Category Archives: Travels

Fab time | End of summer vacation



We just got back from a 10 day vacation to Disneyworld followed by a Carnival cruise out of Charleston!  I took a conservative 1300 images…  lol  Wonder when I’ll get to looking at them all?  There was a ton of great food on the cruise.  I tried several different things that were fantastic.

My 40th birthday also just passed.  It was great and without much fanfare which is totally my preference.  However, I’m hoping to have a big party bash for my birthday, house warming and new studio space once we get settled into our new house.  Guy just looks and me with amusement every time I mention it.  :-)

Here’s a cute image of Landon just after my birthday dinner!

Disney Dreams on Castaway Cay

Disney’s private island was great!  The way it was set up in no way did it feel like there were thousands of other people on there with you.  The food was yummy and there was a variety of things to do.  Loved it.  We loved meeting a very poor look a like choice for Jack Sparrow and having Madison ask him where his hat was.  Too funny.  Guy snapped a quick shot of me holding the twins in front of the ship.  Landon stayed on the ship for nap time in the arms of a nice comfy lady he obviously liked enough to settle in with {the baby-sitting was $6 an hour, well spent $12} letting us go play with the twins in the ocean doing bigger kid stuff.  There was the funny way we put the stroller on the tram {carried our gear & then Landon when Guy went back to get him}.  We had a great time on the ocean water slides & both big kids went down by themselves!  Disney even provided the life jackets.  They met a new friend and tried to make sand castles with their gear.  It ended up we are not good at them and neither was their family.  The twins spent a little while playing in the Disney club and I got to play a couple games of volleyball while Guy got Landon.  We all ate a great lunch together then headed over to play in the awesome water play area.  Back on the ship we spent the remainder of the day doing random things around the ship.  Good times!!  I’ll let the fun images speak mostly for themselves.





One of my little photographers.  One of these days I’ll post some of their pics.














































And he shows his baby side {12 months old}!  If you don’t look at how big he is compared to the 2 year old behind him he does look like a baby here!





She wonders why he gets annoyed with her..

This is the movie screen in the pool area.  We did this instead of the show.  So fun and the pool hardly had anyone else in it.  There was no line for the cool Aqua Duck slide!




More dreams on the Dream

 Well, for those who asked for more details on the Disney cruise, this is another valiant attempt to share.  Or should I say over share?…  I hope you don’t kill me for sharing too many images again.  This time there are more then the last time by almost double.

Last post we left off as we took shelter from the rain that started within minutes of the ship pulling away from the dock.  We headed down to the main atrium/lobby area where a woman was singing beautifully.  All of our kids are love to listen to music so they headed over to watch with their damp scraggly hair.


Within moments they noticed one of the window seat porthole windows that are everywhere on the ship.


Madison got bored pretty quick while Blake could have stayed there for a long long time.


She found a much more fun activity {to her}.  Dancing to the beautiful music with her daddy!  Landon {in the foreground} was toddling around back and forth from the musician to the window.


I barely turned around to catch this {hence the blurry pic!}.  So delighted with this sweet image of a daddy/daughter kiss.


That look on her face is pure satisfied happiness.

 

I don’t know who to call Mr. Personality anymore with both Landon and Blake.  They give each other a run for the money on pure imaginative entertainment power.  Those two boys seem to be hardwired to being able to convey meaning and entertainment with the slightest gesture.  Landon is on a mission to ‘tell’ me something here.  It should be extra entertaining when he really starts to talking.


Blake had a great view of the pilot boat right outside his window seat.


I came back to the window just in time to see the area we were watching the cruise ships pass by us the previous day.   {This shot is a little further out}


One relaxed and happy boy.


The sunset a few minutes later was awesome with the perfect lifting of the storm just for sunset!!!

Dinner for us in our regular life is not generally a fun affair.  Being on the cruise ship didn’t change this fact at all.  In some ways it was easier with lovely wait staff who would cut up the kids food for them and the distraction of the people and the restaurant itself.   In other ways it was harder with people around to stare if our kids got whiny and pouty because the ‘had’ to eat, were bored or didn’t like something.  So dinner was not really photographed and will not be mentioned until the last night gets blogged.  The food was good.  It was cruise ship food to me.  Overall tasty and an opportunity to try things you wouldn’t normally.  I got a few fish dishes to try with a regular backup dish as well.  Worked great.  About 50% of what I tried was yummy and the other 50% not so good.


