Sun Rays and Disney Days

We were so grateful to get to go on a vacation to Florida this month! Ryan gets 3 weeks of vacation throughout his first year, so we coordinated it with my family’s vacation to one of our favorite places, Siesta Key, Florida. With the way our week worked out, we also got to visit Disney World for 3 days…another one of our favorites! Originally with Ryan’s schedule, he would get to go to Siesta with us, but not Disney. After he pulled some strings at work, he found a way to go with us for the entire trip, and we were all SO grateful. We all needed that quality Daddy time! Here are the highlights from our trip.

PART I: Siesta Key

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The Beach

We came here last December, and Kinsie was a little beach baby. She was obsessed! Brax wasn’t even mobile yet, so he spent most of his time in the tent. This time, we had two beach babies! Brax wasn’t a huge fan of the ocean (the waves scared him), but he loved playing in the sand. All the kids loved chasing birds, getting buried in the sand as different animals and characters, and building sand castles and animals. The older kids loved the ocean until we realized how many jellyfish were in the area. Both Kinsie and her cousin Briggs got stung by jellyfish…but luckily nothing too severe. After that, they were all a little skeptical about getting in the water…and they called themselves the “jellyfish cousins.”

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The Pool

All five of the cousins are little water bugs. We spent a few days by the pool, and ALL the kids were having fun. Brax wanted to jump in over and over again…he honestly didn’t even care if he went under water. I’m also pretty sure that being in the pool with her cousins is one of Kinsie’s happiest happy places!

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The Boat Ride

We rented a boat while in Siesta Key, and it was such a fun and crazy day! We ate cinnamon rolls, got splashed by large waves, saw dolphins and manatees, got stuck on a sandbar, got lost, and had lunch at a restaurant on the water. We all loved every part of the crazy adventure…especially the dolphins!

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Lots of Much-Needed Family Time

I know, this is vague, and cheesy…but it’s true. Now that we live apart, time with family is so special. Especially with the kids…they all love each other so much and they are just giddy when they are all together. All of the kids have a special relationship and it is so fun watching them grow up together. And like I mentioned earlier, it was so nice having a full week of Ryan. The kids were all about Daddy all week!

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PART II: Disney World

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We spent the last 3 days of our trip at Disney World…and it was as magical as ever! It was SUPER crowded…more than I remember it ever being, but we still made the best of it and had a great time. The characters have always been Kinsie’s favorite part, and she still loved them, but oh my sweet Brax…he adored the characters! It melted my heart to see him stare in the face of Mickey Mouse in complete awe and give each character hug after hug. His reaction to seeing Mickey in the parade was priceless! Some of our other favorites of the day were Small World, the parade, the fireworks, and the Haunted Mansion ride. Kinsie talked about this ride ALL day, but the line was always too long. Finally after the fireworks, the line was down so we went. Kinsie fell asleep on Ryan’s shoulders on the way there, so we just let her sleep while we waited in line. We woke her up before we got on the ride and she LOVED it. She is still talking about it every day. It was a long but wonderful day!

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Animal Kingdom

This is another one of our favorite parks in Disney, and we really wanted to see all the new Avatar stuff (it was AMAZING by the way). It was ridiculously hot this day…like sticky, heavy, hard to breathe hot. But we powered through it and still enjoyed our day. We loved the safari, the characters, the Avatar ride, and the evening lights show on the water. We were exhausted at the end of the day, but it was worth it.

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Chef Mickey’s

My parents surprised the kids with tickets to Chef Mickey’s. I was probably just as excited as the kids to experience this! We went to a restaurant where Mickey and the gang danced around and came around to visit with everyone. The kids loved it and the food was on point!

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Disney Springs

We spent our last evening just walking around Disney Springs. The only other time I remember coming here, we were only there for a few minutes so we didn’t really get to enjoy it. It was so nice to just take our time and enjoy everything there was to see. We especially loved the Lego store and the T-Rex Cafe. We didn’t even eat there, we just walked around and played in the dino digging area!

