Wednesday, March 28, 2012


It is fun, fun, fun in the sun here in South Florida. (Or SoFL or Flo-rida as Big Daddy and I sometimes call it.)

Most days we head to Siesta Key Beach. The sand at Siesta Key is so soft and so fine that it literally feels like all purpose flour. No joke. We love it!

But this week we also visited Turtle Beach for the first time. Turtle Beach is named for the turtles that nest there (turns out they nest from May to October, much to JR and ML's disappointment. :-) It was such a different beach, but different in a nice way. The sand there is 'black' or dirty sand. It's much like the sand on the Atlantic side of Florida. It's very corse and made of tiny bits of seashells.

But because of that - we also found many more awesome shells than we usually find at Siesta Key. So cool!

The strangest part to me, was that when we finally settled on the beach and looked to our right - there (miles) to the right was Siesta Key! How in the world these two very different beaches could exist just miles from one another baffles me, but I love them both.

We also visited the Sarasota Jungle Gardens to feed the flamingos again. So fun!

Finally, when we aren't feeding flamingos or sunning at the beach, we can be found in the pool.

Got to love it! One of my Facebook friends posted and I think I must agree - It doesn't get much better than this. And if it does, I don't think I can stand it!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend Update

It has been busy, busy around the Owen's house! We are in SoFl with my in laws, hanging at the beach and missing Big Daddy terribly!

But here are some highlights of our week.

We got a letter in the mail stating that the computer that runs the hybrid battery on my Toyota had been recalled - yikes! So we took it in for service. It was one of those 'all day' type things, so Big Daddy came and picked us up and brought us to his office. His office is in one of those live/ work/ play communities, so ML and I spent the day at the playground, getting ice cream, and shopping etc. It was the most be-u-ti-ful day!

Always a happy, dancing girl!

Connect 4 came in our BK kids meal - how fun!

Playroom at Big Daddy's office.

We got new sunnys.

ML was tested for Kindergarten admittance!

And on our way down here, we stopped by Gainsville on the advice from a friend who went to med school (and possibly undergrad?) at U of F to see the stadium and eat at this awesome 'locals' place - Burrito Brothers. She said it was a hole in the wall, and boy was she right! If there hadn't been 500 'this parking isn't for Burrito Brothers!' signs around, we'd have never found it!

I know, I know - jorts. But JR has 'blue jean pass' day at school on Fridays...... :-(

So hard to find, but so yummy!

Up next Sunny??? FL pics!
Monday, March 19, 2012

Beautiful Weather!

The weather has been amazing!!! Our church has been doing a sermon series on being aware of the poor called "Blind." On Sunday, everyone was encouraged to walk to church, to help us realize how difficult it is to get around without transportation.
We go to a large church, but it's still kind of a neighborhood church, so we really could walk to church from our house, but we'd have to cross a busy highway. Originally, I thought we would park at the Nature Trail and walk from there, but with JR's illness, and ML and I running late, we ended up parking at Publix (the pre arranged parking spot for those who live to far away to walk) and walking from there.
It was a perfect day for walking! And even at her young age, ML and I were able to have some really neat conversations about how having a car is a blessing and how having a car makes things so much easier for us as a family.

When we got home, all the kids wanted to do was PLAY outside! So we let them do just that.

We have so many fun neighbors to play with! We are soooo lucky!

We ended up eating dinner out on the patio. First time this year and it was awesome!

Today ended up being rather interesting. ML was so excited to get back to school, but 30 minutes after I dropped her off, they called saying it looked like she had pink eye. BOOOO!

But it turned out to be a nice day. We had fun playing games at home and had a nice lunch with Big Daddy before heading to the doctor and then to pick up JR.
We ended the day playing in the back yard. Looks like nothing but sunshine in the future - it's like living in Arizona or California or Florida! And I'm loving it!
Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Pat's 2012

Our St. Patrick's Day started with the discovery that a leprechaun had visited our house last night and scattered a rainbow throughout our house! Once we found all of the pieces of the rainbow, we were led to a 'pot of gold' containing a golden certificate for ice cream later on! Woo! I got the idea (and free printables!) here. The kids LOVED it!

