August 2022 Adventure Date 4 – Magic Kingdom with Disney Enchantment Treats and Seats Dessert Party

When we decided to do the Disney trip, Keith told me he really wanted to surprise me with a fireworks dessert party on our anniversary, but he wasn’t sure he could. It turns out, I wasn’t sure we could get reservations until mid July – they did not release the seats for a long time. Perseverance pays off, however, and we were finally able to snag a table at the Tomorrowland Terrace Restaurant for Disney Enchantment Treats and Seats Dessert Party. That is, of course, not how this story starts. This story starts with me, once again, waking up at 6:30 to get Genie + and get our first ride booked – Jungle Cruise after lunch. And also to make sure our daughter was up for school. Both pretty important goals. After we got up and around, we headed towards Magic Kingdom. Somehow there was a bus driver shift change at our resort while we were waiting – that’s right, if you are keeping track, that is 3 times. I am a little bit in awe of our luck there. This one was pretty quick, though, and they we were on our way to the Happiest Place on Earth. It makes me happy cry a little just thinking about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

When we arrived, our plan was get breakfast and then to knock out some of the rides and attractions we skipped or that weren’t open during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. So, we headed back to Fantasyland to get cinnamon rolls at Gaston’s Tavern. It was enormous and pretty delicious. A little overwhelming, so I am glad we got one to split. We also decided that we would like a Big Thunder Mountain RR lightning lane for before lunch and we snagged Individual Lightning Lanes for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train for that evening after the fireworks.

When we were finished with breakfast, we headed to one my favorite rides – It’s a Small World. I love the song – even had a Mickey watch that played it with world flags instead of numbers. I know that some people do not appreciate it as much as I do. Those people will be happy to know that the song seems to barely be in the queue or the ride anymore. I took so many photos, but I am going to leave you with the clock and two of the countries Keith and I have visited during our marriage – I don’t think there was a Canada section…

Our next stop was Mickey’s PhilharMagic. I don’t remember all of the old show – it has been about 10 years – but I love that there are newer movies represented now. Definitely a fun time. And we had to stop in the gift shop where we actually picked up 2 gifts and a photo of Mickey and Donald.

Feeling like we did everything we wanted to do in Fantasyland, we headed over to Liberty Square. On the way, we got some photos done with the castle. It was kind of crazy, while we were in line, there was a lady there with a toddler that gave the photographer her phone and then put her child down to get photos of just herself with the castle. And then said she would pay more for more photos and tried to just let one group in line go and then jump back up herself for more. I admit that I don’t know her story, but it must be very different from mine. I love the leaf magic shot that photographer did here. And yes, I know it is still summer. It was just nice to think about fall while we were sweating buckets in the 93 degree heat and humidity.

We decided the time had come to do Hall of Presidents. Partially because it was so hot and sunny outside, partially because we wanted to see the updated show. It was different that the presidents didn’t all talk with each other, but we thought the new movie part was good. And the Lincoln part was true to the origins of the attraction which was nice.

Our next stop was for something that we had never tried before – Dole Whip! I love that there are non-dairy options, and Keith enjoyed being able to mix fruit flavors with vanilla. He got the Fritz Freeze and I just got a Pineapple Dole Whip cup. So yummy and enjoyable on a hot day! After that, we headed into the Enchanted Tiki Room. I feel like I saw this attraction when I was there with my parents in elementary school, but Keith is certain he has never seen it before. So, another first. We enjoyed it, and it was the perfect length before our lightning lane at Big Thunder Mountain RR. While we were in line at Big Thunder Mountain RR, I was able to get a lightning lane for Space Mountain for after our Jungle Cruise lightning lane.

Our next stop was lunch. Our first day at Magic Kingdom together, all the way back at their 25th anniversary, we stumbled upon Liberty Tree Tavern as a place to eat. We loved the characters – especially when they used to have Meeko from Pocahontas – and the food and have been back every trip since. We were a little sad that the characters hadn’t returned, but I was able to surprise Keith with a Mickey cake for our anniversary, so that was wonderful. And they have fresh brewed unsweet tea, so that was a very welcome thing. The food was awesome, too. Nothing like Thanksgiving at Disney World. ๐Ÿ™‚

After our lovely lunch, we headed to Adventureland to ride the Jungle Cruise. This is where Keith and I have a disagreement. I swear that we have ridden the ride together with Maddie. He swears he has never ridden it. I will definitely look through scrapbooks to discover the answer, but not quite yet. Either way, we rode it together this trip and it was just as campy as I remember. ๐Ÿ™‚

We left Adventureland behind us to head to Space Mountain next. While in line there, we got a lightning lane for Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor right after, which was really perfect. While we waited there, I snagged a lightning lane for Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin, thus completing our tour of Tomorrowland attractions for the day. We then headed back to Liberty Square for a lightning lane at Haunted Mansion to complete our pre-fireworks attractions. I’m telling you, we have been so spoiled by the Genie + system that I don’t think I will ever go back to waiting in stand-by lines all the time.

