Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Disney World!

Well, our trip has come and gone... And it turned out a million times better than I expected. It was supposed to be in the upper 70's the whole time, and it ended up 80-85 the whole week. It didn't rain once during the day, and we enjoyed the warm sun! Here's how our week looked--

Fri.- Our first full day (we all got in late the night before) we went to Animal Kingdom. Last time we went it was so cold that we saw less than half of the park. This time we explored everwhere and went on all the thrill rides that we hadn't before. The park is gorgeous, lush and green, and has different areas that resemble their respective continents extremely well. There was Africa, Asia, Dino USA, Camp Minnie-Mickey. Walking into Africa and Asia, you forgot you were in Florida, really. And Expedition Everest is a roller-coaster including an encounter with a real life Yeti, for real. ;) It was so fun!! And the park was not crowded at all, so we all enjoyed 3 rides in a row! The Kilamanjaro Safari ride is amazing, seeing all types of African wildlife, and we did that first thing in the morning, so the animals were all out and roaming. That was the best part!

Sat.- We spent the day at Universal Studios: Islands of Adventure...where, wait for it....The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is!!! Yes, it was amazing! And yes, we all want to go back! It really did feel like walking into the books, or like we were given a VIP tour on the set of one of the movies. One of the best parts, besides the Butterbeer and general wizardy feel of the park and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride (there were a lot of "best" part!) were the outfits the workers there wore. I'm kicking myself that I didn't take pictures, but they were very authentic looking to what you see in the movies and would expect, plus their little crooked wizard pointy hats were just awesome! I want to work there just to wear those and not look crazy! We also saw an older couple with their daughter (in her 40's) dressed up in full Gryffindor uniform and robes, and they looked like teachers who just wandered out of the teacher's lounge from the castle. It was pretty cool! The Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride has been named the best theme park ride in America, and it really was! The technology they use uses what is called a Kuka arm, and Disney was bidding to buy this technology before Universal swooped in and bought it. Also, what is called I believe Musion eyeliner technology which is a high-definition video projection system which created images of Dumbledore in his office, that looked like he was right in front of you. Also, later Harry, Ron, and Hermione appear from under the invisibility cloak and it appears to be completely real. Crazy! Frozen butterbeer is amazing, according to Marie pumpkin juice is not good at all, and the shepherd's pie at the Three Broomsticks was yummy and I felt like I was eating somewhere where the wizards and witches were going to discover at any moment that a strange muggle was amongst them. My only complaint was that there aren't many shops and that that section of Universal is too small to me. I wish it were lots bigger! But it was one of our favorite parts of the trip! Not just the Harry Potter World either, there was also a Dr. Seuss Land that felt like you hopped into those books too. And Ryder wouldn't get off the Caro-Seuss-El! Oh, I forgot to mention that Ryder went on his FIRST roller coaster, Flight of the Hippogriff, which was a pretty good coaster without any loops, but up very high and pretty fast! Ryder compared the fun he had on rides to the speed they were compared to that ride. Some were too slow after that... I think we have a thrill ride junkie in the making.

Sun.- We spent at Epcot, which is split up into Future World and World Showcase (where all the replica countries are). We spent most of our time in Future World where the Finding Nemo & Friends ride is and lots of aquariums are. The Mission:SPACE ride was there, where you go on a mission to Mars, and feel 6 G's and they worked with NASA to make the ride as realistic feeling to riding in a rocket as possible. It was really fun! Also, Test Track was fun where you go through similar tests that test dummies do for cars. We had tons of fun there!

Mon.- We spent all day at Magic Kingdom, eating there, then starting at Fantasyland, which is undergoing the hugest expansion ever at Disney World, tripling the space it's in now. The princesses will be housed here, with a new restaurant Be Our Guest, also a huge mountain or two, and multiple castles... It looks like it will be beautiful! It should be done by the end of 2012 or sooner. We love MK the best of all the parks, and had a ball going on all the rides!

Tues.- Again we went to MK to spend the day, and finished seeing everything, then later that night we went to Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween party!! We were Buzz, Jessie, and Woody! And Marie was Mary Poppins! Everyone stopped her and couldn't believe how good she looked! And she created the costume from scratch... It was awesome! We went to the Boo to You! parade, trick or treated, rode some rides like Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean (multiple times). It was really fun to be there for a holiday, and they had lots of fun decorations, villains, characters in costumes, and creepy, Haunted Mansion-type music was playing throughout the whole park. We were really glad that we did the party. We also took pics with Buzz, and it was so funny how he reacted to us. He was dipping me, kissing my hand, holding my hand, etc. and also wanted Paul to fulfill his duties posing for pics as he left with me and Ryder...We had really good luck with all the characters, they were fun and expressive, and they spent a good amount of time with us.