After breakfast, Big Daddy had to head out to a house auction and ML and I got ready for the St. Patrick's Day parade.

My parents joined us at the parade and we had a great time.

After the parade, we all headed out to have some corned beef and cabbage.

The plan was to head back out to one of Big Daddy's neighborhoods to watch the second annual 'dying of the fountain' like last year, but we got home and Big Daddy got into his upstairs project:

and we just never made it back.

We did however, redeem those 'golden tickets' for ice cream!

Hope your St. Pat's was as great as ours!
Friday, March 16, 2012

Do Nothing Day

Today was another 'do nothing day.' JR is still in flu lock down and ML is still under surveillance for any symptoms (none yet - yay! So thankful!) So we kind of hung out in the living room all morning watching TV and playing games, etc.

For lunch I thought we could all use a change of scenery, so I thought we could hop in the car and go through a drive thru to pick up some food.

I have a very sweet friend, Sarah, whose son, Carter, was diagnosed with a brain tumor last October. Carter has had a long and difficult struggle thus far (please keep Carter in your prayers!) but one particular problem has been keeping Carter eating during the chemo treatments. The chemo made him feel so sick, he didn't want to eat. Some of Carter's favorite food is from a chicken chain called Bojangles. Some days Carter would ask for Bojangles food by name, but there is no Bojangles in Memphis, so there was no way to get Bojangles during treatment at St. Judes.

Well guess what? Yesterday, Bojangles mailed Carter a huge cooler full of hot, seasoned french fries, biscuits, and all sorts of other goodies. Yay!!!!

So to show my appreciation, the kids and I went and ate at Bojangles for the first time.
And can I just say - it was AMAZING!!! I am totally going back. Those seasoned fries are the bomb. The bomb I tell you.

After lunch there was some more swinging in the back yard.
She loves the swing set. It was our Christmas gift to the kids this year. Best present ever, thus far.

Mr. Mess himself wasn't into posing for photos any more. Further proof that he's feeling so much better.

Well, I'm off to track a pot of gold! Hope your St. Pat's Day is magical!
Thursday, March 15, 2012

Inside Out

Today we took it slow. JR is home with the flu of course and I kept ML home because I'm always terrified that my kid will be the one who starts an epidemic in their classroom. Ha! Seriously though, I would be so bummed if anyone caught something from us, so we're all quarantined until further notice. Or Monday. Whichever comes first.

We spent all morning and most of the afternoon inside. It's been so nice out that we were able to open the windows most of the day. Around 3, we couldn't stand it any longer and we headed out into the back yard.

ML had some bubbles that she had received at one of the birthday parties we went to last Saturday. She insisted on opening them herself. Which lead to the terrible disaster of ALL of her bubbles being spilled on the ground. I mean, WHY do they have to seal those things up like Ft. Knox???? Makes no sense. Do they enjoy torturing young children? They have to know that kids are going to want to get into them as soon as possible. (On second thought, I may owe the bubble packaging designers a debt of gratitude as well as clean car carpets, as I bet there would be bubbles all over my car right now if it weren't for that darn foil seal! Ha!)

Luckily, I remembered that I had a bubble machine sitting on a shelf in the garage. I really bought it last fall on clearance because I thought the batteries (included!) were worth more than the price of the machine. Woo!

ML was soooo excited when I brought this to the back yard.

Check it out. I am a clearance buying genius. Who knew?
Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Playing Catch Up

Playing a little catch up with things we have done over the last few weeks.

We've been out for ice cream. It has been so warm! This week will be highs in the upper 70's low 80's all week! And it's the second week of March. I almost can't believe it. I'm tempted to put away all the winter things...... but I'm scared of Mr. Murphy and his laws.

ML went bowling with her class and loved it. She has the funniest 'swing' where it looks more like she is rocking a baby in her arms (a la Dumbo's mama) and then she just has one last giant swing where she throws the ball down the lane. Too cute!

ML and I have played - a LOT in the playroom, as usual. :-)

We had our first ever 'dance picture weekend.' I had heard so much about these and how difficult these events can be, that I was kind of let down that it wasn't more of an ordeal. Ha! It might have been because we only had one outfit and we didn't get to do the group picture, but our dance pictures were rather calm. Miss Priss is a natural in front of the camera (of course!)