The one evening show we attended was the first night.  It is touted as the best and not to miss show.   I enjoyed it and we almost made it through the whole thing.  Of course, this means we also beat the crowd exiting at once too!  This allowed us to have a great leisurely exit and some wander time with few people around.


The premise of the show is like a academy awards show with a staffer stuck hosting due to a no show.  The old Disney dream to be the impossible kicks in and the staffer accomplishes the impossible.  This was the ‘red carpet’ before show part.

 

It was amazing how many cool and different sets they did during this short show.  Loved it.  A dreamy Snow White.  {This reminds me….  If we had named Madison snow she would have been both Snow White and White, Snow.  lol}


The incredibly buff Tarzan.  They did a great arial trick with those ‘vines’ hanging in the background.


The Mulan character was super tiny!


They really made Jessie and Woody look WAY bigger then the other toys onstage.  Cool costume tricks.  Blake was really at attention for this part!


And then we get to Madison’s favorite princess, hands down, Repunzel.  She was almost in tears excited to see her here.  She also was completely crushed beyond words that she couldn’t meet her on the cruise ship when so many other characters and princesses were there.  Anytime we saw any of the princesses she made sure to bemoan the fact that Repunzel was not there to us.


After Repunzel, I was busted for taking pics during the show.  It must of been my super bright LCD screen that gave me away.  It could also have been the increasingly restless Landon.


In the morning we went right from the tasty buffet breakfast to get in the princess greeting line early.  The kids played in the lounge area with Guy while I waited in line.  There were some other kids over there off and on as well.  It broke Guy’s heart to see our shy and very tenderhearted Madison try and get in on some play time with the other kids.  Many times they don’t understand she wants to play with them by the way she acts.  But sometimes she will boss around or correct kids behavior which turns them off of her.  She is such a little bossy mama.


Everyone started getting really excited and the kids ran over to try and get a good look at the princesses as they approached.  They are avidly watching the stairs here.  Then we looked up to their left…


…To find princesses right above us!!  Oh the delight.


Then shifting quickly back to the stairs we see the other princesses descending the stairs.  Madison had that breathy excitement thing going on.


Snow White was so sweet to have a conversation with the kids.  Really, most of the characters had conversations with the kids.  It felt so personal and like a real meeting instead of just a picture op.


As a parent, this face right here is what makes spending an extra grand on a Disney cruise verses a regular one worth it!


I wish we could just tell their photographer to bugger off so the kids wouldn’t get confused at who to look at.  Well, I never even checked to see if we could.  Next time we go to Disney I plan on it.


The kids like to call her Beauty and the Beast instead of Belle.  So funny.


Our kids are so perfectly normal when it comes to smile on cue image ops.   Not so much looking at the camera or smile or do it at the same time if they do.  Not sure if being a photographer helps or hinders.


It was about this time Guy remarked to me how Blake kept looking at one of the princesses down the line and had been since Snow White.  Both of us thought it must be Tiana.  The angle seemed right.


Love!


Maddie is like me.  If clothes have scratchy tags or seams she wants them off immediately.  Socks were my biggest issue growing up.  Those seams had to be just right.  It dawned on me that I’ve never heard Madison complain about them.  Oh yeah that’s right, I’m totally obsessive about getting them just right the first time when putting them on them!  lol    The reason I bring this up?  Notice how far away from Cinderella she is?  She is still talking about how scratchy her dress was.   Maddie loves princess dresses, but she can’t wear so many pretty dresses she loves since they are scratchy.


And then we arrived at Tiana.  Both kids rushed in to meet her.


She got in there first.


Then he got in a good hug while Madison giddily looked on.


Hmmmm, maybe this wasn’t the princess he was all about.


He sure got in there first for Sleeping Beauty {who kind of resembles Taylor Swift}.


