Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Don Does Disney!

Disney World with Don Rahn is always an adventure!! This year was no different.....

The first two trips back in 2006, and 2007 were magical for all of us. Then we started exploring other parts of our country, and Don realized that seeing the "real" world with nature and animals was better than visiting the "artificial" world of Disney World. He still appreciates it, but just in a different way.

His different way of appreciating definitely keeps us on our toes! :) I think he truly enjoys Disney World as much as us, but just won't admit it. ;) 

You can make your own decision as you view the pictures below  that he so thoughtfully posed for - some with more excitement than others...

Enjoy "Disney with Don Rahn!" :

a little TOO happy on the first boat ride of our vacation - on our way to the Magic Kingdom!
positioning his backside intentionally in the picture of the two girls

Not happy with the Teacups at all!

Definitely not impressed with The  Storybook Circus section of New Fantasyland!

C for Carleigh (or Cinderella) - Don doesn't care!

It  looks like he did enjoy riding Everest with Carleigh!

He's smiling because this pic was snapped just as Katie was yelling at Carleigh and running away from herr!

Ohmigosh! Dumbo is so scary!

Just cruising along on the Tomorrowland Speedway.

He's always happy to see his buddy Donald!

Not thrilled to be sitting in a fancy chair, in the Animal Kingdom Lodge, waiting for a great meal at Boma.

Having sweet dreams as he cuddles with Hans, the Loveasaurus Rex - his newest purchase from Animal Kingdom.

He named him Hans, and had great fun placing him around the room when we least expected it...including in the shower for an unsuspecting "me" to see at 6:00 a.m.

He's not in this pic, but he and Carleigh had a great time building your own roller coaster and then getting in the simulator to
"ride" it.

really not excited to be posing in France, in Epcot.
definitely not impressed...

It's hot on the  streets of NYC in Hollywood Studios.

A perfectly placed bench for the men to sit on in front of a Ladies Finery Shop on the streets of NYC, in Hollywood Studios
He is VERY excited about his BIG glass of soda that the waitress brought him at Whispering Canyon Cafe in the Wilderness Lodge. She was tired of refilling his "normal" sized glass - so she brought him this one.

He enjoyed building Lincoln Logs with Katie while  waiting for our table.

probably Instagramming another artistic Disney shot - as we wait for the bus to the airport.
He decided he was going to "display miserable" or at least "not excited" on this trip, but I think he did have some fun! Or maybe just faked it for the official photopass photographers!

The highlight of the trip and the only thing on his "must-do" list was the Star Tours ride at Hollywood Studios - a Star Wars themed interactive ride. He rode it 7 times in the one day that we were at the Studios. 4 of those times were by himself while the rest of us were at one of the shows and the other 3 were with the rest of us immediately when the park opened - he was the first rider of the day! 

Here's a photo outside of the ride area:

I love my wonderful husband for being a good sport about returning to Walt Disney World and finding ways to bring humor and fun to the hot, sweaty days that we spent touring the parks!

Our Disney trip was full of crazy times, and riding the rides was one of the highlights - this year we were able to get ALL of the ride pictures that were offered...I'll explain the way we achieved this in the next post and also share all of those pictures. They are worth the look!

Stay tuned for:  How to take full advantage of the Photopass system, and get about $400 worth of professional photos for only $150.00

Monday, July 29, 2013

Why I Love Disney... and why we have been 6 times in 7 years!

Why we return to Disney…

     I am starting this post as I sit in the airport, waiting to return home from Disney trip #6 since 2006. Many people share my joy in planning and going to Disney, and others shake their heads and can’t understand why we would return time after time…well, here’s my reasoning for those who are interested :

     I’ve loved Disney “stuff” forever, with Mary Poppins and Tinkerbell being my favorite, but the first family trip that we took back in 2006 with a 6 year old and a 4 year old sealed the deal.

Our Disney princesses in 2006 on our first trip to WDW!
      Those who know me, know that I love history and with my love for history comes my fascination in Walt Disney (the man) and his vision of life and creation of happiness and joy for others. Though, Don will counter that with his vision being to figure out a way to “suck” money out of innocent families. I know Walt Disney is not true “history,” but the history of Disney and the creation of the movies, theme parks, animation studios, etc. truly fascinates me.  My first and only trip as a child was in the mid 1970’s with my family, prior to returning in 2006 as a mom and wife. 

     I’m a planner, but I also believe in trying to achieve the impossible.  I live by Walt Disney’s quote, “If You Can Dream It, You Can Do It!” 

     I apply it to my career choices, my classroom teaching, inspiring my students, our family life, and our family adventures. I don’t give up on a project or a vacation idea until I have exhausted all possibilities and know that it is realistically (or financially) impossible.  Walt Disney lived by that and his quotes and philosophies (for those that care), really are inspiring…yes, it sounds corny, but ….. :) 

      Also, Walt Disney World (when done with advance planning and appropriate expectations) really can be the happiest place on earth. It would be another whole blog post, on how to have that “perfect Disney vacation” – especially during the summer months, but we have pretty much achieved it on each of our trips. Yes, we sweat non-stop, and have our little disagreements about who wants to do what. But, in 6 trips (a cumulative 36 days spent in the World), we have never had that complete and utter meltdown or family “discussion” that resulted in tears or not speaking to each other for extended periods of time.  

     Don has come to the point that he could take it or leave it. His philosophy being that there’s a big, big world out there that is left to explore, and we’ve done Disney – let’s do something else. I agree with him and don’t “Need” to return to Disney, but it is still a fascination for me, and if given the opportunity to return, I’ll find a way to sneak in a quick trip to WDW.  

