Monday, November 13, 2017

anniversary trip day three: epcot

epcot
Our first stop at EPCOT was just inside the gate-- pictures with Spaceship Earth!

inside spaceship earth
We enjoyed riding Spaceship Earth, too!  Even though we often ride together (the kids usually ride with each other when we go), it was nice to ride without their chatter-- or complaints that they "accidentally" selected Chinese for the audio and had no idea what was going on.

france
We went to Paris on our honeymoon fifteen years ago so it was fun to celebrate our anniversary in "France" with pastries and Kronenbourg 1664.

around morocco
Since it was just the two of us, we were able to explore the countries of World Showcase more than we usually do and loved wandering around Morocco.

restaurant marrakesh
We didn't have lunch reservations because we planned to do Food and Wine Festival booths, but ended up having a spectacular lunch at Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco.  We both ordered the lunch special and it was amazing: bread service, Beef Brewat roll and Jasmina Salad, Chicken Kebabs, and Baklava.

american adventure
I love to journey through American history in the American Adventure.

germany
We watched the trains in Germany and enjoyed a delicious snack from Karamell-Küche.

china
- Exploring China -

sunset
The sun setting over the World Showcase.

canada
We made our way back to Canada for dinner- if only it were actually that easy to explore the world!!  The Canada Pavillion always reminds me of my time living in Calgary and all of the fun places we explored (like Butchart Gardens and Johnston Canyon).

le cellier
We enjoyed dinner at Le Cellier, the steakhouse in Canada-- another place we haven't gone with the kids!
Dinner at Le Cellier: Canadian Chedder Cheese Soup, Porterhouse for Two, Lobster Mac and Cheese and Loaded Potatoes, and Maple Creme Brûlée. 

epcot at night
After dinner we walked around EPCOT and made a stop at Club Cool to try soda flavors from around the world.  While some of them (Fanta!) were great, the Beverly was NOT!  We were treated to frozen Cokes as an anniversary treat!

spaceship earth
- Spaceship Earth at night -

fireworks
We watched Happily Ever After from the car on our way back to the hotel after a fun day at EPCOT.

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

anniversary trip day two: animal kingdom

lunch at yak and yeti
Since we got back to our room so late, we slept in until around 10am (that doesn't happen often with the kids!!) and made it to Animal Kingdom in time for lunch at one of our faves, Yak and Yeti.  We started with the Pork Pot Stickers and Pork Egg Rolls and then I had the Seared Miso Salmon and Jacob had the Korean BBQ Ribs, so basically, we ordered our usuals and were totally happy!

expedition everest
Pictures with Expedition Everest-- even though the Tree of Life is the actual icon for Animal Kingdom, I think Expedition Everest is more fun.

riding ee
Our first ride (of this trip) on Expedition Everest-- quite possibly my favorite Mountain at WDW... Or it's tied with Big Thunder.

AK_BRADLEYFALLS1_20171112_406284862613.jpg
Posing with the previously mentioned Tree of Life.

safari one
We usually go on Kilimanjaro Safari first thing in the morning so we weren't sure what to expect with an afternoon ride, but we were pleasantly surprised with the number of animals out and about!

elephants on safari
Ellie made sure that I promised to take pictures of the elephants for her (she calls herself Ellie the Elephant!), especially the new baby elephant.

zebras
Zebras on the side of the road!

rhino
- Rhino crossing time -

pandora one
This was our first trip to Animal Kingdom since Pandora- The World of AVATAR opened and we were amazed.  The level of detail put into this land is awesome!

pandora two
We found ourselves just wandering around and taking everything in-- and that's not something we often do in other parks.

na'vi river
 -Na'vi River Journey, a boat ride through a bioluminescent rainforest -

pandora three
We made sure to check out the new food in Pandora, too!  The Nightblossom at Pongu Pongu was refreshing, though a bit on the sweet side, and the Cheeseburger Bao Buns were a fun afternoon snack at Satu'li Canteen.

ak at night
We made sure to stick around until after the sun went down so that we could see the bioluminescent forest of Pandora come alive and we saw the Tree of Life Awakening on our way out of the park.

Since we were traveling without the kids, we made sure to book dining reservations at places we don't normally go with them-- they like fine dining, we just don't like paying for them to eat at expensive restaurants!!  Our first "fancy" dinner was at Narcoossee's at the Grand Floridian.  We arrived a bit early and enjoyed listening to the live music in the lobby of the Grand Floridian before going to dinner.
narcoossee's
Narcoossee's has a dress code and flip-flops are not allowed-- perfect time for Mickey shoes!!  We were seated at a table by the window with a great view of Cinderella Castle, Space Mountain and the Electrical Water Pageant.

dinner at narcoossee's
Narcoossee's: Red Wine Flight, Filet Mignon, Coconut Creme Brûlée, Almond Cheesecake (I would go back just for this dessert!)

fireworks from narcoossee's
We watched the Holiday Wishes fireworks from the deck at Narcoossee's-- another great way to end a fun day in the parks!

