Birthdays

Celebrating Ryan’s birthday at National Harbor

A few weekends ago, we spent the night in nearby National Harbor, MD to celebrate Ryan’s 40th birthday – yep, a big day! National Harbor is right across the Potomac River from Alexandria…just a short drive over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

We started the weekend fun with swimming at the hotel pool. Here are a few photos that Ryan snapped…

We worked up quite an appetite, so after we cleaned up, we headed to the waterfront area for supper. We had pizza at Fiorella’s Italian Kitchen – and yep, with chocolate milk for the little kid and wine for the big kids!

After supper we did a quick stroll through the harbor area. We didn’t stay too long because a storm was rolling in. Here are a few photos we took as we were dashing back to the hotel. Yeah, we had a great view of the Capital Wheel and the Wilson Bridge against the dark sky.

After the weather cleared up, we headed back to the harbor area for a ride on the Capital Wheel. We’ve been on the wheel quite a few times over the past few years (we often take visitors there), but this was our first ride at night.

The nighttime view from the top was AWESOME! Our pictures didn’t turn out too well since the gondola windows were wet with raindrops, but you can still make out the buildings and boats below. Check it out!

The next morning after we checked out of the hotel, we walked around the harbor area again…because we of course had to visit the Awakening sculpture and the Peeps car too!

Then we met up with our good friends Dan, Lindsay, and their son for lunch at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ – messy but sooooo yummy!

Oh, and we can’t forget about Ryan’s birthday present. Noah picked out a Lego set of a Coast Guard airplane – who would have guessed, right?!?!

Thanks, Ryan, for giving us a fun reason for a weekend getaway!

Categories: Birthdays, Capital Wheel, Fun outings, Maryland | 1 Comment

Celebrating Noah’s 6th birthday!

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Noah’s 6th birthday. Yeah, he’s growing up fast!

As part of the birthday fun, the weekend before the big day, we took Noah and his friend to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. If you missed our previous post about our trip to the aquarium, you can read it here. We all had a great time!

On his birthday, Noah got to wear this fun hat at school, and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to him during lunch – pretty cool!

The kindergarten classes were supposed to visit the Smithsonian’s National Zoo that day. Unfortunately, the field trip had to be postponed because of the rain. Noah was really bummed (he was looking forward to seeing the pandas on his birthday), so we snuck in some indoor fun after school instead. We rode the metro to the Lego Store!

When we got home, our good friend Barbara came over to help us celebrate. We had Papa John’s pizza (Noah’s favorite!) and chocolate cake. The cake had a cars theme – perfect!

Noah opened some of his presents that night too. He got lots of cool stuff for his birthday: Legos, books, a fire truck, a New York City bus, pullback cars, and a Spiderman toy – all the necessities for a six-year-old!

Noah also got a model train set – that was his big birthday wish. Ryan found this cool 1976 Lionel train set online – a lucky find on eBay! Ryan had a lot of fun setting it up in the basement beforehand. He even made a “grassy” tabletop for the track. Noah loved it!

If you’re curious about the hearing protection…yeah, the train is a little loud…

Noah’s birthday was low key this year, but he definitely had a great time!

Stay tuned to read about the field trip to the National Zoo. Noah still got to see the pandas, just a few days later than originally planned.

Categories: Birthdays, Kindergarten, Legos, Trains | 1 Comment

A fun trip to the National Aquarium

Two weekends ago, we drove to Baltimore to take Noah and his friend to the National Aquarium. We visited this aquarium over Thanksgiving and Noah loved it…and so he wanted to visit again as part of his birthday fun.

Our first stop at the aquarium was the “Blacktip Reef” exhibit. We saw blacktip reef sharks, whiptail rays, angelfish, puffer fish and more.

We learned about shark teeth and what sharks eat too…

But our favorite part of this exhibit was the giant green sea turtle named Calypso. In 2000 this sea turtle was rescued when she was stranded in Long Island Sound. She weighed six pounds at the time and had a bad infection in one of her front flippers. They had to amputate her flipper because of the infection. She could not be returned to the wild, and so she was donated to the National Aquarium. It’s estimated that Calypso is about 20 years old and weighs 500 pounds. Yeah, that’s a big turtle!

We didn’t see Calypso on our last trip to the aquarium, so she must not have been out and about – she’d be hard to miss! Ha.

Next we headed to the “Living Seashore” hands-on exhibit. The boys got to see clearnose skates up close – so cool!

They learned about beaches through this fun interactive digital touch table…

And they got to see moon jellies up close too!

