Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Disney Days - Where to stay - Off Property?

We go to Disney - a lot. We like Walt Disney World - a lot. We get asked about Walt Disney World - a lot. (And we love it, so don't stop asking! Ha!) But I thought I would type out some basic info that I would have love to have known before I went to WDW for the first time and post them here on the blog so that I can (hopefully remember where they are and) refer people to them when they tell me they are headed out on a WDW vacation!

So, without further ado - here are my Walt Disney World Vacation tips:

First things first: Where are you going to stay?

Offsite: Here's the thing, I recommend that you stay onsite, if at all possible. (Reasons for staying on site to come.) But there are some Uh-mazing places at some Uh-mazing prices to stay offsite, so if offsite works best for your family or your budget - GO FOR IT!
They have everything offsite. From 6 bedroom homes with pools and game rooms, to 1, 2, or 3 bedroom condos, to regular old hotel rooms. I've had several friends who have rented houses, but I can't remember what rental companies they used right now. As they remind me of the rental company names, I'll come back here and list them, so that you'll have a starting place as far as house rentals go.
The condo options are endless - seriously. Be cautious about a 'too good to be true' deal though - as most condo places are time shares and sometimes they will offer unbelievable deals, but in the fine print you'll have to agree to a 2+ hour presentation about why you should buy into their time share. Yuck - not the way you want to spend your vacation time that's for sure! Again, I'll come in and add condo suggestions as people I know and trust recommend them to me.
The hotel rooms are endless as well! We have stayed at 2 La Quinta's in the Orlando area. Once was on our way to see a shuttle launch (so we didn't pick it based on convenience to WDW - keep that in mind!) - La Quinta Inn & Suites Convention Center. It was nice enough - not 5 star, so if you're looking for luxury go elsewhere! It is also closer to SeaWorld than WDW, so may be an option if you are looking into doing both SeaWorld and WDW and staying offsite.

(A super fuzzy iPhone pic of our room at the La Quinta Convention Center - I know you're loving it right? :-) We only stayed one night - I think for free with points, so I don't have any other pictures of the hotel. I don't even think we stayed for breakfast as we had to be in Cape Canaveral at 7 am or something crazy like that! I do remember this was the night before the "Royal Wedding" in England. Everyone was complaining about having to get up so early and we were up anyway, watching it while we got ready.

We've also stayed at another La Quinta for one night- this one was super convenient to WDW even though it was a few miles away from any park. Keep that in mind - when a hotel advertises they are " ONLY 3 miles from WDW property," they don't mean you are only 3 miles from the parks! They mean they are only 3 miles away from the edge of the property WDW owns. Once you get on WDW property you may have to drive another 3 to 10 miles to get to a park.

The best thing about this La Quinta though was there was no stop and go traffic to get through. You just got on the road and were on WDW property in no time. (Typically, once you get on WDW property, there is not a ton of traffic. Some stop and go, but we've never been in an actual bumper to bumper traffic situation on WDW property.) Some of the hotels on International Drive will take you 15 to 30 minutes just to get to WDW property. This is because of all of the stoplights and the massive amounts of traffic in that part of Orlando. I-4 gets backed up often too. Traffic is the last thing I'd want to deal with on vacation (which is one of the reasons I recommend staying on property :-) so be sure to chose your hotel location wisely.

That's all I've got for off property! Up next: On property. Lots of pictures for this one!
Saturday, January 28, 2012

Lost & Found

Long time, no blog. Not that I haven't had much to say. (If you know me, you know that's impossible! Ha!) And not that I haven't had much to report - it's crazy as usual around here. :-)

But you see, I no likey blog posts with no pictures and I figure all 7 of my readers (even you Russians -lol) feel the same way! And Big Daddy messed up my iPhoto big time last week. So badly, I couldn't even access my pictures. He says it wasn't his fault, but really - he was the one who started the mess, so it's just easier to lay the blame on the person closest to the fall out zone - right???? Ha!

In reality, he used his fancy schmancy Mac Book Pro to access some pictures on my simple ol' Macbook and it threw my computer for a loop. All of the sudden my computer was too big for it's britches. Kept asking me to 'upgrade to a higher version of iPhoto" all because Big Daddy had used a higher version of iPhoto to "edit the desired photos." We said to heck with that and eventually got around to asking all of our nerdy friends what to do - and someone knew the answer - Score! (I knew there was a reason I loved living in a city of engineers!)

