Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Family Time at Disney for the Holidays

Like I mentioned in my previous post, we had planned a family trip to Disney World at the beginning of December, but sadly Dallas had a last minute business trip that made him meet us in Orlando a couple days late.  Daxton and I spent the first couple days with our good friend Tiffy and her two youngest children.  On the second day Daxton started to develop a pretty nasty cold so we stayed at our hotel resting and medicating on day three.  We were so glad to pick up daddy from the Orlando airport that night.  The following day (Day 4) Daxton woke feeling really good so we still decided to do Magic Kingdom.  Both Daxton and I LOVED having daddy with us.  There is no place like Disney world, especially at Christmas!

Family picture at the entrance
It was actually pretty freezing in Orlando the week we were there, which is why Daxton was getting so sick.  We ended up having to buy Dax a new hat and gloves and dress him in layers.  Dallas still decided to wear shorts though...

I love all the beautiful details that Disney displays during the holidays.

We arrived a little after 10am since we wanted to make sure Daxton was feeling better before spending a day at the park.  Right as we entered and started making our way down main street the "Move It, Shake It" parade was starting.  We loved the chance to wave at all the different characters as they passed by on giant, brightly colored floats.  I loved watching Daxton's face light up as he saw each one.

Family picture in front of Cinderella's castle

Our first destination when we go to Magic Kingdom is usually Tomorrowland where you can find the Buzz Lightyear ride.  Daxton LOVES toy story and has become quite obsessed with Buzz Lightyear specifically so he loved this ride.  There were no crowds and wait lines, so we were able to ride it a few times over and over.  I loved watching these two spin in their spaceship!

As we were walking out of the Buzz Lightyear ride, we looked to our right and saw Buzz Lightyear himself, once again with NO LINE!  This little guy about lost his mind!  He ran right into Buzz's arms and held on so tight.  I couldn't tell what he was saying, but Daxton had a full on conversation with Buzz squealing with delight.  Buzz even let Daxton push some of his buttons, which made Daxton lose his mind...again.

This boy LOVES Buzz!

Love Daxton's look of pure joy as he hugged Buzz.

Next we rode the People mover (bottom left pic) where he was talking about hugging Buzz the entire ride.  Then we played with the giant globe on water (bottom right pic) where Daxton continued to talk about Buzz...

Then we walked over to the cars and realized he was finally tall enough to not only ride, but to drive the car!  He stopped talking about Buzz at this point, at least for a little while.

Of course he wanted to ride with daddy, which was so cute because he couldn't even see over the steering wheel.

He loved every minute of it and would even make sound effects as he drove the car.  Dallas, of course, was in charge of the pedals, while Daxton steered.  He thought it was super funny to let go of the wheel at times and have the car bounce back and forth.  I looked back a few times and got a kick out of watching their heads swing different directions with each hit.

There were literally no lines for almost all the rides.  It was the best time of year to go to Disney for sure.  We hit a lot of rides multiple times.  Daxton loved playing with all the different toys before we went on the Winnie the Pooh ride.  It was so funny to see him dressed in winter clothes!

We also had a blast over at Circus Circus, where Dallas took Daxton on his first roller coaster!  We were so excited that Daxton was finally tall enough to go on it, that we may have forgotten to ask him if he even wanted to ride it...
Turns out he did not...
He didn't cry, but he was very verbal about letting us know he did NOT want to go on it again.

My favorite Disney movie is "Beauty and the Beast" so I love the new Fantasyland.  Last year we had eaten at the Be Our Guest Restaurant in the Beast's castle, which I LOVED.  But this year we decided to try something new and eat dinner at the Liberty Tree Tavern.  The food was wonderful; a great Thanksgiving feast.  While we were walking through Fantasyland, I wanted to get a few pics in front of the Beast's castle and Daxton jumped up to join me, but he said he couldn't smile.  Such a funny little boy.

One of Daxton's favorite spots in Magic Kingdom is oddly the Sword in the Stone.  Maybe he thinks that one of these times it will finally come out for him?  Not sure, but this kid will stay and play on this stone, pulling at that sword for hours if I'd let him.  Thank heavens there is usually a line of people waiting to take pictures so our time is always limited.