Then we walked through the maze of massive aquariums. We saw anemones, cardinalfish, clownfish (Nemo!), tangs (Dory!), sea stars, eels, sea cucumbers, groupers, creole fish, cowfish, seahorses, and porcupine fish, just to name a few. Whew, so many fish!

In the “Amazon River Forest” exhibit, we saw yellow dart frogs. Can you spot them? Yeah, ewwwww…

One of the coolest things we saw was scuba divers feeding some of the bigger fish in the “Atlantic Coral Reef” exhibit. Check it out!

But as cool as that was, their favorite exhibit was definitely still “Shark Alley.” Of course!

As we walked out, we passed through the underwater viewing area of the “Blacktip Reef” exhibit, and we got an even better view of Calypso and the blacktip reef sharks…

Here is a photo of the boys posing outside of the aquarium…

And here is a photo of them on the car ride home. Yep, they were tuckered out. It was a busy afternoon!

Noah had a great time at the aquarium – we all did! Stay tuned to read more about Noah’s birthday fun!

Categories: Animals, Aquariums, Birthdays, Fun outings, Maryland | Leave a comment

Noah’s 5th birthday

Earlier this month we celebrated Noah’s 5th birthday. Can you believe it?!?! He’s growing up fast!

Noah brought chocolate-covered donuts (with sprinkles!) to share with the Fishies and Froggies preschool classes.

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Here are a few photos that one of his teachers snapped. Fun!

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Noah opened his presents as soon as he got home. Yeah, he was antsy! As you can see, this was definitely the birthday for Legos – so many Legos! He also got books, toy buses and board games.

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Later that night we had Oreo cookie cupcakes with our good friend Barbara. You can never have too many treats on your birthday, right?

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Noah’s birthday was low key this year, but he definitely still had a great time. We’ll have a few more mini birthday parties over the next couple of weeks too with family visiting from South Dakota and Ohio. Why not celebrate for the entire month, right? You only turn 5 once!

Categories: Birthdays, Legos, Preschool | Leave a comment

Family Fun in Minnesota: Part 2

As you read in our previous blog post, we had an AWESOME time in Minnesota with Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod…and we haven’t even told you about the rest of it yet!

After we finished up at the Minnesota Children’s Museum, we headed to the Mall of America. Our first stop was the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch. Noah worked up an appetite after his busy morning at the museum!

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After lunch we stopped by Lego Land – Noah and Ryan couldn’t miss that!

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Next we headed to Nickelodeon Universe in the middle of the mall for rides, rides, rides! First we went to two of Noah’s favorite rides from our previous trip: the Big Rigs and Diego’s Rescue Rider (or as Noah calls it, “the crazy bus”).

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Then we tried two new rides – new to us anyway. Noah rode the Crazy Cars (twice!) and then the Barnyard Hayride roller coaster.

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That’s all the rides we had time for that Sunday…but don’t worry, we went back for more fun the next day!

That Monday Noah rode the carousel with Grandpa and Blue’s Skiddo with me…and we went back to the Big Rigs and the barnyard roller coaster too – multiple times!

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Noah even talked us into going on the Log Chute. We rode our log through the mountain’s tunnels…and at the end we took a 40-foot drop into the water. Yeah, we got wet!

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Noah had a blast going on rides with Grandma and Grandpa at the Mall of America, and Ryan and I were glad to get in on the fun too!

Here’s a compilation of mini videos of our fun at Nickelodeon Universe. It’s a little longer (about three minutes), but it’s definitely worth watching! As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.

Yep, all the kids (the little one and the four big ones) had a blast!

We headed back to the airport later that afternoon. While we were there, Noah got to take another one of his favorite rides – the airport tram! Check out this short video of Noah on the tram. He got a front row seat!

Our trip went by fast, but we had a great time. Noah can’t wait for his next adventure with Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod!

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Categories: Birthdays, Fun outings, Grandparents, Minnesota, Trucks | 1 Comment

Family Fun in Minnesota: Part 1

The last weekend in May we flew to Minneapolis to hang out with Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod for a long weekend. (Yeah, we’re a little behind with blog posts!) We flew in Saturday afternoon, and Grandma and Grandpa picked us up from the airport.

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We spent the first night just hanging out at the hotel. Grandma and Grandpa brought a few presents for Noah’s birthday. He got Joinks building sticks, two pull back cars and a Mickey Mouse beach towel – lucky kid! Grandpa and Noah had fun constructing shapes with the Joinks. Can you tell what this is?

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The new towel came in very handy too since we also went swimming that night. Here are a few fun photos of us in the hotel pool. Thanks for taking the pictures, Grandma…and thanks for the cool pool noodles!

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The pool noodles served another fun purpose – noodle fight! See for yourself in this short video. As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.