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

anniversary trip day one: disney springs and magic kingdom

We were blessed with the ability to head to Disney World for a week (sans-kids!!) to celebrate our fifteenth anniversary this year.  Grandma came out to stay with all of the kiddos (and had the pleasure of keeping up with our sometimes ridiculous after-school schedule) and we were off.  We actually left the night before "Day One" of the trip because we figured it would be easier on Ellie if she said goodbye and Grandma put her to bed-- like we do on date night-- instead of leaving in the morning before she was awake.
on the road
We picked up pizzas for dinner (for Grandma and the kids) and then headed out-- we were treated to a BEAUTIFUL sunset as we crossed over Lake Norman!

the boathouse
The BOATHOUSE at Disney Springs was our first real stop of the trip and we had an absolutely delicious lunch!  We originally planned to sit outside overlooking the water but it started pouring so we opted for a table inside.  We started with the Firecracker Shrimp and then split the Filet Mignon Sliders (OMG, literally one of the best things I've ever eaten) and the Coconut Shrimp.

wandering around disney springs
Luckily the rain subsided right about the same time that we finished lunch so we wandered around Disney Springs for a bit.  It was so weird to be able to explore without constantly keeping track of five kids and answering countless questions!

wilderness lodge
When we were done at Disney Springs, we checked into our room at the Copper Creek Villas at Disney's Wilderness Lodge.  Since it was just the two of us, we were able to stay in a Studio on-property instead of off-property like we usually do with all of the kids.  Our room had an awesome view of Bay Lake and the Copper Creek Springs pool.  Once we got everything settled into the room, we took the boat to the Magic Kingdom!

veteran's day
- Veteran's Day at the Magic Kingdom -

move it, shake it
The Move It! Shake It! street party was just starting down Main Street as we came in-- so fun to start the trip with Mickey!

pictures with the castle
Of course, we had to stop for pictures of Cinderella Castle, and pictures WITH Cinderella Castle.

castle and dinner
We spent the early evening on our favorite rides (like the Peoplemover and Carousel of Progress!) before putting our name in at the Plaza Restaurant for dinner where we enjoyed yummy sandwiches with a great view of the castle.

happily ever after
After dinner we staked out spots in the middle of the street to watch the Happily Ever After fireworks show.  It was our first time seeing it and while it was not as emotional/nostalgic as Wishes, it's still an excellent show.  

extra magic hours
Since we were staying on property for this trip we were able to take advantage of Extra Magic Hours, so when the park closed at midnight, we enjoyed another two hours of Disney magic with shorter lines!

mk rides
Love those ride photos!

MK_MINETRAIN_20171112_8125419908.mp4
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train -

kiss goodnight.mp4
One of my absolute favorite Disney experiences is "The Kiss Goodnight" at the end of a long day at the Magic Kingdom.  It usually plays every half hour after the park closes, though this time we watched it fifteen minutes after Extra Magic Hours ended-- so at 2:15am!

rainy magic kingdom
It started raining right after the kiss and the park cleared out quickly, well, besides us crazy people who stuck around to enjoy an empty Main Street!

early morning
There's nothing better than ending the night with an empty Magic Kingdom!!  We took the boat back to Wilderness Lodge (by ourselves, lol), made our way down the eerie boardwalk and were back in our room a little after 3am.  It was an awesome start to our Anniversary trip!!

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

november fun

playing the piano
When Hannah comes to our house, one of the first things she wants to do is play the piano, and she has cousins that love playing with her.

playing the piano
Sweet girls playing the piano.

silliness
Sweet and silly faces with Auntie!

fun on the swings
When it's nice outside, Ellie loves going into the backyard to swing.

she's FOUR
Her last night as a three year old and first day as a FOUR year old.  Time goes by too quickly!

birthday girls and grandma
The birthday girls and Grandma.

her fave places
On Ellie's actual birthday we went to Viva Chicken for lunch and then shopped until we dropped at Target.

target fun
Having fun with the Christmas decor.

birthday cookies
Being his usual sweet self, Christopher made a giant cookie cake for Ellie's birthday!

wrestling match
Nick joined the wrestling team at school this year and we had fun going to his matches.  I never knew that wrestling could be so entertaining!!

fun with grandma
We always have fun when Grandma is in town-- lots of trips to Target, out to lunch and relaxing at home!

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