Our aunt sent us super cool stuff from her extended trip to Korea! Thanks Aunt D and Aunt S!

It's baseball season again! Time for a new glove. Did you know gloves START at like $50???? Yikes! Who knew?

And finally - this is what we've been up to today.
Mr. Sicky Mcsicky woke up throwing up and congested and with a high fever.............. you guessed it - flu. Booooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. :-(

Bless it - he was so cold waiting on the doctor!

(but he made that face all on his own for show. Ha!)

And this is what he looked like most of the day:

Bless it.

So thankful to have him to hold and snuggle though. So thankful that he only has the flu.

Hope your day has been sunny and bright!
Monday, March 12, 2012

Dining at Disney

Yummy main entrees served family style at the Garden Grill Restaurant in Epcot - a Character meal with Mickey, Pluto, Chip & Dale

Whew! I am soooo ready to be back to 'normal' blogging - you know the boring stuff like what we did today, etc. So here, without further ado (adu?) is my final Disney segment. Friends who are visiting this a long time later, I'm so sorry I split this up over three months, I know it's harder to find that way! :-(

First things first - After the fact that all Disney hotels are AMAZING and that we LOVE staying on property and using the free buses, etc., the #1 reason we stay on property is so we can purchase a package that includes the Disney Dining Plan. It really is the BEST use of your money as far as food goes.

Now. It's only the best use of your money because Disney has MADE it the best use of your money. For example, I don't know of a buffet in the country that could get by charging $35.99 for a nice dinner buffet. But at Disney, that's par for the course. Crazy prices like this, make the Dining Plan (where you could get that $35 buffet, plus a lunch and a snack for just $8 more) seem like a steal and therefore, more people buy the Disney Dining Plan, right? Following along here?

And here's the kicker. In order to get the Disney Dining Plan, you have to be staying at a Disney Resort Hotel. So do you see how smart this makes Disney? In order to make the best use of your dining money, they have you buy a dining plan (where you pre pay all of your meals) AND they fill up their hotels. Pretty genius, right? Guess they didn't become a muti billion dollar company by accident! Ha!

So, there are 3 types of Dining Plan, plus a few add ons. I don't know much about the add ons, as we have never used them, but I will describe the 3 types that we have used and hopefully that will be some useful information to start with.

I did want to mention, before I begin describing the plans, that you will prepay for all of your food and at that point your meals will be put on your account as "credits." You will be able to use those credits whenever you order and pay for your meal by handing the cashier/ waiter your Key to the World card (KTTW.) Your Key to the World card is essentially just a glorified hotel room key. It will be personalized with your name and it will be your room key, your dining credits and your park ticket (all on one card - how awesome is that?) Once you hand the cashier/ waiter your KTTW card, they'll just deduct what is called a 'dining credit' from your account. So 1 meal = 1 credit. Hope that's clear as mud! Ha!

Quick Service Dining Plan:
Quick Service (also called Counter Service) is a meal where you order at a 'window' and carry your meal to the table yourself. Kind of like a fast food meal, but not entirely. People often tell us they 'got tired of eating chicken nuggets and hamburgers at WDW.' Which is something you can do if you want, but you are NOT in any way limited to just hamburgers and chicken nuggets at Disney Quick Service locations. One of our favorite Quick Service locations is Cosmic Ray's in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom. There, I get a 1/4 rotisserie chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans (for the same price as a hamburger!) and Big Daddy usually gets the 1/4 chicken and ribs with green beans and mashed potatoes. THAT is a yummy dinner and not in any way 'fast food.' There are choices like that in all of the parks and at the resorts, so with Quick Service, you are never limited to standard fast food fare.
Chinese Stir Fry (kids meal!) and Grilled Chicken Ceasar Salad from Sunshine Seasons in Epcot - not your standard 'hamburgers and chicken nuggets!

