Monday, April 14, 2014

Disney Vacation Series: Animal Kingdom

When planning your Walt Disney World vacation, do not discount Animal Kingdom as just a zoo! We almost made that mistake!! I should have known that Disney would not do anything half-way, but I never would have guessed this would be one of our favorite parks!

At first glance, it seems like there isn't a whole lot to do in Animal Kingdom. But, DO NOT WRITE IT OFF! We found a ton to do! In fact, we ended up coming back here on our last vacation day (and we still didn't do absolutely everything).

When you walk into DAK (Disney's Animal Kingdom), you walk into The Oasis. This area is lush and tropical, with a few animals to adore. This area opens up to Discover Island, which showcases the Tree of Life.

Similar to Cinderella Castle, the Tree of Life is the epicenter of Animal Kingdom. From this area, you can branch out into many different lands: Africa, Asia, DinoLand USA, and Camp Minnie-Mickey (although, I was told this area is closed now and being renovated for the new, AVATAR Land. I know, I don't get that, either! I won't be covering Camp Minnie-Mickey since it's a thing of the past. It was a super cute area, though!) You'll want to spend some time exploring the Tree of Life and it's intricate animal carvings.

The Tree of Life houses a cute little 4D show called It's A Bug's Life! It can be a tad scary for small kids, but Carter fell asleep in it and Olivia loved it! I mean, who can resist these awesome, fashionable glasses?

The two major attractions in this park are Kilimanjaro Safaris (in Africa) and Expedition Everest (in Asia). You'll want to head to one of these first thing! (And although the FastPass situation has changed since I was last at Disney, from what I understand, I would schedule the other attraction for the afternoon.)

African Village of Harambe

This attraction is set in an African village that is very real looking and sounding! The thing I love most about Disney is the ability to be completely immersed in the environment. The buildings, the entertainment, and the music all convey the experience of being in an African town.

Kilimanjaro Safaris takes you on a journey through the Savannah. The sights are amazing! I could not believe we were so close to these amazing animals!

Africa also has a really great animal exhibit called the Pangani Exploration Trail. This guy is worth it alone!


Asian Village of Anandapur
The major attraction here is Expedition Everest. It is one of our favorite coasters in all of WDW! The premise of this ride is that you are going on an expedition through the Mt. Everest. Beware of the Yeti, though! The ride to the top of the mountain is a lovely scenic trip. Once you reach the top, however, you get a surprise!

There's only one direction to go from the top...

Another fun ride here is Kali River Rapids. I do not like getting wet on rides, but this was a great ride!! In fact, Olivia and I rode 2 or 3 times in a row!

Also in Asia, is the Maharajah Jungle Trek. It is an animal exhibit similar to the Pangani Exploration Trail over in Africa. My favorite animals of this trail are definitely the tigers, although I didn't get great pictures of them.

The street entertainment is pretty great here, too!

Dinoland, USA

This area completely surprised me! It seems a bit out of place here in Animal Kingdom, but it is fun, nonetheless!

Primevil Whirl is a fun coaster, but it is for taller kids and adults only. This is more of a carnival-type atmosphere. Triceratops Spin is a good ride for the younguns.

Dinosaur is a dark ride here, but I don't recommend it. I just wasn't too impressed.

What you should do, however, is see Nemo, The Musical! This is a show unlike any other. The characters from Nemo are large puppets, animated and voiced by live actors, who are also on stage.
It's a bit of a longer show, but it is cute! A tip for those with younger kids: There is a section at the top just near the exit where you can go if your child is a little restless. Disney thinks of everything!

Planet Watch is an area we did not make it to. You can read more about it HERE, if you are interested.

Bonus Tip: Along with some snacks, make sure to grab some fun animal masks to take along! I found these at the Target Dollar Spot!

COMING SOON: AVATAR Land! Although I think this theme is stupid for Animal Kingdom, I have not seen the movie. It could be fabulous! The plans sure do look amazing! Check them out HERE.

Image from WDW
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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Organizing Kid's School Work and Art Projects

Olivia has been in daycare, preschool, or Kindergarten since she was 9 months old. From the beginning, there was A TON of paperwork being sent home! Since starting Kindergarten, it has not slowed down. In fact, it has increased exponentially! 

I quickly realized it would be impossible to save everything. So, I've devised a few rules to guide us in what to keep and what to toss.

Paperwork and Artwork To Keep:
Artwork that is extra gorgeous
Mother and Father's Day cards (Really, who could throw those away?
Anything with a hand or foot print (I like seeing the progression of these!)
Worksheets showing mastery of a new skill (like the first time she started adding and subtracting)
Projects or papers she worked extra hard on
Important tests (In Kindy, right now, it's only been spelling tests! haha And I'm sure I'll end up tossing these at the end of the year. There's a lot of them!)

So, what do I do with what's left?

I've had a plastic file box for years and it has served many purposes! Currently, it houses all those papers deemed worthy of keeping.

I used regular (ugly green) hanging file folders and some sticky tabs I had on hand. I used a Sharpie fine tip marker to label each tab with grades from Preschool through 12th Grade. It's as simple as that!

After each school year is over, I'm sure I'll go back through the papers and file some more in the trashcan. Also, I'm sure down the road, the paperwork will outgrow this file box. But, for now, it keeps things contained and in one place. Once Carter starts school, I will buy him his own box! So, as long as I keep up with this system, each child will have their own memory box of sorts to hang onto.

How do you decide what papers to keep? How do you organize them?

Monday, April 7, 2014

March 2014 Month In Review

 March seems like it was a pretty boring month for us! The weather was still cold (and even had some snow), so we spent a lot of time indoors! I did make it to the hair salon and got bangs cut for the first time in probably 10 years. I love them! They're still long enough to pull back when I need to, too.

Carter moved from his crib to the big boy bed! It was a very easy transition, thank goodness! Now, we are working on using the potty and that's proving to be harder. But, he's getting it, little by little! 

Speaking of the snow and's the view from work toward the beginning of March. We got a TON of ice and most of the city was without power for days...and some almost a week! We lost power Friday morning and got it back Sunday afternoon, so we were one of the lucky ones! The thing I missed most about not having power was a hot shower! haha

An iced up tree outside our apartment.

 NON SCALE VICTORY!!! These scrub pants are a LARGE! I have not been able to wear a large for as long as I can remember! I don't know if the cut is different or what, but I'll take it!!! Weightloss is slow, but the nonscale victories like this and encouragement from others keeps me working toward my goals!

Just a cute pic of the kids!

 And a cute pic of myself! haha (When you take the time to do your makeup, might as well record it with a selfie!) Some Facebook friends said I look like Lucille Ball here...I think I know what this year's Halloween costume will be! haha

Olivia started baseball! Of course, she was the pinkest girl at the first practice! haha

Her Opening Day and 1st game was a rainy, muddy mess! At least it's not snow!! But, the game got called after the 1st inning. Here's hoping our current 70 degree sunny weather lasts!

I don't know if the rain drained us, or if we were just overly tired, but we all came home after the game and took 3 hour naps! That NEVER happens around here!!!

April means spring break, warm weather, sun, and vacation!!!! Bring it on!!