During Daxton's afternoon nap, we found great seats along the parade route for the Festival of Fantasy parade.  It was so much fun to watch it with daddy.  Even more fun to watch Daxton's reactions to all the gorgeous floats and characters.

Belle, Beast, Tianna, Naveen, Cinderella, Charming, Elsa, and Anna

My favorite was seeing Daxton's eyes light up when he saw Peter Pan's float come by.  He waved and squealed when he saw Captain Hook and tick tock crock.  Such a happy little pirate boy we have.

After the parade, we walked around Frontierland and found Woody and Jesse!  We had no clue that they'd be out and Daxton's joy could not be measured.  He ran into their arms and held on so tight.  Woody and Jesse were so cute with him and let Daxton hug them for almost a minute.  Woody even let Daxton twirl his sheriff's badge.  I wish I could put into words how incredible it was to see the magic in Daxton's face.  He was truly meeting his friends.  

Such an adorable cheesy grin!

Daxton wouldn't let go of their hands when we joined the picture.

We spent the rest of the afternoon, exploring Adventureland and circling back around to go on multiple rides.  Since there were no crowds it was a pretty magical and perfect day together as a family. As we were heading to our dinner reservation at Liberty Square Tavern for dinner, we were able to see the Frozen castle lighting and Wishes spectacular.  It is so amazing all that Disney does to make each persons' stay magical.  The castle was absolutely stunning and my favorite is when it's decked out in icicles at Christmastime.

After dinner we headed back to the condo, because Daxton started to get tired and his cold started to come back.  Sadly, he spent more of the evening and morning coughing which made for a VERY long night for mommy.  The next morning when we woke and he still wasn't feeling better, we decided to head home instead of going to another Disney park.  We didn't want to push him and have him be miserable all day.  Plus we were pass holders...we could come back any time :)

Top left picture was a very tired toddler refusing to wear pants in the condo.  
On our drive home that day, we saw the most interesting cloud structures across the sky.  I had never seen anything like it.  Daxton spent the entire drive either sleeping or looking our the window, which is another reason why we could tell how sick he was.
We really did have a great trip.
There were some complications with Daddy's schedule and Daxton ended up getting sick, but to be honest, or time at Disney couldn't have been better.  I love making memories as a family, especially knowing these incredible magic years do not last long.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Orlando with Tiffany and Co.

Last year Dallas, Daxton, and I spent a few days at Disney World during the beginning of December.  Disney at Christmastime has a whole other element of magic and since the crowd levels are so low at the beginning of December it was the perfect combination for a repeat trip this year.  I booked our hotel (nonrefundable) a couple months out, since the deals were so great.  Sadly, Dallas had a mandatory business trip come up which made him miss the first half of our scheduled trip.  Instead of spending the week alone, I convinced Tiffany and her two youngest children, James and Lucy, to join us.  
We couldn't check into our condo until 4pm, so we took our time heading up to Orlando, went grocery shopping, ate dinner, and got settled into our place.  We of course stayed up way too late chatting while the kids slept.  
The next morning we decided to visit Gatorland.  I've posted about this fun little jewel of Orlando a few times and knew that Tiffany and the kids would LOVE it.  Plus they have great deals for Florida residents, so it's pretty cheap.  We had a fun few hours checking out all the different animal enclosures and watching the different alligator and reptile shows.  

The mandatory picture at the entrance to Gatorland

It was pretty fun to see the different Christmas decorations spread throughout the park.  They even had them hanging in the middle of the alligator ponds.  I just kept thinking to myself, "Who had to climb in there with all those gators to hang up a wreath!?"

One thing I LOVE about Gatorland is a huge portion of the park is built up on wooden boardwalk above different ponds so you can see the gators.  Every single railing has chicken wire throughout the sides so you can't climb, slip, or fall through (for obvious reasons...there are gators below.)  It makes it very kid friendly for active toddlers who just want to run from exhibit to exhibit.
The kids had a blast looking at all the different birds, several of which were resting on the backs of alligators.

Daxton was in serious heaven with Tiffy, James, and Lucy around! He loved the extra attention and opportunities to play with big kids.  Tiffy even taught him how to squish a penny, which was the highlight of his day!

Just look at that smile!
He wouldn't let that penny go for the rest of the day.