At this point, it was time to make our way to Tomorrowland Terrace for the Disney Enchantment Treats and Seats Dessert Party. We were seated in a fantastic spot right by the railing and we got some delicious wine and desserts. We were also pixie dusted by the cast members – they brought us a special plate of Happy Anniversary desserts from Mickey. In fact, two different cast members came and gave use a plate of Happy Anniversary desserts from Mickey. He must have thought we don’t like to share? Seriously, though, it was very sweet – figurative and literally. We enjoyed snacking and sipping and then the fireworks started. It was a great view and when Tinkerbell flew, she went right over our heads. Definitely a fun way to celebrate 23 years of wedded bliss. โค

These pictures don’t do it justice – it was so beautiful and so nice to just sit and not be crowded. After the fireworks, we knew we wanted to see if they were doing lantern photos in Fantasyland by the Tangled bathrooms. We knew we had time before our individual lightning lanes at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and we have always love the lantern photos. We ended up being line in front of another couple from the UK and really enjoyed talking to them while we waited. We had a group in front of us and we honestly weren’t sure how big it was until they got the the front and everyone in their family arrived. They ended up taking forever with individual and group shots – 18 kids and adults. I’m not going to complain, though, because I think it was totally worth the wait – I love the photos!

After the photo line, we headed straight to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. I really didn’t know much about it, but it was a super cute, pretty fun ride. I would definitely ride again. And then it was time to leave – always so sad. We got some beautiful shots of the castle as we walked out, though.

I know that we will be returning – we both had such a magical time. Here’s hoping it won’t be 10 more years.

Have you ever done a fireworks party at a Disney Park? Which one? Would you recommend it? Let me know in the comments. ๐Ÿ™‚

August 2022 Adventure Date 3 – Epcot Food and Wine Festival

Another really fortuitous thing about our trip is that they have stretched out the Epcot Food and Wine Festival for several months this year, so we were able to participate in some food/drink tasting. That was not our sole focus, however, as we had several rides we wanted to ride and a reservation on Teppan Edo for lunch. I had bought Genie + for the day on the way home from the Halloween Party the night before, so we were good to go with that when I woke up the next morning. I logged into the My Disney Experience App at 6:55 and opened the Virtual Queue section. I clicked Join Virtual Queue button and then at 6:59 I kept repeatedly refreshing the page until I got the button to join the virtual queue for Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind. We ended up in Boarding Group 83 – that’s how quick it goes. I felt very lucky! I was then able to book us into an 11:45 lightning lane for Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. Then I tried to go back to sleep for a bit before ultimately just getting up and taking a shower. Keith took one the night before, so he was able to get up and get ready when I got out. I also applied our Magic Your Band skins to our magic bands – I had cute daisies and Keith had a Tron themed one. Both were glow-in-the-dark and so much fun. Also really easy to apply. Here’s what they looked like thanks to a very random thought by a PhotoPass photographer.

We arrived at the park before 9 and immediately went to get our Remy’s Hide and Squeak gameboards. Because we asked if they had all 4 cups available and the lady had to check the back for the Remy cups, she ended up signing our boards and giving us our cups then and there. We chose the Remy and Tiana cups as our “prizes.” Next, we headed to get some food. Although it was Food and Wine Festival, not much was open so early, so we ended up eating a Mickey Pretzel and a Fruit and Cheese tray as breakfast. It was actually pretty filling and tasty. We sat at tables in Sunshine Seasons and then decided to walk on Living With the Land as our first attraction of the day. We also caught Soarin’ Around the World while we were there. We really enjoyed both and we waited in line very little time, so it was a great start to the day.

Our next stop was Spaceship Earth – we were trying to do all of our front of the park things before heading to World Showcase, but that didn’t really work out. While we were in line, I snagged lightning lanes for Frozen Ever After for after lunch. Spaceship earth was great – I love the new narration by Dame Judy Dench and the new ending where you answer questions and then get some animations was pretty fun. Definitely would ride again every time we are at Epcot.

At this point, we were pretty thirsty, so we headed to World Showcase to try some Food and Wine Festival drinks on our way to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure. I started with a Frozen Rose from The Alps and Keith got the Copperpoint Brewing Company Key Lime Kolsch from Refreshment Outpost. The Rose was refreshing and just a bit sweet – we both liked it. The Key Line Kolsch was a little bitter – it was nice to try, but being that I am not really a beer drinker and Keith prefers stout beers, it was not our favorite beverage. At that point, it was time for our Remy lightning lane, so we headed towards France. You can’t really get photos on the ride, but I thought the rat cars were super cute. ๐Ÿ™‚

After we got off Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure (which was the best new Disney Imagineering we have witnessed in quite a while – Wow!), we headed straight to the Japanese Pavilion and Teppan Edo. Somehow, both of us were expecting a fancy sit down restaurant, so when it was a hibachi restaurant we were momentarily unsure. But we were also hungry, and it ended up being the best hibachi show and the best food we have had from a hibachi grill. I quite frequently walk away from hibachi food feeling very full and slightly queasy, but this time we felt great! We did a bit of shopping while in the Japanese Pavilion and then headed back to the front of the park because our boarding group was called to come get in line for Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind.

The queue for Guardians of the Galaxy Cosmic Rewind is all inside and it was nice to be out of the sun. We got to see some fun models of settlements and ships and there was a funny interview show happening that you could watch. Disney does a really good job of making sure you are never too bored when you have to wait in line. The ride was amazing! I absolutely loved it, and we got the Earth Wind and Fire song September which was perfect. We had so much fun dancing to the music while we rode and tried to understand the plot of what was happening. I admit, I was a bit lost, but it was still super fun! I did not, however, enjoy going up and down steps immediately after getting off the ride. Truth be told, I was quite dizzy for about 15 minutes afterwards, and really had to hold the hand rails and take another Dramamine. I would take the second Dramamine before the ride next time. Still, no regrets, 10/10 would do again!

