The Great Disney Parks Moms Panel 2017 Search.

So it’s done. Submitted and out of my hands.  Once I again I find myself in the Disney Parks Moms Panel waiting room, #DisneyMP  waiting room for short. I admit, even though my reason was an incredible reason to sit out last year, at the same time, it was a little odd. I missed the waiting room, missed being a part of the excitement, I missed my people.

I have often been asked why do I continue to do this, why do I keep trying, after all after 7 years? Maybe they are trying to tell me something. And maybe they have a point. But I don’t see it. I see an incredible opportunity to do something I do so naturally, so often that it has become a part of my life. Because if I can bring the same incredible magic to at least one guest that a Walt Disney World Resort vacation has brought me, then my day is made.

And because I wrote a note to my son on back-to-school night that said. “Reach for the moon, knowing if you fall, you will always land among the stars.” How am I supposed to enforce this if I don’t abide by the rules myself?

Right, but you have made it so close in years past, what is to say this year will be any different.

I don’t. No one does. I also realize that with every year, something changes a little. What they are looking for, who they are looking for. And while those times I came close, it wasn’t me. I could be bitter. I am not. I have loved the panelist that were lucky enough to make it. I cheered them on, I still root for them. Maybe it wasn’t my year, but maybe this year it is.

Again, reaching for the moon…

And what if it isn’t my year once again?

Will I be disappointed? Yes. I think we all feel a little sad when we get those not so magical emails telling us it is not our year. But I will not think of myself any less, and I will not think of the process any less. I have also realized, the destination, while one we all love and dream about, is wonderful, but the journey has taught me so much about friendships, hopes, about never giving up. About finding out who you are, Disney nerd and all. Owning it.

And sometimes, that is worth joining the waiting room in itself.

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An 8 month update

 

Holly Hicks Photography.

Holly Hicks Photography.

It has been way to long since I have written. I apologize. Life has gotten in the way. But here I am.

So lets get on with it.

Today, baby girl turns 8 months old. I  marvel to think how this happened. It seems like yesterday Anderson and I were bundling her up to finally take her home from the NICU after her week long stay. Yet here we are.

She continue to be on the smaller side, though she is getting there. At the beginning of July, we were able to finally convince the doctor that she may have a lactose issue, and were giving the go ahead to switch her out to a lactose (and everything else) free formula along with the start of baby food. She grew a whole pound in four weeks, jumping from 9 Ibs 10 oz, to just under 11 Ibs. Considering in her previous every two month appointments she had only gained a pound each time, the pound gained in 4 weeks was great. We now have another weight checkup this  month, four weeks after the first checkup, I am assuming this may be the norm from now on. Though we are also just convinced that little lady will be a little peanut. A beautiful little peanut.

She survived her first trip to Walt Disney World this past week where she pretty much melted everyone’s heart. She had no clue where she was obviously, but every now and then I got to see the little spark of princess love. I know we are in for many more years of it.  The castle she will call her second home may not be recognizable to her at the moment, but give it time.

While she may be tiny, she is gaining personality big time. I adore her smiles and giggles, which she usually reserves for daddy and big brother. Her left thumb is constantly in her mouth, which means I am pretty sure I have a thumb sucker on my hands, and the beginnings of teething. No visible ones have made them selves known as of yet. But it is bound to happen.

She has yet to crawl, but she is a wiggler. And even though she has yet to master sitting up on her own, I know she wants to. The doctors did inform us that because she is smaller, and came a little earlier, some things may take her a little longer to do. While so many people may panic because it is not on schedule, the way I see it, take your time baby girl. Life goes by to fast as it is. The milestones can come at your own pace.

We have time. You have time.

 

