the phone. Then I took a nice, hot bath before heading to the food court for something yummy to eat. (Probably corn dogs, seeing as I can’t seem to get enough of the things lately.) It was a nice, relaxing, much-needed day of downtime and self care. I highly recommend a resort/pool day for all long Disney trips.

Poolside drinksies!!!! #vacation #goodlife #disney #disneyworld #selfie ??????????

I got to spend time at Disney with a little kid, which doesn’t happen often. I mean, there are kids THERE, but they’re not with me, so yeah. Hanging out with Lola was great. To hear that little voice say “I want to sit with RONNI” was soooo fun!

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how cute is this?

And I had to admire how they kept her fed and happy with PB&J, fruit, cheese sticks, popcorn, etc. They didn’t have to spend a lot of money on her nor worry about feeding her since she can be a picky little eater. And because she was in her stroller, they could just feed her just about anywhere. Chris and I didn’t do that with Aidan! Not that he’d have eaten PB&J anyway….

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I got to do some new things this trip. I finally got to see Fantasmic! :) I’d been hearing about this fireworks show for years and years but it always seemed like a pain in a butt to get to. You had to line up a million years before to get a good seat or even a seat at all, blah blah blah. But FastPass+ made it possible for Cassidy and me to get front row center seats (now, we’d have normally never wasted a Fast Pass on a show but that’s about all they had available by the time we made it to Hollywood Studios that evening), so there it was. And I LOVED it! It lived up to the hype for sure!

I sat at the Pinocchio restaurant and waved to people riding it’s a small world. That was fun.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is so much fun! Such a cute coaster!

I saw Finding Nemo: The Musical. I liked it, but The Festival of the Lion King wins. I missed the Jammin’ Jungle Parade. So sad it’s gone. I heard it is coming back after all the work is done in Animal Kingdom. I hope so.

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Animal Kingdom in the dark! That was certainly new! It either closes so early or it stays dark so late that I’ve never see it at night. It’s just as pretty.

And there was Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, where I got to meet these guys:

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And see Main Street look like this (complete with fake snow):

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The pictures do not do the castle justice, how pretty it is. It’s incredible, and now they’ve incorporated Elsa and Anna and Olaf (from Frozen) into the castle lighting in a very clever way. I approve! :) Here’s a video of the very ending, complete with a “wooo” from me.

And oh oh oh, I got to see the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights! It was sooooo cool. Definitely will put you in the holiday spirit, as long as you can handle the crowds!! Here’s a snippet!

Honestly, I cannot even begin to put all the stuff I got to see and do. It was just a nice, long, awesome vacation. If you’d like to see more photos, click here! There’s lots to see! :)

And I leave you with a photo of Mickey and me. Because yes.

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Till next time! :)

retreat.

Sitting in the captains chair enjoying the day. #chillin #nofilter

Last weekend, I drove out to Stonehouse Farm to have a relaxing weekend away from the city. I knew the weather would be beautiful even with some cool nights, but I was staying in a yurt (with electricity) so I knew I would be OK.

The drive out was fantastic. No traffic, and once I got out of the city, the roads were clear. My favorite kind of driving. Empty country roads and my music. It was perfect.

I got to Stonehouse about 115pm last Friday, and helped out a bit there. I cleaned the general store and then I watched the gardeners plant flowers. (I tend to avoid planting things. I am not so good with plants.) It was so pretty out there. The weather was mild, the sun was out, and the sky was bright blue. My favorite kind of day. There were wildflowers and dandelions everywhere. I think they’re pretty, but I know most people don’t care for them.

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I got a chance to see honey bees being transported to their new home! I even wore a bee suit. That’s something I never thought I’d get to do. It’s not even something that even crossed my radar. But it was really cool.

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Honey right off the comb is the purest, sweetest thing imaginable.

Later, we all went out to dinner, and that night, I turned in to the sounds of nature at night and stars twinkling in the sky.

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Saturday was a lot of relaxing, reading, writing, napping, sunning myself, and enjoying nature, peace, and calm.

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We didn’t go out to dinner this time, instead preferring to raid the fridge in the general store and share leftovers from the night before. The night was milder, so it wasn’t as much of a hardship when the middle of the night bladder call woke me up!

Sunday morning, I did a yoga practice, ate some breakfast (preserves and Nutella on toast, and fresh pineapple), and headed back to the city. I felt refreshed and rejuvenated and grateful.

I had a wonderful mini-retreat weekend and cannot wait to head back to Stonehouse Farm this summer.

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back and forth.

Fence in the Garden District

I don’t know about you, but I am not sad to see January go. The weather here has been a nightmare. I know it’s winter and all, but if you’ve been reading this for any amount of time, you know how winter affects me. This one is especially brutal, because the bitter cold keeps coming back. And it’s following me. Adam and I went to New Orleans to visit a friend, and also to escape the cold. Darned if it wasn’t cold there too.

I also know that February can be pretty brutal in terms of weather as well. I’m really ready for winter to be over.

But ANYWAY. Because everyone’s complaining about the weather and it’s so cliche….

Here’s what I’ve been up to the past few weeks:

Act III Scene 1

Yup. That is a script. I’m in acting class and have been for a few weeks now. It’s terrifying. Utterly terrifying. But I’ve become complacent and this is exactly what I need to get me the hell out of my comfort zone. Believe me, I resist it. There is so much work involved. It’s not just getting on stage and pretending to be a character. Oh no sireee bob. It’s so much more. Which I knew in a way. But it’s been so long since I’ve done this, so I am very, very rusty. Script analysis. Character studies. Roadmaps. Lots and lots of research. Trying to find those “moments.” Always coming down hard on myself for not nailing that “heightened sense of reality” that I so desperately want to obtain.

It’s a challenge. I feel like quitting every other day. I know I could and just eat the tuition. But I’d be letting myself down. And I’m tired of doing that.

Plus I kinda love it. Those moments when it clicks and I feel it. It’s rare for now, since I’m essentially starting over, but it’s happening more and more. It’s good when that happens. Makes all the work and angst worth it.

French Quarter

As I mentioned, I went to New Orleans. While I was there, I had my first po’boy sandwich and it was freaking frakking delicious. My second po’boy sandwich was OK, but that first one was so, so good. I also had delicious beignets, and yummy bread pudding, and greens, and creole chicken at a fancy place called Galatoire’s in the French Quarter. I got super drunk on a Monsoon that I shared with Adam, then proceeded to take a selfie in the bathroom.

Drunk at Snug Harbor

I saw beautiful architecture, bought some awesome things, and listened to good live jazz music. It was a fun trip!

New Orleans Mosaic
1. Beignets, 2. Galatoire’s, 3. French Quarter, 4. Lafayette Cemetary #1,
5. Rose, 6. First ever Po-boy, 7. House, 8. Chicken Creole, 9. Palm Trees

So now I have a travel bug. I want to go to a tropical island and lie in the sun and read all day. I want to go to Paris (but not until it’s warmer) and London (same) and just go around taking pictures and eating yummy things. But… all in good time.

On another note, I want to thank everyone who took the time to comment on my last post. I wrote it right before Christmas and sat on it for weeks because I was afraid to share. It means a lot that people read it and that it resonated.

That’s all for now. Short and sweet! Till next time…..

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