After Cosmic Rewind, it was once again time to hit the World Showcase. We headed to Norway for our Frozen Ever After lightning lane. It was a pretty cute ride, but I am also glad we did not wait in a long line for it. Definitely gave us Maelstrom vibes, but we appreciated the updates. ๐Ÿ™‚

Now that we were finished with our lightning lanes, we headed back to the Food and Wine Festival fare. We got an Italian Red Sangria to sip and it was so good we forgot to take a photo. Our next drink was the Hana Fuji Apple Sake from the Japanese Pavilion. This is our top pick from everything we tried – very smooth and refreshing. Probably dangerous because you want to keep drinking it. After we were finished sipping, we headed to France. We were really wanting to try crepes from La Creparie de Paris and we were also intrigued by the Strawberry Rose Mimosa from the France Booth. We decided to divide and conquer since both places had such long lines. We had separate adventures – I spotted lizards with the little girl in the stroller in front of me (that mom asked for straight champagne in her Mimosa, lol) while Keith made new friends with a bachelor party participant trying to win a bet. It was a fun time. Keith did get a free Merlot out of it, so that was something. We also got to try amazing crepes – Sugar and Red Berry – and sip Mimosa and Merlot whilst watching the Skyliner glide by – it was quite lovely actually. Made me feel almost like we were at a French cafe. ๐Ÿ™‚

We could feel the weather brewing up a storm as we ate, so we decided our next stop would be shopping and then heading to the indoor Appleseed Orchard booth located in the Canada Pavilion. We decided to try the Apple Crumble Tart and the Frozen Apple Pie, thus making this the only Food and Wine booth where we ended up buying food. I’m as surprised as you are about that one. We really liked the tart but the drink was just okay – it was hard to drink with the crumbles on top and we ended up with apple pie filling sludge at the bottom which was not super enjoyable.

At this point, we donned our rain ponchos and tried to head out to Journey Into Imagination With Figment. It was closed due to technical difficulties, however, so we grabbed a lightning lane for Turtle Talk with Crush and headed into The Seas with Nemo & Friends. We basically walked from one to the other and it was an enjoyable way to spend time when it was raining. We especially liked Turtle Talk with Crush – our group had some really funny kids. โค

When we emerged, we spent some time shopping and then split up for drinks. Keith got a Guinness Baileys Coffee Shake from the Ireland booth and I ended up getting a Starbucks Green Tea with no sweetener because I just needed an unsweet iced tea. It is my favorite and near impossible to find in Florida. We met up to watch the fireworks show, and then immediately decided that we did not want to stay and headed towards the front of the park. (I was struggling bad after 2 days of 12+ miles of walking with my heel spurs and several blisters. I am not happy that my feet were letting me down, but it’s the truth.) We were able to catch some great photos of Spaceship Earth and the fountain on our way out.

Now I must tell you a cautionary tale. Do not, under any circumstances, think that it will be faster to take a monorail to Magic Kingdom during fireworks and take a bus from there. This play is faulty because you have to change monorails at the TTC and that means you arrive at Magic Kingdom just as fireworks are ending. Also, there is a change of shift for bus drivers at around 10 – yes, we just have super luck. Do not be like us. Just get in line for the bus at Epcot. Trust me.

We made it back to our resort in time to get some beignets, so that was wonderful. Make sure you check your order before going all the way back to your room, though. We had to trek back down to the cafe to get the other half of our beignets. My feet were not pleased, but my tastebuds sure were. Yum! I personally liked the strawberry sauce, but Keith had the chocolate cherry sauce and it was also pretty good. In case you wondered, we also got kids meals from the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory to make it not quite dessert for dinner. ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you have made it this far, thank you for reading! I am really enjoying sharing our trip with you. Have you ever been to Epcot Food and Wine Festival? What is your favorite thing from the booths? Let me know in the comments.

August 2022 Adventure Date 2 – Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

Shortly after we decided to book our Disney trip, the dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party were released. We attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party 18 years ago when we took Maddie for her first trip (I was 6 months pregnant with Charlotte, so technically she was also there ;)), but the Halloween party was not offered this early in August the year we took both kids right before school started. I immediately started researching and joining Facebook groups to make sure we could make the most of our party time. Our priorities were rides, parade, fireworks, and some photos. We thought about getting in line for Jack and Sally since we do love that movie, but in the end decided that it wasn’t worth the time we would lose.

We spent the morning and early afternoon at Animal Kingdom, then caught a bus to Port Orleans French Quarter to pick up our luggage (it was transferred for us) and get checked into our room. We took quick showers to take off the first layer of sunscreen and sweat, got our party outfits on, and caught a bus to Magic Kingdom. It should be noted that bus drivers have a shift change between 2 and 3 (at least at Animal Kingdom) and if one doesn’t show up on time, it can definitely make the wait to get to your resort longer. I’m just sharing in case that planning info is helpful for others. It really didn’t impact our timeline too badly.