A DISNEY VACATION CLUB STORY: PART III

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Its been 8  years since Anderson and I took that plunge into the Disney Vacation Club.  And how do we feel about it? Do we regret buying into it? The answer in short is absolutely not. In fact if you ask us, it has been one of the best decisions we could have ever made.
Why you ask?
Because it allows the freedom to go where we want. 
And it forces us to actually take a vacation. And before you ask, no its not just at Disney World. Three months after finding out we were expecting little man, we decided to spend some time down in Vero Beach in southern Florida. We were able to use our points to spend a couple of days at Disney’s hotel right on their private part of the beach. It was one of the most relaxing  beach getaways I have ever had. And since Anderson is not a beach person, the few days was long enough and perfect for him.  Not a beach fan? They have options for that as well. Though we have yet to take advantage of some of the other options and resorts Disney Vacation Club offers including the cruise line, adventures by Disney and traveling around the world, we one day hope to. The bottom line is there are so many other choices to choose from if we wish.
Because it allows us to take the family. 
After we had our son, my family decided to take a family vacation as the whole clan. My parents, my sisters and my 6 year old nephew along with my own. Anderson and I weren’t going to push the thought of Disney on any of them, we were perfectly happy if they wanted to go to the Outer Banks. But it was my dad who actually brought the idea of going up. He wanted to go while they could still enjoy it, while my nephew still believed in the magic. And so for two years we planned, and plotted. And Anderson and I calculated and saved points to share with the family. In the end, we were able to provide the accommodations for everyone at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, savannah view. With a two bedroom and a studio there was plenty of room for everyone. The look on the face of my nephew as he walked in for the first time, was priceless. While it didn’t cover all the financials, the fact that we could help cost with that allowed for a little flexibility elsewhere.
We repeated the trip during the summer of 2014, though at a different resort, once again relishing in the fact that the memories we were making were ones to last a lifetime.
Because it allows us to go when we want.
The reality is, we aren’t always able to take big chunks of time off. Anderson’s crazy work schedule during the season means we often don’t see one another come hockey season. So when there is a break in the schedule, we like to try and get away. Unlike some timeshares I have known we aren’t locked into a certain week. If we want to go for a couple of days to celebrate my son’s birthday in February, so be it. What about a spring break trip-awesome-in fact I recommend going down during the Flower and Garden festival personally. If we want to go down for a week and a half in July. That’s perfect as well. If we want to bank our points to go on a mega trip the year after, we can do that as well. There is no set rule that says we have to vacation this way or that way. We can go for three days or 14. It is all up to us, its how we want to vacation, when we want to vacation…I know it doesn’t work for everyone. But its perfect for us.
Because  we don’t feel rushed.
I know several families that go down and when they return they look at us and think we are nuts. ‘Its an exhausting week, I don’t think I could do it year after year.’ We thought the same thing after our honeymoon, we came back sour, tired and totally exhausted. But when we returned the year after, when we joined the DVC we found that all of a sudden we don’t have to see every show, we don’t have to ride every ride every year. In fact we don’t even have to go to the parks if we don’t want to. Some of my best memories have been doing things outside of the parks. We painted pottery with my mom, we have horseback ridden. We have made jewelry. In fact, the simple fact that we know we will be back in a year or less allows us to enjoy the simpler things that Disney has to offer. I know people look at me like I am a crazed person, but really going to Disney now and days is some of the most relaxing and lazy days there is..
 
Because if that wasn’t enough….
The look on his face is…

Our young Jedi, Logan.

Maybe we are crazy, and a little insane. I know that going to Disney World every year isn’t exactly what everyone decides to do. But every year, when I head down there and am greeted by ‘Welcome Home.’ I can’t help but smile and think yes, for me and the family.

It was right.

A Disney Vacation Club Story: Part II

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If you ask me, I am pretty sure by the time we got off the plane the decision on whether or not to join had already been made. Anderson and I had discussed and rediscussed it until it was pretty much dead. We were going to join. Still we toyed around with it, as if we were walking on egg shells. Because even though we both knew we were going to join, at the same time I think there was the unknown, that kind of scared us.

For Anderson, it was more of the thought of vacationing down there just about every other year at least. For myself it was the financials. I was totally happy with the thought of hitting up Florida, and Disney every year. But it was a lot of money to sink into. I do not want to lead on anyone when I say that it is a cheap way of vacationing. Because while yes it will save you money, it will take a couple of years until you actually start seeing that savings taking effect. And if you go in thinking its a free program, and you will automatically start seeing that savings pay off. I think one would actually be quite disappointed.

 Then again, it would pretty much ensure that we would have a vacation to go on from here until whenever. And from where I sat, on the other end of things with a husband who reluctantly went on vacations. Well that deal seemed pretty good.

All we would need to do was crunch a little bit of some numbers.
Which thanks to my father in law we did within the week.