Blake’s body posture definitely looks a little like he’s looking at a crush.


They had the longest conversation with her.


Talking about the broken arm here.


Madison has been practicing doing her hands like this.  “Princess Hands.  Ummmm Hmmm.”  Said with a little know it all smile.  lol  Blake looks a little left out.  Definitely crushing here!


Wooing her back to him.


Little mama policing her brother.


Finally we got to Ariel. m These two were all over getting in super close.


This is also where we realized Blake is a sucker for red heads!!  Check out these shots.  If that isn’t a major crush, I don’t know what is.


His eyes are glued to her.


Then he shyly looks down when she talks to him.


As soon as she looks up he doesn’t take his eyes off her and is giving her a totally adoring look!


We headed up to go play in the kids area during the family open house.  It was the perfect time to go in there and play with the kids.  I wish we had been more aware of these open house times so we could have made more of them.


Princess Mini was also a hit with Mad.  She thought she was gorgeous.


In the kids area there were two huge groupings of rooms each with its own center area where shows, group activities, story time and character events happened.  Durning open houses only one of the two groupings would be open to the parents.  The floor lit up in the section we were in this time.  Before sitting here we explored Pixie Hollow where Madison fell in love with the crayons and coloring pages.  lol  Thought I’d say something more exciting?  At first she wanted to put on all the dress up clothes, but the first one she tried was scratchy.  Blake fell in love with the more exploration themed room including Nemo’s sub.  Andy’s room was also really cool!


We didn’t tell the kids, but Mickey and some friends were about to come see them!  They just loved the lights.  The colors are freaky weird throughout this space making all the images look weird.


Two fun ladies got the kids going and led the adventure.


We solved riddles and puzzels to see who was coming next.


The Goofster came out first.


He got the kids to do a bean bag toss.


Then we all got into our groove with some dancing.


Maddie did her best to figure it out.


Guy was her biggest cheer leader!   She’d also look over at me to make sure I was watching.


Then Pluto came out.  Pluto must have been a super stocky dude with massive thighs.  You could see those suckers even with the costume.


Blake loved getting down like a dog.


All four of us were having fun dancing around.


Then it was Mickey’s turn!


Madison is checking back to make sure Blake joined her in the congo line.


Back to Pixie Hollow for some coloring.


We were happy for two things on this heavily rainy and pretty windy day..  1. We had already decided we were staying on the ship at Nassau.  2.  We weren’t at sea with what would probably be not so calm seas.


These kids ended up celebrating their birthdays for more then two weeks.  Guy is giving them their birthday buttons from Disney.


So excited to once again be a special birthday girl.


All three kids were all over the place when we saw Donald Duck.


I finally got the flash dialed in and decided on just an image of Donald would be fine.


After seeing Donald we let the kids spend their $100 birthday money from Grammy and Grandpa in the Toy Store!  These are all the goodies they got.  Landon was happy to play with the kids stuff so the two big kids just split the total.   With a little appropriately exclaimed steering towards items we thought were both a good fit and a good value they ended up with a Car’s car launcher & car set, Woody doll, Jessie doll and a cool Tangled set.  The car launcher and Tangled set get the most use here at home, but the dolls are out every day too.


Oh, I also forgot to mention we went on the slides again this day.  Landon went to the nursery for his morning nap.   Lunch was really tasty.  I normally Do Not like buffets, but the Disney one had great food every time we went there.  The pizza, chicken strips, panini’s and fries were also good.  My only complaint about the pizza was that they had two pre-made of each kind.  If you want a pipping hot one then you pretty much have to go with pepperoni since they are ordered most often.  The other ones had been sitting too long for my taste.  We also took the opportunity to take an afternoon nap as a family each day.  It gave the kids renewed energy making dinner less miserable then it would have been and we got to stay up later at night.  It also gave me a chance to do a basic edit on all of our cruise ship images which wouldn’t have gotten done otherwise.

The ship also has a great movie theatre that shows first run and other favorite movies during the cruise.  The perfect touch would have been some freshly popped popcorn.  I’m a sucker for some good popcorn.  They had some bagged popcorn like you can buy in a gas station that just didn’t appeal.