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We had such a great trip and loved spending time with family, but we were also ready to be home. After lots of crowds, traffic and congestion, we were ready to be back in our quiet town. Our flights to and from Florida were both very eventful…we BARELY made it onto our flight on the way there…but after cutting everyone in the security line and sprinting to our gate, we made it. On the way back, we were on different flights from Orlando to Atlanta, but on the same flight from Atlanta to Little Rock. Ryan took Brax and I had Kinsie. Ryan’s flight was running a little later than scheduled, so as he got to the gate of the second flight, they were shutting the door and wouldn’t let him in. As he argued with the lady at the gate, I was talking to the captain and trying to see if he could get him on the plane. He was trying really hard to help us because he knew we were a family and we just wanted to get home. If they weren’t going to let him on, Kinsie and I were going to get off and we could all find a new flight together…although I really didn’t want to do that since the kids were exhausted and Kinsie had school the next day. The captain called the official Delta people and it was a long ordeal, but they FINALLY let him on. As he and Brax got on the plane, everyone applauded! Later when we got off the plane in Little Rock, everyone who passed by us said they were happy for us! It was a crazy experience, and we were SO happy to be home!

Beach Babes

At the beginning of Winter break, we were able to take a trip to Siesta Key, Florida with my family. Our family owns a condo in the area, so we used to go all the time when I was in high school and college. However, with the busy-ness of life with kids, and a med student husband whose time is not his own, we have only been there once since Kinsie was born, and she was a baby so she didn’t remember.

My parents and my sister’s family flew in a few days before we did, because I had to finish my last few days of school before Winter Break started, and Ryan had another residency interview trip to return from. In those days, we had a major ice storm in Indiana, which delayed and cancelled many flights…ours being one of them. We ended up flying the next day straight to Orlando – which really worked out better for us because we were planning on spending that afternoon and evening at the Magic Kindom for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party anyway before spending the rest of our vacation in Siesta Key. We were all THRILLED to get away from the freezing cold weather!

This was our first time traveling with 2 kids. While the kids were absolute champs, traveling with two is quite different than just one! Our time at the airport was complete chaos with all of our luggage including 2 car seats, wrangling the two kids, trying to prevent Brax from spitting up all over the airport seats while trying not to spill our coffee on ourselves, the kids, or even the floor (can’t waste that gold!) Kinsie was excited to roll her own suitcase through the airport. She spent the flight singing Christmas songs to everyone and watching episodes of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and Brax slept the majority of the flight. During the time he was awake, he was happy but crazy (per usual!) He made loud happy squeals, smiled at everyone around him, and squirmed so much that we were sweating by the end of the flight. Like I said…the trip wasn’t bad, just chaotic!

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Once we flew into Orlando, my parents picked us up and we headed straight to Disney World. We didn’t buy regular admission tickets, just for the Christmas Party…so we were able to enter the park at 4pm. As soon as we got there, the first thing we did was meet Mickey. Brax was beyond tired at this point, so he really needed to nap, but I really wanted him to get to meet Mickey. He LOVED him! Kinsie and the other kids of course loved him too! During our time at Magic Kingdom, we rode a few rides, watched the parade and the fireworks (our favorite parts), ate Christmas cookies, and had a dance party with the reindeer! We were there until after midnight, and Brax slept on and off in the stroller, and Kinsie not only stayed awake the entire time we were there, but walked the entire time! Even when we held Brax and offered the stroller to Kinsie, she wanted to walk. Finally as we were leaving the park after midnight, Kinsie passed out in Ryan’s arms. We drove back to Siesta Key that night and arrived at 3am. It was a long, exhaustic, but wonderful evening!