Now all we had to do was agree. Or rather to come out and say that yes officially.
Still we thought about it. We talked about it. To everyone else, we were crazy. After all, going to Disney every year is not everyone’s cup of tea. And to think that it was ours, as mentioned seemed absurd to most. There were several who questioned us. Wouldn’t we get old of it? Tired of it? And wasn’t it for kids? And since we were two people without kids, what was the point? We did our best to back each question with a response. I tried to remind people that it was no different than buying a beach house, I mean the beach never changes?(I pointed out Disney did from time to time) Do you they get bored of sitting there looking at the same beach every year? Does it ever get old to them? As for the statement of being for kids, well I tend to believe everyone is a kid at heart, and have had more enjoyment out of the parks since becoming an ‘adult’ than when I was kid. And while we didn’t have any kids at the time, one day we would and wouldn’t that be something to enjoy with the kids for years to come?

Some got our points. Some didn’t
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And while a few tried to discourage us from joining. Anderson and I in the end decided to not listen to them. It made us happy. And simply when it came down to things, well that is all that matters in the long run…

And so we signed those papers, naming our home resort as Saratoga Springs, had them notarized and sent them off to the good folks at DVC and made it official. We were members.

Welcome Home.
Now the only question that remains is do I still feel the same way seven years later?

A Disney Vacation Club Story Part I.

A couple years ago I wrote a blog post regarding why we decided on becoming Disney Vacation Club members. Years later, we are still just as happy about our decision and since it has been awhile I figured I would revisit this three part blog series with you, sharing our reasoning, our process and our thoughts regarding being members…
Seven years ago Anderson and I made our way down to the happiest place in the world on vacation. It was the second time in two years we had done so. The first being on our honeymoon. Yes we had loved it so much we decided to go back down. This gained thousands of questions from family and friends who immediately questioned why were heading back down. After all we had just been. Of course now they merely shrug and bat an eye when we mention this. But back then, believe me this was a foreign thought to most everyone in our little circle.
But that second trip would change everything. You see mid way through our vacation we hopped on one of the many Disney buses that would take us back to the resort, we were tired, exhausted and looking forward to getting back for an evening of relaxation. The bus was unusually empty. The only other passenger’s was a family-whom just happened to be from just outside the DC area-they were discussing their next trip down. They were throwing around words like points, and villas and DVC left and right. Now I had heard of DVC, one of my best friends had a mother that was a member. I was lucky enough to stay with them for a couple of days back in the early days. And even if she hadn’t how could you have missed the signs around the park. After all they are practically around every corner. But as we listened to them, even Anderson’s ears began to perk.
Perhaps I should really blame that bus ride. Because we soon found ourselves talking to that very family, who talked us into at least checking out what DVC had to offer. Because we were young, and we didn’t have anything else to do. They sat there telling us of all these great memories with their kids, how they wished they would have done it a lot sooner than they did. And how we would be lucky if we did it sooner than later. They encouraged us to even take a listen to what they offered if nothing more Disney would provide fast passes for our times. Which is what I think sold the husband on the whole willing to listen to the speech.
As the bus pulled into our resort we thanked them and made our way-which was the Wilderness Lodge-and wouldn’t you know there in the lobby was the DVC stand. Anderson and I looked at one another. I mean what did we have to lose? Twenty minutes? And so we found ourselves signing up for a session the following day.
In all honesty we were there more for the fast passes. Were we interested in the DVC? Yes but neither of us really knew if we were exactly serious about it. Still we went, we listened and we came with an open ear and mind. While I don’t remember specifics about the discussion it has after all been five years. But I remember the guy really getting to know us. And I remember being asked three questions.
1. Are you willing to vacation here at least once every other year?
2. Are you willing to have a lifetime of memories?
3. Can you afford $$ a month.
We didn’t answer these question, only told to think about them and discuss them at home. Which was fabulous since it was a lot to process. I liked the fact it wasn’t pushy. I didn’t feel like I had to make the decision right then and there. After the discussion we we were told they would have a packet of info waiting for us back at the hotel. He shook my husbands hand and told us not to think to much about it until we got home In fact he didn’t want us to make a decision until then. As promised he handed us the fast passes and we were on our way. They even dropped us off at the location of our choice, Epcot. Where we slipped among our fellow vacationers, none of whom knew that we had just learned. ‘The Best Kept Secret.’
But like every good secret, would we be able to keep it? And would it be right to do so?