We got there pretty early so Landon got a chance to wander all over the place.  The twins met a little boy their age who had a great set of Star Wars figurines {like her Tangled set}.  They made fast friends and had those figurines scattered all along the middle front row wall.  They loved playing good guys and bad guys.

 

Disney dreams on the Dream

First, let me just say that we are so excited to see the images we took on Saturday morning with my friend and fellow photographer, Christy of Be True Image.  It was a 97-100% humid morning with gorgeous light and two sweet locations.  Other then being wet from all the humidity it was perfection.  The kids all cooperated much better then I expected them too, Guy was patient despite little sleep/bronchitis/allergies/headache, and the dress I bought online without trying it on de-wrinkled without an iron and fit when I put it on mid session!  We even had a cool pink beach cruiser bicycle borrowed from our neighbors.  Anyway, it will be so fun to see what Christy captured of us.

As usual, I took an incredible amount of images while we were on our super fabulous and memorable Disney Cruise last week.  I haven’t even begun to pick out which images to share on this post or even what to say.  There. Is. Too. Much.  What follows will be my thoughts as I pick a few images to insert and will in no way cover the scale or scope of the experience.  We will not be going on another Disney cruise for a at least a few years since it is a been there done that kind of event for us.

Sooooooooo, I just pulled a “couple” images into the post.  Hmmmmm, try almost 40!  What is wrong with me?!?!  You know what that covers?  Oh, just from leaving to drive All day to the hotel until the ship starts to pull away from the dock the next day.  The real test is if I keep posting until the trip is covered.  :-) Enjoy!

I nabbed this shot when I went to buckle Maddie in after breakfast.  We’d already driven two hours by then.   We headed out at 6am in the hopes we would have enough time in Port Canaveral to swim, watch some cruise ships leave, pick up some last minute items and get dinner.   The big kids were treated to a variety of movies including Toy Story.  Landon did great with entertaining himself with toys, watching the world go by and the kids.

The twins do not normally take naps, but Blake is the more susceptible of the two in taking an occasional nap.  Madison is a little like me, afraid to sleep in case she might miss something.  When I removed the headphones there were deep grooves in his face.


We made it to the hotel exactly when we wanted to which made us really happy.  This left us plenty of time to do what we wanted to before bed!


Once we got our gear up the room we headed out to shop and play.  Landon found out what a joy luggage carts are for kids!


After picking up the items we needed like some floaties, a hat for me and a pack of batteries we headed over to the beachside park at the end of the port island.  The kids played on the playground and then we headed over to the rocky part of the shore to watch the cruise ships depart.  There were two Carnival ships and a the brand new Disney ship that sailed past us.  Many of the people gathered on the decks and balcony’s waved excitedly to us as they left.


While the Carnival Dream was approaching we called Grandma so the kids could let her know we were watching the cruise ship we went on with her go by.  Fun times.  It got a little warm for us since we’re used to cooler temps so we piled into the air conditioned car to watch the last one go by {Disney}.


Next we headed over to Olive Garden where we got some grub to take back to our room.  Just after dinner we spent a great time, camera free, at the pool.  Landon climbed into bed with the twins for a few minutes before bed.  He loves to lay down with the big kids, especially Blake.   I know I missed the focus on this shot, but it so represents Landon’s satisfaction and delight in a night time cuddle with his siblings.


The next morning we made it to the ship after a decent breakfast at the hotel and a shuttle {the hotel offers a park and ride for cruises}.  The kids and I got into the line to see Mickey after we checked in.  Guy got in the line to check the kids into the kids program.  Maddie and Blake, who were both wearing their Mickey and Mini clothes, got in a fun game of chase n hide around a nearby table.


Mickey headed off to get on the ship and was replaced by Mini Mouse to Blake’s utter disappointment.  He did get in a little wave after chasing him down.  All was turned around by the time we got to Mini with Blake excited to see her too.


The family behind us in line split up just like Guy and I into the separate lines.  Funny enough both sets of us struck up conversations.  The dad was so nice to take this photo of us with Mini!