There are a few different shows and we were able to see all of them except the reptile show.  The first one we watched was called the "Gator Jumparoo Show" where they dangle whole chicken above the gators at which point gators will jump out of the water for food.  It's pretty crazy to see how high they can jump!  They have to be really motivated obviously, but puts into perspective how simply being in a boat, canoe, or kayak next to gators just isn't smart.

Lucy and James got their faces painted.  Probably the only time it is ok to paint your face in Florida would be November and December otherwise you'd just sweat it right off!

There were also several different birds we could look at and even a bird aviary where Tiffy, James, and Lucy got to feed them.  As you can see from the bottom picture below, Dax was in NO mood to interact with the birds.  He was very happy to watch them from outside the aviary as he munched on goldfish crackers.

Other highlights from our day at Gatorland...

The kids also loved the alligator wrestling show.  There were a couple times where I was nervous Daxton was going to try and jump the fence to join the gators!  After the show, Lucy and James got to sit on one of the bigger gators.

Gatorland also has several different boardwalks to explore.  We had a lot of fun walking through the wetland marsh looking at all the different plant and animal life.  The kids loved running up and down the boardwalks.
Seriously, so pretty and so different from where I was raised.

I'm madly in love with Spanish moss, especially with sunlight shining through!

Goofing off along the boardwalk...

We also loved exploring the alligator breeding marsh.  It was a fun boardwalk trail about a quarter mile long circling the perimeter of the breeding pond.  The gators in that pond were massive!  It was pretty crazy to see how close our toes were to these animals with only a bit of wire between us.  Daxton, of course, loved every minute of it!

Such a beautiful pond

We couldn't leave before catching at least one train ride around the facilities.

It was such a fun day and all because of this girl right here...
Our Tiffy!
Love her so much and the joy and love she shares with all those around her.  She's such a blessing in my life.

After finishing up at Gatorland, we thought it'd be super fun to spend the evening at Downtown Disney.  We had a blast eating at the Rainforest cafe and then exploring all the different stores.  One of the reasons I LOVE Downtown Disney is because the stores allow so much hands on play.  I don't have to buy anything for Dax, he plays with the toys and then puts them back on the shelf.  

Daxton's favorite store was the Lego store, where he spent over 15 minutes just putting together different little Lego men.  It was pretty cute to see his little fingers put pieces together.

We also loved the World of Disney store.  Daxton especially loved pretending to be a pirate and playing with all the Toy Story toys.

One of the main reasons I also love to do Downtown Disney at Christmastime is their Santa Claus.  Look at that Santa!  I swear he even convinced me he was the real thing!  The kids had fun telling Santa what they wanted for Christmas.

I was a little nervous to see how Daxton did with meeting Santa, because the previous year he mostly just cried.  But this time he loved him!  I think it helped that we had just watched a bunch of Mickey mouse shows with Santa in them.  When it was our turn he literally ran into Santa's arms and gave him the biggest hug.  It was so stinking sweet!  When Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas Daxton looked a bit confused and then said, "Presents?"  This age is great!  Doesn't matter what we get him as long as he gets to unwrap it.

This cheesy grin is definitely a Santa success story!
Although we missed daddy and wished he could have been with us, we were so glad that Tiffy, James, and Lucy could join us on some of our adventures.  We loved exploring Gatorland and Downtown Disney.  Sadly, Daxton started to get sick while we were hanging out at Downtown Disney.  It came on pretty quickly and by the time we were back to our condo he had developed a fever and cold.  Instead of spending the next day at Disney's Hollywood Studios on our own, we opted for a day of rest and healing at our condo to help him get feeling better.  That night daddy flew in to join us for the next couple days of our vacation and we couldn't have been more excited to see him!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Day to Day in December

December was another great month for our family.
The day after returning from our Thanksgiving adventures we began the fun process of putting up the Christmas tree.  Daxton was at such a fun age and wanted to help with every little thing.  The best part is he would spend about five minutes on each ornament, choosing the best spot for it and making sure it was hanging just right.  Needless to say, he was pretty funny to watch!

So much concentration!

I love, love, love the Christmas holidays and all the little details we've accumulated over the years of being married.  Some of my favorites are the big red and gold glittered butterflies and the children's nativity set.  Daxton got pretty good with naming all the different pieces.