We got to Magic Kingdom without further incidence by a little after 4. There was a pretty big line to enter, but it moved pretty quickly. After that, we got our wristbands and were sent to the right to get our treat bags and first treat station – full size Crunchy Sugar Cookie M&Ms. After that, we rode a couple of rides that Keith had never been on before – Carousel of Progress and the People Mover. We also used our Genie+ to book lightning lanes for Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and then Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

When we were in line for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, the weather took a pretty drastic turn. We were in the queue and would have been on the second train to arrive when the ride shut down. It was raining sideways and there was quite a bit of lightning and thunder, so we understood. We ended up hanging out for about an hour until the storm lightened up a bit. The radar and weather app showed that it was supposed to continue storming through 10 pm, however, so we were concerned. We made the decision, which we somewhat regret in hindsight, to go and see if they were issuing refunds for weather. We stood in line for a bit and were helped by some very kind and patient people that encouraged us to give it a go and see if the weather held.

With our ponchos firmly over our clothing and backpacks, we headed back out determined to enjoy the evening. We headed back to Tomorrowland on our way to Fantasyland and the Mad Tea Party ride. I have had vertigo since about 2 months after we got married – not a fun surprise to wake up and think you have had a stroke, but I have developed strategies to avoid it flaring up. One strategy is to avoid spinning rides. But we wanted to experience the Halloween overlays on most of the rides (we had no interest in completely black Space Mountain). So, I took a second Dramamine pill and made Keith promise not to spin us. I am super glad to know that I can handle them as long as the others in my cup are kind. We were also treated to a fantastic sunset while in line for the Mad Tea Party – almost like the universe was apologizing for the weather. ๐Ÿ™‚

Our next stop was Pirates of the Caribbean to experience the live actors. There were a couple that were interacting with people in line, and then a couple on one of the bridges inside the ride. It was a fun addition to the atmosphere and made the line seem to move faster. I believe that this was the longest line we waited in – about a half hour.

After Pirates, it was time to find a spot to watch the Parade and all pre-parade activities. We found a spot right behind a very kind family from the UK and spent all of our waiting time talking to them. That was lovely! While we waited, we got a couple of photos in front of the castle – including a party exclusive magic shot with Oogie Boogie. We were also very excited that the Headless Horseman was able to ride that night – even with the rain earlier – and we even got a glimpse of Max dressed as Powerline, although we were too far down Main Street USA to really have a good view. I walked down a bit to try to get closer, but it was pretty packed. We really enjoyed the parade itself, and I had an awesome interaction with Edna Mole – she pointed right at me! Definitely one of my favorite Disney Parades I have seen.

After the Boo to You Parade, we moved down the street a bit to have a good view of the castle. We did not try to get close enough to see Jack Skellington, but we probably could have. This was probably the most uncomfortable I was the whole time – people squeezed in around us giving us absolutely no personal space or room to move at all. The fireworks and projections were amazing, though. We thoroughly enjoyed it!

After fireworks, we went with a lot of the crowd around us to the Haunted Mansion. We basically walked straight into the stretch room – one of my favorite parts of the whole ride. I just love the trapeze girl! It was fun to ride at a Halloween party, but they live actors did not appear outside for us – maybe they had a parade to attend? Maybe the weather scared them off? Who’s to say?

After the Haunted Mansion, we made our way back to Fantasyland to knock out a lot of the movie-themed rides that generally have long lines. We rode Peter Pan’s Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, and Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid before deciding to call it a night and head back to our room. It was a very long, but very amazing day!

Have you ever attended a Disney after hours party? Which one? What was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments – I think I enjoyed the short lines and the fireworks show the most. ๐Ÿ™‚

August 2022 Create Date – Animation Experience at Conservation Station

As soon as we decided to go to Disney World for our Anniversary, I knew that I wanted to do the Animation Experience while we were at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as our Create Date for August. I knew we both wanted to see the new Pandora section and all the new rides, so it was an easy addition to make to that plan. We took the Wilderness Train to Conservation Station and got in the queue. I was really happy to see we would be drawing Pua – I have always loved pigs. Keith has not, but even he admits that Pua is cute. The area of the class is amazing – there are sketches and paintings of animals and characters all over the walls. It was nice to have something to look at while we waited for the class before ours to finish. They drew Shere Kahn from the Jungle Book which was cool to see as well.

When it was our turn, we grabbed a golf pencil, a guide sheet, and a lap board to work on. There were long rows of seats, so we were actually not able to see the animator that was doing the demonstration very well, but they had big monitors set up so that everyone could see his hands as he drew. Here are some set up and in progress shots.

So far, so good. The ears, though. That is the tricky part. The part that made you really wish that golf pencils had erasers… We will probably go back and add some finishing touches to these, but this is what our drawings looked at when we finished the class.

As a side note, the animator shared with us that the pig they used for inspiration for Pua is actually named Charlotte Mae, and she is actually a deaf pig that lives in the petting zoo at Conservation Station. How cute is that?!

Have you ever done the Animation Experience at Animal Kingdom? If so, what did you draw? If not, what character would you want to draw? I think if I could choose any Disney animal character, I may have wanted to draw Tod or Copper from The Fox and the Hound, but Pua was definitely just fine with me. ๐Ÿ™‚

August 2022 Adventure Date 1 – Disney’s Animal Kingdom

This month we celebrated our 23rd anniversary, but we have actually been together for 26 years now. When we started talking about taking a trip to celebrate, we were drawn to Disney and their 50th anniversary celebration. You see, we were at Disney for a day during their 25th anniversary. We have photos (somewhere, safely packed away) of the giant pink birthday cake castle. In the end, we decided that Disney deserved redemption for that horrible design idea and we went about booking a whirlwind, adults only weekend at Disney World.