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Kinsie was only 9 months old when we went to Siesta Key last, and while she loved the pool and the sunshine, she was not the biggest fan of the beach – mainly because she was too little to run around and enjoy it. The closest we have come to the beach since then was last summer when we went to the Dunes for a family reunion. Kinsie loved that beach, so I figured she would be in heaven on Siesta Key Beach…one of the world’s best and most beautiful beaches. Boy, was I right! She spent all-day every day at the beach. Ryan and I took turns in the condo with Brax for his naps, but Kinsie always stayed on the beach either with one of us, or with my parents. Brax obviously couldn’t enjoy it as much as Kinsie, but that kid has fun doing just about anything. He enjoyed it the best he could!

Kinsie loved spending time with her cousins. They spent a ton of time playing in the ocean, finding sea shells and seaweed, chasing seagulls, and making sand castles (and sand hippos too). We were there on my mom’s birthday, so we had a cookout on the beach on that day. Brax ended up coming down with an upper respiratory infection while we were there, so he was a bit needier than usual, but he still did very well considering. Ryan and I really wanted to get the chance to go fishing on the dock, but it was difficult to find the time. We tried to go during Brax’s naps, but he didn’t sleep more than 45 minutes at a time since he didn’t feel good. On the last night of our trip, we were able to make it happen once the kids were in bed. We didn’t get many bites that night, so we went back with the kids the next day before going to the airport. Ryan finally caught a snapper, so we were excited that we at least got something during the trip!

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We all had such a great time. The weather was perfect while we were there, making it hard to come back to Indiana. We can’t wait to go back again!

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Kinsie and her Best Friend, Mickey Mouse

Shortly after finding out about Baby #2, we decided to take another Disney trip with Kinsie. We hadn’t been on a vacation in a while, and it will be much harder to travel for a while once the baby is born, so we figured this would be a great time to take Kinsie back to one of my favorite places in the world. She’s a complete Disney freak just like her mom, and she loved Disney World last year at only a year old, so we knew that this year, she would be beyond psyched! For our birthday and Christmas gifts this year, we just asked for money to help pay for the trip, so with the help of our families, we made it happen! Kinsie was pumped for weeks about this trip. She kept talking about going to “Mickey’s house,” and whenever she would see Cinderella’s Castle at the beginning of any Disney movie, she’d scream enthusiastically “That’s where we’re going!”

We had somewhat of a long night of traveling, but Kinsie was an absolute champ. This was her first plane trip in her own seat (thank goodness), and she just sat and watched Elmo the whole way there! Once we were in Orlando, we were transported a few times from hotel to hotel because the placed we booked months ago was overbooked, and she slept peacefully in the rental car…thank goodness considering it was 1:30am when we finally got to where we were staying!

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Day 1: Magic Kingdom

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This has always been my favorite park, probably because it is by far the most magical. I honestly wasn’t sure who was more excited…me or Kinsie! Ryan and I had planned out our whole day using a few different apps that told us what attractions to visit when considering the crowd and lines, so we were all set!

Highlights of Magic Kingdom:

  • Cinderella’s Castle – Kinsie had been talking about it so much beforehand, that she just marveled at it whenever she saw it! We got to see a lot of shows, fireworks, etc. in front of the castle, so we got lots of castle time!

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  • The Christmas parade – this is still what Kinsie says was her favorite part of the trip. The mid-day Christmas parade was awesome! We got to see all of our favorites…Mickey and friends, Santa Claus, and Kinsie’s absolute fave, Olaf! Disney never fails to make their parades magical and spectacular! Of course, my favorite part of the parade was the pure joy on my daughter’s face!

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  • Meeting Mickey- Magic Kingdom is the only place in Disney World where Mickey talks, so we knew we had to fit this in our day! When it was Kinsie’s turn to meet him, she was a little overwhelmed and didn’t really know what to do with herself! She did a little nervous dance and was super shy! She was in awe at meeting one of her favorite characters of all time!

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It turned out to be an amazing day. It was extremely crowded, but that didn’t impede our fun. The weather was perfect and Kinsie was one happy girl all day! The only time she got antsy was waiting in line to see Mickey…but with the help of the apps we used, that 25 minutes was the longest we waited all day. Our girl was wiped out as soon as we got in the car!