Some other fun activities from December included:
Christmas shopping with daddy and watching baby Claire

A fun playdate at his buddies house where they turned a mattress into a slide.  All you could hear were giggles coming from the room.

We also went to the Fort Lauderdale holiday boat parade with our Aunt, Uncle, and cousins.  It was our first time attending and we LOVED it!  Each of the boats/yachts were decked out in Christmas lights and most were playing music as they passed by.  Some even had fireworks!  We loved watching the guys wearing hydropacks as well.

It was seriously so much fun to be there with family as all these beautiful ships went passed.

It was pretty cute to watch Daxton wave at each of the boats and then snuggle up to daddy.  The last boat had Santa with reindeers and pineapples leading the way.

After the cold front (in the 50s and 60s) from Thanksgiving and early December passed it was back to park dates wearing shorts and t-shirts.
This is the beginning of the love affair with little Ayla.  From this playdate on, Ayla is all Daxton can talk about!

Some other fun highlights...
Christmas shopping at Costco with this cheesy boy

Saturday morning snuggles with daddy...

That soon turned into Saturday morning wrestling matches with daddy...

We also had some good friends come over for a Christmas Sunday dinner.  After dinner we broke out the frosting and sprinkles for the kids to decorate their own Christmas cookies.  It was quite the mess, but the kids had a blast!
At one point I looked over and Daxton was pouring a bunch of sprinkles into the frosting bowl and then eating straight frosting spoonfuls.  I guess it's better than licking it just off the cookie?

I was super excited that my friend Alex could come to dinner as well.  Alex is from my hometown and recently accepted a job in the Fort Lauderdale area.  It had been years since we'd seen each other and it was so good to catch up and hear all about her adventures.

We also went to the Miami bowl game where BYU was playing.  I have to admit I was more distracted by these two cuties than the football game in front of us.  Since there were no crowds, Ayla and Daxton literally had any seat they wanted and would sit in one for about a minute and then move to the next.  They were quite busy the whole game and had a blast climbing on the stairs and swinging on the railings.

I love this shot from behind and their cute feet barely reaching off their chairs.

Giving some football hugs

Along with sitting next to the Khofield family, we also got to sit next to the Steele family.  Daxton and Ayla loved playing with Hayden who quickly joined in the fun of swinging on the railings.
These three were so cute together!

Our little BYU group on the side

It was Daxton's first football game, made perfect by playing with friends, no crowds, and yummy treats.  Not to mention he got to meet Cosmo.

Another fun adventure we had in December was with Daxton's buddy Jack.  He and Jack are seriously little kindred spirits.  They both have the same sensitive, sweet, and silly personalities.  Sadly, we don't get to see them much since Jack is in a different ward and in preschool during the week.  April and I wanted to make sure we planned a fun outing for them during Jack's Christmas break, so we chose to do the Miami zoo.  I love this zoo, but because it's so massive, it's much more enjoyable when you rent a bike.  The boys had a blast riding in the front looking at all the animals.

It was so cute to watch them snuggle and talk to each other in the front.  It was a great time for us moms to catch up as well!

We especially had a lot of fun feeding the giraffe.  Daxton talked about it's long tongue for days after.

As a reward for being so stinking cute they got matching blue slurpies; Daxton's first experience with a slurpee.  It's clear to see that it was a hit!

There are a couple different splash pads at the Miami zoo, but I actually like the smaller less crowded one near the Amazon entrance.  It was the perfect spot for us to eat our lunch and then let the boys run around like crazy kids.  I had totally forgotten to bring an extra change of clothes for him.  So after all the water festivities, he became the pantless wonder; exploring the rest of the zoo in his diaper and t-shirt.

Playing in the fountains 

They also loved playing in the shower and thought it was so funny when the water would fall in their eyes.  We had a great rest of the day, seeing all sorts of different animals and spending time with each other.  My favorite was watching them walk hand in hand out to our cars.   I sure do love these sweet boys!

Just a few more highlights from December...
introducing potty training (still not trained), playing catch with a coconut in only his diaper, learning to ride a bike with Hayden, reading with daddy, and asking to be a rhino for the day (clearly he needed a haircut!)
It was a pretty great month for sure!

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