We knew our flight would be getting in pretty late, so our awesome travel agent suggested that we stay at the All Star Sports Resort just for that night and then transfer to our other resort for the rest of the stay. Since there is really only one hotel near the Orlando airport (actually, in the airport) and it is pretty expensive, this worked out really well. We arrived around midnight and then caught a Mears bus to our resort. We had to sit and wait for people for a half hour, but eventually we were on our way to the resort. While we waited, I bought our Genie + for our first day since it was after midnight. We know it is controversial to get it for every park, but we also knew we were headed into a sold out weekend, so we decided it was worth it.

We arrived and got ourselves into our room (checking in on the app and being able to go straight to the room is amazing!) and ready for bed by 2. At 6:30, I got up and around so I could get our first Lightning Lane booked at 7 (Na’vi River Journey) and also book Individual Lightning Lanes for Avatar Flight of Passage since we knew we were leaving the park around 2 and wouldn’t have a lot of time to stand in lines. We then dropped our luggage off to be transferred to our next resort and hopped on the bus to Animal Kingdom. There are no photos from our arrival – my contact solution takes 6 hours to neutralize, so I had to wait until 8 to put my contacts in. I ended up putting them in while we were in line for our first ride of the day, Kilimanjaro Safaris – not ideal, but my glasses are about 3 prescriptions behind and I really wanted to be able to see… The safari was excellent first thing – we saw a lot of the animals and even to got to hear the lions “talking” to each other. Here are some of my favorite photos.

After the safari, we headed to Avatar Flight of Passage to get in the Lightning Lane line. Oh my goodness! – it was amazing! I was really glad I took Dramamine that morning, but it was such a beautiful adventure – highly recommended! Here are photos from inside the ride just before they have you empty your pockets.

Here are photos from outside the ride for your viewing enjoyment – Disney does such an amazing job of setting the scene.

We also paid for the PhotoPass, so we got lots of pictures of us together – I would definitely do this every time just to get photos with our whole group in them. They can also add some fun effects, called magic shots. We really enjoyed discovering exactly why we made those faces for the photographer.

After Avatar Flight of Passage, we headed straight to Festival of the Lion King since we knew it was starting soon. We saw this when we visited almost 18 years ago, so we were really happy to see that it was fully back in time for our trip. While we waited for the show to start, I booked our next lightning lane. I wanted to get Expedition Everest, but it ended up being down for the whole day (and half of the next we later found out). So, I booked us to meet Mickey and Minnie at Adventurer’s Outpost as our final attraction before leaving the park that afternoon. We also scheduled a mobile order for Satu’li Canteen to be picked up after Na’vi River Journey. Here are some photos from Festival of the Lion King.

After enjoying Festival of the Lion King, we had time to get a few photos before heading to Na’vi River Journey at our designated time. It was a beautiful ride full of surprises and amazing scenery. Here are a few examples of what you will see – although photos do not do it justice.

We headed straight to Satu’li Canteen to pick up our mobile order and it was pretty easy to navigate. I had the Cheeseburger Pods and they were really good. Keith had a rice bowl which was also pretty tasty. Here are photos of our food and also shots from a boat cavalcade we saw while walking between attractions.

Our next stop was the Wildlife Express Train to Conservation Station. We did the Animation Experience, but that is a whole separate blog post as it was our Create Date for August. Look for it very soon!

When we finished at Conservation Station, we had some time to shop and get photos, and then it was our turn to meet Mickey and Minnie! It was wonderful – they were quite impressed with our pins that said Celebrating 23 Years. And they gave the best hugs!

After meeting our favorite mouse and his gal, we had to head back to get checked in at our resort – Port Orleans French Quarter – and get ready for our next adventure – Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. But that’s a separate post.

Have you ever been to Disney’s Animal Kingdom? What was your favorite attraction? What animals were you excited to see? Let us know in the comments below. ๐Ÿ™‚

July 2022 Goals

I know I say this every month, but I sincerely can’t believe it is already July! Wow! I am not complaining, we are getting so close to some super fun vacations, but we also have online classes and fair projects that need some time. Looking back, June was actually a really productive month. First of all, I stopped coughing, so I was able to be more active. Secondly, Keith and I had our little waterfall tour in Cleveland which was wonderful. In fact, we liked getting away on our own so much we decided to book a Disney trip for our anniversary in August. Celebrating 23 years during their 50th anniversary celebration just seems right. Also, we were there for the 25th anniversary birthday cake castle, so we decided we needed some redemption for that…

Without further ado, here is a recap of my June 2022 Goals:

  • Add 20 products to my TpT store – I did this! I am up to 80 products and need to start switching gears to get more traffic to my store.
  • Write a second insect flex class and a second sewing flex class – I did this, too! I wrote a Slumber Party Sewing Club FLEX Class and a Discovering Insects – Ancient Bugs FLEX Class. They won’t run until August because I need some time to get things ready, but I am super excited to have them written and available.
  • Make 5 blog posts, 25 Instagram posts, 25 Facebook posts, and 40 Pinterest pins – This was not a good month for social media and posting on the blog. I got 3 blog posts, 7 Instagram posts, 8 Facebook posts, and no pins. This will be my focus for next month.
  • Update Play-Doh listings for TpT to follow copyright guidelines – I finally took care of this!
  • An Adventure Date, Create Date, and 2 Family Game Nights – We did the 2 dates, but I am going to have to rethink Family Game Nights. We are not doing well… I am hoping maybe we can play some games on the planes or in the hotels this month when we go on vacation.
  • Organize cabinets and shelves in my office, including clearing craft supplies from front room – This is about three quarters of the way done. I have more organizing to do, and I think I need to host a FREE Garage Sale with everything we are getting rid of.
  • Reserve the rest of our Seattle tours and tickets – This is done! I am so excited for this trip!
  • Make dinner at home at least 16 times – I think we did about 10 dinners at home this month.
  • Walk 12 times (cough and energy dependent) – It took until about June 10th to be able to walk without coughing, but I think we got in 10 walks.
  • Hike 6 times (cough and energy dependent) – I had to look these up twice, but we did this! Our waterfall tour and Schnormeier Gardens tour helped a lot.

I feel really good about this – I earned a 7.5 out of 10 this month! It’s amazing what feeling good and having a little extra time in my schedule will do for my productivity. As I mention above, this month I am pivoting a little to start driving more traffic to my TpT store. With that in mind, here are my goals for July 2022:

  • Add 10 TpT products to my store.
  • Write a Sticker Collectors Club class for Outschool.
  • Make 4 blog posts, 25 Instagram and Facebook posts, and 31 Pinterest pins.
  • Set my Fall schedule for Outschool.
  • An Adventure Date, Create Date, and 2 Family Game Nights.
  • Finish organizing my classroom and our front room.
  • Have a Free Yard Sale with everything we need to give away from organizing efforts.
  • Make dinner at home 12 times (this is a stretch with tech week, fair, and vacation all falling this month).
  • Walk/work out 15 times (I am starting a new health program this month, and I am hopeful).
  • Hike 8 times (we have a few tours and hikes planned in Seattle, so this should be okay).

I am really looking forward to our family vacation this month – it has been almost 6 years since we have taken a true family vacation to somewhere new and 10 years since we have flown anywhere as a family. We are running out of time for these family trips, so I am so glad it is working out. I can’t wait to share the adventure with you in a post later this month! Have you ever been to Seattle? What are some things you loved? What things did you think were over-rated? Let us know in the comments. ๐Ÿ™‚

May 2022 Goals

I know that it is the middle of May – May 18th to be exact. I still think it is important that I review my goals from April and put my goals for May out into the universe, so here we are. May hit me like a truck. We started with tech week and a very big adjustment for our cast and crew – one of our male leads was removed from the show and replaced with another actor on Monday of tech week. This meant we were scrambling to make sure he had the costumes he needed, as well as putting finishing touches to the rest of the costumes from the show. Throw in a broken zipper that needed replaced, finishing some custom-made pieces, and replacing a couple of shattered buttons and you had a recipe for crazy. Opening night and the second performance were wonderful, and we were looking forward to the rest of the show weekend.

Saturday morning, we got the news that the last 2 shows were being postponed, then we got the news that it was COVID related. My daughter tested and ended up as one of the positives – we never would have known because her case was very minor, thank goodness. The show has been rescheduled and we are gearing up for a successful conclusion this weekend. Everything seemed to be going smoothly again!

Then, Monday, I was hit with a horribly sore throat and no voice. That began my quarantine period which I spent mostly sleeping and watching a little bit of YouTube – I find bullet journaling and bento box videos really calming to watch. What was supposed to be a busy but wonderful week that included a visit from my parents, a theatre showcase, Prom, and a choir concert was suddenly very open. I did watch a few trainings. I drove my daughter to her mani/pedi and brow waxing appointments. I did her prom hair, but did not get to go to pictures. It was a very disappointing week.

This week, however, has started off really well. I do not have my voice or energy fully back, but I am out of quarantine (still masking) and able to work. I am attending a few fun things, including a networking event tonight and Wicked tomorrow night, and I am looking very forward to being a costume mom again on Friday.

Looking at my goals for April, I am actually really pleasantly surprised that I accomplished more than I thought. Here is my list and my review:

  • At least one: Adventure Date, Create Date, and Family Game Night – we did an Adventure and a Create date, but no Family Game Night. It was a really busy month.
  • Use SEO to edit current Outschool classes and update listings for summer- I have not looked into SEO, but I did update my listings for summer.
  • Add 10 new products to my TpT store โ€“ this should bring me to 50 – I made it to 50 products at the last possible second. But I did it!!
  • Create 6 blog posts, 25 Instagram posts, 25 Facebook posts, and 30 Pinterest pins – My stats were: 3 blog posts, 18 Instagram posts, 16 Facebook posts, and no Pinterest pins. I have a bunch of products and classes I need to get up on Pinterest.
  • Update TpT Play-Doh products to Modeling Dough products and work on Previews – I did not work on this at all.
  • Write 3 new Outschool classes including one escape room type class and finish summer schedule – I finished my summer schedule, but I did not write any new classes.
  • Make dinner 3 times a week – I did not do this – my average was probably 1.5x a week.
  • Walk 3 times a week – I actually did 9 walks in April, so that is over 2 per week.
  • Go on 6 hikes – I went on 3 hikes in April.
  • Log food and workouts in My Fitness Pal – I did not do this at all.