The Quick Service Plan currently comes with 2 Quick Service meals and one snack per day. If you are a big breakfast eater, or if you will need an additional afternoon snack, you'll need to budget a little extra ($3 to $10 per person per day) in food costs. You can totally use your snack credit for breakfast - muffins, donuts, pastries, bowls of cereal, bowls of fruit, yogurt parfaits, etc. all qualify as snacks. As do bottles of water, popcorn, pretzels, soft drinks, smoothies, cupcakes, desserts, ice cream and soooooo much more in the parks!

All of these items pictured - cakes, fruit, uncrustables count as snacks on the Dining Plans! Sooooo many choices!

Another favorite! And a way Snacks can be 'breakfast.' This giant cinnamon roll from the Main Street Bakery in the Magic Kingdom is considered a 1 credit Snack. As is the coffee!

Next is the Disney Dining Plan:(Update: Also called "Plus" Dining as of 2012)
The Disney Dining Plan currently includes 1 snack, 1 Quick Service, and 1 Table Service meal per day. (well, technically per night since if you are staying 4 nights, you get 4 'days' of meals, and so on)
Table service is any meal where you have a waiter/ waitress.

This is our favorite dining plan and the best use of our money that we have found. If you are going to do ANY character meals, this is the plan for you! A few tips:
If you are a math/ money/ budget loving nerd, I feel I need to point out that the BEST use of your money/ Table Service credits will be to book Table Service dinners instead of lunches or breakfasts. For example, if you take your kids to the Pooh and Friends breakfast at the Crystal Palace in the Magic Kingdom, and pay out of pocket (no dining plan) you'll pay roughly $20 per adult. If you go for dinner (same characters, just different time of day) you would be paying $35 per adult.
Since we are on the dining plan and have already paid our $45 (or whatever the rate is at the time you read this) per adult for our meals that day, the 'Best' use of our money would be to eat at the Crystal Palace for dinner.
Now, if you don't care about the best use of your money - and sometimes we don't for various reasons, early morning castle pictures, etc.- then you can book whatever time of day you want. I just wanted to point that out. :-)

Finally - the Deluxe Dining Plan-
The Deluxe Dining Plan has changed from when we used it last. It now includes 1 Snack, and 2 Table Service meals per day.
When we last used the Deluxe plan it was a ridiculous amount of food - I think it was 3 Table Service and 2 snacks per person per day. Gah! It was waaaaaay too much food! This plan is pricey, but if you like to have a waiter/ waitress and you want to experience more of WDW's awesome restaurants, this is the plan for you!


Those are the only 3 plans I feel I can cover. The add ons include things like Wine & Dine (or something like that?) where you prepay for some alcohol costs, but I'm not sure which or how much they are.

A few more points about the Dining Plan:

1 -There is pretty much NOWHERE on Disney property that you can't use your Disney Dining Plan credits. Every restaurant in the parks, every counter service in the parks, every snack cart in the parks, most restaurants at Downtown Disney - they all accept the Disney Dining Plan. (Yes, even Cinderella's Royal Table in the castle!) So don't stress that you'll be limited in your eating choices.

2 - MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS 180 days in advance! Critical! When we were new to this, I would get up at 6 am Central (because the 407-WDW- DINE opened at 7 am Eastern) to be first in line to get my dining reservations! This is most crucial if you want to dine with princesses, followed by dining with Mickey, and so on. Now, you can get on as early as 5 am Central to make your reservations online using Disney's online Dining Reservation system. You can make your reservations for your entire stay 180 days before the first day of your trip.

Everyone wants to dine (and dance!) with Cinderella and Prince Charming - seen here at 1900 Park Fare in the Grand Floridian, so make those reservations!

3 -You can use your credits whenever you want. They aren't tied to specific days. So for example, if you wanted to do nothing but eat for the first 3 days and then not eat again for the last 3 days, that's totally up to you (although who would do that? Ha!) You can stay for 6 nights and use all 6 of your Quick Service Credits the first 3 days and use your 6 Table Service credits the last 3 days, Disney simply doesn't care. They just credit them to your account/ room and they are yours to use as you wish!

Okay, hope I have helped! I will be adding more pictures as I come across the or take them! Thanks for reading all of this and I hope it helped!