The next morning we went to the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul. This was Noah’s second trip to the museum – yeah, it’s pretty cool. One of Noah’s favorite things from our first visit last September was driving the “T” Metro Transit bus, so that was our first stop this time.

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And here’s a short video of Noah driving the bus. “Keep both hands on the wheel, Noah!”

Next we headed to the life-size ant farm – another favorite from our first trip. Noah, Grandpa and Ryan crawled in and out, back and forth, and up and down through the giant maze of tunnels. We thought they had gotten lost for a while, but they finally found their way out. Whew!

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Noah even got Grandma to chase him through a log!

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Our next stop was the grocery store.

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We checked out many of Noah’s other favorite exhibits too. Noah got to build with magnetic gears, construct things with wood pieces, move blocks on the conveyer belt, use a crane to move foam blocks onto a truck, tour the garden on the roof and so much more. As you can see, the big kids got in on the fun too!

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Noah had a great time at the museum. Even though we’ve been there twice now, we still haven’t seen it all…so we’ll definitely have to go back again. Stay tuned to read more about our recent adventures in Minnesota with Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod!

Categories: Birthdays, Fun outings, Grandparents, Minnesota, Swimming | 1 Comment

A Magical Trip to Disney World: Part 3

As you read in our previous blog posts, we had an AWESOME time at Disney World…and we haven’t even told you about the rest of it yet!

A quick note: If you’re reading this post in an email, you’ll definitely want to open it on our blog webpage so that you can see all of the fun videos. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.

On our last full day at Disney World, we took a ferryboat across Bay Lake for another day at Magic Kingdom. We spent the first half of the day revisiting Noah’s favorite spots from the previous day. Just like the previous day, our first stop was to see Mickey Mouse backstage at his magic show. This was Noah’s third time seeing Mickey—he loved that mouse!

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Next we boarded the Walt Disney World Railroad for a ride to Fantasyland.

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Once at Fantasyland, we headed straight to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to ride the roller coaster again. Yes, this was definitely Noah’s favorite ride from the previous day—he wouldn’t stop talking about it!

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Did you notice who was riding in Ryan’s shirt pocket? Mickey!

And here’s a quick video of our ride.

And of course, we couldn’t leave Fantasyland without riding the Mad Tea Party teacups one last time! This video is a little longer (just over a minute), but it’s really fun. Can you find Noah and Ryan? Hint: They’re in a green teacup.

We took one last ride on the honey pots in The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh too. Here’s a fun photo of Noah playing with the toy bees in the beehive while standing in line.

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Next we headed to Tomorrowland where Noah and Ryan jumped in the race cars at the Tomorrowland Speedway. Noah loved zooming down the track. “Faster, Daddy!”

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After all that excitement, we took a quick break and had lunch. The coolest thing about lunch—even cooler than Noah’s circle-shaped PB&J sandwich—was having a great view of Cinderella’s Castle. Not too shabby, huh?!?!

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After lunch we headed to Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin to take a ride through toyland in a space cruiser. As Junior Space Rangers, our mission was to use our cannon lasers to zap Zurg’s robots that were trying to destroy all the toys in toyland. Ryan zapped the most robots—he saved the day!

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One of our favorite Tomorrowland rides was the Transit Authority People Mover. This was a relaxing and breezy mile-long ride through Tomorrowland.

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Here are two short videos of our ride on the People Mover.  You get a good view of the racetrack that Noah and Ryan were on earlier.

Before leaving Tomorrowland, we stopped by Stitch’s Great Escape to check out what that mischievous alien Stitch was up to. He was up to no good—running through the crowd, spraying water on us, and even stinking up the whole room with his burp—phew! Even though Stitch was quite pesky, Noah still wanted to bring him home…so he picked out his favorite Stitch from the souvenir shop. Yeah, Stitch is cute in a strange sort of way. Ha.

StitchAfter we finished up with Tomorrowland, we boarded the railroad again and headed for Adventureland to check out Pirates of the Caribbean. We boarded a small boat and set sail through a series of pirate scenes, including a raid on an island town and boats firing cannons at each another. Stay clear of that Captain Jack Sparrow—he’s up to no good too!

Our next stop was Frontierland where we rode Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This roller coaster was made to resemble the gold mines of Utah’s Mountain Valley. The mountain spanned 2.5 acres—it was huge! We sped through the curves and dips around Big Thunder Mountain’s peaks and caverns—so cool!

Don’t worry, while this roller coaster was fast and a little higher than the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, it was definitely OK for Noah’s age. We never went upside down, and the dips weren’t that steep—whew!