I felt that I hadn’t done well with goals, so I am pleasantly surprised to be sitting at about a 6 out of 10 this month. While I always want to hit my goals completely, I also always set bigger goals than I think I can complete. It’s the best way to push myself to accomplish more.

As we head into summer, I am trying to leave time in my schedule (and goals) to rest and relax. I am still pretty fatigued, so I am taking that into account for this month. Also, there are less than 2 weeks left in May, so I am going to try to set some smaller goals here and see how it goes.

  • Add 10 products to my TpT store.
  • Write 1 flex class and 1 escape room style class for Outschool.
  • Make 5 blog posts, 15 Instagram posts, 15 Facebook posts, and 20 Pinterest pins.
  • Update Play-Doh listings on TpT to reflect copyright laws.
  • An Adventure Date, Create Date, and Family Game Night.
  • Pay quarterly estimates.
  • Reserve tours and tickets for while we are in Seattle in July.
  • Make dinner at home 12 times.
  • Walk 4 times (energy depending).
  • Hike 2 times (energy depending).

Looking at this list, the thing I can see myself struggling with the most is making 12 dinners – any quick and easy recipes you can recommend? I have a few we haven’t had for a while, but I feel like I am in a rut as far as coming up with fun things to eat. If only we didn’t have to have dinner every. single. night…. Lol!

I hope you have a wonderful May – or what is left of it. Let me know below what goals you are working on this month so we can cheer each other on. ๐Ÿ™‚

February 2022 Adventure Date – Sistine Chapel Exhibition

This month found us traveling to Dayton to see the Sistine Chapel Exhibition. I was quite excited about this since I don’t know that we will ever travel to Vatican City to see the real thing. The advertising photos of the exhibit were amazing – darkened hallways full of perfectly hung and lit artwork. It looked very dramatic and like an almost intimate exhibit with a clear direction and lots of space.

Well, as we all know, looks can be very deceiving. I am sure that this art was hung somewhere like the pictures in the past, but for this exhibition, it was tilted against walls that were not really tall enough, so it all leaned away from you. It was bottom lit in a very bright, open room, so it really lost all of the ambience I was expecting. It was also difficult to navigate as there wasn’t a clear path, so people were going all directions. There was also an audio tour you could listen to, either on listening devices they provided or on your phone. The listening devices were not distracting – they were quiet and people held them to their ears to hear. The phones were very loud and definitely made it difficult to read or really get lost in the artwork.

In spite of the chaotic atmosphere, I was eventually able to “settle in” to the experience and really focus on the art. It was amazing to see up close – a very different view than you would ever get in person. You could see the expressions and light and shadows and movement in the paintings so well. It was all out of order, but of course the first thing was The Creation of Adam. There were also many other Old Testament stories in a sort of side passageway – these were the most dramatically lit, were actually mounted fully upright, and also felt the most secluded for viewing.

The bulk of the rest of the paintings fell into 3 categories – Prophet portraits, Sibyl portraits, and The Lineage of Christ family tableaus. The prophets and Sibyls were all people that had foretold part of the story of Christ, and they were all pictured with 2 messengers of God who seemed to be delivering inspiration or information. The lineage of Christ family tableaus showed ancestors of Christ as children with their fathers and mothers to evoke the holy family of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus. I thought these paintings suffered a little from the fact that they were leaned away from us – it would have been pretty amazing had they seemed to be looking down at us instead of fading away. We did think the implied movement and light in these paintings was really breathtaking. Here are a few favorites.

In the middle of the large room of artwork, there was a large reproduction of The Last Judgement. This is a very symbolic and interesting piece that I could have sat and looked at for a long time. I was also one of the youngest in the room, so the benches were not for me. Nevertheless, we did stand and ponder it for quite a while. It contains 390 separate characters, including Jesus, Mary, John the Baptist, saints, martyrs, angels, chosen ones headed towards heavenly bliss, and sinners headed towards eternal damnation. I did not get a good angle to get a full shot, but here are some closer photos of the figures. I find St. Bartholemew (who was martyred by being flayed and is pictured below Christ and to the right just a bit) pretty disturbing with his empty meat suit…

All in all, we walked out pretty happy that we had seen the art, but not fully pleased with how it was presented. We give it 3 out of 5 stars and have found that we hope to see the real thing someday if possible.

Have you been to any excellent art exhibits lately? Did you see the Sistene Chapel Exhibition? Or the real thing in Vatican City? Let me know in the comments!

February 2022 Goals

It is inexplicably the first of February – how did we get here so fast? It doesn’t seem possible, but here we are. Anyway, it is time to recap my January 2022 goals and look at what I want to accomplish for this month. I am actually really pleasantly surprised by what I was able to accomplish last month – not all of my goals, but lots of solid progress.

