Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Year of Me

       I wrote a blog post on November 30, called Parents, Let's Be Kind to Ourselves. Being a good parent is hard work and as much as we love it, it can be draining to us in many ways--physically, emotionally, and mentally. If we're always giving of ourselves and never letting ourselves be filled back up, we become burnt out. That goes for anything in life that requires our time and effort.

      As parents, we sometimes feel like we're being selfish if we do anything at all for ourselves. I've been there and I'm still in that place sometimes. However, I decided at the beginning of this year that I'm going to take care of me---and my family. I don't have to neglect them to take care of me. They're not missing out on anything. I'm just adding myself to my schedule.

      On January 1, I started exercising every day. I have to live in this body while I'm on this earth and I'm going to make it a healthy one. I'm going to chase my kids all over creation while they're growing up. I'm going to pick them up and swing them around, play tag with them, go swimming, ride bikes, and just be present. Then, I'm going to chase my grandkids all over the place and do the same things. That's my goal. Not to get a six pack (though I'll take one if it pops up) or look good in a bikini, but to be here with my family. I'm taking care of me and taking care of them at the same time.

       Last fall, I decided I was going to cover up my grays. I hadn't ever had my hair colored because I didn't want to spend the money to do it and it's hard to find time away from the kiddos for hair appointments. I went for it, though! I feel a lot better about myself and my hair and hey--I also never have any trouble finding someone to stay with my babies. I also spent a little more money on some nicer makeup and products to take care of my skin. There's no need for me to neglect myself on the altar of "My Children Come First". I don't go into debt to do these things; I've just purchased them when I can. And I'm going to keep doing it!

      I'm trying to make time for things that keep me healthy mentally and emotionally--journaling, blogging, playing the piano and guitar, having conversations with friends. All of these things keep my brain working and make my heart full.

       I'm pursuing my dreams. Last year, I published my first book. Everyone who knows me knows my love for all things Disney. I've considered being a Disney travel planner before, but have always backed out of filling out applications. I would say, "Oh, I don't really have time to do that! I just need to take care of the kids and the house." In reality, I need something for me. I need something besides housework and homeschooling that makes me tick. Disney is my thing! When my best friend sent me the application to apply with Kingdom Concierge, I decided to go for it. I received an email the next morning requesting a phone interview and all of the pieces just fell into place. Kingdom Concierge is an amazing agency and I am so honored to be talking Disney with clients and planning magical trips they'll remember forever! I was working this morning and Kade put his arm around my waist and said, "You really like your new job, don't you, mom?" I felt guilty for a split second, as if I should only like being a mom. You know what, though? I can enjoy many, many other things and still be there for my family. Yes, I do like my new job! (And if you'd like me to help plan your Disney vacation, please contact me at; I'd love to plan your vacation for free!)

           It's the year of ME--and my husband and children. When I feel fulfilled, I can pour myself and my energy back out into the people most important to me. And what could be better than that?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Disney Trip Report: Day 3 (Part 2)

It's a perfect day here to finish a Disney trip report--cold and gray. If I can't be in the warm, Florida sunshine, at least I can relive it!

When we left off last, Michael and I had just eaten lunch at the Lotus Blossom Cafe in China at Epcot. We also got to see and talk to our babies. Full and happy, we walked outside to explore some more. Michael found some Chinese puppets.

We browsed through a shop with all kinds of Chinese clogs, chopsticks, kimonos, snacks, and more. Heading out of China, we walked past Japan and apparently (according to my pictures) 

A Norwegian troll.

Traditional Norwegian clothing, similar to the time period and style of Frozen.

We must have walked past Germany, but at some point in the day I ended up going back and getting a delicious caramel apple oatmeal cookie at Karamel Kuche in Germany. They have chocolate covered caramel squares, chocolate caramel cupcakes, chocolate covered pineapple and strawnerries, as well as fresh caramel corn you can watch them make and it's all Werther's caramel. So yummy!

Our next stop was Mexico where a mariachi (I think) band was playing and talking about Mexican Christmas traditions. They played lots of Christmas songs and got the children in the crowd involved. We watched that for quite awhile! I should mention that each country was doing something to showcase Christmas in their culture and this was the point in the afternoon when it started. Each country also had a food stand that served traditional Christmas foods from that country. Most of it sounded really good!