     Probably surprising for many though, honestly…if given the choice of returning to Disney World for a week or exploring out west or a new National Park – I’d choose the National Park!  Though Don isn’t as excited about WDW as I am, he is the ultimate “good sport,” with our trips here.  Many of you know that his wit and sense of humor are contagious, and he definitely brings that to our WDW trips – whether he is excited or not. 

Here's a photo comparison from our first and sixth trip to Disney - it's fun to compare heights of the girls to key parts of the pictures.....

2013 - notice the bear's nose that they are rubbing for good luck.


 So...will we return to Disney World again? Yes...but probably not for another 2-3 years. We've got lots of other exploring to do around the world and country. Will Walt Disney continue to inspire me to do the impossible? Most Definitely Yes!!!

Stay tuned for "Don Does Disney!" - his approach to making a trip to see the mouse amusing and entertaining...or at least bearable for all!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Family Beach Trip - the tradition continues...

Having grown up going to Myrtle Beach with my family every summer, I knew I wanted my girls to have those memories of spending a week at the beach every summer with their family. And so...10 years ago, I began the task of finding a "less crowded, less overwhelming, family friendly" beach that my mom and dad would be willing to vacation on. Emerald Isle, North Carolina (the "Southern Outer Banks" as it is referred to) surfaced and we have been returning for the past 10 years.  I love this time with my family, and am so happy that we found a place that my mom and dad, sister and brother-in-law are able and willing to return to every year!


2004 - 10 years ago - Emerald Isle #1:

 2013 - Emerald Isle #10:

We have the typical beach vacation with mom, dad, kids, grandparents, aunt, uncle - eating, playing and relaxing...but we have established  EVENTS that have become traditions every year. In the spirit of "Seldom A Dull Moment," our traditional events have evolved into non-traditional events...

Here's the pictorial narration of this years non-traditional events:

Boogie Boarding:
Even boogie boarding becomes an event for this group! Katie started off the week refusing to get in the water. She's had some traumatic big wave attacks in previous years, and didn't want to venture in this year...she was happy to observe from the sand and find her own way to relax...

The others - Don, Carleigh and my sister Patty, and brother-in-law Ev took to the water and waves right away - they had to upgrade the boogie boards mid-week for more speed and agility. Once upgraded...they formed their Boogie Board Gang (club was too "boring") They each had a name and away they went into the water to wait for the perfect swell!!

the Gang -  (l-r) Bullet, Barbie, Tipper, and Flipper - Katie observing
Waiting for the perfect wave...

Getting Ready...

Got it... altogether!

As high tide would come in - the sand allowed for a "Lazy River" to sort of form at the shore - Katie enjoyed that and explored the possibilities with a boogie board. - Yes, nontraditional boogie boarding!

Barbie and Bullet decided to join in on the Lazy River fun...
 To keep with the non-traditional boogie boarding.....my mother wanted to play in the lazy river, but needed a little assistance. So...my sister jumped up to help.
Yes...my mother is being WALKED by my sister! Seldom a Dull Moment!!

 After exploring the Lazy River concept, Katie decided it wasn't that scary and ventured into the waves to try real boogie boarding...she was very successful and proud of herself for conquering that fear!
She was even willing to hang with the big boys!

Going back for more!

Feeding the seagulls takes on a whole new meaning for this group! Towards the end of the week every year, we share with the friendly beach birds!

This year, Don found a breakfast potato that was too happy to eat!

In the theme of Tom Hanks and "Wilson" from Castaway, Don and "Happy Potato" went to the beach to see if it could become seagull bait.

Patty and Carleigh started out sharing, to get them interested...

notice blue cup (near bottom left) with Happy Potato waiting to be lifted away

Then the seagulls got interested and started exploring...
 Then Gigantor (the biggest of them all - aptly named by the girls) swooped in and took off with dear Happy Potato!
the fork and cup fell to the ground - and he was a happy seagull - RIP Happy Potato!
We also had some fun time just relaxing, flying kites and playing football on the beach....

 Now for the family pictures....those of you who know us, know that we don't just do that traditional last night on the beach family photo. Nope, we have to have clothing changes and multiple night pictures - and LOTS of photo bombs, which turn into either arguments or laughter...or a bit of each.

It starts with posing on the beach - we've got to get those sun and surf bathing suit photos:

Then girls on the beach at dusk with fun clothes on:

yep...this one sums up the behind the scenes during this photo shoot

Mid-week we tried a blue shirt picture - not bad, but most of the pics had my eyes closed:

it was very windy that night...

and then the photo-bombing begins...

Every year we do a "girl shirts" photo shoot. This is the 5 girls with a variety of shirts - usually about 3 wardrobe changes. This year was no different!:

#1 Tank tops - with "Take Me Away" on the front:

Then the wardrobe change for #2:

 #2: Old Navy - "The Beach is Calling Me" shirts

 #3 - "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" shirts:

 Notice Ev photo-bombing all of these pics in the background - up on the deck!

Our last night picture has changed over the years - tie dye, black shirts, and khaki/white. We returned to the khaki/white theme this year and spent about 30 minutes with these memorable pictures:
The group - 2013

the original 4 Wests

5 girls on the beach!!

We added a new component to the last night pics this year...empty picture frames:

not quite sure what was being discussed, but it must not have been good - I've got my teacher face on!

Photoshoot bloopers:

 Random other moments of fun:

And good-bye beach...'till next year...