Here is a short video from our ride. The angle isn’t that great, but it’s still fun. You can definitely tell that Noah loved it. In fact, he loved it so much that we had to ride a second time!

And here are a few photos of us outside of Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Noah was all smiles. The Liberty Belle Riverboat is behind us in the bottom photo.

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After we finished up at Magic Kingdom, we boarded the boat back to our hotel. We spent the night lounging at the pool and relaxing in our hotel room. We could even see the Wishes fireworks display from our balcony—so cool!

After packing our bags and checking out of our hotel the next morning, we rode a bus to Downtown Disney where we ate lunch, did some last-minute shopping for souvenirs, and played at the Lego store.

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When it was time to head home, we rode the Disney Magical Express bus back to the Orlando airport. We had one final adventure at the airport—the airport train! Check out this short video of Noah and Stitch riding the train…

Noah’s favorite things about Disney World were meeting Mickey Mouse and riding the roller coasters and monorail. We only saw a small portion of Disney World, but that’s A-OK—that just means that we’ll have to go back to see the rest!

Visiting Disney World was the perfect way to celebrate Noah’s 4th birthday! We had a blast!

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Categories: Birthdays, Disney World, Florida, Fun outings, Swimming, Trains | 1 Comment

A Magical Trip to Disney World: Part 2

As you read in our previous blog post, we had an awesome first day at Disney World…and the next day was just as fun too! Early that morning, we took a ferry boat from the Wilderness Lodge across Bay Lake to Magic Kingdom. We had lots of rides to go on and lots of Disney characters to meet, so we didn’t want to delay!

We started out on Main Street USA where we hopped aboard the Walt Disney World Railroad for a 1 ½ mile ride around Magic Kingdom. Riding the rails was the perfect way to help us learn the lay of the land. We rode by Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland…and we eventually returned to Main Street USA.

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Tinkerbell flew by for a photo op as we left the train station—just like magic!

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Then we headed straight to Town Square Theater to meet Mickey Mouse backstage at his magic show!

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And here’s a fun video of Noah and Mickey. “Hot dog, hot dog, hot diggity dog!”

As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.

We got a great glimpse of Cinderella’s castle as we left Town Square Theater…

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Next we had lunch with Winnie the Pooh and all his pals at Crystal Palace. Noah met Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore and Tigger too! They danced, bounced and hopped togetherand Pooh and his pals signed Noah’s autograph book too. Even the characters without fingers signed his book—that’s talent!

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Here are two short videos of Noah with Tigger and Eeyore. Bounce, bounce, bounce!

After lunch we headed to Liberty Square and boarded the Liberty Belle Riverboat for a 15-minute ride on the Rivers of America. Fun fact: While the Liberty Belle is a genuine steamboat, it actually moves through the nine-foot-deep river on an underwater rail—very cool!

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Then we headed to the Haunted Mansion for a tour of the infamous rickety old house. Don’t worry though, while the ride through the old house was dark, it wasn’t that scary. Our “ghost host” was actually quite friendly! We even got to see ourselves as ghosts. BOO!

Walt Disney World Photo Gallery Disc

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Next we headed to Fantasyland for rides, rides, rides! Our first stop was a ten-minute boat ride around the world in “It’s a Small World.” Here’s a short video of our ride—and yes, the jingle will get stuck in your head!

Next we went on Peter Pan’s Flight. We rode a pirate ship through the story of Peter Pan and the Darling family’s adventures in Never Land—and of course, their many encounters with Captain Hook!

Then we headed to The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh for a ride in the honey pots through the Hundred Acre Woods. Noah loved watching Tigger pop up here, there and everywhere. Noah even had fun standing in line—a good thing too since we rode the honey pots multiple times! While standing in line, Noah played with the toy bees in the beehive, played the fruit-shaped drums, and drew on the touch screens that looked like flowing walls of honey. Who knew waiting could be so fun?

Another one of Noah’s favorite Fantasyland rides was Prince Charming’s Regal Carrousel—we rode on the horses three times!

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And here’s a short video too…

Noah also loved riding the oversized teacups on the Mad Tea Party ride from Alice in Wonderland. You can make the teacups spin and whirl faster and faster by turning the metal wheel in the middle of the teacup—whew!  Noah loved the teacups so much that he rode three times in a row! Once was enough for me though.  Ha.

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And here is a short video of our little spin master at work…

After the teacups, we headed over to the circus for a quick ride on Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

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Noah’s favorite ride on our first day was definitely the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster. We sped through the twists, turns and hills of the dwarfs’ diamond mines.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESHere are a few pictures from Disney’s cameras--it was a wild ride!

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Check out this fun video!  Can you spot us?  “Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it’s off to work we go!”