Thankfully, I thought to ask since this is what it would have been like!  I love Madison’s ‘Oh well’ gesture.


Boarding wasn’t quite available for us so we headed out to the viewing deck {pretty much empty compared to inside} to see the ship and feel the fresh air.


Maddie is our lover of the stroller.  She may just be the laziest 4 year old ever.  We tried to guess which balconies would be ours.


The kids all loved checking out the activity down below of the crew loading up the luggage and other supplies.  Landon has no sense of danger.  He’d have happily thrown himself right over those rails!


Our first up close look at the Dream.  They keep these cruise ships super clean & maintained inside & out!  I loved how there were vents in the bathrooms which helped the swim suits dry quickly in the shower/tub area {there are clothes lines that pull across the top} .  Other cruise ships we’ve been on haven’t had the vents.  Having bathtubs was also really cool!  We had played the odds by booking a cheaper class of balcony rooms called guaranteed staterooms.  We ended up with connecting rooms in the absolutely perfect spot midship right off the elevator on the 9th floor facing out the right side of the ship!


The kids didn’t mind waiting and found lots of ways to entertain themselves.  Landon was going after Guy here.


We got some yummy lunch then headed to check out our rooms.


We had a perfect view of where we were sitting earlier!  So cool.  Our rooms ended up being pretty much where we thought they were.


Where’s Landon?  Yep, if given any opportunity he’ll be outside.  The rails were super high as were the two chairs and table so he couldn’t climb up on them.  Yay, us.  We still didn’t leave him out there by himself {for all the worry warts}.


The pool was our next stop.  We even snuck our little swim diaper kiddo into the pool.:-)  It wasn’t too crowded when we first got in.  All of us had a great time splashing around.


Blake is now totally comfortable going under water repeatedly!  Wohoop Whooop  He’s so cute and fun.


Landon loved the water.  Period.  He would have happily stayed in forever.  Yep.  Forever.


Madison headed up to take a ride on the big kid slide.


She loved it!  Though it never was open again when we went swimming.  Blake went up after her, but somehow came down before her.  We missed seeing him at all.


Guy had read online the big AquaDuck water slide had a lot of long lines all the time, but going right when you got on the ship the lines would be the shortest.  So we nabbed the opportunity to switch off watching Landon & a kid while the other two went for a ride.  Guy and Maddie headed up first.   Madison was definitely not ready yet.  She often assumes she will hate things before trying them, especially when it comes to food.  So Guy told her she just needed to go and get it done.  The boys and I played in the pool while those two took the climb up for their turn.  Oh yeah, she also likes to be carried whenever she can get us to lug her 45 pounds around.


Happy.  Happy.  Happy.


As much as these two wrestle together, they also love on each other.  It is stinking adorable.  I hope they are always close.


Seriously, this is a cool water slide.


Coming around the other side of the ship!


Maddie even popped her head over the edge to wave at us.  We ended up going on the water slides at least 6-7 times each switching off the twins.  We always seemed to go swimming when it was an off time so the lines weren’t long and the pool wasn’t too crowded.  One night we even went to the pool instead of the show.  At age 4, our kids appreciate pool time which comes with one on one play over sitting in a theater watching a show.


My sweet girl.


Blake and I coming out of the first big dip.  The water rushing up the ‘hill’ comes right over the back person {me} like an aqua massage.  It was great, but you can see from my face a bit of a surprise the first time.


The overly big smile with a wave.  :-)

We got changed and showed up just in time to watch the big sail away show.  We got the perfect late comer spot right off the stage.  It was great.  We were so close to all the performers.


Chip and Dale got some great giggles from the twins.


All of the Disney clubhouse characters showed up on stage.  Well, not Pete, but I’m pretty sure the size thing would make that an impossible character to do live.


Mini giving us a moment.  All the characters made sure to turn and look at us at some point when they were on stage.


Can you imagine jumping around in these costumes?  Me neither, but I’m so glad there are people willing to do that.  Us Disney fans love it!!!


Goofy is my personal favorite.  Maybe Blake’s too.