We did recover all the pics though - even the oldest ones. This is from our first trip to Disney waaaaay back in 2008:

Despite all my complaining about the lack of iPhoto access, I have very few photos to share.

We had a great time over MLK Day weekend - We had some great 'new' friends over for dinner - here's a shout out to Last Morning's Adventures

We went to see Beauty in the Beast in 3D with the cousins. Which I loved.
I mean, really. Is anything more (cinematically) awe inspiring than that pan down shot of the chandelier in the ballroom while Beauty and the Beast are dancing??? I think not. ;-) And that Rapunzel short at the beginning? Hysterical!

We've had some playdates, etc. Just normal stuff.

Big Daddy has started on JR's 'new' room:

I bought ML a new dresser and lined the drawers with fabric:

And Miss Priss keeps me laughing. Today she asked me to take this 'family' picture. Then she asked to see it. After viewing the photo, she said, "It's pretty good, but too bad the kids (her dolls) are looking down instead of at the camera." And she was dead serious! Hysterical!

Happy Sunday Funday everyone!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

And the rain, rain, rain came down, down, down

Can I even have a post title that long? Guess I can!

It has been a week of rain, rain, and more rain. And then tonight??? SNOW!!! I wore flip flops on Saturday it was so warm. Crazy stuff.

So we haven't been up to much. I have caught up on some TV and cleaned out some closets. I've also been working on some plans for our next trip to the Mouse House.

Big Daddy has a conference in Orlando. Who are we to not attend with him and show our support? Ha!

The kids have had an after school play date each

and we are all looking forward to the weekend! It's going to be a busy one, in a good way.
Monday, January 9, 2012

Sleep Overs

It was a weekend of sleepovers at the Owen's House! On Friday night, JR spent the night with a good friend from school. Big Daddy, ML and I cooked dinner and had a quiet evening at home. (It's always much quieter with JR gone. LOL He's got one of those loud voices and will always be one of those people who will never be able to truly whisper. Bless it. :-)

Saturday, Big Daddy and ML were able to spend the night at the McWayne Center. Judging by the pictures they had a pretty awesome time!

They saw an IMAX movie -

about Haiti (total God thing!) - and were able to do all kinds of other fun things. Big Daddy sent me movies of ML doing a zip line and a HUGE slide and all kinds of other things. So amazing to think my 'baby' is old enough to do all of this stuff!

It was a dads and daughters event, and Big Daddy said there were at least 100 other girls there. ML had a blast.

While ML and Big Daddy were gone, JR had a friend spend the night at our house. I hadn't really planned to cook, knowing the Big Daddy and ML would be gone, so we went to a local Mexican restaurant and had a good time eating chips and salsa and way too much other food and listening to some live music.

Sunday was dreary. After church, Big Daddy had a meeting, so the kids and I just vegged and ML and I ended up napping most of the afternoon. We woke up just in time for the best spaghetti ever, cooked by Big Daddy. :-)

Hope your weekend was just as great!
Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012 - Take One!

We had a great new year! We spent New Year's Eve celebrating the birthday of my dear friend, Ms. Susan. So excited to celebrate with her, as this was the first year in a long time that we weren't in Chicago for NYE.

All of our decorations are down and the house looks a little sad and empty. Look at all the space our tree was taking up in the family room!

New Year's Day seemed kind of off to me this year. No Tournament of Roses' Parade, church, etc. Different for sure. But we still had our greens and black eyed peas, cornbread and ham! Yum!

Today was a BIG day for ML. About a year ago, she first brought up having her ears pierced. We went over what having your ears pierced encompasses (including how much it might hurt) and she decided she wasn't ready. Well, for about a month now, she has asked every. day. if she could have her ears pierced. I kept putting it off. "Wait until after Thanksgiving." Wait until after Christmas.", etc. But she was relentless.

So with JR back at school, today was the day. I called all the local jewelry stores, but no luck. Our only ear piercing options were Claire's in the mall or a tattoo/ piercing place (Um. No thank you. I think they'd laugh us out of the place! Haha! A total suburban mom and her hairbow wearing daughter? Hysterical!)

So off the Claire's we went.

It was fast and easy. ML did cry, but she LOVES her earrings and she's shown them to absolutely everyone who will slow down long enough to see them. We went to Target and she showed them to everyone we saw. Love it!

New year and already new things.