Wed.- We spent some time at Hollywood Studios and some at Epcot. At HS we went on Tower of Terror, Movie Ride, Rock'n Roller Coaster, etc. The streets are all made to look like the early age of Hollywood, and Ryder got to meet one of his favorite characters, Oso at a character dinner there. We had a lot of fun there. Later, at Epcot we spent the rest of the time in World Showcase. We visited most of the countries, plus the Epcot Food & Wine Festival was going on until Nov. while we were there. We were able to have beef empanadas from Argentina and cheese fondue from Germany too. And we bought some nice perfumes in Italy, and food and candies in Japan. And while we were there we passed by right after Boyz II Men had just finished a concert...Dang it! But we all loved going around the World!

Thurs.- It was the hottest day, at least 85, when we left... I wanted to stay another week!! I just knew going back to 40-50 degree weather was going to be so much fun!! No, but I was pretty sure I would get sick as soon as we got back, and did the following week... I swear, people in FL must not get sick very often and are pretty healthy. That's how that weather made me feel, really good, and we were all healthy during the trip despite waking up super early and going to bed super late!! But it was all worth it and I would highly recommend it!!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The happiest place on Earth!

We are getting really close to visiting one of our favorite places in the world: Disney World! I have to say that we have been dying with anticipation of our trip, which is right around the corner. Our first ever trip there was right after Ryder's 1st birthday and was a lot of fun!! We had a great time despite the freezing (okay 40-ish degree) weather and rain (hey, there were less crowds)! And also after having gotten into a car accident on the way to the airport.

Then after planning for 2 years to go to Disneyland with my whole family to celebrate my parent's 30th anniversary, Ryder became the sickest he has ever been, for a wedding in Utah then Disneyland. He was literally like a bump on a log, just laying there and in so much pain. After an ER visit, multiple Dr.'s appts., etc. they finally figured out he had a bacterial AND viral infection. It was the WORST! He hardly enjoyed the happiest place on Earth!

Now, after a crazy year with lots of ups and downs, we are heading to Walt Disney World! Say it with me now "Third time's the charm!" Right? Let's hope. So, come rain or shine, sickness or health, we are coming Orlando! And we're gonna party like it's 1999!! Or something like that...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


It's like magic....I'm finally blogging again!! Hopefully I can keep up more consistently now. We shall see.

I decided I better post pics of our new place. Here are pics of the temporary furniture first, which we had since May until a few weeks ago, when we got the new stuff. The tan couch and black dining set were what we got right after the tornado, and the brown furniture is our new stuff. And the bedding is our new bed set we have now. (Sorry the pics are in weird order.) I will post more pics soon of our whole house.

Well, this summer has been quite eventful and busy, but we have been able to do some fun stuff too. Here's a quick recap of our 2011 Summer:

  • Moved into our new rental home, which we really do love, and replaced an entire home's worth of stuff. (Not such an easy task...)

  • Paul's mom and my parents and sister Marie visited. Paul's mom Tracy helped us get moved from our hotel in Joplin to our house in Miami, and helped us get set up. Then my parents and sister visited and continued to help. It was really great!

  • Most of June is a blur, as we ran around trying to figure out how to get everything situated and set up. Purchased 2 new vehicles, Honda Fit & Pilot, and got those registered, etc. (We had just bought a new Honda Pilot in March, and registered both our vehicles into Missouri to then do it all again 2 months later in Oklahoma this time. And I wonder why I'm so confused and forgetful lately.) Remember, we had just moved from a house in Nov. 2010, spent 6 mos. in Joplin in an apartment, to then have to do it all again in Miami (but in a house this time, luckily.) Crazy! I don't recommend it. ;)

  • Ryder started gymnastics in June, and LOVES it. It's been really great for him to do that every week, and he loves his somersaults!

  • We spent my birthday in Oklahoma City at the temple, it was really nice, and we really needed it! And I got a GPS from Paul for the Pilot for my birthday!

  • Towards the end of July our friend Spring and her kids visited from UT. (Paul went to school at the U with Spring and her husband, then when we moved to Ames, IA they were in our ward! Small world, I know. And now they live in UT again.) It was so fun to have them here, and Ryder totally loved it! We did Ride the Ducks in Branson which is a bus/boat that you get to ride the lake in. Way cool!

  • August has been busy too, but a less crazy busy. We've been settling in and adjusting pretty well to our new ward and home and area. It's a small town with only 13,000 people. The ward is very small, but it has a lot of great people in it. Ryder, as always, loves Nursery! Paul was called to Elder's Quorum, and me to Primary. A little tidbit about our Miami Ward, before they made it a ward, (which I'm guessing happened within the past 5 years or so) it was the Commerce Branch, and it was the oldest branch in the Church, anywhere in the world. Interesting, right?

  • And most recently Ryder is now potty trained! He was ready to potty train prior to the tornado, and following wanted nothing to do with it. But he has been ready for awhile to do it, and we were slowly introducing the potty seat, and a couple weekends ago he went for it! We're super proud of him!