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Day 2: Animal Kingdom

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This is the only park that closes somewhat early, so we had to fit in all our fun in a shorter amount of time. Again, we used different apps to help us utilize our time. We had a little later start than we wanted since it was a late night the night before, but we still got in most of the attractions we wanted to do.

Highlights of Animal Kingdom:

  • The dinosaur ride – this is basically a dinosaur version of the Dumbo ride. You spin in circles for about 1 minute and then it’s done. But with Kinsie’s recent dinosaur craze, she was all about it. She actually cried when it was over!

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  • The safari ride- this is the best ride in the park…a safari ride to see all kinds of animals and wildlife. We especially loved the hippos, giraffes, and lions.

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  • The Tree of Life- I LOVE the Tree of Life and trying to spot as many animal carvings as possible in it. Kinsie liked climbing on the alligator!

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  • Meeting Mickey and Minnie- Let’s face it, with how happy she was meeting Mickey the day before, we had to take every chance we got to meet him again, and this time with Minnie Mouse too! My favorite part was Kinsie’s excited face before she met them! We also got to meet Goofy and Pluto during the day too!

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(Kinsie’s excited face)

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Again, another great day! The park closed at 7pm, so that left us time to go get ice cream, chill at our hotel for a little while and get to bed before midnight!

Day 3: Epcot

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This was the only day we didn’t have an actual “plan,” we figured it could be more of a go with the flow kind of day. I mainly wanted to see the World Showcase, and visit with characters, so that is what we did!

Highlights of Epcot:

  • World Showcase (Mexico)- this of course, was my favorite of the countries. I love learning more about my culture and sharing it with Kinsie. They even had a cute little boat ride similar to “it’s a small world,” that displayed lots of Mexican culture in a fun Disney sort of way!

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  • The Seas with Nemo and Friends- I forgot how awesome this whole exhibit is. There is a ride, then once it is over, there is a huge aquarium exhibit with fish, sea turtles, manatees (my fave), and a shark playground. We all loved it!

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  • Meeting characters- we got to meet a lot of characters at Epcot! We scouted them out and used our apps to figure out where they would be and when so we could beat the lines. Kinsie basically became BFFs with all of them. How could you not with the sweet little hugs and smiles she gave them?

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The only thing we didn’t get to do at Epcot that I really wanted to was see the fireworks. We could have stayed for them, but they didn’t start until 10:30 and we were wiped out! Kinsie said she wanted to go to sleep, and my pregnant body had really caught up with me from all the walking the last few days. Ryan was pretty tired too so we made the executive decision to call it a night before the fireworks.

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Our entire trip was amazing. It was the perfect last trip as a family of 3. I loved getting to spend a few days with my with favorite people in my favorite place in the world. And as I’m sure you could tell by the pictures, Kinsie was pretty happy too!

A Disney Dream Come True

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a huge Disney fan. I spent my entire childhood watching Disney movies, and Disney World has always been the most magical place in the world to me, even as an adult. I’ve always talked about how I can’t wait to share my love for Disney with my children. Well, one of my dreams came true before Christmas when we got to take Kinsie to Disney World.

Ryan, Kinsie and I flew out to Orlando the week before Christmas and met my parents, my sister and her family. This was the second time Kinsie has been on a plane, and it was much different than the last time! Before she was only 8 months old and she pretty much slept the whole time. This time, she was happy, but crazy! She switched back and forth from my lap to Ryan’s about a hundred times, and made friends with everyone around her. It was a long flight trying to wrestle with a 1 year old, but luckily between the two of us, we were able to handle it.