We ended the day by visiting Goofy and Donald Duck at Pete’s Silly Side Showsilly indeed!

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After we finished up at Magic Kingdom, we rode the monorail to the Contemporary resort for a quick bite for supper (yummy pizza!), and then we boarded the boat back to the Wilderness Lodge.

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We had an awesome—but very busy—first day at Magic Kingdom. Noah was so tired that he fell asleep on the floor within minutes. He tried so hard to play with his cars…but he was out! We’re glad he fell asleep right away though because we had another fun-filled day at Magic Kingdom coming up. Stay tuned for more!

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Categories: Birthdays, Disney World, Florida, Fun outings, Trains | 1 Comment

A Magical Trip to Disney World: Part 1

Two weeks ago we went to the most magical place on earth – Disney World!!! This was a very special trip because it was Noah’s 4th birthday and our first big family vacation with just the three of us.

We flew to the Orlando airport, and we took a 45-minute bus ride on Disney’s Magical Express to the Wilderness Lodge resort.

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We could see the pool from our balcony, so Noah wanted to go swimming right away. It was HOT, HOT, HOT that afternoon, so we didn’t need much coaxing. Ha. We splashed around in the pool for about an hour. Noah even went down the short waterslide!

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After swimming we had to quickly wash up because we had special supper plans with the big cheese – Mickey Mouse! We took a short boat ride from the Wilderness Lodge across Bay Lake to Chef Mickey’s at the Contemporary resort.

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Noah got to meet and eat with Chef Mickey, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck – the whole gang was there! They laughed, danced, hugged and gave high fives. Noah even got them to sign his special autograph book that Grandma Debbie made for the trip – thanks Grandma! Needless to say, Noah wasn’t the least bit interested in eating…too many fun distractions!

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We could see the monorail zoom by overhead while we were eating at Chef Mickey’s, so Noah of course wanted to check that out next. You know how much he loves trains! We hopped on the monorail for a quick trip around Disney World. We had some great views of the area. We were even able to see Cinderella’s Castle in the distance – very cool!

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After our short monorail ride, we went back to the Contemporary resort to join Captain Hook and Mr. Smee for a pirate cruise on the Seven Seas Lagoon. Before boarding the boat, Noah got to meet the pirates, shake their hands (and hook!), and snatch some pirate booty (snacks) for the cruise.

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The host of our boat was Patch. Once we got on the water, we played Disney World trivia games, laughed at Patch’s pirate jokes, saw the electrical water parade, and sang sea chanteys. “Yo-ho…yo-ho…a pirate’s life for me!” Patch and the rest of our mateys even sang “Happy birthday” to Noah!

The best part of our pirate cruise was watching the “Wishes” fireworks display from the water. What a great show! Check out this short video of the fireworks.

As a quick reminder: If you’re reading this post in an email, you may need to open the blog webpage in order to view the video. To do so, just click on the title of the post (the link in blue) at the top of the email to open the blog in your web browser.

We had a special surprise back at the dock. Peter Pan was waiting to greet us and wish everyone a good night!

PhotoPass_Visiting_Disneys_Contemporary_Resort_7294861719As Mickey Mouse would say, “What a magical day!” Stay tuned to read more about our recent adventures at Disney World!

Categories: Birthdays, Disney World, Florida, Fun outings, Swimming, Trains | 1 Comment

Grandparent-Palooza Part 2

A few weeks after Grandma Debbie and Grandpa Rod flew back to South Dakota, Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Don (“Gamma Dindy” and “Papa-a-Don,” as Noah calls them) drove in from Ohio for Noah’s birthday. We were so glad that they could help us celebrate! We spent the first half of their visit preparing for and enjoying Noah’s birthday party. If you missed our earlier post on Noah’s birthday bash, you can read it here. Thank you Cindy and Don for helping with the party! Noah had a great time!

We spent the rest of their visit just relaxing at home. Noah read lots of books with grandma and put lots of puzzles together with grandpa.

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Not surprising, Noah had a heap of presents to open from grandma and grandpa. They got Noah lots of cool stuff (they spoil him!), but his favorite present was a racetrack for his Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. Noah got quite a few new cars from his friends at the party too, so we spent many hours on the floor testing each and every car on the new racetrack. Zoom!

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That Monday Noah stayed home from daycare so that he could spend one more day with grandma and grandpa before they had to head home to Ohio. We spent most of the day outside playing t-ball, running in circles with the parachute, and climbing on the jungle gym. What a great afternoon!

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We’ll see you soon, Grandma Cindy and Grandpa Don!

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Categories: Birthdays, Grandparents | 1 Comment

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