  • At least one: Adventure Date, Create Date, and Family Game Night – Yes! We did all of this!
  • Write aย 1:1 Phonicsย class on Outschool – Yup, in fact, I also made this 1:1 Confident Speakers class and this Scavenger Hunt Show-and-Tell class.
  • Add 10 new products to myย Teachers Pay Teachers StoreAnother yes! In fact, I added 15! which brings me up to 25 products.
  • Create 6 blog posts, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, and Pinterest pins – I did 5 blog posts, but I also did 24 Instagram posts, 27 Facebook posts, and 17 Pinterest pins. I’m going to count this as accomplished.
  • Make dinner 4 times a week – I did this 3/4 weeks – we had a pretty major family emergency when my daughter totaled her car this month (she is doing okay, no worries), so I am also pleased with this.
  • Go on 4 hikes – Only made it out 3 times, but with the family emergency, it just wasn’t a priority.
  • Walk at least 3 times a week – I logged 15 walks, so I am going to count this as done.
  • Log food and workouts on My Fitness Pal – I logged everyday starting January 3rd and I am down 4.8 pounds so far.
  • Record videos forย Crafty Phonics โ€“ Letter R Club flex classI did this and I feel very proud of them – just waiting on some learners for that class now.
  • Use my planner as a journal every morning and evening โ€“ I love my Rocketbook Panda Planner and I did use it everyday!

It feels really good to have done so well in so many areas. I am really looking forward to seeing how this month goes since it will be pretty busy. I hope that I have now put systems in place to keep things going in the right direction even when I have more going on. For this month, I have a lot of the same goals, but some variations.

  • At least one: Adventure Date, Create Date, and Family Game Night.
  • Use SEO to edit current Outschool classes to increase enrollment.
  • Add 10 new products to myย Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
  • Create 6 blog posts, Instagram posts, Facebook posts, and Pinterest pins.
  • Make dinner 4 times a week.
  • Go on 4 hikes.
  • Walk 3 times a week and lift weights 2 times a week.
  • Log food and workouts on My Fitness Pal.
  • Work on photography and previews for my TpT products.
  • Write 2 new Outschool classes including one escape room type class.

I am feeling really excited to start working on some new things this month. I have a lot to learn about SEO, product photography, and escape rooms, but I am really looking forward to learning new things. If you would like to be kept in the loop about my new products and classes, please sign up for my email list here:

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Do you have goals for February 2022? Share them in the comments so we can cheer each other on! We can do this!

Winter Wonderland Game – How to Make a Seasonal Candyland Board

I don’t know about you, but I love to play board games. You may recall all of our family game nights and trips to game cafes – there’s just something about eating yummy snacks and moving tiny figures around a board. When I started teaching on Outschool, I knew that I wanted to share games with my students, but it took me a while to figure out how that was going to work. I am happy to say that I seem to have cracked part of the code, and I’m here today to share one of my very favorites with you.

I have played many a game of Candyland, so I knew that I wanted to make a game that would play similar but online. Once I got my Canva subscription (which you should run to your computer and do right now if you do any type of designing), I realized I had everything I needed to create a fun game board, spinner, and cards. I am here today to walk you through creating the same type of game – but it doesn’t have to be winter. It could be candy and monster themed for Halloween. It could be a fun spring trip through different flowers. The only limit here is your imagination. Whatever version you are going to make, you will follow a few basic steps.

Step 1: You need to create a fun background for your game board. It should have different terrains and elevations for visual appeal and optimal game play. I chose a winter wonderland with an icy bridge, chilly waterfall, mountains, trees, and some hills.

Step 2: You need to decide where you are going to make the start and where your end goal will be. On this board, I chose to start by the waterfall and then inserted an Ice Palace in the distance to welcome players to the end of the game.

Step 3: It is now time to create a winding path from your starting point to your end goal. I chose to use blue hexagons because they gave me chilly vibes and they meant the path could naturally twist and still interlock.

Step 4: This is my favorite step. This is the part where you get to make 6-7 creative checkpoint areas. These will be the areas of the board that you put on the cards that players will draw throughout the game. They will either be thrilled to skip ahead of everyone else or crushed to have to retrace their steps by moving back. I love to give these spaces personality and really play up how fun they might be to the kids – Don’t eat too many marshmallows in the fort! Be careful, they might be throwing snowballs up ahead! Don’t worry, the Yeti looks scary, but he’s really a big softie. ๐Ÿ™‚

Step 5: You have created your areas, now you need to add some sort of marking to the actual spaces that people will go to when they draw those cards. I like to be sure there are 5-7 spaces between the special spaces, but you can make them as close or far apart as you like.

Step 6: Now is the time to make really fun names for all of your special areas. If my students are working on specific sounds, I will try to put them in all of the areas. If I have a mixed group or we are just working on language, I don’t stack sounds as much. This is another really fun step – I love making up names!

Step 7: The last step is also a naming step – you need to name your game. The name here was obvious before I even made the board, but please feel free to be as creative as you can with your name.

That’s it! You have a finished game board! Now you just need a spinner (make a circle like the one below and use a pencil and paperclip to spin) and some special cards (black and white versions are easiest on your printer).

Of course, if you don’t want to reinvent the horse, and if you would like some really nice words lists for L, R, S, and TH sounds, I have already done all of the work and you could just buy this resource in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It can be found under Winter Wonderland Game with R, L, S, and TH Target Words. I have a few other winter and arctic animal themed games coming really soon and a free SZ Snowman Guess Who Game available as well. I hope you will check it out and click the heart to follow me so you don’t miss any of my new products. You could also join my email list if you want to be the first to know all of my news.

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What was your favorite board game as a kid? What about now? Leave me a note in the comments if you found this helpful or if you have a suggestion for another game I should try to make. I have some others coming soon, but I am always looking for new ideas. Have a winter wonderful day! ๐Ÿ™‚