We started our Disney adventure by going to Animal Kingdom. I knew Kinsie would love it because of how much she loves animals. We went on a safari and saw lots of animals, went to a petting zoo, and met lots of characters, including Mickey and Minnie! Kinsie LOVED meeting the characters. As you’ll see in the pictures, she was completely intrigued by them. She liked touching their faces and holding their hands. Kinsie also had a great time with her cousins. Briggs knows how much Kinsie loves animals, so every time we’d see an animal, he’d say, “Do you see that animal, Baby Kinsie?” The last thing we did that day was meet Mickey and Minnie. It was really important to me that she got to meet them. It is such a special experience that I wanted to share with my daughter. The look in the kids’ eyes when they met them made the entire trip worth it. It was an awesome day at Animal Kingdom!

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The next day, we went to the Magic Kingdom. As soon as we entered the park, Kinsie was fascinated by the Christmas lights, balloons, and Cinderella’s Castle. She was hooked immediately…that’s my girl! We took her on a few rides right away, including the Dumbo ride and “It’s a Small World.” The girl had her serious face on the whole time…which, in Kinsie language, means that she is completely amazed! Throughout the day we went on many other rides and saw lots of shows. She loved it all! One of her favorites was the Enchanted Tiki Room, where she danced and sang along with the birds. She also loved Mickey’s Philharmagic, which is a 3D show. She wore a pair of the 3D glasses and was reaching out for the flying 3D objects during the show! During the day there was a parade, which was awesome! The kids loved waving to the characters and dancing to all the music. I have never once been disappointed with a Disney parade. It is always magical to all of us!

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Kinsie’s look of amazement on the rides

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Having fun at the parade

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Later in the evening was Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. You had to buy extra tickets in order to stay for this, which we all decided was definitely something we wanted to do. We had to save a good spot for the parade a few hours ahead of time, which made it hard to keep the attention of a wild child like Kinsie for that long, but the parade was AMAZING, so it was worth it. This was one of the best Disney parades that I’ve seen, and we sat right on Main Street, where they had fake snow falling from the top of the buildings throughout the night. That was one of Kinsie’s favorite parts. In between every float in the parade, she’d point to the snow to make sure we saw it. I guess one of us will be happy later in the winter when it starts snowing! After the parade, we got to have a Dance Party with the Country Bears. This was a combination of two of Kinsie’s favorite things…bears and music, so it’s obvious that she had a great time! Finally, we saw a fireworks show. This was no ordinary fireworks show, these were the most incredible fireworks that we’d ever seen. This was also the first time that Kinsie got to see fireworks because we weren’t able to keep her up late enough in July. I thought she might be bothered by the loudness, but she wasn’t. She absolutely loved them! She kept pointing and saying “ooo, ahhh” (which is also what she says whenever she sees a Christmas tree.) We were so glad that Kinsie was able to stay up late enough to see the fireworks, but it definitely set the bar high for any future fireworks shows she’ll see!

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Amazed by the Christmas parade

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Dance Party with the Country Bears

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Loving the fireworks show

After the fireworks, it was already after 10pm, and we could tell Kinsie was exhausted, so we tried to get her to fall asleep in the stroller. She was not having it…she just wanted to party! She flailed her arms and legs around, kept kicking off her blankets and laughing. I guess all the events of the day gave her an adrenaline rush because she was wired! We started leaving the park around 11:00 and she finally fell asleep, but only for a few minutes. She sang and danced the whole drive back to the hotel then finally crashed when we got back.

Several things made this trip to Disney World very special to us. First of all, this was the first time we brought Kinsie, Briggs and Kerigan and it was so special getting to share our love for Disney with our children and seeing the looks on their faces as they experienced the magic of Disney World. My heart was full the entire time getting to be in the most magical place on Earth with the people that I love. The other part that made this trip so special was that Diane, Ryan Robinson’s mom, had planned it for us before she passed away in August. If you’ve read my previous posts, you’d know that Diane was suddenly taken from us which shattered our world. Diane was supposed to go on this trip with us, which in a way, she was…just not in the way that we expected. We all felt Diane’s spirit with us during the trip and we know she was smiling down on us from heaven.

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Thank you, Diane, for such a special and magical trip. We all miss you.