Afterwards, we walked into the building across the pathway, which looks like a ziggurat. I'm not sure if that's what it's supposed to be or not. Here's a picture from Google.

Inside is a restaurant called San Angel Inn, some shops, and a boat ride called The Gran Fiesta Tour, which stars Donald Duck and the Three Caballeros. We call the Gran Fiesta Tour, "Mexican Small World", because it's very similar to It's a Small World, but with a Mexican theme. The boys love it!

Looking into the shops and San Angel Inn. This is indoors, but it looks like you're eating in twilight. Very pretty!

When we came out, we decided to leave World Showcase for a bit and walk back over to Future World. We took some pictures in front of a huge Christmas tree.


We always have to take a picture of the monorail when it goes by!

With our Disney Visa card, we're entitled to a meet and greet at a select location with one or more of the Fab Five--Mickey, Minnie, Pluto, Goofy, and Donald. The nice thing about this is the line is really minimal and you get a free digital download of your pictures.

Can I make a confession? I forgot to download them, so all I have is this screenshot. Whoops!

Mickey and Goofy were meeting together on that day and we had fun "talking" to them for a minute before we posed for pictures.

We watched a gospel group do a Christmas show right in front of the Fountain of Nations for a few minutes. They were incredible and had everybody in the crowd dancing and clapping. I thought a few people were going to shout!

One thing we hadn't ridden yet was Spaceship Earth, the ride inside the Epcot ball.

Michael always likes to lead the way.

It's far too dark inside of Spaceship Earth for my camera phone to take pictures (and there's no flash allowed), but it takes you on a journey of communication, from the beginning of time until, well.....recently. It kind of needs some updating at the end to bring it up to the current time. It's really neat and educational, though. Another cool feature is that there is a screen in front of you that has you pick some options at the beginning of the ride, including your language and where you're from. As the ride begins, a camera on the right takes your picture. Then, near the end of the ride, you are presented with questions like, "In the future, would you rather live in the city, country, or beach?"; "Is leisure, home, or health more important to you?" Then, it makes a video that shows "your life" in the future and your picture from the beginning of the ride is the head on the cartoon version of you. We always laugh at the way we end up looking.

In France, we saw Pere Noel telling a Christmas story! 

We always love to stop and look at this miniature Bavarian train village in the Germany pavilion. It's so cute! It was decorated for Christmas, too!

In the American pavilion, we stopped and looked at this stand full of Disney Precious Moments dolls! Recognize any characters you know? I loved these!

We were both hungry for dinner and decided to check out the Holidays Around the World stand at the American pavilion. 

I chose a turkey dinner, that had a large piece of dressing, mashed potatoes, turkey, gravy, green bean casserole, and cranberry sauce. It was huge--and delicious!

In comparison, Michael chose the pork tenderloin meal that included some sweet potato wedges, some small pieces of pork tenderloin, and green bean casserole. It was much smaller, obviously, and more expensive than mine! It was still yummy, though.

Unfortunately, my phone went dead during dinner and I didn't get to capture the best part of the evening--Epcot's Candlelight Processional!

picture from Google

          Choirs from all over the country are invited to sing at the Candlelight Processional during the Christmas season. Michael and I were fortunate enough to go with our high school choir in 2000. The music is incredible and includes sacred Christmas selections and narration of the Christmas story from the book of Luke by a celebrity narrator. On this particular night, Steven Curtis Chapman was the celebrity narrator, which made things even more special, because we knew he believed every word he was speaking. Confession--there were tears in my eyes almost the whole processional. It's just beautiful! The last song is the Hallelujah Chorus and--wow!--everyone was on their feet halfway through! It was a wonderful, marvelous, magical end to the night!

        Hearts full, we headed out of Epcot and stopped by Ample Hills to grab one more ice cream. Then, we drove back to our resort, got most of our things packed up, and headed to bed. Our anniversary trip had come to an end and it was time to get back to real life--and most important, our babies!

But not before a 12 hour trip home, filled with good, uninterrupted conversation, loud music, and some Starbucks.

          We were so excited to love on our kiddos and glad to be back home. We missed them, but it was nice to just be us for a couple of days. Every couple needs that now and then! We'll treasure the memories of this trip forever.