Friday, September 23, 2016

Disney World Day 1: Travel + Animal Kingdom

It's been awhile since I have blogged and I have come to accept that I will pick it up when I feel like it and drop it just as fast. 

Last winter I really wanted to take the boys to Disney World, even for one day. It did not work out while we were in Florida, so I left really thinking about how to make it happen. I started researching and found out that in September, crowds are at some of their lowest for the whole year. After more researching, I found that Disney offers a Free Dining plan if you book a resort and Park Hopper tickets for your stay for select times throughout the fall. Dave and I were in! We talked to some people in both of our families, and Heidi and Anna jumped at the opportunity. We went through an authorized Disney Travel Agent and she was able to score the free dining deal for us! We saved so much money! So for the next 5 or so months, I researched like crazy to try to maximize our vacation. Here's day 1 of this vacation... 

Anna, Heidi, Dave, the boys, and I traveled from different places last Thursday to meet in Orlando to start our Disney World vacation! We planned and researched and anticipated this trip for five (plus) months, and finally it was here! 

My boys were excited to be at the airport to see our Dusty (airplane) and all the other Dustys taking off and landing. A few days before we left, I let the boys pick out which shirt they each wanted to wear on the airplane. These are the shirts they picked. 

On the plane! Aiden is already going through his backpack to see what kind of fun things we had packed. They both had a stuffed Mickey Mouse, crayons, coloring sheets, stickers, and a water bottle. Aiden had Legos and Anders had a marker and activity pad. 

Let's color! 

Anders spent half of the flight facing me across the aisle. He loved looking up and down the aisle to see everything going on. 

We made it to Orlando! When we landed, we found out Anna was already there and Heidi had just landed too. How perfect! 

We took Disney's Magical Express to our resort and checked in. We stayed at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. The boys got pirate swords and eye patches right off the bat, and carried them around all week. Disney cast members greeted them "Hi, pirate!" and they loved it! 

We dropped some of our stuff in our room and got right on the bus to Animal Kingdom. We were all hungry and had a late lunch reservation to get to. 

Little bit of an awkward family picture...we were hot and hungry and ready to get inside the park! 

These two awesome aunties came with us and totally made our trip! Holding boys, strollers and bags, packing up strollers, doing rider switches, etc. They both did it all! 

Tree of Life! 

Walking from Discovery Island to Asia, we spotted Mount Everest off in the distance! A few days before this, I had posted a similar picture on Instagram. I just love the feel of the little river. 

Our first dining reservation was for Yak & Yeti. We were super excited to make food a huge part of our vacation! I had made reservations for us back in April after lots of research, so it was fun to see the restaurants in person. 

Theming for this restaurant was cool, and our first taste of many themes throughout the week. 

I ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala. Yum!! Best meal I had the whole time on vacation. I loved it! We got a drink, entree, and dessert with every meal so we were fuuuuullllll every time we ate. 

They didn't want to sit around so we looked around the restaurant a little. 

Next up, we took a little trek through the jungle. I had been to Animal Kingdom four (?) times before and never went back there. Boy, I had missed out! 

Super cool "ruins" all over. 

We spotted a tiger! 

Next up, our Fast Passes for Expedition Everest. What a fun ride! 

The boys were ready to be out of their strollers so we headed to dig in Dinoland. 

Digging for fossils and bones. 

Another thing I had never done was The Festival of the Lion King show. This show was awesome! Lots of singing and dancing, acrobatics, fire batons, and oversized "animals" were just a few of the things we saw. I highly recommend this show! 

Next up, a stop for a quick snack. Every day we each had a quick service meal, a table service (sit-down) meal, and a snack. 

Two fresh made chocolate cookies with a scoop of ice cream in between... Wow! 

Family missing one sweet boy. 

We did the Kali River Rapids next, and it felt so good! It was super hot out with some good humidity, so we were all sweating. 

Watching the rafts for Auntie Anna and Auntie Heidi.

Mom and Dad's turn! 

We had reserved FastPass+ for the Safari right at sunset, hoping to catch some active animals and nice lighting around the savanna. We ended up not seeing many animals, but these lions made up for that. Two females and one male, keeping a close eye on the jeep. They were majestic! 

We were hungry when we got done with the safari, so we got dinner at Flame Tree Barbeque on Discovery Island. I had read about the sweet view of Everest at the sitting area, so we took our trays and searched for it. A delicious meal with this view... Complete win! 

After dinner, we meandered to the Tree of Life to watch it come to life. This was breathtaking! So, so worth an evening visit to Animal Kingdom. 

What an amazing first day! 

Check back in a few days for day 2 of our vacation. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Life Lately:: May 2016 Edition

Little bit of life lately for you today. We've been busy traveling and it just becomes difficult to keep all the balls in the air, so this blog is what drops. I never mean to take so much time off, but then all of a sudden it's a couple weeks. Eeek. 

We've been going on some beautiful evening walks. 

My three best guys! <3

One night at home, Aiden wasn't white ready for bed so I told him he could read books for ten minutes or so. This is one of the things we dreamed about when we built the big playroom in our house. At some point it'll be a nicer reading corner, but it works great for now! 

Anders found a baby stroller at a garage sale, so he's been carrying around this baby and pushing her when he's outside. It's so so cute! 

For Mothers Day, I told Dave I wanted to go for a hike. It was so much fun! 

Awesome views at Bare Bluff! 

Our good friend (& cousin!) Rudy was up, so he slept over for the night. These three played together great! 

One day, Aiden had an appointment so he and I went out by ourselves. We stopped by the park and spent some fun time, just us two. I should do that more often! 

Auntie Heidi came to visit us! 

This big boy loves airplanes. He's always building a dusty, then flying it all around the house! 

My two sweet, sweet boys! 

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole

My doctor has me on a detox diet right now. I can only have vegetables, berries, grapefruit, Granny Smith apples, quinoa, spices, olive oil & coconut oil. I've been cooking up a storm and I came up with a good recipe you could use as a main dish or side dish. 

The sweet potatoes, black beans, and avocado make it rather filling. You can play around with spices to tailor it to your family's taste. 

Mashed Sweet Potato Casserole 
4 medium sweet potatoes 
1 can black beans, rinsed 
1/4 cup fresh basil 
1/4 cup fresh cilantro 
1/4 cup diced onion
2T diced green onions 
2 garlic cloves, minced 
~1/4 cup olive oil 
1/2 avocado 
Salt, pepper, other spices 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash your sweet potatoes, cut a slit in them and place in a baking pan. Add ~1/2 cup of water, or enough so it fills the pan with 1/4 inch water. Cover with foil, and place in oven for 60 minutes. 

(I planned on putting tomatoes in the casserole, but in the end decided to make a quick salad for on the side.) 

Meanwhile, slice the onion and green onion. Chop the cilantro and basil. Put the onion, green onion, cilantro, basil, garlic, and beans into a bowl and stir. 

When the sweet potatoes come out of the oven, take them out of the pan and let them sit on your cutting board for ten minutes or so. When you can handle them without burning your fingers, peel the sweet potatoes. 

Put them in a bowl, mash them up, and add the olive oil, salt and pepper. Add more spices like red pepper flakes and parsley if you'd like. 

Mix your other bowl of ingredients into the mashed sweet potatoes, garnish with some more cilantro, green onion, and avocado and serve. 
*Before serving you may want to put it back in the oven for ten minutes to warm it up a bit. 

This was my meal that night and it was so filling. Packed with veggies and delicious!