M. I. C…  K. E. Y..    M. O. U. S. E.


Pluto is waving to Blake here from back stage!   It really was a cool spot.


Maddie loved this!


Fun and exciting.


Goof again


And Pluto who payed us the most attention of all the characters.

Landon figured out he is pretty mobile now a days…


He decided to get his own snacks while the rest of us watched the ship start to pull away from the dock.


Then he wanted to get in on the action at the rail.


Anytime we had him anywhere near a railing we had to securely hold onto him.  He kept trying to go over.   Once again he was completely happy to be outside.  Do I keep repeating this?  Well, he loves to be outside.  :-)


Blake being his usual animated self talking about us leaving.


He was just checking it all out.


The rain had held off perfectly for us to have the big show and see the initial pulling away from the dock.   Here it is coming in at us so we headed in shortly after this through a small door with about 50 other people trying to get in quickly.


Landon waving bye!

So this only brings us to sharing about the time up until the boat left.  lol

Thanks for stopping

Personally, I’ve always found build a bear a bit of a rip off.   Yes, I am the same person who will pay crazy money to go to an amusement park for the day where you get nothing…  We saw that they have build a bear time on the cruise and asked my mom if that was something she was interested in doing with the kids.  She said she was so we planned on it.  Wouldn’t you know we found a fantastic deal!   Here’s Blake proudly cuddling his prize.

 

When we arrived there was a table full of stuffed animals on display with a price on each that does not include the outfit.  Most of them were $20 plus $6-$10 for an outfit.  In her introduction one of the staff mentioned that Fun Ship Freddie was only $10 and came with an outfit {that must be cost and is probably written off as advertising}.  AWESOME!  As the kids were looking at everything they both came to the decision they would like Fun Ship Freddie since they had several great encounters with him so far on the cruise.  AWESOME!!  Then I hear the family behind us asking if they had any $10 lions left?  Really?!?!?  She mentioned there were two and only one of the three kids in the group wanted one.  YAY   We got one for Landon too and my mom saved money!!   The lion is great too and came with a Carnival t-shirt.

 

At dinner I missed some action and came into the fun at the end {bathroom trip maybe?}.  Anyway, as they are all giggling they tell me Landon has learned to make a fish face?  What?  At 6 months old, not likely.  Well, he has and it is adorably funny.  Here ya go!

 

He is showing signs of being as expressive as Blake is.  Love it.

 

Smarty pants, Amber, introduced the quite game one night at dinner.  Who knew our super talker would be absolutely fantastic at remaining silent to win a game.  He is also so funny as he tries to get you to smile and refuses to be led astray from the game by our antics.  This image is of him giving Amber the stare down that included some funny faces.

 

Aunt Maddie

 

Amber

 

Mom {grandma} cuddling big baby as he sleeps.  We all miss her so much already!   We’re looking forward to when she retires and can spend some more time with us.  Landon looks so big here {my mom is 5’8″}.  He did great overall other then ending up sleeping between Guy and I each night.

 

We know from our last cruise that medical emergencies happen {Blake got staples in his chin}.  This cruise didn’t have any for us, but we had some major ones that required rescue and diversion.  Through the gossip mill we heard both were stroke/cardiac related.  On our last sea day we ended up diverting to Nassau.  While I am soooo sad and hope all is well for the family involved it was a neat experience to come into a port at the time we did.  We watched the ship come in until we had to head into dinner.  The middle ship pictured here is the newest Disney one with the cool waterslide ride.  It looked awesome.

 

This is a shot of the famous Sandals resort on Nassau with the amazing all inclusive amenities.  I would love to go there and stay sometime.  All we saw when we were there was the casino.  Rides and fun time will always beat out the not so sweet allure of a casino to me.  They hold no appeal.

 

Love this lighthouse.  It was so weird to be so far above it which made it look tinnie winnie.   Lighthouses are just cool anyway!

 

Well, I have about 800 more images and tons more stories from our cruise.  Knowing me though, this will be my last post on our cruise fun.  Today Guy’s parents come to visit for a week.  We are really excited!  This will be their first real live look at Landon.