After everything that happened this year, including a trip to Disneyland where Ryder was so incredibly sick in February, and especially due to the tornado, we decided we needed a vacation!!! So, we are going to Disneyworld next month before Halloween! We're super excited and this will be Ryder's 2nd time there (we went right after his 1st birthday) but he should really enjoy himself and the rides this time! Fingers and toes crossed he will be healthy during this trip. Also, my sister Marie is coming along too! I feel very blessed to be able to go on this fun trip and to have such a wonderful family here to do it with! We will celebrate being alive and well! What more could we ask for?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Apartment after the Tornado

After the tornado was over Ryder said, "My house is broken". The morning after he played with his cars as usual, only this time he turned them all upside down. Here's some pictures of what he saw.

This was Ryder's room.

This is the closet where we weathered the storm. When the tornado passed, this was the only room in the apartment that still had a ceiling. It collapsed shortly thereafter from the rain.

Surprisingly, a lot of the books in the master bedroom were still in good shape.

The mirror in our kitchen fell but did not break.

The living room is completely covered with debris.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

My little builder

So, I was cleaning the tub and shower the other day and Ryder was getting into everything he could, as usual, when I turn around and see that Ryder has built the coolest little tower with our shampoo, body wash, and bubble bath bottles. I was soooo proud, and I was freaking out, so that Ryder wasn't sure if I was mad or not. So I said to him that was cool and told him to follow me. We went and got the camera and I took a picture while telling him not to touch it. Then I told him to go stand by it and caught THE cutest picture of him saying "Cheese!" He was pretty proud too. My boy is awesome!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

UT & CA trips...

"You can fall in love at first sight with a place as with a person." -Alec Waugh
Thanks Alec, those are my sentiments of California... :) Of course, I've been here many times, but I fall in love every time.

The second week of February my whole family (Mom, Dad, siblings and their families) headed to DISNEYLAND! I can't express how much I love that place, and just even more so since I had Ryder. It was lots of fun! Ryder was getting over being sick for most of that week, but still enjoyed much of the trip. We played in Disneyland, Universal, San Diego Zoo, and a tiny bit at the beach. (It was chilly and super windy when we got a chance to hit the beach.) It was awesome! Except, it went by way too fast.

The weekend before our trip to CA, we headed to Utah for my brother-in-law Spencer's wedding. We were excited to be there for that. It sucked big time though because Ryder was the sickest he's been in his life while there. He wouldn't really move much and was hurting so much. That's just not him. He usually acts fine even when he's just normally sick. But it was too much...turns out he had a bacterial and viral (possibly multiple viruses) infections. He received an antibiotics shot and that helped a lot. But alas, he had NO fun in UT! So, here's hoping next time Ryder's like 110% better...

So, it was a crazy month in February, and super stressful, tiring, etc. Now we're looking forward to a less sick rest of the year! (Knock on wood.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My January so far...

Here are a few things I've been into this month. Florence and the Machine are so unique sounding and fun to listen to. Ryder loves to hear it too, and see the weird videos. I love Netflix, especially the TV shows I have access to that are no longer around, plus lots of great kids' shows and movies for Ryder. I don't know how I never heard of Rilo Kiley before, but again I really love, especially Silver Lining. :) I'm loving reading about the history of Disneyland in the Disneyland Encylopedia, and have gotten great ideas and tips from the Unofficial Guide. I'm cramming for a test I know I'll have to take once there. ;) I know this is all about some new loves of mine, but I heart the Killers and always have. Now I really heart Brandon Flowers and appreciate his voice even more with his solo stuff. And I bought Paul the book "127 hours Between a Rock and a Hard Place" thinking he'd really like it, and he hasn't read any yet, so I've been reading it, and it's very interesting. It's definitely stranger than fiction to me. But I'm liking it.
This month has flown by, and I've enjoyed the chances I've gotten to read and listen to music especially. Ryder is learning and growing at lightning speed and all I'm doing is trying to keep up with him. He was really sick all weekend and now has antibiotics and is doing better, but we've all been lacking sleep. I'm hoping we can catch up quick. I'm also trying to get everything in order for our upcoming trips and not go too crazy. Next week will be super nuts though, so I'm trying to take it easy until then. Missouri weather has been extremely wonderful, and the best winter I think I've ever had as far as that goes. It's so mild down here, and has only snowed twice, and it melts very quickly. Which is great, because any amount of snow or ice and no one goes anywhere since the roads are bad (which in Iowa's terms is maybe normal) so the clear roads have been wonderful because it makes Paul's commutes safe.
Well, that's all I can think of, but I hope the remainder of January is wonderful for you all!
(Oh, and sorry for the double pics of the book, it's the same book, different covers and I couldn't get rid of one of them.)